List

Stereogum’s 40 Best New Bands Of 2017

For a music fan, few experiences rival listening to a new artist and recognizing their potential for greatness — or, in some special cases, witnessing someone capture that magic completely the first time around. We at Stereogum aim to be ahead of the curve — it’s our job! — and every fall we highlight the new artists we’re most excited about in our Best New Bands list. This list acts as both recognition for musicians that have thrived in the past 12 months and as an investment in them for the future. We expect that the 40 artists below will continue to provide us with great new music for a long time to come.

“New” is a tricky term, especially as the internet has allowed artists to develop and thrive in niches before they make their way across our headphones. Some of the acts below have been around for a little while — a few are even on their sophomore albums — but we collectively agreed that everyone included has reached new heights as of late. And “band” is undoubtedly an antiquated term, as you’ll see from some of the selections below, but we’ve stuck with the longtime designation out of stubbornness and a love of alliteration. Plus, you will find that many of the artists we’ve picked are bands in the traditional sense, and that just speaks to how exciting fresh rock talent has been over the last couple of years.

Many of these names will be familiar to regular Stereogum readers. Between our Band To Watch series and our daily music posts, we try to track an artist’s development as comprehensively as we can. And, in our humble opinion, we have a pretty good track record with picking artists that go on to be the next big thing. Revisit our lists from 2016, 2015, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010 if you want some proof of that. Get acquainted with Stereogum’s 40 Best New Bands Of 2017, presented in alphabetical order, below. You can also listen to a playlist of our picks on Spotify. Enjoy! –James Rettig

Alex Lahey

bnb-alexlahey-1508523742
CREDIT: Giulia McGauran

LOCATION: Melbourne, Australia

From the jump, Alex Lahey was going to draw comparisons to Courtney Barnett. She’s a young singer-songwriter from Melbourne who, initially and somewhat incorrectly, comes across like a witty slacker-rocker similar to Barnett. Lahey’s recent debut I Love You Like A Brother boldly underscored the fact that she’s onto something very different. Songs like “Lotto In Reverse” and “I Haven’t Been Taking Care Of Myself” burst into huge, cathartic choruses more akin to ‘90s and ‘00s alt-rock than anything in today’s indie sphere. Lahey’s got a way of capturing the particular anxieties and frustrations of the listless years of post-college life. And while her songs convey all that, those giant hooks tell a different story: the triumphant and defiant part where you kick the door down to life’s next phase. –Ryan Leas

Amber Mark

bnb-ambermark2-1508942444

LOCATION: New York, NY

“I’ve got a lot to express,” Amber Mark sings at the beginning of her song “Can You Hear Me?” It’s true. And she’s got a lot of different ways to express what she’s got to express. The young New York singer has a rich, supple voice, and while it’s been scarcely more than a year since she started posting music on SoundCloud, she’s already shown that she can handle spacious, architectural futuristic R&B and warm, jazzy, traditional soul. But she might be at her best when she’s howling over state-of-the-art dance tracks like DJDS’s “Trees On Fire” or her own “Heatwave.” Lots of singers can express heartbreak or euphoria; Mark is the rare one who can do both at the same time. –Tom Breihan

Aminé

bnb-amine-1508523719

LOCATION: Portland, OR

“Caroline,” Aminé’s big breakout hit, had horny sex talk, exuberant energy, and goofiness to spare. And with Good For You, the 23-year-old Portland rapper has managed to keep that endearing underdog charm going for the length of a full album. There are some contemplative blues mixed in with all that cheerful yellow, but Aminé’s #blackboyjoy is as irrepressible as it is infectious. He invites everyone from Offset to Girlpool to join his sunny pop-rap party, and you’ll want to be right there with him, sipping Stellas with his fellas. –Peter Helman

Bedouine

Azniv-634-Edit-2-1508772331
CREDIT: Polly Antonia Barrowman

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA

Bedouine is the moniker of Azniv Korkejian, a Hollywood music editor turned recording artist who released her self-titled debut this year. Bedouine was made with the help of Spacebomb session musicians, and though it’s primarily a folk album, this collection of songs shapeshifts and collects new influences along the way. These are plainspoken songs written for quiet moments alone and long walks home, and though the entanglements Korkejian sings about don’t lead to huge, mind-bending revelations, they do leave you feeling a bit more grounded. –Gabriela Tully Claymore

Brockhampton

bnb-brockhampton-1508523712
CREDIT: Ashlan Grey

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA / San Marcos, TX

Brockhampton have been at it for awhile, but they truly broke 2017. The rap pack out of LA bring energy, excitement, and unbridled joy to a world that gets darker by the day. By the end of this year, Brockhampton will have released three albums, and they show no sign of slowing down anytime soon. On their standout single “Junky,” group ringleader Kevin Abstract defines himself as an out, queer rapper and his wordplay is so sickeningly clever that you’ll have to rewind the track two, three, four times in order to appreciate its poetry. “You know like closet niggas, masc-type/ Why don’t you take that mask off?/ That’s the thought I had last night.” Lines like that sting, and there are so many of them on Saturation I and II. Abstract is the group’s crown jewel, no doubt, but Brockhampton’s music is a testimony to the fact that sometimes, collaboration gets you farther than going it alone, and it’s nothing short of a pleasure to watch a bunch of friends bring out the best in each other. –Gabriela

Cardi B

bnb-cardib-1508523470
CREDIT: Raven Varona

LOCATION: The Bronx, NY

Cardi B got her start as a social media personality, a funny woman who preached self-acceptance and made backhanded jokes about shitty men. She was a stripper, then a contestant on Love & Hip Hop, and now she’s on top of the world. Against all odds, “Bodak Yellow” made it to #1, and in turn, Cardi B became a beacon of hope, the embodiment of this elusive idea that sometimes shit goes the way you want it to and sometimes the person who deserves the crown gets it. Long may she reign. –Gabriela

Carla Dal Forno

bnb-carladalforno-1508523706

LOCATION: London, UK / Melbourne, Australia

Before she started putting out music under her own name, Carla Dal Forno cut her teeth on scratchy lo-fi punk and murky experimental soundscapes. On her debut full-length, You Know What It’s Like, and its follow-up EP, The Garden, she plays with a fusion of the two, marrying pointed urgency with an atmospheric foreboding. Her music is characterized by a pervasive haunting, unfurling in smoke wisps and snaking base lines. Songs like the creeping “What You Gonna Do Now?” and the bruised “Make Up Talk” explore not the unsettling unknown but the sort of everyday monsters that surround us, those whose demons we know all too well. –James

Club Night

bnb-clubnight-1508523697
CREDIT: Joanna Samuel

LOCATION: Oakland, CA

The collectivist spirit is alive and well in Club Night. The band’s members are spread out across the Oakland music scene, but on their debut Hell Ya EP, they come through like a gale-force storm. They sound like 10 different bands mashed up into one, but there’s a practiced exactitude that keeps their improvisational looseness from careening off the rails into disrepair. Their two most tightly-constructed songs are “Well” and “Rally”; both feel like the crackling of fireworks, the guttural utterances of a massive snake coiled and ready to bite. Club Night’s frenetic ping-ponging across genres feels like the work of a band with many distinctive voices, all shouting over each other. That they’re able to harness that discordant energy into songs as eminently listenable and likable as the ones on Hell Ya is a testament to their strength. –James

Common Holly

bnb-commonholly-1508523687
CREDIT: Sean Mundy

LOCATION: Montréal, Quebec

New album Playing House may only hint at the full scope of Brigitte Naggar’s talents. The Montréal musician known as Common Holly counts few common threads from song to song besides her mesmerizing voice and distinct sensibility. Album closer “New Bed” amounts to little more than that (and that’s all it needs), while on opener “If After All,” acoustic guitar and orchestral accompaniment give way to booming drums and gnarly alt-rock power chords. Her array of cinematic ballads make diverse use of minimal arrangements, venturing into chamber-pop, country, post-rock, and other styles in service of compelling narration about a romantic relationship falling apart. (From the title track: “I’ll play mama, you’ll play daddy, and we’ll ruin us beyond repair.”) Ultimately it’s a singer-songwriter album that plays with an auteur’s vision, one that suggests Naggar’s horizons are broad. –Chris DeVille

G Perico

bnb-gperico-1508523654

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA

In the hands of a truly great rapper, throwback sounds won’t sound like throwback sounds. And G Perico is a truly great rapper. The young up-and-comer, from South Central Los Angeles, has a slick-but-deranged nasal chirp of a voice that recalls prime DJ Quik, and he prefers funky, melodic, synth-heavy beats that call back to early-’90s G-funk. He even has one of the best perms that music has seen since dudes stopped wearing perms. But his music has an urgency that keeps it from sounding like revivalism or nostalgia. Perico’s debut album All Blue is hard, vivid rider music, and when you’re playing it loud enough on a half-decent sound system, it exists out of time. –Tom

Girl Ray

bnb-girlray-1508523682
CREDIT: Neil Thomson

LOCATION: London, UK

The three members of this London band were in their teens when they released Earl Grey, their excellent debut album, but you couldn’t tell. The album comes steeped in history from its ’90s twee aesthetics to the cinematic ’70s ways that it uses strings to the Nico/Young Marble Giants deadpan blankness in frontwoman Poppy Hankin’s voice. And Earl Grey does more than artfully hodgepodge the styles from the past. It’s also a triumph of songwriting, a warm and bittersweet and melodically rich piece of music. And again: This is the work of teenagers. Imagine what they’ll be able to do after they’ve been around a little longer. –Tom

Great Grandpa

bnb-greatgrandpa2-1508777624
CREDIT: Nick Dinatale

LOCATION: Seattle, WA

This ain’t your great grandpa’s Great Grandpa. Despite the name, Great Grandpa are planted firmly in their 20s, with all of the attendant disaffection, indecision, and general ennui that that entails. But, like a few other famous musicians from Seattle, they’ve turned the gray fog of youth into searing, lopsided guitar music, with the capacious depths of Alex Menne’s voice sounding just at home over the fiery squalls of “No Hair” as it does on the tender balladry of “All Things Must Behave.” Oh, and also, there are zombies. –Peter

Harmony Woods

bnb-harmonywoods-1508523634
CREDIT: Emily Dubin

LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA

Sofia Verbilla adopted the Harmony Woods moniker when she began releasing music last year, allowing for a deflective distance from her vulnerable and big-hearted songs. Her debut full-length, Nothing Special, is demarcated by a series of numbered vignettes that split up the songs “proper,” but really all of her songs are vignettes of a sort, snapshots of worry and distance and ache. Verbilla’s smoky and powerful voice belies the insecurities she lays bare in her writing as she confronts the unstable ground that life is built on. It’s a contrast that works wonders, and Nothing Special’s title even begs you to contradict it, to assert that, of course, she’s certainly doing something very special indeed. –James

Hater

bnb-hater-1508523627
CREDIT: Ludvig Hedlund

LOCATION: Malmö, Sweden

The guitars chime; the vocals soar; the rhythm section surges with the weary heaviness of an elongated sigh. It’s all so gorgeously melancholy, Hater’s version of hard-charging indie-pop — like a mirage just visceral enough that it must be real life. On this year’s impressive full-length debut You Tried, the quartet sounded something like reigning genre champions Alvvays tilting ever so slightly into classic rock. The upcoming Red Blinders EP further expands on that sound, exploring trip-hop beats and borrowing tics from ‘90s sophisticates like Stereolab and Yo La Tengo. All the while Caroline Landahl exults and laments with a trace of friction in her voice, a weathered quality that lends these Swedish dream-pop songs some extra rock’ n’ roll kick. –Chris

Jay Som

bnb-jaysom-1508768841
CREDIT: Ebru Yildiz

LOCATION: Oakland, CA

Jay Som takes time to figure it out. And with Everybody Works, she’s figured out that bedroom-pop doesn’t have to sound like it was recorded in a bedroom. Melina Duterte constructs songs with a painterly eye, augmenting her homespun indie with splashes of horns and piano and accordion. Over the course of the LP, billed as her official debut following last year’s Bandcamp release Turn Into, she moves from candy-coated fuzz-pop and slinky funk to subtle synth-pop and experimental soundscapes. And all of it, like everybody, works. –Peter

Julia Michaels

Julia Michaels, Nervous System, Photo by Catie Laffoon
CREDIT: Catie Laffoon

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA

Julia Michaels was inoculated into the major label songwriting camp system at an early age, and before she could legally drink she had racked up credits on songs for Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and Fifth Harmony. At the beginning of this year, Michaels made her solo debut with “Issues,” a song that spins magic out of syncopated rhythm, negative space, and an undeniable hook. It proves a worthy blueprint for the other six songs on her debut EP, Nervous System, which lands like a breath of fresh air. These songs have staying power not only because of their intense catchiness but because of Michaels’ adept grasp of the messy relationship dynamics that make a song … well, dynamic. She eschews big break-up anthems or cutesy first date butterflies for something that feels more real, exploring the tiny seesaws that actually make a relationship tick, and that’s refreshing as hell in pop music. –James

Katie Ellen

bnb-katieellen-1508523613
CREDIT: Jessica Flynn

LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA

Teenage Retirement, the first and last album from magnificent Brooklyn pop-punks Chumped, proved Anika Pyle was a songwriter with much to say and an electrifying way of saying it. She’s extremely good at writing about her personal life in a way that feels vital and universal. Fortunately, although Chumped are dearly departed, Pyle and former Chumped drummer Dan Frelly have relocated to Philadelphia and reemerged as Katie Ellen, a new project for a new phase of life. On their debut album Cowgirl Blues, her old charged-up tales of quarter-life romantic longing and disillusionment give way to more measured tempos and an overall more bleary disposition, Pyle literally slowing down and taking stock of what it means to be a woman in our 21st century hellscape. Despite the darker shading, her songs remain remarkably catchy and alive — perhaps painfully so, depending on who’s listening. –Chris

Kelly Lee Owens

bnb-kellyleeowens-1508523603
CREDIT: Kim Hiorthøy

LOCATION: London, UK / Wales, UK

Initially, the music on Kelly Lee Owens’ self-titled debut comes across a certain way. Owens has already proven herself adept at chilly, claustrophobic electronic arrangements that nevertheless still move. But her record is a deeper and more paradoxical work than first impressions might suggest. Her background includes both childhood choirs and young adulthood stints in the indie-rock world, and you can hear the lingering influence of both in the music she makes now: choir vocals in the ghostly or cooing way she sings and produces vocals, a songwriter’s eye applied to the limitless boundaries of dance music. Kelly Lee Owens feels removed and hypnotizing as much as it feels intimate and emotive, a personal work abstracted and reconstructed to the point where listeners can find their own way in no matter which direction they’re coming from. –Ryan

Khalid

bnb-khalid-1508523526
CREDIT: Kacie Tomita

LOCATION: El Paso, TX

Khalid’s 2017 release, American Teen, documents the trials and tribulations of adolescence, and this 19-year-old sings with the kind of deadpan honesty that is hard to laugh at even if you’re of an older generation that might be inclined to. Songs with titles like “Another Sad Love Song,” “8TEEN,” and “Young Dumb & Broke” all allude to that particular brand of sad-kid malaise that is timeless no matter how of-the-moment the references get. It’s no wonder Lorde’s a fan. –Gabriela

Lily And Horn Horse

bnb-lilyandhornhorse-1509032451

LOCATION: New York, NY

Lily And Horn Horse is the collaboration between Lily Konigsberg (of the New York deconstructionists Palberta) and Matt Norman (who makes experimental music as Horn Horse), and together they make alluring and delirious sound collages. On the two releases they’ve put out this year — spring’s Lily On Horn Horse and fall’s more polished Next To Me — their ideas are largely confined to minute-long bursts of inspiration that allow them to get weird but stay accessible. They make syrupy auteurist pop nuggets that feel inviting despite their unconventional structures. Right now their calling card is “Next To Me,” a glitchy proto-R&B jam that is endlessly repeatable. You get the sense that there’s even more ingenuity like that up their sleeves. –James

Lomelda

Processed with VSCO with a9 preset
CREDIT: Laura Lee Blackburn

LOCATION: Silsbee, TX

Silsbee, Texas is a two-hour drive from Houston, a four-hour drive from Austin, and a four-hour drive from Waco. Hannah Read is keenly aware of that distance, and on Thx, her latest album as Lomelda, she turns years of solitary late-night drives into 34 minutes of solitary late-night music. Roads connect us, and so does music, and while the dusty folk-rock behind her twinkles like a distant star, Read uses her searching voice as an instrument to collapse the space in between, forging a connection as intimate as a whisper in your ear. –Peter

Madeline Kenney

bnb-madelinekenney-1508768834
CREDIT: Cara Robbins

LOCATION: Oakland, CA

When we first heard of Madeline Kenney, there was always a preface summarizing her curious range of expertise aside from music — modern dance, baking, neuroscience. Then more new music kept arriving, and though those biographical facts remain curious trivia, the songs overshadow everything else. Produced by Toro Y Moi, Kenney’s full-length debut Night Night At The First Landing arrived at the end of the summer. True to its nocturnal name and cover, it’s an album for solitary, meandering nights, flitting between painterly dreamscapes and ‘90s alt-rock catharses. Songs like “Rita” and “Always” are big distorted guitar monuments that drown rather than pummel (in the best way) and the album as a whole is frequently gorgeous. It’s a promising beginning: Kenney’s built her early career on taking well-worn touchstones and managing to wring something new out of them, making them her own in the process. –Ryan

Miya Folick

bnb-miyafolick-1508523589
CREDIT: Maya Fuhr

LOCATION: Santa Ana, CA

There are many echoes of rock’s greatest women in Miya Folick’s new Give It To Me EP. “Trouble Adjusting” is basically a Hole song. “Woodstock” is literally a Joni Mitchell song. Folick can smolder like Sharon Van Etten and wail with the startling fury of Corin Tucker. Yet once you’ve beheld the LA musician’s latest recordings you won’t mistake them for anyone else. The EP leaves a profound impression even before you read the fascinating tidbits in her bio (raised Buddhist, reluctant former basketball player, met her band on Tinder). An in-your-face intensity animates these songs — a sense of deeper passion and higher stakes. Folick has grown from an enjoyable singer-songwriter with adventurous tendencies into an artist whose every disparate creation seems to be summoning elemental forces. When she screams, “Give it to me!” you feel compelled to comply, whatever “it” may be. –Chris

Moor Mother

bnb-moormother2-1508944289
CREDIT: Bob Sweeney

LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA

The experimental music Camae Ayewa makes as Moor Mother is designed to be confrontational. Often loud and hellish, the songs on Fetish Bones confront white hegemony, the police state, familial trauma, and the legacy of slavery with unabashed forwardness. Ayewa is a poet, and her prose cuts through the sonic chaos like tiny daggers made to punish you into thinking a little bit harder. Her work is visceral when you listen to it through your headphones, and her live show will leave you quaking. –Gabriela

Nation Of Language

bnb-nationoflanguage-1508523556
CREDIT: Marina Labarthe del Solar

LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY

Ian Devaney had been through this already. His previous band, the punk-leaning alt-rock outfit the Static Jacks, had made it out of New Jersey and seemed to be on course, touring and releasing albums. Then, somewhere along the line, things simply ran out of steam. He found himself back home, regrouping, riding in the car with his father, who put on “Electricity” by OMD, sparking an epiphany for Devaney: He wanted to make synth-pop. A few years and a move to Brooklyn later, Devaney has already amassed an enviable collection of complete earworms under his new moniker Nation Of Language. And, yes, it sounds like the early ’80s, but what makes Nation Of Language so special is that you might recognize the aesthetic, but you can’t reduce them to obvious forebears: Devaney’s harvesting the past, writing bulletproof songs, and staking his territory in a decades-deep lineage of alternative music. –Ryan

Nervous Dater

bnb-nervousdater-1508523534

LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY

In Rachel Lightner, Nervous Dater boast one of the finest emerging lyricists in indie rock, one whose every neurotic couplet could be a self-contained story. Consider the chorus from “Bad Spanish,” the anthemic opener from debut album Don’t Be A Stranger: “It’s hard to ask for help if you don’t really want it/ Passed out on the train in your own vomit.” Or the many layers in this line on “Fun Dumpster,” the subsequent track: “I wore a dress for you/ ‘Cause you’re nicer when I do.” Or the breathlessly vulgar “Stockton Syndrome” climax: “Jackie’s got the drugs, and holy fuck he’s gonna take ‘em!” Lightner deploys these turns of phrase with a wide-eyed gusto that amplifies Nervous Dater’s prevailing feeling of barreling ahead while barely keeping it together, elevating their tremendous guitar-powered songwriting to ridiculous heights. Take the album title’s advice and get to know this band. –Chris

Omni

bnb-omni-1508523578
CREDIT: Sebastian Weiss

LOCATION: Atlanta, GA

Omni might be a trio of indie-rock survivors from the likes of Deerhunter and Warehouse, but they come across like a post-punk band straight out of the early ’80s, from their wiry, jumpy rhythms to the technical appearance of their new album Multi-task’s cover art. That corner of classic alternative music is not mined too often these days, at least not to this extent, and Omni go all in on it — their songs are infectious, bright series of sharp guitar licks and sing-speak vocals. It’s not quite reinventing anything, but if you’re the kind of person who has proclivities for the less brooding strains of post-punk, Omni are new masters of it. –Ryan

Partner

bnb-partner-1508523572
CREDIT: Colin Medley

LOCATION: Windsor, Ontario

Listening to Partner is like hanging out with your best friends, assuming your best friends are queer Canadian stoners with hooks for days. For Josée Caron and Lucy Niles, that’s actually true, and their easy chemistry is evident on the excellent In Search Of Lost Time, both on the album’s 12 songs and in the goofy skits threaded throughout. What’s even more evident is their musical chops, the kind of righteous riffage that can turn anything from wandering around a grocery store high to discovering your roommate’s sex toy into a slyly subversive guitar-rock anthem. –Peter

Phoebe Bridgers

bnb-phoebebridgers-1508523565
CREDIT: Frank Ockenfels

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA

Phoebe Bridgers has already picked up some noteworthy fans and collaborators like Conor Oberst, Julien Baker, and Ryan Adams in the short time that she’s been around. And it makes sense that they would be interested because her full-length debut, Stranger In The Alps is nothing short of a revelation. Its understated, subtly orchestrated rootsiness suggests something like the monumental grandeur of its titular mountains, but the feelings contained within these songs are all devastatingly human-sized, vulnerable and sad and, yes, beautiful. –Peter

Primal Rite

IMG_1015-1-1508771211
CREDIT: Angela Owens

LOCATION: San Francisco, CA

Primal Rite came together after the members of the unsung Bay Area hardcore band Scalped fractured apart, and there’s plenty of DIY-hardcore intensity in what Primal Rite do. But with all the juddering hardcore riffs and breakdowns that Primal Rite bring, they’ve also absorbed the speed and flash and virtuosity of ‘80s thrash and death metal. And in Lucy Xavier, they’ve got a frontwoman capable of raw face-punch fury. Together, all those elements make for an enormously satisfying rush of aggression. After a couple of stellar EPs, Primal Rite’s debut album is coming early next year. Look the hell out. –Tom

Rata Negra

bnb-ratanegra-1508523550

LOCATION: Madrid, Spain

Rata Negra make post-punk that communicates a sense of urgency without getting overly complicated. Their lyrics, sung in Spanish, often border on simple descriptions of day-to-day life pressed up against a realization or affirmation. Their new album, Oído absoluto, is a marathon of tightly-knit and catchy melodies. Songs like “El autómata” and “Dientes sobre el metal” confront the doldrums of daily existence with an exuberance that could brighten the shittiest day. Rata Negra give you that same burst of energy you got way back when you heard a punk rock song for the very first time. –Gabriela

Slaughter Beach, Dog

bnb-slaughterbeachdog-1508523518
CREDIT: Jessica Flynn

LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA

As Modern Baseball headed towards an extended hiatus, Jake Ewald — one of the band’s primary two primary songwriters — was investing more energy into his Slaughter Beach, Dog side project. He started it a couple years ago to release a handful of demos but picked it up in earnest last fall with Welcome, a charmingly low-stakes concept album about a fictional town called Slaughter Beach inhabited by characters that shared Ewald’s familiar sense of suburban disillusion. The project’s freedom from pressure and more freeform aspirations blossomed with the Motorcycle.jpg EP and Birdie LP this year. His newer tracks take cues from folk standards and confessional diaries, and they rival the great work he did with his main band, solidifying him as one of this generation’s most talented and adaptable young songwriters. –James

Snail Mail

bnb-snailmail-1508523545
CREDIT: Bryan Regan

LOCATION: Baltimore, MD

At age 18, Brooklyn-based Baltimore kid Lindsey Jordan has already been through a whirlwind word-of-mouth rise through the underground, a round of breathless media exaltation, a SXSW star tour, and a label bidding war that landed her band Snail Mail on historical indie-rock pillar Matador Records. So what does everybody see in her? Debut EP Habit is pretty much all we have to go on so far, but it presents Jordan as a natural, a songwriter capable of spinning magic from a few guitar chords and howled phrases. Her lo-fi guitar ballads glimmer in their grime, wringing uncommon beauty from indie rock’s basic toolkit. Imagine Waxahatchee under the influence of both Sonic Youth and actual youth, and you’ll begin to understand what all the fuss is about. –Chris

Superorganism

bnb-superorganism-1508524462
CREDIT: Steph Wilson

LOCATION: London, UK

Superorganism are a group born on the internet, and they sound like it. The international collective started through messages between a string of friends who are now mostly based out of a single house in London. The handful of singles they’ve released so far blend warm plunderphonics that feel like a dozen tabs open at once with the captivating presence of lead vocalist Orono, who speaks in wordy circulars that border on emo confessional. “Something for Your M.I.N.D.,” their debut single, is a sparkling pop gem that lesser bands have built entire careers out of, but luckily Superorganism’s follow-ups have all been just about as dynamic and lovely as their first, downcast but not downtrodden songs that suggest that they’re no one-hit-wonder. –James

Thunder Dreamer

bnb-thunderdreamer-1508523510
CREDIT: Morgan Martinez

LOCATION: Evansville, IN

One of the first things you need to know about Thunder Dreamer is that they are from Evansville, Indiana, of all places. That’s not a town with any current or past music scene; that is a town that, like small towns across the country, stands on the remnants of once-robust industry. It’s right there in the name of Thunder Dreamer: filling your head with big ideas, visions of life elsewhere. Their music comes from that perspective, expansive songs built to both conjure and fill wide-open spaces, loud and rambling enough to echo through the countryside. In terms of 2017 releases, Thunder Dreamer’s new album Capture is an outlier: It’s an indie-rock record of a classic breed, jangly and autumnal. But there’s also a ragged classic rock charm underpinning songs like “Living Like The Rest,” an urgency that speaks to ambitions too big for a humble hometown. –Ryan

Trophy Dad

bnb-trophydad-1508771817

LOCATION: Madison, WI

Trophy Dad are a band based around dichotomies: between their dual lead vocalists who entangle with ease, between the jammy deconstructions and warm harmonies they dole out in equal measure, through the messy and complex power relationships they explore in their lyrics. This year’s great Dogman EP features five songs that highlight the dynamism of this young band in full force, from the theatrical swings of “Addison” to “Louis Sachar”‘s blown-out approachability. The energy and inventiveness they display are infectious, and the strength of their songwriting structure suggests they’ve only got room to grow. –James

UV-TV

bnb-uvtv-1508523504

LOCATION: Gainesville, FL

There’s not really a word for what kind of music the Gainesville, Florida band UV-TV play. It’s fast and feverish, like punk. It’s raw and rickety and hooky, like garage rock. It has a sense of beauty and playfulness and immediacy, like pop music. And its focus on jangly sha-la-la melodies connects it to ‘60s folk-rock, as well as to a half-dozen ‘90s DIY indie scenes that drew on all those things. But it doesn’t really matter if UV-TV don’t have a genre. Their debut album Glass is a joyous, shattering hookfest, and it moves so fast that you don’t have time to worry about meaningless distinctions anyway. –Tom

Vagabon

bnb-vagabon-1508523662
CREDIT: Daniel Dorsa

LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY

Lætitia Tamko’s first album as Vagabon is called Infinite Worlds, and it does a great job demonstrating the multitudes she contains. That’s true of the music’s stylistic makeup, a genre mishmash that includes electrifying roughshod indie-rock, warmly skittering electronic pop, and piercing singer-songwriter balladry — sometimes all at once, as on “Fear & Force.” And it’s perhaps even truer of Tamko’s passionate trembling and wailing, which embodies the broad scope of her richly diverse life experience. Tamko has lived on multiple continents, mastered the disparate disciplines of music and computer engineering, and thrived as a black woman in a predominantly white, male space. Our own Gabriela Tully Claymore called Infinite Worlds “an affirmation that you can always be everything at once,” and frankly so is Tamko’s life. We look forward to hearing how that multiplicity manifests itself next. –Chris

Wild Pink

bnb-wildpink-1508523493
CREDIT: Andrew Dominguez

LOCATION: New York, NY

Wild Pink have been kicking around for a few years — they first popped up on our radar in 2015 with their Good Life EP. Back then, they crafted scuzzy and rousing indie anthems, with frontman John Ross’ voice working as a scratchy vehicle for conversational expressiveness. Two years and an additional EP later, the band arrived with their self-titled debut LP. In the interim, they had established another part of their identity: Wild Pink are as adept at rough-around-the-edges rockers as they are at dreamy, sighing folk atmospherics. Their debut finds them sliding between the polarities, the consistency between it all being the sharp attention to craft this young band’s already displayed and their ability to make small interactions and emotions feel momentous. –Ryan

Yaeji

bnb-yaeji-1508523486
CREDIT: Jake Naviasky

LOCATION: New York, NY

The singer and producer Yaeji is based in New York but spent a good part of her childhood in Seoul, and she sings in Korean as much as she does in English, but there’s nothing K-pop about what she does. Instead, Yaeji taps into an old, instinctive strain of deep-house burble, her deadpan voice floating above the oceanic bass tones and precise drum skitters. There’s feeling in what she does, and her lyrics are more politically pointed than they’re given credit for being. But the blank, breezy swoon of that voice over those beats is what sticks with you. –Tom