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The Absolute 100 (2013)

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    Another year, another 100 bands hand-picked by the AbsolutePunk staff for you to check out. Seeking out and discovering new music is one of my favorite things to do – not only as a writer but also as a passionate fan of the art form. Last year we introduced to you some bands that are tearing up 2013 thus far (Pity Sex, Chelsea Wolfe, and Pentimento for example) and we are poised to do the same in 2013. It’s kind of like having a jumbo book of Where’s Waldo?, only in this case our list is the book and Waldo is your new favorite band. We don’t buy into buzz, hype, or whatever – this is a list of one hundred musical acts that we as a staff truly love and support. Enjoy this year’s list (revealed in four parts over four weeks) and let us know which ones are your new favorites.

    By Surprise – South Jersey, NJ Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Harking back to the golden days of 90s emo, By Surprise play nostalgia drenched, nerdy as hell alt rock that basks in poppy melodies and twenty something year old lyrics. Their recent EP, Criteria (featuring contender for the catchiest song ever created, “Criteria”) showcased a band that doesn’t quite fit in with any particular genre today, but still manage to sound fresh and nostalgic simultaneously. They less emulate the bands of the 90s and more rework the old sound. If you miss The Promise Ring or want Weezer to stop releasing new albums, make sure you check out By Surprise. [KD]
    RIYL: Early Weezer; The Promise Ring; The Get Up Kids
    Listen to Criteria in its entirety

    Cloakroom – MI Profile | Official Page
    Why We Like: In a time of ’90s nostalgia bleeding throughout the Midwest and Northeast regions, Cloakroom pulls from something sludgier and more harmonious than the rest. Fashioned together in a gloomy timbre, the “three factory workers from the Region” recorded and (for a short time) released an EP late last year, which has since been picked up and was pressed by Run For Cover this year. From start to finish, the band’s debut flows in and out like a sullen river around a few quick bends, but empties itself over a heavy waterfall of low end. What seems to be a casual project turned out to be one of my favorite records of last year…and I guess this year too. [AP]
    RIYL: True Widow, Jesu, OM
    Listen to “Mind Funeral”

    Crywank – Manchester, England Profile | Official Site
    Why We Like: Despite the somewhat unfortunate moniker, Crywank (aka James Clayton) writes the saddest songs possible. His debut album, James Is Going To Die Soon was born from a bad break up and an extremely limited use of acoustic guitar but yet, somehow, through roughly three chords and a bunch of painfully honest lyrics, Crywank created a perfectly screwed up album that, sadly, passed under the radar. Since then, he’s released another full length and some demos, all of which maintained the simplicity of that first record whilst showcasing him grow as a musician. [KD]
    RIYL: Paul Baribeau, Toby Foster, if Conor Oberst had never heard of production
    Listen to Tour Demos 2013 in its entirety

    Dad Punchers – Los Angeles, CA Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Are you tired of pop-punk bands named after older pop-punk bands’ song titles? “Defend” no longer. The project consisting of Touché Amoré’s drummer Elliott Babin on vocals and guitar, Dad Punchers feels like a bright driving wall of early ’90s so-cal skate punk with a touch more heart. The band’s debut full-length is the summer’s best kept secret and an anthem comprised of the melodic punk rock that contains hints of radio pop without the varnished glimmer, leaving just enough angst worn through the grooves. Dad Punchers is the perfect blend of what pop-punk used to be, and will never be known by the next generation. [AP]
    RIYL: Rival Schools, Dinosaur Jr., Hey Mercedes
    Listen to “Instant Stream”

    Departures – Glasgow, Scotland Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: We’ve seen it from both Pianos Become The Teeth and Touche Amore recently – bands that take hardcore to the next level and are the new top tier of hardcore bands. Now, Departures are continuing the trend, dominating the style all the way from the UK. Their No Sleep debut, Teenage Haze, blisters with unquenchable angst and exhaustion, dominating my headphones throughout the winter. Equally devastating as it is powerful, the album continues to cater to this new hardcore movement. If you’re into heavy music, Departures will probably be your next favorite band, especially on long struggling days. [RG]
    RIYL: Pianos Become The Teeth, Touche Amore, La Dispute
    Listen to Teenage Haze in its entirety

    Dowsing - Chicago, IL Profile | Official Site
    Why We Like: Dowsing are purveyors of pop punk tinged emo songs all about being young and growing up. Leaning more to the sweeter side of procedures than most of their peers, the band’s raw enthusiasm and youthfulness is not only endearing, but highly refreshing also. Last year’s LP, It’s Still Pretty Terrible was among the best of the genre that year, and Dowsing can only get better. Also “Amateur Cartography” is THE good times anthem, let no pop song tell you otherwise. [KD]
    RIYL: The Get Up Kids; if The Wonder Years were an emo band they’d probably sound like this
    Liste to “I Don’t Even Care Anymore

    Ed Tullett – Uckfield, England Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Bon Iver has pretty much become one of the biggest names in music today. Well, Ed Tullett, a young 19-year-old from England, seems to follow in Vernon’s footsteps with his own songwriting. His debut record, Never Joy, is twelve enticing, beautiful songs. The vocal layering and intricate instrumentation resonate throughout the record, making it a go to winter/night album. Signing to Equal Vision ensures even brighter days ahead for Tullett, and his live show is just as endearing – or maybe even more so due to vocal effects – than his recorded sound. [RG]
    RIYL: Bon Iver
    Listen to Never Joy in its entirety

    Gatherer – Bayonne, NJ Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: For those who like music to punch them repeatedly around the face, Gatherer are the band for you. Although the NJ four piece are only one four track EP into their career (a full length is on the way), they already stick out from the crowd with their blistering post-hardcore and tired, emotive lyrics. Sounding a little like mewithoutYou joining forces with Defeater, Gatherer puts any chugga chugga metalcore band to shame with their authentc ferocity and instensity, as well as the intelligence and songwriting ability they team with it. [KD]
    RIYL: Defeater; angry things
    Listen to Caught Between A Rock And A Sad Place in its entirety

    Have Mercy – Baltimore, MD Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Haven’t you heard? Midwest emo is back – only it’s been brought back by the East Coast. Baltimore’s Have Mercy is one of the many bands leading the re-birth, as its Topshelf debut, The Earth Pushed Back has resonated with sad people everywhere. Songs like “Let’s Talk About Your Hair” and “Weak At The Knees” are slowly becoming anthems and the band continues to rise through the ranks while out on the road. [DB]
    RIYL: American Football, Into It. Over It., Mineral
    Listen to The Earth Pushed Back in its entirety

    Jungbluth – Münster, Germany Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Jungbluth makes me giddy. It’s hard for me to remember when a new band in the metal scene has caused me this excitement, but the Münster trio’s latest LP,Part Ache, just makes me want to kick through walls. It’s some of the most expansive yet brutal sounding records available in 2013 (“These Rare Moments” is easily one of the best tracks of the year) and you’re totally missing out if you don’t check out this album immediately after reading this blurb. [DB]
    RIYL: Converge, Code Orange Kids, just listen to this seriously you’ll thank me later
    Listen to Part Ache in its entirety

    Last Call – Las Vegas, NV Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: On their debut full length, Dog Years, Last Call have combined the aggressive nature of The Starting Line (“Nothing, Ever” and “Small Town Blues”) with the sensibility and wit of The American Scene or The Dangerous Summer (“No Bridge Back”) and wrapped it all with the best elements of pop-punk. It’s angry yet sensible, biting yet understanding. There’s a sense of angst within the songs, but it’s an album of overcoming hard times and growing up, and that’s something we can all relate to. Only just starting to truly get in their element, Last Call is a band we are keeping our eye on in the near future.[RG]
    RIYL: The Starting Line, Transit, The Dangerous Summer, The American Scene
    Listen to Split EP in its entirety

    Little Big League – Philadelphia, PA
    Official Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Little Big League is another quality band to emerge from the Philly scene (seriously – how many great bands have been coming out of that town over the last few years?). This is absolutely one of the best female-fronted indie-rock bands I’ve heard in a long time. The band’s Tiny Engines debut, These Are Good People, is rough around the edges with just enough sweet melody in the middle to hook you in. Some of it reminds me of early If It Was You/So Jealous-era Tegan And Sara, but the dark guitar chords and Michelle Zauner’s powerful vocals take the band to a place where peers just can’t compare. These are good people making great music. [DB]
    RIYL: Tegan and Sara, Adventures
    Listen to These Are Good People in its entirety

    Modern Baseball – Brunswick/Frederick, MD Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Modern Baseball’s debut album Sports came at us with an element of surprise. Although they had already released a couple of decent EPs, it was impossible to expect just how well Modern Baseball would translate to a full length, but like hell they did. Sports is a modern classic with it’s emo tinged pop punk and general intense likability. In a few years time, Sports will be a milestone in the development of modern emo, mark my words. [KD]
    Stream “(240)”

    Northern Faces – Albany, NY Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: One part The Black Keys mixed with some more good ol’ rock ‘n roll…yeah something like that and you have Northern Faces. From groovy rock tunes (“Poor Moonlight”) to the almost Coldplay-tinged “You Not Me” and the blues influenced “Side Of the Road,” Northern Faces debut EP, Southern Places, has a bit of everything we love about rock music crammed into six songs. They can do acoustic, gritty blues rock numbers, everything. This is a band that doesn’t believe in genres or boundaries, and you really hear that throughout Southern Places. With their variety of sound and style capabilities, we can’t wait to see what Northern Faces are planning to do next. [RG]
    RIYL: The Black Keys style bluesy rock and roll
    Stream Southern Places in its entirety

    Oathbreaker – Ghent, Belgium Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: A few weeks ago, Oathbreaker released its second Deathwish release, the stunning Eros|Anteros. While the band’s 2010 debut scratched the surface of the band’s talent, it’s Eros that really showcases the power behind Caro Tanghe’s unforgiving screams. There is melody behind all the noise, as Oathbreaker shows its growth as songwriters on “The Abyss Looks Into Me” and closer “Clair Obscur” – two 9+ minute tracks that serve as album high points. Don’t let this can’t-miss record turn into a criminally underrated one – check it out today. [DB]
    RIYL: Code Orange Kids, metal that’ll wake the dead
    Stream “Condor Tongue”

    Old Gray – Hooksett, Manchester, and Auburn, NH Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: What’s there to say about Old Gray that hasn’t been said already? Old Gray are one of those bands that come around out of the blue and decide to rip out your heart and leave you a snivelling mess for the rest of eternity. Although relatively young as a band, Old Gray have established themselves as one of the best in the current emo/post-hardcore scene. The four piece’s combination of heartbreaking lyrics, desperate howls and soft/heavy dynamics create an intense, unforgettable listening experience and every track is the sound of a heart exploding – intensity, angry and sadness shroud every scream, spoken or sung word. Their tendency to blur the lines between emo, post-hardcore and post-rock means that Old Gray stick out from a scene of wonderful bands and are hard to forget. Oh yeah, and they may have just released the best album this year. Drop everything and listen to Old Gray, you can thank us later. [KD]
    RIYL: La Dispute meets Explosions In The Sky meets the Topshelf Records/Count Your Lucky Stars/ Tiny Engines emo scene.
    Stream An Autobiography in its entirety

    Owel – New Jersey Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Nobody listens to Owel and thinks, “Are these guys taking this seriously enough?” It’s abundantly clear from all the gigantic crescendos, world-weary lyrics and, well, song lengths that these guys see this stuff as life or death. Sounds heavy, I understand. But there’s melodies here you just can’t get out of your head and a certain camaraderie in the uncertainty that makes the band’s fantastic self-titled record such a great hand to hold when life is in the dumps. [BS]
    RIYL: Sleeping At Last, Copeland, Gates
    Stream Owel in its entirety

    Polyenso – St. Petersburg, FL Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Oceana really had something special going for them, but they kind of fell of the map over time. Have no fear, however, because Polyenso are here to continue – and redefine – that legacy. What comes from Polyenso’s unexpected debut record, One Big Particular Loop, sounds like Radiohead meets Oceana. It’s memorizing and lush, perfect for winter days or late nights in the dark. [RG]
    RIYL: Oceana meets Radiohead
    Stream One Big Particular Loop in its entirety

    Ramshackle Glory – Tuscon, AZ Profile | Official Site
    Why We Like: Folk punks, Ramshackle Glory, take all of the wrong ingredients and somehow manage to force them together to create a type of flawed perfection which makes Ramshackle Glory so very endearing. They team anarcho punk ideas with a somewhat childish positivity and through their banjos, yelped vocals and just plain awesome lyrics and one liners, they make music that feels like a breath of fresh of air in a modern world that doesn’t seem to give a damn. [KD]
    RIYL: Andrew Jackson Jihad, Ghost Mice, Wingnut Dishwashers Union
    Listen to Shelter in its entirety

    Restorations – Philadelphia, PA Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Restorations is undoubtedly the next act to follow bands like The Gaslight Anthem and The Menzingers and blow up in the punk community. The band is not only one of the must-see acts at this year’s Fest 12, but they’re also playing on the second stage by Paine’s Park for next week’s “Made in America” Festival. And I didn’t even mention how incredible the band’s Side One Dummy debut, LP2, is, as it’s one of the most uniquely refreshing records to hit the punk scene in a while. [DB]
    RIYL: The Menzingers, The Gaslight Anthem, punk-rock Japandroids (?)
    Listen to LP2 in its entirety

    Hudson Taylor – Dublin, Ireland Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Following in similar steps to Mumford And Sons, The Lumineers and Of Monsters Of Men before them, Hudson Taylor, a duo of brothers from Dublin, certainly know their way around a wonderfully catchy folk pop song. With a twinkle in their eyes and their combination of traditional folk music and pop sensibilities, Hudson Taylor revel in an instant likeability and catchiness that holds them out from the rest of the crowd. Although yet to release a full length, the handful of EPs they have under their belt display a natural songwriting ability and an authentic charm. [KD]
    RIYL: Fionn Regan; Mumford And Sons; The Lumineers
    Listen to “Care”

    Tiny Moving Parts – Benson, MN Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Tiny Moving Parts are yet another of the wonderful up and coming emo bands who have released a stellar album this year. The band are purveyors of shouty, twinkly emo but manage to be that little bit lighter than their peers. This Couch Is Long & Full Of Friendship, despite being their debut, masterfully wields sad lyrics that are easy to relate to, light melodies that make way for intense heaviness and a refreshing combination of positivity and negativity. Tiny Moving Parts are destined for big things. [KD]
    RIYL: Old Gray, Midwest Pen Pals, a lighter La Dispute
    Listen to This Couch is Long & Full of Friendship in its entirety

    To Be Juliet’s Secret – Macomb, MI Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: To Be Juliet’s Secret are about as young and inexperienced as it gets, but you’d have no idea of this with one listen through Laced With Fear. Drenched in foot-tapping choruses and addictive melodies, the band’s debut record is everything we love about female-fronted pop. It has the intricate cuts and a large share of upbeat pop jams – balance is everything for To Be Juliet’s Secret. From funky synth lines to tranquil acoustic guitar plucks, this band just knows how to do pop music right. [RG]
    RIYL: He Is We, The Morning Of, We Are The In Crowd
    Listen to “The Rose”

    To Kill A King – London, England Profile | Official Page
    Why We Like: To Kill A King’s debut album, Cannibals With Cutlery, released earlier this year, was a masterclass in indie rock. Each track was drenched in rich instrumentation, intelligent lyrics and an epic warmth which is a wonderful deviation away from the cold, clinical feel many bands of their ilk have been favoring recently. On top of this, every track of their arsenal is instantly accessible and will have any listener singing their heart out. To Kill A King are one of the biggest hopes for British indie rock at the moment and it’s going to great watching them take over the world. [KD]
    RIYL: Noah And The Whale, Dog Is Dead, The National
    Listen to “Bones”

    Yellowbirddd – South Brooklyn, New York Profile| Facebook
    Why We Like: If Mr Oberst’s threats are true and we have lost Bright Eyes to other projects of the Oberstcore Music Factory, NY’s Yellowbirddd is more than enough to fill the void. Liam McCormack’s one man band (you might know of McCormack from his place in Allison Weiss’ live band) is set to ignite the folk scene. His recent third album, Highway Birches, was a beautiful, sparse folk record which, through delicate melodies and lyrics, simple acoustic guitars and utterly endearing vocals, perfected emulated the sound of falling in love – in the words of John Green- ”slowly, and then all at once”. After spending a little time with Yellowbirddd’s lovelorn folk songs. you’ll be handing over your heart and will never want it back. [KD]
    RIYL: Bright Eyes (in full on lovelorn mode), Palace Music’s New Partner
    Listen to Highway Birches in its entirety

    Allison Weiss – Brooklyn, NY Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: This is probably the third or fourth time Allison Weiss has shown up on an list in 2013. She was one of our most anticipated albums in the spring, one of the must-see acts on this summer’s Warped Tour, and she’s also one artist you need to keep tabs on now and in the future. One of the most electrifying and important voices in the indie/pop/rock today, her No Sleep debut record, Say What You Mean, is essential listening. Her infectious melodies and poignant words help her rise above the rest of the crop of similar acts. [DB]
    RIYL: Tegan And Sara, Hellogoodbye
    Listen to “One Way Love”

    Boardroom Heroes – Bethesda, MD Profile | Official Page
    Why We Like: Boardroom Heroes’ most recent release, Another Year, sounds like it was plucked off the 1998 Epitaph Records catalog, polished up a bit and given a shot of adrenaline. They might not be doing anything brand-spanking-new, but they’re doing something you love and they’re doing it really well. The band is recording a new EP this fall with Brian McTernan, so keep your ears open for some new material early next year maybe. [TN]
    RIYL: Good Riddance, NOFX, The Flatliners
    Listen to “Paradise”

    The Braces – Thousand Oaks, CA Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: If you loved indie rock and punk rock in the late 90s, then The Braces are a godsend in 2013. The band’s latest release, Two Years, is littered with musical references to early Saves The Day while maintaining that edge your favorite Fat Wreck band had in the day. They are the diamond in the rough on Paper + Plastick Records and the punk band you should be paying attention to now and beyond. [DB]
    RIYL: Early Saves The Day/The Get Up Kids, 90s Fat Wreck
    Listen to Two Years in its entirety

    Caterpillars – Dallas, TX Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: The scene hasn’t been the same since the legendary Thursday hung up its instruments. But I think I’ve found a band that can start to fill that void (at least a little bit of it) once it releases its new record, The Other Side, later this month. That band is Dallas, Texas, Caterpillars – a four-piece that captures the energy and atmosphere of that post-rock/post-hardcore hybrid Thursday developed on No Devolución. The sprawling “Light In This Room” is jaw-dropping, while “Rebirth” brings an energy a lot of newer bands lack. Produced by Ed Rose, The Other Side is poised to make Caterpillars your new favorite band. [DB]
    RIYL: Thursday, The Appleseed Cast
    Listen to “Light In This Room”

    Clipwing – Winnipeg, MB Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: If you were into Canadian punk group High Five Drive you’ll probably be into Clipwing, especially since the band features three of the exact same members and comes from a similar place musically. Clipwing officially formed in 2012 and just this past July they put out a split record with Icons Down! through the Newform Label, a release that was also exclusively streamed on this website. Martin LaFreniere continues to remind me of Tom Rheault from No Trigger and all four of these raw, catchy punk tracks are worth listening to. [DR]
    RIYL: The Flatliners, No Trigger, Smoke or Fire
    Listen to the self-titled split record in its entirety

    Crash of Rhinos – Derby, UK Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Derby’s Crash of Rhinos describe its band as “Five voices, two guitars, two basses, one drum kit. We make a racket.” And a racket is what’s certainly made on the band’s latest LP, Knots. The majority of tracks on the album span over five minutes long, bouncing from sheer chaos to delicate restraint, as the anthemic “Opener” tries to break your heart. The build-ups and movements on stuff like “Impasses” and “Speeds of Ocean Greyhouds” are dazzling and enrapturing, swelling in emotion. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Knots in the vast majority of listener’s “Best Of” lists by the end of the year. [DB]
    RIYL: midwestern emo, Braid, Fugazi
    Listen to Knots in its entirety

    Daughter – London, England Profile | FacebookWhy We Like: After Elena Tonro recruited Igor Haefeli on guitar and Remi Aguillela on drums, Daughter was no longer a solo project and instead, a devastating and profound band. With one of the most heartbreaking debuts released this year, If You Leave, is a record that really doesn’t leave your thoughts for some time. Tracks such as “Youth” and “Smother” are immediately dramatic for all of the right reasons and draw you into the brooding, or plain sad, tales. After releasing the album via 4AD and touring stateside with The National, as well as a great summer of festival performances, things are about to get even more exciting for Daughter. [KH]
    RIYL: Lucy Rose, The National, Local Natives, Laura Marling
    Listen to “Smother”

    Distances – Winnipeg, MB Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Distances is a relatively new melodic punk band that formed in 2012 and they’re definitely one to keep an eye on. The band released a decent EP last year, but since then they’ve picked up Dangercat drummer Dylan James as a vocalist and they’ve headed to Vancouver to record a full-length with ex-Daggermouth guitarist Stu McKillop. We’re still waiting to hear more of the new stuff on tape, but the band has been playing some new tracks in their hometown and everything sounds rather promising so far. [DR]
    RIYL: Title Fight, Basement, Polar Bear Club
    Listen to the demo of “Underwhelmed”

    Free Throw – Nashville, TN Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Free Throw just makes me want to crack open a PBR and sing along to jams with my friends. That’s what the Nashville quintet’s music does to a person. Fast, aggressive punk rock with just a little of bit of melody rules on the band’s EP, Lavender Town, perfect for the music fan who’s beyond excited to attend The Fest in Florida. [DB]
    RIYL: Dikembe, You Blew It!, drinking
    Listen to Lavender Town in its entirety

    Gambles – New York City, New York Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Matthew Daniel Siskin started writing songs as Gambles in 2012 as a way of exercising demons and saying things he needed to address more than anything else. What followed was a one-take recording of a song titled “Trust” which is now the name of his forthcoming debut album. Full of cracked vocals, heart-wrenching tales and beautiful poetry set against nothing but an acoustic guitar, this is an artist to really watch out for over the next couple of years. Not necessarily one that will blow up instantly but allowed to breathe and develop over time. Something which is lost on a lot of new artists today and Gambles will be all the better for it. [KH]
    RIYL: Bob Dylan, Bon Iver, doomy folk.
    Listen to “So I Cry Out”

    Will Hoge – Nashville, Tennessee Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Will Hoge may have been destined for another time, for an age when country troubadours like Gram Parsons, George Jones, and Hank Williams still toured the country and rock ‘n’ roll heroes like Bruce Springsteen were still being born to run. But in a world where rock ‘n’ roll has largely receded to the underground and country twang has been bastardized and corporatized by mainstream radio, Hoge is one of the industry’s greatest throwbacks. He writes honest songs about heartbreak, longing, the American dream, and the inequities of a broken music industry. His 2007 break-up record, Draw the Curtains, was a master-class of raw emotion and shattering resignation, while 2012’s Modern American Protest Music was a raucous and scathing soundtrack for an Election Day that offered more questions than answers. [CM]
    RIYL: Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Dawes
    Listen to “When I Get My Wings”

    Kids & Heroes – Winnipeg, MB Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Kids & Heroes released a pretty awesome pop-punk record earlier this year and unfortunately a lot of people still seem to be sleeping on this band. Chalet was recorded last year in Vancouver with ex-Living With Lions vocalist and current Comeback Kid guitarist Stu Ross, who really helped these guys take their songs to the next level. Lyrically Kids and Heroes take cues from New Found Glory and write lots of stuff about girls. But musically and vocally there’s a bit more of a punk edge (these guys did take their name from a Bouncing Souls track) and Dan Kelsey’s gruff voice really helps separate this band from the pack. [DR]
    RIYL: New Found Glory, Living With Lions, The Story So Far
    Listen to Chalet in its entirety

    Matthew Mayfield – Birmingham, IL Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: He may have started out as the singer for an alternative rock band (Moses Mayfield), but Matthew Mayfield has always had one foot firmly planted in the realm of stripped down, emotional folk rock, and the albums and EPs the songwriter has been putting out since his band dissolved in 2008 have continuously bridged the gap between acoustic lullabies and blistering southern rock. Last year’s A Banquet for Ghosts was Mayfield’s finest work to date, filled to the brim with sweeping melodies and lovelorn poetry, while 2013’s Irons in the Fire EP may contain the year’s best song: “Follow You Down,” a piano-laden paean to undying devotion. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before, but Mayfield sings his songs with such passionate fervor that it’s almost impossible not to pay attention. [CM]
    RIYL: Cary Brothers, Peter Bradley Adams, William Fitzsimmons
    Listen to Irons in the Fire in its entirety

    Michael McDermott – Chicago, IL Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Those who read my review of McDermott’s most recent solo album, last year’s Hit Me Back, will recall how the songwriter struggled for years with alcohol addiction and other substance abuse issues, and how those issues took a toll on his potential to be what critics heralded him as early on: this generation’s Bruce Springsteen. Luckily, McDermott is at the end of that road now, and he’s making the best music of his life to celebrate. Whether he’s playing a night of Springsteen covers for a suburban music festival or delivering emotional hymns like “Scars From Another Life” or “Carry Your Cross” on his own records, McDermott never gives anything less than everything he’s got to the music. With a new band (The Westies, a collaboration with his wife) and a new record (titled West Side Stories) on the way in the coming months, there has never been a better time to delve into one of the finest singer/songwriter catalogs in all of rock ‘n’ roll. [CM]
    RIYL: Bruce Springsteen, Jason Isbell, U2, Bob Dylan
    Listen to “Hit Me Back”

    Night Beds – Nashville, Tennessee Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: The brainchild of Nashville-based college dropout Winston Yellen, Night Beds is the latest disciple of alt-country legend Ryan Adams, and based on the strength of his 2013 debut – the excellentCountry Sleep – he might be one of the best as well. Born from Yellen’s heartbreak-fueled, booze-drenched wanderings around the interstate highways and county two-lanes of North America, the songs on Country Sleep are gorgeously-rendered folk beauties, destined equally for late-night road trips and 4 a.m. last calls. If you’ve made it this far into 2013 without hearing “Ramona” or “Cherry Blossoms,” you’re doing it wrong.[CM]
    RIYL: Ryan Adams, Fleet Foxes, My Morning Jacket
    Listen to “Even If We Try”

    On An On – Minneapolis, Minnesota Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: When Nate Eisland’s father died, he wrote an absolutely breathtaking album calledSympathy under the name Scattered Trees. After that band’s too early demise, he started On An On. And glory be, this trio makes some of the most relaxing, groovy tunes you’ll hear all year. Eisland’s self-referential lyrics are here in large supply, and are supported by bigger instrumentation and more experimentation. It’s kind of like Alt-J or Do Make Say Think without all the weirdness if they merged with Polica. I don’t know, but it’s rad and you should listen. [BS]
    RIYL: Scattered Trees, Battleships, Yellow Ostrich
    Listen to “The Hunter”

    The Ongoing Concept – Rathdrum, ID Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: You can dry your eyes now. Even though we’ll definitely miss The Chariot’s brand of destruction, there’s a new eclectic sheriff in town – Idaho’s The Ongoing Concept. I didn’t even think Idaho could produce a band as heavy and maniacal as The Ongoing Concept. The quartet (composed of three brothers and a cousin) unleashes breakdowns and power chords that’ll scorch the earth but also aren’t afraid of throwing in a little banjo, clap-your-hands sing-along either. The sheer unpredictability of The Ongoing Concept’s take on metal is what makes the band so intriguing – they want to turn the genre on its head. [DB]
    RIYL: The Chariot, letlive.
    Listen to “Class of Twenty-Ten”

    Chad Perrone – Boston, MA Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: If there is a better singer than Chad Perrone making pop music right now, I’m sure I haven’t heard them. Insanely talented and criminally unknown, Chad Perrone writes brutally honest lyrics and builds them up with soaring, unforgettable melodies. His voice, a peerless tenor with a high emotional quotient, hits notes that no one this side of Nate Nuess is even capable of, and his songs, which range from heart-shattering farewells (“Goodnight, Goodbye,” an acoustic ballad written for his former band Averi), to summer soundtrack staples (“Blinded,” from his genre-hopping classic, Wake), all the way to unflinchingly romantic anthems of unrequited love (“Under Different Circumstances,” from 2010’s Release, maybe the best album of the decade so far) seem tailor-made to soundtrack your life down to every emotion. Perrone is a completely independent artist, writing and recording when he has the time or money to do so. In other words, he’s exactly the kind of artist who deserves a nationwide collective of dedicated fans, and I’m hoping this paragraph will at least get him a little bit closer to that goal. [CM]
    RIYL: Butch Walker, Dashboard Confessional, Augustana, Motion City Soundtrack
    Listen to Black Friday in its entirety

    Savages – London, England Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Savages, from London, England, are an all-female post-punk group who are able to make you feel like you are experiencing the genre at its birth. Their electrifying live shows and tunes recall all of the genre’s greats, from Joy Division to Siouxsie and the Banshees as well as the likes of Nick Cave and The Slits without any sense of gimmick. After the release of their debut album, Silence Yourself, via Matador and Pop Noire this year, the band have carved a well-needed spot for themselves in today’s scene. Ferocious, thought out and tenacious. [KH]
    RIYL: The Slits, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Iceage
    Listen to “Shut Up”

    State Lines – Long Island, NY
    Official Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: There’s an unabashed rawness to State Lines’s brand of punk rock that makes its latest release, For The Boats, incredibly endearing. Jonathan Dimitri’s raspy growl brings the intensity to the band’s pop-punk melodies, putting State Lines in the same boat as Tigers Jaw and the Sidekicks. But the band displays a heaviness that those bands also lack, as chaos and distortion reign on tracks like “Shit For Brains” and “The Same Mistake.” Don’t make the mistake of missing out on one of the most exciting new bands in punk. [DB]
    RIYL: Saves The Day, The Sidekicks, The Menzingers
    Stream For The Boats in its entirety

    Stolen Silver – Traverse City, MI/Chicago, IL Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: These hometown-heroes-turned-big-city-breakthroughs combined folk, rootsy Americana, and pop sensibility into an irresistible (and all-too-brief) swirl of melodic bliss on their criminally overlooked 2011 debut (available here), and we’re eagerly waiting for what’s next. Built up from the charismatic leading duo of vocalists and multi-instrumentalists Levi Britton and Dan Myers–both veterans of the pop-rock band Down the Line–Stolen Silver is a versatile six-piece outfit with effortless songwriting capability and one of the most fun live shows out there. If you live in Chicago or anywhere in the state of Michigan, look these guys up. [CM]
    RIYL: Martin Sexton, Born & Raised-era John Mayer, Van Morrison
    Listen to “I Stay Lonely”

    Swim Deep – Birmingham, England Profile | FacebookWhy We Like: With their feel-good grunge influenced pop, Swim Deep has released one of the albums of the summer with Where The Heaven Are We. A soundtrack to days and nights at the beach or on road trips with friends, it’s the perfect mix of melancholy and ecstasy. The band has been busy touring and performing at almost every festival possible this year and when you check out tracks like “Honey” and “King City” you can understand why. [KH]
    RIYL: Peace, The 1975, Wolf Alice, The Vaccines
    Listen to “The Sea”

    This Old Ghost – Upstate New York Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: This Old Ghost wrote the first great album I heard in the year of our lord 2013. Family Room is a jangly folk epic dishing out sweet flute melodies, boy/girl singing and songwriting that never stops at the tropes of the genre. There’s more love than loss, too. Which is always nice, especially in those frigid winter months when the world seems like a big gaping a**hole. It’s music you can rock out to in a rocking chair. And gosh darn if that doesn’t sound perfect right about now. [BS]
    RIYL: The Forecast, River City Extension, Good Old War, Lydia
    Listen to Family Room in its entirety

    Tilian – Clearwater, Florida Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Tilian is a traveling man. From Tides of Man to Dance Gavin Dance (and probably other shizz I know nothing about), he’s gone from niche to niche in this stupid little scene. But on his solo stuff he feels the most at home, banging out pop hits with his gorgeous, high-pitched voice. Songs like “Chemicals” and “Up in the Air” should probably be on the radio, and the light mix of electronics and pop-rock songwriting make Material Me the catchy beginning of big things. [BS]
    RIYL: Justin Timberlake, Tides of Man, just the groovy Dance Gavin Dance parts, Robin Thicke
    Listen to “Up In The Air”

    White Lodge – Boston, Massachusetts Profile| Facebook
    Why We Like: By year’s end, White Lodge will only have released six songs. But that just means placing them on a list like this not only makes sense, but could, who knows, just maybe help them. Featuring Cameron Boucher of screamo genuises Old Gray and Zach Weeks of Cerce (also heavy!), these two dudes craft some dream pop that could teach Youth Lagoon a thing or two about how to use a guitar. A love for The Smiths and just probably realizing that they might go deaf/mute from screaming all the time, these guys find a new way to release their angst and it sounds just as organic and thoughtful as you’d hope.[BS]
    RIYL: The Smiths; Wild Nothing; The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
    Listen to “Prom King”

    The 1975 – Manchester, UK Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: A few years down the line, someone, somewhere, will be asked to name a band that defined 2013. Chances are, they’ll say The 1975. Name changes galore and a long, hard slog on the local circuit filled most of the Manchester, England quartet’s early years, but in their debut self-titled record, they’ve produced the best pop-indie-electro-whatever-else-you-like rock records of recent times and become one of the UK’s best-loved bands at the drop of a hat. From frontman Matthew Healy’s crisp, nuanced vocal delivery to the band’s // Q U I R K Y // internet presence, these boys represent a wake-up call for every single indie band currently resting on their laurels and may already be the breakout band of the year to boot. [AB]
    RIYL: The xx, Jimmy Eat World and everything in between
    Listen to The 1975

    Artifex Pereo – Louisville, KY Profile | Official Facebook
    Why We Like: Artifex Pereo are masters of the chaotic element of hardcore that seems to be evaporating in this scene. Variety coupled with an itch for frantic songwriting gives them that addictive edge, and it is glorious. 2014 is looking to be their blow up year, as they record their sophomore album with Kris Crummett, their first with a new and fantastic vocalist. Trust me, this album will accompany big news for the band to reach out to more people and catapult them onto stages they deserve to be on and in the ears of those hungering for a genuine sound. Expect drastic dynamics between heavy riffs and smooth textures. Expect something unique. Expect Artifex Pereo. [SA]
    RIYL: Envy on the Coast, letlive, I, The Mighty
    Listen to “Suburbanite Sprawl”

    Bury Tomorrow – Hampshire, England Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: If someone were to ask me which bands from the U.K. would breakout here in America, I’d be quick to cite Bury Tomorrow as one of them. Why? This band has a good handful of songs that feature anthmatic choruses, mixed with pounding breakdowns (“Lionheart”, “Sceptres”). If the band continues to write they way they have on their prior two full-lengths, I could definitely see them experiencing the same type of success that Bring Me The Horizon had with Suicide Season. This band is taking off fast, and you’ll be seeing them here in the States in the near future. [JD]
    RIYL: Architects (UK), For The Fallen Dreams, The Ghost Inside
    Listen to “Knightlife”

    Captives – Eagle Mountain, UT Profile | Official FaceBook
    Why We Like: Even with only two EPs out, Captives should be a familiar name by now. They’re got everything to appeal to fans like staples Balance and Composure or Citizen – aggressive vocals, dynamic instrumentation, and saddening lyrics. They can be soft or loud; pissed off or introspective. While sometimes criticized for sounding too similar to their peers, Captives are a young band, and can only get better. And you really can’t complain when they sound as good as they do. [ZD]
    RIYL: Balance and Composure, Brand New, Citizen
    Listen to Afterimage in its entirety

    For All I Am – Los Angeles, CA Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: A lot of bands are flat out terrible at what they do, causing a lot of fans to dig through the muck and mire to find quality bands in the metalcore genre. That being said, For All I Am is a band that I definitely feel are overlooked by a lot of people, and would be experiencing success on a much larger scale if people took a chance to listen. I took the chance to talk to vocalist Aria Yavarinejad earlier this year, and he mentions that they like to “lift people up” with their lyrics, which seems to be a thing dying out nowadays, especially with bands like Attila experiencing hype at the moment. If you like powerful metalcore with a creative twist, then you need to check out For All I Am immediately. [JD]
    RIYL: The Color Morale, Fit For A King, Of Mice & Men
    Listen to “Oppressor”

    Ghost Parade – San Francisco, CA Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Some people love bands for their technicality, like Circa Survive or The Receiving End Of Sirens. Some go for grit, where bands like Balance & Composure or Letlive excel. Ghost Parade? Oh, they show both sides of the coin, creating a monstrous sound that’s alarmingly impressive for a band so young. Their Foundation EP just reeks with potential while showing a fairly mature sense of songwriting already. Don’t sleep on these guys – they could easily be massive [JA]
    RIYL: Circa Survive, Balance & Composure, Deftones
    Listen to the Foundation EP in its entirety

    Heart In Hand – Bournemouth, UK Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: This is a band I feel we’re going to be hearing from a lot in 2014, especially as they start to open packages here in the States. Making waves in the U.K. in 2011 with debut album Only Memories, the band then released their sophomore effort Almost There, which we exclusively streamed back in March. This band’s got a whole lot of heart, and fans of the genre are starting to take notice. [JD]
    RIYL: It Prevails, Landscapes, Counterparts
    Listen to “Almost There”

    Jason Isbell – Nashville, TN Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Originally from Greenhill, Alabama, Jason Isbell got his start when he jumped on tour with boozy southern rock band Drive-By Truckers in 2001 as a replacement third guitarist. After several years and two ridiculously great LPs (as well as a mediocre one), Isbell went solo in 2006 with Sirens of the Ditch. Since then Isbell has matured by leaps and bounds as a songwriter, particularly with his last two records–Here We Rest (2011) and this year’s Southeastern, an intensely personal album as well as his most consistent one to date. Newly married to singer-songwriter Amanda Shires, he tours as Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, and the band’s other four members and Shires are featured on most of his albums. Anybody interested in country music from Nashville but not of Nashville should keep both eyes on Jason Isbell for the next few years. [CC]
    RIYL: Ryan Adams, Hayes Carll, Son Volt
    Listen to Southeastern in its entirety

    Justin Townes Earle – New York, NY Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Justin Townes Earle isn’t the first country singer from far away to fall apart on record in New York City. His music is unique to his era, however: Memphis soul and old-Nashville twang meld in a way often referred to as “roots rock,” but his music is nothing if not fresh and full of life. His gentleman-barfly character snatches your attention, crooning in a honeyed voice on one song and hollering to the heavens in the next. Demons he may have, but Earle’s self-insight is piercing nonetheless. “When I was young, I was dumb and I was free,” he remarks, but concludes that “thirty years of running’s left me…most days wondering if I’ve ever really learned a thing at all.” [CC]
    RIYL: Bright Eyes, Lucero, Ryan Adams
    Listen to Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now in its entirety

    Keyes – San Diego, CA Profile | Bandcamp
    Why We Like: I’m not a huge fan of a lot of this band’s contemporaries, but for there’s just something about this band that I can’t get enough of. The band’s honest and heartfelt lyricism is mixed with ambient musicianship, which delivers one of hell of a statement that will be stuck in your head for quite some time.[JD]
    RIYL: Troubled Coast, Defeater, Pianos Become The Teeth
    Listen to “Eleanor Lamb”

    Knuckle Puck – Chicago, IL Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Love it or hate it, it’s difficult to argue that pop-punk isn’t in rude health right now. Barnstorming releases from big hitters like The Story So Far and The Wonder Years have piqued the interest of the masses, but there’s a new wave of bands vying for their status’ as pop-punk’s underdogs. By the sounds of these Chicago dudes’ fist sandwich of angst, hooks and a little more angst, one spot has already been taken. Free EP Don’t Come Home and new release The Weight That You Buried show more than enough promise to suggest that the future of the genre is in safe hands indeed.[AB]
    RIYL: The Story So Far, State Champs, Handguns
    Listen to The Weight That You Buried

    Kvelertak – Stavanger, Norway Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Norway’s Kvelertak are one of many black metal bands recently that have stood out from the crowd by incorporating other genres into the traditional black metal style. (Deafheaven’s shoegaze influence and Wolves in the Throne Room’s ambient black metal are other examples). However, Kvelertak differs from their peers in that they prefer to draw from a Pandora’s box of disparate styles of “heavy music.” Both of their records have been produced by Kurt Ballou of Converge and featured artwork by John Dyer Baizley of Baroness, both of which are bands that you can hear echoes of on 2013’s Meir. Kvelertak is a black metal band with a stylistic flair lifted from hard rock in the ilk of Guns ‘n Roses, but also sporting a punishing side rooted in hardcore. [CC]
    RIYL: Baroness, Mastodon, Fucked Up
    Listen to “Månelyst”

    Kyle Lucas – Marietta, GA Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: If you’re familiar with the band Vonnegutt, then you’ll definitely know who Kyle Lucas is. But if you don’t, just know he’s a slowly rising rap artist from Marietta, GA, who fits in well with other contemporaries such as G-Eazy and T.Mills. Lucas has a few songs that would fit nicely on a summer playlist, but that number will rise when his lyricism develops. If you’re on the fence about giving him your attention, you can see him on tour with Jonny Craig and William Beckett this fall. [JD]
    RIYL: T.Mills, G-Eazy, MOD SUN
    Listen to “Worth It (feat. Jonny Craig)”

    Lonely The Brave – Cambridge, UK Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Those in the UK will likely have heard a fair bit about Cambridge gentlemen Lonely The Brave. For the uninitiated, here’s the deal: LTB have been a band for a while, but only this year have they truly reared their perfectly formed, beautifully melodic head. The Brits deal in great big bursts of heartening, skyscraping rock which are tied together by one of the most stirring, expansive voices we’ve heard for a long, long time. Get your mitts on their October EP Backroads and create some real “I was there when…” moments before this band hits the stratosphere. [AB]
    RIYL: Deaf Havana, huge, melodic rock
    Listen to “Deserter”

    The Men – New York, NY Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: The Men are a fairly new Brooklyn band signed with Sacred Bones, but they’re have already released a torrent of music: we’ve gotten a new LP from them each of the last four years. Even more surprising has been the polarizing genre-hopping (or genre-ignoring really) the band has displayed. Immaculada and Leave Home were tortured, brutal post-hardcore records, but last year’s Open Your Heartwas a jam-laden dip into psychedelic fuzz rock. This year’s New Moon is even more of a surprise, putting the country rock influences present on the last record at the forefront, but still making time for a few noisy guitar jams. The band is hinting at a new record ready to go for early next year, so pay attention. [CC]
    RIYL: Dinosaur Jr, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Titus Andronicus
    Listen to “I Saw Her Face”

    METZ – Toronto, ON Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: METZ came out of nowhere last year with their blistering self-titled Sub Pop debut. METZis currently short-listed for the 2013 Polaris Prize in the band’s native Canada (the nation’s premier music award), and the band’s American club tour this spring was very well-received. Their music draws frequent comparisons with a plethora of Steve Albini-produced 90s post-hardcore bands, and it makes total sense given the group’s bass-heavy and incredibly noisy sound. They retain a sort of primal menace present in a lot of Albini’s work as a musician as well. What makes METZ stand out though is the way they channel their noise into tight two- to three-minute songs that churn furiously, avoiding typical structure. [CC]
    RIYL: The Jesus Lizard, Drive Like Jehu, Shellac
    Listen to “Headache”

    Moose Blood – Canterbury, UK Profile | Official FaceBook
    Why We Like: Moose Blood’s brand of poppy, catchy emo is pretty different from most of their peers. Not to say they’re entirely reinventing the wheel, but it’s hard to find a song as infectious as “Bukowski” or as single-worthy as “Moving Home” within the genre. These coffee-obsessed boys already have two releases out this year, with a split with Departures on the way. Emo’s re-surging, and Moose Blood are poised to be the next breakout band. [ZD]
    RIYL: You Blew It!, American Football, Hey Mercedes
    Listen to Moving Home in its entirety

    Now, Voyager – Brussels, Belgium Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: There’s no doubt you’ll run into a fair few similar bands of the course of this year’s Absolute 100, but we can safely say that Now, Voyager will be the only Belgian post-hardcore band you’ll check out this year. Contrasting brutish metalcore-cum-hardcore with subtle atmospherics, the Brussels crew don’t sound like much you’ll hear over the next 12 months, either. An incendiary live show and enthralling debut EP Tell-Tale Hearts are two prime reasons why Now, Voyager are one of the most exciting things to make the leap from mainland Europe for a long time. [AB]
    RIYL: Architects, Bury Tomorrow, clever post-hardcore
    Listen to “From The Brain”

    Scholar – Rochester, NY Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: As an staff member, many bands have asked me to listen to their music over the years. Scholar is one of the few that really stood out. Pop punk may not be known for its keen musicianship, but these guys impress me with their well-written songs, strong vocals and untouchable punk beats. Once they unleash their full-length debut this fall, I believe you’ll be hearing about them regularly. Inspired by the pop punk many of us fell in love with in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Scholar put a fresh spin on a familiar sound. [AD]
    RIYL: Blink 182, Rufio, Strung Out, Yellowcard
    Listen to “The Rift”

    Shane Henderson & The Future Perfect – Philadelphia, PA Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: You loved Valencia and Promise Of Redemption – it’s only logical that you’d love Shane Henderson’s latest tunes under The Future Perfect moniker. It’s good ol’ Shane, doing what he does best – writing great songs with accessibility, emotional-appeal and longevity. Henderson’s songwriting and voice are only amplified by bandmates Trevor Leonard and Will Noon, creating a trio that rivals all. The Control EP was a great start, and the band’s upcoming full-length should deliver even more good times. [JA]
    RIYL: Valencia, Jack’s Mannequin, The Dangerous Summer
    Listen to the Control EP in its entirety.

    Silent Planet – Los Angeles, CA Profile | Official Facebook
    Why We Like: There is an absolute aura of urgency and intensity when you listen to Silent Planet’s music. Maybe it comes with the dark thematic messages or the pulverizing instrumentation that never seems to let up – either way, it’s hauntingly invigorating. Strong djent-like technicality and odd metered structuring keeps you on your toes, while the blistering screams call for action. Pay very close attention to what will unfold, as a full length is planned for a November release. In the meantime, their stellar EP and insightful, eloquent take on spirituality should be enough to win you over. Silent Planet aren’t looking to become the next big thing, but rather an entity that leaves a striking example for others to follow. One listen and it’s fairly easy to become a lover. [SA]
    RIYL: Oh Sleeper, Architects (UK), Wolves at the Gate
    Listen to “Darkstrand (Hibakashu)”

    Some Stranger – Boston, MA Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Yeahyeahyeah, Tym was the vocalist of Daytrader, a band we all adored, yadayadayada. It’s time to get on board with his new band, Some Stranger – which might be better than his former. Working with visual artist/guitarist Daniel Danger, the tandem released their dynamite debut in April to all kinds of praise, with the promise that more’s on the way. Some Stranger are currently recording their full-length debut with Will Yip (Balance & Composure, Circa Survive, Title Fight) in a match made in Heaven. High expectations for this band. [JA]
    RIYL: Daytrader,
    Listen to Some Stranger’s debut EP in its entirety

    TRC – London, England Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Easily without a doubt No Sleep Record’s most polarizing band, you’ll know if you like this band or not fairly quickly, just give their debut album Bright Lights a listen. Chris Robson is the band’s competitive M.C., who is complimented by Anthony Carroll’s screamed vocals. They’re cocky, arrogant, and in your face, not to mention they have a massive amount of pride for the entire United Kingdom (“Team U.K.”). Seen on tour with bands like Bring Me The Horizon and The Acacia Strain, look for them to make a splash here in the States real soon, especially once their sophomore album Nation drops September 24th on No Sleep Records. [JD]
    RIYL: Brutality Will Prevail, Your Demise, E-Town Concrete
    Listen to “We Bring War”

    Tyler Carter – Atlanta, GA Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Tyler Carter has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard, make no mistake about that. Carter has been hard at work on a debut solo EP for most of 2013, but the rapid success of his main focus Issues finds him keeping his other ambitions on the backburner at the moment. That being said, it’s always great to him release new material, usually though his YouTube channel (“Collins Hill”, “Stayin’ Alive”), and I’ll be eagerly awaiting his next move. [JD]
    RIYL: Frank Ocean, Justin Timberlake
    Listen to “Lucy At Midnight”

    The Venetia Fair – Boston, MA Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Like the sideshow act from Hell, The Venetia Fair’s bastardized brand of rock and roll incorporates catchy melodies, a post-hardcore edge and carnival-style keyboard lines. The only thing more off-the-wall than their music is their chaotic live shows, where the band members show little regard for their instruments, themselves or the audience. They’ve successfully built a loyal cult of followers, culminating with their new album, Every Sick, Disgusting Thought We’ve Got In Our Brain, which they self-released earlier this year – but it’s only a matter of time before a label snatches them up and goes public with this dirty little secret. [AD]
    RIYL: Foxy Shazam, Panic at the Disco, My Chemical Romance, The Blood Brothers
    Listen to Every Sick, Disgusting Thought We’ve Got In Our Brain in its entirety

    Atu – Ann Arbor, MI Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Atu conveys a lot in his hip-hop beats, even though they lack what might make someone consider them hip-hop – a rapper. The exquisite instrumental record Pictures on Silence recalls certain aspects of Kanye’s early soul-based production, but brings it into a more modern world where the lines between electonic ambience and hip-hop are increasingly eroded. Atu is only twenty years old, but his work has the essence of someone who has experimented and toyed with an array of bass and R&B styles before deciding that he can improve on them himself. [RD]
    RIYL: Friendzone, Shlohmo, Kanye West
    Listen to Pictures on Silence

    Autre Ne Veut – New York, NY Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Autre Ne Veut is the stage name of R&B singer Arthur Ashin. The name is French and means “I want no other.” Ashin’s second album as Autre Ne Veut, Anxiety, was released earlier this year and has a lot of production work from Ford & Lopatin–that is, Daniel Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never and Joel Ford of Tigercity. Although the duo’s lush production would threaten to steal the spotlight from many singers, Ashin’s powerful vocals are clearly the focal point of Anxiety. His soulful and complex R&B hearkens back to some “less cool” 80s styles, and his melodies are powerful enough to get stuck in your head for days. Don’t write Autre Ne Veut off as part of the growing “hipster R&B” trend (gag at that term), because Ashin is doing something unique. [CC]
    RIYL: How to Dress Well, Miguel, Ford & Lopatin
    Listen to “Play by Play.”

    Blitz Kids – Nantwich, UK Profile | FacebookWhy We Like: They’re currently gearing up for the release of their sophomore album, but it’s still make or break time for Blitz Kids. The four-piece have been through a membership shake-up since the release of their debut record Vagrants & Vagabonds but judging by what we’ve heard so far, they’re hamming up their melodramatic fare even more for their as-yet untitled, John Feldmann-recorded follow-up. A fan of key changes, boys with feelings and uber-polished pop-rock? Come right this way. [AB]
    RIYL: Don Broco, Lower Than Atlantis, Lostprophets
    Listen to “Run For Cover”

    Captain, We’re Sinking – Scranton, PA Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Captain, We’re Sinking have been around a while and put out some very mediocre EPs and a listenable full-length a couple years ago, but I doubt anybody would’ve imagined them capable of writing a record of this caliber. The Future Is Cancelled is a powerful record. “Montreal” will find you shouting along, whilst the more somber tracks like “A Bitter Divorce” and “Annina We Will Miss You” will leave you in tears – damned if “I made a list of everything that I despise/ and I wrote your name down several times” isn’t a heavy lyric. Captain, We’re Sinking has the ability to make you genuinely feel something while keeping you singing along. [ZD]
    RIYL .moneen., The Menzingers, Tigers Jaw
    Just listen to The Future Is Cancelled in its entirety.

    Coastline – Rochester, UK Profile | FacebookWhy We Like: By rights, Coastline shouldn’t be on this list. By rights, Coastline should be a very big band indeed. With their clean cut image, their array of savvy pop-rock and the odd hook or five, these British boys ought to have taken our world be storm with March EP ‘Taken Under’. It didn’t happen, but give them a little time to produce another bunch of songs of that quality and everyone will surely be lining up to get a piece of the UK’s most unexplainable secret. [AB]
    RIYL: The Get Up Kids, Jimmy Eat World
    Listen to Taken Under

    Chance the Rapper – Chicago, IL Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Chance’s spastic, drug-addled raps caught people’s attention earlier this year when his second mixtape Acid Rap debuted at #63 on Billboard’s Top Hip-Hop/R&B Albums chart–an impressive feat for any self-release, but even more impressive given that Chance never authorized a single sale of the tape. Bootleg copies were being sold on Amazon MP3 and iTunes. Chance’s tape spread like wildfire due to his distinctive, almost cartoonish rapping style and the lush, heady production on Acid Rap. Hailing from Chicago but not really associated with any of the things currently going on with hip-hop in his city, Chance is a unique voice in the genre right now. [CC]
    RIYL: Danny Brown, Earl Sweatshirt, Captain Murphy
    Listen to Acid Rap in its entirety

    CHVRCHES – Glasgow, UK Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: CHVRCHES made quite a splash in the spring with their Recover EP, and their debut full-length will be released next week. Fronted by Lauren Mayberry, the Glasgow-based trio is rounded out by Iain Cook (formerly of Aerogramme, and Martin Doherty, a former live member of The Twilight Sad. Following a long, slow build-up that included the release of four of the strongest songs from the album being released as singles, The Bones of What You Believe will be released Sept. 23 in the UK and the next day stateside. Mayberry’s celestial vocals paired with Cook and Doherty ‘s airy electropop isn’t exactly a groud-breaking sound, but CHVRCHES’ sugary hooks are memorable nonetheless–enough so that Depeche Mode selected them as openers for part of their European tour back in July. They’ll be hopping back and forth on tour between the US and Europe through the end of the year. [CC]
    RIYL: Passion Pit, Sky Ferreira, Purity Ring
    Listen to “Recover”

    Decade – Bath, UK Profile | FacebookWhy We Like: Apart from those who are really something special, the majority of pop-punk bands aren’t that great when they start out. Decade were just the same, but the good news is that putting in the hard yards on tour and having more than a smidge of talent has seen them find their feet of late. New track “Brainfreeze” is a breakneck wake up call that sees the Bath, UK lads establishing themselves as one of British pop-punk’s major forces and transcending their no-mark peers. [AB]
    RIYL: Me Vs Hero, Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!, Set Your Goals
    Listen to “Brainfreeze”

    Dirty Beaches – Montreal, QC Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Dirty Beaches is Alex Zhang Hungtai, a Taiwanese-born musician now based in Montreal. He makes gritty but visceral lo-fi rockabilly music, and is starting to gain a lot of attention for his impassioned live shows. However, his double album Drifters / Love Is the Devil, released earlier this year to critical acclaim, is a bit of a departure from his previous trajectory. While the songs on the first half of the album are in the vein of his previous work, the second half of the record is instrumental and more ambient, showing off Hungtai’s skill as a composer. The music he makes may not be for everyone, but if dark rockabilly highly influenced by the music of NYC’s 80s no-wave movement sounds like it might be up your alley, then check out Dirty Beaches. [CC]
    RIYL: The Cramps, The Soft Moon, Suicide
    Listen to “Casino Lisboa”

    Hacktivist – Milton Keynes, UK Profile | FacebookWhy We Like: Now here’s a band who are infinitely better than any label or description we can slap on them. Djent-y rap-rock upstarts (seriously, trust us on this one) Hacktivist have already mastered the art of getting a crowd insanely hyped, then proceeding to slay them with their small but impressive selection of self-aware, politically charged jams. Plus, any band that can cover “Ni**as In Paris” and pull it off with aplomb must be more than alright. [AB]
    RIYL: TesseracT, rap-rock, getting your head kicked in
    Listen to “Elevate”

    Hail The Sun – Chico, CA Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Unpredictable is the best adjective I can assign Hail The Sun. The second would be sassy. Cleverly assembled but bombastically presented, the groups latest EP, Elephantitis, is different. There is no proclivity, no fixation to one sound. Instead, we’re given a tongue in cheek conceptualized record that flaunts and exaggerates that fun and diverse post hardcore sound that began to take itself too seriously years ago. Jazz, blues, funk: you name it, Hail The Sun’s got it, all in a high energy that never really seems to end, just simply transform. If one thing is to be expected though, it’s the witty lyrics, the catchy melodies and over the top technical skills that help to seal the deal. Doctor’s orders, take some more. [SA]
    RIYL: The Fall of Troy, The Sound of Animals Fighting, A Lot Like Birds
    Listen to Elephantitis EP in its entirety

    The Haxan Cloak – London, UK Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: The Haxan Cloak’s records ought to come with a warning similar to a roller coaster – do not listen if you have a heart condition or are susceptible to anxiety attacks. This year’s Excavation sees The Haxan Cloak return to the brink, dragging you behind him before throwing you into the grave where claustrophobia is as likely to incite catharthis as it is a panic attack about your own life. Bridging the gap between life and death with foreboding, throbbingly horrifying audible representations of the afterlife and the experience of death, the Haxan Cloak might well be Charon in disguise. [RD]
    RIYL: Zomby, Forest Swords, Andy Stott
    Listen to “The Mirror Reflecting (Part Two)”

    Ryan Hemsworth – Toronto, Ontario Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Ryan Hemsworth is a rising star in the dance music scene, as he manages to find the concealed sentimentality of trap-rap and extract it to combine with more straightforward dance and ambient sounds. It’s fitting in the background of a deeply personal conversation or as a source of solace when you’re alone. His swirling, somber hues are quickly pervading a variety of worlds as he remixes pop singles, contributes to hip-hop albums, and releases his own standalone material. [RD]
    RIYL: Bauuer, Shlohmo, Jacques Greene
    Listen to “Perfectly”

    Jon Hopkins – London, UK Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Jagged yet welcoming, Jon Hopkins’ unique brand of dance came to our attention after years in the industry collaborating with giants like Brian Eno and Coldplay. This years breakthroughImmunity sees Hopkins removing himself from the ambience of the natural world and retreating into an artificial one of his own making, where complacent serenity is found in eight minute dance epics. Anyone who believes that emotion has to be compromised for the sake of dance-ability has never heard Hopkins’ brand of techno. [RD]
    RIYL: Brian Eno, Purity Ring, Fuck Buttons
    Listen to “Open Eye Signal

    Infinity Crush – College Park, Maryland Profile | Bandcamp
    Why We Like: With a voice that exudes the warmth of a hearth, Caroline White’s solo project isn’t all that far removed from Julia Brown’s brand of lo-fi indie pop. White’s voice fills the palpable natural space that the recording environment, but it isn’t because she’s a bombastic pop star – she’s vulnerable and bashful, uncertain of much more than the way she feels as she sings. Brisk in pace and atmosphere, Infinity Crush never overstays it’s welcome; and you’re as welcome to curl up with White’s voice for as long as you’d like.[RD]
    RIYL: Julia Brown, Laura Stevenson, Ricky Eat Acid
    Listen to “Alaskan Spring Break”

    Julia Brown – College Park, MD Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Julia Brown is a lo-fi indie pop band featuring members of Teen Suicide, a short-lived band that made a pretty big impact on a pretty small number of people last fall with I Will Be My Own Hell Because Their Is a Devil Inside My Body. Although the arrangements on Julia Brown’s fantastic debut To Be Close to You may be sunnier than the group’s work as Teen Suicide, the entire EP was recorded through a casette deck and is very lo-fi, and vocalist Sam Ray maintains the same slightly tortured approach to pop music that caught people’s attention the first time around. His songs are incredibly poignant vignettes–of that time he “saw you in the library” or that time he took valium during the first snow of the year. Ray captures emotions in his lyrics in a somewhat indirect way but his songs have a very direct impact on the listener. [CC]
    RIYL: Built to Spill, Heatmiser, The Shins
    Listen to To Be Close to You in its entirety

    NK – Long Island, NY Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: NK radiates style. Minimalistic structures are wrapped in sonic flourishes that come in many forms, be they devastating guitar tones, vocal distortion, fat bass lines, warm synth, or head nodding drum riffs that perfectly accentuate the rhythmic motion of each track. Their debut full length nods at alternative metal and hardcore veterans while simultaneously fusing darker pop elements together in erratic fashions that oddly enough work wonders. Enigmatic lyrics and a keen sense of melody help to solidify a part whimsical, part disturbing album that leaves you listening over and over again just to figure out what exactly is going on. That’s what it will to take to not feel disoriented from the wild ride it provides. Don’t let the title fool you. There is certainly much to be gained from NK. [SA]
    RIYL: Glassjaw, Rage against the Machine, Deftones. Kinda.
    Listen to Nothing To Be Gained Here in its entirety

    Rat Attack – Exeter, UK Profile | FacebookWhy We Like: Exeter, UK four-piece Rat Attack are an odd one. Sometimes confusing, often spectacular but never boring, their rollicking, rousing, rampaging rock is up there with the very best already. For the most part, their new (and free) self-titled EP is stuffed with party-ready punk rock and whilst a guest spot from We Are The Ocean’s Liam Cromby has done much to draw the spotlight, Rat Attack already have everything in place to ensure they succeed all by themselves. [AB]
    RIYL: We Are The Ocean crossed with The Bronx
    Listen to Rat Attack

    Run the Jewels – Atlanta, GA & New York, NY Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Run the Jewels is the pairing of Killer Mike and El-P. El-P did all the production Mike’s excellent R.A.P. Music last year, and this summer saw them put out a purely collaborative album together. Mike has been on a roll as an emcee of late, delivering verse after verse that absolutely destroys the competition. But he doesn’t eclipse El-P here, rather El-P holds his own quite well. Even in the studio booth Mike and El-P have an obvious synergy and the way in which they riff off of each other’s verses is simply a blast. Run the Jewels is one of the most fun hip-hop records of the year, but it’s also one of the most consequential as, in keeping with both rappers’ underground mentality, they largely reject the topics of wealth and power that dominate mainstream hip-hop, and Mike in particular has valuable social insight on songs like “DDFH.” [CC]
    RIYL: Madvillain, Outkast, Clipse
    Listen to Run the Jewels in its entirety

    Smallpools – Los Angeles, CA Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Smallpools are four dudes with the pop songwriting abilities of about 4 million. Their one and only self-titled EP is four songs of guitar/synth-driven summer anthems. Hit song “Dreaming” even comes with the appropriate house party music video complete with *spoiler alert* an “it was all a dream” ending. But it’s the other songs that make Smallpools really something special. Tracks like “Mason Jar” and “No Story Time” take what we expect to be regular ol’ dance-influenced pop music and make it more rock and, somehow, even more catchy. It’s music your dumb friends won’t mind hearing on the way to the beach, but that you can still listen to when you’re feeling a little, ahem, contemplative before bed. Everyone wins. [BS]
    RIYL: Grouplove, Atlas Genius, Phoenix
    Stream their Self-Titled EP on Soundcloud

    The SpacePimps – Pittsburgh, PA Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: The SpacePimps exemplify the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Although their name is undeniably awful, their infectious pop punk music is anything but. Like many of us, the band is a product of the Drive-Thru Records era, reminiscent of heavyweights like Blink 182, New Found Glory and Fall Out Boy. Everything you need to know about The SpacePimps can be summed up by their song “Tradition,” which features the lyrics: “We have to thank all of you, of course / We did it on our own without label support / Yeah, we’re talking to you / Everyone who said bands like us were through.” [AD]
    RIYL: Blink 182, New Found Glory, The Starting Line, Fall Out Boy, Yellowcard
    Listen to Eternal Boy in its entirety

    The Speed of Sound In Seawater – Elk Grove, CA Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Engagingly sweet and sophisticated, The Speed Of Sound In Seawater have been off exploring untraversed territory for the band, including festive acoustics and fully orchestrated movements. There’s plenty of mathy goodness waiting to be heard, now with hints of mellow and twinkly instrumentals that just make you smile and relax. Especially with fall around the corner, The Speed of Sound In Seawater are prepared to help you ease into that bouncy, light-hearted feeling you’ve been waiting all year for. [SA]
    RIYL: TTNG, Cats and Cats and Cats, Tera Melos
    Listen to First Contact in its entirety

    Valise – Dallas, TX Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: I can’t pretend that I’ve been a fan of the band for long, but Valise had me with just one song. There’s just something about that blooming summery sound and warm electronics that feels fantastic, characteristics that You Are My Sunshine and Beneath Medicine Tree share and captivated me with. It’s like you’re looking out at something, the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen, with the sun beaming right behind it and at that perfect angle that creates a glistening halo to outline every shape. Valise will make you experience such a synesthestia, I can almost guarantee it. And so, I may not have been a fan since the beginning, but I believe that if they continue to release material of this caliber, I’ll be a fan until the end. [SA]
    RIYL: Copeland, Alive In Wild Paint, Paper Rival
    Listen to the single “Monster”

    Vela Ceras – Nashville, TN Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Having just left the studio with Roy Mitchell Cardenas (Mutemath), Vela Ceras has new material on the way that will definitely please the AP community, with a new and improved sound. Incredibly massive tones for every traditional instrument (and other not so traditional instruments) are manifested in experimental ways, that burst into dance rhythms with intricate guitar lines, styled back and slicked up in a greaser-esque anthem. Laced with massive hooks, sweeping organ lines, popping bass and percussive riffs, Vela Ceras are on the verge of releasing my favorite songs of 2013. In the meantime, you can enjoy the more avante garde work featured in their debut EP, When We Fold. We’ll be sure to have a taste of the new tracks very soon. [SA]
    RIYL: Closure In Moscow, HRVRD, The Mars Volta
    Listen to When We Fold EP in its entirety

    Waxahatchee – New York, NY Profile | Facebook
    Why We Like: Wacahatchee is the solo moniker of Alabama-born but Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield, also of PS Eliot. She writes catchy and taught pop songs that revolve around the confusion and banality of being a twenty-something in New York, and this year’s Cerulean Salt particularly seems to delve into the darker side of romantic relationships and commitment. While her solo debut American Weekend was largely acoustic, she’s traded that in for scuzzy pop-punk guitars this time around. Crutchfield doesn’t really break any new ground on Cerulean Salt, but fans of lyrical but simplistic guitar pop should find something to remember in her songs. [CC]
    RIYL: Liz Phair, Laura Stevenson, Swearin’
    Listen to “Swan Dive”


    Steve Alcala [SA]; Jack Appleby [JA]; Drew Beringer [DB]; Andy Biddulph [AB]; Chris Collum [CC]; Ryan Dennehy [RD]; Jake Denning [JD]; Alex DiVincenzo [AD]; Kelly Doherty [KD]; Zac Djamoos [ZD]; Ryan Gardner [RG]; Kyle Huntington [KH]; Craig Manning [CM]; Thomas Nassiff [TN]; Dre Okorley [DO]; Adam Pfleider [AP]; Deborah Remus [DR]; Blake Solomon [BS]

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