Entries tagged with: NYC Popfest

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photos by Aehee Kang Asano; words by Bill Pearis

My Favorite / Martha / Spearmint @ NYC Popfest 2014
NYC Popfest 2014
NYC Popfest 2014
NYC Popfest 2014

The 2014 edition of NYC Popfest happened last weekend with five shows across four days and over 30 bands from around the world. I made it to every show except the Saturday (5/31) afternoon show at Spike Hill and saw a lot of great stuff. Pictures from all four evening shows are in this post. Highlights:

UK band Martha (Cake Shop, 5/29) who traded vocals between three members, played their hearts out and delivered scrappy pop hit after pop hit; a one-off reunion of NYC high-drama act My Favorite (Knitting Factory, 5/30);  Spearmint (Cameo, 5/31), playing their first-ever US show and working the crowd like a piece of pastry dough and playing every song I wanted to hear; followed immediatly by a full-band Rocketship (Cameo) who seemed quite together for being apart for many years.

The Spook School @ Littlefield (photo by Bill)
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Sunday's show (6/1) at Littlefield was probably the best day, delivering five great sets in a row:  Brooklyn's The New Lines, who would've sounded equally at home at Austin Psych Fest; Atlanta's Gold-Bears who fall somewhere between '90s college radio and '90s emo; Los Angeles band Heathers who came out in tight dresses (they were guys), threw lollipops into the crowd and covered The Wedding Present; London band Colour Me Wednesday who were about as classically indiepop as it gets and do it very well; and Glasgow's The Spook School whose set started both a pit and a stage invasion, both Popfest firsts.

Colour Me Wednesday and The Spook School were also both distinguished by very funny drummers. CMW's was more the witty friend who reacts off others, where Spook School's seemed ready with (good) material, pulling down the microphone the second a song ended and consistently kept the crowd in hysterics. Somebody get that guy his own show!

Both The Spook School and Heathers play NYC again tonight (6/6) at Matchless in Greenpoint, with Light Therapy and Lost Gloves on the bill as well. Or, you could go catch Martha at Death by Audio tonight as well, with Delay, Shellshag, and Giant Peach. Either would be a great choice. Seeing that Martha are on the DbA bill early, you could theoretically make it to see all three Popfest leftovers.

More pics from NYC Popfest below...

Continue reading "NYC Popfest 2014 in pics (Rocketship, Martha, Spook School, Heathers, Spearmint, Dressy Bessy, My Favorite & more) "

by Bill Pearis

Colour Me Wednesday
CMW

For the last few years now, the final day of NYC Popfest has been an all-day show at Littlefield in Gowanus. This year is no exception though things seem to be starting a little later than usual. This Sunday (6/1) features nine bands from all over the world including some of the most exciting (I think) of the whole fest.

Headlining are UK group The Popguns, who started amongst the C-86 scene. I wrote previously:

The Popguns' initial run lasted from 1986 - 1996 during which time they released four albums and nearly a dozen singles. They weren't on the original C86 cassette but their sound -- breathless janglepop, big choruses, catchy melodies, -- was definitely within that orbit. (Also their original drummer Shaun Charman was in The Wedding Present.) Their biggest song was probably their 1989 single, "Waiting for the Winter." The band got back together in 2012 and have been playing since.
Stream a few tracks below.

There are also a couple exciting new UK bands on the bill too. In addition to The Spook School (who we just posted about), there is also London's Colour Me Wednesday who cite early-'90s indie rock as an influence though they dabble in ska a bit too. The band's debut album, I Thought It Was Morning, came out last summer. It's a charmer and you can stream it below. If you can't make this show, they're playing Death by Audio on Saturday (5/31) with tourmates Spoonboy.

Heathers
Heathers

Also on the bill: Los Angeles trio Heathers who make buzzsaw jangle guitar pop. The band recently released an EP of Wedding Present covers which may give you an instant idea of where they're coming from, sonically, but their own songs are catchy too. Stream their most recent 7" and those Weddoes covers below.

In a similar vein are Georgia's Gold-Bears whose terrific new album, Dalliance (another Wedding Present reference perhaps), can currently be streamed at Pitchfork. They're a bundle of energy onstage and are currently on tour too (including another NYC show at Shea Stadium on 6/3).

Still more: Brooklyn band The New Lines whose crystalline sound recalls Broadcast, Stereolab and '60s cult band The United States of America. They can pull off that sound live too. Stream a few tracks from last year's Fall in Line below.

Get to Littlefield early and you'll catch Pam Berry (Black Tambourine, Glo-Worm) and Australia's Bart Cummings performing the songs they recorded together as The Shapiros, plus they'll do songs from Bart's former band The Cat's Miaow. Pam's doing a solo show earlier in the day at Trans-Pecos with Mark Monnone, Rocketship and Beverly.

Marine Life
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Even earlier: the soaring pop of San Francisco's Marine Life, and the day kicks off with Lost Tapes from Spain whose ringing guitars and hushed vocals make for a nice combo. Stream their most recent EP below.

Check out previews of Popfest Friday here and Saturday here. Song streams, videos and Sunday Popfest schedule, below...

Continue reading "NYC Popfest Sunday preview/streams (Popguns, Colour Me Wednesday, Heathers, Pam & Bart, Gold-Bears & more)"

by Bill Pearis

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It takes about eight seconds listening to The Spook School's debut album, Dress Up, to realize they're from Scotland -- they make no attempts to cover up their Edinburgh accents. It takes about 30 seconds to realize there's nothing twee about them, maybe apart from their name. Dress Up rocks, and is filled with big hooks, shouty choruses, memorable lyrics and is generally raucous fun. (If you like the Martha album, you'll probably like this too.) Stream the whole thing below.

The band are here for NYC Popfest, playing the all-day show at Littlefield on Sunday (6/1) with The Popguns, Colour Me Wednesday, Gold-Bears and more. (Tickets are still available.) They're also playing a few other East Coast dates while here, includingBrooklyn's Bar Matchless on Friday, June 6 with Lost Gloves, LA's Heathers (another Popfest band), and Light Therapy who are making their live debut at this show.

All dates are listed, plus a tour flyer and the album stream, below...

Continue reading "The Spook School released 'Dress Up,' touring around Popfest w/ two NYC shows (dates, streams)"

by Bill Pearis

Spearmint
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Day 3 of NYC Popfest (Saturday 5/31) has something for just about everyone -- including those with not a lot of extra money -- with a free day show at Spike Hill and an evening show a couple blocks away at Cameo.

The night show is headlined by California's Rocketship who haven't played anywhere in a good while. Fueled by drony organ and '60s pop melodies, their 1996 album A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness drew comparisons to Stereolab. It's a '90s indie rock classic. After that, the original line-up dissolved, and Rocketship became essentially a solo project for main man Dustin Reske, who inorporated jungle and drum n' bass into later recordings. After half a decade away, Reske returned with Here Comes...Rocketship which picked up right where he left off. For a lot of Popfest attendees, this is the weekend's main event.

Also on the bill: a band I never thought I'd get to see -- UK group Spearmint. The band formed in the mid-'90s during the Britpop boom, but owed more to the anorak-clad Sarah Records / C-86 scene. With samples and a love of Northern soul, Saint Etienne or Pulp were probably closest in spirit, and the band scored a minor hit in their home country with "Sweeping the Nation" and that and "We're Going Out" are still played at "indie disco" night. (They were actually referenced in a line of dialogue in the film (500) Days of Summer which probably went unnoticed by most viewers.) The band just released News From Nowhere, their first new record in eight years. You can stream it, along with videos of the two singles, below.

Garlands
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Also on the bill Saturday night are two bands from Sweden. The Garlands hail from Stockholm and fall on the ethereal/jangly side, a sound Scandinavians are particularly adept at. Stream their 2012 EP below. The other Swedes on the bill are duo Stars in Coma who are from Malmö. Their new album, The Confessional Sun, is harmony-laden, '70s-ish sunshine pop. It's a really nice record, and you can stream it below.

Opening the Cameo show are Madrid duo Band À Part whose sound is deep in the shag of loungey exotica. Like pizzicato strings? Check out Band À Part's most recent EP below.

Immediately the bands at Cameo is the Popfest edition of bi-monthly indiepop dance party Mondo! which should keep the party going till late.

Gingerlys
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The daytime show at Spike Hill is headlined by Melbourne, Australia's The Zebras who have been around since the mid-'00s and make no-nonsense, jangly guitar pop, made special via great songwriting and harmonies. They're set to release their third album this year and you can stream a track from that below and catch up with past releases via Rdio -- I'm partial to 2008's New Ways of Risking Our Lives EP. If you can't make the Saturday show, they play Otto's Shrunken Head on Monday (6/2) with fellow Aussies Mid-Stage Orange, Mark Monnone of The Lucksmiths, plus members of The Ladybug Transistor. That show is free too.

Right before them are Stockholm, Sweden's Don't Cry Shopgirl who probably win this year's Most Twee Name award at Popfest (and there's a fair amount of competition). As you might expect, this is featherlight pop -- even when they step lightly on the distortion pedal, the fuzz is about as menacing as sweater pilling. But they do it well, check out three tracks below.

Also playing at Spike Hill: NYC band Gingerlys who put some muscle behind their "oohs" and "ahhs." I get the feeling they are louder live than their recordings let on. The band will release a new 7" EP via Shelflife Records in July which is quite good and you can stream the whole thing below.

Opening the free afternoon show is The Arctic Flow, aka Myrtle Beach, SC resident Brian Hancheck. (Yes, people actually live in Myrtle Beach and Alabama aren't the only band based out of there.) His Sunbathing​/​Stargazing EP is really lovely stuff, with Cocteau Twins-y guitars over some very catchy, jazzy songs. You can stream that below.

Preview of Friday (5/30) Popfest bands is here, and streams/videos of all the bands playing -- as well set times for both shows -- on Saturday are below.

Continue reading "NYC Popfest 2014 Saturday preview/streams (Rocketship, Spearmint, Stars in Coma, The Zebras, Gingerlys & more)"

by Bill Pearis

My Favorite on the cover of the 'Long Island Voice' in 1998
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Night 2 of NYC Popfest happens at Knitting Factory (tickets) and is headlined by C-86 era UK band The Flatmates whose tight, hook-filled songwriting and loose, loud style -- and a career that only saw them release singles and EPs, breaking up before they managed an album -- makes them one of the quintessential '80s UK indiepop bands.

Equally as anticipated is the return of arch synthpop group My Favorite who were NYC indiepop heroes in an era (the '90s) when the city's music scene wasn't exactly the hopping hotbed of activity it is now. Informed by a youth spent listening to legendary Long Island radio station WLIR, My Favorite had the drama and humdrum town romance of The Smiths, the danceability of the Pet Shop Boys, and a touch of Bowie glamour. (In other words, they were kinda Long Island's Pulp.) The band broke up in 2005, Michael Grace went on to form The Secret History. But mention My Favorite near certain crowds and watch their eyes light up.

Also playing are UK band The Haywains who have been around for more than 25 years but, I'll admit, I was unfamiliar with until they appeared on the Popfest bill. From their Bandcamp page:

Formed in 1988, The Haywains played three-chord jangly punk-pop with bittersweet lyrics and a distinctive dual boy/girl vocal delivery. Part of the do-it-yourself 'indiepop' underground and fanzine culture that thrived around Bristol in the late 80's, the band's refreshing fun approach was characterised by singer Jeremy Hunt's jovial on-stage banter and minimal no-frills charm.
You can stream their 1991 album, Never Mind Manchester, Here's The Haywains, below.

Opening Friday's show are Melbourne, Australia's Bart & Friends which is Bart Cummings of '90s-era band The Cat's Miaow (and a few other groups too). Gathering up musical mates, including Mark Monnone of The Lucksmiths and Pam Berry of Black Tambourine, Bart & Friends' 2010 record Make You Blush was his first in nearly a decade. Both Monnone and Berry will be along for this trip. Berry and Bart will also perform at Littlefield on Sunday (6/1) as part of Popfest, performing the songs of The Cat's Miaow and The Shapiros.

If you want to keep the good times rolling, there's an afterparty at Trophy Bar from 11 PM till late, featuring The Flatmates and My Favorite's Michael Grace on DJ duty. That's free, and the flyer is below.

Speaking of Monnone, he's playing a few shows while here in the States, including two in NYC: the previously-mentioned early afternoon show at Trans Pecos on Sunday (6/1) with Pam Berry, Rocketship, and Beverly. Unfortunately, this show overlaps a bit with Popfest's all-day show at Littlefield (and features almost entirely Popfest bands), but most the Trans Pecos show -- including all Popfest performers -- is scheduled to happen before Littlefield's starts.

Then he plays again at Otto's Shrunken Head on Monday (6/2) which is being billed as "Aussie Hangover Fest" and also features Bart & Friends, The Zebras (who play Spike Hill as part of Popfest on Saturday afternoon), Mid-Stage Orange, and members of The Ladybug Transistor. That's a free show and the flyer's below.

More 2014 NYC Popfest previews (Saturday and Sunday) to come. Streams, videos and flyers below...

Continue reading "NYC Popfest 2014 Friday preview / streams (The Flatmates, My Favorite, Haywains, Bart & Friends) ++ unofficial shows"

by Bill Pearis

Dressy Bessy
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It's time for NYC Popfest, the annual four-day celebration of all things jangly, often cute, usually well-dressed and, ocasionally, twee. Over 30 bands are playing this year and I'll be covering all of it day by day. Here's a look at tonight's kickoff show (5/29) which, as usual, happens at Cake Shop. Advance tickets are still availble (and should be at the door too)

Headlining is Dressy Bessy who have been around since the '90s heyday of Elephant 6 (guitarist John Hill is also in Apples in Stereo). Fronted by Tammy Ealon, the band make crunchy powerpop that never gets too sweet. You may remember their cover of The Free Design's "Bubbles" from The Powerpuff Girls. While the band hasn't made an album since 2008's Holler & Stomp, Ealon reactivated the band in 2012, releasing a few digital singles and a best-of compilation cassette via Burger.

Making for a nice leadup will be undercard The Besties who were an '00s-era mainstay here in NYC and played the 2008 edition of Popfest. The band broke up the next year, but are back together for at least this show. Other news: The Besties' final bow, 2008's Home Free, is getting it's first-ever vinyl release.

Martha
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Filling the UK quotient for the night is "vegan straight-edge pop group" Martha who just this week (5/26) released their new album, Courting Strong, which is out on Fortuna Pop (Joanna Gruesome, Shrag) in the UK, and Salinas (Swearin', Radiator Hospital) in North America. The record was produced by MJ of Hookworms and is ten songs of hooky, punky guitar pop and you can stream the whole thing below. Martha's Popfest appearance is part of a full North American tour -- most shows with Salinas labelmates Delay.

Also playing the Cake Shop show: Charleston, SC's Tape Waves whose airy jangle is sort of like a female fronted Real Estate at their most-straightforward (check out new single "Stay All Night" below); and NYC-via-the-Dominican-Republic's Franny and Zooey who swiped their name from Salinger and their sound from '60s pop radio (stream last year's Bananafish EP below).

In between sets, Kip from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart will DJ. UPDATE: Kip had to cancel last minute, as Pains are flying out on tour.

Previews of Friday, Saturday and Sunday's NYC Popfest action are still to come. Meanwhile, check out streams from all five of Thursday's Popfest bands below...

Continue reading "NYC Popfest 2014 Thursday preview / streams (Dressy Bessy, The Besties, Martha, and Franny & Zooey) "

by Bill Pearis

The Popguns back in the day...
popguns

Some good news / bad news from the NYC Popfest folks. The bad news is that Canada's The Hidden Cameras have had to drop off the lineup. That's the second time they've canceled a NYC show this year. On the plus side, long-running UK band The Popguns have been added to the line-up of the all-day 2014 Popfest finale at Littlefield on June 1 that also features Colour Me Wednesday, The New Lines, Gold-Bears, The Spook School and more.

The Popguns' initial run lasted from 1986 - 1996 during which time they released four albums and nearly a dozen singles. They weren't on the original C86 cassette but their sound -- breathless janglepop, big choruses, catchy melodies, -- was definitely within that orbit. (Also their original drummer Shaun Charman was in The Wedding Present.) Their biggest song was probably their 1989 single, "Waiting for the Winter." The band got back together in 2012 and have been playing since. You can check out a few videos and streams below.

Tickets and festival passes for NYC Popfest are still available. Since we last posted, NYC Popfest has revealed their day-by-day schedules and you can check that out below.

Continue reading "NYC Popfest update: Hidden Cameras drop off lineup but The Popguns added ++ daily schedule"

by Bill Pearis

Gold-Bears

Atlanta band Gold-Bears will be back with their second album, Dalliance, on June 3 via Slumberland. With big catchy choruses, the band's rowdy indiepop fits nicely alongside Superchunk or The Wedding Present (who have a song called "Dalliance," that they are probably familiar with). You can stream first single "For You" below.

Gold-Bears are also touring this year. As mentioned, they play the 2014 edition of NYC Popfest (their second visit), where they'll be part of the all-day Sunday show at Littlefield on June 1 that also features The Hidden Cameras, The Spook School, Colour Me Wednesday, Heathers, Pam & Bart, and Marine Life. Tickets to that are on sale, as are four-day Popfest passes. Gold-Bears will also play Bushwick's Shea Stadium on June 3 with the rest of the line up TBA.

All dates are listed, along with the new song stream, below...

Continue reading "Gold-Bears ready second LP for Slumberland (stream a track), playing Shea Stadium after NYC Popfest ++ other dates "

by Bill Pearis

The Flatmates back in the day...
flatmates

NYC Popfest returns for its eighth year from May 29 - June 1 across venues in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The line-up was just announced and, as usual, it's a mix of new and classic bands. Of the established bands, this year's line-up includes Canadians The Hidden Cameras, '80s-era UK bands The Flatmates and The Haywains, '90s/'00s band Spearmint, '90s Slumberland band Rocketship, a reunion for NYC indiepop vets My Favorite, and The Besties. New groups on the scene include Sweden's The Garlands and Don't Cry Shopgirl, UK acts Spook School and Martha, Spanish band Lost Tapes, Australian quartet The Zebras, NYC's The New Lines and more. If you're unfamiliar with some of these groups, the Popfest folks made a Spotify playlist featuring this year's line-up.

Four-day passes are on sale now. in the meantime, the full 2014 NYC Popfest lineup is listed, along with videos and streams of some of this year's acts, below...

Continue reading "NYC Popfest announces 2014 line-up: Hidden Cameras, My Favorite, The Flatmates, Spearmint, Rocketship & more"

by Bill Pearis

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NYC synthpop band The Ballet have been hibernating the last few years, rarely playing live and no recorded material since 2009's terrific Bear Life. The band are finally getting around to doing something again, having signed with Fortuna Pop who will release The Ballet's new album, I Blame Society, on June 10. You can check out the video for "Is Anyone Out There?" below. It's a little less overtly Magnetic Fields-y than we've maybe heard before, but it's definitely whetting my appetite for the album.

The Ballet were always good live -- they played an BV show in 2006 -- and you can see their first NYC gig in ages on Saturday (6/1) afternoon at Spike Hill, which is part of NYC Popfest and is free. It also features Vermont's charming The Smittens, Norwegian band Making Marks and Austin's Silkies.

Set times for the Spike Hill show, plus The Ballet video and streams from the other bands playing below...

Continue reading "The Ballet ready new LP, playing free NYC Popfest show"

photos by Tim Griffin

The Bats @ Red 7 - 5/30/2013
The Bats @ Red 7 - 5/30/2013

As mentioned, New Zealand indie legends The Bats are on their first North American tour since 2006 which stopped in Austin last night (5/30) to play Chaos in Tejas. With the same line-up the band began with in 1982 -- Robert Scott, Paul Keane, Kaye Woodward and Malcolm Grant -- the band knocked out a 17-song set that included such Flying Nun classics as "Boogey Man" and "Block of Wood." Pictures from their Chaos set are in this post and for more coverage of that fest head to BV Austin.

The band will be in NYC on Saturday (6/1) for NYC Popfest, playing at The Bell House and tickets are still available. In addition to The Bats (reason enough to go), the night features four UK bands -- scrappy and clever Tigercats, the previously profiled Flowers, shoegazy The Hobbes Fanclub, and the shimmering sounds of The Proctors. The night begins with Sweden's dreamy, synthy Azure Blue. You can listen to streams of all those bands below.

Set times for Saturday night's NYC Popfest show at The Bell House and more pictures from The Bats at Chaos in Tejas below...

Continue reading "The Bats played Chaos in Tejas (pics), play NYC Popfest this weekend with Tigercats, Flowers & more"

by Bill Pearis

Math & Physics Club
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NYC Popfest 2013 is in full swing, with a host of Friday (5/31) goings-on. This afternoon at 5 PM at Williamsburg bar/videostore/screening room Videology, there is a free showing of K Records documentary The Shield Around the K with a post-screening Q&A with director Heather Rose Dominic.

After that, a few blocks away at Knitting Factory will be tonight's showcase featuring headliners The Monochrome Set who are playing their first NYC shows in 30 years this week. Truly one of most underrated bands of the postpunk era, their legacy can be felt in Belle & Sebastian, Franz Ferdinand and more. The band, which features original members Bid and Lester Square as well as longtime bassist Andy Warren (who was an original member of Adam & the Ants), sounded great on Monday at Bowery Electric and they're promising to mix up the setlist too. Not to be missed. Tickets are still available.

The rest of the line-up at Knit is strong too. Seattle's bookish Math & Physics Club haven't played here in ages and their 2010 LP, I Shouldn't Look as Good as I Do, is a great example of the group's gentle, acoustic-y jangle. You can stream it at Spotify. Their singer was suffering from a bout of laryngitis last night, apparently, so hopefully he's spending today sleeping and drinking Throat Coat tea.

Casolette
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There's also Florida's Cassolette who make breathless, buzzy pop (stream some songs below); and Boise, Idaho's The Very Most who bring a welcome touch of glitchiness (and minor chords) to the proceedings.

After the Knitting Factory show, you can head over to The Loft above Public Assembly (70 N. 6th St) at midnight for an afterparty featuring the folks behind Los Angeles' Hungry Beat indiepop party. The School, who played last night, will DJ too. That goes from midnight to 4 AM and is free and open to the public.

Flyer for the afterparty, set times for Knitting Factory and videos/stream, below...

Continue reading "NYC Popfest Friday preview: 'The Shield Around the K," Monchrome Set, Math & Physics Club, afterparty and more"

by Bill Pearis

DOWLOAD: 2013 NYC Popfest Mix (Zip)

The School
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The 2013 edition of NYC Popfest kicks off tonight (5/30), as it always does, at Cake Shop with a six-band bill spanning two continents and four countries. Tickets are still available and should be available at the door if you get their early enough.

The evening is headlined by Cardif, Wales' The School who make the kind of sunny, '60s-ish guitar pop that's favored by Camera Obscura and Belle & Sebastian. The band's 2012 album, Reading Too Much Into Things Like Everything, is an enjoyable listen, especially if you like this sort of stuff. And if you've read this far you probably do. You can stream it via Rdio and Spotify and watch a couple videos below. The School are touring around North America and will swing back through NYC on June 12 for another show at Cake Shop. All tour dates are listed below.

Also on the bill tonight are Spain's Zipper who play buzzsaw bubblegum. The band doesn't have much of an internet presence (an old MySpace account) but their super-catchy song "Mirror" is one of my favorites on this year's Popfest Mix which you can download above.

Literature

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The rest of tonight's line-up includes, Literature who moved from Texas to Phildelphia last year and put out the excellent Arab Spring LP (stream it below); NYC's Grand Resort whose Vanguard Dreams EP sparkles with synths and arpeggiated guitars (stream below); and Pennsylvania's Swiss Alps, who make gently jangling songs in the Field Mice tradition.

Thee Ahs
Thee Ahs

Opening the night (7:30 PM) are Vancouver's Thee Ahs. The quartet released their second album, Future Without Her, back in February and shows off their folky, jazzy, clear-voiced harmony-filled sound (no reverb with this band). You can stream the whole album below.

Set times for tonights' Cake Shop show, streams, The School tour dates and videos are all below...

Continue reading "NYC Popfest starts tonight at Cake Shop with The School, Zipper, Thee Ahs, Literature and more (streams)"

by Bill Pearis

Flowers

London's trio Flowers are on their way to the U.S. for NYC Popfest, where they'll play this Saturday (6/1) at The Bell House as part of a bill that includes New Zealand headliners The Bats as well as fellow UK acts Tigercats, The Hobbes Fanclub, and The Proctors as well as Sweden's Azure Blue. Tickets are still available. It's the band's only North American show, but all upcoming (mostly UK) dates are listed below.

Flowers' debut 7" was just released via Cloudberry records and should appeal to fans of noisy, reverb-drenched indiepop (aka nearly everyone going to Popfest). "You Held My Hand" is especially good. You can still get the vinyl but the band have nicely made the tracks available as a free download on Bandcamp, and you can stream all four songs below.

Continue reading "UK trio Flowers released their debut EP, making US debut at NYC Popfest this weekend (dates, streams)"

photos by PSquared Photography, words by Bill Pearis

The Monochrome Set @ Bowery Electric, 5/27/2013
Monochrome Set

Arch, erudite post punks The Monochrome Set played their first NYC show in over 30 years on Memorial Day (5/27) at Bowery Electric with the pounding drums of their titular theme song leading the charge. Their opening trifecta hit with some of their best-known songs, "The Lighter Side of Dating" and "The Jet Set Junta." Featuring original members Bid (vocals, guitar) and lead guitarist Lester Square, plus longtime bassist Andy Warren and a fez-wearing drummer, the band and their music -- a melange of Spaghetti Western twang, gypsy carnival music and pre-Smiths jangle -- have aged gracefully.

Over for NYC Popfest and a few other shows, The Monochrome Set are also plugging a new album, Platinum Coils, which details Bid's 2010 brush with death via a brain aneurysm, albiet in the band's typical jaunty, witty style. Songs from the record were sprinkled throughout their set and fit nicely alongside classics like "B-I-D Spells Bid," "Jacob's Ladder" and "Eine Symphonie Des Grauens." After their initial 17-song set, they returned for two encores, playing "Goodbye Joe," signature single "He's Frank," another new song and finally the cowboy-themed "Cast a Long Shadow."

Though I would've liked at least one of their many great instrumentals ("405 Lines" or "The Etcetera Stroll"), it was a pretty satisfying setlist which you can check out below. Plus, Bid promised to mix things up across their three NYC-area shows, the second of which is tonight (5/29) at Maxwell's (tickets). Their Popfest appearance is Friday (5/31) at Knitting Factory with Math & Physics Club, Cassolette and The Very Most. Tickets are still available for that one too.

Also on the bill were Dot Dash who are made up of mostly DC indie pop vets and will open for The Monochrome Set tonight too. Last year's Winter Garden Light is quite good and you can stream a track from that below.

Psychedelic locals Your 33 Black Angels were on the bill too. More pictures from Monday's show below...

Continue reading "The Monochrome Set played 1st NYC show in 30 years (pics), play Maxwell's tonight, Popfest on Friday"

Calvin

K Records magnate Calvin Johnson (of Beat Happening, Dub Narcotic Sound System et al) has a few East Coast/Midwest dates this week, including a show on Wednesday (5/22) at Ran Tea House with labelmate Ian Svenonius' Chain & the Gang, and Arrington de Dionyso's Malaikat dan Singa, and the NYC live debut of Erin Earthling. Tickets for that show are on sale now.

Arrington de Dionyso's Malaikat dan Singa also play another NYC show on Friday (5/24) at Secret Project Robot with Aye Aye Rabbit (featuring Greg Saunier of Deerhoof), Many Mansions, and The Drunken Foreigner Band.

In other K Recs news, as mentioned, Heather Rose Dominic's 1998 documentary The Shield Around the K will screen next Friday (5/31) at Videology in Williamsburg as part of 2013 NYC Popfest. Screening is at 5 PM and free.

All Calvin Johnson tour dates are listed below.

Continue reading "Calvin Johnson touring, playing NYC with Chain & the Gang and more (dates)"

by Bill Pearis

JBC

In addition to the four-day extravaganza happening May 30 - June 2, the good folks at NYC Popfest are also putting on a Northside Fest showcase at Spike Hill on June 15. The night is headlined by someone I am personally super-excited about: The Jazz Butcher. Pat Fish has put out records under variations of the name since the mid-'80s, making droll, often heartfelt VU-inspired guitar pop with a rotating cast of friends, including Bauhaus/Love & Rockets bassist David J and Spacemen 3's Sonic Boom, and many his records came out on legendary UK indie label, Creation.

The bandmate that most JBC fans care about is guitarist Max Eider who really put the Jazz in the Jazz Butcher. Max Will be accompanying Pat for this NYC visit and they'll play as a duo. Pat and Max released a new Jazz Butcher album, The Last of the Gentleman Adventurers, last year and you can stream the whole thing below, along with some classic JBC material. To say that I am a Jazz Butcher superfan is to put it midly. Pretty sure they haven't played NYC since 2000 (anybody at that Mercury Lounge show?) so this exciting news. If you can't make the Northside show, Pat and Max will play Cake Shop on Monday, June 17 as well. Some people (me) will go to both. These are their only North American shows.

Backtracking a bit, the rest of NYC Popfest's Northside lineup is pretty cool too. Texas Bob Juarez and Mike Stone who are both in the current line-up of Television Personalities. Also on the bill, the hyperactive pop of Atlanta, GA's Gold-Bears and their neighbors Small Reactions. That is a good show! Advance tickets are not on sale as of yet. Limited Northside Fest badges will be accepted too.

The Bats
the bats

There is more Popfest news. As mentioned briefly in the Speedy Ortiz post, Popfest's Saturday night (6/1) show was originally supposed to take place across both stage of Public Assembly. As half the venue will be closed for renovations, that show has been mostly moved to The Bell House where New Zealand's great The Bats will headline the evening that also includes sets from UK groups Tigercats, Flowers, The Hobbes Fanclub and The Proctors as well as Sweden's Azure Blue. Tickets for that show are still available.

Ringo Deathstarr, however, will still be playing at Public Assembly that Saturday night for a technically-still-official Popfest show that now also has Speedy Ortiz, Sua, and Advaeta on the bill as well. Tickets are on sale now and Popfest passes (also still available) will be accepted.

K

And since our last Popfest post, they've added a film screening as well. On Friday, May 31 at Videology in Williamsburg, they'll show K Records documentary The Shield Around the K. The screening's at 5PM and is free and open to the public. Director Heather Rose Dominic will be on hand for a post-screening Q&A.

And in related news, this seems like a good place to mention that Cherry Red Records is putting out Scared to Get Happy: A Story of Indie-Pop 1980 - 1989 in July. The five-disc box set is a pretty comprehensive look at the scratchy, twee, shambolic, sweater-inclined genre. A few of the tracks are seeing their first official release. It includes tracks from 2013 Popfest bands The Monochrome Set, Close Lobsters, The Wolfhounds, and The Jazz Butcher. You can check out entire tracklist below.

Continue reading "Jazz Butcher, Gold-Bears & more playing Popfest's Northside showcase; The Bats show moves to Bell House + more"

by Bill Pearis

French Films, blurred
French Films

As mentioned, the 2013 Popfest (May 30 - June 2) announced their line-up last week which includes a stellar array of vintage names (Monochrome Set, Close Lobsters, The Bats) as well as a nice crop of new bands (French Films, The School, Ringo Deathstarr) as well. The fest has now announced the actual nightly schedule which is as such:

Thursday, May 30 at Cake Shop: with The School, Zipper, Literature, Grand Resort, Swiss Alps, and Thee Ahs. (tickets)

Friday, May 31 at Knitting Factory: The Monochrome Set, Math & Physics Club, Cassolette, and The Very Most (tickets)

Saturday, June 1 (day): Free matinee at Spike Hill with The Smittens, Making Marks and Silkies.

Saturday, June 1 (night): Popfest takes over both stages of Public Assembly with The Bats, Tigercats, The Hobbes Fanclub, and Azure Blue (tickets); the backroom has Ringo Deathstarr, Flowers, The Proctors, The Ballet (tickets)

June 2: All-day show at Littlefield with Close Lobsters, The Wolfhounds, French Films, The Secret History, Alpaca Sports, The Orange Peels, My Teenage Stride, Ski Lodge, and Startropics. (tickets)

Four-day passes, which gets you in to everything, are available too. If you don't recognize some of the names on this year's line-up, Popfest has a handy Spotify playlist featuring all involved.

I've been listening to Finnish band French Films a lot recently who'll make their U.S. live debut at Popfest. They've got a manic pop vibe to them that posits them somewhere between early OMD and The Drums. You can stream their 2011 album, Imaginary Future, below. They'll release their new album, White Orchid, in time for Popfest and you can stream the first single, "Latter Days," below.

Continue reading "French Films releasing 'White Orchid,' making U.S. debut at NYC Popfest (full schedule, individual shows on sale)"

by Bill Pearis

The Bats @ Cake Shop, March 2006 (via)
The Bats

As mentioned, New Zealand's The Bats are flying to North America this spring, playing Chaos in Tejas in Austin and NYC Popfest where they'll headline at Public Assembly on June 1.The band are turning those festival appearances into a full tour. The dates include another NYC-area show at Maxwell's on June 3, a couple days after Popfest. Tickets for that are on sale now.

If you're unfamiliar, Robert Scott formed The Bats with guitarist Kay Woodward while he was still a member of The Clean, and the group have had the same four-member line-up since 1982. Likewise the band's sound -- Robert Scott's jangly strum, Woodward's snaky guitarlines, Paul Kean's melodic bass and rock-solid drummer Malcolm Grant -- has remained the same over the course of eight albums and countless EPs and singles. Along with The Clean, The Verlaines and The Chills, The Bats were the sound of '80s Flying Nun. I'm partial to the band's first three albums -- 1987's Daddy's Highway, 1990's The Law of Things and 1992's Fear of God -- but their whole catalog is worth checking out.

A few Spotify streams and videos, plus all Bats tour dates, are listed below.

Continue reading "The Bats announce full U.S. tour, playing Maxwell's after NYC Popfest (dates)"

by Bill Pearis

Close Lobsters / The School
close lobsters
school

We already knew that The Monochrome Set would be performing at this year's NYC Popfest (May 30 - June 2) but now the rest of the line-up has been announced and it's pretty great with appearances from New Zealand Flying Nun legends The Bats, two bands who featured on NME's legendary C-86 cassette (Scotland's Close Lobsters [!] and London's The Wolfhounds), and long-running California band The Orange Peels; plus newer bands like Wales' The School, UK group Flowers, Hobbes Fanclub and Tigercats, Sweden's Alpaca Sport and Azur Blue, Norway's Making Marks, and Spain's Zipper; and American groups Ringo Deathstarr, Math & Physics Club, Literature, Ski Lodge and more.

I'm particularly excited for Close Lobsters whose debut album Foxheads Stalk This Land is a big favorite of mine. (You can stream it below.) I don't think they've played here in 25 years. Also exciting is the return of The Bats who haven't played NYC since 2006. The band, which features The Clean's Robert Scott, have an amazing cannon of work, including classic albums like Daddy's Highway, 1989's The Law of Things and, most recently, 2011's Free All Monsters.

Alpaca Sports, Azure Blue, Flowers, French Films, Hobbes Fanclub, Tigercats, and Zipper are all making their first U.S. visits for Popfest. NYC Popfest has created a Spotify playlist with all the bands playing this year and made a downloadable mix which you can grab at the top of this post.

Festival passes are on sale now and tickets to individual shows will be on sale later this week. Venues and individual line-ups stil to come, but full band list, flyer and a few videos are below.

Continue reading "The Bats, Close Lobsters, The Wolfhounds, The School, Flowers and more playing 2013 NYC Popfest (line-up, tix on sale)"

by Bill Pearis

The Monochrome Set back in the day
K-X-P

In the late '70s and early '80s, British post punk legends The Monochrome Set made a kind of effete, tongue-in-cheek pop that skewered social mores with a twangy, jangly sound which would influence The Smiths, Belle & Sebastian, Franz Ferdinand and others. And despite singer Bid's flip witicisms, they were exceedingly good at instrumentals too. No one else was quite like them and you can stream some classic tracks below.

The band called it quits in the '90s but reformed here and there for the occasional gig. In 2011, Bid, guitarist Lester Square and bassist Andy Warren got The Monochrome Set back together for real and last year released Platinum Coils, their 10th album and first in 17 years. You can stream that below too.

Bid played Knitting Factory in the mid-'00s with a pick-up band (including members of My Teenage Stride) but The Monochrome Set are coming over for real this spring, playing the 2013 NYC Popfest, which happens May 30 - June 2 at various venues around the city. (Sometimes wishes do come true.) Before Popfest, The Monochrome Set will play Bowery Electric on May 27 and Maxwell's in Hoboken on May 29 and tickets for the latter are on sale now.

The entire NYC Popfest line-up will be announced the first week of March, so stay tuned. Looks like The Monochrome will be playing some non-NYC shows while they're here (no firm dates as of this posting) but there are European dates which are listed below.

Continue reading "The Monochrome Set reformed, released 'Platinum Coils,' playing NYC Popfest and other NYC shows"

photos by Amanda Hatfield; words by Bill Pearis

Allo Darlin' at NYC Popfest 2012
Allo Darlin'

Save the dates, May 30 -- June 2, 2013. That's the weekend for the seventh annual NYC Popfest which will happen across multiple venues in NYC. No other details have been announced but expect a mix of old and new, American and foriegn, and a few "la la las" and "bah bah bahs." Personally, I'd love for them to get This Many Boyfriends (check out a video below) and The Monochrome Set. (Go Kart Mozart too, though that seems like a real longshot.) What about you?

The 2012 Popfest happened May 17 - 20, concluding with a big, all-day show at Littlefield with Allo Darlin', The Ladybug Transistor, The Wave Pictures and more. In this post is a set of pictures from that Sunday show we never posted. There's more below, along with the This Many Boyfriends video, an old Monochrome Set clip and UK dates for The Wave Pictures.

Continue reading "NYC Popfest announces 2013 dates +++ belated pics of Allo Darlin', Ladybug Transistor & Wave Pictures from 2012"

by Bill Pearis

Tunabunny
Tunabunny
Atlanta's Tunabunny will release their third album, Genius Fatigue, on October 23 via Happy Happy Birthday to Me. Like last year's Minima Moralia (when they also played CMJ), the new LP is loaded with shambolic, angsty pop goodness. You can stream the album's opening cut, "Duchess for Nothing," at the bottom of this post.

The band will be in NYC this week for CMJ, playing the HHBTM/NYC Popfest showcase on Saturday (10/20) at Public Assembly that also features fellow Athens band Eureka California, Seattle's great Orca Team, winsome Brooklynites Chalk and Numbers, Florida's Beach Day, and Bay area duo Bam!Bam!. Tunabunny will also play a record release show in their hometown on October 25 at New Earth Music Hall that also has Bam!Bam!, Eureka California, Orca Team on the bill plus Muuy Biien. Not much else on Tunabunny's tour horizon as grad school and other life things are keeping them in Athens till next spring.

Bam!Bam! are on the East Coast touring with Eureka California, the latter of whom released their debut, Big Cats Can Swim, last month on HHBTM. It's a rager, bashing out 11 garage pop blasts in less than half an hour. If you liked Nude Beach or Paws recent output, give these folks a shot. You can stream "Bite By the Sand" below.

Orca Team, meanwhile, will also play Muchmore's on Thursday (10/18) with Joywave, Brainstorm, Mean Lady, Osekre n The Lucky Bastards, Honduras, Life Size Maps, and The Dearloves. Advance tickets are available.

As for Chalk and Numbers, the duo have been busy crossing the I's and dotting the T's on a new EP. They don't play live very often, so don't miss this chance.

Tour dates for Tunabunny and Eureka California are listed below, along with those streams.

Continue reading "Tunabunny and Eureka California have new albums, touring, playing CMJ (dates, streams)"

photos by Amanda Hatfield; words by Bill Pearis

"comet gain & pooh sticks were great last night @ public assembly in brooklyn. only took approx 15-20 years to see them live." - @dfarecords

The Pooh Sticks
The Pooh Sticks

It was the kind of night that could really only happen at Public Assembly. The back room rumbled from the crush of Ulcerate (who had their gear stolen later that night) and Tombs, while the front was hosting the third evening of NYC Popfest, which made for a culture clash in the mutually shared hallway. With The Pooh Sticks on the bill, it was hardest Popfest has ever come to "rocking," what with the legendary Welsh band's proclivity towards crunchy powerpop a la Slade or The Sweet. No better example of that than their 1991 single "Young People," with it's twin guitar leads and lyrics that rang of even more irony now that that song is old enough to drink. (And it was ironic when first released.) A truly fantastic set.

Despite the gray hair, frontman Hue Williams was a bundle of energy and the band was tight and, yes, rocking. In addition to "Young People," we got pretty much all The Pooh Sticks' well-known material, including early indiepop sides "I Know Someone Who Knows Someone Who Knows Alan McGee Quite Well" and "On Tape," as well as later tracks like "Who Loves You" and "The World is Turning On."

Headliners Comet Gain rocked too, albiet in a more shambolic indie kind of way, despite frontman David Feck's threats of putting the audience to sleep after the Pooh Sticks killer set. But Comet Gain fans are fervent and the crowd was pumped and loaded for the band who hadn't played NYC in four years. (A little too loaded, some friends of mine got hit by projectile vomit from someone who couldn't hold their booze.) Check out video of their set at the bottom of this post.

The evening started with Sweden's Pushy Parents who were playing their second-ever show, but they sounded pretty together to these ears. Speedmarket Avenue's Isak Klasson played drums. (His own band played earlier in the week.) It was a short set, highlighted by current single "Secret Secret."

The rest of the night: Seattle's winsome and tuneful Seapony were good but needed to be louder (the metal show next door won that round); and Sweden's Electric Pop Group were pleasant enough but with a laptop rhythm section, maybe they should've played first.

Earlier Saturday it was the Popfest day show at Spike Hill with Filipino duo Outerhope, Sweden's Lisa Bouvier and locals Pale Lights and Habibi. I didn't make that one, but our photographer did and pictures of all Saturday Popfest action are below, along with Bleary Eyed Brooklyn's videos.

Continue reading "NYC Popfest 2012 Day 3: Pooh Sticks, Comet Gain, Seapony, Pushy Parents, Habibi, Pale Lights and more (pics video)"

photos by Amanda Hatfield; words by Andrew Frisicano

Saturday Looks Good to Me
Saturday Looks Good to Me

Saturday Looks Good to Me played their first New York City show in four years at the Knitting Factory on Friday, as part of NYC Popfest. Since disbanding the group in 2008, Thomas has been focusing on various projects: mainly his dream-pop duo City Center but also touring with upbeat outfit Swimsuit, which shares some members with the new Saturday Looks Good to Me iteration. The six piece band backed Fred and singer Carol Catherine Gray (who also plays fiddle) with synth, guitar, bass and drums. The group's Jonathan Richman-like simplicity and soulful beat carried old favorites ("Empty Room" "Alcohol," "The Girl's Distracted," and encores "Dialtone" and "Money in the Afterlife") as well as promising new songs. Thankfully the band has plans beyond this reunion tour: from the stage, Fred said to expect a new record in the fall.

The rest of Friday night's Popfest line-up included Barcelona's fizzy Cola Jet Set, energetic, wild haired Texans Wild Moccasins, fantastic Seattle trio Orca Team (whose performance we already wrote about), and openers Catnaps who did a glockenspeil-assisted cover of Joy Division's "Disorder," not the type of thing you associate with an indiepop festival.

More Popfest pictures are below, along with video courtesy of Bleary Eyed Brooklyn.

Continue reading "NYC Popfest 2012 Night 2: Saturday Looks Good to Me, Cola Jetset, Wild Moccasins, Orca Team and Catnaps (review, pics, video)"

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