The Best of NYC MUSIC 

BEST LOCAL BAND SIGNED TO WOODSIST THAT YOU HAVEN’T HEARD YET: Beach Fossils

BEST NEW VENUE THAT’S WORTH WANDERING AROUND LIKE AN IDIOT TRYING TO FIND: Cameo Gallery

BEST-LOOKING NEW YORK-BASED MALE MUSICIAN: Christopher Bear

BEST-LOOKING NEW YORK-BASED FEMALE MUSICIAN: Three-way tie between the ladies in Dirty Projectors

BEST DIY CONCERT PROMOTER WHOSE NAME IS NOT TODD: Ariel Panero and Alex Mallory of Less Artists More Condos

THE BEST NIGHT OF YOUR INDIE-ROCK LIFE, IF YOU WERE LUCKY ENOUGH TO GO: Dark Was the Night benefit show at Radio City Music Hall

BEST LOCAL BAND FRONTED BY A NERDY DUDE BACKED UP BY DOO-WOP SINGERS: Ava Luna

BEST NEW MUSIC FESTIVAL ORGANIZED BY A BIWEEKLY POCKET-SIZED NYC LISTINGS MAGAZINE: The Northside Festival

BEST GATHERING OF CELEBRITIES IN THE CROWD AT A CONCERT: Animal Collective at Bowery Ballroom

BEST ATTEMPT TO OVERTHROW CRAIGSLIST TICKET SCAMMERS: BrooklynVegan commenters after the aforementioned Animal Collective show

BEST BODY-ODOR-CONTROLLING VENUE UPGRADE: The air-conditioning at Market Hotel

BEST NEW VENUE THAT HAS ALL THE SAME PROBLEMS AS THE OWNERS’ OTHER VENUE BUT IS STILL AWESOME REGARDLESS: Bruar Falls


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BEST LOCAL BAND SIGNED TO WOODSIST THAT YOU HAVEN’T HEARD YET: Beach Fossils
Love it or hate it, the unforeseen popularity of bands like Vivian Girls and Wavves has turned Woodsist’s signature scuzzy sound into one of the defining characteristics of Brooklyn’s current music scene. Dustin Payseur works under the name Beach Fossils, and his upcoming debut will be released on the label. From here, you can pretty much imagine how he sounds: lazy, gurgled vocals and simple, shimmery melodies are blanketed by just the right amount of reverb to give songs a sepia-toned, nostalgic feel that makes you swear it’s 1962 and you’re away at summer camp.

BEST OF NYC HOME

BEST NEW VENUE THAT’S WORTH WANDERING AROUND LIKE AN IDIOT TRYING TO FIND: Cameo Gallery
There’s a maze of hallways leading from the back of the Lovin’ Cup Café to the Cameo in Williamsburg (93 N 6th St); knowing where you’re going makes you feel like you’re in on a secret, but the accidental ego boost is just a bonus. They’ve been booking a slew of increasingly buzzy musical and comedic talent, the sound is good, a rotating display of art installations distinguishes the space — what looked like luminescent jellyfish tentacles hung above the stage until recently — and the Lovin’ Cup serves out-of-this-world tater tots and sliders until 4am, just like in heaven.

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BEST-LOOKING NEW YORK-BASED MALE MUSICIAN: Christopher Bear
Grizzly Bear put out a damn fine album this year. It doesn’t hurt that their drummer happens to look like a Precious Moment.

click to enlarge Christopher Bear of Grizzly Bear

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BEST-LOOKING NEW YORK-BASED FEMALE MUSICIAN: Three-way tie between the ladies in Dirty Projectors
They’re like über-attractive Urban Outfitter employees: great hair, the unique ability to pull off any outfit, and still endearingly accessible. Until they start to sing. Then your knees buckle, your palms get sweaty, and they become no longer accessible.

click to enlarge The Ladies of Dirty Projectors

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BEST DIY CONCERT PROMOTER WHOSE NAME IS NOT TODD: Ariel Panero and Alex Mallory of Less Artists More Condos
They also win the category for “Best Named Venture Whose Purpose Is to Support Underground Music.” But in addition to the name, these two host top-notch shows in their Manhattan loft space-cum-venue (also called Less Artists More Condos) and book top-notch shows in other various DIY spaces. LAMC hosted Wavves (in conjunction with like-minded curators Mike Sniper and Todd P) during his first visit to the city, is responsible for numerous pre-buzz Kurt Vile appearances, a kickass Northside showcase, and Oxford Collapse’s final show — just to name a few highlights from the year.

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THE BEST NIGHT OF YOUR INDIE-ROCK LIFE, IF YOU WERE LUCKY ENOUGH TO GO: Dark Was the Night benefit show at Radio City Music Hall
It was May 3, 2009. A Sunday. David Byrne was there. So was Feist, Bon Iver, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, the Dirty Projectors, My Brightest Diamond, the National and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek. Bryce and Aaron Dessner had rallied everyone under one roof to reincarnate the recently released Dark Was the Night CD compilation benefiting AIDS awareness. There was a Sharon Jones-led superjam of “This Land Is Our Land” that’s going down in the books as indie rock’s “Heal the World.” There were numerous collaborations between artists. And there was a sense that everyone was stepping up their game, performing with the type of purpose that such an event called for.

click to enlarge Radio City Indie Rock with Feist

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BEST LOCAL BAND FRONTED BY A NERDY DUDE BACKED UP BY DOO-WOP SINGERS: Ava Luna
Ava Luna’s frontman Carlos Hernandez is charming in the geek-who-could-probably-take-over-the-world-with-his-pinkie-finger kinda way. The band started as his solo project in 2002, but expanded when he decided to form a girl group, a la the Ronnettes, but with an edge. The now six-piece ensemble has a cross-genre sound that’s hard to describe in a sentence: doo-wop harmonies meet punk sensibilities on a spaceship headed to Mars. It’s absurd that such a unique and irresistible sound has managed to stay under the radar for so long. Get on this, guys. Seriously.

BEST OF NYC HOME

BEST NEW MUSIC FESTIVAL ORGANIZED BY A BIWEEKLY POCKET-SIZED NYC LISTINGS MAGAZINE: The Northside Festival
Remember how, back in June, there were those four days when there were really awesome parties organized by local music blogs, record labels and independent show promoters, featuring mostly local bands? And how there were all those awesome gallery events and surprise outdoor performances and drink specials? And how a measly $45 got you access to all of it? Yeah, that was the Northside Festival. We did that, and considering how badly we usually mess stuff up, we’re pretty proud of ourselves.

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BEST GATHERING OF CELEBRITIES IN THE CROWD AT A CONCERT: Animal Collective at Bowery Ballroom
When Animal Collective played the relatively intimate venue in January, it was a big deal. Their parents even came to watch. Natasha Lyonne, Haley Joel Osment, Sean Avery, Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber, and a who’s who of New York indie rock — members of Grizzly Bear, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, Blonde Redhead, Chairlift, Yeasayer and Vampire Weekend — were all allegedly in the audience too. That’s why you couldn’t get a ticket.

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BEST ATTEMPT TO OVERTHROW CRAIGSLIST TICKET SCAMMERS: BrooklynVegan commenters after the aforementioned Animal Collective show
After tickets for Animal Collective’s shows at Bowery and Grand Ballroom went for hundreds of dollars on Craigslist, numerous fans found themselves turned away at the door with counterfeit tickets. News quickly spread on the BrooklynVegan message boards of a guy who had sold copies of his e-ticket receipt to multiple people at inflated prices. Pissed-off fans chimed in with tidbits about him, eventually revealing the dude’s cell phone number and work address. Whether or not this guy was actually at fault or somehow got mixed up in a larger scam, it became a rare moment of power-to-the-people camaraderie among a group best known for tearing one another apart with oh-so-witty commentary.

BEST OF NYC HOME

BEST BODY-ODOR-CONTROLLING VENUE UPGRADE: The air-conditioning at Market Hotel
Some will complain that it will cause the venue to lose some of its DIY charm. We will punch them in the nose.

BEST OF NYC HOME

BEST NEW VENUE THAT HAS ALL THE SAME PROBLEMS AS THE OWNERS’ OTHER VENUE BUT IS STILL AWESOME REGARDLESS: Bruar Falls
We’ve been to two shows at the new Williamsburg venue from the folks who brought us the Cake Shop, and both were packed to the gills, revealing some questionable sightlines. When you have great taste in music, though, and are by all accounts a joy to work with, as the owners of these venues are, you’ll get pretty far.

BEST OF NYC HOME

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