10/14/16 9:51am
Ian Vanek and the rest of Howardian. Via Facebook.

Ian Vanek and the rest of Howardian. Via Facebook.

It’s a crazy world we live in. There’s a lot of things that could make a person go insane: racism, gender inequality, homophobia, transphobia, you name it. You could go crazy, you could get really depressed, or, you could throw yourself into your art and make a record. Ian Vanek did the latter. Or, rather, a combination of the former and the latter. The cofounder of Brooklyn art punk stalwart Japanther is releasing his third album under his new project Howardian, Do You Know I Wiggle, today, and it’s the second album the band has released this year. He calls it an “accidental” album that was borne out of sadness this summer around the Pulse nightclub shooting and other racism he was witnessing.

“I got so depressed I stopped eating and sleeping,” Vanek, 36, said. “After that experience I got really bummed out, so I went to Chicago and was really moved to write by depression/mania. I was in the studio recording for like 10 hours at a time. Instead of being really overwhelmed by everything that was happening, I purged it through music. Being a cisgendered white male, watching the struggles of other people, you take on the emotions of other people.”

It was recorded with the help of John Doe of X, which is pretty rad. Vanek, a multimedia artist in his own right, worked through the depression by making a really awesome, cathartic record of lo-fi scuzzy punk mixed with a healthy dose of psychedelia. Fear not, though, Japanther fans: there’s plenty of the garage fuzz and technical poly rhythms you loved in his first band. And here’s another instance of the world being crazy: we have the same last name. I got to talk to Ian Vanek about his life on the road (but also in Brooklyn), addressing injustice through art, and whether or not we’re secretly related (spoiler alert: probably not). (more…)

10/07/16 9:03am
Golden Suits is Fred Nicolaus. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Golden Suits is Fred Nicolaus. Photo via Facebook.

The solo project. It’s an adventure that some musicians will never be brave enough to embark on. Fred Nicolaus is not one of those musicians. Having partnered with Grizzly Bear’s Daniel Rossen in the band Department of Eagles, Nicolaus is now a solo artist under the name Golden Suits. His first album under the new moniker came after a time of major turmoil in his life, and it stayed true to the lilting, emotional folk pop that Department of Eagles had become known for. This second album, though, written after his life had calmed down quite a bit, is a happier, poppier, louder call back to the punk he had listened to as a young kid. I spoke to Nicolaus about going solo, staying solo, finding joy after chaos, and his ideal golden suit. His new album, Kubla Khan, is out today.

When I called Nicolaus for our interview, he answered the phone cautiously upon seeing my Baltimore area code.

“We just stayed around Baltimore [between the Philadelphia and DC legs of their tour],” he laughed. “I thought maybe you were someone from the hotel who was mad at us for something.” (more…)

09/30/16 9:00am
The Black Black is Jonathan, Tomo, and Sean. Courtesy of Facebook.

The Black Black is Jonathan Daily, Tomo Ikuta, and Sean McRee. Courtesy of Facebook.

Sometimes the Brooklyn music scene is like its own small town scene in a big city. I don’t mean ‘small town’ in the sense of car pool moms and soccer teams and next door neighbors who call the zoning board saying that your mother is building a meth lab in your back yard when she tries to renovate the garage into an apartment to rent to acupuncture students. Okay, so maybe that’s just my experience. What I mean here is that, when you go to shows in Brooklyn, and you have a lot of friends who are in bands in Brooklyn, you end up talking to somebody you’ve already met without realizing that you’ve met them.

That’s exactly what happened with this week’s New Music Friday, when I interviewed Jonathan Daily of Bushwick post-punk band The Black Black. It turns out that Daily and I had already met when he was working the door at Pet Rescue, which is an incredible DIY venue in Bushwick. When he’s not playing shows there with The Black Black, he’s there supporting the local scene, both at Pet Rescue and elsewhere. I talked to Daily about local bands, what a garage party might be, and what’s exciting about their new album, Adjusted I.

Adjusted refers to the idea of conforming to behavior that fits within the guidelines of society,” Daily said. “Not so much in a classic sense of conforming to fashion or speech or tastes,” he continued, “but more about adjusting your human instincts to modern day society and asking if you really have a choice not to adjust. ‘I’m just so carefully adjusted’ is a line in (our song) ‘Meticulous.'” (more…)

08/26/16 10:17am
Banks and Steelz, courtesy of Facebook.

Banks and Steelz, via Facebook.

When you think “Odd Couple,” you might think of this (and the theme song will probably get stuck in your head, so, sorry). Or, you might think of your parents. OR, you might think of a musical duo comprised of musicians from very different bands: Indie rockers Interpol and hip hop’s legendary Wu-Tang Clan, for instance. That last one, specifically, is this week’s New Music Friday feature: Banks and Steelz, otherwise known as Interpol’s Paul Banks and Wu-Tang’s RZA.

But here’s the thing: it’s actually not that odd. If you listen to the album, which combines the best parts of Interpol and Wu-Tang, it makes a lot of sense. Though it took a while to get to a truly solid collaboration, they bonded as “chess buddies.” They’ve both gone by cool aliases, and they’re both “music geeks” who obsessively collect new instruments and ideas. And though their styles as individual musicians may have seemed disparate at first, they combine into something pretty awesome. The album is equal parts fun, dark, danceable, and hypnotic. It blends electronic beats with acoustic instruments, RZA’s hard-hitting rap with Banks’ smooth vocals. Basically, it’s great. But it’s got a harshness to it.

RZA told Noisey: “[Our music] is like one of them seasonings … called ‘Flavor All;’ you can put that shit on anything.”

We should note here that, though New Music Friday is usually dedicated to local acts that are currently based in Brooklyn, we really focus on artists that represent New York City. Banks and Steelz are definitely that, and their new album, Anything But Words, drops today via Warner Brothers Records. (more…)

08/12/16 10:45am
Maxwell Drummey, contemplating any number of things. Photo courtesy of teamclermont.com

Maxwell Drummey, contemplating any number of things. Photo courtesy of Team Clermont PR.

Maxwell Drummey was driving a stick shift on zero hours of sleep on his way up to Boston. He said it was still a good time for an interview, and casually let slip the reason he’d been up until the wee hours of the morning: he was working for one Miss Hill. As in that Lauryn Hill. Still, he’s super nice, happy and also happens to make really good abstract, experimental music. On top of all that, he is a bona fide smarty pants from Harvard, where he studied social anthropology.

“It’s the same as any other college,” Drummey, who lives in Crown Heights, said with a laugh. “It just thinks it’s better. Basically, they’re just really rich, but like most rich things in America, having tons of money does not mean it’s great.”

You may or may not have heard his previous project, Chester French, which is a fun, alternative-pop-rock two piece. They’ve got some pretty serious notches under their proverbial belt, too: Chester French signed to Pharrell Williams’ Star Trak Recordings, and Rolling Stone hailed their first album as “a collection of pop songs with Brian Wilson melodies, early-Beck humor and synth beats that celebrates romance over digital-crisp surf pop.”

Drummey’s first solo album, 10 Perfect Songs, has a more dreamy vibe, and it’s available today. I talked to Drummey about being a Harvard-educated musician who wrote the album while being a semi-hermit in New Mexico. (more…)

08/05/16 10:12am
Courtesy of Facebook.

Courtesy of Facebook.

A funny thing happens in a place like New York City. I mean, I guess it happens everywhere, but it seems to happen at an accelerated pace here: change. Nowhere is that change more apparent than in our music scene.

As a New York City artist, you’re very likely to watch the scene change before your very eyes, like some very disappointing caterpillar emerging out of its dingy, DIY cocoon into a bunch of luxury condos. Clubs close down, bands stop playing, the cool stuff moves from Manhattan to Brooklyn (no complaints there). And that’s just over a few measly years.

One band that has grown and adapted with these changes is Cheena. Cheena is a scuzzy punk band of New York City kids who have evolved from a bunch of cigarette-smoking high school kids attending house shows and hanging on St. Marks to… well … basically they’re doing the same thing, but now they have a real band, real jobs, and a real space where they actually throw house shows; but we can’t tell you where it is, because a good secret is hard to keep in New York.

“Everyone who knows where it is has the address already,” frontman Walker Behl told us. “And we’d like to keep it that way. Our landlord has a Google alert set for any time the address comes up in the press.”

Cheena’s new album, Spend the Night With…, drops today via Sacred Bones Records. Behl talked to us about growing up in, and growing with, New York’s music scene. He also talked to us about the number of paisley shirts he owns. (more…)

08/02/16 10:12am
If you've never seen a band play on a bus, here they are.

Members of the band Heliotropes endured a bumpy bus ride around the city for the second Record Store Crawl. Photo by Dick Joseph.

We did a round up a while back of some of the best record stores in Brooklyn, but believe it or not, there are great spots in other boroughs, too. Whether you’re a dedicated audiophile, or you just like to paw through the bargain bin looking for fun album covers, some might say the best part of finding new music is the hunt itself. So say you pick a day, Record Store Day or otherwise, that you dedicate to hunting for records. But how do you even begin to wade through the bevy of music shops in our fine five boroughs? And how do you plan for nourishment along the way (“nourishment” here meaning booze)? And how, pray tell, do you possibly find a way to travel between all these places with a live band, the way ones does?

That’s pretty much the premise of the NYC Record Store Crawl. It’s a curated tour of some of the best record shops in the five boroughs (or, at least, three of them), complete with booze, snacks and a live band on a school bus with about 50 other people. The inaugural Crawl took place on Record Store Day in April, and the second one was this past Saturday.

I, being a fan of things that are fun and cool, decided to go. A ticket typically runs $59.95, which might seem like a lot (at least, it did to me: I do write for Brokelyn, after all). So I, being the intrepid journalist that I am, set out to determine whether or not this was worth it. Adventure ensued. (more…)

07/29/16 9:18am
Courtesy of Facebook.

Future Generations live together in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, like a Brooklyn version of The Monkees. Photo via Facebook.

Friendship is rare. Do you hear what I’m saying to you? “Friendship is rare.” Okay, so that’s a Tenacious D lyric (Oh shit, there’s a bear/Could you hand me that shotgun, buddy?/Also that chair.) All right, I’ll stop. But there are some friendships that lead to great things. Like music. Take Future Generations, for example.

The band met by chance in a practice room in their shared dorm building at Fordham University in the Bronx. They started making music together almost immediately; now, they all live together in Brooklyn. They’ve experimented with different genres throughout the years and currently they’ve got a sweet synth-pop thing happening. Their music is fun, danceable and often surprisingly optimistic (we could all use that these days). Future Generations’ first full length self-titled album drops today via Frenchkiss records, so we spoke with frontman Eddie Gore to talk music, fate, friendship and which fictional band who lives together they’re most like (naturally, it’s between The Monkees and The Spice Girls). (more…)

07/22/16 9:58am

Harris’ new EP, ‘Where I Go’, a “serious” jazz and R&B record, is out today. Album art by Emily Niland

Camille Harris wears many hats. Most notably, two of her hats are that of a comedian and a musician. She incorporates comedy into her music, and music into her comedy: Harris penned a romantic comedy musical, The Muffin Man, that made it into the NYC Fringe Fest in 2009 and was then printed by Samuel French, a world-renowned play publisher. She has won the New York City Funny Songs Festival, been on IFC/College Humor’s Hall of Fame, and plays music for babies with her “Silly Jazz with Camille” program that she does with the Brooklyn Public Library.

Her latest effort, though, is a more serious effort: she went for a “cool R&B and jazz record that sounds cool,” she told us. Her new EP, Where I Go, officially drops next week—with a big release party at Littlefield to celebrate it—but you can preview you it here.

Harris began doing her brand of silly musical comedy in order to find joy in an otherwise not-so-joyful world, but over the course of preparing this “serious” album, she’s found that joy can be found elsewhere, too.

“I feel like it’s so easy to be sad because everything sucks, but the challenge in life is to find the joy and happiness. I used to think I had to do that through comedy, but I realized that I can do serious stuff and still find joy. Like this album.” (more…)

07/15/16 9:57am
Heliotropes has gone through several lineup changes. Apparently this one involves a lizard. Photo by Matthew Cylinder, courtesy of Facebook.

Heliotropes has gone through several lineup changes, always with Jessica Numsuwankijkul at the helm. Apparently this one involves a lizard. Photo by Matthew Cylinder via Facebook.

Inspiration can come from anywhere. For Jessica Numsuwankijkul, 33, of Bushwick’s Heliotropes, it came in the form of the WWI and WWII documentaries she found herself watching during the winter of 2014, a time when she felt too depressed to do much else. This resulted in a softer, gentler Heliotropes than we’ve maybe seen before on their last album, 2013’s A Constant Sea. The record is really rad, and features some snippets of bizarre, forgotten history, plucked from those documentaries and hidden in the guise of a sweet duet.

“I took inspiration from pieces that are not musical,”Numsuwankijkul said. “I think that’s really important, because it means you’re not rehashing all these tropes that are used in songs all the time.”

Plus, I know from personal experience that Heliotropes also does a mean Weezer cover set, and they’re preparing to take their music on the road (quite literally) as the travelling band for a Record Store Crawl, a bus tour of NYC record shops. So basically, Heliotropes is very Brooklyn, and their new album Over There That Way drops today. (more…)