James Murphy, Laura Marling and The Shins Play New York
If you want to listen to the music while you read, click here for my Spotify playlist featuring some of the music mentioned in this article.
Wednesday, May 22
Throughout its existence, of Montreal's musical style has morphed from vaudeville and Beatles-influenced psychedelic twee pop to a mixture of electronica, funk, glam and afrobeat music influenced by Prince and David Bowie. Last year they released a collection of B-sides and off-cuts, "Daughter Of A Cloud," and new album "Paralytic Stalks," recorded at bandleader Kevin Barnes’ home studio in Athens, GA. In support, bright indie pop from Houston's Wild Moccasins. At The Music Hall Of Williamsburg.
Thursday, May 23
Drawing from acts as diverse as Ludacris, Britney Spears and Broadcast, oOoOO marries slow and deep hip-hop influenced beats with pop melodies and experimental sounds. In support, the catchy early '80s inspired pop of Brooklyn-based three piece Selebrities. Signed to experimental pop label Cascine, Selebrities were described in Nylon Mag as having, "the same atmospheric vibe of the xx crossed with the stylistic Swedish vibe of The Sounds, and it's old-meets-new in the best way possible." Rounding off the bill, Tennessee's Dark Sister combine bloody theatrics with atmospheric drum machine beats and rhymes into a hot mess they call "riot grrl R & B". At Glasslands.
Friday, May 24
Sage Francis was the first hip-hop artist to sign with the punk-rock label Epitaph. He released three albums there, ultimately returning to his own Strange Famous Records. Francis is also part of the contemporary spoken word movement. A talented rapper and wordsmith, he was part of the Providence Poetry Slam national slam teams from 1998 to 2002. In 2001, his song "Makeshift Patriot," recorded on October 11, 2001, became a hit for its critique of American media during, and immediately following, the September 11 attacks. Kotori Magazine says that Sage Francis “punches political buttons with a dissenting fury unmatched in hip-hop since Chuck D.” At The Knitting Factory.
Saturday, May 25
Although they might describe themselves as "too old to be new and too new to be classic" DFA Records is an iconic musical presence in the contemporary NY scene. Since their beginnings in the East Village underground in 2001, DFA Records has released records for dozens of bands (including LCD Soundsystem and The Rapture), sculpting the disco punk sound that (finally) got indie kids onto the dance floor. Need a deeper recap on the history of the label? Check out this 13 minute documentary on Youtube. Ready to party? In celebration of their 12th anniversary, The Red Bull Music Academy has teamed up with label honchos James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem fame) and Jonathan Galkin to assemble the whole DFA family for the biggest party in the label’s history. On the cards are live performances (Yacht, The Crystal Ark, Planningtorock), DJ sets (including one from James Murphy) and listening sessions in four rooms at Grand Prospect Hall.
Also tonight: Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly first broke through in Australia as a solo artist in 1984 with "Post," a collection of songs infused with the poetry and restless spirit of a man making a new start. "From St. Kilda To Kings Cross," a melancholic single from that album, has become an Oz classic in the same way the Bruce Springsteen's "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" and "Atlantic City" have here in the USA — songs that define the spirit of a place. Over the next three decades, Kelly established himself as one of Australia's finest songwriters and enjoyed a string of acclaimed albums including the 1986 double album with his band The Coloured Girls, "Gossip," 1987's "Under The Sun" (featuring the breakup single "To Her Door") and "So Much Water So Close to Home," 1994's Wanted Man, 2004's "Ways & Means" and, most recently, 2012's "Spring and Fall." "Spring and Fall" arrives after an extended period of retrospective activity, during which Kelly celebrated his extensive body of work with the release of the career-spanning 40-song compilation "Songs From the South" and the eight-CD, 105-song live box set "The A-Z Recordings." At The Highline Ballroom.
Sunday, May 26
The Shins have won many fans worldwide since their catchy and understated 2001 debut "Oh Inverted World." Built around the sublime songwriting skills of singer James Mercer, the Shins broke through internationally with the single "New Slang" and consistent international touring. The Shin's latest album "Port of Morrow" is the first on Mercer's own Aural Apothecary label, and their first studio album since 2007's "Wincing the Night Away." At Williamsburg Park, Brooklyn.
Also tonight: Celebrate the final night of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers run of shows at the Beacon Theatre on the Upper West Side.
Monday, May 27
Influential British DJ and radio presenter Benjamin Benstead - Benji B - created the Deviation club night in London as the physical incarnation of his genre-defying BBC Radio 1 show. Deviation showcases the newest mutations of beats and bass culture, along with classic blueprints of jazz and soul. For this NYC session in partnership with the Red Bull Music Academy, Benji B rubs shoulders with New York’s own rhythm fusionista FaltyDL and Viennese microKORG wizard Dorian Concept, alongside 2013 Music Academy participants Orquesta (Dublin, Ireland) and Somepoe (Oulu, Finland). At the Sullivan Room.
Tuesday, May 28
The youngest of three daughters from Hampshire, England, Laura Marling made her musical breakthrough as a quirky 16-year-old folk singer-songwriter on the British indie scene. Now 23, the husky-voiced Marling is preparing to release her fourth album "Once I Was An Eagle" this week after her previous two albums, 2010's "I Speak Because I Can" and 2011's "A Creature I Don't Know" both entered the UK top 10. At Roulette.