The Legacy of Damage

Wyoming
Directed by Danya Taymor, Written by Brian Watkins
Theater for the New City
155 First Avenue, New York, NY 10003
January 15 - 31, 2015

Spaces on the set of Brian Watkins's new play, Wyoming, are defined almost exclusively by tables -- bar tables, diner tables, kitchen tables, locations that often forge and sometimes force connections between people. Tables are just part of a range of everyday objects, including a locked box, a child's headphones, and a slide projector, that take on symbolic resonance in this meditation on time, choice, secrecy, and -- or perhaps through the lens of -- family. Wyoming, set primarily in the mid-'90s, centers on a Thanksgiving dinner during which the past of the particular family in question becomes unavoidable in various ways and for various, interwoven reasons. This breaking both of bread and of silences is directed by Danya Taymor, niece of the iconic Julie, and features original music from Robin Pecknold, of indie-folk powerhouse Fleet Foxes, and Neal Morgan that appropriately evokes a kind of windswept melancholy. Read more »

Music and Sex #3 - in which our hero's long musical weekend continues, etc.

Music and Sex: Scenes from a life - A novel in progress by Roman AkLeff (first installment can be read here; second here (the last paragraph of which was moved into this part).

After the show, Walter took Norman to the West End, where Norman marveled at the broad beer selection. As they slowly worked their way through a small percentage of the fifty-plus on offer, Walter lamented how inferior college was making him feel.

"Screw that," rejoined Norman. "Just have fun and keep learning and next year's freshmen will feel inferior to you. If you already knew everything, you wouldn't have to go to college in the first place. Don't tell me about that, tell me about all the cool stuff you've been doing."

"Well, during orientation there was a great band playing outside for free called So What. I know you're not that into fusion, but they were hot. The guitarist, Steve Bargonetti, graduated last year, but some of them are still going here. The drummer, at least, Steve Shebar, is." Read more »

Song of the Week: The Charlatans - "Come Home Baby"

The baggy rock grooves of The Charlatans are back! Tim Burgess and the lads have released one wicked new album Modern Nature. Here's their outstanding new single "Come Home Baby" for your weekend tuneage. 

Appropriate Behavior: "Bi"-Polar Sexcapades in Brooklyn

If Woody Allen were a tall Iranian bisexual woman with a gawky Sandra-Bullockish beauty and an exasperating, egocentric outlook on the world, Appropriate Behavior would have been his Annie Hall.

"Banal sex shouldn't happen until maybe a year into the relationship.... She wasn't even fucking you at the end," advises a best friend at the beginning of Appropriate Behavior, the indie film directed and written by the Iranian-American Desiree AkhavanRead more »

A Comeback Continues, a Career Ascends

Maxim Vengerov/New York Philharmonic/Long Yu
Avery Fisher Hall, January 22, 2015

This week, Chinese conductor Long Yu is leading the New York Philharmonic in subscription concerts for the first time (his previous appearances at the orchestra's helm were non-subscription Lunar New Year celebrations). Meanwhile, Maxim Vengerov, once the most spectacular violinist on the scene, continues his comeback from an injury. Thursday night their paths intersected at Avery Fisher Hall in a Russian program that indicated each is on the right path. Read more »

That's Illogical, Captain: Why Star Trek: Into Darkness Screws Everything Up

Forgive me. I am always quite late to feature films, since I refuse to pay $15 to watch 20 minutes worth of ads, and then (all too often) deal with annoying people during the film, often missing important dialogue. So I wait until most films are on cable before I see them. Read more »

The Black Crowes Have Flown The Coop!

The Black Crowes have broken up. Too bad, too. Looks like the riff between vocalist Chris Robinson and his guitar playing brother Rich Robinson has shaken some feathers from the Crowes' roost. Apparently Chris wanted a greater stake in the ownership of the band. Brother Rich had this to say: "I love my brother and respect his talent, but his present demand that I must give up my equal share of the band and that our drummer for 28 years and original partner, Steve Gorman, relinquish 100 percent of his share, reducing him to a salaried employee, is not something I could agree to." Shades of the Rolling Stones "hired gun" practices or a calculated tactic to afford them one final tour in the very near future? Either way, any upcoming Spring/Summer 2015 tours will be missed. In the interim, we've posted this wonderful concert from 2013.

Song of the Week: First Aid Kit - "Master Pretender"

One of our favorite Americana acts, Swedish duo First Aid Kit has just released an animated video for their song "Master Pretender" from their album Stay Gold.

Tangled Up in Blue

A Tangled Web: D. Dominick Lombardi, Curator
Causey Contemporary
Through January 29, 2015

The group show is one of those things that can either be done well or becomes an exhibition overwhelmed by variety -- or worse, a clutter of objects that don’t relate to each other without the benefit of lengthy wall texts. D. Dominick Lombardi, a veteran New York curator, has managed to pull together a visually interesting exhibition at Causey Contemporary, which was based on the simple premise of pairing the artists represented by the gallery with an outside artist of Lombardi’s choosing whom he felt complemented the work. What results is a show that is short on theory and long on visuality. He has turned the exhibit into a kind of dance, with one wondering (without looking at the cheat sheet) which artists are waltzing with each other. Read more »

Little Q & A: Allison Burnett + Dusty Wright

Allison Burnett is a rarity in Hollywood. He is not just a successful Hollywood screenwriter, a respected novelist, and a published critic and poet, but also a film director. His new film, Ask Me Anything, which he wrote and directed based on his own novel Undiscovered Gyrl, was released two weeks ago in selected theaters and on all digital platforms. It stars Martin Sheen, Christian Slater, Justin Long, and, in the lead role, luminous newcomer Britt Robertson. Recently I sat down with Allison in his Los Angeles home to discuss the challenges of indie filmmaking in general, as well as the difficulties with his leading lady that has caught the attention of the national media. Read more »

The Wild Feathers One-Take - "Wine & Vinegar"

From Nashville, the American rock quintet The Wild Feathers' unplugged rendition of "Wine & Vinegar". One-Takes are live performances by artists you know, should know, or will know soon enough.

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Music and Sex #2 - in which our hero is taken down a peg but his weekend is saved by rock 'n' roll

Music and Sex: Scenes from a life - A novel in progress by Roman AkLeff (previous installment can be read here)

Walter's biggest adjustment to college life was realizing that he wasn't the hot-shit intellectual he'd thought he was. In high school he hadn't been the smartest guy, but he'd felt like he was up there in at least the top five percent. Here he felt like an idiot at times. Senior year in high school he'd officially been the best player on the chess team, and moreover, first board on the first-place team in their league that year. At Columbia, he lost 24 consecutive speed games to one guy and never managed better than a draw with anybody in the chess club before, feeling frustrated and embarrassed, he stopped attending meetings. Read more »

Little Q+A: Nicola Tyson + Bradley Rubenstein

Nicola Tyson was born in 1960 in London, England. She attended Chelsea School of Art, St. Martins School of Art, and Central/St. Martins School of Art in London. She currently lives and works in New York.

Primarily known as a painter, Tyson also works with photography, film, performance, and the written word. Tyson's photographs document the early days of the Blitz Kids and the beginnings of the New Romantic movement -- late Seventies, post-Punk London. Bowie Nights at Billy's Club was a weekly event in a small Soho venue, the brainchild of a young Steve Strange and Rusty Egan. The event quickly became the beating heart of a brand-new scene -- a refuge for disillusioned punks; suburban art school students; androgynous, subversive, creative kids; and (most importantly) Bowie fans, all competing for conspicuousness. Among them were the future stars of Eighties synth-pop: Boy George, Marilyn, Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran, and a plethora of culture-defining individuals across fashion, film, and art. Bradley Rubenstein talks with Tyson about her paintings, her photography, and her recent forays into sculpture. Read more »

Best New Jazz Album of 2014

Because explaining the glories of a project like this requires a length unsuited for a listicle, my favorite jazz album of 2014 gets an article all to itself. The rest of my list will follow later this week.

Allen Lowe: Mulatto Radio: Field Recordings 1-4 or: A Jew at Large in the Minstrel Diaspora (Constant Sorrow)

Allen Lowe has (at least) a double identity: jazz composer/saxophonist, and scholar of early American jazz and pop. This four-CD set combines those identities even more than usual as it contains a whopping 62 original compositions, many -- perhaps even most; I didn't do the math, but it feels that way -- inspired by the sounds and personalities of early jazz and pre-jazz (both kinds of ragtime, etc.), as detailed vividly in his accompanying notes: Bunk Johnson (we get many movements from a Bunk Johnson Suite), Bix Beiderbecke, Paul Whiteman, Ernest Hogan, James Reese Europe, Jelly Roll Morton, Buddy Bolden, and a few more obscure figures. Later jazz legends are also cited as inspiration for some specific tracks, repeatedly Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, but also Lennie Tristano, Al Haig, Edgard Varese, Henry Mancini, Ran Blake, George Gershwin, gospel pianist Arizona Dranes, Zora Neale Hurston, Anthony Braxton, B-movie actress Barbara Payne, Jaki Byard, and Duke Ellington. Read more »

Steve's Favorite New Rock, R&B, and Electronic Albums of 2014

The mainstream drew me back in a little this year, though mostly by looking back several decades to the same things I love and incorporating them into music that doesn't especially sound like 2014.

1. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra: Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything (Constellation)

I think of Silver Mt. Zion as the post-rock Pogues. They have the drunken singing and the scratchy fiddling and the punky energy, but in a sort of gritty yet sophisticated Godspeed! You Black Emperor musical context (and in fact founder/singer/guitarist Efrim Manuel Menuck used to be in Godspeed!). On their eighth album, the added intensity that appeared on their previous album is increased; this may be their best yet. My favorite track is "What We Loved Was Not Enough," where at first it seems like he's singing "The days come when we no longer fail," but then when the women chime in with the same line minus his accent, it turns out "fail" is actually "feel"; across over 11 minutes, this becomes mantra-like. But really the whole album is stunning. (This review originally appeared in the print version of The Big Takeover.) Read more »

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