Category: Columns


This article first appeared at No Ripcord on October 25, 2016.

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It’s a little after 10 p.m. on a Saturday night and the crowd at Sunnyvale in Brooklyn is silent and enraptured. Onstage, Emily Jane White’s fingers glide over the keys as she sings Hands, her voice echoing out and filling every inch of space in the venue. This is the reaction that meets White for most songs in her set, followed by applause and shouts of approval.
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pj-harvey

Whenever an artist goes on tour, every fan is coming up with her or his own personal wishlist of what songs they want to hear. There are the expected hits and the new album tracks, but what else will be performed? Will there be a live debut of an old album track? Will a b-side be brushed off for the first time in a decade? These are the songs that deserve a comeback. This is “Play It Live!”

With her new album, The Hope Six Demolition Project, PJ Harvey is set to embark on her first tour in four years. Now on her ninth album, there are tons of songs that are due for a resurgence. Given the heavier and rougher vibe found on her latest LP, some of her older, blues and punk-inspired tracks may fit better with the new material than Let England Shake. With her tour set to kick off in France on June 1, here are 10 songs that I hope will make an appearance.

A Perfect Day Elise
Last Played In: 2004
Is This Desire? is one of Harvey’s most underrated works and A Perfect Day Elise is one of the record’s masterpieces. With an almost beatbox rhythm and shimmering guitar, it signaled an evolution from the in-your-face blues of To Bring You My Love. When Harvey rises above the claustrophobic musical atmosphere for the chorus, it’s an instantly memorable moment. Many casual fans may not be familiar with this song or this record. A comeback here would give Harvey a chance to fix that.

Good Fortune
Last Played In: 2010
It’s no surprise to anyone going to a PJ Harvey show that it can get a bit intense, particularly given the lyrical source of the last two albums. So, what better way to add a sense of relief than with this pop-rock song that is one of the catchiest Harvey has ever written. With lines about Chinatown, Little Italy and the like, it should at least make an appearance when she plays New York City.

Legs
Last Played In: 2003
A weird, distorted mess that’s insanely captivating. That’s the best way to describe this Rid of Me track. There’s a reason it kept popping up in Harvey’s live show for 10 years. The vocal, which has her screaming, crying, yodeling and ripping her voice apart, may be tough for Harvey to pull off nowadays, but in the right spot, it could be a devastating throwback to her early days.

Long Snake Moan
Last Played In: 1995
How has this song been missing from Harvey’s set for so long? To put it simply, it fucking rocks. With an incredibly-fuzzed out groove and a leathery vocal, it’s easily one of the most overlooked pieces in her catalog. Given that Harvey brought the distorted guitars back for her latest album, there’s no reason why this song shouldn’t return with them. Did I mention that it fucking rocks?

Shame
Last Played In: 2010
This Uh Huh Her track is all about Harvey’s delivery, jumping from a deep growl to a high-pitched, panicked yelp. In the meantime, guitar chords form a taut rhythm and a harmonica jitters along. This would be a great, quick pick to slow things down while keeping a crowd’s rapt attention.

Who the Fuck?
Last Played In: 2010
The Hope Six Demolition Project contains some of the heaviest and most aggressive songs she’s written since Uh Huh Her. So what better time to revive the kiss-off of Who the Fuck? With a squawking guitar riff that almost sounds out-of-tune and Harvey’s curse-laden rant, it’s a fan favorite that will get anyone’s blood pressure rising. Her last two albums deal some weighty themes. Give the crowd and band a chance to shake the spectre off.

The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore
Last Played In: 2010
While much of The Hope Six Demolition Project focuses on war-torn locations like Kosovo and Afghanistan, a good portion of the record looks at the social strife found in Washington D.C. Given that most of Harvey’s discography focuses more on the personal and has only recently swung political, let’s split the difference with this abrasive track from Stories From The City, Stories From The City. Among violence, drug abuse and greed, Harvey reaches out for a human connection. The message fits her new album, and would fit a current setlist, perfectly.

The Wind
Last Played In: 1998
This single from Is This Desire? hasn’t appeared since it’s initial run. That’s a shame, as it has a palpable tension, driven by Harvey’s whispering throughout the song. The vocal matches the chapel imagery, as if she’s almost alone in a church and knows anything above a whisper will reveal her confession to strangers. This track would fit right alongside the spiritual hymn of River Anacostia from her last LP.

Working for the Man
Last Played In: 2004
With a slinking, shaking bass line and a creepy guitar melody, this is definitely one of Harvey’s creepiest numbers. Her half-whispered, half-moaned vocals only add to sense of foreboding, like she’s trying to get you to lean in and listen, but you’re scared of what will happen if you do. Maybe such a quiet, offputting piece won’t work for a festival. But for a club? All Harvey needs to do is turn out the lights, play the song and let the crowd’s imagination do the rest.

You Come Through
Last Played In: 2004
With a clattering, naturalistic rhythm and an accordion humming in the background, this is one of Uh Huh Her’s most unexpected treasures. It truly sounds unique in Harvey’s catalog. With so many songs to choose from for a live set, it makes sense to bring back one that truly stands alone in instrumentation and vibe.

5. Grimes – Art Angels

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While I enjoyed Visions, I thought it had a few good songs and a lot of alright filler tunes. I was expecting something similar from Grimes this year, but I was blown away by the quality of this album. Besides the poor inclusion of Scream, every other song offers something to enjoy, with a few out-and-out classics. The run from Flesh Without Blood through Artangels is utterly fantastic. It really feels like Grimes came out with both arms swinging after all the bullshit she dealt with over the last couple of years. She’s somehow made an album that’s stranger and more accessible than her previous work. Either way, it’s definitely her best release so far.

Highlights: Flesh Without Blood, Kill v Maim, Artangels

4. Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase.

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This is Steven Wilson’s best release since Insurgentes. This album does what Wilson does best, by combining his various influences and interests into songs that range from prog-epics to pop-rock songs. Even though this is a concept album, the themes aren’t heavy-handed in the lyrics, instead relying on relatable lyrics and memorable segments, such as those found on the lovely title track. There’s hardly any guitar noodling or flute interludes on this record and the only song that veers close to The Raven That Refused to Sing, Ancestral, is better than nearly everything on that previous effort. I hope this year’s EP gives us something similar and Wilson keeps his gift for melody at the forefront of his work from now on.

Highlights: Hand Cannot Erase, Home Invasion, Happy Returns

3. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

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This may be the best band reunion album ever released. I know Sleater-Kinney said it was a hiatus in 2005, but it really felt like a split in the intervening years. This is an explosive comeback, tightly wound into 10 furious songs. The way the opening riff of Price Tag weaves its way throughout the whole track, the harmonies on the title track and the grungy guitar riff that kicks off No Anthems are just a few moments that capture this band at the height of its powers. I can’t think of one filler track on this record and it’s quickly risen in my ranking for Sleater-Kinney’s discography.

Highlights: A New Wave, No Cities to Love, Bury Our Friends

2. Florence and the Machine – How Big How Blue How Beautiful

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After Ceremonials, I was left disappointed with Florence. That album lost much of the attitude and variety I got when listening to Lungs. But I think HBHBHB is her best album yet. I love how much What Kind of Man rocks, the R.E.M. jangle in Ship to Wreck and the groove of Delilah. Plus, while Florence still shows off her pipes, I like that she draws back for subtle, restrained performances on a few tracks like St. Jude as well.

Highlights: What Kind of Man, How Big How Blue How Beautiful, Mother

1. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Just Sit And Think and Sometimes I Just Sit

CourtneyBarnett

What an incredible album. It’s rare that an artist’s debut is so fully realized. Every song here had something that grabbed my attention, whether it was a turn of phrase, Barnett’s shredding or just melodies that get trapped in your head. Some of my favorite lyricists of recent years have been those who use their wit to get to the core of a character. Gareth Campesinos is a master at this, but Barnett does it to humorous and devastating effect in equal measure. Everyone talks about the storytelling in Depreston, which is incredible, but she seems to put the same effort into the quick numbers like Aqua Profunda! I haven’t listened to any other album more this year. It is a stunningly good record.

Highlights: Pedestrian at Best, Depreston, Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party

 

10. Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool

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Wolf Alice is cool. Everything about the four-piece makes them likable, from their name to their ability to kick it up several notches any moment. But what may be the most noticeable on their debut is how effortlessly they switch up their style from one track to the next. Going from the serene Turn to Dust to the highway rock of Bros to the heavy reverb-laden riffs of Your Loves Whore shouldn’t work at all. But Wolf Alice expresses such grace and confidence that you’re willing to follow them down any musical paths they’re willing to take. If you do, you’ll be rewarded with songs like the face-melting, anthem-ready Moaning Lisa Smile. And that’s just the first four songs. It doesn’t let up from there. Say hello to this year’s best new band.

Highlights: Moaning Lisa Smile, Fluffy, Bros

9. Laura Marling – Short Movie

ShortMovie

When you record an album as beloved as Once I Was An Eagle, it looms like a mountain over whatever you do next. For a follow-up, you can either try to replicate that previous record’s success or you can do something new. Laura Marling, not one for sequels, went for the latter, crafting an expressive addition to her body of work with Short Movie. To do so, she stepped outside the traditional musical language of folk music, bringing in electric guitars for the first time. It doesn’t seem like a huge step, but for the reinvigorated Marling, she had a new set of songwriting tools. The results are songs like the electrifying False Hope, about Hurricane Sandy’s impact on New York, the door slam of Don’t Let Me Bring You Down and the dusty Howl. Five albums in, and she’s as brilliant as ever.

Highlights: False Hope, I Feel Your Love, Strange

8. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – After

after

Like her debut, Ripely Pine, Lady Lamb’s gift for melody, her odd and sticky lyrics and her conversational voice are intriguing throughout nearly every song. Her homemade, casual approach, combined with her off-kilter way with words and melodies, make her one of the most original voices to come out of this decade. After isn’t perfect, but it’s certainly an album that sounds as strong and mysterious the first time and 10th time you listen to it.

Highlights: Billions of Eyes, Heretic, Milk Duds

7. Torres – Sprinter

Sprinter

Mackenzie Scott doesn’t know what to do with her demons. Over the course of the beautifully raw, wrenching Sprinter, the woman known as Torres screams her lungs out on Strange Hellos, smirks her way through Cowboy Guilt and embraces denial on Ferris Wheel. “I am a tired woman/In January I will just be 23,” Scott sings mournfully on New Skin, her fingers picking away at the fretboard. While Scott turns the mirror to herself for her sophomore effort, everyone is shaped by their environment. No one leaves here unscathed. Over the title track’s guitar crunch, she blames the flaws in her church as a reason to leave her life in Georgia behind, both running away and running towards something. This introspection reaches a devastating peak on Son, You Are No Island, a harrowing maelstrom of betrayal from God’s perspective, and on The Exchange, detailing an adoptive parent and slowly diving into the topic of suicide. “I’m underwater,” Scott breathes, barely managing to get the words out. It’s a captivating end to an album that mixes the personal and the spiritual, where Scott pours out her secrets, loathing and love. When it’s all said and done though, there’s one word that fits Sprinter best: revelation.

Highlights: Strange Hellos, Son You Are No Island, Sprinter

6. The Decemberists – What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World

the-decemberists-what-a-terrible-world-what-a-beautiful-world

I’m not a huge Decemberists fan. I often feel their cleverness can too often slide into pretentiousness, with unrelatable characters and needlessly complex vocabulary. I liked The Hazards of Love, but I think the simplicity of this year’s release makes it a true standout. While Colin Meloy’s lyrical tendencies are still here, they come with a sly wink and are closer to real emotions than any work they’ve done before. I can empathize and identify with what he’s saying for the first time. Combine that with some of the most melodic work the band’s ever done and you have a winner.

Highlights: Cavalry Captain, Make You Better, Better Not Wake The Baby

This article first appeared at The Queens Tribune on Jan. 30, 2015.

Krokoff48

While Scott Krokoff’s passion is for music, he does have a day job as a practicing lawyer.

How does he manage to balance the two? By dedicating part of each day to his songwriting.

“As you can imagine, it can be quite difficult at times,” he said. “But on most days, I make sure to dedicate at least a few hours to music-related activity, whether it’s writing, practicing, recording, networking, booking shows or engaging with fans via email and/or social media.”

The Bayside-based musician creates Americana-flavored folk-rock and pop. Although each song is built around the melodies created by his acoustic guitar and his expressive voice, Krokoff’s music does not limit itself to one palate or style. Instead, he pulls in various elements, like warped guitar sounds, harmonica, organ and cello, to make each number stand out.

After releasing his debut, A Better Life, Krokoff started the Realizations & Declarations project. He is working on releasing several volumes of EPs that will eventually culminate in a full-length album. He started writing material for the record in 2009/2010, part of his efforts to refocus on his music. Although he started by recording a few acoustic versions of his songs at producer Bob Stander’s studio, Krokoff found that the full-band arrangements of those tracks came out even better. The EP is bookended by two versions of What The Hell, one acoustic and one full-band.

Realizations & Declarations Vol. 1 came out in November 2012. Krokoff hopes to have Vol. 2 out before the end of the winter, sometime in late February or early March.

Vol. 2 will differ from Vol. 1 in that most of the songs are new, although I will also include a re-edited version of ‘Sparrows,’ one of my oldest songs and one that appeared on the A Better Life record. As much as I love that song, it was too long and by shaving off around 30 seconds, it breathed new life into the song so I thought it was worth including that,” Krokoff said. “Aside from that, I think Vol. 2 is a little lighter than Vol. 1 was.”

Krokoff’s music has garnered some notice, as a couple of songs, A Better Life and Don’t, were featured during the third annual NY Yankees Hope Week segment on NBC’s “The Today Show.”

“One of the segment producers heard about my music from a fan of mine who works at NBC and edits these segments,” Krokoff said. “They thought [the songs] were great fits for these segments and the messages they intended to convey, like striving for a better life and not to give up no matter the odds.”

Besides releasing his new EP, Krokoff hopes to continue recording the third volume of the “Realizations & Declarations” series. You can expect to see him touring locally as well. To keep up with the latest news, visit www.scottkrokoff.com.

This article first appeared at The Queens Tribune on Jan. 8, 2015.

jeneen-terrana

Since elementary school, Jeneen Terrana knew she wanted to become a singer.

“I remember telling my mom when I was in 7th grade that I wanted to be a singer,” she said. “In high school, I started auditioning for things and getting in! I was in the select choir, the musicals, and a few bands. Then, I auditioned for University at Buffalo and got into their music program.”

Terrana’s experiences at the University of Buffalo, studying classical voice for five years, would prove invaluable for the musical path that lay ahead. After earning her BA, the musician moved to Queens and started releasing work as a singer/songwriter. Her first album, Just Me, came out in 2002.

“As the title suggests, I was the only one working on the album so it got a little maddening but it was also a lot of fun,” she said. “I felt like every time I went to record, something amazing and unexpected would happen (usually by accident) and it made for some very unique moments in the songs.”

As the only person recording her album, Terrana had to program the drums and bass, play the guitar and keys and do all the vocals from a small room in her apartment. The process took eight months to complete.

Terrana followed that release with My Creation in 2007 and See The Light in 2011. For the latter album, she actually traveled to Lawrence, Kan. and worked on her demos with producer Mike West.

“In one week, he transformed them (with the help of some great musicians) to what you hear on the album,” Terrana said. “I had to completely trust him and his ideas so it was a little scary, but I was so thrilled at how it turned out.  He added beautiful instrumentation and really brought the songs to life.”

For her upcoming album, Fallin’, Terrana found another collaborative partner in Nick Howard. They spent a few months in his Queens studio, assembling the vocal performances and then built the tracks around them along with some rough sketches.

“I wanted something that was still me, but with a fresh, fun approach,” she said. “The songs started as a throwback to the 80’s but evolved into something current yet familiar.”

Terrana will hold a pre-release full-band show on Jan. 25 at The Living Room in Brooklyn. Joining her are several other local musicians, such as Brian & Silbin, Freeman Dre & the Kitchen Party, and Xavier Cardriche.

You should also keep an eye out for new episodes of JT’s Artist Oven, a cooking show on YouTube hosted by Terrana and featuring local Queens artists. For more, visit www.jeneenterrana.com.

05. Jenny Lewis – The Voyager

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With her first release in six year, the return of Jenny Lewis is like running into an old friend you haven’t seen in years. From the first watery piano chord of Head Underwater to the climactic peak of the title track, The Voyager catches us up on her life and all the ups and downs she has gone through. But even in the darker moments, she sings with a wink, a light touch that suggests that everything will be alright in the end. The music is just as warm and inviting, with sun-soaked chords and strings permeating the record. There may be better albums that came out this year, but there are none that feel as comforting as The Voyager.

Highlights: Late Bloomer, You Can’t Outrun ‘Em, The Voyager

04. TV On The Radio – Seeds

Seeds

How do you deal with loss? If you’re TV On The Radio, you write a funky, celebratory record about life. The band’s first album since the death of bassist Gerard Smith finds them abandoning their apocalyptic vibes for an introspective journey of love, no matter what form that love takes. It’s easily their most accessible release, with the Beatles-esque guitar work popping up on Could You, the R&B jam of Test Pilot and the propulsive punk of Lazerray. Livelier than Nine Types of Light, Seeds takes the best of TV On The Radio’s past work and shines it through a hopeful prism. The message is clear: love transcends all.

Highlights: Could You, Lazerray, Trouble

03. St. Vincent – St. Vincent

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All hail our new queen, St. Vincent. 2014 was her year from beginning to end. And it all came out of her fourth, self-titled album, where she sits perched in a throne with a shock of grey hair. The music on the record is just as confident, off-kilter and challenging as her stare and smirk on the cover. While she has always melded harshness and beauty, the lines have blurred to become indistinguishable from each other. Every gentle lyric is delivered with a hint of danger and every nasty, warped guitar riff is as catchy and memorable as anything else she’s done. St. Vincent is the sound of an alien taking human music, writing her own version and sending it back to us. Who knew we could sound so lovely, threatening, accessible and weird at the same time?

Highlights: Rattlesnake, Huey Newton, Every Tear Disappears

02. EMA – The Future’s Void

EMA

On her second album, EMA has done the impossible: written an album about the Internet and the digital age that doesn’t cause eyerolls. Instead, The Future’s Void grabs you by neck and forces you to pay attention. EMA’s lyrics don’t come off as a lecture, but rather a warning about what the Information Superhighway could be doing to our brains. Recalling William Gibson’s concerns on the same subject, the words are carried by music that’s abrasive, but also melodic. Satellites moves from static to an industrial banger, So Blonde is a smash hit from 1994 and Solace builds off a jerky riff that feels like an electric current. It is one of the darker albums of the year, but just like debut, one that’s impossible to resist.

Highlights: Satellites, Neuromancer, Solace

01. U2 – Songs of Innocence

Songs_of_Innocence

What’s the best way for a band that’s seen and done it all to move forward? Look back. That’s exactly what U2 did for Songs of Innocence. After the last couple of disappointing records, the Irish four-piece dug into their history, exploring life in Dublin in the 1970s. No rock is left unturned here. Both the good and bad of that formative time is laid out for all to see.

The highs create ecstatic songs like California (There Is No End to Love) and This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now, the latter combining sharp, subtle guitar riffs with one of the best rhythm segments from the band in years. Every Breaking Wave is an absolutely gorgeous ballad and instant U2 classic.

Some of the best songs though come from the lows in the band’s past. Raised By Wolves is a tense retelling of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974. Sleep Like A Baby Tonight uses pulpy synths and a stuttering guitar line to tell the story of a pedophile priest. The Troubles, about an abusive relationship, features a perfect melding of vocals by Bono and guest singer Lykke Li. It’s another number that deserves high placement in the U2 lexicon.

Forget about the Apple nonsense and focus on the songs. Similarly to how this album reminded Bono, Edge, Adam and Larry of why they became a band, it will remind you of what makes U2 one of the greatest rock bands of all time.

Highlights: Every Breaking Wave, Raised By Wolves, The Troubles

It’s that time again. With hundreds of releases and dozens of favorites, it’s a near-impossible task to narrow down my picks for the 10 best albums of the 2014. Still, these are the records that stuck with me the most, the ones I kept going back to over and over. If an album sticks in your head for several months after you first hear it, that artist is doing something right. These are the picks that stayed with me the most.

10. Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything

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After the arena-ready anthems of Elbow’s last three albums, the five-piece goes intimate on The Take Off and Landing of Everything. Well, as intimate as such a worldly, ambitious band can go. While the title track is a seven-minute blast of ecstatic energy and celebration, Fly Boy Blue / Lunette is a drunken swagger jam, Charge simmers rather than boils, My Sad Captains is anchored by majestic horns and New York Morning finds the gentle moments in the bustling city. Elbow has enough chest-beating, boisterous epics. This year, the band moved forward and found new colors and vibes to explore. They are better off for it.

Highlights: Fly Boy Blue / Lunette, New York Morning, The Take Off and Landing of Everything

09. Brody Dalle – Diploid Love

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Every years, there’s an unexpected record that blows away expectations. For 2014, that honor goes to Diploid Love, which finds Brody Dalle in a much better place in her life. Now past the drug addiction and abusive relationships that colored her earlier work, Dalle makes a comeback with roaring guitars and shredded vocals. She successfully marries punk to experimentation in a way that few other artists have managed. Listen to the mariachi guitar on Underworld, the electronic beat of Carry On or the parade horns of Rat Race. Her lyrics and performance are as inspiring as they are vicious. This is the sound of Dalle beating down her demons, and what an exhilarating sound it is.

Highlights: Don’t Mess With Me, Dressed in Dreams, Blood in Gutters

08. Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots

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Damon Albarn has always been wary of technology, ever since he dismissed sitting around and playing computer games on Blur’s Jubilee. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that he would dedicate an album to this theme. While the title track and Lonely Press Play is full of heady questions on the digital age, Everyday Robots is also a look back at Albarn’s own life. Whether he’s singing about the elephant he met on Mr. Tembo or going over key years in his history on Hollow Ponds, Albarn brings a delicate balance of world-weariness and hope. The music is mostly understated, but beautifully layered. Not bad for his solo “debut.”

Highlights: Lonely Press Play, Mr. Tembo, Heavy Seas of Love

07. The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers

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For the first time in a decade, The New Pornographers are throwing a party. The introspective mood and low-key songs of the last two records are gone, replaced by an electro-pop celebration. The whole crew is back and bringing their best vibes to Brill Bruisers. From the burst of synchronized singing on the title track to the sparkling harmonies of You Tell Me Where, this record will rouse anyone out of their seats and onto the dance floor. This is the New Pornographers: the electric version.

Highlights: Champions of Red Wine, Backstairs, Dancehall Domine

06. Beck – Morning Phase

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The idea of following up Sea Change more than a decade later seems questionable on paper at best. But we should have known better than to doubt Beck’s ability. This West Coast-soaked record is a mirrored reflection of that album’s brilliance. Rather than sounding despondent, Beck now looks forward to each day, welcoming the Waking Light of Morning. Copying the style of one of your most acclaimed albums is a challenge to say the least. The fact that Beck could create 13 more beautiful, magical songs that match up with the best of Sea Change is a testament to his abilities as a songwriter. If all mornings were like this, maybe I wouldn’t be such a night owl.

Highlights: Morning, Blue Moon, Waking Light

This article first appeared at The Queens Tribune on Dec. 31, 2014.

BadBuka

New York City is home to a nearly countless number of musicians. While that means there is something for everyone, it also means that it is difficult to stand out from the crowd. The Bayside-based Bad Buka though is truly a unique band that reflects the diversity of its home borough.

The nine-piece ensemble brings its Balkan gypsy blues to New York City’s collective mix of world music and punk attitude. Their music is passionately manic, bursting with energy from the instrumentation to the vocals. With trumpets and violins adding to the traditional guitar, bass and drums, these are songs that you can dance or rock out to. One thing you will not do when listening is keep still. After all, “buka” means noise in Serbo/Croatian.

According to guitarist Christofer Lovrin, the band’s inception came from the marriage between vocalist Slavko Bosnjak and M.C./backing vocalist Carla T. The two realized there was some common ground musically and they started writing together. Carla joined soon afterwards and the band grew from there.

“The way we played felt original, like something we never heard before and were excited about,” Lovrin said.

The group’s first release was the single, All The Angels, which came out in 2011. The song came out of the band’s love of old Romani and Mexican brass band music. Bad Buka molded this upbeat vibe with a punk rock sensibility to create something fresh.

“Slavko and I have a strange psychic connection on some level and things just kind of happen on their own after that,” Lovrin said. “We also really like mixing joviality with intense heightened energy. It seems to make for a healthy kind of craziness.”

Bad Buka’s followed that single with its debut album, Through The Night, released in February 2014. For this record, the band captured the intensity of its live shows, putting together 18 songs and then chopping that number down to those found on the LP.

While Through The Night may capture the feeling of a live concert, it is not the same as being there. When you are at a n show, you can not only hear the energy and passion coming from the band, but you can see it in action as well. According to Lovrin, Slavko, Carla and vocalist/percussionist Diana are natural performers who fit perfectly with the group’s vibe.

“I am and have always been about the groove and the energy level coming through really strong and finding song structures that keep it flowing,” Lovrin said. “I often want to feel like I could dance to the music. We have fun with mistakes on stage and let it feed our fire.”

Bad Buka has ambitious plans for this year, as the band wants to record the three albums’ worth of songs they have built up. The group also plans to play some more gigs as they work on evolving their sound and performance. To keep up with the latest, visit http://www.badbuka.com.

This article first appeared at The Queens Tribune on Dec. 25, 2014.

Mishell

It should not surprise anyone that Natalie Mishell is originally from Southern California. If you listen to any of her songs, you can hear sun-soaked guitar strings and vocal melodies that sound like they were recorded on a beach. With a voice that can float like a gentle breeze or emote with the strength of a strong gust of wind, Mishell puts passion and playfulness into her blend of folk music.

The one-time Astoria musician can trace her musical style and interests back to the West Coast. Her parents introduced her to the major folk singer-songwriters and classic rock bands of the 1960s and 70s. Mishell specifically named Bob Dylan as her inspiration for starting to write her own music.

The songwriter moved to New York, looking for a change from Los Angeles.

“I want to explore and expand my horizons. New York seemed like a good place to begin a new chapter in my life,” she said. “I have been given a lot of opportunity in the area and have had the pleasure of playing with many talented artists, which in turn has helped my career a lot.”

Mishell plays with a bevy of musicians who have come and gone over the last five years. When she first moved to the City, Mishell met drummer Rich Pagano, who produced her debut, “In My Shoes.” This meeting was the genesis for Mishell’s network of musicians. For the last year and a half, she has been working with the same lineup.

For that first record, Mishell had to become familiar with the studio and its workings.

“The hardest thing though was not being familiar with the recording process and all the technicalities that come with it,” she said. “I was used to picking up a guitar and singing.”

While In My Shoes has a polished sound with many layers and textures, Mishell went a little rougher for her follow-up, Goodnight Stranger. Produced by JP Bowersock, the entire album was tracked in one 12-hour session, recorded live due to a limited budget, with overdubs added at a later date.

Goodnight Stranger sounds more like a live rock record,” she said. “I love them both for different reasons but they are two completely different sounds.”

Although that LP may have a live vibe, the actual concert experience is very different from the studio experience for Mishell. She said that the studio gives her an opportunity to try ideas that she would not be able to replicate in a live setting. On the other hand, when she is onstage, Mishell is all about making a connection.

“Playing live is all about performing and connecting with the audience from me. It’s about sharing yourself, telling stories and relating to people’s experiences through music,” she said. “Recording is about exploring and being creative, it’s about coming up with ideas and sounds that might not come across in a live setting.”

You can catch Mishell in concert on Jan. 30 at the Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2. The show starts at 6:30 p.m., with no cover fee. For more, visit http://nataliemishell.com.