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6 Indie Bands Who Relocated from Their Hometowns: The National, The Shins

by Joey DeGroot   May 25, 2014 23:55 PM EDT

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It's not at all uncommon for individual artists to relocate in order to integrate themselves into a new scene, or to meet new artists. However, it's far less common for an entire band to leave its hometown in favor of a more artistically viable city. Here are six indie rock bands who relocated from their hometowns.

1. The National

Though all five members of the National are from Cincinnati, Ohio, with singer Matt Berninger and bassist Scott Devendorf having met at the University of Cincinnati, the National didn't form until 1999, after all of the members had moved to Brooklyn. The National's subsequent identity as a "hip Brooklyn band" has become a sore spot for some Cincinnati natives, such as fellow Music Times writer Ryan Book.

2. The Shins

Other than Brooklyn, Portland, OR is the other hotbed of indie rock and indie culture in general these days. The Shins is one of the most popular bands based in Portland, but its hometown is actually much further south. The Shins formed in 1996 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but relocated to Portland after the release of its debut album Oh, Inverted World in 2001. Bassist Neil Langford, however, chose to leave the band and stay behind in Albuquerque.

3. Animal Collective

Animal Collective is one of the most polarizing bands of the 21st century. Some see them as brilliant sonic innovators, while others see them as the worst example of Brooklyn hipster trash. Though the band is closely linked to the Brooklyn scene, the members are originally from Baltimore. Today, the band is spread out over numerous cities, including L.A., D.C., and even Lisbon, Portugal.

4. My Bloody Valentine

Arguably the greatest band to ever come out of Ireland is My Bloody Valentine (though a case could be made for Thin Lizzy and maybe U2), but the band has spent most of its career outside of the country. After forming in Dublin in 1983, the band relocated to the Netherlands for a brief period, until finally settling on London in 1985, where it would create all of its best work.

5. The Birthday Party

Though post-punk and gothic rock were largely contained within the U.K., one of the genre's most famous singers, Nick Cave, actually hails from Australia. His band The Boys Next Door originally formed in Melbourne in 1978, before changing its name to the Birthday Party and relocating to London in 1980. The band would again relocate in 1982, this time to West Berlin, before breaking up in 1983.

6. Real Estate

The way Cincinnati natives must feel about the National is similar to the way New Jersey natives (such as myself) feel about Real Estate. The band formed in Ridgewood, New Jersey in 2008, but like the National, eventually relocated to Brooklyn, because that's where all indie rock bands have to go these days, apparently. Though Brooklyn is only 25 miles away from Ridgewood, it might as well be light-years away from the placid New Jersey suburbs.

What other indie bands have relocated from their hometown? Let us know in the comments section!

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