Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What's Going on New Year's Eve 2011? Live Music in NYC

There's no shortage of live music in the New York area on New Year's Eve, and here's a selective guide to some of shows that still have tickets available (as of around 11:30 p.m. on Dec. 28th). Naturally, a lot of shows are sold out by this time, including Patti Smith at Bowery Ballroom, Gogol Bordello at Terminal 5, and Ted Leo & the Pharmacists at Maxwell's. But there are still some good shows you can get into, depending on your musical preferences, geographical area, and budget.

Deer Tick & friends play at Brooklyn Bowl on New Year's Eve.

Check out websites like the Oh My Rockness show list or Gig-o-Meter for more shows. For parties in NYC at bars, clubs, etc., with or without live music, see the MurphGuide New Year's Eve guide.

Here are some interesting shows that still have tickets as of late Wednesday night:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Free Streaming Christmas & Holiday Music - Still Tasty the Next Day!

Like leftover turkey and cookies, holiday music is still with us after Christmas or Hanukkah have ended... and sometimes these tunes are just as tasty after the fact. Since there are no new albums available for free online streaming this week (a usual Podcast Party feature on Monday or Tuesday), I thought I'd offer some streaming and/or downloadable holiday music to listen to if, like me, you enjoy hearing it after the actual holidays.

Spinner has an all-holiday group of album previews this week (as of Dec. 26th, at least).
Over at, a variety of holiday albums are still up for streaming, including some I've mentioned before like "A Brushfire Holiday, Volume 2" by This Warm December (featuring G. Love, Zee Avi, Matt Costa, and more). There's also "The Beach Boys' Christmas Album," "Christmas in California" by Ash Reiter, the four-song EP "Tennessee Christmas" by Lindi Ortega, Shonen Knife's three-track EP "Sweet Christmas," and one that sounded odd to me: "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," a collection of traditional Christmas songs by Scott Weiland, the troubled singer for Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver.

TV viewers may want to check out AOL Music's streaming offerings, including "Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 2" and "The Sing Off: Songs of the Season" (with performances by Pentatonix, the Dartmouth Aires, season two winners Committed, and many more). Also on AOL Music is "Now That's What I Call Christmas 4," featuring seasonal songs by contemporary artists such as Sheryl Crow, Carrie Underwood, and Maroon 5 and by old-timers like Andy Williams, Nat King Cole, and Burl Ives.

Note: there's no telling how long the Spinner and AOL Music holiday albums will be streaming, so you might want to check them out sooner rather than later.

The cover of the 2011 edition of Bill Adler's eclectic "Christmas Jollies" mix.

The homemade mix tape "Christmas Jollies" by Bill Adler was the subject of an NPR story yesterday, and it has gotten a lot of holiday love via re-tweeting and other forms of online sharing. Adler does a "Jollies" mix each year and distributes it to friends; this year's edition includes songs from Peggy Seeger, Solomon Burke, The Beach Boys, and more. You can read the transcript of the NPR story here, hear excerpts from each of the songs here (with notes from Adler), and see the complete track listing here.

(Oh, and to answer the question everyone's asking, "Where can I buy the 'Christmas Jollies' CD?!," the answer is: you can't. Apparently Adler burns CDs for his friends, but otherwise doesn't distribute the mix on physical media [due to copyright issues, I'd guess]). 

Also from NPR Music is the collection "Jingle Jams:  A Holiday Mix For The Rest Of Us," what it calls off-the-beaten-path holiday songs for folks having hard times during the season (the mix is co-curated by Adler). It's billed as a set for those who "get dumped or lose their jobs, or spend the night in jail." The artists include everyone from the Andrews Sisters to Paul Simon, Lady Gaga, and The Pogues, and includes one of my favorite modern holiday tunes, "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses.

If you're interested in listening to Christmas music year round, check out the 400 or so streaming stations at You'll find genres from traditional to rock, R&B, classical, Christian, Latin, jazz, and more

And since family is a major theme of the holiday season, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention "Aloha, Merry Christmas From Hawaii," a catchy Christmas song which, in the interest of full disclosure, was written and performed by my nephew Ian Stearns. Yes, I know what you're thinking, but he is an accomplished musician who has been honing his chops in various bands over the last two decades, including the bluegrass group Brooklyn Playboys.

Take a listen to it below. It's got a nice, warm island vibe, and who couldn't use a little warmth (or the musically induced reasonable facsimile thereof) this time of year?

  Aloha, Merry Christmas From Hawaii by IanStearns

Look for a batch of new albums for free streaming early next week, as the holiday season wraps up and labels start pushing out their new releases.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thousands of MP3 Albums for $5 (or Less) at

The latest Dum Dum Girls album is one of thousands now on sale for $5 or less at

If you're looking for last-minute holiday gifts for folks on your shopping list (or don't think you'll get the music you want), head over to's music store. It's now having several sales running that together mean thousands of MP3 albums for $5 or less. First off, you can check the more than 1,000 albums for $5 each (this deal is good through the end of January).

If you include the many EPs they're offering at that price, it means there are more than 23,000 MP3 albums for less than five bucks,Amazon says.

Among the 1,000 MP3 albums for five dollars in the alternative and indie rock category (228 albums in all):
  • "The Head and the Heart" self-titled
  • "Helplessness Blues" by Fleet Foxes
  • "Cults" self-titled
  • "Civilian" by Wye Oak
  • "Smoke Ring for My Halo" by Kurt Vile
  • "Wild Flag" self-titled
  • "Slave Ambient" by The War on Drugs
  • "Only in Dreams" by Dum Dum Girls
  • "Let England Shake" by PJ Harvey
  • "Divine Providence" by Deer Tick
  • "Last Summer" by Eleanor Friedberger
… as well as the deluxe version of Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" and albums by the Avett Brothers, Blitzen Trapper, Arctic Monkeys, Tokyo Police Club, Superchunk, Girl in a Coma, and Yuck.

In the just-plain-ol'-rock category, some of the choices include:
  • "New Blood" by Peter Gabriel (his reinterpretation of his own songs, with orchestra)
  • "Endgame" by Rise Against
  • "Duluth" by Trampled by Turtles
  • "Disintegration (Remastered)" by The Cure
  • "Is This It" by The Strokes
… and albums by the Black Crowes, Green Day, Cowboy Junkies, Drive-By Truckers, Lindsey Buckingham, and many more.

There are also classic rock, pop, R&B, and other genres.

Odd name, odd album cover, good music: Yuck's self-titled album is one of the $5 editors' choices.

If you're not inclined to go searching through the thousands of albums, you can check out's editors' picks of $5 MP3 albums, which winnows down the list of 1,000. It's a diverse bunch, from Phoexix and Wye Oak to Leonard Cohen, Eminem, The Who, and the soundtrack to "The Sound of Music."

Also, for Dec. 24th only, is offering 10 of the year's most popular albums for only $3.99 each. The albums include "Lioness: Hidden Treasures,"the posthumous Amy Winehouse album; the She & Him Christmas album;"Ceremonials" by Florence and he Machine;and "The King is Dead" by The Decemberists.

I hope you get (or got) what you wanted for the holidays, musically speaking. If not, check out the thousands of sale albums above. There are at least five or six I'm definitely buying...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Yo La Tengo, The Sea & Cake Kick off Maxwell's Hanukkah Shows

Yo La Tengo kicked off its annual Eight Nights of Hanukkah run at Maxwell's with a rousing show on Tuesday, despite recent health concerns for frontman Ira Kaplan. As always, the night included a surprise opening act (on this night, Chicago's The Sea and Cake) as well as special guests joining YLT on stage.

(Apologies for the poor photo quality; the place was packed and I was stuck in the back of the room.) 
Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo, during the first night of the band's Hanukkah shows.

The Sea and Cake kicked things off at 8:30 with a one-hour set, followed by standup comedians Jon Benjamin and Jon Glaser, who pretended to be the sons (both named Dave) of actors Dennis Farina and Dennis Franz.

Yo La Tengo took the stage at 11 p.m., with Kaplan playing seated, as he mentioned he would be in his post on the band's website. (He mentioned that he "had a pretty serious health scare earlier this month," but doesn't delve into the nature of it in the post. And he didn't mention it at all on Tuesday.  The website does say that he is "well on the way to recovery.")

Georgia Hubley steps out from behind the drum kit to sing lead vocals.

 The trio was joined on stage by Mac McCaughan of Superchunk, who played the entire show with YLT. (Later in the set came guest appearances by several members of The Sea and Cake: Sam Prekop, Archer Prewitt, and John McEntire.) McCaughan in particular was great addition, adding continuity throughout the set, and he and the other guests help fill out the sound of Yo La Tengo's songs.

For a more detailed description of Tuesday's show (and some much better photos), see the official Yo La Tengo Hanukkah diary post by Liz Clayton.

Yo La Tengo left the stage shortly before 12:30, so it was an almost four-hour show (minus about an hour for changeovers between acts). Considering the quality of Yo La Tengo's concerts and the high caliber of guests they usually get, this show is definitely one I plan to catch at least one night of in future years.

Chicago's The Sea and Cake opened Tuesday's show.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from Guided by Voices, Jaimoe, & More

The much-anticipated reunion album by Guided by Voices is the most high profile of the new releases available for free streaming this week (it would stand out even if this week's selection wasn't so small).

The "classic" GbV lineup reunited last year to play at the Matador Records 21st anniversary party, and has done some shows since then. The new album, "Let's Go Eat the Factory" (due Jan. 17th available now, on iTunes at least) features the same lineup (Robert Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Greg Demos, Mitch Mitchell, and Kevin Fennell).

Pollard and company had their "farewell" tour seven years ago, but now they're back. As NPR Music says, "Let's Go Eat the Factory" is "for better and worse, a prototypical Guided by Voices album—it's 42 minutes long and has 21 songs."

Guided By Voices - Doughnut For A Snowman by FIRE RECORDS

Also online for streaming this week is the new album by another artist with decades of experience, though in a totally different vein than GbV: Allman Brothers Band drummer and founding Jaimoe Johanson. He's back with a new album from his group Jaimoe's Jasssz Band, called "Renaissance Man."(Despite the group's name, it incorporates blues, rock, & soul as well as jazz elements).

KCRW Album Preview: 
"Let's Go Eat the Factory" by Guided by Voices (also streaming at NPR First Listen)

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Renaissance Man" by Jaimoe's Jasssz Band's Listening Party:
"Cloud Maintenance" by Kevin Hearn
"A Brushfire Holiday, Volume 2" by This Warm December (features G. Love, Matt Costa, Rogue Wave, Jack Johnson, and more)
"Christmas Album" by The Beach Boys

Friday, December 16, 2011

More NYC Concerts: Tool, Coldplay 2nd Izod Show on Sale Saturday

Tool plays the Izod Center on Feb. 1st, and tickets go on sale tomorrow at the link below.

There was a mad rush today for tickets to The Magnetic Fields' concert and the second Black Keys show. And there's likely to be another virtual stampede tomorrow morning for two more big New York area gigs: Tool at the Izod Center on Feb. 1st, and the second Coldplay show at the same venue on Aug. 4th.

Tickets for Tool go on sale Dec. 17th at 11 a.m., while the Coldplay show goes on sale at 10 a.m. No tickets seem to be available for the first Coldplay show on Aug. 3rd, but sometimes tickets are released at a later date (extra tickets for the second Black Keys/Arctic Monkeys concert were made available this afternoon, just hours after they first went on sale).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

NYC Concerts: Black Keys, Magnetic Fields On Sale Friday; F*cked Up, Titus Andronicus, & More Play this Weekend

Tickets for the second Black Keys/Arctic Monkeys show at Madison Square Garden in March go on sale tomorrow, as do tickets for the long-awaited return of Magnetic Fields. And there's a good slate of talent performing live this weekend at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar. Details:

As mentioned here last week, The Black Keys and Arctic Monkeys have added a second show at the Garden on March 22nd, 2012 (the first one is March 12th). Tickets for the Black Keys/Arctic Monkeys concert go on sale tomorrow, Dec. 16th, at 9 a.m.

Stephin Merritt's The Magnetic Fields play the Beacon Theatre on Tuesday, April 3rd. Tickets go on sale Friday, Dec. 16th at 11 a.m. The band will be coming out with a new album, "Love at the Bottom of the Sea," on March 6th, according to their website.

As for gigs to see this weekend, the Brooklyn Night Bazaar has a solid lineup. Friday has Toronto's F*cked Up, Dom, Big Troubles, Radical Dads, and more, while Saturday's Brooklyn Vegan sponsored finale features The Hold Steady, Titus Andronicus, Wakey! Wakey!, and more. (The bazaar started off Thursday night with LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy spinning a DJ set, along with several bands.)

The Brooklyn Night Bazaar combines live music, shopping, art, and food, and takes place at 149 Kent Ave. (entrance is between N. 5th and N. 6th Streets), from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. each night. (More info and directions here.)  The bazaar is free except for the musical performances, which require a ticket. Tickets are $10 for Friday and $18 for Saturday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Music Notes: Wild Flag Played Letterman; Matisyahu Shaves His Beard; D Generation to Record; More

Here are some tidbits of music news from far and wide:

  • Wild Flag made its network TV debut last night, playing "Romance" on Letterman (video below).

  •  Trent Reznor "feels at home" with "Dragon Tattoo": the L.A. Times looks at how the Nine Inch Nails frontman fit right in writing the music for one of the year's most anticipated movies.
  • Hasidic rap/reggae star Matisyahu shaved off his trademark beard and posted a photo of his cleanly shorn face on Twitter. He explained on his website that he is "reclaiming himself" from the many rules he used to follow, and tells his fans to "Get ready for an amazing year filled with music of rebirth." 
  •  D Generation to record new music: before Jesse Malin was a solo singer-songwriter, he was in the punk band D Generation, which reformed to play a few gigs recently. Now it seems they are going to record some new tunes in 2012. I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with.
  • Rolling Stone's recent issue named its 100 greatest guitarists of all time, but the list was, not surprisingly, short on women. mentions some of the women axe players that RS forgot.
  • Visqueen disbands, but Rachel Flotard plays on: I was sad to hear that the band broke up, but was glad to learn that its leader, Bergen County, NJ native Flotard, is already at work with another project, called Cobirds Unite, with singer-songwriter Rusty Willoughby and others (including Barbara Hunter, Visqueen's cello player).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from John Zorn, The 65's, & More

The trickle of new albums available for streaming continues this week, but there are still some new CDs worth checking out. The avant-garde composer and instrumentalist John Zorn has a new album called "A Dreamer's Christmas," and if you're into holiday music with a different twist, head on over to NPR Music to preview it. [Update: the Zorn Christmas album is very enjoyable and a much more mainstream Christmas album than I would have expected, considering his past work. It's still streaming on NPR as of Dec. 23rd.]

The debut album by NJ band The 65's is one of the titles available for free streaming this week.

New Jersey alternative rockers The 65's are out with their debut album, "Strike Hard!," and it's available for preview this week (listen to the first track from the album, "Walk On Selfishly," below, and listen to the album's killer version of "Pretty in Pink" here).

Also this week, there are EPs by groups including The Lower 48 and Sixx:A.M., the band featuring Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue. The Sixx:A.M. release, "7," is a collection of seven of the band's tunes reworked in acoustic versions. (See a review of "7" here.)

  The 65's • "Walk On Selfishly" by dromedary

Another album streaming this week is a benefit collection to fight cancer that features songs from performers as diverse as Ben E. King, Suzanne Vega, Tom Verlaine, Randy Brecker, and John Pizzarelli.

NPR First Listen:
"A Dreamer's Christmas" by John Zorn's Listening Party:
"Fire & Ice" by Kaskade
"Where All Maps End" by The Lower 48
"Strike Hard!" by The 65's
"Life in the Loos" (EP) by Ross and the Wrongens
"Lying to My Lies" (EP) by Dear Lions

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"7" by Sixx:A.M.
"Back to Love" by Anthony Hamilton
"Pioneers for a Cure - American Songs to Fight Cancer" by various artists (including Ben E. King, Suzanne Vega, Tom Verlaine, John Pizzarelli, Randy Brecker, and Tom Chapin).

Friday, December 09, 2011

Black Keys & Arctic Monkeys at the Garden: 2nd Show Added

It didn't take long for the March 12th Black Keys/Arctic Monkeys show at the Garden to sell out today, so a second show has been added on March 22nd. Tickets go on sale Friday, Dec. 16th at 9 a.m.

Since 19,000 tickets have already been sold for the first show, presumably the second show won't sell out quite as quickly. But just in case, you'll probably want to get your Black Keys tickets soon after 9 a.m. on the 16th.

The Akron, Ohio duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney is touring in support of its latest album, "El Camino,"which came out this week.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

NYC Concerts on Sale Fri.: The Black Keys with Arctic Monkeys; Gomez; M83; Neon Indian; More

Tickets for lots of great early-2012 concerts in New York are going on sale this Friday, Sept. 9th at Noon. The biggest of these is the recently announced show featuring The Black Keys with the Arctic Monkeys at Madison Square Garden, which takes place on March 12th.

Video for "Lonely Boy," the first single off the new Black Keys album.

The Garden is not the ideal place to see a concert, but The Black Keys have certainly gotten popular enough to fill arenas, especially with the release (today) of their much-anticipated new album "El Camino."

Here's a look at some of the most popular or interesting shows going on sale this Friday:
Wed., Jan. 4, 2012: Elizabeth & the Catapult with Misty Boyce, Mercury Lounge
Wed. & Thurs., Jan. 11 & 12: The Pierces, Mercury Lounge
Sat., Feb. 11: Don Giovanni Records Show featuring the Screaming Females, Laura Stevenson and the Cans, and others
Sat., Mon., & Thurs., March 3, 5, & 8: Bombay Bicycle Club, Music Hall of Williamsburg (March 3); Bowery Ballroom (March 5); Maxwell's (March 8)
Sun., March 11: Gomez, Bowery Ballroom
Mon., March 12: The Black Keys with Arctic Monkeys, Madison Square Garden
Fri., April 6: The War on Drugs, Music Hall of Williamsburg
Fri. & Sat., May 4 & 5: Andrew Bird, Beacon Theatre
Thurs., May 10: M83 with I Break Horses, Terminal 5
Sat., May 12: Neon Indian, Terminal 5

There are of course many big concerts coming up that are already on sale, one of the most popular being the slate of shows The National is doing at the Beacon Theatre starting next week. The shows run every night from Dec. 12th to the 17th, and each features openers who are appealing in their own right, including Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, and Wye Oak.

The National's shows in New York have always sold out quickly, so it seems that the band is trying to address the problem with six consecutive shows. If you've wanted to see The National live in New York, this is your best chance in a few years.

Get your credit card out and get ready to see some great live music to start off the new year.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from the Dropkick Murphys, Warren Haynes, & More

New live albums from the Dropkick Murphys and Warren Haynes and friends highlight the new CDs up for free online preview this week. These two releases from musicians who specialize in high-energy live shows should make up in quality for what's missing in quantity in yet another week with a relatively slim number of titles available for preview.

The Haynes album is a two-disc set to benefit Habitat for Humanity and it features the guitarist and some of his very talented friends: there's his own band, Gov't Mule; Bob Weir & Friends; John Hiatt & The Goners; Robert Randolph & The Family Band, and others. According to Haynes' website, the show was recorded at his annual Christmas jam in 2002. I'm not sure why it took so long to see the light of day, but nevertheless it's here now.

The new Dropkick Murphys album includes 10 live songs from their Fenway Park shows.

The new Dropkick Murphys release, "Going Out in Style: Live at Fenway Park Edition," includes the band's full "Going Out In Style" album as well as 10 songs recorded live at their Fenway Park shows in the fall. Among the live tracks are "Hang 'Em High," "Sunday Hardcore Matinee," and of course the title track.

Another notable new album streaming this week is "The Very Best of Neil Diamond," featuring 23 of the original studio recordings by the singer and songwriting legend whose tunes have been covered by everyone from The Monkees to Barbra Streisand to Urge Overkill. Just this week Diamond was feted at the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors.

Also on preview this week is a release I'm really looking forward to hearing: "Whitehorse," the self-titled album by the duo of acclaimed Canadian roots singer-songwriters Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland. (This isn't exactly a "new" release since it dropped in August, but in any case it's up for streaming this week.)

For R&B fans, there are new albums by Anthony David and Anthony Hamilton.'s Listening Party:
"Going Out in Style: Live at Fenway Park Edition" by the Dropkick Murphys
"New Album" by Boris
"Sweet Creatures" by Crash Street Kids
"Dog Year" by Miracles of Modern Science
"The Lost and Found" by The White Buffalo

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Warren Haynes Presents The Benefit Concert Volume 4" featuring Warren Haynes and others
"The Very Best of Neil Diamond" by Neil Diamond
"Whitehorse" by Whitehorse
"Live from Paris" by Shakira
"Location, Location, Location" by Anthony David
"Damn Son" by Kid Is Qual
"Hats Off to the Bull" by Chevelle

NPR First Listen:
"Back to Love" by Anthony Hamilton

Friday, December 02, 2011

Hear 7 Songs from Trent Reznor's "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" Soundtrack

You can now listen to seven songs from Trent Reznor's new soundtrack to the movie "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"—and download six of them free. As Paste Magazine noted Friday, the six-song free sampler is available in exchange for signing up for Reznor's e-mail list at

You can also view the film's trailer there and pre-order several versions of the album (which drops Dec. 9th).

Movie trailer for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," starring Daniel Craig.

The seventh "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" song is one that you can't download (yet), but it's a tune you'll want to hear: the full version of Reznor's version of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song," featuring vocals by Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The stream comes from Seattle radio station The End 107.7 and is a great version, the only downside being that it clocks in at only three minutes.

Reznor and Ross offered a similar free sampler download for their soundtrack to "The Social Network"(I signed up for that offer too, and can attest that it's a low-volume mailing list).

The versions of the soundtrack for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"available from Reznor's website are: CD (three discs) for $14, digital version for $12, and HD digital for $14 (choice of Apple lossless or FLAC). And then there's the $300 deluxe version: six vinyl disks, a book package with a metal cover, a poster, and an "Exclusive custom 8GB metal razor blade USB pendant, inspired by Lisbeth's razor blade necklace." Oh, and the deluxe set is signed by Reznor and Ross.

The full "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" soundtrack features 39 tracks, though it's hard to tell how many of these are full songs and how many are just brief musical interludes.