Tag Archives: Monica Martin

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Violents and Monica Martin Bring Their Dream Pop to Brooklyn

April 27th, 2017

Violents and Monica Martin – Rough Trade NYC – April 26, 2017


Collaboration (noun): the action of working with someone to produce or create something. Jeremy Larson is a master collaborator and the man behind the indie collective Violents. The multi-instrumentalist not only plays all the music he has composed, but he also writes all of the lyrics. The hitch is that he partners with a female vocalist to bring each of these pieces to fruition. Previous collaborators have included Stacy King (Eisley, Sucre), Olga Yagolnikov (Kye Kye) and Nashville, Tenn., singer Annie Williams. For the first full-length record, Awake and Pretty Much Sober, Larson enlisted Phox frontwoman Monica Martin to flesh out his compositions with her sultry vocals.

Two days before the release of the album, Violents and Monica Martin played their first performance during an afternoon session at the Paste Studios before gracing the stage of Rough Trade NYC last night for their debut concert. Accompanied by the string quartet Rootstock Republic and a drummer (Joe), the duo opened with the glittering “Equal Power,” the first of four tracks released prior to the album. The performance would debut six additional songs, from the come-hither lullaby “Line Lie” to the trip-hop groove of “It Won’t Stop.” Throughout the set, clips of cinematic scenes played, including the iconic dance sequence from House Party providing the backdrop for “Hue.”

Midway through the show, Larson told the story of how the partnership formed after being a long admirer of Martin’s. He confessed he was a little cocky writing songs especially meant for her to sing before ever meeting the vocalist. Luckily a mutual friend got them connected and the rest is history. Martin added that a “shared insecurity” manifested with her singing lyrics she hadn’t written and Larson relinquishing vocal duties. As if new songs weren’t enough to satisfy the crowd, Martin proceeded to cover Frank Ocean’s “Self Control.” The evening was a reverie of dream pop that concluded with the title track and the apt closer “How It Left.” —Sharlene Chiu

 

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Phox Say Goodbye (For Now) at Music Hall of Williamsburg

January 30th, 2017

Phox – Music Hall of Williamsburg – January 28, 2017

(Photo: Sharon Vanorny)

(Photo: Sharon Vanorny)

Amidst an indie-pop music landscape saturated with bands, the Wisconsin-based Phox spent half of a decade delighting fans with their whimsical melodies. Ascending a stage at a local festival, Boo Bash, the members played for the first time in May 2011 for what they thought would be a one-off performance. From there they became the darlings of Baraboo, Wisc., releasing the Confetti EP in 2013 and then their self-titled full-length, recorded in Justin Vernon’s studio the following year. Last fall the band announced that members had agreed to take a “hiatus” to allow for other creative pursuits, from film to graphic novels. For the occasion, the quintet embarked on their Goodbye (For Now) tour, which rolled into a sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night.

Taking the stage to an opening composed by guitarist Matthew Holmen, the five-piece filed in with their phoxy lead singer, Monica Martin, clad in a shoulder-baring black top and high-waisted acid-washed jeans. She quickly began with the breezy “Leisure,” and keyboardist Matteo Roberts offered his vocals on the opening of “1936” before Martin took back the reins. The crowd participated in a chorus of “Wah oh oh” on “Evil,” which wouldn’t be the only time audience erupted. A cadence of claps was inevitable during fan-favorite “Slow Motion,” and many joined in, singing, “Everything I do, I do in slow motion.” The evening spotlighted Martin, who recently recorded the hypnotic “Equal Powers” with Jeremy Larson’s Violents.

A solo section showcased new material, including a ballad entitled “Make Believe,” and another song served as a cautionary tale about road trips with strangers. The little-sung “Laura” was hard to perform in the past Martin confessed because it was about the relationship with her mother. Saving the best for last, Phox covered the rhythmic chords of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” and Holman offered a blistering guitar solo on “Noble Heart” to punctuate the set’s end. The band would return to encore with another cover. This time it was Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody.” The bittersweet farewell ended with “Espeon” dedicated to Martin’s younger sister in the audience. And as it neared midnight, fans left dreaming of Phox’s swift return in the (hopefully) near future. Sharlene Chiu

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Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Phox on 1/28

January 24th, 2017

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The pride of Barboo, Wisc., Phox return to New York City this weekend for a sold-out appearance at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night as part of their Goodbye (For Now) tour. Don’t have tickets but still want to go? No worries. The House List is giving away two of them. 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 (Phox, 1/28) and a brief message explaining why you don’t want to see the band go. Eddie Bruiser, who eagerly awaits your reply, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.

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Phox Gain the Friday Audience’s Trust at Union Transfer

February 16th, 2015

Phox – Union Transfer – February 13, 2015

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It should be difficult for an audience to trust a band. There are reasons to be skeptical. Despite the usual assurances that band X is happy to be performing at venue Y and loves city Z, audience members ought to understand that touring is a grind. It can’t be the case that every show is the best show or that every city is the best city. Still, it’s an act of faith that keeps concertgoers going to shows, to see bands they love or those that intrigue them.

On Friday night at Union Transfer, Phox proved to be truly genuine. The six-member band from Baraboo, Wisc., walked onstage, illuminated by four marquee letters spelling their name. Lead singer Monica Martin stood in the center, surround by the band’s five male members. She nervously cracked her knuckles and fidgeted before diving into the first song, singing with natural confidence. Maudlin and mid-tempo, at first it seemed out of place, as the guitarist in a pink blazer failed his arms, imploring the drummer to play more aggressively, but it was also quintessential Phox: outwardly confident yet inwardly insecure. The songs ache.

Martin gestured to the significance of the night, Valentine’s Day eve. In her typical humorous yet painfully self-aware stage banter, she mentioned how the third song was about “homeboy walking away,” but circled back, saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day is what I’m trying to say.” And then, midway through the set, Phox made an unexpected decision. They stripped away the electric instruments, grabbed their acoustics, huddled around Martin and played songs just like they “did in the living room.” It was an intimate moment and hard to believe it was unscripted. Still, that was Phox. At another point in the show, they called up multiple friends and the opener, Field Report, to sing “You Are My Sunshine.” It was achingly cute and reminiscent of a Gap ad, but it would be wrong to think poorly of such a sincere moment. They earned the audience’s trust and, in doing so, gained their admiration and respect. —Jared Levy | @Playtonic

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A Top Five Look Back at 2014

December 31st, 2014

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklers

Top Five Albums
1. The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream
2. Total Control, Typical System
3. Run the Jewels, Run the Jewels 2
4. Coldplay, Ghost Stories
5. Parquet Courts, Sunbathing Animal —Charles Steinberg

Top Five Memorable Shows
1. Feist, Tarrytown Music Hall, 4/10
When I heard Feist was doing a tiny solo acoustic tour, I forked over ducats for this one. There were bits of stand-up-like banter with the audience as she stripped down the material. But what really made the night was a mini-reunion with former bandmate (and ex) Kevin Drew as they dueted on the Broken Social Scene classic “Lover’s Spit.”
2. (tie) Rhye, Webster Hall, 2/21
This performance was a bit misleading because although singer Milosh and producer Robin Hannibal are the members in Rhye, the latter member doesn’t tour. But Milosh’s ethereal voice really is the heart and soul of the pair, and it shone greatest for the hit “Open.” His deceptively androgynous voice sounds at times like Sade or even Antony Hegarty.
(tie) Max Richter, The Bowery Ballroom, 12/7
When I saw that the German-British composer was playing Bowery, I had to hop to it. As Richter usually plays symphony concert halls, it was an interesting choice to play such a smaller venue. The Ballroom felt like a recital hall with the audience entranced. What can I say: I’m a sucker for artists playing unorthodox venues.
3. Glass Animals, The Bowery Ballroom, 7/7
I was recently reminded of this concert when my yoga instructor played “Gooey” in class. Pretty fitting, right? In addition to infectious dance melodies, frontman Dave Bayley’s gangly limbs flayed erratically that evening, bringing to mind another dude named Thom Yorke. The two lads have great music and dance moves to boot. Coincidence? I think not.
4. Phox, Knitting Factory, 7/22
The buzz swirling around this Wisconsin band post-SXSW had me tuned into their album all spring and into the summer. Frontwoman Monica Martin was definitely a bit tipsy, but that didn’t detract from her lush vocals or onstage camaraderie. (Check out Schuyler Rooth’s review of their Mercury Lounge gig.)
5. (tie) Mr. Little Jeans, Rough Trade NYC, 5/10
Opening for Sohn, Norwegian singer Monica Birkenes, aka Mr. Little Jeans, overshadowed the headliner for me. It’s rare when that happens, but this lady has a knack for übercatchy dance-pop songs that streamed through my head all summer. She mentioned how she often came here as a child and was really craving a good slice of pizza. What’s not to love?
(tie) Alvvays, Rough Trade NYC, 7/28
New York City summers are packed with free outdoor gigs throughout the boroughs, but this in-store performance with Alvvays stood out amongst the rest. Their infectiously happy songs illuminated the dark back room of Rough Trade but had folks departing into the night with an extra bounce in their step. —Sharlene Chiu

Top Five Just a Man and His Guitar Solo Sets (chronological order)
1.
Dustin Wong (opening set), The Bowery Ballroom, 4/21
2. Plankton Wat, Trans Pecos, 5/8
3. Steve Gunn, Mercury Lounge, 5/18
4. Willie Watson, Mercury Lounge, 5/21
5. Leif Vollebekk (opening set) The Bowery Ballroom, 11/21 —A. Stein | @Neddyo

Top Five Memorable Shows
1. Sylvan Esso, Rough Trade NYC, 9/11
Both my favorite album and my most memorable live show of 2014 came from Sylvan Esso. Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn possess unwavering emotive energy, and every single lyric and beat has sunk into my psyche . I saw the duo perform live twice this year, most recently at their headlining show at Rough Trade NYC. The duo’s erudite electronica boosted the audience as they performed the entirety of their self-titled debut album plus and few clever covers.
2. Broods, Mercury Lounge, 3/3
Comprised of New Zealander siblings Caleb and Georgia Nott, Broods blend melodic melancholia with sparkling synths and glitchy beats. After getting wrapped up in their self-titled debut EP, I simply had to see them live. Broods played their first NYC show to an incredibly enthusiastic sold-out crowd at Mercury Lounge.
3. Hozier, The Bowery Ballroom, 5/13
Hozier’s rich voice and ardent lyrics sit front and center in his compositions. When he headlined The Bowery Ballroom back in May, he was flanked by equally talented musicians who created dazzling harmonies with choral echoes and rock hooks. Hozier and his bandmates mesmerized the audience, including me.
4. Dan Croll, The Bowery Ballroom, 4/17
Dan Croll’s brand of pop is highly addictive, and his live show is equally intoxicating. He fuses lilting pop, wonky electronica and tribal beats and tops it all off with clever lyrics and airy vocals.
5. Kishi Bashi, The Bowery Ballroom, 6/4
Kishi Bashi has what so many musicians seek, and that is an astounding live presence. It’s as if this guy belongs onstage. Kishi Bashi played back-to-back sold-out New York City shows this past June and stunned audiences with his whimsical finesse and astute lyrics. This picture and my review prove that Kishi Bashi’s live performance is one big euphoric dream sequence. —Schuyler Rooth | @Schuylerspeak

Top Five Albums
1. Under the Pressure, the War on Drugs
Channeling Dylan and Springsteen beneath Adam Granduciel’s vocals and personal struggles to stunning effect, this Philly six-piece put out, for me, far and away the top album of the year.
2. Benjamin Booker, Benjamin Booker
From the very first listen, Benjamin Booker’s self-titled debut sounds familiar, not like you’d previously heard its influences, but rather you’d actually already heard this album. The music is lived in and alive and a joy to listen to again and again.
3. 77, Nude Beach
Eighteen songs that sound like the love children of late-’70s Tom Petty and Elvis Costello. You’ll smile the whole time you listen to it.
4. Dancin’ with Wolves, Natural Child
Recording for the first time as a five-piece, and moving away from gritty garage rock to
a more full-band bluesy country sound (with a side of boogie), these Nashville boys took a huge step forward.
5. Morning Phase, Beck
Six years removed from his previous offering, Beck’s slow-building emotional relative of Sea Change captures you from the very first note. —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog

Top Five Memorable Shows
1. Pearl Jam, I Wireless Center (Moline, Ill.), 10/17
Playing a small (for them) venue (for the first time) on a Friday night in the middle of nowhere, Pearl Jam put on the best show by any band I’ve seen in the past four years. They performed No Code in its entirety and covered Pink Floyd, John Lennon, Van Halen and Neil Young. Frontman Eddie Vedder put it best, comparing the appearance to a blind date: “You get there and she opens the door, and it’s like, she’s hot!”
2. My Morning Jacket, One Big Holiday (Riviera Maya, Mexico), 1/29
I could’ve chosen any of MMJ’s performances from this run, but the last night was the longest show and it particularly stood out thanks to the perfect weather, the we’re-on-vacation-in-the-middle-of-winter party vibe and carefully chosen covers (including Jim James singing, “Something, something, something” in “Rock the Casbah.”)
3. the War on Drugs, The Bowery Ballroom, 3/20
I absolutely loved, loved, loved Under the Pressure and was extremely excited to hear it live. The War on Drugs did not disappoint, plus they even threw in a stellar rendition of “Mind Games” to boot. (As an added bonus, the night began with Drive-By Truckers at Terminal 5 and closed with green sauce and salt-baked goodness at New York Noodletown.
4. Jonathan Wilson, Music Hall of Williamsburg, 2/14
It was a Friday night and Valentine’s Day. But if you were expecting something quiet and romantic, you’d have been way off. Jonathan Wilson and Co. delivered 16 jammed-out (but not self-indulgently) songs over the course of two-and-a-half hours.
5. Deer Tick, Allen Room, 3/6
As part of the American Songbook series, Deer Tick played an incredibly intimate, seated show in front of a wall of windows revealing Columbus Circle below. It was one of those moments that makes you grateful to live in New York City. —R.Z.

 

 

 

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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