From Seattle and L.A. to Chicago and Nashville, down to Atlanta and back up to Philadelphia, we asked some handpicked curators for their must-hear bands this summer. The always reliable Filter magazine touts L.A.’s indie-pop up-and-comers, Philly’s music guide 215Mag gives us a band to cuddle, and Atlanta’s alt-weekly Creative Loafing recommends the second coming of The Cure. To round it out, we’ve got Seattle surf rock from the label that brought you Nirvana, a rising Chicago MC from the influential Fake Shore Drive, and the powerful voice of a Nashville newbie.
The six work together with Red Bull Sound Select, a new music platform that encourages fans to throw digital love behind their favorite acts. On the weekend of July 26-28, their picks will command stages in 10 cities across America (including these six).
For more info and gig locations for Red Bull Sound Select Presents 10
Stages, click on over to www.redbullsoundselect.com
BY ALAN SARTIRANA, FILTER MAGAZINE
HANDS have a sound that is all their own but can be likened to other dancier indie-pop bands like Passion Pit or even The Flaming Lips at times -- but less psychedelic. Their label, Kill Rock Stars, is one of our all-time favorites, having released some timeless, iconic indie records by Elliott Smith, The Thermals, Unwound, Kathleen Hanna, and countless others.
Live, HANDS bring their dance element to full effect with rhythmic loops and keys that will get the coolest of hipster kids to bob their heads and shake their asses. The guys fit right in with the Silver Lake indie-rock aesthetic, rocking their jeans and Chuck Taylors to their gigs and in daily life. HANDS’ debut full-length album, Synesthesia, hit in late April, and we expect them to do big things.
THEY LOOK LIKE: East side Los Angeles indie hipsters without the bad attitude.
THEY SOUND LIKE: Amazing beats and great vocal melodies, with great grooving basslines that might remind some of The Smiths.
FOR FANS OF: Passion Pit, The Flaming Lips, Good Music.
THEIR STAGE PRESENCE IS LIKE: Full of energy. Singer Geoff Halliday gets into the groove and gets the dance party going.
Throw ’em up @handssounds
Simply good taste @FILTERmagazine
CUDDLE MAGIC (PHILADELPHIA)
BY TAYYIB SMITH, 215 MAG
FOLK ROCK FOR THE MASSES AND THE LONERS -- AND, OF COURSE, THE COOL KIDS.
I only caught the end of Cuddle Magic the first time I saw them. But after their last song, I went straight to the back of the room and bought a T-shirt and a CD. I felt like I was in eighth grade again. Very rarely do you see such a gifted group of individuals who can play multiple instruments, sing, and songwrite the way this folk-rock group does. In an age where everyone is a solo performer with a mediocre laptop stage show, it’s refreshing to see musicians who could shine on their own, and come together as a collective.
What’s so interesting is that listeners can never anticipate what’s coming next. One minute you’re only hearing one voice against one rhythm, and then all of a sudden you’re surprised by these remarkable waves of vocal harmony over multiple rhythmic patterns. I think that’s why their crowds are always so diverse. I also like that they’re an indie band, but I find something reminiscent of hip-hop in the flow of how they deliver lyrics, pauses, and inflections along with punch lines in their songs.
Their quirky charm identifies with the masses, quirky loners, and cool kids. When attending their shows, you can almost always expect a diverse crowd. When I listen to songs like “Moby Dickless” and “Baby Girl” from their album Info Nympho, I can’t help but be drawn to the delicate vocals and dense wordplay.
Cuddle Magic pleasantly surprised me. I was taken aback by my attraction to them because I come from a hip-hop, dance-music background; I never expected to be so drawn to them. Their experimental sound resonated with me, and I truly appreciate that.
THEY LOOK LIKE: The cook from the Standard Tap, a bus boy from Honey’s, a bartender at Silk City, and the waitress at Johnny Brenda’s. They basically look like a Fishtown, Northern Liberties all-star band with a bike messenger from West Philly who plays shows when he can.
THEY SOUND LIKE: An audio interpretation of the book Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
THEIR STAGE SHOW IS LIKE: A jam session with the family from The Royal Tenenbaums -- without Danny Glover.
Brotherly love @cuddlemagic
How Philly gets down @215mag
MOOD RINGS (ATLANTA)
BY CHAD RADFORD, CREATIVE LOAFING
DREAMY MUSIC FOR THE EARLY MORNING HOURS.
Mood Rings were around for a very short time, maybe just a couple of months, before they had developed a reputation around town as being a really good live band. I knew the group’s members and had seen them all play in their various high school bands, but when I finally made it out to a Mood Rings show, I was really struck by how different they were.
The singer is this tall, sort of awkward guy named Will Fussell, and his stage presence instantly reminded me of the first time I saw The Cure. He’s kind of like a blond Robert Smith. I’m not talking about the Goth part -- Aqua Net and red lipstick smeared across his chin -- but the side of Robert Smith that is as feminine as it is masculine, and as awkward as he is refined. The group creates a dreamy, almost morose rock sound, and it’s definitely a good soundtrack for a 3:30 a.m. kind of vibe. It’s a really rich, lush, slow sound. But for how slow-moving each song can be, the moment they create is always really intense.
As it is with any local post-punk or indie-rock scene, you’ll see a lot of young guys in bands who really pour a lot of spastic energy and abandon into making sloppy, three-chord garage rock, and that’s great. It’s what young men are supposed to do. But when Mood Rings get on stage I get the feeling that this is more about drawing out a moment. They have a grasp on what they want to do, which is something that a lot of young musicians don’t have.
THEY LOOK LIKE: They look like thrift-store cowboys
THEY SOUND LIKE: The Cure circa the Disintegration album
THEIR STAGE PRESENCE IS LIKE: They’re in their head space when they’re onstage -- spacey, but not flighty, and they do tend to draw a lot of early 20s indie-rock ladies at their shows.
The right tone @mood_rings
Dialed in Atlanta @cl_atlanta
LA LUZ (SEATTLE)
BY TONY KIEWEL, SUB POP RECORDS
TIGHT VOCAL HARMONIES AND KILLER GUITAR RIFFS: SURFER GARAGE ROCK TO KEEP THE FEET MOVING.
It’s difficult to talk about a surf garage-rock band without invoking Beach Blanket Bingo and ’50s Tiki bar nostalgia (and make no mistake, Seattle’s La Luz are in fact very clearly a surf garage-rock band).
When these four ladies take the stage it’s apparent there’s more going on than your typical Ventures-worshipping genre exercise. For starters, there’s not a single Hawaiian shirt or bouffant hairdo in the mix. Once they start playing, my attention is irretrievably grabbed by lead singer and guitarist Shana Cleveland’s seriously killer guitar chops.
Really, though, there’s not a weak link in the bunch. They’re able to nail classic girl-group harmonies without missing a beat. Despite their name translating to “the light,” there is a darker undercurrent to a lot of their songs. Yet more often than not, you’ll feel like dancing. And the band isn’t the least bit shy about encouraging that. The night I see them, Shana successfully splits a club full of people right down the center of the room, with the audience taking turns dancing down the newly created channel. Having split the sea of at least one Seattle audience, one can only imagine where La Luz will lead their people next.
THEY LOOK LIKE: The cool kids in your art class. Not the Gothy ones, the fun ones.
THEY SOUND LIKE: The Shangri-Las with Link Wray on lead guitar.
THEIR STAGE SHOW IS LIKE: A party where every guest is your best friend.
Tasty waves @La_Luz_Band
Northwestern lights @subpop
BY ANDREW BARBER, FAKE SHORE DRIVE
COME FOR THE RHYMES, STAY FOR THE LIVE-SHOW CHAOS.
In a game where image is everything, proclaiming that you suck in your job description could be potential career suicide. The good news? Show definitely doesn’t suck. The better news? He’s one of the freshest new MCs on the planet.
Hailing from Chicago’s wild, wild West Side, ShowYouSuck is unlike any of the rappers who’ve recently broken through from Chicago’s red-hot hip-hop scene. While rappers like Chief Keef and King Louie come to mind when thinking of the new faces of Windy City rap, ShowYouSuck has a different appeal, a different message, a different look and a different sound that now has his name ringing across the country. Many of the Chi’s recent rap success stories focus their content on the violent side of the city, while ShowYouSuck is all about having a good time.
Part Sex Pistols mixed with elements of Gucci Mane, Kool Keith and a Kanye West sense of humor, Show mixes many elements of music that probably shouldn’t go together -- but somehow pulls it off.
His live sets are now the stuff of legend in the Chi, incorporating everything from live beat-making to next-level turntablism, and even has a hype man with a high-top fade who litters the crowd with toilet paper (what up Auggie The 9th?). Spin magazine named his performance at 120 Hours in Austin among their 50 Best Things We Saw At SXSW 2013.
HE LOOKS LIKE: The leader of a motorcycle gang.
HE SOUNDS LIKE: A Tribe Called Quest meets Danny Brown meets Beavis and Butthead.
HIS STAGE SHOW IS LIKE: A clusterf*ck of wonderful. Toilet paper, moshing, sweat, and mayhem.
Dropping beats @ShowYouSuck
Windy City hip-hop @fakeshoredrive
ALANNA ROYALE (NASHVILLE)
BY MIKE GRIMES, GRIMEY’S NEW & PRE-LOVED MUSIC/THE BASEMENT
POWERED BY A LEAD SINGER WITH SERIOUS PIPES, ALANNA ROYALE ARE TAKING ON BONNAROO.
What do you do when you have the dubious honor or duty of following Paramore, arguably the biggest band in the world on Record Store Day in the back parking lot of Grimey’s? In Alanna Royale’s case you start a party and make a shit ton of new friends and fans. Alanna Royale have come out of the chute since their debut performance at The Basement’s New Faces Nite 10 months ago, providing the measuring stick for Nashville-based R&B/Funk/Party bands.
Fronted by singer Alanna Quinn-Broadus, Alanna Royale are a seven-piece force of a band and they love to get sweaty. Quinn-Broadus is the consummate frontperson and knows that being a great singer is but a part of what it takes to bring it. Constantly pumping the energy of the crowd, she scours folks for opportunities to connect.
Quinn-Broadus moved to Nashville from Boston in the last year and a half after a less-than-perfect record-deal scenario and was a little shy to jump back on the horse until all was perfect. But I knew she was ready and coaxed her into a 20-minute set at the Basement last June. They knocked it out of the park the first show with a precise four-song soiree that drew 75-plus peeps, no mean feat!
They released their Bless Her Heart EP in January with a CD-release show at The Basement that broke all attendance records and was the biggest night in the club’s history. Unthinkable after only six months of gigs.
Continued gigging and securing a slot at Bonnaroo Festival has squarely put Alanna Royale as one of THE acts to seek out in 2013. Who knows what else these f*ckers have up their sleeves.
THEY LOOK LIKE: A chick and a bunch of dudes who could show you the time of your life, or beat the crap out of you.
THEY SOUND LIKE: Amy Winehouse had she stayed alive and kept her shit together.
THEIR STAGE SHOW IS LIKE: Chitlin Circuit Party, circa 1972.
Give it up for @alannaroyale
Check out the July 2013 issue of Red Bulletin magazine (on newsstands June 11) for more articles. To read the magazine on your iPad, download the Red Bulletin iPad app. Follow Red Bulletin on Twitter for more.