Tag Archives: Rostam Batmanglij

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Rostam Brings Debut Solo Album to Music Hall of Williamsburg

September 25th, 2017

The story of Rostam Batmanglij is one of continuation and staying on his creative toes. With an open mind and an open heart he’s thrown himself into each expression and partnership without getting bogged down. There was some level of redefinition in order when the instant but unsustainable starburst of his former band, Vampire Weekend, leveled out a bit, at least beyond their base following. But it was inevitable that he’d forge his own path. With inherent musical proclivity, it was just a matter of discovering new outlets. And he’s certainly found them. Along with lending his enlivening sense of melody and world rhythm to the production of acts including Frank Ocean, Charli XCX and Carly Rae Jepsen—and oh, by the way, writing original music for the reprise of Kenneth Lonergan’s classic Broadway play This Is Our Youth—Rostam struck collaborative gold last year when he buddied up with Walkmen frontman Hamilton Leithauser to gift us with the rollicking resplendence of I Had a Dream That You Were Mine (stream it below).

The volume of his work keeping him limber, he was prime to really hit a graceful, ground-covering stride on his first proper solo affair, Half-Light (stream it below). Just released this month, the effort carries that extraspecial glow and pop of every fifth firework. From the moment his Panda Bear–esque vocals sail into the album entrance of “Sumer,” a feeling of bright-eyed anticipation of what follows keeps afloat like an air-blasted ping pong ball. A youthful blend of vulnerability and moxie suspend in a seasoned weave of production that takes cues from all directions. There are even melodic allusions to the coiled-spring bop of Vampire Weekend, yet they’re shrewdly integrated, as in “Wood,” with cleanly bowed strings jumping into the gaps formed from the seductive Eastern percussion. When hearing the melodious, uplifting cheer of what can be construed as Rostam’s prideful retort to the chirping birds comes through his cry of “Please don’t let it get to you/ Even if you don’t realize it/ It’s still all up to you,” you’ll feel like running out buck naked to take on the world. He’s arrived at that point of confident eloquence, tightly embracing what made him and what moves him—and letting the tracks fall where they may.

Rostam once said that he’s interested in inclusion rather than exclusion, that his goal is to make music that can move anybody. His solo album easily surpasses this goal, and when performed live, the vibe pulses through the crowd. There’s that inestimable moment in time when a beloved honorary New Yorker who has contributed richly to this city’s music scene returns to play under a spotlight that is all his. That rare moment comes Wednesday at Music Hall of Williamsburg. You’ll be able to reach up and touch the electricity in the atmosphere on the night. Among the devoted and adoring Vampire Weekenders and newly blossomed fans of his duet album with Hamilton Leithauser, others, picked up along his musical path where the scenery has never been dull, will join in on the anticipation of a prolific artist, who many leap at the chance to work alongside, finally having his own moment in the spotlight. —Charles Steinberg | @Challyolly

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Former Vampire Weekend Member Rostam Plays The Bowery Ballroom

May 2nd, 2017

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij first burst onto the music scene as the guitarist-keyboardist for Vampire Weekend—he also produced the band’s first two albums. Batmanglji amicably left the group early last year to launch a solo career as Rostam. I Had a Dream That You Were Mine (stream it below), a collaborative effort with former Walkmen frontman Hamilton Leithauser, arrived last September. “Leithauser and Rostam take their flair for reimagining classic sounds with postmodern glee to new levels,” said AllMusic. And with a full-length solo album due later this year, Rostam (above, the video for his brand-new single, “Gwan”) plays The Bowery Ballroom on Wednesday. Former Dirty Projectors bassist, keyboardist and vocalist Deradoorian opens the show.

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Hamilton Leithauser’s Remarkable Friday Night in Williamsburg

February 27th, 2017

Hamilton Leithauser – Music Hall of Williamsburg – February 24, 2017

Hamilton Leithauser – Music Hall of Williamsburg – February 24, 2017
Call it New York City’s other sold-out Hamilton show, although this one showcases not a rapping founding father but one of the best voices in rock right now, the strained high range of Hamilton Leithauser’s, which will catch you off guard with its sheer power. “I use the same voice I always had,” he belted out in the closing lines of “Sick as a Dog,” the opener on Friday at Music Hall of Williamsburg. It was the first display of his voice in full force, firing off like the starting pistol for a remarkable night of music, the second of three local sold-out shows. Multi-instrumentalist and collaborator Rostam Batmanglij, Eric Harvey of Spoon, Greg Roberts and Stephen Patterson of White Rabbits—whom Leithauser had met touring over the years with his previous band, the Walkmen—joined the frontman.

They sounded like they’ve been playing together forever, a band perfectly suited for Leithauser and Batmanglij’s bluesy rock songs that fit perfectly well within the American songwriting canon. “If the man that you need honestly wasn’t me, tell me honey who could that be?” sang Leithauser in a desperate pleading voice over a wavering organ. With its lush sound, his 12-string took the slow-building “In a Black Out” from simmer to a boil and back to a simmer. He told the audience a story about attending a wedding where the father of the bride made a toast and broke out into “Wild Mountain Thyme.” Apparently an awkward affair for everyone else at the wedding, Leithauser fell for the guy in the moment, writing the tender song “The Bride’s Dad” from the father’s perspective. Knowing the song’s background set an incredibly vivid scene of the affair.

The catchy “1,000 Times” followed with hundreds of voices joining in for the chorus. Free-jazz saxophone and Batmanglij’s piano rambling like a rolling river closed out the set with “Rough Going (I Won’t Let Up).” Leithauser’s wife, Anna Stumpf, and the opener, Lucy Dacus, came out for an encore performance of the dreamy “1959.” If the Walkmen were the first act of Leithauser’s career, this collaboration is a hell of a second act, one that shouldn’t see a curtain call anytime soon. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesosteinberg.com

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Two Big Local Bands Take the Stage at Barclays Center

September 19th, 2013

Earlier this year, art-punk trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs—frontwoman Karen O, drummer Brian Chase and guitarist Nick Zinner—released their fourth full-length, Mosquito (stream it below). The album includes production work from LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek among others, and in praising it, the A.V. Club says the album “takes a much more open-ended, and less studied, approach to Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ electric eccentricity.” Of course, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (above, performing “Sacrilege” on Late Show with David Letterman) are most known for the fiery live performances, and you can see these hometown musical heroes tonight at Barclays Center. But do yourself a favor and get there early enough to see Har Mar Superstar.

Another big local band, Vampire Weekend—college buddies Ezra Koenig (vocals and guitar), Chris Baio (bass and vocals), Rostam Batmanglij (keys and vocals) and Chris Tomson (drums)—also put out an acclaimed new album this year, Modern Vampires of the City (stream it below). The band’s much-praised third LP is a bit of a departure, abandoning the post-college themes of their previous work, but gaining plaudits in the process, with Rolling Stone winningly comparing the quartet’s new tunes to Paul Simon and Tom Petty. But, like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend (above, doing “Diane Young” on Saturday Night Live) are best experienced live. And alongside Solange and Sky Ferreira, they play Barclays Center tomorrow night.