Sky Larkin are Coming to NYC; Second Show Added

I first heard
Leeds, UK trio Sky Larkin‘s “Keepsakes” on a Indie MP3 compilation two or three years ago and have been keeping an ear out ever since. We’re talking a pretty straightforward ’90s-ish indie sound (they remind me of Madder Rose if you remember them) but the songwriting is great with a nice sense of humor, and Katie Harkin’s got an appealing voice.

The band have been a bit pokey in releasing material since then — two great singles (“Molten” and “One of Two”) and an EP of covers — but the band recently spent a month or so recording their debut LP in Seattle with John Goodmanson (The Long Winters, Sleater-Kinney). As far as I know the band didn’t play one show while in Seattle but Sky Larkin are coming to NYC next month where they’ll be playing Piano’s on August 13. I would have to imagine they’ll make the most of the trip and book additional shows (Skippy, they need to play Union Hall) but you might want to clear space on your calendar now.

UPDATE: Ask and ye shall receive. Sky Larkin play Union Hall on August 14. Next time I’m going to ask for something bigger.

MP3: Sky Larkin – Molten

And a couple videos:

“One of Two”


Popfest NYC: From Bubblegum to Sky + Pants Yell! + The Besties | Pianos | 6.13.2008

Who says early shows suck? NYC Popfest's happy hour show at Piano's was blast and Pants Yell!'s show in particular was a corker and may take the prize of Best Performance at NYC Popfest 2008. (I missed Tullycraft… more on why in a bit.) A tight cohesive trio with a beast of a drummer, Pants Yell! were on fire (no cats needed) in the packed room. On their excellent third album from late last year, Alison Statton, they sound polite, but live it's more hyperkinetic. You could even say they rocked.

They know their history too. Their album is named after the singer of Young Marble Giants, and the t-shirts they were selling were emblazoned with the names of perhaps future albums: Amelia Fletcher, Aggi, Tracey Thorn, and Phoebe Summersquash. And speaking of that last name mentioned, Pants Yell! covered Small Factory's "Happy to See You" which made me like them even more.

MP3: Pants Yell! – Shoreham Kent

MP3: Small Factory – Happy to See You

From Bubblegum to Sky The evening started with From Bubblegum to Sky, a punchy, fizzy band from pop maestro Mario Hernandez, who splits his time between NYC and the Bay Area. The band were playing with a fill-in drummer who only had three hours notice/practice but they pulled it off. This stuff is so sweet — especially Hernandez's vocals — that it might put off some listeners, but FBTS are more muscular live than on record, bringing it closer to Cheap Trick territory (with a healthy dose of Marc Bolan) than anything else. If interested, they're playing Union Hall on Thursday.

MP3: I Always Fall Apart


Brooklyn's The Besties are always fun and more often than not perform with some sort of high-concept gimmick (costumes, etc) but tonight's gimmick was to have no gimmick. Luckily they have energy, charm, and catchy tunes — I don't think they need the other stuff at all.

I fully planned on seeing indie pop legends Tullycraft who were headlining the show and by the Besties finished the rock room at Pianos was packed to the gills. It's much smaller than it used to be, thanks to the newly added bar in there and a big merch table. I'd been enjoying the cheap happy hour beer and went for a pitstop before Tullycraft came on. As I walked out of room, the guy at the door said "If you leave you can't come back in." I thought he was talking about leaving Pianos, so I said "I'm just going to the bathroom." "If you leave the room you can't come back in." My bladder won, they wouldn't let me back in… so I left to go see Grand Archives at Bowery Ballroom.

By all reports, Tullycraft were bonkers and the crowd was going banannas with crowd surfing and everything. Next time, guys. My streak of missing Popfest headliners would continue throughout most of the weekend.

Shake It Tonight

Theblacks2My friend Kelly was visiting from San Francisco last year and we went to see her friend’s band, The Blacks, play at Pianos. She told me he played tamborine in the band. "That’s it?" I asked skeptically. She replied, "He really gets into it."

That was kind of an understatement. Joel Gion is cool and all, but JDK Black takes tambourine playing to a new, intense level. He’s a dynamo. The caption I wrote on Flickr for the above photo: "It was that point in the show where the tambourine player became ‘pure energy.’"

The Blacks are back at Pianos, and have been since Saturday, and are upping the tambourine factor just a little. Dubbed "The Tambourine Experiment," they’ll be distributing 100 tambourines to the audience, though I doubt the combined crowd’s involvement will be able to eclipse JDK intensity… though it will be fun to try.

Musically, The Blacks are in that blues/garage/punk school — think The White Stripes, Flat Duo Jets, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs — and are certainly good at it, but it’s the tambourine you really remember. And tonight’s show sure sounds unforgettable.

MP3: The Blacks – The Flame

According to the Pianos website, The Blacks take the stage at 11:30, though the venue is notorious for running late (sometimes very late). If you can’t make it tonight, The Blacks play Union Pool on Wednesday (5/14) but it’s not a 100 Tambourine show. But, really, the one they have is plenty impressive on his own.