Tag Archives: Sub Pop


Jesca Hoop Proves to Be a True Original at Mercury Lounge

March 9th, 2017

Jesca Hoop – Mercury Lounge – March 8, 2017

Jesca Hoop was once a nanny to Tom Waits’ kids, and she’s worked with everyone from Blake Mills and Stewart Copeland to Sam Beam, with whom the singer-songwriter released a gorgeous duets album in 2016 and subsequently toured. Hoop has signed to Sub Pop, and she’s a touch mystical—a vocalist and soothsayer from some faraway, possibly not terrestrial place—but she can tell a bar joke with the best of ’em. She’s accessible and impenetrable at the same time. An artist like that, you’d think, would be someone more written about than listened to, but listening to Hoop’s music is only the beginning of the larger embrace. Live, she’s quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) devastating. She formed a deep and detailed bond with an audience over the course of a 75-minute set at Mercury Lounge last night, framed by the recently released Memories Are Now, a collection of new Hoop songs that reveal more with each subsequent listen.

What do we call this? Hoop arrived as part of a four-piece band that included drums, bass, harmony vocals and other effects. Her music could sound trance-folkie, as in the opening one-two of “Songs of Old” and “Animal Kingdom Chaotic.” It could sound bittersweet and kind of country, as in “Peacemaker.” It could creep up and then, well, overcome you, as in “The Coming,” which thanks to some spectral-sounding guitar in its intro sounded distant and then was upon you. It’s cinematic—panoramic even—as Hoop created little worlds out of lyrics. “I refuse to think that my best friend’s going to hell anymore” is what might be called a classic Jesca Hoop line. So is “And now you gotta get it with what you’ve got/ With what you’ve been given or not” (from the late-in-set standout “Born To”). And so is “You say it’s impossible/ But your dumb computer says no.”

Hoop’s an artist in whom you can hear what you want to in her forbearers and potential influences. The mind drifts to Laurie Anderson, Kate Bush, Björk and plenty of others. When the mind settles, however—and you can really pause to hear and absorb the nuances when in the thrall of Hoop and band in the live setting—you feel like you’re hearing a true original. No one else quite sounds like this, and you’re thirsting for more when an unhurried set still goes by like a finger snap. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson


Kyle Craft Brings Acclaimed Music to Mercury Lounge Tomorrow

August 10th, 2016

As far as musical descriptions go, you could do a lot worse than AllMusic’s take on Kyle Craft, “a Louisiana-bred singer-songwriter with a robust, full-throated wail and knack for pairing Stones-ian hooks and Dylan-esque wordplay with glam-kissed pop swagger.” Now based in Portland, Ore., Craft (above, doing “Penetcost” for KEXP FM) put out his debut solo album, Dolls of Highland (stream it below), on Sub Pop this past spring to a considerable amount of praise. Pitchfork opined that the LP “melds the voodoo-infused mythology of the South with rambunctious glam rock, and Kyle Craft summons you into its world like a carnival barker wooing customers in a funhouse.” And not to be outdone, Spin added that in his past life, he “was either a glam-rock idol or frontman for a power-metal trio. His sound is swampy ’70s boogie that splits the difference between Dr. John and David Bowie.” Find out for yourself why he’s getting so much praise when Kyle Craft plays Mercury Lounge tomorrow night. NYC’s Mass Gothic open the show.


Metz Get Deservedly Loud at Music Hall of Williamsburg

January 15th, 2016

Metz – Music Hall of Williamsburg – January 14, 2016

Metz - Music Hall of Williamsburg - January 14, 2016

(Photo: Dan Rickershauser)

Music Hall of Williamsburg has some punk-rock history, both as its own incarnation and as the DIY rock venue before it, Northsix. The certain alchemy of a noisy rock show can act as a séance for these punk-rock spirits of yesteryear, transforming an otherwise mellow New York City crowd into fans gone berserk. I’ve seen this happen in the exact location only once before, at a Leftover Crack show on New Year’s Day. But the loud-rock trifecta booking of Big Ups, Bully and Metz brought out these spirits to roost yet again. You know for sure it’s happened when the venue lights flick on at the end of a show and everyone looks instantly hung over, like every last drop of energy has been exorcised from their souls, at least for the night.

Music Hall was packed from the beginning for opening band Big Ups, a hometown group specializing in rock reminiscent of early ’90s band Slint. They showcase sound that’s as equally unsettling at a slow simmer as it is when it boils over unexpectedly, complete with angular riffs that’ll poke you the second you start to drift off. Their closing song was about wearing a turtleneck on school picture day, feeling anxious about it being around your neck and throwing up. Punk rock! Nashville’s Bully—following an impressive 2015 with the release of their debut album, Feels Like, landing on many critics’ best-of-the-year lists—were next, led by the formidable Alicia Bognanno, who has one of the most impressive, dynamic scream-sing hybrid voices out there right now, with an ability to stretch from one end of that spectrum to the other that’s as impressive as combining the two when her songwriting calls for that expression of urgency. A crowded venue for a band that’s not even headlining usually signals that much greater things are to come from them, something I’d place bets on in the years ahead.

Somehow enough energy remained for things to get exceedingly crazy for Metz, so much so that they had to make sure no one in the crowd was getting hurt a few times (no one was, but some cell phone lights were turned on to look for some guy’s glasses at one point). Let’s blame their relentless set, one that never really bothered lowering the energy. Frontman Alex Edkins introduced one song saying, “We’re going to slow things down a bit,” and I recall laughing at what was being considered slower. To call Metz a punk band is almost disingenuous. In many ways they’re fighting punk-rock orthodoxies. They play fast and loud not to gloss over mistakes but to highlight their precision. The three take pride in their tightness, a badge they can wear with pride. Metz are a live band first, if only because the sound they slay is one you have to see to believe. Take drummer Hayden Menzies as an example, who whips his entire body’s force into his drums to get the right sound. Consider them one of the loudest bands in the world right now, not just because they play at high volume, but also because they deserve to do so. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks


Double Your Pleaseure with Metz Tonight and Tomorrow

January 13th, 2016

Alex Edkins (vocals and guitar), Chris Slorach (bass) and Hayden Menzies (drums) formed the fuzz-laden noise-rock punk trio Metz eight years ago in Toronto. Their self-titled debut album (stream it below) arrived on Sub Pop in 2012. Sure, it was loud, but the A.V. Club proclaimed, “For all it’s abrasion and denatured noise, Metz isn’t a statement of nihilism or finality; it’s a bright, exploratory scalpel making the first of hopefully many incisions.” Fortunately, Metz (above, performing “Acetate” on KEXP FM) have indeed made another incision. Their follow-up LP, the aptly named II (stream it below), came out last spring and has a clearer sound. Per Drowned in Sound, “There’s more space, and a better sense of dynamics as well. It’s a subtle change (if anything about Metz can be said to be subtle) but there’s a greater feel of depth here, the songs have more interesting journeys….” And furthermore: “Beautifully brutal weirdo punk.” Find out just how weird it gets for yourself when Metz’s newly launched tour brings the three-piece to The Bowery Ballroom tonight and Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow.


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.


Sub Pop Showcase – Mercury Lounge – October 20, 2011

October 21st, 2011

J. Mascis

Photos courtesy of Ahron R. Foster | www.ahronfoster.com