Tag Archives: Beach Boys

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Bring Harmonies, Beats and Elecronic Pop

March 25th, 2014

Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott were each playing in different Detroit bands when they met. But soon after, they began recording together in Zott’s suburban basement. It’s a Corporate World, their first LP, which deftly combines Beach Boys-esque harmonies
(they do a mean rendition of “God Only Knows”) and electronics, came out three springs ago, but even prior to that, the two, performing as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., became known for their high-octane live performances. Close to a year ago, 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 close their tour tomorrow night at Webster Hall. And up-and-coming electronic-pop artist Chad Valley opens the show.

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Haim Pack Webster Hall

September 4th, 2013

Haim – Webster Hall – September 3, 2013


The iconic long blonde locks of Californian lasses have been idolized in music from the Beach Boys to Girls (Christopher Owens). However, a trio of brunette sisters, Este, Danielle and Alana Haim, might be changing the West Coast lexicon. Playing collectively as Haim, these siblings evoke R&B into folk-pop heavy compositions. While fans await the release of their full-length album, Days Are Gone, later this month, the sisters headlined a sold-out Webster Hall last night. Having been to quite a few sold-out shows at the venue, I’ve never seen the rafters so overfilled with onlookers or a bottleneck at the entrance for the floor. The sisters definitely took notice, exclaiming “This is the craziest thing.”

Haim treated the crowd early on with fan faves “Better Off” and “The Wire.” The latter was reminiscent of M. Ward’s “Never Had Nobody Like You” with a noticeably similar rollick. There was no doubt that when Danielle’s guitar shredded the familiar chords of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” that this wasn’t any ordinary rendition. Her skills confirmed why the likes of Jenny Lewis and Julian Casablancas asked the middle Haim sister to tour with them. Early ’90s R&B influences were best heard on “Falling,” where the audience joined in to sing “Don’t stop, no one’s ever enough/ I’ll never look back, never give up/ And if it gets rough, it’s time to get rough/ But now I’m falling.”

The youngest Haim, Alana, couldn’t withhold her glee from announcing the gig was better than her 21st birthday to jumping around onstage to incite the front row. As the set neared its end, Danielle commanded for “the ceiling to fall down,” as she barreled into “Forever” and Este’s heavily laid basslines caused an eruption of claps. The trio returned for a one-song encore and delivered a venomous “Let Me Go.” The evening concluded with the sisters in a drum triangle, beating down on the skins as if they were taiko performers. There’s no question that Haim stamped their names on New York City. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Peter Senzamici | petersenzamici.com

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Take Another Step Forward

April 29th, 2013

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 26, 2013


The world of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. now operates on one law of nature and physics: If some is good, more is better. This wasn’t always the case for Dan Zott and Josh Epstein. Early on, they made their name wearing NASCAR racing suits and trafficking in Pet Sounds–era two-part harmonies. The first song on their debut EP, “Nothing but Our Love,” was sort of a simple offer compared to the bombast that’s begun creeping into their more recent work. Thus begins something of a second life with a new EP, the two-weeks-old Patterns: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. in an active and obvious evolution. Bubbles, cloth lanterns, enormous inflatable balls and human beings—the band sent spheres of all kinds into revolution if not outright orbit on Friday night at a very sold-out and frenetic Music Hall of Williamsburg.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. opened with a brief teaser of the “na-na-na” chorus of first-LP jam “An Ugly Person on a Movie Screen” before making the transition to open with the recent “Hiding,” an enormous slice of buzzing synth pop. With Zott rocking a side ponytail in his curly brown hair, and both members wearing matching paisley suits, the sounds owed themselves to the crossover of “We Are Young,” by fun., but the visual aesthetics were all LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.” This was as exciting to the Warner Music contingent in the balcony as it was to the combustible fans on the floor. Dale Earnhardt. Jr. Jr. turned to play “Simple Girl,” a sweet little song from their first LP, It’s a Corporate World, before running through “Vocal Chords” and some new material, noting, “You’ll know this one,” prior to playing “Morning Thought.”

But, unquestionably, the moment of the evening occurred when the enormous inflatable white sphere that stood like an unpigmented sun above the stage was lit with projected animation, making a gigantic Lego-man face that sang along with the music. The face became 8-bit animation to go with the lyrics for “Skeletons,” a loop of the life cycle of a tiny pixelated man and woman. The song, about the twin impulses of forgetting and remembering the past, rang perfectly for the band on the cusp of something of a big next movement, the next turn, the lives of imagined selves and illuminated orbs set against the “skeletons buried in the backyard.” —Geoff Nelson

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With a New EP, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Play Music Hall of Williamsburg

April 24th, 2013

Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott were each playing in different Detroit bands when they met. Soon after, they began recording together in Zott’s suburban basement. It’s a Corporate World, their first LP, which deftly combines Beach Boys-esque harmonies (they do a mean rendition of “God Only Knows”) and electronics, came out two springs ago, but even prior to that, the two, performing as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., became known for their high-octane live performances. Last week the Motown duo, above, in their video for “If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t on the Dancefloor),” put out their third EP, the catchy, dance-heavy Patterns (stream it below), and you’re sure to hear some of those new tunes when they kick off the weekend at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday night.

(Try to win two free tickets to this show.)

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Perhaps the Start of a New Tradition

December 31st, 2012

Punch Brothers – The Bowery Ballroom – December 29, 2012


These things have to start somewhere. In absence of Patti Smith’s longstanding New Year’s Eve run at The Bowery Ballroom, on Saturday night Punch Brothers kicked off what we can only hope will become an annual three-night out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new run at the corner of Delancey and Bowery. With Chinese lanterns strung across the room and cozy lights above the stage, the mood was celebratory, as rhythmic “We want an encore!” clapping spontaneously broke out before the band even took the stage. This was an arena-rock-primed crowd for a bluegrass band: What gives?

When Chris Thile and the band took the stage, opening with their cover of Josh Ritter’s “Another New World”—featured on their new Ahoy! EP (starting a show-long call-and-response of “Ahoy!”)—the reasons for the crowd’s enthusiasm were apparent. The song and the following set were without-a-net string music, with an openness worthy of a jam band, interplay reminiscent of great jazz quartets and songwriting rivaling your favorite indie-rock freak folk. The audience went silent during the songs before erupting like a canned laugh track in between, eagerly applauding Noam Pikelny’s banjo figure eights or Thile’s masterful mandolin playing. The set drew from Punch Brothers’ entire catalog and beyond. “New York City” was an early ode to their hometown, while “Heart in a Cage” prompted a happy sing-along for a maybe-not-so-happy song, and “Song for a Young Queen” was one of many giddy instrumentals wrapping up multiple genres in a singular Punch Brothers sound.

The second half of the 90-minute show was one long highlight reel: the band premiering a nice cover of the Beach Boys“Surf’s Up” (a song they “wished to God” they had written), paying tribute to the Seldom Scene’s Mike Auldridge, who had passed away earlier in the day, with “Through the Bottom of the Glass,” and handling an awe-inspiring movement from Thile’s “The Blind Leading the Blind.” During the last one, as the mathematically beautiful music unfolded, I was reminded that this bourbon-sipping picker is also a certifiable genius. As he led the band through a fantastic encore that hit on all of the quintet’s strengths, Thile mentioned his New Year’s resolution was to “drink more and better whiskey.” I’d like to add to that: Start a new New Year’s Eve tradition. —A. Stein