List

Stereogum’s 50 Best New Bands Of 2015

Naps

CREDIT: Whitney Borkowski

LOCATION: Tallahassee, FL

The kind of muffled bedroom punk that Naps practice in is well-worn, but the Tallahassee four-piece have such a good and naturalistic handle on it that their debut EP, You Will Live In A Cool Box, come across like a soft punch to the gut. You can still tell they’re figuring themselves out, but they have an easy-to-embrace sincerity about them, and tracks like “Jean Skirt Mystique,” personal-song-of-the-year contender “Sandspurs,” and their charming Sky Ferreira cover demonstrate that this band has already tapped into something great. —James

Natalie Prass

CREDIT: Shawn Brackbill

LOCATION: Nashville, TN

Prass, from Nashville, recorded her sparkling self-titled debut at Matthew E. White’s Spacebomb studio in Richmond, taking full advantage of the lush arrangements that thrive in that space. Her music has touches of the expansive, orchestral soul and country music of the ’70s, as well as things like Broadway songs and even showstopping Disney-movie ballads. But while many voices might be overwhelmed with all that finery around them, Prass has a disarming, lively chirp that shines straight through all of it. It’s been a long time since we’ve heard a debut album this joyously lovely. —Tom

Outfit

LOCATION: Liverpool, UK

Psychedelia is the lived-in moment between spiritual and physical existence; a rift in the logic of the universe and its internal colors. Outfit are a band that live inside that rift, plummeting through pop, noise, blues, funk and arriving always at nostalgia, or the longing for something that will never return. Their second album, Slowness, swims through pop sludge and sorrow, facing down the mounting darkness with flickering grooves and ambient conviction. Sometimes these songs sound ready for a warehouse rave, other times, a grand ballroom. Outfit make mutated psych-pop for those in the midst of grief — which is all of us, really. —Caitlin

Palm

LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA

When we named Palm a Band To Watch this year, I compared their music to fractals — unending sets of patterns that radiate out from a song’s basic structure to create limitless iterations of its initial sound. Trading Basics is as inventive and daring as a debut can be, somehow managing to syphon a small fragment of Palm’s often improvisational, mathy live shows into something cohesive and inviting for first-time listeners. —Gabriela

PWR BTTM

CREDIT: Andrew Piccone

LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY

PWR BTTM smoothed the rough edges of their debut EP and turned out a polished and powerful debut album, Ugly Cherries, that’s as heavy on the riffs as it is on the message. Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce switch off instruments and vocals on practically every song, and the whole project has a similarly communal, anything-goes feel. That energy transfers over to their high-energy live performances and, with such a strong start under their belts, they could even end up ushering in a whole new generation of queer punks. —James

Rae Sremmurd

LOCATION: Tupelo, MS

“No Flex Zone” was popping last summer, and “No Type” surpassed its success last fall, but not until SremmLife dropped at the dawn of 2015 did it become clear Rae Sremmurd were the most consistently great pop-rap group in recent memory. These guys make pure party music, and they’re really fucking good at it, splattering maniacal grunts and ping-pong singsong all over the beat with a rhythmic and melodic intuition most songwriters can’t even approach. It doesn’t hurt to have Atlanta superproducer Mike Will Made It behind them, smartly evolving the hulking, cavernous production he made his name on into something fizzy and fun. It’s one of the most potent instances of rapper-producer chemistry; their energy is so contagious that it’s no wonder other rappers are already scoring hits by ripping them off. —Chris

Shamir

CREDIT: Matthew Perri Thomas

LOCATION: Las Vegas, NV

Shamir Bailey’s voice is a euphoric chiffon swoop, and it sounds like freedom. As a young teenager, Bailely dreamed of becoming a country singer, and there’s every chance that he’ll do that someday, and do it well. (If you’ve ever watched Bailey cover a country song on YouTube, you already know.) But before he was out of his teens, he hit on the musical genre that fit that voice the best, at least for now: Old-school, body-jacking disco-house, the sort of thing that would’ve annihilated a Chicago nightclub in 1986. Ratchet, Bailey’s debut album, is hard and urgent and raw and pretty, and it might just be the year’s best debut. —Tom

Shelf Life

CREDIT: Ethan Holland

LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA

Scotty Leitch stepped out of Alex G’s ever-broadening shadow to record as Shelf Life, moving from behind the sound board to bring his jagged slowcore into the spotlight. Leitch’s solo debut, Everyone Make Happy, grapples with all the forces that seek to keep us dwelling in the dark and dismal places. By beaming his attention toward these nooks and crannies, Leitch’s music helps excavate depression, giving us a shoulder to lean on in the process. Shelf Life melts down shambolic references with fuzzed-out static, psych-folk, and incisive, personal songwriting to tell the story of those waiting in the wings. The result is an album that doesn’t feel like the work of a supporting actor, but a star in his own right. —Caitlin

Shopping

CREDIT: Steve Glashier

LOCATION: London, UK

It’s one thing to play post-punk. It’s another thing to play post-punk with all the nervous, jittery, excited energy that made the late-’70s and early-’80s originators of the genre resonate so deeply. It’s hard to talk about this trio without mentioning the Raincoats or the Slits or the Delta 5, and while that might not say great things about their originality, it’s a great thing regardless. On their big-leap sophomore album Why Choose, Shopping play with a raw urgency that the past few generations of revivalists have mostly lacked, and their mocking hopscotch melodies just sing. —Tom

Shura

LOCATION: London, UK

Alexandra Denton has spent her young career tantalizing us, letting a new single trickle out every few months. And although she’s only about five tracks deep, her aesthetic feels both broadly inclusive and unmistakably her. In an era so saturated with ’80s and ’90s pop pastiche that those sounds have almost become the audio equivalent of artistic bankruptcy, Shura’s music brims with life. Denton and company work wonders with soft synths, electronic drums, and words that could double as diary pages. The ballads hit like jams, and the jams are gentle enough to be ballads. If we’re truly entering the age of the introverted pop star as The New York Times purports, this woman is the best we’ve got. —Chris

Slonk Donkerson

LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY

Yes, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but if they called those things “shitweeds,” the floral industry would look a whole lot different than it does today. So you gotta get over the fact that this Brooklyn trio has chosen the moniker Slonk Donkerson. I’m not issuing a command, mind you, just stating a fact of life. It’s an obstacle! But once you’ve cleared it, there’s a wealth of musical riches to be experienced. Slonk Donkerson play aggressive, guitar-heavy power pop that feels like part of a lineage including bands like the Replacements, Guided By Voices, and the Strokes, although it shares DNA with a whole world of other stuff, too, like ELO, Rush, Thin Lizzy … Ultimately, though, it’s all about the hooks, and on Slonk’s new LP, The Lunar Martini Motorbike Club And Their Respective Destinies, the hooks are everywhere. Like thorns, really, in a veritable rose garden of songs. —Michael

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