Tag Archives: Lambchop


David Bazan Goes Deep at Rough Trade NYC on Thursday

November 10th, 2017

David Bazan – Rough Trade NYC – November 9, 2017

The opening verse of “Magazine” pretty much sums up the inner conflict that singer-songwriter David Bazan—of the beloved indie-rock outfit Pedro the Lion—has been struggling through his entire career. Once an evangelical Christian, he’s challenged his faith with each release in a way that never pulls any punches. After four full-lengths and five EPs, Bazan decided to retire the band name in order to go solo and explore his relationship with faith without the religious baggage his old band carried. Any longtime fan of his songwriting would be able to tell you that his relationship to the church was never an issue. As a lyricist, Bazan has always been able to pull apart the complex equations that everyday people spend their entire lives trying to solve. In the years since Pedro’s demise, he’s remained prolific, releasing albums and singles under his own name as well as launching many different side projects (his group Lo Tom, played Rough Trade NYC over the summer). Last month, Bazan announced that he would be reviving Pedro for a string of reunion shows this winter as well as plans to record and tour again as a working unit.

But before he can get to work on that, Bazan is finishing up promoting his most recent solo album, Care, which brought his tour to Brooklyn to play Rough Trade NYC last night along with singer-songwriter Michael Nau of Page France. Nau set the tone with a short set of laid-back songs accompanied by a lead guitarist, upright bassist and a drum machine that he’d program in between numbers. His material took on a trance-inducing quality that recalled Lambchop at their most ethereal with lyrics that seemed heartbreakinghly personal. Shortly after, Bazan took the stage backed by a three-piece. And for the most part, he and his band kept it “strictly business” as they plowed through material from Care and his 2016 LP, Blanco, with little talking in between songs, aside from a brief intermission when he took questions from the crowd. Both albums had been a slight sonic departure for Bazan, as they each strictly used synths and drum machines—so it was great to hear these songs getting the heavier band treatment live. He delighted the crowd with a few old Pedro songs, like “When They Really Get to Know You They Will Run” and “Penetration,” and even dusted off the old Headphones tune “Gas and Matches.”

For the encore, Bazan took questions for the second time of the night. As expected, most of them had to do with the Pedro reunion, and he was frank and honest with his answers, explaining that the decision was made in order to tour and record music “as a band” again and to bring his music to a much larger audience. For a sometimes frustratingly overlooked force in the world of indie rock, it’s hard to blame him. He also assured the crowd that the Pedro tour would make its way to New York City in the future but would have to keep us in suspense as to when. He and his band then closed with the opening song off of Pedro’s final album, Achilles Heel, “Bands With Managers,” which had everyone singing along in unison. —Pat King | @MrPatKing


Lambchop Paint a Pretty Picture at The Bowery Ballroom

March 31st, 2017

Lambchop – The Bowery Ballroom – March 30, 2017

Lambchop – The Bowery Ballroom – March 30, 2017
There’s a deep reverence fans have for Lambchop—you can hear it in the silence that takes over the audience right before the band begins to play. Last night at The Bowery Ballroom, this silence left nothing but the sounds of Delancey Street traffic and bartenders shaking up cocktails in the few seconds Lambchop’s music began to fill the void. Frontman Kurt Wagner treats his music the way a painter would: Each album is a chance for reinvention, with different media opening up the possibilities of what fills the canvas. For the latest Lambchop album, FLOTUS, the new medium is electronic beats and vocal effects, splintering Wagner’s gentle yet husky baritone voice into a full landscape of melody.

On the set-opening “NIV,” Wagner’s voice sounded almost alien, grounded only by the song’s gentle arpeggios. Taking a page out of the book of their friends in Yo La Tengo, Wagner knew that if he could milk the power out of a song’s quieter moments, it would only feel more powerful as the song grew louder. On “The Hustle,” this slow build from powerful soft to powerful loud happened slowly yet still managed to somehow catch concertgoers off guard. These new sounds they’re playing with at this point in their long career blow sonic possibilities wide open. “Directions to the Can” was almost like trip-hop and had Wagner full-out dancing by the track’s conclusion. “In Care of 8675309” featured a refrain that sounded like it was trying to break free from the song after each verse.

“This next song Kurt wrote while we were playing the last one,” said the always-wisecracking keyboardist Tony Crow as he introduced “The New Cobweb of Summer.” Crow’s stage banter is the stuff of legend, itself worth the price of admission. “It’s not as hard as it looks, Kurt. A lot of things are harder,” he added after Wagner introduced him, going on to list a series of activities that included kayaking and cooking. Lambchop finished with the delicately acoustic “My Blue Wave” and a gorgeous rendition of Prince’s “When You Were Mine,” the song sounding next to nothing like the original. Consider it a painter’s take on the landscape before him with the supplies at hand. Lucky for Lambchop fans, Wagner’s art supplies seem endless. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com


Embrace Your Inner Folkie with Josh Rouse on Saturday Night

April 26th, 2013

After a youth spent moving around the Midwest, with music as one of his only constants, singer-songwriter Josh Rouse found a home in Tennessee, where he began making music with local musicians. Those initial songs ended up being the basis for his roots- and folk-filled debut, Dressed Up Like Nebraska, out in 1998. Geography obviously plays an important role in the talented composer’s work, noting his first LP’s title, 2005’s Nasvhille, named after his adopted hometown, and his 2007 follow-up, Subtítulo, on the heals of moving to Spain. And despite his winning solo work, Rouse (above, performing “A Lot Like Magic” for Rhapsody at this year’s SXSW) plays well with others: Witness his pairing with Lambchop frontman Kurt Wagner on the EP Chester and Rouse’s ongoing work with producer Brad Jones, including the recently released, Americana-tinged The Happiness Waltz (stream it below), filled with songs that could easily get stuck in your head. Join him in singing them aloud tomorrow night at The Bowery Ballroom.


See the Talented William Tyler Tonight at Mercury Lounge

April 16th, 2013

For quite some time, masterful guitarist William Tyler remained busy recording and touring with such acts as Silver Jews, Lambchop and Bonnie “Prince” Billy before he eventually decided to make his own music—a winning brand of acoustic guitar instrumentals. His debut LP, the much-heralded Behold the Spirit, came out in 2011. And things went so well the first time around that Tyler (above, playing “A Portrait of Sarah”) has returned with another acclaimed album, last month’s Impossible Truth (stream it below), which, according to SPIN, “is cyclical, spiritual, innately visual music, as striking in the background as it is intense on headphones.” In other words, it rules. And you ought to be able to hear a healthy chunk of it tonight at Mercury Lounge.


Influential Label Showcases Talent

October 19th, 2012

Merge Records Showcase – Mercury Lounge – October 18, 2012

Mount Moriah (Photo: Dan Rickershauser)

One could argue that no other independent label from the past 20 years has released as many instant classics as Merge Records. After all, they gave the OK for the Magnetic Fields to put out a three-album collection of 69 love songs, they introduced bands like Neutral Milk Hotel and Arcade Fire to the world and they gave a rock act by the name of Spoon a second chance. So it’s safe to say that Merge is on a bit of a hot streak that might not be cooling off anytime soon. While any given day of the CMJ Music Marathon is a somewhat frantic race to absorb as much great music as possible, last night’s Merge showcase at Mercury Lounge, spanning almost seven hours and six different acts, was something of a cruel temptation and a great excuse for ruining the following workday by staying out past 2 a.m.

“It’s kind of hard to follow your label boss, though I’m sure he’d hate to be called that,” said Eleanor Friedberger, taking the stage after a set from Superchunk frontman and Merge Records cofounder Mac McCaughan. Friedberger played a solo acoustic set with some “in the works” new material that could come out early next year. She was followed by a searing set from Mount Moriah. “We’re Mount Moriah. We’re from Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and we’re really excited to put some records out on Merge,” said lead singer Heather McEntire. The set sampled songs off their self-titled debut, as well as some new tunes from their upcoming album. The band’s sound is familiar yet unique, a strange combination of all genres Americana (blues, rock, country, soul, gospel).

It makes sense that as of September they’re sharing a label with acts like Lambchop, self-proclaimed “Nashville’s most fuckedup country band.” Between Mount Moriah and another recent Merge signee (and show opener), William Tyler, it will be interesting to see if the label can continue to push the boundaries of country music, bringing this strange new iteration of the genre to music fans usually repulsed by the word country. “We’ve been listening to a lot of the Allman Brothers Band—I don’t know if you could tell,” said McEntire after firing through a particularly bluesy-rock new song. You could tell, but this was a very good thing. If the past is any indicator, 2013 should be a huge year for some or even all of these bands. And if the performances last night are any indicator, it probably will be. —Dan Rickershauser