If we had to pick one emoticon to describe Kid Congo Powers’ attitude about his own three decades-long career, we’d go with the shruggy guy (i.e.¯\_(ツ)_/¯). He’s surprisingly humble and when he speaks about the past, it’s with what we imagine was the same wide-eyed amazement he had way back when The Cramps asked him to come on board. By some estimations, Kid Congo’s been a part of at least 420 bands over his three decades-long career, including legendary acts like The Cramps, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and this writer’s personal favorite, The Gun Club, of which Powers was a founding member.
Well, we can’t say we didn’t see this one coming. Having just opened MP Taverna on Driggs and North 10th Streets (pretty much ground zero for Williamsburg’s shiny new condos) chef and restauranteur Michael Psilakis is now getting into the business of venues. What better way to connect to the neighborhood and a now nearly mythologized North Brooklyn cultural movement and indie rock scene? The Hall, a new music venue that boasts a mission to “put the focus back on supporting local arts, musicians, creatives, students and neighborhood residents,” won’t officially open till later this month. But we attended a preview event last night to see what we’re in for.
Due to some scheduling snafus, I was able to keep coming back to Throw Vision‘s music again and again before we finally met in-person this past weekend. And to my surprise, it only became harder to pin down one label for their music, because my reactions kept multiplying. At once it’s dark stuff and, as they themselves admit, a little moody, but also bright, airy, and ambient. That’s because Throw Vision is the average of four people with very different musical tastes and abilities. And the result isn’t any one thing, but rather a complex arrangement of things.
See boy-girl indie pop due from Brooklyn. Yes, you may be thinking, yes, I’ve been here before. But Laura & Greg, despite what might seem like a dry-as-bones band name, make some really fresh tunes. And their new album, Forever For Sure has arrived just in time for the sweltering summer, a time when sweet, minimal jangles that float light as a feather are not only in order, but a necessary respite from the darkness we’ve been treating our ears to the rest of the year. Sweet as they may be, the pair definitely, thankfully doesn’t qualify as twee. Rather, they’ve got serious style, thanks to Greg’s visual art background, and it’s as apparent as ever in their new music video for the album’s title track which, don’t forget, you’re seeing here first.
Eric Sosa and Michael Zuco are partners in life and now they’re about to be partners in business as well. The couple, who recently got engaged, decided to hold off their wedding in lieu of opening up a new bar on Bed-Stuy’s bustling Franklin Avenue. “We’re going to a give it a year so we can get this place on its feet,” Sosa explained. When it opens in a couple of weeks, C’mon Everybody will join a gaggle of new restaurants and bars along the Franklin Avenue strip south of DeKalb. But Sosa and Zuco are offering more than just booze and the possibility of good times. C’mon Everybody will be one of the few places in the area with a space dedicated to live music. “We’re going back to that sort of underground New York nightlife scene in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s,” Zuco explained. “We’re all really influenced by that era, and the decor reflects that without being too kitschy or over the top.”
In a matter of a few years, Jon Fine, formerly of the band Bitch Magnet, went from an indie rock lifer cavorting from Williamsburg warehouse party to coke-soaked dive bar and barely making enough to make rock bottom rent on his train-side apartment to contributing on air to CNBC and writing columns for BusinessWeek. Clearly, those were different days– that same Williamsburg apartment would cost a small fortune to rent now and Fine suffers from permanent hearing loss, though he’s happily married and is the author of a new book Your Band Sucks. Fine’s memoir traces his rise to indie fame as the guitar player for Bitch Magnet to ultimately, what he calls, “the failed revolution.”
You probably remember Awkwafina best from “NYC Bitche$” in which the pint-sized Queens-native (no, she’s not from Flushing) raps, “Bitches be in Bushwick, they all live in Bushwick, they all love Bushwick, but I say fuck that shit,” and wreaks havoc on iPad-wielding bros by the Bedford stop. Her video wasn’t exactly a reaction to Catey Shaw’s notoriously tone-deaf North Brooklyn bubble video, “Brooklyn Girls” (“NYC Bitche$” was actually released before Shaw’s much-maligned video bombed) but it certainly stands as the opposition. But Awkwafina is seeking to further solidify her New York City street cred with a new project.
Alt Citizen has been doing their thing since 2012– the music blog’s bread-and-butter is album reviews (past and present), essays, show recommendations (mostly local Brooklyn stuff), and interviews with bands from all over. Last year, they expanded to a pocket-sized zine, of which three issues have dropped. “When you do a blog for years you start to go crazy not having a tangible thing to show people in terms of what you’re working on, so the zine naturally came out of that,” editor-in-chief and founder Nasa Hadizadeh admitted. The same impetus was behind Alt Space, a brand new storefront and gallery Alt Citizen is opening in Bushwick next week.
Don’t judge us for this, but we’re kind of still recovering from New York’s Alright. Having engaged in more than our fair share of jostling and mayhem, we’re taking this week to mend our bruises and douse our wounds in extra-strength liquor. R&R calls for a brief break from sonic masochism so this week we’re feeling dancey stuff, psych, and dare we say even a little bit of pop. Thankfully lineups around town reflect this inclination, take advantage of it while you can.
John Eatherly has been doing the music thing for a while, having dropped out of high school at 17 to pursue music. “I’ve played in a lot of different bands over the years,” he explained. But Public Access TV seems to be his most focused effort to date. The band has just dropped their first proper release in the United States, Public Access EP on Terrible Records, and Eatherly’s not just songwriting, he’s also spotlighted as the lead vocals and guitars. The fact that Public Access TV really sees Eatherly coming into his own probably has something to do with the fact that he’s supremely close with all the other band members. In fact, three of four members (all except for the drummer) lived together in an East Village apartment. New York’s always been somewhat tough, Eatherly admits, but when their apartment burned down in the East Village fire last month, he realized things could always be harder.
Everyone knows the quickest way to turn your lame tech-bro pad from drab to authentic cool is to fill it with a bunch of vinyl. Just, please, if you’re going to do that at least take the records outside of their plastic casing and rough them up a bit so it looks like you actually listen to them. Oh, and hot tip: make sure you actually have a record player, too — extra points for knowing how to turn it on.
Week in Live Music: Last Punk Bits Before the Big Fest and Thank Heavens For Indie That’s… Different
Welcome to another end of the work week. You’re probably busy eyes-locked on the clock counting down the seconds until you can sprint out the door, straight into the nearest bodega, and pop the cap off your brown bag to bliss. Too busy to look for what the hell you’re gonna do with your ears tonight. Lucky for you we have a few stellar options lined up for tonight and beyond. We have a tiny dose of punk for you, but we’re holding the Big Gulp until next week, so get ready. In the meantime, step outside of the only genre that matters for a few minutes and you know, expand your mind.