Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

The Pleasure Kills – Smash up the Radio b/w Over and Over

More cool stuff in over the transom. On their debut vinyl single, San Francisco quartet the Pleasure Kills describes themselves as “pop for punks.” Well put. Smash Up the Radio takes a familiar Ramones-style tune, takes it down a notch volume-wise and puts it into the hands of someone who can actually sing, in this case Pleasure Kills frontwoman Lydiot. Suddenly it’s 1981 all over again.

The b-side (a b-side, don’t you just love it?), Over and Over is actually the big hit here, sounding a LOT like vintage Blondie with the organ way up in the mix but not cheesy at all. This is the kind of song that you find yourself singing on the way to the train while your brain is still in cringe mode from the 9-to-5 lying in wait. Awesomely catchy. Sounds like they had a lot of fun recording it, and could be a lot of fun live too. The songs are also available as individual downloads at the band’s myspace

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March 9, 2008 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Maybe It’s the Beef After All

Regular readers will recall that we’ve been following the baseball steriod scandal off and on, if only for some badly needed comic relief. When Congress creates such an entertaining distraction, one has to wonder what nefarious things the Bush regime is up to while the world holds its breath waiting for Special Agent Jeff Novitzky to lower the boom on Roger Clemens.

But people are getting bigger. Maybe Clemens, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield and the rest of the New York Yankees (and other teams’ players) implicated in the scandal really are telling the truth. Maybe it’s the hormones in the beef. A recent AP report examining municipal water supplies contaminated by prescription drugs cited one instance in Nebraska where fathead minnows downstream from a factory beef feedlot had noticeably lower testosterone levels and small heads. The cause? Trenbolone, the same anabolic steroid that the Yankees’ Jason Giambi used to bulk up so he could hit all those home runs. As it turns out, factory feedlot cattle – the source of most beef in the US – have implants in their ears which supply a steady stream of the steroid, making the cows bulk up in the same manner as the sixty-odd ballplayers named in the infamous Mitchell Report.

Have you lately been subject to fits of unexplained, uncontrolled rage? Get an overwhelming urge to drive three times the speed limit, even in a school zone? Has your hat size grown threefold in the past decade? Do people behind you at concerts always ask you to move because you’re so damn much taller than they are? Maybe it’s time you got your water tested.

And by the way, all that business about Clemens being at Jose Canseco’s barbecue? It’s true. See, we were there. At least that’s what Special Agent Jeff Novitzky said we have to say, or else we’re getting audited. All those free cds, free tickets, guest lists, wine, cheese and countless beers from everybody who wants to be reviewed here? That’s income. So unless you have a video of the entire Canseco picnic, don’t expect us to say we weren’t there listening raptly to Canseco’s and Clemens’ wives comparing the fine points of breast implants*.

*supposedly this actually happened

March 9, 2008 Posted by | Conspiracy, Culture, Rant | Leave a comment

Concert Review from the Archives: Douce Gimlet and White Hassle at CB’s Gallery, NYC 3/9/00

[editor’s note – here’s another blast from the past. More new stuff tomorrow!]

Part of an “underground film festival,” in reality just a bunch of friends of videographer Jim Spring. Thus, the Douce and WH on the bill together again. A funny short film by Spring about misadventures in the East Village in the late 80s preceded the Douce’s excellent, highly electrifying 40-minute set. Violinist Josh Diamond was AWOL, which put the burden of melodic embellishment on frontman/guitarist Ben Plummer, and he rose to the occasion. They did the old and new intros back to back, Plummer playing tenor sax in tandem with baritone saxist Paula Henderson (of Moisturizer). Later, they did the strangely touching country ballad Little Lovers’ Society and then the high point of the entire night, a chilling, chromatically charged version of their best new song, The Well, Plummer wailing slowly and methodically through two powerful, blackboard-scraping, Keith Levene-esque solos. A bit later they returned to catchy, jazz-inflected pop territory with the propulsive, deliciously chordal Trudy, then eventually the walk-off instrumental where Plummer and Henderson left the stage with their saxes and while playing in tandem, slowly walked all the way to the front exit and then out onto the street while the rhythm section continued onstage.

After two films (one a hideous exercise in video masturbation, featuring a striptease from a sagging, sixtysomething woman, then Plummer’s frequently hilarious, dadaesque college film Juan Frijoles), White Hassle took the stage and wailed through an all-too-brief half-hour set. The punk/folk/country trio (just two guitars and drums) opened with an intro featuring a dj on turntables, then ripped through a tight, driven cover of the Robert Johnson classic Rolling and Tumbling. On their version of the Hollies’ The Air That I Breathe, lead player Matt Oliverio was painfully out of tune until he realized it about halfway through and wisely sat it out until the end of the song. Their big audience hit Life Is Still Sweet, set to a classic soul chord progression, was as warmly uplifting – and warmly received – as it always is. They closed with a wild, hyperkinetic version of their percussion-driven instrumental Futura Trance 2000, frontman Marcellus Hall putting down his guitar at one point to flail away on the empty beer keg, kitchen pots and the frame from a window fan that drummer Dave Varenka had brought along.

[postscript: Douce Gimlet broke up only a year later; their talented frontman would tragically die under very suspicious circumstances later in the decade. White Hassle seem to be on hiatus at this point, while their frontman continues his remarkably excellent solo career; however, they toured Europe last year and another doesn’t seem to be out of the question.]

March 9, 2008 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Concert Review from the Archives: Jimmy Rogers at Chicago Blues, NYC 3/9/95

[Editor’s note: from time to time we delve into the archives if we don’t have something brand-new to keep the front page fresh. Consider this an obscure alternative to “this date in rock – or in this case blues – history.”]

The band went on immediately at showtime, and they were good. The new keyboardist was the star of the show and took most of the solos. The white guy playing rhythm guitar had some unfortunate heavy metal tendencies but his Gibson’s sweet, sustained tone took the edge off. After the band had run through a few standards, Jimmy Rogers came up with his big, hollowbody Gibson and tentatively launched into Rock This House. He’s an uncommonly subtle, urbane player, fond of big, sustained jazzy chords: he doesn’t bear much resemblance to the guy who provided all that deceptively simple chordal work behind Muddy Waters back in the fifties. He rarely soloed, once trading off a few licks with the keyboardist, but that’s about it. The harp player who marred Rogers’ previous New York show at Downtime with his ridiculous ostentation was wisely kept in the background this time; the keyboardist stepped all over him every time he tried to solo. If that’s what it takes – other than outright firing the guy – to keep him in check, that’s what the band needs to do. After Rogers had been up there about 35 minutes, they decided to take a “break” which at this venue can mean a couple of hours, so it’s anybody’s guess if they ever came back or if there was anyone left at the bar when they did.

[Postscript: Rogers’ performance at this show was vital and energetic, at least as energetic as the relatively phleghmatic guitarist ever got; his death about about two years later came as quite a shock]

March 9, 2008 Posted by | blues music, concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment