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Thursday, Feb 27, 2014
As guitarist and singer Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni explained sagely, Tinariwen's music has a global message.

In the midst of an extensive New York winter, Tinariwen stopped through New York to promote their new album Emmaar (“heat of the breeze”). The falling snow isn’t something the Malian band is used to out in the Saharan desert. But unfortunately, their country is in disarray given that attempts to create a separate or autonomous area in Azawad as a home for the Tuareg people have resulted in an extremist Islamic presence escalating conflicts with the Malian government. Tinariwen was thus persuaded to record Emmaar in a different desert, California’s Joshua Tree.


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Monday, Feb 24, 2014
The ability to blend classic influences into new sonic flavors is one of Nelson’s strongest attributes and was evident throughout the night.

Guitarist Lukas Nelson calls his band the Promise of the Real (P.O.T.R.) and the name is fitting because the group is legit. There’s a general tendency to be somewhat skeptical of children of celebrities who choose to follow in their parents footsteps. But Nelson, son of country music legend Willie Nelson, is well on his way to carving out his own niche as one of the more gifted rock ‘n’ rollers of his generation.


The band’s first two albums established Lukas as a talented songwriter and the band as a sonic force, combining various classic rock influences with a little bit of cosmic cowboy country twang. Nelson is an ace guitarist and the band is a powerful live act, which is what separates the contenders from the pretenders. Nelson has also been racking up extra credit points by collaborating with various musical elders, such as sitting in with Phil Lesh, Bob Weir and company at the Los Angeles Greek Theater on Furthur’s fall 2012 tour. This followed a tour opening for John Fogerty.


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Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014
Emily Kinney, Beth Greene in AMC's The Walking Dead, is also a talented singer-songwriter with two charming EPs under her belt.

Just about six months ago, I learned that Norman Reedus, the actor who plays Daryl Dixon on AMC’s The Walking Dead, was also a photographer when he was the host of a Canon camera event. It wasn’t long after that I learned that one of his co-stars, Emily Kinney, who plays Beth Greene, is a singer-songwriter who also calls NYC home. Kinney, as Greene, gained exposure as a singer when she performed “The Parting Glass” on the show with Lauren Cohen, her on-screen sister Maggie. Towards the end of 2013, she released her second EP Expired Lover, the follow-up to 2011’s Blue Toothbrush—from which she pulled many of her songs for her pre-Valentine’s Day show at Rockwood Music Hall.


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Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014
At Sam Roberts Band sold out show, on the same day their new album Lo-Fantasy saw its release, people already knew the words to the new songs.

Heaven’s Jail (a band name I’m not too fond of) sounded pretty good as they opened for Sam Roberts Band but unfortunately the trio didn’t have much of an audience to witness them. As the fact the show was sold out might indicate, the crowd really was at the Mercury Lounge to see Canadian singer-songwriter Sam Roberts and his eponymous band perform. It was a special evening given the band’s latest album, the critically well-received Lo-Fantasy, was released that day. As Roberts announced, the band would celebrate by performing the entire 11-track album straight through, and return for an encore of a few earlier hits. Lo-Fantasy is a melodic, rock album that redefines Roberts sound with the addition of sinewy and gauzy club vibes that gives listeners more reasons to dance than to head-bang.


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Monday, Jan 6, 2014
Phosphorescent, led by Brooklyn transplant Matthew Houck, capped off a strong year with four sold out shows at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.

Matthew Houck released his album Muchacho through his band Phosphorescent in 2013 to strong praise. And to close out the year, he decided to celebrate with four shows in his borough. All four, one solo and three with a full-band, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg had sold out one after another. Julianna Barwick was recruited later on to be the opener. Poised behind her keyboards on the darkened stage, Barwick’s ethereal soundscapes enveloped people as they entered. Then after a stage change in which multitudes of flowers, electric tealights and incense sticks garnished the stage, Phosphorescent was ready to perform.


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