Between their wonderfully weird turns of phrase and oddball word pairings from vocalist Sean Bonnette's lyricism, and an impossible-to-duplicate counterpart in bassist Ben Gallaty, Phoenix-based folk punk outfit AJJ is simply one of the greatest bands to ever exist. FFO: Neutral Milk Hotel, The Mountain Goats, MAGA guillotines
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 The Wonder Years vocalist Dan Campbell.
American poetry club
american poetry club is six kids in a basement, not too far from you, doing their very best to capture the sound of self-esteem. they don’t have it down quite yet, but they’re putting in the work, and they’re getting closer all the time. RIYL: Los Campesinos!, Ratboys, Told Slant
We need power pop more than ever. Enter Bad Moves. Formed in 2015, the D.C.-based band has performed throughout the U.S. and U.K., shared stages with Jeff Rosenstock and The Hold Steady, and even been animated into an episode of Cartoon Network's Craig of the Creek. Once we can all stand in a room together again, they intend to tour.
Born in the U.K. and raised in Mustang, Oklahoma, Bartees Strange is 2020’s indie-rock weirdo-hero. Even Ryan Reynolds says so. It’s post-punk, glassy indie rock, grimy hip hop, and blackened dancefloor pop. FFO: The National, TV On The Radio, Death Grips
Caitlin Bender, Jon Ahn, and Garett Cassidy are buds who play fast, catchy, adventurous jams. Their genre is hard to pin down, but it's mathy, heavy, and poppy with punk aesthetics, so if you want to say pop punk, that's up to you. FFO: Worriers, Swearin, Jimmy Eat World
Philadelphia band Caracara contains multitudes. They balance grand, hair-raising anthemics with a cutthroat sensibility from Philly’s hardcore-adjacent DIY scene, triangulating Pianos Become The Teeth, The National, Deafheaven, and Explosions In The Sky.
Not enough are talking about this: 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 takes on classic power-pop, with flashes of folk, punk, and even ‘50s doo-wop. Simply put, he's perfect.
Covey isn’t just a band; it’s a universe of childhood traumas, rendered through indie rock and figurine painting. U.K.-born, Brooklyn-based musician Tom Freeman pulls from his past to create Covey’s multifaceted world, complete with fictional characters, narratives, and plot twists. His music is devastatingly honest and chiming punk, folk, emo, and alternative rock.
"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, careful songwriting of bands like Into It. Over It. and oso oso, and Hotelier-esque vocals, Virginia's Downhaul is a band to watch. It’s a little bit emo, a little bit twang, and a lot ‘Songs That Are Going To Get Stuck In Your Head.’
Foxing has garnered a reputation as a band that goes big. With each release, the St. Louis-based group has appeared downright determined to top the expansiveness of their previous works. Just when you think you know what to expect, they exceed every expectation.
Boston four-piece Future Teens make “bummer pop” that hits home, and hits hard. They just get you, no matter what you’re going through or where you’re at in your life or relationships. It’s Mitski meets Modern Baseball.
Genreless Los Angeles-based newcomers glass beach wrap mathy guitar leads around catchy drum and bass grooves, then layer that base with horns, synths, and the occasional theremin, to set the perfect scene for vocalist J McClendon’s stunning vocal performances.
Hit Like A Girl
New Jersey’s 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 band serves as a way to inspire others to use their voices like never before.
Into it. Over it.
Four years ago, Into it. Over it. began drifting into new territories, drawing up a blueprint for what the emo genre could become in the years to follow. Now, Evan Thomas Weiss returns to an entirely new landscape but once again, innovation is the beating heart of everything he creates.
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.
The From Indian Lakes mastermind reaches new heights on his solo debut, Found In The Smoke. It's Vann's way of revisiting how his music started, rather than where he feels it should go next. RIYL: Sufjan Stevens, Feist, Bon Iver
John-Allison "AW" Weiss
From power-pop anthems to folky tear-jerkers, John-Allison Weiss’s core values run deep. Despite a professional battle as a queer & nonbinary artist in an industry focused on marketability, Weiss has toured with rock legend Lou Reed, wrote with heroes like Tegan Quin and Kevin Devine, and cultivated a community of diehard fans.
Jupiter Styles frontman Sean Neumann (bass/vocals in Chicago band Ratboys) is a familiar face in the American Midwest DIY scene. He’s toured extensively across the world since 2012, all the while working from the road as a freelance journalist for The New York Times, Rolling Stone, ESPN, NPR, the Associated Press, and more
When the world met Kississippi, it was vocalist Zoe Reynolds’ brooding vocals and darkly-textured indie rock that first caught attention. But as the years passed, Zoe found more catharsis in the sweet-sounding pop of Carly Rae Jepsen and Taylor Swift. These influences guided Kississippi’s transition to full-on pop.
Lake Saint Daniel
Life comes at you fast. One day you’re talking about growing up and the next, you’re grown. This inevitable reckoning is what lies within the music of Lake Saint Daniel, helmed by Daniel Radin of emo-spattered power-pop band Future Teens. Radin’s inherited love of gentle melodies began to peek through the cracks in his work, and so Lake Saint Daniel was born.
A crisis of conscience commands most of Minneapolis trio niiice's songwriting—it’s sorta what makes them who they are. It’s a mangy, self-conscious blend of post-hardcore and pop-punk for fans of Prince Daddy & The Hyena, Dogleg, Origami Angel, and more.
With an initial collection of releases that dove deep into the surface-level stuff that helps keep our minds off of ourselves––video games, TV shows, fantasy worlds, and food––this young indie-emo duo from Washington, D.C. has created a universe all their own.
oso oso's Jade Lilitri writes songs bigger than himself, making music that’s ambitiously complex and captures the spirit of modern day optimism. It sounds like early 2000s pop rock, ‘90s emo, and careful pop-punk.
From New Orleans to Newtown, Nashville to Chicago, Neil Berthier was often writing PHONY songs before the project even started. Featuring a rotating cast of players, the young multi-instrumentalist channels the grunge and gloom of Smashing Pumpkins alongside the unpredictable stylistic whiplash of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard.
Formed in the fallout of hopelessness and toxic friendships, Tallahassee quartet Pool Kids displays a penchant for technical precision, highlighted by searing guitar riffs, dynamic lyrical prowess, and an abundance of passion. Their debut record showcased genre-defying elements of math and pop rock, and was co-signed by Paramore's Hayley Williams.
Prince Daddy & The Hyena
Albany's Prince Daddy & the Hyena create music of epic proportions. Their records are great, galloping sonic road trips 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., on record and in real life, 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.
If Anderson .Paak and Wavves decided to start a new band, they'd call up Quinton Brock to be the frontman. His music revitalizes punk rock with a sense of humor and street-savvy rarely seen in the genre. Brock brings listeners on a thrilling, caffeine-juiced adventure through the binds of his inner psyche.
Chicago's Ratboys work with bright, youthful Americana narratives centered around pillowy vocals and nimble lead guitars. Their records capture the bombastic, electrified fun of their live show, showcasing a growing chemistry as a tight-knit group with a fiercely dedicated following.
Remember Sports' new album Like A Stone contains some of the smartest performances and arrangements in contemporary indie rock. RIYL: Hop Along, Alvvays, The Beths
Roger Harvey is a name the world should know. Harvey’s music is expansive and atmospheric, spiritual and welcoming, beautiful and soul-searching. He’s a time-traveller from the 1970s, pulling aesthetics from artists like Willie Nelson, John Prine, and Neil Young and interpreting them for the present.
New Jersey’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, reconfiguring 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 the outspoken grunge-pop project of Los Angeles songwriter Celeste Tauchar. After years playing with electro-pop band FRENSHIP (Columbia Records) and playing to crowds at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Lollapalooza, talker's latest work proves that it's time for Tauchar to take off.
Thank You, I'm Sorry
Short bursts of anxiety and fear often lead to songwriting that doubles down on winking through our woes. It’s in the spaces between sudden inspiration and deliberate wit where Minneapolis’ Thank You, I’m Sorry resides.
The Big Easy
The members of The Big Easy don’t pull from any one box, and that’s why they don’t fit in one, either. At any moment, their music can call to mind Cursive, PUP, or The Beach Boys. It’s rule-bending emo, pop-punk, and indie rock.
The Wonder Years
Through poetic lyricism, ambient guitar swells, and Death Cab-levels of crashing momentum, Philadelphia’s The Wonder Years truly transform and transcend. From pop-punk icons to indie rock heavyweights, The Wonder Years continue to stay at the top of their class.
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.
We Are The Union
Drawing heavily on ska, pop, and punk rock, this LA band balances soul-crushing lyrics about dysphoria and heartbreak with endless hooks and furiously catchy choruses. RIYL: No Doubt, Charly Bliss, Jeff Rosenstock
Whether it’s a bank-vault-turned-concert-hall in San Francisco, a Brooklyn artists’ collective, a house show in central Connecticut, or a recording studio, a Young Jesus performance is unique and irreplicable. Recordings are snapshots of their songs in one given moment. Based in Los Angeles, Young Jesus is brimming with potential and creativity.