Each year, the Aquarian gathers a list of unsigned bands from the Tri-State Area and beyond that we believe deserve recognition. These bands and solo artists’ music offers so much to the listener that just because a major label hasn’t noticed them yet, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.
If you’re looking for the perfect combination of alternative, folk, and indie, look no further. Darling Harbor is straight out of Buffalo, NY, and is compiled of great rhythms, genuine lyrics, and impressive vocals. If the new music they’ve been working on is anything like their debut EP, Truth In My Lies, we have a lot to prepare for. Anyone who loves bands like Mumford & Sons or The Lumineers will be grateful once they discover the gratifying sounds that Darling Harbor formulates.
Giants At Large
With a pop punk sound comparable to Handguns and Major League, Long Island’s very own Giants At Large is a band you want to have on your everyday playlist. The quartet has been around since 2010 and is proving that a band doesn’t need to be signed to a label to gain loyal supporters. The 10 songs on their latest album, The American Dream Is Dead, contain captivating guitar riffs and serene lyrics, and it’s their best work yet.
Have A Good Season
Alternative, indie, and emo are all genres that this Eatontown, NJ band, Have A Good Season, fall under. This past summer they released an EP, Joseph, and through it, epitomized many different vigorous feelings that come to life for the listener within the first few seconds of the first song. With the EP ranging from one-minute to over six-minute songs, as a whole, it represents every emotion that you can imagine, in the best way. Have A Good Season is for fans of bands like Basement and Seahaven.
You may have heard music from the members of Hiding Out from their previous band, Batten Down The Hatches, but the foursome is back with a new name and a new sound that we could get used to. This Freehold, NJ group’s first release is a single called “Light Me Up,” which was accompanied by its music video just a few weeks ago. Its appealing melodies and mesmerizing drum patterns have us anticipating what they have in store for the rest of 2016. This is only the beginning for these pop rockers. See them March 30 at The Bitter End when they take part in the Start At The End new sounds series.
Solo artists are among the minority of this area’s local music scene, but Kevin Burke of Long Island is determined blow you away with his music. With a voice comparable to Andrew McMahon, his songs have influences of Jack’s Mannequin, which is portrayed through his piano ballads, and of John Mayer, which is imitated through his guitar riffs. His songs provide a feel-good tone and will make any listener feel authentically content and happy.
The second you turn on a song by Lauv, you will instantly fall in love, pun intended. The solo artist successfully portrays his theme of music through his stage name. The NY native’s debut EP, Lost In The Light, contains R&B, pop, and indie instrumentals to accompany his romantic lyrics, which give off a Sam Smith vibe. Although he is currently unsigned, Lauv will be performing at this year’s Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE, which is his biggest break yet.
Chemistry may not be the easiest subject in the world, but don’t let that scary word keep you away from giving Modern Chemistry a listen. The quartet emerges from New Brunswick, NJ, and they are among some of the most entertaining live performers around us right now. Their last single, “Never Scared,” showed major growth in the band’s sound and presented a different side of them. However, that single was put out in 2014 and the fans are itching for the new material in that is promised to come in 2016. If you love Have Mercy, Brand New, or Manchester Orchestra, then Modern Chemistry is for you. See them this month as they embark on their NJ World Tour.
Six Stories Told
Female vocalists have quickly become more prevalent in the music industry. Six Stories Told is a pop band from Walden, NY who is led by female vocalist Joanna DeRosa. Her voice can be described as modulated and tight, giving us soothing vocals in both their upbeat and slower-paced songs. Male vocalist Jesse Sheppard is also present in songs, which exhibits a resemblance to the band We Are The In Crowd. This group is the perfect modernized reminder of what pop bands of the early ‘00s sounded like.
If The Maine, The 1975, and Third Eye Blind had a musical baby, it would be The Stolen. Formed in 2005 by childhood best friends in Old Bridge, NJ, the band has been releasing music ever since they wrote their first song. Their latest release was a single titled “Memoir,” which was a slower-paced song than we are used to hearing from The Stolen, but it still exceeded the fans’ expectations. With their pop rock instrumentals, catchy lyrics about love and life struggles, and pop punk-influenced vocals, The Stolen will ‘steal’ your heart in an instant. The group is currently working on an EP that we can expect in the first half of 2016.
Formed by vocalist and guitarist Derek Mrdjenovich and drummer Aaron Porta, this new alternative duo, Walkney, is about to put Altoona, PA on the map. The two were previously in a band together called The Big Time, so they are no strangers to each other or the music world. They released their first song, “North,” in December, and the most compelling aspect of it is its powerful vocals. Walkney set the bar high with their first release, so we have a lot to look forward from them this year.