Posts Tagged 'Inlets'

End of the year best, round one: Shows

I’m starting with this list because it is perhaps the easiest to compile. More to come.

There are 19 here. Deal with it. They’re also in descending order, for dramatic effect.
(The asterisks link to the appropriate show review.)

19. Warpaint – Music Hall of Williamsburg, December 2nd *
This was another surprise. Though I had heard the name Warpaint thrown around for a few months, I knew little about them going into the show, but they had me bewitched with their alternating vocals and mesmerizing minimalism.

18. Seabear – Mercury Lounge, March 25th *
I really can’t get enough of these quaint Icelandic bands, homespun sweaters and all. The harmonies and the impressive range of instruments in this large band leave me with an extra spring in my step. I want to get inducted into their family. You don’t think they’d notice if I joined in, do you? Maybe I could play the tambourine… or just pretend to sing.

Seabear (Photo Thomas Helbig)

17. Land of Talk – Bowery Ballroom, November 6th *
I really loved this album – the lyrics especially, so seeing Land of Talk this past November was a real treat.

16. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and the Cairo Gang, The Babblers – Town Hall, December 8th *
Surprisingly, this was my first time seeing B’P’B. It was a long time coming. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening, however, was The Babblers – yet another of Will Oldham’s special projects, featuring the irresistible Angel Olsen on vox.

15. tUnE-yArDs – The Bell House, February 5th *
With her wild gaze and tribal-influenced songs, Merril Garbus is a force to behold. From what I heard, she stole the show from the Dirty Projectors when she opened for them. Somehow, that doesn’t at all surprise me.

tUnE-yArDs (Photo Jessica Amaya)

14. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – Mercury Lounge, October 14th * (an interview with Owen)
I’ve seen Owen more times than nearly everyone else (3 or 4 times this year alone), and every time is a treat. This show was an extra treat because it was one of his last performances as CFTPA… ever! (I also attended his last NY show the next night, but the Brooklyn Masonic Temple was not the right environment, and too many people were there to see the other bands on the bill – ahem, Dan Deacon and Lightning Bolt). What a sweet man. I look forward to hearing his next musical project.

13. Scout Niblett and Holy Sons – The Mercury Lounge, October 6th *
After the disastrous Cat Power-esque performance in 2007, I’m certainly glad I gave you another chance, Scout (aka Emma). I love how raw her voice is and how she effortlessly shifts in tone from the sweet, innocent girl to the big bad wolf. Though I had never heard of them prior to the show, Holy Sons wowed me so much that I left with two albums.

Scout Niblett (Ian Crowther)

12. Lost in the Trees – The Mercury Lounge, August 23rd *
These guys from North Carolina are every bit as mesmerizing now as when I first saw them in 2008. Their moody orchestral arrangements and haunting lyrics make me shiver every time.

11. The Blow – Glasslands Gallery,  May 13th *
Oh, Khaela. Your banter about the lost album with the unnamed starlet (Lindsey Lohan) may not be true, but it makes for quite an entertaining schtick. I love her beautiful, awkward stage presence and the candidness of her songs.

The Blow (Photo Devyn Manibo)

10. Beirut – Music Hall of Williamsburg, July 5th *
The man has French horn tattoos. Enough said.

9. Belle & Sebastian – The Williamsburg Waterfront, September 20th *
This was perhaps my most anticipated show of the year. I’ve spent countless hours listening to Belle & Sebastian. They were just one of those formative bands for me. Too bad it took me like 6 years to actually see them. The show was good, and the band was charming. Sadly, it just never could have lived up to my expectations.

Belle & Sebastian (Photo Amanda Hatfield)

8. CocoRosie – Music Hall of Williamsburg, September 15th *
This was kind of the wild card of the year. I wasn’t sure if I’d want to storm out of the room or take the sisters home with me. The latter was more accurate. I was pretty much speechless by the end of the night.

7. Andrew Bird – The Guggenheim, August 5th *
Andrew Bird… at the Guggenheim. The set-up alone is drool-worthy. Then there was the ‘forest floor of horns’ and the multi-level rotunda, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Andrew Bird (Photo Macey Foronda)

6. The National – Radio City Music Hall – June 16th *
I’d say I preferred their show at the Bell House or BAM earlier in the year (whoa, I saw them 4 times)… except for the fact that this was the show when Matt Berninger left the stage, climbed over the seats in my aisle, and landed in mine. The feeling of his hand on my shoulder as he steadied himself and the knowledge that I could have easily reached across the three-inch divide and caressed his cheek, are almost too much to handle.

5. DM Stith + Silje Nes + Inlets – Littlefield, June 13th *
Again, a fantastic line-up and a small, intimate show (with seats!). This was my first encounter with the Norwegian beauty Silje Nes, and I hope to see her many more times. And David Michael, might we go on a picnic sometime?

4. Laura Marling – Le Poisson Rouge, February 12th *
I love this girl… even if her songs strongly suggest that she doesn’t believe in the emotion. She is miles in front of her British contemporaries (Noah and the Whale, Fanfarlo, Mumford and Sons). Laura, I foolishly invite you to ditch Marcus and trample on my heart instead.

Laura Marling (Photo kDamo)

3. Efterklang + Sam Amidon + Daniel Bjarnason – Le Poisson Rouge, March 3rd *
I loved each of these acts individually. Together, they made for one of the most memorable shows of the year. What a talented array of musicians. Even though shows at LPR can be a bummer due to the pesky 2-item minimum at tables, I’d gladly hulk in the corner for you any day, Sam.

2. Atlas Sound – The Bell House, February 3rd *
Remember when the Bell House consistently hosted great musicians? I really hope these winter shows become an annual tradition as Bradford hinted a couple of weeks ago. I love Deerhunter, but I feel like Bradford would be dead without Atlas Sound to channel his surfeit of creative energy. Wonderful, heartfelt show – a nice contrast to the cold, dark February night.

1. Sufjan Stevens + DM Stith – Beacon Theatre, November 14th *
How could this not be the best show of the year? One minute I was dancing and laughing with glee and a few songs later, I was silently sobbing. Simply amazing.

Sufjan and his ladies (Photo Tammy Lo)


A lovely evening at Littlefield

DM Stith + Inlets + Silje Nes – Littlefield – June 13

Oh man. I cannot say enough good things about this show. Fantastic line-up, beautiful and haunting melodies, and a touch of Scandinavian charm.

DM Stith (Photo Tom Caps)

Though my decision to attend the show was based on my love for DM Stith’s music, I was also completely taken by the opener Silje Nes.

Take a listen to her song “Drown.”

Kind of like a Scandinavian Grouper, yeah?

the beautiful (and delightfully Norwegian) Silje Nes

If you missed the NYC shows at 92Y Tribeca and Littlefield, you’re in luck. The whole line-up will be back at Joe’s Pub on July 21st following their tour. I’m already making plans to attend.

I wrote a full review of the show on Brooklyn Vegan (here), so be sure to check that out.

Union Hall now hosts house parties, apparently*

Inlets + Sparrow House + A Weather – Union Hall – April 23

In a strange turn of events, the band I was most familiar with at Friday night’s show was the first opener, A Weather. I fell in love with Cove, their debut album back when I drove in the spring of 2008. That CD didn’t leave my car’s stereo for a couple of months. Portland’s A Weather makes  sweet bedroom pop that is neither overly cute nor annoyingly upbeat. The vocals during the show were a bit low in the mix, but generally speaking, singers Aaron Gerber and Sarah Winchester compliment each other wonderfully.

A Weather

Their music is straight-forward. You’ve got a guitar, bass, and drum kit. Nothing more, nothing less. But the simplicity is refreshing and lovely, and it really gives the vocals a chance to shine. (1) For the most part, they stuck to songs from their new album, Everyday Balloons, but they also played “Spiders, Snakes” from Cove.

As the small, underground room filled up, the din from the crowd got more and more distracting. Union Hall is an official bar and concert venue, but on Friday night, it felt more like I was attending a house show. Since the evening was celebrating the record release day for Inlets’ Sebastian Krueger asked some friends of his who were not on the bill to play a few songs between sets.

I hadn’t thought I knew a thing about the second opener, Sparrow House, but before the show even started, I saw front man Jared Van Fleet hanging out in the lounge area, and he struck me as vaguely familiar. I often play the guess-which-people-in-the-audience-are-in-one-of-the-bands game, but for whatever reason, that possibility didn’t even cross my mind. I was too busy trying to place him in some other scenario. A party maybe? Friend of a friend? Then he walked on stage. But as it turns out, I was more familiar with Sparrow House as I had thought. Scrolling through my i Tunes, I realized that I had two songs from an early EP, and each had a timestamp of 2008 for the last play date. Crazy. (Apparently, Jared Van Fleet is also the guitarist/keyboardist in Voxtrot.)

Jared Van Fleet of Sparrow House (Photo Emily Daniels)

It’s a shame that the room was so loud. It was so difficult to hear Sparrow House, that I have little to write about in the way of a review. From what I heard of it (and the sound guy did eventually turn up the mic), Jared had a lovely voice. It just wasn’t suited to the rowdy environment. At one point during the set, the girl behind me turned to her friend and said, Wow this is the beautiful kind of song you put at the end of an album. Not something you play on a Friday night. And that’s pretty much how it went. Jared struggled to be heard over the din and eventually invited a friend to join him on bass. After a curt signal from the tech guy, Jared played a ‘short one’ and turned the stage over to another one of Sebastian’s friends.

When Inlets walked onto the stage, Sebastian had the foresight to tell everyone to ‘shut up,’ which helped quiet the crowd to some extent. Early in the set, they launched into “In Which I, Robert,” one of the more upbeat songs in their catalog. Thanks in large part to its emphasis  on mesmerizing woodwind melodies, Inlets’ long-awaited debut album Inter Arbiter is atmospheric, rich, and a bit spooky. Sebastian has a distinctive voice that is reminiscent of Zac Pennington’s (of Parenthetical Girls). This is definitely an artist that will be worth keeping track of.   I just hope that next time, he invites all his mellow friends. (2)

Sebastian Krueger of Inlets

Be sure to check out the Take-Away show Inlets did a while back. Below is half of that show, “Roots and Sidewalks,” performed in a park outside of Manhattan.

*Ok. So not really.

(1) Apparently, Aaron and Sarah are dating, which could explain the natural chemistry between their voices.

(2) That said, I did turn around at one point to find Beirut’s Zach Condon standing about a foot away, so no complaints there.

"He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends."

- Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being