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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.

Contest

Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Father John Misty on 2/12

February 10th, 2015

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Before heading to Canada and then across the Atlantic to Europe, Father John Misty lands in New York City this week to play Rough Trade NYC on Thursday and The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday. Both appearances sold out well in advance, but The House List is giving away two tickets to Thursday’s show. Want to go? 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 (Father John Misty, 2/12) and a brief message explaining why you think Valentine’s Day is terrific—or why you don’t. Eddie Bruiser, who’s in the latter camp, will notify the winner by Thursday. Good luck.

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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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Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe – Brooklyn Bowl – February 7, 2015

February 9th, 2015

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe – Brooklyn Bowl – February 7, 2015

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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Hear Some of the Bands You Can See This Wekk

February 9th, 2015

Hear some of the bands you can see this week.

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Natalie Prass Entrances a Sold-Out Rough Trade NYC

February 9th, 2015

Natalie Prass – Rough Trade NYC – February 6, 2015

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Natalie Prass was nothing if not alluring at her sold-out Rough Trade NYC show on Friday night. Yes, there was that stylish, short white-and-black floral dress and her flirtatious banter, but the real sexiness was in Prass’s music: her mesmerizing songs, the subtle flavors of her voice, the bounce of the bass and drums, the come-hither grooviness of the electric piano and some steamy guitar. On her justifiably acclaimed self-titled debut full-length, Prass’s music is adorned with an orchestra and a production that display a mature, capable performer with a power and wisdom beyond her years. Live, the music is stripped down to its unmentionables and the Friday night crowd was entranced with the results.

Prass opened on the piano accompanied by her crackerjack band from the Spacebomb indie-soul stable, based in Richmond, Va., led by Trey Pollard on guitar. On songs like “My Baby Don’t Understand Me,” she was in complete control of the room, silences were truly silent, the typical Friday night chatter and bartender glass clanking seemed to disappear in the magic of the moment. After guiding the band through several groove-hooked numbers during which you could almost feel everyone in the room falling head over heels, Prass paused to joke about how she had been described as a Disney princess before grabbing the microphone for “It Is You.” Lots of musicians hop down into the crowd and lots of them try to get more people to dance. But midway through her Disney audition, Prass went one further, hopping down to the floor and grabbing a guy to slow dance with to her own song as the band kept vamping, the crowd, feeling the moment, swaying along.

A pair of covers at opposite ends of the spectrum aptly summed up Prass’s sound: Janet Jackson’s “Any Time Any Place” and Patsy Cline’s “She’s Got You.” The former (“a dirty song”) came off as a mesmerizing slow jam with the band locked in on the heart of the groove, invoking the Valentine’s Day spirit a week early. For the Cline cover, the two ladies from Lady Lady (who played a terrific Nashville-esque opening set), joined Prass, the three of them trading verses and playfully harmonizing. The set arced perfectly to a close with two more of the new songs—Prass sitting on the edge of the stage, legs crossed singing “Reprise” and then the show-closing “hit,” “Why Don’t You Believe in Me?” which found a night-making funkiness and left many attendance with that I-think-I’m-in-love feeling. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

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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.

Contest

Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Sturgill Simpson on 2/11

February 3rd, 2015

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Sturgill Simpson has been riding high since going solo in 2013. He’s currently making his way across the country, which brings him to New York City next week to play The Bowery Ballroom on 2/11 and Music Hall of Williamsburg on 2/12. Both shows are sold out, but since The House List wants to give you one more shot to see this cosmic cowboy perform live, we’re giving away two tickets to see him next Wednesday at The Bowery Ballroom. Want to go? 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 (Sturgill Simpson, 2/11) and a brief message explaining your favorite song on his second album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. Eddie Bruiser, who always listens to the whole thing straight through, will notify the winner by next Wednesday. Good luck.

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Frontier Ruckus – Mercury Lounge – January 30, 2015

February 2nd, 2015

Frontier Ruckus - Mercury Lounge - January 30, 2015

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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Hear Some of the Bands You Can See This Week

February 2nd, 2015

Hear some of the bands you can see this week.

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Greensky Bluegrass Use a Little Bit of Everything to Brooklyn

January 30th, 2015

Greensky Bluegrass – Brooklyn Bowl – January 29, 2015

(Photo: Chris Monaghan)

(Photo: Chris Monaghan)

“We’re a bluegrass band.” That’s what members of Greensky Bluegrass kept announcing between songs at last night’s sold-out show at Brooklyn Bowl. At first, I was like, “Duh, it’s in your name!” But after a few decidedly out-there jams, I finally picked up on the very bluegrass joke. They definitely have the proper instrumentation (banjo, guitar, dobro, mandolin, bass), and they can play comfortably in the genre—but Greensky Bluegrass were playing with a jam-band style in rock club beneath a light show suitable for an EDM show. (Yes, Greensky Bluegrass are one of the few bands I’ve seen bring their own lighting rig.)

The set began with a dobro-heavy “Just to Lie” that showed off their abilities in the standard-bluegrass region before quickly going off course into a darker, minor-key piece with the lights following suit. This led to some deep hallucinogenic jamming that featured excellent playing from each of the band’s instrumentalists, with multiple build-and-release moments that prompted a healthy “whoop” from the packed house. Twenty minutes later, the opening sequence finally came to a climactic end. The crowd and band now settled in, Greensky crafted a two-set show filled with genre-straddling songs and jams, deftly flipping between the more traditional and progressive and whatever it is that’s beyond that. The lights followed suit, zipping through all of the colors of the rainbow and beyond, sometimes in unexpected combinations—an apt visual metaphor for the music being made. NYC jam-guest extraordinaire Eric Krasno came out for the first-set-closing cover of Norton Buffalo’s “Ain’t No Bread in the Breadbox,” a song made popular by Jerry Garcia but perfectly suited for a duel between dobro player Anders Beck and Krasno.

Things got even deeper during the second set, which opened with a dark, country-rock “Bring Out Your Dead.” The second guest of the night, Andy Falco of the Infamous Stringdusters, came out to help on Bill Monroe’s “Working on a Building,” yellow spotlights emanating from the stage like beams from the sun, before jamming out admirably on a David Grisman number. Throughout the second set, Greensky Bluegrass started in a place that felt recognizably connected to bluegrass but would then venture far into something different. The closing song was a prime example, the music dipped into an almost trance jam before returning to the theme and then running off again exploring in impressive fashion. The encore seemed designed to ground everyone again, Greensky calling out Krasno once more to help with a cover of the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider,” the crowd singing along at full volume, and the bluegrass band doing a pretty good Southern rock impression with a little help from their friend.—A. Stein | @Neddyo