New York Music Daily

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Tag: sadies band

Lush, Gorgeous Psychedelic Pop and Vintage Folk-Rock from the New Mendicants

The New Mendicants – the Pernice Brothers’ Joe Pernice, Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake and the Sadies’ Mike Belistky – blend classic psychedelic and powerpop sounds from the 60s and 70s while adding their own wickedly tuneful edge. This supergroup of sorts absolutely nails a whole bunch of styles from the UK from around 1965 to 1975. Their new album Into the Lime is streaming at Spotify…and it’s also available on vinyl!

The trio open it very auspiciously with A Very Sorry Christmas, its growling, Badfinger guitars, a little bit of of a shuffling Ringo feel from Belitsky and some Big Star blending in as well. “I’ve hurt so many people on the way, on a very sorry Christmas Eve, I wonder if the ghosts will ever let me be,” Blake laments. The second track, By the Time It Gets Dark is an optimistically catchy, gorgeous folk- rock ballad spiced with glockenspiel (although the litany of cliches that serves as the first verse needs to go). The bouncy Cruel Annette blends the mod pulse of late 60s The Who with jaunty, slightly vaudevillian early 60s Beatles. After that, the delicate, McCartneyesque acoustic waltz Follow You Down is quite likely the prettiest song ever written about a suicide pact.

The genuine classic here is High on the Skyline, an enigmatically alienated folk-rock anthem that’s equal parts Strawbs Britfolk and lushly clangy, twanging Byrds. “I’ll show you how deadly close faraway can be,” Blake intones in his stately  delivery. If You Only Knew Her is similar musically, but more Beatlesque, sort of like a more fleshed-out take on Here, There and Everywhere. The trio follow that with the most modern-sounding track here, Lifelike Hair, a third-generation garage-psych rock tune with a hypnotic Brian Jonestown Massacre vibe.

It’s not clear at all what the title track is about, other than a lament for a vanished girlfriend: “The killing joke, the killing moon, the killing of me softly with this song,” Blake croons over a lushly orchestrated, sunnily attractive chamber folk melody. Sarasota blends elements of Motown and chamber pop into an absolutely surreal Florida scenario that might or might not be a murder mystery. The album winds up on a high note with the blistering neo-mod rock hit Shouting Match, a dead ringer for Connecticut pub rock legends the Reducers. The whole thing is one of the most tuneful collections to come over the transom here this year and a strong contender for one of 2014′s best albums.

Neko Case – Unstoppable in Lower Manhattan

Neko Case’s concert downtown on the water behind the World Financial Center Thursday night started late. Early in the set she explained gracefully. “Your sexy energy has created a Ghostbusters situation up here. Everything electric has stopped working, so we’ll be” – she searched for a split second for the word – “Apocalyptic.” Case’s stage monitors had blown out (or weren’t properly hooked up – what exactly happened, nobody seemed to know) before she ever took the stage. Were they even working as veteran soul man Charles Bradley, who preceded Case onstage, strained and strained to hit the notes throughout his set? Maybe not. Although visibly exasperated at being unable to hear much if any of themselves onstage, Case and her bandmates improvised as the show went on, switched out electric guitars for acoustic ones, changed the set list on the fly and in the process played a transcendent show. Case – “the girl with the amazing notes” as she sardonically but accurately described herself – warned the crowd that she was going to hit a few bad ones. “Oh no, I start this one,” she griped and then launched into a version of Wish I Was the Moon that she ended up hitting over the moon and whatever comes after that with some stratospheric highs to match those of harmony singer Kelly Hogan.

As riveting a chanteuse as Case is – like Paula Carino but with more range – she couldn’t do what she does without a brilliant band and that’s what this one was: John Rauhouse moving between pedal steel, guitar and banjo, Paul Rigby on guitar, Tom V. Ray on upright and electric bass and Kurt Dahl on drums. Case pulled out her gorgeous white Gibson SG tenor guitar for a couple of songs, taking a brief solo during a matter-of-factly chilling version of The Tigers Have Spoken that she obviously couldn’t hear, anxiously looking to Hogan for reassurance that she’d pulled it off. Hogan nodded approvingly and then playfully flipped her the bird after she’d finished – although Hogan delivered plenty of her own casually spine-tingling moments with that maple sugar voice of hers. It’s the perfect complement to Case’s quietly seething, nonchalantly sultry menace: the two are the ultimate noir vocal ensemble.

Case likes short songs, and that’s what most of the set was. She and Hogan held onto Teenage Feeling, defiantly trailing out the end of the chorus and thrilled the crowd with a torchily bittersweet Maybe Sparrow. By the time they hit the maneater chorus of People Got a Lotta Nerve, it was clear from the visuals if not the audio that there were sonic problems onstage. That didn’t stop Case from her guitar solo and all kinds of chilling nuance on The Tigers Have Spoken: “If he wanted to remember,” Case half-spoke, coldly sotto voce, for the caged beast in anyone who’d “lived that way forever” before being gunned down. Favorite, another audience favorite, was as sarcastically noir as expected, with an outro lit up by some practically Middle Eastern chromatics from the electric guitars. Ray bounced his bow off his strings for some scary overtones on a brisk, biting take of the bluegrass-flavored escape anthem Things That Scare Me and did the same later on a haunting, dirgey take of Knock Loud, a song that wouldn’t be out of place in the Randi Russo catalog.

Margaret vs. Pauline was all understated rage over gorgeously noir sonics; Hold On, Hold On, “co-written with the Sadies of Canada,” took on a towering, anthemic, Steve Wynn-style angst maxed out by the jangly reverb of Rigby and Rauhouse. Hogan cranked a music box and timed it perfectly to the vocals during a surprisingly creepy take of Middle Cyclone, which they followed with a pulsing new song with distant Velvet Underground echoes, Hogan explaining that it was “about dating your dad who turns about to be your mom.” The most tender place in Case’s heart is for strangers, so she suggested that audience members imagine her holding them to ease the darkness of the lyrics. Shortly after a lusciously lurid, bitter, harmony-driven Star Witness, they encored with Don’t Forget Me, Rigby taking centerstage with a tersely acidic, sostenuto noiserock solo. It was transcendent in every sense of the word for both band and audience: despite the sonic snafus, nobody was about to forget this one.

A word about Bradley – his vocals aren’t usually ragged like they were this time, probably the result of touring and trying to overdo it since he may not have been able to hear himself over the band. Who were stupendously good: from a distance, this Daptone crew looked a lot like the guys who usually back Sharon Jones. They were a time trip back to 1967 in the best possible way: nobody overplayed, the organ purred, the bass was smooth but sinewy, the horns punched in and then disappeared in a split second and the guitarist showed off expert command of every good, useful, emotionally vivid lick from that era. Bradley has been playing on and off at Bowery Ballroom and the Music Hall of Williamsburg lately: if oldschool soul music is your thing, he’s worth seeing – unlike the lame, cliched, kitschy Delaney & Bonnie wannabes who opened the show.

Thanks for the Memories, Lakeside Lounge

Lakeside Lounge has been sold and will be closing at the end of April. After just over fifteen years in business, the bar that defined oldschool East Village cool will be replaced by a gentrifier whiskey joint, no doubt with $19 artisanal cocktails and hedge fund nebbishes trying to pick up on sorostitutes when their boyfriends are puking in the bathroom – or out of it.

Lakeside opened in 1996 [thanks for the correction, everybody] in the space just north of the former Life Cafe on Ave. B north of 10th Street in the single-story building between tenements that had previously housed a Jamaican fried chicken takeout restaurant. It was an instant hit. Owners Jim Marshall (a.k.a. The Hound, an astute and encyclopedic blues and soul-ologist with a great blog) and Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (of the Del-Lords, and eventually lead guitarist in Steve Earle’s band) had a game plan: create a space that nurtures artists rather than exploiting them as so many venues do. And they stuck to that plan. Before long, Lakeside had become a mecca for good music. For several years, there was literally a good band here just about every night with the exception of the few holidays when the bar was closed. Artists far too popular for the back room would play here just for the fun of it: Earle, Rudy Ray Moore, Graham Parker, John Sinclair, the Sadies, Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby all had gigs here, some of them more than once. Dee Dee Ramone hung out here and eventually did a book signing on the little stage in the back, with people lined up around the block. Steve Wynn had a weekly residency here for a bit (which was amazing). The place helped launch the careers of countless Americana-ish acts including Laura Cantrell, Amy Allison, Mary Lee’s Corvette, Megan Reilly, Tom Clark & the High Action Boys, Tammy Faye Starlite and Spanking Charlene and sustained countless others through good times and bad. And as much as most of the bands played some kind of twangy rock, booking here was actually very eclectic: chanteuses Erica Smith and Jenifer Jackson, indie pop mastermind Ward White, punk rockers Ff and several surf bands from Laika & the Cosmonauts to the Sea Devils all played here.

As the toxic waves of gentrification pushed deeper into the East Village, Lakeside never changed. You could still get a $3 Pabst, or a very stiff well drink for twice that. Their half-price happy hour lasted til 8 PM. The jukebox was expensive (two plays for a buck) but was loaded with obscure R&B, blues and country treasures from the 40s through the 60s. Countless bands used their black-and-white photo booth for album cover shots. Their bar staff had personalities: rather than constantly texting or checking their Facebook pages, they’d talk to you. And they’d become your friends if you hung out and got to know them. Some were sweet, some had a mean streak, but it seemed that there was a rule that to work at Lakeside, you had to be smart, and you had to be cool.

But times changed. To a generation of pampered, status-grubbing white invaders from the suburbs, Lakeside made no sense. The place wasn’t kitschy because its owners were genuinely committed to it, and to the musicians who played there. It had no status appeal because it was cheap, dingy and roughhewn, and Ambel refused to book trendy bands. Had they renovated, put in sconces and ash-blonde paneling, laid some tile on the concrete floor, kicked out the bands and brought in “celebrity DJ’s” and started serving $19 artisanal cocktails, they might have survived. But that would have been suicide. It wouldn’t have been Lakeside anymore.

There won’t be any closing party, but the bands on the club calendar will be playing their scheduled shows. Ambel plays the final show at 9 on the 30th. Before then, stop in and say goodbye to a quintessential New York treasure.

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