Indie Rock Dudes Rallying This Fall: Rostam, Ted Leo, Deer Tick and More

Deer Tick
Chris McKay/Getty Images

Chris Ryan and John McCauley of Deer Tick perform at Shaky Knees Music Festival at Centennial Olympic Park on May 14, 2016 in Atlanta.

Forget all the “rock is dead” chatter: These indie heroes, from a Vampire Weekend co-founder to a DIY-punk veteran, will represent for rock’n’roll this season.


Who: Vampire Weekend keyboardist-guitarist-turned-cool-kid producer (Frank Ocean, Haim, Solange).

What's on deck: Having amicably split from Vampire Weekend in January 2016, he’ll release solo debut Half-Light on Sept. 15.

Why you should care: Early Half-Light tunes sound like left-field art-pop wizardry. Also: Rostam looked super cute in Charli XCX’s “Boys” video.

In their own words: An unexpected influence? “I’ve been digging back into Shania [Twain],” he recently confessed to Billboard.



Who: Former Walkmen frontman with six solid LPs, as well as one with Rostam: 2016’s I Had a Dream That You Were Mine.

What's on deck: The singer hits the road for a North American solo tour, which will be bundled with a new live LP for ticket buyers.

Why you should care: Gritty and glam, Leithauser’s high tenor has only improved with age -- he’s one of indie rock’s most sublime voices.

In their own words: “I’ve got to get a couple girls in the band,” Leithauser told Billboard. “I’ve been so dude-y for so many years.”



Who: Rhode Island rockers beloved for over a decade, led by charismatic singer-songwriter John McCauley.

What's on deck: On Sept. 15, two self-titled albums drop: an acoustic nod to the band’s origins and a garage-rock romp.

Why you should care: Deer Tick’s first new music since 2013 showcases generation-bridging guitar heroics tailor-made for big festival stages.

In their own words: Recording in Memphis, McCauley has said, “We were a little proud of ourselves, like, ‘Man, I think we still got it.’”



Who: Brooding, Brooklyn-by-way-of-Cincinnati quartet-turned-festival main-stage mainstays.

What's on deck: After six studio albums (including stone-cold classics Alligator and The Boxer), the new Sleep Well Beast arrives Sept. 8.

Why you should care: Beast lead single “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” recently became the band’s first commercial radio No. 1.

In their own words: Frontman Matt Berninger gets the band’s “dad rock” rep: “We all have kids and stuff. Rock songs? No one’s going to get hurt.”



Who: Hyper-literate, high-energy punk since the ’90s; friend of Aimee Mann, with whom he has recorded as The Both.

What's on deck: Solo LP The Hanged Man comes Sept. 8, seven years after the troubadour’s last Ted Leo & The Pharmacists album.

Why you should care: After splitting with Matador Records, Leo kickstarted The Hanged Man; it’s his most experimental work yet.

In their own words: Expect a personal record. “I’ve lived more in the last seven years than in the previous 20,” said Leo recently.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 2 issue of Billboard.


The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.