Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album Review: Joe Pug – In the Meantime

The brash, fearless lyrical mastermind is here for the long term and as proof he offers up his second consecutive free ep. For the price of getting on the Joe Pug email list, you get this. And it pays off: his fan base keeps building, the gigs keep getting better and better and he hasn’t shown any indication of selling out. As usual, it’s just Pug, his guitar and his harp, hammering on the strings and blowing til the reeds distort, his voice closer to Steve Earle than the John Prine-inflected style he was mining on his brilliant debut Nation of Heat (very favorably reviewed here). Because of the instrumentation, a lot of people will call this Dylanesque, and it is, but there’s a whole lot more going on here.

 

The opening cut is Dodging the Wind, a defiant 6/8 ballad. It’s an apt anthem for anyone who belongs to the ones who got away: “When you think of the kid who left when you did, he too will be thinking of you.” The title track is a pensive, fingerpicked cheating ballad: “We’ll be honest to each other – meaning you,” Pug sardonically rasps. The metaphors never stop: the house will never be built for lack of lumber, and he ends up sleeping in the closet, hiding from the cops.

 

Lock the Door picks up the pace: it has bass and drums. Like Rosalita by Springsteen, the protagonist here just won’t take no for an answer, but he makes his point in about seven fewer minutes:  

 

Who’s that man knee-deep in sand waiting on the tide

With an atlas and a ladder, undaunted from the height

Lock the door, I’m standing on your porch tonight

 

A Thousand Men is the most overtly Dylanesque cut here, rich with history, Pug alluding to the famous Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington as he teases the listener:

 

See Thomas Jefferson on the eve of Bunker Hill

Writing words to die for, writing sentences to kill

They’ve come to paint his portrait

So he grabs a chair and sits

As the surgeon orders cotton

For a thousand tourniquets

 

Pug knows that virtually all inventions were devised for waging war: “Every good idea kills at least a thousand men,” and Pug’s thinking he’s probably number 1001.

 

The ep wraps up with the catchy Black Eyed Susan “When you look right through me I wonder what’s behind my back.” Pug is blowing up right now – this year’s nonstop tour includes Bonnaroo, Lolapalooza and the Newport Folk Festival. Don’t be the last one on your block to find out about the guy.

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July 8, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review – The Debut EP by New Madrid

Fiery, artsy, adrenalizing, original rock from Brooklyn. New Madrid have two guitars, bass and drums, purposeful lyrics that alternate between Spanish and English and a relentlessly tuneful melodic attack. There seems to be a 90s rock en Espanol influence although there’s definitely a classic art-rock vibe going on too. The first track, Soberano (Sovereign) is dramatic, with drums one step removed from We Will Rock You on the intro before they launch into flamenco-inflected rock with echoes of the theatrical Mexican outfit El Tri: “Lead us through the night!” This one sets the stage for the rest of the tracks, capped with a casually savage, layered electric guitar outro.

Track two, Vesicant is funky like Rage Against the Machine at their most Sabbath-esque but more tuneful: “My hate could last forever…I’ll kill you with my own hands.” Again, there’s a fat sunbaked bluesmetal solo. The third cut, Pure starts out as a trip-hop ballad with sparse, reggaeish bass, building to a swaying anthem with a twin guitar solo and then gracefully back down again. The ep ends with I’ll Find My Way, fast and anthemic, the poppiest track here. They hit a quick crescendo and then they’re out. Proof that there’s just as much great stuff as there is shit coming out of Brooklyn. If this ep – available for free download at the band’s myspace at the link above – is any indication then they probably kick ass live. New Madrid play the Cameo Gallery out back of the Loving Cup Cafe in Williamsburg on August 15 at 9.

July 8, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Why You Don’t Want to Be on America’s Got Talent

Here’s the satirical, utterly original New York band Witches in Bikinis getting the boot on America’s Got Talent.

Now here’s the band the same day, singing the same song live on Fangoria Radio and nailing it with characteristic panache.

What the tv audience wasn’t told is that America’s Got Talent edited out 99% of what Witches in Bikinis actually sang and played. It appears that the clip is actually two edits – one from one of the choruses of Love Potion #9 and another from the very end of the song with the band edited out of the mix – pasted together to give the misleading impression that they’re getting the heave-ho after just seconds onstage. Trouble is, it didn’t happen that way. And you thought reality tv was real…

Now here’s the whole Fangoria Radio clip – with no edits. Witches in Bikinis play the Coney Island boardwalk on 8/15 and 8/22.

July 8, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Song of the Day 7/8/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Wednesday’s song is #385:

Al Stewart – Roads to Moscow

Sympathy for the devil? Well, this is sympathy for the Nazis, at least for one clueless draftee who finds himself deep in Russian territory, about to be taken prisoner by the Soviets and probably scapegoated for everything Hitler did, General Guderian standing at the front of the road staring down the end. The massive art-rock anthem ends on a single ominous note by future Elvis Costello bassist Bruce Thomas. From the Past, Present, Future lp, 1974; mp3s are everywhere.

July 8, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment