New York Music Daily

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Tag: musical comedy

The Best-Ever Playlist on This Page

Today’s playlist is a murderer’s row of singles. Just for starters: a deviously subtle new video for the best song of 2020, and a new electric recording of the best song of 2016. There’s about half an hour worth of music here, plus some funny visuals. If you know this blog, you know the drill: click artist names for their webpages, click titles for audio or video.

Karla Rose’s allusive, slinky serial killer parable Battery Park topped the charts here in what was a pretty nightmarish 2020. She’s got a new video for it: see if you can spot her!

Another noir-inspired artist, LJ Murphy earned the top spot for 2016 with his cruelly prophetic Panic City. It was mostly acoustic then; it’s an electric scorcher now.

We live in perilous times, and Grace Bergere offers a more metaphorical take in A Little Blood, one of the most offhandedly chilling songs of the past several years.

Mark Breyer made a name for himself as sort of the Elvis Costello of powerpop and janglerock with his long-running studio project, Skooshny. And he keeps cranking out sharp, jangly anthems as Son of Skooshny. His latest is Runs in the Family: imagine the Church at their lyrical peak in the 80s..

Atlanta band Faithless Town‘s roaring slide guitar-driven protest anthem New World Order has a great newsreel video: protestors battling SWAT teams in Europe in the summer of 2020, images of the Lockstep tabletop exercise and Event 201, and plenty of usual Davos suspects.

Amy Rigby was not idle during the lockdown here in New York. Here’s her hauntingly hazy cover of Bob Dylan classic Not Dark Yet

From the anonymous protest songwriter known as POTP – the same guy responsible for the viral video Bill Gates Sings – here’s Vaxx in the Cradle, sung to the tune of the old Harry Chapin hit. Beyond the snarky jokes, it’s amazingly well-crafted – it even follows the plotline of the original. “This song has Emergency Use Authorization to be deployed far and wide in the effort to stem the epidemic of infant experimentation.”

Loosie‘s No Future is the catchiest, most anthemic thing the band’s ever done, with a wistful Lynchian edge. A scruffier Sharon Van Etten, maybe?

You might know Mike Adams as the scientist in the lab coat who founded Brighteon, home to innumerable good censored videos. Want to know what video is at the very top of the search page today? The full stream of the Plandemic II documentary!. But believe it or not, Adams also has a history as a rapper. Check out his hauntingly prescient 2010 video Vaccine Zombie, which has resurfaced courtesy of the consistently brilliant and provocative Midwestern Doctor Substack page.

Moirai’s Völuspa is a starkly gorgeous recreation of an ancient Icelandic dragonslayer myth. Is this classical music? Folk music? 21st century minimalism? Maybe all of the above?

Let’s close with some funny stuff. First, click and scroll down the page for a 45-second tv ad for Oomph’s new “human meat plant based burger” via Jeff Childers’ indispensable Coffee & Covid. Reputedly the jury’s out on how it tastes compared to genuine human flesh.

And here’s a meme from cartoonist Anne Gibbons: a spot-on take on the FDA’s self-declared “future framework,”  where if they get their way there will be no more safety trials for any pharmaceutical products.

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

Martin Wind’s New York Bass Quartet Have Irresistible Fun Beyond the Low Registers

Bassist Martin Wind‘s new album Air with his New York Bass Quartet – streaming at Bandcamp – is sublimely ridiculous fun for those of us who gravitate to the low registers. Like most members of the four-string fraternity, Wind and his accomplices – Gregg August, Jordan Frazier and Sam Suggs – are heartily aware of the comedic possibilities that abound in the F clef. Yet Wind’s arrangements here are as erudite as they are irresistibly amusing. As party music, this is pretty hard to beat. And to Wind’s further credit, he uses pretty much the entirety of his axe’s sonic capability – there are places where these guys sound like a cello rock band or even a string quartet.

They open with a sotto-voce, tiptoeing four-bass arrangement that sticks pretty close to a famous Bach piece that a psychedelic group from the 1960s ripped off for the most-played radio single in British history. Then Wind and his merry band make low-register bluegrass out of it – and guest Gary Versace comes in on organ as the group pivot to a lowdown funk groove. The solo, of course, is for bass – that’s August doing the tongue-in-cheek pirouette.

The third track, a Beatles medley that starts with Long and Winding Road and continues with an emphasis on the chamber pop side of the Fab Four, is even funnier, considering how artfully Wind weaves the individual themes together.

They do Birdland as a clave tune, and then as funk, with Lenny White on drums and Versace on organ again: again, no spoilers. Matt Wilson’s suspenseful tom-toms and Versace’s misterioso organ simmer beneath a surprising plaintiveness and judicious solos all around in an epic arrangement of Charlie Haden’s Silence.

Wind’s first original here, I’d Rather Eat is a hypnotic, rhythmically pulsing, judiciously contrapuntal piece that brings to mind cellist Julia Kent’s more insistently minimalist work. The group’s gorgeously bittersweet take of Pat Metheny’s Tell Her You Saw Me has the bassists plucking out piano voicings, plus Versace on piano and accordion.

Wind’s other tune here, Iceland Romance is a tango with surprising poignancy but also several good jokes, They bring the album full circle by revisiting Procol Harum – woops, Bach. Whether you call this classical music, or the avant garde, or jazz, it’s an awful lot of fun.

Wind’s next gig is with Wilson’s great Honey and Salt quintet at the Saratoga Jazz Festival on June 25. And Verrsace is leading a trio, from the piano, at Mezzrow on June 15 with sets at 7:30 and 9. Cover is $25 cash at the door.

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.

The World’s Funniest Jazz Band Explore Weird Pennsylvania

Since their beginning in the early zeros, Mostly Other People Do the Killing have built a wild and erudite career as the Spinal Tap of jazz. Their satire ranges from over-the-top cartoonishness, to layers and layers of inside jokes, to mimicry that sometimes so closely resembles the style they’re spoofing that it’s hard to distinguish it from the source material. And these guys go deep. Over the years they’ve flipped the bird to Count Basie, Ornette Coleman, and 80s fusion jazz in general, sometimes lovingly, sometimes with a snarky sneer.

They started out as a horn band, took a hiatus after multi-reedman Jon Irabagon and trumpeter Peter Evans became occupied with, um, more serious projects and have lately reemerged as a piano trio. How does their latest album, Disasters Vol. 1 – streaming at Bandcamp – stack up against the rest of their magnificently twisted oeuvre? This spoof of lounge jazz and occasionally other genres is sick, cruel and as ridiculously funny as anything else the band have ever recorded. The sickest thing about it is that a lot of musicians play music that sounds exactly like this sometimes, and think it’s good.

As usual, all the songs on the album relate to a location in bassist and bandleader Moppa Elliott’s native Pennsylvania. This time, he expands the concept to disasters, most of them manmade. The group go straight for the ultimate Pennsylvania nightmare with the opening number, Three Mile Island. How lethal is it? Hardly. The liner notes, by longtime MOPDTK chronicler “Leonardo Featherweight” claim that it depicts a nuclear power plant meltdown in reverse, and that’s plausible, as the band coalesce from dissociative bubbles (both drummer Kevin Shea and pianist Ron Stabinsky muck around on Nord Electro here) to hints of blues and eventually a jaunty swing blues tune.

The second number, Exeter is where the howls really begin, Shea reprising his usual suspect role as a Jones more Spike than Elvin. This snide lounge jazz parody may or may not reflect the corporate cynicism of the owners of the Knox Mine, who in 1959 attempted to save a few bucks and drill a little too close to the Susquehanna riverbed. The resulting flood turned not only the mine but the area around it into an aquifer and effectively destroyed the local coal mining economy.

Marcus Hook, on the Delaware River, has been the site of more than one fiery collision involving an oil tanker. The band commemorate one or more of them via a succession of loungey cliches in what more pretentious types would call an electroacoustic performance.

Stabinsky gets to revisit his hometown of Wilkes-Barre in what is supposedly a tale of the 1972 flooding there in the wake of Hurricane Agnes, but seems more of a snotty bag of cheap fallback piano riffs. Then the band make a diptych out of Centralia (home to the eternal flame, or at least eternal smolder) and Johnstown (that one everybody knows, right?). In the first part, Elton John seems to be a target, maybe Vince Guaraldi too. The second is a fool’s paradise of a jazz waltz.

Elliott breaks out his bow for a long overdue spoof of Halloween jazz (and maybe Thelonious Monk) in Boyertown, where a horrific theatre fire claimed over a hundred lives in 1908. Dimock, best known as the town where tap water would burst into flames as a result of fracking run amok, is immortalized with an endless series of cheesy quotes run amok – the false ending is priceless. These merry pranksters wind up the record with an “alternate take” of Wilkes-Barre which is too venomously good to give away. Somewhere there’s a cynical music blogger who’s going to pick this as the best jazz album of the year.

Ridiculous, Virtuosic, Outside-the-Box Fun From Joyride

It takes a lot of nerve to make music as amusing as Joyride‘s. Their irreverent reinventions of famous classical and jazz themes are as funny as they are outside-the-box. Whoever heard of an accordion-and-oboe arrangement of Bach’s Air on a G String, with a jazzy bridge? Throughout their debut album – streaming at Spotify – the duo of oboist Colin Maier and multi-keyboardist Charles Cozens have unrelenting, sometimes snarky fun and show off an impressive fluency throughout a wide variety of styles.

Maier cuts loose with his sizzling chops in what could be the most ridiculously over-the-top version of Tiger Rag ever recorded. Their Piazzolla-inspired piano-and-oboe version of Flight of the Bumblebee is pretty ridiculous, too – the punchline is way too good to give away.

Cozens goes back to accordion for Rhapsody in Light Blue, where the duo reinvent the Gershwin theme as a quasi-fugue before stretching it out. The most cynically spot-on track here is Isolation Blues, a ragtime-flavored reflection on endlessly exasperating plandemic restrictions.

Klezmer Fun is aptly titled, beginning with a brisk take of a famous hora, Maier adding subtle multitracks and shivery trills through an unexpectedly low-key interlude. Czardahora is a more harmonically adventurous take on the same formula. Tango de la Noche has Cozens on both piano and accordion, along with a similar mashup of popular nuevo tango riffs.

They close with La Fiesta, where Cozens and then Maier spin through supersonic riffage in what sounds like a loving spoof of flamenco jazz. One caveat: when you make a playlist out of this, ixnay on the little jokey skits in between some of the songs.

Turfseer Share a Vast, Venomously Funny, Historically Rich New Protest Song Album

Turfseer‘s epic new 33-track Scamdemic Collection – streaming at Soundcloud – is the bucket of ice water at the end of the marathon. It’s a suicide hotline on wheels. If you’ve been thinking the New Abnormal nightmare will never end, this record will lift your spirits. Outrageously funny as many of these songs are, they speak truth to power.

The studio-only project’s mastermind, Lewis Papier, started writing protest songs shortly after the global totalitarian coup in March of 2020 and he hasn’t stopped since. He’s the missing link between Jeff Lynne and Jello Biafra. Musically speaking, his big anthems are a blend of New Pornographers and ELO, with frequent, sarcastic detours into theatre music, circus rock and occasional stabs at country that sound more like Sean Lennon. The Alan Parsons Project are also a good reference point, considering that band’s rotating cast of singers and musicians. Behind the hilarious lyrics, there’s forceful neoromantic piano, sweeping strings and lush harmonies, or scruffy guitars and soaring pedal steel.

What’s it like to listen to all 33 tracks? Redemptive AF – and a little chilling, with moments of full-blown PTSD. Papier, who hails from Queens, doesn’t mention the lines outside Trader Joe’s, or the cringe-inducing nightly 7 PM pots-and-pans psy-op ritual, but he has vindictive fun satirizing every other scam the behavioral scientists of the Gates Foundation and the propagandists of CNN have subjected us to since then. And not all the songs are satirical.

The first track is Forever Freedom Brigade. a cheery, upbeat anthem spiced with banjo and pedal steel: “They keep us apart, we all have been fooled, freedom is something you don’t learn in school.” Things get considerably more grim from there through the end of the record, but Papier’s message is clear and bright: you’re not alone.

Papier is wise to Covid groupthink as both death cult and new religion. The Virus Is My God, a brisk Old West gothic shuffle, is one of the most tellingly detailed parables here, right down to the out-of-work bartenders and hookers, and the hanging judge who’s going after the town doctor. An unidentified woman sings the piano ballad My Mystery Cult with an unrelenting, rapt reverence, even as the initiation ceremony transforms her DNA into something distinctly inhuman. And amid the baroque-rock cadences of Church of the Pandemic Mind, “If you don’t believe, you’re a snake, we’ll burn you now at the stake.”

The devil is in the details throughout the rest of the record. Kids’ video games are weaponized to spread fear porn in the ominously swaying historical parable O Holy Roman. The Tyranny Train is where you’ll feel “the noose slip round your neck, and not so loose.” And the Statue of Liberty recurs as an unnamed, tarnished image throughout the angst-infused Nevermore.

Other songs draw deeply on how history repeats itself. The Ballad of Typhoid Mary, a ragged circus rock number, recounts the doomed saga of the feisty Irish cook who was the first to be accused of asymptomatic disease transmission, which we now know is basically an old wives’ tale. 1692 Was a Very Good Year, the most vivid ELO/Carl Newman mashup here, makes the Salem Witch Trials connection. The funky I Drank the Kool-Aid references the Jim Jones massacre. And the brooding folk-rock anthem Days of No Immunity traces the turbulent and largely unsuccessful early history of vaccine science.

There isn’t a song here that doesn’t have a wicked punchline. Some of the funniest tunes include Who Stole the Boston Cream Pie, a snarky, witchy parable of lockdown-era binge-eating, and the faux-earnest Sheeple University, whose students pledge never to disobey or think for themselves. Gaga’s Gone, packed with sarcastic Lady Gag references, ends with a couple of breathless, diehard fans being turned away by security on the way into the concert. And It’s Just a Mask features a fierce debate between a guy who’s in the Covid cult for life, and the soulful belter who wants to sing her way out of lockdown.

1984 Is Here, a parody of American Idol excess, quickly escalates to where “They’ll give you some loot if you persecute all those who don’t fit the mold.”

“No more indoor restaurant dining, now there’s no more whining, you can always order delivery,” is the cynical message in Passport to Hell, a Vegas noir ballad. The most sinister of all these songs is The Commandant, a menacing, Schumann-esque art-rock piano anthem where

I’m the Commandant, you must play by our rules
You didn’t listen, we gave you the tools
That’s what you get, a knock on the door
We’ll take you away, you’ll be feeling quite sore
We blocked all your funds, you can’t pay the rent
You don’t understand, we brook no dissent

Someday, when the world has a much smaller population, children will ask some of us what the plandemic was like. Not many of us are going to want to talk about it: Instead, we can give them this album as evidence of how we survived…and how so many others didn’t.

A Mammoth, Deliriously Funny, Searingly Relevant New Recording of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide

Once one dismisses
The rest of all possible worlds
One finds that this is
The best of all possible worlds

So sings Sir Thomas Allen in his role as Dr. Pangloss, in the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus’ epic new recording of Leonard Bernstein’s satirical opera Candide, streaming at Spotify.

When Lillian Hellman enlisted Bernstein and what would become a rapidly expanding cast of lyricists in this ridiculously funny parable of McCarthyite witch hunting, little did anyone involved with the project know how much greater relevance it would have in the months after March of 2020. Marin Alsop leads the orchestra and a boisterous allstar cast of opera talent in a massive double album culled from concert performances in the fall of 2018.

Tenor Leonardo Capalbo plays the title role. Soprano Jane Archibald is Cunegonde and mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter plays the Old Lady, with a supporting cast of Thomas Adkins, Marcus Farnsworth, Katherine McIndoe, Carmen Artaza, Lucy McAuley, Liam Bonthrone, Frederick Jones and Jonathan Ayers in raucous multiple roles. Simon Halsey directs the choir.

Alsop and the orchestra have just as much fun as the singers. Bernstein’s score comes across as almost as satirical as the text. As a parody of centuries of European opera, it’s not quite Scaramouche doing the fandango, but it’s close. The coda of act one is priceless.

For the most part, the plot is consistent with Voltaire’s novel. As you would expect in an operatic context, the characters are infinitely more over-the-top. We learn early on what a horrible pair the credulous Candide and the bling-worshipping Cunegonde make. Innuendo flies fast and furious, and some of the jokes are pretty outrageous for a production first staged in the late 50s. The lyric book by itself is a riot – although it only has the songs, not the expository passages. Listen closely for maximum laughs.

Alsop perfectly nails Bernstein’s tongue-in-cheek seriousness and good-natured melodic appropriation, through one stoically marching, bombastic interlude after another. There’s phony pageantry to rival Shostakovich. Swoony string passages and hand-wrenching arias alternate with the occasional moment where Bernstein drops the humor and lets the sinister subtext waft in. The most amusingly grisly part of the story is set to a parody of the climactic scene in the Mozart Requiem. Brecht/Weill’s Threepenny Opera and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherezade are recurrent reference points.

The most spectacular display of solo vocal pyrotechnics belongs to Archibald – in response to a hanging, appropriately enough. For the choir, it’s the Handel spoof early in the second act. Music this comedic seldom inspires as much repeated listening. And the political content, in an age of divide-and-conquer, speaks truth to what at this moment seems to be rapidly unraveling power.

A Fearless, Funny, Spot-On New Holiday Protest Song Album From the Pocket Gods

The Pocket Gods might hold the alltime record for the total number of songs released by a rock band. A considerable portion of their voluminous output comes from a series of hundred-song albums written to protest Spotify’s nanopayment system: a couple quid per million plays, more or less.

The band come out of the scruffy British space where psychedelia meets punk and garage rock. Since the early zeros, they’ve released everything from a concept album about Oak Island, where a fortune in pirate treasure is reputedly hidden, to the incendiary No Room at the (Holiday) Inn collection of Christmas-themed protest songs which made the top ten albums of 2020 list here. Frontman Mark Christopher Lee is a purist pop polymath who never loses his sense of humor, no matter how grim things get – and they get very, very grim here.

This year the Pocket Gods have a snotty new holiday album, Apocalyptic Christmas, streaming at Spotify. It’s basically their greatest holiday hits. As anti-Christmas music, it’s irresistible. Some of the songs are pure punk rock, ranging from filthy and Ramonesy to more overtly political. There are also instrumentals, punked-out carols and a loopy little number built around a sample of Boris Johnson’s father waxing eloquent about “decreasing the surplus population.” No joke.

On the lighthearted side, there’s a Stiff Little Fingers-style version of Silent Night. On the more venomous tip, there’s the title track, a garage-punk critique of New Abnormal surveillance state totalitarianism. It’s sort of this decade’s counterpart to the Clash’s English Civil War.

Some of the songs, like Covid Cavalry, have a poignancy that transcends the rage of the music: imagine being separated from your significant other for months on end by a global divide-and-conquer scheme. If you’re one of the literally billions who’ve been deprived of some basic human necessity since the more-or-less international fascist coup d’etat in 2020, this resolutely funny, quintessentially British band will lift your spirits.

Some Funny Videos to Cheer You Up This Holiday Season

OK, making fun of New Abnormal Nazism is like shooting fish in a barrel. But it’s a big barrel. Everybody wants to be Charlie Chaplin on the set of The Great Dictator now:

“Perry Carditis & the mRNA’s” have a ridiculously funny Christmas medley in the style of a vintage K-Tel commercial, via Jeff Childers’ indispensable Coffee & Covid (scroll all the way down). “Order now at 1-900-666-VAXX, must be double-masked when you call!”

Tyler Fischer goes to pick up his laundry in the not-too-distant New Abnormal (via Mark Crispin Miller’s News From Underground). This particular lockdown-o-mat has a door guy, like at a music venue. Hang in there as things get crazier and crazier, all the way through to the punchline.

And the best of all of these is Pure Blooded, by the mysterious Nirvana A. It’s Foreigner’s Hot Blooded with new lyrics that make you remember what a pathetic Bad Company ripoff the original was (also via News From Underground). “C’mon Fauci, you can kiss my ass, I’m pure blooded, I’m pure blooded!”