Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: 18 at Port 41, NYC 2/27/09

It wouldn’t be fair to let the weekend go by without mentioning the kick-ass show that garage/punk rockers 18 put on in the old Savoy Lounge space in Hell’s Kitchen Friday night. They just go by the name 18, as in I’m 18 and I know what I want or 18-wheeler. It works either way. Two guitars, bass and drums, your basic riff-rock, loud, catchy, funny and ferocious. They haven’t played out a lot lately and they have a new bass player, which might explain a lot. Some people might be upset by this, but they’re better than Muck and the Mires and those guys are pretty good at this stuff too.

 

Nice to see a lot of new, unreleased songs in the mix along with stuff from their first album. While they take what they do very seriously, they don’t take themselves seriously at all and it shows in the lyrics: a song titled Superstar, ostensibly and probably sarcastically dedicated to one of their female fans; another rejoicing in the fact that “they’ll never stop making beautiful girls;” a dead ringer for a 13th Floor Elevators tune; and a snarling cover of Billy Childish’s Squaresville. Best song of the night was by drummer Landon Finnerty, a new one called It’s Just a Matter of Time, as in, “I’m gonna get you, it’s just a matter of…” and then they’d jump straight to the chorus. Little touches like that make all those timeworn riffs sound fresh again. As usual, the band was unbelievably tight, they didn’t let up and they played as if they would have gone all night if the club was agreeable. A disarmingly fun way to wrap up a night that had started out on an auspicious note with Special Patrol Group at Arlene’s.

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March 2, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Music Just in over the Transom from 18 and the Violets

18’s debut album is a party record. It’s meant to be played loud. You can sing along to everything on it: it goes better with alcohol. It’s your basic garage-punk riff-rock, played by four guys who know their shit and get it super tight here, eleven tracks of balls-to-the-wall rock n roll. It’s meant to get the party rolling and keep it that way, not to make any kind of grandiose statement. 18’s music is as subtle as a sledgehammer, but there’s no substitute for a sledgehammer when the need arises.

Guitarists Derrick Hilbertz and Bob Cerny, drummer Landon Finnerty and bassist Tucker Capparelli have all been doing this long enough to know how, and it shows on this cd. It opens with the catchy I Wanna Be Touched, followed by the equally memorable Good Time Girl (as in, she’s just a good time girl: guys, don’t get your hopes up). After that, we get Never Gonna Stop (as in, they’re never gonna stop making beautiful girls – no they’re never never never never never gonna stop, isn’t that the god’s honest truth!). The rest of the album sustains the power of the first three tracks, particularly Finnerty’s vividly twisted portrait of an indelibly oldschool Hells Kitchen character, The Duke of New York. They also do a couple of obscure covers including a crunchy rocker called Supergirl and the excellent, tongue-in-cheek Billy Childish song Squaresville which would undoubtedly have been written about Williamsburg had he been living there when he wrote it. The cd ends with the appropriately desperate, amped Mon-Fri. If you have people over at your place to hang out and party on any kind of regular basis, you need this album. Four bagels from Pick a Bagel because they’re big and they’ll sustain you just as this cd will.

And speaking of party music, the Violets have a good new single out that they’re giving away at shows. Shake This Monkey is a simple, direct punch in the face, sounding like a blast from 1978 with its simple, catchy central hook and punk energy. Reputedly they’re a good live band with a commensurate sense of humor.

September 5, 2007 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Concert Review: 18 at Union Pool, Brooklyn NY 8/24/07

The place used to be a pool dealership. Not real pools, but the glorified hot tubs you can see from the air out behind seemingly every single-family home in Queens as you land at LaGuardia. From the looks of it, total market saturation put an end to the original Union Pool. In the same lazy vein as Pete’s Candy Store and Arlene Grocery, when the new owners took over the spot, they kept the name. It was rockabilly central for awhile back in the 90s, the curb outside typically lined with life-size Hot Wheels vehicles, antique Fords and Hudsons from the 40s and 50s chopped and customized to the point where their book value was a tiny fraction of it would have been had the cars been restored or even left in their original junk condition. Now the place is more like Jersey central – or central Jersey. At least that’s how it was at the bar tonight, a bunch of fresh-faced yuppie puppies dancing awkwardly to hip-hop. But out back in the music building, it was like the old days, a decidedly mixed crowd: totally Williamsburg, 1997. We missed the tight, Stonesy cover band the Blue Mountain Dogs and janglerockers Swagg. Guitar/drums instrumental duo Cocaine & Abel were already into their set when we got there, playing what you might call sludgecore, slow, pounding drums and screeching, overtone-laden, nails-down-the-blackboard guitar. When they sped it up lickety-split to 200 BPM, it was just silly, but the downtempo stuff was pretty cool. As more than one audience member said in the courtyard outside, more people would have stuck around had they not been so excruciatingly loud. The room here isn’t tiny like Barbes – it has nice high ceilings and a little balcony in the back – but there’s absolutely no need to lug in a huge Marshall stack like Cocaine (or was it Abel) did. But maybe that’s the whole point of the band.

18 headlined, playing their cd release show, and brought a big crowd. The first thing you noticed about this band is that people were dancing, and in this part of town, that’s frowned upon, as if the Pentecostals had taken over. The next thing that was obvious is that most everybody was pretty drunk. Memo to club owners: this band brings a big drinking crowd. Union Pool just paid next month’s rent with what they made at the bar tonight. Another striking thing is how tight the band was: like a lot of classic punk bands, they’d finish a song and then jump right into another, often without even stopping. Bits and pieces of familiar tunes floated to the surface of their sonic tsunami: TV Eye, Should I Stay or Should I Go, Pretty Vacant, Blitzkrieg Bop. This Williamsburg quartet use the same basic riff-rock building blocks as a million other garage/punk bands before them but then smash them to pieces with uncommon ferocity and skill. 18 is a very democratic band: everybody sings, including the drummer (who happens to be their best singer). They also don’t take themselves seriously at all: “Drank so much I almost drowned,” the bass player deadpanned during his first number. In 18’s world, everything’s either a party or a joke and that’s perfectly ok because we need bands who A) bring the party with them and B) know the difference between telling a joke and being one.

Their best songs were a twisted portrait of a Hells Kitchen character, sung by the drummer; an amusing faux-country song about a “milk-fed girl from out of town” who really loves to eat, at everybody else’s expense, and a snide garage tune called Squaresville, which as the Telecaster player made clear at the end of the song was a Williamsburg reference. They played a long set: wham, wham, wham, one song after another with barely room in between for anyone in the band to even take a hit of beer. Like some of the other bands in our most recent review, they would have fit in perfectly at CBGB, 1981. That’s a compliment. We went to legendary, now vastly overpriced neighborhood greasepit Kellogg’s Diner around the corner afterward for onion rings. If that’s not rock n roll, you tell me what is.

August 26, 2007 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

CD Review: Swagg – The Universe Next Door

Another underground NYC band who’ve taken it to the next level. Nice to hear. Swagg frontwoman/guitarist Nadine Miller has a cool, clear voice and a great ear for harmony, and her layers of vocals here can be gorgeously ethereal, adding a dreampop edge to the band’s guitar clang. This ep blends the fresh, airy sound of early Lush with a propulsive power-jangle attack, driven here by jackhammmer drummer Lanny Finnerty (from standout retro garage rockers 18). The best cuts on this album include its second song, Scientific True Love with its killer chorus, and the ep’s final track, Esmeralda which slowly builds from a haunting major/minor verse and eventually takes flight on the wings of Miller’s soaring voice.

 

Miller is a connoisseur of other people’s songs as well; at shows Swagg have been known to do justice to covers as diverse and iconic as Big Star’s classic September Gurls and the Pink Floyd standby Lucifer Sam. They’re as good and tight live as you’d hope them to be after hearing this album.

April 24, 2007 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment