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Nikki Lane Brings New Music to Music Hall of Williamsburg

February 28th, 2017

When it comes to talented singer-songwriter Nikki Lane, AllMusic says it best: “Nikki Lane reinvents the nostalgic sounds of 1960s country music for a modern audience, mixing Southern twang with lush orchestral arrangements and the occasional pop/rock hook.” She dropped out of high school in South Carolina before hightailing it to Los Angeles to work as a fashion designer. Later, she moved to New York City where she began making acoustic country songs following a bad breakup, before ultimately settling in Nashville, where her career would eventually take off. Her first full-length, Walk of Shame (stream it below), came out in 2011, earning her comparisons to Wanda Jackson and Neko Case. All or Nothin’ (stream it below), produced by the Black KeysDan Auerbach, followed in 2014. “If Lana Del Rey had pores, bodily fluids or even the rare hair out of place, she might be Nikki Lane, the East Nashville firebrand who understands sangfroid is a lot more explosive when you roughen up the edges and throw down a gauntlet,” raved Paste. Lane (above, performing “Jackpot” live in studio for WRLT FM) returned with her third full-length, Highway Queen (stream it below), just a couple of weeks ago. “Three albums into her career, Lane remains true to her vision of classic country by way of alt-rock—a pigeonhole she seems happy to inhabit,” according to Exclaim. “This is her best album yet.” Find out how it sounds live when Nikki Lane plays Music Hall of Williamsburg on Thursday night. A pair of singer-songwriters, Brent Cobb and Jonathan Tyler, open the show.

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Hear Some of the Bands You Can See This Week

February 27th, 2017

Hear some of the bands you can see this week.

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Begin Your Weekend with Dead Man Winter at The Bowery Ballroom

February 24th, 2017

Dave Simonett (vocals and guitar) helped launched the progressive-bluegrass string band Trampled by Turtles 14 years ago in Duluth, Minn. And while they’ve remained busy ever since, performing, recording and touring, Simonett formed another musical outfit, a sort-of country-rock side project, Dead Man Winter, in Minneapolis—at least temporarily leaving behind frenetic acoustic music for a more relaxed electric take. The group’s debut, Bright Lights (stream it below), came out in 2011. “Electrified guitars roar loudly over a whispering bluegrass, resulting in a sound that hits the ear like a corn-fed Black Crowes,” said Relix. Dead Man Winter (above, doing “Destroyer” for The Lowertown Line) returned this month with their sophomore long-player, the breakup-album Furnace (stream it below), which covers the end of Simonett’s marriage and the splintering of his family, delivered free of self-pity. “Furnace leaves ashes in its wake and cigarette-burn marks on your heart,” according to Paste. “But such heavy lyrical content doesn’t necessitate sad, smoldering music. Indeed, Furnace is steeped in rich folk-rock traditions…. It’s this kind of musical range and lyrical brutality that makes an artist—someone who can find, and then articulate, something beautiful in the wake of destruction.” Touring behind the new album, Dead Man Winter play The Bowery Ballroom tonight. Another Minnesotan, singer-songwriter John Mark Nelson, opens the show.

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Japandroids Return with Anthemic Music, Play Terminal 5 Tomorrow

February 22nd, 2017

Brian King (vocals and guitar) and David Prowse (drummer) bonded over a shared love of music in college and went on to form the garage-rock duo Japandroids more than a decade ago in Vancouver, B.C. Their debut full-length, Post-Nothing (stream it below), arrived in 2009. The two were still fairly unknown, and, frustrated by not already having made it, they figured they’d put out the album and then break up. But thanks to some glowing reviews—including Pitchfork’s “Best New Music” label—the LP ended up becoming an indie smash, and Japandroids (above, performing “Near to the Heart of Wild” on The Late Show with Steven Colbert) went on tour behind it. Their follow-up, the punk-influenced Celebration Rock (stream it below), came out three years later, again pleasing fans and critics alike. The album “starts strong and stays there over the course of its eight songs and 35 minutes,” according to the A.V. Club. After a long tour in support of it, Japandroids stayed quiet for several years. They began playing live shows again over the course of the latter half of 2016, and last month, their third full-length, the anthemic Near to the Wild Heart of Life (stream it below), came out. “With guitars soaring and grooves accelerating, the worlds feel undeniable,” says Rolling Stone, “and you know that when you hear ’em in a club—or theater, or arena—you’ll be bouncing off the walls, shouting every word.” Come shout along when Japandroids play Terminal 5 tomorrow night. Taking a break from the Hold Steady, Craig Finn & the Uptown Controllers open the show.

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Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears at Music Hall of Williamsburg

February 21st, 2017

Joe Lewis (guitar and vocals) was working in an Austin, Texas, pawnshop when he first picked up a guitar. He began playing around-town gigs as part of a blues trio, but, inspired by the likes of Lightnin’ Hopkins and Iggy Pop, his interests also included, rock, soul and R&B. So Lewis branched out musically and eventually started playing with different people. Then things clicked: Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears—rounded out by Bill Stevenson (drums), Jason Frey (tenor sax), Derek Phelps (trumpet), Joseph Woullard (baritone sax) and Eduardo Torres (drums)—have a big, full sound, and so even the songs that are straight to the point, like “I’m Broke” or “Big Booty Woman,” will keep you moving. The Honeybears have earned comparisons to Stax Records groups—although keeping it local, they don’t sound too dissimilar from the Dap-Kings—and with his big, shouted vocals, Lewis’s name is mentioned alongside Wilson Pickett’s. After a four-year break, Lewis and Co. (above, performing “PTP” for KEXP FM) returned with their fifth album, Backlash (stream it below), two weeks ago. “There aren’t many acts out there throwing down with this kind of high-energy trashy intensity,” says American Songwriter. “For those unafraid to get the neighbors calling the cops during their next party, Lewis and his growling Honeybears bring the dangerous, hard-charging soul goods to tear the roof off the sucker.” See them do it live, tomorrow night at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Vampire Weekend drummer Chris Tomson’s Dams of the West open the show.

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Hear Some of the Bands You Can See This Week

February 20th, 2017

Hear some of the bands you can see this week.

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Borgore Brings New Music to Terminal 5 on Saturday Night

February 16th, 2017

Asaf Borger is a record-label owner who’s been in an Israeli deathcore band in addition to a dubstep duo, but he’s most well-known as the producer and vocalist Borgore, making an aggressive metal-influenced EDM he calls “gorestep.” He’s toured around the world and collaborated with the likes of Miley Cyrus, Waka Flocka Flame and Barrington Levy while releasing a slew of singles and EPs, the most recent of which, The Buygore Album (stream it below), came out in 2015. And with new music on the way—the album Harder arrives on Friday—Borgore celebrates its release at Terminal 5 on Saturday night. NYC’s Prince Fox and Ray Volpe, out of Charlotte, N.C., open the show.

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Common Kings Bring Brand-New Music to The Bowery Ballroom

February 14th, 2017

Inspired by R&B, soul and reggae—and their Polynesian roots—JR King (vocals), Taumata Grey (guitar), Ivan Kirimaua (bass) and Jerome Taito (drums) began jamming together a few years ago while attending Orange Coast College, which led to them later forming the pop-rock four-piece Common Kings in Orange County, Calif. After putting out several EPs and singles, their impressive debut full-length, the catchy, upbeat Lost in Paradise (stream it below), arrived earlier this month. And touring behind the new tunes, Common Kings (above, their official video for “Lost in Paradise”) play The Bowery Ballroom on Wednesday night. Miami hip-hop group ¡Mayday! and big-wave surfer and reggae-pop singer-songwriter Makua Rothman open the show.

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Hear Some of the Bands You Can See This Week

February 13th, 2017

Hear some of the bands you can see this week.

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Gang of Youths Kick Off February Residency on Monday Night

February 10th, 2017

Although they hail from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and the United States, Max Dunn (bass), Jung Kim (guitar and keys), David Le’aupepe (vocals and keys), Joji Malani (guitar) and Donnie Borzestowski (drums) formed the baroque-pop five-piece Gang of Youths five years ago in Sydney. Rolling Stone called their first full-length, The Positions (stream it below)—a vivid celebration of life following some seriously dark times—an “emotionally charged debut” and made comparisons to Kings of Leon and Bruce Springsteen. Last year, Gang of Youths (above, performing “Poison Drum” for World Cafe) returned with the EP Let Me Be Clear (stream it below). “The expectation of a sophomore slump can be enough by itself to throw off the career of the most promising bands, and it would have been easy for Gang of Youths to keep churning out string-tinged rock songs,” according to Sputnik Music. “Instead … they’ve shown an insatiable thirst to keep building and transforming their sound.” Find out how they sound live when Gang of Horses play Mercury Lounge on 2/13 and 2/20 and Rough Trade NYC on 2/27.

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Shy Girls and Flamingosis End Tour at Music Hall of Williamsburg

February 8th, 2017

Dan Vidmar grew up in State College, Pa., and played in local rock bands while attending Penn State. Upon graduation, he moved to Portland, Ore., and became interested in what some call PBR&B. Some singles and a pair of EPs under the name Shy Girls led to collaborations and work with the likes of Haim, Odesza, Maxwell and Jagwar Ma. His first full-length, Salt (stream it below), arrived last month. “As soon as Dan Vidmar hits you with those soft falsettos, it’s all over,” says Nylon. “The album is soaking with smooth and sophisticated power ballads supported by a resilient force of production.”

Hailing from Morristown, N.J.—and influenced by the likes of J Dilla, Flying Lotus and vintage funk and disco—producer, beatboxer and DJ Aaron Velasquez makes funky hip-hop beats under the name Flamingosis (the name comes from a freestyle Frisbee move his dad invented). On his most recent release, last year’s Bright Moments (stream it below), he “flawlessy fuses hip-hop and funk,” according to Hype Beast. “The producer’s new album weaves smooth 1970s and 1980s samples into perfect grooves,” per MTV. Come shake your way into the weekend when Shy Girls and Flamingosis close out their tour on Friday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

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P.O.S Brings New Music to Rough Trade NYC and Mercury Lounge

February 6th, 2017

Rapper, singer, self-taught multi-instrumentalist and producer Stefon Alexander has been doing business as the punk-influenced underground hip-hop artist P.O.S in Minneapolis since around the turn of the century. He’s one of the founding members of hip-hop collective Doomtree, while also finding time to be part of a punk band, Building Better Bombs, and another Twin Cities collective, indie rockers Gayngs. Fortunately, P.O.S (above, performing “Sleepdrone” live in studio for KEXP FM) continues to do solo work. His fifth full-length studio album, Chill, Dummy (stream it below), which features guest vocals by Justin Vernon, came out at the end of January. A.V. Club calls it “a record about surviving, living and battling for every little thing you’ve got—something P.O.S knows his fair share about.” And Pitchfork says Alexander “is still all about his consciousness, and usefully motivated by anger. But on Chill, Dummy, he embraces a freed-up feel, with some grooves you might hear in a club.” Now out on the road, the lyrical bomb-thrower plays Rough Trade NYC tomorrow night and Mercury Lounge on Wednesday. Rappers Ceschi Ramos and Transit22 open both shows.

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Hear Some of the Bands You Can See This Week

February 6th, 2017

Hear some of the bands you can see this week.

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Icelandic Singer-Songwriter Ólöf Arnalds Plays Mercury Lounge

February 3rd, 2017

Despite her instrumental prowess—classically trained on violin and viola and self-taught on guitar and charangoÓlöf Arnalds’ calling card is her crystalline voice. She was already fairly well-known in Iceland’s music scene by the time her debut solo release, Við Og Við (stream it below), arrived in 2007, going on to win Record of the Year and Best Alternative Album at the Icelandic Music Awards. When the LP came out in the U.S. three years later, Paste declared, “Earnest, heartfelt declarations of love are a welcome change from the too-cool posturing of so much of today’s popular music. Familial affection will never go out of style; neither will deftly plucked stringed instruments, subtle orchestral swells and a songbird lilt this impossibly lovely.” The singer-songwriter has since toured with the likes of Björk, Jonathan Richman and Dirty Projectors and released several more EPs and full-players, including 2014’s Palme (stream it below). It’s “as pure as powdered snow, yet bubbling over with fairy mischief,” proclaimed AllMusic. Arnalds (above, performing an Icelandic version of “Turtledove” for the Line of Best Fit and, below, covering “Mr. Tambourine Man”) “is a weaver of ephemera, and with each new collection of music, she both defines herself and furthers her own mythology, a mythology that’s wholly intertwined with the lore of her Nordic homeland.” See her play Mercury Lounge tomorrow night. Alternative-folk trio Cold Weather Company open the show.

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The Chain Gang of 1974 Kick Off the Weekend at Rough Trade NYC

February 1st, 2017

After becoming heavily influenced by Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” DJ and multi-instrumentalist Kamtin Mohager launched the post-funk electronic-dance project the Chain Gang of 1974 about a decade ago, earning comparisons to Daft Punk, New Order and Passion Pit with the release of Wayward Fire (stream it below) in 2011—“A bright, hook-laden, bouncy affair that takes your face and rubs it in its subwoofer big beats,” according to PopMatters—and Daydream Forever (stream it below), which per AllMusic has “even more attention to hooks and beefed-up production that thickens the pop sheen with a heavy electronic backbone,” in 2014. With new music on the horizon, the Chain Gang of 1974 (above, performing “Sleepwalking”) play Rough Trade NYC on Friday night. Bel Heir, a Philly trio, open the show.