New York Music Daily

Global Music With a New York Edge

New York City Live Music Calendar for August and September 2015

It’s like this every month – check back in about 72 hours for a massive infusion of new oncert listings, most of them for the second half of the month. This August isn’t quite as amazing as last year’s was, but there’s still a ton of good things going on.

After that, daily updates: you might want to bookmark this page and check back regularly to see what’s new. There’s a comprehensive, recently updated list of places where these shows are happening at New York Music Daily’s sister blog Lucid Culture.

This is not a list of every show in town – it’s a carefully handpicked selection. If this calendar seems short on praise for bands and artists, it’s because every act here is recommended if you like their particular kind of music. Many different styles to choose from here, something for everyone.

Showtimes listed here are set times, not the time doors open – if a listing says something like “9ish,” that means it’ll probably start later than advertised. If you see a show listed without the start time, that’s because either the artist, their publicist or the venue in question sent incomplete info – those acts are usually listed last on a particular date.  Always best to check with the venue for the latest information on set times and door charges, since that information is often posted here weeks in advance. Weekly events first followed by the daily calendar.

On select Thursdays and Saturdays, an intimate, growing piano music salon on the Upper West Side featuring iconoclastically insightful, lyrical pianist Nancy Garniez – a cult favorite with an extraordinarily fluid, singing, legato style – exploring the delicious minutiae of works from across the centuries.   Sugg don $10 (pay what you can), delicious gluten-free refreshments, beverages and lively conversation included! email for info/location.

Mondays at 6 PM global jazz chanteuse Gracie Terzian – whose axe is the harp ukulele – plays her chaming low-key originals and classics at the rooftop bar at Hotel Hugo, 525 Greenwich St (Vandan/Spring), free for happy hour, no minimum

Mondays at 7 PM multi-instrumentalist Dennis Lichtman’s popular western swing band Brain Cloud at Barbes followed at 9:30 PM by a variety of south-of-the-border-style bands playing cumbias, boogaloo, salsa, maybe all of the above.

Mondays at the Jazz Standard it’s all Mingus, whether with the Mingus Orchestra, Big Band or Mingus Dynasty: as jazz goes, it’s arguably the most exhilarating show of the week, every week. The first-rate players always rise to the level of the material. Sets 7:30/9:30 PM, $25 and worth it.

Also Monday and Tuesday nights Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, a boisterous horn-driven 11-piece 1920s/early 30’s band play Iguana, 240 W. 54th St ( Broadway/8th Ave) , 3 sets from 8 to 11, surprisingly cheap $15 cover plus $15 minimum considering what you’re getting. Even before the Flying Neutrinos or the Moonlighters, multi-instrumentalist Giordano was pioneering the oldtimey sound in New York; his long-running residency at the old Cajun on lower 8th Ave. is legendary. He also gets a ton of film work (Giordano wrote the satirical number that Willie Nelson famously sang in Wag the Dog).

Mondays nights at 9 PM charismatic Romany singer Eva Salina and her amazing, psychedelic band play high-voltage dub-tinged jams on classic themes from across the Balkans at Sisters Brooklyn, 900 Fulton St. (Washington/Waverly), Ft Greene, C to Clinton-Washington, free

Mondays at the Vanguard the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra – composer Jim McNeely’s reliably good big band vehicle – plays 9/11 PM, $30 per set plus drink minimum.

Mondays at 10 PM there’s been quite a buzz about acoustic songbird Angela McCluskey and saxophonist Paul Cantelon’s weekly residency at the third stage at the Rockwood, with a rotating cast of high-quality special guests. It’s expensive: $15 plus a $10 drink minimum very strictly enforced.

Also Mondays in August Rev. Vince Anderson and his band play Union Pool in Williamsburg, two sets starting around 11:30 PM. The Rev. is one of the great keyboardists around, equally thrilling on organ or electric piano, an expert at Billy Preston style funk, honkytonk, gospel and blues. He writes very funny, very politically astute, sexy original songs and is one of the most charismatic, intense live performers of our time. It’s a crazy dance party til past three in the morning. Paula Henderson from Burnt Sugar is the lead soloist on baritone sax, with Dave Smith from Smoota on trombone, with frequent special guests.

Tuesdays in August, 8:30 PM the George Gee Swing Orchestra play surprising new arrangements of old big band standards at Swing 46, 349 W 46th St,  $15

Tuesdays in July clever, fiery, eclectic ten-piece Balkan/hip-hop/funk brass maniacs Slavic Soul Party  at 9 PM at Barbes. Get there as soon as you can as they’re very popular. $10 cover.

Tuesdays at around 10 Julia Haltigan and her band play 11th St. Bar. A torchy, charismatic force of nature, equally at home with fiery southwestern gothic rock, oldschool soul and steamy retro jazz ballads, and her band is just as good as she is.

Wednesdays in August, 6-8 PM a large percentage of NYC’s top accordionists descend on Bryant Park, playing their own stuff at various points throughout the space. Look out for Gregorio Uribe doing cumbias on 8/5, just for starters.

Wednesdays in August, 8:30 PM guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg (of Dr. Lonnie Smith’s band) leads a trio at the Bar Next Door, $12.

Wednesdays at 9 PM Feral Foster’s Roots & Ruckus takes over the Jalopy, a reliably excellent weekly mix of oldtimey acts: blues, bluegrass, country and swing.

Thursdays in August, 7:30 PM spine-tingling art-rock/avant-garde/chamber pop singer Carol Lipnik – pretty much everybody’s choice for best singer in all of NYC – with hypnotically luminous pianist Matt Kanelos – at Pangea on 2nd Ave. btw 11th/12th Sts, $20. Several special guests are promised, including the amazing Rachelle Garniez on the 9th.

Fridays at 5 PM, adventurous indie classical string quartet Ethel (Ralph Farris, viola; Dorothy Lawson, cello; Kip Jones, violin; and Tema Watstein, violin) play the balcony bar with a rotating cast of interesting special guests at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, free w/museum adm.

Fridays in August at 9 Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens play oldschool 1960s style gospel at the Fat Cat.

Fridays at 11 PM flamenco guitarist Ian Banks with special guests each week at St. Mazie’s (the old Rose Bar) on Grand St. just off the BQE in Williamsburg

Saturdays in August at 4 PM at Bargemusic there are impromptu free classical concerts, usually solo piano or small chamber ensembles: if you get lucky, you’ll catch pyrotechnic violinist/music director Mark Peskanov and/or the many members of his circle. Early arrival advised.

Saturdays eclectic compelling Brazilian jazz chanteuse Marianni and her excellent band at Zinc Bar, three sets starting at 10 PM.

Sundays there’s a klezmer brunch at City Winery, show starts around 11:30 AM – 2 PM, $10 cover, no minimum, lots of good bands.

Sundays at 3 PM at the Stone a rotating cast of familiar faces from John Zorn’s circle perform from Zorn’s characteristically exhaustive, marathon collection of 300 works titled Bagatelles, recently composed between March and May 2015. “Each concert will be introduced by John Zorn, often in conversation with the musicians,” $15

Every Sunday the Ear-Regulars, led by trumpeter Jon Kellso and (frequently) guitarist Matt Munisteri play NYC’s only weekly hot jazz session starting around 8 PM at the Ear Inn on Spring St. Hard to believe, in the city that springboarded the careers of thousands of jazz legends, but true. This is by far the best value in town for marquee-caliber jazz: for the price of a drink and a tip for the band, you can see world-famous players (and brilliant obscure ones) you’d usually have to drop $100 for at some big-ticket room. The material is mostly old-time stuff from the 30s and 40s, but the players (especially Kellso and Munisteri, who have a chemistry that goes back several years) push it into some deliciously unexpected places.

Sundays in August, 8:30 PM purist guitarist Peter Mazza – who gets the thumbs up from bop-era legend Gene Bertoncini – leads a series of trios at the Bar Next Door.
8/1, 1 PM Bulgarian songstress Vlada Tomova‘s haunting, enchanting, otherworodly Bulgarian Voices Trio on the plaza at Lincoln Center

8/1, 4 PM the Night Tripper himself, Dr. John at Central Park Summerstage: get there when the doors open at 3.

8/1 third-wave ska/soul/blues cult favorites the Slackers play the Rocks Off Concerrt Cruise aboard the Nautical Express, boarding at 6 PM, sailing at 7 PM from Pier 36 – 299 South St,  $30 adv tix avail. at the Rocks Off office out behind the heliport at 23r d St. and the East River or the Highline Ballroom box ofc.

8/1-2 state-of-the-art jazz violinist Regina Carter‘s Southern Comfort at the Jazz Standard, 7:30/9:30 PM, $30

8/1, 7:30/9:30 PM the brass-fueled ten-piece Josh Evans Big Band at Ginny’s Supper Club, $15

8/1, 8 PM Mexican night at Barbes with energetic acoustic Veracruz-style folk-punk band Radio Jarocho followed at 10 by Sinaloa-style mariachi/ranchera brass group Banda de los Muertos

8/1, 9 PM searing Radio Birdman/OBNIIIs garage-punk soundalikes the Mess Around – good to see they’re still messing around – at the Gutter, $5

8/1, 9 PM Raunch Hands cofounder Mike Edison‘s Trainwreck or whatever the irrepressible troublemaker. ganja advocate and Bongcaster inventor’s latest band is, at Hank’s

/1, 10 PM legendary early 80s dark Cali punk band Symbol Six at Grand Victory, $10. Followed at midnight (separate $7 admission – weird, huh?) by scorching, dark heavy rock band Briana Layon & the Boys, fronted by one of the most powerful singers around

8/1, 11 PM darkly watery dreampop band Lazyeyes at Rough Trade, $10 adv tix rec

8/2, 1 PM sitar virtuoso Ikhlaq Hussain on the plaza at Lincoln Center

8/2, 1 PM cleverly erudite, historically informed, nimble newschool country blues guitar maven/songwriter Lenny Molotov at East Village Social on St. Marks (1st and A), free

8/2, 3:30ish kitchen sink Brazilian/C&W/funk/New Orleans band Nation Beat‘s Carnival Caravan featuring Cha Wa and Nação Zumbi at Central Park Summerstage

8/2, 7 PM the all-female Accord Treble Choir sing an ecltctic mix of haunting Balkan choral works and pieces from the western classical tradition at Barbes followed at 9 by paradigm-shifting Romany guitarist Stephane Wrembel

8/2, 8 PM iconic, enigmatic noir countrypolitan/torch jazz songwriter/bandleader Eleni Mandell at the Mercury, $10

8/2, 8 PM intricately arranged, psychedelic funk with the MK Groove Orchestra at Brooklyn Bowl, $5

8/3, 9:30 PM hard-hitting minor-key Afrobeat dancefloor grooves with the Funk Ark at Brooklyn Bowl, $7

8/3. 11 PM a rare US appearance by popular Belgian ska/rocksteady band Freddy Loco at Shrine

8/4, 7 PM NYCs original and maybe only original, oldschool Veracruz-style Mexican son jarocho dance band, Radio Jarocho at Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City

8/4, 7 PM 80s salsa romantica nostalgia with Tito Nieves at East River Park

8/4 – 8/8, 7:30/9:30 PM at the Jazz Standard, the Christian McBride Trio with Christian Sands – piano ; Ulysses Owens Jr. – drums, $30

8/4, 7:30 PM the amazing East Coast Chamber Orchestra play works by Biber, Francesco Geminiani and Tschaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C major, at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park, free, early arrival advised

8/4, 7:30 PM 80s hip-hop nostalgia with Kool Moe Dee (Kool J’s nemesis – remember?), Rob Base, Biz Markie and Dr. Roxanne Shante at Wingate Field in Crown Heights, watch your back.

8/4, 8 PM popular, smoky-voiced Americana chantuese Lindi Ortega and her band at the Mercury, $12

8/4, 11 PM Penelope Houston‘s recently revitalized, legendary first-wave punk band the Avengers play their first-ever Brooklyn show at the Bell House, $18 adv tix req., if this doesn’t sell out, something’s seriously wrong with this city

8/5, 5 PM the Queens Symphony Orchestra’s string section plays a program TBA at Flushing Town Hall, free

8/5, 8 PM psychedelic klezmer/bluegrass mandolin and clarinet legend Andy Statman at Barbes, $10

8/5, 8 PM briliant, eclectic indie classical/jazz/klezmer cellist Noah Hoffeld plays the album release show for his new one at Bowery Electric, $10

8/5, 8:30 PM swirling avant garde ensemble Dither Guitar Quartet with guitariists Mark Steward and Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, plus Yo La Tengo, plus possibly lots of jamming and cross-pollination at Damrosch Park out back of Lincoln Center

8/5, 11 PM oldschool female-fronted soul/groove band Empire Beats at Shrine

8/6, 7 PM 60s latin soul legends Ray Lugo and the Boogaloo Destroyers with special guests powerhouse trumpeter Pete Rodriguez plus Richie Ray and Joe Bataan – with special guests of his own – at Damrosch Park out back of Lincoln Center

8/6, 8 PM dark, charismatic, mischieviously witty literate keyboardist/chanteuse Rachelle Garniez at Barbes

8/6, 8 PM a killer dark garage rock twinbill: kick-ass guitar-and-organ-fueled original psychedelic rockers  the Electric Mess and Crampsy ghoul-surf/noir garage band Twin Guns at Bowery Electric, $8

8/6, 9 PM new jack roots reggae band New Kingston followed by golden age legends Steel Pulse at B.B. King’s, $32.50 adv tix highly rec., this will sell out even if the band doesn’t have all the original members

8/6, 10 PM the Thurston Moore band at Bowery Ballroom, $17 adv tix req

8/6, 11 PM Deerhoof – who are to Bushwick now what Wire was to Camden Town in 1979 – at the Bell House, $18 gen adm

8/7, 5:30 PM the Jalopy’s main man, Feral Foster brings his smart, purist, gloomy Americana to the American Folk Art Museum

8/7, 6 PM chamber pop pianist Zach Phillips plays solo, then joins guitarist Tom Csatari‘s band for a performance of Chico Hamilton tunes at Cornelia St. Cafe, $9 incl a driink, this could be really good. Followed at 9 and 10:30 PM by Mary Halvorson and Sylvie Courvoisie dueling and duetting it out on guitar and piano for $10 plus a $10 min. at Cornelia St. Cafe

8/7, 7 PM sardonically funny, lyrically brilliant Beatlesque/Costelloesque powerpop songwriter Walter Ego followed by Mac McCarty & the Kidd Twist Band playing their fiery, sometimes unexpectedly poignant Pogues-ish punk and folk noir at Sidewalk

8/7, 7 PM rising star indie classical ensemble RighteousGIRLS (flutist Gina Izzo and pianist Erika Dohi) celebrate the release of their debut album gathering blue, with help from guest artists Andy Akiho, Ambrose Akinmusire, and Justin Brown at Joe’s Pub, $15

8/7, 7 PM Sumari – Matt Lavelle (trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, pocket trumpet, alto clarinet) Jack DeSalvo (mandola, cello, guitars) Tom Cabrera (bodhrán, tar, riq, doumbek, bass drum) – at El Taller Latino Americano, 225 W. 99th St at Broadway, 2/3 to 96th St.

8/7, 8:30 PM recently resurgent 70s roots reggae vets Third World at Prospect Park Bandshell

8/7, 8:30 PM gospel night with long-rnnning legends the McCrary Sisters and the Fairfield Four at Damrosch Park out back of Lincoln Center

8/7, 8:30 PM Daniel Brevil and Markus Schwartz–traditional Haitian percussion; Matt Mitchell–piano; Ches Smith–drums and percussion at I-Beam, free. They’re also here the following night, 8/8 at midnight

8/7, 9:30 PM dark female-fronted paisley underground/postpunk/psychedelic rockers Mesiko at the Bell House, $12 adv tix rec

8/7, 10 PM this eras’s creepiest, most menacing cinematic guitar instrumentalists, Big Lazy at Barbes

8/7, 10 PM a rare appearance by tight, tuneful, kinda-creepy Bogota punk rockers Lupus at the Acheron, $10

8/7. 10:30 PM catchy Booker T-esque trombone-fueled soul jazz with the David Gibson band at the Fat Cat

8/8, 2 and 4 PM gorgeously slinky, period-perfect 1950s-style Egyptian film music revivalists Zikrayat at Queens Library at Broadway, 40-20 Broadway, Long Island City

8/8, 3 PM the Quebe Sisters play their harmony-driven Americana on the plaza at Lincoln Center

8/8, 7:30 PM the all-star Watkins Family Hour featuring Sean & Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek, Fiona Apple, Don Heffington, Sebastian Steinberg, Aimee Mann, Pokey LaFarge, and special guests play am acoustic version of Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited in its entirety at Damrosch Park out back of Lincoln Center

8/8, 8 PM subversively torchy, historically-informed, richly lyrical oldtime Americana chanteuse Robin Aigner & Parlour Game at Barbes

8/8, 9 PM one of the year’s best Americana triplebills: torchy, riveting, erudite countrypolitan songwriter Drina Seay, Nashville gothic band Karen & the Sorrows and 90s-style alt-country act Butchers Blind at Hank’s

8/8. 9 PM this could be really cool: M Shanghai String Band leave the originals at home and play two sets of Neil Young tunes at the Jalopy, $10

8/8, 9/10:30 PM reliably tuneful piano improviser Kris Davis leads an especially solid trio with John Hebert on bass and Tom Rainey on drums at Cornelia St. Cafe, $10 plus a $10 min

8/9, 3 PM popular Americana/gospel artist Iris DeMent on the plaza at Lincoln Center

8/9, 4 PM groovemistress/cellist/singer Marika Hughes & Bottom Heavy at East River Park

8/9, 7 PM popular countrypolitan songwriter Lyle Lovett and his Large Band at Damrosch Park out back of Lincoln Center

8/9 drummer E.J. Strickland & Transient Beings featuring powerful gospel singer Alicia Olatuja and John Benitez, 7:30/9:30 PM at the Jazz Standard, $25

8/9, 8 PM pianist Matt Mitchell debuts his auspicious new trio with Chris Tordini and Dan Weiss at Greenwich House Music School, $10

8/9, 8:30 PM tuneful third-stream pianist Michel Reis leads his trio at Cornelia St. Cafe, $10 plus a $10 min

8/9, 10 PM hypnotic, fun, psychedelic-as-hell art-rock/prog instrumentalists You Bred Raptors – Epileptic Peat on 8-string bass, Zach Schmidlein on drums and Bryan Wilson on cello at the Mercury, $10

8/9 rivetingly psychedelic, guitar-fueled desert blues/cantorial rockers the Sway Machinery with edgy latin rockers El Imperio at Union Pool

8/10, 8:30 PM bassist Michael Blanco leads a killer quartet with John Ellis, tenor sax; Kevin Hays, piano; Clarence Penn, drums, thrashing out some new material before they go into the studio, at Cornelia St. Cafe, $10 plus a $10 min

8/11 – 8/12 fiery Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda’s eleven-piece World Ensemble play the cd rrelease shows for his new one 7:30/9:30 PM at the Jazz Standard, $25

8/11, 7:30 PM reggae lite and dancehall hits with Maxi Priest and Gyptian at Wingate Field in Crown Heights, watch your back

8/11,. 8/10 PM bassist Chris Tordini leads a solid quintet with Jeremy Viner – tenor sax/clarinetl Kris Davis – piano; Bobby Avey – keyboards; Dan Weiss – drums at the Jazz Gallery, first set $15, second $10

8/11, 8 PM “Ora Clementi play with subtleties of sensory perception, invoking a dreamlike context that hovers between musical performance and pure abstraction. Vito Ricci combines his recordings with live sound, performing on computer, modular, and “wrench guitar” with special guests Lise Vachon and Steve Dalachinsky” at the Walker Space, 55 Walker St. in Tribeca, $15

8/11, 9 PM jangly, sharply lyrical folk-rock/chamberpop band the Morning Sea – like a more stripped-down, less druggy Elliott Smith at Arlene’s, $8

8/12, 4 PM St Cyprian’s Singers of St Cyprian’s Church, Clarence Gate (London, England) with Julian Collings, director sing works by Sheppard, Tallis, MacMillan, Tippett, Martin, Whitacre and Holst at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, free

8/12, 8 PM clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and pianist Dinuk Wijeratine collaborate on Middle Eastern and south Asian themes at Bargemusic, $35/$30 srs/$15 stud/ Expensive, but this is paradigm-shifting, exciting stuff.

8/12, 8 PM psychedelic, surfy, vallenato-influenced latin rock groovemeisters Los Crema Paraiso at Barbes

8/12, 9 PM irreverent oldschool Williamsburg vocal jazz crew the Old Rugged Sauce at Freddy’s. From the Blu Lounge, to the Grape & Grain, to Brooklyn Rod & Gun and now here. These guys have too much fun to quit.

8/13, 5 PM salsa legend Jose Alberto “El Canario” and band at NJPAC’s Theater Square, One Center St,, Newark, free, 5 minutes from the Path station

8/13, 7:30 PM a fancy sit-down twinbill with melancholy Americana cover project the Sad Bastards of Brooklyn and powerpop icon Patti Rothberg at the Cutting Room, $15 adv tix rec

8/13 – 8/16 charming French jazz chanteuse Cyrille Aimee and her tropicaly-tinged two-guitar combo, 7:30/9:30 PM at the Jazz Standard, $30

8/13. 9 PM Brother Joscephus‘ mighty New Orleans soul-funk orchestra at Rough Trade, $12

8/13 African roots reggae crooner Rocky Dawuni at SOB’s. 8/14 he’s at the Lincoln Center Atrium

8/14, 8:30 PM smart, original, lyrically-fueled, intricate newgrass band Cricket Tell the Weather at the third stage at the Rockwood, $10 + $10 drink minimum strictly enforced

8/14, 10 PM psychedelic powerpop/new wave rocker Mike Rimbaud – arguably the closest thing to the Clash we have in NYC right now – at Nublu

8/14, 11 PM assaultively fun Nashville glam-punk/metal band Modoc at the small room at the Rockwood

8/15, noon? Talib Kweli and band at 2501 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, free

8/15, 2 and 4 PM, intense, fearless Romany/Balkan chaunteuse/accordionist Eva Salina airs out her repertoire of haunting, otherworldly Romany and Jewish folk songs at Queens Library of Forest Hills, 108-19 71 Ave, Forest Hills

8/17, 8 PM intense, inscrutable, wickedly literate janglerock tunesmith/crooner Ward White and others TBA at Hifi Bar

8/18, 5ish the king of the literate, surrealist downtown NYC rock anthem, Willie Nile in the parking lot out back of City Winery, free

8/15, 7 PM eclectically tuneful oldschool soul/janglerock band Tuelo & Her Cousins at Joe’s Pub, $12 adv tix rec

8/15, 9 PM deviously smart, historically-inspired literate songwriter and brilliant chanteuse Elisa Flynn puts on one of her frequent theme nights. This time out it’s religious songs, “Participating artists play a cover of a song dealing with religion in any way – devotion to blasphemy, pure love to pure hate, Buddha to the Lord of Light. Then they play an original. Musicians include Elisa Flynn, Lys Guillorn, Thee Shambels’ Neville Elder, Jim Knable, Maharajah Sweets, Sean Cahill, John LaPolla, the Sterling Electric, George Hakkila,” at the Way Station

8/18 – 8/23 the mighty, purist Ron Carter Big Band, 7:30/9:30 PM at the Jazz Standard, $35

8/20, 5 PM imaginative, colorful guitarist/reedman Art Baron leads his combo at FDR Park on Roosevelt Island, free

8/20, 6 PM day one of the Brooklyn Country Music Festival Day has – probably in reverse order -the alternately boisterous, retro 60s honkytonk and ominous southwestern gothic Jack Grace Band, Dennis Lichtman’s perennially popular western swing band Brain Cloud, the retro 60s soul-fueled Miss Tess & the Talkbacks, Andrew Sovine (Red’s grandkid- he’s good), the Paisley Fields and North Of Amarillo at the Bell House, $15 adv tix rec

8/20. 7 PM high-spirited Louisiana zydeco/cajun/swamprock band the Revelers at the big room at the Rockwood, $10

8/21, 5:30 PM haunting, stark, lyrically brilliant gothic Americana duo Mark Rogers & Mary Byrne at the American Folk Art Museum

8/21, 6 PM day two of the Brooklyn Country Music Festival has – probably in reverse order – all-female honkytonkers Your Ex-Girlfriends, the hilariously satirical early R&R/rockabilly Susquehanna Tool & Industrial Die Co., Aron Blue & the Bootleggers, and the magically intense, southwestern gothic-inspired Julia Haltigan at the Bell House, $15 adv tix rec

8/21, 9ish the Oliver Lake Big Band at Marcus Garvey Park

8/21, 9 PM ageless, unstoppable surf guitar icon Dick Dale at Brooklyn Bowl, $25 adv tix rec

8/21, 9:30 PM conscious roots reggae faves Taj Weekes & Adowa at Joe’s Pub, $14

8/22, 3 PM day three of the Brooklyn Country Music Festival has – probably in reverse order – Western Caravan featuring Thirsty Dave, Zephaniah & the 18 Wheelers, eclectically guitarslinging rockabilly kitten Lil’ Mo & the Monicats, Terry Radigan, Bob Jones & Jon Sholle, the always evolving and entertaining (and creepy) Sean Kershaw & the New Jack Ramblers, and the CasHank Hootenanny Jamboree at the Bell House, $20 adv tix rec

8/22, 3 PM the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival with saxophonist Camille Thurman, drummer/bandleader/personality  Jeff “Tain” Watts and B3 organ groove legend Dr Lonnie Smith at Marcus Garvey Park

8/23, 3 PM the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival with retro crooner Michael Mwenso, luminously lyrical pianist Myra Melford and pyrotechnic alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa‘s Parker tribute, Bird Calls at Tompkins Square Park

8/24, 6 PM day three of the Brooklyn Country Music Festival has – probably in reverse order -60s folk legend Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, mesmerizingly badass resonator guitarist/singer Mamie Minch, the hauntingly original all-female Jan Bell & the Maybelles, honkytonkers the Third Wheel Band, and Abby Hollander Band, whirlwind electric punkgrass/honkytonk crew Demolition String Band, and longtime NYC bluegrass faves Sheriff & the Goodtimers at the Bell House, $15 adv tix rec

8/25 – 8/30 popular up-and-coming traditionalists, chanteuse Cecile McLorin Salvant and the Aaron Diehl Trio play an album release stand for their new collaboration 7:30/9:30 PM at the Jazz Standard, $35

8/27, 8 PM cult favorite NYC artists join forces to play cult favorite postpunk/no wave legends Young Marble Giants’ Colossal Youth album in its entirety at Hifi Bar, free; performers including but not limited to Renee Lobue (elk city); Kali Holloway (easy lover); toni baumgartner (speed the plough); John Baumgartner (speed the plough); Mary Knapp (toot sweet); Erica Smith; Matt Davis ( a thousand pities ); Sam Weisberg (calotype); Mike Fornatale, Tom Shad

8/27, 8 PM legendary Milwaukee highway rockers the BoDeans – now led by lead guitarist Kurt Neumann – at City Winery, $25 standing room avail.

8/29, 7 PM oldschool 70s hippie alt-country and boogie-woogie with ageless piano guy Commander Cody at Joe’s Pub, $18

9/1, 6 PM eclectic jam-oriented mostly-female klezmer/tango/jazz band Isle of Klezbos in the community garden next door to 520 E 12th St.

9/2, 7 PM this era’s state-of-the-art retro soul band, Lake Street Dive at Central Park Summerstage

9/12, 8 PM Puerto Rican salsa legends Gran Combo at NJPAC in Newark, $36 tix avail.

9/12 menacing retro 70s stoner doom band Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats at Webster Hall

9/13, 8 PM Sumari – Matt Lavelle (trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, pocket trumpet, alto clarinet) Jack DeSalvo (mandola, cello, guitars) Tom Cabrera (bodhrán, tar, riq, doumbek, bass drum) – at Shapeshifter Lab

9/17, 8 PM amazing doublebill: historically-inspired, richly tuneful, erudite singer/guitarist Elisa Flynn followed by the careening NYC counterpart to the Pogues, Thee Shambels at Troost

9/18, 8 PM hypnotic, intense Bollywood music/dance troupe Mystic India at NJPAC in Newark, $25 tix avail

9/18 one of the best, most purposeful psychedelic metal acts of the last 20 years, Washington State power trio Mos Generator at Bowery Electric

10/20.legendary, phantasmagorical psychedelic Balkan rocker Alec K Redfearn with the savagely lyrical, enigmatic great plains gothic chanteuse Ember Schrag and her equally amazing psychedelic band at Bowery Electric. Schrag also joins Redfearn’s band to play creepy Farfisa organ!

Blackout, Slow Season and Mondo Drag Join Forces for NYC’s Best Triplebill So Far This Year

This has been a great year for doublebills, but the hottest triplebill this blog has witnessed this year happened on the hottest day of the year so far, this past Saturday the 18th at St. Vitus. Blackout opened. They do one thing and one thing very well: slow, doomy, pounding anthems. The Melvins seem to be an obvious influence, but where that band goes for sneering humor, Blackout go into the abyss. Bassist Justin Sherrell ripped crushing, stygian chords from his downtuned J-bass while frontman/guitarist Christian Gordy launched steady, precise, chromatic mortarbomb hits from his Gibson, with an appreciative nod to Tony Iommi, but not in a blatantly derivative way. For such a heavy band, drummer Taryn Waldman is a refreshing change, staying low to the ground, coloring the slow, stalking dirges with smoky cymbal washes instead of the expected brontosaurus thud. And just when it seemed that this band is all about relentless gloom, they’d pick up the pace, doublespeed or triplespeed toward hardcore territory, both Gordy and Sherrell bellowing over the maelstrom. As with the next two bands on the bill, it would have been fun to hear them play twice as long as the barely thirty-five minutes they got onstage.

Slow Season‘s rhythm also went in an unexpected direction, 180 degrees from Blackout. Their unhinged stoner attack looks back to 70s proto-metal, which usually doesn’t have the crushing olympic impact that drummer Cody Tarbell brought to their blistering set. As searing as the guitars of frontman Daniel Rice and David Kent were, it was Tarbell who stole the show with his nimble yet bunkerbuster-scale assault, closing the set with a flurry that matched brute force to completely unexpected elegance. Meanwhile, Hayden Doyel’s blue-smoke, nimbly bluesy basslines and eye-popping octaves enhanced the purist NoCal skunkweed vibe. They opened with a boogie groove that went unexpectedly halfspeed, driven by twin guitar riffage hellbent on setting cities on flame with rock & roll.

Boogies were a major part of the rest of their tantalizingly brief set, like a northern Molly Hatchet taken back in time ten years, and with a snakier rhythm section. Kent’s acidic wah riffs, hazily menacing fuzztone bluesmetal lines and the occasional haphazard Hendrix reference reinforced the 1969-73 ambience: the only difference was that this crowd was vaping rather than smoking up – for the most part, anyway. Kent hit one false ending with a nails-down-the-blackboard slide that was one of the night’s highest points, kicking off the next number by himself, taking his time as he built to an aching, screaming peak before a smirky ba-bump groove kicked in. They wound up with an epic that galloped and swayed through his best and most relentlessly searing solo.

Mondo Drag made a towering, epic, majestic headliner. It was like seeing Atomheart Mother-era Floyd and Nektar on the same bill – although it was Slow Season who blasted through the night’s lone wry quote from the David Gilmour riffbook. Mondo Drag’s signature sound loops a hypnotic, vamping groove, with endlessly shifting, richly dynamic segments from frontman John Gamino’s organ and keys along with the guitars of Nolan Girard and Jake Sheley. The band’s new rhythm section is killer and maybe even an improvement over the old one, who were pretty damn good: bassist Andrew O’Neil played meticulously circular, catchy hooks pretty much nonstop while drummer Ventura Garcia channeled a period-perfect, muted 1975 stoner gallop across a surreal, sometimes menacing landscape.

One dynamic that the group worked for a towering, dynamic intensity was Gamino’s smoky, gothic chords grounding the music a la Richard Wright while the guitars played aching, searing, angst-fueled sheets overhead, taking on the Gilmour role. Other songs were fueled by punchy, galloping Nektar-style triplets. That band’s influence – the hard-charging crescendos of Remember the Future, the distantly crushing elegaic quality of It’s All Over and the swaying steamroller attack of Journey to the Center of the Eye – made itself apparent everywhere. Creepily twinkling night-sky Fender Rhodes interludes, tersely biting Arabic-tinged guitar-and-organ passages and endless vamps punctuated by mournfully airy guitar atmospherics and some neat call-and-response between guitars and keys were just part of the picture. As the show went on, an atmosphere of slightly restrained panic and subdued horror underpinned everything. as tempos and metrics shifted, the bass circling like a vulture. At the end of the set, Gamino’s vocals finally took on a somber, resigned, apocalyptic quality. All this justified risking death by dehydration: just try powerwalking through the Greenpoint ghetto all the way back from Clay Street to the L at Bedford, weighted down with a heavy toolbag and workboots in 110 degree heat, and see how you hold up.

Orkesta Mendoza Bring Their Desert Noir to Lincoln Center

Orkesta Mendoza are connoiseurs of noir. A lot of what’s lurking in the shade of that big black umbrella takes its origins from the Balkans, Romany and Jewish music, notably hi-de-ho jazz and its descendants in ghoulabilly and elsewhere. But a lot of noir comes from south of the border. For bandleader/guitarist/keyboardist Sergio Mendoza, none of those styles are off limits: slithery mambos, funereal boleros and towering, angst-fueled, cinematic rancheras, to name a few. He and his sizzling band – which can vary in size from a six-piece to a full orchestra – take those styles and mash them up into stampeding, lushly and exhilaratingly arranged psychedelic rock. They’re playing Lincoln Center Out of Doors, out back in Damrosch Park on July 29 at 7 PM. You should get there early if you want a seat.

The group’s most recent New York appearance was last year at South Sttreet Seaport, with a roughly ten-piece lineup including a horn section. Mendoza’s songs, whether originals or covers, tend to be expansive and go on for sometimes ten minutes or more – they redeem the concept of a jamband. This time out, in roughly forty-five minutes onstage, there wasn’t time for a lot wild improvisation, altough the group made those moments count. Mendoza played mostly acoustic guitar, shifting to the organ for just a single number. The star of this particular show was lapsteel player Joe Novelli, who played with a searing, chromatically-fueled fury. This wasn’t western swing – it was el diablo del desierto teleported from the netherland where Ambrose Bierce disappeared.

Baritone saxophonist Marco Rosano also distinguished himself and played keys on a couple of songs as well – lots of guys in this band double on several instruments. The most haunting song of the afternoon was Dulce Amor, a menacing bolero sung with drama and passion by Mexican cult favorite crooner Salvador Duran. Another similarly ominous, more upbeat minor key number was Mambo Mexicano, a springboard for several sizzling solos from throughout the band.

There was also a pricelessly hilarious moment. After the bass player led the group into a slinky psychedelic cumbia groove, Mendoza began it in English. It didn’t have much in the way of lyrics, and it turned out to be just a one-chord jam – but the band made it interesting. And when they got to the chorus, when Mendoza deadpanned “Don’t tell me that you love me,” it turned out that this was a Fleetwood Mac cover, Tusk, the 1979 hit that might be the most soporific song ever to reach the top 40. Fewer people in the crowd than you might expect got the joke – then again, 1979 was a long time ago, and it’s not likely that number gets a lot of corporate radio airplay anymore. For their last song, the group brought up whirlwind accordionist Rey Vallenato Beto Jamaica – who’d opened the afternoon with his band – raising the energy several notches. The only drawback about this show was that it was relatively short, but at Lincoln Center, artists typically get about a full hour onstage.

Intense, Evocative, Ruggedly Individualistic Acoustic Americana from Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear

Kansas City duo Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear sound like no other band on the planet. They’re both a trip back to a land to a time forgot, and completely in the here and now. And their music is amazing. Forget for a sec that they may be darlings of NPR and the corporate media because they’re a mom and her kid making music together. Ohhhh, how sweeeet, right? No. Ruth Ward is a badass guitarist, so is her son Madisen. And their allusively erudite songs can be catchy beyond belief, distilled in two hundred years of front-porch folk, and country blues, and oldschool C&W and soul music. But while their influences may be retro, what they’re doing with them is something brand new and genuinely exciting. They haven’t played New York since an absolutely riveting invite-only show in the meatpacking district back in May; by the time they hit Joe’s Pub on July 27 at 7:30 PM, they’ll be a couple of days removed from the Newport Folk Festival, and then they’re off to a marathon European tour. Cover for the Joe’s Pub gig is $15 and advance tix are still available as of today, believe it or not.

Their new album Skeleton Crew is streaming at Spotify. The steady, bouncy but enigmatic opening track, Live by the Water, sets the tone for the rest of the album. On the surface, it’s told from the point of view of an older guy who can’t get enough simple pleasures…but is also all too aware of what he doesn’t have. The devil’s in the details everywhere here.

The monster hit waiting to happen is the ragtime-tinged Silent Movies, mother and son’s strums building a lush bed of guitars in perfect unison. Mom echoes son’s vocals; throughout the album, it’s impossible to tell who’s playing the spare lead lines, the two are so committed to staying on track, not overdoing it, simply reflecting a mood, or the storyline. This is deep stuff.

Modern Day Mystery has a careful, moody minor-key sway. “I could never leave this place gracefully,” Madisen explains casually, and then draws the listener in from there. “When I leave this house, I couldn’t disappear if I tried.”

The two weave a spiderweb of guitars on the delicately waltzing Dead Daffodils, a creepy, Faulknerian southern gothic tableau. Then they go back toward ragtime with Whole Lotta Problems and its droll, aphoristic call-and-response. Fight On rises from intricate and enigmatic to lush and sweeping, with a 70s soul-jazz tinge. By contrast, Big Yellow Taxi – an original, not the Joni Mitchell hit – is an irrepressibly bouncy, bittersweet portrait of a homeless guy.

Daisy Jane is the most musically lighthearted number here, followed by the most chillingly allusive one, Undertaker and Juniper. By the Wards’ reckoning, even executioners fall in love…and suffer the consequences. Down in Mississippi features stark cello along with terse guitar multitracks, a troubled Jim Crow-era tableau echoed in the understatedly majestic, gospel-tinged Sorrows and Woes. Be the first on your block to be able to brag that you discovered this inimitable duo.

An Artfully Orchestrated, Intensely Noir New Album and a Joe’s Pub Show from Esteemed Chamber Pop Band the Old Ceremony

Back in the early zeros, when songwriter Django Haskins was a familiar presence playing around the Lower East Side of New York, it’s not likely that he drew a lot of Leonard Cohen comparisons. But artists grow, and as the years went on Haskins’ work took on a welcome gravitas, culminating when he formed chamber pop band the Old Ceremony in 2004. For those who might not get the reference, the band name is a shout-out to Cohen’s cult classic album New Skin for the Old Ceremony. The group are currently on tour for their excellent new album, Sprinter – streaming at youtube – with a show at Joe’s Pub tonight, July 25 at 7:30 PM. Cover is $15, and remember, the venue doesn’t charge a drink minimum anymore.

The album opens with the title track, a scampering folk noir number, like a more lushly orchestrated Curtis Eller song, Mark Simonsen’s eerily looping vibraphone contrasting with Gabriele Pelli’s gusty violin. Haskins’ elegantly emphatic twelve-string acoustic guitar joins with Simonsen’s organ and a nebulously dense arrangement on the stomping Live It Down, bringing to mind Pinataland.

An enigmatically catchy waltz, Ghosts of Ferriday opens with swirly Pink Floyd organ and builds to an ominously clanging noir-psych interlude fueled by Haskins’ creepy tremolo guitar: it’s sort of the missing link between Jimmy Webb and Nick Waterhouse. ”Something for the headphones, something for the chatterbox, drown out the howling of the human rain,” Haskins relates with crushing, deadpan sarcasm in the pulsing 60s bossa-noir anthem Magic Hour, evoking another cult favorite New York band, the Snow.

The sinister Mission Bells goes back to a latin noir slink, Haskin’s sardonic wah guitar paired against Simonsen’s smoky organ, with subtle, Lynchian dub tinges and an unexpectedly feral guitar solo out.  Over Greenland opens with an airy minimalism, channeling the narrator’s dread during a red-eye flight from who knows what – and then the scene shifts to a sarcastic, faux-Springsteen tableau. Fall Guy starts out with a brooding boleroesque groove and picks up with an anthemic stomp – the chute jumper at the center of the story sounds like notorious hijacker D.B. Cooper.

The moody, fingerpicked folk-rock blue-collar anomie anthem Hard Times wouldn’t be out of place on a recent Matt Keating album. Dan Hall’s rumbling drums and Shane Hartman’s dancing bass propel Efige, a snarling southwestern gothic narrative with murderously Balkan-tinged guitar. The final cut is Go Dark, packed with tricky metrics, snarky faux cinematics and metaphorically-charged suspense in the same vein as Ward White‘s most recent material. There’s just as much going on in the other songs as well, subtext and symbolism and allusions: if there’s any album this year that requires repeated listening, this is it. Notwithstanding contributions from southern indie royalty – Mike Mills of REM and the Baseball Project, and Chris Stamey from the DB’s – it’s Haskins’ tour de force. He’s never written more strongly or for matter played guitar with as much spacious, suspenseful intensity as he dives into here. It’s always good to see an artist at the top of their game fifteen years or so after they started, isn’t it?

A Rare NYC Show and Some New Tunes From the Brilliantly Surreal Balkan/Japanese Dolomites

True to his Romany-Japanese heritage, accordionist/multi-instrumentalist Stevhen Koji Iancu’s band the Dolomites play a surreal, distinctive mashup of Balkan and Japanese folk sounds. And psychedelic cumbias, and surf music, and creepy instrumentals that sound like video game themes from the 80s. There is no other band in the world remotely like them, due in part to Iancu’s genre-warping vision, and also to the rotating cast of characters in the group – it’s safe to say he’s got a deep address book. That may be due as much to his previous work with Gogol Bordello and Balkan Beat Box as his inimitable, individualistic style. The Dolomites make a rare New York appearance toinght, July 24, headlining a carnivalesque quadruplebill at around 11 PM at Bizarre Bar, 12 Jefferson St. in Bushwick: take the J/M to Myrtle Ave. Vaudevillian New Orleans oldtimey swing band the Slick Skillet Serenaders open the night at 8, followed by rustic folk noir group Outlaw Ritual and then bluegrass fiddle act Kaatskillachia. Cover is $10.

The band’s latest release is an ep, The Japan Years, Vol. 1, comprising material from 2006 through 2009. It’s the first in a series of three short albums due out over the summer, chronicling the band’s output through 2014. This one’s all-acoustic, just accordion, bass, percussion and vocals – and tuba on one of the tracks as well. The first, meaning “don’t give up” in Japanese, sets the stage, a phantastmagoricl, eerily Satie-esque accordion march, Iancu throwing in some throat-singing for extra global bizarreness. The second, titled simply Why, makes a slinky cumbia out of a carnivalesque Romany tune and almost imperceptily accelerates to warp speed. The next number is ostensibly a rumba, a dark, dramatic Cuban theme muted and spun over a wryly pulsing, cumbia-tinged groove. The slyly shufling final track, meaning “splash,’ is closer to cumbia. Fun, catchy, beguiling stuff, and you don’t have to speak Japanese or Romanes to dance to it. Watch this space for the second and third installments in the series, which will no doubt be up at Bandcamp at some point along with the rest of the Dolomites’ eclectic catalog, this one included.

40Twenty Explore Moody Depths and Raucously Funny Postbop Jazz at Seeds in Brooklyn

It was about midway through jazz quartet 40Twenty’s performance last night at Seeds that bassist Dave Ambrosio took a purposeful, moodily strolling solo. As pianist Jacob Sacks played judiciously plaintive chords and the occasional flyswatter accent, drummer Vinnie Sperrazza got his floor tom crackling almost like a bass cab with a loose cone. Building a series of surrealistically altered press rolls, he was damned if he wasn’t going to max out the mystery, the perfect level of rattle and hum. You, too, would have been transfixed if you’d been there. Moments like that make it all worthwhile, justifying the shlep all the way out to what’s essentially an unairconditioned brownstone building foyer in what used to be deep Brooklyn and has become more and more Notbrooklyn.

40Twenty take their name from the golden-age jazz club tradition of playing a (frequently exhausting) series of sets, forty minutes onstage, twenty minutes off and so forth. But that’s as retro as the quartet gets. All the band members write, including trombonist Jacob Garchik, whose job in this crew is low-key, lyrical frontman. True to their name, their two sets, timed almost down to the second, explored the band’s two contrasting sides. The first was hauntingly resonant, neoromantically-colored themes. The night’s best number was one of those, a wounded, modal, slowly anthemic piece that built to a flurry of a false ending…and then the band took it doublespeed, swung the hell out of it and basically turned it inside out when Garchik and then Ambrosio aired out their variations on it. The other was another slow one, less overtly wounded but just as purposeful, where Garchik took charge of maintaining the overcast mood.

Much as this group looks back to Mad Men-era postbop, they don’t imitate it: the blues for them are more an allusion than any kind of statement one way or the other. The other side of their music involves deconstructing swing, especially in terms of metrics, and it’s here where they can be devastatingly funny. In fact, their jokes are too good to give away. One frequent jape involves beats that seem random but probably aren’t. Another is good old-fashioned jousting. There was one point where one band member (to tell you who it was would be a spoiler: you really should go and see for yourself) egged his bandmate on, the defensive player took his eye off the ball and the aggressor then went in for a slam-dunk that got everybody in the band laughing: especially the guy who’d allowed it. Maybe the funniest moment of all of them involved repetition and how much a band – or an audience – can stand.

This is an overgeneralization, but the upper-register side of the band – Sacks and Sperrazza – tend to be the cutups, and the guys on the low end – Garchik and Ambrosio – the serious ones. Although they all varied their roles, Garchik lightening up at the very end in a blithe swing romp as Sacks showed off some wicked chops with a breathtaking, lickety-split, precise series of cascades. He could play Liszt well, if he wanted to. But he probably finds this kind of music more interesting. And the cameraderie between the guys is familiar, and insightful: even during a more-or-less free interlude during the first number, everybody was listening, and waiting til there was a clear path to the basket to lay their shots in. 40Twenty are two nights into their five-night stand at Seeds, 617 Vanderbilt Ave. between Bergen and St. Mark’s; take the 2 or 3 to Bergen or the B/Q to Seventh Ave. Their shows tonight, July 24 and the next two nights start around 8:30; cover is just ten bucks.

Ruby the Hatchet Headline a Killer Triplebill at the Acheron

One thing that jumps out at you when you take a look at what’s happening out of town is that New York hardly has a monopoly on good multiple-band bills. For example, back on the 17th, intense Philadelphia psychedelic metal band Ruby the Hatchet played on a hometown quadruplebill with a couple of the bands – Slow Season and Mondo Drag – who SLAYED at St. Vitus this past Saturday. More about that inspiring night here momentarily. In the meantime, Ruby the Hatchet have moved on to a kick-ass triplebill, headlining at around 10 at the Acheron on July 24. Excellent retro 70s stoner band the Golden Grass – who add boogie and some unexpected blues to their riff-driven attack – play beforehand at around 9. The eclectic, interesting Iyez – who blend dreampop and noisy postrock into their reverbtoned lo-fi assault – open the night at 8. Cover is $10

Ruby the Hatchet’s new album, Valley of the Snake, is streaming at Bandcamp. It opens with Heavy Blanket, Sean Hur’s organ rising out of the mist, introducing Michael Parise’s galloping bass, then the rest of the group – guitarist John Scarps, drummer Owen Stewart and frontwoman Jillian Taylor – kick in. The vibe brings to mind early Maiden, back when they were more straightforward, less artsy. That, or Deep Purple without the hippie-dippy bullshit.

The second track, Vast Acid goes in the same direction, a catchy, swaying anthem fueled by Scarps’ terse multitracks. Taylor’s vocals are strong, with a bent, bluesy edge, but not going over the edge into Janis Joplin cliches. “I will cut you down, down, down,” is the mantra.

Tomorrow Never Comes, the album’s best track, is a haunting, apocalyptic, practically nine-minute epic, teasing the listener with a flamenco-tinged guitar intro before Scarps’ crushing riffage takes over and then eventually hits a cruelly stampeding pulse. Hur’s atmospheric keys are a neat touch. Mos Generator’s classic The Late, Great Planet Earth is a good comparison.

The Unholy Behemoth looks straight back to Sabbath, slow and doomy before it picks up with Iommi-style, bludgeoning blues riffage: it’s a trip to hear a woman singing this stuff. Ozzy, eat your heart out! Likewise, Taylor’s ominous harmonies max out the ethereal menace in the briskly pulsing, Blue Oyster Cult-ish Demons. It would make a good, heavier segue with, say, Burning For You. The album’s final cut is the title track, wryly making jangly psych-folk out of a very familiar Beatles theme before it rises toward Led Zep grandeur. One of the coolest things about this is that you can get it on cassette for the bargain price of $6.66. No joke.

Epic Psychedelic Grooves and a Williamsburg Show by Fly Golden Eagle

Nashville psychedelic band Fly Golden Eagle have two versions of their album Quartz. The first is an epic 26-track double album streaming at Bandcamp. The second, whittled down to a dozen tracks, maybe for lazy bloggers, is called Quartz Bijou. But the hell with laziness: this band’s put so much creative energy into making these songs, it’s only fair to give them a listen, right? The band is in the midst of a summer US tour (dates here), with a gig at Brooklyn Bowl on July 23 at 8 PM opening one of the year’s most bizarre triplebills. Cover is $15; it’s highly unlikely that you’ll want to stick around afterward for a generically pigsnorting death-metal act followed by the G-rated, squeaky-clean fauxgrass band after them. What was the booking agent here smoking when he put this bill together?

Other than the purist, oldschool production, the full album’s not-so-secret weapon is Mitch Jones’ organ: it gives the songs a surrreal, distantly sinister edge that a lot of retro psych bands go for but miss out on. Many of the songs have a shapeshifting, cinematic quality, which makes sense considering that the album ostensibly follows the trajectory of an obscure 70s film, The Holy Mountain, which was produced by Beatles manager Allen Klein and financed by John Lennon and George Harrison. The opening track, Can’t Leave You Alone is a scampering mid-60s garage rock vamp, like the Seeds with better production values. You Look Good to Me has an Afrobeat horn intro, rises from slinky hard funk to a summery early 70s stoner rock interlude and peaks out as ecstagic gospel-funk. They go back to a catchy reverbtoned psych-rock sway for Horse’s Mouth, with an organ-and-bass-fueled early 70s midwestern boogie passage at the end. Stepping Stone – an original, not the Monkees hit or a punked-out cover – makes Brian Jonestown Massacre-style psych out of a gospel-rock riff.

White Lighter hints at creepy desert rock before it hits a funk-tinged sway spiced by frontman Ben Trimble’s spiky, offcenter guitar riffage, then goes in more of a stoner soul direction. Nimble bassist Rick Alessio and drummer Richard Harper elevate the warm oldschool soul groove Monolith above the level of generic, then the band abruptly segues into the hard-edged, riff-rocking vignette Lotus Island.

Magic Steven goes back to the catchy 60s psych vibe, Alessio’s dancing, melodic lines intertwining with the organ, up to a noisy, atmospheric outro. Song for Aphrodite follows a slow, vampy Highway 61 blues tangent. Ronnie is arguably the catchiest and edgiest track so far, with its major-minor changes and big anthemic hooks. They follow that with West Minister College, a briskly pulsing, practically motorik groove straight out of an acid movie like The Trip.

Tangible Intangible is a swayingly hypnotic backbeat psych-soul groove, echoey keys trade glimmering shades with the guitar. The only hint that this wasn’t recorded in 1974 is the woozy low-register portamento synth solo. Heady Ways keeps the stoner groove going, but with a creepy blues feel over a fuzztone loop from Alessio. Machine Burger, a short, swirly, ambient instrumental follows that, then Medicine Hat, a mashup of C&W and vintage soul, a trippier take on what the Band was doing around that time – at least until they hit a smoky fuzztone break.

Boychild Ghost is a psychedelic take on lush late 60s soul-jazz, with another snarlingly terse fuzztone solo from Trimble. By now, the songs have grown longer and trippier, with a darker undercurrent probably to match the film: the soaring, pulsingly climactic gospel-soul theme Tehuacana is a prime example. The even more expansive Superior Circle builds troubled, echoey ambience around a pounding, early Who-influenced riff. After more swirly atmospherics, the band reacjes one of the album’s catchiest points with Couched in Twos: with less soulful, oldschool production values, it could be a Snoop Dogg backing track..

Alessio’s Motown bassline pushes The Death Myth against some unexpected polyrhythms and atmospherics, up to a jaggedly incisive Trimble solo. Double Vision has a stomping, minor-key Paint It Black drive. Sugar on My Tongue brings back the dark stoner soul, but also offers a seriously LOL moment midway through.

Walking On the Line is a Texas boogie as the 13th Floor Elevators might have done it. The Slider has an amped-up early 60s R&B feel that reminds of the early Pretty Things. Es Muss Sein has more of a bittersweet stoner soul groove, until it goes doublespeed and menacing. The untitled concluding track, the longest and fittingly strongest one here, follows a slow, slinky Country Joe & the Fish acid rock trajectory, plaintive guitar and keys echoing over funereal organ. To steal a phrase from the Cake Shop calendar, you made it to the end, yaay! What a fun album this was to listen to in the wee hours! One caveat: this is for smokers, not drinkers. Maintaining a reasonable pace, you’ll go through a magnum before Fly Golden Eagle’s magnum opus is over.

A Characteristically Rapturous Album and a Rare Outdoor Show by Magical Singer Kiran Ahluwalia

Singer Kiran Ahluwalia is one of the world’s great musical individualists. Her cool, clear, lustrous vocals are distinctive, blending the soaring peaks and hairpin-turn melismas of Indian music with the introspection of Pakistani ghazals. She’s carved out a niche for herself as a cross-pollinator, a woman of Indian extraction singing Pakistani and Malian melodies. Her latest album, Sanata: Stillness is streaming at Spotify, and she has a rare outdoor show on July 22 at 7 PM at Madison Square Park.

Ahluwalia’s not-so-secret weapon on the new album is her husband, guitarist Rez Abbasi, who does a one-man Tinariwen impersonation with his bristling pull-offs and spark-shedding, minutely nuanced, reverbtoned rhythm. That should come as no surprise, since Abbasi’s playing can be as protean as his wife’s vocals – and also because Ahluwalia featured Tinariwen on her previous album. The opening track sets the stage perfectly, an undulating, mystical Saharan groove, Ahluwalia’s Punjabi vocals sailing over her bandmates’ practically sinister low harmonies. Throughout the album, Nikku Nayar and Rich Brown take turns on bass, each contributing tersely tasteful low end. Nitin Mitta plays tabla, Mark Duggan alternates between vibraphone and percussion and Kiran Thakrar adds color with his harmonium.

Jaane Na – meaning “Nobody Knows” – is a scrambling, scurrying, funk-tinged number, a metaphorically-charged contemplation of personal demons and how to conquer them; it’s a lot closer to Abbasi’s brand of spiky guitar jazz than anything Ahluwalia has done up to this point. The guitarist’s meticulous multitracks give the the anthemic, subtly crescendoing title track – a wistful breakup ballad – a slow simmer. He grounds Tamana – an anthem for living with impunity – in nebulously jazz-tinged chords, matching Ahluwalia’s wary midrange and gentle melismatics.

Ahluwalia sings vocalese on Hum Dono, a minimalist progressive jazz sketch. The first of the two covers here is Jhoom, a qawwali drinking anthem reinvented as duskcore; the other is Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Lament, done as a psychedelic epic, part 90s trip-hop, part Pink Floyd.

Taskeen opens with a swirly harmonium improvisation and builds slowly and carefully, with judiciously biting Middle Eastern tings; it’s an original setting of a poem sbout not being jealous of your significant other’s past lovers. The last of the originals is the enigmatically fluttering, folk-rock tinged Qaza:

The truth of the heart has many doors
Some open some don’t
Don’t get lost in them

Who is the audience for this? Anyone who likes to get lost in the mystical sound of ghazals or hypnotic Saharan guitar bands, and for that matter anyone looking for a moment of elegant sonic serenity.


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