Lucid Culture


Concert Review: The Disclaimers at Spikehill, Brooklyn NY 7/19/08

Arguably their best show. About three years ago, the Disclaimers were one of the half-dozen or so of the best rock bands in New York. Then their bass player quit, and the group went more or less dormant. They’re back, with a vengeance, and better than ever, triumphantly reclaiming their place in the A-list. Although everyone in this wildly energetic six-piece garage/soul unit sings, they really it took to to the next level when they plundered frontwoman Kate Thomason from Half Ajar. A powerful, soul-inflected singer with a raw, wounded edge in her voice and an effortlessly sultry stage presence, she adds as as much intensity as subtlety to the group, especially when they have their four-part harmonies going. 


Singer Naa Koshie Mills (who also plays in Maynard & the Musties) alternated between violin, trombone and keyboards, and ex-Lofos bassist Andy Nelson gave the low end plenty of dirty grit. They opened with the wickedly catchy garage rocker Pout, sung by keyboardist/guitarist Dan Sullivan, sounding like one of the warmer, more enticing numbers on Radio Birdman’s first album. Their best song of the night, a powerfully crescendoing anthem perhaps titled Beneath the Belly of the 7 Train was driven by Sullivan’s horror-movie organ work matched by Mills’ shrieks and swells on an old analog synth from the 70s. Other highlights of the set included an upbeat new garage number featuring Sullivan playing a sizzling Telecaster solo through what sounded like a Leslie speaker for an eerie, watery effect, and another new number, a 6/8 soul ballad featuring a somewhat bizarre doo-wop break in the middle that saw Strat player/singer Dylan Keeler rolling his eyes, as if to say, I can’t believe we’re all doing this, but it’s fun. Unsurprisingly, Thomason stole the show when she took over lead vocals, particularly on a rousing, heartbroken ballad that really gave her the chance to cut loose and use every dramatic wavelength in her range. They wrapped up the set with a typically scorching version of the crescendoing Stay out of My Dreams as well as good-naturedly energetic covers of Badfinger’s No Matter What and a tongue-in-cheek version of the old Stones chestnut Live With Me, pulsing along on Nelson’s growling bassline. What else is there to say: about an hour’s worth of music and not a single bad song. This one definitely ought to make our best-of list at the end of the year. The Disclaimers are back at Spikehill on Aug 15 at 9 PM.

July 19, 2008 Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Ninth House at Hank’s, Brooklyn NY 7/18/08

The house was absolutely packed, especially since the smokers for once weren’t hanging outside the club: it was too hot. It was warm inside too, even though the air conditioning was running full blast. Tonight Ninth House sounded like a good Doors bootleg: say what you want about Morrison, but the band was great, especially live. Ninth House frontman Mark Sinnis has a similar dark baritone croon, although his band has a punk/postpunk feel with alternately country and classical overtones, switching between their self-styled “cemetery and western” and a more ornate, stately, often majestically powerful vibe. What differentiates Ninth House from the legions of Nashville gothic bands, and postpunk bands, is that they jam. Not in the way that Phish or the Moe would jam, everybody soloing at once and making fools of themselves. This band jams like a great blues or jazz band, with a lot of remarkably smart, beautifully lush interplay. You can tell that everyone in the band is listening to each other and playing off each other, and having a lot of fun. The high point was at the end of the slow, haunting minor-key blues song Jealousy, where Sinnis’s bass and Matt Dundas’ piano traded off for several minutes, slowly building to an evil crescendo that Sinnis ended coldly and somewhat brutally. And then it was over.


Otherwise, they roared through a typically powerful set, opening with the crashing, distorted guitar chords of the anguished anthem Long Stray Whim, following with another roaringly furious song set to a swaying country beat, Your Past May Come Back to Haunt Me, and eventually the long, artsy ballad When the Sun Bows to the Moon. Their violinist Susan Mitchell, one of the most exciting soloists in town, was stuck in traffic and couldn’t make it, but Dundas stepped up delivered. After over an hour onstage, they closed the show with their usual final number, a punked-out version of Ghost Riders in the Sky which in this band’s hands is truly sinister rather than cheesy.


Hank’s is a great place. The sound tonight was crystal-clear, hard to imagine when you see this dump from the outside. There were no door Nazis with ID scanners – and no underage kids – inside either: it’s hard to imagine that a busload of post-prom children from some rich New Jersey suburb would find this place enticing. It’s just as hard to imagine a better time at any show anywhere in New York on what was such an otherwise depressing, lethally hot night.

July 19, 2008 Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews | Leave a comment