Any other rainy Sunday night would find us Netflix-ing but this week we decided to beat our Sunday scaries by heading to Brooklyn Steel (319 Frost St) to see a night of talented bands. Pure Bathing Culture and Land of Talk may have been the openers for American Football but the entire lineup provided stellar performances. Since Brooklyn Steel tends to be a pretty prompt venue, if you had arrived slightly late on Sunday, you would have regretted missing either of these opening bands. Continue reading
Last Thursday night at Rough Trade (64 N 9th St) opened with Michael Nau performing to a packed room. Nau’s rich warm tones gave a welcoming feel to the cold November night. Previously the frontman for Page France and Cotton Jones, Nau’s style is relaxing with a rock beat that enables the listener to truly feel like being on a sort of vacation. It’s evident that Nau writes music purely because he enjoys doing so, that he is naturally moved to write it. This puts a heartwarming personal stamp on his songs, everpresent during his performance.
This (sort of) escapism journey continued with David Bazan as he zoomed into giving an other worldly performance. While Bazan and his band unleashed a more thunderous sound than Nau, Bazan remained connected to his spirit. When he often closed his eyes onstage, you could really feel that presence—and that let his talent take over the stage, unobstructed. It’s not always easy to let others into a personal inner world, but Bazan was able to succeed at this. The audience was transported straight into his inner world and feelings. Continue reading
First off, go see the Cherubs at Saint Vitus (1120 Manhattan Ave) on November 17th (the 16th is sold out).
I had a friend in high school who in the early 90’s introduced me to what I’ll lamely call here ‘Texas music.’ To me that signifies a big sound with a lot of chaos, bass that sounds like guitars, and guitars that sound like bass, and heavy but not in any way burdensome drums. And probably some vocals buried in there somewhere, too. That all somehow comes together at the end, no matter how many loose ends it took to get there.
The Butthole Surfers were a name I knew through skate magazines, but it was really when this friend let a Nirvana/Jesus Lizard split-single play through that my concept of music at that moment instantly flipped (it would’ve been more appropriate if it’d been a 45 instead of a CD). Just as I was hearing a Nirvana that was rougher and less produced than Nevermind (but more structurally sound than Bleach), I was hit right in the face with “Puss”.
Brooklyn-based singer songwriter, Josh Ritter and his Royal City Band, provided safe harbor from the storm at Brooklyn Steel (309 Frost St) during Sunday’s torrential downpour. The weather was a nice touch for a show supporting Ritter’s ninth full-length studio album, Gathering, an album Ritter has described as a “record full of storms”.
This is Ritter’s 20th year of playing and recording music and his latest album, while marking a departure from some of his more traditional folk roots by incorporating aspects of rockabilly and gospel, remains original, fresh and an organic next step. His songs across these nine albums span the full spectrum of the human experience, allowing his listeners to reach for one during a break up, one when experiencing the giddiness of new love, another when at a crossroads, but all with an undercurrent of optimism that leads you to believe that even when your heart is breaking, there’s a silver lining you just haven’t uncovered yet. It is likely that this is the reason that Sunday’s audience clearly felt such a strong connection to each word and poetic turn of phrase he performed on stage. Returning to Ritter’s music often feels like an old friend draping a warm and comforting blanket around your shoulders. Continue reading
MySpace Indie Sensation, Black Kids, Return With New Album Rookie and an Attempt to Revive Bandcamp + Playing Baby’s All Right (10/23)
You might expect Reggie Youngblood to be in the internet know—his indie pop band Black Kids blew up as an internet sensation after posting their EP Wizard of Ahhhhs on Myspace back in 2007. But he will be the first to admit that he has not kept up with the inter webs. After a decade of working, not working and then working on Black Kids’ newest album, Rookie, Youngblood decided they should share it on Bandcamp. Who could argue with free downloads? But offering this thought was not alluring to fans, he joked, “..no one really wants to download things anymore, and that everyone really just wanted to get the record streaming on Spotify or Apple Music.”
When he was a kid in the San Francisco Bay area, Matt L. Roar’s mom and dad formed a blues band with him on bass, his little brother on sax, mom on the keys and dad on guitar. A guy from their church, who would wear a hat with red lights on it during shows, played the drums. They would perform at watering holes out in the East Bay, and Matt’s dad would dress him up in a big coat and hat as a cheap disguise—to hide the fact that he was only twelve years old and hanging out in a bar. After growing up, playing in hardcore punk bands in San Francisco and the East Bay and later moving to North Brooklyn several years ago, Matt L. Roar is definitely no newbie to the indie music scene.
Equally influenced by a DIY punk ethos, modern rappers like Lil Yachty, oldschool hiphop (Wu Tang and Tribe) and the old timey sounds of Woody Guthrie’s wails, his musical project Golden West Service is an idiosyncratic blend of garage, punk, noise, lo-fi 8-bit and a number of other genres. On GWS’s newly released first full-length album When You Die, he collaborates with a variety of musical friends, including Tim Hellman (OhSees/Flat Worms), who plays guitar on three songs; Evan Smith (Russian Baths) who plays bass on almost the entire record, and Jah Jah Brown (local punk rappers Ninjasonik) does vocals on one of the tracks. His younger brother Aaron Rohrer plays sax on one of the songs, poet Marisa Crawford performs on another and, and friend Andy Del Calvo laid down some drums for the song Blackbird.
We chatted with him about his new album, and the best local venues to see live music (The Gutter, Silent Barn, Trans Pecos and RIP Greenpoint Heights). Continue reading
It’s always a treat when Thee Oh Sees go on tour and play a few shows in Brooklyn. I always make it a point to go at least once because it’s nothing short of awesome. Thee Oh Sees psyched out the crowd at the Warsaw (261 Driggs Avenue) with dynamic jams with loud-meets-fast-riffs.
West coast band Oh Sees (recently/formerly/still pretty much known as Thee Oh Sees) are bringing their special blend of crunchy noisy dirty dancy garage rock to Warsaw (261 Driggs Ave) on Saturday September 9th and Sunday September 10th. ($24 tickets here) If you’ve never seen them live, you are in for a bonkers rock out to ultra-legit rock n’ roll. Their jams are sweaty, powerful, and will most likely knock your socks off. They’re currently touring to support their latest album, Orc, which was released at the end of August. It’s total psychedelic garage trash, and that’s a good thing.
Lucky for you, we’re giving away two pairs of tickets to the Warsaw shows, one pair for each night. Fill out this form by 5pm on September 8th for a chance to win. Winners will be selected at random.
Frankie Rose, an original member of Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls and Vivian Girls, introduced her fourth album Cage Tropical at Baby’s All Right (146 Broadway) before she heads out on her US and European tour. Frankie’s performance was a shimmery 80s daydream: ultra-confident and unapologetic, yet she exuded a mellow energy. Her vocals were glimmery and ethereal. And, psychedelic projections that changed for each song—from an atomic bomb to flashing disco palm trees—set a powerful backdrop to her intoxicating voice. Continue reading
Williamsburg-based singer/songwriter, and dark-humored Brad Cantor released his first solo album a couple weeks ago, under the moniker Glass Valley. The 60s and 70s-inpired dreampop album—which takes a few whispery pages from Velvet Underground and Elliott Smith—brings you on one man’s journey as he closes the door on his 30s and enters his 40s. Brad, a self-proclaimed “aging Brooklyn hipster,” wrote 22 songs after a trip to Joshua Tree, where he had time to reflect on the past decade of his life. When he returned to Brooklyn, the songs quickly poured out in an emotional stream of consciousness, and nine of them made it onto his debut album An Intimate Man. There’s a section in the track Young Hip and Old where he croons, “Everything’s gotten boring and we lost our way. Every party feels so forced, we ran out of things to say. The nights got less glamorous as our friends starting dropping off,” reflecting his stunted coming of age in early 2000s Brooklyn.
I chatted with Brad about how, in the music world it’s a little unusual for anyone to release their first album at age 40. “We don’t value older artists,” Brad says. “We don’t value their creativity. We don’t value their experience.” There’s a general consensus that when you’re younger you “embrace the craziness and rash decision making,” and as you age, you slowly shut down the most creative parts of your brain. “Fear makes people say things like that,” Brad says. So while on this album he may be resigning himself to getting older (on Golden Age: “It’s romantic to think that we’ll conquer the world, But most roads lead to rust belt cities, and gray rivers flow to dead ports, while strip malls decay in neglected suburbs. There was never a golden age, but life has a way of making it seem that way”), the brilliantly-executed record as a whole defies the idea that creativity fades after people reach a certain age. Continue reading