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.
Tag Archives: Sam Cooke
Influenced by the likes of Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and Van Morrison—plus pop music
and bluesy Americana—Australian singer-songwriter Meg Mac, who’s been compared to Adele, began her career with the release of a single, “Known Better,” in 2013. But she started making a name for herself Stateside thanks to an appearance at this year’s SXSW. Of course, Mac (above, performing “Roll Up Your Sleeves” live at SXSW for Audiotree Live) has also been winning over fans with her terrific self-titled EP (stream it below), which includes a cover of Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands.” A full-length studio album is due later this year, but you don’t have to wait that long to see her because Meg Mac closes her current American tour at the early show at Mercury Lounge on Monday night.
Leon Bridges – The Bowery Ballroom – June 23, 2015
Some voices sound timeless, and it’s no surprise folks have been clamoring about Leon Bridges’ transcendent quality. Popular comparisons to Sam Cooke abound, however the 25 year old from Fort Worth, Texas, not only channels the Motown sounds of yesteryear but also manages to give faithful nods to his predecessors. I am personally skeptical when anyone is compared to Cooke, but NPR’s Ann Powers put it best about the young talent: “Imagination is the key element that makes Bridges’ rapid ascent more than a novelty.” On the heels of the release of his long-awaited debut album, Coming Home, Bridges played the first of two sold-out New York City shows last night at The Bowery Ballroom.
The Texan’s flair was thick in the balmy air as his drummer and guitarist (White Denim’s Josh Block and Austin Jenkins, respectively, each a producer on Coming Home) plopped onstage wearing cowboy hats. After a quick introduction from background singer Brittni Jessie, Bridges began with “Better Man.” “Feeling good?” he asked the excited audience. Little commentary was provided during the set apart from the influence of family on his songs, “Twistin’ & Groovin’,” about how his grandparents met, in addition to the maternally dedicated “Lisa Sawyer.”
As Bridges alternated between hands clasped behind his back and raised above his shoulders, his mannerisms were very much on point for the ’60s era. He reminded me of other throwback artists like Raphael Saadiq and Mayer Hawthorne, who have certainly mastered showmanship, but Bridges, still young, should definitely blossom with more performances. The recent expansion of his 2015 tour will no doubt provide room to grow. Although Bridges played most of his album, he treated folks to gems that were left off, “In My Arms” and a song dedicated to a friend’s dog, “Daisy Mae,” plus an admirable cover of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex Factor.” Playing guitar, Bridges closed with a stunning, seated rendition of “River” accompanied just by Ms. Jessie providing exceptional harmonies. It was a fitting end for a very bright talent. —Sharlene Chiu
Tags: Austin Jenkins, Brittni Jessie, Coming Home, Greg Pallante, Josh Block, Leon Bridges, Mayer Hawthorne, Photos, Raphael Saadiq, Review, Sam Cooke, Sharlene Chiu, White Denim
Posted in House List, Photos and Review No Comments »
St. Paul and the Broken Bones
Last night at The Bowery Ballroom a giant-sized cover of St. Paul & the Broken Bones’ new album, Half the City, hung behind the six-piece band as they performed. Plenty of other groups have gone with this decorating scheme before, but when these guys do, it’s like a proclamation: this music, this band and, most specifically, this frontman, Paul Janeway, are giant-sized, larger than life. Like other singers, Janeway sings, “Yeah,” but when he does it, he sings, “Yeaaaaaaaah” from somewhere deep within—a soulful growl with its own gravitational field, pulling whoops and whistles from the sold-out crowd due purely to the laws of nature. Like other frontmen, Janeway declared, “We’re gonna have a good time tonight,” but this wasn’t just wishful thinking or rock and roll cliché. No, he said it because it was as true as the sun rising in the East. To witness Janeway singing, howling and dancing demonstratively across the stage was to watch someone doing exactly what he was born to do. And what a sight it is.
Hailing from Birmingham, Ala., Janeway and the excellent Broken Bones—horns, guitar, organ, bass, drums—play an old-fashioned soul revue with a Southern blues-rock grit. As these shows must, things started with the band warming up, vamping on an instrumental groove before Janeway bounded onstage. The set whirled through the new album with sweaty, high-octane energy. The up-tempo songs, like the title track, were great, the band laying down dance riffs while Janeway channeled every great soul singer you can think of, from JB to Aretha to Otis and beyond, the sound swallowing the room completely. The slower numbers, like “Broken Bones & Pocket Change,” were even better; Janeway’s passionate yowl of a voice joined by the Broken Bones to build and build and finally crest, sweeping away the audience in the process. He joked that because they only had 40 minutes of original material they had to play some covers. (Take note, other bands with only 40 minutes of material!)
The mid-set take on Sam Cooke’s “Shake” was a brass-heavy revelation. But it was the two-song encore that pushed the show over the top, beginnng with a uniquely soulful take on Wings’ “Let Me Roll It,” featuring the best and longest guitar solo of the night. Occasionally you spend a show thinking, “Man, he’d really kill some Otis Redding,” only to then be treated to a “hell yeah!” show-closing take on Redding’s version of “Try a Little Tenderness.” This was St. Paul and the Broken Bones at their finest, the cover they were born to play as their own. Two false endings built the energy to a manic state, doubling the intensity each time, those 40 minutes of material easily stretching into 80 because when St. Paul is onstage everything is that much bigger, giant-sized, larger than life. —A. Stein
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.
3. Plaza: Portugal. The Man, Irving Plaza, May 20
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.
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
Tags: Barclays Center, Basia Bulat, Beacon Theatre, Ben Gibbard, Bikini Kill, Bon Iver, Bowery Ballroom, Brooklyn Bowl, Chris Kuroda, CMJ, Conor Oberst, Daft Punk, Daughter, David Bowie, Desaparecidos, Dessa, Doomtree, Drippy Eye, EL-P, Elena Tonra, End-of-Year Recap, Flamin’ Groovies, Flaming Lips, Föllakzoid, Foxygen, Haim, Hot Chip, James Blake, Jefferson Waful, Jenny Lewis, Jessie Ware, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Tamborello, John Prine, Josh Arnoudse, Kathleen Hanna, Kauro Ishibashi, Killer Mike, Kishi Bashi, Le Tigre, Matthew Hock, Meat Puppets, Mercury Lounge, Muchacho, Music Hall of Williamsburg, NONONO, Panama Wedding, Phish, Phosphorescent, Portugal. The Man, Postal Service, Raky Sastri, Review, Rolling Stones, Run the Jewels, Sam Cooke, Shuggie Otis, Steve Earle, Tame Impala, Terminal 5, the Holydrug Couple, the Julie Ruin, the Roots, Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show: Great Job!, Tim Heidecker, Town Hall, Umphrey's McGee, Velvet Underground, Webster Hall, Yo La Tengo, You Won’t
Posted in House List, Reviews No Comments »