Smooth and soulful, yet creative, edgy and angry – New York’s unique and unparalleled character has inspired all manners of different musical dedications. From The Velvet Underground to The Talking Heads, from Blondie to Tupac, the list of New York’s musical gifts to the world is endless.
With artistic legends in all manner of genres, the Big Apple has proven a hotbed of musical talent for generations. This next batch of eager New Yorkers are hoping to take up the baton for the city that never sleeps.
Who: Julian Casablancas has described him as the “Future Prince of Anarchy”.
Sounds like: Edgy punk-driven angst on top of heavy, drum and bass beats. Signed to Cult Records, he’s only released a handful of tracks, but they’re packed with ferocious youthful angst.
For fans of: The Prodigy, Show Me The Body
Best track: ‘Take Down the House’
Who: A pair of native, born and bred New Yorkers.
Sounds like: The perfect combination of the best New York bands in history, with a modern Kurt Vile-like twist. With their dual vocals and immediately uplifting chorus, QTY is quintessential New York indie rock.
For fans of: The Velvet Underground, The Strokes
Best track: ‘Rodeo’
Who: Brooklyn-dwelling post-punk purveyors.
Sounds like: If ’70s icons Television had Instagram – we’re certain they’d sound as sardonic and vital as this bunch do.
For fans of: Television, Parquet Courts
Best track: ‘How Did This Happen!?’
Who: Mysterious balaclava wearing producer from New Jersey.
Sounds like: Dark, brooding electro-pop. Combining equal parts psychedelic textures and dance-worthy beats. The music produced is as murky and obscure as its creator’s true identity.
For fans of: Mount Kimbie, SBKTRKT
Best track: ‘Phospholipid’
Nation of Language
Who: Brooklyn-based new wave revivalists.
Sounds like: An absolute blast. There’s elements of bands like New Order, Bruce Springsteen and OMD in there, but songs like ‘Reality’ and ‘I’ve Thought About Chicago’ give it a thoroughly modern edge.
For fans of: Bleachers, New Order
Best track: ‘I’ve Thought About Chicago’
Who: Psych-soul invention of an adopted New Yorker.
Sounds like: Shimmering soundscapes drifting along effortlessly, for harking back to afternoons lazing around on sandy coastlines. Think carefree, summery vibes.
For fans of: The Beach Boys, Real Estate
Best track: ‘Keeping U In Line’
Who: Teenage MC who moved to the Big Apple in 2014.
Sounds like: Downbeat and direct rap verse, over hazy soulful beats and typically underground New York style lounge piano. An eclectic mix of his London and New York upbringing.
For fans of: Earl Sweatshirt, WIKI, Isaiah Rashad
Best track: ‘God’s With Me’
Who: Pop icon-in-waiting who has already received co-signs from Mark Ronson and Harry Styles.
Sounds like: Emotionally-charged pop, but with a stylish and witty edge. Take ‘Upper West Side’, a love song about forbidden love – not because there are barriers, she just doesn’t like them that much.
For fans of: Harry Styles, Years & Years
Best track: ‘Upper West Side’
Who: Harlem rapper who, in his own words, wants to be the first rapper/model/NBA Star/Nobel Prize Winner in history.
Sounds like: Bouncing, brooding hip-hop with trap sensibilities – all of which are secondary to his vibrant, explosive personality.
For fans of: Travis Scott, Lil Gnar
Best track: ‘Mo Bamba’
Who: Soul troupe bringing an old-school sound into the modern era.
Sounds like: If Studio 54 was revived for one night only, we’d want this gang to open things up with their groovy basslines and intoxicating choruses.
For fans of: Donna Summer, Chic
Best track: ‘Terrorize My Heart’
Words by Thomas Smith and Kai Feltham