The Bravery. The hotties in the Bravery -- with their requisite eyeliner and dour grimaces -- are this year's Killers, and they're pretty unapologetic about their lack of originality (among other things, the group lifts the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' pingy synths from "I'm Rich" for its "Unconditional" single). But be warned because the Bravery is part of that post-Interpol batch of high-fashion "It" bands that we'll all pretend we hated four years from now. This act is to altrock what Damn Yankees were to cock rock, what MC Hammer was to hip hop's first incarnation. Case in point: The Bravery's press release begins, "Their headquarters is on the corner of Mott and Broome, on the edge of New York's Chinatown. Push through the graffiti-ed door, clamber up the rotten stairs, past the sweatshops and you'll find the place." Hold on. Mott and Broome is near Chinatown, but it's actually in SoHo. Sweatshops in SoHo? Dude, the Bravery is so full of shit. If you're into that kind of thing, pick up the band's debut sometime in late March.
Louis XIV. When these San Diego kids' Atlantic debut drops in the spring, make sure you're wearing your dance pants. I wish I could diss 'em (mainly because I'm sick of bands that wear ties ironically), but I can't. Louis XIV's brand of hot-shit rock borrows from the Stones as much as from T. Rex and the Jam; it's catchy and cocksure but still quirky. Watch for a self-released EP, Illegal Tender, hitting stores on Jan. 25.
Bloc Party. This U.K. quartet is the latest signing to Vice Recordings, which, with its musical Midas touch, has made the Streets a household name, and the Stills, Death From Above 1978, and Panthers a Mission District apartment complex murmur. But I'm not sold on the Vice aesthetic: The Streets are boring, the Stills are derivative, and DFA 1978 is just self-conscious hipster metal. Will Bloc Party burst this bubble? Not sure yet. The band nails the uppity dance-rock shtick and has opened for Franz Ferdinand, so it'll certainly be hyooj. And a clever Web site, decent lyrics, and a string of EPs put out on the very respectable Dim Mak label indicate that hedonism may not be priority No. 1. Still ... Vice ... that crew really blows. Judge for yourself when the LP arrives on March 22.
Local Bands That Will Be Relatively Hyooj in 2005:
Gratitude. Frontman Jonah Matranga first had the emotive altrock band Far in the '90s, but we had no use for Far in the '90s because we had Sunny Day Real Estate. So Matranga started Onelinedrawing, his solo indie-rock project, which was responsible for a pretty song called "Aeroplanes" that included the lyrics, "My friends will all be famous/ This world cannot contain us." Matranga and a few buddies, including ex-Crumb guitarist Mark Weinberg, recently started Gratitude. The timing is perfect. What with Jimmy Eat World and Coheed & Cambria having whetted mainstream listeners' appetite for epic emo hooks, Matranga's pained wail and Weinberg's distorted chords are sure to fit right in. Look for the major-label debut in March. Who'd have thought the guy's four-track-recorded prediction from five years ago would come true now?
The Lovemakers. This is gonna be interesting. Whether Oakland's Lovemakers fit into the current altrock moment is debatable. They're sexy, but in a detached, half-ironic way, not a gaudy Lindsay Lohan way; they play electro accented with crunchy guitars, but they're not as fierce as the electroclash has-beens of yesteryear or the stylized dance-punks of today. Nevertheless, that Interscope debut is in the can, so we can expect to see a big push for the band at some point in '05. Will these Lovemakers consummate their marriage to the mainstream? We shall see.
Bands That Should Have Been Hyooj in 2004 But Weren't:
Nellie McKay. A friend described McKay to me as Doris Day meets Eminem. This description gets pretty close, but there's still no way to nail down McKay's incisive talent in a few words. She sings cabaret songs, essentially, original compositions that she performs on a grand piano, which include lyrics like, "Won't you sit oh so close to me/ That'd be nice, like it's supposed to be/ If you don't/ I'll slit your throat/ Won't you please be nice?" Sharp, acerbic, and cute as a button, McKay should have dethroned Norah Jones last year. Instead, we had to settle for a profile in the New Yorker and a sold-out show at the Independent. Rumor has it that McKay's next album is to be recorded live in a women's prison. No shit.
The Velvet Teen. I said a lot about this Petaluma trio in 2004, so obviously I like it, but seriously, why didn't it get hyooj? Elysium was great. The Velvet Teen's live show was better than it's ever been. Why wasn't the band selling out the Fillmore last year? There are some things I just can't comprehend.
Bands That Should Form in 2005, Get Hyooj, and Then Promptly Die in a "La Bamba" - style Airplane Crash:
The Muni Fare Inspectors Big Band. Dude, come on! I lost my transfer, but I totally bought one. I'm not trying to rip anyone off. Fuck.