Sam Tsui released a new youtube video for his original song ‘Start Again’ last Saturday, raising the question who is the most relevant buzzworthy alt band/musician at Yale. Here is a brief overview of the Yale music scene.
1. Sam Tsui
Sam Tsui (’11), Yale’s vicegerent of pop, has been a mainstay of the Yale music scene since he debuted in Marshall Pailet’s ‘Bat Boy’ two and a half years ago. Since then, he has been featured Oprah, Ellen, Bonnie Hunt, and other daytime television shows that appeal primarily to desperate stay-at-home moms. His gimmick includes the use of multiple Sam Tsuis on screen sing different parts. Highlights of his career include the College Musical series, his recent feature on Britney Spears’ official website, and his almost-better-than-the-original cover of ‘Just a Dream’ with Christina Grimmie.
Also trafficking in mainstreamer pop, Kurt Schneider (’10) is the man behind Sam Tsui, producing all his music and directing all his videos. Furthermore, he has produced videos for other youtube sensations such as Alex Goot and Tiffany Alvord and even sang in some of his own videos. Although he may not have the name recognition of Sam Tsui, he has had a far more productive career behind the scenes.
3. Magic Man
Has Sam Tsui been featured on Pitchfork? No. Has Magic Man? Yes. This lofi indie electronic pop duo consists of Sam Lee (’12) and his high school friend Alex Caplow. Magic Man is the Sam Tsui of the indie music scene. There’s no recent news from them, and their record company’s website is defunct. This is a band to keep an eye on.
Gets the Girl is the duo of Yale’s Ellis Ludwig-Leone(’11) and Columbia’s Allen Tate (’12). According to their Facebook, their band also includes three other guys. Formed when they were sixteen at rock’n'roll camp, the band claims to be an alternative band with neo-classical elements. Avi Gandhi (’10), the original Kurt Schneider, apparently is their business manager. It looks like they’re still active but just on a chill break. Gets the Girl definitely rocks the meaningful-core middle-school-nostalgia vibes via their song ‘Slow Song’.
I love this band. They have true indie potential, sounding like a younger much indier cross between Death Cab and Six Parts Seven. I know that may sound lame on paper, but it’s kick ass. Consisting of Richard Miron (’13) ‘and friends’, Stray Balloon will go places. They’ve promised an album by the end of the school year, so keep an eye out. The real question is, can Stray Balloon pull a Magic Man and make it to Pitchfork in the next two years?
They have a super indie, almost ungoogleable name. Unfortunately, they sound like most other bluesy ska-influenced Yale bands with an a cappella-group lead singer [see Great Caesar]. Honestly, the gimmick is getting a little old, guys. Yeah, I know, you guys sound pretty good and your songs are pretty catchy. But still.
7. Lars Knudsen
Lars Knudsen (’12) is a football player who produces catchy electronic rap/hip-hop songs. He’s probably the most unique musician on the Yale music scene right now.
8. YV and Brother K
Who are they? No idea. But they sound chill.
Chilled Water Supply is a jazz band. They play jazz. They sound cool, but all their songs sound like jazz. Their members – Jean-Luc Mosley (’12), Gabriel Zucker (’12), John Greenwalt (’12), and Orlando Hernandez (’13) – seem really chill.
10. Great Caesar
Yep. They’re still around, playing a concert in a grocery store (Arlene’s Grocery) in New York on February 19th. They’re jazzy. They’re bluesy. They’re ska influenced. They make sexy music videos. Can they make it big in the post-graduation real world?
11. Laura Zax
Laura Zax (’10), Yale’s original indie songstress sweetheart, is the first Sam Tsui. Her status is unclear. Last year, she collaborated with Theo Spielberg (’10) to form the band Northpaw and the Rambles. She toured extensively last summer, even playing at the World Expo in Shanghai. But there has been no news since. We miss you Laura Zax.
UPDATE: As Laura Zax pointed out in the comment section, she is now with the Nightime Adventure Society. They’re actually really amazing. Seriously, you should check them out.
It seems like the Sandy Gill Affair has been competing the Yale Battle of the Bands every year since 2002. They have a ridiculously middle-school punk poppy sound that’s impossible to hate. Their main lineup has been Colin Adamo (’10), Scott Snyder (’10), and Scott McCusker (’10) with Vlad Chituc (’12), TJ Smith (’10), and the infamous Kurt Schneider coming in and out. Where are they now? Broken up after graduation. Since then, TJ Smith has gone lofi acoustic on youtube. How does TJ Smith pull off his ultra-authentic style?
13. Suitcase of Keys
Another band that broke up after Spring Fling last year. Another borderline Jamestown/Great Caesar sound-alike, in my opinion. But they seem to be the most listenable of three, adding in a certain jazz/1970s sound that gives them an edge up.
Post-rock. Sounds kinda like Appleseed Cast. Defunct.
15. Cut-Rate Heroic
Died two years ago, I think. Sounds like a second-rate Sandy Gill Affair. Not even worth mentioning at this point except for the fact that it was fronted by the real Sandy Gill.