Tired of your current indie-rock playlists and completely dissatisfied with the artists Spotify is suggesting you listen to? Take a breath. We’ve got you covered. With festival season in full swing, we can’t think of a better time to compile a list of our favorite new indie bands you should check out—before they end up headlining Coachella next year.
For those who consider yourselves true audiophiles, you might already be familiar with a couple of our picks. No problem. Your indie cred is still in tact. (Whew! That was a close one.) So let’s not ruin it for some of our newbie brethren who’re discovering these artists for the first time. After all, if you’ve never heard them before, they’re new to you!
Album: In Cold Blood (SONGS/Crush Music, 2014)
Your new jam: “Future Husbands Past Lives”
Why they rock: The band name might also be familiar for any Lena Dunham loyalists because White Sea’s song, “Overdrawn,” was featured in Season 1 of “Girls”—during the episode “Vagina Panic,” for anyone wondering—and also appears on that season’s soundtrack. White Sea is the solo project of sometimes-actress Morgan Kibby, former singer of L.A. alt-cabaret band The Romanovs. With songs like “They Don’t Know” and “NYC Loves You,” the music is reminiscent of the ambient electronica of M83, with whom she tour with for a couple years. Get into it.
SHARON VAN ETTEN
Album: Are We There (Jagjaguwar, 2014)
Your new jam: “Every Time The Sun Comes Up”
Why she rocks: Hide the knives because this chick is dark. Awesome, but dark. Known for her evocative alt-folk melodies, Van Etten’s voice drips like honey when she sings (and possibly overshares) lyrics like, “People say I’m a one-hit wonder / but what happens when I have two? / I washed your dishes, but I shitted in your bathroom.” If that doesn’t make you want to hear more, then you’re not the person I thought you were.
Album: Distraction (Cantora Records, 2014)
Your new jam: “Giants”
Why they rock: Two words: Bad ass. With the new-wave swag of Passion Pit and art-rock ethos of Talking Heads, Bear Hands is the perfect band to blast from your car speakers… or whatever music device you use while taking mass transportation. (In fact, it’s so captivating that it might distract you from the old man who’s eating a stinky burrito in the seat next to you on the train.) Plus, the dudes are easy on the eyes, which never hurts.
Album: Voices (Republic Records, 2014)
Your new jam: “Fall In Love”
Why they rock: If you listen to alternative radio, then you’ve probably already heard—and fallen in love with—“Fall In Love.” If not, then get with the program and check out this electronica-based duo from NYC who got their name from an optical illusion that makes two-dimensional images appear in three dimensions. Basically, Phantogram is the musical equivalent of the Penrose triangle: so good, it’s nearly impossible to process.
Album: Nikki Nack (4AD Ltd., 2014)
Your new jam: “Water Fountain”
Why they rock: To describe the band’s music as “quirky” would be an understatement. Actually, it’s kinda hard to describe the band’s music period. Wikipedia would have you believe the New England duo was “worldbeat, indie pop, lo-fi, folk, Afrobeat, experimental pop, and R&B.” In other words, tUnE-yArDs is a kitchen-sink band, incorporating a little bit of everything to create their unique brand of indescribable tunage. Let’s put it like this: If “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” existed today, tUnE-yArDs would provide the show’s theme song.
Album: The 1975 (Interscope, 2013)
Your new jam: “The City”
Why they rock: These Manchester mates have been making music together since high school and went through a bunch of band names before deciding upon The 1975, which came from an inscription singer Matt Healy found in the back of a book of Beat poetry. Over the last two years, this British import has opened for everyone from The Neighbourhood to The Rolling Stones but, more recently, they’ve been selling out their own headlining shows worldwide. If the band is traveling to your neck of the woods this summer, get a ticket now, while you still can.
Album: The Bones Of What You Believe (Glassnote, 2013)
Your new jam: “The Mother We Share”
Why they rock: Though the “v” might be silent, there’s nothing quiet about this band’s catchy synth-pop melodies. With an electronic sensibility and goth undertones, it’s no wonder the band was chosen to open up for Depeche Mode and School Of Seven Bells. Catch the band when they embark on a nationwide headlining tour starting next week.
ANDREW JACKSON JIHAD
Album: Christmas Island (SideOneDummy, 2014)
Your new jam: “Temple Grandin”
Why they rock: I’m sorry, but anyone who writes a song about Temple Grandin has earned a special place in my heart. Please tell me I’m not alone. Musically, the band reminds me of “Letting Off The Happiness”-era Bright Eyes mixed with an atonal touch of Minus The Bear. It’s lo-fi but utterly charming. Even if you’ve never been to The Fest and don’t usually take your music with a side of neck beard and Pabst, AJJ is still worth a listen. Trust me.
THE WAR ON DRUGS
Album: Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian, 2014)
Your new jam: “Red Eyes”
Why they rock: For anyone who wishes shoegazing would make a comeback, you need to lose yourself to The War On Drugs. Although the band has been around for almost 10 years, their third album, “Lost In The Dream,” seems to be breathing new life into the group, which was originally formed by Kurt Vile back in 2005. If you like six-minute songs that make you feel woozy—but in a good way—then this is the band for you.
Album: Out Of The Block EP (Warner Bros. Records, 2014)
Your new jam: “Little Monster”
Why they rock: These British upstarts sound like a cross between Queens Of The Stone Age and Muse. Translation? This band is equal parts geavy and huge. Songs like “Out Of The Block” and “Hole” provide the perfect soundtrack for any stoner itching to watch “The Big Lebowski” on mute while taking hits off a four-foot water bong. Though, even if you’re not one for vaporizers and black-light posters, this duo can still kick out the jams. Hard.