Stacking up Free Energy and Deap Vally

Good-time rock & roll hits NYC with a one-two punch of fizzy up-and-comers

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Photographs: Dominic Neitz; Bryan Sheffield


Free Energy Deap Vally

The lowdown Formed from the ashes of Minneapolis skuzz-rock outfit Hockey Night, this all-guy five-piece released its James Murphy–produced debut, Stuck on Nothing, on DFA in 2010. Love Sign, the follow-up to that groovy power-pop gem, came out in January on the band’s own Free People label. Both discs boast music designed to make your body rock, establishing the dudes as merciless merchants of merriment. Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards had been coasting through the L.A. music scene for years, but they didn’t cross paths until Troy wandered into a crocheting class Edwards was teaching in 2011. Needlework led to jamming, and soon the pair was cranking out singles like grrrl-power anthem “Gonna Make My Own Money.” They’re a certifiable buzz band in London, but will they cross over to their homeland?

Live rendition Though havoc-wreaking, the band touts good, clean fun, with frontman Paul Sprangers dispensing scissor kicks, air punches and high-fives galore over massive hooks, for a riff-resplendent, beer-chugging bash. Expect short shorts and a big distorted sound, with guitarist-singer Troy howling like the unhinged love child of Robert Plant and Karen O, while Edwards pounds the drums with a head-banging ferocity that belies her girly demeanor.

Tough sell Some critics have dismissed Free Energy as cheesy or gimmicky based on its abundant use of cowbells and harmonized guitar solos—but who are we to complain when it’s this catchy? These ladies have made spangled and skimpy attire a trademark, prompting some not-so-nice comments from creeps and haters alike—but we see hot pants as harbingers of a good time.

Old-time influences Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Cheap Trick, Weezer Led Zeppelin, Joan Jett, the White Stripes

Latest broadcast Love Sign, the guys’ second full-length, moves them from ’70s glam-garage rock to a big, clean ’80s sound. Get Deap! is a 13-minute EP of epic proportions that blazes with brilliantly raw and unbridled blues-rock guitar licks.

Star-powered support In addition to having Murphy’s backing on their first CD, the band got John Agnello (Cyndi Lauper, the Hooters) to produce the second one. Mumford & Sons man Ben Lovett was so impressed with their sound, he signed them to his label, Communion.

The band’s hand-picked good-time jam “Walk Like an Egyptian”—The Bangles “Black Tongue”—Yeah Yeah Yeahs

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