An eclectic mix of sounds make for an interesting month of music.
Spring is upon us and so is the concert season picking up all over New York City with pop, rock, folk, electronic, R&B and more. Freshen up your nightlife this month with some live music. Jack Antonoff’s new band Bleachers takes the stage at Terminal 5 April 9 while alt-rock innovators OK Go dazzle Terminal 5 on March 11. Electro house duo Chainsmokers turn things up with Bebe Rexha April 24 at Terminal 5, and finally Ben Folds brings his singer-songwriter genius to Bowery Ballroom April 27, Music Hall of Williamsburg April 28 and Town Hall on April 30. Here are New York City Monthly‘s best of the rest for April.
BRIT-nominated R&B siren Jessie Ware hails from the UK and breaks hearts April 1 at Terminal 5. On her second album “Tough Love,” Ware co-wrote with industry heavyweights including Ed Sheeran, Miguel, Sam Smith, Benny Blanco, Julio Bashmore, Dave Okumu and Kid Harpoon. Jessie Ware broke through prior to her 2011 singles with collaborations with SBTRKT and Sampha. Ware’s debut album “Devotion” spawned a string of hits including “Running,” “If You’re Never Gonna Move,” “Wildest Moments,” “Night Light” and “Imagine It Was Us.” Her alluring alto voice coasts through a combination of 90s house tracks and luxurious ballads that may remind many of Sade and Whitney Houston. The new title track “Tough Love” has a new wave vibe and sounds like a long-lost cross between Prince and Cyndi Lauper. Ware, who was married last summer coos beautifully on another favorite “You & I (Forever).” Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open for those dramatic vocal moments where the room is sure to hear a pin drop as Jessie Ware’s notes soar beyond the ceiling.
The Ting Tings groove into Webster Hall April 8. The UK duo made up of multi-instrumentalists Katie White and Jules De Martino (who both sing) emerged on the scene in 2008 with “Great DJ.” They followed up their electro-pop sound with equally-catchy records “That’s Not My Name” and “Shut Up And Let Me Go” off their debut record “We Started Nothing,” which helped earn them a Best New Artist nomination at the 2010 Grammy Awards. The Tings’ two subsequent albums “Sounds from Nowheresville” and “Super Critical” each produced singles like the rhythmic “Hang It Up” and new single “Wrong Club,” now a Top 5 Dance Club song on the Billboard charts. “Super Critical” was inspired by a late 2012 trip to Ibiza and this album was co-produced by Duran Duran’s guitarist Andy Taylor. The Ting Tings promise a danceable, energetic show with a range of tunes from new wave to disco to funk.
If you are solely a Top 40 fan, you may not have heard of Detroit native/Brooklyn-based Sufjan Stevens. The unique, under-the-radar singer-songwriter and producer has a signature musicality, soothing falsetto and catalog of songs that spans nearly 15 years of material that is cinematic in many ways. Stevens is a modern day renaissance man who has been known to write folk songs and baroque pop while also venturing into electronic and hip-hop. He plays the Beacon Theatre April 11 likely with some of his colorful costumes, in support of his just-released album “Carrie & Lowell,” centering on his mother and step-father and delving into “life and loss, love and death.” First tune “No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross” is a delicate folk song that cuts deep, and feels particularly poignant with the recent passing of Sufjan’s mother. The bouncy “Chicago” with its quirky orchestration should be one big track to listen up for, not to mention the whimsical, dramatic “Age of Adz.”
There are a handful of names that come to mind when you think Americana and “American songbook” and John Mellencamp is one of them. Mellencamp has scheduled a rare residency at landmark New York venues with two shows at Carnegie Hall April 20 and 21 and two shows April 23 and 24 at The Apollo. The Indiana native has effortlessly blended genres of folk, rock, blues and soul since the 70s, with his commercial success solidified in the early 80s due to hits like “Hurts So Good,” “Jack & Diane” and “Pink Houses.” Mellencamp’s best quality is perhaps his ability to create songs that are meaningful across generations, conjuring up moments of nostalgia like “Small Town” to celebrating life like on his cover of Van Morrison’s 1971 song “Wild Night” which Mellencamp sang alongside Meshel Ndegeocello. Whether he’s saluting the 1960s with “R.O.C.K. In The USA,” touching souls with the strings of “Check It Out” or reminiscing on young romance in “Cherry Bomb,” he’s got something for everyone. One thing’s for sure, if you check out any of the four shows this month, you will be having anything but a “Lonely Ol’ Night” with John Mellencamp and friends.