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I've never been that person who's "into live music"—at least not just for the sake of live music. I have to really love the recorded stuff a band is putting out in order to get excited about seeing them live; even then, when I do see those beloved artists in concert, I get a weird kind of anxiety when they don't sing the songs exactly the way they did in the studio.
Living in New York, and specifically in Brooklyn, I'm acutely aware that there's so much live music happening, a lot of it being performed by bands I've never previously heard via MP3 or vinyl or whatever the kids are listening to music on these days. (Have hipsters brought back the phonograph yet?) And a lot of those bands are made up of seriously talented people who deserve an audience.
I'd be remiss if I didn't take the recommendations of my more live-music-enthusiastic friends and give some of their favorite local bands a shot. So in the last couple of years, I've made a concerted (ha—concerted) effort to attend more shows in Brooklyn, and inevitably, now I'm the one recommending the bands that impressed me most.
However, I realize only about five percent of you live in the greater New York metropolitan area and only a couple of these bands tour other parts of the country. Luckily, they all have tracks and albums available for download, so no matter where you live, you can listen to their recorded music. AS GOD INTENDED.
You already knew I would include at least one band full of cute, scruffy guys, so let's just get them out of the way first.
Formerly known as Stationary Set, Color Guard makes catchy, thoughtful pop that you can dance to or just chill out to. I've been playing the first single off their upcoming album, "In Your Bones," on repeat. It's one of those songs that you never skip when it pops up in shuffle mode.Freya Wilcox & The Howl
"The Howl" is probably meant to be the name of Freya's band, but it's also a perfect description of her voice. I swear, she's somehow Janis Joplin's and Melissa Etheridge's badass little baby.
The first song I ever heard come out of this Aussie mouth was actually a Fleetwood Mac cover—that's when I became fully hooked on her voice—but if you're into a bluesy-punk sound, the band's original songs will be right up your alley.
I admit, there's some major bias in this pick. Not only have I known Chris for three decades, I occasionally sing backup for him. But that doesn't mean he's not one of the most talented singer-songwriters in Brooklyn.
A music teacher by day, Chris dabbles in a number of genres, with songs that sound inspired by everyone from Steely Dan to Hank Williams. He even rearranges his own songs to give them new life. For example, the song performed like an Americana-style ballad in the video below? I've performed it with him in a completely different, jazzier style. And he has a revolving cast of characters supporting him; the band here is The Fiendish Thingies, but I've been appointed to The Executive Sweatpants.
I only just saw this synthpop band for the first time last week—they more or less inspired this article—and I was blown away. My boyfriend describes them as Simple Minds meets Oingo Boingo, and I can't argue with that. It's bouncy and bass-y, and a perfect combination of sensitivity and adrenaline.
They have an incredible stage presence and perform super-cleanly, so I was surprised to see that this terrifying uncanny valley fever dream is their latest video. Don't get me wrong—it's amusing as hell. It just undersells their awesomeness.
You can get a ton of other songs on iTunes, but if you get a chance to see them live, by all means, do it.
This band is just the cutest thing you ever did see... or hear, rather. Jam-packed with strings, they play acoustic Americana covers of '80s hits, from artists like Depeche Mode, Bowie, and in the video below, Danzig.
They've got gigs coming up in 2016, but in the meantime, treat yourself to their album on Bandcamp, because you can't not smile through their cover of "Take on Me."
Considering this video is entirely Meredith Graves apparently singing karaoke backwards, you might assume it's a Perfect Pussy video. Well, you might have assumed wrong! It's the video for Decorum's "Waxing/Waiting."
If I were Sable (yes, xoVain Sable, and yes, this is another case of biased-but-this-is-still-good) and her s.o./bandmate Leif, I would have put myself in the video because they're both really, really ridiculously good-looking. But this imagery also totally complements their two-bass Bauhaus-esque sound.
And while we're all hanging out talking about music like cool kids, how about you recommend some of your favorite local bands that non-locals can hear/download online?
[Photo of Freya Wilcox by Kaitlyn Laurel McGann]