When the Austin post-rock outfit (now based out of NYC) ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead released their third album, Source Tags & Codes, in 2002, many heralded the band as the next big thing in indie (a Pitchfork 10.0!) and praised the album’s searing sonic riffage, infectious vocal melodies, and affinity for the occasional orchestral flourish. Since the release of Source Tags & Codes, however, the band has had its ups and downs--some lukewarm reviews for later releases, a split with major label Interscope after 2006’s So Divided, the departure of members--yet it has managed to soldier on and continue to produce consistently original music to a passionate fanbase.
Tonight the band will be celebrating the release of their seventh full-length album, Tao of the Dead (released through Superball Music and the band’s own imprint, Richter Scale), at Littlefield in Brooklyn. The show will also feature Brooklyn’s Takka Takka and art on display by band member Conrad Keely, who did the cover artwork for his band’s new record as well as an accompanying graphic novel. The new tracks were recorded in just ten days, and the album is split into two parts in different tunings; the first produced by Chris “Frenchie” Smith (who produced their debut) and the second by Chris Coady (who has worked with Beach House and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs). In an interview with The Deli the band explained: “Our favorite records are ones that can be experienced as a great body of work, and not the disposable, artless idea of recording one or two singles while disregarding the rest of a record. Why not give people a reason to experience an album as a whole?” Tonight would be a good opportunity to catch Trail of Dead’s ferocious live energy in an intimate setting before they hit the road for bigger venues with Surfer Blood in April. In the meantime, you can check out Keely’s trippy, steam-punk influenced artwork at the band’s website –Bill Dvorak
The solo project of Californian Richie James Follin (from The Willowz), Guards is good for the following (and more): some slow dancing, jumping up and down and cleaning the house. There’s a gentlemanly quality to this music: the songs are gentle and inviting, charming and distinguished, yet still absolutely badass. Follin wrote these tracks in New York City. He had the help of friends Caroline Polachek from Chairlift (see embedded song), James Richardson of MGMT, Loren Shane Humphrey of Willowz and sister Madeline Follin of Cults appearing as guests on some of the songs. Guards opened for Beach Fossils and A Place To Bury Strangers at Glasslands on Saturday and will play London and France in mid February. Guards just released a debut 7" and 12". - Read Lauren Piper's Q&A with RK Follin here.
Christopher Paul Stelling is an anomaly in the NYC indie scene, he is a guitarist who takes his craft to the next level and places a high emphasis on instrumental virtuosity. Playing a unique style of fingerpicking, reminiscent of bluegrass and folk legends from years past, Stelling tells stories of a gypsy musician going from town to town and room to room. Originally hailing from Daytona Beach, he has passed through Boulder, Boston, Orlando, Asheville and everywhere in between. Stelling has recently settled into his new home of Brooklyn, where he is winning a fan base through his captivating solo performances. He is equally comfortable playing larger venues such as Highline Ballroom as he is playing smaller, more intimate settings. - Read Alex Borsody's interview here.
Do you wish that you were away from all this cold, snow, sleet, and whatever else winter seems to be throwing at us? Well, so does Bermuda Bonnie (a.k.a. Becca Huston), but she’s like most of us in this economy just barely getting by paying off her bills and debts while thinking, “Is bankruptcy that bad of an option?” Until the rock gods decide to make her rich and famous so she can finally take you and me on a real vacation, we’ll just have to let her track and video below for “Invisible” take us and her away at least for a few minutes. Alright, it’s not Bermuda like her name promises, but we still have cute ladies in swimsuits, plenty of sunglasses, a little lo-fi tropical beat, and a dude in a neat safari hat so lay back and enjoy! Bermuda Bonnie will have a couple of songs popping up on MTV’s "My Life as Liz" this season (Feb. 8 & March 14), which has also featured tracks from artists like Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper, Generationals, and Takka Takka. - Q.D. Tran
Hey, do you remember The Bravery? They made "An Honest Mistake" back in 2005. But the New York-based band isn't erring with their choice of opener for their UK tour. Royal Chains are also NYC locals, so don't fret that you'll be missing them open for The Bravery across the pond...they'll totally be back soon. And when they are? You should be there. As a girl who longs for the shining era of garage rock revival in the early 2000's (yeah, all those "the" bands), Royal Chains make a return to the genre still feel fresh. Their new single "A Million Fires" captures the distorted guitar and gritty feel of 2003, but mixes it up with better production values and some smooth backing vocals. And some tinkly bells that still manage to rock... just because. Because why? Because who doesn't love rocking bells, that's why. The Royal Chains return to the states right after Valentine's day, which if you ask me, is better than a Whitman's sampler. - allison levin
Nicole Atkins returns to the New York (and world) music scene with her long-awaited second album "Mondo Amore." Opening track "Vultures" presents a lyrical landscape riddled with fear and loathing. "Cry Cry Cry" emerges with a shuffling drum pattern, gospel backing vocal chorus and clean muscle shoals guitar work. "Hotel Plaster" returns to familiar crooner-core territory, as violins add previously unexpected textures. The slow passionate vocal performance is enhanced by a male voice duet, mixed just under Nicole's. "You Come To Me" is a straight ahead rocker, snare drum and reverberated guitar driven. Rising piano notes create an upward motion for Nicole's impressive pipes. "My Baby Don't Lie" recreates a classic down-home jug-band-on-the-back-porch feel that British blues rockers like Led Zepplin loved to emulate. The record then segues into more familiar sonic territory before returning to the original southern fried vibe. "This Is For Love" uses fiddling violins for maximum background effect, cleverly blending them into a country rock format, but it's "You Were The Devil" that delivers Nicole's most sensuous vocal performance on the album: inside a twangy western motif, the subject matter emphasizes the albums overall theme - love, loved - then lost. "War Is Hell" explores this emotional experience further. Nicole's vocals underscore exactly what she does best - the torch song. "Heavy Boots" effectively uses cathedral organ and piano to dramatically highlight this tale of leaden footwear. "The warriors are waiting outside for you on the street. The hungry virgin eyes with scorpions in their smile. They are no match for me." "The Tower" re-imagines Led Zepplin's "Dazed & Confused" minus the extended stoner jam (though live her band at points have gone even there) - there is a tasty guitar solo, though. This may also work as a break-up song. Nicole Atkins plays The Bowery Ballroom on February 9. - Dave Cromwell (photo by Lucia Holm)
I’m lovin’ the resurgence/rebirth of The Notekillers! Besides that the NYC/Philly band straight-up effin’ still rock, it goes with my belief in the “ripple effect”, and how no matter how insignificant you may feel about a body of work, its influence has the ability to affect someone else inspiring paths that might not have been taken before. We doubt that David First and crew ever thought when they dropped off free copies of their 1980 7”, The Zipper, at legendary record store, 99 Records, as a last ditch effort to reach anyone that it would end up in the hands of a young Thurston Moore and friends influencing the sound of Sonic Youth and the No Wave movement. Well, you’ll have a chance to experience The Notekillers live tonight at Coco66 where they will be making plenty of noise with Nymph and Pigeons. - Q.D. Tran
Ariel Panero was a Brooklyn based musician, DIY promoter and band manager who died in December 2010. His friends and ex band mates are organizing a series of shows in his memory. Tonight's bill is particularly interesting, featuring a slew of great local artists we covered several times - we'll list them here in some sort of "poppy to noisy" order: Class Actress, Darlings, Tony Castles, Snakes Say Hiss, Grooms, and Skeleton$. A band called Powers is also playing, but we can't find a website for them. We gave the picture to electro rockers Snakes Say Hiss because we haven't covered them in ages.
Thursday, February 10th, The Union Street Preservation Society are playing at Sullivan Hall. They are an emerging Americana string band from Brooklyn, mixing folk with bluegrass and blues with early jazz. Their music is full of spirited harmonies, fresh new melodies and an authentic energy. The members of the Union Street Preservation Society have distinctive histories--bassist Jason Bertrone studied jazz at Hampshire College, pianist/multi-instrumentalist Sara Bouchard is classically trained with two of her own albums, guitarist David Lieberman studied cognitive science at Yale, violinist Harrison Hollingsworth is the youngest musician at the New York City Ballet, and legendary guitarist/banjoist Alex Borsody runs two companies and helps The Deli in various way (writing, programming, even mag distribution - hurray for him!).
Joining the Union Street Preservation Society on February 10th will be headliners Greensky Bluegrass and Cornmeal. The show is 18+ and the doors open at 7pm. Tickets are $10 advance (and can be purchased here) and $12 the day of. - Leah Tribbett
Brooklyn artist Abby (born Abby Payne) is a whirlwind of talent. Her melodic, textured arrangements perfectly suit her voice (soft and yet full of raw emotion), rendering her songs interesting and emotional at once. "All These Years" is a strikingly beautiful dreamy folk pop track reminiscent of early Suzanne Vega, while "The Prophet" ventures into foot stomping territories. "Try Try Try" is likely to induce smiles and head bobs, the catchy beats and inspired lyrics making this one of Abby’s best. Both her EPs, the 4-song "In A Pretty Box" and the 5- song "Sasquatch" are available on iTunes. And on Friday, February 11th Abby is playing at Williamsburg venue Spike Hill. The show is 21+, the cover is only $6 and she has the stage from 9:00-10:00. - Leah Tribbett