Friday, January 27, 2006

Broken Social Scene 1.26.06 Webster Hall

by Charlotte Deaver

This show started off really badly -- for me. When I got up to door of the club I couldn't find either driver's license or credit card, so I spent the next hour in search of these essentials, held back a few tears (silly me), and ended up finding my license in the pocket of my car door. Still no credit card, but it was a relief.

By the time I finally got inside, the band had already been playing for a long time. About eight, long BSS songs, someone told me, and this next song was sounding very much like an encore already. Again, I almost cried! My emotions, alas, know no perspective -- Alito, global warming, and being late for a show -- these are troubled times.

After several songs it became clear the show was not over, and all was right in the musical universe -- or nearly so. The band sounded sloppy, which might be expected from a band that calls itself a "collective" (but not from one this popular and one in the middle of a tour).

Their messiness, however, is part of their appeal. As all-over-the-place a song may begin, a lengthy vamp out gives the musicians enough time to synch up with each other. And that's when the payoff begins. Many of their songs are kind of sprawling already, and the musicians -- five or six guitars, five horns, a bunch of singers and guest performers, and one violin -- take up a lot of space on stage, so the most satisfying live moments occur when they all finally get together for these extended grooves.

There's also something slacker-sexy about them, which is probably partly due to some of their sexually explicit lyrics. Nor does it hurt that the stage is crowded with such a great number and variety of gender-bending, band-hopping, hipster musicians from the ever-cool Canada. So when, during "Lover's Spit," singer Kevin Drew slipped into the audience without fanfare, I regretted I wasn't stage-hugging that night.

Broken Social Scene is one of those bands that was so over-hyped for a while that they are already inching to the other side of the hype-hill. Not a blogger yet myself, I (luckily) didn't know that, and fell in love with them through one song, "I'm Still Your Fag," which they did not, unfortunately, play on Thursday night. You can listen to it (for a few days) on the Audioblogger bar to your right. If you like the song, you'll understand one thing that is great about this band. If not, you won't like Brokeback Mountain, either.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Dan Lubell 1.24.06 Lakeside Lounge

by Charlotte Deaver

The only way to do this band justice is to be as funny, clever, and appealing as Dan Lubell himself is. You know, have the form itself reflect the content, blah blah blah.

But my goodness. What pressure. Dan Lubell is really funny and talented (so much so that I had trouble deciding which word should come first: talented or funny). His music is smart, playful, melodic, and between songs he can riff on just about any subject and have the audience howling (Brokeback Mountain and the James Frey scandal got a lot of mileage).

While the songs are deceptively simple, the lyrics give them their real charge. Like Dan's stage presence, they play with humor and irony, but can also be bracingly honest and direct. Through revelations about relationships, sex, or growing older, some of the songs seem almost earnest, despite themselves. All the while, of course, the audience hoots and hollers, loving not just Dan, but the connections he's making.

I can't imagine anyone not having a good time at this show. The band was solid -- Lance Doss was especially good on electric guitar, and the bass player's hat rocked -- and the audience, myself included, was particularly attentive.

And none of this wonderful night, by the way, was at all compromised by Dan's hair. His hair was great. Just great.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Serena-Maneesh 1.21.06 and a night with Pica

by Charlotte Deaver

After racing down Avenue A to make the 12 am show at the Mercury Lounge, I waited another half an hour before the band began to play. I was late (or, so it turned out, not) because of an amazing dinner with friends. Although plagued with a bit of "double-book" anxiety, I was mighty sad to leave them.

But the band finally started playing -- a simple kick-drum pulse and single, throbbing eight-notes on guitar and bass, which built up nicely in volume and pressure -- and we all forgot how long it took them to begin. This was rock and roll, the two-generations-ago kind, replete with psychedelics, pirate (gypsy?) costumes, and a tattooed Twiggy.

The band looked so cool. Too cool, you'd think, but for some reason they weren't. Twiggy thumped her bass (strapped hip-hugger low), transmitted not a word or smile from her beautiful stone-face, and only occasionally moved her hair away from her forehead. Usually someone like that would annoy the heck out of me. When I moved in closer to get pictures I had to push ahead of many-a-gawker. "I just want to get one shot of her," I said to this one guy, who just smiled and said wistfully, "Yeah. Me too." She was sexy, I have to admit, in that kind of inapproachable, passive way. And I loved it. See some great pics of the entire band at Brooklyn Vegan.

The leader of the band, though, was the true attraction. (And he's short.) He writes and plays just about everything on the record, and was so excited to be here, playing live to a sold out crowd in NYC, that he could hardly speak. For all the band's "affect," he seemed wholly invested in its music (as retro, in a way, as it is), as well as in its style and effect. His muteness was captivating, and his shyness endearing, not distancing. Yes, he was inarticulate, and he and his sister's vocals were practically indiscernible (just wisps of air and breath), but they are, in fact, simply Norwegian. This is a Norwegian, family affair.

So, as Norwegians, as guests in this country of war and hypocrisy, as far as I'm concerned, they can do whatever the F#@k they want and it'll be okay by me.

It will, and it was.

And did I say that the dinner was amazing? xo

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I do love how the "World Spins Madly On."

by Charlotte Deaver

Although resisting her alliance with The Weepies until now, I've been a big fan of Deb Talan for a while. Like many others, I heard her song "Forgiven" trail with the credits of the movie "Lovely and Amazing," and was smitten by her unusual voice: a striking, intimate soprano, lilting and sugar sweet -- not candy-sugar, though, but granular, even pebbley.

I saw her at the Bitter End, oh, over a year ago, and was a bit disappointed by the band she was travelling with, which included her partner, Steve Tannen. I felt she was overshadowed by them. I wanted all Deb, and got this whole collective band thing. Imagine!

But now, with their latest digital pre-release, "Say I Am You," I am happy to report that this band thing really works! You can only download the CD via iTunes, but a hard-copy is on the way. Of course, I immediately downloaded two songs, both of which I love: "World Spins Madly On" and "Gotta Have You." Gorgeous. Glorious. Deb is back! With a band! Imagine.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

New music, new year, and a few family photos.

Praise Janus, the god of beginnings! It is finally the friggin' new year. Halleluia. The end of 2005 sort of sucked, what with tending to my mom and overloading elsewhere. And making no headway on my dissertation. Not to mention Katrina, the tsunami, and continued, totally avoidable bloodshed in Iraq, thanks to the most vile and deplorable president in the world, ever. You get the picture.

So here we are, in 2006. Christmas was nice (the niece in orange agrees), New Years sparkled (see right), and Pablo and Rickie continue to bathe (see below) and adore each other adorably.

And finally, I have a whole new list of shows to see, which have been added to the sidebar.