Five Albums You Should Be Listening To Right Now: Catalpa Festival Edition

The best of NYC's Catalpa Festival, right at your fingertips.

by Alex Heigl

This weekend, Catalpa Festival takes over Randall's Island in NYC. Aside from the the thrill of seeing Snoop Dogg perform Doggystyle in its entirety, Catalpa offers a variety of up-and-coming bands from across a wide range of genres. Here are five of our picks. Check here for more information about Catalpa, including the full lineup, scheduling, and ticket information.

1. The Big Pink, Future This (2012)
Combining the more engrossing, space-y aspects of M83 and Spacemen 3 with a distinctly British sensibility, The Big Pink differentiate themselves from the hoi polloi of synth-wielding hipsters mostly by being really loud. (They've enlisted members of doom-metal luminaries Sunn 0))) to play live with them on occasion.) But they're also fun without being stupid, catchy without being pandering, and breezy in that perfect late-summer-night way.

Listen: "Stay Gold"

 

2. Fort Atlantic, Fort Atlantic (2012)
The brainchild of songwriter Jon Black, Fort Atlantic has received attention for both Black's excellent songwriting and the unique marketing move of packaging the group's most recent album in old Nintendo cartridges. Expansive, Arcade Fire-esque songs (it's hard to not use the word "anthemic" to describe opener "No One Will Know") bump up against more modern touches like the crowdsourced choir on "Let Your Heart Hold Fast" (Black posted a section of the song on his blog and asked people to send him tracks of themselves singing along), and the whole thing just sounds like a really inspiring, really fun time. 

Listen: "No One Will Know"

 

3. AraabMuzik, Instrumental University (2012)
One of the most in-demand producers right now, AraabMuzik mixes hard-hitting hip-hop-influenced production and trancey, repetitive hooks into an intoxicating brew that makes it easy to understand why he's worked with the likes of Cam'Ron, Jim Jones, and Capone-N-Noreaga. But he really shines in a live setting, hammering the pads of his hardware like a crazed jazz drummer. Search "AraabMuzik" on YouTube for a brief taste of what I'm talking about.

Listen: "Ryde On da Regular"

 

4. My Pet Dragon, Mountains and Cities (2011)
Nearly every blurb on My Pet Dragon talks about the impossibly adorable backstory of husband-and-wife duo Todd Michaelsen and actress/dancer Reena Shah, and it's so storybook perfect, it's not hard to see why. The pair met in Brooklyn and eventually traveled to visit Shah's family in India, where they got married, before returning to New York and forming My Pet Dragon. Fans of U2, The Flaming Lips, and Smashing Pumpkins will love Michaelsen's soaring, swooning songs, and live, the group conjures an admirable din. Good luck getting "Moonshine" out of your head after a few listens.

Listen: "Moonshine"

 

5. A$AP Rocky, LiveLoveA$AP (2011)
A$AP Rocky has been making waves for quite a while now, and while by now he's hardly the underground artist that he was originally touted as, his transition has in no way diminished the quality of his music, which fuses the slow-rolling swagger of southern rap with a distinctly New York grittiness. Riverside! (I've always wanted to say that.) Keep your eyes peeled for his debut album, dropping in September.

Listen: "Goldie"

 

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