Last year, we said a major goal of ours would be to further immerse ourselves into the Rochester music scene. Our homework included picking through bandcamp on a daily basis, making the occasional trip east to catch a live show, and talking with Rochester acts about the scene, which like Buffalo, seems to be full of great up and coming acts. After some careful consideration, we have proudly put together our list of the top ten tracks to come out of Rochester in 2013. Take a look below. Let us know what you think, what we may have missed, and what Rochester bands should be on our radar as 2014 quickly approaches.
10) The Huckleberry Fins - "Wild Blue Yonder"
Starting off buffaBLOG's now annual top ten countdown for Rochester is the instrumental, surf trio, The Huckleberry Fins. "Wild Blue Yonder" immidiately impressed us, with its teasing intro and beach-y guitar that evolves into an almost French Kiss (label that features bands such as Les Savy Fav, and S PRCSS) flavored reprise. This song could easily be dubbed in a getaway chase scene for the next Quentin Tarentino film. With just one song recorded in 2013, could 2014 be the year of the Huckleberry Fins? - MJM
9) Skirts - "Death of the Author"
2013 was an interesting year for Skirts. First, a distinguished author claimed copyright infringement on their former band name, Meanagers, threatening legal action if they did not change it. Secondly, they were signed to upstart Rochester label, Dadstache Records. At some point they also went from a three to a five piece. Since then, the band has recorded and released a slew of songs, most notably the upbeat garage track, "Death of the Author." Skirts is fronted by Hayden Ford, whose vocals and song writing style is something worth your attention. We're definitely looking forward to more songs and perhaps even more members in 2014. - MJM
8) Cottage Jefferson - "Follow Through"
I must admit, I was a little late on the Cottage Jefferson train. If it wasn't for my lack of an auxiliary input, a six state road trip, and 30 blank CD-Rs, I may have never given I Don't Believe Anything's ten songs the time or attention they deserve. "Follow Through" is a three minute even, self-reflective, bare bones mellowed out indie rock tune complete with jangly guitars, introspective lyrics, and a line that will drive your family mad for roughly 18 hours ("Michael, what do you mean all you need is a follow through?"). Fans of Spoon's accessibility with Dylan Baldi's (Cloud Nothings) delivery would love Cottage Jefferson. - MJM
Listen to "Follow Through" here.
7) Crushes - "Love Is Lost"
2013 saw the debut of Crushes, a synth-pop duo comprised of Buffalo born vocalist Laura "LuLu" Robinson and producer David McGinnis aka David Lee Rad. The pair's single "Love is Lost" is a cut of tense, electro pop led by Robinson's sultry vocals, and a track that could easily have been placed onto the Drive soundtrack without thinking twice. The song's dark, late night vibe makes comparisons to Chromatics almost too easy. Fans of Niki & the Dove or the Italians Do It Better cast of synth driven acts would be best served to take note of Crushes. - MPM
6) Keeler - "Shoot The Jay"
Keeler's debut autumnal release, Too Old to Believe in Ghosts, is, pound for pound, one of the most impressive releases out of Rochester in 2013. TOTBIG's explosive first track, "Shoot The Jay," packs a punch with glory era emo composition coupled with lead singer, Sam LiButti's, manically gripping vocals. "Shoot The Jay" encompasses that fall feeling' everything is dying, 98% of things suck, and it's really cold out (comparatively to summer). There's probably some grim metaphor in there I am not reading enough into. Regardless, fans of Cap' n Jazz, Algernon Cadwallader, or Their They're There would love Keeler's lo-fi combo of grizzled innocence and visceral shout-singing. - MJM
5) High Drags - "The Bad Ones" (ft. Edgar Sandoval)
Brother/Sister duo, High Drags (James & Marissa Longstreet), is not a newcomer to the Rochester scene. Although now half of the project lives in LA, High Drags has found time to release a three song Valentine's Day EP titled The V-Mixtape. The song that resonated with us the most was the EP's second track, "The Bad Ones," which begins with some rambling about hitchhiking to University with mere pennies, and then proceeds to tell the fictitious (?) love story of Dylan and Francis. "The Bad Ones" features Marissa's whisperingly sweet vocals along with James' strolling electro-pop backing and making this track a definite for the Rochester top ten. Fans of a distortionless Sleigh Bells or even Lily Allen would dig this. - MJM
4) Seaplanes - "Lip Gloss"
We frequently refer to bandcamp as the blog's best friend as we find tons of the new regional music that makes up so much of our daily content via the music streaming site. "Lip Gloss," the first recorded song from the new wavy rock group Sea Planes, hit the site early last spring, and immediately left us longing for the summer vibes bursting from the sunny single. "Lip Gloss" employs laid back first wave British Invasion type vocals and a sugary melody filled with fuzzy riffs reminiscent of a Los Campesinos! that remembered to take their ritalin. Fans of Rouge Wave, Grandaddy, and the Weakerthans should keep an eye on the four piece as we expect big things in 2014. - MPM
3) People Can Be More Awesome - "Cleaner Than Before"
Rochester’s People Can Be More Awesome really impressed us with “Cleaner than Before.” The song has infectious layering highlighting the band’s knack for both genuineness and descriptors. “Cleaner than Before” is a drum machine backed indie tune (think Front Bottoms meets Motion City Soundtrack) that, on the surface, seems to focus mostly on partying and having a good time. But, this six-piece is hiding a secret romanticism and are actually more enamored with the potential of falling in love than the party itself. Recorded at Redbooth Recordings with Brian Moore, the sextet only has a couple of songs to date, but with “Cleaner than Before,” the band has proven to have a talent for writing songs that linger in your ears. - MJM
2) Taking Meds - "Jim Jones"
Originating as the side project for 3/5ths of Rochester punkers, Such Gold, Taking Meds made their internet debut last January with a three-song sampler aptly titled Demo. Taking Meds is not as aggressive as Such Gold, sounding more reminiscent of late 90s/early 2000s acts like Hey Mercedes, Hot Rod Circuit, and other earnest sounding indie-leaning, early emo acts. “Jim Jones” is a curt 1 minute and 50 second angular guitar laden jam that has all the things we love in a song: a title about a cult leader, killer hooks, punchy vocals, and the ability to somehow find itself played 42 times on iTUNES. - MJM
1) JOYWAVE - "Tongues" (ft. Patricia Patrone of KOPPS)
Without a doubt the best song in both catchiness and popularity is “Tongues,” by Rochester’s JOYWAVE. “Tongues” dominated Hype Machine’s top internet countdown multiple times, was remixed by electro-Midas’ RCA and was even featured on Sirius XMU. This alone is a remarkable feat that I’m almost positive, based on zero research, no other Western NY band has accomplished this year. The track starts out with KOPPS’ Patricia Patrone sampled “Boo Da Dum Dum Bah OOMP” quickly going into lead singer Daniel Armbruster’s falsetto narrative about his whirlwind weekends with Rochester artists, musicians, and mostly dreamers. With word on the street JOYWAVE has new material in 2014, could it be possible that the band dominates next years’ top ten for the third time? - MJM