An artistic hotspot since the 1970’s, New York has given birth to more musical icons than there are cities in the world. Brooklyn- the most populated of the five boroughs with over 2.5 million residents- has always been the city’s cultural heart. Here we present 10 of the borough’s finest musical exports.
1. LCD Soundsystem
As the headline act at practically every major festival of the summer (Coachella, Bonaroo, Primavera), LCD Soundsystem have a genuine claim as not just the biggest act from New York City, but of the world. With three trailblazing, genre-defining albums LCD Soundsystem’s return will be continue with a much anticipated new album in 2016.
2. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
Since releasing her 2002 debut album at the age of 40, “the female James Brown” has since released seven albums, countless singles, appeared in films with Denzel Washington, been the subject of her own documentary (2015’s Give The People What They Want), collaborated with David Byrne, Fatboy Slim and Lou Reed, and travelled the world blowing minds with her modern take on deep funk and authentic soul
Inspired by the rhythms of Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 and New York’s own Latin funk luminary Eddie Palimeri, Antibalas (Spanish for “bulletproof”) take the traditional drumming from Cuba and West Africa and blend it with jazz, funk, and dub to create only the deepest of grooves. A multicultural funk explosion, members of the band have collaborated with a who’s who of contemporary music- Patti Smith, Ornette Coleman, Amy Winehouse, TV On The Radio, The Roots, Iron and Wine, The Black Keys, and more, most notably providing the hook to Mark Ronson’s 2015 mega-hit “Uptown Funk”.
Blending Latin rhythms, the energy of rock and the history of black music- from gospel and jazz to doo wop, soul and funk- Mandrill’s extensive back catalogue continues to inspire modern beat-makers, having been sampled by everyone from Kanye West, DJ Shadow, 9th Wonder and Eminem.
5. Funky Four + 1
Fronted by female MC Sha Rock and the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff, Funky Four + 1 arrived straight from the Bronx and became the first hip hop act to perform on television (Saturday Night Live, hosted by fellow NYC resident Debbie Harry of Blondie), and the first to sign a recording deal. Despite never recording an album, Funky Four + 1 are considered one of the most important hip hop acts in history.
6. Dirty Projectors
Taking in acoustic folk, modern R&B, experimental pop, and everything in between- including collaborations with fellow NYC native David Byrne of Talking Heads and electronic eccentric Bjork- Dirty Projectors’ seven albums are as diverse as the city it is born from.
7. Dawn of Midi
Currently jet-setting around the world as the handpicked support act for Radiohead, Dawn of Midi mutilate the traditional jazz three piece (acoustic piano, drums, upright bass) to craft propulsive rhythmic exercises that wouldn’t sound out of place on the dancefloors of Berlin
8. Grizzly Bear
Once said to be Johnny Greenwood’s favourite band, Grizzly Bear began their career wrapping delicate melodies in a similar atmospheric, electronic sheen that much of Radiohead’s work encapsulates. Also earning a golden ticket as a support act for the UK giants, Grizzly Bear’s 2013 release saw the band forge ahead with their most adventurous record to date
9. DIIV – Dopamine
Starting life as a solo project for Zachary Cole Smith, DIIV’s self-produced 2011 debut Oshin made many critics’ end-of-year list, before the band be became mired failed recording sessions, line-up changes, drug addiction, and seemingly endless related controversies. Rising above the challenges, long-awaited follow- up Is This Is Are is an immersive album that builds on Oshin’s evocative, dream-pop template.
Praised for his “unique and subversive musical and performance styles”, LE1f first came to prominence producing music for hip-hop group Das Racist, before stepping up to the mic for 2015’s critically acclaimed debut “Riot Boi”. Says Pitchfork: “If LE1f’s career has thus far been about breaking glass ceilings as a queer black rapper, then Riot Boi shows us a trailblazer sitting down among these cracked shards of glass, reckoning what it means to have come first”
11. TV On The Radio
For many, TV On The Radio is the quintessential Brooklyn band. The indie rock heavyweights (led by vocalist Tunde Adebimpe and celebrated producer Dave Sitek) have released 5 albums, collaborating with some of the world’s biggest names including Trent Reznor, and the late David Bowie. With Wolf Like Me, TV On The Radio penned one of the biggest hits of the last two decades.
12. Sufjan Stevens
Few artists in the world command as devoted a following as singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens. Beginning his career with sparse, heart-wrenching folk ballads before moving through lo-fi pop, electronic experiments, a “symphonic and cinematic exploration of New York City’s Brooklyn-Queens express way” (and beyond), Sufjan is an ambitious artist exploring personal and political themes with a poignant touch and a sense of humour.