Out the Ear Big Apple Music
Where we last left off, The Strokes became the poster boys for coolness and the revamped New York City of the early 2000s. But what of the other bands that came out at the same time as them?
Some made it and some didn't but that garage rock scene that emerged has evolved from psychedelic folk scenes to preppy pop.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs started like any band, Karen Orzolek, Brian Chase, and Nick Zinner had met at college and started and artsy folk band called Unitard, but then they went all rock and roll when they were inspired by Ohio's punk scene. As they made the rounds at clubs in Manhattan, legend has it that they became famous when The Strokes appeared on Saturday Night Live and guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. wore a Yeah Yeah Yeahs pin on his blazer immediately making them cool. Soon, they were supporting not only The Strokes but The White Stripes with their innovative stage shows and Karen O strutting her stuff at shows. When their debut "Fever to Tell" was released in 2004, the single "Maps" hit the mainstream and the album became a big seller and critically acclaimed. Since then, the band is known for Karen O and her wild costumes, her tricks with the microphone, and her stage charisma, touring all over the world. Their albums "Show Your Bones" and "It's Blitz" have great tunes but I am particular to the "Is Is" five song record which has great rocking out tunes like "Down Boy" and "10 X 10."
With influence from Joy Division , Interpol also hit the scene in NYC. Also meeting in college, the band formed in 1998 and toured the clubs the U.K. in 2001. Their debut "Turn on the Bright Lights" was released in 2002 with dark sounding songs like "PDA" and "Obstacle 1." The album became a hit and they became the fashionably dressed garage rockers. Interpol have been often called a "Goth" band because of their dress code of wearing black suits and saddened melodies of lost love but they seem more garage rock to me than Cure imitators. Since their debut, they released the remarkable "Antics" in 2004 with the catchy "Slow Hands" and their latest album "Our Love to Admire" in 2007 is another must hear album with such tunes as "The Heinrich Maneuver." They have also toured the world and become a respectable act in the indie rock world.
I doubt you remember Mooney Suzuki. These guys came on at the same time as the bands mentioned, toured with The Strokes/White Stripes, and even had Jack Black make a cameo in their music video and they in turn made a cameo appearance in Black's film "School of Rock." These guys worship ‘60s garage rock religiously and that's all they play, tributes to ‘60s garage music such as The Seeds or Count Five.
They were just as good as the bands that became famous from this scene but sadly they never became well-known or critically acclaimed. I saw these guys open for Albert Hammond Jr. and I almost got hit in the head with a guitar before I ducked but besides that, they are one of the craziest bands on stage, head banging with the audience, swinging guitars into the audience, getting an audience pumped up is their expertise. They have released four albums since they formed in 1996 but if you can find it at a rare record shop, I would recommend buying their 2002 party album "Electric Sweat." You can't really find this album anywhere, I stumbled upon it at Amoeba records for $5 and it is the ultimate dance record with songs like "In a Young Man's Mind" and the dance fave "It's ShowTime Pt. II." I would also recommend downloading "Alive and Amplified" from their 2004 album of the same name which also has a great garage rock sound.
Other bands that came out of that scene that deserve mention are The Walkmen who are so underrated, I would recommend you buy their album "Bows and Arrows" and ask yourself one of life's questions: why is this great band underrated? The Bravery, who are now made fun of were once actually cool. I remember when singer Sam Endicott looked like a leather jacketed Morrissey, and bassist Mike Hindert with his electric blue eyeliner played that awesome sexy synth song "An Honest Mistake" which is now virtually forgotten. It is sad that those guys are no longer the strangely interesting people we were introduced to, now they just try to make generic rock songs that are forgettable while looking like average looking guys with no eyeliner or Morrissey pompadours.
The whole New York scene changed when TV on the Radio hit the city. Their songs were different and even though they didn't really start a new wave of music like the garage rock revival, they did become one of many bands that started their own music genre that could not be and has not been copied or imitated as of yet. I cannot state why TV on the radio is unique. The answer is in their albums. I would suggest you consult and listen to them.
Vampire Weekend is another distinctive band. Forming at Columbia University, these guys make preppy, literary indie rock with influence from Afro Pop, Paul Simon, and Peter Gabriel. Their debut was critically acclaimed, and having seen their high-spirited live shows four times, I am a devoted fan of their debut album that perfectly captures the college life, from college crushes, oxford commas, and "cruel professors studying romances."
Andrew Van Wyngarden and Ben Goldwasser may have started MGMT in college in Connecticut, but they are a Brooklyn band now with their psychedelic electronic band influenced by The Flaming Lips and Of Montreal. Their songs like "Time to Pretend" and "Kids" made it cool to wear psychedelic bandanas and be hippie like last summer. Brooklyn is becoming a hub of indie rock bands like the psychedelic folk band Grizzly Bear, dance rockers like LCD Soundsystem and The Rapture and garage rockers like Morningwood and We Are Scientists.
New York will always be a trendsetter in music, so if you are ever in the big apple, check out Brooklyn, you never know if you might bump into an MGMT or a Scientist.
Check out outtheear.blogspot.com for more unmentioned NY bands and music videos.