The 40 Best New Bands Of 2021

The 40 Best New Bands Of 2021

Only in the past few months has seeing shows become a viable option once again. Thus, just like last year, it’s been difficult to figure out which new artists hold up on the road, or which ones have such a spectacular live show that it forces you to reconsider their recorded output. But we here at Stereogum are still as determined as ever to compile our annual Best New Bands list, in order to provide a look at the musicians that make us most excited about the future and organize them all in one place.

As always, there are some caveats. “New” is a subjective term. Some of these artists have been around for a while, and are only now capitalizing on the release of a few promising EPs or some under-the-radar albums. Others only have a handful of songs to their name. More than ever, the online world has a way of inoculating artists within a small scene until they break out in a big way. But all of them are doing something worth hearing right now, and deserve to have your ears (and eyes, hopefully!) on them going forward. We also stubbornly continue to call this the Best New Bands list, even though there are artists that are not, strictly speaking, bands.

A reminder: We purposefully run this list removed from year-end season to give these up-and-comers an appropriate spotlight. (Seriously, if you say anything about the timing of the list, you’re a dweeb!) And we also keep in mind that an artist’s trajectory can’t be tied to a single 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 new music posts and Band To Watch column. We have been doing these lists for over a decade now, and have a pretty good track record. So get familiar with Stereogum’s 40 Best New Bands Of 2021, presented below in alphabetical order. You can also listen to a playlist of our picks on Spotify. —James Rettig

Amaarae

LOCATION: Atlanta, GA / Accra, Ghana
Amaarae is an original, a singer-rapper-producer capable of saying a lot with the most minimal of gestures. With roots in Accra and Atlanta, she grew up under the influence of two of music’s greatest cities, near America’s hip-hop capital and one of the key hubs in modern African pop. Her vivid yet understated debut album The Angel You Don’t Know reflects that fluidity; it doesn’t really fit in anywhere but sounds great anywhere on Earth. —Chris DeVille



[Photo by Yussif Al Jabaar.]

Another Michael

LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA
Another Michael got their start in the chilly environs of up-upstate New York, in Albany. Once the trio relocated to Philly, their music became warmer and more inviting and more assured. Their debut album New Music And Big Pop is confidently unhurried, taking its cues from spindly ’70s singer-songwriters and the erudite emo of Pinegrove. Its pair of title tracks are counterpoints to each other — “New Music” is a shaggy folk ramble, while “Big Pop” is rousing and anthemic. Their album is largely about the joy and mystique of making music, and Another Michael exude plenty of joy and mystique themselves. —James



[Photo by Julia Leiby.]

Bruiser Wolf

LOCATION: Detroit, MI
Danny Brown spent most of 2021 trying to get his Bruiser Brigade crew and label off the ground, releasing a string of impressive solo albums from associates like J.U.S and Fat Ray on Bandcamp. Those albums are all a lot of fun, and they all show a certain sense of community. The standout rapper in the crew is Bruiser Wolf, a fast-talking cut-up with a prissily theatrical delivery that recalls West Coast pimp-rap greats like Suga Free. When they’re on the same track, Bruiser Wolf regularly gives Danny Brown himself a run for his money, so there’s no telling what he could do in time. —Tom Breihan

LOCATION: Melbourne, Australia
The building blocks of Civic’s sound are straightforward and no-nonsense, a winning formula blending garage rock, punk, and a bit of noisy alt-rock. But simplicity can feel revelatory again when it’s wielded with Civic’s ferocity. After releasing EPs for a couple years, the group roared out the gates with their debut Future Forecast earlier this year. Over 12 songs, the band rarely lets up, with highlights like “Radiant Eye” and “Tell The Papers” tapping into a bracing, exhilarating, gratifying churn of guitars and snarled vocals. —Ryan Leas

Claire Rousay

LOCATION: San Antonio, TX
Sit back and sink into the soothing sounds of Claire Rousay. Ambient music is in something of a weird place right now, in that it’s a little too easy for an artist to lean into New Age-y drones and think they’ve landed on something truly transportive, but everything about Rousay’s music hits just right. Last year’s it was always worth it and this year’s a softer focus work hard for their meditative states. Rousay uses the traditional field recordings and lapping synths of the medium and invites deep introspection, providing the space to have as many or as few thoughts as you wish. —James



[Photo by Dani Toral.]

Ducks Ltd.

LOCATION: Toronto, Ontario
Ducks Ltd. — formerly Ducks Unlimited — have an unapologetic love of ’80s jangle-pop, and they have done their homework as far as that niche goes. The duo geeks out over underrated Reagan-era acts like Close Lobsters, McCarthy, the Clean, the Bats, and anything else on New Zealand’s Flying Nun roster. But that isn’t to say Tom McGreevy and Evan Lewis are carbon copies — Ducks Ltd. put their own spin on a classic sound, most recently heard on their chiming (and charming) debut album, Modern Fiction, which is clearly inspired by classics like the Feelies and the Go-Betweens but also pulls from more modern indie staples such as Real Estate and Beach Fossils. They’re a valuable addition to the canon. –Rachel Brodsky   



[Photo by Christiane Johnston.]

LOCATION: New York, NY
Within hardcore circles, Ekulu have been considered a can’t-miss prospect for years, despite having just a handful of songs to their name. The band, which features members of groups like Candy and Ecostrike, tapped into the deep historic well of stomping, groove-centring New York hardcore ever since they released their first 7″ in 2018. With their debut album Unscrew My Head, Ekulu have made good on all that buzz. At LP length, Ekulu update and revive the fearsome sounds of classic bands like the Cro-Mags and Madball, locking into a primally satisfying from of chest-thump riffage. —Tom

LOCATION: Tacoma, WA
Enumclaw’s Aramis Johnson came up in the hip-hop world, and his band’s music is just as indebted to the confessional melodicism of rappers like Drake and Kid Cudi as it is to the ’90s grunge and indie rock of their native Pacific Northwest. These guys first picked up their instruments less than two years ago and are already cheekily billing themselves as “the best band since Oasis.” Their debut EP Jimbo Demos has enough scrappy charm to make you believe it. —Peter Helman



[Photo by Colin Matsui.]

EST Gee

LOCATION: Louisville, KY
EST Gee’s life is not easy. He’s survived shootings and lost family members. As a rapper, EST Gee carries himself with a no-nonsense confidence, his hardbitten snarl shining even on tracks with big stars like Lil Baby and Young Thug. That charisma might have something to do with all the calamities and losses that EST Gee has already endured. He doesn’t seem intimidated or even impressed at the prospect of rap stardom, and he approaches his major-label debut Bigger Than Life Or Death with a blithe sense of assurance, attacking ominous beats with casual ferocity. He’s not scared, and you can hear it in his voice. —Tom

Fatboi Sharif

LOCATION: Rahway, NJ
Fatboi Sharif is a character. The indie-rap absurdist loves horror-movie imagery and bloopy, psychedelic beats. He delivers his jagged, free-associative punchlines with a giddy, delightfully trollish imagery. Sharif clearly draws inspiration from generations of insular underground rappers, from MF DOOM to Earl Sweatshirt. But Sharif’s true aesthetic forefather is really Kool Keith, another gorehound surrealist with a cartoonish sense of theatricality. Sharif records like Gandhi Loves Children, an album-length collabo with producer Roper Williams, bring the rare and welcome sense that you simply don’t know what this motherfucker will say next. —Tom

LOCATION: Chicago, IL
Math-rock has a reputation for being “difficult” music. But Floatie make it sound easy, couching their complex time signatures and twisty song structures in dreamy guitar-pop that soothes as much as it confounds. Although the Chicago quartet officially formed in 2018 and released their debut album Voyage Out this year, its members have been been friends for nearly a decade, more than enough time to develop a shared musical language that balances precisely on the edge between off-kilter dissonance and hypnotic beauty. —Peter



[Photo by Ash Dye.]

For Your Health

LOCATION: Columbus, OH
For Your Health sound like a glorious mashup of everything the kids that hung out in the parking lot of my childhood mall listened to the mid-’00s (shoutout to Menlo Park). Their debut album In Spite Of combines screamo and metalcore and melodic hardcore into a ferocious and frenzied mess, fueled by our increasingly dystopian world and the anger one feels at simply existing in this timeline. With song titles like “i slept with wes eisold and all i got was an out of court settlement” and “save your breath, you’re gonna need it to blow my head off,” they keep the theatrics of the era they’re indebted to and add in an (un)healthy dose of addled online mania. —James

Francis Of Delirium

LOCATION: Luxembourg
Francis Of Delirium is the product of an unlikely collaboration: Vocalist Jana Bahrich is a 19-year-old from Vancouver, drummer Chris Hewett is almost 30 years older and from Seattle, but the two met and teamed up in Luxembourg, of all places. Together, they’ve made spiky, grunge-inflected indie rock on Wading, a sophomore EP released this past spring. But the band is already changing, still in the early stages of crafting their sound: More recent singles “Come Out And Play” and “All Love” leaned in a more atmospheric, shoegaze-oriented direction, and they were the best songs Francis have released yet. —Ryan



[Photo by Pit Reding.]

Gabe 'Nandez

LOCATION: New York, NY
On his pair of 2021 EPs, rapper Gabe ‘Nandez is the kind of master craftsman who can slice you to bits without even raising his voice above a whisper. His music is loosely related to the deconstructed dystopias of Armand Hammer, whose Elucid guests on “Coupé Décalé,” and the Roc Marciano school of floaty, minimalist boom-bap. The beats he chooses are low-key vibes that put his robust, gravelly vocals front and center, with which he strings together common tropes so deftly that they feel like literature: “Black sunny roads, cash, money, hoes/ Gas money, pass fast money, trash bummy clothes/ Rap money, Nasdaq money, tax money grow/ Bad bunnies, fat ass honey, stash money go.” —Chris

LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY
Wanna feel old? Geese formed during their freshman year of high school in 2016. After bonding over modern psych-rock (Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall), classic- and prog-rock (Yes, Can), and, of course, Radiohead, Geese were actually planning to drop an album online before migrating (sorry!) to college. That obviously didn’t happen: After uploading the post-punk-inspired “Low Era,” suddenly the band was scooped up by a manager, and ultimately, indie incubator Partisan Records (home to fellow upstarts IDLES and Fontaines D.C.). It’s not hard to see why the local industry jumped so fast — the quartet cleverly meshes decades of rock influence with beyond-their-years precision. The marvelously twitchy “Disco” rolls in with an early ‘00s Lower East Side swagger yet is as compositionally ambitious as anything their experimentalist idols would produce. Geese might still technically be goslings, but they’ve already taken flight. –Rachel 



[Photo by Daniel Topete.]

Home Is Where

LOCATION: Palm Coast, FL
Before I Became Birds, it would have been hard to conceive of an album that evoked both Neutral Milk Hotel and Deafheaven at turns. But for the Florida emo band Home Is Where, hauntingly surreal folk-rock and translucent noise-charred screamo are outgrowths of the same striking vision, one that reckons with radical politics, gender dysphoria, and the wholesome compulsion to pet every puppy you see. Few albums have ever left us more curious about what a band will do next. —Chris

Horsegirl

LOCATION: Chicago, IL
When Penelope Lowenstein, Nora Cheng, and Gigi Reece formed Horsegirl, they were high schoolers who were feverishly getting into different corners of music history and sharing it with one another. That was barely two years ago, and the trio has spent 2021 blowing up. On the strength of a single three-song EP — and “Ballroom Dance Scene” in particular, which ended up in constant rotation on Sirius XMU — the group generated a ton of buzz and earned themselves a Matador deal. So far, Horsegirl favor a dreamy but scrappy and occasionally hypnotic sound, honoring a long lineage of indie rock but carrying it forward into a new generation. —Ryan



[Photo by Fiona Clark.]

LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY
Hypoluxo sound like countless indie bands you’ve loved from across the decades, from the sophisticated art-damaged post-punks of the late 1970s to myriad ferociously catchy crossover success stories circa The OC. Last fall’s self-titled LP marked them as a band with spunk, with bite, with hooks, with taste. It was a reminder that the classic four-person rock-band lineup can still be vital, that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel if you can get people’s wheels spinning. —Chris



[Photo by Henry Archer.]

Indigo De Souza

LOCATION: Asheville, NC
“When pain is real, you cannot run,” Indigo De Souza sings on the centerpiece of her blistering sophomore album Any Shape You Take. Building on the lo-fi promise of her 2018 debut I Love My Mom, everything about her second album is bigger, brasher, and more impactful. With the help of producer Brad Cook, De Souza made a clanging, clamorous LP that matches the energy of her incredible voice. The songs pulse like open wounds, though ones that are starting to scab over — Any Shape You Take has tracks about grief and the pain of self-discovery, but there is also a breezy ode to friendship (“Hold U”) and an almost-happy sounding breakup song (“Pretty Pictures”). De Souza manages to do it all on Any Shape You Take, molding to fit each sound she takes on with a fearsome determination. —James



[Photo by Charlie Boss.]

Katy Kirby

LOCATION: Nashville, TN
There’s beauty in simplicity, a fact that Katy Kirby understands better than most. The singer-songwriter’s unassuming folk-rock songs unfurl with a deceptive grace, reveling in the nuances of life’s subtle details. Her debut album Cool Dry Place is a celebration of the small moments of intimacy found amid a constant yearning for communication and connection, the exact kind of moments that her own music seems destined to create. —Peter



[Photo by Jackie Lee Young.]

Lightning Bug

LOCATION: New York, NY
The roots of Lightning Bug go way back: Founding members Audrey Kang, Kevin Copeland, and Logan Miley all met around a decade ago, and the group’s been releasing music since the middle of the ‘10s. But last year, when Fat Possum picked up their sophomore outing for a vinyl reissue, they were poised for a breakthrough and then got cut off at the knees when the pandemic hit. Now they finally get their moment with A Color Of The Sky, an album that achieves a kind of organic shoegaze — Kang’s otherworldly vocals, trickling acoustics, well-placed distortion flare-ups, all of it like shadowy images viewed through a misty, rainy day — just like all the best dream-pop the band is drawing upon. —Ryan



[Photo by Ingmar Chen.]

Magdalena Bay

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
Charli XCX once said, “I just wanna go back to 1999.” Magdalena Bay — aka the internet-fluent duo Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin — can relate to that sentiment. Their hyperactive, glitchy brand of electro-pop might be more directly inspired by ‘10s alt-pop, but their aesthetic looks like a moodboard plastered with images from Y2K-era issues of YM. (Check out their Geocities-inspired band website for further proof.) Don’t get it twisted, though: Despite their candy-coated costuming, Magdalena Bay’s music has a chewy center. Lewin and Tenenbaum are adept at laying out the anxieties and paranoia that define their generation on bouncy cuts like “Hysterical Us,” “You Lose!,” or “Chaeri,” which are just some of the standouts on the band’s excellent debut, Mercurial World. Clearly, it’s Magdalena Bay’s mercurial world, and we’re just living in it. –Rachel 



[Photo by Ian Clontz.]

Mandy, Indiana

LOCATION: Manchester, UK
This is a band that named themselves after a town in Indiana, hails from Manchester, England, and sings mostly in French, which might tell you something about their inability to sit still. Mandy, Indiana play an experimental form of post-punk that’s both gritty and dancey, with enough industrial noise and rhythmic intensity to soundtrack a rave in a darkened warehouse. Their debut EP isn’t even out yet, and its elliptical title already seems to hint at more thrilling surprises to come. —Peter



[Photo by Holly Whitaker.]

Martha Skye Murphy

LOCATION: London, UK
Martha Skye Murphy’s career began auspicious but, one would imagine, daunting as well — collaborating with none other than Nick Cave, first for a film and then on 2013’s great Push The Sky Away. Across a handful of EPs and singles in the last two years, Murphy has approached a patient, icy sound — piano and static and gentle noise, her voice ghostly above it all. Her music often exists in a hazy, cloudy headspace, but that makes the moments of vulnerability all that more striking: On “Stuck,” her most recent release and one of her best songs, her cries of “See me!” can slash right into your soul. —Ryan



[Photo by Ceidra Moon Murphy.]

Mustafa

LOCATION: Toronto, ON
Mustafa Ahmed brings a soulful touch to atmospheric folk-pop, surrounding his rich, fluttery vocals with production from artful dance-music architects like Jamie xx and James Blake without compromising its somber organic feel. His debut full-length When Smoke Rises evokes Frank Ocean, Glen Hansard, and Tracy Chapman all at once, and his duet with Sampha on “Capo” could not make more sense. It’s the kind of soft, melancholy balladry into which you can lower yourself and just bathe in the vibes. —Chris



[Photo by Dexter Navy.]

New Pagans

LOCATION: Belfast, UK
New Pagans’ music has all the gothic grandeur of the craggy landscape of their Northern Ireland home. Their stormy indie rock, tinged with a melodic pop sweetness and a tart punk bite, co-opts biblical language and imagery to question the male-dominated narrative of history. They’re determined to tear it down and write their own story, and their debut album The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots And All is a compellingly visceral tale of karmic justice. —Peter

Olivia Rodrigo

LOCATION: Temecula, CA
Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve already heard of Olivia Rodrigo. After taking the world by storm with “drivers license,” the 18-year-old Disney actress quickly became pop music’s biggest breakout success of the year. The songs on her debut album Sour filter tabloid-ready heartbreak through vulnerable singer-songwriter balladry and the biting pop-punk catharsis of pop stardom circa 2021, making teen angst sound as earth-shatteringly huge as it feels. —Peter



[Photo by Stefan Kohli.]

One Step Closer

LOCATION: Wilkes-Barre, PA
Part of the allure of the young hardcore band One Step Closer is how their music never lightens up. One Step Closer’s sound is all crashing drama — melodic leads swarming into heavy riffage, whispery and echoing singsong vocals giving way to strangulated roars. On their great 2019 EP From Me To You, OSC showed how they could translate energetic soul-baring into moshpit anthems. On their full-length debut This Place You Know, the band pushes things even further. The heavy parts are heavier, the pretty parts are prettier, and the dynamic swirl is so rich and instinctive that you could lose yourself in it. —Tom



[Photo by Spencer Chamberlain.]

Parannoul

LOCATION: Seoul, South Korea
There are no photos online of the artist that goes by Parannoul. There are scant few interviews or biographical details about them out there. We know that Parannoul is a South Korean college student who, quite suddenly, became an adored cult figure with the release of their sophomore album To See The Next Part Of The Dream. But that album is the sort of achievement that speaks for itself — sprawling and ambitious, it’s a collision of gliding poppy blurs and shoegaze guitars. That most of those guitars are apparently virtual is kind of astounding, but it sort of makes sense. It’s the ultimate tinkerer’s album, made in a bedroom and fiddled with for what I’d assume was a long time, filled with infinite layers and infinitely more promise. —James

Pillow Queens

LOCATION: Dublin, Ireland
A year after same-sex marriage was made legal in Ireland, Sarah Corcoran, Pamela Connolly, Cathy McGuinness, and Rachel Lyons formed Pillow Queens: an all-queer DIY outfit named for a slang term referencing somebody who takes more than they give in bed. Unafraid to tackle thorny subjects like politics and religion, the quartet dropped its debut EP Calm Girls in 2016 and its debut album In Waiting last year. Cloaked in catchy choruses, both works are equally pugnacious and anthemic, as fun to blare with the windows rolled down as they are substantive. –Rachel 



[Photo by Faolán Carey.]

PinkPantheress

LOCATION: London, UK
The rise of PinkPantheress was so dominant that she already has Coldplay clout-chasing. The young musician was a lightning rod before she even put out her debut mixtape. Given her use of well-worn samples that trade on an established nostalgia, some might stick their nose up at an artist whose defining quality so far is how well she utilizes other people’s songs. But the best moments on the 18-minute sampler to hell with it are the more original ones, like the Mura Masa-produced “Just For Me” on which PinkPantheress spins one of her delicate melodies over a vaporwavey loop. Her songs, conscious of their TikTok origins, are short and quickly get to the point, and as it stands now, to hell with it is a perfectly compelling slice of uncanny valley pop. —James



[Photo by Jesse Crankson.]

Pom Pom Squad

LOCATION: New York, NY
Few contemporary acts fuse the innocent and the deranged quite like Pom Pom Squad, which started out as Mia Berrin’s solo project in the late 2010s. Now expanded to a full band, with Shelby Keller on drums, Alex Mercuri on guitar, and Mari Ale Figeman on bass, Pom Pom Squad are building a world out of Phil Spector-era pop levity, Y2K punk riffs, and muddy ‘90s grunge. Nowhere is this more evident than on the band’s debut LP, Death Of A Cheerleader, which is produced by Illuminati Hotties’ Sarah Tudzin and comes packed with sticky hooks (“Head Cheerleader”), minor-key misery (“Drunk Voicemail”), and dramatic orchestral anthems (“Crying”). Each cut is topped off by Berrin’s agile vocals, which yelp, soar, and transmit a vibrant spectrum of emotion. –Rachel 



[Photo by Alex Free.]

Rid Of Me

LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA
The members of Rid Of Me have spent time in noisy, intense punk bands like Soul Glo and Fight Amp. With Rid Of Me, they’ve been playing shows on the DIY hardcore circuit ever since that circuit rumbled back to life post-pandemic. But Rid Of Me’s sound is a hooky, exuberant take on ’90s alt-rock. The band is even named after the PJ Harvey LP that still stands as one of the noisiest, most intense records ever to get modern-rock radio airplay. Rid Of Me’s full-length debut Traveling is one of the hardest, most immediate rock records in recent memory. —Tom



[Photo by Mackenzie Walker.]

LOCATION: Dallas, TX
Alex Montenegro said that recording her band Skirts’ debut album “felt like a whirlwind,” but Great Big Wild Oak certainly doesn’t sound like a whirlwind. It’s placidly calm, sun-speckled and operating in the grand folk tradition of being inspired by nature. Great Big Wild Oak is hushed and intimate and reverent, with twangy guitars and a whole lot of open space. Highlights like “Remember” and “Sapling” sound like flipping through old photo albums, shocked and enlightened by how much time has passed and how quickly things have changed. —James



[Photo by Charles Knowles.]

Soul Blind

LOCATION: Hudson Valley, NY
The fresh-faced rockers in Soul Blind must’ve been babies in the ’90s, but their sound is utterly immersed in that decade’s different varieties of guitar music. In Soul Blind’s heavy blur, you can detect echoes of all sorts of ’90s bands: Ride, Smashing Pumpkins, the Catherine Wheel, Quicksand, Deftones. But when the band is playing live at gut-liquefying volumes, you’d be well-advised to stop playing spot-the-influence and to let the bittersweet roar sweep you away. Like those ’90s bands, Soul Blind understand the melancholy power that you can conjure when you combine sighing, downcast melodies with overwhelming pedal-stomp riffs. —Tom



[Photo by Kelli Mcguire.]

Storefront Church

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
As We Pass is Lukas Frank’s official debut LP as Storefront Church, but the noir-ish storms he conjures on the album have been brewing for years. A session drummer-turned-darkly atmospheric auteur, Frank can evoke Radiohead and Chris Isaak in the same breath. His music flexes both a fundamental knack for melody and a meticulously detailed touch. It feels grim and apocalyptic, yet the future of this project feels bright. —Chris



[Photo by Lili Peper.]

Tems

LOCATION: Lagos, Nigeria
One feature on WizKid’s slow-build smash “Essence” was all it took to confirm Tems as one of the most promising voices to emerge out of Nigeria in recent memory. The Lagos-based pop and R&B singer is effortlessly smooth and supremely confident, capable of both Sade-like simmer and Rihanna-esque flair. Even before Drake inevitably featured her on the biggest album of 2021, it seemed inevitable that she would become a mainstay of American R&B radio. —Chris



[Photo by Roderick Ejuetami.]

W.H. Lung

LOCATION: Manchester, UK
Back in 2019, W.H. Lung were already building hype in the UK thanks to their debut album Incidental Music. Then they underwent a mini-reboot, losing a member and delving deeper into the dance music they’d experienced thanks to the nightlife culture in their native Manchester. With their sophomore LP Vanities, the group has leveled up. The project’s calling cards might be bangers like “Pearl In The Palm” and “Showstopper,” but it also finds room for more enigmatic tracks like “Calm Down” and “Gd Tym” and wistful reflections like “ARPi.” Altogether, they’re making synth-pop that, yes, could fill a dancefloor, but could just as easily accompany you on listless night walks. —Ryan



[Photo by Laura Cheshire.]

Wednesday

LOCATION: Asheville, NC
Wednesday’s music feels like an exorcism, an attempt to burn away Karly Hartzman’s most haunting memories in the searing noise of Jake Lenderman’s fuzzed-out guitar. Or perhaps it’s more like a seance — because some ghosts, like the slight Southern twang in Wednesday’s gnarled shoegaze, never really leave you. Wednesday’s sophomore album Twin Plagues is an aching, bittersweet reminder of the past, drawing from indie rock’s history while charting a course for their own future. —Peter



[Photo by Charlie Boss.]

LOCATION: Isle Of Wight, UK
Wet Leg — aka recent Domino signees Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers — only have a couple of songs out. But what’s available is so promising, it shouldn’t be a surprise that “Chaise Longue” has racked up millions of streams since dropping in June. (The lyrics, sung-spoken à la contemporaries Dry Cleaning, wryly referencing Mean Girls — ”Is your muffin buttered? Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?” — certainly doesn’t hurt.) Follow-up “Wet Dream” packs a similar post-punk punch but bounds along with pop energy reminiscent of Le Tigre or Bratmobile. Then there’s the band’s absurdist sense of humor (i.e., singing about masturbation while wearing a nap dress and lobster claws). It’s a wild, charismatic combination I never knew I needed. –Rachel   



[Photo by Hollie Fernando.]

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