Bête Noire

Susan Bee: Doomed to Win/Paintings from the 1980s
A.I.R Gallery
Through April 27, 2014

Most paintings, the instant you see them, they become familiar and then it's too late.- William Gaddis, The Recognitions Read more »

Easter Season Music, Part II: Beyond Bach

Earlier this week, I looked at recent releases of Easter-season choral works by J.S. Bach and one of his sons. Today I cover a bit more historical range in terms of composers and eras, again sticking to recent releases.

Maria Venuti, Keith Lewis, Michel Brodard/Gächingen Chorale of Stuttgart/Bach Collegium of Stuttgart/Helmuth Rilling
Christus am Ölberge, Op. 85
(Hänssler Classic)

Written in 1802 in just 14 days (but not published for a decade, hence the high opus number), Christus am Ölberge (Christ on the Mount of Olives) is a dramatic oratorio depicting Christ's emotional acceptance of his fate during His conversation with an angel in the garden of Gethsemene, followed by His arrest and Peter's protest.  Read more »

Something Must Break: Hedwig Without Music

"It is an awful thing to be betrayed by your body, David Levithan asserts in his novel Every Day." And it's lonely, because you feel you can't talk about it. You feel it's something between you and the body. You feel it's a battle you will never win . . . and yet you fight it day after day, and it wears you down. Even if you try to ignore it, the energy it takes to ignore it will exhaust you."  Read more »

Song of the Week: "Like Rats" - Godflesh

The reunion of the most original metal band of the '90s -- Godflesh -- finally reached our shores last week. Here's the opening song of their NYC show at Irving Plaza.

Mean Greene Machine

greene.jpg Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene

Sometime in the late 1960s (1969 to be exact), when Philip Roth was ripping it up with raw liver, Graham Greene -- lauded, praised, lionized - kicked back and created one of his greatest "entertainments," Travels with My Aunt. He has confessed in interviews that this was his most pleasurable writing experience, and all I can say, as a reader, it certainly delivers on the pleasure principal. Interestingly, Greene's Aunt Augusta calls to mind that other great literary free-wheeling aunt of mid-century, Auntie Mame. But Augusta's not merely an eccentric globe-hopper. Aged yet spry, her relations are deep, dark, and strange -- as is her relationship with the narrator, surely the most milquetoasty, recently retired, dahlia-cultivating, bachelor bank manager in literature. Read more »

Music for Easter Season, Part 1: Bachs

Even in my youth, when Christmas came packaged with the anticipation of new toys, I preferred the Easter season. Why? Because I sang in a church choir, and the music of the Easter season is far, far greater. The gamut of emotions traversed along Holy Week alone offers so much grist for musical expressiveness: Palm Sunday (triumph, but tinged with foreshadowing), Maundy Thursday (dark lamentations), Good Friday (agony), and Easter (the ultimate triumph). And though the great masterpieces, Johann Sebastian Bach's two mighty Passion settings, were beyond the capacities of a simple church choir, I reveled in playing my vinyl versions over and over again. (Neither would be fashionable nowadays; the St. Matthew a Nonesuch recording led by Hans Swarowsky featuring the Vienna Boys Choir, though with an excellent set of soloists starring Heather Harper, and the St. John led by none other than Eugene Ormandy at the head of his Philadelphia Orchestra, with Maureen Forrester the star soloist (Columbia)). Here are some recent recordings of relevance; later this week I'll cover some non-Bach recordings. Read more »

The Re-Release of Dusty Wright's Debut!

Read more »

Song of the Week: Anna Rose - "Los Angeles"

Our favorite NYC-based blues rocker babe is at it again! Anna Rose's slap-to-the-face ode to L.A -- simply titled "Los Angeles" -- has just been released as a video produced and directed by Miss Jennifer Tzar. Check her out for tour dates, swag, and more at AnnaRoseMusic.com, too.

Video of the Week: QOTSA - "Smooth Sailing"

Josh Homme and his QOTSA posse get some freak on in this cool ass video for "Smooth Sailing" directed by Hiro Murai (Childish Gambino, St. Vincent). Lots of drunken shenanigans with plenty of GoPro and POV camera angles and a relentless rock groove make this one crazy, Tarantino-like cinematic music experience.

A Naked Face in The Crowded City

(Ed. note - CC writer Ian Alterman writes about two of his favorite film classics.)

The Naked City

Two years after making The Naked City, director Jules Dassin would find himself on the Hollywood Blacklist, and move to Europe, never to return to the U.S.  His first film made in Europe, Rififi (1955), would become his most influential, beloved and, arguably, greatest film.  And there are already signs of the naturalist style used in Rififi in The Naked City, though the former is a classic (maybe the classic) heist film, while the latter is a film noir police procedural, complete with narration (which ends the movie with the famous line: “There are eight million stories in the naked city.  This is one of them.”) Read more »

Quote of the Week: Mickey Rooney

"Always get married in the morning. That way if it doesn't work out, you haven't wasted the whole day."

Mickey Rooney (23 September 1920 - 6 April 2014), American actor.

Music to Thaw the Deep Freeze of 2014

It was a brutal Winter (of our discontent), but it's finally Spring and there's plenty of new music to thaw even the most solid block of plowed snow. Here are ten of my favorite new rock/pop/dance/funk/folk tunes. Let us begin with this tremendous track (and album) from one of my favorite folk-rock singer/songwriters, the former New Yorker and now L.A.-based David Poe. Here he shares his muse on his debut single "When I Fly" from his soon-to-be-released long player When I Fly. Check him out on tour, too. Read more »

Quote of the Week: Kurt Cobain

“If you die you’re completely happy and your soul somewhere lives on. I’m not afraid of dying. Total peace after death, becoming someone else is the best hope I’ve got.” 

Kurt Donald Cobain (20 February 1967 - 5 April 1994), American musician and artist. Known as the frontman of the rock band Nirvana.

Body of Evidence

Maria Lassnig
MoMA PS1
Through May 25, 2014

"Man is the measure of all things: of things which are, that they are, and of things which are not, that they are not."  Protagoras, quoted in Plato's Theaetetus 

"Both the motor and sensory homunculi usually appear as a small man superimposed over the top of the precentral or postcentral gyrus, for motor and sensory, respectively. The homunculus is oriented with feet medial and shoulders lateral on top of both the precentral and the postcentral gyrus (for both motor and sensory). The man's head is depicted upside down in relation to the rest of the body such that the forehead is closest to the shoulders. The lips, hands, feet and sex organs have more sensory neurons than other parts of the body, so the homunculus has correspondingly large lips, hands, feet, and genitals. The motor homunculus is very similar to the sensory homunculus, but differs in several ways. Specifically, the motor homunculus has a portion for the tongue most lateral while the sensory homunculus has an area for genitalia most medial and an area for visceral organs most lateral. Well known in the field of neurology, this is also commonly called 'the little man inside the brain.' This scientific model is known as the cortical homunculus." Cambridge University Dictionary of Medical Diagnostics (Dr. Philip Kennedy, Editor, 2013 edition) Read more »

1974 in Progressive Rock

As we rightfully celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' rockin'-vasion of America, it is also worth noting the 40th anniversaries of progressive rock albums released in 1974 -- a banner year for the genre.

In alphabetical rather than chronological order, here is just a short list, along with links to a representative composition from each album.

Enjoy!

Apostrophe (Frank Zappa)

Although Zappa had been "at it" since 1966 -- as one of the earliest progenitors of progressive rock -- and although he had already put out over a dozen important albums, Apostrophe (and the immediately prior album, Over-Nite Sensation) arguably brought him to the masses through his cross-over "hit," "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow," which, despite its length, received regular airplay on FM stations. It didn't hurt that the album also included two of his funniest, most fun songs, "Cozmik Debris" and "Stinkfoot." Read more »

Syndicate content