Tag Archives: Explosions in the Sky


It’s the End of the Year as We Know It

December 28th, 2017

With 2018 fast approaching, The House List takes a look back at 2017.

Adela Loconte, Photographer @adelaloconte
Top Five Favorite Shows
At the Drive-In, Terminal 5, March 22
2. Arca & Jesse Kanda Live, Brooklyn Steel, July 6
3. The Flaming Lips, Terminal 5, March 9
4. PJ Harvey, Brooklyn Steel, April 20
5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kings Theatre, November 7

Chad Berndtson, Writer @cberndtson
Top Five Favorite Shows
No music fan sees everything, and so much depends on the time, the night, the conditions—my ephemeral joys might be your disappointments. That’s part of the fun, right? Among scores of shows I saw in 2017, here are five nights that stuck with me.
1. Drive By Truckers, The Space at Westbury, February 10
One of the great live bands of the last 20 years has gotten leaner and meaner, unafraid of political jabs or paint-peeler guitar solos.
2. Explosions in the Sky, Capitol Theatre, April 22
Ominous music, loaded with portent, staring into the abyss or looking with a smile at some triumph high in the sky. Heavy, cinematic and deep.
3. Jerry Joseph & the Jackmormons, Mercury Lounge, April 30
A master class in old-school, highly emotional rock energy. Still don’t understand why more people don’t know him, 30-plus years into a career of rough-scuffed folk rock delivered sometimes with tenderness and sometimes with Crazy Horse–like abandon.
4. The xx, Forest Hills Stadium, May 19
OK, I’m buying: Hipster as hell, but what they did was paint an outdoor venue in darkly beautiful soundscapes. The most fun I’ve had getting lost in a band in some time. They turn large, unforgiving venues into intimate listening rooms—and get you dancing.
5. Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Music Hall of Williamsburg, November 20
Nelson has learned a lot from two musical dads: his actual dad, Willie, and also Neil Young, whom the Promise of the Real have backed on and off for years now. The type of show that defines the word swagger—a generous meal of rock, country, folk, blues and R&B by an old-school showman barely in his prime.

Dan Rickershauser, Writer @d4nricks
Top Five Favorite Albums
Big Thief, Capacity
The one record I found myself returning to again and again. It was a shitty year, but something about this album soothed my sorrows. Adrianne Lenker’s songs feel personal yet completely pull you in. May she never let go.
2. Kendrick Lamar, Damn.
This may be my least favorite Kendrick Lamar record to date and yet it’s still the second best album that came out this year. The man’s a legend and the world seems to know it. It’s a good thing he’s so humble.
3. The War on Drugs, A Deeper Understanding
Adam Granduciel, the obsessive studio wizard, put out another beauty, this record even more gorgeous than the last. It’s the sound of rock perfection from a perfectionist.
4. Waxahatchee, Out in the Storm
Katie Crutchfield’s songwriting just keeps getting better. She comes out of the gates swinging with some dangerously catchy jams.
5. Grizzly Bear, Painted Ruins
Of all the great indie bands of the late Aughts returning with new albums this year, Grizzly Bear’s takes the cake. Way too many critics slept on this one!

Pat King, Writer @mrpatking
Top Five Favorite Albums
1. Jens Lekman, Life Will See You Now
I had never really given Jens Lekman a chance as a songwriter, but this year it finally clicked for me in a big way. I got laid off from a job that I thought I loved early on in 2017 and was feeling pretty lost and listless in life. I was taking the train from the city to upstate New York to help my dad with a few big projects and was feeling incredibly low sitting alone on Metro North. All of the sudden, I heard “To Know Your Mission” and was completely overcome with emotion. It was the perfect tune for me at that time and each song that followed helped me understand my situation a little more clearly. I couldn’t believe how wise and endearing Lekman is as a lyricist.
2. Mark Mulcahy, The Possum in the Driveway
Whenever the discussion veers toward musicians who have not been given their just dues, I always think of Mark Mulcahy. As the frontman of Miracle Legion and the Nickelodeon-sponsored Polaris (“ay-yay-yay-yi, Hey Sandy”), Mulcahy had been known for a certain type of feel-good college jangle pop that was certainly a product of the ’90s. What many people may not realize is that his solo releases have been more emotionally and musically rewarding than either of those old projects, and he’s been one of few artists who each album he releases is better than his last. Over the past couple of decades he has reinvented himself as one of the great American balladeers, with lyrics and a voice that can cut you down to the bone. This year’s the Possum in the Driveway is a brilliant testament to his powers as a songwriter and one that proves he is in a league of his own.
3. Pallbearer, Heartless
Pallbearer have always shown promise of being one the best doom-metal bands around. But with their self-titled third album, they’ve transcended the genre and gelled into one of today’s most exciting rock bands. The songs are slightly shorter (although still around eight minutes) but have somehow intensified their scope in a more epic way. With this LP, Brett Campbell has made his case for being one of the best singers in heavy music. His lines never reach the outrageous heights of some of his peers in metal but bring enough power to stop you in your tracks. The same goes for this record’s instrumentation. The songs never feel like they have too many parts or get played out to the point of metal parody. It’s just a front-to-back banger that finally cemented Pallbearer as one of the best around.
4. Björk, Utopia
There aren’t many artists who you could say are peerless in popular music. Björk is definitely one of those artists. Every time she releases a new album, fans wait with anticipation to see where she if she will be able to clear the bar she set for herself on the one before. Utopia is such a statement as a complete work as she tries to understand and find happiness in her life after exploring decimating heartbreak on her last release, Vulnicura. It’s amazing to hear her reach the same breathtaking heights as a visionary artist this far into her career. Bow down and give respect.
5. Robyn Hitchcock, Robyn Hitchcock
Robyn Hitchcock delivered the back-to-basics Soft Boys–style album that many of his fans had been longing for for years. Teaming up with producer (and ex-Raconteur) Brendan Benson, Hitchcock turned up the amps and delivered 10 near-flawless rock songs that reminded us why he is one of the most inventive songwriters around. His wit as a lyricist is still ever-present, but hearing him deliver guitar parts reminiscent of Underwater Moonlight on songs like “I Want to Tell You What I Want” and “Mad Shelley’s Letterbox” was one of the most welcome surprises of 2017 for me.
Pat King’s Top 20 Best of 2017 Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/126049064/playlist/2idgUHVCiGSJqKkwkfex8v?si=wewT–RFRfWWxEVV3rmWsQ.

Sharlene Chiu, Writer
Top Five Favorite Shows with “New” Artists
1. SZA, Brooklyn Steel, December 10

So if you haven’t yet heard of SZA, you won’t be able to escape her name anytime soon. Riding a debut album that has already produced two platinum singles, the singer played a very sold-out Brooklyn Steel the night after performing on SNL. Her vibrant stage presence was supported by the Sing Harlem Choir. Girl’s going places and you’ll see her next year at the Grammy’s, where she’s the most nominated woman with five nods.
2. Maggie Rogers, The Bowery Ballroom, April 11
When a video of Pharrell’s reaction to Ms. Rogers’ demo of “Alaska” went viral, she was on the up-and-up. Her performance at a sold-out Bowery Ballroom was not only a homecoming, but it was also a beginning of bigger stages and larger audiences. She became teary and confessional near the end of the set, reminiscing about the previous times she’d been to the venue as an audience member. After her pair of Bowery shows, she set off on a whirlwind international tour taking her to Europe, Australia and Japan.
3. The Cactus Blossoms, Mercury Lounge, July 12
The first time I caught the Cactus Blossoms’ noir-infused honky-tonk was at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco last year. When I saw they would be playing a late show at Mercury Lounge, I had to be there. Friends, I do not go out late on school nights, but for brothers Page Burkum and Jack Torrey, I made an exception. Their languid waltzes were the perfect soundtrack for steamy July.
4. Jay Som, Rough Trade NYC, June 6
A triad of Asian-American songwriters, including Mitski, Japanese Breakfast and Jay Som have been self-producing music since last year. The latter rolled into a sold-out Rough Trade NYC to charm the crowd with not only her skilled musicianship, but also with her charming wit. Som was recently shortlisted by NPR’s All Songs Considered in their year-end best of 2017.
5. Violents and Monica Martin, Rough Trade NYC, April 26
OK, this one isn’t technically new, but the pairing was. Monica Martin, best known as the frontwoman for the now-on-hiatus Phox, and producer Jeremy Larson aka Violents teamed up for this rare tour. Larson has collaborated with female vocalists before, but this one was special. Songs were paired with cinematic footage ranging from scenes from House Party to sweeping black-and-white scenery. What still sticks in my memory was a haunting cover of Frank Ocean’s “Self Control.”






Explosions in the Sky Electrify Terminal 5

September 23rd, 2016

Explosions in the Sky – Terminal 5 – September 22, 2016

Explosions in the Sky – Terminal 5 – September 22, 2016
Texas band Explosions in the Sky are masters of for providing the soundtrack for pivotal moments in film and television. They are most commonly associated with Friday Night Lights, both the film and the television series, but their music also has graced documentaries, video game promos and a slew of major motion pictures. With their seventh studio album, The Wilderness, a departure from scoring TV and film has afforded the music to sit on its own without football victories or dramatic human narratives to cast scenes. The songs remain empty vessels for listeners to create memories rather than fabricated ones from celluloid. For this instrumental band, the live orchestrations truly take flight in any venue, but it was especially vibrant last night at a sold-out Terminal 5.

What could be described as one of their mellower songs, the title track from their latest opened the evening against an intro of melodic keys. The stage setup was sandwiched between floodlights toward the back and strobe lights in the front, which swayed throughout the performance. Blue streams of lights bathed the quintet as the percolating sound of effects of “The Ecstatics” demonstrated an almost waterfall-like feeling, and laser-like red beams replicated acid rain for “Greet Death.” The performance teetered between harmony and chaos, where lighting was the sixth man of the band. Pulsating floor lights exclaimed the crescendo that welcomed “With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept,” and fittingly a prism wall of light highlighted “Colors in Space.” The group saved the best for last offering crowd favorite “Your Hand in Mine” followed by the noisy “Disintegration Anxiety,” before ending with “The Only Moment We Were Alone,” as the shredding of guitars came to an abrupt halt timed perfectly to a cloak of darkness. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Brian C. Reilly | www.briancreilly.com


A Saturday Night of Cool Space Rock at The Bowery Ballroom

December 26th, 2014

David Bello (vocals), Josh Cyr (bass), Derrick Shanholtzer-Dvorak (guitar and vocals), Greg Horbal (guitar and vocals), Steven Buttery (drums), Chris Teti (guitar and trumpet), Katie Shanholtzer-Dvorak (keys and vocals), Chris Zizzamia (poetry and spoken word) and Tyler Bussey (guitar and vocals) have been making music together as the atmospheric-emo collective the World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die (above, doing “Heartbeat in the Brain” for Audiotree Live) since forming in northeast Connecticut five years ago. Their sound is somewhere in the Venn diagram overlap of Explosions in the Sky and Sunny Day Real Estate. They put out a number of singles, splits and EPs before their debut LP, Whenever, If Ever (stream it below), came out last year. And according to PopMatters, the album is filled with “songs you shout along to in crowded basements, at all-ages venues…. This is the best possible first LP to follow all those one-offs and shorts EPs. While not long, it spreads out along record sides, stretching its legs. This group has always had the power to make something very new, and hopefully, in their evolution into bigger and brighter places, the World Is a Beautiful Place… only expand more and more.” Catch their last live performance of the year tomorrow night at The Bowery Ballroom. Columbus, Ohio, four-piece Saintseneca and Pittsburgh quartet Brightside open the show.


Join In on the Fun When Four Tet Plays Terminal 5 on Saturday

February 20th, 2014

Kieran Hebden’s initial foray into the music business was as part of the post-rock UK trio Fridge. But when the other two members headed off to college, Hebden forged new ground mixing hip-hop and electronica as the experimental-electronic musician Four Tet. He began looping and splicing samples on his computer and went on to release his debut full-length, Dialogue, in 1999. In a glowing review, NME called it “uneven, but in the best possible way.” Hebden has remained busy ever since, remixing other artists—Thom Yorke, Super Furry Animals, Explosions in the Sky—and touring alongside big-name acts like Radiohead, all the while still finding time to make new music. Four Tet (above, performing “Love Cry”) put out his seventh LP, the critically acclaimed Beautiful Rewind, last October. Rolling Stone mentions that it “remains otherworldly in its mix of finesse and raucous musical adventure.” Join the dance party when Four Tet plays Terminal 5 on Saturday.


Lanterns on the Lake Play Two New York City Shows This Week

February 4th, 2014

Lanterns on the Lake—Hazel Wilde (vocals and guitar), Paul Gregory (guitar and vocals), Oliver Ketteringham (drums and piano), Sarah Kemp (violin and accordion) and Andrew Scrogham (bass)—formed in Newcastle upon Tyne, England in 2007. But they didn’t release their first full-length, Gracious Tide, Take Me Home (stream it below), until four years later. AllMusic said it “plays to the band’s beautifully swooning strengths, and in doing so, produces one of the most majestic debuts from a British act this year.” The English five-piece (above, performing “Ships in the Rain” for BeatCast) delivered their second LP, Until the Colours Run (stream it below), late last year, although it arrived in
the U.S. less than a month ago. This time AllMusic opined, “The wonderful cinematic soundscapes on second album Until the Colours Run are less focused on the hometown musings that dominated their first effort; here they delve deeper into darker, introspective moods that unfurl into surging guitars and rolling drums reminiscent of Explosions in the Sky.” Lanterns on the Lake are currently winding down their North American tour, which brings them to New York City for a pair of shows, on Thursday at Mercury Lounge and then on Friday at Baby’s All Right.


Explosions in the Sky – The Wellmont Theatre – October 3, 2011

October 4th, 2011

Photos courtesy of Brian C. Reilly | www.briancreilly.com


Lush Soundscapes in a Plush Room

April 7th, 2011

Explosions in the Sky – Radio City Music Hall – April 6, 2011

From moody and meditative to lush and orchestral, Explosions in the Sky aptly convey emotions without saying a word. The Austin, Texas, band sold out Radio City Music Hall last night, no mean feat for an instrumental-rock group, even one with a new album, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, out in a few weeks. Wordless music often leads to chatty audiences, but the seated crowd was attentive and responsive, growing loudest for bits of unrestrained guitar fury.

The cinematic music—slow-burning songs that swell into grand crescendos before gently concluding—sounded pristine and at home inside the famed venue. Each of the band’s tunes covers a fair amount of terrain, ultimately coming off as the soundtrack to whatever you’re thinking or feeling while you hear them (especially if you close your eyes). They played for about 75 minutes, essentially straight through, pausing very briefly, if at all, between songs.

This was Explosions in the Sky’s biggest show to date, in stature and in size, and it seemed totally appropriate of its sumptuous surroundings. Although the band appeared small on the massive Radio City stage, their giant, swirling soundscapes easily filled the room. And despite several songs hovering around the 10-minute mark, the music never lingered and there were no indulgent solos. It’s a simple equation: No frontman. No vocals. No problem. —R. Zizmor


An Instrumental Soundtrack to a Movie That Doesn’t Exist

July 1st, 2009

Explosions in the Sky – SummerStage – June 30, 2009

Explosions in the SkyHow do four unassuming guys from Austin, Texas, sell out the Central Park SummerStage? By letting the music speak for itself. This was the perfect venue for Explosions in the Sky’s 10th anniversary—open to the sky, the epic instrumentation echoing the dramatic landscape of towering buildings surrounding the park as the sun went down and the light faded.

This is not a conventional group. They have a deliberate anti-star image. Without a real frontman, you’re left to approach the band as a whole entity. No one is introducing the songs, no one is getting the crowd going. There’s no typical stage show, aside from watching guitarist Munaf Rayani sway, back to the crowd, in his own world. Yet last night the entire audience spontaneously reacted to every rise and fall in rhythm with cheers, even clapping along to the song “Catastrophe and the Cure” as they realized it was all coming to an end.

Since the beginning of their career, Explosions in the Sky have defied the conventions of song structure in a surprisingly accessible way, as the turnout of 5,000 fans attested. The music is all about the timing, allowing for space, letting everything breathe, forgetting about the prescribed standards of pop-music length. As the music is instrumental, it’s not about the individual songs—this is meant to be experienced as an entire movement, not unlike a symphony: all at once, uninterrupted, alternating between delicate melodies and erupting passages. It’s a soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist.

Contrary to another live-rock custom, they don’t play an encore at the slightest provocation. Last night was no exception. When they ended the set with “The Only Moment We’re Alone,” they gave it everything, throwing themselves into the massive soaring guitars. There’s nothing left but the ringing in your ears. —Jason Dean