Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review from the Archives: Supergrass at Irving Plaza, NYC 5/29/97

[Editor’s note: it’s been awhile since we reached back for one of these. Occasionally, when we need to put up some new content and we don’t have anything current, it’s time to dig into the dusty Lucid Culture archives for some long-forgotten live show which could be anywhere from completely transcendent to walk-out dreadful. This one falls somewhere in between.]

The sound system blasted the Buzzcocks before the band went on, somewhat appropriately for these cheeky British lads. They opened with their new keyboardist holding a tritone (the devil’s chord), a nice touch. They settled in and so did the audience: early on in the set, it was something akin to an ideal concert experience, perfect sound, the air conditioning working fine and a crowd that wasn’t oversold with sweaty bodies rubbing up against each other, unease turning into hostility. Live, Supergrass ultimately comes across as a step above a topnotch opening band. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to differentiate between their riff-driven 60s garage rock (populist/cool) and their equally derivative 70s (corporate/insipid) influences. At one point, they did a loud, pointless cover of Kenny Rogers’ I’m Just Checking In to See What Condition My Condition’s In. Most of the best stuff was songs from their first album including Caught by the Fuzz, which went over especially well with the audience, as well as Lose It and the last of the three-song encore, the singalong Strange Ones. Their new stuff alternates between tastily organ-driven songs which could be Fleshtones b-sides, and more overtly commercial material, Led Zep lite, which also lean heavily on organ and string synth. Still, a fun if not entirely overwhelming show.

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May 29, 2008 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: The Lost Crusaders – Have You Heard about the World

Brothers and sisters, are you ready? I said ARE YOU READY? For the NEW gospel sound of the Lost Crusaders. This is the real deal, ecstatic, often exhilarating. It will redeem your soul whether you are a believer or you just like to dance. Fans of Rev. Vince Anderson will love this album. Some of the songs here blend 60s soul stylings with gospel, others are sort of gospel punk, with a handful of straight-ahead garage rock tunes. This is an incredible party record, something akin to what JSBX (or Blues Explosion, or whatever they’re calling themselves now) is to classic 60s garage rock. In case you might be suspicious, it’s not camp. It’s just a bunch of NYC garage rock types who love vintage 60s gospel and prove they can play it as well as any church group out there. Frontman Michael Chandler holds nothing back, his hoarse, gravelly vocals impassioned and inspired. As with all good gospel bands, this album has a very propulsive rhythm section, Brian McBride on bass and Joey Valentine on drums. Don’t let the religious nature of the lyrics scare you off: this is a celebration of the spirit in all of us, atheists and Christians alike. You can dance to this. The production, by Dean Rispler at Dead Verse Studios in Union City, NJ is impressively authentic, sounding almost like a vinyl record.

The album opens with the title track, a fast major key vamp that gleefully welcomes the apocalypse, with cool solos from Johnny Vignault’s guitar and ex-Fleshtone Steve Greenfield’s baritone sax. The next cut I Don’t Ask Why is even faster, call-and-response with the women in the choir, crunchy guitars spiced with Jerome Jackson’s tasty Hammond organ in the background and a nice solo out. I Wonder What Ever Happened has a killer 2-guitar intro, evoking Country Joe & the Fish in a particularly woozy moment at the end of their good period, 1970ish with a good long harp solo after the second chorus reminiscent of the late, great Knoxville Girls. The following cut, There Used to Be a River is an environmental cautionary tale – “it couldn’t outrun the hand of man” – garage gospel built on a descending progression on the bass. With a long, killer reverb guitar solo from the Fleshtones’ Keith Streng and Chandler’s ominous croak, it could be something from the recently reunited Electric Prunes.

After that, Wasted on the Wind is a Knoxville Girls or Gun Club soundalike with a great baritone guitar solo. Planted by the Water is a fast gospel vamp, piano and organ plus crunchy guitar and a fiery chromatic harp solo. Laura Cantrell’s sweet, soaring vocals channel Kitty Wells on the beautiful, slow Too Late, Matt Verta Ray’s lapsteel coming in and out like a string section.

Other standout cuts on the album include Whose Name Will I Call, with a Stagger Lee boogie kind of feel, and the fast, joyous Where Did It Go whose protagonist trades in his booze and drugs for the holy spirit, rejoicing in having found a new way to get high. Wow. What a great album. Five bagels. With a glass of communion wine. CDs are available at shows, online and in Europe on Everlasting Records.

April 15, 2008 Posted by | gospel music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Die Hipster Scum: Simon and the Bar Sinisters Live at Lakeside, NYC 4/12/08

Simon Chardiet surveyed the packed house at Lakeside last night. “I’m always amazed that you come out,” he told the crowd.

“Because you’re good, Simon,” somebody in the back murmured. Understatement of the year. Chardiet and his rhythm section are a New York institution: they’re been playing as Simon and the Bar Sinisters since 1991. Chardiet isn’t just one of the best rock guitarists in town: he’s one of the best rock guitarists in the world. When you hear Simon, you know it could be nobody but Simon. Playing with his signature growly, distorted tone, he alternated between the big, expansive chords he loves so much, fast, precise chicken-scratch staccato solos and some awe-inspiring surf, rockabilly and jazz work. He’s a musician’s musician, the kind of player who, just for kicks, would take the time to score the entirety of The Planets by Holst for bass (true story).

He’s also extremely funny. “Never mind real estate, the oil companies, defense contractors: when it comes to craven greed, nothing matches mine,” Chardiet told the audience. “Somebody told me that I could make money being a guitar player,” he mused sarcastically as a young woman made the first of three trips through the crowd with the tip bucket. Someone had recently asked to be taken off his email list, offended by one of Chardiet’s famous anti-yuppie screeds, and in removing the guy, Chardiet accidentally deleted his entire email fan base. “Don’t sign the mailing list if you can’t handle sarcastic humor. I don’t mean to offend anyone, I just want to tell the truth,” he explained, and there was no sarcasm in that. Although along with his cds, he was also selling “Die Hipster Scum” bumper stickers, a welcome concept, especially in this day and age.

Chardiet may have assimilated every worthwhile retro guitar style ever invented, but ultimately he remains true to his punk roots. As wickedly smart and witty as his music is, his songwriting has all the good fun, fearlessness and in-your-face antagonism that made classic punk rock so great. Tonight it took him awhile to warm up, but once he got rolling he and the band were unstoppable. The surf interlude in the middle of the set was the best part of the show, all original songs, beginning with a surprisingly wistful, nostalgic one possibly titled Mr. Pickle, then a scorching, chromatically fired tune that wouldn’t have been out of place on a Dead Kennedys album. He took a few requests, including the amusing Bad Boy, an expansively jazzy, torchy tune about a lunatic. Later, he dedicated a rockabilly number to Eliot Spitzer: “I can’t believe this guy…I never paid more than $5 to get laid in my life” Then he changed the lyrics at the end of the verse into “I’m leaving town, gonna get me a $5 whore.”

Toward the end of his long set (over an hour and a half), he and the band played one of his best songs, the ruefully sarcastic rockabilly number Wooden Nickel, about meeting someone who doesn’t exactly turn out to be as advertised, using it to address first the women, then the men in the audience, leaving everyone in stitches (Chardiet’s comedic timing is just as spot-on as his playing). The rhythm section was excellent: the drummer is a hard hitter, but he swings like crazy; although he was playing bass guitar, the bassist frequently slapped at it, as if playing an upright bass, to create a boomy, low tone on the rockabilly songs. They’re back at Lakeside on May 10: be aware that since this band is very popular, you need to get here early if you want a seat. Lakeside shows usually start around 11 on weekend nights, but Chardiet would probably play four sets if they let him. Expect the festivities to start around quarter after ten.

April 13, 2008 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This Band Will Kick Your Ass

What a great discovery. On their absolutely scorching new ep Cooler Than Your Boyfriend, Chicago power popsters the Romeros blast in with a BIG anthemic sound, an absolutely relentless twin guitar attack. They love Big Catchy Hooks. Cheap Trick is the obvious comparison, but without that band’s frequently cloying, dweeby vibe. They also evoke Stiff Little Fingers at their cheeriest and catchiest. Thirty years ago, they would have had a slew of AM radio hits – and that’s a compliment. The Romeros understand that hit songs are simple and catchy: after all, you don’t walk around all day with a Joe Lovano solo running through your head. The album kicks off with Tonight, almost like a slower oi-punk song with a pop feel, like something you would have heard at CBs circa 1980. It’s simple and catchy, maybe echoing what you’d hear on the Saints’ first album, with a simple but effective guitar solo then back into the crunchy chorus with tasteful lead licks on the way out. Wow!

Big in Japan isn’t a cover of the Alphaville hit: it’s another anthem with a sardonic lyric about a band not being able to make it big where their obvious audience is. It sounds like it’s a big crowd-pleaser. Love Notes is fast over a bed of acoustic and electric guitars: it sounds live, maybe better that what they’d be able to do with it in the studio since they completely cut loose with the vocals. I Could Never Take, another live recording, is a blistering rocker. The band sounds completely drunk, and better off for it. The lead player does a goosebump-inducing slide down his low E string with his guitar pick as the first couple of verses crescendo into the chorus. The guitar solo is straight out of the Ron Asheton songbook, a lot of over-the-edge bluesy licks that go absolutely nowhere, but it completely fits the song: absolute pandemonium.

Can’t Hardly Wait is another live track, very mid 80s, like the DBs with balls. Nice completely over the top heavy metal ending. Somebody to Shove is yet more live stuff, nicking its intro from some 80s song (somebody tell us what!!!) with a furious, pounding chorus, the closest thing to SLF they do. Some of their lyrics sound like an afterthought, but that’s not a big deal: this band is all about the hooks. Yet further proof that the best things in rock are happening outside of New York right now. Chicago has long been known for killer party bands and these guys are as good as they get. These guys offer a really cool deal: not only can you get the ep, you also get the “gift pack” which includes a Romeros t-shirt PLUS another bonus disc of live tracks, bootlegs, acoustic demos, basement tapes and rarites along with pins, stickers and a poster for your bedroom door for the obscenely low price of $7! If that’s not fan-friendly, nothing is. What a great way to get to know a totally kick-ass band. CDs are available online and at shows.

March 22, 2008 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment