Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album of the Day 12/20/10

Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Monday’s album is #771:

Buddy & Julie Miller’s first album

The breakout album by these husband-and-wife Americana music veterans. She writes the songs and sings them; he plays them. Buddy Miller flew pretty much under the radar until he became Emmylou Harris’ lead guitarist in the 90s, and then the cat was out of the bag. With dazzling bluegrass speed matched to an eerie, sometimes macabre chromatic edge, Buddy Miller draws a lot of Richard Thompson comparisons, which is apt. It only makes sense that the duo and their band would open their first album together, from 2001, with a viscerally wounded, alienated version of Thompson’s Keep Your Distance. There’s also an almost unrecognizable, smartly reinvigorated version of the 1971 Dylan song Wallflower, along with a hardscrabble cover of Bruce “Utah” Phillips’ Rock Salt and Nails. The originals here run from wistful – the sad oldtimey waltz Forever Has Come to an End, That’s Just How She Cries and the unselfconsciously gorgeous, rustic Holding Up the Sky – to upbeat and oldschool, as with Little Darlin’ and The River’s Gonna Run. Miller reminds how good he is at ferocious electric rock on You Make My Heart Beat Too Fast. Julie’s vocals are understatedly plaintive and fetching; if you ever get the chance to see these two live, they put on a hell of a show. Here’s a random torrent.

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December 20, 2010 Posted by | country music, lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Album of the Day 8/1/10

Every day, we count down the best albums of all time all the way to #1. Sunday’s album is #912:

The Mofos – Supercharged on Alcohol

Guitarist Gary Siperko (now with the Whiskey Daredevils) fronted this snarling, amphetamine noir surf band circa 2002. Their lone cd is simply one of the most exhilarating albums ever made, a blend of reverb-drenched horror surf, noir soundtrack and Link Wray-style stomps. Siperko is a master of vicious, macabre chromatic surf guitar, all reverb-drenched intensity. The textures here are to die for – layers and layers and layers of distortion and twang and blazing fury – and the tunes are worthy of Big Lazy or Friends of Dean Martinez. Adrenaline usually gets the upper hand here, as on the aptly titled Satan A-Go-Go or the surprisingly poignant, funereal Drag City. The offhandedly titled Dune Buggy War at Pismo Beach is a masterpiece of wild guitar fury; there’s also a punk spaghetti western number, a punk flamenco song and the vicious, chromatically-charged Fuck Art, Let’s Make Money. No song has ever been more ironically titled. And 2 Minutes to Live is one of the few songs we blinked on when we did our Best 666 songs of All Time list – it’s a virtual line of cocaine, one that won’t kill you. These guys probably never made a dime from this but their brilliance will last forever. The album is still available at cdbaby.

July 31, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Debashish Bhattacharya – O Shakuntala!

Debashish Bhattacharya is one of the world’s most extraordinary and innovative slide guitarists. Since the 1990s he’s fused influences from all over India as well as the west, creating a style which is both hypnotic and fiery. Bhattacharya continues to push the envelope: it would not be hyperbole to mention him alongside Ravi Shankar. This new cd follows the arc of an ancient Sanskrit love epic, Bhattacharya playing three self-designed slide guitars and accompanied by three percussionists, Chitrangana Agle Reshwal and Charu Hariharan as well as his brother Subhasis. A blend of trancelike Hindustani sounds, southern ragas and an incisive, western-influenced melodicism, Bhattacharya’s guitars ring and reverberate, often in the style of a sitar. As fast a player as he can be, most of the songs here are warmly contemplative, often plaintive.

Basically, this a love story interrupted: king marries a beautiful woman, they separate but happily reunite at the end. Most of the instrumentals here are long, clocking in at seven minutes or more. Bhattacharya swoops and dives to the lowest registers, then hangs on insistent, anguished phrases, hammering them home for all they’re worth. The individual tracks vividly illustrate the storyline: their bouncy, optimistic central theme; the courtship cast as a stately march; the stormy fire of the marriage ceremony, the pensive evocation of their time apart and their reunion, surprisingly lush and peaceful. When he’s not providing jangly, clanging ambience, Bhattacharya ornaments the melodies with a variety of attacks from wild sitar-inflected lines to some pretty, pointillistic playing that wouldn’t be out of place in bluegrass. The polyrhythms enhance the otherworldliness of much of the album. Cutting-edge yet with an ancient feel, it’s another triumph for Bhattacharya: having won the BBC World Music Award in 2007 and a Grammy nomination last year, he’s having trouble doing anything wrong right now. The album is out in the US right now, due out in the UK on July 13.

July 6, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment