Its First Wild Promise: January Roundup

The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world. –F. Scott Fitzgerald

Well hey, New York. Here we are, about a month in. Winter Storm Jonas gave me an excuse to curl up in my 9:30 Club sweatshirt (miss you, DC) and go through photos from a series of dance-away-those-winter-blues shows. I’ll share these pics & tunes with you over the next few posts. Let’s start with some Alabama soul from St. Paul & The Broken Bones and rootsy rock from Banditos.

St. Paul & The Broken Bones

“For all y’all in the front row, I’m sorry. It’s gonna be like Sea World–” Paul Janeway warned on the second of two sold-out evenings in New York (the first at Carnegie Hall, the second at Bowery Ballroom). We loved every bit of it, sweat and all. Continue reading “Its First Wild Promise: January Roundup”

First the Whisper: Anthony D’Amato


He’s shared bills with Josh Ritter, Justin Townes Earle, Rhett Miller, and Joe Pug. His songs are heartsore yet sure-footed, grounded in classic folk but modern in their buoyant rhythms and electric streaks. His name is Anthony D’Amato and his latest album, The Shipwreck From the Shore (New West), feels tailor-made for the season as we wend our way toward an idea of home.

“Good and Ready” gives off a crackling warmth as D’Amato sings sweetly on variations of doom, describing all the ways in which perishing would be preferable to waking up if it ain’t next to you. The album is fleshed out by the contributions of Bon Iver’s Matt McCaughan on drums, Megafaun’s Brad Cook on bass, and Sam Kassirer, of Josh Ritter’s band, on keyboard. (Kassirer also produced the album.)

Continue reading “First the Whisper: Anthony D’Amato”

Kate Boy: Rx for December Doldrums

As winter overtakes us, Kate Boy’s electro-pop shines through the long nights. The Stockholm-based duo makes delectably slinky, synth-heavy songs with glossy melodies and anthemic choruses.

KB2As winter overtakes us, Kate Boy‘s electro-pop shines through the long nights. The Stockholm-based duo makes delectably slinky, synth-heavy songs with glossy melodies and anthemic choruses. I caught them on their year-end east coast swing for the release of debut album One (IAMSOUND Records). The cozy Rock & Roll Hotel was a modest setting for the cinematic energy of Kate Akhurst, who danced back and forth across stage, grasping hands with the ebullient crowd.

Continue reading “Kate Boy: Rx for December Doldrums”

A Lil’ Preview of Vandaveer’s New Album

I’ve been smitten with Vandaveer for a long while now, and I can’t wait for you all to hear the new album, The Wild Mercury. Here’s an amuse-bouche to whet your appetite before the February release.

It’s a rainy day here in DC. I like how clean the world feels after a sky-washing. I like how some songs feel the way the world looks right now, with raindrops clinging to eaves and branches, suspended between air and earth. Holding patterns of precipitate.

I’ve been smitten with Vandaveer for a long while now, and I can’t wait for you all to hear the new album, The Wild Mercury. Here’s an amuse-bouche to whet your appetite before the February release.

This is a time of transition for me, and I’m old enough to know that whether I stay or go, there is no constant to the “here,” and no return to what was “there.” No blank slates. Only new stories written over old, new structures built after old ones are demolished — only change, only the mercurial.

But the thing about good music is that it feels like a home and a friend that you can take with you, no matter where you go.

So thank you, Vandaveer, for making music and for giving us something to look forward to in the new year. xoxo

Flock of Dimes + EL VY at the 9:30 Club

Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods. Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt. But there’s music in us.

It feels wrong to post anything today, mere days after the attacks in Paris and Beirut, without noting the violent ends to which extremists will go and the myriad ways in which we respond. Many of us treat music as a safe haven and a bridge between beliefs and borders. Surely the events must touch a particular nerve in musicians and music lovers familiar with Le Bataclan, one of the sites of Friday’s violence. So I’ll open with this video from yesterday of a man who towed his grand piano behind his bike, parked it outside Bataclan, and performed John Lennon’s “Imagine.” And I’ll direct you to this poem by Jack Gilbert, who fiercely insists that “there will be music despite everything” — despite the sorrow, despite the slaughter.

Flock of Dimes


As one-half of Wye Oak, Jenn Wasner has created brash, folk-tinged rock alongside drummer & keyboardist Andy Stack. The Baltimore native has since ventured out with solo work under the moniker Flock of Dimes. Though the full album has yet to be released, Wasner is road-testing the songs as she tours with EL VY (more later on the side project of The National’s frontman). If the Flock of Dimes songs we heard on Wednesday night represent almost-but-not-quite-finished products, then we’ve got some true sonic candy to savor in the months ahead. These are majestic, effects-drenched pieces — so full-bodied that you wouldn’t guess they’re the product of a single performer.

For most of the opening set, Wasner was half-hidden behind an array of keys, dials, and guitars — but there’s no hiding that voice with its shimmering energy, like a dream that visits by night and haunts through the day.

Continue reading “Flock of Dimes + EL VY at the 9:30 Club”