Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: 900X – Music For Lubbock, 1980

If you can get past the absurdity that laid-back, dub-inspired synthesizer instrumentals might have the faintest relevance to Lubbock, Texas, whether in 1980, before or afterward, this album of playful chillout soundscapes might make you smile. The obvious question is why the party/parties responsible for these nebulous, sometimes western-themed tunes didn’t pull a band together to play them. They’d sound good with tremolo guitar, accordion, and pedal steel maybe, and of course a real rhythm section. But you know how much more it costs to record a real band, especially with the drums. And obviously that’s not the point of all this –  its quirkiness would be lost along with the occasional LOL little tweak that hits you just to see if you’re paying attention. At first listen, this could be some trendoid thinking that a bunch of loops and basic programmed beats could be a substitute for the real thing – Friends of Dean Martinez it’s not – but a closer listen reveals it as more likely the result of several wee-hours bedroom sessions with a little herb, a laptop and a sense of melody matched by a sense of humor. Obviously, this was made for an indie audience, i.e.  the Black Moth Super Rainbow crowd, but could also extend to a more diverse, less rigid listener base.

A couple of tracks set blippy little Casio tunes over moody, swooping organ. A couple others introduce a dub feel, one with an actually effective, trippy electronic drum breakdown, the other, the aptly titled Sunscape doing it with an echoey electric piano loop. The cinematic Everything Feels Temporary works its way up from blue-sky southwest to a soul vamp with oh-oh vocals, funky guitar and bass patches. The next track layers an amusingly awful, cheesy 80s fake brass sound over atmospheric string synth. The closest thing to rock here is the utterly psychedelic 101805 with its various layers peeking around the corners of the mix. Pass out to this with your headphones on. It’s out now on Asthmatic Kitty.

September 14, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Insound Digital Mixtape July 2009

Quick, how many New Order wannabes can you name? This mixtape seeems to have all of ’em, many of them featured at this year’s Seaport Music Festival. If the original wasn’t enough for you, here are the sons and daughters of Bernard, Gillian and Steve (Peter deserves better than most of this because he’s a good musician whose personal taste in music runs far afield of this catchy but mostly derivative stuff). Let’s see what we have here:

 

Black Moth Super Rainbow – Tooth Decay. Vocoder vox, hypnotic 80s synth, New Order meets Midnight Starr – catchy and simple. They’re playing South St. Seaport on 7/24.

Blank Dogs – Waiting (mix 2). Uptight, untight drums, early New Order i.e. circa Movement, when they were a guitar band but with a late 80s shoegaze edge. Could be better, but it has some promise.

Casiokids – Verdens Storste Land demo. Closer to the synthy stuff New Order were doing on Brotherhood and afterward

Dan Friel – Ghost Town Pt. 1. New Order as played on a dollar-store imitation Casio through the bottom-of-the-line Guitar Center brand amp

Here We Go Magic – Fangela. Less New Order than 60s psychedelic pop done demo-style with a drum machine and barely demo-quality vocals. A good guitar band like the Motion Sick could have a field day with this.

Obits – Two-Headed Coin. Catchy 60s bass riff, reverb-drenched 60s garage guitar, kinda noir. Best track on the cd so far. Hmmm…ought to check this band out sometime. They’re at South St. Seaport on 7/31 opening for Polvo, supposedly sometime around 7.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Come Saturday. Total Teenage Fanclub ripoff, i.e. middle-period Jesus & Mary Chain without any balls. The first real dud here. How come of all these bands so far, only the Obits have ever heard of a minor key?

Polvo – Beggar’s Bowl. Now this kicks ass! Hypnotic swirling intro, evil growling leads, a stomping rhythm section and then some eerie slightly Middle Eastern flourishes. And how about that flameout at the end, damn! Were these guys the best guitar band of the 90s or what? Sounds nothing like New Order either. They’re at South St. Seaport on 7/31.

Ribbons – Inclusion. OK, back to the New Order wannabes, at least this has some passion and some percussive guitars. New Order play Television maybe.

School of Seven Bells – Face to Face on High Places. Arty, kinda 4AD, ornate synth giving way to trebly, minimal Bernard-style guitar, then the synth comes back. So unoriginal. At least they’re not ripping off Pearl Jam.

Slow Club – It Doesn’t Have to Be Beautiful. Rich white kids with a drum machine taking a pitiful stab at bluegrass. Barf.

Superchunk – Misfits and Mistakes. Yawn, booooring. Strictly for 35-and-overs who miss hearing this garbage at college parties in the 90s.

Versus – Eskimo. Not their best song (Fontaine wrote most of their real good ones) – this is just a simple poppy riff over and over again until suddenly the eeriness kicks in. But then it’s gone. Fast forward…

The Wave Pictures – Just Like a Drummer. Oh jeeeezus…a 30-year-old guy singing like he’s 13. And he uses the word “hipster” in a way that might not be a slur. Puke. Next…

Zaza – Sooner or Later. OK, back to the New Order…or maybe Clan of Xymox. This is nice – swoopy, minor-key synth, incisive electric piano and now a little rhythm guitar.      

 

So here’s what you get for free (download it here for the next week): three solid hits, a bunch of ok-to-good stuff and only three real duds. Plus you can dance to most of this. Burn the best of this for your kid sister to help wean her off the Jonas Bros.

July 9, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment