Tag Archives: Music

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Five Questions with Kamasi Washington

November 17th, 2017

Back in 2015, saxophonist extraordinaire Kamasi Washington (above, performing “Re Run” live in studio for KEXP FM) put out the aptly named triple album The Epic (stream it below) to universal acclaim—becoming one of the hottest jazz musicians on earth in the process. He’s since toured the world and then returned this past September with the impressive EP Harmony of Difference (stream it below). Now out on the road, crisscrossing America’s highways and byways, Washington, with pedal-steel virtuoso Robert Randolph as a special guest, plays Terminal 5 next Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving. (Local favorites—and feisty live performers—Break Science open the show.) Last weekend, Washington (below, doing “The Next Step” live for Paste Studios) rang up The House List from Cleveland to answer Five Questions.

As a touring musician do you notice if your music is received any differently in New York city than it is elsewhere? I feel like the response has been pretty universal for me, but I’ve always gotten a lot of love in New York, which is a huge honor because you see everything there. And it humbles me every time. New York has an energy that’s unlike any place in the world. There’s just so much going on that you get supercharged.

Once material is recorded, does it stay that way permanently? Or as you play songs live do they continue to stretch and grow? They stretch and grow and change every night, basically. The recording is the version I heard in my head. It’s the definitive version, but live we do it different every time.

As a jazz musician, you appear at nontraditional venues and you’ve played huge festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo. Was this part of your plan all along to cross over? Or has it just been a natural progression of where your music’s taken you? It’s where my music naturally wants to live. It’s definitely rooted in jazz. It’s my foundation. But there’s lots of other kinds of music in there. And it doesn’t really fit into one box very well. We definitely still play jazz clubs, but it’s natural to jump to different kinds of clubs and audiences—different experiences, sitting down in one place and standing in another. It’s options: Every day do something different.

You’ve appeared on albums by Kendrick Lamar, Run the Jewels and, back in the day, Ryan Adams. Is that something you’re still looking to do? And now that you’ve made such a name for yourself is there any chance you’d look for some of them to appear on your albums? Yeah, man. I’m always open to adding people to my music and I still love working with other artists. But I’m enjoying focusing on my own music and collaborating with my friends. I always leave it up to the music. The music dictates to me what to do with it. If it feels like it needs this or that, I’ll try to get it. But I never try to force it.

For someone who’s never seen you perform before, how would you describe a live Kamasi Washington show? It’s different every time. I try to connect to the room and the vibe, a journey we all go on together. I hope what it feels like is very inclusive. The music connects us and we all push the night in the same direction. And by the end we’re all together in one place. —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog

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Slowdive Look Toward Their Past and the Future at Union Transfer

November 16th, 2017

Slowdive – Union Transfer – November 15, 2017

(Photos: Silvia Saponaro)


Perhaps there’s no better description of Slowdive than the one on their Twitter page: “Formed in 1989 in the Depths of Reading, UK. We like noisy guitars and cool pedals.” In two sentences, the band captures their long history and general musical aesthetic. The latter, while evident on their earlier records, is revived on their most recent release, Slowdive. The album is their first in 22 years, and it gives new material to their devoted fan base while making a pitch for another generation of listeners in 2017. Both crowds came out on Tuesday night at Union Transfer for a packed, sold-out performance.

Being there, the most immediate sensory impression was total visual immersion in a carefully planned light show. Lamps, strobes or a background video—and in some cases, all three—accompanied each song. Sometimes it was overtly synched with the music, like the loop of a white pill rotating in space for “Sugar for the Pill.” Other times, it was an all-out assault of brightness and backlighting. This, paired with the band’s all black clothing, made the experience of seeing Slowdive a deeper exploration of their sound and mood.

Looking around at the audience, both young and old stared at the stage, smiling, or taking a break from the visuals, closed their eyes and moved their heads with the music. Plainly, they sounded great. The vocal interplay between Rachel Goswel and Neil Halstead came through clearly and beautifully, the two voices sounding as good as their earlier work. It was a night to both bask in the nostalgia of an earlier sound and celebrate the return of the noisy band from the depths of Reading. —Jared Levy | @Playtonic

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Silversun Pickups – Terminal 5 – November 15, 2017

November 16th, 2017

(Silversun Pickups and Minus the Bear play Brooklyn Steel on Friday night.)

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

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American Football Return to NYC to Play Brooklyn Steel on Sunday

November 16th, 2017

Mike Kinsella (vocals, bass and guitar), Steve Lamos (drums and trumpet) and Steve Holmes (guitar) were just three college kids enjoying the summer when they formed the emo/math-rock band American Football outside of Chicago in 1997. A self-titled EP (stream it below) arrived in 1998, with an acclaimed eponymous full-length (stream it below), filled with uncommon time signatures and jazz-influenced chords, released the following year. But then that was pretty much it, with each member going off to do his own thing afterward. And that’s where this story would end if the influential American Football (above, performing “Born to Lose” live in studio for WNYC FM) hadn’t reunited—with the addition of Mike’s cousin Nate Kinsella (bass)—in 2014 to celebrate the 15th anniversary of their LP, which was rereleased with bonus tracks and demo recordings. According to Paste magazine, “The album serves as what indie rock should be about, synthesizing the musical world around us, not dividing and separating,” and per the A.V. Club: “American Football proved that a brief existence doesn’t preclude a band from casting a long shadow.” Things went so well that the band put out another crowd-pleasing full-length named—you guessed it—American Football (stream it below) last fall. “While the record is rooted in nostalgia, so much so the cover features the same iconic house as their debut, it also manages to feel fresh and tentatively exciting, something that’s a result of the band exploring new ideas or looking at old ones from different perspectives,” said Drowned in Sound in a rave review. “Time has only strengthened the chemistry of the band, distilling its essence in to something much purer than its base product. In a year of excellent records, American Football have quite possibly made the best.” See them live at Brooklyn Steel on Sunday night. Land of Talk and Pure Bathing Culture open the show.

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Experience John Carpenter’s Spooky Soundtracks Live at Terminal 5

November 15th, 2017

Halloween may have come and gone, but for those who wish they could experience just a few more spine-tingling moments before we succumb to the more cheerful holiday season, you’re in luck. Often referred to as the “Master of Horror,” director and composer John Carpenter will bring a live performance of his famously chilling film scores to Terminal 5 on Thursday. In conjunction with a new release that collects his film music on one album for the first time, Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998 (stream it below), Carpenter will perform his iconic synth-driven pieces from such classic films as Halloween, They Live, The Fog and Christine. There’s no better time to dust off those VHS tapes and take a moment to revisit Carpenter’s filmography (above, the Escape from New York main-title theme live in studio) in preparation for what promises to be a memorable (and spooky) night of music. —Alena Kastin | @AlenaK

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Bully Ratchet Up the Energy at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Monday

November 14th, 2017

Bully – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 13, 2017

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

In an era when we’re all coming to realize that women have a million reasons to angrily shout, Bully frontwoman Alicia Bognanno might just rock one of the best screams in all of rock music. Her vocal chords come with a built-in distortion pedal. It’s a slight miracle she can tour playing night after night with her gravely scream on full blast. At other times her voice is filled with tenderness—it takes a certain chorus or bridge to flick a switch then suddenly the same voice isn’t just cutting like a knife, it’s cutting you open. “I am trying to stay focused,” screamed Bognanno on repeat at a fever pitch for the final lines of “Focused,” each refrain ratcheting up the energy levels at Music Hall of Williamsburg, far higher than you’d think possible on a Monday night.

Not all of their songs hit so heavy: “I Feel the Same” came with a bouncy feel to it, with Bognanno flanked on both sides by pogoing guitarist Clayton Parker and bassist Reece Lazarus. The latter dedicated the set to two friends in the audience celebrating their two-year anniversary. “I don’t want to sing the saddest song we have after that. I’ll jinx this,” said Bognanno leading into “Blame.” But it was easily one of their best songs of the night, oscillating between soft contemplation and fury-filled choruses. “Milkman” one of their first-ever recorded tracks, had the whole band packing serious punch, with Lazarus’ thudding bassline doing the walloping. The show ended with “I Remember,” a tight number already trimmed of any fat whatsoever, played in warp speed. No better way to end the night than with a knockout blow. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

 

 

 

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The Drums Play a Hometown Show at Brooklyn Steel on Wednesday

November 14th, 2017

What began nearly 10 years ago as a duo and blossomed into a quartet has more recently become a one-man band with Jonny Pierce doing all of the writing and producing on Abysmal Thoughts (stream it below), the fourth studio album from the Brooklyn band the Drums, out earlier this summer. “The new sounds heighten the bittersweet flavor, as Pierce opens up about feeling lonely, stupid, betrayed, empty, and at times, hopeful. If his life hasn’t exactly gotten easier, his music has never been better,” said the A.V. Club. And Paste magazine was equally impressed: “Don’t let the title fool you. Abysmal Thoughts is a fun, lovely record, radiating sunshine in every melody and shadows in the lyrics. It’s whole and complex and captivating, a treasure chest of an album in which you’ll find something different and unique hiding within each listen.” Catch the Drums (above, doing “Days” live in concert for KEXP FM) when they return home on Wednesday at Brooklyn Steel. Australian four-piece Methyl Ethel open the show.

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Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Stars on 11/18

November 14th, 2017

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Thanks to their recently released ninth studio album, Montreal rock outfit Stars are back in New York City this week to play Rough Trade NYC on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. All three dates are already sold out, but The House List is giving away two tickets to Saturday’s show. Don’t have any of your own and still want to go? Try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, email address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Stars, 11/18) and a brief message explaining your favorite song on There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light. Eddie Bruiser, a fan of Canadian rock in general, will notify the winner by Friday.

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Two Nights of Silversun Pickups in New York City This Week

November 14th, 2017

Brian Aubert (vocals and guitar), Chris Guanlao (drums), Joe Lester (keys and samples) and Nikki Monninger (bass and vocals) knew one another from playing in various bands before forming Silversun Pickups 15 years ago in Los Angeles. Their atmospheric sound, layered melodies and spellbinding dreamy pop immediately drew comparisons to My Bloody Valentine and the Smashing Pumpkins with the release of their 2005 debut EP, Pikul (stream it below), and 2006 debut LP, Carnavas (stream it below), “the sort of record that brings something new to discover with each listen,” according to AllMusic. “Thus, listen one is as enjoyable as listen five or 10, but probably for entirely different reasons, since unique bits continuously appear from the band’s dream haze of accessibly textured indie rock.” Their fourth studio album, the synths-filled Better Nature (stream it below), came out in 2015. Despite referring to it as a “transitional record,” Sputnik Music called the long-player “a gorgeous if slightly safe album that proves this band hasn’t lost their edge when it comes to making captivating music.” And live, Silversun Pickups (above, performing “Panic Switch”) are just as exceptional as ever. Catch them on Wednesday at Terminal 5 and on Friday at Brooklyn Steel. Seattle’s Minus the Bear open both shows.



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Tyler, the Creator – Terminal 5 – November 13, 2017

November 14th, 2017


Photos courtesy of DeShaun Craddock | dac.photography

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A Sunday Sing-Along with the Mountain Goats at Brooklyn Steel

November 13th, 2017

The Mountain Goats – Brooklyn Steel – November 12, 2017


John Darnielle might be the hardest-working man in indie rock. This is not to say he comes from the same school as Bruce Springsteen—playing epic four-hour shows every night with sweat soaking through his American flag bandanna. But as the singer-songwriter of the beloved band the Mountain Goats, he’s consistently churned out a thoughtful and varied body of work at such a dependable pace that you might take him for granted. While other prolific artists may have a high volume of toss-away moments in their catalogs, Darnielle’s lyrics have always seemed intensely labored over and essential. Once called “America’s best non-hip-hop lyricist” by The New Yorker, he’s able to cover an impossible amount of ground from verse to verse, all while releasing albums with the band and somehow also managing to write two critically acclaimed novels. How about that for work ethic?

The band’s latest album, Goths, was released this year, and the Mountain Goats’ tour brought them to town for a packed show at Brooklyn Steel on Sunday night. The LP explores Darnielle’s early ’80s teen fascination with this genre in the same way that 2015’s Beat the Champ paid tribute to his heroes of professional wrestling. In pure Mountain Goats fashion: always sincere and never with irony. Mothers, out of Athens, Ga., opened the show with a brief yet powerful set. Afterward, fans roared as Darnielle and Co. walked onstage. Backed by longtime bassist Peter Hughes, multi-instrumentalist Matt Douglas and indie-rock drum royalty (and half of the comedy duo Scharpling & Wurster) Jon Wurster, the band leaned heavily on Goths, pulling off the new songs’ complex instrumentation with finesse. As this material is much more layered than the Mountain Goats’ usual bare-bones acoustic-punk material, Darnielle mostly stuck to playing the tunes on a Rhodes keyboard while Douglas would fill in the space with reverbed-out flourishes on either tenor sax or flute, eliciting huge crowd reactions in response. It was a thrill to watch the band gracefully pull off these new tunes live.

Some of the best moments of the night, however, were when Darnielle picked up his acoustic guitar to dust off some of the old sing-alongs from the band’s long career. Songs like “This Year” and “Against Pollution” had everyone at Brooklyn Steel singing in unison with Darnielle as he marched back and forth across the stage like an unplugged Angus Young. For the final number of their second encore, the Mountain Goats played a full-band version of the All Hail West Texas masterpiece “Best Ever Death Metal Band out of Denton,” with its rallying cry of “Hail Satan” filling the rafters and the hearts of everyone in the room. —Pat King | @MrPatKing

 

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Slowdive – Terminal 5 – November 12, 2017

November 13th, 2017


Photos courtesy of Silvia Saponaro | www.saponarophotography.com

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Alex Clare Brings New Material to Music Hall of Williamsburg

November 13th, 2017

English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alex Clare’s Tail of Lions (stream it below) just came out recently in the U.S., striking “an enjoyable balance on his third full-length,” according to AllMusic, “with a further evolution of a sound that shines the spotlight on his voice.” The title, Clare (above, performing “Basic”)—who moved with his family from London to Jerusalem two years ago—tells the Independent, refers to an ancient Jewish Proverb: “‘It is better to be a tail to a lion than a head to a fox’ means that it is better to follow someone who is truly great, than to lead something negative and crooked.” Per the Line of Best Fit, “Deeply rooted in religious literature, [the album’s] other influences range from mental illness to the current political climate, making it an engaging listen from one of Britain’s most distinctive male vocalists.” Clare’s current North American tour touches down in Brooklyn on Tuesday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Singer-songwriter Bobby Bazini and Brooklyn five-piece Elijah open the show.

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Macklemore – Terminal 5 – November 10, 2017

November 13th, 2017


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

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Julia Jacklin Launches New Tour Monday at Rough Trade NYC

November 10th, 2017

Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin (above, performing “Don’t Let the Kids Win” in studio for Triple J) has been compared to Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten, thanks to what AllMusic calls her “seamless meld of dreamy indie folk-pop and confessional alt-country.” Jacklin’s debut full-length, Don’t Let the Kids Win (stream it below), dropped last fall, pleasing critics and fans alike. Consequence of Sound said it “works like a musical punch to the gut, a tearjerker that makes even the most public of spaces ready sobbing spots. Each of the album’s 11 songs sounds effortlessly polished, her voice seasoned with the emotion of an entire lifetime.” The Guardian added: “Don’t Let the Kids Win feels very much like one of those albums that will slowly creep into the affections of a large number of people; it’s that lovely.” Having recently released two new singles, Julia Jacklin kicks off a quick North American tour on Monday at Rough Trade NYC. Atlanta folk singer-songwriter Faye Webster and Brooklyn singer-songwriter Aerial East open the show.