Lucid Culture


Gypsophilia Brings Their Great New Album and Electrifying Live Show to NYC

As fans of the music know, Canada is a hotbed for gypsy jazz. It’s the French connection. Eclectic Halifax septet Gypsophilia are one of the most exciting groups playing that style to come out of the Great White North, and they’re coming to New York for two June shows. June 6 they’ll be at Rock Shop in Gowanus at 9 PM with charismatically assaultive, noir bluespunks the Reid Paley Trio opening, then they’re playing at Drom the following night, June 7 on a fantastic triplebill with the Lemon Bucket Orkestra and Italian band Taluna for a ridiculously cheap $10.

Gypsophilia have a new ep, Horska, just out and will no doubt be airing out the songs on it in concert. Its title track is an absolute smash, a creepy noir theme that goes through all sorts of permutations over Adam Fine’s pulsing bassline, Sageev Oore’s menacingly distant piano interspersed between biting solos from violinist Gina Burgess, trumpeter Matt Meyer and an especially ominous, microtonal one from guitarist Alec Frith. They reprise the song at the end of the album in an echoey, effects-laden dub version that’s just as dark.

In between there’s the jauntily swinging, hi-de-ho romp Bir Hakeim, which is less Egyptian than Parisian, maybe inspired by the Paris Metro stop which commemorates the World War II battle. They follow that with the intricate Oh My Orna, crescendoing from a baroque-tinged waltz to a wistful theme carried by the violin and echoey electric piano. Corentin Cariou has a bit of Romanian feel, speeding up and slowing down again, followed by the edgy Stickm, another catchy minor-key tune that hits a peak with Meyer’s muted trumpet solo. There are seemingly thousands of bands paying homage to the Django Reinhardt legacy – many of them do it well, but few are as distinctive and interesting as Gypsophilia.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | gypsy music, jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Gabriel Sullivan – By the Dirt

Gabriel Sullivan knows a lot of styles and he’s adept at them. More specifically, his new cd By the Dirt runs through a whole bunch of stylized genres, pretty successfully – the playing is generally good, he’s got a good sense of melody and a feel for vintage Americana styles. Mixed by Craig Schumacher of Calexico and Friends of Dean Martinez renown, Sullivan’s going for a dusky southwestern gothic feel (a concept made clear by the cd cover, the songwriter posed sullenly against a photoshopped backdrop of a battered piano in the sagebrush), although the sound is more straight-up southern in a lot of places.

The album’s opening number reminds of Reid Paley, kind of a stripped-down ghoulabilly blues with banjo and harp. The title track is a swinging, memorable, Waitsh-ish tune: “We all live and die by the dirt,” Sullivan reminds ominously. Track three, the snide, defiant Life Is Fine has Sullivan affirming that “You ain’t never gonna see me die.”

How to Treat a Man reminds of Steve Wynn’s legendary Dream Syndicate with its slide guitar-driven, bluesy stomp. By contrast, Me & the Dog is ghostly, lowlit by some sweetly phosphorescent singing saw work. Of the country songs here, by far the most interesting and original is the metaphor-laden, nocturnal ballad The Gardens, its protagonist aching for some peace. There’s also a clanking noir blues, a Waits-style outlaw ballad and then more and more Waits, it seems – by this point, Sullivan seems to have run out of ideas of his own, and the overlong, pointless guitar solo out of the last number does nothing to change that. In terms of the three stages of artistry – imitation, emulation and originality – Sullivan’s passed the first and has command of the second – and there’s nothing wrong with having the ability to synthesize or move smoothly from one oldtime style to another, as he does effortlessly here. It’ll be interesting to see how his writing develops as he grows as a songwriter. In the meantime, fans of dark Americana rock and all the other retro styles he tackles here will enjoy most of this. Keep your eye on this guy – he knows what he’s doing, even if he could be confused with a whole lot of other people on some of the tracks here.

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

CD Review: The Reid Paley Trio – Approximate Hellhound

Frequent Frank Black collaborator Reid Paley mines the same noir Americana/blues territory as Tom Waits, but differently. Consider: when you hear Waits croak “Misery is the river of the world,” you know he’s not some destitute alcoholic living in a trailer. That’s just Waits being Waits. With Paley, it’s not so easy to tell. His music is also stylized, but there’s genuine menace there. Chances are it’s all an act…but maybe not, a chance better not taken. Musically, Paley is a purist, playing his vintage archtop guitar with just a hint of natural distortion, backed by an equally purist rhythm section who don’t mess around or clutter the songs. Vocally, Waits is the obvious influence, but also Screamin Jay Hawkins and maybe Lux Interior: there’s a bit of mad Elvis in there, but something else that’s just a little off, a little disconcerting. The cd kicks off with a bluesy goodbye song. “I’ll see you when the sun begins to shine,” Paley intones gruffly, meaning never. It’s as blithe as Paley ever gets here, a song that Louis Armstrong could have written if left to his own devices.


The cd’s second track, the gypsy-rock Yr Polish Uncle lopes along eerily on an electrified polka beat: “I swear on the back of my forty-third abortion, I see your devil peering round the door.” Take What You Want is an uncharacteristically pretty, 6/8 ballad that nicks the melody from Sitting on Top of the World. If the smooth pulse of the bass sounds familiar, it probably is –  that’s Daria Grace from Melomane and the Jack Grace Band pushing it along. The Dark Sky makes a halfhearted attempt at reassurance: “Don’t be afraid of the dark sky/I’ll hold your hand when it comes down.”  Better Days imagines a serious nightmare scenario: “Hangover sunrise Sunday morning, half dead on Bedford Avenue.” Imagine: the sidewalks still scattered with tourists, all of them still high on coke and blabbing on their cellphones, and the L train isn’t even running! The cd ends with a confused, drunken rant, Paley giving an innocent bartender or bar patron a real hard time, but all the same he doesn’t want to be left alone: “Gimme a fucking goddamn drink, stay awhile.” Fans of all the noir guys: Waits, LJ Murphy in his more outside moments, Nick Cave et al. will love this cd. As you might expect, Paley is a considerably charismatic live performer: his next gig is Sat, Nov 15 at 11 at the Parkside.

October 14, 2008 Posted by | Music, Reviews | , , | Leave a comment