Tag Archives: Mercury Lounge


See Thumpers Play the Late Show Tonight at Mercury Lounge

August 27th, 2014

Friends since childhood, Marcus Pepperell (vocals, guitar and keys) and John Hamson Jr. (drums, vocals and bass) each played in various London bands before teaming up for the synth-pop duo Thumpers three years ago. The project initially began through e-mail correspondence, but once they began writing and recording together in 2012, their catchy, exuberant recordings instantly caught on via the Internet. And then thanks to just a few tunes, Thumpers (above, performing “Together Now” for KEXP FM) signed with Sub Pop. Their debut full-length, the polished Galore (stream it below), arrived in North America this past winter, and AllMusic was impressed: “Thumpers manage to tuck a wide scope of ideas and sounds into their songs without ever feeling too overbearing or crowded…. Constructed with flawlessness in mind, Galore succeeds in its ability to sound intensely produced and polished but never sterile. The same strong heartbeat that makes acts like Dirty Projectors, Phoenix, Suckers and the like equally human and precise beats inside Thumpers’ best songs as well.” See them play the late show tonight at Mercury Lounge.


Rubblebucket Are a Force to Reckon With

August 27th, 2014

Rubblebucket – Mercury Lounge – August 26, 2014

Rubblebucket – Mercury Lounge – August 26, 2014
A name like Rubblebucket might conjure up a mishmash of musical nuggets, which is exactly what the seven-piece outfit creates. Anchored by a strong horn section, a flurry of explosive synthesizers creates melodies that range from indie pop to dance funk. The band began with leader Alex Toth meeting Annakalmia “Kalmia” Traver at the University of Vermont, and from there the bond has spanned nearly a decade. Slowly building a fan base on the festival circuit, the Brooklyn band has garnered a healthy following, including NPR Music’s Bob Boilen. On the night of their third full-length album release, Rubblebucket played a sold-out Mercury Lounge christening their latest, Survival Sounds.

A setup of a tarp backdrop and strobe floor lights hinted at the night ahead as the troupe took the stage that seemed barely big enough to contain them. “My Life,” off their latest, opened the set to a sea of adoring fans. Traver exclaimed that it was Survival Sounds day and expressed that she was feeling crazy this evening. The septet rippled through old and new material, following up the opener with “Silly Fathers,” off Omega La La, and brought out the flutes for “Sound of Erasing.” Toth and trombone player Adam Dotson provided some choice backup dance moves behind the eccentric Traver on lead vocals. Throughout the evening, the band employed stage effects like a confetti cannon, balloons released from a black trash bag and a long panel of fabric, which stretched close to the end of the venue—creating a billowing tent over half of the audience.

Toth descended into the crowd for “Came Out of a Lady,” sending many into uproarious cheers. The tempo mellowed for “Young and Old,” but that didn’t last long as the group continued playing new material, including the clap-happy “Origami,” a crescendo-heavy “Hey Everybody,” crowd-favorite “Shake Me Around” and the upbeat, jazzy “Rewind.” On the latter, Traver invaded the floor to start a Soul Train line, with fans eager to join. As the show’s end neared, the single “Carousel Ride” built up the energy as everyone sang a chorus of  “round and round.” Following the final song, “Pain from Love,” everyone in the band jumped off the stage to march through the audience and into the front bar, but not before they’d proved that Rubblebucket are a force to be reckoned with, from their fierce music to their showmanship. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.wordpress.com

(Rubblebucket play Rough Trade NYC tonight.)


Catch Rubblebucket Tomorrow Night at Rough Trade NYC

August 26th, 2014

Musically speaking, Alex Toth (trumpet, percussion and vocals) and Kalmia Traver (vocals and sax) have been together for a while. The two met as music majors at the University of Vermont and upon graduation they joined the reggae outfit John Brown’s Body. Eventually they decided to go in a different direction, forming Rubblebucket (above, doing “My Life”) and mashing together psychedelic pop and dance music with layered rhythm and melodies and arrangements by Toth. And as their sound grew bigger, David Cole (drums), Adam Dotson (trombone, vocals and percussion) and Ian Hersey (guitar) joined the band. The Brooklyn-based dance-rock crew released their newest full-length, Survival Sounds (stream it below), today. According to Baeble Music, “Like going on an island vacation with Passion Pit and Earth, Wind & Fire, Survival Sounds demonstrates the group’s seamless blending of their reggae, electronic, and ’70s funk influences.” The five-piece celebrates the album’s arrival tonight at Mercury Lounge, which is sold out, but you can still see them tomorrow at Rough Trade NYC. And if you go, just be prepared to shake it all night.


Cut Loose with Earthless Tomorrow at Mercury Lounge

August 21st, 2014

Although they’ve each also played in several other bands (including Rocket from the
and Howlin’ Rain), guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba have been making high-quality, jam-heavy instrumental psychedelic
rock together as Earthless since 2001. They’ve released one live album and three studio full-lengths, the most recent of which, From the Ages (stream it below), which also includes vocals, came out last year—and it was so good that even Pitchfork liked it: “This is the atavistic magic of three people locked in a room only with their instruments and each other, eyes closed, and mouths open…. The dudes are once again just riffing here. It’s a trip worth taking, at least a few times.” Earthless also recently released a live LP with Heavy Blanket (which includes J. Mascis), In a Dutch Blanket (stream it below), about which Noisey says, “Get ready to cry because you will never play this well.” They just kicked off a new tour last night, and you can see them play Mercury Lounge tomorrow night.


Frontier Ruckus Answer the Question at Mercury Lounge

August 20th, 2014

Frontier Ruckus – Mercury Lounge – August 19, 2014

Frontier Ruckus – Mercury Lounge – August 19, 2014
“What’s the song about?” For many singer-songwriter types, that’s probably an annoying question to answer. Sure, sometimes it’s easy (I, like, love you very much!), but I imagine for Frontier Ruckus, with their word-dense, evocative, nonlinear songwriting, it’s usually more complicated than that. That being said, last night’s late set at Mercury Lounge featured plenty of explanations. So we had a number of introductions from frontman Matthew Milia like “this song is … vaguely about finding a stash of porn behind a Taco Bell” and “about getting drunk at your enemy’s wedding” and “winter in Michigan” and “on the surface, this is a breakup song.”

But when these tunes were played, dense forests of language with layers of lyrical fauna and flora, it was clear that they were much more than the descriptions offered. Part of the joy of listening was trying to grasp and digest these bits of imagery before the next one quickly came along. Of course, Frontier Ruckus are more than just lyrics, and the band was in fine form for their first of two area shows. To describe their sound, you need only know that in addition to the folk-rock staples of acoustic guitar, bass and drums, they feature a banjo player, David Winston Jones, and one of those Swiss Army knife guys who does a little bit of everything. This was Zachary Nichols, who rotated through keyboards, melodica, tuba, trumpet and the freakin’ saw, oftentimes all in the same song.

The set featured older material, songs from their excellent Eternity of Dimming album
as well as a healthy highlight of their soon-to-be-released, Sitcom Afterlife, which, ever with the wordplay, is both their fourth and forthcoming album. Highlights abounded: “Dealerships,” nominally about Michigan winters, punctuated with nice trumpet and banjo; the instrumental banjo-meets-saw duet of “Moon River”; the audience-requested “The Tower,” another duet with Milia again backed by Nichols on the saw; and the set-closing, long-player, “Adirondack Amish Holler,” with enough musical and lyrical twists and turns to fill at least a month of Tuesday nights. What’s the song about? That’s a good question! —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

(Frontier Ruckus play Rough Trade NYC tonight.)





Frontier Ruckus Play Two Local Shows This Week

August 18th, 2014

While in high school outside Detroit, singer-songwriter Matthew Milia and banjo player David Jones formed Frontier Ruckus, focusing on a mishmash of bluegrass, country, folk and rock. The band blossomed into a six-piece while the two were in college, and they went on to release a pair of well-received albums, The Orion Songbook (stream it below) in 2008 and Deadmalls and Nightfalls (stream it below) in 2010, before paring down to a four-piece, now with multi-instrumentalist Zach Nichols and vocalist Anna Burch, for last year’s terrific double album, their third LP, Eternity of Dimming (stream it below), which Allmusic calls “a beautiful, nostalgic (in the best meaning of the word) hymn to time and place, a long suite of songs that falls together like a wonderful quilt of memories.” Frontier Ruckus (above, performing “Thermostat” for do317 Lounge Sessions) have a new full-length, Sitcom Afterlife, arriving in November, but they’re already out on the road now. And you’ve got two shots to see them this week: tomorrow at Mercury Lounge and on Wednesday at Rough Trade NYC.


Smoke Season – Mercury Lounge – August 14, 2014

August 15th, 2014

Smoke Season - Mercury Lounge - August 14, 2014

Photos courtesy of Lina Shteyn | www.linashteyn.com


Wildcat! Wildcat! Charm Mercury Lounge

August 14th, 2014

Wildcat! Wildcat! – Mercury Lounge – August 13, 2014

Wednesday nights at Mercury Lounge can begin slowly. But last night’s late-show crowd was mesmerized early on as multi-instrumentalist Marley Carroll took the stage. He kicked off things by songs filled with sharpshooting synths and airy vocals. Initially, the crowd shied away from dancing due to the set’s slow, ambient beginnings, but Carroll’s fast-morphing samples and rhythmic bass quickly took hold of everyone. Based in Asheville, N.C., the producer has a knack for melding effervescent pop stylings with eerie electronic elements to create a gorgeously sleek sound. A pair of tracks from his 2013 album, Sings“The Hunter” and “Speed Reader”—anchored his impressive performance.

Grinning ear to ear, the four Wildcat! Wildcat! bandmates wove through the dense crowd and onto the stage. In town for a second night, the inventive indie rockers were more than happy to have another keen New York City audience. They opened with “Tower,” the first song off of their debut full-length album, No Moon at All, which came out just last week. A longstanding friendship among the three core Wildcat! Wildcat! members explains the organic camaraderie that radiates from them onstage. There’s a lot of humor and exuberance at play in their material, and while these elements could easily make their music float aimlessly into the realm of sugary synth pop, introspective, desire-filled lyrics and beguiling harmonies root the crafty Los Angeles outfit’s music firmly in its own little plot of land somewhere in the Venn diagram overlap of dance, pop and rock.

“Hero,” “Circuit Breaker,” the playful-yet-somber ballad “Mr. Quiche” and “The Chief” (complete with a very clever sax solo) stood out. And the entire show proved that Wildcat! Wildcat!’s songs are built for live play. With the memory of last night’s sparkling performance still clear in my head, I’ll happily put No Moon at All on heavy rotation and surrender to the band’s ever-vibrant charm. —Schuyler Rooth




Twin Peaks – Mercury Lounge – August 13, 2014

August 14th, 2014

Twin Peaks - Mercury Lounge - August 13, 2014

Photos courtesy of Ahron Foster | ahronfoster.com


Twin Peaks Bring New Tunes to Mercury Lounge Tomorrow Night

August 12th, 2014

While it might often feel like most young, up-and-coming groups play electronic music or skew toward the New Age of folk, some bands just want to rock, and thankfully Twin Peaks are one of them. Stereogum recently proclaimed them a Band to Watch, and NME labeled them “Chicago’s most promising new band.” The four guys in the reverb-loving garage-rock outfit—Cadien Lake James (vocals and guitar), Connor Brodner (drums), Jack Dolan (vocals and bass) and Clay Frankel (vocals and guitar)—have known one another since elementary school. And they bill themselves as “four doods, gnarly ’tudes, total hunks, play to drunks” influenced by David Bowie and Marc Bolan. “You know, rock and roll still rocks on. Just because we all have computers and anybody can listen to anything, people are still digging back and finding the good shit on their computers. And they’re like, ‘Oh, the good shit has got some real instruments and shit.’ Not that synthesizers don’t have their place, but I like real instruments,” James told Stereogum. Twin Peaks (above, doing “Irene” live in studio for KEXP FM) put out their debut album, the lo-fi Sunken (stream it below), last year, and per Pitchfork, “Sunken is less than 20 minutes long, but it packs a lot of cooler and verve into that blink of an eye.” The quartet returned this year with the just-released Wild Onion (stream it below). And Consequence of Sound weighed in with a ringing endorsement: “The lesson here might be to never judge a band by its age. With just two records to their credit, Twin Peaks are quieting dissenters who might have thought they were too young or too brash to use the riches of ’60s and ’70s sounds to their scrappy advantage. Rather than a barrier, the band’s youthfulness might be their biggest weapon. They’ve (hopefully) got years ahead of them still, and listening to Wild Onion just makes you hungry to see what else they have in store.” See Twin Peaks play Mercury Lounge tomorrow night. Another Chicago band, the Lemons, open the show.


Lily & the Parlour Tricks Play Mercury Lounge Tomorrow Night

August 11th, 2014

Playing a kind of retro soul that Spotify calls “vintage pop for the future,” the NYC six-piece Lily & the Parlour Tricks—Lily Claire (lead vocals), Darah Golub (backing vocals), Morgane Moulherat (backing vocals), Brian Kelsey (bass), Terry Moore (drums) and Angelo Spagnalo (guitar)—employ delicate three-part harmonies layered over a healthy dose of hard-driving bass and swaggering guitar that’s best experienced live. Speaking of which, Lily & the Parlour Tricks (above, performing their latest single, “Requiem” for Audiotree Live) play a hometown show tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge. And another local band, the blues-rock quartet Blue & Gold, opens the show.


Tiny Ruins Play Mercury Lounge Tomorrow Night

August 8th, 2014

Initially Tiny Ruins began as a solo project for singer-songwriter Hollie Fullbrook—whose voice has been compared to Beth Orton’s—but on her second album, this year’s Brightly Painted One (stream it below), she added bassist Cass Basil and drummer Alexander Freer to round out the dreamy folk sound, to a winning effect. Per PopMatters, “As with the best of songwriters in the folk tradition, Tiny Ruins’ Fullbrook manages to bring the characters populating these 10 gorgeously sparse tracks to life, imbuing each with a breadth and depth that leaves them fully formed in the ear of the listener, having lived very real, meaningful existences that extend beyond the brevity of the songs themselves and into some lush world that transcends its fictional origins.” See the New Zealand trio (above, performing “Reasonable Man” for Rhapsody) play Mercury Lounge tomorrow night.


Cherry Glazerr Play the Late Show Tonight at Mercury Lounge

July 31st, 2014

While still in high school, singer-songwriter and guitarist Clementine Creevy began
making music at home. But her solo bedroom project blossomed into something bigger, Cherry Glazerr, with the addition of drummer Hannah Uribe, bassist Sean Redman and vocalist Sophia Muller (who’s since departed the group). Their name is an homage to KCRW anchor Chery Glaser, and the L.A. trio’s sound mines the Venn diagram overlap of lo-fi noise pop, dreamy shoegaze and garage punk. They broke into mainstream consciousness when “Trick or Treat Dancefloor” was featured in an Yves Saint Laurent ad campaign prior to the release of their debut studio full-length, Haxel Princess (stream it below), this past January. Per AllMusic, “The group never plays two notes where one will do, they only rarely boost the tempo above a creepy crawl, and Creevy has a wonderfully bored way of singing where she sounds like she’s idly passing by a mike as she nonchalantly tells tales of heroic pet dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and used Band-Aids.” Furthermore, the album is “worth checking out if you like your guitar pop delivered in a decidedly off-kilter fashion.” See Cherry Glazerr (above, performing “Grilled Cheese” live for Jam in the Van) play the late show tonight at Mercury Lounge. Arrive early enough to catch the surf-punk quartet Gymshorts.


A Late Night with Phox at Mercury Lounge

July 24th, 2014

Phox – Mercury Lounge – July 23, 2014

Phox – Mercury Lounge – July 23, 2014
Mercury Lounge filled up quickly last night for electric rockers Trails and Ways, out of Oakland, Calif., and the Wisconsin folk-pop outfit Phox. Trails and Ways, up first, are four friends who self-identify as a bossa nova dream-pop act. They played from their debut EP, Trilingual, including the effervescent tune “Nunca,” and shared a few new songs.

Clearly giddy to be playing in New York City, Phox’s six members took their posts on the tiny stage and launched right into a material from their self-titled debut album. The band’s size doesn’t faze them one bit. Their onstage chemistry is due in part to the fact that they grew up together, attending the same high school in a very small town. So what could easily be a tumble of clumsy fingers on instruments is instead a web of warm harmonies, clever strings, quiet keys, bold beats and even the occasional trumpet. Suffice it to say, there is an undeniable kinship here. Singer Monica Martin’s airy, lilting vocals were front and center, and her fellow bandmates took turns playing sparkling solos.

“Noble Heart,” “Kingfisher” and “Slow Motion” showcased Phox’s flare for sneakily swelling harmonies. Anecdotes from Martin—whose idiosyncrasies are downright charming—peppered the set. The band brought up a friend, John Cameron Mitchell, who sang a gorgeous rendition of “Why Try to Change Me Now” (made popular by Frank Sinatra) with Martin as the two sipped martinis. Although the show ran late and the crowd trickled out around 1 a.m., it was well worth burning the midnight oil to see two truly talented teams of musicians work their magic. As far as live performances go, Phox and Trails & Ways are the cream of the crop. —Schuyler Rooth

Photos courtesy of Adam Macchia | www.adamkanemacchia.com


Surf-Psych Trio the Wytches Play Mercury Lounge Tonight

July 24th, 2014

Kristian Bell (vocals and guitar), Gianni Honey (drums) and Daniel Rumsey (bass and vocals) have been making doomy yet infectious music as the Wytches for three years. Based on the south coast of England, the surf-psych trio began to gain a following in the U.K.—including shout-outs from the Guardian and NME—thanks in part to the release of their debut single, “Digsaw,” and because of their mesmerizing live shows. They’ve since put out an EP and several singles, and ahead of the arrival of their debut full-length, Annabel Dream Reader, next month, they’re finally coming to New York City. See the Wytches (above, doing “Robe for Juda,” and below, covering “All That She Wants” for Transmitter) play the late show tonight at Mercury Lounge. Multi-instrumentalist Ian Jacobs opens the show as Monograms.