By

Tonight’s Concert Picks: Small Black at Morgan’s Pier, Mark Mulcahy at Johnny Brenda’s

small blackBrooklyn-based indie-rock outfit Small Black are what most people nowadays are referring to as “chillwave.” A somewhat self-explanatory genre, it falls somewhere between contemporary dream-pop and classic shoegaze, relying heavily on filtered vocals and ambient effects. And even though the New York quartet might not like to label themselves as such, they certainly do seem to fit the description nicely, adding danceable beats and racing tempos to the mix. Catch them at Morgans Pier tonight, for a free, 21+ show. Their latest album, Limits of Desire, is now out on Jagjaguwar. Check out the video for the song “No Stranger”, off that release, below, and find info for their Morgans Pier show here.

Continue reading →

By

Small Black gets all Missed Connections in their “No Stranger” video (playing a free show at Morgan’s Pier on 6/26)

small black

In the rambunctious new video for Small Black‘s “No Stranger,” a glance shared by two strangers on a train sparks a fantasy that has the pair partaking in some “wanton destruction and debauchery” after road-tripping to a lake. It might remind you of this Rhye video…almost shot-for-shot at some points (a pastoral car ride, a concluding bonfire). The narrative this time tells a classic case of missed connections fit for a Craigslist post – an immediate attraction, the lack of time to act on it followed by the indulgent wondering of “what if.”

“No Stranger” comes from the Brooklyn electronic dream pop outfit’s sophomore record Limits of Desire LP, recently released through Jagjaguwar.  Small Black will play a free show at Morgan’s Pier with Heavenly Beat on June 26th.  More information can be found here.

By

10 bands we loved at SXSW

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds | Photo by John Vettese
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds | Photo by John Vettese

Last week at the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, Texas, The Key editor, John Vettese, and I saw a collective 58 bands in 3 days. Here are ten that stood out:

Sir Sly – This five piece from Los Angeles have a confident and charismatic front man, grooves and hooks galore.

Little Green Cars – Dublin’s Little Green Cars charmed us with their gorgeous harmonies and finely honed control of rock and roll dynamics. Lead singers Stevie Appleby and Faye O’Rourke are like the Buckingham/Nicks of Ireland.

PAWS – This three piece from Glasgow play very catchy, garagey, fuzzy, guitar driven pop-rock. Just the way we like it.

Nick Cave kicked off NPR Music’s SXSW shows on Wednesday night at Stubb’s with full force. He plays tonight at the Keswick. Continue reading →

By

SXSW Dispatch: A whirlwind night out, pt. 1 (Night Beds, Paws, Tegan and Sara, more)

Paws | Photo by John Vettese
Paws | Photo by John Vettese

Here’s something you don’t always hear about South by Southwest – it’s unnatural. Like, the amount of live music concentrated in a relatively contained space for its four days and change would engulf even the peak of the aughties New York scene. It’s beyond saturated; the Philly showcase at Club 1808, for example, was one of three simultaneous shows at the venue. Off of the back porch, a grindcore lineup was raging away, while a third stage was getting started in the back of their back lawn (with a BBQ in the middle, of course). “This is Austin, we have to use every square foot of space for music,” the sound engineer joked to me. “There’s a killer lineup going on in my bathroom right now.”

Cheekiness aside, and sensory overload aside, it makes for some unusual, unexpected and oddly enjoyable juxtapositions of music that you might not experience elsewhere. Here’s a quick rundown of a whirlwind night out, following the path I traced on Thursday the 14th.

8:10 p.m., St. David’s Bethel Hall – Harry Taussig opens the Tompkins Square showcase

Harry Taussig | Photo by John Vettese
Harry Taussig | Photo by John Vettese

In a church hall with serene acoustics, Harry Taussig - a self-taught folk guitarist whose 1965 LP Fate Is Only Once is a cult favorite record among new primitive guitar aficionados – gave his first-ever public performance, alternating between banjo, twelve-string acoustic, lap steel and warm and convivial storytelling. This kicked off the showcase from Tompkins Square Records, for whom Taussig released his first record in 47 years. “It’s a wonderful thing when what’s inside a guitar can surprise you,” he told the crowd. Continue reading →

By

Tonight: Rock with The Geator or Rock with Dave P of Making Time RADio

Yesterday we made some suggestions for your weekend entertainment options here. There’s a couple events happening tonight that we want to draw your attention to.

On one hand, you’ve got a show that will be a blast to the past to the “yon teens” (as coined by Jerry “The Geator” Blavat”) with the man and the legend himself. Jerry Blavat’s Sounds Spectacular Reunion is in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center featuring those fabulous sounds of yesteryear with Darlene Love, Kenny Vance and The Planotones, The Duprees, Freda Payne, and a special tribute to Tony Williams with The Platters. Showtime is 8PM. Ticket prices here

On the other side of town is Making Time with performances from the Parisian band La Femme and Brooklyn hipster chillwavers Small Black. All of your favorite MT Corp. DJ’s will be on hand including Dave P, Sammy Slice, Mike Z & Dave Pak, Adam Sparkles, the Broadzilla DJ’s, the Rock Tits crew and a special performance from Philly’s Far-Out Fangtooth. It’s all at Voyeur 1221 St. James St. Tickets to the 21+ event are $10.00

By

Concert Review: No Age, Small Black, and Grandchildren at First Unitarian Church

Grandchildren
Grandchildren

When it came to Monday night’s concert lineup, the general consensus was that there were too many good shows to choose from. Pissed Jeans at The Ox, Holy F–k and Indian Jewelry at Johnny Brenda’s, and No Age, Small Black, and Grandchildren at First Unitarian Church. Of course, that’s a good problem to have (and better than the alternative). So we tried not to sweat the decision too much, and felt very little remorse over skipping out on the first two options in favor of the last one.

If you haven’t seen Granchildren‘s name plastered all over the Internet by now, get ready for it. The local sextet’s much-anticipated debut album, Everlasting, will be released by Green Owl on September 28th, and we fully expect it to earn a spot on most “Top 10 Local Albums Of 2010″ lists—if not more lofty accolades. (Look for our interview and record review prior to the band’s record-release show Friday, October 8th, at Johnny Brenda’s; meanwhile, you can listen to a streaming version here.) Monday night, everything about Grandchildren’s onstage setup screamed “art rock”: the all-white outfits, the two drum kits (OK, more like one and a half), the montage of colorful images projected onto the band members, the musical-chairs-esque switching of instruments in between (and occasionally during) songs. If you’re the kind of person that immediately dismisses those things as pretentious, you probably wouldn’t be as impressed as we were by the band’s set of rhythm-oriented experimental rock, which was accentuated by numerous vocal harmonies and nimble acoustic guitar work. A break toward the end of the set would have served as the perfect stopping point for an opening performance; instead, it was a slightly awkward pause before the band launched into two more songs, that—in addition to feeling tacked on—spread Grandchildren’s bag of tricks a little too thin. But, if our only gripe with the band’s performance is that it was too much of a good thing, we can live with that.

How much reverb can one band’s vocals, synthesizers, and glitchy electronics be drenched in before the audience gets lost in a giant cavernous mess, with nothing left to cling to other than the throbbing beat of an electronic kick drum? Brooklyn quartet Small Black seems determined to find out. Once you get past the unfortunate “chillwave” label that lo-fi electronic acts such as Small Black have been saddled with (then again, how else would you describe the music—”nu-new-wave?”), anyone who cares to look will discover plenty of admirable moments and small flourishes on the band’s upcoming full-length, New Chain (to be released by Jagjaguwar on October 26th). Too bad that, during Monday night’s live performance, it was impossible to cut a swath through the echoing din of electronic instruments.

No Age
No Age

L.A. noise-rock duo No Age has been been called many things by an adoring press: one of the biggest names associated with the scene surrounding L.A.’s all-ages, DIY venue The Smell, spiritual successors to bands such Mission Of Burma, and a pair of absolute road warriors who are constantly on tour. However, it still catches us a little off-guard when bands that are often lauded for their experimental tendencies simultaneously serve as the perfect soundtrack to a mosh pit. But there it was, right in front of the stage at First Unitarian Church, as guitarist Randy Randall and drummer Dean Allen Spunt (who were occasionally accompanied by knob-twiddler/noise-producer Facundo Bermudez) plowed their way through a set of riff-heavy, ear-splitting rock primarily off the band’s upcoming Sub Pop album, Everything In Between. Moshing and crowd surfing at No Age shows aren’t anything new, and—as far as we can tell, nobody in or around the pit hurt themselves too much (with the possible except of one younger guy in a red-and-white striped t-shirt, who took what appeared to be a pretty rough tumble)—so, you know, whatever works for you. What we really want to know is—in addition to seeing what we imagine was the best show out of the night’s big trio of options—did we also get the best mosh pit of the night?