The Absolute 100 (2008) Heart

News posts and song streams. RSS feeds and webisodes. We swim in a digital ocean of recommendations – the music and us. Here at, we like to start the waves and then float in them. This is why we are back with our second installment of The Absolute 100, an annual collection of our favorite lesser known bands. Below you will find a centennial of really great acts. Some of them may be fresh to the ears, and some of them may be old news to your keen web browsing. Either way, we hope that from all the bands that clutter these interwebbed harbors, you’ll find a precious handful from these Absolute 100. – Julia Conny

Alberta Cross – New York, NY / London, UK Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Soft, sometimes tender and slightly tragic blues rock is Alberta Cross’ main street, but the raw and bending guitar parts don’t just stick to one path. Mix that with vocalist Petter Ericson Stakee, a man with soul and a tortured rock resonance, and Alberta Cross is captivating.
RIYL: Sonic Youth, Neil Young, The Allman Brothers

Annabel – Kent, OH Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Infectious indie pop with sharp melodies that was released just in time to serve as the soundtrack for the spring and summer months. Now That We Are Alive recalls the 90’s indie scene quite often throughout its 23 minute length, which makes it a must listen for fans of that era. Now That We Are Alive is an extremely promising EP that will tide listeners over until the band releases the debut full-length effort they are currently working on.
RIYL: Superchunk, The Anniversary, The Get Up Kids

Bank – Boise, ID Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: This band doesn’t exactly live in a scene hotspot, but they’ve really strived to get out and put all they can forth in order to get people to hear their music. Their rural background has given them sort of a grassroot feel that you’ll love.
RIYL: An Angle, Bright Eyes, Dear And The Headlights, The Early November

Beach House – Baltimore, MD Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: As gorgeous dream-pop from Baltimore, two boy-girl duo of Alex Scally (guitar and keyboards) and Victoria Legrand (vocals) is light, intricate and visual. Loved by Pitchfork, but appreciated by more Beach House and 2008’s Devotion are room-fillers.
RIYL: Mazzy Star, Sigur Ros, shoegazing

Bottle Of Justus – Bloomington, IL Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Not content to just write engaging slower songs like “Wave Goodbye,” Bottle of Justus have a pretty good handle on the older Drive-Thru pop-punk sound as well. They combine those urgent riffs with soothing vocals that will entice you to open up an ice cold Bottle of Justus during all of those hot summer nights.
RIYL: Lucky Boys Confusion, Yellowcard, The Ataris

Cash Cash – Roseland, NJ Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: We just can’t curb these feelings inside. Our inkling for boy bands and sweet pop combined with the buzz of this new major label signee (formerly known as The Consequence) has got enough talk and fun hooks to bleep on our radar. Maybe, we figured, if we add them to this year’s Absolute 100 list, they will create a synchronized dance number, just for us.
RIYL: The Higher, The Cab, boy bands, Metro Station

Closure In Moscow – Melbourne, AU Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Blazing post-hardcore from Australia. With vocals on the higher scale, listeners can reminisce to a Saosin-ed Anthony Green. Notes bend and the vocals soar in one. Every bit of Closure in Moscow courses with energy. Pay attention to the band’s EP,The Penance & The Patience.
RIYL: Anthony Green, Saosin, Lady Radiator, The Mars Volta

Deas Vail - Russellville, AR Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: With the piano-pop sensibilities of Jack’s Mannequin and a singer whose honeyed vocals rival the scene’s elite, Deas Vail make beautiful, beautiful music. After a universally lauded debut LP, Deas Vail are poised to breakout, gaining fans with each new day.
RIYL: Mae, Jack’s Mannequin, The Fray

Driver F – Austin, TX Profile | Myspace | Website
Why We Like: It’s pop-punk with gorgeous hooks, and it’s the summer … the hand goes in the hand. And Driver F has a horn section – but not used to overwhelming altitudes – to beef up their already robust melodies.
RIYL: The Starting Line, New Found Glory, TV/TV, Jet Lag Gemini, Patent Pending, Sugarcult, Valencia

Foreign Born – Los Angeles, CA Profile | Myspace | Website
Why We Like: Earnest indie rock labeled by the LA Times as the “best [band] to use sleigh bells.” Originally signed to Dim Mak Records, the band recently signed to Secretly Canadian.
RIYL: The Deadly Syndrome, Cold War Kids

Good Old War – Philadelphia, PA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Days Away’s split earlier this year was one of the most painful in recent memory, but thankfully, we will not be deprived of Keith Goodwin’s voice for long. Borrowing the fun-loving jam/folk combination of Guster and the vocal gifts of Simon and Garfunkel, Good Old War’s sound is at once timeless and fresh. We can only hope these guys are here to stay, as Only Way to Be Alone is an instant classic, indeed.
RIYL: Guster, Days Away, Simon & Garfunkel

Inept – Chicago, IL Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: is a pop-punk site at heart and this band fits the bill, with the uncanny ability to craft a catchy chorus with unnatural simplicity. Luckily there is substance surrounding the chorus that makes each of their songs rock gems. How are they still unsigned?
RIYL: Autopilot Off, Story of the Year, Quietdrive

The Leap Year – Perth, Western Australia Profile | Myspace | Website
Why We LikeWith A Little Push A Pattern Appears is seven tracks of impassioned, guitar-driven indie rock that immediately demands your attention. The album is breathtaking from start to finish and considering it is only a debut effort, makes one hell of a statement. You may not have heard of The Leap Year until now, but you will be hearing plenty about them in the future.
RIYL: Blueline Medic, Sunny Day Real Estate, The Life And Times

The Lives of Famous Men – Portland, OR Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Pop-rock out of Oregon that opts for jazzy dancing and fingersnaps over blaring, obvious hooks. No, The Lives of Famous Men are far more subtle then that. Singer Daniel Hall is breathy and doesn’t use the melody as a crutch. It’s feel good music that wins just as many points for musicianship.
RIYL: Panic at the Disco, Head Automatica, (kinda) Anberlin

Person L – Eastern, PA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Person L has an advantage. Singer Kenny Vasoli has some experience under his wing from the days of crooning around for The Starting Line, but his new project takes his chirpy, curious vocals and applies them to expansive, atmospheric indie pop. The combination is intriguing. Initial is out now.
RIYL: Weatherbox, Paper Rival, The Starting Line, Ra Ra Riot, The Shins

Pomegranates – Cincinnati, OH Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Pomegranates’ fuzzy indie pop is both energetic and captivating, and in a musical climate where most pop music is glossily produced and sterile, the raw and organic production on Everything Is Alive is like a breath of fresh air. Keep an eye on this band, it is only a matter of time before they capitalize on all the buzz they have been generating and take the indie pop world by storm.
RIYL: Wolf Parade, Superchunk, All The Day Holiday

The Promise Hero – Cleveland, OH Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: They recorded their new demos with Chris Conley, and who better to do them for a band like this. Their new record should be released later this year.
RIYL: Saves The Day, Punchline

Robot Love Story – Chicago, IL Profile | MySpace
Why We Like: They’re one of Chicago’s biggest gems yet to be discovered, but that is all soon to change. They’re a synth pop band with silvery vocals that put their robot hearts into everything.
RIYL: Dashboard Confessional, The Color Fred

Sakes Alive!! – Rochester, NY Profile | Myspace | Website
Why We LikePresents is three fast, raw, and in your face punk rock anthems written entirely by the bands vocalist and guitarist, Chris Vandeviver. Lyrically the band focuses on pressing modern day issues, but the songs do not come across as preachy, rather they just encourage listeners to be more politically and socially aware. Check out the song “I’m Religious” from their Act 1 7-inch on Barrett Records.
RIYL: Glass and Ashes, Challenger, Kid Dynamite

The Scenic – Philadelphia, PA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Former frontman of the band Rory, Jeremy Menard, joined a group of already established musicians from the Philly area in order to create a new version of The Scenic. They were a good pop rock band but now they possess one of the most intricate voices in the current scene, thus making them into a great band. Kids, gear up for this full length.
RIYL: Rory, The Early November, Houston Calls, Inkwell

Team Goldie – Landenberg, PA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Matt DiStefano is the fast-spitting MC behind Team Goldie. Pair that with his self-constructed electronically-aided dance parties and any basement church show will turn into a sweaty grindfest. For a good time, holler for Team Goldie.
RIYL: The Secret Handshake, Punk Goes Crunk, Girl Talk, Beastie Boys

Thecocknbullkid – London, UK Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: 22-year old Anita Blay creates sugar-sweet pop music with an edge, described by NME as “the most interesting thing to have come out of London since Klaxons.”
RIYL: Madonna, Santogold, M.I.A.

Two Shots of Rye – New York, NY Profile | Myspace | Free 3-Song Sampler
Why We Like: Listening to this band is like listening to Brooklyn in the summer. The sound is scratched, stripped, and rough enough to sound like a DIY singer/songwriter, yet still fun and poppy enough to sing along to like the latest glossy pop-punk band. It’s good music, and that’s all that matters for this small band that seems primed to win over a huge audience.
RIYL: Elvis Costello, Third Eye Blind, Brand New

U.S. Royalty – Washington, DC Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: All it takes is the neighborly charm of U.S. Royalty’s guitar and piano rock to calculate a simple but collected indie pop. This newer D.C. act is far from pretentious, which makes their tunes both fitting for flashy dance clubs and dingy dive bars. Win win.
RIYL: What Made Milwaukee Famous, Keane, VHS or BETA, bar rock

Young Hearts – Brooklyn, NY Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Full-flavored DIY pop-punk, featuring former members of Dear Tonight and Saturday Supercade. Bringing us back the days, skipping school and without a care in the world.
RIYL: Lifetime, Taking Back Sunday, Kid Dynamite

A06 – Boston, MA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Those inside the AP world already know all there is to know about this awesome band, but the combination of epic songs, epic storytelling and vocals that sound like John Nolan (Straylight Run) and Casey Crescenzo (The Dear Hunter) had a baby named “buysoap” (a.k.a. Matt Meylikhov) and taught him how to play guitar like Claudio Sanchez (Coheed and Cambria). If you dig progressive, alternative, loud rock music … go find this record that is sure to capture the AP community by storm.
RIYL: Coheed and Cambria, The Dear Hunter

Barely Blind – Groves, TX Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Don’t mess with Texas, don’t mess with these guys. They’re four edgy pop punk kids from the Lone Star state with funny tunes and new jams with the same promise.
RIYL: Punchline, The Benjamins, old Fueled By Ramen bands

Bear Hands – Brooklyn, NY Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: It’s not enough to cite Brookyln as a reason, although it’s no secret the NYC burough is the hot-spot for up-and-coming indie bands. But Bear Hands would be great no matter where their apartment keys led them, which is why this snarky, clever and fun indie rock number made our list.
RIYL: Vampire Weekend, Tokyo Police Club, Modest Mouse

The Black Ghosts - London, UK Profile | Myspace | Website
Why We Like: A combination of dance, pop and soulful singing consisting by Simon Lord (formerly of Simian) and Theo Keating (formerly The Wiseguys), The Black Ghosts break the rules when it comes to your ordinary electro-pop band.
RIYL: The Whip, Simian Mobile Disco, Does It Offend You, Yeah?

Broadway Calls – Rainier, OR Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Recent old school punk Adeline signees Broadway Calls are a band we’ve learned to love more and more with each listen, thanks to vocalist Ty Vaughn’s raspy voice.
RIYL: Smoke Or Fire, Jawbreaker, The Loved Ones, Green Day

The Cast Before The Break – Oneonta, NY Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Why are concept albums about death always so life affirming? A question for another time, perhaps, but TCBTB is soo right now. Heaviness and catchy technicality meet in the middle for some wonderful clashes of sound. We’re never sure what the end result will be, but we always like it.
RIYL: Moving Mountains, The Appleseed Cast, What The Blood Revealed

Cinematic Sunrise – Detroit, MI Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: You know the voice. Craig Owens has made his mark with Chiodos, his primary band, but he and a few of his friends venture over to the pop side on his side-project’s debut EP, A Coloring Storybook And Long Playing Record. It goes down fast, it goes down smooth, and it always leaves a good taste in your mouth.
RIYL: Good times, Chiodos minus screaming

Clouds – Boston, MA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: If you miss Cave In or just straight up ass kicking rock n’ roll, then look no further than We Are Above You. Clouds make balls out rock cool again.
RIYL: Cave In, Since By Man, Torche

The Crosstown Rivalry – Voorhees, NJ Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: A young group of dudes out of Southern New Jersey who are putting out their second EP in two years. It’s a brand of pop punk perhaps not known for its originality, but they’re one of the best of their kind. They’re also playing music for all the right reasons.
RIYL: New Found Glory, All Time Low, Hit The Lights, Four Year Strong

The Dodos – San Francisco, CA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Like an Animal Collective that grew up with love for folk, The Dodos uniquely tinge their music with intelligent lyrics and a penchant for a more melodically abstract way of doing things, whilst keeping the instrumentation comparatively bare bones. They’re the kind of band that puts an effort into using all of their collective energy in to insuring each and every song is worth coming back to. You’ll see what I mean.
RIYL: White Rabbits, Animal Collective, Blitzen Trapper

The Eclectic Collective – Boston, MA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Soulful dual vocals, grooves that flow like a fine wine and a multi-instrumental rhythm section make up this Boston group that live up to their name.
RIYL: Fishbone, Straylight Run, The Roots

Fireworks - Livonia, MI Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: If you’re late to the game on this band, it’s okay. They’re a quintet out of Detroit making honest pop punk. These are true DIY guys with a love for music most of you cant compete with. They’ll be playing your back yard next week.
RIYL: Hit The Lights, New Found Glory, Set Your Goals

A Great Big Pile of Leaves - Brooklyn, NY Profile | Myspace | Website
Why We Like: They’re giving away their music for free, so there’s no reason not to check this duo out. If you’re looking for music to wind down to after a long day, these guys deliver. Their indie pop/rock sound is also upbeat enough to help you start your day off with some positive energy, so these guys also receive points for versatility. Do yourself a favor and download A Great Big Pile of Leaves’ music for the sweet price of zilch – it’s well worth the price.
RIYL: Minus the Bear, The Appleseed Cast, As Tall as Lions, American Football, This Town Needs Guns

Holy Ghost! - Brooklyn, NY Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Holy Ghost! is a DJ duo from Brooklyn and let’s just suffice it to say that “Hold On” is one of the catchiest dance songs this side of D.A.N.C.E.
RIYL: LCD Soundsystem, The Juan Maclean

Kickball – Olympia, WA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: With an already celebrated live show and a sound that you’ll be wondering where it had been all your life, Kickball is a band you should absolutely be listening to for their youthful rhythm and angular bounce, if not for the fact that you probably haven’t played kickball since junior high. Relive short gym shorts and unrequited crushes with a band that uses odd time signatures in a direction it should have been taken from the very beginning.
RIYL: Look Mexico, Know Think, Algernon Cadwallader, caP’n Jazz

Little Boots - London, UK Profile | Myspace | Website
Why We Like: Formerly a member of buzz band Dead Disco, Victoria Hesketh a.k.a. Little Boots makes sweet pop music that will mesmerize you. “Stuck On Repeat” has been labeled by countless DJs and electro-blogs as the best dance song of 2008.
RIYL: Kylie Minogue, Ladytron, Dead Disco

Manna and Quail – Detroit, MI Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: A moody piano based band from the confines of Southeastern Michigan, this quartet has yet to truly show the world much of their music albeit an EP from 2006. But in 2008, the world will quiver when they release their new material and chills shall be sent down their spines.
RIYL: Paper Rival, Phantom Planet, Coldplay

Moving Mountains – Westchester, NY Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: If this list were one band long, Moving Mountains would be that band. We’ve been chilling out to their hazy guitar tones and vivid imagery for what seems like the best years of our lives. A new summer EP might just turn them into everyone’s favorite band, which is kinda the point.
RIYL: The Appleseed Cast, This Will Destroy You, The Cast Before The Break

Picture Atlantic – Oakland, CA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: They’re a band that sounds like they’ve been playing music together for at least ten years, but they’ve only been together for a short time. They’re a band with a huge sound that you will just send chills down your spine every time you listen.
RIYL: Coldplay, As Tall As Lions, Head voice

Seabear – Reykajvik, Iceland Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Using a sturdy range of different instruments in a concoction so cute and powerful, Seabear proves the Scandinavians can always one-up us in pop. Having released their debut full-length,The Ghost That Carried Us Away, last year to great acclaim, there’s no doubt this band has a bright future ahead of it.
RIYL: Oh No! Oh My!, The Boy Least Likely To, I’m From Barcelona, Bright Eyes

The Swellers – Flint, MI Profile | MySpace
Why We Like: The kind of old-school, hard-working band you feel good supporting, The Swellers have been touring rigorously over the past few years, spreading their energetic, punk rock sound from ocean to ocean, standing tall alongside some of today’s most respected bands.
RIYL: A Wilhelm Scream, Smoke Or Fire, Much The Same

Telepathe – Brooklyn, NY Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Drone-y experimental pop that gets a bit dancier with every new song, and yet retains their renowned eerie textural music.
RIYL: Gang Gang Dance, Excepter, !!!, The Kills

Therefore I Am – Boston, MA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: They are another great Mike Poorman-produced band that has somehow managed to stay unsigned so far, despite being hometown heroes in the Boston area. Their debut EP, Escape, switches between blistering, straight-rock ball busters and ambient, thoughtful gems, never once losing a beat. If you miss The Receiving End of Sirens and are looking for a replacement, here they are.
RIYL: Thrice, The Receiving End of Sirens, Autopilot Off, Saosin, Letter Kills

Wolftron – Kent, WA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: While many think of Daphne Loves Derby as a band that switches between hot and cold, frontman Kenny Choi is irrefutably on point with his solo effort under the Wolftron moniker. As Choi’s breathy, fragile vocals lean against pretty and at times spacey instrumentation, it is easy to get swept away with the tunes on Flesh and Fears.
RIYL: Daphne Loves Derby, Lydia, Rookie of the Year

The Years Gone By – Freehold, NJ Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: To tour consistently as an unsigned band is a tough feat, but it’s not impossible. For years, The Years Gone By successfully took to the road with fervor and passion without the aid of label funding until just recently. Rise Records, known for their heavier signees, are trying their hands at this smiling East Coast pop-punk.
RIYL: All Time Low, Hit The Lights, New Found Glory

1969 – Los Angeles, CA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Big, hook-y guitars built around anthemic choruses that sound like they came straight from the classic rock era, drowning in melody courtesy of singer-songwriter/uber-producer Butch Walker. This is the kind of rock music stereos were created to play.
RIYL: Bruce Springsteen, U2, Marvelous 3

All Get Out – Charleston, SC Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: The sharp tone of Nathan Hussey’s vocals hit strong against the bright, hopeful guitars, and between the two, All Get Out make their point known. But then, on songs like “Three More, I Guess”, they turn into total piano softies. It’s this variability that make this band a well-rounded quirky indie rock pick.
RIYL: Manchester Orchestra, The Format, Saves The Day, Weatherbox, Paper Rival

Baroness – Brooklyn, NY Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Baroness have created one of the most interesting heavy albums in a while that manages to be heavy without breakneck speeds and epic without sounding pretentious.
RIYL: Mastodon, Kylesa, Isis

Caillou – West Palm Beach, FL Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: The musicianship on the band’s self-titled debut EP is vastly superior to other upstart bands and their brand of brooding indie rock will be sure to appeal to almost anyone. Caillou are currently unsigned, but do not expect them to stay free agents for long.
RIYL: Radiohead, Colour Revolt, Pedro The Lion

Culture Reject – Toronto, ON, CA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Michael O’Connell’s one man band weaves masterfully soothing indie-folk tunes with biting commentary, and the amazing part is he never sounds like a dick. We’ll take that over your favorite, pretentious bow-tied crooner any day, thank you very much.
RIYL: Bright Eyes, Octoberman, Micah P. Hinson

Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) – Farmington Hills, MI Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Recalling the grace and melody of Midwest staples like American Football and Christie Front Drive, these Michigan darlings are garnering some attention for their sincere songwriting and revitalization of the mid-90s scene we all wished we were a part of.
RIYL: Mineral, Death Cab For Cutie, The Appleseed Cast, American Football

Florence and the Machine – London, UK Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Incredibly catchy pop songs from a 21-year old South London girl discovered while singing into a toilet. One of the most mindblowing and talented voices out there, she has made waves already as NME’s #1 Best Band To See This Summer (2008) and Best Band of SXSW 2008, as well as features in Nylon, Q, Dazed and Confused and other magazines; remember that all of this came before she even released her first single in America.
RIYL: Kate Nash, Lily Allen, SoKo, Lykke Li

Free Blood - Brooklyn, NY Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Experimental pop with a dance edge, as one would expect from a band featuring an ex-member of dance kings !!!. Seeing them live is quite an event as well, and truly shows their experimental side.
RIYL: !!!, LCD Soundsystem

Fuck Buttons – Bristol, UK Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Discordant, noisy, and a strangely beautiful, Fuck Buttons challenges what we thought we liked with a mess of shimmers, sludge, and screams.
RIYL: Atlas Sound, HEALTH, White Rainbow

Genghis Tron – Philadelphia, PA
AP Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: With the drought of innovation in heavy music, Genghis Tron has hired a machine to take on drum duty. Spastic, technical and amazing live, Genghis Tron brings one of the heaviest records of 2008.
RIYL: Converge, Dillinger Escape Plan, Kurt Ballou

InPASSING – Orlando, FL Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: With the polish of a Tooth & Nail band (they worked with James Paul Wisner on their EP), InPASSING have a thick pop-rock sound that dances between sweetness and maturity atop swooping choruses. If you haven’t yet heard of them, hop on the bandwagon before they become yet another Absolute 100 success story.
RIYL: Anberlin, National Product, Sugarcult

Lansdowne – Boston, MA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: While their vocals contain less preteen yelping than you’re used to from today’s rock bands, Lansdowne fit into many genres but none simultaneously. Their music features vivid storytelling and a silky-smooth delivery that ranks them among some of the top unsigned bands out there today.
RIYL: Goo Goo Dolls, Novice, The Classic Crime

Jeremy Larson – Springfield, MO Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Jeremy Larson takes the mantra of DIY in a different sense entirely. Playing every single instrument on his lush, orchestral offerings (think strings, pianos, and such), Larson’s album is an exercise in scope, brilliance, and timelessness. He might be but one man, but he sounds like an army.
RIYL: Sleeping at Last, The Fray, Copeland, Anchor and Braille

Mercy Mercedes – Greensboro, NC Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Now that summer is in full swing, nothing hits the spot like sunny, sugary pop-punk. With a frontman that sounds like the second coming of Will Pugh and a band that constructs danceable, singalong backdrops, this is the soundtrack to warm weather’s best days.
RIYL: The Higher, Cartel, The Friday Night Boys, All Time Low, Jonezetta

Mury – Salt Lake City, UT Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: They’re A fun pop band out of Utah that prides itself in catchy hooks and soaring guitar licks. If you live out west, make sure you see this band next time they’re in town. East coast, you might have to wait a little longer.
RIYL: Jimmy Eat World, Over It, Sherwood

People In Cars – Reston, VA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Aberdien always did a great job of melding together ingredients of both pop and progressive music. When they went on hold in 2006, it appeared all was lost, but Aberdien’s spirit now lives on in Etay Pisano’s new project, People in Cars. Playing all the instruments and carrying out all recoding duties, Pisano single-handedly brings us his continuation of smart prog-pop, sounding less like one man, and more like a veritable army.
RIYL: Aberdien, Anadivine, Circa Survive, You in Series

Raining & OK – Phoenix, AZ Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Raining & OK have an alternative rock sound that is entirely classic – no gimmicks necessary. Whether they are crafting touching acoustic numbers like “Send Your Angels Down” or more traditional rock numbers, Raining & OK do it with the skill and style of like-minded bands from best days of the last two decades.
RIYL: Alive in Wild Paint, Terminal, The Juliana Theory

The Summer Set – Scottsdale, AZ Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: The Militia Group is really flexing their pop muscle this year, as the signing of The Summer Set illustrates. Staying true to their name, this Arizona four-piece might be new to some, but their mastery of cotton candy pop catchiness is at a level most bands won’t reach in a lifetime. Pick up their latest EP, In Color, roll your windows down, and sing along at the top of your lungs. Music is rarely this enjoyable.
RIYL: The Morning Of, Mercy Mercedes

This Time Next Year – Walnut Creek, CA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: They’re quite possibly the best thing to come out of the Nor Cal scene since Set Your Goals peered their heads. They are the ultimate summer pop punk band of the late part of this decade. They’re no Blink-182 or New Found Glory yet, but give them time and they will be.
RIYL: New Found Glory, The Movielife, Hit The Lights, Blink-182

Tiefighter – Los Angeles, CA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Most bands in their supposed genre are pop punk with a hardcore influence, this band is the opposite, they’re a hardcore band with a pop punk influence. Prepare to mosh.
RIYL: Comeback Kid, Blink-182, With Honor, Ambitions

TV/TV – New York, NY Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Think neon, breakdancing and a polished dance pop sensibility that hits the bullseye with hooks and handclaps.
RIYL: Cobra Starship, Metro Station, The Cab

We Are The Union – Ann Arbor, MI Profile | MySpace
Why We Like: Happy hardcore blended with ska-pop courtesy of average joes with a high-octane live show and positive attitude? The question is, why wouldn’t you enjoy them?
RIYL: Big D and The Kids Table, Less Than Jake, Four Year Strong

Weaver At The Loom – St. Paul, MN Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: With their debut EP, I Was Searching and I Found, Weaver at the Loom created a heartbreakingly elegant soundscape. At first sounding a bit like Copeland or This Day and Age, Weaver’s dedication to patience, attention to detail, and exploration of atmospherics truly set them apart. After five songs of aural bliss, we are now anxiously awaiting their follow-up LP, slated to be called The Giving Tree and the Death Machine.
RIYL: Copeland, This Day and Age, Sleeping at Last

The Wedding – Fayetteville, AR Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Matt Shelton has returned in triumphant fashion. His signature stutter-sing pushes The Wedding past every other semi-heavy alt-rock band out there. Their ballads smack as hard as their anthems and you’d be remiss to write a band off for having such an un-emo name.
RIYL: Letter Kills, Set Your Goals, Funeral For A Friend

Astronautalis – Seattle, WA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: We’ve been ranting about this one man band recently, but it might take a couple more times to stress the beauty and flow behind Andy Bothwell and his new full-length, Pomegranate. If Tom Waits could rap, he might sound like this. Keys pounding, lyricism spinning the truth – Astronautalis is a deep layered bluesy indie rock, and we absolutely love it.
RIYL: Tom Waits, Atmosphere, Beck

The Bigger Lights – Virginia City, VA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: A four-piece out of Northern Virginia that’s starting a buzz with their clever pop-rock. Singer Topher Talley’s vocals are brisk and youthful. A watchful eye and the song “Time Stops Breathing” is recommended. The band recently signed to Doghouse Records.
RIYL: Cartel, The Academy Is

Drew Danburry – Provo, UT Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Kitschy and approachable folk pop from Drew Danburry make music that is really hard not to enjoy. And they’re seemingly always on the road, distributing their upbeat indie charm with a dedicated DIY-spirit. 
RIYL: Octoberman, Neil Young, City and Colour, Ben Kweller

E For Explosion – Guthrie, KY Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: E for Explosion is the side project of Jamison Covington, formerly of pop-rock wonder duo, JamisonParker. But these lush soundscapes aren’t all about hooks. Reinventing the Heartbeat is an expansive exploration of atmospheres and shoegazing.
RIYL: Jamison Parker, Wolftron, My Bloody Valentine

Fleet Foxes – Seattle, WA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Because we’re bandwagon jumpers! Duh! But really, the vocal harmonies of this band have made every staff member on this site cry at least once, and some of us (like Steve Henderson and Drew Beringer) are still crying. While they dry their eyes, the rest of us will float off into the woods in a folky and ethereal bliss.
RIYL: The Beach Boys, Barbershop Quartets, The 60’s and/or 70’s

Foxy Shazam – Cincinnati, OH
AP Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Aggressive piano rock that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but isn’t afraid to make you want to dance. Don’t miss the eccentric live show!
RIYL: The Blood Brothers, Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, Andrew W.K.

House Of Heroes – Columbus, OH Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: After being forced to sorta toil away for the last few months, their brilliant LP The End Is Not The End is finally ready for release. Showcasing swift pop-rock numbers and meaningful ballads, the band’s lyrics and musicality shine throughout. They have a 100% approval rating from anyone with a red name, and we all know how picky us staffers can be.
RIYL: Relient K, Midtown, Angela’s Dish

Innerpartysystem – Mohnton, PA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Plucking the best elements from electronic, alternative, and industrial genres, Innerpartysystem patches together a sound that is at once smooth and gritty. With a penchant for arena-sized hooks on top of concussive beats, IPS will make you want to dance, party, and raise all sorts of hell.
RIYL: Joy Division, New Order, The Killers, new AFI, Nine Inch Nails, The Faint, Shiny Toy Guns

Lannen Fall – Boston, MA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: These Boston boys blaze through their hooks with ease. Vocalist Jay throws down choruses with umph and slight hit of grit, which makes this pop-rock more than just slip-n-slide. Give “Dead Air” a try.
RIYL: Mayday Parade, Sugarcult, Plain White T’s

Liam and Me – Philadelphia, PA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Liam and Me touch post punk and pop rock with flair for the eighties. The slightly vintage electronica is danceable but often complex, and topped with a sweet and nasally vocal style.
RIYL: Action Action, Panic at the Disco

Living With Lions – Vancouver, BC, CA Profile | MySpace
Why We Like: Following in the footsteps of other tour-’til-you-die Canadian bands inspired by hardcore and pop-punk, these Canucks bring the party wherever they go, in every way, shape and form.
RIYL: Daggermouth, The Wonder Years, Fireworks!

Looking Glass Wars – Westchester, NY Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: A band with deep, complex album concepts to complement their rumbling dark rock, Looking Glass Wars are mysterious. Their jazzy (but heavy) guitars and bull-headed basslines aren’t here for small talk.
RIYL: Bayside, Deja Entendu Brand New

Love&Reverie - Richmond, VA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: With an outstanding attention to detail and enough tour endurance to last even the toughest roads, Love&Reverie impress us on and off the stage. But when they do pick up those instruments, the five-piece is careful to weave through atmospheric soundscapes that can be both progressive and catchy. 
RIYL: Circa Survive, Deas Vail, Days Away, Park

Madelyn – Ft. Lauderdale, FL Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Madelyn’s sound can best be described as powerpop with more than enough pieces of flair to get you hooked. Sing-along choruses and smooth songwriting keep their songs fresh and dancing around in your head for days like that the memories of that girl you met at the bar the other night.
RIYL: Brave Citizens, Drive By, Forever The Sickest Kids

Maps & Atlases – Chicago, IL Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Enjoy the guitar acrobatics of Minus the Bear? Now imagine what they’d sound like with two lead guitarists and a love for Hella.
RIYL: Minus The Bear, Hella, Clean guitar tones

Me As Time – Manchester, NH Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: This band is what would happen if the lead singer from Emery was surrounded by the music of Angels and Airwaves. Great rock music with delay pedal guitar solos reminiscent of The Graduate, it’s clear to see why we picked this band with one listen. They craft one hell of a song, and their recent EP, Movement, is proof that it’s not just a fluke. Definitely keep an eye out for this band
RIYL: Anberlin, Emery, The Graduate

The Method To My Medium – Bloomington, IN Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: This Bloomington, Indiana quintet knows how to make a catchy tune without bludgeoning you over the head with Autotune and overdubbed electronics. Their debut EP, The Sincerities EP features huge choruses backed by big, buzzing guitars, which will lead to TMTMM heating up your summer playlist.
RIYL: Motion City Soundtrack, The Years Gone By

The Morning Of – Newburgh, NY Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: We are all suckers for boy/girl pop-rock on some level, and The Morning Of sure know it. Weaving together tunes rich in pop exuberance, TMO is a band that accomplishes what only the best pop acts can do – they make us feel young again with that big silly grin they plaster across our faces.
RIYL: The Summer Set, Mae, Kenotia

The Ready Aim Fire! – Los Angeles, CA Profile | MySpace
Why We Like: Slick, bouncy and poignant, this group of Californians bring a delectable slice of indie rock mixed with alt-rock flair for a debut that is sure to set the scene ablaze with adoring fans.
RIYL: Death Cab For Cutie, Weatherbox, The Honorary Title

Settings – Buffalo, NY Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: Without even listening to Settings’ music, it’s clear that this band is going places. With a hugely successful run on 2008’s Warped Tour, a spot on MTV’s TRL, and a new EP, this unsigned band is ready to storm the scene. Fortunately, they have the music to back up their hype, which is undeniably fun to rock to and a live show that is as spot-on as any currently in the scene.
RIYL: Ivoryline, Saosin, The Receiving End of Sirens

Stop Motion Poetry – Modesto, CA Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: With only a few songs under their belt, it is astonishing how Stop Motion Poetry manages to create such honest, mature songs. Combining the best elements that serene piano pop has to offer, their music is just as at home underscoring a romantic date as it is a drive through a steady rain.
RIYL: Semisonic, The Fray, Waking Ashland, Jack’s Mannequin

The Coming Weak – Providence, RI Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: With a set of crisp tunes produced by fave Mike Poorman, The Coming Weak combine the best of a number of genres. Pop-punk, straight up rock, whatever you want – it’s all on the Consider This EP, whose standout vocals and instrumentation may just put Rhode Island on the musical map.
RIYL: Anberlin, Therefore I Am

There For Tomorrow – Orlando, FL Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: It’s no secret we love a good dose of powerpop here at TfT surprised a lot of people with their energy and talent at such young ages. Labels and plenty of enthusiastic fans have taken notice, making this band a quintessential one “to watch,” hence them making this list. Duh.
RIYL: Cartel, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Hit The Lights

This Is Ivy League – New York, NY Profile | Myspace
Why We Like: It may offend your hipster sensibilities to know that This Is Ivy League, the former band/current side-project of Cobra Starship’s guitarist and bassist, is actually one of the most engaging indie pop bands we’ve heard in quite some time. However, the duo provides a fresh take with their tightly woven tales and folksy-pop appeal, earning a spot on this year’s list.
RIYL: Of Montreal with less quirk, Coldplay, The Essex Green

We Shot The Moon – San Diego, CA Profile | MySpace
Why We Like: Two of indie-pop’s most melodic acts (Waking Ashland and Sherwood) are brought together, brewing up some of the most gracious piano-laden pop tracks you’re sure to be humming well into 2009.
RIYL: Ben Folds, Jack’s Mannequin, Waking Ashland

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