Best New Bands

The 40 Best New Bands Of 2019

Every autumn here at Stereogum, we look long and hard at the last 12 months and pinpoint which new artists make us excited about the future of music. We then organize those artists into our annual Best New Bands list, celebrating what they’ve already accomplished and highlighting them as someone to keep an eye on moving forward. This year is no different, and the crop of 2019 musicians is just as inspiring as ever. Music somehow keeps being good despite everything else being bad, and we’re all happy to keep listening as long as everyone else keeps making it. (Corny, I know!)

The caveats we’ve placed on this list from the beginning still apply. “New” is a subjective term, especially now that we’re all online and everything is happening all the time. Some of these artists have been around for a few years, others only have a couple songs to their name so far, but all of them are making music worth hearing. We also continue to call this the Best New Bands list, even though (as you’ll see) there are quite a few not-bands on the list, but we are absolutely apeshit about alliteration. Can’t get enough of the stuff.

We purposefully run this list a bit before year-end list season, and we keep in mind that an artist’s upward trajectory can’t be tied to a year the way an album release date can. Many of these names will be familiar to regular Stereogum readers who keep up with our daily music posts and Band To Watch column. If you revisit our lists from years past — now handily archived right over here — you’ll see that our taste is impeccable. So make sure you get familiar with Stereogum’s 40 Best New Bands Of 2019, presented below in alphabetical order. You can also listen to a playlist of our picks on on Spotify. Enjoy! –James Rettig

100 Gecs

LOCATION: Los Angeles CA / Chicago, IL

Listening to 100 Gecs feels like snorting crushed computer chips. The data powder contains traces of our collective, scatterbrained music memory from the past 15 years — from Blink-182 to Soulja Boy, Sleigh Bells to Skrillex, ska, pop punk, crunkcore, and bubblegum — filtered through the current internet echo chamber. Dylan Brady and Laura Les echo the maximalist, masochistic spirit of 2019. Their debut album, 1000 Gecs, is 23 minutes of exhilarating aural assault. –Julia Gray

Black Midi

CREDIT: Dan Kendall

LOCATION: London, UK

Black Midi managed to ascend to nigh-mythical status in their home country with barely any online presence and barely more recorded material. Then they hit Stateside, and it all made sense. Their live show is a spectacle to behold, a roiling mass of grooves and riffs and beats mutating and exploding off in a million different directions. And with their debut album Schlagenheim, they successfully managed to get that electric anything-is-possible feeling down on wax. No matter how many times you listen, their songs never fail to surprise. –Peter Helman

Blueface

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA

This charming rap rascal is working in a couple of long-established traditions — West Coast rappers pushing against the beat and over-the-top slapstick sex-comedy. But because he’s suddenly more popular than any of the figures who influenced him, Blueface looks, to a certain segment of the population, like a sign of the aesthetic apocalypse. That’s the burden of success, even when you’re fundamentally too silly to be taken seriously. Baby, you see this face tat? He doesn’t want a job. –Tom Breihan

Caracara

CREDIT: Ashley Gellman

LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA

Lots of bands have delusions of grandeur, but Caracara appear to have the talent to actually pull off their big ideas. Over the course of one LP, one EP, and a recent one-off single, William Lindsay’s ambitious Philadelphia combo has been honing in on a sweet spot between stately high-drama indie rock and adventurous letting-it-all-hang-out emo. In a wonderfully perverse turn of events, the results resemble late-’90s alt-rock radio mutating into exciting new forms before your ears. –Chris DeVille

Channel Tres

CREDIT: Devyn Galindo

LOCATION: Compton, CA

Channel Tres descended from the disco ball heavens last year with his debut single “Controller,” a celebration of the dance floor as a place of autonomy. Over the past year, he’s released two EPs, the latest dubbed Black Moses, declaring that he’s the house music prophet we’ve been waiting for. His music is packed with allusions to Greek mythology, punk icons, and rap trailblazers; he pays homage to Midwest techno and celebrates blackness’ beauty. He put it plainly earlier this year: “I have a lot of shit to say, and I just like dancing.” The suave beatmaker puts your brain and body to work. –Margaret Farrell

DaBaby

CREDIT: Daniel Ramos Jr

LOCATION: Charlotte, NC

Almost every breakout hip-hop star this decade has specialized in line-blurring sing-song, but this year we’re seeing a low-key resurgence of hardscrabble rappers in the mainstream. One of the best is DaBaby, a Charlotte native who talks incredible shit with an intimidating physical presence to back it up (as in, he went viral for beating up a rival rapper this past spring). Muscular but nimble in delivery, hilarious and sometimes terrifying in content, it’s a thrill whenever he shows up on a track — and with two albums and countless guest spots since January, that’s happened a lot in 2019. –Chris

Dead Heat

CREDIT: Joe Calixto

LOCATION: Oxnard, CA

Plenty of bands are doing everything they can right now to resurrect the crossover era, that magical late-’80s moment when hardcore and speed metal fused into one jackhammer whole. But none are calling back to that era with the verve of Dead Heat, whose fired-up blitzkrieg hits like a skateboard to the face. Dead Heat are history-minded enough to cover crossover originators the Crumbsuckers, and they’re immediate enough that their debut Certain Death will cave your skull in. –Tom

Disq

CREDIT: Tonje Thilesen

LOCATION: Madison, WI

Isaac deBroux-Slone and Raina Bock, the duo behind Disq, grew up together as family friends, but joined forces later in middle school after discovering they liked the same music. Those influences haven’t steered them wrong. Disq sound like they took meticulous notes on Todd Rundgren instead of the modern-day bands influenced by him, like Tame Impala or Quilt. They’re a young band (they wrote their first album in eighth grade), but Disq already know how to mellow out on the weird side of ’60s psych-pop — something more bands should attempt. –Nina Corcoran

Dry Cleaning

CREDIT: Hanna-Katrina Jedrosz

LOCATION: London, UK

Dry Cleaning came together in a somewhat atypical way — three musicians who’d already been through the ringer with failed projects, finding their spark with a frontwoman who had no musical experience. That’s also what makes them special, with Florence Shaw’s deadpan-then-vicious spoken word delivery adding a new twist on Dry Cleaning’s gritty post-punk. Her lyrics come from stray details and overheard conversations and YouTube detritus — the jumble of a mind in an era of too much information and too many stimuli, the outpouring of it all ultimately making Dry Cleaning somehow therapeutic. –Ryan Leas

Dumb

CREDIT: Marisa Holmes

LOCATION: Vancouver, British Columbia

The funny thing is, Dumb are a really smart band. The Vancouver quartet is restless and ruthless, making rowdy post-punk that questions and analyzes everyday life. As a follow-up to 2018’s Seeing Green, this year they released their frenetic second album Club Nites. It’s a bundle of exposed wires, a twangy flurry of anxious guitar strums and frantic chord changes. Their catchy, winding melodies organize their acerbic commentary/comedy. With his forthright, deadpan vocals, Franco Rossino is a necessary spokesman for those tired of the status quo and current daily bullshit. –Margaret

Dump Him

CREDIT: Jonathan Vahid

LOCATION: Northampton, MA

Dump Him released their long-awaited debut album, Dykes To Watch Out For, this past August. A collection of superb and gutting punk and queercore, the album is fueled by fear and anxiety, from planetary destruction to humanity’s combustion as a result of a sympathy void. It’s about oppressed and marginalized voices, bodies that even underground cultures, like punk, still exploit and abuse; it’s about trauma; it’s about the pitfalls of being human. Dump Him are a great band that are asking for us to be better. Their music is a glorious wake-up call. –Margaret

Ellis

CREDIT: Daniel Topete

LOCATION: Hamilton, Ontario

Linnea Siggelkow named her debut EP The Fuzz after the static on a TV screen between channels, and that hazy liminal space is exactly where her music resides. She makes dream-pop songs born of sadness and ambivalence that envelop you like a cool gray fog, unfolding patiently but with all the force of a gathering squall. And now that she’s signed to Fat Possum and reissued her EP on her new label, all we have to wait for is more lightning on the horizon. –Peter

Fauness

LOCATION: London, UK

Fauness wants to make pop music with a purpose. The titles of her two EPs, Toxic Femininity and Lashes In A Landfill, both evoke very 21st century concerns, and she translates these modern worries into stuttering songs that sound like glitches in the matrix. “Sixteen” is her high water mark so far, a song about the glamorization of being young when all you want to do is be taken seriously as an adult. “I don’t wanna be sixteen,” she begs on it. “When I was sixteen, I was fragile and so lonely.” –James

Faye Webster

CREDIT: Eat Humans

LOCATION: Atlanta, GA

If alt-country seems inaccessible, let Faye Webster ease you into the genre with an R&B saxophone yawn or rap verse courtesy of Father. The Atlanta singer-songwriter didn’t turn alt-country on its head with Atlanta Millionaires Club, but she did dress it up enough to give folk-pop and soft-rock fans a natural in to the genre. Maybe it’s her breathy lilt. Maybe it’s the moderation of slide guitar. Whatever the trick is, Webster knows it makes her songs irresistibly coquettish. –Nina

Fontaines D.C.

CREDIT: Daniel Topete

LOCATION: Dublin, Ireland

In a deft move of self-mythologizing, Fontaines D.C. provided the manifesto for their ascendant 2019 right out the gates, an already oft-quoted line from Dogrel’s charging opener “Big”: “My childhood was small/ But I’m gonna be big!” Ireland might be a small place, but it’s often the people from the smallest places, the people hungry to see the rest of the world, that make the biggest sounds. Accordingly, Fontaines’ prophecy is already coming true: Dogrel and their visceral live show have earned them feverish hype, fervent fans, and a Mercury Prize nomination. It’s one of the least likely and most fascinating rises for a young rock band in recent memory, but more importantly it’s a testament to the will for self-invention. –Ryan

Gauche

CREDIT: Jen Dessinger

LOCATION: Washington, DC

There’s a lot of pedigree behind Gauche — its members are also in Downtown Boys and Priests — so maybe it’s not too surprising that their debut album, A People’s History Of Gauche, absolutely goes off, but so it does. They’re a young band that has a sense of legacy, willing to engage with punk music on a continuum, and each song feels like a treatise on what it means to be screaming and singing about the same injustices for decades while the status quo remains the same. –James

Glass Beach

CREDIT: Joey Tobin

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA

The First Glass Beach Album is like peak-eccentricity of Montreal reimagined as peak-audacity fourth-wave emo and then remixed by peak-accessibility PC Music. Or maybe if the Unicorns wrote a post-rock symphony about a jazz band that goes to war with a synth-pop band. Narrated in a histrionic whine by the artist formerly known as Casio Dad, it includes songs called “classic j dies and goes to hell, Pt. 1″ and “Yoshi’s Island” and “Soft!!!!!!!” and, naturally, “Glass Beach.” It’s a lot. –Chris

Grace Ives

CREDIT: Tim Ives

LOCATION: New York, NY

“I just want to go back home and be alone in my bed.” The opening line on Grace Ives’ “Icing On The Cake” is the shoe-in #mood for this generation, replete with the bouncy synth bursting like confetti behind it. Her newest album, 2nd, sounds like a long-lost MySpace gem. Ives has an air of cool aloofness on it, like she accepted the world is on fire and is content dancing on her own while others panic, and her music invites you to join. –Nina

Idle Hands

CREDIT: Peter Beste

LOCATION: Portland, OR

Idle Hands is led by Gabriel Franco, previously of the band Spellcaster, whose old members also make up most of Idle Hands. On their debut album, Mana, they throw it back to gothic rock and big riffs, gliding through 11 twinkling rippers that are catchy and expressive, fast-paced but also gorgeous, artfully taking over your whole mind. –James

Joanna Sternberg

CREDIT: Charlie Gross

LOCATION: New York, NY

When they’re not penning comics, Joanna Sternberg records songs fit for New York’s anti-folk era in the early 2000s, the scene that birthed the Moldy Peaches and Diane Cluck. Armed with an extensive compositional background from the New School, Sternberg turns their worries and daily battles — depression, suicidal ideation, self-hatred — into lo-fi folk jaunts. From piano ballad “My Angel” to the self-explanatory “This Is Not Who I Want To Be,” a painful transparency takes hold, and it lingers long into the night. –Nina

Julien Chang

CREDIT: Erica Snyder

LOCATION: Baltimore, MD

What were you doing at age 19? The prodigious Julien Chang enrolled in Ivy League classes, signed a record deal to become labelmates with Alvvays and SOPHIE and Julia Jacklin, and released a debut that swirled together neoclassical, psych, progressive jazz, folk, synth-pop, and more. Parts resemble inspired elevator music, like chillwave snapping back into focus. Others evoke the chamber-pop pocket symphonies of Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear. Jules is a diverse ecosystem unto itself, one that will make you wonder what other worlds Chang will create someday. –Chris

Just Mustard

CREDIT: Karl Walsh

LOCATION: Dundalk, Ireland

Just Mustard already garnered a ton of acclaim in their homeland upon the release of their debut album Wednesday, but it took a little longer for word of mouth to drift across the Atlantic. Fittingly, their best songs — like their latest single “Seven” — function like storms approaching off the sea. They exist in the eerie moment when you feel the air shift and tighten: Warped guitar screeches suggest destruction on the horizon, and Katie Ball’s ghostly vocals a siren song calling you into it. –Ryan

Konradsen

CREDIT: Signe Fuglesteg Luksengard

LOCATION: Oslo, Norway

Upon relocating to Oslo for college, two longtime friends from Norway’s northern fringe discovered a powerful musical chemistry. As Konradsen, Jenny Marie Sabel and Eirik Vildgren deliver an artful new spin on tender coffeehouse indie, infusing it with flashes of folk and post-rock and avant-R&B without wavering from their distinct voice. Their debut Saints And Sebastian Stories is spellbinding, like encountering an old friend in a dream and discovering they have superpowers. –Chris

La Neve

CREDIT: Jen Dessinger

LOCATION: Providence, RI

For the past few years, Joey La Neve DeFranesco has played slashing, feral guitar in the righteous and urgent punk band Downtown Boys. But as La Neve, she makes straight-up dance music. The two projects sound nothing alike, but La Neve’s music is no less driving or purposeful from that of Downtown Boys. On her full-length debut, The Vital Cord, La Neve plays with skeletal drum machines, romantic synths, eerily ringing guitars, and queer signifiers, making righteously utopian party music. –Tom

Lil Nas X

CREDIT: Tanima Mehrotra

LOCATION: Lithia Springs, GA

The saga of Lil Nas X became the feel-good underdog story of the year. Here was a queer black kid from just outside Atlanta who, against all odds, managed to completely upend the country and pop music establishments with little more than some social-media savvy, a $30 Nine Inch Nails beat, and some goofy-ass cowboy raps about the horses in the back. Does he have another historic, era-defining hit in him? Probably not, but hell, who does? If he can recapture even a small fraction of that lightning-in-a-bottle charm again, he’ll have something special. And if not, well, we’ll always have “Old Town Road.” –Peter

Mdou Moctar

CREDIT: Jerome Fino

LOCATION: Agadez, Niger

The story of Mdou Moctar is already a rich one, from building his own first guitar as a child to starring in a Tuareg-language remake of Purple Rain. That all happened before the 34-year-old’s blend of traditional Tuareg music and Western rock earned him international attention. For many of us, his new album Ilana (The Creator) is a revelation — detailing the plight of Tuareg women living in the desert, but with even laments like “Wiwasharnine” reaching for a hopeful future nevertheless. –Ryan

Megan Thee Stallion

CREDIT: 2020 Photography // Courage Osadolor

LOCATION: Houston, TX

Megan Thee Stallion released her first full-length mixtape this year, and she’s already an icon. Her iced-out, fire-breathing persona can inspire a trend with a single line. “Real hot girl shit,” the opening phrase on “Cash Shit,” snowballed into a viral motto — “hot girl summer” — so prevalent that Megan decided to record a song about it. She invites her fans, dubbed “hotties,” to live vicariously through “Hot Girl Meg.” Her charisma is contagious, her punchlines nasty, and her dance moves enviable. –Julia

Nilüfer Yanya

CREDIT: Molly Daniel

LOCATION: London, UK

Nilüfer Yanya dwells in life’s absurdities and anxieties. The English singer-songwriter’s ambitious debut album, Miss Universe, is based around a loose concept, a faux self-care hotline that promises to cure the pains of existence. Her voice flickers with controlled chaos, a glimmering falsetto in one breath and a rich rumble in the next. Shining synths give way to buoyant guitar fuzz, a la the Strokes. On a few tracks, Yanya interjects with the soothing monotone of a call specialist, emphasizing her striking power upon returning to the regularly scheduled programming. –Julia

Patio

CREDIT: Bao Ngo

LOCATION: New York, NY

After a few years of small tours and an EP, Patio finally put out their great debut album, Essentials. The vocals are deadpan and detached as electric guitar shards contribute to their off-kilter post-punk vibe. Essentials is filled with violent visions as a form of release and repair. Alice Suh weaves intricate drumbeat webs over the vocals of Lindsey Paige-McCloy and Loren DiBlasi. Whether airy and aloof or heavy with a lingering drawl, their voices are both eerie and mesmerizing. All at once, Patio are poignant, dark, grotesque, and really fucking affecting. –Margaret

Penelope Isles

CREDIT: Abbey Raymonde

LOCATION: Brighton, UK

Siblings Jack and Lily Wolter form the core songwriting duo of Penelope Isles, and they play with the kind of easy chemistry informed by an entire lifetime of beach trips. Befitting its title, their band’s debut LP Until The Tide Creeps In ebbs and flows like the sea, building from classically dreamy indie-rock reveries to waves of sweet noise on seven-minute album centerpiece “Gnarbone.” Who knows where the current might lead them next? –Peter

Polo G

LOCATION: Chicago, IL

All over the pop charts, you’ll hear rappers experimenting with Auto-Tuned melody. But you won’t hear anyone who brings the grace or gravity of Polo G, a quiet and insular young man who writes with precision and empathy about the mental and spiritual weight that comes from growing up in a dangerous and unpredictable place. That heaviness is there in “Pop Out,” Polo G’s rob-the-party breakout hit. And it’s all over the tragic and lovely debut album Die A Legend. In Polo G’s hand, that melodic and popular rap style quite simply becomes blues. –Tom

Pottery

CREDIT: Luke Orlando

LOCATION: Montreal, Quebec

The chorus to “Hank Williams,” Pottery’s debut single, is “Hank Williams does speed for the first time.” Apparently, a musician trying out for the band said that’s what the song sounded like, and it’s as good a way as any to describe their sound — not exactly country, but old-school psych-pop and post-punk spiked with a shot of decidedly modern creative energy. Recorded two years ago in a two-day marathon session, their debut EP No. 1 is a vibrant snapshot of musical clay taking shape. And if their live show is any indication, their next release is gonna be a sweet-ass vase. –Peter

SASAMI

CREDIT: Lindsay Ellary

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA

Whether touring with Cherry Glazerr, making compositions for commercials, or helping out pals like Vagabon or Wild Nothing, Sasami Ashworth has been supporting other musicians for a while now. However, it wasn’t until this past spring that Ashworth released her own debut album, filled with tender, somewhat sullen indie rock. Her delivery is clear and forthcoming, but drenched in striking Joni Mitchell melancholy. Tender guitars tiptoe around her pensive vocals and then thrum with distortion and unease. It’s both vulnerable and a little sore, like a wound mid-heal. –Margaret

Sass

CREDIT: Tessa Loeffler

LOCATION: Minneapolis, MN

Sass live up to their name, but they use sarcasm and cheekiness as a deflection tactic against a looming darkness. The songs on their debut album, Chew Toy, are about heavy shit, and Stephanie Murck never undersells the very serious topics she’s singing about. But the gnarled and fuzzy towers of attitude that Sass build up around that are stunning — frustrated bursts of pure release. –James

Slowthai

CREDIT: Crowns & Owls

LOCATION: Northampton, UK

Slowthai knows how to grab attention. Calling the Queen a cunt on his single, naming his album Nothing Great About Britain, hoisting the (fake) severed head of Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Mercury Music Prize Ceremony — these are all loud, confrontational ways for a young man to declare war on the homeland that he sees declaring war on him. But even without those tactics, Slowthai would demand your attention, just through the sheer kinetic power of his raw, physical, nerve-jangling form of rap music. –Tom

Snarls

CREDIT: Chris Casella

LOCATION: Columbus, OH

Though their Bandcamp descriptor “glitter emo alt rock” is apt, the power of Snarls lay in their heart. Not their crushes or their friendships, though they’re plenty fine in themselves, but in the way they sing their dream-pop choruses. Snarls sing like they mean it — because they really, really do. They’re kids who spent their sole EP and this year’s standalone single, “Walk In The Woods,” caught in a rush of living in the moment, adrenaline buzzing, asking to be heard for once. –Nina

Squid

CREDIT: Holly Whitaker

LOCATION: Brighton, UK

In the past couple years, there’s been a whole new wave of young British and Irish guitar bands rising up, many within the orbit of producer Dan Carey and his label Speedy Wunderground. Squid is the latest of those. With their new EP Town Centre, Squid proved their versatility by placing horn-tinged post-rock zoneouts alongside impeccably crafted, hook-laden post-punk like “The Cleaner” and “Match Bet” — who knows what they might pull off across a full-length debut. –Ryan

Stella Donnelly

CREDIT: Pooneh Ghana

LOCATION: Fremantle, Australia

Stella Donnelly’s writing merges the candid honesty of a diary entry with the punchy witticisms of a stand-up set. Her blunt disposition and cheeky sense of humor endure, whether she’s singing about creepy old men or her trusty vibrator. Laid-back guitars and airy synths impart a twee sheen, a sarcastic optimism. The Australian singer-songwriter’s debut full-length, Beware Of The Dogs, is a master class in laughing through your tears and growing from the pain. –Julia

Truth Club

CREDIT: Logan Murray

LOCATION: Raleigh, NC

Truth Club are the wistful, nervy relatives of indie rock’s past and present. The four-piece reconfigure the genre’s moodiest, most poignant moments into their own distinctly emotive sound. You can hear echoes of Parquet Courts and Protomartyr’s spoken-word freak-outs and jittery guitars, sensitive and catchy late-’90s alt-rock, Pavement-esque slow-burners, and some emo intonation. Their debut album, Not An Exit, is restless and introspective, a meditation that overflows. –Julia

Weeping Icon

LOCATION: New York, NY

Weeping Icon deliver feverish and gloomy warnings about the state of society. Their messages are buried under acidic scrawl and booms of noise and smears of black, but they still comes through clearly enough. The songs on their debut album are about how we engage with the world through the lens of our screens and how disengaged that makes us with the actual world around us. The trio aren’t heavy-handed, though; instead, they’re tightly-controlled and cutthroat. They make you think twice about picking up the phone. –James