Stereogum's 40 Best New Bands Of 2012

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to select the rising bands which have connected them, someone wrote a long time ago. Or, something close to that. Here’s what we’re getting down to: It’s that time of year when Stereogum’s staff selects the 40 most exciting new* acts of 2012. Once again it’s a diverse field, featuring glossy pop groups, gritty rockers with a name built on an acronym that begins with “Fuck it, Dawg,” precocious teen rappers of several kinds, a death metal act from New England, and so forth. It’s a good group! And we think it’s one that reflects the types of things we have covered and will continue to cover in the future. So hit the list, which is equipped with audio samples for your opinion making, and let’s get to sizing up the class of 2012. And yes, tough exclusuions had to be made. Repeated requests for Obama to make us an intro video were not answered, even though that hasn’t stopped him from sending e-mails this way. DIIV in and we’ll see you in the comments.

*By new, we’re talking about bands that rose to a certain level of attention in the last year, as we realize several artists on this list have been around for longer than one calendar year, and in some cases, even longer than that.

2:54 - 2:542:54

This British duo bring a dark, brooding glamor to their shoegaze churn; their icy harmonies mean just as much as their guitar swoops and buzzes. Their self-titled debut album sounds like it was beamed straight to us from some alternate 120 Minutes past, or like what might’ve happened if Shirley Manson fronted Lush instead of Garbage. –Tom

FROM: London, England

LINKS: @twofiftyfour, Facebook

ORDER: 2:54 out now via Fat Possum. [Buy]

//

2NE12NE1

They’ve been prefab future-pop stars in their native South Korea for a few years now, but this K-pop girl-group had their internet-style breakout in the West this year when American bloggers (ahem) realized how eye-poppingly bizarre and compulsively rewatchable their tremendously popular music videos are. Their “I Am The Best” clip is the best music video that anyone, in any genre, has made in recent years, and, like a resurrected Destiny’s Child, they’ve got the tough, vulnerable virtuosity that it takes to sing on fizzily expensive electro-beats and come across as badass human beings. –Tom

FROM: Seoul, South Korea

LINKS: Facebook

ORDER: 2nd Mini Album EP is available now on YG Entertainment. [Buy]

//

Ab-Soul - Control SystemAb-Soul

Among major-label rap crews, California’s Black Hippy is already dizzier and further-out than most — clear descendants of old West Coast underground trailblazers like Hieroglyphics and Project Blowed. But even within his own crew, Ab-Soul comes across like a freaked-out live-wire — a furiously talented rapper who rants out alien-civilization conspiracy theories and even seems unhinged when he’s trying to get into girls’ pants. He’s Black Hippy’s paranoid soul, and his album Control System is pure art-rap heaviness. –Tom

FROM: Carson, CA

LINKS: @absoul, Facebook

ORDER: Control System available now from TDE. [Buy]

//

AlunaGeorge - Your Drums Your LoveAlunaGeorge

Producer George Reid and singer Aluna Francis form the British duo AlunaGeorge, a group that released a slick mini-EP called You Know You Like It earlier this year, a quick-hitting collection of R&B-informed bedroom pop. Building off of that still-forming identity and carrying the EP’s accompanying momentum into the studio, the group put out the hypnotic “Your Drums, Your Love,” earlier this year, and it’s a piece of production that symbolizes their most promising track yet thanks to the increased heft of Reid’s drums and the startling clarity of Francis’s vocals. It’s just a taste of a forthcoming LP, but its sweetness should be more than enough to hold us over until then. –Corban

FROM: London, England

LINKS: @AlunaGeorge, Facebook

ORDER: “Your Drums, Your Love” single is out 10/7 on Island. [Buy]

//

Azealia Banks - FantaseaAzealia Banks

It’s sort of weird to think about the time before we knew who Azealia Banks was, for she’s not exactly one of those people that steps awkwardly into the limelight; when her moment came (“I was in the 212 / On the uptown A, nigga, you know what’s up or don’t you?“) she devoured the opportunity so wholly that it seems like it was forever ago when that song came out. Though her bombastic Twitter account, frequent album delays, and diss tracks may have earned her more ill will than she deserves, she did put out two pretty solid releases this year — the 1991 EP, formed through a partnership with producer Machinedrum, and the Fantasea mixtape, two nice showcases of her stuttering, chameleon-like flow and potential crossover chops. Like it or not, we’ll be hearing a lot more from Ms. Banks in 2013. –Corban

FROM: Harlem, NY

LINKS: @AZEALIABANKS, Facebook

ORDER: Fantasea is available now as a free download. [Download]

//

Beautiful Lou - Sumone 2 B Young WithBeautiful Lou

Houston producer Beautiful Lou’s name first started getting batted around right at the height of A$AP Rocky hype, where folks were fiending for new Rocky tracks, post-”Peso.” Those people were rewarded with “Trilla,” a syrup-drenched track whose beat — produced by Lou, natch — would make his hometown proud. Since then, he’s teamed with folks like Kitty Pryde and Heems, working out some different tricks while still inhabiting that same druggy, pillowy feel that lets the vocalist breathe and think. Tom’s a fan. –Corban

FROM: San Antonio, TX

LINKS: @beautifullou1

ORDER: Sumone 2 B Young With is available for free download. [Download]

//

Charli XCX - Heartbreaks And EarthquakesCharli XCX

Visually, this teenager Londoner brings a fashionably glammed-out goth aesthetic, the sort of thing that seems built for Tumblr. But musically, she’s pure synthpop sugar. On songs like “You’re The One” and “Valentine,” her voice floats above slickly catchy electroscapes, showing an admirably tough vulnerability. She actually sounds like a teenager, and that’s a good thing. –Tom

FROM: London, England

LINKS: @charli_xcx, Facebook

ORDER: The You’re The One EP is available now from IAMSOUND. [Buy]

//

Chris Cohen - Overgrown PathChris Cohen

As a sideman, this multi-instrumentalist has worked with more than his share of unpredictable, idiosyncratic psych-poppers: Deerhoof, Danielson, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Cass McCombs. On his own, though, Cohen makes a gorgeously breezy sort of jangle-rock, coming off like the well-adjusted human being you’d have to be to spend time around them. His solo debut Overgrown Path is full of back-porch atmosphere and finely honed melody. –Tom

FROM: Vermont

ORDER: Overgrown Path is out 9/25 on Captured Tracks. [Buy]

//

DIIV - OshinDIIV

The band DIIV — formed around Beach Fossils’ guitarist Z. Cole Smith — lived for a time as Dive before changing their name out of respect to the Belgian industrial act of the same name. It showed that Smith’s group was either extremely attuned to respect for their elders, or maybe they just didn’t give a fuck about branding. I prefer to think it’s the latter, and the music DIIV makes reinforces that: Oshin takes the soaring guitar interplay of Smith’s old group into edgier, darker, more scorching terrain. –Corban

FROM: Brooklyn, NY

LINKS: @lovealien, Facebook

ORDER: Oshin is out now on Captured Tracks. [Buy]

//

Django Django - Django DjangoDjango Django

In their own way, these Scottish postpunkers sound like 2004 never ended in the UK; they simultaneously recall Franz Ferdinand’s nervily hooky highwire dance-rock and Clinic’s focused garage-rock pound. Their self-title debut is sharp and simple and catchy, and it absolutely moves. It’s a shame America’s Britpop dance-party circuit has largely died out, since it’s where these Scots belong. –Tom

FROM: Edinburgh, Scotland

LINKS: @thedjangos, Facebook

ORDER: Django Django is out now on Ribbon. [Buy]

//

Ed Scharder's Music BeatEd Schrader’s Music Beat

Their name probably conjures other things, but this Charm City duo does postpunk the way Wire intended: As sparse, rudimentary, and ferocious as possible. Within that metric, they’re surprisingly adaptable, moving toward psychedelia and roping in unlikely collaborators like Matmos and No Age’s Randy Randall. But they always keep their pounding concise and contained; debut album Jazzmind is over in barely 20 minutes. –Tom

FROM: Baltimore, MD

LINKS: @ed_schrader, Facebook

ORDER: Jazz Mind is out now on Upset The Rhythm. [Buy]

//

Evian Christ - Kings And ThemEvian Christ

Evian Christ was, at one point, a mysterious Internet figure that waded in style-sampling electronic music; naturally, he fit perfectly with the roster at Tri Angle. Since then, we’ve got a little more (but not much) more info on the dude — his name is Joshua Leary — and more music, including the frigid, three-dimensional thwock of “FYTS.” More on the way, probably. There’s no way of knowing. –Corban

FROM: Ellesmere Port, England

LINKS: @evian_christ, Facebook

ORDER: Kings And Them is available now from Tri Angle. [Download]

//

FIDLARFIDLAR

This L.A. band’s name is an acronym for “Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk,” and their Facebook bio is just a plot synopsis of the movie Gleaming The Cube, except with Christian Slater’s name taken out and their name put in. Their music is giddy sugar-rush punk rock, and they know that you can make a completely effective chorus hook by yelling, “I! Drink! Cheap! Beer! So! What! Fuck! You!” All of which is to say that these guys are fun. –Tom

FROM: Los Angeles, California

LINKS: @fidlarLA, Facebook

ORDER: FIDLAR’s debut album is out in 2013 on Mom + Pop. The “No Waves” b/w/ “No Ass” 7” is available now. [Buy]

//

HAIM - Forever EPHAIM

The backstory of sister act HAIM — the trio of Este, Alana and Danielle — has all of the trappings of a movie/sitcom/Urban Outfitters campaign, where the three women, encouraged to perform music at an early age, have been playing together ever since they bounced from the cradle. The EP they released together this year, Forever, was a breezy, easy chunk of indie pop, a collection honing in on a still-forming sound. But, as they have to be closing in on 10,000 hours of playing time together — shouts out Gladwell — there’s simply no way they don’t get tighter, stronger, and better as more (deserved) attention comes their way. –Corban

FROM: Los Angeles, CA

LINKS: @HAIMtheband, Facebook

ORDER: The Forever EP is out now on National Anthem. [Buy]

//

Hit-Boy - HITStoryHit-Boy

Cali producer Hit-Boy — real name Chauncey Hollis — has elicited Kanye comparisons out of the sheer fact that he was a producer first, using that success and work ethic to launch his own platform as a rapper. But, thing is, Kanye never produced hits for others at the rate Hollis is doing it — in the last year alone, Hit-Boy’s produced an extraordinary variety of enormous tracks, Nicki’s “I Am Your Leader,” “I Wish You Would,” and “Goldie,” a deep cut you might know about called “Niggas In Paris” (“What niggas did in Paris, got em’ hanging off the Eiffel,” West says. Hollis also produced the song “Clique.”) On his new mixtape, HITStory, the rapping’s a little stiff but it’s not to hard to hear a little College Dropout in there (or at least, Freshman Adjustment). –Corban

FROM: Fontana, CA

LINKS: @Hit_Boy

ORDER: HITStory is available now as a free download. [Download]

//

Hundred waters - Thistle EPHundred Waters

Hundred Waters is an outfit I neglected to cover in our feature on Gainesville’s music scene, which Skrillex immediately threw in my face by signing them to his OWSLA imprint. Though I think the notion of Skrillex signing a indie rock group that competently combines classical, folk, electronica into a knotty, compelling sound is something people are still scratching their head about, it’s easy to see how anyone could appreciate the types of strange, but familiar, sounds on their recent EP, Thistle. In an era where bands tend to pare back and give ground to accessibility, Hundred Waters is going the other direction. –Corban

FROM: Gainesville, FL

LINKS: @100waters, Facebook

ORDER: The Thistle EP is out now on OWSLA. [Buy]

//

Ice Choir - AfarIce Choir

When Kurt Feldman isn’t playing drums in the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, he’s applying extreme levels of hairspray to lead this group, who sound like they beamed in directly from 1986. Ice Choir don’t just revive the soft, romantic synthpop of groups like Tears For Fears; they inhabit it completely, diving into all those frilly keyboard textures and breathy intonations. And they do it with a commendable level of craft and commitment, bringing songs often just as catchy as the ones that clearly inspired them. –Tom

FROM: Brooklyn, NY

LINKS: @theicechoir, Facebook

ORDER: Afar is out now via Underwater Peoples. [Buy]

//

Icona Pop - I Love ItIcona Pop

If we’re going to give out a year-end award for most “#YOLO” single of the year, everyone is running a distant second to Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” a delicious widescreen dance-pop kiss-off (I mean, look at this lyrics sheet! Stereogum40 listmate Charli XCX, of all people, wrote the song). Then, all was quiet on the Scandinavian front. But then, another bludgeoning pop burst called “Ready For The Weekend” was released into the ether, and our party playlists were never the same. –Corban

FROM: Stockholm, Sweden

LINKS: @iconapop, Facebook

ORDER: The “I Love It” single is out now on Big Beat Records. The Iconic EP is out 10/16. [Buy]

//

IO Echo - Ministry Of LoveIO Echo

Not a ton is known about the shoegazey rock duo IO Echo, formed by Angelinos Leopold Ross and Ioanna Gika, but that seems like it’s all about to change with Ministry Of Love, their debut that drops this week. Their sound is tailored to the time-honored music critic practice of genre-naming; with respect to a song like “When The Lillies Die,” you could easily go with labels like “goth-wave,” “goth-gaze,” “shoe-goth,” etc (indulge me!). It’s kind of like, if Niki & The Dove just went hammer on the guitars, kicking up a dusty swirl of sound. All that’s left to do is to just ride the -wave. –Corban

FROM: Los Angeles, CA

LINKS: @ioecho, Facebook

ORDER: Ministry Of Love is out 9/11 on IAMSOUND. [Buy]

//

Jessie Ware - DevotionJessie Ware

Ware started out as a backup singer before moving on to singing lead over dance tracks from producers like SBTRKT and Joker. But on her stunning debut album Devotion — arguably the single finest late-night album of 2012 — she proves more than capable of holding your attention all by herself, delivering simple and gorgeous songs about heartbreak and longing over a fully realized electro-soul sound. She knows how to take your breath away without raising her voice, and not too many singers can say that. –Tom

FROM: London, England

LINKS: @Jessie_Ware, Facebook

ORDER: Devotion is out now on PMR. [Buy]

//

Joey Bada$$ -1991Joey Bada$$

In Tom’s Mixtape Of The Week writeup of Brooklyn teenager Joey Bada$$’s 1999, he closed by writing “He’s a young man unstuck from time, but holy shit can he ever rap.” And, if you’re going to go with one sentence to describe the appeal of the precocious Flatbush-ian, I think you’re going to have a tough time topping that; at once, Joey channels Common, Nas, Native Tongues as a whole, while supplying a fresh enough spin as to keep it contemporary. He speeds up and slows down at will, and it’s kind of dizzying to hear something so steeped in old stuff sound so vibrant and alive. But that’s the charm of Joey Bada$$, basically, whose own Pro Era crew is a nice counterpoint to the style-over-substance A$AP Mob clique. The kid can rap, holy shit. –Corban

FROM: Brooklyn, NY

LINKS: @joeyBADASS_, Facebook

ORDER: 1999 is available now as a free download. [Download]

//

Kindness - World You Need A Change Of MindKindness

This handsome young man treats his indie disco productions with a very British sort of gentility: Rather than going for absolute abandon, he keeps the beats coming while holding back, content to percolate in the background. Adam Bainbridge’s melodies are sharp, but he delivers them calmly and without fuss. His debut album World, You Need A Change Of Mind was a pretty ideal soundtrack to high-end shopping, but new single “That’s Alright” shows that he can get sweaty, too. –Tom

FROM: London, England

ORDER: World You Need A Change Of Mind is out now on Modular. [Buy]

//

Kitty Pryde - haha i'm sorryKitty Pryde

Kitty Pryde is a freckled, redheaded sprite of a 19-year-old that became something of an overnight smash thanks to the heart-on-a-sleeve.tumblr bliss of “Okay Cupid.” Sure, her style — which is kind of like an outpouring of diary asides set to billowing rap beats — is divisive, but the music is just one aspect of the Kitty Pryde experience, which also includes a highly enjoyable Twitter and Tumblr. Kitty Pryde, to me, is a formidable symbol of where youth culture is at, circa 2012; maybe 10 years ago, Kitty would have channeled her savvy and undeniable, self-depracating charm in a different fashion, but her presence recasts youth expression, and rap as a vessel for that, in a different light. I don’t know if Kitty can top “Okay Cupid” — though “Orion’s Belt” is pretty great, too — but it’s going to be fun to find out. –Corban

FROM: Daytona Beach, FL

LINKS: @grittypryde, Facebook

ORDER: haha i’m sorry is available now for free download. [Download]

//

Lakutis - I'm In The ForestLakutis

Das Racist’s Russian American buddy might be a better technical rapper than any of the guys in that group, but he’s also got an unpredictable livewire energy. Whenever he busts out a dizzy 16 bars, there’s at least a decent chance that he’s rapping like that while drunk, which is somehow even more impressive. And his solo I’m In The Forest EP shows an electric all-over-the-place aesthetic that proves he can get along just fine on his own. –Tom

FROM: Queens, NY

LINKS: @LAKUTIS, Facebook

ORDER: I’m In The Forest is available now as a free download. [Download]

//

Le1f - Dark YorkLe1f

As a rapper, this young New Yorker isn’t quite fully-formed yet; he mumbles and falls off the beat, and you can’t always tell what he’s saying. But as a stylist and a presence, he absolutely shines. His Dark York mixtape innovates a new and exciting form of dance-rap, a mysterious and hedonistic thing that owes more to vogue balls than to streetcorner ciphers. And as his relentlessly entertaining Twitter feed proves, he’s a fun person to have around. –Tom

FROM: Brooklyn, NY

LINKS: @LE1FNY, Facebook

ORDER: Dark York is available now for free download. [Download]

//

Lushlife - Plateau VisionLushlife

Here’s a weird distinction for this rapper/producer: He’s the first artist to collaborate with lo-fi singer songwriter and veteran Yonkers street-rapper Styles P on the same album — on successive songs, no less. Lushlife’s 2011 mixtape No More Golden Days and his 2012 album Plateau Vision show a rapper who finds ways to balance classic headsmack tough-talk with spaced-out artiness; he’s the sort of guy who raps over a Gang Gang Dance track and sounds hard doing it. –Tom

FROM: Philadelphia, PA

LINKS: @lushlifemedia, Facebook

ORDER: Plateau Vision is out now on Western Vinyl. [Buy]

//

Matthew E. White - Big InnerMatthew E. White

Like fellow listmember Joey Bada$$, Virginia musician Matthew E. White’s work is built on the venerable work of others, and arguably, he casts his net wider on his striking debut Big Inner. It’s more striking than immediate, to be sure; White’s complex combination of funk, roots music, soul, Dylan/Newman-esque singer-songwriter constructions is pretty tough to grasp on the first run-through, but it easily communicates this steel passion for music, as a whole; White has just built his own language out of it. Big Inner is one of those records that is built for a “Most Overlooked” list — who knows when it might sneak up, but when it does, the rest is history. –Corban

FROM: Richmond, VA

LINKS: @amattwhitejoint, Facebook

ORDER: Big Inner is out now on Spacebomb/Hometapes. [Buy]

//

Melody's Echo Chamber - Melody's Echo ChamberMelody’s Echo Chamber

Melody’s Echo Chamber is the solo outfit of French songwriter Melody Prochet, who, to this point, makes hazy, bleary pop with help from Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker. Much has been made of that connection — it’s pretty obvious when you hear it — but Melody probes deep into the haze on songs like “Crystallized.” It’s built to wash over you, and let’s just say it gets the job done. –Corban

FROM: Paris, France

LINKS: @MdyEchoChamber, Facebook

ORDER: “Crystallized” b/w/ “Endless Shore” is available now on Rough Trade. Her self-titled debut is out now on Fat Possum. [Buy]

//

Merchandise - DesireMerchandise

Merchandise is a hard-working Florida outfit without much of an online stamp, outside of buy links for the records they’ve put out this far. That seems to be by design; their music, too, is understated but thoughtful, an interesting take on postpunk inflected with a surprising heft. –Corban

FROM: Tampa, FL

ORDER: Desire is out now. [Buy]

//

Meyhem Lauren - Respect The Fly ShitMeyhem Lauren

This bullheaded fundamentalist MC has been around for a while, but 2012 was the year he got really interesting. Lauren’s recent mixtape Respect The Fly Shit placed the gigantic man firmly at the forefront of the New Weird New York rap movement. Recorded almost entirely in an Austin hotel room during SXSW, the tape has delightfully bent production from Harry Fraud and Tommy Mas and a guest-list that looks like a hell of a party: Action Bronson, Heems, Riff Raff, Sean Price, virtually every other reason to pay attention to the rap underground this minute. But Lauren’s husky no-bullshit flow and sneaky bits of weirdness are what holds the entire throw down together. –Tom

FROM: Queens, NY

LINKS: @MeyhemLauren, Facebook

ORDER: Respect The Fly Shit is out now. [Download]

//

Milk MusicMilk Music

Even with the grand tradition of Pacific Northwestern homespun punk-rock eccentrics in your DNA, it’s hard to maintain your DIY roots when you’re in the midst of becoming an internet sensation, but these bashers are doing their damnedest. Milk Music’s album Beyond Living sounds like the moment that ’80s hardcore bands first began awkwardly fumbling their way toward art-rock — hard-striving melodies pounded out and recorded through pillows, always hinting at something grander. And for the moment, they’re still touring the damp-warehouse circuit, so be sure to catch them there. –Tom

FROM: Olympia, WA

LINKS: Facebook

ORDER: Beyond Living is out now. [Buy]

//

Mirel Wagner - Mirel WagnerMirel Wagner

Mirel Wagner comes from Finland, by way of Ethiopia, but she sounds like something that might’ve haunted Alan Lomax’s dreams more than a half-century ago. Her self-titled debut, on which her ghostly voice and her acoustic guitar are the only audible elements, might be called folk or blues, but it hits levels of uncanny creepout so deep that the two terms seem altogether insufficient. In her own way, she’s as heavy as Sabbath and as dark as Joy Division. –Tom

FROM: Espoo, Finland

LINKS: Facebook

ORDER: Mirel Wagner is out now on Friendly Fire. [Buy]

//

Murals - On A Passing CloudMurals

The sweet and mellow psychedelic folk-pop produced by Louisville’s Murals suggests that the band has perhaps dabbled in the occasional hallucinogen. (Or, at least, they’re generously crafting music for listeners with such propensities.) The band’s debut LP, On A Passing Cloud, is nothing short of gorgeous: indie-folk filtered through a technicolor prism of Tropicalia, Krautrock, surf-rock, and psycillocibin. The whole thing sounds like a baked haze, caught somewhere between daydream and nap, listing, drifting. –Michael

FROM: Louisville, KY

LINKS: @themurals, Facebook

ORDER: On A Passing Cloud is out now. [Buy]

//

Nude Beach -IINude Beach

This Brooklyn-via-Long Island trio started out in the noisier, scuzzier corners of their home borough’s DIY scene, releasing their music on impossible-to-find cassettes and opening for bands like the Men. But their new album II, now out in wide release thanks to Other Music, sounds like the work of a band aiming squarely for arenas. While they’ve still got a basement-punk scrappiness, their hooks are uncommonly generous things; they’ve got the sort of choruses that demand windows-down singalongs. –Tom

FROM: Long Island, NY

LINKS: Facebook

ORDER: II is available now on Other Music. [Buy]

//

Savages - HusbandsSavages

These Londoners have made a name for themselves, getting booked onto European festival bills, based on only a handful of songs. And that’s not some indictment of the internet’s effect on music hype, at least in this case. Instead, it’s a testament to how strong and fearsome and confident those few songs are. Savages do postpunk in a way that floats eerily but still pounds viscerally. They’re not reinventing the wheel, but they are making a very goddamn satisfying wheel. –Tom

FROM: London, UK

LINKS: @Savagesband, Facebook

ORDER: The “Flying To Berlin” b/w “Husbands” single is out now on Pop Noire. [Buy]

//

Sleepies - Weird Wild WorldSleepies

Like their friends and labelmates Mr. Dream, Sleepies like their indie rock in short, jagged, chaotic bursts, run through with out-of-control energy and palpable disdain. The songs on their new album Weird Wild World function as controlled bursts of jagged, fun violence. All of which is to say that their name couldn’t possibly be less appropriate. –Tom

FROM: Brooklyn, NY

LINKS: @SLEEPIESBK, Facebook

ORDER: II is available now via God Mode. [Buy]

//

TEEN - In LimboTEEN

Teeny Lieberson used to play in Here We Go Magic, and now she leads this quartet in their drawn-out, slow-floating dreampop incantations. The band produced and mixed their debut album In Limbo with former Spacemen 3 member Sonic Boom, a man who knows how to make drug-rock sound like ritualistic chanting. And on songs like “Better” and “Unable,” they prove themselves worthy heirs, spinning soft hooks into new worlds of sound. –Tom

FROM: Brooklyn, NY

LINKS: Facebook

ORDER: In Limbo is out now on Carpark. [Buy]

//

TNGHTTNGHT

While geographically unlikely — Lunice hails from Montreal, Hudson Mohawke from Glasglow — it’s no surprise considering the two behind the collaborative TNGHT are capable of putting together a truly slamming set of Southern-style trap-rave; after all, they’ve both been wrecking shit on their own. Their EP TNGHT is a highly deliberate affair, honing in on the cross-section of the collaborators’ interests while not stepping all over each other. –Corban

FROM: Montreal, Canada/Glasgow, Scotland

LINKS: @TNGHT, Facebook

ORDER: TNGHT is out now on Warp. [Buy]

//

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - TroubleTotally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs

This young British electro-house producer, born with the absolutely incredible name Orlando Higginbottom, dresses like a stegosaurus when he plays live, and he brings dancers in similar dinosaur costumes — silly, sure, but about a million times cooler than a gigantic lit-up mouse head. On his debut album Trouble, he brings a crowd-pleasing, melodically generous form of dance music that sacrifices Kia-commercial blare for shifty unpredictability. –Tom

FROM: Oxford, England

LINKS: @TEEDinosaurs, Facebook

ORDER: Trouble is out now on Polydor. [Buy]

//

Vattnett Viskar width=Vattnet Viskar

Numerous new American black metal bands have already left pretty substantial marks in 2012, from the traditional (Brookyn heshers Mutilation Rites) to the avant garde (Colorado psych-noise kvltists Xothist), but none emerged with such a fully formed and original voice as Vattnet Viskar. The New Hampshire quartet’s self-titled four-song debut EP is propulsive and brutal, yet ambient and expansive, in measures rarely seen from a genre that often expects its purveyors to be either/or. That EP closes with the band’s best song, “Barren Earth,” an insanely ambitious and vast 13 minutes that span a galaxy of sound. It was, coincidentally, the last song written for the EP, and perhaps an indicator of the leaps the band is prepared to make. –Michael

FROM: Plaistow, New Hampshire

LINKS: @vattnetviskar, Facebook

ORDER: The Vattnet Viskar EP is available now on Broken Limbs [Buy].

//

Willis Earl Beal - Acousmatic SorceryWillis Earl Beal

Willis Earl Beal basically started out as an urban legend — once again, here’s the famous Chicago Reader story — a man rooted in old-world sounds, peddling (and pedaling) around town to display his wares and impossibly old-fashioned croon. XL was quick to notice, snapping him up to record Acousmatic Sorcery, a captivating set of blues, rock, soul and singer-songwriter fare that sounds like it was zapped here from the ’20s. The fact that he has a tendency to fly off only adds to the legend. –Corban

FROM: Chicago, IL

LINKS: @WillisEarlBeal, Facebook

ORDER: Acousmatic Sorcery is out now on XL. [Buy]

//

And here’s the list in simpler form, arranged in alphabetical order:

01. 2:54
02. 2NE1
03. Ab-Soul
04. AlunaGeorge
05. Azealia Banks
06. Beautiful Lou
07. Charli XCX
08. Chris Cohen
09. DIIV
10. Django Django
11. Ed Schrader’s Music Beat
12. Evian Christ
13. FIDLAR
14. HAIM
15. Hit-Boy
16. Hundred Waters
17. Ice Choir
18. Icona Pop
19. IO Echo
20. Jessie Ware
21. Joey Bada$$
22. Kindness
23. Kitty Pryde
24. Lakutis
25. Le1f
26. Lushlife
27. Matthew E. White
28. Melody’s Echo Chamber
29. Merchandise
30. Meyhem Lauren
31. Milk Music
32. Mirel Wagner
33. Murals
34. Nude Beach
35. Savages
36. Sleepies
37. TEEN
38. TNGHT
39. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
40. Vattnet Viskar
41. Willis Earl Beal

UPDATE: Um, so, yeah. There are totally 41 bands in the list, because we can’t count. But at least we didn’t cut one out! Bonus band! Right? Good grief. Enjoy the list, guys. If you have a line on a good preschool math program, we’re all ears.

Check last year’s Stereogum40 here and 2010′s class here.

Comments (134)
  1. Hey Stereogum, ever heard Alt-J?

  2. If this is the future of good music, we’re screwed. Yes, Divine Fits, North Highlands…Come on.

  3. Hell yeah Django Django.

  4. I was really disappointed by the 2:54 album, especially after waiting anxiously for a year when I heard Creeping for the first time. Maybe I should give it another try, but it came off as really derivative and boring to me.

  5. Kishi Bashi, anyone?

  6. So. Much. Reverb.

  7. Merchandise’s “Children of Desire” EP is one of the best things I’ve heard this year. My friend insisted I check it out and while he normally points me towards more straight pop-punk acts (he is incidentally the one who got me into Joyce Manor) I was pleasantly surprised upon first listening to the new EP. In Nightmare Room is a great track (and really, the whole thing is better when listened to as one whole track) , but the opener Thin Air is what always pulls me in and keeps me there.

  8. Kanye didn’t produce hits for others? What do you call H to the Izzo?

  9. Field Report???

  10. Nice list! -Thought you would’ve mentioned Magnanomus near Beautiful Lou.. I think they’ve collabed..?

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Magnanomus/130751593682928?sk=app_2405167945

  11. Second Kishi Bashi. Also Hop Along.

  12. kirin j callinan? anyone?:/

  13. Never heard of some of these if I’m honest. Got a bit of catching up to do!

  14. Kanye never produced hits for others like Hitboy? Uh……what?

  15. No mixtape for us lazy sunsabitches?

  16. where’s Holograms?

  17. Digging FIDLAR, Jessie Ware, Milk Music, Mirel Wagner, Murals and Vattnet Viskar, which, weirdly, isn’t on your list at the bottom. Thanks for the recs!

  18. Please add Alt-J, Divine Fits, and California Wives, then we’re good

  19. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  20. Not to overdose on the Captured Tracks roster, but I think Heavenly Beat is worth a mention. I also second the Alt-J and Divine Fits mentions above.

    Lot of stuff here I haven’t heard. Thanks, Stereogum.

  21. Daughn Gibson

  22. Coulda shown Daugn Gibson some love. Otherwise, Murals sound sick

  23. I’m really glad this list is in alphabetical order, and not ranked.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Music shouldn’t be a competition

      • Try telling that to our greatest living artists aka the democratically elected victors of the past 11 seasons of American Idol. Competition is key to developing musical geniuses like Rueben Studdard. Have you even heard “Sorry 2004?” That jam is light years beyond any of this bullshit.

  24. this could have been narrowed down to ten

  25. Yay AlunaGeorge! They’re dope as hell.

  26. First Aid Kit bruh bruh.

  27. Tamagotchi Suicide Squadron.
    No competition.

  28. Actually @pickpocket was right. This list should overdose on Captured Tracks. They have the best indie bands out right now all on one label. DIIV easily takes best new band of the year!!! No doubt about it.

  29. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Three of those four have been around for a few years now.

      • I clearly have to get with the program. Isn’t Frank Ocean considered a new artist?

        • Frank Ocean has already been mentioned in the 2011 list, Perfume Genius in the 2010 list. And Chromatics released their debut album in 2003.

          I would have added Angel Haze, Beth Jeans Houghton and Alt-J to that list. And though I loved that Divine Fits record, I, personally, would not consider them a new band because we already know those guys from their involvements in Spoon, Handsome Furs/Wolf Parade and New Bomb Turks.

        • Frank Ocean was a new artist when he released Ultra Nostalgia, oh I dunno, 2 years ago.

  30. Father John Misty?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Grimes?!?!?!?!?!

    Jonathan Boulet, Po Po, Whistle Peak and PS I Love You also had some really awesome albums. Either way, good list – I’ll have to check a lot of these out.

  31. You have no idea how happy I am to see 2NE1 on this list.

    • I went into this list prepared to be faced with 40 bands I’d probably never heard of, and– who would have thought?– kpop proved me wrong.

  32. Michael_  |   Posted on Sep 11th, 2012 +4

    Swearin’
    White Lung
    Daughn Gibson
    YVETTE
    Life Size Maps
    METZ
    Death Grips (I don’t know where they fall really, because their mixtape came out last year and their debut came this year, but they got skipped over on last year’s list, so why not?)

  33. Its been a great year for new music, and so happy to see Hundred Waters on here, been following them ever since they came out. I have a new album out if any of you want to check it out, would love some feed back. All my music is free =) Really just happy too have listeners. My project is called “Vacant Minds.”

    http://soundcloud.com/kylefreeland

    • Sucks when you try and put yourself out there and people just shit on you, and don’t even listen before they judge. I been a fan for years stereogum, i’m not a troll. I hope at least one of you will enjoy my music, that’s all I ever wanted.

  34. HAIM?? as a live band they suck.

    and not enough representative from other sub genres

  35. Where in god’s name is Royal Headache?

  36. 3 words, pure bathing culture

  37. The Orwells; Allah-las

  38. 2012 got problems.

  39. Django Django the best band!

  40. Holograms? got something against the Swedes Stereogum?

  41. Thank you for this list Stereogum. It’s both overwhelming and comforting that there is so much good music out there.

  42. Great to see Vatnet Viskar in there, Pallbearer have released possibly the best metal album of the year which deserves some love.

  43. The Orwells

  44. Ed Schrader’s Music Beat played a show with these dudes Warm Girls at my favorite dive in Memphis, and I didn’t even hear about it until three days later. My friends that went and didn’t tell me were like “yeah man some band with a dumb name kicked ass. Someone Someone’s Beat Factory or something.”

    I was livid.

  45. Also, I was worried that people forgot about Lakutis. That EP was actually the first 2012 thing I listened to, and I played it all the time.

  46. UMMMM WAT ABOUT CARLY RAY JEPSIN AND 1DIRECTION O MY GAUD!!!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post, reply to, or rate a comment.

%s1 / %s2