Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album of the Day 1/3/11

Tons of new stuff in the pipeline here including a new NYC live music calendar for this month and February coming out later on today. In the meantime, every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues, all the way to #1. Monday’s is #757:

The Coup – Steal This Album

Although the Coup are a west coast hip-hop outfit (frontman/lyricist Boots Riley has been a community activist in Oakland for years), they have more of an east coast flavor: in fact, Riley is as good a candidate as anyone else for the title of greatest rap wordsmith ever. Where corporate rap glorifies guns and status objects, the Coup have always stuck up for the empoverished and the disenfranchised. As superb as their other albums are – everything they’ve ever done is worth owning – this 1998 release blends the funny with the poignant and the ferocious more than anything else they’ve done. The confrontational Piss on Your Grave is brutally amusing, as is The Repo Man Sings for You. 20,000 Gun Salute, The Shipment and Busterismology are revolutionary hip-hop at its most enlightening; Cars and Shoes, Me & Jesus the Pimp in a ’79 Granada Last Night and Breathing Apparatus speak to the struggling majority of us, as does the highlight of the album, Underdogs, arguably the most poetically apt depiction of the urban poverty trap ever recorded. By contrast, Sneakin’ In is a gleeful update on Public Enemy’s Yo Bum Rush the Show. Most recently, Riley has collaborated with Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello in the rap-metal project Confrontation Camp. Here’s a random torrent.

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January 3, 2011 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rap music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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

CD Review: Rupa & the April Fishes – Este Mundo

It’s hard to imagine a sexier album – or a smarter one – released this year. Over the course of fifteen first-class tracks – there’s not a single substandard song on this cd – Rupa & the April Fishes come off like a better-traveled Eleni Mandell backed by an acoustic Gogol Bordello. Alternating between wild gypsy dances, ska, noir cabaret, Mexican border ballads, Colombian folk, tango, klezmer and reggae, this is without question the most triumphantly multistylistic tour de force of 2009.

Frontwoman/guitarist/physician Rupa Marya is a Franco-American globetrotter of Indian ancestry. Whether singing in English, French or Spanish, her lyrics are as evocative as they are provocative (the album is a tribute to and defense of immigrants risking their lives around the world). Her breathy vocals are equally nuanced, as capable of conjuring a sultry late-night ambience as much as nonplussed outrage, backed by an acoustic rhythm section along with cello, trumpet, and accordion as well as horns and flute on several tracks. They stay in moody minor keys until the next-to-last track, a surprisingly breezy number combining a Mexican folk feel with reggae, a lament that could be told from an immigrant’s viewpoint…or just a woman missing a lover.

Before that, there’s a brief, haunting violin theme; a swinging noir tango with an incisive trumpet solo at the end; a playful, fun gypsy dance that goes out on a boomy bass solo; a dark, violin-driven reggae number; a gypsy-inflected, slinky ska tune; a defiant gypsy waltz with echoes of New York vintage latin revivalists las Rubias del Norte; a sad, mariachiesque trumpet tune; a dark Mexican shuffle; a scary, Middle-Eastern-inflected gypsy dance that builds from a stately hora-style intro; a jaunty, bluesy ragtime song with a big dixieland raveup at the end; and a bouncy cumbia featuring a characteristically intense rap interlude by the greatest English-language lyricist of our time, Boots Riley of Oakland hip-hop legends the Coup (who has an intriguing new collaboration with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Street Sweeper Social Club).

Part of this album is a great dance mix; what’s not danceable makes great makeout music. Socially aware, sometimes surreal and invariably inspired, this is one of the best albums of the year, yet another reason why we’re not going to finalize our Best Albums of 2009 list until the end of December. Rupa & the April Fishes play the Bell House along with another excellent, multistylistic, danceable band, Nation Beat on November 13 at 8 PM.

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