Lucid Culture


CD Review: Christabel and the Jons – Custom Made for You

This album has a warm, summery feel – a New Yorker would call this Pete’s Candy Store music (after the popular Brooklyn bar). Knoxville oldtimey band Christabel and the Jons‘ new cd alternates between upbeat country shuffles, torchy, sophisticated, retro jazzy pop and occasional indie-folk with a playful yet terse backdrop of understated guitar lit up in places with accordion, trumpet and violin, propelled by a briskly tasteful rhythm section. Frontwoman Christa DeCicco has something of the Norah Jones jazz/pop style that’s been all the rage this decade but her voice is distinctively hers, and refreshingly casual: she can say an awful lot with just a little. There are distant echoes of Billie Holiday, but the smoke disappears when DeCicco sets her sights on something she wants and then she’s all business. Many of these songs have a seductiveness that’s completely off the charts.

The album kicks off with a jaunty yet resigned post-breakup number, its narrator sitting with a pillow between her knees, not particularly relishing being newly single. The tempo picks up even faster with the title track, a cajolement that turns downright sultry as the lights go down with the slinky seduction anthem Closer to You. “Give me a room full of men like you and I’ll get closer to you,” DeCicco adds with a knowing wink. Lady Gag, eat your heart out: this might be the sexiest song of the year. Nothing Is Wrong is a cheery, optimistic tune, looking forward to days at the beach after a long winter. A litttle later, they shuffle through the lonesome band-on-the-road song Last Night’s Dress with a nice smoky trumpet solo.

More Than Friends is a blissful cheating song set to a fast country dance tune – “There’s heat coming off you like a kerosene lamp,” DeCicco reminds, envisioning the guy’s car in the bar’s deserted parking lot after closing time. It’s followed by Back to Tennessee, a joyously swinging oldtimey blues tune with the band on devious deadpan backing vocals. The album’s secret track is a clever number with a Boswell Sisters feel updated for the end of the zeros (and the teens – we’re practically there). The whole thing is great fun and promises equally good things down the road. Awfully nice to see a group working in an oldtimey milieu yet with a sound all their own. Christabel and the Jons play the Jalopy on Oct 1 at 9 PM. The band’s other tourdates are below:

9/18: Canyons of the Blue Ridge, Blowing Rock, NC

9/20: KXL Swing Dance, Dance Dimensions, Knoxville, TN, 8 pm

9/23: O’Mainnin’s Pub, Bristol, TN, 10 pm

9/24: Purple Fiddle, Thomas, WV,  8 pm

9/25: Victorians Midnight Cafe, Columbus, OH, 8 pm

9/26: Howler’s Coyote Cafe, 8 pm

9/27: Bullfrog Brewery, Williamsport, PA, 9 pm

10/1: Jalopy Theater, Brooklyn, NY, 9 pm

10/2: Club Passim, Cambridge, MA, 9 pm

10/3: Salt Hill Pub, Lebanon, NH


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

Top Ten Songs of the Week 8/31/09

We do this every Tuesday (usually – remember a couple of weeks ago?). You’ll see this week’s #1 song on our Best 100 songs of 2009 list at the end of December, along with maybe some of the rest of these too. This is strictly for fun – it’s Lucid Culture’s tribute to Kasey Kasem and a way to spread the word about some of the great music out there that’s too edgy for the corporate media and their imitators in the blogosphere. Pretty much every link here will take you to each individual song.

1. The Oxygen Ponies – Villains

Quiet yet venomous rock anthem dating from the waning days of the Bush regime. From their amazing new cd Harmony Handgrenade.

2. Christabel & the Jons – Florida

Dark, quirky, fun oldtimey swing tune in the Jolie Holland mode. They’re at the Jalopy Theatre on 10/1.

3. Taxi Amarillo – Donde Has Estando

Jangly rock en Espanol anthem. They’re at BB King’s on 9/7

4. Kofre – El Muerto

Ska en Espanol. Also at BB King’s on 9/7.

5. The Scratches – I Take the Shape of My Container

BOAC style pop – funny.

6. Mark Sinnis – That’s Why I Won’t Love You

Quietly snarling, gospel-flavored kissoff anthem recorded live at Pete’s. From his forthcoming 2010 cd.

7. Ninth House – Jealousy

Speaking of which…this is the album version with Randi Russo on harmonies. This is a psychedelic live version.

8. Kerry Kennedy – Golden Calves

Beautiful as-yet unreleased atmospherics from the NYC southwestern gothic chanteuse. She’s at Small Beast at the Delancey on 9/14.

9. Telephone – In Paris

A funny anti-tourist rant, in English, by the iconic punk-era French rockers. “In Paris we piss in the street.”

10. Smoothe Moose – War Pigs (remix)

Woozy electronicized cover, you can’t help but smile. Various members of the Tortoise-esque collective play the release show for their latest mixtape at Public Assembly on 9/3 at 9.

September 1, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment