Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album of the Day 4/22/11

Every day, our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Friday’s album is #648:

The Gun Club – The Las Vegas Story

The late Jeffrey Lee Pierce’s fondness for the blues, garage rock and doomed sensibility meshed best on this impressively eclectic 1984 album. It’s hard to imagine much of the 90s glam/punk resurgence, from Jon Spencer to the Chrome Cranks – or for that matter, Nick Cave – without this. Abetted by the Cramps’ Kid Congo Powers, they scurry through the ominous Walking with the Beast and get eerie and hypnotic with The Stranger In Our Town. The Blasters’ Dave Alvin contributes a searing solo on the wickedly catchy Eternally Is Here. Side 2 begins with a murky solo piano miniature followed by a plaintive, torchy version of Gershwin’s My Man’s Gone Now, followed by the stomping Bad America, Moonlight Motel (a throwback to the swampy garage punk of the band’s first two albums) and the big anthem Give Up the Sun. The only miss here is a Blondie ripoff so blatant it’s funny. True to the doom and gloom of his lyrics, Pierce drank and drugged himself to death in 1996 at 37. Here’s a random torrent courtesy of c60lownoise.

Advertisements

April 22, 2011 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Album of the Day 9/15/10

Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Wednesday’s album is #867:

The Chrome Cranks – Live in Exile

The Chrome Cranks were New York’s best band for most of the 1990s before imploding late in the decade. Combining the assaultive, combative riff-driven charisma of the Stooges with the paint-peeling, feedback-riddled, blues-warped guitar of frontman Peter Aaron and lead player William G. Weber and propelled by the potent rhythm section of former Honeymoon Killer Jerry Teel on bass and ex-Sonic Youth drummer Bob Bert, their studio albums blew away the rest of the Lower East Side glampunk crowd but never quite captured the raw unhinged menace of their live shows. But this does. Recorded at the end of 1996 in Holland at the end of a European tour, the band are at the peak of their power. Much as most of their songs are about facing down the end with a sneer, a smirk, a snort or something, this one really has the air of desperation: they knew this wouldn’t last, but they wanted to capture it for those who came after. They open the show with their gleefully ugly signature cover, See That My Grave Is Kept Clean and after that, the song titles pretty much say it all. Lost Time Blues; Wrong Number; Dead Man’s Suit; We’re Going Down. Their practically nine-minute version of Pusherman surpasses even the Live Skull version for out-of-focus, fatalistic fury; the last of the encores is the self-explanatory Burn Baby Burn. Reinvigorated and apparently free of the demons that plagued them the first time around, the Cranks reunited in 2008 with a mighty series of shows in New York and Europe, with the promise of a new album sometime in the future.

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

Weak Records Get Off to a Strong Start

New Swiss-based label Weak Records don’t use their name sarcastically: from an astrophysical point of view, it is actually the “weak forces” in the universe that hold it together. Their brand is defiantly DIY, angry and completely unwilling to give up on having fun. In other words, late 70s/early 80s punk rock style. Their initial release, the Weak Records Sampler #1 has been assembled to coincide with current Weak artists’ tours, live shows and writing and it makes a great introduction to some people who deserve to be better-known than they are. Weak Records was conceived as a platform for poetry as well as music, and there are a couple of spoken-word tracks here as well. Brett Davidson’s To Do List cynically litanizes a series of mundane and no-so-mundane projects that might be possible with a little respite. Bobby Vacant’s Cancerland savages endless bleak cloned suburban rot over a contrastingly pretty acoustic guitar background.

The music here is upbeat and funny. Mixin’ Bowl, by Riders of the Worm blends echoey, off-center riff-oriented Chrome Cranks garage punk with a late period Man or Astroman feel. I´m Not Your Dog, by Police Bulimia matches snapping bass to trebly percussive punk guitar with an early 80s vibe: “If you try to subjugate I’ll kick you in the head.” All of these are streaming at the links above. Weak Records’ latest live show features Bobby Vacant & the Worn with Brigitte Meier on bass on September 3 at 9 PM at Werkschau Nr. 6, Bahnstrasse 22 in Bern, Switzerland, where Weak Records’ newly launched, cynically amusing oldschool punk rock style fanzine Savage Laundry will also be available.

August 31, 2010 Posted by | Literature, Music, music, concert, poetry, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 20 Best Concerts in New York in 2009

Of all our year-end best-of lists (the 100 Best Songs of 2009 and 50 Best Albums of 2009 included), this is our favorite, because it’s the most individual (everybody has a different list) and it’s closest to our raison d’etre, live music in New York. Last year’s was difficult enough to narrow down to twenty; this year’s is criminally short. We could have put up a top 100 concerts list and it would be five times as good. 

This was the year of the Beast – Small Beast at the Delancey, New York’s most exciting weekly rock event. We caught onto this slowly – the concert series ran for about a month before we discovered it – but when we did we were there almost every week. Occasionally someone will ask, since you have a music blog, why don’t you start booking shows? With Small Beast, there’s no need: it’s your weekly chance to discover the edgiest, smartest rock-ish talent from Gotham and across the globe. You’ll see a lot of those shows on this list.

Yet 2009 was a weird year for us – running a New York live music blog and not being in town much of the time made it problematic, to say the least. Week after week, we watched from a distance, enviously as half the city got to see stuff we never did. In August, the Brooklyn What did a killer triple bill with Palmyra Delran’s garage band and amazing latin ska-punk-gypsy rockers Escarioka at Trash Bar, but we weren’t there. The second night of the Gypsy Tabor Festival just a few weeks later looked like a great time, but we missed that one too. As the year winds down and we finally (hopefully!) start to reap the rewards of a whole lot of hard work, it appears, pending some absolutely transcendent show exploding onto the radar, that this is it for our Best Shows of 09 list. Needless to say, we can’t wait for 2010.

Since any attempt to rank these shows in any kind of order would be an exercise in futility, we just listed them as they happened:

The Brooklyn What at Fat Baby, 1/15/09 – since we’d just reviewed a couple of their shows in the fall of 08, we didn’t even review this one, fearing overkill. But on what was the coldest night of the winter up to that point, they packed the club and burned through a characteristically fun, ferocious set, maybe fueled by the knowledge that one of their idols, Ron Asheton, had left us.

Kerry Kennedy at Rose Bar, 1/21/09 – the noir chanteuse was at the absolute top of her game as quietly resilient siren and southwestern gothic bandleader.

Paul Wallfisch and Larkin Grimm at Small Beast at the Delancey, 4/9/09 – the Botanica frontman (who books Small Beast) turned in a typically fiery set, followed by the avant-chanteuse who battled and finally lashed out at a crowd of clueless yuppie puppies who just didn’t get what the show was all about.

Kotorino at Pete’s Candy Store, 4/13/09 – the quietly multistylistic, gypsyish band filled the place on a Monday night and kept the crowd riveted as they all switched instruments, beats and genres over and over.

The New Collisions at Arlene’s, 4/23/09 – Boston’s best new band blazed through an early 80s inflected set of edgy powerpop.

Paul Wallfisch, the Ulrich-Ziegler Duo and McGinty and White at Small Beast at the Delancey, 4/23/09 – after Wallfisch had set the tone for the night, Big Lazy’s Steve Ulrich and Pink Noise’s Itamar Ziegler played hypnotic, macabre guitar soundscapes followed by the ferociously lyrical retro 60s chamber pop of Joe McGinty and Ward White.

The American String Quartet playing Irving Fine and Robert Sirota’s Triptych at Bargemusic, 4/26/09 – a sinister ride through works by one of the leading lights of the 1950s avant garde followed by a haunting, intense performance of contemporary composer Sirota’s 9/11 suite.

Paul Wallfisch, Vera Beren’s Gothic Chamber Blues Ensemble, Spottiswoode and Steve Wynn at Small Beast at the Delancey, 4/30/09 – after Wallfisch got the night started, Beren roared and scorched her way through a pummeling, macabre set. Then Spottiswoode impressed with a subtle set of nocturnes, setting the stage for Wynn, playing together with his friend and ex-lead guitarist Chris Brokaw for the first time in several years, a feast of swirling, otherworldly guitar overtones.

The Friggs and the Chrome Cranks at Santos Party House, 5/8/09 – a triumphant return for the popular 90s garage girl rockers followed by the equally triumphant, reinvigorated, snarling sonic attack of another one of NYC’s best bands of the 90s.

The French Exit at Local 269, 5/13/09 – NYC’s best new dark rockers playing one of their first shows as a four-piece, rich with reverb, tersely incisive piano, haunting vocals and defiant lyricism.

Chicha Libre on the Rocks Off Concert Cruise Boat, 5/15/09 – definitely the best party of the year that we were party to, a swaying excursion through psychedelic, surfy cumbia music, past and present.

Paul Wallfisch, Darren Gaines & the Key Party and Alice Texas at Small Beast at the Delancey, 6/4/09 – Wallfisch kicked it off, Gaines and a stripped-down trio impressed with gutter-poet, Lou Reed/Tom Waits style rock and then Alice Texas turned in a swirling, incandescent, gently assaultive show that reminded how much we miss Tonic, the club where she used to play before it was torn down t0 put up plastic luxury condos.

Paul Wallfisch, Marni Rice and the Snow at Small Beast at the Delancey, 6/22/09 – another Wallfisch night, this one featuring the great LES accordionist/chanteuse/cabaret scholar and then Pierre de Gaillande’s clever, haunting art-r0ck crew.

Ian Hunter at Rockefeller Park, 6/24/09 – the former Mott the Hoople frontman, at age 70, has simply never written, played, or sung better. This show was a real revelation.

Daniel Bernstein at Sidewalk, 7/9/09 – the underground songwriter/lyricist/tunesmith casually burned through one haunting, haunted, ridiculously catchy tune after another.

Randi Russo and the Oxygen Ponies at the Saltmines, 7/10/09 – another haunting show opened with the absolute master of the outsider anthem, who did double duty playing in Paul Megna’s equally dark, intense, lyrical indie band.

The Main Squeeze Accordion Festival: Musette Explosion, Suspenso del Norte, Hector Del Curto’s Eternal Tango Quintet, the Main Squeeze Orchestra, Roberto Cassan and John Munatore, Liony Parra y la Mega Mafia Tipica and Peter Stan at Pier One, 7/11/09 – squeezebox heaven.

Amir ElSaffar’s Two Rivers Ensemble and the Dave Brubeck Quartet at Damrosch Park, 8/5/09 – cutting-edge Middle Eastern-inflected jazz followed by one of the great ones, undiminished and still inventive at 89.

Jenifer Jackson at Rockwood Music Hall, 11/19/09 – the panstylistic rock goddess played several good New York shows this past year, but this one with Matt Kanelos on piano and glockenspiel and Billy Doughty on drums and melodica was pure transcendence.

Carol Lipnik, Bonfire Madigan, Rachelle Garniez, Vera Beren’s Gothic Chamber Blues Ensemble and McGinty and White at Small Beast at the Delancey, 11/23/09 – what seems at this point to be the single best show of the year (if only because it’s the most recent one on the list) matched Lipnik’s phantasmagoria to Madigan’s equally artful chamber pop, Garniez’ irresistible charisma and ferocity, Beren’s contralto classical punk assault and then Ward White took over where the sirens had been and sang what could have been his best show ever.

December 3, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: The Sick Debut Album by Woman

There are four people in Woman and they’re all guys. It’s not known what if anything the band name connotes, but it’s definitely not girly. Woman play dark, confrontational, in-your-face noise-rock that sounds straight out of the Lower East Side, 1993. What sets it apart from its antecedents is how tuneful it is. All of the songs here have layers and layers of guitar, howling, screaming, roaring, veering wildly in and out of focus, but the parts all manage to be in the right place at the right time. Since this band is actually very tight, the out-of-control freakouts become all the more intense. This album is like a splatter film that’s at least half suspense: there’s lots of gore, but they save it for when they need it. And then you get buckets. The tunes are always front and center when necessary; ditto the unrestrained savagery. Heavy drums and equally heavy, distorted bass add a shot of molten lead to an already unsteady vehicle.

There are eight tracks on the album to annoy your neighbors with in the wee hours. The first, When The Wheel’s Red layers a firestorm of metallic noise behind a simple catchy warped blues tune, like the Chrome Cranks as done by Sonic Youth circa Daydream Nation with some death metal dude on vocals. Track two, Gaol In My Heart is a stomping dirge, very Honeymoon Killers with a little Syd Barrett thrown in – the band pulses and sputters and finally the flames emerge from within the stinky smoke cloud, then it goes into a circular Doors-ish motif that they run over and over behind the squall. The Perfect Night captures swaying neo-boogie blues through the warped prism of a cheap whiskey bottle and ends cold as if they had to cut something off, or the tape ran out

The fourth cut, E-A-T-D-N-A picks up the pace with some unhinged chord-chopping and a wicked hook at the end of the verse that sounds a lot like the late great Live Skull (it figures: indie legend Martin Bisi engineered the album, maxing out the menace in his signature style). Like the previous cut, it stops dead in its tracks. After that, Phosphorescent Glow welds a catchy garage rock hook to ugly Melvins stomp and some charbroiled Ron Asheton licks. The most accessible song on the cd, Fall Into The Fall motors along on a catchy, mean chromatic hook with a Silver Rocket vibe, saving most of the guitar torture for the end. Heavy Water is aptly titled, like early Sabbath with a feedback fixation. The cd ends with the sarcastically titled torturefest Icy Drone, which reminds a lot of Live Skull’s classic cover of the Curtis Mayfield hit Pusherman. Damn, there hasn’t been a band this twistedly good around here in a long, long time. Could somebody please get their labelmates the Chrome Cranks together again for another tour and put them on the road with these guys. Woops…with this Woman. As a special bonus, Bang Records has pressed a limited edition run of 500 vinyl albums in addition to the cd.

September 3, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Obits – I Blame You

Blistering, tuneful, often ridiculously catchy dark psychedelic garage rock from Brooklyn. Obits never met a good riff they didn’t want to steal – and they really know their rock history – yet their sound is totally original. Some of the stuff here reminds of the pounding neo-garage vibe of the British band Clinic; other songs have an eerie gleam evocative of Mark Sultan. The reverb on the guitars is always turned up, the energy is pretty much through the roof, and the melodies are refreshingly counterintuitive – it’s not just the same old 1-4-5 riff over and over. Their album I Blame You came out in March on Sub Pop; they also have an ep and singles out (also available as mp3s).

The opening cut, with its long Lucifer Sam intro, is Widow of My Dreams, a gritty LES style noir garage song that sets the tone with an insistent, echoey feel and an outro that nicks a classic Keith Levene hook. With its scratchy guitar and slinky bass riff, Pine On offers shades of the MC5 complete with some nice pounding Dennis Thompson-esque drums and a Twilight zone riff. Fake Kinkade evokes mid 80s Sonic Youth stomping through an early Alice Cooper demo, but better.  One of the catchier numbers here, Two-Headed Coin works a 60s bass riff and more reverb guitar for a pretty noir feel.

Catchy downstroke guitar gives Run a sound like Interpol doing the retro thing. The title track is a little instrumental, kind of Booker T on acid, with reverb guitars and a neat funky shuffle beat. The next cut, Talking to the Dog is a stomping Velvets pop song gone completely unhinged. Track eight, Light Sweet Crude is tense and suspenseful with screechy jazz chords and a long build with a sweet payoff. The most Stoogoid track here is Lilies in the Street, with its real cool 4-chord turnaround on the chorus and a big long guitar buildup that fades down gracefully into feedback at the end. Frontman Rick Froberg  rails that he’s “tired of playing Pollyanna, tired of being a ghost” on the angry, minor-key SUD. The next cut, Milk Cow Blues is classic 60s psych in the 13th Floor Elevators vein with a sweet macabre edge. The cd ends with Back and Forth, a Pretty Things-style, early 60s R&B tune.

Their earlier stuff alternates between an early 90s LES feel like the Chrome Cranks, more jaggedly riff-oriented and strung out, and an inoffensively generic post-Sonic Youth indie sound. It’s very auspicious to see to see how much the band has grown since then. If this new album is any indication they should be killer live. Obits play South St. Seaport on one of the year’s best doublebills, opening for the recently reunited and reinvigorated Polvo on 7/31 at 7 PM.

July 26, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: The Cool Devices

Particularly appropriate that this would come over the transom a couple of days after seeing the Chrome Cranks at Santos Party House: the debut seven-track album by Chicago band the Cool Devices shares a no-holds-barred, roaring ferocity and a smart, riff-oriented post-Stooges vibe with the recently reunited LES New York legends. This effort has more of an authentic Detroit feel than most of the innumerable Stooges imitators out there, frontman Jason Frederick assailing the mic with relentless, snotty energy. The whole thing has a live-in-the-studio feel, well-rehearsed but with a spontaneity that’s hard to get just doing the songs track by track.  Right off the bad, they take it to redline with (This Is Not A) White World, muted guitar chords sputtering with natural distortion with more than a bit of an early Jon Spencer Blues Explosion feel. Some fiery tremolo picking kicks off the second track, Fatso, snarling riff-rock with trebly Farfisa or what sounds like it by Casey Meehan of Jitney (another good band recently reviewed here). 

Once I Became One Of Those is careening and atonal in the Chrome Cranks vein, practically death metal but with swing instead of stomp. Come Get Me has the guitar punching a single chord over and over again as Frederick rails and the organ kicks in at the end of the verse, an effects pedal left oscillating wildly at the end. The absolutely evil, chromatically-charged The Line Starts Here staggers along with growly Stranglers bass over some tricky time changes. The big, obvious hit is Primitive, dark second-generation minor-key garage rock also evocative of the Stranglers with that oldschool organ swirling as the chorus hits a peak. The album winds up with Someone Stop Them, running a1-3-4 riff over and over again like a less sludgy Thee Hypnotics as the organ distorts, then hands over the reins to the guitar which eventually goes apeshit while Frederick screams the tortured mantra of a title. A Guantanamo parable? 

Another triumph for upstart Chicago label Rock Proper, who in a remarkable spirit of generosity make their albums available for free download: get the whole thing here. If this is any indication, they ought to be a great live band: Chicago fans ought to go see them at their cd release show on May 28 at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W Belmont.

May 12, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Concert Review: The Friggs and the Chrome Cranks at Santos Party House, NYC 5/8/09

Two very different bands with a long history together delivering the same good news, twice: they’re back. Well-loved, all-female garage rock revivalists the Friggs are the kind of band that always seemed up for a reunion show, and word on the street is they’ll be around for the occasional doublebill like this in the coming months even while lead player Palmyra Delran continues her excellent solo career. The Chrome Cranks? Same deal, a prospect that seemed something beyond impossible when the LES legends imploded in the mid-90s. More about them later.

With two Fender Jaguars and a Mustang bass, Delran, Jezebel, drummer Kitten LaChaCha and bassist Ruby Garnett – a distant relative of the Boston Celtics superstar who moonlights as a very compelling keyboardist/chanteuse under the name Rachelle Garniez – drew the crowd in. “Come up here, motherfuckers!” Delran cajoled, and nobody could resist. Over the course of a too-brief twelve-song set and a lone encore, the Friggs gave a clinic in good chord changes and good fun. The charm of the Friggs – beyond the obvious – is their raw edge: the band has just enough looseness to give their catchy, upbeat, jangly riff-rock a little bit of unease. The women smile and pogo and scooch across the stage, but mess with them and you’re liable to get hurt. They opened with Shake, sounding like the Go Go’s doing Link Wray (wouldn’t he have loved that), the fast, funny rockabilly-inflected Mama Blew a Hoody, the stomping, Cramps-ish I Cringe, which Delran prefaced with “This is not a love song, feels like one, but it’s not.” The surfy Friggs Theme had both guitarists playing harmonies on the central hook, almost a Hotel California spoof; after a Kinks-ish riff-rocker, the gorgeously clanging, tongue-in-cheek Kill Yourself and a guest vocalist roaring through a cover of Sam the Sham’s Deputy Dog, they closed with the defiant Bad Word for a Good Thing, Delran – who’d been unabashedly and gleefully showboating all night – straddling the monitors as she delivered yet another offhandedly savage, blissful solo.

Of all the Lower East Side bands of the early to mid 1990s, noisy bluespunks the Chrome Cranks were the best, an underground legend in the making, and maybe they knew it all along. Uncompromisingly abrasive, ferociously intense, caustic yet charismatic, they were an amazing live act whether they were on top of their game or the show was a complete trainwreck. Which was always a crapshoot. Now back together for the first time in twelve years with all the original members – guitarist/frontman Peter Aaron, lead player William G. Weber, bassist Jerry Teel (now doing his own noir rock thing leading the excellent New York City Stompers) and former Sonic Youth drummer Bob Bert – they’re better than ever, a scenario that hardly seems possible, especially considering that their blistering, assaultive show was fueled by nothing stronger than water. With songs like Slow Crash, Desperate Friend and Lost Time Blues (the latter two which they played), their inspiration was no secret. The Chrome Cranks’ music, both on album and onstage was seemingly created for the early morning hours, for a condition where sanity and madness have become one and the same, where everything is so impossibly faraway that’s too close for comfort. A cynic could say that they sound an awful lot like the Stooges, but for them it’s the Fun House era Stooges, 1970.

By the time the band was ready to go, the dj’s music was still playing over the PA. Aaron stepped over the monitors, fixing a glare on his target. “CHECK,” he spat. And then spat on the stage and with that, feedback screaming from his battered Strat, they launched into one pummeling stomp after another. As one of the cognoscenti in the crowd said afterward, it was like being in a movie. Desperate Friend gave Weber a chance to go off into savage Ron Asheton territory for a few bars. Teel stood impassive, stage left, cooly providing an eardrum-blasting low end, occasionally with chords. About eight songs into the set, Aaron finally peeled off his coat, soaked in sweat. On a few songs, notably an absolutely hypnotic version of Eight Track Mind, he hit his vintage repeater pedal, adding an even darker edge to the songs’ careening menace. Although Aaron was roaring at full voice, it would get lost in the maelstrom of guitars. Fragments of lyrics emerged: “You’ll fall down..I don’t wanna know you…I just want you dead.” At the end of the set, he and Teel both stuck their guitars in front of their amps, leaving the PA howling with feedback until Weber made his way over to the middle of the stage and gingerly clicked off Aaron’s Fender Twin. The crowd was stunned, both the young in front who’d obviously never seen the band before, and the oldsters in the back who had. Nobody had the energy to scream for an encore until the band had already played them.

With a new compilation, The Murder of Time (1993-1996) due out on Bang! Records, one can only hope for a tour in the wake of a series of New York area shows. For those kicking themselves because they missed this one, they’ll be at Glasslands on May 15, probably around 10 with a bunch of other bands on the bill.

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

Concert Review: Palmyra Delran at Arlene’s, NYC 3/26/09

This is the kind of band you see in a bar and suddenly an hour has elapsed and you’re still there watching them. More specifically, this is what happens when you give very simple songs to very intelligent people. What Palmyra Delran plays in this band and with the newly reformed (and reportedly reinvigorated) Friggs is your basic nuts-and-bolts, riff-driven garage rock. Barre chords on the guitar, rhythm four on the floor, verse/chorus/verse/chorus/solo/verse, maybe an intro or an outro if you’re lucky. Amazing how they made it sound so fresh. One of the not-so-secret secrets of this band is how much everybody listens to each other, Delran passing the baton along to her lead guitarist, then to the bassist and back again while everybody added a part that meshed like a Turbo Hydramatic (that’s vintage rockspeak for automatic transmission). For music with orchestration this good, you usually have to go to a place like Carnegie Hall.

 

They opened with a hotrod instrumental driven by Delran’s Fender Jazzmaster. There’s bite, growl and sinew in her playing, dirty enough to keep you guessing but always there to grab the song if it needs grabbing. The night’s first vocal number was a noir 60s flavored rocker possibly titled Drag You Down: “Learn to crave what will hurt you, you wanna know what’s on the other side…she digs the ride,” Delran sang with not a little sarcasm. The fast backbeat number Shy Boy swung along over a gorgeous four-chord hook, Delran pogoing and driving the band along: “Nobody can get close to you, even if you want them to.”

 

The lead player – on a beautiful black Gibson SG – rattled off a ferociously good, chord-fueled solo on a simple but potently anthemic number that sounded like something Stiv Bators probably would have wished he’d written. Then the whole band went up in flames together on the solo on another ridiculously catchy garage-pop song. Then it was the bass player’s turn to feed the inferno as Delran sardonically reminisced how “one more heart goes down the drain.” They wrapped up the set with a blazing version of the surf-inflected Love Has Gone Away from Delran’s new cd, drummer Nancy Polstein aggressive but counterintuitive with those Mel Taylor beats like she’d been doing all night. It was SG guy’s birthday, so the crowd converged in two directions, on him and Delran, the minute the show was over. What a fun way to keep the night going. Watch this space for future shows by Delran and her band; on an auspicious note, she plays with the Friggs on what promises to be one of the great doublebills of the year, May 8 at Santos Party House at 7 PM, opening for the recently regrouped Chrome Cranks.

 

A stop into the Delancey earlier in the evening provided not only shelter from the nasty drizzle but also a sneak preview of some new Botanica songs. As usual, Paul Wallfisch, host of the weekly Small Beast series here, opened the night solo on piano. He stripped down the big audience hit Someone Else Again to a skeletal yet elegant swing, ran through a couple of brand-new songs – one darkly anthemic and Nick Cave-ish, another, possibly titled New Girlfriend, with a noir cabaret tinge – as well as a PJ Harvey cover, a French waltz and a couple of trips into the vault – or crypt, if you will – for some older material. Because this guy’s there every week, the temptation is to take him for granted. Don’t. While it lasts, carpe noctem.   

April 2, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Album Review: Sousalves – Spirit of NYC Woman

Incendiary, twisted, quintessentially New York rock from one of its better guitar-wielding denizens. Paul Alves AKA Sousalves plays all the instruments here except the drums, slashing and scratching out a wired, distorted, strung-out concoction that sometimes eerily resembles legendary French rockers Noir Desir (whose frontman Bertrand Cantat murdered his girlfriend in a coke-fueled rage). There’s some vintage Gun Club somewhere in there, too, it seems. Sousalves likes minor keys, percussive riffs where the guitar doubles the rhythm of the drums, and the occasional evil chromatic hook. The whole album has a hallucinatory, 5 AM, out-too-late, out-of-control feel. It opens with a dirty instrumental passage that segues into Silver Shoes, which could be Noir Desir…or could be early Midnight Oil, from the days when they were a metal band. The cd’s title track features another notable Lower East Side denizen, Deborah Sassiver, playing Nico to Sousalves’ Lou here, adding layers of eerie,watery vocals to this cut and several others as well. The album’s next cut Passin Thru begins with a tinkling arpeggio played on what sounds like a koto, building to a titanic yet impressively terse, feedback-infused guitar solo before fading back to quiet again. The following track Tail Another Chase is as predictably warped as the title would imply, driven by a pounding chromatic riff. After that, Making It Happen takes it down a notch for a couple of minutes before reverting to the percussive fire of the rest of the album.

There’s ostensibly a video of Sousalves playing a live acoustic version of the next cut, Dance Tango, circulating on the internet somewhere: that’s a good thing, because this electric version strangely doesn’t have the hypnotic intensity of the unplugged take. The next song Painted It Black appeared on Sousalves’ previous ep …To Self and sounds something like what the Red Hot Chili Peppers would have done if they weren’t so interested in being rock stars. The highlight of the album, End of Your Rainbow reverts to a scorched-earth, nouveau Noir Desir fury, the odd tempo and ascending progression of the bridge exploding into its killer chorus. Sousalves closes the cd with a couple of hypnotic tracks, Waiting to Kiss You For Days which builds to a Jefferson Airplane-esque funk groove, and the quieter Meridians, with its neat trick ending. It’s a cliché but they really don’t make rock like this much anymore: fans of late great bands like the Chrome Cranks, Honeymoon Killers and Knoxville Girls will love this. Caveat – this album won’t really sound good unless you play it loud.

Sousalves plays the cd release for this album at Midway (the old Guernica space) at 10 PM on Tues May 1.

May 1, 2007 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments