Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Vespertina Kills the Lights on the Bowery

In their New York debut at Bowery Poetry Club last night, Vespertina took the stage late. Was there an equipment malfunction? No, their string quartet were busy putting on their masks: evil, feline, woodland sprite faces. Frontwoman Lorrie Doriza went without one, as did her collaborator, a producer who goes by the name of Stoupe (from brilliant, socially aware hip-hop group Jedi Mind Tricks), standing to her left running ominous, lushly orchestrated backing tracks that sounded like something off a Wu-tang record circa 1996. There is no band in the world who sound anything like them, nor was there any respite from the intensity in their 45 minutes onstage. Doriza has one of those voices that comes along every ten years or so: from the point of view of someone who saw Neko Case in 1999 and Amanda Palmer a year later, she’s in the same league. There are other singers who have an equally impressive range, or an upper register just as powerful, but the most impressive thing about what she did is that she didn’t lapse into a single cliche all night. As the strings and the loops blended into a horror-film backdrop, the gleeful menace, and wounded angst, and rage, and sultriness in Doriza’s voice was so real it was scary. If those are characters she plays, she owns them.

Those girls are tortured. They want one thing, and that’s escape, beginning with the Girl in the Basement, the twisted waltz (and first single off the band’s new album The Waiting Wolf) that opened the show. That set the stage for the rest of the set. The only respite from the macabre was the closing number, a lushly arranged goodnight song that wouldn’t be out of place in the Abby Travis catalog, which relented just a little. Otherwise, the minor-key menace would not let up, and they managed to maintain the suspense because Doriza wouldn’t go completely over the top. When finally, finally, she let out a scream, it was a little one. Of course the laptop guy looped it and sent it back into the mix, echoing over and over – but in the distance, which made it all the more disturbing. One of the early songs in the set began like an aria, but quickly backed off. “Take me out,” Doriza implored – not on a date, one assumes. “She’ll be knocking down your door, burning down your home…nothing like a woman scorned,” she sang coldbloodedly on a tango-tinged song a bit later on.

The next number – like most of them, set to a prerecorded trip-hop beat – began with “You’ve been having trouble sleeping” and by the second verse it was “You’re having trouble breathing.” After that, the band got all atmospheric and trippy, slowly emerging from the abyss into a stately 6/8 anthem: “I’m not stupid – I just don’t care,” Doriza sang, desperate yet nonchalant. “You can’t escape me,” was the next song’s mantra, followed by “I’m running out of patience.” During the early part of the show, the string arrangements were too low in the mix; when they came up about a third of the way into the show, it was obvious how they’d been assembled to provide an artful lead track of sorts over the stuff that was in the can, which the ensemble delivered seamlessly yet emphatically beneath Doriza’s wounded wail. Count this as one of the best concerts of 2011, hands down – if the album is anything like this, it must be amazing. They’re playing the one town on Long Island that suits them best – Amityville – on May 29 at a place called Ollie’s Point.

Advertisements

May 12, 2011 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Ten Songs of the Week 7/6/09

We do this every Tuesday. You’ll see this week’s #1 song on our Best 100 songs of 2009 list at the end of December, along with maybe some of the rest of these too. This is strictly for fun – it’s Lucid Culture’s tribute to Kasey Kasem and a way to spread the word about some of the great music out there that’s too edgy for the corporate media and their imitators in the blogosphere. Pretty much every link here will take you to each individual song.

 

1. Marty Willson-Piper – Sniper

The Church guitarist has a career-best solo album just out (very favorably reviewed here) and this is its centerpiece, a towering anthem about the ethics of assassinations. Not what you might think. The Church are at Irving Plaza on 7/8, tix still available.

 

2. Moist Paula – Your Singlet

Haunting and hypnotic, something probably from the great underground composer/baritone saxist’s cinematic Secretary project.

 

3. Painted on Water – 1000 Faced Man

Eerie Doorsy art-rock by this innovative Turkish-American group.

 

4. Dagmar – Secret Agent Men

Harmony-driven dark pop with a noir cabaret feel. They’re playing the cd release show for their new one at Caffe Vivaldi on 7/15 at 8.

 

5. Heather & the Barbarians – Kiss Me or Kill Me

Slow snarling country song. They’re at Spikehill on 7/8 at 9.

 

6. Kendra Smith – Heart & Soul

Joy Division cover by the legendary ex-Dream Syndicate bassist. Most Joy Division covers suck. This one doesn’t.  

 

7. Dan Berg & the Gestalt – Minty Bembe

Real cool song – part latin jazz, a little gypsy feel over a hypnotic African groove.

 

8. Reverb Galaxy – Balkan Stomp

Self-explanatory surf rock madness. They’re playing on the Coney Island boardwalk at 4 PM on 8/15.

 

9. Lorrie Doriza – Elle, en Nuit

Magnificent piano-based art-rock. Wow – check out those high notes.

 

10. Mustard Plug – Waiting Room

Very much better-than average ska punk with horns with a little Hawaii 5-0 feel

July 7, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Ten Songs of the Week 3/9/09

We do this every Tuesday, in the tradition of Kasey Kasem for the acts we’ll probably never see, or didn’t get the chance to review when they were in town, or just discovered somewhere because they’re cool or they’re funny, or just reviewed and can’t stop listening to them. Enjoy. All the links below will either take you to the song or to the band’s site.

 

1. The Oxygen Ponies – Love Yr Way

 

I sold my soul for education

Every day I pay the debt

My entire generation

Better find a tourniquet…

When they hang this message bringer

Blood will rain down through the floor

 

Opening cut on the long-awaited Harmony Handgrenade album, coming in May.

 

2. Escarioka – La Nueva Era

Fast, furious, spooky ska en Espanol sounds like Maldita circa 1995! They’re doing a benefit on 3/21 at 7 PM at Revolution Books 146 W. 26th between 6th and 7th Ave.

 

3. Lorrie Doriza – Girl in the Basement

Noir cabaret with a touch of Kate Bush and a little gospel in the voice.

 

4. Graham Bonnet – Whisper in the Night

This histrionic bellower used to front wanky late 70s metal acts like Rainbow and the Michael Schenker Group. Believe it or not, this is a youtube clip of an actually serviceable cover of the classic, haunting Roy Wood song from ELO’s first album. Who knew he had it in him.

 

5. The War on Drugs – A Needle in Your Eye 16

Philly band. This song has an anthemic nuevo Dylan/Byrds feel – imagine if Simon Joyner could sing. They’re at Union Hall on 3/30.

 

6. Jonathan Coulton – Tom Cruise Crazy

A song that needed to be written. He’s at Symphony Space on 3/27 at 9ish. 

 

7. Mames Babaganush – Kojak Cecek

The Copenhagen klezmer rockers’ motto is “klezmer killed the radio star.” This wild Balkan instrumental has a delirious Gogol Bordello feel to it.

 

8. Wheeler’s Cloud – It’s a Fact Jack

Steely Dan ripoff – funny – right down to the percussion.

 

9. I’ll Be John Brown – Cover Song

This is sort of Golden Shower of Hits for country bands. They’re at Ace of Clubs on 3/26.

 

10. Des RoarThe Watchers

They nick the classic blues Baby Please Don’t Go and turn it into evil garage rock. And here’s a sweet live clip for their classic Ted Bundy Was a Ladies Man. The band is at Vanishing Point on 5/2.

March 10, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment