Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: The Claudia Acuna Sextet at Rose Bar, Brooklyn NY 12/30/08

Game plan was to peek in to catch a little of what Brooklyn Rider violinist Johnny Gandelsman and his violist cousin Ljova from the Kontraband were up to at Barbes before heading over to Williamsburg. This time out it was just the two of them making their way through some Mozart, a trio of Martinu madrigal arrangements and then a Ljova original with characteristic passion matched by steely elan. As it turned out, it would have been possible to stick around for their whole set and even have time for a stop afterward at the wonderful oldschool donut shop on 7th Avenue by the subway, considering that Chilean/American jazz chanteuse Claudia Acuna and her brilliantly terse backing band didn’t hit the stage til an hour after their schedule showtime. But no matter.

 

Throughout her hourlong set, Acuna showed off a casual sophistication with a raw, soulful edge and an impressive social awareness. She doesn’t play coy or seductive; hopes and dreams are what she’s all about, and she’s generous about sharing them. In her matter-of-fact mezzo-soprano, she took a thoughtful, heartfelt, heartwarming excursion through a mix of older and more recent material, saving any kind of vocal embellishment for where she absolutely needed to drive the point home: unlike a lot of jazz singers, lyrics are crucial to this performer. As intricate and cerebral as the show was with its tricky time signatures and subtle but frequently intense interplay, ultimately it was all soul music.

 

The band played seamlessly: because of the similarity between the textures of the guitar and Jason Lindner’s electric piano, it was often hard to tell who was playing what. They opened with a bubbly, amusing tune titled Cigarrito, amusingly chronicling the misadventures of a guy who rolls his own. Color de Suenos (The Color of Dreams) was half flamenco, half George Benson, edgy with a slow burn as the guitarist added dark accents over Lindner’s cascading Fender Rhodes. The dreamy, hopeful Tulum built to a nice crescendo, Acuna’s steadfast vocalese holding it together as the intensity grew.

 

Acuna likes cold endings, and the offhandedly caustic La Mentira (Liar) made excellent use of one after one of Lindner’s spacey, echoey Rhodes solos. She also sang a couple of numbers in flawless English: one over a pulsing, straight-up groove, imagining a better world than the painful, poverty-stricken one we live in, and a prayer delivered over a steady reggae beat, eventually coming down to a lusciously fat, minimalist bass solo (when the bassist takes the best solo of the night, you know either something’s dreadfully wrong, or the band is flat-out amazing).

 

The night’s best songs came at the end. The first opened with a vamp reminiscent of the Bill Withers classic Use Me, Lindner’s electric piano rivulets shadowing the guitarist’s tersely aggressive, almost hostile melody line. The encore was the high point of the night, pounding, dark and fiery with distorted guitar. When it came time for Lindner to solo, he turned his distortion up for a horror movie setting, climbing to angry crescendos punctuated by roaring bass chords. And then it ended, much too soon. Watch this space for upcoming shows by Acuna and her band.

 

And if you’re a latin music fan and you haven’t been to Rose Bar lately, you ought to. The sound is excellent and the vibe is remarkably casual for a club that draws as much first-class, big-ticket talent as they’ve had here over the last several months. 

 

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December 31, 2008 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, Reviews | Leave a comment

CD Review: Bill Frisell – History, Mystery

Hey, have you heard the latest Bill Frisell cd? He’s not the kind of artist we usually review here, because to do so would be somewhat redundant. The guitarist routinely takes a weeklong stand at the Vanguard and sells out, and does the same at much larger halls around the world, so he doesn’t exactly need any more press than he already gets. But in case you don’t know him, you should. How to describe? Sort of the anti Al DiMeola. Every year, Frisell leads the league in the Fewest Wasted Notes category. He makes everything he plays count. Unsurprisingly, his style is thoughtful and exploratory, with a warm, conversational vibe. He set the paradigm for that on his 2004 double live cd East, West, which is like being in Frisell’s living room for a late night hang –  everybody’s had a bunch of wine, then Frisell plugs in his guitar and starts exploring. This one follows in the same vein but much darker: the eerie opening chords sound straight out of the Big Lazy songbook.

 

Also a double live cd, it’s arranged as a suite with a lot of recurring themes. The first cd centers around two recurrent melodies, Probability Cloud and Struggle, both considerably apprehensive. Led by the string section (Jenny Scheinman on violin, Eyvind Kang on viola and vet Hank Roberts on cello), the supporting cast here typically goes for a somewhat austere, ambient feel, cornetist Ron Miles or saxist Greg Tardy stepping out with some boisterously bluesy playing when the mood calls for it. The rhythm section (Tony Scherr on bass and the redoubtable Kenny Wollesen on drums) follows Frisell, keeping it beautifully terse and simple. And Frisell keeps it counterintuitive. The Baboucar Traore African desert blues gets a light, breezy blue-sky treatment; the Sam Cooke standard Change Is Gonna Come, by contrast, starts out with a sweet, purist vibe and then gets dark fast. Frisell knows that change is scary, change looming in the distance, barrelling down on you in the same lane at sixty miles an hour and you’d better do some changing yourself, quick. And then he brings the darkness back quickly with Monk’s Jackie-ing.

 

The album’s second cd is much the same, with a couple more recurring themes, this time more upbeat and traditional-sounding with the cornet and sax taking a higher profile. But like East, West, it’s the first of the two cds that you come back to time and time again: if you could call it an “album side” – actually, it’s a whole album – it’s one of the alltime great ones. Frisell is about to embark on a weeklong stand at the Blue Note starting January 6 through 11 with a couple of other first-class composers, drummer Paul Motian and iconic bassist Ron Carter, a unit especially likely to work up some serious alchemy.

 

See you here tomorrow. Happy New Year!

December 31, 2008 Posted by | Music, Reviews | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 12/31/08

Our top 666 songs of alltime countdown continues, one day at a time all the way to #1. New Years Eve’s is #574:

The Coffin Daggers – Mr. Moto

The best version of what may be the greatest surf rock instrumental ever, even if the Coffin Daggers never officially released this particular one. Theirs is scorching punk rock with distorted guitar and eerie Wurlitzer organ, sounding something like Hunter S. Thompson gingerly getting out of bed, gun in hand, the shadows just beginning to fall outside. Not at the usual mp3 sites, although frequently bootlegged. Surf around (pun intended) and see what you find!

December 31, 2008 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music | Leave a comment

The Best New Years Eve Shows in New York, Upcoming 12/31/08

Because many of us have cabin fever and would like to go out on New Years Eve despite the economy, empty wallets and the usual profusion of amateurs clogging the streets, we’ve put together a special page for the night.

 

Our #1 pick is the Mike Hunt Band at Lakeside, 11 PM, free. The Mike Hunt Band (as in, “”have you seen Mike Hunt?”, ha ha) are another one of Tammy Faye Starlite’s projects, in this case a Stones cover band which she uses as the stepping-off point for her typically spot-on, hilarious, politically charged improv comedy. Those too young to know who Lenny Bruce was ought to discover this far better-looking troublemaker. Because the bar is small, early arrival (i.e. 9 PM) is very highly advised.

 

Here’s another really good one, and it’s also free: Yarn at Hill Country, 10 PM. They’re a country band with a horn section and they have it all – good original, oldschool 60s style tunes, tight harmonies and a killer mandolinist. This place is a restaurant: you might want to find a place at the bar if money is tight.

 

Here’s another good, free country show: Sean Kershaw & the New Jack Ramblers at Hank’s, 10ish til late.  

 

For blues fans, it’s hard to imagine anything more fun than Mississippi hill country blues guitarist Will Scott and drummer Wylie Wirth who play a rousing, hypnotic duo show at 68 Jay St. Bar, probably starting early (8ish) and no doubt going all night. It’s also free. This is a small place, so the earlier you get there the better.

 

For reggae fans, roots/dancehall reggae band Noble Society  plays a free show at Rose Bar in Williamsburg at 11ish, early arrival is likewise highly recommended.

 

For world music fans, Brazilian combo Nation Beat doing their innovative, danceable stuff at Barbes starting around 10 PM and going til late. Cover is $10. The club wants you to know that there will be no champagne toast, no noisemakers and no ball-dropping countdown, although you will learn to count to ten backwards in Portuguese.

 

For fullscale all-out revelry, nothing beats Irish-American rockers Black 47’s show at Connolly’s on 46th St. Tix are $20 and available at the club. Caveat: the bar is a stone’s throw from Times Square, which may mean a whole lot of trouble getting out unless you plan on staying til the not-so-wee hours.

December 30, 2008 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 12/30/08

Our top 666 songs of alltime countdown continues, one day at a time all the way to #1. Tuesday’s is #575:

The Sweet Bitters – Clocks Fall Back

One of the best songs of 2008 perfectly captured what life was like in New York City this year, the careless extravagance of wealth juxtaposed against crushing poverty. Sharon Goldman’s characteristically terse, crystallized lyric soars with harmonies from her bandmate Nina Schmir over a gorgeous, retro 60s folk-pop melody somewhat reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel’s Hazy Shade of Winter. From the duo’s debut cd, also at their myspace.

December 30, 2008 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music | Leave a comment

CD Review: Brave Old World – Songs of the Lodz Ghetto

With a total of eighteen tracks, this is something akin to a musical version of the documentary film Shoah. Recorded live in Bordeaux in 2004, Songs of the Lodz Ghetto is rustic klezmer group Brave Old World’s stark, absolutely haunting tribute to the Jewish musicians slaughtered in the Holocaust whose work documented their last desperate days. Featuring several songs with lyrics by Lodz ghetto composer Yankele Herszkowicz set to music by the band, the cd does double duty as notable artistic achievement and historical document. Brave Old World frontman/multi-instrumentalist Michael Alpert sings in Yiddish. In addition, the cd contains several field recordings of Lodz Holocaust survivor Yaakov Rotenberg singing songs from the ghetto, captured on tape by historian Gila Flam in the mid-80s. Although the tone is stoic and frequently leavened with macabre humor, much of it is absolutely heartbreaking: the generally somber, sometimes funereal, sometimes frantic feel of the music transcends any linguistic boundaries.

 

A recording of Rotenberg opens the cd, singing a caustically sarcastic tribute to Lodz Judenrat chief Chaim Rumkovski, followed by cascades of piano into a bouncy dance. The traditional party anthem A Real Fine Mazltov goes by quickly, its place taken by the mournful accordion, clarinet and strings of an Alpert original, Not Just Joy. Black humor takes center stage in the ghetto folksong Because I’m a Jew, a bleak chronicle of the many ways to die, followed by the riveting It’s Shackles and Chains, a traditional melody in the Middle Eastern hijaz scale with a fiery, bitter Yankele Herszkowicz lyric. Whenever he pops up here, Herszkowicz comes off like a Joe Strummer or a Woody Guthrie, indelibly a refusenik with a vicious sense of humor. He would no doubt approve of this recording. As would Isaiah Shpigl, who survived both Lodz and Auschwitz and whose understated tango ballad Close Your Eyes – an exile’s story – is also represented here. The group plays dark and stately, letting just a bit of light in when the sarcastic humor kicks in, or when they get satirical, as with the military march on There Goes a Yeke (a German Jew). The cd finally closes with a long, somber nocturne credited to Asrael Mandelbaum. As worthwhile a work of art as it is an irreplaceable and particularly timely piece of history. Beautifully packaged by Winter & Winter in a hardcover gatefold case with a lyric book including English translations.  

December 29, 2008 Posted by | Culture, Music, Reviews | 1 Comment

Song of the Day 12/29/08

Back on track after last week’s bacchanal, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown continues a day at a time all the way to #1. Monday’s is #576:

Depeche Mode – Somebody

Terminally depressed 1984 piano-and-voice ballad, a staple of every goth’s collection. Keyboardist Martin Gore, who sings here, is all too aware how maudlin he sounds:

 

Though things like this make me sick

In a case like this I’ll get away with it

 

The samples of industrial noise and a train leaving the station end the song on a viscerally chilling note. Available everywhere

December 29, 2008 Posted by | Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music | 2 Comments

How the Other Half Lives, Pt. 6

Making fun of trendoids again. Yeah, they’re easy targets, but have you ever wondered what all those bands that get reviewed at pitchfork actually sound like? Not that you’re missing anything: we took pitchfork’s top 50 albums of 2008 list and discovered that there were actually a handful of good bands on it (token major-label hiphop acts included). Otherwise, we stick a fork in what the trendoids there would be terrified to discover isn’t actually all that popular:

 

1 Fleet Foxes – Sun Giant EP/Fleet Foxes

Interesting vocal arrangements fail to energize tuneless wannabe anthemic rock with painfully constipated vocals

2 Portishead – Third

Their frontman disowned their one good album, the Live at Roseland cd; this is a return to soporific early 90s synth/drum machine form

3 No Age – Nouns

Guitar/drums duo from LA. Lo-fi like a middle school band: they can barely play their instruments. Strident, declamatory vocals; nonsequiturs for lyrics. In other words, no different from any other trendoid band out there.

4 Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours

80s style synth disco, if you liked the Pet Shop Boys 20 years ago you’ll probably love this garbage

5 Deerhunter – Microcastle / Weird Era Cont.

Good band. Weird, disjointed, noisy and often menacing with the guitars, like early Wire. Just when you’re wondering if any kind of tune is ever going to kick in, there it is.

6 TV On The Radio – Dear Science

Little would you know how good a guitarist their drummer is. Arch, affected, tuneless, tenth-rate Radiohead, more minimalist, with more of a stoner feel.

7 Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

What was it that the NY Times reviewer said about them? “The comfortable stench of inherited wealth was everywhere?” Well said. Third-rate white Afrobeat with constipated vocals and stupid lyrics. Somewhere King Sunny Ade is scowling.

 8 M83 – Saturdays=Youth

Awful retro 80s computerwimp pop, sometimes venturing into New Order wannabe territory. By comparison to most of this, Kajagoogoo were ballsy.

9 Hercules and Love Affair – Hercules and Love Affair

Back in the 80s some of us used to call this Rainbow Shops music, after the downscale, youth-oriented discount NYC womenswear chain where they would always blast Kiss FM over the PA. If you’ve never discovered the joys and pleasures of Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam (not), you’d actually prefer them to this cold, contrived commercial crap.

10 DJ/rupture – Uproot

DJ Rupture (let’s 86 the effete forward slash and lowercase, shall we?)  isn’t a musician. This is apparently a mix of loops and computerized percussion.

11 Lil Wayne – Tha Carter III

Time for a token black. Looks like the head trendoids sent the intern down to the mall to see which hip-hop is popular these days. The guy’s got some talent, but wasn’t this the most downloaded cd of the year or something? They couldn’t spend a few minutes to find something a little less formulaic?

12 Lindstrom – Where You Go I Go Too

This is just a remix of synth loops over a drum machine. Drugs – not the kind you should ever think of doing –  may have something to do with this.

13 Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)

Another token black: real daring, guys! Despite the title and the packaging, there’s nothing remotely political, intelligent or interesting about this generically poppy “R&B” garbage.

14 Air France – No Way Down

“Love. Burger. At your dreams.” That’s the lyrics to one of these Swedish computerwimps’ tuneless songs, repeating over and over and over. Sissy music.

15 Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles

Arch, affected, effete vocals over computerized disco percussion and lots of posing.

16 Vivian Girls – Vivian Girls

Good, imaginative, fun stuff: a little 60s garage, a little dreampop, a bit of surf and some real sweet harmonies over a skittish beat.

17 Fucked Up – The Chemistry of Common Life

“Experimental hardcore,” i.e. Good Charlotte for trendoids

18 The Mae Shi – HLLLYH

Any band who rip off Baba O’Reilly and then add a drum machine over it, like these El Lay disco sissies, should be castrated. Woops, looks like somebody’s already done that.

19 The Walkmen – You & Me

Not very exciting but not painful either, until the vocals kick in: the yuppie puppy who fronts what’s left of the Walkmen is one of the most annoying performers you could ever see

20 Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing

Not music. It’s a computer. This is your brain on…what? Too much oxycontin? Ecstasy? Prozac?

 21 Kanye West – 808s and Heartbreak

My, funny how much indie pop and disco there is on the pitchfork list, but not a single indie hip-hop artist? Maybe because pitchfork doesn’t know such a thing exists?

22 Santogold – Santogold

Corporate “R&B” posing as dancehall reggae, ranging from forgettable to downright awful

23 Hot Chip – Made in the Dark

More Rainbow Shops music: tedious, soporific computerized, 80s style corporate disco

24 Gang Gang Dance – Saint Dymphna

Even more Rainbow Shops music.

25 Titus Andronicus – The Airing of Grievances

Strokes wannabes: make-believe anger channeled over poppy, cloying guitar melodies, this time with a little dreampop feel.

26 Atlas Sound – Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel

Wherein Bradford Cox of Deerhunter does a lame Eels imitation. A waste – these outtakes have none of the offhand menace of his regular band.

27 Max Tundra – Parallax Error Beheads You

Absolutely hilarious: tedious, soporific computerized, 80s style corporate disco as played in odd time signatures by Yes.

28 Flying Lotus – Los Angeles

This isn’t music: it’s a computer. Strictly for people who get so stoned that they can’t remember whether the stereo is on or not

29 The Hold Steady – Stay Positive

Good rhythm section: the drummer has a serious Keith Moon thing going on. Kinda pathetic that the fat old bald guy who talks over the band – he doesn’t sing, maybe a wise choice – writes like he’s 13, girl-crazy but scared to death of anything in a skirt.

30 Los Campesinos! – Hold on Now, Youngster…

G-rated, smiley-faced, extremely grating UK band in love with all things American and stupid: trendoid rock, twee and Disney pop.

31 Fennesz – Black Sea

A “laptop conceptualist.” Good grief. As boring and self-indulgent as you would imagine.  How much you wanna bet the pitchfork boys googled “laptop conceptualist” and picked this since it was the first thing that came up?

32 Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!

Here’s the token old guy. Good album, in fact in many ways a great album – we only left it off the Lucid Culture top 50 cds list so we could make room for someone equally deserving and more obscure

33 Frightened Rabbit – Midnight Organ Fight

Melodramatic Scottish band: echoes of U2, the Frames. All this fuss over nothing at all.

34 Arthur Russell – Love Is Overtaking Me

Dead gay guy who played the cello and made unpopular disco albums, recently resurrected via indie biopic. That’s all you really need to know.

35 Girl Talk – Feed the Animals

This is a guy, not a band, and he’s not a musician. He makes mashup cds on his computer, just like you and me. Nothing wrong with that. But does it make us anything special? Apparently so. Memo to self: burn cd, mail to pitchfork, pseudonymously.

36 Wale – The Mixtape About Nothing

Hip-hop concept album about Sienfeld. No joke. Supposedly it samples Michael Richards’ notorious racist tirade from a few years ago (none of us are fans, some being a little young for Seinfeld). Not to rain on this guy’s parade, but the real diehard Seinfeld fans are your parents’ age, right? Isn’t hip-hop kind of after their time?

37 Grouper – Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill

Lazy inept guitar noodling. Ostensibly this is Art.

38 The Bug – London Zoo

Dub with a predictable zeros techie feel. It’s not bad if you’re new to this but there’s more imaginative stuff out there. For those who think King Tubby is too intense.

39 Times New Viking – Rip It Off

More token oldsters. This band includes the guy from the Clean plus that woman from the Fall. Noisy dreampop. Not awful.

40 The Very Best – Esau Mwamwaya & Radioclit are the Very Best

Supposedly this is “jungle.” Computer blips and bleeps.

41 David Byrne and Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

More token old people. The guy from the Talking Heads and the guy who was once in Roxy Music, then produced a bunch of people and made a bunch of snoozy ambient albums. This just sounds like bad Talking Heads pop, cloying and annoying.

42 Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Lie Down in the Light

One of the original trendoids, a trust fund kid pretending to be a hick from the sticks.

43 Shearwater – Rook

Pleasantly pretty, glimmering Radiohead outtakes released under another bandname. Oh, this is originals?  Well, hardly original, right down to the faux Thom Yorke vocals, but if you’re going to rip somebody off you could do a whole lot worse than Radiohead.

44 Marnie Stern – This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That

A female guitar wanker! Wretched excess reaches a new level. Grotesquely self-indulgent, million-notes-a-minute, Steve Vai style shredding.

45 Lykke Li – Youth Novels

“For you I keep my legs apart,” she coos, this Swedish disco singer who likens herself to “Jane Birkin with no top on.” Somewhere Serge Gainsbourg is grimacing.

46 Beach House – Devotion

The American Stereolab.  Not bad, if it’s pretty sleepy.

47 The Tallest Man on Earth – Shallow Grave

Swedish fingerstyle acoustic guitarist. He’d make a great lead player in somebody else’s oldtimey band. But keep him away from the mic unless he’s singing in his native tongue. 

48 High Places – High Places

Sounds like they REALLY want to be the Cocteau Twins, minus the talent and the vocals

49 Crystal Stilts – Alight Of Night

Interpol wannabes, a year or three late and a dollar short.

50 Ponytail – Ice Cream Spiritual

Loud, chaotic Sonic Youth wannabe rock with gleeful whoops and hollers in Japanese and a drummer who can’t keep time

December 28, 2008 Posted by | Music, Rant | Leave a comment

CD Review: Dub Colossus in a Town Called Addis

Alternately playful and rousing, spacey and hypnotic, Dub Colossus’ debut cd isn’t just a remix. The brainchild of Transglobal Underground founder Nick Page, it’s a collaboration with an A-list of Ethiopian musicians, some of whom had never left the country prior to recording this. Some of this has the woozy, mesmerizing, rustic feel of a vintage Lee “Scratch” Perry dub reggae production from the mid-70s; elsewhere, it has a more high-tech, Finley Quaye style downtempo lounge feel with washes of electronic keyboards swirling behind the horns, keys or guitar. Page – who plays bass and guitar here – brought together chanteuse Sintayehu “Mimi” Zenebe (billed as the “Edith Piaf of Ethiopia”) along with saxist/composer Feleke Hailu (who’s also the host of the Ethopian version of American Idol), young piano star Samuel Yirga and one-string fiddle virtuoso Teremage Woretaw, among others.

 

The cd is a mix of instrumentals and vocal numbers. Some of the songs are pretty much straight-up roots reggae with vocals in Amharic, frequently featuring some really pretty, vivid horn work. Others vamp on a single chord, instruments creeping into and then out of the mix as it slinks along. In general, Page keeps a light hand on the space echo and reverb, making the dub sections all the more evocative. With spooky organ and sparse guitar, the long, haunting, Arab-inflected instrumental Yeba Sub City Rock evokes the many remixes of the Specials’  Ghost Town that abounded throughout the late 70s. Shem City Steppers maintains the ominous feel, picking up the pace over a bouncy Bob Marleyesque beat. It gets even eerier on the completely noir Ophir Dub, which wouldn’t be out of place in a David Lynch film. Black Rose layers vocals over a reggae riddim and an arrangement that blends Isaac Hayes style soul with 90s electro-lounge; Neh Yelginete (My First Love) is nothing short of beautiful, floating along on Hailu’s summery, Sonny Rollins-inflected sax fills. The other tracks feature such seemingly unlikely accents as a classical piano intro, a long fiddle jam and a slowly accelerating duel between horn section and electric piano. That it all works as seamlessly as it does testifies to the chemistry between the musicians.

 

Zenebe’s vocals have a compellingly bright, soulful feel and the rest of the singers follow suit. There’s a warmth and a spontaneity here so frequently missing from Western-conceived collaborations with African musicians, and happily none of the exploitative feel of something like Paul Simon’s Graceland. This ought to resonate equally with reggae fans as well as moviegoers who fell in love with the great Ethopian jazz composer Mulatu Astatke’s work on the Broken Flowers soundtrack. 

December 28, 2008 Posted by | Music, Reviews | Leave a comment

We’re Baaaaack

Didn’t tell you about our little experiment, did we. We’ve promised you a new front page here every day, but over the last few weeks we’ve been doing double duty now and again so we could take some time off and see what would happen if we completely stopped writing here for a few days. Answer: traffic was down, but then half the country was either drunk or traveling. So before we disappear completely off the radar, here are those songs from our ever-growing alltime top 666 songs list that we didn’t put up over the last few days so we can resume the countdown, working all the way down to #1:

 

582. Graham Parker – Disney’s America

The lone good cut on the uncharacteristically weak 1995 album 12 Haunted Episodes is one of Parker’s most beautifully savage. Inspired by a plan to rip up the Virginia countryside to build a Disney theme park, Parker recounts a metaphor-laden tale of a romance that went sour and “drifted like runoff into the Chesapeake Bay:”

 

You can’t get too excited

You can’t get too enthused

From Dismal Land to the Tragic Mountain

We are not amused

 

Available at all the usual places. The link here is a nice solo acoustic version on youtube.

 

581. The Outnumbered – Boy on a Roof

One of the first out gay rockers, future Pansy Division frontman Jon Ginoli got his start playing generic janglerock with this band… this deliriously catchy, reverb-fueled gem with one of the sweetest reverb guitar solos ever is an exception. Originally issued on the Battle of the Garages Vol. 1 lp in 1984; most of the usual sites have the mp3. Parasol has a cd reissue of the 1985 album Surveying the Damage, which also includes this track.

 

580. Des Roar – Ted Bundy Was a Ladies Man

Gleeful, savagely cynical, pounding anthem by this great New York garage/punk band. As defiantly un-PC as Son of Sam by the Dead Boys, 2008 style. We had this song on the Lucid Culture myspace for months because we never got sick of it. From their demo ep and also available at the band’s myspace.

 

579. Joni Mitchell – Harry’s House/Centerpiece

Literally the centerpiece of the vastly underrrated 1975 Hissing of Summer Lawns lp, this excoriating dismissal of yuppie smugness and status-grubbing is as potent today as it was then.

 

578. The Notorious BIG  – The Long Kiss Goodnight

The most chilling thing about Biggie Smalls’ writing was that he could see his death coming a mile away; it’s all over side four of Life After Death. This sinister, antagonistic gangsta number finds the man who was arguably the greatest hip-hop lyricist of alltime at the absolute top of his game. At any of the file-trading sites.

 

577. The Dead Kennedys – Terminal Preppie

This backhanded hardcore punk anti-yuppie puppy broadside resonates today just as much as it did 25 years ago. Except maybe substitute Dave Matthews for the Springsteen reference? From the classic 1983 Plastic Surgery Disasters album.

December 27, 2008 Posted by | Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music | 2 Comments