Stereogum Best New Bands 2010 - Mix

With fall on the horizon, we’re escaping a slow summer and shifting into that final, fertile phase of the music year’s release cycle. Which makes it a ripe time to get some perspective on the year, in terms of the big records from past favorites, and here, the bands that have introduced themselves as new ones. Recently, NME conducted its own exercise in surveying the “new” crop of bands, turning in a list that rankled some of you, because you felt some bands were “old,” or because some bands were not to your liking, or because it was a list. The subjectivity of what makes a band the best at anything is of course primary grounds for debate; what makes a band the best at being “new” gives the argument more dimension. We found ourselves arguing and emailing about our own picks, and rules, and said fuck it: let’s publish this.

So, qualitative concerns are one thing … but what qualifies one as a “2010 act”? After discussing various rules based on arbitrary cut-off dates (debut LP release by x date, or an EP by y, or a first blog mention by z, etc.), we quickly realized that no single formula would satisfactorily account for the shifting, accelerated nature of this new hype-cycle that saturates-upon-contact in some cases, and builds slowly over years in others. By our discussions, Sleigh Bells, a band of which we’re obviously quite fond, felt more like last year’s story than this one’s, staking their claim to newness and arrival in terms of exposure and discussion the week they landed a Band To Watch stamp, during CMJ ’09. Meanwhile, Warpaint put out an EP earlier that year but it’s only now, with excitement over newer tunes and a cemented lineup that it seems to be their time.

So we settled on a sniff test: If it felt the band’s discussion, their moment, their arrival, was tied to this year in our minds, then it was eligible for this list. So, sorry Local Natives, though we love you.

We invite you to argue with us, and with each other (duh). Argue about the bands’ newness, sure, but mostly, argue about their merits. If this is your first exposure to them, well that brings us to the overarching point of a list like this: Introduction. Each member of this year’s class is listed here alphabetically (no rankings) with a free and legal MP3 for your downloading pleasure. At the bottom of this post all 40 tracks are compiled via two zip files so you can load ’em up for your Labor Day roadtrip.

Active Child - Curtis Lane EPACTIVE CHILD

There were handfuls (and handfuls) of cassette-friendly one-man atmospheric electro-pop (i.e. chillwave) bands this year, but L.A.’s Pat Grossi and his icy backdrops and icier falsetto — a new wave Owen Pallett/Ed Droste combo fronting Washed Out — bubbled easily to the surface as someone to watch when he decided to leave the bedroom behind.

FROM: Los Angeles, CA

LINKS: activechildmusic.com, @activechild

ORDER: Curtis Lane EP, out via Filter [Buy]

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Balam Acab - See Birds EPBALAM ACAB

19-year-old Central New York ”Witch house” purveyor Alec Koone says his pretty, haunting, impressively 3-D soundscapes are influenced by “feelings, vibes, souls, spirits, nature, essences.” His See Birds EP’s also showcases sturdy, tangible elements and textures, as on blown-out Eastern-tinged standout “Regret Making Mistakes.”

FROM: Ithaca, NY

LINKS: myspace.com/thebalamacab

ORDER: See Birds EP, out now via Tri Angle [Buy]

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Baths - CeruleanBATHS

Baths is the project of 21-year-old Los Angeles local Wes Weisenfeld, conceived after letting go of his previous moniker Post-Foetus. On his new Cerulean LP, the primary m.o. is a chopped, scuffed, and glitched beat pastiche, intercut with emotional, occasionally helium-huffed off-kilter pop-falsetto vocals (think Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos if he was weaned on the Warp catalog and DNTEL). Baths puts structure and ear-warming melodies amidst this forward-thinking beat music — these are real songs first, production experiments second, so it’s easier to dig in if Flying Lotus’s bleak Los Angeles isn’t the overlay of L.A. you’re craving.

FROM: Los Angeles, CA

LINKS: myspace.com/bathsmusic

ORDER: Cerulean LP, out via anticon. [Buy]

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Best Coast - Crazy For YouBEST COAST

On Crazy For You, Bethany Cosentino and longhair cohort Bobb Bruno create hazy summertime pop gems filled with yearning, hooks, and feedback. The apparent simplicity of the songs points to a more complicated craft. They recently introduced a bit more garage kick via ex-Vivian Girls drummer Ali Koehler.

FROM: Los Angeles, CA

LINKS: bestcoasty.blogspot.com, @bestcoastyy

ORDER: Crazy For You LP, out via Mexican Summer

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Blondes - Touched EPBLONDES

Blondes are Zach Steinman and Sam Haar, an electronically oriented duo that met at Ohio’s Oberlin College. Since graduating they’ve moved to Brooklyn, bringing with them a fixation upon hypnotic, patiently crafted, ephemerally atmospheric beat-based music in which BPMs hover at a resting rate and all manner of synth trails, vocal manipulations, and aural tics billow up into blissy, dense dance patches. (The exception is their must-grab remix of Rihanna’s “Rude Boy,” which dials up the stutter and flow and sketches out the other end of their electro-spectrum.) Their five-track Touched EP helps position them at the front of a burgeoning beat scene with other Class of 2010 standouts Teengirl Fantasy and Games.

FROM: Brooklyn, NY (via Oberlin College)

LINKS: myspace.com/blondesblondesblondes

ORDER: Touched EP out via Merok [Buy]

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Braids - Native SpeakerBRAIDS

Braids are the older, wiser version of the Neighborhood Council, a band that first caught our attention on the back of single self-titled EP. After that, they moved to Montreal, changed their name, and are finally set to release a full-length, Native Speaker, via Kanine. In their initial Alberta form we mentioned “an early Pacific Northwest sound, like what you might expect from the Softies, only on a more shoe-gaze tip…” This time it’s Velocity Girl surfacing amid the piano, guitars, keyboards, extended pulsations, and ambient breaks and builds. They’re still not afraid to let things flow — a couple of the album’s seven tracks are above eight minutes — but as a testament to their pop craft, it never feels overdone.

FROM: Montreal, QC

LINKS: braidsmusic.blogspot.com, @braidsmusic

ORDER: Native Speaker LP, out 1/18 via Kanine

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Candy Claws - Hidden LandsCANDY CLAWS

Fort Collins, Colorado octet Candy Claws’ second album Hidden Lands was composed using a bed of keyboards, some percussion, guitar, and bass, and their voices (intoning half-remembered and revamped words from Richard M. Ketchum’s The Secret Life Of The Forest). There’s plenty of trickery on it — “Each song contains a sample of every other song on the album,” etc. — but it’s the ambient whirl goes down more smoothly without the conceptual notes.

FROM: Fort Collins, CO

LINKS: candyclaws.blogspot.com, myspace.com/candyclaws, @candyclaws

ORDER: Hidden Lands LP, out via twosyllable [Buy]

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ceo - White MagicCEO

ceo initially hit the internet shrouded in mystery, but once the press-baiting promo-photo haze abated, ceo came into focus as the work of Eric Berglund, one-half of the excellent Swedish duo the Tough Alliance. The slow rollout of bio data may have helped to differentiate project as something distinct and independent from TTA’s Balearic-tinged chilled pop meditations, but with ceo Eric doesn’t raise blood pressures much beyond where he’s proven himself an adept, and the music’s better for it, mining a smart pop vein throughout his debut LP White Magic’s half-hour that balances being uplifting, emotional affecting, and ultimately danceable.

FROM: Gothenburg, Sweden

LINKS: ceoceoceoceoceo.com

ORDER: White Magic LP, out via Modular [Buy]

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Cloud Nothings - Didn't You 7inchCLOUD NOTHINGS

Our introduction to Cloud Nothings came via the snotty lo-fi pop of “Hey Cool Kid” and “Can’t Stay Awake,” a fuzzy bedroom anthem reminiscent of old-school Olympia lo-fi post-hardcore band Lync. After that, Cleveland’s Dylan Baldi continued delivering great songs that teased-out both (and other) directions. They sound great together on Turning On, a compilation (of a previous EP, 7″ and two tracks cassette tracks) forthcoming via Carpark and a just-released (by True Panther) Leave You Forever EP.

FROM: Cleveland, OH

LINKS: myspace.com/cloudnothings

ORDER: “Didn’t You” 7″ out via Old Flame; Turning On, out 10/20 via Carpark; Leave You Forever EP out 10/26 via True Panther.

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Cults 7 InchCULTS

The San Diego-to-Brooklyn duo of Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin create lo-fi bubblegum pop with a dark underside: Sort of like a conjugal Carpenters raised on punk and surf rock, bearing their Motown-worshiping teeth and the casual Jim Jones sample.

FROM: New York (via San Diego)

LINKS: cults.bandcamp.com

ORDER: Cults 7″ out via Forest Family Records [Free Download]

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - Horse PowerDALE EARNHARDT JR. JR.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. have one of the biggest gaps between what they sound like and what their name implies they’ll sound like. The duo of Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott are from Detroit, so that helps explain the obsession with all things car-related (their name, their press image, etc.). Their four-track EP is a lovely introduction that steers away from all that, though, and toward a love for electronic pop and folk, with some breezy island sounds and reverence for the Beach Boys (both in vocal harmony and, explicitly, in cover, with a recorded take on “God Only Knows”).

FROM: Detroit, MI

LINKS: daleearnhardtjrjr.com

ORDER: Horse Power EP, out via Quite Scientific

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DOM - Sun Bronzed Greek GodsDOM

Reading the interviews and hearing the cheekily amusing stage banter from the man that goes simply by the name DOM, as a man supposedly on the lam from creditors would want, was a certain and appealing entry point for us to his expanding universe. But on his band’s Sun Bronzed Greek Gods EP and its attendant live shows, DOM’s showcased ebullient and spit-shined synth-pop and scrappily serrated rock, delving into punked up surf sounds and one two-minute earworm after the next. Live he’s fists up, guitar like a phallus, pounding PBR and dedicating one “to the ladies,” all bullshit cliché bundled up in a kid that somehow makes those poses feel like breaths of fresh air. He’s positioned as the fringe-cultural ambassador for Worcester’s warehouse art scene, though you can’t always choose who claims you as theirs — as grifters and blog RSS subscribers far off from Worcester have begun to. With hooks as big as “Living In America”’s and “Burn Bridges,”’ who can blame.

FROM: Worcester, MA

LINKS: myspace.com/imfur, @DOMband

ORDER: Sun Bronzed Greek Gods EP, out via Burning Mill Records

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Dominant Legs - Young At Love And Life EPDOMINANT LEGS

San Francisco BTW Dominant Legs, aka Ryan Lynch and now permanent vocalist/keyboardist Hannah Hunt, make music with a jittery, autumnal sound that’s part Belle & Sebastian pop/part Arthur Russell lullaby/part their own own details. (Kelley Polar as a scruffy Bay Area busker?) Incidentally, he cites Nile Rodgers, Tracy Chapman, and the Style Council as influencers; she: Sade and Mazzy Star. Lynch recorded a bunch of songs at home by himself and then revamped a few with Hunt for his new Young At Love And Life EP and what was once appealingly lonesome has taken on a different equally appealing (more layered) shade.

FROM: San Francisco, CA

LINKS: myspace.com/dominantlegsmusic

ORDER: Young At Love And Life EP out via Lefse

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Frank (Just Frank) - The Brutal WaveFRANK (JUST FRANK)

French coldwave duo Frank (Just Frank)’s The Brutal Wave debut can sound like the Cure in the guitar tones (or XTC’s “Mayor Of Simpleton” in the introduction to “Crisis”) or early R.E.M. via Siouxsie and Joy Division, but it’s a distinctive and updated collection that blends icy, melancholic guitar/synthesizers, dark drum machines, post-punk, and a couple of languages. It’s worth noting that after growing up in NJ and Nice, they met at school in London, where they listened to black and death metal before moving into the so-called “Black Wave” (i.e. coldwave + black metal) scene: Unlike a lot of neo-new wave, the stuff has teeth.

FROM: Nice, France & New Jersey

LINKS: myspace.com/frankjustfrank

ORDER: The Brutal Wave LP, out via Wierd

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Frankie Rose And The OutsFRANKIE ROSE AND THE OUTS

You may have known Frankie Rose as the onetime drummer of Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls. Now she’s put all that experience into being the frontwoman in Slumberland-approved Frankie Rose And The Outs, who’ve already mastered a dream-pop adrenaline rush that stands out easily among lesser second generation Spector-influenced Black Tambourine fans.

FROM: Brooklyn, NY

LINKS: msypace.com/saintoftherose, @MissFrankieRose

ORDER: Frankie Rose And The Outs LP, out 9/21 via Slumberland [Buy]

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Games - Everything Is WorkingGAMES

Brooklyn-based vintage synth/electronics whiz, Oneohtrix Point Never mastermind Daniel Lopatin, and childhood friend Joel Ford of Bee Gees/Hall & Oates-inflected soft-rockers Tiger City combine strengths irresistibly as Games. The R&B-inflected/On The Corner-influenced electro-pop duo have released the chilly, swoony “Everything Is Working”/”Heartlands” 7″ and a double cassette mix. Their mantra throughout: “Everything [has] to be slower and creamier.” Expect the That We Can Play EP soon.

FROM: Brooklyn, NY

LINKS: wayslower.tumblr.com

ORDER: “Everything Is Working”/”Heartland” 7″ self-released, That We Can Play EP due soon. [Download]

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Gayngs - RelaytedGAYNGS

Minneapolis producer Ryan Olson and Solid Gold’s Zack Coulter and Adam Hurlburt are at the center of Gayngs, but a couple dozen other folks — including members of Megafaun, the Rosebuds’ Ivan Howard, Justin Vernon — contribute to the luscious R&B-tinged soft-rock the on their Relayted debut. Gayngs only list 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love” in their MySpace “Sounds Like” field and cover 10cc spin-off Godley & Creme’s “Cry” on Relayted, but there are dozens of other echoes (from Primitive Radio Gods to Yeasayer to Kenny G) that surface and expand across Relayted’s 55 minutes. It’s even OK to think George Michael.

FROM: Minneapolis, MN

LINKS: gayngs.net

ORDER: Relayted LP, out via Jagjaguwar [Buy]

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Givers EPGIVERS

Young Louisiana quintet Givers, who grabbed their name from the Lucky Dragons’ song, were the local openers for Dirty Projectors at Chelsea’s in Baton Rouge before David Longstreth & Co. asked them to join them on their next tour. Their eclectic, ecstatic, celebratory, knotty, vocally rich sound on their self-titled EP is packed with psychedelic, homegrown exoticism and rattling optimism/joy.

FROM: Lafayette, LA

LINKS: giversmusic.wordpress.com

ORDER: Givers EP out via Valcour [Buy]

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Glasser - RingGLASSER

Los Angeles vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Cameron Mesirow’s received assists (and remixes) from other musicians — Foreign Born’s Matt Popieluch, Lucky Dragons, Tanlines (who backed her at Stereogum’s CMJ ’09 party) — but Glasser is hers alone, a project that conjures Kate Bush, Broadway Musicals, and something tribal and New Classical icy via her meditative, danceable recordings and elastic, evocative voice. The elements that drew us to her early GarageBand material congeal beautifully on the official True Panther debut LP, Rings, a collection that finds her arranging/re-arranging compositions with strings, woodwinds, percussion, loops, bass, etc., taking things to a more expansive, pastoral place.

FROM: Los Angeles, CA

LINKS: myspace.com/glasssser

ORDER: Ring LP, out 9/21 via True Panther [Buy]

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Gold Panda - Lucky ShinerGOLD PANDA

In flashes, and over a series of singles and EPs, London-based producer Gold Panda has proven an adept at beat and vocal-cutting techniques favored by the Four Tet school, or on the new tune “Snow & Taxis” the sort of micro-cut sample stitches and moving patterns generated by the Field. It’s that range and savvy in balancing those styles, and trails in other directions, with a hearty core that’s helped bring Gold Panda to the fore of his own field, one that promises certain expanse with his forthcoming and anticipated full-length debut Lucky Shiner.

FROM: Chelmsford, Essex, UK

LINKS: iamgoldpanda.com, @goldpanda

ORDER: Lucky Shiner LP, out 10/12 via Ghostly, You EP out via NoTown, Quitters Raga EP out via Make Mine

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How To Dress WellHOW TO DRESS WELL

Brooklyn/Köln one-man hype machine Tom Krell aka How To Dress Well’s spent much of this year release a long line of whisper-close hazed-out bedsit ’90s R&B bullseyes. The singles are stopgaps until this September’s anticipated Lefse full-length, and the piecemeal approach to disseminating his goods is building the impression of a man in firm command of both reference point and inspiration in the face of what sounds like limited studio facilities. The moans are spectral or sexy, the jacked noise levels, clips and red-lined rattle somehow perfectly intimate in encasing that falsetto, which is a hell of a falsetto. The tracks hit as fevered late night valentines, solipsistic blown-out beat booty calls waiting in your inbox at 4AM. His live show’s not sured up yet, but the tracks are well in place.

FROM: Brooklyn/Köln

LINKS: @howtodresswell, howtodresswell.blogspot.com

ORDER: Love Remains out 9/21 on Lefse

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Julian Lynch - MareJULIAN LYNCH

Jersey-proud Ducktails affiliate Julian Lynch creates warped and wobbling somnambulatory psych on his second album Mare. In a year when genre tags got relentless, Lynch escaped them entirely: Following his own path, he taps into drone-y Sun City Girls raga, underwater loner-folk, tosses on smeary vocals reminiscent of Olivia Tremor Control (as well as higher-pitched whispers), and echoes plenty of old-time Forced Exposure adventurers. One of Lynch’s biggest charms: The more you listen, the more exploratory his work feels (complete with woozy horns).

FROM: Madison, WI

LINKS: julianlynch.blogspot.com, @juleslynch

ORDER: Mare LP, out via Olde English Spelling Bee [Buy]

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Kingdom - Mind Reader EPKINGDOM

Ezra Rubin has been spinning at Brooklyn parties and clubs for years now, but his Mind Reader and That Mystic EPs find the DJ/producer stepping out and creating his own and creating densely layered, colorful bells-and-whistles dance gems that echo his mixing techniques and his aesthetic’s dark, anthemic fractures. He raves stolidly. Dubstep, hip-hop.

FROM: Brooklyn, NY

LINKS: kkingdomm.com

ORDER: Mind Reader EP, out via Acéphale/Fool’s Gold [Buy]

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Lower Dens - Twin-Hand MovementLOWER DENS

Texas-born Golden Apple, R.E.M. coverer, and retired pizza shop employee Jana Hunter currently lives in Baltimore and fronts the quartet Lower Dens. Hunter was the first person to release a record on Devendra Banhart and Andy Cabic’s Gnomonsong via 2005’s Blank Unstaring Heirs Of Doom. She still has the dusky, powerful voice that first made us listen up, but with Lower Dens the sound is rangy, ambling, rich, and rock ’n’ roll. The expansion suits her well: She felt like a well-seasoned frontwoman even when she was recording solo and shadowy material on a 4-track.

FROM: Baltimore, MD

LINKS: lowerdens.tumblr.com, @lowerdens

ORDER: Twin-Hand Movement LP out via Gnonmonsong [Buy]

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Minks - Funeral SongMINKS

Like their Captured Tracks label head Mike Blank Dogs, gothy new wave Brooklyn BTW Minks shroud themselves in mystery — their website’s a series of images (from Nick Cave and Blank Dogs to the Charlie Brown Christmas to guns, Jeffrey Dahmer, Slater Bradley, Misfits tattoos, and the Virginia Tech Killer, all rendered in black and white), their MySpace not much more. You don’t need a glut of information when writing songs like the Cure-nodding “Funeral Song” — “So long, summertime / Not coming back” — the lush, dreamy “Kusmi,” and the warping “Ophelia.”

FROM: Brooklyn, NY

LINKS: myspace.com/iamwitchcraft

ORDER: New LP due 11/11 via Captured Tracks

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MNDR - EPEMNDR

MNDR are a New York-based electropop duo, though it is singer, frontwoman, gearhead, and production-savvy chanteuse Amanda Warner that centers the project visually, vocally, and via attitude.. She and partner Peter Wade are presently crafting a proper full-length, hopefully along the lines of their collab club-track with Mark Ronson “Bang Bang Bang,” and the wizened, woozy torch(ed) song “I Go Away“; between the two, and the rest of the E.P.E. EP, MNDR’s sketched out the template of a pop star that can work emotion, sass, style, and creativity into three minutes.

FROM: New York, NY

LINKS: mndrmndr.com, @mndr

ORDER: E.P.E. EP out via WonderSound [iTunes]

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Mountain Man - Made The HarborMOUNTAIN MAN

The all-girl Vermont trio Mountain Man create beautiful, otherworldly Appalachian harmonies — all shadows and dew and shooting stars — but there’s something very down-to-earth and bodily on their Made The Harbor debut via its focus on soft skin, tendons, bones. Think Fleet Foxes with a 1/4 of the instrumentation.

FROM: Vermont

LINKS: myspace.com/mountainmansquint

ORDER: Sun Dog EP out via Underwater Peoples [Buy], Made The Harbor out via Bella Union/Partisan [Buy]

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Mr. Dream - Scarred For LifeMR. DREAM

Brooklyn trio Mr. Dream play sloppy, shambling post-punk that keeps getting tighter, more angular. If the MySpace updates seem especially well-written, you should blame guitarist/vocalist/Pitchfork contributor Adam Moerder and drummer/Riff Market writer Nick Sylvester. Unlike a bunch of other bands featuring music critics, though, Mr. Dream don’t suck. And unlike a lot of bands in 2010, they don’t rely on laptops. So far they’ve released a steady stream of rambunctious singles — that’ve come with Jesus Lizard, Pixies, and etc., comparisons. Look for another single (this one begging to mention Boris’s Pink?) and then an LP they plan on calling Never Elaborate.

FROM: Brooklyn, NY

LINKS: myspace.com/mrdreamnyc, @mrdreamnyc

ORDER: “Scarred For Life,” self-released

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Perfume Genius - LearningPERFUME GENIUS

Seattle songwriter Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius, explained the inspiration behind his brief, devastatingly beautiful debut Learning: “I spent my whole life hiding from the things that happened to me, to my family and friends … The entirety of all these experiences: abuse, addiction, suicide, all that cool stuff, I couldn’t bear to look at it.” But then he did: He sat himself behind his piano, armed himself with his quavering falsetto, and bashed out 10 heartrending pop lullabies with names like “Write To Your Brother” and “Gay Angels.”

FROM: Seattle, WA

LINKS: myspace.com/kewlmagik

ORDER: Learning, out via Matador.

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Prince Rama - Shadow TemplePRINCE RAMA

Psychedelic Brooklyn trio Prince Rama’s Paw Tracks debut Shadow Temple is perfectly titled: These eight dense, swirling, droning songs — three of which are adaptations of traditional Indian chants — sound like they were recorded in a windy, unlit, holy place. Though they actually recorded it, in part, in Kurt Vonnegut’s grandson’s house and otherwise by Avey Tare and recent tourmate Deakin. All of which also makes sense.

FROM: Brooklyn, NY

LINKS: princerama.com

ORDER: Shadow Temple LP, out via Paw Tracks

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Tamaryn - The WavesTAMARYN

New York-to-San Francisco Siouxsie Sioux-on-My Bloody Valentine duo Tamaryn take their name from their vocalist, but it’s the combination of her atmospheric vocals, a thick bed of warping, smeary instrumentation (via ex-Vue member Rex John Shelverton), and icy hooks that makes their debut The Waves so stunning. It’s petty easy imagining them as staples on vintage 120 Minutes.

FROM: New York/San Francisco

LINKS: myspace.com/imagesmusic, @tamarynmusic

ORDER: The Waves, out 9/14 via Mexican Summer

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Tame Impala - InnerspeakerTAME IMPALA

Aussie quartet Tame Impala took their first steps on a self-tilted EP in 2008, but with this year’s full-length debut Innerspeaker they hit stride with a strain of psychedelic rock that’s one part flanged Cream riffs and another laconically melodic John Lennon vocals, topped with pastoral Dungen swirl, full of spaced-out vamps plowed into 12″ deep grooves, like a calming harsh toke siphoned up a kaleidoscopic glass bubbler. They’re great live, where crowds involuntarily bob heads on slack necks to tunes that are trippy but never tripped out, spacey but always compelling. Tame Impala are psychedelic rock’s best new hope in 2010; Innerspeaker makes the case.

FROM: Perth, Australia

LINKS: tameimpala.com

ORDER: Innerspeaker, out via Modular [Buy]

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Tanlines - Settings EPTANLINES

They dispensed clues to their overall aesthetic via a slew of remixes, but with this year’s Settings EP the duo of Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm — two Brooklyn-band vets who’ve put in time with far-flung projects like dance-punk outfit Professor Murder and the mainly math-rock crew Don Caballero, respectively — emerged with something sweeter and more immediate/cohesive than expected. The collection’s tracks trade in a balmy, Ibiza-inflected sort of tropical guitar and synth-pop, part party-starting, part heart-worn. Live the percussion is pre-recorded and triggered, the vocals and guitar work created on the spot, and crowds are increasingly carefree and sweaty. It’s balmy beat music made for Barcelona by way of Brooklyn.

FROM: Brooklyn, NY

LINKS: myspace.com/tanlinestheband, @tanlines

ORDER: Settings EP, out via True Panther [Buy]

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Teengirl Fantasy - 7AMTEENGIRL FANTASY

The duo of Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss are Teengirl Fantasy who, like Blondes, formed at Ohio’s Oberlin College. And like Blondes, it’s beats and a particular take on dance music that are at the core of Teengirl’s music, though their glazed, and hazed compositions are less future-hypnotic than dreamily nostalgic (to wit, check their homepage), and know how to make good use of a proper soul sample (to wit, check “Cheaters”). Their full-length debut is due soon on True Panther/Merok, following singles on Dick Move and another on Merok.

FROM: Oberlin College, OH

LINKS: teengirlfantasy.angelfire.com, MySpace

ORDER: 7AM is out 9/14 via True Panther [Buy], “Portofino” 7″ out via Merok

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TennisTENNIS

Denver husband/wife duo Tennis lived on a sailboat at some point — You get that rush of sun and wind in their Spector-esque ’60s girl-group summer pop, especially via Alaina Moore’s buoyant vocals.

FROM: Denver, CO

LINKS: myspace.com/tennisinc, @tennismanwharf

ORDER: Tennis 7″ sold-out via Underwater Peoples

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Twin Sister - Color Your Life EPTWIN SISTER

Long Island quintet Twin Sister released a pair of EPs this past year that have firmed their position as one of the first bands out of our mouths when asked to extemporaneously rattle off our favorite new acts of 2010. With Color Your Life, the gentle folk and painterly melodies of Vampires Dreaming With Kids’ high points have been given additional scope, mixed now with a plush Stereolab push and kraut-like thump to their spacious hush, the rhythm section’s versatility as evident as the counter-melodic and atmospheric guitars and keyboard lines. Vocalist Andrea Estrella either tops or anchors it, depending on where you choose to access their multi-dimensional but cohesive and organic sounds, with intimate coos inside night sky ballad and starry grooves, effortlessly romantic, recalling many great front women but no one in particular, rooted in great things but ultimately unique. Start with “All Around And Away We Go,” a spacey, breathy, endlessly catchy dance cut and the finest of many possible entry points.

FROM: Long Island, NY

LINKS: twinsistermusic.com, twitter.com/twinsistermusic

ORDER: Color Your Life EP out via Infinite Best [Buy]

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Warpaint - The FoolWARPAINT

The ladies of Warpaint give good press shot, look great on video; in 2008 the self-released the Exquisite Corpse EP (re-released by Manimal Vinly the next year) that was produced by Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante. To that extent, theirs is a name we’ve known for a bit. However it’s since this year’s SXSW, where their lineup’s been finalized with the technically terrific Stella Mozgawa confirmed as drummer and immediately impacting the band’s sound, that they seem to have started in earnest. The live show since have been practically sublime, certainly breathtaking, and most impressive not just for the quick chemistry the quartet has displayed but the quality of the writing on new songs set for The Fool, their full-length debut out this fall. Try “Undertow,” for instance: Where previously posted tracks like “Elephants” and “Stars” traded in darkened, gauzy, sporadically dynamic hypnotica, this one is less about groove meditation and more about memorable melody, evocative phrasing, song-structural development. Promising.

FROM: Los Angeles, CA

LINKS: warpaintwarpaint.com, @_Warpaint

ORDER: Exquisite Corpse EP out via Manimal Vinyl [Buy], The Fool LP out 10/26 via Rough Trade [UK Pre-order]

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Wild Nothing - GeminiWILD NOTHING

Jack Tatum started Wild Nothing in Blacksburg, VA, but his elastic falsetto and ’80s dream-pop haze are more evocative of UK groups like the Cocteau Twins, the Shop Assistants, the Smiths, vintage 4AD, and certain Swedes like the Radio Dept. than the American South. On Gemini, his assured full-length debut, Tatum cycles through variations on pop prettiness, packing 13 songs with amazing atmosphere and classic hooks.

FROM: Blacksburg, VA

LINKS: myspace.com/wildnothing

ORDER: Gemini LP out via Captured Tracks

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WU LYFWU LYF

Mysterious, ballsy Nick Cave-loving Manchester post-rock crew WU LYF (aka World Unite/Lucifer Youth Foundation, What Up/Loving Young Females, WU LF, Tu-Wang Gang, etc.) overlap fractured guitars with fervent, tortured vocals on songs with titles like “I Got Dem Wu Wu Busted Teef Spitting It Concrete Like The Golden Sun God.” The results are weirdly mystical-feeling, religious.

FROM: Manchester, UK

LINKS: wulyf.org

ORDER: N/A

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Zola Jesus - Sea TalkZOLA JESUS

Nika Roza Danilova made her presence known in Former Ghosts with Freddy Ruppert and Jamie Stewart. Across various singles and other releases, though, the L.A.-via-Wisconsin chanteuse’s stadium-sized operatic voice and stormy, apocalyptic persona work best when she’s on her own, everything congealing perfectly on 2010′s Stridulum EP. Consider her a goth My Brightest Diamond, a truly living pop Jarboe.

FROM: Madison, WI

LINKS: myspace.com/zolajesus, @zolajesus

ORDER: Valusia EP out 10/12, and the Stridium EP out now, both via Sacred Bones

To recap, in alphabetical order:

1. Active Child
2. Balam Acab
3. Baths
4. Best Coast
5. Blondes
6. Braids
7. Candy Claws
8. ceo
9. Cloud Nothings
10. Cults
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
12. DOM
13. Dominant Legs
14. Frank (Just Frank)
15. Frankie Rose And The Outs
16. Games
17. Gayngs
18. Givers
19. Glasser
20. Gold Panda
21. How To Dress Well
22. Julian Lynch
23. Kingdom
24. Lower Dens
25. Minks
26. MNDR
27. Mountain Man
28. Mr. Dream
29. Perfume Genius
30. Prince Rama
31. Tamaryn
32. Tame Impala
33. Tanlines
34. Teengirl Fantasy
35. Tennis
36. Twin Sister
37. Warpaint
38. Wild Nothing
39. WU LYF
40. Zola Jesus

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Forty new bands, one mix, two sides:
Stereogum’s 40 Best New Bands Of 2010 Side A (.zip)
Stereogum’s 40 Best New Bands Of 2010 Side B (.zip)

Congratulation Class Of 2010. Wear sunscreen.

Comments (142)
  1. It’s weird that they stopped making music in Portland, isn’t it?

  2. No Sleigh Bells? They were 2010, right?

    Thanks for the list & the mix!

    • Check the 2nd graf ;)

      • Your way of choosing bands makes no sense at all. Sleigh Bells is omitted because they felt more like an ’09 band? They had zero official releases last year aside from MySpace tracks. Yet you put Wild Nothing on here, who had an EP or two out before 2010 and were buzzed about last year more so than Sleigh Bells.

        If there’s anything to be said about Stereogum’s best new bands list of 2010, it’s messed up just like the site’s layout. I can’t even read half the stuff on here because of all the ads leaking onto the text. This site has gone downhill big time and now you guys can’t even put together a decent list.

  3. how about Julia the Menace from Brooklyn?

  4. SALEM has a unique sound, I wish I had seen them live… I LOVE YOU JACK
    SALEM
    KING NIGHT
    !WORD

  5. I think you meant Stereogum’s 40 Best New Bedroom “Pop” Projects of 2010. What happened to BANDS?

  6. Lost: one pair of balls. If found, please return to 2010.

  7. How did The Head and the Heart not make the cut?!

  8. I feel like Sleigh Bells deserved inclusion. I didn’t really pay attention to them until the album version of “Tell ‘em” was released. I now know about all the CMJ hype, but I feel like until an artist has released official material (not demos or live recordings) there isn’t enough material to base discussion on. I’m sure people at CMJ were talking about them, but for 99% of the current Sleigh Bells fans that weren’t there, Sleigh Bells was a 2010 thing.

    I also feel like James Blake should be on here, he’s produced some brilliant stuff, and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t too talked about until January.

    That said, this seems like a pretty fair and balanced list, good job! I like that it’s in alphabetical order, ranking “best new bands” seems like a task that would necessarily involve a lot of arbitrary placement.

  9. Congratulations specially to Balam Acab and Kingdom.

  10. Really authoritative list, guys. Thanks so much. I will spend much of tonight listening to more songs here. Keep those facebook updates coming.

  11. It all mostly sounds like a lo-fi bedroom pop bonanza. . . . . .boring. I’m ready for a new trend in music.

    • glo-fi must die

      glofimustdie.com

    • The good news is, all these artists have perpetual music-project ADD, so precious few of these bands are sustainable. Bad news is, the media-marketing “airtime” of (gasp) established bands, who’ve had their mettle tested and passed, is getting jacked by these immutably indistinguishable “music projects,” pushing adjectives like “dreamy, ephemerally atmospheric, ear-warming, pulsing, “whisper-close hazed-out,” chilly, psychedelic, fuzzy, . If I NEVER heard a band described as “breezy island sounds” again it would be too soon. I mean seriously. What the hell is going on here.

    • Fuck you and your “trends”. You do realise it’s this exact kind of attitude that is propagating the homogenisation of music in general?

  12. FENNNCCCCCCEEEEESSSSSSSS

  13. still don’t get the Best Coast hype, but yay, Dominant Legs & Gold Panda & Tanlines & Cults! although generally, my top 2010 bands list veers more in the Stornoway, Admiral Fallow, and Goldheart Assembly direction

    also, can I just say, fabulous job on the formatting? A++++

  14. This seems so bizarre, I mean year end lists makes sense, as does the whole “Bands To Watch” section (even if its just Stereogum basically taking a shot in the dark so if the band blows up they can take credit) but what the fuck is this? Most of these bands barely have an EP to their name, much less an album. You could have easily just made a mix tape with each of their best (or only) single and let us decide from there. But instead you’re actively hyping a bunch of bedroom projects that will most likely break up in 2011 due to their Macbook crashing. Go back to covering real bands.

  15. Very nice list, but how about some Big Troubles action!?

  16. summer camp?

  17. fruityloops eats guitars. anyone want my les paul?

  18. year of the drum machine?
    bored.

  19. Most of these bands sound exactly the same. Games, Candy Claws, Baths. It’s all the same lo-fi synth pop ‘chillwave’ stuff.

  20. No. 41 – Computer Magic!!

  21. No Kisses? You guys have been giving them a lot of love and even premiered their video a few weeks back! That’s disappointing.

  22. Ummmm…. so with the caboodle of rules you didn’t notice that Zola Jesus put out a full length album last year or that Best Coast’s The Sun Was High (So Was I) started buzzing over a year ago? Oh well, at least Zola Jesus actually started buzzing after this year’s EP. Best Coast, on the other hand, definitely “old news”.

    Agree with the comments above about a bunch of these being the “bedroom projects” that no one will talk about in a year or so… having said that, I’m downloading for the handful that I don’t know. Hope there’s a surprise somewhere in there.

  23. Well, 2010 isn’t even over yet and later this month The Hundred in the Hands release a full-length. They sound good live and on their recent EP as well. For acoustic, I like First Aid Kit LP of this year as well.

  24. I would have put these bands on the list:

    Beach Fossils
    Foxes In Fiction
    Male Bonding
    Tamryn

  25. Wise Blood

  26. pshh i would have included the static jacks. my parents lied has been the song of my summer

  27. Lower dens and warpaint are the only thing redeeming on this list, everything else is just one man band electro bullshit and chick bands that sound the same. Sometimes I dont know why I keep coming here this site seems to introduce me to maybe one new band a month that I like. What else am I gonna do though… le sigh. :(

  28. Gauntlet Hair!!!!

  29. Way to go Stereogum for not actually doing a rating list, grow some balls.

    RECAP:

    ALPHABETICAL LISTS = NO BALLS.

    That’s like making a Christmas list and not putting the pony at the top. NO. THE PONY is always #1. I know your trying to not offend anyone, but if you really want readers commenting again on your new “you must sign in to like/dislike” Blog that is constantly being engulfed in a giant advertisement for Gap, or Coca-cola, or I dunno, COLGATE TOOTHPASTE, than maybe you should stir up a little controversy. Like, ya know, giving one of these bands that #1 spot. You owe it to us Stereogum, and you owe it to yourself.

    In other news, NOTHING BUT LUVVV!

  30. the xtc song you referenced in the Frank(just frank) section is actually “Mayor of Simpleton” fyi. Great article. look forward to downloading the mixtape

    • thanks, xtc typo fixed. (the song’s an old favorite, of course.) take a look at your comment on the valdur article for more frank (just frank) info.

  31. I’m also very shocked to see no Sleigh Bells.

    Asides from that, thanks for the Tennis, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and Mr. Dream introductions.

  32. thanks for the kingdom inclusion – his website has an extra K though, its http://www.kkingdomm.com

  33. top candidate for this list in 2011: The Dust Engineers
    led by a 19 year old kid from south dakota, for those who want to hear a morricone/shields collabo
    they’re part of the No Horse Town collective and are playing their first nyc gig at the Bowery Poetry Club this saturday, debut ep streamable at nohorsetown.com
    yeah yeah its a plug, i blog at no horse town, but whateva the dust engineers are super duper

  34. Wow, music is getting worse and worse everyday.

  35. Definitely missing:

    Slow Animal: http://www.myspace.com/slowanimal

    And Gauntlet Hair: http://www.myspace.com/gauntlethair

    Too many bedroom projects, not a whole lota talent in fucking around with garage band.

  36. Let’s try this again… These are new bands I like, I don’t know them personally. And I won’t put links to their pages, just names. Hopefully my comment won’t get deleted.

    Me You Us Them – Put out “Post-data” the best album of year, hands down, in my opinion. It’s a shame these dudes aren’t getting recognition, the record is a masterpiece and they’re a badass live three piece. And they’re from Brooklyn!

    Dead Twins – Anybody complaining that there aren’t real bands with balls anymore, this is your jam. Think Dinosaur Jr., Soundgarden. Big azz everything: riffs, drums, singing. From Dallas, TX.

    Jamaica – Surprised this wasn’t on the list. A rock band produced by the one of the dudes from Justice. “Short and Entertaining” is my favorite song of the year. From France.

    Shigeto – The best electronic stuff I’ve heard this year. Can’t describe, just check out the monster jam, “Grandma’s Words/Rise Out of The Stone”. From Ann Arbor, MI, now residing in Brooklyn.

    I’m not trying to discredit this list. There’s some good stuff here. I just want to share some more great new stuff that isn’t here. Hope that’s okay…

  37. i really like what i’m hearing…primarily because i have a deep appreciation and love of electronic music. Music shouldn’t be judged by the locale or means by which it is made. This is some good stuff. Thanks Stereogum.

  38. No Twin Shadow?

  39. Gotta say, I haven’t listened to a single one of these bands. I pretty much dropped out of the new band scene this year.

  40. Pretty good list to me… I’m loving this lo-fi electronic stuff! and I’m glad Sleigh Bells wasn’t included. They are the most over-hyped artist of the past year (i know, i know… i’m alone on this one).

    Other artists I really dig from this year: Keepaway, Chad Valley (looking forward to a release!), and Toro Y Moi (I know he’s had releases in the past, but you could say the same for Warpaint… I saw them in ’07)

  41. Would just like to say Frank (Just Frank) is friggen’ awesome. *triple hearts* for the Brutal Wave. This album is satisfying me the way A Place to Bury Stangers’ sophomore didn’t.

  42. The main themes of 2010 seem to me to be (disappointing?) albums by established acts and a lot of overhyped lo-fi/chillwave “projects”. With the exception of maybe Sleigh Bells and Tame Impala, I can’t really see listening to any of this a year from now. And I feel like on Pitchfork so many bands are getting inflated ratings. Are the new Wavves and Best Coast really 0.2 worse than The Suburbs or 0.3 worse than High Violet? I mean last year Stereogum posted “Is …. the best album of 2009?” multiple times. I just don’t see it this year.

    • I think 2010 has been an amazing year for music so far. Just not for the music listed here. Great albums by Arcade Fire, Band of Horses, Dead Weather, Wolf Parade, Autolux (YES AUTOLUX), The National, MGMT, Spoon, Gorrilaz, Jonsi, Joanna Newsom, Broken Social Scene, etc etc just to name very very few. IMHO very few of these bands would make a “best albums of 2010″ list.

  43. wow – can we get some rock, or something uptempo, or even well crafted pop that doesn’t put you to sleep! – not to rag on the the bands featured here – I enjoyed a number of these ( Best Coast, Cults, Minks, and Mr. Dream) – BUT, someone out there must still rock with a three or four piece band – maybe this music is the type necessary in today’s world, so everyone can still tap tap tap on their phone to the person on the other side of the bar – music that would require more involvement might take away from technology time?

  44. A list without The Head and The Heart? Clearly you haven’t looked too hard.

  45. PURO INSTINCT deserve a nod. Aside from “Luv Goon” their intial recordings left a lot to be desired, but their last EP was a big improvement, and they have gotten pretty tight live. I was veryyy impressed when I saw them open for Ariel Pink.

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