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.

Advertisements

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

Song of the Day 5/16/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Sunday’s song is #74:

Joy Division – Transmission

Manic depression half-masked beneath the layers of mellotron and Peter Hook’s hypnotic bass. Originally the band’s first big UK hit, the studio version (the best one) is on the Substance anthology that came out in the late 80s.

May 16, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 3/14/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Sunday’s song is #137:

The Thought – Rapture

This goth-ish Dutch new wave outfit did two excellent New Order-inflected albums back in the 80s and this is from their second, 1985 self-titled one. It’s a towering, sweeping anthem written from the point of view of a deity who finds himself completely alone, isolated and in the grip of madness. “I live in a penthouse high above creation/See little creatures squirm, out of boredom or sheer frustration.“ The link above is a download of the whole album.

March 14, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Insound Digital Mixtape July 2009

Quick, how many New Order wannabes can you name? This mixtape seeems to have all of ’em, many of them featured at this year’s Seaport Music Festival. If the original wasn’t enough for you, here are the sons and daughters of Bernard, Gillian and Steve (Peter deserves better than most of this because he’s a good musician whose personal taste in music runs far afield of this catchy but mostly derivative stuff). Let’s see what we have here:

 

Black Moth Super Rainbow – Tooth Decay. Vocoder vox, hypnotic 80s synth, New Order meets Midnight Starr – catchy and simple. They’re playing South St. Seaport on 7/24.

Blank Dogs – Waiting (mix 2). Uptight, untight drums, early New Order i.e. circa Movement, when they were a guitar band but with a late 80s shoegaze edge. Could be better, but it has some promise.

Casiokids – Verdens Storste Land demo. Closer to the synthy stuff New Order were doing on Brotherhood and afterward

Dan Friel – Ghost Town Pt. 1. New Order as played on a dollar-store imitation Casio through the bottom-of-the-line Guitar Center brand amp

Here We Go Magic – Fangela. Less New Order than 60s psychedelic pop done demo-style with a drum machine and barely demo-quality vocals. A good guitar band like the Motion Sick could have a field day with this.

Obits – Two-Headed Coin. Catchy 60s bass riff, reverb-drenched 60s garage guitar, kinda noir. Best track on the cd so far. Hmmm…ought to check this band out sometime. They’re at South St. Seaport on 7/31 opening for Polvo, supposedly sometime around 7.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Come Saturday. Total Teenage Fanclub ripoff, i.e. middle-period Jesus & Mary Chain without any balls. The first real dud here. How come of all these bands so far, only the Obits have ever heard of a minor key?

Polvo – Beggar’s Bowl. Now this kicks ass! Hypnotic swirling intro, evil growling leads, a stomping rhythm section and then some eerie slightly Middle Eastern flourishes. And how about that flameout at the end, damn! Were these guys the best guitar band of the 90s or what? Sounds nothing like New Order either. They’re at South St. Seaport on 7/31.

Ribbons – Inclusion. OK, back to the New Order wannabes, at least this has some passion and some percussive guitars. New Order play Television maybe.

School of Seven Bells – Face to Face on High Places. Arty, kinda 4AD, ornate synth giving way to trebly, minimal Bernard-style guitar, then the synth comes back. So unoriginal. At least they’re not ripping off Pearl Jam.

Slow Club – It Doesn’t Have to Be Beautiful. Rich white kids with a drum machine taking a pitiful stab at bluegrass. Barf.

Superchunk – Misfits and Mistakes. Yawn, booooring. Strictly for 35-and-overs who miss hearing this garbage at college parties in the 90s.

Versus – Eskimo. Not their best song (Fontaine wrote most of their real good ones) – this is just a simple poppy riff over and over again until suddenly the eeriness kicks in. But then it’s gone. Fast forward…

The Wave Pictures – Just Like a Drummer. Oh jeeeezus…a 30-year-old guy singing like he’s 13. And he uses the word “hipster” in a way that might not be a slur. Puke. Next…

Zaza – Sooner or Later. OK, back to the New Order…or maybe Clan of Xymox. This is nice – swoopy, minor-key synth, incisive electric piano and now a little rhythm guitar.      

 

So here’s what you get for free (download it here for the next week): three solid hits, a bunch of ok-to-good stuff and only three real duds. Plus you can dance to most of this. Burn the best of this for your kid sister to help wean her off the Jonas Bros.

July 9, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: C. Depp – Belle Epine

His tour de force. At this particular moment, Invisible Friend frontman/guitarist C. Depp has a franchise on quietly creepy, minimalist rock, foreshadowed on his band’s excellent 2006 release, Precinct 9. This, his latest solo album also includes his bandmates Andrew Malenda and Lispector on guitars, keys and assorted electronic blips and bleeps. Stylistically, there are hints of Smog, Mark E.’s solo work after the Eels, and late 80s Pulp during their Little Girl With Blue Eyes phase. Depp’s deadpan delivery heightens the strange, ominous mood, leaving the listener unsure if he’s just kidding around or dead serious. The title is apt – “belle epine” translates from the French as “beautiful thorn”. This is a beguiling and very unsettling album.

Depp wastes no time getting started: traffic passes by, and a siren wails ominously in the distance on the intro to the cd’s first song, Wolf Whistle:

Sister I need you
To answer a few questions
I don’t want you to cry
But I need you to help me
Some bad folks got out
And hurt some innocent people
…we will protect you, protect you, protect you,

Depp intones casually over a catchy, backbeat-driven janglepop melody. The cd’s following cut, Central Parc features attractively jangly electric guitar tracks and what sounds like guy/girl harmony vocals. But you can never be sure with this guy: that’s the beauty of this album. After that, The Where & the When sets eerie, tinkly electric piano atop atmospheric washes of string synth. The cd’s scariest cut is the all-too-brief Shyshy: “I’m shy,” Depp sings in almost a whisper, layers of vocals doubled and recorded just out of sync enough to give the listener pause. “If you really knew about me you won’t ask why.”

Other impressive cuts on the album include the skeletal, reverbed-out A Prayer for Hope for Forgiveness, sounding like one of the minimalist tracks on Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. The brief Fate Will Free Will imaginatively plays two separate vocal tracks with different lyrics against each other. The Mancunian dirge Ghost Self wouldn’t be out of place on New Order’s first album. And, Why We So Far Apart, Lover? – simply vocals and guitar – displays tinges of French varietes music. Depp is a big Cat Power fan and although this album doesn’t sound much like her, he sometimes indulges in painful, honest revelations, although more elliptically than she does.

Malenda’s production is amazing: with ample but judicious applications of reverb, he gets these bare-bones narratives to sound like they have something approximating a full band behind them without overproducing or sinking into slickness. Depp is nothing if not prolific, and Invisible Friend promises to begin playing out again since Depp has returned from a brief sojourn in Paris. Surprisingly, he can be a very funny onstage. The cd is available online and at shows. C. Depp plays the Creek and the Cave in Long Island City on May 25 at 9 PM.

May 15, 2007 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment