With all the rush and excitement of established bands releasing great albums this year (The National, Arcade Fire, The Walkmen, et. al), it’s easy to forget that there are many new bands who possess the talent to make their voices heard amidst the talk created by their esteemed contemporaries. NME was quick to remind us of that when they posted their list of the 50 Best New Bands on Monday. As such, I decided that I would share my personal picks for the artists making the best new sounds this year. While it’s not as exhaustive as NME’s (I am, after all, only one man), I believe that these bands exemplify why discovering new music is so exciting.

The Drums: Radio stations could really use a band like The Drums. The Brookyln via Florida four piece excel at making new-wave inspired ear worms that are earnest and heartfelt, something sorely lacking amidst the loops of Muse, Phoenix, and the same music most stations have been playing since 1996. The band’s self-titled debut, combined with last year’s the near perfect “Summertime!” EP, gives the band a strong case as to why they deserve to break big, as both are filled with memorable choruses, hooks aplenty, and front man Jonathan Pierce’s enigmatic singing. This is a young band with everything to prove, and they do it with a kind of swagger that doesn’t feels forced or desperate. They are exemplars of what pop-rock should sound like in 2010.

Warpaint: Displaying a sense of musicianship that is as awe-inspiring to hear as it is to watch live, the women in Warpaint make dense, moody, and downright gorgeous music.  The intricate guitar work of front woman Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman, the prominent bass lines of Jenny Lee Lindberg, and the way drummer Stella Mozgawa plays the hell out of her kit combine with their dreamy harmonies to create a sound that recalls the best aspects of psychedelic and post-punk. The group’s debut album is slated to release later this year, but in the meantime, the excellent Exquisite Corpse EP and the memories of being blown away by them at PsychFest will suffice. (Photo Credit: Rough Trade Records)

Free Energy: Philadelphia’s Free Energy are a band that seem like they were ripped out of a rock history book, but in the best possible way. Their unironic take on classic rock could have easily scored them several Top Ten hits in 1976. With guitar hooks everywhere, lyrics that recall nights spent joyriding around town with friends, and a healthy dose of pop sheen thanks to the production of LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, each song on their debut album “Stuck on Nothing” is meant to be played with the windows down and the wind blowing through your hair. They are a straightforward rock band in every sense of the term, no gimmicks, no bullshit, just a slew of rocking tunes. (Photo Credit: Rachel Leah Woliansky)

Pure Ecstacy: Easily one of the most exciting new bands to emerge from Austin in the last couple years, Pure Ecstacy are not afraid to use noise and healthy doses of reverb to enhance their music. While many groups intentionally use this method as a kind of bait for hipsters and music journalists alike, the kind of music Pure Ecstacy makes requires it as part of it’s aesthetic. They channel the more hazy bands of the psychedelic era, with bandleader Nathan Grace’s distorted guitar chugging along side an almost funky rythym section. Although their music can only be heard online and through limited pressings of 7″ vinyl, it only makes the release of a proper LP all the more exciting and a reason to keep an eye on these up and coming Austinites. (Photo Credit: NME)

Sleigh Bells: When I first heard “Crown on the Ground” at WOXY late last year, I knew Sleigh Bells were on to something. The song was loud, brash, and catchy beyond all belief, quickly becoming my go to song whenever I needed a burst of energy or wanted to blow out my car speakers. In May, the duo comprised of former teen popper Alexis Krauss and ex-Poison the Well member Derek Miller unleashed their full length debut, “Treats,” to near universal acclaim, and rightly so. Their sound was the shot in the arm the indie scene needed, and while noise-pop and lo-fi are nothing new, no one made as catchy or as accessible as them. The fact that they outdid mentor M.I.A. by a mile only sweetens the deal. (Photo Credit: Sleigh Bells Myspace)

Surfer Blood: Along with groups like Real Estate and Cymbals Eat Guitars, Surfer Blood is further proof that guitar rock never went out of fashion. “Astro Coast,” released earlier this year, is filled with the smoldering riffs, attention to song craft, and staying power that many bands spend years trying to perfect. On top of that, the band play without any pretenses or overinflated sense of self-righteousness, something that’s extremely refreshing in a scene that tends to value image over substance. These Floridians are just out to have a good time displaying their talents, and they have left one hell of a first impression in doing so. (Photo Credit: NME)

Best Coast: It’s fitting that Best Coast front woman Bethany Cosentino is dating Wavves leader, and undeniable controversy magnet, Nathan Williams. Both want nothing more than to smoke weed and have fun on the beaches of California. The difference, however, is that Best Coast (where Cosetino is joined by Bobb Bruno) are more concerned with crafting actual songs as opposed to drowning any semblance of musicality in distortion, something that Wavves has supposedly gotten better about (but not to the extent that Williams can compete with his girlfriend). What ties the songs together on “Crazy For You,” the band’s much-hyped debut, is Cosentino’s voice. With her warm tone and effortless delivery, she has been compared to The New Pornographers’ Neko Case among others, a high distinction for a girl in her early 20’s. Like fellow Californians Girls, Best Coast have made a debut that transcends the summer mindset it evokes, not to mention predominately heartbroken lyrics that brilliantly contrast the white and blue scenery. (Photo Credit: David Black)

Active Child: First things first, ex-choirboy Pat Grossi has some serious pipes. The Active Child front man, who also happens to play the harp, has the lower register of a seasoned opera singer and a flasetto that can only be described as angelic. It helps that he puts his voice to good use behind his harp, laptop created beats, and the bass playing of Stratton Easter, which combine to form a sound that is at once rich and full sounding while also managing to be otherworldly.  While they only have the excellent “Curtis Lane” EP to their name, one can conceivably see Active Child filling opera houses one day given the chance. (Photo Credit: Active Child’s MySpace)

Toro y Moi: Though he was a little late to the chillwave party, Toro y Moi’s Chaz Bundick has nonetheless shown why he is more than capable of running with, and sometimes surpassing his blissed out peers. The main difference between Toro y Moi and artists like Neon Indian and Washed Out is that Bundick’s songs are less immediate, requiring multiple listens to fully appreciate their complexity. Instead of relying on the persistent synth lines of his peers, he tends to favor layered instrumentation and seemingly out of nowhere changes in tempo and mood. To the audiophile’s ear, it makes Toro y Moi immediately stand out against his contemporaries, and gives you many reasons to revisit his debut album, “Causers of This,” over and over again. (Photo Credit: Carpark Records)

The Soft Pack: While The Soft Pack aren’t exactly new to the world of music, they previously existed as a group with the unfortunate moniker of The Muslims, The San Diego quartet have more than ably established that their new incarnation means serious business. Their self-titled debut recalls some of the best aspects of garage rock; the insistent riffs, front man Matt Lamkin’s seemingly monotone delivery, and the ramshackle feel of the percussion a testament to the era. Though there’s nothing particularly new about the band’s sound, they wear their influences so well that it would be naive to call them a blatant rip-off. Just try not to nod along to songs like “Down On Loving” and “Answer To Yourself.” You’ll see what I mean. (Photo Credit: ABC Australia)

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