Our Year End Best of NYC Poll for Emerging Artists took a heavy toll on our time in the last few weeks, and also distracted us from our digital pile of music submissions - it was time to get a few of them out of the way (so to speak). All these bands submitted their music for review here (it's free), and so can you - if you make music and live in the NYC area.
Singer Zach Reynolds has described his band, Graveyard Lovers, sound as “the entire spectrum of American music.” While this quote is undoubtedly far more ambitious than any two piece deserve, Zach and drummer Tricia Purvis certainly give it a solid go. The bluesy rockers tear it up in personal fave ‘Ripe to Misbehave,’ not unlike Sonic Youth… if Sonic Youth grew from Tennessee’s swamps and traded their soul to the devil while on the same road as Blind Willie Johnson. Even when they’re not shredding it out, this group will get up inside you with the rattlesnake ‘Burn the Malls’ and ‘Everyday is a War.’ If you’re looking for trouble, look no further. Graveyard Lovers knows what you’ve been up to, and is here to provide the soundtrack.
Wyndham Baird can be seen panhandling in Washington Square Park from the same benches that time hasn’t changed since the folkie ‘60s. Baird’s husky renditions of otherwise unheard of folk jams carry the same water as his patently eclectic originals. Lifting urban love affairs to the stuff of Gospel, and twisting personal disappointments into universal folk anthems, Baird’s six-string and harmonica playing will make it so you won’t have to choose between the Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan of your parent’s age. This old soul’s found room for both these giants throughout his 7 song self-titled debut.
Here’s a band that’s been through a lot in a short time, and all of this has made it’s way on to The Library is on Fire's latest record ‘Works on Paper.’ Having traveled back and forth with his group between Ohio and NY several times over the past year, and witnessing some heavy stuff happen to several of his friends in that same time, singer/songwriter Steve Five shoves a multitude of conflicting life lessons right next to one another on this latest canvas. Described as ‘art punks,’ there are certainly a lot of colors flying around here. And like any great journey, repeated listens reward the patient listener. The three-piece looks to constantly search for the right color to tell their story, and whether acoustic or power punk, the effect is equally cutting. See them when they play the Brooklyn Museum April 7th.
A quick glance at the artists Away Aways have ‘liked’ on their facebook is revealing: ‘The Smiths, David Bowie, Arctic Monkeys…”. Ok, that’s a good start. Add Libertines to the list, and you’ve got it. But make no mistake. They may owe a good deal of their post-punk revival to our friends across the Atlantic, but this four piece is unmistakably New York. Their rock n’ roll constists largely of anthemic rockers goading you to get moving like Springsteen used to do it in blue jeans. But there’s plenty of downbeat here to chill to as well. ‘Some Things We’ll Never Know’ (from their new record of the same name) bops to the bounce I wish I could still hear from the Strokes these days. But singer Evan de Augustinis has claimed the post-punk revival for his own torch, and it suits Away Aways like the lower east side they’ve claimed for their own.
Cordelia Stephens is all about traveling. From turning the keys and putting the pedal down in ‘Drive,’ to The clear-voiced siren will make you think you’re on a straight road for some time, before taking you through a rolling detour filled with Beatlesque horns in ‘The Shapes of London,’ and the Wes Anderson-ready love ballad ‘Night Sky.’ Not unlike Natalie Merchant’s tireless curiosity and poetic adventures, Stephens and her band showcase a wealth of ideas brought together under her flowering muse. If you’ve listened to just one of these songs, you haven’t even begun to hear Cordelia yet. - All review by Mike Levine