Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Clare & the Reasons – Arrow

This is one of the albums left over from late last year when Lucid Culture had sort of fallen into disrepair. Running all over the country, we were putting up new content in fits and gasps and had to temporarily abandon our most popular feature, the NYC live music calendar. Meanwhile, the albums kept piling up. When we got back up to speed last month, most of those albums had lost currency and had to be left behind. But not this one.

Clare & the Reasons’ new album Arrow sounds an awful lot like Greta Gertler. Frontwoman Clare Muldaur Manchon – daughter of 70s Americana multistylist Geoff Muldaur –  has a similarly high, girlish vocal range – where Gertler goes completely off the wall and devious and funny, Manchon goes sultry with a Norah Jones nouvelle-Billie Holliday feel. It’s smart, artsy orchestrated pop with an alternately Beatlesque and retro soul edge, in the same vein as Gertler, the Secret History or Mattison. This is a dreamscape of sorts with a neat false ending.

It opens blithe, optimistic and McCartneyesque with just pizzicato strings and vocals, “No trouble is our trouble now…yeah it’s our time,” setting a nocturnal tone for the rest of the album. Then they do like Sir Paul again with electric piano over jangly acoustic guitar and a lead guitar track straight of the White Album. Our Team Is Grand is breathily seductive, somewhat hypnotic with lush strings and a big Beatles crescendo, soulful trombone accents, strings climbing furiously and descending just as fast.

There are two tracks here titled You Getting Me, the first with a synth loop that gives way to austere strings, the second a hypnotic trip-hop number that brings in the strings again, this time lush and triumphant. They follow that with a resoundingly funny, horn-driven tongue-in-cheek cover of the Phil Collins-era Genesis hit That’s All; another original where dreampop gives way to sassy Britrock; the big 6/8 ballad Kyoto Nights, introducing an element of disquiet; a swirling, swaying psychedelic pop number and the quirky, hypnotic Perdue a Paris. The best song on the album makes a striking change from everything that preceded it: Murder, They Want Murder is a richly suspenseful noir ballad set in the suspicious small town of “Ditmasville,” Manchon’s voice soaring over a hypnotic, repetitive staccato piano lick, strings fluttering up and down at the end as trumpet twitters over the eerie mantra “They will talk about you.” The album reverts to a dreamy vibe, closing with Wake Up, You Sleepyhead, its trip-hop beat, gently breathy vocals and playful lyrics like something that would be perfectly at home in the Kate Mattison songbook. There’s a lot to enjoy here, after dark for maximum effect. By the way, the band’s upstart label Frog Stand Records has an enticing special offer, three albums for $19 including this one, Clare & the Reasons’ debut The Movie plus their digital Live in Paris recording, click the link above for info.

February 2, 2010 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Maynard and the Musties – So Many Funerals

Nouveau outlaw country songwriter and Nashville expat Joe Maynard does double duty as a rare book dealer, hence the tongue-in-cheek band name. On this cd – his first with this particular crew – he comes across as sort of a hybrid of Townes Van Zandt, Tom Waits and David Allan Coe. Maynard built a reputation for gut-bustingly funny songs with his previous bands, the upbeat Illbillies and then the more traditionally oriented Millerite Redeemers. On this cd, he’s as surreal as always but considerably more somber, and the jokes are darker as well. Musically, it rocks pretty hard in places: Ryan Adams’ production is terse and imaginative on both the upbeat stuff and the quieter numbers. The album’s best song, Elvis Museum is a prime example, Adams’ piano quiet and determined over a swaying backbeat, and it’s a genuine classic. It’s quintessential Maynard: the museum in question turns out to be a pretty pathetic excuse for one, the King’s portrait between “a sinkful of dishes and a toilet stall,” but this offhandedly savage satire of celebrity worship still manages to be sympathetic. Likewise, the opening track, Pine Box, a body in a coffin taking a sarcastic view of the preacher and the pageantry outside. After a gentle, rustic beginning lit up with some vivid violin from Naa Koshie Mills (also of the Disclaimers, and the musical star of the album), lead guitarist Mo Botton rips out a nasty garage rock solo.

Maynard hails from Brooklyn these days and uses that milieu for several of the songs, including the surreal Cowboys of St. Bartholomew – about a gay street couple – and the deadpan, reverb-drenched Rocky and Bessie, an ominously bizarre tale of a couple of stray dogs in Fort Greene. He also sets the poem Shallow Water Warning – a drowning recalled by the victim – by legendary outsider poet Helen Adam to a swaying Tex-Mex-inflected tune. Otherwise, the titular redneck girl of the big bluesy raveup isn’t exactly what she seems, the drugs bid a fond farewell to the body they ravaged in the lullaby Dear Addict, and the rest of the world hides and surfs the web while the world burns – literally – on the Velvets-esque apocalypse anthem It’s Been a Great Life, Botton adding some aptly furious Sterling Morrison chord-chopping on the outro. The cd closes with a heartfelt tribute to Maynard’s lapsteel player and flatmate, the late, great Drew Glackin (also of Tandy, the Jack Grace Band, Silos and numerous other A-list Americana bands). The whole thing is a richly lyrical, fearlessly good time, darkness notwithstanding. The band is also impressively good live. Maynard and the Musties play Sidewalk on Dec 4 at 8 PM.

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

Concert Review: John-Severin & the Quiet 1s at Fontana’s, NYC 9/5/09

John-Severin’s guitar and voice are already a prevalent part of the Brooklyn What’s “… For Borough President” album [Lucid Culture’s pick for best album of 2009 so far], providing melodic yet wild lead guitar on songs like “She Gives Me Spasms” and “Summer Song” as well as his own “50 Days”, a dark, brooding rocker with a great, moody Cure-like vocal. In his own project John-Severin and the Quiet 1s he puts his vocal, guitar and songwriting skills all on the line, which makes for a very moving performance. Backed by the powerful Brooklyn What rhythm section of bassist Doug Carey and drummer Jesse Katz as well as second guitar and harmony vocal by Sairuh Lacoff, the Quiet 1s are an ensemble to be reckoned with.

Saturday night in the basement of Fontana’s, after two painful Jack Johnson/Jason Mraz wannabe singer/songwriter groups, the Quiet 1s hit the stage like a bolt of lightning, bringing much needed energy to the room. They opened with the seriously catchy rocker “Prince St.” the first track off their recent “Get Quiet” ep. The next song “Sucked In” was another piece of propulsive power-pop, recalling Green Day, Weezer and the glory days of 90’s alt-rock. Lacoff provides a great vocal foil for John-Severin, who already has a quite pretty voice for a man – their harmonies together are spot on, and they get the maximum effect out of a doubled vocal line.

“Never Love Nobody Else” is a newer, vicious tune which sort of sounds like the White Stripes covering “She’s Not There,”  in which the band let loose its more aggressive side, John-Severin wailing with his new Big Muff pedal and sounding a bit like J. Mascis. Another more kick-ass number, “Hold Your Tongue” is a more Chuck Berry/punk rock influenced track, featuring a great call-and response-vocal between John and the band. The duets, the original “I’ll Be Around” and their cover of “My Girl” had Sairuh stepping out and showing her vocal prowess, the usually raucous rhythm section laying back like Motown pros. Another soul-influenced song, “Just Want A Girl Who Wants To Dance With Me” was a killer, sounding like a “My Aim Is True” outtake with an infectious vamped chorus and a drum solo by the wily Jesse Katz. A unexpected and fun cover of the Misfits’ “When Eagles Dare” closed the show, evoking the Bratmobile version more than the butch original, in which John Severin proclaimed that he ain’t no goddamn son-of-a-bitch. The “Get Quiet” EP and John’s first solo EP “Look, the Lows” are available now on Pozar Records, be sure to check it out for a rare example of contemporary indie rock/power-pop that can kick your ass and tug at your heartstrings at the same time.

September 9, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: The Disclaimers at Spikehill, Brooklyn NY 5/29/09

Sign of the times or what: even with the implosion of the major labels, with most of the indie labels a step behind them, it’s hard to believe that a band like the Disclaimers, with not one but two telegenic, charismatic frontwomen and as many great songs as they have, would not be famous. Friday night they ran through a characteristically tuneful, varied set of jangly rock and sultry soul, emphasis on the latter. Unveiling at least three new songs (they sometimes rearrange some of their older tunes), violinist/trombonist Naa Koshie Mills traded off her signature breathy yet nuanced vocals with Kate Thomason’s full-throttle wail. As usual, one of the set’s high points was a snarling, snide version of the propulsive janglerock anthem Tiptoe (an unreleased gem that ranked high on our Top 100 Songs of 2008 list), Dylan Keeler and Dan Sullivan’s guitars slamming their way through with casual, even offhand intensity. Thomason brought down the house as usual with that big summertime soul ballad she always does (it’s unreleased, and this band doesn’t often announce song titles). Mills also took a particularly gripping star turn on a slinky new one, and a duet with drummer Phil McDonald who in his own casual way is as good a singer as anyone else in this band. And you could tell because the sound mix, like it always is at this place, was so pristine. Watch this space for upcoming NYC shows.

June 2, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Love Camp 7 – Union Garage

A strong follow-up to Love Camp 7’s classic 2007 cd Sometimes Always Never, this is aguably their most melodic and straightforward album – a direction from which the band once seemed completely alienated. That was a long time ago. Here the rhythms are as close to four on the floor as Dave Campbell – the closest thing to Elvin Jones that rock has ever seen – has ever done in this unit (he also lends his tropical, soulful beats to Erica Smith & the 99 Cent Dreams). Bassist Bruce Hathaway (also a noted contemporary classical and film composer) is his typical tuneful, melodic self, and it looks as if Steve Antonakos AKA Homeboy Steve, lead guitarist in a million other excellent projects has become a full-fledged member of the band. Frontman/guitarist Dann Baker (also of Erica Smith’s band) plays with characteristic wit and incisiveness, alternating between innumerable tasty shades of jangle and clang. Most of the songs here – including a mini-suite with a Civil War theme – are imbued with historical references in the same vein as the band’s previous cd.

The album opens with a 20-year old song, the Killers, slightly off-kilter film noir-inspired janglerock wherein the victim forgives his murderers since they’re just doing a day’s work.  Crazy Bet Van Law kicks off  the Civil War section, the tongue-in-cheek tale of an unlikely Union spy, its bridge morphing into a tidy little march. Crazy Bet’s funeral scene is the pretty, sad, harmony-driven Nobody Here but Us African-Americans – it seems she only wanted ex-slaves and servants there. Letting the Brass Band Speak For You is Beatlesque with a slightly Penny Lane feel, a snidely metaphorical slap at conformity and its consequences.

No Negro Shall Smoke is serpentine in the vein of the band’s earlier work, an actual segregationist proclamation from Richmond, Virginia set to herky-jerky, XTC-ish inflections.  The way the band just jumps on the word “smoke” and repeats it over and over again rivals the “stone, stone, stone” on Pigs by Pink Floyd. The version of the slightly Arthur Lee-ish Start from Nothing that Baker and Campbell recorded on Erica Smith’s most recent album beats the one here. Arguably the best song here is (Beware of the) Angry Driver (Yeah), a spot-on, deliciously jangly chronicle of road rage, one sadistic city bus driver after another careening through the narrow Brooklyn streets in Williamsburg and Greepoint.

Another highlight is Johnny’s Got a Little Bag of Tricks, a frankly hilarious send-up of masturbatory guitarists everywhere: “He plays a hundred notes where one would do/And if it fits the song that’s ok too.”

Antonakos, who can satirize pretty much anything, gets a couple of bars to show off the kind of chops he never shows off anywhere else (well, maybe in Van Hayride). Bobbing and weaving, Lady Ottoline Morrell is a vividly clanging tribute to a Bloomsbury-era patron of the arts. You’ll see this cd on our Best Albums of 2009 list in December. Love Camp 7 play Southpaw on May 20 at around 8:30.

May 19, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Beefstock Recipes

Every few years, somebody tries to put out an anthology that captures a time and place in New York rock history. Too bad it never seems to work. The two Live at CBGB albums (which now sell for hundreds of dollars apiece) were perfect examples, forgettable songs by forgotten bands whose only claim to fame was playing a club that pretty much everybody else was playing too. While a definitive anthology of the best current New York bands would require a hefty, unwieldy box set, we finally have a collection, the improbably titled Beefstock Recipes, which succeeds brilliantly at capturing some of the most original and exciting New York bands of the here-and-now. All the artists represented on the cd have played the annual upstate Beefstock music festival at one time or another, many on multiple occasions. Originally conceived as a one-off memorial concert for bassist Darren Bohan, who was murdered when the Twin Towers were detonated on 9/11, the first show (put together by Brooklyn jam band Plastic Beef, hence the name), was so successful that they did another one the next year, and the next, and…voila. Beefstock Nine is scheduled for sometime in early spring 2010.

 

In the Beefstock tradition, the album is divided into two cds, titled Afternoon and Evening – typically, the quieter, acoustic acts and singer-songwriters play the festival during daylight hours, followed by the rock bands at night. It opens on an auspicious note with Brooklyn Is (So Big), Americana songwriter Rebecca Turner’s lilting tribute to the borough that spawned most of the bands here: “Brooklyn is so big, because it has to hold a lot of beautiful songs.” There’s a rare version of the Erica Smith classic The World Is Full of Pretty Girls with the chanteuse backed by Plastic Beef, doing it as straight-up country by comparison to the lush American Beauty-style take on her Snowblind album. Spindale contribute a catchy, fun dreampop number, followed by a rare, bizarre eco-anthem set to the tune of an old Lutheran hymn by 60s cult artist Brute Force.

 

Kirsten Williams, a rare American songwriter who’s equally capable of writing and singing in French, contributes the vividly wary, characteristically terse Arsenal. The most current of the cuts here, Paranoid Larry’s Stimulate THIS is an amusingly spot-on interpretation of Obama’s stimulus package: “They’re sitting in their castles while we’re rotting in debtors’ prison.” There’s also You-Shaped Hole in the Universe, Livia Hoffman’s haunting tribute to Bohan, her bandmate and close friend, and the aptly environmentalist Sunset by solar-powered band Solar Punch, winding up the first cd with some richly melodic work by bassist Andy Mattina.

 

But it’s disc two where things really heat up. The John Sharples Band’s ecstatic anthem Brooklyn sets it up for the Gun Club/Cramps-style noir garage intensity of Tom Warnick & World’s Fair’s Skull and Crossbones. Black Death’s Abandoned Cemetery is a rousing death-metal spoof; Liza & the WonderWheels’ Where’s My Robot Maid continues in a similar tongue-in-cheek vein, frontwoman Liza Garelik wondering in lush, rich tones about when her household deus ex machina is going to arrive. Skelter’s Dawn Marie is one of the most deliciously vengeful kiss-off anthems ever written, a mighty smack upside the memory of a treacherous girl who sprinkles her Apple Jacks with cocaine (?!?!?) and screws around. Road to Hell is a characteristically metaphorical, amusing number from jangerock siren Paula Carino, followed by Cell Phone or Schizo, a song that needed to be written and it’s a good thing that it’s new wave revivalists the Larch who’re responsible. The best cut on the entire album is the sadly defunct Secrets‘ obscure classic How to Be Good, a gorgeous, darkly downcast, jangly anthem set in a shadowy milieu that could only be New York. There’s also a smoldering powerpop gem by the Actual Facts and Love Camp 7’s Start from Nothing (a song covered better by its writer, playing on Erica Smith’s Snowblind). 

 

Both cds tail off about three-quarters of the way through, but Evening ends on an inspiring note with the “Tom Tom Warnick Club” i.e. a Tom Warnick & World’s Fair tribute band with vocal cameos from Paula Carino and others here doing a rousing take on one of his more straightforward songs, the soul-fueled My Troubles All Fall Apart. The official cd release show is June 13 at Freddy’s featuring Plastic Beef along with Warnick, Sharples, Liza Garelik and Ian Roure of the WonderWheels and the Larch and Baby Daddy. In the meantime, information on how to obtain one of these beautiful rarities can be found here.

April 22, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CD Review: The Actual Facts – Pain/Pleasure

Let’s see…weren’t these guys on one of those Live from the Roxy compilations, 1977-ish? Loud punk/pop band with a lot of catchy tunes? Well, sort of. The Actual Facts are actually from Brooklyn, and the guys in the band probably weren’t even born yet when all those British bands they resemble were getting their fifteen minutes on the Top of the Pops. On their new cd, these British expats crank up the guitars and crank out the tunes with an energy that harks back to a decade when songs like this could actually score a record deal and get some airplay (that’s a compliment). The album opens with the sarcastic, propulsive Chaise Lounge, which pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the cd, frontman Tim Simmonds cutting loose with a yelp equal parts Morrissey at his most boisterous and eerie John Lydon, circa PiL’s Metal Box, 1978.The album’s second track, the title cut, works around a ridiculously catchy, four-note guitar hook, somewhat evocative of another first-class expatriate British band from Brooklyn, the Larch.

The best song on the cd is Cookie, a blazing, somewhat Stiff Little Fingers-inflected rocker, building to a fiery outro with ba-ba-ba vocals, adding layers and layers of guitar until the maelstrom is too saturated to add any more. And then the song ends with a few chords slammed out on an acoustic. After that, the brief Don’t Shave Down There is pretty much what you would expect, a tribute to the nether regions: “Do it for you, do it for humanity.” The sexual tension builds further on the next track, Come on Over: “Come on over, drunk or sober.” A Hand to Hold, the cd’s final cut, builds slowly over a fast upstroke/downstroke rhythm, the drums only coming in on the second verse, ending on the sardonic note on which it began: “Taking a seat in the back/Covering up my tracks/Always seemed the right way to go.”

These songs grow on you; the album gets better with repeated listening. If they can duplicate the energy on the cd, they should be excellent live. The Actual Facts play the cd release for the album at the Delancey on April 25 at 11, on a great bill with Paula Carino and Basement opening at around 8.

April 16, 2008 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Tom Warnick & World’s Fair/The Saudi Agenda/Plastic Beef/John Sharples Band at Hank’s, Brooklyn NY 8/31/07

It was Freddy’s Bar night at Hank’s, in other words, a bunch of bands that usually play Freddy’s booked themselves into another neighborhood venue for the evening. This was particularly appropriate since both places are doomed: the scam developers of the Atlantic Yards luxury housing complex are poised to demolish the building that houses Freddy’s, and Hank’s owner has put the place on the block as a “development site.”

Tonight’s lesson was trust your friends. Living in New York, you run into the great minds of your generation. Like everyone else here, I count among my peeps some of the greatest rockers of our time. One of them was recently insisting that I go see Tom Warnick someday soon. Yeah, I told her, I know him. Good writer, dynamic performer, excellent guitarist on the eerie retro reverb tip, sort of Tav Falco without the glam. Throws confetti at the audience. Yeah, he’s worth seeing.

Uh-huh. This guy has made the jump from being someone who reliably puts on a good show to someone you absolutely have to see, now. He’s always written pretty funny, stream-of-consciousness lyrics, but the new stuff – and there is a lot of it – is funnier than ever. Tonight’s best song was an exasperated tale of getting a Monday night, midnight gig from a club manager who expected the band to bring at least 40 people. Warnick still does the googly-eyed lookit-me-I’m-insaaaane look, but there’s a newfound subtlety to it: it looks like he’s having more fun messing with the audience than he ever has. And mess with them he does, with false starts, false endings and just clever lyrical interpretations. At the end of the show, he got the crowd to boo his encore and of course they followed his order, and the joke was on them because it was a good song. And this is a guy who’s survived not one but two brushes with death recently. Since the muscles in his fret hand aren’t all the way back yet, he’s taken up playing keyboards and his melodies are as subtly ominous as always. The backing band feeds off his energy: lead guitarist Ross Bonnadonna played the show of his life, all eerie chromatics and firestorms of blues. Warnick was obviously the evening’s big attraction. By the time his set was over, half of the audience was gone, the area by the front of the stage predictably littered with confetti.

The Saudi Agenda were next, just vocals, drums and former Paula Carino guitarist David Benjoya playing politically charged ska-punk. Their best number was a diatribe about how everyone in the Bush regime, current and former operatives alike, is a piece of shit. The energy was good, they’re right on politically and Benjoya’s guitar didn’t immediately go out of tune the way it usually does. They closed their brief set with a number about how the singer would kill for a falafel. I know what you mean, bro, nothing beats deep-fried, tahini-soaked chickpeas falling out of a torn pita pocket and staining your trousers.

Plastic Beef were next. They’re a jam band who play mostly covers, a rotating cast of Freddy’s characters backed by arguably the most imaginative rhythm section in town. Drummer Joe Filosa and bassist Andy Mattina are sort of the New York version of what Sly and Robbie used to be, the rare bass/drums combo with an instantly recognizable, signature groove and a lot of work: lately they’ve been playing with Liza & the WonderWheels, Paula Carino and others. They’ve also been doing the free live band karaoke thing on Sunday nights at Kenny’s Castaways, which by all accounts is actually quite fun. Tonight they jammed with sort of a Grateful Dead feel, then did a disco number about old East Village clubs, as well as a couple of covers. They closed with an energetic take on the Echo & the Bunnymen goth standard The Killing Moon and arguably did it better than the original. Sensing that the rest of the band weren’t going to do the silly scale solo that the lead guitar plays at the tail end of the recorded version, the keyboardist – who was obviously unrehearsed and pretty clueless up to this point – decided to take it and pretty much nailed it, note for note with the record.

The John Sharples Band closed the night, surmounting some serious technical difficulties to play an inspired set of obscure covers. They opened with When Amy Says by Blow This Nightclub, building to a terrific crescendo before the first verse kicked in (that’s the Plastic Beef rhythm section for you: like a lot of players tonight, they were doing double duty). They’ve recently added Erica Smith on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, and her haunting harmonies took many of the songs to the next level, including a swinging, countrified version of her janglerock song Secrets. They closed with the Beatles’ I’ve Got a Feeling done as an oldschool soul number, and Smith brought the house down: she plays mostly rock, but she’s a soul/jazz cat at heart and she belted this one out of the bar, over the YWCA building across the street and probably over the Gowanus Canal. A walk-off home run to end a physically exhausting but ultimately rewarding evening.

September 1, 2007 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

CD Review: Champagne Francis – I Start to Daydream

Champagne Francis’ debut full-length cd came out last year and it’s stood the test of time: in fact, it’s one of the best albums of the decade, a gorgeous blend of catchy, jangly guitar, bass and drums. There’s literally not a bad song on this record. It’s ostensibly indie rock, but guitarist/frontman Brian Silverman’s playing is light-years ahead of most of his contemporaries. Armed with an ironclad sense of melody and a total inability to waste a single note, the songs here are finely crafted gems that will rattle around your mind when you least expect them. Imagine Guided by Voices at their most melodic, or the Lemonheads if they’d paid attention in college and actually learned something instead of posing for paparazzi.

The album opens auspiciously with Old Vampires, its supremely memorable break bursting out of the verse. The next track Waterskis is killer, with its inscrutable lyric about somebody who “can’t get out of the water.” This is the only song here where Silverman shows off his phenomenally fast guitar chops, and the result is a hilarious parody of a Steve Vai-style shredding solo.

Done So Secretly follows, with its percussive, fast 8th note new wave-ish bassline: Silverman adds a layer of distorted guitar after the second chorus. The title track continues in the same vein, building to another great chorus. The best cut on the cd is Burned to the Ground. Silverman’s deviously opaque lyrics are effective both in setting a mood and leaving you guessing and this is a prime example, told from the point of view of somebody watching the remains of a party from across the street:

Pissing in the bushes, passed out on the lawn
Cops showed up and busted anyone they could see
Burned to the ground, drunk and hanging round
Turned into stone, end of the day

There are layers and layers of textured overdubs on the break rather than an actual guitar solo: it’s one of the most memorable, hooky melodies of recent years.

Of the other tracks, Prize is more indie rock than anything else on the album, with lots of open chords which are usually the curse of the genre. But the vocal melody carries it here – and is that the solo from Two Tickets to Paradise?!? Photos of You picks up the pace with its sweet bent note intro. Once Only is fast and growly with insistent drums like early Versus. High Comedy is the loudest tune here, layers of distorted Fender guitars, wickedly catchy verse crescendoing into a chorus that’s just as good. Walter doesn’t get going til the chorus but then it’s brilliant, like the great lost pop song by the Church. Our Parents Had Money is a gently scathing tale of trendoids and the soft fate that awaits them:

Shopped in used clothes stores, favorite one’s the Salvation Army
We were the best dressed kids on our block down on Bedford St.[sic]
Everyone got this cause our parents had money

After they get sick of Williamsburg, they take their lame act out to the suburbs. This has to be one of the funniest and most apt New York songs in recent memory.

The rhythm section of Connie on bass and backing vocals and Nigel Rawles (of Scout and Rawles Balls fame) on drums is supertight and rolls this thing along like a motorcycle weaving effortlessly between rows of cars stalled on the interstate at rush hour. Silverman is a pro who teaches guitar and gets paid for playing, i.e. musicals and such, so this project has been pretty much on hiatus for awhile: we’ll keep you posted on any live shows, which are predictably terrific.

July 18, 2007 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Custard Wally – Estrogennia Dementia

In many respects Custard Wally’s latest cd is the perfect album to put on in the background if you’re having a party. The music is pleasantly melodic, generally upbeat and sometimes quite pretty. Most of it is pop/rock, with a few punk numbers. You can play this for just about any crowd and not worry about it. Until somebody turns the volume up to the point where the lyrics are audible.

They’re filthy.

Some sample song titles: How I’d Luv to Touch It!, All the Sex in the World I’ve Ever Wanted, and Prematurely Whorely. The prettiest song on the album is about how a woman should wipe after urinating (Front to Back, as it explains in detail). Reeeeeeeeeeal highbrow stuff. The music is straight-up rock but the esthetic – if the word “esthetic” can be used in the same sentence as “Custard Wally,” which is something of a stretch – is pure gangsta rap. This band is obsessed with sex, crude, sexist…and funny as hell. Not exactly politically correct, but something to keep on the shelf with your Tammy Faye Starlite, NWA and the Ween country album. You can break this out late at night after everybody’s overindulged and as long as your friends have a sense of humor, you’re pretty much guaranteed a few laughs.

The jokes aren’t limited to sex, either: the solo on Front to Back is lifted straight out of Redemption Song by Bob Marley, and there’s a hilarious anti-trendoid diatribe called Pretty Little Ponytail Boy. If you’re, say, 12, or have the mind of a 12-year-old, get this cd: it should be huge on college radio. Good album: it achieves what the band set out to do, which is make you laugh. Four pairs of edible underwear.

July 6, 2007 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments