Tag Archives: Aquarium Drunkard

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The Orwells Headline The Bowery Ballroom Tomorrow Night

March 5th, 2014

Like many before them, Mario Cuomo (vocals), Grant Brinner (bass), Henry Brinner (drums), Dominic Corso (guitar) and Matt O’Keefe (guitar) formed a band while in high school (in suburban Chicago). But while so many other similar groups break up following, say, a battle of the bands, the Orwells signed with Autumn Tone Records—the label headed by Aquarium Drunkard’s Justin Gage—before they’d even graduated. Their debut full-length, the garage-punk Remember When (stream it below), was released in 2012 to positive reviews all around. Filter said it “sounds nothing like the inexperienced, unprofessional debut one might expect” and that the album “is universal, relevant thematically to anyone who’s received their high school diploma, and relevant sonically simply in that it is good music played well.” The Orwells (above, performing “Who Needs You” on Late Show with David Letterman) have since released a pair of EPs, Other Voices and Who Needs You (stream them below), and gained the reputation of a high-energy live band, and having just launched a new tour, they headline The Bowery Ballroom tomorrow.

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White Denim Cap Off Stellar Aquarium Drunkard Showcase

October 17th, 2013

Aquarium Drunkard Showcase – Mercury Lounge – October 16, 2013


While every night on the NYC live-music scene is a potential party, a night during CMJ takes it to the next level, like an over-the-top wedding reception celebrating the marriage between the music and the fans. Like every good wedding, it’s tradition to have something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. And last night’s Aquarium Drunkard showcase at Mercury Lounge had a healthy dose of each, running the gamut from vintage sounds, new directions and, yes, plenty of blues. It’s good to get to these shows early because you never know what gems you might find. After a tussle with traffic, I made it in time for the last few songs of Jacco Gardner’s set. Hailing from the Netherlands, he is riding the acclaim of his excellent Cabinet of Curiosities album. Gardner finished his set with “Chameleon,” proving to be a one-man wormhole (with backing band), reaching back to another time with gorgeous, lush melodies and a delicious psych folk.

Cotton Jones, from Maryland, came to New York City as a two-piece, frontman Michael Nau playing several solo songs and a few in duet with Whitney McGraw. This was a simple bluesy indie rock sweetened by Nau’s salted-caramel voice, which found perfect confluence with his lyrics, a highlight being “Blood Red Sentimental Blues.” This was easy-chair music: You felt like you could listen to these two sing forever, plus some A+ whistling. But the name of the game was quick turnaround—both the bands and the crowd seemed to swap out every 30 to 40 minutes, no time to get stale. The Zig Zags, blasting a go-fetch-some-earplugs, visceral punk metal at full volume, flipped the room 180 degrees from Cotton Jones. Playing their first NYC gig, the L.A. power trio made their presence felt with kicking music and dry wit: “This song is called ‘Magic.’ It’s about magic.” Riffs beget riffs beget not-bleeping-around riffs, at one point borrowing snippets of the Doors’ “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” to good effect.

Jonathan Rado’s band began their set in fun mode, seeming like the music and the crowd were just side effects of hanging out onstage. But after a couple of songs, the Foxygen frontman’s set got rolling, the music tightening up impressively. The highlight was “Oh, Suzanna!” which was decorated with excellent bass playing and a nice long, stretched-out, free-form bridge that found Rado on both guitar and keys.

White Denim, from Austin, Texas, headlined the showcase. And despite it being their third local show in fewer than four months, the set was from-the-garden fresh and new. Opening with “Pretty Green” off their imminent new album, Corsicana Lemonade, the music felt like it could explode at any moment, bubbling with fizzy energy. And it didn’t take long, the first few tunes like an avalanche sucking up more songs and parts of others until the now-packed venue faced an unstoppable force. Perhaps it was the midnight hour, but more than ever, the band seemed willing to open up things, with the spaces between sung verses a varying parameter with solos, long jams and full-on instrumentals filling the set—each musician pushing the envelope on songs like “Anvil Everything.” It was fitting that this dizzying evening of music from all over the rock and roll map came to a head with White Denim in monster rock-out mode on “I Start to Run” before making a smooth transition into the jungle groove of “River to Consider” and then into the blazing sing-along of “Drug,” bass, guitars and drums overlapping in triumphant glory. With their seamless segues and deft skill, Denim mocked the tight schedule of the early evening, making their 75-minute performance feel almost infinite, as a high-energy “Shake Shake Shake” and the brain-batter instrumental “At the Farm” highlighted the end of the superlative show, capping off a huge evening of music … or just another night of CMJ. —A. Stein

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Up-and-Comers Twin Peaks Play the Late Show at Mercury Lounge

October 2nd, 2013

When Cadien Lake James, Clay Frankel, Connor Brodner and Jack Dolan finished high school they intended to break up their band, Twin Peaks, and go off to college. But upon the release of their debut LP, Sunken (stream it below)—filled with fuzzy rock and roll and since rereleased on Aquarium Drunkard’s Autumn Tone Records—in the summer of 2012, the quartet headed out on the road, and things clicked, not just within the band, but also with crowds won over by the high-energy Twin Peaks (above, doing “Sunken” for Baeble Music) live shows. So they scrapped plans to scrap the band and are touring the country, which brings them to New York City to play the late show tonight at Mercury Lounge.

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Aquarium Drunkard Presents: Bleached Tonight at Bowery Ballroom

April 23rd, 2013

Sisters Jennifer (vocals and rhythm guitar) and Jessica (lead guitar) Clavin first made music together in their garage during high school, which ultimately led to: starting a band, ending a band, going separate ways, becoming a duo, forming Bleached in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. A few well-received melodic punk-pop singles announced their arrival, and their ensuing live shows (done with a drummer and bassist) gained them more attention. Bleached (above, playing “Electric Chair” for NPR Music) recently released their debut LP, the heartbreak-themed Ride Your Heart (stream it below), to a fair amount of acclaim and an accompanying tour, which brings them to New York City. See them with Hunters and Ex Cops, brought to you by Aquarium Drunkard, tonight at The Bowery Ballroom.

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Get an Amazing Start to Your Weekend Tonight at Mercury Lounge

January 25th, 2013

Just a few years ago, Reine Fiske and Christoffer Gunrup wanted to make music without any preconceived notion of what it should sound like. So they banded together with Alexis Benson, Moussa Fadera, Johan Holmegard and Fredrik Swahn to form the psychedelic boundary-pushing group the Amazing. Their first album, a self-titled affair, came out in 2009, and its laid-back retro feel brought comparisons to ’70s Laurel Canyon. The Amazing (above, playing “Flashlight” for WFUV FM) followed that with an EP, Wait for a Light to Come, and then their second LP, Gentle Stream (stream it below), was released last fall in the U.S. on Partisan Records. And now you can get an amazing start to your weekend when they play Mercury Lounge tonight, presented by Aquarium Drunkard.

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Exorcising Musical Demons

October 17th, 2012

Aquarium Drunkard: No Jacket Required Showcase – Mercury Lounge – October 16, 2012


It’s that time of year again, when the weather gets cooler, the leaves start to turn and I somehow deceive myself into thinking I have the willpower to stay away from the candy corn I bought for Halloween. You guessed it—the CMJ Music Marathon is back, and artists from around the world have already begun to descend upon us for the most glorious five days of music New York City has to offer. Here’s what CMJ entails: bands play a slew of shows, trying to squeeze in as many gigs as possible into the short period of time that CMJ runs. In response, venues endeavor to stuff as many sets as possible onto one bill. Bands get onstage, play their 20- to 30-minute set and move on to the next venue. And that can be frustrating; just as you start to warm up to a group you like, they pull the plug and exit the stage as fast as possible.

But at Aquarium Drunkard’s No Jacket Required showcase last night at Mercury Lounge, Foxygen found a way to skirt the rules. After a solid set by Calvin Love, the talented solo act from Edmonton, Alta., Foxygen set up their equipment in a flash and hit the stage a full 15 minutes before their slotted set time. That eagerness epitomizes their energetic showmanship: If their most recent record, Take the Kids Off Broadway, sounds like a shaken-up bottle of soda ready to explode, their live show is what happens when someone finally unscrews the cap. Sonically, they resemble your dad’s favorite classic-rock compilation but reinterpreted in a highly frenetic, almost hardcore vein. It’s incredibly familiar while being undeniably fresh, and it came together perfectly in the intimate setting.

Lead singer Sam France’s mania emanated throughout the venue—he screamed, gestured and shook as if he had been possessed by some sort of rock and roll demon. At one point he asked, “Is it satanic?” about New York City. And judging by how riled up everyone was, it very well might have been. His band and the enraptured audience fed off of each other, and even stage banter received hearty applause and various yips from appreciative concertgoers. By the end of the set, after several full-fledged musical freak-outs, the demon of New York City had apparently been exorcised from France’s body—but I wouldn’t be surprised if it appears again later this week. —Alex Kapelman

(Foxygen play The Bowery Ballroom on Friday, our FREE CMJ show at Pianos on Saturday and Webster Hall on 12/11.)

 

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CMJ Music Marathon Starts Tomorrow

October 15th, 2012

Here in New York City, it’s the most musical time of the year because the CMJ Music Marathon, tomorrow through Saturday, is upon us (check out a selection of the bands you can see, above): five days and nights jam packed with bands playing in all sorts of places, including those you wouldn’t normally think would have a concert, plus plenty of the usual suspects. The Bowery Ballroom hosts CMJ lineups on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Mercury Lounge welcomes the Aquarium Drunkard: No Jacket Required lineup tomorrow, the Windish Showcase on Wednesday, the Merge Records Showcase on Thursday, a FREE late-night show with Ratking on Friday and the MezzoForte Showcase on Saturday. And, of course, Music Hall of Williamsburg is on in this, too, with the Captured Tracks Showcase on Thursday and the Fat Wreck/Rocks Off Showcase on Friday. And once again we’re throwing our annual day party at Pianos with seven bands downstairs and six upstairs on Saturday. Get involved with a whole day of great tunes plus bloody marys and margaritas.