The 40 Best New Bands Of 2022

The 40 Best New Bands Of 2022

Every year for more than a decade now, we here at Stereogum have put our collective heads together to compile a list of artists that make us excited about where music is going. There is more music out there than ever, and the amount of it that’s made by newer artists is exciting, and it continues to be invigorating and overwhelming to sift through all of that for our loyal readers (and the not-so-loyal ones, too — welcome).

The usual caveats are in effect. “New” is a subjective term to us. Some of these acts have been around for a bit, but there’s something about what they’ve done in the past year that makes us feel like they’ve reached or are about to reach their full potential. We also stubbornly continue to call this Best New Bands, even though (as you’ll see) the list contains rappers, pop and ambient and electronic projects, musicians that are blurring the genre lines between all of those and more. We’re old-fashioned! Doesn’t matter what you call them — all these musicians are doing something that we think is worth hearing right now.

Another reminder: We intentionally run this list removed from year-end season to give these up-and-comers their own spotlight. Resist the urge to chime in “year-end list season already?” or “2022 isn’t even over yet” — we own calendars, we know, thank you for the note. If you’ve been along for the ride, many of these names will be familiar to those who keep up with our daily new music posts and Band To Watch column. We have been doing these lists for a long while, and we’re happy with our past results. Dig into Stereogum’s 40 Best New Bands Of 2022 below, presented in alphabetical order. You can also listen to a playlist of our picks on Spotify Apple Music, and TIDAL. —James Rettig

Age Of Apocalypse

LOCATION: Hudson Valley, NY
They might come from the same fundamentalist hardcore scene that gave us Mindforce, and they might have teamed up with beat-you-up specialists Pain Of Truth on a split 7″, but Age Of Apocalypse are on some other shit. They’re very much a hardcore band, but frontman Dylan Kaplowitz delivers his lyrics in a full-throated fantastical wail. That voice, combined with the band’s monster-sized riffs, moves AOA into larger-than-life dragon-rider shit – the one band at the VFW Hall that evokes Iron Maiden as much as the Cro-Mags. —Tom Breihan

[Photo by Kayla Guilliams.]

LOCATION: Fairfield, CT
Anxious pull from multiple emo eras — from the pop heights of Fountains Of Wayne, Death Cab For Cutie, and Jimmy Eat World to the more post-hardcore stylings of Pianos Become The Teeth. Taken together, vocalist Grady Allen, guitarists Dante Melucci and Ryan Savitski, bassist Sam Allen, and drummer Jonny Camner create a wildly catchy, throat-ripping style all of their own, and they’re only just getting started. Their cathartic 2022 debut Little Green House comprises 10 tight, balanced tracks that touch on coming-of-age moments in clear-eyed detail and contain an inherent understanding of when to pull back and when to unleash the shred. —Rachel Brodsky

[Photo by Rebecca Lader.]

Blackbraid

LOCATION: Adirondack Mountains, NY
“I kind of live in the middle of nowhere, and that’s always been a huge part of my life,” the indigenous black metal musician known as Blackbraid said in an interview earlier this year. “I wanted to bring that to people through music, for people who might be living in a less-than-ideal situation, or a lot of people live their entire lives in cities and don’t even know what it’s like to be in the country or go on a hike, see a mountain, or swim in a stream.” The expansive, propulsive songs that populate Blackbird’s debut album, which has become a genuine phenomenon in the genre, are more tempestuous than reflective, but they communicate an awe of and passion for the natural world around us. —James

[Photo by Wolf Mountain Productions.]

LOCATION: London, UK
You don’t see many eight-piece indie groups in the 2020s, if only because the ’00s post-rock era feels more conducive to that band structure. Caroline are bringing it back, though, and they’re reinventing the wheel while they’re at it. They draw influence from the post-rock of yesteryear but lean into its experimental side (think: the Books and the Microphones with a bit of freak-folk Appalachia, a la Akron/Family). Their 2022 self-titled debut is a patchwork quilt of steady strums, scratchy strings, and hypnotic horns and harmonies. With this many ideas, you know Caroline will be with us for the long run. —Rachel

[Photo by Tom Whitson.]

Chat Pile

LOCATION: Oklahoma City, OK
In a deeply fucked-up world, it can be maddening to even point out and acknowledge needless suffering. Chat Pile’s sludgy and guttural noise-rock ripper “Why” feels like the only appropriate response to its central question: “Why do people have to live outside?” Chat Pile work within the tradition of the scuzzy ’90s underground, and they sometimes mirror the acerbic sense of humor that their influences had; they do, after all, have a song called “grimace_smoking_weed.jpeg.” But Chat Pile’s attack comes from the gut. It’s sincere, and it’s powerful. —Tom

[Photo by Bayley Hanes.]

LOCATION: Richmond, VA
I’ve never actually thought about what would happen if you put the pop-rock exuberance of Oasis next to the three-chord brattiness of Green Day, but James Goodson has gone and done that exact thing with his one-man project Dazy. And isn’t that the very mark of innovation? Giving the people what they don’t even know they want? On his ultra-ripping 2021 compilation, MAXIMUMBLASTSUPERLOUD: The First 24 Songs, Goodson blasts through — yes — 24 distortion-packed guitar tracks that go hard on the power-pop hooks and remind you of why you love guitar bands in the first place. Dazy’s new album, OUTOFBODY, provides even more of the same. —Rachel

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
The Baltimore-born musician Dijon Duernas is no stranger to the alt-R&B trenches after spending a good part of the last decade as one-half of Abhi//Dijon. But since stepping out solo a couple years back, he’s made music in a more adventurous vein. Those explorations paid off with Absolutely, an impeccable simmer of an album that foregrounds Dijon’s gravelly smooth voice and has a loose, joyful flow. From the lurching, seasick opener “Big Mike’s” through to the cracking standout “Many Times” and beyond, Dijon takes cues from some guiding creative lights (Frank Ocean, Bon Iver) and manages to carve out his own delicate, elegant lane. —James

Doechii

LOCATION: Tampa, FL
You remember the way you felt when you first watched Tierra Whack’s Whack World? That sense that everything was possible and that this one artist’s deep creativity knew no boundaries? You might find something similar in Doechii, the young woman who recently became the latest member of the TDE roster. Doechii sings and raps with scary levels of talent, and her music moves with a bubbling, irrepressible sense of joy and energy. At this point, it feels like she’s only just discovering what she’s capable of doing, and the rest of us are discovering the same thing along with her. —Tom

[Photo courtesy of COLORS.]

DOMi & JD Beck

LOCATION: Dallas, TX
Keyboardist DOMi Louna, from France, and drummer JD Beck, from Texas, have been building buzz online since teaming up as teenagers four years ago, playing a frenetic form of jazz fusion that computes with their Gen Z peers. It also connects with luminaries like Anderson .Paak, who released their debut NOT TiGHT through his Blue Note imprint Apeshit, and other guests on the album such as Thundercat and Herbie motherfucking Hancock. Both musicians play with fast fluidity throughout, flexing head-spinning technical prowess without puncturing the music’s smooth veneer. We’re gonna have to strongly disagree with that album title. —Chris DeVille

[Photo by Tehillah de Castro.]

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
Like Stereolab and Yo La Tengo before them, Dummy make impossibly cool and eclectic indie rock. On last year’s Mandatory Enjoyment and this year’s phenomenal Sub Pop single, the Los Angeles group draws from an impeccably curated mood board many decades deep, swirling together psychedelia, shoegaze, indie-pop, icy ambient electronics, droning post-Velvet Underground songcraft, chic European throwbacks, and more. They were ideal tourmates for Horsegirl this year in the sense that it feels like both bands’ music could have come out any time in the last quarter-century — but it’s happening now, so let’s enjoy it while it lasts. —Chris

[Photo by Emma Maatman.]

Dust Star

LOCATION: Joshua Tree, CA
The fact that Justin Jurgens and Cameron Wisch started power-pop vehicle Dust Star on Halloween, in Joshua Tree, under the influence of LSD … Well, that’s just such a perfect band-birthing backstory, I think they owed it to each other to start playing together. Jurgens (Sirs) and Wisch (Cende, Porches) combine their collective energy into a crunchy garage-rock paradise. Their debut LP Open Up That Heart recalls the doomed power-punk pioneers the Exploding Hearts in its bratty, effortlessly catchy moxie — but with an added dash of sincerity. —Rachel

[Photo by Stephen DeWitt/High-Desert Film Lab.]

Ethel Cain

LOCATION: Tallahassee, FL
It’s a wild rags-to-riches type of story, Ethel Cain’s: The oldest of four kids in a Southern Baptist family-turned-Givenchy muse. A face-tattooed Gen Z fashion goth who collects dolls and human teeth and prefers VHS tapes to Netflix. A skeptic might dismiss Cain (real name Hayden Anhedönia) as simply a Southern caricature (she grew up in Florida, resides in Alabama, and has zero interest in ever moving to a big city), but the qualities that set Cain apart from other pop-star hopefuls are legitimately fascinating enough to inspire this year’s glowing profiles in the New York Times and Vogue. On her profoundly affecting debut, Preacher’s Daughter, Cain reckons with religious and familial traumas while building a chilling alt-pop sound that is just as influenced by Florence Welch as it is by Gregorian chants. Cain is a born world-builder. —Rachel

[Photo by Helen Kirbo.]

LOCATION: Fort Worth, TX
In his time with Power Trip, Blake Ibanez crafted some of the sickest riffs that the world has heard this century. Power Trip ended suddenly and tragically with the loss of frontman Riley Gale. Ibanez kept his new band Fugitive secret until they released their debut EP Maniac, but in Fugitive, you can hear him attacking his instrument with a new sense of fury and urgency. Fugitive also features members of bands like Creeping Death, Skourge, and Impalers, and their commanding go-for-broke thrash already sounds titanic. —Tom

GloRilla

LOCATION: Memphis, TN
Sometimes, a two-minute song can turn an underground phenomenon into a mainstream star. Sometimes, that same thing can happen in just one line. Something like “I’m S-I-N-G-L-E again, outside hangin’ out the window with my ratchet-ass friends.” With her viral smash “FNF (Let’s Go)” and its joyously anarchic accompanying video, GloRilla launched an insurgent campaign that landed her on hometown hero Yo Gotti’s thriving CMG label. When you’ve got Cardi B showing up on your second single, congratulations, you won. —Tom

LOCATION: London, UK
What is it about hardcore veterans making music that’s distinctly not hardcore? In High Vis, ex-members of a few UK stomper crews have come together to make records that hint at the starry-eyed sweep of the Stone Roses and Oasis. The riffs tingle and soar, but you can still hear the grit of the band members’ recent punk-rock past in the dynamics and in frontman Graham Sayle’s intense bark. Together, those ingredients become something grander than the sum of their parts, and a song like “Talk For Hours” sounds like it’s ready to shake stadiums. —Tom

[Photo by James Edson.]

Jane Inc.

LOCATION: Toronto, ON
In a now-familiar storyline, Carlyn Bezic started solo project Jane Inc. during the pandemic. Until then, she’d had performed a few shows as a touring member of U.S. Girls, but on her own she took discarded ideas from previous bands (Darlene Shrugg, Ice Cream) and created a synth-pop wonderland that dips into bass-driven funk, shimmering disco, and icy new wave. All of these ideas feature on Bezic’s back-to-back releases — 2021’s Number One and 2022’s Faster Than I Can Take — and it’s exciting to think of how she’ll keep the mirrorball spinning moving forward. —Rachel

[Photo by Shelby Fenlon.]

Jane Remover

LOCATION: New Jersey
Jane Remover is at the forefront of one of the most potent underground subgenres in recent years, a sound that pulls from emo, hip-hop, chiptune, post-rock, and countless other spheres. But you don’t need to know what the fuck digicore is to appreciate this music. Anyone with a taste for gorgeous textures, piercingly intimate lyrics, and grandly ambitious arrangements might lose themselves in last year’s Frailty and all the impressive singles this teenage upstart has released since. —Chris

[Photo by Eev Flick.]

Jockstrap

LOCATION: London, UK
Jockstrap, the duo made up of jazz violinist Georgia Ellery and electronic producer Taylor Skye, channel dance-floor euphoria through music school pretensions. The pair went to London’s prestigious Guildhall School Of Music & Drama and they spent a few years homing in on the many disparate sounds that appear on I Love You Jennifer B, their debut full-length. The result is a dizzying collision of ideas, delightfully odd and fizzy. It’s filled with pop songs that distort and distend into unrecognizable shapes — from the alternately operatic and rude “Concrete Over Water” to “50/50,” which ends this first chapter from the group with a thumping, fractured take on dance music. —James

[Photo by Eddie Whelan.]

King Hannah

LOCATION: Liverpool, UK
As King Hannah, Hannah Merrick and Craig Whittle make music that evokes PJ Harvey’s primordial blues-rock, Portishead’s woozy trip-hop, and the National’s smoldering prestige indie, among other touchpoints. But as they put it in the title of their debut album I’m Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me, they are fully in command of their own blustery, foreboding, ruggedly organic sound. It’s the work of a spookily confident band just getting started. —Chris

[Photo by Katie Silvester.]

Knifeplay

LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA
Knifeplay spent three years worrying over and tinkering with the songs on Animal Drowning, and it shows. Recorded with Philly indie rock whisperer Jeff Zeigler, the band’s sophomore album is perfectly executed shoegaze: hypnotic and bleak and impossibly beautiful. The band owes much to legends of the genre like My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins, but their influences run deeper — to emo greats American Football and slowcore staples Duster. Animal Drowning is harrowing but calming, and it contains so many rippling effects and small but significant touches that you simply must lean in and listen closely. —James

[Photo by Marcus Maddox.]

LF System

LOCATION: West Lothian, Scotland
At a time when every new project from name-brand superstars is expected to be some grand statement, it’s nice to be reminded that some of the best pop music is just fun. Such contagious glee is why LF System caught on so resoundingly in the UK. Signature hit “Afraid To Feel” stayed at #1 longer than any other British single this year, a pleasure bomb tossed into another chaotic summer. It’s just one of many such bangers from the Scottish dance duo, who will hopefully be keeping us on our feet for years to come. —Chris

Lowertown

LOCATION: Atlanta, GA
You can hear the love of indie-pop visionaries like Phil Elverum and Alex G in I Love To Lie, the latest album from young Atlanta musicians Olivia Osby and Avshalom Weinberg. But Lowertown’s music is a lot twitchier and more uptempo than those comparisons imply, and their album is rawer than you’d expect from labelmates of slick talents like beabadoobee and the 1975. It’s a blast of odd but appealing scrappy eccentricity, coursing with anxiety even as it exudes promise. —Chris

[Photo by Savanna Hughes.]

LOCATION: Oakland, CA
“I’ve been hiding,” Maria BC intones on “Betelgeuse,” a standout from their debut album Hyaline. Like many who turn to ambient music to express their chaotic jumbled internal monologue, Maria BC’s music is preternaturally calm. They sing, sparingly, about being an outsider — “All the nice people/ So nice in their loving/ all know what to believe/ Like it’s nothing” — and they reflect that isolation in songs that are haunting and alluring, ones whose acoustic guitar tendrils and synthesizers blossom around their classically trained voice. Hyaline is stunning, exhibiting a clarity of focus that sounds tentative but feels purposeful. —James

[Photo by Ulysses Ortega.]

Mess Esque

LOCATION: Australia
During the pandemic Brisbane’s Helen Franzmann, who makes avant-pop music as McKisco, joined forces with Melbourne’s Mick Turner, who plays alongside Warren Ellis and Jim White in the Dirty Three and has his own music that stretches back decades. As Mess Esque, they make intricately-arranged, intimate folk music that sounds slightly askew. “Armour Your Amor” and “Liminal Space,” their pair of new singles from this year, build on the gently sweeping atmospherics of their previous pair of EPs, deepening a world that feels both lived-in and slightly alien, one that’s both beautiful and unsettling. —James

LOCATION: Hattiesburg, MS
Much like the art you might make with the software program they’re cheekily named after, MSPAINT’s music is scrawling and colorful. The band’s 2020 debut tape was great — “Hardwired” sounds like if Death Grips and Turnstile had a nasty little baby, and the lurching “Post-American” makes my skin crawl — but they really roar into existence on “Acid,” the lead single from their forthcoming debut, which sounds like a chaotic, unmissable fusion of dance-punk and hardcore. It feels vital and alive and spills over with furious, effervescent sounds. —James

[Photo by Libby Zanders.]

Naima Bock

LOCATION: London, UK
Naima Bock’s trippy take on folk music does a great job of showing — not telling — that Bock is a citizen of the world. Born to Brazilian and Greek parents in Glastonbury, Bock grew up in both the UK and in Brazil, and both cultures absolutely inform her eclectic compositions. A former member of London post-punk act Goat Girl, Bock infuses her exploratory folk music with Brazilian bossa nova, smooth jazz, and flute-flecked, Vashti Bunyan-esque acoustic strums. This year’s debut LP, Giant Palm, weaves her global influences together in an intricate tapestry of meditative, shape-shifting sound. You’ll want to renew your passport. —Rachel

[Photo by El Hardwick.]

Pool Kids

LOCATION: Tallahassee, FL
With their self-titled sophomore album, Pool Kids leveled up in every conceivable way from their 2018 debut Music To Practice Safe Sex To. The melodies are gleaming, the arrangements are massive, the ambition is palpable. Their “try-anything-once” ethos resulted in an album that is wry and dramatic, vulnerable and invincible in equal measure. Christine Goodwyne delivers every impassioned line with a confidence that translates to the rest of the band, which elevates the math-emo trappings of its debut into something truly special and unique. —James

[Photo by Mimi Hong.]

Rachika Nayar

LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY
Although Rachika Nayar technically is an ambient composer, an album title like Heaven Come Crashing tips her hand. Nayar’s music can be as bold and aggressive as it is contemplative and vibey, veering from ethereal zone-out fare to club-crushing beats and back with a seamless grace. Occasionally Maria BC’s vocals emerge to ride the waves of sweeping beauty, as on the title track, but by that point Nayar has already established her own masterful voice without speaking a word. —Chris

[Photo by Yulissa Benitez.]

Rat Tally

LOCATION: Chicago, IL
Diaristic singer-songwriter Addy Harris, who performs as Rat Tally and has lived in Denver, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles, takes noticeable cues from like-minded indie-rockers a few years ahead: Julien Baker, Soccer Mommy, Snail Mail. On her lived-in 2022 debut In My Car, which features a guest spot from Jay Som, Harris offers ultra-honest streams of consciousness accompanied by mid-tempo drums, ’90s guitars, and the occasional banjo. What really sets Harris apart, however, is her piercing vocals and restless lyrics that tend to touch upon the many cities she’s inhabited and how they’ve affected her sense of self. Coming of age never sounded so poignant. —Rachel

[Photo by Chris Strong.]

Ripped To Shreds

LOCATION: San Jose, CA
Growing up Chinese in America, Andrew Lee had a lot to be angry about. He funneled that feeling — and an exuberant love for death metal — into Ripped To Shreds, a former solo project that has expanded into a proper band. Their behemoth new album 劇變 (Jubian) is both incendiary and strangely accessible, the kind of record that will please genre zealots and newcomers alike. In terms of technical virtuosity, thematic resonance, and sheer hulking force, it marks them as one of the most exciting bands in metal. —Chris

[Photo by Greg Goudey.]

LOCATION: Melbourne, Australia
We haven’t heard much from Sheer Mag since the dawn of the 2020s, so Romero’s arrival was timely. The band’s raucous garage-pop is its own beast, of course, but it’s expertly meeting the eternal demand for boldly catchy riff-slinging party music. The title of debut album Turn It On! works as the first in a series of instructions for best experiencing this stuff — followed, inevitably, by “crank it up” and “rock the fuck out.” —Chris

[Photo by Izzie Austin.]

RXK Nephew

LOCATION: Rochester, NY
Don’t even try to understand RXK Nephew. The deeply deranged rapper posts a new song on YouTube pretty much every day – sometimes more than once. The man exists in a state of constant flow, his creative impulses always firing in every direction. He’s liable to go off on a long conspiracy-theory tear or to relentlessly clown the beat that he’s rapping on. It’s the kind of uncontainable energy that could only live on the internet. All you can do is strap in and take the ride. —Tom

[Photo by @forgoodness5ake.]

Saucy Santana

LOCATION: Miami, FL
Quick with a comeback, exploding with sass, unapologetic in his femme presentation: the descriptors are endless for rising Florida It Gwooorlll rapper Saucy Santana. Starting out as a makeup artist in Miami (he once worked for local duo City Girls), Santana — real name Rashad Spain — has snatched the internet’s attention with an attitude-packed flow and a penchant for rolling out irresistible rap-pop bops. Even Madonna has taken notice; in August, the Queen Of Pop teamed up with Santana for a remix of his 2020 TikTok smash “Material Girl.” It’s clear Santana aims high — this year’s “Booty” featuring Latto prominently samples Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love” and throws in a “Bootylicious” reference to, uh, boot. What else can I say? A star is born. —Rachel

[Photo by Blair Caldwell.]

LOCATION: Santa Cruz, CA
When surging hardcore rippers Scowl played LA’s vast Sound And Fury Festival this past summer, they opened their set with a cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room” — an instantly-legendary flag-planting moment that let everyone in earshot know that they meant business. Scowl’s version of hardcore punk is fast and fierce and straightforward, but it still makes room for moments of sudden, dizzying melody, and leader Kat Moss carries herself like an absolute star even when the band is playing, say, a Sonic Drive-In in New Jersey. How many other bands have shared stages with Gulch and Limp Bizkit within a couple of months of each other? —Tom

[Photo by Magdalena Wosinska.]

They Are Gutting A Body Of Water

LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA
They Are Gutting A Body Of Water join a lineage of recent-vintage Philly oddballs, most notably Alex G and the Spirit Of The Beehive, by constantly pushing and prodding at what a rock song can be. Their songs bleed together, take indiscriminate shapes: One minute they’re sludgy and mangled, the next glassy and cutting. But it’s all heady and visceral and sounds like a pleasure to lose yourself in. Buried underneath their muck is a clear appreciation for both the history of rock music and the desire to fuck with what you might expect from it, a trollish sincerity that is constantly confounding but never not thrilling. —James

[Photo by Jackson Arteaga.]

Trapland Pat

LOCATION: Deerfield Beach, FL
South Florida has no shortage of crazy-eyed young rappers with wild hair situations and near-impenetrable drawls, but Trapland Pat still stands out from the rest. The rising star has an outsized charisma and a flair for theatrical imagery, and that would be enough to set him apart. More importantly, though, he knows how to put a song together. He’s not out to transcend trap music; he’s just here to do trap music about as well as it can be done, bringing a vivid and lively bounce that harkens back to the genre’s origins. —Tom

[Photo by @ShotbyJolo.]

LOCATION: Rochester, NY
In recent years, possibly as a result of mass demonic possession, there’s been a recent wave of interest in old-school death metal and a whole lot of new bands taking that sound and running with it: Gatecreeper, Creeping Death, Frozen Soul, 200 Stab Wounds. Undeath don’t look like orc monsters, but even in a scene full of thundering insanity, they set themselves apart on the guttural brutality front. On their sophomore album It’s Time … To Rise From The Grave, Undeath pummel so relentlessly that their music boomerangs back around and becomes somehow catchy. —Tom

[Photo by Errick Easterday.]

Why Bonnie

LOCATION: Austin, TX
New York-via-Texas outfit Why Bonnie spent a few years building up to their first full-length, 90 In November, releasing EP after EP since their initial formation in 2018. The buildup was worth it, though: Leader Blair Howerton imbues 90 In November with as much warmth as its title suggests, channeling her rural upbringing while sitting in a Brooklyn walk-up during the worst of the pandemic. Sonically, Why Bonnie excel at cozy/fuzzy guitar tones — the sort made popular by Lucy Dacus and fellow lover of wide-open spaces Waxahatchee. If anything, Why Bonnie prove you can take the band out of Texas, but you can (and should) never take the Texas out of the band. —Rachel

[Photo by Grace Pendleton.]

Zoh Amba

LOCATION: Kingsport, TN
The 22-year-old saxophonist Zoh Amba’s passion for free jazz is entwined with her practice of the Hindu spiritual discipline Advaita Vedanta. As heard on records like An Unlikely Place, her new two-song release with Steve Hirsch and Luke Stewart, Amba’s music is a chaotic spiritual exploration, a path to enlightenment strewn with skronking wails. “The music is God; God is the music,” she recently told the New York Times — a philosophy that, although old as time, has made her one of the brightest new stars in avant-garde jazz. —Chris

LOCATION: Minneapolis, MN
Zora Grey turned to electronic production after being rejected from a vocal jazz program in high school, and let’s be thankful for that. Z1, her first-full length statement, sounds resourceful: gloriously scrappy and occasionally sloppy in an endearing way. It has room for a little bit of everything — scraping intensity on “HAPPIEST I’VE EVER BEEN,” gloomy operatic dramatics on “ALONE…,” snotty brashness on “RUNNITUP” — and throughout it all Zora maintains her composure, or at least sounds artfully assured while she’s breaking down. It presents Zora as a singular talent, one who is managing to find a way to use that voice in endlessly fascinating ways. —James

[Photo by William Hawk.]

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