Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Song of the Day 4/12/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Monday’s song is #108:

Midnight Oil – Mountains of Burma

The haunting, apocalyptic centerpiece to the Australian art-rockers’ possibly career-best 1990 Blue Sky Mining album is an epic touching on topics as diverse yet interconnected as genocide, womens’ rights and global deforestation, all in six-plus crescendoing, funereal minutes.

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April 12, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 2/19/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Friday’s song is #160:

The Church – Mistress

“All my songs are coming true,” Steve Kilbey laments on this death-obsessed, apocalyptic, surreal art-rock number from the iconic Aussie rockers’ classic Priest = Aura album, 1992.

February 19, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 2/13/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Saturday’s song is #166:

The Church – Authority

As usual with these guys, many levels of meaning at work here in this somewhat woozy, hypnotic janglerock anthem from Sometime Anywhere, 1994: it’s about being unable to resist a muse, even as the world collapses around you. And could that muse be up to no good as well?

February 13, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 2/10/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Wednesday’s song is #169:

Elvis Costello – The Other Side of Summer

The one standout track on the otherwise forgettable Mighty Like a Rose album, 1991, this gorgeous janglerock gem is a richly sarcastic swipe at sunniness in all its forms. Believe it or not, it was once used in an episode of Beverly Hills 90210.

February 10, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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

Concert Review: Keith Otten Live in NYC 1/31/10

New York audiences these days probably know Keith Otten best as the offhandedly fiery guitarist in Nashville gothic rockers Ninth House.Yet over the past twenty years, he’s built a reputation as one of those “best guitarists you’ve never heard of” in projects as diverse as pioneering 90s Britrock band Feed (with Tim Butler of the Psychedelic Furs), janglepopsters Six Ways to Sunday and his own group, the frequently magnificent, anthemic Gotham 4. Downtown early Sunday evening at a onetime Chinatown mob bar, he packed the place – on the coldest day of the year, no less – and turned in an often fascinating solo acoustic mix of material from all over the map.

Otten’s pensive, sometimes ominous original songs blend the classic with the modern: anthemic, melodic echoes of artsy bands like the Church, Radiohead and sometimes Oasis mingle with reverberating open chords. He has as much of a thing for Americana as he has for British bands; the Jimmy Page thing never reared its head, this being an acoustic show. Producer Eric Ambel famously remarked how a song needs to be good by itself before it can ever sound good with a band, and these held their own. An apprehensive new one about a pre-apocalyptic Manhattan opened as blue-sky country, but then the clouds and the complexity came sweeping in. The ever-widening circle of chords on the chorus of Long Enough (a popular one in his Gotham 4 days) were more than enough to keep the crowd guessing. He took that device to the extreme, but subtly, with another new one, Sweetly (there’s a stripped-down version on his myspace), bedeviling the audience with a long fade out, then suddenly bringing it back up again before reverting to tease mode. Ditch, a track from his most recent studio effort, took on a stinging minor-key garage rock feel, having been freed from the U2 style arrangement the band gave it. Otten closed with a remarkably flamencoish version of his mighty White Rabbit-inflected anthem 3001, its underlying intensity enhanced by the acoustic arrangement. Otten’s next New York show with Ninth House is at Hank’s on Feb 27 at 11; his next solo gig is March 15 at Sidewalk. Great players don’t get much more under the radar than this.

February 1, 2010 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 4/21/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Tuesday’s song is #463:

Absinthe – Still Alone

This bitterly and brutally evocative portrayal of life among the down-and-out and soon to be down-and-permanently-out is the centerpiece of the band’s one classic album, 1999’s A Good Day to Die, arguably BoDeans frontman Sam Llanas’ finest moment as a songwriter – and he has many.

April 20, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review from the Archives: Supergrass at Irving Plaza, NYC 5/29/97

[Editor’s note: it’s been awhile since we reached back for one of these. Occasionally, when we need to put up some new content and we don’t have anything current, it’s time to dig into the dusty Lucid Culture archives for some long-forgotten live show which could be anywhere from completely transcendent to walk-out dreadful. This one falls somewhere in between.]

The sound system blasted the Buzzcocks before the band went on, somewhat appropriately for these cheeky British lads. They opened with their new keyboardist holding a tritone (the devil’s chord), a nice touch. They settled in and so did the audience: early on in the set, it was something akin to an ideal concert experience, perfect sound, the air conditioning working fine and a crowd that wasn’t oversold with sweaty bodies rubbing up against each other, unease turning into hostility. Live, Supergrass ultimately comes across as a step above a topnotch opening band. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to differentiate between their riff-driven 60s garage rock (populist/cool) and their equally derivative 70s (corporate/insipid) influences. At one point, they did a loud, pointless cover of Kenny Rogers’ I’m Just Checking In to See What Condition My Condition’s In. Most of the best stuff was songs from their first album including Caught by the Fuzz, which went over especially well with the audience, as well as Lose It and the last of the three-song encore, the singalong Strange Ones. Their new stuff alternates between tastily organ-driven songs which could be Fleshtones b-sides, and more overtly commercial material, Led Zep lite, which also lean heavily on organ and string synth. Still, a fun if not entirely overwhelming show.

May 29, 2008 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: The Gotham 4 at Club Midway, NYC 7/31/07

You have to wonder why these guys do it. Is it the money? They brought a good crowd, but let’s face it, if everybody in the band got to bring home fifty bucks apiece they would have been lucky.

Is it the fame? Hardly. Everybody in this loud, nebulously 90s, two-guitar unit has been around the block a few times, and as we all know, you don’t get signed to a record label these days unless your parents arrange for it, or you’re college-age and cute. These guys’ frontman was once in a band with one of the Psychedelic Furs that came thisclose to getting signed; the bass player is a ubiquitous type who had the good sense to catch on with a couple of other acts (Randi Russo and Erica Smith, to be specific) who seem to be right on the verge. Otherwise, the Gotham 4 are barely distinguishable from the literally hundreds of acts playing this town in any given week.

Maybe it’s that they’re clearly having fun, at least that’s how it seemed tonight. Their lead singer/lead guitarist has become something of a belter lately, and it served him well, giving the songs a welcome edge. The bass player was bobbing and weaving around a corner of the stage in Spinal Tap mode, the rhythm player delivering a steady blast of chordal fury, the drummer having fun throwing in some neat rolls and fills to keep everyone on their toes. And the audience loved it. They opened with a brief number that pretty much encapsulates what they do, totally early 90s anthemic Britrock with more than a nod and a wink to Led Zeppelin, especially where the solos are concerned. But they’re far more melodic than, say, the Verve or Ride or early Radiohead, more like Oasis without all the stolen Beatles licks.

The high point of the night was a long, flamenco-colored number called 3001, building from a White Rabbit-style, staccato verse to an explosive chorus, to a long solo where the lead player got to stretch out while the bass player did his best John Paul Jones imitation. Later songs gave off echoes of U2, the Furs (big surprise), the Who circa Who’s Next and (sorry, guys) Oasis in their prime. Their lone cover was an attempt to rock out the Stones country classic Dead Flowers. One can only wonder how many other unsung bands tonight gave it their all and received as warm a response from such an unlikely large, enthusiastic crowd.

August 1, 2007 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment