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.
Tag Archives: Sharon Van Etten
Maggie Rogers – The Bowery Ballroom – April 11, 2017
When Pharrell takes an eye to an artist (and I’m not talking about his stint on The Voice), ears perk up. The celeb producer was enchanted by American songwriter Maggie Rogers’ track “Alaska” while teaching a master class at NYU last summer. Her anticipated EP, That the Light Is Fading, released back in February layers Rogers’ folk sensibilities with newly examined dance tempos she acquired living abroad. Rogers has the swagger of an Amelia Meath (Sylvan Esso) and the hymnal quality of Florence Welch (Florence and the Machine). Last night at The Bowery Ballroom, the first of two sold-out New York City shows, the singer-songwriter took center stage donning a custom white denim suit designed by Christian Joy. The room was filled with the chirping of crickets as Rogers opened with “Color Song” and her frenetic dance moves were unleashed.
After the dance-pop track “Dog Years,” the recent graduate offered a slow jam written for a crush entitled “Say It.” Wise beyond her years, Rogers pensively acknowledged not only how much has changed for her in the past year, but also the world itself. “Global grief hangs heavy as summer heat,” the first lines of “Hashtag,” rang especially true for the sunny front earlier in the day and the current political climate. She revealed that “Little Joys” was the first song she wrote in NYC and admitted the opening was inspired by Sharon Van Etten. Light on the material, a cover of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” was reimagined with dance beats ebbing and flowing into the folk-rock classic.
Before the final song, Rogers became teary and choked up recounting the times she had previously been to The Bowery Ballroom as an audience member. She pulled herself together, saying, “I really love making music,” and culminated the evening with the track that had left Pharrell virtually speechless. No longer a fledgling songwriter, the world awaits the next chapter of Ms. Maggie Rogers. —Sharlene Chiu
Tags: Amelia Meath, Bowery Ballroom, Christian Joy, Florence and the Machine, Florence Welch, Live Music, Maggie Rogers, Music, Neil Young, New York City, Pharrell Williams, Photos, Pip Cowley, Review, Sharlene Chiu, Sharon Van Etten, Sylvan Esso, That the Light Is Fading
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Tags: ACLU, Beirut, Brooklyn, Daniel Rossen, Hand Habits, Kevin Morby, Live Music, Mike Benigno, Music, Music Hall of Williamsburg, New York City, Photos, Planned Parenthood, Sharon Van Etten
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Big Thief – The Bowery Ballroom – January 7, 2017
With the release of their well-received first album, Masterpiece, last year, Brooklyn’s Big Thief had a big 2016. On Saturday night, the band played a hometown show at The Bowery Ballroom, treating the sold-out crowd to well-loved songs from their debut as well as new material from a second record that Big Thief frontwoman Adrianne Lenker said is “close.” In a word, Big Thief’s music might best be described as emotional—Lenker channels a great deal of feeling through her evocative voice, ranging from sweet and delicate to plaintive to a near-shout or wail. Songs like Masterpiece’s “Real Love” and “Parallels” each illustrated this emotional landscape, with moments of sadness, anger and yearning simmering beneath Lenker’s voice and lyrics. The new material lingered in the same satisfying emotional sweet spots.
Big Thief also treated the crowd to a performance from special guest Sharon Van Etten, who knows a thing or two about emotional melodies herself, and who joined to sing on some of the new material, beautifully weaving her voice around Lenker’s. At various moments throughout the show, Lenker poked fun at her own guitar-tuning perfectionism, taking short pauses between some songs to ensure she had it just right. But despite her self-awareness, this attention to detail served Big Thief well: Their warm, spare instrumentation, the vivid lyrics and the conviction behind each verse and chorus are what have drawn admirers to them, and why the new album on the horizon stands to resonate with fans once again. —Alena Kastin | @AlenaK
Tags: Adrianne Lenker, Alena Kastin, Big Thief, Bowery Ballroom, Buck Meek, James Krivchenia, Live Music, Lower East Side, Masterpiece, Max Oleartchick, Music, New York City, Review, Sharon Van Etten
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Mitski – Music Hall of Williamsburg – July 27, 2016
In the unassuming manner that parallels the approach to her craft, Mitski Miyawaki took the stage last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg with just her trusty guitar and drummer. From the sight of the sold-out crowd of onlookers tightly pressing toward the front, you’d have thought some enthralling spectacle was about to begin, yet the rapt attraction was for a lone voice that has quietly become a sensation in the indie-music universe. The quaver of that voice, tenderly riding the smartly arranged songs she’s written, had the aesthetic of nimbly skimming above the babbles and currents of her guitar, like a darting river bird just above the surface of the water. It also revealed the raw emotional investment in the conception of the lyrics it delivers—lyrics that carry things from parts of self that don’t come out in the daylight, in a voice that is speaking to people in a manner transparently identifiable and profound.
Such have been the characteristics linked to Mitski’s since she composed her first two albums as music-school projects. Now, with her newest work, Puberty 2, a personal tour de force that has everyone gushing, her songwriting’s reach has extended, firmly grabbing hold of listeners. There’s irony in the sense received that the meaning she derives from the music she plays may be greater in isolation, in an empty room and as a means to cope. But Mitski’s first address of the crowd debunked this notion: “Thank you for letting my music be part of your lives…. Thank you for giving my music meaning.”
Over steady feedback buzz running in the background, Mitski coursed through a quick set of well-chosen songs that got right to the point of her purpose. It was a reminder that amidst all of the common hoopla of live performance, the bells and whistles of display and texture and atmosphere building, all you may really need is singular emotion on a stage, communicated through a telepathic syncing of guitar-and-drum pattern. Mitski showed that engaging mixture of vulnerability with badass posturing, at one point letting down her hair as the torment of her expression reached its peak. Although these were songs distinctly from a young woman’s perspective, everyone was equally transfixed, subdued by the power of songwriting that stands on its own. Mitski is Sharon Van Etten with bruised elbows, inspiring through resilient defiance in song. —Charles Steinberg | @Challyolly
Photos courtesy of Julia Berke | juliaberkephoto.com
Richmond, Va., singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus (above, performing “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore” for Audiotree Live) has been getting a lot of love this year. In January, Rolling Stone labeled her a New Artist You Need to Know, adding that she “has a knack for writing disarmingly open indie rock songs, with plainspoken lyrics that hit even harder thanks to her soft, sturdy alto.” And that was before her debut full-length even arrived. No Burden (stream it below) came out in late February to a flood of praise. NPR proclaimed, “The power-pop songs are naturally rootsy, embodying an authentic Southern soul. Yet the 20-year-old singer-songwriter’s voice transcends her locale and her age, a confident blend of Sharon Van Etten’s aching power, Jenny Lewis’ cool drawl and Courtney Barnett’s bright wit.” While Pitchfork added, “Lead guitar lines pour in the like slow columns of sunlight, and Dacus’ voice itself is a comforting blur.” Find out what all the fuss is about when she plays Rough Trade NYC tomorrow night. Local favorite Sam Cohen opens.
Tags: Brooklyn, Courtney Barnett, Jenny Lewis, Live Music, Lucy Dacus, Music, New York City, No Burden, Preview, Rough Trade NYC, Sam Cohen, Sharon Van Etten, Video, Williamsburg
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Torres – The Bowery Ballroom – January21, 2016
Mackenzie Scott, better known as Torres, was brought up in Georgia as a Baptist and attended a Christian university. During that time, she recorded her first album, Torres. Scott then traveled to England to compose her sophomore full-length, Sprinter, the lyrics drenched in her religious upbringing. It’s exactly this openness that entices listeners to Scott’s haunting yet powerful voice. Torres’s bare, emotional pang harkens to singers like Sharon Van Etten (whom she’s opened for) and Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee). She wrote on her Tumblr, “Playing my favorite room in NYC, The Bowery Ballroom, two days before I turn 25. I am, to borrow the colloquialism, pumped.” So last night, Scott took to the stage of her choice venue, which she sold out, for an early birthday party.
Clad in white, Torres and her band opened with “Mother Earth, Father God,” from her self-titled debut. Apart from a two-year difference, the lyrics “In January I will just be 23” rang especially true on “New Skin.” Scott proceeded to hit her most recent catalog of songs from the pulsating, bass-heavy “Cowboy Guilt” to the crowd favorite “Sprinter.” The singer-songwriter seamlessly moved from heavy rock to hushed lullabylike coos. After a quick guitar change, delicate strums for a solo on “Strange Hellos” quickly blossomed into some serious shredding, causing the audience to erupt in applause. Torres couldn’t help but note that this was her favorite show and a homecoming of sorts making the evening extra special. A few fans punctuated the occasion with birthday wishes. Scott closed her set with “The Harshest Light” before returning to encore with an oldie but goodie, “November Baby.” Here’s to a most happy birthday, Ms. Scott. —Sharlene Chiu
Make no mistake: Matthew E. White is a musician. He’s a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and arranger, and he even formed his own label, Spacebomb Records, which uses a house band—led by White on guitar, Cameron Ralston on bass, Pinson Chanselle on drums and Trey Pollard on guitar—for all of its work. “White has built a potential powerhouse the likes of which haven’t been seen since the late ’50s and ’60s, since the heyday of Motown and Stax Records,” according to New Republic. “A studio that produces records with a house band and a rotating stable of musicians, taking advantage of local creativity and regional flavor.” Growing up in Virginia Beach and the Philippines, White listened to the likes of the Band, Curtis Mayfield, Brian Wilson, and ’60s and ’70s R&B, and he’s worked with Justin Vernon, Megafaun, Natalie Prass, the Mountain Goats and Sharon Van Etten, in addition to leading the avant-garde jazz big band Fight the Big Bull. In theory, that should really be enough for just one guy. But for Matthew E. White, it wasn’t. So Spacebomb Records put out his acclaimed debut full-length, Big Inner (stream it below), in 2013, reminding many of Randy Newman’s early work, thanks to White’s unique take on things. And he followed that with this year’s exceptional Fresh Blood (stream it below), which the Guardian labeled “a delicious second helping,” and about which, NPR Music opined, “The high quality of performance and arranging, the generous spirit of its narrator, the ear-candy moments of instant comfort that permeate Fresh Blood—all that is how Matt White and his crew salute their inspirations.” And as good as his albums are, White and Co. (above, doing “Rock & Roll Is Cold” for KEXP FM) are even better live. So don’t miss him on Friday night at Rough Trade NYC.
Tags: Big Inner, Brian Wilson, Cameron Ralston, Curtis Mayfield, Fight the Big Bull, Fresh Blood, Justin Vernon, Live Music, Matthew E. White, Megafaun, Motown, Mountain Goats, Music, Natalie Prass, Pinson Chanselle, Preview, Randy Newman, Rough Trade NYC, Sharon Van Etten, Stax, the Band, Video
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Conor Oberst – Music Hall of Williamsburg – June 6, 2015
“Who’s tired out there?” asked Conor Oberst from the stage of Music Hall of Williamsburg at around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, eliciting a hearty response from many in the sold-out crowd. “You and me both,” said the musician solemnly. Oberst and his band had indeed had a busy day, performing a set at Governors Ball earlier that evening and then taking the stage in Brooklyn around 12:30 in the morning, following a surprise set by Sharon Van Etten. And while the band may have felt a little worse for wear, they managed to summon some hidden energy reserves for a nearly two-hour show.
Oberst and his band highlighted material from his most recent record, 2014’s Upside Down Mountain, an album that highlights his evolution as a songwriter over the past several years, with much of the angst and anxiety that fueled his early work in Bright Eyes giving way to a more philosophical take on his place in world. Yet Oberst didn’t shy away from putting this evolution on display, with new songs like “Time Forgot,” “Double Life” and “Hundreds of Ways” taking their place alongside 2002’s “Laura Laurent” and “Lover I Don’t Have to Love.” And despite his fatigue, Oberst also didn’t shy away from some of his more aggressive numbers, pragmatically removing his hat so that he could bang his head around to “Governor’s Ball” and “Another Travelin’ Song,” taking several opportunities to stand precariously on the drum kit while singing and strumming.
A little past 2:00 a.m., the band and crowd were still going strong, and Oberst ended the night with another complementary juxtaposition of songs: the lovely ode to being young and lonely in New York City, “Lua”—nicely augmented with vocals by Larkin Poe and a trumpet solo from Nathaniel Walcott—followed by a jittery, rowdy rendition of Oberst’s passionate entreaty “I Don’t Want to Die (In the Hospital).” And with that, a good night’s sleep was well earned, for musicians and audience alike. —Alena Kastin | @AlenaK
Inspired by the likes of Burt Bacharach and Harry Nilsson, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Brian Christinzio released his first one-man-band BC Camplight album, the piano-driven psych-pop Hide, Run Away (stream it below), in 2005. AllMusic compared the dark material with a sunny sound to the New Pornographers and Ben Folds. Another LP followed, but then … not much else. Fighting depression, he’d occasionally perform with the War on Drugs and he appeared on a Sharon Van Etten album. But thinking of himself as “the guy who blew it” and realizing he’d “be dead or in jail if I stayed” in Philadelphia, Christinzio left the United States and settled in Manchester, England, in 2012. He began playing music again and now, eight years since his previous release, BC Camplight (above, doing “Grim Cinema” for WFUV FM) has a new album, How to Die in the North (stream it below), released this past January. Per AllMusic, it “sounds like the product of an artist restored. Bold, beautiful, campy, heartbreaking and flush with moxie, Christinzio’s third outing is a left-field gem.” See him Friday night at Rough Trade NYC. Local quartet the Rally and singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tall Juan open the show.
Tags: BC Camplight, Ben Folds, Brian Christinzio, Burt Bacharach, Harry Nilsson, Hide Run Away, How to Die in the North, Live Music, Music, New Pornographers, Preview, Rough Trade NYC, Sharon Van Etten, Tall Juan, the Rally, Video, War on Drugs
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Known for his low voice and a dark sense of humor, Australian singer-songwriter-guitarist Tim Rogers has been winning over fans—and earning comparisons to Nick Cave and Mark Lanegan—for a decade under the name Jack Ladder. He began making acoustic music prior to turning toward New Wave and then ultimately deciding to go in a bolder, more cinematic direction with the help of a new backing band, the Dreamlanders: Donny Benét (bass), Kirin Callinan (guitar), Laurenz Pike (drums) and Frank Sutherland (synths). Their latest effort, Playmates (stream it below), featuring Sharon Van Etten, came out in the States on Fat Possum Records last month. Rolling Stone gave the album four stars and mentioned “Ladder’s dark baritone sounds freshly liberated and focused.” Fresh off this year’s SXSW, Jack Ladder & the Dreamlanders (above, performing “Hurtsville” live in concert for MoshCam) play Rough Trade NYC tomorrow night. Brooklyn psych-pop trio Invisible Familiars and talented singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sam Cohen, also of Kings County (and Yellowbirds fame), open the show.
Tags: Donny Benét, Fat Possum Records, Frank Sutherland, Invisible Familiars, Jack Ladder, Jack Ladder & the Dreamlanders, Kirin Callinan, Laurenz Pike, Mark Lanegan, Nick Cave, Playmates, Preview, Rough Trade NYC, Sam Cohen, Sharon Van Etten, Tim Rogers, Video, Yellowbirds
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Sharon Van Etten – Warsaw – February 18, 2015
Sharon Van Etten is known and appreciated for her powerful voice and ability to craft evocative and often haunting songs like “Your Love Is Killing Me,” a blunt title with equally disquieting lyrics. So, it can be a illuminating experience to witness the author of such bleak sentiments in a live setting—as a sold-out crowd did last night at Warsaw—and realize that Van Etten also happens to be quite funny, self-deprecating and downright cheerful, even while singing lines like “I wanted to try for you/ Wanted to die for you/ Dramatic things” from “Leonard.”
The act of performing may be therapeutic, but it’s also clearly just a lot of fun for Van Etten, and she gave her hometown Brooklyn crowd a set that touched on material from her most recent album, Are We There, like “Tarifa,” “Taking Chances” and “Break Me,” as well as numbers from records both previous and forthcoming, “Love More,” “I Don’t Want to Let You Down,” plus even a lovely cover of Damien Jurado’s “Museum of Flight.” (“To those of you who know this song, air high five!”) Van Etten’s vocals were beautifully complemented by backup singer Heather Woods Broderick and rounded out with instrumentation that included flourishes of saxophone and harmonium.
The night’s final song began with a false start due to a guitar-tuning snafu, after which Van Etten charmingly poked fun at herself, and upon regaining composure (and finding the right key), the singer-songwriter and her band proceeded to play a searing version of “Serpents,” perhaps the set’s most intense and raw song. For her part, Van Etten seemed at home making lighthearted banter with the crowd and with the visceral bite of the song, while the audience was simply captivated by it all. —Alena Kastin | @AlenaK
Leon Bridges – Mercury Lounge – February 17, 2015
On the strength of just two songs—produced by White Denim guitarist Austin Jenkins and drummer Josh Block—posted to his Soundcloud, Leon Bridges announced his considerable talents to the world a few months back. Not much was known about him beyond his name and that he hailed from Fort Worth, Texas—and oh, yeah, his gospel-meets-soul vocals reminiscent of Sam Cooke’s. And from there things began to build. Bridges was signed to Columbia Records (a full-length album is due later this year), and he further made a name for himself performing alongside much bigger acts at a Nina Simone tribute at Sundance last month. This week he arrived in New York City for a pair of dates supporting Sharon Van Etten at Warsaw, plus his very own headlining show at Mercury Lounge last night, which sold out well in advance.
Bridges took the stage, stylishly dressed to match his timeless sound, modern while evoking the past, joined by Jenkins and Block, plus another guitarist, a bassist and a sax player, all dressed in suits, and two backing singers in dresses. It’s probably safe to assume that the majority of the people in the room only knew, at best, two songs. And the eight-piece kicked off the set with one of them, “Better Man.” Bridges is still relatively new to touring and performing—he didn’t even introduce the band—so he didn’t chat too much between songs, although he did say, “This next one’s dedicated to Rosario Dawson” before they launched into “Brown Skin Girl.”
The second tune everyone seemed to know, “Coming Home,” had the swaying crowd singing along. Bridges gave others their own moments to shine, especially Block, who, resembling a young Levon Helm, held together everything over the course of the 50-minute performance. The stage cleared after the 12th song, but after some hearty applause, Bridges returned on guitar backed by just the two singers for a gorgeous “River,” eliciting some of the loudest crowd response of the night and smiles across the packed room. It was the perfect musical antidote to the cold, snowy night. The singer-songwriter is still raw, he’s not even six months removed from bussing tables, but big things await Leon Bridges.
—R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog
Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com
Make no mistake: Matthew E. White is a musician. He’s a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and arranger, and he even founded his own label in Richmond, Va., Spacebomb Records, which uses a house band—led by White on guitar, Cameron Ralston on bass and Pinson Chanselle on drums—for all of its work. Growing up in Virginia Beach and the Philippines, White listened to the likes of the Band, Curtis Mayfield, Brian Wilson and Stax-era R&B, and he has worked with Justin Vernon, Megafaun, the Mountain Goats and Sharon Van Etten, in addition to leading the avant-garde jazz big band Fight the Big Bull. In theory, that should really be enough for just one guy. But for Matthew E. White, it wasn’t. So last year, Spacebomb Records put out his acclaimed debut full-length, the soulful Big Inner (stream it below), reminding many of Randy Newman’s early work, thanks to White’s unique take on things. And upon the album’s release in the UK last winter, The Guardian said it “feels like a genuine revelation.” White (above, doing “Big Love” earlier this year at The Bowery Ballroom for Moshcam) is currently on tour with the Spacebomb Revue, which brings him, alongside electronic producer and multi-instrumentalist Dosh and Howard Ivans—a dance project led by the Rosebuds’ Ivan Howard—to Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow night.
Tags: Big Inner, Brian Wilson, Cameron Ralston, Curtis Mayfield, Fight the Big Bull, Justin Veronon, Matthew E. White, Megafuan, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Poinson Chanselle, Preview, Randy Newman, Sharon Van Etten, Spacebomb Records, Stax, the Band, the Mountain Goats, Video
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