Best of Brooklyn 2013: Music 


Best Brooklyn Hip-Hop Mixtape
Zebra Katz’s DRKLING

A claustrophobic but darkly stylish mix from our high-art rapper of the moment. A sinister 60s pop cover? A Busta Rhymes cameo? It’s minimalism that leaves space for big moves.

Best Brooklyn Super-Producer Helping Arcade Fire Make a Record in Manhattan
James Murphy

The DFA Records kingpin’s cosmically destined Eno-produced-Talking Heads moment cannot get into our earbuds fast enough.

Best Output of Recent Brooklyn Transplants

Why anyone would leave a kangaroo country for a non-kangaroo country is beyond us, but as the bands High Highs, Scott & Charlene’s Wedding and Free Time settle down in Brooklyn, giving their leisurely paced variations on folk and jangle-pop a new home, we feel sorry for their mother country. New York definitely came out on top here.

Best Microcosm of Brooklyn in a Scandinavian Country
“Brooklyn, Sweden” Festival

The promise of reindeer meat and unbeatable cheekbones is likely what’s luring a wide swath of the local art, film, food, comedy and music scene (including, but not limited to, The Hold Steady, DIIV, Twin Sister and The So So Glos) to Stockholm and Malmö for Labor Day weekend, where they’ll enable super-serious Swedes in their continuing mission to totally cop our style.


Best Alt-Rock Band Comeback Located in Greenpoint
The Julie Ruin

Kathleen Hanna’s recording project started during a Bikini Kill break in the magical late-90s Olympia scene, but as an actual live act they’ve only ever played Brooklyn. Treasured metal bar Saint Vitus hosted a full-band launch this summer during Northside, in the same neighborhood where they’ve been rehearsing for an anticipated album and tour this fall.

Best Use of the One Billion Music Writers Living in Brooklyn for Album Promotion
Kanye West

A surprise preview of Yeezus was projected onto buildings in 66 cities, but it was probably video from N. 7th Street in Williamsburg that popped up in your newsfeed.

Best Occult Ritual at a Music Festival
Sacred Bones Northside Showcase

A hotly contested category, finally won around 3am in Public Assembly’s back room when Arizona goths Marshstepper topped their nightmare death masks, ceremonial body washing, full-frontal nudity and suggested sexual torture by just straight-up stapling Tarot cards to bare flesh.

Best Brooklyn-Baiting Music Supervisor
Manish Raval

Though based in LA, Raval is on the team accountable for soundtracking key water-cooler shows with optimum emotional impact for a certain post-collegiate portion of gentrified Brooklyn. Among them: The New Girl, Happy Endings (RIP), Community. And some show called Girls.


Best Brooklyn Breakout
The So So Glos’ Blowout

It’s not the band’s first record, but it’s the first to get a lot of attention (not only from outlets like us but also Rolling Stone, MTV, Pitchfork, Spin), so much so that the guys even wound up on Letterman. Way to go, fellas! A record this good deserves it.

Best Brooklyn Venue for Catch-as-Catch-Can Concerts, Parties, Markets, Performances and Pop-ups of All Sorts
Secret Project Robot

We’ve seen sloppy concerts and great plays and holiday markets at this entertaining place. And so on. Get on their mailing list.

Best Album Announcement
Vampire Weekend via The New York Times

There it was in the “Notices & Lost and Found” classifieds in the February 4th edition of the Times: a tiny, black-and-white ad with the words “Modern Vampires of the City, May 7, 2013.” Subversive—for a bunch of Millennials. Teamed with a cryptic post from the band’s Twitter feed a few days earlier tipping off fans to keep an eye out (“NYT Classifieds…”), they managed to merge new- and old-school media cleverly.

Best band We Wish Would Just Move Back Here Already

A “Brooklyn, NY” hometown shout-out on their Facebook page and constant press mentions with twin sister Katie’s local outfit Waxahatchee are misleading, but Allison Crutchfield’s Swearin’ packed it up for Philly last year (apparently it’s cheaper there). It’s a tough pill to swallow, as their self-titled debut fits squarely into the pocket of 90s-nodding, melody-driven rock that our borough is preoccupied with but that few bands actually pull off.

The 5 Best Albums Released by Brooklyn Bands So Far This Year

1. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
Layered in melody, meaning and feeling, nobody’s made a record quite as suited to the millennial state of mind, well, ever.

2. Eleanor Friedberger – Personal Record
The Fiery Furnaces vocalist continues to thrive in her 70s-style singer/songwriter solo career because, crucially, she never settles for a sound that’s obviously retro.

3. Phosphorescent - Muchachu
Southern-fied folk-rock is spiked with dance beats, hymnal sobriety, and a healthy dose of heartache, making it Matthew Houck’s most stirring material to date.

4. The Men – New Moon
Leaning further away from the white-knuckled punk of The Men’s early work, here we’re reminded of the unrelenting, robust power of an unadorned rock song.

5. Pharmakon – Abandon
Bushwick’s Margaret Chardiet made the rare hard-noise record that crackles with painfully human vulnerability.


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