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Date Posted:
June 2003

NY: The Next Wave

As you’ve probably noticed over the past few years, whether it be through friends, shows, or every single issue of NME published since 1999, New York City has a rock scene that just can’t be beat with a stick. Bands like Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Radio 4, the Strokes and throngs of other great acts have been able to capitalize on the N.Y.C. buzz, and compilations like the recent Yes New York demonstrate that, if it’s from the city, it deserves critical acclaim.

Question is, does the world really need another “New York-is-a-really-cool-place-to-check-out-bands” compilation? The answer, without dispute, is a big ol’ fat yes siree! Next Wave is like Yes New York’s kid sister, with a fake ID: Screw all the “cool” bands, because I’ve scoured the Bowery and beyond and brought back the real deal.

The CD opens with a luscious track by Sea Ray, a literal sonic wall of smooth vocals, cellos and distorted guitars. It sets the mood perfectly for the other artists on the CD. They are the unsung heroes of the N.Y. scene; the bands we walk past on Avenue A and don’t even notice. They deserve our attention, and they deserve this compilation.

Giving a nod to the budding disco-punk scene is the Fever, spreading its spastic keyboards and ballistic wails over “Labor of Love.” If you’re achin’ for some 90s alternative-rock nostalgia (think Pavement, Built to Spill, Archers of Loaf), Awek is just for you; listen to their track “If You Win (It’s Because I Let You)” and wonder why they aren’t on the bill for the resurrected Lollapalooza.

The compilation also knows when to bring it down a notch (the swirling melodies of Four Volts and Bastion do the job quite efficiently) and feature a few up-and-coming acts who’ll surely soon be playing at a Virgin Megastore showcase near you. Elefant, the band whose debut, Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid, is still creating buzz quite a few months after its release, and stellstarr*, who has been described as the Robert Smith fronting the Pixies so many times even the band members are sick of it. Both bands are heavy on the bass and sing-a-long lyrics. After hearing Elefant’s song, “Bokkie,” twice, you‚ll be humming it for weeks.
I could easily go through every song on the CD and sing you its merits, but every self-respecting New York resident should pick up a copy from their local record store, so I‚ll let you musically discover NYC yourself. I see the future of NYC, and it is bright. CAMERON COOK


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