Class of 2010: Freshmen

December 1, 2010
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These are the 40 new (and not so new) artists I have discovered in 2010

Active Child (experimental, chillwave, hymtronica)

Alias of L.A.-based ex-choir boy, harpist Pat Grossi who released his debut EP, Curtis Lane, this year.

Avi Buffalo (indie pop/rock, lo-fi)

Very young indie pop band from Long Beach, CA released their self-titled debut album this year.

Best Coast (lo-fi, indie pop, garage rock)

Bethany Cosentino has become a household name in hipster circles with her California, beach friendly tunes.

Big K.R.I.T. (hip-hop, rap, dirty south)

My favorite of the new, independent-minded rapper from the South. Big K.R.I.T. gave away his mixtape, K.R.I.T. Waz Here, early this year.

BRAHMS (electronic, new wave)

I only heard a few songs from this New York trio this year, but am looking forward to more in the next year.

Broken Bells (indie rock, alternative rock)

This collaboration between The ShinsJames Mercer and Danger Mouse proved to be one of the most interesting of the year.

ceo (electronic, swedish, electropop)

The new project by Eric Berglund of The Tough Alliance is in the form of ceo, who released the White Magic EP this year.

Cults (indie pop, lo-fi)

This indie pop duo from New York have yet to release a album, but the tracks floating around the Internet are creating quite a buzz.

Delorean (indie electronic)

This Spanish band from Barcelona is making it cool to dance again!

Dessa (hip-hop, r&b)

Doomtree artist Dessa reminds me of a urban Ani DiFranco and released one of my favorite albums this year.

Die Antwoord (hip-hop, rave rap)

I will admit I liked the idea of these guys and their early singles much more than their actual album…but you can’t deny the impact they had on 2010.

Freelance Whales (indie pop, folk)

Another young indie pop band from New York that utilizes all sorts of interesting instruments to create a unique style of folk pop.

Future Islands (experimental, new wave, electronic)

Wham City artists from Baltimore, Future Islands, put out an album this year that lives up to the promise provided in their live shows.

Gauntlet Hair (lo-fi, experimental, indie rock)

One of the latest Rhinoceropolis-affiliated Denver bands to make gain national attention, Gauntlet Hair should release their debut album in the coming year.

Gayngs (experimental, soft rock, electronic)

Ryan Olson‘s supergroup with members from Bon Iver, Rosebuds, Megafaun, Doomtree, etc.

Glossary (alt-country, southern rock)

Not really Freshman by any means, this Tennessee band has been around for over 10 years…but they are new to my iPod this year and I wouldn’t feel right not including them.

How To Dress Well (lo-fi, r&b, experimental)

Tom Krell makes extremely lo-fi recordings with incredible R&B music hidden beneath the feedback. His cover of R. Kelly‘s I Wish was one of the highlights of 2010.

Janelle MonĂ¡e (soul, r&b)

Janelle is the most exciting thing to happen to R&B in quite awhile. Her debut album is amazing, but it’s her stage show that can’t be missed!

Javi Garcia & The Cold Cold Ground (alt-country, southern rock, garage rock)

I really can’t find anything about this down & dirty country band from Texas, but their garage songs about blood, booze and blame are some of my favorite of the year.

Lissie (singer-songwriter, indie folk)

I actually discovered Lissie last year when we met her at her opening gig for Ray LaMontagne, but it wasn’t until catching her at SXSW in March that I realized what a talent she was. Like Janelle, her album is great, but you have to see this girl live to appreciate her.

Local Natives (indie rock/pop)

This band from L.A. lives up to the hype. Releasing one of the best albums of the year as well as being one of the best live acts out there.

Mimicking Birds (indie rock/folk)

Nate Lacey from Portland, OR got the attention of Isaac Brock and landed himself a record contract and a band and then put out one of the best albums of the year.

Mumford & Sons (british folk, bluegrass)

You could say Mumford & Sons had a good year. It seemed like these guys came out of nowhere and then were everywhere. Indie blogs, Top 40 stations, selling out venues faster than tickets could go onsale. I’m sorry I missed them at the Ogden, but really had no clue they were big enough to sell it out the first day.

The Mynabirds (singer-songwriter, indie pop)

Laura Burhenn moved to Omaha (of all places) to form The Mynabirds and released the debut album on Conor Oberst‘s Saddle Creek label.

Nathaniel Rateliff (singer-songwriter, indie folk)

Denver‘s own Nathaniel Rateliff isn’t really a Freshman either, he’s been performing around the country and even internationally for some time now as The Wheel, but his debut album came out on Rouder this year and gained him a lot more attention outside Colorado.

Nneka (neo-soul, hip-hop, r&b)

Nneka is a Nigerian-German hip hop/soul singer and songwriter that has been recording since 2005, but it wasn’t until this year that her debut US release, Concrete Jungle, hit our shores.

Otis Gibbs (alt-country, americana)

Otis has been recording political, social commentary since 2002, but it wasn’t until this year’s dark alt-country album, Joe Hill’s Ashes, that I discovered his unique talent.

Perfume Genius (singer-songwriter, indie pop, ambient)

Mike Hadreas‘ music is so personal and disturbing, it’s hard to listen to at times, but you can’t deny he’s one of the more talented basement producers.

Roadside Graves (indie folk/rock, americana)

Not only do they have the coolest band name ever, they also put out one of the best EPs of the year! Roadside Graves are a seven piece alt-country band from Jersey who sound like they are from the deep South.

Salem (electronic, witch house, dubstep)

Dark, scary electronic music labeled everything from witch house to rapegaze. Evidently these guys are pricks, but that doesn’t change the fact that their music is one more reason I’m finally getting into electronic music.

Sleigh Bells (electronic, lo-fi, noise pop)

If you don’t know this Brooklyn duo, you haven’t been paying attention. Derek E. Miller provides the soundtrack to Alexis Krauss‘ spastic stage theatrics and vocals that range from hip-hop to punk rock. See this band live!

Surfer Blood (indie rock, lo-fi, surf rock)

Surfer Blood are from West Palm Beach, FL and they are very, very young. I couldn’t get over just how young when I saw them at the Pitchfork Fest. But age aside, they make great indie rock for the beach.

Tame Impala (psychedelic, australian, indie rock)

These guys from down under were the perfect choice to open for MGMT this year and while I don’t care for some of their psychedelic freak outs, the stuff I do like is good enough to earn them a place on this list. Looking forward to hearing more from them.

Tennis (indie pop, electronic, lo-fi)

Husband/Wife duo from Denver who sailed the East Coast for months while writing music. Tennis are receiving national attention and will release their debut album shortly.

Toro Y Moi (chillwave, electronic, lo-fi)

Chazwick Bundick is a graphic designer from North Carolina and is also one of the pioneers of the chillwave sound that became so popular this summer.

Twin Shadow (electronic, dream pop, electropop)

I didn’t hop on the Twin Shadow bandwagon like so many others this year, but I do like his 80′s throwback sound and a few of his tracks are incredible…looking forward to what the new year brings for George Lewis, Jr.

Warpaint (psychedelic, indie rock, shoegaze)

The girls in Warpaint impressed at SXSW, but their debut full length disappointed a little. That being said, this was one of the new bands that definitely made an impression this year.

Wise Blood (experimental, witch house, electronic)

Nothing more than a Bandcamp page, a name and an EP, Christopher Laufman is from Houston, TX and that EP is one of the best of the year.

Wye Oak (indie rock/pop)

Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack from Baltimore, MD play straight-up indie rock/pop and they do it well, something that’s hard to come by these days.

Zola Jesus (lo-fi, psychedelic, ambient)

Nika Roza Danilova is hands down the most impressive solo artist to come out of 2010 and her Stridulum II EP one of the most impressive releases of the year.

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