Rihanna, The Breeders and Johnny Marr Play New York
If you want to listen to the music while you read, click here for my Spotify playlist featuring the bands and artists mentioned in this article.
Wednesday, May 1
One musician starts a solo improvisation lasting five minutes. Another musician then joins for five minutes of duo improvisation. After those five minutes, musician #1 leaves the stage and musician #3 joins musician #2 for another five minutes, and so on, for two hours. Featuring the talents of drummer/producer Questlove, singer, speaker and entrepreneur Andrew W.K., clarinetist, saxophonist, composer, arranger and social critic Don Byron, The Contortions' James Chance, Grammy Award–winning saxophone giant Joe Lovano, Sonic Youth singer & bassist Kim Gordon and many others. Part of the Red Bull Music Academy New York, at Brooklyn Masonic Temple, 317 Clermont Avenue, at Lafayette Avenue, Fort Greene.
Thursday, May 2
A happy knack with strong melodies and quirky songs has propelled Oberhofer onwards and upwards since their 2010 debut single "o0o0o0o0o0." Their debut album "Time Capsules II" was recorded by legendary producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, Talking Heads) in Brooklyn and was followed up with a performance at the Coachella Music Festival. Bandleader Brad Oberhofer says, "Music is this thing I just inherently do and psychologically, I have a desire to make as many people happy as possible. Music helps you think about stuff, it helps you feel, you know?" At Glasslands Gallery.
Friday, May 3
At 18, Johnny Marr formed The Smiths with vocalist Morrissey, forever changing the UK musical landscape, marking the end of synth-driven new wave and the beginning of the guitar rock that dominated English rock well into the '90s. By the time The Smiths disbanded in 1987, they’d made four classic albums, none of which entered the UK charts lower than number two. The albums? "The Smiths" (1984), "Meat Is Murder" (1985 UK number one), "The Queen Is Dead" (1986) — a longstanding perennial of classic album polls — (voted the greatest album of the millennium by Melody Maker) and "Strangeways, Here We Come" (1987), Marr’s personal favorite Smiths album. Post The Smiths, Marr's cascading guitar lines have graced recordings by The The and Oasis. He formed Electronic with New Order's Bernard Sumner in 1991 and also contributed to albums by the Pet Shop Boys, Crowded House, Bryan Ferry and The Talking Heads. His most recent album and his solo debut, "The Messenger," was described in English music magazine NME as not "just a summary of everything worthwhile in contemporary rock music, it’s an insightful and informed dissection of life in 2013 and all the futile iOS updates, cyberstalking conglomerates and financial travesties that clog up the spaces between us. In a world claiming to connect us all, it argues, we’re getting more and more dislocated." At Music Hall of Williamsburg tonight and Irving Plaza Thursday night.
Also tonight: Masters At Work - the project of ‘Little’ Louie Vega and Kenny ‘Dope’ Gonzalez — is synonymous with the rise and peak of NYC house music. With remixes being their specialty, the Masters at Work treatment has been given to a diverse roster of artists, from Madonna and Debbie Gibson to Saint Etienne and Michael Jackson, alongside about 800 other artists. They defiantly mix everything they can find — house, hip hop, funk, disco, Latin, African and jazz — into a universal groove. Part of the Red Bull Music Academy New York. Late start, 11 p.m until 4 a.m. Le Bain at the Standard Hotel. Free.
And: Two blues stars from different eras join forces tonight for "An Evening of the Blues" with Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite at Beacon Theatre. They've just collaborated on an acclaimed new album, "Get Up!".
Saturday, May 4
Born in Saint Michael, Barbados, Rihanna made her move to the US at 16, signing a contract with Def Jam Recordings after auditioning for American rapper Jay-Z. Since her 2005 debut album "Music of the Sun," the hits haven't stopped, with her 2012 album "Unapologetic" her first number one album. Expect the hits tonight: "We Found Love,” “Disturbia,” “Umbrella,” “What’s My Name,” and “Only Girl (In the World).” With Harlem's A$AP Rocky in support. At the Barclays Center, also Sunday.
Also tonight: The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club play Terminal 5. Their latest single, a cover of The Call's "Let The Day Begin," is lifted from their seventh album "Specter at the Feast" — their highest charting US album.
Sunday, May 5
2006 Red Bull Music Academy alumni Flying Lotus's (Steven Ellison) singular approach to beat-making has spawned an entire sub-genre of electrified instrumental hip hop, making him one of today's most influential music makers. At Terminal 5.
Also today: Three of David Bowie’s producers, Nile Rodgers (Let's Dance), Tony Visconti (Heroes) and Ken Scott (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars), discuss the albums they worked on. From midday at the Sky Room, New Museum.
Monday, May 6
Kim Deal, bassist with the Pixies, decided to form The Breeders with her pal Tanya Donelly, guitarist of the Throwing Muses, in 1989 while their bands were touring together in Europe. After recruiting bassist Josephine Wiggs (Kim had switched to guitar) they recruited Steve Albini to record their acclaimed 1990 debut album "Pod" which they created in Scotland. In between "Pod's" 1990 release and 1993, Donelly was replaced by Kim's sister Kelley. The new lineup recorded 1993's "Last Splash" in San Francisco and, propelled by the catchy single "Cannonball," the album became an indie classic and led to tours with Nirvana and a prime spot on the 1994 Lollapalooza tour. Tonight's show is in celebration of the 20th anniversary of "Last Splash" and brings together the Breeders line-up who made the album for the first time since their final Lollapalooza performance in September 1994. At Webster Hall.
Tuesday, May 7
Loosely tethered to dubstep, but displaying a strong grasp of songwriting and electronic production, Londoner James Blake’s songs possess uncommon grace and soulfulness. At Terminal 5.