cat_reviews

TV on the Radio End Tour at Home at Music Hall of Williamsburg

November 24th, 2014

TV on the Radio – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 22, 2014

TV on the Radio – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 22, 2014
There was a time when Williamsburg was still an affordable place to live, before New York City’s music scene exploded with a handful of bands that would go on to define indie-rock music at the turn of the millennium—the Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol and TV on the Radio. That last group had their gestation period take place in Williamsburg, so it makes sense that they’d wrap up their latest tour in their home base. Still absolutely adored here, the band easily sold out three local shows (plus a free in-store appearance at Rough Trade NYC), with their final appearance taking place at a packed Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night. The performance kicked off with one of TV on the Radio’s very first songs, an unraveling expansive soundscape that slowly evolved its way toward the introductory vocal coos of “Young Liars.” Its energy notched up incrementally until dissipating into the taut funkiness of “Golden Age.”

Singer Tunde Adebimpe was a stage-performing spectacle. Whichever hand wasn’t holding his microphone was almost always miming out the song, sometimes reaching out to the audience as if to lend them a hand into the tune. “The age of miracles/ The age of sound/ Well there’s a Golden Age/ Comin’ round, comin’ round, comin’ round,” Adebimpe sang in “Golden Age,” spiraling his hand in the air before extending it out to the audience: Grab my hand, hop on board and let’s check it out. Then there was the near constant harmonizing with Kyp Malone, and if there’s one thing that’s instantly recognizable as TV on the Radio, it’s the two of them singing together, with Malone always several octaves higher in the highest of falsettos. It splits the expressive possibilities of their songs in half, and in it’s best moments the two of them sing the same lyrics with different emotions. On “Careful You,” off their new album, Seeds, one seems to be singing a statement and the other a plea.

The older numbers had a more abrasive edge than the newer ones. “I Was a Lover,” with all its jittery, stuttering rhythm, encapsulates the Bush-era anxieties of the mid-’00s as well as any other song of that time. On “Wolf Like Me,” the band made things as loud as possible. Dave Sitek even brought out a four-foot wind chime, rattling the hell out of it as the song finished. Contrast that with the new tune that followed, “Trouble,” and its reassurances in the chorus of “‘Everything’s gonna be OK/ Oh, I keep telling myself, ‘Don’t worry, be happy’/ Oh, you keep telling yourself.” TV on the Radio’s encore kicked off with “Forgotten,” off Nine Types of Light, Adebimpe leading the audience in chanting, “Light,” to combat life’s darkness. The set closed with “Staring at the Sun,” their first single, the perfect finish to a tour-ending show in their hometown, where once upon a time it had all begun. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

cat_preview

The Wytches End American Tour Tonight at Mercury Lounge

November 24th, 2014

Kristian Bell (vocals and guitar), Gianni Honey (drums) and Daniel Rumsey (bass and vocals) have been making doomy yet infectious music as the Wytches for three years. Based on the south coast of England, the surf-psych trio began to gain a following in the U.K.—including shout-outs from the Guardian and NME—thanks in part to the release of their debut single, “Digsaw,” an EP and because of their mesmerizing live shows. Their impressive debut full-length, Annabel Dream Reader, came out this past August, and NME made comparisons to Nirvana and Black Sabbath while mentioning “exceptional songs full of both melody and menace.” The Wytches (above, doing “Darker,” live in studio for WFUV FM) have been traveling the country in support of their new album, and that tour ends in New York City tonight at the early show at Mercury Lounge. A pair of Brooklyn bands, neo noir punk trio Lodro and doo-wop garage quartet the Teen Age, open the show.

cat_reviews

The Barr Brothers Bring Their Beautiful, Exotic New Music to the LES

November 24th, 2014

The Barr Brothers – The Bowery Ballroom – November 21, 2014

custom
If you got to the Barr Brothers show at The Bowery Ballroom a little early on Friday night like I did, you were greeted by a stage filled with instruments. Music makers of all sorts crammed every corner of the space: at least half a dozen guitars including some D.I.Y. thing that looked like an old lunch pail with strings, a harp, a pedal steel guitar, a couple of keyboards, drums (is that a bicycle wheel?!) and at some point around a zillion I lost count. It was a sight to behold and foreshadowed the music to come. At least a couple of those instruments belonged to the opener, Leif Vollebekk, who mesmerized the early birds with a solo set of folk-centric music, the perfect palette cleanser between the workweek and the weekend. He packed quite a bit into his 30 minutes, playing two different guitars at multiple tunings each, an electric piano, a harmonica and a violin he had hidden off to the side. The highlight was “When the Subway Comes Above the Ground,” a long, Dylan-esque number with wonderful imagery and acoustic guitar playing to match. Vollebekk finished with a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You.”

By the time the Barrs took the stage, the room was filled with decidedly high spirits. The band, the brothers Andrew and Brad Barr plus four, began things, naturally, all with an instrument in hand, including Sarah Page, holding what I guess I’d call a mini harp, and Andrew on banjo. The music was beautiful and exotic, a sound greater than the contributions of each musician and instrument. Songs like “Wolves” and “Love Ain’t Enough,” off their new album, Sleeping Operator, or the excellent “Beggar in the Morning,” from their 2011 self-titled debut, deliciously blended pedal steel–meets-harp in ethereal melody. Along the way, all those instruments onstage—and more hidden from sight—made an appearance in fascinating permutations, Brad Barr performing with each different guitar like a musician showing off a how’d-he-do-that trick. The sounds were dense and often unexpected, I kept craning my neck to see who was playing what and how and usually gave up. While Brad led the way and proved his mastery on guitar, Andrew held things together and set the tone, at one point simultaneously singing and playing drums and banjo. At different times the music felt African and heavy blues and art-folk-pop or genres still to be determined, everything made to fit together snug by the brothers Barr.

Following a lengthy set, the Barr Brothers encored with “Cloud (For Lhasa),” which seemed to encompass and summarize the whole night at once—beautiful songwriting augmented by masterful guitar playing, distinctive harp plucking, pedal steel (played with a bow for good measure), Andrew playing drums and xylophone, Leif Vollebekk returning to add some violin, not to mention great keyboard and bass playing, and to top it all off, Brad Barr taking a lengthy solo that brought him down into the crowd. Quite a way to end quite a set. Good thing too … if they had kept playing, they might have literally brought out the kitchen sink. —A. Stein | @neddyo

cat_preview

Hear Some of the Bands You Can See This Week

November 24th, 2014

Hear some of the bands you can see this week.

cat_preview

Jay Stolar – Mercury Lounge – November 22, 2014

November 24th, 2014

Jay Stolar - Mercury Lounge - November 22, 2014

Photos courtesy of Ahron Foster | ahronfoster.com

cat_preview

Ryan Hemsworth – Rough Trade NYC – November 21, 2014

November 24th, 2014

Ryan Hemsworth - Rough Trade NYC - November 21, 2014

Photos courtesy of Lina Shteyn | www.linashteyn.com

cat_reviews

The New Pornographers Are in the Zone

November 21st, 2014

The New Pornographers – Union Transfer – November 20, 2014

U7NZHVDd
Last night at Union Transfer, I felt a collective sense of nostalgia. The sold-out crowd that came out to see the New Pornographers appeared to know many of the songs, but they mostly showed quiet appreciation for the music, rather than jubilant release. That seemed to suit the New Pornographers, too, as cofrontman AC Newman said, in a song break, “We’re all focused on rocking…. We’re in the zone.” And within that zone, they played a smattering of songs from their new album, Brill Bruisers, as well as selections from their formidable catalog, six albums deep.

Last night’s show played to the strengths of the other cofrontman, Dan Bejar—who goes by Destroyer in his solo project. Bejar, visually distinctive with his raised mess of curly hair, full beard and rumpled, unbuttoned shirt, crooned in his odd, high register. On the songs that featured his vocals, he walked out from stage right, sang with nonchalance, bowed deeply and then disappeared again to stage right. It was an excellent counterpoint to the otherwise straight-up power pop songs that are the staple of the New Pornographers.

What made the performance so enjoyable, though, was the balance. The New Pornographers are a supergroup, with essentially every member counting as a someone who fronts the band. The greatest example of this is Neko Case, an incredibly successful solo artist in her own right, who sacrificed most of her vocal duties to support Newman and Bejar in harmonies. She tapped the tambourine and clapped with the audience, but when she blended her voice, it made the whole thing work. It’s that attention to detail that shows the wisdom of experience. Seeing that from Case and the New Pornographers reminded me that there’s improvement to be had over time and endless good feelings in the small refinements of prolific talent. —Jared Levy | jaredlevy.contently.com

Julian Casablancas and the Voidz Take Over Our Instagram Tomorrow

November 20th, 2014

-1
If you want to see what Julian Casablancas and the Voidz are up to on their tour then be sure to follow @bowerypresents on Instagram tomorrow because they’re taking over! Beginning Friday morning they’ll share photos from the road as they make their way to Hammerstein Ballroom next Tuesday.

cat_preview

St. Lucia – Terminal 5 – November 19, 2014

November 20th, 2014

St. Lucia - Terminal 5 - November 19, 2014

Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com

cat_preview

The Barr Brothers Return with New Music at The Bowery Ballroom

November 20th, 2014

Brothers Andrew (drums and percussion) and Brad (vocals, guitar and keys) Barr, who have been members of the Slip and Surprise Me Mr. Davis, moved to Montreal after one of the brothers fell for a local waitress. Early on, Brad and neighbor Sarah Page (harp) could hear each other playing through the walls and struck up a musical friendship. Then, following the addition of Andres Vial (keys, pump organ and bass), the Barr Brothers were born. The folk quartet’s self-titled debut album (stream it below) came out in 2011. “The Barr Brothers are a different kind of folk group,” announced AllMusic, “bringing in unusual instrumentation and performing in a manner that draws the listener into a special musical world.” The Barr Brothers (above, playing “Even the Darkness Has Arms” on Late Show with David Letterman) released their second full-length, Sleeping Operator (stream it below), last month. And the good folks at Relix were impressed: “A product of both invention and intuition, the appropriately dubbed Sleeping Operator isn’t anything less than a dazzling delight.” See them headline The Bowery Ballroom tomorrow night. Bluesy folk singer-songwriter Leif Vollebekk, also from Montreal, opens the show.

cat_preview

EOTO Will Have You Dancing at Stage 48 Tomorrow Night

November 20th, 2014

Back in 2006 the String Cheese Incident’s Michael Travis (drums and multiple instruments) and Jason Hann (vocals and percussion) formed the jammy electronic-dance duo EOTO. Playing “all improvised, all the time,” the two make their way through a litany of dance genres—including drum and bass, dubstep, house—by looping live guitar, bass and synths alongside their own live drums and vocals, without using any backing tracks or prerecorded loops. Hann and Travis remain busy with SCI, so their most recent LP, Fire the Lazers!!! (stream it below), came out in 2009. But let’s be honest, EOTO (above, performing one of their never-the-same shows) are a band best experienced live. So come be part of their dance party tomorrow night at Stage 48. And arrive early enough to catch VibeSquad.

cat_preview

Joywave Hit Rough Trade NYC Tomorrow Night

November 19th, 2014

Daniel Armbruster (vocals), Benjamin Bailey (keys), Joseph Morinelli (guitar), Paul Brenner (drums) and Sean Donnelly (bass) formed Joywave four years ago in Rochester, N.Y. Deftly mixing indie rock and electronic music, the group started to gain attention after they’d begun releasing mixtapes online, mashing together their own music with other bands’. Their debut EP, Koda Vista (stream it below), arrived in 2012, packed with “’80s-inspired synth pop, bright vocals and scenic lyrical portraits,” according to Filter magazine. Joywave (above, performing “Traveling at the Speed of Life”for Audiotree Live) released another EP, they catchy, dance-y How Do You Feel? (stream it below), earlier this year. Find out for yourself how all of this music sounds live when Joywave play Rough Trade NYC tomorrow night. Singer-songwriter Vérité and another Rochester outfit, experimental-dance four-piece Kopps, open the show.

cat_reviews

Thee Oh Sees Chase Away Cold Weather at The Bowery Ballroom

November 19th, 2014

Thee Oh Sees – The Bowery Ballroom – November 18, 2014

v2djk1ky8z4asda68798
The reasons to stay home last night were there for the taking: It was the first “damn, it’s cold outside!” night of the season, late start on a Tuesday night, etc. No one’s blaming you if you skipped out on the Thee Oh Sees at The Bowery Ballroom. But John Dwyer and his bandmates are a center of gravity, and judging from the jubilant packed house, few, if any, were able to withstand its irresistible pull. Opening with “Tunnel Time,” off last year’s Floating Coffin, Dwyer was a lesson in classic physics—pure kinetic energy, object-in-motion-tends-to-stay-in-motion conservation of angular momentum—and pretty much kept it up the entire set. The band mixed songs off their newest album, Drop, with plenty of older barn burners, but it wasn’t so important which tunes they played as how they played them, and how they played them was like a powder keg with a very short fuse.

Here’s what you don’t get at a Thee Oh Sees show: fancy lights, digital projections or witty banter … or any banter for that matter. They pretty much employed the Bowery’s basic lights, eschewing the modern color palettes and designs available and sticking mostly to red, yellow and blue. This was primary-color rock, stripped down to its bare essentials: guitar, bass and drums operating as a single unit, a shot of punk adrenaline with a garage-psych chaser. Which isn’t to say that Dwyer’s music is simple. Songs were stretched out just long enough, Tim Hellman on bass and Nick Murray on drums matching his blistering, never self-indulgent guitar with propulsive melodic rhythm.

On some songs Dwyer used a 12-string guitar to add a little flavor, other times playing a few riffs through a small synth to good effect, but mostly he was pounding away at his guitar, half singing/half shouting his lyrics, everything punctuated by one big Sans Serif exclamation point, if not two or three of them. The crowd kept up with the band, bouncing and moshing with the occasional stage diver taking a ride on the bubbling audience. It was hard to not get sucked into the high-energy fun. For all their great studio tracks, Thee Oh Sees proved that they are best experienced live in the raw and that this was live music in its purest, distilled form … well worth getting off the couch. —A. Stein | twitter.com/neddyo

(Thee Oh Sees play Warsaw on Friday.)

cat_preview

Don’t Miss Delicate Steve Playing the Late Show at Mercury Lounge

November 19th, 2014

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Steve Marion had been in other bands when one day he decided to record his own material at home. It eventually became the first Delicate Steve album, Wondervisions (stream it below). Released by David Byrne’s label, Luaka Bop, in 2011, the LP earned Marion comparisons to Pavement, Vampire Weekend and Dirty Projectors. In a glowing review, PopMusic declared that the album “treads beautifully this line between meaningless emotion and unfeeling precision…. The precise subject of these visions is hard to say—it is, quite simply, the kind of thing you do not describe with words.” The next year, Delicate Steve (above, performing “Afria Talks to You”) put out their follow-up, Positive Force (stream it below). And again critics and fans alike were impressed. Paste rang in: “What’s notable about Delicate Steve is not necessarily guitarist Steve Marion’s apt electronic contribution, but his songwriting and reference to earlier musicality that could be easily overlooked. Delicate Steve understands and is equally intrigued by what you can do with a great vintage synthesizer, but his George Harrison/Eric Clapton-esque guitar melodies are what make this album worth listening to.” See Delicate Steve play the late show tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge. And don’t miss the opener, singer-songwriter Luke Temple (of Here We Go Magic).

cat_reviews

Lucinda Williams Rises to the Challenge at the Beacon Theatre

November 18th, 2014

Lucinda Williams – Beacon Theatre – November 17, 2014

Byp0xPnCMAAgxR4
Lucinda Williams celebrated her new LP, Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, with a spirited performance at the Beacon Theatre last night. For many artists, creating a double album of almost completely new and original music might be a bit daunting, but Williams’ musical output in recent years has been ambitious and inspired, and perhaps this is the new normal for her—the fans would certainly not complain.

With her leather jacket and confident, wide-legged stance, Williams commanded the stage, as usual, combining new songs—like “Protection,” the moody “Burning Bridges” and the bluesy “Something Wicked This Way Comes”—with material from back in the ’80s (“Side of the Road”), the ’90s (“Pineola,” “Lake Charles,”) and of course, a great deal from her prolific songwriting period during the Aughts. With a natural ability to give a strong sense of atmosphere with just a few well-chosen details, she’s always been an excellent storyteller. But during last night’s show, Williams prefaced another new song, “Compassion,” by saying it was especially challenging to write. It was the first time she attempted to put one of the poems by Miller Williams, her father, to music. She spoke about his insistence that songs and poems are “two different animals.”

Yet Williams rose to the challenge, and the resulting song was something of a departure from much of her lively, roots-y material, a stark, melancholic piece of music that seemed to wrap itself around the lines of the poem, allowing the rhythm of the words to inform the melody. The result was both arresting and refreshing, an interesting look at an artist seeking to keep exploring and challenging herself, while continuing to make and perform the music that has always spoken to her. —Alena Kastin | twitter.com/alenak