Seventeen Years in the Making, Swervedriver's Return Strikes a 'Beautiful/Nasty' Balance

Categories: Interviews

Photo by Giles Borg
It's been a long time coming — seventeen years long, to be precise — but on March 6, Swervedriver released a brand new album, I Wasn't Born To Lose You, marking the shoegaze vets' first full-length record since 1998's 99th Dream.

The question isn't so much why the wait, after all, as the band was broken up and had been silent for almost ten years before reconvening around 2007. Reunion tours do strange things to bands: they either revive old battles or, as in this case, remind them of great musical bonds. Still, a new album was a subject Swervedriver approached cautiously.

More »

The Ten Best Concerts in New York This Weekend, 3/27/15

Categories: Weekend

Photo by Chuck Grant
See Nikki Lane on Friday at Warsaw in Greenpoint.
For more shows throughout the weekend, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.

More »

Does New Jack Swing Really Matter in 2015?

Categories: New Jack Swing

Yes, you're reading the above title, in a piece from the Village Voice of all places. It's here where Barry Michael Cooper coined the term New Jack Swing in his 1987 profile of Teddy Riley, the Harlem producer who was the main architect of what was then a fascinating new genre. New Jack Swing brought us "Poison," "Remember the Time," and Starter jackets — and it consequently kept Riley fed for years.

More »

Brooklyn Folk Festival Boasts Jerron 'Blind Boy' Paxton and More on 2015 Lineup

Jena Cumbo for the Village Voice
Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton
If you're persistent, you can learn and begin to conquer an instrument in about seven years. By using this same time frame and dedication, the Brooklyn Folk Festival is prepping itself for a scorching solo in this year's recital.

More »

'WTF is Hobo Folk?' Shakey Graves and Nikki Lane Ditch Your Labels at the Door

Graves photo by Josh Verduzco / Lane photo by Glynis Carpenter
Shakey Graves and Nikki Lane
Here's the thing about Shakey Graves and Nikki Lane: The two of them are always down for stage shenanigans, and the fact that they're currently on tour together is a genius and terrible idea all at the same time. When Shakey Graves — a/k/a Alejandro Rose-Garcia — rolled through New York a few months ago in support of his remarkable sophomore effort, And the War Came, a dude crawled out of the crowd to join him onstage at the Bowery Ballroom, picked up a bass, and rocked with the band for a few bars, accidentally stomping on some of the lights in the process. With Lane, she's as rambunctious as her caterwauling, modern take on old country is on All or Nothin', the 2014 full-length she's still touring behind. She was forced to crowdsurf from the stage to the back of the venue in order to work the merch table the other night, and she's always down to bring the crowd before her to a fever pitch by the end of her set. The grins they each sport when they're in their element — playing to packed, loud, sloppy rooms full of people clapping off the beat and belly-laughing while they do it — rival that of the Cheshire Cat. Their mischief is just as engaging as their music, and that's why they're ideal road buddies, even if it means trouble for the rest of us.

In between their respective soundchecks in Washington, D.C., just two nights before their return to New York City for two shows, at Irving Plaza and Warsaw, Lane and Rose-Garcia picked each other's brains about everything they love and loathe about music, from the need to pigeonhole an artist into a particular genre to learning how to keep a cool head as your career takes off. Edited for brevity, this is the backstage chat that unfurled between two of independent country's — or folk, or rock, or what have you — most exciting talents.

More »

Tove Lo Confessed Her Bad 'Habits' While Undressing the Highline Ballroom

Karen Gardiner for the Village Voice
Tove Lo at the Highline Ballroom
Tove Nilsson — better known as Tove Lo — started her music career penning hits for the likes of Girls Aloud and fellow Swedes Icona Pop. Given that history, it's hardly surprising that she knows how to craft a killer chorus. But what's really special about the tunes she has kept for herself is her refreshingly frank attitude when it comes to spilling her guts on record.

More »

Ask Andrew W.K.: 'Why Is It OK to Hate People?'

Photo by Douglass Dresher
Andrew W.K.
[Editor's note: Every week, New York City's own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose, or — no surprise here — a party. Need his help? Just ask:]

Dear Andrew,

All my friends and acquaintances claim to "hate people." Why is this a trend? Why is it considered cool to "hate people"?

I Think People Are Alright

More »

The Bitter End Pays Tribute to Owner Kenny Gorka's Legacy

Courtesy of Robbie Michaels
Kenny Gorka, right, outside the Bitter End on Bleecker Street
What audience members tend to remember after a show at the Bitter End (aside from the music, of course) is the famed brick wall that serves as the backdrop for the iconic Greenwich Village club. But for musicians, it's the venue's late booker and co-owner, Kenny Gorka. On March 20, Gorka unexpectedly passed away, leaving behind his wife, daughter, friends, and countless musicians who remember his warm, welcoming demeanor and passion for music. He was 68.

Gorka's death comes just thirteen months after the passing of the Bitter End's longtime owner, Paul Colby, whose name continues to grace the signage for New York's oldest rock 'n' roll club. Paul Rizzo, the surviving co-owner of the Bitter End, reflects on the influence of his colleagues.

More »

Who Is Tobias Jesso Jr. and How Did He Get Here?

Photo by Sandy Kim
Tobias Jesso Jr. plays a sold-out Mercury Lounge, 3/26/15.
If you've traversed the music blog circuit even casually during the past two weeks, you've likely come across the name of Tobias Jesso Jr. Maybe you wondered why you were seeing his name in AV Club and not an Evelyn Waugh novel, or if his album cover was a picture of Jesse Eisenberg.

Here's a brief introduction: He is a Canadian musician whose stock in trade is the upright piano and simple, melancholic pop songs. His debut album, Goon, channels the understated cooing of an early-Seventies Paul Simon, the plebeian piano-chording of a just-post-Beatles John Lennon, Harry Nilsson's ne'er-do-well affability (less humor), and Warren Zevon's plaintive simplicity (fewer sociopathic tendencies).

More »

Big Data's Live Set Makes For Mind-Blowing Commentary on Digital Obsession

Lindsey Rhoades for the Village Voice
Big Data at the Bowery Ballroom
Alan Wilkis does not seem dangerous. Bespectacled and bearded, he looks more like the hipster archetype known to inhabit his hometown of Brooklyn. Maybe even a little nerdy, like the paranoid tech guy that rambles on with warnings about NSA surveillance and net neutrality when he's supposed to be fixing a glitchy program. And in a way, Wilkis is that guy, except he's not in IT — he's the main brain behind Big Data, a synthpop project that uses technology itself to put a very danceable beat behind ideas about technological fatigue and disillusionment. Written with a clever perspective and a tongue-in-cheek tone, Big Data's debut album, 2.0, was released this week and features a slew of big-name contributors from Brooklyn's music scene and beyond. Propelled by Joywave collaboration "Dangerous," which hit No. 1 on the Billboard U.S. Alternative Songs chart last August, Big Data kicked off their biggest tour yet with a sold-out show at Bowery Ballroom last night.

More »