Tag Archives: the Strokes


Cold Fronts and Made Violent Play Mercury Lounge Tonight

April 21st, 2015

Philly foursome Cold Fronts (above, doing “Hit Me” for Out of Town Films) make the kind of raw, infectious power pop that gets people dancing at their high-energy live shows. According to AllMusic, they have a “sound that melds the intricate guitar interplay of Television with the poppy, lo-fi aesthetic of Guided by Voices.” Cold Fronts’ second EP, Forever (stream it below), came out last year, and the band is currently winding down a tour with Made Violent. With the release of their catchy self-titled EP (stream it below), the Buffalo garage-rock trio (below, performing “Wasted Days”) has been compared to the Strokes. They, along with Cold Fronts, know how to get a crowd going, and you can catch them both tonight at the early show at Mercury Lounge.


Wardell Celebrate a New Release Tonight at Mercury Lounge

February 11th, 2015

Brother and sister Theo (a onetime House List writer) and Sasha Spielberg began making music as Wardell several years ago in Los Angeles. Influenced by the disparate likes of Led Zeppelin, Fiona Apple, the Strokes and Joni Mitchell, the bicoastal (he in New York City, she in L.A.) indie-folk duo put out their aptly named debut EP, Brother/Sister (stream it below), in 2013, with Sasha on vocals and Theo handling the instrumentation. Afterward, they really began to work on their sound while performing live, including a plum gig opening for Vampire Weekend and Haim at last year’s SXSW. Today, Wardell (above, doing “Funny Thing” and “Love/Idleness”) see the release of their debut full-length, the charmingly easygoing Love/Idleness (stream it below). And they celebrate its release tonight at Mercury Lounge. Bushwick dream-pop four-piece Arc Waves open the show.


After Time Away, Brody Dalle Returns with Her Debut Solo Album

July 21st, 2014

Before going it alone as a solo artist, raspy-voiced Brody Dalle first fronted the punk quartet the Distillers and then the alternative four-piece Spinnerette, earning the Australian singer-songwriter and guitarist comparisons to Courtney Love and PJ Harvey. Following the demise of those bands, Dalle took some time away from the spotlight as she married Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme and had two kids, but her interest in making music has never waned. Dalle (above, performing “Don’t Mess with Me” live for 102.1 the Edge) began working on her debut solo album in 2012 with some well-known names, like Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson, QOTSA bassist Michael Shuman, the Strokes guitarist Nick Valensi and Warpaint frontwoman Emily Kokal. And that LP, Diploid Love (stream it below), arrived this past spring to some considerable acclaim. The Guardian calls it “riotous and brazenly euphoric,” and NME proclaims, “Her musical time-out not only turned a glaring spotlight onto the massive, female-shaped gap in the contemporary punk landscape but also deprived us of a truly great, brutally badass talent for almost half a decade. Thank fuck, then, for Brody’s return and the unrepentant, defiant Diploid Love.” Winding down her U.S. tour in support of the album, Dalle plays The Bowery Ballroom tomorrow night. Boston trio Slothtrust opens the show.


New Wave Revivalists the Sounds Play Webster Hall on Thursday

April 8th, 2014

Back in 1998, classmates Maja Ivarsson (vocals), Félix Rodríguez (guitar), Johan Bengtsson (bass) and Fredrik Blond (drums) decided to form a band. Shortly thereafter, the four met Jesper Anderberg (keys and guitar) at a music festival, and the Sounds were officially born. Their debut album, the poppy, synthesizer-heavy Living in America (stream it below), arrived in 2002. The Swedish five-piece has remained busy ever since, touring the world—with such bands as Foo Fighters, the Strokes and Panic! at the Disco—appearing at festivals—like Warped Tour—and continuing to record new music. The Sounds (above, performing “Weekend” live for Rhapsody) put out their fifth full-length, Weekend (stream it below), last fall. AllMusic enthusiastically suggested that it’s a “combination of great songwriting and stylistic dance music cross-pollination that makes the Sounds’ Weekend speed by in a burst of inspired pop euphoria.” See them play Webster Hall on Thursday night. Blondfire and Ghost Beach open the show.


Some Kind of Wonderful

February 10th, 2014

San Fermin – The Bowery Ballroom – February 7, 2014

Choosing to begin their sold-out show at The Bowery Ballroom on Friday night with “Renaissance,” the emotive, slow-building piece that opens San Fermin’s self-titled debut album, was a sly move. As on the LP, the song was a lovely invitation, a restrained and appealing melody that entices you to listen more, yet only hints at the sonic range and variety that simmers beneath the chamber-pop surface. By the time the heavy horns and brash vocal harmonies kick in on the album’s following song, “Crueler Kind,” it feels like something of a wonderful surprise—a treat that also played to great effect during the show.

Among the eight musicians crowded onstage—two lead singers, a singer-violinist, a three-person horn section, a drummer and guitarist—Ellis Ludwig-Leone, the composer, songwriter and general mastermind of San Fermin, stood modestly behind a keyboard off to the side. He crafted each song on his own, eventually fleshing out his compositions with vocalists and additional musicians, an approach befitting his classical music background. The precision and craft of Ludwig-Leone’s songs are apparent throughout, particularly on songs like “Sonsick” and “Torero.” The band did his vision justice, performing with preciseness and skill, while lead vocalists Allen Tate and Rae Cassidy took care to treat their parts with meticulous attention and deliberate timing, bringing the appropriate emotion to lyrics brimming with detail and nostalgia.

The high level of musicianship and focus on display doesn’t mean it was a staid, serious affair: No, the band was clearly having fun, nearly reaching Arcade Fire levels of energy, most notably on their unpredictable and impressive reimagining of the Strokes’ “Heart in a Cage” and during the debut performance of the dark and appealing new tune, “Parasite.” By the time Ludwig-Leone announced the last song of the night, there was audible booing from the fired-up crowd. But with a band concept built on incorporating fresh sounds and ideas, it’s likely that San Fermin will be back soon, continuing to delight and surprise. —Alena Kastin


Har Mar Superstar Hosts Holiday Show Tonight

December 17th, 2013

More than a decade ago, Sean Tillmann decided to leave behind indie guitar rock for a more crowd-pleasing, sex-charged version of R&B. And performing, often shirtless, as the dynamic Har Mar Superstar, he found a newer, bigger audience. Since then, he’s moved from Minnesota to New York City and hit the road with bands like the Strokes, Father John Misty and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Har Mar Superstar (above, doing one of the year’s top singles, “Lady You Shot Me”) put out his most acclaimed album, Bye Bye 17 (stream it below), this past spring, and after performing across Europe, he returns home to host the Obnoxiously Non-Denominational Holiday Party tonight at The Bowery Ballroom. And since it is a fiesta, Har Mar has guests: Lizzo, Computer Magic, See Through and DJ Jenny Eliscu.


San Fermin and Snowmine Provided a Warm Escape from the Cold

December 13th, 2013

San Fermin/Snowmine – Music Hall of Williamsburg – December 12, 2013

San Fermin

Last night Music Hall of Williamsburg hosted a pair of Brooklyn bands performing some very applause-worthy music. First up, the gentlemen of Snowmine filled our ears with dreamy pysch pop and played lots of new music. They’re releasing a new album called Dialects early next year, and they performed a fair amount of the upcoming LP’s material. But the five-piece opened with a song they’d released in 2011, “Plans,” accompanied by beautiful projections of winter landscapes. Snowmine’s newest single, “Rome,” and excellent renditions of two longtime favorites of mine, “Saucer Eyes” and “Let Me In,” highlighted the set.

Nearly one year to the day after their first gig, San Fermin, a folk-pop band with a delightful team spirit, took the stage for the headlining set. Eight people strong, they function as a single unit onstage, showcasing one another’s talents to the utmost degree. Leader and keyboardist Ellis Ludwig-Leone quietly conducted the set as San Fermin whipped through their repertoire. “Renaissance,” their self-titled debut album’s opening track, kicked off the set, followed by “Crueler Kind.” Vocalist Rae Cassidy’s lilting voice is even better live than it is on the recording, which significantly riled up the audience. “Sonsick” followed and became a sing-along. San Fermin are a razzmatazz orchestra of sorts and an impressive spectacle to behold. They closed with “Daedelus (What We Have)” and played a single cover, “Heart in a Cage” by the Strokes, for their encore before exiting to uproarious applause. It was a pleasure to see a pair of local bands fill a venue to the brim with exceptionally enthusiastic fans. —Schuyler Rooth


Cultfever and the Hot Sardines Give the Merc Something Different

September 17th, 2013

Cultfever/the Hot Sardines – Mercury Lounge – September 16, 2013



Mercury Lounge is famous for hosting young, emerging acts that would go on to stardom: the Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the White Stripes all have a connection to the venerable venue dating back to their humble beginnings. Playing Mercury Lounge is a right of passage in the New York City indie scene. Bands like Cultfever have used this tried-and-true method of taking a step toward those legendary bands. The Brooklyn-based pop outfit has played Mercury Lounge several times to packed houses and adoring crowds. That’s because they’re an indie group on the rise. The Hot Sardines had never played Mercury Lounge before last night, perhaps because they’re a hot jazz band.

The Hot Sardines played first, and we were instantly lifted into a scene from Boardwalk Empire. Singer Elizabeth Bougerol’s airy vocals led each song, and when band members traded solos, Bougerol danced and coaxed more trumpet, more clarinet and even more tap dancing. Jaded head nodding from concertgoers turned into wild swing-dance leg kicks. And for the band’s grand finale, they summoned Joe Durniak and Tamara Jafar of Cultfever for a spirited New Orleans second line that snaked off the stage and through the crowd—not something you see every night on the Lower East Side.

Cultfever might be a more traditional Mercury Lounge band (i.e. no tap dancer), but a lesser group would have fallen flat paired with the Hot Sardines’ endearing quirkiness. Durniak and Jafar have created a wholly unique sound, blending elements of punk and grunge into their catchy synth pop. They burned through their set, as Jafar subdued the room with her sultry voice and Durniak powered the band with bluesy crunch. For “Collector,” Cultfever brought back the Sardines—solely to add more voices to the screaming chorus of band and crowd members shouting “Earthquakes!” at a key moment in the song. It was the perfect cap to an earth-shattering night. —Alex Kapelman


The Hush Sound and Hockey Lead a Great Bill at Webster Hall

May 10th, 2013

Greta Salpeter (vocals and keys) was interested in classical piano and Bob Morris (vocals and guitar) was into rock when they first met while still in school. They began jamming together, making acoustic music as a two-piece called the Hush Sound a few years later, but ultimately decided to go for a bigger sound, recruiting friends of Morris’s from the Chicago music scene, Chris Faller (bass and vocals) and Darren Wilson (drums and vocals). They’ve since hit the road with bands like Fall Out Boy, the All-American Rejects and Rooney, all the while recording three crowd-pleasing albums of melodic, piano-driven pop over the course of three years. And then just like that, the Hush Sound (above, doing “Medicine Man”) went on hiatus in 2009. Fortunately they couldn’t quite quit one another, reuniting last fall to tour once again.

Hockey, out of Portland, Ore., began as a five-piece before paring down to just three—Benjamin Grubin (vocals), Ryan Dolliver (keys) and Jeremy Reynolds (bass)—three years ago. But despite the band size decreasing, the sound of their mash-up of post-punk and dance punk, which has earned them comparisons to both the Strokes and LCD Soundsystem, remains as big as ever. They’ve just released their second LP, Wyeth Is (stream it below) digitally (the physical version arrives next month), and Hockey (above, playing “Too Fake” on Later … with Jools Holland) have hit the road. See them with the Hush Sound and River City Extension, Genevieve (of Company of Thieves) and Lucas Carpenter next Tuesday at Webster Hall.


A Little Bit Weird, a Little Bit Charming and Highly Entertaining

April 4th, 2013

Darwin Deez – The Bowery Ballroom – April 3, 2013

The lights dimmed, the crowd cheered and the speakers blasted Rich Boy’s “Throw Some D’s” as Darwin Deez, the energetic pop band fronted by the guitarist of the same name, took the Bowery Ballroom stage last night. I explained to my friend, a causal concertgoer, that it’s become a trend for indie bands to kick off the night with a hip-hop track before beginning their set. However, this NYC band surprised me—instead of immediately picking up their instruments, they launched into a goofy choreographed dance before striking their first chord. It was a fun way to begin the show, and they repeated the tactic throughout the night, pausing every few songs to line up center stage and display their dancing skills (or lack thereof).

During one break, Deez announced a special guest: “Ladies and gentlemen, Willow Smith!” For a moment, it seemed as if anything was possible and Smith might actually come out to whip her hair. But another tween with long, poofy hair emerged. Deez gave her a nod, and she twisted her head violently, imitating that infamous video. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been so surprised by the band’s delightful quirks, which came off as anything but a gimmick. Deez’s music is the aforementioned pop and goof all rolled into one distinct package, and I can’t imagine it any other way.

He’s built a loyal following by exploiting his looks (really, his locks) and his quirkiness, but even more so by displaying a keen ability to write a great pop song. And he and his band put on a great live show. The night flowed effortlessly as Deez played fan favorites like “Radar Detector” and “Constellations,” and the set hinted at some of the guitarist’s undoubtedly disparate influences, of which I can only venture a guess: the Strokes, Prince and some of that hip-hop he played. Is the band a little weird? Surely. But it’s charming and totally Darwin Deez. He’s created a sound, an aesthetic and a personality that’s all his own, in a highly entertaining way. —Alex Kapelman


Five Questions … with Har Mar Superstar

March 29th, 2013

More than a decade ago, Sean Tillmann decided to leave behind indie guitar rock for a more crowd-pleasing, sex-charged version of R&B. And performing, often shirtless, as the dynamic Har Mar Superstar, he found a newer, bigger audience. Since then, he’s moved from Minnesota to New York City and hit the road with bands like the Strokes, Father John Misty and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Har Mar Superstar (above, performing “EZ Pass”) has a new album, Bye Bye 17, out next month, and ahead of his show on Monday at The Bowery Ballroom with the Virgins, he exchanged e-mails with The House List while on a long drive through the Midwest where he revealed himself to be a fan of Deniece Williams“Let’s Hear It for the Boy” (“Footloose, bro”) and Philly rockers Free Energy, plus he answered Five Questions.

What’s the best part of playing New York City?
I love taking a taxi home from the show. It gives me whole new levels of partying possibilities. The show always benefits from that luxury.

Living in NYC, is there any special relevance to playing The Bowery Ballroom?
The Bowery Ballroom is one my favorite places to see shows. It’s a classic. It feels like homecoming playing there mid-tour. People are always impressed when you tell them you’re playing there.

Your fifth Har Mar album, Bye Bye 17, comes out next month. When you release new music is there some sense of relief that it’s done, or is it really just the beginning and you’re excited to play the new tunes live?
This is definitely just the beginning. I love playing live, and new songs make it so much more exciting. Bye Bye 17 is particularly exciting because the response has been huge and immediate. The songs make people pay attention.

After all these years on the road, what have you learned to make touring easier?
Touring with your friends makes everything easier. Stay at hotels with free breakfast.
Get stoned.

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?
Love songs are best when they’re sad. Real-life experience helps you channel the emotions. Next time someone tears your heart out, write a love song. It feels good. —R. Zizmor


Veronica Falls, Surfin’ USA

March 11th, 2013

Veronica Falls – The Bowery Ballroom – March 8, 2013

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

I should mention up front that no one in Veronica Falls is named Veronica, let’s just get that cleared up right now. But the English quartet has me questioning some of the basic fundamentals of rock geography: Bands out of London aren’t supposed to sound cheery. There’s not much surfing off the British Isles and thus their rock bands aren’t supposed to be “surfy” or “sunny.” In fact, music from across the pond is supposed to be the antithesis of these things, with the folk-rock British Invasion of the ’60s essentially putting the nail in the coffin for California surf rock. This is not to say that Veronica Falls’ sound is anything particularly unusual, it’s just odd to hear an English band that’s so damn good at the rock things we consider quintessentially American.

Touring behind the recently released Waiting for Something to Happen, an album so catchy it hurts, Veronica Falls came to The Bowery Ballroom on Friday night as part of a month of American tour dates. Walking the line between indie rock and charming pop (think the Strokes produced by Phil Spector—with a female lead), there were moments in every song that rewarded careful listening, little nuggets of guitar riffs that wormed their way into your brain to take up permanent residence.

Basic drumming patterns with a seldom used cymbal took a note from the Velvet Underground playbook, setting a simple rhythm for songs like “Tell Me” for shoegaze guitars to dance around. A variety of harmonies worked their way into most songs, soothingly blissful on “Teenage,” a call-and-response on “Found Love in a Graveyard” and even boy-meets-girl vocals on “My Heart Beats.” And spearheading it all was the lead-singing guitarist, the fantastically named Roxanne Clifford, who made it no secret that she was having a great time onstage. —Dan Rickershauser



Snowden Play the Late Show Tomorrow Night at Mercury Lounge

February 22nd, 2013

It began, quite literally, as a bedroom project for Jordan Jeffares. After recording demos in his Atlanta bedroom, he met other musicians who would help him breathe life into Snowden. They self-released a self-titled EP in 2005, and some of its songs then appeared on their debut LP, Anti-Anti, the following year. Their sound quickly earned them comparisons to moody NYC bands like Interpol and the Strokes—at one point the oft-traveled band was even based here—and tours with the likes of Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Snowden (above, doing “Anti-Anti” for Fearless Music) have stayed busy on the road and releasing live DVDs and EPs, and they’re finally putting out their second album, No One in Control, in May (stream one of its singles, “Keep Quiet” below). But first, they play Mercury Lounge tomorrow night.


The Vaccines Return to Play Terminal 5 Tomorrow

January 30th, 2013

Just about three years ago, frontman Justin Young, guitarist Freddie Cowan, bassist Árni Hjörvar Árnason and drummer Pete Robertson teamed up in London to form the Vaccines. The quartet quickly became a buzz band—and earned comparisons to the Strokes, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and the Ramones—in the UK, thanks in part to a demo of “If You Wanna” uploaded to YouTube. Sold-out shows soon followed, even before the band (above, playing “If You Wanna” on Later … with Jools Holland) released their debut LP, the acclaimed What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?, in 2011. Not resting on their laurels, the Vaccines put out their second album, the equally well-received The Vaccines Come of Age (stream it below), last summer. And now that they’ve just kicked off another North American tour, you can see the Vaccines tomorrow night at Terminal 5.


Paul Banks Stands Alone

December 17th, 2012

Paul Banks – Webster Hall – December 14, 2012

A decade ago, New York City’s music scene wasn’t as clearly stamped as it is today. The Strokes symbolized the brash, carefree youth culture that liked to rock out and party, and the avant-garde art-rock movement that now permeates Brooklyn was just beginning, but the identity was undefined and low profile. No one stepped up to make a bold statement. Then came Interpol. Their music had a tense rawness and magnitude that made you take notice, vividly representing the after-hours lifestyle that’s contributed to so much of the city’s lore. It was dark, seductive and a little bit dangerous. But most of all, it was grand.

Interpol projected a sophisticated image of slick urban bravado, lending a mystique to complement their captivating sound with lead singer Paul Banks perfectly cast as frontman: the storyteller, crafting the script to Interpol’s film noir and delivering it with a haunting and almost menacing vocal narrative. You often got the feeling he inhabited the places others would only peer into and then quickly move past. But recently, Banks has stood apart from Interpol as a solo act, and he put his second full-length album on display at Webster Hall on Friday night. Banks’s presence was such a distinctive element of Interpol that his solo material sounds like a branch of the same tree. Still, he has distinguished his new work with varied and expanded songwriting, while managing to hold on to the badass urgency that made his band so attractive.

Of course, the Interpol faithful that were lured into their world by Banks’s voice and textured guitar chords, were in attendance, but their calls for classic material were barely acknowledged, as he stood poised to assert himself as a standalone talent. The core fans weren’t entirely ignored, though, as new songs “Paid for That” and “No Mistakes” were delivered in true Interpol form, but solo-artist Banks has shed the aura a bit. As ever, his voice commanded the room, yet he seemed less guarded and a little warmer than the dark figure that’s loomed onstage in the past, proved by songs like “Young Again” and “The Base,” which were more intimate and revealing. So while many—like I—came looking for that signature visceral Interpol experience, they were pleasantly greeted by the frontman stepping out a little from behind the curtain of red light and expanding his range. —Charles Steinberg

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesolivierphoto.com