New York Music Daily

Love's the Only Engine of Survival

Tag: rock music

Miwa Gemini Brings Her Darkly Surreal Narratives and Southwestern Gothic Tinged Sounds to the South Slope

This blog has called songwriter Miwa Gemini “sort of the missing link between Shonen Knife and Calexico.” The Japan-born, Brooklyn-based singer and multi-instrumentalist is one of the most unique tunesmiths to emerge from this city in the past several years. She populates her songs with quirky characters she calls “muses.” She got her start as a member of well-loved all-female accordion ensemble the Main Squeeze Orchestra. Since New York venues emerged from lockdown hell, she’s returned to playing with a rotating cast of supporting musicians. Her next gig is on April 29 at 4 PM at Freddy’s with a three-piece unit including Shoko Morikawa and taiko drummer/pianist Midori Larsen.

Miwa Gemini’s latest album Will I Fly – streaming at Bandcamp – was one of the innumerable great records that got lost in the ugly early days of the 2020 lockdown and sank without a trace. Gemini can be poignant one moment and ridiculously funny the next, sometimes in the same song. The music is on the brooding side, although there are many lighter moments. It’s a full-band record with rhythm section, layers of guitar, banjo and horns in places.

She opens with the title track. It’s a bristling mix of lickety-split, banjo-driven punkgrass and phantasmagorical circus rock with oompah horns. “I wonder if I fall. will I be free,” Gemini muses. The song may refer to the wirewalker Miss Scarlet, who plays a major role in the album’s sixth song.

Layers of sunny, jangly guitars mingle with the banjo in the slowly swaying, soul-infused second cut, Hattie’s Love Story. Gemini switches to her native language for the aptly titled Japanese Song, a lilting waltz with lingering spaghetti western guitar, accordion and a big, anthemic chorus: “The end is near…it’s just a beginning, it’s just a beginning.”

The banjo takes centerstage again in On the Road, a scrambling, Tom Waits-ish Kerouac homage spiced with oldtimey clarinet. The closest thing here to standard-issue indie rock here is Hard Time, a funny tune about the goofy things couples fight over.

Gemini goes back to a steady, somberly strolling klezmer-tinged atmosphere for Miss Scarlet and Zoe, a surreal tale of a circus elephant who’s in love with a cute trapeze girl. Butterfly, a delicate waltz, continues the narrative, a lingering mashup of moody southwestern gothic rock and Japanese folk.

Marching is Miwa Gemini’s Pink Panther theme, a coyly misterioso strut that brings to mind Brooklyn underground legends Kotorino. She goes back to waltz time for Sleepless Night, a warmly lush, catchy number that could be Rachelle Garniez with a Japanese accent.

The band hit a pulsing, slinky Nancy Sinatra noir groove for Jockey Full of Bourbon: it’s the most evocative and arguably best song on the album. Paris, a wistful, balmy waltz, is just as picturesque, with glockenspiel tinkling uneasily up through the wafting accordion and distant, forlorn muted trumpet. Gemini brings the album full circle with Little Monkey, shifting between shadowy, propulsive border rock and an equally menacing waltz.

Gemini also released a vividly melancholy, elegantly fingrpicked acoustic single, Snow Over Brooklyn, in 2021.


Karen Hudson Reinvents a Favorite Linda Ronstadt Album on the Upper West Side

Thursday night at the Triad Theatre, Americana songstress Karen Hudson paid homage to her biggest influence, Linda Ronstadt, with a simmering performance of one of the iconic singer’s more eclectic records, Living in the USA. It was an interesting choice: you might think that someone who was once a thirteen-year-old singing into a hairbrush and noshing on Twinkies while a Ronstadt record spun on the turntable might have picked Heart Like a Wheel, or maybe even Hasten Down the Wind. By contrast, Living in the USA was a departure into harder-rocking territory, hinting at the new wave Ronstadt would flirt with a little later in her career while remaining true to her singer-songwriter roots. Hudson channeled all that while adding a livewire edge.

Seeing her out in front of a first-class band without her trusty acoustic guitar slung over her shoulder was unexpected, but she picked a role that suits her. Lord knows how much she must have practiced it with that hairbrush. “Even though our rock n roll queen has stopped singing, her voice will live on in our hearts,” Hudson asserted.

Appropriately, she was rocking a blue baseball jacket to match Ronstadt’s album cover and inner sleeve photos, switching out the gym shorts for a shimmery black dress. Guitarist Mike Fornatale kicked off the title track playing spot-on, blazing Chuck Berry riffage on his vintage Gibson SG, pedal steel player Glenn Spivack’s sailing lines adding a down-home edge that looked back to Ronstadt’s early 70s work. Meanwhile, bassist Jeff Gordon and drummer Tommy DeVito held the rocket to the rails.

Hudson reached for Ronstadt vibrato for an understated poignancy in a duo with Roth’s echoey, lullaby Rhodes in the second song, When I Grow Too Old to Dream. That’s where the baseball jacket came off and stayed off.

Roth’s first couple of chords hinted at at Warren Zevon hit – but not the one you might think – as the band pounced their way into a version of Just One Look than rocked harder than either the original singer (or Ronstadt, for that matter) probably ever envisioned, Hudson holding down the lead line forcefully beneath Suzanne Hockstein’s soaring high harmonies.

Hudson reinvented Elvis Costello’s Alison as something that would have fit in on his Taking Liberties album, pedal steel mingling with James Noyes’ sax as her phrasing echoed the original more than the Ronstadt version. Introducing a dynamic, gospel organ-driven take of J.D. Souther’s White Rhythm & Blues, Hudson goofed on the audience with a projection of what she thought might be the love child between Ronstadt and Steve Martin, considering that the two had been an item for awhile.

Hudson explained that the first song on side two, All That You Dream, was written by Little Feat’s Paul Barrere and Bill Payne as a reflection on that band’s impending breakup, her vocals matching the keening steel over a steady, flurrying groove.Next, she went deep into the elegant soul-jazz roots of the big radio hit, Ooh Baby Baby, much in the same vein as Karla Rose was singing it five years ago.

The two singers joined voices forcefully for a beefed-up take of Mohammed’s Radio, one of the more memorable Warren Zevon tunes Ronstadt recorded. Likewise, Hudson worked a defiant if heartbroken edge in Blowing Away. She closed the show in an acoustic duo with Fornaatale on an aptly fond version of Love Me Tender.

They stuck with the with the Ronstadt catalog for the first of the encores. Hockstein took over lead vocals on Love Is a Rose, with Hudson on guitar, Fornatale on banjo and Jaden Gladstone on fiddle. Their spirited, oldschool C&W romp through Silver Threads and Golden Needles offered a nod back to Skeeter Davis. The crowd wouldn’t let them go, so they pulled together a deliciously clanging, careening version of the Stones’ Dead Flowers.

Comeback Record of the Year: Florence Dore’s Highways and Rocketships

In 2001, Florence Dore was a colleague of the iconic Mark Crispin Miller on the NYU faculty. As she told it back then, most of her students were unaware that she had a side gig leading a bristling, jangly rock band. At the time, New York had a booming Americana music scene, and Dore was in the thick of it as a regular draw at the epicenter, the late, great Lakeside Lounge. This Faulkner specialist wrote concise, gemlike narratives, had a knack for punchy three-minute tunes and the occasionally harrowing ballad. She proved to be a powerful interpreter of Richard Thompson, and charmed audiences with her wry sense of humor and Nashville twang. That year, she put out an album, Perfect City, which one blog from later in that decade ranked as one of the top 1000 of all time.

Fast forward to 2023: Dore is now on the University of North Carolina faculty, has a growing bibliography of both scholarly and trade books, and a new album, Highways and Rocketships streaming at youtube. She and her husband, drummer Will Rigby, are making a long overdue New York return with their band this April 9 at 7:30 PM at City Winery; you can get in for $25.

The new album picks up like Dore never left off. If anything, she’s an even stronger singer now, and the crew behind her rock harder than ever. Rigby holds everybody on the rails from behind the kit, with Jeremy Chatzky and Southern Culture on the Skids’ Mary Huff sharing bass duties, Mark Spencer and Peter Holsapple on guitars, and Libby Rodenbough on fiddle.

They open with the title track, a catchy backbeat highway rock tune: reduced to lowest terms, it’s about not falling asleep at the wheel. There’s a velvet-cake blend of guitar textures in track two, Sweet to Me, a distantly Beatlesque, immersive reflection on flirting with danger.

The danger persists as the group channel an Exile-era Stones vibe in Rebel Debutante, a colorfully detailed, karmically searing portrait that will resonate with anyone who trailed in the wake of the the trust-funded proto-trendoids of the 90s and early zeros.

Dore offers a nod to a Thompson classic in Cue the Spotlight, a metaphorically-loaded, understatedly venomous revenge ballad. Then she goes back to choogling Stones territory with Thundercloud (Fucking with Your Heart) before putting a hard-rocking update on 60s go-go soul with the tongue-in-cheek End of the World.

The best song on the album is Greed, a seething, allusive reflection on cross-generational trauma: go back to No Nashville, from Dore’s first album, for a prequel. From there she picks up the pace with Lighter, which fits well with the stomping, Who-influenced numbers from the first record.

Ironically (and maybe intentionally), the most country-flavored song here is Wifi Heart, a defiantly tender ballad where Dore turns a hi-tech metaphor inside out. And the Lady Goes, the concluding cut, is a big burner that works on as many white-knuckle uneasy lyrical levels as the song has scorching guitar tracks. What a great surprise it was to find out that this was on the way: let’s hope Dore doesn’t wait another twenty years before the next one.

Live Music Calendar for New York City and Brooklyn For April 2023

All these concerts are free of restrictions on entry. Weekly events first followed by the daily calendar. If a venue is unfamiliar, look for it on the old guide to NYC music venues here, which is more of a worksheet now, but it has links to most of the places on this calendar.

Tuesdays in April, inspired, latin-influenced postbop trombonist Conrad Herwig and his septet at the Django, $25.

Thursdays in April, 5 PM poignantly lyrical, eclectic pianist Marta Sanchez at Bar Bayeux.

Three Fridays in April, 8 PM hauntingly cinematic Lynchian/southwestern gothic instrumentalists Suss at Culture Lab

Sundays at around 8 PM trumpeter Jon Kellso and (frequently) guitarist Matt Munisteri lead the Ear-Regulars in NYC’s only remaining weekly hot jazz jam session at the Ear Inn

Sundays in April at 8 PM  cheery, kinetic 20s hot jazz crew Baby Soda Band at St. Mazie’s

4/1, 6 PM soulful reedman Paquito D’Rivera  teams up with pianist Alex Brown at Bethany Baptist Church, 275 W Market St, Newark, free

4/1, 6 PM Colin Carr, cello and Kyungwha Chu, piano play Schubert Arpeggione Sonata in A minor, D.821 and Rachmaninov Sonata in G minor, Op.19 at Bargemusic, $35

4/1, 7 PM dark psychedelic acoustic blues/klezmer/reggae/soca jamband Hazmat Modine at Terra Blues. They’re back on 4/29

4/1, 7:30 PM tuneful oldschool soul/jazz trombonist Dave Gibson leads his quartet followed at 10:30 by purist postbop saxophonist TK Blue  at the Django, $25. Gibson is also at Smalls on 4/13 at 10:30

4/1, 8 PM surf night at Otto’s with the hard-charging, eclectic  Underwater Bosses, followed at around 9:30 by the more trad Tsunami of Sound and then the space-theme inclined Blue Wave Theory

4/1, 9 PM outrageously entertaining colorful, Bowie-esque female-fronted glamrockers the Manimals at Gold Sounds, $14

4/1,  10:30 PM wildly erudite tenor saxophonist Eric Wyatt and band at Smalls for a set and then the jam session, $25

4/2, 3 PM the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, classical chorale the Downtown Voices, and NOVUS NY, play works inspired by the seven last words of Christ on the cross, by Jane Hawes, Michael John Trotta, Richard Burchard, Gounod, Haydn and Joel Thompson at Trinity Church, free

4/2, 3 PM fiery Spanish sounds with Cuadro Flamenco at the Triad Theatre, 158 W 72nd St (Bwy/Amsterdam), $25

4/2, 6 PM a free reunion show by early 80s LA punk band Channel 3 (original members) at Berlin. They didn’t record a lot but they were more tuneful than most of their contemporaries.

4/2, 7 PM iconic, hilariously charismatic Americana songstress Amy Allison at Pangea, $25

4/2, 7 PM fantastic story-songwriter Lara Ewen, the enigmatically tuneful Shira Goldberg and Nashville honkytonk/southern rock songstress Mercy Bell share the stage at the downstairs room at the Rockwood, $10

4/2, 7:30 PM haunting classical Iraqi crooner Hamid Al-Saadi with iconic trumpeter/santoorist Amir Elsaffar’s Two Rivers Ensemble at Drom, $20 adv tix recd

4/3, 6:30 PM drummer Leonid Galganov, trumpeters Kenny Warren and Aquiles Navarro and tenor saxophonist David Crowell at Downtown Music Gallery

4/3, 10:30 PM smartly impressionistic postbop pianist Miki Yamanaka leads a trio at Smalls, $25. She’s back on  4/10

4/4, 7:30 bassist Giacomo Merega, guitarist Andrew Smiley and drummer Raf Vertessen improvise at Downtown Music Gallery

4/4, 7:30 PM the Balourdet Quartet play works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Hugo Wolf and others at Merkin Concert Hall, $30

4/4, 8 PM psychedelic Silver Arrow  funk-jazz crew the Silver Arrow Band at Drom, free. They’re back o 4/18

4/4. 8 PM a dadaesque collaboration between the Bang on a Can All-Stars’ guitarist Mark Stewart and thereminist Rob Schwimmer‘s Polygraph Lounge project at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

4/4, 9 PM singer Veronica Davila’s twangy, Bakersfield-flavored hard honkytonk band Low Roller at Skinny Dennis

4/5, 1 PM purist oldschool jazz guitarist Bill Wurtzel with bassist Jay Leonhart at the American Folk Art Museum. He’s back on 4/19

4/5, 8 PM anthemic speedmetal band Cold Dice, then a mystery band who call themselves Peace Sign (GREAT branding, dudes) and then stoner boogie road warriors the Golden Grass at Our Wicked Lady, $14

4/5, 8 PM International Contemporary Ensemble play new chamber works by Mazz Swift and Murat Çolak at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

4/5, 10 PM nigmatically tuneful, psychedelically abstract rock band Gold Dime at TV Eye, $10

4/6, 7:30 PM  adrenalizing postbop vibraphonist Mark Sherman leads a quartet at Smalls, $25

4/6, 8 PM a Randy Weston tribute with his ex-bandmates, bassist Alex Blake, pianist Danny Mixon, and gnawa musicians Ma’alem Hassan Ben Jaafer on sintir and his Innov Gnawa bandmates Amino Belyamani and Naoufal Atiq at the Dreck Center at the Brooklyn Public Library, free

4/6, 8 PM haunting, cinematic Mediterranean art-rock/postrock themes with Xylouris White  at the Poisson Rouge, $20 adv tix rec

4/6, 8 PM ethereal, raptly haunting singer Sara Serpa and her Encounters and Collisions chamber jazz quartet at Seeds

4/6, 8 PM jazz violinist Sara Caswell with similarly lyrical pianist Julian Shore at the Owl

4/6. 8 PM wild noise/rock trio Loren Connors & the Electric Nature at P.I.T., 411 S 5th Street, Williamsburg, J/M to Marcy

4/6, 8:30 PM catchy all-female luddite punks Tracy City at Otto’s

4/6, 8:30 PM Glass Clouds Ensemble – Raina Arnett (violin), Lauren Conroy (violin), and Marisa Karchin (soprano) – perform works by Telemann, Vaughan Williams, Melissa Dunphy, Forrest Eimold, and Christian Quiñones exploring themes of nature and the meaning of home, at the Tenri Institute, $10 sug don

4/7-8, 7:30 PM perennially tuneful piano improviser Jean-Michel Pilc leads a trio at Smalls, $25

4/7, 9 PM  colorful, lyrical pianist Danny Fox leads his trio  playing the album release show for their new one at the Owl

4/6, 10:30 PM psych-funk/disco group People of Earth a at the Django, $25

4/7, noon, innovative harpsichordist Bálint Karosi, orchestra and choir play his reimagined version of Bach’s unfinished St. Mark Passion at St. Peter’s Church, 53rd/Lex, $30

4/7-8, 6 PM the Catalyst Quartet play works by Germaine Tailleferre and Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel in galleries TBA at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, free w/museum adm, follow the sound

4/7, 7:30 PM sizzling postbop saxophonist Mike DiRubbo with his quartet followed at 10:30 PM by  lyrical, thoughtful tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander with his quartet at the Django, $25

4/7-8, 7:30 PM colorful jazz organist Larry Goldings leads a trio at Mezzrow, $25

4/7, 8ish  blazing all-female street band the Brass Queens and psychedelic Afrobeat band Emefe at the Sultan Room, $20

4/7, 8 PM haunting folk noir/Americana songwriter Emily Frembgen at the small room at the Rockwood

4/7, 8 PM a great improvisational evening: Ken Filiano on bass with Santiago Liebson on piano followed by Horse’s Mouth with Ricardo Gallo on piano, Ben Goldberg on clarinet, Sam Kulik on trombone and Ricardo Ricabarren on drums at Soup & Sound

4/7, 10 PM the jangly Big Star-influenced Hasbros at Otto’s

4/7, 10:30 snarling highway boogie/heavy psych band One Way Out at Lucky 13 Saloon, $13

4/8, 4:30 PM neofolk violinist Kite joined by her aunt, superstar klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals at Cara, 225 West 13th St. free

4/8, 7:30 PM multistylistic bassist Max Johnson with his trio at the Django, $25

4/8, 7:30 PM incisive, mesmerizing ragas with Apratim Majumdar on sarod with Amit Chatterjee on tabla at the Chhandayan Center for Indian Music  $25

4/8, 8 PM an intriguing improvisational lineup: Jeong Lim Yang – bass / Christopher Hoffman – cello / Billy Mintz – drums  at Downtown Music Gallery

4/8, 10:30 PM prolific postbop composer and tenor saxophonist Ken Fowser leads a quintet  at Smalls, $25

4/9, 7:30 PM a rare NY return show by brilliantly lyrical early zeros cult favorite Americana songstress Florence Dore at City Winery, $25

4/9, 7:30 PM charmingly retro Americana jazz chanteuse Sasha Dobson with her quartet at Smalls, $25. 4/24, 10 PM they’re at the Ear Inn for the tip jar

4/9, 8:30 PM  intense, cinematic, politically fearless jazz flutist Elsa Nilsson and her Band of Pulses at the Owl

4/10, 7 PM intense, charismatic oldschool soul belter Sami Stevens  at the small room at the Rockwood

4/10. 8 PM noir-inspired honkytonk crooner Sean Kershaw at Cowgirl Seahorse

4/10. 8 PM Amy Irving – the Crossing Delancey star, who as it turns out is an inspired and competent jazz singer – plays the album release show for her new one at City Winery, $25

4/10, 8 PM cellist  Amanda Gookin’s multimedia Forward Music Project featuring works for solo cello by composers Pamela Z, Jessie Montgomery, Sarah Hennies, Camila Agosto, Seong Ae Kim, at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

4/10, 9 PM  Melissa Gordon of Melissa & the Mannequins – one of the best purist janglerock songwriters in NYC – at the big room at the Rockwood. free

4/10, 9 PM oldtimey string swing crew the Buck and a Quarter Quartet at Skinny Dennis

4/11, half past noon Polish organist Gedymin Grubba plays a program TBA at Central Synagogue, 54th/Lex, free

4/11, 7ish macabre metal band Castle Rat and 90s/zeros metal legends Firebreather at St. Vitus, $20

4/11, 7:30 PM Timothy Chooi, violin and Michelle Cann, piano play works by Amy Beach, Grieg, Silvestrov, Debussy and others at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, $23

4/11, 8 PM rockabilly veterans Emy & the Epix followed by wickedly jangly surf/twang/country instrumentalists the Bakersfield Breakers at 11th St. Bar

4/11, 8:30 PM trumpeter Brad Henkel, violist Joanna Mattrey and drummer Lesley Mok jam at Downtown Music Gallery

4/12, 8 PM timeless nonagenarian vocal jazz legend Sheila Jordan sings the album release show for her new one with Jacob Sacks, David Ambrosio, Vinnie Sperrazza at Bar Bayeux

4/12, 8 PM trombonist Curtis Hasselbring’s playfully cinematic Curhestra at the small room at the Rockwood

4/12, 9 PM  electrifying vibraphonist Simon Moullier and band at Bar Lunatico

4/12, 10 PM guitar goddess Barbara Endes’ exhilarating psychedelic janglerock band Girls on Grass  at Skinny Dennis

4/13, 7 PM the New York Composers Circle  feat. the Bergamot Quartet (Ledah Finck, violin, Sarah Thomas, violin, Amy Huimei Tan, viola, Irène Han, cello), along with Valerie Gonzalez, soprano, Adam C. J. Klein, tenor, Craig Ketter, piano, Haig Hovsepian, violin and Nara Avetisyan, piano play new works by Eric Heilnert, Carl Kanter, Thomas Parente, Susan J. Fischer. Marina Shmotova and Christopher Kaufman at Church of the Transfiguration, 1 E 29th St, $20

4/13, 7:30 PM Americana soul veteran Joe Henry at City Winery, $28 standing room avail

4/13, 7:30 PM tuneful postbop pianist Jim Ridl leads a trio at Smalls, $25

4/13, 9 PM otherworldly French-Algerian singer Ourida at Bar Lunatico

4/13, 9:30 PM Scottish folk trio the Highland Divas at the Cutting Room, $25 adv tix rec

4/13, 10 PM psychedelic soul-rockers Madam West at Bar Freda, $10

4/13. 3 PM Mayuki Fukuhara and Kae Nakano, violins; Liuh-Wen Ting, viola; Benjamin Larsen, cello play works by Beethoven and Grieg at Concerts on the Slope, St. John’s Episcopal Church, 139 St. John’s Place downhill from 7th Ave, $25

4/14, 7:30 PM jazz organist Mike LeDonne with his quartet at the Django, $25

4/14, 8 PM ska night at Otto’s: Mephiskapheles spinoff Barbicide, the edgy, female-fronted Penniless Loafers and  trombone legend Buford O’Sullivan and the Roosters

4/14, 9:30 PM Americana songstress Karen Hudson and and her band play Linda Ronstadt’s 1978 album Living In the USA all the way through at the Triad Theatre, 158 W 72nd St (Bwy/Amsterdam), $15

4/14, 10 PM ambient avant-garde singer/harpist Kitba at the Owl

4/15 the reconfigured Sadies at Union Pool are sold out

4/15, 11 AM (in the morning) a family show by clever, fiery, eclectic ten-piece Balkan/hip-hop/funk brass maniacs Slavic Soul Party at the Lincoln Center Atrium. There’s another show at 7:30 PM with fearlessly multistylistic pipa virtuoso Min Xiao-Fen‘s White Lotus featuring guitarist Rez Abbasi

4/15, 6 PM catchy, anthemic, female-fronted janglerock band the Belle Curves at the small room at the Rockwood

4/15, 7 PM lavish Indonesian bell orchestra Gamelan Dharma Swara at Ridgewood Presbyterian Church, 59-14 70th Ave (Forest/60th), J to Seneca Ave, $25 adv tix rec

4/15, 7:30 PM  the New York Virtuoso Singers perform Bach cantatas at Merkin Concert Hall, $30/$10 stud. They’re back with a similar Bach program on 4/29.

4/15, 8 PM elegantly ferocious Iranian tar lute star Sahba Motallebi at Roulette, $30 adv tix rec

4/15, 8 PM the Boston Modern Orchestra Project play works by Andrew Norman, Lei Lang and Lisa Bielawa at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hal., $21 tix avail

4/15, 8 PM the NY Scandia Symphony play dynamic Nordic works by Hugo Alfven, Friedrich Kuhlau, Carl Nielsen, Jean Sibelius at Alice Tully Hall, $25 tix avail

4/15, 9 PM Afrobeat all-star crew Armo – feat. members of Antibalas – at Bar Lunatico

4/16, 3:15 PM Ken Corneille plays his own colorful works on the organ at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

4/16, 4 PM gutter blues/punkabilly band James Godwin and the Ultrasounds at Mama Tried

4/16, 5 PM pyrotechnic clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski’s ferociously kinetic NY Gypsy All-Stars with Ara Dinkjian on oud at Our Saviour’s Atonement, $25

4/16, 7 PM flutist Tessa Brinckman, violinist/violist Allyson Clare, trombonist Taylor Peterson and pianist Brian Mark perform works by Meredith Monk, Brian Mark, Brinckman, Messiaen, Ted Hearne, and Randall Woolf on themes of embattled individualism, accompanied by digital audio and video at Theatre 71, 152 West 71st St, $17.50

4/16, 7ish purist oldschool tenor sax player Craig Handy leads his New Orleans-flavored band at the Django, $25

4/16, 8 PM violinist Terry Jenoure leads a fantastic chamber jazz quintet playing compositions inspired by her grandfather’s harrowing experience being detained at the Canadian border in the 1930s at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

4/17, 1 PM erudite jazz drummer Winard Harper & Jeli Posse  at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown

4/17, 7:30 PM the Merz Trio play works by George Lewis, A. Mahler, Berg, Bingen, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Brahms, and Ravel at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, $25

4/18, 1 PM Aletheia Teague plays the organ at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown

4/19, 7 PM at Willow Place Auditorium. 26 Willow Place, Brooklyn Heights. repeating 4/21 at 7 PM at Bohemian National Hall. 321 E 73rd St off First Ave, the  S.E.M. Ensemble play works by Petr Kotik, Petr Bakla, Christian Wolff, improvisations by Roscoe Mitchell, Thomas Buckner and guests, Jana Vörösová, Pavel Zemek Novák, Rudolf Komorous and Pauline Oliveros, free

4/19, 8 PM imaginatively techy female-fronted acts: Nebula the Velvet Queen on theremin followed by the dissociatively drifting Sick Din, the Bjork-esque Linda Gardens and new wave/powerpopstress Kira Metcalf at Bar Freda, $10

4/19, 8 PM shapeshifting art-rock/no wave band Heroes of Toolik at the Zurcher Gallery, $20

4/19, 9 PM excellent new Brooklyn Middle Eastern band Baklava Express at Radegast Hall

4/19, 9 PM clever, purist B3 jazz organist Akiko Tsuruga at Cellar Dog

4/19, 9:30 PM  slinky psychedelic reggae-tinged jamband Ace Bandage at Hart Bar

4/20, 1 PM the NOVUS NY String Quartet, featuring Melissa Attebury, mezzo-soprano play works by Rebecca Clarke, Lili Boulanger, Schubert. Juhi Bansal. Samuel Barber and Respighi at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown

4/20, 7 PM ish epic NWOBHM twinbill: Shadowland and Tanith playing the album release for their new one at St. Vitus, $20

4/20, 8 PM a fiery Ukrainian female-fronted folk-punk twinbill: Balaklava Blues and Dakh Daughters at the Poisson Rouge. $30 adv tix rec

4/20, 7 PM  rustic Piedmont-style blues guitar duo Gordon Lockwood at Terra Blues, $20

4/20, 7:30 PM the mighty, stunningly eclectic, Middle Eastern-tinged Eyal Vilner Big Band at the Lincoln Center Atrium.

4/20, 7:30 PM Drew Petersen, piano, plays works by Chopin, Schumann, Ravel, and more at the 92nd St. Y, $30

4/20, 8 PM pianist Beatrice Rana plays works by Bach and Debussy plus Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, $30 tix avail

4/20, 8:30 PM violinist Ludovica Burtone  Ben Rosenblum (USA) on accordion, and bassist Eduardo Belo at the Owl

4/20, 9 PM  noir guitar legend Jim Campilongo leads his trio at Bar Lunatico

4/20, 9:30 PM Hannah vs. the Many’s fierce, lyrically brilliant frontwoman Hannah Fairchild & Megan Sperger work up material from their upcoming rock musical Stars In My Eyes / Food On the Table at Greenroom 42, inside the hotel at 570 Tenth Ave south of 42nd St.,, expensive,$36 but worth it

4/21, 7 PM Czech chamber ensemble Ostravska Banda play works by Roscoe Mitchell, Petr Kotik, Pauline Oliveros, Christian Wolff, Jana Vörösová and others at Bohemian National Hall, 321 E 73rd St,, free

4/21, 7 PM the Low Frequency Trio play new pieces by Latin American female composers at the Americas Society. 680 Park Ave, free

4/21, 7:30 PM an interesting duo: Geoffrey Keezer on piano and bassist John Patittuci at Mezzrow, $25

4/21-22, 7:30 PM  indie classical chamber orchestra Wild Up play surreal Julius Eastman works at the 92nd St. Y, $25

4/21, 7:30 PM smart, thoughtful vibraphonist Sasha Berliner leads a trio followed at 10:30 by eliably powerful tenor saxophonist Stacy Dillard at Smalls, $25

4/21, 7:30 PM timbalero Tito Rodríguez, Jr.’s salsa band at the Lincoln Center Atrium.

4/21-22, 7 PM cellist Matt Haimovitz plays solo works by Bach, David T. Little, Annabelle Chvostek, Tyshawn Sorey, Niloufar Nourbahksh, Roberto Sierra and others at Bargemusic, $35

4/22, 2 PM bassist Santi Debriano leads a quintet with vocalist Nina Shankar at Faber Park Recreation Center, 2175 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island

4/22, 4 PM bass goddess/soul singer Felice Rosser’s ageless reggae-rock-groove band Faith at the community Garden, 311 East 8th St between Ave B and C

4/22, 4 PM Quintet of the Americas play an ecologically-themed concert of works by Shanyse Strickland, Samuel Barber, Christopher Kaufman, Alexandra Molnar-Suhaida, Frank Ticheli and Julio Medaglia at Gallery 9B9, 9 Avenue B, free, res req

4/22, 7 PM New Andalusia play flamenco and arabic themes at the Bronx Music Heritage Center, 1303 Louis Nine Blvd,, $10, 2/5 to Freeman St

4/22, 7 PM the environmentally conscious Jhoely Garay Jazz Orchestra at Culture Lab, free

4/22 10 PM  the fiery, string-driven Sedi Donka Balkan Band at St. Mazie’s

4/23, 3:15 PM organist Simon Leach at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

4/23, 7 PM nuanced jazz and chamber pop singer Kari van der Kloot at the small room at the Rockwood

4/23, 9:30 PM lyrical pianist Bennett Paster‘s Understated Trio at the Django, $25

4/23, 10ish the 3rd Street Band – fronted by Billy Miller, son of iconic freedom fighter Mark Crispin Miller – at Hart Bar. So new they don’t have a website yet but word on the street is that they’re kind of retro and lyrically brilliant.

4/24, 7:30 PM the Catalyst Quartet play African American spirituals, Florence Price’s Piano Quintet in E Minor (with Aaron Wunsch) and a new setting of Langston Hughes’s poem, Kids Who Die, for soprano, piano, and string quartet – how appropriate for 2023! at Music Mondays, Advent Church, northwest corner of 93rd and Broadway, free

4/24, 8 PM Dervisi feat. psychedelic guitarist George Sempepos play an acoustic set of haunting 1930s Greek underground anthems and hash-smoking tunes at Troost

4/24, 8 PM avant garde singer Dafna Naphtali airs out her voice with a jazz duo and octet at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

4/25, 1 PM Thomas Mellan plays the organ at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown

4/25, 7:30 PM acerbic, versatile tenor saxophonist Julieta Eugenio leads a trio at Smalls, $25

4/25, 7:30 PM glimmering, noir-inspired vibraphonist Tom Beckham leads a trio with Henry Hey on piano and Matt Clohesy on bass at Mezzrow, $25

4/25, 8 PM pianist Florian Noack plays his transcriptions of the Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherezade, works by Liszt and more at Merkin Concert Hall, $35

4/25, 8 PM pianist Alison Deane plays her son  Adam O’Farrill’s new suite followed by the O’Farrill Family Band at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

4/25, 9 PM vicious noiserock jamband the the Skull Practitioners– led by Steve Wynn sparring partner/genius guitarist Jason Victor – at Union Pool, $10

4/25, 9ish perennially haunting, atmospheric folk noir/art-rock chanteuse Marissa Nadler at Public Records, $26

4/26, 1 PM Alcee Chriss, organ; Sandra Miller, flute; Sarah Stone, cello play an all-Bach program at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown

4/26, 7:30 PM Lun Li, violin & Janice Carissa, piano play works by Poulenc, Sciarrino, Messiaen, Bartok and others at Merkin Concert Hall, $24

4/26, 7:30 PM noir-inspired alto saxophonist/composer Nick Hempton with his quartet at Smalls. $25

4/26, 8 PM edgy chromatic vocalists: Palestinian singer Mona Miari and Greek chanteuse Nefeli Fasouli at Drom, $25

4/26, 8 PM energetic ragtime/Romany swing guitarist Felix Slim at St. Mazie’s

4/26, 8 PM saxophonist Caroline Davis leads a killer quartet with Matt Mitchell, Chris Tordini, Allan Mednard at Bar Bayeux

4/27, 1 PM NOVUS NY play chamber works by Messiaen, Biber, Andrew Yee, Elena Kats and Mel Bonis at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown

4/27, 7:30 PM Trio Fadolín (featuring violinist Sabina Torosjan, cellist Valeriya Sholokhova, and cinematic composer Ljova on fadolín), with lustrous klezmer singer Inna Barmash, clarinetists Sam Sadigursky and Zisl Slepovitch; and Ljova’s parents, Soviet-era freedom fighters Alexander Zhurbin and Irena Ginzburg, who bedeviled the authorities back in the 70s and 80s, at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free

4/27. 7:30 PM  brilliant baritone saxophonist Lauren Sevian at the Django, $25

4/27, 7:30 PM the Experiental Orchestra play Xenakis’ challenging classical duel piece Linaia-Agon and works by Julius Eastman at the Church of the Advent Hope, 111 E 87th St, $29

4/27, 7:30 PM  conversational pianist Jeffrey Siegel plays works by Chopin and Grieg at Scandinavia House, $25

4/27, 10 PM lo-fi newschool psychedelic band Gringo Star  at TV Eye, $15

4/28, 7 PM piano trio Longleash performs music by James Díaz, Igor Santos, Vicente Hansen Altria, Linda Catlin Smith, and Jimena Maldonado at the Americas Society, 680 Park Ave, free .

4/28, 7 PM Yoko Reikano Kimura on shamisen, Sumie Kaneko on koto and James Nyoraku Schlefer on shakuhachi play classic and new music for Japanese instruments at Bargemusic, $35

4/28, 7:30 PM  fearlessly political jazz poet/vocalist Moor Mother at Merkin Concert Hall, $25

4/28, 8:30 PM Cape Verde morna torch singer Fantcha at Drom, $20 adv tix rec

4/28, 10 PM  edgy lead guitarist Damian Quinones and his psychedelic latin soul band  at Freddy’s

4/28, 10:30 PM  fiery, latin-inspired trombonist Mariel Bildstein at the Django, $25

4/29, 4 PM darkly torchy southwestern gothic/Europolitan songwriter/guitarist Miwa Gemini, with taiko drummer/pianist Midori Larsen and Shoko Morikawa at Freddy’s

4/29, 7:30 PM carnatic singer Sangeetha Swaminathan with Sriram Raman on mridangam, Siddharth Ashokkumar on violin and Kabilan Jaganathan on kanjira at the Chhandayan Center for Indian Music, 4 W 43rd Street #618, $25

4/29, 7:30 PM the Modus Operandi Orchestra play Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture and Symphony No. 7 plus Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 and other works with soprano Laura Leon at St. Mary Church, 1008 49th Ave, Long Island City, $25

4/29, 7:30 PM picturesque jazz pianist Michael Weiss  and his trio at the Django, $25

4/29, 8 PM Changing Modes – NYC’s funnest, most unpredictable, sharply lyrical new wave art-rock band – at Connolly’s

4/30, 3:15 PM organist Clayton Roberts at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

4/30, 4 PM the Argus Quartet and Steven Beck, piano play the NY premieres of Michael Shapiro’s Yiddish Quartet and Piano Quintet at Bargemusic, $35

4/30, 7 PM spine-tingling, darkly mystical art-rock/avant-garde/chamber pop songwriter Carol Lipnik  with Gordon Beeferman on piano at Pangea, $25

4/30, 7:30 PM  purist vocal jazz stylist Melissa Stylianou leads a trio with Ike Sturm on bass and Gene Bertoncini on guitar at Mezzrow, $25

4/30, 9 PM thrash metal band Wizard Rifle and then the sludgy immersive riff-heavy Bongzilla at St. Vitus, $27

5/1, starting at noon, New Yorkers come out to protest the New York City Parks Department crackdown against independent vendors. Protests at Union Square Park & Washington Square Park. Why is the city persecuting vendors? Vendors add individual character to neighborhoods, they don’t work for Jeff Bezos, and they’re a cash business.

5/4, 8 PM Max Lifchitz conducts the North/South Chamber Orchestra playing his own works plus pieces by Brian Banks, Carlos Chavez, Manuel Enriquez, Eduardo Mata & Silvestre Revueltas  at the National Opera Center, 330 7th Ave,. free

5/4, 8 PM eclectic violinist Dana Lyn’s protean, psychedelic Animal Revenge at Greenwich House Music School, $20

5/8, 7:30 PM the Jupiter Quartet and East Coast Chamber Orchestra play works by Schubert, Jessie Montgomery, Adolphus Hailstork at Music Mondays, Advent Church, northwest corner of 93rd and Broadway, free

5/15, 6 PM Ensemble Pi play works inspired by banned books by Lenny Bruce, Art Spiegelman and others, from  composers Richard Brooks, Louis Goldford, Laura Jobin-Acosta, Laura Kaminsky, Tamar Muskal, and Damian Norfleet at the NYPL for the Performing Arts, 111 Amsterdam Ave (64/65), free, res req

5/17, 7:30 PM  the amazing, haunting, otherworldly NY Andalus Ensemble – who play ancient Middle Eastern and North African Jewish sounds from as far back as a thousand years ago  – at La Nacional, 239 W 14th St, $28

The Underwater Bosses Make a Big Splash With Their Latest Record

The mostly-monthly series of surf rock shows at Otto’s have been going on practically since the venue opened in the old Barmacy space at 14th St. just west of Ave. B more than two decades ago. Auspiciously, the dumpy little quasi-tiki bar was one of the first places to reopen without restrictions after the 2020 lockdown, which is surprising considering their draconian door policy (you’ll be carded even if you’re eighty and on a walker, so bring your passport which the ID scanner can’t read and then share with the CCP).

Next month’s show, on April 1 is a good one and starts at 8 with the Underwater Bosses, followed at around 9:30 by Tsunami of Sound and then Blue Wave Theory, The segues are good: each band is a little heavier than your typical surf act, and they all play mostly originals. The Underwater Bosses are the loudest but most eclectic of the bunch. Tsunami of Sound are the most trad. Blue Wave Theory frequently work a more enveloping Ventures spacerock side and have a ton of free downloads available.

The Underwater Bosses’ latest album The Night Divides the Ride is streaming at Bandcamp. They open with the title track, which comes across as a mashup of the Raybeats and Link Wray (no relation, actually…). Track two, Juan of the Waves is a thundering blend of Dick Dale tremolo pick-melting and a big, brassy spaghetti western theme complete with forlorn trumpet.

Guitarist Chris Stewart breaks out his roller-rink organ for The Volcano Boys, a bossa-tinged tune that wouldn’t be out of place in the Laike & the Cosmonauts catalog. Greg Bresett’s gritty bass intro to Dirk Dagger is a red herring: it’s a blazing, reverb-soaked spy tune in 5/4 time.,

If Link Wray, Dick Dale and Buck Owens had a relative in common, it would be Beach Moles. There’s all kinds of cool bass-and-guitar interplay in Rumble in Belmont and darkly straightforward blues riffage in The Black Demon of Cortez.

The web of textures, from icepick reverb to raw roar in Ride Baby is especially tasty. The amps go up even further in Sea Wolf, the album’s most bludgeoning, riff-driven number, which makes a good segue with the blasts of chords in Aqualizer.

The rhythmically trickiest, most cinematic number here is Salmon’s Lot, drummer Bob Breen leading the band up out of a spiderwalk to a big organ-fueled interlude, They bring the record full circle with The Return of the Hand, the closest thing to the Raybeats and punk rock here. This Rochester, New York-based trio deserves to be way better known.

A Rare Loud Rock Show Coming Up at the Lincoln Center Atrium

Has a heavy psychedelic rock band ever played Lincoln Center? Believe it or not, a few punk acts have played there over the years. There was a rare concert by a reconfigured version of legendary 70s Detroit band Death there in 2010, Six years later, Hoba Hoba Spirit – the Moroccan Clash – raised the roof at the atrium space on Broadway south of 63rd St. That’s where heavy spacerock trio King Buffalo are playing on March 30 at 7:30 PM. It’s a free show; you might want to get there early.

Their new album Regenerator is streaming at Bandcamp. Whether motoring along at a fast autobahn clip or with a slow, heavier sway, they like hanging on a single chord to build hypnotic ambience that can go on for minutes on end. They open the record with the title epic, a galloping mashup of shiny 80s chorus-box spacerock, krautrock and maybe Budos Band. You don’t realize it’s a one-chord jam until frontman/guitarist Sean McVay kicks off his wah pedal and brings in the fuzz.

Bassist Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson fuel a hypnotic, circling forward drive in the second track, Mercury, a heavier take on mid-80s Talking Heads until McVay blasts in with the distortion. The trio go back to stomping spacerock with track three, Hours, a throwback to 90s Brian Jonestown Massacre until a wry portamento synth-and-bass interlude midway through.

They nick a famous Beatles theme for the drony, raga-like intro to Mammoth, a slow, swaying, echoey ba-bump groove that they suddenly take halfspeed to a gritty roar and a big majestic outro. They follow a slow, bouncy, Muse-ish sway for Avalon – a starry, drifting, unexpectedly crescendoing original, not the Roxy Music classic.

They wind up the record with Firmament, slowly rising from a circling, chiming loop to layers of distortion, wah and Donaldson’s oscillating, insectile synth.

The Elgin Marbles Bring Their Wickedly Catchy, Psychedelic Jangle and Clang to Bushwick

What is up with this week? Suddenly it’s 2019 again. There are more great multiple-band bills around New York than there have been in, um, years. Wonder why that is?

The best of the bunch is at Gold Sounds on March 18 and starts anticlimactically at 8 with psychedelic janglerock guitar goddess Barbara Endes’ band Girls on Grass, followed by cult supergroup the Elgin Marbles, who play the wickedly catchy, serpentine songs of bandleader/guitarist Dann Baker’s previous outfit, Love Camp 7. Up next are Canadian country crew the Pickups and then Cementhead, who enjoyed a good run (and a revolving door of band members) as one of the few memorable indie bands in New York in the late 90s and zeros. Cover is $12, dirt cheap for a lineup of this caliber.

This blog was in the house for one of the Elgin Marbles’ first shows, at Troost in Greenpoint in August of 2019. It was a psychedelic janglefest. Bassist Dave Mandl did his usual swoop-and-dive routine where Love Camp 7’s late, great Bruce Hathaway would have punched in with his judicious, melodic lines (Hathaway was also a first-rate composer of new classical music: let’s hope his orchestral scores will someday resurface somewhere).

Drummer Heather Wagner had the hardest job of all. Negotiating the late, great Dave Campbell’s labyrinthine lines with any similar kind of flair would have been a steep learning curve under any circumstances, but she was up to the challenge and was relentless about it. The addition of Greek/Cypriot surf band the Byzan-tones‘ guitarist and bandleader George Sempepos added to the intricate, starry lattice of sound. Baker balanced his erudite jangle and chime with the occasional, unexpectedly buzzy blast of noise to keep the crowd on their toes, when they weren’t hanging on his winkingly sly lit-rock lyrics and cat-ate-the-canary vocals. There seems to be only one video from the show that’s made it to the web, but it’s a good one, Sempepos’ jagged, spiky slide guitar over Baker’s slinky sway.

Leather Lung Open a Scorching Night in Greenpoint on the 18th

This week is a great one for heavy rock. There’s a primo triplebill at St. Vitus on March 18 for $20, which as you may have noticed is cheap for what they’ve been charging since emerging (conspicuously late) from the lockdown insanity of the last three years. That’s most likely due to online ticket price-gouging. Just as Grubhub screws your local falafel place, the Silicon Valley scum are grifting off an already stressed and increasingly depleted music venue clientele.

And of course we know that the whole UN2030 agenda is to get rid of live performance altogether.

But this show’s worth it and more. Leather Lung, who are all over the place, from doom to heavy psych and a post-Pantera vibe that they sludge it up and strip down to the iron frame, are on first at around 7. High Reeper, whose fuzzed-out Black Sabbath emulation is spot-on, are up next. The increasingly diverse Ruby the Hatchet, whose haunting lockdown reflection Fear Is a Cruel Master was one of the ten best rock records of 2022, headline sometime after 9.

Full disclosure: this piece was originally supposed to be a run-through of the most recent High Reeper record, which is as darkly tuneful (some would say predictable) as you could possibly want. But Leather Lung’s latest ep Dive Bar Devil – streaming at Bandcamp – was too good to resist. The Boston band have a sense of humor to match their chops: the inbetween-songs bar skit, and the one with the poor guy at the tollbooth, are pretty spot-on.

Otherwise, they put some thrash into the slow-raging, distantly doom-infused first track, Pissing Gasoline. Track two, Road Soda is built around a serpentine heavy blues riff, with a wall of distortion for extra hypnotic factor. The best cut of all of them is Far Too Familiar, with its eerie delta blues slide riffs and echoey, drowning-pool calm before the buzzsaw guitars kick in – the (uncredited) second guitarist is a welcome addition.

One of New York’s Great Surf and Twang Guitarists Visits a Familiar Williamsburg Watering Hole This Week

Jason Loughlin is one of the elite guitarists in Americana because he has his own sound rather than just a deep bag of recycled country and blues licks. Much as there probably aren’t many classic country and surf rock licks he doesn’t know, he always finds a way to make them sound fresh. Big names – Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris among them – are aware of this and have enlisted his services for a long time. But Loughlin is also a bandleader, and has had a regular more-or-less monthly residency at Skinny Dennis pretty much since they opened, with a long break during the collective insanity in 2020 and 2021. He’s back there with his band on March 16 at 9.

Loughlin’s recorded output as a leader is not extensive, but what he has is absolutely brilliant. His most recent album, Peach Crate came out quite awhile ago – his Bandcamp page lists two different dates. If expertly twangy guitar instrumentals that transcend the surf genre are your thing, you have to hear this (and you may have already – getting to this one a little late!) It’s also been quite awhile since this blog was in the house at Loughlin show. If memory serves right, the last time was at the old Hank’s in 2015, where he was playing his usual tasteful, purposeful leads alongside folk noir songstress Jessie Kilguss.

He opens the record with the warm, briskly shuffling title track, a western swing highway theme with some snazzy, rapidfire guitar riffage over sailing layers of lapsteel, bassist Jason Hogue and Stephen Chopek subtly pushing the beat.

Loughlin builds an intricate web of lickety-split, tongue-in-cheek Buck Owens Bakersfield phrasing in the second track, Whoopsie Daisy. Tango and Cash is a real treat, part loping Ventures summer surf theme, part chiming countrypolitan, part Tex-Mex. Woody’s in the Hood is another gem of a mashup, a Django shuffle as noir icons Big Lazy would have done it.

Likewise, Steep Grade is a creepy, picturesque spiderwalking number, but with plenty of jokes too good to give away. The trio pick up the pace with She’s Something Sweet, a percolating blend of Bakersfield twang and elegant 60s soul. Hello Tijuana, Goodbye Kidney is not the horror tableau you might expect, but instead, a plush, lingering 6/8 ballad without words. Who knew that being on the wrong side of an organ trafficking scheme could be so enjoyable!

Loughlin builds a tight web of jump blues-flavored twin harmonies in Recordian and follows with the chugging, erudite Slack Jaw, part Buck Owens, part late-period Bob Wills, with Rich Hinman on pedal steel. Loughlin winds up the album with Headless Body Topless Bar, a slow, lurid roadhouse theme with echoes as diverse as the Raybeats and the Friends of Dean Martinez.

Howling Giant Headline a Killer Heavy Psych Triplebill in Queens Next Week

One of the best metal and heavy psychedelic triplebills of the year is happening this March 15 starting sometime after 7 at TV Eye in Ridgewood, where Stoogoid stoner boogie band Sun Voyager open the night, followed by the more eclectically noisy and considerably heavier Restless Spirit, and then shapeshifting heavy psych band Howling Giant. Cover is $15

Sun Voyager are natives and used to play around here a fair amount, at least before the lockdown, but the other two bands have been conspicuously absent until recently. One good record to spin for the show is Howling Giant’s 2019 vinyl release The Space Between Worlds, streaming at Bandcamp. Why this album and not their most recent ep? Because the central narrative is about a huntress who has to fight off a mythical dream eater. As Tessa Lena has chronicled, what better metaphor for the last three years of hell?

It’s also a good capsule of what the band bring, live: stoner sludge with frequently tricky post-Mars Volta rhythmic shifts and terse guitar solos. Drummer Zach Wheeler hits a couple of martial flurries, then launches into an impressive lithe forward drive for such heavy music as guitarist/frontman Tom Polzine builds a dense wall of chords and bassist Sebastian Baltes holds down the gritty lows in the album’s first track, Comet Rider. Organist Drew Harakal adds swirl; Polzine hits his pedalboard and fires off a couple of tantalizingly brief solos.

The band slow down for Nomad, Polzine’s chiming loops over a murky drift through deep space. Again, he could have taken ten times as long with that first wah-wah solo and nobody would be complaining.

Ghosts in the Well is a surprising and rewarding detour into slow, mythical acoustic folk, followed by The River Guide, a mini-epic as Sleep might have done it thirty years ago, with an unexpected dream-nebula interlude.

Ice Castle begins with fuzz, tasty doublebass drum volleys and then the band pick up steam with more of a doomy, vengeful atmosphere and smoky organ. “They’re building a machine hiding in the wasteland,” Polzine announces, “The lab is overrun,” as he and the band launch into Cybermancer and the Doomsday Express, a thrashier, more 60s flavored dash through the gloom.

Harakal adds glimmering electric piano textures to the album’s most hypnotically swaying, drifting track, Everlight. The band pick it up, then descend to a lull with Wheeler’s shamanic beats before rising to a hammering attack where the bass finally cuts loose.

They slowly sway their way to a pummeling battle scene and then some venomous tremolo-picking from Polzine in The Orb. Does this space odyssey end well? It would seem so from the final cut, Stone Giant, but at the twin solos hover over the torrents of organ and the relentless, ornate drums, the message is “watch your back.”