My huckleberry friend
A lot for you today so I'll just barrel on ahead...
1. After spending a ridiculous amount of time trying, with the help of Contributor Tina and Michelle, my landlord/downstairs neighbor, to program the VCR (more on that in a moment,) I finally headed out to Sin-e only to get stuck on the train for HALF AN HOUR. We were informed over and over again through the warped speakers that the third rail was down and that we would be running as soon as power returned. People stuck half-way in a subway tunnel in a very nervous city does not make for good times. Which means of course, someone's gonna make a crappy tv show with just that premise.
But I digress, I made it to Sin-e, just in time to catch the last four songs of a band called Beat the Devil*. I had purposely not listened to any of their tracks, I just wanted to be surprised and/or disappointed on my own terms. Luckily for me, things turned out well.
Beat the Devil is a trio made up of drums/bass and harmonium, the harmonium manipulator doing double duty on vocals. Harmonium? Nico lite, perhaps? No, thank god. while I do loves me some Nico, I shudder at the thought of encountering late period Nico imitators holding forth in a lower east side club. Sure, the harmonium lends that ancient sound to their tunes, but the old timey feel has probably more to do with singer Shilpa Ray's raspy, loud almost carny-like pronouncements than any old chord wheeze. Tiny Ray pumped away at that thing and hollered like there was no tomorrow and it was damn near impossible to look elsewhere, like say, where that huge voice was coming from. The easy and cheap comparison would be PJ Harvey, another diminuitive but vocally gigantic songstress, but I wouldn't say that was accurate at all. There's certainly a theatricality to Ray's voice but it falls more along the lines of Tom Waits than Polly Jean. And that's a good thing, no?
Anywho, for their last song of the night they were joined on guitar by Danny from The Big Sleep on a cover of wait for it...wait for it...When the Levee Breaks. No denying, they really amped it up for this but the thing that put a smile on my face is that as soon as drummer Josh Fleischmann started on the beginning BOOM BOOM TSSS KA BOOM BOOM TSSS** intro, his face had a barely contained glee, Like "Dang, I've been wanting to do this since junior high!" and that infectious feeling was all over the stage. Bassist Mishka Shubaly was grooving in his little corner, weaving back and forth in front of his amp, Danny ZZZ was going buck nutty with the slide and Ray was lung-bustin'. Led Zeppelin covers can fail spectacularly for various reasons but if your singer ain't up to commiting 100% to the lunacy that is Robert Plant, then you've got nothing, and with Ray screaming about going back to Chicago, they we're doing jussss fine. They had several deliberate stops in the song where, every time, I heard the audience's sharp intake of breath, so they took them on their classic rock geekfest ride as well. Su-weet, eh? I will definitely be seeing them again. Befriend them on My Space.
2. Yes, I had to tape America's Next Top Model. And Lost. And Project Runway. What of it? Regarding Lost, I just want to say (and DON'T READ THIS IF YOU DIDN'T SEE THE SHOW) that I surmised correctly that the episode would only deal with one group but I was wrong about who it would be. I thought you'd only see Hurley and Co., not the three dingbats that got captured. ALSO, is it just me or are they trying to do some crazy zoo shiz with Kate and Sawyer, make 'em get it on in a cage? Or is that my overactive imagination getting away with me? ALSO, ALSO (new term alert!) I wanna say how glad I am Elizabeth Mitchell is on this show (the Other who seems to have beef with bug out eyed Artist Formerly Known As Henry Gale,) I love her. it seems pretty clear though that they're gonna hook her up with boring ole Jack. Man. They better make him a secret sexual deviant or something because he is the blandest man on earth. So bored of his daddy issues already. Bring on the next episode!
3. I really, really wanna book this singer named Bell. If it doesn't work for Beg Yr Pardon then I'm going to find a place and make it happen Mickey and Judy style, straight up. Melding warm electronica with fetching and winsome vocals, slightly jazzy a la Leslie Feist, this lady is definitely one to download, go see live and eventually, as soon as it is ready, purchase her cd. Befriend her on My Space.
I played Bell's cover of Moon River last month on my spectacularly incoherent guest spot on Colleen's Sandy Acres Sound Lab show on East Village Radio. If they ever update Breakfast at Tiffany's, or do any type of Audrey Hepburnish girl skipping around in NYC type of romantic comedy, they should definitely use this version. I love it when the dual vocals come in on "Two drifters..." so that the song isn't about you and some dreamy guy, but you and your mirror self, peacefully accompanying each other on life's journey.
Echinacea/Bell (you send it download)
From the same twinkly starry lo-fi universe as Moon River, this time more beat-skittery and uncertain. 'Cause even though the expression of gratitude is clearly felt, the way the soundscape can't quite get a fix on itself says there's a whole lot more to this story than a simple thank you.
4. Pete Galub added to the covers fun over at D: Undercover with a Pink Floyd selection. Go check it out!
* Also the name of an amusing noir film starring Humphrey Bogart. Wait...is Noir the new tapes?
** Special thanks to Matt Earfarm for helping me sort out this sound. Yes. We are dorks.
Songs to seek: Plea Bargain/Beat the Devil, Moon River/Bell, Echinacea/Bell, Comfortably Numb/Pete Galub