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The Absolute 100 (2009)

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    The Absolute 100 is an annual collection of our favorite lesser-known bands. Our point with this feature (as it was in 2007 and 2008) is that there’s still hope. The future of music can be bright, you just gotta find the right blurbs to screw in. Some of the bands on this list are signed and some are already on their way to selling out tours. Some are barely even on their parents’ radars. Throw cred out the window; we don’t care if you’ve heard any of these acts before. We want EVERYONE in on these secrets.

    We are an unique crew of diligent workers – not all our playlists are carbon copies. Our goal, as it always has been, is to deliver a constant stream of information about music that motivates and inspires. Consider this a promise: there is at least one band on this list that you will enjoy. And if you don’t, then let’s hope it’s because you already love one of them enough. – Julia Conny

    Air France – Gothenberg, Sweden Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Oh snap, y’all: Swedish electro pop. Let’s just say that this Gothenberg duo don’t exactly expect you to drop E (is that the right phrase?) and hook up to this. It’s music that’s a bit more orchestral, a bit slow and full of delightful little nooks and crannies. Last year’s No Way Down continued the spell brought about by 2006’s On Trade Winds, and a recently released song shows that the band’s next output should be just as pleasure-inducing.
    RIYL: The Tough Alliance, Telefon Tel Aviv, Loney, Dear

    American Fangs - Houston, TX Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: The sway and swagger of a vocalist whose kicked back a few whiskeys, and then the sway and swagger of a whole band who is doing the same, American Fangs are immediately captivating because, at the very least, you want to party with them. They’re sort of like what would happen if Every Time I Die tried to not be as brutal. Or if Letters Kills came back and grew up. Besides a hangover, American Fangs is nursing a self-titled EP and the single “Le Kick”.
    RIYL: Every Time I Die, Letter Kills, Emanuel

    An Horse - Brisbane, Australia Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: An Horse is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Kate Cooper and drummer/vocalist Damon Cox. The band’s debut album Rearrange Beds is full of indie-pop anthems and exudes a charm that is bound to draw in countless new fans. The vocal harmonies of Cooper and Cox compliment each other perfectly and fans of 90’s indie and alternative will find much to love in the music that makes up Rearrange Beds’ ten tracks. Having appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, having their song “Postcards” used in a Mercedes commercial, and touring with Death Cab For Cutie and their good friends Tegan and Sara, An Horse are having a great year and will undoubtedly find themselves on a few “end of year” lists.
    RIYL: Tegan and Sara, The Jealous Sound, Iron On

    The Big Pink – Brooklyn, NY Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: The Big Pink are a London duo who make brooding electro-rock in the wall-of-sound influenced way that post-My Bloody Valentine bands have perfected over the years, except Big Pink have an ear for the pop sensibilities to make it a bit more radio-friendly than some of their eclectic predecessors.
    RIYL: My Bloody Valentine, Nine Inch Nails

    Brighter Shades
    – Baltimore, MD Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: We all have a soft-spot for pop-rock craftsmanship, don’t we? Brighter Shades would like to think so, as they offer hooks by the handful, and lush, sunny instrumentation to boot (horns, glorious horns). It’s still summer after all, so succumb to a little sweet-sounding, carefully constructed melodia. Trust me, the brass makes all the difference. Full EP Download.
    RIYL: Limbeck, The Format, Forgive Durden

    Broadway – Orlando, FL Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: After building a fan base with intense local shows, constant interaction, and the support of their local scene, Orlando quintet Broadway is finally making some waves. Blending the intensity of A Day To Remember with a bit of Dance Gavin Dance while channeling the melody of Chiodos, Broadway’s debut album, Kingdoms, has a little something for all fans of this genre. Whether it’s the huge breakdowns featured in “Don’t Jump The Shark Before You Save The Whale” and “We Are Paramount,” or instilling some Southern sleaze into the aptly titled, “You Gotta Love That Southern Charm,” fans will be moshin’ along no matter what.
    RIYL: Chiodos, Dance Gavin Dance, A Day To Remember

    Care Bears on FireBrooklyn, NY Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like:
    This all-girl Brooklyn trio has elements of pop/punk, 90s grunge and garage elements. At present, the oldest member of the band is bassist Jena, who is 15. The group formed in 2005 when all three girls were in fifth-grade. To date the trio has performed at SXSW, and were featured at this year’s Bamboozle. Their second full-length album, Get Over It, features songs written by Fountain of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger and We The Kings’ Travis Clark.
    RIYL: The Veronicas, The Subways, Kelly Osbourne

    CoCo B’s – Fullerton/Long Beach, CA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: It is astonishing that this Fullerton, California quartet are not on every publication’s radar as they ready their second full-length album. The band writes intelligent indie pop songs that are extremely memorable. The band has just enough edge to their music to appeal to the indie scene and the catchy pop melodies to appeal to a mainstream audience. If the CoCo B’s are able to further hone their brand of fuzzy indie-pop, it is only a matter of time before more people catch on to how great their songs are.
    RIYL: The Replacements, The Lemonheads, Nada Surf

    FACT – Japan Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: They’re Japanese, their English is not the best, and they wear masks. That’s enough for anyone to write them off as not interested, but pay attention to these guys. Their self-titled Vagrant release came out of nowhere in 2009 and absolutely obliterates any preconceived notions someone could have of them. Some of the coolest guitar riffs you will hear all year combined with frenetic drumming and unrealistically fast vocals in some parts, soft melodies and sweeping choruses elsewhere… this band is everything you want from rock music.
    RIYL: Japanese Metallica x The Fall of Troy

    Followed By Ghosts – Cedar Falls, IA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Instrumental rock is a well-read woman, and although I will never understand her, I still want to see her naked hour after hour after tantalizing hour. Followed By Ghost’s crescendo-heavy, long-form manifestations are no different, and they tease me like they’ve been doing this whole you-want-me-but-i-don’t-want-you thing for decades. Each note of Dear Monsters, Be Patient or The Entire City Was Silent unfolds with the sheerness of a nude stocking. And each time they move through songs using strings or subdued electronics, I lick my lips a little more forcefully. Wait. I’m sorry. What were we talking about?
    RIYL: Foxhole, The Ascent of Everest, Explosions in the Sky

    Grammatics – Leeds, England Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: There’s a good bit of literature out there about Grammatics. Reading most of it will lead you to believe that the band is another mind-numbingly large collective, solely relying on numbers to be “different”. But there’s only four people in Grammatics. And they are British. Leave it to King George’s nephews (and niece!) to take what Anathallo do to the next level. The band makes pop, but they balance the intelligence and accessibility with a delicate hand. Haunting numbers like “D.I.L.E.M.M.A” marry perfectly with upbeat fair like “Polar Swelling”, so even though there are fewer cooks in the kitchen, there’s more than enough deliciousness to be had.
    RIYL: Anathallo, Deas Vail, The Narrative wearing black

    Half Hearted Hero – New Bedford, MA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Pop-punk doesn’t always have to be so cut-and-dry. With a little determination, some rock steady grooves and a talented cast, one can assemble a band that takes what’s best of classic scene staples and blend it with some interesting instrumentation. Half Hearted Hero does just that, blending well-worn formula with splashes of grandeur. Extended lengths and sizable build-ups lead to a devastatingly well-crafted debut that is sure to exposes new generations to a future classic. A dab of Valencia, a smidgeon of Slick Shoes and a touch of Student Rick make Half Hearted Hero a band to keep an ear on.
    RIYL: Slick Shoes, New Found Glory, Student Rick

    The Injured List – Adrian, MI Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: These Ann Arbor, Michigan, area boys are causing quite a stir. They gave away their debut There’s Always Next Year free through, which made it a big hit with many of the members. These guys are like a nice tall glass of lemonade on a hot day; refreshing and crisp. The lyrics have a personal touch that make them easy to relate to. Clear, distinct vocals make it easy to understand, yet, still, the instruments bring the power behind it, without it, well, being overpowering. These guys have found a very special place amongst our little community and we hope they stick around. Why don’t you help them out and give them a listen.
    RIYL: Butch Walker, The Dangerous Summer, Death in the Park

    The Jakes – Newport Beach, CA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Bands like The Jakes saved my life. And by saved my life, I mean I was drowning in a sea of neon and glitter before they grabbed my hand and swooped me up from the engulfing superficiality. A Californian pop-rock band that keeps their melodies tight and atmospheres even tighter, this band have a fresh, curious take to their hooks and choruses. Sometimes acoustic, sometimes jammy and wailing with their guitars, and always easy to chime along with, The Jakes are a shiny pebble of happy rock tunes. Their EP Shake My Hand is available for free download on myspace.
    RIYL: Brave Citizens, Acceptance, Mute Math

    Me Verse You – St. Louis, MO Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: There’s an air of confidence that surrounds you when you begin to listen to Me Verse You. It may have a lot to do with the strong, pop-filled, energetic verse that begins the chorus of the song “Radio”: “the next time you hear from me might be on the radio”. They are giving you a chance to be one of those “knew them before…” fans. The bandwagon is now boarding and we’d love for you to join us.
    RIYL: So They Say, The Audio, Story of the Year

    The Motel Life – Ontario, CA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Potential can go a long way when you’re a young band, and for this Ontario quartet, shaking those small-town blues for bigger and brighter things is just upon the horizon. Raw, fearless and honest, The Motel Life have an appetite for being under the influence of alternative-emo legends all while making their own distinct brand of intelligent pop-rock.
    RIYL: The Get Up Kids, The Promise Ring, As Tall As Lions

    Nathan Moore – Staunton, VA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: His eight-song disc Folk Singer, released on Aug. 18, is a tame, sparse collection of Moore on acoustic guitar, vocals and harmonica, recorded at his home in the Shenandoah Valley. His songs are timeless and poignant, charismatic and creative. Though he’s been in the music business for more than a decade, Folk Singer is the album that will take him places.
    RIYL: Sam Beam, Conor Oberst, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan

    The Only Sons – Murfreesboro, TN Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Murfreesboro, Tennessee’s The Only Sons’ latest album, Steel Hearts, is a must-have album for any fan of alt-country music. The thing that makes Steel Hearts such a special album is its relative simplicity. In an age where autotune is used left in right, The Only Sons brand of no-frills alt-country is a breath of fresh air. The album is filled with raspy vocals, excellent musicianship, simple yet emotionally engaging lyrics, and almost never loses the momentum built by the opening tracks “ Lay Back Down” and “Wise Up”.
    RIYL: Lucero, Drag The River, Two Cow Garage

    Passion Pit – Cambridge, MA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Massachusetts’ very own Passion Pit may very well be 2009’s breakout band with their debut album, Manners. It features some of the best synth-pop songs you’ll hear all year. Scratch that, it features some of the best songs you’ll hear in 2009. Mannersis a keyboard bonanza. Feel-good track of the year, “Little Secrets,” is like a flashback to the 80s, with a little disco thrown in. The synth is thick, and the keys lightly needle in and out. The track is so upbeat, even people with the darkest of souls will tap their toes. Manners is one of this summer’s best jams. And in such bleak times, it’s always nice to turn to something that will immediately pick you up.
    RIYL: MGMT, Phoenix, Friendly Fires

    Restorations – Philadelphia, PA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Restorations is the new project of Jon Loudon and Dave Klyman of Philadelphia post-hardcore outfit Jena Berlin and their friends Mike Drelling, Ben Pierce, and Carlin Brown. Restorations blend the gruff vocal stylings of Loudon and Klyman with a much more melodic sound that draws equally from indie rock and shoegaze. Restorations have a busy year ahead as they have a two song 45 coming out soon on Evil Weevil Records and a four song 10” finished and awaiting release. The band is also finishing songs for three splits and writing for an EP or full-length in 2010.
    RIYL: Built To Spill, Constantines, Lucero

    Salem – Traverse City, MI Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: It’s very hard to really write a proper blurb for Salem – it’s music that likely none of you readers has ever heard anything even close to. Most of you will scratch your heads, say “WTF” and write this off as “hipster bullshit,” but those of you who enjoy experimental music can really give this a proper try. It sounds a bit like Cocteau Twins, if they had taken a fistful of opiates and a gallon of cough syrup. Also of note: this is NOT the same band that used to be on Fiddler Records, this is another band. They are not in the world at all so likely they have no idea the other band ever existed.
    RIYL: Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, chopped-and-screwed Hotlanta hip-hop

    The Soldier Thread – Austin, TX Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: It feels a bit redundant adding The Soldier Thread to this list of up-and-coming artists. Many of the Absolute 100 picks are made based on the promise of further maturity, but as of this moment The Soldier Thread sound ready to rule the world with their haunting ambiance. There’s an engrossing density to their sound that is made all the more special by the addition of lead singer Patricia Lynn and her viola. Often a band that falls under the “ambient” headline will better serve listeners as background music (for studying, relaxing, what have you), but The Soldier Thread don’t make the kind of music that is secondary to anything.
    RIYL: Death Cab for Cutie, Eisley, Copeland, The Narrative

    The Tall Pines – Brooklyn, NY Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Led by chanteuse Connie Lynn Petruk, a honey-throated alto with tons of presence, the Manhattan-based band The Tall Pines released their debut record in 2007. The self-titled record was hailed by NPR as one of the Top 10 Best CD’s of the year. To date, Petruk has worked with Moby and David Bowie to name a few, and in the words of many, “is a star waiting to be born.” Guitarist Christmas Davis describes the band’s music as a “collection of Flannery O’Connor stories.”
    RIYL: Fleetwood Mac, Over the Rhine, Cowboy Junkies, Lydia

    Transit – Boston, MA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: At a certain point, bands become too “worn” for a list like this. For all intents and purposes, Transit should be one of those bands. After two successful EP’s (one being this year’s excellent Stay Home) and one rocking full-length, the Massachusetts pop-punkers are hardly new at this. But to many they are still woefully underground. It doesn’t make any sense: their melodic pop-punk becomes just heavy enough to sate any palette (if you have tattoos, of course!). Hopefully this is the little nudge they need.
    RIYL: Set Your Goals, Crime in Stereo, Ambitions

    We Were Promised Jetpacks - Glasgow, Scotland Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: What else need be said? WE WERE PROMISED JETPACKS! Fine I’ll try harder: my editor is breathing down my back and he says all-caps words don’t actually increase word count. This Scottish band is like an especially excited Frightened Rabbit who spent its formative years listening to NY punk instead of On The Beach-era Neil Young. Songs run the spectrum from jittery post-punk (“It’s Thunder And It’s Lightning”) to thoughtful mood alterers (“An Almighty Thud”). Apparently “alterer” isn’t a word, so I’ll just stop there.
    RIYL: Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad, The Futureheads

    All The Day Holiday – Cincinnati, OH Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: A swirling, calculated four-piece from Cincinnati, OH, All The Day Holiday are new darlings. The band has cited their fairly large heads-up to The Big Man upstairs, but their music speaks volumes to anyone who can appreciate a sweet indie rock aura and introspective lyricism. The Things We’ve Grown To Love is the band’s new full-length (producer: Matt Malpass), and throughout its every inch, there are shiny pieces of soaring, sprinkling and delayed guitar or a vocal bit that will make you step back and think about how awesome life is.
    RIYL: Death Cab For Cutie, Lydia, Deas Vail, The Graduate

    Anchor & Braille – Winter Haven, FL Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: If you ask a group of people on about their heroes in the scene, odds are the majority would cite either Anberlin’s Stephen Christian or Copeland’s Aaron Marsh. As a result, it should come as little surprise that a collaboration between the two would be a timeless collection of beautiful tunes. With Christian toiling over the tracks on Felt for almost a decade, and Marsh adding his production wizardry, Anchor & Braille’s album belongs in any music-lover’s collection.
    RIYL: Copeland, Anberlin, Sleeping at Last, Lydia

    Anjulie - Toronto, Canada Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Already picked by MTV as an artist to watch, Anjulie is a Toronto-based pop presence with melodic gifts, vocal prowess and sophistication that mark her as a true cut above. Her forthcoming debut album was co-written with producer and collaborator Jon Levine (of Canadian R&B hit makers the Philosopher Kings), and contains ten songs about heartbreak, obsession and passion, with an impressive blend of pop, hip-hop, rock and world beats.
    RIYL: Estelle, Duffy, Ms. Dynamite

    Brian Bond – New Brunswick, NJ Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: While New Brunswick, New Jersey may be known for their output of punk and hardcore bands, the next big thing from New Brunswick may very well be singer-songwriter Brian Bond. Bond spent two years working on his third full-length Fire & Gold and recorded and mixed the record himself in his studio. Fire & Gold is a stunningly beautiful record that is full of lush compositions and Bond displays the ability to play mellow songs that tug at your heartstrings and upbeat songs that get you humming along. Bond has an undeniable talent and it is only a matter of time before the mainstream catches on.
    RIYL: Matt Pond PA, Denison Witmer, Sufjan Stevens

    Cast Spells – Chicago, IL Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Maps & Atlases are OK. The swift tempos and insane fingerplay of their math rock at least awes with precision and technicality. But it’s not summer afternoon music. Dave Davison, the group’s main force, decided he had some more “accessible” music in him. But don’t take that as me degrading him. (Well, obviously I’m not, Cast Spells made this list!) Cast Spells are what he came up with, and Bright Works and Baton is a lovely pop record with the perfect mix of oddball creativity and singalong melodies. It’s the perfect aural spot between crazy and crazy good. If Sargent House are as superhuman as I perceive them to be, Cast Spells will be everywhere come 2010.
    RIYL: Maps & Atlases, Koufax, Fig

    The Damnwells – Brooklyn, NY Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: With modern music becoming ever-complicated, obfuscated under layers of autotune, synth, and other studio gimmickry, we should all be glad musicians like Alex Dezen exist. Dezen, and the rest of The Damnwells collective, understands that stripped-down, raw Americana with a strong undertow of pop appeal can have a pure allure that more clouded compositions just can’t match. They are giving away their latest album, One Last Century, so you have nothing to lose in checking them out.
    RIYL: The Gin Blossoms, Goo Goo Dolls, Tom Petty, The Wallflowers

    Dananananaykroyd – Glasgow, Scotland Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Dananananaykroyd possesses a unique moniker and makes music to match. Their mathy post-punk is sometimes furiously cathartic (“Watch This!” and “Pink Sabbath”), sometimes fun and (gasp!) poppy (the single “Black Wax”), but when it’s bursting forth from your speakers, it’s always an adrenaline rush. The fiery, schizophrenic songs make Dananananaykroyd likable to a train that almost comes flying off the tracks, but the tight, technical rhythms keep everything in line, the end result leaving you perhaps a bit mind-fucked, but definitely exhilarated.
    RIYL: Los Campesinos!, Johnny Foreigner, Gang of Four, We Versus the Shark, Turbo Fruits

    DNA – Los Angeles, CA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: The members of DNA have been around the block in different projects for years, but this band is a fresh step. Gentle pop, electronics and fun guitars wailing at will’s end, this LA band has the combination right for light and genuine. Their album, Passenger, has been two years in the making, and they’ve spent the summer touring off the sweat and hard work.
    RIYL: Rookie of the Year, Jamestown Story, Holiday Parade, The Morning Light

    Fighting With Wire – Derry, Northern Ireland Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: You’d expect a band from Northern Ireland to play some sort of Britpop, art punk or hipster indie, but Fighting With Wire fly in the face of that stereotype, making music that sounds very much “American”. Displaying shades of Foo Fighters’ post-grunge (including a singer that even sounds like Dave Grohl), Rival Schools’ mix of melody and aggression, and a dash of Jawbox’s discord, Fighting With Wire’s debut Man vs. Monster is a furious, but accessible, record that should appeal to mainstream audiences as well as fans of the ’90s underground.
    RIYL: Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro, Rival Schools, Girls Against Boys, Jawbox

    Frank Turner – London, England Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Just this year, Epitaph scooped up Frank Turner, former frontman of punk band Million Dead. An English folky punk man with powerful, acoustic thumpers, soaring, clever choruses, sophistication and a knack for making you believe; he’s already two full lengths and two EP’s into his solo career, but there’s another loaf in the oven for 2009: Poetry of the Deed. And hey, I bet you it’ll be really good!
    RIYL: Butch Walker, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Chuck Ragan, Tom Gabel

    fun. – New York, NY Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: We all adored Nate Ruess’ former band, The Format, so it only makes sense that we’ve fallen head over heels for his new band, fun. But fun. is not The Format Pt. II, as debut album, Aim & Ignite, is truly a beautiful adventure for your ears. It maintains the same kind of pop sensibilities that The Format possessed, but fun. delves deeper. It’s eclectic, as it change tempos and vibes consistently, whether it’s busting out the horns (a Format favorite) or diving into Beach Boys-influenced pop. While Ruess maintains his signature biting lyric style, he also appears to be happier than ever. Standouts include the vibrant “Be Calm”, the beach-flavored “Walking The Dog”, and the beautiful ballad “The Gambler”.
    RIYL: The Format, Beach Boys, quality pop music

    Harlem Shakes – Brooklyn, NY Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: A band like Harlem Shakes might be indigestible for much of’s readership. It’s not because the band’s carnival-esque pop music is “abstract” or anything like that, though. Rather, it’s the band’s seemingly unending amounts of optimism that might turn our depressed masses away. Songs like “Strictly Game” or “Sunlight” pack singer/yelper Lexy Benaim’s youthful joy inside an upbeat guitar rock shell, while additions of piano and other whack-o instruments only add to the fun. Just think about it this way, eventually that girl/guy will fall prey to your pathetic advances. When that happens, say hello to Harlem Shakes.
    RIYL: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, the blogosphere, Vampire Weekend

    Heartsounds – San Francisco, California Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Quick drum beats, fast guitar strumming, high energy, blaring hooks — yup this sounds like punk rock. Heartsounds (catchy name, right?) already have a few admirers here at, and it’s time to expand their audience. Ben Murray and Laura Nichol, the dynamic duo who form Heartsounds, remind us why we fell in love with the punk rock genre all those years ago. Buy their new album Until We Surrender and immediately burn a copy for your car CD player. You’ll want to sing along with this one.
    RIYL: The Swellers, The Loved Ones, How Water Music

    The Hundred In The Hands – Brooklyn, NY Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: While their first single “Dressed In Dresden” was a fine example of modern post-punk with a feminine edge, their newest demos (yet to be released) really merge their post-punk beginnings with their newfound electro-pop leanings, transforming The Hundred In The Hands into one of America’s Great Electro-Pop Hopes. It’s time for America to finally breed some electro-pop acts to compete with the UK’s Hot Chip, Little Boots, Klaxons, etc, and our answer is THITH.
    RIYL: Hot Chip, Ladytron, The Faint

    Ivoryline – Tyler, TX Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Last year, Ivoryline released their criminally overlooked There Came A Lion. Mixing guitar elements that will make any Anberlin fan feel familiar with Jeremy Gray’s stellar vocals, the band crafted a stellar package of songs that have tremendous replayability and the right amount of charisma to catch on to modern rock radio. One listen to “We Both Know” is proof alone of what these guys are capable of and the reason why you should have checked them out by now. If not, give it a shot now; this band is well worth your time.
    RIYL: Anberlin x The Graduate

    Kinch – Phoenix, AZ Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Plodding pianos and crunchy guitars are Kinch’s main steeze, but the vocals waft along at a forgiving, easy-pea pace, giving just enough to turn the plod and the crunch into something surprisingly gentle. Full-length, Advances, and their EP, The Economic Chastisement, are both available for free on the band’s website. Kinch will be touring with Dear and The Headlights this fall. Double whammy. Make no excuses.
    RIYL: Blur, Coldplay, Kaiser Chiefs, going to see Dear and the Headlights

    La Strada – New York, NY Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Pick up your accordion and strike up the band – La Strada are coming to town! Expect to see some history as the band waltzes into another time, one filled with gypsies, fiddles, and boundless optimism. It’s damn near impossible not to smile along to La Strada’s comfortable, jaunty folk tunes, so don’t even bother trying.
    RIYL: The Decemberists, Dark Dark Dark, Neutral Milk Hotel

    The Menzingers – Scranton, PA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: If you aren’t up for discovering punk rock’s newest assault, then why don’t you simply find a stray cat, shove it into a burlap sack and proceed to shake it around for a minute before sticking your head inside. That’s sort of what The Menzingers sound like: an angry catfight in a bag (minus all the loud screeching and hisses). Like most of the other Philadelphia-area punk acts, The Menzingers aren’t afraid to let you know exactly how they feel and present it with style & pizazz, all in a quick and deadly manner. Blending the fast-paced brutality of Lifetime, the sharp wit of Against Me! and the humor of The Lawrence Arms, consider The Menzingers to be your next big punk rock saviors.
    RIYL: The Lawrence Arms, Against Me!, Lifetime

    Miniature Tigers – Phoenix, AZ Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Miniature Tigers sound like the nerdy offspring of The Flaming Lips’s whimsical space-rock and Weezer’s geek-chic sensibilities. Their melodies are infectious, their lyrics are clever, and their record has amazing staying power. Tell It to the Volcano is a damn near perfect instant classic from this band on the rise.
    RIYL: The Flaming Lips, Weezer, Vampire Weekend

    My Heart to Joy – Kensington, CT Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Who doesn’t have a soft spot for ’90s-throwback, mathrock-textured emo, complete with earnest, sad-bastard vocals that range from wide-eyed bleats to visceral screams? Okay, neither of you will care much for My Heart to Joy, but your loss is everyone else’s gain. Their recently-released debut Seasons in Verse is a half-hour of powerful and gripping music that ripples with intensity, but somehow comes off as more comforting than menacing.
    RIYL: Lock and Key, Braid, Small Brown Bike, Compound Red, Planes Mistaken for Stars

    The Narrative – Brooklyn, New York Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: When your unsigned band receives the coveted Henderson seal of approval, you know you’ve got something special. The Narrative are the kind of raw, young talent that makes lesser bands envious. The charming duel vocals of Jesse Gabriel and Suzie Zeldin on Just Say Yes are some of the best you’ll ever find on an introductory EP, and the music is alluring in its own right. Stream the EP on the band’s profile and fall in love.
    RIYL: Lydia, Death Cab for Cutie, Destry

    The Republic of Wolves – Long Island, NY Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Not a lot is known about Brand New Jr., er, The Republic of Wolves. The band found themselves in the middle of controversy as a song of theirs hit Youtube labeled as an unreleased Brand New song. And I can see why. Their dark sounds, slowly but forcefully delivered vocals and aggressively smart lyrics certainly recall Mr. Lacey’s players. But at the same time, the rawness of their demos and the desperation in their screams, especially on “Spill”, point to a long and mysterious lifespan for these guys. Whether they ever shed Brand New’s shadow remains to be seen, but the complexity of these songs seem to say, “Hell yes.”
    RIYL: Brand New, Tigers on Trains, mewithoutYou

    The Sound Archives – Fullerton, CA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: The few of us who knew about In Memory were truly bummed when they disbanded. But weep no more, for the Daryl Palumbo-channeling vocal stylings of Marco Lira are back on display in an even more exciting project. The Sound Archives churn out noisy, technical alternative rock that is at once chaotic and quite accessible. Get your Robert Langdon on, and scour these archives.
    RIYL: Glassjaw, Incubus, In Memory

    The Static Jacks - Westfield, NJ Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: There are few things more refreshing than a young band who sound wise beyond their years. The Static Jacks’ effortless combination of sandpaper vocals and a raw-sounding indie-rock delivery give them the tried and true essence of an established veteran, despite the fact that four out of the five members are only 19 years old. 19 YEARS OLD?! Sheesh. Let’s just say the music I was making at age 19 (with an acoustic guitar while sitting on the toilet) wasn’t exactly Absolute 100 caliber. Cheers to these guys for getting an early start on what looks to be an inspired future.
    RIYL: White Rabbits, Arctic Monkeys, Interpol

    The Temper Trap – Melbourne, Australia Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: You already know their brilliant track, “Sweet Disposition”, as the musical anchor of (500) Days of Summer, but that is only one reason to take note of these Aussies. This troupe constructs tunes smart enough to appeal to the most discerning Brit-pop fans, but catchy enough to reel in every single person that nabbed a copy of the Garden State soundtrack. Keep an eye out for their spacy, progressive pop to take over the US and the world before too long.
    RIYL: Doves, Elbow, Phoenix, Codeseven

    Amely – Orlando, FL Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Hey look, we’re not all made of rock and steel. There is a small fraction of our gorgeous structures that can’t deny the sweet sweet swoons of cute pop bands. So is the case with Amely, and that pretty much wraps it up. Bottled with tippy-toe choruses and hooks, and capped by potential for big studio shine, Amely is the kind of band that could do a little jiggy with All Time Low and make their mark. This band is finding their footing and singer Petie Pizarro is finding just how high his voice can go. Hey dudes, we’re watching you.
    RIYL: All Time Low, Boys Like Girls, Holiday Parade

    Apache Beat – Brooklyn, NY Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: With production from Martin Bisi (Sonic Youth) and a bassist formerly in legendary punkwave band The Homosexuals, the Brooklyn band Apache Beat is leading the next wave of avant-rock: rooted in krautrock, new wave and punkwave of the past but looking towards the future with an upcoming tour with Gossip as well as fashion spreads with a photogenic frontwoman like Ilirjana.
    RIYL: Sonic Youth, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Boy Crisis

    The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
    - Copenhagen, Denmark Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like:
    The Danish band’s song “Around the Bend,” was featured in an Apple iPod Touch commercial and primary songwriter Lars Iversen has admitted that the band uses small blips of samples to frame the structure for each of their songs. Lead single, “The Sun Ain’t Shining No More,” was one of 2008’s most overlooked singles. The band, discovered by Amy Winehouse, has been featured on Gossip Girl and toured with Katy Perry in Europe.
    RIYL: Chairlift, Saint Etienne, Pizzicato Five

    Brendan Rivera – Mamaroneck, NY Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: The frontman from previous Absolute 100 band Looking Glass Wars, Brendan Rivera is just too good at what he does to not find a way to sneak his way into this feature again. Now he’s doing his own thing, and he’s once again letting the concepts that rule his mind run wild in album format. The newest installment in his solo venture is Body of Land, a full-length that meshes together dark pop mega-structures with everything from hopping melodies, flighty electronics and saddles blazin’ with complex guitar work.
    RIYL: Brand New, Looking Glass Wars, Alkaline Trio, My Chemical Romance

    Cactus’s – Nashville, TN Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Thus far, Cactus’s’ only output has been last June’s Tropical Terror, but it displays a world of potential in its short fifteen-minute run time. They call their music “tropical thrash rock” and claim to be influenced by XTC, Pixies and Converge, and amazingly, it doesn’t come out sounding like a complete mess. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite, as their manic, aggressive approach is a breath of fresh air in a scene full of cliched, generic bands. With the right label backing, big things could happen for this band.
    RIYL: At the Drive-In, Pixies, Hot Hot Heat, Bear vs. Shark, The Dismemberment Plan

    – Dallas, TX Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Mixing murky moods and pained confessions in the vein of The Appleseed Cast and others, Castillan defines youthful potential. With an EP glinting with promise already under their belts, look for Castillan’s follow-up LP to be an ambient heavyweight. The Daisy EP’s epic closer, “When Daisy Tumbled Short of His Dreams,” may be the best song you’ve never heard.
    RIYL: The Appleseed Cast, Brand New, Death Cab for Cutie

    Dear Landlord - Carbondale, IL Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Made up of two members of The Copyrights and referencing both a Dead Kennedys & Bob Dylan song in their Myspace URL, it’s obvious right from the get-go that Dear Landlord isn’t a band you can predict the next move. Down-home sensibilities mixed with a bit of old-school spice and Dylan-like wisdom, Dear Landlord is sure to capture your attention if you missed out on Milo Goes to College ordorkrockcorkrod.
    RIYL: The Copyrights, Descendants, The Ergs, Off With Their Heads

    The Dialogue – Baltimore, MD Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: The Dialogue vocalist Drew Shaffer is a young Andrew McMahon. He’s got those puppy eyes for songs and lyrics that can make your heart beat a little faster. He’s got the voice too, but paired with his band and their occasionally folky, self-reflective indie pop melodies, The Dialogue is a sweet sweet mix. Their debut record, All I Thought Impossible, is working its way slowly out of Baltimore.
    RIYL: Andrew McMahon, Augustana, The Spill Canvas, The Graduate

    Down With Webster – Toronto, Canada Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Unless you’re from Toronto, you may be completely new to the Down With Webster name, but that’s no worry. They proved themselves on Warped Tour and new label, Universal Motown this year when they sparked new crowds better than the best of them. Perhaps it was the band’s shining personalities, but it probably has more to do with their funky collection of rock, jamming and hip-hop. This band is 1) fun and 2) deserve every success they wish upon.
    RIYL: Gym Class Heroes, Lucky Boys Confusion, Flobots

    East of the Wall – Gunnison Beach, NJ Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Instrumental rock that owes more to Rush and Metallica than it does those losers Explosions in the Sky sure does sound refreshing right about now, huh? East of the Wall may never fit into skinny jeans (munchies!) and they may never be big outside of the smelliest parts of the Northeast (and probably the scariest parts of Germany), but their mindbending opus Farmer’s Almanac is still an amazing feat of technicality. The bruising nature of songs like “Switchblade Knife” and “Clowning Achievement” always reach for a higher purpose than LOUD. It’s the band’s ability to offset this frightening force with delicate tempo shifts and agile fingerplay that will keep them around my lava lamp for at least a few more years.
    RIYL: Faraquet, Rush, Guitar Hero 666

    Empires – Chicago, IL Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: It’s over a year old and if you don’t have Empires’ Howl by now, you are a fool. A fool that’s in luck, because the band is giving the album away for free (they have been since its release). Get it at their website to discover just what the buzz has been on this band. Crafting a uniquely familiar sound, tracks like “I Want Blood” and “Under the Bright Lights” are irresistible and undeniably attractive. This band is like that friend who you’re always comfortable around no matter how weird either of you become. Make sure to have some tea on hand because your vocal cords are going to have quite a workout from singing along.
    RIYL: Panic at the Disco, OK Go, Rooney, We Are Scientists

    The Everlove – Baltimore, MD Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Besides previously being in Adelphi in their pop-punk days, The Everlove don’t have much to do with the current music climate. Giving some love to sunny 60’s pop, their inner hippies, and bouncy indie rock that’s a blast to dance to, The Everlove is far cry from what goes on now. But what really peeks through is their musicianship and the pipes on that boy, Ryan Keaton. Damn. Their EP is available for free download on their myspace.
    RIYL: fun., Steel Train, Limbeck

    Every You – Fort Lauderdale, FL Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: One of our hotter staff members recently went on and on about Maryland’s The Dangerous Summer. But after the band’s check cleared (and was spent on tanning supplies/board shorts), said staff member felt a hole in his life. He found himself hooked on this style of pop-punk: big choruses sung by a voice that’s just the right amount of brawny. It’s not that Every You are just some snack to tide him over, though. The gang vocals in “A Change of Scene” or the gruff in “Homesick” make them a little tougher than TDS. Point is, this band saved that staff member from a meaningless life of one night stands and a pretty nasty type of skin cancer. So, I guess, thanks. I mean, he says thanks.
    RIYL: The Dangerous Summer, You, Me, and Everyone We Know, Farewell

    The Features – Nashville, TN Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Thank the beer gods for bar rock, because there would be a whole slew of under appreciated nights without their glorious existence. And that’s not to say that you have to listen to a band like ten-years running The Features with cold one number five perspiring in your palm, but the excitable garage swagger and rumble of this Nashville band is synonymous with good times. The Features gathers moments of whimsical, fluttery indie pop that heighten senses and then tend back to manly rumbling. Kings of Leon grabbed onto them first, signing them to their new label, but we’re gonna follow suit.
    RIYL: Kings of Leon, The Black Keys, The Strokes

    Harvard Charlotte, NC Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: There’s no doubt that Anthony Green’s many projects have inspired a generation of young rockers, and that’s completely okay with me when I hear a band like Harvard taking noodling, experimental sounds to their own realm. Surprisingly, there’s still a lot of catchy to be found. Though the band continues to hone their own sound, this will be one enjoyable progression to watch.
    RIYL: Circa Survive, Closure In Moscow, Coheed and Cambria

    Jonathan Vassar & the Speckled Bird – Richmond, VA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: If you were siting at ease in a rocking chair paying mind to only the natural world before your eyes, you’d want Jonathan Vassar and his acoustic guitar by your side. Though artists are always borrowing elements from the past to create their current sound, Vassar sounds like he could have shared a stage with classic country and folk acts on The Johnny Cash TV Show. It’s a rustic sound that time appreciates. Vassar doesn’t offer big hooks to catch fickle listeners, but instead rewards patient minds who remember a time when a musician’s studio was the open air. Triple Stamp Records knew exactly what they were doing when they signed this gentleman.
    RIYL: David Shultz and the Skyline, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits

    Junius – Boston, MA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: There’s a reason all good stories start with kids wandering into spider web infested attics. Up above is where everything happens. In that dark forgotten world are treasures beyond our imagination. Junius employ this mysterious feeling to their Depeche Mode-on-crescendos style of electro rock. Their long-awaited record The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist is everything we hoped it would be. The band are still allowing us to relish in their purple-tinged layers before crashing us back to Earth. And if that isn’t enough, Joseph E. Martinez’s oracle-like vocals will make you reevaluate pretty much everything you thought to be true. But no, he isn’t hiding a treasure map in those tight leather pants. He asks that you please stop groping.
    RIYL: Depeche Mode, Bedhead, M83

    Lakes – Atascadero, CA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Out of the ashes of underrated Watashi Wa comes the underrated Lakes. They craft beautiful simplistic rock that sticks with you well after the song ends. Think of a band like This Day and Age gone folk and you will get an idea of what this band is like. You know how people say that certain pop-punk bands are perfect for driving with the windows down? This is the opposite in the sense that it’s the perfect accompaniment to laying down outside on a cool day and relaxing.
    RIYL: Watashi Wa, a folkier This Day and Age

    Man Overboard – Williamstown, NJ Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Man Overboard may be most noteworthy for their drummers, who have included both Justin Mondschein of Bangarang and Jeff Kummer of The Early November, but these self-proclaimed defenders of pop-punk are well on their way to being well known for their own tunes. The self-released an EP, Hung Up on Nothing, for free early this year. The anthemic opener, “Love Your Friends Die Laughing,” is one of my favorite songs in recent memory. I look forward to seeing what these young musicians do next.
    RIYL: New Found Glory, Hit the Lights, Lanemeyer, The Wonder Years, Hidden in Plain View

    Mourning District – New York, NY Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Very much still a secret, but this will be one that is to be told to the whole world. They have a large appeal that will be keen to the ears of many. Including those “commercialized” listeners. Remember when Kings of Leon wasn’t a Top 40 band? Mourning District is heading in the same direction.
    RIYL: Jimmy Eat World, Gratitude, Nada Surf

    No Age – Los Angeles, CA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: As indie rock becomes more and more “intellectual” and “complex” and “from Brooklyn,” it’s refreshing to hear a band that takes pride in its simplicity. There are only two band members – drummer/vocalist Dean Allen Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall – no keyboardist and backup keyboardist and flutist and glockenspielist. Just primal, stripped down garage-punk with a lot of entrancing white noise thrown in for good measure. Some listeners will see the low-fi/no-fi noise approach as a gimmick that tries to pass off a lack of songwriting talent as “art,” but… those listeners are jerks. No Age prove you don’t need to graduate from Music University and write songs on your yacht to be successful.
    RIYL: Wavves, Times New Viking, Psychedelic Horseshit

    Plants and Animals – Montreal, Quebec Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: It may have taken a year for Plants and Animals’ debut to start gathering some buzz, but now is as good a time as any to find out what all the fuss is about! Parc Avenue runs a spectrum of indie rock moods – it’s at once introspective and triumphant, calm and dramatic, often happy and sad. And from the Latin-flavored licks of “Mercy” to the choir singalong “Bye Bye Bye” (not an N*Sync cover), the group put on a number of genre hats as well, but they generally tend to err on the side of “mellow” and “relaxed”. True, these melodies are often very subtle and they don’t always jump out at you right away, but they stick out more and more with repeat listens. As an added bonus, anybody lucky enough to have seen the band’s set at Pitchfork this summer will probably agree that the group’s entrancing folky styles work just as well on stage as they do on the record.
    RIYL: Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley (in the vocals department); Arcade Fire and Spoon (in the music department).

    – Brooklyn, NY Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Straddling a tenuous fence between indie-cool and catchy pop tunes, Suckers are the “next big band to come from Brooklyn” following in the footsteps of musical peers and friends such as Yeasayer and MGMT. Musically, however, the influences from Talking Heads, Modest Mouse and other great pop artists of the past 20 years are evident. Just try and listen to their entire self-titled EP without singing along.
    RIYL: Talking Heads, Modest Mouse, Wolf Parade

    Thy Will Be Done – Providence, RI Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Metalcore may be on its way out, but Thy Will Be Done will convince you not to stick a fork into it just yet. The band plays their music passionately without the cliches which often plague the sub-genre (clean vocals, uninspired breakdowns, et al). It helps that they are really nice guys who practice the positive message that they preach in their lyrics. The band recently released their second album, In Ancient of Days, on Hatebreed frontmen Jamey Jasta’s Stillborn Records. They just wrapped up a slot on the Trash & Burn tour with DevilDriver and will be hitting the road with Earth Crisis soon. Their live show is worth seeing for vocalist J. Costa’s impeccable Christopher Walken impression alone, not to mention their solid performance.
    RIYL: Unearth, Darkest Hour, old Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, At the Gates

    Winston Audio – Atlanta, GA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Handsome and wailing, those beefy drunk guitars are. Framing the Winston Audio landscape that’s equally tragic and hopeful, these southern rock societal commentators are an out-of-body mix of 90’s alternative and deep-rooted indie rock. They released a full-length in 2009 (The Red Rhythm) and they’ve done some heavy-duty touring, including a national run with Manchester Orchestra.
    RIYL: Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Colour Revolt

    All Or Nothing – Birmingham, UK Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to rip my shirt off and smack you in the face with it, but I’m going to anyway. There’s just this feeling that comes over me when anthemic, emotional pop-punk pipes through the speakers. All Or Nothing are most certainly on their way to some sort of stardom, and only time will tell how seedy their lives (and mine!) become. “I’m Not Being Rude, But I Could Have Had Your Job” is a bright blinking sign of opportunity. Plus, it’s placement on a split with The Wonder Years is barely indicative of the power these Brits possess. Umm wow, I’m being way too formal and “journalisticky.” I will spit on your grave. As soon as I get out of jail.
    RIYL: New Found Glory, Race The Sun, Man Overboard

    Alvin Band – Laguna Niguel, CA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Welp, Steve took Miniature Tigers (SO good), so I’ll offer up a Miniature Tigers side-project that is just as worthy of your cursory listen. Drummer Rick Alvin Shaier conjures up a dizzying array of harmonies, loops, and beat boxing to arrive at what’s being referred to as a “vocal composition” project. That’s right folks, no instruments here. Only mouth and body sounds, aided by a Powerbook and a gift for indie-pop songwriting. It’s a very now sound – and tons of extra points for the record’s Phantom of the Opera medley. Open your ears to Alvin Band.
    RIYL: Discovery, Panda Bear, Animal Collective

    Anchor Down – Portland, OR Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: With so many “orgcore” bands riding the current wave of popularity, it can be difficult to choose who’s worth listening to. Allow us to choose for you, as this Portland quartet stands out from the pack with surefire confidence and aggression that sounds genuinely positive. Does that make any sense? Probably not until you listen to what Anchor Down brings to the table: gang-vocal’d, bass-driven, percussion-soaked pop-punk that still contains an edge of classic sentimentality & determination.
    RIYL: Dillinger Four, Jawbreaker, The Lawrence Arms

    The Boy Bathing – New York, NY Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: With his acoustic guitar in hand, David Hurwitz wants to tell some stories. One part country, one part comfortably complex songwriting, and two parts caustic commentary, The Boy Bathing could easily be the indie scene’s replacement of the age-softened Conor Oberst, but Hurwitz is just creative enough to defy comparison. The addition of Jeannie Scofield’s silky-sweet voice (think Jenny Lewis) on A Fire to Make Preparations only makes these stories more listenable.
    RIYL: Bright Eyes, Kevin Devine, Rilo Kiley

    The Brobecks – Salt Lake City, UT Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Bratty, whiny, self-loathing – sounds like an emo kid who goes to private school. Well, in a way, The Brobecks is that kid. Perfectly produced (by Casey Crescenzo) and fashionable, yet wallowing in beat-up misery, there is something irresistible about this kid. He croons with the effortless wail of Matt Bellamy (Muse) and rocks out almost as theatrically as Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance) – the only difference is that his melodies are pop perfection and they dance around your brainballs whether you like it or not. In the right hands, these guys are a definite Next Big Thing.
    RIYL: Muse, My Chemical Romance, Phantom Planet

    City Escape – Melbourne, Australia Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: They come from the land down under, but the might as well be from Boston, given their obvious appreciation for The Receiving End of Sirens. Their debut EP, Avalanches, is a spot-on mix of emotional vocals, slick production, driving arrangements, and raw, youthful energy. Their Australian-based label is the same one that rosters Copeland, As Tall As Lions, and Closure in Moscow, so don’t expect these guys to stay unsigned here for long.
    RIYL: The Receiving End of Sirens, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Underoath, Thrice

    Colin of Arabia - Brockton, MA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Colin of Arabia (often going by the acronym COA) have been a cornerstone of the Boston hardcore scene for years and, after many tours in VFWs, small clubs, and basements, they’re taking over the rest of the country with their DIY ethic. While the majority of the Boston scene is all about bringing the mosh, COA keeps it old school with their fast, pissed-off style of punk-influenced hardcore. The band released their full-length debut in 2004 and have since put out a variety of short vinyl releases while fans anticipate a second full-length.
    RIYL: Black Flag, Slapshot, Minor Threat, Righteous Jams, Palehorse

    The Color Turning – Los Angeles, CA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: This band has gone through many different styles and incarnations since their inception, but they never released a full record. I guess that’s because they were waiting until they got it just right. Not that he’s some sort of bell weather for eyeing talent, but apparently Scott Weiland thought so too. He signed them to his label, Softdrive Records. Their music is sometimes radio ready rock and other times 7-minute slow moving numbers that take a long time to get where they’re going. But once they get there, you’re happy that you were patient enough to enjoy the ride.
    RIYL: Radiohead, Doves, White Lies, Silversun Pickups

    The Empire Shall Fall - New York, NY Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Vocalist Jesse David Leach left Killswitch Engage while they were on their rise to fame before joining the rock band Seemless, and fans thought he would never return to his metal roots. They can rest easy, as last year Leach and some friends started The Empire Shall Fall, an aggressive rock/metal band with a 90’s hardcore influence. His lyrics have been spiritual in the past, but for his new band Leach tackles political and social issues. The band is expected to release their debut album before the end of the year.
    RIYL: Rage Against the Machine, old Killswitch Engage, Candiria, Overcast, Integrity

    Glass America – Boston, MA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Modesty doesn’t typically go hand in hand with bands creating 11-minute soundscapes meant to impart some sort of woefully abstract political statement with only a chainsawing guitar as their narrator. And although Glass America’s stewing, thick arrangements aren’t exactly summer fare, the band couldn’t be working from a more accessible mindset: Vocals only cloud your personal relationship with their music. Think what you want about everything, even if it’s completely wrong. For instance, on “If I Forget You, O Jerusalem” Glass America unleash a frenetic guitar onslaught that reminds me of certain social situations in which I simply couldn’t find the right thing to say. I ran for the heavens, much like Jared Deame’s intense guitar. The band might read such ramblings and smack their foreheads in disgust, but I’m certain they will keep the disdain to a personal level. I’m stupid. This, however, is not.
    RIYL: The Ascent of Everest, Moving Mountains, Followed By Ghosts

    Gray Young – Raleigh, North Carolina Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: For creatures of habit, we sure do hate repeats. An album runs by and it’s cool, but blah, who really cares enough to start it all over again? And then a force like Gray Young comes along and throws so many diverse (yet subtle!) influences at us on Firmament. We’re left with no choice but to hear it all again. Their mostly instrumental take on atmospheric indie rock finds plenty of silver linings when Chas McKeown decides to throw his voice into the ring. Like a true instrument, the singing adds an element to the intricate mix without becoming its focal point. Whether its the listless drone of “(Ghost Notes)” or the energetic intelligence of “Woven,” Firmament crams new experiences together like a masterful jigsaw puzzle. Take it apart. Put it together again. Take it apart. Put it together again.
    RIYL: Moving Mountains, Mogwai, The Appleseed Cast

    Hotel of the Laughing Tree – Long Island, NY Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Sometimes you can hear the fire burning, and with Hotel, that is the case. With enough originality to pique the ear but still tempered by a serious knack for melody, these guys keep the flame going strong throughout their new 8-track EP. The vocals often build to Max Bemis-like, gruff intensity, and it totally works. If the three RIYL bands chugged some horny goatweed and got it on, Hotel of the Laughing Tree would indefinitely be the bastard child. One song doesn’t do justice to their diversity, so stream the entire EP.
    RIYL: The Dear Hunter, Margot and the Nuclear So & Sos, Conor Oberst

    The King and the Thief – Minneapolis, MN Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Confusing and intense (even more confusing after a recent name change!), The King and the Thief’s blend of ambiance, rock, and sheer energy is certainly tough to ignore. And why would you want to? Minnesota has given us another absurdly talented young soldier in the melodic rock army and this one is loaded. Pairing jagged, soaring music with the sometimes-velvet-sometimes-violent pipes of Dan Mariska, the depth of the band’s of wounds and blessings… EP is enough to wonder just how much deeper Now and Forever can actually go.
    RIYL: Weaver at the Loom, As Cities Burn, In Harbour

    Lars Katz
    – Seattle, WA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: A prime example of why some producer/engineers absolutely SHOULD step out from behind the soundboard, Katz’ atmospheric vocals alone are enough of a reason to stand up and take notice. Add to that his ability to write massive songs decked in strings, cymbals, and beautiful harmonies, and you’ve got an album that makes skin shiver and heads nod.
    RIYL: Sunny Day Real Estate, Jeremy Enigk, Mew

    Mariage Blanc – Pittsburgh, PA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Mariage Blanc’s 2008 EP might be titled Broken Record, but that’s precisely what it isn’t. While it is mostly laid-back and relaxed, it covers a lot of musical ground over the course of its eight tracks, from somber and hushed Elliott Smith-style laments to mildly twangy jams in the vein of Steel Train. Through it all, there’s clever use of varied instrumentation that includes strings that provide an Arcade Fire feel, horns that emit an Okkervil River vibe, and even Hammond organ. They’ve inexplicably flown well under the radar this far, but don’t make the mistake of passing over this band.
    RIYL: Elliott Smith, Great Lake Swimmers, Steel Train, Paper Rival, Okkervil River

    Native – Northwest Indiana Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: It’s not fair to call Native bewildering, although it does seem appropriate. The ultimate Little Band From Indiana Who Could, Native specialize in noisy, slightly abstract math-rock. On that note, don’t expect the vocals to be toned-down, either. The band’s shining moment to this point, the We Delete; Erase EP, has been pressed more times than I’ve been laid. So, like, 6? Regardless, a new release on Sargent House looms and my body continually dampens with anticipation.
    RIYL: Loom, These Arms Are Snakes, Meet Me In St. Louis

    The New Regime – San Diego, CA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Written and recorded entirely by talented multi-instrumentalist Ilan Rubin (drummer for NIN), The New Regime flirt with the same dynamics Muse did on the heralded Absolution; dark, dense, piano-backed alternative-rock that frankly sounds like it could soundtrack the apocalypse. Whether it’s the foreboding synthesizers and crashing symbol choruses of “Haunt My Mind”, the more hooky, Beatles-esque “All These Changes”, or the haunted house piano theatrics of “Time Erase”, there’s bound to be something here to make your spine tingle. The future might look squalid and stormy from a distance, but in my headphones, it’s a moody rock wonderland.
    RIYL: Muse, Thrice, Voices-era Matchbook Romance

    North Lincoln – Grand Rapids, MI Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Country music is often criticized for either sounding all the same or being too “twangy.” Thankfully, some country-western lovin’ son of a gun decided to take a few clean shots of whiskey, smoke a pack of Marlboros and get a roughneck group of Midwestern misfits together to create a genre that defies logic: alternative country punk. Say what?! Believe it or not, the smooth soul sound of Lucero, snot-nosed punk of Off With Their Heads and gorgeous songwriting of Lumeria has culminated into one massive Michigan band named North Lincoln.
    RIYL: Lucero, The Gaslight Anthem, Off With Their Heads

    Random Orbits – Ellensburg, WA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: That young, free-spirited attitude of smalltown bruisers is alive and well with fresh upstarts Random Orbits. Hailing from the almighty Pacific Northwest, they carry the same brash aggression as Shook Ones, the coming-of-age wisdom of Broadway Calls and the meaty riffs of A Wilhelm Scream. Only difference? They create a bi-partisan sound that all punk rock breeds (from the hardcore to the pop) can listen to and bond-n-mosh with.
    RIYL: Shook Ones, A Wilhelm Scream, The Swellers

    The Rocketboys – Austin, Texas Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Harnessing the best components of the sounds that make bands like Nada Surf and Coldplay so universally appealing, The Rocketboys have a firm grasp on making lush, layered songscapes. With Brandon Kinder sounding like a Chris Martin in training, and the rest of his rocket brethren meticulously structuring beautiful backdrops, these Texans are skilled enough to sound lo-fi and grandiose and the same time. 20,000 Ghosts is going to be the record a lot of people talk about this fall.
    RIYL: Nada Surf, The New Frontiers, Lydia, All the Day Holiday, Coldplay

    Parlour Steps
    – Vancouver, BC Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: It almost goes without saying that many bands struggle for years to get their name out there and their music heard. That is certainly the case for these five talented musicians from Vancouver. They have been playing music for nine years and have more than four albums out, but I would be lying if I said that I had heard of them before this year. I almost felt embarrassed, but mainly disappointed that I had never heard of this talented band before. I was lucky enough to listen to their upcoming album, The Hidden Names, and all I can say is that albums like this are what made me fall in love with “indie” bands in the first place – catchy yet heartbreaking music. Their music has been perfectly crafted for this new record, and their lyrics are extremely relatable. In the words of the Canadian press, Parlour Steps are a mix of “the brainy pop of XTC, the drama of Arcade Fire, the lyrical focus of Sufjan Stevens and the snappy rhythmic grip of the Pixies.” So if you’re looking for an album that you can hum along and dance to in your car that can often pull your heartstrings, this is it.
    RIYL: Winterpills, Folk-Rock, Male + Female vocalists

    Small Talk
    - Boston, MA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Small Talk is a talented, new pop/rock band. Not only do they write catchy, fun songs, but what’s more impressive is that the bands members are still in high school. Although only formed this year, the group has already began making buzz locally. This is a band that I expect to cover regularly here on when they fully realize their potential and more people take notice. If their early demos are any indication, it’s only a matter of time until that happens.
    RIYL: Boys Like Girls, We the Kings, The Maine, Cute Is What We Aim For, Forever the Sickest Kids

    Super Time Pilot - Allston, MA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: Cult musician/comedian Robby Roadsteamer went from fronting a comedy/metal band called the Sweatpant Boners to DJing at a local radio station to playing solo acoustic songs at both music and comedy clubs. The latest step in his unpredictable career is teaming up with local musician Nikki Dessingue to form Super Time Pilot. The duo share vocal duties, with Dessingue’s sweet melody complimenting Roadsteamer’s off-kilter crooning. They grabbed four friends and recorded an album, Did We Happen to Begin?, in only two days. The songs still hold a bit of Roadsteamer’s comedic routes, but the humor is delivered through simple, honest songs.
    RIYL: When asked of similar artists, Roadsteamer retorted “Johnny and June Cash if they lived in the suburbs; if Tom Waits started smoking dope at 2 in the morning with Regina Spector and decided to record what they threw against the wall.”

    Venice Is Sinking – Athens, GA Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: It’s a little hard to describe a band’s sound when they could fit under more than one category. If anyone were to ask, my personal description would be, “emotional orchestral folk, with a contemplating voice supported by beautiful female vocals in the background.” Yet, if you were to ask anyone else, their description might be completely different. Either way, Venice Is Sinking make the perfect music to listen to on a rainy day, and they are now one of my favourite bands to listen to when I want to be left all alone and get lost in my own thoughts. Cheesy? Perhaps so, but its been a while since a band’s music touched me the way theirs has. Give them a listen if you are into instrumental, folk or simply beautiful and haunting music. They will not disappoint and you will only be craving for more.
    RYIL: Belle & Sebastian, Low, The Appleseed Cast, Male + Female vocals

    White Lies – London, England Profile | Myspace
    Why We Like: These black-clad Brits are a serious bunch. With their major-label debut titled To Lose My Life and song titles like “Death,” their themes tend toward the dark side, but they’re coupled with hooks and grandiosity that recalls Hot Fuss-era Killers, creating a sound that’s simultaneously dark-and-shadowy and bright-and-shiny. Not many bands can make you want to sing along with lyrics like “Let’s grow old together, and die at the same time,” but White Lies pull it off effortlessly. Their outlook might be bleak, but with songs this huge, their future’s sure to be anything but.
    RIYL: The Killers, Editors, Interpol, Joy Division, I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness

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  2. This is the list that I remember the most because of how influential it was on my music tastes. Brendan Rivera, Grammatics, American Fangs, The Narrative, The Sound Archives (!!), Every You, Harvard, Junius... I've had an incredible time getting into these bands in fall 2009.