2013 has seen a plethora of new music from new bands and new music from long-retired bands that many thought would never be heard from again (Daft Punk, Boards of Canada, My Bloody Valentine, Pixies). And while I've liked some of the new releases from the veterans, I've been energized by learning about these new bands and their music and the way they are keeping the indie rock spirit alive as some of my favorite bands continue to... um... age. So the following are the new bands that I've discovered this year, not all of which have released albums this year but they were at least new to me in 2013 and are worth a listen to anyone reading this blog who never heard of them before today. Some of them I never heard of until a week ago.
1. The So So Glos
I've seen this Brooklyn-based band three times already and it was their live show that prompted me to buy their second album Blowout and it's one of the best collections of music I've heard this year. The band members run a DIY space in Brooklyn called Shea Stadium, but I haven't seen them play there, so this isn't a review of that or DIY spaces in general in Brooklyn, but rather the energetic punk-lite sound of an artist that appears fresh and original and strikingly awesome but also somewhat familiar in its sounds and cool hooks. I hate to say it but the band they most remind me of is first-album Green Day, but with a more "beach" sound. Not all the tracks on their second album are great but I would highly recommend checking out "Son of an American", "Diss Town", "Lost Weekend", "All of the Time" and the song that was the soundtrack to the start of my summer "Island Ridin'". Just spectacular.
2. Joyce Manor
These punks are from LA and have a much harder sound than So So Glos but are even younger and have the same spirit and I saw them open for three Desaparacidos shows back in February and haven't gotten enough of them since. I actually like their self-titled debut more than the followup Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired but there's greatness on both albums and in just the unbridled energy of the band. Favorite tracks include "Orange Julius," "Beach Community", "Constant Headache", "See How Tame I Can Be", and one of the best songs I've heard this year (even though it's a couple years old), the scorching "Derailed".
3. The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die
Despite what can only be described as an adventure in my first view of their live performance, their debut album Whenever, If Ever remains in the running for Vague Space album of the year and the closing track "Getting Sodas" is still the favorite for Vague Space song of the year. Since seeing them live, I've downloaded pretty much the rest of their catalog (a series of EPs and singles) and damn if there isn't great stuff on that as well, particularly the more recent EP Formlessness, which includes burner "Victim Kin Seek Suit" and the final track that I don't have the energy to spell right now but you can download below. Check it out. And check them out. They are playing a show at the Bowery Ballroom on November 24 with Caspian and 65daysofstatic, two somewhat disparate post-rock bands and I think that's the place where the current The World Is belongs, not in the emo world where maybe they started (and seems more evident on their earlier bands). Anyway, I'm looking forward to a show without teenagers in attendance, and any readers in the city should definitely join me to see what are three really great bands in an amazing venue.
Someone said to me after class the other day "I like your shirt." I was like "Oh, you know them?" Yeah no, he didn't, he just liked the shirt. So despite me thinking that Chvrches -- who have yet to release their debut album -- have exploded into the world of music, it's more like they've exploded into indie rock mania, selling out shows across the east coast on the strength of singles "Recover" and "The Mother We Share." So they are Scottish and play a synthpop style that echoes back to the 80s and 90s I think and debut album The Bones of What You Believe is being released on September 23rd, which probably means it's been leaked already and I should go take a listen.... umm I need to stop writing now.
5. The Eastern Sea
This Austin-based band has been around for a while -- since 2005, according to Wikipedia -- but only got around to releasing their first full-length in June of last year. It wasn't on my radar then, though, and honestly they wouldn't be on my radar now if I hadn't moved to Hoboken at the start of the summer and one Wednesday or Thursday night had nothing to do so I hit up the indispensable bible of all shows in NYC -- mysocialist -- and saw that this band was playing at the Mercury Lounge. A couple quick downloads off their bandcamp page and one cool video for EP track "The Snow" and pretty soon I was headed onto the PATH to the F train at 14th street to the Lower East Side for a little Eastern Sea. And they were pretty great. I think. Honestly I've been to so many freaking shows this summer it's been a little hard to keep track. Did I mention I'm loving the move to Hoboken? Anyway, a bunch of songs on debut album Plague are strong but my favorite song of theirs is the languorous and beautiful "The Snow".
6. Wild Nothing
Wild Nothing hails from Blacksburg, VA, and much like The Eastern Sea, I discovered them in a plan to go see them play this summer (I forget where) but it turns out I couldn't make it to the show. I did manage to download 2nd album Nocturne, which came out in 2012 and has been a steady source of plays from me in the latter part of the summer. The band has gotten plenty of indie buzz in the last couple years and while I didn't initially love the stuff I heard, it really does grow on you and I would highly recommend checking them out.
Other bands I've discovered this year that are relatively or brand new to the indie rock music scene include the following MS MR, Majical Cloudz, Savages, Small Black, Palma Violets, and The Orwells. All in all, it really has been an amazing year for music in general (of the indie world kind) and in particular brand new bands carrying on the tradition of the excellence of, say, Superchunk, or Okkervil River, or Arcade Fire, or way back when with The Pixies. And oh yes, all those bands are putting out new albums this fall :)