14 bands we’re excited see this week at NYC’s New Colossus Festival
SXSW may be canceled, but a lot of bands who were planning on being in Austin are still touring, and many of them will be in NYC this week for the 2020 edition of newish festival New Colossus. (After starting as an all-day party the weekend before SXSW, New Colossus turned into a multi-day, multi-venue fest in 2019.) Shows run Wednesday through Sunday at venues all over the Lower East Side and East Village, encouraging club-hopping in an old school CMJ way. Most bands are playing multiple times, too, including a few free day shows on the weekend. The emphasis here is on discovery and there's a lot to discover with over 100 bands playing this year's festival. We've picked 14 acts that we're excited to see this week at New Colossus.
New Colossus badges are $100, and get you access to all shows, industry talks/panels and other events, based on capacity. You can also buy tickets to individual shows. Check out our 14 picks below and you can peruse the full lineup and schedule.
Hailing from Mungia, Spain, quartet Belako play very catchy indie rock influenced equally by new wave and punk, and sound like they could've come out of the early '00s new rock renaissance. The band's new album, Plastic Drama, is due out in May and you can check out first single "Tie Me Up," below. Belako play two New Colossus shows at Pianos on Friday.
Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess is gearing up to release new solo album, I Love the New Sky, and first single "Empathy for the Devil" has us excited to hear more, which we should get at his three shows at the festival. Additionally, Tim will be DJing late night Thursday at The Ludlow House, and he'll be in conversation, telling stories about life in The Charlatans at Arlene’s Grocery on Saturday afternoon (as part of a as free day party thrown by Rough Trade). Head here for all appearances.
Drew Citron has been part of the Brooklyn music scene for over 10 years now, playing with Pains of Being Pure at Heart, leading the band Beverly and, more recently, as part of Public Practice (see elsewhere on this list). She's just announced that she'll be releasing her first solo record later this year via Park the Van, which she calls "a very personal, very natural step beyond Beverly." She'll debut songs off the record live at her one New Colossus show on Wednesday at Lola (formery Coney Island Baby, formerly Hi-Fi), with Peel Dream Magazine, Australia's Shady Nasty and Lunarette.
London's Honey Lung may win the award for most New Colossus shows, playing six times over the five day festival. Led by singer/guitarist/songwriter Jamie Batten, Honey Lung's sound pulls from '90s indie rock, alt-rock and shoegaze and puts equal emphasis on melody and hooks and wild guitar squalls. Honey Lung released their debut album, Memory, via Kanine last year and recently returned with new single "Nothing":
Toronto's Kiwi Jr. are probably sick of Pavement comparisons at this point, but it's hard to listen to their excellent 2019 album, Football Money, and not think of Stephen Malkmus' old band at least a little, given the slacker pop jams and singer/guitarist Jeremy Gaudet attitude-heavy delivery. But Kiwi Jr. bring to the proceedings their own bouncy pop style, more than a little Britpop flair, and style (and hooks) for miles and miles. Having just given Football Money a U.S. release in January, the band are on tour and play two shows during New Colossus.
Young Washington, DC trio Knife Wife describe their 2019 debut Family Party as "the regurgitation of the tear inducing boredom and ecstasy that is being 15 years old. The album is a medley of violent indifference, sorrow, general nastiness, bitter joy, and the symbolism of dogs." It's also very punk rock, in a DIY sort of way, with a bunch of memorable, minimal, and visceral songs. Family Party came out via Priests' Sister Polygon label, and they opened at Priests' farewell show in Brooklyn. They'll play two shows during the festival.
Led by brothers Mez Sanders-Green (vocals) and Mick Sanders (guitar), UK four-piece LIFE make snarling, gleefully hyper punk with a pop sensibility and a heap of attitude. Their second album, A Picture of Good Health, was released last fall and is recommended to fans of McLusky, Fontaines DC and IDLES (with whom they'll be on tour in the UK in April). Known for their fiery live shows, they've got three shows as part of the festival, including the Bowery Ballroom show on Friday with A Place to Bury Strangers and Public Practice.
Marble Arch is, for all intents and purposes, Paris-based musician Yann Le Razavet who has been crafting hazy guitar pop for the last five years or so. His second album, Children of the Slump, dropped last year via French label Geographie and it’s a cool, groovy, kinda sexy record, with a focus on melody, keeping things interesting, and not overstaying its welcome. (You can also hear things like My Bloody Valentine, New Order and House of Love in their hazy dreampop sound.) Live, Marble Arch is a full band and they'll be making their U.S. debut at New Colossus with three chances to see them.
UK group The Orielles just released their second album Disco Volador, a unique, charming blend of psych, pop, tropicalia and, yes, disco. The band have also covered Peggy Gou, been remixed by the late, great Andrew Weatherall and have become in-demand remixers themselves. New Colossus will be The Orielles' first NYC shows and you've got four chances to catch them during the festival.
PEEL DREAM MAGAZINE
Brooklyn shoegazy indiepop band Peel Dream Magazine mix equal parts melody, noise and drone with a sound that falls somewhere between My Bloody Valentine and early Stereolab. They're signed to Slumberland Records, which is a perfect place for them, and are gearing up to release their second album, Agitprop Alterna. They've got two shows this week.
Norway's Pom Poko are cute and poppy firecrackers who make explosive, energetic and danceable indie rock, prone to mathy noodling and left-turn choruses. Last year's Birthday is a real treat, reminiscent of Bjork's former band The Sugarcubes at times, and the band just released a new single ahead of their first U.S. tour. They'll first stop in Brooklyn and then play two shows as part of New Colossus.
Brooklyn band Public Practice -- which includes Samantha York and Vince McClelland of Wall and Beverly members Drew Citron (discussed above) and Scott Rosenthal -- play spiky danceable rock, informed by post-punk (Pylon, Talking Heads), new wave, Yellow Magic Orchestra and more but they bring their own unique energy to the table. Having released their debut EP in 2018, Public Practice's first full-length album, Gentle Grip, is due out in May. They're terrific live and their one New Colossus show is with A Place to Bury Strangers and LIFE (also discussed above) at Bowery Ballroom on Friday.
Liverpool trio Stealing Sheep made a huge leap from their 2012 debut, Into the Diamond Sun, to its follow-up, 2015’s Not Real, going from charmingly quirky folk to kitchen sink dancepop. They then further refined their sound on last year's Big Wows and just dropped a great new single. Stealing Sheep are currently on their first-ever U.S. tour and haven't played NYC since CMJ 2015 when they wowed us with their fun, inventive and colorful live show. They've got three New Colossus shows (and a Brooklyn show, too).
London's Tugboat Captain, who named themselves after a Galaxie 500 song, are more than a little twee, making the kind of cute, shiny, horn-inflected indiepop that politely yells "striped tees and cardigans." (They describe themselves as a "folk orchestra of ruffians.") It's pretty charming stuff and the band independently crowdfunded their trip to the USA only to have SXSW canceled, but they're still playing New Colossus and making the most of it with a whopping five shows.