Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Ilhan Ersahin’s Istanbul Sessions with Erik Truffaz

This is groove jazz but it’s not exactly lite jazz. Over a steady beat, whether that might be in straight-up 4/4 or something more complex, saxophonist/composer (and Nublu nightclub owner) Ilhan Ersahin joins forces with trumpeter Erik Truffaz, bassist Alp Ersonmez, drummer Turgut Alp Bekoglu and percussionist Izzet Kizil to create an imaginative series of soundscapes, some hypnotic and totally psychedelic, others closer to a traditional jazz framework. Horns and reeds are occasionally abetted by light electronic touches (a pitch pedal for the trumpet, effects pedal for the bass and occasional loops) that bring up the playfulness factor but never turn the tunes  completely over to the machines. This album blends pretty much equal amounts of late-night chillout material along with more melodically diverse, often Middle Eastern-tinged compositions.

The opening track, Freedom shuffles over a looping, aggressive reggae-tinged bass riff, Ersahin’s tenor expanding slowly. Truffaz comes in with similar precision, then they eventually switch roles. With its martial beat and hypnotically steady 8th-note bassline, Bosphorus’ understatedly bracing Middle Eastern modal flourishes give way to warm atmospheric vistas. The band follow this with Doors to Heaven, a breezy conversation between trumpet and sax; then a segue into an off-kilter passage that slowly congeals with a dub reggae feel.

Sam I Am features Ersahin at his balmiest, working a series of scales over clattering drums and a hypnotic bass pulse, then hinting at Middle Eastern tones, Bekoglu getting a rare chance to really cut loose with the drums and making the most of it. The aptly titled Downtown Istanbul moves quickly from fond wee-hours salute to jagged blues, Truffaz flailing against the rhythm section’s dubwise low-register wash. By contrast, Les Ottomans, a brisk motorway melody, optimistically awaits an action film ready to speed along with it before the final showdown. The album closes with its two best cuts, the echoey David Lynch style nightmare noir of Alley Cats, and Our Theory, which matches woozy dub to soaring majesty. Ilhan Ersahin’s Istanbul Sessions play this year’s Turkish Woodstock at Central Park Summerstage on July 3. Early arrival, 3 PM is a necessity, least year’s concert having conservatively drawn a crowd of about ten thousand, packing the arena in minutes. If you miss him there, you can always catch him on his home turf at Nublu.

June 9, 2010 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Boro 6 Music Festival 2010 – Worth a Trip to Montclair, NJ

Like just about everything here, we’re a little late in getting to this, but last year’s Boro 6 Music Festival included just about every good rock and rock-related style happening outside of NYC. In covering the scene here, we often lose sight of all the other vital scenes outside the five boroughs – based on last year’s festival and this year’s, Montclair is definitely one of them. This year’s festival is four concerts in three days at two venues, starting Fri June 11 at Tierney’s Tavern, 136 Valley Road in Montclair and Asana House, down the block at 127 Valley Road where there will be an all-ages show on Sat, June 12 (Tierney’s is 21+).

Friday’s headliners the Defending Champions are a first-class, high-energy third-wave ska band. Also on the bill; Black Water (feat. former members of the skronky, atonal, amusing Meltdowns) and hypnotically echoey, reverb-drenched Mogwai-ish dreampop/noiserockers the Invisible Lines.

The good stuff starts around nine on Saturday at Tierney’s with up-and-coming retro soul band the One and Nines, fronted by charismatic siren Vera Sousa, with an equally captivating if far darker choice of headliners, the alternately austere and intense guitar-and-violin-driven indie rockers Bern & the Brights. The all-ages show at Asana House kicks off with anthemic veteran powerpop guy Gerry Perlinsky plus the clever, Beatlesque Terry McCarthy, tuneful and fun janglerockers the Sirs (who do a song about a Jean-Paul Sartre play, and another about being goth in high school) and Celtic folk troubadour Niall Connolly.

Sunday’s show opens with the tongue-in-cheek retro 80s Frozen Gentlemen, followed by Copesetic – whose tunefully psychedelic debut last year was a singer short of greatness – then the funky hip-hop groove of Tip Canary, the Porchistas’ fun, country-inflected powerpop (plus they’re bringing free rice and beans for everyone, yum), the similarly Americana-driven but louder McMickle Bros. and then fiery gypsy rockers Kagero to wind up the night on an exhaustingly fun note. Definitely enough good stuff here to make it worth the ride there and back.

June 9, 2010 Posted by | concert, irish music, Live Events, Music, music, concert, rap music, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

CD Review: Kiwi – Mischief Reigns

You just gotta love it – a Brazilian-inflected dub reggae cd by a band named after New Zealand’s tasty green version of the blueberry. True to their name, Kiwi have made a tasty album, warm, summery and hypnotic like all the best roots reggae is. This is the group that big up-and-coming retro soul buzz band the One and Nines spun off of. The two bands share a vocalist, the irresistibly soaring Vera Sousa, a guitarist (the smartly incisive Jeff Marino), a tenor sax player (Barami Waspe) and a keyboardist. On this album Sousa shares vocal duties with Alex Tyshkov, who distinguishes himself on bass, guitars, keys, percussion and more. The rest of the laid-back horn section comprises Kasey Lockwood on trumpet and Matt Ryan on trombone, with Will Hansen on keys, David Delgado on drums and G.D. Hemmings on percussion. The bass is always way up in the mix, guaranteeing that it’ll sound fat even if you’re playing it on a lo-fi system. Like the One and Nines, a band who completely nail the ambience, arrangements and spirit of 60s Memphis soul music, Kiwi’s sound is straight out of Kingston, 1977 but with sonically improved production values.

The album opens with a tantalizing bass-driven interlude with organ, giving way to No One Else featuring Sousa doing one of her irresistible, wise, slinky vocals. Most of these songs segue into each other, often separated by little interludes, mostly brief, introspective guitar instrumentals except for a completely unexpected, rippling, gamelanesque passage toward the end. The third track, Lemon has reverb organ and fat bass with a stripped-down John Brown’s Body vibe, a feeling that returns on the sixth track, Against the Wall and later on the catchy midtempo pulse of And You.

After a tense, mostly solo guitar meditation, the fifth track reminds of Bob Marley around the time of the Kaya album, when he was blending an American R&B/soul influence into his songwriting. Track eight, Return is fat, dubwise and kind of morbid; the title cut is understatedly hypnotic – they don’t waste a note – and Sousa’s wary voice on harmonies in the background is arrestingly exquisite. She also gets to slide and shine, in both English and Portuguese, on Aprendiz, a duet with Tyshkov. The album winds up with its most psychedelic track, Cherry Tree, and then a cut that has the feel of being a catchy One and Nines groove rearranged as reggae. This is one of those rare albums that doesn’t have a single lame track, not even those little interludes. Watch this space for NYC area shows.

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Music, music, concert, reggae music, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Chico Trujillo – Chico de Oro

Chico Trujillo are Chile’s #1 party band – they play soccer stadiums there, where this album has probably already gone oro. Currently on their first American tour, they make their New York debut on June 12 at La Oveja Negra in Astoria and then at Barbes with Chicha Libre on June 13. They spun off of popular punk band La Floripondio, but the undercurrent here isn’t rock, it’s ska – although they play cumbia, the one-two punch of Sebastian Cabezas’ trumpet and Luis Tabilo’s trombone gives the songs here a boisterously oldschool Studio One flavor. There are a lot of different types of cumbias, just like reggae, the genre it most closely resembles and may inevitably eclipse as the world’s most popular party music. Chico Trujillo play pretty much all of them.

They’re kind of like a bigger band version of Chicha Libre (their Barbes Records labelmates), with a slinky groove, twangy reverb guitar and eerie, trebly organ, but more lush arrangements. Likewise, a lot of the songs are mostly instrumental, some of them limited to just vocals on the chorus. The lyrics, such as they have them, are funny, whether kibitzing on the oldschool Conductor, the gonzo vaudeville of La Cosecha de Mujeres (Harvest of Women), the self-explanatory Loca (Crazy Woman) or No Me Busques (Don’t Go Looking for Me).

As it setttles into a slinky, hypnotic sway, the album’s opening track hints that it’s going to go completely noir, but it doesn’t – it’s closer to the psychedelic soundtrack sound that guys like Lee Hazlewood were mining in the late 60s, welded to a vintage Jamaican undercurrent. But guitarist Michael Magliocchetti gets the chance to surf out in tandem with the organ on the boisterous second cut; the third track incorporates echoes of hip-hop along with a rich, lush organ crescendo toward the end. Pollera Amarilla (Chicken Farmer) sends trumpet soaring over that classic, swaying groove, guitar and percussion rattling and cackling ominously in the background. A couple of other songs have a 60s rocksteady feel and happy horns; La Escoba (Sweep) is straight-up ska-punk; Lanzaplatos is a noir bolero rocker, and Los Sabanales sounds like a hyperspeed Mexican ranchera ballad. South America has a long tradition of fertile cross-pollination, which explains why these guys have so many flavors that it’s hard to keep track. The only miss here is a tongue-in-cheek cover of a Marc Anthony hit that’s so awful that even an inspired performance by pretty much everybody in the band can’t redeem it. The album clocks in at almost an hour, with fifteen tracks – they sound like they’re an awful lot of fun live.

June 9, 2010 Posted by | latin music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: The Fast Sails – The Wayside

An auspicious debut by these smart, irrepressible, uneasy Angelenos. Frontwoman Simone Snaith (actor Shane West’s younger sister) has a soaring, disarmingly direct voice that imbues the songs with an irresistibly unselfconscious, quirky charm, like Kate Bush at her most accessible. The Fast Sails’ songs look back fondly on artsy, ornately glossy retro 80s pop while adding a grittier modern rock edge. Imagine St. Vincent but without the affectations, a happier Bat for Lashes (an oxymoron, but try it anyway), or Amy Allison if she’d gotten stuck in an 80s time warp and picked up a DX7 instead of a guitar. Back in the day they used to call a lot of what’s on this album “good top 40.”

Time, the swooshy, thoughtful opening track works a catchy four-chord hook and one of those “oh, oh” Gwen Stefani melismas. The Line is a pensively sweeping art-pop ballad, chorus shooting a poison arrow through the heart of a faithless lover. The strongest track here is Wayside, stark and resolute with mandolin way up in the mix, adding an Americana edge to a melody that’s otherwise pure London, 1983. It’s a snarling look at dealing with greedy club owners:

So we need fifty in a crowd or
We don’t get paid, we aren’t allowed oh
I’ll play the sidewalk for free for as long as I can
I promise to get up and sing

It makes a good left coast counterpart to Tom Warnick’s classic anthem 40 People. The final track here is The City, adding surprising edge and bite to a coy Missing Persons-style new wave pop song: Snaith is quick on the trigger with anyone who would necessarily pigeonhole her adopted hometown as shallow and superficial. A lot of good rock has come out of LA over the years: count the Fast Sails at the forefront of this era’s crop.

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 6/9/10

How to lose a whole day: spend the early part of the previous evening at a press party with people from Istanbul and then go to Small Beast afterward, aie aie aie. More new stuff in the AM – or more realistically, the PM. Meanwhile, the best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Wednesday’s song is #50:

The Room – New Dreams for Old

Optimism in the midst of despair in this gorgeous, lyrically dazzling 1984 UK psychedelic pop hit from the band’s In Evil Hour album. The Tom Verlaine-produced single is the best version.

June 9, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment