Music

The Best NYC Shows This Week: Sløtface, Cloud Cult, Ecstatic Music Festival

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It’s unseasonably warm this week, and whether that brings to mind thoughts of our drowning planet, or dreams of summertime, there’s a place for you to go out and find like-minded companions. On the darker side, experimental outfit Zs will celebrate their fifteenth anniversary at H0L0, with strange music that will leave you questioning your place in the universe. But if you just need to escape, check out Sleigh Bells at Rough Trade, or Sløtface at Elsewhere, for some righteous, female-led pop.

1/23
Sleigh Bells, Dream Wife, Sabri
Rough Trade
8:30 p.m., $30

A lot has happened since the Brooklyn duo Sleigh Bells released their explosive 2010 debut, Treats, which ingeniously mixed noise, metal, and pop. Their follow-up, Reign of Terror, retained that level of excellence, but Sleigh Bells seemed to lose their way a bit on 2016’s Jessica Rabbit, which had little of the cohesion or the forcefulness of their previous efforts. But last year, they came back with Kid Kruschev, a mini-album packing both a political and a sonic punch. The record delivers serious pop songs that recall everything from the Russian group t.A.T.u. to more recent stars like Sky Ferreira. No need to worry after all  Sleigh Bells are going to be just fine.

1/25
Big Bliss, Warpark, Sic Tic, the Rizzos, Mighty
Brooklyn Bazaar
8 p.m., $8

If you’re looking for a new favorite local band, Big Bliss are probably a good bet. This is particularly true for fans of the Cure, who will find much to appreciate in Big Bliss’s wailing vocals, morbid lyrics, and sparkling guitars. But this group isn’t just an homage — its gothy vibe is paired with a post-punk edge, expertly mining a blend of sweet, spooky, and serious. They’ll headline this Brooklyn Bazaar show with Sic Tic, who play roaring, sludgy psych-rock.

Sløtface, Winstons, A Deer A Horse
Zone One at Elsewhere
7 p.m., $10–$12

From their sound alone, you’d never guess that Sløtface were anything other than an American post-Paramore pop-punk outfit. But as the name’s slashed o hints at, the group is actually Norwegian, hailing from the southwestern city of Stavanger. Lead singer Haley Shea’s sweet pop star, along with her bandmates’ furious riffs and breakdowns, will bring you back to the Warped Tours of your youth. Sløtface are also known for their feminist politics: Their original name, Slutface, was inspired by the provocations of the riot grrrl movement. It’s hard to imagine a group that’d be more fun to mosh to — especially for women who sometimes are hesitant to get in the pit.

Zs 15 Year Anniversary Show
Zs, Oliver Lake, New Optimism, Leya, Leila Bordreuil
H0L0
8 p.m., $15

The mercurial New York experimental group Zs may be celebrating their fifteen-year anniversary at H0L0 this week, but they remain as difficult as ever to pin down. The shape-shifting outfit makes music that sometimes feels like rhythmic sound art, and other times veers toward free jazz or math rock. What the results never are are boring. Their most recent album, Xe, was their first with Guardian Alien drummer Greg Fox, who adds his precise and innovative sound to their constantly mutating project. They’ll play with equally fascinating friends to celebrate this milestone.

1/26
Snail Mail, Lomelda, Fits
Brooklyn Bazaar
8 p.m., $12

Though young adults are often lectured that they’re wasting the “best years of their lives,” D.C.-based indie pop group Snail Mail know that’s not true. “Baby when I’m thirty I’ll laugh about how dumb it felt/Baby when I’m thirty I’ll laugh it out,” lead singer Lindsey Jordan sings drolly on the band’s song “Dirt,” acknowledging that being a teenager is actually really crappy. The guiding sentiments on these straightforward, plaintive songs — uncertainty, self-doubt — should be familiar to anyone who has ever been young. But Jordan presents these feelings with an air of self-awareness that demonstrates a maturity beyond her years. For young adults surfing the waves of bullshit that life can throw at you, that’s the best you can hope for.

Cloud Cult
The Appel Room
8:30 p.m., $30–$100

The Minnesota band Cloud Cult, fronted by Craig Minowa, is the very definition of extra. Armed with at least eight band members and many more instruments, Minowa has spent two decades releasing epic, often conceptual albums composed of acoustic folk, experimental rock, electronica, sweeping orchestral flourishes, and pop turns, all overlaid with deeply emotional lyrics that address subjects like existential loss. Somehow, it works, and, over their career, Cloud Cult have developed, well, a cult following. Their live shows are near-religious experiences, complete with a live painter who auctions off his ad hoc work after each performance. They will more than fill the gorgeous Appel Room space overlooking Columbus Circle.

1/27
Moon King, Psymon Spine, Jennifer Vanilla
Alphaville
8 p.m., $10–$12

Moon King, a project of the musician Daniel Benjamin, is one of the few acts that can accurately be described as “shoegaze-meets-electropop.” Benjamin’s earlier releases tended toward the former, with filtered vocals over guitars and plenty of fuzz to go around. His last release, Hamtramck ’16, documented his move from Toronto to Detroit with an album that felt tonally similar while simultaneously totally different stylistically  lo-fi electropop in the vein of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. His newest track, “I’ve Stopped Believing,” is even further from his roots in intimate shoegaze — this one’s full-on pop, albeit with a homemade feel, as Benjamin describes leaving his home city, which has become unrecognizable from gentrification.

Aurora Halal, Huerco S. (live), Patricia (live), Galcher Lustwerk, Bookworms (live), DJ Python, Ultrafog (live), DJ Healthy
Bossa Nova
8 p.m., free before midnight, $10 after

We can’t explain why a lineup of so many heavy hitters in the underground techno scene will descend on Bossa Nova’s intimate space this weekend, but we aren’t asking questions. Mystical techno queen Aurora Halal will bring her expansive dance music. Huerco S., who explores realms of mesmerizing ambient techno, will also play live. Almost everyone else on the docket is equally revered in the scene: No matter when you stop in, you can’t go wrong. This is a rare early show at Bossa; we’d recommend showing up even earlier in order to get in — this one is going to get packed, fast.

Destroyer, Mega Bog
Brooklyn Steel
8 p.m., $25–$30

Destroyer, the stage name that musician Dan Bejar has used for his now-twenty-plus-year career, has always made music with a sensibility that rubs some people the wrong way. His nasally voice, bizarre lyrics, and sometimes unusual structures are singular. But he’s also an incredible pop songwriter when he wants to be, as on his Eighties-soft-rock-inspired 2011 Kaputt. That album was remarkable for both its catchy songs and its overall aura of seediness, a combination that gives you a funny feeling that’s hard to shake. He’s in a similar mode on his most recent, Ken, where he again sings from the perspective of a mysterious lothario, leading you through a dark underworld.

Ecstatic Music Festival
Xenia Rubinos, Adam Schatz’s Civil Engineering
Merkin Concert Hall
7:30 p.m., $20–$25

It’s time for the yearly Ecstatic Music Festival, a series of shows at Merkin Concert Hall on the Upper West Side that curates artists who toe the line between indie and experimental. The endlessly transforming Xenia Rubinos — whose 2016 album, Black Terry Cat, mixed soul, jazz, pop, r&b, and radical politics, and deserved far more attention than it received — will headline the festival’s first outing. Rubinos will be backed up by Adam Schatz, the creative force behind Brooklyn indie rock group Landlady, who will perform with his project Civil Engineering, a big-band effort composed of many musicians and lots of improvisation.

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