The best and most anticipated music of 2015

From Blis. to Migos, Dasher, and Sydney Eloise, a survey of all the music you need to know

!100 Watt Horse EAFAFAFATTTA (Deer Bear Wolf/Bear Kids)

Everything Is Alright Forever and Forever and Forever and Thank You Thank You Thank You Amen is a hell of a title for 100 Watt Horse's first proper album. Yet, these deeply personal songs are stripped of all that is extraneous. Bound by warm tape hiss and warble, EAFAFAFATTTA vacillates between George Pettis' hushed guitars and exotic pop experiments. — Sean Zearfoss

!Abra BLQ Velvet (Awful Records)

If the Weeknd is the dark prince of R&B, Abra's spot on the queen's throne is locked down. — Gavin Godfrey

!Blackberry Smoke Holding All the Roses (Rounder)

The Atlanta band best positioned for mainstream success in 2015 is veteran country rock outfit Blackberry Smoke. For years the band's calling card has been Southern rock throwbacks such as "Rock and Roll Again." But Holding All the Roses' standout, "Too High," recalls a time when outlaws ruled the country airwaves. — Bobby Moore

!Blis. Starting Fires in My Parents House EP (Soft Speak Records)

Since 2012, singer and guitarist Aaron Gossett-Posey, bass player Tyler Findlay, drummer Jimi Ingman, and guitarist Nathan Hardy have perfected fuzz-laden melodies that straddle the line between '90s nostalgia and modern shoegaze laced with irresistible hooks. After releasing the "Floating Somewhere High and Above" video, Blis. signed on with Sargent House (Deafheaven, Russian Circles). Since then the group has been lining up tours and prepping its debut LP for 2016. — SZ

!BOSCO BOY EP (Fool's Gold)

Savannah-born singer/songwriter and recent Fool's Gold signee channels a cyborg Aaliyah giving us a peek into R&B's future. — GG

!Breathers Transitions EP (Skeleton Realm)

Breathers' debut cuts through tired synth-pop tropes with equal parts '80s nostalgia and sci-fi goofiness. Songs such as "Krokodil" ebb and flow from ambient electronic gurgles to swirling arpeggios. Lead singer T. Lee Gunselman anchors the madness with anthemic hooks and surreal lyricism, showcasing a band that's well-defined, right out of the gate. — Paul DeMerritt

!DJ Burn One Canapé (Self-released)

DJ Burn One and the Five Points Bakery take a break from "country rap" to deliver one of the most unrestrained instrumental albums of the year. Canapé comes across more like a soundtrack for a gallery show than a hip-hop release. — GG

!Algiers Algiers (Matador)

Each of the group's members have all moved far away, but Algiers is unmistakably an Atlanta band. Vocalist/guitarist Franklin James Fisher, bassist Ryan Mahan, and guitarist Lee Tesche (Lyonnais) spin a dark web of church organs, shout-along hooks, and layers of distortion. This group plumbs the depths of pained gospel and post-punk poetry for its brew of agitated soul and political commentary. — PD

!DJ Lord>2MuchPosse Eat the Rat (Spit Digital)

DJ Lord>2MuchPosse's debut is a heavy-duty social, political, and cultural manifesto that draws from the same sense of crisis that spawned Public Enemy's "Welcome to the Terrordome." But there's a whole new set of intellectual nemeses driving YOLO culture, affecting intelligent thought on all fronts. The album blends Lord's mastery of modern EDM with Chuck D's timeless baritone. And when paired with MC Obeah and Threepeeoh's lucid boom-bap production, the music is unstoppable. — Chad Radford

!Ethereal Catalyst (Awful Records)

Awful Records' spirit guide may be the collective's most consistently dope MC not named Father. Catalyst shows the one-man band sharpening production and writing abilities. — GG

!Jake Lambo Unorthodox (Self-released)

B.o.B is building an impressive army with his No Genre Label. One of his most promising young soldiers made his presence felt in 2015 with this mixtape. — GG

!Dot.s Jellyfiss (Deer Bear Wolf)

Atlanta's synth-pop traditions are scarce, but Dot.s may change that. The quartet's sprawling compositions evoke synth-pop tropes with cascades of tom fills, spitfire arpeggios, and earworm hooks. The addition of cello, acoustic drums, and trumpet thickens the sound pushing Dot.s into its own sonic territory. Singers Ryan James and Bonnie Hardie provide dueling melodies propelled by Nick Lynds' slinking bass and the warmth of Joe Crabb's trumpet. — PD

!J.I.D. DiCaprio EP (Self-released)

A Leonardo DiCaprio-inspired EP? Laugh it up! The East Atlanta MC from the Spillage Village crew proved his rhymes and wordplay are dead serious. — GG

!Nappy Roots The 40 Akerz Project (Nappy Roots Entertainment)

Seasoned rap vets Skinny DeVille and Fish Scales linked up with local up-and-comer 808 Blake, trading acoustic-backed raps with dance vibes. The result is the group's strongest release since 2008's The Humdinger. — GG

!Slugga "Parasite" b/w "Shaved Heads" (Total Punk Records)

Guitarist Skip Engelbrecht's stop-and-go riffs and vocalist Mark Bonner's grotesque screams make "Parasite" the perfect follow-up to Slugga's demo cassette. The flip side features a slick version of crowd-favorite "Shaved Heads," which fuels Bonner's confrontational relationship with live audiences. — BM

!Royal "Crash" (Self-released)

Last year, rapper Mikeflo (Dead Prez DJ) and singer/guitarist Devon Lee got music heads nationwide hyped when they joined forces as the Atlanta-based duo Royal and dropped the cover-filled #ROYALREMIXES. The mixtape was a harbinger of dope things to come. This month, the pair released the sexually charged, guitar- and beat-heavy single "Crash," featuring local drum hero Lil' John Roberts. In July, the crew is keyed up to unleash an EP, via Ropeadope, filled with more original tunes that promise to keep folks buzzed. — Carlton Hargro

!Royal Thunder Crooked Doors (Relapse)

After releasing 2012's CVI, Royal Thunder faced a daunting task: Follow up on an album that not only received widespread critical praise, but shined a light on a new force in American heavy music. The group turned out Crooked Doors, a dynamic album that builds on a blend of Southern rock, psychedelic metal, and bluesy swagger. — Ben Salmon

!Two-9 B4FRVR (EarDrummers/Interscope)

The first release on Two-9's major-label home finds Curtis Williams, FatKidsBrotha, and Retro $ushi at their lyrical best. — GG

!Zruda Self-titled CD (Self-released)

Featuring members of Gaylord and Lazer/Wulf, psychedelic synth-metal quartet Zruda trips on a masterful prog metal vibe with its self-titled CD. — CR

!Big Boi and Phantogram (Big Grams) Self-titled (Epic)

Big Boi linked up with the New York electronic rockers for Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors in 2012. Now the trio returns as Big Grams, and the new crew is putting the finishing touches on its forthcoming project. Due out this year. — GG

!Barreracudas Can Do Easy (Oops Baby)

Barreracudas are barely active these days, but the long-awaited second album is finally in the cards for this summer. Based on the single "Shampoo," expect a collection of fun and catchy power-pop hooks. Keep an eye out for an August release. — BM

!Dasher No Power (Jagjaguwar)

Punk trio Dasher is set to deliver its first LP this summer. Titled No Power, the album builds around themes of powerlessness and the struggle for acceptance in times of change. Produced by Jason Kingsland (Belle and Sebastian, Band of Horses), the album promises to bring life and depth to the raw post-punk energy of last year's "Soviet" b/w "Teeth" 7-inch for Suicide Squeeze. — Anastasia Zimitravich

!EarthGang Strays with Rabies (Self-released)

Arguably the most Southern-rap conscious duo to emerge from the city since OutKast, Doctor Dot and Johnny Venus are poised to amass more friends with the follow-up to 2013's Shallow Graves for Toys. — GG

!Migos Y.R.N. Tha Album (Quality Control/300 Entertainment)

ATL's favorite trap-rap trio and mixtape kings are dropping their official debut album this summer. Keep your eyes peeled for that killer 3-D cover art. — GG

!Coma Girls Self-titled (Bear Kids)

Cut from the same cloth as Atlanta power-pop luminaries Gold-Bears and Small Reactions, Coma Girls harness the allure of simplicity. The quartet's style straddles Saturday morning skateboard anthems and menacing swells of distortion. On "Car Alarms," Chris Spino's guitar swirls around bubblegum choruses, anchored by Chandler Galloway's organ lines. Bassist Rocky Culver and drummer Tyler Dean lay down interlocking grooves to guide the track's movement. Coma Girls enliven the well-worn sound of indie pop, picking up where mainstays such as the Shins have fallen off. Out June 30. — PD

!Kap G EP title TBA (Atlantic)

Megastar producer, Daft Punk BFF, and "Voice" judge Pharrell Williams referred to the Mexican-American College Park rapper Kap G as "the future." Yep, that'd be the same Pharrell who brought us the Clipse and produced Justin Timberlake's first album, so we'll take it. — GG

!Oryx and Crake Marriage (Deer Bear Wolf)

A cacophony opens Oryx and Crake's forthcoming album, Marriage (out in August). Accompanied only by the light strum of a guitar and ambient "ohs," Ryan Peoples' voice creates structure that sits atop chaos. It's a jarring opening salvo that demands a full investment. With Marriage, the group refines its avant-garde folk approach with a more realized foundation. The distance the group has come since 2010's self-titled debut is staggering. — SZ

!Sydney Eloise & the Palms Faces (The Cottage Recording Co.)

Set to arrive Sept. 22 via the Cottage Recording Co., Sydney Eloise's first album, Faces, sees the country-inflected indie songstress easing into a '60s pop sound (think George Harrison, Paul Simon, the Moody Blues). Backed by a band featuring Damon Moon along with members of MammaBear, Coma Girls, and the Hare and the Hounds, keep an eye out for a seafaring video for "Always Sailing" to arrive sooner than later. — CR

!Nurse Untitled 7-inch (Scavenger of Death)

With the arrival of Nurse's second untitled demo, anticipation for the group's first 7-inch is high. The atmosphere surrounding Atlanta's punk scene is changing, and Nurse follows suit: Long-standing patrons guitarists Bryan Scherer and Mark Bonner, bassist David Michaud, and drummer Andrew Wilson, are joined by Manic vocalist Aaron Smith for a batch of delightfully agonizing anarcho-punk, hardcore, d-beat, and biting indignation. Release date TBA. — AZ

!Shampoo title TBA (Label TBA)

Indie pop trio Shampoo is putting the final touches on a new album. There's no name yet, but 12 tracks are in the works. In the meantime, check out the group's June 20 performance for Chowse Fest, which is essentially an East Atlanta house show featuring performances by Mara, Small Reactions, Dot.s, Highlander, Satisfiers of Alpha Blue, and Zulu Wave. — CR

!Raury title TBA (Columbia Records)

Raury's been mum about his Columbia Records debut. What we do know is that he's been posting pics on social media with the name "Devil's Whisper" attached. A hint? If his independently released Indigo Child was any indication, we know that the out-of-left-field MC, producer, and singer/songwriter has lofty ambitions grounded in his uncanny sense of creative authenticity. — GG

!Sadistic Ritual Edge of the Knife (Unspeakable Axe Records)

Sadistic Ritual stays true to classic thrash metal form. This stringent approach doesn't oversimplify things, as the band blows more experimental acts off the stage with its mind-boggling riffs and depraved vocals. Edge of the Knife will bring more eyes and ears to a local metal scene that's due for a shake-up. — BM

!Shepherds Exit Youth (Muckman Records)

Exit Youth, due out this fall, is, perhaps, the greatest title for Shepherds' debut album. Rife with angular guitars, pummeling drums, and slinking bass, Jonathan Merenivich's pop songs about transitioning into "adulthood" are irrepressible. Exit Youth plays out like a true post-punk record for millennials. — SZ

!Gage Gilmore The Space Between the Mind and Self (Mission Trips)

Local avant-garde fixture Gage Gilmore has seven songs of minimalist rock and solo piano compositions set to arrive this summer. The Space Between the Mind and Self is driven by an unyielding pulse, and the tension and harmony of two rhythms trying to coexist. — CR

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