Touring in support of their new record, Too True, Dum Dum Girls played the second of two sold-out New York City shows on the 26th, at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Opening band Young Boys seemed to have something going on musically, though no one in the band can sing, and not in a charming kind of way. Second band Blouse were impressive. My immediate reaction was that if either the Breeders or Camera Obscura–two bands with little in common–were shoegaze bands, they’d both sound a lot like Blouse. Speaking of shoegaze, Dum Dum Girls reminded me more than a little of your typical mid-90s dream-pop alt-rock band. I mean that in a good way. Like a slightly less-rocky, more sinister version of Belly.
Ex Hex, the new band from former Helium/Wild Flag/Autoclave guitarist/singer Mary Timony, rolled into NYC for two shows on March 20th and 21st. Playing the late show at Mercury Lounge on the 21st, the band took the stage shortly after midnight, and ripped through about a 45 minute set. Timony clearly took something away with her time sharing Wild Flag ax duties with Carrie Brownstein, who’s no stranger to Pete Townsend-ish guitar windmills and kicks. A formidable guitarist who always veered toward prog rock with a somewhat Medieval twinge, Timony seems to be having more fun onstage than ever before, and Ex Hex is her most straight-up rock outfit in her 20+ year career. It’s nice to see Timony just let loose after all these years.
LA quartet Warpaint played sold-out show at Manhattan’s Webster Hall on March 21st, in support of their new, self-titled sophomore record. The last time the all-girl group was in New York, they previewed the songs at the tiny, 100-person capacity Union Pool. It’s quite possible that the next time the band are in town, they’ll have to book the cavernous Terminal 5, which would be nice for a band but a blow for any fans that actually like pleasant music-watching experiences.
After a couple months of touring behind the new record, the group seemed a little looser and more confident playing the new songs. Their fans came prepared as well, with several roses and other flowers thrown onstage as the band came out. This was Warpaint’s third NYC show in six months, and probably the best yet.
Southern-rock mainstays Drive-By Truckers stormed into New York City on March 20th, touring behind their new album, English Oceans. The lineup now set as a five-piece, the set was more evenly split between both main singers/songwriters, Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, than in shows and records past. Given the less than amicable personnel changes of the past few years, the band seemed almost relieved to just be on stage rocking out, and it seemed like the Terminaly 5’s union labor rules were the only thing keeping DBT from playing a four-hour set.
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks played a sold-out show at Music Hall of Williamsburg on February 27th. Malkmus has basically settled into nice late-career groove, pumping out a record every couple years, touring, and repeating. He’s no longer running away from the Pavement years, having gotten all that out of his system during the reunion a few years ago, and he’s regularly playing a Pavement song or two during his sets now. And even though he’s been Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks longer than he’s been in Pavement now, there’s no doubt that it’s the Pavement songs that still get the most reaction, particularly when he’s playing deeper cuts and b-sides like “Harness Your Hopes,” as he did at MHOW.