The much-loved sound of chiming, jangly guitars is most frequently credited to The Beatles and The Byrds, but one would be hard-pressed to argue that it was The Smiths who made the sound so ubiquitous in indie pop. Between Manchester's favorite sons and the C86 compilation tape, the mid-80s were a boon for the sound that inhabits so many top-notch guitar bands nowadays.

Time has allowed groups to develop the sound even further, taking it to new heights and new realms. While so many bands draw from the jangly sonic reservoir, the three groups below are among the very best. Bringing innovation and excitement to an oft-copied style is not always easy, but each of these bands are establishing themselves as vital voices in the music world.

Chastity Belt

I can think of few bands more exhilarating than Chastity Belt. Formed in Walla Walla, Wash., while the four members were studying at Whitman College. They got together in 2013 and quickly released their debut LP, No Regerts. A fast and loose lo-fi affair, the record was fresh, fun and funny. Songs such as 'James Dean,' 'Giant (Vagina)' and especially 'Seattle Party' were hard to forget once you heard them. By marrying Lydia Lund's gorgeous guitar lines with Julia Shapiro's towering vocals and masterful feminist takedowns, Chastity Belt quickly positioned itself as a group to watch. Last year, the band released their second album, Time To Go Home. It was the sort of album that was so spine-tinglingly well done that the phrase "holy shit" was a major part of my review. Tracks like 'Drone,' 'Cool Slut' and the album's title track all built upon the band's established formula but with even more power, acerbic wit and beauty. Gretchen Grimm's drums thunder with confidence and Annie Truscott's bass provides a taut groove to each track. Meanwhile, Shapiro's soaring vocal power has led some to compare her voice to Florence Welch, while her lyric's draw comparisons to the legendary chops of Morrissey. Two better comparisons would be hard to find. Chastity Belt is back in the studio now and that means even more incredible music should be on the way. If you haven't taken notice already, I'm sure they will make you.


Hailing from Montreal, TOPS is largely the offspring of the synthpop outfit Silly Kissers. While Silly Kissers was pretty fabulous in its own right, I cannot help but be grateful that TOPS is what resulted from their disbandment. The band's 2012 debut, Tender Opposites, was easily one of the year's strongest albums. In fact, Gorilla Vs. Bear named it as their eighth-best album of the year, ahead of Frank Ocean's Channel Orange and Grizzly Bear's Shields. Not bad. But when you consider a single as infectious as 'Turn Your Love Around,' it is not hard to see where that level of praise came from. TOPS' 2014 follow-up, Picture You Staring, was somehow able to surpass the expectation's laid out by the debut by building upon the group's pre-established strengths. 'Way To Be Loved' was one of the year's most alluring singles, thanks in no small part to an absolutely beautiful vocal turn by Jane Penny (although Mac DeMarco cameoing with his testicles hanging out of his fly certainly never hurt anything, right?). Other tracks like 'Driverless Passenger' and 'Sleeptalker' showcased the band's instrumental chops, as TOPS is clearly capable of putting together some stunning, atmospheric beauties. It has been two years since Picture You Staring and some new material is almost surely on the way soon, so maybe catch up on TOPS' extensive backlog of material before they drop some new gems.

Twin River

Like TOPS, Twin River hails from Canada, albeit from Vancouver rather than Montreal. Having been established as a folk duo, the group has morphed into a thrilling purveyor of jangly pop deliciousness. Their debut, Should The Light Go Out, featured some haunting winners in the form of 'Bend To Break' and 'Secret In A Séance' that captured the attention of more than a few folks. But it is the band's recent release, Passing Shade, that should really grip people's hearts. By blending vintage jangle pop sounds with modern flairs, Twin River possesses an enchanting sound with more than a little edge. As I wrote in my review of the album, Courtney Ewan Bromley is able to use her astounding vocal power to capture the essence of what makes both Blondie's Debbie Harry and Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino so popular. 'Settle Down' is one of 2016's absolute best jangle pop tracks, while the heartfelt knockout 'Known To Run' applies the same formula to something a little more low-key but equally as lovely. Twin River is the kind of band that deserves as much attention as the world can throw at them and, with a fresh LP out for people to enjoy, now is the right time to throw them that attention.