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Breakout Artists

December 15, 2009

First impressions are everything. So these guys are on the right track, right? I don’t know, I could be completely wrong in three years.

5. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Every so often a band comes along with that tried and true “new wave” sound that isn’t necessarily new, but they do it in a slightly different way and they do it well. Still with me? That band, for me, in 2009 was Brooklyn’s the Pains of Being Pure at Heart.

The precocious twee-pop/new wave blend these New Yorkers create is charming and light and completely fitting of their name. To me they sound a bit like a blend of Los Campesinos! and M83 (does my opening sentence make more sense now?) with their own ambitious take on pop music. The foursome use their instruments wisely to fill out their sound and the duo of male and female vocals play off each other wonderfully creating a really fun sound.

4. Japandroids

I’m a sucker for puns, and I love the one that this Canadian duo have chosen for their name. Overall I’m not a fan of noise rock, but there is a certain quality to Japandroids music that makes it enjoyable.

I think one thing that sets them apart from other bands in this genre is that I can hear a lot of what is going on in their songs, as opposed to just hearing static from their peers. The other aspect of their music that really speaks to me is the authenticity of their lyrics.

Through their noise Japandroids speak clearly and honestly. I hope their career doesn’t rise and fall with this wave of noise that has descended upon indie rock.

3. The xx

These soulful Brits created a beautiful debut album that was soft spoken and harmonious. It’s hard to determine a genre for this band because they really are treading new ground with this album. It’s wonderful to listen to this album because of the calming effect it has.

At once this band blends pop sensibilities with the soulful, passionate and sensual dynamic of classic R & B music. This album bears a special sense of longing that is felt between lovers and single persons, and it is encapsulated perfectly here.

2. The Antlers

In the year when albums were getting louder all around The Antlers dared to make an emotional, sensitive album that kept the volume down. Not that this album never gets loud, because they know how to use distortion, but the way that they do it matches the complex emotions that really make this album.

The Antlers self-released this album before gaining the attention of Frenchkiss records. This debut is stunning, a perfect starting point, however I fear I’m that it has me expecting too much for the future of this group. Part of what makes this album so special is the heartbreaking plot that runs throughout. It’s unfair and unrealistic to expect anything quite as emotional from the band in the future. However, there is enough talent displayed in this album to mame me believe that there is more to be heard from this band, and that it will be good as well.

1. Fanfarlo
The eclectic instrumentation and imaginative music that Fanfarlo is best compared to the Arcade Fire, which is pretty flattering for such a young band. Ever since they self-released their album, Resevoir, for a $1 download early in the year I have been in love with it. Their ability to tell a story through their music as well as their words is what drew me to them, and it is truly a special quality.

The London based sextet are incredibly talented and let that talent bleed into their music. I hestitated to put them on this list, because I’ll be writing more about them later in the week, but as far as debuts go, they are the best this year.

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