New Music Monday: Top 10 Debuts of 2016


1. S∆MMUS - Pieces in Space

On her major-label debut, Sammus sings and raps with clear eyes and a laser-sharp intellect, covering topics from academia to gaming culture to sexual assault to internet-fueled feelings of isolation. Pieces in Space is at its best when it’s drawing parallels between the ivory tower and the world wide web, the two places Sammus (a gamer and a PhD student) spends most of her time. Both deserve criticism and revelry, and Sammus presents them in the deeply refreshing context of putting self-preservation first. Track blasting trolls? Check. Track espousing therapy as a means to dealing with the modern world? Check. Anybody living in today’s world will find something to relate to here, and, if we’re wise, to learn from. 

2. Vocífera - Evil Thoughts

Vociferate means to exclaim, shriek, make a bunch of noise. It also means my favorite new Brazilian death metal band. Vocífera was formed in 2011 with the distinct goal of recruiting all female members and diversifying the metal scene, which is a deeply metal thing to do. The group released their debut full-length as one epic track on YouTube, correctly assuming that the world as a whole needed this, and needed it now. 

3. Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop - Love Letter For Fire

Both Sam Beam, who performs as Iron & Wine, and Jesca Hoop are well-established artists with deep catalogues. This year hearkened their debut as a duo, though, with the release of an intricate and whimsical collaborative record, Love Letter for Fire. The album is a collaboration in the best way—it bears imprints from each of its highly individual creators, but ultimately reads like the mind-meld that it is. 

4. Loamlands - Sweet High Rise

Kym Register released her debut LP as Loamlands this year, and it’s a balm for the weary soul. And who, at the end of 2016, has anything other than a weary soul? Loamlands makes folk music with bluegrass roots and sharp edges, and this record crafts a powerful message of the urgency with which the South (Register is from Durham, NC) must evolve on issues of LGBTQ civil rights. 

5. Anohni - Hopelessness

Anohni, like Jesca Hoop and Sam Beam, is an established artist who released a debut this year. She’s the openly trans lead singer of Antony and the Jonhsons, and in March 2016 she put out her first record under the name she’d been using privately for years. Hopelessness was immediately (and correctly) lauded, earning its singer her second Mercury Prize nomination. Her voice is viscous and crystal clear at once - slow to unfold but pure as a poem when it does. 

Which artists released debut records you loved in the past year? Let us know in the comments! 


by Katie Presley
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Katie Presley is a writer and editor currently based on the East Coast (help, how did this happen??). She's been with Bitch in one form or another since 2010, when she started as a New Media Intern, and most recently served as Bitch's first and only Music Editor, from 2016-2017. Past resume lines include Assistant Producer for All Songs Considered at NPR Music, panelist on Pop Culture Happy Hour, and bylines at NPR and Ms. Katie is also a doula and herbalist, and writes a blog on herbal medicine, "The Herbal Apprentice." She also co-founded the first full-spectrum doula organization in Texas, The Bridge Collective. She is also a late-comer to being a Dog Person, but currently lives with four cats. 

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