Sunday, October 28, 2012

Aimee Mann Plays Town Hall; Other NYC Shows Up in the Air [UPDATED]

At the first of her planned three-night run of shows in New York, Aimee Mann displayed the catchy tunes and clever, intelligent lyrics that have made her a favorite among fans and fellow musicians alike. As expected, she played much of her new album, "Charmer,"while also including songs from her previous discs, including "4th of July," "Goodbye Caroline," and her cover of the Three Dog Night single, "One" (from the "Magnolia" soundtrack).

Aimee Mann at Town Hall Saturday.
Aimee Mann at Town Hall Saturday.

Mann's wry sense of humor is also evident in some of her videos, most recently the one for the title track from "Charmer," in which Mann seeks to sidestep the grind of touring by buying a look-alike robot (played by Laura Linney) to go out on the road for her. (See video below.)

No doubt much of the credit goes to the video's director, Tom Scharpling (the legendary host of WFMU's "The Best Show"), but kudos to Mann for, at the very least, agreeing to go along with the wacky idea.

Opening act Ted Leo performed a set of songs solo on electric guitar. Also he did a fine job on his own, try to catch Leo playing with his band The Pharmacists, who provide a rocking background to Leo's literate lyrics.  

NOTE: Mann and Leo are scheduled to perform Monday at Bowery Ballroom (sold out) and Tuesday at Music Hall of Williamsburg (tickets still available), but this is subject to change due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Sandy in the New York area Monday. [UPDATE: Monday's show at Bowery Ballroom has been postponed; it will now be held Wed., Oct. 31st.]

(Apologies for the short post, but we're preoccupied with hurricane preparations here on the East Coast, and the few photos taken at the show didn't come out well.)

Aimee Mann and band at Town Hall.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A.C. Newman & The Mynabirds Bring Infectious Pop to Maxwell's

If you're a fan of catchy indie pop with lots of hooks, Maxwell's was the place to be Wednesday night for the doubleheader of A.C. Newman and The Mynabirds. Newman, of course, is the frontman for the New Pornographers, and a number of the songs on his solo albums sound similar to that group.

Videos of two songs from A.C. Newman's new album, filmed by La Blogothèque.
The tunes on his third solo disc, "Shut Down the Streets," feature his most personal lyrics to date, as he's mentioned in interviews: in the last couple of years he's experienced the highest of highs (the birth of his first child) as well as a devastating low (the death of his mother). (See the Pitchfork and MTV interviews.)

A.C. Newman playing at Maxwell's
A.C. Newman at Maxwell's Wednesday.

There are, of course, elements of the familiar New Pornographers pop sound, but there are also echoes of an earlier era: Newman has said he was influenced by 1970s folk-rock singer-songwriters such as Jim Croce and Gerry Rafferty.

The instrumentation on this new album (and on the current tour) takes a new turn as well; the traditional guitar-bass-drums-keys sound is nicely augmented by clarinet, flute, and saxophone—instruments that can often add a sad or wistful touch to a song. (Download two songs from "Shut Down the Streets" at Newman's website.)

"Shut Down the Streets" is a beautiful album, and Newman and his band do a fine job of recreating its sound in concert. 

Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds
Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds.

The Mynabirds, led by Laura Burhenn and musician/producer Richard Swift (who is currently also a member of The Shins), got a lot of attention and critical acclaim with their 2010 debut album, What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood." Like Newman's new album, it drew on '70s influences including soul and folk-rock.

The new Mynabirds record, "Generals," is a a more pop-oriented record, sometimes raucous, and with ample percussion and even some dance songs. This all makes for a fun live show, and though the lyrics to many of the songs are politically oriented, the show never feels preachy.

The Mynabirds were a good opener to A.C. Newman, and certainly a band worth seeing in their own right.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Now Streaming: New CDs from Cody ChestnuTT, Café Tacuba, & More

There aren't a lot of new albums streaming this week, but a few stand out (including a reissue and an archival release from a jazz master). Soul singer Cody ChestnuTT has been getting a lot of buzz recently (including at last week's CMJ), and you can hear why when you preview his new album, "Landing on a Hundred." NPR Music says the album "fleshes out and enriches his sound in every way, while showcasing a powerful voice that still conjures Stevie Wonder and countless other influences and antecedents."

Café Tacuba performing"De Este Lado Del Camino" ("From this side of the road") from their new album.

As fans of Latin rock, we're excited to see another album from Mexico's Café Tacuba, one of the longest-running bands doing rock in Spanish, and still making good albums after all these years.

In the continuing series of reissues designed to make us all feel old, you can listen to the 25th anniversary edition of Peter Gabriel's "So." Remember when people actually carried around huge boomboxes like Lloyd did in "Say Anything"? Yeah, seems like 100 years ago...

Reaching back even further into musical history, Charles Mingus was making jazz history in the 1960s, and some of his old live recordings from then have come to light. Below you can hear selections from "The Jazz Workshop Concerts, 1964-65," a seven-disc set of tunes made by bands led by Mingus, some of them unreleased.

Also this week you'll find new releases from the Kopecky Family Band and Canadian sensation Diamond Rings. And you'll get another chance to hear the new releases from Bat for Lashes and Pig Destroyer. As always, there are more albums streaming that what's listed here; see the websites below for full listings.

Fire up your boombox, er, digital music gizmo, and dig in...

NPR First Listen:
"Landing on a Hundred" by Cody ChestnuTT
"The Jazz Workshop Concerts, 1964-65" by Charles Mingus
"El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco" by Café Tacuba

KCRW Album Preview: 
"III" by Shiny Toy Guns's Listening Party:
"The Man With the Iron Fists (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)" by Various Artists
"The Haunted Man" by Bat for Lashes
"Free Dimensional" by Diamond Rings
"Between Buildings, Towards the Sea" by Autumn Owls
"So (25th Anniversary)" by Peter Gabriel
"Kids Raising Kids" by Kopecky Family Band
"Rabbit Inn Rebellion" by State Radio

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Collide & Conquer" by Hunter Valentine
"Let Down" by Lilly Hiatt
"Book Burner by" Pig Destroyer
"Four-Letter Words" by Simon Spire

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Yo La Tengo's 2012 Hanukkah Shows On Sale Monday (with Links to Tickets)

Holiday decorations are appearing in stores, and another sign of the season is here: Yo La Tengo's slate of Hanukkah shows at Maxwell's go on sale Monday, Oct. 22nd. The concerts, a series of eight shows taking place on the the nights of the Jewish festival of lights, feature a varied set list each night and appearances by a wide range of opening acts and guest stars.

[UPDATE: All shows are now SOLD OUT.]

Yo La Tengo live
Yo La Tengo playing in Port Washington, NY in 2007.

The names of the special guests aren't revealed until the night of the show, unless there's a leak or Yo La Tengo mentions something on its website.

Tickets are $35 for each show, and go on sale Monday at 12 Noon via Ticketfly and at Tunes in Hoboken and Other Music in New York. (Note at Ticketfly site: "4 ticket limit for this event per household, customer, credit card number and email address.")

Doors are at 8 p.m. each night, with the show starting at 9.

Here are links for buying tickets to each show online:
These show always sell out quickly, so check your calendar and buy tickets as soon as you can.

Good luck!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Early Show Tonight at Maxwell's: The Return of NJ's Speed the Plough & The Trypes

Amid the flood of shows going on tonight in Manhattan and Brooklyn for the final night of CMJ, there's a good show over at Maxwell's that's received little notice: the reappearance of NJ favorites Speed the Plough and The Trypes. (Note: it's an early show, starting at 6:30 p.m., and tickets are still available at the door as of the writing of this post.)

"Lucky You" by Speed the Plough, from 2011's "Shine."

Fans of the much-loved Haledon, NJ indie rockers The Feelies will recall that during that band's hiatus members went on to play in other groups in the 1980s and beyond, most notably Speed the Plough and The Trypes. STP released several albums in the '80s and '90s before taking a break themselves of more than a decade. They reformed in 2009 with several original members and some new members. (In a development that will remind of all of how old we are, some of those new musicians are the offspring of the original band members.)

Besides working on a compilation, Speed the Plough is also recording new tunes.

Unlike Speed the Plough, The Trypes don't have of a recorded history, to say the least: in fact, they left just one EP behind. Fortunately, earlier this year Acute Records released "Music For Neighbors," which features that EP along with practice sessions and live sets from venues like Maxwell's and the long-defunct Haledon bar, the Peanut Gallery. Pitchfork gives "Music For Neighbors" a 7.5 rating.

The Trypes will be playing an acoustic show at Maxwell's.

If you're a fan of either of these bands or of The Feelies, you'll want to catch this early show at Maxwell's tonight. Lianne Smith is also on the bill, and tickets are only $10.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Photos: Local H, Hounds Below, & The Life and Times at CMJ

The no-frills venue Union Square Ballroom was host to an appropriately straightforward night of rock late Wednesday for the Slimstyle Records showcase featuring Local H, The Hounds Below, and The Life and Times. The Hounds Below, which just released its debut album, was sandwiched in between two veteran acts.

slimstyle CMJ poster
Local H kicked off the Slimstyle showcase Wednesday at CMJ Union.

Local H, which now consists of the duo of founder Scott Lucas (guitar and vocals) and Brian St. Clair (drums), has been around in various configurations for a quarter century. Their latest album, "Hallelujah! I'm A Bum," is their first since 2008. Like any guitar-and-drums rock duo, this Chicago-based band is bound to bring comparisons to The Black Keys. And like their midwestern compatriots, Local H rocks hard, has catchy songs, and makes a full sound that is hard to believe is coming from just two people.

The Hounds Below, a quartet out of Michigan led by former Von Bondies frontman Jason Stollsteimer, is supporting its first album, "You Light Me Up in the Dark," which came out earlier this month. (Listen to "You Light Me Up in the Dark" online at the A/V Club.)

The Life and Times, which has been around about a decade, is a trio from Kansas City led by Allen Epley. They've got more than a half dozen albums and EPs out including their latest, "No One Loves You Like I Do," which was released in January. They'll be playing a number of dates with Local H in October and November.

Local H:

The Hounds Below:

The Life and Times:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

CMJ Rolls On: Free Song Downloads, Recommendations, & More

CMJ 2012 is underway in full force Wednesday, with the second day kicking off early with Daughter playing at a KEXP show at 10:30 a.m. See the complete schedule for CMJ (which runs through the 21st), and click the "Showcase" button on the right-hand side to see the music events.

Better late than never, the Village Voice is out with its dozen don't-miss acts for CMJ 2012 (including Savages, above, playing Glasslands tonight).

And Spinner is offering a free download of 30 songs on its CMJ 2012 Mixtape, featuring Bear Hands, Eleanor Friedberger, Dum Dum Girls, Levek, and Miracles of Modern Science. (They say they'll be issuing a second part of the mixtape later.) [Update: here's the second part of the mixtape download.]

What's worth seeing on the CMJ schedule for tonight? Here are some of the gigs Pitckfork is recommending:
  • Flying Lotus, Death Grips, and Buke and Gase at the NPR Music/WNYC Soundcheck showcase (Le Poisson Rouge)
  • Dum Dum Girls, Savages, Icona Pop, IO Echo, and Port St. Willow at the Stereogum/Popgun showcase (Glasslands)
  • Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Indians at the Hype Machine showcase (Brooklyn Bowl)
Entry to these will be in high demand, so you'll want to get there early, or be prepared to stand in line for some time.  If you're interested in some good music in a more low-key atmosphere, check out the lineup of north-of-the-border acts at the Canadian Blast show at Arlene's Grocery (starting at 8 p.m.), including Two Hours Traffic and Elephant Stone:

Two Hours Traffic kicks off the Canadian Blast show.
Get out there and enjoy some live music!

Monday, October 15, 2012

CMJ 2012 Begins Tuesday: Listen to the Bands; Get Suggestions of What to See

The CMJ Music Marathon starts Tuesday, Oct. 16th, giving music fans a wealth of gigs (and impossible choices in trying to choose between them). And many of the showcases are free or cheap. If you have specific bands in mind you want to see or are just feeling adventurous, you can dive headlong into the CMJ schedule.

If you'd prefer some guidance and suggestions on what to see, here's a roundup of suggestions from a variety of music sources, including ways to listen to songs by the artists. (List will be updated as more recommendations are found.)

* has a day-by-day list of CMJ shows, including its own showcases and day parties. Also see their list of free shows

* If you've got Spotify, check out their playlist of what they see as the 100 artists that are performing at CMJ, including DIIV, Mountain Goats, Dum Dum Girls, Metz, Doldrums, and many more

* Brooklyn Vegan doesn't have a CMJ section per se, but you'll find plenty of coverage in its several-time-daily posts. BV is also sponsoring two free day parties on Friday and Saturday (which are not part of CMJ), the 19th and 20th, at Public Assembly in Brooklyn

* NPR Music is running a continuous stream of music by CMJ artists, recommended by staff at 11 different radio stations. They're also sponsoring a CMJ showcase on Wednesday night with Flying Lotus, Death Grips, and Buke & Gase, which you can watch live online. WFUV will host a show with Savoir Adoir, Indians, Little Green Cars, and Wax Poetic on Tuesday at 7 p.m.; the station will broadcast it live on air at 90.7 FM

* The New York Times suggests "Six Hopefuls Worth Watching," including the all-female British band Savages, the punk trio Merchandise, and the 21-year-old rapper Angel Haze

* New York Magazine's CMJ guide includes recommendations such as Angel Haze, Little Green Cars, and Pissed Jeans

UPDATES, Oct. 16th:
* Pitchfork's day-by-day recommendations for CMJ 2012

* David Greenwald (Rawkblog) has an article in Billboard on 10 acts to watch at CMJ; among them: Ghostface Killah, Sky Ferreira, and Kimbra

Two showcases I'm planning on checking out: Slimstyle Records on Wednesday with Local H,  The Hounds Below, and The Life and Times (at Union Square Ballroom, 27 Union Square West), and Kiam Records/Comedy Minus One on Friday (Left Field, 87 Ludlow St.).

The latter includes Tim Foljahn, Ma'am, the Karl Hendricks Trio, and Rebecca Gates (formerly of The Spinanes), and headlined the excellent singer-songwriter Jennifer O'Connor, who also happens to be the head of Kiam. (I did a brief mention of O'Connor and Foljahn when I saw them earlier this year.)

What are you checking out at CMJ this year? Who are your must-see acts? Leave your comments below and let us know!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Now Streaming: New CDs from Titus Andronicus, K'Naan, Bat for Lashes, & More

With all the wonderful punk noise that Titus Andronicus has been making since it burst upon the scene a few years back, it's easy to forget that they have only two albums out. That changes in a week with the release of their third album, "Local Business," and you can preview it now at NPR Music (see link to their "First Listen" series below). Another eagerly awaited album there is "The Haunted Man" by Bat for Lashes, the follow-up to her 2009 release, "Two Suns."

Speaking of eagerly awaited releases, Spinner has "Country God or the Girl" by K'Naan, the Somali-Canadian rapper (see the video for "Hurt Me Tomorrow" above). What does his music sound like on his first album following his worldwide mega-success, including his song "Wavin' Flag" being used as a World Cup anthem by Coca-Cola? Like many people, I'm interested to find out.

Spinner also has the latest by Donald Fagen, best known for being half of Steely Dan. Also this week are new albums by ZZ Ward, Widespread Panic, and more, as well as second chances to stream the latest from Jason Lytle and Trey Anastasio.

NPR First Listen:
"Local Business" by Titus Andronicus
"The Haunted Man" by Bat for Lashes
"Book Burner" by Pig Destroyer
"Mars" by Sinkane

[Updated Oct. 16th:]
"Lost Songs" by ... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead's Listening Party:
"Til the Casket Drops" by ZZ Ward
"Country God or the Girl" by K'Naan
"Our Nature" by Savoir Adore
"Sunken Condos" by Donald Fagen
"Wood" by Widespread Panic
"Kinder Machines" by Beaten By Them
"Geronimo" by Piney Gir
"Animator" by The Luyas
"Traveler" by Trey Anastasio
"Dept. of Disappearance" by Jason Lytle

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Concert Notes: Matisyahu, Purity Ring, Fun., & More On Sale Friday

Tickets go on sale tomorrow for concerts reaching all the way into next April, including indie acts such as Matisyahu, !!!, and Purity Ring as well as mega-sellers fun. and Muse. Most of them go on sale at 12 Noon, but check below for specific times. (Purity Ring went on sale yesterday.)

matisyahu tour schedule
Matisyahu's Festival of Light tour makes two stops in the NY area.

* Hollerado at Mercury Lounge, Wed., Nov. 7th (late show). On sale: Oct. 12th, 12 Noon

* Rosie Flores and Marti Brom at Mercury Lounge, Wed., Nov. 14th. On sale: Oct. 12th, 12 Noon

* !!! and Sinkane at Music Hall of Williamsburg, Thurs., Dec. 13th. On sale: Oct. 12th, 12 Noon

* Matisyahu: Festival of Light at Terminal 5, Sat., Dec. 15th and Capitol Theatre in Port Chester (acoustic), Sun., Dec. 16th. Both on sale: Oct. 12th, 12 Noon

* Purity Ring and Young Magic at Webster Hall, Fri., Jan, 11th. On sale now.

* Keane with special guest Youngblood Hawke at Radio City Music Hall, Thurs., Jan. 31st. On sale: Oct. 12th, 11 a.m.

* fun. at Radio City Music Hall, Sat., Feb. 2nd. On sale: Oct. 12th, 12 Noon

* Bear in Heaven with Small Black and ERAAS at Music Hall of Williamsburg, Wed., Dec. 5th. On sale: Oct. 12th, 12 Noon

* Muse at Madison Square Garden, Mon., April 15th and IZOD Center, Fri., April 19th. On sale: Oct. 12th, 9 a.m. [UPDATE: Second Muse show at MSG added April 16th; tickets on sale now here.]

Monday, October 08, 2012

Now Streaming: New CDs from Jason Lytle, Martha Wainwright, & More

New albums by Martha Wainwright and Jason Lytle headline the lineup of releases streaming online this week. [UPDATE, Oct. 9th: albums streams by Ben Gibbard, Trey Anastasio, and more added below.] Wainwright is part of the famous musical family that includes Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle (her parents) and Rufus Wainwright (her brother), but to me Martha is the most enjoyable to listen to. Her new album, "Come Home to Mama," comes out Oct. 16th.

Jason Lytle, the former frontman of Grandaddy, has recorded with a number of musicians since ending that group, including forming Admiral Radley with members of Earlimart. Now he's back with a new solo album, "Dept. of Disappearance," also drops on the 16th.

Also new this week are albums by Mark Mallman and Meshell Ndegeocello (covering songs associated with Nina Simone), and second chances to hear the latest from Freelance Whales, Metz, and Lord Huron.

As always, albums are up for preview for about a week, and the selections shown below are a sampling of what's available, so check out the sites below for more streaming albums.

NPR First Listen:
"Come Home to Mama" by Martha Wainwright
"Dept. of Disappearance" by Jason Lytle
"REWORK: Philip Glass Remixed" by various artists (including Dan Deacon, Beck, and Memory Tapes)

YouTube Premiere:
"Former Lives" by Ben Gibbard (below)

Rolling Stone Album Premiere:
"Traveler" by Trey Anastasio
"The Afterman: Ascension" by Coheed & Cambria

"Sargent House" by Chelsea Wolfe's Listening Party:
"Diluvia" by Freelance Whales
"Lonesome Dreams" by Lord Huron
"Electrospective (The Remix Album)" by various artists (including Talk Talk, the Human League, and Daft Punk)
"Metz" by Metz
"Pour une Ame Souveraine: A Dedication to Nina Simone" by Meshell Ndegeocello
"Preachers" by My Jerusalem
"Blue Swan Orchestra" by Goldenboy (reissue)
"Double Silhouette" by Mark Mallman
"Old Time Machine" by Old Time Machine
"Cokefloat!" by PAWS

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Music Notes: Adele's "Skyfall" Drops, Peter Buck Releases Solo Album, Titus Andronicus Tours, & More

There are random music notes from all over this week, from James Bond to Peter Buck to a mandolin player who's now half a million dollars richer. Read on...

* Adele's "Skyfall," the theme from the forthcoming James Bond movie of the same name, was released today. You can see the official video (with lyrics) below, and buy the single here at iTunes. It's a good tune, and a fitting theme song for a Bond movie. "Skyfall" opens in the U.S. on Nov. 9th.

* Titus Andronicus has released tour dates to support its third album, "Local Business," which drops Oct. 22nd. The band will play Maxwell's in Hoboken on December 1st, and the next night at Webster Hall in NYC.

* The first solo album by Peter Buck, R.E.M.'s guitarist for its entire history, comes out Oct. 5th. The self-titled album features vocals by "R.E.M. bandmate Mike Mills, friend/collaborator Scott McCaughey, Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker, The Decemberists’ Jenny Conlee, Lenny Kaye, and Bill Rieflin," according to Consequence of Sound (which has a previously released single from the album). Read Buck's post about the album on R.E.M.'s website. Note: though the album will be released Oct. 5th, Buck says it will be available at first only on a vinyl pressing of 2,000 copies.

* And finally, big congratulations are due to singer/songwriter/mandolin player Chris Thile, who this week was named one of the winners of the MacArthur Foundation grants. The former member of Nickel Creek, who is currently in the Punch Brothers, will get $500,000 dollars over a period of a few years to spend however he wishes.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Now Streaming: New CDs from the Mountain Goats, Freelance Whales, Matt & Kim, & More

There's not a huge selection of new albums streaming online this week, but the quality of the offerings more than makes up for the lack of quantity. There are new albums from indie artists such as Freelance Whales, Tame Impala, and Lord Huron—and those are just the ones NPR Music is offering. (Speaking of NPR Music, they're live streaming Wednesday's Tori Amos concert in New York.)

"Sycamore Trees" from Sarah Fimm's new EP.
Elsewhere, Spinner has the new releases from other much-loved indie musicians, including Mountain Goats, The Vaccines, Matt and Kim, and Tristan Prettyman, as well as those ageless rockers Heart (I posted the video for their new song "Rock Deep (Vancouver)" last week). I'm also looking forward to listening to Lindi Ortega, an artist I hadn't heard of until a couple of weeks ago, when she won the "shadow Polaris Prize" poll by readers of North by East West, a group blog covering Canadian music and arts.

AOL Music has the latest release from longtime favorites Drivin N Cryin, as well as a five-song EP from the singer-songwriter known as Sarah Fimm, who I'd previously heard of through the now-defunct CD Baby podcasts (she's got more than half a dozen albums that are available through CD Baby and other outlets).

And The New Yorker (yes, The New Yorker) even has an album preview this week. It's streaming the debut collection from the Canadian band Metz and featuring a Q&A with the band by Sasha Frere-Jones.

It's a solid lineup this week, fire up your speakers and enjoy.

[Update: CBC is now streaming A.C. Newman's new album, below.]

NPR First Listen:
"Lonerism" by Tame Impala
"Diluvia" by Freelance Whales
"Lonesome Dreams" by Lord Huron

CBC Music:
"Shut Down the Streets" by A.C. Newman

The New Yorker: 
"Metz" by Metz's Listening Party:
"Come of Age" by The Vaccines
"Lightning" by Matt and Kim
"Transcendental Youth" by the Mountain Goats
"Cedar + Gold" by Tristan Prettyman
"Cigarettes & Truck Stops" by Lindi Ortega
"Boredom and Joy" by Jets Overhead
"Fanatic" by Heart

AOL Music Listening Party:
"Vacilador" by The Giving Tree Band
"Songs About Fast Cars, Space and Ramones" by Drivin N Cryin
"Insignificant Fire" by James Arlowe & the Ruffian Circus
"Barn Sessions" EP by Sarah Fimm
"One Year of Songs" by Heather Mae