Based in Phoenix, AJJ is celebrating their 15th year as a band by releasing the best album they've ever made. With their wonderfully weird turns of phrase and oddball word pairings that define vocalist Sean Bonnette's lyricism, combined with an impossible-to-duplicate counterpart in bassist Ben Gallaty, AJJ is simply one of the greatest bands to ever exist.
Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties
Aaron West and The Roaring Twenties is as much a band as it is a story. The band plays Americana, and the story follows a man named Aaron who, after a series of devastating losses, wanders the country looking for purpose, direction, and redemption. Both are the creation of Dan Campbell, best known as the vocalist of The Wonder Years.
How does one even attempt to describe an artist as enigmatic as DC's Bartees Strange? Born in the UK and raised in Mustang, Oklahoma, Bartees Strange draws from his many varying life experiences to create a sound completely his own.
One listen to Caracara calls to mind the grandiose nature of bands like The National, Explosions In The Sky, and Bon Iver, but the band's roots in the DIY, hardcore-adjacent Philly scene makes more intense acts like Pianos Become The Teeth and Deafheaven just as likely influences.
Little do people know, Chris Farren was born hot, which is why he named his most recent album Born Hot. The sensitive-goofball dichotomy Chris has become known for mixes brilliantly with his inventive spin on classic power-pop, with flashes of folk, punk, and even ‘50s doo-wop. Simply put, he's perfect.
Church Girls—the latest emerging indie post-punk outfit to come out of Philly—deliver urgent catharsis in their music, providing “a glimmer of hope amidst nihilism,” says bandleader Mariel Beaumont. Their upcoming new album expertly tackles themes of addiction and despondency in a poetic will to move forward towards healing and developing healthier habits,
"Play fast." It's a phrase tied with Michigan’s Dogleg since the very beginning, when guitarist Alex Stoitsiadis taped the words to his guitar, signifying to the crowd exactly what they were about to be experiencing. Since that time in 2016, the project has gone from a solo bedroom-emo dream to a mature and fierce four-piece punk force.
With the sincere, pensive songwriting of bands like Into It Over It and oso oso, and a unique vocal that’s not too far off from The Hotelier, Virginia's Downhaul is band you should keep your eye on. Their 2019 debut album Before You Fall Asleep connected almost instantly; it's a little bit emo, a little bit twang... and full of a lot of songs you're inevitably going to get stuck in your head.
The thing about Boston's Future Teens is that they just get you, no matter what you’re going through or where you’re at in your life or relationships. It's the reason why pretty much every song on their latest album Breakup Season hits home, and hits hard.
Genreless and just as disjointed as they are cohesive, Los Angeles-based newcomers glass beach use mathy guitar leads, catchy drum grooves, melodic basslines, and the constant interplay of horns, synths, and even the intermittent theremin to set the perfect scene for vocalist J McClendon’s stunning vocal performance on their ambitious debut, the first glass beach album.
Hit Like A Girl
Hit Like A Girl is as much a band as it is a movement. Fronted by Nicolle Maroulis (they/them), who is also the founder of the band's own non-profit No More Dysphoria, the NJ-based project serves as a way to inspire others to use their voices like never before.
Jeff Rosenstock was an anxious kid who grew into an anxious adult, creating music along the way with bands like Bomb The Music Industry!. Now he plays with his bi-coastal band of rad musicians, mixing punk heart with diverse instrumentation and occasional accuracy. Jeff has spent most of the last two years composing all of the music for the Cartoon Network breakout program, Craig of the Creek, which began airing in 2018.
John-Allison "AW" Weiss
From power-pop anthems to soft folky tear-jerkers, John-Allison Weiss’s core values run deep. Despite a professional battle as a queer artist in an industry focused on marketability, Weiss collected cred on tour with rock legend Lou Reed, wrote with heroes like Tegan Quin and Kevin Devine, and cultivated a community of diehard fans. In 2018, Weiss came out as nonbinary.
Jupiter Styles frontman Sean Neumann (who also plays bass and sings in the Chicago-based band Ratboys) is a familiar face in the Midwest DIY scene, touring extensively throughout the world since 2012 while working from the road as a freelance journalist for The New York Times, Rolling Stone, ESPN, NPR, the Associated Press, and more.
After an initial collection of releases that dove deep into the surface-level stuff that help keep our minds off of ourselves––video games, TV shows, fantasy worlds, and food––this young indie/emo two-piece from Washington, DC, has created a universe all their own on their long-awaited debut, Somewhere City.
oso oso's Jade Lilitri writes songs bigger than himself, making for music that’s ambitiously complex and captures the spirit of modern day optimism. Their latest album, basking in the glow, was met with widespread praise upon its release; Pitchfork gave it the coveted Best New Music title, Billboard called it a “massive musical leap forward,” and Paste Magazine declared it to be “one of the best pop-rock records of 2019.”
Formed out of the ashes of hopelessness and toxic friendships, Tallahassee quartet Pool Kids displays an impressive technical precision, highlighted by searing guitar riffs, dynamic lyrical prowess, and an abundance of passion. Their debut album, Music to Practice Safe Sex to, showcases genre-defying elements of math + pop rock and was backed by Paramore's Hayley Williams.
Prince Daddy & The Hyena
New Album Cosmic Thrill Seekers, from Albany's Prince Daddy & the Hyena, is an odyssey of epic proportions… a great, galloping sonic road trip across space and time… boomeranging around a horn of punk, pop, indie, garage rock, and orchestral. With Queen-style arrangements and theatrics, their music is equally joyous and challenging; a punk rock, mental health-oriented declaration of: ‘time is a flat circle.’
The name Proper. is a reference to something vocalist Erik Garlington hears all the time — “you talk real proper” –– as if his blackness comes into question based on how he speaks. Proper., both as a band and their debut album I Spent The Winter Writing Songs About Getting Better is a direct response to that, and to the homogeneity of punk. It’s the band’s vision of a more inclusive world for the present and the future.
Queen of Jeans
If it weren’t for the fact that both vocalist/guitarist Miriam Devora and guitarist Mattie Glass were each the tokenized female (and queer) members of their respective bands, Queen of Jeans may have never existed. Their mutual frustration became the glue that bonded them, and drummer Patrick Wall brings a unique pop rhythm to their stylistically-varied sound to create the band's own incomparable entity.
Building off their previous albums—AOID (2015) and GN (2017), which feature bright, youthful Americana narratives centered around soft vocal cadences and fluid, melodic lead guitars— Chicago's Ratboys capture the bombastic, electrified fun of their live show in a bottle on their upcoming new record, and truly showcase their growing chemistry as a tight-knit group.
Roger Harvey is a name the world should know, twice over. His music is expansive and atmospheric, spiritual and welcoming, beautiful and soul-searching. It often feels like he time-traveled from the 1970s, drawing inspiration from artists like Willie Nelson, John Prine, & Neil Young yet his music has a uniquely of-the-now touch.
Los Angeles based songwriter Rosie Tucker’s songs are worlds in themselves. They start in conversation with an immediate environment: small, detailed, the characters and landscapes drawn vividly, with life and wit. Then they zoom out to reveal a wider world.
NJ's Save Face is the project of vocalist and guitarist Tyler Povanda, but he could never do it alone. Povanda is the nucleus around which friends, former tourmates, and scene veterans revolve, making Save Face a completely freed and ever-changing entity with Povanda at the heart since 2012, triangulating Queen, Weezer, and Saves The Day into punkish blasts of wiry, intricate guitar-rock.
Named for the way people have mispronounced her family’s name since, well, forever, talker is an outspoken grunge-pop project fronted by Los Angeles songwriter Celeste Tauchar. After years playing with electro-pop band FRENSHIP (Columbia Records) and playing to crowds like Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Lollapalooza, talker's latest single "Keep Me Safe" proves that it's time for this young powerhouse to take centerstage.
Dual vocalists/guitarists Jaybird Parkhurst and Steffi Vigoren shared a vision: to emulate Taking Back Sunday style vocals “but in a sweet way." With drummer Matt Harris, Termination Dust's album Growing Down is full of bright, dreamy pop tracks and delivers a punk-leaning vulnerability for the anxious and existential, calling to mind inspirations like Built to Spill, The Courtneys and Modern Baseball.
The Wonder Years
What Philadelphia's The Wonder Years do so effortlessly is no small feat; through poetic lyricism, ambient guitar swells, and Death Cab-levels of crashing momentum, the band truly transforms. On their latest album Sister Cities, these six friends take a massive, unexpected leap forward both sonically and thematically, speaking confidently to the world at large.
You may not be immediately familiar with the name Timothy Heller, but you should. Called “a tremendously emotive singer-songwriter with the uncanny ability to evoke nuanced, intimate emotions through vulnerable lyrics and breathtaking vocals” by Atwood Magazine, Timothy has been releasing new music over the last few years, leading to her first solo EP.
Brooklyn's Tree River is a journey. Their upcoming EP, produced by Kevin Dye of the band gates, reflects the duality and harmony of frontman Trevor Friedman and guitarist Phil Cohen: Friedman’s naked, diaristic, blood-red narrative approach, and Cohen’s intricate, acute, and varied compositional imagination and precision. It's colorful and exuberant, almost stunningly so.