Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Song of the Day 6/16/10

Every day, for about the next six weeks anyway, our best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues all the way to #1. Wednesday’s song is #43:

The Church – Already Yesterday

As his bass carries the melody soaring over Peter Koppes’ airy guitar, frontman Steve Kilbey casually narrates a chilling post-apocalyptic scenario. Live, he’s been known to change the lyrics: “Please don’t feel those locks and chains, please don’t listen to the lizard part of your brain…” From the Heyday album, 1986.

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June 15, 2010 Posted by | lists, 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

Song of the Day 1/9/10

So much for New Year’s resolutions – our attempt to bring back a daily post here at the site, at least as we count down our Top 666 Songs of Alltime list one step closer #1, took a nosedive when our internet connnection went out yesterday. So here’s today’s song, #201:

Bobby Vacant & the Weary – Never Looking Back

Our pick for best song of 2009, it’s tersely metaphorical, bitter yet defiant to the end, the high point of the expat American songwriter’s darkly intense album Tear Back the Night. And the lyric at the end sounds unmistakably like, “Went from my home, went from my friends, went from the land where the polygraph spins.” The link above is the stream at Radio Luxotone.

If you really want to know what yesterday’s song was supposed to be, click on the Top 666 list link above and find out. And by the way, in case you’re a newcomer here, we do a lot more than just have fun with a bunch of lists of good songs. Reviews of psychedelic rock in the West Village, latin music of all strange and wonderful sorts in Tribeca coming up along with a bunch of great rock, soul, jazz and indescribable vocal music cds coming up in the next week. If we can get online. Stay tuned.

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

Willie Nile’s Landmark 1980 Live Central Park Album Back in Print

Reissue of the year: janglerock pioneer Willie Nile and his band were fresh off opening for the Who on tour when they recorded this one live in Central Park. The show wasn’t released until 1994 on the Archive Alive label, and has been out of print for the past fifteen years. What you get is a careening three-guitar juggernaut more wired and weary from the road than they are tight, but the energy is through the roof: the cd cover shot of Nile leaping a couple of feet in the air, guitar in outstretched arms like an offering to a cruel god, says it all. The version of Nile’s signature song, Vagabond Moon (the #1 song of the year in Finland that year) is as fresh as the day they first recorded it. Old Men Sleeping on the Bowery, an evocative period piece if there ever was one, makes you hunger for the days when its title rang true with a blast of guitar fury. Riff-rockers like I’m Not Waiting and It’s All Over stomp along on an irrepressible backbeat. The show’s highlight is a characteristically volcanic take of Sing Me a Song, the ferocious anthem that winds up Nile’s debut studio lp (nine of the cuts on that record are represented here) Even the secondary, b-side tunes rise to a level where they have to be reckoned with. Basically, what this cd offers – other than a delicious blast from the past – is proof that Nile has not been faking it for the last thirty years. He’s always been like this. There’s a limited run of 2500 copies of the reissue and who knows how many more, if any. after that: you can paypal it or send a check for $15 plus $3 for postage (multiple copies $15 plus $7 flat rate for shipping) to  GB Music Ltd., 494 Greenwich Street, NY, NY 10013. Snooze and you might lose.

November 13, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: New Madrid at Shea Stadium 10/2/09

Let the record show that Brooklyn rockers New Madrid did in fact play Shea Stadium and won over a small but enthusiastic crowd – crowds tend to be small, after all, considering how depleted the Mets were this season. New Madrid are a trio right now. They have a guitarist, bassist and a drummer who fronts the band, in the tradition of New Order (when Steve Morris was the singer), Terry Anderson’s OAKTeam and Marmalade (the New York indie pop band, not Ian Matthews’ 70s Britfolk act). Throughout a roughly 45-minute set, it was clear that their recent four-song ep (very favorably reviewed here) was no fluke – they hit you with one catchy, anthemic hook after another, but they deliver them casually and methodically without hitting you in the face with them. New Madrid’s live sound has an overall pensive, thoughtful feel despite frequent and dramatic shifts in volume: let it wash over you and you can get lost in this, as their fans seemed to be doing. One similar band that immediately came to mind was Australian art-rock legends the Church, or, although New Madrid don’t have as much of a deliberately latin feel, Mexican anthem-meisters Jaguares. Their guitarist didn’t waste notes, varying his textures from a seemingly effortless roar to various shades of juicy jangle and clang, his terse, often reverberating fills and accents filling the space. Likewise, the rhythm section was terse and in the pocket – they don’t like to waste notes either. They varied their tempos, from a big, crunchy riff-rocker to several swaying, ominously crescendoing midtempo tunes, one ending with an unexpected and very effectively bracing blast of feedback – if this was intentional, it was resoundingly successful, if not it still brought the sound to a pretty intense peak. And it was quite a contrast with the drummer’s understatedly soulful baritone delivery. This is the kind of band you want to see in the spacious confines of a small club, where you can focus on the subtleties because this crew has plenty. Their next gig is on Oct 9 at 9 PM at the Castle in Hell in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn, 842 Myrtle Ave., G train to Myrtle-Willoughby.

The opening band also made a mark with their catchy 80s gothpop feel. There are still a million Cure wannabes out there, but Demander transcend that label. To say that they’re like Paramore without the cliches is an oxymoron, but try anyway. Their frontwoman stayed within herself and didn’t overemote, the fast new wave beat kept the heads bobbing and their songwriting proved as full of hooks – if not as rocking – as New Madrid’s is.

And if you’ve read this far down, or if you follow the Brooklyn music scene closely, you’ll know by now that the venue where all this happened was actually the remote Bushwick loft space known as Shea Stadium rather than the lovable dump where Seaver, Koosman, Piazza and all the rest played their best years. RIP Shea, and kudos to the crew with the loft for carrying on the name. Memo to the band manager: this headline’s for you, bro.

October 5, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CD Review: HuDost – Trapeze

The second album by adventurous Montreal band HuDost was produced by Malcolm Burn (Peter Gabriel, Midnight Oil) who gives their ethereal, sometimes country-flavored, sometimes goth-inflected pop songs a sheen that underscores their rustic side rather than glossing over it. With her clear, soaring voice, frontwoman/keyboardist Moksha Sommer echoes a couple of NYC rock legends – she’s something of a cross between a more overtly sultry Paula Carino and a less boisterous Juliana Nash. Perhaps adding to the already wary edge in her voice is that she recorded this album after being diagnosed with a brain tumor, but before the operation.

The album opens with the goth-pop epic Trespasser, a cut that with a little exposure will be a fixture in the background wherever black robes and eyeliner are found. About half the songs here take a traditional country ballad feel and add an unexpected edge, whether that might be exotic instrumentation (harmonium, bouzouki, oud and bendir) or a more hypnotic vibe – one of them sounds like a more interesting update on the Rosanne Cash hit Seven Year Ache. The most memorable track is an understatedly haunting number sung in both English and French, recounting how greedy developers paved over a cemetery for the poor, ripped out the headstones, left the graves and with erosion the bodies came through the ground again. Of the other tracks here, there’s a catchy Beatlesque hit that morphs into new wave, a vivid, psychedelic midtempo chamber pop ballad, and the upbeat, tongue-in-cheek All My Guitars (sung by guitarist Jemal Wade Hines), an artsy pop song that wouldn’t be out of place in the Snow‘s songbook. It’s nice to see a band like this who don’t sacrifice content for commerciality yet have a theoretically almost limitless upside for hit potential: these songs are catchy, and thankfully, Canadian radio is mandated to push Canadian artists, so they ought to have at least one market locked up.

The best news of all here is that Sommer is in good health again and the band will be on US tour Sept 16-Oct 15, watch this space for NY dates.

September 10, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 9/9/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Wednesday’s song is #322:

The Hangdogs Anacostia

In July of 1932, with the depression in full swing, thousands of World War I veterans marched on Washington to protest the Hoover administration’s refusal to let them cash in their service bonus bonds ahead of schedule. Because Washington, DC is not a state, the Posse Comitatus Act did not apply, and on July 28, a battalion commanded by Gen. Douglas MacArthur attacked them with poison gas. The vets fled to the Hooverville they’d built across the Anacostia River; dozens were massacred and the encampment was burned to the ground. This rousing, furious anthem commemorates the atrocity. From the Beware of Dog cd, 2000, still in print.

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

Song of the Day 9/2/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Wednesday’s song is #329:

The Dream Syndicate – Boston

Of all the great anthems Steve Wynn has written, this is one of the best, still a concert favorite over 20 years since the studio version was released on Out of the Grey. From those two crashing chords that open it, it’s intense all the way through to the la-la-la outro that the band often uses as an excuse to go crazy. A million versions out there: here’s a good one with too much bass; here’s another (contrary to what the page tells you, it’s not the take from the excellent 1989 Live at Raji’s cd).

September 2, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 8/30/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Sunday’s song is #332:

Midnight Oil – Blue Sky Mining

Janglerock heaven. This is a snarling tale about an Australian asbestos mine abandoned by its greedy corporate owners after they’d poisoned their employees along with the surrounding land and its inhabitants. Martin Rotsey’s all-too-brief, offhandedly vicious guitar solo after the bridge is exhilarating. “Nothing’s as precious as a hole in the ground.” Title track to the 1992 album, mp3s are everywhere.

August 29, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Grand Atlantic – How We Survive

The way “Brisbane’s favorite power-pop band” Grand Atlantic survive is by writing catchy songs. This is the excellent album Oasis should have done after What’s the Story Morning Glory but didn’t. True to their name, Grand Atlantic go after big, towering hooks. They know that hit songs are simple, and they keep them that way – this is the kind of album you’ll be humming despite yourself after you’ve heard it once. As terse as the writing is, the production has a massive, big-room 90s feel, with a ton of guitar overdubs ringing, pinging, clanging and crashing in their allotted spaces. What hits you right off the bat is how smartly and tastefully this has been assembled.

The album gets going with Coast Is Clear, a midtempo, harmony-driven escape anthem which sets the tone for the rest of the cd. Tripwires introduces the band’s other specialty, crunchy riff-rock, here spiced with some clever retro 80s synth patches. The big hit here, obviously, is She’s a Dreamer, which could be Oasis but thankfully without the coked-out poser attitude and all those pilfered Beatles licks (you can hear it right now on their myspace). The upbeat post-Oasis vibe continues on Freeway and its tasty layers of guitar.

The title track, interestingly enough, goes back in time another twenty years for a sort of Badfinger ballad feel. After that, the Rickenbackers kick in with some tasty jangle and clang on the sarcastic sha-la-la power-pop number Used to Be the Sensitive Type. There’s also a satisfying, electric piano-flavored dis of a gold-digging woman, a garage rock number, and the pensive anthem These Are the Times, a feast of textures with the Rickenbacker adding gorgeously echoey accents above the roar. Finally, on the last song, there are some Beatles echoes, specifically, Lennon’s Imagine. Otherwise, this is great driving music, great loud party music and something that could easily take off internationally. Keep your eyes on Grand Atlantic whether you’re in the antipodes or somewhere north of there. Oz fans can see the band live next at 8 PM on August 29 at the Coolangatta Hotel on the southern end of the Gold Coast, corner of Warner Street & Marine Parade in Coolangatta, Qld.

August 17, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments