Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album Review: Smoothe Moose Mixtape #3 – We Love Video Game Music

While you were hunched over the xbox, the mysterious Smoothe Moose crew were busy in their smoky Brooklyn lab concocting a soundtrack for your alternate-universe adventures that’s as cool as it is funny. What they’ve done is taken four video game themes, actually all of them from classics that were either arcade or Nintendo games back in the 80s, and recorded dub versions of them. What hits you right away is how good that music was, even if it was coming out of a tiny, cheesy mono gameboy speaker. Click the link above and get a free download.

A Boy and His Blob, by Smoothe Moose’s Cosmo D and Dr. Thunder, gets the avant garde treatment, with a cello. It goes all spacey when they bring in the phaser, then it’s all blips and bleeps again. Ghouls and Ghosts, by Big Words gets a funky guitar treatment with shuffling triphop drums. This is actually a great song – it would make great surf music. No surprise, considering it’s a Japanese game from 1988. Castlevania is the one here everybody knows: the version by Cosmo D’s Sauce is a sick cyborg gypsy dance with a bop jazz sax solo. The Metroid theme that wraps up the mixtape is just plain good jazz, transformed into what could be an echoey dub version of an early 70s Herbie Hancock theme from one of those 4 AM local channel movies. Amidst all the sonic mayhem, there are good solos from cello, sax and especially the guitar. It’s really funny listening to how ornate this is in contrast to the original game’s lo-fi graphics. As the crew states on the download page, “We love video game music. We hope you’ll listen and be transported back to a different time when the drinks were lemonade and the food was Dunkaroos. Enjoy!”

We’ve been late on picking up on these guys’ mixtapes in the past: we reviewed their first  just when they were getting ready to release their second one (also a free download), and by the time that one was out we were halfway into the hibernation mode that lasted until last month here. The one we missed is some serious, far-out dub, an ambitious, high-energy joint featuring the MK Groove Orchestra’s horn section plus the lush vocals of jazz chanteuse and Bjorkestra frontwoman Becca Stevens. There’s a pretty straight-up version of the Junior Byles classic Curly Locks, which is especially cool considering how crazy the guy is; a sultry Billie Holiday-dub version of We Three by Wayne “The Train” Hancock; a sort of Uptown Top Ranking version of the 80s Chaka Khan cheeseball Ain’t Nobody, and deep space dubs of a Don Carlos and a Thom Yorke song. Stoner heaven.

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February 24, 2010 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Ten Songs of the Week 9/21/09

We’ve been doing this every Tuesday – to cut down on the workload here while we attend to some infrastructure things, we meant to suspend the feature for awhile. Before we do, here’s this week’s top ten. As always, you’ll see this week’s #1 song on our 100 Best 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. Every link here will take you to each individual song.

1. Bobby Vacant & the Weary – Never Looking Back

So far this is the best single song we’ve heard this year, a defiant look back on a checkered past. Suits us just fine. From the new cd.

2. The Joel Plaskett EmergencyDrunk Teenagers

We’re late in picking up on this snide classic by the Canadian powerpop rocker. He’s at  Union Hall on 10/15.

3. Karine Poghosyan with the Kokolo String Ensemble – Haydn F Maj. Piano Concerto

The fiery pianist with an equally inspired chamber orchestra behind her.

4. Sarah Lov – Tell Me How

“It is all I ever feel, like nothing good is ever real,” she laments over a catchy Aimee Mann-esque midtempo anthem. She’s at Union Hall on 10/16 at 8.

5. Izzy and the Kesstronics – Hanging Death Waves

Izzy from Uncle Fucker on guitar plus a sax and rhythm section playing weird funny surf/garage/roots stuff. They’re at Beauty Bar in Bushwick on 9/27 at 9ish.

6. String Driven Thing – Suicide

Every now and then we run across a classic like this. This is from a reunion concert by the 70s art-rock cult favorites sometime in the 90s, a bitter, somewhat brutal graveside scene for a dead rocker:

The T in contract

The I in empire

The M in muzak

The E in Ex-Lax

The S in suicide

7. Erin Hill – Girl Inventor

Classical harpist who sounds absolutely nothing like Joanna Newsom playing psychedelic pop.  More like Kate Bush actually.

8. The MK Groove Orchestra – MCP

Woozy, inventive groove-driven big band jazz. They’re at Spikehill on 9/26 at 10.

9. Kulu Kulu GardenTaking the Tray Away

Danceable Japanese noise-rock with a real screamer on vocals, cool stuff.

10. Don’t Give Small Money Chance Brass Band – It Is Raining

Brooklyn big band playing horn music from Ghana! Pretty wild.

September 23, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment