Top bands of Popfest 2013
It is tempting, perhaps even redundant, to paint the indie-pop community as one grand “Portlandia” parody, rife with print dresses, thick glasses and reticent souls. But like any seemingly insular genre, from death metal to krautrock, its relative obscurity is what binds the like-minded — turning strangers into friends in ways unknowable to listeners of, say, Jay-Z.
Now in its seventh year, NYC Popfest is an annual assemblage that seeks to celebrate the rich history and bright future of indie-pop, from its headwaters in late-’80s England to its current global Diaspora, and features bands with bookish names like Math and Physics Club that continue to churn out dreamy music that strums the heartstrings.
Here are four bands from this year’s slate with the amNewYork stamp of approval:
Ski Lodge: This NYC-based quartet has a tightly wound, propulsive sound reminiscent of a sun-kissed Smiths (an oxymoron, but accurate given singer Andrew Marr’s vocal mannerisms), and just released a catchy new EP “Just To Be Like You.”
The School: Kicking off their first-ever tour of the U.S., this Welsh act is fruitfully indebted to the effervescent sadness of the girl-group tradition, and puts a sultry Phil Spector spin on classic English pop in the manner of Belle & Sebastian.
The Monochrome Set: You may not know The Monochrome set, but you know who knows them. A shared affinity for this English post-punk band supposedly helped cement the friendship of Johnny Marr and Morrissey (who joined together to form the band The Smiths). After several iterations over the years, they are touring behind new album, “Platinum Coils.”
Speedy Ortiz: The heavier, loose-jointed sound of these Massachusetts indie rockers skews toward the messy melodicism of Pavement and Dinosaur Jr., cut by the Karen O-like vocals of frontwoman Sadie Dupuis.
NYC Popfest 2013 runs Thursday through Sunday at various venues throughout the city. The 4-day Festival Pass is sold out, but individual tickets are available. Go to www.nycpopfest.org for information.