List

Stereogum’s 40 Best New Bands Of 2016

Pill

CREDIT: Peter Senzamici

LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY

Doing political music well is a wobbly tightrope walk that many artists and bands don’t have the balance for, but art-punk quartet Pill took huge, confident steps on their debut Convenience. Veronica Torres keeps the ear intrigued with a deft mix of poetry, rants, laments, affirmations, and daggers — all with mark-leaving bite — and the band has a matching sound that lifts them all to resounding heights. And when they drop knowledge from up there, it doesn’t fall like an Acme anvil on your head. It’s more like a feather you’ll barely feel that will leave you with just as big a lump. –Collin

Pinegrove

CREDIT: Andrew Piccone

LOCATION: Montclair, NJ

This Jersey band is a product of the same emo revival scene that gave us Modern Baseball and plenty of bands that sound like Modern Baseball. And Pinegrove’s yelpy sincerity fits in with that, but it also reaches back to the dusty, anthemic Americana of the alt-country universe, as well as the insular and instinctive guitargasms of Built To Spill. Together all those elements blur together to turn Cardinal, technically the band’s debut, into one of the most heartfelt and cathartic guitar-rock records we’ve heard in some time — a piece of the sort of prime road-trip music that almost nobody makes anymore. –Tom

serpentwithfeet

CREDIT: Elliott Brown Jr.

LOCATION: New York, NY

There’s no easy way to describe the music that Josiah Wise makes as serpentwithfeet. It’s devotional R&B folding in on itself, a gothic landscape of pops and hisses and string rondos and virtuosic melisma. Wise is trained for classical music, and there’s an element of that in there, too. But there’s also the forbidding murk of collaborator the Haxan Cloak, who produced Wise’s blisters EP. It’s music that tears itself apart beautifully. Wise himself calls it “pagan gospel,” and that’s as good a description as anything else. –Tom

Show Me The Body

CREDIT: Samuel Eugene

LOCATION: Queens, NY

Show Me The Body is a band name that promises intensity, and Show Me The Body are a band that delivers. All three members have spent their whole lives in New York City, and their debut full-length Body War sounds like the product of an entire city’s accumulated waste and pollution and corruption, twisting hardcore, hip-hop, and post-punk into one roiling mass of distorted riffs and lurching rhythms. They play “underground” music in the sense that’s it’s subterranean and dark and sweaty, and they play it like they just crawled out of a sewer and they’re pissed off about the smell. –Peter

Soccer Mommy

CREDIT: Justin Fargiano

LOCATION: New York, NY

The songs on For Young Hearts — Soccer Mommy’s fourth release in the past year and her most fully-realized yet — play out the warm haze of love in slow motion, chronicling its promising initial spark, inevitable deadening, and all the wishy-washy emotions in between. The casual way in which Sophie Allison sings “I’m think I’m falling, baby, and I won’t ever let you go” on highlight “Skinned Knees” speaks to how easy it is to slip into old habits and new loves, and how absolutely enchanting Soccer Mommy’s music can be. –James

Strange Ranger

LOCATION: Portland, OR

Strange Ranger are really two best new bands in one. After releasing their sprawling 73-minute debut Rot Forever in February, Sioux Falls changed their name to Strange Ranger, condensed their lineup from a trio to a duo, and softened their ’90s guitar anthems into something quieter and prettier and sadder. Compared to the wordy double album Rot Forever, the Sunbeams Through Your Head EP feels small and intimate, content to let its impressionistic contemplation unfurl slowly and gradually. On its own, it’s good, but as an indication of where Strange Ranger are headed next, it’s even better. –Peter

T-Rextasy

CREDIT: Andrew Piccone

LOCATION: New York, NY

I once compared T-Rextasy to No Doubt, and that bold statement still stands. This is a band that proves there are infinite iterations of “punk,” that you can be a take-no-prisoners role model and vulnerable at the same time. T-Rextasy are based in New York City, but there isn’t a single band in their surrounding scene that sounds like this; they’re fiercely independent and in a league of their own. This band takes down toxic masculinity with the sneering confidence of teens on the brink of adulthood who think they know what’s best. And T-Rextasy have the talent, the songwriting skills, and the charisma, to make that vision of a better future their reality. –Gabriela

Weaves

CREDIT: Brendan George Ko

LOCATION: Toronto, ON

Weaves’ self-titled LP zig-zags about with a muddied, frantic energy. They made kitchen sink rock that feels artful and immediate, and each of their tracks are filled with enough whosists and whatsits to make your head spin. Jasmyn Burke’s voice provides a gooey, fearsome center for the rest of the four-piece to build up big rubber band balls of tension and noise before letting all of them snap at once. It’s a skill that proves winsome throughout their debut, and promises even more escalating heights to come. –James

Yohuna

CREDIT: Brian Vu

LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY

Patientness — not patience — is the name of Yohuna’s debut full-length, and it characterizes the music to a T. Johanne Swanson slowly unfurls minimal soundscapes that require a bit of waiting to hit the crescendo, but it pays off every time. The slow build of emotion, soundscape, and tension seem to hit at the right moment on every track, and she can manipulate this formula for any emotion she damn well pleases. Her ability to communicate a mood is uncanny. –Collin

Young M.A

CREDIT: Guy Blelloch

LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY

Young M.A is more than just some Bobby Shmurda fill-in. Yes, “OOOUUU” sounds a lot like “Hot Nigga” and she’s from Brooklyn, but that’s where the similarities end. She went viral without an accompanying dance that Drake cosigned. And maybe Shmurda never had the chance to do it, but something tells me he couldn’t body a Mobb Deep instrumental like M.A did on “Quiet Storm.” Add the intriguing allure of her gully lesbian persona that has all the swagger, machismo, and killer instinct of Felicia Pearson’s Snoop on The Wire, and you’ve got something undeniably special. –Collin