Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Song of the Day 7/25/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Saturday’s song is #368:

Public Image Ltd. – The Order of Death

Brooding Italian movie theme from 1983 with layers of synth over a drum loop, John Lydon intoning the mantra “This is what you want, this is what you get,’ which ended up serving as the album title after guitarist Keith Levene either quit the band or was fired depending who you believe. Some fans prefer the more poignant but less ominous acoustic guitar version from the Commercial Zone lp released by Levene as retaliation in 1985.

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July 24, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Chicha Libre on the Rocks Off Concert Cruise, NYC 5/15/09

There have been more intense, more riveting shows this year but for sheer fun factor, this one tops the charts, a perfect match of band and milieu. Chicha Libre get plenty of ink here because they (at least at this point) seem to be the sole American practitioners of chicha, the intoxicatingly fun, reverb-drenched Peruvian hybrid of Colombian cumbias, American surf music, psychedelia and all kinds of other latin styles. The way Chicha Libre play it, on the surface it sounds a lot like surf music but it’s bouncier and although the music gets pretty dark in places, the band can’t resist taking pretty much anything – Michael Jackson, the Clash, Erik Satie – and doing it chicha style. They did pretty much everything last night. With much of the crowd gathered on the prow, the boat rocked on the waves as it left the harbor, guitarist Vincent Douglas gamely going with the flow and letting his richly twangy chords ring out while the floor shifted.

In two sets and what had to be at least two hours of music, the band mixed obscure chicha instrumentals by los Mirlos, Juaneco y Su Combo (whose anthology Chicha Libre’s own Barbes Records just put out) and others with originals which are arguably even better than the first wave stuff. Who knows, once word gets around and other bands start playing chicha, maybe someday Chicha Libre will be considered a good second wave act something like what the Specials were to ska. Douglas likes effects pedals, this time using a chorus box to add some aptly watery flavor to the title track from their album Sonido Amazonico (ranked in the top three on Lucid Culture’s Best Albums of 2008 list). As usual, the band couldn’t keep from grinning as they intoned “pavane, pavane, pavane” on their chichafied version of the famous Ravel Pavane, turning a requiem into a celebration. Both their versions of the Clash’s Guns of Brixton and Alone Again Or by Love held pretty close to the originals, while Popcorn Andino (a cover of the silly 70s novelty hit by Hot Butter) gave Electrovox keyboardist Josh Camp a chance to build eerily reverberating atmospherics over the rattle and clatter of the two percussionists, Greg Burrows throwing in the occasional big cymbal splash, equal parts high drama and carefree buffoonery. The best songs of the night were two eerie new ones, so period-perfect that it was impossible to tell whether they were covers or originals (one suspects the latter). Finally, on the tongue-in-cheek Hungry Song (also from the album), the band finally cut loose and jammed out, percussion and Electrovox again leading the stampede. 

A word about the cruise: it’s nothing like what you would expect. Since Rocks Off is independently owned and operated, there are no officious ushers or corporate security goons, no garish ad banners and in fact it’s hard to tell the crew from the passengers, since everybody seems to be having such a good time. Disabuse yourself of any horrific memories of freshman year booze cruises or Cancun. This is a different animal, a distinctly New York version. The boat was clean, there was never a wait for a bathroom, no sorority girls passing out, no fratboys bellowing over the music. Just a bracing breeze and Chicha Libre.

May 16, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Song of the Day 4/27/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Monday’s song is #457:

Hot Tuna – Mann’s Fate

Recorded live to two-track in a crowded San Francisco coffeehouse in 1969, this instrumental captures ex-Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady at the peak of their fiery improvisational powers. From the duo’s debut lp; as you’d imagine, there are innumerable versions floating around and they’re all excellent. The link above is a vintage youtube clip from around the time the album came out (although the visuals don’t sync).  

April 27, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Roland Satterwhite – Ptolemy’s Guitar

New York expat (and now Berlin resident) multi-instrumentalist Roland Satterwhite has an enviable resume, perhaps best known for his violin work with Jenifer Jackson and Howard Fishman. An imaginative, melodic player with a terrific improvisational sense, he’s also a songwriter and something of a crooner. This low-key cd – available for free download here – is a rare glimpse of what he does when he’s not playing sideman. Here, he doubles on acoustic guitar and violin, with Matt Kanelos supplying characteristically thoughtful, imaginatively textured keyboard work. Satterwhite’s vocals are casual and quiet as befits a bedroom recording (which this is, although the sound quality is excellent). The tunes are typically pensive, major-key and somewhat minimalist, with an Americana feel always somewhere in the background.  

 

The opening cut Sixty Five sets the tone with an attractive, repetitive fingerpicked guitar figure. Room By Room is a beautiful pop song: “I can’t deny it, I’m better without you, but part of me keeps fighting the truth,” Kanelos’ organ chords sneaking in, methodically warming the room. Pensive piano mingling with guitar arpeggios, George Washington Bridge is darkly inscrutable, drawing the listener in for the story: is this a suicide song or not?

 

After an improvisation with ambient violin and guitar set to an insistent, hypnotic rhythm, the cd’s most overtly Americana song, Louisa follows, just vocals and guitar. The version of Pennies From Heaven here is nothing if not tasteful with its understated optimism and whimsically bluesy violin solo, followed by an all too brief, second improv with a wistful, minimalist, Asian-inflected feel.

 

Indian Ocean is another casually beautiful pop song, a woman matter-of-factly setting off for a new life faraway. The cd wraps up with the tongue-in-cheek, jazz-inflected Angelina, with an obvious Jenifer Jackson influence, and then a third quiet, gently sparkly improv instrumental. Put this on the ipod or the boombox late at night and let your mind wander.

February 4, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 12/5/08

If you’re going out this weekend and wonder where our constantly updated NYC live music calendar went, it’s here. In the meantime our top 666 songs of alltime countdown continues, one day at a time all the way to #1. Friday’s is #599:

Ronnie Earl – Eddie’s Gospel Groove

Although best known for his thoughtfully intricate jazz work, the Boston guitarist got his start in blues and for years worked with Chicago luminaries like Jimmy Rogers. This is his best composition, a startling, ferocious stomp kicked off by one of the great hooks ever. From Language of the Soul, 1994; note that the youtube link above is only a fair approximation of how great this song can get.

December 5, 2008 Posted by | Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music | , , , , , | Leave a comment