Alex Winston’s Reappearing Act Stands Out as One of NYC’s Best Concerts This Week


Alex Winston took a breather from music when she couldn’t quite find the inspiration to write. Thankfully, her creativity was revived with a new record deal, and that enthusiasm is captured in the deeply personal This Ain’t Luck. “Almost everything on this record is about my life,” Winston explained to the Voice in a recent interview. “I needed those experiences to happen so I could write these songs, but at the time I felt really blocked.” Before she lays it all emotionally bare at her gig, a stellar show from saxophonist Kamasi Washington, a DJ set from Win Butler of Arcade Fire hits Le Poisson Rouge and a cappella minimalist Tei Shi fills the halls of the MoMA this week.

Monday, 8/24

Kamasi Washington
Blue Note
8 p.m. & 10:30 p.m., $10 – $25

The hardest working jazz musician in Los Angeles, a/k/a Kamasi Washington, makes his first New York appearance since the release of his triple-CD debut titled — what else? — The Epic. His tentet includes doubled bassists and drummers, and packs a wallop. You’ve probably heard his tenor sax already on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, but his own music combines Coltrane’s wall-of-sound approach with Charles Mingus’s composed maximalism. It’s powerful stuff on record, but Washington’s reportedly a ferocious live presence as well, so take heed. There are shows on Monday August 24 and August 25, one at 8:00 p.m. and a second at 10:30 p.m. — Richard Gehr

Cake Shop
8 p.m., $10

Tweens are a lo-fi garage rock trio out of Cincinnati, Ohio who transform their self-described style of “trash pop” into something more endearing. They spent a few years crafting their self-titled debut, released in April of 2014, and the finished product has Tweens sounding their most tight and crunchy, best heard in the track “Forever” where they trade their signature lo-fi production for a clearer approach that highlights Battle’s vocal chops. — Silas Valentino

Wet Leather
Baby’s All Right
8 p.m., $8 – $10

The New York City quintet Wet Leather churn out a style of DIY pop that’s equally accessible and provocative. Vocalist Matt Bernstein can swap his frequent falsetto for a ’65-era Bob Dylan deadpan squeal, as heard in the track “Yours & Mine,” while the music backing him typically leans on the tight, focused pop the Talking Heads explored in their later years. Even though the members of Wet Leather look to have been in diapers during the Eighties, it hasn’t stopped them from cherry picking some of the better elements from the decade to use in their glossy jams. — Silas Valentino

Tuesday, 8/25

Melody’s Echo Chamber
Music Hall of Williamsburg
8 p.m., $16

If there are moments during Melody’s Echo Chamber’s 2012 self-titled debut that sound reminiscent of Tame Impala’s psychedelic strains it’s for a simple reason. Tame’s front man Kevin Parker collaborated with the French songstress Melody Prochet after her former project, My Bee’s Garden, supported his band on a 2010 tour. The results were intriguing, pleasant and hazy. Last October she released the first taste of her upcoming sophomore album, a scaled-back disco guitar number called “Shirim,” but the remainder of the record has since fallen behind in delays. This Music Hall of Williamsburg could very well be a platform for her to put out out more of her enticing dream pop. — Silas Valentino

Royal Headache
Rough Trade NYC
8 p.m., $12 – $14

Royal Headache fans were right to be a little concerned that they might not see the Australian band back in America again. Shogun, the singer of the group that memorably mixes garage punk and Motown soul, said in May 2014 that while the band was working on a follow-up to its 2011 debut, ultimately, its days were numbered. “I don’t know if people want to see us anymore or if people are interested in music like that anymore,” he told Mess and Noise. Thankfully that follow-up, High, did come out (it’s streaming on NPR), and the band’s playing two Brooklyn shows on its U.S. tour. Tonight’s show is at Rough Trade NYC in Williamsburg, before playing again on Saturday, August 29 at Palisades in Bushwick. High seems to have picked up where the group’s impressive debut left off: It’s comprised of ten mostly jangly punk songs, each filled with Shogun’s slightly sad lyrics about — what else? — love and longing. Opening are South Philly’s Sheer Mag, who can claim one of the best garage-pop songs of the year, “Button Up.” — Nick Lucchesi

Wednesday, 8/26

Allan Kingdom
Rough Trade NYC
7:30 p.m., $15

Saint Paul may not be a haven for hip-hop but it’s the Midwest city’s charm and purity that boosts the burgeoning MC Allan Kingdom. He’s part of a Minnesota-based music collective called thestand4rd, along with the dubious R&B crooner Corbin, and the songs coming out of that northern capital seem appropriate for an episode of Twin Peaks due to their off-the-wall vibe. Kingdom throws in a cheery sample of a flute as the hook to his single “Evergreen” and the results are a delight that’s catchy and impressive. — Silas Valentino

Joseph Arthur
City Winery
8 p.m., $20

A great way to peep inside the engine of an artist is to hear how they redo a classic. Take singer/songwriter Joseph Arthur for example. His 2014 Lou Reed tribute album Lou features a bare, vulnerable cover of the Velvet’s “Heroine” where he omits the iconic snide laugh heard after the lyrics: “It’s my wife and it’s my life.” Arthur is serious when re-imagining a classic, and his solemn character has been present since his 1997 debut. No wonder Peter Gabriel swooped him under his wing. The way Arthur lets you in through his lyrical reveal — while guided by the support of tight chamber pop — is the kind of tender expression that resonates in coffee shops and The O.C. soundtrack. — Silas Valentino

Thursday, 8/27

DJ Windows 98
Le Poisson Rouge
9 p.m., $15 – $18

When he’s not fronting the biggest indie rock band around, DJ Windows 98 (or Win Butler of Arcade Fire) sometimes spins records, displaying his limitless drive for making music. The only track of his available on Soundcloud is a sharp mash-up of Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” with Beck’s early Nineties hit “Loser” and the result is a surprising mix that could satisfy members of either artist’s camps. Some scrappy footage of a gig he did last summer appeared online and shows DJ Windows 98 moaning the vocals to Nirvana’s “All Apologies” over a simple bongo-inspired beat. His shows appear to be an improvised romp where the music maestro lends out his record collection with nonchalant swagger. — Silas Valentino

Tei Shi
5:30 p.m., FREE

Born Valerie Teicher in Buenos Aires, Tei Shi produces indie pop with a kick while drifting down in layered R&B vocals. Her a cappella-based arrangements hover like smoke above the backing electronic minimalism and create a stripped-bare affair that’s equally mysterious as it is subdued. She’s recently relocated to Brooklyn and her second EP Verde shows promise, hinting that Tei Shi could be a single or two away from reaching larger acclaim. — Silas Valentino

Alex Winston
Rocks Off Concert Cruises Series
7 p.m., $20 – $25

“I guess I pulled a Houdini — I disappeared.” Avant-garde pop singer Alex Winston isn’t talking about magic tricks, but her return to music. When the Brooklyn-based singer finally landed a new record deal, her inspiration returned. She was able to shift her focus back to the music she wanted to make, the kind hailing from a veritable ton of life experience — something that shines through on her sophomore album, This Ain’t Luck. “Almost everything on this record is about my life,” Winston explained. “I needed those experiences to happen so I could write these songs, but at the time I felt really blocked.” — Ilana Kaplan

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