Laurie Anderson at BAM: ticket giveaway

Laurie Anderson’s new theater piece, Delusion, is opening BAM’s Next Wave festival. The piece features two sections from Anderson’s recent Nonesuch CD, Homeland. She’s joined by Eyvind Kang on viola and Colin Stetson on horns. Rich in visuals, it includes contributions from cinematographers Maryse Alberti and Toshiaki Ozawa, and additional animation and overall video design by artist Amy Khoshbin. The show runs through Oct. 3.

We’re giving away a pair of tickets to the event. To win them, be the first person to email me or DM me on Twitter with the correct title for her first hit single (#2 on the UK charts).

Delusion by Laurie Anderson
BAM Harvey Theater (651 Fulton St)
Sep 21—25, Sep 28—30, Oct 1 & 2 at 7:30pm
Sep 26 & Oct 3 at 3pm
Tickets start at $20
More info:

The Black Keys: “Brothers” (review)

The Black Keys
Nonesuch CD

After production help from Dangermouse on their 2008 recording Attack and Release, as well as some time apart in various side projects, the Black Keys return refreshed on the (principally) self-helmed Nonesuch release Brothers.

It’s be easy to oversimplify one’s assessment of the duo’s latest as a “return to their blues roots.” And while it’s undoubtedly true that Brothers reemphasizes the blues and roots music proclivities on display from the Black Keys’ inception, the record also displays a number of intriguing wrinkles that demonstrate the Keys’ versatility. Some of these are exemplified by imaginative touches of instrumentation. There’s the delicious surprise of harpsichord filigrees on “Too Afraid to Love You,” a delicate accompaniment to a muscular, almost outsized reverberant vocal.

In its intro, the hook gets whistled on “Tighten Up,” a song guest-produced by Dangermouse that revels in a languid backbeat and thickly chunked rhythm guitar shuffle. The insouciant whistling gives way to deft lead guitar and a more four-to-the-bar groove. But just as this straightforward rocking settles in, we are treated to a space-age analog synth coda that spaces out the proceedings anew.

Elsewhere, elegant simplicity reigns supreme. On “The Go Getter,” the Keys emphasize their duo dynamic, with a tight roots-rock drum groove undergirding a soulful vocal and tasty guitar breaks. “Black Mud” features a post-psych swamp rock ambience that is grittily determined; yet it remains a heady environment for tangy solos.

While the Keys’ originals display fine, often memorable, songwriting, their taste in covers is exquisite. Brothers only includes one, but it’s a classic: Jerry Butler’s “Never Gonna’ Give You Up.” An incandescently lilting vocal is poised against a rhythm section that replicates 60s R&B with pitch perfect accuracy, all the while imparting a sense of the Black Keys’ own musical identity. It’s the way a cover ought to be done – reminding us of the original artist while never letting us forget that this is a new rendition. Likewise, on Brothers the Black Keys are happy to pay tribute to their musical ancestors. But they concurrently demonstrate a freshness and vitality that suggests that they are indeed worthy heirs to the post-blues/roots rock tradition.

Laurie Anderson talks about Homeland (video)

Composer, violinist, and performance/video artist Laurie Anderson has never been one to rest on her laurels. But Homeland, her latest project for Nonesuch takes her farther afield than she’s previously been.

Rather than staying at home to record, Anderson developed the album’s songs over a two year period of touring. And, for the first time, she’s involved her partner Lou Reed in a collaborative recording process (he receives a co-producer credit). The results sound recognizable as songs by Laurie Anderson; but the sonic formula has been tweaked – indeed, refreshed – by the risks taken and departures made during the recording process.

A recurring character is Fenway Bergamot, Anderson’s “male alter-ego,” who graces the album cover and performs on the recording.

Below are a couple of “making of” videos Nonesuch has posted to YouTube.

Keyboard Duo Week Continues: Timothy Andres

Timothy Andres
Shy and Mighty
Nonesuch CD

One of the discs that’s been in heavy rotation here this month is the Nonesuch debut from composer/pianist Timothy Andres. Joined by pianist David Kaplan, Andres presents ten of his piano duo pieces on the disc. They are an impressive pairing, performing with lock step precision and concomitant fluidity.

Andres displays a wide range of influences. “Antenna” combines swaths of flowing 80s-tinged minimalism set against a thunderous section of Ivesian syncopated octaves. The latter gradually morph into a coda out of John Adams’ playbook. “Pavane (pour une compositeur defunt)” recalls a host of Impressionists, even quoting the watershed Debussy prelude “The Sunken Cathedral.” But these watercolored sonorities quickly give away to a jazzier ambience, deliciously complicating matters. “The Night Jaunt” supplies frequent Stravinskyian signatures, from jaunty ostinati to octatonicism.

Despite the readily appreciable stylistic touchstones on Shy and Mighty, Andres never seems to be overwhelmed by his influences. Rather, he crafts a postmodern melange of thoughtful, often exciting, music. He also reclaims the piano duo as a vital, vibrant medium; one with implications of the orchestra, but delightful on its own.

Stephin Merritt's Verismo

Magnetic Fields


Nonesuch CD

In a sharp turnaround from Magnetic Fields’ previous LP, the boisterous, thoroughly amplified  Distortion, their latest release, Realism, contains a liner note caveat: ‘no synths.’ Realism brings the unplugged aesthetic to Stephin Merritt’s wittily acerbic songs – with stirring results.

“You Must be Out of Your Mind” is a classic example of Merritt’s simultaneously humorous and poignant lyrics – a paean to jilted lovers everywhere, exhorting them to avoid their former partners like the plague. A small sampling, “You think I’ll run, not walk, to you, Why would I want to talk to you? I want you crawling back to me, down on your knees, yeah, Like an appendectomy, sans  anesthesia…” Ouch!

Meanwhile, “We are Having a Hootenanny Now” celebrates the bluegrass/alt-folk signatures employed throughout the album with a rousing verse, rollicking chord changes, and a dialing back of Magnetic Fields’ ironic propensities in favor of a moment of musical jocularity.

But don’t expect Merritt to refrain from tongue-in-cheek witticisms for long. “Everything is One Big Tree” allows for irony to reign supreme once again; complete with a second chorus in German!

Realism is required listening – It’s been in heavy rotation since its arrival here at 218 Augusta St.!


Sadly, the band’s not letting any of this material out for preview, but RCRDLBL has been kind enough to share a couple tracks from their preceding releases.

Voltaic – release information; screenings

Exciting news just in from Marni at Sneak Attack:

Björk’s DVD/CD/VINYL recording Voltaic, is being released in the U.S. by Nonesuch Records on June 30 (One Little Indian in the UK, and Universal worldwide.)

This June and July, the Paris concert from Voltaic: The Volta Tour will be screened nationwide in the U.S. Beginning on June 17 the more than 15 screenings will lead up to Voltaic’s release.   Below are the confirmed screening dates and you can download the poster here.

Available in five different physical configurations, Voltaic is a lovingly packaged celebration of the past two years of activities surrounding Björk’s Volta (2007).

Find more info about Voltaic here.


June 17 Boulder, CO Boulder Theater

June 19, 20 Anchorage, AK Bear Tooth Theater

June 20 Philadelphia, PA 941 Theater

June 23 New York, NY School of Visual Arts Theater

June 23 Los Angeles, CA The Montalban Theater

June 23 Madison, WI The Orpheum Stage Door

June 23-28 Oxford, MS The Amp

June 23-28 Lake Geneva, WI Geneva Theater

June 24 Minneapolis, MN The Trylon Microcinema

June 26, 27 Seattle, WA Northwest Film Forum

June 26, 27 San Francisco, CA The Roxie

June 26, 27 Bellingham, WA Pickford Film Center

June 26, 27 New Orleans, LA Zeitgeist Arts Center

July 20 Austin, TX Alamo Drafthouse Ritz

(More dates to be announced at Cinema Purgatorio)