Connecticut has a tightly knit group of musicians supporting each other. The small New England state even hosts their own music awards and the Gathering of the Vibes summer music festival. With a music history boasting the likes of Dave Brubeck, Moby, Diana Ross, and John Mayer, Connecticut offers an eclectic mix of musical styles. As a part of our 50 States Project, here are 10 up-and-coming bands from Connecticut you should know about.
1. Bronze Radio Return
Members: Chris Henderson, Patrick Fetkowitz, Matt Warner, Rob Griffith, Bob Tanen, Craig Struble
Current Album: Up, On & Over (2013)
Bronze Radio Return’s catchy indie-pop will make you want to spread the word on this six-piece from Hartford. They all met at Hartt School, one of United States’ top music conservatories. Since their debut album Old Time Speaker released in 2009, the band has recorded three full-length albums and toured across the country.
2. Echo & Drake
Members: Jon Ericson, Rich Devito, Ryan Holmes, Carl Puglisi
Current Album: Sundrenched Elsewhere (2011)
In the summer of 2005, a chance meeting between Rich Devito (guitars) and Jon Ericson (vocals, guitars, keys/synths) led to the creation of Echo & Drake. After five years of rotating other musicians, the duo added bassist Ryan Holmes and drummer Carl Puglisi. Ericson’s calming vocals wash over chiming guitars, and the result sounds big enough to fill an arena. Echo & Drake will be releasing two separate EPs this year: Empire is expected to release this summer, and Winecellar Ghosts slated for Oct. 1. (Photo by Andrew Wallach)
Members:Jake Huffman, Jason Ott, Justin Berger, Atticus Kelly
Current Album: Beautiful Lights (2014)
The McLovins have made themselves not only known in Connecticut but much further south thanks to a recent East Coast tour. Frontman Jake Huffman’s classic rock voice sits atop a bluesy groove provided by the rest of his bandmates. The quartet sings together in four-part harmonies that make their live performances feel particularly special. The McLovins have been together since 2008, recording three full-length albums together. The band plans to perform in South Carolina and Vermont later this spring. (Photo by Craig Miller)
Members: Josh Rheault, Sammy Dent, Jordan Flower
Current Album: The Ballet EP (2012)
Mercies was formed in 2009 when frontman Josh Rheault started swapping demos with drummer Sammy Dent. They later brought on Jordan Flower on guitar to round out the trio. In 2011 Mercies released a debut LP, Three Thousand Days and have since followed up with a pair of EPs. Their latest, Ballet may start with a pair of atmospheric title tracks, but there’s nothing delicate about where it goes from there. Mercies have played SXSW a couple of times and shared the stage with bands like Circa Survive. The band is currently working on their sophomore LP, which should be released by the end of the year.
Poor Old Shine
Members: Antonio Alcorn, Chris Freeman, Harrison Goodale, Erik Hischmann, Max Shakun
Current Album: Poor Old Shine (2013)
You might not expect Appalachian-tinged Americana coming from New England. But this five-piece group was formed when singer/banjo player Chris Freeman and banjo/mandolin player Antonio Alcorn met in a folk-music club at the University of Connecticut. The duo later added guitarist Max Shakun and Harrison Goodale on standup bass. Their folk and Americana sounds draw influence from both traditionalists like Pete Seeger and the punkier side of folk mastered by The Avett Brothers. Poor Old Shine self-released a pair of EPs, touring historic venues like the Kennedy Center for the Arts and Rockwood Music Hall before finally signing with Signature Sounds and releasing a self-titled LP last November. (Photo by Sarah Lefrancois)
Ports of Spain
Hometown: New Haven
Members: Sam Carlson, Ilya Gitelman
Current Album: oh, surrender (2012)
Ports of Spain is a small, experimental indie-rock band with a large potential for success. The duo has traveled up and down the East Coast since 2011 after releasing a debut EP at the end of 2010. Carlson and Gitelman create a full, eclectic sound by looping in drums and keys for their performances and have attracted other Connecticut bands to want to share the stage with them. Ports of Spain has a new album in the works. (Photo by Jessica Cord)
Members: Becky Kessler & Floyd Kellogg
Current Album: Violent Mae (2013)
When Becky Kessler wanted to create a debut solo album, she asked Floyd Kellogg to produce and record it. When the duo went into a studio together, the musical sparks flew, and they decided to keep working together as Violent Mae. Kessler’s mellow voice and guitar are highlighted well atop Kellogg’s drums and vocals, giving the album a muted rock’n’roll feel. Violent Mae released their debut self-titled LP in November 2013 and have so far performed from New York City down to Kessler’s hometown in North Carolina. (Photo by Karrie Bulger)
Wess Meets West
Hometown: New Haven
Members: Sam Stauff, Nick Robinson, Erick Alfisi, Andrew Porta
Current Album: When The Structures Fail Us (2014)
Wess Meets West make beautiful noise without the aid of vocals—just two guitars, a bass and drums—but there’s no reason to call this post-rock. Since forming in 2005, the band has released four longish EPs and collaborated with John Nolan of Taking Back Sunday. Wess Meets West released their new full-length When The Structures Fail Us today. (Photo by Stephen Handler)
100 Watt Suns
Members: Steve Broderick, Dan Watson, Bill Light, Don Culp, Marty Maroney
Current Album: Steve Broderick & The 100 Watt Suns EP (2013)
Back in 2011, Steve Broderick shelved the solo album he was working on and decided to form the 100 Watt Suns instead. Each of the members of the band have a long history in the music industry, creating soulful, Americana-tinged bar-rock with clever lyrics like, “I don’t blame you for trying…but you can’t hind your crazy for that long.” During 2012, the band focused on performing locally and around the New England region, and in 2013 they released their first record, a five-song EP. The 100 Watt Suns will be performing mainly in Connecticut and Rhode Island this spring and summer.
Members: Mike Forgette, Tim Moore, Gary Dionne, Adam Clymer, Angela Piccoli
Current Album: 1974 & The Death Of The Herald (2013)
Fans of bands like Pink Floyd, Rush and the sludgier side of The Decemberists will appreciate the ambitious prog rock that 1974 has been creating for seven years. As the name suggests, the band prides themselves on songs that sound like they came straight from the ‘70s. The five members, each with unique musical backgrounds, have unified around that common goal with plenty of impressive riffs. Since their formation, 1974 has released two LPs and two EPs.