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Siren Fest: Still hip to the Coney Island music scene

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ast year everyone was singing the Siren Festival's swan song.

With an unclear future for Coney Island's amusement district in the face of redevelopment, the fate of the day-long music festival was also cloudy, with musicians and fans alike thinking it was the last of the free rock n' roll shows along the waterfront.

With a full line-up ready to rock out in southern Brooklyn this July 19, the mourning was a bit premature. For the Village Voice's eighth such event, 14 bands on two different stages are lined up, with established indie acts and local up-and-comers on the bill for what this year hipsters fear may be the last Siren.

Prominent in this year's line-up are indie rockers Islands of Montreal and Ra Ra Riot, hailing from upstate New York. Also slated to perform are Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Broken Social Scene, The Helio Sequence, Beach House, Times New Viking, Jaguar Love, The Dodos, Annuals, Film School and Dragons of Zynth.

Two local acts are also set to play the Siren Festival – These Are Powers and noise rock band Parts & Labor.

Splitting time between Crown Heights and Chicago, where for the past couple of months the group has been holed up writing material for their third album, These Are Powers is a self-described ghost punk trio comprising Anna Barie on vocals, guitar and percussion, Pat Noecker on vocals and prepared bass guitar, and Bill Salas on drums, electronics and vocals.

Ghost punk, you ask?

“I feel like on stage you have a spiritual energy around you,” says Noecker. “The word 'ghost' conjures up some of that more mystic spirituality stuff that is the core of the music.”

He adds, “Calling our music ghost punk was a way for us to identify our band to ourselves and others.

It was basically an exercise in coming up with a name to describe the feeling of the music that defined our approach.”

The Siren Festival will give the band a chance to check out some of their newer material, which sees those familiar with TAP heading in an extremely different direction.

“I don't want to give it away, but it's crazy,” says Noecker. “There's definitely something going on with our band right now. Expect the complete opposite.”

While the majority of their set will be new music, the band will also pull a couple songs from their EP “Taro Tarot,” released this year, as well as their first full length album, last year's “Terrific Season,” and then hit the road back to Chicago to lay down tracks of the new material.

Known to improvise as they record and work on new material, “It's definitely something that underscores the performance,” says Noecker. “There's a certain amount of spontaneity involved.”

Also testing out new material at this year's festival is experimental rock band Parts & Labor. Based out of Williamsburg, last month the band wrapped up recording their latest album, “Receivers,” out this fall and their first with their new line up of founding members Dan Friel on keyboards, guitar and vocals and B.J. Warshaw on bass and vocals, and newcomers Joe Wong on drums and Sarah Lipstate on guitar and vocals.

With the new parts adding a bigger sound, on “Receivers,” the band decided it would be a good time to mix everything up.

“I would describe it as being a little bit bigger and dronier then the previous record, not as fast, not as punk, but it's a weirder record,” says Friel.

Friel and Co. also got help from their fans on the new album. An open call for sounds to include on the new album resulted in nearly 200 clips, from the sound of toe nail clippers (one of Friel's least favorite, but it makes it on the album), to Friel's own cat, 21-year-old Fluffy. A wealth of sounds also came in the form of Claire Lin's Brooklyn-based project, in which she hung up fliers around the borough with a phone number and recorded the messages of those daring enough to call the number.

“It got us to do a lot of things we wouldn't have done otherwise,” says Friel. “It keeps things interesting.”

For their Siren gig, which they play the day after getting back from a tour in Europe, the band won't rely too much on the new material, but pull heavily from their most recent album, 2007's “Mapmaker,” out on Jagjaguwar Records.

“It's really exciting for me to play at it before it's gone, before Coney Island is not Coney Island anymore,” says Friel, who last year hung out with fellow Brooklynites Matt & Kim backstage when they performed at the festival. “I've been to it many times. It's a really good festival.”

The 8th Annual Siren Music Festival is July 19 from noon to 9 p.m. The event is free and on two stages. These are Powers plays the Stillwell Stage (Stillwell Avenue off Surf Avenue ) at 1:30 p.m. and Parts & Labor plays the main stage (W. 10th Street off Surf Avenue) at 2 p.m. For more information, go to

An after party at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (66 North 6th Street) with Apes & Androids and A Place to Bury Strangers, plus special guests, takes place at 10 p.m. Tickets are $15 and are on sale at or by calling 212-260-4700. The show is 18+.

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