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by Christian John Wikane

19 Apr 2010


Power to the androids!  Self-proclaimed “thrival” Janelle Monáe recently descended upon New York City to preview The Arch Android, her forthcoming follow-up to 2008’s Metropolis Suite I: The Chase, which updates the story of Cindi Mayweather (Android #57821) and her adventures in Metropolis.

At Joe’s Pub, Janelle Monáe possessed even more drive and confidence than her 2008 debut appearances. Her typically epic opening medley was capped off with “Locked Inside”, which wafted over the audience like a salted sea breeze. It’s destined to be the “summer song” of 2010. If Monáe’s performances of “Cold War” and “Tight Rope” were any indication, The Arch Android might even surpass its predecessor as the mirror to Monáe’s genius. With a wink towards James Brown’s histrionics, Monáe knelt on the stage floor with a cape and stirred the audience to a frenzy on the latter tune. Call her The Godmother of Android Funk.

by Maria Schurr

16 Apr 2010


Girl in a Coma had the distinct honor of opening for indie-rock powerhouse The Wedding Present at the Bowery Ballroom last Saturday. If the preceding sentence just provoked thoughts of a bunch of indie sad-sacks, it’s understandable. After all, their name references a Smiths song, they were playing a Lower East Side landmark and opening for one of indie’s forefathers. Girl in a Coma surely consists of four prematurely balding but bearded young men who together have amassed the greatest sweater collection in the world, right?

by Mehan Jayasuriya

16 Apr 2010


Two things are all but guaranteed at a Xiu Xiu show: frontman Jamie Stewart will turn in an impassioned, harrowing performance and at least some portion of the audience will flee as a result. The band might not clear out a room quite like it used to—at this point, most folks seem to know what to expect—but Stewart’s performances are still as unflinchingly distressing as they ever were. Luckily, the music helps the confrontation go down a bit easier, pegging pixilated melodies and driving rhythms to Stewart’s narratives of violence and exploitation. In their latest incarnation as a two-piece (Stewart and multi-instrumentalist Angela Seo), Xiu Xiu proved that they’re still capable of making plenty of noise, employing guitars, live percussion, electronic instrumentation, various toy whistles and the Hello Kitty-clad Nintendo DS that features so heavily on their latest full-length, Dear God, I Hate Myself.

As good as Xiu Xiu were, opener Tune-Yards, a.k.a. Merrill Garbus, just might have stolen the show with her whimsical pop collages. Building loops on the fly from drum hits, ukulele strums, vocal chants and other spontaneous noises, Garbus proved to be a skillful and charismatic performer who had little trouble winning over the sold out crowd. While her loop station skills recall Andrew Bird’s, her sound is more global in its reach, incorporating bits of indie-pop, hip-hop, West African guitar-pop and various traditional musics. And while she employed a bassist on a handful of songs, she carried the majority of them all by herself—a fact that made Xiu Xiu’s two-person lineup look downright excessive.

by Vijith Assar

13 Apr 2010


Having grown up in refugee camps buried in the deeper Saharan parts of Mali and then come of age during a rebellious uprising by their fellow Toureg tribesmen in the 90’s, Tinariwen could have hard-knock street cred by the bushel—if they had any use for such things. They don’t. Instead their songs are excellent, joyous extended jams with one chord (and it’s a major chord, natch) and what I’d bet would prove to be soaring celebratory vocals, if I could understand them. It’s quite unfortunate that they get filed away, and often subsequently ignored as “world music”; the flavors are West African enough, plucked strings and hand drums and so on, but the mission is solidly rock ‘n’ roll, with guitars and most everything else turned up as loud as they’ll go. (To be fair to the pigeonholers, the African garb and outlandish headdresses are a pretty substantial red herring on this front.)

by Vijith Assar

12 Apr 2010


A disgusting mid-March torrential downpour pushed me back to an 8:11 arrival for Zakir Hussain‘s 8 PM show at the Rose Theatre at Jazz at Lincoln Center.  I was greeted by a guarded door, a closed-circuit TV monitoring the performance inside, and the typical theater promise that we’d be escorted inside by ushers as soon as there was an acceptable break in the performance. The problem with this is that, given the North Indian classical program, when you add up the introductory alap of the raga and the long-form virtuoso freak-out solo that follows, you often end up with a 45-minute piece. This quite distressed an elderly Indian woman who ended up stranded outside the theater with me. My distraught friend’s laments convinced them to let us in earlier than planned, thankfully, at which point we were loudly scolded, mid-performance, by Zakir while rooting around for empty seats. It wasn’t the shout out one usually hopes for.

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