The 10 live vocalists you need to hear right now, as chosen by Drones

a press shot of drones

Drones vocalist Lois McDougall has helped cement the band’s place among the flourishing UK underground in recent years, thanks in no small part to her ferocious live performances and incendiary, politically-charged lyrics. So, when we wanted the lowdown about some of the world’s finest unsung talent, we knew exactly where to turn.

So, here Lois joins us to talk us through the best vocal talent that might have been passing you by until now – and Justin Timberlake. Or, if you want to use her catchier title: The Best Rated & Underrated Live Vocalists According to Lois McDougall of Drones. You can catch the video to Drones’ new single, Inferno, at the bottom of the page.

Lucas Woodland (Holding Absence)

“Lucas is an extremely talented singer (and a lovely person!). He’s written some melodies with some very ambitious pitches, and he hits them live every time. When playing with Holding Absence recently, I noticed how well he takes care of his voice. No drinking or smoking before the show. It’s all herbal teas and water for Lucas. Pure dedication.”

Becca Macintyre (Marmozets)

“Becca has the most diverse tones in her vocals, it’s crazy. I love listening to the journey of her voice, the waves and jumps in style she’s capable of making all within one song. She goes from belting powerful high notes, to soulful vocals, with screams somewhere in between. Somehow, she manages to deliver with even more power live. The band are so much fun to watch. If you haven’t seen them yet, do it.”

Laura Jane Grace (Against Me!)

“What a beautiful soul, with a beautiful voice to match. I had the pleasure of seeing Laura play a secret show in a small coffee shop in London a couple of years ago. She was so genuine and put so much heart into the acoustic performances of all the best Against Me! songs. The room was so small –about 50 people – that she ended up playing out on the street so that people who couldn’t get in could hear too. What a legend.”

Ren Aldridge (Petrol Girls)

“Ren’s live performance is absolutely mesmerising. I remember the first time I saw Petrol Girls live – I was in awe. They have such a raw energy that stays with you long after their set. Ren’s vocals are brutal. Her delivery of the songs makes you feel like you’re being scrutinised in a way that you’ll come out of their show a better person, having had a revelation of some kind… It’s hard to explain – go see for yourself.”

Anthony Green (Circa Survive)

“When I was introduced to Circa Survive, I loved Anthony’s voice instantly, but it wasn’t until I saw them live that I was truly blown away. His live performance is captivating and he nails every note. The emotion with which he sings is beautiful, not to mention his lyrics, which are brilliantly haunting.”

Em Foster (Nervus)

“Em has been an inspiration for me since I was about 11 years old. Em used to play in bands with my brother, and I always loved the melodies that they produced. Oh Joy by Nervus is so perfect to me. It’s so nostalgic of youth – heartbreaking and joyful at the same time. Knowing the actual meaning behind the song, it is very cleverly written. I like when songs can have multiple meanings. When I watched them play it live, Em sang the song so well that I may have done a little cry…”

Dallas Green (City and Colour/Alexisonfire)

“I mean… how does he do it? Honestly, maybe the rest of us should just go back to sleep. Enough said there.”

Thomas Jenkins (Straight Lines)

“One of my favourite voices is that of Thomas Jenkins. I would recognise his voice anywhere. It’s so vibrant and unique. Straight Lines are generally one of the most underrated bands I’ve ever come across. I’ve seen them live a few times and the vocals are always spot on. The passion from Tom on the Freaks Like Us album in particular is so good.”

Justin Timberlake

“Nope, he’s not rock and nope, I’m not joking. JT is insanely talented. I was lucky enough to work with him not long ago and watched his set from side stage. His performance was so passionate. He doesn’t miss a note and is such a natural performer. I mean sure, he’s had a lot of experience, but if he’s still emitting such powerful energy at his gigs, it goes to show he’s a very genuine performer.”

Judah Akers (Judah & The Lion)

“I’d never heard of this band until seeing them live at Roundhouse recently. They were the support act and absolutely owned the crowd. Judah is a great performer. It didn’t matter that a lot of people didn’t know their songs, he just went with it and got them involved. His vocals certainly didn’t let him down. I think it’s a testament to any vocalist if you come away from their gig singing their songs when it’s the first time you’ve heard them.”

Drones’ new album Exiled is out on 9th March via Lockjaw Records. Watch the lyric video for single Inferno below: