New York Music Daily

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Category: pop music

Lurid, Lyrical, Lynchian Sounds From Eclectic New Mexican Kristy Hinds

Songwriter Kristy Hinds has played everything from 80s-inspired rock, to bossa nova and other tropical, often trippy sounds. Mentored as a gradeschooler by Bo Diddley – a fellow rancher in her native New Mexico – she began as a singer and percussionist, moved to guitar and most recently, ukulele. Lately she’s taken a surreal, absolutely Lynchian plunge into dub reggae. Just as auspiciously, she scored John Funkhouser – a rare triple threat on jazz piano, organ and bass – to join her on her latest short album Play Me Out, streaming at her music page.

“This is when the road divides, this is when I’ll break your heart, this is where the violence starts…play me out,” she teases luridly in the ep’s title track. “Rich men in the white coats, and the shark teeth” don’t hold up too well here.

On the second song, Feeling Good, Hinds rises out of murky mystery to stark, spare reggae with a sleek, slinky organ solo. Funkhouser’s creepy bass drone underneath is luscious. For the last song, Hinds reinvents Fleetwood Mac’s Gold Dust Woman at just about doublespeed, as straight-up backbeat rock – and, it’s cool to be able to actually understand the song’s lyrics for once! Funkhouser winds it up with a crashing, crescendoing piano solo.

Hinds also has a ton of music up at her Soundcloud page, a mix of rock, jazz and latin styles. And she has a fearlessly populist sensibility: check out Images in a Box, her snarky anti-corporate media broadside. Her next gig is at 5 PM on July 18 at Corrales Bistro Brewery, 4908 Corrales Rd. in Corrales, New Mexico.

Your Venuses, Your Fires, Your Desires?

On one hand, the idea of a fortysomething self-styled macher like Kim Fowley slobbering all over a petite, teenaged Joan Jett is just plain gross. On the other, imagine a bunch of metal guys with their ears wide open, who scheme up a project featuring a frontline of some of the best female singers they can find from all over Europe and Scandinavia. Frontiers Music did that, and the result is Venus 5, whose debut release is streaming at Spotify.

It took a little sleuthing to track down the genesis of the band. Chad Rowar of Heavy Music HQ reports that the label enlisted the trio of Jake E. from Cyhra, Stefan Helleblad of Within Temptation and Per Aldeheim to come up with the songs. Many of them have an early 80s feel: without the heavy guitars, they could be new wave hits. The vocalists, who take turns when they’re not harmonizing, include Infinite & Divine frontwoman Tezzi Persson, Karmen Klinc of Slovenian band the Hellcats, Herma Sick of Sick ‘n Beautiful, Albania’s Erina Seittlari and Serbian Jelena Milovanovic.

Everybody sings in impressively good English. Persson is the most eclectic of the bunch, with a bluesy wail but also a goth side and remarkable subtlety. Sick has a throatier delivery that she uses for accusatory intensity. Seittlari, Milovanovic and Klinc are all clear-voiced and for that matter harder to distinguish, especially when they’re singing together.

They open the record with Lioness, a defiant, minor-key new wave tune in very heavy disguise, A three-guitar section manned by Stefan Helleblad, Aldo Lonobile and Gabriele Robotti deliver the crunch and sailing leads, peppered by Antonio Agate’s squiggly synth.

The five women make a martial frontline in The Simulation, Lonobile channeling David Gilmour in a tantalizingly brief solo. Bassist Dann Arisi snaps and crackles over drummer Alfonso Mocerino’s steady sway in Nothing But a Heartache, Persson’s wounded, pensive vocals joined by her bandmates’ gale-force choir.

The women form a vengeful ghost chorale in Bride With Blackend Eyes, a return to the turbocharged 80s ambience of the album’s opening track. Monster Under Your Bed is just plain funny: imagine a horror-flick Abba with crunchy guitars.

“Every day I keep my pain inside,” is the key line from Inside, as the neoromantic angst rises amid the orchestral swirl and the jackhammer guitars.

Is the single Tom & Mrs. Amy Lee about the mysterious 2021 death of an Australian woman? The Evanescence lead singer and some random dude? You be the judge.

There’s a little sci-fi art-rock flickering through the exchange of voices in Because of You. The “get ready for another war” tagline in We Are Dynamite seems like more of a brag than an omen. Get rid of the roar and slip in a drum machine instead of the big kit on Save You and it could be Beyonce. The final cut, appropriately. is Bury Me. They’ve got it, yeah baby they’ve got it.

Singles for Early June: The Theme Is Laughter, More Or Less

Been a long time since there’s been a collection of singles on this page. In celebration of how we managed to make it through May without losing our collective sovereignty to the WHO, and that all the concentration camp proposals died in session in the New York State legislature, here’s a bunch of songs, a couple of snarky videos and a meme to keep our spirits up. Click on artist names for their webpages (a couple of these are anonymous), click on titles for audio or visuals.

This one just came over the transom today thanks to the irreplaceable Mark Crispin Miller’s News From Underground. Bill Gates Sings! At :41 “I identify as a medical doctor!”

Muzzleboy reads a book on German history in the 1930s! Sometimes a meme is really worth a thousand words.  Screenshot this and make it your screensaver maybe?

El Gato Malo reminds us, in a minute 41 seconds, how in the fall of 2020 all the Democratic candidates were railing against the “Trumpvax.”

Sage Hana offers a creepy, dystopic mini-movie about what bioweapons may be waiting for us this fall courtesy of the sinister Ralph Baric of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Genius animator Ken Avidor has launched his Unjabbed short video series about freedom fighters in a postapocalyptic future, which have been banned from Vimeo. Thanks to Steve Kirsch for grabbing these and saving them for all of us

Here’s a real subtle one. In the stately chamber pop cadences of Matter of Time, Lydia Luce wants to know, “Who’s gonna grow food for the masses?”

Here’s another subtle, drifting pastoral pop number: Meadow, by Emily Tahlin. “The meadow stretches out for miles, I have come to hide.”

Let’s wind up today’s playlist on an upbeat note with Rebecca Day & the Crazy Daysies doing their Americana tune Old Jeans Blue. “A shot of Jim and a sixpack in and I can’t pretend.” Scroll down to the middle of the page for the video. Thanks to Tom Woods of the absolutely essential Tom Woods Show (a guy with great taste in music too) for the heads-up on this one

Martina Fiserova Brings Her Individualistic, Soulful Tunesmithing to the Lower East

From the mid-teens until the 2020 lockdown, Czech-born songwriter Martina Fiserova was a familiar presence and a distinctive voice in the New York small club scene. Her tunesmithing is sophisticated, purposeful and defies categorization, with elements of oldschool soul, chamber pop, 90s trip-hop and jazz. She plays electric rather than acoustic guitar, likes short songs and sings in strong English in an unselfconsciously direct, uncluttered voice. Since the lifting of restrictions, she’s back on the live circuit, with an early show tonight, May 22 at 5 PM at the small room at the Rockwood.

Like so many artists whose career was put on ice by the grim events of March 2020 and afterward, Fiserova hasn’t put out an album in awhile. Her most recent release, Shift, came out in 2015 and is still up at Bandcamp: it gives you a good idea of the many angles she comes from. She’s got a great band behind her: Brian Charette on organ and piano, and her fellow Czechs Tomáš Baroš on bass and Dano Šoltis on drums. In addition to guitar, Fiserova plays tone lyre, slate xylophone, bronze metallophone and keys.

She opens with Silver Streams, a slow, catchy, minimalist ballad awash in water imagery, that picks up with an unexpectedly funky pulse fueled by a cheery, blues-infused Charette piano solo. Track two, Crater is a hypnotically clustering number in 12/8: “The sleep is broken, tears are stuck in my throat… unseen forces, the pain spreads like white sheets…”

Song For Brian, a swaying, pensive number contrasts Charette’s strikingly direct piano with Fiserova’s more enigmatic guitar lines. “The sound of a breaking heart is stronger than a storm,” she muses in the intro to Cold, then the band leaps into a brisk, bracing offbeat shuffle, Charette on soul organ

She follows Misunderstanding, a slinky, low-key organ swing tune with Invisible Blood, the band slowly edging their way into waltz time as Charette adds iciness behind Fiserova’s elegant fingerpicking and more of that loaded water imagery.

An unlikely flock of pigeons serve as inspiration for the next track, And Fly!, Fiserova offering plainspoken, inspiring encouragement to leave fear behind. Little did she know when she recorded it how relevant this song would become five years later!

She keeps the fearless theme going in My Wind, with its rhythmic twists and turns. from jazz into oldschool soul and back on the wings of Charette’s organ. He blends organ and blippy Rhodes piano in Chasm, a brisk, twinkling, motorik soul tune that could be the album’s catchiest track. Then Fiserova completely flips the script with Silver Moon, rising from an understatedly dark, squirrelly free jazz intro to a big, soaring anthem. The final cut is the pensive, airily wary Closer. Since the album came out, Fiserova has pursued a more straightforward, guitar-driven sound: she is likely to take the volume up a notch at the Rockwood gig.

A Majestic Return For Harmony Rock Songwriter Aimee Van Dyne

Back in the mid-zeros, Aimee Van Dyne led the best harmony-rock band in New York. They were on the quiet, more immersive side, with a lushly distinctive, disarmingly sophisticated vocal counterpoint that was neither baroque nor high lonesome. Van Dyne was trained as an architect, which no doubt informs the durable beauty and often intricate craftsmanship of her songs. Her sound, which remains consistent to this day, is a blend of artsy pop, Americana and the more delicate acoustic styles that trace back to her formative years in the 90s, with a biting, knowing lyricism. Van Dyne has returned with a brand new album, Broken Love Songs – streaming at her music page -which includes both new material as well as concert favorites from that era..

Unsurprisingly, the most stunning aspect of the record is Van Dyne’s vocals. She was a strong singer in 2005, and since then her range has expanded even further, with a warmly mapled, crystalline delivery possibly inspired by her new digs in the Berkshire mountains. On the new album she sings all the parts that Kathleen Hunt and Nina Soka would have filled out during the band’s time playing around what was then a fertile crucible for music on the Lower East Side.

The loosely connecting thread between the songs is going into the wilderness and emerging intact. The opening track, Lonely Me is an old live standard from the New York days, reinvented with a brisk backbeat from bassist Paul Kochanski and drummer JJ O’Connell while Jon Graboff’s pedal steel floats solemnly overhead. Jim Henry, who helmed the instrumental side of the project, adds layers of acoustic and electric guitars: it is astonishing that an album recorded remotely during the lockdown could sound so cohesive.

Henry’s mandolin flickers amid Van Dyne’s anthemic vocal orchestration in the album’s title track, the interweave between the stringed instruments mirroring her vocal dexterity. Van Dyne paints a guardedly victorious lakeside tableau in I’m One, Ben Kohn’s spare piano lowlighting a tale of staring down a “tangled web of half-truths.”

“On the other side of all that sorrow brings, find your wings,” Van Dyne instructs in Hold On, a luscious blend of lushness and twang. There’s a soulful roots reggae tune hidden inside Lonely Boy, Kohn adding romping piano and slinky organ: it’s one of the album’s catchiest tunes.

Greg Snedeker’s cello soars over the bed of guitars in Why Should I Care, a rugged individualist’s anthem from Van Dyne’s earlier days: the harmonies are more tightly constructed this time around. The Story of Me is a disarmingly devastating tale of walking wounded, the self-deception and emotional workarounds that those who’ve been traumatized can fall back on (the song is way more poetic than that mundane description would suggest).

Craig Akin’s somber bowed bass and Kohn’s tersely Romantic piano anchor Unbroken Love, a resolute look at finding inner strength under duress. The new version of Owning Up – the title track to Van Dyne’s debut cd – has a welcome symphonic sweep: there are flying buttresses on this newly sturdy structure.

The edgiest song on the album is Not Even You, a defiant kiss-off number, Henry’s incisive fingerpicking underneath Graboff’s ominous washes of steel. Van Dyne winds up the record with the fondly soaring Together at Last, assembled around Henry’s mandolin and Jon Carroll’s accordion. Needless to say, it’s inspiring to see Van Dyne reasserting the understated power she first made a name for herself with in this city..

Singles For May: Pure Bliss, Pure Snark and Pure Evil

It took more than twice as long to pull together the May concert calendar as it did for April: now we just have to keep that momentum going. This calls for continued vigilance, but also celebration! Click on titles or descriptions for video, click on artist or author names for their individual pages.

Before it gets stale, here’s the happiest song of the year: unidentified airline steward sings eleven seconds of pure joy. Thanks to the irreplaceable Celia Farber for passing this along.

The next clip is one that the Biden regime’s new minister of truth never wanted to get out. So here it is! Two minutes fifteen seconds of Nina Jankowicz on camera singing an occasionally obscene version of I Wanna Be Rich, Famous and Powerful, back in 2015 when it seems she had her sights on being a cabaret star. You can’t make this shit up. Thanks to the fearless Dr. Paul Alexander for the link.

Unacceptable Dr. Jessica Rose and Twitter user TexasLindsay have created a couple of succinct, cynically amusing, very short videos which connect the Covid shot rollout with increases in mortality. If you know somebody who’s on the fence about the issue and has a sense of humor, try the best acoustic surf song video ever (this is the Israeli version).

The second video compares the graphs from the data in Spain, set to Paco de Lucia’s flamenco guitar.

Someone, by Anna of the North is not the kind of song you usually see on this page: autotuned faux-80s new wave isn’t this blog’s thing. Rising star Sage Hana turned the song into a meme during the “something in the water” controversy – which is far from over, by the way

Let’s bring this full circle with about seven minutes of Dr. Pam Popper, from her mostly-daily short podcast. She put this out right after the Federal judicial takedown of the CDC muzzle rule on public transit: the gist of it is that this is also far, far from over. And she isn’t just blowing off steam: the founder of Make Americans Free Again has some solutions.

Quirky, Individualistic, Shapeshifting Catalan Songwriting From Singer Magali Sare

You have to have a sense of humor to call your album “Sponge.” Catalan singer Magali Sare‘s new release, Eponja – streaming at Spotify – is playful and a lot of fun, although there’s a recurrent dark undercurrent. That’s no surprise, considering that it’s a coming-of-age record . Sare is a very eclectic singer and can reach spectacular heights. She comes out of a classical background, but here she shifts mostly between carefree trip-hop, sprightly chamber pop and more techy sounds, along with upbeat Catalan folk. If Bjork was Catalan, she might sound something like this. Sare’s inspired, purposeful band includes pianist Marta Pons, guitarist Sebastià Gris, bassist Vic Moliner and drummer Dídak Fernàndez along with occasional strings.

The lilting opening lullaby is aptly titled Hola, Sare’s voice trailing off with a little brittle vibrato at the end of a phrase. She follows with Mañana, a coy, fingersnapping mashup of trip-hop and tango: as Sare observes, love and freedom are one and the same.

Crooner Salvador Sobral joins in a rousing duet on Sempre Vens Assim (roughly translated: Your Usual Steez), rising to a mighty peak with a choir of voices and a little jaunty salsa piano. Sare reaches from a pensively fingerpicked verse to soaring choruses, toward the top of her register, in the album’s title track. It’s a somewhat more sobering look back on how children develop an ethical sensibility (the song is a lot more fun than such an explanation would imply).

Sare packs torrents of lyrics into a quirky but pensive trip-hop cabaret tune in Malifetes (Mischief), an account of a conflicted adolescence. The key line, roughly translated, is “I was emotionally blackmailed.” The deliriously crescendoing love song ETC features flamenco band Las Migas: lively verse, swoony chorus.

The narrative hits a bump in the road with No Se, circling piano phrases anchoring Sare’s metaphorically loaded account of literally being left out in the cold. A spoken-word piece set to a trippy, echoey backdrop, No Se Cantar is an amusing catalog of reasons to sing (including simply to shake people up a little).

Inframon (Underworld) is a brightly resonant tableau in contrast with Sare’s lyrics about dealing with the dark side: “You just know you’ve been there once you’re out and you aren’t afraid of falling in,” essentially. She reverts to a twinkly trip-hop ambience in M’ai Vist Mai Plorar (I’ve Never Seen You Cry): “Watch the wind lift the broken veil,” Sare muses.

She follows with the Mediterranean-tinged, elegantly fingerpicked seduction scenario No Te Edat (rough translation: Timeless), and then Niña Mujer (Womanchild), a pensive psychedelic pop study in contradictions. She closes the album with its lone classical interlude, a stately, energetic canon. You don’t have to speak Catalan to enjoy this smartly individualistic, constantly shapeshifting collection.

Starkly Powerful Tunesmithing and Loaded Metaphors on Abigail Lapell’s New Album

“Time may judge this a classic,” this blog enthused about Abigail Lapell’s 2019 album Getaway. Raves like that as rare here as integrity in the Justin Trudeau cabinet. The small handful of albums which have earned that distinction include Karla Rose Moheno‘s Gone to Town and Hannah vs. the Many‘s All Our Heroes Drank Here, to name two of the best. How well does Lapell’s latest release Stolen Time – streaming at Bandcamp – stack up against her previous achievement? It doesn’t always have the same seething intensity, but Lapell’s songwriting is strong, and she has an excellent band behind her.

She opens it with the hypnotic, sparsely fingerpicked, subtly aphoristic Britfolk-flavored Land of Plenty. Dani Nash’s mutedly ominous, swaying drumbeat anchors the second track, Ships, Christine Bougie adding snarling electric guitar and sparse lapsteel alongside violist Rachael Cardiello and bassist Dan Fortin. It’s a metaphorically loaded departure ballad echoing a big influence in Lapell’s work, Sandy Denny.

Lapell moves to piano for Pines and its allusively ominous nature imagery. Scarlet Fever has stark oldtime blues inflections and plaintive viola from Cardiello. With “silver needles on the wall,” is this a subtle lockdown parable? Maybe.

All Dressed Up, a nimbly fingerpicked acoustic tune, may also have post-March 2020 subtext: “No way out of here, wake me up when the coast is clear,” Lapell instructs. I See Music, a stately piano waltz spiced with Ellwood Epps’ trumpet is next: “There’s no danger in a major key, there’s no harm in a harmony,” Lapell asserts.

She goes back to guitar for the similarly graceful Waterfall and follows with the album’s title track, Stolen Time, a swaying, crescendoing anthem lit up by Bougie’s incandescent lapsteel. “I dreamed I saw my baby, sewage in his veins, a rotten apple in his chest,” Lapell recalls in the next track: is this a tantalizingly brief, disquieting shipwreck tale, or is there more to the story?

“Dance in the ashes, gasoline and matches” figure heavily in the otherwise lilting, catchy nocturne Old Flames. Lapell winds up this often riveting, enigmatic album on an optimistic note with I Can’t Believe. It’s inspiring to see one of the sharpest songwriters in folk-adjacent sounds persevering under circumstances which have been less than encouraging for artists in general. Barring the unforeseen, Lapell’s next gig is an evening performance on May 21 at Paddlefest in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.

Yet Another Tab of Treats on the Latest Brown Acid Compilation

Every year, in celebration of 4/20, the warped brain trust behind the Brown Acid vinyl compilations release a new volume in the series. The initial concept focused on resurrecting rare heavy psych and proto-metal singles from the late 60s and early 70s. As the years went on, the project grew into a quasi-solstice celebration, twice a year, and began to encompass heavy funk as well as the occasional thrashy, garagey R&B or protest song, which makes sense considering that a lot of this music dates from the Vietnam War era. The brand-new fourteenth volume – streaming at Bandcamp – is a characteristically wide-ranging and entertaining celebration of stoner excess. For whatever reason, this one is somewhat more pop-oriented: Nuggets on Thai stick.

The first track is Fever Games, by Harrisburg, Pennsylvania band the Legends. Stoner boogie gives way to heavy funk in this 1969 Hendrix homage with a devious Little Wing quote – not the one you think – and Iron Butterfly drums.

Detroit duo Mijal & White’s 1974 B-side is a throwback to early heavy British pop bands like the Herd: some excellent extrovert drum work here. The real rediscovered gem on this playlist is Texas band Liquid Blue’s 1969 obscurity Henry Can’t Drive (why can’t he get behind the wheel? Guess).. Lead guitarist Ted Hawley would go on to become an important figure in Texas blues: his slithery multitracks here are exquisite.

The San Francisco Trolley Company were actually a Michigan band, represented by their fierce 1970 original, Signs. With the group’s cheap amps spewing dust-bunny overtones, it stands up strongly alongside the heavier Detroit acts of the era like SRC.

The contribution from West Virginia garage rock project Blue Creed is pretty generic. One of the most obscure but tightest and catchiest tunes here is Play It Cool, Transfer’s slyly shuffling, slightly surfy 1974 shout-out to stoners on the DL. Even less is known about Appletree, whose cowbell-driven single You’re Not The Only Girl (I’m Out To Get) is built around some tightly scrambling lead guitar work.

There’s an interesting blend of Beatles and Hendrix in I’m Tired, by Chicago collar-county area band Cox’s Army. The last song is the Columbus, Ohio crate-digger favorite Raven’s 1975 mostly one-chord jam Raven Mad Blues, a prime example of the extreme hippie self-indulgence the Brown Acid records sometimes descend into. Punk rock was born as an antidote to monstrosities like this – although as a comedic coda to this latest installment, it’s pretty priceless. May there be many more.

Lots of Laughs and Surprising Subtlety in the Righteous Gemstones Season Two Score

What could be more ripe for musical satire than an over-the-top comedy series about a dynasty of hypocritical televangelists? On one hand, the soundtrack to season two of The Righteous Gemstones – streaming at Spotify – gives the cast the chance to chew some musical scenery. Composer Joseph Stephens distinguishes himself by taking a deep dive into a vast number of musical styles – cheesy autotune corporate pop, soca, powerpop, Stonesy rock and various Nashville sounds from across the decades – infusing much of it with ersatz gospel touches. On one hand, this is The Sound of the Sinners by the Clash, on steroids. On the other, it’s surprisingly subtle, to the point where some of what is obviously a spoof becomes such a spot-on evocation of one Christian subgenre or another that it could pass for the real thing.

The album is as vast as the Gemstones’ shady financial empire: a grand total of fifty tracks, most of them under the two-minute mark. The first part comprises a series of songs delivered in fluent southern accents by cast members including Joe Jonas, Jennifer Nettles, Edi Patterson, Danny McBride and Adam Devine. After that is a long series of instrumental set pieces ranging from tense horror-film interludes, moments of southwestern gothic menace and grittily pulsing synthesized action sequences – it’s funny how the country influence completely disappears in favor of deftly orchestrated suspense. When the churchbells ring, it is not for a rousing hallelujah but a grim amen.

The best song is Some Broken Hearts Never Mend, an absolutely perfect parody of fluffy, orchestrated 1970s Nashville country-pop where McBride, Patterson and Devine take very diverse vocal parts. It wouldn’t be out of place on Ween’s classic 12 Golden Country Greats album. Children appear as an obvious but long overdue punchline, more than once. Christmas music gets a well-deserved crucifixion. There’s a song-length homoerotic joke, later echoed in a lurid stripper instrumental snippet titled Manscaping. By contrast, track forty-three, Memphis Confrontation is a gem of a mashup of stark oldtime gospel and macabre cinematics. It’s rare that a composer gets called on to deliver as many good laughs as shivers, and Stephens rises to the challenge.