Rock is obvs not dead but it's not hard to see why people always say it is, almost wishfully. For decades, the most commercially viable (and even critically bolstered) rock was dominated by white dudes, which is troublesome considering how many of its pioneers, including the dearly departed, radically queer genius Little Richard, were not. And considering how many boomers put the genre on a pedestal while finding creatively bigoted ends for disco and rap, it wasn't exactly sad to watch visionaries of other genres, particularly R&B and hip-hop, inarguably revolutionized the 2010s more than any guitar-bass-drums unit. It was great, actually\u00a0\u2014 a relief. A reckoning. But that doesn't mean we have to dismiss rock; if anything, giving the genre something to prove has only made its best practitioners hungrier. And while much of the best rock'n'roll has always been queer (from H\u00fcsker D\u00fc to R.E.M.), non-white (from X-Ray Spex to TV on the Radio), and non-cis male (from Bikini Kill to... I mean, we're not gonna just list thousands of women), the landscape, amateur-hour dictatorship aside, finally seems primed to recognize it. Here are 50 mostly guitar-wielding innovators, barnburners, and eardrum-ruiners to help get you through this dogshit year. Please consume and love it all. And play loud, because they rip. 50. Hum Hometown: Champaign, IL Why We Love Them: If Lush measures a 2 on the Swervedriver-O-Meter and My Bloody Valentine a 7, Hum is a solid 9. Unlike most American disciples of the shoegaze boom, this Illinois-based band delivered metallic riffs \u2014 riffs sludgy and heavy enough to earn fans like Deftones (Chino Moreno famously cited the band as an influence), Deafheaven, and possibly other metal bands beginning with the letter \u201cD.\u201d Hum\u2019s appealing mix of fuzzy swirl, post-hardcore intensity, and interstellar imagery reached its peak on 1995\u2019s You'd Prefer an Astronaut, which even produced a minor rock radio hit with \u201cStars.\u201d The band\u2019s brief major-label run concluded with 1998\u2019s Downward Is Heavenward, which also seemed to be the end of the band\u2019s recording career \u2014 until a month ago. Inlet, the band\u2019s new, long-rumored fifth album, evokes cosmic expanse with lengthy, extravagantly textured burners like \u201cDesert Rambler\u201d and \u201cThe Summoning.\u201d Welcome back. Finest Moment: Hum has only made one album in Lil Nas X\u2019s lifetime. So in terms of recent achievements, the wholly unexpected Inlet \u2014 surprise-released in June \u2014 takes the cake-disguised-as-a-delay-pedal-until-you-cut-into-it. \u2014 Zach Schonfeld https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/DiORO6E7rYQ 49. Spanish Love Songs Hometown: Los Angeles, CA Why We Love Them: Spanish Love Songs, a band much too sad to actually be from L.A., has taken the Springsteemo cocktail mastered by Philly stalwarts the Wonder Years and the Menzingers and spiked it with more concentrated Hollywood angst, courtesy of tormented frontman Dylan Slocum. Ravaging tracks like \u201cRoutine Pain\u201d and \u201cLoser,\u201d highlights from the band\u2019s killer February LP Brave Faces Everyone, smack you square in the sternum \u2014 hurtling pop-punk riffs and tales of depression, addiction and existential crises, born from the band\u2019s rigorous pre-pandemic touring schedule. But as with all good emo-punk, it\u2019s only fun if there\u2019s some catharsis tucked away, too. And deep within the bleak, there are glimmers of redemption. Maybe we\u2019ll all be okay. Probably not. Finest Moment: The too-real opening verse of \u201cGeneration Loss,\u201d where Slocum wails: \u201cYou 29-year-old panic attack \/ And not the fashionable kind \/ The kind where you wake up and\u2005say \u2018Man,\u2005I just wanna\u2005survive.\u2019" \u2014 Bobby Olivier https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/1Mizd6nwJEc 48. Coriky Hometown: Washington, D.C. Why We Love Them: The Ex Hex to Fugazi's Helium, you can tell Ian MacKaye's new trio with wife Amy Farina (they were both formerly the Evens) and Fugazi's Joe Lally is the most fun he's had in years, with the simplest and most succinct tunes of possibly his career \u2014 dare you to not hear flickers of Grease's "Summer Nights" in "Hard to Explain." On their just-released self-titled debut, Farina's pounding drums and Lally's crawling bass are given roomfuls of atmosphere to walk around in; rarely has a power trio been perfectly content to not fill the audio space. The parity is refreshing, too: "Say Yes" and "Too Many Husbands" are almost entirely Farina's show and absolutely the funkiest things MacKaye's ever been part of. A best-case scenario for an artistic democracy in miniature. Finest Moment: The most Fugazi thing on Coriky is "Inauguration Day," which begins, "Forecast calls for an execution," if you thought Mr. Straight Edge lost any of his political bite. \u2014 Dan Weiss https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/RIHjRI6huRU 47. The Voidz Hometown: New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA Why We Love Them: Anything and everything can happen in a Voidz song. Acoustic blues, heavy metal, deep prog, funk, pop, the 8-bit Freon-chill a bank of synthesizers creates \u2014 sometimes individually, sometimes en masse. This three-guitar sextet firmed and led by Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas pursue this alchemy with true heart and enthusiasm, a go-for-broke gusto that makes 2014\u2019s Tyranny, 2018\u2019s Virtue, and a handful of 2019 one-off cuts a stoner\u2019s sonic amusement park. Here, Casablancas has free rein to indulge his whims beyond the sleek, robotic rock-populism the Strokes are constitutionally mandated to champion. His accompanying sentiments\u00a0\u2014 a m\u00e9lange of Trustafarian contrarianism, personal philosophy, and passive-aggressive winks allegedly targeting different Strokes\u00a0\u2014 complement a musical aesthetic inclined to melodic overload. This excess sidles to tender, epic life on the 11-minute \u201cHuman Sadness\u201d and informs \u201cWink,\u201d a roiling, cutting synth-pop bop that threatens to transform into reggae or an alternate 90210 theme. Theirs are consummate \u201colder brother\u201d records, arriving a couple of decades too late. Finest Moment: The syncopated, Pacific Coast haze of 2018's \u201cPermanent High School,\u201d complete with plastic falsetto.\u00a0\u2014 Raymond Cummings https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/6J5VVSsHJ38 46. Bad Moves Hometown: Washington, D.C. Why We Love Them: The catchiest band ever to bear the honorable Don Giovanni legend on their product (and the least, uh, discordant punk-adjacent band to ever hail from D.C.) make cheerleader chants for Bill Barr's guillotining. Bad Moves stack hooks like a cotton candy cone spun to the heavens, albeit on a 2020 sophomore album called Untenable that asks "You think that poverty's a role-play, baby?" and laments the plight of the "the worker, the smothered, Dickensian sucker." It's more downcast than 2018's excellent Tell No One, which for this band simply means "all-syrup Squishee" rather than "black-tar Pixy Stix." But it also means between that between the "Hot Child in the City" palm-mutes and prerequisite whoa-oh refrains that you get snippets like "There's a genocide of the poor" and "I got myself a SIM card, it\u2019s prepaid \/ To tell me just what\u2019s wrong with me." Finest Moment: "Spirit FM," the best power-pop song of 2018, is more euphoric than catching the bouquet at a queer wedding, which is fitting for a song about realizing at church camp that your crush is the same gender as you. \u2014 D.W. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/p8PlnfNoySY 45. Body Count Hometown: Los Angeles, CA Why We Love Them: In gangsta rap's early-'90s pomp, Ice-T was often the clearest about exactly what force had created this most natively Reaganite of genres' volatile brew of social realism and sociopathic fantasy, class analysis and moral trolling. His clarity-first flow, cutting through mixes like a cold-hearted Chuck D, painted a blasted American landscape organized from elegant top to gory bottom on the principle of all-against-all. Since their 2010s revival, Body Count\u00a0\u2014 formed on Ice's own admission to "just to let one of my best friends, Ernie C, play his guitar"\u00a0\u2014 has given our more-Reagan-than-Reagan era the more-gangsta-than-gangsta soundtrack it badly needs. ("Give me a fucking break," he groans on "Black Hoodie," "I've been talking about this shit for over 20 years.") So 2017's Bloodlust didn't so much "fuse" political paranoia ("Civil War," featuring Megadeth's Dave Mustaine in the role of Jello Biafra) with horrorcore violence ("Here I Go Again") and straight-up Marxist agitprop ("No Lives Matter") but reveal each to be an already-fused facet of life as a fully alienated economic monad for whom society is nothing but murdering gangs from the cops down and the cops up. And this year's Carnivore opens by folding a goofy meat-eating anthem full of T-rex roars neatly into the band's moral universe (what's more capitalist than the food chain?) and closes with a diagnosis of medical precision: "The love is fake \/ But the hate is real." The genuine Blackpill. Finest Moment: Their remake of Suicidal Tendencies' classic "Institutionalized," because \u2014 again\u00a0\u2014 the only thing more wanting a Pepsi than wanting a Pepsi is wanting to kill some motherfuckers on Xbox.\u00a0\u2014 Theon Weber https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/hlk7o5T56iw 44. 2nd Grade Hometown: Philadelphia, PA Why We Love Them: "We live in a punk-rock world \/ Oooh-oooh, oooh-oooh," sings Peter Gill on 2020's astounding Hit to Hit, which honors both sentiments by sounding like Big Star if Alex Chilton had Bob Pollard's ADHD, across 24 tunes that only break the two-minute mark on a quarter of the record. Homemade-sounding music is often championed for its roughness-as-realism, but Gill's band shows how gorgeous and pristine the DIY life can be, albeit by leading with the Beach Boys rockabilly of "W-2," a tax-form lament for anyone just trying to get their fucking quarantine check. Treat their breakthrough album as a thought-experiment about what would happen if you straightened all the crooked lines in Wowee Zowee and marvel at how much fractured beauty is still there. Finest Moment: "Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider" is "September Gurls" for a generation that first experienced "Little Honda" via Yo La Tengo's I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One.\u00a0\u2014 D.W. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/xUoJjdlSRwY 43. Otoboke Beaver Hometown: Kyoto, Japan Why We Love Them: On every track, Kyoto\u2019s self-described "Japanese girls 'knock out or pound cake' band\u201d unleash a delicious rage so compact you could dropkick it down the block. With relatable, pithy titles like \u201c6-day working week is a pain\u201d and this year\u2019s astute Valentine\u2019s single \u201cDirty old fart is waiting for my reaction,\u201d each of their songs is a bomb shorter than its title that detonates on the micro absurdities of existing in the world as a woman. 2019\u2019s Itekoma Hits compiled new tracks alongside older singles in 26 minutes, framing Accorinrin\u2019s snarl among Yoyoyoshie\u2019s, Hiro-Chan\u2019s, and Kahokiss\u2019s mind-boggling command of breakneck rhythm buttressing the demolition. The resulting album captures rage at its deadliest, most satisfying flashpoint. Finest Moment: Their 18-second song \u201cikezu\u201d (and its Naoyuki-Asano-directed music video), which hit with the efficiency of an aneurysm. \u2014 Stefanie Fern\u00e1ndez https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/fkWfFXnLpYg 42. Foxing Hometown: St. Louis, MO Why We Love Them:\u00a0Foxing has become one of indie-rock\u2019s most juiced-up alpha-sluggers, calling its towering shots and clobbering homers into the Busch Stadium parking lot. The valiant six-piece led by singer Conor Murphy swung big with their soaring 2018 LP Nearer My God, which landed somewhere between American Football\u2019s disconsolate debut and Radiohead\u2019s blinking Hail to the Thief. It\u2019s a sincerely commanding effort; 90 seconds into the emphatic album opener \u201cGrand Paradise,\u201d as Murphy shrieks the unforgettable phrase \u201cshock-collared at the gates of heaven!\u201d and the full band kicks in, it\u2019s an arena-worthy moment for a band that plays to hundreds, not thousands. Yet those live shows are teeming with the group\u2019s unapologetic self-belief \u2014 Foxing plays like it wants to be the rock band that saves your life. If concerts ever return, you better believe those clubs will be full. Finest Moment:\u00a0\u201cNearer My God,\u201d the title track, in all its triumphant, anguished, soul-affirming glory \u2014 the Hotelier-worshipping Missouri grandson of Queen\u2019s \u201cI Want to Break Free.\u201d \u2014 B.O. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/umMI3u_-C78 41. Pearl Jam Hometown:\u00a0Seattle, Washington Why We Love Them:\u00a0\u201cBest album since Yield\u201d is nearly as much of a Pearl Jam clich\u00e9 as \u201cbest since Tattoo You\u201d is a Stones clich\u00e9, but this year Pearl Jam really did release their best album in 20 years. No, it doesn\u2019t quite match the band\u2019s flannel-clad glory days. But Gigaton is a rare beast: a late-career album from a respected but quiet legacy band that manages to update their sound without losing the qualities that attracted fans in the first place. With a sense of urgency buoyed by Eddie Vedder\u2019s avowedly anti-Trump fury, it\u2019s certainly better than \u2014 Thunder Struck was it called? Finest Moment: In recent memory? It\u2019s got to be \u201cDance of the Clairvoyants,\u201d an uncharacteristically funky spin on Talking Heads paranoia that consummates Gigaton\u2019s stature as the most adventurous Pearl Jam album in two decades. \u2014 Z.S. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/ymf7DZUeVow 40. Skeleton Hometown: Austin, TX Why We Love Them:\u00a0Texas runs metalpunk, and Skeleton runs Texas. The Austin trio exemplifies Texas\u2019 style of just going harder than everyone else, merging early thrash and first-wave black metal\u2019s frayed swagger. Drummer and vocalist Victor Ziolkowski is a tank snarling and pounding with firm command and killer intentions; his brother, guitarist David, slashes many '80s styles through his own punky lens, efficient yet wholly expressive. Skeleton are youthful insurgents like Texas legends Iron Age and Power Trip before them, taking the best from the old Gods without aping them mindlessly. Every generation needs such a band. Victor also heads I Hate I Skate, which (in the before times) puts on shows unleashing the youngest, hungriest, and weirdest punks in Austin. He knows in Texas, real recognize real. Finest Moment:\u00a0\u201cRing of Fire,\u201d no relation to the official anthem of clueless tourists gorging boot-leather brisket in downtown Austin, shows a wounded majesty to their rage with David eking mournful airs from Celtic Frost\u2019s mid-paced grandeur. \u2014 Andy O'Connor https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/NzrxDS4uodw 39. Flasher Hometown: Washington, D.C. Why We Love Them:\u00a0Imagine the Breeders covering XTC\u2019s \u201cMaking Plans for Nigel\u201d with Andy Partridge on guest vocals. That kind of comes close, but not really; Flasher knows who they are and don\u2019t give a shit what you think. After signing to Domino Records, they released their 2018 debut, Constant Image, one of the most inventive post-punk records of the last decade made by three musicians who gel like conjoined triplets. (That\u2019s the difference between a good band and a great band: the ability to sound effortless, like one freaky entity, not a bunch of people playing against one another.) Flasher\u2019s lyrics are smart and, if you look for it, political, but not so direct that you can\u2019t escape the references, if you just want to melt into the music and forget how polarized America is in 2020. These D.C. bubble-punks are infectious, anthemic, and easy on the eyes. We won\u2019t be looking away anytime soon. Finest Moment: The hilarious, fast-paced, chop-and-drop video for "Material" takes the piss out of YouTube, flash-dancing, the Illuminati, and, most close-to-home for these former Comet Ping Pong employees, #pizzagate. (Vocalist\/bassist Danny Saperstein even appeared in the 2020 documentary, After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News talking about the scandal.) Flasher confronts the homophobic pizza spazz by dressing up like Marina Abramovic, cock-punching, and lampooning conspiracy-theory Vloggers. \u2014 M.B.W. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/Xec88kwLZ1Q 38. Dumb Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia Why We Love Them: Try to resist a unit that Brooklyn Vegan described as "a whole band made of Jimbos from The Simpsons." If Danger Mouse was the last straw for you with Parquet Courts, here's the Stooges to their Velvet Underground, an all-spikes sarcasm brigade formed around the holy mission to Make Indie Angular Again on 2018's deliciously discordant Seeing Green and 2019's slightly craftier Club Nites. Just check the Archers of Loaf grungebursts that punctuate Dumb's "Submission" or the manic Beefheart-sliding-on-a-dessert-cart-into-a-wall spree of "My Condolences." And they even mock their own revival with an anti-anthem called "Slacker Needs Serious Work." Finest Moment:\u00a0The only time Dumb break g\/b\/d allegiance is to stick a gloriously honking sax solo at the end of "Beef Hits," revealing their most furious song as their silliest, as most angry dweebs boil down to anyway. \u2014 D.W. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/35Br8MfTYDU 37. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever Hometown: Melbourne, Australia Why We Love Them:\u00a0Unlike the more pillowy Tame Impala who pivoted away from it, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever stick with what they know best: Bringing out the anxious intensity of moody and melodic three-guitar jangle like some kind of upside-down-timeline Skynyrd. That in itself would please the graying rock fans in 2020, but it comes with immense hooks that that would make Miracle Legion steal their own songs back from Pete and Pete. Yep, RBCF can really do it all \u2014 at least for those shelves boast dusty \u201cRadio Free Europe\u201d seven-inches. And their festival-stealing live show (should they ever get to put on one again) ensures their best days will happen sooner than later. Finest Moment: Following 2018\u2019s assured Hope Downs, June's Sideways to New Italy, showed not only a tremendous leap in lyricism (touching on their own individual histories and interconnectivity as a whole) but the intricate musicianship that made a triple-songwriter unit the most promising act to come from Down Under since, oh, you know who. \u2014 Daniel Kohn https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/G93J8FKmrn0 36. Algiers Hometown: Atlanta, GA Why We Love Them:\u00a0"Yeah, yeah, I see," nods an overbearing critic-fan-inquisitor on Algiers' 2019 single "Can the Sub_Bass Speak?", "it's kinda like, gospel-punk. Soul-punk. Soul-rock. Doom-soul?" He doesn't like it (though he does muse that it reminds him of every Black rock band he can think of, from Fishbone to TV on the Radio). But if you're at all interested in hearing sharply political call-and-response gospel vocals filtered thru pop-punk songwriting and arranged by one of the best live bands on the planet into a smoldering, jittery roar, these guys are your only option. Each album starting with their eponymous 2015 debut has built on the last, further crystallizing that famous gospel-punk-soul-punk-soul-rock-doom-soul sound; in early 2020, they released not only the explosive There Is No Year but a flood of show-length live recordings on Bandcamp that show off their squall and wail in its essence. Finest Moment: Live in Atlanta: The Last Show on Earth, on which the band returned to their hometown in March 2020 to tear up OutKast and Childish Gambino covers in front of an audibly rapturous crowd days before the city would shut down: The sound of gathering a last harvest of community before this strange, indefinite winter. \u2014 T.W. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/bwKTIQuH5ug 35. L.O.T.I.O.N. Multinational Corporation Hometown: New York, NY Why We Love Them:\u00a0L.O.T.I.O.N. Multinational Corporation were over 2020 before 2020 even began. Led by acclaimed punk artist Alexander Heir, the industrial punk quartet wage war against the future. Heir references Terminator\u2019s unfeeling T-800s frequently in his art and L.O.T.I.O.N. is definitely human tissue over metal exoskeleton: d-beats are mechanized, guitars are noisy rail guns splattering what\u2019s left of humanity, and Heir\u2019s own vocals are primal yawps ensnared in digital servitude. They\u2019re screaming that the future is a robotic wasteland out of our control, if we ever had control in the first place. Is there a band more made for our moment? Finest Moment:\u00a0Computers may not have a heartbeat, but they do have rhythm: \u201cI.C.B.M.\u201d is dance-punk for dancing on the graves of our futures. \u2014 A.O. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/Rl_QXGch7cc 34.\u00a0Wolf Alice Hometown: London, England Why We Love Them:\u00a0Name a better Britrock band in 2020, we\u2019ll wait. (The 1975 themselves would tell you they don\u2019t count, though that only makes them more rock.) Wolf Alice\u2019s Mercury Prize-winning breakthrough record, 2017\u2019s uproariously good Visions of a Life, fused crunchy post-grunge, hypnotic shoegaze, and deliciously dissonant noise-rock into a project that was both ethereal and urgent \u2014 a banner leap from their 2015 debut LP, My Love Is Cool. Singer\/guitarist Ellie Rowsell is a ferocious, era-traipsing acrobat \u2014 she could\u2019ve easily jammed alongside Morrissey in \u201884, Bilinda Butcher in \u201891 or Shirley Manson in \u201898 \u2014 and has no trouble toggling between sonic maelstroms (\u201cYuk Foo\u201d), Arctic-Monkeys-esque bar-rock (\u201cBeautifully Unconventional\u201d) and sweeping indie showstoppers (\u201cDon\u2019t Delete the Kisses\u201d). Not to mention the band\u2019s live show kicks your teeth in. Finest Moment:\u00a0The perfect back-to-back stack of \u201cYuk Foo\u201d and \u201cBeautifully Unconventional\u201d \u2014 two songs, each precisely two minutes and 13 seconds, shooting an epic swirl of fury from a confetti cannon of melody. \u2014 B.O. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/etn4P80K5WU 33. The 1975 Hometown: Wilmslow, Cheshire, England Why We Love Them:\u00a0From their early days churning out face-slap pop-punk basslines to their now-endless journey crafting highly-anticipated, everything-an-experiment albums that no critic can ever agree on, Matty Healy and his boys have taken the Only Band That Matters™ mantle from U2 and they're not shy about it (they let us know). Their fourth album, Notes on a Conditional Form, throws away any sense of cohesion, with folk songs nobody asked for (that we're still cool with) and period pieces that could've graced the Empire Records soundtrack or\u00a0played Warped Tour in the early 2000s. For a year when nobody knows that hell is going on or if we\u2019ll ever escape for that matter, we could always use a big-ass album and a band unafraid to overthink it. Finest Moment:\u00a0\u201c(Tonight) I Wish I Was Your Boy\u201d and that fire-ass, chipmunked Temptations sample. \u2014 Brenton Blanchet https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/NF47oaT6qzc 32. Meet Me @ The Altar Hometowns: Florida, Georgia, New Jersey Why We Love Them:\u00a0Meet Me @ The Altar so lovingly summon the cues of \u201800s-era pop-punk and emo with an emotional intelligence and maturity that the genre\u2019s most visible (re: white) sad boys never really lived up to. Based in three different states after discovering each other on YouTube, singer Edith Johnson, guitarist and bassist T\u00e9a Campbell, and drummer Ada Juarez command their instruments with an attention to detail that belies the fact that they usually only get a day or two to practice in person before shows (and that was pre-pandemic). These three young women of color create with a care befitting internet friends, paying homage to and carving out their own place in a genre notorious for gatekeeping its sound and sadness from anyone who isn\u2019t a suburban white boy, and hold Paramore as a sacrosanct influence. The challenges of social distancing during the pandemic are real for any band, and must be especially for these three, but they\u2019ve already overcome separation with ease. Finest Moment:\u00a0The delicious, math-y first 20 seconds of their 2020 single \u201cGarden\u201d grow into one of 2020\u2019s hardest, tenderest punk choruses. \u2014 S.F. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/AW2Asuh6jZY 31. Vampire Weekend Hometown: New York, NY Why We Love Them:\u00a0These guys don't make mistakes. The deepening complexity of the tightly wound miniatures on their first three albums reached on 2013's Modern Vampires of the City what felt like the absolute maximum allowable density, hanging the most intricately constructed pop-rock this side of the New Pornographers on the breeze and lightness of highlife and harpsichord like jet engines suspended in spiderwebs. It's an apotheosis, but it was unsustainable, which is why Father of the Bride is a relaxed, guest-studded country-rock sprawl, a letting out of breath. Or at least it seems so, before you go back and listen to the bridge of "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" or the chilled electronic burble of "Diplomat's Son", and remember this band has always known exactly how good space sounds\u00a0\u2014 and that they were just as arch and undeluded on their first album about the rarefied life of Ivy League whiteness as they are on their fourth about the even further rarefied life of rock stardom. If you're gonna have bards of privilege\u00a0\u2014 and you're gonna; that's what privilege is \u2014 you're about as lucky to have V-Dubz as you were to have F. Scott Fitzgerald. Be careful in Hollywood, guys. Finest Moment: Probably this. \u2014 T.W. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/sKDesEcDrcc 30. High on Fire Hometown: Oakland, CA and Portland, OR Why We Love Them:\u00a0Because not loving Matt Pike would be like not loving Santa Claus. (If Santa Claus was a beefy, bare-chested Godfather of stoner metal who was responsible for some of the best music of the last four decades.) Since forming in 1998, High on Fire haven\u2019t stopped churning out iconic thrash albums accompanied by insanely loud and driving live shows that make you want to flip over every table in the bar. Though the trio has switched out members a few times over the years (longtime drummer, Dez Kesnel left the band last June), it hasn\u2019t changed the band\u2019s sound, speed, or intense tour schedule. With reliably esoteric lyrics atop steel-driving drums and sludgy riffs in latter-day sledgehammers like \u201cGod of the Godless\u201d and \u201cCarcoa,\u201d High on Fire have become the premier cult favorite for metal fans, and Pike is possibly even the rightful successor to Mot\u00f6rhead's Lemmy. Finest Moment:\u00a0When High on Fire accepted their 2019 Best Metal Performance Grammy for their late-career peak, Electric Messiah, onlookers noticed that Pike swaggered off with a cane and bubbly space boot on his foot, fueling rumors that he had a diabetes-related problem. But Pike clarified in an interview that the fucked-up toe that had been plaguing him for years had finally been cut off. After a grueling tour schedule with no off-days and even fewer cleaner showers, the injury turned into a serious bone infection leaving Pike on stage with a \u201cfucking hotdog in my sock.\u201d The podiatrist had to amputate the infected toe, to which Pike replied, \u201cFuck it, good riddance. That toe caused me nothing but problems, so fuck that thing.\u201d \u2014 M.B.W. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/ZOdZZ-hnToE 29. tricot Hometown: Kyoto, Japan Why We Love Them: Because on 2020's Makkuro they make math-rock sound not just cool and sleek but sexy and danceable, from the opening disco strains of "Unou Sanou (\u53f3\u8133\u5de6\u8133)" to the ferocious climax of "Mitete (\u307f\u3066\u3066)," which begins as a jazzy Esperanza Spalding trifle. Because their compositions sound like they actually calculated \u03c0 beyond its first few digits and took the care to ensure that all their abstract moving parts would find a cushioned landing. Because Ikkyu Nakajima has absorbed R&B in her singing. Because their song lengths are normal. Finest Moment: Makkuro's gorgeous and catchy title song sounds like a Dirty Projectors who've actually heard Paramore records. \u2014 D.W. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/fQSJ5oe8Qf4 28. Big Thief Hometown: Brooklyn, NY Why We Love Them:\u00a0If you don\u2019t think Big Thief is a rock band full-stop, see them live. Or time-travel to 2019 when it was still possible to do so \u2014 when the band was touring behind a folk album containing some outstanding rock songs (U.F.O.F.) and a rock album containing some outstanding folk songs (Two Hands) and performing in venues bigger than once seemed possible for such a peculiar and fragile-sounding group. \u201cCapacity\u201d rattles and clangs like a lost Polvo b-side. \u201cJenni\u201d makes a convincing case for a Big Thief\/Boris split seven-inch. \u201cNot\u201d \u2014 increasingly the band\u2019s signature song \u2014 morphs from breathless mantra to Martsch-worthy guitar heroics with impressive ease. The rare band that\u2019s earned its hype, prolific output, celebrity fans, and a growing constellation of solo projects. Finest Moment:\u00a0Look, I\u2019m not saying \u201cNot\u201d was the best rock song of 2019, but I\u2019m also not saying \u201cNot\u201d was not the best rock song of 2019. \u2014 Z.S. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/UIcVwH47uxQ 27. The Paranoid Style Hometown: Washington, D.C. Why We Love Them:\u00a0Like irony-breathing critic-turned-rockers from Blue \u00d6yster Cult to Pet Shop Boys, Elizabeth Nelson writes the kind of lyrics those of us still unturned just want to quote at you all day. "An icepick deep in Trotsky's back\u00a0\u2014 his last thought is that it's understandable." "U put the 'u' in 'cruel and unusual' \/ But u typically put urself first." "He went to Julliard \/ Which isn't as easy as it sounds." "What in the world's come over me? \/ Asking for a friend." "They digitally removed the coke from Neil's nose, you know \/ Or so the rumor goes. I don't know." "I'm pretty sure 'Ana Ng' is the best one \/ But 'They'll Need a Crane' is certainly a close second." And these are all from 2019's A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life alone \u2014 their seven-year catalog keeps going back like this; may it keep going forward too. It may be healthier that Nelson and husband Timothy Bracy head up one of the most confident and muscular garage-rock bands going, threading all that deadpan text deftly through darting-needle melodies that stitch together hurtling hard-rock rave-ups. You'll forgive them for being critical darlings\u00a0because they're also the goddamn life of the party. Finest Moment: If all of the above didn't sell you, "Turpitude"'s "I smoke for the following reasons\u00a0\u2014 the Contract With America \/ I smoke because of Pulp Fiction \/ I smoke because of Mojo Nixon" can't, can it? \u2014 T.W. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/LgyfywASWoE \u00a026. Neighborhood Brats Hometown: The Bay Area, CA Why We Love Them:\u00a0Neighborhood Brats are what the Go-Go's would sound like if they lived at the shore and made lo-fi garage\/surf punk overflowing with reverb and delay. Guitarist George Rager's rich melodies vehemently rage against the elitism and wealth of \u201cLate Stage Capitalism\u201d \u2014 you can\u2019t be a capitalist and a beach bum after all. In 2018, the band released two highly-anticipated EPs, marking their triumphant return to music after a long hiatus. They\u2019ve spent the last two years touring all over the world, including playing with punk legends Subhumans and Adolescents. This year, they finished recording their new album, Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes, which will be released in the fall \u2014 if capitalists don\u2019t fuck that up, too. Finest Moment:\u00a0\u201cDear Angelo\u201d\u2014 the explosive opener from their 2018 EP Claw Marks \u2014 is fun enough to make you catch a California wave while flipping off the tech bros gentrifying its beaches. \u2014 Stephanie Mendez https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/f01lgBwFJ1c 25. Young Fathers Hometown: Edinburgh, Scotland Why We Love Them: Young Fathers are one of those acts you can't categorize at all; they were briefly referred to as rappers because of their Anticon association, and they're tight with Massive Attack and have a built-from-scratch sonic vocabulary that's unquestionably reminiscent of Tricky, so why not throw trip-hop into the mix, along with gospel, which is heavily incorporated on their fourth straight amazing album, 2018's Cocoa Sugar. But they have the feel of a band, which 2015's outrageously titled White Men Are Black Men Too brought to the fore on the Latin Playboys-style fragmentation of "Old Rock n Roll" and the uncomplicated pop-punk rave-up "John Doe," which features a whistling solo. Cocoa Sugar moved a little closer to turning their eavesdropped basement-jam improvs into something like Real Anthems on "In My View" and "Border Girl," further crystallizing the thrill of hearing a trio that sounds like nothing else manage to succeed at traditional pleasures. Finest Moment: In just two minutes, Cocoa Sugar's beautiful opener "See How" will silence the room; good luck identifying or even describing any of the sawing, scraping sounds in it that don't come from a human mouth. \u2014 D.W. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/qQFPikYSalg 24. Low Cut Connie Hometown: Philadelphia, PA Why We Love Them:\u00a0Low Cut Connie knows that Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis are pioneers for a reason. Frontman Adam Weiner is up to his elbows in the soil of rock'n'roll\u2019s roots, stomping out barnstorming piano-powered songs that are the definition of truly classic rock. Weiner\u2019s heartfelt (and at times, heart-wrenching) fascination with the fringes of American life leads him towards some dazzling bursts of light amidst the crushing reality. That same energy propels their legendary live shows, a party they've kept going with 2020's must-see \u201cTough Cookies\u201d livestream series, premiering new songs and covering everyone from Nirvana to Cardi B. It\u2019s enough for America's last actual president to include Low Cut Connie\u2019s \u201cBoozophilia\u201d on his 2015 summer playlist alongside Aretha Franklin and Sly and the Family Stone. The pandemic isn\u2019t stopping October's upcoming Private Lives either, which is charged up with thoughtful party anthems like \u201cThe Fucking You Get (For the Fucking You Got),\u201d and on track to be the roots-rock album of the year. What Billy Joel circa Glass Houses would sound like if he came bearing hugs instead of rocks. Finest Moment: Weiner cranks up the emotional intensity with 2018 single \u201cBeverly,\u201d a bittersweet melody of cruelly unrequited affection. Brutal rejection has never sounded so sweet. \u2014 Scott Sterling https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/5ybg-ezDmA4 23. Sumac Hometowns: Vashon, WA and Vancouver, BC, Canada Why We Love Them:\u00a0Aaron Turner has been changing the face of metal for the past couple decades: In the 2000s, his genre-agnostic label Hydra Head helped revive metal\u2019s critical stature and he defined post-metal with his group Isis. His current focus, Sumac, takes doom metal to its outer limits of space and structure. If any band could be considered \u201cfree metal,\u201d it would be them, as Turner loosens up his already spacious playing, and drummer Nick Yacyshyn holds control in his hands, sending the band to screechy, incomprehensible chaos or tightly wound, almost Neu!-like hypnosis at his will. For the avant-heads, they\u2019ve released not one but two records with Japanese free music master Keiji Haino, locking down an unstoppable alliance between Wire and Decibel readers. Finest Moment: Beginning your album with a 21-and-a-half minute track is how you filter out the nonbelievers in style, as 2018\u2019s Love in Shadow does with \u201cThe Task.\u201d \u2014 A.O. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/7QyHhd1JYuw 22. Trap Girl Hometown: Los Angeles, CA Why We Love Them:\u00a0Trans musicians have always existed in punk rock, but until recently, they\u2019ve been denied entry into the genre\u2019s exclusive and patriarchal canon. Trap Girl are changing that in the modern-day scene by taking up space and advocating for trans people in the band\u2019s raucous, riot grrrl-inspired tunes \u2014 vocalist Drew Arriola-Sands writes about her experiences with equal parts angst and sass. In December 2019, Trap Girl released TransAmerican Chokehold, an EP about transphobia, violence, and Drew\u2019s subversion, ingeniously represented with cover art paying tribute to the Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! poster. Earlier this year, the band toured the West Coast and performed at the annual DIY Transgress Fest, founded by Arriola-Sands in 2016 to celebrate and raise the visibility of trans musicians in punk rock. Finest Moment:\u00a0In \u201cSilly Little Rabbit\u201d from TransAmerican Chokehold, Drew calls out fake allies by including a voicemail sent to her by a shithead who said \u201cthat diva thing only works for women worth fighting for.\u201d \u2014 S.M. TransAmerican Chokehold by TRAP GIRL 21. Not on Tour Hometown: Tel Aviv, Israel Why We Love Them:\u00a0What could be more 2020 than a band called \u201cNot on Tour?\u201d These mayhem-mongers from the Middle East have already spent a decade churning out an overwhelming oeuvre of hurtling, hyperactive tunes, very few of which ever dare to cross the two-minute threshold. Led by perennially pissed-off frontwoman Sima Brami, the band reaches top speed on their fifth record, 2019\u2019s Growing Pains, which sounds like the Interrupters mainlining triple espressos on a transatlantic flight. Touches of pop-punk, skate-punk, and hardcore all play nice under the polished banner as Brami\u2019s raw vocal blasts through, touching on everyday struggles, politics and mental health \u2014 maybe they\u2019re all the same damn thing: \u201cI want to have a breakdown \/ Therapy, therapy, you never get the best of me.\u201d Finest Moment: The old-school punk frenzy that is Growing Pains \u2014 17 songs, 23 minutes, zero fat. Don\u2019t forget to breathe. \u2014 B.O. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/QYAKk3BT07Y 20. Couch Slut Hometown: New York, NY Why We Love Them:\u00a0While there\u2019s a certain undeniable pleasure derived from loud and abrasive guitar music, Couch Slut tests the limits of that principle. It\u2019s not that they lean much more on the noise end of noise rock \u2014 guitarists Kevin Wunderlich and Amy Mills believe if you skronk it, they will come \u2014 it\u2019s that it\u2019s in service of Megan Osztrosits\u2019 caustic lyrics on abuse, drug addiction, self-mutilation, highways of poor decisions, and taunting the saddest, most impotent men out there. She sings as both victim and dominator, as someone who\u2019s crawled up from filth and still consumed by it, because life is too messy for binaries. You can\u2019t come away feeling relieved or happy from listening to them, even if you\u2019re one of the most deranged masochists out there, an American with a conscience. Finest Moment: In May, they surprise-released their latest album, Take a Chance on Rock n\u2019 Roll, and nothing else you will listen in 2020 will have songs referencing under-the-table clit piercings or scumbag bikers named Captain America. \u2060\u2014 A.O. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/EjQGdcY-7I8 19. Sheer Mag Hometown: Philadelphia, PA Why We Love Them: If you're nostalgic for infectious twin-guitar licks and Thin Lizzy-style late '70s rock \u2014whose late singer Phil Lynott is literally tattooed on Sheer Mag vocalist Christina Halladay \u2014 Sheer Mag demands and exceeds satisfaction. The Philly five-piece pays homage to traditional rock\u2018n\u2019roll but with postmodern lyrical concerns that extend to their extracurriculars: Guitarist Kyle Seely started offering guitar lessons last month to raise money for the Philadelphia Community Bail Fund. But Halladay and her soulful vocal range are the stars, toggling between aggressive grunts in the nearly Iron Maiden-reminiscent "Steel Sharpens Steel" and softer, higher-pitched crooning. The rare throwback act who revise history entirely for the better. Finest Moment: 2019\u2019s A Distant Call is their most polished and varied production to date, with a significant \u201880s influence compared to past releases, and a wider sonic spectrum than ever: \u201cThe Killer\u201d manifests Brian Johnson-era AC\/DC, while \u201cSilver Line\u201d maintains a shimmering Pretenders vibe. \u2014 S.M. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/z2ZEutg3oZk 18. Yawners Hometown: Madrid, Spain Why We Love Them:\u00a0Fizzy power-pop duo Yawners are two hometown heroes crafting keen, thoughtful hooks in Madrid\u2019s guitar rock renaissance. Elena Nieto writes her songs on her sleeve, matching earnest, hyper-self-aware lyrics with punched-up riffs and Martin Mu\u00f1oz\u2019s frenetic drumming. Yawners\u2019 2019 debut album Just Calm Down captured the manic energy and bone-tired comfort of long summer afternoons, as on \u201cLa Escalera,\u201d the album\u2019s only Spanish-language track, whose chorus Nieto wrote as her mom called her down the stairs for dinner. Yawners are the sugar high and the sugar crash and the limitless feeling of both. Finest Moment:\u00a0The opening riff of \u201cLa Escalera,\u201d best heard while standing on a bed. \u2014 S.F. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/IwT2zQa4dL4 17. The Goon Sax Hometown: Brisbane, Australia Why We Love Them: Because they're the greatest teen band in the world, or at least they were when they dropped 2016's jaw-dropping Up to Anything and 2018's refined We're Not Talking, the former a catalog of awkwardness from a world before incels weaponized it, and the latter an astoundingly arranged follow-up that matures (castanets! Motown strings!) without dulling out. Now in their 20s, Louis Forster, Riley Jones, and James Harrison\u00a0\u2014 all of whom sing and write\u00a0\u2014 probably know more about love than their parents, which is notable because one of Forster's sang in the Go-Betweens. But that doesn't stop them from agonizing over it on the horn-flecked "She Knows," or for that matter their debut single "Sometimes Accidentally" ("I don't care about much but one of the things I care about is you"). Finest Moment: Harrison has a knack for nauseated anxiety anthems, but the unusually tense "A Few Times Too Many" duels against his own bassline and loses. \u2014 D.W. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/ktNFKAV5gII 16. Mannequin Pussy Hometown: Philadelphia, PA Why We Love Them:\u00a0With the release of their chameleonic throat-crusher Patience last year, Mannequin Pussy are officially a punk band for all seasons. Need a group to rally the hardcore kids before, say, Knocked Loose or Code Orange hits the stage? Done; punishers like \u201cClams\u201d and \u201cF.U.C.A.W.\u201d are all hellfire and bloodbaths. But how about a vulnerable, indie-influenced set that could sneak in between Phoebe Bridgers or Mitski? They got you there, too \u2014 try their equally hilarious and regretful lead single \u201cDrunk II\u201d and cresting showstopper \u201cHigh Horse.\u201d Patience revealed a far grander emotional palette for frontwoman Marisa Dabice who\u2019s now just as capable painting with somber blue as fuck-you red. Finest Moment: The audacious first verse of \u201cDrunk II,\u201d where Dabice is too smashed to remember she broke up with her ex and calls their phone, wailing: \u201cI still love you, you stupid fuck.\u201d Hold their (ninth) beer, Drake. \u2014 B.O. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/IZ0Xjl5KusI 15. Primitive Man Hometown: Denver, CO Why We Love Them:\u00a0There is no band heavier than doom torturers Primitive Man in the simpler sense of ear-piercing tones and gigantic, subwoofer-toasting riffs, and there is also no band heavier in reflecting ugly realities. Ethan McCarthy\u2019s pissed-beyond-pissed guitar is only matched by his bellowing growls, and his wracked words are largely informed by his experiences as a biracial man in America, playing music where racists have too much of a say (that is, they have a say at all). He\u2019s lived the alienation and self-hatred that most metal dudes only think they have, and it makes their music that much more intense. System of a Down\u2019s drummer would combust if he heard them, even with a blindfold on. Finest Moment:\u00a0\u201cDisfigured\u201d from 2017\u2019s Caustic is a long, turgid, unforgiving look at McCarthy\u2019s conflict of self: \u201cThough light-skinned \/ I will never be free \/ But never a slave \/ A ghost and an alien \/ Eviscerated by race relations \/ and shame in my heart \/ From when they fucking spit on me.\u201d \u2014 A.O. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/hL1odyk7QmU 14. Beauty Pill Hometown: Washington, D.C. Why We Love Them: This is the kind of band who makes themselves a museum exhibit; you could watch them record their masterpiece Beauty Pill Describes Things as They Are in the "Immersive Ideals" multimedia installation at local museum Artisphere. Producer\/songwriter Chad Clark's lyrics confront early 21st century issues with enough references to keep an English poetry seminar almost as busy as his stylistically fluid electronic-jazz-soul-indie-rock keeps music critics. The relentlessly layered and postmodern songs keep sampling details distinct (yes, that\u2019s a metal dog bowl you hear before the hooky horns of \u201cAfrikaner Barista\u201d kick in) and the narratives unfold unexpectedly, but they breathe. In May 2020, the Please Advise EP, their first release in five years, was unveiled amidst the worldwide panic of living in pandemic times, featuring new vocalist Erin Nelson on, among other things, the otherworldly word collage\u00a0"Pardon Our Dust," at a time when the world needs advice. Finest Moment:\u00a0\u201cWhat if the thing that will get you killed \/ Is also the thing that helps you live?\u201d Clark asks in \u201cThe Damnedest Thing,\u201d the peak of Please Advise, addressing oblivion with wry warmth (and Zorn-like horns). \u2014 Heather Batson https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/jBV6htzVqS0 13. Generaci\u00f3n Suicida Hometown: Los Angeles, CA Why We Love Them:\u00a0Generaci\u00f3n Suicida started out in L.A.\u2019s backyard punk scene with the mantra, \u201cM\u00fasica del barrio, para el barrio\u201d (Music from the hood, for the hood), yet even after branching out and achieving success, they\u2019ve never forgotten their roots. The band\u2019s breakneck melodic punk touches on the struggles of marginalized people with lyrics written in Spanish about police brutality, poverty, and other socioeconomic injustices. True to this stance, they recently used their platform to raise money for Black Lives Matter. In January, the band celebrated their 10-year anniversary with a gig that was so rowdy, fans climbed the venue\u2019s chandelier to sing along to every song and frenetically dive into the sardine-packed pit. L.A. punk will do that to you. Finest Moment: 2018\u2019s Reflejos is the best album in their catalog \u2014 a melodious journey that showcases how much their sound has evolved since their first full-length, Con la Muerte a tu Lado. \u201cNo Existen\u201d characterizes this growth with a resemblance to the Cramps\u2019 distinct, surf-y style. \u2014 S.M. REFLEJOS by Generacion Suicida 12.\u00a0that dog. Hometown: Los Angeles, CA Why We Love Them: Because they're one of the best alternative rock bands of all-time, and 22 years after they bowed out with the back-to-back (and newly reissued) unsung masterpieces Totally Crushed Out! and Retreat from the Sun, that dog. returned with 2019's Old LP, which nearly equals them. "Just the Way" and "If You Just Didn't Do It" slash and burn like bands half their age, with no loss of this now-trio's (violinist Petra Haden declined to reunite) famous multi-part harmonies. But they never could have made the title tune as 20-somethings, about hearing bassist Rachel Haden's legendary late father Charlie being preserved at his most alive on wax. They brought in a full orchestra for that one and somehow the grandeur is just the right size. This band never got famous despite an arsenal of tunes every bit as indelible as their friends in Weezer; correct history's mistake and canonize them immediately. Finest Moment: First go back and soak up "Never Say Never," "He's Kissing Christian," etc. the way you've internalized, say, "The Impression That I Get" or "Possum Kingdom." Then throw on Old LP and marvel at the endless ingenuity and possibility of a song like "Just the Way" (which employs old friends Jack Black and Maya Rudolph for its tragicomic video) as if they never left.\u00a0 \u2014 D.W. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/wgVHJjD5Bcw 11.\u00a0black midi Hometown: London, England Why We Love Them:\u00a0For those still hungry for prog complexity and art-rock innovation in their post-punk, seeing the debut LP from London's black midi, Schlagenheim, appearing on more than a couple of year-end lists in guitar-starved 2019 should offer a glimmer of hope. Singer\/guitarist Geordie Greep rips the mic like the reckless demon lovechild of Mike Patton and Grace Jones, while his mates (guitarist Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin, bassist\/keyboardist Cameron Picton and eight-armed drummer Morgan Simpson) expand on time signatures straight out of Larks' Tongues in Aspic for, like, tUnE-yArDs fans with a nostalgic affinity for Fugazi's Steady Diet of Nothing. And this is just album one. Finest Moment:\u00a0"Of Schlagenheim" showcases just how much Simpson captains this band\u2019s every maneuver from behind the kit. The quasi-title cut drives the descent into madness from Roxy Music cool to full-throttle Mr. Bungle chaos without hitting the brakes for over six minutes. \u2014 Ron Hart https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/oWjgK1Dy_mk 10. PUP Hometown: Toronto, Ontario Why We Love Them:\u00a0PUP\u2019s ability to channel anxiety, depression, and generalized misanthropy into pummeling pop-punk hooks is an endlessly renewable resource. The band is also a good enough live act to justify the fact that half their lyrics seem to be about the exhaustion of touring. In 2019, the Canadian quartet followed up 2016 breakthrough The Dream Is Over with the equally great \u2014 and equally antisocial \u2014 Morbid Stuff. It helps that lead singer Stefan Babcock is one of punk\u2019s great chroniclers of malcontent, even, and especially when he leans on self-deprecation: \u201cHalf the crap I say is just things I've stolen from the bathroom walls of shitty venues across America,\u201d he snarls in \u201cFull Blown Meltdown.\u201d Finest Moment:\u00a0\u201cSee You at Your Funeral,\u201d because there is simply no other song that bangs this hard while rhyming \u201cproduce section\u201d with \u201cmaking healthy selections.\u201d \u2014 Z.S. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/RhhyrmF0C_s 9. Charly Bliss Hometown: Brooklyn, NY Why We Love Them: POG-rock quartet Charly Bliss have an otherworldly knack at rendering certain playful images just as sinister: \u201ccardboard cereal,\u201d a bleeding snow cone, a mouth red with Gatorade. 2017\u2019s Guppy established the band as masters of this subversion. Their crunching guitars and Eva Hendricks\u2019 sweet, pointed vocals sliding through increasingly pop arrangements are the vehicle for a creeping dark that filters through each track\u2019s observations of the mundane humor and horror of human affection. 2019\u2019s stellar Young Enough polished its predecessor\u2019s frayed, glittering edges for a slow burn of synthesizers and sharpened focal points; that cleaner sound also made room for a deeper emotional reservoir. Both are examples of kinetic and potential energy refined to an art. Finest Moment:\u00a0\u201cWe\u2019re young enough \/ To believe it should hurt this much.\u201d They\u2019re old enough to recognize it. \u2014 S.F. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/AwszMAktc-M 8. T\u00d8RS\u00d6 Hometown: Oakland, CA Why We Love Them:\u00a0These four raw and gritty straight-edge punks skillfully combine hardcore with d-beat to deliver a shock so aggressive and powerful, your body will just naturally start two-stepping and throwing hooks. T\u00d8RS\u00d6\u2019s music is grounded in their feminist, anti-capitalist, and sober ideals, and they\u2019re proudly unapologetic about it on bruising albums like Sono Pronta a Morire and Community Psychosis. In 2018, the band joined the lineage of Revelation Records \u2014 the same label that brought you icons like Judge, Youth of Today, and Gorilla Biscuits \u2014 to release an ear-splitting 2019 EP, Build and Break. They had a short SoCal tour earlier this year and were slated to play with Propagandhi before the pandemic ruined 2020. If that pisses you off, well, T\u00d8RS\u00d6\u2019s just the band for that mood. Finest Moment: \u201cRepulsion\u201d from Build and Break is simple old-school hardcore that will nevertheless leave your face in a bloody pulp. \u2014 S.M. Build and Break by TORSO 7.\u00a0X Hometown: Los Angeles, CA Why We Love Them:\u00a0No band fused punk and rockabilly with more apocalyptic fervor than X. The band\u2019s 1980 debut, Los Angeles, is a skittering anti-fun house populated by junkies (\u201cSugarlight\u201d), hateful ex-pats (\u201cLos Angeles\u201d), and sexual predators (\u201cJohnny Hit and Run Paulene\u201d); it remains a crucial punk document from its first riff to its last just 28 minutes later. The band dabbled in country flavor on 1982\u2019s Under the Big Black Sun and fizzled out by the early \u201990s, but 2020 has yielded an unexpected rebirth for the punk legends now in their 60s. Maybe fans expected the band to mark Los Angeles\u2019s 40th anniversary with a celebratory tour (canceled by the pandemic) or a deluxe reissue (what\u2019s the point of a deluxe expansion of an album that draws power from brevity?), but even X\u2019s most fervent loyalists didn\u2019t anticipate Alphabetland, X\u2019s first album in 27 years. The record doubles as a careening return to the Los Angeles sound, as well as a reunion of the band\u2019s long-dormant classic lineup. Finest Moment:\u00a0Some songs come together quickly. Then there\u2019s \u201cCyrano DeBerger\u2019s Back,\u201d a 1980 X gem that surfaced on 1987\u2019s See How We Are in inferior form and now emerges from obscurity on Alphabetland all dressed up with horns and a taut, surprisingly funkified groove. \u2014 Z.S. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/pZ1I-laItPI 6. Dogleg Hometown: Detroit, MI Why We Love Them:\u00a0Nothing about Dogleg\u2019s exhilarating debut Melee makes any goddamn sense. It's just four guys from Michigan hammering the same post-hardcore or emo riffs we\u2019ve all heard for 20 years. The album, named after the Super Smash Bros. game and peppered with further Nintendo nods, was self-produced and modestly recorded at the house of frontman Alex Stoitsiadis, who started Dogleg as a solo project in his parents\u2019 basement. Yet somehow, these dignitaries of the University of Michigan frat party scene have carved a stone-cold classic \u2014 a stupefying encapsulation of all its predecessors\u2019 aggression without an ounce of melodic sacrifice. From the opening chug of \u201cKawasaki Backflip,\u201d Melee is a 35-minute waterslide plunge into chaos; all speedfreak guitars, incendiary drums, and Stoitsiadis\u2019s best Stink-era Paul Westerberg impression. It\u2019s proof that bombast should be a little bit ugly. The subsequent tour would\u2019ve made Dogleg one of 2020\u2019s most thrilling new live rock acts. Eat a knife, COVID. Finest Moment:\u00a0The vicious, ascendant guitar breaks in \u201cFox,\u201d which deserve some serious Riff of the Year consideration in a surprisingly competitive time. \u2014 B.O. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/51yb3yJfrj4 5. Cloud Rat Hometowns: Mt. Pleasant\/Detroit\/Grand Rapids, MI Why We Love Them:\u00a0Grindcore rather constrained for a genre bent on extremes: Is there only so much you can say in a limited time frame blasting away? Cloud Rat proves you absolutely fucking can. Rorik Brooks\u2019 guitars, heavily influenced by melodic crust, are both charging and fragile, conveying fear, anger, and a will to live with breathtaking economy. They are beautiful without overtly declaring such, sneaking in the suggestion that grinders have feelings beyond mad and madder. Vocalist Madison Marshall unveils the contradictions and nonlinear paths to human existence, and is the only punk singer who could make a Grace Jones dance party a detail for a bigger mental hell. For grind, Cloud Rat may be the band who can cross over beyond the devotees and the burnouts and the subgenre tyrants, giving a new voice to an ever-growing collective rage. Finest Moment:\u00a0Last year\u2019s Pollinator is a phenomenal record on its own, but Cloud Rat had to stunt on everyone with its companion darkwave(!) record Do Not Let Me Off the Cliff mere days before; together they are an unstoppable and precedent-setting body of music. \u2014 A.O. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/r4YSKzyWRLw 4. Chubby and the Gang Hometown: London, England Why We Love Them: This five-piece led by Charlie "Chubby Charles" Manning-Walker is entirely built from other bands with names like Gutter Knife, Violent Reaction, Arms Race \u2014 and made a classic album that sounds like the punk bands who don't have classic albums: Sham 69, the Adverts, countless oi and pub-hardcore outfits. Speed Kills is most pummeling rock debut of 2020 and maybe the best, with Dolls-style Chuck Berry riffs, barroom choruses, and even harmonica all transforming the stuff of dingy moshpit legend into classic-rock fodder. Their lone ballad, "Grenfell Forever," is a sad one. More than any other band this year, they make us want live shows to return. Here's hoping they go full-time. Finest Moment: "Can't Tell Me Nothing" is 89 seconds of pure-punk Action Park rollercoaster if you can hang on for dear life. It's hardly alone. \u2014 D.W. Speed Kills by Chubby and The Gang 3.\u00a0Paramore Hometown: Franklin, TN Why We Love Them:\u00a0Very few bands survive the fire that Paramore have been through, and the ones that do rarely get to follow the thread they stitched through the fabric of popular music for the next 15 years. It was 2007\u2019s Riot! that cemented Paramore as an undeniable force in pop-punk and Williams as one of the best frontpersons of her generation, full stop. But it was After Laughter, released a decade later, that saw Paramore heal from the fractures that nearly ended their career \u2014 and dance all over them. To survive also meant to wade out from the shallow confines of what \u201crock\u201d has come to mean to create an album that was just as emotionally driven as any at their emo peak. Coming of age in the Warped Tour era meant this band, and most sharply, Williams, became a canvas upon which the music industry would project all of its cynicism, fantasy, and ire. Their output at every level was and remains driven by an uncommon empathy and a rejection of spite and artifice, from Williams' support of the mental health organization To Write Love on Her Arms to their vocal, unusually inclusive Christianity. Yet the kids who grew up with Paramore got to see the band become more than the sum of their inconstant parts. Paramore are now a living cultural artifact whose music has always told a story of survival and hard growth, and their influence has probably reached more names on this list than any other contemporary. That\u2019s what we got. Finest Moment:\u00a0After Laughter was a turning point for Paramore in a lot of ways, but it was the stripped-down letter-to-self \u201c26\u201d that preceded Williams\u2019 most honest songwriting on her excellent, intimate solo debut this year, Petals for Armor. \u2014 S.F. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/AEB6ibtdPZc 2. Control Top Hometown: Philadelphia, PA Why We Love Them:\u00a0If Siouxsie Sioux decided to join the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to make frayed-edge dance-punk, it would probably sound like Control Top. Ali Carter\u2019s voice maintains the ethereal and haunting style of her predecessors, but with a channeling a contemporary aggressive force when she commands: \u201cQuit your job today!\u201d Diligently releasing new music for the past three years has paid off with their 2019 breakthrough tantrum Covert Contracts, and they summarized early 2020 by releasing the one-off single "One Good Day," as in wishing for one. In light of the recent national protests, they've spread awareness about Black issues and raised proceeds for the Philly Community Bail Fund and the Black and Pink Bail Fund. But it's their feral tunes that make them Philly\u2019s best contemporary punk band, so the Dead Milkmen better watch their backs. Finest Moment:\u00a0\u201cBetrayed,\u201d from Covert Contracts, sums up everything you want to scream at the top of your lungs in 2020: "Betrayed by the nation, betrayed by the fight \/ Betrayed by the cronies on the left and the right."\u00a0 \u2014 S.M. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/hnoSdi3Slsc 1. Haim Hometown: Los Angeles, CA Why We Love Them:\u00a0We simply don\u2019t deserve Haim. The world is far too broken to fully appreciate Women in Music Part III, the sister trio\u2019s subtly spectacular third LP, which further establishes them as more than expert pop students-turned-teachers. Released in June, WIMPIII cuts to the center of a Fleetwood Mac and Sheryl Crow mix CD-R and extracts all its sun-kissed \u201870s soft-rock (\u201cDon\u2019t Wanna\u201d), \u201890s California-pop (\u201cGasoline\u201d) and a list of thrilling surprises \u2014 all courtesy of a band inadvertently shouldering a genre with their breezy brilliance. Though it isn\u2019t just what the Haim ladies accomplish with their undervalued guitar, bass and drums that make them the year\u2019s most vital band. It\u2019s everything else; the psych-tinged Janet Jackson tribute that is \u201c3 AM,\u201d the pulsing exploration of \u201cNow I\u2019m in It,\u201d which sounds like Savage Garden breathlessly dancing at a Robyn concert. Their songwriting has only become more dauntless since Days Are Gone put them on the map and they help rock transcend its perceived limitations in 2020 without declining to rock altogether. We bow down to Danielle, Este and Alana, our three-headed summer girl. Finest Moment: Pick one: \u201cMan from the Magazine,\u201d a percussion-free middle finger to mansplaining journalists and their dumb-ass questions (\u201cDo you make the same faces in bed?") or the accidentally apt \u201cI Know Alone,\u201d whose opening line \u201cBeen a couple days since I\u2019ve been out\u201d has become a coronavirus quotable (despite being written months before the pandemic). Far too many people can relate to both. \u2014 B.O. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/J2O_xa8cems Listen to a Spotify playlist of our favorite rock bands right now below.