Tag Archives: Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten asks: Are We There?

Sharon Van Etten (Photo by Dusdin Condren)

Sharon Van Etten (Photo by Dusdin Condren)

On her new album, “Are We There,” Sharon Van Etten asks a question — though her designer left off the question mark — whose answer depends very much on who you’re asking.

I’ve been having a debate with someone about Sharon that demonstrates that there’s no clear answer to the question.

My debate partner thinks Sharon, whose first album, 2009’s Because I Was in Love,  was a fairly stripped-down, singer-songwriter affair, has exhibited an increasing tendency to lean too heavily on studio tricks and production techniques, burying her voice, obscuring her lyrics, and seriously undercutting the impact of her songs. And her first impression of the new album is that it continues in that vein.

I had similar reservations at first, but now, after listening to Are We There a dozen times, I think that Sharon may have f0und her sweet spot.

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Sharon Van Etten to release Tramp deluxe edition

Sharon Van Etten’s Tramp

Click to hear a bonus track now

Sharon Van Etten has announced the release of a deluxe edition of her latest album, Tramp, on Nov. 13.

We find the repackaging of current albums with new tracks to be more than a little annoying — they often seem like desperate marketing ploys by a badly hurting record industry. But when it comes to Sharon, we’ll make an exception. She’s an amazing artist — and we’re completists when it comes to her work.

She’s making “Tell Me (Demo),” one of the bonus tracks on the forthcoming package, available to stream now. It’ll whet your appetite for what sounds like an exceptional repackaging from Jagjaguwar Records. They’re promising to include a self-portrait and liner notes about each song taken from Sharon’s journals. And for those of you, like me, who have little room for CDs, the digital version will feature a new digital booklet including the same, new liner notes and artwork.

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Sharon Van Etten just can’t stop touring

Sharon Van Etten at the Bowery Ballroom on Feb. 26, 2012.

We’ve been away from this page for too long. But an email landed in our in box this morning that inspired us to sit down and log in.

Sharon Van Etten, who’s on Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone‘s Top 10 Artist lists, announced the dates for her fall tour today.

Van Etten at the Northside Festival, 2010.

It seems like Sharon, a wonderful, low-key Brooklyn singer songwriter has been touring nonstop since releasing her third full-length album, Tramp, on Jagjaguwar early this year. While we’re glad she’s been sharing her extraordinary voice and songwriting with audiences around the world, we have a feeling that she hasn’t spent much time at home in Bushwick, Brooklyn, just a couple of neighborhoods away — and a world apart — from  Ditmas Park,  the home of  other musical luminaries like Sufjan Stevens and most of the members of The National.

Her new tour dates continue the marathon. It takes her to Portugal, Spain, France and the U.K. before bringing her stateside for a good long wander through the eastern half of the U.S. before wrapping up back in New York City.

Sharon’s a hard-working musician. But don’t let the volume fool you. Click through to the jump for more photos of Sharon through the years, along with her full tour schedule.

And take note of the period from Aug. 23 to Sept. 25. I don’t see any shows scheduled, do you? We can only hope that’s when we’ll be seeing her around Brooklyn.

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Sharon Van Etten playing NYC club date

 

Sharon van Etten at the Music Hall of Williamsburg last April. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

UPDATE: Show sells out in minutes

Tickets for Mercury Lounge gig on sale at noon today

What can we say? This just-added Sharon Van Etten gig should be a great early runthrough of the material from her forthcoming third album, Tramp, due out on Jagjaguwar Feb. 7.

UPDATE: If you thought you could wait a minute past noon E.T. to try for tickets, you’ve already missed out.

Tickets go onsale at noon today (Wednesday, Jan. 11) for a show next Wednesday, Jan. 18, at the tiny (its capacity is just 250 people) Mercury Lounge. Doors open at 7 p.m., with a 7:30 set time. Buy tickets here. Sorry. Not surprisingly, this tiny venue sold out in a matter of minutes.

This appearance comes a day after she shows up for an appearance on WNYC-FM’s Soundcheck with host John Schaefer. That one’s sold out, but it’ll be on the air and on the web.

It looks like tickets are still available for her shows with Shearwater late next month, too, at The Music Hall of Williamsburg and the Bowery Ballroom.

Sharon’s flying high, and with good reason. Don’t miss this amazing artists at one of these gigs.

Sharon van Etten signs with a new label

Sharon van Etten at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in April. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Powerful singer Sharon van Etten, whose great strength is in the directness of her lyrics and singing, has signed a new recording deal with Jagjaguwar Records, her publicist has announced.

Congratulations are in order. It’s a great career move for one of the best, most honest singers active today.

The move puts Sharon in the company of top indie acts such as Bon Iver, Okkervil River, Black Mountain and Dinosaur Jr. Jagjaguwar will release her third album, being produced by The National‘s Aaron Dessner, in early 2012.

The National's Aaron Dessner performing with Sharon Van Etten at the Northside Festival in Brooklyn in June.

Sharon is the second hot artist to part ways with Brookyn’s Ba Da Bing label in recent months. Ba Da Bing released Epic, an album that really boosted her profile, last year. Her connection with the label is even deeper, though. Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? first met Sharon as a Ba Da Bing publicist, who was representing noise-rock duo WOOM.

Longtime Ba Da Bing labelmate Beirut announced in June that its next album would be self-released rather than on Ba Da Bing. The band is  continuing under Ba Da Bing’s management aegis, however. It’s unclear whether Sharon will do the same.

It looks like Sharon, an amazingly talented and genuinely nice person, is living up to our early expectations. This year alone she’s already played Bonnaroo, Sasquatch, and MusicNow. And she has dates scheduled later this year at  Bumbershoot, Musicfest NW and at the Hollywood Bowl with The National and Neko Case.

We’re thrilled to see Sharon’s continuing success.

Beirut comes home, joined by Sharon Van Etten and Yellow Ostrich

Beirut at the 2011 Northside Festival. (Photos © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Zach Condon of Beirut.

The Northside Festival in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, brought one of our favorites, Beirut, back home on Friday night, June 17. It was a great evening of music that came off beautifully. Early downpours that threatened the whole night cleared just in time for the first of the three bands to hit the stage and stayed away.

Yellow Ostrich and Sharon Van Ettenplayed amazing sets. But most people in the audience were there for one thing only: Beirut. And they were not disappointed.

Here’s a taste of the touching, musically nuance performance, with a solo number at the encore by bandleader Zach Condon.

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At long last: New Beirut confirms new disc this summer

Beirut

Hear a brand-new Beirut track, East Harlem, by clicking here.

Wonder where Beirut has gone? Well, the band is finally back with a new album. The band’s publicist just announced that Beirut’s first full-length album in four years, The Rip Tide, is due for release Aug. 30. Bandleader Zach Condon is putting it out on his own label, Pompeii Records, “so as to keep total creative control.”

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Sharon Van Etten: It may be twisted love, but it’s definitely love

 

Sharon Van Etten and her band at The Rock Shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn, on Oct. 8, 2010. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

 

We liked Sharon Van Etten from the very first time we heard her, just her with her guitar, strumming her introspective songs. Her style and sound reminded us from the first of anti-folkie Diane Cluck (who has a date at Zebulon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13). And sure enough, on her MySpace page Sharon lists Diane as one of her influences.

 

Sharon Van Etten's harmonium powers the wall-of-sound that is "Love More," the signature song from her new album, Epic.

 

And now, with her new band and a second album under her belt, Sharon seems to really be coming into her own.

Her songs veer between powerful, emotionally draining near-howls to intimate prayers. Love is a regular theme.

Despite some initial technical problems, Sharon exuded charm and talent on Friday night, Oct. 8, at The Rock Shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn, one of the newest music venues in the area. (And home of what seems to me to be the first rock club I’ve encountered to chard $7 for a 10-ounce draft beer!)

Sharon spent much time on the material from her new album, Epic (BaDaBing Records). But she wasn’t afraid to hit the audience with something so new that it’s still untitled. Go here to listen to the new song. And she spent the end of her set alone onstage, with the band watching from the wings, as she recapped her earlier solo material.

She left the sold-out crowd thrilled and wanting more. And it made us, to borrow a phrase, love more.

If you can, go to The Mercury Lounge tonight (Saturday, Oct. 9) for more of Sharon. She’s continuing her CD-release celebration there at 10:30 on a bill with Kyp Malone of Rain Machine and TV on the Radio fame. The Mercury Lounge is at217 East Houston St New York, NY. Click here for a  map. $12.

 

Sharon Van Etten.

 

Beirut and WOOM play The Music Hall of Williamsburg

With his rotary valve flugelhorn (no, it's not a trumpet!) slung jauntily over his shoulder, Beirut frontman Zach Condon is a devil-may-care showman. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

If you felt old at last night’s Beirut show at The Music Hall of Williamsburg, there was a reason. Elise, a fan in the crowd at my side pointed this out, saying that she felt like the oldest person in the room, even though she appeared barely older than the band’s 24-year-old frontman Zach Condon.

The boys of Beirut.

The explanation is simple: The first night of the two-night, sold-out stand at Beirut’s home venue was essentially designated youth night. Beirut’s record label, BaDaBing, arranged for Monday night’s show as an 18-and-older gig and a block of tickets was sold at the box office only for the bargain price of $9.99 to give young fans a chance to see what one critic has dubbed “the best indie rock band of the 19th century.”

BaDaBing head Ben Goldberg, explains:

Hey everyone, the first show on July 5th is an 18+ show, the second is 21+. We wanted to make sure all those of you without credit cards of your own or superspeed internet connections are able to potentially get tickets, hence why the $9.99 is only available at the box office and won’t carry any handling fees.

Looking forward to seeing all you pale skins’ post-Independence day sunburns!

–ba da ben

Last night’s show was simply amazing. Beirut played a solid 90-minute set, kicking things off with “Elephant Gun” and romping through a sing-along set of all the band’s best-loved songs. It seemed far too short, but satisfying all the same. (And selling out @MusicHallofWB for two nights in a row seems like quite an accomplishment for a band that hasn’t released a proper album since 2007 and probably won’t have the next one ready until Spring 2011!)

Zach exudes a charm and confidence that belies his age. He appears comfortable onstage and has the swagger of a latter-day Sinatra. He’s not so much electrifying as he is charming and seductive. His warm style and the band’s tightness won a lot of love from the audience.

If I had ever imagined that flugelhorn and trumpet would someday become this hip, I might have thought twice about giving up playing brass after high school. Zach and his bandmates are among a number of influential young musicians who have managed to make the rock world safe for old-school instruments — French horn, trumpet, flugelhorn, accordion, ukulele and trombone.

We didn’t shoot any video last night, but lots of other concertgoers had video cameras. Here’s one of “The Penalty” posted by a fan known on Twitter as @projectnrm. The sound quality doesn’t really do the performance justice, but no matter, the enthusiasm is there:

WOOM is always in motion. The band's scrappy, bare-knuckled sound is irresistible.

Openers WOOM, a silly but joyous husband-and-wife band, charmed the crowd with a nice set of DIY beats coupled with Sara Magenheimer‘s vocals and Eben Portnoy‘s scratchy guitar riffs.

In addition to their usual repertoire, they debuted their version of Elizabeth Cotten‘s folk tune “Freight Train” last night. Though it had some rough edges, it was an intelligent and entertaining deconstruction of a song that’s been covered by many artists over the years, including Joan Baez, the Grateful Dead and even Laura Veirs, with the highly recognizable chorus: “When I die, Lord, bury me deep/Way down on old Chestnut Street/So I can hear old No. 9/As she goes rolling by.”

WOOM’s first full-length album, Muu’s Way, is out today on BaDaBing. It’s available from Amazon.com and other music outlets.

Click through to the jump for more photos from last night’s show. Continue reading

Picture this: Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum at (Le) Poisson Rouge

Jeff Mangum

If you want to see photos and video of Jeff Mangum‘s long-awaited return as a spotlight performer for the first time in a decade (despite claims to the contrary, he has performed in public during that time at least once, playing one song and helping out on the Elephant 6 tour in 2008), you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Yes, Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? was at Manhattan’s (Le) Poisson Rouge last night when the reclusive Neutral Milk Hotel frontman performed at three-song set with a one-song encore as part of a sold-out Chris Knox benefit. I got inside with a 3.2-megapixel camera-equipped BlackBerry. But surreptitious photography and videography just didn’t seem to be in the spirit of things last night.

Ben Goldberg, who organized and ran last night’s benefit and amazingly kept it running on time, made things pretty clear:

Do not photograph the bands while they play. Do not film the bands while they play. We’ve turned down some pretty incredible offers to record this for various outlets so that you can enjoy the show unencumbered, so – hey – don’t be a dick. Just soak it in, let the glory of the moment wash over you, and then spend the rest of your life reminiscing at how great it was that you are alive and were there.

And soak it in I did! But, as expected, there were more than a few dicks in the crowd last night. Sad, but a fact of life. So in about 30 seconds, Google will point you to sites with grainy photos and videos. Yes, I’ve looked at them. How could I not? But I can’t in good conscience promote them.

It was clear that many of the people who paid $75 apiece to help Chris, an influential New Zealand indie rocker who suffered multiple strokes last year, were there just to hear Jeff. While the Louisiana native never really completely dropped out of sight, he has been a man of mystery since disbanding NMH after a tour to support its final album, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, in 1998.

Jeff was greeted with ear-splitting applause. He appeared to be genuinely gratified by the reception as he came onstage with no ceremony, set up two guitars, and sat in a chair and prepared to play. Someone in the audience yelled out ‘We missed you,” to which he responded, “I missed you too.” One concertgoer positioned close to the stage reports he added a tiny coda to that remark, saying just under his breath, “Don’t think that I haven’t.”

He launched into his set with “Oh Comely.” His voice sounded just a bit weak at first, but then it became clear he hadn’t quite adjusted to the room and the sound setup. It was a revelation to see that his distinctive vocal sound stems from the fact that he didn’t use a vocal microphone, but rather just sang loudly enough for his voice to be picked up by the mic set up for his acoustic guitar. The strain of singing so loudly, coupled with his deliberately nasal delivery, makes Jeff’s singing so memorable and touching.

The crowd went wild as he continued his set with “A Baby for Pree” and “Two Headed Boy Pt. 2.″ Then with a quick “This is my last song,” Jeff  launched into the title song of NMH’s final album, “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.” Jeff is one of the most poetic lyricists in rock music, and “Aeroplane” may be the most beautifully sad song he’s released. Many of us were in tears as he sang the lines: “And one day we will die/And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea/But for now we are young/Let us lay in the sun/And count every beautiful thing we can see.”

It was hard to imagine he could top that rendition. It was as close to perfect as live music should be. The crowd begged for more. And I hoped against hope that he’d stay in the green room, ignoring calls for an encore. (After all, this concert was a showcase-format gig, and artists don’t normally take encores.) I wanted more, but I really wanted to be left wanting. The prospect of an encore loomed like a big buzzkill for the mood Jeff’s set created.

But it was impossible for him to resist. He returned to more applause to play “Engine” — asking us to sing along — before picking up his guitars and gig bags and walking off with a huge smile on his face. I can’t complain. It was another great moment. And the people who were there just to hear Jeff wanted to hear anything. As one young fan in a Led Zeppelin T-shirt told me, “I’d listen to him string his guitar, man. I’d listen to him gargle!” And Jeff did far better than that last night.

Unlike some of last night’s performers — Kyp Malone (TV on the Radio/Rain Machine), and Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan and James McNew (Yo La Tengo) — Jeff didn’t hang at the side of the stage to watch other bands. But he didn’t disappear after his set. He returned to the music room, with his wife, documentary filmmaker Astra Taylor, to greet some friends and happily shake fans’ hands. He looked happy and peaceful.

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