Zachary Cale has become a good friend of The Revue. He was the second musician that I interviewed, going back to September 2013, where we enjoyed a few tacos and queso at Union Pool in Brooklyn. His fourth album, Blue Rider, was one of our 25 Favorite Albums of 2013, and not because he took time to do an interview but because it was one of the best folk albums of the year. The music was personal, intimate, and sincere, and Cale’s dynamic guitar playing – whether finger plucking each string or strumming a number of chords together – is showcased throughout the album’s 10 songs. Cale’s skills as a songwriter and guitar player were also celebrated by a number of online publications and blogs, not just ours.
Cale is busy working on his fifth album, which should be out this summer. In the meantime, he agreed to share with us five of New York City’s “best kept secrets”. Cale is a great person to ask for such a list because he originally was born in Louisiana and lived in Washington state for some years before moving to New York City. And in a town full of musicians, what a better way than to ask a transplanted resident to identify some hidden gems.
These are five of the best kept secrets in NYC. Trust me, these bands all deserve your attention. Go see them play and buy their records!
1. PLATES OF CAKE: One of the best rock quartets around. They play a sort of surrealist pop akin to The Kinks and The Soft Boys. Sometimes jangly, sometimes jagged, always catchy. They have two records behind their belt already and a third one on the way. Frontman Jonathan Byerley is the best rock lyricist in town by a NYC mile!
2. BABY COPPERHEAD: The moniker of one Benjamin Lee. Roots music that reaches for the stratosphere. Psychedelic banjo riffs over synth and string-based sonic tapestries enhance his unique poetic ramblings. His debut LP Distress from the Milky Way is brilliant.
3. VIRGINIA PLAIN: Moody electronic glam from the mind of Alfra Martini. Bridging the gap between the sultry laments of Bryan Ferry and the rougher hewn theatrics of Karen O, Virginia Plain is a pop diva in the making. Her voice is stirring, one that you won’t easily forget. Fun fact: Alfra is the genius behind The Kitten Covers Tumblr, and she also sings harmony on most of my records.
4. PURE HORSEHAIR: Garrett Devoe is one of my oldest NYC music pals. I played some of my first shows with him. He’s one of those guys that almost everyone in town knows. He’s a fixture of NYC. Without him, this town just wouldn’t be the same. He’s a great singer, a great guitar player, and just a great writer. A song poet of the highest order.
5. WOODSY PRIDE: Perhaps the greatest live band in NYC. Anyone that’s seen them will know what I’m talking about. There’s a connection between the musicians in this band that runs deeper than your average band. Together they create a highly spiritual music. If you can picture Will Oldham fronting the Dirty Three, then you’re getting a basic idea of their sound, but that’s only scratching the surface.
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