West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 5 | July 4 - 10, 2007
Feisty tunes, Rufus croons, and American roots in translation
By Lee Ann Westover
Feists every signature move is present here in her second solo album: the flutey soft voice, the occasional wail, the twanging guitars, bits of electronic merriment, and heartbreaking oooohs filling out the background. Just like her solo debut, this CD runs the gambit between tambourine sprinkled peppy pop tunes, ominous ballands, and her own brand of funky dance music. Youll love My Moon My Man, a disco-folk tune reminiscent of the Naked Eyes version of Always Something There to Remind Me. The upbeat, groovy tracks I Feel It All and 1234 will have you dancing on the subway to the unbelievably charming, optimistic rhythms. Her east coast shows in NYC and Washington DC may be sold out, but if you can swing it, its worth overpaying on eBay for a ticket to see her and her first-rate band do it live.
Release the Stars
Mr. Wainwright is nothing if not dramatic. Track number one, Do I Disappoint You, starts out with a slow dirge under his high, pleasantly nasal tenor. As the tune rolls on, toss in a full orchestra complete with kettle drums, a slew of electronic sounds and a chorus full of his sister Martha singing shrill harmonies like a distressed childrens choir. True to form, Wainwright oscillates between political and perverted. He berates the state of the union in Going to a Town (Im going to a town that has already been burnt down / Im going to a place that has already been disgraced / Im going to see some folks who have already been let down / Im so tired of America) and a few songs later, waxes poetic about his genitalia and the Apocalypse in the slow and sexy march Between My Legs. In 2006, the Metropolitan Opera announced that he has been granted a commission to create an opera. If Release the Stars is any kind of preview, opening night will be the best ticket in town.
Wainwright plays Central Park Summerstage August 18.
Cellist and vocalist Nick Ogawa and drummer Geoff Lewits exotic and romantic folk-pop includes influences from the strangest of places. Although not always overtly, an Asian aesthetic sometimes seeps through, in tasteful spareness of arrangements and presentation. Takénobu translates from the Japanese to determination and faith. More often than not, however, the band seems to pull from a mixture of American roots music. Ogawas smooth, smoky singing voice is deliberate and haunting on traditional tunes like Shady Grove. Highlight that with the occasional heady classical breakdown from the cello and you have something like Japan via the Wild West, and in this case, Brooklyn, too.
All Us Heathens
New York City is so full of singer-songwriters, sometimes it seems like every single person owns a guitar, and all the wrong people get the gigs. Matt Singer is definitely one of the right people, and whether hes solo or singing with Robin Aigner in their band Brookland, his sentimental side and snappy sense of humor shine through. All Us Heathens is around his fourth solo release. The basic instrumentation on the record is bass, guitar and drums, but here and there he adds interest with subtle horns, strings and accordion. My personal favorite is Suitable Vacation, in which Singer is imprisoned in an airplane seat listening to his girlfriend complain about his choice of vacation destinations. Dear God shut up / Cant you see that someones talking / Your opinions of Hoboken and Weehawken arent exactly moving me to create. Dont think hes all jokes, though. Check out Brooklands MySpace page for a heart-wrenching rendition of The Strokes Heart in a Cage.
Grey Gardens original Broadway Cast Recording
In between the cheese-fest musicals catering to the lowest common denominator, there are a few jewels on Broadway, proving that big-budget theater still has the capacity to amaze and inspire. Adapted from the Maysles Brothers eponymous documentary, Grey Gardens paints a portrait of the surreal lives of Edith and Little Edie Bouvier-Beale shut-in cousins of Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis. Fans of the film will be overjoyed by Christine Ebersoles Little Edie. In the first track of the cast recording, she gave me goosebumps as she announced, I found it muthah dahling
I found your old reh-cord. Isnt it just wonderful? Gawd, arent you just mad aboucha sawng? Mary Louise Wilson is also eerily dead-on as her mother, Big Edie. If thats not enough to convince you, both Ebersole and Wilson won Tony awards for their portrayals of these two terribly mixed-up, odd and fascinating women.
Grey Gardens is at the Walter Kerr Theatre, seven shows a week.
Jessica MolaskeySitting in Limbo
On Jessica Molaskeys solid cabaret offering Sitting in Limbo, her sweet tone is even and controlled; each syllable is perfectly audible and carefully expressed. In spite of a few tunes that offer little in terms of innovation (There Will Never Be Another You, Im Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter) some choice jewels shine through. Knowing You, co-written by Molaskey and her husband, guitarist John Pizzarelli, may be the best of the bunch. Its a witty peek inside the joy of intimacy. I know that you wont fall for girls named after seasons / I know that you are often late and will not give good reasons
I know that you wont take sinus pills while handling large machinery / While bathing you sing songs from Cats and sometimes Mountain Greenery. The couples arrangement of The Circle Game/Waters Of March is also a standout, brilliantly mixing Joni Mitchells vibrant lyrics with Joao Gilbertos ebullient bossa nova.