Archive for Music

Culture Clash: Our City Dreams, Beirut, the Third Mind

Posted in art, film, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

I have been overwhelmingly silent lately on the blog front. It’s not that I haven’t been going out, I have. It is just that I have been overwhelmed by stimuli, potential topics, definite un-topics and when I’ve tried to sit down and review I found that the reasons were wrong.

So how about a fresh start in this fresh weather. Digest style: I want to give some shout outs to the culture I’ve been sampling lately.  I saw a great film, truly beautiful, at the Film Forum, called Our City Dreams. It tracks 5 female artists, through a year or so in their lives , recording each artists relationship with the city. The director, Chiara Clemente, profiles Kiki Smith, Swoon, Ghada Amer, Nancy Spero and Marina Abramovic. A jazz soundtrack supports the film and the cinematography is infectious, it reminded me of super 8, rainy, home video.  Although each artist is in a different stage of their life and career, all seem to be at a stage where they are receiving lots of props.  Swoon goes from street art to a show at Deitch to having work at MOMA, while Marina Abramovic has a major retrospective at the Guggenheim. Ghada Amer is probably the most interesting character to watch. As she hand stitches and weaves large canvases, she tells us that she was very depressed before she became an artist. It saved her life. Kiki Smith, the daughter of a successful artist also recalls that she started to work only in her late 20s after her father died. She couldn’t take herself seriously as an artist until then. Abramovic  details her fascinating performance art-making practices. They involve starvation, cold and self-injury.

A few days after the film,  I found myself at the Guggenheim myself for the opening of The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia. Go see it and tell me what you think! I am not so sure myself. I enjoyed seeing an annotated manuscript page from The Waste Land and some of Ginsberg’s old photos, not to mention a few beautiful Asia inspired paintings by American Artists. My friend however, thought that discussion around cultural appropriation was dangerously absent from the exhibition.

Well, speaking of un-apologetic cultural appropriation, it’s on to Beirut. I have to say that the concert at BAM on Friday night was not only beautiful, but it was also lovely, harmonic, poetic, inspiring. If I could have removed most of the shouting hipster audience from the scene it would have been even better, but hey the band themselves are hipster-esqe so not all Williamsburg-dwellers are bad. The crew of young guys, headed by a 22 year old Angel in plaid, are a band that sounds consistently like gypsy music to me, yet def. delves into brit-pop, french chanteuse  and Indigenous sounds that span multiple continents. I’m not a hater, and I won’t bag them for sounding like pretty Americans, who’ve spent some time camping in Bulgaria.  I love their music and have to take the culture clashing for what it is.

-Robyn. Brooklyn Socialite in residence again.

Fader/One Step Beyond Party-SM

Posted in Music, Party with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 21, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

By Shannon Mustipher

I like to get out every now and again to shake it and to pretend that I am still one of the ‘cool kids’.  The winter chill has been putting a serious cramp on my dance moves  however, as I have sadly been out only a handful of times since the holidays. I didn’t have to think too hard when I got an invite from DJ Bianca to hear her spin at  Fader’s Museum of  Natural History, One Step Beyond party. I decided that I HAD to be there! The fact that the venue was uptown, far away from my downtown haunts of choice didn’t dissuade me.  In fact, I was curious to see who else would show up to the event.

I was not disappointed:  there were yuppies, upper west siders in loubotins and designer garb, a smattering of arty hipsters in tight jeans and funky eyewear, a fierce – looking group of  lesbians, and adorably spindly gay boys who made sure to look cute, while busting out hot moves.  While the bulk of the crowd was very down to earth and non-pretentious, there was enough fabulousity to keep things interesting, without being obnoxious.   It wasn’t too crowded ( maybe the weather was a factor ?) There were just enough people to make it feel full and happening without inducing claustrophobia, a common hazard in Manahattan party spaces.    The Museum’s planets exhibition was an excellent setting for the event, lending the proceedings an aura of futuristic, space age coolness.  As I’d hoped, Bianca’s set was a nice mix of electronica, hip hop and danceable indie rock; there was a little something for everyone.  She did a good job of transitioning from one phase of her set to the next, giving party goers ample space to switch gears between dancing, people watching, and drink grabbing .  Bianca was followed by Todd Sweeney, who benefited from a loose and warmed up crowd, which broke out into pockets of wild and energetic dancing not long after he took to the tables.

One Step Beyond is a fun place to go with 10 of your closest friends.  The venue and the music offer something of interest for everyone, and plenty of room for you and your gang to set up camp in your own private corner of the cosmos and party like you’re the only ones in a  tricked out space age fantasy of your own making.  One Step Beyond will no doubt become a regular stop on many a party – goer’s circuit.

Slate Honey, Novice Theorey

Posted in Mr Slate Honey, Music, People of Color, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

By Slate Honey

My favorite musical experiences are ones that feel like lucid dreaming.  The one-person band Novice Theory has quickly found a choice spot on my list of vision-inspiring.  I sink into self-reflective hallucinations somewhere in the curves of songwriter Geo’s grandiose melodic piano-playing, pulled deeper in by his heartbreakingly sharp, lyrical narratives.  I saw Novice Theory live for the first time at Joe’s Pub last night.

This morning, I woke up to flashes of dreams still fresh on my mind.  In one, I braided my miraculously-grown long curls.  In another, my mother and I had a love-affair breakdown in a restaurant in Chinatown.  Lying in bed, two lines from a Kate Bush cover performed the night before looped in my head.  I hummed it over and over again on my walk to work.  I couldn’t kick the tune all day… but I didn’t really want to.

I often lose touch with my own tenderness in dealing with complicated questions of identity.  It’s easier for me to turn to political and overly-intellectual language to make sense of the daily experiences of gender-queer and racially-othered bodies in this wide world.  Novice Theory takes on these questions on an emotionally bare level.  Sometimes pounding and other times caressing the keys of a grand piano, Geo works out so much in his music.  He labors through intensity and honesty with a crafted precision.  Novice Theory mixes together classical and folk tones, a tender darkness, cutting humor and an entrancing theatrical sound.  Experiences most difficult to process somehow become easy to listen to in the candid and lavish storytelling–or maybe just graspable, simply distilled to rich and vivid imagery.

Agent Angie gets Techy at El Guincho

Posted in Music, Party with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

I headed to (Le) Poisson Rouge the other night to see El Guincho, aka Pablo Díaz-Reixa an electro-pop artist based in Barcelona. I arrived very early. I must admit a few things that threaten to undermine my status as a “socialite” dear readers. The first thing is that I don’t know if I am capable of attending these late night shows anymore. I really enjoy going to (Le) Poisson Rouge, but most of their shows start barely before midnight. When you work full time during the day, is going to a show that starts at 11:30 feasible? Not really.

Finally, Lemonade, the opener started, whose weird electronic mix of pops, blips, pings, and buzzes accompanied by occasional vocals provided the best electro-dance music I’ve heard in a long while. Everyone was gyrating to the music and thoroughly enjoying themselves. Later, when I listened to it again on myspace I felt more ambivalent. This type of music is better in person.

El Guincho drew an impressive crowd, (Le) Poisson Rouge was packed, but I wasn’t so impressed by him. A part of me wondered what all the fuss was about. His enthusiasm and personality were wonderful to watch, but the music didn’t win me over.

Therefore, I will go back to discussing my experience as a bad socialite that night at (Le) Poisson Rouge. I arrived early because I didn’t want to bother going back uptown after work. I thought it started at ten (I have a terrible habit of confusing the “doors” time and the actual time the show is set to begin). Arriving early did afford me the opportunity of observing the people around me. There was a dj, a pretty decent dj at that, but everyone was standing around looking bored (including myself). I kept thinking, ‘aren’t we supposed to be dancing? Someone dance with me.’ I was alone for most of the show and kept trying to push myself to strike up conversations with strangers who were also alone, but never did. I looked around at everyone clicking away on their BlackBerrys and iPhones and regretted that technology has driven a wedge between us. Who knows if I would have worked up the courage to do it even if the BlackBerrys weren’t present, but it’s a little harder to do when someone is preoccupied texting or twittering or what have you.

I feel I have a love/hate relationship with technology. In this instance, before I made a point to put away my iPhone in order to stop discouraging others from being friendly, I caught up on some reading. I read a wonderful article by Roger Ebert about the struggles in the journalism world of late. I was grateful that my iPhone allowed me to be productive and escape the boredom of being alone. However, it also made me feel very cowardly for using it (partly) to avoid being social. It made me wonder if depending on technology since my first year of college, when I first started to develop my social skills in an adult world and develop relationships independent of family, crippled me socially in the long run. And, what does this tell us about individuals growing up in front of screens? Imagine having a facebook profile in middle school. Any thoughts dear readers?

-by Angie Venezia

Slate Honey reviews Recitement, Music/Poetry

Posted in Mr Slate Honey, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Recitement Review- by Slate Honey

A week ago, I immersed myself in Stephen Emmer’s poetry compilation album Recitement.  Pairing recited poems by a wide variety of writers (from Lou Reed to Jorge Luis Borges) with musical composition, Emmer curates a work that is more akin to a series of short films than an album with a solid identity.  Emmer does a comprehensive job of creating genre-specific music that works hard to set a tone for each spoken piece.  Recitement’s sounds bounce back and forth between dark, spacy down-tempo, bouncy classic rock, cinematic European pop and whispery retro French electro.  The musical style is laid a little too thick and is at times sentimental.  And melody sometimes becomes competitive with poetry.  The weight of the poetry often gets lost in the layered soundtracks.  Emmer does best when he presents pieces that really lend themselves to music.

Two tracks are particularly good. “Invergence of the Twain” is reminiscent of spoken word set to cool-sounding acoustic guitar and light percussion.  The beautiful rhyming and careful pacing of the poetry make for a sexy, relaxed sound that is easy to get into.  “Absolutely Grey” has the kind of melancholy space-age sound of Tricky and matches well to a sparse monologue on absolutes.  Especially good for those days when one is feeling super emo and particularly philosophical.

I’d recommend Recitement if you are tired of albums packaged with a singular look and feel.  It’s worth a listen if you want something really different.  Expect to be taken along several twists and turns and leave yourself open to the multi-media feel.  Recitement is not background music.

Arthur Russell- Love is Overtaking Me

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on November 14, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

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.

J. Bob Alotta and Toshi Reagon benefit/birthday Party

Posted in Guide to What's Good, Music, Party with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite
It was a strange night… I arrived at this event super early, cause I was in the neighborhood, planned to go to the Y and found it closed, so just dazed my way into Sputnik around 9pm. It was me reading Valencia at the bar, and Toshi Reagon chillin with friends a few stools down. A typical Saturday night, then life got even more normal when my friend showed up and discovered her wallet had been lost/stollen. I switched into serious iphone/google/police report mode and 2 hours later things were pretty much settled. We canceled the cards, felt shitty and went back to Sputnik for a dance. The music was House, not my favorite, but the crowd was fun and the cuase excellent.
“j. bob alotta is a media activist, story teller,
worker, preacher, rabbi, builder of community.
whether its on the screen or at the dinner table,
s/he believes in gathering the tribe.”

The birthday celebration for Bob was also a fundraiser for
“4REELTHO: the narrative arm of our project.
our goal: to tell stories borne from the world in which we actually live.
TRUTH2POWER is the documentary/educational arm of our project.
our goal: to create the world we believe this could be.
which is to say, our work / our stories are unapologetically multi-racial, gender
variant, urban, sexy, strong, resistant & uppity.”
www.4reeltho.com

Sounds amazing. I threw down some of my meager earnings, and Betty even showed up for a quick second. Along with some older Frenchies who bumbed a flame off of us. I had to speak French a couple of times that night. The skills you almost forget you have, until you need to remember. We ate cake and rolled out onto the street around 3. A night well spent.