There’s a humongous amount of music out there, and thanks to the power of the Internet, more of it is within your reach than ever before. Sites like Soundcloud and Bandcamp have helped many thousands of artists get their feet of the ground by providing them exposure from outside their local area that they might have never gotten otherwise. While having such an extended potential audience is fantastic for an up-and-coming artist, it’s easy for that artist to get lost among the dizzying number of small acts available to the tuned-in consumer.
Here are ten excellent groups from around the web that aren’t being promoted and reviewed byRolling Stone or Pitchfork. They won’t get signed to Def Jam or EMI anytime soon, either, so you can rest assured that you’re supporting a homegrown labor of love when you listen to these artists.
Do you know of a talented band or musician that deserves a bigger audience? Put the word out about them in the comments!
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10. Gentleman Surfer
What makes the experimental Sacramento rock group Gentleman Surfer so interesting is just how impossible it is to pin down exactly what kind of music they make. The shouted vocals and discordant guitars say punk, but the more spacious grooves sound a bit like jazz, and the repetitive synthesizer experiments make the whole project feel like some sort of psychedelia. Whatever you want to label it, Gentleman Surfer’s brand of chaotic rock music is unlike anything you’ve heard before.
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9. Surf Club
Hailing from Stockton, California, Surf Club makes beachy music that’s soaking wet with crisp, refreshing reverb. Liberally applied effects enhance their upbeat rock songs with a hazy, dreamlike shoegaze atmosphere. The upbeat optimism of their music evokes all the positive, liberated, confusing feelings that come with falling in love at a young age.
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8. Palette Town
Miami-based Palette Town is a restless, romping indie pop rock outfit. Their combination of crisp, clear production and garage rock enthusiasm feels like a joyride through life in a refurbished vintage convertible. Their video game-inspired artwork lends itself to the band’s carefree stylings, but lyrics about growing up and making decisions deepen the fast tempo’s meaning, just like a racing heart can mean happy excitement or pessimistic panic.
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7. Be Calm Honcho
Be Calm Honcho is a smoky-voiced, groovy rock outfit that’s very proud to be from California. Their music is filled of youthful longing that bursts out from vocalist Shannon Harney’s mouth in the form of straightforwardly soulful lyrics. Those who seek frank charm and a sense of style in their music will not be disappointed. Driving rhythms and smooth basslines send that point home with an atmosphere that’s mostly cloudy like a September beach day in their native San Francisco.
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6. Work Drugs
Work Drugs’ sound is a distinctive combination of ethereal dream pop and chilled-out synthpop, which the group will be quick to remind you is very smooth. Their relatively extensive catalog use layered synths, reverb-doused vocals, and simple, earworm melodies to explore young love, long summer nights, and figuring out life. It’s perfect for hosting yacht parties, getting close with a lover, or time put aside to chill out at home.
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Pronounced like “shah” (meaning “cat” in French) Charlène Juarez’s solo project combines traditional French chanson piano with her own delicate, airy voice to create delightful pop music in her mother tongue. Reminiscent of traditional artists like Edith Piaf, Chat’s music is sure to add a touch of class to any music library.
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4. Silent Diane
Silent Diane is a duo from Austin, Texas that weaves ghastly pop music out of whispy vocals and detuned synthesizers. Their shimmering, electronic beats perfectly match the lyrics, which explore subject matter like distant star systems and the plight of a girl in a painting that’s been thrown out. What makes their music really interesting is its constantly moving sense of urgency, which feels like a rushed walk through an enchanted, haunted forest where you’re fascinated by the creatures moving all around you, but also worriedly looking over your shoulder constantly.
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3. Summer Fiction
You might recognize their track “She’s Bound to Get Hurt” from the independent film Safety Not Guaranteed. This Philadelphian duo manages to cover an extremely wide range of styles, from baroque to folk to waltz while maintaining a coherent emotional landscape throughout the eleven tracks on their self-titled debut album. Each song on the album beautifully recounts a story from a young woman’s diary as she falls in love and confronts her unsure future. Even better, you can download the gorgeous single “Chandeliers” for free on their Bandcamp page.
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Fantastically fun surf rock that’s at once immediately accessible and impressively well crafted. The catchy rhythms and perfectly manicured sonic textures on their self-titled debut EP are impossible not to get up and dance to. Cruiser’s music proves you don’t have to live by the ocean to precisely capture that summer-in-Malibu feel.
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1. Made in Heights
Underground trip-hoppers from LA’s burgeoning electronica scene who’ve crafted pop perfection! Vocalist Kelsey Bulkin’s lyrics, which are frequently diced up and sampled into the rhythms, craft beautiful, emotional dreamscapes. Producer Sabzi’s busy hi-hats and shimmering synths drive her words home with an air of anxious sensuality that makes their songs feel like the first night together with a new lover. Seriously, if you look into no other band on this list, be sure to check these guys out.