Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: Palmyra Delran at Arlene’s, NYC 3/26/09

This is the kind of band you see in a bar and suddenly an hour has elapsed and you’re still there watching them. More specifically, this is what happens when you give very simple songs to very intelligent people. What Palmyra Delran plays in this band and with the newly reformed (and reportedly reinvigorated) Friggs is your basic nuts-and-bolts, riff-driven garage rock. Barre chords on the guitar, rhythm four on the floor, verse/chorus/verse/chorus/solo/verse, maybe an intro or an outro if you’re lucky. Amazing how they made it sound so fresh. One of the not-so-secret secrets of this band is how much everybody listens to each other, Delran passing the baton along to her lead guitarist, then to the bassist and back again while everybody added a part that meshed like a Turbo Hydramatic (that’s vintage rockspeak for automatic transmission). For music with orchestration this good, you usually have to go to a place like Carnegie Hall.

 

They opened with a hotrod instrumental driven by Delran’s Fender Jazzmaster. There’s bite, growl and sinew in her playing, dirty enough to keep you guessing but always there to grab the song if it needs grabbing. The night’s first vocal number was a noir 60s flavored rocker possibly titled Drag You Down: “Learn to crave what will hurt you, you wanna know what’s on the other side…she digs the ride,” Delran sang with not a little sarcasm. The fast backbeat number Shy Boy swung along over a gorgeous four-chord hook, Delran pogoing and driving the band along: “Nobody can get close to you, even if you want them to.”

 

The lead player – on a beautiful black Gibson SG – rattled off a ferociously good, chord-fueled solo on a simple but potently anthemic number that sounded like something Stiv Bators probably would have wished he’d written. Then the whole band went up in flames together on the solo on another ridiculously catchy garage-pop song. Then it was the bass player’s turn to feed the inferno as Delran sardonically reminisced how “one more heart goes down the drain.” They wrapped up the set with a blazing version of the surf-inflected Love Has Gone Away from Delran’s new cd, drummer Nancy Polstein aggressive but counterintuitive with those Mel Taylor beats like she’d been doing all night. It was SG guy’s birthday, so the crowd converged in two directions, on him and Delran, the minute the show was over. What a fun way to keep the night going. Watch this space for future shows by Delran and her band; on an auspicious note, she plays with the Friggs on what promises to be one of the great doublebills of the year, May 8 at Santos Party House at 7 PM, opening for the recently regrouped Chrome Cranks.

 

A stop into the Delancey earlier in the evening provided not only shelter from the nasty drizzle but also a sneak preview of some new Botanica songs. As usual, Paul Wallfisch, host of the weekly Small Beast series here, opened the night solo on piano. He stripped down the big audience hit Someone Else Again to a skeletal yet elegant swing, ran through a couple of brand-new songs – one darkly anthemic and Nick Cave-ish, another, possibly titled New Girlfriend, with a noir cabaret tinge – as well as a PJ Harvey cover, a French waltz and a couple of trips into the vault – or crypt, if you will – for some older material. Because this guy’s there every week, the temptation is to take him for granted. Don’t. While it lasts, carpe noctem.   

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

More Songs For Yesterday and Today

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Wednesday’s song was #483:

Rachelle Garniez – Crazy Blood

Title track to her superb 2001 cd, a haunting, minor-key blues as anguished as anything Bessie Smith or Nina Simone ever wrote – and as uncharacteristically direct as the great New York noir songwriter/multi-instrumentalist has ever been:

 

No one knows the trouble I’ve been

Torn up, twisted, time and time again

Had a chance to make changes but I threw it away…

 

and Thursday’s song is #482:

New Model Army – 225

Fast Lillywhite-beat anthem from the 80s…of course. Justin Sullivan’s prophetic lyrics reprinted in full below:

 

She stares at the screen at the little words of green,

Tries to remember, what to do next

There’s a trace of frustration, that crosses her face

Searching for the key she should press

And I would help her, if I only know how

But these things are a mystery to me too

And it seems that the corporate eyes they are watching.

She fears for her job and the moments are passing

I stare at her nametag and think to myself

Both you and I

We never asked

For any of this

 

So let’s take a walk

Up past the chemical works

Where the sky turns green at night

And we’ll talk

About getting away from here

Some different kind of life

But even in the freshest mountain air

The jet fighters practice overhead

And they’re drilling these hills for uranium deposits

And they’ll bury the waste for our children to inherit.

And though this is all done for our own benefit, I swear

We never asked

For any of this

 

This golden age of communication

Means that everyone talks the same time.

And liberty just means some freedom to exploit

Any weakness that you can find

Well turn of the TV just for a while

Let us whisper to each other instead

And we’ll hope that the corporate ears do not listen.

Lest we find ourselves committing some kind of treason

And filed in the tapes without rhyme, without reason.

While they tell us that it’s all for our own protection,

I swear, we never asked

For any of this

 

This was 1989, folks. From the album Thunder and Consolation. Here’s a cool  video.

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