Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Top Ten Songs of the Week 5/25/09

We do this every week. You’ll see this week’s #1 song on our Best 100 songs of 2009 list at the end of December, along with maybe some of the rest of these too. This is strictly for fun – it’s Lucid Culture’s tribute to Kasey Kasem and a way to spread the word about some of the great music out there that’s too edgy for the corporate media and their imitators in the blogosphere. Every link here will take you to each individual song.

 

1. The New Collisions – Beautiful and Numb

80s new wave updated with a savagely smart edge for the end of the zeros, a slap at GenY complacency. From their excellent new ep. Boston fans can see their cd release show on at TT Bear’s on 5/29.

 

2. Matthew Grimm & the Red Smear – Ayn Rand Sucks

Did you know the dead right-wing fag hag has her own facebook page? LOL taken to a new level.  “She’s just another Nazi skank.”

 

3. Barbez – Strange

Sounds just like Bee & Flower – slow dirge, quiet then loud again, with a big organ crescendo. They’re at le Poisson Rouge in August.

 

4. Laura MacLean – Prescription for Pain

Blue eyed soul siren leading a janglerock band – a particularly relevant update on Mother’s Little Helper for the zeros. She’s at Banjo Jim’s on 6/14 at 8.

 

5. Freylekh Jamboree – Kojak Cecek

Balkan brass from Japan – as ghetto as you could possibly be! As good as another excellent rousing version by the Stagger Back Brass Band.

 

6. The A Team – Girlfriend Like Big Papi

Funny funk song. Does this mean she’s suddenly lost her stroke…or that her wrist is still bothering her?  

 

7. School of Seven Bells – Cabal

Like the first Lush album – female-fronted dreampop with a hypnotic Indian edge. They’re at Bowery Ballroom on 6/12.  

 

8. Satoko Kajita – Summertime

Sanshin (3-stringed Okinawan lute) player. Lyrics in Japanese and English. Who says minimalists can’t swing!

 

9. Extra Golden – Thank You Very Quickly

Brisk guitar-driven Kenyan-American psychedelic dance-pop

 

10. Cady Wire – Crown Vic

Gothic Americana nocturne – slow, atmospheric, genuinely haunting.

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May 26, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: The Hsu-nami at the Passport to Taiwan Festival, Union Square, NYC 5/24/09

At times it seemed as if the Hsu-Nami were deliberately trying to injure themselves, ripping through a brief, barely forty-minute but physically exhausting set of artsy, spectacularly intelligent, virtuosic heavy metal instrumentals blending blinding blues, ornate Iron Maiden inflections and traditional Chinese melodies played by the band’s sensational frontman Jack Hsu on an amplified erhu (the traditional Chinese violin). Hsu didn’t let the the hundred-degree heat and crushing humidity phase him, flailing and throwing himself across the terrace at the park’s southwest corner as if possessed by demons. He didn’t even take off his vest. Hsu frequently transposes lead guitar voicings to his instrument, showing off a dizzyingly virtuosic command of an army of stylistic devices: slides, bent notes, lightning-fast 32nd-note clusters, blues runs, classical motifs and of course his signature permutations of the traditional Chinese scale. Guitarist Brent Bergholm’s pedalboard wasn’t working, so he went straight through his amp with tons of natural distortion. Tony Aichele, on the other side of what would have been the stage if there’d been one there, added a similarly ferocious blend of lead guitar precision and recklessness. Too bad the keyboardist was so low in the mix – but sometimes that’s what you get at an outdoor show. At the very least the band drowned out the nasty alarms undoubtedly blasting in the distance every time an M9 bus would open its doors, a couple of blocks away; at best, even taking into account the makeshift acoustics on what was by far the nastiest day of the year, this was one of 2009’s best NYC shows so far.

They opened with an especially aggressive version of Snake Skin Shuffle, featuring a ferocious bluesy solo by Bergholm. The next song segued from a predictably amusing, sarcastically metalized version of the Godfather Theme, Hsu mocking the melody against stately piano, then morphing into what sounded like Iron Maiden playing a dramatic Chinese opera theme lit up by a twin solo by the two guitarists. The title track from their new cd 4 Noble Truths began slow, deliberate, and soulful, building to a galloping stomp with Aichele and Hsu playfully doubling each others’ lightning-fast lines, then an interlude with keys that wouldn’t have been out of place on an early Genesis record. The most intense song of the show was the intially eerie, ominous Entering the Mandala, Hsu blasting through two twin solos –  one with each guitarist – as the suite reached whirlwind proportions. While what this band plays, for lack of a better word, is metal, they stay away from cliches, on this one finally giving into temptation and ending it with a deliciously flailing, crashing outro that could have gone on for twice as long as it did and the crowd would have loved it just as much. They closed the set with a new song, the strikingly pretty, pastoral triptych Passport to Taiwan, dedicating it to the festival where they’ve played for three years straight now, Bergholm adding some artful southern rock touches that actually managed to work. If you miss the days of aggressive, loud bands that don’t have the slightest resemblance to Pearl Jam or Nickelback, you ought to check these guys out. The Hsu-Nami are like Chinese hot sauce – no matter how intense it gets, you still keep wanting more and more.

May 26, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Song of the Day 5/26/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Tuesday’s song is #428:

Catspaw – Southbound Line

The New York rockabilly/surf trio’s signature song is their best, and it’s a classic, frontwoman/guitarist Jasmine Sadrieh’s haunting account of a woman going nowhere slowly on the Jersey Transit train from hell…or to hell. From their playfully titled 2005 debut cd Ancient Bateyed Wallman, still in print and available at shows.

May 26, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment