10 Bands Under 25 That Make Me Feel Alive
A quintessential coming-of-age soundtrack to score the next spiral
By Mars Salazar, Fri., June 10, 2022
What does it sound like to be young? It sounds like the epic expressions of these 10 acts, whose array of styles bleed the vitality and boundless energy of youth, when playing music with your friends and raging at shows is the only time life has any meaning. Cheers to the beautiful anarchy.
Mean Age: 19
Home venue: Hotel Vegas
Essential Work: "Barricade" (2022)
Established In: 2020
Notable Moment: Kicked out of Hole in the Wall due to nefarious bathroom activities
On being Courtney Love apologists:
"People are always like, 'Courtney Love is such a bitch and Kurt Cobain's an angel.' Kurt Cobain has probably done worse shit, considering he's a man!" – Ava Schrobilgen
The punk fourpiece has come to annihilate the barrage of dick-swinging hard rockers with their biting riot grrrl venom as a self-proclaimed "boy band with tits." The vigorous intensity these young thrashers bring to their notoriously wild live shows hearkens back to the heavy riffs and relentless shouts of Nineties femme rock legends Hole, Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and Sleater-Kinney. The Austin-born hellions spawned in the same sludge cesspools as contemporary punk groups Destroy Boys, Homewrecker & the Bedwetters, and Amyl & the Sniffers (with whom they shared an April lineup). Don't get it twisted – just because they're all chicks doesn't mean they're just some "girl band," instead denoting themselves a band that plays from their dicks … while happening to be girls. Fiery redhead singer "The Boogeyman" emits feral screams and deep growls to fan the flames of Chloe Andrews' erratic drumming. A July residency at Hotel Vegas promises even more easy action from the heavy-hitter-die-spitters, who'll spread the good word on Sundays through Ava Schrobilgen's distorted Stratocaster baptisms and bassline crucifixions by Kate Halter. Hell is a teenage girl, and these rock brats break the brimstone.
Mean Age: 20.75
Home venue: Hole in the Wall
Essential Work: "Dead Halt," Cell (2021)
Established In: 2016
Notable Moment: Drove their car along the Town Lake dirt trail and into a storm ditch
On getting their dicks cut off before playing a show:
"Imagine the keys we would hit." – Dylan Johnson
"I can finally get that vocal range I've wanted." – Derek Ivy
I got hit by a Sad Cell bass and all I got was this stupid T-shirt. The assault comes in the form of punching riffs, heavy drumming, and a mondo-hazard four string flying through the air, reeling for its next mosh pit fatality. The onstage antics of the four motley libertines of Sad Cell – a cheeky abbreviation of "sad celebration" – give post-punk a scathing attitude and brazen animosity to social norms. The raw melancholy of their 2021 album Cell evokes elements of Eighties goth rock albums with the post-punk overtones of Joy Division or, modernly, the Drums. Guitarist Derek Ivy and bassist Dylan Johnson moan existential about spiraling relationships in "Dead Halt" and hazy futures in "Constraints." The wild garage rock guitar progressions of Jacob Bibby pose a manic equivalent to the sounds of Meth Wax and electric Ty Segall while Deven Ivy unleashes unbridled rage on a drum kit with cymbals that look shark-bitten. A new album in the works promises more of a scathing sound that bites down on convention, ready to incite a mosh riot straight-up delinquent and Over the Edge.
Home venue: None
Essential Work: "starchy" (2021)
Established In: 2020
Notable Moment: Blanked on lyrics during his very first live show at J Soulja's the Smoke Out
On the tribulations of freestyling:
"If you give me a minute – or like, two minutes – I could write you a verse … but if you ask me to freestyle, I'll be like, 'The cat had a bat, and they saw a rat, and that was that!' And that's basically all I got."
The local rap revolution prevails as Hidden Renaissance, a Discord server for burgeoning rappers with styles in the same camp as Earl Sweatshirt and MF Doom. This community led to an artistic enlightenment for Khalid Jackson, a computer science major and hip-hop artist whose inspirations range from A Tribe Called Quest to Tyler, the Creator. Coming onto the scene under the name .dani, the lyricist now known as Khxnid! effortlessly and effectively honed in on the theme of growing up with his 19 EP, which was ranked favorably in multiple Chronicle lists thereafter, and he's become a regular at indie hip-hop showcases the Smoke Out and the Pre-Roll. With a flow of sincerity and nuance in "starchy" and social justice prose in "TFF (Thugs for Floyd)," his drip of hooks and verses demonstrate a slow-burn delivery and melodic ease.
Mean Age: 20.3
Home venue: French House Co-op
Essential Work: "Smudge," Love Letters (2022)
Established In: 2020
Notable Moment: Sold seedy handmade bracelets that promised free access to all of their shows
On the sanctity of co-op concerts:
"You couldn't convince me that playing Mohawk or Stubb's is cooler than a co-op show, nothing is cooler than a co-op show … because it smells like weed." – Dan Mabray
Ripped full-throttle from the forehead of distortion messiah Dan Mabray, Homemade Bangs serves as a testament to reverb-drenched hooligantics. Birthed in the confines of a cluttered co-op, the trio's experimental post-punk sound is hallmarked by droning vocals, laced with life's uncertainty, that encapsulate the pure, unabridged feeling of being young. Last winter's sophomore album Love Letters plays out like a coming-of-age score that laments the burden of navigating a landmine-riddled heart. Still, a reverence to this doomed generation comes through. Bassist Chloe Gonzales and drummer Derek Ivy round out the angst in their DIY serenades of smothered passion. It's a record that evokes the feelings of sharing a beer with friends and nervously bumming a cigarette from your crush at the house show. Through a discography that flirts with punchy cadences and bouncy guitar rhythms befitting the Cramps and the Damned, this group is the quintessential time capsule of today's West Campus.
Home venue: Far Out Lounge & Stage
Essential Work: "Cloud" (2021)
Established In: 2017
Notable Moment: Recorded in a NY studio next to A$AP Rocky, but was too nervous to say hi
On that notable moment:
"I was a big Rocky fan at the time, but I just stayed in the studio because I'm kind of nervous about that type of stuff. I don't want to say anything stupid or act like a fangirl." – Clarence James
In a similar vein to Jean-Michel Basquiat and Frank Zappa, self-described "naturally anxious" experimental musician Clarence James has the pure intention to make "crazy shit" through his brain melting productions. With inspirations ranging from John Coltrane to Kendrick Lamar to Brittany Howard, the transfusion of jazz and R&B elements into his songs permeate the psychedelic drip of "I'm Melting" and mellow croons drifting through "Cloud." The introverted artist has embraced an evolving neo-psychedelia tone with falsetto singing while honoring hip-hop roots to expand his primarily indie classification. All to mitigate the "background noise in [his] head," James has been increasingly welcoming ambience and experimentalism into his striking musical expression, whether it be a recording of unbridaled screams or an apocalyptic barrage of low blaring horns.
Mean Age: 23.6
Home venue: Hotel Vegas
Essential Work: "Rum!" Pet (2021)
Established In: 2017, current lineup 2019
Notable Moment: Singer rode a literal horse outside the Continental Club during their residency
On losing 20 consecutive games of cee-lo at a bar:
"I'm going to find that dice hustler named Beef one day and get my money back." – Marlon Sexton
Shooks sounds like chrome looks: sleek, polished, and stylish. Propelled by frontman Marlon Sexton, they've reinvigorated 2010s synth-driven anthems through compelling hooks, layered vocals, and an onstage electric charge that's downright cosmopolitan. These cats have embraced atmospheric reverberation for an interstellar sound that's similar to the productions of John Maus and Mini Mansions. Sporting sunglasses during their sets and moving with Jagger-esque sways, style and substance make sweet love in their live shows and honeymoon throughout their 2021 album Pet. Keyboardist Matt Erlandson and bassist Gabe Poliakoff crank out high-voltage, syncopated rhythms, while guitarist Deven Ivy and drummer "Muddy" round out the collective with jolting progressions. With new single "O2" previewing Shooks' upcoming album, a Thursday residency at C-Boy's throughout July offers a chance to hear new music by these silver-plated renegades.
THE PINKY RINGS
Mean Age: 24.6
Home venue: Hotel Vegas
Essential Work: "Banged Up" (2020)
Established In: 2019
Notable Moment: Bassist Bekah Bobkoff had her septum ring pulled out of her face and a nip slip while playing live shows
On their mosh pit casualties:
"At one point, I looked over and she was doing the worm …" – Bekah Bobkoff
"… and then later her nose was broken. She was rolling on the floor and got stepped on in the face." – Leah Primeaux
Femme punk subculture flaunts nose piercings and mini skirts with the razor-sharp edge of a kickflip in stilettos. Fivepiece fatal attractions the Pinky Rings have reanimated a waning link between delinquent rock and street skating with a veneer of recklessness. Their ruby strut sound comes with a blatant fuck-you attitude, shining through on their "Girl Creep" lyrics, "She stuck a finger up your butt, now she's calling you a slut." Another song, "Bodega Babies," was featured in a 2021 Thrasher x No-Comply video in a stellar display of their skate culture roots and shameless essence. Their frenzied live shows include soliloquies about murdering someone in a car ("Red"), call-and-response segments, stage dives, and nip slips. These babes preach scene inclusivity for a one-size-fits-all message of mayhem.
Mean Age: 24.8
Home venue: Hotel Vegas/Valhalla
Essential Work: "I hate looking at engines" (2021)
Established In: 2021
Notable Moment: Lead singer Thom Waddill co-founded the art space All the Sudden
On what they think about when writing songs:
"To me it feels a little nihilistic, not because it has a nihilistic message or something, it feels like just throwing shit at the wall." – Jack Owens
The genesis of Font is nothing short of enigmatic. Sparse social media posts and a notable absence from major streaming services generate intrigue for the elusive and rarely performing fivepiece. Their music is less opaque: relentless post-punk with New Wave keyboards and arty, personality-driven singing. In a gleaming salute to Bauhaus and Echo & the Bunnymen, singer Thom Waddill's vocal flux ranges from vibrato trills to commanding shouts atop a defiant tempo propelled by guitarist Anthony Laurence's eccentric sampler use and Roman Parnell's punching bass. Jack Owens' drumming bolsters the beat poetry rhythm in "I hate looking at engines," while the auxiliary percussion and noise overlays of Logan Wagner brings each melody to a fever pitch. Font believes that "the medium is the message," where their music can give meaning to things they wouldn't otherwise be able to express, culminating in this radical act being a favorite amongst other musicians in the underground scene.
Mean Age: 23
Home venue: The Shed (a DIY space)
Essential Work: "Moo Moo" (2022)
Established In: 2015, current lineup 2022
Notable Moment: Rage moshing at their 21st Street Co-op show turned the second-story wood floor into a "waterbed"
On their "process":
"We just wrote this new song called 'Speedrail.' I don't know if we put any meaning behind the chorus, but we just smoked a bunch of pot and then we were like, 'Well, what does it sound like we're singing about?'" – Eric Limon
"I've never lived this kind of moment/ I've never been inside a woman" is the lyrical epitome of a self-described "shed rock" band whose lead singer audaciously proclaimed, "Sometimes it's funny to say I'm still a virgin." Started by a group of native Austin goons in high school, Party Van has proved to be the Wavves and Osees love child for hard-moshing hedonists. Recently signed to Mr. Pink Records, these four degenerates are primed to release their debut album and tear up stages with their unhinged live shows – maybe even literally, as bassist Gabe Poliakoff turned his bass to wood chips while onstage at Hole. They've gone through hella names: Pangea, the Yamahas, the Poobs, and Benny Wonton & the Party Vans. Drummer Brandon Flores and founding members Eric Limon (singer/guitar) and Deven Ivy (guitar) describe the name Party Van as partly conceptual and partly an homage to the 1984 Dodge Falcon. How do they come up with their song names? "Low IQ."
SARAH & THE SUNDAYS
Mean Age: 22
Home venue: Empire
Essential Work: "Ruby Fields," So You're Mad About the Cups (2019)
Established In: 2016
Notable Moment: The 100 actress Eliza Taylor directed and acted in their 2021 "Vices" music video
"I've thrown my vices to the wind/ I'm better than I was/ I've been in crisis since the crib/ I've been painfully impulsive/ But ambitious/ Only life's/ Repetitious/ As it is" – Sarah & the Sundays, "Vices" (2021)
Bolstered by Spotify's "Feel-Good Indie Rock" playlist, this fivepiece is a breakout heartthrob with bedroom-pop anthems. With melancholic songs atop clean, lighthearted guitars, Sarah & the Sundays repackage the styles of Catfish & the Bottlemen and Brantwood with lush musical infusions alongside their boy band sensibilities. Sony Music's AWAL distribution company issued 2021 sophomore effort The Living End, following 2019 debut, So You're Mad About the Cups. Their mellow live shows are propelled by the vocals of singer Liam Yorgensen over Brendan Whyburn's atmospheric chords that decorate the dreamscapes of "Vices" and "Veneer." The steady drumming of Quinn Lane, alongside Declan Chill's bass and Miles Reynolds' ambient guitar, sets an endless summer vibe full of cheerful riffs and sun-drenched pool parties. Coming off of tour with the Happy Fits, the band has recently released a deluxe version of their latest album and is nestled in the Austin City Limits 2022 festival lineup. While they originally called themselves the Sundays after the day they all got together to practice, one may wonder about the identity of the elusive Sarah. From the screen to the stage, their band name comes from a picture taken with the lead singer's sister at their first show, with the caption: "Sarah and the Sundays."
A previous version of this story listed Shooks' C-Boy's residency as Sundays in June. They'll actually be holding down Thursdays in July at the South Congress club.