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.
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
ORDER: Curtis Lane EP, out via Filter [Buy]
- Active Child – “Wilderness”Download
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
- Balam Acab – “Regret Making Mistakes”Download
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
- Baths – “Hall”Download
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
ORDER: Crazy For You LP, out via Mexican Summer
- Best Coast – “Boyfriend”Download
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)
- Blondes – “Spanish Fly”Download
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
ORDER: Native Speaker LP, out 1/18 via Kanine
- Braids – “Lemonade”Download
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
- Candy Claws – “Silent Time Of Earth”Download
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
- ceo – “Come With Me”Download
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
- Cloud Nothings – “Didn’t You”Download
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)
- Cults – “Go Outside”Download
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
ORDER: Horse Power EP, out via Quite Scientific
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – “Vocal Chords”Download
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
ORDER: Sun Bronzed Greek Gods EP, out via Burning Mill Records
- DOM – “Living In America”Download
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
ORDER: Young At Love And Life EP out via Lefse
- Dominant Legs – “Young At Love And Life”Download
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
ORDER: The Brutal Wave LP, out via Wierd
- Frank (Just Frank) – “Coeur Hanté”Download
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
- Frankie Rose And The Outs – “Little Brown Haired Girls”Download
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
ORDER: “Everything Is Working”/”Heartland” 7″ self-released, That We Can Play EP due soon. [Download]
- Games – “Everything Is Working”Download
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
- Gayngs – “Faded High”Download
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
- Givers – “Up Up Up”Download
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
- Glasser – “Home”Download
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
- Gold Panda – “Quitters Raga”Download
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.
ORDER: Love Remains out 9/21 on Lefse
- How To Dress Well – “Take It On”Download
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
- Julian Lynch – “Rancher”Download
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
- Restless People – “Days Of Our Lives (Kingdom Remix)”Download
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
ORDER: Twin-Hand Movement LP out via Gnonmonsong [Buy]
- Lower Dens – “Tea Lights”Download
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
ORDER: New LP due 11/11 via Captured Tracks
- Minks – “Funeral Song”Download
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
- MNDR – “I Go Away”Download
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.
- Mountain Man – “Soft Skin”Download
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
ORDER: “Scarred For Life,” self-released
- Mr Dream – “Scarred For Life”Download
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
ORDER: Learning, out via Matador.
- Perfume Genius – “Learning”Download
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
ORDER: Shadow Temple LP, out via Paw Tracks
- Prince Rama – “Lightening Fossil”Download
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
ORDER: The Waves, out 9/14 via Mexican Summer
- Tamaryn – “Love Fade”Download
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
- Tame Impala – “Runway, Houses, City, Clouds”Download
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
- Tanlines – “Real Life”Download
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
- Teengirl Fantasy – “Cheaters”Download
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
ORDER: Tennis 7″ sold-out via Underwater Peoples
- Tennis – “Marathon”Download
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
- Twin Sister – “All Around And Away We Go”Download
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
- Warpaint – “Elephants”Download
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
ORDER: Gemini LP out via Captured Tracks
- Wild Nothing – “Chinatown”Download
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
- WU LYF – “Heavy Pop”Download
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
ORDER: Valusia EP out 10/12, and the Stridium EP out now, both via Sacred Bones
- Zola Jesus – “Sea Talk”Download
To recap, in alphabetical order:
1. Active Child
2. Balam Acab
4. Best Coast
7. Candy Claws
9. Cloud Nothings
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
13. Dominant Legs
14. Frank (Just Frank)
15. Frankie Rose And The Outs
20. Gold Panda
21. How To Dress Well
22. Julian Lynch
24. Lower Dens
27. Mountain Man
28. Mr. Dream
29. Perfume Genius
30. Prince Rama
32. Tame Impala
34. Teengirl Fantasy
36. Twin Sister
38. Wild Nothing
39. WU LYF
40. Zola Jesus
Congratulation Class Of 2010. Wear sunscreen.