Four local bands you have to be listening to

by Kat Mallary ’17

Assistant Arts Editor

You Won’t

Best if you like The Lumineers

“You Won’t” is a Boston-based duo, consisting of Josh Arnoudse and Raky Sastri. The two have been friends since 1999, and make folksy indie rock that sounds like the best and most interesting moments of The Lumineers, or Mumford and Sons if they were interested in being friends with you. They write the kind of music that seems delightfully obvious, that makes you wonder why you didn’t write it first. But that’s part of the genius of “You Won’t” – they did write it first, and they wrote it impeccably. Their brand of indie-folk is the kind that people will keep listening to, even after people stop using “Ho Hey” in TV commercials and movie trailers.

The two have found success on tour, opening for other notable artists, including The Joy Formidable, The Antlers, Josh Ritter and The Lumineers.

Listen to: “Television.” It’ll have you clapping your hands along, wishing you were sitting around a campfire. “Dance Moves” is also so well done, and catchy-fuzzy, that it’ll make you feel cooler just by listening – especially because it sounds just the tiniest bit like Neutral Milk Hotel’s sleazy cousin.

SWF

Best if you like The Black Keys (and want hear music by their hippie counterpart) or if you just wish you’d been at Woodstock

There’s more than just the Russell Brand doppelganger that meets the eye. Steve Weinstein-Foner (who records music under his initials, SWF) has a Facebook page that reads “TRUTH – LOVE – FREEDOM; we’re about to f**ck up your unhappiness.” And it’s true. His music is the happiest folky-blues-rock you’ve ever read. SWF is where hippie meets hipster (“Hey turtle brain, sparrow eyes, purple haze; you came, like a wave, into a desert praying for rain.”) SWF’s music alternates between bluesy fuzz (in the vein of “Everlasting Light” by the Black Keys) and folksy, hazy tunes that sound like something out of your dad’s best days as a hippie. It’s hard to believe that “Hey Turtlebrain” wasn’t actually played at Woodstock. The unsubtle “Purple Haze” reference would have been tacky in almost any other context.

What’s so great about SWF? First, there’s the chance to put some more ‘flower child’ in your day without actually listening to anything old. (Really, though. He performs in bare feet.) Second, there’s a chance to enjoy the lo-fi blues-rock trend without listening to anything unpleasant. Finally, between the ambient musicality, warm energy, and transcendent lyrics, SWF will definitely take you away from your unhappiness.

Listen to: “Black and Golden,” “Let it be Told,” and “Hey Turtlebrain.”

As the Sparrow

Best if Mumford & Sons is too mainstream for you but you wanted something more consistent than Sufjan Stevens.

Yes, they are Quirky with a capital Q. And there’s no doubting they’re from Boston: their website reads: “Our favorite time of the year is upon us. Sweatah weathah and pumpkin beyahs ked are what us Sparrows are all about.” They were voted Best Live Artist of 2013 by Salem State University.  This band – a sextet – has the swinging energy of 1940s big-band music, as well as the down-hominess of 1960s folk.

Their debut album, “Porch Step Songs” was released in July 2013, and you can only commend them for the title. Listening to it, you can imagine them standing on the porch of a rambling clapboard house, playing their music enthusiastically while girls in gingham dresses with collars dance along.

Listen to: “Something to Talk About” – every good folk band needs to lead off with some rollicking fiddle music. Also, “The Machine,” because who doesn’t enjoy four different tempos in one song. It may sound composite, but it’s artistic and very listenable. “Showbiz Town” is a little bit of musical jazz hands with a haunting undertone.

Bent Shapes

Best if you like: Broken Social Scene; Matt & Kim

Do you ever make fun of how ridiculously over-educated Boston seems sometimes? Good, so do Bent Shapes – a great band that’s a little too smart for their own good. (“Negative hippie’s got his finger on the pulse of Boston, he’s hot on false positives and mop-headed co-eds.)

Bent Shapes is a trio of Ben Potrykus (guitars, vocals), Supriya Gunda (bass, vocals), and Andy Sadoway (drums, vocals.) They’re all about post-punk, and are easy for almost anyone to like. Their music hops and bounces between wordy, thoughtful lyrics (“I’m not saying you need some deep-seated hatred of self…but it helps.), jangly guitar, and too-light-for punk drums. Tracks like “Behead Yourself, pt. 2” are upbeat and modern, whereas “Leave it ‘til You Need it” seems more proto-punk/retro – should have been playing at some beach café in a movie or your dream.

Listen to: “Bent Shapes, Pt. 2” to get hooked at first. It’s a great track, which it nice because it’ll be in your head for the next five or ten years after you hear it. Ridiculously catchy. Same goes for “Leave it ‘til You Need It.”Check out “Brat Poison” if you have a sense of humor.

Honorable Mention: Bishop Allen

Okay, so maybe Bishop Allen is from Brooklyn and not Boston. But the two founding members, Justin Rice and Paul Rudder, met at Harvard, where they were DJs on WHB’s punk/indie station. Their band’s name comes from “Bishop Allen Drive,” in Cambridge – a street many a Wellesley student has likely crossed in their wanderings around MIT.  Rice and Rudder constitute the core of the band, and are joined on their recordings by miscellaneous musical collaborators.  Some of Bishop Allen’s most notable projects include releasing an EP for each month of the year in 2006, beginning with a story about a discarded piano they “rescued” from the street. (The resulting song, “Corazon,” is beautiful.)

Listen to: Everything they’ve ever produced. But start with “Oklahoma,” “The Chinatown Bus,” and, if you’re studying or trying to wind down before finals, “Bishop Allen Drive.”

Kat Mallary is a first-year from New York City and Vermont currently trying to major in everything. She also rides for the Wellesley Equestrian Team and reads too many books about English grammar. 

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