As Knox Hamilton, Bradley Pierce (vocals, guitar and keys), Drew Buffington (guitar), Boots Copeland (bass and vocals) and Cobo Copeland (drums) have been making the kind of exuberant, dance-floor-ready rock that’s earned them comparisons to the likes of Foster the People and Phoenix. The Little Rock, Ark., four-piece (above, performing “Rightfully So” for WTTS FM in Indianapolis) are out on the road right now, and they arrive in New York City for a pair of shows—opening for Civil Twilight tonight at Rough Trade NYC
and to play the early show tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge.
Tags: Boots Copeland, Bradley Pierce, Civil Twilight, Cobo Copeland, Drew Buffington, Foster the People, Knox Hamilton, Mercury Lounge, Phoenix, Preview, Rough Trade NYC, Rought Trade NYC, Video
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Dr. Dog finish up a sold-out eight-night run in New York City at The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday night, and The House List is giving away two tickets. Want to go? Try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Dr. Dog, 1/17) and a brief message explaining which tune from the band’s brand new live album, Live at Flamingo Hotel, is your favorite. Eddie Bruiser, who just might listen to the LP all day, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.
Rod Thomas likes to get people moving. Born in Wales, but based in London, he’s a singer, songwriter, pianist, producer, DJ and performer—which he does as Bright Light Bright Light. His dance-inducing mix of disco, synth pop and house music has secured him touring spots with the likes of Scissor Sisters, Erasure and, most recently, Elton John. That last pairing was sparked by the two working together on a track from Thomas’s second full-length, last year’s Life Is Easy (stream it below). John says, “He makes the music I’d like to make but don’t know how to, so when he asked me whether I would consider singing on his new record, ‘I Wish We Were Leaving,’ I said I’d love to.” Find out just why the Rocket Man couldn’t say no when Bright Light Bright Light (above, in the video for “I Believe”) plays Mercury Lounge tonight and tomorrow.
Dr. Dog – Music Hall of Williamsburg – January 10, 2015
Christmas arrived about two weeks later for local Dr. Dog fans. With the city now covered in sad, discarded Christmas trees and dirty days-old snow, Dr. Dog began their long stretch of New York City shows, eight to be exact, with four at Music Hall of Williamsburg and then four at The Bowery Ballroom. According to the band, there’s a pool of 700 songs to choose from, giving those fans attending each show with something new every night. Dr. Dog’s set on Saturday at Music Hall covered the fan favorites and dug deeper into their catalog, leaving everyone with a handful of new ones to adore. In my case, “Be the Void,” off the Wild Race EP. (How could I have missed this song?)
Dr. Dog adapt their live show to their recordings, not the other way around, which is impressive when you consider the complexity of their harmonies. Take “The Breeze,” with its harmonic breakdowns reminiscent of the Beach Boys’. Most would hear that recording and assume Dr. Dog wouldn’t even attempt it live, never mind the fact that they could make it sound even better onstage—and they do. It certainly helps that Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken, who share lead-vocal responsibilities, have complementary singing voices. The two have been writing music together since early adolescence, which probably helps with their harmonizing. If you had to distill Dr. Dog and their live experience down to one word, it’d be: fun. And or the sake of not having to look up synonyms, I’ll just keep repeating the word. “That Old Black Hole” makes for a fun band’s most fun song. Their cover of Architecture in Helsinki’s “Heart It Races” takes someone else’s fun song and makes it even more fun.
After finishing “Lonesome,” Leaman ended up crowd surfing alongside seemingly everyone else in the building. Not in the punk-rock, jump-off-the-stage-in-a-spur-of-the-moment way, but more in a gradual collapse into the audience, as if the crowd had swallowed him whole, a funny gesture considering he’d just sung about being lonely. Delicate Steve’s Steve Marion came out for a guest appearance to rip a massive guitar solo, leaving just him and the drummer while the rest of the band sneaked off, returning in full force for a blazing rendition of “These Days.” If you missed this show, there’s still a chance to catch Dr. Dog on Monday. And if you miss that … well you had eight other chances, so get your shit together. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks
Tags: Architecture in Helsinki, Beach Boys, Bowery Ballroom, Delicate Steve, Dr. Dog, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Photos, Review, Scott McMicken, Steve Marion, Toby Leaman, Wild Race
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Willie Watson – Rough Trade NYC – January 9, 2015
Sellouts are always special, but there was something even more rewarding about the packed house for Friday’s Rough Trade NYC bill. That a guy like Willie Watson with a guitar and a banjo, playing a set of songs that had been around longer than everyone in attendance had been alive—numbers that felt older than dirt—could draw such a large, spirited crowd to Williamsburg was emblematic of something. It said something about the timelessness of the music, of course, the folk tradition that will outlive us all, but it was also indicative of the guy playing them: He looked the part and sounded the part. Watson doesn’t just play these songs, he breathes life into them.
Following a raucous, raunchy, keep-your-eye-out-for-this-one opening set from Elle King, Watson took the stage, banjo in hand, wearing a denim shirt and jeans and a hat that added the perfect look to the sounds he was about to make. He opened with a one-two hootenanny of “Georgia Buck” and “Free Little Bird,” which put him in league with Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson respectively. The audience was transported, stomping the floor in time, evoking a barn dance more than a rock club.
Watson pulled some of the songs from last year’s Folk Singer Vol. 1, but mostly he seemed to be reaching back in time, the entire Americana songbook at his disposal. Highlights included Blind Willie McTell’s “Rollin’ Mama Blues” with some nice hand-shucked guitar picking, and an excellent version of a “new one,” Reverend Gary Davis’s “I Belong to the Band, Hallelujah.” Wrapping up a stellar night of singing and dancing, Watson capped the set with Lead Belly’s “Midnight Special” before an encore of traditionals, “Good Old Mountain Dew” and “On the Road Again.” You get the impression that a campfire, a bottle of whiskey, Willie Watson and his guitar would be just about a perfect Friday night. Who knows? He might even be able to sell out a gig like that. —A. Stein | @Neddyo
Future Islands – Terminal 5 – January 8, 2014
Future Islands’ own expectations are a motivator, fueling their quest to connect with people through their music, pushing them through gutting recording sessions and endless stretches of performances. From their listeners’ standpoint, expectations are confronted—and subsequently suspended—upon taking in a Future Islands album or live show. In essence, this duality of expectations is what’s made this Baltimore band the attraction they now are. And that phenomenon was on full display last night at a sold-out Terminal 5, the group’s biggest headlining appearance to date. “Let’s bring a little sunshine to this room,” said frontman Sam Herring. “It’s fucking cold outside.”
Future Islands’ passion comes across so strikingly that as the audience was swept up by the synth-propelled rhythmic progressions, animated by Herring’s flair and multifaceted vocal dimensions, thoughts of categorizing the music, or the swirling, kinetic atmosphere surrounding it, gave way to an irresistible visceral sensation. But one thing’s for sure: There is a dark beauty formed by their sound that has a paradoxical aching forward motion to it, like a wounded bear not stopping to rest. Plus Future Islands’ material hits on every level of what make humans respond to great music. And when all of these zones are stimulated, it’s a high particular to music—the animal that wants to pounce and flail while the sentimentalist wants to ponder.
Future Islands create the lush landscape of dance-inducing sounds, and Herring travels over and through it, providing the story as its narrator and its protagonist. He’s the chief of the campfire, telling his story, gathering everyone closer. Herring’s dancing and gesticulations somehow emphasize his voice. Prowling the edge of the stage, bowing his head and looking for faces to make eye contact with, he plead his case by singing, like someone trying to impress something deeper upon the listener than what seems to have gotten through. Herring is saying, “No, I want you to really feel what I’m talking about, beyond your indifferent nods of acknowledgement.” He’s looking for a hallelujah. And judging by the rapt exuberance of the dancing crowd looking on, his service was heard loud and clear. —Charles Steinberg
Deftly mixing melodic pop and psychedelic rock, Dr. Dog have been winning over fans for more than a decade. And even after releasing seven terrific studio albums, the Philly rockers are still most known for their energetic live performances. And to that end, a live album, the 19-song Live at a Flamingo Hotel (stream it here), comes out next Tuesday. And tomorrow night, Dr. Dog (above, performing “Shadow People” for the live album) kick off a new tour with eight(!) shows at Music Hall of Williamsburg and The Bowery Ballroom. Six of those dates are already sold out, but some tickets still remain for 1/12 at Music Hall and 1/14 at The Bowery Ballroom. But they’re going fast—so don’t get shut out.
Russell Whyte grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, with an interest in music. By the age of 15, he was already playing the guitar and spinning on turntables. He first burst onto the scene—under the name Rustie—in 2007 as a producer, deftly mixing dubstep, funk, hip-hop and electronica. Two years later, Rustie (above, doing “City Star” at MoMA PS1 for Pitchfork) joined Warp’s roster, and his debut full-length, the psychedelic-tinged Glass Swords (stream it below), came out in 2010 to some considerable acclaim. According to the Guardian, the album “is almost entirely composed of dance-floor highs, a series of those hands-in-the-air peak-time moments that stick in the memory long after the rest of the night has turned hazy…. Rustie has a knack for an irresistible hook, and for knowing when to stick with it and move on.” His second LP, the more serious Green Language (stream it below), came out last summer. And critics were again impressed. Per Spin, the album excels “not only because of its smooth integration of ambient, experimental and R&B influences, but also as a seamlessly ranging and novel concept album.” And it delivers, “serving as a fascinating turn for an artist who earned his reputation by essentially bashing fans into submission with bass.” Of course, performing live, he’s a little subtler, which you can experience for yourself tomorrow night at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Straight out of New Jersey, Nadus open the show.
The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra have been winning over fans in their native New Zealand going on a decade now. And in addition to their ukes, the band—a very talented 10 to 12 strong, occasionally including the Oscar-winning Bret McKenzie, of Flight of the Concords fame—employs accompanying instruments, exceptional harmonies and a terrific sense of humor (come on, they’re a ukulele orchestra), but their music is no joke. The genre-hopping group hits bluegrass, country, rock, reggae and R&B while covering the likes of Prince, Kings of Leon, Pharrell and Randy Newman, to name just a few. After releasing four EPs (stream them below), the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra (above, performing “I Love You, Raylene”) released their first full-length—of Kiwi covers—Be Mine Tonight (stream it below), last year. And now they’re making a rare Stateside appearance for a tour that kicks off tonight at Mercury Lounge. Local singer-songwriter and ukulele player Emilyn Brodsky and New Zealand comedian Steve Wrigley open the show.
Tags: Age Pryor, Bret McKenzie, Emilyn Brodsky, Kings of Leon, Mercury Lounge, Pharrell, Preview, Prince, Randy Newman, Steve Wrigley, Video, Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra
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Before jetting across the world, Future Islands are embarking on a short Northeast tour this week, which brings them to our fair city to play Terminal 5 on Thursday and Friday. And while both shows are already sold out, The House List is giving away two tickets to see the Baltimore synth-pop group on Friday night. Want to go? Then try to Grow a Pair. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Future Islands, 1/9) and a brief message explaining your New Year’s resolutions. Eddie Bruiser, who’s still searching for one of his own, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.
He grew up in Washington, D.C., raised by Chilean and Peruvian parents, listening to folk, go-go, hip-hop and soul—and he now makes his home in Brooklyn. So it should come as no surprise that talented singer-songwriter Nick Hakim isn’t tied down to just one genre. And thanks to the release of two excellent EPs, Where Will We Go, Pt. 1 and Where Will We Go, Pt. 2 (stream both below), last year, Hakim (above, performing “The Green Twins” for Sofar Sounds), channeling Marvin Gaye and Harry Nilsson, has quickly earned the reputation of a powerful, refined crooner with an old soul. But it’s his live shows—including a stint opening for Maxwell—that have really won over fans. And to that end, tonight at Mercury Lounge, Hakim kicks off a January residency, playing every Tuesday this month. Come see what the fuss is all about.