Influenced by the likes of the Beatles, Harry Nilsson and Frank Zappa, the guys in Thank You Scientist—original members Salvatore Marrano (vocals) and Tom Monda (guitar, synths and vocals) now with Ben Karas (violin), Cody McCorry (bass, theremin and saw), Joe Fadem (drums), Sam Greenfield (sax) and Joe Gullace (trumpet)—met as part of the music program at Montclair State University and began making progressive rock together in 2009. Their debut full-length, Maps of Non-Existent Places (stream it below), dropped three years later. “To say there’s very little Thank You Scientist can do to improve is an absolute credit to the musicianship of this spectacular septet and every bit indicative that they should be an absolute pleasure to observe as they develop over time. Get in on the ground floor now or kick yourself later,” said Sputnik Music. Thank You Scientist (above, performing “The Amateur Arsonist’s Handbook” for Audiotree TV) returned with their sophomore release, Stranger Heads Prevail (stream it below), in 2016. Consequence of Sound called the it a “wild ride of an prog-rock album,” adding that the LP is “for fans of Coheed and Cambria and comprehensive mind-fucks.”
Another large group founded at a school in 2009, Bent Knee—Courtney Swain (vocals and keys), Ben Levin (guitar and vocals), Chris Baum (violin and vocals), Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth (drums), Jessica Kion (bass and vocals) and Vince Welch (synths)—formed in Boston at the Berklee College of Music. The experimental art-rock sextet (above, doing “Way Too Long” for Audiotree TV) has put out four albums, including this past summer’s Land Animal (stream it below), which shows “how fearless the six-piece is in grabbing hold of different sounds and making them their own,” raved Consequence of Sound. “The band has used Land Animal to look at the state of the world and figure out how to reconcile all the darkness with art.” Get your weekend started early when both of these terrific acts lay it down live on Thursday night at Rough Trade NYC.