Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Farmer Dave Scher @ CMJ - Music Hall Of Williamsburg, October 24th, 2009

I really like former Beachwood Spark Farmer Dave Scher's new solo album (although how can you call it solo album with all those other musicians on it?). His mix of rock, psych, reggae and soul is unique I think, and in general this album is a very positive, optimistic recording. I wanted to see all the studio tricks in person, and Farmer Dave did have an ambitious set-up, with two drummers, a guitarist, a bassist, a hammond-organist, and his own multi-instrumental/effects setup. Was it worth all the hassle to lug all that equipment around the country? You bet! They sounded great, and definitely turned some heads opening up with "Bab'lone Nights" and also playing "You Pick Me Up," one of my favs! My only complaint is that since this was a CMJ showcase, MHOW limited his set to 20 minutes, just when they were getting into it! C'mon Man! Laaaaaame. Let 'em play!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Holiday Shores, Small Black, Blondes, Best Coast, Surf City @ Cakeshop CMJ Showcase, October 20th, 2009

CMJ 2009! This line-up was too good to pass up... and the price was right... FREE!

I had to leave work early to catch Holiday Shores, but I'm glad I did! They were my favorite of the night! They looked really young (or maybe I'm just getting old!) but that only means they have lots of potential, right? Did I mention their drummer was scary good? Yeah, he is. Not that the rest were bad, they were all good. But the drummer played some really rhythmically complicated beats almost effortlessly. How does he do it? Probably years of practice and instruction. So it's second nature. I'm jealous. =)

Small Black have a nice new record out, and this was a good chance to check 'em out. I really liked their bass player. He's not afraid to play up high on the neck, and he was jumping around, getting into it. They also did it all without a guitarist, only keyboards and samplers, which isn't common. Nice job guys. Keep at it.

Blondes do the whole 2-man-drum-machines-and-synths-into-effects thing very well. Almost to a point where you have no idea how they are doing it. They were LOUD too, which is good for this type of electronica-psych, and to keep the audience at a safe distance. Oh wait, that's not what you want...

Best Coast probably drew the biggest crowd with the pop-iest sound. Bethany Consentino has a nice voice, but I just couldn't get into the band itself. Where's the energy and excitement? Must be all that west coast sun...

Surf City were definitely the most ALT of night. Kinda like if Dinosaur Jr. formed a band today and weren't all depressed and angsty and shit, but still had those big guitars, drone-y vocals, and diy mentality. I think I caught them smokin' weed in the green room before their set. Can you blame them? They're from New Zealand!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dawes @ Mercury Lounge, October 15th, 2009

I had been wanting to check out Dawes for a long time, since their debut album North Hills is one of my favorites of the year. They opened with "That Western Skyline," one of my favs, and played most of the album, excluding some of the quieter songs, which didn't really fit the party vibe of the night. Their drummer was especially impressive with his sensitive fills and dynamic range. But I was truly sold when they played a cover of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy." What a great song to cover! (who am i kidding, i was sold like 5 months ago when I first heard the album =) Why isn't this band bigger?

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Dynamites feat. Charles Walker @ Pianos, September 18th, 2009

I had originally come out to support Ezra's band Diehard, who have a new bassist, and sound better than ever. But I'd rather talk about the headlining act, The Dynamites feat. Charles Walker, who, not knowing a thing about them, really stole the night. Alright, seriously, calling yourself "The Dynamites" is kind of an ego-trip. But then I saw them, and now I get it. They're just a really tight funk/soul band headed by the incredibly charismatic lead vocalist, Charles Walker. He's like a mix of James Brown and Marvin Gaye, so, umm, amazing. His stage presence just pulls you in and doesn't let you go. Totally made the show worth while. And the band was like uber-tight. My video doesn't even do it justice.

Mini Mansions @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, September 15th, 2009

Mini Mansions are an energetic L.A. pop rock band that sound like 70s era Bowie, with Beach Boys harmonies. A really tight 3-piece is always a pleasure to see live, and Mini Mansions really "brought it" at this show. Michael Shuman, the drummer, who also happens to be the lead singer, had a really simple drum set up of just a floor tom, snare, crash-ride, and tamborine, but still sounded like he was playing a full kit. Pretty impressive. He also added guitars on some cuts. Tyler Parkford supported with piano and background harmonies, and bassist Zach Dawes really rocked out, especially during the distorted parts of "Majik Marker." Pretty cool!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Jana Hunter @ Market Hotel, September 2nd, 2009

I didn't have anything to do, and Shani suggested seeing the show at Market Hotel, so I said why not. The opening bands were pretty awful, except for Twisty Cat, which was a 3-piece experimental-group consisting of a baritone sax and a bass clarinet through some fuzzy effects pedals, and a percussionist who attached a touch-sensor to his ride, so that every time he hit the cymbal, a stage light would flash at various intensities. Cool! But kind of gimmicky... Jana Hunter is definitely more my speed. She has a lovely relaxed psych sound that instantly put me in a warm fuzzy mood. Her band plays well together, with a common vision for the music. I think I liked the live show, which comes off as more abstract and alt, better than their latest album There's No Home, which comes off as softer and sweeter. Would see them again!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Grizzly Bear, Beach House @ Williamsburg Waterfront, August 30th, 2009

The line to get into this free sunday waterfront show was two blocks long. Really? I guess Grizzly Bear is the most popular indie band on the planet. I mean Jay-Z and Beyonce were there, as well as Senator Charles Schumer, who was walking around with some aide who had a giant sign saying, "Meet Senator Charles Schumer!" That's what I need, some guy to follow me around with a giant sign saying, "Meet Adam Ghory!" And people would be like, "Who does that guy think he is, a senator?" Luckily, I cut near the front of the line, and arrived just in time to hear Beach House, who were lovely as always. I really like the use of a live drummer over a drum machine, the beats are much more interesting. I forget what it was specifically, but Victoria Legrand's stage banter was a little weird. Does she realize she's speaking to several thousand people? I would keep the chatty monologue to a minimum... No matter, they've got a really lush sound that always puts me in a hazy mood. And Grizzly Bear is always pretty and musical as well. I admit, I like Yellow House better than Veckatimest, their latest record. It just has a more home-y vibe. But the music video for "Two Weeks" is pretty rad...

This Frontier Needs Heroes, Blood Warrior @ Dam Stuhltrager Gallery, August 29th 2009

Blood Warrior is the dark-americana side project of the lead singer from O'Death. So if you like Greg Jamie's croony singing style and story-telling lyrics, but wanted a quieter, more intimate experience, BW is for you (and me for that matter). I really like this direction of moving backwards in music-making, to a simpler time but with modern inflections.

In a similar vein, Brad and Jessica Lauretti comprise This Frontier Needs Heroes, a home-spun musical revolution for the dissolutioned corporate-music-hater. Brad's a bit of a character, and got a little too rowdy waiting to perform their set, and thus only played a song or two before having to break it down. Still, I highly recommend their new self-titled album for a slow night's drive or long walk on the beach. Check out "I can't do this all by myself" or "Bend the Bow" for a treat.

Insound's 10th Anniversary Party @ Brooklyn Bowl, August 27th, 2009

The bands were pretty solid. Here's my synopsis: I liked Real Estate, just good basic indie-rock, would see them again. Some people really love The Drums, but for me they were trying so hard that it seemed contrived. Plus, their songs about heartbreak seem a bit shallow. Suckers still have a killer live show. Although I didn't really like their new song. Hope that's not a sign of things to come... I can't remember even seeing These Are Powers. Did they play? No matter, cuz I'm not really into them live, but their new record is alright. Cymbals Eat Guitars were pretty good, (and with a name like that, you better have a big guitar sound!) but maybe a little over hyped... Man, I really have to write these posts more contemporaneously.

The Monte Vista @ Loving Cup, August 22nd, 2009

This was my former drummer Joe Spinella's 30th birthday party. To celebrate he booked a show with his new band, The Monte Vista, a three piece playing British invasion style pop (the second invasion - ie. Blur, and Oasis). I liked a couple of songs ("daydream" and the new one), because I used to be into this sort of sound (back in my early musical explorations), but now the sound seems a bit dated, and it's not my thing. Still, it was good to see Joe!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ducktails @ Bellhouse, August 14th 2009

This show was sold out, and I couldn't get in. Or else I would've gotten to see headliners Dungen and Woods. But at least I got to see a little bit of Ducktails by watching from outside the door.

I like the mellow sounds of his new album Landscapes, but live it was just Matthew Mondanile and his guitar, and was a little sparse (the album has overdubbed instruments and drums). Still, I wanted to check it out and now I have. No regrets.

Black Moth Super Rainbow @ South Street Seaport, July 24th, 2009

Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Vegan. Nice bag of tortilla chips, dude.

We have a joke at the office where whenever someone wants to hear Black Moth Super Rainbow on the speakers (which happens more often than you'd think) they have to scramble the words of the band name, calling them something like The Black Super Rainbow People, or The Super Black Rainbow Butterflies, which fits the psychedelic nature of this band (but does the joke translate to the web? -probably not). This was the first time I'd seen them live, and it was great fun (they opened with a youtube video of some guy saying that their band is like the worst band in existence - a funny way to start a show -- and check out the lead singer's outfit - crazy!). Oh, and the music was solid too, their drummer was pretty much on point the whole time, and there was no lack of vintage synthesizers to keep the ears happy. Dude, I'm spacing out!

Dirty Projectors @ Williamsburg Waterfront, July 19th 2009

Dirty Projectors have come a long way from when I last saw them. Before they came off as nerdy, artsy, and eclectic. Now, with an excellent new album garnering critical success, they're pratically indie-elite! This show was crazy packed (as with most FREE waterfront shows). I was skeptical they could pull off all of the intricacies of their new album in a live setting, but they sounded great, with a tight rhythm section, some nice female acapella vocals, and a really lovely bass sound. Given their experimental nature, it'll be interesting to hear what they sound like in a couple of years...

Built To Spill @ Siren Festival, July 18th 2009

I spent most of the day lying in the sun on the beach and missed quite a few of the bands, including The Oh Sees, whom I heard were good. I did catch Built To Spill, and they played a couple of my favs including "You Were Right" which for some reason had been in my head all day. By far the best part of the day was riding the aging Cyclone roller coaster for the first time. Let me tell ya, they knew how to make roller coasters back in the day. Few safety regulations, just a loose bar across the shoulders, and some wicked fast turns, sudden drops. A great ride.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dr. Dog w/ Phosphorescent @ Prospect Park, June 27th, 2009

What a beautiful day for a free concert in Prospect Park! Any show that begins with an auspicious double rainbow has to be good... We arrived just in time for Phosphorescent, whose sad, beautiful, indie-folk crooning always puts me in a good mood. Dr. Dog followed with a fun and inspired pop-rock set combining the funkiness of The Band with the harmonies of The Beatles. They played my favorite song "The Old Days" from their last album Fate, so I left smiling. I think I just half-convinced myself to move back to Prospect Park!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

No Eye Contact @ The Cameo Gallery, June 20th, 2009

No Eye Contact is the long time project of friend and fellow Lexingtonian, Raky Sastri. This was his triumphant record release show, three years in the making. Having not heard Raky play in a while, I was pleasantly surprised at how much his vocal stylings remind me of Neutral Milk Hotel. The band consists of a banjo, bass, occasional auto-harp, acoustic guitar, violin, and backing male and female vocals, so it is appropriately old fashioned and lush. For this show, they played the new album straight thru, and the hi-lite for me was definitely the pseudo-title track, "You and Me," which along with "Rainbow" has some lovely lyrics. They were giving the new album, "You and Me and Other Fables," away for free (although I paid for mine) and I can't wait to hear it. Great job Raky!

The Dodos @ Studio B, Sunday June 14th, 2009

The Dodos put out one of my favorite albums of 2008, "Visiter," and I've never seen them live before, so I was eager to finally check them out in action. I was not disappointed. They played an inspired and exhausting hour-long set. What struck me most though, is how each musician plays his instrument in a wholly unique way. The drummer, with his precise rhythm patterns, duct tapes a tambourine to the bottom of his left shoe, and plays without a kick drum, which is replaced by an extra tom or three. The vibraphonist, while often playing with a set of mallets, sometimes uses a violin bow for some lovely musical swells. One couldn't help but be impressed by the lead singer Meric Long. Clearly a lot of concentration, confidence and precision is required to simultaneously sing and play those intricate fingerpicking guitar lines in front of a crowd of hundreds. As opposed to the shoddy sound job done at the Sunset Rubdown show, the sound for The Dodos was excellent, and a joy to hear.

Sunset Rubdown @ Studio B, June 12th 2009

It's nice to watch the evolution of a band, especially one as good as Sunset Rubdown. This latest incantation, fresh off their new album Dragon Slayer (which I haven't heard yet) is perhaps darker and more epic in scope than their previous efforts. This show was certainly not their best. Technical difficulties mired the vocals, which didn't really bother the audience, but were not up Spencer's exacting standards (which is a good thing -- to demand sonic perfection). While I wasn't familiar with most of the set, some of the new tracks truly sparkled, specifically "Dragon's Lair," which just when you thought was ending, came back for a roaring reprise.

I wish I could've gotten there earlier to hear Witchies. I like what I hear from them...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sean Bones w/ Suckers @ Glasslands, June 1st, 2009

This was the after-party for the New York premier of Wah Do Dem, a charming hipster-does-jamaica indie film starring Sean Bones, and directed by Ben Chace and Sam Fleischner. I really enjoyed the movie, and not just because I know the star and one of the directors, but the story itself is told in an honest, entertaining, anything-can-happen way. Besides being a fledgling movie star, Sean Bones also headlines an indie-rock reggae band signed to Frenchkiss and they played a nice set for this afterparty at Glasslands for the movie premier.

Surprisingly, Mr. Bones didn't headline the night, that honor was given to Suckers, which seemed odd at first, but my doubts were quickly laid to rest once they started playing... they were amazing! One of best live bands I've seen in a while. They only played 4 songs, but what a set! Everything was working for them, vocal harmonies, dynamics, delay pedals, style, enthusiasm, huge anthems, and a great drummer. I quickly downloaded the CD when I got home which, alas, has a creepy cover, and didn't quite capture the excitement of their live show. Nevertheless, definitely keep your eye on this band, and catch 'em while they're still bangin' hits in a small venue.

Johnny Beach's B-day Party @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, May 27th, 2009

As talent buyer for the Mercury Lounge and the Bowery Ballroom, Johnny Beach has been an positive influential force in the New York music scene for the last 10 years. Probably most of the bands in your iPod got their big break from Johnny, and this was a bash in his honor. He's also my friend, and we've seen some great shows together, including Number 7 on my top ten list, the epic My Morning Jacket roadtrip show.

I missed the first three bands, Dawes (who have a wonderful new album out), Deer Tick, and The Antlers, but I made it to see the last two. I'm not a huge fan of their album, but Pela is a fun live band, and this was by far their best show. And Tokyo Police Club can't fail to put on a good set with all of those energetic songs. What a fun night, complete with an ice luge, indoor fireworks, and old friends.

Ford & Fitzroy @ Pianos, May 20th, 2009

Ford & Fitzroy were really tight, way tighter than most bands I see, and clearly taking this whole "music thing" seriously. I also enjoyed the tone of the guitars. Spot on. Whenever Mina hit that distortion pedal... it sounded huge! My one critique would be that the lead singer was a little reserved at times, not always matching the intensity of the rest of the band, but that's like just some shitty music snob's opinion. Keep up the RAAWK boys!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No Fun Fest 2009 @ Music Hall of Williamsburg - May 15, 2009

It's hard to open up a music festival, especially one packed to the brim with discriminating hipsters and demanding electronic noise elitists. Playing a double neck guitar with a violin bow through a couple of ebows and effects pedals, Noveller builds layers of atmospheric and melodic waves of sound that develops into a pleasant and peaceful wash of noise. She even seems like she'd be fun to hang out with, we could talk about all her quirky electronics experiments. Either that, or it would be really awkward. Ha.

Chris Corsano contributed his own considerable 2 cents to this festival dedicated to experimental sound. For this show, he built a custom sensory mic which he ran through a distorted amp and placed in various positions around his hi-hat. All that noise from just one hi-hat! Then for a finale, he jumped on a real kit and showed off some chops for literally a minute. He should've played it longer! My buddy Alex (who went to school with Chris) told me that he recently went on a world tour with Bjork as her drummer, so you know he's got skillz...

Thrones was pretty bad ass. Kind of like if a heavy metal bass god from the 70's retired to a cave with a bunch of electronics, only to emerge 20 years later with a sound no one has heard before. He had a massive setup, playing through at least two amps and three cabinets, including an 8x10 (those always sound amazing). Some moments were pure magic, where I had no idea how he was creating the music I was hearing. How in the heck did he make his voice sound like that? It's not an auto-tune, and clearly there is some kind of upper-octave pitch-shifting, but I really don't know what is going on. No matter, I'm glad I got to see Thrones once in my life, even though I had never heard of him before! He's straight out of the dungeons of rock.

Monday, May 11, 2009

So Cow w/ Diehard @ Bruar Falls, May 7th, 2009

So Cow is a lovely three-piece indie-pop band from Ireland on their first American tour. Actually this was their first show in the states, and I must say it was a success. There's something so endearing about a tight 3-piece band with no weak links, playing 2-minute up-tempo pop-gems. Check out "Casablanca" for taste.

Diehard played a more relaxed and confident 2nd show. I just blogged about them, so I won't go into detail. But I seemed to like the second half of their set better than the first, better tunes maybe? One note of critique, their drummer doesn't have to hit the snare drum quite so hard, we can all hear it...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Comet Gain w/ Crystal Stilts and Cold Cave @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, April 12th, 2009

If you don't like Comet Gain, I don't think we can be friends anymore. Yep, friendship over. But why wouldn't you like them? I see no reason. I have been looking forward to this show for quite some time. I haven't seen them since they played with Girlfrendo (currently members of Love Is All) and The Aisler's Set at NYU back in 2000! Phew, that takes me back! Needless to say, they were great! Finally a band having fun on stage AND playing good songs. What's not to like? And they give good advice, "It's never too late to live your life."

Crystal Stilts also had a good night, probably inspired by having a solid headliner after them. Also, did I smell weed drifting in from back stage right before they played? Might have something to do with it...

My buddy Kevin really likes Cold Cave, so I wanted to give them a shot, but I just couldn't get into it. I even bought a cassette, to see if their recorded stuff was better, but alas, not so. Their lead singer kinda tries to project Noel Gallagher on stage. Eh.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Kurt Vile @ Silent Barn, Friday April 3rd, 2009

Kurt Vile was exactly what I needed after a long week of 9-5. I actually enjoyed his live show better than his most recent record, Constant Hitmaker, mainly because this was a mostly a solo acoustic set, which is a little more intimate than an effects-heavy full band set. Check out the video... Lush! Dreamy! Psych!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Diehard w/ DD/MM/YYYY @ Union Hall, Tuesday March 31st, 2009

Diehard is my buddy Ezra's brand-spanking new band with all original music. Ezra doubles as the lead singer in The Blue Album Group, a Weezer album tribute band, and as expected, some of the sweetness and power-pop charm of the Weez is present in his original music (think green-album weezer, still bubblegum but not as super-pop or emotional as the first two albums -- and not as shitty as the rest of them). With Liz's female vocal harmonies, you get a touch of the Rentals for added flavor. This was their first show ever, so understandably they were a little nervous and you can't expect perfection in a first outing. But I liked what I heard (what can I say, smartly-crafted indie-pop is my jam), and I'd love to see them again as a tighter, more well-oiled machine. Great job Ezra! You make me want to start a indie-pop band myself!

DD/MM/YYYY (pronounced "date format" ? --not sure) has been popping up on some pretty impressive line-ups lately so I'm glad I got a chance to check 'em out. They were uber-tight and energetic (and sweaty!), with lots of UFO sound effects, instrument switching, and band camaraderie. Good stuff, but I couldn't really make out any of the lyrics and the hooks never really grabbed me, so I'm not anxious to see them again, but it was nice to see a band this devoted to the craft and perfection of their music.