Sunday, February 28, 2016

Ty Segall & the Muggers at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Sloppo
Ty Segall sang and played guitar part-time in several underground bands in Orange County and the San Francisco Bay Area of California before beginning a solo career in 2008. Since then, he has recorded eight solo albums, plus at least eight albums with a half dozen bands he fronts. Presently, Segall is leading a new project, Ty Segall & the Muggers, consisting of Segall with Kyle "King Tuff" Thomas (guitar), Emmett Kelly (guitar), long-time colleague Mikal Cronin (bass, sax), and Wand's Cory Hanson (keyboards, guitar) and Evan Burrows (drums). During live performances with this band, Segall adopts the name of Sloppo while wearing a baby mask. Ty Segall & the Muggers' debut Emotional Mugger album was released on January 22, 2016.

At Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom tonight, Ty Segall & the Muggers played almost the entirety of its debut album, complete with Segall frequently donning the oversized baby head while he sang. For those able to listen between the lines, Segall seemed to be politicking a social commentary, something about populations getting hooked on instant gratification. The baby head he embodied appeared to be symbolic of urgent demand. While the audience was struggling to sort out the story line, the Muggers delivered Segall's trademark raucous, loose, abrasive and sometimes odd music, almost without taking a breath between songs. Barely playing guitar with this band, Segall was all over the stage, contorting to the band's off-kilter and thunderous music. Once the new album was performed, Segall and company raided his catalogue for a more familiar series of songs that began with "Thank God for Sinners" and ended with an extended version of "The Singer." With inspirations ranging from lo-fi garage rock to indie psychedelic rock and raging alt rock, the attraction sometimes seemed to be how bizarre and experimental Segall and his loud and rocking music could get. In that regard, Segall never fails to succeed.

Visit Ty Segall at www.ty-segall.com.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Roger Creager at Hill Country Barbecue + Market

Roger Creager aspired to become a country music singer since he was a six year old pianist living outside Corpus Christi, Texas. At 14 years of age he learned to play guitar while in a van on a four-hour church trip; a fellow passenger taught him to play gospel songs, and eventually they performed them together in church. Later, Creager earned degrees in business and agriculture, but outlaw music was his calling. Creager currently lives in Katy, Texas. His seventh and most recent album is 2014's Road Show.

Creager brought a little bit of Texas to Hill Country Barbecue + Market tonight. Creager sang with a strong, thoroughly masculine voice, and the songs rocked energetically. The band filled out the songs with organ runs and guitar leads, and occasionally an accordion or fiddle gave the songs a country flourish. Given that reoccurring Texas twist, the overall set leaned towards the sounds of Jerry Jeff Walker and the Tex Mex blend of Doug Sahm. Otherwise, the songs could have easily fallen into a classic Billy Joel/Jimmy Buffett/Van Morrison groove. Creager satisfied with an authentic Americana set, and his music deserves a wider listen.

Visit Roger Creager at www.rogercreager.com.

Twiddle at Irving Plaza

Mihali Savoulidis
Twiddle was founded in 2004 after a jam session by college students in Castleton, Vermont. By their second semester, these students were more interested in developing bridges between rock, jazz, funk, reggae and bluegrass than in their academic studies. The musicians had a catalogue of original compositions and were performing regularly through the northeast before becoming upperclassmen. In addition to many live releases, Twiddle's third and most recent album, PLUMP Chapter One, was released on December 11, 2015. The band presently consists of vocalist/guitarist Mihali Savoulidis, keyboardist Ryan Dempsey, bassist Zdenek Gubb and drummer Brook Jordan.

Twiddle performed two sets separated by a brief intermission at Irving Plaza tonight. Influenced by bands like Phish and the String Cheese Incident, Twiddle played with danceable rhythms in various genres and extended grooves with lengthy, improvised jams. Twelve-year-old guitarist Brandon "Taz" Niederauer  of Broadway's School of Rock, who has been making the rounds of local jam concerts, joined Twiddle intermittently, as did the Frendly Horns. Twiddle opened with "Amydst the Myst" featuring the Frendly Horns, and both Niederauer and the horn duo returned later in the show for "Lost In The Cold." Twiddle's musical fluency and textures were dynamic, but the brass interludes enriched the songs, and Niederauer 's guitar shredding was spine-chilling. Even after some three hours, the fans demanded more, and Twiddle ended the night by debuting an original country-flavored song, "Collective Pulse," as an encore. Grateful Dead heads have yet another band to follow.

Visit Twiddle at www.twiddlemusic.com.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Beth Hart at the Town Hall

Beth Hart won the Female Vocalist competition on Ed McMahon's Star Search for the 1993 season, but that alone did not solidify a music career for the singer/songwriter/guitarist from Los Angeles, California. She claimed her first top 5 Adult Contemporary hit in 1999 with "LA Song (Out of This Town)." At the same time, Hart was singing the lead role in Love, Janis, an off-Broadway musical based on Janis Joplin's letters home to her mother. Hart later collaborated with Slash, Joe Bonamassa and Jeff Beck, but Americans took notice when President Barak Obama and his wife Michelle gave Hart a standing ovation when she sang Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind" at a 2012 tribute to Buddy Guy at the Kennedy Center Opera House. Hart's eighth and most recent album, Better Than Home, was released on April 14, 2015, but she and Jeff Beck released the collaborative single "Tell Her You Belong To Me" on January 7, 2016.

Beth Hart's concert at the Town Hall tonight was intimate, and she confessed nervousness early in the two-hour, 18-song set. Drawing from a 20-year catalogue, Hart opened with the Lloyd Glenn/Lowell Fulson-penned "Sinners Prayer," one of her collaborative works with Joe Bonamassa. Depending on the songs, she shifted between singer-songwriter songs, the blues, and, in the case of songs like Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits," down and dirty rock and roll. Guitarists Jon Nichols and P.J. Barth, bassist Bob Marinelli, and drummer Bill Ransom supported her energy and offered some of their own. Hart played guitar and piano, and spoke often between songs, offering back stories to her songs and candidly alluding to her past struggles with drugs, alcohol and bi-polar disorder. Hart introduced a touching rendition of "St. Teresa" by explaining how the film Dead Man Walking inspired the lyrics. The sensitive "Take It Easy On Me" put her healing on full display. Hart's alto came equipped with the vulnerability to make it all credible. Hart has received accolades for her blues singing, but this concert showed there is more to the package.

Visit Beth Hart at www.bethhart.com.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ninet at the Penthouse at the Standard Hotel, East Village

Ninet Tayeb, aka Ninet, is perhaps the most famous person in the Israeli entertainment business so far in the 21st century. Born and raised in Kiryat Gat, Israel, now a resident of Tel Aviv, Ninet first came to public attention as the first place winner in the 2003 Israeli Idol (Kokhav Nolad). Alongside her musical career, Ninet starred in films, in the theater and on television. She released four albums in Israel (one of them in English), and twice won Israel's Favorite Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards. Going international, Ninet is presently a featured guest vocalist on select dates of Steven Wilson's tour, but is also performing club dates with her band. In preparation for her tour, Ninet released two singles, "Paper Parachute" and "Child," from her forthcoming as-yet-untitled American debut album.

Ninet is starting over from scratch in the United States. In the past year, she has performed live in nearly a dozen small clubs in New York, and also taped performances here for Paste and City Winery's video series. She is still waiting for that breakout performance that will make her name as common here as in her native Israel. Performing tonight at the Penthouse, she and her band performed a free show before less than 100 people-in-the-know, as the show was not advertised. Her showcase demonstrated that she has a powerful, somewhat husky voice that was equally home with both soft songs and shakers. Ninet was as comfortable with a bold, haunting, Adele-like rendition of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" and an original rocker, "Superstar." Her soulful delivery and her band's moving accompaniment made her compositions edgier than  standard singer-songwriter fare. She mined a classic sound; the only thing typically indie was that she perhaps too frequently tossed her hair in front of her face. Get her on a late night television show and her name will be trending throughout the internet the next morning.

Visit Ninet at www.ninetayeb.com.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Bullet for My Valentine at the PlayStation Theater

Matt Tuck
Matt Tuck was 14 years old and living in his native Bridgend, Wales, when he discovered Metallica's video for "Enter Sandman" and decided to learn to play guitar. While working in a record chain four years later in 1998, he and three college friends formed a band, Jeff Killed John, and covered songs by Metallica and Nirvana in the Cardiff music scene. Over time, Jeff Killed John recorded and circulated several original nu metal songs. After a personnel change in 2003, the remaining musicians changed the band name to Bullet for My Valentine and reworked their musical strategy; the musicians decided to play heavy metal songs with harmony guitars and big choruses. Bullet for My Valentine's four albums together have sold over one million albums in the United States and over 5,000,000 albums worldwide. Bullet for My Valentine's fifth album, Venom, was released on February 8, 2016. The band presently is composed of original members Tuck (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Michael Paget (lead guitar, backing vocals), and Michael "Moose" Thomas (drums), plus a recent addition, Jamie Mathias (bass guitar), formerly of metal band Revoker.

At the PlayStation Theater tonight, drummer Jason Bowld of AxeWound, Tuck's side band, sat in for Michael Thomas, whose wife was expecting a baby. Amid strobing white lights, the front line took its positions along the wide stage, spread its legs widely, leaned back at the knees, and ripped through the thrashing opening to "No Way Out" from the most recent album. Right from the start, Bullet for My Valentine mastered the best in new and old metal -- thrash metal's clean, guitar-shredding leads, speed metal's aggressive and propulsive energy, metalcore's crunching sonic intensity, nu metal's dynamic blast beats, and classic rock's melodic verses and choruses. Tuck alternated smooth and gritty vocals, then escalated to a crescendo with strategically-placed death metal growls. The momentum barely took a breather until Tuck began "The Last Fight" alone on guitar and vocals, with only the audience assisting on the first verse and chorus. The band then picked up the speed again for another series of fierce crowd boilers. Bullet for My Valentine had something impressive for every stream of metal fan.

Visit Bullet for My Valentine at www.bulletformyvalentine.com.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Dan Baird & Homemade Sin at Hill Country Barbecue + Market

Warner E. Hodges (left) & Dan Baird
Dan Baird was born and raised in San Diego, California, but in his early teens moved to Atlanta, Georgia. Baird formed the cowpunk/alt-country Georgia Satellites in 1980, recorded three studio albums and enjoyed a few hit songs, but left the band in 1990 to pursue a solo career. He also recorded two albums with the Yayhoos and three with the Bluefields, and along the way also joined Will Hoge, Trent Summar & the New Row Mob and the late Bobby Keys' band, the Suffering Bastards, for brief periods. He is now leading Dan Baird & Homemade Sin, whose third album, Get Loud, was released on September 25, 2015.

Baird's new band features guitarist Warner E. Hodges of Jason & the Scorchers, bassist Micke Nilsson and drummer Mauro Magellan, formerly of the Georgia Satellites. These fine core elements made for a raucous combustion at Hill Country Barbecue + Market tonight, performing both Baird's solo material plus fan favorites from the Georgia Satellites. Sounding somewhere between the Rolling Stones and ZZ Top, Baird and the band captured the spirit of rock and roll boogey, fueled by lots of lead guitar work from Hodges; the rocking novelty song "I Love You, Period" lasted more than 10 minutes due to Hodges' three solos. Perhaps too loud and bristly to be considered alt-country, Baird's energetic set was simply a driving, foot-stomping rock and roll with Americana roots. Tonight's performance by Dan Baird & Homemade Sin was more than vintage; it was timeless.

Visit Dan Baird & Homemade Sin at www.danbairdandhomemadesin.net.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra at Irving Plaza

Ruban Nielson
Ruban Nielson grew up in Auckland, New Zealand. Nielson’s mother is a singer, pianist, and hula champion from Oahu, Hawaii. His father, a New Zealander-born horn player, exposed his two sons to jazz. He helped Ruban gain entrance to New Zealand’s most prestigious art school, and he bought him his first guitar. In New Zealand, Nielson played guitar in the Mint Chicks, a punk band he founded with his brother in 2001. Upon relocating near Portland, Oregon, however, Ruban found work as an illustrator. In his free time, he began to record odd psych-rock. He pseudonymously posted his songs online in 2010 and they caught fire. He formed a live band with friends from Portland and hit the road. Unknown Mortal Orchestra , also known as UMO, presently consists of Nielson, keyboardist Quincy McCrary, bassist Jake Portrait, and drummer Riley Geare. Unknown Mortal Orchestra's third studio album, Multi-Love, was released on May 26, 2015.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra ended a winter tour with two sold-out shows at Irving Plaza. Although UMO's three albums seemed to be rooted in disparate directions, the live show harmonized these divergent paths. The band started the set with what sounded like a jazz jam on "Like Acid Rain," with spiraling guitar and keyboard leads even before the vocals began. The rest of the set seemed similarly experimental, with rhythm and blues lead vocals, pop harmonies, and extended instrumental jams. The overall sound was a realization of the indie of the first album, the psychedelia of the second and the pop grooves of the third album. More than half of the set was comprised of songs from the most recent album, a study of Neilson's recent polyamorous relationship, but live the center of gravity was on the jams, not the lyrics. Neilson seldom spoke to the audience and even less frequently looked at his fans below, consumed instead by his guitar leads and the band's propulsive rhythms. A trumpet player and saxophonist joined the core quartet for the encores of "Necessary Evil" and "Can’t Keep Checking My Phone," as if to bring the set full circle to the beginning jazz jam. While some tunes were more engaging than others, UMO's performance could be applauded for its adventurousness.

Visit UMO at www.unknownmortalorchestra.com.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Michael Monroe at the Gramercy Theatre

Michael Monroe & Steve Conte
Matti "Makke" Fagerholm, better known by his stage name, Michael Monroe, was born in Helsinki, Finland. Inspired by the emerging glam and punk scene in the 1970s, Monroe played in a band called Madness. While rehearsing in Töölö, Monroe met guitarist Andy McCoy (then known as Antti Hulkko), as McCoy's band, Briard, was rehearsing in the same basement. Later, Monroe and McCoy played together for a short time in a band called Bolin. Monroe then played saxophone in Maukka Perusjätkä's band. McCoy conceived the concept of a glam rock band called Hanoi Rocks, but gave the idea to Monroe, as McCoy was playing in the punk band Pelle Miljoona Oy. Monroe launched Hanoi Rocks in 1979, McCoy joined in 1980, and in 1982 the band relocated to London, England. Hanoi Rocks became an influential band, recorded nine studio albums, but broke up and reunited several times, never achieving mainstream success. Monroe moved to New York City in 1985, began a solo career in 1987, and in the 1990s formed two short-lived all-star bands, Jerusalem Slim and Demolition 23. Monroe's 10th and most recent solo album, Blackout States, was released on October 16, 2015.

Still looking like a glam rocker in mascara and a custom-made rock star wardrobe, 53-year-old Monroe revived hard 1980s-styled rock and roll tonight at the Gramercy Theatre. Entering to the theme of Sérgio Mendes' "Fanfarra," Monroe and company began the set with the blazing "This Ain't No Love Song." Monroe made great use of the spotlight throughout the set, playing to the edge of the stage, twirling his microphone and stand as if they were stage props, breaking into several James Brown-type splits, and jumping off the stage to the audience barrier and extending himself into the fans. None of this showboating took away from the stunning abilities of his cracker jack band, comprised of guitarists Steve Conte and Rich Jones, long-time bassist Sami Yaffa and drummer Karl Rockfist. The set consisted of Monroe' solo catalogue and songs from his days with Hanoi Rocks and Demotion 23. The set also included covers of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Up Around the Bend," the Damned's "Love Song" and "Machine Gun Etiquette," the Dead Boys' "Ain't Nothin' to Do," and the Heartbreakers' "I Wanna Be Loved," which morphed into an extended blues harmonica jam. This was pure, raucous rock and roll, the way it was always meant to sound.

Visit Michael Monroe at www.michaelmonroe.com.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Sister Hazel at the Gramercy Theatre

Ken Block
Ken Block began singing and playing his guitar publicly at age 12 in Gainesville, Florida. In 1993, he formed Sister Hazel with rhythm guitarist Andrew Copeland and bassist Jett Beres, naming the band after a local missionary who ran a homeless shelter. Shortly after the band released its self-titled debut album in 1994, lead guitarist Ryan Newell and drummer Mark Trojanowski joined the band, although Newell had played on the album before officially joining the group. The band has remained intact all this time, with keyboardist Dave LaGrande joining the tours since 2012. Sister Hazel's ninth studio album, Lighter in the Dark, will be released tomorrow, February 19, 2016.

Sister Hazel's new album leans more country than previous albums, and at the Gramercy Theatre tonight, it seemed like this new direction was a solid new fit for the band. The band opened with the upbeat "Happy," a song from two decades ago, which launched an audience sing-along. Block sang in tenor, sometimes raspy enough to keep it from sounding too smooth. The songs often built crescendos, and melodic lead guitar and gang harmonies jumped in exactly when expected. The music was rocking, with pop hooks and country flavorings to keep the fans grooving. Perhaps the sound was a bit too safe, but maybe this is what made it pleasantly familiar.

Visit Sister Hazel at www.sisterhazel.com.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Cult at the Gramercy Theatre

Ian Astbury
Vocalist/songwriter Ian Astbury formed Southern Death Cult in 1981, in Bradford, England. The name derived from the 14th century Native American religion, but it was also a commentary on the centralization of power in Southern England. The band was at the forefront of the emerging post-punk and gothic rock scene, but disbanded in 1983 after only 16 months. Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy formed Death Cult in 1983, shortened the name to the Cult in 1984, and in 1985 relocated to London, England. Bad habits and personality clashes caused the band to split and reunite several times; more than 25 musicians can say they were members of the Cult at some point. The current band is based in Los Angeles, California, and consists of Astbury, Duffy, new bassist Grant Fitzpatrick and drummer John Tempesta. The Cult's 10th studio album, Hidden City, was released on February 5, 2016.

At the Gramercy Theatre tonight, Astbury maintained his Jim Morrison-deep mystique, both hands clutching his microphone on the stationery stand, seemingly hiding behind it and his wrap-around sunglasses. Even the opening song, "Dark Energy," drove a Doors-ish "L.A. Woman" pulse and urgency. Astbury's absorbing vocals and Duffy's shimmering guitar leads gave imagination and depth to simple 4/4, three-chord song structures. Astbury said before starting "Hinterland" that the show was all about David Robert Jones (the late David Bowie), but the overall sound was pure, powerful, hard-edged rock and roll, anchored with dark vocals, The Edge-styled muscular guitar leads and head-bobbing AC/DC-styled riffs. Classic rock never felt better.

Visit the Cult at www.thecult.us.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Cannibal Corpse at Irving Plaza

George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher
Cannibal Corpse formed as a death metal band in 1988 in Buffalo, New York. Self-proclaimed horror story writers, Cannibal Corpse's extreme music, violent lyrics and gory album covers became quickly controversial, such that merchandise and/or concerts were censored or banned in Australia, Germany, Korea, New Zealand, and Russia. Despite little radio play, Cannibal Corpse achieved worldwide sales of two million units for 13 studio albums, two box sets, four video albums and one live album, making Cannibal Corpse the top-selling death metal band of all time. The band's most recent album is 2014's A Skeletal Domain. After numerous personnel changes, Cannibal Corpse presently consists of vocalist George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher, lead guitarist Patrick O'Brien, rhythm guitarist Rob Barrett and original members Alex Webster on bass guitar and Paul Mazurkiewicz on drums.

At Irving Plaza tonight, Cannibal Corpse opened with the title track from 2009's Evisceration Plague album and through a 90-minute, 17-song set touched on 12 of the band's 13 albums. Moments into the slow crunching rhythm of the opening song, "Evisceration Plague," the band began ripping a sonic boom and Fisher began his throat-scraping growls. Everything intensified, even the hair spinning, with the second song, "The Time to Kill Is Now." Cannibal Corpse did everything a death metal band is supposed to do, playing up horrific themes through guttural vocal grunts, deep and technically dexterous guitar riffs and manic double-bass-drum rhythms. The band's song titles were massively macabre; "Stripped, Raped and Strangled", "Pit of Zombies", "Icepick Lobotomy", "Hammer Smashed Face" and "Devoured by Vermin" sustained the horror. Extreme music does not get more raw, brutal, or graphic than this.

Visit Cannibal Corpse at www.cannibalcorpse.net.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Fleshgod Apocalypse at the Gramercy Theatre

Tommaso Riccardi
Fleshgod Apocalypse formed as a death metal band in 2007 in Perugia, Italy. Fleshgod Apocalypse presently consists of original lead guitarist Cristiano Trionfera and bassist Paolo Rossi, along with lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Tommaso Riccardi, keyboardist Francesco Ferrini and drummer Francesco Paoli. Shortly after the 2009 release of the band's debut album, Paoli moved to the drums and was replaced by new member Riccardi. Paoli simultaneously had been the vocalist in Hour of Penance and the drummer in Fleshgod Apocalypse until 2010, when he quit Hour of Penance to focus exclusively on Fleshgod Apocalypse. Ferrini, the pianist and orchestrator of Oracles and Mafia, was added to Fleshgod Apocalypse as pianist and orchestrator in 2010, as the band moved deeper in symphonic death metal. Fleshgod Apocalypse's fourth album, King, was released on February 5, 2016.

Fleshgod Apocalypse came on stage at the Gramercy Theatre looking like medieval zombies, pale-faced and wearing matching badly-wrinkled, dusty-looking, long-jacketed grey suits. A masked woman dressed in a long, wrinkled grey dress and holding a tall staff stood at a microphone stand in the background, adding operatic backing vocals. The music and the hair spinning began with the introduction from King, "March of Royale" and "In Aeternum," followed by "Minotaur (The Wrath of Poseidon) from 2013’s Labyrinth. The songs were lengthy and complex, and so was the story they seemed to tell. Riccardi introduced "Pathfinder" and "The Fool" by cryptically explaining the storylines. The compositions moved from interlude to interlude, led by death growls, stinging guitar leads and synthesized orchestral flourishes. The set formally ended with "Prologue" and "Epilogue" from Labyrinth, but the band returned with encores of "In Honour of Reason" from 2009’s debut album, Oracles, and "The Forsaking" from 2011’s Agony. The entire performance consisted of nine songs, and only the opening sequence came from the newest album. In the end, Fleshgod Apocalypse finely curated metal music with medieval mystique for a unique headbanging performance.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic at B.B. King's Blues Club & Grill

George Clinton
George Clinton conceived a veritable factory out of hard rocking funk riffs in the 1970s, leading and/or masterminding the Parliaments (later known as Parliament), Funkadelic, the P-Funk All Stars and many other groups. Due to legal battles over royalties in 1982, Clinton became a solo artist in name only, as his collaborators were many of the same musicians. After staging some of the most extravagant live shows of the 1970s, Clinton and company started to lose prominence but never quite died out, influencing future generations of funksters. Clinton's most recent album was 2008's George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love.

On Fat Tuesday 2016, George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic returned to B.B. King's Blues Club & Grill for a three-hour groove-athon. The stage was packed with singers, musicians and others whose roles were questionable. The line-up changed often, to where an audience member could no longer count how many people were involved in the music. Clinton himself was mostly on stage simply as an animator, occasionally singing hoarsely and at other times sitting on a chair as the musicians jammed and the singers sang. Sizzling guitar, keyboard and horn leads traded licks, as the vocalists retreated and then returned to remind the listeners that these songs were old favorites, including "Flashlight", "One Nation Under a Groove", "Give Up the Funk (Tear The Roof Off the Sucker)," and "Atomic Dog." The loose spirit of the funk permeated everything for a well rounded Mardi Gras party.

Visit George Clinton at www.georgeclinton.com.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Graveyard at the Bowery Ballroom

Joakim Nilsson
Blues rock from Sweden? When Gothenburg-based doom/stoner band Norrsken folded in 2000 after five years together, guitarist/vocalist Joakim Nilsson and bassist Rikard Edlund formed a growly blues band called Albatross. Albatross also split after five years, and Nilsson and Eklund formed another blues rock band, Graveyard, in 2006. Eklund left Graveyard in 2014, so the band currently consists of Nilsson, guitarist Jonatan Larocca-Ramm, bassist Truls Mörck and Albatross drummer Axel Sjöberg. Graveyard's fourth album, Innocence & Decadence, was released on September 25, 2015.

At the Bowery Ballroom tonight, Graveyard unearthed a classic blues rock sound from the 1970s. In those founding days of hard rock, musicians adapted American blues to rock and turned up the volume and the fuzz. Blues continues to be the root of Graveyard's music, but may be too fast and loud for purists. Nilsson's gravelly voice sang and shouted lyrics, and the musicians fearlessly pounded out rich, tasteful licks that sounded like they were researched well from a thorough American music library. The sound was not so much retro, however, as it was a modern adaption, adding contemporary tunings and effects to an older sound. The delivery was intentionally a bit coarse, giving authenticity to its blues calling. Graveyard is a strong band for older music fans.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Voivod at the Gramercy Theatre

Denis "Snake" Bélanger
In 1981 Jonquière, Quebec, Canada, guitarist Denis "Piggy" D'Amour asked Jean-Yves "Blacky" Thériault to play bass in his fledgling band. Before long, Blacky brought a friend from high school, Michel "Away" Langevin, to play drums. Blacky and Away needed time to develop their skills, so the band took a one-year hiatus. The band became Voivod in 1982 and recruited vocalist Denis "Snake" Bélanger in 1983. Over the years, Voivod changed musical styles several times, starting as a speed metal band, then leaning alternately between progressive metal and thrash metal. The band gained mainstream success in 1989 with its fifth studio album, Nothingface. After 13 albums, Voivod will release an EP, Post Society, on February 26, 2016. After many personnel changes, including the death of Piggy and several band breakups and reunions, Voivod currently consists of Snake, Away, guitarist Daniel "Chewy" Mongrain and bassist Dominique Laroche.

Forget the Super Bowl. Voivod headlined tonight at the Gramercy Theatre, tearing like a powersaw through a 13-song set that spanned three decades of metal, including three songs from the forthcoming EP. The set opened with "Ripping Headaches," and throughout the performance similarly emphasized the band's 1980s catalogue. "Tribal Convictions" launched the evening’s first mosh pit. Most of the set hinged on speed and thrash, and despite the passing of Piggy, Voivod continued to push out dissonant guitar chords. Highlights included the band's signature song, "Voivod," and the set closer and Pink Floyd cover, "Astronomy Domine," from the Nothingface days. Snake did not pretend to be much of a vocalist; on the fast songs, his talky singing was flat, off-key and delivered with as much of a cynical sneer as Johnny Rotten, and on the faster songs he sounded like a disciple of the late Lemmy Kilmister. Snake wore a Motorhead t-shirt, perhaps remembering the recent passing of Kilmister; ironically, Voivod presently is the closest sounding band to Motorhead.

Visit Voivod at www.voivod.net.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

InAeona at ABC No Rio

Vocalist/guitarist Bridge Laviazar earned dual college degrees in art history and photography in 2004 in her native Boston, Massachusetts, but ultimately felt drawn back to creating original music. She began playing in bands with two former high school buddies, bassist Dave Soucy and drummer/synthesizer player James Dunham.  After several other musicians did not fit the post-metal/post-industrial mold, the core musicians became a trio named InAeona, and quickly released a self-financed debut EP in 2009. Embracing DIY, InAeona first played shows locally, later self-booking national tours. InAeona 's debut album, Force Rise the Sun, was released on August 7, 2015.

ABC No Rio is a subculture art collective where no alcohol is served, so the public attends all-ages concerts strictly for the music and the engagement of belonging. Nearly every Saturday afternoon since 1989, ABC No Rio has used a former studio apartment in its 19th century tenement to stage radical music, usually hardcore punk, metal, progressive or experimental music. On this occasion, InAeona represented all of these categories. InAeona's music was brutally loud, aggressive and noisy, but also massively cerebral and passionate, elements usually found lacking in punk or metal. Alternating between bombastic assaults and gently meandering melodies, Laviazar on guitar crunched with the rhythm section, then noodled shimmering guitar leads which she interrupted with her own sweeping vocals or shouts. Deep and expansive, exploring the spectrum from frightful darkness to blinding light, InAeona's gripping, mysterious compositions splendidly bonded the audience for a captivating sojourn into both inner and outer space.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Nothing but Thieves at the Studio at Webster Hall

Conor Mason
Vocalist Conor Mason spotted guitarist Joe Langridge-Brown in school in Southend-on-Sea in Essex, England, and instinctively knew they should be making music together. By 2012, they recruited classically-trained guitarist Dominic Craik, bassist Philip Blake (Craik's cousin) and drummer James Price. They took the name Nothing but Thieves from a lyric in a Steel Train song. After releasing three EPS, Nothing but Thieves released a self-titled debut album today.

Headlining a CD release concert tonight at the Studio at Webster Hall, Nothing but Thieves already secured a local following that eagerly jammed against the stage, bounced to the rhythms and sang along with the lyrics. The quintet played melodic pop songs highlighting Mason's soaring, wailing vocals as they were propelled by hard driving rock and roll. Mason's vocal styling recalled Muse's Matt Bellamy, Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Jeff Buckley. The slow and tender "Lover Please Stay," on the other hand, showcased Mason doing his best Freddie Mercury, accompanied only by Langridge-Brown on electric guitar. If this band had been born in the alt-rocking 1990s, Nothing but Thieves would have been huge. As it turns out, the five members of Nothing but Thieves were born in the 1990s, so they are emerging in an era in which they might reinvent the music of their infancy.

Visit Nothing but Thieves at www.nbthieves.com.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Matt Corby at the Bowery Ballroom

Australian singer-songwriter Matt Corby was born in Oyster Bay, New South Wales, Australia, where he joined his school's stage band and choir. At age 16, Corby auditioned for the fifth season of Australian Idol, where he finished as runner-up. He began releasing independent EPs at age 19, then moved to London, England, in hopes of furthering a music career. In 2011, on his fourth of five consecutive EPs, he introduced a deeper rhythm and blues flavor to his folk roots, and his music started charting in Australia. Roughly a decade after his stint in Australian Idol, Corby's debut album, Telluric, will be released on March 11, 2016.

When Matt Corby first came to New York and performed at Joe's Pub four years ago, he performed solo, singing and finger-picking an acoustic guitar, briefly playing an electric guitar and for one song electronically looping his vocals. At the much larger Bowery Ballroom tonight, he brought a small band and committed himself further to exploring a throaty, bluesy sound. His thick dirty-blond hair and light beard made him look somewhat like Kurt Cobain clone or a California surfer, but once he opened his mouth to sing, he had to be taken seriously as a contemporary crooner. Surrounded by billowing dry-ice fog, the white stage lighting narrowly focused on Corby alone, he closed his eyes, snapped his fingers and looped his voice for a live multi-vocal-layered rendition of a recent single, the soft and airy "Monday." His musicians then joined him, but their accompaniment remained sparse so that Corby's vocal tricks could ride above and dominate. For the rest of the set, Corby barely spoke to the audience and seldom opened his eyes, as he dedicated himself to his singing, only occasionally playing guitar or flute. The band played light jazz and funk rhythms, to which Corby's soulful vocals stretched an impressive range from soprano to falsetto, gliding easily over the scales while emoting heavily. Before the 55-minute set was over, Corby covered Sam Cooke’s "A Change is Gonna Come," giving it his own twist rather than mirroring the original. Maybe that choice of cover revealed the inspiration for Corby's graduation from Australian folk to American soul sounds.

Visit Matt Corby at www.mattcorby.com.