Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

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

CD Review: Katie Brennan – Slowly

Her breakthrough album, a quantum leap for multi-instrumentalist/singer Katie Brennan, who is equally adept at the concert harp as at the piano. That’s right; the concert harp, instrument of the angels. But this album doesn’t remotely resemble anything Joanna Newsom has ever done. Instead, it’s a richly melodic collection of lushly arranged, sometimes country-inflected ballads, a terrific effort that instantly vaults Brennan into the upper echelon of current sirens like Eleni Mandell, Rachelle Garniez and Neko Case. The recurrent theme throughout many of the songs is breaking away and starting anew, reflected in Brennan’s voice: many of these songs have a rain-drenched, nocturnal feel to them. Since her first album with her indie rock band the Holy Bones, her vocals have taken on considerable gravitas and nuance: she can still be playful and funny, she still has that soaring range, but she’s reined in that big vibrato that you used to be able to drive a truck through (metaphorically speaking, anyway). The result is an instrument finely attuned to the most minute subtleties in emotion. Credit producer Itamar Ben-zakay (who also plays drums and guitar here) for putting Brennan front and center amidst the often sweeping arrangements.

The album opens with the unabashedly romantic, aptly named title track, Brennan’s piano meticulous against her harp work. The album’s second cut, My Piano picks up the pace a little, with a decidedly defiant, even triumphant feel – the narrator, spinning her wheels in the big city, has made up her mind that it’s time to go back to the country. Grandpa’s Boat follows, its insistent beat reinforcing the lyric, a tribute to resourcefulness.

The best song on the album is the swaying 3/4 ballad La Casa Rosada, spiced with tasteful, incisive acoustic slide guitar accents and a gorgeous acoustic solo from Ben-zakay, with trumpet soaring in the distance:

Forget her and the arms of your loved ones
They don’t belong to the daylight
You have guided yourself much too long
To get lost in the halls of the past

Other standout cuts among the album’s eleven tracks include On His Own, a dead ringer for something from Meddle-era Pink Floyd, with guest dobro and lapsteel player Lenny Molotov’s shimmering, bluesy slide work; the cheery, upbeat Cherry Pie, which could be vintage, 1960s Dolly Parton backed by Gilmour and company; and the big 6/8 anthem If We Were Whiskeys, Molotov again providing gorgeously terse fills throughout. The album concludes with the authentically rustic, oldtimey Drunkard’s Prayer.

As of this writing Brennan – who’s done most of her music here in New York over the past few years – will shortly be returning to her native Seattle. Their gain, our loss. At least we have this great album (and hopefully a return engagement or two) for the memories. The cd is available online and at shows; Katie Brennan plays the cd release show for Slowly at Jimmy’s no. 43 on 7th street between 2nd and 3rd Aves., 9 PM on Friday, May 2.

April 12, 2008 Posted by | country music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment