Lucid Culture


CD Review: Andrew Vladeck – The Magnet EP

Talented, popular Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist plying the oldtimey circuit. On this ep he shows off a fervently lyrical style over sparse, tasteful, mostly acoustic instrumentation. Andrew Vladeck packs a lot of words into a phrase in an almost hip-hop vein, with more than a little nod of the head to Dylan (specifically the fun, freewheeling, early Dylan). The five tracks here range from fast and fierce to slower and more contemplative. Hold Me Back is an up-to-the-minute frustration anthem lamenting the wretched state of the world: “Hard to sit here and watch them run us off the track…somebody better hold me back.”


You Can’t Kill Time is a dark, open tuned banjo blues, slide guitar ringing ominously in the background as Vladeck recounts the stark tale of a trip to nowhere. Magnet follows, a dexterously fingerpicked acoustic ballad and then the cd’s best cut, Chinatown. It starts off slow, eerily plinking banjo intro over slide guitar and eventually gets marvelously intricate, even psychedelic, with something of a Blonde on Blonde lyrical feel. The most rustic of the cuts here, The 21st Century is a bitter meditation on aging, death and soldiers gone off to war. Uncompromising as this album may be, it’s a very accessible cd: it could sneak its way into a lot of Jack Johnson fans’ hearts, a stealthy victory for smart songwriting.

December 6, 2008 Posted by | Music, Reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Mascott – Art Project

Pure concentrated sunshine. If you can’t wait for spring, this is your daily dose of vitamin D minus those nasty UV rays. It’s sort of the musical equivalent of what the elves in Lord of the Rings ate on long trips: one tasty cookie will sustain you, and in the case of this album, lift your spirits for a month. Mascott’s two previous cds were good but this is really something special, a showcase for frontwoman Kendall Jane Meade’s jewel-like, brilliantly nuanced purist pop songcraft. Even the sad songs here glimmer and sparkle with jangly guitar, vividly incisive piano and even strings in places; Jim Bentley’s production is terse, understated and true to form. The arrangements are playful and fun; Meade’s lyrics, like her tunes, are beautifully crystalized and strikingly smart yet deceptively simple, with the occasional indelible urban image. This is a quintessential New York album. “I wanna make you press play then repeat,” she cajoles early on, succeeding better than she ever probably imagined. Likewise, the former Juicy bandleader and frequent Sparklehorse collaborator’s high, pretty voice has an effortless, reassuring warmth: she comes across as someone who would always be there to walk you home from the train if you called, even if it was late and you had several blocks to go after the subway.


Spiked with bright electric piano, the cd’s first cut Live Again is a pop gem, the narrator gently nudging her way into rekindling a relationship that’s gone cold. Fourth of July follows in more of a rock vein, wistful but far from maudlin. Chiming with gorgeously pointillistic piano and acoustic guitar textures, Opposite is the high point of the cd, soberly matter-of-fact yet fearlessly optimistic:


I map out my days in the sand, I know that the water could wash it away

I feel what I feel, I do what I can, it took me so long to feel this way


Dream Another Day is a brief, bustling and considerably funny Penny Lane-style rush hour narrative: friends may be wondering how consuming the dayjob has become, but not to worry, Meade reassures: she won’t be out of circulation forever. The theme recurs in the utterly charming, harmony-driven Nite Owl (a real showstopper when the band plays it live). Only on the starkly bluesy, minor-key 6/8 breakup ballad Letting Go of the Sun does the mood go completely dark, and even that one’s leavened somewhat by a big instrumental sigh on the chorus, all the instruments going “awwwww,” down the scale in unison. The cd closes with a rousing campfire singalong of Wildwood Flower. The only complaint about this cd is that it has an end. But that’s what the repeat button is for. Definitely one of the top four or five cds to come over the transom here this year, and a likely soundtrack for a whole lot of people’s lives for the summer of 2009. Mascott have also teamed up with Gramercy Arms to release a wonderful new single, This Christmastime, available for free download here. Mascott’s next NYC date is Jan 19 at Cake Shop.

December 6, 2008 Posted by | Music, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 12/6/08

If you’re going out this weekend and wonder where our constantly updated NYC live music calendar went, it’s here. In the meantime our top 666 songs of alltime countdown continues, one day at a time all the way to #1.Saturday’s is


 David J – Bouquets Wreaths & Laurels

The Bauhaus and Love & Rockets bassist is also a terrific songwriter, with the expected noir sensibility. This one from his sensationally good 1992 cd Urban Urbane is one of his best: somebody’s just gotten out of jail and is hellbent for…something. Jazz Butcher guitarist Max Eider turns in some of his finest, most gorgeously fluid lead work here. Available at all the usual sites. There’s also a song on David J’s myspace called Spalding Gray Can’t Swim…

December 6, 2008 Posted by | Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music | , , , , , | 3 Comments