Lucid Culture


NYC music calendar 5/15-22/07

Weds May 16 at 2 (two) PM,  Hazmat Modine plays the Hoboken Spring Jazz Festival, somewhere on  Washington St. It’s the main street in town after you get off the Path train. I suspect it will be within a short walk away: follow your ears and listen for dueling harmonicas and minor keys.


Also Weds May 16 Alec Stephen and his band play Luna, 10 PM. The ex-Railroad Jerk lead guitarist has been through several subsequent incarnations, and this straight-ahead rock unit is by far the best: he’s never been more rousing or melodic. And he’ll still throw in a few of theolder bluesy numbers  that he used to do so well.


Also Weds May 16, Mr. Action & the Boss Guitars play  Lakeside, 10 PM. This is the rhythm section from the pretty-much-defunct Supertones, plus two decent guitarists playing oldschool surf covers, most of them Ventures or Shadows songs. If you like your surf twangy, mellow and played on authentic instruments, this is your cup of salt water.


Also Thurs May 17 the Roulette Sisters play Freddy’s (around the corner from the Atlantic Yards railroad terminal) in Brooklyn, 9:30 PM. Four talented women on steel guitar, Gibson hollowbody guitar, violin and washboard singing obscure sex songs from the 1920s and 30s, most of them delta blues tunes. Also some deliciously fun originals, some Carter Family, some real oldtimey turn-of-the-20th-century stuff. One of the funnest, sexiest bands on the planet. You must see them sometime.



Also Thurs May 17 Elk City plays  Luna, 10 PM. Female-fronted band that manages to bridge the gap between noise-rock and janglerock, but with more crunchy guitars. They once covered the Dream Syndicate classic Tell Me When It’s Over and didn’t embarrass themselves, which is pretty impressive. 


Also Thurs May 17 guitar genius Matt Munisteri plays Barbes, 10 PM. Born a bluegrass cat, grown to be a jazzman, a devotee of the weird and obscure, the weirder and more obscure the better. You may hear covers of both oddball Western swing genius Willard Robison, and haunting, accordion-driven French musette instrumentals.


Also Thurs May 17 Flugente (which is Jerry Adler from the Blam, solo acoustic) plays  Zebulon on Wythe Ave. in Williamsburg at 9 PM. Brilliant lyricist, nonchalantly unpretentious singer, fueled by righteous rage and unable to resist a clever double entendre. Dylan and Leonard C. lurk somewhere in the background, faraway. 


Fri May 18 Ellen Foley plays  Lakeside, 11 PM. The ubiquitous Steve Antonakos on slide guitar. Ex 5 Chinese Brother Paul Foglino on Telecaster. The bandleader, an actress and onetime cohort of the Clash looks great, sounds better than ever and tells a great story: her persona is more or less slightly dotty grand dame of obscure rock n roll, and she plays it to the hilt, singing Foglino’s slightly dotty, Americana-inflected pop songs. And she pulls out a few obscure pop tunes that were European hits for her in the 80s. 


Also Fri May 18 Luther Wright and the Wrongs play Rodeo Bar, 2 sets 10:30 PM or so. The Canadian bluegrass cat and his band are best known (and rightfully so) for their brilliant cover of Pink Floyd’s album The Wall. But their originals are first-rate as well, with the requisite sense of humor and spectacular guitar/banjo chops.


Sat May 19 Randi Russo and her band play a show early at 5:30 at Cake Shop to celebrate her bass player’s birthday, as they’ve done for three years in a row now. She’s the eerie lefty guitarist and reigning mistress of hook-driven, smoldering outsider rock anthems. Lenny Molotov on spookily virtuosic Middle Eastern-inflected lead guitar. The Wowz follow on the bill with their gorgeous 2-part harmonies, sounding something like the Everly Bros. on speed.



Sun May 20, 9 PM Big Lazy plays the cd release for their mesmerisingly good new one, Postcards from X at the new Luna, Metropolitan and Havemeyer in Williamsburg. The world’s most consistently interesting, haunting, improvisational reverb guitar instrumental outfit takes a break from doing indie film scores and treats the locals to what they’ve been up to lately. The new cd explores a lot of hallucinatory, nightmare-tinged 90s Southwestern gothic in the spirit of great bands like Friends of Dean Martinez. Opening act the Droves are Coldplay wannabes. Strange segue to say the least.

 Mon May 21 Jenifer Jackson says farewell to NYC – at least for the time being – with an intimate and romantic show at 8 PM at Marion’s Marquee, the throwback old-NYC steakhouse at 354 Bowery up the block from what used to be CBGB’s. Just her and sensational noir jazz lead guitarist Oren Bloedow (from Elysian Fields). She’s moving to Austin: Texas’ gain is our loss. This will no doubt  be a particularly poignant parting.

May 14, 2007 Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City | Leave a comment

CD Review: Botanica – Berlin Hi-Fi

What do you do when your last album was arguably the best single-disc cd of the decade so far? Maybe you flip the script. Maybe you do something radically different, that no one can compare to your most recent effort. Maybe, you make a pop album – or part of one, anyway. That’s what Botanica has done with their latest masterpiece (their trademark epic grandeur and snarling ferocity roars back and takes over on the rest of the songs). It’s an unabashedly romantic (and Romantic) achievement, lush and orchestrated, eerie yet sexy as hell. Put this on the night table beside the Al Green and the Moonlighters: it’s bedroom music for cold starless nights.

Botanica’s trademark sound welds their towering, passionate, keyboard-driven melodicism to a dark, savage reverb guitar attack, blending elements of gypsy punk, classical music and goth into a powerful, potently cerebral cocktail. On this one, they don’t even start a song in 4/4 until the album’s fourth song. The album opens with the stately Eleganza and Wines, a beautiful, rueful lament for a time and place lost forever, played in slinky 7/8 meter. As is so typical with Botanica’s songs, it builds to a towering crescendo and then fades to its central hook. (And Then) Palermo maintains the feeling of regret, a gorgeously romantic pop song in 6/8. The cd’s following cut, its title track is the most overtly 90’s style indie rock song they’ve done to date, a little out of character, but it works: a joyous shout-out to Berlin, where they’ve built up a substantial following, and it’s obvious that the appreciation is mutual. Remember the last time you left the country, how good you felt, how absolutely liberated? If so, this is your anthem. Next song: Concrete Shoes. Classic Botanica, haunting and desperate. “Save me now/Tie the rope around my neck and pull me up.” The footfalls of Christian Bongers’ bass quickly creep along as the guitar and organ roar, building inexorable momentum. On the following cut, I’m Lifting, the tension recedes to the background, but just a little bit: the rest of the band plays over and around frontman/keyboardist Paul Wallfisch’s central, haunting electric piano arpeggio.

Next up is A Freestyle Kiss to Hedy Lamarr (whose image graces the cover of the album), laden with sadness, melodies pouring in and overflowing the carafe, staining the tablecloth shiraz red. Then we get the frenetic concert favorite Someone Else Again, with its ascending bassline and Hollywood noir feel: David Lynch could use this for his next movie if it’s anything like Mulholland Drive.

The scorching antiwar song Waking Up clocks in at barely a minute and a half, a throwback to the furious politically charged power of Botanica’s career-defining previous album, Botanica vs. the Truth Fish. The album’s next tune, I Desire perfectly encapsulizes where Botanica is now. John Andrews’ scary reverb guitar plays the song’s central arpeggio as Wallfisch’s funereal electric piano tones reverberate against it and build to a firestorm of emotion.

The album’s most likely radio hit – and there are many to choose from – is its next track, Not a Bear: “more ambitious than your average bear,” as the lyric goes. “Why sleep when you could be wide awake?” It’s a curious question, with Andrews’ menacing guitar and Wallfisch’s organ lurking in the background, and it might be rhetorical. The alternative could be fatal.

More political gypsy punk (and a wildly frenetic, deliciously climactic violin solo) with How, which the band frequently uses as an aptly furious concert encore. Then the sarcastic, Nick Cave-inflected Fame, a savage blast back at the entertainment-industrial complex and all the rockstar wannabes who buy into it.

Then a return to the same reflective tone the album began on, with This Perfect Spot. The cd’s secret track is Eleganza and Wines rearranged for string quartet and it’s absolutely beautiful, a spot-on way to close this gorgeous, meticulously arranged and fearlessly intense album. This is not your neighbor’s whiny, tuneless indie rock. It’s not your father’s bloated, bombastic prog rock. It’s the soundtrack to your life at top speed, full volume, every synapse at full power. Why sleep when you could be wide awake. Albums are available in better record stores, at shows and online.

Frontman Paul Wallfisch is on tour right now with the “coalmine canary,” noir chanteuse Little Annie but we should expect at least one NYC area show this summer after they return.

May 14, 2007 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments