New York Music Daily

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Month: December, 2014

New York City Live Music Calendar for January and February 2015

The new calendar for Feb and March is here. There’s a comprehensive, recently updated list of places where these shows are happening at NY Music Daily’s sister blog Lucid Culture.

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.

Starting 1/20, 6:30-8:30 PM and continuing weekly on Tuesdays – February 3, 10 and 24 (skipping the 17th), Tamara Hey’s Alphabet City Music Workshop, Basic Theory 1 is a fantastic introductory course on music theory as it applies to songwriting, performing and writing charts. Classes are small and tailored to the needs of performing musicians, with lots of individualized attention. This blog attended the previous session: the work was intense, with a lot of material packed into a short time frame, but the lively debate and interaction in the class was great fun, definitely worth the $235 price (there are discounts for members of NSAI, SESAC and the NY Songwriters Collective as well as new members to the school’s email list). Classes meet at a convenient Astor Place location.

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. Thursday evenings at 7, a series of shows: the next ones are Jan 22 at 7 and Jan 25 at 4 featuring works b Mozart, Rameau, Ravel and Bach, sugg don $30 (pay what you can), delicious gluten-free refreshments, beverages and lively conversation included! email for info/location.

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 in January at Barbes hard-hitting oldschool latin soul groove band Spanglish Fly take over the 9:30 PM slot held for so many years by the now temporarily disbanded Chicha Libre. A hard act to follow, but if anybody can keep the party going, it’s this crew. Heavier on the salsa than the soul, with a charismatic new-ish frontwoman and the same kind of relevance the old boogaloo bands had back in the 60s.

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 in January, 10 PM noir guitar legend Jim Campilongo leads his trio at the small room at the Rockwood. Now you can go see him since the Living Room, that hellhole where he used to rehearse on Monday nights, is closed forever!

Also Mondays in January 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 January, 7 PM Ninth House‘s hotshot lead guitarist Keith Otten plays his own tuneful, Britrock-influenced sounds at Isle of Skye, 488 Driggs Ave (btwn N9th/N10th St.) in Williamsburg

Tuesdays in January 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 in January,  9 PM eclectic soul/Americana bandleader and excellent guitarist Miss Tess at Bar Chord

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.

Tuesdays at 10 PM in January jangly, smart rock/powerpop songwriter Rob Teter (of Romany jazz/blues band the Belleville Outfit) at Pete’s, presumably with his usual rotating cast of excellent Austin and ex-Austin players

Wednesdays in January, 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.

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.

The first Friday of the month, anytime between midnight and midnight you can download four songs from Kiam Records artists – like Jennifer O’Connor, Mascott and Tim Foljahn – for free.  Each month’s theme is different (previously they have tackled covers, colors and money)  December’s the fourth edition and a holiday theme.  Available to download only on Friday and then archived and streaming at Soundcloud.

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

Three Saturdays in January: Jan 3, 10 and 17 plus February 28 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 4 PM fun, hellraising booze-fueled acoustic Americana band Jumbo Brown at Skinny Dennis, 152 Metropolitan Ave. (next to Nitehawk Cinema), Williamsburg.

Sundays at 4:30 PM, 1/11 through 2/1 spectacularly eclectic viola virtuoso/composer Ljova plays with a revolving A-list cast including violinist Charlie Burnham, bassist Pablo Aslan, his other trio with Miki-Sophia Cloud & JP Jofre,  his wife and spectacular singer Inna Barmash’s Yiddish Lullabies & Love Songs project, and a new mystery project, at Silvana, free.

Sundays at 5 PM smart, politically-fueled Irish rocker Niall Connolly at LIC Bar

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 January, 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.

Sundays in January at 9 – check the Barbes calendar to make sure -Romany guitar genius Stephane Wrembel plays Barbes. He’s holding on to the edgy, danceable spirit of Django Reinhardt while taking the style to new and unexpected places like art-rock and post-Velvets noiserock. He’s also very popular: get there early.

1/1, 7 PM Americana/psychedelic guitar powerhouse Homeboy Steve Antonakos with Tim Heap followed by dark female-fronted new wave/punk band Ingrid & the Defectors at Bowery Electric, free

1/1, 7 PM elegantly tuneful bassist Iris Ornig leads a guitar-and-reeds quartet at 55 Bar

1/1, 8 PM ark, charismatic, mischieviously witty literate keyboardist/chanteuse Rachelle Garniez at Barbes. She’ll be gentle this time because she knows you’ll be in pain.

1/1, 8 PM powerpop/paisley underground guitar genius Chuck Prophet at City Winery, $20.

1/1-3, 8 PM and 1/4, 4 PM a rotating cast including pianist Ursula Oppens, multistylistic viola virtuoso Ljova, and the Horszowski Trio play new works by David Del Tredici, Annie Gosfield, Ljova Zhurbin himself and many others at Bargemusic, $35/$30 srs/$15 stud

1/2, 7:30 PM a great doublebill at Drom: accordionist/chanteuse Kamala Sankaram’s hot surfy Bollywood project, Bombay Rickey followed by awesome low-register original vintage-style Cuban groove band Gato Loco – with bass and baritone sax, baritone guitar, bass and drums, $10

1/2, 8 PM boisterously funny oldschool 60s C&W and brooding southwestern gothic with the Jack Grace Band at Hill Country Brooklyn

1/2, 8 PM sly, rustic late 20s style jug band/hokum blues crew Brotherhood of the Jug Band Blues at Branded Saloon

1/2, 9 PM creepy dark garage/punk soul band the Naked Heroes followed by the Motor City equivalent, more or less, the Detroit Cobras at Baby’s All Right, $20

1/2-3, 9/10:30 PM and 1/4, 8:30 PM it’s Jon Irabagon Fest at Cornelia St. Cafe, $10 + $10 minimum. You want assaultive? The saxophonist plays 1/2 with Mary Halvorson, guitar;  Nasheet Waits, drums. You want devious and unselfconsciously fun and swinging? 1/3 he’s with Mark Helias, bass;  Barry Altschul, drums. You want (gasp) lyrical? 1/4 with Luis Perdomo, piano;  Yasushi Nakamura, bass;  Rudy Royston, drums

1/2-3, 11 PM Gogol Bordello at Terminal 5, $35 adv tix rec. You know them, you love them – reggaeton lyricist Ana Tijoux opens the 1/2 show at 10.

1/3, 11 AM (in the morning), the Harlem Gospel Choir at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early (yawn) arrival advised – don’t worry, they’ll wake you up.

1/3, 7:30 PM pianist Kristin Samadi and guitarist Dan Keene play works by Beethoven, Mauro Giuliani and others at Spectrum, $15

1/3, 8 PM dark urbane Romany song maven (and Berthold Brecht descendant) Sanda Weigl and band followed at 10 by Mexican ranchera/bolero brass crew Banda de los Muertos at Barbes

1/3, 9 PM accordionist/chanteuse Kamala Sankaram’s hot surfy Bollywood project, Bombay Rickey at Tea Lounge in Park Slope.

1/3. 9:30 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

1/3, 10 PM the amazing Middle Eastern/Greek psychedelic sounds of the Byzan-Tones at Otto’s.

1/3, 11:30 PM intense, eclectic original Balkan clarinet/violin/oud/percussion quartet Sherita followed by the more jazz-oriented, clarinet-fueled and even more explosive NY Gypsy All-Stars at Drom, $10

1/3, 11 PM high-voltage Boston bluegrass/newgrass band Twisted Pine at the small room at the Rockwood. 1/6 there’s at Pete’s at 9

1/4, 7 PM brilliant violinist Dana Lyn‘s cinematic, oceanically-fixated, lively improvisaitonal Mother Octopus followed at 9 PM by Stephane Wrembel sparring partner and guitarist Roy Williams leading his own band the Bog Swing Group at Barbes playing similar Romany jazz along with western swing and other Americana.

1/4, 7 PM Cornelius Dufallo and Patrick Derivaz and probably special guests craft string-driven electroacoustic soundscapes at Spectrum, $15

1/4, 8 PM badass resonator guitarist and delta blues/oldtime hillbilly music maven Mamie Minch followed by ex-Dylan lead guitarist Larry Campbell with singer Teresa Williams at City Winery, $20 standing room avail.

1/4, 9 PM torchy, intense, literate, charismatic oldtimey ukelele siren/songwriter Kelli Rae Powell plays her final NYC show with her band and special guest Austin Hughes of M Shanghai String Band at the Jalopy, $10.

1/6, 7:30 PM purist oldschool Chicago-style blues guitarist Joe Louis Walker at B.B. King’s, $20 adv tix rec.

1/6 lyrical pianist and Mingus advocate Helen Sung leads a quintet with Seamus Blake – tenor saxophone; Mike Rodriguez – trumpet; Reuben Rogers – bass; Obed Calvaire – drums, 7:30/9:30 PM at the Jazz Standard, $20.

1/6, 8 PM bluegrass fiddle star Melody Allegra leads her band at Hill Country Brooklyn. She’s back there on 1/22.

1/6, 9 PM Que Vlo-Ve play classic Greek hash smoking music and criminal underworld narratives from the 20s and 30s at Barbes.

1/6, 10 PM alto saxophonist David Binney leads his quartet at 55 Bar.

1/7, 7 PM the show by Balinese shadow and mask dancer Sidarta with music by bass god Shahzad Ismaily and members of NYC’s very own mesmerizing, hypnotically pointillistic Balinese orchestra Gamelan Dharma Swara has been moved from the Poisson Rouge to a free performance at 1665 Norman St (Wyckoff/Cypress) in Ridgewood (L to Halsey St) due to “sluggish sales” – looks like the Poisson Rouge is more interested in promoting the Miley Cyrus cover band that plays there on the weekend

1/7, 8 PM dark, smart, edgy post-Velvet rock songwriter and former Band of Susans guitarist Anne Husick and band at Sidewalk

1/6, 8/10 PM pianist Matt Mitchell (of Dave Douglas’ band) leads a quartet at the Jazz Gallery, $15 first set, $10 second

1/7, 8:30ish PM the reliably ferocious, fun Balkan madness of Raya Brass Band followed by Underground System at Brooklyn Bowl, $7

1/7, 9:30 PM eclectic, paradigm-shifting B3 jazz organist Brian Charette with “the Well Tempered Quartet” – Spike Wilner (piano), Behn Gillece (viibes), and Anthony Pinciotti (drums) at Smalls. The next night 1/8 he’s at 55 Bar with the Mighty Grinders w/ Eric Kalb (drums) and Will Bernard (guitar) at 10.

1/7, 10 PM Pistolera frontwoman Sandra Lilia Velasquez’s torchy, slinky, psychedelic downtempo/trip-hop/art-pop band SLV at Shrine.

1/7 grittily tuneful, 3rd generation Stooges-influenced rockers Swanky Tiger, 11 PM at Bowery Electric $8

1/8 and 1/13, 7:30 PM, also 1/9-10 at 8 PM the NY Philharmonic play an especially awesome triplebill: Ravel’s Valses Nobles et Sentimentales, the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto and selections from Tschaikovsky’s Swan Lake at Avery Fisher Hall, $33 tix avail.

1/8, 7:30 PM prizewinning up-and-coming pianist Larry Weng plays works by Ives, Ravel, Horatio Parker and Aaron Jay Kernis at Subculture, $25.

1/8-11, 8 PM otherworldly, politially relevant vocal theatre company Carmina Slovenica perform their intense dance/choral drama Toxic Psalms, ”an open-ended collection of scenes by Hanne Blank, Veljo Tormis, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Karin Rehnquist, Jacob Cooper, Hafiz and Bronius Kutavicius,” at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Dumbo,  $25 seats avail.

1/8, 8 PM a show aptly titled “from Red Hook to the real Alaska” with Ken Waldman, Alaska’s fiddling poet, ex-Mamou Playboys Cajun fiddler David Greely, dance/harp duo Nic Gareiss & Maeve Gilchrist, multi-instrumentalist oldtime blues powerhouse Blind Boy Paxton, thoughtful newschool Americana songstress Kristin Andreassen and the Ray of Sun, Binghamton Americana quartet Milkweed, exhilarating 1800s style string band the Down Hill Strugglers, and rustic banjo/washboard duo Dubl Handi at the Jalopy, $10. The promoters say that “this lineup is on par with a strong international festival stage” and they’re right.

1/8. 8 PM global chanteuse and Leonard Cohen collaborator Perla Batalla  sings his songs followed at 9 by the electric, jazz-oriented, explosive NY Gypsy All-Stars at Drom, $10

1/8-11, 8/10 PM lyrical jazz pianist Kenny Werner leads a series of intimate small ensembles at the Stone.

1/8, 9ish this era’s version of Steve Earle, Joe Pug followed by wild stoner newgrass band the Devil Makes Three at Irving Plaza, $28.50.

1/8, 9 PM tuneful, hypnotic sometimes dreampop-infused tunesmithing, gorgeous vocals, wry lyrics: ex-Aquanettas guitarist/singer Debby Schwartz at Union Hall, $8.

1/8, 9:30 PM a pretty crazy night at Smalls with Steve Cardenas and Brandon Seabrook – guitars, Ben Allison – bass , Allison Miller – drums

1/8, 9 PM violinist and cinematic loopmusic composer Cameron Orr at the Way Station

1/8, 10 PM Daria Grace’s torchy, delightful oldtime uke swing band the Pre-War Ponies at Barbes

1/8, 10 PM slyly shapeshifting B3 organ paradigm-shifter Brian Charette and his trio at 55 Bar

1/8, 11 PM intense, inscrutable, wickedly literate janglerock tunesmith Ward White at Pete’s

1/9-10 Winter Jazzfest takes over the cheesy clubs along the Bleecker Street strip and turns them into classy if sardine-can crowded for a couple of nights. The full lineup and ticket deal is here: your best bet is the two-day pass for $55 .

1/9, 5:30ish smart, politically-fueled Irish rocker Niall Connolly at the American Folk Art Museum

1/9, 6 PM crystalline-voiced, noir-tinged third-stream jazz chanteuse Tessa Souter and her band at 55 Bar

1/9, 7 PM the annual Maqamfest – a showcase for cutting-edge sounds from across the Middle East, its diaspora and beyond – at Alwan for the Arts in the financial district with explosive Bulgarian reedman Yuri Yunakov, sitarist Ustad Ikhlaq Hussein Khan, agelessly soulful Armenian clarinetist Souren Baronian, haunting Bukharan Jewish ensemble Shasmaqam, Brian Prunka’s eclectic oud jazz outfit Nashaz, Syrian oudist Kinan Idnawi, paradigm-shifting trumpeter Amir ElSaffar & the Two Rivers Ensemble and the Alwan Arab Music Ensemble, who jam out classic themes from Egypt, Syria and Iraq, $30/$25 stud/srs

1/9, the booking agents are in town for the convention this weekend and consequently there are some amazing multi-act bills happening. Like this incredibly cheap one at Drom which is $10 and starts at  7 PM with David Buchbinder’s exhilarating Odessa/Havana Jewish jazz project followed at 8 by Elizabeth Shepherd – the Canadian Norah Jones – at 8, Ghanian roots reggae songwriter Rocky Dawuni at 9:30, the voice of the Garifuna people, Belize-based singer Aurelio at 10, French-Canadian latin/reggaeton crooner Boogat at 11, infectious Brazilian maracatu/funk/New Orleans/surf/country band Nation Beat at 11:45 and then smartly aware Montreal reggae/hip-hop crew Nomadic Massive at around 1 in the morning. The following night 1/10 Aurelio is at Joe’s Pub at 11:30 followed by wickedly cachy, darkly keyboard-driven Colombian psychedelic cumbia band MAKU Soundsystem.

1/9, 7 PM pensive rainy-day atmospherics with the Samara Lubelski-Marcia Bassett guitar duo at Baby’s All Right, $12. Followed at 9:30 ($15 separate admission) by a killer African twinbill with the Nubian grooves of Alsarah & the Nubatones and Ethiopiques icon Hailu Margia & Low Mentality.

1/9. 7:15 PM  dark psychedelic acoustic blues/klezmer/reggae/soca jamband Hazmat Modine at Terra Blues

1/9, 7:30 PM tuneful jazz pianist/composer Frank Kimbrough leads a trio at Smalls

1/9, 8 PM Raquel and Ray (guitar/keys and drums) from darkly shapeshifting paisley underground/psychedelic postpunk rockers Mesiko at Cake Shop; 1/12 they’re at Pete’s at 11.

1/9, 8 PM the violin/piano duo of Tricia Frasure and Caitlin Foster play new and 20th-century works by emerging composers Stephen Lilly, Matt Magerkurth, Zane Merritt, Carter John Rice, Ryan Woodhouse and Viola Yip, alongside pieces by Ives, Rzewski and Prokofiev at the Firehouse Space, $10

1/9, 9 PM stark, terse ex-Old Crow Medicine Show oldschool folk crooner/guitarist Willie Watson at Rough Trade, $12 adv tix rec

1/9, 9 PM edgy, tuneful klezmer-infused jazz with Uri Gurvich – saxophone; Asen Doykin – Fender Rhodes; Edward Perez – bass; Ronen Itzik – drums at the Whynot Jazz Room

1/9, 9:30ish rare noir big band jazz and cinematic themes from the 30s and 40s with Brian Carpenter’s Ghost Train Orchestra at Barbes.

1/9, 9:30 PM up-and-coming jazz chanteuse Natalie John leads a quintet playing the album release show for her new one at Shapeshifter Lab, $10

1/9, 10 PM hypnotic, psychedelic dulcimer/bass/drums instrumentalists House of Waters at the small room at the Rockwood

1/9. 10 PM Thunda Vida play roots reggae and dub at Shrine

1/9, 10:30 PM sick Dolly Parton cover band Doll Parts – who mix straight-up rock versions of her schlockiest 80s crap with acoustic covers of her country classics – at Sidewalk

1/9, 11 PM soaring, brilliant singer Magda Giannikou’s lush, sweeping, pan-Mediterranean art-rock/chamber pop/jazz group Banda Magda followed at midnight by the electric, jazz-oriented, explosive NY Gypsy All-Stars at the big room at the Rockwood, free

1/9, 11 PM high-energy acoustic oldtime Americana band the Woes at Pete’s

1/9, 11 PM edgy jazz violinist Scott Tixier leads a trio at Something Jazz Club, $15

1/10, 1 (one) PM kinetic jazz and avant garde-inspired postrock instrumentalists the Cellar & Point at the Apple Store in SoHo, 103 Prince St., free

1/10, 2 PM a gathering in defense of freedom of expression, in solidarity with the surviving staff of Charlie Hebdo, at Washington Square Park

1/10, 4 PM violinist Dana Lyn and guitarist Kyle Sanna jam out on Celtic themes followed at 5 by likemindedly eclectic improviser Matt Kanelos and then Vic Thrill of the Bogmen at 6 at Pete’s

1/10, 5 and 7 PM dancers from popular Indian classical dance troupe Nrityagram  perform to set to an original live score composed by Pandit Raghunath Panigrahi at the first-floor Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, free w/museum admin.

1/10, 6 PM eclectic third-stream jazz pianist Laila Biali followed at 7 by Tongues in Trees – vocalist Samita Sinha, drummer Sunny Jain of Red Baraat, and guitarist Grey McMurray from itsnotyouitsme and then at 8 by Dom Flemons of the Carolina Chocolate Drops at the small room at the Rockwood

1/10 will there be a better show in NYC this year? Probably not. At Drom, starting at 7:30, check out this unbelievable lineup: pan-latin revolutionary anthem singer/banddleader Ani Cordero , ten-piece Balkan/Duke Ellington brass band Slavic Soul Party, nine-piece original psychedelic Afrobeat dancehall monsters Zongo Junction, intoxicating LA noir psychedelic soul band Chicano Batman,  politically-fueled latino punk band Las Cafeteras, Ethiopiques keyboard legend Hailu Mergia & Low Mentality, a bit of a lull and then at around 1 AM Chop & Quench playing Fela classics and their own originals. Cover is ten measly bucks.

1/10, 7:30 PM anthemic, eclectic often haunting female-fronted Americana/acoustic funk/art-rock jamband the Sometime Boys at Hometown BBQ in Red Hook

1/10, 8 PM energetic acoustic Mexican folk-punk band Radio Jarocho followed at 9:30 by similarly influenced but funkier songwriter Rana Santacruz and then at 11 catchy, politically astute Mexican-American janglerockers Pistolera at 11 at Barbes.

1/10, 8 PM the Terry Dame Trio a.k.a. The Volar Portex with the irrepressible instrument inventor Terry Dame on her Dr. Seuss-like percussion instruments plua Jessica Lurie on sax and Chris Cochrane on guitar followed at 9 by pianist Gordon Beeferman with singer Dafna Natphtali at the Firehouse Space, $10

1/10, 8 PM a lute/guitar/bass version of pianist/flutist Diana Wayburn‘s hypnotically intense, spectacularly eclectic African/Middle Eastern/indie classical/improvisational Dances of the World Chamber Ensemble at the Shed Space, 366 6th Street (5th/6th Aves, entrance on 2nd floor up the stoop) Park Slope, Brooklyn

1/10, 9 PM a killer horn-fueled triplebill: John Brown’s Body trumpeter Sam Dechenne’s explosive, all-original Balkan Cocek Brass Band,  hip-hop oriented grooves with No BS! Brass Band and bouncy Afrobeat orchestra Emefe at Littlefield, $15

1/10, 9 PM Heights of Wisdom play African roots reggae at Shrine

1/10. 9:30 PM wickedly cachy, darkly keyboard-driven Colombian psychedelic cumbia band MAKU Soundsystem at Joe’s Pub, $15, Followed at 11:30 by Garifuna star Aurelio Martinez and band ($20 separate adm)

1/10, 10 PM oldschool Max’s Kansas City-style proto-punk rockers the New York Junk at Beast of Bourbon

1/10, 11 PM tuneful, pan-latin-influenced pianist Emilio Solla leads a killer quintet with accordionist Victor Prieto and saxophonist Chris Cheek at Something Jazz Club, $15

1/11, 11 AM (in the morning) a blazing klezmer/psychedelic cumbia/latin doublebill with Isle of Klezbos and Metropolitan Klezmer – who each have sensational live albums out – at City Winery, $10, kids free, no minimum.

1/11. 3 PM intriguing, intense, fun, lo-fi original punk blues resonator guitarist/singer Breanna Barbara Arneson at Palisades

1/11, 3 PM the North-South Chamber Orchestra with Lisa Hansen, flute; Jordan Dodson, guitar plays a half-dozen Robert Martin works inspired by the paintings of Arshile Gorky at aChrist & St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 120 W 69th St.(bet Bway & Columbus, free

1/11, 5:30/8:30 PM up-and-coming eclectic, purist jazz singer Brianna Thomas, with an interesting band: Sullivan Fortner, piano; Yasushi Nakamura, bass; John Davis, drums; Tivon Pennicott, sax at Minton’s, $10 at the bar/$20 at tables.

1/11, 6 PM noir guitar twangmeister Jim Campilongo and band at 55 Bar. Pianist David Kikoski leads a trio there later at 10

1/11, 7 PM a killer LA psychedelic latin rock twinbill with Las Cafeteras and Chicano Batman at Club Open (formerly SRB), 177 Second Avenue @ 14th St in Gowanus, $15

1/11 vibraphone powerhouse Stefon  Harris & Sonic Creed with James Francies – piano; Joshua Crumbly – bass; Jonathan Pinson – drums; Elena Pinderhughes – flute, vocals; Mike Moreno – guitar, 7:30/9:30 PM at the Jazz Standard, $20

1/11, 10:30 PM the well-named Well Tempered Quartet: Brian Charette – organ , Spike Wilner – piano , Behn Gillece – vibraphone , Anthony Pinciotti – drums at Smalls

1/11, 11 PM guitar-fueled postpunk/dreampop rockers Lazyeyes play the album release show for their new one at Baby’s All Right, $10

1/12, 6 PM tuneful pianist Jim Ridl leads his trio from behind the Fender Rhodes at 55 Bar

1/12, 8 PM at Smalls a quadruplebill of rarely heard French voices in jazz: alto saxophonist Pierrick Pedron leads a trio reinventing the Cure; Romany jazz guitar hellraisers Les Doigs de L’Homme join forces with accordion legend Marian Badoi; trumpeter Julien Alour leads a quintet inspired by a legendary/obscure Gore Vidal novel; saxophonist Olivier Boge, leading a quartet, and longtime Omer Avital sideman Yonatan Avishai, leading a trio, play after, $20 for the whole night

1/12, 8 PM Marta Hernández (aka Mar Salá) plays her acoustic flamenco rock at Pete’s

1/12, 9 PM pianist Orrin Evans‘ fearsomely majestic, shapeshiftingly epic Captain Black Big Band at Smoke, bar seats avail if you get there early enough They’re also here on 1/19 and 1/26.

1/12, 9/10 PM the perennially adventurous Del Sol String Quartet play works from their latest  album Peter Sculthorpe: The Complete String Quartets with Didjeridu at Cornelia St. Cafe.

1/13, 7 PM tuneful, edgy Texas tenor saxophonist Stan Killian and his quartet at 55 Bar

1/13, 7 PM dynamic, often haunting Balkan band the G String Orchestra  followed at 9 by explosive, wryly eclectic, Ellington/hip-hop influenced Balkan brass band Slavic Soul Party at Barbes.

1/13, 7/9 PM B3 organist Mike LeDonne‘s Groover Quartet with Eric Alexander [tenor saxophone], Mark Whitfield [guitar], Willie Jones III [drums] at Smoke, bar seats avail if you get there early enough. They’re also here on 1/20

1/13-14 bass and oud innovator Omer Avital leads a quintet with Joel Frahm – tenor saxophone; Michael Rodriguez – trumpet; Yonathan Avishai – piano; Daniel Freedman – drums, 7:30/9:30 PM at the Jazz Standard, $20.

1/13, 7:30 PM new music piano luminary Lisa Moore plays an all-Philip Glass program at le Poisson Rouge, $15 adv tix rec.

1/13, 8 PM one of this era’s greatest Americana songwriters and also one of the most shattering singers in any style, from classical to country, Mary Lee Kortes – whose cover album of Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks is a genuine classic – at Concert Window, watch from your laptop, pay what you want! 1/20, 7 PM she’s at the big room at the Rockwood, $12

1/13, 8 PM Middle Eastern/Central Asian/jazz jamband TriBeCaStan, haunting all-female Bulgarian vocal choir Black Sea Hotel and elegant, sardonic art-rock pianist/bandleader Eve Lesov at Drom, $10.

1/13-14, 8 PM NOVUS NY and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street perform Ellen Reid‘s southern gothic choral opera Winter’s Child – sort of a mashup of the Virgin Suicides and the Adam & Eve myth – at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown, $20.

1/13-18, 8/10:30 PM Ramsey Lewis celebrates the 50th anniversary of his iconic album The In Crowd at the Blue Note, $30 standing room avail.

1/13-18, 8:30/10:30 PM lyrical jazz piano icon Fred Hersch leads a quartet with saxophonist Mark Turner, trumpeter Ralph Alessi-tpt, and his usual rhythm section of bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson at the Vanguard, $25. He then plays a solo piano stand here 1/20-25.

1/13, 9 PM thoughtful newschool Americana songstress Kristin Andreassen followed eventually at midnight by eclectic, funky, compelling jazz violinist Zach Brock at the small room at the Rockwood

1/13, 9:30 PM saxophone powerhouse Lucas Pino‘s two-guitar No No Nonet at Smalls.

1/13, 10 PM Occitane chanteuse Fada a.k.a. Eleonore Weill sings classic oldschool French chanson and originals at the Way Station

1/13, 10:30 PM Cumbre Vieja, who alternate between kick-ass classic 70s stoner metal and riff-rock, and less interesting 90s sounds, at Arlene’s, $8

1/14-17, 7:30 PM (with a 10 PM show on 1/15 and a 2 PM show on the 17th in addition) hauntingly atmospheric, hypnotic Korean-American composer/performer Bora Yoon plays and sings from her brilliant new album Sunken Cathedral, “tracing a musical and archetypal journey through the subconscious” at LaMama, $25.

1/14, 7:30 PM pianist Weiyin Chen plays Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34 with the Miró Quartet, who play the composer’s String Quartet, Op. 51, No2 in A Minor and Quartet in C minor, Op. 60  at Subculture. The following night there, 1/15 at 7:30 PM they join the American Modern Ensemble, JACK Quartet, PUBLIQuartet and conductor Delta David Gier for an evening of world premieres from Jacob Bancks, Sidney Boquiren and Robert Paterson plus music by Chinary Ung, Jessie Montgomery, John Zorn and John Luther Adams, $20 adv tix rec.

1/14, 8 PM a night of adventurous experimentation under an edgy jazz rubric with Joe Moffett, Brad Henkel, Sophie Delphis, and Mariel Berger at Panoply Performance Lab in Bushwick

1/14, 9 PM bracing Macedonian band Odglasi, the exhilaratingly trippy Choban Elektrik, who make guitar and organ-fueled psychedelia out of haunting Balkan themes, brass-fueled Ornamatik and Tom Waits-influenced blues-rockers the Darrin James Band at Muchmore’s, $10

1/14, 9 PM tuneful up-and-coming hotshot jazz pianist Christian Sands in a rare duo show with bassist Ben Williams at Mezzrow, $25. Sands is here with Noah Jackson on the four-string on 1/15.

1/14, 9:30 PM Bobtown – arguably the best, most eclectic and inarguably the most harmonically rich folk noir group around – play the album release show for their new one A History of Ghosts at Hill Country.

1/14, 9:30 PM atmospheric, acerbically witty jazz/downtempo saxophonist Ilhan Ersahin‘s Istanbul Sessions at Drom, $15 adv tix rec

1/14, 10 PM charismatic, sultry, torchy Americana songwriter/chanteuse Julia Haltigan and her fiery band at Union Pool

1/14, 11 PM guitarslinger Hugo G – whose darkly hypnotic, politically aware originals are a smart, original update on the slowly unwinding Texas blues pioneered by Lightning Hopkins in the 30s and 40s – at the small room at the Rockwood

1/15, 6 PM cleverly lyrical, edgily funny, spine-tingling powerpop/acoustic rock singer Tamara Hey at the small room at the Rockwood .

1/15, 7 PM a rare early evening show by careening soulpunk/psychedelic band Clear Plastic Masks at Baby’s All Right, $10. Be aware that their previous Williamsburg show sold out.

1/15-18 purist, terse pianist Aaron Goldberg leads a trio with Reuben Rogers – bass; Eric Harland – drums, 7:30/9:30 PM at the Jazz Standard, $20.

1/15, 7:30 PM American Modern Ensemble play world premieres from Jacob Bancks, Sidney Boquiren and Robert Paterson, plus the Del Sol String Quartet playing Chinary Ung’s tribute to victims of Cambonian genocide, Spiral X “In Memoriam” (performed by San Fran-based Del Sol), the PUBLIQuartet play Jessie Montgomery’s Breakaway; the Jack Quartet play John Zorn’s The Dead Man and close with all the players performing Dream in White on White by John Luther Adams at Subculture, $20 adv tix a must

1/15, 8 PM virtuoso cinematic psychedelic/western swing steel guitar player Raphael McGregor leads his eclectic band at Freddy’s

1/15, 8 PM steel pan pioneer Ian Williams with Mantra Percussion at the World Financial Center atrium, free. Mantra Percussion return there the following night, 1/16 with works by Wet Ink Ensemble’s Sam Pluta, Alex Mincek and Eric Wubbels.

1/15, 8 PM a solid Americana triplebill: the amusing mandolin/fiddle duo of Mike Barnett and Jacob Jolliff, oldtimey string band Barefoot & Bankside and outlaw country duo North of Nashville at Union Hall, $10

1/15, 8:30 PM psychedelic powerpop/new wave rocker Mike Rimbaud plays the album release for his characteristically tuneful, snarling, politically smart, Elvis Costello-esque new one Put That Dream in Your Pipe at Bowery Electric

1/15, 9 PM edgy, intense, innovative Syrian and Argentine sounds; a killer doublebill and a good segue from clarinetist Kinan Azmeh‘s CityBand to bandoneon monster JP Jofre‘s Hard Tango Chamber Band at Drom, $15 adv tix rec.

1/15, 9 PM slyly humorous urban country bandleader Alex Battles followed by catchy oldtimey all-female string band the Calamity Janes at the Jalopy, $10

1/15, 10 PM hard-rocking Balkan band Tipsy Oxcart at followed at 11 by the similarly energetic, more trad Ornamatik at Barbes – fresh from Golden Festival and not out of gas yet!

1/15. 10 PM explosive guitar-fueled art-rock jamband Wounded Buffalo Theory at Fontana’s, $10

1/15, 10 PM brilliantly lyrical dark oldtimey songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Pete Lanctot and band at Pete’s. No, he doesn’t own the place.

1/15, midnight, noir-inspired alto saxophonist/composer Nick Hempton leads a quartet with  Dan Aran – drums , Jeremy Manasia – piano , Dave Baron – bass at Smalls

1/15, 10 PM Certain General guitarslinger Phil Gammage‘s noirish Adventures in Bluesland project at Shrine.

1/16, 6 PM edgy tenor saxophonist Tom Tallitsch leads a quaret at the Garage, free

1/16, 7 PM Ensemble Chartreuse plays new chamber works for string trio and winds by Katherine Young and David Bird, an electroacoustic piece by Ryan Pratt, plus “as a family of civilian ghosts phase-shifts through the fog lights” by Kurt Spectrum, $15. Followed at 9 by Judith Berkson playing new microtonal music for piano and voice

1/16, 7:30 PM it’s Golden Festival, the wildest Balkan music extravaganza anywhere west of the Danube, at Grand Prospect Hall, 263 Prospect Ave. in Park Slope, lineup tba,  $35/$30 studs.

1/16, 8 PM theatrical traditional Korean dance/music ensemble Norian Maro at Flushing town Hall free but rsvp reqd

1/16, 8 PM a wickedly tuneful improvisational trio: Fabian Almazan – piano; Ryan Ferreira – guitar; Chris Dingman – vibes at I-Beam, $15

1/16, 8/10 PM lyrical pianist Glenn Zaleski leads a trio at the Jazz Gallery, $22

1/16, 8 PM tuneful, anthemic Americana rockers the Cornell Bros. at the Way Station

1/16-17, 9 PM a rare duo show by cerebrally tuneful pianist Orrin Evans with bassist Vicente Archer at Mezzrow, $25

1/16, 9:30 PM two intense female-fronted bands: soul-inspired rockers Bethany St. Smith & the Gun Show and diverse, often haunting original Americana/acoustic funk/art-rock jamband the Sometime Boys at Fontana’s, $10

1/16, 9:30 PM jazz chanteuse Stacy Sullivan with musical director/pianist Jon Weber – who succeeded Marian McPartland as host of NPR’s Piano Jazz – play a tribute to McPartland with songs from Ellington to Peggy Lee at the Metropolitan Room, 34 W 22nd St, $25 plus 2 drink min.

1/16, 10 PM Ruby Rae of the Ex-Debutantes plays her Nashville gothic songs at Freddy’s.

1/16, 10:30 PM noir chanteuse Kerry Kennedy’s aptly titled, intense Americana/paisley underground band Ghostwise followed eventualy at midnight by hilarious faux-French rockers les Sans Culottes – whose new album Les Dieux Ont Soif is both great fun and potently relevant – at Muchmore’s, $tba

1/16, 11 PM fiery Canadian gothic rocker Lorraine Leckie and her psychedelic band with Hugh Pool on lead guitar at Sidewalk.

1/17, 2 (two) PM this blog’s new favorite songwriter, unselfconsciously haunting, richly lyrical great plains folk noir chanteuse Ember Schrag – whose recent adventures in dark psychedelic rock have been auspicious – followed by smart purist oldtime blues/Americana resonator guitarist Zeke Healey at Union Pool

1/17, 7 PM cult favorite Irish chamber pop crooner Pierce Turner – the missing link between the Pogues and the Moody Blues – at Joe’s Pub, $25

1/17, 7:30 PM Taylor Ward, voice; Arash Noori, guitar; and Doug Perry, percussion perform a diverse program “from the roots of Spanish song to George Crumb’s Spanish Songbook I: Ghosts of Alhambra, and from the beginnings of French and English lute song” at St. Peter’s Church, 54th/Lex, free

1/17, 8 PM Pierre de Gaillande’s Bad Reputation plays witty chamber pop English translations of Georges Brassens classics at Barbes.followed at 10 by mighty Indian funk band Brooklyn Qawwali Party.

1/17, 8 PM string trio Ensemble Chartreuse – Myra Hinrichs (violin), Carrie Frey (viola), and Helen Newby (cello) – double their size by adding a trio of winds and play intriguing new works by David Bird and Katherine Young at the Firehouse Space, $10

1/17, 8 PM, repeating on 1/18 at 4 PM Mark Peskanov, violin; Nicholas Tzavaras, cello; Olga Vinokur, piano play Haydn Piano Trio No. 41 in E-flat minor, Hob.XV:31, “Jacob’s Dream;” Shostakovich Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 67; Beethoven Piano Trio in E-flat Major, Op. 70, No. 2 at Bargemusic, $35/$30 srs/$15 stud

1/17, 8 PM new William Parker works performed by five improvising musicians Daniel Carter, Joe McPhee, Hamid Drake, Cooper Moore and Parker himself on bass plus a vocal ensemble featuring Fay Victor, Kyoko Kitamura and Anais Maviel at Roulette, $25

1/17, 9 PM smart, shapeshiftingly tuneful cinematic punks the Brooklyn What have organized a benefit for Ferguson, MO at the Gutter in Williamsburg; it’s a Lou Reed/VU tribute night  with a whole slew of bands including Jeff Lewis, 60s folk legend Peter Stampfel, No One and The Somebodys, Ghospal, the Planes, Electric People, Old Table and possibly  more.

1/17, 9 PM smart, anthemic, golden age-style roots reggae songwriter/bandleader Taj Weekes at the Knitting Factory, $12

1/17, 10 PM powerhouse bassist Dawn Drake & Zapote playing their groovalicious funk and Afrobeat-influenced bounce at the Way Station

1/18, 2 PM two Japanese theatre pieces by koto player Kento Iwasaki and Cris Ryan: the otherworldly “Moon Princess Song Cycle,” sung by soprano-piano duo Sara Heaton and Akiko Sasaki, plus Beloved Prey, a” portable opera” in English, about a lioness who adopts a baby antelope and the antelope’s mom, faced with the challenge of rescuing her child, at Flushing Town Hall, free

1/18, 2 PM the Distinguished Concerts Orchestra & Singers International play a Pan-American program including the New York premiere of Argentinian composer Martin Palmeri’s Misa A Buenos Aires plus a solo tango and flamenco dance performance by the Tierra Adentro de Nuevo Mexico Dance Ensemble at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, $20 tix avail. The ensemble return the following night, 1/19 at 7 PM peforming music of Welsh composer Karl Jenkins

1/18, 3 PM the Budapest Festival Orchestra play Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 plus works by the Mendelssohns (Felix and Fanny) at Avery Fisher Hall, $35 tix avail. They’re also here at 1/21 at 8 playing Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 and works by Mozart, same price.

1/18, 4 PM the Enso String Quartet play Haydn’s String Quartet in G Minor, Op.76, No. 1; Janacek’s ‘Kreutzer Sonata’ and works by Puccini and Verdi at the Dreck Center at the Brooklyn Public Library, free, no under-sixes.

1/18, 4 PM Erica Gould’s classical theatre piece More Between Heaven and Earth, a site-specific drama based on the letters of Thomas Jefferson and his singer/mistress/muse Maria Cosway, starring Jonathan Cake, Melissa Errico, and Kathleen Chalfant and featuring music of Corelli, Cosway, Hewitt, and Sacchini at Fraunces Tavern Museum in the financial district (where Jefferson reputedly wrote some of those letters), $35.

1/18, 5 PM a crazy post-Golden Fest Balkan party with the brass-stoked Cocek Nation, Moldovan accordionist Sergiu Popa‘s Balkan Camp Reunion Band, Macedonian group Odglasi, Pontic Firebird playing their Greek Black Sea repertoire and kick-ass zurna-fueled Turkish band MWE at Drom, $10/$5 with a Golden Fest ticket

1/18. 5 PM the Daedalus String Quartet play works by Schumann and Sibelius at the Lounge at Hudson View Gardens, 128 Pinehurst Ave at 183rd St., $12 sugg don, reception to follow.

1/18, 5:30/8:30 PM powerhouse pianist Christian Sands – of Christian McBride’s band -leads his trio at Minton’s, $10 at the bar/$20 at tables

1/18, 7 PM legendary Piedmont blues guitarist Larry Johnson at Terra Blues. He’s also here on 1/25

1/18, 7:30 PM the world’s most interesting string quintet, Sybarite5 play works by Radiohead (from their Radiohead covers album) plus Taraf de Haidouks: Astor Piazzolla, Jessica Meyer, Dan Visconti and others along with Armenian folk songs at Subculture, $20 adv tix highly rec.

1/18, 10:30 PM catchy, propulsive, rippling posbop grooves with Ken Fowser – tenor sax , Behn Gillece – vibraphone , Jeremy Manasia – piano , Joseph Lepore – bass , Charles Ruggiero – drums  at Smalls

1/19, 7:30 PM dark, sardonic, brilliantly tuneful jazz pianist Danny Fox and his Trio at Smalls

1/19, 8 PM high-voltage oldschool 60s-style soul/funk band the Revelations at the Blue Note, $10

1/19, 11 PM Joseph West and band play morosely catchy, lyrical John Prine-ish country-folk at the Way Station

1/20, 7 PM a rare guitar/baritone sax duo show: Russell Malone and Joe Temperley playing Ellington, wow, at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, $20

1/20, 7:30 PM the pyrotechnic, all-star Kleztraphobix with Mike Cohen, Jordan Hirsch, Pesachya Septimuss at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, 30 W. 68th St, $15

1/20-25, 8/10 PM state-of-the-art jazz pianist Vijay Iyer leads a series of groups at the Stone, $20. Choice picks: the late set on 1/23 with an octet with two basses and Mat Maneri on viola, and the early show on 1/25, a duet with Wadada Leo Smith. 3 words: get there early.

1/20, 9/10:30 PM alto sax powerhouse Miguel Zenon plays duets with pianist Dan Tepfer at Mezzrow, $25

1/20, 9:50 PM (will you really miss a song if you show up at 9:53?) psychedelically tinged female-fronted electric blues band the Hurt Project play Chicago classics and their own guitar-and-organ-fueled originals at the Delancey, $10

1/21. 7 PM sitar player Ikhlaq Hussain plays classic North Indian ragas at the Rubin Museum of Art, $25

1/21, 7 PM classical guitarist Jason Vieaux plays music of Albeniz and legendary early 19th century composer/guitarist Mauro Giuliani at P.S. 321’s Auditorium, 180 7th Ave. in Park Slope, $15

1/21, 7:30 PM deviously fun cabaret/chamber pop chanteuse Grace McLean & Them Apples , popular if controversial Americana band David Mayfield Parade and a bunch of twee trendoid losers at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised.

1/21, 8 PM ludicrously bad segues, good triplebill: flamenco/Middle Eastern rocker Khaled Dajani and band followed at 9 by terse, purist cool-voiced Americana singer Vienna D’Amato Hall and then hypnotic ambient soundscape project Letters to Nepal at the Way Station

1/21, 9 PM vicious noiserock jamband the the Skull Practitioners– led by Steve Wynn sparring partner/genius guitarist Jason Victor – at Bowery Electric, $8

1/21, 10:30 PM  eclectic, tuneful pastoral jazz/cinematic violinist-composer Skye Steele with Nate Wood and Masu  at Littlefield, $10

1/22, 7 PM Barbes’ first annual oud festival featuring “featuring some of the best American oud players in the city” – Brandon Terzic, Brian Prunka, Mavrothi Kontanis, Kane Mathis, Adam Good and Tom Chess – wow!

1/22, 7:30 PM the Calidore String Quartet play works by Mozart, Caroline Shaw and Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13 at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised

1/22, 7:30 PM and 1/23-24, 8 PM the NY Philharmonic plays a Chen Qigang NY premiere, the Mozart Horn Concerto No. 4 and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 at Avery Fisher Hall, $33 tix avail.

1/22, 7:30 sprawling guitar-and-keys-driven psychedelic funk band Allies at the Delancey $8

1/22, 8 PM a rare NYC show by Argentine tango composer/singer/bandoneonist Josefina Rozenwasser – leader of pan-Latin band Tia Juanita – at Shrine

1/22, 8 PM dark and possibly savagely bluesy improvisation: Joe Morris, electric guitar; Mat Maneri, viola; Chris Lightcap, double-bass; Gerald Cleaver, drums at Greenwich House Music School, 46 Barrow St. in the west village, $15/$12 stud/srs

1/22, 8:30 PM Dervisi feat. guitar god Steve Antonakos play “exotic Greek gangsta blues” at Espresso 77, 35-57 77th Street, Jackson Hts., free.

1/22, 8:30 PM Cajun party hellraisers the Lost Bayou Ramblers at le Poisson Rouge, $10

1/22, 9 PM balmy, sardonically individualistic vocal jazz stylist Dorian Devins and her trio at Bar Thalia adjacent to Symphony Space, free

1/22, 10 PM Dahlia Dumont and her accordion-bass Trio Du Monde sing original ska, reggae, tango and French chanson at Pete’s

1/23, 8 PM accordionist/chanteuse Kamala Sankaram’s hot surfy Bollywood project, Bombay Rickey followed by the rambunctious oldtime Baby Soda Jazz Band at Barbes

1/23, 8 PM darkly sardonic art-rock pianist Eve Lesov at the Way Station

1/24, 8 PM popular lyrical jazz pianist Renee Rosnes with an interesting quartet: Steve Nelson, vibraphone; Peter Washington, bass; Bill Stewart, drums at the Miller Theatre, $20 tix avail.

1/24, 7 PM dark intense lyrical rocker LJ Murphy and his unstoppable noir band at Sidewalk

1/24, 7:30 PM individualistic, witty pianist Jean-Michel Pilc improvises with Petros Klampanis on bass and Gilad Hekselman on guitar at Shapeshifter Lab, $10

1/24, 8 PM spellbinding oud virtuoso George Ziadeh backed by kanun and string quartet performing classic Arab-Islamic poetry (Khayamm’s Rubiyat, and Tarjuman al Ashwaq by Ibn Al Arabi)  at Alwan for the Arts, $25/$15 stud/srs

1/24, 8/10 PM saxophonist Mario Castro leads a nonet (quintet plus string quartet!) at the Jazz Gallery, $22

1/24, 8 PM the St. Lawrence String Quartet plays two Haydn quartets and a NY premiere by Jonathan Berger at the DiMenna Center, 450 W 37th St., $25

1/24, 10 PM the most monstrously creepy noir twang instrumental band on the planet, Big Lazy – whose latest album was rated best of 2014 here – at Barbes

1/24, 10 PM fuzztone garage rock monsters the Mystery Lights at the Knitting Factory, $10

1/24, 10 PM hellraising rockabilly chanteuse/bassist Little Lesley & the Bloodshots at the Way Station

1/25, 11 AM (in the morning) up-and-coming duo Paul Huang, violin and Jessica Xylina Osborne, piano play works byJanácek, Sibelius, Sarasate and Grieg at Walter Reade Theatre, 165 W. 65th St, in the Lincoln Center complex, $22 adv tix req., these morning shows frequently sell out

1/25, 4 PM early music luminaries Pomerium perform music by Isaac, Josquin, Senfl, Gombert, and Crecquillon written for the Augsburg Empire at Corpus Christi Church, 529 W 121st St, $10 seats avail.

1/25, 4 PM baroque chamber quartet Ensemble Leonarda with Lauren Alfano, soprano perform early French music: Monteclair’s cantata, “Pan et Syrinx” (because love is not all it’s cracked up to be…) plus works by Boismortier, Barriere, and Couperin at the French Church du St. Esprit, 109 E. 60th Street (betw. Park and Lex, $25/$15 stud/srs

1/25, 5 PM creepy noir chamber pop/murder ballad duo Charming Disaster play a show streaming at Concert Window, pay what you want, 1/27 at 8 they’re at Silvana

1/25, 5:30/8:30 PM jazz harpist Brandee Younger – this generation’s counterpart to Dorothy Ashby – leads her quintet with Rashaan Carter, bass; E.J. Strickland, drums; Chelsea Baratz, tenor sax at Minton’s, $10 at the bar/$20 at tables

1/25, 6 PM accordion powerhouse Ismael Butera‘s Velvet Jubilee play”blues ballads, cajun and spicy southern tunes” at Silvana

1/25, 8 PM a rare Jersey City house concert by sharply lyrical, sometimes uproariousl amusing purist janglerock songwriter Sharon Goldman with fellow tunesmiths Karyn Oliver and Meg Braun, email for info/location

1/26, 7 PM pianists Nina Schumann and Luis Magalhães play works for four hands by Mozart, Brahms, Debussy, Rachmaninoff and Ravel at the Bulgarian Consulate, 121 E 62nd St, 2nd Floor, free

1/26, 7:30 PM pianist Michael Riesman and violinist Chase Spruill play “works from the bloodiest film scores by Philip Glass” at le Poisson Rouge, $15 adv tix req.

1/26, 7:30 PM – 100 years ago Claude Debussy began a project of six large-scale sonatas for “diverse instruments” but completed only three before his death in 1918. Three contemporary composers – Thomas Adès, Marc-Andre Dalbavie and Libby Larsen – completed those six final large-scale works; a stellar eleven-piece chamber ensemble plays them along with the three that Debussy himself finished, in a world premiere at Advent/ Broadway Church, 2504 Broadway at 93rd St., free

1/26, 8 PM site-specific, arttfully orchestrated new works by Jakub Ciupinski, Chris Cerrone and Ricardo Romaneiro at the American Irish Historical Society,  991 5th Ave (80/81) $30/$20 stud. Chamber ensembles playing echoey music throughout the several stories and rooms of a Gilded Age NYC townhouse, amplified by an electronic component. You want trippy?

1/26, 8 PM oboeist Ian Shafer with the Voxare String Quartet premiere Mohammed Fairouz’s cinematic new suite, Locales – portraits of Beirut, Dubai, Paris, London and NYC – along with works by works for oboe and strings by Mozart, Britten, and Barber at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall

1/26, 8 PM eclectic, vivid jazz cellist/singer Marika Hughes & Bottom Heavy at the Blue Note

1/26, 9 PM perennially smart, tuneful Texas Americana/rockabilly guitarslinger Rosie Flores at Hill Country

1/26, 9 PM hilariously bad segue, good twinbill: purist, clear-voiced front-porch folk songstress Cara Scarmack followed at 10 by Czech jazz guitarslinger Martina Fiserova at the Way Station

1/27, drinks at 5:30 PM, show at 6, Vicky Chow, piano; Jennifer Choi, violin;Michael Nicolas, cello play trios by John Zorn at the Miller Theatre, free

1/27, 7:30 PM the oldschool purist intense clarinet-and-accordion klezmer Ken Maltz/Sy Kushner Duo at the Steven Wise Free Synagogue, 30 W 68th St., $15

1/27-31 the eleven-piece Chris Potter Underground Orchestra – including a five-piece string section! -7:30/9:30 PM at the Jazz Standard, $20

1/27-2/1 intense singer/oudist Basya Schecter of anthemic Middle Eastern groove band Pharaoh’s Daughter leads a series of bands at the Stone, $15. Choice pick: the 1/29. 10 PM show with singer Eden Perlstein and pyrotechnic kanun player Tamer Pinarbasi

1/27-2/1, 8:30/10:30 PM the reliably sweeping, melodic Vanguard Jazz Orchestra celebrate 49 years in business on their home turf, $25. They’ve also got a killer new album of Bob Brookmeyer tunes just out.

1/27, 9 PM harmony-driven folk noir trio Doll Magdalene – sort of a minor league Bobtown – followed eventually at 11 by the Doolittle Family playing their jangly mix of 60s Laurel Canyon psych-pop and country at the Way Station

1/27, 9:30 PM trumpeter Josh Evans leads 15-piece his big band at Smalls – a good choice if you don’t want to fight the crowds at the Vanguard.

1/27 a killer triplebill with 70s Britrock/art-rock maven Edward Rogers, Britfolk legend John Ford (ex-Strawbs) and blue-eyed soul songwriter/guitarist Don Piper at Bowery Electric.

1/28, 7 PM poignant, eclectic Yiddish singer and songwriter Miryem-Khaye Seigel plays the album release show for her new one Toyznt Tamen = A Thousand Flavors with a killer klezmer band at the Eldridge Street Synagogue, $20/$15 stud/srs

1/28, 7 PM otherworldly Tibetan chanteuse Yungchen Lhamo and band at Symphony Space, $30/$20 stud/srs.

1/28, 7:30 PM the MSM Jazz Orchestra with alto saxophonist Dave Liebman plays a tribute to Wayne Shorter’s 1960s compositions at Borden Auditorum at Manhattan School of Music, free

1/28-29, 7:30 PM and 1/31 at 8 pianist Emmanuel Ax with the NY Philharmonic play Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise plus works by Chopin, Stravinsky and Bartok at Avery Fisher Hall, $30 tix avail.

1/28, 8 PM Big Eyed Rabbit – Ross Martin – guitar, Max Johnson – bass, Jeff Davis – drums.- make electric free jazz out of old bluegrass themes at Barbes

1/28, 8:30 PM tuneful, purist classic pop maven Elisa Peimer at the Delancey, $10

1/28. 9 PM accordionist Eva Zollner plays classical works by Christian Wolff, Rebecca Saunders,Carl Bettendorf, Georgia Debrez, Knut Muller and Bent Sorensen at Spectrum, $15

1/29, 7:30 PM dynamic, intense cellist Maya Beiser plays works by Hildegard von Bingen, Gershwin, Eve Beglarian, the U.S. premiere of Rest These Hands by Anna Clyne, Byzantine chant arranged by Aleksandra Vrebalov, and Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece at the Jewish Museum, 5th Ave./92nd St. (enter on 92nd), $18/$15 stud/srs

1/29, 7:30 PM allstar indie classical pianist Sarah Cahill plays an all Terry Riley program at le Poisson Rouge, $15 adv tix req.

1/29, 7:30 PM LA noir soul/Nashville gothic pop band Spain at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival very highly advised. 2/3 they’re at Rough Trade.

1/29, 8 PM lushly sweeping, cutting-edge vocal jazz like you’ve never heard it before: Sara Serpa, vocals; Andre Matos, electric guitar; Thomas Morgan, double-bass; Tyshawn Sorey, drums, plus three-part choir at Greenwich House Music School, 46 Barrow St. in the west village, $15/$12 stud/srs

1/29, 8 PM violin duo String Noise – Pauline Kim Harris and Conrad Harris play new works by Bernhard Lang, Petr Bakla, Spencer Topel, Dan Siegler; Montreal’s Bozzini Quartet perform works by Canadian composers Nicole Lizée and Martin Arnold, as well as James Tenney’s Koan For String Quartet at Roulette, $20/$15 stud/srs

1/29, 8:30 PM bluegrass night at the Jalopy with the Kings County Cut Ups followed by an allstar lineup of Elio Schiavo, Grant Gordy, Rob Hecht, James Genus & Ellery Marshall, $10

1/29, 8:30 PM pianist Karl Larson (of Bearthoven) premieres pieces by Robert Honstein and David Lang at Spectrum, $15

1/29, 9 PM haunting, dusky, jangly southwestern gothic rock band And the Wiremen at Troost, 1011 Manhattan Ave, Greenpoint

1/29, 9 PM the Kings County Ramblers play bluegrass followed by crepuscular, lo-fi, intense blues guitarist/singer Breanna Barbara Arneson – this blog has never seen her, so whoever told her that New York Music Daily said that her live show was whatever is pulling her leg.

1/29, 9:15 PM the Nat Osborn Band – whose wry piano-based New Orleans sounds come across somewhere in between Dr. John and Brother Joscephus – at the big room at the Rockwood

1/29, 10:30 PM kick-ass guitar-and-organ-fueled original psychedelic garage rockers the Electric Mess at Union  Pool

1/30, 6/7:30 PM, two sets of swing and postbop standards, Ellington to Miles to Max Roach performed by an insanely good crop of jazz talent including but not limited to groups led by Jenny Scheinman, Linda Oh, Amir ElSaffar, Marvin Sewell and Matt Mitchell at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, free w/museum adm., the full lineup and whereabouts of the groups playing through the galleries is here 

1/30, 7 PM hilarious, politically spot-on faux French garage rockers les Sans Culottes – whose new album Les Dieux Ont Soif is the closest thing to the Clash, lyrically speaking, that’s been released in this city lately – at Grand Victory

1/30, 7 PM pianist Joan Forsyth plays works by Brahms, Arensky, Schwendinger, Dawe and Anderson at Third Street Music School Settlement, free

1/30, 8 PM a rare Brooklyn appearance by pianist Lucian Ban and violist Mat Maneri playing duos off their haunting, intense, mysterious Transylvania Concert album at Barbes, $10

1/30, 8:30 PM, repeating 1/31 at 7:30 PM the Chelsea Symphony play  Segal: Caprice for Cello and Orchestra with Erich Schoen-René on cello; Dai: World Premiere; Leonard Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story; Sibelius: Violin Concerto with solist Emanouil Manalov at St. Paul’s Church, 315 W 22nd St, $20 sugg don.

1/30, 9:30 PM theatrical, darkly funny noir folk band Thee Shambels at the Postcrypt Coffeehouse

1/30, 9:30 PM socially aware, oldtimey-flavored Americana band 2/3 Goat at Hill Country, free

1/30, 10 PM psychedelic folk legend Peter Stampfel and the Ether Frolic Mob at the Jalopy, $10

1/30, 10 PM the high-energy, oldtimey Dirty Waltz Project at Freddy’s.

1/30, 10 PM Ay Mayo & Los Colombian Roots throw a dance party at Drom, $10

1/30, 11 PM vicious noiserock jamband the Skull Practitioners– led by Steve Wynn sparring partner/genius guitarist Jason Victor – at Matchless, $8

1/30. 11:30 PM sardonically lyrical, Jayhawks-ish janglerock/powerpop/Americana band Frontier Ruckus at the Mercury, $10 adv tix very highly rec

1/31, 4 PM chamber pop trio the Trouveres – Max Zeugner, bassist for the New York Philharmonic; renaissance viol player Doug Balliett) and ethereal classical singer Charlotte Mundy – play standard repertoire, ancient obscure treasures and originals in the same vein at Pete’s.

1/31, 6 PM darkly kinetic Israeli-Ethiopian funk band Lions at Barbes

1/31, 7 PM psychedelic Indian funk/downtempo guitarist Shubh Saran and his instrumental jamband at Shapeshifter Lab, $7

1/31, 7:30 PM hip-swaying instrumental twinbill: intriguing, cinematic New Haven psychedelic funk band the Mushroom Cloud at the Delancey followed eventually by the similar but slightly more straightforwardly funky Newton Crosby at 9:30, $5

1/31, 7:30 PM Jon Irabagon on saxophone with Yasushi Nakamura on bass and Rudy Royston on drums at the Bar Next Door – is this the swing set or the slyly amusing one?

1/31, 9 PM purist, straightforward, warmly tuneful front-porch folk songwriter Joanna Sternberg plays the album release show for her excellent solo acoustic cd Lullaby to Myself at the Jalopy, $10

1/31, 9 PM the dubby, trippy, Middle Eastern-inflected Brooklyn Gypsies play the album release show for their new one at Drom, $7 adv tix rec

1/31, 11 PM, LMFAO segue, two completely different but good bands: roots reggae group Royal Khaoz followed at midnight by fiery, hard-rocking Balkan band Tipsy Oxcart at the small room at the Rockwood

1/31, 10 PM a rare appearance by the hilarious, politically astute Paranoid Larry & His Imaginary Band at Freddy’s.

2/1, 4:30 PM learn haunting Ukrainian polyphony from the great Mariana Sadovska, composer of Chernobyl: The Harvest, connoisseur of both the avant garde and ancient folk sons! At 440 Studios, Room 3D, 440 Lafayette St. (between Astor Pl. and E. 4th St), $10/$5 stud/srs, kids free space is limited, rsvp reqd

2/1, 11 PM intriguing, enveloping slowcore/postrock/soundscape band Aquadora at the Delancey, $5

2/2, 8 PM bewitchingly assaultive art-rock duo Naked Roots Conducive – violinist Natalia Steinbach and cellist Valerie Kuehne play an event lovingly entitled Fucking Strings. Also on the bill: bassist Sean Ali, violinist Jeffery Young,  bassist Shayna Dulberger and guitarist Chris Welcome’s Hot Date,  and thereminist the Use at Torus Porta, 113 Stockholm St, storefront 1A (just off Myrtle), Bushwick, M to Myrtle Ave.

2/2, 8 PM a composer portrait of Missy Mazzoli feat. string quartets Ethel and the Mivos Quartet, soprano Marnie Breckenridge, cellist Jody Redhage, violist Nathan Schram, violinist Robert Simonds, playing new and recent, meticulously enveloping, often achingly intense chamber works at the Miller Theatre, $20 tix avail.

2/3, 7 PM high-energy newschool honkytonk band American Aquarium at the Mercury, $12 adv tix rec

2/3, 7:30 PM choreographer/ethnic dance maven Avia Moore & Matt Temkin‘s wild klezmer jamband at the Steven Wise Free Synagogue, 30 W 68th St., $15

2/3-8, 8:30/10:30 PM saxophonist Wayne Escoffery shows off his purist side with a quartet including pianist David Kikoski, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and monster drummer Ralph Peterson- at the Vanguard, $25

2/4, 7 PM Vanguel Tangarov, clarinet and Ekaterina Tangarova, piano play duo pieces by Weber, Poulenc, Chiamparini, Joseph Horovitz, Marin Valtchanov and Béla Kovács at the Bulgarian Consulate, 121 # 62nd St, 2nd Floor, free

2/4, 7:30 PM pianist Jenny Lin plays brooding works by Valentin Silvestrov plus Stravinsky: Piano Sonata and Scriabin: Piano Sonata No. 4  at Le Poisson Rouge, $15 adv tix rec.

2/4, 8 PM the Jake Schepps Quintet play their fascinating cross-pollinating blend of newgrass and classical chamber music at Subculture – plus Bartok for bluegrass band! $20 adv tix highly rec.

2/4, 9:30  PM irrepresible, sometimes punk-jazz, sometimes edgy postbop composer/guitarist Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord play the album release show for their new one Jeremiah – which includes a medley of wiccan songs – at Cornelia Street Cafe

2/4, 9:30 PM cellist/singer Meaghan Burke and the Rhythm Method play Ligeti’s String Quartet No. 1 plus her own darkly kinetic songs at Joe’s Pub, $16

2/5, 7:30 PM, repeating 2/6-7 at 8 the NY Philharmonic with violinist Lisa Batiashvili play Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 plus the Barber Violin Concerto at Avery Fisher Hall, $32 tix avail. There’s also a 2/7, 2 PM concert with the Rachmaninoff preceded by the Dvorak Piano Quintet.

2/5, 7:30 PM experimental vocal works by avant garde composers and extended voice pioneers Joan La Barbara and Pamela Z at the Lincoln Center Atrium, early arrival advised.

2/6, 7 PM excellent blues cover band Boxing the Needle – who reinvent classics from across the ages as psychedelia or dub followed by irresistibly named, darkly sizzling psychedelic garage punk rockers Anderson Council at 8 and then Stones/Social D-influenced guitar band Anchor Lot at the Delancey, $5.

2/6, 7 PM Cantata Profana put renaissance polyphony in sharp context/contrast with a “semi-staged chamber concert: 17th century Monteverdi next to Salvatore Sciarrino’s modern orchestrations of Gesualdo madrigals, Aribert Reimann’s modern string quartet recreations of Brahms songs, along with George Crumb’s fantastical first book of Madrigals, ending with Monteverdi’s most ambitious madrigal, Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda” at the Fabbri Library, 7 E 95th St. (just off 5th Ave), $23/$10 stud/srs

2/6, 7 PM irrepressible, historically informed, folk noir/jangly rock songwriter Elisa Flynn with the reputedly like-minded Jim Knable and Maharajah Sweets at Branded Saloon.

2/6, 7:30 PM violinist Rachel Lee Priday and pianist David Kaplan play contemporary works by Eric Shanfield, Matthew Aucoin, Hannah Lash, Caroline Shaw, Scott Wollschleger, Samuel Carl Adams, Sayo Kosugi, Eric Shanfield and Christopher Cerrone at Subculture, $20/$15 stud.

2/6, 8 PM eclectic jam-oriented mostly-female klezmer/tango/jazz band Isle of Klezbos – playing lots of new material off their subversive forthcoming album J. Edgar Klezmer:  Songs From My Grandmother’s FBI Files – at the Actors’ Temple, 339 W. 47th St., $15/$10 stud/srs

2/6, 8 PM violinist Jason Kao Hwang pulls out all the stops, playing two improvisational sets with two extremely interesting units: Sing House with Andrew Drury – drum set; Ken Filiano – bass; Chris Forbes – piano and Steve Swell – trombone and Amygdala with Rami Seo on the haunting, tone-warping Korean gayageum and Michael Wimberly on percussion at Roulette, $20

2/6, 8 PM sprawling gospel-rock orchestra Jesus on the Mainline – featuring spectacular frontwoman Mel Flannery – at the Mercury, $12 adv tix rec. How are they gonna fit all those people on that little stage?

2/6, 8 PM the cleverly tuneful, individualistic, witty Broken Reed Saxophone Quartet playing bandleader Charley Gerard’s Bukowski-influenced new suite with guest singer Kristin Slipp at I-Beam, $10

2/6, 9 PM guitarslinger Hugo G – whose darkly hypnotic, politically aware originals are a smart, original update on the slowly unwinding Texas blues pioneered by Lightning Hopkins in the 30s and 40s – at Beluga Bar, 75 Murray St, Tribeca, $10

2/6, 11 PM St. Croix roots reggae stars Midnite play a Bob Marley bday celebration at SOB’s, $28 gen adm

2/6, midnight Bombrasstico – sort of the trombone version of Moon Hooch – play their explosive, improvisational organic dancefloor grooves followed by  infectious Brazilian maracatu/funk/New Orleans/surf/country band Nation Beat at Drom, $10 gen adm

2/6, 1 AM (wee hours of 2/7) conscious Rasta dub reggae sensation Jah9 with the Dub Treatment Band, at Milk River Cafe, 960 Atlantic Ave (Grand Ave/St. James Pl.), Brooklyn, 2/3 to Dean St.

2/7, 5 PM ecstatic, original, jazzily psychedelic New Orleans funk band Water Seed at the Brooklyn Museum, free

2/7, 8 PM deviously intense, funny, charismatic oldtimey ukelele siren/songwriter Kelli Rae Powell at at Hill Country Brooklyn

2/7, 8 PM Cuban crooner Pepito Gomez and band at Roulette, open mojito bar 7-8 PM, $25

2/7, 8 PM indie classical chamber stars American Contemporary Music Ensemble and the always awesome avant-garde choral ensemble Roomful of Teeth join forces for a concert full of firsts including the world premiere of a new version of Caroline Shaw’s ever-evolving Ritornello 2.3 plus works by Purcell and Gavin Bryars at the Kasser Theatre at Montclair State University, 1 Normal Avenue, Montclair, NJ, $20, charter bus available from the Port Authority arcade on 41st St between 8th and 9th Aves to the theatre, ($10 per person, round trip), bus reservations may be made at 973-655-5112 or

2/7, 9 PM ferociously tuneful southwestern gothic rockers the Downward Dogs at Sidewalk.

2/7, 9:30  soaring, brilliant singer Magda Giannikou’s lush, sweeping, pan-Mediterranean art-rock/chamber pop/jazz group Banda Magda at Joe’s Pub, $20

2/7, 10 PM intense, smart, tuneful janglerock guitarist Jennifer O’Connor at Union Hall, $10

2/8, 11 AM (in the morning), pianist Steven Osborne plays a tantalizingly biting all-Russian program of Rachmaninoff etude-tableaux plus Moussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition at the Walter Reade Theatre, 165 W 65th St.  $22 adv tix highly rec.

2/8, 3 PM the Shanghai Quartet premieres Du Yun’s Tattooed in Snow alongside Beethoven’s String Quartet, no. 12 in E-flat Major, op. 127 as well as Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major at the Kasser Theatre at Montclair State University, 1 Normal Avenue, Montclair, NJ, $20, charter bus available from the Port Authority arcade on 41st St between 8th and 9th Aves to the theatre, ($10 per person, round trip), bus reservations may be made at 973-655-5112 or

2/8, 4 PM the Apollo Trio perform Beethoven’s Piano Trio in E-flat Major, Op.1 No.1, Clara Schumann’s Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 17 and Ravel’s Piano Trio in A Minor at the Dreck Center at the Brooklyn Public Library, free, no under-sixes.

2/8, 4:30 PM world premieres by exciting contemporary composers: Miranda Cuckson is the soloist in Wendy Griffiths‘ Concerto for Violin; new works by Thomas Addison, Carolyn Lord, Faye-Ellen Silverman and David Tcimpidis also on the bill at Mannes College Auditorium, 150 W 85th St., free

2/8, 7:30 PM NYC’s very own mesmerizing, hypnotically pointillistic Balinese orchestra Gamelan Dharma Swara play the North American premiere of “Geregel,” a landmark in contemporary gamelan composition by leading Balinese composer Dewa Ketut Alit at le Poisson Rouge, $15 adv tix rec.

2/8, 8 PM adventurous, fun, quirky female-fronted psychedelic pop duo Robin’s Egg Blue at Bowery Electric. 2/28 they’re at the Bitter End playing the album release show for their new one at 11

2/8, 8 PM the New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra play a characteristically dark orchestral program with Brahms’ Tragic Overture and the Shostakovich Cello Concerto with soloist Julian Schwarz at Symphony Space, $25/$18 stud/srs

2/9, 7:30 PM soprano Jennifer Zetlan and the Claremont Trio play an all-Shostakovich program including Trio No. 1 in C Minor, op. 8; Seven Romances on Poems by Alexander Blok, op. 127; Trio No. 2 in E Minor, op. 67 Music Mondays, Advent/ Broadway Church, 2504 Broadway at 93rd St., free.

2/9, 7:30 PM a subset of the NY Philharmonic plays new music by Israeli composers Avner Dorman, Yotam Haber, Shulamit Ran and Josef Bardanashvili at Subculture, pricy at $35 but could be worth it.

2/9, 7:30 PM Ward Stare conducts a chamber ensemble including Elizabeth Pridgen, piano and Amy Schwartz Moretti, violin playing music of John Adams, Elliot Goldenthal, and Béla Bartók at le Poisson Rouge, $15 gen adm.

2/10, drinks at 5:30 PM, show at 6, guitarists Alec Holcomb, Jiyeon Kim, Xiaobo Pu and Hao Yang play works by Paul Lansky and Steve Mackey at the Miller Theatre, free

2/10, 7 PM NYC’s preeminent literate janglerock/chamber pop crooner/bandleader Ward White at the big room at the Rockwood, free

2/10, 7 PM explosive Malian percussionist Awa Sangho and her band at Elebash Hall at CUNY, 365 5th Ave. north of 34th St., $25

2/10, 7;30 PM intense clarinet and violin-fueled klezmer group Litvakus at the Steven Wise Free Synagogue, 30 W 68th St., $15

2/10, 8 PM sizzling sarod superstars Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan at Symphony Space, $25 adv tix a must

2/10-15, 8:30/10:30 PM John Zorn does his Stone thing, leading a bunch of different groups at the Vanguard, $25. Choice pick: the 2/10, 10:30 PM set with Bill Frisell, harpist Carol Emmanuel and Kenny Wollesen on vibes, reprising their ethereally gorgeous set at the Met Museum a couple of years ago.

2/10, 11 PM brilliantly eclectic, original Asheville bluegrass band Town Mountain at the big room at the Rockwood, free

2/11, 7 PM intuitive, magically dynamic pianist Karine Poghosyan plays rare Aram Khachaturian works in conjunction with an exhibition by her painter dad Razmik at the Louis Meisel Gallery, 141 Prince St., $35/$25 stud

2/11, 8 PM quirky, sarcastic, lyrically-driven, XTC-ish clang/jangle/postpunk band the James Rocket followed by the more comedic, considerably louder faux-arenarocking Bunkbed, the similarly hard-charging, distantly Replacements-esque, restkess Kenny Chambers & the Electric Ears and the catchy, jangly Big Star-ish Nu-Sonics at Cake Shop

2/11-12, 7:30 PM the NY Philharmonic play Faure’s Pelléas et Mélisande Suite. a James MacMillan NY premiere and Tschaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 at Avery Fisher Hall, $29 tix avail.

2/11, 9:30 PM tuneful third-stream pianist Yaniv Taubenhouse and his trio play the album release show for their new one at the Metropolitan Room, 34 W 22nd St

2/12, 7:30 PM Talea Ensemble joins forces with the unstoppable John Zorn for a program of new and classic works; Zorn’s “Prophetic Mysteries” for solo flute and two foley performers, with Ikue Mori, plus the world premiere of a new trio for piano, bass and drums featuring Tyshawn Sorey and Trevor Dunn along with Talea pianist Stephen Goslingl and two of Zorn’s notorious game pieces, “Rugby” and “Hockey,” the latter including John Zorn on saxophone. Talea perform the ensemble work “Bateau Ivre,” composed for them, and the world premiere of a new string trio, at Merkin Concert Hall, $25

2/12, 7:30 PM the Chamber Orchestra of NY plays a handful of baroque treats including Albinoni’s Adagio for strings and organ plus works by CPE Bach, Corrette and Vivaldi at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, $25 tix avail.

2/12, 8 PM Robert Sirota’s harrowing 9/11-themed suite for strings, Triptych performed by violinists Sarah Koenig-Plonskier and Karen Dekker, violist Michael Davis, and cellist Benjamin Larsen at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 139 St. John’s Place, Park Slope, free

2/12, 8 PM the New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra plays  the Shostakovich Cello Concerto and Franck’s Symphony in D minor at Symphony Space, $25/$18 stud

2/13, 8 PM viola Duo Folie a Deux – Nora Krohn and Nick Revel – play a program TBA at Flushing Town Hall, free but rsvp reqd

2/13, 8 PM pianist Kumi Ogano and violinist Rolf Schulte play works by pioneering, cross-pollinating Japanese composer Akira Miyoshi plus Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Piano and Donald Martino’s 1962 Fantasy-Variations for solo violin at the Tenri Institute, 43 W 13th St, $15/$10 stud/srs

2/13, SF’s raging, Nirvana-influenced gutter blues guitar/drums duo Two Gallants at the Mercury. 2/14 they’re at Rough Trade.

2/14, 7 PM pianists Mira Armij Gill and Marc Ponthus play works by Mendelssohn, Liszt, Lyapunov, Beethoven and Boulez at Third Street Music School Settlement, free

2/14, 7 PM viola da gamba virtuoso Lisa Terry and lutenist Richard Stone perform music of Marin Marais plus solo lute and theorbo pieces by Sainte-Colombe, Francois Couperin, and Robert de Visée  at St. Peter’s Church, 54th/Lex, $25

2/14, 7:30 PM anthemic, eclectic, often haunting female-fronted Americana/acoustic funk/art-rock jamband the Sometime Boys at Hometown BBQ in Red Hook

2/14, 8 PM the New York Virtuoso Singers perform amorous choral works by Josquin des Prez, Purcell, Monteverdi, Haydn, Ravel, Daniel Pinkham, Cole Porter, Paul Simon, Thea Musgrave and others at Merkin Concert Hall, $25

2/15, 4 PM early music choir Blue Heron perform early music by Ockeghem, Binchois, & Du Fay at Corpus Christi Church, 529 W 121st St, $10 seats avail.

2/15, 8:30 PM catchy, Americana-tinged North Carolina janglerocker Jeffrey Dean Foster at 12th St. Bar & Grill,1123 8th Ave @ 12th St, Park Slope (F/G to 7th Ave;) 2/17 he’s at the small room at the Rockwood at 6. If you’re into Big Star, vintage REM or the whole chimy 80s southern pop thing, he’s the man.

2/18, 8 PM tuneful, lyrical, inscrutable cellist/multi-instrumentalist/siren Serena Jost and irrepressible, improvisationally-inclined pianist/guitarist Matt Kanelos at LIC Bar

2/15, 8 PM groovealicious Philly psychedelic soul band Needle Points, a Cure wannabe and then terse, wickedly tuneful garage/jangle/powerpop band Aloud at the Mercury, $10

2/15, 10 PM haunting Nashville gothic crooner Mark Sinnis – whose recent turn into hard honkytonk is absolutely kick-ass – upstairs at 2A

2/17, 7 PM an evening of new music hosted and curated by Bright Sheng featuring scenes from his new opera Dream of the Red Chamber at the National Opera Center, 330 Seventh Avenue (at 29th St), $15

2/17, 7:30 PM intense guitarist Allen Watsky’s Jewish/Romany jazz Djangle Box Project at the Steven Wise Free Synagogue, 30 W 68th St., $15

2/17, 8 PM Jim Jarmusch’s legendary noiserock/post-Velvets band Squrl play live soundtracks to four classic Man Ray silent films: Retour a la Raison (1923); Emak Bakia (1926); Les Mysteres Du Chateau Du De (1929); L’Etoile De Mer (1928) at the World Financial Center, free, early arrival advised

2/17, 8 PM intense, lyrically brilliant Americana/soul/janglerock tunesmith Matt Keating plays the album release show for his long-awaited new one at the big room at the Rockwood

2/18 and 2/20, 8 PM the US premiere of Pablo Berger’s film Blancanieves with live soundtrack provided by Wordless Music Orchestra with Alfonso Vilallonga at the World Financial Center, free, early arrival advised

2/18, 11 PM Des Roar – whose tuneful mix of punk and post Jesus & Mary Chain late 80s/early 90s rock includes the classic Ted Bundy Was a Ladies Man – at Rough Trade, $12 adv tix very highly rec.

2/19-22 a celebration of the freedom songs of the Civil Rights Movement with a compelling current-day focus on inequality in NYC organized by the Brooklyn anti-gentrification movement and Equality for Flatbush with artists including Justin Hicks and Heritage Blues Orchestra frontwoman Chaney Sims at Jack in Ft. Greene, details tba

2/19, 7 PM chamber ensemble Canta Libre play works by Piazzolla, Jean Cras, Francaix,Villa-Lobos and Ginastera at the Salmagundi Center for American Art, 47 5th Ave, $15

2/19, 7:30 PM the Daedalus Quartet play Bartok: String Quartet No. 2 and Sibelius: String Quartet in D minor (“Voces intimae”) at the Lincoln Center Atrium, early arrival advised

2/19, 8 PM a “composer portrait” featuring the dissociative, acerbically kinetic work of Stefano Gervasoni performed by Yarn/Wire, Mivos Quartet and Ekmeles at the Miller Theatre, $20 tix avail

2/19, 9:30 PM ethereal, Middle Eastern-tinged Malagasy chanteuse Razia Said plays the album release for her new one at Joe’s Pub, $20

2/19, 10 PM sick Dolly Parton cover band Doll Parts – who mix straight-up rock versions of her schlockiest 80s crap with acoustic covers of her country classics – at Rock Shop, $10

2/20, 9 PM haunting, intense, wickedly tuneful Nashville gothic songwriter Jessie Kilguss and her band at Red Hook Bait and Tackle.

2/20, 11 PM Canadian gothic chanteuse Lorraine Leckie and her phenomenal, ferocious band at Sidewalk

2/21, 8 PM Kiran Ahluwalia sings mystical Sufi songs with a west African desert rock edge with her husband guitarist Rez Abbasi, sensational accordionist Will Holshouser and a rhythm section at Roulette, $30/$25 stud/srs

2/21, 8 PM the choir of Trinity Wall Street presents epic rarities by Ginastera & Ives at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall with further epic enhancement from three additional choirs (!!), $15 tix avail.

2/22, 3 PM organist Adam J. Brakel plays Healey Willan’s iconic Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue plus Jeanne Demessieux’s Six Etudes, as well as music of J.S. Bach, Bossi, Rameau, Reger, Whitlock and de Grigny at St. Ignatius Loyola Church, Park Ave at 84th St., $20

2/22, 3 PM the Park Ave. Chamber Symphony plays Stravinsky: Le sacre du printemps and Lorin Maazel’s arrangement of Wagner themes, The Ring Without Words at Rose Theatre at Jazz at Lincoln Center

2/22, 8 PM pensive, dark Americana/country blues songwriter Jeffrey Foucault – sort of a younger, more somber Steve Earle -at Subculture, $18 adv tix a must

2/24, drinks at 5:30 PM, show at 6, the Jack Quartet play the American premiere of Georg Friedrich Haas’ String Quartet No. 8 at the Miller Theatre, free

2/24, 9 PM irrepressible, historically informed, folk noir/jangly rock songwriter Elisa Flynn presents a night of murder ballads – everybody does one of their own and one of somebody else’s – artists include Chris Q. Murphy, Maharajah Sweets, the Halsey Hellhounds, Jim Knable, Neville Elder of Thee Shambels and others at the Way Station

2/24, 11 PM NYC’s preeminent literate janglerock/chamber pop bandleader Ward White does a stripped-down acoustic show at Pete’s

2/25, 7 PM striking, stark, soaring sounds from the global Jewish diaspora with Bukharian Jewish singer Muhabbat Shamayeva and Persian Jewish singer/composer Galeet Dardashti and their ensembles at Symphony Space, $30/$20 stud/srs

2/26, 7:30 PM the Skip James Project  featuring trombone powerhouse Ku-umba Frank Lacy, Kevin Ray, and Andrew Drury with special guests J.D. Allen and Justin Hicks at the Lincoln Center Atrium. “Eschewing chordal instruments, they deploy trombone/flumpet, bass, drums, and vocals to re-examine the material of 1930s delta blues legend Skip James’s musical legacy,” at the Lincoln Center Atrium, early arrival advised

2/26, 7:30 PM, repeating 2/28 at 8 the NY Philharmonic play Sibelius’ Oceanides and Violin Concerto plus Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 at Avery Fisher Hall, $30 tix avail.

2/26-27. 7:30 PM, repeating on 2/28 at 5:30 PM Norwegian actress Nina Bendiksen stars in a performance of Flagstad – Triumph and Tragedy, the one-woman bioplay written and directed by Norwegian playwright Einar Bjorge in celebration of legendary soprano Kirsten Flagstad’s debut with the Metropolitan Opera 80 years ago that launched her to stardom, at Scandinavia House, 58 Park Ave (at 38th St).  $20

2/26 timeless noiserock legends Swans at Bowery Ballroom

2/27, 7 PM Yi-Fang Huang, piano; Dana Pielet, piano; Shanda Wooley, cello with flutist Susan Friedlander and violnist Caitlin Lynch play works by Aitken, Bach, Brahms, Ian Clarke, Farrenc, Hétu, Mauthe and Piazzolla at Third Street Music School Settlement, free

2/27, 8 PM the NYU Symphony with conductor Jens Georg Bachmann and piano competition winner Tadeusz Domanowski perform Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Stravinsky’s Firebird and student works at Symphony Space, free, early arrival advised

2/28, 2 PM brilliant Britrock tunesmith/crooner Edward Rogers at Rough Trade, free

2/28, 2 PM flutist Daphna Mor’s slinky East of the River ensemble doing their bracing Mediterranean/Middle Eastern mashups at Flushing Town Hall, $13

2/28, 8 PM, repeating 3/1 at 4 PM William Hite, tenor and Gilles Vonsattel, piano play Schubert’s creepy, doomed, thinly veiled existentialist political suite Winterreise at Bargemusic, $35/$30 srs/$15 stud

2/28, 8 PM celebrated, magical UK early music choir Stile Antico join the rest of the choral world in resuscitating renaissance music written for the court of the Hapsburgs by Josquin, Crequillon, Tallis and others at Church of St. Mary the Virgin, 145 W 46th St, $35 tix available via the Miller Theatre box office

2/28, 8 PM the Sweet Plaintain Quartet play their kinetic originals and other material at Subculture, $20 adv tix req.

2/28, 9 PM a killer (sorry, couldn’t resist) twinbill: Nashville gothic/circus rock icons O’Death followed by the more theatrical but similar Murder by Death at Bowery Ballroom, $20 adv tix highly rec

2/28 dark, sardonically lyrical Swedish paisley underground psych rockers the Plastic Pals at Sidewalk. 3/4 they’re at Bowery Electric

3/1, 3 PM Ann Kim, violin; Benjamin Larsen, cello; Juliana Han, piano; Ian Rosenbaum, percussion play a Mozart Violin Sonata, then Golijov’s “Mariel”, before moving on to Sirota’s Cello Sonata, and wrap up with Beethoven’s Piano Trio in E flat, Opus 70 no. St. John’s Episcopal Church, Park Slope, 139 St. John’s Place at 7th Ave., any train to Grand Army Plaza and walk downhill

3/6, 8 PM the extraordinary Lebanese-American composer/multi-instrumentalist Bassam Saba and his ensemble playing haunting, sweepingly majestic original works at Roulette, $30/$25 stud/srs.

3/12,7  PM searingly intense, charismatic, fearless acoustic punk blues siren Molly Ruth followed by fiery Canadian gothic rocker Lorraine Leckie and her psychedelic band with Hugh Pool on lead guitar at the Mercury

3/13, 9 PM legendary, sweepingly majestic,timelessly relevant Australian psychedelic rockers the Church – who were arguably the best rock band in the world for a good fifteen years back in the 80s and 90s – at Bowery Ballroom, $30. 3/14 they’re at Rough Trade for the same price and will undoubtedly sell out. Adv tix rec at the Marcury, from 5-7 PM, M-F

3/14, 5 PM edgy Argentine classical pianist Mirian Conti plays a solo recital tilted “$5 for 5 Composers” at the DiMenna Center, 450 W 37th St.

3/14, 8 PM the sixteen-piece Caribbean and south-of-the-border big band flavors with the Gregorio Uribe Big Band at Roulette, $25

3/18 the CTMD puts on one of their occasional, hellraising Jewish/Slavic Yiddish Zingeray dance parties at City Lore Galley,  56 E 1st St., performers tba

3/20, 8 PM, repeating 3/21, 7:30 PM the Chelsea Symphony play Bedford: Flushing Meadows, 1964 for Saxophone and Orchestra (world premiere) with soloist Aaron Patterson; Vaughan Williams: Oboe Concerto with soloist Kelly Jo Breczka; Grafe: Cello Concerto with soloist Eric Allen; Sibelius: Overture to the Tempest and Tchaikovsky: The Tempest at St. Paul’s Church, 315 W 22nd St, $20 sugg don.

3/22, 3 PM Hannah Min, violin; Monica Davis, viola; Isabelle Fairbanks and Benjamin Larsen, cello; Zach Mo, piano play Faure’s C minor Piano Quartet, and Arensky’s haunting A minor Quartet for violin, viola and two cellos at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Park Slope, 139 St. John’s Place at 7th Ave., any train to Grand Army Plaza and walk downhill

3/24, drinks at 5:30 PM, show at 6, indie chamber group Yarn/Wire play electroacoustic works by Thomas Meadowcroft and Chiyoko Szlavnics at the Miller Theatre, free.

3/26, 7 PM badass, torchy Irish swing singer Tara O’Grady plays the album release for her new one Irish Bayou – tracing the rich history of the Irish in New Orleans – at the Metropolitan Room, 34 W 22 St

3/28, 5 PM pianist Rosa Torres Pardo plays an all-Iberian program including works by Soler-Scarlatti, Albeniz, de Falla at the DiMenna Center, 450 W 37th St., $5

4/11, 9 PM Trapper Schoepp – a Milwaukee minor-leaguer with some promise, in a growling, lyrical Jeffrey Foucault Americana vein – opens for noiserock/paisley underground/noir rock legend Steve Wynn at Bowery Ballroom

4/12, 3 PM the Greenwich Village Orchestra play an all-Tchaikovsky program with the Festival Coronation March, the Violin Concerto with soloist Siwoo Kim, and Symphony No. 4 at Washington Irving HS Auditorium, 16th St./Irving Place, $15 sugg don., reception to follow

4/18 Australian sensation the Cat Empire – quirky, latin-and-ska-inflected and great fun organic stoner dance grooves – at the at Webster Hall

4/22, 7 PM Norway, Sweden and the Shetland Islands’ virtuoso fiddling traditions represented by Olav Luksengård Mjelva, Anders Hall and Kevin Henderson at Symphony Space, $30

4/24 the queen of otherworldly, exhilarating Romany ballads, Esma Redžepova at le Poisson Rouge

5/16, 8 PM the band that put Haitian psychedelic funk on the map in the 90s, Boukman Eksperyans at Roulette, $25


The 100 Best Songs of 2014

If you count youtube clips, how many songs were “released” in 2014? Five million? Ten million? Considering the vast amount of material that’s out there, you can’t consider this page to be gospel any more than you can any other blog’s best-of-2014 list.

But it is a seriously good playlist. At first it seemed like a good idea to simply pull all of these songs into a Spotify playlist and call it a night, but that didn’t work since a lot – perhaps the majority – of the artists here aren’t on Spotify. But you can follow the links on this page and hear every song except for one mystery track which is one of the best of them all. Bookmark this page and enjoy!

As was the case last year with Matthew Grimm’s West Allis, one song stood apart from the pack this year as far as sheer visceral impact is concerned and that’s The Great Escape by artsy New York Americana band the Sometime Boys. Kurt Leege’s guitar provides an elegant, elegaic intro for frontwoman/guitarist Sarah Mucho’s carefully modulated, wounded, brittle vocals, which rise to a full gospel wail as the song hits a peak. It’s a bitter reflection on the lure of victory and the harsh reality of defeat, from the perspective of someone gazing into the night from a window in lower Manhattan. If you’ve ever faded away into yourself, scowling out at the glimmer in the distance and wishing you were there and not slaving away at some stupid dayjob – or contemplating suicide – this could be your theme song. It’s from the band’s album Riverbed, streaming here.

As with this year’s Best Albums of 2014 and Best NYC Concerts of 2014 pages, there’s no ranking here other than the #1 song of the year. For the sake of fairness, songs are listed in rough chronological order by the date they first got some attention at this blog, irrespective of release date. Which means that the last songs on the list aren’t the ass end of the list: they just made their first appearance here in December. To be clear: Karla Moheno’s mysterious Time Well Spent, which leads the rest of the pack here, is a lot different than Jennifer Niceley’s uneasily balmy Land I Love, the last song here. But they’re both worth a spin. Here we go!

Karla Moheno – Time Well Spent
A slinky, cruel noir blues dirge about deceit and revenge. Moheno’s genius is that her narratives are allusive; you have to brave the shadows to figure out what’s going on and who’s being killed. If the Sometime Boys hadn’t put out an album this year, this song, from her album Gone to Town, would occupy the top spot. Listen here.

Jessie Kilguss – Red Moon
The folk noir bandleader’s brooding, Spanish Civil War-inspired tableau could also be a present-day account of freedom fighters on the run from just about any gestapo – the NSA, Mossad or ISIS. It’s all the more powerful for Kilguss’ portrayal of the political as personal. From the album Devastate Me. Spotify link

Ward White – Bikini
This swaying, snarling art-rock narrative isn’t about beachwear: it’s a cruelly sardonic narrative set on a now-uninhabitable South Pacific atoll right after an atom bomb was set off there, gently ominous guitar multitracks subtly going awry over keyboardist Joe McGinty’s pillowy mellotron. From the album Ward White Is the Matador. Listen here

Marianne Dissard – Am Lezten
A portrait of total emotional depletion so vividly detailed it’s scary. And you don’t need to speak French to understand it – although that makes it all the more poignant. From her gorgeously orchestrated art-rock album The Cat. Not Me. Listen here

The Wytches – Gravedweller
Don’t let this song’s apparent references to zombies – which could simply be metaphorical – scare you away. Drenched in toxic reverb, this is a morbid, Middle Eastern-tinged horror surf number, and it’s genuinely evil. From the album Annabel Dream Reader. Listen here, free download

Willie Watson – Rock Salt & Nails
One of the year’s biggest buzz songs. Everybody covered this morose old murder ballad from the 1800s, nobody more starkly or hauntingly than the former Old Crow Medicine Show guitarist. It’s a version worthy of Hank Williams, no joke. From the album Folk Singer Vol. 1. Listen here

Ember Schrag – William for the Witches
At her Trans-Pecos show in October, the gothic Americana bandleader dedicated her careening Macbeth-inspired anthem to “all the Republicans back home,” ramping up the menace several notches with her litany of spells as guitarist Bob Bannister veered from monster surf, to ominous jangle, to a little skronk,  captured here on this video.

LJ Murphy – Fearful Town
At the Parkside back in May, noir rocker Murphy’s show was a going-away party of sorts for pianist Patrick McLellan, who took out his angst on the piano keys, gently and elegantly exchanging creepy, lingering noir tonalities with guitarist Tommy Hoscheid as Murphy drew a morosely surreal portrait of a DiBloomberg era East Village of tourist traps and the grotesqueries who congregate there. This youtube clip is the studio version.

Benmont Tench – You Should Be So Lucky
Tom Petty’s organist released his debut album this year and this is the title track, as viciously brilliant a kiss-off anthem as anyone’s ever written, set to tersely murderous, bluesy Laurel Canyon psychedelia. Watch the video 

Big Lazy – Human Sacrifice
The cult favorite NYC noir soundtrack trio makes horror surf out of a flamenco theme, with its savage clusters and sudden dips and swells, and allusions to a famous Duke Ellington tune (via the Ventures). From the album Don’t Cross Myrtle, rated #1 for 2014. Listen here

Gord Downie & the Sadies – Budget Shoes
An ominously reverb-drenched southwestern gothic tale fueled by Mike Belitsky’s artfully tumbling, Keith Moon drums. Singer and longtime Tragically Hip frontman Downie traces the steps of a couple of desperados “walking through the valley of ghosts,” one with his eyes on the other’s superior footgear. From their album Gord Downie, the Sadies & the Conquering Sun. Listen here

Ernest Troost – Old Screen Door
A wailing, electrifying murder ballad. Troost succeeds with this one since the only images he lets you see are incidental to what was obviously a grisly crime, “lightning bugs floating through a haze of gasoline” and so forth. A teens update to the Walkabouts’ vengeful anthem Firetrap, from the album O Love. Listen here

Changing Modes – Ride
The band keeps the menacing chromatics going over a brisk new wave pulse, frontwoman/keyboardist Wendy Griffiths’ venomous lyric driven to a crescendo by a snarling Yuzuru Sadashige guitar solo. From the New York art-rockers’ album The Paradox of Traveling Light. Listen here

HUMANWINE – Our Devolution Is Televised
Tthe closest thing to the Dead Kennedys that we have these days: macabre chromatic Romany punk rock set in an Orwellian nightmare that very closely resembles today’s world. The recurrent mantra is “Can’t you feel the lockdown?” From the ep Mass Exodus. Listen here, free download

The Brooklyn What – Too Much Worry
Almost nine minutes of white-knuckle intensity, relentless angst and psychedelic guitar fury. A serpentine homage to early Joy Division, there’s an interlude where it evokes a tighter take on that band doing the Velvets’ Sister Ray, then a long, volcanic guitar duel worthy of the Dream Syndicate. From the year’s best short album, Minor Problems. Listen here

Briana Layon & the Boys – Cut My Man
The dark metal/powerpop rockers open the song with an icy, watery guitar lead over a sketchy, muted riff, frontwoman Layon joining in the ominous ambience and then rising toward murderous rage, airing out her wounded low range and in the process channeling the Sometime Boys‘ Sarah Mucho. They take it out as a waltzing danse macabre. From their album Touch & Go. Listen here

Cheetah Chrome – Stare into the Night
It’s the closest thing to the Dead Boys (right around the time of their mid-80s comeback) on that band’s iconic lead guitarist’s new album, Solo, most of its searing tracks recorded almost twenty years ago and seeing the light just now. It’s about time. Spotify link

The Annie Ford Band – Buick 1966
A cinematic, noir mini-epic that shifts from a creepy bolero to a waltz to scampering bluegrass and then back, fueled by Tim Sargent’s knee-buckling, Marc Ribot-like reverb guitar lines. From Ford’s debut album. Listen here

Golem – Vodka Is Poison
Over a rampaging circus punk stomp, bandleaders Annette Ezekiel Kogan and Aaron Diskin trade verses about why it either “Makes you round, makes you soft, makes it hard to get aloft,” or “Makes you happy, makes you free, makes you wish that you were me!” From the album Tanz. Spotify link 

The Fleshtones – Hipster Heaven
A hellish, Chuck Berry-flavored chronicle of the band’s old New York neighborhoods being swallowed by hordes of narcissistic gentrifiers fresh out of college but acting like kindergarteners. From their album Wheel of Talent. Watch the video

Guess & Check – Some DJs
An aptly downcast janglepop tale that will resonate with anybody who’s walked into a party all psyched and then realizes in a split second that it’s really going to suck. In other words, that it’s full of trendoids who are all a-twitter since some DJ just plugged his phone into the PA system! From their album Entanglement. Listen here

Orphan Jane – Lost Mind
A menacingly theatrical circus rock tune that builds from a sarcastically whiny, vaudevillian verse to an explosive choir of voices on the chorus. From their album A Poke in the Eye. Listen here

Mitra Sumara – mystery song
Mitra Sumara are one of New York’s most fascinating bands. Singer Yvette Perez’s group plays obscure psychedelic rock and funk covers from Iran in the 1960s and 70s. This particular number was the highlight of this year’s annual Alwan-a-Thon, a celebration of sounds from across the Middle East held at downtown music mecca Alwan for the Arts. But nobody seems to know what the song is called. It sounds like Procol Harum but more upbeat, with some seriously evil funeral organ. If anybody knows the title, please pass it on! It was the third song on the setlist that night.

The Reigning Monarchs – Thuggery
Sort of a Peter Gunne Theme for the teens, an intense, explosive monster surf instrumental with a slashing, off-the-rails guitar solo midway through. From the album Black Sweater Massacre. Listen here

Curtis Eller – The Heart That Forgave Richard Nixon
A riverbed grave, a Cadillac stalled out on the tracks and Henry Kissinger shaking it all night long serve as the backdrop for this snarling parable of post-9/11 multinational fascism. From the historically-inspired Americana cult favorite banjo player’s album How to Make It in Hollywood. Listen here

The Jitterbug Vipers – Stuff It
A co-write with Elizabeth McQueen from Asleep at the Wheel, this sassy oldtimey swing tune by the Texas stoner swing band has the sardonic wit of a classic, dismissive Mae West insult song. From the album Phoebe’s Dream. Listen here

Della Mae – Heaven’s Gate
A bitter, ghostly newgrass tale that begins with the fiddle mimicking the ominous low resonance of a steel guitar, then eventually goes doublespeed. Is this about a suicide, a murder, or both? Either way, it’s a great story. From the album This World Oft Can Be. Watch the video (WARNING – you have to mute the audio ad before the whole album streams)

Bad Buka – Through the Night
A big, blazing, full-on orchestrated minor-key Romany art-rock epic, the title track from this searing, theatrical Slavic art-punk band’s new album. Listen here

The Devil Makes Three – Hand Back Down
The wild punkgrass crew take an unexpected detour into surrealist stoner swamp rock with a cynical antiwar edge, from their album I’m a Stranger Here. This video is a live take.

Marissa Nadler – Firecrackers
A menacingly opiated, reverb-drenched, mostly acoustic Nashville gothic ballad, painting a booze-fueled Fourth of July scenario that does not end well. From the folk noir icon’s album July. Listen here

Aram Bajakian – Rent Party
This instrumental by the former Lou Reed lead guitar genius kicks off with a bouncy funk riff into a minor-key tune that’s part newschool Romany rock, surf music and Otis Rush blues – then the band hits a long, surreal, muddy interlude reminiscent of 80s noiserock legends Live Skull as Shahzad Ismaily’s bass growls to the surface. From the album There Were Flowers Also in Hell. Listen here

The Delta Saints – Crazy
The centerpiece of the Americana jamband’s Drink It Slow ep is a nine-minute epic that works a slow, slinky noir blues groove with all kinds of up-and-down dynamics, a precise, angst-fueled guitar solo and every keyboard texture in this band’s arsenal. Listen here

Rosanne Cash – World of Strange Design
An harrowing Appalachian gothic tale that could be about a returning soldier’s family falling apart, or maybe just metaphorical, about a guy who “Set off the minefield like you were rounding first.” From the album The River & the Thread. Watch the video

Laura Cantrell – Washday Blues
This era’s most poignant, compelling voice in classic country music at her aphoristic best, cleaning up a lifetime’s worth of disappointed metaphors against a backdrop of steel guitar and mandolin. From the new album No Way There from Here. Spotify link

The New Mendicants – High on the Skyline
An enigmatically alienated folk-rock anthem that’s equal parts Strawbs Britfolk and lushly clangy, twanging Byrds from this psychedelic pop supergroup. “I’ll show you how deadly close faraway can be,” Teenage Fanclub frontman Norman Blake intones in his stately delivery. From their album Into the Lime. This live acoustic take isn’t the album version but it’s still really good.

Ihtimanska – Hicaz Hümayun Saz Semaisi
The most gripping and most distinctively Middle Eastern of all the tracks on the Montreal Turkish traditional music duo’s debut album. Listen here

Siach HaSadeh – Kuni Roni/Maggid’s Niggun
A darkly dancing North African-tinged diptych: the oud’s ironically triumphant run down into the abyss midway through might be the high point of the improvisational klezmer band’s album Song of the Grasses. Listen here

Son of Skooshny – Untold History.
This intense, richly arranged, artsy janglerock anthem traces an uneasy early atomic age childhood with an offhanded savagery: with Steve Refling’s keening slide guitar, it’s the hardest-rocking and most overtly angry song on the new album Mid Century Modern. Listen here

New Electric Ride – Marquis de Sade
This trippy vintage 60s psych tune casts the old philosopher as a stoner, from a funky Cream intro, through a little early Santana and then a galloping proto-metal interlude fueled by Craig Oxberry’s artful drums before some very funny vocals kick in. From the album Balloon Age. Listen here

Tammy Faye Starlite – Sister Morphine
A showstopper by the irrepressible chanteuse who’s carved herself out a niche for sardonic but spot-on reinventions of songs by brilliant and difficult people: Nico, Iggy, and others. She slayed with this one live at her Marianne Faithfull tribute/parody at Lincoln Center back in March. Watch the video

Isle of Klezbos – Noiresque
Shoko Nagai dazzles with her glimmering, darkly neoromantic and blues-tinged piano on this bracing latin- and Middle Eastern-tinted theme, shifting seamlessly between waltz time and a swing jazz groove. From the album Live from Brooklyn. Listen here

Jenifer Jackson – All Around
This flinty anthemic backbeat rock tune builds a mood of quiet apprehension via a wintry seaside tableau – it wouldn’t be out of place in the Steve Wynn catalog. From the stunningly eclectic Austin songwriter’s album Texas Sunrise. Listen here 

The Baseball Project – 13
Arguably the best song on the new album, 3rd – frontman Steve Wynn takes unsparing aim at at the A-Roid scandal over a corrosively sarcastic spaghetti western backdrop. Watch the video

John Zorn’s Abraxas – Metapsychomagia
Guitarists Aram Bajakian and Eyal Maoz and bassist Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz juxtapose puckish wit with flickering menace, building from an uneasy bolero groove to a staggered Middle Eastern monster surf stomp, both guitarists ranging from lingering and twangy to frenetic and crazed, epic art-rock infused with swirling noise. Title track from the new album. Watch the video

Martin Bisi – Invite to Heaven Hell
One of the most deliciously tuneful things the dark art-rocker has ever done, building a stygian spacerock ambience, like the Chuch or the Byrds at their most psychedelic, with hints of peak-era Sonic Youth peeking through the pulsing guitars, with disembodied vocals, soaring trumpet and a dead-girl chorus in the background. From the album Ex Nihilo. Listen here

Ichka – Glaziers Hora
This Alicia Svigals tune is a showcase for soaring solos from everyone in this fiery klezmer band, over a misterioso staccato rhythm. From their album Podorozh. Listen here

Jaro Milko & the Cubalkanics – Herido
A mix of Del Shannon noir with a creepy bolero: it’s arguably the strongest track on the psychedelic cumbia band’s creepily slinky new album Cigarros Explosivos. Listen here 

Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs – For All that Ails You
With its mournful train-whistle guitar and stalking, noir blues sway, it’s uncommonly dark for even this creepy gutter blues/noir Americana band. From the album It’s Her Fault. Watch the video

The Mystic Braves – There’s a Pain
A briskly scampering noir blues recast as period-perfect 60s Laurel Canyon psychedelia, from the album Desert Island. Listen here

Barbez – Mizmor Leasaf
Italian poet Alfonso Gatto’s bitter wartime elegy, Anniversary, recast as an eerily reverberating, dirgelike noir soundtrack piece from the album Bella Ciao, which explores haunting Italian Jewish themes. Watch the video

Spottiswoode – Butterfly
With its anxiously fluttery, tremoloing intro, swooping clarinet and elegant electric harpsichord, it’s a characteristically moody, richly orchestrated chamber pop anthem. From the album English Dream. Listen here

Action Beat & G.W. Sok – Sentence Machine
A noisier take on what Joy Division did with Atrocity Exhibition, seemingly a Kafkaesque account of a tortuous execution machine, set to a choir of sawing, stabbing, frantically pinwheeling guitars. From the ex-Ex frontman and British noiserock band’s collaborative album A Remarkable Machine. Spotify link

Karikatura – Eyes Wide
A bracing latin reggae tune and the title track to the band’s new album, frontman Ryan Acquaotta chronicling what happens when the real estate mob decides to take over a sketchy part of town: “With the luxury developments they’re packing in, propaganda that the neighborhood is back again, watch whoever is moving in after, blowing their cover.” And then the displacement of the people who call it home begins. Listen here

The Skull Practitioners – Another Sicko
An out-of-focus vocal from guest Tom Derwent, long drones, allusions to funk, twisted bent-note mental asylum screams from Steve Wynn lead player and frontman Jason Victor going on for what seems minutes and an ending that the band finally allows to completely disintegrate. From the New York noiserockers’ ep ST1 – also available on cassette. Listen here

Zvuloon Dub System – Alemitu
An ominously organ-fueled minor-key instrumental that blends otherworldly Ethiopiques into a moody Israeli roots reggae groove. From their album Anbesa Dub. Listen here

The Last Internationale – We Will Reign
The fearless, politically-fueled Bronx rockers slayed with this snarling, defiant, Patti Smith-style anthem at the Mercury back in June, the title track from their new album. Watch the video

Hannah Thiem – Phavet
If you listen very closely, you’ll realize that the cinematic, intense violinist/composer’s slinky electroacoustic mood piece is a one-chord jam, as it shifts from an echoing, dancing, hypnotically bracing theme to a thicket of overdubs where Thiem becomes a one-woman string sextet.. From the ep Brym. Listen here

Amanda Thorpe – Willow in the Wind
With its haunting, subdued anguish, the intense Britfolk/art-rock chanteuse’s noir tropicalia version of Tin Pan Alley wordsmith Yip Harburg’s song surpasses any other take on it, fueled by drummer Robert di Pietro’s ominous tom-toms and misterioso cymbal work. From the album Bewitching Me. Spotify link 

Nick Waterhouse – Sleeping Pills
With echoey Rod Argent electric piano and baritone saxophonist Paula Henderson’s smoky lines, this was the most lurid song of the night at the LA psychedelic soul music maven’s show in Greenpoint back in June. From the album Holly. Watch the video

Puss N Boots – GTO
The darkest and arguably best song on the album No Fools, No Fun, a detour toward Eilen Jewell-tinged ghoulabilly by the the Americana super-trio of Norah Jones, guitarist/singer Sasha Dobson and bassist Catherine Popper. Watch the video

People – Supersensible Hydrofracked Dystopia
Fiery jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson, irrepressible drummer Kevin Shea (of NYC’s funnest jazz group, Mostly Other People Do the Killing) and bassist Kyle Forester (from Crystal Stilts) toss off this barely minute-long but cruelly spot-on punk jazz miniature from the album 3xaWoman. Watch the video

Coppins – Great Day for Living
A sarcastic dystopic pre-apocalyptic narrative set to a reggae-tinged groove from the eclectic, funky, rootsy Toronto band known for their bagpipe funk. From the album The Prince That Nobody Knows. Listen here 

Marah – The Old Riverman’s Regret
A sad, vividly resigned oldtimey folk waltz, looking back nostalgically on 19th century commercial river rafting. From the album Mountain Minstrelsy of Pennsylvania, a mightily successful detour into Americana by the highway rock band. Listen here

Carsie Blanton – Don’t Come Too Soon
Sly, innuendo-fueled oldtime hokum blues from the torchy New Orleans chanteuse. Listen here, free download

Millsted – Televangelist
Over an uneasy, hammering pulse, the New York punk/metal band work murderously direct East Bay Ray-style horror-surf riffage that spirals out in acidic sheets of reverb, hits a misterioso interlude and then rises again. From the album Harlem. Listen here

The Butcher Knives – Could Be the End
The New York Romany/latin rockers’ slinky shuffle kicks off by nicking the intro from Elvis Costello’s Watching the Detectives and morphs into steady brisk spaghetti western rock, with a cool, offcenter Ethan Cohen banjo solo out. From their album Misery. Listen here 

The Bakersfield Breakers – Longing
A sad, spiky mix of honkytonk, incisive blues and Britfolk licks and moody ranchera rock via guitarist Keith Yaun’s virtuoso multitracks. From the album In the Studio with the Bakersfield Breakers. Listen here

The Jones Family Singers – Bones in the Valley
A funky update on an ancient, eerie spiritual livened with a combination of graveyard imagery and a message that’s ultimately hopeful, a launching pad for some impassioned call-and response. From the Houston gospel-soul band’s album The Spirit Speaks. Listen here

The Old Crow Medicine Show – Dearly Departed Friend
As much as the bluegrass road warriors are best known for explosive party music, this is a somber graveside requiem for an Iraq War casualty, with a creepy, spot-on redneck surrealism. From their album Remedy. Listen here

Andrew Bird – So Much Wine Merry Christmas
The funniest of the Handsome Family covers on Bird’s tribute to the iconic Americana surrealist duo, Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of. One brilliantly twisted, literate Americana songwriter deserves another. Listen here

The Grisly Hand – Western Avenue
A ringer here, the title track from the Kansas City band’s 2012 debut, sounding like the Jayhawks circa Sound of Lies backing Neko Case. Yeah, that good. Their new album Country Singles is pretty damn good too. Listen here

Edward Rogers – What Happened to the News
Fueled by Byrdsy twelve-string guitar, it’s a snide swipe at how the media-industrial complex distracts us from what’s really going on. Fron the Britrock maven’s Kevin Ayers-inspired new album Kaye. Watch the video

Bombay Rickey – Pilgrim
Frontwoman Kamala Sankaram’s wickedly precise, loopy accordion winds through a misterioso, lingering, surfy stroll with ominous bass and alto sax solos, the latter building to a spine-tingling coda. From the psychedelic Bollywood-inspired band’s album Cinefonia, the year’s best debut release. Listen here

Sharon Jones – Retreat
The brooding, practically exhausted version that this era’s definitive soul-funk singer delivered out back of the World Financial Center back in June was considerably more ominous and menacing than the version on the record. From the album Give The People What They Want. Listen here

The Immigrant Union – Anyway
The epic title track from the lush Australian psych-pop janglerockers’ latest album has plaintive harmonies and a slow psych-pop sway much in the same vein as the Allah-Las. Listen here

Debby Schwartz – Hills of Violent Green
A lushly luscious folk noir anthem and a showcase for some literally breathtaking, swooping upper-register vocals by the former Aquanettas frontwoman (and current Ember Schrag bassist). Fron the Satan You Brought Me Down ep. Listen here 

Wormburner – Drinks At the Plaza Hotel
Fiery Stiff Little Fingers style punk-pop, a couple of smalltime scam artists trading faux-sophisticated banter and having a great time seeing how much they can get over on the snobs. From the album Pleasant Living in Planned Communities. Listen here

Banda Magda – Trata
A gorgeously swaying Middle Eastern-tinged Greek party tune with rippling hammered dulcimer, cheery brass and animated guy/girl vocals that builds to a towerine, majestic peak. Frmo the pan-global New York art-rock/jazz/Middle Eastern band’s album Yerakina. Listen here

Alsarah & the Nubatones – Bilad Aldahb
A bristling, broodingly expansive oud solo by the late, great Haig Magnoukian leads into a dusky lament lowlit by Rami El Asser’s stately frame drum work. From the New York Nubian funk revivalists/reinventors’ album Silt. Listen here

Mary Lee Kortes – Big Things
An irrepressibly jaunty hi-de-ho swing tune: the intense, soaring Americana tunesmith/singer slayed with this at the Rockwood a couple of months ago. From the album Songs from the Beulah Rowley Songbook ep – and possibly appearing on her forthcoming, long-awaited Songs of Beulah Rowley album, a thematic collection centered around a tragic, talented 1930s/40s cult favorite songwriter. Listen here

Mark Rogers & Mary Byrne – Green Gold Violet
A starkly vivid, hypnotic, wounded late-afternoon folk noir tableau, Rogers’ luminous dobro paired against Byrne’s tensely fingerpicked stroll. From the album I Line My Days Along Your Weight. Listen here

Matt Ulery – The Farm
The lively flair of this harmony-driven, climactic chamber pop number understates its corrosive portrayal of rural hell. From the eclectic, cinematic bassist/composer’s album In the Ivory. Listen here

The Larch – Mr. Winters
The jangliest track on the ferociously lyrical New York psychedelic new wave rockers’ new album In Transit is a metaphorical, nonchalantly ominous sort of a mashup of Squeeze and powerpop legends Skooshny. Listen here

Lachan Bryan & the Wildes – The CEO Must Die
A brutally insightful look at the psychology of going postal from the Australian Americana songwriter/bandleader’s purist, impeccably crafted album Black Coffee. Listen here

The OBNIIIs – No Time for the Blues
The closest thing to Radio Birdman that we have right now, lead guitarist Tom Triplett ripping through volleys of chromatic. Surprisingly, the studio version on the Third Time to Harm album is even more volcanic t han the live version on their Live in San Francisco album. Listen here

Jay Brown – Fox News (Jesus Save Me).
Snidely hilarious faux gospel from the Americana songwriter. Anybody who watches that channel should be tied to a chair and forced to listen to this on loop. LMFAO. From the album Beginner Mind. Listen here

Lorraine Leckie – The Everywhere Man
This song about a party-hopping serial killer originally appeared on the album Rudely Interrupted, her elegant chamber pop collaboration with social critic Anthony Haden Guest. But the simmering, noir version on her latest album Rebel Devil Rebel takes the energy up several notches. Listen here 

Mesiko – Mockingbird
A distantly disquieting, pastorally-tinged art-rock anthem with early 70s Pink Floyd resonance: “Put away the mockingbird inside your lungs, keep your cellular calls to a minimum,” drummer Ray Rizzo sings as the band rises to a squall. From the album Solar Door. Listen here

Kelley Swindall – The Murder Song
A talking blues destined to become a Halloween classic. The dark Americana songstress credits her acting coach for helping her get in touch with her dark side on this one – yikes! From her album Pronounced [KEL-lee SWIN-dul] or something like that. Listen here

O’Death – Isavelle
The most ornate, and arguably most menacing track on the individualistic, creepy circus rock/Americana/noir cabaret band’s new album Out Of Hands We Go, a murder ballad fueled by Bob Pycior’s icepick violin. Listen here

Dina Regine – Broken
A brooding yet brisk latin-tinged groove with Steve Cropper-esque guitar: “You beat the wall for your past oppressor – sometimes spirits treat you real kind but most of the time they mess with your mind,” Regine sings with a gentle unease. From the New York soul-rock cult figure’s long-awaited album Right On, Alright. Listen here

Wounded Buffalo Theory – You Have Left Me
A gorgeously angst-fueled art-rock anthem that builds to a thicket of chiming guitars; axeman Kurt Leege takes a rare turn on lead vocals and knocks it out of the park. From the New York art-rockers’ album A Painting of Plans. Listen here, free download

Sam Llanas – To Where You Go From
The elegant, regret-laden final cut from the soulful BoDeans frontman’s new solo album The Whole Night Thru, a vivid, broodingly nocturnal highway theme. Watch the video (be careful – you may have to mute an ad at the beginning since this is a full album stream)

Jessi Robertson – You’re Gonna Burn
Deep inside this volcanic noir soul anthem, it’s a bitter, menacing blues, resonant, sustained lead guitar lines fueling its big upward trajectory as the New York noir Americana singer airs out her powerful voice. From the album I Came From the War. Listen here

Opal Onyx – Arrows Wing
The atmospheric New York art-rockers’ anthem begins as folk noir before rippling keys and atmospheric washes of cello take it even further into the shadows. From the album Delta Sands. Listen here 

Metropolitan Klezmer – Baltic Blue
The shapeshifting klezmer/latin/psychedelic cumbia group cleverly move between grooves as alto saxophonist Debra Kreisberg’s slow, haunting theme heats up, mashing up the blues and Hava Nagila with soulful solos from throughout the band. From the live album Mazel Means Good Luck. Listen here

The Yiddish Art Trio – Guilt
Clarinet powerhouse Michael Winograd wrote this evocative, enveloping theme that pairs his wary, airy lines with dark, full-throttle washes from Patrick Farrell’s accordion, evoking the majesty of a classical organ prelude. From the group’s debut album. Listen here

Mark Sinnis – Your Past May Come Back to Haunt Me
Originally released by the dark country crooner’s original band, art-rockers Ninth House, this reinvents this haunting, crescendoing anthem as low-key but no less intense Americana. From the album album It’s Been a Long Cold Hard Lonely Winter. Here’s a live version

Robin Aigner – Greener
This pensive oldtimey number’s Gatsby-era setting is the exact opposite of what it seems to be, Rima Fand’s violin and Ray Sapirstein’s trumpet flying over a tensely flurrying, flamenco-tinged beat. From the brilliantly lyrical, deviously funny New York tunesmith/chanteuse’s album Con Tender. Listen here, free download

Jennifer Niceley – Land I Love
Swooshes and gentle booms from the drums and gorgeously lingering pedal steel color the song’s Lynchian Julee Cruise atmospherics, the Tennessee songstress brooding over her pastoral imagery and how that beauty “is never coming back.” From the album Birdlight. Listen here

If you missed the explanation on the Best Albums page, all the classical and most of the jazz is more likely to be found at this blog’s older sister blog Lucid Culture.

The 50 Best Albums of 2014

Of the hundreds of thousands of albums released every year, maybe ten percent of them are worth hearing. That’s about twenty-five thousand albums, possibly a lot more – it’s harder to keep track of the numbers than it was in the previous century. A very ambitious blogger can hear bits and pieces of maybe twenty percent of that total. That’s the triage.

A very, very ambitious blogger can hear, at best, maybe ten percent of that small sample, all the way through, at least enough to get the gist of what those few hundred albums are about. So consider this list – and the Best Songs of 2014 and the Best NYC Concerts of 2014 lists here – a celebration of good music released in 2014 or thereabouts rather than anything definitive. Links to listen to each album are included: whenever possible, the link is to an ad-free site like Bandcamp or Soundcloud rather than Spotify. So bookmark this page and come back to enjoy what you might have missed.

Every few years, there’s one album that stands out above all the rest, which transcends genre. This year, that was Big Lazy‘s Don’t Cross Myrtle, a creepy collection of reverb-drenched, Lynchian songs without words and desolate highway themes. Even by the standards of frontman/guitarist Stephen Ulrich’s previous work for film, tv and with this band, he’s never written with more delectable menace. Stream the album via Spotify.

Before the rest of the list kicks in, there are two ringers here from a couple years ago: Great Plains gothic tunesmith Ember Schrag‘s The Sewing Room, a quiet, allusive, disarmingly intense masterpiece (at Bandcamp), and a considerably more ornate and more chromatically-charged release, Philadelphia-based Turkish art-rockers Barakka‘s Uzaklardan (at Reverbnation). Both albums came over the transom too late to be included in the 2012 list here, but each of them is a real gem.

Beyond the choice of Big Lazy as #1, there’s no numerical ranking on this list. For fairness’ sake, the remainder of the fifty are listed in more-or-less chronological order as they first received attention here, without taking release dates into consideration. So the albums at the end aren’t the ass end of the list – they just happened to have been reviewed here at the end of the year. To be clear, the Ministry of Wolves, the last act on this list, are every bit as enjoyable as creepy surf band the Reigning Monarchs, who lead the rest of the parade:

The Reigning Monarchs – Black Sweater Massacre
Marauding crime-surf instrumentals from an unlikely cast of 90s powerpop types. Stream the album via the band’s page

Curtis Eller – How to Make It in Hollywood
Wickedly literate, historically rich, pun-infused and unexpectedly rocking Americana from the charismatic roots music banjoist. Stream the album via Bandcamp

Karla Moheno – Gone to Town
Nobody writes more intriguing noir musical narratives than this inscrutable chanteuse. If Big Lazy hadn’t put out their album this past year, this one would be at the top of the pile with a bullet. Stream the album via Soundcloud

Marissa Nadler – July
Arguably her best album, the atmospheric folk noir chanteuse and storyteller’s lushly enveloping adventure in Pink Floyd-style art-rock. Stream the album via Bandcamp

Marianne Dissard – The Cat. Not Me
A stormy, brilliantly twisted, angst-fueled, epically orchestrated art-rock album by the French southwestern gothic avatar and Sergio Mendoza collaborator. Stream the album via Spotify

Aram Bajakian – There Were Flowers Also in Hell
Darkly blues-inspired, characteristically eclectic, moody instrumentals by the last great lead guitarist from Lou Reed’s Band. Stream the album via Spotify

Rosanne Cash – The River & the Thread
A pensive southern gothic travelogue set to terse Americana rock, arguably as good as Cash’s iconic Black Cadillac album from a few years ago. Stream the album via Spotify

Laura Cantrell – No Way There from Here
The lyrically strongest and most musically diverse album yet by this era’s most compelling voice in classic country music. Stream the album via Spotify

The New Mendicants – Into the Lime
A janglefest of gorgeous Britfolk-infused powerpop from Joe Pernice of the Pernice Brothers, Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake and the Sadies’ Mike Belistky. Stream the album via Spotify

Siach HaSadeh – Song of the Grasses
Slowly unwinding, raptly intense improvisations on classic Jewish cantorial and folk themes from over the centuries. Stream the album via Bandcamp

Son of Skooshny – Mid Century Modern
Mark Breyer achieved cult status in the 90s with powerpop vets Skooshny and continues to write biting, lyrically rich, beautifully jangly songs. Stream the album via Bandcamp

Isle of Klezbos – Live from Brooklyn
A deliriously fun concert recording by the mostly-female, pioneering New York klezmer whirlwind. Stream the album via Bandcamp

New Electric Ride – Balloon Age
Period-perfect, fantastic mid-60s style psychedelic rock in a Dukes of Stratosphear or Love Camp 7 vein. Stream the album via Bandcamp

The Baseball Project – 3rd
Catchy, characteristically insightful powerpop, paisley underground and janglerock from Steve Wynn and Peter Buck’s supergroup, rich in diamond lore from across the decades. Stream the album via Spotify

Ichka – Podorozh
Meaning “journey” in Russian. the new album by the Montreal klezmer group blazes through bristling chromatic themes. Stream the album via Bandcamp

Jaro Milko & the Cubalkanics – Cigarros Explosivos
The Firewater lead guitarist’s adventure in psychedelic cumbias comes across as a sort of a Balkan version of Chicha Libre. Stream the album via Bandcamp 

Bad Buka -Through the Night
A harder-rocking, more theatrical take on Gogol Bordello-style Slavic punk from these New York guys and girls. Stream the album via Bandcamp

Gord Downie, the Sadies & the Conquering Sun
Ominously jangly southwestern gothic and paisley underground rock from the Canadian Americana band and the Tragically Hip frontman. Stream the album via the band’s page

Cheetah Chrome – Solo
It took practically twenty years for this searing, intense album by the punk-era guitar icon to see the light of day, but the wait was worth it. Stream the album via Spotify

Andrew Bird – Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of
The cult favorite Americana songwriter plunders the catalog of another similarly literate, frequently creepy Americana act, the Handsome Family, for an insightful and lyrically rich collection of covers. Stream the album via Soundcloud

Guided by Voices – Cool Planet
If the last of the final four albums from the indie powerpop band’s marathon of recording over the last two years is really their swan song, they went out with a bang. Stream the album via Spotify

Golem – Tanz
A wickedly hilarious, blistering mix of edgy punk rock, crazed circus rock and straight-up hotshot klezmer. Stream the album via Spotify

Matt Kanelos – Love Hello
Pensive, allusively lyrical Radiohead-influenced psychedelia and art-rock from the popular NYC jazz and rock keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist. Stream the album via Bandcamp

Spottiswoode – English Dream
Purist, richly arranged, artsy janglerock with psychedelic and Britfolk tinges from the cult favorite lyrical songwriter and bandleader. Stream the album via Bandcamp

The Skull Practitioners – ST1
Searing, pummeling, catchy noiserock and riff-driven jams from Steve Wynn lead guitarist Jason Victor’s explosive trio. Stream the album via Bandcamp

HUMANWINE – Fighting Naked
Creepy, menacing, chromatically-fueled narratives from an all-too-plausible, Orwellian nightmare future from the politically spot-on Vermont band. Stream the album via Bandcamp – free download

Amanda Thorpe – Bewitching Me: The Lyrics of Yip Harburg
The riveting Britfolk chanteuse reinvents songs by the Tin Pan Alley figure as noir-inflected janglerock, backed by a stellar NYC band. Stream the album via Spotify

Changing Modes – The Paradox of Traveling Light
Frontwoman/multi-instrumentalist Wendy Griffiths’ band’s most ornate, intricately crafted art-rock masterpiece, with the occasional departure into punk or powerpop. Stream the album via Soundcloud

The Bakersfield Breakers – In the Studio with the Bakersfield Breakers
These New York surf and twang instrumentalists put their own kick-ass spin on a classic Telecaster-driven sound from the early 60s. Stream the album via Bandcamp

The Sometime Boys – Riverbed
One of the most distinctively unique bands on this list, they blend newgrass, country blues, funky rock and Nashville gothic into a spicy, anthemically psychedelic, lyrically intense blend. Stream the album via the band’s page 

The Immigrant Union – Anyway
The Australian band – a Dandy Warhols spinoff – craft deliciously catchy Rickenbacker guitar janglerock. Stream the album via Bandcamp

Bombay Rickey – Cinefonia
The year’s best debut album is by spectacular, intense singer/accordionist Kamala Samkaram’s ornate, intricate, surfy Bollywood-inspired art-rock band. Stream the album via Bandcamp 

Hannah Thiem – Brym
Lush, moody, Middle Eastern and Nordic-inspired violin grooves and cinematic soundscapes from Copal‘s dynamic frontwoman/composer. Stream the album via Soundcloud 

The Larch – In Transit
Characteristically urbane, insightfully lyrical, Costello-esque powerpop with searing lead guitar from the highly regarded New York quartet. Stream the album via Bandcamp

The OBNIIIs – Third Time to Harm
The twin guitar-driven Austin garage punks are probably the closest thing we have to Radio Birdman these days. They released two albums this past year, one a sizzling live set, and this studio release which is more psychedelic and every bit as volcanic. Stream the album via Spotify

The Wytches – Annabel Dream Reader
Arguably the darkest album on this list, this harrowing collection mines the desperation of living at the fringes of society, set to scorching, reverb-drenched noir rock. Stream the album via Spotify.

Lorraine Leckie & Her Demons – Rebel Devil Devil Rebel
The Canadian gothic chanteuse returns to her fiery, electric Neil Young-influenced roots with this stampeding effort, driven by guitar great Hugh Pool’s ferocious attack. Stream the album via Bandcamp

Ward White – Ward White Is the Matador
The most intricately literate of all the albums on this list. Nobody writes more intriguing, or menacing, rock narratives than this New York tunesmith. And he’s never rocked harder, either. Stream the album via Bandcamp 

Jessie Kilguss – Devastate Me
The title is apt – the NYC folk noir singer/bandleader offers a quietly shattering. impeccably crafted collection of Nashville gothic and paisley underground rock. Stream the album via Spotify

Mesiko – Solar Door
One of the most tunefully eclectic albums on the list, the debut by Norden Bombsight’s David Marshall and Rachael Bell with all-star drummer Ray Rizzo has postpunk, paisley underground, psychedelia and kinetic powerpop, sometimes all in the same song. Stream the album via Bandcamp

O’Death – Out of Hands We Go
A characteristically careening, ominous mix of Nashville gothic, oldtimey, circus rock and noir cabaret from these Americana individualists. Stream the album via Bandcamp

Chuck Prophet – Night Surfer
One of the great lead guitarists in rock, Prophet is also a great tunesmith who spans from psychedelia to janglerock to Americana and powerpop. Stream the album via Spotify

Wounded Buffalo Theory – A Painting of Plans
The New York art-rockers have never sounded more focused, or more intense on this richly ornate, psychedelic collection. Stream the album via the band’s page, free download

Mark Rogers & Mary Byrne – I Line My Days Along Your Weight
A brooding, plaintive and vividly lyrical folk noir masterpiece, Byrne’s tersely evocative lyrics and luminous vocals over a darkly magical web of acoustic textures. Stream the album via Spotify

Jessi Robertson – I Came From the War
Combat is a metaphor for all sorts of angst on the riveting soul and Americana-influenced singer/bandleader’s intricate, atmospheric latest release. Stream the album via Bandcamp

Metropolitan Klezmer – Mazel Means Good Luck
An especially wild live album by this deliciously shapeshifting, latin and reggae-influenced New York Jewish music juggernaut. Stream the album via Bandcamp

Matt Ulery – In the Ivory
The jazz bassist’s lush, rippling compositions blend soaring neoromantic themes, edgy improvisation, cinematic instrumental narratives and frequently haunting interludes. Stream the album via Bandcamp

Jenifer Jackson – TX Sunrise
One of the most diverse songwriters here, she’s done everything from Beatlesque bossa pop to psychedelia to Nashville gothic. This is her deepest and most rewarding dive into Americana, comprising both classic C&W and southwestern gothic. Stream the album via Bandcamp

Mark Sinnis – It’s Been a Long Cold Hard Lonely Winter
A death-obsessed hard honkytonk album from powerful baritone crooner and leader of cult favorite dark rockers Ninth House. Stream the album via Spotify

The Brooklyn What – Minor Problems
The best short album of 2014 has explosive, dynamic guitar duels, a catchy anthemic sensibility, psychedelic intensity and edgy, sarcastic wit. Stream the album via Bandcamp

Robin Aigner – Con Tender
Historically rich, period-perfect, sultry and often hilariously lyrical tunesmithing equally informed by stark southern folk music, vintage blues and oldtimey swing jazz. Stream the album via Bandcamp, free download

The Ministry of Wolves – Happily Ever After
The second album of creepily theatrical art-rock songs based on Grimm’s Fairy Tales by the all-star band of Botanica‘s Paul Wallfisch, Alexander Hacke and Danielle de Picciotto from Crime & the City Solution and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds co-founder Mick Harvey. Stream the album via Spotify 

If you’re wondering why there’s hardly anything in the way of jazz or classical music here, that stuff is more likely to be found at this blog’s older sister blog, Lucid Culture.

The Best New York Concerts of 2014

Of all the year-end lists here, including the best albums and best songs of 2014 lists, this one is the most individual, and the most fun to put together. But as amazing a year for live music as it was, there were twice as many enticing shows that this blog never had the chance to cover as there are on this list. It’s called having a life – or trying to, in between concerts, anyway.

So consider this an informed survey rather than anything definitive, and ultimately, a reason for guarded optimism. Much as gentrification destroys the arts like Walmart destroys local economies, neither one has killed us. Yet.

What was the single best show of the year? Four multi-band bills stand out from the rest. Back in October at Trans-Pecos, charismatic Great Plains gothic bandleader Ember Schrag played a wickedly lyrical mix of mostly new material, some of it with a string section, the rest fueled by the snarling, spectacular lead guitar of Bob Bannister. Also playing that night: rapturously hypnotic, melancholic cellist/songwriter Meaner Pencil, dark art-rock duo Christy & Emily, plus a starkly entrancing set by two jazz icons, guitarist Mary Halvorson and violist Jessica Pavone.

A month earlier, renaissance woman Sarah Small put together a similarly magical night at Joe’s Pub featuring her Middle Eastern-inspired trio Hydra with Rima Fand and Yula Beeri as well as her otherworldly Balkan choral trio Black Sea Hotel with Willa Roberts and Shelley Thomas. There were also brief sets from the reliably entertaining all-female accordion group the Main Squeeze Orchestra and a trio version of one of NYC’s original Romany bands, Luminescent Orchestrii.

In mid-November, the Bowery Electric triplebill of hauntingly catchy Nashville gothic tunesmith/singer Jessie Kilguss, similarly lyrical and vocally gifted art-rock songwriter Ward White – both playing an album release show – and well-loved literate Americana rocker Matt Keating was pretty transcendent. And let’s not forget the Alwan-a-Thon back in January, the annual celebration of cutting-edge sounds from across the Arabic-speaking world held at financial district music mecca Alwan for the Arts. This one featured two floors of amazing acts including intense Lebanese-born pianist Tarek Yamani and his trio, luminous Balkan chanteuse Eva Salina, amazingly psychedelic 1960s Iranian art-dance-rock revivalists Mitra Sumara, sizzling Romany party monsters Sazet Band, and the all-star Alwan Ensemble, who played bristling jams on classic themes from Egypt, Syria and Iraq.

Rather than trying to rank the rest of these shows, they’re listed in chronological order:

Avi Fox-Rosen and Raya Brass Band at Rock Shop, 1/9/14 – Fox-Rosen had just released an album every single month in 2013, so this was a triumphant sort of greatest hits live gig for the sharply lyrical, catchy art-rock tunesmith followed by a wild vortex of Balkan jamming, the group down on the floor in front of the stage surrounded by dancers.

LJ Murphy & the Accomplices at Parkside Lounge, 2/1/14 – the charismatic, nattily dressed noir rocker led his explosive, blues-fueled band through a careening set of intensely lyrical, distinctively New York narratives.

Siach Hasadeh and Ichka in the basement at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue on the Upper West Side, 3/4/14 – every Tuesday, more or less, drummer Aaron Alexander – a prime mover in Jewish jazz circles – books a series of reliably excellent bands here. This twinbill kicked off with a rapturously haunting set by Montreal’s Siach Hasadeh followed by another Montreal outfit, the high-energy Ichka and then a jam with members of both bands joined by audience members.

Tammy Faye Starlite singing Marianne Faithfull’s Broken English at the Lincoln Center Atrium, 3/13/14 – a counterintuitive, sardonically hilarious reinterpretation of a haphazardly iconic new wave era album.

Jenifer Jackson at the Rockwood, 3/26/14 – the eclectic Austin songwriter brought her new band from her adopted hometown, reinventing older material and newer stuff as well with Kullen Fuchs’ rippling vibraphone as the lead instrument.

Gord Downie & the Sadies at Bowery Ballroom, 5/2/14 – a furious, often haunting sprint through the Canadian gothic Americana band’s most recent collaboration with the Tragically Hip frontman, ending with an explosively psychedelic Iggy Pop cover.

Hannah Thiem at Mercury Lounge, 5/29/14 – the haunting violinist/composer teamed up with an A-list string section to air out soaringly ethereal, cinematic new Nordic and Middle Eastern-tinged electroacoustic material from her latest album.

Nick Waterhouse at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar in Greenpoint, 6/13/14 – the LA noir soul bandleader and a killer pickup band featuring Burnt Sugar’s Paula Henderson on baritone sax brought moody Lynchian sounds to this grotesquely trendoid-infested space.

Kayhan Kalhor and Jivan Gasparyan at the World Financial Center, 6/14/14 – the legendary Iranian-Kurdish spike fiddle virtuoso and composer joined the similarly legendary Armenian duduk reedman for a rapturous, otherworldly duo set of improvisations on classic themes from each others’ traditions.

No Grave Like the Sea at Ramirez Park in Bushwick, 6/21/14 – after a day running around aimlessly trying to find bands playing daytime shows during the annual Make Music NY buskerfest, the volcanically sweeping, epic set by bassist Tony Maimone’s cinematic postrock band made it all worthwhile.

Karen Dahlstrom at the American Folk Art Museum, 6/27/14 – while she may be best known as one of the four first-rate songwriters in Bobtown, arguably the best gothic Americana harmony band around, Dahlstrom is also just as captivating as a solo performer. She took advantage of the museum’s sonics and sang a-cappella and ran through a tantalizingly brief set of haunting, historically rich original songs from her Idaho-themed album Gem State.

Serena Jost at the Rockwood, 6/29/14 – a lush, sweeping, richly enveloping, tuneful show by the art-rock cellist/multi-instrumentalist singer and her band. The all-too-brief, eclectic set by southwestern gothic bandleader Sergio Mendoza y la Orkesta about an hour beforehand at South Street Seaport – with psychedelic cumbias, rumba rock and the most twisted Fleetwood Mac cover ever – got the evening off to a great start.

Changing Modes at Bowery Electric, 7/19/14 – keyboardist/bassist Wendy Griffiths’ slinky, shapeshifting art-rock band has never sounded more anthemic or intense. And earlier that afternoon, scorching sets by the noisily atmospheric VBA, pummeling postrock/metal band Biblical and dark garage punks Obits at Union Pool kicked off what might have been the year’s single best day of music.

Jacco Gardner at South Street Seaport, 8/15/14 – he sort of plays the same song over and over, a dreamy, gorgeously chiming, psychedelic sunshine pop number straight out of London, 1967. But it’s a great song, and it was worth sticking around for what were essentially variations on a theme.

Bliss Blood & Al Street at Brooklyn Rod & Gun Club, 8/27/14 – the lurid but plaintive and haunting torch song icon teamed up with the brilliant, flamenco-inspired guitarist for a riveting, Lynchian set of mostly new material from their phenomenally good forthcoming album.

Gemma Ray at Rough Trade, 9/13/14 – the British noir songwriter played a similarly Lynchian set in a stark duo show, just guitar and drums, a showcase for her smart, individualistic, creepy playing and macabre songwriting.

The Dances of the World Chamber Ensemble at St. Marks Church, 9/14/14 – the improvisationally-inclined, cinematic instrumentalists ran through a magical blend of African, Middle Eastern, tango and jazz pieces by frontwoman/pianist/flutist Diana Wayburn.

Chicha Libre at Barbes, 9/15/14 – sadly, NYC’s funnest band have since gone on “indefinite hiatus,” whatever that means. At least they were on the top of their game when they played a wild, darkly psychedelic mix of trippy, surfy Peruvian psychedelic cumbia sounds in one of their last shows of the year.

Wounded Buffalo Theory playing Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway at Rock Shop, 9/19/14 – the art-rockers joined with a revolving cast including members of the Sometime Boys, Afroskull, 29 Hour Music People, and the Trouble Dolls for an impressively spot-on, epic recreation of the cult favorite 1974 art-rock album, WNYC’s John Hockenberry reading Peter Gabriel’s drolly surreal album liner notes in between songs.

Souren Baronian’s Taksim at Barbes, 9/23/14 – this isn’t the show reviewed at this blog back in June. That show featured the octogenarian multi-reedman and his hypnotic but kinetic band playing an unselfconsciously deep, soulful blend of Armenian music and incisive American jazz. His next gig there was even better!

Sherita at Barbes, 9/30/14 – the Brooklyn Balkan supergroup of sorts – reedman Greg Squared of Raya Brass Band, violinist Rima Fand of Luminescent Orchestrii, percussionis/singer Renée Renata Bergan and oudist Adam Good – played an alternately sizzling and sepulchral mix of originals and classic themes from Turkey, Greece and here as well.

Mary Lee Kortes at the Rockwood, 10/7/14 – the brilliant Americana songwriter and chanteuse and her band, feauturing John Mellencamp guitarist Andy York, aired out dazzlingly eclectic, intensely lyrical songs from her forthcoming album, The Songs of Beulah Rowley, a mix of saloon jazz, torch song and plaintive Americana.

The Skull Practitioners at Pine Box Rock Shop in Bushwick, 10/31/14 – it was the ultimate Halloween show, Steve Wynn lead guitar monster Jason Victor’s otherworldly, pummeling noiserock trio building a menacing but wickedly catchy vortex. That their half-hour set was as good as some of the four-hour bills on this list testifies to how volcanically good it was.

Karla Moheno at the Rockwood, 11/18/14 – the inscrutable noir songwriter and guitarist led a killer, Lynchian band through a mix of low-key, murderous, mysteriously lyrical narratives and more upbeat but no less shadowy material.

Mamie Minch at Barbes, 12/20/14 – this is why it always pays to wait til the very end of the year to finish this list. The charismatic resonator guitarist/singer and oldtime blues maven teamed up with Kill Henry Suger drummer Dean Sharenow for a killer set of blues from over the decades along with similarly edgy, sardonically aphoristic original material

If you’re wondering why there isn’t any jazz or classical music to speak of on this list, that’s because this blog has an older sister blog, Lucid Culture, which covers that kind of stuff in more detail.

A couple of things may jump out at you here. Nineteen of these shows were in Manhattan, eleven were in Brooklyn and one in Queens, which is open to multiple interpretations. More instructive is the fact that nineteen of the thirty-one were free shows where the audience passed around a tip bucket rather than paying a cover at the door. Most interestingly, women artists dominated this list. 26 out of of the 42 acts here were either women playing solo or fronting a group. That’s a trend. You’re going to see more of that here in the next couple of days.

Death By Audio or Vice? Not a Hard Choice

If a venue doesn’t book good music, should it exist?


Why should we care if Death by Audio or Glasslands bit the dust? To castigate Vice Media – who are taking over the Williamsburg space that housed both clubs – is absurd. Vice has a reputation for brave reportage well beyond the scope of corporate media. Aside from that free jazz night once a month at Death by Audio, neither of those two venues ever took any chances, or showed any real balls, when it came to booking music.

And isn’t it funny that far less ink has been spilled over the closure of Rodeo Bar, Spike Hill and the Ding Dong Lounge, venues that actually served a useful purpose and at least to some extent supported viable scenes?

The general perception these days whenever a club closes is that gentrification is to blame. While that’s usually the case, there’s a misunderstanding of how that pathology works. To use a gentrifier buzzword, a lot of these closures are a market correction. Much as extreme rent increases killed off the Rodeo, Spike Hill, the Ding Dong Lounge and others, there’s an elephant in the room that’s just as responsible. That elephant is the overproliferation of outer-borough bars, itself a toxic by-product of gentrification.

The obvious question is how a surplus of venues could possibly be bad for New York. Why should a musician have shlep all of his or her gear into Manhattan when they could just walk to a gig at their local? Why deal with the endless hassle of the trains when there’s a place just down the block that has music that’s probably better than what you could find in Manhattan? And isn’t all this just a return to an earlier period in New York history, when music was more of a local phenomenon, with neighborhoods more defined along ethnic lines?

And aren’t all these bars a boon to the economy as well? Think of the tax dollars. And don’t people actually spend more at their neighborhood bar than they would if they were hanging in Manhattan? If you’re taking the train home, you have to watch your back. But you can get as pie-eyed as you want at your local and then stumble straight to bed.

The result of all this is less serendipitous than the corporate media and their imitators in the blogosphere want you to believe. For one, all these new Brooklyn quasi-venues, most of them without any kind of decent sound system, have balkanized the music scene, which makes it exponentially more difficult for a band or an artist to gain traction and build an audience. Nobody is going to come see you play in Red Hook or Ditmas Park except for people who live there. But if you play Manhattan, pretty much everybody can get there.

Except that nobody does. Nobody wants to leave their neighborhood anymore – and this blog is just as guilty on that score as the rest of you are. And even if you were willing to grapple with finding a way home on the train in the wee hours, the real estate bubble has made it all but impossible to open new venues in Manhattan. Is the city so strapped for cash (yes) that we have to turn every neighborhood into a vomitorium for the sons and daughters of New Jersey Wall Street money? Ten years ago, the idea of Santacon invading Bushwick would have been just as laughable as it is now – for completely different reasons.

What economy do these bars benefit? It’s Robin Hood in reverse. Gentrifiers own them, and gentrifiers work there. And none of those people really need to work for a living: they’re just picking up beer money. Unless you count the Mexican guy slaving away in the kitchen sixty hours a week, off the books, for minimum wage.

Rodeo Bar, on the other hand, drew a diverse crowd. Yeah, a lot of those people were Baruch College kids who wanted to get as trashed as possible and just yelled louder and louder once the band started. As the neighborhood became overrun with yuppies, the din went up another notch. But much as classic country music is a niche subgenre now, there’s money in niche audiences, and the Rodeo folks were keenly aware of that. It might be a stretch to call the Rodeo the equivalent of CBGB for country music in New York, but it was home to a genuine scene, even if that scene went into decline in the past few years. Ridiculous as it might seem to say that Hill Country Brooklyn put the Rodeo out of business, there’s more than a grain of truth to that.

The Ding Dong Lounge was a local Harlem bar and also a spot for punk rock shows, off and on, for more than two decades. If you didn’t live in the neighborhood or didn’t have friends who played there, you probably didn’t know it existed. It was dark and dingy and cheap and back in the day had a good jukebox: sort of a Harlem counterpart to O’Connor’s in Park Slope, another legendary neighborhood spot priced out of existence.

The great loss here is Spike Hill. It was an ideal place to play, just steps from the Bedford Avenue subway. Sure, the club went through a down phase a couple of years ago, trying to sell tickets and compete with the trendoid venues, and making a dubious deal with an online booking scam didn’t help. But they learned from those mistakes, and booking was on the upswing again. They had a backline, the sound there was surprisingly good and the crowds were a lot more diverse than you typically see in that neighborhood, just like the music. And it’s not like the venue wasn’t raking in the dough. When a busy bar on the Bedford strip can’t make enough to survive there, that’s more than a canary in a coal mine: that’s a screaming eagle.

For a gentrifier venue, Death by Audio drew a surprisingly mixed crowd, if only because ownership was cool enough to let neighborhood kids and local stoners in to smoke weed. Which isn’t to say that those crowds mixed. And ultimately the venue was better than the music there. Sure, some good bands passed through, but pound for pound, Death by Audio was no more important to the New York music scene than Arlene’s is now.

As far as Glasslands is concerned, there are plenty of gay bars and loft spaces where newcomers from Laguna Beach and Lake Wayzata can get their fill of being “in a band” until their trust funds kick in and they move to Beacon or Provincetown. They won’t be missed. If the owners choose not to reopen the venue elsewhere – which ostensibly they plan to – they can always repurpose their Greenpoint piano bar the Manhattan Inn.

Can We Please Never Ever Hear Xmas Music Again?

How sadistic is it to review an album of Christmas music the day after the holiday? Well, kind of. But there’s a catch here. See, Super Hi-Fi‘s Yule Analog Vol. 1: A Very Dubby Christmas – streaming at Spotify – was written by and for people who HATE Christmas music.

And who doesn’t? Come to think of it, Hanukkah music is pretty awful too. There isn’t any of that on this masterfully crafted dub reggae remake of a bunch of old carols, but there might as well be: the source material for most of these songs is quickly subsumed in an icy wash of echo and reverb and tasty trombone. The point of all this is that it’s good all year long, a good joke to pull on a roomful of stoners:

“Dude, you just put on a Christmas album! Hahahahaha!”

“You’ve been listening to it for the last half hour, doofus.”

Bassist Ezra Gale rescues We Three Kings with a classic minor-key riff, and does much the same with his arrangements of the other cheeseballs on the program. To his infinite credit, most of this stuff is just plain good, woozy, echoey dub in a purist oldschool Black Ark vein. Beyond fiddling with the knobs, his secret is to reharmonize the melodies just a smidge, an old jazz trope.

The trombonists – Rick Parker and Alex Asher (of John Brown’s Body) can barely contain their cynicism on It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, but Gale’s chart quickly sends them off on a soca tangent with Jon Lipscomb’s guitar spinning amiably behind them. There’s a second version of that song later on that’s much better, and catchier, for being unrecognizable.

Little Drummer Boy, arguably the ickiest Christmas song ever, will leave you on the floor laughing: it’s an audio whippit, courtesy of Lipscomb’s full-on nitrous assault. Gale and the band get away with leaving Go Tell It on the Mountain more intact than most everything here, which works since it’s a spiritual and hasn’t been played to death during the holiday season. The second version of the song, which appears later, is even better and more dynamic.

The band flips the script by kicking off God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen as a ska tune, drummer Madhu Siddappa keeping it pretty straight-ahead before Gale gets crazy with the faders and the reverb knob. There are two versions of the title track, the second one longer and with more of a duppy-invoking 70s Jamaican atmosphere than the other. Either way, it’s the most hypnotic, psychedelic piece of music here, and if it’s not an original, what it was to begin with is a mystery. There’s also a ska version of Auld Lang Syne that sounds like it was inspired by a lot more beer than weed. For those whose contempt for Christmas music hasn’t reached breaking point, this album’s good for plenty of laughs.

The Ministry of Wolves Update the Brothers Grimm with Twisted Art-Rock

You could make a case for the Ministry of Wolves as a gothic rock supergroup; or you could take them up a few notches and call them the latest incarnation of the urbane existentialist art-rock that Botanica‘s Paul Wallfisch has mined so memorably since the 90s. Alexander Hacke and Danielle de Picciotto are members of the latest edition of Crime & the City Solution; Hacke also did a long stretch in Einsturzende Neubauten. Mick Harvey was a founding member of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds; Wallfisch is the least gothic but most musically defining member of this unlikely and wildly successful pickup band, which first came together to supply a soundtrack to Claudia Bauer’s theatre production Republik der Wolfe. That spectacle was first staged at the Theater Dortmund in Germany, where Wallfisch is artistic director. Its songs use Grimm’s Fairy Tales and most specifically, Anne Sexton’s take on them from her 1971 collection, Transformations, as a stepping-off point. The group released many of the songs from the production earlier this year; their new album, Happily Ever After (streaming at Spotify) includes unreleased material as well as several tracks with lyrics in the original German.

De Picciotto delivers both the English version and a German translation of Sexton’s pointedly sarcastic poem The Gold Key (Der Goldene Schluessel) with counterintuitive brightness over Harvey’s  lingering guitar multitracks and Wallfisch’s ominously reverberating Wurlitzer. It makes a good title theme here and would work just as well for pretty much any horror film. She does the same with a creepy, music box-like version of White Snake Waltz (Die Weisse Schlange). Wallfisch casts Little Red Riding Hood as a Jersey tourist in Manhattan on a Saturday night in a Lou Reed-inspired narrative, over a noisy one-chord jam that’s one part Taxi Driver soundtrack, one part Blind Idiot God.

Hacke narrates a particularly twisted version of the most epic of the previously unreleased tracks here, The 12 Dancing Princesses. The guys in the band shamble through the chilling folk-rock of The Wonderful Musician, “Like a fish on a hook, dancing the dance of death,” Hacke’s banjo adding rustic textures in the background.

Rapunzel gets a lushly angst-fueled, absolutely Lynchian overture in her name, via Wallfisch’s one-man multi-keyboard orchestra. Der Froschkoenig (The Frog Prince), starts as a stately waltz and brings back the undiluted menace of the opening theme. Wallfisch’s piano drives the final cut, Rumpelstilzchen, with a noir boogie riff as it reaches its expected conclusion. You’ll see this here again on the best albums of 2014 page in a couple of days.

Jennifer Niceley’s Birdlight Reveals a Unique, Captivating Southern Voice

Over the last few years, Tennessee songwriter Jennifer Niceley has distilled a distinctive blend of noir torch song, Americana, Nashville gothic, classic southern soul and blues. Her latest album, Birdlight, is streaming at Soundcloud. In recent years, the twang has dropped from Niceley’s voice, replaced by a smoky, artfully nuanced, jazzy delivery. The obvious comparison is Norah Jones, both vocally and songwise, although Niceley has more of an edge and a way with a lyrical turn of phrase. As with her previous releases, the new album features a first-class band: Jon Estes on guitars, keys and bass; Elizabeth Estes on violin; Evan Cobb on tenor sax; Steve Pardo on clarinet and Imer Santiago on trumpet, with Tommy Perkinsen and Dave Racine sharing the drum chair.

The album conjures a classy southern atmosphere: imagine yourself sipping a mint julep in the shade of a cottonwood, the sound of a muted trumpet wafting from across the creek, and you’re in the ballpark. The opening track, Nightbird, sets the stage, a nocturne with Niceley’s gently alluring delivery over a pillowy, hypnotic backdrop livened by samples of what sounds like somebody clumping around in the woods. The second number, Ghosts, is a balmy shuffle lit up by Estes’ deliciously slipsliding Memphis soul riffs, and picks up with a misty orchestral backdrop. .

Niceley sings New Orleans cult legend Bobby Charles’ Must Be in a Good Place Now with a hazy late-summer delivery over a nostalgic horn section and Estes’ keening steel guitar, and a little dixieland break over a verse. The Lynchian Julee Cruise atmospherics in Land I Love, from the swooshes and gentle booms from the drums and the lingering pedal steel, are absolutely gorgeous, Niceley brooding over her pastoral imagery and how that beauty “is never coming back.”

What Wild Is This switches gears for a lushly arranged, bossa-tinged groove; then Niceley switches up again with a gently swaying western swing cover of Jimmie Rodgers’ Hard Times. She keeps the jazzy-tinged atmosphere going with a restrained version of Tom Waits’ You Can Never Hold Back Spring.

But’s Niceley’s originals that are the real draw here, like Goodbye Kiss, a wistful lament that along with Land I Love is the most plaintive, affecting track here: “Unfinished visions keep hanging around like fog in the trees,” Niceley muses. The album’s title track is a brief inetrumental, Niceley’s elegant guitar fingerpicking against washes of violin and accordion. She winds it up with the hypnotic, surreal Strange Times, whose wary psychedelics wouldn’t be out of place on a Jenifer Jackson record. Lean back with a little bourbon and drift off to a place that time forgot with this one: what a great way to stay warm on a gloomy winter evening.

Sherita Bring Their Haunting, Intense Balkan-Inspired Sounds to the East Village

Sherita play a mix of their own haunting, slinky arrangements of otherworldly Balkan and Turkish folk songs. along with pensively expansive, often hypnotic original material. With the off-the-cuff electricity of a first-class jamband, sizzling chops and the purist attention to detail of serious musicologists, they’re one of New York’s best bands. Their name is not Middle Eastern but Brooklynese: Sherita is the pink dinosaur on the billboard over the garage at the corner of Atlantic and Classon Avenues in Bed-Stuy. The group’s most recent Barbes show was one of the most riveting performances by any band in this city this year: you’ll see it here on the list of New York City’s best concerts in a couple of days. The band’s next gig is Saturday night, January 3 at around 11:30 at Drom, followed by the more explosive and similarly improvisational New York Gypsy All-Stars. Cover is a measly ten bucks.

At their Barbes gig a few weeks back, percussionist Renée Renata Bergan sang many of the songs in a cool, richly modulated,  sometimes wounded alto as she tapped out beats that ranged from skeletally tricky to sepulchrally boomy. Clarinetist Greg Squared saves his pyrotechnics for his other project, the considerably louder Raya Brass Band: this group gives him the chance to explore more pensive, lower-register terrain. Throughout the set, his lines intertwined or echoed alongside Rima Fand’s alternately stark and kinetic violin while oudist Adam Good added similarly thoughtful, often brooding solos when he wasn’t holding the songs together with his intricate picking.

Bergan sang their eerily dancing, chromatically bristling, Bulgarian-tinged opening number, Fand firing off a gorgeously spiraling solo before the clarinet took the song in a more carefree, laid-back direction. Good opened the second number with a somber improvisation; Bergan led them through a couple of stately verses before a long, moody, atmospheric jam, violin and clarinet trading echoes a la Philip Glass. They followed a bouncy uptempo dance with a suspenseful All Tomorrow’s Parties-style dirge featuring a long misterioso oud solo. The rest of the set featured a slinky Greek vocal duet; a longingly soaring nocturne sung by Fand; a gently enveloping waltz; and a sardonically biting Greg Squared original, Surrounded by Sarahs (a New York phenomenon if there ever was one) that made a long launching pad for searing clarinet riffage. They wound up with an energetic anthem by Fand that blended elements of flamenco and the Middle East; she explained that it was inspired by her mom, who has a habit of getting up in the middle of the night to write down poetry that she’s literally dreamed up.

Marc Cary Delivers Depth and Gravitas and Redemptive Fun at a Harlem Jazz Shrine

Pianist Marc Cary and his Focus Trio – Rashaan Carter on bass and Sameer Gupta on drums.- played their opening set at Minton’s uptown last night like a suite. It was as if they felt the cold and the snow flurries outside – not to mention the tension and grief this city’s endured in the last couple of weeks – and decided to welcome everyone and warm them up with a healthy dose of hot pepper. But they eschewed jalapeno jump for a lingering, resonant bhut jolokia burn. That Indian pepper reference is deliberate, and makes sense since Cary draws so deeply on Indian classical music, plunging in and savoring its otherworldly qualities to a greater degree than most western musicians.

Gupta’s relentless, restless energy, implied clave and wry repartee maintained a livewire energy as Cary mined the low registers for pitchblende atmosphere, with long, pedaled choral phrases, suspenseful modalities, minimalistic, rhythmic motives and the occasional droll phrase or two on an old analog synth perched above the piano keys. Although he got more animated and threw in rippling, bluesy riffage and runs toward the end of the set, most of it was lowlit, dark and mystical.

The rhythm section got to expand throughout a catchy number inspired by a transcontinental flight sitting next to Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal, who used his time on the plane to write a brand new tune. Betty’s Waltz, a stirring, bittersweetly assertive Betty Carter homage from Cary’s latest album Four Directions, became a platform for brooding, Satie-esque resonance. Cary hit a peak by reinventing his mentor Abbey Lincoln’s Throw It Away as a bitterly ambered mood piece – it was there that he chilled out on the synth, adding only some eerily echoey blues phrases that brought the song toward a corporate idiom, but in an out-of-focus and sardonic way. No doubt Lincoln would have loved that.

Meanwhile, it fell to Carter to hold the center as he added subtle colors when he wasn’t underpinning the songs with a muscularly slinky pulse to match Gupta’s clenched-teeth, tersely rapidfire volleys. Cary’s next NYC gig is at the Cell Theatre, 338 W 23rd St (8th & 9th Aves) on Jan 10.

A word about the vemue: Cary told the crowd that of all the false starts that various owners have taken in the Minton’s space over the past couple of decades, this version of the club is the best yet. He’s right. It’s a cross between the Vanguard and a swanky soul food emporium like Sylvia’s: plush ambience, inobtrusive but attentive service, expertly tricked-out sonics channeling the ghosts of history. Bebop was invented on this very same stage (or at least a significant piece of it) back in the late 30s, when the Ellington band held their famous cutting contests here. This incarnation of the club seems to draw a late crowd, and party people: it’s a Harlem jazz shrine that ought to be a must-see destination for anyone who cares about the music.