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by Sachyn Mital

16 Nov 2015


There is no shortage of singer-songwriters out there today and it can be hard to pin down a new one to listen to. But I’ve got a tip if you’re looking for one. Check out John Mark Nelson. The young Minnesotan has released his third album I’m Not Afraid on the new GNDWIRE label (started by Dave Simonett of Trampled By Turtles). This was his first proper show in New York City (and the Mercury Lounge crowd was thin) one night after his first show in Philadelphia for World Cafe Live (a video from that show is below). I listened to I’m Not Afraid and found myself repeating a few of the tracks, particularly “A Hundred Orchards”. Nelson possesses a wispy voice reminiscent of Stuart Murdoch’s (of Belle and Sebastian) which is lent additional heft from several of his band mates members, including Steven Bosmans and Kara Laudon. Nelson had spoken to PopMatters a few months back about his track “Dream Last Night”, describing the song as “a driving anthem in response to the realization that nothing is ever as simple as it appears”, and this is a particularly good example of the vocal similarities.

At the Mercury Lounge show, Nelson introduced his expensive florescent lights (“I’m Not Afraid”) indicating he hopes to make back his outlay for them eventually. The show itself went pretty much like how any show would go. Nelson’s dove headlong into mostly new material (including “Orchards” and “Dream”) setting aside some time for friendly banter of course. Nelson tried to give his drummer the nickname “New York” Nate but it didn’t stick despite repeated attempts. At the end of their hour long-ish set, Nelson and his band concluded with a great cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” before he took off from the stage to sign albums at the merch booth. I heard rumors Nelson will have a proper tour in the early Spring, so stayed tuned to his page. In the meantime, stream I’m Not Afraid below.

by Sachyn Mital

13 Nov 2015


After a one-off small show in New York earlier this year, Blur fans were wondering when Albarn and co would be returning to the States. Fortunately, when they did, Blur returned with two massive arena shows, one in Los Angeles and one in New York to really give their fans a taste of The Magic Whip, their well-received 2015 “comeback” album. Blur’s show at Madison Square Garden was their biggest in NYC ever and they brought along Australian upstart Courtney Barnett to open for them, giving her the opportunity to reach her biggest audiences yet. Barnett’s debut Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit will be sure to land in many top 10 album of the year lists and her energy was great on stage as she smashed through choice album cuts like “Depreston” and “Pedestrian at Best”.

by Sachyn Mital

10 Nov 2015


Chris Cornell is a rock icon with an illustrious career. During the first of his two shows at the Beacon Theater in New York, his new home town, Cornell, like every other stop on the tour I imagine, received a standing ovation after nearly every song. The man has a tremendous presence and his musical legacy, with Soundgarden, Audioslave and four solo albums under his belt, has cemented a place for him beyond his original grunge roots. As Radio.com noted, “it seems Chris Cornell has learned to stop worrying and enjoy the fortunate position that he’s in: he’s healthy, he looks as good as he did in the ’90s and sounds even better (at least when he performs).”

by Sachyn Mital

5 Nov 2015


Disclosure‘s new album Caracal isn’t as fun as their debut but their massive sound and awesome lights made for quite a show at Madison Square Garden. While both Disclosure albums, Settle and Caracal feature a lot of big guest names (and the former allowed Sam Smith to break thru to big arenas himself), their MSG show didn’t pull out all stops and surprise with the biggest of names, Smith or The Weeknd though they did have Lion Babe (who also opened) on “Hourglass” and Brendan Reilly on “Moving Mountains” amongst a couple of others. The highlights from the brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence’s set were the soaring “Nocturnal” (even sans The Weeknd) and the older “When a Fire Starts to Burn” with its edgy pulse. Meanwhile “Holding On” (which featured Gregory Porter’s vocal) were reminiscent of a lighter Jazzanova track and it’s dark dub was another treat to hear in the massive arena. Fans were going wild as the general admission floor folks could be seen continual releasing bouts of energy in a dance frenzy.  But Disclosure’s music, as the New York Times noted, “fills rooms, but it doesn’t move bodies in the interesting ways the duo’s early songs did, nor does it stimulate minds. At this lovely but largely tepid show, the brothers mainly performed behind semicircular banks of instruments: Guy, on the left, mostly on drum pads and keyboards; Howard, on the right, occasionally pulling out a bass for a taut, clever line.”

by Sachyn Mital

5 Nov 2015


The trio, John Stanier, Ian Williams and Dave Konopka, form Battles, who recently wrapped up the US leg of a world tour in support of their third album, La Di Da Di with a hometown show at Webster Hall in New York City. Brooklyn’s Xenia Rubinos built up the experimental vibe in the opening slot but it was Battles that really proved visionary with their repetitive melodic structures and blockbuster bass lines. Their broad sonic collage drew from all their albums and meshed seamlessly into an awe-inspiring aurally destructive show that proves their music is a force unto itself.

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Violin Virtuoso L. Subramaniam Mesmerizes in Rare New York Performance (Photos)

// Notes from the Road

"Co-presented by the World Music Institute, the 92Y hosted a rare and mesmerizing performance from India's violin virtuoso L. Subramaniam.

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