Category Archives: Recordings

Don’t miss TRØN & DVD: Free listening party in Nyack tonight, show in Manhattan Monday

TRONcolordad copy.jpgDon’t miss out on one of the best musical events of the year: the release of Nyack hip hop duo TRØN & DVD‘s first full length album.

“Afraid of the Dark,” the tough-but-funny pair’s debut, dropped Friday, Oct. 20, on Kiam Records.

Brothers Norvin and Darian Van Dunk, who perform as TRØN & DVD, sat down with me recently for an extended interview for The Journal News/lohud, which appeared on Page One of Wednesday’s newspaper and is also available online. GO HERE to read the interview. (They also got some love from Nyack News & Views a few weeks back.)

The Kiam Records Shop, the label’s home base at 95 Main St/. in Nyack, is hosting a free listening-and-CD-signing party at 7 p.m. Friday. Label chief Jennifer O’Connor promises drinks and snacks.

On Monday, TRØN & DVD will perform the album from start-to-finish at the storied Mercury Lounge in Manhattan. Tickets are a mere $10 for what is certain to be an excellent show. GO HERE to buy your tickets online.

 

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Rockland County’s Martha Mooke performs music from ‘No Ordinary Window’ on Sunday

martha-mookeNyack composer and electro-acoustic violist Martha Mooke brings her spectacular sounds to ArtsRock‘s Music at Union Arts Center series this Sunday afternoon.

She’s a spectacular violist, and her compositions on her latest album, “No Ordinary Window,” are beautiful, boundary-busting windows into her own sonic imagination.

“I slip through the cracks of defined boundaries,” she told me in a recent interview.  “I keep re-creating my way…. I try to take on challenges.”

Read my recent interview with Mooke for The Journal News/lohud.com by going here, and then grab some tickets for Sunday afternoon’s show.

IF YOU GO

When:  2 p.m., Sunday, April 3.

Where: Union Arts Center, 2 Union St, Sparkill, New York

Tickets: $20 in advance/$25 at door/$10 students, available online by going here.

 

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.

 

‘Surface Noise’: A self-effacing title for Jennifer O’Connor’s brilliant new album

The cover of Jennifer O'Connor's album "Surface Noise" (March 4, 2016, Kiam Records) features an ambitious abstract painting, "There 48," by Brooklyn artist Joan LeMay.

The cover of Jennifer O’Connor’s album “Surface Noise” (March 4, 2016, Kiam Records) features an ambitious abstract painting, “There 48,” by Brooklyn artist Joan LeMay.

I’ve never been one to make best-of lists when it comes to music. I enjoy so much of what I hear that it’s difficult to pick favorites.

So I won’t say that Jennifer O’Connor‘s forthcoming album, “Surface Noise,” out March 4, 2016, on Kiam Records, is a sure-fire pick for my best of 2016 list, since I’m not likely to compile one.

I can say it’s the best new album I’ve heard so far in this still-young year — and I fully expect to feel that way about it when this year is winding down.

“Surface Noise” is packed with 12 songs that explore love, loss, and the challenges of life with a casual brilliance about this album that makes it the best work this talented artist has produced so far.

ORDER JENNIFER O’CONNOR’S “SURFACE NOISE” VIA KIAM RECORDS NOW — GO HERE

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Suzanne Vega keeps Carson McCullers alive

Suzanne Vega onstate as novelist Carson McCullers.

Suzanne Vega onstage as novelist Carson McCullers.

New York singer-songwriter Vega has ‘rewritten’ her intimate one-woman portrait of the novelist and is recording the songs

Good news: New York singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega’s one-woman musical play about Southern writer Carson McCullers is getting a second life.

I’ve rewritten the entire play. Recording the songs today,” she told me Wednesday in response to a Facebook inquire about the show. The album is expected to come out in the Spring. 

That’s just the latest fantastic news about Vegas efforts to push her talent into the world of theater — efforts that I feared she might have abandoned.

Vega showed the world a new face in 2011 with her one-woman play “Carson McCullers Talks About Love.” She wrote and starred in the play, which featured music co-written with pop artist and “Spring Awakening” composer Duncan Sheik.

Someone who knows Vega well told me she was urged to do an out-of-town tryout before staging it in New York. But she apparently ignored the advice and launched it at the small, well-worn Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre in downtown Manhattan.

As predicted, didn’t get the results or critical response she had hoped for.

Charles Isherwood of The New York Times described the show as a “funky ramble through the life of that Southern writer,” but assessed it as a “messy” project.

Joe Dziemianowicz, the longtime New York Daily News theater critic who was unceremoniously dumped by the tabloid earlier this year, was a bit kinder, but didin’t offer glowing praise:

Vega traces McCullers’ life with great warmth, but at times the play’s matter-of-factness chafes. Vega isn’t fully comfortable acting a role, which is also an issue.

I saw the spare production and was delighted by Vega’s transformation into McCullers — who was only 50 years old (a couple of years younger than Vega was during the Rattlestick run) when she died in 1967 in Nyack, where had lived off and on for 30 years.

The story was fascinating and the music was full of life and told the story of the writer quite well.

Vega’s not the only artist inspired at least in part by McCullers at the  time. Gabriel Kahane’s well-received musical “February House,”  staged in 2012 at The Public Theater, was based an the book of the same name that featured McCullers and a cast of early 20th century arts icons — from Gypsy Rose Lee to W.H.Auden — who lived in a house in Brooklyn Heights for a short, intense time in the 1940s.

But Vega’s show seemed to vanish when the run ended.

While it dropped off the radar, I certainly didn’t forget about it.

I rarely respond to calls for audience requests at concerts, but even have to admit I called out for “anything from the Carson McCullers show” when Vega asked for requests at The Bell House a few years later.

She laughed and politely declined. I figured she just wanted to forget about it.

But it seems I was wrong.

Vega is performing some of the songs from the show  in concert Jan. 15 at Joe’s Pub on Jan. 15.

She rewrote the title, too, while reworking the play. It’s now called “Unjoined: An Evening With Carson McCullers” — a title that appears to be influenced by the final moments of the writer’s 1946 novel, “The Member of the Wedding,” which describes 13-year-old motherless character Frankie Addams feeling like “an unjoined person who hung around in doorways, and she was afraid.”

For a little more from Vega about the show, check out this interview with Richmond Magazine.

“Unjoined: An Evening With Carson McCullers” is on track to return to the stage in 2016. I, for one, can hardly wait to see what Vega’s done with it.