President-elect Barack Obama was the key note speaker at the 2008 Wesleyan Commencement - passing on valuable advice...
...and blessing a new crop of Brooklyn bands! 2008 brought MGMT and Santogold to the pop culture limelight and 2009 has the chance to be an even bigger year for the New England university. Fader Magazine, the current de facto guide to cool, recently profiled the university's music scene and the numerous internet buzz bands nurtured by co-ed dorms and naked parties.
Not to say that the influx of Wesleyan bloodlines into the experimental music scene should come as a surprise. This is the same university that previously boasted the best acid labs in the country, employs experimental jazz pioneer Anthony Braxton as a professor, and is the alma mater of hip hop impresario Bobbito Garcia.
Here are four Wesleyan acts you should keep an eye out for in 2009.
Boy Crisis -
Pitchfork Media (a site known for being able to make or break a new act) referred to Boy Crisis as, "the absolute worst band in the world" and as "hipster douchebags". As any respectable hipster douchbag would - Boy Crisis has reveled in this press. (Don't you know hating on hipsters only makes them stronger!!!) They were recently signed by "B-Unique Records" and are currently working on their first album.
Amazing Baby -
Amazing Baby has gained the reputation (not always a good one) as Brooklyn's resident rockers. Part of the hate comes from the theory that their buzz is directly related to their close friendship with MGMT (they recently toured Europe together). Bottom line is - Mark Ronson is a fan and you should be too. You can download their EP, "Infinite Fucking Cross" on their website.
Francis and the Lights -
Francis and the Lights, led by Francis Farewell Starlite, combine an undeniable 80's pop/funk sound with an incredibly eccentric and engaging stage show. They have released 2 separate 5 song EPs via Jakob Lodwick's Normative Music Company. They recently announced the incorporation of Francis and the Lights, LLC - following Lodwick's internet start-up model rather than signing to a major record label - so expect more from them very soon.
Bear Hands -
Despite having their guitar player still attend Wesleyan, Bear Hands has been gaining airplay the old fashion way - hard work...and lots of touring. Lead singer Dylan Rau's voice has an infectious ability to get you moaning along with him even if you don't know any of the words. They start touring Europe with 2008 darlings Passion Pit in mid February.
Honorable Mention - 2 for 2010.
Bottle Up And Go -
Bottle Up And Go play a refreshingly raw throwback whiskey style rock. They are still at Wesleyan, apparently can't keep their shirts on, and are the current must have band if you are throwing a good Wesleyan party.
Das Racist -
Forgoing the seriousness typically associated with rap, Das Racist's electro-hop sound and hilariously catchy lyrics will leave their songs in your head for days. They are new to the scene but have already garnered a cult following.