Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Top Ten Songs of the Week 2/2/09

So you thought there wouldn’t be any hit parade this week, huh? This is the late edition. All these links are for the individual songs with the exception of #1, which is on an album you should own.

 

1. The Brooklyn What – No Chords

We’re going to keep hitting you with great songs by this kick-ass band, just like what we’d be doing with the Clash if this was 1978 and the blogosphere existed back then. This one’s a quiet, funny, brutally satirical number about gentrification and trendoids from their new cd The Brooklyn What for Borough President. They play 2/20 at Red Star at 11; the intriguing and fun Delusions of Grand St. open the night at 9.

 

2. The Megitza Quartet – Boleritza

Haunting, gypsy-flavored instrumental suite from this kick-ass Chicago band. 

 

3. The Quavers – Ride You Home – trippy and creepy with a weird trip-hop feel. Here’s a free download

 

3. The Dream Academy – Mordechai Vanunu

An old song from 1985 (occasionally we might feature something this old if it’s worth it and we just discovered it, as we did in this case), basically just frontman Nick Laid-Clowes and his acoustic guitar doing a tribute to the great Israeli peace activist who was behind bars at the time for divulging Israel’s atom bomb secrets. 

 

4. Brian Kramer – Pause

The excellent blues guitarist is appropriately oldschool: Press pause and then rewind. Who says white guys can’t play blues. 

 

5. The 4th Street Nite Owls – Jerry the Junker

One of the first and best of the oldtimey revival bands here in town, still going strong. This is an update on the Minnie the Moocher theme.

 

6. Anistar – Longa Nikriz

Long, haunting balkan/klezmer dance from this amazing multistylistic band. They’re at le Poisson Rouge on 2/5.

 

7. Alec Berlin – My Baby Likes to Eat

So politically incorrect it’s hard to believe it exists at all. Don’t listen if you can’t handle humor that pokes fun at women and lesbians. It’s all in good fun. He’s at Arlene’s on 2/11.

 

8. The Tarantinos NYC – Monte Carlo Nights

A total ripoff of the surf classic Man of Mystery, but with that swirling organ it’s irresistible: this is a band that by rights shouldn’t even exist at all, but somehow they make it work.

 

9. Red Rocket – Red Rocket

Delicious noir soundtrack jazz from this Irish group, a side project of the similarly inclined Rocket who play Barbes on 2/25.  

 

10. Erin Hill – Blue Slide

Psychedelic pop with a singer who plays concert harp. Sounds absolutely nothing like Joanna Newsom

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February 3, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Concert Review: The Megitza Quartet at Drom, NYC 1/28/09

Wednesday’s show by the genre-blending Chicago group the Megitza Quartet at Drom matched passionate intensity with innovation, roaring through an impressively varied series of arrangements incorporating elements of Balkan, Brazilian, tango and flamenco music. Frontwoman/bassist Malgorzata Babiarz used every bit of mystery she could summon from her dark contralto, with a subtlety that became all the more striking on the few occasions she reached back, turned up the volume and wailed. Acoustic guitarist Andreas Kapsalis showed off a fiery, lightning-fast, flamenco-inflected attack contrasting with accordionist Marek Lichota’s fluidly melodic runs while drummer Jamie Gallagher hung tastefully in the background, then rose to nail several split-second crescendos without a millisecond to spare.

 

They kicked off the set with a minor-key bossa nova number that morphed in a second into a rousing Balkan dance, Kapsalis pounding on the body of his guitar and delivering lickety-split yet surgically incisive flamenco fills. Their next song was a catchy dance tune that maintained the flamenco feel, like the Gipsy Kings for a more sophisticated (or more indigenous) audience. Babiarz then put down her bass as the band brought it down for a rather subdued, wistful take of the title track from their new cd Boleritza, building to one of the few dramatic vocal crescendos she took all night.

 

The most spectacular song of the night was a Kapsalis original, an open-tuned guitar instrumental titled Ethnic Cleansing. Chopping his chords furiously for a hypnotic, ringing effect, he built the song to a ferocious three-chord descending progression on the verse which was then interrupted by an equally hypnotic drum interlude. From there the band took it back for a long return trip through the verse and then that amazing chorus again. The crowd didn’t know what hit them.

 

Then Babiarz picked up her bass again for another dance number, vocalese swirling and blending with Lichota’s accordion. They breezed into a slinky, accordion-driven musette-inflected number that suddenly went doublespeed, and closed with a plaintive Polish folksong  – “This comes from the mountains where I come from,” Babiarz told the audience – that started rustic and haunting before a seemingly endless series of permutations, rising and falling without warning, fueled by a catchy bass hook played on the guitar. The band is currently on tour: Chicago fans can look forward to a free show on Feb 27 at the Chicago Cultural Center.

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments