August 29, 2009
I Am The Polish Army is the project of Brooklyn duo Emma DeCorsey and C.P. Roth, a drum and guitar pair that have been playing together for the last two years. The twosome’s name comes from a line in surrealist Alfred Jarry’s play “Ubu Roi,” a farcical play ridiculing military aggression, not ridiculing Poland. Jarry, an absurdist and trickster, expressed his ideas through mockery, exaggeration, and satire, and even coined his own antiphilosophy, “pataphysics.” Pataphysics is the “science” of making assumptions about things and inventing reasons, plausible and implausible, for why things happen. For instance, if I see my landlord and he doesn’t say “hi” it obviously means he hates me, probably because my haircut offends the upright gentry of his building. Obvious, right? That’s a pataphysical story I invent in my head to explain reality to myself. Okay, are you buying this?
Well, opposite the absurdity of Alfred Jarry, I Am The Polish Army chronicles real life stories of “sex, lost love, drinking, [and] suicide,” on their newest Club Demos EP. “Us In The Woods” recounts the story of three friends sleeping in the woods, Chan Marshall (of Cat Power) narrative style. “Dead Men” reminisces about what a lost lover leaves behind. The realism of DeCorsey’s lyrics contrasts with the borrowed Jarry namesake, and perhaps the Jarry reference is a defense mechanism IATPA uses to speak of uncomfortable human emotion. DeCorsey says in email that she is a “young, emotionally fragile, and ultimately passionate woman living in the city right now,” and listeners will hear this in her unguarded vocal delivery, which combines Loretta Lynn’s twang and Katie Eastburn’s (from Brooklyn’s Young People) straightforwardness.
Just as Jarry inspires us to create personalized narratives out of our surroundings, I Am The Polish Army uses their union of Appalachia and indie rock to inspire listeners to muse over their city life in New York and Brooklyn. IATPA’s shrewd bass and guitar interplay inspire thought, and could easily pass as a soundtrack for a drizzly stroll under the JMZ underpass on Broadway in Brooklyn. And it is this brooding thought that produces the dual nature of I Am The Polish Army: nonfiction and fable, modern and folk. But finally, I Am The Polish Army embodies the characteristics of the Brooklyn it is in – a modern, electric city. DeCorsey says IATPA has consciously chosen only to play its Appalachia electric. “It doesn’t make sense,” she says of performing acoustic, “electricity…is important…because the city is electric to me and that’s the world I’m in.”
by Thomas Wilk
August 22, 2009
Either while touring for decades, manning side projects, or sitting in on gigs, these six musicians have blown up many stages with nostalgia and pride. They’ve built-up and sustained an essence and a legacy, not only of great music, but for the “jam” of it all. With time, fans have grown more dedicated. And with time, the musicians have sowed a tighter network. Now the movement progresses one step further. They are Furthur.
Furthur is Phil Lesh (guitar), Bob Weir (bass), Jeff Chimenti (keys), John Kadlecik (guitar), Jay Lane (drums), and Joe Russo (drums). Based on the members’ bios, it doesn’t take half-a-brain to know this project will produce elongated jam sessions and climactic melodies. The question is, what will they play?
Lesh and Weir, two staples of the Grateful Dead, cut all ties after Jerry Garcia died. Weir formed Rat Dog with Rob Wasserman, and on Wasserman’s recommendation, Lane joined the group. Upon Lane’s suggestion, they brought on Chimenti. Lesh started Phil Lesh and Friends incorporating various players at any given time, often asking past Dead members, with the exception of Weir, to join.
More on Board The Bus, It’s Time To Go Furthur
August 8, 2009
Sunday night in Chicago, some lucky Lollapalooza after-partiers will be the first to hear what happens when Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) have at it. The group has booked a surprise debut show at the 1,100 capacity Metro, following the close of the three-day festival. My guess is that it will be sheer collective rock genius. But for now there’s only speculation.
Going by the name Them Crooked Vultures, the trio has decided it’s time to stop bullshitting and join forces, but it’s all so ambiguous. For four years, rumors have itched ears that one day this could happen. In 2005, Grohl told Mojo about the prospective project that would feature him on drums, a treat in itself. He hasn’t been dedicated to his kit since the flannel days of Nirvana. The only solid information known is that October 23 is the official release date for the album, Never Deserved The Future, on Interscope.
If you look for them on Myspace there’s nothing more than the logos of each of their respective bands – no music, no pictures, no friends, no comments, nothing. There is a website, but again, a state of nothingness – well, except for a simple silhouette of some sort of being, part human, part vulture.
Public relations are keeping a tight lip. Fans will just have to wait until Monday to catch buzz of The Crooked Vultures with hopes that someone out there will be recording and posting clips on YouTube, or something to that nature. Leave it to these guys to make years-long hearsay come true.
In the two day wait, why not listen to “Go With the Flow,” off the now-classic 2003 Queens of the Stone Age LP Songs For The Deaf, streaming below.
by Genette Nowak
August 1, 2009
Talk about making it work. Seasick Steve transformed his hobo lifestyle of working as a carnie and a cowboy, hopping freight trains from state to state, into that of an established bluesman. Regardless of how the road twisted and turned, he remained dedicated to song and dance.
In the 1960s Seasick Steve befriended those in the circle of Janis Joplin and began touring with other bluesmen. From that point forward he ditched the title “hobo” and gained status as a session musician and studio engineer. Years later, Steve moved to Europe, where he recorded his first album, Cheap, then the solo LP, Dog House Music. It wasn’t until 2007, when he received the UK MOJO Award for “Best Breakthrough Act,” that he began playing festivals all over Europe. Last year, he was signed by Warner Music and released I Started Out With Nothin’ And I Still Got Most Of It Left. The title sums up Steve’s modesty: he has found great success and a mass following, but he’ll never retire his beat-up guitar and worn overalls.
Seasick Steve’s blues are highly textured with diddley bows and stomp boxes. His poetic lyrics bring the sensibility of what he knew as the ways of the world, telling the tales of having nothing – a true countryman. Instrumentation is layered with the charming twang of slide guitar to the subtlety of hands clapping, the whine of a harmonica to the chirp of a flute. For this hitchhiking musician, folk and blues aren’t just genres, but a way of life.
Most recently Seasick Steve played New York’s Mercury Lounge, and the All Points West Festival, opening for artists like Jay-Z and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. He will be back in the NYC area on August 8 at Southpaw in Brooklyn.
by Genette Nowak
July 25, 2009
If Giorgio Moroder called Donna Summer right now, her ringtone would probably be Sister Mantos’ “SHPSHFTER.” Since she’s hypothetically on the phone anyway, maybe Summer should call Sister Mantos to get her career back on track? I mean, Mantos sound like they could have written “I Feel Love.”
LA performer Oscar Miguel Santos, the lead member of Sister Mantos, is an energetic lad spreading gobs of love over every stage he wears a weird costume on. Their myspace page says that Sister Mantos will play anywhere the vibes are positive: “venues, DIY, queer situations, house parties, squats, galleries, festivals, your kitchen…” Santos’ personal energy has his bewitching blend of house music playing kamikaze shows on LA street corners or humping walls in dark warehouses. Internet evidence suggests that Santos can make fun out of any situation, whether the PA can handle his bass or not. Which is refreshing, since entertainment skills do not always accompany brilliant electro beatmakers. Just ask a really boring electronic act like The Sight Below, recently booked at Le Poisson Rouge!
In an interview with Young Creature, Santos says that he wants to create music to fill up a club, as well as headphone music that a listener can take anywhere, to take Santos’ trip to different locations. Additionally, Santos says he often performs without his glasses on, so sometimes he doesn’t realize what he’s doing. Well, I say if you dance blind for music, you are music.
by Thomas Wilk
July 18, 2009
Summer is all about relaxation: celebrating the good weather with good people. Here in New York City we are lucky to have the handfuls of parks to lay back, relax, and enjoy a concert. Rhythms, melodies and fans come together for the love of music – fortunately, in these recession ridden times, there are plenty of free concerts this summer, so we can keep doing that. One to look out for is Richie Havens at Castle Clinton in Battery Park on July 23.
Almost 70 years old and Havens hasn’t lost any of his chops or charisma. Since his time in the Greenwich Village folk scene in the 60s, he has provided a strong voice of unity for both fans and the music world alike. Havens’s career began with him singing doo-wop on Brooklyn street corners, learning to play, and developing himself as a musician by ear. He just listened to atmospheric sounds. But it was Greenwich Village where he found ease, a place where self-expression wasn’t muted and judgment was non-existent.
More on Richie Havens: Freedom
July 11, 2009
If my father listened to Mirror Mirror, he’d probably just say, “this sounds like Pink Floyd.” Indeed, the phaser passing through the overdubbed vocals on Mirror Mirror’s “New Horizons” seems at first listen to be a convenient reference to the early psychedelic era (Floyd’s soundtrack to the film More, in particular the track “Cirrus Minor,” sounds very MM). Yet, MM’s live show politics and aesthetic destination couldn’t be further from Floyd’s.
In an interview last April with Brooklyn artist Paul Sepuya, MM’s David Riley and Ryan Lucero said that their live shows obscure boundaries between audience and performer, and sometimes it isn’t clear who is performing. I’ve never been to a MM show, but a brief tour of their photo galleries display plays of human sacrifice, séances, and mind erasure, all bent towards provoking audience interaction. On the other hand, Pink Floyd felt they were building a wall between themselves and their listeners.
I don’t know where New York is headed, but somehow it has reached an age where I desire to be theatrically slain on a Friday night.
More on Mirror Mirror: Frozen Ketamine Priestess
July 4, 2009
I have been thinking a lot lately about who I consider to be the most estranged musician of immense talent. Though there are certainly many, there is one that has forever stood out to me; one who stands alone in his own category of great oddity and sheer brilliance. He was once referred to as music’s best-kept secret and has recorded an astounding 57 studio albums. I present to you, Frank Zappa. Or, excuse me, I mean the Central Scrutinizer.
The rock opera Joe’s Garage is a pure-genius parody of what happens when one chooses a career as a musician. Acts I, II, and III take the listener through Joe’s music and sexcapades. Upon forming a garage band, Joe is lured into a life of “sleezery” – the society he lives in is on a mission to illegalize music.
In the very beginning, we meet the Central Scrutinizer, played by Zappa. He, the law enforcer, narrates the epic tale. “It is also my responsibility to alert each and every one of you to the potential consequences of various ordinary everyday activities you might be performing which could eventually lead to the Death Penalty (or affect your parents’ credit rating). Our criminal institutions are full of little creeps like you who do wrong things… and many of them were driven to these crimes by a horrible force called music.”
More on Frank Zappa: A Token Of His Extreme