Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: Cudzoo & the Fagettes at Arlene’s, NYC 2/26/10

It’s hard to imagine a New York band right now who are more fun than than Cudzoo & the Fagettes. As one of the band members said Friday night at Arlene’s, it may have been snowy outside but it sure was hot inside. This group really pulls out all the stops, putting on a fullscale spectacle. While a screen was being set up in the corner, the mic stands each stood erect between a pair of big pink balloons. Juvenile as the visual was, it was impossible not to laugh. Meanwhile, a pretty girl wandered through the crowd handing out free raffle tickets (more on that later).

Dressed in matching pink sequined dresses, the band’s three frontwomen – the fearlessly bodacious E-Bomb and her cohorts J-Train and Mamrie – took the stage while a montage of old newsreel footage, complete with blaring, martial orchestral music, played on the screen. A voiceover began: “The world’s a fucked up place. War in the Middle East. A recession with no end in sight. Global warming. Wife-swapping. Very large, unhealthy fast-food portions.” Luckily, Cudzoo, “those sassy, sashaying little sweethearts out of Astoria, Queens” had arrived to spread their “brand of glitter and whiskey fun.” All of a sudden, their album – which we reviewed last year – started to make perfect sense. Funny as it is, it’s a soundtrack: the experience isn’t complete without the show.

Their first song bitchslapped sorority girl-style conspicuous consumption: the ditz doesn’t want her parents to know that a “dirty Mexican” knocked her up, but when she gets the abortion she gets the fetus goldplated and suddenly it’s bling. J-Train sang the hilariously weird You Beat the Shit Out of My Heart, which may or may not be a cautionary tale about S&M. A new one, Walk of Shame was even funnier, a girl waking up with poo-poo mouth, gum in her hair and having to fight strollers on the sidewalk in order to get home incognito. Another new one about the pros and cons of friends with benefits was their one semi-thoughtful number; they also did tributes to fingerfucking, sleeping with a guy’s siblings, and a rapidfire hip-hop song about breasts on the subway. That one’s open to audience participation – if you can come up with a rhyming couplet about seeing boobs on the train, bring it to the next Cudzoo show.

The grand prize winner of the raffle was a guy. He sent his girlfriend, Jenny, up to collect her prize. The band leered at her, sat her down onstage and proceeded to give her everything but a lap dance (Mamrie nibbled her ear lasciviously) while serenading her with a newly lesbian version of Drummer Boy, E-Bomb’s come-on to her favorite kind of musician. Jenny took it all bravely but the second the song was over, she bolted (Jenny’s boyfriend may also be single now). Meanwhile, the “drunkest working band in New York City,” the Fagettes stood deadpan behind the action, doing their lo-budget garage-pop and pseudo-Ramones thing and staying out of the way. That seems to be what they’re supposed to do. Actually, bassist Lorenzo Potenzo, platinum-haired drummer Dr. Eviller and the guitarist didn’t look drunk – but the front line did, particularly E-Bomb, who’d obviously been pregaming.

They closed with a phony country song, a girl getting revenge on her ex by blogging about his “tiny penis and lack of class,” and then the self-explanatory punk-pop My Boyfriend’s Got a Boyfriend. Before they left the stage, they fired off a couple of tubes of glitter into the crowd. The front rows were cannon fodder: they didn’t have a prayer.  By now it was a little after one in the morning –  the crowd screamed for an encore but didn’t get one. We’ll leave it to the Village Voice to talk about how these women speak truth to power about sexual politics – what’s important is that last night, Cudzoo got the whole house laughing, Democrats and wrong-thinkers alike.

February 27, 2010 Posted by | concert, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Song of the Day 9/10/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Thursday’s song is #321:

The Jam – Down in the Tube Station at Midnight

Evocative account of an encounter with a gang of neo-Nazis from All Mod Cons, 1978, back in the day when the London tube was a lot more dangerous. Bruce Foxton’s bass scurries along like a tube train…or a bunch of thugs who’ve just left their prey – a guy on the way home to his wife with his takeaway curry – lying in a pool of blood.

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

CD Review: Shonen Knife – Super Group

To twist an already twisted album title even further, every Shonen Knife has a blog who loves them. Seriously – how can you not love Shonen Knife? Since 1980 the all-girl Japanese band’s blissfully catchy lo-fi punk-pop has been a fixture of college radio playlists and party mixes around the world. They even toured with that annoying, doomed grunge band who started the fad, and blew that band off the stage night after night. This new album, just out on Good Charamel, finds the band as fun as ever. Say what you want about their wobbly tempos (on this record, they’re actually pretty good), the fact that after all these years, nobody in the band has been able to master the English language, or that guitarist/bandleader Naoko’s chops have always been just barely sufficient to play what she writes. But she’s a walking encyclopedia of rock. There doesn’t seem to be a style she can’t lovingly appropriate and make her own, especially when she’s making fun of it. Punk pop, janglerock, psychedelia, metal, country, you name it, she puts her own devious spin on it. This new edition of the band features Naoko and drummer Etsuko joined by touring bassist Ritsuko who is now a full-fledged member of this Super Group.

As usual, the lyrics aren’t the easiest to understand, with characteristically Satie-esque song titles and even stranger subject matter. The title track is a characteristically sunny punk-pop number, Ritsuko nicking a familiar Bruce Foxton bassline – they’re all excited because their favorite band’s coming to town! The second cut has a garage punk feel: the Slug in the title has escaped his plastic bag. “Oh my goodness!” A Sabbath parody, the third track isn’t as laugh-out-loud funny as the classic Buddha’s Face (from the Brand New Knife album), but it’s still great. What’s most striking is how sincere and smart Naoko’s solo is – until she decides to make it hilarious.

Deer Biscuits aren’t something you step on – they’re what you feed to the deer at the park. This one’s a country song, but through the prism of the Beatles (think Act Naturally), stiff and completely tongue-in-cheek – it is impossible to hear this song and keep a straight face. Other songs return to the garage rock vibe, evoke the Smiths and then revisit the band’s trademark punk-pop. And their cover of Jet by Wings beats the original hands-down, right down to Naoko’s perfect replication of Jimmy McCullough’s silly solo. When the band sings “I thought the major was a lady suffer-a-gette,” it’s obvious that they don’t know what that means any more than the guy who wrote it. The best cut on the album is actually the bonus track at the end, Evil Birds, a strikingly bracing, eerie psych-pop number. The whole thing is a party in a box, and a great present for someone who thinks they know a lot about music – they’ll know more after they hear this.

Upcoming New York dates are at Santos Party House on Oct 16 and Brooklyn Bowl on Nov 17. Here’s the rest of the tour schedule:

10.17.2009 –

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

10.18.2009 –

Horseshoe Tavern

Toronto, ON

10.19.2009 –

Magic Stick

Detroit, MI

10.20.2009 –

Bottom Lounge

Chicago, IL

10.21.2009 –

First Avenue & 7th St Entry

Minneapolis, MN

10.23.2009 –

The Badlander

Missoula, MT

10.24.2009 –

Tractor Tavern

Seattle, WA

10.25.2009 –

Biltmore Cabaret

Vancouver, BC

10.26.2009 –

The Nightlight

Bellingham, WA

10.27.2009 –

Doug Fir Lounge

Portland, OR

10.29.2009 –

Rickshaw Stop

San Francisco, CA

10.30.2009 –

Blank Club

San Jose, CA

10.31.2009 –

The Cellar Door

Visalia, CA

11.01.2009 –

Uptown

Oakland, CA

11.02.2009 –

Echo

Los Angeles, CA

11.03.2009 –

Casbah

San Diego, CA

11.04.2009 –

Plush

Tucson, AZ

11.06.2009 –

Sam’s Burger Joint

San Antonio, TX

11.07.2009 –

Fun Fun Fun Festival

Austin, TX

11.08.2009 –

Numbers Nightclub

Houston, TX

11.10.2009 –

Spanish Moon

Baton Rouge, LA

11.11.2009 –

Hi Tone

Memphis, TN

11.12.2009 –

The E.A.R.L.

Atlanta, GA

11.13.2009 –

Plaza Bowl

Richmond, VA

11.14.2009 –

Maxwells

Hoboken, NJ

11.15.2009 –

Great Scotts

Allston, MA

11.16.2009 – 8:00 pm

Johnny Brenda’s, 21+

Philadelphia, PA

buy tickets

11.17.2009 –

Brooklyn Bowl

Brooklyn, NY

11.18.2009 –

Mohawk Place

Buffalo, NY

September 7, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, Reviews, Science | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Song of the Day 8/21/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Friday’s song is #341:

Angie Pepper – Last Chance

Frontwoman of Australian new wave legends the Passengers – still active as an acoustic trio – Angie Pepper remains one of the world’s most potently captivating voices, perhaps even more compelling than she was during her band’s brief late 70s/early 80s heyday. This song was written by her husband, Radio Birdman mastermind Deniz Tek, originally released on Tek’s Orphan Tracks lp, 1988. When she finally drops her tightlipped composure and cuts loose at the end of the song, she will give you chills: “This might be your last chance!”

August 20, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Ten Songs of the Week 7/13/09

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. Ian Hunter – Man Overboard

At age 70, he’s the oldest guy to ever top the “charts” here – and this may be the best song he’s ever written! The fiery, anguished 6/8 anthem is the title track to his brand-new cd.

 

2. We Intersect – Let’s Gentrificate

Fast 2/4 Interpol-ish stuff but with bite and venom. They’re at Small Beast at the Delancey on 8/24.  

 

3. Andrea Wittgens – Cardboard Cutouts

Very smart songwriter/keyboardist in the Greta Gertler vein. She’s at Spikehill on 7/30 at 11

 

4. Chronikill – Drinking on a Tuesday

This hip-hop trio claim to “put the funk back in functional alcoholic.” Self-explanatory and funny. They’re at Bowery Poetry Club at 10 on Oct 9

 

5. Sophie Auster – Away

Noir janglerock from this artsy chanteuse with a big dramatic voice. She’s at Caffe Vivaldi on 7/31 at 8.

 

6. The Erotics – Gas Chamber Barbie Doll

NY Dolls style glam punk, self-explanatory. They’re at Trash Bar on 7/31 at 9.

 

7. The Bombshell Betties – Cherry Lips

Sassy punk pop from this promising all-girl Staten Island group.

 

8. Katie Ballou – Save My Children

Rustic Appalachian-style antiwar anthem. She’s one of the guitarists in the Bombshell Betties.

 

9. John Batdorf – What’d Ya Got

Kinda folkie, but hang in there with this one – the very contemporary lyrics pack a James McMurtry-class wallop

 

10. Crowds and Power – The Viscount of Discount

Cleverly lyrical Britpop.

July 14, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Song of the Day 7/7/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Tuesday’s song is #386:

The Reducers – Fistfight

New London, Connecticut’s finest export is this fiery, long-running quartet whose 80s heyday saw them as a sort of a cross between the Jam and 70s British pub rock bands like Ducks Deluxe, putting out several generally excellent albums. Fueled by the twin guitars of Hugh Birdsall and Peter Detmold and Steve Kaika’s busy, melodic, Bruce Foxton-esque bass, this is their greatest shining moment, a blisteringly catchy look at smalltown anomie and its consequences. From Cruise to Nowhere, 1985. The band still performs frequently in southern New England.

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

Song of the Day 5/13/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Wednesday’s song is #441:

DollHouse – No Babies for Bonnie

Bonnie can’t have babies because every time Bonnie got pregnant, she had an abortion. And now it’s too late. New York noir songwriting at its best, part savage punk sarcasm, part genuine angst over a catchy minor-key melody punctuated by bassist Frankie Monroe’s soaring low-register lines, the band’s contrapuntal, four-part harmonies absolutely macabre: “No babies, no babies, no babies!” From a rare ep circa 2000. Frontwoman Lisa Lost would go on to become the doyenne of New York vocal coaches; bassist Frankie Monroe is still active, most recently backing Jamaican-American reggae/pop songwriter Newsville Washington.

May 13, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Ten Songs of the Week 5/11/09

We do this every week. 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. Every link here will take you to the song.

 

1. McGinty & White – Knees

Savagely lyrical kiss-off anthem from the duo’s excellent debut cd, possibly the only song ever written that fondly (sort of) eulogizes CB’s Gallery. Gotta love that Love Is the Drug outro. They’re at Bowery Electric on 5/21 at 11.

 

2. Overlord – The Daily Oblivion

Better than the New Pornographers – plus they have Kerry Kennedy in the band!

 

3. David Bridie – Going Out with the Enemy

Smart Aussie rock songwriter – this one sounds a bit like Midnight Oil.

 

4. Sr. Misterio – El Comienzo

Mexican surf rock is the best!

 

5. Stuffed Cupcake – Better at Rejection

“NJ’s premier dessert punk band.” Here’s an even funnier acoustic version.

 

6. Bern & the Brights – May in New York

22 degrees? Vigil at Union Square? When was this? Good song, though, dark and propulsive.

 

7. Tip Canary – Tough to Find One (Broke A$S Game)

Funny hip-hop-funk tune about dating a rich bitch

 

9. Waking Lights – Ice Cream & Vicodin

Enjoy, just don’t choke!

 

10. The Frozen Gentlemen – Peen

Deadpan retro 80s new wave. Is this about what it seems to be about?

May 12, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review from the Archives: Supergrass at Irving Plaza, NYC 5/29/97

[Editor’s note: it’s been awhile since we reached back for one of these. Occasionally, when we need to put up some new content and we don’t have anything current, it’s time to dig into the dusty Lucid Culture archives for some long-forgotten live show which could be anywhere from completely transcendent to walk-out dreadful. This one falls somewhere in between.]

The sound system blasted the Buzzcocks before the band went on, somewhat appropriately for these cheeky British lads. They opened with their new keyboardist holding a tritone (the devil’s chord), a nice touch. They settled in and so did the audience: early on in the set, it was something akin to an ideal concert experience, perfect sound, the air conditioning working fine and a crowd that wasn’t oversold with sweaty bodies rubbing up against each other, unease turning into hostility. Live, Supergrass ultimately comes across as a step above a topnotch opening band. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to differentiate between their riff-driven 60s garage rock (populist/cool) and their equally derivative 70s (corporate/insipid) influences. At one point, they did a loud, pointless cover of Kenny Rogers’ I’m Just Checking In to See What Condition My Condition’s In. Most of the best stuff was songs from their first album including Caught by the Fuzz, which went over especially well with the audience, as well as Lose It and the last of the three-song encore, the singalong Strange Ones. Their new stuff alternates between tastily organ-driven songs which could be Fleshtones b-sides, and more overtly commercial material, Led Zep lite, which also lean heavily on organ and string synth. Still, a fun if not entirely overwhelming show.

May 29, 2008 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: The Actual Facts – Pain/Pleasure

Let’s see…weren’t these guys on one of those Live from the Roxy compilations, 1977-ish? Loud punk/pop band with a lot of catchy tunes? Well, sort of. The Actual Facts are actually from Brooklyn, and the guys in the band probably weren’t even born yet when all those British bands they resemble were getting their fifteen minutes on the Top of the Pops. On their new cd, these British expats crank up the guitars and crank out the tunes with an energy that harks back to a decade when songs like this could actually score a record deal and get some airplay (that’s a compliment). The album opens with the sarcastic, propulsive Chaise Lounge, which pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the cd, frontman Tim Simmonds cutting loose with a yelp equal parts Morrissey at his most boisterous and eerie John Lydon, circa PiL’s Metal Box, 1978.The album’s second track, the title cut, works around a ridiculously catchy, four-note guitar hook, somewhat evocative of another first-class expatriate British band from Brooklyn, the Larch.

The best song on the cd is Cookie, a blazing, somewhat Stiff Little Fingers-inflected rocker, building to a fiery outro with ba-ba-ba vocals, adding layers and layers of guitar until the maelstrom is too saturated to add any more. And then the song ends with a few chords slammed out on an acoustic. After that, the brief Don’t Shave Down There is pretty much what you would expect, a tribute to the nether regions: “Do it for you, do it for humanity.” The sexual tension builds further on the next track, Come on Over: “Come on over, drunk or sober.” A Hand to Hold, the cd’s final cut, builds slowly over a fast upstroke/downstroke rhythm, the drums only coming in on the second verse, ending on the sardonic note on which it began: “Taking a seat in the back/Covering up my tracks/Always seemed the right way to go.”

These songs grow on you; the album gets better with repeated listening. If they can duplicate the energy on the cd, they should be excellent live. The Actual Facts play the cd release for the album at the Delancey on April 25 at 11, on a great bill with Paula Carino and Basement opening at around 8.

April 16, 2008 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment