nymag-brooklyn-sound.jpg

Welcome to your music meme of the week. Turns out there are bands in Williamsburg, and New York is all over it. It’s far from the first time our neighborhood’s been dressed up and packaged for a major print publication, but maybe it’s the first time the scene’s been distilled into a playlist everybody can argue about. The criteria for inclusion on this list isn’t explicitly stated, beyond the “A highly subjective ranking of the songs that define the sound of right now” subheader. And subjective it is: Passing through its 40 tracks and 39 artists (“Knife” and “Two Weeks” are by the same band, after all), it seems there wasn’t much criteria at all: an artist could call Brooklyn home, but also just have just visited (see: Neon Indian). A song could have been released in 2009, but also three years ago (see: the aforementioned “Knife”). But before we jump down NY Mag’s throats about their fuzzy parameters, it sort of fits with what passes for the Brooklyn scene now, a neighborhood of transplants and myriad genres that share little in common aside from a 11211 postal code. Although that won’t stop the mag from framing their top pick as its focal point. After all that we’ve been through, I know you’ll guess it.

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”

Yes, Dirty Projectors at #1, maybe you’ve heard of them. If not, there’s a handy five-page profile that serves as the centerpiece of this issue’s Brooklyn-music focus, which essentially posits that Brooklyn-music’s centerpiece is the brain of David Longstreth. Or at least, that his approach and creativity is a perfect case study for the scene, but no mostly that all these Brooklyn musicans “want to be David Longstreth.” Have fun with that.

The full 40 tracks and their accompanying blurbs are laid out here. You won’t get reasoning for inclusion, it’s more about what those songs sound like in case you haven’t been reading blogs the last few years. Congratulations, Williamsburg: You’ve gone unnoticed by the internet for far too long.

Comments (97)
  1. kingzofleonluvrr_37  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    Kids? time to pretend would be one thing…
    also, golden age is the tvotr song they choose? i suppose i’m taking this too seriously. i should be happy they got #1 right.

  2. jeff  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    Samamidon – “Saro”

  3. This is a pretty terrible list.

  4. Ratso  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    A few great bands aside…the used book shops are now fancy cheese shops…thats about the extent of it…so far…

  5. punkmachine  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    Huh? No love for Santigold

  6. Considering NY Mag (and stereogum) love Sufjan and his recently released “BQE” and considering all the new songs he’s recently performed live are all over the internet, why isn’t he on here? “Too Much Love”?

  7. Frankland  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    Panda Bear – that’s kind of a stretch. Don’t they know he’s lived in Portugal for a couple of years now?

    • not only that, I’d contend that Person Pitch was sonically influenced by Portugal, making distinctly NOT the Brooklyn sound

      • If it wasn’t for the ton of samples from ’60′s records used by Noah, most of those PP songs wouldn’t exist. I’d say neither Brooklyn nor Portugal had much to so with the sound of that album…

  8. Johnny Chicago  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    Where in the hell are the Yeah Yeah Yeahs?? Y Control bitches.

    • glazzy  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

      I’m with you. How can you talk about the New York scene and not mention the YYYs?

      • Because  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

        The YYYs are a LES band. doi!

        And this is about the last couple of years. Y Control came out what? over 6 years ago?

  9. Jake  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    The Forms are missing, as are Aa and Ex Models. This is such an outsiders take on Brooklyn, but then again Stereogum got it right by writing, “…it sort of fits with what passes for the Brooklyn scene now, a neighborhood of transplants and myriad genres that share little in common aside from a 11211 postal code.”

    • Jake  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

      Oh and where the heck is Growing?!?

    • Jake  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

      …and Oneida! Agh.

    • Jake  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

      My last interjection, but where’s High Places?? Where’s Parts and Labor?? Yet ,Chairlift somehow makes this list.

    • Scum  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2009 0

      WTF? How is Brooklyn only composed of 11211? 11211 is the only zip code in all of NY that I passionately don’t want to live in. Williamsburg is full of people who think they are original and therefore cool but look down on anyone that doesn’t look exactly like them. How is that original? If bands who live in (or not really…) 11211 are what make up the “Brooklyn Scene” than I’d rather not bother…

  10. Gerardo  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    Psychic Ills is another left off the list.

  11. I have this magazine in my bag, but haven’t read it yet.

    Looks like for the most part they wanted to do a 2009 list then realized that MGMT had not released anything so they were forced to include some other songs from the recent past.

    Will bitch more thoroughly after reading the article.

  12. ko  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    You’re just as bad for posting this.

  13. NLP  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    Hipster hell

  14. Robert J.  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    Um,… Interpol?

  15. Yum Brands  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    I’m at the Pizza Hut, I’m at the Taco Bell, I’m at the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.

  16. OldManRock  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    Oh yes, Interpol! I remember them! The law of diminishing returns: each record half as good as the prior.

  17. Matt B.  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    The exclusion of DeLeon, though predictable, will one day haunt this list.

  18. mp  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    waiting for mediafire link…

  19. Dude, how could they miss The Shalitas? Fools.

  20. Matt  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    tigercity?

  21. tony  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    +1 for whoever said that ‘all my friends’ should be number one. no disrespect to dirty projectors, but, come on.

  22. Cliff  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    weird list in some places but I’m really glad they included the always underrated Japanther

  23. The members of Grizzly Bear look like strange sculpture. Just sayin’.

  24. The name of this list is: 40 Random Semi-Recent Songs by “Hipster Bands” Cause NYMag is Totally All Over the Scene.

    Too many complaints to elaborate. I’m sticking with the one-liner.

  25. Smile Away ...Ocean  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    So they get a cover…a big step up for absolutely NOTHING in the mags since for most of them album review…awful generic cover…AWFUL generic writing…their in over their heads…that’s exactly what’s so fun about them…(to be clear,I mean the mag staff)

  26. Alec  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    They put up a joke of a group Das Racist and forget people like Battles, High Places and a slew of other folks who could beat the hell out of most bands on this list… is NYM trying to make Brooklyn look bad??

  27. amf  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    All My Friends should definitely be #1, anyone who thinks differently is wrong! wrong!

  28. Wow, Vivian Girls at #7? That sucks for you, Brooklyn.

  29. How can St. Vincent, a woman from Texas, define the Brooklyn sound and not The Fiery Furnaces whom are actually from Brooklyn (sort of). This list is basically a pretentious attempt and getting indie cred. epic fail.

  30. I’m pretty sure that these lists and the list makers exist to send people over-the-edge, which seems to be working pretty well. They could have at least made it a 100-band list, though, so as not to piss too many people off.

  31. list  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    I’m pumped to see Dirty Projectors get some recognition as standouts in a pretty cluttered music scene, but all the same this list looks like a copy of “Under The Radar” (which is a bad thing).

    ?St. Vincent – Annie Clark is from Dallas. Her touring band is spread across the country, including some on the west coast.

    ?Neon Indian – This dude lives in Austin, TX — period. A girl who contributes vocals to a handful of songs lives in Brooklyn, but does that a Brooklyn band make?

    ?Animal Collective – As far as I know, these guys do not live in Brooklyn at all. They live in the Lower East Side, Portugal, and Baltimore. Maybe Deakin does, who knows!

    Growing is a painfully glaring omission. Skeletons deserve a little more cred than they get. Basically I’m just going to repeat what’s already been said: it is a shame that this list seems to largely consist of bands that moved to Brooklyn fully formed with the aim of getting famous (i.e. Bishop Allen, White Rabbits, Chairlift, and so on). By the way, who the hell is Light Asylum?

  32. Bob  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    If they didn’t “rank” the songs and instead just had the list, their picks might work. If you’re already very knowledgeable about all of these bands, no list is going to make you happy. But if you’re just a reader of NYMag without a great understanding of this particular scene, then listening to all the songs on this list would arguably give you a decent understanding of what people were talking about when they mentioned a “Brooklyn sound.”

    All that being said, anybody that remembers the hijacking and downfall of “grunge” must be having a slight feeling of deja vu right now. Are we going to see the “Brooklyn hipster look” in Walmart next fall? I know this is NYMag, but that’s how it starts.

    And following that idea, just out of morbid curiosity, if we had to pick a Coban-like leader of the Brooklyn music scene, who would it be? I don’t want anybody to off themselves, I’m just wondering if there’s an identifiable “head” of all of this.

    • APRAW  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

      I don’t know that Kurt Cobain was so much viewed as the “leader” of that imagined movement until after his death. Between the initial breakthrough of Nevermind and the guy’s death, they were just one of a pretty heaping handful of bigger names. Let’s not forget that as 1994 dawned, Pearl Jam’s stadium rock tendencies had placed them at a level of commercial popularity that Nirvana achieved only after the martyrdom of KC.

    • I do not think that the co-option of Brooklyn is akin to the packaging of the northwest in the nineteen-nineties in content, but it is glaring in intent, which probably signals the death of this whole, uh, pseudo-movement, or however you say.

      Not positive if it was NY Magazine, but I seem to remember Liars being on the cover of one of these publications, around 02 or ’03, with the whole explication of ‘Williamsburg Rock’, or ‘Generation Gentrification’ or whatever they were calling it then. Which is another band they left off, along with Rapture, Black Dice, etc.

  33. Rob S.  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    So, going by this list, I’m still confused as to what exactly the Brooklyn sound is? Because most of the stuff on here is so wildly divergent that it doesn’t constitute one “sound.” At least Seattle had neo-Sabbath guitars and garbled vocals as something of a unifying point. I mean, LCD Soundsystem is basically disco for trendy kids that grew up on punk (or like to pretend they did) while A Place to Bury Strangers offers little in the way of being danceable and owe more to the heavier side of shoegaze and then there’s Vampire Weekend who play afropop-influenced indie pop. Nothing here has a common center other than (mostly) well-dressed (and well-off) white kids living in Brooklyn, with that even being loose criteria.

    • ...  |   Posted on Nov 14th, 2009 0

      I was reading through the comments and was going to say the exact same thing if nobody else said it. I like a good deal of this list, but to suggest that many of these groups/songs have anything in common AT ALL other than geography is absurd.

  34. Once again, proud to be from the great Pacific North West.
    Still love you guys though!

  35. greg  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    the fact that this was all grouped together in a ‘scene” is unbearable

  36. Lane  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2009 0

    i’m surprised some idiot hasnt complained about the lack of radiohead…. everyone hates lists for making something seem so concrete everyone would hate/disagree w/ your list if you posted one.

  37. genevieve  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2009 0

    the best thing about that article (i read it! i was bored) was their mention of sam buck rosen who is quite good and very underrated. anyway, battles should be on that list

  38. san fran>new york>LA>seattle>  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2009 0

    haha The Drums! this list is so weak. good music, wherever it comes from, is best if appreciated without having to associate it with a “scene.” vivian girls are best when
    silent.
    New York (magazine) I love you but you’re bringin me down…

  39. Or A Gone  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2009 0

    the real sound of williamsburg is a high-end condo being built next to a shithole warehouse where some poser with obsurdly tight jeans on is singing out of tune.

    • Babylost  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2009 0

      That was the greatest comment about Brooklyn ever.

      Also, ST. Vincent AND Neon Indian are both Dallas/Denton artists. They totally did the quick move to Brooklyn to cash in on that bullshit.. and everyone fell for it apparently. Ditto with the Jay retard boy.

      I am just waiting for the Brooklyn bull shit to end… with all the label/industry peeps that are too lazy to step out of their precious “scene” or are too busy circle jerking each other off there.

  40. Robert  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2009 0

    How about one of the great bands Stereogum ever featured, School of Seven Bells? I guess they aren’t in the scene yet. Good. They’re amazing.

  41. jeff nach  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2009 0

    well, i think you forgot broken social scene..and while you may immediately think toronto, there IS A DISTINCT BROOKLYN CONNECTION!

    • devin krew  |   Posted on Nov 12th, 2009 0

      wha? I’m an NYer and love BSS and personally don’t give a shit if they have anything to do with BK but…please ellaborate. Their connection to brooklyn is merely having friends here, from what i understand. their CMJ show at the masonic temple last year was fucking incredible.

  42. Clooneytoons  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2009 0

    these comments are all brilliant Amen. this scene is so fabricated of bands who either moved here to be associated with the scene or once played or took a dump here. that’s about it. they are all well known and signed and using Brooklyn as a way to create much-needed cred.

  43. knarf  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2009 0

    my first thought too…

    • knarf  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2009 0

      that was supposed to be in reply to the question where are the hold steady?

      and further, why the hell does all of brooklyn have to be grouped in under williamsburg… makes me throw up in my mouth a little

  44. T dubbs  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2009 0

    I moved to NYC about 6 years ago, and all I keep hearing about is “the brooklyn scene”. Whatever, why does there have to be a designated “scene”? I really do not get it. Just play music. NY mag is merely trying to make a good story and write a catchy headline. And what is up with all these frickin beards in Williamsburg? Really? Everyone is a follower. Nothing is “hip” once everyone does it. Get real people. Stop trying to fit in so hard.

  45. woops. missed it.

  46. Mark  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2009 0

    What kind of list IS THIS!?? Jay Reatard is the Brooklyn sound, cmon wtf?

  47. sandinista  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2009 0

    fuck brooklyn

  48. wow, this list is fucking horrible.

  49. babylost  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2009 0

    I was directing that @ OR A GONE… you are funny!

  50. sloppy sam  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2009 0

    Brooklyn can kiss my dick.

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