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Two Nights of Two Bands That Like to Get the People Moving

November 25th, 2014

Brooklyn’s Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds—Arleigh Kincheloe and her big voice backed by “a flock of eight men who masterfully lay down thundering grooves and soaring melodies”—released their first soul-funk-filled album, a self-titled affair, in 2010. And although the LP was received well, it was the group’s high-energy live shows that really got them noticed. A second album, the tight and funky Pound of Dirt (stream it below), came out in 2012. And according to the Washington Post, “Brooklyn-bred and Memphis-inspired, the nine-piece band revels in unvarnished funk, the grittier the better.” But, nevertheless, the best way to experience Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds (above, performing “Boogie Man” at this year’s Mountain Jam) is live and in person.

The Pimps of Joytime formed in 2007, and their sound, influenced by Brooklyn DJ culture, is a musical stew of rock, soul, Afrobeat, salsa, electronica, rap and infectious Latin grooves. In other words, it’s got something for everyone. Led by the charismatic, soulful Brian J—and vocalists Chauncey Yearwood and Mayteana Morales—the Brooklyn-based band has steadily played club and festival gigs, leaving smiling, sweaty people in their wake each time. Their most recent album, Janxta Funk! (stream it below), is what the Guardian calls “a no-nonsense distillation of the most infectious elements of party funk, with a welcoming approach that emphasizes peaceful good times.” And now you can cut loose in person with the Pimps of Joytime (above, doing a stripped-down version of “The Jump” for MoBoogie) and Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds when the road-tested groove machines play The Bowery Ballroom on Friday and Saturday.

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L.A. Trio Wildcat! Wildcat! Make a Home at The Bowery Ballroom

November 25th, 2014

Wildcat! Wildcat! – The Bowery Ballroom – November 24, 2014

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Despite taking their name from a reference to Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums, Wildcat! Wildcat! don’t sound anything like that film’s soundtrack, but rather they produce hazy tracks perfect for long drives around their home city, Los Angeles. Bassist Jesse Taylor, keyboardist Michael Wilson and drummer Jesse Carmichael garnered plenty of buzz for their early releases, a sold-out 7″ and a self-titled debut EP. And following a busy 2013 touring and supporting Alt-J and Portugal. The Man, the lads released their first full-length album, No Moon at All, this past August.

On an unseasonably warm Monday in New York City, the sunny tracks provided a perfect (if temporary) send-off to the autumn chills. Southern Californians turned The Bowery Ballroom into a party beginning with the slow burner “Tower // W.O.H.L.” Its quiet, starry intro burst into a kaleidoscope of dance beats and an echo of “put your head down low.” The vibe continued with the glimmering guitar lines against floating falsetto on “Garden Grays.” Although they almost played their album in its entirety, Wildcat! Wildcat! made sure to pepper the set with tracks from earlier in their catalog to delight fans.

Notably, Taylor admitted that they hadn’t played “The Chief” in some time, but those in the audience couldn’t tell a bit. Having dropped a cover of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” on Baeble Music earlier in the day, the trio played their rendition live for the first time. And on a night when Carmichael hacked through not one but two sets of drumsticks, it seemed like nothing could limit the exuberance in the crowded room. Wildcat! Wildcat! ended the show and their tour with an encore of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” —Sharlene Chiu

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Interpol Play with a Purpose on Their Home Turf at Terminal 5

November 25th, 2014

Interpol – Terminal 5 – November 24, 2014

Interpol – Terminal 5 – November 24, 2014
Image always matters in popular music, perhaps more than it should. So when Interpol emerged in 2002, pouncing like a fenced-in Doberman onto New York City’s then indeterminate alternative-rock scene, they evenly struck the balance between style and substance with impact. Theirs was a convincing symbiosis. The music was at once emphatic and intricately textured, catchy yet with cerebral and ambitious arrangements, and their image of midnight coolness mirrored it effortlessly, lending the mystique and credibility to a style of rock that was commanding and often imposing. Their debut album, Turn On the Bright Lights, was the soundtrack to Friday nights in NYC, with all of its promised deviousness to be found in the shadows and around corners.

Twelve years—and four albums, including the freshly released El Pintor—later, and Interpol return for a homecoming, beginning on Monday a sold-out three-night run at Terminal 5. With the glimmering bravado underlying the elegance of a veteran band, they played with the purpose of cementing their legacy. Armed with a classic like Turn On the Bright Lights makes it easier to throw around your weight, and an abrupt announcement of their stature was delivered with the opening statement, “Say Hello to the Angels,” a stalwart number off their first record. An assertive turn into new material, like “Anywhere” and “Everything Is Wrong,” was deftly interwoven with the invigorating “Take You on a Cruise” and the crowd-pleasing “Evil,” with its whimsical flavoring of ’50s-era Jerry Lee Lewis rock and roll over their trademark rhythmic surge. Quite suddenly, the divide between stage and audience disappeared like a bridge in the fog as Paul Banks’s haunting, serpentine vocals took turns with Daniel Kessler’s shimmering guitar chords, elevating the icy operative-like persistence of Sam Fogarino’s drumming.

Ruminative pieces “Lights” and the “The Lighthouse,” pulled along by the Kessler’s sultry strumming, echoed just long enough amidst the black sea of currents projected behind them, before giving way to the climactic flourish that everyone knew was coming: The show culminated with “PDA” and its wondrous cascading finale. By night’s end, Interpol had left no doubt of their authority. Somehow, they represent how the smart, artistic post-graduates living in the city want to come across, and their tensely dramatic rock songs have always been in sync with their collectively pounding pulse. Listening to Interpol brings with it a rush, like stepping out into a biting, blustery winter wind from somewhere safe and warm. —Charles Steinberg

Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com

(Try to Grow a Pair of tickets to tomorrow’s sold-out Interpol show at Terminal 5.)

Contest

Grow a Pair: Win Two Free Tickets to See Interpol Tomorrow

November 25th, 2014

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Interpol released their terrific third album, El Pintor, near the end of this past summer, and they’ve been traveling the country in support of it ever since. The local trio’s tour finishes this week with three sold-out shows at Terminal 5. And The House List is giving away two tickets to see them there tomorrow night. So if you got shut out originally but still want to go, try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy, 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 (Interpol, 11/26) and a brief message explaining your favorite thing about Thanksgiving. Eddie Bruiser, who enjoys eating food covered in gravy, will notify the winner by tomorrow. Good luck.

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The Kin Return Home to Headline Music Hall of Williamsburg

November 25th, 2014

Australian brothers (and vocalists) Isaac (keys) and Thorald Koren (guitar) had played with a number of other musicians before they teamed up with Buffalo’s bare-knuckle drummer Mark Nicosia, who goes by Shakerleg. Together, they’re the Kin, and the power trio has been known to stage musical robberies, by striding into a location—a deli, a bar, an airport—and shouting, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a musical robbery” before winning over the crowd with an original tune. “We’re looking to surprise people and give them a musical experience,” says Isaac. The Kin (above, performing “On the Rise” on Conan) have been touring behind last year’s debut EP, Get On It (stream it below), while readying a proper full-length. And they return home to headline Music Hall of Williamsbug tomorrow night. Soulful rocker Matt MacKelcan opens the show.

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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

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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.

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Jay Stolar – Mercury Lounge – November 22, 2014

November 24th, 2014

Jay Stolar - Mercury Lounge - November 22, 2014

Photos courtesy of Ahron Foster | ahronfoster.com

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

November 24th, 2014

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

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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

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Hear Some of the Bands You Can See This Week

November 24th, 2014

Hear some of the bands you can see this week.

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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

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The New Pornographers Are in the Zone

November 21st, 2014

The New Pornographers – Union Transfer – November 20, 2014

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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

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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.

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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

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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.