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Fleet Foxes Return to Brooklyn This Week for Two Shows

July 31st, 2017

Fleet Foxes really know how to lay it on thick. Well, let me rephrase that: Fleet Foxes (above, performing “Fool’s Errand” for CBS This Morning) really know how to build a song. Ever since their first release, the EP Sun Giant (stream it below), in 2008, they have set the bar with their lush pastoral-folk sound beneath their signature stacked angelic harmonies. The group’s leader and frontman, Robin Pecknold, has remained a true perfectionist in their time as a band. Intensely laboring over the crafting of these intricate tunes, they have only released three full-length albums in almost a decade. Their newest, this year’s Crack-Up (stream it below), was released after a six-year silence, and it’s safe to say that it was well worth the wait. The LP’s dense, vibrant textures act like a tall drink of water for salivating fans who have been craving new material since the band’s last release, 2011’s Helplessness Blues (stream it below). Fleet Foxes bring their tour to the Prospect Park Bandshell for two BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn shows this week that are sure to be epic: tomorrow (which is already sold out) and again on Wednesday. —Pat King | @MrPatKing

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Hear Some of the Bands You Can See This Week

July 31st, 2017

Hear some of the bands you can see this week.

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Aussie Bluesman C.W. Stoneking Plays Mercury Lounge Tomorrow

July 26th, 2017

Australian blues musician C.W. Stoneking already had two solid albums behind him by the time he released Gon’ Boogaloo (stream it below) in 2014, the record that revealed the deeper, darker mojo of his sound that the first two only nodded toward. Undoubtedly it felt heavier. Stoneking went toward an electric six-string approach—favoring a Fender Jazzmaster—rather than the National steel and banjo formats from earlier. But he framed those gnarlier guitar sonics still in the gospel, ragtime and swaggering Delta blues he loves, and sweetened it a bit with backup singers. Stoneking is pure old-timey mojo. It takes a certain someone with a certain something to acquit numbers like “The Zombie” (performed live, above) or lines like “Down where the drums go boom, baba-boom, baba-boom, mm-mm/ Anybody see me, sure ’bout to meet their doom” and not have it sound like some kind of Cab Calloway–aping approximation of bullshit hoodoo or junior-league Tom Waits. Instead, thanks to Stoneking’s style and distinctive voice, it’s awesome, haunting and thick with tension, while not so self-serious that it loses the entertainment value—Stoneking once admitted that his song “Jungle Blues” was inspired as much by the keyboard in 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” as it was 1920 and 1930s hellhound-on-trail stuff—or devolves into lo-fi howling just ’cause there might be a full moon tonight. “I take inspiration from all sorts of music, from locations all around the world and different time periods,” he told PopMatters in 2016. “I make my own thing, which, depending on your frame of reference might sound like any one of those but to me, knowing my process, it’s a different thing altogether.” Stoneking plays the early show at Mercury Lounge on Thursday. Get there early for Moist Paula’s Bliss Station, featuring bari saxophonist extraordinare Moist Paula (Moisturizer, Rev. Vince Anderson, Binky Griptite and many more) in a sax-bass-drums format. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson

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Hear Some of the Bands You Can See This Week

July 24th, 2017

Hear some of the bands you can see this week.

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Jesse Malin and Juliana Hatfield Play The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday

July 21st, 2017

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Jesse Malin (above, performing “Meet Me at the End of the World” for Paste Studios) has been a fixture on the downtown music scene—as a bandleader and a solo artist—since the ’80s. The prolific performer’ recent release, an EP, Meet Me at the End of the World (stream it above), came out at the end of June. And on Saturday night at The Bowery Ballroom, he teams up with another singer-songwriter and guitarist with a new album, Juliana Hatfield (below, performing “I Wanna Be Your Disease” also for Paste Studios), whose Pussycat (stream it below) was inspired by last year’s presidential election: “All of these songs just started pouring out of me. And I felt an urgency to record them.” Matthew Ryan opens the show.

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RAQ Play Late After Phish at Mercury Lounge on Friday and Saturday

July 20th, 2017

The guys in RAQJay Burwick (bass and vocals), Chris Michetti (guitar and vocals), Todd Stoops (keys and vocals) and Scotty Zwang (drums)—formed the experimental, improvisational jam band in Burlington, Vt., at the turn of the century. They’ve been winning over fans ever since thanks to their complex song structures and quirky-yet-accessible lyrics. And with Phish kicking off 13 dates at Madison Square Garden beginning tomorrow night, RAQ (above, doing “Beauregard”) will be handling late-night duties on Friday and then again on Saturday at Mercury Lounge.

 

 

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Thurston Moore Comes Home to Play The Bowery Ballroom on Friday

July 19th, 2017

When New York City music icons Sonic Youth broke up—or at least went on hiatus—in 2011, no one really knew what to expect of the group’s members. But, fortunately, we didn’t have to wait too long to find out that vocalist-guitarist Thurston Moore would remain busy, musically speaking. He’s worked with Yoko Ono and he’s done his own thing with a pair of bands, with Chelsea Light Moving and the Thurston Moore Group, alongside Deb Googe on bass, Steve Shelley on drums and James Sedwards on guitar. Moore (above, recording “Transcendent Transaction”) released Rock n Roll (stream it below) earlier this year to some considerable acclaim. The “new solo LP evokes the hippie leanings that were always at the heart of Sonic Youth,” says Pitchfork. “With some of his most joyous lyrics to date, Moore uses outer aggression to achieve inner bliss,” while Spin calls it: “His most transportive solo record yet.” Now based in London, Moore comes back home to NYC to play The Bowery Ballroom on Friday night.

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Ages and Ages Play Mercury Lounge with Skyway Man Tomorrow

July 19th, 2017

On Ages and Ages’ newest album, Something to Ruin (stream it above), the Portland, Ore., band takes upbeat and inspiring choral pop to some dark places. Oh, you know, just the collapse of Western civilization, done in by consumerism and neglect. Their music retains its uplifting openheartedness, a modern-day gospel with a progressive spirit. Ages and Ages (above, performing “As It Is” for WFUV FM) bring their communal energy—shared vocals, thoughtful melodies and an abundance of handclaps—to Mercury Lounge on Thursday. The early show will kick off with Skyway Man (below, doing “We Both Have Nothing to Fear”), the creative effort of Nashville, Tenn., singer-songwriter James Wallace. He’ll be playing music from the recently released Seen Comin’ from a Mighty Eye (stream it below), an under-the-radar sci-fi folk epic recorded with Matthew E. White in his Spacebomb Studios. The combined bill will be rife with excellent songs, some unique sounds and plenty to contemplate: past, present and future. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

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Conor Oberst Headlines Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park

July 18th, 2017

What a thrilling ride it’s been to watch Conor Oberst (above, performing “Tachycardia” at the Sydney Opera House) grow up. Beginning his insanely prolific singer-songwriter career, as Bright Eyes, at the ripe age of 13, Oberst’s releases have tested the limits of multiple genres (check out his politically charged punk band Desaparecidos if you need proof) all while strengthening his skills as one of the best lyricists of the past 20 years. And while it might be lazy to throw out the Dylan comparisons, hey, they both grew up in the Midwest. There must be something in the water? Oberst has put out records in the past under his own name accompanied by the Mystic Valley Band, but his 2008 eponymous album (stream it below) was truly his first solo venture. Last year’s Ruminations (stream it below) went further down that path as he stripped down his songs to their ribcages with only Oberst playing guitar, piano and the occasional harmonica. He later released a full-band companion version of that album titled Salutations with Catskill Mountains’ favorite sons the Felice Brothers acting as his backing band. Oberst and the Felice Brothers will bring songs from his entire career to the Prospect Park Bandshell on Thursday for an electrifying night of music. Philly rock royalty Hop Along and Brooklyn’s own Big Thief will open. Show up early so you don’t miss these two great bands for what will be one of the most stacked bills of the summer. —Pat King | @MrPatKing

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PJ Harvey Comes to SummerStage in Central Park on Wednesday

July 17th, 2017

PJ Harvey (above, performing “The Community of Hope” live on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) has a short fuse leading to a powder keg full of emotion. And for more than two decades, she’s been using this unbridled intensity to astounding effect. With such albums that have withstood the tests of time as Rid of Me (stream it below), Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (stream it below) and Let England Shake (stream it below), Harvey has as rich and rewarding of a catalog as any of her peers. These albums have all earned their right to be called classics and still sound as vibrant and ahead of their time today. Last year’s The Hope Six Demolition Project (stream it below) is no different, with some of Harvey’s most musically adventurous and politically charged material to date. She and her top-notch band will be setting the Central Park SummerStage ablaze this Wednesday with songs from her entire career. Any chance to see Harvey and her band in the flesh is a truly mesmerizing experience. This show is one you should not miss. All hail, Polly Jean Harvey. —Pat King | @MrPatKing

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Hear Some of the Bands You Can See This Week

July 17th, 2017

Hear some of the bands you can see this week.

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Woods Bring Feel-Good Music Home to The Bowery Ballroom

July 13th, 2017

Plenty of artists have, for better or worse, found inspiration in today’s headlines, much of the resulting music reflecting a dark view on the news of the day. When Woods felt compelled to enter the studio to capture the current mood, the resulting songs were much more optimistic in tone. The mini-album, Love Is Love (stream it below), recorded and released earlier this year, conveys its message in its title track. Taking their evolved sound from last year’s City Sun Eater in the River of Light (stream it below) even further, the new record is awash in pastoral psych-folk amidst upbeat jazz-funk horn fills. Woods (above, performing “Creature Comfort” in studio for KEXP FM) bring the new material and a hefty back catalog of inspired songwriting and spinout jams—and maybe some catharsis—back to The Bowery Ballroom for a Saturday night homecoming. It’ll be a family affair, with John Andrews and the Yawns (plus Cut Worms) opening. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

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The Kickback Celebrate a New Album Thursday at Mercury Lounge

July 12th, 2017

Now based in Chicago, Billy Yost (vocals and guitar), Jonny Ifergan (guitar) and Daniel Leu (bass) have been making eclectic music together since forming the Kickback close to 10 years ago. Following the release of several EPs, their catchy debut full-length, Sorry All Over the Place (stream it below), dropped two years ago. “The Kickback turn Sorry All Over the Place into a whimsical and ambitious fit of rock potpourri,” reported Consequence of Sound. “The band squeezes the pop-rock template dry, milking that broad category for its many musical riches.” Their sophomore LP, Weddings & Funerals, arrives on Friday, but the Kickback (above, doing “White Lodge” for Jam in the Van) celebrate its release a night early, on Thursday at Mercury Lounge.

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My Morning Jacket Return to NYC to Play Forest Hills Stadium

July 12th, 2017

Louisville, Ky., road warriors My Morning Jacket are known for their wildly entertaining, energetic live performances deftly covering material from their seven studio albums, including 2015’s The Waterfall (stream it below), with a well-placed cover or two sprinkled throughout their set. They have a sum-of-their-parts sound—with each performer locked in unison—that still allows all five members room to shine. Frontman Jim James and guitarist Carl Broemel—perhaps the band’s secret weapon, at the very front of the stage, his hair furiously swaying in harmony with his slashing guitar—play in, at and around each other over the course of the entire two-plus-hours show, oftentimes face to face. But despite the fiery duo’s considerable presence, it’s Patrick Hallahan’s ferocious drumming, Tom Blankenship’s forward-thrusting bass (no more so than on “The Dark”) and Bo Koster’s subtle keys work that drive everything forward, one song into the next, often with an effortless-sounding segue. On Saturday at Forest Hills Stadium, My Morning Jacket (above, performing “Phone Went West” at Red Rocks), who have played New York City shows at rooms as small as Mercury Lounge and as big as Madison Square Garden, roll into Queens in mid-tour form. Guitar hero Gary Clark Jr. opens the show.

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A Double Dose of Pokey LaFarge in New York City This Week

July 11th, 2017

Pokey LaFarge, born Andrew Heissler, is what you might call an old soul. You could imagine him, plucking away with that whipcrack band, at the Cotton Club or some other bygone temple of ancient, potent music, stirring up impure thoughts and a hankering for more gin or whiskey. He’s on tour again, this time behind Manic Revelations (stream it below), which fleshes out his sepia-toned blues, rockabilly and Western swing with Memphis soul and gospel elements, complete with horns—and a framing of current political themes. The first place to start is “Riot in the Streets,” which the New York Times was right in calling “like an explanation of now, delivered in an ancient language.” A St. Louis native, LaFarge (above, performing “Bad Dreams” for KCMP FM) addresses the death of Michael Brown, police victimization and media bias. “What I wanted to convey was the desperation people feel when they have been pushed to brink,” he told the Huffington Post in May. “No more talking. No more waiting. No more silence. Sometimes you have to fight.” You get him twice this week: Wednesday at The Bowery Ballroom and Thursday at Rough Trade NYC. And you can expect a healthy focus on the 10 outstanding Manic tracks with a judicious sampling of material going back to his 2006 debut. His band is the South City Three, including bass, harmonica, electric guitar, drums, clarinet, sax and trumpet, with a few other variables as they see fit. Go from there and relish the retro flavor. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson