9 essential New York bands you need in your life

A press shot of Bambara
(Image credit: Poonah Ghana)

Post-punks Bambara aren't just a band from New York, they're a New York band. Never mind that they aren't originally from the Big Apple, the distinction lies in just how much they draw upon history of The City That Never Sleeps, from the hardcore and noise rock scenes of the 80s and 90s to the post-punk and indie chic that stretches right back to The Velvet Underground in the late 60s. 

With their new mini-LP Love On My Mind out today, we tasked the band with sharing their love for New York with the world by picking out 9 bands that adopted the city as part of their own inimitable artistry.

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1. Suicide

"Suicide's influence is undeniable. From Bruce Springsteen to electronic music, their impression can be heard in countless genres. They were truly original artists and always did things their way. They were definitely a big influence on us while writing Love on My Mind."

2. Bad Brains

"Although not originally an NYC band, they moved to the city at the start of the 80s and went off like a bomb. Pay to Cum was used in a scene from After Hours by Scorcese… which is about as New York as it gets. Truly original music that changed everything."

3. Swans

"When I first heard Swans, they sounded like what I had wanted out of metal but could never really find. An all-encompassing sense of doom. Heavy as fuck at times while still having moments of beauty. They’ve always been a huge inspiration for us and are one of the bands that attracted us to NYC to begin with."

4. Laurie Anderson

"Possibly my favourite New York artist of all time. There’s not a single record of hers that has not made an impact on me in some way. Her use of texture and rhythm paired with her witty imagery is unparalleled. Laurie is always in the back of our minds while we’re writing."

5. Liars

"Liars has been based all over the world, but for a long stretch in the 00’s, Angus Andrew and co. lived in Brooklyn. I’ve always admired how they’ve consistently pushed the boundaries of the project, never settling in a singular style or expectation. Reid and I toured as members of the band for the TFCF tour in 2017 and 2018. It was an amazing experience."

6. Sloppy Jane

"Although based in LA now, Sloppy Jane made an impact with her stint in New York. Her visceral performance and intense dedication to her vision always impressed me. Her new album, Madison, sees her taking the project to the next level with beautiful arrangements and lyrics that never fail to hit that sweet spot between unhinged, poignant, and funny."

7. Dion Lunadon

"We met Dion years ago when he was playing in A Place to Bury Strangers (another amazing NYC band) and have been great friends with him ever since. He recently left APTBS to pursue his solo project and it’s some of the best current rock n’ roll out there. Visceral, fun and dangerous. He’s got a full length coming out later this year so keep your eyes peeled!"

8. Dougie Poole

"Dougie is one of my favorite songwriters in NYC. He’s been making high quality/off-kilter country music for many years in Brooklyn. After signing to Wharf Cat a couple years back, he seems to have hit his stride. Great lyrics, great tunes, great guy."

9. Adrianne Lenker

"I’m not quite sure if Adrianne is still based in New York, but I know she’s lived here for a minute now. Not A Lot, Just Forever came out in the midst of the pandemic and it absolutely floored me. I can’t remember the last time I had an album on repeat as much as this one. She’s a phenomenal guitarist, but the technicality doesn’t take away from the emotion in her playing. Also her lyrics are so fucking beautiful."

Bambara's new mini-LP Love On My Mind is out now via Wharf Cat

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Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.