Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Ward White Slashes and Burns at Bowery Electric

This is why live shows are where everything is happening. Ward White’s new album Done with the Talking Cure is urbane, and funny, and lyrically intense, but onstage Tuesday night at Bowery Electric he and an A-list of New York rock talent brought the monster to life. There was plenty of nuance, but it was good to see White cut loose with some righteous wrath. Jeremy Chatzky nonchalantly swung the Taxman bass riff as White jangled and clanged his way through the title track; with his signature deadpan ease, keyboardist Joe McGinty tossed off a quote from Dreaming by Blondie toward the end of the brutally cynical Change Your Clothes. “I could do it in the dark, I could do it in my sleep,” White crooned – he was talking about crawling out a window. Drummer Eddie Zwieback gave the gorgeously bitter Radio Silence a backbeat cushion for White’s corrosive lyrics and McGinty’s sizzling, allusive organ work. We Can’t Go on Like This had a sultry, decadent, bolero-tinged slink, aloft on violinist Claudia Chopek’s hypnotic string arrangement, augmented by frequent Botanica collaborator Heather Paauwe on violin and Eleanor Norton on cello.

Following the sequence of the album, White sank his fangs into Accomplice. “One of those narratives that sounds menacing, I’m not entirely sure what’s happening but it’s not good,” he explained. Live, the combination of McGinty’s circus organ and White’s Strat was all that and a lot more, and it was about here that he started crooning less and snarling more. They took it down to just the strings and vocals for Be Like Me, a withering chronicle of disingenuousness. “This song may…be about how I feel about New York City, but it’s also some kind of pretentious metaphor,” White sneered sardonically. “Whichever offends you less, don’t go with that one,” he encouraged the crowd and followed with Pretty/Ugly Town, the least cloaked of all of his attacks tonight, this one taking aim at at a clueless, trendy girl. “Everything is poison if you swallow enough, so be careful what you put in your mouth,” White sang as it opened, somewhere between Jeff Buckley and Roger Waters.

The next song, 1964 may be a thinly veiled swipe at fashion slaves, but its irresistibly cheery mod-pop had the crowd bouncing along, all the way through McGinty’s sarcastic wah-wah synth solo. Then they brought it down with the morose, drugged-out ambience of Who’s Sorry Now, switching to stark yet funny with the “damaged metaphor” of Family Dog and then to ferocious with the album’s closing track, Matchbox Sign. White supplied some useful background: “It’s a term used in the psychiatric event book to describe delusory parasitosis: ‘Take me home tonight!'” he laughed. “People are convinced that they’re infested with insects and parasites…desperately itching and scratching and trying to prove to the medical community that they’re real. Morgellons Disease is one of the more common ones…Joni Mitchell has come out in public as saying she’s infected,” White explained to considerable applause. The strings gave some relief to the exasperated narrator through his drive somewhere – the hospital? – with his crazy passenger.

It was too bad to miss the opening acts. Jim Allen, who a few years ago fronted a killer Elvis Costelloish outfit called the Lazy Lions, has gone back to the Americana stuff he did so well earlier in past decade; after his band, McGinty was scheduled to play a set of his own stuff.

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April 24, 2011 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Album of the Day 3/20/11

Every day, our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Sunday’s album is #681:

Pink Floyd – The Final Cut

While the rest of the world watches the events at Fukushima unfold, we’re going to sneak another Pink Floyd album onto this list. Where armageddon right now looks like a water table saturated with plutonium, Roger Waters – and pretty much everyone else in 1983 – saw the world ending in a deluge of atom bombs. Part murderous response to the fascism of Thatcher and Reagan, part continuation of The Wall to its logical extreme, this was once rated one of the ten most depressing albums of all time by a fashion magazine – reason alone to make it worth owning. The raging hiss of vignettes like The Post War Dream, One of the Few and Get Your Hands Off My Filthy Desert put everything in historical context. It’s hard to imagine a more poignant requiem for lost time than Your Possible Pasts, nor a more plaintive war widow-to-be’s lament than Southhampton Dock. The Hero’s Return is beyond sarcastic; The Gunner’s Dream floats cruelly down to end in a fatal plane crash. And The Fletcher Memorial Home is a musical death warrant for some of the era’s evillest despots, among them Thatcher, Brezhnev and Begin. The gorgeously quiet, completely apt piano ballad Paranoid Eyes and the sweeping, epic grandeur of the title track complete the picture along with the sludgy metal anthem Not Now John (a big FM radio hit) and the rhythmically tricky, pensive end-of-the-world tableau Two Suns in the Sunset. Antiwar songs have seldom been more powerful. Here’s a random torrent.

March 20, 2011 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 6/18/10

Every day, for about the next six weeks anyway, our best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues all the way to #1. Friday’s song is #41:

Pink Floyd – Your Possible Pasts

As poignant a requiem for lost time, and various tortured pasts, as has ever been written, Michael Kamen’s piano stark and plaintive against and all the railroad siding sound effects:

They flutter behind you, the banners and flags
Of your possible pasts lie in tatters and rags

From the brilliant and vastly underrated Final Cut album, 1983.

June 18, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 1/29/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Friday’s song is #181:

Pink Floyd – Mother

This might have supplanted Hotel California as the national anthem of busking if it wasn’t so depressing. It appears in the movie conveniently just in time to wrap up side one of The Wall.

January 28, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 9/23/09

Every day for the next few days, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown will get one step closer to #1. Then we’ll put up a whole bunch of them at once and keep you in suspense until we return with regular daily listings, review and so forth around the middle of October. For now, Wednesday’s song is #308:

Pink Floyd – Dogs

Not only one of the great stoner songs of alltime but a characteristically magnificent, towering, practically sidelong antiwar epic. “Dragged down by the stone, stone, stone…” ad infinitum. Go ahead and download the 1977 Animals album somewhere if you haven’t already; if you want to hear it first, it’s on youtube in two sections here and then here.

September 23, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 8/2/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Sunday’s song is #360:

Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb

OK, this is supposed to be Obscure Music Central, and here we go with a classic rock standard. But every year, a new generation of kids discovers it – that hypnotic, slowly crescendoing David Gilmour intro, that visionary lyric:

When I was a child I had a feeling

Out of the corner of my eye

I turned to look but it was gone

I cannot put my finger on it now

The child has grown, the dream has gone

Download The Wall somewhere – the band isn’t getting any royalties from it.

August 2, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 6/22/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Monday’s song is #401:

Pink Floyd – The Final Cut

The “real” Pink Floyd’s final 1983 studio album remains disavowed by some fans and that’s too bad because it’s arguably Roger Water’s finest hour as a songwriter, a venomous antiwar statement inspired by Margaret Thatcher’s disastrous adventures in the Falklands. This is its centerpiece, a characteristically lush, ornate ballad chronicling the narrator’s descent into despair and suicide…or not?

June 22, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 6/7/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Sunday’s song is #416:

Pink Floyd – Pigs

Here’s another band that was extremely well represented on this list when we first dug it out of the drawer and decided to make it a daily feature here.  Then we then decided to repopulate the list with brilliant obscurities in the place of songs from the accepted canon. So you won’t see Atomheart Mother, or Shine on You Crazy Diamond, or even Echoes here. Hubris? Without a doubt. But this one we had to keep, the whole band at the absolute top of their game, towering, majestic, hypnotic and raging, all the way through to one of the most sonically ugly endings in the history of recorded music. From Animals, 1977; mp3s are everywhere.

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