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Category: cabaret music

A Deliciously Irreverent Plandemic-Era Update on a Long-Lost Song Cycle

Johannes Muhlberg was a talented South African pianist and songwriter. His specialty was clever jazz-inflected cabaret. Beginning in 1968, he began work on a musical theatre project, but abandoned it and never completed it before his tragic death in 1982. He never released a recording.

Almost thirty years later, his son Victor and his family were able to locate the original cassette tapes and sketches for the musical. Victor, a songwriter himself, decided to pick up where his father had left off. When South Africa was locked down in the 2020 plandemic, he decided to change the plotline to a series of reflections on alienation, atomization and loss, told from several points of view.

The new project began to take shape when he teamed up with guitarist Clive Ridgway, who pulled together a diversely talented cast of singers and musicians to bring it to life. The result is Twelve Days of Song, which Victor Muhlberg considers a work in progress rather than a finished album. Fortunately for us, he’s put the songs up as a youtube playlist. With dad’s music and son’s words, it’s a witheringly funny, deliciously transgressive portrait of the here and now. This is not a depressing collection: Muhlberg’s characters stand their ground, resist and have a good laugh in the process.

Roger Maitland sings Valentines Ballad, a chilling chessgame parable set to a slinky noir cabaret backdrop, “On a board captured by silent coup…resistance from those you revile.” Tony Drake swing the piano line; Ridgway adds spare, distantly Romany-flavored guitar.

Bev Scott-Brown takes over the mic with a resolute bittersweetness in I Say Goodbye, a calm broadside against the hated Green Pass vaxxport: “The state will not impose on me its arbitrary goal, nor take me down the wretched road of segregation and control.”

Who Wants to Work, with Godfrey Johnson on vocals, is a slyly amusing, ragtime-tinged look at universal basic income and its sinister implications. Ridgway sings Pipers Tune, a savagely satirical view of “The covidian cult on standby to feed the beast of the noble lie.”

Johnson returns for a duet with Regina Malan in The Circus Show, an irresistibly over-the-top, brassy, Broadway-esque capsule of the clowns orchestrating the lockdown drama. Next, he takes up The Fictional Tale of Mr. Barb, a spot-on, amusing, waltzing portrait of oligarchical greed and technocratic hubris: “I’ve a soft spot for control…as I herd the population, to the cusp of my creation.”

Scott-Brown takes the mic again in I Wonder Why, an understatedly plaintive portrait that anyone who searched for other noncompliant voices over the last 31 months can relate to. Ridgway picks up his acoustic guitar for It’s Just Not ‘Just,’ bringing to mind Phil Ochs with a litany of curfews and mandates and Trojan horses, trace-and-track and endless divide-and-conquer schemes. “Once the prey has made its way inside the trap, it’s unlikely it’s ever coming back.”

Selim Kagee lends his operatic pipes to A Requiem, a sober, baroque-tinged hymn of sorts, reflecting on the victims of the first bioweapon and then the lockdowns. Johnson channels a calm defiance in The Freedom in Me, “A season distorted by digital chime” where “A city so smart has the soul of a robot with steel in its heart.”

Undeniably Mine was inspired by the scientists and doctors who brought their science and sanity to the Better Way conference in the UK. Ridgway builds a spiky blend of guitars and mandolin in Colourful Day, a celebration of the diversity in the freedom movement

Scott-Brown channels hope against hope in Midnight & Moonlight, a gorgeous, starkly fingerpicked guitar waltz in a Cry Me a River vein:

It’s stranger than fiction with danger so grave
Leading the way to the new world so brave
Lies and illusions, perceptions untrue
Breaking the faith of the things you once knew

Muhlberg offers guarded optimism at the end. The playlist concludes with the wedding song When Two People Fall in Love, sung by Penny Radsma. Even more than the music, what’s most inspiring about these songs is that Muhlberg found a talented cast with an equal commitment to freedom to bring them to life.

Thanks to Mark Crispin Miller, whose must-read daily news feed is basically the other New York Music Daily.

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Darkly Energetic, Carnivalesque Rock Narratives From Northern English Band Weimar

Today’s installment in the ongoing October-long Halloween celebration is Dancing on a Volcano, by Manchester, UK band Weimar, streaming at Bandcamp. You could describe them as gothic circus rock with tinges of psychedelic folk and a loose-limbed rhythm section. About time we had some goth music on this page this month, right?

Not quite. This isn’t all that over-the-top, and it’s a lot more energetic. In case you’re looking for sterile museum-piece 80s rehash, this isn’t it. And much as there are innumerable familiar tropes here, these half-sung, half-spoken songs resonate in the here and now. These guys like ’em long: pretty much everything on the record is in the five-to-six-minute category.

You might not expect a goth record to open with a well-loved Sonic Youth riff, but that’s how Soho Rain begins. Frontman Aidan Cross narrates a seedy London street scene over John Armstrong’s loping bass and Anthony ‘Eddy’ Edwards’ drums, guitarists Johann Kloos and Stephen Sarsen taking their mix of chime and resonance up to a killer chorus.

Track two is The Sociopath, a mashup of noir cabaret and flamenco rock, an apt parable for the era of Bill Gates and Rochelle Walensky:

What do you play with?
Imagination
What is it saving?
Your reputation
As you herd the sheep the flock will follow
And they march blindly on like there’s no tomorrow

The band shift between a horror-movie riff and a familiar Jesus & Mary Chain vamp in I Smashed the Looking Glass, up to an ending that recalls the Electric Prunes. Sketchy verse gives way to bounding, catchy chorus in The Hangers-On: Cross’ scowling rap about starfucking and its consequences works on both personal and political levels.

Keening slide guitar mingles within the clang in Arandora Star, a grimly pouncing seafaring ballad. The group reach back to a mosquitoey 60s Velvets jangle ambience on the wings of Armstrong’s trebly, climbing bass riffage in Polished Decay, a snide chronicle of the ravages of gentrification.

The band finally go for a lingering, slowly swaying Bauhans atmosphere in Hunter’s Moon, an allusive deep-state scenario spiced with spare Psychedelic Furs-style sax. Then they hit a tense, uneasily syncopated pulse in Faded Queen of the Night, a metaphorically bristling corporate parable.

The band work a surreal mashup of latin soul, loosely tethered disco and jagged, skeletal quasi-funk in Nights in Spanish Harlem. They take their time elevating the alienation ballad Heaven on High Street East to a fleeting, screaming psychedelic guitar break before the sullen, doomed routine returns. They close the record with The Tatterdemalions, an understatedly sinister Celtic-tinged dance fueled by Kloos’ pump organ chords.

Cécile McLorin Salvant Brings Phantasmagoria and Depth to the Blue Note on the 20th

Cécile McLorin Salvant is the most original and unpredictably entertaining jazz vocalist in the world right now. Much as watching a webcast is no substitute for being there, her livestream from the Detroit Jazz Festival about a week ago was off the hook. She’s bringing her richly conceptual, shapeshifting show to a week at the Blue Note starting on Sept 20 and continuing through 25th, with sets at 8 and 10:30 PM. You can get in for $30.

Her latest album Ghost Song – streaming at Bandcamp – reflects her vast, panoramic, insatiably eclectic view of what she can transform into jazz, as well as the unselfconscious depth, existential poignancy but also the phantasmagorical thrills she brings to her music.

She opens the record with a reverb-washed duo take of Kate Bush’s teenage art-rock anthem Wuthering Heights with bassist Paul Sikivie, one part Scottish folk, one part Hildegard von Bingen.

The music gets pretty wild as the band come in with Salvant’s medley of a surreal, shapeshifting, banjo-fueled take of the Harold Arlen swing tune Optimistic Voices juxtaposed with a slow, balmy soul version of Gregory Porter’s No Love Dying. Alexa Tarantino’s wafting flute recedes for Sullivan Fortner’s hovering, distantly gospel-tinged piano over Keita Ogawa’s percussion

Salvant reaches for the rafters with a shivery, rustic blues intensity to kick off her title track, rising from shivery Marvin Sewell blues guitar to creepily cheery Lynchian 50s pop: imagine Carol Lipnik singing something from the Hairspray soundtrack. The girls of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus take over with an aptly otherworldly pavane on the way out.

Another Salvant original, Obligation, begins with a sarcastic, lickety-split Broadway-esque scamper and quickly becomes an understatedly harrowing portrait of what amounts to rape. Fortner gives it an aptly sinister outro. Gordon Sumner’s Until makes a good segue, Tarantino’s flute rising with an eerie tropicality over Fortner’s stabbing syncopation and Ogawa’s elegantly brushy rhythm.

Salvant plays piano, joined by Aaron Diehl on distantly whirling pipe organ in I Lost My Mind, a tersely carnivalesque, loopy mid 70s Peter Gabriel-style art-rock tableau. Diehl switches to his usual piano on Moon Song, a slowly unwinding Salvant ballad spiced with biting Satie-esque chromatics over drummer Kyle Poole’s whispery brushes.

Back at the piano, Salvant follows an increasingly sinister, ragtime-inflected, loopy stroll in the instrumental Trail Mix. The band return for a suspenseful, cynically protean romp through the Brecht/Weill cabaret tune The World Is Mean: what a theme for post-March 2020 hell!

Daniel Swenberg adds lute and theorbo to Dead Poplar, Salvant’s pastoral setting of the text of a metaphorically loaded, embittered letter from Alfred Stieglitz to Georgia O’Keefe. Salvant goes back to wise, knowing, summery 70s soul in Thunderclouds and closes the record with a soaring a-cappella version of the folk song Unquiet Grave, letting the grisly lyrics speak for themselves. It would be an understatement to count this as one of the dozen or so best jazz albums of the past twelve months.

A Haunter of the New York City Subway Emerges From the Underground

It was past eleven on a raw, gloomy, pretty desolate Thursday night on the Lower East Side of New York in the fall of 2014. Waiting impatiently for the F train, a daily New York music blog owner leaned against a pole on the Second Avenue subway platform after a show by My Brighest Diamond. Across the way, a petite, black-clad woman wearing raccoon-eye mascara played instrumentals on an accordion.

The concert had been underwhelming. Shara Nova’s crystalline voice had soared as high as anyone could have wanted, but the band was a lot more stripped-down, compared to the symphonic lineup she’d had at an outdoor festival the year before. And the swirl and lushness of that performance was conspicuously absent. To the publicist who hooked up that show, this is a mea culpa, eight years late.

But the best was yet to come that night. Stationed in her usual spot on the platform, Melissa Elledge slowly worked her way into an absolutely chilling, gorgeously rubato take of Satie’s Gymnopedie No. 1. And then followed it with an even more spacious, haunting version of Gymnopedie No. 2! For those who have no idea how beautiful Satie sounds on accordion, fast forward to 2:30 of this video of Elledge in her element, five years later. In a split second, that whole night was redeemed.

Elledge also plays the occasional above-ground show, and she’s doing an official outdoor performance on the water behind Battery Park tomorrow, June 21 starting at 4:30. As a bonus, you can catch a more theatrically-inclined, accordion-wielding artist, Mary Spencer Knapp, beforehand starting at around 2 if you have some time in the middle of the day.

Elledge has recorded with groups including folk noir band Thee Shambels but not much as a solo artist. Her Bandcamp page has a single, For Beethoven, with Love and Distortion, a wry rearrangement of a famous theme which she jams out on the platform a lot and is too funny to spoil.

She also has a Soundcloud page. The first track is a steady, ominously pulsing, uber-gothic solo accordion version of Clint Mansell’s Luz Aeterna, from the Requiem For a Dream score. She echoes that ambience a little later on with Radiohead’s Exit Music For a Film.

The rest of the page is eclectic to the extreme, and a lot of fun. Most of this is live. Elledge takes Duke Elington’s Shout ‘Em, Aunt Tillie and basically makes noir cabaret out of it – at least until a train rumbles into the station. She fires off a strutting backing track to the Coolio hit Gangsta’s Paradise, along with a cleverly reharmonized standard that she calls You Must Take the A Train…It Doesn’t Stop Here, Though. That’s a reference to how, for years, the F was constantly rerouted at night, away from Elledge’s regular busking space. Little did we know how that was just a part of a slow lead-up to the divide-and-conquer of 2020.

Elledge comes out of a classical piano background, so the Soundcloud tracks also include a Romantically-tinged take of Philip Glass’ Wichita Vortex Sutra, complete with a voiceover of the Allen Ginsberg text. And if you have the time, there’s an irresistibly fun and unexpectedly tight accordion orchestra version of Terry Riley’s In C, with Elledge leading the ensemble.

Playful Cosmopolitan Songs and a Falafel Hill Album Release Show From Eclectic Chanteuse Ourida

Algerian-French-American singer Ourida was making tracks in the small-club scene in New York before the 2020 lockdown crushed the arts here. The good news is that this irrepressible, genre-defying songwriter is back in action, with a new album, Wings, which hasn’t hit her Bandcamp page yet. She’s playing the album release show on June 21 at 7:30 at a new venue, Atlantic Brooklyn at 333 Atlantic Ave. just off Hoyt. Cover is $15; it’s about equidistant from the Atlantic Ave. station and the F at Bergen St.

On the album, she sings in expressive English and French, and plays both keys and ukulele, joined by Jonathan Levy on guitar and bass, Eli Crews (who also produced) on EWI, theremin and optigon, and Joe Hertenstein on drums.

The first song, simply titled Blues, is a more psychedelic, dubwise take on dark Amy Winehouse soul that draws a line straight back to Nina Simone. Ourida and band go for a cheerily minimalist trip-hop vibe in the second track, Don’t Talk. She sticks to a similar 90s groove, switching to French for track three, Deux Guitares, lightly spiced with violin from Ernesto Llorens.

Kane Mathis adds warily spare oud in Berlin, a surreal, shadowy rai-cabaret number with an unexpectedly towering, intense coda. Ourida returns to the piano for the hypnotically vampy Bees and follows that with G Train, a catchy, stomping uke-rock salute to the lure of deep-Brooklyn nightlife.

Siren Song, a coyly swaying nocturne, has two basses on it: that’s Panagiotis Andreou on electric and Or Bareket on acoustic. Levy’s film-noir reverb guitar trades off eerily with Mathis’ oud in Porte de la Chapelle, a shout-out to the Paris neighborhood. She stays in broodingly catchy North African/Parisian mode for the next track, Joker.

Ourida and the band rise from a brisk hip-hop groove to a whirling circus rock atmosphere in L’emeute (“Uprising”). The longest and trippiest number here is a mysteriously cut-and-pasted, dubby take of Leonard Cohen’s Dance Me to the End of Love. The album’s final cut is Home. a benedictory gospel tune that wouldn’t be out of place in the Rachelle Garniez catalog. This record grows on you: the arrangements are stark and imaginative and Ourida’s joie de vivre is infectious.

Singles, Amusement and Inspiration for Mid-March

Today’s self-guided playlist is about a half hour of great songs, some snarky comedy and useful information. Click on artist names for their webpages, click on song titles or descriptions for audio/video.

Top of the list today is Austrian group the Mona Lisa Twins I Bought Myself a Politician, a venomously funny oldtimey-flavored swing parable of the plandemic. The video is great too. “Who would have thought I’d bring the whole world to its knees?” Thanks to Mark Crispin Miller – the other New York Music Daily – for passing this on.

Here’s a succinct, blockbuster two-minute clip by former BlackRock hedge fund manager Edward Dowd, whose analysis of insurance industry all-cause mortality data reveals how the Covid shot killed more young people in the second half of 2021 than were killed in ten years in the Vietnam War. Data like this is what’s going to crash Moderna’s stock value down to zero.

It would have been nice to be able to save this next video for the annual Halloween month celebration of all things creepy, but it can’t wait. This is the World Economic Forum‘s three-minute promo for their planned facial recognition tech-based Known Traveler Digital ID, scheduled to be rolled out in Canada and the Netherlands in 2023. It’s a platform for a Chinese communist-style social credit scheme. Forewarned is forearmed! Thanks to Unacceptable Dr. Jessica Rose, astute analyst of VAERS data, for passing this along

Here’s a beautiful off-the-cuff nine-minute video of the reliably poetic Dr. Paul Alexander – the Linton Kwesi Johnson of the freedom movement – with fearless native New Yorker Dr. Pierre Kory chatting with Laura Lynn at the Freedom Convoy encampment in Maryland after a productive and peaceful day.

Soul songstress Dee Ponder‘s latest single Poor Man has sparkly, expansive retro reverb guitar over a trip-hop beat, up to a surprising late-Beatles outro. “Who’s gonna listen to a poor man’s pain?” The final mantra is Freedom! Fun fact: she’s a former public defender from Rochester.

Paper Citizen‘s Heart on Fire juxtaposes quirky techy verse, catchy swirly chorus and an unselfconscious sense of humor from frontwoman/multi-instrumentalist Claire Gohst

Julia Gaeta‘s Weight of You is dense late 80s/early 90s goth as Siouxsie would have done it: uncluttered and merciless.

A Smart, Darkly Lyrical, Catchy New Album From Kristy Hinds

Kristy Hinds is not a pretender. She is the real deal. The New Mexico chanteuse has a voice that can be sassy one moment, pillowy the next, with a sophisticated command of jazz phrasing and an irrepressible sense of humor. Which you pretty much need to have, if your axe is the ukulele. But as a songwriter, Hinds’ mini-movies are more serious and substantial, and tinged with noir menace, than you usually hear plinked out on that little instrument. Alongside other members of the uke demimonde, Bliss Blood is the obvious comparison. Hinds has a new short album, Strange Religion streaming at Soundcloud.

The opening track, Miss Morocco is a catchy, slinky cha-cha with the kind of double entendres that Hinds has a knack for, i.e. this femme fatale and would-be starlet “killed him with a head shot.” Track two, She Told Someone, has a funky Rhodes piano bounce behind Hinds’ vengeful narrative about speaking truth to power after a grim Metoo moment: that’s Robert Muller at the keys, with Claudio Tolousse on guitar and Arnaldo Acosta on drums. Samantha Harris and Colin Deuble share bass duties on the record.

The closing diptych, Burn or Drown and Drive begins as a reggae tune: “A daily sacrifice is needed to keep the mice in bullets – my car outside is loaded,” Hinds relates.

While you’re at Hinds’ Soundcloud page, check out the live tracks: flying without a net, she’s arguably even more dynamic onstage than she is in the studio. Hinds’ next gig will be a weekly 9 PM Friday night residency at Old Town Farm Bike-in Coffee, 949 Montoya St NW in Albuquerque as soon as they reopen next month.

A Twisted, Phantasmagorical Memento From Knife Throwers Assistance

Today’s album is the one and only release by sprawling circus rock collective Knife Throwers Assistance. Not much remains of them on the web, other than a Bandcamp page where you can still get a free download of the live recording the haphazardly orchestrated, mostly-female band made at their final show. They liked lurid harmonies, contrapuntal vocals and unorthodox instrumentation – and their songs were pretty relentlessly creepy.

As that final gig began, the band took the stage to a weird sample collage: it’s almost nine minutes of random noise, mic checking and guitar tuning. You can start your playlist with Mr. Detective, a long, ominously vamping murder ballad. This time out the group included the founding duo of guitarist Eve Blackwater and pianist Heidi Harris; singers Bridget Rooney, Deb Zep (who also plays bass clarinet) and Tea Leigh; banjo players Christen Napier and Annie Levey; cellist Elizabeth Glushko; singing saw player Cara White; bassist Kevin Anderson and drummer Matthew Vander Ende.

The forlorn piano ballad Crow Cry sounds like Carol Lipnik trying her hand at trip-hop, with a really cool, ominously circling vocal arrangement. They follow with the ba-bump stripper theme That Cat, then Voodoo, a folk noir tune with ridiculous faux-southern vocals.

Somebody plays eerie, chromatic melodica behind the steady guitar and aching vocals (guessing that’s Deb Zep) in Freedom, a gospel-tinged tableau. “Meet me by the railroad, that’s where we mortgaged off our souls,” Blackwater musees in Second Repeater, a surreal roadtrip tale.

Hildegard You Have My Heart has all kinds of neat touches: flamenco-ish interludes, snarling cello glissandos and glockenspiel tinkling evilly as the song rises and falls. The singing saw and Levey’s flute flutter uneasily behind the insistant vocals of Unfair, then the band wind up the show, and their career, with Scarlet the Fire-Eater, a plaintive, Appalachian-tinged ballad.

The album also comes with lo-fi concert videos of Crow Cry and Mr. Detective from the band’s early days, the latter with a long, haphazard glockenspiel solo, singing saw and bass clarinet among the many other instruments gathered onstage.

Since the band’s demise, Blackwater continues as a solo artist and member of the Greenpoint Songwriters Exchange, who for the better part of a year put on similarly sprawling monthly shows at Pete’s Candy Store until the lockdown drove live music in New York underground.

A Macabre Masterpiece From John Ellis and Andy Bragen

Considering how busy tenor saxophonist John Ellis always seemed to be – before the lockdown, anyway – it’s something of a shock that he was able to find the time to come up with his latest album, The Ice Siren – streaming at Bandcamp – a masterpiece of noir assembled as a collaboration with lyricist Andy Bragen. It’s also arguably the best thing, and definitely the darkest project Ellis has ever been involved with, in a career as one of the most sought-after musicians in jazz for both big bands and smaller ensembles.

The obvious comparison is pioneering, carnivalesque 90s band Kamikaze Ground Crew, who brought a lithe improvisational component into noir, cinematic circus rock tableaux. Is this jazz? Noir cabaret? Art-rock? All that and more, which is why it’s so interesting.

The opening theme, Graveyard Visit, begins with a striking violin cadenza over stark cello and slowly morphs into a macabre chromatic vamp that strongly brings to mind both Philip Glass’ Dracula score as well as Carol Lipnik‘s creepiest work, with the ghosts of Brecht and Weill nodding approvingly out there somewhere. But some of the phantasmagoria here has coy touches: devious accents from Marcus Rojas’ tuba and Miles Griffith’s wry, wobbly vocals over a backdrop that shifts from blithe bossa back to menace.

Ellis finally gets to interject a vividly searching solo over the eerily lingering, vamping backdrop in Heaven or Hell. Gretchen Parlato’s ghostly vocalese over Mike Moreno’s spare, broodingly picked guitar and Chris Dingman’s glitttering vibraphone meld into an increasingly lush horror theme.

Parlato sings Melusina’s Siren Song with an airy angst over a steady, slow bass clarinet pulse that expands back to a sweeping, distantly enticing variation on the central Lynchian theme. Griffith returns for a duet with Parlato in the disquietingly atmospheric She Shows Her Face, the most avant garde number here.

The orchestration grows blippier and balmier in Little Man, but by the end the disquiet returns. Ellis’ liquid clarinet delivers klezmer tinges over a brisk bounce in the next-to-last number, Cold, the most circusy track here. The wistfully waltzing conclusion, Entombed in Ice is chilling, literally and metaphorically. This is a frontrunner for best album of 2020 from a cast that also includes violinists Hiroko Taguchi and Olivier Manchon, violist Todd Low, cellist,Christopher Hoffman and percussionists Daniel Sadownick and Daniel Freedman.

Charming, Deceptively Sophisticated New York Songs From Rachelle Garniez and Erik Della Penna

To what degree does being born and raised in a metropolis empower the ability to demystify it? Are native New Yorkers better able to cut through centuries of myth and romance to see the grit and blood underneath? Or does an immigrant, whether from outside the country or simply another state, have a broader perspective? Rachelle Garniez and Erik Della Penna assess those questions, and much more, on their debut collaboration, An Evening in New York, streaming at Spotify.

Both artists were born and raised here. Each songwriter’s own catalog has a rich historical sensibility: Della Penna with Americana-tinged superduo Kill Henry Sugar, Garniez mostly as a solo artist but occasionally with bands ranging from alt-country pioneers Mumbo Gumbo to ecstatic delta blues/New Orleans jamband Hazmat Modine. Each artist tends to favor subtlety and detail over fullscale drama: they make a good team. The two don’t have any shows together coming up.  Garniez was scheduled play the release show for her first all-covers album, a salute to recently deceased artists including Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Aretha Franklin and others, on March 15 at 7 PM at Dixon Place, but the show was cancelled due to the coronavirus scare.

On the duo record, Della Penna plays the stringed instruments and Garniez handles the keyboards. There’s a retro charm but also devilish levels of detail in the songs, a mix of mostly oldtimey-flavored originals and a handful of well-known New York-themed numbers from across the decades. On the surface, the title track is a charmingly waltzing turn-of-the-20th-century guitar-and-accordion duet, but there’s a wistful subtext.

Della Penna switches to banjo for his cynically empathetic lounge-lizard ballad, Neighbors, Manhattan Island, a Garniez concert favorite, languidly reflects on how cheaply the land that would become the “Empire City” was purchased from its original inhabitants (who didn’t understand they’d have to leave). Then the two pick up the pace with Talking Picture, wryly prefiguring the kind of tender reassurance an Instagram video can offer.

They follow a brisk instrumental version of the old 19th century vaudeville hit 42nd Street with a starkly resonant, anciently bluesy cover of Hazmat Modine’s surreal Viking Burial. Garniez’s Black Irish Boy is a pretty hilarious recollection of a childhood crush, as well as its aftermath. Then Della Penna takes over the mic for the Appalachian-tinged Zeppelin Song, singing from the point of view of a WWI German soldier hoping to escape the perils of combat by catching a ride on the rich baron’s contraption.

Garniez moves to the piano for a glistening ragtime-infused take of Am I Blue. Della Penna offers a fond Coney Island reminiscence with Wonder Wheel, followed by the slyly cajun-tinged High Rise. The duo put a kazoo in Coffee – as in “Let’s have another cup of coffee, and let’s have another piece of pie.” They wind up the album with their funniest song, We’ll Take Manhattan: you kind of have to live here to get the jokes, but they’re pretty priceless.

The album also includes an elegant take of Bye Bye Blackbird; a coyly spare Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen with a tastily bristling Della Penna guitar solo; and an irresistibly funny version of Irving Berlin’s hokum blues Walking Stick.