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New Rock City

16 hot bands that are changing the New York soundscape.


Tough and dirty: Mepris, Mike Skinner, Spencer Product, and John McLean of Black Moustache  

Black Moustache
Sounds like: Self-conscious punk rock with a cool electro residue and art- world aspirations.
Name game: “It just sounds tough, dirty, sleazy, and ridiculous, and those are all things that inspired the music,” says former Luxx D.J. (and, as Prance, electro star) Spencer Product, the front man.
Electro-schmectro: “I’m not a jaded person, so I’m not going to say, ‘That’s over, man!’ ” Product says about the electroclash scene he was once at the center of. “But if you hear of anything,” he cracks, “let me know.”
Up next: A debut album of sexy, nightclub-ready rock is out this week on Lakeshore Records; a limited-edition twelve-inch will follow.

Sounds like: The ultra-atmospheric soundtrack to a moody indie flick about frustrated love.
With a little help from my friends: Andy Chase, formerly of nineties indie-pop darlings Ivy (the “other” band of Fountains of Wayne singer Adam Schlesinger), is Brookville’s only member. But plenty of his rock-star friends, like ex–Smashing Pumpkin James Iha and Danny Wienkauf of They Might Be Giants, helped out on the debut album, Wonderfully Nothing, released last month through Chase’s label, Unfiltered.
Up next: Currently opening for English duo Goldfrapp.

Danger Mouse and Jemini
Sound like: Ass-shaking hip-hop party tracks with edgier-than-Neptunes beats.
Party people: Ghetto Pop Life, just out on Lex Records, features collaborations with hip-hop legends Tha Liks and the Pharcyde. “I kept bugging them and sending them beats,” says producer Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse. “I knew this was going to be a party record—something that didn’t take itself so seriously. They are certainly two groups who represent that.”
Cornering the market: “Originally, this record was going to be half instrumental, with different M.C.’s on four or five tracks,” says Burton. He’d given Brooklyn lyricist Jemini four beats and told him to pick one. Jemini wrote lyrics to all four. “You can’t believe what he does over a regular hip-hop beat. It’s so unexpected.” Before he knew it, Jemini was on every track.

Dopo Yume
Sounds like: Pulp-y Brit crooning with a cheeky pop sensibility.
The stars come out: Early guest appearances by luminaries like Sean Lennon and Bijou Phillips put them on the local map. These days, they pack venues like Pianos and Bowery Ballroom.
Catching a break: “We were supposed to open up for Rooney, who were opening up for Ween at the Stone Pony,” says singer-guitarist Jordan Galland. “But then Ween asked us to open for them the next day, and we played in front of an audience of maybe 1,500 or 2,000 people. So we got to play two shows and stay in Asbury Park, New Jersey, which is this creepy, weird place.”

The Fever
Sounds like: Pounding, organ-backed guitars tie early punk, garage, and new wave into one explosive package. “Madonna meets Motörhead,” the band insists.
Joining forces: “There’s a kung fu movie with one armless guy and one legless guy fighting bad guys. They can’t do it alone, but together they’re unbeatable,” says Geremy Jasper of how he and uni-named partner Sanchez started the Fever. “I couldn’t get anything done, and he couldn’t sing.”
Say what? The Fever’s lyrics may be stunningly eloquent, but Jasper’s slurred delivery makes them impossible to comprehend. He intends to reform in time for the debut full-length, which he’s now writing. “I’m either printing the lyrics,” he vows, “or taking enunciation classes!”

The Fiery Furnaces
Sound like: Hauntingly pretty rock songs, alternately danceable and wistful, hypnotically sung/spoken Patti Smithishly. “We’re spastically bluesy,” they say with pride.
Who they are: Gloomy, sardonic, dark-eyed brother and sister Eleanor and Matt Friedberger, from Oak Park, Illinois.
Sibling rivalry: Matt on Eleanor: “Back when I never saw her, I thought she was pleasant and responsible and unpretentious. Now that we’re in the studio together all the time, I think she’s useless and boring.” Surely it’s performance art when Matt spits out, “But you don’t necessarily try hard, do you, Eleanor?” as she’s about to cry? “I wish it were performance art,” says a dejected Eleanor.
Up next: Their album Gallowsbird’s Bark is out September 23 on Rough Trade.

The Flesh
Sounds like: Stuttering, Birthday Party–esque garage rock with synth beats and a dark, dramatic R&B groove.
Dark and horny: “Hip-hop is what rock ’n’ roll is supposed to be—it’s funky but with a dark riff moving through it,” says singer-guitarist Nathan Halpern, whose year-old band drew on hip-hop’s spirit as much as punk’s to craft its sound. “Outkast, the Neptunes—they reflect the same interests I have in minor-key, dark, Kurt Weill stuff and horny, Stooges-like stuff.”
Disclaimer: Halpern cautions that the Flesh “doesn’t do pastiche”—it’s no rap-rock-fusion act—but its thematic obsession with “sex and death” has merely found a subtle inspiration in the world of Cristal and bling-bling.

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