Menacingly Alluring Noir Rocker Raquel Vidal & the Monday Men Roll Into Manhattan This Thursday
As Cold Spring, New York multi-instrumentalist/bandleader Raquel Vidal tells it, the Monday Man was a particularly valuable member of the circus. He’d be in charge of stealing fresh laundry off the line as the circus train rolled out of town at the start of a busy week after the previous weekend’s engagement. Together with her tight, swinging noir Americana band the Monday Men, Vidal rolls into Manhattan for a gig at 9 PM on November 12 at Shrine uptown. If you’re a little short of ten grand for a VIP ticket to that stupefyingly overpriced Neko Case show in Fort Greene, Vidal and her alluringly Lynchian songs will hit the spot.
There isn’t a whole lot of Vidal’s stuff online, but every bit of it is killer. You can watch her and the band from the front doing the ominously shuffling Black Cat – with a menacingly spiky guitar solo from Mark Westin – or from behind the drums, doing the purposefully plaintive Pure Heart at a Hurricane Sandy relief concert upstate in Beacon a couple of years ago. She’s also got a Reverbnation page with a handful of studio tracks that make room for the nuances and dangerous edges of her voice over the band’s similarly menacing, tight groove.
“I’ve earned the right to drown my eyes and drink all night, but baby I won’t cry,” Vidal intones with a steely nonchalance on the propulsively jangly studio version of Black Cat. The studio take of Pure Heart turns out to be a noir swing cautionary tale: “Don’t sleep your life away, there are no make-up days,” Vidal warns. Tell – as in “Tell all your friends there was a who’s who of every kind of sin” – takes that Gatsbyesque party narrative to its sardonic, sinister conclusion over the syncopated swing of bassist Seth Masten and drummer Todd Guidice.
Leather Trunk works a methodically creepy bolero-rock groove in the same vein as Karla Rose & the Thorns, set “On a shore where your dreams lay dying,” as Vidal puts it, a more retro, literate spin on Nancy Sinatra Vegas noir. When Vidal hits that last, muted line, “Let’s pretend that we were once in love,” the effect is gently devastating. The last of the Reverbnation tracks is Doin’ What They Told Me, a snarlingly menacing, twin guitar-fueled stomp that wouldn’t be out of place in the Eilen Jewell catalog, looking toward a doomed future date “when the market falls.” That lowlit back room a couple of blocks south of 135th could become a Twin Peaks set for about an hour this Thursday night.