On my NYC subway commutes, buskers tend to be the bane of my existence. I don’t mean to be a curmudgeon, but after a tiring day at work all I want to do is read a book or listen to a podcast in peace. There are three main type of subway buskers:

  1. The Mariachi band with music too loud and aggressively sad for a beautiful summer day.
  2. IT’S SHOWTIME! If you’re a New Yorker then you already know who I’m talking about and you’re probably already grinding your teeth in anger like I am right now writing this. These are the breakdancers who insist on performing in crowded trains. I’m surprised they haven’t kicked an innocent bystander in the face or broken their own neck yet (ain’t nobody got time to take someone to the hospital at the end of the work-day).
  3. Singer-songwriters. I usually don’t mind these musicians, but most tend to be slow folk music or covers that are badly done. AKA snoozefest.

Okay, now that you know my hate for subway buskers, I’m going to introduce to a subway busker I actually liked!

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Aside: I do love buskers in parks or squares, they tend to be good performers and not encroaching on my chill time like subway buskers do.

Last Monday, on a rush hour train on the uptown C line, a man armed with an acoustic guitar came on board. I started unraveling my headphones in preparation to block out the incoming noise as he announces that he hails from the west coast and loves to perform for the sake of performing (kudos for the latter). Then, as I’m about to press play on the new Trials And Ways album (post for this album coming soon!), the guitarist starts playing a gentle tune. His voice instantly reminds me of Circa Survive’s acoustic sets, bringing back bittersweet memories of emo-fueled writing sessions from 2009. Then the song got progressively grungier, which blew me away. Angst wrapped in beautiful guitar riffs and catchy lyrics.

Luckily I was able to get his soundcloud before I had to rush out of the train. Dear readers, I present you, Michael Lane who goes by the moniker Actual.:

There’s only three original tracks on his page right now and all three of them are addictive! Water is straight out of the 90’s, with great spattering of synths and a guitar riff that is stuck looping in my head.

POM.$NOW is a high-energy lo-fi pop-fest that reminds me of Wavves’ early work.

Then there’s #SO FREE, which is a psychedelic auto-tuned trip into the psyche of man who wants to stop giving a fuck, which is exactly the sound I need this summer. My only criticism is that I wish the song would continue for a few more minutes, because that last melody is the perfect bridge into balls-out psychedelia a la Tame Impala’s Let It Happen.

I can’t wait to see what this guy produces next. This is why I love NYC, you run into the coolest most talented people!

Original GIF by SpyroGIF


We’re here to help you discover the hottest upcoming musicians - if you know any great tracks we haven’t talked about yet, send us a tweet @KinjaEargasm or leave your suggestions in the comments. Follow me @TheArielViera.

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