Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Song of the Day 12/8/08

If you’re going out this week 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.

Monday’s is #596:

Patricia Vonne – Blood on the Tracks

It takes a lot of nerve to steal a title like that, but Mexican-American ranchera-rock siren/actress Vonne – a fierce advocate for immigrant rights – has plenty. This is her best song, a viscerally affecting, guitar-fueled escape anthem galloping along on a fast shuffle beat. “We ain’t never coming back/Our hearts have been scarred, there’s blood on the tracks.” From her 2003 full-length debut cd.

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December 7, 2008 Posted by | Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music | , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Eunice Poulos Sings Piaf at Merkin Concert Hall, NYC 12/7/08

An imaginative and inspired program including both iconic and obscure Piaf songs. To her credit, classical soprano Eunice Poulos didn’t try to out-Piaf Piaf. The Little Sparrow imbued most of what she did with a lot of brass and sass; Poulos’ interpretation required that she simply remain in legit mode, which she did with a pure, clear tone if not a lot of emotional variation from one song to another. But her unabashed enthusiasm for the material, and her terrific backing band, were impossible to resist. Pianist Mitchell Vines turned in a marvelously nuanced and sensitive solo reading of Poulenc’s Improvisation No. 15 in C Minor (which the composer dedicated to Piaf), along with an absolutely riveting take on the somewhat noir cabaret number Padam Padam and the other upbeat numbers that closed the show – in fact, by the time they’d reached that point, the whole band was just as caught up in the drama and emotion of the songs as the crowd. The rhythm section of Rex Benincasa on drums, percussion and bells and bassist John Loehrke was poised and subtle, with accordionist Uri Sharlin (of Pharaoh’s Daughter and others) gracefully supplying the afternoon’s most haunting tonalities.

 

Billed as “La Mome Piaf [Kid Piaf]: The Life and Work of Edith Piaf,” the vividly narrated program didn’t follow any kind of career trajectory, although related songs were frequently paired. Je T’Attends (Waiting for You), the Charles Aznavour cabaret song, stopping just short of camp, was paired with a stripped-down, almost whispery La Vie En Rose, just voice and accordion. The sarcastic come-on Milord paired off with one of Piaf’s more iconic numbers, La Foule (The Crowd), which closed the show on a rousingly dramatic note. For an encore, Poulos and Vines had selected the strikingly brief, impressionistic La Grenouilliere (The Frog Pond), a pensive ode to an island in the middle of the Seine that served as a popular date spot during the 1930s. Francophones might take exception to Poulos’ delivery – she rolls her R’s, a l’espagnole – but the performance was rich with the longing that sometimes spills over into outright anguish, which continues to earn Piaf new devotees with every passing year.

December 7, 2008 Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Concert Review: The Coffin Daggers at Otto’s, NYC 12/7/08

A raw, cold, drizzly night didn’t stop their fans from coming out and dancing. Hitting the stage a little after midnight, the Coffin Daggers validated their reputation as one of New York’s half-dozen or so best live bands, tearing through one song after another without so much as a word to the audience. With Dick Dale temporarily on the shelf after surgery, it’s hard to think of a more intense, powerful surf band anywhere in the world right now. Last night their mix of scorching, distorted reverb guitar and ominous organ was as bracing as ever. Lead guitarist Viktor Venom played with his usual gleefully macabre sarcasm, much in the same vein as the Dead Kennedys’ East Bay Ray but with vastly greater speed and agility against organist Eudocia Rodzinak’s somber gothic atmospherics. The rhythm section hit with Joe Louis power and precision, bassist Peter Klarnet blasting out big, distorted chords on many of the songs’ massive crescendos.

 

Alternating between standards and originals, they opened with a Link Wray number with an eerily smoldering guitar feedback solo, later ripping through punked-out versions of The Cruel Sea and Out of Limits (lots of sci-fi instros in the set tonight). But their own songs were the best. A new one began dramatic and somewhat tongue-in-cheek, building to characteristic, chromatically-fueled menace. Another newish one, perhaps titled Monsters from the Id pounded along with a lot of call-and-response between the guitar and organ, winding itself up to a nasty, sunbaked fuzztone guitar solo. Perhaps the best one of the night was yet another new number, ghoulish and minor key with a sepulchral, watery tone from the guitar, climbing to an inexorably brutal, percussive chorus. While the band has tightened up, abandoning most of the noisy psychedelic wildness that was their stock in trade seven or eight years ago, they typically jam out at least one song and tonight that one was the snarling Avenue X from their 2004 full-length debut cd (which made our top ten list that year). They started it slowly with a wall of noise from the Echoplex unit, Klarnet playing evil tritones against the organ’s slowly rising flood. After a long, hypnotic noise solo, they suddenly hit a false ending before wrapping it up with a roaring blaze of guitar. They closed with Caravan, this time pretty close to the classic Ventures version on Live in Japan, right down to the drum solo, Pete Martinez putting his own propulsive spin on the Mel Taylor beat.

 

Like a lot of New York bands with a big out-of-town following, the  Coffin Daggers don’t play many dates here anymore (they do a lot of European and Midwest tours); this show was a stark reminder of what we’ve been missing. Watch this space for upcoming shows.

December 7, 2008 Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, review | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 12/7/08

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.Sunday’s is #597:

Amy Allison – Turn Out the Lights

Lucid Culture’s pick for best song of 2007 is one of cult artist Allison’s finest – and she has many – a stark and eerily glistening (if totally misproduced) suicide anthem:

 

In my room

Far from the crowd

My bed’s a tomb

My quilt’s a shroud

I’ve had my fill

Of restless nights

I’d just as soon

Turn out the lights.

 

From the cd Everything and Nothing Too. Allison also has a hysterically funny, brand-new song about Amy Winehouse smoking crack up on her myspace too.

December 7, 2008 Posted by | Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music | , , , , , , | Leave a comment