Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Reptiles, girl-rockers and lawyers in love

Still struggling with internet/computer problems, sorry about yesterday’s AWOL…lots of stuff going up at PopMatters this week, though, a full-length review of NOLA funk-soul-country-Katrina survivors The Iguanas, a shorty on Friggs’ frontwomen Palmyra Delran’s solo EP and a long, overthought meditation on the fourth season of Boston Legal. (TV is one place where I seem to have fairly mainstream taste.)

Okay, so let’s get to it.

The Iguanas

If You Should Ever Fall on Hard Times
(Yep Roc)
US release date: 30 September 2008
UK release date: 13 October 2008

by Jennifer Kelly

Good Times, Bad Times, You Know I've Had My Share

In 2005, as Hurricane Katrina blew through the Gulf Coast, busted through the levies, and stranded New Orleaneans on rooftops and highway underpasses, New Orleans’s Iguanas were in Massachusetts playing a show. That didn’t mean they escaped the damage, though. In fact, even after they had reconnected with family members (no easy thing), the band’s members faced a precarious existence in exile in towns like Houston, Austin, Memphis… anywhere but home. And for a band whose sound is so inextricably linked to the polyglot, multicultural heritage of New Orleans—a mix of funk, soul, jazz, Latin, and zydeco—anywhere else must have seemed particularly lonely.

As a result, you might expect If You Should Ever Fall on Hard Times, the band’s first album since the Hurricane, to be kind of a downer. You would be wrong. This is an album that has its darker moments, certainly. Some of these darker moments—“Okemah” and “Morgan City”—are its clear highlights. But is ultimately irrepressibly, defiantly alive, a survivor who may be a little drunk and a little seedy, but is so very happy to be here.

Read more

You can listen to a stream of the title track here

Or visit the MySpace

Also hella fun, the new Palmyra Delran EP…

Palmyra Delran, She Digs the Ride (Apex East Recording)
Everything that’s old is new again. Case in point: the Friggs, one of Philly’s wildest 1990s girl bands was decidedly only old until earlier this year, when a reissue called Today Is Tomorrow’s Yesterday gave a new lease on life to songs like “Bad Word for a Good Thing”. Now, Friggs’ frontwoman Palymyra Delran is back for more, with the first batch of material she’s written since the 1990s, a septet of crunching, grinding, surf-rocking garage tunes will take you straight back to the girl-powered days of the Muffs, the Fastbacks and Kathleen Hanna. Backed by Scott Treude on guitar and keys, Frank Maglio on bass, Nancy Polstein on drums, and even canine Lulu on occasional vocals, Delran proves that you can mature without softening.

From first thumping of drums and the Dick Dale guitar storm that opens “Love Has Gone Away” through the last Ventures-esque riff and manic puppy arf of “Lulu’s Theme,” Delran pushes the line between classic garage riffs and estrogen-powered rock. A final hidden track, lyrics in pig latin, show her goofy side, but the whole record, even the love-doubting “Baby Should Have Known Better”, is 100% good times. Between chiming guitars, sweet harmonies and rock-raucous drum fills, Delran lets us know why she’s still in the game after all those years and all those grotty clubs. “She digs the ride,” and who wouldn’t?

Her MySpace

The Friggs reunion show in Philly this summer…”Bad Word for a Good Thing”

And, how about that Boston Legal review?

Boston Legal: Season Four
Cast: James Spader, William Shatner, Candice Bergen, John Laroquette, Christian Clemenson, Saffron Burrows, Tara Summers
(Fox, 2004)
US release date: 23 September 2008 (Fox)

by Jennifer Kelley

Dickens was right. The law is an ass.

Every episode of Boston Legal concludes with the same scene. Star attorney Alan Shore (James Spader) and past-his-prime partner Denny Crane (William Shatner) luxuriate in post-prandial comfort on a balcony overlooking Boston, drinking Scotch, smoking cigars and talking. In a show that spends much of its time in way-over-the-top-ville, these intimate scenes are strikingly real.

The two discuss their cases, their lives, their politics and their histories with wonderful sympathy and understatement. It is not unusual for Crane to come right out and say, “I love you” to Shore, nor for the romantically-inept Shore to observe that, even without love or family, at least the two of them have each other.

In every episode (even the opener where Shore performs this scene in full-drag as a Lennon sister), these scenes are essential, grounding and humane. Without them, Boston Legal could easily devolve into a sit com.

Gotta have more?

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