Wednesday, May 19, 2010

FP Top 5: One-Man Bands

(Our Weekly Wednesday Countdown)

What is a one-man band? Is it a troubadour with a guitar and a tambourine on his ankle? Is it the subway trumpeteer accompanied by keyboard bossa nova beats? Is it anyone who plays Guitar Hero?

Indie rock history is rife with one-man bands: from Magnetic Fields (Stephin Merritt) to Neutral Milk Hotel (Jeff Mangum). Journeyman John Darnielle's nom de rock Mountain Goats has a cultish following, including Stephen Colbert, whose sealed his stature as a critic when he asked the Hold Steady if they were rock stars or graphic designers. More recently, wunderkinds Zach Condon (Beirut) and Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) are nearly inseparable from their pseudonyms. And then there’s LCD Soundsystem (James Murphy), who has decided to hawk his new record, "This is Happening," in gift packs of CD, vinyl, and MP3 versions of the music, plus an LCD Soundsystem Tote Bag, all for $80. Hm.

We admit that our Top 5 one-man (and one-woman) bands rely on other musicians, both live and in the studio. But it’s clear, to us anyway, that the music stems from their singular talents and visions.


5. Neon Indian
All Hail North Texas!  Neon Indian is the brainchild of Alan Palomo, originally from Denton and now with dual citizenship in Austin and Brooklyn.  Since the release of Psychic Indian in October, Neon Indian has played everywhere from Bushwick's Market Hotel to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. And in the next few months, Palomo and his backing band are on tour with shows at Bonnaroo, Pitchfork Festival and Brooklyn's own Music Hall of Williamsburg. Not exactly a deadbeat summer.

Neon Indian - Deadbeat Summer

4. Bat for Lashes
Natasha Khan is a one-woman force. As Bat For Lashes, the London-born daughter of a Pakistani squash player has recorded two albums: Fur and Gold (2006) and Two Suns (2009). She sings and plays piano, guitar, harp, and autoharp, and we've seen her stomp the stage with a staff as percussion.  But she’s not above collaboration. Recently, she joined forces with Beck for a song on the forthcoming Twilight: Eclipse soundtrack. More on this record soon, but suffice to say that contributors include FP favorites The Black Keys, Muse, The Dead Weather, and Vampire Weekend (natch). And whatever Natasha does, we totally bat our lashes. Sigh.

Pearl's Dream from Bat for Lashes on Vimeo.

3. Koria Kitten Riot
OK, we confess. We had never heard Koria Kitten Riot until we researched this article. (Thanks, Indie Rock Cafe). The project is the brainchild of Helsinski’s Antti Reiko, who fronts the band Johnny Superhero. Reiko made the KKR record on Garage Band, which makes us wonder if he's  the guy next to us at a certain Brooklyn cafĂ© where you are required to bring a Macbook. In any case, Reiko plays nearly every instrument on his album, aside from drums and bass. While he sings in English, KKR speaks a more universal language. Hello, makeout music.

2. Sunset Rubdown
Canadian Spencer Krug started Sunset Rubdown while on a break from Wolf Parade. SR’s eponymous debut was a solo effort, followed by a full-band record Shut Up I’m Dreaming, both released in 2006. For now, the band is on hiatus with no tour dates posted; Krug is back with Wolf Parade, who tour Europe in May, North America in July, and return to Europe this fall. For a city near you, see the  full tour dates. For now, some choice cuts from 2009's Dragonslayer

Sunset Rubdown - Paper Lace

Sunset Rubdown - Idiot Heart

Sunset Rubdown - Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Anna Oh

1. Destroyer
Known for his work in the New Pornographers, Canadian Dan Bejar has also recorded and performed as Destroyer for nearly 15 years, from We’ll Build Them a Golden Bridge (1996) to  Bay of Pigs (2009).  Listen on Myspace. As Destroyer, Bejar plays solo and with backing bands drawn from the Canadian indieverse. Apparently, our northern neighbors like to hang out together and go by many different names. Those are two concepts we can get behind.

Destroyer - 3000 Flowers



  1. Thanks for checking out our site Antti! We'll amend the post to reflect your bassism on our new site at