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Hang 10 with Swami John Reis & the Blind Shake at Mercury Lounge

February 25th, 2015

San Diego post-punk singer-songwriter and guitarist James Reis is perhaps best known for fronting bands like Rocket from the Crypt and Hot Snakes, while Mike Blaha (vocals and baritone guitar), Jim Blaha (guitar and vocals) and Dave Roper (drums) stay in the mid-range in not using a bass but deftly mixing surf rock and garage punk into their own unique sound. And now all four musicians have teamed up as Swami John Reis & the Blind Shake (above, performing “Sets of Fire” live). They holed up at Pacific Beach in San Diego to record the recently released Modern Surf Classics (stream it below). According to Nerdist, “It’s reverb heavy and certainly surf infused, but make no mistake, this is a hard rockin’ endless summer. It’s punk rock: fast and furious.” And you can see them perform live tomorrow at Mercury Lounge. Brooklyn four-piece the So So Glos opens the show.

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Ariel Pink Headlines Terminal 5 Tomorrow Night

February 24th, 2015

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ariel Rosenberg has been making music (from lo-fi psychedelic pop to smooth jazz to melodic dance beats) on his own terms as Ariel Pink for more than a decade. He’d recorded hundreds of tracks at home before sharing some of them with members of Animal Collective, who, ultimately, decided to release his music on their Paw Tracks label. After teaming up for several years with the talented backing band the Haunted Graffiti, Ariel Pink (above, doing “Put Your Number in My Phone” for Morning Becomes Eclectic on KCRW FM) decided to go solo (in name at least) for last year’s acclaimed double LP Pom Pom (stream it below). Per Spin, “Ariel Pink makes another wondrous mess with Pom Pom,” and “the 36-year-old mad scientist has finally developed a full-length that does right by the songwriting sensibility that’s led to collaborations with fellow pop-world oddballs simultaneously keeping his peculiar personality at the center.” But no matter who backs Pink, he remains an engaging live performer. And he just so happens to have one last stop on this leg of his American tour tomorrow night at Terminal 5. John Webster Johns’ Jack Name opens the show.

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Don’t Miss a Soulful Saturday Lineup at Terminal 5

February 20th, 2015

JJ Grey (vocals, piano, guitar and harmonica) grew up outside Jacksonville, Fla., with twin interests in surfing and music. That second one eventually blossomed into a band— currently with Anthony “AC” Cole (drums), Jeff Dazey (sax), Anthony Farrell (organ), Dennis Marion (trumpet), Todd Smallie (bass) and Andrew Trube (guitar)—playing a stew of North Florida influences: country, blues, gospel, funk, R&B and Southern rock, turning JJ Grey & Mofro (above, doing “99 Shades of Crazy” for KINK FM) into cult favorites in the process, thanks to their gritty soulful performances. The band’s most recent full-length, Ol’ Glory (stream it below), comes out next week, but you can probably hear some of the new tunes on Saturday at Terminal 5. And as an added bonus, Bayou soul singer Marc Broussard and local rockers the London Souls open the show.

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Emmy the Great Plays the Early Show Tomorrow at Mercury Lounge

February 18th, 2015

Inventive singer-songwriter and guitarist Emma-Lee Moss has been a part of London’s anti-folk movement for close to a decade, performing with Noah and the Whale and Lightspeed Champion, and doing her own thing as Emmy the Great. Her debut full-length, First Love (stream it below), written on the heels of a breakup, came out in 2009 to some considerable plaudits. According to Drowned in Sound, “Emmy the Great’s debut is a triumph, with a maturity beyond her years, and with a humor no less enjoyable for being subtler.” Virtue (stream it below) arrived two years later, again following a breakup—this time the dissolution of an engagement. And again critics were impressed. BBC Music labeled the LP “a dense, accomplished set of songs” and “an extraordinarily confident work, shaped by confusion and turmoil.” Emmy the Great (above, doing “Paper Forest: In the Afterglow of Rapture” for Amazing Radio) recently returned with a new EP, S (stream it below), about a month ago. Per Drowned in Sound, “This is the richest, most musically complex she has ever been…. Even that voice has learned tricks, becoming jazzier and more experienced sounding. It’s quite something.” Of course, Emmy the Great is quite something when performing live. And you can catch her doing just that tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge. Electro-pop duo Clementine and the Galaxy opens the show.

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Two Nights of Brooke Fraser to Close Out the Workweek in NYC

February 12th, 2015

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Brooke Fraser began making a winning brand of folk pop in 2003 with the release of her debut full-length, What to Do with Daylight (stream it below). But it was actually her third album, the universally acclaimed Flags (stream it below)—out in 2010—that made a name for her outside of her native New Zealand. Glide magazine called it “a wonder … drenched in beauty,” claiming that she “is not just another in a long line of pop singer-songwriters who get by on their looks and marginal talent. Her observations alone about the human condition cause this collection of songs to rise above the efforts of many of her contemporaries, and her rich vocals combine with the plethora of piano pop-rock sounds and sometimes otherworldly accompaniments to make the whole experience even more impressive.” In the time since her previous release, Fraser (above, performing “Kings & Quesns” live) has moved in a different musical direction, as evidenced by last year’s Brutal Romantic (stream it below). Per AllMusic, “An acoustic songbird trying on an edgier pop sound isn’t necessarily a revolution, but this sea change still feels pretty dramatic.” Witness it for yourself when Fraser plays The Bowery Ballroom tonight and Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow. L.A. artist Nick Long’s Dark Waves opens both shows.

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Wardell Celebrate a New Release Tonight at Mercury Lounge

February 11th, 2015

Brother and sister Theo (a onetime House List writer) and Sasha Spielberg began making music as Wardell several years ago in Los Angeles. Influenced by the disparate likes of Led Zeppelin, Fiona Apple, the Strokes and Joni Mitchell, the bicoastal (he in New York City, she in L.A.) indie-folk duo put out their aptly named debut EP, Brother/Sister (stream it below), in 2013, with Sasha on vocals and Theo handling the instrumentation. Afterward, they really began to work on their sound while performing live, including a plum gig opening for Vampire Weekend and Haim at last year’s SXSW. Today, Wardell (above, doing “Funny Thing” and “Love/Idleness”) see the release of their debut full-length, the charmingly easygoing Love/Idleness (stream it below). And they celebrate its release tonight at Mercury Lounge. Bushwick dream-pop four-piece Arc Waves open the show.

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Tom Vek Plays Rough Trade NYC Tomorrow Night

February 10th, 2015

While studying graphic design, Tom Vek also spent years writing and recording in his parents’ London basement, but his hobby paid off and became his profession. Vek’s debut album, We Have Sound (stream it below), came out in 2005. Critics mentioned Beck and LCD Soundsystem, and AllMusic called it a “brash mix of indie rock and dance,” further proclaiming that the singer-songwriter “manages to make this fusion of styles sound organic instead of opportunistic.” His follow-up didn’t arrive until 2011, but Leisure Seizure (stream it below) turned out to be well worth the wait. NME rang in with a rousing review: “Vek truly exploits the benefits of being in a one-man band: all instruments and ideas can be used as often or as sparingly as he likes…. Vek may be out of time but he’s also out of this world.” Fortunately, Vek (above, performing “Sherman (Animals in the Jungle)” in studio for KCRW FM) didn’t disappear nearly as long before his third album, Luck (stream it below), came out last year. Per the Guardian, “A six-year gap divided his debut and 2011’s Leisure Seizure, and though his third arrives comparatively promptly, every lurching guitar line and electronic squiggle sounds like it was planned with meticulous care. That could be a problem, leaching Vek’s offbeat pop of energy and life, but the more he works dissonant elements into these songs, the more thrillingly unbalanced they feel.” See him tomorrow night at Rough Trade NYC, when he will feature the more electronic side of his repertoire and reimagined versions of songs, accompanied with synchronized visuals showcasing the strong graphic design that accompanies his releases.

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Ahead of Their Debut EP Prinze George Play Mercury Lounge Tonight

February 10th, 2015

Naomi Almquist (vocals) and Kenny Grimm (production and multi-instrumentalist) grew up as childhood friends outside Washington, D.C., in Prince George’s County, Md. Later, the two met Isabelle De Leon (drums) while she was in college and things took off from there, forming the band Prinze George, now based in Brooklyn, in 2013. Almquist has a keen interest in bands fronted by women, so it should probably come as no surprise that the hook-heavy pop singles they’ve released have won the band comparisons to the likes of Lana Del Rey and MS MR. Their debut EP comes out next month, but you can catch Prinze George—along with Ayertonight at Mercury Lounge.

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Robert Earl Keen Celebrates New Album Over Two Nights Next Week

February 6th, 2015

Legendary Texas country singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen self-financed his debut album, No Kinda Dancer (stream it below), which struck a winning balance between sensitive and raucous, back in 1984. And the Houston native has been a road warrior ever since, knocking out up to 200 shows a year in the ’90s, and even becoming known for the aptly titled “The Road Goes on Forever.” But of course it’s easy to play live when you’ve got so much material. And Keen has put out six live albums, a host of singles and he releases his 12th full-length, Happy Prisoners: The Bluegrass Sessions, next Tuesday. Robert Earl Keen (above, doing “What I Really Mean” live in studio for KDHX FM) celebrates its release with a pair of New York City shows next week, at The Bowery Ballroom on Monday night and at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Tuesday. Do your best to catch him live at least once. You’ll be glad you did.

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Three Hannibal Buress Shows Tonight and Tomorrow

February 6th, 2015

Hannibal Buress was born in Chicago, but he’s made a name for himself in comedy in New York City, writing for and appearing on local shows like Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, Broad City and High Maintenance while building up his standup career to the point he stars in his own comedy specials and travels the country as a headliner. And this weekend, Buress brings the Comedy Camisado Tour back home to perform at the Space at Westbury tonight, both early and late, and at the Capitol Theatre tomorrow night.

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Natalie Prass Brings Acclaimed New Music to Rough Trade NYC

February 5th, 2015

Natalie Prass grew up around Virginia Beach with an affinity for music and art, which led to her attending the famed Berklee College of Music. But it didn’t exactly take, so she left Boston and ultimately settled in Nashville. Music City ended up being the perfect home for the singer-songwriter, who, while biding her time, had ample opportunities to work on her craft. She’s recently been out on the road backing Jenny Lewis, but even more currently, Prass (above, performing the catchy “Bird of Prey”) saw her long-awaited, acclaimed self-titled debut full-length (stream it below) arrive last week on Matthew E. White’s Spacebomb Records—although the album was actually finished in 2012. (Prass and White were childhood friends.) Despite the wait, critics have been absolutely knocked out. Pitchfork gave the LP its Best New Music label, and Paste magazine declared, “Over nine songs, Prass shows a range in songwriting, from anthems to confident R&B burners to whimsical prairie folk to theatrical grandeur. It is the debut of a songwriter not struggling to find a voice, but fully formed and confident as all hell. She makes knowing nods to Joni Mitchell, Lesley Gore, Diana Ross and Joanna Newsom, all while seeming natural and instinctual. She is the product of her influences and still original.” In a couple of weeks, she’s off to Europe, but you can still catch her tomorrow night at Rough Trade NYC. Lady Lady and Small Wonder open the show.

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All Them Witches Play the Late Show Tomorrow at Mercury Lounge

February 4th, 2015

All Them Witches—Michael Parks Jr. (vocals and bass), Ben McLeod (guitar), Robby Staebler (drums) and Allan Van Cleave (keys)—have been brewing their own concoction of Delta blues and psychedelic rock since forming in 2012 and releasing their debut full-length, Our Mother Electricity (stream it below). “None of us grew up listening to the same music,” said the frontman. “In Louisiana, I heard a lot of ZZ Top and blues bands. Allan was raised on classical, almost exclusively. Robby and Ben listened to a ton of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. When we came together, it simply works.” And those influences are obvious on the Nashville four-piece’s follow-up, Lightning Out the Door (stream it below). It finds All Them Witches (above, performing “When God Comes Back”) beginning to stretch out their material, which certainly carried over to last year’s EP single, Effervescent (stream it below), a 25-minute instrumental track. It all makes for great listening at home, but the best way to experience All Them Witches is live in a dark room, and maybe even with your eyes closed. So see them tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge when they kick off a new tour. Austin, Texas, power trio the Well open the show.

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Hamilton Leithauser Kicks Off the Weekend at The Bowery Ballroom

January 28th, 2015

For more than a decade, Hamilton Leithauser has been known as the frontman of turn-of-the-century NYC rockers the Walkmen. But that band went on an “extreme hiatus” in late 2013 following a tour in support of their seventh studio album, Heaven. Not one to sit idly by, Leithauser (above, performing “5 AM” live in studio for WFUV FM) put out his first solo full-length, the Frank Sinatra–inspired Black Hours (stream it below), late last spring. It’s safe to say that critics were impressed. “In the hands of a less capable fontman and songwriter, Black Hours could have turned out as a cheesy attempt at ’50s pastiche. Instead, it’s a lively, confident and charming first effort,” said the A.V. Club. And Leithauser kicks off the weekend by entertaining his hometown fans on Friday night at
The Bowery Ballroom
. But arrive early because the big-voiced Elle King opens the show.

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Don’t Miss Marilyn Manson on Monday Night at Terminal 5

January 23rd, 2015

Going on 20 years now, Brian Warner—doing business as Marilyn Manson (above, his video for “Cupid Carries a Gun”)—has been known for shocking antics both onstage and off. But with the release of his ninth studio album, The Pale Emperor (stream it below), earlier this week, he’s being singled out for his music, earning some of the best reviews of his career. Per Rolling Stone, “Marilyn Manson hones his dark magic for his best, most twisted alt-rock party in years.” And AllMusic declares that “Manson and company sound like they’re stepping away completely from the caricature of themselves that started looming on the band’s weakest mid-2000s material. Taking their sound in a new, unforeseen bluesy direction accomplishes the near impossible by making Marilyn Manson sound even more sinister than before.” Catch Marilyn Manson on Monday night at Terminal 5. Brooklyn metal trio Unlocking the Truth open the show.

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Datsik Brings the Party to Terminal 5 on Saturday Night

January 22nd, 2015

For a musician with a last name like Beetles, it probably makes sense to choose something else: Troy Beetles has been working as producer and DJ as Datsik (his Xbox Live gamertag) since 2007. Mining dubstep, drum and bass, trap and house music, he put out his highly anticipated, crowd-pleasing debut full-length, Vitamin D (stream it below), in 2012, on Steve Aoki’s label, Dim Mak. Let It Burn (stream it below), his follow-up LP, arrived a year later. And while Datsik is most known for his association with dubstep, he’s not afraid to branch away from that. “I want to write a few timeless pieces that people will be listening to in the future. Sounds come and go, but I definitely wanna get a couple of those really cool tracks in there. I also wanna try and merge a few different ideas and genres together,” he told Beatport. But one thing he definitely will do is bring his shake-your-body, bass-heavy music to Terminal 5 on Saturday night.