Tomorrow, mes chères, is Fat Tuesday, which marks the beginning of Lent and also one of the biggest party days of the year. It’s also, of course, New Orleans’ biggest holiday. Tramp through the French Quarter tomorrow — or anytime this week, really — and it’ll be difficult to avoid drunken, beaded, half-naked revelers. It’ll also be hard to avoid the music –brass bands and blues guys and banjo fiddlers coming from every which way. You already know about the legends (there’s this guy named Louis Armstrong), but New Orleans has more to offer than its blues and jazz greats of yore. (See: sissy bounce.) Compiled for your listening pleasure, here are ten current New Orleans groups you should listen to. Laissez les bon temps roulez!
The Zydepunks are one of those bizarre musical fusion projects that sound suspect — folk punk and zydeco? — but actually work. They describe themselves as “New Orleans’ favorite Cajun Irish Jewish Punk” and are regulars on the bar scene as well as staples of any hometown music festival. You can hear why — their peculiar multicultural hybrid actually makes great dance music, with a side of accordian.
Dash Rip Rock began in the 1980s as a rockabilly trio and has been holding down the rock scene in New Orleans ever since. Drummer Fred LeBlanc is better known for his other project, Cowboy Mouth, another New Orleans bar band staple. The group started in deep country territory but has since branched out into party punkers. Last year, they released Call of the Wild on Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label, an album dedicated to 1970s gulf coast party circuit bands.
The Wild Magnolias are half funk band, half Mardi Gras Indian tribe, and they’ve been around performing in one form or another since the 1950s. The group dresses in traditional Mardi Gras Indian costumes, which involve some serious feather headdresses and beads, and layer vocal chanting with all manner of percussion, from cymbals to beer bottles. Though the group is most famous for their 1970s album They Call Us Wild , they’re still familiar faces at every Mardi Gras.
Sunshiney indie pop duo The Generationals crib bits of girl groups and bossa nova beats to make their bright, sugary harmonies. Though they’re relative newcomers on the scene, they’ve already become local critical darlings and opened for bands like Two Door Cinema Club and Broken Social Scene. Their newest album, Actor-Caster , is due out this month.
5. Sun Hotel
House party regulars Sun Hotel describe themselves as “post-gospel swamp rock,” which only partially captures their jangly, exuberant indie rock. They layer heavy atmospheric guitar with feedback swagger to form a kind of sweltering, delicate harmonic structure. They’ve got a new album coming out this week, too.
Local noise pop duo Caddywhompus are good at two things: math rock and enthusiasm. They’ll stomp your party to pieces and then put out a beautiful, minimalist guitar song all in the same set. They recently opened for Marnie Stern who, we suspect, may have had some influence on that methodical and hyperactive guitar energy.
Though Givers are a quintet that formed in Lafayette, LA — about two hours from the Big Easy — they’ve been New Orleans regulars since their beginning. The band’s psychedelic pop music impressed the Dirty Projectors so much after only one show that they asked the band to tour with them. Bonus: last year, they were on Stereogum’s bands to watch list.
The Revivalists are best described as indie-dance-soul-rock, two parts saxophone funk to one part pedal guitar. They’re another band not to miss if you’re hanging out in the New Orleans bar scene long enough, and they’ve been touring quite a bit lately, too.
Despite their name, Supagroup isn’t a super group in any time. But they are pretty super. The group, which evolved out of a sludge rock band called (no kidding) Critical Dump, is New Orleans’ answer to Andrew W.K.’s hard partying philosophy. Their signature song is, in fact, titled “Let’s Go (Get Wasted),” perfect for the hammered frat dude in all of us.
Jean-Eric plays deliciously cheesy electro-pop dance music, along the lines of Peaches meets Gravy Train!!!!, but with better lyrics. If you need some booty-shaking music while you’re in town (and Big Freedia isn’t around) you should make a beeline for a Jean-Eric show.