Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album of the Day 8/18/11

Every day, our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Thursday’s album is #530:

Devi – Get Free

The 2009 debut release by this Hoboken, New Jersey psychedelic powerpop trio is a feast of good guitar and solid tunesmithing. But Debra, the band’s frontwoman, doesn’t let her virtuoso chops clutter the songs: instead, she goes for intricate layers and textures, with the occasional long, exhilarating, blues-infused solo. The genuine classic here is Welcome to the Boneyard, a haunted 9/11 memoir told from the point of a ghost in the rubble, drenched in watery riffs played through a Leslie organ speaker. When It Comes Down and the title track are the big concert favorites, all rises and falls and scorching solos. There’s also the wickedly catchy, gritty Howl at the Moon; Another Day (which could be the Runaways if they’d had better chops); Demon in the Sack, which pokes fun at gender stereotypes and sexual politics; Love That Lasts, which finally crosses the bridge over into exuberant metal; and a richly textured cover of Neil Young’s The Needle and the Damage Done. The album is streaming in its entirety at bandcamp and available as a free download at the band’s site.

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August 18, 2011 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top Ten Songs of the Week 7/26/10

OK, we’re a little behind with this but we have not been idle: new NYC concert calendar coming August 1, the 1000 best albums of all time, not to mention 72 albums and two concerts to review. At least. In the meantime here’s this week’s version of what Billboard should be paying attention to: we try to mix it up, offer a little something for everyone, sad songs, funny songs, upbeat songs, quieter stuff, you name it. If you don’t like one of these, you can always go on to the next one. Every link here will take you to the song. As always, the #1 song of the week is guaranteed a spot on this year’s best 100 songs list at the end of December.

1. The Larch – Sub-Orbital Getaway

A masterpiece of catchy paisley underground rock dressed up in a skinny tie and striped suit. From the Brooklyn band’s best album, the brand-new Larix Americana.

2. Devi – When It Comes Down

The psychedelic rockers are giving away this live showstopper as a free download. Doesn’t get any more generous than this!

3. People You Know – Glamour in the Hearts of Many

Go Gos soundalike from the fun, quirky Toronto trio.

4. Wormburner – The Interstate

Long, literate highway epic: it’s all about escape. What you’d expect from a good band from New Jersey (they tore up Hipster Demolition Night this month).

5. The Fumes – Cuddle Up the Devil

Not the Queens ska-rock crew but an Australian band very good at hypnotic pounding Mississippi hill country blues a la RL Burnside or Will Scott. They’re at the Rockwood 8/26-27

6. The Alpha Rays – Guide to Androids

Ziggy-era Bowie epic warped into an early 80s artpop vein from these lyrical London rockers.

7. Fela Original Cast – Water No Get Enemy

A Fela classic redone brilliantly, from the Broadway show soundtrack – then again, it’s what you’d expect from Antibalas.

8. Iron Maiden – God of Darkness

This is the first Iron Maiden – bluesy British metal from 1969!

9. Darker My Love – Dear Author

Faux psychedelic Beatles – funny in a Dukes of Stratosphear vein. Free download.

10. Megan McCullough Li – Blood in the Water

Solo harp and vocals – creepy!

July 29, 2010 Posted by | blues music, lists, Music, rock music, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Devi at Sullivan Hall, NYC 1/6/10

Ten PM showtime, the band hits the stage at about quarter after eleven. C’mon, Sullivan Hall, get your shit together.

In an Anna Sui print skirt (so says the fashionista) and shiny leather midriff coat, Devi frontwoman Debra looks like Christina Ricci with a guitar. “Am I too loud?” she asks the sound guy. Yes, he avers – too bad, she would have been able to blast the crowd to guitar nirvana.

Bassist Keith Maninno is clearly a rocker, bobbing and weaving and trading grins with his bandmates. Drummer John Hummel is all business until he interjects a boisterous John Bonham doublebass hit to wind up a verse; guest keyboardist Rob Clores plays tersely, impressionistically, interweaving organ or Rhodes voicings depending on the song and the mood. It’s obvious that he’s listened to this music, hard, and he wants to make what he does count – which should be a sine qua non but so often it’s not. The percussionist/backup singer doesn’t do much although he does check his voicemail during a song – twice. The band notice this and don’t like it very much.

The first song is Get Free, title track on the band’s new cd. Bass foreshadows the guitar, a jazz device – pretty sophisticated for a powerpop band. Big organ swell into a lightning blues guitar solo, and then down to just bass and drums.

Debra starts out Another Day, a riff-rocker, with a breezy Hendrix-style intro. The bassist is a ham but he’s good, building up to the end of a phrase while the organ swirls lushly.

Another riff-rocker gets a dizzying Jimmy Page treatment when it comes to the guitar solo, Clores’ organ smartly signaling the end. Although it feels too soon – she could have gone on for a lot longer and it would have been twice as fun.

When It Comes Down is the big jamout, this time they don’t go quite as long as they usually do but it still hits the spot. Debra is all dirty blues, trading accents with the drums which hint at doublespeed but don’t go there, loping along like a wounded rhino. A brief climb up the scale with some bleeding bent notes, and then down to bass and drums. And a stately, subdued ending. “We could do this all night but we wouldn’t want to torture you,” Debra grins. She’s being sarcastic and the crowd knows it.

A new song sounds like a cross between the Melvins and Patti Smith, a sludgy, dark epic about trying to talk sense to a cop at a protest and eventually having to dodge a charge by the mounted police.

Welcome to the Boneyard looks like it’ll be the highlight of the night, as usual. Clores plays with a haunting, watery setting – does he have a Leslie speaker up there? Debra lets her guitar hang, just sings it. It’s a 9/11 elegy and it’s awfully sad, and beautiful.

They bring things back up with All That I Need – it’s catchy and kinda funky with some cool electric piano to start it. Debra throws some quick signals at the band to wind it up, James Brown style.

“The mothership has landed,” she tells the crowd, deadpan, as Clores’ keys conjure up a spiky moonscape. This one’s new. The rhythm is tricky – is that 11/4? “Tired of waiting, tired of waiting.” Sunbaked blues with a slide, the drums trade off a few bars with the guitar and then it’s over, cold. They could have taken that one a lot further and it wouldn’t have hurt. They close it with a jangly, slinky Howl at the Moon and then their cover of Runaway with yet another solo that could have gone on twice as long. Always leave ’em wanting more.

January 11, 2010 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Debra from Devi’s Top 10 Guitar Albums

This falls into the “ask an expert” category. Debra, who plays lead guitar and fronts the ferocious, psychedelic power trio Devi (whose excellent debut cd you can get at itunes and in stores) knows a thing or two about guitar – she’s one of the most uniquely individual, virtuosic stylists of this era. Here are the ten albums that really hook her up:   

 

Key to the Highway, Freddy King – Best phrasing in the blues and so tuff and sexy it makes me want to dance on a table in hot pants for Mr. King. I snuck a lick from “Hideaway” into Devi’s jam version of “The Needle and the Damage Done.” (You can hear it at 3:43).

 

Another Perfect Day, Motorhead – I moved into a grungy cat-stank apartment on Avenue B one December and by Christmas Eve I couldn’t breathe. Found myself in Bellevue sucking adrenalin from a tank to open my lungs and was told I’d die if I tried to spend another night in my apartment. The only friend I knew who didn’t have a freaking cat was bassist Nick Marden. He had a bird, a rat, a pitbull and a snake. Slept under the Christmas tree in the living room and awoke to Nick handing me this album, saying “Merry Christmas.” Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson was kicked out of Motorhead after the tour for Another Perfect Day for wearing leg warmers and being generally fey, but I was hooked from the opening note on his soaring, searing, gorgeous playing. Thanks Nick.

 

That’s Entertainment, Gang of Four – Every once in awhile a guitarist comes along who is so original, he makes everyone else sound boring and dated and stupid. Andy Gill’s playing is utterly fresh, sharp, and compulsively danceable. I saw Gang of Four play and all I remember is flying into a state of spasmodic ecstasy from the Gill’s first slashing rip across the strings.

 

Filth Pig, Ministry – God, I love this record. I’ve been known to put it on repeat and listen to it for 8 hours in a row. The guitars sound like thunder, like earthquakes, like tsunamis. One of my fave moments ever was meeting Al Jourgensen and having his wife Angie ask him, “Guess which Ministry album Deb likes the best?” and me and Al both hollering at the same time “FILTH PIIIIIIIIG!!”

 

Dreamboat Annie, Heart — Nancy Wilson’s acoustic guitar playing is exquisitely feminine and also every bit as rock as the Celtic touches Jimmy Page was giving Zeppelin. Otherwordly and heartbreakingly beautiful. Need to cry your way through a breakup? This is the album.

 

Country Life, Roxy Music — Phil Manzanera’s romantic passionate solos slay me. When he lets that delay fly, it sounds like flocks of magical sparkling geese heading straight to heaven. Saw Roxy Music at Radio City Music Hall. Cried. Sighed. Swooned.

 

Texas Flood, Steve Ray Vaughan – Hands that could crush a Volkswagen. His best solos are on this album and they are bursts of fire. I learned his solo on “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and I use what I learned all the time. Snuck a few variations on the licks from that solo into mine on “C21H23NO3”.

 

Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, Sex Pistols – Guitars like a punch in the face. Steve Jones set the standard for the tightest, most powerful playing on the tightest, most powerful punk rock record ever. Taught the rest of us how to triple track separate parts for maximum wallop. It still makes me want to throw furniture and slamdance as hard as it did the first time I heard it.

 

Ritual de lo Habitual, Jane’s Addiction – Dave Navarro’s solo on “Three Days” is a rippling, cascading masterpiece. He took what Daniel Ash was doing in Bauhaus with digital delay and mixed it up with Jimmy Page and superscorchers like Nuno Bettencourt to create a new style that everyone’s been ripping off every since.

 

Santana, Santana – Jimmy Page said “tone is in the fingers” and Carlos Santana’s fingers make the guitar sound like a celestial viola. His gorgeous sense of melody is like nobody else’s either…he never gets stuck in a blues bag. Even just trying to play along with him for just a few minutes opens up entire new vistas.

 

 

Honorable Mention:

 

Everything by Led Zeppelin, everything by Pink Floyd

 

Pretenders, The Pretenders

 

Sweet Forgiveness, Bonnie Raitt

June 24, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Concert Review – Pete Galub at Lakeside Lounge, NYC 4/22/09

If you want to play great guitar, watch this guy. This is somebody who once placed Comfortably Numb all the way through, solo onstage on electric guitar, as a funk instrumental. And it actually worked. Brilliantly, in fact. As a sideman, Pete Galub has a resume that would make a lot of guys blush, as Amy Allison’s once-and-future lead guitarist and as one of the original Extroverts in Greta Gertler’s band. That he’d pick up gigs with those two songwriters makes even more sense when you hear his own material: Galub can’t resist a clever pun or a playful musical jape and neither can those two. But he saves his most ferocious playing for his own stuff. Thursday night at Lakeside he put on a clinic in understatedly melodic powerpop and noise-rock guitar, two styles that you wouldn’t think would go well together, maybe, unless you were a Steve Wynn fan. In fact, it sounded a lot like Galub had been holed up with a bunch of Steve Wynn bootleg tracks, which as it turned out, he hadn’t. Then again, maybe the wheel was invented simultaneously by two different guys who barely knew each other.

 

Fast and furious as he can be, Galub didn’t waste any notes, choosing his spots judiciously before hitting his distortion pedal or shading the textures with a deft twist or two on the bass, the treble or the volume (subtlety is everything in this guy’s book). Backed by a subtle, in-the-pocket rhythm section, he’d start out with a low growl and then make his way methodically to the upper registers, adding a snarling, wailing, dirty ferocity, then backing off, then turning the demons loose again. Bending and twisting a series of richly sustained chords, sinuous pop and country licks, he’d go on for a couple of minutes and would still leave the crowd wanting more when he wrapped up the solo. The midtempo Big Star-inflected number that he played next-to-last turned into a launching pad for some pyrotechnics that sounded straight out of the Karl Precoda songbook. Perhaps somewhat fortuituosly, Galub closed the set with the slow, tongue-in-cheek 6/8 ballad Boy Gone Wrong ( the title track from his most recent solo cd), inviting up Steve Wynn lead player Jason Victor to join him. Victor took his time tuning up. “Is there something you’d like to promote?” Galub asked him, giving him a chance to plug a gig or two.

 

“Sleep,” Victor mumbled. Yet when the time came, Galub looked stage right and started pouncing on a quick series of chords, and Victor was right there to join him in a noisy duel just as he does in Wynn’s band. Galub held down the lows, wildly tremolo-picking until he’d built a roaring, whirring cauldron of sound, Victor chopping at his strings like the chainsaw killer in Last House on the Left. It wasn’t pretty but it was a blast to hear. The crowd roared for an encore and Galub reverted to quick, tersely effective powerpop mode. Suddenly choosing this gig over Devi (whose lead player is also a serious monster), who were playing at Shrine, seemed like the right choice this time around. Galub’s next gig is with Serena Jost’s band at 7:30 PM on Apr 29 at le Poisson Rouge; watch this space for his next as a bandleader.

April 24, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mafrika Festival Review: The Superpowers, Pink Noise, the Brown Rice Family, Devi, Konny and Funkface at Marcus Garvey Park, NYC 6/1/08

It’s hard to recall a better outdoor music festival in New York in recent years than this one was. Forget Central Park Summerstage: not that the rent-a-pigs there would ever let you in anyway, in 2008. That Coney Island thing that the Village Voice does every summer? Snooze. Today’s all-day outdoor show at the bandshell in the northwest corner of Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem harkened back to the days of the old First Street festival about ten years ago, where you could sit on the sidewalk, surreptitiously drink beer and see one good band after another. For one reason or another, this one started late, with sets getting shorter as the day went on, the promoters obviously wanting to get everyone onstage and then off for the following band. This year, they really outdid themselves: six good, frequently brilliant bands in just under five hours, from time to time augmented by random rappers, dancers and even a fashion designer who paraded two of her models around the stage to considerable applause.

The Superpowers, an eight-piece reggae-jazz band with a four-piece horn section opened, auspiciously. They don’t sound much like Antibalas but they’re just as good. Best song title of the afternoon belonged to them: American Exceptionalism, the Reason Behind All Good Songwriting, or something to that effect (they were kidding, obviously). Often led by their organist or one of the sax players, they’d go off on a long exploring mission and then come back to a catchy, anthemic roots reggae chorus evocative of greats like Burning Spear. They could have gone on for twice as long as they did and nobody in the audience would have complained.

Next up were Israeli/American indie rock quartet Pink Noise. Like all the other half-million or so sons and daughters of Sonic Youth, they’re all about the guitars, and when they’d gotten both of them roaring and ringing with all kinds of eerie overtones, the effect was very captivating. When they’d go off on some dorky, herky-jerky math-rock tangent, it was vastly less so. They also could have done without any vocals or lyrics and been considerably better off for it. Memo to the frontwoman: when you sing “I’m so unattractive,” over and over again, that’s what you become.

The following act, a Coachella-style, sunny, cheery, Asian roots reggae band went by the name of the Brown Rice Family. Basmati, yes; jasmine, yes yes; Canadian wild rice, yes yes YES. But that awful glutinous stuff served in health food restaurants? Maybe where these guys come from, brown rice means something different than what it is over here. The world’s only reggae band with a ukulele (played by one of the two lead singers) likes happy uptempo tunes so fast that they’re almost ska. Otherwise, they don’t break any new ground. But that’s ok. It dread in a Babylon, music is the universal language, let’s all get up and dance, ad infinitum, we all know that. It never hurts to be reminded.

Psychedelic guitar-driven power trio Devi (whom both of the emcees onstage introduced incorrectly as “Devirock”) had their second chance in as many days to wrestle with an inadequate sound system. This time around they didn’t even get a linecheck, let alone a soundcheck: when they hit the stage, it was plug in and play. But frontwoman Debra DeSalvo knows a thing or two about DIY from her punk rock days with the False Prophets, and the rest of the crew followed her lead. And she finally got the lethargic crowd out of the shadows and paying attention. If the previous night’s set was the band’s attempt at being quiet, this was the party set: a searing, almost ten-minute When It Comes Down, an equally boisterous cover of Dell Shannon’s Runaway and eventually, after DeSalvo had to put up something of a fight to keep the band onstage for a final number, the potently catchy powerpop hit Howl at the Moon. Many of these songs will appear on the band’s debut cd due out this year, something to look forward to.

The festival’s organizers billed the next act, expat Burkina Faso roots reggae singer Koony as someone on the same level as Tiken Jah Fakoly or Alpha Blondy, a claim that seemed laughable. Believe the hype. Koony is that good, and so is his sensational band, his organist inducing more than a few smiles with some amusingly over-the-top Dr. Dre-style synth fills, his superb guitarist, rhythm section and percussionists laying down a groove that was a bulletproof as it was rubbery. Singing in French in a somewhat thin, raspy voice, he also proved to be an excellent lyricist. The high point of his set was the determined, defiant Sept Fois (a pun – it means both “seven times” and “this time” in French). If reggae is your thing, get to know this guy before it costs you $100 to see him at Madison Square Garden.

Funky uptown heavy metal band Funkface got all of three songs but made the most of them: it would have been nice to have heard more from them, which is a compliment. Their first song was totally riff-metal, but their two guitarists share a remarkable self-awareness and sense of humor (in metal, humor is often 99% of it). Their next one revealed them equally good at ska-punk; the last saw them bringing up a couple of enthusiastic gradeschool girls from the audience (someone in the band’s kids?) to get the crowd going on a call-and-response, and this finally got the massive to respond, massively. Their album is titled Your Politics Suck: no doubt the crowd would have been into it.

By now, the clouds that had obscured the sun for most of the afternoon were gone, and both sides of the bleachers, in the shade, were full. A trio of trendoids took the stage and took forever to set up, the guitarist apparently too effete to figure out how to work his guitar. And when the band, the Octagon, finally got going, it was with an attempt at a surf instrumental. For about five seconds, this seemed like a good thing but quickly proved that A) they have an excellent drummer and B) the guitarist doesn’t have a clue. After that, their silly, off-key falsetto vocals and clueless attempts at songwriting gave them away for what they are, imitators of some lame-ass, popular indie band or another: the Flaming Lips, maybe? It’s bands like this that drive the audience out of the house. It would have been nice to be able to stick around to hear the always entertaining, self-described “sonic slayers” Apollo Heights, but they’re on some label, they’re well-known and they’re playing Central Park in July. You probably know them already. Or maybe you will, someday.

June 1, 2008 Posted by | concert, funk music, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, reggae music, Reviews, rock music, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Pay to Play

Went to the MEANY Fest last night at Arlene’s. All I knew about this was that they’d moved it from CBGB, and that if you emailed them, you could get on the guest list (typically, bands and the club each have their own lists). As it turns out, it’s a competition: more about that later. Wanting to see Devi and to give the club a chance to redeem themselves after the sonic fiasco that was the Sloe Guns show here last week, I went to the MEANY site and signed up using our email (we get enough spam here, never mind giving them my personal email). Sure enough, the door girl didn’t have any record of it. This time around, however, she’d apparently done a couple of lines of meth off her baby’s belly, which seemingly calmed her down to the point where she finally handed over a wristband for club admission.

The good news is that the sound was good tonight, with the regular sound guy here running things. But there were bad omens everywhere. The bands were only getting half-hour sets to play (as opposed to the 40 minutes to an hour that Arlene’s gives bands onstage). Despite this, the night was running an hour and a half behind schedule, even though the clock had yet to strike nine. While the band’s email listed a 9 PM showtime, there had been two other acts put on the bill before them. To their credit, Arlene’s runs pretty much on time: you’re always assured of seeing the band you came for without much if any delay if you get there at showtime. That wouldn’t be the case tonight, and that was a drag. My days of showing up right when the club doors open, and then standing for hours and suffering through the likes of the Suburbs or 54-40, just to make sure I was in the front row when the Church took the stage ended a long, long time ago. Call me unadventurous or closed-minded, but that’s what the internet and myspace are for. If somebody I trust (NOT a promoter or a band manager) tells me that I should check out such-and-such, I’ll google them, I’ve got better things to do than sit through one wretched wannabe after another without being able to stop the track when it’s obvious that the band really sucks.

After taking what seemed an eternity to set up, trumpeter/pianist and Tom Waits wannabe John McGrew and his competent if uninspired backing band played a set that ran about as long as it took to get the band going (even though the club has a backline, with all the bands using the club’s gear instead of switching over to their own amps and such between sets). The wait grew longer as Uncle Pumpkin took the stage. While we don’t usually do negative reviews here, Uncle Pumpkin warrants an exception. This corporate rock act with a silly analog synthesizer from the 70s is stupefyingly bad. Watching them live was a vivid reminder of how equally vomitific corporate radio has become. This band sounds exactly like every other loud, tuneless corporate act that the corporate stations play but never tell you who they are or what song they’ve just played, as if you’re supposed to know who they are by osmosis or telepathy or something. Even though their vocalist (I wouldn’t call him a singer) doesn’t bray or mumblemouth the lyrics, Pearl Jam style, Uncle Pumpkin could easily win this whole thing. Which is saddening beyond belief.

Bad music may be good comedy, but this kind of comedy gets old awfully fast. There was no way in hell I was going to sit through a whole set of this shit. And on a Thursday night (or pretty much any night, even a Monday, if it’s late enough), there’s absolutely nowhere in my old neighborhood to go where you can have a drink and get away from the throngs of tourists. There was a girl in the back of the club with ballots for the audience to fill out, so I stopped there on my way out to vote for Devi. The promoters told the crowd that voters had to choose two bands, which stumped me: McGrew hadn’t earned my vote and I didn’t know any of the others. And while scanning down the list, I noticed that the promoters had scheduled a band for 1 AM. Meaning that at the rate the night was going, they were probably going to take the stage somewhere around three.

Now if you’re in a band whose fan base is a bunch of drunks who don’t mind staying out late and going to work the next day on hardly any sleep, and if you’re also a drunk who doesn’t mind staying up late just to play a brief, half-hour set in the wee hours and then going to work the next day hungover on no sleep, that’s great. But let’s say your fan base isn’t likely to stick around til 3 AM on a rainy night when they have to get up for work the next day. What do you do, play to an empty room? That’s absolute fucking bullshit. This is exploitation. Fuck you, MEANY Fest. You chose the right name. I gave my other vote to the 1 AM band.

And a little googling afterward uncovered something considerably more revealing: each band that played tonight paid MEANY Fest $40 to play this gig. And that’s bullshit. I predict that within five years, since the only young people who can afford to come to New York now are independently wealthy, clubs are going to start making bands pay if they want to do a show (CB’s Gallery tried to do this with their downstairs space in their last couple of years, without much success).

But til then, there’s absolutely no need for this kind of shit. You want exposure? The promoters put a Tom Waits wannabe back to back with a corporate grunge-pop act, followed by a melodic indie rock band with psychedelic tendencies. Tell me that anybody from the first crowd is likely to stick around for the next band, and so on. Talk about bad segues: it’s Brownie’s, 1999, all over again. That’s no way to build a fan base. At this point in history, bands can play the Dives of New York tour, a new venue every month and never run out of places to play. And the way to build a fan base in New York isn’t by playing live shows, anyway: the new permanent-tourist class here doesn’t have any interest in music, or film, or art, or literature. They’re into what everybody else in New Jersey, or wherever they come from, is into: they watch tv. The only way for New York musicians to reach a wider audience is to reach out to that audience and go where they are. Because musically, artistically or otherwise inclined young people can’t afford to come to New York anymore. You have to go out of town and find the pockets of coolness where these people are hiding. They’re out there, trust me. And they’ll gladly pay a $10 cover and buy your merchandise and regale you after the show about how good you were because you ARE good, especially by comparison to the Clapton wannabes and cover bands which is usually the only kind of live music you can find outside of urban areas.

So forget all the gaudy promises on the website, the prizes, the record deals, the hookers, the blow. Don’t waste your money on MEANY Fest, or Emergenza, or any of these scams. These assholes are just looking to make a buck at your expense. Let’s put them out of business.

October 12, 2007 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, Rant, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Concert Review: Devi at Trash, Brooklyn NY 5/29/07

“I love New York!” exclaimed Devi frontwoman/guitarist Debra. “I’m from Wisconsin, where Friday nights the thing to do was go to Poppin’ Fresh Pies.

And eat pie.”

She and her power trio played with joy and abandon: it was as if they’d just been reprieved from a lifetime at the pie parlor. Tonight it was all about the songs. Maybe it was that Debra – like seemingly every singer in New York this week – had a bad case of allergies and didn’t feel like stretching out. For the most part, instead of getting all wild and psychedelic as they’re tending to do more these days, they hammered out one catchy powerpop number after another. Debra, one of the most exciting, original, virtuosic lead guitarists in rock, did stretch out one of their favorites for jamming, the edgy, anthemic When It Comes Down. First she launched into some blues, then some strategically placed feedback, then started feeling her way through the chorus. Like a cat looking around the house for food, she sniffed at her huge Marshall amp, brushed up against the drums and pawed at her effects pedals. Then, as if returning to a favorite spot by the window, she and the band went back into the song. Like the cat, the solo didn’t really go anywhere, but its insouciant grace was undeniably captivating.

Otherwise, it was nonstop energy, one song into another. They opened with the catchy riff-rocker Another Day and later did a growling, bouncy take on the old Del Shannon hit Runaway. Later, they played a couple of excellent new numbers: first the darkly gorgeous, minor-key, backbeat-driven Howl at the Moon, followed by the funky, sarcastic Miss Indispensable. On a couple of their songs, it was gratifying to see how much of a rapport has developed between band members. Debra led them in a call-and-response (could you imagine a band-du-jour like, say, the Killers playing off each others’ phrasing?), riffing on drummer John Hummel’s pounding tom-tom work as well as the fluid, upper-register melodicism of five-string bassist Dan Grennes.

Hummel’s drums kept scooching toward the front of the stage, which was a blessing in disguise since they were amped way too high in the mix, forcing him to hold back a little and this did a lot to bring the levels under control. While it would have been nice to have heard DeSalvo take a flying leap, swing out past the edge of the cliff and pull herself back with one hand, as she so often does, it was impressive to hear how strong her new songs are. Good to see this excellent, frequently exhilarating band getting some real momentum.

June 2, 2007 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Album Review: Debra DeSalvo – Hoboken Demos

Her first album was called Electric Goddess, and this effort, her second, gets this prosaic title. She got it backwards. DeSalvo is best known as a fiery, virtuosic lead guitarist, a master of touch, tone and shading as well one of the most exhilirating fret-burners around. This cd highlights her songwriting, which falls somewhere between Scout, Neil Young circa Tonight’s the Night and PJ Harvey circa Raw. The songs here jangle and clang, build to catchy, crescendoing choruses and surprisingly don’t have as much wild guitar intensity as one would usually expect from her. The cd’s opening cut Welcome to the Boneyard is a bonafide classic, a gorgeously sad number sung from the point of view of someone beyond the grave. The following track All That I Need is a power pop smash that could be Scout or Patti Rothberg. After that, When It Comes Down (a big concert favorite) is the most guitarishly boisterous of the three. Yet what impresses here perhaps the most are DeSalvo’s vocals: she’s become a terrific singer with impressive range. Fans of the guitar pantheon – BB, Jimi, Gilmour, the Alberts (King and Collins), Debbie Davies, etc. – should not deprive themselves of the chance to get to know her. And for fans of Scout, this will be especially satisfying: DeSalvo has the same casual charisma as that band’s frontwoman A.K. Healey.

DeSalvo is also an author, and a very funny one at that: her book The Language of the Blues is imbued with heaping portions of the laugh-out-loud humor that until recently didn’t usually make it through the poker-faced intensity of her music. She and her power trio Devi (Hindi for “goddess”) play around New York every month or so.

April 30, 2007 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments