Appointment #1: Charlene Kaye & Matt Jones @ Caponegro Urological Associates [RECAP]

11 04 2011

urology |yoŏˈräləjē|


the branch of medicine and physiology concerned with the function and disorders of the urinary system.


When I caught wind of this show, a small acoustic set in a quiet little Polish-dominated neighborhood in Queens known as Ridgewood, I had no idea what to expect.  All I knew was that the show featured vegetarian chili, mulled bourbon cider and two of my favorite up-and-coming Michigan-bred singer-songwriters, Charlene Kaye and Matt Jones.  The venue, billed as the Caponegro Urological Associates, gave me nothing beyond a simple wordpress site billing the show to go by, and so my expectations were correspondingly vague.  Was this actually a doctor’s office?  How does the smell of hipsters mingle with that of formaldehyde and ether?  Would they be able to help me with this uncomfortable burning sensation while I was there?

Surprisingly, at first to my chagrin but quickly dissolving into ecstatic jubilation, when we walked in to the Caponegro offices they turned out to be no doctors’ offices at all, but rather the aforementioned converted into a lovely little apartment.  Arriving a little late, we encountered many a 20-something sitting cross-legged on the wooden floor, sipping on cider and enjoying an amplification-less acoustic performance from Charlene.  The walls were adorned with a mixture of Ridgewood history and Michigan imagery, and I suddenly realized that I had walked into a good old-fashioned house show, just the performers, the audience, libations and food.

Upon further investigation, we soon realized that much of the furnishings were left-over from the actual Urology offices; old, white, metal cabinets filled with old-timey, Queens-centric trinkets, black-and-white illustrations of vistas and buildings from days of yore, complete with a couple boxes of unused catheters.  Venturing into the kitchen, Urology and Queens quickly gave way to Michigan-centric adornments: historical maps, license plates, catch phrases (“Ypsilanti, a cool city!”) and the like.  Bubbling on the stove were pots filled with cider and chili, and on the counters lay the whiskey, a growler full of Carlo Rossi sangria, a couple cans of PBR and, the crowning surprise, a beautiful pastel blue and white ice cream cake.  All of a sudden I felt like I was back in the Mitten, hanging out at some friend’s house with other friends listening to more friends’ music.  But all we had to do was hop on the M train!  How fantastic!

Charlene’s performance was a wonderful little slice of beauty.  As she strummed through many songs both old and new, covered and original, Charlene’s angelic voice soared over the small room, through the ears of all the youngsters who managed to find their way here, infecting them all with a sense of peace, love and tranquility that one can only find in such an intimate setting.  At one point, Charlene remarked at how great it is to play shows like this, as compared to the bigger venues that have come along with her rising status in the music world, and I couldn’t agree more.  Accompanying Charlene was the lovely Megan Cox on violin and melodica, effortlessly producing beautiful harmonies and counter-melodies to support Charlene’s songs.  Even though I missed the first part of her performance, hearing Charlene after such a long personal hiatus (How long as it been?  Four years?) in such an intimate setting caused my skin to tingle and my heart to soar.  How wonderful!

After a short break to refill glasses, grab some grub and take advantage of the aptly-labeled “lavatory,” Ypsilanti’s own Matt Jones took the stage, flanked by the amazingly-talented Colette Alexander on cello and the gifted Misty Lyn, providing stunning vocal harmonies.  Off the heels of Charlene’s set, Matt’s performance brought a surprising amount of energy into the room for an acoustic performance, largely thanks to Colette’s highly-emotive chopping motions on her instrument.  After only a couple songs, Matt and his crew got the audience clapping, stomping and humming along.  Maybe the cider and sangria had kicked in, but when shows are this intimate, the energy of the performer and that of the audience basically become one, and Matt’s energy was obviously exciting.  We were getting into it so much that, after a fair but unsatisfying number of songs there came a loud banging on the pipes… apparently the neighbors were not amused.  The decision was made to cut the performance short, but apparently not short enough for the folks upstairs, because as we were leaving the 5-0 had pulled up and were questioning our lovely hosts at Caponegro.  I didn’t stay to see the outcome, but the small party—little more than 20 people were in attendance—was basically over anyways, so I’m sure those cops were lenient enough.

In the end, I was extremely glad to have made the trek up to Ridgewood for this little show.  The chance to catch up with old friends and listen to some heartfelt and sincere music from some seriously talented musicians was enough to satisfy my craving, but the unexpected meeting of fellow Michiganders and the familiar decor on the walls provided an amazing sense of comfort and belonging, and even if it was just for a couple of hours, my longing for the Mitten was gone and I felt like I had come home.  Thank you, Caponegro, I look forward to any more chances you may be able to offer to hang in your humble abode.

Charlene Kaye Official Website
Matt Jones on Myspace


Fleet Foxes- Helplessness Blues (2011)

5 04 2011

Mountainous Folk Giants Fleet Foxes step up to the plate trying to follow their wildly popular and Album of the year accolades by Pitchfork debut can be a crippling task. so what do they do? from the sound of this album, decided to loosen up and jam more on Helplessness Blues. rather than the carefully sculpted folk hymns of last time, the Foxes bust out the instruments and noodle around – resulting in sounding more far-ranging and livelier than before. Evoking images like a bonfire improv session in the woods and the looming nature. Think less Nick Drake (Bad example, I Know – I don’t know enough folkies) and more Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

Do the Songs suffer? Good question. while they do have a great sound on this album and some melodies are marvelous, Helplessness Blues suffers from the good-but-not-great feel of some rather stagnant songs and it doesn’t really offer anything too new from the debut album or the Sun giant EP. I guess I was hoping for something to be a little more ambitious – having a Sound to their songs that equals the gorgeous vocals harmonies and really make their songs swell up and for lack of a better term, “Bloom” I’ll have to listen to this more and maybe it’ll warm up to me – since it took me awhile to be sold on Fleet Foxes in the first place.


What do you think? Comments? Am I Frontin’?

The Squeezebox: PJ Harvery Let England Shake (2011)

24 02 2011

Veteran Singer/Songwriter PJ Harvey Makes a big statement with her newest LP, Let England Shake: a wide-spanning concept album dedicated to her own country and the price of War.  Staunchly British, this album is filled with all sorts of Britishisms.  Shuffling Folk Rock and occasionally dreamy ballads dominate this album; bringing in boozy horns, Jalopy sounds and Peppy Choruses and Chants that turn what could be a drawling, preachy album into something immediate and, at parts, even kind of bouncy and fun, despite the Vivid and often Brutal lyrics.  Her words strike with conviction and sadness about her home country during wartime—A message that while even in the US (of which some of the lyrics express a bit of resentment)  can still be heard and hit close to home. The words might be a little heavy-handed at times, particularly the middle of the album, Which turns Let England Shake into something more impressive and thought-provoking than enjoyable. But I seriously doubt that’s what Ms. Harvey what’s going for to begin with.

86% – Armordillo

The Squeezebox: Tallest Man on Earth- The Wild Hunt (2010)

22 12 2010

By Zan de Parry, contributing writer

You know that feeling when you swallow a gorilla’s handful of tacks but need to speak tenderly to your girlfriend? When you have to make beauty of your throat’s bleeding scratchiness? Neither do I. But I think the Tallest Man on Earth does. His voice goes from punching a hollow mahhole cover to dragging metal cleats across sandpaper. It’s dangerous but exhibits itself comfortably. His melodies are consistent and warily tranquil; they evolve and dance but seem to settle safely in a catchy home. His voice resembles Bob Dylan after parachuting cayenne powder. The Wild Hunt is a truly special album.

And as much as I belabor his voice as the album’s signifier, I’m relinquishing the human ear and mind’s abilities to understand sound if I stop there.  It’s not just his voice but his fingers finding and pulling guitar strings emotionally, his soft muffled foot clomping rhythm behind the pulling, his ecstatic and poignant intonations, his at times beautifully ambiguous diction. The track “Love Is All” exemplifies these qualities. His fingers punctually strengthen and weaken the guitar sounds to support singing of “love [being] all” yet only “from what [he’s] heard”. The song continues in this vein of love’s rules and how they’re broken, undermined, ignored, or pointless. The track is portable in its catchiness and bucolic in its simplicity. It’s a window into the softer items of the album’s guts.

And purdy guts they are, but not completely filled with warmth. His optimism balances well with uncertainty in tracks like “Troubles Will Be Gone” and the title track, or maybe he’s optimistic about uncertainty… Not entirely sure, leading me to advocate the dark adversary of my brown-nosing thus far: what do his lyrics mean sometimes? Are they too ambiguous? He’s Swedish; does this ESL about him make some meanings difficult to adhere to? I study a little French, is “J’étais les premières chaussures de mon coeur” poetic or just haphazardly understood by me and regurgitated?

These are questions to grapple with and, considering I’ve already written enough to probably disengage most visions, for another bacchanalian roundtable.
I don’t believe his foreignness lessens the value of his diction; it’s my brain that decides whether he seems genuine, regardless if he is. But I think he is. And I think his guitar twangs and vibrates with human pulse and reality. When his fingers grace the banjo and piano, the sounds parlay these feelings as well. He has a brilliant rapport with the English language, in my opinion, and stretches images from the mind to the yard. The Tallest Man on Earth, or Kristian Matsson, is unmistakable. The Wild Hunt is a must listen.

When not feeding suckling pigs on his inorganic farm, Zan de Parry wastes his days chasing overweight jezebels through the mishmosh of neighborhood gardens.

Whispers from an Enchantress

13 12 2010

It’s important to me to remember the story behind something. Like the story of my scarf that went on an adventure around a friend’s neck, how I got a broken pair of plastic red handcuffs, and the history of my subway token necklace. Music, although intangible, is no different.
I hadn’t seen an old friend in probably over a year and we got together a month ago to catch up over wine in the dark den of his mom’s house. Of course there was talk of music and as always, I wrote down some musical artists that he was inspired by. This list grew to about ten artists only one of which I’ve researched and instantly felt connected to, a Miss Mariee Sioux. The other nine artists I’ll get to, just after I’m done being captivated by Mariee, which I hope continues for years to come. You know, I think I’m in the throws of a crush.

Faces in the Rocks 2007

This, her first record-label release, instantly invaded my psyche. She has the voice of an enchantress the likes I haven’t heard since Joni Mitchell. Seriously, I’m in-love.  I mean, look at the mystical album cover art. It’s totally something I would fall in-love with.
Although her last name Sioux and distinct use of the Native American flute denote a tie to that culture, from what I’ve researched, she probably wasn’t  eligible for a Native American college scholarship. After hearing this Native American-inspired/folk/Fairy Tale journey I wish more artists would draw upon the sounds of our country’s much-suppressed culture. Her delicate acoustic guitar picking style and breathy vocals always transport me to some mystic foggy netherworld. This post is a plea for Miss Sioux to continue weaving her own stories, at least for this lover of tales.

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