Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: 18 at Port 41, NYC 2/27/09

It wouldn’t be fair to let the weekend go by without mentioning the kick-ass show that garage/punk rockers 18 put on in the old Savoy Lounge space in Hell’s Kitchen Friday night. They just go by the name 18, as in I’m 18 and I know what I want or 18-wheeler. It works either way. Two guitars, bass and drums, your basic riff-rock, loud, catchy, funny and ferocious. They haven’t played out a lot lately and they have a new bass player, which might explain a lot. Some people might be upset by this, but they’re better than Muck and the Mires and those guys are pretty good at this stuff too.

 

Nice to see a lot of new, unreleased songs in the mix along with stuff from their first album. While they take what they do very seriously, they don’t take themselves seriously at all and it shows in the lyrics: a song titled Superstar, ostensibly and probably sarcastically dedicated to one of their female fans; another rejoicing in the fact that “they’ll never stop making beautiful girls;” a dead ringer for a 13th Floor Elevators tune; and a snarling cover of Billy Childish’s Squaresville. Best song of the night was by drummer Landon Finnerty, a new one called It’s Just a Matter of Time, as in, “I’m gonna get you, it’s just a matter of…” and then they’d jump straight to the chorus. Little touches like that make all those timeworn riffs sound fresh again. As usual, the band was unbelievably tight, they didn’t let up and they played as if they would have gone all night if the club was agreeable. A disarmingly fun way to wrap up a night that had started out on an auspicious note with Special Patrol Group at Arlene’s.

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March 2, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Concert Review: Special Patrol Group at Arlene Grocery, NYC 2/27/09

The karaoke girl who was on before Special Patrol Group left a long table full of computer gear onstage, sauntering off to the bar to gab with her sorority sisters while the band waited patiently for her to get it out of the way.  Since the band employs a lot of background vocals, meaning mics for pretty much everybody, this only made it harder for the sound guy (resulting in blasts of feedback throughout the show – he looked like he was working hard, but what is it about this place? And they had Crystal Meth Girl on door duty again). To their credit, the band rose above the dodgy sonics and delivered a tight, intriguing set. There aren’t many groups in New York this good.

 

With guitar, keys, rhythm section and plenty of harmonies, they mixed material from their cd The Very Provocative Special Patrol Group along with some newer songs. Their lyrics are clever, allusive and often snide. With a cinematic feel, they draw the listener in to search for the culprits hiding amongst the verbal shrubbery. Their song structures are counterintuitive, surprising, bounding all over the place with tricky time changes, turning on a dime when least expected. A newcomer to their music would probably assume they’re British: their sound mostly closely resembles Blur at their mid-90s Parklife peak, or maybe the Larch, with echoes of classic Squeeze and Costello back there in the rearview mirror. The musicians all seemed in high spirits, the bassist taking a smoothly aggressive solo during the inscrutable sex song Battery in Your Pocket, the keyboardist playfully adding strange and amusing vintage 70s synth colors much as Pulp’s Candida Doyle would do.

 

While songwriter/guitarist Matt DeMella took the majority of the vocal leads and didn’t embarrass himself, the star of the show was singer Katie Schmidt, projecting an effortless, somewhat dismissive charisma whether she was going down into the lower registers, all dark and smoky, or leaping to the rafters with the same kind of effortlessness as Sonya Madan of Echobelly. Working her vocals into more of the songs – especially the understatedly caustic Late September, a slacker parable – was a smart move, and the crowd responded warmly. She also dazzled on a more recent song, the pounding, garage-inflected Only an Oasis, a sardonic reflection on a Connecticut childhood, before passing the baton to DeMello. They closed on a high note with another new one, August, a stomping pop song for Schmidt to go sailing over, its fragmentary lyrics clearly some kind of accusation: “August and still unaware…always there around your eyes…packed into lies.” Nice to see a good crowd come out for a good band on a depression-era Friday night. Watch this space for upcoming shows. 

March 2, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 3/2/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Monday’s song is #513:

The Moody Blues – Peak Hour

An uncharacteristically hard-rocking, deliciously scurrying evocation of midday business-district madness driven by bassist John Lodge’s furious flights, keyboardist Michael Pinder ending it mischievously on his Mellotron with the last four chords from the famous Bach Toccata in D. MP3s everywhere; if you’re looking for vinyl, it’s on the 1967 lp Days of Future Passed, frequently found in the dollar bins. The link above is a youtube clip with about two minutes of the mediocre movie soundtrack-style orchestration that segues into the song.

March 2, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment