It's become common acceptance that New York City is overrun by bands. Bands are everywhere. So many bands. A lot of them are really awful, let's not kid ourselves here. But there's a solid army of them keeping this place afloat as one of the creative centers of the universe—and that takes more than just eight bands. With that we'd like to tip our hat to a few honorable mentions wholly deserving of your attention.
For a band so obviously informed by rootsy 60s guitar rock (Neil Young lite?), Icewater's most potent weapon stretches surprisingly skyward. Ever-reaching vocals, scrubbed clean of grit and and the weariness of age, unfurl across rolling Fleet Fox melodies to turn songs into gentle anthems. They're currently recording a full-length; we suspect listening to it will make you look out windows and think about important things.
We're never sure what early career milestones a band has to reach before they're considered "too big" to be included among the proper eight, but we assumed an EP on esteemed XL Recordings seemed like a safe bet? No? Then take note. Racking up Odd Future comparisons in the press can either intrigue or disgust, depending on one's horror-core reflexes, but this four-man Harlem-based crew (all of whom are quite young, it should be noted) seem more focused on channeling their angsty punk energy into off-the-wall beats and hyper-speed rhymes than simply becoming smart-asses who aren't actually as smart as they think they are. The big difference is you find yourself rooting for them.
Easily grouped into the pack of current 60s psych revivalists, Spires sit comfortably between Tame Impala's Lonerism and Ty Segall's most recent output, which isn't a bad spot to be in 2013, if you're just joining us. They toe the line between light and dark, blending head-in-the-clouds drugginess with sobering guitar pop to keep you in a state of happy balance.
"Panic rock for the panicked," Flagland's Facebook profile declares. Listening to them pull together so many wildly disassociated influences on their debut LP—songs simultaneously make sense of surf rock, country and hardcore—with a jumpy, swing-from-the-rafters energy, the "panic rock" tag is fitting. They could play at a circus, rodeo or a DIY punk show and make themselves at home, which isn't something that can be said too often. (Earlier this year they released a split 7'' with Big Ups, who we also like quite a bit. You should listen to it.)
Formed from the ashes of Connecticut post-rock band Apse, goth duo Eraas has crossed state lines to drown you in a pool of reverb, drone and strangely melodic wails. But once they lure you to the brink of hypnotization, they throw some krautrock jackhammering your way and snap you back into consciousness. Their self-titled debut is at once elegant and alarming.
That's a lie. These guys seem to be enjoying themselves a good deal. Their latest offering—the wiry, playful Make a Mess of Sacred Ground—reads like a cross between 90s Britpop and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's breakthrough album, with erratic, faux-Brit accented vocals sprinting through charmingly petulant lines like, "I see their love, it has no function/I say we bring those bastards down." Backed by prickly guitar runs and endless hooks, their pent-up energy pools over: They're wound up, and ready to win you over.
Follow Lauren Beck on Twitter @heylaurenbeck.