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 – 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
Tags: Anna Stumpf, Brooklyn, Charles Steinberg, Dan Rickershauser, Eric Harvey, Greg Roberts, Hamilton Hamilton Leithauser, Live Music, Lucy Dacus, Music, Music Hall of Williamsburg, New York City, Photos, Review, Rostam Batmanglij, Spoon, Stephen Patterson, Walkmen, White Rabbits
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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.
Tags: Barclays Center, Brian Chase, Chris Baio, Chris Tomson, Dave Sitek, Ezra Koenig, Har Mar Superstar, James Murphy, Karen O, LCD Soundsystem, Modern Vampires of the City, Nick Zinner, Paul Simon, Preview, Rostam Batmanglij, Sky Ferreira, Solange, Tom Petty, TV on the Radio, Vampire Weekend, Video, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
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