Tag Archives: Rolling Stones

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Ofenbach Close Out Tour on Saturday Night at Rough Trade NYC

December 13th, 2017

DJ-producers Dorian Lo and César de Rummel became fast friends in grade school and, influenced by such blues-rock acts as Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and the White Stripes, started a rock band in their early teens. But then upon becoming deeply interested in house music, the two formed the DJ duo Ofenbach three years ago in Paris, becoming known for mixing traditional rock with electronic pop. Their single “Be Mine” gained them attention across Europe and Asia in 2016, and this year Offenbach made some noise with their remix of Portugal. The Man’s “Feel It Still” (above). Come dance to the music when their North American tour finishes on Saturday night at Rough Trade NYC. Brooklyn sample-based electronic trio Pool Cosby open the show.

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Joseph Entertain Music Hall of Williamsburg with New Music

September 18th, 2017

Joseph – Music Hall of Williamsburg – September 15, 2017


Sisterly vocals aren’t exactly a new thing. In fact, there’s already the Andrew Sisters, the Secret Sisters, First Aid Kit, the Staves, Haim and plenty more. So what’s another band of sisters to add to the ever-growing group? The sisters Closner—Natalie, Allison and Meegan—formed a trio when then solo Natalie (now Schepman) recruited her twin sisters to join her on the new project that birthed Joseph. Hailing from Portland, Ore., their namesake also comes from the band’s home state and the town where their grandfather lived. The sisters swung into Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday night after a recent release of their Stay Awake EP earlier this month.

Against a backdrop featuring the band’s name, the siblings charged the stage with “All,” off the latest release, followed by the soaring harmonies of “Lifted Away.” The EP was played in its entirety, as well as several tracks from their sophomore full-length album, last year’s I’m Alone, No You’re Not. Whether intentional or not, the sisters dressed differently, perhaps to reveal their unique personalities: Allison in an oversized white button down and lined pants; Meegan in all black cropped top and high-waisted pants; and Natalie in a flowing blouse and ripped jeans. This mesh of fashion could be translated in their music from the dance-pop “SOS (Overboard)” to the bittersweet ballad “I Don’t Mind,” sung to aching perfection by Meegan. Natalie shined on protest-worthy “White Flag,” emphatically stamping her feet to the chanting chorus.

Newer material like “50, 60, 80” was welcomed, while two covers especially enraptured the crowd. A rendition of Tears for Fears“Everybody Wants to Rule the World” was in response to our current state of affairs. Natalie explained in an interview to NPR: “In all honesty, it feels like the house is falling down around us, but the lyric ‘holding hands while the walls come tumbling down’ resounds in our minds. We hope that our music can be a force of togetherness when it seems like everything’s trying to divide us.” The sisters added their own lyrics to the ’80s hit to bring positivity to our embattled nation: “Make the most of freedom and pleasure/ All I know is take care of each other/ An open door, a seat at the table, there’s enough to go around.” After opening the show, Bailen returned to the stage for a closing cover of the Rolling Stones“Moonlight Mile,” and the sisters put the night to bed with an encore of “Sweet Dreams.” —Sharlene Chiu

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Son Volt Bring a True Sound to The Bowery Ballroom on Friday Night

April 10th, 2017

Son Volt – The Bowery Ballroom – April 7, 2017

Son Volt – The Bowery Ballroom – April 7, 2017
The Bowery Ballroom was packed on Friday night as fans eagerly waited for alt-country pioneers Son Volt to take the stage. Jay Farrar and Co. were in town for two sold-out weekend appearances supporting their new album, Notes of Blue, which finds the band mixing their rough-around-the-edges heartland anthems with a more bluesy sound. Opening the show, singer-songwriter Anders Parker eased the crowd into the night with a set of slow-burning ballads and fiery rockers. He said that a new album called The Man Who Fell from Earth arrives this week, describing it as a somber affair with Parker backed by just a pedal-steel guitar and a string trio. But he and his band opted to put some muscle behind the new material live, suitably spreading out the songs with guitar solos reminiscent of Neil Young in all of his ragged glory.

When Jay Farrar walked onstage and stepped up to the microphone to sing, “Today’s world is not my home” in his whiskey-soaked croon there was no mistaking what he meant. Ever since the dissolution of his partnership with Jeff Tweedy in the seminal alt-country band Uncle Tupelo in the mid-’90s, Farrar has been making records with Son Volt that strive for a similar gold standard: records that seem like they’ve been etched into stone and remain timeless if not out of step with the times. The new album was given the lion’s share of the set, but Son Volt managed to weave in some old favorites including the majority of their classic debut album, Trace, which, two years ago, was reissued for its 20th anniversary.

The band’s encore found them reaching deep for some Tupelo classics and Trace’s opening track, “Windfall,” which inspired the biggest crowd sing-along as the chorus “May the wind take your troubles away” rang crystal clear from the choir of flannel-clad fans raising their drinks toward the sky. Just when we thought it was over, and the audience began to thin out, the band returned to the stage for one more encore and played an exuberant cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Happy.” It was a real cherry on top of an already perfect night of rock and roll. —Patrick King | @MrPatKing

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

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Five Questions with Holly Laessig of Lucius

September 21st, 2016

Lucius return to New York City to play SummerStage in Central Park on Friday night, and Holly Laessig, one half of the band’s lead-vocals tandem, rang up The House List, from Oklahoma where she and Jess Wolfe were rehearsing for singing background for Roger Waters at Desert Trip, to answer Five Questions.

Plenty of musicians change their sound from album to album. Was that a clear intention in moving from the folkier Wildewoman to the poppier Good Grief? Or was that just how your sound evolved? It’s funny. People comment on how different the two are. But Wildewoman was recorded over a few years, and we were in no rush at the beginning because we didn’t have anything to be rushing for—we were just starting out. And we took our time and made it right. We came out with Wildewoman and we had kind of put the band together throughout and after making that record. So when we toured on it, things started to change, and the sound started to change. And the show got a lot more energetic, and the audience was reacting a lot more to the show than the record. People commented a lot how the live show and the record sounded so different, and that the live shows were so much more energetic. I think by the time we got to the end of that cycle, it was where Good Grief was picking up naturally, but from just listening from a record standpoint, there does seem to be a bigger difference than it felt like.

How was recording Good Grief different than recording Wildewoman? We took a different approach to it. We got off the road—we had been touring for, like, a year-and-a-half straight. And we were exhausted, and we decided to go to L.A. to kind of decompress and start writing. So Jess and I took a few months to write, just the two of us. And we would send the guys rough demos and then they would do their own versions of the same song—and kind of build arrangements around them. So when we went into the studio, we had at least two versions of everything. And we worked with Shawn Everett—he did the Alabama Shakes record with Blake Mills—he’s like this crazy alien angel person [laughing]. He’s one of our really closest friends, and he’s always got these wild ideas. So we were really excited to get into the studio with him. He had an idea to make communication easier with five very strong personalities in the studio. To kind of smooth things over and to get everyone’s voice heard, he thought it would be helpful to come up with a bunch of reference tracks: “For each track that we’re gonna work on, think of a song that you think could influence this.” So it could be “I like the sound of the tone on this Rolling Stones track.” Or “I like the way these vocals were recorded on this West African tune.” And we would all pick one or two songs and put ’em in a box, and he would pick them out one by one—it was all anonymous. And we would listen to everything, like 10 to 15 songs, and write down on a dry erase board everything we like about each one. It could be very specific, as far as a recording technique, or it could be more vague, like a feeling. And once we had this dry erase board of notes, we would then start working on the song. So it was a really interesting way of going about it, and I think we got a lot of good stuff we would’ve normally not even considered.

How did your appearance on Roadies come about? And any chance you’ll be adding “Willin’” to your set list? I mean, I don’t think we could top singing that with Jackson Browne, so probably not. Fair. Rafe Spall, who is one of the actors on Roadies—so the story goes: Rafe’s friend Rafe, which is hilarious to me. The first Rafe I ever met, and I met two of them in one day. His friend recommended our music to him, and he was playing it one day on set. And Cameron was like, “Who’s this?” And Rafe said, “This band Lucius.” And he said, “Well, let’s get ’em in here. See if they want to do an episode.” So we met him, and he’s the nicest guy ever. And we said, “Yeah, absolutely, we’d love to do this.” It was a really cool experience. It was really inspiring to see Cameron Crowe as a director and a leader. Everybody who was there, from the actors to the makeup people to the crew people to catering—everybody—was like, “Yeah, we work really hard, sometimes we work late hours, but we’re happy to do it because Cameron’s the man.” And he really was. We had some lines, and I was incredibly nervous about it because it’s not what we do normally. So there was this one line, and I was like, “This isn’t how I’d normally phrase this.” And I was trying to get my head inside it so I could say it the right way. And I asked him, and he said, “Let’s go over it.” And he dropped everything and took me aside, and he would’ve gone over this, like, one line with me for as long as I wanted—very, very patient. It was great, and we got to sing with Jackson Browne, and Jim James was on the set. It was cool.

For some bands, live shows are like a theater piece in that the set doesn’t change much, but the performers are aware of the subtle nuances each night. And for others, every night’s show is different than the one before. Where do you land on that spectrum? Like as far as each night being different? Yeah, I mean, a band like U2, they play pretty much the same set most nights, but it’s not the same show obviously. But someone like Bruce Springsteen or Pearl Jam, they change their set every night. I guess for each leg of a tour, we tend to stick generally to the same set. Some songs we change a little bit, but it’s nice once you get into a groove to stick with it, the transitions go more easily. But every show’s different regardless, especially because of the audience—not to put it all on the audience—but the vibe and the venue and the city, everything can really make a break a show for the performer. If your audience is really giving back to you, and you’re bouncing off of that, sometimes we have funny banter or things can change, or we’ll decide let’s do this song instead because they’re liking the up-tempo ones. So occasionally, it’s just, like, fly by the seat of your pants. But it’s definitely nice to get into a groove.

What new music have you been listening to? We’ve been listening to the new Angel Olsen record a lot. It only came out a couple weeks ago, I think. We’re excited to be playing with Big Thief in Central Park. And I’m stoked to see them ’cause I love that record. I love Alabama Shakes. We went to see that show at the Greek, and it was so good. That’s a good one to groove to, for sure. Was that with Kurt Vile? Yeah, and I love that record too. And Kurt Vile’s on the bill for One Big Holiday in February. Oh, yeah. That’s gonna be so fun! —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kyle Craft Brings Acclaimed Music to Mercury Lounge Tomorrow

August 10th, 2016

As far as musical descriptions go, you could do a lot worse than AllMusic’s take on Kyle Craft, “a Louisiana-bred singer-songwriter with a robust, full-throated wail and knack for pairing Stones-ian hooks and Dylan-esque wordplay with glam-kissed pop swagger.” Now based in Portland, Ore., Craft (above, doing “Penetcost” for KEXP FM) put out his debut solo album, Dolls of Highland (stream it below), on Sub Pop this past spring to a considerable amount of praise. Pitchfork opined that the LP “melds the voodoo-infused mythology of the South with rambunctious glam rock, and Kyle Craft summons you into its world like a carnival barker wooing customers in a funhouse.” And not to be outdone, Spin added that in his past life, he “was either a glam-rock idol or frontman for a power-metal trio. His sound is swampy ’70s boogie that splits the difference between Dr. John and David Bowie.” Find out for yourself why he’s getting so much praise when Kyle Craft plays Mercury Lounge tomorrow night. NYC’s Mass Gothic open the show.

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Marco Benevento Leaves Them Smiling at Music Hall of Williamsburg

April 18th, 2016

Marco Benevento – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 16, 2016

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It’s kinda fun to trace the path that took Marco Benevento from the avant-garde basement of the old Knitting Factory in Tribeca to the point where he was standing atop his piano at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night, towering over the crowd in a black-and-white-and-Dayglo-striped suit, top hat and pink sunglasses like a live-action Dr. Teeth. But it’s a lot more fun to just fully enjoy the moment. And there were plenty of them to be had when the Benevento’s infectious, happy-go-lucky energy—and his backing duo—turned the Brooklyn crowd on its head and everyone just surrendered to the fun.

Of course, you don’t begin an evening by hopping up on your instrument, that’s something you have to build toward. The set opened with “Dropkick,” off the recently released The Story of Fred Short, Benevento singing through the verses before opening into concentric circles of piano jams. Right off, his bandmates—Andrew Borger on drums and Karina Rykman pinch-hitting on bass (regular bassist Dave Dreiwitz playing with Ween across the river)—established themselves as guardians of the groove for the evening. While the crowd was quick to join the party and dance, no one was enjoying themselves as much as the three musicians onstage.  The highlight mid-section of the show was a performance of the entire B-side of the new album, which is a sort of concept record. Played live, the music was an explosive prog-rock disco, each piece finding a deeper and more open-ended funk. Rykman was a revelation, often leading the charge with splatter-paint fuzz bass accented by head slamming, body gyrations and a Cheshire Cat grin. Benevento was equally as animated, both on and off the piano, finding his way into the crowd during “I Can’t See the Light” to dance and pose for pictures.

The second half of the set was heavy on instrumentals from Benevento’s growing catalog, each song showing off Benevento’s skills at composition and improvisation. Sing-along, earworm melodies opened up into penetrating jams, his piano augmented by synth and samples, the music swerving between grooves and deep rocking, Borger and Rykman providing equal parts push and pull. And yes, there was dancing and strutting and piano hopping, and even a couple of unironic “Take it to the bridge” mentions in there as well. For the encore, Benevento brought out opener Mikaela Davis on harp to accompany a nice version of David Bowie’s “Heroes,” which began as just a pensive duet, but when the band returned, with an additional guest—Katie Jacoby on violin—the mood quickly shifted back to giddy party and the follow-up quintet version of the Rolling Stones’ “Let’s Spend the Night Together” was a perfect we’re-gonna-make-your-cheeks-hurt-from-smiling finish to the night. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

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Smoky Troubadour Jolie Holland Plays Music Hall of Williamsburg

June 23rd, 2014

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jolie Holland grew up in Texas with an affinity for folk, blues, jazz, country and rock. Her debut studio album, Escondida (stream it below), arrived in 2004 and it did not go unnoticed. It was a blend of genres held together by Holland’s smoky vocals. AllMusic said the album gives listeners an “experience that is singular, startling and soulful.” Over the ensuing years, she continued to record, tour extensively and collaborate with others. But, inspired by the live-studio recordings by the likes of Neil Young, the Rolling Stones and the Velvet Underground, Holland (above, her video for “Waiting for the Sun”) sought out a different sound on her newest full-length, Wine Dark Sea (stream it below), which came out last month. “The approach on this album is more about bandleading than anything else. On past albums, I couldn’t get people to do what I wanted them to do. More volume helped; getting more people onstage and not being polite,” she tells Mother Jones. Wine Dark Sea leans less on folk and country acoustics while embracing grungier guitars. Per AllMusic, “It’s a raw, often raucous presentation, balanced by Holland’s mature poetic vision and her continued exploration of American musical forms. She effortlessly links them, one source to another, as seemingly disparate performance styles are filtered through a universal language, the love song, and all 11 tracks here are just that.” See Jolie Holland play Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow night. Shy Hunters, a Brooklyn pop duo, open the show.

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The Black Lips and Natural Child Bring a One-Two Punch Not to Miss

April 15th, 2014

Four teenagers, singer-guitarist Cole Alexander, drummer Joe Bradley, guitarist Ben Eberbaugh and bassist Jared Swilley, bonded over a love of music and formed a band, the Black Lips, in the Atlanta suburbs about a decade-and-a-half ago. Their first couple of singles gained them some attention and their antics, both onstage and off, got them banned from several local venues. But the group persevered, getting past their shenanigans and lineup changes, including the death of Eberbaugh, who was killed by a drunk driver. Guitarist Ian Saint Pe replaced him, but that hasn’t affected the band’s sound or spirit. In fact, the Black Lips (above, playing “Family Tree” for Billboard.com) continue to put on spirited, high-energy live performances while still churning out superlative Southern-tinged garage punk, most recently on this year’s Under the Rainbow (stream it below). The Washington Post praises it, mentioning that it sounds “clearer, sparer and tighter than its previous efforts,” before going on to add that “the Black Lips continue to craft a sound that could well be the next incarnation of punk.”

The Black Lips are currently out on the road with another like-minded Burger Records group, Natural Child. After eating weed brownies, bassist Wes Taylor was inspired to call drummer Zack martin and guitarist Seth Murray, proclaiming that they should start a band and “make all our rock and roll dreams come true together.” And upon agreeing to record and tour often, that’s just what they did: The three proceeded to spend most of the following two years out on the road, which not only allowed them to hone their live show, but it also gave them plenty of time to work on material. Natural Child (above, doing “Saturday Night Blues” for Rollo & Grady Sessions) released For the Love of the Game (stream it below) and Hard in Heaven (stream it below) just six months apart in 2012. Each album was filled with what the band calls “songs about drugs and various other subjects, but mostly drugs,” while managing to sound like a cross between J. Roddy Walston & the Business and early-’70s Rolling Stones. But seeking a bigger sound, the Nashville, Tenn., trio blossomed into a quintet with the addition of Luke Schneider (pedal steel) and Benny Divine (multi-instrumentalist) on this year’s excellent Dancin’ with Wolves (stream it below). So do yourself a favor and go see two hard-working bands that rock, the Black Lips and Natural Child on Thursday night at Webster Hall.

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Cat Power Delivers Something Real and Honest at Music Hall

March 12th, 2014

Cat Power – Music Hall of Williamsburg – March 11, 2014

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It’s rare to find oneself in this situation at a show in New York City: the venue free of chatter, the rare glare of a cell phone utterly out of place, camera flashes overtly distracting and the brightest light onstage a candle lit by Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power. The first of last night’s two shows at Music Hall of Williamsburg, it was surprising how much ground Marshall covered, with tracks spanning her catalog. Beginning on guitar, she made quick work of a number of songs out of the gate, including the very raw “Hate” and a stripped- down cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” before settling onto the piano stool.

Faced with the sheen of the grand piano rather than the expectant faces of hundreds, Marshall eased in a bit and allowed her songs more room to roam. “Colors and the Kids” was delivered with some quick, playful jabs in the air, as if to agree with the sentiment she’d so soundly evoked. A number of stirring songs followed, including crowd favorite “The Greatest” and the shiver-inducing pair of “I Don’t Blame You” and “Maybe Not.” By this point Marshall seemed to have postponed any thought of those standing in line for the second show, single-mindedly focused on delivering for those standing before her. She took up her guitar again for her version of the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and then belted out “Metal Heart,” a tune that’s made its way onto two of her albums.

Alongside her obvious desire to deliver, there was an urgency to Marshall’s set, as if she had just one more chance to perform everything she ever wanted to play. Power ran down her set list between songs, looking for the next: “Played that … played that … don’t want to play that.” She checked off some more—“Naked if I Want To,” playful and pleading, and “Good Woman,” agonizing and burning, before it became clear we’d have to make room for those queued up outside. This seemed a real dilemma to Marshall, who appeared to feel she still owed us more. And so the first show ended with a quiet, sometimes-whispered back and forth with the audience, and a final acceptance of the close of the set. For all of her mixed feelings about the show, hopefully Chan Marshall left satisfied. There were a couple of technical issues that stalled the set at points, and there were moments when jitters nearly got the best of her. But those were just in keeping with what the audience had come to share in, something real and honest, something beautiful and vulnerable at the same time. —JC McIlwaine

 

 

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The Men Celebrate a New Album Tomorrow at The Bowery Ballroom

March 4th, 2014

They began making punk(-ish) music back in 2008, but with the release of New Moon (stream it below), last March, the Men moved in a different sonic direction: still tapping into feedback and distortion, but doing so over more classic-rock sounds, or what Allmusic calls “creating a sound akin to Dinosaur Jr. on a serious Tom Petty kick.” But that was 12 whole months ago, an eternity to a prolific group like this Brooklyn five-piece. So, naturally, they return with the ambitious Tomorrow’s Hits (stream it below), their fifth album in five years, out today. This time, according to Rolling Stone, “the band reinvent themselves yet again as a slamming blue-eyed soul group.” “We had been kickin’ the horns idea around for a little while,” singer-guitarist Mark Perro told the magazine, “thinking about Fun House by the Stooges, Exile on Main Street by the Stones and all those old classics Stax and Motown records.” Band members—Perro, singer-guitarist Nick Chiericozzi, guitarist Kevin Faulkner, bassist Ben Greenberg and drummer Rich Samis— share singing duties, and while performing live, the guys in the Men (above, playing “Settle Me Down” for KEXP FM) occasionally get lost in a solo, with their back to the crowd, but it doesn’t mean they’ve lost focus. Instead, they’re just caught up in the music. Get caught up in the music yourself when the Men celebrate their new album tomorrow night at The Bowery Ballroom.

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Nick Waterhouse Brings His Vintage R&B to The Bowery Ballroom

February 26th, 2014

He may still be a young guy, but singer-songwriter Nick Waterhouse, who’s well versed in R&B, has an old soul with a touch of contemporary style. It’s no wonder he’s got such a vintage sound considering he records on analog equipment and open-reel tape machines. His debut album, Time’s All Gone (stream it below), came out in 2012, winning over critics and fans alike. The Independent went so far as to make comparisons to Sharon Jones, Amy Winehouse and even the Rolling Stones. Since then, he’s been busy crisscrossing North America and Europe—and appearing with Daryl Hall on Live from Daryl’s House—working on his high-energy live show. Speaking of which, Waterhouse (above, performing “This Is a Game” in studio for WFUV FM) plays The Bowery Ballroom tomorrow.

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A Galactic Party at Terminal 5

February 18th, 2014

Galactic – Terminal 5 – February 15, 2014

In what was a small New Orleans music coup this past weekend, Galactic mirrored what fellow NOLA funk and jazz rockers the Soul Rebels were doing at Brooklyn Bowl by having a party of their own at Terminal 5 on Saturday night. Breaking from their recent partnership with Living Colour’s Corey Glover, Galactic were instead joined for about half the set by 25-year-old Louisiana native Maggie Koerner, who quite simply blew away the audience. She initially made her mark during the band’s “You Don’t Know,” but it was later in the show when she sang the cover of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” that the crowd appeared truly floored and let out the biggest applause of the night.

Galactic played so tightly that even during their vocal-less jams they never needed to watch one another to stay in lockstep with the beat, a sign of just how good they are as individual musicians and as a collective. Instead, they often turned straight out toward the crowd, lining up like a firing squad and letting loose a barrage of blue notes, mind-spinning solos and loud-as-hell choruses. For heady-music appreciators, this was the band to see on Saturday night, not just for Galactic’s skills but because they will move a set in any direction they see fit.

While Galactic often feature a vocalist, they are just as happy to steer the set into an instrumental song like “Balkan Wedding,” a track with an epic, moody organ solo that would be a hard sell to a more popular-music-oriented crowd. But they also know how to please a crowd of any size and makeup, so when the encore came around, Koerner rejoined the band for the show’s final original tune, “Heart of Steel” before ending the night with a rafters-shaking rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.” —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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A Top Five Look Back at 2013

January 10th, 2014


Ten days into the New Year, The House List looks back at 2013 with some Top Five lists.

My Top Five Favorite Shows
1.
The Postal Service, Barclay Center, June 14
My decade-belated live date with the Postal Service finally culminated at Barclays Center, where rabid fans, like myself, roared as Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello hit the stage. As if acting out lyrics from “Nothing Better,” Gibbard and Jenny Lewis shimmied close for the duet. Old friends reunited onstage never felt so good.

2. Haim, Webster Hall, September 3
I was late to this bandwagon, as fellow House List contributor Alex Kapelman shortlisted Haim last year for his Top Five Bowery Presents Shows of the Year. I knew I was in for a good one when I could barely find a spot in the rafters to catch the three sisters, who charmed with their onstage banter and wicked musicianship

3. Jessie Ware, The Bowery Ballroom, January 17
Straight off her Jimmy Fallon taping backed by the Roots, the British songstress elated the crowd with her effortless, down-to-earth stage demeanor. Her star quickly rose with American audiences, as she sold out shows at Webster Hall, Music Hall of Williamsburg and Irving Plaza throughout the year. I was glad to have caught her earlier in the more intimate venue.

4. Basia Bulat, Bowery Ballroom, November 23
I’ve been a fan of Basia Bulat since I heard her cover Sam Cooke’s “Touch the Hem of His Garment.” This show on a cold night wasn’t sold out, which made me a little sad since she’s quite the talent. But those who were there were enraptured by her prowess on autoharp to the point that you could hear a pin drop during her solos.

5. Daughter, Bowery Ballroom, April 30
Somehow Elena Tonra manages to disguise heartbreak behind soulful lyrics and melody. She has a knack for turning happy dance songs into somber endeavors. The band mashed-up Bon Iver and Hot Chip’s “Perth/Ready for the Floor” that evening. Check out Tonra’s somber retake of Daft Punk’s hit “Get Lucky” for further proof. —Sharlene Chiu

My Top Five Shows I Never Thought I Would See
1. Desaparecidos, Webster Hall, February 26

Desaparecidos (and really any Conor Oberst project) were my bread and butter back in the early aughts, and for a while they seemed to be a one-off, a politically minded side project firmly planted in the past. Fortunately (and unfortunately) the global state of affairs remains messed up enough for the band to regroup to write protest songs for a new decade. It was a nostalgic, sweaty and inspired performance.

2. Shuggie Otis, Music Hall of Williamsburg, April 19
Shuggie Otis began putting out music in the mid-’70s, followed by a long period of laying low. Content to groove along to songs like “Ice Cold Daydream” at home, I never really thought about the possibility of a Shuggie Otis tour in 2013. But when I found out, I was there. And “Ice Cold Daydream” is even better in person.

3. The Flamin’ Groovies, The Bowery Ballroom, July 6
Instead of discovering the Flamin’ Groovies in a smoky San Fran club in the ’60s, I was introduced to their catchy psychedelia on a Nuggets compilation more than 30 years later. Who’d have thought they’d still be going strong in 2013 and that I’d be dancing right alongside some old school fans at this fun summer show.

4.  John Prine, Beacon Theatre, September 26
John Prine has been active since the early ’70s, but unlike Shuggie Otis, he never really went away, writing and recording songs at a steady pace throughout the years. But I still always thought of him as an artist too legendary for me to see in person—or that tickets would be too out of reach. But John Prine put on an amazing show, highlighting his singular skills as a songwriter and storyteller.

5. The Julie Ruin, Music Hall of Williamsburg, October 25
I was late to the party for the original riot-grrl movement, but I became an admirer of Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna during her time in Le Tigre. She’s dealt with some debilitating health issues in the past few years, but I had no doubt she’d continue to make art and music. So I was happy to learn of her latest project, the Julie Ruin, and her energetic show did not disappoint. —Alena Kastin

My Top Five Shows
1. Yo La Tengo, Town Hall, February 16

I don’t like to pick a favorite, but my last.fm account tells me I’ve listened to Yo La Tengo more than any other band since 2007. At Town Hall, they performed an acoustic set and an electronic one, doing two versions of “Ohm,” my favorite song of the year. And then I ran into Tim Heidecker from Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job! Had the Red Sox not won the World Series, this would’ve been my favorite night of the year.

2. Killer Mike/El-P, Webster Hall, August 14
I don’t care what anyone says: The best two rap albums of 2012 came from Killer Mike and El-P. And in 2013 they topped them, coming together as one entity, Run the Jewels. The night included a set from El-P, a set from Killer Mike and a combined set with both. El-P’s ingenious production plus Killer “I bleed charisma” Mike equals one concert I will never forget.

3. Foxygen, The Bowery Ballroom, October 21
With Foxygen it occasionally feels like shit could fall apart at any moment. And sometimes it does. But when their shows don’t come unhinged they deliver that sweet thrill of relief, like narrowly avoiding a car crash. And on this Halloween-themed night, the band made a weird show even weirder with homemade costumes and pseudo spooky vibes.

4. Steve Earle, Music Hall of Williamsburg, May 8
You can just tell some people are genuine, and Steve Earle is certainly one of them. Forever wearing his heart on his sleeve, that same energy bleeds right into his music, which he played alongside what he’s calling “the best band he’s ever had.”

5. Meat Puppets, Mercury Lounge, April 4
Not only are the Meat Puppets still kicking (after living through some serious shit), but also they’re thriving. And as much as I respect their legacy, seeing them play for more than two hours with the intensity you’d expect of a band 20 years their junior makes me respect them that much more. Long live the puppets of meat! —Dan Rickershauser

My Top Five Shows
1. Dessa, Union Hall, May 5

There are few performers I feel can move mountains with their vocal chords, and Dessa is one of them. This performance was an eruption of defiant lyrics and bold beats. A sizable crowd of young girls knew all of her lyrics, giving the show a chant-like feel. The only female member of Minnesota’s Doomtree collective practically vibrates with energy, and it’s completely contagious.

2. Kishi Bashi, Irving Plaza, September 12
Kishi Bashi sounds even better live than he does recorded. And he delivered a dazzling set with profuse vocal looping and an excellent backing band. Kauro Ishibashi has a supercharged, effusive aura, and his music embodies that persona. This set took a rowdy turn that involved crowd surfing, strobe lights and an outright jam session.

3. Panama Wedding, CMJ Music Marathon
I happened upon newcomers Panama Wedding three different times during CMJ: Initially, opening for NONONO at Mercury Lounge on the first night. Since the band had only released one song, “All of the People,” I was eager to see what would unfold onstage. Their set was so tight that I caught the fantastical pop group the following night at Pianos and then again at a showcase at Santos Party House.

4. You Won’t, Rockwood Music Hall, October 30
The live iteration of You Won’t is a spectacle to behold. I watched eagerly as Josh Arnoudse and Raky Sastri wielded a slew of instruments with ease, quickly fascinating the audience. The duo took their jaunty music into the audience a couple of times to break the barrier and enlisted some extra vocal support by encouraging us to all to sing along.

5. James Blake, Terminal 5, November 6
In this spellbinding live performance, complete with plenty of vocal looping and haunting electronica, James Blake made a cavernous room filled with people feel intimate. And that he’s such a dapper-looking fellow only helps boost his appeal. I’m still transfixed by this performance nearly two months later. James Blake’s music has some serious lasting effects. —Schuyler Rooth

My Top Five Shows with Regard to Lights, Visuals and Production
1. Umphrey’s McGee, Brooklyn Bowl, January 20

Kick-ass creative lighting
and Brooklyn Bowl don’t usually go hand in hand, but Umphrey’s McGee lighting guru Jefferson Waful turned the room into a thing of beauty.

2. Föllakzoid/Holydrug Couple, Mercury Lounge, March 21
What better way to enjoy some old school psychedelic music than with some old school liquid projections courtesy of Drippy Eye.

3. Plaza: Portugal. The Man, Irving Plaza, May 20
Freakin’ lasers!

4. The Flaming Lips/Tame Impala, Terminal 5, October 1
It was almost as fascinating to watch the Lips’ spectacle getting set up as it was to see it in action—confetti, strobes, LEDs and, well, pretty much everything. And Tame Impala’s projections were no slouch either.

5. Phish, Atlantic City Boardwalk, October 31, November 2
Phish’s fall tour found lighting director Chris Kuroda playing the Willy Wonka of eye candy all over the East Coast. —A. Stein

My Top Five Albums
1. Phosphorescent, Muchacho
I’d only seen Phosphorescent once before listening to Muchacho for the first time. And while much of Matthew Houck’s previous work is country-tinged (not that there’s anything wrong with that), this album, ostensibly about a breakup, covers more territory, from the meditative sounds of “Sun, Arise (An Invocation, an Introduction)” and “Sun’s Arising (A Koan, an Exit)” to the jammy, driving “Ride On/Right On” to softer fare, like “Muchacho’s Tune,” all centered on Houck’s evocative voice. I still can’t stop listening to it.

2. Foxygen, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
Foxygen’s third full-length, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, comes off as a loving mash note to ’70s rock. You’ll hear bits of the Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground and David Bowie, but the album expertly manages to sound like something whole and new rather than something derivative.

3. White Denim, Corsicana Lemonade
Upon the first couple of listens, I found White Denim’s latest, Corsicana Lemonade, to be too singer-songwriter-y, but I continued to give it a chance, and it opened up to something much bigger, with genre-hopping songs like “Let It Feel Good (My Eagles)” and “Pretty Green”—not to mention some searing guitar parts—grabbing me by the throat.

4. Futurebirds, Baba Yaga
Admittedly, I didn’t know anything about Futurebirds, out of Athens, Ga., before writing a preview of their late-May show at The Bowery Ballroom. But while listening to their second LP, Baba Yaga, as I wrote, I became totally enamored of the album—half twangy Southern rock and half spacey reverb.

 5. Kurt Vile, Wakin on a Pretty Daze
I love Kurt Vile’s Wakin on a Pretty Daze so much, that I can’t believe it’s only No. 5. Labeling it stoner rock, as many have done, is lazy. Although I supposed me calling it laid-back rock isn’t any better. But the fact of the matter is there might not ever be a better album to listen to while walking the streets of New York City with headphones in your ears. —R. Zizmor

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Shuggie Otis Comes to Brooklyn Tomorrow Night

April 18th, 2013

Like so many of us, much of Johnny Alexander Veliotes Jr. stems from his parents. His prodigious musical chops were passed down from his dad, R&B pioneer Johnny Otis, and his nickname—short for sugar—came courtesy of his mom. Because without them, the world wouldn’t know of Shuggie Otis. A precocious child, he first appeared on an album when he was just 15, which would be a pretty big deal for most kids. But then the next year, 1969, his debut album, Here Comes Shuggie Otis, arrived. Freedom Flight, led by “Ice Cold Daydream” and “Strawberry Letter 23,” followed in 1971. The latter song became known the world over several years later thanks to the Quincy Jones–produced version done by the Brothers Johnson. Otis would then spend three years writing, arranging, producing and recording the soul, funk and psychedelic cult classic Inspiration Information, out in 1974. And then: poof. That was it. Despite overtures from the likes of Jones, the Rolling Stones and Billy Preston, Otis declined to tour or put out any more new music—other than working as a sideman—and eventually his recording contract was nullified. But, fortunately, the story doesn’t end there. Because two days ago Inspiration Information was reissued alongside Wings of Love (stream both below), comprised of unreleased material dating back to 1975. And while that’s great news, the absolute best part of this is that you can see Shuggie Otis tomorrow night at Music Hall of Williamsburg— and you can try to win two tickets.

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Despite Major Changes, the Black Crowes Are Having Fun

April 8th, 2013

The Black Crowes – Terminal 5 – April 6, 2013


The Black Crowes first gained fame with their debut album, Shake Your Money Maker, but 23 years later, only three original members remain: frontman Chris Robinson, his brother, rhythm guitarist Rich Robinson, and drummer Steve Gorman. Bassist Sven Pipien has been with the band since the late ’90s (minus a few years), and keyboardist Adam MacDougall came onboard in 2007. As for lead guitar, first there was Jeff Cease, and then for a long time there was Marc “Fucking” Ford. His and Rich’s guitar pairing would define the band’s sound. But then Ford was replaced by Audley Freed, who remained until the group’s first hiatus. When the Crowes returned, Ford was again playing lead—until he wasn’t and Paul Stacey was. And then he wasn’t and Luther Dickinson was. Dickinson returned the band to the twang-y Southern-rock sound of Ford’s heyday, and by the time fans finally grew accustomed to this version of the Crowes, you guessed it, they went on hiatus again.

So when word broke that they’d be touring again, with Jackie Greene as lead guitarist, the news was met with trepidation. But over the course of four shows last week—two each at the Capitol Theatre and Terminal 5—the newest edition of the Black Crowes allayed the fears of any doubters. Turns out, Greene is almost a perfect fit, as the band has bloomed sonically from the bluesy Southern rock they’d first become known for into a patchwork Americana sound studded with folk, rock, gospel and soul. It’s as if they’d traded in their Stones’, Faces’and Allmans’ albums for the Band’s, Mad Dogs & Englishmen and the Rolling Thunder Revue.

On Saturday night at Terminal 5, Greene’s mandolin on “She Talks to Angels” and banjo on “Whoa Mule” helped breathe new life into those songs, and his guitar work on “Sister Luck” was particularly fiery. Greene’s presence allowed Rich to play slide and take on more lead duties, like in terrific renditions of “Thorn in My Pride” and “Wiser Time,” with the two epically engaging each other from across the stage while everyone else took a step back. Of course, it’s not just about the new guitarist. The Crowes have reinterpreted some older material, like Chris’s staccato gospel breakdowns in the middle of “Remedy” (and in “My Morning Song” on prior nights). And the other drastic change was the lack of backing singers, two strong female voices replaced by four- and five-part harmonies.

But it wasn’t just about what was heard—because what was seen proved to be just as important, which in this case, was a band having a good time. There were smiles across the stage, and no one seemed to be enjoying himself more than Chris, whether happily introducing the night’s third song, “Feelin’ Alright,” with “Saturday night in the big city, man,” or inspiring some of the night’s biggest applause with harmonica-led jams, his playful dancing and joy were infectious, spreading across the stage and the room. And following a strong show filled with early material, covers and rarely played numbers, like “Title Song,” plus a three-song encore, the Black Crowes lingered onstage hugging one another, smiling widely and taking in the adulation. —R. Zizmor

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com