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The Barr Brothers Return with New Music at The Bowery Ballroom

November 20th, 2014

Brothers Andrew (drums and percussion) and Brad (vocals, guitar and keys) Barr, who have been members of the Slip and Surprise Me Mr. Davis, moved to Montreal after one of the brothers fell for a local waitress. Early on, Brad and neighbor Sarah Page (harp) could hear each other playing through the walls and struck up a musical friendship. Then, following the addition of Andres Vial (keys, pump organ and bass), the Barr Brothers were born. The folk quartet’s self-titled debut album (stream it below) came out in 2011. “The Barr Brothers are a different kind of folk group,” announced AllMusic, “bringing in unusual instrumentation and performing in a manner that draws the listener into a special musical world.” The Barr Brothers (above, playing “Even the Darkness Has Arms” on Late Show with David Letterman) released their second full-length, Sleeping Operator (stream it below), last month. And the good folks at Relix were impressed: “A product of both invention and intuition, the appropriately dubbed Sleeping Operator isn’t anything less than a dazzling delight.” See them headline The Bowery Ballroom tomorrow night. Bluesy folk singer-songwriter Leif Vollebekk, also from Montreal, opens the show.

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EOTO Will Have You Dancing at Stage 48 Tomorrow Night

November 20th, 2014

Back in 2006 the String Cheese Incident’s Michael Travis (drums and multiple instruments) and Jason Hann (vocals and percussion) formed the jammy electronic-dance duo EOTO. Playing “all improvised, all the time,” the two make their way through a litany of dance genres—including drum and bass, dubstep, house—by looping live guitar, bass and synths alongside their own live drums and vocals, without using any backing tracks or prerecorded loops. Hann and Travis remain busy with SCI, so their most recent LP, Fire the Lazers!!! (stream it below), came out in 2009. But let’s be honest, EOTO (above, performing one of their never-the-same shows) are a band best experienced live. So come be part of their dance party tomorrow night at Stage 48. And arrive early enough to catch VibeSquad.

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Joywave Hit Rough Trade NYC Tomorrow Night

November 19th, 2014

Daniel Armbruster (vocals), Benjamin Bailey (keys), Joseph Morinelli (guitar), Paul Brenner (drums) and Sean Donnelly (bass) formed Joywave four years ago in Rochester, N.Y. Deftly mixing indie rock and electronic music, the group started to gain attention after they’d begun releasing mixtapes online, mashing together their own music with other bands’. Their debut EP, Koda Vista (stream it below), arrived in 2012, packed with “’80s-inspired synth pop, bright vocals and scenic lyrical portraits,” according to Filter magazine. Joywave (above, performing “Traveling at the Speed of Life”for Audiotree Live) released another EP, they catchy, dance-y How Do You Feel? (stream it below), earlier this year. Find out for yourself how all of this music sounds live when Joywave play Rough Trade NYC tomorrow night. Singer-songwriter Vérité and another Rochester outfit, experimental-dance four-piece Kopps, open the show.

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Don’t Miss Delicate Steve Playing the Late Show at Mercury Lounge

November 19th, 2014

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Steve Marion had been in other bands when one day he decided to record his own material at home. It eventually became the first Delicate Steve album, Wondervisions (stream it below). Released by David Byrne’s label, Luaka Bop, in 2011, the LP earned Marion comparisons to Pavement, Vampire Weekend and Dirty Projectors. In a glowing review, PopMusic declared that the album “treads beautifully this line between meaningless emotion and unfeeling precision…. The precise subject of these visions is hard to say—it is, quite simply, the kind of thing you do not describe with words.” The next year, Delicate Steve (above, performing “Afria Talks to You”) put out their follow-up, Positive Force (stream it below). And again critics and fans alike were impressed. Paste rang in: “What’s notable about Delicate Steve is not necessarily guitarist Steve Marion’s apt electronic contribution, but his songwriting and reference to earlier musicality that could be easily overlooked. Delicate Steve understands and is equally intrigued by what you can do with a great vintage synthesizer, but his George Harrison/Eric Clapton-esque guitar melodies are what make this album worth listening to.” See Delicate Steve play the late show tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge. And don’t miss the opener, singer-songwriter Luke Temple (of Here We Go Magic).

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Thee Oh Sees Appear Twice in New York City This Week

November 18th, 2014

John Dwyer (vocals and guitar) formed Thee Oh Sees in late-’90s San Francisco, playing psychedelic garage rock that sounds “a bit like the Mamas & the Papas run through a seriously bent garage blender,” according to AllMusic. Dwyer and a changing lineup have recently been prolific, releasing at least an album a year since 2008. So much material provides the opportunity to go from pop to rock to experimental to punk over the course of their catalog. And on their two past two LPs—each of them terrific—last year’s Floating Coffin (stream it below) and this year’s Drop (stream it below), Thee Oh Sees (above, performing “I Come from the Mountain” for Culturebox) have edged away from guitar freak-outs, sticking to hard rock on Floating Coffin and pop on Drop. Of course, another benefit of so much recorded output is that Thee Oh Sees tour often and are a finely tuned live band. See them tonight at The Bowery Ballroom (Jack Name and Economy Punk open) and on Friday at Warsaw (Jack Name and Ice Balloons open).

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A Double Bill of Sallie Ford and Crooked Fingers at Rough Trade NYC

November 14th, 2014

Before going solo, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sallie Ford (vocals and guitar) fronted the retro-flavored Sound Outside. Eventually she just wanted to do something more contemporary and different, so she’s teamed up with Cristina Cano (keys), Anita Lee Elliott (bass) and Amanda Spring (drums). “I found my new band because I asked my friends in the [Portland, Ore.] music scene to suggest any cool female musicians they knew of to play with,” the big-voiced Ford told PopMatters. Under the name Sallie Ford (above performing “Coulda Been”), the foursome put out the full-length Slap Back (stream it below), produced by the Decemberists’ Chris Funk, a month ago. AllMusic says, “Slap Back sounds like a fresh and satisfying new beginning for Sallie Ford,” and Paste opines that the album “is a solid extension of Ford’s well-noted laissez-faire disposition, even while invoking equality empowerment with a quiver of raucous, garage-y rock tunes about love, sex and everything in between.”

Eric Bachmann (vocals and guitar) served as the Archers of Loaf frontman for most of the ’90s, but when they broke up near the turn of the century (they’ve since reunited), he shifted his efforts toward the solo project Crooked Fingers (above, playing “Bad Blood” live in studio for KEXP FM), trading in the former band’s edgy, noisy sound for something more melancholic. His sixth and most recent Crooked Fingers album, Breaks in the Armor (stream it below), came out in 2011. And it’s safe to say Consequence of Sound was impressed: “This is a set of dynamic, well paced and beautifully rendered rock music…. Bachmann’s voice is virtuosic here, soaring high above gorgeous, finger-picked acoustic guitar, screeching electrics, weighty piano, vital percussion, bells, chimes, static, muffled audio samples and lovely female backing vocals.” And tonight at Rough Trade NYC, Sallie Ford and Crooked Fingers team up for a terrific double bill. And the Kids, and their “accessible unconscious existential indie glitter popsicle crisis music,” open the show.

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Caroline Smith Plays the Late Show Tonight at Mercury Lounge

November 14th, 2014

Caroline Smith (vocals and guitar) leads the Minneapolis folk band Caroline Smith and the Good Nights. But after releasing a few well-regarded albums, she decided to go solo, in name at least—she’s still joined by Arlen Peiffer (drums) and Jesse Schuster (bass), and also performs live with additional vocalists, keyboardists and guitarists. The soul- and R&B-inflected Half About Being a Woman (stream it below), which showcases Smith’s big voice, came out last year. But her new music all comes together live, and you can see Caroline Smith (above, performing “Half About Being a Woman” for Audiotree Live) tonight at the late show at Mercury Lounge. Arrive early for the psych-pop band Lip Talk.

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Caroline Rose Plays the Late Show Tonight at Mercury Lounge

November 13th, 2014

Caroline Rose grew up in an East Coast seaside town with a restless spirit, which perhaps led to her feeling comfortable on the road. But traveling across the country wasn’t just good for her soul, it’s also helped form her music. Mining the rich terrain of rockabilly, blues and country, Rose’s 2014 release, I Will Not Be Afraid (stream it below), impresses upon its very first listen. “Along with her powerful, smoky and soulful voice, Rose’s songs are bursting with personality,” according to Glide Magazine. “Her range is wide here, and it does not go unnoticed. She injects a sense of humor into her singing, utilizing her voice to its full potential.” Rose (above, doing “America Religious” for Ear Candy) records and performs with multi-instrumentalist Jer Coons, guitarist Brett Lanier and bassist Pat Melvin, and you can see them live tonight at Mercury LoungeWild Leaves, a psych-folk five-piece, open the show.

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Ani DiFranco Brings New Music to Music Hall of Williamsburg

November 12th, 2014

As a supremely talented singer, songwriter, guitarist, poet, label head, entrepreneur, activist and all around D.I.Y. queen, Ani DiFranco has been making her own music on her own terms for nearly twenty-five years. During that time, she’s covered a variety of musical genres, including punk, blues, folk, jazz and electronic-tinged rock. Her 18th studio album, Allergic to Water (stream it below)—recorded while she was pregnant in her adopted hometown of New Orleans—came out last week on DiFranco’s Righteous Babe Records. The Guardian calls it “funny and furiously energetic.” And AllMusic says, “DiFranco’s mix, for all its space and texture, is one of tasteful restraint. It allows melodic and rhythmic invention to shine through, underscoring the skill in her composing and the quality of the instrumental performances. In a catalog that contains over 20 studio albums, Allergic to Water is exemplary for its craft.” Out on tour, DiFranco (above, performing “Allergic to Water”) plays Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday night. Jenny Scheinman, who played the violin and provided backing vocals on Allergic to Water, opens the show.

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A Double Shot of the Rural Alberta Advantage on the Lower East Side

November 12th, 2014

After forming in Toronto in 2005, the Rural Alberta AdvantageNils Edenloff (vocals and guitar), Paul Banwatt (drums) and Amy Cole (keys and vocals)—began releasing emotional folkish music, which led to a fair amount of Internet intrigue. Their debut full-length, Hometowns (stream it below), came out in 2008 (and was rereleased a year later). AllMusic rang in: “With a name like the Rural Alberta Advantage and a debut album called Hometowns, one would hope for an unpretentious collection of amiable indie pop tunes filtered through the wistful lens of a Wes Anderson film, and that’s exactly what you get.” The band followed that in 2011 with Departing (stream it below), and PopMatters was impressed: “The Rural Alberta Advantage have delivered a rarity: An album that remarkably stuns, even though its world view is largely seen from a car stuck in the middle of snow bank on the side of the road.” The Rural Alberta Advantage (above, performing “Terrified” for AudioTree Live) returned this year with their third album, the terrific Mended with Gold (stream it below), about which Consequence of Sound says, “The band is in a groove, churning out good to great songs with a distinguishable aesthetic.” Despite their impressive recorded work, RRA are best experienced live. See them tomorrow and Friday at The Bowery Ballroom.

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Two Nights of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. in NYC This Week

November 11th, 2014

Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott were each playing in different Detroit bands when they first met. But soon after, they began recording together in Zott’s suburban basement. It’s a Corporate World (stream it below), their first LP, which deftly combines Beach Boys-esque harmonies (they do a mean rendition of “God Only Knows”) and electronics, came out in 2011, but even prior to that, the two, performing as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., became known for their high-octane live performances. In the spring of 2013, the Motown duo—above, performing “If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t on the Dancefloor)” on Conan—put out their third EP, the catchy, dance-heavy Patterns (stream it below), before releasing their second full-length, The Speed of Things (stream it below), last fall. Filled with dense electronic pop, rich melodies and pulsing beats, the album received a fair amount of praise. Paste effusively declared, “Epstein and Zott have concocted an album that will ultimately elude the dreaded ‘sophomore slump’ tag. They have stuck to a formula that worked on their debut but have taken it a step further. And while the album bolsters the band’s brand of sound rather than showcasing any significant amount growth in writing and arrangement, The Speed of Things is an exercise in consistency and accessibility. It’s refreshing.” They arrive in New York City for a pair of shows this week, on Thursday at Music Hall of Williamsburg and on Saturday at The Bowery Ballroom. L.A. trio Mini Mansions and Nashville singer-songwriter Madi Diaz open both nights.

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New Album Brings Electric Youth to Music Hall of Williamsburg

November 11th, 2014

Childhood sweethearts Austin Garrick (multi-instrumentalist and producer) and Bronwyn Griffin (vocalist) met when they were in sixth grade. They began dating two years later and eventually formed Electric Youth in 2009. The synth-pop duo teamed up with the French electronic musician College on the single “A Real Hero,” at least in part about Captain Sully Sullenberger. Its inclusion on the Drive soundtrack in 2011 earned Electric Youth (above, performing “A Real Hero” for Secretly Canadian Live Sessions) some acclaim, and Rolling Stone dubbed the tune “pretty much the greatest closing-credits song in modern history.” After putting out several more singles, the Toronto twosome released their debut full-length, Innerworld (stream it below), six weeks ago. Per PopMatters, “The cool, dreamy Innerworld is a sweet and shiny synth-pop sparkler, lovingly crafted with refreshing sincerity and warmth. A loving spoonful antidote to much of 2014’s salacious ’n’ shameless pop. It’s revivalist yet box fresh, with not an ounce of knowing kitsch, arched cynicism or winking irony, which makes it all the more endearing.” Catch Electric Youth when they kick off their new tour tomorrow night at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Another electronic duo, Midnight Faces, opens the show.

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Daniel Lanois Headlines Impressive Lineup at Masonic Temple

November 7th, 2014

Prior to launching a solo career, crafting lush, ambient classics like “The Maker” and many more, Daniel Lanois was best known as a producer extraordinaire, working with the likes of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris—and perhaps most notably for teaming up with Brian Eno on several U2 albums, including megahit The Joshua Tree. But in the present, Lanois’ most recent album, Flesh & Machine (stream it below), came out last week, and PopMatters says, “This is ambient music with the capacity to excite, engage, and evoke.” Additionally, “The real Flesh and Machine visual component that sounds extraordinary will be Lanois’ live shows in support of the release. Each night, Lanois, along with bassist Jim Wilson and drummer Brian Blade, will sample, dub and process in real time on stage each night, making for a singular performance on each date of the tour, never to be recreated.” And when Lanois and Co. (above, performing “Opera”) appear at the Masonic Temple in Brooklyn on Monday, it will be for Antithesis, “an evening of electrified shimmy and sonic wonder curated by Daniel Lanois,” featuring a full set each from Lanois, Mali desert-blues outfit Tinariwen and Brooklyn dream-rock trio the Antlers, plus a special appearance by “outsider artist” Lonnie Holley. This is one of those special shows you don’t want to miss.

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Catch Restorations Tomorrow Night at Mercury Lounge

November 7th, 2014

Restorations—Jon Loudon (vocals and guitar), Ben Pierce (keys, guitar and vocals), Carlin Brown (drums), Dan Zimmerman (bass and vocals) and Dave Klyman (guitar and vocals)—have been making music at the intersection of Americana, folk, anthemic punk and post-rock since forming in 2008. The Philly quintet (above, performing “Separate Songs” live for Little Elephant) has released several singles, EPs and full-lengths, the most recent of which, LP3 (stream it below), arrived last week. Consequence of Sound says, “Restorations may deal in the currency of nostalgia, but they’ll never be confused for a nostalgia act.” The blog also notes “the album’s soaring, stadium-ready melodies,” and declares, “Restorations is a band that indeed seems to believe in everything: the raw gut-punch of punk, the catharsis and euphoria of stadium rock, the necessity of looking backward and moving forward. In the hands of inferior musicians, that commitment to indulging all these beliefs would result in disaster. Here, it makes for one hell of a ride.” Get onboard tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge. Comedian Joe Sib opens the show.

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Don’t Miss Cold Specks and Her Big Voice Tomorrow Night

November 6th, 2014

It begins with her big, evocative voice. It’s devastatingly huge. (Pitchfork calls it: “Rough-edged and dark but still velvety, with fluid hints of gospel.”) And even when Cold Specks (above, doing “Bodies at Bay” on Later … with Jools Holland) shows restraint, you get the sense that her voice could blow the roof off wherever she’s standing, should she choose to do so. Fortunately, she doesn’t. Instead she focuses it on what she calls “doom soul,” a mix of Southern Gothic, traditional folk and American soul, which is slightly ironic as singer-songwriter Al Spx is actually Canadian. But no matter, because her music speaks for itself: I Predict a Graceful Expulsion (stream it below), out in 2012, and its follow-up, Neuroplasticity (stream it below), released this past August. PopMatters declares, “While the disc has many different stylistic tones, and is a bit all over the map, it still hangs together remarkably well. Imagine Tune-Yards without the dance beats, and the overall picture of Cold Specks’ sound emerges, though her music is certainly darker…. There’s a real sense of adventure here, and it is fun to be swept away and carried along by the tide of Spx’s smooth voice and audacious songwriting.” Get swept away in person tomorrow night at Rough Trade NYC.