Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Custard Wally – Estrogennia Dementia

In many respects Custard Wally’s latest cd is the perfect album to put on in the background if you’re having a party. The music is pleasantly melodic, generally upbeat and sometimes quite pretty. Most of it is pop/rock, with a few punk numbers. You can play this for just about any crowd and not worry about it. Until somebody turns the volume up to the point where the lyrics are audible.

They’re filthy.

Some sample song titles: How I’d Luv to Touch It!, All the Sex in the World I’ve Ever Wanted, and Prematurely Whorely. The prettiest song on the album is about how a woman should wipe after urinating (Front to Back, as it explains in detail). Reeeeeeeeeeal highbrow stuff. The music is straight-up rock but the esthetic – if the word “esthetic” can be used in the same sentence as “Custard Wally,” which is something of a stretch – is pure gangsta rap. This band is obsessed with sex, crude, sexist…and funny as hell. Not exactly politically correct, but something to keep on the shelf with your Tammy Faye Starlite, NWA and the Ween country album. You can break this out late at night after everybody’s overindulged and as long as your friends have a sense of humor, you’re pretty much guaranteed a few laughs.

The jokes aren’t limited to sex, either: the solo on Front to Back is lifted straight out of Redemption Song by Bob Marley, and there’s a hilarious anti-trendoid diatribe called Pretty Little Ponytail Boy. If you’re, say, 12, or have the mind of a 12-year-old, get this cd: it should be huge on college radio. Good album: it achieves what the band set out to do, which is make you laugh. Four pairs of edible underwear.

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July 6, 2007 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Concert Review: Sasha Dobson and Van Hayride at Banjo Jim’s 5/6/07

Sasha Dobson, a jazz/pop singer who’s now playing guitar as well, has become one of the few NYC artists to get any press in the NY Times, and she’s earned it: she’s what Norah Jones should aspire to be in a couple of years. Dobson has paid her dues playing small clubs over the past several years and sings in a lower register than Jones, but still invites the inevitable Norah comparisons since she’s moved away from jazz toward a more pop style. Her stage persona is more confident, more world-weary and decidedly more mature, perhaps appropriately so. She has a fondness for minor keys and rhythms like bossa nova and tango which are well suited to her sultry delivery. Now if only she could stick to doing her own, surprisingly compelling original material instead of covering the likes of hacks like Richard Julian (who duetted with her on one of his songs and added absolutely nothing: to paraphrase Billy Preston, nothing plus nothing makes nothing).

Van Hayride, the headline act, shares a rhythm section with Dobson, the only conceivable reason (other than careless booking) for them to have followed on the bill: But segue or no segue, they were tremendous, and had the audience in hysterics throughout their completely over-the-top set. Van Hayride features the hardest working man in country music, Jack Grace as frontman plus the piano player from his country band along with guitarist Steve Antonakos (what NYC band is this guy NOT in???), doing country covers of Van Halen songs. These guys are smart: they know that 99% of heavy metal is comedy, and that Van Halen were its finest Borscht Belt practitioners. Grace does a spot-on David Lee Roth parody: during one song, he lay on the floor, the mic just out of his reach, as if so wasted that he lacked the eye/hand coordination to reach out and grab it. “Where’s my mic tech,” he growled. On another song, he slumped backwards against the drum kit, his head up against the kick drum. He put the mic everywhere but where it should be, and made his bandmates laugh to the point where they were screwing up. Which is all part of the act. Van Hayride is a thorough reminder of A) how moronic Van Halen’s lyrics were, B) how even stupider Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing was and C) how absolutely necessary Van Hayride is. And it’s a good thing it’s these guys doing it. Grace is the consummate showman, whether fronting this unit or his own far more serious yet still gutbustingly funny band, and he’s never lacked for excellent players behind him. Antonakos plays Eddie Van Halen’s lines pretty much note for note, albeit without the fuzzy distortion or garish flourishes. Van Hayride are in a four-way tie for funniest New York band, along with Tammy Faye Starlite in all her many incarnations; cover band hellions Rawles Balls, whose most recent shows have turned into bacchanalian karaoke sessions; and Cocktail Angst, the Spinal Tap of lounge bands.

To fully appreciate Van Hayride, it helps to know the source material (Doug Henwood, I know you’re out there): there’s a certain target audience here, specifically those who were subjected to the stuff on FM radio in the early 80s (Van Hayride proudly declares that they’re a “David Lee Roth only” Van Halen cover band). But judging from the response of the crowd in the club – a broad cross-section of ages and locales – you don’t have to be a Van Halen fan (or hater) to get a kick out of this. Next time they play, you might as well jump (”So that’s what the song’s about?” Grace asked quizzically as they reached the end). Van Hayride plays every Sunday in May at 10 at Banjo Jim’s.

May 8, 2007 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments