Tag Archives: Ryan Adams

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Ryan Adams Thrills at Intimate Rough Trade NYC Show

February 21st, 2017

Ryan Adams – Rough Trade NYC – February 18, 2017

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Ryan Adams celebrated the release of his new album, Prisoners, with an intimate, sold-out show on Saturday night at Rough Trade NYC. Without question, the LP’s subject matter is heavy—it’s a breakup album through and through, and some of the lyrics are stark and painful (“Feel like I’m heading for a breakdown”; “I’ve missed you so much I shiver and I shake”). At times, the juxtaposition of the smiling and swaying crowd with such downtrodden sentiments felt almost subversive. Yet, to watch Adams and his band tear through Prisoners songs like “Do You Still Love Me,” “Haunted House” and “Outbound Train,” it was clear that the music and performance were creating a cathartic way for Adams to continue his healing process.

There was still a feeling of joy in room despite the heavy subject matter, mitigated in part by the buoyant, dynamic music that refused to be dragged down by sadness, often stretching into freewheeling extended jams, peppered with Adams’ intricate guitar solos. He was also mindful to break up any lingering tension between songs, and when he noticed the crowd was very quiet after his rendition of “We Disappear,” the singer-songwriter joked to his band in a stage whisper, “What if they’re texting each other?”

In addition to the new material, Adams and Co. dipped into his prolific back catalog for the second half of the show, treating the crowd to a well-loved songs like “Peaceful Valley,” “Magnolia Mountain” and “Let It Ride,” all from the period during which Adams recorded with his band the Cardinals, as well as more recent material like “Kim,” “Dirty Rain” and “Shakedown on 9th Street.” By the night’s end—following a stunning, jammed-out “Cold Roses” closer—Adams had accomplished the feat of sharing some of his feelings of misery without letting them bring down the mood, and although the crowd may have left with a better understanding of his inner turmoil, there was also the larger sense that Adams will be OK because his music will continue to lift him up. —Alena Kastin | @AlenaK

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La Sera Bring New Music to Mercury Lounge on Saturday Night

October 20th, 2016

Former Vivian Girls vocalist and bassist Katy Goodman formed La Sera six years ago and has since recorded and performed solo and with a rotating cast of musicians, changing La Sera’s sound from album to album. Leaving behind garage pop for twangy Americana on the fourth LP, Music for Listening to Music To (stream it below), out earlier this year, Goodman teamed up with guitarist and songwriter Todd Wisenbaker, who just so happens to be her husband—and Ryan Adams, who took on producing duties. (Wisenbaker and Ryan Adams hit it off so well that they went on to do a melancholic, track-by-track cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989.) “The silly album title actually gets to the album’s heart, an undeniable charm in the campiness, as on the round-up rodeo feel of ‘High Notes’ [above, the video for it],” according to Consequence of Sound. “In every sense, this is a smart, confident step forward for La Sera.” See them perform live on Saturday night at Mercury Lounge. Greta Morgan’s Springtime Carnivore opens the show.

Two Chances to Catch Rachael Yamagata’s New Music Live Next Week

September 23rd, 2016

Singer-songwriter, pianist and guitarist Rachael Yamagata has been making music for more than a decade. Her debut album, Happenstance (stream it below), out in 2004, earned the sultry vocalist (above, doing an acoustic “Be Be Your Love”) plenty of attention. “When she isn’t writing intelligent piano-driven pop, she’s creating ballads so classic you’ll wonder where you heard them before,” gushed PopMatters. “It takes a great songwriter to show how few great songwriters ever really come along, and Rachael Yamagata’s latest effort proves just that. Keep an ear out for this one.” She’s remained steadily busy ever since, working with the likes of Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne and Toots and the Maytals, while still finding time to release her own live albums, EPs and full-lengths. Her fourth full-length, Tightrope Walker, just came out today, and, in support of it, the New Yorker plays two local shows, at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Monday and at The Bowery Ballroom the following night. Annapolis, Md., trio Pressing Strings open both shows.

Five Questions with … Mail the Horse

February 18th, 2016

The folk- and classic rock–loving group Mail the Horse (above, performing “Flowers, Keys & Gasoline”)—Donny Amidon, Michael Hesslein, Chris May and Brendan Smith—first laid roots in coastal New Hampshire before making the move to Brooklyn. They’ve become known locally as a DIY band not to miss. They open for the Cactus Blossoms tonight at Mercury Lounge, and the guys answered Five Questions for The House List.

As a touring band, what’s the best part of staying local to play Mercury Lounge? And do you ever notice if your music is received differently at home versus on the road?
Mercury Lounge has been good to us, and it’s still one of the best places to see music in the city. They pride themselves in establishing solid artist relations, which is something we appreciate. It’s great to see familiar faces but also nice to not know anyone in the crowd and let go a little more. Bottom line is that we like to play and we like to make people feel as many different emotions as possible during our sets. That’s what we pride ourselves on.

Planet Gates came out about a year ago. Are you guys working on anything new? And do you ever fine-tune music live before recording it?
We’ve been writing and are about to start recording in the spring. We performed about half of the tunes on Planet Gates before we recorded them. Studio is always different than a live performance so there are always adjustments to be made. We look forward to seeing where the next set of sessions take us.


What bands have influenced your music?
We all spent a real decent chunk of our formative years listening to way too much of the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan obviously, the Band, Flying Burrito Brothers, the Byrds and other “cosmic” American bands from the ’60s and early ’70s, but we also dig in deep with the Stones—all eras—and on tour our playlists and our tastes tend to be very, very eclectic. We listen to straight up Journey and then we listen to Pharoah Sanders and then we listen to Ryan Adams, then we listen to Gene Clark demos from the late ’70s on YouTube. But we also all listen to a ton of contemporary stuff. There’s an album coming out this week by this band Murals that we’ve been looking forward to for months.

Do you have any crutches when writing a song—are there certain words or styles you feel you lean on too much?
It’s OK to have something to lean on because it gives you confidence in your abilities,= and you can make it your thing. But it’s very important to step outside the box and challenge yourself musically—or in life in general. Most of the time when you find yourself leaning on something, it means you’re honing in on something. And then once you get closer to it, maybe you catch it, and then move onto something else. Sometimes you never catch it, or sometimes it morphs into something new. It’s like chasing something that you can’t see but can feel. Also, we wrote a few songs over the years with recurring lines about dead dogs. I think all the songs are great, but maybe it’s something else’s time to die!

Do you have to be depressed to write a sad song? Do you have to be in love to write a love song? Is a song better when it really happened to you?
Some of the best songs ever written are stories that don’t relate to the songwriter. It always helps to feel a certain way, but it’s fun putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Singing/ playing with conviction is the most important aspect or no one is going to believe you either way. Two of us had a fiction professor tell us a quote: “Write about what you know, whether it happened to you or not.” If your goal is expressing emotional truth, the facts can become irrelevant. Bruce Springsteen didn’t drag race all those cars himself, right? But “Racing in the Street” sure rings true. Big time.—R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog

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Catch Alt-Folkie Andrew St. James Tonight at Mercury Lounge

January 20th, 2016

Inspired by Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter—and at just 18—alt-folkie Andrew St. James released his debut full-length, Doldrums (stream it below), in 2013. American Songwriter noted it for the San Francisco singer’s “great lyrics.” St. James (above, doing “Nightmares Pt. 17” for Balcony TV) put out a follow-up, The Shakes (stream it below), a year later. And according to Amazon Music, despite still a teenager “his music sounds like the work of a time-worn troubadour…. Fans of Ryan Adams and the Flaming Lips alike will find a kindred spirit in James.” Now winding down an East Coast swing, St. James plays Mercury Lounge tomorrow night.

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Former New Yorker Israel Nash Plays Mercury Lounge Tomorrow

January 21st, 2015

After a solid upbringing in the Midwest, singer-songwriter Israel Nash headed to New York City to make a name for himself as a folk musician almost 10 years ago. His debut album, 2009’s New York Town (stream it below), earned him comparisons to early Bruce Springsteen and Ryan Adams. His follow-up, Barn Doors and Concrete Floors (stream it below), arrived two years later. After that, he left the Big Apple for a small town in Texas, and that move fueled his third full-length release, Israel Nash’s Rain Plans (stream it below), out last year. “These songs are all about moving from New York to the reaches of the Hill Country and what those hills represent to me, which is greater than just nature. It’s about my life and home. I really wanted to go new places and abandon any rules that had made me cautious before. It’s about creating an environment that is so much bigger than any individual,” says Nash (above, performing “Just Like Water” live in studio for KEXP FM). According to Relix, “there is an easy-rolling, outdoorsy, relaxed feel to the songs here.” But, of course, the very best way to experience those songs is live and in person, which you can do at the early show tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge.

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Bob Mould – The Bowery Ballroom – September 10, 2014

September 11th, 2014

Bob Mould - The Bowery Ballroom - September 10, 2014

Photos courtesy of Greg Pallante | gregpallante.com

(Bob Mould plays The Bowery Ballroom again tonight.)

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Phil Lesh and Friends Freely Jamming Without Ego at Capitol Theatre

April 11th, 2014

Phil Lesh and Friends – Capitol Theatre – April 10, 2014

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Phil Lesh treats his band’s lineups much like the jams those groups end up playing: There are (probably) themes, riffs and improvisations underlying some grand design. Of course, some work better than others and stick together longer, but in the end, most of them deliver. This week at the Capitol Theatre, Lesh seems to have once again found magic, this time with his current group of Friends, running the gamut from Jackie Greene’s soulful, smooth vocals and blues-rock guitar to Marco Benevento’s indie-pop groove jazz keyboards to John Kadlecik’s singing and guitar playing, which ooze the Grateful Dead ethos for which Lesh continues to be the standard bearer. Bill Evans, who drifted on- and offstage at a rate of about every other song, added a saxophone to the mix. In between, Lesh and drummer Joe Russo formed a two-man Rosetta Stone, deciphering, decoding and interpreting so that the musical conversation formed a coherent dialogue.

Last night, the band got off to a rollicking start with the crowd favorite “Truckin’.” There were notable solos galore, too many to catalog, although I will note that Benevento particularly shined on the keys, which, in Lesh’s band, often has trouble finding moments in such a heavy guitar-bass-drums environment. Throughout the night, there were subtle pairings of musicians, conscious couplings with, for example, Benevento bantering with Kadlecik or the two guitars playing off each other. But the best parts were when everyone melded into a single entity, freely jamming without ego. There were two such moments in the first set, first a gorgeous, atmospheric noodle coming out of a cover of former-Friend Ryan Adams’ “Let It Ride.” The second was a highlight improv in the middle of “Cassidy,” spontaneous composition without a net

Often the best Grateful Dead moments weren’t the songs, but rather the spaces in between them, with the jam dividing “China Cat Sunflower” and “I Know You Rider” a favorite historical example. On Thursday, Lesh took this to the extreme, placing not just a big jam in between those two songs, but the entire set. It was like looking at your fingernail beneath a microscope and discovering an altogether new universe. Along the way, the band hit on many themes and genres. There was the funk chunk of “Shakedown Street” led by Lesh’s elegant bass playing, with Greene eventually leading the band to an impromptu vamp on the Meters’ “Cissy Strut” and then a fantastic slide-guitar solo. There was the catchall rocker “New Speedway Boogie,” which contained its own multitudes, jams within jams, everyone getting their chance at the wheel. The high-paced “Caution” had Lesh and Russo banging out the theme while Greene did his best Pigpen imitation. The set ended in grand fashion, “Caution” leading into a charged version of the Dead’s take on “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” Kadlecik shining as he did all night, before the band moved into a wonderful “Terrapin Station,” Russo taking complete control of the Dead opus. Finally, the show closed with the predetermined sing-along “I Know You Rider,” like a wanderer returning from a journey around the world, none the worse for wear. —A. Stein

(Jackie Greene and Rich Robinson play Webster Hall on 6/15.)