Tag Archives: David Bowie


Jonathan Wilson Brings Terrific Album to Music Hall of Williamsburg

March 5th, 2018

Jonathan Wilson is a busy man, most recently producing Father John Misty’s third album, Pure Comedy, plus appearing on Conor Oberst’s Salutations and Roger WatersIs This the Life We Really Want, in addition to serving as musical director (and lead guitarist) on the former Pink Floyd member’s massive tour last summer. And amidst all that, Wilson (above, performing “Moses Pain”) somehow managed to make time to complete his third psychedelic-folk gem of an LP, Rare Birds (stream it below), which just dropped this past Friday. “Musically, Wilson serves up a heaping helping of psychedelicized, occasionally spacey, generally measured and reflective rock, often indebted to late Beatles/early ELO, prog, glam and mid-period David Bowie,” says American Songwriter. “A strikingly original, complex and inspired work, one that requires your attention and rewards repeated spins.” And according to NPR Music, “You can tell that Wilson is a student of rock and pop in all its forms, and at the same time he’s an utterly original and irreverent thinker who’s evolving with blinding speed. Rarely have those qualities been balanced as elegantly as they are here.” But, of course, his music is best experienced live and in the moment, and touring behind the new album, Jonathan Wilson plays Music Hall of Williamsburg on Wednesday night. Queens duo the Shacks open the show.


Catch Jerry Joseph & the Jackmormons Tuesday at Rough Trade NYC

February 5th, 2018

Jerry Joseph is an old-school rock iconoclast, the type for whom opinionated is a politely remote descriptor, but then fades away into a hail of guitar and the spiked delivery of a particularly on-point lyric. And when he’s on—and with his trio, the Jackmormons, there’s no fear of off—he’s a ferocious live show, like Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty fronting Crazy Horse, and with a world-weary purview that’s emotional, heavy and leaves just enough room for slivers of optimism. Joseph is above all prolific. He has more than 30 albums to his name and some 250 potent original songs, which will form the bulk of what’s sure to be a barn burner of a set at Rough Trade NYC tomorrow night. This time around, he and his Jackmormons (above, performing “Savage Garden”)—Steven James Wright on bass and Steve Drizos on drums—come slinging Weird Blood (stream it below), Joseph’s third album in as many years with Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools as a shrewd producer. Joseph is the first to admit the Weird Blood songs evoke a time of year and a state of mind. “I rented a tiny house about a mile from my home so I could write but be home for dinner and kid bedtime,” he writes in the album’s accompanying notes. “I ended up writing a fistful of songs. It was cold early January but a perfect place to write. Weird stuff was happening in general, one of those weeks where I had my copy of Black Star and David Bowie died. I tend to do the mad scribble thing when I write.” Indeed, Weird Blood runs the Josephian gamut: “Sweet Baba Jay” and its spooked folk rock, “3-7-77,” which feels like it’s trying to escape from its own untidy blues-rock framework, “Wild Wild West,” a tune of his that’s been around for more than two decades and really unfolds live, and “Think On These Things,” a common Joseph show opener but tender enough an anthemic rock song that it’s willing to let in just enough light to be called uplifting. You’ll get a range of styles, plus snatches of songs from one or more of Joseph’s constellation of influences, from Leonard Cohen to Bob Marley. But most of all you’ll get Joseph, who’s earned the right to be called an original, and if you’re in the right frame of mind, could front the best band in the world on any given night. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson


Celebrating David Bowie – Terminal 5 – January 10, 2017

January 11th, 2017

Celebrating David Bowie - Terminal 5 - January 10, 2017

Photos courtesy of Marc Millman Photography | www.marcmillmanphotos.com/music


Celebrating David Bowie on Tuesday Night at Terminal 5

January 6th, 2017

Last year, David Bowie—worldwide icon, New Yorker—passed away just two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his 25th album, the acclaimed Blackstar (stream it below). Next Tuesday, on the anniversary of his death, we honor the man and his legacy: Bowie band members and associates—Mike Garson, Earl Slick, Adrian Belew, Gail Ann Dorsey, Mark Plati, Sterling Campbell, Zack Alford, Catherine Russell and Holly Palmer—and friends and a massive ensemble of top recording and touring musicians from around the world—including Living Colour, the B52s’ Kate Pierson, Fishbone’s Angelo Moore, Fiction Plane’s Joe Sumner, the Harlem Gospel Choir plus many, many more—will gather on Tuesday at Terminal 5 for Celebrating David Bowie. Come join the celebration.


Pond Heat Up Music Hall of Williamsburg

October 27th, 2016

Pond – Music Hall of Williamsburg – October 26, 2016

The overnight temperatures have taken a turn toward downright chilly lately, the first sign that winter will be here soon. Of course, in Australia, the opposite is true: Summer is on its way. Indeed, walking into Music Hall of Williamsburg for the Perth band Pond last night, it felt like going from winter into summer, the globe flipping upside down, cold was now hot, dreary was now Technicolor. By the time the band took the stage, the room was packed and ready and the music delivered from the beginning, Pond’s mix of psychedelic throwback and danceable grooves.

Don’t look now, but what originally felt like a side project several years back, Pond now have three albums to their name and more new music on the way. The set list drew from all angles and eras, with large doses coming from 2015’s Man It Feels Like Space Again and 2013’s Hobo Rocket. “Giant Tortoise” showed off the band’s modern-day powers, Pink Floyd disco with a swirl of heavy-throttle guitar and dreamy pop. Songs like “Don’t Look at the Sun or You’ll Go Blind” were equal parts soaring guitars and deep synths, giving everyone in the audience a choice of clapping along or letting their minds swirl. Meanwhile, colorful images flickered on the stage backdrop, combining with Pond’s goofy banter to give the impression that they were performing in some old school Saturday morning cartoon.

At one pause, was that a sly little Yes tease I heard? Yes, Pond’s prog roots still show, “You Broke My Cool” feeling like a modern-day Bowie with a quick, ecstatic guitar jam. The set ended with a monster 15 minutes of nonstop music, starting with “Man It Feels Like Space Again” with a deep space funk and soaring guitars, ending up, I think, in “Midnight Mass,” but feeling like a continuation, an emotive liftoff. The band left the stage to aural ghosts panning left and right across the PA, before returning for a multipart encore, a high-energy left-of-Jupiter excursion with crowd surfing and heavy boogie and one last dose of that devil-may-care, party-all-night summer spirit. —A. Stein | @Neddyo 


Kyle Craft Brings Acclaimed Music to Mercury Lounge Tomorrow

August 10th, 2016

As far as musical descriptions go, you could do a lot worse than AllMusic’s take on Kyle Craft, “a Louisiana-bred singer-songwriter with a robust, full-throated wail and knack for pairing Stones-ian hooks and Dylan-esque wordplay with glam-kissed pop swagger.” Now based in Portland, Ore., Craft (above, doing “Penetcost” for KEXP FM) put out his debut solo album, Dolls of Highland (stream it below), on Sub Pop this past spring to a considerable amount of praise. Pitchfork opined that the LP “melds the voodoo-infused mythology of the South with rambunctious glam rock, and Kyle Craft summons you into its world like a carnival barker wooing customers in a funhouse.” And not to be outdone, Spin added that in his past life, he “was either a glam-rock idol or frontman for a power-metal trio. His sound is swampy ’70s boogie that splits the difference between Dr. John and David Bowie.” Find out for yourself why he’s getting so much praise when Kyle Craft plays Mercury Lounge tomorrow night. NYC’s Mass Gothic open the show.


Alice Cooper Gets Seriously Spooky

May 13th, 2016

Alice Cooper – the Capitol Theatre – May 12, 2016

Whether he’s snuggling with a live snake, wrestling his way out of a straitjacket or chopping off his own head with a guillotine, one thing is for sure: Alice Cooper’s still got it. And whatever it is probably belongs under a dark sheet, ready to be unveiled with a flourish, just like every other element that made last night’s Capitol Theatre show so gripping. You’d think five-plus decades of hardcore showmanship would leave him a little sluggish, but the original shock rocker is far from finished. Rocking black eyeliner like he invented it (and seriously, how didn’t he?), Cooper surged onstage to the sounds of Vincent Price, legs spread defiantly as the screech of “The Black Widow” swirled around his striped suit. The seated crowd immediately rushed the stage and formed a makeshift pit—and the Cap’s tie-dyed security guards kindly let it slide.

The six-piece group (seven-, if you count the life-sized, bloody baby doll near the drums, and eight- if you count its creepy clown counterpart) dove into “Public Animal #9,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Under My Wheels,” Cooper’s voice sounding as rich and raspy as ever. His energy was palpable right up to the balconies, and he often let it out on his own band, playfully shoving them mid-solo or sneaking behind them to whisper something sinister. But his deft guitarists were far from distracted, kneeling right in one another’s faces to shred at impossible angles and become every kid’s new hero. With haunted-house theatrics so well suited for the Port Chester, N.Y., theater, each song became a spooky skit that elicited a big swell of gasps and a rumble of applause. The smoke machines rapidly spat out nuclear-looking fumes beneath green and orange lights, with the spider-filled eyes overlooking the stage changing color just as often. Throughout songs like “Is It My Body,” “Billion Dollar Babies” and “Poison,” horrors of all sizes emerged from the crate in the center, stagehands popping up with new props like a generous jack-in-the-box.

A six-minute, stick-flipping drum solo in “Halo of Flies” geared up everyone for the next big surprise, during “Feed My Frankenstein” under the glow of a massive apparatus. In one of his best fun-house illusions (and one that legitimately made me jump), Cooper strapped himself in for a convincing electric shock, suddenly reappearing from a puff of smoke as a 10-foot monster on stilts. The next series of stunts showed him beating/caressing a limp rag doll, facing down a sadistic nurse and spurting fake blood from the aforementioned guillotine, making “Cold Ethyl” and “Ballad of Dwight Fry” all the more fun and demented. After a portion of “Killer” led into “I Love the Dead,” an unexpected tribute took place in the cemetery set that had cropped up around them. As the taunting voice-over suggested during the “Under the Bed” intro, Cooper “raised the dead” and unveiled the larger-than-life headstones of three legendary late rockers: Keith Moon, Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie. Then, to the audience’s thrill, he and his band brewed heartfelt renditions of “Pinball Wizard,” “Fire,” and “Suffragette City” in their honor before wrapping with “I’m Eighteen” and “School’s Out” (featuring a bit of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2”)—and an encore of “Elected” as an explosion of bubbles swallowed the stage. Slivers of silver confetti rained down conclusively, reminding us all what a real show should feel like. —Olivia Isenhart | @OliviaIsenhart


Landlady and Sex Mob Help Rough Trade NYC Dance Away the Pain

April 22nd, 2016

Landlady – Rough Trade NYC – April 21, 2016

Landlady take over a stage to the point of spilling off of it, and their music sounds something like that, too—avant-pop, garage rock, funk, Afrobeat, heady jazz, pushed and pulled, knocked around a bit, sloshing like a too-full cocktail glass sitting on a wobbly table. This is a good thing: The New York of 2016 needs more of these risk-taking bands going for broke when it comes to blast-it-out improvisation and collective genre-smashing, somehow finding tasty melodies and total brain-fuck engagement in what to a passing-by ear could sound like blotted chaos. (The word surprise is used on their Facebook page as the group’s genre.) And that Landlady opted to share last night with one of the OG purveyors of this kind of sonic assault—Sex Mob—made for a wonderfully odd and unhinged show at Rough Trade NYC.

Near the end of their roughly 75-minute set, Landlady—the core five-piece with guitar, keys, bass, drums and percussion—tucked into “The Globe,” off their superb 2014 album, Upright Behavior. It’s an encapsulating song: Adam Schatz’s deceptively triumphant (or cheerfully weary?) vocals over a pie-eyed, finger-snapping melody delivered in service of a song that has something to do with living under stars but slouching toward, not Bethlehem, but a black hole. And that sort of happy-downtrodden balance frames so much of what Landlady do. Their tunes don’t force themselves on you, but once they grab your attention, then comes the rewarding variation, from manic percussion jams—drummers and percussionists Ian Chang and Booker Stardrum love to change positions and switch instruments with each other—to swirls of Farfisa and Wurlitzer to unexpected stabs of metallic guitar from Will Graefe. There were dynamic changeups left and right. “What’s the matter with my girl?” asked Schatz, sort of pained, sort of delirious, during “Girl” as a prelude to a full-stop beat of silence before he quietly built back the melody and then the whole band slammed into a refrain. “Dying Day” included a stab-y, aggressive melody and a format full of syncopation, yet its edges were smoothed with psychedelic keyboards.

Landlady are adventurous, but, crucially, don’t seem to get drunk on their own mojo. In fact, you never get the sense, even when their music spirals out into noisy, carnival sonics that they are anything but in control. The band paused to acknowledge Prince and the crowd cheered some heartfelt words from Schatz about playing songs because “that’s what we do” at a time like this: an invitation to dance the hurt away. When it came time for the hoped for Landlady-Sex Mob crossover, the collective turned not to Prince but to another recently fallen icon, adding most of Sex Mob to the Landlady cocktail for a vigorous version of David Bowie’s “Oh! You Pretty Things” that included a free-form jam studded with trumpet and sax and a percussion summit with Chang and Stardrum on the percussion rack and the incomparable Kenny Wollesen behind the kit. There was so much glorious noise at one point it sounded like the band would need to stop and restart the song, but with Landlady, as with Sex Mob, that’s usually where the song comes back out of the woods, surprising and gently chiding you for your concern about the musicians’ ability to not get lost. It was a lovely arrival from two groups that seem sort of insane but, as the poet wrote, are so sane they’ve blown your minds. —Chad Berndtson | @chadberndtson


Marco Benevento Leaves Them Smiling at Music Hall of Williamsburg

April 18th, 2016

Marco Benevento – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 16, 2016

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It’s kinda fun to trace the path that took Marco Benevento from the avant-garde basement of the old Knitting Factory in Tribeca to the point where he was standing atop his piano at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night, towering over the crowd in a black-and-white-and-Dayglo-striped suit, top hat and pink sunglasses like a live-action Dr. Teeth. But it’s a lot more fun to just fully enjoy the moment. And there were plenty of them to be had when the Benevento’s infectious, happy-go-lucky energy—and his backing duo—turned the Brooklyn crowd on its head and everyone just surrendered to the fun.

Of course, you don’t begin an evening by hopping up on your instrument, that’s something you have to build toward. The set opened with “Dropkick,” off the recently released The Story of Fred Short, Benevento singing through the verses before opening into concentric circles of piano jams. Right off, his bandmates—Andrew Borger on drums and Karina Rykman pinch-hitting on bass (regular bassist Dave Dreiwitz playing with Ween across the river)—established themselves as guardians of the groove for the evening. While the crowd was quick to join the party and dance, no one was enjoying themselves as much as the three musicians onstage.  The highlight mid-section of the show was a performance of the entire B-side of the new album, which is a sort of concept record. Played live, the music was an explosive prog-rock disco, each piece finding a deeper and more open-ended funk. Rykman was a revelation, often leading the charge with splatter-paint fuzz bass accented by head slamming, body gyrations and a Cheshire Cat grin. Benevento was equally as animated, both on and off the piano, finding his way into the crowd during “I Can’t See the Light” to dance and pose for pictures.

The second half of the set was heavy on instrumentals from Benevento’s growing catalog, each song showing off Benevento’s skills at composition and improvisation. Sing-along, earworm melodies opened up into penetrating jams, his piano augmented by synth and samples, the music swerving between grooves and deep rocking, Borger and Rykman providing equal parts push and pull. And yes, there was dancing and strutting and piano hopping, and even a couple of unironic “Take it to the bridge” mentions in there as well. For the encore, Benevento brought out opener Mikaela Davis on harp to accompany a nice version of David Bowie’s “Heroes,” which began as just a pensive duet, but when the band returned, with an additional guest—Katie Jacoby on violin—the mood quickly shifted back to giddy party and the follow-up quintet version of the Rolling Stones’ “Let’s Spend the Night Together” was a perfect we’re-gonna-make-your-cheeks-hurt-from-smiling finish to the night. —A. Stein | @Neddyo


Tor Miller Returns to Mercury Lounge to Play the Late Show Tonight

March 4th, 2016

Thanks to his parents, native New Yorker Tor Miller grew up with a keen appreciation for classic rock, like David Bowie, Elton John and Fleetwood Mac. And after taking up the piano as a kid, Miller (above, performing his new single, “Carter and Cash” for Mahogany Sessions) began singing and writing original material. Eventually he headed to NYU to study music. But Miller spent so much time working on songs in his dorm’s basement and performing at local clubs that he eventually ended up leaving school. The upside was that thanks to the buzz he’d generated, the smooth-voiced singer-songwriter signed with Glassnote Records. His debut EP, the terrific four-track Headlights (stream it below), came out a little more than a year ago. And in heaping him with praise, the Guardian said, “There’s a real take-me-to-church quality to his tone.” Of course, you can find out for yourself because, after time overseas, Miller comes home to kick off a new tour on tonight at Mercury Lounge. Brooklyn singer-songwriter Sean McVerry opens the show.


Wilco Take Kings Theatre to Space on Friday Night

February 8th, 2016

Wilco – Kings Theatre – February 5, 2016

Wilco - Kings Theatre - February 5, 2016

Wilco should be feeling a whole lot of love from the Empire State this week because the band had one hell of a New York run last week, including four sold-out shows (two in Port Chester’s Capital Theatre, two in Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre) and a performance of  “Random Name Generator” on The Late Show with Stephen ColbertJeff Tweedy even lulled Colbert to sleep with a lullaby. Friday’s show at Kings Theatre was one part Star Wars, one part a selection of fan favorites and one part an acoustic encore, capped off with a moving sing-along tribute to David Bowie to close the inspired performance.

Star Wars, Wilco’s surprise 2015 release, has been crafted into live perfection at this point. The band’s performed the album in its entirety every night of the tour and added some welcomed embellishments to it. The angular riffs of album-opener “More” kicked off the night. “You Satellite” hit the high-water mark of intensity during this part of the set, swirling around an atmosphere of beautifully noisy guitar wails, complete with the band in front of a shape-shifting starry backdrop. It’s hard to understate just how central guitarist Nels Cline has become to Wilco’s live shows. Two moments in particular stuck out as unleash-the-Nels parts of the night, with searing guitar solos on “Impossible Germany” and “Art of Almost” lighting each song on fire.

Although Wilco found their groove long ago and now wholly own it, that doesn’t allow room for complacency. Instead, it seems to have just given them even more permission to rework their songs, revealing new ways to showcase their song craft. If there ever were a mission statement for the band, this has always been it, and as good of a reason as any to see them live again and again. This was especially on display during their acoustic encore, begun with the softly played “Misunderstood,” a song just as striking in its bare-bones form as it is in its noisier studio incarnation. There was something especially fun about the audience quietly and gently singing along to the usually loud and abrasive refrains of “I’d like to thank you all for nothing at all!” “I’m Always in Love” and the always-haunting “A Shot in the Arm” followed, before the show concluded with a beautiful moment, a cover of Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” made even more beautiful by the grandeur of Kings Theatre and every living soul in the venue singing along. What better way to end a night of the Star Wars tour than with a hat tip to an artist who spent his life pulling down songs from the cosmos. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

Photos courtesy of Adela Loconte | adelaloconte.com


Pond Evoke the Past While Providing a Glimpse at the Future

October 16th, 2014

Pond – The Bowery Ballroom – October 15, 2014

61-atxl1Having never been there, I imagine Australia to be like a bizarro northern hemisphere— perspective is flipped, up is down, the earth spinning in the other direction. For all I know, it’s possible the arrow of time is pointing in the other direction, so a band like Pond isn’t influenced by past greats, but is somehow instead influencing classic rock’s future past. As they tore through their late set last night at The Bowery Ballroom, the Perth quintet evoked the sounds of prog and psych rock—bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis, Black Sabbath and even David Bowie—but made these sounds their own from an alternate universe where those bands don’t even exist yet. Maybe that doesn’t make too much sense, but these are the kinds of things that run through your head when your body and brain are being jostled around by Pond’s live set.

Things got to that place quickly, particularly with “Giant Tortoise,” off last year’s Hobo Rocket, early in the set. With pixilated stripes of primary colors jiggling on the screen behind them, Pond deftly switched gears, high then low then back to high again, propelled by Jay Watson’s superlative drumming. The guys in the band didn’t seem to take themselves too seriously at all. Guitarist and lead singer Nick Allbrook wore a dress more appropriate for a picnic date and a Justin Bieber sweatshirt that only muddled the ensemble, plus he went on a long ad-libbed bit in the middle of “Fantastic Explosion of Time” that touched on a number of topics, including the taste du jour, pumpkin spice.

The music, though, twisted expertly through multisectioned compositions, heavy two-guitar rock-outs and more prog-y interludes. The crowd pulsed with each shift and crescendo, bouncing and bumping around the Ballroom floor. “Don’t Look at the Sun or You’ll Go Blind” was a brilliant Pink Floyd–as-disco jam from their back catalog, while “Xanman” was pure Sabbath fist-pumping energy. As the music pulled in different directions, Pond remained tight, largely on the strength of Watson’s intense playing and focus. The set climaxed with “You Broke My Cool,” off their 2012 album, Beard, Wives, Denim, a dense double helix of psych and funk, and the closing “Midnight Mass (At the Market Street Payphone).” That last tune was pure “save the best for last,” with a long spaced-out bridge zapped with a dreamy slide-guitar riff from Joseph Ryan. Evocative and futuristic all at once, which describes Pond through and through. —A. Stein

(Pond play Rough Trade NYC on Saturday.)


Twin Peaks Bring New Tunes to Mercury Lounge Tomorrow Night

August 12th, 2014

While it might often feel like most young, up-and-coming groups play electronic music or skew toward the New Age of folk, some bands just want to rock, and thankfully Twin Peaks are one of them. Stereogum recently proclaimed them a Band to Watch, and NME labeled them “Chicago’s most promising new band.” The four guys in the reverb-loving garage-rock outfit—Cadien Lake James (vocals and guitar), Connor Brodner (drums), Jack Dolan (vocals and bass) and Clay Frankel (vocals and guitar)—have known one another since elementary school. And they bill themselves as “four doods, gnarly ’tudes, total hunks, play to drunks” influenced by David Bowie and Marc Bolan. “You know, rock and roll still rocks on. Just because we all have computers and anybody can listen to anything, people are still digging back and finding the good shit on their computers. And they’re like, ‘Oh, the good shit has got some real instruments and shit.’ Not that synthesizers don’t have their place, but I like real instruments,” James told Stereogum. Twin Peaks (above, doing “Irene” live in studio for KEXP FM) put out their debut album, the lo-fi Sunken (stream it below), last year, and per Pitchfork, “Sunken is less than 20 minutes long, but it packs a lot of cooler and verve into that blink of an eye.” The quartet returned this year with the just-released Wild Onion (stream it below). And Consequence of Sound weighed in with a ringing endorsement: “The lesson here might be to never judge a band by its age. With just two records to their credit, Twin Peaks are quieting dissenters who might have thought they were too young or too brash to use the riches of ’60s and ’70s sounds to their scrappy advantage. Rather than a barrier, the band’s youthfulness might be their biggest weapon. They’ve (hopefully) got years ahead of them still, and listening to Wild Onion just makes you hungry to see what else they have in store.” See Twin Peaks play Mercury Lounge tomorrow night. Another Chicago band, the Lemons, open the show.


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

Exclusive Video: Diamond Rings Goes Acoustic

July 11th, 2013

When the post-punk quartet the D’Urbervilles took a break in 2008, singer-guitarist John O’Regan began working on the solo project Diamond Rings. And even though he became known for channeling the glam androgyny of David Bowie and Annie Lennox, the raw but hook-laden synth-pop of his 2010 album, Special Affections, spoke for itself. Diamond Rings returned last year with a bigger and bolder follow-up, Free Dimensional. But it’s still his songwriting that shines through, even when stripped of all the trappings of modern pop, never more apparent than in this take on “All the Time” in a SoHo apartment.

You can see Diamond Rings in person when he opens for OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) next Wednesday at Terminal 5. And for even more John O, watch his acoustic performance of “Put Me On” and check out his wide-ranging interview about his first solo song, his first musical memory and plenty more.