Tag Archives: War on Drugs

cat_preview

The War on Drugs Are in Fine Form at Brooklyn Steel on Sunday Night

April 9th, 2018

The War on Drugs – Brooklyn Steel – April 8, 2018

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

While Adam Granduciel described the show as a sort of one-off warm-up for Coachella, the War on Drugs played their sold-out Sunday show at Brooklyn Steel with a Saturday ferocity and the confidence and skill of a band at the end of a long tour. Granduciel asked if “Everyone’s feeling good?” before launching into an opening set of songs—“Brothers,” “Pain” and “An Ocean in Between the Waves”—that interlaced stoner-poetry lyrics with crackling guitar rock-outs. The recent Grammy winners brought best-rock-album energy to the show, often lit by bright white shafts of light that added an arena-strength visual to the set. For a while it seemed like each tune would top the last, longer jams and more of them.

Midway through, Granduciel promised a “big reveal,” a special guest, after a couple of songs that had the crowd buzzing with who-could-it-be? anticipation. Finally, they brought out Craig Finn, who shared vocals, leading the War on Drugs through a cover of Warren Zevon’s “Accidentally Like a Martyr,” which shifted the tone and gave the band a new space to work out figure-eight excursions. After Finn left the stage, the energy shifted in a more exploratory direction with a powerhouse stretch that stitched “Holding On,” the ambient space-out “The Haunting Idle” and “In Reverse” into a single psychedelic medley, the mood enhanced by beams of pastels swirling around the stage. The encore opened with an not-played-too-often cover of Tom Petty’s “Time to Move On,” a perfect fit for the time, place and band as the War on Drugs head out West, probably not needing it, but indeed, fully warmed up for Coachella and whatever else lies ahead. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

Contest

Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See the War on Drugs on 4/8

April 3rd, 2018

1

The War on Drugs return this weekend to play Brooklyn Steel on Sunday night. The show is already sold out, but if you got shut out on tickets, you can still try to Grow a Pair of them from The House List. It’s pretty 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 (War on Drugs, 4/8) and a brief message explaining which is your favorite song on A Deeper Understanding. Eddie Bruiser, who insists on listening to this album only on vinyl, will notify the winner by Friday afternoon. Good luck.

(The War on Drugs return this summer to play Panorama on 7/27.)

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Subject

Your Message

cat_reviews

It’s the End of the Year as We Know It

December 28th, 2017

With 2018 fast approaching, The House List takes a look back at 2017.

Adela Loconte, Photographer @adelaloconte
Top Five Favorite Shows
1.
At the Drive-In, Terminal 5, March 22
2. Arca & Jesse Kanda Live, Brooklyn Steel, July 6
3. The Flaming Lips, Terminal 5, March 9
4. PJ Harvey, Brooklyn Steel, April 20
5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kings Theatre, November 7

Chad Berndtson, Writer @cberndtson
Top Five Favorite Shows
No music fan sees everything, and so much depends on the time, the night, the conditions—my ephemeral joys might be your disappointments. That’s part of the fun, right? Among scores of shows I saw in 2017, here are five nights that stuck with me.
1. Drive By Truckers, The Space at Westbury, February 10
One of the great live bands of the last 20 years has gotten leaner and meaner, unafraid of political jabs or paint-peeler guitar solos.
2. Explosions in the Sky, Capitol Theatre, April 22
Ominous music, loaded with portent, staring into the abyss or looking with a smile at some triumph high in the sky. Heavy, cinematic and deep.
3. Jerry Joseph & the Jackmormons, Mercury Lounge, April 30
A master class in old-school, highly emotional rock energy. Still don’t understand why more people don’t know him, 30-plus years into a career of rough-scuffed folk rock delivered sometimes with tenderness and sometimes with Crazy Horse–like abandon.
4. The xx, Forest Hills Stadium, May 19
OK, I’m buying: Hipster as hell, but what they did was paint an outdoor venue in darkly beautiful soundscapes. The most fun I’ve had getting lost in a band in some time. They turn large, unforgiving venues into intimate listening rooms—and get you dancing.
5. Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Music Hall of Williamsburg, November 20
Nelson has learned a lot from two musical dads: his actual dad, Willie, and also Neil Young, whom the Promise of the Real have backed on and off for years now. The type of show that defines the word swagger—a generous meal of rock, country, folk, blues and R&B by an old-school showman barely in his prime.

Dan Rickershauser, Writer @d4nricks
Top Five Favorite Albums
1.
Big Thief, Capacity
The one record I found myself returning to again and again. It was a shitty year, but something about this album soothed my sorrows. Adrianne Lenker’s songs feel personal yet completely pull you in. May she never let go.
2. Kendrick Lamar, Damn.
This may be my least favorite Kendrick Lamar record to date and yet it’s still the second best album that came out this year. The man’s a legend and the world seems to know it. It’s a good thing he’s so humble.
3. The War on Drugs, A Deeper Understanding
Adam Granduciel, the obsessive studio wizard, put out another beauty, this record even more gorgeous than the last. It’s the sound of rock perfection from a perfectionist.
4. Waxahatchee, Out in the Storm
Katie Crutchfield’s songwriting just keeps getting better. She comes out of the gates swinging with some dangerously catchy jams.
5. Grizzly Bear, Painted Ruins
Of all the great indie bands of the late Aughts returning with new albums this year, Grizzly Bear’s takes the cake. Way too many critics slept on this one!

Pat King, Writer @mrpatking
Top Five Favorite Albums
1. Jens Lekman, Life Will See You Now
I had never really given Jens Lekman a chance as a songwriter, but this year it finally clicked for me in a big way. I got laid off from a job that I thought I loved early on in 2017 and was feeling pretty lost and listless in life. I was taking the train from the city to upstate New York to help my dad with a few big projects and was feeling incredibly low sitting alone on Metro North. All of the sudden, I heard “To Know Your Mission” and was completely overcome with emotion. It was the perfect tune for me at that time and each song that followed helped me understand my situation a little more clearly. I couldn’t believe how wise and endearing Lekman is as a lyricist.
2. Mark Mulcahy, The Possum in the Driveway
Whenever the discussion veers toward musicians who have not been given their just dues, I always think of Mark Mulcahy. As the frontman of Miracle Legion and the Nickelodeon-sponsored Polaris (“ay-yay-yay-yi, Hey Sandy”), Mulcahy had been known for a certain type of feel-good college jangle pop that was certainly a product of the ’90s. What many people may not realize is that his solo releases have been more emotionally and musically rewarding than either of those old projects, and he’s been one of few artists who each album he releases is better than his last. Over the past couple of decades he has reinvented himself as one of the great American balladeers, with lyrics and a voice that can cut you down to the bone. This year’s the Possum in the Driveway is a brilliant testament to his powers as a songwriter and one that proves he is in a league of his own.
3. Pallbearer, Heartless
Pallbearer have always shown promise of being one the best doom-metal bands around. But with their self-titled third album, they’ve transcended the genre and gelled into one of today’s most exciting rock bands. The songs are slightly shorter (although still around eight minutes) but have somehow intensified their scope in a more epic way. With this LP, Brett Campbell has made his case for being one of the best singers in heavy music. His lines never reach the outrageous heights of some of his peers in metal but bring enough power to stop you in your tracks. The same goes for this record’s instrumentation. The songs never feel like they have too many parts or get played out to the point of metal parody. It’s just a front-to-back banger that finally cemented Pallbearer as one of the best around.
4. Björk, Utopia
There aren’t many artists who you could say are peerless in popular music. Björk is definitely one of those artists. Every time she releases a new album, fans wait with anticipation to see where she if she will be able to clear the bar she set for herself on the one before. Utopia is such a statement as a complete work as she tries to understand and find happiness in her life after exploring decimating heartbreak on her last release, Vulnicura. It’s amazing to hear her reach the same breathtaking heights as a visionary artist this far into her career. Bow down and give respect.
5. Robyn Hitchcock, Robyn Hitchcock
Robyn Hitchcock delivered the back-to-basics Soft Boys–style album that many of his fans had been longing for for years. Teaming up with producer (and ex-Raconteur) Brendan Benson, Hitchcock turned up the amps and delivered 10 near-flawless rock songs that reminded us why he is one of the most inventive songwriters around. His wit as a lyricist is still ever-present, but hearing him deliver guitar parts reminiscent of Underwater Moonlight on songs like “I Want to Tell You What I Want” and “Mad Shelley’s Letterbox” was one of the most welcome surprises of 2017 for me.
Pat King’s Top 20 Best of 2017 Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/126049064/playlist/2idgUHVCiGSJqKkwkfex8v?si=wewT–RFRfWWxEVV3rmWsQ.

Sharlene Chiu, Writer
Top Five Favorite Shows with “New” Artists
1. SZA, Brooklyn Steel, December 10

So if you haven’t yet heard of SZA, you won’t be able to escape her name anytime soon. Riding a debut album that has already produced two platinum singles, the singer played a very sold-out Brooklyn Steel the night after performing on SNL. Her vibrant stage presence was supported by the Sing Harlem Choir. Girl’s going places and you’ll see her next year at the Grammy’s, where she’s the most nominated woman with five nods.
2. Maggie Rogers, The Bowery Ballroom, April 11
When a video of Pharrell’s reaction to Ms. Rogers’ demo of “Alaska” went viral, she was on the up-and-up. Her performance at a sold-out Bowery Ballroom was not only a homecoming, but it was also a beginning of bigger stages and larger audiences. She became teary and confessional near the end of the set, reminiscing about the previous times she’d been to the venue as an audience member. After her pair of Bowery shows, she set off on a whirlwind international tour taking her to Europe, Australia and Japan.
3. The Cactus Blossoms, Mercury Lounge, July 12
The first time I caught the Cactus Blossoms’ noir-infused honky-tonk was at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco last year. When I saw they would be playing a late show at Mercury Lounge, I had to be there. Friends, I do not go out late on school nights, but for brothers Page Burkum and Jack Torrey, I made an exception. Their languid waltzes were the perfect soundtrack for steamy July.
4. Jay Som, Rough Trade NYC, June 6
A triad of Asian-American songwriters, including Mitski, Japanese Breakfast and Jay Som have been self-producing music since last year. The latter rolled into a sold-out Rough Trade NYC to charm the crowd with not only her skilled musicianship, but also with her charming wit. Som was recently shortlisted by NPR’s All Songs Considered in their year-end best of 2017.
5. Violents and Monica Martin, Rough Trade NYC, April 26
OK, this one isn’t technically new, but the pairing was. Monica Martin, best known as the frontwoman for the now-on-hiatus Phox, and producer Jeremy Larson aka Violents teamed up for this rare tour. Larson has collaborated with female vocalists before, but this one was special. Songs were paired with cinematic footage ranging from scenes from House Party to sweeping black-and-white scenery. What still sticks in my memory was a haunting cover of Frank Ocean’s “Self Control.”

 

 

 

 

cat_preview

The War on Drugs – Terminal 5 – September 19, 2017

September 20th, 2017


(Try to Grow a Pair of tickets to Friday’s sold-out War on Drugs show at SummerStage.)

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

Contest

Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See the War on Drugs on 9/22

September 19th, 2017

grow_03_sm

Touring behind their standout fourth studio album, A Deeper Understanding, the War on Drugs land in New York City this week for two shows. A few tickets still remain to see them tonight at Terminal 5, but their show on Friday at SummerStage is already sold out. But the good news is that The House List is giving away two tickets to see them in Central Park. Want to go? Try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (War on Drugs, 9/22) and a brief message explaining your favorite tune on the new LP. Eddie Bruiser, who’s been listening to it on a loop, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Subject

Your Message

cat_preview

A Double Dose of the War on Drugs in New York City Next Week

September 15th, 2017

Philadelphia’s the War on Drugs craft songs with momentum. The synths underlying “Holding On” (above, performed live on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert), off their latest release, A Deeper Understanding (stream it below), chug along like a runaway train. Over the band’s four full-length albums, songwriter Adam Granduciel and Co. have fine-tuned what was already a well-oiled machine right out of the gates. They enlisted the production help of L.A. engineer Shawn Everett, known for his work on the Alabama Shakes’ masterful Sound & Color, for their first major-label record. A Deeper Understanding takes the War on Drugs’ signature expansive sound and pushes it, well, deeper into new terrains. On “Nothing to Find,” the beats plow through gorgeous swirling soundscapes of analog synths, and Granduciel’s vocals at the end sound like he’s howling into a massive canyon the song’s just blown into the earth. The War on Drugs’ music feels both large and personal, with softer numbers still showcasing a tenderness that sounds just as grandiose. The album’s gorgeously produced, and any little snippet of its soundscapes risks working its way into your head and never leaving. As their sound has grown bigger, so too has the group’s following, snowballing off the success of 2014’s much-acclaimed Lost in the Dream (stream it below). One album later and the New Yorker is ready to propose that they’re rock’s next torchbearers. The War on Drugs will make their case and then some when they return to New York City next week to play Terminal 5 on Tuesday and SummerStage on Friday. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

cat_preview

Don’t Miss Kurt Vile and the Violators Tomorrow at Terminal 5

December 27th, 2016

Ever since amicably parting ways with the War on Drugs, following the band’s tour in support of their debut album, Wagonwheel Blues, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kurt Vile has made a name for himself with a series of stellar EPs and LPs—that have blossomed from fuzzy, lo-fi affairs into spacious, atmospheric endeavors—done solo and as Kurt Vile and the Violators. Wakin on a Pretty Daze (stream it below), out in 2013, built on his earlier work and became a word-of-mouth hit. And with widespread acclaim, Vile’s most recent full-length, B’lieve I’m Goin Down… (stream it below), made waves among critics and fans alike when it arrived last fall. The Guardian called it a “terrific slow-burner,” and the A.V. Club said it’s “easily Vile’s masterpiece to date…. Kurt Vile loosens up as he continues his astounding roll.” And while Kurt Vile and the Violators (above, performing “Pretty Pimpin”) have earned comparisons to Neil Young and Crazy Horse for their recorded material, it’s probably even more apt for their fiery live performances. Catch one of those terrific performances tomorrow night at Terminal 5. Brooklyn psych-folk outfit Woods and multi-instrumentalist Nathan Bowles open the show.

cat_preview

Jared & the Mill Bring Western Indie Rock to Mercury Lounge Tonight

September 1st, 2016

Melding together folk, blues, country and Americana into what they dub “Western indie rock,” Jared & the Mill—Jared Kolesar (vocals and guitar), Michael Carter (banjo and mandolin), Larry Gast III (guitar), Chuck Morriss III (bass), Josh Morin (drums) and Gabe Hall-Rodrigues (keys and accordion)—formed five years ago in Phoenix, making “a lush acoustic-based sound that set big-hearted Lumineers-style folk-rock against the wide, dusty backdrop of their native Southwest,” according to AllMusic. Their first full-length, Western Expansion (stream it below), came out in 2013. “As a debut album in a genre boiling over with groups hoping to make it big playing ersatz folk, Western Expansion is a document that seems completely genuine, Jared & the Mill offering something new in a musical terrain increasing peopled by those who favor playing it safe instead of taking risks,” proclaimed PopMatters. They’ve since toured with the likes of the Zac Brown Band, the War on Drugs and the Killers and released an EP, Life We Chose (stream it below), last year. And with another one, Orme Dugas, arriving next week, Jared & the Mill (above, performing “Home” for Audiotree Live) play the Mercury Lounge tonight. Edison, a Colorado acoustic trio, open this early show.

cat_preview

Cayetana and Weaves Team Up to Take On Mercury Lounge

August 22nd, 2016

Cayetana (above, doing “Serious Things Are Stupid”)—Augusta Koch (vocals and guitar), Allegra Anka (bass) and Kelly Olsen (drums)—rose up out of the Philly D.I.Y. scene five years ago and have been going strong ever since. Their debut full-length, Nervous Like Me (stream it below), arrived in 2014, earning a Band to Watch label from Stereogum and praise from Consequence of Sound: “Cayetana don’t fit in with the most notorious Philadelphia rock bands to emerge of late: the War on Drugs, Kurt Vile and the Violators, Strand of Oaks. But, what the three punk rock mentality purists in Cayetana have in common with their city mates is a debt to the past and willingness to push beyond revivalism in order to create music that sounds necessary—separating themselves from similar-sounding bands by simply doing things better than their competitors.”

Thanks to their self-titled debut LP (stream it below), Weaves (above, performing “Coo Coo”)—Jasmyn Burke (vocals), Morgan Waters (guitar), Spencer Cole (drums) and Zach Bines (bass)—also earned Stereogum’s Band to Watch label, earlier this year, and—you guessed it—some praise from Consequence of Sound: “Weaves have put themselves at a compelling intersection of pop, noise, and rock. They’ve created their own unique sound, and their self-titled record features more than a handful of fun, exciting songs. Weaves may not be using traditional formulas to craft these songs, but they certainly have a handle on chemistry, and that gives them the potential to create something truly explosive in the future.” The Toronto quartet is currently on the road with Cayetana, and you can catch them both at the late show at Mercury Lounge on Wednesday night.

cat_preview

Steve Gunn Kicks Off Tour at Home at Music Hall of Williamsburg

June 10th, 2016

Steve Gunn and the Outliners – Music Hall of Williamsburg – June 9, 2016

Steve Gunn and the Outliners – Music Hall of Williamsburg – June 9, 2016
Steve Gunn is a guitarists’ guitarist, much in the same way that there are comedians’ comedians (Bill Hicks, Lenny Bruce, Louis CK). He’s earned the respect and admiration of Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis, Wilco and the guy who I buy strings from in the guitar shop off Carmine St. Gunn falls somewhere on the guitar family tree under John Fahey, the legendary master of Americana ragas, and he certainly shares his ability to hold down meditative rhythms while stringing a different melody through them. That he’s able to sing on top of it all (something Fahey rarely did) makes the skill all the more impressive. Back from a recent European tour, Gunn returned home to Brooklyn—at Music Hall of Williamsburg—last night, kicking off his American tour in promotion of the excellent Eyes on the Lineshis Matador debut.

Gunn began as a guitarist for Kurt Vile’s Violators, and Vile got his own start as a guitarist for the War on Drugs. If this tradition holds up, stay tuned for an amazing debut from Jim Elkington, who embellishes Gunn’s tunes with artful twangs of his slide guitar. Elkington and Gunn proved to be impressively skilled, trading guitar solos in an epic call-and-response session off the jams of “Park Bench Smile.” Both made use of racks of guitars and a healthy number of pedals to bleed just the right sound out of their noodling. “Ancient Jules” showcased some of the finest riffs to have come out thus far in 2016, searing through a steady on-the-road flowing rhythm. Mid-set, the crowd started yelling, “More Steve!” “More Steve?” replied Gunn. “What does that even mean? Oh, turn me up?”

The set wound down with just Elkington and Gunn on acoustic guitars for a stripped-down version of the beautiful “Wildwood.” The full band returned for the encore with “Way Out Weather” with Gunn’s guitar drifting in and out of the song like a gentle breeze.
—Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesosteinberg.com

cat_preview

The War on Drugs – Radio City Music Hall – October 8, 2015

October 9th, 2015

The War on Drugs - Radio City Music Hall - October 8, 2015

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesosteinberg.com

cat_preview

BC Camplight Brings Terrific New Music to Rough Trade NYC

June 3rd, 2015

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.

cat_reviews

A Top Five Look Back at 2014

December 31st, 2014

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklers

Top Five Albums
1. The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream
2. Total Control, Typical System
3. Run the Jewels, Run the Jewels 2
4. Coldplay, Ghost Stories
5. Parquet Courts, Sunbathing Animal —Charles Steinberg

Top Five Memorable Shows
1. Feist, Tarrytown Music Hall, 4/10
When I heard Feist was doing a tiny solo acoustic tour, I forked over ducats for this one. There were bits of stand-up-like banter with the audience as she stripped down the material. But what really made the night was a mini-reunion with former bandmate (and ex) Kevin Drew as they dueted on the Broken Social Scene classic “Lover’s Spit.”
2. (tie) Rhye, Webster Hall, 2/21
This performance was a bit misleading because although singer Milosh and producer Robin Hannibal are the members in Rhye, the latter member doesn’t tour. But Milosh’s ethereal voice really is the heart and soul of the pair, and it shone greatest for the hit “Open.” His deceptively androgynous voice sounds at times like Sade or even Antony Hegarty.
(tie) Max Richter, The Bowery Ballroom, 12/7
When I saw that the German-British composer was playing Bowery, I had to hop to it. As Richter usually plays symphony concert halls, it was an interesting choice to play such a smaller venue. The Ballroom felt like a recital hall with the audience entranced. What can I say: I’m a sucker for artists playing unorthodox venues.
3. Glass Animals, The Bowery Ballroom, 7/7
I was recently reminded of this concert when my yoga instructor played “Gooey” in class. Pretty fitting, right? In addition to infectious dance melodies, frontman Dave Bayley’s gangly limbs flayed erratically that evening, bringing to mind another dude named Thom Yorke. The two lads have great music and dance moves to boot. Coincidence? I think not.
4. Phox, Knitting Factory, 7/22
The buzz swirling around this Wisconsin band post-SXSW had me tuned into their album all spring and into the summer. Frontwoman Monica Martin was definitely a bit tipsy, but that didn’t detract from her lush vocals or onstage camaraderie. (Check out Schuyler Rooth’s review of their Mercury Lounge gig.)
5. (tie) Mr. Little Jeans, Rough Trade NYC, 5/10
Opening for Sohn, Norwegian singer Monica Birkenes, aka Mr. Little Jeans, overshadowed the headliner for me. It’s rare when that happens, but this lady has a knack for übercatchy dance-pop songs that streamed through my head all summer. She mentioned how she often came here as a child and was really craving a good slice of pizza. What’s not to love?
(tie) Alvvays, Rough Trade NYC, 7/28
New York City summers are packed with free outdoor gigs throughout the boroughs, but this in-store performance with Alvvays stood out amongst the rest. Their infectiously happy songs illuminated the dark back room of Rough Trade but had folks departing into the night with an extra bounce in their step. —Sharlene Chiu

Top Five Just a Man and His Guitar Solo Sets (chronological order)
1.
Dustin Wong (opening set), The Bowery Ballroom, 4/21
2. Plankton Wat, Trans Pecos, 5/8
3. Steve Gunn, Mercury Lounge, 5/18
4. Willie Watson, Mercury Lounge, 5/21
5. Leif Vollebekk (opening set) The Bowery Ballroom, 11/21 —A. Stein | @Neddyo

Top Five Memorable Shows
1. Sylvan Esso, Rough Trade NYC, 9/11
Both my favorite album and my most memorable live show of 2014 came from Sylvan Esso. Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn possess unwavering emotive energy, and every single lyric and beat has sunk into my psyche . I saw the duo perform live twice this year, most recently at their headlining show at Rough Trade NYC. The duo’s erudite electronica boosted the audience as they performed the entirety of their self-titled debut album plus and few clever covers.
2. Broods, Mercury Lounge, 3/3
Comprised of New Zealander siblings Caleb and Georgia Nott, Broods blend melodic melancholia with sparkling synths and glitchy beats. After getting wrapped up in their self-titled debut EP, I simply had to see them live. Broods played their first NYC show to an incredibly enthusiastic sold-out crowd at Mercury Lounge.
3. Hozier, The Bowery Ballroom, 5/13
Hozier’s rich voice and ardent lyrics sit front and center in his compositions. When he headlined The Bowery Ballroom back in May, he was flanked by equally talented musicians who created dazzling harmonies with choral echoes and rock hooks. Hozier and his bandmates mesmerized the audience, including me.
4. Dan Croll, The Bowery Ballroom, 4/17
Dan Croll’s brand of pop is highly addictive, and his live show is equally intoxicating. He fuses lilting pop, wonky electronica and tribal beats and tops it all off with clever lyrics and airy vocals.
5. Kishi Bashi, The Bowery Ballroom, 6/4
Kishi Bashi has what so many musicians seek, and that is an astounding live presence. It’s as if this guy belongs onstage. Kishi Bashi played back-to-back sold-out New York City shows this past June and stunned audiences with his whimsical finesse and astute lyrics. This picture and my review prove that Kishi Bashi’s live performance is one big euphoric dream sequence. —Schuyler Rooth | @Schuylerspeak

Top Five Albums
1. Under the Pressure, the War on Drugs
Channeling Dylan and Springsteen beneath Adam Granduciel’s vocals and personal struggles to stunning effect, this Philly six-piece put out, for me, far and away the top album of the year.
2. Benjamin Booker, Benjamin Booker
From the very first listen, Benjamin Booker’s self-titled debut sounds familiar, not like you’d previously heard its influences, but rather you’d actually already heard this album. The music is lived in and alive and a joy to listen to again and again.
3. 77, Nude Beach
Eighteen songs that sound like the love children of late-’70s Tom Petty and Elvis Costello. You’ll smile the whole time you listen to it.
4. Dancin’ with Wolves, Natural Child
Recording for the first time as a five-piece, and moving away from gritty garage rock to
a more full-band bluesy country sound (with a side of boogie), these Nashville boys took a huge step forward.
5. Morning Phase, Beck
Six years removed from his previous offering, Beck’s slow-building emotional relative of Sea Change captures you from the very first note. —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog

Top Five Memorable Shows
1. Pearl Jam, I Wireless Center (Moline, Ill.), 10/17
Playing a small (for them) venue (for the first time) on a Friday night in the middle of nowhere, Pearl Jam put on the best show by any band I’ve seen in the past four years. They performed No Code in its entirety and covered Pink Floyd, John Lennon, Van Halen and Neil Young. Frontman Eddie Vedder put it best, comparing the appearance to a blind date: “You get there and she opens the door, and it’s like, she’s hot!”
2. My Morning Jacket, One Big Holiday (Riviera Maya, Mexico), 1/29
I could’ve chosen any of MMJ’s performances from this run, but the last night was the longest show and it particularly stood out thanks to the perfect weather, the we’re-on-vacation-in-the-middle-of-winter party vibe and carefully chosen covers (including Jim James singing, “Something, something, something” in “Rock the Casbah.”)
3. the War on Drugs, The Bowery Ballroom, 3/20
I absolutely loved, loved, loved Under the Pressure and was extremely excited to hear it live. The War on Drugs did not disappoint, plus they even threw in a stellar rendition of “Mind Games” to boot. (As an added bonus, the night began with Drive-By Truckers at Terminal 5 and closed with green sauce and salt-baked goodness at New York Noodletown.
4. Jonathan Wilson, Music Hall of Williamsburg, 2/14
It was a Friday night and Valentine’s Day. But if you were expecting something quiet and romantic, you’d have been way off. Jonathan Wilson and Co. delivered 16 jammed-out (but not self-indulgently) songs over the course of two-and-a-half hours.
5. Deer Tick, Allen Room, 3/6
As part of the American Songbook series, Deer Tick played an incredibly intimate, seated show in front of a wall of windows revealing Columbus Circle below. It was one of those moments that makes you grateful to live in New York City. —R.Z.

 

 

 

cat_preview

The War on Drugs Take a Giant Leap

March 20th, 2014

The War on Drugs – The Bowery Ballroom – March 19, 2014

The War on Drugs – The Bowery Ballroom – March 19, 2014
If you, like most fans of music, find yourself enjoying the new War on Drugs album, Lost in a Dream, seeing them performing it live will give you a reason to obsess over the LP. Most critics consider the new album a nice step forward for the band, but the amount of effort and craft they’ve put behind how the songs sound live makes that step seem much more like a giant leap. Last night at The Bowery Ballroom was the first of the band’s three sold-out shows in the city, so lucky for us New Yorkers, there are more chances to experience their new material in its most perfect form.

Adam Granduciel filled out “Under the Pressure” with a steady undercurrent of impressive guitar work, spackling delicate improvised riffs into every groove. For “Eyes to the Wind,” perhaps the most beautiful song the band has written to date, a scorching saxophone solo burned down every last bit of energy from the tune’s extended climax. “An Ocean in Between the Waves” built up momentum like a staircase, until it almost became out of their control, like the song’s energy was so strong it had the band running to keep up with it. Future sets are bound to include some surprises as well. The War on Drugs brought back “Come to the City” for their encore, performing it for the first time in two years, with Granduciel free to push his voice to its limits—and beyond—as one of the night’s closers.

The War on Drugs have always been able to create an atmosphere around their songs, like their harmonies are plucked out of the synth-driven cosmos. But these new songs made me think it’s more the opposite. Granduciel went through a lot to piece together Lost in a Dream: the end of a long-term relationship, some doubt about his future as a musician. But strong emotions have a way of bending our perception of the world around us. Just like in a dream, it’s our emotions that build the worlds we create in our sleep. And while songs on an album fill out a finite amount of space, performed live, Granduciel’s free to determine how deep we follow those dreams down their wormholes. It’s a band’s call on when to wake us from those dreams. —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesolivierphoto.com

cat_preview

Nightlands Kicks Off Tour Tonight at Mercury Lounge

May 29th, 2013

When War on Drugs’ terrific second album, Slave Ambient, took longer to finish than originally expected, the band’s bassist, Dave Hartley, decided to do something on his own: trading in War on Drugs’ hazy, reverb-heavy guitar jams for the delicate dream pop of his well-received debut solo LP, Forget the Mantra, under the name Nightlands. But that was two-and-a-half years ago. And after touring the world with War on Drugs, multi-instrumentalist—and NBA fan—Hartley (above, doing “So Far So Long”) returned with his second bedroom recording, the stellar Oak Island (stream it below), earlier this year. And tonight at Mercury Lounge, he kicks off a spring tour in support of it.