Entries tagged with: NYC Popfest
by Bill Pearis
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...
photos by Tim Griffin
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...
by Bill Pearis
Math & Physics Club
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.
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...
by Bill Pearis
DOWLOAD: 2013 NYC Popfest Mix (Zip)
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.
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.
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...
by Bill Pearis
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.
photos by PSquared Photography, words by Bill Pearis
The Monochrome Set @ Bowery Electric, 5/27/2013
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...
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.
by Bill Pearis
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.
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.
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.
by Bill Pearis
French Films, blurred
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)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.
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)
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.
by Bill Pearis
The Bats @ Cake Shop, March 2006 (via)
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.
by Bill Pearis
Close Lobsters / The 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.
by Bill Pearis
The Monochrome Set back in the day
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.
photos by Amanda Hatfield; words by Bill Pearis
Allo Darlin' at NYC Popfest 2012
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.
by Bill Pearis
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.
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
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.
photos by Amanda Hatfield; words by Andrew Frisicano
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.
photos by Chris La Putt; words by Bill Pearis
Like years past, NYC Popfest 2012 kicked off with a show at Cake Shop. Finland's Burning Hearts, who played Popfest in 2009 as well, headlined the night with a set of shimmering guitars and warm synthesizers. Also from that general part of the world were Sweden's Speedmarket Avenue who debuted a bunch of strident, emotive new material (and a new line-up) at Cake Shop.
The rest of the Thursday's opening gala was all local: Dear Marje came out of hibernation for a set of charmingly shambolic tunes; Heaven's Gate treaded the line between shoegazy pop and bluesier material; and openers The Marshmallows recalled the '90s heyday of indiepop.
More Popfest coverage is on its way. Check out more pictures and some videos from Thursday's show below...
photos by Amanda Hatfield; words by Bill Pearis
Looking more than a little like Joy Division, black-clad Seattlites Orca Team played Knitting Factory on Friday night (5/18) as part of NYC Popfest and were one of the highlights of the weekend for me. Though his resemblance to Ian Curtis was unmistakable, singer/bassist Leif Anders laid down a serious groove with his instrument (played high Beatles style) and never stopped dancing the whole set. Orca Team were crazy tight and a lot of fun. Pictures from their set are in this post, and more Popfest coverage is on the way.
If you missed Orca Team on Friday, they play Rock Shop tonight (5/21) which is being billed as Popfest Hangover. Orca Team are on last and before them it's Vancouver's Sleuth, Finland's Burning Hearts (who were one of the highlights of Thursday's show at Cake Shop), White Town, and openers (7PM) Outerhope from the Philippines. Tickets are available.
More Orca Team pics below...
by Bill Pearis
Here's the second part of the NYC Popfest 2012 preview. For info on tonight's show at Knitting Factory can read part one here.
SATURDAY, MAY 19
There's a free show at Spike Hill with Sweden's rough-and-tumble Lisa Bouvier, the gentle sounds of Philippine band Outerhope (who also play The Rock Shop on Monday [5/21]) plus Pale Lights (featuring Comet Gain's Phil Sutcliffe and Andy from Crystal Stilts) and Brooklyn up-and-comers Habibi.
For those going to Spike Hill, you might want to head to Williamsburg early to check out the Brooklyn Flea Record Fair that is happening at food hipster mecca Smorgasburg from 11AM-6PM. Indiepop-friendly labels like Angular, Kanine, and What's Your Rupture? will be there, with some exclusive product as well. Plus lots of amazing food. Get there before noon to beat the insane lines.
It's an all-Williamsburg day for Popfest as the Saturday night show happens at Public Assembly with two legendary UK bands headlining; Comet Gain and The Pooh Sticks. The former, celebrating their 20th year in existence, are playing their first Popfest and first shows in NYC since 2009. Last year's Howl of the Lonely Crowd was another fine addition to their canon of footstompers and floorshakers.
The Pooh Sticks
The Pooh Sticks haven't played NYC since 1992 back when they were supporting the American release of their stone-cold classic Great White Wonder which cemented their rep as masters of tongue-in-cheek, arched brow indie. Actually it was already established with shambly 1988 singles "I Know Someone Who Knows Someone Who Knows Alan McGee Quite Well" and "On Tape" which is the "Losing My Edge" of its day. Arch, tuneful and not afraid to steal, The Pooh Sticks are indiepop royalty and, if recent live video on YouTube is correct, they still got it.
But the best group of the night -- or at least the best one you've never heard of before (probably) -- are on first. A quick listen to Pushy Parents are you can guess they're from Sweden (Stockholm to be specific) with a sound somewhere between early Cardigans and the Concretes. Their new Secret Secret EP is terrific: equal parts effortless melody, skill and just-right production. You can stream the whole thing and watch the video for its title track at the bottom of this post.
SUNDAY, MAY 20 (LITTLEFIELD)
Allo Darlin' with Gary Olson at Mercury Lounge (more)
Popfest ends with an all-day affair at Littlefield, featuring tourmates Allo Darlin' and The Wave Pictures who have been written about before and you can see pictures from both band's visit to Mercury Lounge a few weeks back. They are both great and reason enough to go on Sunday.
But not the only reason. The Littlefield show will also feature the first-ever American show from White Town (aka Jyoti Mishra) who made many excellent albums before and after his fluke hit "Your Woman" in 1997. That song, as good as it it (and it is!) also isn't especially representative of White Town's body of work which tends to mix wispy melodies, delicate guitars and budget drum machines. Mishra has stayed active, continuing to release albums over the years, including last year's Monopole.
Also playing: Brooklyn indiepop mainstays The Ladybug Transistor whose frontman Gary Olson usually lends his trumpeting skills to at least one other Popfest band who needs it. (He'll probably also sing the male vocal parts on Allo Darlin's "Dreaming" as he's done before.)
The Holiday Crowd
And come early to Littlefield to catch local power pop combo Swearin' (which shares a couple members with Dear Marje who also play Popfest this year); Washington DC's Dot Dash, which features members of Julie Ocean and wordy '90s indiepoppers Tree Fort Angst.
The full Popfest Saturday - Sunday schedule is below, along with that Pushy Parents stream and video.
by Bill Pearis
Seattle's Seapony are one of the many bands in town for this weekend's NYC Popfest, playing as part of the Saturday night (5/19) show at Public Assembly with Comet Gain and the Pooh Sticks. Tickets for that show are available. In addition to the Popfest show, Seapony are also playing Friday night (5/18) at Littlefield with local shoegazey pop band Field Mouse. Next weekend Seapony play the San Francisco Popfest (May 25 - 27). All upcoming Seapony tour dates are listed at the bottom of this post.
Seapony's shimmery, exceedingly hummable debut album, Come Away with Me, was released about a year ago via Sub Pop kid sister label Hardly Art. You can download two tracks ("Dreaming" is especially catchy) from the album at the top of this post or stream the whole thing below.
Most recently the band contributed a new track to a Hardly Art 5th Anniversary compilation that could only be procured at the label's anniversary shows, but you can stream it below.
Those streams and a list of all dates below...
by Bill Pearis
DOWNLOAD: Popfest Mix (ZIP)
Burning Hearts @ NYC Popfest 2009 (more by Dominick Mastrangelo)
It's NYC Popfest time again. Popfest happens Thursday - Sunday (May 17 - 20) at various venues around Manhattan and Brooklyn. You can still get 4-day Festival Passes ($50) that will get you into all the weekend's shows, or you can buy tickets to individual shows.
There's a couple quick ways to check out all that's going on: Popfest has put together a free downloadable mix (linked above) with all the bands playing this year; and I put together a Spotify playlist with a couple songs from all the Popfest bands that have songs available on the service. If that's not enough, here's a little more about what's ahead, and this post covers Thursday and Friday night's shows. Saturday and Sunday preview will be later this week.
THURSDAY, MAY 17 (CAKE SHOP)
Like usual, Popfest kicks off Thursday (5/17) at Cake Shop. Headliners are Finland's Burning Hearts who were last here for Popfest 2009. The band's new album, Extinctions, mixes shimmery synths, jangly guitars and cooing guitars. You can stream the whole album at the bottom of this post. Burning Hearts also play a free show at LES store Ivana Helsinki (251 Elizabeth St.) and the Rock Shop on Monday (5/21) as part of a post-Popfest hangover show with Vancouver's Sleuth, the Philippines' Outerhearts and Orca Team (more on them below),
Staying in the same part of the world, Swedish powerpop band Speedmarket Avenue are also playing Thursday night. It's been four years since the band released their last album but, but a recently posted new song on their website gives hope for new musical activity. Hopefully we'll get a preview of their new album this week.
FRIDAY, MAY 18 (KNITTING FACTORY)
Friday night is at Knitting Factory with headliners Michigan's Saturday Looks Good to Me who haven't played NYC since the band dissolved in 2008. Main man Fred Thomas is promising a new album, so good to hear this will be more than just remember when.
For me the band I'm most excited to see Friday is Pacific Northwesterners Orca Team whose music is like a '50s dance party on a submarine with Tim Gane piloting. Their new album, Restraint, is out June 14 on the Happy Happy Birthday to Me label and is a little less specifically retro (and all the better for it). If you can't make it Friday night, Orca Team play two non-Popfest shows while here: a free show at XPO 929 (aka Party Expo) on Saturday (5/19) and they're also playing that 5/21 show at the Rock Shop with Burning Hearts and others.
As I said above, look for a preview of Saturday and Sunday's Popfest events later in the week. Meanwhile, the full NYC Popfest schedule (bands, set times, etc) is below.
by Bill Pearis
Cola Jet Set being tourists this week
Organ-fueled partiers Cola Jet Set from Barcelona, who sing in Spanish and maintain an impeccable wardrobe, are visiting NYC for NYC Popfest this week and play a FREE show at Cake Shop tonight [5/15]. Their Popfest show, and their only other show at the moment, is Friday at Knitting Factory where they'll be opening for Saturday Looks Good to Me. More on that later.
The Perennials open the Cake Shop show which starts at 9pm after the weekly free comedy. Check out a Cola Jet Set video below...
photos by Dominick Mastrangelo
Allo Darlin @ Mercury Lounge
Effortlessly charming indiepop band Allo Darlin' played Mercury Loungelast week with tourmates The Wave Pictures -- the kickoff of a North American tour that will wind its way back to New York for NYC Popfest. All tour dates are below. Both bands have new albums, and you can stream Allo Darlin's Europe at the bottom of this post and The Wave Pictures' Long Black Cars at Spotify.
Like he did at Popfest two years ago, Gary Olson of the Ladybug Transistor joined Allo Darlin' for "Dreaming".
by Bill Pearis
Hope you all survived Record Store Day. I didn't find most of what I was looking for (most of which was UK only) but I did get that great Lee Hazlewood comp on Light in the Attic. Hope you found what you wanted the most. Lots of good stuff this week, so let's get into it.
The most TWII show of the week happens tonight (4/24) at Mercury Lounge: Allo Darlin' and The Wave Pictures. It's the start of the two bands' tour together that will wrap up on Sunday, May 20 for the last day of the NYC Popfest which is happening at Littlefield (w/ Ladybug Transistor, White Town and about six more that day). All Allo Darlin'/Wave Pictures tour dates at the bottom of this post.
Allo Darlin's second LP, Europe, came out last week to pretty much across-the-board acclaim. It's a little more melancholy than the band's debut, with a lot less ukulele this time out. Maybe that seems like a good thing, but I must say I miss the exuberance of Allo Darlin's debut. The more subdued nature of the songs and production make it sound like a Camera Obscura album much of the time, a comparison I would've never made before. But Elizabeth Morris' songwriting and voice are still in fine form, it's all just a little more "mature."
You can stream Allo Darlin's Europe at the bottom of this post. I'm sure one thing that hasn't changed is Allo Darlin's ability to charm in the live setting.
The Wave Pictures
The same goes for The Wave Pictures who I will always go see live even if I'm not so crazy about the album they're touring to support. Not that they change so much from record to record. Their new album, Long Black Cars, is pretty good (listen at Spotify) I think but much like the rest: Dave Tattersall spins fascinating, funny stories with a singsong delivery. Most of their albums sound like they were recorded live, but it always comes off a million times more compelling when you actually see them play. Tattersall is also one of the funniest between-song banterers of our age. Also funny: the Darren Hayman-directed video for their song "Spaghetti" which you can watch below.
Here We Go Magic
Here We Go Magic will release their third album, A Different Ship, in a couple weeks (May 8 specifically) and soon head out on a short UK tour before covering most of North America with Hospitality. (All dates are below.) Before that, HWGM play this Friday (4/26) at Knitting Factory with Glass Ghost.
The new album has an interesting birth. Stuck playing a pre-noon set at Glastonbury 2010, the groggy band were playing to a groggy crowd, none of whom seemed to be having any fun. Except for two guys dancing right up front, who turned out to be Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich. The band met Yorke and Godrich after their set and Godrich turned up at more European shows... and ended up producing Different Ships. This is the bands first album that didn't start with Luke Temple doing demos on his own, and with the band incorporated from the beginning (and working in Godrich's studio). While still boyant and dreamy, Different Ships feels a little bigger, a little more fully formed than the previous two. You can stream "Make Up Your Mind" at the bottom of this post as well stream new single "How Do I Know?" at Secretly Canadian's SoundCloud page.
The Feelies at Prospect Park in 2011 (more by Tamara Porras)
And finally, while Feelies shows have become less rare since the band actually made a new album, but any chance to see one of the most influential NYC-area bands of the last 30 years is one you shouldn't pass up. And you have that chance on Friday (4/27) at the Bell House. While bands from Luna (who had the Feelies' Stanley Demeski on drums at the beginnning) to The Strokes have taken from them, there's no substitute for that Bill Million/Glen Mercer guitar interplay that still sounds like magic.
You can listen to the Feelies' terrific album from last year, Here Before, as well as some of their classic ones, at Spotify. The Feelies also play Saturday (4/28) at Club Helsinki in Hudson, NY if you're up that way and a few more scheduled dates throughout the summer which are further down this post.
That's the big stuff this week. Day-by-day picks of things not covered above, are below.
TUESDAY, APRIL 24
Diehard are at Union Hall tonight with Everest, Benjamin Cartel (of Kaiser Cartel) and Resistor. Diehard just released a video for their theme songwhich you can watch below. It's from last year's The Times We Didn't Have Fun which you can download for free from Bandcamp. Diehard also play Saturday (4/28) at the Rock Bar in the west, West Village.
Colorado's Gauntlet Hair are in town at GLasslands tonight with dream poppers Field Mouse and Baby Alpaca.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25
One of the coolest cats around, Nick Lowe is at at Town Hall with nearly 40 years worth of amazing songs in his arsenal. Last year's The Old Magic was another winner from the Basher and you can stream it at Spotify and watch the comedy star-studded video for "Sensitive Man" below.
Michigan indie poppers Saturday Looks Good to Me, led by main songwriter Fred Thomas, are set to kick off their first tour since Fred ended the project back in 2008. The tour kicks off next month with support from Wild Moccasins. That tour includes a Brooklyn show happening on May 18 at Knitting Factory with Cola Jet Set, Orca Team, and Catnaps. Tickets are on sale now for the show which is part of NYC Popfest. All dates are listed below.
SLGTM reissued their 2003 album, All Your Summer Songs, on 180-gram white vinyl for Record Store Day via Polyvinyl. Did you pick one of those up? If not, you can try your luck bidding on one on eBay. Fred is also promising a new SLGTM album due out this fall. Meanwhile, Polyvinyl have assembled a playlist of the band's work, which you can stream below.
All dates and playlist stream below...