Neko Case Flings Me Into Space

Oh, that Voice! That VOICE!! And to hear it in Radio City Music Hall, the pinnacle of good acoustics… it was truly magic. Neko Case and her aggressively-bearded band dazzled and amused with a performance that included a smattering of selections from each album and some hilarious banter with her sidekick/backup vocalist/stand up comedienne-in-residence Kelly Hogan. She’s touring to support her new album The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. It’s yet another album from her where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and its parts are utterly glorious. Neko Case is known for the force of her voice, and the beauty of her lyrics. Seeing Neko live was every bit as spiritually and auditorially fulfilling as I had hoped it would be. It was a beautifully wrapped and beribboned present. The impact of her voice and poetic lyrics in such an acoustically blessed venue was pretty damn powerful. When an artist like Neko Case unleashes her voice and taps into the power of music as a means of transcension, it is a vehicle that takes you to the top of the mountain and then catapults you into the heavens. [Ed. note: This used to be an embedded video of her performance of Night Still Comes on Jimmy Fallon a couple weeks ago, but the video has been evaporated for what I’m sure are nefarious reasons.] From Night Still Comes: Did they poison my food? Is it cause I’m a girl? If I puked up some sonnets, would you call me a miracle? I’m gonna...

Best of 2012

Confession: I didn’t do a great job of staying on top of new music in 2012. There was a three-month miracle where we had a really good indie radio station in the NYC area but as quickly as it appeared it converted to sports radio. One evening I’m grooving to the Wombats, the next morning it’s two guys yelling about the Yankees. A few bands that stood out in 2012 (in my admittedly limited experience) are Atlas Genius, the Wombats, Grimes, and Azealia Banks. I was supposed to see Grimes but the show got cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. I was also supposed to see Azealia Banks but got in a car accident earlier that day and was soaking in a hot tub that night instead. Not really a stellar music year. However, 2012 is the year I met in person one of the members of my Holy Trinity: Kristin Hersh! Behold: She performed an all-acoustic night at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York in April. I was in bliss. First off, it’s a gorgeous space. Secondly, she was amazing in every way. She alternated reading from her book Rat Girl with performing songs and being utterly and smartly charming. She played a lot from her early Throwing Muses days, and I was so happy I was just about levitating off my chair. Fish, Hate My Way, Vicky’s Box, and so many more, all done with just her voice and her acoustic guitar. After the show she talked to every person lined up to meet her, including me. I was so starstruck when I met her that...

Home is where the heart lies

I first heard Throwing Muses on a 4AD compilation I purchased in college called Lonely is an Eyesore. It’s a showcase of the British label’s artists at the time, bands with esoteric names like Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil and Cocteau Twins. I loved every track on that album, and it formed the foundation for what continues to be my favorite kind of music: discordant, rhythmic, weird, poetic, and a little dark. To sum up, I love everything 4AD puts out. I loved it all in 1989, and I love it all now. Back to Throwing Muses. My favorite track on Lonely is an Eyesore, and a song that remains one of my top 10 songs of all time to this day, is the one by Throwing Muses, the first American band to be signed by 4AD. It’s called Fish, and it reshaped my brain buds in 4 minutes and 39 seconds. [audio:http://www.lifemusicblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/ThrowingMuses-Fish.mp3|titles=ThrowingMuses-Fish] Bizarre, fever dream lyrics, right? I’m sure you caught that the name of the album was taken from Fish. “Lonely is as lonely does, lonely is an eyesore. The feeling describes itself.” And the music – it was like nothing I’d heard before. My heart knew I loved it long before my brain could form enough new synapses to process all the twists and turns. Throwing Muses is led by Kristin Hersh (one third of my music trinity, for those keeping score. PJ Harvey and Kim Deal complete it. And me.) She is a genius. I have yet to say anyone is a genius that I’ve written about on this blog (not even PJ) so...

Teaser

I caught an early (and very short – 45 minutes!) show by EMA at the Mercury Lounge a couple nights ago. It was my first live show in more than a month. I’m not including the Journey tribute band1 that played my town’s Family Night a couple weeks ago. I was anticipating big things from EMA live after reading about the review her previous band (Gowns) got for their live show2, and I got pretty big things at the gig – including an EMA tote bag (thanks, H!). I had a feeling earlier that day that the coming night was going to bring some adventure, and since the show ended at 9p, we had plenty of time to find some. We ended up at the bar where we had started a couple hours previously, my home away from home, Nurse Bettie. Our arrival happened to coincide with the arrival of that night’s entertainment: five burlesque dancers, each with her own colorful entourage. Adventure found! The most striking was the goth/dominatrix in full goth/dominatrix gear carrying black roses and wearing a slight, sorta creepy, goth man3 on her arm. We had randomly and serendipitously caught the weekly burlesque show called “Spanking the LES” hosted by NYC darling Honi Harlow. The spanker’s name was Diety Delgado. But the best name of the night goes to a dancer named Stormy Leather. Rawr! Thoroughly enjoyable show. Like many women, I find burlesque joyous and liberating. Watching a real woman with cellulite, curves in a few of the wrong places, and natural breasts celebrate her body with song, dance, spankings, and pasties is absolutely...

Under the Covers

Last night I shook the hand that has given us this: JoseGonzalez-Crosses In keeping with my history of saying silly things when I meet talented musicians that I deeply admire, showcased here and here, I told The Dreamy José González what an honor it was to meet him and that I would love to shake his hand. He looked at me like he wasn’t sure if my plan was to take his hand home with me, but he hesitantly put it out there for me to shake. Nice guy. Nice grip, too. Can you imagine coming out of a really great show (Dean Wareham doing Galaxie 500 at the Bell House in lovely Gowanus) and having José González just kinda standing there at floor level behind a turntable with no handlers or hangers on in site? Me either! I walked straight up to him and there was only about 5″ between me and the dreamy José González. Pretty incredible. I love this man. Listen to what he can do with a Joy Division song, here covering Love Will Tear Us Apart: JoseGonzalez-Love Will Tear Us Apart He was doing a DJ set at The Bell House that night, which just happened to coincide with the Dean Wareham doing Galaxie 500 show. Speaking of great Joy Division covers, here’s how Dean and band closed the show: Galaxie500-Ceremony Dean Wareham still sounded fantastic despite the years since he was first singing/writing with Galaxie 500. Supposedly this gig at the Bell House was the last time he will perform Galaxie 500 material in New York. Not sure if that means he’ll be...

The Art of Soullessness

Last night was the PJ Harvey show at Terminal 5, and it was a fantastic night – with the one small exception of the actual show. That coupled with my little trip to the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles1 today has me thinking about people who seem to lack soul, humanity even, and those who seem to have hidden it somewhere, or maybe even lost it. As has been established here and here Ms. Harvey and I have been carrying on a torrid2 love affair for about 20 years now. Her music is deeply ingrained into my cerebral cortex, to the point where I hear her singing and it sounds like it’s coming from within myself. It’s a cellular bond. Plus, she’s hot. That said, the past two, maybe three albums haven’t really rung my bell, but I still deeply admire her talent and her constant growth and change as an artist. I went into this show knowing I was going to be disappointed, just because who I really love is the PJ Harvey of Dry, Rid of Me, and Is This Desire: that strong, take no prisoners, angry, rocking PJ. Lately, I guess as she’s matured as a person and musician, the albums have been more reflective, quiet and experimental. Not rocking. Not really all that intimately emotional. Weirdly focused on England, even for an Anglophile like me. PJ Harvey is known for her ability to command a stage with nothing but her guitar and some red lipstick. Last night she had presence3, but it felt too practiced to me. The friend I was with (visit him...