Two New Bands to Keep Your Eye On

As many bands as there are here in New York, you’d think that finding good new ones would be like shooting fish in a barrel. It’s not – but isn’t it fun when you do? Two new acts who’re already good and seem like they’ll get even more interesting are Lucy Foley and Llama. Foley is a newcomer from Ireland, a confident, dynamic and often dramatic singer who’s equally at home with retro new wave pop and stagy noir cabaret. At a gig a couple of weeks ago at the Parkside opening for the perennially brilliant, inscrutably charismatic Tom Warnick, she was backed by a great band: her new husband Ross Bonnadona on guitar, Tom Pope on drums, Andy Mattina on bass and a guy who doubled on synth and tenor sax. Anytime a musician can get a supporting cast of that caliber, it’s an auspicious sign. Fans of Blondie and the Dresden Dolls should check her out; she’s at Fat Baby on March 22.

Llama isn’t a reference to the foul-tempered ruminant: the band name is Spanish for “call.” The nine-piece group plays what they call psychedelic salsa, with electric guitar and electric piano instead of a brass section. There have been plenty of other bands who’ve played punked-out electric salsa – Los Santos, who played the Coney Island boardwalk on Sundays for what seems like decades, were one of the best. But what makes this band unique is their dub arrangements: one of the women in the band adds layer after layer of oscillating, trippy sonic layers on a synth that she runs through a labyrinth of digital effects. The result is slinky and danceable and when the band is at the top of their game, it’s completely brain-warping. They’re still figuring out the sonics of their live show. But because they’re all excellent players, especially the killer three-piece percussion section – timbales, bongos and congas – they have the potential to be one of the most interesting bands in town. And they don’t just play straight-up classic salsa – there’s a little cumbia and some funk and maybe even some reggae in the mix too. Right now Barbes seems to be their home base.