Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano are more than just harmonizing singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists mining blues, country, folk, pop and soul as the duo Johnnyswim. They’re also husband and wife—plus Sudano happens to be the daughter of Donna Summer and Bruce Sudano. The two met at church in Nashville and shortly afterward began writing songs together. Since then, they’ve released several EPs, gotten married and left Music City for the City of Angels. “The more songs we wrote together,
the more time we spent alone together, which is really all I was interested in. The more songs were good, the more chance of making out we had,” Ramirez told NPR. And earlier this year, Johnnyswim (above, performing “Home” on Late Show with David Letterman) put out their debut full-length, the anthemic Diamonds (stream it below). PopMatters mentioned, “catchy songs sung with deep hooks, intense emotions and passionate beating hearts,” before adding, “The words and music may be simple, but they also have an electrifying effect. This is true for all of the songs on the record. Johnnyswim kicks serious butt.” So come sing along when they play The Bowery Ballroom tonight, especially because tomorrow’s show is already sold out.
Husband-and-wife rockers Mates of State come to Mercury Lounge to play twice this Friday. Tickets still remain for the late show, but if you got shut of the early show, try to Grow a Pair of tickets from The House List. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Mates of State, 12/19) and a brief message explaining why early shows are better than late ones. Eddie Bruiser, who needs some convincing, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.
Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Nick Lowe has been a big part of British music—specifically rock, power pop and New Wave—since the ’70s, steadily releasing music and delighting fans across the globe. And despite the fact that his Christmas album, last year’s terrific Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family (stream it below), received terrific reviews—per Relix, “While Lowe’s recent critically acclaimed CDs have mined a mellow, melancholic mood, Quality Street sparkles with holiday cheer”—Lowe (above, performing “Christmas at the Airport” live in studio for WFUV FM) never toured in support of it … until now. In fact, Nick Lowe’s Quality Holiday Revue (which includes Los Straitjackets and the Cactus Blossoms) hit the road last week, and they’re headed our way not once but twice, on Sunday at The Bowery Ballroom and on 12/20 at Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Tags: Bowery Ballroom, Cactus Blossoms, Los Straitjackets, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Nick Lowe, Nick Lowe’s Quality Holiday Revue, Preview, Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family, Video
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Trombone Shorty – Terminal 5 – December 10, 2014
It’s become something of a routine—the weather turns cold, December rolls around and Trombone Shorty returns to New York City to play Terminal 5. The New Orleans native is now so popular here that his shows have become something of a can’t-miss seasonal staple. Despite being extremely funky, Shorty and his excellent band, Orleans Avenue, often oscillate into the territory of jazz and soul during their performances. They aren’t afraid to embrace pop or rock either, and last night’s show featured renditions of Green Day’s “Brain Stew” and even Limp Bizkit’s “Rollin’”—the latter being a cover you can only get away with if you have a crew that has as much fun onstage as this one did.
The focus, of course, is on Shorty himself. He’s been a stellar frontman for a while now, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t gotten better. It was fitting that the band took the stage to James Brown’s “Make it Funky” because Shorty increasingly shows more and more of the Godfather of Soul with each passing show. His stage presence was already great, but it’s becoming the stuff of legend, on a bother-your-friends-who-don’t-like-funk-until-they-see-him kind of level. Orleans Avenue are made up of five seriously impressive musicians, and their skills were often featured throughout the set.
When Shorty wasn’t tirelessly tearing up the stage on trombone or trumpet, he parked right next to whichever bandmate had a solo going. Like Hendrix appeared to be coaxing spirits from a burning guitar, Shorty swayed back and forth and waved his arms next to each musician, like he was trying to help him get every ounce of funk out of his veins. Like the inevitable changing of the seasons, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue will be back again before you know it. And that next time he returns, tell everyone you know it’s a can’t-miss show. —Sean O’Kane | @Sokane1
Unaccompanied by any biographical information, the debut EP Your Old Droog arrived seemingly out of nowhere on SoundCloud this past spring, with a slow-building air of mystery following it. Who is this guy? No one knew—or if they did, they weren’t saying. People speculated, and thanks to raspy vocals and easy flow, many began to think it was Nas using an alias. But it turns out Your Old Droog is his own man. In August, he revealed himself to the New Yorker as a 25-year-old rapper from Coney Island. And in October, Rolling Stone, labeled Your Old Droog a New Artist You Need to Know, citing his “arch rhymes, brain-breaking puns and effortless delivery,” adding that he sounds like “chops-heavy, pun-soaked true school New York hip-hop made to break the rewind button on
your Walkman.” A self-titled LP (stream it below) arrived in November to some considerable acclaim. NPR gave it a glowing review: “The songs are short and sharp, and all the hoopla around Your Old Droog has turned out to be decidedly beside the point…. The way this album is constructed lets you watch a talent mature.” Your Old Droog (above, in the video for “Nutty Bars” and, below, freestyling) told RS that people “think they got me pegged, but they don’t know how I really get down.” Perhaps you can see how he gets down live when he plays a hometown show at Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow night. Spanish Harlem rapper Dave East opens the show.
After a three-year hiatus, singer-songwriter Aimee Mann’s annual Christmas tour returns, and this time she’s bringing fellow singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ted Leo, her bandmate in the Both (above, doing a medley of TV show themes for Vulture), along with her. With such talented, funny people at the helm, it’s safe to expect a variety show with Christmas classics, original music, video, sketches and all sorts of music and comedy guests over the course of two nights, at the Space at Westbury on Friday and Town Hall on Saturday night. And while most of each night’s guests are of the surprise, to-be-announced variety, we can say that the Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs, singer-songwriter Jonthan Coulton and—straddling the Venn diagram overlap of comedian and musician—Fred Armisen will join Mann and Leon at Saturday’s performance. The holiday season is here, and this is a pretty great way to embrace it.
J2K (Josh Young) and Autobot (Curt Cameruci) teamed up to form Flosstradamus eight years ago in Chicago. Mashing up house, techno, electro and R&B, they quickly won over fans around town—and then the country—with their all-inclusive dance parties. One of their many strengths is that they know how to have a good time, and that comes across when they perform live, which is probably why the progressive-dance DJs have earned the reputation as party starters, whether it’s in a small club or on a big festival stage. They’ve been busy recently traveling across America, but before their tour ends, Flosstradamus hit New York City for two nights to play Terminal 5 on Friday and Saturday. So come join the dance party. GTA and Curtis Williams with Two-9 open both shows.
The Landlady Holiday Spectacular – Mercury Lounge – December 8, 2014
I walked into Mercury Lounge last night to a festive holiday party already in progress. There were blinking lights, multiple trees and decorations throughout the room, a jar labeled FREE CANDY offered candy canes, and Santa Claus had just hopped off the stage to lead the room in “Silent Night.” Far be it from me to call Santa a liar, but the Landlady Holiday Spectacular would turn out to be anything but a silent night. In fact, with a makeshift second stage set up on the side of the room, there was almost no pause in the music for three-and-a-half hours, with brass bands big and small to indie-rock quartets to bluegrass trios, folk duos, large Afrobeat ensembles and almost anything else you could imagine. The sets were quick: two to four songs each, so if you didn’t like what you were hearing, you didn’t have to wait long, but that was rarely the case. It would take too long to even try to list the proceedings, probably about a dozen bands played in all, but there were Zula mixing Latin rhythms in an indie rock thing, the Westerlies adding Christmas songs to originals arranged for two trombones and a trumpet, the avant drum-and-guitar duo Star Rover expertly going post-post-rock, and Zongo Junction getting everyone boogieing down with their big, funky Afrobeat.
The audience constantly rotated between the front and the side, where little impromptu groups would spring up in between the more established ones, like when Rubblebucket’s Kal Traver joined the man of the hour, Adam Schatz, on a nice bluesy sax-and-vocals duet. Although the room was full, at times it felt like there were more musicians in the crowd than paying customers, a constant stream of saxophones and guitars fighting their way one of the stages. If this party were a movie, Schatz, who amazingly made the evening work while sitting in on sax with almost everyone, would’ve filled the director, producer and lead-actor roles. Still, by the time his band, Landlady, took the stage there was a risk that it would be anticlimactic after all that had already come. Not to worry, there wasn’t a chance of that happening. They opened with “Under the Yard,” off their new album, Upright Behavior, and raised the energy a few notches, mixing harmonies and offbeat rhythms with Schatz’s unique songwriting. The music was a groovy, progressive New Wave, a Talking Heads for the 21st century, with Schatz gesticulating lovingly at the front on keyboards. But even as he led Landlady through their repertoire—the title track and “Dying Day” were early set highlights—he was directing the show, prompting a horn section on the side stage to enter the fray at just the right moment.
Of course, with so many friends in the house, you had to expect even more collaborations, guests and permutations, and Schatz quickly ceded the stage to Jared Samuel (leading the band in a nice cover of George Harrison’s “Awaiting on You All”), Sam Cohen, Xenia Rubinos and Luke Temple. This highlight stretch turned Landlady into an expert house band primed for late-night talk shows, slipping between genres as easily as flipping through LPs at the record store. As if to punctuate the point, Landlady invited pretty much everyone onstage for a closing climactic one-two punch of covers by Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love” and Funkadelic’s “I Got a Thing.” With horns, guitars, drums and what seemed like the whole room singing along, spectacular doesn’t even begin to describe the festivities. It should also be noted that the whole night was a benefit for the Bushwick School of Music, which provides music education to kids who wouldn’t otherwise receive it in school. It was a worthy cause, indeed. Guys like Adam Schatz just don’t appear beneath the Christmas tree, you know. —A Stein | @Neddyo
Tags: Adam Schatz, Bushwick School of Music, Funkadelic, George Harrison, Jared Samuel, Kal Traver, Landlady, Lou Reed, Luke Temple, Mercury Lounge, Review, Rubblebucket, Sam Cohen, Star Rover, Talking Heads, the Westerlies, Upright Behavior, Xenia Rubinos, Zongo Junction, Zula
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Electronic rocker Robert DeLong has left the West Coast and is heading east. He lands in New York City on Friday at Rough Trade NYC. That show is already sold out, but The House List is giving away two tickets to see him there. Want to go? Then try to Grow a Pair. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Robert DeLong, 12/12) and a brief message explaining why you deserve to go. Eddie Bruiser, who’s feeling very judgmental, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.
Will Johnson, equally talented and prolific, is a busy man. He’s been a member of several bands and has recorded on his own, which is why he formed Centro-matic as a solo project back in 1995. But after releasing a few singles, the project blossomed into a full-time band two years later, when Scott Danbom (cello, violin), Mark Hedman (bass) and Matt Pence (drums) came aboard. And ever since the North Texas four-piece has been extremely busy, touring extensively—bringing catchy alt-country and jangly rock that’s often compared to Neil Young and Crazy Horse across North America and Europe—and recording seven EPs and 11 LPs, including this year’s highly regarded Take Pride in Your Long Odds (stream it below). “Fast forward nearly two decades since the auspicious solo project that was Johnson’s apprenticeship mining Robert Pollard-esque lyrics and lo-fi recording techniques to today’s Take Pride in Your Long Odds,” said PopMatters, “and you’ll find a band with honed instincts still operating with reckless abandon.” And while Centro-matic (above, performing “Reset Anytime” for KXT FM) are out on the road in support of their new album and in as fine form as ever, it turns out that this is also a farewell tour. According to Johnson, “I can write with no hint of drama that our December tour will be the last Centro-matic tour for the indefinite and foreseeable future. For a handful of reasons, the time finally feels right to celebrate the existence of this thing, then let it rest.” But before they’re gone for good, you’ve got two chances to say goodbye, on Thursday at Rough Trade NYC and on Friday at Mercury Lounge.
Tags: Centro-matic, Mark Hedman, matt Pence, Mercury Lounge, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Preivew, Rough Trade NYC, Scott Danbom, Take Pride in Your Long Odds, Video, Will Johnson
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Max Richter – The Bowery Ballroom – December 7, 2104
Renowned composer-producer Max Richter graced New York City for a rare performance of his soundtrack for HBO’s The Leftovers, paired with his classic album, The Blue Notebooks, last night at The Bowery Ballroom. Richter’s music should resonate with cinephiles as his compositions have accompanied such films as Waltz with Bashir, Stranger Than Fiction, Prometheus and Shutter Island. It’s no wonder that HBO tapped the German-born British composer to score The Leftovers. The show’s producer Damon Lindelof (Lost) and director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) sought out Richter after hearing his score for a Broadway production of Macbeth.
Last night the esteemed Lower East Side venue was filled with melodious harmonies seeping into the crevasses that are normally reserved for rock and pop outfits. Clad in a black turtleneck, Richter took his place behind the piano as the American Contemporary Music Ensemble filed onstage. Opening the evening with “The Leftovers Piano Theme,” the band played the entire soundtrack. All in all the audience was rapt on the sumptuous notes. Through the set, uncertain applause was offered, as folks were not completely sure when pieces concluded. There was no doubt when the crescendo of strings came to a halting stop on “Afterimage 3” for an uproar of claps to follow. Richter confessed he never thought he’d perform the soundtrack live, but he was happy he had.
The performance of The Blue Notebooks was in honor of the album’s 10th anniversary. Tilda Swinton read the excerpts from Franz Kafka’s and Czeslaw Milosz’s works on the original recording. But at The Bowery Ballroom, Sarah Sutcliffe did the honors as Richter dabbled with sound effects on his iMac. Despite bows from the composer and ensemble upon the album’s conclusion, they returned to encore with “Autumn Music 2.” This unorthodox evening turned the venue into a concert recital hall, leaving fans with an indelible music memory. —Sharlene Chiu
Tags: American Contemporary Music Ensemble, Bowery Ballroom, Czeslaw Milosz, Damon Lindelof, Franz Kafka, Friday Night Lights, Macbeth, Max Richter, Peter Berg, Photos, Prometheus, Review, Shutter Island, Stranger Than Fiction, The Blue Notebooks, The Leftovers, Tilda Swinton, Waltz with Bashir
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