Tag Archives: Bon Iver


Lola Marsh Launch New Tour Tomorrow Night at Rough Trade NYC

March 5th, 2018

Gil Landau (guitar and vocals) and Yael Shoshana Cohen (vocals, percussion and ukulele)—now joined by Mati Gilad (bass and vocals), Rami Osservaser (guitar, keys and vocals), Dekel Dvir (drums and vocals) and Ran Gil (keys)—formed the Israeli folk-oriented Lola Marsh five years ago in Tel Aviv. Their debut EP, You’re Mine (stream it below), filled with evocative lyrics, Middle Eastern guitar melodies and Cohen’s sultry vocals, arrived in 2016. Interview magazine says their “unique sound straddles the line between indie folk and electro-pop.” Their first LP, Remember Roses (stream it below), followed last year, sounding “inspired, matured and smooth. Yael and Gil have managed to free themselves from overwhelming influences—be it Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Nick Drake, Sufjan Stevens, Edith Piaf—and compose a feel-good soundtrack for the summer season,” according to Vents Magazine. “The album shines with suave romanticism and sweet nostalgia. Friendship, love and fears from childhood are recurrent themes that flow throughout the 11 songs.” Lola Marsh (above, performing “Wishing Girl” for Paste Studios) launch a new American tour tomorrow night at Rough Trade NYC. And singer-songwriter Hillary Capps opens the show.


Phoebe Bridgers Backs Up the Hype at Music Hall of Williamsburg

February 26th, 2018

Phoebe Bridgers – Music Hall of Williamsburg – February 23, 2018

L.A. musician Phoebe Bridgers has been dubbed an artist to watch for good reason. Having released an initial 7″ on Ryan Adams’ label, Pax-Am, back in 2015, the singer-songwriter’s first full-length album, Stranger in the Alps, debuted last fall to strong acclaim. She supported the similarly attuned Julien Baker on her 2016 East Coast tour and will open for Bon Iver in early March at a pair of London shows, broadening her presence across the pond. Her music has been described as “impeccable—warm, cool, conversational, gently slurred—but her songs also swim in the self-aware obsessions and messy meanderings of an unquiet mind.” Selling out two shows at Music Hall of Williamsburg, this ebb and flow of composition was primed for the second show, on Friday night.

Opening with “Smoke Signals,” the heart-aching singer was dimly lit by twinkle lights wrapped around her microphone stand in front of her debut-album cover as a backdrop. The performance turned woozy thanks to guitarist Harrison Whitford’s gentle attention at the lap steel on “Funeral.” Same as the night before, “good friend” Conor Oberst joined on “Would You Rather” to the audience’s glee. Prior to a solo career, Bridgers played bass (but not well, she said) for her friend Haley Dahl’s band, Sloppy Jane, and covered “Wilt” with the songwriter watching in the wings. The room erupted for the rumbling “Motion Sickness,” introduced as “the song for Ryan Adams.” Opener Soccer Mommy and Oberst returned to finish the set with “Scott Street” as gigantic black balloons launched into the crowd while the disco ball fully spun. Covers of Mark Kozelek and Jimmy LaValle’s “You Missed My Heart” and Ednaswap’s “Torn” served as an encore to close out the show. —Sharlene Chiu


James Vincent McMorrow Brings Brand-New Tunes to Brooklyn Steel

June 13th, 2017

There’s something about Ireland that breeds singer-songwriters, like Damien Rice, Villagers and Hozier. Enter James Vincent McMorrow. Having only picked up a guitar at the age of 19, the late boomer quickly tried to master other instruments in order to create richer layers of composition. Like a Celtic Bon Iver, he trapped himself in a house on an Irish coast to produce his 2010 debut, Early in the Morning (stream it below). McMorrow didn’t return with the follow-up, Post Tropical (stream it below), which shined more on his R&B and soul influences rather than folk music, for nearly four years. But he’s been downright prolific ever since. In fact McMorrow’s fourth full-length—and third in four years—True Care (stream it below), suddenly arrived just a few weeks ago. The Irish Times says, “McMorrow presents 15 new tunes that further consolidate his position as a songwriter of meaningful, depth-charged soul music.” While the Irish Examiner calls the album “a sublime, abstracted gift that keeps on giving.” And having just kicked off a North American tour in support of the new LP, McMorrow (above, performing “Get Low,” on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and, below, covering “Purple Rain”) returns to NYC to play Brooklyn Steel on Thursday night. —Sharlene Chiu


The Staves Build Bridges at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday

March 13th, 2017

The Staves – Music Hall of Williamsburg – March 10, 2017


As youngsters in England, Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor learned guitar from their father and sang heavy folk melodies at the local pub, which has bloomed into something bigger. Their sweet sisterly harmonies have earned the Staves opening slots for the Civil Wars, Bon Iver and Florence and the Machine. The siblings formed such a strong friendship with Justin Vernon that the Bon Iver frontman produced their last album, If I Was. Playing at Music Hall of Williamsburg Friday night, the first of two sold-out weekend shows in Brooklyn, the sisters were a lovely respite after the morning’s snowfall. Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” introduced the ladies—and drummer Dave Power—to the stage. The show began with Camilla on ukulele for “Blood I Bled,” while Jessica, on guitar, and Emily, behind keys, offered backing vocals.

Opener Mikaela Davis added harp on the breakup song “No Me, No You, No More” as Jessica’s elfin vocals rang across the room. Midway through the set, when Emily and Camilla needed to swap stage positions, Jessica stalled with some light conversation about Gilmore Girls, which the band had been watching on the bus. This sent the crowd into a tizzy with shouts of “Team Jess,” but it was the sisters’ critical takes on the character Rory as “a nause” (an English term of annoyance) that elicited cheers. Vernon’s influences were obvious once everyone was in the right place and Camilla created an echo chamber with a series of vocal loops on “Train Tracks,” similar to those on Bon Iver songs. The skip-hop cadence of “Black & White” perked up fans and grew for the anthemic “Tired as Fuck” as crowd members clapped along to Camilla’s languid delivery. An encore was inevitable and Davis returned again for a dreaming acoustic cover of Sufjan Steven’s “Chicago.” Jessica prefaced the final song, “Mexico,” with “Don’t build walls, let’s build bridges.” —Sharlene Chiu


Bon Iver Close Out Epic New York Run at Music Hall of Williamsburg

December 15th, 2016

Bon Iver – Music Hall of Williamsburg – December 14, 2016

During a cold winter in a Wisconsin cabin, the first Bon Iver album, For Emma, Forever Ago, was written out of heartbreak—and the indie folklore remains forever in perpetuity. Although raved about in music critics’ circles, the band wasn’t well-known until winning the Best New Artist Grammy in 2012 for the self-titled sophomore effort. Even then, the public was uncertain who was in the band with tweets throughout the telecast wondering exactly who Bonnie Bear was. After a three-year hiatus, Bon Iver returned to headline the inaugural Eaux Claires Music Festival in frontman Justin Vernon’s hometown. This fall, the latest release, 22, A Million, welcomed a new era in the band’s evolution, moving away from the melancholic, acoustic crooning to heavily Auto-Tuned vocals against grainy synths leaving little resemblance to that emotionally cracked man in the cabin.

Over the past two weeks, the once unknown folk band has played sold-out shows across the New York City area from Hammerstein Ballroom and Capitol Theatre to Pioneer Works and Kings Theatre. The residency ended last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg, blocks away from an in-store the band played almost a decade ago at the long-shuttered Sound Fix Records. The stage was set with gear trunks decorated with Eric Timothy Carlson’s artwork from the recent album and served as tables for laptops and synths.

Carlson’s graphics were projected throughout the entire set, offering a strange mix of numerology and lyrics. The opener, “22 (OVER S∞∞N),” echoed a familiar voice that sounded like Merrill Garbus (aka Tune-Yards), but Vernon’s foray into electronics has masked his vocal coherency. The frontman’s earlier work with the band Poliça can be heard in his delivery of “10 d E A T h b R E a s T,” where distorted percussions give way to shredding guitars. Midway through the show, Vernon confessed that it was great to be back “playing one of our favorite rooms.” In a charming moment, the sextet of backing horns, known lovingly as “Sad Sax of Shit,” accompanied the band on “8 (circle).” The evening was largely dedicated to the newer material, but Vernon offered a morsel of the past with an encore that included “Creature Fear.” —Sharlene Chiu


The Tallest Man on Earth as the Most Charming Man in Brooklyn

June 3rd, 2015

The Tallest Man on Earth – Music Hall of Williamsburg – June 2, 2015

The Tallest Man on Earth – Music Hall of Williamsburg – June 2, 2015
It had been more than six years since I’d last seen the Swedish folk singer Kristian Matsson, better known as the Tallest Man on Earth. Seen is a generous description as I’d caught just the tail end of his set opening for a then rising band by the name of Bon Iver. But it was his voice, somewhat resembling Bob Dylan’s, that stuck in my memory. Not even two years later, he released his brilliant, critically acclaimed sophomore album, The Wild Hunt, and he’s since followed that with two more, including the latest, Dark Bird Is Home. Playing the first of two sold-out New York City shows this week, the Swede leapt onto the stage at Music Hall of Williamsburg last night, kicking off things with a new tune, “Fields of Our Home.” Matsson commented that it had been some time since he’d been back in Brooklyn and referenced the cool factor for Swedes to be there.

Songs off Dark Bird largely dominated the night, but fans were in unison with delight when older numbers were played. Matsson’s band exited the stage leaving the petite Swede to pepper the crowd with oldies “Love Is All” and “The Gardener.” A male suitor in the balcony exclaimed, “I love you,” followed by a lady on the floor professing the same. He warned them to listen to his albums carefully, as he isn’t an easy one to love even though the evening momentarily shone a good light on him. The crowd didn’t necessarily heed his warning because it seemed like everyone in the room was thoroughly enthralled by him, as he pranced and lunged end to end.

Once the full band returned, recent single “Sagres” took life before Matsson sat behind the keyboards for the Nate Ruess–sounding “Little Nowhere Towns.” The set came to a rocking end with the surprisingly jam-tastic “Dark Bird Is Home.” Although that wouldn’t conclude the performance, the master of entrances slid down the banister to extend the evening with a two-song encore of a bluesy rendition of “The Dreamer” and fan-favorite “Like the Wheel.” —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Pip Cowley | pipcowleyshoots.com


Cold War Kids Headline Diverse CMJ Lineup at Rough Trade NYC

October 23rd, 2014

Cold War Kids – Rough Trade NYC – October 22, 2014

Cold War Kids – Rough Trade NYC – October 22, 2014
Rough Trade NYC hosted a flock of impressive acts last night, and concertgoers who caught this show on the second night of CMJ 2014 lucked out, as the lineup provided such a satisfying variety befitting the festival’s spirit. Fresh off tours supporting Sylvan Esso and My Brightest Diamond, Brooklyn native Doe Paoro and her band entranced early arrivals with celestial electro soul. Australia’s Little May followed with their subdued rock sensibilities. The band had many an audience member swooning with material from their self-titled debut album. Little May’s gorgeous, resonant sound is full of husky whispers and hook-y choruses, and they played up their songs’ melancholic beauty throughout their set.

Moses Sumney took the stage next and quickly mesmerized the crowd with his velvety voice and artful looping skills. The Los Angeleno stood alone onstage and built vast choral phrases out of lilting, angelic tones and subtle beat-boxing. Sumney could sing every word in the dictionary and make it sound interesting—his voice is just that good.  The 20-year-old electro rocker Elliot Moss and his band continued the night with a dynamic set of songs from Moss’s 2013 album, Highspeeds. His music is mercurial, with elements of Radiohead, James Blake and Bon Iver popping up here and there. Having successfully wooed the audience to move superclose, Moss and Co. graciously left the stage to make way for the night’s headliners.

The much-loved members of Cold War Kids meandered onto the stage as the audience roared with excitement. The band’s career has spanned nearly a decade, and the five-piece has some serious discography to show for it. From their 2006 debut record, Robbers and Cowards, to the just released Hold My Home, the band has made a big impression on their fans. The gentleman barreled through an extensive set featuring songs from all over their repertoire. Nathan Willett’s valiant vocals drove “All This Could Be Yours” and “Miracle Mile” at the top of the set. All-time favorites like “Hang Me Up to Dry” and “Hospital Beds” got the crowd howling. The guys in Cold War Kids have an astounding sense of synchronicity. They’re constantly making contact with one another, whether it’s a hand on a shoulder or an intense glance during a chorus. Their set was a spectacular burst of energy, proving that Cold War Kids aren’t losing steam. Rather, they’re louder than ever. —Schuyler Rooth

Photos courtesy of Pip Cowley | pipcowleyshoots.com

(Cold War Kids play Terminal 5 on 3/20.)

(Elliot Moss plays Music Hall of Williamsburg on Sunday and Terminal 5 on 3/20.)

(Moses Sumney plays Rough Trade NYC tonight.)

(Little May play Mercury Lounge tomorrow and Pianos on Saturday.)


Lia Ices Celebrates New Album Tomorrow Night at Mercury Lounge

September 16th, 2014

Lia Ices writes, sings and plays the piano. She grew up in Connecticut but began making music in Brooklyn. And thanks to her voice, she was quickly compared to Tori Amos and Cat Power. Ices (above, performing “Love Is Won” for indieATL) signed with Jagjaguwar in 2010 and the label released her second album, Grown Unknown (stream it below)— which featured a duet with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon—the following year. Spin proclaimed, “Ices’ lush melodies and dreamy voice will convert skeptics and mesmerize supporters of Kate Bush and Joanna Newsom.” But as she began working on her next batch of songs, Ices was in flux: “I was beginning a gradual move to California, constantly traveling back and forth from New York. I was experimenting. I was falling in love. Our studio in the Hudson Valley was full of electronics and computers and the sounds of future ships sailing through the vastness of space, and I sometimes forgot where I was. The first songs we wrote were called ‘Flying 1,’ then ‘Flying 2,’ and so on, which eventually evolved into songs on the album. Flight became a metaphor for the ignition of the imagination. The process created a lightness in me, a freedom and positive energy that I’d never before felt or explored.” And what she ended up with was her third album, Ices (stream it below), out today, which the Guardian, in a five-star review, notes for its “luxurious fusion of spacious electronica, playful tribal pop and layers of breathy vocals.” Lia Ices celebrates her new album tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge.


James Vincent McMorrow Closes East Coast Swing in Williamsburg

April 14th, 2014

James Vincent McMorrow – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 11, 2014

James Vincent McMorrow – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 11, 2014
There is something about Ireland that breeds singer-songwriters, like Damien Rice, Villagers and the recent buzz-worthy Hozier. Enter James Vincent McMorrow. Having only picked up a guitar at the age of 19, the late boomer quickly tried to master other instruments in order to create richer layers of composition. Like a Celtic Bon Iver, McMorrow trapped himself in a house on an Irish coast to produce his 2010 debut, Early in the Morning. He recently returned to the limelight with his follow-up, Post Tropical, which dropped earlier this year. Although he’s categorized as a folk singer, McMorrow’s sophomore effort definitely shines more on the R&B and soul influences in his music.

On Friday, playing the second of two sold-out New York City shows (the first at The Bowery Ballroom on Wednesday), the Irishman descended onstage at Music Hall of Williamsburg to riotous cheers that never really let up all night. Between “Hear the Noise That Moves So Soft and Low” and “Glacier,” the crowd chatter came to a fever pitch before hushing sounds echoed throughout the venue for McMorrow’s distinct high-pitched falsetto to ring clear. Conversation ebbed and flowed between songs, which continued with the singer-songwriter appropriately bathed in red lights for “Red Dust.” He didn’t address fans until halfway into his set, expressing his thankfulness to close out his amazing American tour in Brooklyn.

The fans couldn’t hold in their appreciation, shouting out, ”Sing it” and “Come on, Ireland” during songs. Concertgoers clapped along to “We Don’t Eat” and joined in to sing the chorus, “That we don’t eat until your father’s at the table/ We don’t drink until the devil’s turned to dust.” At times the outbursts interfered with the performance, like when McMorrow performed the D’Angelo-inspired “Cavalier.” It could have been a special moment when silence would have elevated the song, but the spell was broken time and again. Nevertheless, McMorrow performed a rare solo cover of Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love.” And following a brief exit, he returned for a two-song encore: “And If My Heart Should Somehow Stop” and “If I Had a Boat.” —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com


Yellow Ostrich Close Out Tour Tomorrow at The Bowery Ballroom

April 3rd, 2014

Just as Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon once recorded lo-fi four-track songs in Wisconsin, Yellow Ostrich’s Alex Schaaf (vocals and guitar) did just the same while in college there. Upon relocating to New York City he made even more music, self-releasing much of it for free. But once he began recording experimental rock with the like-minded Michael Tapper (drums), they needed other musicians to flesh out their sound for live performances. Now joined by multi-instrumetnalists Jared van Fleet and Zach Rose, Yellow Ostrich (above, doing “Shades”) have sharpened their sound, and they just put out their third full-length, Cosmos (stream it below), last month. PopMatters says it’s “a well-crafted and well-produced album. It can seamlessly shift from soft floating segments to sections of sudden weight. Opening track ‘Terrors,’ along with the outro to ‘Neon Fists,’ exemplify this perfectly. With the combination of youth, great work ethic and a thirst for experimentation, future releases from Yellow Ostrich might be some of the most exciting stuff in the indie-rock world.” The band has been out on the road following the album’s release, but they return home to close their tour tomorrow night at The Bowery Ballroom.


A Top Five Look Back at 2013

January 10th, 2014

Ten days into the New Year, The House List looks back at 2013 with some Top Five lists.

My Top Five Favorite Shows
The Postal Service, Barclay Center, June 14
My decade-belated live date with the Postal Service finally culminated at Barclays Center, where rabid fans, like myself, roared as Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello hit the stage. As if acting out lyrics from “Nothing Better,” Gibbard and Jenny Lewis shimmied close for the duet. Old friends reunited onstage never felt so good.

2. Haim, Webster Hall, September 3
I was late to this bandwagon, as fellow House List contributor Alex Kapelman shortlisted Haim last year for his Top Five Bowery Presents Shows of the Year. I knew I was in for a good one when I could barely find a spot in the rafters to catch the three sisters, who charmed with their onstage banter and wicked musicianship

3. Jessie Ware, The Bowery Ballroom, January 17
Straight off her Jimmy Fallon taping backed by the Roots, the British songstress elated the crowd with her effortless, down-to-earth stage demeanor. Her star quickly rose with American audiences, as she sold out shows at Webster Hall, Music Hall of Williamsburg and Irving Plaza throughout the year. I was glad to have caught her earlier in the more intimate venue.

4. Basia Bulat, Bowery Ballroom, November 23
I’ve been a fan of Basia Bulat since I heard her cover Sam Cooke’s “Touch the Hem of His Garment.” This show on a cold night wasn’t sold out, which made me a little sad since she’s quite the talent. But those who were there were enraptured by her prowess on autoharp to the point that you could hear a pin drop during her solos.

5. Daughter, Bowery Ballroom, April 30
Somehow Elena Tonra manages to disguise heartbreak behind soulful lyrics and melody. She has a knack for turning happy dance songs into somber endeavors. The band mashed-up Bon Iver and Hot Chip’s “Perth/Ready for the Floor” that evening. Check out Tonra’s somber retake of Daft Punk’s hit “Get Lucky” for further proof. —Sharlene Chiu

My Top Five Shows I Never Thought I Would See
1. Desaparecidos, Webster Hall, February 26

Desaparecidos (and really any Conor Oberst project) were my bread and butter back in the early aughts, and for a while they seemed to be a one-off, a politically minded side project firmly planted in the past. Fortunately (and unfortunately) the global state of affairs remains messed up enough for the band to regroup to write protest songs for a new decade. It was a nostalgic, sweaty and inspired performance.

2. Shuggie Otis, Music Hall of Williamsburg, April 19
Shuggie Otis began putting out music in the mid-’70s, followed by a long period of laying low. Content to groove along to songs like “Ice Cold Daydream” at home, I never really thought about the possibility of a Shuggie Otis tour in 2013. But when I found out, I was there. And “Ice Cold Daydream” is even better in person.

3. The Flamin’ Groovies, The Bowery Ballroom, July 6
Instead of discovering the Flamin’ Groovies in a smoky San Fran club in the ’60s, I was introduced to their catchy psychedelia on a Nuggets compilation more than 30 years later. Who’d have thought they’d still be going strong in 2013 and that I’d be dancing right alongside some old school fans at this fun summer show.

4.  John Prine, Beacon Theatre, September 26
John Prine has been active since the early ’70s, but unlike Shuggie Otis, he never really went away, writing and recording songs at a steady pace throughout the years. But I still always thought of him as an artist too legendary for me to see in person—or that tickets would be too out of reach. But John Prine put on an amazing show, highlighting his singular skills as a songwriter and storyteller.

5. The Julie Ruin, Music Hall of Williamsburg, October 25
I was late to the party for the original riot-grrl movement, but I became an admirer of Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna during her time in Le Tigre. She’s dealt with some debilitating health issues in the past few years, but I had no doubt she’d continue to make art and music. So I was happy to learn of her latest project, the Julie Ruin, and her energetic show did not disappoint. —Alena Kastin

My Top Five Shows
1. Yo La Tengo, Town Hall, February 16

I don’t like to pick a favorite, but my last.fm account tells me I’ve listened to Yo La Tengo more than any other band since 2007. At Town Hall, they performed an acoustic set and an electronic one, doing two versions of “Ohm,” my favorite song of the year. And then I ran into Tim Heidecker from Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job! Had the Red Sox not won the World Series, this would’ve been my favorite night of the year.

2. Killer Mike/El-P, Webster Hall, August 14
I don’t care what anyone says: The best two rap albums of 2012 came from Killer Mike and El-P. And in 2013 they topped them, coming together as one entity, Run the Jewels. The night included a set from El-P, a set from Killer Mike and a combined set with both. El-P’s ingenious production plus Killer “I bleed charisma” Mike equals one concert I will never forget.

3. Foxygen, The Bowery Ballroom, October 21
With Foxygen it occasionally feels like shit could fall apart at any moment. And sometimes it does. But when their shows don’t come unhinged they deliver that sweet thrill of relief, like narrowly avoiding a car crash. And on this Halloween-themed night, the band made a weird show even weirder with homemade costumes and pseudo spooky vibes.

4. Steve Earle, Music Hall of Williamsburg, May 8
You can just tell some people are genuine, and Steve Earle is certainly one of them. Forever wearing his heart on his sleeve, that same energy bleeds right into his music, which he played alongside what he’s calling “the best band he’s ever had.”

5. Meat Puppets, Mercury Lounge, April 4
Not only are the Meat Puppets still kicking (after living through some serious shit), but also they’re thriving. And as much as I respect their legacy, seeing them play for more than two hours with the intensity you’d expect of a band 20 years their junior makes me respect them that much more. Long live the puppets of meat! —Dan Rickershauser

My Top Five Shows
1. Dessa, Union Hall, May 5

There are few performers I feel can move mountains with their vocal chords, and Dessa is one of them. This performance was an eruption of defiant lyrics and bold beats. A sizable crowd of young girls knew all of her lyrics, giving the show a chant-like feel. The only female member of Minnesota’s Doomtree collective practically vibrates with energy, and it’s completely contagious.

2. Kishi Bashi, Irving Plaza, September 12
Kishi Bashi sounds even better live than he does recorded. And he delivered a dazzling set with profuse vocal looping and an excellent backing band. Kauro Ishibashi has a supercharged, effusive aura, and his music embodies that persona. This set took a rowdy turn that involved crowd surfing, strobe lights and an outright jam session.

3. Panama Wedding, CMJ Music Marathon
I happened upon newcomers Panama Wedding three different times during CMJ: Initially, opening for NONONO at Mercury Lounge on the first night. Since the band had only released one song, “All of the People,” I was eager to see what would unfold onstage. Their set was so tight that I caught the fantastical pop group the following night at Pianos and then again at a showcase at Santos Party House.

4. You Won’t, Rockwood Music Hall, October 30
The live iteration of You Won’t is a spectacle to behold. I watched eagerly as Josh Arnoudse and Raky Sastri wielded a slew of instruments with ease, quickly fascinating the audience. The duo took their jaunty music into the audience a couple of times to break the barrier and enlisted some extra vocal support by encouraging us to all to sing along.

5. James Blake, Terminal 5, November 6
In this spellbinding live performance, complete with plenty of vocal looping and haunting electronica, James Blake made a cavernous room filled with people feel intimate. And that he’s such a dapper-looking fellow only helps boost his appeal. I’m still transfixed by this performance nearly two months later. James Blake’s music has some serious lasting effects. —Schuyler Rooth

My Top Five Shows with Regard to Lights, Visuals and Production
1. Umphrey’s McGee, Brooklyn Bowl, January 20

Kick-ass creative lighting
and Brooklyn Bowl don’t usually go hand in hand, but Umphrey’s McGee lighting guru Jefferson Waful turned the room into a thing of beauty.

2. Föllakzoid/Holydrug Couple, Mercury Lounge, March 21
What better way to enjoy some old school psychedelic music than with some old school liquid projections courtesy of Drippy Eye.

3. Plaza: Portugal. The Man, Irving Plaza, May 20
Freakin’ lasers!

4. The Flaming Lips/Tame Impala, Terminal 5, October 1
It was almost as fascinating to watch the Lips’ spectacle getting set up as it was to see it in action—confetti, strobes, LEDs and, well, pretty much everything. And Tame Impala’s projections were no slouch either.

5. Phish, Atlantic City Boardwalk, October 31, November 2
Phish’s fall tour found lighting director Chris Kuroda playing the Willy Wonka of eye candy all over the East Coast. —A. Stein

My Top Five Albums
1. Phosphorescent, Muchacho
I’d only seen Phosphorescent once before listening to Muchacho for the first time. And while much of Matthew Houck’s previous work is country-tinged (not that there’s anything wrong with that), this album, ostensibly about a breakup, covers more territory, from the meditative sounds of “Sun, Arise (An Invocation, an Introduction)” and “Sun’s Arising (A Koan, an Exit)” to the jammy, driving “Ride On/Right On” to softer fare, like “Muchacho’s Tune,” all centered on Houck’s evocative voice. I still can’t stop listening to it.

2. Foxygen, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
Foxygen’s third full-length, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, comes off as a loving mash note to ’70s rock. You’ll hear bits of the Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground and David Bowie, but the album expertly manages to sound like something whole and new rather than something derivative.

3. White Denim, Corsicana Lemonade
Upon the first couple of listens, I found White Denim’s latest, Corsicana Lemonade, to be too singer-songwriter-y, but I continued to give it a chance, and it opened up to something much bigger, with genre-hopping songs like “Let It Feel Good (My Eagles)” and “Pretty Green”—not to mention some searing guitar parts—grabbing me by the throat.

4. Futurebirds, Baba Yaga
Admittedly, I didn’t know anything about Futurebirds, out of Athens, Ga., before writing a preview of their late-May show at The Bowery Ballroom. But while listening to their second LP, Baba Yaga, as I wrote, I became totally enamored of the album—half twangy Southern rock and half spacey reverb.

 5. Kurt Vile, Wakin on a Pretty Daze
I love Kurt Vile’s Wakin on a Pretty Daze so much, that I can’t believe it’s only No. 5. Labeling it stoner rock, as many have done, is lazy. Although I supposed me calling it laid-back rock isn’t any better. But the fact of the matter is there might not ever be a better album to listen to while walking the streets of New York City with headphones in your ears. —R. Zizmor


Good Times on a Friday Night

November 11th, 2013

Poliça – Webster Hall – November 8, 2013

With the release of their debut album, Give You the Ghost, last year, Minnesota electro-pop outfit Poliça quickly gained success, leading to opening slots for Bon Iver and the xx. The quartet, helmed by frontwoman Channy Leaneagh, manipulates vocals through loops and Auto-Tune to create a whirlpool of sound that sucks you in. At a nearly sold-out Webster Hall on Friday night, Poliça played before a backdrop depicting the cover of their latest full-length, Shulamith, and its material served as the meat of the evening’s set. With drummers Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu (yes, there were two drummers with full kits) getting it started, Leaneagh’s gloved hands gesticulated for the opening song, “Spilling Lines.” The gloves were promptly removed for “Lay Your Cards Out,” off their previous album, Give You the Ghost.

Bassist Chris Bierden revved his strings on “Very Cruel” as Leaneagh slithered across the stage. Although there was little banter throughout the night, the singer simply offered, “I hope you all have a good time” to a roared response. As the house lights came on to the crash of cymbals during “Vegas,” it was clear that the fine folks at Webster Hall were having a ball. Before she introduced “Chain My Name,” Leaneagh disclosed that her mother gave her such a unique name in the hopes that she’d become a country singer. The first single from Shulamith would be the pixie songstress’s “country song.” Although the set closed, appropriately, with “So Leave,” the band came back onstage for a three-song encore. Bierden was the first to return, followed shortly thereafter by Leaneagh, who sang a slowed-down, yet shortened version of “Wandering Star.” With the pair of drummers joining them, the full band treated the crowd to a cover of Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me” before finishing the night with “Matty.”Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com


Catch Poliça Tomorrow Night at Webster Hall

November 7th, 2013

Minneapolis’s Poliça, a psychedelic R&B offshoot of Gayngs, began when singer Channy Leanagh and producer Ryan Olson started collaborating together in the summer of 2011. Things clicked, and within a month, the two already had enough material to begin recording. So they recruited bassist Chris Bierdan and drummers Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu, and cut Give You the Ghost, which came out early last year. How well was the album received? Well, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon said, “They’re the best band I’ve ever heard.” Their follow-up, also well-received, Shulamith (stream it below), arrived a few weeks ago. Consequence of Sound says Poliça (above, doing “Dark Star”) “push beyond their previous record through the maturity of their sexy, electronic R&B sounds united with darker lyrics and political connotations.” See them, with Marijuana Deathsquads opening, tomorrow night at Webster Hall.


Volcano Choir Deliver an Expansive, Emotive Set at Webster Hall

September 16th, 2013

Volcano Choir – Webster Hall – September 14, 2013

Pitchfork’s Ian Cohen claimed Repave was Volcano Choir’s “fun album” mere weeks before the band, a retrofitted or hard-to-distinguish analog for Bon Iver, played to a packed Webster Hall on Saturday night. Appropriately, for the alleged acoustic post-rock good times, the crowd didn’t bleed the bucolic melodies of Justin Vernon, looking more like a young professional frat party than fans of any rural music collective. Even Bon Iver and Volcano Choir, despite their humble origins, are barely recognizable as pastoral, crafting the slow jams and emotive geography of coastal elites. But if the plaid was ironic even for an unseasonably cool night in September, Vernon’s melodies never were, an expansive and emotive set that managed to deliver the pathos even for a crowd that didn’t expressly need it, but knew it would be coming.

Volcano Choir opened with the droning keyboard progression of “Tiderays.” Vernon emerged and took his place behind what looked like a pulpit, where he proceeded to preach heavily echoed vocals over the next 90 minutes. It was all something of a refraction, hard to distinguish what made this Volcano Choir and not Bon Iver as the band moved through first-album single “Island, IS” and the explosive “Comrade,” during which Vernon raised a single fist in the chorus, a trope of rebellion and underdog triumph distorted by the sold-out crowd, the excellent second album, the adoring privilege of privileged fans. The band told the audience they’d be playing almost every song they knew, including some new material that “hasn’t found a home yet.” In one case, the band agreed on the fly to call a yet-untitled song “The Agreement” after the yelling exhortations of the first few rows.

Vernon, from his perch, interstitial to the songs, explained some of the broad purpose: “It never gets old to make a record that you worked on for a really fucking long time,” finishing with “it never gets old, people giving a shit what you did.” Volcano Choir then played the night’s slowest song, “Keel.” The show was all about texture and magnification. The cloth backdrop behind Vernon and crew looked like one of those microscope pictures of the human skin that look like the moon. Volcano Choir “covered” the Bon Iver cut “Woods,” easily one of the night’s high points. The ability to make the smallest of moments important, the patience to find a slow build and a big payoff, in a small acoustic-guitar loop, all granted Volcano Choir the power to distort and make real in the same instant. “I won’t beg for you on acetate,” sang Vernon in aching echo, the best sense of making what was flat fully rendered. —Geoff Nelson


Diamond Doves Lead Packed Bill Tonight at Mercury Lounge

July 18th, 2013

Chances are you’ve already seen Diamond Doves before and didn’t even know it. Maybe it was when they were Elvis Perkins’ bitchin’, bendable backing band, In Dearland. Or maybe it was as the special-guest horn section for My Morning Jacket or Bon Iver (amongst others) … or opening for Marco Benevento or the Felice Brothers. Not an accident that these guys are called upon to play with the best, but they’re much more than just someone else’s horn section. On their own, they’re a fully hyphenated folk-psych-rock multi-instrumentalist trio, equal parts the Beatles and the Band. They top a jam-packed bill, including Brooklyn’s Caged Animals, tonight at Mercury Lounge. —A. Stein