The Reinvigorating Effects of On An On

After a particularly exhausting day I finally had a second to catch my breath. I’m at The Library on the Lower East Side waiting for Chicago trio On An On. The group is making a stop in New York for a slew of appearances and will be playing Mercury Lounge later that evening, which marks their first show in NYC together. Give In, their debut album, has just hit the masses a week prior and already stands to make my end of year list. The album sound-tracked some of the deepest moments I had this winter. Absorbing the album in my room on cold winter nights spent saging myself of the past and prepping for what lay ahead. In between a sip of my Modelo tall boy, On An On’s Nate and Alissa Eiseland and Ryne Estwing arrive and settle in the booth alongside me. 

There are conversations you have with people who are good friends or just people making a brief pit stop that activate something in your brain that makes you feel as though that’s exactly what you needed to hear and experience at that time. Sitting down with the band really allowed me to peel back a layer and gain insight into the inner workings of the road that led On an On to this juncture, as well as reinvigorate my own path.

What did you learn when making this album?
Ryne Estwing: We finally got a taste of a recording experience that was something we might not have known was there before but mostly didn’t, this is what recording should be like, were in the studio it’s organic, sounds are being created in the studio its not all pre written not all demoed out. It was very refreshing, the recording process, as much as you demo things, there should be a lot to explore in the studio.
Nate Eiesland: We learned a new set of values, a big idea, one of the most distinct ways to shift for us. We got a clean slate; got to start a new band, something that we were all really creatively excited by. Getting to make a record was really interesting because at that point you don’t have any loyalties that you have to honor so we got to really explore and experiment in a way that was almost animalistic, it was instantaneous, I like this, I’m gonna do it.

Our values changed, and what we were valuing were moments of vulnerability and honesty, and flaws, and maybe that was something we would have tried to avoid before and when they happened in the studio there was a switch and we realized how much energy was in those moments, and it might be nervous energy and something that was not even close to confidence, but that’s something that’s so much more magnetic, that’s something that jumps out of the speaker and you can link to as listener. And I think that was a huge change for us. We just wanted something that feels really vibrant and human, flawed and magical.
Alissa Eiseland: Just being in the studio, relaxing, exploring and experimenting and not being like oh my god the record button is going and I have to be executing this perfectly because I think that really takes away from the exploratory and the relaxation of being we are all here making music, its better if its a good time versus like "you’re on."

Was there a moment where things shifted for you and that propelled you forward?
AE:This last tour was very impactful for us, we were like hell yeah!
NE: We were just kind of like what’s gonna happen? Maybe what’s happening now could be. We expected much slower of a burn for this, we were not expecting this to be catching on this well. We had this feeling in the studio that was like we love this, when we put out the first single "Ghosts" and there was a really good reception, there was this moment of holy shit people are into what were into!
RE: We were use to the slow burn, for about 8 years being in other bands, we were kind of ready for another slow burn and this wasn’t that at all.
AE: The fact that we kind of have that mentality really grounds us as a band as were doing anything that comes up, any opportunity we are just really grateful.

At any point did you feel weren’t on the right path and questioned what you were doing?
AE:Any questioning that happened was way before our first show even before we really finalized the mixes of our records and prepared our material for live.
NE:It was a new process; we were all drunk off that, it didn’t seem to ever be a question of is this, the right move? It just felt so right. To start a new project, start a new sound, a lot of it fell into place really nicely, and just gave us the encouragement of, this feels really good.

The band is running behind schedule, they want to grab a quick slice of pizza and make it to the venue to check out opening band Field Mouse. Tonight feels as a definite touchstone moment for the group into what is sure to be the next evolution of their lives in many ways. When I swoop into Mercury Lounge, a handful of my friends from different points in my life are there. All of us allowing the universe to carry us forward and tonight, all our points have met. On An On have shown the this greater force that they are willing to put in the work, they have passed the tests and paid their dues. When you put all your energy and passion into doing what you love and have fun doing it, the reward will be met with sweetness and grace.

The band will be playing tonight at Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn. Now go dig deep inside yourself with their first single "Ghosts."

Follow Lorenna Gomez-Sanchez on Twitter

Ava Luna Brings Magic to Mercury Lounge

It was the last night of an extensive, cross-country tour, but Ava Luna bore minimal signs of fatigue at their New York homecoming show at Mercury Lounge on Saturday night. With an opening set from the DFA-approved Sinkane, the band showcased tracks from their latest release, Ice Level. Despite the title, their sound is all warmth; front man Carlos Hernandez’s soul roots run deep, and it shows.

The crystal clear harmonies of Becca Kauffman (guitar/vocals) and Felicia Douglass (synths/vocals) bring plenty of Dirty Projectors comparisons, but they get ethereal while keeping their feet on the dance floor. (Side note: props to Kauffman for being able to pull off that Pantone orange eye shadow look.) Ice Level highlights like “No F” and “Wrenning Day” hold up solidly live, though the ambition of their sound is meant for bigger stages. With funk influences flipped into unexpected structures, delivered with precision, they should be moving on up in no time at all.

Ava Luna performs at Knitting Factory this Friday. Sinkane will be performing at Zebulon the next two Mondays and at Afropunk Festival.

Alt-J Bring Their Melodic Tunes to Brooklyn

Alt-J’s debut album is called An Awesome Wave, a fitting title for a record that’s home to some of the year’s more interesting melodies. At the Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn, the Leeds, UK psych-pop quartet showed off their ability to make a splash on this side of the Atlantic.

This was the second visit to New York for Alt-J (∆), and their first jaunt across the river to Brooklyn after another sold-out date at Mercury Lounge the night before. Their songs flirt with both the minimal and maximal, sometimes even on the same tracks, like "Breezeblocks." Buzzing synths lay the foundations on “Fitzpleasure,” while “Matilda” is pure delicacy. Frontman Joe Newman’s unique voice carries the longing-ridden “Tessellate,” and the band’s harmonies sound as crisp live as they do on record.

Though Newman expressed the requisite “I-can’t-believe-we’ve-come-here” sentiments of an international artist’s early days in America, he’s going to recognize that he’s earned it sooner than later.

An Awesome Wave will see American release in September. Stream the full album here.

Foster the People Downs the Demon Water at LexBar

It’s 6:40 on a damp evening in New York when Mark Foster, Mark Pontius, and Cubbie Fink arrive at LexBar, a posh lounge in the St. Giles – The Court hotel frequented by a certain gaggle of raven haired sisters whose names all start with K. The three young men are known collectively as Foster the People, an LA-based indie rock band that rose to prominence last summer with “Pumped Up Kicks,” an addictive party anthem about a guy looking to blast away at some fancily-shod kids with his dad’s six-shooter.

They’re in town to play a few gigs at local clubs The Box, Mercury Lounge, and Knitting Factory in support of their debut album, Torches.

Tonight is an evening to relax and sample rum cocktails by the venue’s head bartender, Drew Maloney, who boasts 25 years of experience and a master’s grasp of flavor, balance, and presentation. As we settle into the black banquette and chat about the new record, the cocktails start arriving, one after the other. What follows is an inspired, scientific, and somewhat poetic take on a decidedly tropical evening in Manhattan.

Cocktail #1, Rum-Two Punch: 1 ½ oz. Don Q Cristal rum, 1 ½ oz. Bacardi 8 rum, 1 oz. fresh guava juice, 1 oz. fresh pineapple juice, 1 oz. fresh cranberry juice, ¼ oz. fresh lime juice, ¼ oz. agave nectar. Garnish with orange slice and cherries. Mark Pontius: I like it because it’s kind of bitter, like grapefruit, which reminds me of my grandmother, who ate grapefruit every morning. It’s good in that way, but I could go sweeter. Cubbie Fink: The initial blast on the palate is tropical, like sitting on a beach, but there’s a tart aftertaste. A tropical drink should be smoother. Mark Foster: When I drink this I think about naked female pirates holding me captive and pouring it down my throat.

Cocktail #2, Strawberry Mojito: Muddle in rocks glass: 2 medium strawberries, 3 lime wedges, 1 tsp sugar, 5 mint leaves. Add ice and 2 oz. Bacardi Limon rum, splash of soda water, splash of fresh sour mix. Garnish with strawberry. MP: The strawberry is awesome, except I just tried to sip it and a mint leaf got stuck in the straw. CF: I can’t get any drink, my straw’s clogged. Okay, I’ll sip it. I’m definitely not a sweet-drink drinker, but this is really tasty. MF: It makes me think of Aunt Jemima jumping up and down on a huge stack of pancakes and tossing strawberries into the air.

Cocktail #3, Mandarin Delight: Muddle in rocks glass: 3 sections of mandarin orange, 3 lime wedges, ¼ oz. agave nectar. Add ice and 1 oz. Mount Gay Eclipse rum, 1 oz. Cointreau. Shake vigorously and top with 2 oz. Piper-Heidsieck Champagne. MP: My least favorite because it’s too sour, and I’m not a sour drink person. Good for one sip. CF: It’s kind of a shock to the senses, which I like. It has bite and good flavor. My favorite of the three so far. MF: It’s something I think Mark Twain would have loved. Even though it has mandarin in it, it still feels like a man’s drink.

Cocktail #4, Lexcolada: 2 oz. Bacardi Light rum, 1 oz. pineapple puree, 1 ½ oz. pineapple juice, 1 ½ oz. coconut milk. Garnish with pineapple slice. MP: This hits my heart. Before I was 21, I used to order virgin Piña Coladas, the kind from the machine. This is better than that, and boozier. CF: It’s as if I bored to the center of a coconut and somehow found alcohol and other ingredients in there. It’s like chewing on coconut milk. Definitely the best Piña Colada I’ve ever had. MF: I could wake up and have this with cereal.

Cocktail #5, Mai Tai: 1 ½ oz. Mount Gay Eclipse rum, ¼ oz. orgeat syrup, ½ oz. pineapple juice, ½ oz. lime juice, ¼ oz. grenadine. Garnish with lime. MP: This is actually the first Mai Tai I’ve ever had, and it’s great. My first thought was of a chocolate bar. CF: It’s a Mai Tai that’s been brought to the city. It has some edge that a Mai Tai on the beach lacks. There’s a creamy aftertaste that’s really interesting. MF: The first thing I thought of when I sipped it was Freddy Mercury, because he was so tough on the outside and tender on the inside. Actually, my first thought was leather, and that brought me to Freddy Mercury. It’s an S&M drink. It’s a muscular man that likes other muscular men.

Gig Guide 2/15 – 2/21: NYC’s Top Indie Rock Shows

Lady Gaga is coming to town, but before you participate in that HBO-documented debauchery, catch Ween and the Walkmen, new indie darling Darwin Deez, Interpol, and Crystal Stilts make their way to a music hall near you. Les Savy Fav, Lou Reed, and the Church round out this week’s Gig Guide.

Tuesday, February 15th

Who: Wild Nothing, Abe Vigoda @: 285 Kent Avenue, 8:00 PM Tickets: $10

Who: Drive-By Truckers @: Bowery Ballroom, 8:00 PM Tickets: $25 Details: DBT hits the road in honor of their new country/soul album, Go-Go Boots, (Feb. 15th) which the Wall Street Journal says is “awash with the primordial soul sounds of the Muscle Shoals, Alabama region—home to a majority of the band—which rose to fame in the 1960s when musicians such as Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and The Rolling Stones recorded in the area’s studios.”

Who: Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, Buke and Gass @: The Stone, 10:00 PM Tickets: $40 Details: Not only have they been curating the February performance line up at The Stone, they’ll also be playing the venue tonight. Prior to, get in the Lou mood by catching MoMA exhibit Andy Warhol: Motion Pictures, and think back to the days when Andy used to boss Reed around as the manager of The Velvet Underground. The show runs until March 21, 2011.

Wednesday, February 16th

Who: Les Savy Fav, 1,2,3, Big Troubles @: Bowery Ballroom, 8:00 PM Tickets: $15 Details: New York City based indie/art rockers Les Savy Fav have a post-hardcore edge that is awesome to see unfold live. Here they are at Solar One: A softer track, “What Would Wolves Do?” has been their calling card:

Who: The Church @: Highline Ballroom, 8:00 PM Tickets: $39.50 Details: If you don’t know The Church, here’s a crash course: Australian rock circa 1980. Early influence was New Wave, morphed into psych-rock, and now sounds more like progressive rock—with extended jams that sound like all of the above (The Psychedelic Furs and Echo & The Bunnymen are contemporaries). Because of a special edition reissue of four albums—Starfish, Gold Afternoon Fix, Priest = Aura, and Sometime Anywhere—the Sydney band will be playing three of the four albums in full.

Who: Fitz and the Tantrums, Devin Therriault @: Music Hall of Williamsburg, 8:00PM Tickets: $12 advance, $14 door Details: Think Maroon 5 (whom they’ve opened for) with a little more funk/soul.

Who: The Silent League, ARMS, Inlets, Your Youth, Thunder and Lightning @: Pianos, 6:00PM Tickets: $6 Details: The Brooklyn charmers are so “awww.” See?

Thursday, February 17th

Who: The Beets, German Measles, Big Troubles, The Beach Arabs @: 285 Kent Avenue, 8:00PM Tickets: $8

Who: Dream Diary, Gypsy Death & You, Telenovelas, Young Boys, Dutch Treat @: Death by Audio, 8:00PM Tickets: Free!

Who: Tamaryn, Religious To Damn @: Don Hill’s, 8:00PM Tickets: It’s Don Hill’s! Pay for your booze and listen to the smooth crooning of this San Fran chick, Tamaryn.

Who: Interpol, School of Seven Bells @: Radio City Music Hall, 7:00PM Tickets: $29.50 Details: Paul Banks and company didn’t get the best reviews for their recent self-titled offering, but their live show reviews have been stellar.

Friday, February 18th

Who: Crystal Stilts, Beach Fossils, Widowspeak @: 285 Kent Avenue, 8:00PM Tickets: $10 Details: “Converging in Quiet” is the track by Crystal Stilts that best describes their sound: rolling lazily along in a tempered tone until it suddenly becomes buoyant with energy. Does that make sense? If anything, enjoy their drummer’s stylings: he prefers to stand-up, taking after The Velvet Underground’s drummer Maureen “Moe” Tucker. We’ve already waxed poetic about Beach Fossils, so go to see them both.

Who: Le Mood, Des Roar @: Santos Party House, 7:00PM Tickets: $10 Details: Florida natives Le Mood have been on the New York City scene for years—and their following proves it. Their debut full-length LP “Adventures In Stereo” has been described by Outright Rock as “a perfectly crafted indie pop record – upbeat, insightful, infectious, retro, and even a bit psychedelic. The songs are deeply melodic, full of energy and feeling, and showcase the band’s superb songwriting skills.” We agree!

Saturday, February 19th

Who: Darwin Deez, Friends @: Bowery Ballroom, 8:00PM Tickets: $13 advance, $15 door Details: If you’re into that whole “next big thing in music” scene, you do not to miss Darwin’s show. Same goes for folks into dancing around in a hippy-clappy, fell-good way.

Who: Peaches, Creep @: Good Units, 10:00PM Tickets: $15 advance, $20 door.

Who: Celebration, Microkingdom, High Life @: Death by Audio, 8:00PM Tickets: $10 Details: Celebration, a Baltimore-based band, claims it’s significantly influenced by cabaret culture, but sounds a bit more like a cross between soul and psych rock.

Who: Yann Tiersen, Breathe Owl Breathe @: Highline Ballroom, 7:00 PM Tickets: $25 advance, $30 door Details: Yann Tiersen plays pretty music, and conducts a sort of indie symphony that huge crowds go wild for. Fans of the film Amélie already know his arrangements:

Sunday, February 20th

Who: Air Waves, Easter Vomit, The Sanctuaries @: Bruar Falls, 8:00 PM Tickets: $7

Who: Gene Ween (of Ween!), Hamilton Leithauser (of The Walkmen!), David Dondero (formerly of Sunbrain!) @: Cameo Gallery, 8:00PM Tickets: $21.78 Details: Noncerts (a charity showcase with all proceeds going to Brooklyn’s public schools) brings together the awesomeness of Ween with the awesomeness of The Walkmen. Legends, I tell you! And let’s not forget David Dondero, whom NPR‘s All Songs Considered once named as one of the “best living songwriters” alongside Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Tom Waits.

Who: My Teenage Stride, Widowspeak, The Poison Control Center, Crinkles @: Mercury Lounge, 7:00PM Tickets: $10 Details: However ironic it is that My Teenage Stride calls themselves both “glam” and “minimalist,” the characterization works for them. They’re both twee, and fake English, which sort of gives them a posturing persona akin to Joy Division, The Smiths, and Jesus & the Mary Chain.

Monday, February 21st

Who: Lady Gaga @: Madison Square Garden, 8:00 PM Tickets: $54 Details: Perhaps the only show you’ll see this week since you’ll have to save up $54 bucks, but isn’t it worth it?

Gig Guide 2/8 – 2/15: NYC’s Top Indie Rock Shows

For some, this week marks the start of Fashion Week, a time when “front row” means sitting stiffly next to editors and celebrities as a barrage of waifs cascade down a lit runway. For music lovers, “front row” this week will mean getting sweated on by The National, Huey Lewis and the News, and Theophilus London. Here’s the best of the week’s musical acts.

Tuesday, February 8th

Who: Deerhoof, Ben Butler & Mousepad, Buke and Gass, Nervous Cop @: Europa Tickets: $15

Who: The National @: The Studio at Webster Hall, 8PM Tickets: Sold Out Details: The “MTV Live in NYC” show sold out in 1 second. Good luck scalping at the door!

Who: Gang of Four, Hollerado @: Webster Hall, 7PM Tickets: $37

Wednesday, February 9th

Who: Nicole Atkins & The Black Sea, The Gay Blades, Mon Khmer @: Bowery Ballroom, 8PM Tickets: $16 advance, $18 door Details: After making some adjustments in her band, which now features Christopher Donofrio on drums, Brad York on guitars, and Anthony Chick on bass, Nicole Atkins has changed the name from “Nicole Atkins and the Sea” to “Nicole Atkins and the Black Sea.” On top of the shuffling, Atkins has severed ties with Columbia Records, and has released her newest album, Mondo Amore, on Razor and Tie Records.

Who: Huey Lewis And The News @: Gramercy Theatre, 8PM Tickets: $49

Who: Soft Landing @: Matchless, 8PM Tickets: Not Listed Details: Here’s a little live bit when Soft Landing played Lit Lounge. Thursday, February 10

Who: Free Blood, Lymbyc System @: Brooklyn Bowl, 8:00PM Tickets: $5 advance, $7 door Details: Brooklyn New York’s Free Blood formed in 2003, and is in the RCRD LBL family. Their catchy dance tunes are more arty than poppy, and are almost sinister in some effect. Bonus point: Their music is featured on the 127 Hours soundtrack, and in this trailer:

Who: Titus Andronicus, Care Bears On Fire, Toy Sugar, Deux Chattes @: Mercury Lounge, 7:30PM Tickets: $20 Details: Shoegaze/Punk rockers Titus team up with the teen rock group, Care Bears On Fire (who started their band before they were 12 years old) for the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls Benefit tonight.

Friday, February 11th

Who: Josh Joplin, Jill Andrews @: 92Y Tribeca Tickets: $12 Details: Josh Joplin’s crooning sounds nearly identical to REM’s Michael Stipe. It’s a little creepy.

Who: Javelin, High Life, Monster Rally @: Glasslands, 8:30PM Tickets: $10 Details: Pitchfork accolades for Javelin, the “Punk/R&B” Brooklyn band, include: “Rising” artist, one of the “Albums of the Year” and has been mentioned under Pitchfork’s “Best New Music” category. They headline Glassland’s “Stuff Hipsters Hate” party.

Who: Colour Revolt, A Great Big Pile Of Leaves, Your Skull My Closet @: Knitting Factory Brooklyn, 8:00PM Tickets: $12 Details: The Mississippi band, Colour Revolt, play pretty, expressive indie rock widely considered to be underrated, which has earned them an enthusiastic following. This is their “music video” for “Mattressess Under Water.”

Saturday, February 12

Who: Sun Airway, Nightlands, Warm Ghost, Dinowalrus @: Glasslands, 8:30PM Tickets: $8 advance, $10 door

Who: Screaming Females, Laura Stevenson & The Cans, Shellshag, Lemuria, Byrds of Paradise @: Music Hall of Williamsburg, 7:00PM Tickets: $10 advance, $12 door Details: Don Giovanni Records Showcase

Who: The Forms @: The Rock Shop, 8:00PM Tickets: $10 Details: Mac Randall of The New York Observer described the band as “aggro-artsy trio fond of awkward time signatures, sly rhythmic manipulation, curlicuing vocal lines, and giving one song two separate track numbers for no obvious reason.” This is their album release party for “Derealization + Icarus.”

Who: Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band @: Webster Hall, 7:00PM Tickets: $25

Who: The Library Is On Fire, The Party of Helicopters @: Tliofhq Loft Space, 8:00PM Tickets: Not Priced Details: Loft party alert! See the swaggering, concrete punk rockers, TLIOF at their head quarters: The Tliofhq Loft Space at 114 Forrest St. 3c in Brooklyn!

Sunday, February 13th

Who: Wild Nothing, Abe Vigoda, MINKS @: Bowery Ballroom, 8:00PM Tickets: $13 advance, $15 door

Who: Bear Hands @: In Vino Wine Bar, 7:30PM Tickets: $25 Details: Tickets to see this post-punk/experimental/indie rock act includes 4 glasses of wine.

Monday, February 15th

Who: Theophilus London, PoPo, New Look @: Music Hall of Williamsburg, 8:00PM Tickets: $13 advance, $15 door Details: Theophilus London is a mixtape man (This Charming Man tape mashed up The Smiths and Elvis Costello) and joined Mark Ronson to form the band Chauffeur.

Gig Guide 2/1 – 2/7: The Week’s Top Rock

Lia Ices makes an entrance, Rhett Miller and Prince return (again?), while the Hundred in the Hands, Woods, and The Suzan round out the week’s cant-miss shows.

Tuesday, February 1st

Who: Panic! at the Disco @: Bowery Ballroom, 7:30PM Tickets: $20 Who: Lia Ices @: Joe’s Pub, 9:30PM Tickets: $12 Details: The Brooklyn based beauty, Lia Ices, is prime for Cat Power stardom. She’s talented and beautiful, and has an inquisitive voice that envelops like a light spring rain. If you think my description is too flowery, see her live and tell me you don’t agree.

Wednesday, February 2nd

Who: Holy Ghost! @: Mercury Lounge, 6:30PM Tickets: $12

Who: The Radio Dept., Young Prisms @: Music Hall of Williamsburg, 8:00PM Tickets: $20 Details: I cannot think of a more perfect venue to enjoy The Radio Dept in the middle of a blizzard.

Who: Best Coast, Wavves, No Joy @: Webster Hall, 7:00PM Tickets: $20 Details: This might as well be an Urban Outfitters mix tape—so expect a similar crowd. You really cannot go wrong with this lineup, all have experienced recent success with a devoted following. They’ll also get together at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Thursday (2/3) for the same price.

Thursday, February 3rd

Who: Joseph Arthur, Greg Laswell @: City Winery, 8:00PM Tickets: $15 Details: Joseph Arthur also plays with Jesse Malin at City Winery at 8:30 PM On Saturday (2/5). Who: White Ring, Blissed Out, Von Haze, Pictureplane (DJ Set) @: Santos Party House, 8:00PM Tickets: $10 Details: White Ring is a dark, trance-inspired duo, that’s just as blissful as it is creepy.

Who: Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Deluka, Infernal Devices @: The Bell House, 7:30PM Tickets: $15

Friday, February 4th

Who: Rhett Miller @: City Winery, 8:30PM Tickets: $18 Details: Rhett Miller, still a heartthrob; even better while gazing at him through the bottom of your wine glass. He’s got a new self-titled album, but will also be touring with the Old 97’s later this spring.

Who: Tapes ‘n Tapes, Oberhofer, Xylos @: Music Hall of Williamsburg, 8:30PM Tickets: $17 Details: Indie rockers Tapes ‘n Tapes just released their third album, Outside. Listen for the gem, “The Saddest of All Keys.”

Who: Woods, Ducktails, Metal Mountains @: Monster Island Basement, 8:00PM Tickets: Free? Details: Folk/Psych rockers Woods play the awesome gallery/music space on the Brooklyn waterfront.

Who: Chromeo, MNDR, The Suzan @: Terminal 5, 8:00PM Tickets: $25 Details: I cannot believe this show is only $25! MNDR and The Suzan are the most talked about artists of 2011, along with veterans, Chromeo.

Saturday February 5th

Who: Beach Fossils, Widowspeak, The Royal Chains @: Cameo Gallery, 8:00PM Details: The Cameo Gallery, a “live art space,” is a great place to host the lo-fi/surf rock/dreamy Beach Fossils. Check out their gorgeous sound once described in a Youtube comment “bleeding bbq sauce & rum.”

Who: The Vandelles, Mean Creek, The Party Faithful, Boom Chick @: Pianos, 8:00PM Tickets: $10 Details: The LAST FM bio reads: The Vandelles are rock n’ roll noir at its finest. Their songs are the perfect soundtrack to rain-slicked city streets at night, and the lust, betrayal and violence that filters through them. The band thrives on layers of fuzz and a wall of reverb-laden guitar noise, and they also harbor a penchant for 60s garage pop melody and surf rock riffs.

Who: Robyn @: Radio City Music Hall, 7:00PM Tickets: $39.50 Details: The woman that needs no introduction except for maybe “Show Me Love.”

Sunday, February 6th

Who: Neko Case, Lost in the Trees @: The Bell House, 8:00PM Tickets: $35 Details: Everyone’s crush plays at everyone’s favorite venue=a match made in heaven.

Monday February 7th

Who: Friendly Fires, Hundred In The Hands @: Bowery Ballroom, 8:00PM Tickets: $20 Details: Everyone has been digging Friendly Fires, but please give your attention to the talented electro-pop duo, The Hundred in the Hands, who released their first studio album on the label WARP (other artists include Vincent Gallo, Autecture, and Brian Eno). They are named after the phrase the Lakota Nation gave to the Fetterman Battle of 1866 in Wyoming (in which Crazy Horse led his warriors to a victory that resulted in the death of 100 enemies).

Who: Prince @: Madison Square Garden, 8:00PM Tickets: Check Here Details: The legend must be enjoying his time here, as he just played a couple of weeks ago.

Gig Guide: This Week’s Top Indie Rock Shows

The Decemberists play a couple of gigs to show off their shiny new album, White Lies performs at Highline Ballroom, Peter Bjorn and John throw a late-night throw-down at The Rock Shop, and Real Estate sidles up to Andy Rourke of The Smiths at Union Hall — my list this week’s not-to-be missed indie shows.

Tuesday, January 25

Who: The Decemberists, Wye Oak @: Beacon Theater, 8:00 PM Tickets: $39.50 Details: Touring with a spanking new album, The Decemberists will also play Beacon on Wednesday night.

Who: Suuns, Takka Takka, Milagres @:The Rock Shop, 8:00 PM Tickets: $10 Details: Secretly Canadian’s Suuns play electronica/shoegaze alongside Takka Takka’s gorgeous, melodic indie rock. Highly recommend the show—either band could be headlining, so don’t be late.

Wednesday, January 26th

Who: Yuck, Total Slacker, Fergus & Geronimo @: Glasslands, 8:00 PM Tickets: $10

Who: Liz Phair @: Music Hall of Williamsburg, 8:00 PM Tickets: $25

Thursday, January 27 Who: Cloud Runner (Comprised of Matisyahu and friends) @: Bowery Ballroom, 8:00 PM Tickets: $17 advance, $20 door

Who: White Lies, Asobi Seksu @: Highline Ballroom, 7:00 PM Tickets: $20 advance, $22 door Details: White Lies, an indie trio that sounds like Tears for Fears and Echo & the Bunnymen, has been making all sort of toplists in London since 2009. They’ll pair nicely with opener Asobi Seksu’s dream pop sound.

Friday, January 28

Who: Peter Bjorn and John @: The Rock Shop, 11:00 PM Tickets: $10

Saturday, January 29th

Who: Mission of Burma, Grandfather @: The Bell House, 8:00 PM Tickets: $20 Details: Can’t miss 80’s post punk rockers, Mission of Burma, take the stage at one of Brooklyn’s best venues.

Who: Beach Fossils, A Place to Bury Strangers, Caveman, Guards, ARMS, Dreamers of the Ghetto (I Guess I’m Floating 5-Year Party) @: Glasslands, 8:00 PM Tickets: $12 advance, $14 door

Who: Baby Dayliner, Five O’Clock Heroes @: Mercury Lounge, 10:00 PM Tickets: $10

Who: Iron and Wine, Edie Brickell @: Radio City Music Hall, 8:00 PM Tickets: $51.55

Who: Real Estate, Andy Rourke (The Smiths) @: Union Hall, 8:00 PM Tickets: $15

Sunday, January 30

Who: The Hold Steady, The Gay Blades @: Music Hall of Williamsburg” title=”Music Hall of Williamsburg”>Music Hall of Williamsburg, 8:00 PM Tickets: $25

NYC Rockers The Rassle Are a Band on the Verge

New York’s new supergroup, The Rassle, made up of ex- members of The Young Lords, The Virgins, and the Takeover UK, are certifiably blowing up. They released their debut four-song EP only a few months ago (available as a free download on their website), instantly earning a following on the Lower East Side music scene – and beyond. From collaborating with J.Crew on a stylish video to playing three shows during this year’s CMJ festival, The Rassle are attracting a wide and growing audience with their super-catchy, feel-good pop. Brothers Blair and Reed Van Nort, exhausted and stressed, found time during their busy CMJ schedule to sit down and talk with us to talk about their band, their brand, and their television addiction.

How’s CMJ been treating you? Blair: It’s been really good, actually. We play festivals like this because the industry is here. We don’t actually anticipate that the industry is going to come see us, because there are so many other bands playing, but I think it’s been good for us so far. Reed: I think the festival allowed us to reach a lot of new people that we probably wouldn’t have reached otherwise. People who stumbled upon us, or who happened to be there. I met tons of people who said that we really won them over.

You guys have created a lot of hype in a short amount of time. How much of that is due to your former bands? R: It’s beneficial that we’re all coming from different projects. It’s not like starting from square one. We have our past projects that people can take a frame of reference from. If they were fans, they’re more inclined to check out what we’re doing now. B: Being a new band, it’s helpful to have that background behind us. It gives people a placeholder for having interest in our music. R: A lot of the hype started when we launched everything a couple of months ago, because we decided to give away the songs for free. We were only going to do it for a short time, but people just started spreading our EP. I think that’s been really helpful as well.

What are you trying to accomplish with The Rassle that you couldn’t do with your former projects? R: When we wrote these songs, we were pretty much experimenting with everything. We had no defined idea of what we wanted the new band to sound like. We had songs and structures but we took our time playing with different synth sounds and piano sounds, trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t. B: The liberating thing about being in a new band is that we aren’t pigeonholed into a certain sound or genre. We’re trying to avoid that with this new project. We didn’t really have one guiding principle for what we wanted to sound like or what we wanted to be about, we just knew to write pop songs that weren’t stupid, and we didn’t want to dumb it down. We all have lots of different influences and music that we like, and we tried to bring all of those influences together. Everything from ‘50s rockabilly to punk, from the ‘70s and new wave. R: I think that’s the greatest thing about this band. We’re all coming from different backgrounds, but it’s very cohesive. People have told us that our music doesn’t sound like one specific band, like The Rolling Stones or The Smiths. Everybody has a different take on it. B: That’s one of the things that we’ve learned from our past experiences. We’re conscious of being creative and inventive enough musically, that we’re not getting pigeonholed as this band that just sounds like the Stones or the Clash or the Strokes.

Your EP is very DIY, recorded in your apartment. How did working from home affect the creative process? B: With our last band, we didn’t have any of our own recordings because we were always at the mercy of whatever producer/friend of ours could help us out with. But when Reed was in college he learned how to produce. It wasn’t a conscious thing; we were making demos, and the demos took on a life of their own because we could spend a lot of time working on them. You can’t really do that in a studio. R: Working from home was also sometimes really difficult. It took us about a month and a half to get everything tracked, because we would work for like 4 hours, and then be like, ‘Oh, we should really take a lunch break and go watch Sports Center for a couple of hours. B: Yeah ,Sports Center got us in a lot of trouble. B: Basically, recording from home was a convenience thing. We had the tools, we sort of knew how to do it, and it was just easier.

Has it been hard to translate your recorded songs for your live shows? R: That was one of our main concerns, but it’s actually been really good. We wrapped up the mixing and mastering in February, and we didn’t play until May. So we rehearsed for about two months. It took some figuring out but I think we got it down. Also, we weren’t trying to rush anything with starting this band. B: We felt that it was important to have really good recordings when we launched rather than having shitty demos. We didn’t want people to imagine what we could sound like. We took the time to make it sound great, rather than getting ahead of ourselves and being super excited and throwing some shit up on Myspace.

Let’s talk about the J. Crew Video. How do you find it plays into the image of your band? Working with J. Crew brought you guys into bigger, more mainstream media, like The New York Times. B: In terms of image, Reed and Eric and I came from bands that had a pretty heavy fashion content, but we were concerned that the J. Crew video would make people put style before substance. Personally, I was worried that it was going to make us look like assholes, but the video was done really well and tactfully. It turned out twice as good as I thought it would. R: I don’t think there are different style expectations of us now. I think J. Crew has rebranded themselves in such a way that they are catering to a younger, more indie style. B: When we talked about whether we should do it or not, we agreed that J. Crew is a label that we all like and can get behind. It’s just about getting behind things we appreciate. I grew up with J. Crew thinking that their brand was this iconic thing. J. Crew was the man, this iconic awesome dude. The handsome, rugged man. Now they’re on their way towards being something that everyone – mainstream and indie – likes.

Do you feel some sort of responsibility to be style trendsetters? B: We haven’t really thought about it that much. Becoming a style icon doesn’t happen over a couple of days or months. It happens over years, and in different ways. Sometimes it’s the inverse, and people come after you because you are style icons. You’re MGMT because you dress weird, or you’re Vampire Weekend because you dress preppy. With The Rassle, we all dress too differently to be style icons. We don’t have a uniform look. I love the British invasion bands who all wore suits, but we don’t want to be a band who gets credit in a magazine for what we’re wearing. None of us really have money right now to afford very cool clothes, anyway.

How has the video benefited you guys? B: When you’re in a new band, doing something like the video, that has such a scope in terms of its viewership, has been great. It’s hard these days to do things that help you reach a new audience. And I don’t think that we ever perceived The Rassle as a Brooklyn scenester band. We don’t really give a shit about scenesters. For us it was more exciting because it expanded the amount of people that could actually hear our music. And it was fun working with J. Crew because everyone there is such a sweetheart. And they gave us store credit to get new wardrobes.

What’s next for you guys? B: We’re recording right now. We’ve been so busy playing shows and doing J. Crew videos – ha, kidding. We’ve just been so busy rehearsing and getting ready for shows. We’re going to try to take some time and only do two shows a month so that we have more time to finish arranging and recording new songs, and keep people engaged with what we’re doing.

Any plans to tour? B: We plan on doing month-long residencies in major cities. We definitely plan on playing outside of New York, but it’s hard to get a tour together. We have a van and some money saved up, so we can definitely do it on our own, but there are a lot of other factors to consider beyond our desire to tour. To do it properly you need a booking agent and all these other things to make it happen. R: We’ve done some regional stuff, but we definitely need to get out. B: That’s one of the next steps, touring and putting out a proper record. I think we’re all pretty antsy to get on the road and play for a lot of new audiences because it gets kind of boring to play in New York. R: How is it boring? B: It’s boring in the same way if you’re in Chicago and you play 20 shows in Chicago. R: There are thirteen million people in New York. B: I just mean we don’t have the opportunity to play in front of a ton of new people every show. I look forward to touring because I like playing to different crowds.

What’s your favorite place to play in NY? R: Mercury Lounge is my favorite place to play right now.

What do you when you’re not working on The Rassle? R: I watch a lot of cop dramas on TV. I got into NCIS only recently because LL Cool J is on it. We’re so busy between working and doing band stuff that it’s really strange to consider what we do for fun. DJing is fun but it’s still work. But with DJing, we get to share music that we like with other people. That’s why it’s such an awesome job; you’re essentially just Dr. Fun, Dr. Feelgood. B: We find creative ways to do fun work with the band. We want to do funny film sketches, just to have content for fans to see that we’re not serious brooding musicians. but that we’re just dorky and funny. We’re working on trying to get together different music video projects with friends. We’re silk-screening our own t-shirts. R: Everything is pretty much DIY at this point. But that’s part of our aesthetic and spirit. We’re all old punks, essentially. We grew up doing that stuff.

Photo by Jimmy Fontaine