Pun Intended? Inside Willie Nile's New If I Was a River

Categories: Feature

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Photo by Cristina Arrigoni
Willie Nile has severe Resting Shredder Face.
The pun may be unintentional, but that makes it no less perfect. With a name like Willie Nile, it was just a matter of time before the guy made an album called If I Was a River. Still, although he's too unpretentious to underscore it, don't let the wordplay fool you. Like his friend Bruce Springsteen's similarly titled record from 1980, Nile's River is deep, sometimes dark, and ultimately a sweeping summation of his four decades in music. Also in profound contrast to his last disc, the rightly rewarded, hard-rockin' American Ride, Nile's new release is a stark, heartbreaking work, built on his solid solo piano playing.

Aside from a little sweetening, the record's not just superbly written and played. In these days of finding your formula and sticking to it, it's also heartening. This is an artist who follows the muse and needed to make a record that's as different from his last one as the Hudson is from the Potomac. You know, like Neil Young. Except instead of clunking the keys like a drunk who's commandeered the piano at your cousin's wedding, this artist had classical training as a kid. Primitivism has its place. But Nile's style works better for forging his River.

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The 12 Best Concerts in New York This Week, 11/03/14

Categories: Feature

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BABYMETAL
For more shows throughout the weekend, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.


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Is Lucero Country, Punk, or Alt? In a Word: Yes

Categories: Feature

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Jamie Harmon
Lucero
"John C. Stubblefield from the Lucero rock band!" declares the bassist, phoning from outside Beale Street's New Daisy Theatre in the band's hometown of Memphis. The lineup is at the venue doing production rehearsals in preparation for a three-night stand in New York.

So will the set be different each of the nights? Stubblefield laughs. "We'll see. That's where the 'Seats of Our Pants' [the clearly apt moniker for this Lucero tour] comes in. We've done a couple rehearsals, redoing some of the rock tunes acoustic and digging up some of the old tunes we haven't played in years, some fan favorites. And we'll be opening for ourselves, so to speak, totally acoustic," he explains. "Rick's [Steff] playing an upright piano for the first set, which'll be about an hour. Then we'll switch over to a longer rock show with the horns."

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The 10 Best Concerts in New York This Week, 10/27/14

Categories: Feature

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Mötley Crüe
For more shows throughout the weekend, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.


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A Chance Encounter With Alice Cooper Changed My Life

Categories: Essay, Feature

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Once upon a time in Phoenix, in the fall of 1980, my high school journalism teacher, Mrs. Finerman, was standing before the class, her voice thick with Willy Wonka mystery.

"This is a very special room," she told us. "Years ago, right here, a man by the name of Vincent Furnier wrote for this school newspaper."

We all shrugged, unimpressed.

"Annnd...?" someone finally asked in a polite why-should-we-care tone.

It was the first week of my junior year at Cortez High School. I had no purpose in life at the time, except to daydream about being a bestie to the lead singers of my favorite bands -- Heart, Blondie, the Cars. Basically any group on KUPD's rotation.

I loved to write and figured joining the newspaper staff with my best friend, Dana, would be a way to exercise my blooming creativity.

Mrs. Finerman's dramatic intro certainly piqued my interest.

"Vincent Furnier...changed his name to...Alice Cooper," she revealed, smiling brightly through her shiny frosty pink lipstick. "And up on top of that bookcase," she informed, pointing across the room, "you can see where he scratched in his name in the wood."

As a chubby, shy, rock 'n' roll-loving chica on a mostly Anglo campus, I didn't exactly have a social comfort zone. In this era of my life, I (stupidly) boycotted all things related to my culture -- the food, quinceañeras, and most definitely anything related to low riders. I just wanted to be what I thought was a "normal" 16-year-old. However, I was too geeky for the Mexican-American clique and too insecure about my super-curly hair, olive skin, and the "Kathy CHIcano" name jokes.

See also: Alice Cooper's Best Songs...According to Alice Cooper

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The 10 Best Concerts in New York This Week - 10/20/14

Categories: Feature

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The Allman Bros are taking over Beacon again. Not all of these dudes made it.
For more shows throughout the weekend, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.


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Zola Jesus's Taiga: Antinatalism in the style of 2000s-era J. Lo

Categories: Feature

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Jeff Elstone
Nika Roza Danilova is burdened by the unknowable. That's why she became a musician. "I needed music as a way to process my own sort of larger questions that I feel like I just can't possibly answer," says the 25-year-old vocalist known by names she borrowed from a French philosopher and the son of God.

Zola Jesus' newest album, Taiga, debuted earlier this month. It's a collection of meditations on those larger questions--"Man versus nature, man's position in nature, and the synthesized world versus the natural world"--informed, Danilova says, by the philosphy of Norwegian metaphysician Peter Wessel Zapffe. (He's a famous antinatalist--someone who believes, essentially, the human race should be extinguished.)

See also: Zola Jesus Conquers The Guggenheim

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Is Richard Barone the Low-Key King of New York Music?

Categories: Feature

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Via Facebook
Don't let his hipster's raiment of tight shirts, skinny jeans, and New Wave ties fool you. Perhaps a crown and cape might be more appropriate. But not in the Village, where Richard Barone makes his home. Still, he's worthy of such regal trappings. Because, even as he's speed-rapping, he's getting an email from a Beach Boy, mentioning the single he produced for Liza Minnelli, discussing his teaching gig at NYU, reminding you he's on the Board of Advisers at Anthology Film Archives, and planning an album of "lost" songs from downtown, by everybody from Buddy Holly to Fred Neil. Mostly, though, he's ruminating about his newest project, the upcoming A Circle of Songs. Yes, Bill de Blasio is the mayor of New York. But musically, at least, Barone is the King. Even if you haven't heard of him.

See also: The 50 Most NYC Albums Ever

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Homeboy Sandman's Rise Took a Lot of Work

Categories: Feature

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Photo by Lauren Jaslow
Homeboy Sandman
Homeboy Sandman has been the most visible face of New York underground hip-hop for seven years. What started as a balancing act between pursuing the music he loves and going for his law degree has given way to his becoming the galvanizing focal point of a scene, signing to revered indie rap label Stones Throw and developing into a national touring entity (most recently joining Brother Ali for 40 dates across North America). For Sandman, whose music's melodic charisma works in tandem with an arsenal of avant-garde vocal delivery styles to appeal to casual and discerning hip-hop fans alike, the journey to the New York record-release show for his new album, Hallways, at Glasslands on Thursday, October 16, was as experimental as the music itself.

See also: The 10 Best Male Rappers of All Time


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With the Coming Closing of Death By Audio, Many NYC DIYs Are Going Legit

Categories: Feature

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Photo by Travis Rix
Hunters at Death By Audio
There's confetti embedded in the stage at Death By Audio, the latest off-the-books venue and nightclub in Williamsburg to announce its closure, set for November 22. It's the last gasp of the "Do-It-Yourself" wave that helped bring much attention to the neighborhood's music and scene in the last 10 or 15 years. The confetti ground into the stage, by the feet of thousands of bands, is from a 2008 Monotonix and Dark Meat show that also featured garbage on fire.

See also: "DIY Will Never Die": An Exit Interview with 285 Kent's Ric Leichtung

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