Category Archives: Pop and Rock

LA pop genius Jon Brion making rare New York solo appearamnce

Jon Brion

Jon Brion builds a song at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City, Oct. 3, 2011. (Photos © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Jon Brion, the Glen Ridge, New Jersey, -born pop genius, has been based in Los Angeles for many years and rarely performs anywhere else — sticking mostly to the legendary club Largo.

But Brion, who’s worked with important musicians and filmmakers including Fiona Apple, Elliott Smith, Robyn Hitchcock, Judd Apatow, Aimee Mann, Of Montreal, Best Coast, and Paul Thomas Anderson — makes the trek back East every to put on a show once in awhile.

This year is one of those times.

Jon Brion on guitar

Jon Brion builds a song at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City, Oct. 3, 2011. (Photos © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

He was at the Brooklyn Academy of Music opera house on Saturday night, joining the Wordless Music Orchestra as it performed his original score to accompany a big-screen presentation of the 2002 Anderson film “Punch-Drunk Love,” which stars Adam Sandler and Emily Watson. (He’s also written scores for “Magnolia,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” and last year’s Amy Schumer vehicle, “Trainwreck.”)

He sat in the rear, practically under the screen and pretty far out of view, but took a big bow at the end.

I bemoaned the fact that he was such a small part of the fantastic evening. But seeing and hearing him at all was better than being deprived of his massive talents altogether.

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Shearwater shows David Bowie some love in Brooklyn

Jonathan Meiburg and Shearwater at Brooklyn's Rough Trade on March 16, 2016. (© 2016, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Jonathan Meiburg and Shearwater at Brooklyn’s Rough Trade on March 16, 2016. (© 2016, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Jonathan Meiburg the lead singer and head honcho of the crew of talented hired guns that call themselves Shearwater these days (or Johnny & the Meiburgs, as one former member dubbed the band) have been playing songs from David Bowie’s 19979 album “Lodger” lately while touring then new album, “Jet Plane and Oxbow.”

On Tuesday night, the band put those 10 songs together and played them in album order at Rough Trade in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

“This is the first time we’ve played them together in order,” he told a small but enthusiastic crowd — which included Okkervil River frontman and onetime Meiburg bandmate Will Sheff. Continue reading

2 classic Feelies albums to be reissued in March

The Feelies' "Only Life" and "Time for a Witness" will be rereleased on the Bar/None label on March 11. (The Feelies/Facebook)

The Feelies’ “Only Life” and “Time for a Witness” will be rereleased on the Bar/None label on March 11. (The Feelies/Facebook)

It’s been a long time coming, but the third and fourth albums from New Jersey indie rockers The Feelies are finally getting  proper reissues, complete with liner notes and bonus material.

“Only Life” (1988) and “Time for a Witness” (1991) are scheduled to drop on the Bar/None label — which released the band’s latest album, “Here Before” (2011) — on March 4. The Haledon, New Jersey, -based band — comprising Glenn Mercer, Bill Million, Stanley Demeski, Brenda Sauter, and Dave Weckerman — made the date official in post on Facebook over the weekend.

Just to make it official, these 2 LP’s will be re-issued by Bar/None 3/11/16. And there will be bonus tracks included with each.

Posted by The Feelies on Saturday, February 20, 2016

“Only Life” was reissued in 2008 by Water Records through Universal Music Special Products, without bonus tracks or the band’s involvement. As far as I know, this is the first reissue for “Time for a Witness” and hasn’t been widely available for years.

The two albums, originally issued on A&M, complete the band’s classic catalogue, joining the 2009 rereleases of the band’s first and second albums, “Crazy Rhythms” (1980) and “The Good Earth” (1986).

The albums will include bonus material — none of it from the original sessions, according to the band — and new liner notes. “The Ice Storm” author Rick Moody wrote them for “Only Life” and Michael Azerrad (“Our Band Could Be Your Life”) handled the “Time for a Witness”  notes.

The reissues are available for preorder from Bar/None now. Go here for ordering information.

 

Big day coming for Jennifer O’Connor

Jennifer O'Connor

Jennifer O’Connor

Jennifer O’Connor, the singer-songwriter and proprietor of The Kiam Records Shop in Nyack, New York, has a spectacular new album, “Surface Noise,” coming out next Friday, March 4.

That’s the same day she makes her debut at the Tarrytown Music Hall as she enters the home stretch of her tour with bad-ass indie singer-songwriter Neko Case.

I wrote about O’Connor’s album early in February, calling it “the best new album I’ve heard so far” this year. A month — and many other new albums — later and my feelings haven’t changed. It’s a great album that shows off an artist who has grown and developed a richer, more nuanced sound.

O’Connor hits Tarrytown with Case at 8 p.m. Friday, March 4. A few tickets remain in the side orchestra sections at $48, and about 100 balcony tickets are still available at $38. Go here to get your tickets online. It’s a great way to give O’Connor a nice Lower Hudson Valley welcome-home, and to experience a great show. (If you can’t make it to Tarrytown, you have a chance to check out O’Connor’s full set during her official record-release show at Manhattan’s Mercury Lounge on Monday, March 7, with wife Amy Bezunartea opening. Doors are at 6:30 p.m. Go here for tickets, which are $12 in advance.)

Christopher Vaughan of The Journal News/lohud.com, sat down with O’Connor recently to talk about her big day. Go here to read his interview.

 

 

The best time for Speed the Plough is ‘Now’

Now slice.jpg

Mark your calendar now: Speed the Plough is ready to party.

The North Jersey chamber rockers have been playing the songs from their splendid new album, aptly titled “Now,” for awhile. But now they’re ready to make it official with a record release party.

STP will jam the tiny stage of The HiFi Bar (formerly Brownie’s) in Manhattan’s East Village on Thursday night, Feb. 25, to celebrate its release.

nowcover “Now” is Speed the Plough’s eighth album, and is notable for its fresh-but-familiar sound and the fact that it’s the first release by the newly revived Coyote Records.

Coyote was responsible for some of the early releases by Yo La Tengo, The Feelies, Beat Rodeo, Chris Stamey,and other leading lights of the Hoboken indie rock scene that centered on Maxwell’s. It was co-founded by Steve Fallon, who also ran Maxwell’s before giving it all up and moving to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where he opened a collectibles shop called Gidget’s Gadgets.

It’s fitting in so many ways that “Now” is Coyote’s first release in years. Speed the Plough  started playing in 1984, during the golden age of the Hoboken scene, and has persevered — with an evolving membership always anchored by stalwarts Toni and John Baumgartner — through so many changes.

“Now” is a perfect example of Speed the Plough’s ability to ability to adapt.

The album preserves the feel of the band’s earlier work without  sounding dated. This disc embraces the talents of the new members — vocalist/guitaristsEd Seifert and Michael Baumgartner, bassist Cindi Merklee, and drummer John Demeski.

Seven of the album’s 12 tracks are John Baumgartner compositions featuring vocals by him or Toni, along with Toni’s traditional wind instruments. They’re every bit as good as anything they’ve done before. The haunting “Midnight in the World” — with its refrain of “Calling you ’cause I don’t know what to do” — is a particular earworm.

Their son, Michael, comes on strong with three contributions: “Garden,” a rocker that is probably the first of the gravel-voiced songwriter’s that I ever heard live, “Hey, Blue,” a gentle love song, and a brief (1:47), driving, Hüsker Dü-ish rocker, “Ed’s Song.”  that closes the disc.

Seifert contributes “Be With You,” a delightful, loping folk-rocker with spare, repeated lyrics.

Merklee steps forward in a way that I’ve been waiting to hear, offering a beautiful, plaintive homage to novelist Carson McCullers wiht “Miss Amelia.”

IF YOU GO

What: Speed the Plough record release party

When: 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 25

Where: The HiFi Bar, 169 Avenue A, Manhattan

Tickets: Free, donations accepted, with all proceeds going to the artists. Shows in this small venue tend to fill up, but if you arrive early, you’ll likely have no problem getting in. Making a donation in advance online guarantees entry.

 

Wilco brings ‘Star Wars’ to Port Chester’s Capitol Theatre

 

The Capitol Theatre marquee (© 2016, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

The Capitol Theatre marquee (© 2016, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

I’ve seen Wilco more than just about any other band. I’m not sure why, it just happened. It seems I can’t get enough of them. Thankfully, every tour seems fresh, because this band is tighter and more spectacular every time it blasts out of the gate.

The "Star Wars" cat — or, rather, a reasonable facsimile — awaits the band's arrival onstage Tuesday night at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. (© 2016, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

The “Star Wars” cat — or, rather, a reasonable facsimile — awaits the band’s arrival onstage Tuesday night at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. (© 2016, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

This tour — which returns to the Capitol Theatre for another sold out show Wednesday, before hitting the far less intimate Kings Theatre in Brooklyn for two more sold-out gigs on Friday and Saturday — rolls out the new “Star Wars” material, like “More,” “Taste the Ceiling,””Random Name Generator,” and the heartbreaking “Where Do I Begin.”

Even so, Wilco’s never a play-the-album band, so there were plenty of favorites from the back catalogue in the show, too.

Photos and setlist on the jump.

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The Smithereens do it ‘Especially for You’

The Smithereens at B.B. King Blues Club (© 2016, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

The Smithereens at B.B. King Blues Club (© 2016, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

The Smithereens unleashed their debut album, “Especially for You,” on the world 30 years ago, and the band played it — and much more at B.B. King Blues Club in Manhattan on Saturday night.

The Times Square feels like an odd place to see the band, which formed in Carteret, New Jersey, in 1980. The band seems far more at home in the grungy basement music room of New Brunswick’s Court Tavern. But B.B. King was the place the band booked — it’s become the band’s Manhattan go-to for a number of January shows — so there I went.

The show was superb, despite the questionable venue: great performances, great sound.

Yes, singer Pat DiNizio has been through some tough times and isn’t in the best physical shape. He’s unable to play guitar because of recent Tommy John surgery as well as other procedures to correct carpal tunnel problems.

But the man can still sing. His voice, while a little less flexible than it was 30 years ago, still has that distinctive quality that instantly identifies a Smithereens song, and remains superbly expressive.

Without DiNizio’s guitar, the band brought in keyboard player Andy Burton of John Mayer’s band to fill out the  sound — keys are a surprisingly nice addition, actually. And  guitarist Jim Babjak worked harder than ever to make up for the lack of a second guitar, with a rock-solid beat established by Dennis Diken, the world’s hardest-working drummer and bassist Severo “The Thrilla” Jornacion.

See more photos and info on upcoming shows after the jump.

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