Last week, NYC based June McDoom treated those of us at Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right to her unique brand of singer-songwriter folk musings three different ways: as a solo artist, backed by a band, and then backed by a string ensemble. It was a beautiful night of music to celebrate the equally beautiful clear with green high-melt colored vinyl release of her stunning 2022 self-titled EP.
While “folk” and “singer-songwriter” are terms often used to describe McDoom’s music, they also feel too limited in their description. There are so many elements to her music that reveal themselves through repeated listening. From the dreamy indie pop of “Babe, You Light Me Up,” the spacey atmospheric sounds of “Piano Song,” and the haunting beauty of “By June,” there’s a deceptive complexity to her songs. Hearing them fleshed out by both band and strings really highlighted just how good a writer McDoom is. And her performance last Tuesday was just as gentle and nuanced as you find on her EP.
Opening the night was Miami’s Seafoam Walls. Well rather, half of Seafoam Walls. It was a stripped-down version of the band featuring its founder, Jayan Bertrand, and guitarist Dion Kerr playing an intimate set of Wall’s signature Caribbean Jazzgaze sound. While the layered sounds and beats from their 2021 debut, XVI (Daydream Library Series) create this beautiful landscape, it was nice to hear and appreciate these songs in a totally different way.
After a decade plus long absence, The Hives made their return to NYC on Tuesday night for a jam-packed hour of greatest hits from their catalog. But fans were also treated to some new cuts from their highly anticipated new album, The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons, due this August.
There was something so immediate about this show—no opener, no frills, just an all-out frenzy of a performance from a group of (now) music veterans who were reveling in the spotlight. Front man Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist was all cocky swagger, reminding the crowd that while it had been 11 years, they hadn’t aged one bit and that they were trapped “in young sexy bodies.” Of course, comments like that all came with a wink and a smile before tearing into the next song, leaping off the drum kit or diving into the audience.
Once Almqvist and his brother/lead guitarist Nicholaus started diving into the crowd, it was utter mayhem on the floor. Everyone rushing in to carry them or capture them or even just get an up-close glance. And when all five members were on stage, the lights would occasionally be killed to reveal their glow in the dark lightning bolt suits and of course, their classic stage freeze. They packed so much into a one hour set that I’m guessing their upcoming show at Brooklyn Steel (October 30, 2023) will sell out in under a minute from fans clamoring for more.
All the usual hits were present, from “Hate to Say I Told You So” and “Walk Idiot Walk,” to “Main Offender” and “Go Right Ahead.” The new tracks fit in nicely and included “Bogus Operandi,” “Stick Up,” and “Rigor Mortis Radio.” For the encore, we were treated to the one-two punch of “Come On!” and closer “Tick Tick Boom.” We were even treated to an impromptu Happy Birthday song to one fan who made it on the stage before the final tick-tick-boom of an explosive set. Definitely one for the books.
Scroll down for setlist, fan shot videos, pics of the show (photos by Kevin McGann)
Setlist: Bogus Operandi, Main Offender, Walk Idiot Walk, Rigor Mortis Radio, Good Samaritan, Go Right Ahead, Stick Up, Hate to Say I Told You So, Trapdoor Solution, I’m Alive, Countdown to Shutdown Encore: Come On!, Tick Tick Boom
Olivia Jean rocked NYC’s Mercury Lounge last week in support of her latest full-length, Raving Ghost (Third Man Records) that was released on May 5th. Her third solo album, it continues and builds on the sound Jean has developed as a solo artist as well as her work with The Black Belles, that perfect marriage of garage, goth, surf, and punk rock that she first started writing and recording back in her Detroit days and later perfected in Nashville.
Whether by design or pure coincidence, Mercury Lounge set the tone with all red lighting to kick off the show which added to the goth rock feel with Jean’s trademark bouffant in silhouette. From the first strum of set opener “Ditch” from Ghost, with its surf tones and B-52’s reminiscent keyboards, the band was in full swing. From there they rocked through a set that revisited older hits like “Shut Your Mouth,” “The Wrong Door” (The Black Belles), “Green Honeycreeper,” and “Rhinestone.” And of course, new songs like “Spider,” title track ‘Raving Ghost,” “Trouble,” and a rocking cover of Enya’s “Orinoco Flow.”
Backed by a tight band, Jean was having a great time whether feeding off the bass lines and beats or off shredding on her own. Despite some sound glitches that persisted throughout the first half of the set, she never lost her cool and rolled with the punches. I’m sure having an NYC crowd that was all in and there to rock didn’t hurt, and by mid-set the sound was solid and they really let loose.
With the album out less than two weeks and the tour just getting underway, I’m hoping there will be more chances to catch Jean and crew in the NY tri-state area. And if this show rolls into your town make sure to grab a ticket, and check out Raving Ghost.
Nashville’s Country Westerns brought their distinct brand of hard-hitting garage rock to Brooklyn’s Union Pool earlier this month to a packed house. The trio of music veterans, including front man Joel Plunkett on guitar and vocals, Brian Kotzur who is an absolute beast on drums, and newest addition Jordan Jones on bass, bring a punk feeling to their sound and marry it with a more traditional singer songwriter lyric sensibility. Songs that conjure images of life on the road, on the stage, or just hanging at the bar—all of which made their 2020 self-titled debut album one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year.
Of course, 2020 was also the year that live music died, so for a while all anyone could do is envision those songs played live. And for those who hadn’t seen them yet since the gigs resumed in the last year and a half (see FTA coverage for their opening slot on the Titus Andronicus gig at Elsewhere here), Country Westerns returned to promote their latest full-length banger, Forgive the City. Once again produced by fellow music veteran, Matt Sweeney (Skunk, Chavez, Zwan), they were joined onstage by Sweeney for a few numbers that had those in front of the stage dancing out of their cowboy boots.
Opening the night was Brooklyn’s Ill Angel, led by songwriter, and producer/engineer at Metropolitan Sound, John Epperly. Joined by fellow Metropolitan alumni Murat Aktürk (guitar for Daddy Long Legs), Epperly led the four-piece through a rocking, yet melodic set.
Following Angel was Liquor Store who are a return to great ole rock ‘n roll blasted from your muscle car as you’re speeding down the highway. The guys were having a great time, shredding some guitars and joking about it being their first ever show.
Make sure to catch Country Westerns on the Forgive the City tour and check out the album while you’re at it.
Nation of Language brought their 80’s infused synth pop goodness to Brooklyn Steel last week for a fun night of music that included fellow New Yorkers, Gustaf. Between the open uncluttered setup and Steel’s wide stage, it really let NOL’s lead vocalist Richard Devaney take advantage of the space and dance his way through their growing catalog of alt dance pop gems. Bookended by Aidan Noell (synths) on stage right and Alex MacKay (bass) on the left, Devaney led the trio through a tight set that featured songs from their brilliant 2020 debut, Introduction, Presence, to their sophomore album, A Way Forward, to tracks from their upcoming third album, Strange Disciple, to be released this September.
Opening the night was another group of Brooklyn faves, the art punk band Gustaf. With their unconventional style, and singer Lydia Gammill’s distinctive talk-sing style, their music is as creative and unpredictable as the Café Bustelo coffee can co-vocalist Tarra Theissen uses for percussion. Ever since their inception, and especially since the release of their debut album Audio Drag for Ego Slobs, the NYC quintet has been generating buzz around their live show, which is a propulsive, rhythmic, dramatic representation of their music. Last Friday’s show was no exception and the NOL crowd was loving every finger lickin’ rubber chicken moment of it.
Scroll down for setlist, pics of the show (photos by Kevin McGann)
Setlist: On Division St., Weak In Your Light, A Different Kind of Life, This Fractured Mind, From The Hill, Automobile, Stumbling Still, The Grey Commute, September Again, Tournament, Too Much Enough, Wounds of Love, Sole Obsession Encore: Former Self, Across That Fine Line, The Wall and I