Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album of the Day 6/11/11

Every day, our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1.Saturday’s album is #598:

The Jayhawks – Sound of Lies

Wounded angst has never sounded this romantic – or tuneful. From 1997, it’s the Minneapolis band’s most rock-oriented record, their only real classic. It’s frontman Gary Louris’ record all the way through, rich with jangly guitars, judicious piano and crystalline, three-part harmonies, more Beatles or Big Star than Nashville. The Man Who Loved Life is a majestically bittersweet homage to living intensely. They match that towering, angst-ridden ambience with Sixteen Down, Think About It, Haywire and the gorgeously sad foreshadowing of Trouble. Big Star manages to blend unbridled hope and cynicism, with a big, tongue-in-cheek guitar break. The most stunning track here is Dying on the Vine, a crushingly intense theme for anyone who’s ever been rejected, Marc Pearlman’s insistent, staccato bassline anticipating Louris’ pessimistic lyric: “I’m dying in the shadows.” The quieter tracks include the irresistibly bouncy It’s Up to You, the vicious Poor Little Fish (a dis for a spoiled bitch), drummer Tim O’Reagan’s bucolic Bottomless Cup and the pensive title track. Here’s a random torrent.

Advertisements

June 11, 2011 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Marianne Dissard – Paris One Takes

Sometimes the best albums are the hardest ones to explain. For example, Marianne Dissard’s new one, Paris One Takes (available as a free download here) has been in heavy rotation here at Lucid Culture HQ for over a month. Everybody loves it – for Dissard’s sultry, breathy, angst-laden vocals, the charm and bite of her French lyrics, and the exuberant intensity of the band. Stylistically, up-and-coming New York chanteuse/bandleader Kerry Kennedy is the obvious comparison. Recorded live in the studio, the album collects songs from Dissard’s acclaimed debut album L’Entredeux as well as from the forthcoming L’Abandon, scheduled for release late this year. It’s a very smart move on her part: not only does it win her new fans, it’s great PR. Guns & Roses sue anyone who leaked their album, but Dissard wants everyone to share her songs. That’s how you build a fan base these days.

Dissard’s best known as a French singer who specializes in southwestern gothic rock: she’s actually a Tucson resident who moved there to make a documentary film about Giant Sand. Although there’s a strong noir cabaret influence here, this is most definitely a rock record, a potent document in itself in that this is Dissard’s road band, tight and inspired, still buzzing from the energy of a European tour. They take the coy “choc-choc” bounce of La Peau Du Lait (Porcelain Skin) and thrash it, following with the creeping menace of Le Lendemain (The Day After), a co-write with longtime collaborator Joey Burns of Calexico (Dissard memorably sang the female vocal on Calexico’s cover of John Cale’s Ballad of Cable Hogue several years ago). The scurrying Les Draps Sourds (The Blinds) evokes Piaf at her most frantic, spiced with Olivier Samouillan’s bracing rai-flavored viola and Brian Lopez’ reverb guitar. Merci de Rien du Tout/Flashback (Thanks for Nothing) mines a catchy yet brooding Velvet Underground vein.

With a cynical, snarling guitar-fueled edge, Les Confettis (Confetti) reminds of Dylan’s When You Go Your Way and I Go Mine. Shifting and mixing styles, the band make ominously hallucinatory desert rock out of the anguished 6/8 cabaret ballad Indiana Song, and follow that with the stomping garage-rock abandon of Trop Exprès (Too Obvious). Sans-Façon, a beautiful lament, evokes the Jayhawks circa Sound of Lies, while It’s Love, written by drummer Sergio Mendoza, reminds of Botanica in a particularly pensive moment. Other tracks add echoes of Steve Wynn and electric Neil Young to Dissard and Burns’ brooding melodies. Definitely one of our favorite albums of 2010 and an auspicious sneak preview of Dissard’s next one. Sometimes the best things in life really are free.

June 24, 2010 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tom Shaner Live at Lakeside, NYC 1/18/08

Tom Shaner has been playing weekends at Lakeside a lot lately, which is a great place for him. He writes subtle, catchy, generally upbeat and very smart Americana-inflected janglerock, sounding something like the Jayhawks without the melancholy or Steve Wynn in a breezy moment. With his old band Industrial Tepee he ventured into a lot of Southerwestern gothic, and there’s still plenty of that in his writing. His more upbeat songs generally have more focus than his slower, meandering stuff. He sings in a casual, conversational voice and gets great press: he needs this review like a hole in the head. But you should get to know him. Shaner was one of the many great mysteries in this city this evening, when hordes of people were willing to drop thirty bucks to see the latest poser du jour at the Gramercy or Webster Hall, while Shaner played to a midsize crowd, for free, in the back room at Lakeside. Some things just don’t make sense.

He and his backing trio opened with the bouncy Sister Satellite, dating from his Industrial Tepee days, lead guitarist Tom Clark taking a gorgeously clanging, tremolo-filled solo that was an omen of even better things to come. Shaner then did a couple of newer numbers set to a reggae beat. The drummer seemed unrehearsed, and obviously the one-drop is not his thing, but he was game, building to a tasty Jim White-style eighth-note crescendo, running all the way around the kit on the first of the two songs.

Gathered away from the stage were a gaggle of ex-sorority types, their lacrosse muscles gone to fat, eyeing Shaner like cats in a butcher shop. “You can’t be louder than the band, that’s rule number one,” Shaner gently admonished the crowd, but the posse of trendoids around the Ms. Pacman machine were oblivious as the band launched into the quietly swaying, countryish Industrial Tepee lament Rosalie. A lot of New York artists lately have been writing some pretty excoriating anti-trendoid songs, and the new one Shaner and band played tonight – perhaps titled She’s an Everyday Hipster – was subtler than most, quietly railing against the “parade of drama queens” surrounding some nameless indie rock diva.

On the fast, driving Waiting for You, Clark took the first of two blistering, spectacularly fast solos, the most potently adrenalizing display of musicianship we’ve seen all year. The band closed with Industrial Tepee’s big crowd-pleaser, Groove Queen, a ridiculously catchy, bluesy number that wouldn’t have been out of place on the Wallflowers’ first album (i.e. their really good one). That this guy isn’t a household name testifies to the sad state of the music business, not to mention what’s happened to the music scene here in recent years. At least the guys at Lakeside get it.

January 19, 2008 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment