Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album of the Day 4/10/11

Every day, our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Sunday’s album is #660:

The Dream Syndicate – The Days of Wine and Roses

One of the most influential albums of all time, it’s hard to imagine much of indie rock – Yo La Tengo and innumerable noise-rock bands – or for that matter, much of dreampop and shoegaze, without this deliriously fun 1981 masterpiece. That the first full-length album that Steve Wynn would appear on would become so iconic, and would age so well, attests to his brilliance from day one. Here he builds the foundation for the cataclysmic guitar duelling, savagely direct, literate lyricism and potent tunesmithing that has defined his career, through his most recent success with the Baseball Project (despite going over to the dark side by rooting for the Evil Empire, Wynn remains one of the most articulate baseball writers on the planet). And for a noisy album, this one’s amazingly diverse: distorted janglerock with Tell Me When It’s Over; insanely catchy riff-rock with Definitely Clean and That’s What You Always Say; the blistering post-Velvets shuffle Then She Remembers; the gleefully allusive When You Smile; the vivid manic depression and insane crescendo of the title track; the creepy Until Lately; bassist Kendra Smith’s quietly deadpan, spot-on Too Little, Too Late, and lead guitarist Karl Precoda’s volcanic, macabre Halloween. Other songwriters have sold more albums; Wynn’s career, meticulously documented via youtube and archive.org, attests to his status as one of the best-loved rockers ever. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Here’s a random torrent.

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April 10, 2011 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Steve Wynn at Lakeside, NYC 2/19/10

When a band has as much fun onstage as Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3 had last night at Lakeside, it’s impossible not to get swept up in it. Over a career that spans parts of four decades (five if you count his early days in the late 70s),Wynn’s stock in trade has always been menace – that, and improvisation. These guys are the world’s tightest jam band. Wynn warned the crowd before they began that this wouldn’t be the usual set list – his birthday was coming up, and a milestone at that. But the show was anything but self-indulgent. The quartet spun a web of over a quarter century’s worth of riff-rock, psychedelia, Americana, a rare gem of a pop song and plenty of the growling, hallucinatory, overtone-laden post-Velvets stomp that established Wynn as one of the early titans of indie rock with his band the Dream Syndicate’s iconic 1981 debut album The Days of Wine and Roses. They closed the night with the title track, lead guitarist Jason Victor’s whirlwind of noise scattering pieces of alternate universes amidst the rhythm section’s 2/4 stampede.

Between that and the creepy foreshadowing of a another Dream Syndicate number, Some Kinda Itch, they careened through the bitter, wounded, gorgeously crescendoing Sustain, a hallucinatory, jangly version of the sinister Cindy It Was Always You (lyrics by George Pelecanos) and the epic sweep of No Tomorrow, morphing out of a hypnotic two-guitar charge into the striking contrast of its surprisingly upbeat retro-glamrock conclusion. Bass player Dave DeCastro (on a deliciously gritty-sounding shortscale Telecaster model) got to take a solo early on and made it a plaintive one; Linda Pitmon led a clinic in good fun, Keith Moon style, riffing off both the music and the lyrics and reaffirming her status as the best rock drummer around. Every other song, it seemed, Wynn would coerce Victor in from his forlorn stance by the window and the two would duel, Wynn’s jagged incisiveness versus his sparring partner’s wrathful, overtone-laden leave-me-alone roar.

Wynn’s ex-Green on Red buddy Dan Stuart materialized out of the crowd and led the band through an authentically gleeful version of Baby We All Gotta Go Down, from the legendary first Danny & Dusty record, way back in the 80s. The surprise of the night – there’s always one or two at every Wynn show – was Older, from Wynn’s cult classic Fluorescent cd, ominousness matched to catchy understatement. “Forgive me for living,” went the sarcastic refrain. He wrote that one about eighteen years ago. Predictably, Lakeside was packed, and conversations that would ordinarily be private suddenly were not. Some of the older faction groused about the crowded conditions: why doesn’t Wynn player bigger places? Answer: he does. Bowery Ballroom, for example, where he’s recently done gigs with both Danny & Dusty and his increasingly timely Baseball Project.

February 20, 2010 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Prima Ballerina at Lakeside, NYC 10/25/08

This was the debut show for Tammy Faye Starlite’s latest rock project, in this case a New York Dolls cover band. As a solo performer, the insurgent actress/comedienne plays a gut-bustingly funny born-again, washed-up, recently rehabbed country singer, in the process shooting daggers at all things rightwing and stupid (much like the Inbreeds, whose Friday night show we just reviewed). She also has three rock acts. In addition to this group, the Mike Hunt Band – her first one – is a Stones cover band (she plays Mick). The Stay-At-Homes are possibly the world’s only Runaways cover band (she’s Cherie Currie). While both groups actually make an effort to be musically competent, they basically serve as an excuse for Tammy to do improv. There is no one funnier, not even John Monteith.

 

Prima Ballerina – if you know the Dolls’ songs at all, you get the reference –  is the Stay-At-Homes playing Dolls songs. Tammy had names for everyone in the band: Sit N Spin frontwoman/guitarist Heidi Lieb was Heidi Thunders; rhythm player Jill Richmond was Jillvain Jillvain; drummer Linda Pitmon (from her husband Steve Wynn’s band, the Baseball Project and Smack Dab) was Nolinda; what Lieb’s bandmate, bassist Mony Falcone was evades the memory (although Tammy had plenty of vitriol for her and bass players in general). Another woman stood in for Todd Rundgren on keys on a few songs.

 

“I’m Tammy Jo,” Tammy said in her best Queens accent. “This swong’s really about about a stwop on the Ell Oy Aw Aw,” she told the crowd as the band launched into a decently careening version of Babylon. The recurrent joke of the night revolved around universal healthcare: that was the premise of Pills, Tammy explained. Jet Boy had to do with Barack Obama (big round of applause) hopefully “not getting killed before he comes out of the clouds.” Stranded in the Jungle, she revealed, was a cover of a Vietnam-era soul song by the 60s group the Jayhawks (“Not the alt-country band, you know, the guy who married Victoria Williams. THEY SUCK!!!”).

 

When they reached the bridge during Trash, Tammy accosted a bewildered guy sitting at one of the front tables: “When you’re hanging out in Chelsea, how you call your loverboy?” When it came time to wrap up the set, she explained that during her tenure in the Ridiculous Theatre Company, Charles Ludlam had been her mentor, and that he had been known to accuse people of having a personality crisis. Dedicating the song to the one John McCain’s been having, the band did a spirited, serviceable version of what was the closest thing the Dolls ever had to a top 40 hit. Memo to Ms. Rundgren: you ought to try that piano hook, it’s easy and it really makes the song. So, what a great weekend –  funny band, intense band, funny band. Prima Ballerina’s next show is at the Cutting Room sometime in November: watch this space for details.

October 27, 2008 Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment