Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album of the Day 10/15/10

Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Friday’s album is #837:

Everything But the Girl – Baby the Stars Shine Bright Tonight

Tracy Thorn and Ben Watt were stars in the UK ten years before the bastardized disco remix of Missing topped the US pop charts in 1994. Their torchy, jazzy 1983 debut was a big hit across the pond: this is their third album, from 1986, a lush, lavishly orchestrated collection of retro ballads, a perfect vehicle for Thorn’s anxious, wounded alto voice. She’s all longing and anticipation on the big 6/8 opening cut Come On Home, the irrepressibly swinging Don’t Leave Me Behind and the ethereal A Country Mile. Don’t Let the Teardrops Rust Your Shining Heart is a pretty successful stab at countrypolitan, as is Come Hell or High Water. Careless and Sugar Finney revert to a soaring, majestic jazz-pop vibe. The knockout punch here is Little Hitler, an understatedly towering 6/8 anthem written by Thorn: “Little Hitlers grow up to be big Hitlers,” she warns over the swell of the strings: “Every woman loves a fascist.” Part of that observation is sarcastic but part is not. If you like this one, their first two albums along with the mostly acoustic Amplified Heart and the charming acoustic ep (look for the red heart on a blue background) are also highly recommended; on the other hand, their explorations of trip-hop and proto-Portishead electronic pop are tepid and boring. Here’s a random torrent.

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October 15, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: The Bedsit Poets – Rendezvous

Not what you might expect. The Bedsit Poets’ 2006 debut The Summer That Changed was a gorgeously summery collection of soaring, harmony-driven, Britfolk-flavored anthems and mellower pop numbers. By contrast, this is their autumn album, pensive, jazzier and more stylistically diverse. The charming harmonies of Amanda Thorpe and Edward Rogers (both of whom have released excellent solo cds this year) are still there, as are the virtuosic, thoughtful guitar of Mac Randall, and Nancy Polstein’s tasteful drums and percussion work. But this time the band looks outside Rogers’ and Thorpe’s native England for influences ranging from 60s French ye-ye pop to Norah Jones.

 

Standouts from among the cd’s fourteen tracks include a couple of deliciously melodic, classic Carnaby St. style 60s Britpop numbers: the rueful, revealing The Highs Can’t Beat the Lows, and NoTel Rendezvous, which picks up the pace as Thorpe and Rogers trade off jazzily on vocals. Daze for Love sets their harmonies sailing over a slinky bossa beat. The single best track on the cd is Hardened Ground, a stoic, atmospheric 6/8 lament featuring a beautifully restrained Thorpe vocal and lyric that could be about the destruction of New York by luxury condo developers, or could mean something else entirely: “What do you get by taking away/Building glass houses with nothing to say.” There’s also Top Shop, imaginatively blending bossa nova with Byrdsy twelve-string janglerock; the tersely melancholy New Year; and the blithely tongue-in-cheek Winson Green, a dead ringer for a vintage, comedic 60s hit by the Move or the Kinks, recounting the tale of a prisoner finally set free who decides that the outside world is a bit too threatening and that ultimately he’d prefer to remain behind bars. Fans of the first album are in for a bit of a surprise, but the elements that made it such a smashing success are still in place, voices and guitars ringing every bit as true as they did the first time around. The Bedsit Poets play the cd release show for this one on Tues Oct 21 at the Cutting Room. Rogers’ longtime collaborator George Usher opens the night with a solo set at 7:30 PM, and the Bedsit Poets’ labelmate Dave Rave follows with a set of his own at 9:30.

October 9, 2008 Posted by | Music, Reviews | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment