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Catch Weyes Blood Tonight at Music Hall of Williamsburg

March 30th, 2017

Natalie Mering’s arresting voice doesn’t sound as if it’s emanating from a person as much as from a lineage. As Weyes Blood, she even looks the part of the “atemporal” enchantress—to use the description of her record label, Mexican Summer—whose songwriting has an “ancient resonance,” almost as if she were passed into this time through the wardrobe door. And there’s as pretty of a sadness you’d ever want to hear generating her songs. Something transformative took hold of her sound on last year’s exquisite Front Row Seat to Earth (stream it below), her second proper Weyes Blood full-length. Reiterations of Judy Collins, Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell were elevated to a contemporary clarity, as if their classic folk songs of longing had undergone inventive remastering. On the closing of “Be Free” (above, performed live for Issue magazine) the eerie and delicate lift of Mering’s voice in slow waltzing lockstep with forlorn trombones makes you want to give her a grateful hug. And when “Generation Why” transforms from a somber piece of folk into a rising futuristic star with undercurrents of Enya and Giorgio Moroder and Klaus Doldinger, there’s a realization of being in the presence of something beautifully strange. Mering cherishes the art form while seizing it for her own design. Along with her latest recordings with Ariel Pink (including Myths 002, stream it below) to add to her discography, Weyes Blood has plenty to draw from for prime performances that may exist only in the timeless vacuum of Mering’s exposition, to which she has extended invitation. Essentially, it’s those artists like Weyes Blood who keep the lifeblood of alternative music pumping, so it hovers in mist over the high frequency electric bandwidth of excess, just above the glow of the streetlight, which is comforting to know. Walk into the dark of a park and you can reach up and touch it. And you can do the same when Weyes Blood plays Music Hall of Williamsburg tonight. Big-voiced singer-songwriter and guitarist Julie Byrne opens the show. —Charles Steinberg | @Challyolly

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Don’t Miss Vera Blue at Tonight’s Early Show at Mercury Lounge

March 29th, 2017

Sydney singer-songwriter Celia Pavey broke into the mainstream in her native country as part of the 2013 season of The Voice Australia. And in addition to putting out folkish music under her own name, Pavey’s also known for her Vera Blue project, thanks to the release of the well-received EP Fingertips (stream it below) in 2016. “Vera Blue delivers a compelling blend of electro-pop and folk-pop,” according to Renowned for Sound. “Pavey has exhibited a burgeoning maturity and artistry, and it will be neither surprising nor disappointing to hear her voice with increasing frequency.” The easiest way to up your frequency of hearing her is to go see Vera Blue (above, performing “Hold” live in studio for Triple J) tonight at Mercury Lounge. Taryn Randall’s Cote opens the show.

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Hear Some of the Bands You Can See This Week

March 27th, 2017

Hear some of the bands you can see this week.

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The Regrettes Come to the Lower East Side and Williamsburg

March 24th, 2017

Lydia Night (vocals), Genessa Gariano (guitar), Sage Nicole (bass) and Maxx Morando (drums) formed the energetic punk-rock quartet the Regrettes a little more than a year ago in Los Angeles, and earlier this year, the band’s first full-length studio album, Feel Your Feelings Fool! (stream it below)—influenced by ’50s rockers like Buddy Holly and the Ronettes—arrived on Warner Bros. Records. According to Teen Vogue, “Their music sounds like a lively blend of lo-fi surf rock meets the Strokes with a strong female lead.” And per AllMusic, “The Regrettes thread feminism, sneering angst and ecstasy. All these intertwined emotions give the album an emotional punch that complements its musical rush, a confluence of nervy energy that could easily be interpreted as a reflection of the Regrettes’ youth. Perhaps the quartet members are all in their teens but they’re preternaturally gifted as musicians, so Feel Your Feelings Fool! offers the best of both worlds: craft that endures combined with boundless excitement.” You’ve got two chances to catch the Regrettes (above, doing “A Living Human Girl” for Jam in the Van) locally, tonight at Mercury Lounge and on Monday night at Rough Trade NYC.

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A Double Dose of Alex Lahey in New York City This Weekend

March 24th, 2017

Alex Lahey, a favorite of Australia’s influential Triple J radio, finds songwriting cathartic: “I’m not a runner at all, but I can imagine it is a really similar experience to someone that enjoys running. It’s challenging, but it’s rewarding, and there are probably a lot of endorphins at the end. I imagine it’s something like that. It’s really challenging, but it’s a challenge that I’m willing to accept.” Before it was rereleased on Dead Oceans earlier this year, the 24-year-old singer-songwriter and guitarist self-released her debut EP, B-Grade University (stream it below), last summer. In naming the Melbourne, Australia, native an Artist to Watch, Stereogum proclaimed, “Lahey charges full-speed ahead into explorations of post-collegiate career anxiety (‘Ivy League’), blissful romantic fixation (‘Wes Anderson’), and youthful indiscretions (‘Let’s Go Out’) among other adventures.” She’s even since more recently made a name for herself with several buzzed-about sets at this year’s SXSW, and now Lahey (above, doing “You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me” for Balcony TV) is amidst a swing up the East Coast, which brings her to Rough Trade NYC tonight and Mercury Lounge tomorrow.

 

 

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Kick Off the Weekend with Noam Pikelny at The Bowery Ballroom

March 22nd, 2017

Call him “Pickles” or call him the banjo player from the Punch Brothers or maybe the inaugural winner of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass in 2010 or any number of superlatives he’s garnered over the years. Or maybe just call him Noam Pikelny. Whatever name you choose, no matter, the banjo player extraordinaire is sure to entertain and inspire. He’s just put out his first truly solo debut on Rounder Records, Universal Favorite (stream it below), a totally unaccompanied and honest record. Pikelny (above, performing “Redbud” for Fretboard Journal) plays The Bowery Ballroom on Friday (with limited seating available, first come, first served), expect originals and covers, bluegrass instrumentals and yes, some singing; some top-notch deadpan comedy and banjo playing that, by any other name, would sound as sweet. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

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Foxygen Return to New York City to Play Terminal 5 on Friday Night

March 22nd, 2017

Influenced by psychedelia, classic rock and avant-garde music, Sam France (vocals) and Jonathan Rado (guitar) formed the band Foxygen more than a decade ago in a Los Angeles suburb while still in high school. After self-releasing a slew of EPs and singles, they broke into the mainstream with the much-acclaimed long-player We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic (stream it below), out in 2013—and followed by an international tour. Earlier this year, the band (above, performing “Follow the Leader” live on Conan) returned with their fourth studio album, Hang (stream it below), backed by a 40-piece orchestra. “Holding absolutely nothing back, Foxygen deliver an absurdly grandiose album that should not work nearly as well as it does,” raves PopMatters. “Hang is the type of album for which the sobriquet ‘pop masterpiece’ was intended.” Out on the road in support of their new music, Foxygen play Terminal 5 on Friday night. A pair of local acts, the trio Sunflower Bean and the duo Purr, open the show.

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Don’t Miss José James This Thursday at The Bowery Ballroom

March 21st, 2017

“A jazz singer for the hip-hop generation, New York City–based vocalist José James has combined jazz, soul, drum ’n’ bass and spoken word into his own unique brand of vocal jazz,” according to AllMusic. Known equally for his acclaimed recorded work as he is for his fiery live performances, James (above, the video for “Always There”) released his most recent LP, the aptly named Love in a Time of Madness (stream it below), earlier this year. “On his fourth album for the Blue Note label, James deftly underlines jazz’s flexibility in relation to new pop trends, the way Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis did in the past,” says Pitchfork. Making his last East Coast appearance—before heading across the country and then on to Europe—José James plays The Bowery Ballroom on Thursday night. His band includes drummer, producer, composer and songwriter Nate Smith, and local versatile musician Corey King opens the show.

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Hear Some of the Bands You Can See This Week

March 20th, 2017

Hear some of the bands you can see this week.

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Aquilo Bring Acclaimed New Music to The Bowery Ballroom Monday

March 17th, 2017

Four years ago, in northwest England, Ben Fletcher and Tom Higham teamed up to make atmospheric, melancholy down-tempo electronic pop songs about heartbreak, loss and regret as the band Aquilo. After releasing a series of singles and EPs, the duo’s first studio full-length, Silhouettes (stream it below), arrived this past January. “It’s a work of art sewn together with a mesmerizing voice, a vocal that stops you in your tracks and forces you to listen,” according to Clash. “Crafted to perfection, Silhouettes is outstanding in its audible beauty.” And after a couple of American shows in Los Angeles and at SXSW, Aquilo (above, performing “Sorry”) play The Bowery Ballroom on Monday night.

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Spend Saturday Night with Ezra Furman at Rough Trade NYC

March 15th, 2017

Regardless of whether Chicago singer-songwriter Ezra Furman (above, doing “Teddy I’m Ready” live in studio for KEXP FM) is fronting a band or doing solo work, his calling card has become unpretentious music that’s raw and sentimental and what the Guardian calls “lyrics that burst out like water through an opened dam.” His most recent solo release, Big Fugitive Life (stream it below), came out last year. Clash called it “an enthralling EP that contains some of his finest work to date.” And “Ezra Furman maintains his perpetual motion,” added the Line of Best Fit. “The lyrics are endlessly quotable throughout.” Catch the free-spirited performer on Saturday night at Rough Trade NYC. Brooklyn garage-post-wave-psych band Monograms open the show.

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Arcade Fire’s Tim Kingsbury Brings His Sam Patch Project to NYC

March 8th, 2017

Following Arcade Fire’s world tour in support of their fourth studio album, Reflektor, Tim Kingsbury—the band’s guitarist and bassist—launched a side project called Sam Patch. Inspired by the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Leonard Cohen and ABBA, Kingsbury released the debut Sam Patch album, Yeah You, and I (stream it below), last month. It’s “a winning, engaging solo project full of analog synths and killer hooks,” according to PopMatters. “The songs have an innocent directness that’s welcoming and refreshing.” Kingsbury recently launched a short North American tour in support of the new tunes, which brings Sam Patch (above, the album’s second single “Listening”) to Mercury Lounge on Friday night. New York City singer-songwriter Miles Francis opens the show.

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Montreal Trio Heat Bring New Music to Mercury Lounge Tomorrow

March 8th, 2017

After doing time in other bands, Susil Sharma (vocals, guitar and synths) recorded the noisy, melodic demos that would become the original basis for the Montreal rock trio Heat, eventually joined by Matthew Fiorentino (guitar and synths) and Raphaël Bussières (bass). Their debut EP, Rooms (stream it below), arrived in 2014 and was rereleased the following year, earning the band comparisons to Pavement and the Jesus and Mary Chain. Taking a sonic leap forward, Heat (above, a video for “Lush”) returned with their debut full-length, Overnight (stream it below)—“heavy on melody and hooks, but with brash, shadowy undertones,” according to AllMusic—in January. And they play Mercury Lounge tomorrow night. NYC pop quintet Navy Gangs open the show.

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Springtime Carnivore Plays the Early Show Tuesday at Mercury Lounge

March 6th, 2017

After the breakup of prior bands, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Greta Morgan began artfully mixing psychedelia with sunny pop and folk rock as Springtime Carnivore a few years ago. A self-titled debut full-length (stream it below) came out in 2014. “This collection of warm, fuzzy indie pop, rock and psychedelic-tinged numbers represents a true new start for Morgan,” according to Paste. “The best of these songs transcend her previous work and hint toward new vistas that she’s clearly hoping to explore, and we’ll happily look in on her journey.” That journey continued with the 2016 release of Midnight Room (stream it below). The A.V. Club compared Springtime Carnivore (above, performing “Nude Polaroids” in studio for KEXP FM) to Neko Case & Her Boyfriends and Jenny Lewis and mentioned the album’s “beautiful, self-assured identity”—adding: “From the opening title track and its delicate blend of subdued synths, a brisk guitar rhythm and a lofty chorus, the record is emotionally adrift, wafting through comfortless heartbreak, warm nostalgia, and the alternative stargazing flourishes of fantasy and fatalistic wariness of delusion. The vehicle for all this is measured, glossy dream pop, polished with smooth, lush electronics and chilled with airy acoustic tones.” In mid-tour form, Springtime Carnivore plays Mercury Lounge tomorrow night. Terribly Yours open the show.

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Hear Some of the Bands You Can See This Week

March 6th, 2017

Hear some of the bands you can see this week.