This vibrant gang of musicians is approaching 2016 from all different angles.
Dilly Dally and more...
It would be nice for Toronto's music scene to be known for more than the hip-hop of Drake and the indie outfit Broken Social Scene. Grunge-lovers can finally rest assured knowing that their genre's scene has the bruised and dirty Dilly Dally. The band is bound to break ground with their blend of Pixies-inspired cooing, brilliant flickers of guitar riffs courtesy of Liz Ball, and the extremely grimy vocal tendencies of Katie Monks, all especially prominent on their single "Desire". While their image could be described by pictures of blood-splattered vanilla ice cream cones, they hold a promising madness to each scream and blaring instrumentation. Dilly Dally's debut record Sore already demonstrates that Canadians can grit their teeth and bite. -- Dustin Ragucos
"Soundcloud" could, and should, be its own genre. There's a definitive aesthetic to the producers whose work is disseminated on that site, and 2015 saw the sound break onto the mainstream stage in the form of Bryson Tiller's "Don't". Utilizing pitched-down vocals in the backing production and sparse, slow drums, the style perfected online has finally begun to see its day in the sun. Few producers are as equipped to capitalize as Sam Gellaitry, whose glacial trap is all at once euphoric and pensive, nodding to the potential of being one of the most sought-after producers of the Soundcloud era. -- Brian Duricy
A Giant Dog
A Giant Dog is a lean rock and roll band from Austin, Texas known for its blistering live shows. The band has previously put out two records: 2012's Fight and 2013's Bone Both albums distill the band's strengths -- the deep hooks, the powerful rhythm section, singer Sabrina Ellis's strong, rangy vocals -- into sets of catchy rock 'n' rock jams. But now the band has signed with Merge Records and is prepping their third record for release in early 2016. The album was produced by Mike McCarthy, who also produced Bone. With a new album on Merge, one of the great live bands working will have a pretty good excuse to light out onto the road and play all around, building their name on the strength of a new record. And if there's any justice, a band that already has the kind of material they have can build their audience by leaps and bounds next year. Sure, we've got plenty of garage rock band -- or bands we pigeon-hole as garage rock -- but A Giant Dog is neither of those. This is a band that reminds you that whatever else rock and roll can be, it's got to be primal, it's got to be raw, it's got to be sneering, and it's got to be really goddamn fun. -- Matt Fiander
Hardcore band G.L.O.S.S.'s biggest story this year was one they would rather not have been a part of. In the condensed version, indie shoegaze band Whirr lobbed some pretty disgusting transphobic vitriol toward them over Twitter, which lead to Whirr being dropped by their label and fans of both bands engaging in a ridiculous feud known only to the digital age. While the incident had some serious consequences for Whirr, its biggest effect was in showing why all the rage and fury in G.L.O.S.S.'s music, which takes a radical approach to advocating for transgender issues (their name stands for "Girls Living Outside Society's Shit"), was so necessary and powerful. Their 2015 release, DEMO, is a condensed channel for frustration and aggression toward a culture that largely refuses to accept the validity of the transgender community, full of incredibly pointed lyrics, classic, blistering punk, and, more importantly, a truly indispensable message. Ostensibly G.L.O.S.S. can push even further in 2016, hopefully without their biggest piece of press being about how people still refuse to listen. -- Colin Fitzgerald
L.A.'s own Girlpool consists of only two members, guitarist Cleo Tucker and bassist Harmony Tividad. It's appropriate they have a member named Harmony as much of the thrill of their music comes from the duo's uniquely beautiful vocal harmonies. Beneath the two's harmonies, particularly on this year's album Before the World Was Big, sit some impeccable songwriting. While chordally simple, their songs contain impressively complex structures and lyrical ideas. For example, the album's title track alternates between 4/4 verses and a 3/4 chorus. They connect the two in a way that's simultaneously seamless and viscerally exciting and then double down, breaking the ending down into a choral round. Their song "Chinatown" contains the year's best individual line in the question "do you feel restless when you realize you're alive?" Before the World Was Big features a lo-fi recording sound reminiscent of their earlier Bandcamp recordings, but without the occasional shrillness that those recordings fell into. With a little more polish, their music seems poised for an indie pop breakthrough within the next year. -- Logan Austin
Hannah Diamond is the least strange of all the people/CGI groups who make up PC Music's roster. That might happen because she's the closest said label has got to a popstar. The archetype of a popstar, I should add, however. Currently working on her debut album, Diamond's artistic persona exists in between those spaces. In "Attachment", her best single released to date, she sings of a relationship that exists only in the internet. That's a proper announcement for the kind of pop music she makes and what she (and PC Music as a whole) seems to represent: pop music is all about keeping up appareances. Somehow, in 2015 that still sounds transgressive. And sad and beautiful, just like Hannah Diamond's music. -- Danilo Bortoli
In 2016, Hinds could prove somewhat divisive. This is obviously a good thing. Their ramshackle, raw, rough-edged nature won't appeal to all, but this Spanish quartet's debut Leave Me Alone has charm, spirit and sincerity in spades. In our airbrushed, 'plastic-perfect' fakery age it feels refreshingly real. Irresistibly alive and kicking. A dozen spiky, '60s kicks and '90s garage rock barnstormers which shimmy 'n' shake like a hot, late August evening spent with your best mates from school. Yeah life's still mostly about the party but there are a few minor-chord clouds on the horizon too. Hinds' riotous live happenings are already the stuff of myth and legend and they're coming to get you. Let yourself be converted. -- Matt James
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Having formed in 2011 in Melbourne, Australia, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are gaining more traction in North America every day, and justifiably so. They've released four albums in the past two years alone, and they've already demonstrated that they are capable of more variety from album to album than the unimpeachable Thee Oh Sees. 2014's I'm in Your Mind Fuzz slayed a spooky heavy-psych vibe, which was greatly contrasted by 2015's Quarters, a record consisting of four ten-minute jazz-rock jams, followed up mere months later by the breezy, low-key Paper Mâché Dream Balloon, all three of them superior to respectable recent releases by Tame Impala and Temples. What's more, they can bring all of their profound spark to life in the live setting, as proven in their increasingly frequent stateside tours. They not only sound like some fantastic hybrid of Traffic, Jethro Tull and Frank Zappa in the studio, but they can actually play like it, and they arguably have the greatest band name in the music history. They can only get bigger from here. -- Alan Ranta