Lucid Culture


The Snow at Drom, NYC, 5/13/08

If memory serves right, the first Lucid Culture review of the Snow was something to the effect of “not bad for a side project.” What may have once been a side project for Melomane frontman/guitarist Pierre de Gaillande has evolved into a fulltime band with an avid following, a brand-new cd and a life of their own, which is less impressive than it seems: a first-rate musician can be in several projects at once without feeling the stress. Since Gaillande writes most of their songs, they sound a lot like Melomane’s eerie, artsy garage rock-influenced anthems, but more rustic and jazz-oriented, especially on keyboardist/chanteuse Hilary Downes’ torchy material. When singing, she’s impassive and inscrutable, but between songs she is absolutely true to her name, which isn’t crucial because, like Melomane, the band is obviously having a lot of fun onstage, but it’s another reason to like this crew. And they kept the good vibes going tonight with a lot of dark material.

Pulsing along on a subtle swing beat from the upright bass and drums, they ran through a captivating mix of styles: bluesy noir cabaret, anthemic art-rock and cerebral pop. De Gaillande has several songs on the soundtrack to a documentary about Dr. Bronner’s Soap, one of which they played tonight, along with a darkly sensual Downes number titled Shadows and Ghosts. The tongue-in-cheek Thirteen Arms Entwined, about the love affair between an octopus and a starfish, was replete with all kinds of tricky time changes and clever wordplay. One of the highlights of the night was another Downes composition, Undertow (which she insisted was the official title, since she wrote it), a brooding, brilliantly counterintuitive number where she used various places at the end of the chorus as jumping-off points for all kinds of unexpected mayhem. Perhaps the single best song in their repertoire is their eponymous signature tune, one in Gaillande’s ongoing “disaster song cycle,” a thematic collection about the apocalypse. This one is about the snowstorm to literally end all snowstorms, and although it missed the big crescendo they usually give it on the way out of the verse into the chorus, it still resonated hauntingly.

And a shout-out to the club: this was a cool night. The sound is excellent here, the crowd is chill and nobody bothers you. Drom has the potential to become 24/7 what Mehanata is on the weekends, a place for fun-loving New Yorkers who are sick of the Losangelization and Nazification of the Lower East Side.

May 15, 2008 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews

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