The closing of Oliver Ackermann’s beloved Death By Audio music venue (named after his guitar pedal company) has caused many to ponder the New York DIY movement’s survival status. Death By Audio’s demise follows those of other cherished local venues, including Glasslands and 285 Kent. Although the NY musical underground has lost some key performance spaces, many bands are still managing to produce graceful, soulful sounds.
In honor of Mr. Ackermann’s upcoming album Transfixiation with his band A Place To Bury Strangers, we put together a collection of recommended underground NY bands who are lively and full of great promise. If you can’t resist the towering, dour psychgaze of APTBS, take a listen to these gritty, face-melting acts.
Eidetic Seeing – Although I had no preceding knowledge of Eidetic Seeing, I decided to purchase their Drink The Sun cassette on a whim during a recent excursion to Brooklyn’s Earwax Records. The album has awesome song titles like “It’s Brick Out” and “Deep Falafel Prophet,” and I was instantly captured by Eidetic Seeing’s deep, Black Sabbath-inspired sludge and raw spirit. The explosive riffs emitted by guitarist Sean Forlenza are superb, fitting impeccably with Danilo Randjic-Coleman’s elaborate bass passages and Paul Feitzinger’s otherworldly drumming.
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Big Ups – Big Ups’ relentless punk fury is catchy and epic, but vocalist Joe Galarraga’s explicit self-reflectiveness really increases the band’s irresistibility. “I need to treasure every minute./ The fact that I’m here and I’m living within it./ Sometimes I feel like the pace of my life’s too fast/ and I think about the time that’s passed,” Galarraga states on “Goes Black.” Big Ups’ in-your-face, hardcore grit evokes the classic punk power of Wire and Big Black.
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No Way – The Brooklyn quartet played with Eidetic Seeing at Sludgefeast 2014, a single-day convergence in Brooklyn featuring the best local heavy music acts. No Way’s material is tight, heavy, and succinct on songs like “The Cutting” and “Shake The Meat.” Chuck Berrett belts guttural massacres over fiery sludge punk, reminiscent of Rhode Island experimental metalheads Daughters.
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The Britanys – Wicked garage rock vibes are channeled through The Britany’s It’s Alright EP, the band’s most recent release. The title track is a juggernaut of Stooges-esque intensity and bulldozing guitar fuzz, while “Blow” turns Ty Segall’s raucous bravado into a cyclone of mellow psych rockin’. The Britanys would definitely make Iggy Pop and Mr. Segall proud.
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Zs – Since 2000, avant-garde geniuses Zs have been blasting elaborately furious experimental music into the ears of the Brooklyn underground. The trio’s sound is unfathomably eclectic, painted with styles like free jazz, death metal, and world music. Listen to “Concert Black” from 2010’s New Slaves, which deep fries elegant classical music and catapults the ashes up to heaven. Their new album Xe comes out January 27 (on Northern Spy).
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Advertising – Chavez and Owls easily come to mind while experiencing Advertising’s twinkly and tumultuous jazz rock. Tracks like “Taffy” and “Monolith,” from their debut Pull, are jolly, charismatic onslaughts of prog-glazed scales and post-punk swagger. Advertising’s sonic approach is a collision of Pile’s hefty riffage with The Flaming Lips’ distorted ecstasy.
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