On August 10th, the Mountain Goats gave a free outdoor performance in East River Park at sunset, in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge. The amphitheater quickly filled with fans as the day’s heat burned off and the night became cooler.
Largely playing tracks off this year’s In League with Dragons, the Mountain Goats also peppered their sets with even more impassioned versions of fan favorites like “This Year” and of course, “No Children,” which had everyone standing and singing along in the dark.
The most poignant moment was “Going Invisible 2,” the very last song of the encore. Singing near the edge of the stage with only a microphone, frontman John Darnielle lead the crowd in a chorus of “I’m gonna burn it all down today” over and over again, in a moment of communal sound.
With two sold-out shows in the New York City area at both Brooklyn Steel and Webster Hall, Snail Mail, fronted by Lindsey Jordan, is blowing up. At just 20 years old, Jordan already has two records under her belt: 2018’s Lush and 2016’s Habit EP. With Habit’s irresistibly infectious opening track, “Thinning,” Jordan began to catch the larger industry’s eye.
Signing to seminal indie label,Matador, Lush was an immediate success, gaining Jordan a devoted fanbase. She set to work playing show after show, no matter how big the venue. Between smaller shows at Brooklyn’s Warsaw and then larger shows, such as her performance at the legendary Madison Square Garden, opening for Interpol, Jordan knows how to work a crowd. And frankly, the reason why she resonates so much with others is that she is simply and unapologeticly herself. Nowhere is this more evident than in her lyrics. With sparse, straightforward lines, Jordan is able to effectively and powerfully communicate day-to-day emotions in an understated way. In “Pristine,” Lush’s opening track, Jordan sings about never loving anyone ever again, a statement that, at first glance, seems hyperbolic. However, when one is in the throes of love lost, it’s this emotion that seems to grab us and take hold, as unrealistic as it is. That feeling in and of itself is worth exploring, and listening to Jordan express sentiments that many prefer hide is cathartic. The act of saying something out loud, no matter how seemingly silly or embarrassing, is important. It holds up a mirror to ourselves and our experiences, and compels us towards reexamination.
Further, Jordan’s fans are of all different ages. At Webster Hall, the crowd, many of whom lined up hours early in order to obtain first-row spots, ranged from teens to those in their mid-forties. This speaks directly to the shared human experience and the way music can bring people of various generations together.
Jordan’s set, consisting of both records, was mostly sung with the audience in tow. Almost every track, especially that of “Pristine,” was a group effort. And “Pristine” itself had the added effect of the venue’s disco ball, with lights streaming around the room as squeals from the crowd heralded their addition. Ending with “Iris,” a Goo Goo Dolls cover, Jordan’s dynamic performance came to a close.
Jordan’s career is just beginning, and she’s already accomplished so much. Snail Mail is taking over the world.
Snail Mail Setlist
2) Heat Wave
5) Golden Dream
7) Deep Sea
8) Full Control
9) Let’s Find An Out
11) Speaking Terms
13) Iris (Goo Goo Dolls cover)
Yola performed an intimate live set for YouTube Space in New York City’s Chelsea Market on July 22nd. Surrounded by cameras in a small studio, Yola and her band were unfazed by the fanfare, playing an energetic, infectious set as if no one else was in the room. Yola is an extraordinary performer; her voice takes flight, soaring on the wings of its own power, immediately capturing the listener. With her latest record, Walk Through Fire, Yola leaves no one untamed.
Largely performing tracks off Walk Through Fire, Yola peppered her set with a cover of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “What You Do” off 2016’s Orphan Offering.
Just four days later, Yola performed at the iconic Newport Folk Festival. She also made appearances during other sets, joining Dawes and Brandi Carlile’s The Highwomen, along with luminary Sheryl Crow. Most incredibly, she joined Dolly Parton herself.
On August 10th, she’ll be opening for Patty Griffin at Lincoln Center’s Roots of American Music Weekend: Americanafest.
On the heels of their latest release, Phases, Chase Atlantic’s hardcore fanbase stormed into a sold-out Webster Hall for the final show of the Phases tour. Often referred to as “alternative pop,” Chase Atlantic, hailing from Australia, also integrates both R&B and rock into their unmistakeable sound. It’s this fusion that draws fans with different musical tastes together, resulting in an eclectic audience decked out in all kinds of dress.
Taking the stage amid thick smoke and low lighting, strobes flashed on and off, lending itself to a joyfully chaotic atmosphere that allowed the music to speak for itself. The interaction between crowd and creators was unmatched, with the band members spending more time at the edge of the stage than further back. They jumped around, holding the mic out to the audience and enthusiastically encouraging them to sing along.
It was a perfect show to conclude a triumphant tour.
The Skints are absolutely phenomenal. Past their live performance, their music is enigmatic, their personalities are so fun, and there’s just a sense of community around everything that they do. We were recently blessed with their presence in New York, where photographer Christie McMenamin got to hang out and take some portraits of the band, comprised of the phenomenal talent of Jon Doyle, Jamie Kyriakides, Josh Waters Rudge, and Marcia Richards. We got some time to chat as well, which gave us a glimpse into the lives of one of our favorite bands right now! Check out the interview below, and take a listen to the new album and peep their latest video while you’re at it!
What was the first album or song you remember hearing, and do you believe that music has any bearing on how you approach your career?
First music I remember hearing I don’t know. First reggae song I ever remember hearing was my parents playing “Iron Lion Zion” when I was like three, which I remember cos I liked lions. First album I bought was the soundtrack of Space Jam on cassette. I don’t know if the first music I heard had any bearing on the APPROACH of my career more than “I like music”, I was say the music that had that bearing I found about 12/13 years old.
What is the origin story of The Skints? Was it a meet-cute?
I don’t know what a meet cute is, but we were all just local friends from school. Teenagers form punk band at school, very primitive! We started with the dream of playing our local venue (The Standard, Walthamstow, RIP) and never stopped.
Swimming Lessons. SUCH a wonderful album. So well-rounded, and so laser-focused on a unique and beautiful soundscape adventure. Anyone have a favorite track off that album, or a song you revert back to to make you feel a certain way?
Wow, thanks so much, that’s very kind of you. My favourite changes all the time, but today I’m gonna say “Stop Looking Back”; I think it’s the most musically mature song we’ve done.
On “Restless” you vocalize criticism on the government and media. Totally warranted. Was there any piece of you that might have been nervous about releasing a track like this, or was it an obvious inclusion on the album from the get-go?
Nah no way, we’ve been calling our government, the media, the “system” out on their shit from when we first starting writing songs and that’s not going to change.
You have some incredible features on this album. What ignited the conversations to include Protoje, Runkus, and Jesse Royal on tracks, and how did you approach them to work on it? Had you already had those established friendships?
Protoje and Jesse Royal we had met and formed road friendships with those 2 guys with about 5 years ago at festivals in Europe. We’d stayed in touch, always linking up with Protoje to hang when he was in London and playing on a bunch same festival bills around the world, and had been saying to one another “let’s do a tune” for ages. We also did a secret support for him in a tiny club in a Parisian suburb once! Jesse came over and played this pop-up Skints party we curated called “Nice Time” a couple years back and we went to the studio the day after and wrote a DIFFERENT song to Love Is The Devil, maybe that will see the light of day some point! So yeah those were totally organic connections, and it was Protoje that put us on to Runkus a few years ago, who was also a fan of ours as we are of him, and we connected off the back of that.
You chose blue vinyl for your recent album release. What inspired that decision?
The album is called Swimming Lessons and we love colour vinyl!
You have been touring the last few years almost non stop. What have been some of your favorite memories of this time on the road?
Man, so many. Japan completely blew all of our minds, I’d say that was the most different place we’ve ever been. Even down to getting the train as to being on the road, the pace of touring is just different out there.
But also… any crazy fan stories or random happenings on tour that are just too bizarre or funny to not talk about?
Ah man, we been touring for like 10 years haha! We once stayed in a terrifying hostel in Berlin with unfinished paintings on the walls. Portraits with no eyes or mouths. Scary.
You guys seem to get along really well. How have you kept your heads on straight while touring together for such a long time?
We’ve spent so much time around each other we actually operate like a family. We just try not to push each other’s buttons, communicate honestly and healthily and try to be respectful of one another as we operate. Also gotta just laugh through the madness!
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
Big up everyone supporting and showing love, it means the very most!
Acclaimed singer/songwriter Erin Rae performed at New York City’s Rough Trade on June 19th, opening for Dylan LeBlanc. Rae recently released an EP of demos off last year’s record, Putting On Airs. In front of an audience still filing in and getting drinks, Rae was unmoved, focusing on her performance and her connection to those already in the crowd. Her set was poignant, speaking of pain and empathy, and the room swelled larger with each subsequent song. By the end, she held the audience in her hand, and thunderous applause broke out.
Photographer Christie McMenamin had the pleasure of meeting up with London-based collective The Skints in New York recently. The band – comprised of Jon Doyle, Jamie Kyriakides, Josh Waters Rudge, and Marcia Richards – was absolutely delightful, and we have some portraits to prove it!
These days, it can be difficult to determine one songstress from another, let alone save a track and keep the name of its creator in your music library. This time of year, everyone is posting their “Best of” lists for 2018. We aren’t doing a super deep dive. We’ve just chosen 7 of our favorite female vocalists that have really ignited our hearts in the last year or so – one we found as recently as a couple of weeks ago! – and we’re all about sharing! Check out some of our favorite non-male performers below, and then maybe go make an entire WHO RUN THE WORLD? playlist featuring each and every one of these powerhouses!
by meredith schneider
Billie Eilish wasn’t someone we saw coming. Having jammed out to a couple of her songs, Bonnaroo 2018 brought her to the stage in front of us for the first time. A look of vulnerability in her eyes, she gave that crowd more than what she had that day, throwing her body into her stage presence and really working the stage so that everyone felt like they were a part of it. Each new release brings with it an extended feeling of empowerment, and we’re keen on what’s to come for this incredibly talented young musician. (See video at the end of this piece: she is one of Tan France’s favorites!)
by christie mcmenamin
Lucy Dacus‘ voice is tranquil, delicate, and perfectly matched to her bittersweet, relatable lyrics. We’ve fallen in love with her as gently as her music progression over the years. We’re super pleased with her new supergroup boygenius (see: Julien Baker below), if not only because it gives us an additional reason to see her live more often. All the heart eyes going into 2019 on this lady!
by jeo taymany
Ness Heads is a Chicago-based artist who sings a soulful mixture of R&B and hip hop, with a bit of a pop flare. Her single “Flip Em” threw us for a loop during the summer of 2018, and we’re keeping that energy going through the next month as we hustle through our last minute year-end “to do” lists.
by christie mcmenamin
The world’s lead producer of sad music, Julien Baker stole our hearts a few years ago, but her stage presence and the incredible way she interacts with her fans is something of note. We were lucky enough to have seen her both locally and at 2018’s last ever Sasquatch Music Festival, and were floored on a number of occasions by her prowess. Check her out with new supergroup boygenius!
by erin p.s. zimmerman
It was 2016 when we first had the unique pleasure of photographing Bishop Briggs, as she prepped for an evening performing at the Midland in Kansas City. Flash forward 2 years and we’ve seen her a number of additional times, photographed her once more (see above photo, SXSW 2017), and have continued to follow each and every impassioned song that she releases as she’s toured the country multiple times, played every festival known to mankind, and as her music has been placed in both television and film. Her energy is unlike any other when she steps on stage, and her compassion is limitless. (See: her recent haircut) Plus, she was just featured on JVN’s podcast, so she’s definitely “having a moment!”
by meredith schneider
Mess lead singer Allison Gliesman is a kind, hilarious, and obscenely generous human soul. We’re fortunate to know them as a friend, but their music stunned us even before we met them face to face. Flash forward to witnessing those powerhouse vocals one night at The Rino in KC and our world was changed forever. If you haven’t yet blasted a Mess song at full volume in your car, now is the time. Keep your eyes peeled for this one.
by dara munnis
I was at Sasquatch Music Festival photographing a female-led band at one stage, when the music from another stage flooded my ears. Like a siren call, I followed it, toting my boyfriend like a rag doll. This. Woman. Has. Chops. Tash Sultana. After three songs, I turned and said, “She can do it all. Seriously. What can’t she do?” As if she could hear me, she got out a pan flute within 30 seconds… and started to beat box with it.
If you aren’t in love just with that statement, then I don’t know who you are. Insane. That’s the only word to describe it.
BONUS – While our other listing pieces will include just 7 representatives, we may have gone overboard BECAUSE WE ARE SO FLOORED BY SO MANY RAD NON-MALE VOCALISTS. So check out our list add-on below, and revel in the glory of 8 incredible humans!