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NY Culture
Some Hip-Hop for the Holidays
From the Wall Street Journal of Tue, 16 Dec 2014 23:43:46 EST
arryl McDaniels and Joseph Simmons of Run-DMC
arryl McDaniels and Joseph Simmons of Run-DMC Getty Images
‘Christmas in Brooklyn’ with Run-DMC and LL Cool J

Barclays Center
620 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn
(212) 359-6387
In the world-wide force that is hip-hop, Run-DMC of Hollis, Queens, is the equivalent of the Beatles, showing millions how—with nothing more than two turntables and a microphone—a musical revolution could be enacted. Streetwise, savvy, playful, brusque, the group was the face of the burgeoning genre in the early ’80s, entrancing an entire generation of kids. Though known now as a television actor, fellow hip-hop originator LL Cool J was a dynamic force of his own, alternately playing tough guy and lover man across 20 years of hits. Both perform as part of “Christmas in Brooklyn,” which will no doubt give LL’s “Rock the Bells” a jingle-y spin.

‘ Dave Harrington & Friends Holiday Spectacular!’

289 Kent Ave., Brooklyn
(718) 599-1450
Guitarist Dave Harrington has gained renown in the past year as one half of the brooding guitar-electronics duo with feted producer Nicolas Jaar as Darkside. The duo’s debut album “Psychic” was a breakout hit, mixing body-moving beats with Mr. Harrington’s noir-ish guitar lines, which evoked favorable comparison to Dire Straits. But he’s also an adventurous player on his own, dabbling in jazz, metal and more. With Darkside taking a break from touring, Mr. Harrington has convened a seven-piece house band for this loose-knit holiday concert, inviting musician friends from indie bands like Dirty Projectors, Bear in Heaven, The Antlers and Real Estate to sing their favorite holiday songs.

The indie-pop band Real Estate
The indie-pop band Real Estate Shawn Brackbill
Real Estate

Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 N. Sixth Street, Brooklyn
(718) 486-5400
Hailing from the suburbs of Ridgewood, N.J., the indie-pop band Real Estate began as the song-oriented weirdos on Brooklyn noise bills before coming into their own. The band didn’t overhaul their sound or do anything drastic in the intervening space between 2011’s breezy “Days” and this year’s excellent “Atlas,” but in refining their songcraft, they struck a chord nevertheless, playing bigger venues and even sharing the stage with the likes of Weezer. Main songwriter Martin Courtney ’s lyrics embraced maturity, which balanced the band’s jangly, REM and Feelies-indebted guitar pop with a pensive touch. The resultant songs sparkled brighter and resonated with a greater depth.

Nick Lowe

Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 N. Sixth Street, Brooklyn
(718) 486-5400
It’s hard to imagine the rock subgenre of “power pop” having the same punch without the contributions of Nick Lowe. As songwriter, guitarist and producer, his songs are pinnacles of the genre, whether singing them—as on “Cruel to be Kind”—or penning them for the likes of Elvis Costello (see “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding”). Last year, Mr. Lowe trained his sharp eye on Christmas with “Quality Street,” making for a fresh, festive and nonintrusive take on the holiday album. On Saturday night, Mr. Lowe will be backed by Los Straitjackets, meaning holiday carols as rendered by men in Mexican wrestling masks.

Matthew Dear
Matthew Dear Matthew Reeves
Matthew Dear

54 N. 11th St., Brooklyn
(347) 223-4732
While he has prolific and aurally distinct recording monikers (Audion, Jabberjaw, False), Matthew Dear evolves enough under his own name to keep his fanbase on its toes. His earliest singles evoked classic Detroit techno as well as the cutting edge of Berlin minimal music, while Mr. Dear’s full-length albums range even further afield. Traces of krautrock, glam, and funk commingle with techno, resulting in a strong amalgam of rock and electronic music. It’s been two years since he’s released new material, but Mr. Dear now serves as a resident at Verboten in Williamsburg. His monthly Subversions party stylishly mixes DJ sets and live performance. With Paco Osuna, Aril Brikha and Michael Gracioppo.

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