Alice Boman's Warm Ballads Shooed Winter Out of Williamsburg

Categories: Last Night

Karen Gardiner for the Village Voice
Alice Boman headlines Rough Trade NYC.
Last night, in a cold, wet, and sludgy Williamsburg, singer-songwriter Alice Boman, who hails from Malmö, Sweden, brought heartfelt ballads to Rough Trade NYC. A hushed acoustic set from Buffalo's Julie Byrne and a collection of atmospheric and haunting country-tinged ballads from Cassandra Jenkins preceded Boman's low-key headline set, setting the tone for a night of unfussy, vocal-driven, and emotive music.

So sparse are Boman's songs that they almost feel not quite fully formed. Her first EP, originally recorded as a collection of demos that she did not intend to release, was called Skisser, Swedish for "sketches," and yet her delivery, intoxicating and filled with palpable yearning and heartbreak, makes it hard to believe that these songs could've stayed on the shelf. Standing alone in front of a keyboard — her sole musical accompaniment, which she said she had "just borrowed today" — Boman commanded the full attention of the kind of sizable room such a stripped-down arrangement could have easily been lost in.

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Cannibal Corpse and Behemoth Prove It Feels Damn Good to 'Be Alive' at Webster Hall

Categories: Last Night, Metal

Jena Cumbo for the Village Voice
A fan awaits Cannibal Corpse's set amid the sold-out crowd at Webster Hall. Photos: Metal Reigns Over Webster Hall
Cannibal Corpse are one of the constants of the metal universe, a perfect example of artistic conservatism as a life path. Their music has remained essentially unchanged since their 1990 debut album, Eaten Back to Life: They play fast, aggressive death metal, but somehow manage to shoehorn just enough melody into their songs to make them memorable beyond a head-down blur of riffs and blast beats. They don't really have one representative album to recommend to newbies, though everything since 2006's Kill has been ridiculously impressive.

Behemoth, their partners on this tour, are a different story. They've evolved substantially since beginning as a black-metal band in the early Nineties, moving closer to death metal and getting more and more sonically and compositionally ambitious. Their most recent album, The Satanist, is their best by a long stretch. They've also got a better story: Frontman Nergal recently triumphed over leukemia, an experience that has clearly affected him. After the first song of their set at a sold-out Webster Hall, he asked the crowd, "How does it feel to be alive?"

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Steve Earle and the Dukes Bring the Blues to Hendrix's Electric Lady Studios

John Peabody for the Village Voice
Steve Earle at Electric Lady Studios
WFUV (90.7 FM) treated a select group of Steve Earle fans to a super-intimate set February 25 at the historic Electric Lady Studios on West 8th Street. Earle, who said he came down with a cold shortly before the show, didn't show any signs of ailment whatsoever as he and his band the Dukes kicked through an hour-long set featuring songs from their new blues album, Terraplane.

Earle switched effortlessly from harmonica to mandolin to acoustic guitar and a wailing electric for the band's last songs of the night, which included a supreme version of "Hey Joe," an obvious ode to the original proprietor of the studio. Jimi Hendrix commissioned the psychedelic mural on the back wall, Earle told the crowd, though sadly he wouldn't live long enough to see it completed or record much in the studio. "He went to play Isle of Wight and never came back," he said wistfully.

As for how Earle liked playing in the space?

"It's got ghosts in it," Earle said. "But I'm not opposed to that."

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Julia Holter and Spektral Quartet Embrace the Surreal for Ecstatic Music Festival

Lindsey Rhoades for the Village Voice
Julia Holter and Spektral Quartet
With its current connotations, the term "festival" seems like a bit of a misnomer for Ecstatic Music. There are no midriffs; there is no molly; there is no dubstep DJ-du-jour. Its organizers provide an altogether different kind of ecstasy, doled out over three months of performances, most of them in decidedly academic settings rather than trampled, muddy fairgrounds. The idea, they say, is to "give true meaning to the notion of 'Ecstatic Music' as joyful and adventurous collaborations giving some of today's most compelling musicians the opportunity to work together in exciting new combinations," and, for five years now, they've been doing just that. From Deerhoof to DJ /rupture, from tUnE-yArDs to Saul Williams, EMF's curators have a way of identifying indie outliers and pairing them with contemporary classical avant-garde ensembles and composers that have included Rhys Chatham, William Basinski, and SO Percussion, among many, many more. For show-goers in search of the ever-elusive, one-of-a-kind live music experience, Ecstatic Music is a kind of heaven.

There are certainly artists whose off-kilter ethos works well with these unusual, inspired pairings. For Julia Holter, the Los Angeles–based art-pop chanteuse with three critically acclaimed solo records under her belt, collaboration comes easy: She made her EMF debut in 2013 with Laurel Halo and Daniel Wohl's TRANSIT ensemble. Returning to the Kaufman Music Center's Merkin Concert Hall last night, Holter was backed this time by Chicago's Spektral Quartet, an exuberant chamber ensemble with a penchant for quirky arrangements. Before Holter emerged from backstage, they performed a lively set that brilliantly bridged the gap between Mos Def and Stravinsky.

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Photos: JD McPherson at the Bowery Ballroom, 2/26/15

Photo by Jena Ardell for the Village Voice.
JD McPherson
Oklahoma native JD McPherson brought his modern-pop take on rockabilly and Fifties rock 'n' roll to the Bowery Ballroom on Wednesday, February 25, 2015, selling out the 575-person venue. Singer-songwriter Dylan Pratt opened the show. McPherson performed Tuesday on the Late Show With David Letterman and performs Saturday, February 28, 2015, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. His second album, Let the Good Times Roll, was released on February 10. Photos by Jena Ardell for the Village Voice.

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DJ Premier and Royce da 5'9" Make the Most of PRhyme Time in NYC

Sachyn Mital for the Village Voice
PRhyme's DJ Premier and Royce da 5'9" at the Highline Ballroom
Phoned-in sets are closer to a norm than a rarity in hip-hop, but there was certainly no lack of energy during the performances of DJ Premier and Royce da 5'9" — who together make PRhyme — at the Highline Ballroom last night. DJ Premier's ear for flipping cool jazz and shag-carpet soul samples, along with his penchant for pairing them with dusty drum grooves, has made him one of the most influential producers in hip-hop. Premier is still good at the key aspects of his job (from riling up the crowd to frenziedly dicing up vocal snippets on the turntables), and Royce — a close and longtime Eminem affiliate — raps like a much less world-weary artist with a great deal more to prove. Playing to a packed-to-the-gills Highline Ballroom at the outset of a lengthy national tour was no doubt responsible for a good deal of the duo's unflagging energy, but it was also clear that both parties were propelled by a still-fresh excitement for their new material and the younger talent joining them onstage.

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Hull Say Goodbye to Brooklyn Metal with Heavy, Heartfelt Final Concert

Categories: Last Night, Metal

Greg Cristman for the Village Voice
Hull play their last show ever at Brooklyn's Coco 66.
"Did we finally sell out a show after eleven years?" asked guitarist Nick Palmirotto from the stage. "I'm gonna fucking cry."

Snow, slush, and wintry rain couldn't keep a throng of metalheads from packing the house at Coco 66 Saturday night to bid farewell to Hull. The progressive sludge band has been a staple of the Brooklyn metal scene for the past eleven years, but have decided to disband as life takes each member in new directions.

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Swearin' Strike a Rambunctious Balance (and Play New Material) in Brooklyn

Lindsey Rhoades for the Village Voice
Swearin' at Baby's All Right
It's rare to hear anything about Swearin' without a mention that one of its lead vocalists has an identical twin sister who's also in the music business. Indeed, Allison Crutchfield's sister Katie may perform on her own as Waxahatchee, but the sisters' close relationship is woven through the trajectories of both outfits. When they made their first forays into the punk scene in Alabama, it was in bands together, against the world. They still live together (now in Philly), play together, tour together, and lend each other songs, as was made apparent at Swearin's show last night at Baby's All Right.

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Terry Waldo Brings Triumphant Ragtime to Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola

Courtesy of Dizzy's Club Coca Cola
Terry Waldo on the keys at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola
On a frigid Presidents' Day eve, New Yorkers young and old turned out at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola for a night of early jazz and ragtime. Leading that evening's program, entitled "From Ragtime to Jazz" and one of Jazz at Lincoln Center's many events, was pianist, composer, and world expert on traditional jazz Terry Waldo. Waldo was accompanied by his Gotham City Band, which featured eight of the city's best traditional jazz musicians on trumpet, clarinet, trombone, drums, banjo, guitar, bass, and tuba (some doubled up on instruments). Introduced as "the A-Team of ragtime music," the men, clad in tuxedos, played a medley of rich, boppin', early-twentieth-century tunes, set to a backdrop of New York's lights and skyline.

Asked why a generation of younger folks — represented both onstage with him and in the audience — might be interested in this music, Waldo, sitting at a diner in the West Village after a Fat Cat gig the night before, said, "just 'cause it's great music." And the excitement on and off the stage followed suit.

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Paul McCartney Found New Romance in Old Songs at Irving Plaza on Valentine's Day

"That was great — and I don't even like that song!" So proclaimed a thirtyish dude last night as Paul McCartney — Sir Paul, Macca, the Cute One, the One Who Once Was the Dead One But Now Blessedly Is One of the Two Still Alive — treated a crowd of 1,000 or so to a stellar, stirring "And I Love Her."

McCartney invested this minor standard with wistful vigor and urgency. "Bright are the stars that shine/Dark is the sky" has accumulated significance over 50 years. Young Paul's stately wisp of a song about romantic timelessness has sneaked into the firmament, now as fixed in our lives as stars and sky, but Old Paul's treatment of it sounds far from settled: Savor those new "oooh"s he eases into at the coda.

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