Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2019 incredible. Today, Key writer Yoni Kroll shares his favorite new bands of the year.

You can have your legacy acts, bands that have been around for years, even decades. I’ll forever be most excited about the brand new band trying to figure out a unique sound and carving out a little space for themselves in the hectic Philly scene. New blood is not only necessary to keep things going, it’s crucial for the overall health of the music community. With that in mind here are nine brand new bands that hit the ground running in 2019.

Freaks – There’s literally no bullshitting going on here as this band totally lives up to their name. Bringing a heavy, dirty sound that’s somewhere between the noisy dark punk stuff bands like Philly’s Blank Spell have been making the past few years and something even more weird than that, Freaks has quickly cemented their place in the scene. Check out their demo tape for five tracks of blissfully gothed out freaky punk.

Eat – If you close your eyes while watching no wave punkers Eat play it might be easy to imagine you’re at a show 40 years ago to see the The Stick Men or James Chance and the Contortions or The Screamers. But, please, open your eyes, cause really it’s 2019 and you’re in a dingy basement in West Philly and that’s awesome. Also someone might mosh into you and that would be dangerous if you don’t see them coming. Eat is one of my favorite bands in Philadelphia right now, hands down, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Rainbow Crimes – Usually when I see the word ‘experimental’ being used to describe a band I think, “Oh, they don’t know what they’re doing” and lower my expectations just a little. But in the case of Rainbow Crimes, that experiment is much more the attitude of the music makers, all veterans of the Philly music scene (including The Key’s own Alex Smith). The music they make is an open-ended equation and they’re constantly plugging in different variables to see what happens. They’re doing something right cause the end result so far, a swirling mix of post-punk and space rock, is entirely fantastic in every sense of the word.

Drill – Sometimes all you want to listen to is bouncy, catchy, and totally flippant synthpunk. In times like that West Philly’s Drill totally has you covered. From the people who brought you Juice, Ursula, and so many other great bands over the past couple years, this blink-and-you’ll-miss-them three piece – seriously, the live set is all of seven minutes long – is going to be doing cool stuff in the new year so be sure to pay attention.

Blueprint – This is hardcore music, pure and simple. The West Philly four-piece gives you riffs, hooks, and attitude, everything you want from this kind of band, and triple dog dares you to not have a good time. The band started in late 2018 but didn’t actually get everything sorted out until this year, when they’ve dropped two exceptional tapes and done a couple short tours. Catch them in a basement near you in 2020.

Devil – The new release from jangly no wave punk n’ rollers Devil is called Death is Knocking at My Door. I’d really suggest you open that door and let death right in cause this is some truly great stuff. While you’re at it, check out their first tape, released back in May, for an over-the-top and super fun reimagining of “Love Comes In Spurts” by Richard Hell and the Voidoids.

Mesh – From the ashes of Dark Web, Mint, Posture, and more comes this brand new post-punk band that has only played one show so far. The three song demo dropped in September and I’m chomping at the bit for more.

Chained Bliss – Maybe you’re not familiar with bands like Masshysteri and Red Dons, but it’s clear that the members of Chained Bliss are and we are all better for it. Their Stained Red demo tape is one of my favorite things that came out this year, four tracks of super catchy post-punk and rock n’ roll. Give this a listen and make it your mission to go see them play because you won’t regret it.

Alien Birth – Another band that lives up to their name, Alien Birth is some nasty, weird dark punk from some true West Philly freaks. Saw a review online that simply said, “LOVE this, reminds me of not giving 2 effs” and really that sums it up perfectly. Give their new one a listen and do the creepy crawl!

Alien Birth | photo by Yoni Kroll