Thursday, May 31, 2012

Free "Today Show" and "Good Morning America" Summer Concerts Schedule

Better late than never, below I present the schedules for the Summer 2012 free concerts that will be aired by "The Today Show" (NBC) and "Good Morning America" (ABC). The concerts in both series take place on Friday mornings; the "Today" shows are held outside the program's studios in Rockefeller Plaza, while the "GMA" gigs are at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, the same site as the SummerStage concerts.

The "Today" show and "GMA" free summer concert series are underway.

The "GMA" schedule, you'll notice, is filled with a lot of "TBA"'s, so check back with the "GMA" concert series home page for updates.

Here is the schedule for the remaining concerts in each free summer concert series:

"Today" Show:
June 1: The Band Perry
June 8: Chris Brown
June 15: Justin Bieber
June 22: Kenny Chesney
June 29: Maroon 5

July 6: Flo Rida
July 13: Zac Brown Band
July 20: Hot Chelle Rae

[Updated] August 13: The Fray
[Updated] August 14: Nicki Minaj
[Updated] August 15: Carrie Underwood
 [Updated] August 16: Lionel Richie
[Cancelled] August 17: Shakira 
August 24: Train
August 31: Jason Mraz with special guest Christina Perri

[Updated] Sept. 3: Matchbox 20
[Updated] Sept. 18: Pink

"Additional performances may be announced throughout the season," the "Today" concert series page says. The site also says: "Viewing is on a first-come, first-served basis outside TODAY's window-on-the-world studio, located at 49th Street and Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. Fans should arrive by 6 a.m. for best viewing."

"Good Morning America":
June 1: Brad Paisley
June 8: Counting Crows
June 15: Beach Boys
June 22: Mary J. Blige
June 29: LMFAO

July 6: Demi Lovato
[Updated] July 13: Luke Bryan
[Updated] July 20: Karmin and Dragonette
July 27: No Doubt

[Updated] August 3: Ne-Yo
[Updated] August 10: One Republic
August 17: Neon Trees
August 24: The Wanted
[Updated] August 31: The Backstreet Boys

From the "GMA" website: "Viewers interested in joining 'GMA' in Central Park are encouraged to arrive at Rumsey Playfield via the 72nd street entrance on Fifth Avenue at 6 a.m. when the park opens to the public."

Concert Notes: Gaslight Anthem, The xx, The Walkmen, & More On Sale Fri.

June 1st is not just the beginning of a new month, it's the day that a crop of great indie and alt-rock shows in New York City goes on sale. On the slate are groups including New Jersey's own Gaslight Anthem, The xx, The Walkmen, and Yeasayer. Peter Gabriel is coming to the area, too; his show goes on sale Saturday (see the list below). Happy ticket shopping!

New Brunswick, NJ's Gaslight Anthem plays Webster Hall on July 24th.

On sale Friday, June 1st at 12 Noon:
* The Walkmen at Bowery Ballroom, Wed., June 6th.
* The Gaslight Anthem at Webster Hall, Tues., July 24th.
* The xx at Terminal 5, Thurs., August 7th.
* The Vaccines at Bowery Ballroom, Mon., Sept. 10th, and Music Hall of Williamsburg, Tues., Sept. 11th.
* Yeasayer at Central Park Rumsey Playfield, Wed., Sept. 12th.
* Poliça at Webster Hall, Sat., Oct. 6th.

Also on sale soon:
* Peter Gabriel "Back to Front" at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, Sun., Sept. 23rd ("'So' live, performed by the original 1987 lineup"). On sale: Mon., June 4th, 10 a.m.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Now Streaming: New Albums from Japandroids, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Kelly Hogan, & More

The new albums from Japandroids and Neil Young and Crazy Horse are two of the biggest attractions in this week's crop of albums streaming online, but there are some other much-anticipated releases as well. But first, a bit about the Neil Young album.

Japandroids at Maxwell's in Hoboken in late 2010.

Aptly called "Americana," it's Young's take on classical folk and traditional tunes such as "Oh! Susanna," "Gallows Pole," "Wayfarin' Stranger," and "This Land Is Your Land." And the album ends with a rousing version of "God Save the Queen" (the one that has the same melody as "My Country 'Tis of Thee," not the Sex Pistols' tune). This is the first album Young has put out with his old pals Crazy Horse in nine years, and all of his fans will want to check it out.

The wonderfully noisy Canadian duo Japandroids are back with "Celebration Rock," and they've got a lot to celebrate. They've gained a lot of buzz over the last year or so, and their New York shows next month sold out quickly. Which makes me all the more glad that I got to see them about a year and a half ago at the intimate room at Maxwell's.

I loved last year's self-titled album by Marissa Nadler, and will be looking forward to hearing her new release, "The Sister," which is available for preview over at Spinner. Another female singer I'm eager to listen to is Kelly Hogan, the longtime backup singer for Neko Case. Having always liked her voice, I've been interested to see what songs she would choose to tackle. On "I Like To Keep Myself In Pain," she sings songs written for her by some of her well-known collaborators besides case: such as Stephin Merritt, John Wesley Harding, M. Ward, and Vic Chestnutt. There's also one tune that Hogan wrote.

There's a lot more good stuff for preview this week, including the new releases by Liars, Gemma Ray, Julia Stone (without her brother Angus), and more. [Update, May 30: Rolling Stone has added the new album by Crocodiles; see link below.]

And you'll get a second chance at listening to new albums by artists including Sigur Rós, Regina Spektor, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

It's a jam-packed week of album previews; dig in and enjoy.

Rolling Stone:
"Americana" by Neil Young and Crazy Horse
"Endless Flowers" by Crocodiles (if that link doesn't work, try here)

NPR First Listen:
"Celebration Rock" by Japandroids
"I Like To Keep Myself In Pain" by Kelly Hogan
"Valtari" by Sigur Rós
"WIXIW" by Liars

KCRW Album Preview: 
"Heaven" by The Walkmen's Listening Party:
"The Sister" by Marissa Nadler
"By the Horns" by Julia Stone
"Here" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
"What We Saw From The Cheap Seats" by Regina Spektor
"Internal Logic" by Grass Widow
"Anxiety" by Ladyhawke
"Island Fire" by Gemma Ray
"Oh Michael, Look What You've Done: Friends Play Michael Chapman" by various artists (featuring Thurston Moore, Meg Bairds, Maddy Prior, and Lucinda Williams)
(and many more albums at Spinner's website)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Jess Klein Introduces Her New Album at The Living Room

Jess Klein is one of those singer-songwriters whose story is all too familiar: great voice and songs, lots of talent, a number of years and albums under her belt, critical acclaim, but still flying under the radar of popular awareness. I've enjoyed her music since hearing her album "Draw Them Near"back in 2000 or so, but had never seen her live until Friday at The Living Room in NYC.

Jess Klein flanked by Billy Masters and Professor Feathers (Mark Addison).

Although Klein, a Rochester, New York native, once lived in New York City, she relocated to Austin several years ago and I knew that Friday's show would be my best chance to see her in my neck of the woods. What's more, the Living Room gig featured her playing with a full band, including well-traveled guitarist Billy Masters (who I've seen in the past playing with Suzanne Vega and Dar Williams).

Jess Klein's current tour is to promote her latest album, "Behind A Veil,"which she released without a record label in April (you can preview the album below). As "No Depression" wrote, the album "shows why she ought to be Americana’s next big thing. Klein possesses one of those indelible voices that that can go from a sultry rumble to a plaintive wail even while grabbing attention on first encounter."  

Maybe it's due to her new location in Austin, but a number of songs on "Behind a Veil" have a satisfying country twang to them. The tunes range from ballads to out-and-out rockers, and if you're a fan of singers in a folk/pop/country vein, you'll want to check out Jess Klein.

To learn more about Jess Klein and her new album, listen to this interview she recently did with Austin Architects Podcast (which includes a few songs).

Jess Klein performing "Riverview" from her new album.

Friday, May 25, 2012

That Dog Plays 1st East Coast Show in 15 Years in NYC

Anna Waronker and That Dog made its long-awaited return to New York Thursday night, and the quirky, catchy indie-pop tunes. Despite a few glitches (forgetting which musician is to start off a song, beginning a tune with a capo that isn't supposed to be on the guitar, etc.), the band sounded fresh and in sync.

The harmonies of Waronker and sisters Petra and Rachel Haden—always one of my favorites aspects of the band—were solid throughout, and kept up with the varied vocal pyrotechnics of the band's songs. (To get an idea of the things Petra Haden can do with her voice, check out her a cappella cover album, "Petra Haden Sings The Who Sell Out.")

That Dog: Rachel Haden, Anna Waronker, Tony Maxwell, and Petra Haden.

At the sold-out first show of its two-night stand at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, That Dog didn't reveal any new songs (as far as I know), but played a variety of tunes from its three albums, "That Dog," "Totally Crushed Out!," and "Retreat from the Sun." (In what will be great news for fans of the band, it seems that new That Dog songs may be in the works.)

The audience, which shouted out requests throughout the show, got to hear favorites such as "Old Timer," "Zodiac," "Lip Gloss," "He's Kissing Christian," "Gagged and Tied," and "Long Island." The encore included "Minneapolis," "Hawthorne," and "This Boy."

Above: That Dog performs "He's Kissing Christian" at Thursday's show. Video by Mark Martucci, via Fruitless Pursuits

As I mentioned before, That Dog's first NYC show in a decade and a half coincided with the birthday of Steven McDonald, Waronker's husband and member of Redd Kross, which is releasing its first new album in many years. Waronker often looked up to the balcony during Thursday's show, where McDonald and their son were watching.

Read a Village Voice interview with Anna Waronker.

Above: That Dog performs "Never Say Never" Thursday night. Video by MrNYC.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Steven McDonald! Download New Redd Kross Tune; See That Dog in NYC

I'm guessing it's a very happy birthday today for Redd Kross founder (and current OFF! member) Steven McDonald. After a stint working as an A&R rep for Warner Brothers, McDonald is back with Redd Kross, which is set to release its first album in 15 years. "Researching the Blues"will be released August 7th on Merge (with whom the band signed earlier this month).

You can listen to and download the title track below or at SoundCloud, and see the tracklist at Consequence of Sound.

Cover of the first Redd Kross album in 15 years.
[Note: Off! plays at Bowery Ballroom on May 29th; tickets available here.]

Besides Steven McDonald, the current incarnation of Redd Kross features the "classic Neurotica" lineup including Steven's brother Jeff, Roy McDonald (also a member of The Muffs), and Robert Hecker. The band was scheduled to play two dates in the Midwest earlier this month; more Redd Kross tour dates will no doubt be added as the release date for "Researching the Blues"nears.

  Redd Kross - Researching the Blues by MergeRecords

Redd Kross isn't the only McDonald family band that's back in the public eye. That Dog, the '90s indie-pop band fronted by Steven's wife Anna Waronker, is playing out again and performs the first show of its two-night run at the Music Hall of Williamsburg tonight. The show is sold out, but there are tickets for sale on StubHub, some for around $4 each. Tickets for Friday's show are still available through the box office.

Fred Armisen of "SNL" opens tonight for That Dog; tomorrow Kurt Braunohler and Baron Vaughn do the honors.

I've been listening to That Dog recently in preparation for tonight's show and it's been a great reminder of how many great, catchy tunes the band recorded. I haven't heard anything about them recording new material, but am looking forward to seeing them nonetheless, especially since I never caught them live during their heyday.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from The Walkmen, Regina Spektor, Sigur Rós, & More

New albums by some much-loved indie musicians are streaming online this week, including The Walkmen, Regina Spektor, Sigur Rós, Saint Etienne, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. I'm looking forward to listening to all of those.

Some other streaming releases I'm interested in checking out: the new live album by the Tedeschi Trucks Band, the new disc from Gossip, and the first album in five years from '80s/'90s British band The Cult. (Note: Gossip plays New York's Terminal 5 Tuesday the 22nd; tickets are still available. And the Gossip set will be streamed live at 9:45 at

Also of interest: "Occupy This Album," a collection inspired by/dedicated to the Occupy Wall Steet movement and related endeavors. It features contributions by longtime activist musicians such as Jackson Browne, Ani DiFranco, and David Crosby and Graham Nash, as well as by Richard Barone (of The Bongos), Thievery Corporation, Our Lady Peace, the Warren Haynes Band, and James McMurtry with Joan Baez and Steve Earle.  

As with other such "cause"-related collections featuring contributions by diverse artists, I'm not sure how it will hang together as a cohesive album, but the good thing about streaming is the ability to "try before you buy."

Also this week are new albums by John Mayer, Shannon Stephens, The Cult, and another chance to stream the debut album by Kimbra.

NPR First Listen:
"What We Saw From The Cheap Seats" by Regina Spektor
"Valtari" by Sigur Rós
"Words And Music" by Saint Etienne
"Heaven" by The Walkmen
"Here" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros's Listening Party:
"A Joyful Noise" by Gossip
"Everybody's Talkin'" by the Tedeschi Trucks Band
"Vows" by Kimbra
"Choice of Weapon" by The Cult
"Too Tough to Live" by Dan Sartain
"Continuity Girl" by Modern Time Machines
"Pull It Together" by Shannon Stephens

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Born and Raised" by John Mayer
"Constantinople" by The Ides of Gemini
"Occupy This Album" by Various Artists

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mick Jagger, Arcade Fire, Foo Fighters: "SNL" Finale is Full of Stones Tunes

Mick Jagger sent the 37th season of "Saturday Night Live" off with a big musical bang last night, thanks to help from some heavyweight friends and an extra dose of Rolling Stones tunes. Before the show I was wondering how "SNL" would fit Jagger, Arcade Fire, Foo Fighters, and Jeff Beck into one hour-and-a-half program, and they did it by having two of the bands backing Jagger and adding in an extra musical segment to the show's traditional two-performance limit by musical guests.

Mick Jagger performs a medley of "19th Nervous Breakdown" and "It's Only Rock and Roll" with Foo Fighters.

Jagger sings "The Last Time" with Arcade Fire.

The third musical segment was Jagger performing "Tea Party," a blues song he wrote about the upcoming U.S. election. He performed this song with Jeff Beck and band (including Tal Wilkenfeld on bass). An odd piece, to be sure.

Jagger performs "Tea Party" with Jeff Beck and band.

The final musical performance, which closed the show, came at the end of a skit about a high-school graduation, with departing "SNL" cast member Kristin Wiig being singled out. The other "students" each took turns dancing with or hugging Wiig as Arcade Fire performed a medley of "She's A Rainbow" and "Ruby Tuesday."

Jagger and Arcade Fire send off Kristin Wiig with a medley of "She's a Rainbow" and "Ruby Tuesday." 

Wiig shed a few tears as she said goodbye to her cast members, and even "SNL" creator Lorne Michaels gave her a during the finale. John Hamm, Steve Martin, and Amy Poehler were also on hand. With her recent film success, especially the big hit "Bridesmaids" (which she starred in and co-wrote), Wiig becomes the latest talented comedian/actress to "graduate" from "SNL" to bigger things.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Garbage Plays on Jimmy Fallon (Video); Will Webcast NYC Show Tues.

Garbage appeared on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" Thursday night (video below) ahead of the release of its new album on May 22nd. You can see the band performing "Automatic Systematic Habit," which is a free download from iTunes this week (U.S. only).

Shirley Manson and the band will be playing New York's Webster Hall the day that "Not Your Kind of People" comes out, and while the show sold out the day tickets went on sale, it will be webcast live on MTVhive starting at 9 p.m. Eastern time. [Update, May 30: Videos from the Garbage Atlantic City show have been posted here.]

And while Garbage's NYC show is sold out (with tickets going for $95 and more on StubHub), there are still tickets available for the band's Friday night show at the House of Blues in Atlantic City. Not only are the tickets cheaper than the Webster Hall show, since the show is not yet sold out there are tickets selling on StubHub for below face value (as low as $15.00 as of today).

With round-trip bus tickets from NYC to Atlantic City going for $35 or less (often including casino vouchers), you can actually see Garbage in AC for less than in NYC, even including the transportation to and from the show. Hey, who knows, you might even win a few buck at the slot machines. There are much worse ways to kick off Memorial Day weekend.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Concert Notes: Many Festivals this Weekend; Metric & More On Sale Friday

It's not even officially summer yet, but this weekend is shaping up to be one of the busiest of the year in the NYC area. There are no less than seven festivals going on (in addition to events at the usual concert venues), and tickets for a number of popular shows are going on sale soon. And there's news about a very popular concert on the West Coast...

2012 NYC Popfest logo
NYC Popfest is on now with low ticket prices and hooks galore.

This Weekend's Festivals:
Maura Johnston of the Village Voice gives a brief synopsis of all seven festivals, but here the ones of interest to readers of this blog:

NYC Pop Fest (today through the 20th, Manhattan and Brooklyn) — An affordable pop explosion with advance tickets for many events only $10 (and one free show). Among the acts are 'Allo Darlin, Seapony, and Habibi.

The Bamboozle (May 18th to 20th, Asbury Park and environs) — Top acts include Skrillex, Incubus, and Mac Miller (18th), Foo Fighters and My Chemical Romance (19th), and Bon Jovi, The Gaslight Anthem, and Brand New (20th).

The Great Googa Mooga (May 19th and 20th, Prospect Park, Brooklyn) — This new festival celebrates food and live music (oddly, the food vendors were announced before the bands). Also odd: free tickets were given away but didn't last long, and the only other way to attend is to buy a VIP pass for $249.

Great Googa Mooga music acts include The Roots, Holy Ghost!, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Bear Hands (19th) and Daryl Hall & John Oates, Fitz & the Tantrums, Lez Zeppelin, and Peelander-Z (20th).

Emily Haines
Tickets for Metric (featuring Emily Haines, above) go on sale May 18th.

Concerts On Sale:
Saturday Night Live Finale:
Yes, "SNL" always has a musical guest (and sometimes a musician host), but this week's season finale is packed to the gills with music and should be something worth tuning in to. (Besides being the season's last show, this is the May sweeps period for networks.)

Mick Jagger hosts, and the show has announced that the Foo Fighters, Jeff Beck, and Arcade Fire will also appear. I have no idea how they'll fit all this in to one-and-a-half hours without doing one of those annoying everyone-on-stage all-star jams, but I'll be checking it out.

Coachella 2013 Advance Sale:
No, it's not your imagination: tickets for the 2013 edition of the California festival are on sale now. Once again, Coachella will take place on two weekends (April 12th to 14th and 19th to 21st). From the Coachella home page:
"We are excited to announce Coachella 2013 will again be held over two consecutive weekends.
Advance passes go on sale beginning this Thursday, May 17th, 2012 10:00 am PDT through the following Thursday, May 24th, 2012 10:00 pm PDT. This advance sale will be the only opportunity to take advantage of the Coachella Purchase Plan. New for 2013, the price you see is what you pay — prices reflect all fees included. The general on sale will happen early next year."

Monday, May 14, 2012

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from Willie Nelson, Kimbra, Santana, Meiko, & More

From the 79-year-old Willie Nelson to the 21-year-old Kimbra (who's become an internationally known for being the female vocalist on Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know"), there are plenty of interesting new albums for you to stream online this week.

Above: Willie Nelson singing with two of his sons. 

"Heroes," Willie Nelson's latest, features classic country tunes as well as new songs from the Red-Headed Stranger. (One of the non-country selections is Nelson's version of Pearl Jam's "Just Breathe.") The album features new songs as well as country classics, and includes guest vocalists such as Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Billy Joe Shaver, Sheryl Crow, Jamey Johnson, and Snoop Dogg (yes, you read that correctly), and two of Willie's sons, Lukas and Micah.

(Update: See Willie Nelson & band perform "Just Breathe" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.)

Most people who've heard Gotye's ubiquitous, infectious hit have been wondering: Who is Kimbra, the female singer on the track, and what else can she do? You can find out by listening to her debut album "Vows" at NPR Music below. Stephen Thompson of NPR Music calls the collection "a huge, brash showcase for Kimbra's voice, which soars, squeals and coos over whiz-bang arrangements that fuse modern pop, old-school soul and slick R&B." But he adds that the native New Zealander "hasn't yet perfected the art of nuance, which can make "Vows' exhausting in large doses."

Kimbra will be playing three shows in New York in the coming weeks, all on a bill with Foster the People, all in Central Park, and all sold out (May 29th and 30th, and June 11th).

Also this week: the new albums by Santana, Meiko, Cornershop, and Tenacious D, as well as second chances to preview the well-reviewed new releases from Best Coast, Garbage, and Beach House, which were streaming elsewhere last week.

NPR First Listen:
"Vows" by Kimbra
"Clear Moon" by Mount Eerie's Listening Party:
"Heroes" by Willie Nelson
"The Only Place" by Best Coast
"Bloom" by Beach House
"Not Your Kind of People" by Garbage
"Rize of the Fenix" by Tenacious D
"The Bright Side" by Meiko
"Night and Day" by Andre Williams and the Sadies
"Urban Turban" by Cornershop

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Shape Shifter" by Santana
"Perlas" by Josephine Foster & the Victor Herrero Band
"Pins and Narwhals" by Little, Big
"Jail House Bound: John Lomax's First Southern Prison Recordings, 1933" by Various Artists

Friday, May 11, 2012

CBGB to Return with July Music Festival; Club Being Planned

Live music under the CBGB name will return to New York in the form of a four-day festival in July featuring a free concert in Central Park. And the organizers are looking to a open a new CBGBs club in the city at some point.

The legendary CBGBs name will grace a music festival... and maybe a club.

The inaugural CBGB Music Festival will take place July 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th at 20 clubs around Manhattan and Brooklyn. Bands include veterans such as Willie Nile, Rocket from the Tombs, David Johansen (of the New York Dolls), the reformed D Generation (featuring Jesse Malin), and Guided by Voices as well as newer groups like Cloud Nothings, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The War on Drugs, and Vision of Discord.

The Cro-Mags and Sick of it All are also in the lineup, as well as The Baseball Project, the supergroup consisting of Steve Wynn, Scott McCaughey, Peter Buck and Mike Mills (from R.E.M.), and Linda Pitmon.

The CBGB Festival will also feature films and conferences.

The schedule hasn't been announced yet, but venues include Arlene's Grocery, Bell House, Joe's Pub, Le Poisson Rouge, and Highline Ballroom. There will be about 300 bands taking part, according to the New York Times (their article also describes the investors in the new CBGB effort and their future plans).

The group that owns the CBGB name is sponsoring the festival, and is hoping to re-open a New York City club with the legendary name. The group is said to be looking for locations below 14th Street, and is seeking to own the building the club will be in. This would avoid the problem faced by the original CBGB and many other New York clubs: having to close down when their landlord jacked up the rent to unsustainable levels.  

The free Central Park concert of the CBGB Festival will feature Guided by Voices, the Pains of Being Pure of Heart, Cloud Nothings, and other artists. The concert is set to run from 3 to 7 p.m.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Free Album Streaming: Listen to the New Garbage Album

You can now stream Garbage's new album, "Not Your Kind of People," at The album comes out on exclusively on iTunes first ("expected" on May 15th) and on May 22nd elsewhere. [Update May 14th: "Not Your Kind of People" is streaming at today through May 20th.]

The band has been releasing a number of short videos in conjunction with the new CD; below you can see live rehearsal footage for "Battle in Me." You can see this and the other videos on the Garbage YouTube page.

At the Spin preview page for "Not Your Kind of People" you can also find an interview the magazine did with Garbage singer Shirley Manson, and her recollections of recording each of the band's albums.

Update: Garbage announced on Twitter today that you can get a free download of its song "Automatic Systematic Habit" at iTunes this week (U.S. only).

Garbage began its tour on May 5th in Los Angeles and continues throughout the spring and summer, playing headlining gigs (many of them already sold out) and festivals in the U.S. and abroad. (Find all Garbage tour dates here.)

Monday, May 07, 2012

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from Best Coast, Beach House, & More

Just in time for summer, there are new albums from Best Coast and Beach House up for online preview this week. NPR Music says that on "The Only Place" Best Coast "doesn't just advance the band's irresistible garage-pop formula; it perfects it." I've only listened to the album once, but I also enjoyed it, and was glad to hear that they've added some new textures to the simple sound found on their debut album.

Above: Best Coast plays a new song, "Last Year," at the 35 Denton Festival.

Another popular group that made a splash a couple of years ago, Beach House, is back with a new album, "Bloom," and a reviewer from KEXP radio in Seattle calls it "a masterfully crafted set of expansive dream pop that rivals their 2010 breakthrough album 'Teen Dream.'" I haven't taken to the dreamy, layered-synth sound of Beach House the way many other people have, but I'll definitely give "Bloom" a listen and see if it gets me into the band.

Also streaming this week: Spinner has "Neck of the Woods" by Silversun Pickups (which was streaming on MTV's website last week); a four-song EP by S. Carey of Bon Iver; the new album by Animal Kingdom, and "Dr. Dee" by Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz, a soundtrack to an English opera about a 16th-century sorcerer who was a royal adviser.

Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune and "Sound Opinions" liked the early songs on "Dr. Dee," but says it fades from there, noting that it's "peppered by stuffy opera singers, slow-moving elegies, and unintentional silliness...."

In addition, Garbage announced online today that its new album, "Not Your Kind of People," will be streaming later this week. I'll post details on that when I hear them.

As always, the albums shown below are just a few of the many releases streaming each week; visit the websites to see the full listings.

NPR First Listen:
"The Only Place" by Best Coast
"Bloom" by Beach House
"Passage" by Exitmusic's Listening Party:
"The Looking Away" by Animal Kingdom
"Neck of the Woods" by Silversun Pickups
"Dr. Dee" by Damon Albarn
"Hoyas" EP by S. Carey
"Fading Light" by Justin Jones
"Journey Through the Shadows" by The Parlotones
"Secret Handshake" by Anthony Da Costa

Photos: The dB's, Freedy Johnston, & The Front Bottoms at Hoboken Music Fest

Sunday was a perfect day for live music in Hoboken, with great weather and great performances by a number of acts, old and new, that are (or were) from New Jersey and, in some cases, from Hoboken itself.

The reunion of The dB's ahead of the release of their first album in 25 years was a big draw, and the band delivered with tunes old and new. The songs from their forthcoming album, "Falling Off the Sky" (out June 12th) sounded great, and felt like worthy additions to The dB's catalog. The original lineup of Chris Stamey, Peter Holsapple, Gene Holder, and Will Rigby was rounded out by young singer-songwriter Brett Harris on keyboards and guitar.
Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple of The dB's.

While The dB's were the big draw for older music fans, the young New Jersey band The Front Bottoms had their own cheering section, and it was enthusiastic. (A mosh pit threatened to break out, the first time I've ever seen that at this festival.) No doubt they'll draw comparisons to another Bergen County indie/pop/punk outfit, Titus Andronicus. Like Patrick Stickles of Titus, Front Bottoms singer Brian Sella throws out rapid-fire streams of smart, funny, and sometimes oddball lyrics (such as "I will remember that summer / as the summer I was taking steroids / because you like a man with muscles / and I like you.”)

The Front Bottoms are a lot of fun to see live, and I'll probably try to catch their show again. I want to check out their self-titled album as well (on Bar-None Records).

I've never been disappointed by a Freedy Johnston show, and yesterday's was no exception. The Kansas native and former Hoboken resident played songs from throughout his career, which has been long and productive (it's hard to believe that his breakthrough album, "Can You Fly," came out way back in 1992). Backed by a band that included his frequent collaborator on guitar, the excellent Dave Schramm, Johnston played a set that included favorites such as "The Lucky One," "Until the Sun Comes Back Again," "This Perfect World," "Bad Reputation," and of course his cover of Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman."

Some photos below (more to be added later)...

Chris Stamey.

Holsapple, Stamey, and bassist Gene Holder.

Gene Holder.

Holsapple and dB's backing musician Brett Harris.

The Front Bottoms.
Brian Sella of The Front Bottoms.

Mathew Uychich of The Front Bottoms (drums); bass player not identified.

Freedy Johnston and band (Dave Schramm, Johnston, and Jared Nickerson. Not pictured: Steve Goulding, drum). The under-construction 1 World Trade Center can be seen rising in the background.

Dave Schramm (left) and Freedy Johnston.

Friday, May 04, 2012

The dB's, Freedy Johnston to Play Hoboken Spring Music Fest Sunday

The dB's and Freedy Johnston, two veteran music acts that have strong connections to the Mile Square City, will be the leading artists at the spring edition of the Hoboken Arts & Music Festival on Sunday, May 6th.

Above:: The dB's performing "Big Brown Eyes" from their debut album, "Stands for Decibels."

The dB's, which formed in the late 1970s, became a favorite in the New York area and beyond with their short, fast, jangly, pop-rock sound, and were one of the first bands to play at Maxwell's in Hoboken. The group that plays at the festival on Sunday will be its original four-man lineup: Peter Holsapple, Chris Stamey, Gene Holder, and Will Rigby. Three of them lived in Hoboken at one time or another, and one still does, according to the band's website.

The dB's broke up in 1988 and at least part of the band has reunited a few times since then. The band will be headlining the Hoboken Arts & Music Festival at 4:45 p.m. on Sunday and have several other gigs planned, including NYC's Le Poisson Rouge on June 15th.

In March the dB's announced that their new album, entitled "Falling Off the Sky,"would be released on June 12th. The album, their first studio release in 25 years or so, will be on Hoboken's Bar/None record label.

New Jersey punk/indie-pop duo The Front Bottoms plays before the dB's at 3:15. They've gotten acclaim from everyone from the L.A. Times to AbsolutePunk, with their debut self-titled album named to a number of best-of-2011 lists. You can hear two songs from the album at Bandcamp.

Above: Freedy Johnston's video for "Bad Reputation," from the album "Can You Fly."

Singer-songwriter Freedy Johnston, a former Hoboken resident, can still be seen performing in the Mile Square City from time to time, and Sunday won't be his first appearance at this festival. He's put out more than 10 albums full of well-crafted folk-pop tunes, including "Can You Fly," "This Perfect World," and "Right Between the Promises," and is perhaps best known for his chart hit "Bad Reputation" (video above).

Freedy Johnston takes the stage at 2 p.m.

Also playing on Sunday: the Jersey City rock band Wyldlife, local favorites the Demolition String Band, the rock trio Stephie Coplan & the Pedestrians, and standards-singing Emily Turonis (who impressed me with her performance at this festival in 2010).

The Hoboken Arts & Music Festival takes place on three stages on Washington Street (I've left off the schedule for the children's stage). Here are the schedules for the two main stages:

Observer Highway Stage (on Washington St. bet. Newark & Observer Highwy)
11:45 a.m. – Wyldlife
12:30 p.m. – The One & Nines
1:15 – Demolition String Band
2:00 – Freedy Johnston
3:15 – The Front Bottoms
4:45 – The dB's

Sixth Street Stage
12:30 p.m. – Bandwidth
1:10 – Hannah & The M&Ms
1:30 – Outside the Box
2:25 – Stephie Coplan & the Pedestrians
3:15 – Funkaphonic with Rob Harari
4:00 – Emily Turonis
4:40 – Alexandria Potosnak
5:00 – Orchestra C2

Adam "MCA" Yauch of the Beastie Boys Dies at 47

Adam Yauch, a founding member of the rap group Beastie Boys, died today at just 47 years old. He had been undergoing treatment for cancer since 2009, when a tumor was discovered in his salivary glands. The cancer delayed the release of "Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2," the most recent album by the Beastie Boys.

Part of the notice of Adam Yauch's death on the Beastie Boys website.

At the time of the diagnosis, statements indicated that Yauch thought the cancer was treatable and could be overcome. It's not been revealed if Adam Yauch's death was the direct result of the cancer that was diagnosed in 2009.

The Beastie Boys were the first rap group to have an album hit #1 on the charts—their first full-length effort, "Licensed to Ill," in 1986.

Yauch co-founded the Beastie Boys in 1979, along with friends Mike "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horowitz.

The tributes have been coming in from far and wide in the music community, and beyond. (Dan Reilly of has collected a number of them here.) What's more, all starting players for the New York Mets have said that they will use Beastie Boys songs as their walk-up music tonight, it was reported tonight on Twitter.
Of course, the best way to pay tribute to Yauch is by listening to some of the music he created. You can hear an appearance that his bandmates made last year to KCRW radio, to celebrate the release of "Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2." Also check out a tribute to Adam Yauch that KCRW DJ Jason Bentley played today.

The Beastie Boys had a profound impact not only on hip hop but other types of music. And Adam Yauch put charitable causes, particularly the struggle for rights in Tibet, at the forefront of his non-musical efforts.

Rest in peace, MCA. Our condolences go out to his family and friends, and the other members of the Beastie Boys.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Listen to Silversun Pickups' New Album & Metric's New Single

Silversun Pickups are streaming their forthcoming album "Neck of the Woods"(out May 8th) in full on MTV (see below), while Metric is releasing tidbits of its June 12th release, "Synthetica," out in drips and drabs. You can stream their new song "Youth without Youth" (with lyrics) below.

Silversun Pickups have some tour dates scheduled, but so far all the U.S. dates are on the west coast.

(If the stream doesn't work, listen at MTV's website here.)

As for Metric, Emily Haines and the guys fortunately have scheduled some summer dates across the U.S. and, happily for me, that includes New York (though the venue, Radio City Music Hall, is a puzzling choice for a rock band that will probably have fans standing up the entire show).

What's more, Metric's website has a bonus: "Instant Gratification! Every Concert Ticket Purchased for Metric's US Fall Tour Comes With Music: You'll get the digital download of first single 'Youth Without Youth' immediately, followed by the full SYNTHETICA album download on June 12."

See the Metric tour dates here, and visit Metric's website for details on the various special collections and other options for buying "Synthetica." Metric's tour begins at the Sasquatch festival in Washington state on May 26th, and comes to New York on Sunday, Sept. 23rd. Presale is now open to many shows to members of the Metric fan community (free registration).
Metric "Youth without Youth" official video with lyrics:

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Fest with The Walkmen, The Antlers, Sharon Van Etten, & More Starts Thurs.

The inaugural Crossing Brooklyn Ferry festival starts tomorrow and, despite the name, it's not an outdoor fest or even near the water (it's a Walt Whitman poem). Instead, the music-and-film event (which is curated by Bryce and Aaron Dessner of The National) takes place at three separate venues at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. (Hear Bryce Dessner talk about the festival on WNYC's Soundcheck® program.)

Artists who'll be appearing at Crossing Brooklyn Ferry include The Walkmen, The Antlers, St. Vincent, Sharon Van Etten, Beirut, and Atlas Sound. (Hear/download a five-song live set Van Etten performed at the WFMU radio studios.)

See set times and other info on the Crossing Brooklyn Ferry festival below.
Crossing Brooklyn Ferry has events beginning in the early evening on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and at this time tickets seem to be still available for all three days. Tickets are $45 for each day. Here are the lineups for the main venue, the Gilman Opera House:

Thursday, May 3rd
The Walkmen - 10:45 to 11:45 p.m.
Sharon Van Etten - 9:30 to 10:15
Twin Shadow - 8:15 to 9
Jherek Bischoff - 7 to 7:45

There are short films and other musicians on the other two stages, including People Get Ready (hear them and Jherek Bischoff in the Soundcheck® audio above). Also of note on one of the other stages: Heather Broderick, the singer and multi-instrumentalist from Van Etten's band.

Friday, May 4th
St. Vincent - 10:45 to 11:45 p.m.
The Antlers - 9:30 to 10:15
Tyondai Braxton - 8:15 to 9
Sõ Percussion - 7 to 7:45

Musicians on the other stages include Buke and Gass (from 10 to 10:45) . And there are DJ sets by Christ Keating (of Yeasayer) and Joakim from 12 to 12:45.

Saturday, May 5th
Beirut - 10:45 to 11:45 p.m.
Atlas Sound - 9:30 to 10:15
My Brightest Diamond & Ymusic - 8:15 to 9
Caveman - 7 to 7:45

Musicians on the other stages include Skeletons and Thieving Irons, and there's a DJ set by Pat Mahoney and Nancy Whang (DFA) from 12 to 12:45.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from Sara Watkins, Marilyn Manson, Santigold, & More

This week's offering of free album streams has something for everyone, with new albums from artists ranging from the down-home Americana of Sara Watkins (of Nickel Creek) to the infectious pop/new wave/reggae of Santigold, as well as Brian Jonestown Massacre, Marilyn Manson, and a whole bunch of indie rockers and singer-songwriters. (Greg Kot of "Sound Opinions" says the new Santigold album "Got my summer album locked down" in his 3.5 out of 4 review.)

Above: Video for Santigold's "Disparate Youth" from her new album.

As a fan of rock en español and other Latin-influenced rock and pop music, I'm looking forward to checking out the new album by Chicha Libre, which, NPR Music says, plays a type of music known as chicha, "best described as a psychedelic mash-up of surf guitar, cheesy analog keyboard sounds and a funky Amazonian take on cumbia."

I'm also looking forward to hearing new releases from indie acts such as The Parlotones, Reptar, Hope for Agoldensummer, Archie Powell & the Exports, and Father John Misty.

Another album to check out is "Mischievous Moon," the new release by Canadian singer Jill Barber. Its lush orchestral arrangements of tunes that sound like they could have been hits in decades past has "echoes of everything from Burt Bacharach to Blossom Dearie and Patsy Cline" (Toronto Star). "Mischievous Moon" is streaming at the Outside Music website.

And for something really different, there's "Pat Boone Sings a Tribute to The Ink Spots Feat. Take 6" by Pat Boone. This one should be a better fit for the old-time crooner than his famous album of metal tunes years ago. For fans of show tunes, the cast of the NBC TV show "Smash" is out with an album.

It's a very diverse smorgasbord this week, enjoy.

NPR First Listen:
"Sun Midnight Sun" by Sara Watkins
"Master Of My Make-Believe" by Santigold
"Royal Headache" by Royal Headache
"Canibalismo" by Chicha Libre's Listening Party:
"Aufheben" by Brian Jonestown Massacre
"A Monument" by Tu Fawning
"A Different Ship" by Here We Go Magic
"Fading Light" by Justin Jones
"Journey Through the Shadows" by The Parlotones
"Body Faucet" by Reptar
"Fear Fun" by Father John Misty
"yellow//gold" by The Spring Standards
"Great Ideas in Action" by Archie Powell & the Exports
"Wallpaper Music" by Cheap Time
"Bury a Dream" by Driver Friendly
"The Only Way to Kill You" by Greylag
"Seeds" by Hey Rosetta!
"Life Inside the Body" by Hope for Agoldensummer
"Homewrecker" by Little Hurricane
"Fog Electric" by North Atlantic Oscillation

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Born Villain" by Marilyn Manson
"The Music of 'Smash'" by "Smash" Cast
"Ad Astra" by Shevy Smith
"That Noble Fury" by That Noble Fury
"Pat Boone Sings a Tribute to The Ink Spots Feat. Take 6" by Pat Boone

Photos: The Shins, Monday Night at Terminal 5 (Show #2)

The Shins' Monday night show at New York's Terminal 5 may not have sold out in advance (as did the first and third concerts), but there was no shortage of fans or energy at the gig. James Mercer brought his revamped lineup back for a second night, playing a setlist similar to that of the previous night (see the Village Voice review of that show for details).

The Shins: Jessica Dobson, Yuuki Matthews, Joe Plummer, and James Mercer. (Not in photo: Richard Swift.)

Mercer has been around long enough to know the sound he wants, on record and on stage, and the current Shins roster is full of talent: singer-songwriter Richard Swift on keyboards, Jessica Dobson (who has worked with Beck and others) on guitar, Joe Plummer of Modest Mouse on drums, and Yuuki Matthews of Crystal Skulls on bass.

As with Sunday night's Terminal 5 shows, the group got harmony vocals from Amber Coffman and Haley Dekle of Dirty Projectors. (The Shins have had several different very capable backup singers on this year's tour, including The Watson Twins during their set at the first weekend of Coachella.)

Naturally the band's latest album, "Port of Morrow,"got the most exposure during the show, but the set also featured favorites including "Kissing the Lipless" (the concert's opening number), "Young Pilgrims" (which Mercer performed solo acoustic to begin the encore), "Caring is Creepy" and "New Slang" (both from the "Garden State" soundtrack), and "Phantom Limb" from The Shins'  previous album, "Wincing The Night Away."(Here is a Shins setlist from last night that claims to be complete but with the songs out of order.)

Since I've never seen The Shins in concert before I have nothing to compare Monday's show with, but it was a solid performance that had the crowd into it throughout. The band delivered a tight performance that in many cases had more of a rocking edge to it than the original studio versions of the songs, which was fine by me.

Though some fans of The Shins might be disappointed by the absence of some of the old members, it's hard to argue with Mercer's current lineup.

James Mercer.
Matthews, Mercer, and Swift.

Jessica Dobson with Amber Coffman and Haley Dekle in back.