Tag Archives: Black Keys


Courtesy Tier Put On a Commanding Show at Rough Trade NYC

August 17th, 2017

Courtesy Tier – Rough Trade NYC – August 16, 2017

(Photo: Daniel Cavazos)

How best to describe Brooklyn trio Courtesy Tier? Blues-adelic is probably a good place to start: These guys work up a woozy, potent racket that can veer Hendrix-ian or Zeppelin-esque and get plenty gnarly—but always in service of sturdy melodies. That they’ve been compared to bands like Meat Puppets, Morphine and Chris Whitley in his Rocket House era isn’t so much that they resemble any of them as much as they similarly put a bit of mess into familiar sounds, making them an acquired taste that, once acquired, feels eminently immediate, alive and embraceable.

Courtesy Tier have been kind of a shape-shifter, growing into what they’re supposed to be. Guitarist-ead vocalist Omer Leibovitz and drummer Layton Weedeman have been the guts of the band for about eight years, and in that time they’ve expanded to as many as six players and collapsed back down to a duo on more than one occasion. The lineup’s seemed to be fluid, but last year, Courtesy Tier settled into their current identity as a three-piece, with bassist Alex Picca aboard as a permanent third member. Out of that chrysalis came their first full-length album, the superb Everyone’s OK, much of which was the focus of their headlining spot last night at Rough Trade NYC.

Courtesy Tier played a commanding show, this night deftly organized around standouts like “Childish Blues,” with its slovenly, ’70s-blues-rock-meets-Nirvana vibe, “Cold,” more of a roiling rock and roller that builds to a shattering metallic guitar climax, and “When You Were Young,” an eased-into but still spiky groove more reminiscent of the pre-pop Black Keys. Courtesy Tier had new songs too, including a cover of Can’s “Vitamin C,” which wrapped a stabbing refrain of “You’re losing/ You’re losing/ You’re losing/ You’re losing/ Your vitamin C” in scuffed pop. It was another reminder that, at the intersection of guitar-heavy power-trio blues and a number of other potential jumping off points, they’re really on to something, without being too fussy about what to call it. It’s Brooklyn-y, in a good way, and perfect for these jittery times. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson




The Growlers’ Spring Tour Comes Through Terminal on Saturday

May 18th, 2017

Shake me up, shake me down: Try to define the Growlers’ sound and multiple genres will come to mind, which is exactly what makes them so special. Their sonic melting pot ranges from psychedelic rock to indie pop and from surf rock to beach Goth, all while Brooks Nielsen’s distinctive raspy voice croons about love, life and everyday hardships. Over the course of more than a decade, the Dana Point, Calif., band has released numerous well-received singles, EPs and albums, including last year’s City Club (stream it below), which AllMusic dubbed their “most immediate and accessible collection of songs to date.” Plus, they’ve toured with renowned acts like the Black Keys, Julian Casablancas and Devendra Banhart. The Growlers (above, doing “I’ll Be Around” live in studio for KEXP FM) have gone through a transformation with City Club—produced by Casablancas and Shawn Everett (best known for working with Alabama Shakes and Weezer)—making their sound more concise, with upbeat tempos and perhaps a dose of New York City attitude added to their sunny, laid-back California vibes. Now in fine mid-tour form, the Growlers play Terminal 5 on Saturday night. —Karen Silva | @ClassicKaren


Nikki Lane Brings New Music to Music Hall of Williamsburg

February 28th, 2017

When it comes to talented singer-songwriter Nikki Lane, AllMusic says it best: “Nikki Lane reinvents the nostalgic sounds of 1960s country music for a modern audience, mixing Southern twang with lush orchestral arrangements and the occasional pop/rock hook.” She dropped out of high school in South Carolina before hightailing it to Los Angeles to work as a fashion designer. Later, she moved to New York City where she began making acoustic country songs following a bad breakup, before ultimately settling in Nashville, where her career would eventually take off. Her first full-length, Walk of Shame (stream it below), came out in 2011, earning her comparisons to Wanda Jackson and Neko Case. All or Nothin’ (stream it below), produced by the Black KeysDan Auerbach, followed in 2014. “If Lana Del Rey had pores, bodily fluids or even the rare hair out of place, she might be Nikki Lane, the East Nashville firebrand who understands sangfroid is a lot more explosive when you roughen up the edges and throw down a gauntlet,” raved Paste. Lane (above, performing “Jackpot” live in studio for WRLT FM) returned with her third full-length, Highway Queen (stream it below), just a couple of weeks ago. “Three albums into her career, Lane remains true to her vision of classic country by way of alt-rock—a pigeonhole she seems happy to inhabit,” according to Exclaim. “This is her best album yet.” Find out how it sounds live when Nikki Lane plays Music Hall of Williamsburg on Thursday night. A pair of singer-songwriters, Brent Cobb and Jonathan Tyler, open the show.


The Pack A.D. Play the Late Show at Mercury Lounge on Thursday

October 25th, 2016

Singer-guitarist Becky Black and drummer Maya Miller have been making punkish, bluesy garage rock since forming the Pack A.D. a decade ago in Vancouver, B.C. Thanks to their energetic live performances—and for the fact that they make a lot more joyful noise than you’d expect just two people can—they’ve been compared to the White Stripes and the Black Keys. Touring and recording have kept the Pack A.D. (above, doing “Yes, I Know” for CFNY FM, 102.1 the Edge) very busy over the past 10 years. And to that end, their sixth studio album, Positive Thinking, comes out in the U.S. next month. “Blasts of powerful guitar and rhythm that sounds like two, sometimes three percussionists carry along their tradition of satisfying grunge here, but the songs feel more cathartic than celebratory, the crashing cymbals and flurry of toms reflecting the honest, raucous lyrics,” per Exclaim. “In face of adversity and/or uncertainty, the best choice is to fight on. Why not do it with a contagious rock riff and Black’s versatile voice?” They’re getting ready to head to Germany this weekend, but you can catch the Pack A.D. live on Thursday at Mercury Lounge. Hollerado and Thick open the show.


Night Beats Bring Psychedelic Rock to Rough Trade NYC This Saturday

July 14th, 2016

Danny Lee Blackwell (vocals and guitar), James Traeger (drums) and Jakob Bowden (bass) have been doing their own take on bluesy, psychedelic garage-rock soul—or what they call “experimental R&B—as the Seattle trio the Night Beats since 2009. They’ve released a variety of singles and compilation tracks in addition to three studio albums, including this year’s Who Sold My Generation (stream it below). Clash Music compared the band to groups like the Black Keys and the 13th Floor Elevators, adding that Night Beats (above, doing “Sunday Mourning” for KEXP FM) “have crafted an exhilarating, hedonistic modern psych album that means the album doesn’t just pay homage to a lot of the great influences mentioned, but sounds just as good.” Currently crisscrossing the country, Night Beats come to town to play Rough Trade NYC on Saturday night. And as an added bonus, New York City’s Acid Dad and the Mystery Lights open the show.


Double Your Pleasure with Two Nights of the Black Lips

May 6th, 2016

The Black Lips—now original members Cole Alexander (vocals and guitar), Jared Swilley (vocals and bass) and Joe Bradley (vocals and drums) alongside Jack Hines (guitar and vocals)—formed in the suburbs of Atlanta just before the turn of the century. Their first couple of singles gained them some attention and their antics (think: nudity, vomiting) got them banned from several local venues. But the group’s persevered, getting past their shenanigans and lineup changes without a change in their Southern-tinged garage-punk sound, evidenced by their most recent studio release, Underneath the Rainbow (stream it below)—produced in part by the Black KeysPatrick Carney—about which the Austin Chronicle wrote: “The band somehow remains degenerately disheveled and brilliantly bombastic in a way that belies their tightness.” Of course when playing live, the Black Lips (above, doing “Gung Ho” for Jam in the Van) are still just as rowdy as ever, and you’ve got two chances to see them, on Sunday night at The Bowery Ballroom and then again on Monday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg.


Two Chances Next Week to See Songhoy Blues, a Band Not to Miss

June 12th, 2015

With armed jihadists in the northern region of Mali, Oumar Touré, Allou Touré and Garba Touré sought refuge in the southern town of Bamako. Eventually they met Nat Dembele and decided to channel their interest in classic rock, hip-hop and R&B into their feelings about the displacement of their culture and their people, the Songhoy. So they took the name Songhoy Blues and began playing what Billboard calls guitar-driven music that “connects the trance-inducing traditions of their African music ancestry with flavors employed by the Black Keys, reggae and funk artists and, back in the day, Led Zeppelin.” Produced by Amadou & Mariam manager Marc-Antoiune Moreau and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’s Nick Zinner, their acclaimed debut album, Music in Exile (stream it below), came out this past winter. And NME calls Songhoy Blues (above, doing “Soubour”) a “righteous four-piece that even militants couldn’t silence” and the LP “a masterpiece of desert blues; blending American guitar licks with Malian groove.” They’re currently winding down a U.S. tour, but before they head to Europe, you can catch Songhoy Blues on Monday at Rough Trade NYC and on Tuesday at Mercury Lounge.


Garage-Rock Duo the Pack A.D. Play Mercury Lounge Tomorrow

April 1st, 2014

Like the White Stripes and Black Keys before them, the Pack A.D. channel a winning mix of the electric blues and good old-fashioned rock and roll. Singer-guitarist Becky Black and drummer Maya Miller teamed up in 2006, and the Vancouver garage-rock duo has gone on to release five full-length albums, including this year’s rocking Do Not Engage (stream it below). PopMatters says it’s “a strong album and a worthy addition to the Pack A.D.’s already impressive list of mini-epics. With Black and Miller out there making a joyful (sometimes) noise, it’s safe to say that rock-and-roll is, indeed, here to stay.” Out on the road in support of their new tunes, the Pack A.D. (above, performing “Animal” for AXS Live) play the late show tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge.


Spend Saturday Night with Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the Apollo

November 15th, 2013

The venerable Preservation Hall Jazz Band (above, performing “That’s It” on Jimmy Kimmel Live!) have been playing sweet, sweet traditional New Orleans jazz for more than half a century. With such a long lifespan, the lineup has obviously changed over the years since the group first found a home at Preservation Hall in the French Quarter in the 1960s. But the eight-piece, led by creative director (and sousaphonist and bassist) Ben Jaffe, remain loyal jazz ambassadors, bringing the gift of NOLA music across the country and even the world, while still finding time to record and release new material, like this year’s That’s It! (stream it below), and perform with the likes of My Morning Jacket, Dr. John and the Black Keys. And you can see them at the world renowned Apollo Theater tomorrow.

(Preservation Hall Jazz Band will be a part of My Morning Jacket’s One Big Holiday at the Hard Rock Hotel in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera in January.)


A New Band with Plenty of Confidence

August 30th, 2013

Blue & Gold – Mercury Lounge – August 29, 2013

It’s often hard to embrace excitement about new rock bands in New York City since they can appear and disappear in less than the blink of an eye, but here’s hoping that the young rockers of the four-piece Blue & Gold will be able to stick around much longer than that. Led by singers-and-guitarists Chloe Raynes and (House List writer) Alex Kapelman, the brand-new band filled Mercury Lounge last night with friends, family and some already-adoring fans in what was their biggest show so far in their short span.

Armed with great dual vocals, some killer clean and fuzzy guitar tones, plus a bundle of confidence, the quartet showed few signs of new-band jitters. They also displayed some personality, which always goes a long way when a crowd might not know just who the hell you are. Blue & Gold’s sound is tailor made for the New York City music scene, with a bit of that White Stripes minimalism, a few Strokes-esque melodies and the Black Keys’ brashness (all simultaneously on display during “It’s Only You”).

But the best parts of the set were when they showed that they’re not just another Keys-ian rock and roll band. Raynes and Kapelman traded well-trained licks during their more psychedelic-rock songs, like “Anything for Love,” and when the two harmonized together, the venue got a glimpse of what might yet be their biggest strength. And after their terrific 45-minute set ended, it seemed pretty clear that they’ll have some more time in the coming years to show it all off. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


Cut Loose with the Heavy Tomorrow Night at Webster Hall

June 11th, 2013

It began in the ’90s, when singer Kelvin Swaby and guitarist Dan Taylor bonded over common interests in classic R&B and Jim Jarmusch flicks in South West England. From there, the two joined drummer Chris Ellul and bassist Spencer Page to form the Heavy, making a guitar-heavy rock-soul hybrid, highlighted by Swaby’s vocals, which earned him heady comparisons to Prince and Curtis Mayfield. The quartet first released several singles before their debut LP, Great Vengeance and Furious Fire, came out in 2007. Their next album, The House That Dirt Built, followed two years later, and, thanks to smash single “How You Like Me Now,” it earned the Heavy (above, doing “What Makes a Good Man” on Last Call with Carson Daly) appearances on TV and in soundtracks. But the quartet headed to Columbus, Ga., to record last year’s The Glorious Dead (stream it below). With its blues, funk and acid-rock influences, Allmusic praised the album as “the illegitimate offspring of the Black Keys and Gnarls Barkley.” Do yourself a favor and go see them play Webster Hall tomorrow night.


The Black Keys – Madison Square Garden – March 22, 2012

March 23rd, 2012

Photos courtesy of Michael Jurick | music.jurick.net


SPIN Turns 25

July 23rd, 2010


Next week SPIN magazine celebrates its 25th anniversary with five great shows: the Smashing Pumpkins at Terminal 5 on Monday, the Flaming Lips at Terminal 5 on Tuesday, the Black Keys at Terminal 5 on Wednesday, the National at Terminal 5 on Thursday and Spiritualized at Radio City Music Hall on Friday. And the even better news is that if you don’t have tickets to these shows, you’ll still be able to see them because Spin.com will be streaming them live. So let the SPIN25 celebration begin.