The first six months of 2018 have given us plenty of good tunes to jam. But as Dance Gavin Dance, Senses Fail, and The Wonder Years grabbed the spotlight with consistent offerings once again, it’s easy to forget about all of the good up-and-coming artists who have come out with guns blazing. From indie rock to post-hardcore, we’ve seen acts from every facet of alternative music ready to take the scene by storm. Here’s a look at a few excellent records that may not have been on your radar but deserve your attention nonetheless.
Closer – All This Will Be
Brooklyn has long been known as a mecca for indie music, with artists playing to the bright lights and crowded streets. But area natives Closer go with a completely opposite approach, playing an earthy hardcore sound with raw production on their album All This Will Be. While the group doesn’t beat around the bush, they pack in quite the mix of influences — from math rock to indie rock — as they explore the darkest corners of the genre. Vocalist Griffin Irvine brings the record’s emotional toll to a whole other level. When the skittering guitars aren’t enough, she’s pushing a pitch-black ambiance as deep as the constraints of melodic hardcore will allow.
Endless Heights – Vicious Pleasure
Equally atmospheric as it is assertive, Vicious Pleasure is a fitting name for Endless Heights’ introduction to the alternative music world. On their first album, the band takes the best elements of post-hardcore, shoegaze, and emo and beautifully slow-churns them. The result is a haunting escapade reminding of Hum, Failure, and Lush. “Toxic” drowns listeners in searing guitar chords and whispery vocals, while “Drain” (initially released last year) showcases a knack for bright hooks within an otherwise hazy instrumental makeup. The Australian up-and-comers look battle-tested, and their debut’s smooth meshing of musical colors proves it.
Limbs – Father’s Son
The first thing that comes to mind when listening to Limbs’ rookie release on Equal Vision Records is the act’s similarity to Underoath. But while it’s an admirable comparison to get, they’re not simply another wannabe. Instead, they follow in the footsteps of the metalcore giants (in a literal sense, too, as they’re also from Tampa, FL) with the same sense of passion and artistry. Father’s Son is an album all about religion, exploring themes of faith, hypocrisy, and abandonment with pulverizing metal that complements its scathing lyricism in every way. From heaping hardcore melodies to crafty touches, they sure make an impression on their debut.
Many Rooms – There Is a Presence Here
Don’t let the colorful field and bright red dress worn by Brianna Hunt on her first full-length’s cover fool you. Her music comes from a place of struggle, doubt, and reflection. In fact, she starts the record with quite the question: “What if I die and nothing happens?” Coming from a Christian point of view but bringing the same cathartic perspective as other stripped-down solo artists like Julien Baker, Many Rooms runs on faith-driven emotion. “Hollow Body” (re-worked from Hunt’s 2015 EP) relies mainly on piano as it explores human fragility, while “This Place Is Haunted” is a lo-fi guitar anthem that floats along with the past not far behind it.
Slowly Slowly – St. Leonards
St. Leonards reminds us that pop-rock, when filled to the brim with heart, is actually quite substantial. The group behind it, Slowly Slowly, has moved past any hint of genre trappings to a noble alternative rock sound that glistens in the summer sun. They do high-flying punk rock (“Extinction” and “Ten Leaf Clover”) as well as they do slow melancholic affairs (“The Cold War” and “Song for Shae”). But the most impressive thing about the group’s execution on the full-length is their ability to firmly grasp the listener no matter the tempo of the song. Nobody does the kind of moody pop-rock they do — and if they do, they certainly don’t do it as well as it’s done throughout St. Leonards.
Super Whatevr – Never Nothing
Super Whatevr can’t figure out if they love The 1975 or the Arctic Monkeys more, so they decided to combine each for an overflow of indie rock goodness on Never Nothing. They stick to the pop-punk/emo-tinged edge of the genre, oozing plenty of flamboyance as they bounce from the guitar-driven groove “For You” to the softer energy of “Cops on Motorcycles”. The band doesn’t hold close to conventions for too long, running amok in a land of indie music that provides plenty of directions to go. The thing Super Whatevr gets the most right is their keen sense of identity, bringing us a debut full-length that feels ever so familiar but ever so fresh at the same time.
Teenage Wrist – Chrome Neon Jesus
The ‘90s is back in style, and Teenage Wrist cashes in without selling out on their first LP on Epitaph Records. They pull together the decade’s most resonant elements — from cloudy shoegaze to bulky remnants of grunge — into a slick alternative rock package. It’s not simply a gimmick, either, as the band has a knack for writing good songs, no matter if the chorus is full of “I do”s (“Dweeb”) or the song is about being “stoned and alone” (the aptly named radio hit “Stoned, Alone”). The trio doesn’t want to return to the past as much as they want to bring it to the present, and they do the latter with brilliant efficacy on Chrome Neon Jesus.