Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

A Tsunami of Sound Hits Manhattan

Saturday night was Unsteady Freddie’s monthly surf music show at Otto’s. Surf rock isn’t as oldschool as a lot of people think it is since it’s more popular now than it was fifty years ago when groups like the Ventures and the Bel-Airs were just getting off the ground. But Unsteady Freddie’s night is. If you wish New York was the place it was before there was a plastic-and-sheetrock “luxury” condo project sprouting on every ghetto block, if you want to get away from the doucheoisie, Otto’s is the place the first Saturday of every month. This month’s show opened with four-piece instrumental band Tsunami of Sound. In their too-brief 45 minutes onstage, they jangled and clanged through a tight mix of originals and covers. Surf music is fun but the best stuff can also be totally noir, and this band proved they’re not afraid of the dark side. The most interesting song of the night shifted uneasily between major and minor chords over the swaying, distant rumble of Rick Sanger’s drums: he didn’t look like he was working that hard, but the noise from the kit said otherwise. Strat player Dave Esposito has a classic surf sound, nonchalantly firing off one reverb-drenched riff after another, taking one bridge to a crazed crescendo with a flurry of furious tremolo-picking. Bob Damiano, who played both Strat and keys – sometimes both in the same song – has a more biting, bluesy lead guitar style. If Esposito is the stalker in the band, Damiano is the slasher. Bassist Jamie Huggins played simple, propulsive lines, sometimes sailing way up the scale to drive a chorus home.

Another cool thing about this band is that they put their own spin on the cover songs. Was that a janglerock version of Spudnik? If so, it was a long way from the primitive space-rock of the original and it was also a lot more interesting. Their version of Pipeline was matter-of-fact, midtempo and full of neat original riffs. Other bands like to rip through Diamond Head even faster than the Ventures did it, but these guys slowed it down and let the ominousness of the rising wave at the end of the verse build to a genuine menace. From there they segued into a burning, sunbaked version of Lee Hazlewood’s Baja before returning to the originals. Let’s hope the maestro of unsteadiness brings them back.

There were other good bands scheduled for later, as usual – the Tarantinos NYC, who never cease to amaze with how eclectic they are, were on at 11 – but we’ve covered them before, and they manage to get themselves on a gazillion good bills all over town.

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May 8, 2011 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Top Ten Songs of the Week 2/2/09

So you thought there wouldn’t be any hit parade this week, huh? This is the late edition. All these links are for the individual songs with the exception of #1, which is on an album you should own.

 

1. The Brooklyn What – No Chords

We’re going to keep hitting you with great songs by this kick-ass band, just like what we’d be doing with the Clash if this was 1978 and the blogosphere existed back then. This one’s a quiet, funny, brutally satirical number about gentrification and trendoids from their new cd The Brooklyn What for Borough President. They play 2/20 at Red Star at 11; the intriguing and fun Delusions of Grand St. open the night at 9.

 

2. The Megitza Quartet – Boleritza

Haunting, gypsy-flavored instrumental suite from this kick-ass Chicago band. 

 

3. The Quavers – Ride You Home – trippy and creepy with a weird trip-hop feel. Here’s a free download

 

3. The Dream Academy – Mordechai Vanunu

An old song from 1985 (occasionally we might feature something this old if it’s worth it and we just discovered it, as we did in this case), basically just frontman Nick Laid-Clowes and his acoustic guitar doing a tribute to the great Israeli peace activist who was behind bars at the time for divulging Israel’s atom bomb secrets. 

 

4. Brian Kramer – Pause

The excellent blues guitarist is appropriately oldschool: Press pause and then rewind. Who says white guys can’t play blues. 

 

5. The 4th Street Nite Owls – Jerry the Junker

One of the first and best of the oldtimey revival bands here in town, still going strong. This is an update on the Minnie the Moocher theme.

 

6. Anistar – Longa Nikriz

Long, haunting balkan/klezmer dance from this amazing multistylistic band. They’re at le Poisson Rouge on 2/5.

 

7. Alec Berlin – My Baby Likes to Eat

So politically incorrect it’s hard to believe it exists at all. Don’t listen if you can’t handle humor that pokes fun at women and lesbians. It’s all in good fun. He’s at Arlene’s on 2/11.

 

8. The Tarantinos NYC – Monte Carlo Nights

A total ripoff of the surf classic Man of Mystery, but with that swirling organ it’s irresistible: this is a band that by rights shouldn’t even exist at all, but somehow they make it work.

 

9. Red Rocket – Red Rocket

Delicious noir soundtrack jazz from this Irish group, a side project of the similarly inclined Rocket who play Barbes on 2/25.  

 

10. Erin Hill – Blue Slide

Psychedelic pop with a singer who plays concert harp. Sounds absolutely nothing like Joanna Newsom

February 3, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment