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Stereogum’s 50 Best New Bands Of 2015

Stereogum’s Best New Bands list is back! After taking off last year, today we return with a rundown of the artists that have spent the past year getting us excited about the future of music.

As ever, some explanation is in order. Because “new” is almost as subjective as “best,” the list ranges from DIY rock bands still preparing their first EP to ascendant rap stars that have been ruling the radio since last fall. Along the way you’ll also encounter woodsy folk singers, shadowy black metal projects, jittery post-punk combos, artful pop auteurs, and bands of many other sizes, shapes, and sounds. The idea was to honor acts that rose to a new level of attention since the final months of last year; maybe they’ve existed for a while, maybe not, but we’ll forever associate them with 2015. This has been a huge year for all of these artists, and the world is better for it.

If you’re interested, here are the lists from 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010. Now allow us to introduce Stereogum’s 50 Best New Bands Of 2015, presented in alphabetical order…

American Wrestlers

American Wrestlers

LOCATION: St. Louis, MO

Scottish expat Gary McClure sings with a fragile-but-hopeful tenor like a beam of light from a discount flashlight, and as American Wrestlers, he’s stumbled upon a scrappy underdog lo-fi sound that lets his songs shine properly. McClure recorded his band’s brisk, tender self-titled debut album on an eight-track in his adopted hometown of St. Louis, and even though it’s new, discovering it feels like finding a favorite dubbed cassette from childhood in a box of old mementos. —Chris

Antarctigo Vespucci

Antarctigo Vespucci

LOCATION: Naples, FL/Brooklyn, NY

Antarctigo Vespucci is made up of Chris Farren and Jeff Rosenstock, both of whom are storied musicians of the indie underground; Farren fronted Fake Problems and Rosenstock is a member of the Bomb The Music Industry! Though they live in different states, the two started collaborating as Antarctigo Vespucci in 2014, and have been fairly prolific over a short period of time. The band has three releases to its name, including this year’s Leavin’ La Vida Loca, an album that contemplates anything and everything under the sun that’s hard to talk about, with a steadfast sense of humor. —Gabriela

Bandit

Bandit

LOCATION: Nashville, TN

Angela Plake deals exclusively in grandeur. The Bandit singer and her bandmates craft planet-sized rock songs laced with orchestral instruments and high drama, and the results split the difference between the emotional eruptions of early Paramore and the whale-call post-rock of Sigur Rós. And has anyone written a more casually devastating lyric this year than “I don’t feel any different since laying beside you”? —Chris

Beach Slang

Beach Slang
CREDIT: Craig Scheihing

LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA

After releasing two of last year’s most propulsive and promising EPs, Beach Slang — led by punk veteran James Alex — bottle up all their angst, energy, and youthful disposition into their firecracker of a debut album, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us. The urgency of that title speaks to the band’s all-or-nothing temperament, which shuffles between bold declarations and nostalgic self-affirmations, and tracks like “Young & Alive” and “Noisy Heaven” provide the proper ammunition to prove that these guys burn bright. —James

Bully

Bully

LOCATION: Nashville, TN

Alicia Bognanno doesn’t just sing and play guitar for this Nashville band. She also writes all the songs and records and engineers them; she taped their triumphant debut Feels Like at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio, where she was once an intern. So it’s fitting that Bognanno’s voice is what defines this band. It’s a huge, ragged, vulnerable roar, the type of thing that conveys complicated things about being young and fucked-up and helps elevate her band’s revved-up fuzz-rock above just about all their ’90s-indie-rocking peers. –Tom

Car Seat Headrest

Car Seat Headrest
CREDIT: Chona Kasinger

LOCATION: Seattle, WA

This smeary one-man-band has been around for years now, so declaring Car Seat Headrest one of the best new bands of 2015 is more symbolic of the music industry’s co-sign than anything else. Matador Records signed Will Toledo and his tongue-tied bedroom anthems, which will turn him into a full-fledged indie rock star with a fan base that extends far outside of preexisting circles. What’s not to love? Toledo splits the difference between Brian Wilson and the Killers, injecting sunlit harmonies into anxious dark melodies. His prolific past points toward an even brighter future, even when he’s writing about the dark. Also worth noting: These songs emerge like they were constructed by a full band, not a single guy operating on his own. There’s not a hint of singer-songwriter scarcity in the heavy machinery that is Car Seat Headrest. —Caitlin

Communions

Communions
CREDIT: Ida Dorthea

LOCATION: Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen’s Communions are inextricably tangled up with the Danish scene that spawned bands like Iceage, Lower, Vår, and Lust For Youth: Communions share a rehearsal space with the former two bands (among others), and they have released music on Posh Isolation, the label owned by Loke Rahbek, who is a member of the latter two bands. But Communions do not sound anything like any of those bands. For my money, they are so much better! When I listen to Communions, I can hear some early Real Estate, some La’s, some Go-Betweens, but it reminds me of nothing so much as the Stone Roses’ 1989 debut — which is about the highest praise I can think of. The band’s self-titled debut EP (following a pair of 7″ singles) is full of warm gusts of spindly, spider-y guitars and heavy-lidded, heavenly vocals, all soaked in good LSD and set to bubbling, effortless, joyous rhythms. —Michael

Crypt Sermon

Crypt Sermon

LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia doom band Crypt Sermon are often described as a product of their influences: Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Candlemass, etc. And no doubt, if you like that stuff, you’ll love Crypt Sermon. But the young doom outfit aren’t retro fetishists — they’re playing this music with absolute commitment, writing and recording it with tremendous attention to detail, and approaching it with an omnivorous understanding of metal’s rich history as well as the genre’s place in music today. The band’s Dark Descent debut, Out Of The Garden, could be played alongside Pallbearer’s Foundations Of Burden or Yob’s Clearing The Path To Ascend just as comfortably as Master Of Reality or Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, which is a testament not only to its vitality and seemingly timeless quality, but its craft: Those are all fucking gigantic records, and Out Of The Garden stands tall right next to them. —Michael

DeJ Loaf

DeJ Loaf
CREDIT: Reginald McKenzie

LOCATION: Detroit, MI

Detroit spitfire DeJ Loaf came out guns blazing with certified banger “Try Me,” then proceeded to holster her weapons, ink a deal with Columbia Records, and release a string of velvety ballads alongside the initial gritty street raps. More importantly, though, she held her own against every big name feature who’s come her way since. Female rappers are supposed to be simultaneously vulnerable and bulletproof, an impossibly fine line that Loaf finesses with grace and swagger. Her lead single issued a challenge not only to the rap world at large, but to herself as well. After all the shots were fired, DeJ Loaf is still standing. —Caitlin

Diet Cig

Diet Cig

LOCATION: New Paltz, NY

Diet Cig let it all hang out: The good, the bad, the ugly parts of Alex Luciano’s personality are unabashedly displayed on their debut EP Over Easy. That, paired with their ability to craft narrative pop songs using only a guitar, drums, and an unapologetic emotional overload is what makes Diet Cig’s music such a joyful thing to experience for the first time. It’s hard not to fall for a band that is so completely unafraid of giving all of themselves over to you. —Gabriela

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