Originally published in Issue 14, Fourty-ninth year of The Minstrel (April 29, 2015).
Press pause and look at the bands you’re listening to. Nirvana and Blink-182 are classics of 90s alternative music but it’s time to give “All the Small Things” a rest. You know the lyrics like the back of your hand and you won’t forget them by giving emerging artists a try. Alternative music is evolving; don’t miss these four alternative bands that may be considered classics twenty years from now.
The day after they played their first show together in 2013, New York based band Misterwives landed their first record deal. Lead singer Mandy Lee wrote their debut album “Our Own House” inside of a tree house that drummer Etienne Bowler built. “Our Own House” is also the title of their first song on the album and symbolizes the family-like relationship the five members share together. Additionally, the name MisterWives is a play on the Mormon term sister-wives because Lee is the only female member.
No Doubt, ABBA and Aretha Franklin influences MisterWives upbeat, energizing music that listeners will get up and dance to. They not only utilize classic alternative instruments like drums and guitars, but also saxophones and violins. Lee, only 21 years old, writes all of the band’s songs and a lot of the lyrics are about love, girl power and their home in New York City. Lee attended LaGuardia high school where she focused on music and even studied opera. MisterWives’ songs emphasize Lee’s emotions and singing ability.
Album: “Our Own House”
Top two songs: “Reflections,” “Our Own House”
Australian singer, Vance Joy, also known as James Keogh, has been getting increasingly popular since his hit single “Riptide.” It has been playing frequently on alternative and mainstream pop radio stations. Vance Joy’s songs are very folk inspired, similar to bands like Mumford & Sons and Fleet Foxes where Keogh gets his inspiration. Keogh uses his own life experiences to write his lyrics, which are very simple and relatable.
Keogh began playing the guitar at age 14, writing songs at age 18 and got his start a few years later performing at open mic nights. After uploading some songs on his Facebook and SoundCloud, Keogh received a call from someone he attended high school with who was managing bands and wanted to help him get started. It was a quick rise to the top from there. Starting this May, Vance Joy is going on Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour.
Album: “Dream Your Life Away”
Top two songs: “Riptide,” “Mess is Mine”
Jack Antoff, better known as the lead guitarist of Fun, is the singer and songwriter of his solo project Bleachers. He wrote and produced his debut album “Strange Desire” in complete secrecy while also doing shows with Fun. The album is full of 80s inspired music that makes listeners turn the volume up and sing to, but the lyrics are rather sorrowful. The catchy chorus, keyboard and percussion elements of Bleacher’s hit song “I Wanna Get Better” was actually influenced by his sister’s passing in 2002.
According to Antoff, he went through a lot of sadness in a short amount of time. There was 9/11 in 2001, his sister died from brain cancer in 2002 and his cousin died in the Iraq War in 2003. Antoff suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and rarely left his house. In his album Strange Desire, he found a way to acknowledge his sorrow and let go, without completely leaving the past behind.
Album: “Strange Desire”
Top two songs: “I Wanna Get Better,” “Rollercoaster”
Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow are the she-he duo that makes up MS MR’s retro, melancholy sound and vulnerable lyrics. They first began to grow their fan base on Tumblr with Plapinger singing vocals and Hershenow producing. Plapinger, cofounder of Neon Gold Records, was working there when Hershenow e-mailed her and asked if she knew any female artists that would be interested in joining him to become the band MS MR. After listening to a few of his songs, Plapinger volunteered herself. She recently began experimenting with music and felt like their styles were compatible. The two of them immediately bounded and formed a very close friendship.
They also have a very equal collaboration when it comes to writing songs for their band. In their first stage of writing, Hershenow writes a rough track and Plapinger writes on top of that or vice versa, and then they have a countless number of exchanges. They don’t claim parts of the songs as their own; it’s really all shared. When MS MR performs, two other musicians accompany them as their drummer and multi-instrumentalist.
Album: “Secondhand Rapture”
Top two songs: “Hurricane,” “Bones”
Press play and enjoy all the new discoveries these bands have to offer.