Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album of the Day 2/9/10

Every day, our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Wednesday’s album is #720:

Abby Travis – Glittermouth

Abby Travis is one of the greatest bass players in rock. She’s also a terrific songwriter, in a sultry, sinister noir art-pop vein: she beat the Dresden Dolls to it by ten years. Her solo debut, Cutthroat Standards and Black Pop, from 2000, is the critic’s choice. To be stubborn, we went with this one from six years later. It’s more diverse, and beneath the shiny veneer, just as menacing. The big stunner is Now Was, a towering, Jeff Lynne style art-pop ballad that makes a potent showcase for her breathy unease. There’s a lot of trip-hop here, like Portishead at their creepiest, along with the noir cabaret of Hunger, the gently ominous psychedelic downtempo pop of Chase Me, the big 6/8 anthem Roberto – a goth response to the Tubes’ Don’t Touch Me There? – and the off-center, surprisingly upbeat little goth waltz Shoot for the Stars: “Shoot for the stars, you might land on the moon.” Travis is sister to filmmaker Dave Travis, who has a very auspicious new documentary A History Lesson, about the California punk scene coming out. The album hasn’t made it to rapidshare or mediafire yet as far as we can tell but it’s still up at cdbaby.

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February 9, 2011 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: New Madrid at Shea Stadium 10/2/09

Let the record show that Brooklyn rockers New Madrid did in fact play Shea Stadium and won over a small but enthusiastic crowd – crowds tend to be small, after all, considering how depleted the Mets were this season. New Madrid are a trio right now. They have a guitarist, bassist and a drummer who fronts the band, in the tradition of New Order (when Steve Morris was the singer), Terry Anderson’s OAKTeam and Marmalade (the New York indie pop band, not Ian Matthews’ 70s Britfolk act). Throughout a roughly 45-minute set, it was clear that their recent four-song ep (very favorably reviewed here) was no fluke – they hit you with one catchy, anthemic hook after another, but they deliver them casually and methodically without hitting you in the face with them. New Madrid’s live sound has an overall pensive, thoughtful feel despite frequent and dramatic shifts in volume: let it wash over you and you can get lost in this, as their fans seemed to be doing. One similar band that immediately came to mind was Australian art-rock legends the Church, or, although New Madrid don’t have as much of a deliberately latin feel, Mexican anthem-meisters Jaguares. Their guitarist didn’t waste notes, varying his textures from a seemingly effortless roar to various shades of juicy jangle and clang, his terse, often reverberating fills and accents filling the space. Likewise, the rhythm section was terse and in the pocket – they don’t like to waste notes either. They varied their tempos, from a big, crunchy riff-rocker to several swaying, ominously crescendoing midtempo tunes, one ending with an unexpected and very effectively bracing blast of feedback – if this was intentional, it was resoundingly successful, if not it still brought the sound to a pretty intense peak. And it was quite a contrast with the drummer’s understatedly soulful baritone delivery. This is the kind of band you want to see in the spacious confines of a small club, where you can focus on the subtleties because this crew has plenty. Their next gig is on Oct 9 at 9 PM at the Castle in Hell in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn, 842 Myrtle Ave., G train to Myrtle-Willoughby.

The opening band also made a mark with their catchy 80s gothpop feel. There are still a million Cure wannabes out there, but Demander transcend that label. To say that they’re like Paramore without the cliches is an oxymoron, but try anyway. Their frontwoman stayed within herself and didn’t overemote, the fast new wave beat kept the heads bobbing and their songwriting proved as full of hooks – if not as rocking – as New Madrid’s is.

And if you’ve read this far down, or if you follow the Brooklyn music scene closely, you’ll know by now that the venue where all this happened was actually the remote Bushwick loft space known as Shea Stadium rather than the lovable dump where Seaver, Koosman, Piazza and all the rest played their best years. RIP Shea, and kudos to the crew with the loft for carrying on the name. Memo to the band manager: this headline’s for you, bro.

October 5, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Concert Review from the Archives: Miss Elixir at Rubulad, NYC 6/15/03

[Editor’s note: more new stuff tomorrow. Til then, here’s another oldie but a goodie]

The keyboardist/songwriter now known as Miss Elixir advised her fan base that she’d be performing around midnight: miracle of miracles, a shockingly quick L train made the trip from Williamsburg to the west side in 15 minutes. This time around the venue for this long-running traveling party was the Altman Building in Chelsea, three floors of fire twirlers, circus performers and random vendors selling everything from sweets to what was purportedly absinthe (it was green). It took forever to get inside and negotiate the labyrinthine space, finally finding the stuffy, unventilated, scorchingly hot side room where the performance would take place. Drink tickets for everyone; the singer nonchalantly addressed the audience holding a deuce deuce of Colt .45. There was an ice machine in the back of the room, and one of the clowns (the real kind, like you’d find at a carnival) who was apparently part of the show began throwing ice cubes at everyone, then sprinkling the crowd with ice water. It didn’t take long before everyone joined the fun. Finally, Miss Elixir – the only one who wasn’t drenched at this point – went back behind her electric piano and delivered a brief but frequently riveting show, accompanied by a talented multi-instrumentalist alternating between violin, guitar, accordion and a mini-glockenspiel built into his carrying case. The two played well, making the frequently jarring, horror-movie cascades in several of Miss Elixir’s artsy, pensive, somewhat Siouxsie Sioux-esque songs seem effortless, her vocals unaffectedly calm in stark contrast with the drama and intensity of much of the music. She closed with a pretty pop song that went over especially well with the audience, who persuaded her to do an encore. So she played it again.

[postscript: Miss Elixir still plays the occasional show in and around the New York area]

June 15, 2008 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment