Lucid Culture


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

Top Ten Songs of the Week 9/7/09

We do this every Tuesday except for when we don’t – for all you Tuesday peeps, we’ll try to get back on schedule next week. As always, you’ll see this week’s #1 song on our 100 Best 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. Every link here except #1 and #3, which are unreleased, will take you to each individual song.

1. Liza & the WonderWheels – Cold Wind

Haunting, shapeshifting, Penelope Houston-esque anthem from the NYC new wave/psychedelic crew. Brand new and unreleased – you’ll have to go see this live.

2. Woman – When the Wheel’s Red

Noiserock from their delicious new cd.

3. Mark Sinnis – Gloomy Sunday

The Ninth House frontman has revived the original version of the “Hungarian suicide song,” deleting the fake last verse added to the Billie Holiday cover and substituted  a macabre one of his own. From his upcoming third solo cd due out next year.

4. Mary Lorson & the Soubrettes – Anything Can Happen

The former Madder Rose frontwoman and pianist sounds better than ever.

5. Air Waves – Knock Out

Slightly off-key, lo-fi janglepop, fetching and catchy.

6. Emily Wells – Symphony 6: Fair Thee Well and the Requeim Mix

Cool, trippy string-driven triphop anthem.

7. Clare & the Reasons – Ooh You Hurt Me So

Catchy Motown-inflected pop. They’re at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on 10/27.

8. The Red Channels – Waltz

Weird kinda creepy lo-fi synth stuff like a more melodic version of the Residents. Is this cool or complete BS? You decide.

9. The Zac Brown Band – Toes

A total Magaritaville ripoff, from the opposite point of view. Is this a soundtrack for assholism or just alcoholism?

10. The French Exit – Your God

We’re just going to keep hitting you over the head about how good this ferocious female-fronted NYC noir band is until they’re huge. They’re at Local 269 on 9/17 at 8.

September 11, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment