Confession: I didn’t do a great job of staying on top of new music in 2012. There was a three-month miracle where we had a really good indie radio station in the NYC area but as quickly as it appeared it converted to sports radio. One evening I’m grooving to the Wombats, the next morning it’s two guys yelling about the Yankees.
A few bands that stood out in 2012 (in my admittedly limited experience) are Atlas Genius, the Wombats, Grimes, and Azealia Banks. I was supposed to see Grimes but the show got cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. I was also supposed to see Azealia Banks but got in a car accident earlier that day and was soaking in a hot tub that night instead. Not really a stellar music year.
However, 2012 is the year I met in person one of the members of my Holy Trinity: Kristen Hersh! Behold:
She performed an all-acoustic night at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York in April. I was in bliss. First off, it’s a gorgeous space. Secondly, she was amazing in every way. She alternated reading from her book Rat Girl with performing songs and being utterly and smartly charming. She played a lot from her early Throwing Muses days, and I was so happy I was just about levitating off my chair. Fish, Hate My Way, Vicky’s Box, and so many more, all done with just her voice and her acoustic guitar. After the show she talked to every person lined up to meet her, including me. I was so starstruck when I met her that I think I may have scared her a little. She was so sweet and approachable in direct contrast to how hard she rocks on stage. The same woman who can still do justice to a 50 Foot Wave song gave me a big hug. I’m still all tingly from the experience.
I also saw Swervedriver (thank you, Mike!) who were really fantastic, and who I’d like to see again. They put on a solidly great show, like the pros they are. And thanks to free tickets from the best indie record store in NYC, Other Music, I saw (with Mike, as it turns out) A. C. Newman and the Mynabirds.
The Mynabirds were incredible. So tight and energetic and fun. A. C. Newman seemed a little bored to be honest. I love his voice, and love his other band The New Pornographers. I’d recommend any of his solo albums and anything by The New Pornographers (clever lyrics, great writing, wonderfully catchy melodies), just maybe don’t go out of your way to catch him live on his own. Maybe he was having a bad day, like everyone does. I’ll give him that.
Bored or bad day or whatever, the musicianship shown by A. C. Newman and his band was superb. They all play multiple instruments, and the layering and complexity of the sound is truly amazing to listen to and watch being played. Flutes, oboes, a couple crazy keyboard solos – really exceptional.
He also has in his band what I’ve never seen outside of Brooklyn – the Ultimate Hipster. This guy didn’t miss a thing, to the point where it looked like he was dressed as a hipster for Halloween. Skinny jeans, fedora, scarf-y ascot thingie, black thick-rimmed glasses, tweed… it was one of the more entertaining parts of the performance.
A. C. Newman and his talented band:
Here’s the Mynabirds, definitely worth catching live:
Here’s to having a lot more music to write about in 2013. Let me know what I missed!