Yesterday the NYC-set festival New Colossus announced set times for the event’s second year, noting when and in which Lower East Side venue the previously shared list of artists would be performing on the eve of SXSW. Firmly planting themselves last year as an indie response to the headline-obsessed festival industry, this year’s five-day lineup features another dense list of artists unrecognizable to most festival-going crowds, positing a stress-free experience for anyone tired of having to choose between Billie Eilish and Brockhampton every night.
With the notable inclusion of noise icons A Place to Bury Strangers this year, it seems like NC may be opening up to the idea of including household-name acts to their lineup—assuming your household’s religious affinity for The Jesus and Mary Chain—though most of the rest of the bands remain obscure. For a little guidance on the weekend’s festivities, we’ve compiled a list of five additional artists you may not wanna miss.
With The Strokes definitively proving that guitar rock is still cool, the stage is set in 2020 for a post-punk-revival revival, which could only be led by Scotland’s Catholic Action. Their late-2019 single “One of Us” sounds as inspired by fellow Scots Franz Ferdinand as Franz Ferdinand sounded inspired by Talking Heads (David Byrne was born in Scotland—coincidence?), while the first single from their forthcoming Celebrated by Strangers fits more tidily into the James Murphy storyline of Meet Me in the Bathroom. In both cases, though, their sect of Catholicism is more fun than it has any business being.
halfsour fits into Massachusetts’ tradition of raw, ’90s-sourced grunge commodified by people who tolerate—and possibly even love—pop music, a scene that’s been widely known to the rest of the country since Major Arcana scored Best New Music in 2013. With slightly less power and a bit more pop than Speedy Ortiz, last year’s Sticky is shockingly pleasant in spite of its frequently over-assertive guitars. Tracks like “Blurred Camera Phone” almost sound like they could be karaoked by the pained rasp of Kurt Cobain in place of Zoë Wyner’s palatable lilt, while the moodier “Paper Window” sounds like the output of a band too shy to approach Kim Deal after her set.
The perfect salve for your permanently damaged eardrums following another deafening set by APTBS, Kaley Honeycutt’s paradoxical brand of guitar pop manages to harness West Coast surf vibes while conveying a calm shoreline sans any sign of crashing waves. The singles from her forthcoming Coasting—which she’ll be releasing mid-Colossus—posit the record will bridge the gap between the dreamy introversion of Lala Lala and the psychedelic surf of La Luz as the songwriter evolves from her lo-fi debut.
If I say something about Tunic being the best Canadian noise rock band, I know our non-existent replies are gonna blow up with references to METZ and Japandroids and PUP and Preoccupations—I know, I know. But Tunic is the best Canadian noise rock band. If this wasn’t true before February 8, 2019, it was true without a doubt after Complexion’s release date, when eleven completely unruly, mostly hoarse—and, at their best, eerily sax-backed—Condominium tributes were let loose upon the world. It’s a relentless twenty-two-minute panic attack that makes those other bands sound like Avril Lavigne in comparison.
Water From Your Eyes holds the unique distinction of being the resident dance-music duo signed to a label renowned for their consistency in churning out remarkable records that almost exclusively fall under the same specific sub-category of punk. In place of the two-minute, guitar-heavy, self-deprecating rock found throughout Exploding in Sound’s discography, WFYE serves up the type of five-plus minute electronic track you could easily get lost in, emerging out of a hypnotic state when the seven-minute “Bad in the Sun” transitions into the sparse acoustic-guitar epilogue to close out last year’s Somebody Else’s Song.