Harlem played a TON of shows in their native Austin during SXSW but I never caught them due to my over-packed schedule. So ironically I catch the oddly named band in NY at an early show. I was surprised the show sold out at 7:30, but then again they have been generating a lot of buzz for their energetic live shows and self issued album Free Drugs. They played a fun set of surf punk and the trio switched instruments mid set. Although I wasn’t blown away from their live show, they are still very young and finding their sound.
For a monday night, Chris Pureka drew a pretty good crowd to Brooklyn. I was so impressed with her performance at SXSW of new material and I was very eager to hear it again. Her 3rd studio album How I Learned To See in the Dark is more bold and lyrically rich and needs the support a backing band to show off its genius. “Wrecking Ball”, the opening track is a perfect beginning to her deeper and spatial album. I won’t say that the record is a departure but rather an exploration of broader musical themes and bigger abstract compositions. Tonight she was very relaxed and even happy onstage and ultimately played the best set I’ve ever seen her perform. For someone that relies solely on her exuberant fan base and relentless touring she is the embodiment of what “independent” music should be. Her new album gets better with every listen and so far the best of the year for me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you gotta see her live. Pick up the new one and support this super talented musician.
It’s been a while since the boys from Denton Texas made their way back to New York. This time they had less keyboards and more guitars onstage which helped bring out all the subtle flourishes in their songs. Supporting their new album The Courage Of Others, which is quite good despite what pitchfork says (which is why you should never read their reviews). The band was very quiet on stage which helped them concentrate on the intricate melodies. Balancing new and old songs, at times the set got a bit “jammy” which only worked for the intro to quite possibly the best recent indie song ever, “Roscoe.” Although the new stuff isn’t as strong as albums past, it’s hard not to notice that the band is exploring new styles of instrumentation which is expected from a band like Midlake. Playing almost 90 minutes, I enjoyed the variety of the new material and hope they don’t take another 3 years to come back.
Missed the Los Angeles band Best Coast at SXSW, so I was glad to catch them tonight. Very fuzzy surf rock that’s perfect for the summer time. Not surprising that Ali Koehle of the Vivian Girls made a cameo appearance on the drums.
Japandroids are just coming back from a flurry of shows at SXSW and brought their frenetic energy up to New York. Sometimes its hard to believe that only 2 guys on stage can do so much with sound. Although I felt their CMJ show had more punch and a better crowd, it’s hard not to enjoy a night of hyper post punk rock. And as my first show back from Austin, it was very good to be back “home” at Bowery Ballroom.