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Tei Shi Plays a Hometown Show at Music Hall of Williamsburg

September 19th, 2017

Singer-songwriter Valerie Teicher grew up in Bogotá, Colombia, and Vancouver, B.C., before heading to Boston to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music. She’s since brought her keen pop sensibilities to Brooklyn, recording and performing as Tei Shi. And after gaining notice with the release of several singles and a pair of EPs, her acclaimed debut full-length, Crawl Space (stream it below), was released this past March. “Loaded with vocal hooks, sassy, R&B-infused performances and textured, groove-powered tunes, it’s a hypnotic set that’s definitely got its own thing going on,” says AllMusic. “Her bijou brand of left-field R&B shares space with Chairlift or Little Dragon,” adds the Observer. Now out on the road in support of the LP, Tei Shi (above, performing “Say You Do” live in studio for KEXP FM) comes home to play Music Hall of Williamsburg on Wednesday night. Los Angeles singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lawrence Rothman opens.

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Catch the Tallest Man on Earth with yMusic Live at Pioneer Works

September 18th, 2017

Although diminutive in stature, Kristian Matsson is the Tallest Man on Earth with a booming voice that commands even the biggest of stages. The Swede has a knack for luring in listeners with his delicate, composed songs that are often accompanied by just a guitar or a piano. It’s no wonder Justin Vernon plucked him out of relative obscurity to tour with him in 2008, an opening slot that led to the first solo Tallest Man on Earth American tour. Since then the singer-songwriter has produced four studio full-lengths and his latest release is a gem of an EP with the chamber ensemble yMusic, aptly titled The Tallest Man on Earth with yMusic (stream it below). The album revisits material from Matsson’s There’s No Leaving Now (stream it below) and The Wild Hunt (stream it below) LPs, as well as a cover of Joan Baez’s “East Virginia.” Matsson first played with the genre-straddling collective back at the 2015 Eaux Claire Festival in Wisconsin. (Watch the Tallest Man on Earth performing “Rivers” with yMusic, above.) He has no plans to release a new long-player this year or to do much touring, but he will make a rare live appearance with yMusic at Pioneer Works on Wednesday and Thursday (the latter is already sold out). —Sharlene Chiu

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Hear Some of the Bands You Can See This Week

September 18th, 2017

Hear some of the bands you can see this week.

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Mutemath Bring New Album to Brooklyn Steel on Wednesday

September 18th, 2017

Influenced by the soulful sounds of the ’60s and ’70s and alternative rock of the past (think: Air, Radiohead, New Order), Mutemath (above, doing “War”) formed a decade-and-a-half ago in New Orleans. The band—now Paul Meany (vocals and keys), Jonathan Allen (bass) and Todd Gummerman (guitar)—has since been equally known for engaging live performances and their recorded output, including full-lengths, EPs and live releases. Their fifth studio long-player, Play Dead (stream it below), came out earlier this month, and their tour in support of it rolls through Kings County to play Brooklyn Steel on Wednesday night. Franklin, Tenn., four-piece Colony House and Toronto quartet Romes open the show.

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A Double Dose of the War on Drugs in New York City Next Week

September 15th, 2017

Philadelphia’s the War on Drugs craft songs with momentum. The synths underlying “Holding On” (above, performed live on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert), off their latest release, A Deeper Understanding (stream it below), chug along like a runaway train. Over the band’s four full-length albums, songwriter Adam Granduciel and Co. have fine-tuned what was already a well-oiled machine right out of the gates. They enlisted the production help of L.A. engineer Shawn Everett, known for his work on the Alabama Shakes’ masterful Sound & Color, for their first major-label record. A Deeper Understanding takes the War on Drugs’ signature expansive sound and pushes it, well, deeper into new terrains. On “Nothing to Find,” the beats plow through gorgeous swirling soundscapes of analog synths, and Granduciel’s vocals at the end sound like he’s howling into a massive canyon the song’s just blown into the earth. The War on Drugs’ music feels both large and personal, with softer numbers still showcasing a tenderness that sounds just as grandiose. The album’s gorgeously produced, and any little snippet of its soundscapes risks working its way into your head and never leaving. As their sound has grown bigger, so too has the group’s following, snowballing off the success of 2014’s much-acclaimed Lost in the Dream (stream it below). One album later and the New Yorker is ready to propose that they’re rock’s next torchbearers. The War on Drugs will make their case and then some when they return to New York City next week to play Terminal 5 on Tuesday and SummerStage on Friday. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

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Two Chances to Catch the Horrors at Rough Trade NYC Next Week

September 15th, 2017

Inspired by garage rock, post-punk and New Wave, Faris Badwan (vocals), Joseph Spurgeon (drums), Joshua Hayward (guitar), Tom Cowan (keys) and Rhys Webb (bass) formed the Horrors more than a decade ago in Essex, England. Their debut full-length, Strange House (stream it below), officially announced their arrival upon its release in 2007. “The Horrors bring a dose of dark glamour to an increasingly anodyne British alternative music scene too heavily indebted either to Oasis and the Libertines, or earnest post-punk,” opined PopMatters. “They blend their twin influences of early ’80s Goth and ’60s garage to startling effect.” The Horrors (above, performing “So Now You Know”) have remained busy touring and recording ever since. The band’s fifth album, the aptly titled V—which, according to the Guardian, “drags their grand, gothic, garage-y noise from the shadows and recasts it in throbbing electronics, drum-machine pulses and the most fully formed pop of their career”—drops next Friday, but you won’t have to wait that long to hear the new tunes because the Horrors play Rough Trade NYC on Monday and Tuesday.

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Aussie Trio Middle Kids Play Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday

September 14th, 2017

After a solo stint, singer Hannah Joy joined forces with guitarist Tim Fritz and drummer Harry Day to form the deliciously addictive Middle Kids. In the spring of 2016, their debut single, “Edge of Town” (above, performed on Conan), made an impressive impact, garnering praise from none other than Elton John and heavy play on Triple J in their native Australia. The three have since released a self-titled debut EP (stream it below) earlier this year and have been busy touring Australia, America and Europe. Back in April, Rolling Stone shortlisted the group as one of the 10 New Artists You Need to Know, describing their sound as “heartfelt, clever ruminations at the intersection of indie rock and alt-country.” NPR listeners also placed the group on the recent “Your Favorite New Artists of 2017 (So Far).” So don’t sleep on your chance to catch this rising act before they release their forthcoming debut album. Middle Kids play Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night. Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ski Lodge opens. —Sharlene Chiu

 

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Spend the Weekend with the Afghan Whigs in New York City

September 14th, 2017

The Afghan Whigs formed while still in college and launched out of Cincinnati in the mid-’80s, making the kind of amped-up garage rock that would earn them comparisons to the likes of the Replacements and Dinosaur Jr.—and gain them a cult following thanks to what AllMusic calls frontman “Greg Dulli’s tortured, angst-ridden tales of broken relationships and self-loathing.” They released six albums between 1988 and 1998 before amicably breaking up three years later. But you can’t keep a good band down, and so the Afghan Whigs (above, performing “Algiers” for KEXP FM) returned in 2012. Their seventh long-player, Do the Beast (stream it below), arrived two years later. “Do to the Beast leaves you emotionally wrought. Where Dulli had previously played the sleaze we reveled in living vicariously through, here he has us choking back tears for him, the violent aggressor,” said the Line of Best Fit. “The album has an air of closure, the Whigs pull out all their musical stops and Dulli seems to find an end, albeit not the happiest one.” And this past May, the band put out another well-received full-length, In Spades (stream it below). “Bolstered again by the louche and ravaged voice of singer Greg Dulli,” said Pitchfork, “the latest from the indie rock icons is delightfully stuffed with romance and rancor.” Having just launched a new tour, the Afghan Whigs come to The Bowery Ballroom on Friday to play In Spades in its entirety followed by a second set and then hit Brooklyn Steel on Saturday. Former New Yorker Har Mar Superstar opens both shows.

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Blanck Mass Brings New Music to Rough Trade NYC on Thursday

September 12th, 2017

Benjamin John Powers is known as half of the English experimental drone duo Fuck Buttons. But he’s been doing his own electronic project as Blanck Mass (above, the official video for “Please”) since an ambient, droning eponymous debut full-length (stream it below)—recorded in his apartment and inspired by Carl Sagan and Ennio Morricone— arrived in 2011. “The shadow of his other band always feels like it’s on his shoulder, but that tension between his past and present guises is what makes this work so well,” said Pitchfork. “Blanck Mass is all about Power excavating new domains while still working wit.” The third Blanck Mass LP, World Eater (stream it below), dropped this past spring, winning over AllMusic: “Considering his legacy, it’s all the more impressive that Power found even more challenging places to go with his music, but World Eater’s focused chaos is some of his finest work yet.” In the middle of his North American tour, Blanck Mass plays Rough Trade NYC on Thursday night, and Egyptrixx opens the show.

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Don’t Miss Public Service Broadcasting at Music Hall of Williamsburg

September 12th, 2017

On paper, Public Service Broadcasting’s music might sound like a gimmick: They compose and perform sweeping instrumentals around bits of spoken word taken from historical audio recordings—archival tapes, newsreels, propaganda. Their 2015 album, The Race for Space (stream it below), featured a variety of tracks that covered the early history of space travel, and their newest, Every Valley (stream it below), charts the coal industry in South Wales. In practice, these songs prove the London trio, operating as J. Willgoose, Esq., Wrigglesworth and JF Abraham, to be expert documentarians. The music tells compelling stories, finding modern-day relevance and emotional hooks in the brief historical snippets delivered in a soaring post-rock package. Public Service Broadcasting (above, performing “Gagarin”) will bring their history-steeped instrumentals to Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow night. They’ll be rocking songs about space and coal and much more. And who knows, you just might learn something and have a good time. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

 

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Extend Your Weekend with Birdtalker at Rough Trade NYC Sunday

September 8th, 2017

Shortly after marrying five years ago, Zack Green (vocals and guitar) and Dani Green (vocals and keys) began writing songs together. It went pretty well, so they wrote some more. Soon enough, Zack’s friend Andy Hubright (drums) joined in on the fun, and the tunes sounded better with three people. Brian Seligman (guitar, mandolin and vocals) caught them playing outside and liked what he heard, and then they sounded even better with four people. So they became a quartet called Birdtalker. And a year later, the Nashville, Tenn., band was a five-piece with the addition of Jesse Baker (bass and vocals). Their first EP, the Americana- and contemporary-folk-filled Just This (stream it below), came out last year. “This is an intriguing collection of songs that very much reward close attention. And that is because there is so much in these six songs that you discover something more each time,” according to No Depression. “It’s not just the two founders but the whole band who blend these songs of several layers to maximum effect with great emotion. It’s a team effort. Haunting and different at the same time.” Check out the team in person when Birdtalker (above, performing “Heavy”) play Rough Trade NYC on Sunday night. Singer-songwriter Becca Mancari opens the show.

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Ought Frontman Tim Darcy Brings Solo Album to Rough Trade NYC

September 7th, 2017

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Tim Darcy is perhaps most known for fronting the energetic post-punk Montreal quartet Ought. But recently he’s begun crafting more introspective music as a solo artist, earning comparisons to David Byrne and Lou Reed in the process. His debut full-length, Saturday Night (stream it below), came out this past winter. “Saturday Night is a confident debut from a creator who’s best when he seems uncomfortable,” said Exclaim. “So long as he keeps evading his comfort zone, Darcy’s songwriting should remain potent for years to come.” Pitchfork rang in, too: “On the one hand, Saturday Night does exactly what you expect a solo record from a member of a raucous rock band to do: It’s more off the cuff and rougher around the edges, and showcases a more introspective side than the day job normally allows. On the other hand, it’s an assault on that very idea. Over its 11 songs (including one hidden one), Darcy slowly dismantles the confessional crooner archetype until he’s just messing around with the raw materials, transforming himself from singer-songwriter to sound sculptor.” His new tour just kicked off yesterday, and you can catch Tim Darcy (above, performing “Still Waking Up” for KUTX FM) live in Brooklyn tomorrow night at Rough Trade NYC.

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Catch Betty Who Live at Brooklyn Steel on Wednesday Night

September 5th, 2017

Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jessica Newham grew up in Sydney, but headed to the U.S. as a teen to attend a performing-arts school in Michigan and then the Berklee College of Music in Boston. She began playing live when she was just 16 and then, channeling popular ’80s influences and synth pop reminiscent of M83 and MGMT, started releasing music as Betty Who just a few years later. After early buzz for a pair of acclaimed EPs and opening for Katy Perry’s Down Under tour, her debut full-length, Take Me When You Go (stream it below), arrived in 2014. Betty Who (above, the video for “Mama Say”) returned this past spring with her sophomore effort, The Valley (stream it below), which has a more modern sound, but is as life-affirming as her other work. Catch her life-affirming music live tomorrow night at Brooklyn Steel. Another synth-pop act, Geographer, opens.

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Two Nights of Psychedelic Pioneer Roky Erickson at Rough Trade NYC

September 1st, 2017

Formed in Austin, Texas, in 1965, the 13th Floor Elevators were psychedelic pioneers, influencing the likes of the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, “led by outsider genius Roky Erickson, who combined offbeat spiritualism with crude R&B,” according to Allmusic. “Many have cited them as the first true psychedelic rock band, and if they weren’t, they certainly predated most of the San Francisco bands that gave the sound a global audience. The Elevators played a bracing fusion of garage rock and genre-defying musical exploration powered by Roky Erickson’s feral vocals and rhythm guitar.” Erickson and his bandmates were known as vocal proponents of mind-expanding drugs, and when the frontman was arrested in Texas for the possession of just one joint, he pleaded insanity rather than go to jail for up to a decade. Erickson spent three-and-a-half years in a mental institution and was subjected to electroshock therapy and Thorazine treatments before being released in 1972. He eventually became a notable recluse along the lines of Syd Barrett, Brian Wilson, Daniel Johnston and Skip Spence. But Erickson (above, performing “Don’t Shake Me Lucifer” and “Two Headed Dog”) still occasionally found time to record and even tour. His most recent solo release, True Love Cast Out All Evil (stream it below), backed by Okkervil River, came out in 2010. “A tumultuous history hasn’t stopped the former 13th Floor Elevator from achieving greatness,” said NME. And Pitchfork added: “On this affecting and ultimately triumphant album, Erickson comes out on top.” His new tour launches today, and Erickson plays Rough Trade NYC on Tuesday and Wednesday. L.A. experimental rockers Death Valley Girls open both shows.

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Aussie Duo Vallis Alps Kick Off Tour at Music Hall of Williamsburg

September 1st, 2017

Vocalist Parissa Tosif (from Canberra, Australia) and producer David Ansari (out of Seattle) first met while on a gap year in Israel. They began to collaborate, expertly mixing downtempo synth pop with hip-hop influences, in person and over the Internet before forming Vallis Alps a few years ago in Sydney. They’ve since released a pair of EPs: A self-titled affair (stream it below) arrived in 2015. “The newcomers explore a shadowy soundscape on their impeccable debut—seamlessly blending acoustic guitar, chimes and the odd piano key with drowsy synths,” said Idolator. Vallis Alps (above, performing “Fading” for Triple J) returned with their second extended play, Fable (stream it below), earlier this year. “The two-piece have continued to use their signature silky production and soothing vocals on their latest project to create a moving, minimalistic body of work,” according to Best Before. “Despite only being a brief EP, Fable is marked by a cohesion and depth that seamlessly ties together to create Vallis Alps’ rounded, colorful sound. Nothing on Fable feels disingenuous; it extends a hand out to the listener in the hope of creating an authentic connection and a mutual understanding.” Understand for yourself when Vallis Alps launch their American tour at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night. Two local duos, Salt Cathedral and Glassio, open the show.