New York Music Daily

Love's the Only Engine of Survival

Month: March, 2023

Holy Hand Grenade Bring Their Dynamic, Catchy Afrobeat Grooves to Bushwick

More and more good New York bands who were around before the totalitarian hammer fell in March of 2020 are reemerging intact, and one of the most smartly danceable ones is Holy Hand Grenade. The Afrobeat group, led by tenor saxophonist Lynn Ligammari and featuring a cast of horn players alongside keyboardist Chris Doyle, guitarist Timothy James, bassist Ronald Lanzilotta, percussionist Marcus Farrar and drummer David Palazola have a show coming up on March 24 at 9 at Alphaville. The Bushwick venue seems stuck in one of those goofy dollars-and-cents cover charge schemes, meaning that it’ll cost you $14 cash if you round it up a quarter or so.

The band’s latest single is The Chase, with rapidfire Ethiopian-flavored horns over a brisk latin-flavored shuffle beat, spare lingering guitar and punchy organ. With all the lulls and swells, it could be a Mulatu Astatke cover. Speaking of which, the single before that, from the fall of 2020, is the band’s otherworldly, psychedelic version of his classic Yekermo Sew, which rises from a floating suspense to a darkly majestic peak.

In 2019, the band released their debut album, Celebrate Not Separate, which is also up at Bandcamp along with their other releases. It’s a fantastic record: the riffs are catchy, the solos are succinct and you can dance to everything on it.

They blend cumulus-cloud keys, skeletal guitar and bright horn bursts in the vampy first cut, This Life. Warm brass, understated soul/funk guitar and starry keys percolate through the trickily rhythmic second track, The Follow Through. Bumping Into Strangers – a thought that would generate endless paranoia just months after the song was released – has a tight, brisk pulse, Doyle’s psychedelic cumbia-flavored keyboard solo at the center.

Delicate surf guitar and balmy tropicalia waft through track four, Look, as the Ethiopian ambience drifts in from the distance. The horns get brighter and the percussion rumbles further to the forefront along with the chugging bass and guitar in the album’s title cut. Then Ligammari cuts loose with her sax in the aptly titled Summer Joy, up to a fiery, insistent Ethiopian peak and then back down.

The band get whispery and spare but then take a suspenseful upward trajectory in Projections, with a thoughtful, smoky Ligammari solo. They close the record with Be Easy, a surprisingly cohesive mashup of edgy Ethiopiques and balmy Brazilian flavors.


An Understatedly Shattering New Video From Dr. Tess Lawrie and Margaret Anna Alice

Along with Tessa Lena, novelist and poet Margaret Anna Alice is the most lyrical writer on the front lines of the freedom movement here in the US. MAA, as her colleagues call her, is revered for her meticulous sourced documentation and her withering psychological insights. All of her work dating back to 2021 is indexed in what she calls a “wakeup toolkit” on specific topics from denial of the present holocaust, to the psychology of philanthropaths (a word she invented, which has since entered popular discourse).

Her latest work is a hauntingly beautiful video recording of her poem Mistakes Were Not Made, recited by UK freedom fighter Dr. Tess Lawrie, set to a spare, somber musical score by Shawn Patrick Michael. You can read the original, inspired by Dr. Mike Yeadon and complete with links to all sources, here.

On the lighter side, Sasha Latypova – the world’s #1 analyst of the Department of Defense/big pharma connection and their lethal injection contracts – has breaking news, a one-minute cartoon video of a secret recording of Bill Gates conspiring with Dr. Faulty to destroy the world!

Pianist Laurie Bender and Sage Hana Release a Haunting Video Reflection on the Hope and Horror of 2023

Laurie Bender is the pianist that the legions of youtubers who post melancholy rainy-day solo clips can only dream of becoming. But Bender’s music is much more dynamic, and soulful, and spiritual. Based in Maryland, she plays solo as well as with choirs and singers. One suspects that she is used to playing for larger and more attentive crowds at her weekly church gig than most New York clubs can hold.

Give a listen to her quietly shattering, intuitive, and rapt but wounded solo performance of Michael W. Smith‘s guardedly hopeful ballad, Breathe. The way she picks it up on the second chorus will take your breath away if you listen closely.

As it turns out, she recorded it on her phone in a single take as the soundtrack for the latest harrowing, spot-on video pastiche by Sage Hana Productions. It’s a somber juxtaposition of freedom movement heroes in their element, alongside metaphorically loaded imagery. There’s Sucharit Bhakdi looking solemn and saturnine; a rare shot of Mike Yeadon in his garage working on his motorcycle; Mark Crispin Miller asserting, “In that case, we cannot…”  and a haunted, lustrously beautiful Celia Farber in a still from Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s film The Real Anthony Fauci.

And notice the mysterious couple texting their friend upstairs from a snowy sidewalk on what could be Morgan Avenue in Bushwick.

Revisiting New York Jamband Legends at a Familiar Haunt

Hazmat Modine are one of the world’s edgiest and most enduring jambands. They got their start a couple of decades ago as a darkly oldtimey-flavored New Orleans blues unit which sometimes featured instruments as diverse as the Chinese sheng – a sort of hybrid harmonica/tuba – and the lowest of all low reed instruments, the contrabass clarinet. Charismatic belter and frontman Wade Schuman plays a mean chromatic harp, but he’s also a hell of an oldtime resonator blues guitarist. In the early days, the group’s signature sound was dueling blues harps; as the years went by, they went deeper into reggae, klezmer and more electric rock sounds. They also enjoyed a more-or-less biweekly residency at Terra Blues, which lasted from the early zeros until the 2020 plandemic. The good news is that they’re back, with a gig there at a little after 7 PM on March 18. Cover is $20.

Hazmat Modine had the misfortune to release their most recent album, Box of Breath – streaming at Bandcamp – barely a couple of months before the lockdown. The big new development for the band here was the detour they’d taken into African music: Balla Kouyate’s rippling balafon is a frequent, rippling presence.

On the first track, Crust of Bread, guitarist Erik Della Penna starts out on banjitar, playing a circling Malian riff and then switches to a tantalizingly brief, careening electric solo over tuba player Joseph Daley’s energetic riffage. At the end, saxophonist Steve Elson, trumpeter Pam Fleming and trombonist Reut Regev whip up a little dixieland over drummer Tim Keiper’s spare forward drive.

The album’s title track is an older concert favorite, Schuman making his way through a litany of period-perfect 1920s blues aphorisms that start out sly and allusive and grow more somber as the band move in a more brassy direction behind him. Then they make an oldtimey, brass-fueled sway out of a Memphis soul tune in Be There, Schuman and Della Penna getting into an animated duel midway through.

Hoarder, one of Schuman’s more colorful character studies, is a launching pad for some of the band’s more vivid Rube Goldberg exchanges: somewhere there’s a great silent cartoon that deserves this music. Della Penna moves to the mic for Lonely Man, a starkly swaying Charley Patton-flavored oldtime blues tune that would fit perfectly with his other band, Kill Henry Sugar: the brass and Schuman’s expressive wah-wah harp add a brighter edge.

They slink their way into hi-de-ho tango territory dotted with vintage soul horn riffs in Get Get Out. Once again, the band built a wry lattice of riffs, this time alongside guest on Mark Stewart on idiophone, Schuman running his harp through an octave pedal for extra surreal, squiggly textures.

From there they sway into Lazy Time, another oldschool soul tune taken back to its increasingly boisterous hot 20s roots. Della Penna returns to the mic for In Our Home, a metaphorically loaded, elegantly arranged blues cautionary tale, Charlie Burnham’s viola sailing amid the spiky mix of guitar, banjitar, tuba and the horns.

Ain´t Goin That Way is the closest thing to the band’s original sound, a chromatically bristling, reverb-iced Schuman harp solo over an icepick strut, and some terse, bluesy lines from Regev. Della Pena takes to the banjitar and the mic again in Dark River, a waltz that’s the darkest and most rustic track here.

Daley hits a reggae groove in Delivery Man, a cynical political broadside with some of the album’s most memorably snarling guitar and harp work. Schuman channels his inner Louis Jordan in Extra-Deluxe-Supreme, an innuendo-laden chronicle of a late-night trip to his local bodega. They wind up the album with the loosely vamping Sound Check in China, which could be exactly that. Good to see this familiar presence still at the top of their surreal, shapeshifting game after all these years.

The Elgin Marbles Bring Their Wickedly Catchy, Psychedelic Jangle and Clang to Bushwick

What is up with this week? Suddenly it’s 2019 again. There are more great multiple-band bills around New York than there have been in, um, years. Wonder why that is?

The best of the bunch is at Gold Sounds on March 18 and starts anticlimactically at 8 with psychedelic janglerock guitar goddess Barbara Endes’ band Girls on Grass, followed by cult supergroup the Elgin Marbles, who play the wickedly catchy, serpentine songs of bandleader/guitarist Dann Baker’s previous outfit, Love Camp 7. Up next are Canadian country crew the Pickups and then Cementhead, who enjoyed a good run (and a revolving door of band members) as one of the few memorable indie bands in New York in the late 90s and zeros. Cover is $12, dirt cheap for a lineup of this caliber.

This blog was in the house for one of the Elgin Marbles’ first shows, at Troost in Greenpoint in August of 2019. It was a psychedelic janglefest. Bassist Dave Mandl did his usual swoop-and-dive routine where Love Camp 7’s late, great Bruce Hathaway would have punched in with his judicious, melodic lines (Hathaway was also a first-rate composer of new classical music: let’s hope his orchestral scores will someday resurface somewhere).

Drummer Heather Wagner had the hardest job of all. Negotiating the late, great Dave Campbell’s labyrinthine lines with any similar kind of flair would have been a steep learning curve under any circumstances, but she was up to the challenge and was relentless about it. The addition of Greek/Cypriot surf band the Byzan-tones‘ guitarist and bandleader George Sempepos added to the intricate, starry lattice of sound. Baker balanced his erudite jangle and chime with the occasional, unexpectedly buzzy blast of noise to keep the crowd on their toes, when they weren’t hanging on his winkingly sly lit-rock lyrics and cat-ate-the-canary vocals. There seems to be only one video from the show that’s made it to the web, but it’s a good one, Sempepos’ jagged, spiky slide guitar over Baker’s slinky sway.

Leather Lung Open a Scorching Night in Greenpoint on the 18th

This week is a great one for heavy rock. There’s a primo triplebill at St. Vitus on March 18 for $20, which as you may have noticed is cheap for what they’ve been charging since emerging (conspicuously late) from the lockdown insanity of the last three years. That’s most likely due to online ticket price-gouging. Just as Grubhub screws your local falafel place, the Silicon Valley scum are grifting off an already stressed and increasingly depleted music venue clientele.

And of course we know that the whole UN2030 agenda is to get rid of live performance altogether.

But this show’s worth it and more. Leather Lung, who are all over the place, from doom to heavy psych and a post-Pantera vibe that they sludge it up and strip down to the iron frame, are on first at around 7. High Reeper, whose fuzzed-out Black Sabbath emulation is spot-on, are up next. The increasingly diverse Ruby the Hatchet, whose haunting lockdown reflection Fear Is a Cruel Master was one of the ten best rock records of 2022, headline sometime after 9.

Full disclosure: this piece was originally supposed to be a run-through of the most recent High Reeper record, which is as darkly tuneful (some would say predictable) as you could possibly want. But Leather Lung’s latest ep Dive Bar Devil – streaming at Bandcamp – was too good to resist. The Boston band have a sense of humor to match their chops: the inbetween-songs bar skit, and the one with the poor guy at the tollbooth, are pretty spot-on.

Otherwise, they put some thrash into the slow-raging, distantly doom-infused first track, Pissing Gasoline. Track two, Road Soda is built around a serpentine heavy blues riff, with a wall of distortion for extra hypnotic factor. The best cut of all of them is Far Too Familiar, with its eerie delta blues slide riffs and echoey, drowning-pool calm before the buzzsaw guitars kick in – the (uncredited) second guitarist is a welcome addition.

One of New York’s Great Surf and Twang Guitarists Visits a Familiar Williamsburg Watering Hole This Week

Jason Loughlin is one of the elite guitarists in Americana because he has his own sound rather than just a deep bag of recycled country and blues licks. Much as there probably aren’t many classic country and surf rock licks he doesn’t know, he always finds a way to make them sound fresh. Big names – Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris among them – are aware of this and have enlisted his services for a long time. But Loughlin is also a bandleader, and has had a regular more-or-less monthly residency at Skinny Dennis pretty much since they opened, with a long break during the collective insanity in 2020 and 2021. He’s back there with his band on March 16 at 9.

Loughlin’s recorded output as a leader is not extensive, but what he has is absolutely brilliant. His most recent album, Peach Crate came out quite awhile ago – his Bandcamp page lists two different dates. If expertly twangy guitar instrumentals that transcend the surf genre are your thing, you have to hear this (and you may have already – getting to this one a little late!) It’s also been quite awhile since this blog was in the house at Loughlin show. If memory serves right, the last time was at the old Hank’s in 2015, where he was playing his usual tasteful, purposeful leads alongside folk noir songstress Jessie Kilguss.

He opens the record with the warm, briskly shuffling title track, a western swing highway theme with some snazzy, rapidfire guitar riffage over sailing layers of lapsteel, bassist Jason Hogue and Stephen Chopek subtly pushing the beat.

Loughlin builds an intricate web of lickety-split, tongue-in-cheek Buck Owens Bakersfield phrasing in the second track, Whoopsie Daisy. Tango and Cash is a real treat, part loping Ventures summer surf theme, part chiming countrypolitan, part Tex-Mex. Woody’s in the Hood is another gem of a mashup, a Django shuffle as noir icons Big Lazy would have done it.

Likewise, Steep Grade is a creepy, picturesque spiderwalking number, but with plenty of jokes too good to give away. The trio pick up the pace with She’s Something Sweet, a percolating blend of Bakersfield twang and elegant 60s soul. Hello Tijuana, Goodbye Kidney is not the horror tableau you might expect, but instead, a plush, lingering 6/8 ballad without words. Who knew that being on the wrong side of an organ trafficking scheme could be so enjoyable!

Loughlin builds a tight web of jump blues-flavored twin harmonies in Recordian and follows with the chugging, erudite Slack Jaw, part Buck Owens, part late-period Bob Wills, with Rich Hinman on pedal steel. Loughlin winds up the album with Headless Body Topless Bar, a slow, lurid roadhouse theme with echoes as diverse as the Raybeats and the Friends of Dean Martinez.

Howling Giant Headline a Killer Heavy Psych Triplebill in Queens Next Week

One of the best metal and heavy psychedelic triplebills of the year is happening this March 15 starting sometime after 7 at TV Eye in Ridgewood, where Stoogoid stoner boogie band Sun Voyager open the night, followed by the more eclectically noisy and considerably heavier Restless Spirit, and then shapeshifting heavy psych band Howling Giant. Cover is $15

Sun Voyager are natives and used to play around here a fair amount, at least before the lockdown, but the other two bands have been conspicuously absent until recently. One good record to spin for the show is Howling Giant’s 2019 vinyl release The Space Between Worlds, streaming at Bandcamp. Why this album and not their most recent ep? Because the central narrative is about a huntress who has to fight off a mythical dream eater. As Tessa Lena has chronicled, what better metaphor for the last three years of hell?

It’s also a good capsule of what the band bring, live: stoner sludge with frequently tricky post-Mars Volta rhythmic shifts and terse guitar solos. Drummer Zach Wheeler hits a couple of martial flurries, then launches into an impressive lithe forward drive for such heavy music as guitarist/frontman Tom Polzine builds a dense wall of chords and bassist Sebastian Baltes holds down the gritty lows in the album’s first track, Comet Rider. Organist Drew Harakal adds swirl; Polzine hits his pedalboard and fires off a couple of tantalizingly brief solos.

The band slow down for Nomad, Polzine’s chiming loops over a murky drift through deep space. Again, he could have taken ten times as long with that first wah-wah solo and nobody would be complaining.

Ghosts in the Well is a surprising and rewarding detour into slow, mythical acoustic folk, followed by The River Guide, a mini-epic as Sleep might have done it thirty years ago, with an unexpected dream-nebula interlude.

Ice Castle begins with fuzz, tasty doublebass drum volleys and then the band pick up steam with more of a doomy, vengeful atmosphere and smoky organ. “They’re building a machine hiding in the wasteland,” Polzine announces, “The lab is overrun,” as he and the band launch into Cybermancer and the Doomsday Express, a thrashier, more 60s flavored dash through the gloom.

Harakal adds glimmering electric piano textures to the album’s most hypnotically swaying, drifting track, Everlight. The band pick it up, then descend to a lull with Wheeler’s shamanic beats before rising to a hammering attack where the bass finally cuts loose.

They slowly sway their way to a pummeling battle scene and then some venomous tremolo-picking from Polzine in The Orb. Does this space odyssey end well? It would seem so from the final cut, Stone Giant, but at the twin solos hover over the torrents of organ and the relentless, ornate drums, the message is “watch your back.”

The Best Twin Peaks Cover Band in New York Slinks Into Bushwick

Of all the extreme niche cover bands in the world, one of the best are Fuck You Tammy. The bandname is a reference to the most recent iteration of Twin Peaks. The group – a spinoff of the similarly cinematic but more techy Scam Avenue – dedicate themselves to playing music from every incarnation of David Lynch’s iconic film noir franchise: the first two network tv seasons, the brief cable comeback series and the Twin Peaks movie.

They released their lone single so far, a lush but hauntingly intimate and psychedelic version of True Love’s Flame, in February 2020, barely a month before the lockdown. The good news is that they’re back, and have a relatively rare hometown show coming up on March 15 at 8 PM at Alphaville. The venue is one of many in (increasingly less) trendy Brooklyn neighborhoods who’ve fallen for the goofy dollars-and-cents online ticketing fad (which may be a condition of taking Trump plandemic loans). What that means for customers, assuming that whoever’s working the door isn’t making change, is that it will probably set you back an even $14 cash.

This blog was at Long Island City Bar in February of 2018, where the band drifted through a lustrous, lusciously lurid set. Unfortunately, that show didn’t make it to the web, but a shorter show from the Bell House from a couple of weeks later did and is up at youtube. And it’s every bit as good: the Queens gig was more instrumentals, while this one focuses more on vocal numbers.

What’s best about this band is that they add subtle original touches, when they’re not doing a stunning job recreating these cult classics note for note. They open the show with a vigorous punk jazz-tinged take of The Pink Room, the creepy Black Lodge stripper theme from the movie, propelled with a stalking pulse by bassist Julie Rozansky and drummer Nate Smith as saxophonist Anthony Cekay fires off jagged, smoky accents. Then frontwoman Devery Doleman – who has much more powerful pipes than Julee Cruise – takes over in front of the band and turns in a similarly pouncing cover of Floating

Keyboardist Bill Ferullo and guitarist David Andreana open Falling with the Twin Peaks title theme: just as at the Queens gig, the effect is a lot more stark and sinister than the plush, saturnine studio sound of the original score. Then Doleman shimmies in her red dress and goes way up into Cruise-ing highs for Rocking Back Inside My Heart, the wistful pop ballad from the comeback season.

Rozansky, who has a softer voice, takes over the mic and keeps the sad 50s vibe going in Just You, Andreana firing off spot-on reverbtoned jangle and whipcrack behind her. Then the band bring the menace back with a brisk take of Into the Night, eerie echoey electric piano against spare guitar jangle and an unscripted, smoky Cekay sax solo. It’s the high point of the show.

Little Jimmy Scott’s version of Sycamore Trees is impossible to beat, so the band reinvent it with more of a cliffhanger guitar noir edge. They go back to slow, distantly pensive 6/8 retro ballad territory with The World Spins as Rozansky punches in with her treble up behind Doleman’s angst-fueled vocals, and then max out the mystery as they wind it out with a dead calm. The two frontwoman sing disconsolate harmonies in the closer, a meticulous recreation of The Nightingale. Where Tom Csatari’s Twin Peaks covers focus more on the menace that a band can find outside the lines, Fuck You Tammy max out the red neon inner core.

Why Are So Many Bass Players and Drummers Dying Suddenly?

For almost two decades Mark Crispin Miller‘s News From Underground has been a must-read source of information that the corporate media would never touch. When the plandemic was deployed on us in March of 2020, Miller’s daily feed was a lifeline. Most recently, he and his army of volunteers have been compiling a weekly necrology of people dying suddenly, around the world.

Miller’s heartbreaking collection of obituaries and news items both dignifies these individuals as likely victims of the ongoing genocide from the lethal Covid injections, and also provides valuable evidence for future prosecutions.

Miller is also a first-class songwriter, and has been paying considerable attention to the ongoing sudden deaths of musicians. His piece today focuses on the unusual number of bassists and drummers who have fallen victim since the jab rollout at the end of 2020. Miller has broken down the death reportage by bassists and drummers, respectively. What is most troubling is that even though jab uptake has stalled, deaths have not.

A cynic would say that this situation opens up innumerable job opportunities for noncompliant musicians. But the tragedy is that so many individual voices have been silenced. You can play somebody else’s beats or basslines, but it’s never the same.