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Songwriters

Time: 
21:00
Band name: 
Bill Bartholomew
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
http://www.facebook.com/billbartholomewmusic
Venue name: 
Pete's Candy Store
Band email: 
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World

Time: 
07:00
Band name: 
Carlos Jimenez
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
https://www.facebook.com/carlosjazzflautist/
Venue name: 
Chelsea Table Stage
Band email: 
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Sean Spada's "The Wild Ride" is a yacht-rock-run-aground piano-based psych-rock operetta

photo by Tasha Lutek

The piano isn’t exactly the coolest instrument in the public imagination these days and it hasn't been for a good while which yeah of course there’s plenty of cool piano music out there but not like back in the day like say 19th-century Europe up to its armpits in mad genius sex-crazed pianist-composers roaming the continent like the polonaise-playing rock stars of their day…

…wantonly indulging in sex, drugs, and Rachmaninoff and not even the most shameful STD of the century could stop Byronic fops like Robert "Mad Bob" Schumann from writing some truly sick tunes (wordplay!) made only sicker by the syphilis-induced “hallucinations and horrors and psychological conflicts reflected in [their’] music” this according to an article entitled “Syphilis’ Impact on Late Works of Classical Music Composers” published in the July 2021 issue of International Journal of Urologic History which makes for great bathroom reading...YEAH I JUST WENT THERE SO F*CKING WHAT!

…and heck even well into the 20th century the piano was still pretty damn hip, take for instance the early-century rise of stride, ragtime, and boogie-woogie piano styles or the decades-long dominance of Tin Pan Alley which birthed the modern day hit parade by selling millions of copies of piano-based sheet music to the All-American masses ultimately displaced by the piano-pounding R&B shouters and early rock ’n’ rollers of the mid-20th-century…

…but this all changed somewhere between then and now and personally I'm inclined to hold Giorgio Moroder and Peter Criss of KISS responsible cuz in the first case when the Italian synth wizard teamed up with disco queen Donna Summer for “I Feel Love” in 1977 the synthesizer was transformed overnight—once the primary province of pretentious prog rock profligacy—into a booty-shaking, floor-filling miracle machine and why would anyone wanna play a dumb ol’ piano ever again…

…meanwhile a year earlier the fire breathing, blood spewing, all-night partiers known as KISS scored their first top ten hit with a piano-driven ballad called “Beth” featuring the band's raspy-voiced, pussy-faced drummer apologizing (apologizing!) to his titular lady friend for staying out too late rockin' out with the boys and at precisely this moment the piano became the antithesis of cool… 

…and don’t even get me started on Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” (an easy target, I realize, but still!) with its self-regarding, pseudo-Dylanesque portrait of a “piano man” who despite being lucky enough to be gainfully employed at a local watering hole and to be much loved by its regular clientele (“it's me they've been comin' to see”) nonetheless looks down his nose at all the pathetic, self-deluded saps (“they're sharing a drink they call loneliness”) who hang out at the piano bar

…but never mind Billy Joel or Peter Criss or Donna Summer because this article is about SEAN SPADA (obviously!) and SEAN SPADA is the real deal, a hard-working, consummate-pro piano everyman who would never dream of insultingly patronizing the sad sacks at the bar because clearly he identifies with and counts himself among the sad sacks at the bar (“the world is too much, I’m not enough”) facing down life’s dead-ends and cul-de-sacs with steely resolve, fatalistic wit, and a clutch of jazz-laced seven- and nine-chords on his new album The Wild Ride

…a record that’s not lacking for Leonard Cohen/Tom Waits type vibes like when Sean wonders aloud “am I lost? / am I found?” before conceding that “sometimes I just prefer to be / spaaaaacing oooout” which is a theme explored at length on numbers like “Spacing Out, Pt. 1” and “Spacing Out, Pt,. 2,” songs that are fittingly full of stereo-panned mindfuckery (theremins and vocoders and vibraslaps, oh my!) so pass the bong, yo…

…but it’s “Doppelgänger Jungle” that’s the biggest head trip of all, a six-and-a-half-minute epic tale of “shadow selves escaping from my dreams” glanced by our narrator on every other street corner, a paranoic but pretty rad fantasy matched to a soundtrack of planetarium-ready percolating synths and a whole entire part that sounds like a Steely Dan/ELO/Boz Skaggs mashup and finally an extended breakdown coda section with “breakdown” being the operative word that slowly-but-surely builds back up to a swirling vortex of sound before trailing off again with some airy vocal harmonies floating off into the ether like a puff of fog machine smoke in the corner of a run down piano bar…

…so needless to say it’s a wild ride akin to “Pablo Cruise in purgatory” (pull quote!) or if you prefer a cross "between Randy Newman and Huey Lewis" but either way it's a ride that never flies off the rails thanks to the ever-present guard rails of Sean’s sensitive, skillful piano playing to the point where I’m moved to proclaim The Wild Ride the world’s first psychedelic piano lounge yacht-rock-run-aground rock operetta, a character study of a piano man who may be “Set Up To Self Destruct” but who’s nonetheless “Getting on the Highway” with predictable results perhaps but all the more stirring for seeing it coming...

…so in closing we recommend you pour yourself a double on the rocks and don’t forget the swizzle stick (because…stirring!) before dropping the digital needle on Sean Spada’s The Wild Ride and when he observes in the album-opening “When You’re Crazy” that “the only sane way to truly be yourself” is to embrace your own craziness you'll no doubt slowly and sagely nod your head and raise your glass to toast the bittersweet poignancy of it all. (Jason Lee)

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Release-Day Hot Take: "Versechorus" by Two-Man Giant Squid

Admittedly I can be prone to taking band names a little too literally sometimes but with Two-Man Giant Squid I think it’s a fair opening gambit because even though they’re on the record described their band name as silly it nonetheless conveys the aura of TMGS’s debut LP Abyssal Gigantism and by the way that’s “abyssal” and not “abysmal” as in an an immeasurably deep gulf vs. immeasurable deep suckitude…

…because right from the opening moments of opening track “Don’t Make Your Presence Known” the band has a way with combining herky-jerky rhythms, twisty arrangements and “angular” melodies™ much like a lurching pantomime horse whose head and ass each have a mind of their own (i.e., two heads) which is both amusing and unsettling to witness…

…with the surreal subaquatic fluidity of a giant squid witness for instance the watery vibes of song #2 on the album “First (And Last) Time In Your Nightclub” which has been described elsewhere as the band’s “November Rain” and in fact I'd say the record as a whole continually plays off this same dynamic push-and-pull between teetering post-punk angularity and woozily soft-focus psychedelia, ergo Two-Man Giant Squid…

…all of which can now be tossed out the window because TMGS’s just-dropped single “Versechorus” throws the listener a curveball with its straight-down-the-middle verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge song structure and its loud-quiet-loud grunge dynamics not to mention its repetitive, self-referential lyrics (“I’ll probably just, like…write a bridge”) that otherwise concerns mundane topics like text messaging…

…which all makes sense once you realize the song is intended “as a tongue-in-cheek FU to modern songwriting expectation” or “a tongue-in-cheek spite-song that was written as an FU to a former band member who was not pulling his weight because the songs weren’t ‘verse-chorus’ enough for him to learn properly” which I wouldn't have realized without the quotes above kindly provided by frontperson Mitch Vinokur…

…and the way I see it “Versechorus” could easily end up being TMGS's “Song 2’ in other words a lean-yet-loin-stirring garage punk ripper by an art-damaged band who accidentally pen a future sports-stadia anthem that although intended sardonically at first is transfigured over time into a populist fist-pumping, adrenaline-boosting singalong of the masses (there’s even a subtle “woo-hoo!’ near the end) and if it actually pans out this way remember you heard it here first! (Jason Lee)

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Indie Rock

Time: 
7:00 pm
Band name: 
Sleeping Jesus
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
https://www.facebook.com/sleepingjesusmusic/
Venue name: 
Our Wicked Lady
Band email: 
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