Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Illimanjaro Boils Over in a Good Way

It’s always fun to discover a band as absolutely unique as Illimanjaro. They play a lot of punk and ska shows, but they venture out a lot further than either of those styles. For one, they’re a rare drummer-led rock band, joining the ranks of New Order (on the first album, anyway), Terry Anderson’s OAKTeam, New York rock en Espanol stars New Madrid and of course Moulty & the Barbarians (Phil Collins doesn’t qualify as rock, and anyway he doesn’t play drums anymore, does he?). On their new album Boiling Point, Proph the drummer supplies lead vocals – with bass player Furious George taking over on the sixth track. Pep, their guitarist is a one-man guitar army and a master of a million styles, from ambitious Tom Morello-style metal/funk, to 70s art-rock, to punk, blues and reggae. The songwriting is creative, switching from one style to another in a split-second; the energy level is through the roof. There’s definitely a Rage Against the Machine influence, but Illimanajaro are a lot more psychedelic (and interesting, when you think about it), with tinges of dub and even latin sounds.

The first track is hip-hop over a fiery funk/metal groove and an eerily atmospheric, psychedelic guitar interlude. The eight-minute epic Danger twists and weaves like a cruiserweight, through a surprisingly poppy, catchy chorus, a Santana-esque passage and then down to the rumble of the bass and drums – and then another another endless wall of cumulo nimbus guitar. And then it segues into a woozy but bracing dub-metal instrumental. The fourth track, Born to Believe starts out with a jagged late 80s indie/noiserock vibe, like Sonic Youth at their most focused and then morphs into slashing late-70s chorus-box powerpop with a searing, period-perfect bluesmetal guitar solo. The next song, White Girl Living in Bushwick is a slow jam, a real surprise, dedicated not to a gentrifier from Boca Raton or Lake Wayzata, but to a girl who grew up a little further out in Brooklyn, in Sheepshead Bay who now calls Bushwick Bill’s old turf her home.

The kiss-off anthem 6th Time Around takes a Sabbath-style riff and makes funky dub out of it, like an artsier version of the Bad Brains. The band end the album by taking a stab at making art-rock out of singsongey Warped Tour punk/pop. So many flavors, it’s insane. Illimanjaro’s next gig is at four in the afternoon on the Hell Gate stage at Astoria Park, Hoyt Ave. South and Ditmars Blvd. in Astoria this Saturday the 24th; their next one after that is August 6 at the Silent Barn in Ridgewood.

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July 21, 2010 Posted by | funk music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: New Madrid at Crash Mansion, NYC 4/3/10

New Madrid have really taken their live show to the next level. Entering to the thundering strains of a cd of Also Sprach Zarathustra, they hit a jarring chord in a completely unrelated key and then proceeded to pummel the audience with one darkly catchy, stomping anthem after another. There is no other New York band who sound like them which is probably because A) being a bilingual/rock-en-Espanol band, they’re the furthest thing from “indie” and B) they seem to draw more on European or Mexican influences. Their shtick is that their drummer stands and sings, and he welcomes the chance to come out from behind the kit. This time around he’d shut the band down for a pregnant pause, sticks between his teeth, waiting for a reaction (something he could do a little less frequently – or else this time he was just in a particularly boisterous mood). He’s a good player, too, going four on three during two jarring, extended crescendos during one of the set’s last songs. The guitarist is eerie and noisy, like Daniel Ash but with better chops, at one point taking a solo that sounded like Saul Hernandez trying to channel Beefheart. Their bassist has a tough job, as much a part of holding the runaway train to the rails as the drums, and he delivered, at one point carrying the song with boomy intensity while the drummer took an eerie suspense-film solo on the toms.

Most of the material in the set seemed new, other than the tensely staccato anthem Soberano (Sovereign). The best song of the night saw the guitarist employing the most macabre, watery effect you could imagine: on top of that, he’d bend the notes at the end of a phrase with his tremolo bar for even more sepulchral quaver and goosebumps. The big audience hit seemed to be a fairly simple, somewhat glamrock number entitled Kill; another new one, possibly titled Crazy Lady was aptly menacing, with a grittily noisy, offhandedly intense guitar solo out.

Another way to tell that New Madrid is on to something good is how they managed to clear the fratboys out of the room. Almost imperceptibly, a much more intelligent-looking, diverse and considerably less obvious crowd gathered at the front of the room as the khaki-and-poloshirt contingent stumbled back toward the bar. The only drawback about the show was that the club put them on over an hour and a half late. While the idea of putting rapper/accordionist Julz A and his guitarist pal on a second stage in the back was imaginative, and their songs were enjoyable, it didn’t help New Madrid or their crowd to be standing around aimlessly for minutes on end waiting for the signal to start.

April 4, 2010 Posted by | concert, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Concert Review: New Madrid at Shea Stadium 10/2/09

Let the record show that Brooklyn rockers New Madrid did in fact play Shea Stadium and won over a small but enthusiastic crowd – crowds tend to be small, after all, considering how depleted the Mets were this season. New Madrid are a trio right now. They have a guitarist, bassist and a drummer who fronts the band, in the tradition of New Order (when Steve Morris was the singer), Terry Anderson’s OAKTeam and Marmalade (the New York indie pop band, not Ian Matthews’ 70s Britfolk act). Throughout a roughly 45-minute set, it was clear that their recent four-song ep (very favorably reviewed here) was no fluke – they hit you with one catchy, anthemic hook after another, but they deliver them casually and methodically without hitting you in the face with them. New Madrid’s live sound has an overall pensive, thoughtful feel despite frequent and dramatic shifts in volume: let it wash over you and you can get lost in this, as their fans seemed to be doing. One similar band that immediately came to mind was Australian art-rock legends the Church, or, although New Madrid don’t have as much of a deliberately latin feel, Mexican anthem-meisters Jaguares. Their guitarist didn’t waste notes, varying his textures from a seemingly effortless roar to various shades of juicy jangle and clang, his terse, often reverberating fills and accents filling the space. Likewise, the rhythm section was terse and in the pocket – they don’t like to waste notes either. They varied their tempos, from a big, crunchy riff-rocker to several swaying, ominously crescendoing midtempo tunes, one ending with an unexpected and very effectively bracing blast of feedback – if this was intentional, it was resoundingly successful, if not it still brought the sound to a pretty intense peak. And it was quite a contrast with the drummer’s understatedly soulful baritone delivery. This is the kind of band you want to see in the spacious confines of a small club, where you can focus on the subtleties because this crew has plenty. Their next gig is on Oct 9 at 9 PM at the Castle in Hell in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn, 842 Myrtle Ave., G train to Myrtle-Willoughby.

The opening band also made a mark with their catchy 80s gothpop feel. There are still a million Cure wannabes out there, but Demander transcend that label. To say that they’re like Paramore without the cliches is an oxymoron, but try anyway. Their frontwoman stayed within herself and didn’t overemote, the fast new wave beat kept the heads bobbing and their songwriting proved as full of hooks – if not as rocking – as New Madrid’s is.

And if you’ve read this far down, or if you follow the Brooklyn music scene closely, you’ll know by now that the venue where all this happened was actually the remote Bushwick loft space known as Shea Stadium rather than the lovable dump where Seaver, Koosman, Piazza and all the rest played their best years. RIP Shea, and kudos to the crew with the loft for carrying on the name. Memo to the band manager: this headline’s for you, bro.

October 5, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CD Review – The Debut EP by New Madrid

Fiery, artsy, adrenalizing, original rock from Brooklyn. New Madrid have two guitars, bass and drums, purposeful lyrics that alternate between Spanish and English and a relentlessly tuneful melodic attack. There seems to be a 90s rock en Espanol influence although there’s definitely a classic art-rock vibe going on too. The first track, Soberano (Sovereign) is dramatic, with drums one step removed from We Will Rock You on the intro before they launch into flamenco-inflected rock with echoes of the theatrical Mexican outfit El Tri: “Lead us through the night!” This one sets the stage for the rest of the tracks, capped with a casually savage, layered electric guitar outro.

Track two, Vesicant is funky like Rage Against the Machine at their most Sabbath-esque but more tuneful: “My hate could last forever…I’ll kill you with my own hands.” Again, there’s a fat sunbaked bluesmetal solo. The third cut, Pure starts out as a trip-hop ballad with sparse, reggaeish bass, building to a swaying anthem with a twin guitar solo and then gracefully back down again. The ep ends with I’ll Find My Way, fast and anthemic, the poppiest track here. They hit a quick crescendo and then they’re out. Proof that there’s just as much great stuff as there is shit coming out of Brooklyn. If this ep – available for free download at the band’s myspace at the link above – is any indication then they probably kick ass live. New Madrid play the Cameo Gallery out back of the Loving Cup Cafe in Williamsburg on August 15 at 9.

July 8, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments