Three incredibly dope bands played at Arlene’s Grocery last Tuesday. And while I’m hesitant to glorify their performative alignment as a full-fledged, newly developing scene within the New York’s musical underground, hearing them live you really get a thrilling sense for all that’s sure to come to these genuine game-changers. Their shared aesthetic sensibility speaks beyond the fact that each band includes a few NYU students or alums. They are filling a creative void in unison gestures, reinvigorating the bedrock of R&B and jazz as it corresponds to rock ‘n roll and guitar music. And they can make you dance.
The Pluto Moons, a Brooklyn based electro-soul groove punk trio, were the smallest band in size, but their sound was immense and wildly aggressive. On “$pooky,” Zachary Levine-Caleb’s sonorous vocals are only surpassed by his rhythmically propulsive basslines, exceptional moments of pure, physical melody. It’s the driving force behind the band’s sound, instigating raucous outbreaks of drums and keyboard in violent, but nonetheless satisfying, bursts.
The Breathing Effect followed with a dense set of introspective, primarily instrumental tracks, a few of which will be included in their forthcoming debut LP. Although heady and often rooted in hip-hop-sensible free jazz, their set was attention-demanding, enthralling, and impossibly danceable.
Showcasing a sound that could easily be the strangest or least accessible of the bill, altopalo delivered a rampant set of soaring, soul-stirring, head-reeling compositions. At a distance, the group seems to derive inspiration from an endless number of sources (R&B, prog rock, metal and electro-pop to name a few), but upon closer observation the band synthesizes seemingly disparate strains of musical so ridiculously well their music becomes something else entirely.
Watch live videos of the Pluto Moons‘ “$pooky,” an unreleased track from The Breathing Effect, and “Chagrinning” by altopalo (which includes a fantastically deranged cover-interlude of Jessie J‘s “Bang Bang”) below.