After I saw the recent Arthur Russell film by Tom Wolff, I resolved to give the new album a listen. It is made up of all sorts of tunes that lived alongside of him in the mix tapes that lined his apartment, and ultimately survived him. His partner, aided by Phillip Glass, eventually archived the tapes and the remastered versions appear on the recently released Love is Overtaking Me. My favorite song on the album would have to be “Nobody Wants a Lonely Heart.” Its refrain is “Don’t expect nothing, ’cause nobody wants a lonely heart.” Similarly clever and dire songs include the hysterical “What it’s like.” The song is about a married man, who tells his wife that he’s,” been touched by the lord.” and can’t be with her anymore. Then she responds that she only was with him oringinaly to, “see what is was like.” A mutual breakup, the best kind. The album is a progression from slow, guitar-based, folksy songs to more pop-infused disco beats. The two songs I mentioned are my favorite folk selections, while on the dico spectrum “the letter” is nicely suggestive and the title track, “Love is Overtaking Me” is pretty great as well.
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The Baltimore Avant-Garde at (le) Poisson Rouge
I suppose the bands I saw Friday night in the Baltimore Round Robin at (le) Poisson Rouge didn’t overtly define themselves as avant-garde, but they were certainly esoteric enough to be described that way. Furthermore, their pride in their irreverence, marked in many cases by aloofness, to the extent of failing to tell the audience their name (as if they’re so above the current music scene to care if we know who they are), made me think that many of them have quite lofty perceptions of themselves.
Despite my initial aversion to the elaborately esoteric nature of some of these performances, very quickly I began to hear the rhythm and beauty in even the most bizarre of noise bands there that night. Even the Lexie Mountain Boys, a group of women who did all manner of screeching, moaning, and yelping to convince me that I was either at a ritualistic ceremony or a violent orgy, captivated me.
The round robin concept, in which the audience forms in the middle and is surrounded by all of eleven bands, who alternate playing one song after another, was the perfect way in which to experience this music. I couldn’t imagine staying through concerts of most of these bands independent of each other, with the exception of Beach House, Jana Hunter, and possibly Teeth Mountain. The avant-garde elements were accessible because of the alternating and spontaneous form. The round robin is broken up into two nights. Friday was “Eyes Night” and Saturday, “Feet Night,” a night of dance music rather than the more visual music of Friday’s show. (le) Poisson Rouge on Bleeker and Thompson provided the perfect space for this unusual event, getting it on the GL of NY music venues.
I haven’t come close to succeeding in describing this show adequately for you. The bizarre, fantastic, and insane knew no bounds. These elements were all too numerous to describe here, so let me briefly list the highlights:
Beach House: My favorite band of the evening, and the one I was most anxious to see. Read this wonderful reviewof their latest album on Pitchfork.
Lexi Mountain Boys: As I mentioned previously, somehow the orgasmic grunts and howls of this group of women (wearing headdresses of baby doll heads and black perforated veils), became increasingly rhythmic and melodic to me as the night wore on. The blast they were having, that was apparent from their infectious, genuine smiles, took any pretention out of their inexplicable music.
The female drummer from Teeth Mountain: This woman’s sexy, tribal style of drumming and the captivating music it made, blew me away. I could have listened and watched her play all night.
Santa Dads: This band consisted of three people: one man beat-boxing in a cotton, handmade tiger suit, another, wearing a red dress with a Peter Pan collar playing an electric ukelaili, and a back up dancer undulating frantically with a stuffed leopard print octopus. Enough said.
Wish I could have gone to “Feet Night” as well, to get the full Baltimore music experience, but the 92Y Tribeca opening was that night. I wouldn’t have missed if you paid me. Expect a post soon.
Surprisingly, in my food coma, I managed to stumble over to The Angelika, a cinema which is definitely on the Good List. They consistently show great films, offer insightful Q&As and even have a cafe, yay! Last night Charlize Theron, of Monster fame, joined filmmaker Stuart Townsend (also her boyfriend, she is straight), and Kiwi Actor, Martin Henderson, who played the lead male role. Many of my friends were in Seattle at the WTO protests back in 1999. I remember them coming back to New York all pumped and ready to change the face of organizing. It was the dawn of the Internet, birth of The Indy Media Network. A hugely diverse coalition had been formed and would be maintained thereafter. A social movement had descended upon once secret meetings. For those who haven’t seen it, I strongly suggest finding a copy of This is What Democracy Looks Like and viewing it alongside Battle in Seatle. The former is a doco and the latter a dramatization of the events. Also try to wrap your head around Joseph Stiglitz’s Globalization and its Discontents. Or if you can’t hang with economist-speak, Stuart Townsend recommends Take it Personally by Anita Roddick.
The Angelika was packed, and it was an engaging film. Lots of Hollywood style drama- and a little too much sap courtesy of Woody Harrelson et al. Still it was easy to look past the pedestrian romances and focus on the momentum that the film simulates aided by an excellent musical score. The researched and nearly balanced approach it takes towards telling the story of N30 is commendable.