Listening to…

Three Legged Fox, Always Anyway
Billed as “ska punk” where I came across them, but much foxier than that. Mild reggae beats (the kind soft-pop singers use) and blue-eyed soul strains give half the songs here an unexpected romantic air, like Simply Red crashed a basement party. Very few of the songs really jump—you feel restraint and intelligence at work here. Not that these style experiments are entirely successful, but they’re certainly intriguing, especially when the vocals start cruising atop the chunky guitars and keyboards in numbers like “Comin’ Back Soon.” Other songs include “Get Out Alive,” “Run for Your Life” and “High Time for Arrival”—it’s like some concept album for the peripatetic, and that frisky quasi-Jamaican style suits that theme pretty well.

A Constable Storm

The independent bookstore R.J. Julia’s email notice that they were closing early Saturday) and all day Sunday because of Hurricane Irene including a photo of a shop employee setting up an umbrella and rainboots as part of a window display.
For appropriate illustrations of the impending storm, however, it’s hard to beat the Yale Center for British Art’s use of John Constable’s painting Hadleigh Castle, The Mouth of the Thames—Morning After a Stormy Night.
Constable painted the scene in 1829, and on overcast days in Southern England it still looks like that.
Kathleen and I honeymooned in Westcliff-on-Sea, one town over from Leigh-on-Sea, where Hadleigh Castle still stands.
We resolved to hike to Leigh one morning.
We’d heard about the castle, but I hadn’t make the connection between it and the painting in the Yale Center for British Art which I must have passed a thousand times.
It stormed during our hike. It had stormed before. It would storm again. It had been storming on and off since at least 1829.
Kathleen lost a shoe in the treacherous thick brown mud of a potato field.
At one point I looked up at the sky and actually said, “Those clouds look like they could be in a Constable painting.”
We made it up the slippery hill to the castle, wondering why Vikings would ever have bothered. But if the British hadn’t thought there might be invaders, they might never have erected a castle, and Constable wouldn’t have done a painting, and we wouldn’t have had quite an incredible a honeymoon.
There was a paved road on the other side of the castle. We took that back to Westcliff.

Rock Gods #187: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

It’s been a while since we were at a Bullfinch show so crowded that we couldn’t move.
Us personally, we mean. We usually prepare well.
Sometimes the place is packed but we’ve staked a table spot, so we’re set.
But last Tuesday there were people ON the tables.
Seemed impassable, if not impossible. Yet when we counted up the crowd, the numbers weren’t so staggering. It’s just that the headcount wasn’t as telling a number as the elbow count.
Some bands just take up all the air in the room. The Ephesians is one of those bands. They’ve inspired a dance that’s like a swooping ostrich.
Ephesians fans won’t mosh. They like their choreography flashy, neat, spread out. So instead of sticking to the front of the stage, they go goony-bird all over the room.
We’d like to report that this is spectacular, but mostly it’s bothersome. It’s certainly not why we like The Ephesians. We like the song they do about that splashy painting in the dining hall of the college on the hill, the one that takes up a whole wall. You can see it from out in the street, through those giant doors and picture windows.
The Ephesians, with the same instincts that make some folks HAVE to move booties in pre-arranged ways, make more cerebral folks consider the hues and proportions of that huge modernist canvas.
Fuck dance, let’s art.

A Domestic Conversation at the Bullfinch. This intriguing folk/poetry duo is playing concert halls in some cities, but in this town they insist on only playing the Bullfinch! Very Short Morality Play opens… Piece of Foolishness at Hamilton’s with King Arthur’s Socks… Ibsen Revisited, with the original vocalist Ibsen, at D’ollaire’s…

Listening to…

Voices of Extreme, Break the Silence
Extreme? Really? Like the band Extreme was extreme, perhaps? This is that sweetened, harmonized, well-tuned metal that you might associate with early MTV. There’s even a song called “Made of Stone” and another called “Apocalypse.” Accepted only as lighthearted self-parody, which it ain’t.

Good Light, Irene

Received a press release from the American Lighting Association: “Three Ways to Cut Your Energy Bill.” To lightly gloss its contents:
1. Use compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescents.
2. Use ceiling fans instead of air conditioners.
3. Use lighting controls.

In the spirit of the paranoia greeting the impending Hurricane Irene, here’s a light revision:
1. There’s mercury in them incandescents. Don’t let ‘em smash in the wind.
2. Ceiling fans only work if your ceiling hasn’t blown down.
3. Lighting controls don’t work when the power’s down.

Which is the truest way to cut your energy bill. Have no energy to cut.

Rock Gods #186: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

The Moseses are gathering no moss, rolling through the reeds of the local rawk circuit by turning up in every city park that will have them.
They’re a jam band. That means any festival will welcome them.
Still, the band’s salvation and growing popularity are making some other acts worry. It’s a small scene. Who’s NOT getting those gigs? Who’s still stuck in the swamps?
We know three good bands, for instance, who got closed out of Downtown Hoopla VIII next weekend at the Moose Society. These bands blame The Moseses.
The Moseses take big steps now, grabbing double-length sets and installing their side projects as support acts.
Instead of grumbling, the uninvited acts have formed the Fat Cow Festival, a less civic and more rural gathering out in the fields near The Shaking Quakers’ farm. (No registration required this time; appropriate permits have been given. No alcohol is allowed, but neither is it allowed at the Hoopla.) The Fat Cow faction is even cooking up their own jamhappy supergroup, dubbed Lunar Bull, which is promising to play at least four hours straight.

We’ll see who has the upper hand after this: the entertainers or the organizers. With The Moseses ruling the city fests and Fat Cow over the bridge in the boonies, we imagine a showdown at the river.

Beth L. & Dan at the Bullfinch… Former Latter Former (who really should change their name, but then they’ll be Formerly Former Latter) at Hamilton’s with Sin Cred… Taha 20 at D’ollaire’s with opening act TBA…

Listening to…

Chimaira, The Age of Hell
Hard to get past the title of this one. Do they mean the physical of Hell, as computed by theologians or John Milton or whoever measures the ages of such things? Nope, turns out that, according to the album-opening title tune, “This is the Age of Hell.” If that’s the case, this is worthy multi-styled metal accompaniment to the era, with the obligatory growly vocals but some intriguing, cryptic interludes and impressive guitar work. These seasoned all-purpose headbangers operate at all speeds and blessedly have more impatience than a lot of their listeners are likely to, changing up their songs frequently and holding your interest for ages. Ages of Hell, that is.

Cake Chaos

Mabel engineered this cake. I baked it and Sally helped Mabel frost it.
A flat rectangle foundation with a high (loaf pan) center, studded with cupcake watchtowers. It is an impenetrable fortress of cake. We covered it with candles as a belated birthday cake for Kathleen (on whose actual birthday we had ice cream in New London). When lit, it looked like the sacking of Rome.

Hopefully the image won’t portend hurricane-encumbered Connecticut this weekend.