Kingston After Dark: Singing the World Anew

Richard Buckner performs at last year's O+ Festival. (Photo by Andrew MacGregor)

Richard Buckner performs at last year’s O+ Festival. (Photo by Andrew MacGregor)

The best music can be a poignant reflection of reality and/or allow for flights of escapism. Some songs or albums are so powerful they create worlds all their own. In The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis, the land of Narnia was literally sung into existence by the great lion Aslan. I’m sure all of you readers out there have experienced a song that can lift your spirits or kindle the imagination. Let me think of a few examples.

“Street Dreams” by the verbose Nas drops you off right in the middle of the hood to this day. The poetic force of “The Partisan” by Leonard Cohen makes you feel like a veteran on the run. The recent victoriously grim album A Frail Becoming by North Carolina’s melodic death and doom metal pioneers Daylight Dies evokes somber chambers of isolation in the mind, inspiring deep meditations on mortality and the distances between us. Imagine if Metallica’s “Orion” was a full record with death metal vocals and you are kind of close.

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A few years ago MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular seemed like it might remake the world. A modern psychedelic hipster pop masterpiece that could still face urban reality once in awhile without coming down hard on a beach of so much optimistic drift wood like much of the ’60s hopefuls did when Manson came calling, that first MGMT record still rules. I could go on and on listing examples of compelling material, but let’s take a look at some shows coming up in our area you can actually attend to be inspired for yourself (and perhaps everyone else in attendance, of course).

April 13, 2013 will see regional resident Richard Buckner perform at BSP Lounge with support from great openers William Tyler and Small Houses. I am so happy I can say Buckner is a regional resident and so glad I was introduced to his music by the love of my life. Buckner is that rare talent, a master of wordplay who excels at spare acoustic portraits or even when venturing into weirder waters. His recent Our Blood on the legendary indie label Merge Records is a gorgeous testament to problem solving and the essence of songwriting.

Founded by members of Superchunk (one of the most perfect power pop bands ever), Merge is a “blue moon” label that pretty much never releases any crap. Buckner is one of their premier talents. His low voice, earnest yet not indulgent manner and the depth to his art is so captivating. It isn’t very easy to resist letting him become your narrator, as his songs arrive to the ear as fully formed stories that feel like the comfort of good, worldly company.

Merge label-mate William Tyler also bears mention, but creates purely instrumental worlds. Impossible Truth, his latest record, completely hypnotized me for a few days. It’s a dreamy and at times sad yet strangely comforting reflection on the American Dream that manages to travel through shadowy places without losing sight of the light on the other side. “Country of Illusion” in particular is like futuristic Americana, a subversive and fresh indie rock take on the decades old dream of “summing it all up” in song. This record gives me the same feeling I get when I read On The Road by Kerouac but feels very much like 2013. Major kudos, William! Namaste.

This show is just the latest in a string of recent huge booking victories for BSP Lounge, who continues to raise the bar for Kingston entertainment. The event is 18 and over and doors are at 8:30. Tickets are $9 in advance and $12 day of show. Yes!

Speaking of making (or unmaking worlds), is it tasteless to say that maybe the police shouldn’t have busted the bath salts dealing head shop a short while back? Cannibal zombies are certainly one way to clean up Midtown. Face-eating would really spice up the night life and I am sure it happened once or twice at The Basement. I asked a friend if it was going too far to include that in my column and she pointed out that it might seem like I am making fun of the mentally ill. I would argue that all of my friends are pretty crazy and I still love them all. Let’s just call it a bad joke instead. We all love “The Walking Dead.” Kingston … it’s group hug time. By the way, my 34th birthday is this week so feel free to donate to my Paypal at mye@rocketmail.com.

On that note, anyone who wants to get out of town for a night could do much worse than attending the upcoming Anberlin show at The Chance in Poughkeepsie. Anberlin is a great rock band who matured through the emo years and are still pretty relevant, but the main attraction to this bill is support from the outstanding Make Do and Mend. Their band name alone is a life philosophy!

William Tyler.

William Tyler.

Make Do and Mend are a Connecticut based post-hardcore band who resonated with me the very first time I heard them. Their gritty songs still have enough heart not to give the cold shoulder to people who want to feel welcomed, but the music still packs serious punch and doesn’t pander. My personal favorite from the band is actually their awe inspiringly great EP of acoustic songs called Part and Parcel, released in 2011 on Paper + Plastick Records. It will make you feel like you’re traveling side by side with the band, appreciating friendship and overcoming the trials a meaningful modern touring band faces amidst a word of throwaway pop culture and social inequality.

Anberlin, Paper Route and Make Do and Mend play Poughkeepsie on Friday, April 12. Doors are at 7 p.m. for this all-ages event and tickets are just under $20.

Until next time, my lovely minions. Sing of the world you want to see. Make it a reality.

There are 2 comments

  1. gberke

    It’s really great, when you publish electronically, to post links to the performers music, right then and there. And even if the links aren’t live, a cut and paste will fix that, so, yeah, you could put the links in your print addition. The very popular and successful venue John Street Jam does that, and I know the links for many musicians like Sean Rowe and Teri Roiger but for groups I haven’t seen, it’s the first thing I’m going to do. It can pay off big especially if the group is really good, like say, Dylan Emmet or Blue Mountain Breakdown.

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