Kidrockers featuring Hospitality and Ex Cops
Kidrockers presents some of NYC's finest new bands, including DIIV, Widowspeak, Caveman, Hooray For Earth, Reputante and Hospitality. At Kidrockers, bands perform original songs in a way that is both authentic and kid-friendly. Hosts Seth Herzog (Jimmy Fallon, Sweet) and Craig Baldo bring hilarity and interactivity to these all ages family rock shows. "We love to hear great new music -- and so do our kids." says Kidrockers founder Beth Lorge. "We want to create an opportunity for kids and parents to discover artists and get to see them play live in a fun, safe and comfortable environment."
The angular, intricate, and intelligent compositions of Hospitality signal a sophisticated new pop voice. Singer Amber Papini’s idiosyncratic songwriting and incisive lyrics coupled with the band’s rich arrangements on their self-titled debut explore youth, New York, and the bittersweet commingling of past and present in a way that feels just right, right now.
From the opening phrase of “Eighth Avenue,” guitar hooks are balanced with a cultivated melody. Papini’s singing has a wisp of an English accent via Kansas City (she learned to sing by imitating Richard Butler on The Psychedelic Furs’ Talk Talk Talk) and her lyrics create a moonstruck, even cinematic vision of New York City, where the band formed in 2007. The production by Shane Stoneback (Vampire Weekend, Sleigh Bells) and band member Nathan Michel (guitar, drums, keyboards), who released his share of experimental “bedroom” pop, culminating in 2005’s The Beast (Skipp/Sonig), imbues the entire record with an intimate yet prodigious sound, layering period keyboards with horns, synthesizers, and treated guitars.
Hospitality the album has an overarching vision and should be listened to as a whole, though every song registers as a single. (Will Merge take a cue from Epic’s Thriller campaign and release seven singles? They should!) “Friends of Friends” could break the Hot 100 with its heavy intro, swingin’ breakdown, and horn riffs; “Betty Wang,” the lynchpin of their live set a few years back, is impossibly catchy, the story of one of Papini’s real-life colleagues at a financial day job; and “The Right Profession” is a power-pop burst of an anthem with Papini chanting the immortal line, “It’s hard to change!” (Isn’t it?) And “The Birthday,” with a sinuous, dissonant lead guitar, the lockstep rhythm of the drums, and Brian Betancourt’s nimble bass, wouldn’t be out of place on The Police’s debut record, but its epic coda makes it decidedly CinemaScope. Hospitality, while hearkening back to ‘70s/‘80s pop—both Elvis Costello and Kate Bush are influences—has an ambitious vision: its big promise is nowhere more evident than on the gorgeous anthem “Julie,” the album’s centerpiece which already sounds like a classic. The song’s lush, glorious build is coupled with lyrics inspired by Papini’s great-grandfather, a Pennsylvania coalminer.
Reprising some songs from a self-released 2008 EP recorded by Karl Blau (K Records) allows Hospitality to nod to its beginnings as a more lo-fi outfit; that early intimacy can be found in the arrangement of the cheeky and distinctly NC-17 “Liberal Arts.” And after patiently honing its craft, playing concerts (and gaining converts), Hospitality has reached what will be its first apex with many more heights to come; from their modest debut in a Red Hook row house, the band has evolved from four-track low-fidelity to a luxury five-star future.
Ex Cops – Daggers
Out October 2014 via Downtown Records
Ex Cops, a nomadic duo featuring Amalie Bruun and Brian Harding, brings the hook-heavy blast of ‘90s alt-rock into a new era on their second album Daggers. Executive produced by icon-of-form Billy Corgan and produced by Justin Raisen (Sky Ferriera, Charli XCX, Kylie Minogue), the record rescues guitar-pop from the bedroom, returning it to the stage it deserves.
Formed in 2011, the group’s first album True Hallucinations, released in early 2013, was a critically-acclaimed collection of sprawling indie-pop. From the exuberant “Spring Break (Birthday Song)” to the band’s dreamy debut “You Are A Lion, I Am A Lamb,” the John Siket-produced record (Blonde Redhead, Yo La Tengo) was a genre-jumping opening salvo and its wall-to-wall guitars set the tone for their new album.
Daggers is a musical about-face, though. “We are not afraid of our favorite music anymore,” says Harding. “It’s pop.”
Billy Corgan, in addition to sharing the band’s love of ABBA and taking them to their first wrestling match, provided form and texture to the new tracks over a two-week period in Chicago. The band then took the material to LA for tracking with Raisen and continued collaborating with artists like Ariel Pink, who co-wrote “Burnt Out Love” and features on “Tragically Alright.”
The result reinvents modern rock. “White Noise,” with its addictive chorus, merges guitars that could make your teeth ache and a motorik electronic pop pulse. The impeccably-produced “Teenagers” brings club-ready downtown pop to an anthemic peak, while “Black Soap” shifts shoegaze textures to stadium status and “Rooms,” one of the album’s emotionally-resonant ballads, packs a substantial punch.
1. Black Soap
2. White Noise
5. Pretty Shitty
6. Burnt Out Love
7. Modern World
8. Wanna Be (feat. L.P.)
9. Tragically Alright (feat. Ariel Pink)
11. Weird With You
Hosted By Seth Herzog and Craig Baldo
SETH HERZOG is the warm-up comic and appears on sketches on Late NIght with Jimmy Fallon. His long running weekly show "Sweet" is a staple of the downtown alternative comedy scene.
CRAIG BALDO performs at colleges, festivals and and clubs throughout North America and has appeared on NBC, Comedy Central, VH1 and Showtime.