The Alt’s List of the Best Records of 2024 (So Far)

Posted: by The Editor

It’s the start of summer, which means its mid-year list time! Our staff put our heads together and compiled our list of our favorite records of 2024 so far. It’s been a wild 6 months full of awesome releases, but these are the ones that stuck out most to us. Check out our picks and find your new favorite band, and if we forgot someone, let us know. While you read, you can listen to a couple of songs from each record at the playlist below:

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21 Savage – American Dream

A classic, soulful 21 Savage album has graced the country’s playlists the last couple of months: a true American dream. Savage is in his bag, clearly—honestly describing heartwarming, painful, whimsical scenes, coalescing cameoed verses with holistic choruses, bringing us a great rap album, complete with virtuosic performances from Travis Scott on “nee-nah” and Young Thug on “pop ur shit.” A major note of interest, besides the banging, infectious trap that permeates almost every song of the project, is Savage referencing the modern phenomenon of raising “phone light[s]” at concerts, which, although true, still feels weird to hear. Either way, 21’s American Dream is a pleasant daydream, enjoyable from start to finish, even if the details may be a little fuzzy. – Hanson Egerland

Allie X – Girl with No Face

Halfway through my first listen of Allie X’s Girl with No Face, I was convinced it was one of the best records of the year. Months later, that hasn’t changed. From the album’s opener “Weird World,” there’s a refreshing air to its take on the post-punk/new wave sound. Its eerie atmosphere blends seamlessly with its dark synth-pop structure, and there’s several experimental moments that thrive outside of the traditional pop formula. It’s also entirely self-produced, which is wicked when you listen to how cohesive Girl with No Face really is. – Hope Ankney

Babehoven – Water’s Here in You

This album helped treat my springtime doldrums. It’s enchanting, stunning, and full of surprises with a mix of folk and indie with hints of shoegaze. The vocals are so rich and the lyrics are illuminating—about forgiveness, friendship, empathy, and so much more. “Birdseye,” the first on the album, is a swirling melody that sounds exactly like what a “birdseye view” feels like—a new perspective. The call-and-response singing and acoustics make this song feel warm and welcoming. Water’s Here in You is Babehoven’s best work yet. – Ryleigh Wann

Been Stellar – Scream From New York, NY

New York City based quintet Been Stellar have been garnering comparisons to early 2000’s garage rock revival bands since their first release in 2020, but the indie rock band’s debut album Scream From New York, NY suggests they’re closer in DNA to ‘90s alternative rock and late ’60s art rock. Equipped with a tenacious sense of urgency and hunger, the up and coming band blend elements of whirling shoegaze, syrupy psychedelic rock, and raucous noise rock for a stunning debut that’s unabashedly indebted to the city’s rich rock and roll lineage. – Loan Pham

Bring Me the Horizon – Post Human: NeX GEn

Post Human: NeX GEn is part of Bring Me the Horizon’s continuous challenge of pushing their sound. Transcending singular genres, this record is at the band’s most experimental. One could even critique the record for being a cohesive mess, but the uncertainty of what comes next and the ability to have such stark, jagged lines in its sonic makeup is a fun repose from the traditional album structure. Whether it’s metalcore or post-punk or pop-punk or nu-metal or hyper-pop, this album has it all whether you like it or not. And, it’s in that reckless arena, carefree of its judgment, where Post Human: NeX GEn oddly shines. And of course, it has a sweeping, complex, super ballad that closes the album that’ll burn through your brain for days. – Hope Ankney

Candy – It’s Inside You

“Existence / Precedes essence / Thrown into this world / Not of our own” is the exact sort of straightforward philosophical musing I love to be violently greeted with when trying to decipher what Candy is screaming about this time around. It’s Inside You is at once, a vicious and unrelenting album from the innovative metallic hardcore band. Combining elements of metal, industrial, electronic, and hardcore, Candy find a compelling balance between the caustic extremity of their music and the more technical aspects that allow for more space and nuance than their previous album Heaven is Here. The infusion of more industrial and electronic elements in particular adds brief euphoric and clamorous moments as they lyrically rally against the dystopian wasteland we’re living in. It’s one of the most thrilling and vehemently powerful albums of the year as the title track repeatedly spouts, “Start the riot / It’s inside you.” – Loan Pham

Charli xcx – Brat

As if I didn’t need a reason to act up this summer, Charli delivered. An album about having fun at the club with your baddies and balancing insecurity at the peak of fame, Brat is a heater of a pop album. It’s vulnerable and messy while simultaneously cool and dazzling. Brat is full of anthems for all the messy moments—the times when anxiety and insecurity bubble up and make you second guess everything, or when you’re stumbling out of the after-hours show with runny mascara. It puts a big bow on top of what life feels like right now—nostalgic, vulnerable, and full of possibility. – Ryleigh Wann

Ekko Astral – pink balloons

Ekko Astral brings bubblegum punk rock with a big heart. Their debut record pink balloons can be bratty and fun, steeped in the humor of internet subcultures. But there is also a more reflective side to the record, with quietly somber songs that meditate on the lyric “if you walk through a cemetery / you’ll find people buried under the headstones of strangers.” This rock-solid album will go down in history as a legendary debut. – Elizabeth Phelan

Future x Metro Boomin – We Don’t Trust You / We Still Don’t Trust You

Can this album escape a best-of list, if not for the quality of the album, then for the sheer societal impact it caused? After this cutting, thematically consistent project was released, a featured track, “Like That,” went viral with Kendrick’s caustic verse Richter-ripping across the country like LA’s worst earthquake, thereby leading to the Drake v. Kendrick Beef (2024) which produced arguably some of Kendrick’s (and Drake’s, to be completely fair) best work in years. Besides the impact that was felt outside of the actual music of the album, Future and Metro Boomin express once again why they should basically only trust each other: they are good at making music together. – Hanson Egerland

GloRilla – Ehhthang Ehhthang

GloRilla’s fantastic mixtape Ehhthang Ehhthang features banger after banger, “stompin” from track to track, bludgeoning flows accompanied by bumping beats. While many can relate to “High AF,” she also speaks to an incredible aura of empowerment on “Yea Glo!,” perhaps my favorite song of the year. Enlisting Meg (and later, Cardi B for a perfect remix), GloRilla’s flow is crisp and authoritative. – Hanson Egerland

The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick – The Iliad and The Odyssey and the Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick

While it certainly lands on first listen, The Iliad and The Odyssey and the Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick is a record that benefits from the more time you spend with it. Decisions that may seem jarring at first—the abrupt cutoff in “Leaf” or the extended “Clair De Lune” on bells to close out the record—begin to make more sense as you fit them in the greater context of a record that almost seems like you are accidentally overhearing at times. The album feels equal parts far-reaching and achingly personal in scope, with images of anti-war protests alongside nights where you shut off the wifi and talk until your “lungs give out,” ignoring the world for the one person in front of you. With more grandiose arrangements and slightly quicker tempos than they worked with on Ways of Hearing, you almost get the sense that The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick were trying to overcome the way this type of nuanced, delicate music is often unceremoniously lumped in the “sad songs” category. “Stranger, in These Dark Times” is certainly the most upbeat (in a literal sense of tempo) we’ve heard Goalie, while an emphatic drum hit launches a moment of ascension after the slow build of “Mr. Settled Score.” The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick’s debut Ways of Hearing remains a favorite of recent years for me, but there can be no doubt that they took a noticeable step forward with The Iliad and The Odyssey and the Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick. – Aaron Eisenreich

Good Looks – Lived Here for a While

On the most-talked-about lyric from Good Looks’s 2022 debut LP Bummer Year, vocalist/guitarist Tyler Jordan shouted out his Trump-supporting high school friends, damning them with faint praise: “I don’t think they’re evil / even when they’re awful.” It’s easy to see why so many people’s ears perked up at that line, especially a few years removed from the spate of understanding-the-Trump-voter article mill that infected seemingly every online space. But it’s also a fitting framework for understanding Good Looks’s sophomore album, the spectacular Lived Here for a While. Jordan lives in a world of greed and selfishness—as do we all!—a world run by greedy landlords and racist land developers, by religious reactionaries and capitalist death cultists, but Good Looks never resign to hopelessness. The band finds strength in shared struggle, supplanting faith in a higher power with a faith in humanity, all wrapped up in populist, working-class Americana. On a couple of these songs they even work in rippling post-punk licks, adding a newfound depth of color to “Broken Body” and “Day of Judgment,” and lead guitarist Jake Ames delivers at least one scorching solo every five minutes, mirroring Jordan’s lyrical urgency and intensity. All throughout Lived Here for a While, Good Looks suggests that, in a world of such cruelty, forgiveness is an act of courage. – Zac Djamoos

Half Waif – Ephemeral Being

It’s fitting that Half Waif’s latest EP is titled Ephemeral Being. If you’ve ever heard Nandi Rose sing, ephemeral is one of the first words that comes to mind. The five-track EP starts slow with “Service,” a gentle introduction before the well-chosen single, “Big Dipper.” “Heartwood,” referring to “the dense inner part of a tree trunk, yielding the hardest timber”, takes a shift, almost more spoken word poetry than traditional song, managing to make like you feel like not only are you in a forest, but like you are the whole spirit of the forest, like you are the most resilient part of the tree, if you’re willing to close your eyes and just be. I could listen to the title track a hundred times over, letting the lyrics “You’re not a failure / You’re an ephemeral being” try to permeate my stubborn brain. As usual, Half Waif packs a punch in just a few songs, leaving the listener swooning along to their airy yet grounded beats. If you like Half Waif’s music, and honestly even if you don’t, Nandi Rose’s substack is worth a read. Like her lyrics, her beautiful prose makes even the most banal parts of the human experience feel magical. – Jessica Cole

HEAVYHEX – True to You

HEAVYHEX’s debut album True to You is Bridge 9 Records’ first release of 2024, and it’s a fitting one. The Long Island melodic hardcore band calls back to the days of Verse, Have Heart, and American Nightmare, but never feels like a retread of their influences. Instead True to You feels like the 2020s equivalent of those bands’ most beloved LPs, an album that can serve as a gateway into this style of hardcore without ever feeling dated or cliche. “Can you make it count?” the band demands on “Worthwhile,” and HEAVYHEX makes every second count on True to You. – Zac Djamoos

Jimmy Montague – Tomorrow’s Coffee

No one is doing it like Jimmy Montague. When was the last time you heard an easy listening, yacht rock-y album that managed to sound classic and modern at the same time? When was the last time you heard a new album in that vein at all? James Palko brings his solo project back for its third album, filled with horns, piano flourishes, and “sha la las.” Standout tracks include “All The Same,” a jaunty collaboration with Chris Farren, and “Halfway Out the Door”, which is a beautifully arranged song that’s thick with emotion. Tomorrow’s Coffee has become a staple in my Sunday morning rotation and is worth a listen no matter what genre you frequent. – Madison Van Houten

Joey Valence & Brae – No Hands

With the obnoxious blasting beats, wanna-Beastie Boy bars, silly jokes and loony references, No Hands feels like a highschool mixtape that was too good not to leave the lunchroom. “I feel like Michael Cera in his swag era”. Like Netflix’s Stranger Things, Joey Valence & Brae pull from everything they grew up on, in a way that’s so obvious and mingled that it feels more like an homage than a rip. There are elements pulled from Jurassic Five, Kendrick Lamar, the Beasties, Odd Future, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang, Brockhampton and many more. A feature from Danny Brown brings a much needed dose of legitimacy, encouraging skeptical rap fans. Yes, its derivative, and this isn’t the highest form of hip-hop, or even close, but it is a lot of fun, and the production is top notch. I wish more artists in 2024 worked this hard to keep the energy up. Hit play and let the adrenaline flow while you dance it out. – Henderson Cole

Knocked Loose – You Won’t Go Before You’re Supposed To

Knocked Loose have bulldozed their way into our eardrums with You Won’t Go Before You’re Supposed To. A cacophony of explosive instrumentals and vocals, the record is abrasive in all the right ways. From the second Brian Garris, lead singer, wails in opening track “The Thirst” there is no going back. There’s no safe moments to breathe on this record. It obliterates you with pain and suffering, just like a Knocked Loose record should. – Sarah Knoll

Mannequin Pussy – I Got Heaven

This album should be required listening for anyone feeling under pressure, misunderstood, perceived, or confined to their past struggles and traumas. Seeing this album’s tour and watching people collectively heal as they belt the lyrics to these new songs was truly like nothing I’ve seen before. This record is messy, sexy, and confident; I Got Heaven gives space for reflection, for anger—for forgiveness. I have no doubt that “Loud Bark” will be high on my Spotify Wrapped this year. – Ryleigh Wann

Porcelain – S/T

There are plenty of bands today that are heavily inspired by ‘90s alternative rock in some way, but not nearly enough of them are pulling from the deeply dissonant and staggering intensity of ‘90s noise rock / post-hardcore the way that Porcelain are. With their debut self-titled album out on Portrayal of Guilt Records earlier this year, it recalls the angular nature of bands like Unwound, lowercase, or Drive Like Jehu while concocting their own menacing gravity that heaves and hurls throughout the entire album. Their shout style paired with careening riffs, fluid-like melodies, rumbling basslines, and sharp drumming, make for an alluring debut that’s difficult to forget. – Loan Pham

Rosie Tucker – Utopia Now!

Rosie Tucker is at their best with Utopia Now! The fourth project is a thoughtful mix of dream pop and emo-punk that might be the artist’s sharpest songwriting outing to date as they saunter between emotional candor and the gravity of our political landscape. This is held all over-top of a bright and peppy sound. There’s a lot Rosie Tucker can do, but their sweet spot is in their infectious melodies and affable vocals which Utopia Now! delivers ten-fold on. It sounds best cranked in the car after work—believe me. – Hope Ankney

Riley! – Keep Your Cool

In lieu of a flowery or extensive bio for Keep Your Cool, the album page on Counter Intuitive Records’ site simply reads “riley! from texas coming in hot with their 3rd LP keep your cool.” That truly is all you really need to say as Keep Your Cool is an absolute rocker, packed with high-energy punk with riffs ranging from cascading pull-off/hammer-on runs to pure melodies that cut through fuzz in their interplay with the active keys added overtop of tunes like openers “777” and “Keep Your Cool, Man.” Lyrically, there are countless lines that catch your ear, like kicking off “Kill Yr Boss” with “fuck it, left a trail of blood on my way out” over an intricate guitar line leaving its own trail, or the Private Joker style duality of “sometimes I got a fucking ego, other times I feel like shit.” What really sticks out on Keep Your Cool, though, is the hooks. “Keep Your Cool, Man” is ludicrously catchy, “Ego Peek Mid” turns a hook out of a dosage that “left you feeling hopeless,” and “eat your heart out are you full yet?” is made to be a showstopping moment amidst a killer live set. If you’re into punk, don’t let this one go by the wayside. – Aaron Eisenreich

Sheer Mag – Playing Favorites

Philadelphia’s favorite rock band returned earlier this year with Playing Favorites, their third LP. There haven’t been any major shifts in Sheer Mag’s whole shtick—big, classic rock riffs and Tina Halliday’s screaming vocals—but that’s just fine, as they cruise through eleven songs with a punk-rock-power-pop energy. Title track “Playing Favorites” is everything a Sheer Mag song should be, a perfect sing-along with some clever guitars right in the chorus that make this song unskippable when it comes on in the car. “Eat It and Beat It” is a hair metal-esque jam that would have worked in any decade. And don’t miss the later track “Mechanical Garden,” which takes their signature sound into a new, prog-rock territory. – Madison Van Houten

Stay Inside – Ferried Away

In the classic Seinfeld episode “The Subway,” Coney Island is a mythical land, a place where even the most cynical adults can be reborn as gleeful children—it’s Elysium. For Stay Inside, it’s another afterlife analogue: a purgatorial realm where you don’t return to childhood but to the people you’ve lost over the years, whether to death or another path in life. Ferried Away is higher-minded than Stay Inside’s excellent 2020 album Viewing, and while it’s a far heavier listen thematically it’s the brighter and more accessible of their two LPs. The Brooklyn quartet leaves behind the post-hardcore of that record and its companion EP Blight in favor of a warmer, more melodic strain of horn-laden emo along the lines of The World Is… or Short Fictions. The album’s closing track “Steeplechase” frames life as a line at an amusement park ride, and in our interview with the band they expressed that “You aren’t sad that the roller coaster ends,” because “you visit when you can, and appreciate it while it’s there.” Luckily for us the thrilling, welcoming world of Ferried Away is only ever a click away. – Zac Djamoos

Taylor Swift – The Tortured Poets Department

It’s not breaking any new ground to declare that at 31 tracks The Tortured Poets Department is long and at times repetitive. The tracks are mostly a split between 2 producers: Jack Antonoff, who’s songs are breathy, synthy, and reminiscent of 1989 and Midnights, and Aaron Dessner, who’s songs give more of a folklore / evermore vibe. It’s clear that some lyrics could have used some finessing before going out the door, “You took my ring off my middle finger and put it on the one people put wedding rings on / and that’s the closest I’ve come to my heart exploding“. You could say the same for the entirety of the song “Florida”. That said, there’s still good here that will keep fans coming back to TTPD. Taylor has learned that her fans love a good bridge and continues to provide the people what they want on TTPD (See: “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived”), and on deeper listening, some of these lyrics hit hard.

At first listen, the songs melted together for me and sounded nice, but forgettable. After more listens, the better hooks stuck out, “I love you, it’s ruining my life.”, but it wasn’t until Taylor incorporated TTPD as an Era on her tour that the album made sense for me. There are few women on this planet that can’t relate to the feminine rage oozing out of her performance of “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?” On the only bubble gum pop song, “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart,” she shifts people’s perspective of her life for the past year. While she was on stage kicking off the Eras tour giving some fans the best night of their year, she admits to being miserable. I’m not sure if TTPD will go down as anyone’s favorite era, but I have a feeling it wasn’t meant to be a fan favorite. Its purpose was primarily to be a catharsis for Taylor, and another bridge, this time between Midnights and whatever comes next. – Jessica Cole

This is Lorelei – Box for Buddy, Box for Star

This record blew my mind over and over and over! A solo record from Nate Amos of Water From Your Eyes fame, Box for Buddy, Box for Star represents a masterwork of relentless experimentation and careful study of American pop music tradition. From the first time I heard the exhilarating start of “I’m All Fucked Up,” I knew this record was going to be something special. Tender songs like “Two Legs” and “Angels Eye” are almost overwhelmingly lovely. Nate Amos has created a masterpiece. – Elizabeth Phelan

Vampire Weekend – Only God Was Above Us

After their 2019 release, Father of the Bride, I was curious what direction Vampire Weekend would take to next. The band have explored so many different sounds in their 16 years together, and Only God Was Above Us is no exception. The band pay a lot of homage to their early sound, while still being contemporary with commentary on today’s society and communication. The entire record is a delight to listen to, and creates a nostalgia for their unique sound that is still being developed and uncovered. – Sarah Knoll

Vince Staples – Dark Times

Dark Times is a stormy record about inner conflict. Vince Staples newest LP grapples with the forces and contradictions pulling on Vince and other people who makes it out from a rough situation into some manner of success: the pursuit of love vs sex, financial success vs artistic renown, local herodom vs actual change, etc. “Label trying to give me feedback, told me bring the streets back / Fans said they want 2015 Vince, Dropped Big Fish, been weak since / Damn, tell me how you really feel, And, all I wantеd was a couple mil / Make thе city proud, put it on before the crackers come and tear it down”. Vince, now experienced working in TV, both writing and acting, brings some of that to his musical work as well, and does a good job telling a story in each of album’s focal tracks. Lyrically and sonically he works his way through these thoughts as they wind through his head. – Henderson Cole

Waxahatchee – Tigers Blood

Tigers Blood is honest and tender and since its release, set the tone for the syrupy summer I’ve been daydreaming of. Katie Crutchfield, who has had many successful releases in the past for a variety of projects, may have touched on something new for hew in this new record. Her voice bellows delicately with the country twang throughout these tracks and the final product is such a clear and balanced record. “Right Back To It” might be the most romantic song I’ve heard in a long time. – Ryleigh Wann

Written and Curated by The Alt Staff

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