Thursday, March 29, 2012

Marky Ramone Brings His Punk Blitzkrieg to Maxwell's (PHOTOS)

Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee are gone, but Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg carried on the punk tradition and brought a fast-paced stream of Ramones hits to Maxwell's Wednesday night. Marky, of course, anchored the tight four-piece band from behind the drum kit, with Michale Graves, one of Marky's bandmates from the old Misfits days, performing ably on lead vocals.

Like a Ramones show, the Blitzkrieg set featured a rapid-fire assault of one tune after another. A few seconds after a song, the bass player counted down the "1, 2, 3, 4" to the next one. The one-hour-and-20-minute set included many of the hits any Ramones fan would recognize: "Rockaway Beach," "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend," "I Don't Care," "Cretin Hop," "Sheena is a Punk Rocker," "Chinese Rock," and of course "Blitzkrieg Bop" and "I Wanna Be Sedated."

The band also played at least one original Blitzkrieg song that I recognized, "When We Were Angels."

There was hardly any stage banter, but when seeing a performance of Ramones tunes, the music does all the talking.

Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg continues its brief East Coast tour with dates in Atlantic City (March 30th), Baltimore (March 31st), and the Bell House in Brooklyn on April 1st. After that they're off to tour Europe and Asia. See all tour dates for Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New Tunes: Dum Dum Girls "Coming Down" Video; Songs from Garbage, Japandroids, & More

Some great new tunes have come out this week, from bands including Dum Dum Girls, Garbage, Japandroids, and Silversun Pickups. First off is the video of "Coming Down" by the Dum Dum Girls, directed by the band's own bass player, Malia James (who is also a photographer/videographer/writer/who knows what else).

The video uses a shortened, four-minute version of the song, which ran six-and-a-half minutes on DDG's "Only in Dreams" album from late last year. (Related: see photos from the February Dum Dum Girls show at Maxwell's.)

Here's all the new stuff:

* Dum Dum Girls, "Coming Down" video:

* Garbage's "Battle in Me" video (U.K. single). (Via Consequence of Sound, which also features the track listing.):

* Japandroids have a new single, "The House That Heaven Built." You can listen to it at their website. Also: the band is playing Bowery Ballroom on June 27th; get tickets here this Friday at 12 Noon.

* Stereogum as posted a new song download by Screaming Females, "Expire." At the link you can also find their live dates; they're kicking off their tour with an album release show at Maxwell's on April 5th.

* Silversun Pickups are out with a new song, "Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)," which you can listen to at the link or listen to below (for some reason, SoundCloud embeds aren't working for me).

* Crocodiles, the band fronted by Brandon Welchez (husband of Dum Dum Girls frontwoman Dee Dee), is preparing a new album and has a new video of its own: an album teaser that sends up those old Time-Life Records collections of the past. (Via NME.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from M. Ward, Cowboy Junkies, Paul Weller, & More

Whatever kind of music you're into, you'll find something to like among this week's free album streams. There's the return of established artists like M. Ward and the even more established Cowboy Junkies and Paul Weller (of The Jam and Style Council).

Indie rockers Bear in Heaven, Oberhofer, and Of Monsters and Men are back with new releases, and in the singer-songwriter vein I'm enjoying the new release from sisters Allison and Catherine, The Pierces. (Note: The Pierces are the musical guest on Jay Leno Tuesday night; I'll post the video tomorrow. Update: you can watch The Pierces doing "You'll Be Mine" on Leno here.)

Video for M. Ward's "The First Time I Ran Away," from his new album.

For a change of pace, check out the new EP by the group Poor Moon, which features two members of Fleet Foxes and Crystal Skulls... the new album by the psychedelic/progressive band Astra... and Macy Gray singing Radiohead.

Yes, that's right, the R&B/soul singer-songwriter tackles "Creep," the band's first single on new album of covers. The collection also features several funny skits, making this more creative than your average cover album.

It's a diverse line-up this week; dig in and enjoy!

NPR First Listen:"A Wasteland Companion" by M. Ward
"I Love You, It's Cool" by Bear in Heaven
"My Head is an Animal" by Of Monsters and Men's Listening Party:
"Sonik Kicks" by Paul Weller
"Time Capsules II" by Oberhofer
"You, Anniversary" by Lindsay Fuller
"Rob Me Blind" by Jay Brannan
"Illusion" EP by Poor Moon
"The Black Chord" by Astra
"Wave Sleep Wave" by Wave Sleep Wave

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"You and I" by The Pierces
"Covered" by Macy Gray
"Wilderness" by Cowboy Junkies
"Into the Sky" EP by TJ Courtney
"Divide the Blackened Sky" by The Veer Union

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Psychedelic Furs Play Maxwell's - Still Rocking After All These Years

The Psychedelic Furs played at Maxwell's in Hoboken Sunday night, and if you had closed your eyes you might have thought you were back in the band's heyday in the 1980s. Best known for their hit "Pretty in Pink," which was used in (and whose title helped inspire) the 1986 John Hughes teen movie of the same name, the Furs achieved good critical notices and worldwide chart success with its post-punk/new wave sound, poetic (and sometimes scathing) lyrics, and catchy pop hooks.

Rich Good (left) and Richard Butler at Maxwell's Sunday.

On Sunday the band played the second of its two sold-out performances at Maxwell's, starting off with "Into You Like a Train" from 1981's "Talk Talk Talk." The audience was enthusiastic and most of it seemed familiar with the band's songs. But no one was more enthusiastic than Furs frontman Richard Butler. He was animated throughout the entire one hour, 15-minute set, pogoing between songs, gesturing to fit each song's lyrics, smiling broadly, and even high-fiving fans in front of the stage.

Richard Butler.

I never saw the Furs at the height of their success, so I don't know if Butler was always like this on stage. Maybe he had too much coffee or Red Bull before the gig, but it's just as likely he loves performing and was particularly jazzed to have so many people remembering the Furs and their songs (and selling out concert dates) all these years later.

Richard and Tim Butler.

Butler was in fine voice, and the band sounded great. The current lineup includes original member Tim Butler (Richard's brother) on bass and longtime members Mars Williams (saxophone) and Paul Garisto (drums). Also in the band are Rich Good on guitar and Amanda Kramer on keyboards.  

Although the set was 75 minutes and didn't include an encore, the Furs played pretty much nonstop for that whole time. They presented a good mix of songs from their albums, including "Pretty in Pink," Love My Way," "President Gas," Heartbreak Beat," and "Imitation of Christ."

And fans of the band will be glad to know that, according to the band's website, a new album is "definitely in the cards," although there's no time frame given.

Tim Butler.

The Psychedelic Furs are continuing their tour with dates in the Northeast and Midwest, after playing another gig in NJ tomorrow at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood (tickets). Among other places, they'll be playing a gig in Pittsburgh put on by The Andy Warhol Museum.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Black Keys & Arctic Monkeys Rattle the Garden with Straight-Ahead Rock

Although The Black Keys have exploded from a moderately successful act to arena headliner in just a few years, the band kept its no-frills approach to performing at Thursday's concert at Madison Square Garden.

The Black Keys + two at MSG Thursday. 

 The duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney unleashed one bluesy rocker after another, starting with "Howlin' For You," with Auerbach occasionally pausing briefly between songs to thank the audience and ask how everyone was doing. Other than that, he was content to zip into another tune, several times saying things like, "Let's keep it moving right along" or "We're gonna move on to the next one, huh?"

The simple stage layout featured guitarist and singer Auerbach and drummer Carney up front and side by side, with two multi-instrumentalists (identified only as "Josh" and "John") behind them to fill out the sound. At about the middle point of the show, the backing players left the stage and Auerbach and Carney reeled off about a half-dozen tunes by themselves. But with the chops and chemistry the two share, their bare-bones guitar-and-drums-only sound managed to fill the Garden.

Carney (left) and Auerbach performed a set of tunes without their backing musicians. 

The Black Keys played songs from throughout their catalog, with an emphasis on their two latest albums, "El Camino" and their breakthrough, "Brothers." Fans were treated to "Run Right Back," "Strange Times," "Chop and Change," "Thickfreakness," "Tighten Up," and of course "Lonely Boy," the first single off "El Camino," the last song in the regular set. (See's review for a full Black Keys MSG setlist.) Disco balls descended from the ceiling, and from the general-admission floor, for "Everlasting Light," the first tune in the three-song encore.

Arctic Monkeys opened Thursday's show MSG.

British rockers Arctic Monkeys got the show off to a rousing start. Although they were more communicative with the audience than The Black Keys, they similarly ripped through a set of uptempo songs with a no-frills attitude. The emphasis, as expected was on their latest album, "Suck It and See."

The Black Keys could have sold out Madison Square Garden twice by themselves, but the inclusion of Arctic Monkeys made this show an even more attractive twin bill.

Considering The Black Keys' reputation as road warriors who tour relentlessly, if you missed the band on this leg of their tour you'll probably get a chance to catch them soon.

Friday, March 23, 2012

NYC Concerts on Sale Friday: Lana Del Rey, Jack White & Alabama Shakes, Go-Go's, & More

Lana Del Rey will get another chance to NYC audiences over when she takes the stage for three shows at Irving Plaza in June, which go on sale Friday morning. These dates, on June 7th, 8th, and 10th, come a few months after the polarizing singer's widely panned performance on "Saturday Night Live."

Lana Del Rey's video for "Blue Jeans." [Update: See her performance from last night's "American Idol" below.]

There are other concerts of note going on sale Friday morning, including two of the most talked-about performers at this year's South by Southwest, Jack White and the Alabama Shakes, on the same bill. The shows below are listed by date.
The summer concerts at Jones Beach, PNC Arts Center in NJ, and other outdoor venues are starting to go on sale; more news on those in a later post.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Allman Brothers Band at the Beacon Theatre, March 21st - Photos & Setlist

The Allman Brothers Band is nearing the end of this year's annual run of shows at the Beacon Theatre, and I was able to attend Wednesday night's concert. Below are some photos and a setlist (also available on the band's website).

I go almost every year, and while it's easy to take such an annual event for granted, I try not to; to enjoy each show on it's own, and as if it might be the last. As usual, the Allman Brothers displayed its usual high-quality musicianship. As a friend who attends the concerts with me said a few years back, an Allmans show is like a jazz concert; these are top-notch musicians who include a lot of improvisation in their shows.

Yankee great Bernie Williams (second from right) joined the band on stage Wednesday.
As usual, a number of guest stars joined the band on stage. In a uniquely New York touch, the night's first guest, in the very first song ("One Way Out"), was former Yankee outfielder Bernie Williams (who has recorded at least one album of guitar music). Also guesting with the Allmans on Wednesday night: singers Ruthie Foster and Susan Tedeschi; guitarist Roddy Lawrence; bluegrass banjo player Tony Trischka; and The Juke Horns (playing on multiple numbers).

The Allman Brothers Band on stage at the Beacon Wednesday.

Warren Haynes singing, accompanied by The Juke Horns.

Susan Tedeschi and Ruthie Foster singing with the Allman Brothers.
Gregg Allman singing.

The Allman Brothers Band has two more shows in this year's Beacon run, this Saturday and Sunday. The shows sold out long ago, but there are tickets on StubHub, and prices there often actually get lower as show time approaches and sellers get itchy to get rid of their tickets.

In other Allmans news, Gregg Allman is coming out with an autobiography, "My Cross to Bear,"in a couple of months. No doubt it will be interesting to read his takes on the band's early days, her perspectives on decades of life on the road, and his health scare with hepatitis C and a liver transplant.

Setlist from the Allman Brothers Band show at the Beacon, Wed., March 21st:
1. One Way Out (with Bernie Williams, guitar)
2. Midnight Rider
3. The High Cost Of Low Living
4. Bag End
5. River's Gonna Rise (with Ruthie Foster, vocals; Bernie Williams, guitar)
6. Blind Willie McTell (with The Juke Horns)
7. Stand Back (with The Juke Horns)
8. Soulshine (with The Juke Horns)
9. The Same Thing (with The Juke Horns)

Set II Acoustic
10. Katrina (Rocky Lawrence, guitar & vocals & Warren & Derek only)
11. Grinnin' In Your Face (Ruthie Foster & Warren, a capella)
12. Death Came A Knockin' (with Ruthie Foster, guitar & vocals, Susan Tedeschi, vocals)
13. These Days (Gregg & Warren only)

14. Blue Sky
15. The Weight (with Ruthie Foster & Susan Tedeschi, vocals; Juke Horns)
16. Les Brers In A Minor (with Tony Trischka, banjo; bass & banjo solo; drum solo)

17. Revival

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from The Shins, Yukon Blonde, Lost in the Trees, & More

Following up on their "Saturday Night Live" performance and webcast from an NYC club, The Shins are back with their new album "Port of Morrow" (out today) and you can now hear it streaming online at below. (You can also stream the album at The Shins' website.)

The Shins also performed a live concert on David Letterman tonight (which I just found out now); it's being rebroadcast at 10 p.m. Tuesday and may be archived for later viewing).

Other albums streaming this week include new collections by Lost in the Trees, Yukon Blonde, and Margot and the Nuclear So & So's, as well as a solo album from Daniel Rossen from Grizzly Bear. There's also an album by McEuen Sessions, a project featuring John McEuen, a founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and his two sons.

And if you're interested in something besides traditional rock, you can listen to "Amazonico Gravitante" by Argentinian Mati Zundel, who blends electronica and dance beats with Latin wind instrumentation and other traditional sounds.

Also in a different vein is "Radio Music Society," the new album from Esperanza Spalding, the young songwriter and bass player who was the surprise of the 2011 Grammys when she won for Best New Artist.

NPR First Listen:
"Amazonico Gravitante" by Mati Zundel
"Radio Music Society" by Esperanza Spalding's Listening Party:
"Port of Morrow" by The Shins
"Rot Gut Domestic" by Margot and the Nuclear So & So's
"Silent Hour/Golden Mile" by Daniel Rossen
"Tiger Talk" by Yukon Blonde
"On Market Street" by Penelope Houston
"A Church that Fits Our Needs" by Lost in the Trees

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Safe in Your Arms EP" by Cory Lamb
"Beautiful Alien" by Atom Smash
"For All the Good" by McEuen Sessions

Monday, March 19, 2012

Titus Andronicus Posts Free "Mixtape" With New Single, Rarities

Download the free Titus Andronicus "mixtape" with their new single, rarities, and more below.

New Jersey punk rockers Titus Andronicus have give their fans an unique and rather generous gift: a free "mixtape" download that contains their new single plus all sorts of rarities and outtakes.

“Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape with the Flood of Detritus” live at the Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ 3/4/2012 by YouTube user Rotolo3.

The third track on the compilation is the new Titus single, "Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape with the Flood of Detritus," which the notes says is from the forthcoming split seven-inch single with Diarrhea Planet, and was recorded just last month.

There are also cover versions of rock classics such as "The Boys Are Back in Town," "I Fought the Law," and the Velvet Underground's "Heroin," as well as various demos and outtakes. There are rarities recorded in clubs and in people's homes, such as "Arms Against Atrophy," the band's first recording (2005), according to the notes. The web page also features a number of performance videos (most made by fans).

You can download the Titus Andronicus mixtape here.

Titus Andronicus is currently working on its third album.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Music Notes: The Civil Wars Make Billboard Cover, Imperial Teen Contest, & More

The Civil Wars are the subject of a recent cover story in Billboard.
This edition of news from the music world includes another big accomplishment for an acclaimed duo, a unique contest to get attention for a returning indie-pop band, a new signing for an established rocker, and more concert podcast downloads from South by Southwest.

* The run of good luck just keeps on going for The Civil Wars, with the duo making the cover of last week's Billboard. The accompanying story describes their other accomplishments, including scoring a movie, having one of their songs featured on the "Hunger Games" soundtrack, and co-writing a song with megastar Taylor Swift. Oh, and that's all besides their one-minute appearance on this year's Grammys, which gave them the show's second-largest bump in sales after the telecast (trailing only Adele).

* Imperial Teen has come up with a novel way to drum up attention for its latest album, "Feel the Sound": it's encouraging fans to download and print out masks of the band members, and then create videos of themselves wearing them. The idea came from fans' requesting their own copies of the masks that appear in Imperial Teen's "Runaway" video. And that led to a full-blown contest.

"Feel the Sound"(Merge Records) is Imperial Teen's fifth album, and the first in five years for the San Francisco band that features Roddy Bottum, formerly of Faith No More. See reviews of the album in Rolling Stone and Spin.

* Speaking of Merge, the indie label added another prestigious name when it announced during South by Southwest that it had signed Bob Mould. The former member of Hüsker Dü and Sugar is working on a new album, which will be out on Merge in the Fall. According to Mould's website, the album will be "recorded with his current bandmates, Jon Wurster (Superchunk, The Mountain Goats), and Jason Narducy (Robert Pollard, Verbow)."

As noted here before, Mould is planning a limited number of shows in the coming months at which he'll perform Sugar's album "Copper Blue"(which was released 20 years ago). He was scheduled to perform "Copper Blue" at South by Southwest last night (March 17th).

* There are more SXSW concert downloads available from NPR Music, including Sugar Tongue Slim, Lower Dens, and Poliça. The set by The Magnetic Fields will be posted sometime later, NPR says. And if you didn't hear or see Bruce Springsteen's SXSW keynote address, make sure you check it out; it's a great discussion on the history and meaning of music, and is definitely worth your time.

* WFMU has posted the archives from its March 17th live show at Beerland for SXSW, featuring performances from The Men, Jason Sigal and Brian Turner, Electric Jellyfish, and more.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Concert Notes: Fiona Apple at SXSW (Video), SXSW Podcasts, The Shins & More On Sale

Fiona Apple performs "Anything We Want" last night in this fan-filmed video. 

There's lots of current concert news, and not all of it's related to South by Southwest. In fact, there are a number of interesting concerts coming up in the New York area that are going on sale tomorrow. Here's what's up:

* If you missed last night's late concerts from Stubb's at SXSW on NPR Music, they're up now for streaming or podcast download. See these links for sets Sharon Van Etten, Dan Deacon, Alabama Shakes, and Andrew Bird.

* Fiona Apple's return to the stage had people talking, and you can see videos of two new songs by her ("Every Single Night" and "Anything We Want") at the Village Voice's wrap-up of Day 1 at SXSW.

As for those NYC-area concerts (all of which go on sale tomorrow, March 16th, at 12 Noon, except for the first show):

* Chip Taylor, writer of "Wild Thing" and "Angel of the Morning," is having a record-release show March 22nd at Hill Country for his new album, "F*ck All the Perfect People." Tickets are on sale now.

* Fresh off their appearance on "Saturday Night Live," The Shins are on the road and will play three nights at New York's Terminal 5, April 29th and 30th, and May 1st.

* Like The Shins, Garbage is making a return from a number of years off with a new album and tour. Garbage plays Webster Hall on May 22nd.

* Another returning act, That Dog, has added a second show at Music Hall of Williamsburg on May 25th. The original show on the 24th is sold out.

* Beach House plays a SummerStage benefit concert on June 23rd.

* Bonnie Raitt plays the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ (with Mavis Staples) on June 19th.

* Jonathan Richman plays two shows at Bowery Ballroom, June 12th and 13th.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

NPR Music's Live SXSW Webcasts Start Tonight

NPR Music kicks off its live SXSW music webcasts with nine shows on Wednesday and Thursday.

Sharon Van Etten kicks off NPR Music's schedule of live webcasts from the SXSW music festival tonight. There are four shows this evening (going late into the night), and five shows tomorrow afternoon and evening.

Van Etten's set is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Central time (yes, apologies for the very late notice here). Fortunately, most if not all of these sets will be posted online later for viewing and/or listening.

The live webcasts scheduled for tonight and tomorrow:

Wednesday, March 14th:
Sharon Van Etten, 9 p.m. Central
Dan Deacon, 10 p.m.
Alabama Shakes, 11:15 p.m.
Andrew Bird, 12:30 a.m. (Thursday morning)

Thursday, March 15th:
Bruce Springsteen (delivering keynote address), 12 noon Central
La Vida Boheme, 1 p.m.
Sugar Tongue Slim 1:45 p.m.
Polica 2:30 p.m.
Lower Dens 3:15 p.m.
The Magnetic Fields 4 p.m.

One SXSW show that happened earlier tonight that may be online later: Fiona Apple staged her triumphant return to performing with a set that had a lot of critics in attendance raving. Spinner tweeted, "Fiona Apple's first show after being away for what feels like forever is terrific, terrifying, triumphant." [Update: You can see one of the new songs Fiona Apple performed tonight here at Consequence of Sound, in a video recorded by a fan. (The song is “Anything We Want;" she also played the new songs “Valentine” and “Every Single Night.”)] Apple's new album (which is 23 words long) is set to come out in June.

The Fiona Apple set was presented or sponsored by NPR, which has said it hopes to put it online for viewing, if Ms. Apple approves.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Lemonheads Played "...Ray," and More, at Maxwell's (Monday Show)

It was back-to-the-'90s night Monday when Evan Dando brought the latest incarnation of The Lemonheads to Maxwell's in Hoboken, in the first of two sold-out shows. The shows were promoted as the band performing its classic album "It's a Shame About Ray," but Monday's turned out to be a little less than that, and a lot more.

Evan Dando at Maxwell's Monday night.

Although the current Lemonheads (a trio of Dando, plus a very capable bassist and drummer*) played most of "...Ray," Dando didn't hesitate to "fast forward" through songs he didn't feel like playing. But while the set was lacking, for example, "Mrs. Robinson," one of the band's best-known songs (to casual fans, at least), the band's hour-and-a-half set included a lot more than just that album. (*Note: the other current members of the Lemonheads are Chuck Treece on drums and former Taking Back Sunday guitarist Fred Mascherino on bass.)

The Lemonheads moved quickly from one song to another, making one wonder if their van was double-parked somewhere and they were trying to finish up their set so they could move it before getting ticketed. This may appear negative but it really isn't, because the band's catchy, three-minute pop gems sound perfect when strung together one right after the other.

About midway through the show the bassist and drummer left the stage, leaving Dando to perfect about eight songs solo on acoustic guitar, including "Into Your Arms" (which I would have preferred to hear with the band, but since it's not on "It's a Shame About Ray," I can't complain too much).

I was right up front next to a serious Lemonheads fan who mouthed the lyrics to every song. He was standing right in front of Dando and, in fact, a couple of times the singer looked to the fan for guidance (not sure if it was on lyrics, order of verses in a song, or something else).

For fans of The Lemonheads, this tour is a great chance to see Evan Dando & company up close.

South by Southwest 2012: Free SXSW Downloads, Podcasts, Streaming Shows, & More

See what's happening the the SXSW Music Festival below.

The music portion of this year's South by Southwest festival starts March 13th (running through the 18th), and as usual there are plenty of ways to sample music by the artists involved and the actual concerts down in Austin. Here are a few (I'll add more as I come across them):

NPR Music's SXSW coverage grows each year, with live webcasts of concerts, podcasts, and more. Stream or download their SXSW preview podcast here, which notes some of the musicians they're most interested in seeing. Check out their "Austin 100" playlist of songs, see their full SXSW broadcast schedule, and visit the NPR Music SXSW home page for all the latest news, streams, and downloads.

SXSW coverage from L.A.'s KCRW radio includes news, reviews, and tracks to listen to, including those from its own nightly showcases, such as Oberhofer and Temper Trap.

The Alternate Side and its parent, WFUV, have SXSW coverage including Bruce Springsteen's keynote address (1 p.m. EDT on Thursday, March 15th) and live and recorded music sets from Sharon Van Etten, Alabama Shakes, Shearwater, The Magnetic Fields, and many more. takes a look at the breakout bands of SXSW 2012, as chosen by music bloggers and writers including those from Billboard,,, and Consequence of Sound. has a free download of songs from 30+ artists who'll be getting lots of attention at SXSW this year; this "Austin Power" collection has tunes from Hospitality, Sharon Van Etten, Screaming Females, Pujol, The War on Drugs, Widowspeak, and more.

Concert listing website Oh My Rockness has a guide to SXSW music featuring its 10 must-see bands, a guide to free shows, listings of what it considers the best unofficial SXSW gigs, and more

Canada's Arts and Crafts record label has a Soundcloud sampler of songs from its artists, including Dan Mangan and The Darcys.

Fellow music blogger Andriana (Dre) at Gluttony is the New Black has her own SXSW Soundcloud page with picks of musicians she wants to see, including Matt Easton and Fanzine.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Trophy Stars Played "Alphabet. Alphabets" at Maxwell's Sunday Night

Trophy Scars brought its brand of psychedelic/progressive/post-hardcore rock to Maxwell's Saturday and Sunday nights, playing its album "Alphabet. Alphabets" in its entirety to sold-out crowds both nights. I wasn't familiar with the band until a few weeks before the show, but since Maxwell's is a convenient, affordable venue for me, I bought a ticket to Sunday's show and starting checking out some of their music on Spotify.

Trophy Scars frontman Jerry Jones.
Although the Morristown, New Jersey band is working on a new album, this weekend was devoted to playing its 2006 collection "Alphabet. Alphabets" all the way through. Trophy Scars has a devoted and enthusiastic following, and much of the front third of the crowd at Sunday night's show was chanting the lyrics and pumping its fists along with each syllable.

Apparently things can get a little too enthusiastic, for signs were posted saying that anyone other than band or crew to get on the stage would be ejected, and two bouncers were at the front of the stage during the Trophy Scars set (the first time I've seen either of these things at a Maxwell's show).

Frontman Jerry Jones also addressed the crowd before launching into the set, telling them that crowd surfing would not be allowed owing to the low ceiling and lights at Maxwell's. But there was no trouble during the show, and Trophy Scars plowed through the album, which was every bit as loud and raw in person as its recorded version. (Though I usually don't wear earplugs to concerts, listening to the recoded version of "Alphabet. Alphabets" convinced me to bring them to Maxwell's. They were definitely needed.)

Although hardcore and post-hardcore aren't usually my favorite types of music to see live, Trophy Scars does have it quieter moments, and the fact that it adds in blues and experimental influences makes it more interesting. I would probably see them live again.

You can see an interview with Trophy Scars frontman Jerry Jones here.

Trophywife, one of the opening acts.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sat. Afternoon Videos: Springsteen Plays the Apollo, Watch The Shins Webcast Replay, & More

Since many of us were frantically clicking around on the web this morning trying to get Radiohead tickets, let's wind down by watching videos of some musical performances that made the news this week. One of the most notable (and the most recent) of these was last night's show at the famed Apollo Theater by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. (See a video excerpt of "We Take Care of Our Own" and "Wrecking Ball" below.)

The concert was to mark the 10th anniversary of SiriusXM radio; see the writeup by Spinner's Dan Reilly for a review, setlist, and another video in addition to the one above. Sounds like it was a fantastic show, based on the comments by Reilly and others who either attended or listened to the concert.

The Shins returned from a five-year absence with a free concert webcast on NPR Music last Thursday night that was streamed only through the organization's iPad app. The show, at New York's Le Poisson Rouge, is now available for viewing online; you can also listen to the audio only. You can watch or listen to the Shins' concert here. Incidentally, The Shins will be the musical guests on "Saturday Night Live" tonight, and Nashville-based singer-songwriter Jessie Baylin will be part of the band.

Bradford Cox, leader of Atlas Sound (and Deerhunter), got very literal last week with a heckler who demanded to hear "My Sharona": he played a jam based on the song for a full hour (see two excerpts below).

The incident, at an Atlas Sound show in Minneapolis last Friday, was only one odd aspect of the concert, which saw Cox asked the heckler to come onstage and take his clothes off, ans instructing audience members to hold their venue's chair above their heads. Some attendees, including the person who shot the video, called the "My Sharona" cover "awesome" and "fantastic."

Finally, Sarah McLachlan performed a set before a few hundred people at CBC Vancouver as part of the network's "Toque Sessions." She then left the stage to a choir of musicians from the Sarah McLachlan School of Music, which reportedly moved into a new home in Vancouver recently. Watch the video for "Possession" below, and see more videos from the concert at CBC Music.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

NY Area Concerts On Sale: Radiohead, That Dog, Edward Sharpe, & More

Some big shows in the NYC area are going on sale Friday and Saturday, so here's a heads-up on a few of them, with links to tickets. The biggest event is Radiohead's return to the metro region with two concerts at Newark's Prudential Center, May 31st and June 1st. These are the first shows the band will play at The Pru, as well as the only New York area shows scheduled on this leg of their tour.

Indie rock favorites That Dog return for a concert at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

At the other end of the spectrum (in terms of commercial success, anyway) is the first East concert in more than 15 years by the much-loved 1990s indie rock band, That Dog. There's no words on whether the band will be mounting a full tour, but after doing at least a couple of reunion shows in L.A. last year, they're playing at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on May 25th. Comedian Fred Armisen of "Saturday Night Live" opens.

The members of That Dog have an impressive musical pedigree: frontwoman Anna Waronker is the daughter of record producer Lenny Waronker (and is married to Steve McDonald of Redd Kross); sisters Rachel and Petra Haden are daughters of famed bass player Charlie Haden.
For all those trying to get Radiohead tickets, let's hope that Ticketmaster is more prepared for the onslaught than it was for Springsteen tickets when they went on sale.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Free Album Streaming: Listen to New CDs from Bruce Springsteen, Kaiser Chiefs, & More

The big release this week is "Wrecking Ball"by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, but there are some other fine new albums streaming online this week. That includes the new album by Kaiser Chiefs, the first album by Tanlines, and new albums by Now, Now and Miniature Tigers.

As I wrote the other day, Springsteen and band appeared on Jimmy Fallon last week; you can see the videos here.

"Wrecking Ball" comes out March 6th, and it's streaming online at Soundcloud.

The Oscar-winning movie "Once" (starring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova) has been turned into a Broadway musical, and you can preview the original cast recording below. I'll be curious to see how that sounds. Speaking of curiosity, you can stream a new album featuring a collaboration between Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood and Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki.

And I have to mention another intriguing selection, the latest album by journeyman guitarist, singer, and songwriter Tim Foljahn. He's been in the band Two Dollar Guitar; played on albums by artists as diverse as Cat Power, Townes Van Zandt, and Thurston Moore; and has made albums of song cycles and experimental music. His new album "Songs for an Age of Extinction" is his first "song-based" album in several years, according to his website. (You can download a couple of tunes from the album at Foljahn's website.)

I saw Foljahn Friday night at Cake Shop, opening for Jennifer O'Connor (who I wrote about last week before the show). I enjoyed his set, which featured songs that had a kind of '70s-style feel: sometimes psychedelic; other times recalling English folks songs of that era. Foljahn is touring with O'Connor, (see dates here), which is no coincidence: his new album is released on the Brooklyn singer's own Kiam Records label (which released her latest album, "I Want What You Want," among others).

O'Connor and Foljahn will be doing a series of dates this spring, including at South by Southwest next week.

Tim Foljahn and band playing at New York's Cake Shop Friday night.

Check out the titles streaming below (and see the websites for additional albums), and leave your comments below on which of these new albums you're enjoying.

"Wrecking Ball" by Bruce Springsteen's Listening Party:
"Start the Revolution Without Me" by Kaiser Chiefs
"In the Bright Rain" by Crushed Stars
"Threads" by Now, Now
"Songs for an Age of Extinction" by Tim Foljahn
"Milk Famous" by White Rabbits
"Mia Pharaoh" by Miniature Tigers
"The Clearing" by Bowerbirds
"Secret Music" by Secret Music
"Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968" by Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin

Rolling Stone:
"We Will Raise Our Voices to the Air (Live Songs 04.11-08.11) by The Decemberists (disc one of two available for streaming)

NPR First Listen:"Mixed Emotions" by Tanlines
"Once" - Original Cast Recording
"Krzysztof Penderecki / Jonny Greenwood" by Krzysztof Penderecki and Jonny Greenwood

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Live Music Notes: Springsteen Week on Fallon and Jack White on SNL

There have been some memorable musical performances on TV this past week, featuring Bruce Springsteen and Jack White. In case you weren't up late to watch, here are the highlights.

Jimmy Fallon celebrated "Springsteen Week" on his show this past week, with appearances by Bruce and band on two nights, and covers of songs by The Boss done by John Legend and Elvis Costello (videos below).

Springsteen is prepping for the release of "Wrecking Ball,"his latest album with the E Street Band, which comes out Tuesday. Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune and public radio's "Sound Opinions" gives the album a rating of two stars out of four

(Speaking of live music, you can see a performance of an entirely different kind tonight [Sunday], when WFMU wraps up its 2012 fundraising marathon with a revival of Hoof and Mouth Sinfonia, an event at Maxwell's in Hoboken in which FMU DJs perform karaoke backed by a live band. Admission is only $5. If you can't be there, you can watch it or listen to it live. The festivities begin at 7 p.m.)

Springsteen performs "Jack of All Trades."

Springsteen plays "The E Street Shuffle" with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine.

John Legend plays "Dancing in the Dark."

Elvis Costello covers Springsteen's "Fire"...

... and "Brilliant Disguise." 

Jack White took the stage at the NBC studios last night as the musical guest on "Saturday Night Live." His two songs (both from his forthcoming album "Blunderbuss") looked, felt, and sounded completely different, and I liked both of them. The first, "Love Interruption," featured an all-female band and White on acoustic guitar. For the second number, "Sixteen Saltines," White amped up the intensity, ripping it up on electric guitar with a band of sharp-dressed dudes in jackets and ties.

Unfortunately, you'll have to wait a while to get "Blunderbuss;"it doesn't drop until April 24th.

Jack White getting in touch with his more mellow feminine side on "Love Interrupted"...

... and rocking out on "Sixteen Saltines."

That's a pretty good week of rock & roll on TV, I'd say.

Friday, March 02, 2012

NYC Gigs to See This Weekend: Jennifer O'Connor

If you're looking for a good music show to see in NYC this weekend, we'd suggest checking out Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Jennifer O'Connor, who plays twice this weekend (tonight at Cake Shop, no advance tickets; Sunday at Brooklyn's Union Pool [see link for tickets]).

Time Out New York listed tonight's Cake Shop show as one of the weekend's must-see concerts.

O'Connor's "You Come Around" was featured on NPR's Song of the Day this week.
 It's no secret that these are not easy times for musicians (especially independent ones), and O'Connor has had her share of the music-business meat grinder: releasing a couple of albums on small labels; getting signed to a major (Matador) and making two albums, then getting dumped; doing a variety of odd jobs while reconsidering the whole business of making music, etc.

O'Connor deserves a lot of credit for continuing to make music and get it heard. Of course this wouldn't mean much if her music wasn't worth hearing, which it certainly is. Her long-and-winding musical story has recently taken a turn for the better, however, as her latest album "I Want What You Want"(released last Fall) has gotten good notices.

And two of her songs have been used in TV shows in recent weeks (more on that below). (You can listen to "I Want What You Want" below, buy it using the "Buy" links on the Soundcloud widget, and buy it at here.)

Jennifer O'Connor - I Want What You Want by Jennifer O'Connor

My favorite tune on "I Want What You Want" is the achingly beautiful "Swan Song (For Bella)," which O'Connor has said is perhaps her best song. As you might guess from the title, O'Connor wrote the song for one of the "Twilight" movies. While it was ultimately not used for the film, it was featured in a recent episode of the NBC TV show "Parenthood."

O'Connor's "Change Your Life" was used in the ABC show "Private Practice," and yet another song from "I Want What You Want,""You Come Around," was featured by NPR as its Song of the Day this past week.

I'll be at tonight's show at the Cake Shop. In addition to O'Connor, I'm be interested in seeing Ma'am, a band that features a number of '90s indie rock veterans including Lyle Hysen, formerly of Das Damen (See an old article on Ma'am here.)

Reviews of "I Want What You Want": Dusted, Pitchfork, Onion A.V. Club.

Jennifer O'Connor upcoming performances: 
Friday, March 2nd, Cake Shop, 152 Ludlow St., Manhattan
$10, 8 p.m. doors, 21+.
On the bill: Ma'am (8 p.m.), Tim Foljahn (10 p.m.), Jennifer O'Connor (11 p.m.)

Sunday, March 4th, Union Pool, 484 Union Ave., Brooklyn
$10, 8 p.m.
On the bill: Amy Bezunartea, Kleenex Girl Wonder, Jennifer O'Connor