All you have to do is sing, “Havana, ooh na-na,” and whoever’s in your vicinity will respond, “Half of my heart is is Havana ooh na-na.” That song is inescapable, the single that made Cabello’s departure from Fifth Harmony suddenly seem like an excellent career move, and her debut solo album Camila is chock-full of hooks. In September, she played two festivals back-to-back, and she also recently played a sold-out string of tour dates with Alvvays and Snail Mail (what you might call an indie fan’s dream lineup). Her full-length debut, which came out earlier this year, is packed with sonic ideas that each evolve in three minutes or less. This fall, an artist found her voice. At a time when zonked-out, robotic trap music has gone from an innovation to a cliché, the group’s pair of Gangin albums represent some of the most vibrant and inviting hip-hop on the market. On the R&B cloaked trap-rap “Lavish Lullaby,” he raps in auto-tune at one point, before playing sax and crooning silky stacked vocal loops at the other. (Or not, if her debut was more “Why Did You Do That?” and less “Always Remember Us This Way.”). All Rights Reserved. Nemuri is carving something completely new out of recycled pieces. The group combined esoteric sound design, peculiar lyrics, and incredibly catchy melodies to create 2018’s most unique release, one that will fascinate producers for years to come. But even as they tackle the anxieties and insecurities of modern life, they invite you to lose yourself to the beat — because in this house of feelings, the biggest room is euphoria. So get familiar with Stereogum’s 40 Best New Bands Of 2018, presented in alphabetic order, below. She no longer identifies as Christian, and instead practices a sort of self-communion, writing and recording music as Tomberlin. And then listen to the way the music of Halifax punks Booji Boys positively drips with sweat. The movie is unrealistic wish fulfillment, but her upward trajectory embodies our hope for all artists, at least on a smaller scale: to become popular enough to follow their muse without sacrificing their integrity, to provide us with music that has a lasting impact. It’s lavish. I Need To Start A Garden, Haley Heynderickx’s debut LP, is the sound of such cultivation paying off. –Tom, Here’s The Full List Of 2021 Grammy Nominations. It’s even better for her listeners: She’s such a smart writer with a finely honed sense of melody that her music amounts to a joyful discovery for the rest of us, too. –Tom, There have been other bands like Thyla, groups looking to decades past and mining the impressionistic soundscapes of shoegaze. Here are the freshest, most exciting new artists from the year, as voted on by the Paste music staff: The story of music in 2018 was actually made up of a bunch of different stories. “Sure,” the first song on Sugar & Spice, uses looping drum machines and consistent synth, but it’s softened by soft acoustic guitar as Hatchie fires off question after question. They might remind you why some long-discarded version of yourself used to love this stuff. “Growing up I studied classical voice, so I was always concerned with singing correctly,” says Folick. Deaths. And on lead-off track “Soft Stud,” a marvelously fuzzed-out rock lean-in, Paul goes for the personal, singing “Need you, want you” over and over, perfectly summing up the desperate feelings surrounding new, perhaps forbidden, love. The way I can best summarize the aftermath of going to see Shame is that you’ll suddenly feel like you’ve been christened with the ability to perform some act of superhuman physical strength. Rico recently released her major-label debut, Nasty, after years of sharing mixtapes with her growing audience. –Gabriela, Caroline Sallee’s whisper takes many forms across No Fool Like An Old Fool, her sophomore album as Caroline Says. Others, like Tierra Whack, seemingly fell out the sky and created art so profound and different and important, we’ll be ruminating on their genius for years to come. If they decide to return with more of that noble country-rock, you’ll find me cheering them all the way to album release day. But it’s the confidence with which the 22-year-old delivers an unprecedented creative leap across these songs that shows what a rare breed she is. The band has been releasing music since 2016, but they really picked up steam with Weekend Rocker, a beery rush of an album full of muddy guitar tones and adrenalized hooks. In the grand Bay Area tradition, they’ve got bounce, they’ve got swagger, and they’re a hell of a lot of fun. Best New Bands October 29, 2018 10:02 AM By Stereogum This fall, an artist found her voice. So although these ladies aren’t technically “new artists,” their supergroup is new, and music in 2018 is better for it. —Ellen Johnson, © 2020 Paste Media Group. As subgenres bloomed and bloomed, it seemed a greater number of more diverse identities were spotlighted than ever before. And yet they still give off that conquer-the-world vibe — young guys doing their best to impress each other and somehow catching a zeitgeist-wave. With their debut EP on the way, Thyla are still changing and exploring. Her debut album, At Weddings, is made up of 10 personal ceremonies, quiet hymns of introspection. Their breakthrough tape, Liberating Guilt And Fear, channels the pop punk and hardcore that fueled their previous projects, but there’s a candy-colored sheen to these songs that glimmers beneath scuzzy production. —Ellen Johnson, Portland, Ore., singer-songwriter Haley Heynderickx, already oft-compared to the likes of Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell, offers an imaginative, mystical sort of folk music—“doom folk,” she calls it—concerned with both the heavens above our heads and the dirt beneath our feet, from which her garden grows. While Shannen Moser might be based in Philadelphia now, she hails from nearby Berks County, more of a small-town rural area. –Chris, The breadth of influences Sorry displays is impressive, especially for such a young group. –Tom, “Boo’d Up” was everything you could want in a hit single, a plush, sleek ’90s throwback swooning with the intoxicating power of new love. It’s radiant. Bridgers, Baker and Dacus pack a novel’s worth of narrative and as many masterful melodies (not to mention harmonies) into just 21 minutes that will leave you feeling as if you’ve had the wind knocked right out of you. The band is back to work in 2018 and focused on writing and recording their highly anticipated second record. –Julia, If you’re from Pennsylvania, the state’s landscape can seem nondescript. them. Many of the songs lack choruses, but the verses are delivered with flowing beauty and genuine conviction. Over the years, how many bands have come and gone who could create enveloping atmospheres but didn’t have the songwriting to guarantee the kind of dream you remember when you wake up? –Chris, LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA / Baltimore, MD, Veteran is hardly JPEGMAFIA’s first release, but it is his first one that sounds fully-formed. The Japanese artist mixes elements from J-pop, rap, post-hardcore, noise, and electronica and sets the genre concoction on fire. Hatchie’s irresistible dream-pop is sugar to the ear, but it’s not always lyrically sweet. She keeps a food diary to retain some modicum of control over her life, draws a line from sine triangles and biblical sin to “two-faced bitches,” mispronounces words as a power move, and tunes her guitar to echo each sentiment. Depending on your mood and general disposition, you could very well be “the bitch with the long hair and her top off” like Rico. Submerged in padded synth, it sounds weathered and knowing. Words like “angry,” “energetic” and “explosive” have been thrown around in discussions of their debut album Songs of Praise, but the adjectives don’t really do them justice. In A Star Is Born , Ally Campana goes from unknown to sensation in under a year. It’s worldly. To determine the most popular bands of the last 10 years, 24/7 Wall St. generated an index based on sales for albums released between 2008 to 2018, … It’s vibrant. Jordan is a definite talent. Femme Florale is a towering quartet, each song epic in its own right. In “Sure,” the verse and chorus and refrain are in open war for which part can be the catchiest, while “Sleep” boasts a synth riff that is incredibly, giddily addictive. is an album about learning to make space for yourself, unmatchable in both its earnestness and ferocity. Instead, they’re operating within grand continuums — of New Zealand indie romantics, of ‘90s-besotted power-poppers, of hook-happy slackers with fuzz pedals and big hearts. “It’s all in your head/ It’s all in your head,” she sings. Energetic production mimics his lighthearted wit, each punchline matched with its sonic equivalent. “Look Alive” underscored and amplified BlocBoy’s effortless flow, his words hitting with the same ease and intensity as his jerky gyrations. The debut from rock supergroup boygenius has only one real flaw: it’s much too short. It’s trendy. —Jim Vorel, Read Paste’s list of 15 Bands That Kickass Despite Awful Band Names, Lindsey Jordan’s first EP as Snail Mail in 2016 won over critics and fans with its subdued power and studied melancholy, revealing a songwriter well beyond her 16 years. Raised in Southern California by a Japanese mother and a Russian-Italian father, she eventually shifted her career trajectory in college from acting to singing. Lala Lala’s strength lies in West’s voice and the glitchy melodies she writes make what could just be another indie rock project sound fresh and exciting. The band’s two dynamic poles are childhood friends Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen, and the project leaves enough space for them to shine as songwriters in their own right. In a place like Halifax, you have to make your own fun. Some, like “For Cheez (My Friend, Not The Food),” are touching. Bat Fangs relishes in excess, with slick riffs and a charismatically goofy sense of fun that still manages to get to the heart of some pretty deep issues. –Tom Breihan, Anna Burch isn’t exactly new. These people come from all backgrounds and make music of all styles—from rap to power-pop, folk to art-rock—but they all had something to say in 2018, and they said it well. “They don’t love you, do they?” she asks during the magic-hour-esque “Intro,” her clear and comfortingly relatable voice singing the first of many questions she poses throughout the album. “Heels” was a roiling, cathartic pop song that defied easy categorization, and much of her forthcoming debut Crush On Me follows suit. The daughter of an Argentine father and Filipina mother, Zeiguer has described Old Ghost as an album of self-discovery, and the idea of music-as-catharsis has worked out well for her. That unique charisma runs through his Simi mixtape. It sounds like one, too. The band locks into a painterly blend of post-rock and emo that’s elevated by L Morgan’s capacious voice. Their debut full-length YBN: The Mixtape is all unrealized potential, weighed down with repetitive beats and unfortunate guest spots. As far back as Thyla’s early, powerhouse singles like “Pristine Dream” and “Tell Each Other Lies,” Duthie immediately proved herself a force to be reckoned with, a singer capable of sounding like a hurricane even amidst all the layers and intensity of Thyla’s music. “Upon realizing I don’t know anything, there’s a lazy sense of glee,” Gish sighs, adopting the perspective of a city rat. Pop/Rock, International, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Central European Traditions, German Bethlehem 1990s - 2010s But it’s hard to remember another band that’s attained the peculiar, almost-paradoxical balance Thyla has: the anxious forward momentum of post-punk and the brooding and heaviness of grunge underpinning the melancholic-then-transcendent parabolas of prime dream-pop. Since then, she’s graduated high school, toured with the likes of Waxahatchee and Girlpool, and was featured in a roundtable of female rock musicians for the New York Times. Her songs, namely her debut album I Need to Start a Garden (one of Paste’s 2018 favorites), search for answers in a way that suggests she’s already found plenty, from the fierce kindness of “The Bug Collector” to the moving self-examination of “Worth It” and the lighthearted spontaneity of her breakout single, “Oom Sha La La.” Drawing from her religious upbringing and Filipino heritage, Heynderickx brings both a searching spirituality and an endearing sense of humor to her music, as when she envisions God as a woman with a knock-off Coach bag, “thick hips and big lips” on “Untitled God Song.” It’s the perfect encapsulation of her work: a search for meaning that finds humanity wherever it blooms. –Tom, It takes a lot to make a big impression with just four tracks, but Bristletongue do just that on their debut EP. Brianna Hunt’s songs seem to materialize out of nothing and hover gracefully over barren wastelands, like God leading the Israelites as a pillar of fire. But the Jamaican-born, Virginia-raised Masego and his “trap house jazz” do this well. —Ellen Johnson, It’s not often that a singer has such a powerful voice that they transcend whatever genre they’re unwillingly lumped into. The new one is one giant flex — a wicked storm of lo-fi beats, goth and emo flavor, and immutable personality. –Peter, Sarah Tudzin is the full package: a gifted producer, songwriter, singer, lyricist, melodicist, and instrumentalist whose album Kiss Yr Frenemies is one of the best debuts in recent memory. There’s always glimmer. The naked instrumentation mirrors the transparency of her lyrics and while the songs consist of just a few elements, her overflowing emotions make the tracks feel full and warm. It fucking rocks, full stop. Simultaneously self-deprecating and profound, Maltese wrote a record detailing life as a 21-year-old girl-obsessed Brit attempting to find love as the world collapses via Trump and Brexit—and it’s one of the most enjoyable debut releases of the year. The beats are off-kilter, and her vocals are both delicately and aggressively manipulated in a range of ways to fit the scene. The 15 Chicago Bands You Need To Know in 2018 By Lizzie Manno & Justin Kamp November 8, 2018 | 10:50am 15 Washington D.C. Bands You Need To Know in 2018 By Lizzie Manno September 20, 2018 | 9:40am Lots of rappers claim to be God, but few approach the beat with such a still, small voice. So it should come as no surprise, then, that the debut album from New Zealand-based rockers The Beths, Future Me Hates Me, is sharply self-aware. Her folk-rock songs sneak up on you with sudden bursts of beauty or intensity, never more so than when she finds herself wailing the album title in a frantic fit of catharsis on “Oom Sha La La.” It’s a rare moment of lost composure from one of this year’s most assured new singer-songwriters. And, stubbornly, we still call it Best New Bands, even though a lot of the inclusions on this list aren’t bands at all, because why change a good thing when it’s working? It’s clever. There’s a sing-song quality to the music she makes as Lala Lala, an intentional silliness that belies the distress beneath. One of those storytellers is Portland-based Katherine Paul, who released her debut album, Mother of My Children, as Black Belt Eagle Scout in August. –James, Lillie West picked the perfect band name. It sways with a jangly guitar, breathing new perspective into familiar indie rock. —Scott Russell, Watch Haley Heynderickx’s 2018 Paste Studio session, Brooklyn art-rock five-piece Bodega are well aware of their city’s storied underground rock traditions, but rather than pilfering that sound, they decided to add something fresh to the city’s lineage. Their mutual experiences are what unite them, and that bond bleeds through this music in every buzzing, beautiful bar. She grew up on a tiny Indian reservation in Washington, and her indigenous identity is perhaps what informs her musings on nature and our relationship to it. –Peter Helman, An Arkansas native, Ashley McBryde had spent a full decade in Nashville, trying to get a country music career going, before her tough and elegant song “A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega” finally got the ball rolling. Many of these names will be familiar to regular Stereogum readers, present in our daily music posts and Band To Watch column. But on Will This Do?, the project’s full-length full-band debut, she’s looking outward for answers — from the cosmos, from her ancestry and hometown, from her friends and potential partners. –Julia, A couple months ago, Sir Babygirl seemed to appear out of nowhere with the single “Heels.” As an introduction to Kelsie Hogue the songwriter, you couldn’t ask for a more effective or attention-grabbing track. Tudzin is bone dry in delivering her lyrics, which pair the everyday with the profound in a startling, hilarious fashion. Girl Going Nowhere, McBryde’s debut album, is a gorgeously lived-in, righteously sad, painstakingly crafted piece of work. In A Star Is Born, Ally Campana goes from unknown to sensation in under a year. Old Ghost features a bounty of taut, deceptively robust arrangements that mix airy synths with bursts of guitar and Zeiguer’s voice, which is a perfect balance between sweetness and sinew. It’s rugged. –Julia Gray, Think of how hard it must be to work up a sweat in a place as cold and remote as Halifax, Nova Scotia. It’s escapist. On tracks like “Prone” and “Queen Tings” he proves a singular force behind elegant contemporary productions. Parcels feels miraculously out-of-place, conjuring ghosts of music movements past. Sometimes you relate to a debut album so intensely you wonder if the band or artist robbed your heart and mind before heading into the studio. If you revisit our lists from 2017, 2016, 2015, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010, you’ll find that we’ve been pretty on-point. –James, GOOD Job, You Found Me, Valee’s debut EP for Kanye’s West’s record label, goes a long way toward explaining the Chicago rapper’s appeal: that delicate, meticulous “old-timey tiptoeing burglar” delivery that makes even boilerplate rhymes sound good and renders him a genius when setting an evocative scene like so: “Walked in Shell, flamed up a L/ Bumpy Margiels, feel like braille/ Dirty ass ginger ale, came through the mail/ I fucked your girl, in the hotel.” But summer smash “Womp Womp,” on which R&B stud Jeremih imitates Valee’s flow, most clearly encapsulated his glory. Normally a band emerges with a signature sound and branches out from there, but the UK four-piece have made it a point not to be pigeonholed. That’s a huge accomplishment in itself, considering the broken dam of music constantly rushing our way through channels both digital and natural. Booji Boys are named for a Devo reference, but they offer messy catharsis instead of twitchy and precise theory. Their very first LP, Maybe Later, could pass as an EP at only seven songs, but it’s nonetheless an impressive musical flex. You never quite know where Hogue is going to go next, and that’s part of what makes her great: This is the sound of someone emerging, shaking loose old hang-ups and anchors, to seize life and make art that reflects it in all its messiness. The band’s debut, Kiss Yr Frenemies, is a really fun and smart indie-rock album—one of the year’s best, for that matter. It’s grotesque. “Sometimes I think I’m doing fine / I think I’m pretty smart,” she sings on the album’s title track before, later, completing the thought: “Oh then the walls become thin / And somebody gets in / I’m defenseless.” On dizzying love song “Little Death,” she captures and tames all the butterflies swarming around in her stomach: “And the red spreads to my cheeks / You make me feel three glasses in.” The Beths sound as if they’re already three albums in, playing with the musical and lyrical finesse of a much older and more experienced band. It’s an old sound, and yet it’s a sound that never gets old. Occasionally leaning harder on the pop half of the dream-pop equation, Hatchie arrived armed with hook after hook. On the explosive “Mine/Yours,” she explores the dichotomy of the title with her remarkable voice and a rollicking forward momentum. It eventually quells as Paul beckons in a revelation. But while fellow Aussies like Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and Hatchie lean more indie rock, Parcels are an entirely different animal: Parcels is the long-awaited dance party from the funk-friendly quintet of Daft Punk protégés, proof that disco isn’t dead and never was. Not long after that, Black Dresses put out the HELL IS REAL EP. Signs of internal turmoil are spilling over into the public, and solo careers beckon. The Wonka-esque visual release from the Philadelphia rapper sees 15 tracks spread across 15 minutes, each with a unique theme, and there’s a distinct sense of evolving maturity from Whack as the tracks unfold. It’s brutal, ballistic, hellishly discordant cyborg rock in which even the dreamy reprieves are rapidly swallowed up by nightmares. Frontwoman Emily Braden’s lyrics, too, represent both genres: Sometimes she’s a fierce southern woman with a sharp tongue: “Oh honey, what’s all the fuss about?” she sings on “Oh Honey,” a song about sharing a crush with her friend. –James, Many Rooms’ debut album is called There Is A Presence Here, and it sure sounds that way. They’ve each released a critically-adored solo LP in the last year or so and have thusly been swamped with promotional duties and live performances. They put a fresh spin on old rock ‘n’ roll clichés, turning them on their head and reminding you why those clichés endured in the first place. It sounds warm and comfortable, confident yet understated. —Eric R. Danton, Read Paste’s 2018 interview with Renata Zeiguer, Veteran producer and engineer Sarah Tudzin has worked on albums for major players like Slowdive, Amen Dunes and Macklemore (oh, and the Hamilton soundtrack, nbd). You can also listen to a playlist of our picks on Spotify. Neighbor Lady, also consisting of Jack Blauvelt, Merideth Hanscom and Andrew McFarland, have the power to bring honor to both the steel guitar and the reverb pedal. –James Rettig, An American original. Sir Babygirl, as a project, is overflowing with ideas and influences, colliding into an idiosyncratic, colorful, and often overwhelming sound. “And that brings to the end of what we hope has been a beautiful trip for you and yours,” Dean Dawson sings in the album’s flight-inspired credits. Instead, they met up while playing Grand Theft Auto online and freestyling into their headsets. This year, however, she made an excellent album of her own, with some help from “a rotating selection of her bffs,” per the Illuminati Hotties Facebook page. The viral, immediate fame that ALLY comes by in A Star Is Born is a rarity; instead, it’s usually a slow and steady climb. Some veteran artists, like those in boygenius and Phantastic Ferniture’s Julia Jacklin, assembled new bands and fronted exciting side hustles. It’s a motorik grind, the bass and drums locking into a fast and tense lockstep while jittery and molten riffage erupts from the guitar and frontwoman Ali Carter talks her shit: “Your false authority is dreadfully boring to me.” The band’s debut album can’t come soon enough. Ultra Beauty count themselves among the same scene that, in recent years, has birthed Priests and Flasher and many more acts that espouse radical politics in songs that go down smooth. She likens the arid setting to her aging body: “I used to love this town…I was born and will be buried.” Time passes and she remains an “Old Fool,” but wise in understanding her naiveté. “A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega” is a hard-luck ballad about ending the worst day of your life amidst a bunch of other sad sacks in a place where the drinks are cheap. “Must I be wanted to be worth anything?” they ask on standout “Daisy Chain.” Bristletongue’s music sounds like the cycle of life playing out in your ears, capturing the intense sadness and unimaginable beauty contained within. And on her excellent sophomore effort I’ll Sing, she has fleshed out her folk-indebted songwriting in a way that perfectly conjures the feeling of long, rambling drives through her home state. And at the center of all of it is singer-artist-poet Ryann Slauson and their drum kit and throat-shredding roar, bashing feelings straight into your skull. Every single song on this record arrives with as many contagious hooks and honest confessions as on the sparkly, frank “Little Death” and the toe-tap-inducing examination of overthinking “Future Me Hates Me.” Indie rock is alive and well in Oceania—The Beths, like their Australian neighbors Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, hit it out of the park in crafting one of the sturdiest rock debuts of the year. The Control Top of “Type A” have a new lineup and a new sound, and the result is two and a half minutes of the most feverish and cathartic music we’ve heard all year. –James, Camila Cabello put out one of the catchiest and most memorable Top 40 pop songs in recent memory. —Adrian Spinelli, Renata Zeiguer spent a few years quietly contributing her talents as a musician and vocalist to other people’s records before stepping out earlier this year with her own. –James, Wheels don’t always need to be reinvented. It shouldn’t have taken this long for us to hear her. Their songs are simply constructed by design but pack a huge punch. On her new album, The Lamb, Lala Lala processes a fear of losing control, inspired in part by newfound sobriety and a home invasion that left her deeply paranoid. Her parents are two of her biggest cheerleaders, and fittingly, their faces are squished against opposite sides of Folick on the cover of the new album, whose subject matters like female friendship, growing old with a lover and the joyful triumph over abusive men are also timely and worth cherishing in these tumultuous times.


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