Daptone Records' Saun and Starr Break Out From the Side Stage With 'Look Closer'

Courtesy of Daptone Records
Saun and Starr
If you've seen Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings in concert sometime during the past few years, you've most likely seen the Dappettes snatching a little limelight off on the side. Saun and Starr have been contributing their golden pipes to the band since 2008, but it's only now that they've finally made that twenty-foot walk to center stage — a journey 29 years in the making.

"We had to prove ourselves without compromising ourselves," says Saun, whose full name is Saundra Williams. "And the only way we did it was having this talent in singing and being respectful to people. It's beautiful to know that we came here without compromise and by following our destiny."

That "here" she's referring to is Look Closer, Saun and Starr's debut album, released May 19. This warm, inviting 38-minute set not only gives the people what they want in terms of soulful jams — it's a testament to their sparkling friendship.

"Starr and I are really, really good friends. I love her and there's nobody in this world like her — she's such a special person," says Saun. Starr Duncan Lowe is quick to return the compliment. "And it's an honor and pleasure to share this with my beloved sister Saundra."

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Kaki King 'Paints' With Powerful Chords in 'The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body'

Courtesy of Girlie Action Media
Kaki King
"The guitar becomes a paintbrush," says guitar virtuoso Kaki King about her new live venture, The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body. "I play a note and a film plays, or the color changes and everything's blue, and the effect is so powerful." She's speaking from her home in Brooklyn on a beautifully sunny spring day. The previous night, she performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "playing jazz standards," she says. After more than a dozen years of making classic and classical guitar music, including contributing to Sean Penn's Into the Wild, King is now onto something very different.

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For Shilpa Ray, These Are 'Savage Times' Worth Singing Through

Ebru Yildiz
Shilpa Ray
When Shilpa Ray and her new label, Northern Spy, came up with a mock newspaper titled Savage Times as a promotion for her new record, Last Year's Savage, they created a realistic-looking webzine and printed up a broadsheet to distribute around coffee shops and record stores. Unwittingly, their wheeze created the perfectly titled publication for these savage times, when lust for power and money results in global devastation.

Ray, the onetime Beat the Devil member and Happy Hookers leader, and a longtime New York City denizen who currently lives in Brooklyn, can't escape power and money's reach, though. Money — the lack of it, of course — is the main reason Last Year's Savage took so long to make.

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Public Access TV Disrupt the Definition of a Modern New York City Rock Band

Photo by Nick Sethi
Public Access TV
John Eatherly and his band, Public Access TV, were in California finishing up the final dates of their first U.S. tour when their manager woke them with the news that their East Village home had been destroyed in a gas leak explosion. Since then, Eatherly has been floating between friends' spots, putting the prospects of finding a new home on hold so that his band can focus on releasing their self-titled EP while heading out on the road with London's Palma Violets.

"We're just lucky to be busy, touring, and recording," says Eatherly, taking a breather on a day off in between shows. "It's great; everything feels like it's going really well. That was just a big, terrible thing that happened, but we're just keeping our heads held high and taking it easy on the home front." They just left Philadelphia, and to take advantage of the time before their next gig, in greater-area Detroit, Public Access TV are heading toward Akron, Ohio, where drummer Pete Star's parents reside.

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Remy Banks on Mixtape higher. and World's Fair: 'These Are Your New Jay Zs and Nases'

Photo by Zach Wolfe
Remy Banks
Brooklyn has the hip-hop classicism of Pro Era. Harlem gets the A$AP Mob's region-hopping. Queens' World's Fair can be seen as a compromise between new-school leanings and the pride that comes with New York City's heritage. That's not to say the six-member collective is some sort of unoriginal mishmash. World's Fair's lone album featuring all six members, 2012's Bastards of the Party (no relation to the 2005 gang documentary), features a sense of self-assuredness and general feel of fun. World's Fair may not have blown up to "Goldie" levels or assured everyone they're what New York's been missing — whatever the hell that means nowadays — but they're one of the city's more exciting acts, and definitely one of the most promising.

All hip-hop acts, especially those hailing from New York, have their knocks against them. World's Fair aren't an exception. Their particular hurdle is that they're not like the other collectives. There's no capo, no A$AP Rocky or Joey Bada$$ to easily identify as the face and ambassador of the group. It's a notable element that's missing, but not necessarily a fatal one.

But on May 11, Remy Banks is the star. He's hosting a listening party in the Lower East Side's Elvis Guesthouse for his mixtape higher., due out May 18. Banks, named after his father's favorite drink, Rémy Martin (although he admits he's more of a Hennessy guy), isn't completely in star mode, even though the basement room's green-and-blue spotlight is clearly on him. Recognizable by his wiry frame and the tufts of hair poking out of his Yankees cap, he swings around from the back of the venue to the entrance, passing out daps without prejudice, impishly shooting the shit with some friends and making full use of the bar.

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Matt Pond PA Move on From 'Several Arrows Later' and a Brush With Larceny

Courtesy of Big Hassle Media
Matt Pond PA
Matt Pond just remembered it's Mother's Day, and he nearly forgot to make that sacred phone call. The slip is justified. There's a lot on the mind of the namesake behind the New Hampshire-via-Pennsylvania-via–New York chamber-pop outlet Matt Pond PA. Not only is his band in the final-week stretch of their ten-year anniversary tour supporting their celebrated 2005 album Several Arrows Later, but Matt Pond PA have a bigger issue: They've just been robbed.

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Saul Williams Is Ready to 'Tear the Roof Off' With MartyrLoserKing

Via Saul Williams plays Brooklyn Bowl 5/7/15.
Over the past two years, while living in Paris and traveling abroad in volatile, poverty-stricken countries like Senegal and Haiti, Saul Williams began to see a recurring pattern that proved both troubling and equally inspiring: Everyday citizens, increasingly marginalized by their respective governments and law enforcement, were taking to the streets to make their voices heard.

Even months before a slew of violent run-ins between African-American males and law enforcement made international headlines — most notably in Ferguson, Missouri; New York; South Carolina; and Baltimore — the acclaimed poet, MC, and activist felt compelled to lend his voice to the growing conversation around promoting change.

"The purpose of this project is to lead that angst and that adolescent spirit by pointing that energy in a direction that can help tear the roof off this motherfucker," Williams says of his upcoming album, MartyrLoserKing, out in September. Williams has been at work on MartyrLoserKing for nearly two years. Despite his forward-thinking attitude, Williams can't help but feel a twinge of "heartbreak" at the current injustices he is witnessing. "When I was thirteen, I was out marching in New York City with my parents for the same things as the people today," he says. "I imagined that I was marching at that time so that the next generation would not have to face these things. It's frankly startling."

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Exclusive Premiere: Listen to It Was Romance's 'Philadelphia'

Courtesy of Team Clermont
Lane Moore of It Was Romance does not identify as adorable.

Lane Moore found direction in a fateful, tear-filled bus ride in her then-home of L.A., and it was all thanks to Stevie Nicks.

"This is insane, but she used to talk to me in my head after that happened," says Moore, recalling the impact left over from a show of the witchy superstar's. "I fully believe this is real. No joke. She told me to move to New York." Five years ago, when her imaginary conversations with Stevie took place, California was no longer cutting it for Moore. She heeded the sagacious advice, packed up, and headed east. "When Stevie Nicks tells you to do something, you do it."

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Benjamin Scheuer Takes Autobiographical Musical THE LION On Tour After NYC Success

Photo by Nilaya Sabnis
Benjamin Scheuer
In his intimate and lyrical one-man show, THE LION, musician/playwright Benjamin Scheuer tells the story of his life, the volatile father who taught him to love music, his angsty teen years, the heartbreaks, and his tough battle with cancer (which he won) at 28. He does so using spoken word and song, the stage sparse and set to look like a foyer on the Lower East Side or maybe Williamsburg, with six guitars for him to play, depending on the character. The show is close and real. Ultimately, what character "Ben" learns (and what Scheuer learned in life) is that the thing that matters to him most is family.

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Step Onstage With Anthony D'Amato for a Perfect New York Moment

Photo by Bianca Bourgeois
Anthony D'Amato
[Editor's note: New York–based folk singer-songwriter Anthony D'Amato posted about the perfect "New York" day he had last week on Instagram, and we were intrigued by his impromptu performance alongside Marah and renowned guitarist Lenny Kaye on the night of April 16 — so we asked him to write about it. Below, D'Amato elaborates on a brilliant music moment that could only have happened here.]

Some days New York, it's all hot garbage and stale piss. There's mice living in your stove and (hopefully) dog shit smeared under your shoe, or ankle-deep slush puddles off every curb and a special kind of gusting wind and rain designed specifically to invert umbrellas. But other days, you sit and eat an ice cream cone and watch boats go by as the sun sets on Manhattan, and you can't imagine a more perfect time or place to be alive. The glass faces of the skyscrapers change colors with the reflecting light, and you experience one of those golden New York moments where you can't help but just follow the city wherever it leads you, until the next thing you know, you're onstage performing a song you've never played before — with Lenny Kaye, the celebrated guitarist of the Patti Smith Group and New York musical icon. This happened on April 16, the most New York day I've ever had.

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