Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Top Ten Songs of the Week 1/19/09

Most people aren’t aware of this dirty little secret (maybe not even Kasey Kasem), but American Top Forty wasn’t ever really any kind of barometer of how popular a song was, how well it sold or how many times it was played (we’re using the past tense here since it’s been years since there’s been a good song on the top 40). Rather, it was a creature of the corporate record labels, whose PR machines and their payola determined who’d end up where. Since we only have a quarter of the energy and no payola money, here’s the Lucid Culture weekly top ten, which likewise has no bearing on popularity or sales or spins, it’s just another one of our fun lists, a way to help spread the word about what’s happening out there. All the links here except for #1 and #9 are links to the actual songs (#1 and #9 being unreleased at the moment – you’ll have to go to the show to find out how good they are).

 

1.  The Brooklyn What – Gentrification Rock

Get used to seeing the Brooklyn What at the top of the charts here for awhile – if this was back in the day when there were lps full of hit singles, their new cd The Brooklyn What For Borough President would have a whole bunch of them. This one isn’t from the album – it’s a big, fiery, sarcastic riff-rocker, unreleased as yet, and a staple of their live show (they have a lot more material than you think). They’re at Trash on 1/31 at midnight.

 

2.  The New Collisions – Caged Us Kids

These Boston new wave revivalists are the real deal, frontwoman Sarah Guild’s sly, absolutely indomitable vocals soaring over biting, edgy guitar and an equally indomitable rhythm section. If their myspace is any indication they should be great fun live. They’re at Arlenes on 2/12.

 

3.  Abby Travis – Now Was

Hired-gun bass player (she’s played with everybody from Beck to the Bangles) whose strongest suit is her songwriting, lush and pensive with an almost lurid noir cabaret style that sometimes takes on a nuevo-glam feel. And her voice, warm and compelling like a young Sally Norvell. She’s at the Delancey on 1/22 at 8:30.

 

4.  La Fleur Fatale – Gigantic Boredom

Killer retro 60s folk-rock with Farfisa organ and a nice Strawberry Alarm Clock style solo from these Swedish revivalists. It’s on their cd available for free download here.

 

5.  Coconami – Sheena Is a Punk Rocker

Two Japanese girls with ukeleles doing a Ramones cover. Totally deadpan, of course. Too funny. They’re at Joe’s Pub on 2/1 at 7.

 

6.  The Voxys – Dirty Protest

Gorgeously fiery, jangly 60s rock with a classic garage vibe from these high-energy Irish rockers. They’re back here in town on 1/22.

 

7.  Community Gun – Wasted

Sounds like vintage Uncle Tupelo (or, as New York fans might say, American Ambulance) – country gone hardcore with a good sense of humor. Thse guys also have a mean, bluesy Tom Waits streak. They’re at Spikehill on 2/3  

 

8.  Demolition String Band – Wisteria

Beautifully twangling, guitar-stoked Americana from one of New York’s finest, a tribute to the hardy plant that even grows “on the hills of Jersey City.” They’re doing one of their Americana Family Jamboree shows at Rodeo Bar on 1/25 at 3 PM which is a very sneaky way to get kids listening to good music so when they hear Miley Cyrus or Nickelback for the first time, they’ll know that it’s shit.

 

9.  The Snow – Undertow

With Melomane in limbo, this crew have become frontman Pierre de Gaillande’s main focus and they’re just as good. This one is singer/keyboardist Hilary Downes contribution, a typically smart, imaginatively tongue-in-cheek lyric with a shape-shifting melody and gorgeous vocals. Unreleased, but they play it live. They’re at Barbes on 1/22 at 8.  

 

10.  The Paul Carlon Octet – Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out

Give a listen to this characteristically smart, tongue-in-cheek version and then try saying it doesn’t sound a whole lot like Let’s Go Get Stoned. This is the kind of fun this big Ellington-inspired latin jazz crew comes up with all the time. They’re at Drom on 2/6 at 9.

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January 20, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: La Fleur Fatale – Night Generation

A big, ambitious effort by Swedish rockers la Fleur Fatale, part retro garage, part big anthemic Britrock, 90s style. Think Oasis, middle of the decade, when they were still putting out good tunes (and ripping off the Beatles at every turn), or Brian Jonestown Massacre in a particularly lucid moment. La Fleur Fatale distinguish themselves from those two bands by ripping off as many and probably more old groups than the both of them combined, but then that’s a garage rocker’s job, to evoke the guitar-fueled glories of bygone eras. By that yardstick, la Fleur Fatale succeed smashingly, with tunesmithing that’s consistently good and often downright excellent. The production does a good job simulating the big-room sound that was all the rage toward the end of the major-label era.

Three of the songs here work off a simple riff-driven melody given the atmospheric treatment a la BTM, the cd’s first cut opening with a suspicious similarity to the Strawbs’ Queen of Dreams (hey, at least these guys really know their source material). I Wanna Be Adored isn’t a Randi Russo cover; rather, it’s a plaintive, mostly acoustic pop ballad. Children of Neon Lights works a Lady Madonna style piano intro followed by synthesized flute into a neo-Oasis anthem. Sunshine Underground has galloping bass and big slashing chords a la Pete Townshend flying over a mellotron, again building into a catchy third-generation Beatles chorus. With its California Dreaming style 12-string guitar intro, Swift Flash of Mind builds to a propulsive, bounding minor key vamp. The oddly titled Gigantic Boredom isn’t boring at all, bright with a 60s folk-rock feel and Farfisa organ,and a nice Strawberry Alarm Clock style solo. The cd winds up on a 90s vibe with another Oasis ballad, a glammy second-generation riff-rocker and a midtempo piano pop song.

Throughout, the musicianship is excellent: everybody in this band can really play. Lyrically, it’s pretty much what you would imagine – give the band credit for singing in unaccented, clearly understandable English. Best thing about this cd is that it’s free, download it here
and enjoy!

January 13, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment