Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

With Static and Perception

When a party to your aggression,
We pass it off
As a cocktail hour parfait,
The delicate whipped cream
Accenting a Dijonaise.

When a party to your aggression,
We flinch,
Drawn taut.
We flail
In the peppered afterthought
Of your goose liver pate.

When a party to your aggression,
There is a bangbang
A shot you think is true.
Cutting flesh
Like flesh cuts you.

But these fantasies are just that.
The ghosts of culture
The Gladstone of the Frontier
The historic yearning
For a past without fear.

Our reality
Asks something more.
With static,
And perception
Our peace is here..

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April 19, 2007 Posted by | Culture, philosophy, poetry, Politics | Leave a comment

NYC music calendar 4/18-25/07

Weds Apr 18 System Noise play Lit on 2nd Ave., 9
PMish. Ferocious, female-fronted art-rockers who are
arguably the best live band in town. Scorching,
macabre lead guitar, a frontwoman with spectacular
vocal range, a pummeling, melodic rhythm section and a
shocking amount of catchy melody for such a loud band.

Also Weds Apr 18 songwriter David LK Murphy plays
Sidewalk, 9 PM. Worth seeing even though it’s just him
and the acoustic guitar, a fine lyricist with a dark
streak and an uncommon sense of tunefulness.

Also Weds Apr 18, panstylistic guitar monster Matt
Munisteri plays legendary oldschool bar Sonny’s in Red
Hook, 9ish, B61 bus to Beard St., last stop, follow
Beard down to the crossstreet, make a right, then make
a left on Conover, keep going and you’re there. Don’t
let this guy’s urbane humor and debonair charm fool
you: he’s evil. Raised on bluegrass, steeped in jazz
and fueled by a skewed, lyrical undercurrent, he’s one
of the great ones. Hell of a songwriter too.

Thurs Apr 18 Israeli-American songstress Vered plays with brilliant guitarist Rod Hohl from Mary Lee’s Corvette, 8 PM. Casual, unpretentious, and
capable of generating genuine chills down your spine.

Thurs Apr 19 another good reason to live in NYC:
Munisteri plays with Jenifer Jackson accordionist Joey
Barbato at Barbes, 9 PM. The guitarist you just read
about and may very well know: he gets around. The
keyboardist is one of the most original, melodic,
interesting players you will ever hear, a master of
saying much with little, a guy who is singlehandedly
reinventing what the accordion can do.

Later Fri Apr 20 Flugente AKA Jerry Adler from the
Blam plays his quietly scorching, acoustic “expatriate
songs” at Pete’s, 10 PM. His new solo album is the
best thing he’s ever done, all simmering rage and
cleverly elliptical wordplay. See him if you’re
feeling any unease about the multimillion-dollar,
plastic-and-sheetrock boxes sprouting on every
streetcorner. CD review below.

Also Fri Apr 20 for those who like their surf music
mellow and authentically old-school, Mr. Action and
the Boss Guitars play Lakeside, 11 PM They keep it
pretty pop – don’t expect to hear them thrash their
way through Mr. Moto – but if you like the Ventures’
first singles, they do a pretty good job replicating
them.

Sat Apr 21 C. Depp and Gerald Jay King play starting
at 8 PM at Marquise Dance Hall 291 Grand Street, (btwn
Roebling & Havemeyer), Williamsburg. Both share a
creepy lo-fi sensibility. Depp is the more
accomplished of the two, drawing on a lot of dark 80s
influences and has a terrific new album out, Belle
Epine. King is more of a traditional Americana
singer-songwriter. Cheap beers & wine, charcoal
drawings & silver wall hangings to cast your eyes
upon. L train to Bedford Ave.

Later Sat Apr 21 Black 47 does their last show at
Connolly’s on 46th St. for awhile, 10:30 PM. A NYC
institution. Larry Kirwan still writes rousing
Celtic-American anthems in the spirit of James
Connolly and Bobby Sands. The braying sax can get
irritating – think Clarence Clemons – but Kirwan’s
righteous rage hasn’t diminished a bit in 20 years,
and they never phone it in.

Later Sat Apr 21 Liza & the WonderWheels play
Freddy’s in Flatbush, 11 PM, B/D/Q/2/4 to Atlantic
Ave.. Their material is thoughtful, jangly 80s
quirk-rock: think a more melodic Robyn Hitchcock with
an uncompromising political sensibility, a dynamic
frontwoman who can really belt, and a spectacularly
fast, incisive, Richard Lloyd-influenced lead
guitarist

Also Sat Apr 21 Tandy plays Lakeside, 11 PM. Louder,
more original, more rocking and less overtly
Wilco-influenced than they were earlier in their
career. They’re big in Europe: under better
circunstances they’d be able to play a lot larger room
than the one here.

Also Sat Apr 21 the two best male singers in town (now
that Buddy Woodward has hightailed it to the hills of
Virginia), Jack Grace and Mark Sinnis play Banjo
Jim’s, Ave. C and 9th St., 11 PM. A double bill that
should have happened a long time ago. The former is a
Merle Haggard/George Jones devotee and writes songs
that sound that they could have been on country radio
during those guys’ heyday – and is also very funny.
The headliner is sort of an amalgam of Ian Curtis and
Johnny Cash, fronts Nashville gothic rockers Ninth
House and is predictably just as eerie in an acoustic
setting.

Also Sat Apr 21 traditional Greek rebetika band Magges
play Sidewalk, midnight. They bring ouzo. You will
want some after hearing their deliriously danceable,
classic 1920s and 1930s hash smoking music. How the
club will cope with the dancing is anybody’s guess.

Sun Apr 22 Matty Charles & the Valentines play
Pete’s, 10 PM. Their residency may be over, and
they’ve taken it to the next level; Charles’ following
is well-deserved among both country purists and those
who think the Cowboy Junkies are from Nashville. Or
from Brooklyn.

Weds Apr 25 the Silos play Rodeo Bar, 10:30ish. Indie
rock legends who went further out on the Americana tip
as the 90s went on, whose passionate live shows far
surpass their recent album output. But they have some
genuine classics: if we get lucky they’ll do Let’s
Take Some Drugs and Drive Around.

Weds Apr 25 Bogs Visionary Orchestra plays Sidewalk
at midnight. Formerly known as Swampbelly, they’re a
bunch of Mexicans playing rousing, lickety-split,
authentically down-home American bluegrass. A hell of
a lot more authentic than, say, Staten Island-born
Buster Poindexter playing salsa.

April 19, 2007 Posted by | Live Events | 1 Comment

CD Review: Flugente

A quietly brilliant debut solo album from Jerry Adler, frontman of highly regarded indie rockers the Blam. Just him, his acoustic guitar and casually unpretentious voice. Adler describes his music as “expatriate songs.” This is a probably mostly autobiographical concept album, written over the course of a European trip from the point of view of someone who’s reached the end of his rope and needs to get away for awhile so he can pull his shit together. The trip comes across as totally ghetto, all house-sitting, roughing it and fretting about money, and it’s obvious that he didn’t have a very good time. But the return to New York looms even more dreadful.

“It’s ok, it’s ok” whispers Adler at the end of the initial song, Animals, after he’s worked himself into a frenzy, clearly fed up with the same old rut. Memo to self: chill out before you hurt yourself or someone else. The next cut finds him in Spain on his 38th birthday, all by himself and slowly losing it:

Yeah I’m lying in the bed of a famous artist
But the artist isn’t me
We’re just apartment-sitting
And I can do that successfully

The following track is a flashback to night in New York. The wee hours. The narrator jolted from his sleep by the earsplitting screech of a garbage truck’s reverse-gear alarm. Homicide is an option, contemplated but eventually abandoned. He ends up waking up late in a room with walls stained by “blood from other evenings.”

Jump cut to Europe again on track four, Reflections in France on the Subject of Sleeping in the Rain. One of the creepiest vocals ever recorded, Adler’s gleeful grin only underscoring the barely restrained rage of a man who’s reached his limit and might just do the unspeakable: “I guess this is not my day of reckoning,” he intones.

Eventually the trip takes an encouraging turn, on Reflections in Italy on the Subject of Speaking Again. Then another rainstorm (lots of rain on this album, almost Dostoyevskyan), with Standing Pissing on the Pebbles. But the rage has congealed, the inspiration concretized, and he’s reinvigorated, not ready to give in. This comes to a spectacular crescendo on the next track, It’s a Modern World. “Death to all hipsters!” rails Adler in this furious broadside against the corruption of Bushite apocalypse-mongers and the effeteness of the privileged classes. It’s mostly a rap, the guitar kicking in only when the song’s almost,over, and it’s a genuine classic. “The world needs people singing these songs and at least I can say I’m singing one,” he concludes. Live in concert, watching the audience at a Flugente show during this song is an experience to die for: slack jaws drop even lower, glazed eyes begin to focus from behind carefully coiffed mops of greasy hair and the occasional muttered curse word can even be heard.

After that, in From a Hilltop Cabin, he ends up in Switzerland looking down on the “belly of the beast” and not looking forward to going home. While his father came to this bastion of Nazi collaboration to kill, Adler realizes that he’s here for a completely opposite reason. Hope has returned, even in the presence of six million ghosts.

On the cd’s concluding cut, I’m Thinking about Going Home, Adler returns from the trip liberated, not particularly happy to be back but ready to embrace all that makes this city beautiful, in its uniquely twisted way. The secret? What he probably was doing before slipping into the chasm: getting off the couch, away from the tv and going out. Seeing people instead of just talking to them on the phone. Living as intensely as we can do only here. All this may seem obvious, but to so many of us, scattered across the five boroughs, working way too many hours, getting too little sleep and maybe polluting ourselves with things almost as toxic as what we have to deal with on the job, it’s a welcome reminder.

This album speaks with a universality to anyone who has lived here and loved this town. Adler is New York to the core: tough, urbane, full of self-effacing black humor. He’s a master of understatement and ellipsis: violence is always alluded to, never oncamera, but never far away. Things are defined by antithesis, shadows, what they’re not supposed to be. Melodically, Dylan and Leonard Cohen are obvious reference points, but through a glass, darkly. Or imagine Evan Schlansky in a particularly black mood. But ultimately Adler AKA Flugente is his own man. This is a killer 3 AM album, the musical equivalent of The Sun Also Rises for a new generation – hell, for ageneration that’s alive. Get this if you have any affection for or fond memories of this dear, rapidlydying city.

Flugente is terrific live;  CDs are available at shows. Flugente plays Pete’s Candy Store on Fri Apr 20 at 10 PM.

April 19, 2007 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments