Tag Archives: Tom Waits

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Jesca Hoop Proves to Be a True Original at Mercury Lounge

March 9th, 2017

Jesca Hoop – Mercury Lounge – March 8, 2017

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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

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Marc Ribot Celebrates New Album Tomorrow at The Bowery Ballroom

July 27th, 2016

From rock to free jazz to fusion to soundtracks to avant-garde to Cuban music, eclectic, genre-hopping guitarist Marc Ribot has been a vital cog in New York City’s downtown music scene for decades—performing and recording with the likes of Wilson Pickett, Elvis Costello, Elton John, the Black Keys and Tom Waits just to name a few (it’s a really long list) along the way. And even when recording his own albums, Ribot doesn’t go it alone. He performs “the mind-blowing harmolodic punk-funk of Ornette Coleman’s first Prime Time band and the sweet, optimistic pulse of 1970s Philly Soul” alongside Jamaaladeen Tacuma (bass), G. Calvin Weston (drums) and Mary Halvorson (guitar) as the Young Philadelphians. Their newest album, The Young Philadelphians Live in Tokyo, comes out on Friday, and Marc Ribot & the Young Philadelphians celebrate its release tomorrow night at The Bowery Ballroom. A pair of Brooklyn musicians—singer-songwriter Inyang Bassey and soul-and-funk man (and Dap-King) Binky Griptite—open the show.

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Sarah Jarosz Is Sure of Her Talents at The Bowery Ballroom

June 28th, 2016

Sarah Jarosz – The Bowery Ballroom – June 27, 2016

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Sarah Jarosz’s superb new album is called Undercurrent, which, perhaps, you already knew because of all the critical praise it’s received. The LP is a gorgeous document—something you yield to, swooning over her deeply affecting soprano—and simply great in how its songs come across complete, but not overadorned. More pronounced, less intimate arrangements would be needed if the songs couldn’t stand on their own, but whoa, can they: Jarosz, at 25, sounds more knowing, worldly and pragmatic than many accomplished folk singers twice her age. Brilliantly, she can also transfer this honest, lived-in vibe to the stage, and did during a nourishing show at The Bowery Ballroom last night.

Undercurrent material figured heavily in a set that unspooled, song by song—visits with an excited but weary mind, narrating stories like “Lost Dog,” “Take Another Turn” (with the line “What does it mean to be lonely?”), “Everything to Hide” and the gently swampy “Back of My Mind.” It’s accurate to call these songs and older Jarosz gems, like “Build Me Up from Bones,” country-rubbed folk, with just enough blues and New York City noir in there to keep them from sounding old-timey. Here, too, were they unadorned—guitars and bass, mostly, in a trio format, and dressed up only by Jarosz’s own voice. As a performer, she seems self-aware, sure of her talents and sure of not wanting to gild the lily.

Well, OK, even Jarosz can’t argue with a bit of lily-gilding: Late in the show, she summoned her I’m with Her bandmates, Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan, and for a few minutes, we were transported back to an equally magical show from December 2015, at this same venue, with that same trio of dazzlingly talented female folkies, each wanting to share the stage, each performer’s individual charisma making that seem impossible to do, until they expertly balanced one another. Their delivery of Tom Waits’ “Come On Up to the House”—one of Jarosz’s best covers—at first felt like a visit from an entirely different concert, and then felt of a piece with the rest of the set, another visit that you come away from learning more than what you’ve brought to it. We’ll be hearing more from Jarosz, from I’m with Her, from every interesting possibility these combinations of musicians seem to yield. And possibly soon: Sara Watkins is at Rough Trade NYC tonight. Just saying. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson

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Double Down with Man Man Tonight and Tomorrow

October 21st, 2013

Experimental Philly rockers Man Man have been making piano-centric music surrounded by a crazy amount of instruments since 2003—earning comparisons to Tom Waits and Frank Zappa in the process. Their debut full-length, The Man in a Blue Turban with a Face, arrived a year later to a fair amount of acclaim. (Even Pitchfork liked it!) The five-piece’s most recent release, last month’s On Oni Pond (stream it below), places more of an emphasis on hooks than their past work. The A.V. Club says, “the record is an enthusiastic belly flop into accessibility, a frolic in melodies, rhythms and genres that aims for broader appeal while still indulging in the off-kilter inclinations that makes the group’s music so delightfully unpredictable.” Find out just how unpredictable when Man Man (above, performing “Haute Tropique” live in studio for WFUV FM) play Music Hall of Williamsburg tonight and The Bowery Ballroom tomorrow.

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Paul Weller Comes to Town: Three Nights with the Modfather

July 25th, 2013

As one of the leading figures of the Mod revival, Paul Weller has been influencing English music for decades, first as frontman of the Jam, one of the most popular of the late-’70s/ early-’80s British punk and New Wave bands, and then as the leader of the R&B- and soul-tinged Style Council. Weller went solo back in 1992 with the release of an acclaimed self-titled LP. And the Modfather has remained active, touring and recording music, ever since. His most recent release, his 11th solo album, Sonik Kicks (stream it below), which the BBC says, “fizzes and spits from its first track,” came out last year. And the ever-busy Englishman (above, performing “Dragonfly” at this year’s Isle of Wight Festival for Festivo TV) has crossed the pond to play three New York City shows, tonight at the world famous Apollo Theater, tomorrow at Webster Hall and on Saturday at Music Hall of Williamsburg, which is sold out. We suggest you spend some time with him. (Singer-songwriter Matthew Ryan—who’s been glowingly compared to Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, and Leonard Cohen—opens each show.)