When Locally Amped ventured down to Brooklyn two years ago, the driving force was the borough's flourishing indie rock scene. We found what we asked for.
If you're just tuning in, here's a short primer on the scene: as Brooklyn grew in popularity — and gentrified — in the mid-2000s, the music scene followed suit. Bands like TV on the Radio, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Dirty Projectors and more recently Parquet Courts, DIIV and The So So Glos broke out of this post-industrial breeding ground. DIY venue spaces (and the surrounding music scenes) helped develop this scene, including the 285 Kent warehouse (which became the space to see local and touring acts right as they jumped onto the national scene), Market Hotel, Shea Stadium, Death By Audio, Silent Barn and Monster Island Basement. (To give you a sense of how fleeting these mostly illegal spaces are, the first three mentioned above are now closed — and the news just broke that Death By Audio is on its way out.)
Bands, musical styles and growth comes out of spaces like these, and while Brooklyn's indie rock scene is in constant flux, it's worth noting that there still is a thriving local music scene. Yes, "local" is a fuzzy word when talking about the city of transplants. Regardless, these are bands that pour their sweat in the basements, practice spaces and dingy venues of the ever-gentrifying borough. (There's also an entire discussion about the good-and-bad of the "Brooklyn-ization" of indie rock. But, that's neither here nor there.)
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There's a lot of bands in Brooklyn. Some of them are better than others. Here are Locally Amped's best rising local Brooklyn bands of 2014.
We recently wrote about the four-piece punk rockers who have English punk rock heroes and the garage rock revival to thank (think the Buzzcocks, Dead Kennedys, The Hives and The Libertines). Lead singer Pat Phillips' infectious energy, tight, fiery guitars, and boisterous stage presence drive the band. Behind him, guitarist Tyson Moore, drummer Josh Wehle and bassist Paul Lizarraga create fierce post-punk noise. Songs like frantic adrenaline boosters "Ace" and "Borders" as well as the fuzzy, introspective "Jetlagged" have them well on their way to success. You just have to see their gut-punching spirit live to believe it. The indie rockers headline NYC's R Bar on Sept. 18.
For fans of: The Libertines, The Hives, The Dead Kennedys
This three-piece grunge revivalist group are often compared to Sonic Youth and Nirvana, but lead singer Leah Wellbaum's charismatic lyrics and on-stage ferocity make them a band of their own. Also in the same vein as fellow Brooklyn risers Sharkmuffin, Wellbaum sings on universal themes (alienation and awkwardness, for example), but she does in a way that brings harder punk lovers together with guitar rock (and indie rock) fiends. We fit into the latter category, but we love their 2014 release "Feels Your Pain" nonetheless. They gear up for a monthlong tour supporting fellow alt-punk rockers Cymbals Eat Guitars later this month before a homecoming show on Oct. 23 at Bowery Ballroom.
For fans of:Speedy Ortiz, The Breeders, Pavement
New York's best purveyor of dreamy rock 'n roll is Kanine Records, and they've found sonic gold in Beverly. We're not too surprised, though, as the Brooklyn-based group got their start with local indie rock starlet ex-Vivian Girls' Frankie Rose behind the mic. Rose collaborated with Drew Citron to produce sun drenched harmonies amongst simple, reverb-friendly riffs, but has since departed the band to give Citron full reign. Not to worry, though, as Drew now performs alongside Jamie Ingalls (of Chairlift, on drums), Scott Rosenthal (of Class Actress, on bass) and Caitlin Frame. Songs like "You Can't Get It Right" are the perfectly hypnotizing companion to a late summer's jaunt on the beach. Or just maybe the remembrance of one. They open for fellow surfy indie rockers The Drums on Sept. 16 at Music Hall of Williamsburg.
For fans of: Dum Dum Girls, Best Coast, Surfer Blood
Sometimes you just need some electropop in your life, and Greenpoint, Brooklyn-based duo Cultfever sure do the trick (although we did just find out that lead singer Tamara Jafar recently moved to Boston). About a year ago, we spoke with the two-piece on building a studio in their New York apartment and performing their high energy set live at rooms big and small. Since, they've done SXSW big, played higher profile NYC shows here and there, and are in the midst of recording a second album. If it's anything like the dance party full of lead singer Tamara Jafar's sultry voice, infectious beats, and radio-friendly synth gold, we're excited for more electro indie rock.
For fans of: MGMT, Two Door Cinema Club, Friendly Fires
It isn't all hot electric guitars and synths in Brooklyn these days, though, and another Brooklyn-based two piece, XNY, help us realize that. Guitarist/vocalist Pam Autuori lead the folk rock act's charge, and put together airy, heartfelt songs featuring spot-on vocals and tight drums. Comparisons to The Kills are rampant, and while the indie rockers walk the line between acoustic folk and art punk, Autuori's natural, uncompromising croon should be compared to the best. In addition to performing in New York's clubs, they've gotten the opportunity to play in some lesser known Brooklyn settings like the DIY studio OTB's live series (video above).
For fans of: Regina Spektor, PJ Harvey, Cat Power