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February 23, 2015

Benjamin Clementine

UK singer Benjamin Clementine debuted in 2013 with the Cornerstone EP, and he's steadily been picking up a good amount of hype (especially on his side of the pond). A Guardian article mentions he got Paul McCartney's approval after his Jools Holland performance, was the most shared artist on Spotify the following week, and got a major label deal (Virgin EMI) shortly after that. Earlier this month, he picked up French award Victoires de la Musique for best new artist.

His debut album, At Least For Now, came out earlier this year, and it's beginning to garner some pretty positive reviews (like this one from The Quietus). The general consensus is that he sounds like a male Nina Simone, which is pretty spot on to us. You can check out the videos for two of his tracks, "Condolence" and "Cornerstone," below.

Clementine has a ton of European tour dates coming up, and he'll make his US debut on April 29 at BRIC House Ballroom in NYC. Tickets are on sale now.

All dates are listed, with those two videos, below...

Continue reading "Benjamin Clementine released his debut LP, making US debut"

by Bill Pearis

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UK upstarts Spring King have a new EP, They're Coming After You, which is out April 20 via UK label Handsome Dad. It'll be out in the US sooner, as a digital single on Feb 24 via Mom + Pop imprint Mermaid Avenue. We've got the premiere of rocking lead single "City" which is a real corker. (If you like Wavves and Twin Peaks style of poppy indie rock, you'll probably like this.) You can stream it, and check out the EP's cover art, below.

Spring King will be visiting the US for SXSW this year, so if you're going to that keep an eye out. Unfortunately they aren't playing any shows outside of Austin. (Maybe you caught them at CMJ last year in NYC.) Right after SXSW they'll be touring the UK with Courtney Barnett. All dates are listed below...

Continue reading "Spring King releasing new EP (listen to a song), playing SXSW before UK tour dates with Courtney Barnett"

by Andrew Sacher

Belle Mare

Brooklyn duo Belle Mare (aka Amelia Bushell and Thomas Servidone) released their home-recorded debut EP, The Boat of the Fragile Mind, in late 2012, and they've now recently finished up studio time at Electric Lady working on their first full length. They went in as a full band with help from drummer Rob Walbourne (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah), bassist Gary Atturio (Savoir Adore), and keyboardist Tara Rook, along with producers Tom Elmhirst and Ben Baptie, who worked together on U2's Songs of Innocence, Beck's Morning Phase, Arcade Fire's Reflektor and more. The album is expected sometime this fall, but meanwhile they're first releasing "Cicada" as a single. With the song's loungey atmospheric vibes, falsetto vocals, and the final crashing crescendo, it sounds like they probably take more than a little influence from Radiohead and Sigur Ros, but they're thankfully not just copying those bands. Check it out for yourself, it makes its premiere below.

The band have three hometown dates coming up: Friday (2/27) at Knitting Factory with PROM and Ponyhof (tickets), March 22 at Cameo, and April 7 at Manhattan Inn.

Continue reading "Belle Mare planning LP, playing shows (stream the new single)"

photo: Trans Am @ Baby's All Right, 2014 (more by Amanda Hatfield)
Trans Am

Long-running DC-area trio Trans Am released their aptly-titled tenth full length Volume X last year, finding them still in the post-rock groove. You can check out the video for album-opener "Anthropocene," below.

The band, who were last in NYC with Deerhoof last year, have a string of East Coast dates coming up, where they'll work their way down to Phuzz Fest in North Carolina. The tour brings Trans Am to NYC on April 16 at Baby's All Right. Tickets for that show aren't on sale yet, but should be soon via TicketFly.

All Trans Am tour dates are listed, along with the "Anthropocene" video, below...

Continue reading "Trans Am touring in April, playing Baby's (dates)"

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A six second drum break from The Winstons' "Amen, Brother" (the b-side to their 1969 hit "Color Him Father") is arguably the most famous "break" ever. The "Amen Break" has been sampled on countless hip hop records (famously on NWA's "Straight Outa Compton") and, sped up and chopped up, basically became the backbone of every jungle/drum and bass record ever. If you're still scratching your head, or are just curious to know more, Nate Harrison's terrific 2004 short documentary on the "amen break" is required viewing. Watch it below.

Despite the sample's place in the pop culture lexicon, neither Winstrons drummer G. C. Coleman (who died in 2006), nor frontman Richard L. Spencer (who wrote and arranged the song and owns the copyright) have ever received royalties for the sample. (The Statute of limitations has run out to pursue it legally now.) However, a UK DJ has started a crowdfunding campaign to give money to Richard Spencer and Coleman's family:

if you have ever written or sold any music with the amen break, or even just enjoyed one of the countless hundreds and hundreds of tunes that contain it over various genres and styles of music, please donate towards the good cause of the worldwide music community giving something back to the man behind the legendary breakbeat.
The campaign began five days ago with hopes of raising £1,000 and it's already had £11,000 pledged.

Check out the documentary and a few famous uses of the "amen break," below...

Continue reading "'Amen Break' creators to receive compensation via crowdfund campaign + watch a documentary about the famed breakbeat"

by Klaus Kinski

photo: Helmet at Bowery Ballroom, night 1 (more by Mathieau Bredeau)
Helmet

New York City alt-metal behemoths Helmet wrapped up their run of three NYC shows on their ongoing tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of their seminal third album "Betty". We already posted pictures of night 1, and here's our review of night 2 -- Saturday (2/21) at Bowery Ballroom -- an unbelievable two and a half hours of bowel-loosening heviosity that had the packed, sold-out crowd in a pushy-shovey, high-fivey, singin' along frenzy.

Singer-guitarist Page Hamilton is the only original member of this band who has had a number of personnel changes since their inception in NYC in 1989. There are legions of insufferable Helmet line-up purists who will no doubt take to the comments section any second now to remind the world that, without drummer John Stanier, the current iteration of Helmet is impure. As much as I agree that Stanier is a solid drummer, to poo-poo this band and this tour because there is no Stanier is a little unfair. Current Helmet drummer Kyle Stevenson absolutely crushed it Saturday night. Not only is he a fantastic drummer, but he completely understands the music of Helmet and knows how to do it right. He was simply incredible. Guitarist Dan Beeman and bassist Dave Case completed a rhythm section that was tighter and more crushing than Helmet has sounded in years; you could shake a house off of its foundation with Case's bass tone.

Mercifully, there were no openers for this show and the band got right to it at 9:15pm on the nose with a spotless performance of the album "Betty" in full. In my opinion, Saturday night's performance of "Betty" sounded better than the album ever did. It was so much heavier, more violent and more scorching. I always liked "Betty," but ever since I first heard it in 1994 I always thought it was a little anemic. The skeleton for heaviness was always there, but I always felt that the potential for heaviness never fully gestated. Saturday night, though, tracks like "Wilma's Rainbow," "Biscuits for Smut," "Rollo," and "Speechless" simply ground my eardrums to a watery pulp. There was a physical component to the loudness and heaviness that you could feel in the pit of your stomach, and it never relented.

After "Betty", Helmet performed a 10-song second set of greatest hits that included "(High) Visibility," "Role Model," "FBLA II," "Unsung" and more. It was a really solid selection of tunes that spanned their entire career and it really kept the apeshit momentum of the show going strong. This second set was followed by a three song encore featuring "Sinatra," "Repetition," which was an audience request, and finally "In The Meantime." I don't get out to shows as much as I used to, but this Helmet show was hands down one of the most satisfying show-going experiences in recent memory. Helmet's level of performance is better than ever and NYC was so lucky to have three opportunities to see these masters of heaviness. If you missed this show because you're hung-up on the current line-up, I pity you. Aside from the hot fart smells that seemed almost inescapable no matter where I was standing, this was Helmet in peak form.

Night 1 pics here. Night 2 setlist and a video below...

Continue reading "Helmet wrapped up their 3-show NYC run (review, setlist and video from night 2 at Bowery Ballroom)"

photo: Repulsion @ Warsaw, 2012 (more by Greg Cristman)

The band was ahead of its time -- they were pushing thrash and punk into limits that would become the blueprints for grindcore music. Of course, there wasn't "grindcore" when Repulsion were first around. They were just playing metal much faster, nastier, and louder than their peers. The bands they've influenced are too numerous to list -- hell, Black Breath took their name from a Repulsion song. When Horrified, their first and most revered demo, was finally released in 1989 through Carcass' Necrosis Records, the band had already broken up. Since reuniting in the early aughts, with Marissa Martinez and Col Jones of Cretin joining original members Scott Carlson and Matt Olivo, they've played some well-received reunion gigs. Repulsion was even recently used in a study on music in the workplace! Sometimes, the second act of your life can be the best. And with a record as classic as Horrified? Repulsion deserves it. - [BV, 2012]
Michigan grindcore greats Repulsion, who last played NYC in 2012 for Power of the Riff, will be back for a show at Saint Vitus on April 26. Tickets are on sale now. It's their only announced date at the moment.

photo: Black Milk at Webster Hall in 2011 (more by Andrew St. Clair)
Black Milk

Detroit rapper Black Milk dropped his fifth full-length If There's A Hell Below last fall, about a week after he and his live band Nat Turner toured their way to NYC. Now that you've had time to familiarize yourself with the new LP, Black Milk and Nat Turner will hit the road again this spring. The tour stops here in NYC at The Studio at Webster Hall on June 18 with support from MAHD. Tickets for that show are on sale now.

All of Black Milk's upcoming dates along with the video for If There's A Hell Below cut "What It's Worth" below...

Continue reading "Black Milk announces 2015 tour (dates)"

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Tel Aviv shoegaze trio Vaadat Charagim will release their new album, Sinking As A Stone, on May 5 via Burger. You can stream the hazy first single, "Ein Li Makom" below.

The band are coming to North America in May to play Austin's Levitation (fka Austin Psych Fest) and will tour after, with their final date at Brooklyn's Baby's All Right on May 22. Tickets for that show will be available soon.

All Vaadat Charigim dates are listed below...

Continue reading "Vaadat Charigim releasing new album, touring after Austin Levitation fest (dates, new song stream)"

by Andrew Sacher

Black Sheep Wall

LA's Black Sheep Wall released their third album and followup to 2012's No Matter Where It Ends, this past January. Like that album, it came out on Season of Mist (also home to Kylesa, Floor and many others), and before you even listen, there's a few things that are bound to catch your attention. First of all, the album's called I'm Going To Kill Myself, and as you can see in that ridiculous artwork above, the text is written in a speech bubble attributed to a friendly-looking purple fellow with his arm around his smiling green friend. It's a scene that looks straight out of a (slightly psychedelic) children's picture book. It's also only four songs long, with each track passing the 9-minute mark and the final track being a 33-minute song titled "Metallica." With a presentation like that it's hard not to listen, even just out of sheer curiosity. And fortunately, listening to this album proves to be very rewarding.

The album is also noticeably different than anything they've done before. After two albums of pure sludge metal, they began bringing in elements from outside of the genre on 2013's It Begins Again EP, and I'm Going To Kill Myself is the farthest they've come from their roots yet. Part of this is because vocalist Trae Mallone (who has departed the band twice before) amicably parted ways with them once again, and bassist Brandon Gillickbauer took over lead vocal duties for the new LP. (Trae half-jokingly got back at the band by releasing one of the new singles with his own vocals the same day theirs came out.) The album's most drastic change is the opening (and probably best) track, "The Wailing and the Gnashing And the Teeth," where Justin adopts the melodic hardcore style of bands like Modern Life Is War and The Hope Conspiracy, and shouts over the kind of progressive post-hardcore you'd sooner expect from a Circle Takes the Square album than a sludge metal band.

The doomier tempos come back on second track "Tetsuo: The Dead Man," though it's still a clear progression from their earlier work. And while third song "White Pig" more closely mirrors their first two albums, post-rock atmospheres and gothed-out clean vocals come in about halfway through to take it into new territory. Finally, it's the 33-minute closer "Metallica," a massive trek through dissonant sludge that ends with the album title shouted repeatedly.

The band only have two California dates coming up at the moment, but hopefully they'll make it over to the East Coast soon too. Meanwhile, stream the new album below...

Continue reading "Black Sheep Wall released 'I'm Going To Kill Myself,' including a 33-minute song called "Metallica" (listen)"