10/22/14 4:00am

Every October since 1980, the CMJ Music Marathon turns New York City into a tangled mass of official and unofficial events, overrun with more bands than any two-eyed, two-eared mortal could possibly see in a week. While well-established names like Slowdive, Low, Matthew Dear, Shonen Knife, The Kills, and reunited emo vets The Jazz June have festival-affiliated shows this year, the real action has always been in active bar-hopping and armchair trend-spotting. Even with most hotly tipped acts playing multiple shows, achieving schedule perfection can be tricky. We’re here to help. Below is the definitive, wholly objective list of must-see artists in town this week and where to catch them.


There should be plenty of opportunities to see Shamir Bailey play in the near future now that the delightful disco wunderkind has relocated from Las Vegas to Brooklyn. Still, that doesn’t mean you should skip his set at GODMODE’s stacked unofficial party (also featuring Courtship Ritual, Fitness, and Ejecta, among others). The young diva has enough natural charisma to play solo against a canned beat, but he shows up with a super-tight live dance band instead. 10/24 at Babycastles, 11pm (unofficial)

Lydia Ainsworth

Considering her time spent studying film-score composition, it seems a little too cute to call this Canadian-born singer’s music “cinematic.” Still, her debut album Right From Real just so happens to excel at slow-burn drama and grandiose arrangement. Ainsworth’s songs feel uncommonly big even in their more sedate moments, combining pulsing synths with humming strings and her regal, Kate Bush-ish delivery. Theatricality bleeds into her live show, too—it’s recently featured interpretive dancers and even the occasional live snake. 10/21 at Union Pool, 10:45pm; 10/23 at Baby’s All Right, 1am; 10/24 at Pianos, 3:10pm; 10/24 at Glasslands, 8:15pm; 10/24 at Arlene’s Grocery, 11:45pm; 10/25 at Cameo, 8pm; 10/25 at Death by Audio, 9:45pm

Kevin Morby

Morby has a way with vowels. Still Life, his sophomore departure from co-fronting The Babies, has him flattening round sounds so that even the most defiant songs take on the lolling lilt of a bolo-tied crooner. The track list reads like plot lines and characters pulled from America’s tapestry, condensed into two-and-three syllable sketches: “Drowning,” “Bloodsucker,” “Parade,” “Dancer,” “Amen,” and so on, each one struck by Morby’s melodic ease. The fact that these songs didn’t already exist in the national canon, let alone the world, is a mistake. 10/24 at Rough Trade (w/ full band); 10/25 at Academy Records Annex (unofficial)


One might guess that sludge-mongers PC Worship and nouveau slack-rockers Parquet Courts have nothing in common but an area code. IRL the two Brooklyn rock crews are BFFs whose members occasionally merge into PCPC (a “NY noise-rock confederacy”). Almost immediately upon forming, the supergroup nabbed a spot opening for Thurston Moore’s latest tour. Curiosity about how well their distinct sounds splice arguably eclipses a check-in with the ex-Sonic Youth icon as the premier point of interest at Tuesday night’s show. 10/21 at Saint Vitus (unofficial)

Bo Ningen

A viciously loud gang of Japanese psych-rockers who’ve been rattling molars in the basement clubs of their adopted home of London for several years now. (A scene that’s welcomed them fully, as they’ve lately been collaborating with Savages singer Jehnny Beth.) They bend the churning riffs of classic heavy metal towards squealing pure noise, with the structural scaffolding of cosmic krautrock added to give the chaos some shape. Live, they’re a whirling blur of flailing limbs and luxurious, gravity-defying hair. 10/21 at Baby’s All Right, 6pm; 10/22 at Glasslands, 12:20am; 10/23 at Baby’s All Right; 10/24 at Pianos, 11:30pm; 10/25 at Baby’s All Right; 10/25 at Rough Trade, 8:15pm


Because Lou Reed, The Jesus & Mary Chain, and The Strokes will never go out of style, even in the post-Internet world, even for a band from Montreal. 10/21 at Pianos, 3:15pm; 10/21 at Union Pool; 10/23 at Mercury Lounge, 12am; 10/24 at Arlene’s Grocery, 7pm; 10/24 at Shea Stadium


The Manchester foursome seems less concerned with all-caps money than capital-A Art. This is inferred from frontman Jamie Lee’s essays with titles like “Madness and Modernity, Intoxication and Isolation,” a Facebook timeline speckled with poetry, and music video montages of ballerinas, a young man lying down on a street, a glam-rock transwoman, and religious imagery. What this means is MONEY makes pop music of the prettiest order. Every track on their debut album The Shadow of Heaven gracefully stretches into one continual movement with Lee’s vocals—less operatic than Antony’s, but less earth-bound than Majical Cloudz’s—driving the ebb and flow. Their reputation in the British press as a live band is “one of the best in the world right now.” Capital-A Art for the win. 10/21 at Baby’s All Right; 10/21 at Rough Trade; 10/22 at Pianos, 8:15pm; 10/23 at (Le) Poisson Rouge, 11pm


The combined voices of these two Los Angeles high schoolers form high, bratty harmonies that fall somewhere between a giggle and a snarl. Their short songs are funny but creepy, sexually frank, and a bit righteously peeved. Boys are regarded both as objects of lust and with deep suspicion. Their minimal setup—just a guitar, a bass, and two mics—sells the emotion in the writing. It’s raw-nerve, first-draft intimacy. 10/22 at Pianos, 2:40pm; 10/22 at Glasslands; 10/23 at Death by Audio (unofficial); 10/24 at Pianos, 7pm; 10/24 at Silent Barn, 11:15pm (unofficial)

Amen Dunes

It’s no coincidence that Damon McMahon’s clearest, most accessible record by miles is titled Love—proof that being in it opens you up to sharing feelings and experiences. Washed clean of about six of the seven layers of static that’s obscured McMahon’s previous work as Amen Dunes, his latest teeters between Edward Sharpe’s hippy-dippy euphoria and being strung out by downers. Still there’s the sense we have a reliable narrator on our hands, never too thrilled or too depressed for his emotion to steamroll logic. And so you believe him when he sings, “Today my love is gone,” but also when he sings, “I will surely figure it out.” 10/24 at Trans-Pecos

Kate Boy

Australia-to-Stockholm transplant Kate Akhurst fronts this synth group, the latest in a long queue who’s turned the sleek and upsetting sounds The Knife left behind into a more obviously commercial sort of shadow-pop. While the aesthetic is slightly familiar, the execution is pretty immaculate. First single “Northern Lights” makes them seem like international chart stars from its first metallic seconds. New material from their anticipated debut record should be expected. 10/23 at Santos Party House; 10/24 at Knitting Factory; 10/25 at Glasslands, 11pm

But, wait! Also check out… Mitski, Cakes da Killa, Amanda X, Pity Sex, Tonstartssbandht, Beach Slang, Couch Slut, Cayetana, Krill, The Wytches, Nuns, Protomartyr, Dream Police, Flashlights, PAWS… and at least one band you’ve never heard of.

Follow Jeff Klingman and Lauren Beck on Twitter @jeff_klingman and @heylaurenbeck.

10/03/14 12:10pm

That crispness in the air? Your local bodega taking a sudden interest in harvested goods, i.e. selling miniature pumpkins? The barrage of L.L. Bean catalogs sent to your apartment becoming less of an annoyance? This all means that the Northside Concert Series at Brooklyn Flea is winding down for the season. It’s been a good run (many thanks to the bands and fans who made it out), but we’ve got one last swing at summer before calling it the end.Bittersweet synth purveyors Small Black, the deepest feelers in all the borough, show us the way this Sunday. They’ll be joined by head-in-clouds pop project Nicholas Nicholas and noise-and-twee-meeting-point Mitski, whose forthcoming album, literally called Bury Me at Makeout Creek, is emotionally on point.

Gates to the Williamsburg Flea at 50 Kent (Kent Ave & North 12th St) will open at 10am, per usual, with music starting at 3pm and wrapping up around 6pm. It’s practically Christmas. Let’s make this count.

09/26/14 3:12pm

This Sunday marks the halfway point of the “Northside Concert Series at Brooklyn Flea,” which, the more we think about it, isn’t that impressive on our end, seeing as free shows with great bands tend to be low on stress and high on fun. Even still! We’re honoring the occasion with an amped-up lineup led by furiously young Stones-worshippers Twin Peaks from the depths of the American Midwest. On the Brooklyn-till-we-die front, grit-smeared punk from Bushwick’s Honduras and mod pop from borough-bred Roya, a new project from members of Habibi and The Clean, kicks the afternoon into gear.


Gates to the Williamsburg Flea at 50 Kent (Kent Ave & North 12th St) will open at 10am, per usual, with music starting at 3pm and wrapping up before 6pm. (Fine print: Roya is on at 3pm, Honduras at 3:45pm, and Twin Peaks at 4:45pm.) Keep an eye here for details on the final show of Northside’s concert season on October 5 with Small Black. Their bittersweet synth swirls will guide us into the autumnal glow, so we can awake many months later, post-frost, and do it all over again.

09/17/14 2:53pm

So let’s talk about this Sunday. We’ll be kicking off the “Northside Concert Series at Brooklyn Flea,” which is an adequately self-explanatory tittle for a run of free concerts happening during the Brooklyn Flea at 50 Kent every Sunday throughout the first weekend of October. What’s not self-explanatory is how excited we are about the lineups.

This week we have gleeful garage rock from Crazy Pills (3pm), disco-dusted pop from Motion Studies (3:35pm), unaffected punk from Philly’s Cayetana (4:15pm), and a solo set by kinetic guitar shredder/supreme stage banterer Marnie Stern (5pm) to top off the day. My iPhone’s weather app promises 81 degrees and sun, which, frankly, is unfair to anyone unable to join us at 50 Kent. When in a couple months the earth is gray and frozen, we can look back on the day we bought a set of vintage cutlery while listening to a garage-disco-punk-rock spread, and happily conclude that Brooklyn is the best place in the world.

Gates to the Williamsburg Flea at 50 Kent (Kent Ave & North 12th St) will open at 10am, per usual, with music at 3pm and wrapping up around 6pm for all shows in the series. Keep an eye here for more info on September 28’s installment with Twin Peaks and October 5’s with Small Black. For the sake of explanation, we are VERY excited.

09/05/14 12:55pm

“Is this heaven?” you ask wide-eyed at the gates of 50 Kent on a crisp fall afternoon. “No, it’s the Brooklyn Flea,” James Earl Jones responds from above. It’s an understandable mix-up, what with the Flea corralling 150 of the city’s most sought-after vintage, handmade and food vendors — my god, the food vendors! — into 50 Kent every Sunday throughout summer and early fall, turning a concrete lot along the Williamsburg waterfront into Brooklyn’s Promised Land. The Flea built it, and people keep coming. 


We couldn’t be happier to add to the feel-goodness of the situation by presenting a three-week series of shows during Flea hours and slapping on a zero-dollar admission price. While shopping, eating and drinking, mosey on over to the stage area to see a special solo set by kinetic guitar shredder Marnie Stern on September 21, garage-rock’s youngest saviors Twin Peaks on September 28, and the borough’s deepest feelers Small Black on October 5, each joined by soon-to-be-announced special guests. (Just ran some tests. It’s been proven that all three bands are the perfect soundtrack to debating whether you have enough room in your apartment for that antique trunk you just came across at a vendor booth, so there’s that too.)

Gates to the Williamsburg Flea will open at 10am, per usual, with music starting at 3pm and wrapping up around 6pm. There’s only one way to spend an early autumn Sunday in Brooklyn. This is it.

08/30/14 12:00am

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Remember when we told you that Fool’s Gold promised “some special surprises” for their annual Labor Day bash in Brooklyn? That wasn’t a lie. Just when you thought your holiday weekend couldn’t get any better — surprise! — Fool’s Gold OG and super producer-DJ-turntablist A-Trak has been added to the Williamsburg edition of Fool’s Gold Day Off at 50 Kent on Monday.

This is a party, mind you, that already includes Danny Brown, French Montana, AraabMuzik, The LOX, Benmar, Hoodboi B2B Falcons, Yung Gleesh, World’s Fair, Nick Catchdubs (feat. B.I.C.), Shash’U, Black Dave, GrandeMarshall and more… so, yeah, it’s going to be a really good day off.

For those of you just joining us, the bullet-point details:

What: Fool’s Gold Day Off, now featuring 100 percent more A-Trak

When: Monday, September 1; doors open at 2pm, music starts at 3pm

Where: 50 Kent (Kent Ave. and North 12th St. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

How: Tickets are $20 ($30 day of). BUY THOSE HERE.

How excited should you be? Very.

07/15/14 1:16pm

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If you recall, Fool’s Gold Day Off (aka the biggest party of the summer, aka your best chance of becoming BFFs with Danny Brown) returns to 50 Kent (Kent Ave. and North 12th St.) on September 1 before it spins off into a multi-city mega-tour hitting Toronto, L.A., Atlanta and Miami this fall.


Keeping with Fool’s Gold tradition, the hometown label has culled together a lineup of hip-hop and dance-music trailblazers for this year’s bash, including FG heavyweight Danny Brown, reigning NY street rap emperor French Montana, MPC maestro AraabMuzik, hard-knock legends The LOX, FG future bass ambassadors Brenmar, Hoodboi and Shash’U, the coolest collection of new hip-hop heroes from World’s Fair to Yung Gleesh, FG cofounder Nick Catchdubs and many, many more (including some special surprises from the FG captains themselves…)

In other words, you’ll want to be there. A limited number of early-bird tickets are on sale now for a slim $15. Once those are snatched up (act fast!), tickets are $20 advance and $30 day of. Buy them here, and check for full info, lineup updates, past recap videos and more.

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07/10/14 4:00pm

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It’s back. Since 2010, Labor Day’s greatest tradition (eating potato salad in the Hamptons isn’t a tradition) is dancing up a sweat at the New York installment of Fool’s Gold Day Off, the all-day, feel-good, can-this-really-be-happening concert curated by its titular Brooklyn-based record label. We’re psyched to welcome the party (and we do mean party) to 50 Kent (Kent Ave. and North 12 St.) on Monday, September 1 as part of the Northside Summer Concert Series.


So it’s back in Brooklyn but also better than ever. Joining the lineup this year at the 6,000-capacity space is: Danny Brown, French Montana, AraabMuzik, The LOX, Benmar, Hoodboi B2B Falcons, Yung Gleesh, World’s Fair, Fool’s Gold cofounder Nick Catchdubs (feat. B.I.C.), Shash’U, Black Dave, GrandeMarshall and, per tradition, a ton of special guests. Follow @FoolsGoldRecs for updates and clues.

A limited number of $15 tickets go on sale Tuesday, July 15 at noon at After those are gobbled up, tickets will be $20 advance and $30 day of. Gates open at 2pm, music starts at 3pm and will wrap up around 10pm.

We’ll see you on the pavement, being all awesome and sweaty.


07/03/14 11:57am

The strangest criticism I’ve heard leveled at Melissa McCarthy is that her comic persona repeats herself, that her shtick is getting old. A comic persona is what most comedians work so hard develop; shtick is what a comic does. If anything, McCarthy’s physical and verbal aggression have more variety than many of her peers: consider the upbeat, individualist looniness of her character in Bridesmaids against the angry, disdainful insults that mask her character’s familial pain in The Heat.


In Tammy, McCarthy follows the Kristen Wiig path and designs a vehicle for herself. She and husband Ben Falcone wrote the screenplay; Falcone also directs and takes a small role as a pompous fast food manager who incites the plot by firing put-upon Tammy (McCarthy). Tammy then arrives home to find her husband (Nat Faxon) cheating on her. In a smart violation of infidelity cliché, she doesn’t catch him in bed with his mistress&#8212he’s just making her a nice dinner. That betrayal seems to hurt, if anything, all the more. Tammy, fed up, hits the road with her alcoholic grandmother (Susan Sarandon), determined to leave town once and for all.

Their journey&#8212stensibly, casually and unconvincingly pointed toward Niagara Falls&#8212is the kind of meandering, mission-slipped road trip you might find in an Alexander Payne movie, and Tammy‘s supporting cast happens to come from Payne’s orbit: Kathy Bates (About Schmidt) turns up alongside Sandra Oh (Sideways), and Faxon co-wrote The Descendants. But while McCarthy might be an inspired match with Payne some day, Tammy only manages those superficial resemblances. It more closely recalls, of all things, Identity Thief, her dopiest big hit comedy so far (and the one that established her as a solo box office draw), right down to the inclusion of light criminal activity and vehicular slapstick. As in that movie (and unlike Bridesmaids and The Heat), her character is positioned is kind of dumb, and very desperate; McCarthy’s characters in her movies with Paul Feig may have nursed hidden insecurities, but here she designs comic riffs around her ignorance and personal flailing.

These aren’t infertile grounds for comedy, of course, and the movie generates some incidental laughs&#8212Sarah Baker strikes sparks off McCarthy in a funny bit part as another fast food worker. When it searches for meaning in Tammy’s life, though, the movie gets muddled. One problem with McCarthy and Falcone’s script is the way it introduces Tammy’s character flaws in dialogue, rather than characterization. Her grandmother mentions that she’s a quitter; Tammy herself admits that she was a bad wife. But we only see the silly offshoots of these supposed traits&#8212which is to say, a limp running gag where she knocks stuff over in an impotent huff when things don’t go her way. It feels backward-engineered from some goofy stuff McCarthy did on set. Just as in Identity Thief, the character doesn’t cohere. The movie, then, makes McCarthy look less gifted (and more shtick-dependent) than she actually is.

But then, no one’s character in Tammy makes much sense, starting at the casting level. I understand why the movie might fudge the fact that Susan Sarandon (age 67) would be on the young-ish side to play a mother to McCarthy (age 43), nevermind grandmother; Sarandon is a great actress and who wouldn’t want to work with her? (I don’t fully understand why the part had to be written as a grandmother rather than a mother, other than generic sassiness, but I’m assuming McCarthy and Falcone had their reasons.) It pushes the age discrepancies to distraction level, though, when they wedge in Allison Janney (age 54) as Sarandon’s daughter and McCarthy’s mother. Janney is another great actress, but she has little to do in this movie besides prompt calculations over whether there’s any way that casting could or should work (OK, math break: if McCarthy is playing a decade or so younger, which she can pretty much pass for, then Janney at her real age could be a young parent to her&#8212even though Janney also could pass for younger than her real age. But it still gets tangled up because the movie implies that the grandmother character is around Sarandon’s real late-60s age, which throws her giving birth to Janney back to the realm of physically possible but troubling at best. Don’t even ask about the age of the seemingly 40-ish ice cream man McCarthy and Sarandon are both supposed to have had a comic dalliance with, decades apart). I don’t mention this to harp on actresses’ ages or to nitpick the realism of a comedy&#8212just to point out that the movie lacks a sense of certainty about what and why it is. As with Identity Thief, McCarthy generates plenty of chuckles and pathos. And unlike her best work, the two never really reconcile.