9/10. Candace (41 points)

FORMED: 2009

SOUNDS LIKE: Falling asleep stoned listening to Loveless and dreaming you're a character in Reality Bites.

NOTABLE VOTES: Banana Stand Media co-founder Louie Herr; XRAY.fm founder Jenny Logan.

Anyone who hangs out with the three women in Candace is bound to feel excluded.

It's a feeling anyone with a big sister is familiar with—knowing an elusive coolness that will probably never be open to you. It's not that Sarah Rose, Sarah Nienaber and Mara Appel DesLauriers want to keep their club exclusive. It's just that, at this point in their history as a band, they're so tight-knit, there's really no space to let anyone else in.

"We don't go to shows that much," Rose says. "It's not like we don't want friends or we're anti-shows. It's just that we live together and we practice so much. We're just very focused right now."

Their recent dedication coincides with a name change from Is/Is—lest anyone confuse them with a certain terrorist organization—and a piecemeal relocation from Minneapolis in the past three years. After releasing a few limited-run cassettes under its old handle, Candace began work on the songs that compose its forthcoming record, New Future.

Insular as the group is, there's one crucial outsider whose input is invaluable: Neil Weir, of Old Blackberry Way studio back home in Minneapolis. After rehearsing a track to a state of modest completion, the band members submit it to Weir, who serves as their producer-cum-guru. Once the song gets a nod from him, it goes back into rehearsal to be fine-tuned and perfected until recording.

The result is an album of drowsy, crystalline clamor, with whispery studio tricks that feel otherworldly but are elevated by subtle pop elements—see the coda of "Mirror Bird," for instance, or the shimmery backing vocals on the title track's chorus. The ethereal production surrounding such accessible melodies makes for lush, addictive songs.

As one might expect from such a close (and closed-off) group, though, the members insist there is no conscious decision to appeal to a broader audience.

"We can't design anything in the interest of people liking it," Nienaber says. "We're not good enough. We can only do our thing." DesLauriers picks up the thought: "We want to hit on a truth and do justice to something that's way bigger than being popular or being part of a scene."

NEXT SHOW: March 17 at Star Theater.

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