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Band Of Skulls and Drowners Show New York Their Rock With Bluesy and Indie Twists, Respectively

Band of Skulls are one of those bands that you’ve probably heard, but maybe don’t know by name. Their Wikipedia page has a whole list of media usage of songs, including perhaps most famously “I Know What I Am, which was used in Gossip Girl, a Swatch commercial and “Friday Night Lights” to name a few. It also happened to be playing when I walked into the Lower Manhattan bar I went to after the show.

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Drowners are strangely in a similar situation, with frontman Matthew Hitt being perhaps more known for his career as a model and for dating actress Dakota Johnson for two years. Their Arctic Monkeys-inspired sound has grown a huge following, but it’s still almost as likely you’ve seen him in a magazine as heard him on the radio.

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Together, the bands complimented each other well, with the opener being a bit poppier than the headliners’ bluesy sound. Drowners set was short, only about 40 minutes, and included tracks from their debut self-titled release and second album, On Desire. The crowd seemed to be almost split evenly for the opener and headliner, with a row of 20-something girls pressed against the barricade to catch a glimpse of Hitt. With Band of Skulls gear on stage for the set, the four piece seemed slightly cramped and stiff, but their sound was gritty and clear, evocative of bands like The Vaccines and Foals.

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Band Of Skulls is perhaps most unique for having split songs between two vocalists, Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson. Marsden also plays guitar, and wore Vans Sneakers, while bassist Richardson sported tall cowboy boots with a snakeskin motif. It’s their two diverse looks that make the band what it is, taking hints from the likes of The Black Keys or Kings of Leon or Interpol. Only having three members probably doesn’t hurt for having that minimal but still loud sound.

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The two best songs of the night were probably “Black Magic” and “Sweet Sour,” which lean more on the rock side than the garage or blues. Both songs are full and loud, with moments of isolated bass or even silence that keep them off-kilter. Maybe it was just having a male and female at the front of the stage splitting the spotlight, but a lot of the set reminded me of The White Stripes or Raconteurs.

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Band of Skulls fit a certain niche, one that the crowd responded well to but won’t appeal to everyone. They bring in just enough hard rock elements that they could almost be compared to some of the radio rock bands that the deeper community tends to sneer at, like Three Days Grace or Buckcherry. Still, in my opinion the mixed vocals and fact they are a three-piece set them apart and keep things different.

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Band of Skulls and Drowners both wrap up their United States tours this week before heading to Europe. Dates are available at bandofskulls.com and drownersband.com, respectively.

Brian Benton
Brian is the founder and editor of Respect Your Youngers. He currently lives in New York City, and previously lived in St. Louis and San Francisco. He enjoys public transportation and coffee, and can be found online at brianfbenton.com

Band Of Skulls and Drowners Show New York Their Rock With Bluesy and Indie Twists, Respectively

Band of Skulls are one of those bands that you’ve probably heard, but maybe don’t know by name. Their Wikipedia page has a whole list of media usage of songs, including perhaps most famously “I Know What I Am, which was used in Gossip Girl, a Swatch commercial and “Friday Night Lights” to name a few. It also happened to be playing when I walked into the Lower Manhattan bar I went to after the show.

band2

Drowners are strangely in a similar situation, with frontman Matthew Hitt being perhaps more known for his career as a model and for dating actress Dakota Johnson for two years. Their Arctic Monkeys-inspired sound has grown a huge following, but it’s still almost as likely you’ve seen him in a magazine as heard him on the radio.

drowners1
drowners5
drowners3

Together, the bands complimented each other well, with the opener being a bit poppier than the headliners’ bluesy sound. Drowners set was short, only about 40 minutes, and included tracks from their debut self-titled release and second album, On Desire. The crowd seemed to be almost split evenly for the opener and headliner, with a row of 20-something girls pressed against the barricade to catch a glimpse of Hitt. With Band of Skulls gear on stage for the set, the four piece seemed slightly cramped and stiff, but their sound was gritty and clear, evocative of bands like The Vaccines and Foals.

drowners4
drowners2
drowners6

Band Of Skulls is perhaps most unique for having split songs between two vocalists, Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson. Marsden also plays guitar, and wore Vans Sneakers, while bassist Richardson sported tall cowboy boots with a snakeskin motif. It’s their two diverse looks that make the band what it is, taking hints from the likes of The Black Keys or Kings of Leon or Interpol. Only having three members probably doesn’t hurt for having that minimal but still loud sound.

band1
band3

The two best songs of the night were probably “Black Magic” and “Sweet Sour,” which lean more on the rock side than the garage or blues. Both songs are full and loud, with moments of isolated bass or even silence that keep them off-kilter. Maybe it was just having a male and female at the front of the stage splitting the spotlight, but a lot of the set reminded me of The White Stripes or Raconteurs.

band7
band8
band11

Band of Skulls fit a certain niche, one that the crowd responded well to but won’t appeal to everyone. They bring in just enough hard rock elements that they could almost be compared to some of the radio rock bands that the deeper community tends to sneer at, like Three Days Grace or Buckcherry. Still, in my opinion the mixed vocals and fact they are a three-piece set them apart and keep things different.

band4
band5
band6

Band of Skulls and Drowners both wrap up their United States tours this week before heading to Europe. Dates are available at bandofskulls.com and drownersband.com, respectively.

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