9 NYC Bands You Need To Hear

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With this year’s Northside Festival fast approaching (June 6-12), we figured it was a good time to check in on the local music scene, to get more in tune with the community we’ll be celebrating come June. We’ll be rolling out lots of great music-related content this week, including an exhaustive look at Brooklyn’s music venues, a piece on Brooklyn recording studios, and much, much more. Check out the Northside music lineup, and consider picking up a badge or some single-show tickets.

New York City is vast. That’s one of the reasons why we bother living here, right? Because there’s so much going on at all times. In all respects, New York has always been a city that focuses on and emphasizes the arts, and Brooklyn in particular is a haven for musicians. Since 2006 we’ve chosen 8 NYC bands that were worthy of your attention. This is the tenth anniversary of that feature, and the first time it has run in Brooklyn Magazine instead of the recently-shuttered L Magazine (RIP). So, it’s kind of a special one! And the bands included are, too. In honor of the feature’s decade-long tenure–and sort of relaunch–we’ve even added another band. Here are nine New York bands that are worth listening to, reading about, and supporting. Some have been living in the city for years, laboring away on their craft; others are recent transplants who are still new to the scene. Whatever the case, each is about to reach a boiling point–whether that be through intensive noise-punk, skittering piano ballads or world-stopping dream pop.

Eddi Front

NFS-EDDI-FRONT-5021All of Eddi Front’s photos were taken at Godmode’s studio in Williamsburg.
Must Hear:Prayer

Marina is an album that’s been long in the making. Ivana Carrescia, the woman behind the curtain of Eddi Front, recorded the songs included here in 2014 accompanied by producer Dan Chen on piano. Carrescia plays guitar herself, as exemplified on “Pumps,” but it’s Chen’s piano–and the fractured, dirtied up production that accompanies it–that finally achieved the sound the singer was looking for. In 2016, she describes the singer on Marina as feeling like “another person.” But, what a person! Tracks like “Gigantic,” and “Texas” have been bobbing on the internet’s shore since summer of 2012, but they’re tied to the pier on Marina, joining other torn piano and tinkering staccato ballads like “Prayer” or “Elevator.” Every song here is laced with anguish; the steep desperation that sets in after finally deciding to give up, the bloom of hope that follows this conclusion like a billow of sweet smoke. The record was mixed by John Agnello, and Carrescia’s father, a professional violinist, shows up on a few songs (“Sing Sing,” “Goldie”). Despite these guests, there seems to be no other presence on Marina but Front, who commands attention within languor like “Video Games”-era Lana Del Rey, or the mesmerizing and broken Cat Powers of The Covers Record. It’s no surprise that Carrescia cites Chan Marshall as an early inspiration and icon, and perhaps it’s also unsurprising that she’s moved onto a new recording project: Gioia, a collaboration with Nick Sylvester of Godmode. Whatever form she eventually assumes, this is a voice worth following down any rabbit hole–and there’s few better than Sylvester at digging them.
What was your first show in NYC as Eddi Front? Where did you play and how’d it go?
That was in 2013 at the Slipper Room. That was one of my favorite shows. I’ve fixed it now, but I used to get super nervous before shows–throw up, the whole thing. So that was one of those shows. But I’d been playing for so many years before that, even if it was my first show here.
What’s the best thing about playing music in New York in 2016?
Aside from my show day insanity, it’s gotten a lot better. Just for stage fright for me personally, 2016 has been a lot better for me and I’m enjoying playing shows now. I’ve been playing with pedals and getting to focus on that is a whole new thing. Dan used to play piano and I would stand there and sing, and that was pretty nervewracking for me. So then I went back to guitar which I’d been playing forever, but opened my mind to all these new pedals and stuff. It’s a lot more fun for me, more focused. And it’s cool to hear the songs transition from guitar to piano back to guitar.
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The worst?
I don’t want to sound bitter, but back in 2006 and 2007, all those early years, it felt more like community. When you played a show everybody would stay and watch, and everybody kind of kept in touch. Now, it’s a little bit more like you play and you leave. It’s just turned upside down since I started.
What is the first concert you saw in New York from the audience?
That was Cat Power in like 2000. She had a transition phase where she used to have a lot of stage fright and have a lot of issues onstage. I think she’s fixed it now too, but that show, she played like two songs, then yelled at the sound guy and stormed off. It was at Webster Hall.
What is the biggest misconception people have about being a musician in Brooklyn?
I guess it’s just like assuming Brooklyn is cool. I’m not cool. I don’t think so, no!
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Who is your favorite Brooklyn band right now?
I’ve been following my friend Lost Boy ? for a long time. [Editor’s note: I am also a huge fan–check him out.] He’s actually one of my ex-boyfriends, but we’re still close friends. I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as he works. He’s prolific and so amazing.
If you were on tour for a month what three albums would you play in the van?
I really love Arthur Russell, Love Is Overtaking Me, Broadcast Tender Buttons, and Cat Power The Covers Record. That’s my favorite.
Ideal four-band bill: who are the other bands and where are you playing?
I really like all the Godmode people. So Yvette, and Fasano and Lost Boy?. We’d play at Berlin.
What’s your favorite song about New York?
“Perfect Day” by Lou Reed.
If you had to choose a band to include on this list who would you choose?
There’s this girl Caitlin Pasko who performs under the name Lacrymosa. I played a couple shows with her and I’ve known her for years, she’s very brilliant. It’s just her with the piano and she has this beautiful soprano voice.

Eartheater

NFS-EARTHEATER-5025 Must Hear:Homonyms

Eartheater is the solo project of Alexandra Drewchin, a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist who is equally concerned with the most delicate of noises and the most jarring. A fascination with both ends of the spectrum has lent Eartheater an all-consuming extremism instead of a mawkish penchant for the middling meeting of the two. There is absolutely nothing middling about the artistic output of Drewchin, who you might’ve previously heard singing in Greg Fox’s project Guardian Alien. Her voice is soft and silvery, and is most often accompanied by whispering, folkish instrumentation. And though it dwells mostly in the acoustic and finger-picked realms, Drewchin easily marries these more natural rhythms with staccato industrial noise, droning harmonies and occasional samples of film dialogue. Her two most recent albums Metalepsis and RIP Chrysalis both came out last year, both have a patchwork feel, as though they were stitched together from many wild, gossamer threads. This is psych-folk that investigates the surreal absurdity of technology and the dark twists of human sexuality with the same playful, compelling curiosity.
What was your first show in NYC as Eartheater? Where did you play and how’d it go?
As Eartheater? In this building (Editor’s note: We met in what is currently Trans Pecos), in the kitchen of old Silent Barn. That must’ve been like 2009, that was when I would play a Gibson SG through tons of distortion and I had this guy called Dennis play drums. His eyes would be crosseyed and his tongue would be out of his mouth sideways the whole time. It was way more punky and loud and sloppy. The show was with Teeth Mountain and Lexy Mountain, and Prince Rama. So it was a really cute bill. There were like kittens in the backyard. That was for sure the first Eartheater show, and then I think right after that we played Death By Audio.
What do you think the best thing about playing music in New York in 2016 is?
Well, it really depends on who you are and what your community is. But, I suppose, you can really find anything here. And you can find not just one small thing, you’re going to be able to find a group of people invested in a particular outlook. Not like, I don’t want to limit it to a style or a genre because that’s silly–even though you can still find that–I think you can find people who are willing to or down to vibe on whatever your thing is. And a bunch of them probably! It’s like an infinitesimally deep pool.
The worst thing about being a musician in New York in 2016?
Well, it’s not immediately coming to mind so that’s a good sign. I guess being asked to play and having to say no so often. Having to say no, I think that happens to everybody. For me personally, there’s so many people doing so many things, it’s heartbreaking to have to say no and to not be involved in it, because I literally cannot. It’s impossible. And I do get this feeling of missing out, what do people call it, fear of missing out?
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What was the first concert that you saw in New York from the audience?
Seeing Tony Conrad play at Paris London West Nile which was like a house venue, it was shut down right after that. It was one of the last shows. And then that venue was turned into 285 Kent Street, which is where I saw a lot of amazing music and got to play a lot of amazing music, including seeing DJ Rashad who is also gone and passed away. Including 285 Kent, which is also gone and passed away… and now it’s fucking VICE Studios. So.
On tour for a month what are the three albums you would play the most in the van?
Skepta’s new record Konnichiwa!! The new Erykah Badu mixtape and I would say 0PN’s Garden of Delete is one of my favorite records, especially for driving.
Okay four-band bill: Who are the other bands playing with you and where are you playing?
Sediment Club, Container, More Mother Goddess and me at some beach house filled with women in Far Rockaway or something. I’m frustrated with the local venue scene.
Favorite song about New York?
I don’t like any of them. I’ve got to write one.
Who is your favorite New York band right now?
Probably Show Me The Body. They’re so cute and I love them.
What do you think the biggest misconception about being a Brooklyn band is?
Oh boy. I don’t really know, I don’t know if this pertains to being a Brooklyn band, but some massive misconceptions that I’ve got is that it’s somehow easy? It’s like, it’s SO hard. You have to work so hard. Anyway, we all have to work so hard just to survive in this city. But also do your work and rehearse, and have space, and give yourself the time to actually create good work and play good shows. It’s so much work, and I think anybody that doesn’t live here just doesn’t understand that. Or they do, and they’re like that’s why I don’t live there.

Japanese Breakfast

NFS-APANESE-BREAKFAST-5188 Must Hear:Everybody Wants To Love You

Michelle Zauner previously played with Philly-based punkers Little Big Leauge, but she recently devoted herself to Japanese Breakfast and relocated to New York. Lucky us. Psychopomp is the first fully produced and mastered full-length from Zauner and co, and the album is a prime example of sky-high, molten dream pop that doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects. “Jane Cum” personifies the death of an orgasm with chilling intensity, teasing breakup pain and devastation out of the intimacy of a climax, while “In Heaven” plumbs deeper caverns of loss with more cheerful results. It’s when Zauner is singing about the loves that have worked out, or that she hopes will, that Japanese Breakfast really gets into a groove. Big, glittering whirlwind songs like “Everybody Wants To Love You” seem to encompass the love of all the world in a brief three minute snippet. This kind of enormity is the goal of any band, the precision with which they pull it off remains confined solely to Japanese Breakfast.
Your First show in NYC as Japanese Breakfast?
I played a solo Japanese Breakfast set for CMJ on October 14, 2015.
Where did you play?
It was at Elvis Guesthouse.
How’d it go?
It was very intimate and lovely.
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What’s the best thing about playing music in NYC in 2016?
You get to meet a lot of really stunning people– musicians, writers, directors, cinematographers… Obviously NY is a pretty expensive place to live, so if you want to pursue your art, you have to hustle more to make it work and really love it. That, or have rich parents.
The worst?
It’s very expensive to live here. That makes it really difficult to survive when you are making very little money as an artist. I actually moved here to focus on a different career, I was working 9-7 at an office and then would dash to go to band practice or finish mixing my album. At the time it felt like something totally normal to do in New York. I was definitely never sleeping.
Your first concert you saw here from the audience?
The first shows I really remember seeing were also ones we played. Most likely at Shea Stadium, with Lvl Up or Porches.
Your favorite venue to play?
Shea Stadium or Silent Barn!
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What’s the biggest misconception about being a band in Brooklyn?
That they’re fashionable? I feel like most people I know that play music here are pretty unfashionable. We’re too busy spending all our money on rent. Lol.
Who is your favorite NYC or Brooklyn band right now?
EMILY REO! I think is just phenomenal. She played our record release show at Shea and it was just jaw-dropping.
On tour for a month, what three albums would you guys play the most in the van?
Carly Rae Jepsen, Emotion; Fleetwood Mac, Tango in the Night; Flaming Lips, Soft Bulletin.
Ideal four band bill: who is playing with you and where?
Emily Reo, Painted Zeroes and a Fleetwood Mac set where they only play Christine McVie & Stevie songs at Shea Stadium 🙂
What’s something that doesn’t exist here now that would help the local music scene the most?
Government funding for the arts.
Favorite song about NYC?
Porches, “Skinny Trees.”
If you had to choose a band to include on this list who would you choose?
Painted Zeroes!

Vagabon

NFS-_-VAGABON-3955 Must Hear:Sharks

Laetitia Tamko released Vagabon’s hushed, tingling Persian Garden EP via Miscreant Records in 2014. Her music has the heart of a singer/songwriter, but the soul of a raging post-rocker churning just below the surface, eager to follow up vulnerable admissions with surging static. Vagabon has been through several iterations, but Tamko remains the driving songwriter force behind the project, regardless of who else falls into rotation. Since Persian Garden, she has been steadily working on a debut album–which she is producing herself–and recording in bits and pieces with Chris Daly at a studio up in the upstate musical haven of New Paltz, a community that has spawned quite a number of successful projects. Vagabon are characterized by a distinct fusion of fuzzed out, aggressive noise and intimate, bare bones lyrics carried by Tamko’s yearning voice. Instead of clashing, these elements play off each other, creating a lovely tension that carries the band out of familiar reach and into some unexplored territory. Hopefully, the forthcoming full-length will push even farther into these tangles.
When was your first New York Show as Vagabon?
In January 2014 at this place in Chelsea that is a tile shop by day but they rent out the back room for music. It was like an acoustic show.
How’d it go?
It went well. I had no expectations, so unless I got up there and couldn’t get anything out of my mouth I was really excited.
What do you think the best thing about playing music in NYC in 2016 is?
I think the best thing is how much reach you can have, how many people you can talk to, how many people you can share what you’re doing with.
The worst?
The worst is that it’s easy to get exhausted, or unmotivated, because there’s so much going on all the time. I find it hard to like, you know, keep telling yourself that you’re working toward something.
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What was the first concert you saw here from the audience?
The first concert I went to in New York–and also in life–was in the summer of 2013 at Santos Party House I went to go see The Weeks and Junior Astronomers. Junior Astronomers are post-rock, The Weeks are definitely rock but they have like a southern thing to it.
What is your favorite venue to play in New York?
Silent Barn.
What’s the biggest misconception about being a band in Brooklyn?
There’s a stigma about being called a “Brooklyn Band.” People seem to think this is where everyone goes to be a band and that all the bands are shitty, just because there’s a lot of bands. So I think the biggest misconception would be that the term “Brooklyn Band” signifies anything.
If you were on tour for a month what were the three albums you’d play the most?
Joanna Newsom, Divers; Frankie Cosmos, Next Thing; Rihanna, Anti. [Editor’s note: This is a near-perfect selection.]
Who is your favorite New York City or Brooklyn band?
Japanese Breakfast
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Ideal four-band bill: Who is playing with you and where?
Florist, Crying, Mitski, and we’d play at Baby’s All Right.
What’s something that doesn’t exist here now that would help the local music scene the most?
Less nepotism. Allowing spaces to be available for a lot of people, and a lot of different people, not just your friends.
What’s your favorite song about New York?
“Leaving The City” by Joanna Newsom.
Who would you pick to put on this list?
Gobbin Jr.

Bambara

NFS-BAMBARA-4977 Must Hear:An Ill Son

This noise-punk trio originated in Atlanta, Georgia many, many years ago when twin brothers Blaze and Reid Beteh met William Brookshire in third grade. They’ve grown in stature and sound since those early years, and moved to New York in 2011 to begin laying a foundation for Bambara’s gritty, insistent onslaught of deafening punk. Swarm, which came out at the beginning of this month, is their second full-length album. It builds on the home-recorded foundations laid on 2013’s Dreamviolence, as producer Ben Greenberg helped the band hone their brutal noir rage into a fine point. In turn, the album sweeps and slices across twelve tracks, creating a garish, if alluring landscape of sound that’s all its own. This landscape is a revelation of the library of sounds that the three concoct over months before stitching the pieces back together in song form. Most of the tracks clock in well under three minutes, their brevity belying some of the punishing, unrelenting noise contained within those bounds. But, even noise must be furnished by those who know their way around a rough edge–and these three do. Expect more refined, pulsing darkness to emerge from their Bushwick basement at any given moment.
Your first show in New York as Bambara?
Reid: It was Death By Audio. 2010 or 2011. It was just us.
William: It went well, we didn’t get signed by a big record executive or anything, but I think it was cool. I definitely felt like we were playing the right place.
What’s the best thing about playing music in New York in 2016?
Reid: I just like how many venues there are around here right now, this area has become a community.
Blaze: And there’s a lot of good bands popping up right now too
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Worst thing?
William: The obvious answer is that rent is going up.
Blaze: Being a band in New York… just in general.
Reid: It’s just so easy to get lost, you have to play a lot of shows for people to even remember that you exist. There’s a lot of pressure to keep on putting stuff out there, playing good shows in good spots, good bills. It’s just the grind. Then the whole time you’re working your ass off to pay rent.
Blaze: You have to play a bunch of shows to remind yourself that you exist.
What was the first concert you saw here from the audience?
William: For me that was also DBA, I saw Ed Schrader’s Music Beat open up for Future Islands back in 2010 or early 2011 maybe. I was up here visiting a girlfriend and saw that show at DBA.
What is your favorite venue to play?
William: For me it is here, at Palisades.
Blaze: We always have a good time here.
Reid: I’d say also Palisades.
What is your favorite New York or Brooklyn band right now?
William: Uniform
If you’re on tour for a month, what three albums would you guys play the most in the van?
Reid: We only have a CD player in the car, we don’t have any way to hook up an iPod, no aux cable, and we don’t even have a tape deck.
Blaze: So we are condemned to dollar bins etc. What we listen to in the car is completely dependent on that.
William: We go to Goodwill.
Blaze: The biggest hits from the dollar bins are Garbage 2.0, Jewel Pieces Of You, Chris Isaak was a great one, Laurie Anderson
William: And the Twin Peaks girl, Julee Cruise. We found Into The Night in a two dollar bin and were like fuck yeah.
Reid: As far as taste though, I think we listen to Laurie Anderson the most. Bright Red is amazing. Big Science obviously, but also the newest one, Homeland.
Blaze: So Julee Cruise Into The Night, anything Laurie Anderson and Your Funeral My Trial by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
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Ideal four-band bill: who plays with you and where do you play?
Kate Bush, ONO, Bohren & Der Club Of Gore. Hosted by zombie Roland S. Howard with lighting by Dario Argento at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.
What’s something that doesn’t exist here now that would help the local music scene the most?
William: Easily attained grants or really generous patrons.
Favorite song about New York?
William: The Theme from Taxi Driver by Bernard Herrmann.
Blaze: “Across 110th Street” by Bobby Womack.
Reid: “Ninth and Hennepin” by Tom Waits. Even though the intersection isn’t in New York, he got most of his imagery for the song from this city and it comes across. It definitely shaped the way I thought of New York before I ever saw it.
If you had to choose a band to include on this list who would you choose?
SoftSpot.

Ohal

NFS-OHAL-4954 Must Hear:All Mine

Ohal is an Israeli-born composer and multi-instrumentalist who has been living in New York for over a decade, but this year marks the release of her debut solo album Acid Park. Trained as a classical pianist since she was four years old, she moved from Ashkelon, Israel to Paris as a teenager with just a Casio keyboard to her name, then quickly migrated to the American midwest for the usual teenage reasons, before ending up back on the east coast exploring New York just days before 9/11 hit. Watching Williamsburg and the surrounding city around her transform in the wake of this tragedy, and several rounds of gentrification, Ohal began to build a life within the musical community of Brooklyn. She toured and played synthesizers with a number of bands before settling into her own sound and solo aesthetic. Though the delay in releasing her own album certainly wasn’t due to lack of experimentation–Ohal sleeps with a pile of synthesizers and other equipment heaped next to her bed in a Greenpoint studio apartment. Acid Park was created almost entirely with those instruments, and it’s a collection of looped, alluring melodies that veer toward industrial noise before drawing back into synthesizer-induced intimacy. She simultaneously worked on the soundtrack for a German-Korean film called Cancelled Faces, and sees the two projects as very different halves of the same core idea. Whichever side you end up on, Ohal is a force to reckoned with, and will certainly be cropping up in more unexpected places before the year is over.
What was the first NYC show you played as Ohal?
With the solo project it was at The Gutter, and I think it was a year ago. It was really exhilarating. Because I thought that playing live was not something that would enhance–or at least that was my impression then– but I thought for me it would be very hard for me to capture the nuances of sound that I was obsessing over and crafting when I made the song, into a live setting. But I found something that I didn’t expect at all, delivering the sounds and songs again in a live setting was exciting to me. Completely revealed a different aspect of each track that I played as well. So I went in very, not even nervous, just indifferent because I wasn’t sure what I was doing. But once I started it felt so charged.
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What’s the best thing about playing music in New York in 2016?
For me I think it’s my peers and the community that I have here. Which is totally different from the community that I established back in 2001 when I first moved here.
The worst?
Space. It’s really hard, I work with headphones all the time and I hate it. But this neighbor moved in a while ago. That’s why I was playing it so low, she’ll start banging on the walls.
What’s your favorite venue to play?
I really love the PS1 Print Shop. I played a few shows there when all the old witches, this art collective, was in residence over there.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about being a Brooklyn musician?
That it is different in some fundamental and recurring way from being a musician anywhere else.
Who is your favorite New York band right now?
Wetware. It’s my friends Roxy and Matthew, they’re fantastic. It’s Matthew playing a set of modular synths and Roxy is wailing over it. It’s really wonderful, it’s very captivating, and I’ve been to I think almost ten of their shows.
If you were on tour for a month, what three albums would you guys play the most in the van?
Fayruz, this Lebanese singer that I love. Herbie Hancock Future Shock, and Alessandra Sondrini, who has been writing soundtracks for decades. I really love his albums because, I don’t know, you can take them at their ambient value or re-engage with each track. I think it’s called Music For Strange Situations.
Your ideal four-band bill: You play and who are the three other bands and where?
Wetware, Matana Roberts, and SSBS. And we’ll play at The Schoolhouse<a href=”. It’s a venue on Ellery Street and it’s a really nice space. They do some art shows over there, it’s just like, I like smaller spaces and there is no stage. It’s nice and it’s very spacious too.
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What was the first concert you saw here from the audience?
The first one was in 2001 just a couple weeks after I moved here. It used to be called Lux, I think it’s called Trash Bar now? But it was Thurston Moore live scoring someone’s dance performance with his guitar. I think it was good. The thing that I remember most, this person that worked there gave me this quarter inch cable that I still have, it just cracks me up. I think I was saying that I was missing one, and they just handed me one to keep.
What’s something that doesn’t exist here now that would help the local music scene the most?
Funding from the government.
What is your favorite song about New York?
Any Velvet Underground song.

Young M.A.

NFS-YOUNG-M.A.-4363 Must Hear:HennyNHoes

This East New York-born rapper has lived all over Brooklyn during her first two decades on earth, and is therefore loathe to call even one neighborhood one. Instead, she claims the whole borough as her turf–and with good reason, there are few rappers in the city connecting or creating the kind of impact Young M.A. has since her 2014 “Brooklyn Chiraq Freestyle” dropped. The song sparked a controversy last year when social commentator Dr. Boyce Watkins posted it on his Facebook page, and concern-trolled the lyrics for violence–something that seemed to concern him even further because she is a woman. But Young M.A. turned the attention into something positive and used to spur on her own work even further. She’s rapping about her community and her experience, and whether it be freestyles over established mainstream beats like “10 Bandz” or originals like “Hood Love,” her talent is undeniable. Her openly gay raps sometimes evoke the same misogyny as the rest of the hip hop world, but at other times, they skewer expectations in unpredictable, powerful ways that border on misandry. Late last year Young M.A. dropped her latest project SleepWalkin, and a full-length album entitled Herstory will be out later this year.
First Show In New York as Young M.A.?
My first headline show was at the Studio at Webster Hall November 14, 2015. It was incredible. It was actually sold out, it was jam packed in that place. I didn’t believe it, I was actually nervous to even look outside and see how many people were there. I knew people said they were coming, but you know people say things. It was actually more than I expected, honestly.
What do you think the best thing about being a musician in New York right now in 2016 is?
Pretty much everything, because New York City is such a hard place to grab people’s attention. Because in New York City everybody’s going so hard, they don’t care. If New York people don’t like you they’re going to say they don’t like you. So to get recognition out here and be known out here and get so much love out here, that’s a blessing in itself. If you can get love here you can get it almost anywhere.
Worst?
Pretty much the same thing, because of the honesty of people, people will literally boo you off stage if they don’t like you. In New York City there’s so many people who do music, so that’s kind of a challenge too, to stand out.
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What was the first concert you saw in New York from the audience?
I’m not going to say my first, because I don’t remember, but I am going to say my favorite, my favorite was seeing my damn near idol 50 Cent at B.B. Kings. I was actually performing there too, twice. This was a few months ago, I believe February. I didn’t go to concerts when I was young. Me in a position I’m in now is the first time I got to go somewhere and see somebody perform. Before I never did, I don’t know if it’s because I couldn’t afford it or what. Well, I did go to one in Brooklyn in Flatbush at Wingate. A long time ago they had John Legend and a few others, Keyshia Cole was there. So around that time, that was my first concert I actually got to see, because it was free, so everybody from the neighborhood would go.
Who is your favorite rapper in New York right now?
Young M.A. (laughs). In New York City? I don’t really know anybody. As far as what I’m into, as far as what I really like when it comes to lyrics I’m just going to have to say Jay Z for now. I like the old Jay Z, I still listen to Reasonable Doubt and old types of music. I’m more of a fan of that, I listen to all the new stuff, like the new guys from Brooklyn. But I’m more of a hip-hop person.
If you were on tour for a month what three albums would you play the most in the van?
Sleepwalkin. Oh besides myself? I would play Reasonable Doubt, by Jay Z; Get Rich or Die Tryin by 50 Cent, and I would play Bryson Tiller T R A P S O U L. I love Bryson Tiller, I wish he was from here, I would’ve said he’s my new favorite artist.
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Ideal four-band bill
Bryson Tiller, Drake, and Eve. I miss Eve, as far as female rappers go she was one of my favorites, and so if I could bring her back with in my time, absolutely. We’d perform at Madison Square Garden.
What’s something that doesn’t exist in the music scene here now that would help the local music scene the most?
What’s that word I’m looking for? Collaborations. People coming together. There’s a lot of people who want to be on top individually, and New York always tend to knock people out of their box because they want to be the one to be seen. But a lot of collaborations need to start happening between New York artists as a whole, so we can put that stamp back on East Coast artists. And then, you know, we’ve got to start being original again. I feel like we have been copying other people’s types of music, we need to be the originators again.
What is your favorite song about New York?
I like the Jay Z and Alicia Keys song “Empire State of Mind.” When that song came out, that actually gave me chills, the way Alicia Keys sang it. That’s one of my favorite New York anthems.
If you had to choose a band to include on this list, who would you choose?
I liked GS9, I liked them because they were actually bringing New York back. They actually were buzzing until that situation happened, they had the foot in the door for New York City coming back and having that hardcore New York sound again.

Patio

NFS-PATIO-5141 Must Hear:Luxury

Lindsey-Paige McCloy, Loren DiBlasi, and Alice Suh are Patio, a Brooklyn-based trio who deftly weave indie pop energy and post-punk inklings into a rattling, joyful combination. Their Luxury EP is the first offering from the band–who recently played a release show with another list member, WALL–and displays their ability to shift from dexterous and melodic pop-leaning songs toward the more jittery, existential spoken word of the EP’s title track. “I shift between anger and apathy / luxury and violent tendencies,” DiBlasi chants, before launching into the warm, despairing chorus line: “I’m bored and I’m broke and I’m stuck.” It’s an incisive and deeply honest introspection specific enough to invoke your own ennui, but still wide enough to apply to the vast majority of disillusioned and disaffected twentysomethings who are laboring in vain in cities and suburbs worldwide to make their lives feel meaningful. The trick of Patio’s music is that even when they’re lamenting lack of meaning, their songs are contributing just that to your world.
Your First show in NYC as Patio? Where was it and how’d it go?
October 4, 2015. The great Jeanette Wall from Miscreant Records booked a show for us. It was at Palisades, our favorite venue. It went better than expected! It was fun. Tons of our friends came. Mitski came backstage and gave us all hugs. It felt like a dream.
What’s the best thing about playing music in NYC in 2016?
Being a part of an incredible community of friends and musicians we admire. In our short time as a band we’ve played with so many heroes. It’s crazy.
The worst?
When you fuck up onstage. Typically the audience doesn’t even notice. But it bothers you.
Your first concert you saw here from the audience?
Loren: Franz Ferdinand, TV on the Radio, and Cut Copy at The Theater at Madison Square Garden when I was 16. My first concert ever.
Lindsey-Paige: I was still 17 when I moved to the area, so I got a horrifically bad fake (that only even said I was 18, no less) on St. Marks so I could get into the Kings of Leon 3rd album release show at Webster Hall … let’s just say the fake didn’t work, to the surprise of no one, but I still managed to get into the show, which is a story that’ll have to wait for another time.
Alice: Vic Chesnutt (RIP) at Bowery Ballroom. I remember Jeff Mangum was also there in the audience which was exciting for me as a teenager.
Your favorite venue to play?
Palisades. They’ve supported us from the very beginning. It’s our home.
What’s the biggest misconception about being a band in Brooklyn?
Loren: People must think all the bands are very cool. I know I did when I was younger. Mostly I watch a lot of Gilmore Girls and Buffy The Vampire Slayer on Netflix.
Lindsey-Paige: Yeah, I’d agree with Loren. I spend too much time working in an office to be “cool.” I’d also maybe say that many people seem to think that all bands, at least in Brooklyn, know each other — the number of times that I’ve mentioned that I play music and gotten “oh so you must know this other band then” is really high. I know approximately 10 people at best.
Alice: That you have some sort of qualifications to be on stage, like knowing how to play your instruments.
Who is your favorite NYC/BK band right now?
Loren: Washer
Lindsey-Paige: I wanna claim Palm but they belong to Philadelphia… probably Porches.
Alice: Pear Moth fka zetetics
On tour for a month, what three albums would you guys play the most in the van?
We would probably fight about it. But a good compromise would be: Joy Division, Closer; Wire, Pink Flag; Life Without Buildings, Any Other City
Ideal four band bill: Who is playing with you and where?
Childbirth, a reunited Krill, Washer, and Spit on a solid gold patio outside of Palisades.
What’s something that doesn’t exist here now that would help the local music scene the most?
Death by Audio could come back. That would be good. Also rents for homes and spaces could be more affordable/stable.
Favorite song about NYC?
Loren: The Velvet Underground – “I’m Waiting For The Man”
Lindsey-Paige: “Back in the New York Groove” (Ace Frehley version.)
Alice: Depends how fast I’m walking…”Helmet On” by East River Pipe or “NY State of Mind”, Nas
If you had to choose a band to include on this list who would you choose?
Spit! Our best buds.

WALL

NFS-WALL-5197 Must Hear:Milk

Look, normally I don’t fuck with bands who insist that you spell their name in all caps, but for a band like WALL, the emphasis feels necessary. Crucial, even. This no wave/post-punk four-piece have been together for about two years, but they released their first EP this January, and have been steadily gaining momentum ever since. WALL is drummer Vanessa Gomez, guitar and vocalist Vince McClelland (of The Keepsies), bassist and vocalist Elizabeth Skadden, and guitar and vocalist Sam York, and though they keep a low profile, the band members all hail originally from Texas. Even a cursory listen of their self-titled debut EP WALL reveals why they located from the Lone Star state to the more insolent clime of Brooklyn. Gomez is apparently very new to drumming, but it’s her spare, insistent backbeats that anchor the band’s roiling and often unwieldy melodies–if you could even call them that. They’ve already evoked comparisons to Mission of Burma, Wire, and Pylon (York and Vanessa Briscoe are spiritual kin, even if their voices differ greatly), but it’s the surreal and absurdist lyrical depictions that cement WALL firmly in 2016. They may be building off the backbone of post-punk’s aggression and no wave’s atonality, but they’re inserting their own vertebrae into this musical spine, erecting a ragged, sneering barrier of a sound brick by brick.
What was your First show in NYC as WALL? Where did you play and how’d it go?
York: We played Silent Barn in June of 2015 with a bunch of friends’ bands. It was the first super hot day of summer, everyone was reveling in the heat, the room was packed, we couldn’t have asked for a better first show.
Skadden: I was so nervous I thought I would vomit during the whole first half of the show.
McClelland: I was pretty uptight. That’s just my nature, but getting through your first show as a band is like being in a car with a drunk driver. There’s a feeling of inevitability that it could all go absolutely wrong and you careen into oncoming traffic and cars and bodies fly everywhere or that you at the very least end up getting nauseous on the way home. First shows, despite how supportive people can be, are never any good. Let’s not play, here. It takes a couple of years to get a band tight and working as a unit.
Gomez: WALL is my first band, so this was my very first time to perform live. It was such a special first show. The room was packed with so many of our loving and supportive friends. Everyone was excited to see our debut and people say it was a great first show. I remember feeling so empowered after conquering a big fear of mine–stage fright.
What’s the best thing about playing music in NYC in 2016?
York: Our community. I know artist communities exist everywhere but I feel we are particularly blessed with our New York music community. We have such an amazing group of talented artists that span many mediums and are always encouraging, supportive and ultimately extremely inspiring to be around.
Skadden: Playing music in NYC leads to more chance that someone will see what you are doing on a national/international scale. There is a drive here that makes bands gets serious in a way that I really like.
Gomez: There is just so much opportunity in a city like New York. So much is available to you. If you know how to use those resources to your advantage, your possibilities are really endless. That sounds so fucking cliche, but it’s true. We’re all originally from Texas. But I don’t think we’d be the band we are or be in the position we’re in if we were doing any of this back home. This city has given us so much and has really shaped our sound and vision.
The worst?
McClelland: Apathy and or having to split a bill with some shitty rave.
Skadden: Having to pay for a practice space and share it with dive other bands. So much more chill to just practice in someone’s living room. Also when bands tour to New York, most people don’t have a big enough apartment to accommodate them, so hard to return crashing favors after you’ve stayed with other people.
NFS-WALL-5225
The first concert you saw here from the audience?
York: My first NYC show was a DBA (Death by Audio) a friend of mine invited me shortly after I had moved here, I saw PC Worship and a bunch of bands I don’t remember the names of now but remember have the distinct feel of. DBA holds a special place in many many people’s hearts and absolutely in mine–it was the first place I felt I found what I had moved to New York to find: a group of weirdos making exactly what they wanted.
Skadden: When I still lived in Texas I used to tour to NYC with my old band Finally Punk. I can’t remember what show was my first but there were definitely some memorable ones. We were playing with Mika Miko at Death By Audio during CMJ and a guy threw up on the stage causing Michelle the guitarist to bolt from the stage immediately to keep herself from sympathy puking. Afterwards he fully hit on all of us. I also saw No Age play with Black Dice at Studio B. It was the worst they ever played and there were all these A&R guys in the audience. The band got signed from that show cause the label liked how they handled the disaster, which has always stuck with me.
McClelland: First show I saw, I was actually playing in it with Austin Brown in the Keepsies. Second show was Parquet Courts at Brooklyn Bowl. There were five people in the audience and some Bank of America corporate party. Andrew Savage was antagonizing them and tried to get some of their Subway sandwich spread. The lead guy at the party was talking noise saying he knew what they were all about and said he used to listen to The Fall. Andrew later got his number and said they should smoke weed and listen to records together.
G: I saw Lightning Bolt play at a warehouse somewhere in Brooklyn in 2007 or 2008. It was a Todd P show. It was an amazing show until I felt the floor starting to give. The show got shut down by the fire department and we were forced to evacuate. But as I was walking away… I heard the show resume! I guess they decided to finish the set once enough people left? I don’t know that the story was, but I was pretty bummed.
Wall photographed in New York City on April 24, 2016
Your favorite venue to play?
Y: Love playing Alphaville for the nugz, but it’s hard to deny the excellent sound when playing Rough Trade!
Gomez: I’d let Alphaville pay us in nugz if they’d rather… they’re that good. But shh, don’t tell them.
McClelland: We’ve only been to Baby’s Alright once, but they’ve got great sound there. My favorite show we’ve played was at Aviv; however, they have an enthusiastic crowd there and the sound guy let us turn up as loud as we wanted. It was great.
Skadden: We just had our best show at Aviv, amazing sound guy in Gryphon. My favorite place we have ever played was a front porch in Austin, TX during SXSW.
Gomez: I really loved playing Elvis Guesthouse last summer. To me, it’s the closest we’ve ever been to playing a house show. It had that weird kind of vibe and I love playing on the floor, as opposed to a stage. They don’t do shows there any more, so I’m glad we had that one chance! We opened for PILL. Such a good night. Trippy place.
Who is your favorite New York or Brooklyn band right now?
York: Looove PILL and B Boys.
Skadden: Palberta, New Myths, Neon Indian, Future Punks.
McClelland: Alice Cohen blew my mind the other night. There’s one thing about having good taste, but when you execute it well like her group does, you then have my attention.
Gomez: I just discovered Navy Gangs last week. I fucking loved them. My heart broke when Advaeta broke up. But I’m so super pumped to see the new band that some of those members have just started… their called Weeping Icon. I’m just going to assume that I’m going to love it.
Wall photographed in New York City on April 24, 2016
Ideal four-band bill: Who is playing with you and where?
Skadden: I’m going to go fantastical and say Butthole Surfers, Birthday Party, and us at Candlestick Park in SF. I prefer a three band lineup but if Tom Petty wanted to jump on, he would be welcome too.
McClelland: Elvis Presley in his comeback phase, Aladdin Sane era Bowie, The Beatles right around the Cavern era, and Einsturzende Neubauten.
Gomez: WALL, The Raincoats, Selena, opening for Joy Division at like a weird banquet hall in Manhattan that usually gets rented out for graduation parties or bar mitzvahs.
What’s something that doesn’t exist here now that would help the local music scene the most?
McClelland: I wish there was a public access program like Chica-go-go or Midnight Special, where bands could play and artists can talk about what’s going on in their hood! Every once in awhile, something like that springs up, but they typically don’t last very long.
Gomez: Goddamnit. I wish Vince had a show on public access television. I also wish house shows were more of a thing here.
Favorite song about NYC?
Skadden:Midsummer NY” by Pink Section.
Looking the song up, I just discovered that it was actually written by Yoko Ono, the Pink Section version is still my favorite.
Gomez: the song that I’m currently writing lyrics for in WALL called “Slave Dogs.” It’s in the works. It’s silly. Get ready.
If you had to choose a band to include on this list who would you choose?
McClelland: Shout out to Rips, Decorum, and Hidden Cities, my boy Johnny’s band.

All photos by Nicole Fara Silver.

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