Queer Brooklyn Quartet Boytoy Are Bridging the Gap Between Bowie and the Bangles

We’re such consumers of music these days that we all tend to be listening for the next new thing. If an artist brings new shades to an existing genre — Cardi B in hip-hop, for example — we praise them, and rightly so. Yet we tend to ignore up-and-coming artists that traffic in the basics, though there’s nothing wrong with performers, like Boytoy, that rock the tried-and-true and do it well.

Boytoy, the queer female Brooklyn quartet, recently released their sophomore record Night Leaf, and it’s a striking summation of decades of rock and roll, with roots in the brand of summery West Coast alternative sound that has fallen out of fashion the last few years.

boytoy bubbles
Photo by Noelle Duquette

The hazy vibe grew organically from the Topanga Canyon enclave where the band recorded Night Leaf. “I think environment affects what you’re producing and what comes out,” guitarist/vocalist Saara Untracht-Oakner has said. “And the mindset we were in out there, it all came together that way.”

Imagine The Bangles on a bender of The Who and jangle-indie and you’ve got “Mary Anne.” If they were dudes, we’d been lauding “NY Rip Off” as a great track by The Strokes, though it’s equally reminiscent of The Runaways. And they play subtle homage to the late David Bowie on the glamtastic “Static Age” that’s the perfect blend of “Queen Bitch” and The Velvet Underground.

As you can tell, they aren’t militant when it comes to gender — the original version of the quartet included two alternating male drummers until recently when they morphed into the current all-female line-up. “The boys were also great,” Untracht-Oakner has said. “But it feels really powerful to be all women and command a room with strong female energy.”

boytoy tub
Photo by Noelle Duquette

That energy is all over the above-mentioned “Mary Anne” as well as the paisley underground sound of “I Get Distant” with a slinky guitar line from Glenn Michael Van Dyke and solid support from drummer Chase Noelle and bassist Lean Simon (also in the surf rock band La Luz).

True, Night Leaf isn’t going to send anyone to their word processors to pen feverish hosannas to the great new sound that’s blown their oversaturated minds. But fans of decades of alternative music — be it The Velvet Underground, The Bangles or the more recent Cherry Glazerr — will recognize these progressive gay women as kindred spirits.

Have you heard Boytoy before? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Featured image by Kyle Mullarky