Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album of the Day 4/3/11

Every day, our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Sunday’s album was #667:

Jefferson Airplane – After Bathing at Baxter’s

The bass player owns this album. Jack Casady’s growling, spiraling climbs, slinking funky rhythm and burning chords defined the Airplane at peak altitude, 1968. Add to that Paul Kantner’s stinging rhythm, Jorma Kaukonen’s crazed, jagged twelve-string leads, Spencer Dryden’s jazz-influenced drumming and Grace Slick’s presence (on the wane at this point) and you have a psychedelic rock classic. Kaukonen’s anxious ballad The Last Wall of the Castle, Slick’s darkly hypnotic James Joyce homage, Rejoyce and Kantner’s ferociously incisive Young Girl Sunday Blues are all great cuts. So is Two Heads, pulsing along on Casady’s bass chords. Watch Her Ride and Wild Tyme are slamming upbeat numbers; The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil a big crowd-pleaser and Won’t You Try/Saturday Afternoon a reversion to the folk-rock of Surrealistic Pillow. There’s also the woozy instrumental Spare Chaynge, which sounds like Jorma and Jack jamming out after way too much ganja, forgetting that the tape was rolling. It was also the last good studio album the band did. Here’s a random torrent.

April 4, 2011 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Album of the Day 12/9/10

Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Thursday’s album is #782:

Country Joe & the Fish – Electric Music for the Mind and Body

Late last July, we were closing out our Best Songs of All Time countdown and decided that we’d do albums next. In order not to bore you, we decided to debut with an “obvious suspects” page listing a bunch of picks that pretty much everybody agrees on – after all, you don’t need us to tell you how great London Calling, or Pink Moon, or Sketches of Spain are, do you? In our haste to get the page up, we neglected this one, in this case because we thought that it’s on the two most popular best-albums lists on the web and we didn’t want to duplicate them. As it turns out, it’s on the “1001 albums to hear before you die” list but not the other one. Country Joe McDonald and his bandmates’ mission on this crazed 1967 gem was to replicate the ambience of an acid trip. It’s by far the trippiest thing they ever did: their other albums have much more of a straight-up folkie or country-rock feel. Maybe because of that, it’s a lot looser and less earnest as well. Most of it has aged remarkably well, even the Grateful Dead-inspired Flying High and Superbird (a snide anti-LBJ broadside). Much of this, like Porpoise Mouth and the hypnotic instrumental Section 43, is unusually carnivalesque and eerie for these guys. Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine is surprisingly subtle and funny; the genuinely haunting Death Sound Blues and way-out-there Bass Strings, with its “did you just hear that” sound effects are anything but. None of us here can vouch for how this sounds under the influence of LSD but the band reputedly tried it and gave it their seal of approval. Here’s a random torrent.

December 9, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Boro 6 Music Festival 2010 – Worth a Trip to Montclair, NJ

Like just about everything here, we’re a little late in getting to this, but last year’s Boro 6 Music Festival included just about every good rock and rock-related style happening outside of NYC. In covering the scene here, we often lose sight of all the other vital scenes outside the five boroughs – based on last year’s festival and this year’s, Montclair is definitely one of them. This year’s festival is four concerts in three days at two venues, starting Fri June 11 at Tierney’s Tavern, 136 Valley Road in Montclair and Asana House, down the block at 127 Valley Road where there will be an all-ages show on Sat, June 12 (Tierney’s is 21+).

Friday’s headliners the Defending Champions are a first-class, high-energy third-wave ska band. Also on the bill; Black Water (feat. former members of the skronky, atonal, amusing Meltdowns) and hypnotically echoey, reverb-drenched Mogwai-ish dreampop/noiserockers the Invisible Lines.

The good stuff starts around nine on Saturday at Tierney’s with up-and-coming retro soul band the One and Nines, fronted by charismatic siren Vera Sousa, with an equally captivating if far darker choice of headliners, the alternately austere and intense guitar-and-violin-driven indie rockers Bern & the Brights. The all-ages show at Asana House kicks off with anthemic veteran powerpop guy Gerry Perlinsky plus the clever, Beatlesque Terry McCarthy, tuneful and fun janglerockers the Sirs (who do a song about a Jean-Paul Sartre play, and another about being goth in high school) and Celtic folk troubadour Niall Connolly.

Sunday’s show opens with the tongue-in-cheek retro 80s Frozen Gentlemen, followed by Copesetic – whose tunefully psychedelic debut last year was a singer short of greatness – then the funky hip-hop groove of Tip Canary, the Porchistas’ fun, country-inflected powerpop (plus they’re bringing free rice and beans for everyone, yum), the similarly Americana-driven but louder McMickle Bros. and then fiery gypsy rockers Kagero to wind up the night on an exhaustingly fun note. Definitely enough good stuff here to make it worth the ride there and back.

June 9, 2010 Posted by | concert, irish music, Live Events, Music, music, concert, rap music, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Song of the Day 8/16/09

Back from the trip, lying low in the heat, more new stuff coming soon – in the meantime as we do every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Sunday’s song is #346:

Love – The Daily Planet

Arguably the best song on the classic psychedelic orchestrated rock album Forever Changes, 1967. Gorgeous janglerock melody and one of the most savagely dismissive, anti-conformist lyrics ever written. As much acid as Arthur Lee was doing at the time, he still managed to find a rare kind of lucidity. The link here is to a live version from late in Lee’s career.

August 16, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 7/29/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Wednesday’s song is #364:

Fairport Convention – Sloth

Richard Thompson once dismissed this as “an instrumental written by the bass player,” and whether it was Tyger Hutchings or Dave Pegg playing on it, the bassline is to die for. Yet ultimately it was Thompson who would always set this psychedelic antiwar epic ablaze. The 1969 studio version is excellent, but of the zillions of live versions out there, possibly the best is on the Live Convention reissue from 1974

July 28, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 5/18/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Monday’s song is #436:

Arlo Guthrie – Presidential Rag

What did Nixon know? In 1974, everybody wanted to know. This was back when Presidents who broke the law were impeached. How times changed over the next thirty years. Over a beautiful, minor-key shuffle tune that grows from wah-wah blues to a lush, orchestrated ballad, Woody’s kid chronicles everything that went wrong during a decade that’s now fetishized in indie rock:

 

People still are hungry

People still are poor

An honest day of work these days

Don’t feed the kids no more…

The schools are still like prisons

Where they don’t learn how to live

And everybody still wants to take

They don’t know how to give….

Hell yeah, you’ll be remembered, you’ll be remembered very well!

 

From his self-titled 1974 lp; mp3s are everywhere. The link above is the song at youtube.

May 17, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CD Review: Bellman Barker – Anise Anisette

This album bounces. A lot. Washington, DC retro popsters Bellman Barker love their 60s British Top of the Pops hits and really have a way with big catchy hooks and harmonies. If you like the Kinks, Beatles, or the Move before they started morphing into ELO, get this album. It starts out with Charles Kil, a bouncy Kinks-ish song with a catchy ba-ba-ba chorus and an old analog synthesizer in places. The guitars go nuts, then they bring it down to just the vocals on the last verse, then the guitars get all big again. The next cut Molly Maroon is driven by fast piano chordal work: it sounds a lot like something the Jayhawks could have done during their Sound of Lies period.  In Their Defense is the closest thing on the cd to the Move, and it’s great, with its rattling drums and clanging, sixtiesish guitar arpeggios sounding like they’re running through an old Vox amp, just at the point where they break up into distortion. Nice big drum pileup on the highway at the end. I Do I Do reverts to sound of Molly Maroon with a lot of piano harmonizing with the guitar. The album’s final track is a surprisingly quiet little fragment. This is a wonderfully catchy, throwback album, an auspicious debut that ought to get the band plenty of college radio airplay. If they sound anything like this live, they’re definitely worth seeing.

January 31, 2008 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Concert Review: Hippiefest at Asser Levy Park, Brooklyn NY 7/26/07

Old hippies tend to skew hard in one of two directions, either totally inspiring or completely pathetic. Think back to the most recent antiwar protest you attended, and who was doing most of the heavy lifting, and who came out in full force: that segment of the demographic is clearly still firing on all cylinders, role models for all of us.

Then there’s the wrinkly, potbellied element lost in the ozone of whatever residual chemicals remain from all the groovy lids and trips they undoubtedly wish they could remember. If they only could remember what it’s like to remember. That element doesn’t come out much but usually trickles out for shows like this one. But not tonight. This free Thursday summertime outdoor concert series has a smalltown vibe, local merchants taking the stage to hawk their wares, the wide expanse of lawn taken up mostly by what’s left of the indigenous white blue-collar community here, local celebrity and longtime New York dj Cousin Brucie Morrow serving as master of ceremonies tonight.

We got there as former Wings guitarist Denny Laine, his voice shot, was wrapping up his set. He and his generic backing band phoned in Go Now (the single he sang with the Moody Blues before he left the band and they got really good), and the edited, single version of Band on the Run, complete with cheesy synthesizer. After what seemed an interminable break, Cousin Brucie going on and on about not much of anything, Melanie took the stage, backed by a young guitarist who may have been a family member: the vocals weren’t coming through very clearly at this point, so it was hard to understand what anyone, Cousin Brucie included, was saying.

While it obviously took Melanie considerable determination to drive down from Brooklin, Maine, past the Whitestone Bridge where she’d burst into tears (she’s from Queens: can you think of any other city, Paris included, that evokes such powerful nostalgia for returnees?), to play the longest set by anyone we saw here tonight, she really shouldn’t have been up there. Her voice is completely gone, and to make matters worse, she tried to hit all the high notes. Watching her struggle and miss the mark every time was viscerally painful. She’s a perfectly adequate acoustic guitarist: why she didn’t capo up her guitar and transpose the songs to a lower key is a mystery. When she did the obligatory version of Brand New Key, she made it abundantly clear that it was not what she wanted to be remembered for, telling the audience how she’d originally conceived of it as a roughhewn, Leon Redbone-style song, blaming her producer for making it fluffy: “Here I am, with silver hair and what am I doing? Cute!” she railed. Though she went out of her way to make it clear that she’d always seen herself as a socially conscious songwriter (which she was), tonight she did the hits, ending with Lay Down, which dissolved in a mess.

Country Joe McDonald was next, also solo acoustic, and got all of three songs. “Gimme an F,” he joked, then did some nice fingerpicking on an excerpt from the 1967 Country Joe & the Fish psychedelic classic Bass Strings. Then he launched into a fiery, sarcastic new song called Support the Troops. “Draft dodging chickenhawk son of a Bush,” he spat, and any preconceptions about this part of town being redneck Rudy Mussolini territory went out the window. The crowd loved it.  When McDonald hit the second chorus, “son of a Bush” became “sonofabitch,” undoubtedly the nastiest word ever to resound from the loudspeakers here, and the crowd was completely energized for the first time tonight. McDonald followed with another recent number,  a sea chantey about saving sea creatures. And then he was done. When Cousin Brucie returned to the stage, it turned out that he’s also against the Iraq war. And that Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz (a craven shill for luxury housing developers) wanted to hear Country Joe do the Fish Cheer! Cousin Brucie always came across as a man of the people, but Markowitz? A complete surprise.

Finally, the Zombies took the stage, just singer Colin Blunstone and keyboardist Rod Argent left from the original band, joined by their very first bass player (who’d returned to the fold in 1969 in Argent’s self-titled project), along with a decent drummer who didn’t overplay and a heavy metal guitarist who unfortunately did. Though it was clear to everyone, Cousin Brucie included, that they were the act that everybody had come out to see, they got all of a half-hour onstage.

It wouldn’t be fair to expect Blunstone, now in his sixties, to have the pretty, airy voice of his youth, and he doesn’t, but he still hit the notes. One would, however, expect the musicians in the band to play the songs pretty much note-for-note with the records, especially considering how iconic their hits have become, but Argent didn’t, and his extemporizing didn’t add anything to the material. They opened with I Love You and followed with a bouncy, aptly bluesy I’ve Been Abused. Then they did Time of the Season, with a long, pointless keyboard jam at the end, followed by Argent’s lone, long top 40 hit, the forgettable stoner riff-rocker Hold Your Head Up.

Their best song of the night was Tell Her No, the chorus just as fresh and memorable as it was when the song was released over 40 (!) years ago. They closed with She’s Not There, the solo at the end unfortunately taken not by Argent but by the guitarist, who failed to ignite the crowd with a grotesquely self-indulgent, excruciatingly long heavy metal wank-a-thon. And then they were done. The Turtles and the Rascals – woops, Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals – were scheduled to play afterward, but even as brief as the Zombies’ performance was, most anything else would have been anticlimactic. So we went over to the beach to see why there’d been a police helicopter circling with its searchlight on during the show (a young girl had happily escaped the clutches of a predator, who’d managed to escape by the time the helicopter showed up).

By the way, if you haven’t been out to Coney Island lately, make sure you do. Developers are salivating over the beachfront, and not that there are enough rich Americans or Eurotrash to buy the whole strip of coastline, but the Russian beach bars, deep-fried bellybomb stands and surprisingly cheap Astroland with its $2 rides will undoubtedly not survive the onslaught. The Mets’ single-A minor league affiliate plays at the ballpark toward the end of the boardwalk, admission is $7 and there’s not a bad seat in the house. The Pakistani taxi driver joint on Ocean Ave. a couple blocks north of Surf Ave. is heaven for hot pepper addicts, and Mrs. Adler’s Knishes a block north of that is still open and delicious. Don’t take this place for granted: it won’t be here much longer, take a long walk along the sand before it’s patrolled by private security from Halliburton.

July 28, 2007 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments