Paste recently highlighted 15 young British bands to keep on your radar in 2018, but it’s worth noting that, as always, what the U.K. can do, New York City can do even better. For decades, the cross-continental rivalry has been integral to the development of rock music. There was The Velvet Underground and David Bowie; Ramones and The Sex Pistols; Sonic Youth and The Jesus and Mary Chain; The Strokes and The Libertines, and many more. So if there’s an exciting new wave of British bands pushing music forward, it’s safe to assume that there’s a hotpot of new talent emerging from the Big Apple, too. Despite the city’s recent and disheartening swell of shuttered venues, exciting new bands are still finding ways to thrive, even if they face more challenges (particularly financial ones) than ever. Today, the bands emerging from New York are a smart, diverse and eclectic bunch, staying afloat without the aid of million-dollar record deals.
Here are 15 New York City buzz bands you should know.
Bodega’s debut single “How Did This Happen” is packed with driving guitars and droll lyricism (“Your playlist knows you better than a closest lover”). After appearing at SXSW in March and supporting Franz Ferdinand in the U.S., they’re set to release their debut LP, Endless Scroll, via What’s Your Rupture. (The album was produced by Parquet Courts’ Austin Brown.) The quintet’s experimental, fluid sound includes a bit of everything from post-punk and pop to hip-hop and krautrock.
The Brooklyn quartet released their self-titled debut album in March via Greenway Records. A month earlier, they played a searing Paste Studio session, performing LP highlights like the headbang-worthy “2Ci” and the swirling “Mr. Major.” Their debut features transcendent guitar work and calm, cool vocals from lead vocalist Vaughn Hunt.
Brooklyn supergroup FITS features members of popular local bands Big Ups, Fern Mayo, and gobbinjr. They’ve carved their own niche in the scene, though, creating an identity out of perfect pop instincts and sheer punk aggression. Their 2017 debut, All Belief Is Paradise, offers a wide variety of complex, oftentimes conflicting emotions: anger, fear, desire, joy, and everything in between. Its 12 tracks are served in quick, easy-to-digest bites — not a single one exceeds three minutes, but each is enormous in power.
Uni haven’t just invented a surreal mix of glam rock and art pop, they’ve created an entire alternate UNIverse. Each band member has his or her own outlandish persona, and the band’s bio features a bizarrely detailed backstory (“Out of that psychotropic smoothie straw test tube crawled a hermaphrodite child who laughed in the face of modernity. Its name was Uni.”) They’ve released two singles (both backed by b-sides) on Sean Lennon’s label, Chimera Music, alongside a series of satirical, high-concept, NSFW music videos. Check out their performance of “What’s the Problem?” from the Paste Studio.
Nation of Language
Led by singer-songwriter Ian Devaney, Nation of Language evoke a nostalgic ‘80s new-wave sound mixed up with modern appeal. In January, the band released a darkly romantic new single, “On Division St.” They recently supported The Wombats in the U.S. and even managed to recruit The Strokes’ Fab Moretti for another single, the bouncing “Indignities.”
The Shacks find inspiration in styles as wide-ranging as ‘80s dream pop, ‘60s rock, and ‘90s Britpop, with some extra added dashes of psych, blues and soul. It’s an eclectic mix, with the constants being frontwoman Shannon Wise’s dreamy, airy vocals and Max Shrager’s Brooklyn-soul songwriting. The Shacks’ debut, Haze, was released March 30 via Big Crown Records. Watch them perform “This Strange Effect” at the Paste Studio.
As QTY, Alex Niemetz and Dan Lardner blend melodic garage and proto-punk riffs with poetic, stream-of-consciousness musings. After signing to U.K. label Dirty Hit (Wolf Alice, The 1975), QTY released a self-titled debut LP last year. They played a Paste Studio session back in 2016, which you can revisit below.
With their polished, enveloping psych rock, Russian Baths are busier than ever this year, releasing a debut EP Penance and gearing up to play Brooklyn’s Northside Festival in June. Paste’s Loren DiBlasi called their recent single “Poolhouse” “a refined ode to an existential crisis.”
Trace Mountains is the lo-fi project of Dave Benton, one quarter of LVL UP and co-founder of indie label Double Double Whammy. The band’s latest, A Partner to Lean On, features plenty of Benton’s observational and self-deprecating lyrics—his outlook is sometimes bleak, but often humorous. While there are plenty of anticipated, precise rock riffs, there’s also the occasional messy, unhinged guitar (“Forgiveness”) and experimental flourishes of captivating, oddball synths (“Cary’s Dreams”).
Blink and you might miss Palberta’s quick, furious tracks, many of which clock in at less than a minute and feature accents like slashing guitars, anxious rhythms and playful harmonies. The post-punk experimentalists are both haphazard and composed, making each of their releases a wild, unexpected ride. In 2017 they released a full-length, Bye Bye Berta, and a split, Chips For Dinner, with fellow New York punks No One and the Somebodies.
Paste recently premiered the newest track from Parlor Walls, a “no wave-influenced” trio that “digs deep into the dark, hidden crevices between rock and jazz.” Singer/guitarist Alyse Lamb and drummer/keyboardist Chris Mulligan, along with new member and multi-instrumentalist Jason Shelton, will soon release their EXO EP, the follow-up to last year’s acclaimed full-length Opposites.
The Brooklyn-via-Omaha indie-pop quartet are set to release their debut full-length album, Poach, later this year on Modern Sky USA. The 14-track LP was mixed and mastered by none other than guitar maven Delicate Steve, who was an early champion of the band. In 2016, Navy Gangs released a self-titled EP highlighted by the punchy guitars and beautiful vocal interplay of “Special Glands” and the hazy, relatable jangle pop of “Mondays.”
Native Sun’s debut EP, Songs Born from Love and Hate, showcases the band’s untamed energy and garage-rock bona fides. We included them in our best Paste Studio sessions of 2017 list. Matthew Oshinsky wrote, “This quartet from Brooklyn has been around for all of six months and positively gives no fucks—and that’s what you need in a young band: hunger, amplifiers, and something to scream about.” Watch them rip through “Blow” at the Studio.
The darkly beautiful dream pop of Hypoluxo’s latest EP, Taste Buds, offers a bittersweet juxtaposition between the low-pitched, speak-sing vocals of singer Samuel Cogen and the band’s bright, elegant instrumentation. Their lyrics are cynical but playful, hinting at subtle glimpses of light in the darkness. Hypoluxo also released a full-length LP in 2016 called If Language.
Indie pop band Barrie are based in Brooklyn but have ties across the globe from Baltimore, Boston, São Paulo, Berlin, London and upstate New York. They came together by way of mutual friends and mere happenstance, and even found their bassist via Tinder. Debut single “Canyons” features funky basslines and bongos, reverberating synths, groovy electronic drums, and glossy, blissful pop vocals.