The best music you haven’t heard of…yet.
Big Black Delta
The rather ominously named Big Black Delta is the solo project of L.A.-based musician Jonathan Bates, who previously played in festival favorite M83 and the indie-rock band Mellowdrone. His self-titled debut was a clever mix of pop, electro and old-school new-wave and was one of 2013’s more underrated releases, but the songs on his sophomore effort, Tragame Tierra, ratchet up the keyboards and computer programming to 11. “Steer the Canyon” sounds as if was lifted directly from an ’80s movie montage where the protagonist is training for the big game, while “Kid Icarus” is a make-out ballad that sees Bates’ vocoder-laced voice drowning in a sea of synths and big beats. And as if the 80s influences weren’t blatant enough, lead single “RCVR” features guest vocals from Long Island’s own 80s queen Debbie Gibson. Hopefully she’ll make an appearance at BBD’s May 11 performance at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn.
A native of Orange County, New York, Kelsey Byrne (who performs under the name Vérité) remains unsigned and under-the-radar despite appearances at Lollapolooza and South By Southwest. The indie-pop songstress released the nice primer EP Sentiment last year, which features the epic, Sia-esque single “Colors” and the anthemic club jam, “Wasteland.” It was a nice enough introduction to the singer, but it’s her new single, “Underdressed,” which will hopefully serve as her grand coming out party. A striking and expletive-filled kiss-off to a former lover, the song has that oh-so-catchy type of chorus that readers will likely hear teenage girls screaming along to from their cars. Or they could very well be singing along with her in person when Vérité plays Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn on May 18.
Light Upon the Lake
Chicago’s Smith Westerns were all the rage about five years ago thanks to their rather refreshing millennial take on glam and indie-rock. The band broke up in late 2014 just when it seemed like they were really picking up steam, and while frontman Cullen Omori’s solo album has received a lot of attention since its March release, the rest of the band (guitarist Max Kakacek, drummer Julien Ehrlich and keyboardist Ziyad Asrar) have gone on to form Whitney. The band is unique if only for the fact that Ehrlich both plays drums and sings, but it’s the musical 180 from glam hooks to folky, around-the-campfire singalongs that has a lot of music fans wondering if they were the real talent in the Smith Westerns. The woodsy vid for “No Woman” serves as a nice introduction to the band’s sound, while “Golden Days” and their cover of Allen Toussaint’s “Southern Nights” is the stuff summertime road trip soundtracks are made of. Make the trip to Brooklyn on June 3 to see them live at, once again, Baby’s All Right.