Old favorites will always be old favorites, but for lifelong music fans, nothing matches the rush of falling in love with someone new. We’re still head-over-heels with our picks from last year, and artists such as Blondshell, Ice Spice, NewJeans, and Meet Me @ the Altar have all hit another level. If anything, this year’s roster is even more exciting.
Do you like shoegaze? Stay tuned for what could be the world’s first shoegaze superstar. Hip-hop fans can check out the young woman channeling DMX and the young man in conversation with Kendrick Lamar. Some of these bands have already taken over the tiny font in festival posters, and others seem poised to get the headline treatment as soon as next year. Not all of them will blow up, but they’ll all be worth your time.
— Wren Graves
Atlanta’s Brooklyn Rodriguez is a young vet: a 21-year-old with four increasingly-popular albums under her belt and a SoundCloud trail going back to the age of nine. Bktherula’s taste in beats covers all the ground between trap, psychedelia, and off-kilter weirdness, like if Rico Nasty had found Tame Impala and PinkPantheress instead of punk. Best of all, her ability to both sing beautifully and rap hard bodes well for a long career. — W. Graves
Maryland-born country singer Brittney Spencer first gained attention from a viral Twitter video of her covering a song by The Highwomen. Since then, she has delivered a couple of EPs, performed at the CMA Awards, and released a series of promising singles (and appeared on the Consequence Podcast Network series Beyond the Boys Club!). Her debut album, titled My Stupid Life, is set for release on January 19th through Elektra Records and is in perfect position to take her to the next level. — Venus Rittenberg
glass beach are a Los Angeles quartet who make emo-inspired indie rock for the real heads. Taking cues from overlooked weirdo bands of yore like Brave Little Abacus, their 2019 album the first glass beach album garnered a cult following online of fans endeared to their blissfully maximalist approach. Their new album plastic death, out January 19th, hones in on their playful, evocative experimentalism without losing their eccentric edge. — Abby Jones