Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: My Pet Dragon at the Cameo Gallery, Brooklyn NY 2/8/10

My Pet Dragon opened their February residency at the Cameo Gallery with a fiery yet trance-inducing show including a considerable amount of new material. From their first few notes, they went for sweeping, epic grandeur, part 90s British anthem band, part shoegaze and whichever way they turned, completely psychedelic. Frontman/guitarist Todd Michaelsen’s voice functions as an instrument in the band rather than a distinct lead vocal over instrumentation. He’s got a range that would make Thom Yorke jealous, and uses the entirety of that range with an unselfconscious intensity. Harmony vocalist/dancer Reena Shah would judiciously pick her spots to echo or play off Michaelsen’s soaring wail when she wasn’t moving around her corner of the stage with a grace that was as trance-inducing as the music. Lead guitarist Anthony Rizzo layered precise, reverberating raindrops of melody when he wasn’t making a sonic Jackson Pollock behind the atmospheric washes and roars of Michaelsen’s guitar. Several of the songs would riff off a hypnotic two-chord vamp until the chorus would sail in, bright and catchy, sweeping the clouds away.

They opened with an insistent, creepy, Radiohead-inflected new one, Michaelsen running the lyric “with a minute to go,” over and over, mantra-like. There’s a remarkable social awareness to their lyrics, which really came to the forefront on New Nation, a hopeful post-apocalyptic duet between Michaelsen and Shah. Another new one, Yellow Brick Road was a study in unease, Rizzo bringing just a hint of a bluesy tinge to the pensiveness underlying the song’s sturdy, anthemic theme. A couple of other recent tunes swung and swayed, buoyed by bassist Mario Padron, taking advantage of the opportunity to emerge from his usual insistent pulse with some potently incisive runs up the scale as the verses would turn around. Another more recent one added subtle shades and shadows to a four-chord hook that wouldn’t be out of place in the Brian Jonestown Massacre catalog. Their last song – one of three brand-new ones they debuted tonight – became a mesmerizing, swirling echo chamber with the two guitars roaring full blast, the two singers rising wordlessly out of the morass, part exaltation and part scream.

The opening band were like a good ipod mix of b-sides – they have excellent taste. The end of their set included a Nashville gothic ballad, a ska-rock number like early No Doubt but with an edge, a song that sounded like Wire and another like Blur (or like bands who’ve ripped off those two groups, whose sound these guys were now recycling). My Pet Dragon are back here on the 15th and then the 27th at 10.

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February 9, 2010 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The 100 Best Tracks of 2010, 100 Best Songs of 2010, 100 Best Cuts of 2010, Whatever You Want to Call This

Keep in mind that the songs are in completely random order (other than #1 of course, heh heh). This is just one of our many ways of spreading the word about all the good music out there that the corporate media and their imitators in the blogosphere won’t touch because it’s too edgy, too much fun, or too intelligent. In response to your requests for as much variety as possible, we give you 100 songs by 100 of the coolest artists out there, in a wide variety of styles. Whenever possible, we link to each individual song, but because some of them are so new they haven’t been recorded or youtubed yet, that’s not possible. We try our best to get titles right, but in the case of the unreleased stuff the artists may not have settled on definitive ones yet.

Because we’re a New York blog, this is a very New York-centric list. If you’re interested, here’s our 100 Best Albums of 2010 list, our Best Songs of 2009 list, our 50 Best Albums of 2009 list and our 200 Best Albums of the Decade list for the entire decade of the zeros.

1. Changing Modes – Moles
A punk rock classic with all the extras: a wicked catchy tune, a scream and a sizzling guitar solo. It looks at the life of a crazy homeless person living in the bowels of the New York subway, where it’s “worse than your nightmares and better than your wildest dreams.”

2.  The Brooklyn What – Punk Rock Loneliness
Chilling, vintage punk-infused wintertime scenario at the corner of Bleecker and Bowery, where CBGB’s used to be, by the brilliant, eclectic New York band.

3. The Larch – Tracking Tina
Tongue-in-cheek retro new wave about paranoid yuppie parents putting their kids under surveillance, from the band’s career-best new album Larix Americana

4. Clare & the Reasons – Murder, They Want Murder
The natives in “Ditmasville” are restless and they want blood – an eerie, Orbisonesque noir pop song from the Brooklyn art-rockers.  

5.  Bobtown – We Will Bury You
The New York bluegrass/Americana band’s soaring but unsettling, funereal highlight from their new albumm.

6. Tris McCall – First World, Third Rate
Suburban New Jersie anomie and angst perfectly capsulized and set to catchy piano-based art-rock, from the songwriter’s excellent new album Let the Night Fall. 

7.  Flugente – People Come from All Around
An anti-gentrifier anthem from a first-class songwriter memorializing a better time and place in NYC without being sentimental. From his excellent new one Flugente II.

8. Norden Bombsight – Raven
Careening art-rock monstrosity from the fiery, psychedelic band – probably the only song ever to memorialize (or mention) West Haven, Connecticut.

9. Walter Ego – I Am the Glass
Metaphorically rich, tuneful, Costelloish rock from the excellent lyrical New York acoustic rocker (who needs a website so his fans can hear this song).

10. 3ology with Ron Miles – Nightmares of My Youth
Cornetist Miles’ jazz trio with Tim and Doug Carmichael vividly evokes a dark night of the soul. From the group’s debut album together.

11. Chicha Libre – Rich Guy Theme
Early in the year, the psychedelic Brooklyn chicha revivalists debuted this live as one of two main themes for Charlie Chaplin’s The Idle Class. It’s as evil and as catchy as any of the stoner surf themes that came out of Peru in the 70s that the band emulates so perfectly.

12. Liz Tormes – Read My Mind
Bitter, intense, ferociously literate kiss-off song from the New York Americana chanteuse. From her most recent album Limelight.

13. Kasey Anderson – Torn Apart
A warning to get out of a small town before it suffocates you, done sort of growly, Steve Earle style. From Anderson’s new album Nowhere Nights.

14. Edward Rogers – Passing the Sunshine
The blithe neo-Britpop melody masks the ache for a New York neighborhood lost to greedy developers and the gentrifiers who moved in and ruined it. From Rogers’ excellent most recent album Sparkle Lane.

15. The Snow – The Silent Parade
An understatedly majestic art-rock anthem about the snowstorm to end all snowstorms, from frontman Pierre de Gaillande’s ongoing “disaster song cycle,” and the band’s latest album I Die Every Night.

16. Jay Banerjee & the Heartthrobs – Long Way Home
Lusciously jangly but savagely dismissive 12-string guitar rock song for a clueless gentrifier girl who finds that New York isn’t all just trendy and nice like pitchfork says it is.

17. Tall Tall Trees – Sallie Mae
Characteristically edgy, hilarious banjo rock tune that brings the instutition to life: she left him and stuck him with a debt he’ll never be able to repay.

18. Avi Fox-Rosen – White Collar Crime
Sly, Steely Dan-esque funk-rock with a message: if you want to be a crook, this is the right way to go.

19. Bad Reputation – I Made Myself Small
Pierre de Gaillande’s English-language Georges Brassens cover project’s version of the classic Je Me Suis Fait Tout Petit: gypsy-tinged art-rock about being pussywhipped.

20. The Toneballs – Max Planck’s Time
Middle Eastern-tinged, angst-ridden art-rock from songwriter/filmmaker Dan Sallitt’s post Blow This Nightclub project. Lead guitarist Paul McKenzie blew us away with a version of this at Freddy’s Bar right before it closed earlier this year.

21. Abaji – Menz Baba
Bouzouki rock has seldom been this catchy or this intense. From the Greek/Turkish multi-instrumentalist’s new one Origine Orients.

22. Thunderball – To Catch a Vixen
Trippy, cinematic downtempo/trip-hop crime theme from this irrepressible crew.

23. Kathleen Supove – Trepidus, by Louis Andriessen
Watching the avant garde piano titan play this brutally taxing piece with perfect staccato intensity and groove in Brooklyn this past spring was one of the highlights of 2010.

24. Sean Kershaw & the New Jack Ramblers – Woke Up Dead
Creepy noir Americana from the Coney Island Cowboy’s long-awaited new full-length cd.

25. Rick Barry – Atlantis
Pensive, brooding apocalyptic folk-rock from the New Jersey songwriter.

26. The Tivoli Trio – Two for Tea
Macabre, phantasmagorical piano jazz theme from Frank Carlberg and his rhythm section.

27. Wormburner – Peekskill
Depression-era heartland hell from a highway rock band who know their way around smart, realist meat-and-potatoes anthemic rock songwriting.

28. Tribecastan – Starry Stari Grad
Sad, haunting Macedonian-tinged waltz from these eclectic world music hellraisers.

29. The Jack Grace Band – If You’re Gonna Raise a Drunk
Definitely one of the  alltime classic drinking songs: a how-to guide for the drunk parent, from the Martini Cowboy’s excellent new Drinking Songs for Lovers cd.

30. Elvis Costello – National Ransom
The greatest English-language songwriter turns his poison pen and Americana rock band on the Wall Street swindlers who gave us the new depression – title track from his excellent album.

31. Girl to Gorilla – Evil Man
New York noir meets southwestern gothic with punk energy – they kicked the hell out of this one at last spring’s upstate Beefstock Festival.

32. Mojo Mancini – The Bunker
Dub reggae meets Tuatara-style South Asian hypnotic ambience on this one from NYC’s best noir soundtrack band’s self-titled debut album.

33. Mostly Other People Do the Killing – The Christian Life
Characteristically hilarious, sacrilegious cover of the Louvin Bros.’ country gospel standard.

34. Carolann Solebello – Behind the Door
Vividly lyrical, wounded yet triumphant anthem for anyone with a checkered past – from the Red Molly multi-instrumentalist’s most recent album Glass of Desire.

36. Elisa Flynn – Close Your Eyes
The indie songwriter’s haunting evocation of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair disaster – she did a riveting version of this at Small Beast this past spring.

37. Smoothe Moose – Ghouls n Ghosts
Theme from the classic 1980s video game, done dubstep style.

38. Las Rubias del Norte – Navidad Negra
Noir cumbia much in the same vein as their brother band, Chicha Libre, from their career-best new album Ziguala.

39. Greta Gertler – Teacher
Casually dramatic, intense ballad from this state-of-the-art, playful art-rock composer.

40. Pal Shazar – People Talk
Elvis Costelloesque nonconformist anthem from the cult hero songwriter from 80s legends Slow Children.

41. Fishtank Ensemble – Espagnolette
Blistering gypsy intensity from the Bay Area band’s latest album; they slayed with this at BAM last winter.

42. Black Death – Live Free or Die
Not a cover of the Bill Morrissey comedy-rock classic – this punk-metal stomp is closer to the UK Subs at their early 80s peak.

43. Gamelan Galak Tika – Tire Fire
Evan Ziporyn’s gamelan-rock band’s showstopper is this long, aptly titled, scorching triptych.

44. The One and Nines – Walked Alone
Defiant, sassy oldschool Memphis soul from siren Vera Sousa and her talented band.

45. Gaida – Levantine Indulgence
Sweeping, majestically slinky title track to the Syrian/American chanteuse’s new album.

46. Masters of Persian Music – Taqsim #1
Iranian spike fiddle virtuoso/composer Kayhan Kalhor and his accomplices dedicated this long, mournful jam to a recently bereaved friend at their show at NYU’s Skirball Center this past spring.

47. The Smiles & Frowns – Mechanical Songs
Cleverly satirical, period-perfect retro 60s psychedelia.

48. Lorraine Leckie – Don’t Giggle At the Corpse
Blackly amusing funeral scenario, solo acoustic, from the New York noir chanteuse’s new album Martini Eyes.

49. Newspeak – If You See Something Say Something
Brutally sarcastic cover of the Taking Back Sunday song by this amazingly eclectic New York avant-garde/rock outfit.

50. Matt Keating – Asbury Park
A bitingly realistic antidote to Springsteen-style romanticism – as yet unreleased.

51. Sarah Manning – The Owls Are on the March
Alto sax genius Manning’s latest album Dandelion Clock contemplates the finitude of time: this is a characteristically angst-drenched, richly melodic composition.

52. The New York Scandia String Symphony/Bjarke Mogensen – Anders Koppel: Concerto Piccolo
Danish composer Koppel’s richly diverse suite for accordion and orchestra was stunning this past spring when Mogensen and the NY Scandia Symphony’s chamber orchestra played it at Victor Borge Hall.

53. Mary Lee’s Corvette – Big Things
From frontwoman Mary Lee Kortes’ as-yet-unstaged musical about legendary, obscure heartland songwriter Beulah Rowley, this is a darkly lyrical oldtime swing song.

54. The City Champs – Comanche
Noir Link Wray-ish gospel-inflected theme from the Memphis organ groove trio’s excellent latest album.

55. Fernando Otero – Fin de Revision
Cinematic solo piano suspense theme from the eclectic Argentinian pianist/composer’s excellent latest album, Vital.

56. Elaine Romanelli – Faust Revisited
Cruelly funny yet insightful look at the psychology of anxious yuppie vanity, from the NYC siren’s compelling album The Real Deal.

57. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Saro
Memorable West African tribute to a fallen family member, from the ngoni star’s latest album I Speak Fula.

58. The Debutante Hour – Galax
Creepy Nashville gothic from the irrepressible, theatrical all-girl trio.

59. The Disclaimers – We’re the Disclaimers
A soul/rock band this good deserves their own theme: the two frontwoman deliver sultry harmonies over the two guitars, keys and violin. They killed with this at Spike Hill almost a year ago.

60. The Dixons – The Lonesome Side of Me
Oldschool Bakersfield-style Telecaster-driven country with Johnny Cash style vocals – awesome.

61. LJ Murphy – Waiting By the Lamppost for You
Characteristically vivid, cinematic, brooding ballad from the NY noir legend. Unreleased, but a current staple of his live show.

62. Spanglish Fly – Open Container
An anthem for anybody who’s ever been busted by a New York cop out to make his quota of cheap arrests. Unreleased, but a real crowd-pleaser at the bugalu revivalists’ live shows.

63. Audrey Chen – Untitled
Chen improvises everything – using a homemade effects box, she growled, purred, whispered and roared through an amazing wordless set including this one last month at Issue Project Room.

64. Jeremy Messersmith – Deathbed Salesman
Darkly hilarious, jangly Rickenbacker guitar powerpop from the excellent Minnesota tunesmith’s Reluctant Graveyard album.

65. Erica Smith & the 99 Cent Dreams – River King
Vividly evocative, bitter Americana-tinged resignation from one of NYC’s foremost song stylists. Unreleased, but she plays it live a lot.

66. Cousin Silas – A Passing
Ominous, allusive ambient soundscape from the British composer’s marvelous Canaveral Dreams album.

67. Ted Hearne – Brownie You’re Doing a Heck of a Job
The Bush regime may be out of office, but it’s still fun to make fun of them. This white hip-hop number from Hearne’s Katrina Ballads album is a doozy.

68. Little Annie & Paul Wallfisch – Cutesy Bootsies
Absolutely hilarious anti-trendoid anthem from the noir chanteuse and the Botanica pianist/bandleader.

69. Daria Grace & the Pre-War Ponies – Moon Over Brooklyn
An unselfconsciously romantic cover of an obscure 1920s swing number that deserves to be the borough’s theme song.

70. Ana Milosavljevic – Reflections
Brooding, Satie-esque piano-and-violin masterpiece based on an old Serbian folk song that offers just a hint of hope at the end; title track from her new album.

71. The Snow – Albatross
Richly lyrical, psychedelic art-rock from Pierre de Gaillande’s excellent chamber-pop band’s new album I Die Every Night.

72. The John Sharples Band – The Impostor
A noir Tom Warnick classic done with extra guitar fury by the world’s best cover band, whose raison d’etre is to play only brilliant obscure songs.

73.  The Spy from Cairo – Leila
Deliciously trippy downtempo version of the serpentine Mohammed Al-Wahab classic.

74. Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars – Jah Mercy
Conscious African reggae from this ecstatically intense crew’s most recent album.

75. Paula Carino – The Great Depression
Characteristically catchy, lyrically rich janglerock from Carino’s career-best Open on Sunday album.

76. iLa Mawana – 40 Hours
Defiantly conscious roots reggae workingmans’ anthem; from their new album Soldiers of Sound.

77. Hot Club of Detroit – Restless Twilight
Gypsy jazz shuffle from the excellent Detroit band’s latest album It’s About That Time.

78. Gilzene & the Blue Light Mento Band – Gungu Walk
Hilariously rustic proto-reggae by this Jamaican crew. “Gungu walk” is oldtime Jamaican slang for “do the nasty.”

79. Tom Warnick & World’s Fair – I’m a Stranger Here
Characteristically surreal, carnivalesque noir rock from Warnick’s latest excellent album, The Great Escape.

80. Botanica – Who You Are
Rich, towering noir angst from this era’s foremost art-rock band – beware anyone who caters to your desire for someone to know who you are and what you need.

81.Randi Russo – Alienation
Potently crafted, pretty self-explanatory, dark artsy rock from one of its best practitioners over the last ten years: look for a release in 2011.

82. Special Patrol Group – Only an Oasis
Subtly lyrical 1990s style Britpop with bite: a snide reflection on a southern New England upbringing.

83. Dollshot – The Trees
Creepy improvisationally tinged art/jazz/rock from this brilliantly unpredictable New York crew.

84. Sonia’s Party & the Everyone’s Invited Band – Can’t Tear My Heart
Oldschool 1960s style soul music – a real showstopper in concert.

85. The Oxygen Ponies – I Don’t Want Yr Love
Snarling, sarcastic and intense track from the NYC art-rockers’ forthcoming 2011 album.

86. Æ – Thalassa
Otherworldly track from the new album by Eva Salina Primack and Aurelia Shrenker’s hypnotic, haunting duo a-cappella project.

87. Devi – Tompkins Square
A stomping, riff-rocking remake of the False Prophets’ punk classic.

88.  Razia – Ny Alantsika
Stately, haunting eco-disaster anthem by the eclectic Malagasy chanteuse’s new album Zebu Nation.

89. Electric Junkyard Gamelan – Life on Mars
Typically richly intertwined gamelanesque trip-hop from Terry Dame’s amazing homemade instrument-playing band. They did an especially amazing version of this at Barbes last spring.

90. Black 47 – Bankers & Gangsters
Aptly snide title track to the Irish-American rockers’ tuneful new album.

91. Bern & the Brights – Sangria Peaches
Tricky, artsy, bracing violin-and-guitar driven chamber-rock from this completely original New Jersey band’s debut cd Swing Shift Maisies

92.  The Newton Gang – A Woman Scorned
Careening, noirish paisley underground intensity from J.D. Duarte’s powerful Americana rock outfit. They murdered with this at this past summer’s Brooklyn County Fair.

93. Cudzoo & the Fagettes – Walk of Shame
Pretty hilarious early morning scenario when everything goes wrong at the worst possible moment, by these fearless faux-girl group punks.

94. Redhooker – Black Light Poster Child
Trance-inducing, minimalist atmospherics from the Brooklyn avant/baroque ensemble’s debut cd Vespers.

95. Rev. Billy and the Life After Shopping Gospel Choir – Not for Sale
A ferocious gospel tune reminding the corporate types who would sell off New York to the highest-bidding gentrifier that the natives won’t tolerate it. It’s a highlight of their amazing live show.

96. Brooklyn Rider – Achille’s Heel
A fascinating, shapeshifting Debussy tribute from the adventurous string quartet’s latest album Dominant Curve.

97. My Education – Lust
Hypnotically crescendoing, atmospheric, cinematic postrock guitar theme from these excellent Texas instrumentalists.

98. The Fast Sails – Wayside
A catchy, retro 80s look at struggling bands dealing with greedy club owners from rock siren Simone Snaith’s latest project. 

99. Robin Aigner – Great Molasses Flood
Somebody had to immortalize the 1918 disaster in Boston that claimed over a dozen lives, derailed a train and flooded the North End – good thing it was this soaring Americana siren.

100. My Pet Dragon – Something Between Us
Majestic, swirling, hypnotically intense Radiohead-flavored art-rock.

February 9, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Song of the Day 2/9/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Tuesday’s song is #170:

The Jam – Mr. Clean

“And if I get the chance I’ll fuck up your life, Mr. Clean,” Paul Weller snarls. One of the great anti-yuppie diatribes ever; sweet Bruce Foxton bass groove too. From All Mod Cons, 1978; Foxton and drummer Rick Buckler continue to play this one live in their From the Jam project.

February 9, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment