Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Pitom Shreds With Ominous Majesty

Guitarist Yoshie Fruchter’s band Pitom’s new instrumental album Blasphemy and Other Serious Crimes, just out on Tzadik, blends Israeli stoner metal with surf music, gothic rock and ancient Hasidic ngunim. Ostensibly a reflection on Yom Kippur, if there’s anything to atone for here, it should be for not making the album longer – and it is a long one to begin with. Here bassist Shanir Blumenkranz (also of Pharaoh’s Daughter) serves as their Lemmy, propelling much of this with a roaring chordal attack, alongside Jeremy Brown on violin and Kevin Zubek on drums. Fruchter has an individual and impressively tasteful style for a genre where florid is the norm: he roars, squalls and skronks but also cuts his chords up into juicy pieces that he offers up like a lion tamer determined to get the best out of the beast. The melodies bristle and wail, charged with eerie chromatics and Middle Eastern tonalities along with the metal riffage and slowly careening psychedelic licks.

The first song is a flamenco-tinged stomp with guitar that ranges from theremin-ish to Dick Dale-ish, set to a pounding Nine Inch Nails beat. After that, they deliver a sludgy bulldozer waltz driven by distorted bass chords and an apprehensive violin solo, Fruchter screaming in wildly to ambush Brown’s stately lines. The third track is a Maidenesque, chromatic gallop with scrapy violin/guitar textures and a watery, dambuster Leslie speaker guitar solo. With slyly growling twin guitars over a gritty bass groove, the fourth track builds to a genuinely anguished crescendo, Blumenkranz wailing with a dirty, distorted tone over Fruchter’s clanging, echoey, menacing chordal fragments.

Motorhead goes to a Jewish wedding and dances in 14/4 through a pungent cloud of guitar/violin smoke on the fifth cut; the sixth is a creepy, low-key spiderwalk. The seventh starts out with a gorgeously plaintive klezmer melody that grows menacing, then hits a grand guignol interlude straight out of early Queen, then back to the menace again. Track eight amps the rustic, wounded beauty higher, with a slow Peter Gunn-style interlude and variations. On the next cut, a frantic Balkan chase scene collapses and gets all Sonic Youth before reassembling and scurrying off again – and then they hit a noisy bridge with an early 70s style bluesmetal solo peeking out from behind the gnashing and thrashing. They close with another klezmer melody, this one done as 80s psychedelic rock a la the the Raybeats or Slickee Boys, and the majestic concluding cut featuring alternatingly intense guitar and violin solos over the murk beneath. Fans of intelligent, artsy metal bands from Junius to Iron Maiden will love this stuff. Pitom play the cd release show for this one at Rock Shop in Gowanus on Monday May 2 at 9 or so with the excellent, eclectic Gutbucket opening at 8. The bands are also bringing food for everybody.

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 5/11/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Tuesday’s song is #79:

The Slickee Boys – Nagasaki Neuter

Meant to evoke the terrible seconds of A-bomb heat that turned “gorgeous babes into Etch-a-Sketch people,” this searing garage-punk song pretty much does the job, guitarists Marshall Keith and Kim Kane matching each others’ ferocious riffs. From the legendary DC-area psychedelic punks’ classic 1983 album Cybernetic Dreams of Pi.

May 9, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 5/7/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Friday’s song is #83:

The Slickee Boys – Your Autumn Eyes

A one-of-a-kind artsy masterpiece by the legendary DC-area psychedelic punks, a towering, haunting 6/8 anthem that rolls out with graceful anguish, aloft on a bed of beautifully watery guitars. From the Fashionably Late album, 1989.

May 7, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 2/23/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Tuesday’s song is #156:

The Slickee Boys – Marble Orchard

The Slickee Boys are sort of the American Radio Birdman, a ferocious garage-punk outfit with a fondness for eerie chromatics. This sepulchrally matter-of-fact epic from the classic 1983 Cybernetic Dreams of Pi lp (still available as a download from TwinTone) features lead guitarist Marshall Keith playing swirling funereal tones on a Casio above a river of guitars.

February 23, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 4/14/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Tuesday’s song is #470:

The Slickee Boys Pushing My Luck

Desperate, alienated, minor-key noir 60s-style pop amped to redline with scorching guitars by the brilliant Washington, DC psychedelic punk band. From their classic 1983 lp Cybernetic Dreams of Pi, still available from TwinTone as a download. As late as a couple of years ago, the band was still doing holiday-season reunion shows: if you get the chance to catch one, don’t miss it.

April 14, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 4/6/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Monday’s song is #478:

The Slickee Boys – Here to Stay

Old song from the 70s resurrected on their 1989 Live at Last lp. The twin guitar attack of Marshall Keith and Kim Kane is characteristically scorching, with one of their trademark eerie garage/punk melodies. The group – what’s left of them – was still doing annual “reunion” shows in their native Washington, DC area as late as the early part of the zeros. A particularly wild, somewhat loose version of this song is up on the band’s myspace

April 6, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review – The Nice Outfit

We could go on forever about how gentrification has made it doubly difficult for a new music scene created by young people to spring up here in New York. But it hasn’t kept a vital, exciting underground from springing up in Milwaukee. Which makes sense, if you look at the trend nationwide: good bands whose members might have gravitated to New York ten years ago get priced out of the market here and instead head for regional magnet cities like Santa Fe or Houston, doing probably just as well or even better there than they would here. Case in point: the “Milwaukee pop underground” centered around Easter Records, a vibrant, collaborative network of musicians that, by comparison, makes the Broken Social Scene seem pretty kaput. The Nice Outfit is the best new band to spring from it to date.

Their myspace says they sound “like the Kinks on a coke binge.” Picturing a wizened little Ray Davies shoveling blow up his nose at this point in time is pretty funny, but the only funny thing about the Nice Outfit is that they aren’t more popular than they’ve already become in their hometown. Using tasty layers of both jangly Rickenbacker and scorching Fender guitar, their debut ep blasts a hole in your nose, woops, umm, anywhere you need a hole blasted. They’re an escape hatch from a boring day. The first song, Kissing Jocelyn is a fast, deliriously sunny Rickenbacker-driven janglepop hit, sounding something like the Church crossed with New York’s own Dog Show. Track two, This Time Next Year evokes nothing less than Washington, DC psychedelic punk legends the Slickee Boys, with its furious twin guitar attack, Terry Hackbarth and Paul Wall playing off each other with a serious chemical burn. The all-too-brief One Minute Forty-Five – “Summer’s gone in one minute forty five,” goes the chorus – is a scorching blast of garage punk with distant echoes of Aussie legends Radio Birdman. The ep concludes with He Don’t Want You Now, which starts out as the most Kinks-ish of all the songs and builds to the best chorus of any of them. The band brings in a 60s artifact, a repeater box, the second time around. Nice touch. This album just makes you want to head to Milwaukee for Summerfest in June and never come back. It’s early in the year but this may well be the best debut of 2008. Five bratwursts.

Several of the other Easter Records bands are worth checking out: garage rockers White Hot Tizzy, janglemeisters Trolley (also featuring Hackbarth and Wall) and Heathrow, who sound like Supergrass if that band had been raised on Lienies and brats

January 8, 2008 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment