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Don’t Miss Juliana Hatfield on Thursday Night at Mercury Lounge

April 24th, 2017

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Juliana Hatfield has had a long, distinguished career in alternative rock, doing time with the Lemonheads, Blake Babies, Some Girls, Minor Alps and the Juliana Hatfield Three in addition to her much-acclaimed work as a solo performer. And despite thinking her songwriting career was on hiatus, or perhaps even finished, she found herself 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.” As a result, Hatfield (above, her video for new single “Short Fingered Man”) has a new album, Pussycat, out on Friday, and she celebrates its arrival with a pair of shows this week at Mercury Lounge—the first on Wednesday night, which is already sold out, and then again on Thursday. Singer-songwriter Laura Stevenson opens each performance.

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Dance into the Weekend with Squirrel Nut Zippers and Ozomatli

April 20th, 2017

A pair of genre-spanning bands, each known for energetic, fiery live performances—the Chapel Hill, N.C. outfit Squirrel Nut Zippers (above, rehearsing “Plenty More”) and Los Angeles collective Ozomatli (below, performing “Como Vez” live in concert for Paste)—have united together to bring their music to the people. Squirrel Nut Zippers have been mashing together swing music, punk and jazz for nearly 25 years, and they’ve been celebrating the 20th anniversary of their second studio full-length, Hot (stream it below). For roughly the same amount of time, Ozomatli have been expertly blending hip-hop, Chicano rock, reggae, world music and Latin sounds, winning over fans in the process, thanks to their exceptional stage presence and recorded fare, like 2014’s Place in the Sun (stream it below), resulting in AllMusic saying the band’s “become masters of their trade, crafting a supremely engaging album that hits the musical sweet spot every time.” Their combined tour launched in March and with it winding down now, Squirrel Nut Zippers and Ozomatli come to Brooklyn Steel tomorrow night.

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Miracle Legion Return to Say Goodbye at The Bowery Ballroom

April 20th, 2017

There are many paths to Miracle Legion fandom. Perhaps you found them via ’80s college radio stations that featured the band’s jangly guitar rock on heavy rotation. Or better yet, you lived near their hometown of New Haven, Conn., close to their touring circuit and the college-radio airwaves repping Connecticut’s finest. Or maybe you found out about the group because of their involvement with the fantastic and criminally underrated ’90s Nickelodeon show The Adventures of Pete & Pete, in which former Miracle Legion members starred as the semifictional band Polaris and wrote the show’s theme song, “Hey Sandy.” Or maybe it was Miracle Legion frontman Mark Mulcahy’s solo work that he’s been putting out at a steady rate ever since. Maybe a random interview with Marc Maron plugging Mulcahy’s solo album Dear Mark J. Mulcahy made you do the research and realized all these projects were connected. There are hints that fans have been along for the journey all along: a successful 2015 Record Store Day release of The Adventures of Pete & Pete soundtrack followed by a Polaris tour. Now the original band that started it all is back on tour, for the first time this millennium, with a recently released live album, Annulment (stream it below). Expect some new fans to find them along the way and begin their own journey backward into an impressively consistent catalog of songwriting that’s stood the test of time. And be there when Miracle Legion (above, performing “Screamin’” live for Paste Studios two weeks ago), playing their final shows as a band, return to Manhattan for the first time in 20 years, tomorrow night at The Bowery Ballroom. Singer-songwriter Elvis Perkins opens the show. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

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Sam Outlaw Brings a Taste of California Country to Mercury Lounge

April 19th, 2017

Former ad-sales executive Sam Morgan has been doing business as the California-country singer-songwriter Sam Outlaw (above, performing “Love Her for a While” for WFUV FM) since his debut studio album, Angeleno (stream it below), arrived in 2015, featuring cameos from My Morning Jacket keyboardist Bo Koster and Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith, among others. “As an album, Angeleno holds up time and time again,” said American Songwriter. “For anyone who feels similarly disenchanted about country music, Outlaw’s songs—closely bound to tradition, endlessly romantic—are the perfect remedy.” His second full-length, Tenderheart (stream it below), came out last Friday. Vulture makes comparisons to Gram Parsons, Ryan Adams and James Taylor, adding: “Tenderheart is the sound of Angeleno’s budding artist finding his voice and crafting a work as great as his killer country nom de plume. Two years after shaking his life up to chase a dream of country stardom, Sam Outlaw is sitting on one of the genre’s best albums of the year. It’s never too late to heed your calling.” Check out Sam Outlaw live at the early show Thursday night at Mercury Lounge. Virginia singer-songwriter Dori Freeman opens.

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Ahead of New Album Café Tacvba Come to Terminal 5 Tomorrow Night

April 19th, 2017

Rubén Albarrán (vocals and guitar), Emmanuel del Real (keys, guitar and vocals), Enrique Rangel (bass) and Joselo Rangel (guitar and vocals) have been doing their own unique take on alternative rock en Español since forming Café Tacvba more than 25 years ago in Mexico City. Deftly mixing Mexican folk, punk, electronic music and Latin rock, the quartet has won over fans across the world. Their most recent studio album, the well-received El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco (stream it below), came out in 2012. But with Jei Beibi due to arrive in just a few weeks, Café Tacvba (above, performing “Aprovéchate”) play Terminal 5 tomorrow night. Brooklyn’s Buscabulla open the show.

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Moderat Bring Acclaimed Live Show to Terminal 5 Tomorrow Night

April 18th, 2017

Approaching a decade ago, Sascha Ring—who was making ambient, dreamy soundscapes as Apparat—teamed up with Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary—already known for their rambunctious, genre-spanning techno music as Modeselektor—to form the Berlin experimental-techno trio Moderat (above, doing “Bad Kingdom” live in concert on Pitchfork TV). They’ve released a host of EPs alongside three full-lengths, including last year’s aptly titled III (stream it below). “The rich subtlety of its sound design demands repeated plays. Each time the album reveals something new. III is an album that worms its way into your day-to-day life. It’s an album that grows each time you listen to it. It’s an album than sounds different, and feels different, with each subsequent play,” gushed Clash. “III is a triumph that takes pop and redefines it, and may come to be seen as a watershed moment for the group as they hit full stride.” Another aptly titled release, the live recording Live (stream it below), arrived later in 2016. PopMatters lavished the album with praise, but added that “Live cuts out a crucial part of the Moderat live experience: the visuals. The light show and films that feature in Moderat’s concerts are essential.” Fortunately, you can get the entire experience when Moderat play Terminal 5 tomorrow night. Multimedia artist Dominick Fernow’s Vatican Shadow opens the show.

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Surfer Blood Bring New Music to Music Hall of Williamsburg Thursday

April 17th, 2017

Bands get formed for all kinds of reasons, but those who started Surfer Blood did it to play music as much as possible—to record an album and tour nonstop. They made a name for themselves, locally at least, during CMJ Music Marathon 2009, and then even more so with the arrival of their well-received debut, Astro Coast (stream it below), in 2010. The band “has become a standard bearer of the wi-fi lo-fi era in short order,” proclaimed PopMatters. “The highest praise you can give an album like Astro Coast is that it sounds like something completely familiar that you haven’t heard before.” Surfer Blood (above, doing “Six Flags in F or G” for KEXP FM) have remained busy touring and recording ever since. And although group has dealt with death and lineup changes, they continue to persevere. Their fourth studio album, Snowdonia (stream it below), came out this past February. “There’s a clear sense of melancholy and yearning, but there’s also optimism spilling out from the edges,” according to the Line of Best Fit. “Grief and hardship have changed Surfer Blood, there’s no denying that. But they deserve praise for making a record that still has its own joie de vivre and doesn’t completely overhaul the alphabet that has made the band a success in the first place.” See them on Thursday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Brooklyn trio Lazyeyes open the show.

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Get a Dose of String Music with Mipso at Music Hall of Williamsburg

April 17th, 2017

Jacob Sharp (mandolin and vocals) and Joseph Terrell (guitar and vocals) first teamed up musically while students at UNC-Chapel Hill. Wanting to form a band focusing on bluegrass and Appalachian folk, they added Wood Robinson (bass and vocals), and two became three. With their sound still evolving, a couple of years ago, Mipso (above, performing “Coming Down the Mountain” for 89.3 FM the Current) blossomed from a trio into a quartet with the addition of Libby Rodenbough (fiddle and vocals). Their fourth LP, Coming Down the Mountain (stream it below), was released just a few weeks ago. Roots-music journal No Depression says it’s “an album of 10 tunes that explore that tender spot just past the midpoint of your 20s, where the band now resides, when you’re taking stock of the past while looking to the future. Just as in that stage of life, the album exudes a sense of wistfulness among moments of joy, a few worries amid youthful confidence. Some regrets mingle with a wide-open view of the future.” Now touring behind their new material, Mipso play Music Hall of Williamsburg on Wednesday night, and the like-minded 10 String Symphony open the show.

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Dance with Louis Futon at Tomorrow’s Late Show at Mercury Lounge

April 14th, 2017

“Don’t let their punny name (and boyish good looks) fool you, the Philly-based duo of Tyler Minford and Logan Zoghby make seriously good music—a refreshingly funky blend of R&B, jazz and more electronically inclined elements,” raved Interview a couple of years back. Minford has since gone solo, creating official remixes for big names like Mos Def, Logic, G-Eazy, Future and Wiz Khalifa. But he insists that “genres don’t define me.” An eponymous EP (stream it below) arrived two years ago. “Philly producer Louis Futon has dropped off his self-titled EP, and simply put—it’s quite good,” said Hypebeast. “The electronic producer delivers on four original and undeniably entertaining tracks, as three remixes also join the party.” He’s been working on new material, and you can see him at the late show tomorrow at Mercury Lounge. NYC singer-songwriter Sam Setton opens.

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Leela James and Daley Take On the Apollo Theater on Saturday Night

April 13th, 2017

Influenced by the likes of James Brown, Donny Hathaway and Mavis Staples, talented singer-songwriter Leela James has been making her own winning mix of bluesy soul and R&B for more than a decade. Her sixth studio album, Did It for Love (stream it below), which explores all the different sides of love, came out just a few weeks ago. “I don’t really try to think of concepts when I make music, I just go with the natural flow of the evolution of the making of the album,” James tells Rated R&B. “As I’m recording, sometimes it’ll take a life of its own. When I’m writing the songs, they’re usually based off direct and indirect experiences. It kind of tells its own story.” Touring in support of the new music, James (above, performing “Don’t Want You Back” for Baeble Music) has been making her way across North America with English singer-songwriter Daley (below, doing “Alone Together” live in concert), who’s known for mashing together soul, electronic music and pop into his own unique sound—and has been compared to Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall. See them both on Saturday night at the world-famous Apollo Theater.

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Another Chance to See Big Wild Live in New York City

April 12th, 2017

Composer, DJ, engineer and producer Jackson Stell has been making hip-hop-influenced beats since his teenage years in Massachusetts, but he didn’t begin doing it under the name Big Wild until he’d relocated to the sunny climes of the Golden State in his twenties. Things began to take off for him once in Los Angeles—thanks to the release of several well-received singles—and the electronic musician toured with the likes of Odesza, Tycho, Pretty Lights and Bassnectar. Earlier this year, Big Wild (above, his video for “Aftergold”) released his first EP, Invincible (stream it below). “Critics have been lauding title track and first single ‘Invincible’ as being distinctly his own: lush and soaring, lithe chimes crowded out by fat brass on the chorus, hits of keys and burgeoning strings filling the in-between and the punch of Ida Hawk’s vocals atop it all,” according to Exclaim. “The track is good—really good—but second single ‘I Just Wanna’ throws down like no other, its slow, thick beat, chopped, repetitive vocals, blown-out synth breakdown and piano flourishes making it impossible to overlook.” So don’t overlook Big Wild when he plays The Bowery Ballroom on Friday night. Tennyson and IHF (Imagined Herbal Flowers) open the show. (Saturday’s appearance at Music Hall of Williamsburg is already sold out.)

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Don’t Miss a Live Floating Points Set on Thursday at Brooklyn Steel

April 11th, 2017

Floating Points is the brainchild of Sam Shepherd, the Manchester, England, electronic musician with a Ph.D. in neuroscience and epigenetics. I guess contributing to just one emerging field wasn’t enough for him. Without knowing enough to say anything about his scientific output, his musical output is undoubtedly advancing electronic music into new areas, blowing up the formula in a similar way that free jazz disrupted the jazz formula. It’s a demanding sound for a full band to play live: Shepherd’s big on throwing his music into warp speed until it practically dissolves into chaotic synthesized noise, before reining it back into its familiar beat. Some numbers go back and forth a few times, and when a song settles down, you’ll be reminded of from where it evolved. Other tracks feature impressive reverb-drenched guitar solos reminiscent of David Gilmour, and spaced-out thoughts will be inevitable as your mind is blown to bits, both visually and musically. Thankfully, there will be a neuroscientist in the house to put everything back together again when Floating Points (above, performing “Silhouettes” live for KEXP FM) plays Brooklyn Steel on Thursday night. Okay Kaya and JFDR open the show. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

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The Octopus Project Bring New Music to Mercury Lounge Tonight

April 11th, 2017

They say everything’s bigger in Texas, a statement that certainly rings true for the big-ass sound of Austin’s very own psychedelic slingers the Octopus Project. Think of them as the poppier stepchild of fellow Texans the Butthole Surfers. Their strain of psychedelia seems designed to not just expand your consciousness but to blast holes through it. Officially a band since 1999, the Octopus Project (above, performing “Sharpteeth”) have been fine-tuning their sound with each release ever since. Their latest, Memory Mirror (stream it below) out last Friday, is their first proper release since 2013’s Fever Forms (stream it below). Memory Mirror has the troupe of multi-instrumentalists at their shape-shifting best, with their rhythmic, arpeggiating sonic assaults firing into the cosmos like a well-oiled machine. Recorded with the help of legendary Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann, the album shares a mission statement with the Lips in seeing just how far pop music can venture into the weird while still holding on to its hooks (answer: very far). The album highlights everything you’d expect and then some from the seasoned vets of trippiness. It has the bliss-inducing bleeps and bloops of “Understanding Fruit,” the rapid-fire guitar shreds and diced-up vocals of “Woah, Mossman!!,” the bowel-punching bass booms of “Ledgeridge,” the grime beats laying down the foundation for “Small Hundred.” The band heads to Mercury Lounge tonight, with Brooklyn’s Brothertiger opening. So prepare your psyches and strap in for the ride. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

 

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Xenia Rubinos Stays Home to Play The Bowery Ballroom Tomorrow

April 11th, 2017

Brooklyn’s Xenia Rubinos is a talented singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose first LP, Magic Trix (stream it below), came out four years ago to a fair amount of acclaim. “She’s triumphed unambiguously: Magic Trix is a startling lightning bolt of a record,” raved Pitchfork. The big-voiced Rubinos (above, doing “Just Like I” for Audiotree TV) crafted her live show while touring in support of the album, thrilling audiences along the way with her take on rock, funk, jazz, hip-hop, Caribbean rhythms and electronics. And last spring, the energetic, engaging performer returned with her follow-up, Black Terry Cat (stream it below), again impressing the folks at Pitchfork: “Black Terry Cat is all about breaking beyond limitations. From mostly keys, drums and bass, Rubinos and her small cohort bring a funky fluidity to the bright splatters of her debut, and forge a level of inventiveness comparable to Esperanza Spalding’s recent epic, Emily’s D+Evolution.” And before she heads to Europe later this month, Rubinos plays The Bowery Ballroom on Thursday night. The Kominas and Starchild and the New Romantic open the show.

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Jonathan Richman Returns for Two Nights at The Bowery Ballroom

April 6th, 2017

Singer-songwriter Jonathan Richman took up the guitar at the age of 15 and was playing in public just a year later. He relocated from Boston to New York City in 1969, but his music didn’t get a lot of love, so he headed back north and formed the influential protopunk band the Modern Lovers. Wanting a quieter sound, Richman eventually turned the Modern Lovers into an acoustic group, most notable for their doo-wop sound and the funny lyrics that would remain a hallmark of his later solo work. Richman earned the most attention his career would get thanks to the Farrelly brothers featuring him and his music as a comedic Greek chorus in There’s Something About Mary. And although that flick came out nearly 20 years ago, punk-rock OG turned modern-day troubadour Richman (above, performing “When We Refuse to Suffer” and “That Summer Feeling”) remains as busy as ever. He’s currently touring with drummer Tommy Larkins, and together they play The Bowery Ballroom on Sunday and Monday.