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Five Questions with Kamasi Washington

November 17th, 2017

Back in 2015, saxophonist extraordinaire Kamasi Washington (above, performing “Re Run” live in studio for KEXP FM) put out the aptly named triple album The Epic (stream it below) to universal acclaim—becoming one of the hottest jazz musicians on earth in the process. He’s since toured the world and then returned this past September with the impressive EP Harmony of Difference (stream it below). Now out on the road, crisscrossing America’s highways and byways, Washington, with pedal-steel virtuoso Robert Randolph as a special guest, plays Terminal 5 next Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving. (Local favorites—and feisty live performers—Break Science open the show.) Last weekend, Washington (below, doing “The Next Step” live for Paste Studios) rang up The House List from Cleveland to answer Five Questions.

As a touring musician do you notice if your music is received any differently in New York city than it is elsewhere? I feel like the response has been pretty universal for me, but I’ve always gotten a lot of love in New York, which is a huge honor because you see everything there. And it humbles me every time. New York has an energy that’s unlike any place in the world. There’s just so much going on that you get supercharged.

Once material is recorded, does it stay that way permanently? Or as you play songs live do they continue to stretch and grow? They stretch and grow and change every night, basically. The recording is the version I heard in my head. It’s the definitive version, but live we do it different every time.

As a jazz musician, you appear at nontraditional venues and you’ve played huge festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo. Was this part of your plan all along to cross over? Or has it just been a natural progression of where your music’s taken you? It’s where my music naturally wants to live. It’s definitely rooted in jazz. It’s my foundation. But there’s lots of other kinds of music in there. And it doesn’t really fit into one box very well. We definitely still play jazz clubs, but it’s natural to jump to different kinds of clubs and audiences—different experiences, sitting down in one place and standing in another. It’s options: Every day do something different.

You’ve appeared on albums by Kendrick Lamar, Run the Jewels and, back in the day, Ryan Adams. Is that something you’re still looking to do? And now that you’ve made such a name for yourself is there any chance you’d look for some of them to appear on your albums? Yeah, man. I’m always open to adding people to my music and I still love working with other artists. But I’m enjoying focusing on my own music and collaborating with my friends. I always leave it up to the music. The music dictates to me what to do with it. If it feels like it needs this or that, I’ll try to get it. But I never try to force it.

For someone who’s never seen you perform before, how would you describe a live Kamasi Washington show? It’s different every time. I try to connect to the room and the vibe, a journey we all go on together. I hope what it feels like is very inclusive. The music connects us and we all push the night in the same direction. And by the end we’re all together in one place. —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog

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American Football Return to NYC to Play Brooklyn Steel on Sunday

November 16th, 2017

Mike Kinsella (vocals, bass and guitar), Steve Lamos (drums and trumpet) and Steve Holmes (guitar) were just three college kids enjoying the summer when they formed the emo/math-rock band American Football outside of Chicago in 1997. A self-titled EP (stream it below) arrived in 1998, with an acclaimed eponymous full-length (stream it below), filled with uncommon time signatures and jazz-influenced chords, released the following year. But then that was pretty much it, with each member going off to do his own thing afterward. And that’s where this story would end if the influential American Football (above, performing “Born to Lose” live in studio for WNYC FM) hadn’t reunited—with the addition of Mike’s cousin Nate Kinsella (bass)—in 2014 to celebrate the 15th anniversary of their LP, which was rereleased with bonus tracks and demo recordings. According to Paste magazine, “The album serves as what indie rock should be about, synthesizing the musical world around us, not dividing and separating,” and per the A.V. Club: “American Football proved that a brief existence doesn’t preclude a band from casting a long shadow.” Things went so well that the band put out another crowd-pleasing full-length named—you guessed it—American Football (stream it below) last fall. “While the record is rooted in nostalgia, so much so the cover features the same iconic house as their debut, it also manages to feel fresh and tentatively exciting, something that’s a result of the band exploring new ideas or looking at old ones from different perspectives,” said Drowned in Sound in a rave review. “Time has only strengthened the chemistry of the band, distilling its essence in to something much purer than its base product. In a year of excellent records, American Football have quite possibly made the best.” See them live at Brooklyn Steel on Sunday night. Land of Talk and Pure Bathing Culture open the show.

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Experience John Carpenter’s Spooky Soundtracks Live at Terminal 5

November 15th, 2017

Halloween may have come and gone, but for those who wish they could experience just a few more spine-tingling moments before we succumb to the more cheerful holiday season, you’re in luck. Often referred to as the “Master of Horror,” director and composer John Carpenter will bring a live performance of his famously chilling film scores to Terminal 5 on Thursday. In conjunction with a new release that collects his film music on one album for the first time, Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998 (stream it below), Carpenter will perform his iconic synth-driven pieces from such classic films as Halloween, They Live, The Fog and Christine. There’s no better time to dust off those VHS tapes and take a moment to revisit Carpenter’s filmography (above, the Escape from New York main-title theme live in studio) in preparation for what promises to be a memorable (and spooky) night of music. —Alena Kastin | @AlenaK

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The Drums Play a Hometown Show at Brooklyn Steel on Wednesday

November 14th, 2017

What began nearly 10 years ago as a duo and blossomed into a quartet has more recently become a one-man band with Jonny Pierce doing all of the writing and producing on Abysmal Thoughts (stream it below), the fourth studio album from the Brooklyn band the Drums, out earlier this summer. “The new sounds heighten the bittersweet flavor, as Pierce opens up about feeling lonely, stupid, betrayed, empty, and at times, hopeful. If his life hasn’t exactly gotten easier, his music has never been better,” said the A.V. Club. And Paste magazine was equally impressed: “Don’t let the title fool you. Abysmal Thoughts is a fun, lovely record, radiating sunshine in every melody and shadows in the lyrics. It’s whole and complex and captivating, a treasure chest of an album in which you’ll find something different and unique hiding within each listen.” Catch the Drums (above, doing “Days” live in concert for KEXP FM) when they return home on Wednesday at Brooklyn Steel. Australian four-piece Methyl Ethel open the show.

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Two Nights of Silversun Pickups in New York City This Week

November 14th, 2017

Brian Aubert (vocals and guitar), Chris Guanlao (drums), Joe Lester (keys and samples) and Nikki Monninger (bass and vocals) knew one another from playing in various bands before forming Silversun Pickups 15 years ago in Los Angeles. Their atmospheric sound, layered melodies and spellbinding dreamy pop immediately drew comparisons to My Bloody Valentine and the Smashing Pumpkins with the release of their 2005 debut EP, Pikul (stream it below), and 2006 debut LP, Carnavas (stream it below), “the sort of record that brings something new to discover with each listen,” according to AllMusic. “Thus, listen one is as enjoyable as listen five or 10, but probably for entirely different reasons, since unique bits continuously appear from the band’s dream haze of accessibly textured indie rock.” Their fourth studio album, the synths-filled Better Nature (stream it below), came out in 2015. Despite referring to it as a “transitional record,” Sputnik Music called the long-player “a gorgeous if slightly safe album that proves this band hasn’t lost their edge when it comes to making captivating music.” And live, Silversun Pickups (above, performing “Panic Switch”) are just as exceptional as ever. Catch them on Wednesday at Terminal 5 and on Friday at Brooklyn Steel. Seattle’s Minus the Bear open both shows.



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Alex Clare Brings New Material to Music Hall of Williamsburg

November 13th, 2017

English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alex Clare’s Tail of Lions (stream it below) just came out recently in the U.S., striking “an enjoyable balance on his third full-length,” according to AllMusic, “with a further evolution of a sound that shines the spotlight on his voice.” The title, Clare (above, performing “Basic”)—who moved with his family from London to Jerusalem two years ago—tells the Independent, refers to an ancient Jewish Proverb: “‘It is better to be a tail to a lion than a head to a fox’ means that it is better to follow someone who is truly great, than to lead something negative and crooked.” Per the Line of Best Fit, “Deeply rooted in religious literature, [the album’s] other influences range from mental illness to the current political climate, making it an engaging listen from one of Britain’s most distinctive male vocalists.” Clare’s current North American tour touches down in Brooklyn on Tuesday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Singer-songwriter Bobby Bazini and Brooklyn five-piece Elijah open the show.

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Julia Jacklin Launches New Tour Monday at Rough Trade NYC

November 10th, 2017

Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin (above, performing “Don’t Let the Kids Win” in studio for Triple J) has been compared to Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten, thanks to what AllMusic calls her “seamless meld of dreamy indie folk-pop and confessional alt-country.” Jacklin’s debut full-length, Don’t Let the Kids Win (stream it below), dropped last fall, pleasing critics and fans alike. Consequence of Sound said it “works like a musical punch to the gut, a tearjerker that makes even the most public of spaces ready sobbing spots. Each of the album’s 11 songs sounds effortlessly polished, her voice seasoned with the emotion of an entire lifetime.” The Guardian added: “Don’t Let the Kids Win feels very much like one of those albums that will slowly creep into the affections of a large number of people; it’s that lovely.” Having recently released two new singles, Julia Jacklin kicks off a quick North American tour on Monday at Rough Trade NYC. Atlanta folk singer-songwriter Faye Webster and Brooklyn singer-songwriter Aerial East open the show.

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Slowdive Are Back with Their First New Album in Twenty-Two Years

November 10th, 2017

Shoegaze pioneers Slowdive—now Rachel Goswell (vocals, guitar and keys), Neil Halstead (vocals, guitar and keys), Nick Chaplin (bass), Christian Savill (guitar) and Simon Scott (drums)—formed in Reading, in South East England, back in ’89. They’d go on to employ what AllMusic calls “atmospheric harmonies, rippling processed guitars and an ambient production sensibility” in releasing three beloved albums, Just for a Day (stream it below), Souvlaki (stream it below) and Pygmalion (stream it below), between 1991 and 1995. But afterward, with Britpop on the rise, Slowdive (above, performing “No Longer Making Time” live in studio for KCRW FM) took a break with members engaging in an assortment of musical endeavors. But a few years ago, a rumbling began: a world tour in 2014 followed by working on new material in 2016. And this May, the band put out a self-titled LP (stream it below) on Dead Oceans. “It’s strange to call Slowdive a comeback album, because it seems so sure of itself. Instead, it feels like a completely logical next step in their discography,” according to Consequence of Sound. “The record fits snugly inside the band’s canon, so much so that it makes the 22 years since Pygmalion all the more difficult to believe.” And per PopMatters, “Beneath all the stylish and escapist waves of sound and texture, there is a profoundly human core waiting to be sought out and unearthed.” Make your weekend last a little longer when Slowdive return to New York City to play Terminal 5 on Sunday night. L.A. noise-pop outfit Cherry Glazerr open the show.




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Make It a Funky Saturday Night with Turkuaz at Brooklyn Steel

November 9th, 2017

Dave Brandwein (vocals and guitar) and Taylor Shell (bass) formed the nine-piece funk orchestra Turkuaz—rounded out by Craig Brodhead (guitar and synths), Chris Brouwers (trumpet and keys), Greg Sanderson (sax), Joshua Schwartz (sax and vocals), Michelangelo Carubba (drums), Sammi Garett (tambourine and vocals) and Shira Elias (vocals)—in 2008. Mixing Funk, R&B and Motown with world-music flourishes, Turkuaz (above, performing “Chatte Lunatique” at this year’s Mountain Jam) take cues from bands like Parliament, Sly and the Family Stone and Talking Heads. Their most recent album, Digitonium (stream it below), which came out in 2015, “showcases the band’s deep playbook and versatility within the genre, dialing back the clock for a classic-sounding funk record,” according to Live for Live Music. It’s filled with the psychedelic funk and brassy soul that’s become one of the funk army’s calling cards. Another is their high-octane stage performances. See Turkuaz live when their fall tour brings them home to play Brooklyn Steel on Saturday night. Houston eight-piece the Suffers open the show with a dose of Gulf Coast soul. And then as an added bonus, Turkuaz return in two weeks with Tauksgiving at The Bowery Ballroom on 11/24.

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Two Nights of the Shadowboxers in New York City This Weekend

November 9th, 2017

Layering pitch-perfect three-part harmonies over soulful pop, funky folk and stadium rock channeled through an R&B lens, the Shadowboxers—original members Adam Hoffman (vocals and guitar), Matt Lipkins (vocals and keys) and Scott Tyler (vocals and guitar) with Cole McSween (drums) and Carlos Enamorado (bass)—have been winning over fans with their fun-loving, captivating live performances since forming in college seven years ago in Atlanta. But first they won over Indigo GirlsEmily Saliers, who’d caught one of their shows at Emory University, which led to the Shadowboxers (above, playing “Build the Beat” for WRLT FM) touring and performing with Indigo Girls. Now based in Nashville, Tenn., the group’s Kickstarter-funded Red Room arrived in 2013. To thank donors, the band recorded several cover songs and posted them to their YouTube channel. Their version of “Pusher Love Girl” so impressed Justin Timberlake that he’s since taken them under his wing and signed them to Villa 40, his artist-development company. Following the release of several singles, including “Hot Damn,” and with a new album on the horizon, the Shadowboxers, who have been compared to the Temptations and Maroon 5, have hit the road. Their November tour brings them to Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday (with Blonde Maze opening) and The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday (with the Rooks opening).

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Blitzen Trapper Return to Play Music Hall of Williamsburg Thursday

November 8th, 2017

And so we find ourselves in November, halfway between the cold canned beers of summer and the sweater-and-overcoat chill of winter, a perfect time to listen to Blitzen Trapper. The Portland, Ore., band’s music fits right into this seasonal space with thoughtful storytelling and a progressive country-folk-funk sound. Right on cue, they have just released their ninth studio album, Wild and Reckless (stream it below), and will be headlining Music Hall of Williamsburg on Thursday night (with Nashville, Tenn., singer-songwriter Lilly Hiatt opening). After some dabbles with a more experimental sound, Blitzen Trapper (above, performing “No Man’s Land” for KINK FM) are in a mature and confident space on the new record, concentrating on the songs themselves. The material will only bolster their already formidable live repertoire that, along with its subtleties and idiosyncrasies, totally rocks in concert, in November or any other time of year. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

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See Diane Coffee Play Rough Trade NYC on Wednesday Night

November 7th, 2017

Shaun Fleming grew up in Los Angeles working on a variety of movies, TV shows and video games as a voice actor. Eventually he became Foxygen’s touring drummer, before Fleming launched his own solo musical project, Diane Coffee, upon relocating to New York City five years ago, when a vicious flu strain kept him homebound for several weeks in his new apartment. Drawing on what AllMusic calls “the same enormous canon of ’60s folk-pop, doo wop and bubblegum influences that inspired Foxygen and other like-minded contemporaries,” Fleming wrote and recorded the first Diane Coffee album, My Friend Fish (stream it below), which came out in 2013. “Packed with peace, love and jangly guitars, Diane Coffee’s debut LP, My Friend Fish, is an irresistible ode to ’60s psychedelia. After only a few listens, it’s hard not to slip into dreams of floral-crown-wearing hippies and cozy Haight-Ashbury cafés,” according to Paste magazine. “Lucky for us, his miserable experience created a 10-track collection filled with organs that hark to both a traditional gospel concert and a jubilant acid trip.” A second full-length, Everybody’s a Good Dog (stream it below), arrived in 2015. “Working with a large group of collaborators, including his Foxygen bandmates, and a larger palette of instruments that includes horns and strings, Fleming takes the intimate, loosely warped pop of My Friend Fish and blows it up into an expansive rainbow that includes elements of Motown, dub reggae, classic ’60s bubblepop, ’70s glam rock and psychedelic R&B,” per AllMusic. “An album this crazy and good deserves nothing but praise and adulation.” Fleming recently released a two-song 7″ called Peel and has hit the road. Catch Diane Coffee (above, doing “Mayflower” for KEXP FM) tomorrow at Rough Trade NYC. Vancouver, B.C., four-piece Peach Pit open the show.

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The Used Bring Terrific New Album to Terminal 5 on Wednesday Night

November 6th, 2017

Hailing from Orem, Utah, the Used have been doing a unique, noisy take on post-punk (think: the Venn diagram overlap of emo, post-hardcore, heavy metal and screamo) since forming in 2001. The band—original members Bert McCracken (vocals and piano) and Jeph Howard (bass and vocals) with Dan Whitesides (drums and vocals) and Justin Shekoski (guitar and vocals)—has been busy ever since, relentlessly touring while still finding time to put out a host of singles alongside five EPs, two live albums and seven full-lengths, including the more mature, 17-track The Canyon (stream it below), released just before Halloween to much praise. While writing the album, one of McCracken’s good friends took his own life, which looms large over the LP. “There’s a huge amount of sadness and death within The Canyon, but the music brims with life,” says Drowned in Sound. “Once content to artlessly bludgeon their way through existence, the Used now stand proud as a complex, insightful collective that demands to be heard. With no warning whatsoever, this is an incredibly thoughtful, articulate modern rock record that stands toe-to-toe with anything released this year.” And AllMusic agreed: “Drawing dichotomous inspiration from happy childhood memories and the devastation following a friend’s suicide, the Used explore mortality and the big picture on The Canyon, their seventh and most ambitious effort to date…. For a band that has evolved from screamo to such thoughtful artistry, The Canyon is a stunning offering.” Making their way down the East Coast, the Used (above, doing “The Bird and the Worm”) play Terminal 5 on Wednesday night. Long Island progressive-hardcore outfit Glassjaw open the show.

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Lee Ann Womack Plays Intimate Show Tuesday at Rough Trade NYC

November 6th, 2017

After penning work for others as a professional songwriter, Lee Ann Womack burst onto the country scene with the release of her self-titled debut (stream it below) in 1997. She became a crossover sensation with the arrival of I Hope You Dance (stream it below) in 2000, knocking ’NSync off the charts in the process, before embracing traditional Americana, which makes up the majority of her newest studio album, produced by her husband, Frank Liddell, The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone (stream it below), which came out two weeks ago. “Womack is in terrific voice throughout, the songs—including her co-writes—are top notch and with Liddell’s sympathetic backing and production, it’s hard to imagine how anything could be improved. It’s a late-breaking short list nominee for 2017’s album of the year,” raves American Songwriter. “She may have danced with the devil in Nashville to become a big success, but now she’s asking for salvation by getting back to her roots in Texas. Why the hell not, as the former Lone Star gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman used to ask. She really doesn’t have anything to be forgiven for, and her new album redeems her from the curse of being overly popular by being so damn good,” adds PopMatters. In support of her new material, Womack (above, performing “All the Trouble”) puts on a very intimate perfromance tomorrow night at Rough Trade NYC. Local country singer-songwriter Zephaniah OHora opens the show.

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Two Nights of RL Grime This Weekend at Terminal 5

November 3rd, 2017

He’s only 26, but producer (and member of the electronic-music collective WeDidIt) Henry Steinway has been forging a name for himself for several years now. First as Clockwork, crafting bouncy electronic house music and playing big stages, from Holy Ship! to Ultra. But since 2012, he’s been making a name for himself with big-time trap anthems as RL Grime, walking the gritty line between hip-hop and electronic beats on a host of singles, remixes—for the likes of Kanye West, Rihanna and Drake—and EPs before finally releasing his first studio LP, Void (stream it below), in 2014. Renowned for Sound called it “a pretty damn impressive debut from someone so enviably young. Just as adept on his own as he is in collaboration mode, RL Grime’s first full-length album is a comprehensive introduction to the myriad of different tastes, technologies and talents in his possession and will undoubtedly continue to see his star deservedly rise.” He’s steadily been releasing singles (one of them, “Stay for It,” featuring Miguel, above) for his much-anticipated second LP, Nova, and now in the middle of his fall tour, energetic performer RL Grime lands at Terminal 5 this weekend for a pair of shows, on Saturday and Sunday. DJ-producers Graves and Kittens open both nights.