Where Will You Find Your Next Favorite Band?
With the Internet, is any artist really "local" these days? After all, word of mouth no longer requires a slow-and-steady crawl: With a well-placed Bandcamp demo, an unsigned band can get a brand-new song heard by fans from Kansas to Kathmandu, without leaving its practice space.
But make no mistake: A level playing field means an ungodly signal-to-noise ratio, and if anyone can be heard anywhere, then you'd best believe everyone is trying at once. Many of the old rules are more important than ever: New bands survive and thrive by finding a following at home — by honing their craft on stage and in the studio — before they try to conquer the world.
Those seeking the elusive Next Big Thing would be wise to look for the bands that have made something of themselves in the cities that spawned them. From Seattle and Los Angeles to New York and Philly to Austin, the Twin Cities and beyond, we consulted the picky and passionate experts at top public radio stations to proselytize on behalf of the bands they love locally. If these experts have any say in the matter — and, come to think of it, they do — then you'll hear a lot more about their picks in the months and years to come.
Which City Will Produce The Next Big Band?
FirehorseCourtesy of the artist.
From: New York City
Currently in rotation on: 90.7 FM WFUV & The Alternate Side
Brooklyn's Leah Siegel is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actor and designer who recently added dance to her long list of creative endeavors. Music, however, remains her main focus, and she recently released her eclectic debut as Firehorse, And So They Ran Faster... The album is a stunning collection of thoughtful songs which explore pop, jazz and electronic music, while calling attention to the versatility of her vocals. Siegel recently recorded a fantastic studio session with us, and this year she'll tour and release more videos from the new album. --Alisa Ali, The Alternate Side / WFUV
HoneyHoneyCourtesy of the artist
From: Venice, Calif.
Currently in rotation on: 89.9 FM KCRW
It was the dark humor of the first track on HoneyHoney's new album, Angel of Death, that first piqued my interest in this band. Its biting satire, set to an easygoing country/folk sound, elevates HoneyHoney above the rest in my mind. Sometime after these recordings captured my imagination and became staples on KCRW, we had the pleasure of HoneyHoney's company in the studio for a live performance, and its members were absolutely charming; they really embodied the spirit of their music. It's the combination of these elements — smart lyrics, terrific musicality, good people — that creates the foundation for a prosperous career, including a slot on this year's Coachella music festival. --Jason Bentley, Morning Becomes Eclectic / KCRW
Quiet CompanyCourtesy of the artist
From: Austin, Texas
Currently in rotation on: 90.5 FM KUT
While several Austin artists are poised for a big 2012, Quiet Company seems ready to make serious ripples in the mainstream: Its big, anthemic indie-pop melodies have already turned on TV shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians and MTV's The Real World. Though its radio-ready songs stand alone, the band's third and most recent record, We Are All Where We Belong, is a concept album of sorts documenting frontman Taylor Muse's journey through early fatherhood and a falling-out with religion. A tour beyond Quiet Company's Texas comfort zone now seems inevitable: It's drawing 30,000 plays per day at Grooveshark, where it's signed an artist development deal; the group's fastest-growing fan bases are in Brazil, Colombia and Germany. —David Brown, KUT
PickwickCourtesy of the artist
From: Seattle, Wash.
Currently in rotation on: 90.3 FM KEXP
Pickwick is an indie-rock band with a generous twist of soul: It mixes the joyful exuberance of Arcade Fire with the unique energy of Fitz and the Tantrums' live show. Already selling out its live dates locally before even releasing a full-length album, Pickwick is a smart band that stands up to scrutiny, both on stage and in the studio. —John Richards, KEXP
PoliçaCourtesy of the artist
From: Minneapolis, Minn.
Currently in rotation on: 89.3 FM KCMP, The Current
On the heels of the much-beloved local duo Roma di Luna's break-up, a crack team of smart, restlessly creative local talent — including members of Vampire Hands, Gayngs and Bon Iver — came together to form Poliça. As the freshly minted quartet played more shows and released more tracks, its national and local profile grew. Now, it's readying its first full-length studio LP, Give You the Ghost, for release in February. --Peter Valelly, The Current
Strand of OaksCourtesy of the artist
From: Wilkes-Barre, Penn.
Currently in rotation on: 88.5 FM, WXPN
Strand of Oaks' Tim Showalter has been making a string of wise decisions since the release of 2010's amazing Pope Killdragon, an album of imaginative storytelling and haunting indie-folk. He's been a touring machine who tirelessly crisscrosses the country, and he's bravely expanded his sound, moving beyond guy-and-guitar folk music to incorporate synthesizers and backing musicians. Songs from a forthcoming album, as heard in concert, deliver on his promise. Coming next month, Showalter will also appear on an eye-opening new Shaking Through session. (For a list of other local bands poised for a breakthrough, check out WXPN's local music blog, The Key.) — Bruce Warren, WXPN
Tiny VictoriesCourtesy of the artist
From: New York City
Currently in rotation on: 93.9 FM, WNYC
Tiny Victories' members are about to release their debut EP, Those of Us Still Alive, which is full of smart, catchy electro-pop hooks with subversive production details to keep listeners guessing. There's real depth to Greg Walter's voice, as well as a natural, organic feel to the music despite all the samplers and electronics. — John Schaefer, Soundcheck, WNYC
Y La BambaAlicia J. Rose
From: Portland, Ore.
Currently in rotation on: opbmusic.org
The beguiling Luz Elena Mendoza leads the way for Portland's Y La Bamba, which seems poised for a breakout year with the release of Court the Storm. Often singing in Spanish, Mendoza channels the Mexican folk songs of her youth into music from the heart of the Portland indie-pop scene. The band adds rhythmic twists on the new album, which also boasts an appearance from Neko Case and the production of Los Lobos' Steve Berlin. —Jeremy Petersen, opbmusic.org