This Just In: Brooklyn Has Own "Sound," Numerous Bands

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Brooklyn has become a mecca of sorts for indie rock in the past decade, with numerous new bands emerging from its brownstone-lined streets
​I was listening to Sirius XMU yesterday while driving with the air conditioning on, since it's a balmy November in the Valley. On came a song by new indie/psych rock band Bear in Heaven, "You Do You." I was enthralled by the song, not being bored as shit 30 seconds into as I am with most indie rock these days. I was instantly curious about this Bear in Heaven and where they were from. Upon further research, the band, of course, hails from Brooklyn. NYMag, like myself, has been keen on the ever-burgeoning scene coming out of Brooklyn. They just released a list -- Brooklyn Top 40 -- of songs from Brooklyn bands that "define the sound of right now." While the specific parameters of what constitutes a band being from Brooklyn proper are subjective, the list is still an impressive one, worthy of look and a few listens.

Here is NYMag's full list, Brooklyn Top 40:

40 Light Asylum - "Angel Tongue"
39 Oakley Hall - "All the Way Down"
38 Here We Go Magic - "Fangela"
37 Apache Beat - "Tropics"
36 Bishop Allen - "Click, Click, Click, Click"
35 White Rabbits - "Percussion Gun"
34 Japanther - "Challenge"
33 Class Actress - "All The Saints"
32 Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson - "The Debtor"
31 Ninjasonik - "Art School Girls"
30 Antibalas - "Beaten Metal"
29 Black Dice - "Glazin'"
28 The Antlers - "Kettering"
27 Panda Bear - "Comfy In Nautica"
26 The National - "Mistaken For Strangers"
25 Amazing Baby - "The Narwhal"
24 St. Vincent - "Actor Out Of Work"
23 Neon Indian - "Deadbeat Summer"
22 Matt & Kim - "Daylight"
21 Grizzly Bear - "Knife"
20 Suckers - "Beach Queen"
19 Sharon Jones And The Dap Kings - "100 Days, 100 Nights"
18 The Drums - "I Feel Stupid"
17 A Place To Bury Strangers - "To Fix The Gash In Your Head"
16 Chairlift - "Bruises"
15 Telepathe "Chrome's On It"
14 Crystal Stilts - "Crippled Croon"
13 Das Racist - "Combination Pizza Hut And Taco Bell"
12 The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - "Young Adult Friction"
11 Hercules & Love Affair - "Blind"
10 Animal Collective - "My Girls"
09 Yeasayer - "2080"
08 Vampire Weekend - "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"
07 Vivian Girls - "Where Do You Run To"
06 Gang Gang Dance - "House Jam"
05 TV On The Radio - "Golden Age"
04 LCD Soundsystem - "All My Friends"
03 MGMT- "Kids"
02 Grizzly Bear - "Two Weeks"
01 Dirty Projectors - "Stillness Is The Move"


(Thanks to amrit at Stereogum for compiling the list.)


Bear in Heaven are still relatively new, barely feeling the Pitchfork effect, so they are absent from the list. Dirty Projectors, then, take the top honors in the list, something which I find to be a fitting decision, especially given the irresistible quality of "Stillness Is The Move." It's both catchy and insanely dense at the same time -- a perfect ambassador for this "Brooklyn sound." As NYMag points out, the band is not afraid to take a chance on an unconventional sound that may be over the heads of many listeners. It is those listeners, though, that really understand and enjoy the band's sound that truly benefit from a band like Dirty Projectors.


Some bands on this list -- Neon Indian, St. Vincent, Animal Collective -- have roots in other places, but for the purposes of the list, have found their careers by way of Brooklyn.


The top 15 songs on this list really start to get into the truly creative force that is brewing in Brooklyn -- more specifically Williamsburg. Bands like Telepathe, Hercules & Love Affair and Gang Gang Dance are fucking odd -- and totally brilliant. They have shattered whatever convention that was weighing down so much of indie rock/electronic/psych music to produce innovative, refreshing music. 


There are, of course, a few gripes on this list. But to ignore bands like Vampire Weekend, Chairlift and MGMT (ugh) would be doing Brooklyn a disservice. Some bands have to emerge as the more popular, radio-friendly ones to help get a certain locale on the map. It's not their fault (yes it is) that they happen to be completely awful live and that their songs have been overplayed to the same degree as "Ice Ice Baby."


It is just too difficult to ignore Brooklyn these days, especially given the year that Brooklyn bands have had. Dirty Projectors, Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear have all released stellar albums in 2009, worthy of anyone's top 10 list. A band like Bear in Heaven only proves that Brooklyn's place in today's indie music scene is an indelible one.


The question emerges, then: Has Brooklyn become a locale like Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit and Memphis were for their respective sounds in the appropriate decades? If things keep progressing like they do in North America's hipster headquarters, the answer will most definitely have to be in the affirmative.




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