Lucid Culture


Concert Review: Paula Carino at Parkside Lounge, NYC 2/21/09

The tables filled up slowly. Would this be a casualty of the depression? Emphatically not. Casually strumming her big black Gibson, NYC underground rock siren Paula Carino and her band – this time around called the Virtually Spotless, a considerably cleaned-up alternative to their previous monicker Scurvy Merchants – jangled and roared through a characteristic, seemingly effortless, gorgeously melodic twelve-song set. It was like seeing Aimee Mann or Elvis Costello for free. Twenty years ago big labels fought over artists like Carino; these days you’re lucky if a major label passes you by. Funny how times change.


Drummer Tom Pope propelled the opening number, a newish powerpop song, with an offhand, almost snidely rolling groove. Bassist Andy Mattina, just back from India, functioned essentially as a second lead guitarist. Lead player Ross Bonnadonna was definitely in “on” mode, providing lush yet terse jangle underneath the ominously metaphorical Tip of the Iceberg as well as a fiery, equally terse solo on the brilliantly lyrical, rockabilly-inflected Saying Grace Before the Movie that wound up with a steely clang from Carino. Another highlight was a new song, sort of like what the Go Go’s might have done with a funk beat, bouncing along on a catchy descending progression from Bonnadonna. “Go back in time to when all hope was rational,” Carino sang both encouragingly and sardonically. The crowd wouldn’t let them leave without an encore, so they pulled out the popular Road to Hell – NOT from Carino’s classic cd Aquacade as it turns out – this is what happens to people who have large album collections and no organizational skills – but YOU can look for it on our Top 200 cds of the decade list at the end of this year.


Buffalo rockers Mark Norris and the Backpeddlers followed with a bracing if predictable set of mostly amped-up, Big Star-inflected powerpop. New Yorkers tend to snobbishly assume that bands from the heartland are all a bunch of smarmy Nickelback wannabes, so it was especially nice to see these guys slamming their way through one catchy number after another. Their best songs were ironically the ones that carried the least Alex Chilton influence: a long, hypnotic, Velvet Underground style two-chord anthem from the middle of the set, and their closer, a stomping MC5-inflected riff-rocker.


It would have been nice to be able to stick around for the eminently charismatic and reliably entertaining Tom Warnick & World’s Fair, but he’s gotten a lot of ink here (very deservedly so) and there were deadlines and commitments (well, no real deadlines, but definitely commitments).

February 22, 2009 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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