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They Will Rock You

No Wave/Art Rock

Animal Collective

Sounds Like: Super-early Pink Floyd with "found sounds" from bugs and squeaky shoes on a basketball court.
Signature Lyrics: "When April passes by / she thinks of playing Bach / She tells her mother / 'I'm not afraid of dying in the bath,' " from "April and the Phantom."
Animal People: Well-known for its wild, ritualistic shows (in face paint and masks), the collective plays in varying combinations depending on its members' moods and schedules. At present, "Geologist" (Brian Weitz) is at grad school in Arizona, "Panda Bear" (Noah Lennox) is doing a solo project, and "Avey Tare" (David Portner) and "Deaken" (Josh Dibb) are preparing for their New York debut as a duo at Warsaw on October 18. "Most people think we've broken up," says Portner, "but we were just never a band."
You Guessed It: "I'd say acid was the main catalyst for our music getting weirder and weirder," says Weitz.
Up Next: Three albums are in the works, but the collective's broke, so release dates are uncertain. "We're looking for a benefactor," says Dibb. "Can you print that?"

Black Dice

Sounds Like: The Beach Boys meet Japanese art-rockers the Boredoms.
Signature Lyrics: "Wa wa wa," "Uhoh o e uhoh ah ah yi yi yiyiyiiyiyiyiyi!!!"
Punked Out: Five years ago, Black Dice was an aggressive hardcore band out of the Rhode Island School of Design known for explosively short sets and bloody stage antics. The group -- Hisham Bharoocha (drums), Bjorn Copeland (guitar), and Bjorn's younger brother, Eric (vocals) -- has since moved to Brooklyn, added Aaron Warren on bass, and morphed from hardcore to industrial trance.
A Really Live Performance: The squeaks and booms at their shows are made on the spot (no laptops here), sometimes from equipment culled from the trash.
Up Next: A five-song EP, Beaches and Canyons (October 1), followed by a tour in November. Soon, the arty band -- Bjorn, until recently, made puppets for Celebrity Deathmatch -- hopes to add videos to its live shows. "This is a lifestyle," says Warren. "We want people to dig it."

Flux Information Sciences

Sounds Like: In the group's own words, "electronic James Brown on battery acid."
Signature Lyrics: Whatever front man Tristan Bechet is shouting sounds both imperative and unwholesome.
Working For The Man (Or Trying To): Five years ago, as art students in Marseilles, Bechet (who was born in Portugal) and Sebastien Brault (who's French) had an idea -- go on tour performing "jingles" for the multinational temp agency Volt Information Sciences. They even got one foot in the door in New York: "We found ourselves in the McGraw-Hill building with the president of Volt, and we presented this proposal. It was kind of like David meets Goliath," says Bechet. Goliath didn't fall for it, so the two settled in Greenpoint and focused on music.
Tech Support: Four albums later, Bechet and Brault have added Christopher Pravdica but "cut the fat" -- i.e., guitars, bass, and drums -- in favor of two samplers, one synthesizer, and vocals. Their latest release, Private/Public, is both pounding and atmospheric yet somehow catchy. "People have said we're at our poppier stage," says Bechet.

Rap, Anti-Folk, etc.

Northern State

Sounds Like: As smart-ass as the early Beastie Boys, but more self-aware.
Signature Lyrics: "Keep my lips together and my teeth apart / Be your substitute teacher, write my rhymes on a chart," from "Dying in Stereo."
What's The 411? Armed with liberal-arts degrees and a love of Run-DMC (not to mention Joni Mitchell), these three white girls from Long Island -- D.J. Sprout, Guinea Love, and Hesta Prynn -- fuse hip-hop beats with confessional lyrics from their journals, throwing in references to Sylvia Plath and the NYPD for good measure.
So, How's The Accent? "My Long Island accent is pretty much gone -- I think," says Love. "When she was an actor, Hesta Prynn took lessons to not sound so nasal, but now she's all about embracing it. The fans love it."
Up Next: Their four-song EP, Hip-Hop You Haven't Heard, is already out; an eight-song mini-album is due October 22.

Metro Area

Sounds Like: Mutant disco played at legendary New York clubs like Paradise Garage and the Loft.
Common Ground on the Dance Floor: D.J.-producers Darshan Jesrani and Morgan Geist (a.k.a. Metro Area) struck up a friendship in 1998 after discovering that they both loved techno icons Kraftwerk, soulful disco producer James "D-Train" Williams, and Detroit techno pioneer Derrick May.
Soul of the Machine: Metro Area has fashioned a unique sound on its upcoming self-titled debut (out October 22), one that combines the orchestral feel of seventies disco with the sleek futurism of techno. "We don't have the literal-minded sensibility that informs a lot of house music, where you just sample a gorgeous old song and run with it," says Geist. "That might be good for the dance floor, but it has no lasting value."
God Isn't a D.J.: Jesrani and Geist aren't thrilled about the state of D.J. culture. "We try to censor ourselves," says Jesrani. Geist continues: "But I think we're pretty disappointed with a lot of D.J.'s, especially when they try and do live shows. It's usually just a guy playing his laptop with one finger." Metro Area's live show includes the cadre of string and horn players and guitarists featured on its debut.
Up Next: This fall, Metro Area will continue its monthly D.J.'ing residency at APT ("Party Out of Bounds"); discophobes, on the other hand, can pick up Geist's remix of the Rapture's "The House of Jealous Lovers."

BABY-FACE GOT BACK: Ben Kweller.  

Ben Kweller

Sounds Like: A cross between Pavement and Carole King -- and as Beatlesy as Wilco.
Signature Lyrics: "It's the slacker lifestyle that we do so well / Bills are due on Monday and I'm oblivious, can't you tell?" from "Commerce, TX."
Another Take: After his false start with mid-nineties band Radish (plugged as a "baby Nirvana"), Kweller's new album, Sha Sha, is a hit, and the 21-year-old has been reborn as a shaggy, baby-faced indie idol.
Brooklyn-Bound: Kweller moved to Carroll Gardens from Texas three years ago to be with his girlfriend, Liz (immortalized in the song "Lizzy"), and landed in the middle of the anti-folk scene that has also made stars of his pals the Moldy Peaches.
Comeback Kid: So how does it feel to be making a comeback when you've only just reached drinking age? "Michael Jordan, Garth Brooks . . . Maybe there were meant to be three comebacks this year," says Kweller.


Sounds Like: The sensitive-guy hardcore equivalent of Pearl Jam's "Jeremy."
Signature Lyrics: "The broken watch you gave me turns into a compass / Its two hands still point to the same time / 12:03 our last goodbye," from the MTV hit "Understanding in a Car Crash."
On the Teen Beat: Even after earning the adulation of a certain accused celebrity shoplifter and rumored millions in a major-label bidding war (Island won, and the album's due in 2003; an EP from old label Victory comes out October 22), this crew of Rutgers buddies still hangs out with fans after every show -- comforting the suicidal, listening to the demo tapes of the ambitious, and humoring the delusional. "They'll be like, 'Dude, I'm totally going to set you up with my friend. She's so hot!' " says 23-year-old singer Geoff Rickly. "And it's like, 'Okay, we're in Omaha and you're in high school, but I appreciate the thought.' "
Emo Overdrive: All the intensity is taking a toll on Rickly's health. He has always "blacked out" during performances, but lately it's been kicking in while he's driving. "It's scary," he says. "I was sitting down on a bench by the West Side Highway and I didn't realize that I'd pulled over. I'm going to the hospital for it. I don't want to be part of some dark, tragic ending of a band. I want to be a high-school English teacher by the time I'm 35."

Reported and written by Ethan Brown, Ada Calhoun, Sara Cardace, Monica Khemsurov, Tara Mandy, Deborah Shapiro, and Jada Yuan.