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!