Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Newsville Washington with Lisa Lost and Frankie Monroe Live in NYC 7/30/08

This summer’s latest reminder that if a band can perform even reasonably well under nasty circumstances, they’re definitely worth seeing at a more comfortable hour of the night in an airconditioned club. Ever see a singer-songwriter with a good melodic sense play solo and wish they had a good band behind them? Today Newsville Washington had the good sense to do just that. Washington writes catchy, tuneful, upbeat pop with an occasional ska or rocksteady edge and sings in a pleasant, thoughtful voice with just the hint of a rasp. He also has something of a social conscience, starting his outdoor, noontime set at Liberty Park in the Financial District solo, backed by just a beatbox, delivering a Linton Kwesi Johnson-inflected rap deploring guns and violence. Then he picked up his acoustic guitar and played a politically charged number possibly titled World of Denial before bringing up the rest of the crew.

 

Which was the story of the day: Washington had brought along Lisa Lost and Frankie Monroe from DollHouse. For a couple of years around the turn of the century, the noir rockers were arguably the best live band in New York. With their eerie three-part harmonies, ominous tunesmithing and surreal lyrics about suicide attempts, monster marriages and people who only come out at night, DollHouse pretty much ruled the small clubs until they broke up a couple of years later. Playing with Washington, Lost played rock-solid rhythm through a watery chorus effect pedal and sang characteristically crystalline harmonies while Monroe – one of the smartest bass players in all of rock – essentially served as lead guitarist while propelling the unit with his innovative, surprise-packed, fluidly reggae-inflected lines. They ran through a bunch of pleasantly breezy originals, a couple of love songs and an aptly timed number about chilling out during the summer when it gets too hot to function.

 

“I think we should all support the troops,” Lost said emphatically while introducing a somewhat darker song possibly called Soldiering On. “We should make sure they get the hospitalization, and the medical care they need. We should bring them all home – we don’t belong over there anyway.”  Spoken just a stone’s throw away from the belly of the beast, Wall Street, her comments took on a special significance.

 

Then they played the DollHouse classic Smile. It’s a fast, upbeat, pretty ska number on the theme of unity and coming together that bounces off an irresistible, major-to-minor hook and builds from there. Lost sang it with the same effortless joy as she did in her old band, a poignant reminder of a better time and place before 9/11 and the explosion of multimillion-dollar plastic luxury condos. After about 45 minutes under a makeshift tent provided by the Parks Department, the trio called it an afternoon. The only thing marring the show – other than the awful weather – was the drum machine that kept cutting in and out throughout the set, inevitably returning in places where it was especially unwelcome. Lost and Monroe both have excellent timing: why even bring the thing?

 

Aside from that, if intelligent, fun songwriting is your thing, Washington is someone well worth seeing. Especially if he has Lost and Monroe behind him.

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July 30, 2008 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews

1 Comment »

  1. Hi my name is Frankie play drums I know you talk to Jerry he said that you are not coming I really need you to come down

    Comment by Frankie drums | July 20, 2009 | Reply


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