Tag Archives: Morphine


Courtesy Tier Put On a Commanding Show at Rough Trade NYC

August 17th, 2017

Courtesy Tier – Rough Trade NYC – August 16, 2017

(Photo: Daniel Cavazos)

How best to describe Brooklyn trio Courtesy Tier? Blues-adelic is probably a good place to start: These guys work up a woozy, potent racket that can veer Hendrix-ian or Zeppelin-esque and get plenty gnarly—but always in service of sturdy melodies. That they’ve been compared to bands like Meat Puppets, Morphine and Chris Whitley in his Rocket House era isn’t so much that they resemble any of them as much as they similarly put a bit of mess into familiar sounds, making them an acquired taste that, once acquired, feels eminently immediate, alive and embraceable.

Courtesy Tier have been kind of a shape-shifter, growing into what they’re supposed to be. Guitarist-ead vocalist Omer Leibovitz and drummer Layton Weedeman have been the guts of the band for about eight years, and in that time they’ve expanded to as many as six players and collapsed back down to a duo on more than one occasion. The lineup’s seemed to be fluid, but last year, Courtesy Tier settled into their current identity as a three-piece, with bassist Alex Picca aboard as a permanent third member. Out of that chrysalis came their first full-length album, the superb Everyone’s OK, much of which was the focus of their headlining spot last night at Rough Trade NYC.

Courtesy Tier played a commanding show, this night deftly organized around standouts like “Childish Blues,” with its slovenly, ’70s-blues-rock-meets-Nirvana vibe, “Cold,” more of a roiling rock and roller that builds to a shattering metallic guitar climax, and “When You Were Young,” an eased-into but still spiky groove more reminiscent of the pre-pop Black Keys. Courtesy Tier had new songs too, including a cover of Can’s “Vitamin C,” which wrapped a stabbing refrain of “You’re losing/ You’re losing/ You’re losing/ You’re losing/ Your vitamin C” in scuffed pop. It was another reminder that, at the intersection of guitar-heavy power-trio blues and a number of other potential jumping off points, they’re really on to something, without being too fussy about what to call it. It’s Brooklyn-y, in a good way, and perfect for these jittery times. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson




Holly Miranda Doesn’t Need an Encore at the Late Show

September 21st, 2015

Holly Miranda – Mercury Lounge – September 18, 2015

In a wide community of transplanted musicians to Brooklyn, Holly Miranda has carved her own storyline. As a fledgling 16 year old, Miranda moved from Detroit to Kings County and played cafes and coffeehouses throughout the city. In true indie fashion, she has recorded several albums through a variety of channels—self-releasing, crowd-sourced and eventually one worldwide release, The Magician’s Private Library. Five years since her global introduction, her latest, Days Are Shorter, Nights Are Longer, has the singer-songwriter returning in fine form following a successful writing trip in Joshua Tree. Pitchfork noted the album “feels both disarmingly intimate and broadly universal, and Miranda’s voice—fragile and fearless in equal measure—mesmerizes even when the lyrics veer toward nondescript platitudes.”

Donning pigtails and a cap, Miranda took the stage at Mercury Lounge just before midnight on Friday evening. Playing largely from her latest album, she began the set with “Mark My Words” and “Desert Call.” The singer asked the crowd, “Are you OK?” before admitting she was “pretty fucking drunk.” Despite her state, one could hear the haunting vocals and anguish in her lyrics, which have been noticed by the likes of Kanye West and Trent Reznor. The energy picked up on the rollicking “All I Want Is to Be Your Girl” as a group of fanboys feverishly danced up front. Switching to the piano, Miranda fussed with the chair before rebooting “Come On.” In an odd but playful moment, the performer explained that she’d received a bucket of garlic from a fan in D.C. and concluded that she had to toss the bulbs into the crowd.

After a few more song restarts, Miranda complained that this is what happens when you play a late show. The effects of too many preshow Negronis did not seem to take away from her lively cover of Morphine’s “Mary Won’t You Call My Name.”  She admitted that the set would not be her best show but could be good, which explains why she wanted to get songs right after false starts. It was especially telling on the torch ballad “Everlasting,” as Miranda achingly strained to a trickle, emoting the hills and valleys of heartbreak. The late evening was punctuated with an uplifting rendition of TLC’s “Waterfalls,” complete with the singer’s rapping skills on full display. No encore was needed. It was late and Miranda deserved a good sleep. —Sharlene Chiu


Acid Mothers Temple Keep On Going

April 24th, 2014

Acid Mothers Temple – Mercury Lounge – April 23, 2014


We all know looks can be deceiving. But sometimes the look is actually dead-on accurate. And last night’s late show at Mercury Lounge was proof enough of that. Close your eyes and listen to the opening act, Perhaps, and you might imagine a bunch of very talented young guys in T-shirts and jeans jamming out like they can’t believe they’re getting paid to do this. Open your eyes and that’s pretty much exactly what you’d have seen. The image was enhanced a bit by the fact that the bassist was wearing a Phish T-shirt and the guitarist’s T was for Morphine (the band or the drug—I’m not 100 percent sure—I believe the former, but either works in this case). The Boston quintet married thrashing rock and roll with a jazz-fusion mentality and drawn-out, high-energy improvisation to good effect. They’re a band to keep your eye on, so to speak.

Close your eyes once more for the headliner, Acid Mothers Temple, and listen to the music, and in your mind’s eye you might see a quintet of long-haired bearded Japanese wizards casting enchantments, causing minor explosions of psychedelic rock. Of course, that’s exactly what was going down onstage, the veterans of the psych-rock revival from before there was a psych-rock revival returned to the Merc with a nonstop torrent of guitars and bass. Their set was a long-form freak-out, entrancing the full house with a hypnotic cascade of jamming. This was a band that does nothing in moderation: Their first piece began loud and angry and grew louder and angrier, without a pause for contemplation or introspection (appropriately, one dude in the middle of the floor passed out almost immediately after the music reached full-strength). The second song had a groovier feel, the bass filling the room almost completely, guitars oozing into any nooks they could find.

When things quieted down enough to allow one of the band members to play a fluorescent plastic-recorder-type thing, there was some incoherent chanting going on—which is all to say, Acid Mothers Temple did slow down, but mostly just to get weird. By the fourth piece, the set was already 40 minutes long and showed no signs of relenting. This song was an epic masterpiece, beginning quietly with some nice guitar picking and then building into a long, glorious, there-goes-Jupiter, who-brought-the-snacks? voyage. It was easy to get lost in your own brain as the tune built and built in a glorious droning jam, fractions of an hour ticking by in what felt like no time at all. The piece eased through multiple sections, each highlighting the band’s veteran prowess and propensity to just keep on going, with very little complaint from the crowd as the clock reached midnight. Eventually, the song concluded some 20 minutes later, but the set kept going. And for all I know, they’re still jamming out, but at some point I had to close my eyes once again. —A. Stein