Four New York Couples That Make Beautiful Music Together

Categories: Feature, Longform

She Keeps Bees
Andy LaPlant has rarely been more grateful to play music with his wife than in 2010, when he almost died on tour in France. The drummer of Brooklyn psych duo She Keeps Bees had to undergo emergency surgery when a cyst near his spine ruptured hours before a show, and for the rest of the tour it fell to Jessica Larrabee, the band's singer and songwriter and Andy's partner of nine years, to serve as his nurse.

Larrabee diligently changed LaPlant's dressing every other day to stave off infection. Another band, perhaps one lacking the foundation of a romance, likely would have called off the tour. Any sane group definitely would have had they run out of antibiotics, as She Keeps Bees did long before their scheduled flight home. But bailing on the project that binds and fulfills them never crossed their minds. The only show they canceled was the night Andy went under. Now, as Larrabee says, "everything else seems like small potatoes."

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DIY Darlings Frankie Cosmos Step Into the Mainstream

Photo by Julia Leiby
Greta Kline (far left) and her band, Frankie Cosmos
Greta Kline is sitting in an Upper East Side diner, Three Guys, picking at a plate of eggs. She doesn't appear to have noticed that the waitress brought her home fries instead of the hash browns she ordered. The twenty-year-old songwriter is too preoccupied discussing her guitar-pop band, Frankie Cosmos, and breaking the room's hushed ambience with wandering monologues about the things whizzing around her brain: touring, chauvinism, New Year's Eve.

Frankie Cosmos' breezy songs tend to cover very specific topics — like dirty water splashing up from the street — and Kline's ruminations come across similarly: pointed and confident, but delivered in a sunny, meandering package.

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At Just 25, Jerron 'Blind Boy' Paxton Channels the Spirit of a Bygone Era

When Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton sits in for a set at the Jalopy Theatre in Red Hook, Brooklyn, it is a raucous affair. It's not uncommon for his audiences to whoop, holler, and stomp in unison — hard enough to shake the floor. Paxton shifts from piano to guitar to fiddle to a five-string banjo that looks like he time-traveled to the 1920s, stole it from a juke joint, and dropped it on the ground a few times on the way back. His repertoire of old-timey music is vast — altogether, he says, he can play two or three thousand songs.

On this particular autumn night, his set includes Irish jigs, a pop song from the 1930s called "The Very Thought of You" (recorded by Al Bowlly, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, and Elvis Costello, among many others), and bluegrass favorite "Old Johnny Booker" from the early 1900s.

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Interview: Neneh Cherry on a New Brand of Feminism in Pop Culture

Photo by Kim Hiorthoy
Neneh Cherry plays New York on January 9.
Neneh Cherry has had four top-ten hits, collaborated with everyone from Peter Gabriel to Gorillaz, and performed on Top of the Pops while seven months pregnant. But on January 9 she's finally going to do something she's never done before: play a solo show in New York City.

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Wild Arrows Weather the Storm...Finally

Categories: Feature

Joe Jagos
Shiori Takenoshita and Mike Law of Wild Arrows

On a rainy Friday night in Greenpoint, Mike Law is trying to stay dry. As he unlocks the door to his apartment, the frontman of Wild Arrows, whose new record, Tell Everyone, will be released on vinyl December 9, remarks that the rain is fitting.

Indeed, though tragically so. Until November of 2012, Law was one of four co-owners of Gowanus recording collective The South Sound Studio. When Hurricane Sandy hit, the space, including the entirety of his studio, Translator Audio, was destroyed. The last time I saw Law, he was standing amid the wreckage, appealing to the universe to send him "a fucking hammer" so he and his friends could begin to rebuild.

See Also: Brooklyn's South Sound Studio Completely Destroyed by Sandy

Since that day, over two years ago, that's what Law has been attempting to do, though he does warn in an email that there is "no happy ending." The four main partners of The South Sound had put almost everything they had, physically and financially, into the building. They finished construction a mere two weeks before Sandy.

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

Categories: Feature

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

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

Jamie Harmon
"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

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

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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