Tag Archives: Mercury Lounge

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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
1.
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
1.
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.”

 

 

 

 

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A Double Shot of Soul with Durand Jones & the Indications Next Week

August 25th, 2017

Like someone out of a CCR song, soul singer Durand Jones was born on the bayou in New Orleans and raised in rural Louisiana. Influenced by the likes of Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Al Green, he sang so much at home that his grandmother forced him to join their church’s choir. Eventually Durand decamped to Bloomington, Ind., for college and began collaborating with Aaron Frazer (drums) and Blake Rhein (guitar), writing and recording numbers about “the party, political and social consciousness, and love songs,” Durand told the Something Else. The first Durand Jones & the Indications album, a self-titled EP (stream it below), arrived in 2016. It hearkens “back to a time when soul was recorded, performed and (if possible) heard live. Their music is markedly different from most stuff of its ilk coming out today in that, if there is some electronic wizardry going on under the hood, it’s kept very far away from the musical performance—it’s the kind of thing which should be completely reproducible live, all performed and no sampling or remixing,” according to PopMatters. Winding down their summer tour, Durand Jones & the Indications (above doing “Smile” for Spectra Sonic Sound Sessions) stop in New York City next week to play Mercury Lounge on Monday and Rough Trade NYC on Tuesday.

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Two Nights of Dark Pop with In the Valley Below in NYC This Week

August 16th, 2017

As In the Valley Below, Jeffrey Jacob (vocals and guitar) and Angela Gail (vocals and keys) are what AllMusic calls “a Los Angeles–based duo with a penchant for crafting stylish, noir-kissed blasts of dark electro-pop.” Their debut full-length, The Belt (stream it below), arrived in 2014. “Belts can hurt you if used as a weapon, but they can also hold your pants up, and In the Valley Below do a deft job of exploring both polarities with their music,” said PopMatters. About a month ago, In the Valley Below (above, performing “Peaches” live for Wilcox Sessions) put out their fourth EP, Elephant (stream it below). “With so much going wrong in the world today, there are a plethora of songs inspired by the darker side of life. The uniqueness of In the Valley Below is that they do not phone in the music or the message when they create their art,” rang in Impose. “They believe that in order to have the most effect, they must reach the largest audience with genuinely good music, and it shows. This EP comes from a authentic mindset, raising awareness for important issues, and it doesn’t hurt that the songs are great to listen to.” They’re also great to experience live, which you can do on Thursday at Mercury Lounge and on Saturday at Rough Trade NYC. Electronic five-piece Flagship open both shows.

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Slothrust Play a Hometown Show at Music Hall of Williamsburg

August 10th, 2017

Leah Wellbaum (vocals and guitar), Kyle Bann (bass) and Will Gorin (drums) met while studying music at Sarah Lawrence College and went on to form the Brooklyn band Slothrust. “Blending apathetic vocal delivery and sludgy guitars with a sound rooted in punchy blues, grunge revivalists Slothrust breathe newfound life into the angsty sounds of the ’90s,” according to AllMusic. “People have always had trouble comparing us to other bands, but someone recently described us as Nirvana meets Wynton Marsalis, and I loved that,” said Wellbaum. The band’s third release, Everyone Else (stream it below), dropped last fall. “This is an album for music lovers who can appreciate the achievements of a band that’s hitting its stride and has the ability to capture the best of rock, jazz and blues on one album,” per Art for Progress. And with their summer tour winding down, Slothrust (above, performing “Rotten Pumpkin” for Audiotree Live) come home to Brooklyn to play Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday night. Arrive early to catch Maine trio Tancred and New York City’s Mal Blum & the Blums opening the show.

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Zeshan B Brings a Unique Take on Soul to Mercury Lounge on Friday

August 10th, 2017

Zeshan Bagewadi grew up in Chicago, the son of Indian immigrants, picking up blues, funk, rock and soul courtesy of his dad’s music collection. But he’s not only into the hard-driving rhythms and horn-heavy sounds of the ’60s and ’70s—he’s also equally interested in that period’s social activism. And as a result, the debut Zeshan B (above, performing “Ain’t No Love (In the Heart of the City)”) studio full-length, Vetted (stream it below), arrived earlier this year as “the full encompassment of Zeshan B’s vision for an album depicting his life as a Muslim and Indian-American in the Trump era,” according to PopMatters. “He does so with undeniable heart-rending soul. Vetted is an album for the awoken, as well as those who still need to be shaken by the shoulders a bit to wake up.” Don’t miss this unique, talented voice live at the late show on Friday at Mercury Lounge.

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Catch Future Thieves Early at Mercury Lounge on Tuesday Night

August 7th, 2017

Elliot Collett (vocals and guitar), Austin McCool (guitar), Nick Goss (drums) and Gianni Gibson (drums) have been making ethereal alternative rock—in the vein of Kings of Leon, My Morning Jacket and Delta Spirit—ever since forming Future Thieves four years ago in Nashville, Tenn. Their debut full-length, Horizon Line (stream it below), arrived in 2015. And earlier this year, Future Thieves (above, performing “Soon”) put out Live at Blue Rock (stream it below), which Guitar World calls a “collection of turbo-charged Americana tunes.” Now out on the road, they play Mercury Lounge tomorrow night. Funky Bronx four-piece Thelvnguage open the show.

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Grace Mitchell – Mercury Lounge – August 2, 2017

August 3rd, 2017

Photos courtesy of DeShaun Craddock | dac.photography

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Tweed and the McLovins Play Late at Mercury Lounge This Weekend

August 3rd, 2017

Philly four-piece Tweed—AJ DiBiase (guitar and vocals), Joe Vela (drums), Jon Tomczak (synths and vocals) and Dan McDonald (bass and vocals)—have been getting people to the dance floor with their infectious mash-up of funk, rock and electronics, not to mention their improvisation-filled high-energy live performances. And following Phish at the Garden, you can keep the good times going with Tweed (above, covering “You Can Call Me Al”) playing late night at Mercury Lounge on Friday night. Brooklyn progressive-funk quartet the Phryg open the show.

Another improvisational quartet, the McLovins (above, doing “Buildin’ It Up”)—Jake Huffman (drums and vocals), Jason Ott (bass and vocals), Justin Berger (guitar and vocals) and Atticus Kelly (keys and vocals)—also do late-night duty after Phish this weekend, playing Mercury Lounge on Saturday night. The Hartford band’s most recent album, a self-titled affair (stream it below), out in 2015, is filled with the progressive mix of rock, funk, jazz and soul you can expect to witness live on Saturday night.

 

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Grace Mitchell Makes Her NYC Headlining Debut at Mercury Lounge

August 1st, 2017

Portland, Ore., singer-songwriter and mult-instrumentalist Grace Mitchell (above, peforming “Kids (Ain’t All Right)”) quickly earned comparisons to Halsey, Lorde and Lana Del Rey when, still in her mid-teens, she put out a pair of EPs, Design (stream it below) and Raceday (stream it below), in 2014-15, filled with electronic- and R&B-fueled pop. The genre-bending musician has recently been releasing singles, and with a debut long-player due to arrive later this year, she makes her New York City headlining debut tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge. Local electro-pop duo Frances Rose open the show.

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Aussie Bluesman C.W. Stoneking Plays Mercury Lounge Tomorrow

July 26th, 2017

Australian blues musician C.W. Stoneking already had two solid albums behind him by the time he released Gon’ Boogaloo (stream it below) in 2014, the record that revealed the deeper, darker mojo of his sound that the first two only nodded toward. Undoubtedly it felt heavier. Stoneking went toward an electric six-string approach—favoring a Fender Jazzmaster—rather than the National steel and banjo formats from earlier. But he framed those gnarlier guitar sonics still in the gospel, ragtime and swaggering Delta blues he loves, and sweetened it a bit with backup singers. Stoneking is pure old-timey mojo. It takes a certain someone with a certain something to acquit numbers like “The Zombie” (performed live, above) or lines like “Down where the drums go boom, baba-boom, baba-boom, mm-mm/ Anybody see me, sure ’bout to meet their doom” and not have it sound like some kind of Cab Calloway–aping approximation of bullshit hoodoo or junior-league Tom Waits. Instead, thanks to Stoneking’s style and distinctive voice, it’s awesome, haunting and thick with tension, while not so self-serious that it loses the entertainment value—Stoneking once admitted that his song “Jungle Blues” was inspired as much by the keyboard in 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” as it was 1920 and 1930s hellhound-on-trail stuff—or devolves into lo-fi howling just ’cause there might be a full moon tonight. “I take inspiration from all sorts of music, from locations all around the world and different time periods,” he told PopMatters in 2016. “I make my own thing, which, depending on your frame of reference might sound like any one of those but to me, knowing my process, it’s a different thing altogether.” Stoneking plays the early show at Mercury Lounge on Thursday. Get there early for Moist Paula’s Bliss Station, featuring bari saxophonist extraordinare Moist Paula (Moisturizer, Rev. Vince Anderson, Binky Griptite and many more) in a sax-bass-drums format. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson

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RAQ Play Late After Phish at Mercury Lounge on Friday and Saturday

July 20th, 2017

The guys in RAQJay Burwick (bass and vocals), Chris Michetti (guitar and vocals), Todd Stoops (keys and vocals) and Scotty Zwang (drums)—formed the experimental, improvisational jam band in Burlington, Vt., at the turn of the century. They’ve been winning over fans ever since thanks to their complex song structures and quirky-yet-accessible lyrics. And with Phish kicking off 13 dates at Madison Square Garden beginning tomorrow night, RAQ (above, doing “Beauregard”) will be handling late-night duties on Friday and then again on Saturday at Mercury Lounge.

 

 

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The Cactus Blossoms Keep Mercury Lounge Cool on a Hot Night

July 13th, 2017

The Cactus Blossoms – Mercury Lounge – July 12, 2017


Honky-tonk noir anyone? Well you’re in luck because Minnesotan brothers Jack Torrey and Page Burkum are serving up just what you’re craving as the Cactus Blossoms. They resemble a blend of vintage sibling pairs, with the harmonies of the Everly Brothers and the bittersweet waltz of Santo & Johnny’s “Sleep Walk.” It’s not surprising that the two made their national-TV debut on the recently rebooted Twin Peaks: The Return, playing the melancholic “Mississippi” as the third-episode outro. After a string of Midwestern dates opening for Jenny Lewis, the duo returned Stateside following a quick European tour to grace Mercury Lounge with a late-night session on Thursday.

Playing to a sold-out crowd, Torrey hit the stage last apologizing for the late start as he was locked in the bathroom. Thankfully freed, the reunion produced an evening of sweet Southern charm as the Cactus Blossoms played a large portion of their debut full-length album, You’re Dreaming. The title track had the crowd soaring to the brothers’ harmonies, followed by the eerily haunting track featured on Twin Peaks. Drummer Alex Hall literally wheeled up to the stage with suitcase in hand to relieve his stand-in, Grant. Turns out Hall’s flight had been delayed 12 hours. But the consummate professionals rolled with the punches, noting that as musicians, it’s rare when things go as planned.

The Cactus Blossoms treated devoted fans to cuts from their back catalog, including the farewell tune, “Adios Maria,” which was less about a woman and more about parting with a place. After a new song, they covered the Kinks“Who’ll Be Next in Line,” paying homage to a fellow sibling pair, and dedicated “Happy Man on a Gloomy Day” to an unfortunately canceled Spain show. A previously requested “Spotlight Kisses” was happily applauded, and the country waltz of “Powder Blue” had everyone in the room swaying in delight. With the encore imminent, Torrey announced it was “too hot to rock,” instead concluding the evening with a slow one, “Travelers Paradise.” It was a fitting adieu on a steamy night. —Sharlene Chiu

 

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The Kickback Celebrate a New Album Thursday at Mercury Lounge

July 12th, 2017

Now based in Chicago, Billy Yost (vocals and guitar), Jonny Ifergan (guitar) and Daniel Leu (bass) have been making eclectic music together since forming the Kickback close to 10 years ago. Following the release of several EPs, their catchy debut full-length, Sorry All Over the Place (stream it below), dropped two years ago. “The Kickback turn Sorry All Over the Place into a whimsical and ambitious fit of rock potpourri,” reported Consequence of Sound. “The band squeezes the pop-rock template dry, milking that broad category for its many musical riches.” Their sophomore LP, Weddings & Funerals, arrives on Friday, but the Kickback (above, doing “White Lodge” for Jam in the Van) celebrate its release a night early, on Thursday at Mercury Lounge.

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Catch the Cave Singers Tomorrow Night at Mercury Lounge

July 11th, 2017

When his previous band, Pretty Girls Make Graves, called it quits in 2007, guitarist Derek Fudesco teamed up with former Cobra High drummer Marty Lund and former Hint Hint singer Pete Quirk to start a new one, the Cave Singers, to make rock music with a folk bent (think: Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie). The Seattle three-piece had enough material for their first album, Invitation Songs (stream it below), within months of forming. A second disc, Welcome Joy (stream it below), followed two years later, and after the third, the-more-electric-than-acoustic No Witch (stream it below), was released in 2011, the trio became a four-piece with the addition of Fleet Foxes multi-instrumentalist Morgan Henderson on bass. Their first album as a quartet, the terrific Naomi (stream it below)—perhaps heavier on the rock than the folk—came out in 2013, and the Cave Singers (above, performing “That’s Why” live in studio for KEXP FM) followed that with their fifth LP, last year’s Banshee (stream it below). “The finished product shows the group understands very well what works for them,” said AllMusic. “Banshee is a smart and impressive piece of work that speaks to the mind and the soul with similar clarity.” The Cave Singers kick off their new tour tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge. Brooklyn’s LAPêCHE open the show.

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Up-and-Coming Folkies Kacy & Clayton Play Mercury Lounge Friday

June 23rd, 2017

Canadian cousins singer-songwriter Kacy Anderson and Deep Dark Woods guitarist Clayton Linthicum grew up just a few miles apart in Saskatchewan with a keen interest in British folk music. Initially they began performing together in a local bar, but as the word got out, their stages grew larger. Their debut album, The Day Is Past & Gone (stream it below), arrived in 2013. “We can indeed be very glad for this disc. It’s remarkable to think that Kacy is just 16 and Clayton 19. Let’s hope they get to take this act on the road,” said Exclaim. That’s exactly what they did. And last year, Kacy & Clayton (above, doing “Brunswick Stew” for CKUA FM) returned with their sophomore release, Strange Country (stream it below). “On this set, Kacy & Clayton have melded the rootsy overtones of vintage North American folk-revival albums of the ’60s with the passionate traditionalism of British folk-rock,” offered AllMusic. “Strange Country is a mysteriously and profoundly pleasing piece of work, and if Kacy & Clayton can create a few more albums this strong, they have the potential to be the new heroes of the North American folk community.” Jeff Tweedy was such a fan of the LP that he produced the duo’s upcoming release, The Siren’s Song, out in August. Catch them live tonight at Mercury Lounge. As an added bonus, Nashville singer-songwriter Andrew Combs opens the show.