Lucid Culture


Top Ten Songs of the Week 2/2/09

So you thought there wouldn’t be any hit parade this week, huh? This is the late edition. All these links are for the individual songs with the exception of #1, which is on an album you should own.


1. The Brooklyn What – No Chords

We’re going to keep hitting you with great songs by this kick-ass band, just like what we’d be doing with the Clash if this was 1978 and the blogosphere existed back then. This one’s a quiet, funny, brutally satirical number about gentrification and trendoids from their new cd The Brooklyn What for Borough President. They play 2/20 at Red Star at 11; the intriguing and fun Delusions of Grand St. open the night at 9.


2. The Megitza Quartet – Boleritza

Haunting, gypsy-flavored instrumental suite from this kick-ass Chicago band. 


3. The Quavers – Ride You Home – trippy and creepy with a weird trip-hop feel. Here’s a free download


3. The Dream Academy – Mordechai Vanunu

An old song from 1985 (occasionally we might feature something this old if it’s worth it and we just discovered it, as we did in this case), basically just frontman Nick Laid-Clowes and his acoustic guitar doing a tribute to the great Israeli peace activist who was behind bars at the time for divulging Israel’s atom bomb secrets. 


4. Brian Kramer – Pause

The excellent blues guitarist is appropriately oldschool: Press pause and then rewind. Who says white guys can’t play blues. 


5. The 4th Street Nite Owls – Jerry the Junker

One of the first and best of the oldtimey revival bands here in town, still going strong. This is an update on the Minnie the Moocher theme.


6. Anistar – Longa Nikriz

Long, haunting balkan/klezmer dance from this amazing multistylistic band. They’re at le Poisson Rouge on 2/5.


7. Alec Berlin – My Baby Likes to Eat

So politically incorrect it’s hard to believe it exists at all. Don’t listen if you can’t handle humor that pokes fun at women and lesbians. It’s all in good fun. He’s at Arlene’s on 2/11.


8. The Tarantinos NYC – Monte Carlo Nights

A total ripoff of the surf classic Man of Mystery, but with that swirling organ it’s irresistible: this is a band that by rights shouldn’t even exist at all, but somehow they make it work.


9. Red Rocket – Red Rocket

Delicious noir soundtrack jazz from this Irish group, a side project of the similarly inclined Rocket who play Barbes on 2/25.  


10. Erin Hill – Blue Slide

Psychedelic pop with a singer who plays concert harp. Sounds absolutely nothing like Joanna Newsom

February 3, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CD Review: Mariza – Terra

Terra, the fifth album by Portugal’s “Queen of Fado” coincides with a marathon 47-city US tour kicking off on Valentine’s Day in Chicago which should vault the chanteuse from cult status here [scroll down to the next paragraph if you’re familiar with fado music]. Fado, meaning “fate” is the national music of Portugal, dark, troubled ballads sung by women with an ache in their voices. Fado is characterized most overtly by “suadade,” a uniquely indigenous term whose translation falls somewhere between angst, longing and sentimentality, all qualities which show up here in droves. On this album, Mariza is backed by a tasteful acoustic backing unit including six- and twelve-string guitar, upright bass, piano and drums. There’s a little bolero feel here as well as a somewhat noir cabaret sensibility and a few songs that stray toward more modern pop territory, with the omnipresent twelve-string adding an otherworldly, eerily ringing edge.

As can be expected, laments comprise much of this cd, most notably Já Me Deixou (Now It’s Left Me) and Alma De Vento (Soul of the Wind), with their dark swaying relentlessness. The most striking number on the album is Beijo De Saudade (Sentimental Kiss), its catchy 12-string melody set against restrained muted trumpet, the vocals getting all smoky on the second verse. It’s based on a poem by a famous Cape Verde poet, written as he lay dying in his hospital bed in Portugal, badly missing his native land. There’s also more upbeat material including the bouncy Rosa Branca (White Rose), whose narrator finds she’s danced so much that the flower she’s been wearing has fallen to pieces: “If you love roses so much why don’t you love me?” she inquires exasperatedly. As can be expected, the strongest songs here are the more traditional numbers: when they edge toward a more overtly commercial, contemporary American sound, both singer and band sound a little out of their element. The cd ends on a particularly haunting note with Morada Aberta (My Door Is Open), where Mariza asks the river to rise up and wash away every physical and metaphorical trace of the past.

There’s also a “secret” track here, an English-language cover of the old pop standard Smile that doesn’t add anything. That one song aside, this music is nothing if not edgy. If the whole American noir crowd, i.e. your Nick Cave, Botanica and Dresden Dolls fans can be wooed, Mariza will have a massive crossover fan base on her hands. Here’s to casting the first stone. Mariza’s American tour kicks off on 2/14 at 8 PM at Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave. in Chicago.

February 3, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 2/3/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Tuesday’s is #540:

Radio Birdman – Found Dead

Thirty-plus years after they started, the legendary Australian punk/garage monsters are still as vital as ever on this macabre, midtempo guitar-and-organ-driven gem. “Said we gotta go far away from here…can you make it alone, now can you? Can you?” singer Rob Younger intones. From their comeback cd Zeno Beach, our pick for best album of 2006.

February 3, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment