List

Stereogum’s 50 Best New Bands Of 2015

Spencer Radcliffe

CREDIT: Nathan Dragon

LOCATION: Chicago, IL

Spencer Radcliffe’s career can be traced from sometime around 2008 on when he first started recording under the moniker Blithe Field, but his Run For Cover release Looking In is technically his debut full-length. Radcliffe’s songs evoke a sense of warmth despite their lonely aesthetic, the hiss of a tape pulling you into a claustrophobic soundscape of unspecified emotion. Radcliffe’s music is evocative without inciting a crisis, and though it may cradle you in your darkest hours, it could also soundtrack the best day of your life. —Gabriela

Sports

LOCATION: Gambier, OH

Sports aren’t even a band anymore — All Of Something is their second and last album — but they’re the kind of act whose impact will be cited by similarly-inclined underground bands. Their two records are perfect slices of adolescent punk, full of clever and biting songs with catchy hooks and a whole lot to say. Sports feel like a jumping off point for a bunch of promising careers and, in a few years time, it feels like we’ll look back on them with the kind of reverence we have for acts like P. S. Eliot. —James

Tobias Jesso Jr.

CREDIT: Sandy Kim

LOCATION: Vancouver, BC

There’s crooning and then there are crooners. With a voice designed to communicate pain, Tobias Jesso Jr. falls into the latter category; he stretches out languorous lyrics until they sound beautiful while simultaneously breaking your heart. Jesso traces the lineage of other great lounge singers on Goon, a debut album with a purposefully goofy name and at least three moonlit heartache ballads worth venerating for decades to come. Misty, decadent, and soulful, Jesso’s broken heart just might have earned him a spot in the canon. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope he can replicate that soon with a batch of love songs. —Caitlin

Tove Lo

LOCATION: Stockholm, Sweden

Killer synthpop from Sweden is nothing new, but on Queen Of The Clouds, Tove Lo made it feel like the first time we’d heard the stuff. She writes music that ventures under the skin, past the glitz and the booze, past our icy exteriors, back toward the still-beating heart of what makes a pop song tick: breakup as death, sex as eternity, love as a drug. These over-the-top, thundering declarations about physical and emotional intimacy almost uniformly center around loss, and they hinge on the space between expectation and reality. In that way Queen Of The Clouds was the perfect pop prism, a hologram of love’s sky-high possibilities delivered from the depths of despair. She distilled the bleakness until it was uplifting. Long may she reign. —Caitlin

Trust Fund

CREDIT: Bert Clark

LOCATION: Bristol, UK

Bristol has traditionally been known for post-punk, trip-hop, and various forms of vaguely dark, electronic music — chipper lo-fi rock, not so much. But Ellis Jones is the city’s best sonic export in recent memory, and he specializes in the kind of scrappy indie-pop that’s been experiencing a renaissance all over the Western world. His songs as Trust Fund are typically short and sweet, but they’re delivered with just enough of a skew to keep them interesting. To wit: When he really hits his stride, as on genius single “Cut Me Out,” Jones sounds like a precocious child doing his best imitation of ’90s rock radio. —Chris

Vanum

LOCATION: Seattle, WA/Brooklyn, NY

When people talk about USBM (i.e. United States Black Metal, in case that wasn’t clear), they’re talking less about region than about a particular style of composition and sound: buzzing, roaring, haunting, ambient, slow-build, high-dynamic marathon-length epics that can be either meditative or assaultive, depending on how you approach them. M. Rekevics and K. Morgan already play in two of the subgenre’s best bands — Fell Voices and Ash Borer, respectively — but their new collaborative project, Vanum, might represent the best work of either of their illustrious careers. Vanum’s Profound Lore debut, Realm Of Sacrifice, is both a perfect embodiment of the style and an apotheosis of sorts, maybe even a new standard. When people talk about USBM, this is what they’re talking about. —Michael

Viet Cong

CREDIT: Mallory Turner

LOCATION: Calgary, AB

Soon we’ll be referring to these four Canadian white guys by a different name, so let’s focus on the music. It’s fantastic music: raw and scraping, delivered with a brute-force primitivism that makes it feel less like the work of men than hyper-intelligent beasts who discovered fire and turned it into post-punk. But this band’s appeal is not all about visceral impact; their self-titled debut album boasts rich harmonic density, haunting vocals, and high-register guitar parts with a neon glint. In a world where Wolf Parade broke up and the once-mighty Interpol have became a shadow of a parody, we needed a band like this. —Chris

Violent Reaction

LOCATION: Merseyside, UK

Boots-and-bottles British working-class street-punk has been an influence on hoodies-and-sneakers American straight-edge hardcore pretty much since it came into existence. And now here come these hairless hardasses smashing the two genres into each other hard enough that it’s impossible to tell where one starts and the other ends. Violent Reaction play fast and loud and simple and brutish music about kicking your fucking head in, and there are moments when that is exactly what you need out of life. They have no off-switch, and every song sounds like every other song. But since every song is an anthem, that’s a good thing. —Tom

Woozy

CREDIT: Ben Davis

LOCATION: New Orleans, LA

Don’t let the name fool you: There’s nothing on this trio’s debut album that even sounds close to that tired old adjective. Instead, Woozy are splintered and sharp, and the band members play off each other like they’ve been performing together their entire lives. That interplay allows the band to pull off some truly memorable and captivating musical twists and turns, and their tight relationship bodes well for the future. —James

Yung

CREDIT: Pat Graham

LOCATION: Aarhus, Denmark

Ferocious post-punk from barely-adult Danes should have no other name but Yung. Fronted by 21-year-old Mikkel Holm Silkjær, these songs ooze angst, aggression, joy, and delight. Built around tornados of guitar noise and existential-leaning lyrics, Yung manage to sound like veterans even as they embark on some of their first-ever shows. These songs hum with delicacy even as they mount to world-destroying crescendos, intricate, lush explorations of just how loud the feelings of youth can be. —Caitlin