Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

India Tests Short-Range Nuclear Missile

This just in: India has just successfully tested a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead at a distance of just 435 miles. Presumably, a successful test means that at the end of the flight, the missile crashes.

Isn’t this like building the kitchen over the septic tank?

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March 23, 2008 Posted by | Politics, Rant | Leave a comment

Matty Charles Live at Pete’s Candy Store, Brooklyn NY 3/23/08

“Are you following the presidential race?” Matty Charles asked the crowd who’d filled the tables in the little back room at Pete’s.

Silence.

“I kind of like this Obama guy,” he admitted. More silence. This was white Williamsburg, 2008, after all, strictly Republican territory, if these people vote at all.

“The thing that impresses me is that he can actually speak…that’s something we should require of all our politicians,” deadpanned Charles. He went on to give Obama credit for not reducing his response to the tempest-in-a-teapot over Rev. Jeremiah Wright to a soundbite. “Even if it ends up derailing him,” he added somberly. Then Charles played a catchy, oldtimey new song that sounded straight out of the Woody Guthrie catalog, a familiar-sounding, upbeat broadside about the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer and still paying all the taxes. But it ended as a resounding call for the people who “pick the apples that make this apple pie” to get up and do something about it. A song like this coul have come across as strident, but delivered in Charles’ warm, laid-back baritone, effortlessly fingerpicked on his acoustic guitar, it had a ring of authenticity.

If memory serves right, Charles and his band the Valentines took over the weekly Sunday residency that Rev. Vince Anderson had held for what seems like ages back in the late 90s and early zeros. Since then he’s been all over the place and back again and tonight he was back, for sure. A weekly residency can be a blessing – regular gigs keep your chops fresh and give you a chance to work up a lot of material over a relatively short period of time, but they can also be a curse because they drag on your fan base. Conventional wisdom to the contrary, New Yorkers, especially the newer arrivals, tend not to be the most adventurous types. Most of us will go out to see a friend’s band, others go because a band reputedly draws cute girls (or boys), but counting on a fan base to populate a club week after week is tough. But Charles has that fan base, and he’s earned it. Americana is his thing, veering to the oldtimey, folk side of country: he’s been compared to Guy Clark, but he’s a better singer and a considerably better songwriter, somebody who would rhyme “screw ya” with “hallelujah” as he did tonight. Jack Grace is probably a better comparison, although whiskey doesn’t figure as prominently in Charles’ songwriting, and he doesn’t milk the crowd for laughs. As with his vocals, the humor in his songs is completely casual, like the story he told tonight about going into what turned out to be a drug deli on Williamsburg’s south side back in the day when such places were everywhere, looking for a beer, but finding only milk in the store’s cooler.

That this site has been up now for almost a year and Charles hasn’t been reviewed here until now is, to be blunt, kind of stupid. There. It’s been done. You should go see him sometime: lately he’s been at Pete’s every Sunday at 8:30 and has a new album coming out next month. If the songs he played tonight are any indication, it’ll be as good as his last one.

March 23, 2008 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

4 Cool Cats Need a Home

One of Brooklyn’s great drummers is moving and unfortunately can’t take his four adult cats with him: two completely mellow house cats, and two indoor/outdoor male cats, both fixed. Anyone interested in adopting one or more of them should click on “about” at the top of this page and scroll down to the bottom for our email contact info.  

Feel free to repost this or pass the info on to anyone who’d make a good companion for these furry friends.

March 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Meet the Sweet Bitters!

The astonishingly good, catchy, wickedly smart debut from the Sweet Bitters, two of New York’s most unique songwriting talents. When she’s at the top of her game, Sharon Goldman is one of the world’s foremost pop tunesmiths, alongside Aimee Mann and Elvis Costello. Her full-length debut (released under her former name Sharon Edry) is one of the best artsy pop albums ever made, a feast of luscious guitar and keyboard textures. Nina Schmir first made a mark in the New York scene as one of the superb harmony singers in Aimee Van Dyne’s band. Since that group broke up, she’s been plying her solo work, acoustic songs imbued equally with devious wit and haunting intensity. She’s also a tremendously good singer (as one would imagine from someone who worked closely with Van Dyne), with a velvety high soprano rich with subtlety and emotion. Goldman is just as subtle, with a slightly lower register and a casual, completely unaffected, almost conversational style. The duo’s layers of harmonies on this album are often wrenchingly beautiful. Each songwriter contributes two songs to this effort.

The first, Clocks Fall Back is a total 60s throwback, an instant classic with its lush bed of chiming acoustic guitars and soaring harmonies, an unforgettable melody that lingers like Hazy Shade of Winter or California Dreaming. Goldman’s evocative lyrics paint a vivid yet characteristically nuanced, somewhat melancholy picture of twilight New York, 2008.

Falling Into Place, another Sharon Goldman number is perhaps the Sweet Bitters’ Perfect Day, the song’s narrator breezing along Seventh Avenue (in Brooklyn, naturally) hoping to see her main squeeze: “Only gravity keeps me from flying,” she smiles. It’s another indelible New York (or make that Brooklyn!) moment.

Nina Schmir’s Last Time This Way bounces along on a classic piano pop melody, with tasteful strings in places. ““Don’t say silly things that make your ears ring,” she cautions. The album’s final track is the somewhat jazz-inflected, pensive, intriguingly titled Monterey SPBG. The Monterey in the song is actually a town in the Berkshires (although it’s not named here); SPBG stands for Suckling Pigs and Baby Goats, which was a silly working title Schmir came up with in characteristic fashion while playing the song for a friend in a park in Chinatown. A truck passed by, the phrase emblazoned on its side, and suddenly the tune had a name. For a little while, at least.

The album is available online and at shows. The Sweet Bitters play Saturday, March 22 at 9 PM at the Perch Café, 365 Fifth Avenue in Park Slope.

March 23, 2008 Posted by | Music, music, concert, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment