Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Live + On Record: Peter Murphy, Cielo Oceano, UN.REAL, Excellent Skeleton

Once again a significant live happening closing out January serves as the opening salvo for February's DaveCromwellWrites extravaganza. An opportunity to catch one of our (newly re-energized) living legends (recovered from health issues) should never be missed, if at all possible. As far too many of our most influential musical heroes move on to the other side with unsettling frequency these days, a finite amount of chances remain to celebrate their work with them. Newer, still-emerging artists creating work that fascinates find their way into this month's feature as well.

Goth/Glam-rock legend Peter Murphy returned to New York City for a week-long residency of make-up shows at the East Village venue Le Poisson Rouge.

The air was charged with an additional level of excitement and sense of gratitude being able to witness these performances after Peter's heart attack scare from last August (when these shows were initially scheduled).

On this night of January 23, 2020, Peter and his band played the first night of his Tribute to David Bowie.

That excellent rock and roll band included “the two Mark(c)'s” that accompanied him on his extensive 93 shows “The Ruby Tour: 40 Years of Bauhaus”(many with David J on bass) Mark Gemini Thwaite (Guitar), Marc Slutsky (Drums), this time with Emilio Zef China (Bass/Violin).

The original plan was for Peter to do a month long residency in August that would mirror a similar completed series of shows in San Francisco.

Completing all but the final (and penultimate) four shows in that late summer month, these latest shows represented the fulfillment of that commitment once recuperated.

An additional member was included with the band this time around, adding a richness to the sound with keyboards and acoustic guitar.

The venue (Le) Poisson Rouge first opened in it's present configuration in the spring of 2008, founded by former classical music students David Handler and Justin Kantor.

-  -  -

However this 158-160 Bleecker Street location (as one might suspect) has a rich historical backstory to it.

Located at the corner of Thompson and Bleecker Streets in Greenwich Village, the club was originally opened in 1958 by Art D'Lugoff calling the space “The Village Gate.”

-  -  -

Much like the current venue, it's primary performance space is both the ground floor and basement. The original 1896 structure known at the time as Mills House No. 1 served as a flophouse for transient men.
-  -  -

In its heyday, the Village Gate also included an upper-story performance space, known as the Top of the Gate.

-  -  -

Throughout its 38 years, the Village Gate featured such musicians as John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, Duke Ellington, Jimi Hendrix, Dizzy Gillespie, Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey, Woody Shaw, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, The Velvet Underground, Edgard Varèse and numerous others.

-  -  -
-  -  -

Founder Art D'Lugoff  opened The Village Gate in 1958 and remained at the Bleecker and Thompson street location until it ultimately closed in 1996.

That rich history continues through to this day, with the current iteration having celebrated 10 years (and still going strong) in 2018.

Returning to the present (though ironically a show presented by a now historical goth-rock figure presenting the catalog from one of their musical influences referencing an even earlier period), Peter Murphy and his band delighted the audience with one classic Bowie song after the next.

-  -  -

Opening the show with “Suffragette City” (from his star making breakthrough 5th album, 1972's “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”) immediately drove an already anticipating crowds intensity level right to “10.”

What's immediately noticeable is how comfortable Peter is with re-interpreting Bowie's voice. Multiple sources have stated there is probably no one else better suited to pay tribute to “the thin white duke” than the physically and artistically similar Mr. Murphy.

Moving next to the classic “Queen Bitch” (from his 4th studio album and 1st for RCA, 1971's “Hunky Dory”) Peter's rendition delivered the necessary level of camp called for, while drummer Marc Slutsky laid down an essential rock solid beat (which he would proceed to do all night).

Jumping ahead to the furthest recording he would go – the eighth studio album, 1974's "Diamond Dogs" and a rousing, sing-a-long (but they pretty much all were) “Rebel Rebel.”

Fun Fact: Bowie originally intended to merge the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell with his own glam-rock vision of a post-apocalyptic world. Initially wanted to make a theatrical production of Orwell's book, however the author's estate denied the rights. This explains why the Nineteen Eighty-Four theme was so noticeable throughout (especially on the second side).

Dipping back to sixth studio album (and first Bowie wrote and released after breaking through and becoming a star), 1973's "Alladin Sane" and a rousing version of "The Jean Genie."

Having been written and recorded during Bowie's first US tour in 1972, he described this first single from the album as "a smorgasbord of imagined Americana."  However, the song title is a pun on the name of French existentialist Jean Genet.

Returning to the Ziggy album, a near perfect rendition of "Moonage Daydream" was presented - of which can be gloriously re-experienced in the video below:

"All The Young Dudes" and "Starman" sing-along's followed that, with clip captures of those (and clips of every song up to that point)  accessible here.

Going once again to the Ziggy album (which would be the most referenced record of the set) an impassioned, intimate version of "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" was played, with the below video representation capturing it perfectly:

Touching hands with an adoring audience, Peter and the band headed off for a quick pre-encore break.

Returning to the stage once more, the band launched into the song most everyone anticipated:  "Ziggy Stardust."   After all, Peter and his early 80's band Bauhaus (now doing big time reunion shows again) did a memorable cover of it in 1982.  For comparison's sake a rare live version of Bowie and his band turned up a few years ago showing how they played it live a full decade earlier in 1972.

Here's how it looked an sounded by Peter and the boys at this current show:

More Fun Facts:  The inspiration for Bowie's Ziggy character was originally based on leather clad rocker Vince Taylor who took too much LSD and went temporarily insane. Bowie once bumped into him outside a London tube station and Vince pulled out a map to show David where the spiders from Mars would land.

The final song of the night was truly inspired version of "Space Oddity" with Peter performing the entire lengthy, extremely moody piece lying on his back on the stage.  It made for a surreal experience and a fitting end to the nights performance.

-  -  -
-  -  -

A superior quality rock and roll band.

Psychedelic "Blue Man Group" Friends In Attendance.

And catching a moment with the popular iconic image on bass drum head.

Special mention to guitarist Mark Gemini Thwaite who not only handles all the lead guitar work with Peter like a pros pro, but has been doing for quite some time with other legendary bands like The Mission UK, The Wonder Stuff, Gary Numan and others.

Opening the show was New Orleans Drag Performance Art singer Vinsantos.  Previous work with David J (also a founding member of Bauhaus) and support on last year's “The Ruby Tour: 40 Years of Bauhaus” extended onto these shows.

The expected flamboyant performance of this artist gains credibility via introspective lyrics and playing their own keyboards.  Making yourself available to meet the audience afterwards is always a winning move.

*  *  *  *  *

The seemingly boundless energy of Philadelphia-based creative force Tom Lugo re-emerges once more with the debut album from new collaborative project Cielo Oceano titled “The Space Has Always Reduced Me To Silence.” Partnering with like-minded guitarist and programmer Andres Lugo, astral atmospherics are blended together via keyboard and guitar textures while pulsing bass-lines and crisp piercing percussion provide sensory motion underneath.

With opening track “Hard to Breathe” clocking in at 6 minutes in length, there's plenty of room for beat-less spacial exploration. “Moth To A Flame” ambles along on floating waves that create an impression of unattainable longing. Deeper percussive elements and throbbing bass emerge on the title track where vocals are presented in that style William Reid used on those early Jesus and Mary Chain recordings. Over 7 and a half minutes of “Nada mas que decir” melds those droll JAMC vocals with the early drum machine sounds that seminal band admittedly nicked from bands like Suicide. Lugo + Lugo masterfully capture the vibe running through so much of “Barbed Wire Kisses” on this one.

Seasons”is a 4 minute atmospheric interlude that suggests the ambient work Brian Eno has spent his entire post-pop career exploring. “The possibility of only one answer” introduces a level of menace for the first time, conjuring up early Sisters Of Mercy vibes. “Woven” adds subtle effects to carefully enunciated vocals as a steady bass-line and guitar washes all contribute to an air of mystery. Clocking in as the longest track on the album, the nearly 8 minute “Distant Memories” place emphasis on deliberate vocal phrasing with introspective ambient interludes in-between. A bonus track of an earlier single release “Emptiness” is included, coming full circle with it's Jim Reid-like slow drawl vocalizing.

Find out more about Cielo Oceano (including how to acquire this record) here.

Previous features on this site that include Tom and/or his music can be found here, here, here and here.

For more information on Tom's entire Patetico Recordings music catalog, go here.

*  *  *  *  *

There is an unmistakable floating quality to the new release ”Lovely one / Islands” by Puerto Rican gazey/dreampop ensemble Un.Real. While a distinct four chord melody is clearly audible (although passed through rather slowly) the sheering textural quality to those synth and guitar driven sounds emanates from mysterious places of wonder. Bass and drums soon enter the mix and the wall of atmospherics is then layered with additional soaring melody lines. Musicians Gardy Perez-Ruiz (guitars, synths) Hector Caolo (bass) and Eden Cruz (drums) are the trio responsible for much of these sonic forays. The final element arrives via sweet and gentle female vocals from Bernice Cruz (who also contributes synths), providing a next level of reverential beauty. There are certainly reasonable Cocteau Twins parallels here, not only via Robin Guthrie-like guitars and Liz Frazer vocal similarities, but even a distinctive Simon Raymonde-esque bass-guitar hook. A rising, hammering riff emerges at the two and a half minute mark lifting the entire proceedings to celestial heights. Three minutes of gentle guitar picking and soft synths create a sense of sitting by calm waters to close everything out here.

A previous feature on this site covering the music of these 3 Robots Records artists can be found here.

*  *  *  *  *

Heavy psych-n'-gaze-rock is well represented on the latest track from Cardiff, Wales UK's Excellent Skeleton. At nearly 10 minutes in length, “Stop Waking The Sun” serves up epic proportions unleashed with unabashed sonic cataclysm.

Opening with a :45 second repeated title line vocal intro that soon floats behind guitar progression figures, the band kicks in with a heavy stoner rock groove. Everything from 60's psychedelia up through J Mascis-level doom-riffs permeates through a heavy fog atmosphere. With all that, there are elements of that Manc-Manchester feel on the verses, with it's long vowel vocal phrasing. At four minutes in, a momentary guitar chord driven ambient interlude sets up the big vocal hook that follows.

Sometimes I can feel – the sun washing through your face. Sometimes I can feel the death of the human race.”

The drums slash hard with dynamic cymbal crashes and the bass and guitar double down with that timeless drop-d groove that appeals to lovers of hard rock far and wide. At 7 minutes in a cosmic bubbling sonic element takes over, driving momentum upward to the stratosphere. As the dominant progression continues to unfold with bold guitar chords, throbbing bass and stomp-down drums, the rhythm section ultimately drops out for a final minute of pure aural mayhem.

Check out the sonic journey this track provides on the band's Soundcloud page here.

*  *  *  *  *

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Early 2020: Live Shows at The Bitter End, Rockwood Music Hall, plus New Recorded Music

The emergence of a new year frequently provides opportunities to branch out in search of fresh ideas or previously untapped resources. Artists who have established an awareness level of their work now receive a closer look, experiencing both recent live shows as well as current featured recordings. Emerging from that comes an occasion to look back into previous decades history and influence. Additionally, new tracks only recently released are featured here, allowing the first month of 2020 to reflect on a rich and storied past against the most current endeavors.

Kira Metcalf is a Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter whose been crafting a uniquely introspective lyrical style of music since her early teenage years.

Catching Kira's short-notice, folky solo performance live show at Rockwood Music Hall on January 5th showed an artist making the most of her time in the spotlight.

While the bulk of her material lyrically explores the emotional aftermath of loss and heartbreak, there is an uplifting quality to her melodies and lively delivery, preventing everything from becoming too morose.

Her latest single release “Cheap Kind” came out this past summer and continues to serve as fully produced introduction to her musical world.

The song sits equally well in a single voice and acoustic guitar atmosphere of Rockwood's solo show setting, with the official recordings fuller band and bigger vocal production providing additional creative insight.

Initially ruminating on the loss of an earring against a single chugging electric guitar, the full band crunches in on signature line “this is why you always buy the cheap kind” giving the track a rougher 90's Nirvana-esque grungy feel.

While the drums clack like Dave Grohl-on-Butch-Vig's-production (and wonderboy mix-masterer Chris Krasnow might have something to do with that) and guitars chug hard, Kira's voice remains the dominant element throughout.

Through the course of a single vocal line segment “this is why I'm scared to try, afraid I'm only going to lose” the singer displays a wide range and impressive variety of inflections.

Hard-edged guitar riffs are given space between the lyrics, maintaining an underlying Seattle-grunge vibe.

There's a serpentine element in the way lyrics like “this is why you ought to stay a stranger – feign allure then slink away to waste before you get into trouble” are set against first rising atmospherics, then driven by throbbing bass guitar.

A tasty angular lead guitar interlude keeps the 90's Flannel vibe alive, until Kira comes back with one more initially quiet verse, creating metaphor on the difficulties of keeping things together.

Listen to the track "Cheap Kind" on Spotify, which can be easily accessed via her Official Website.

Kira holds the distinction of being the first Deli Local Artist of the Month for 2020.

Be sure to catch her during the Winter Madness Tournament at Our Wicked Lady.

*  *  *  *  *
The internet age we currently live in is a wonderful place to make contact with people and become “virtual friends” with them. Those e-relationships can go on for many years (even a decade) without actually ever coming face-to-face. So it's always cool to eventually meet up with someone you've been cyber-interacting with for years.

That is precisely what occurred when musician and long-time e-friend Bill Dwyer came down from the more northern city of Boston to play New York's venerable nightclub The Bitter End on Sunday, January 5th.

Interacting on Social Media in all the casual, everyday usual ways, Bill's music had already made it's way onto the DaveCromwellWrites reviews two years ago in January, 2018.

At that time there was a distinctly folky element in the bright chiming twelve-string acoustic guitar backed returning-home road song.

This night, however saw Bill supported by his trio with Alex Casanova on bass guitar and Rich Stannard on drums added to his now electric guitar.

Similarly, his full-band presentation on single “South Caroline” takes his previously established 'Americana' approach and enhances the storytelling with more complex instrumentation.

“I'm leavin' – I'm leavin' this time – to South Caroline,” Bill states against strong opening piano notes. “Long way down the rails South Caroline.” There's a subtle gospel feel to it all, before the rest of the band joins in, pulling everything closer to an Allman Brothers Band vibe. A chorus of female backing vocalist bring the gospel back in a heavy way, with “woooo wooooo's” abounding. While Bill vocally emotes and churns away on his rhythm guitar, a Les Paul armed guitar-gun-slinger rips tasty licks in front of Marshall stacks.

Check it out here:

Bill and the band rolled out a brand new song "And There You Are" on this night, dedicating it to his girlfriend Holly back in Boston.

Initially building off a descending open note riff and full chord punctuation, the tune settles into an easy groove rock n' roll stroll. “And there you are – just like a star,” Bill sings in a raspy folk-blues manner. With a steady, precision drum pattern keeping things tight, the bass guitar walks that progression out behind Bills clean-strummed guitar. Returning to the opening 4 bar descending riff, Bill and the band chug through that good-vibe progression one more time.

Check out that just released video here:

The venue Bill and his band played on this night deserves it's own special focus, as The Bitter End is New York's longest running rock club.  Established in 1961, it has been going now for 59 years with no end in sight.

Original owner Fred Weintraub opened it as a showcase venue for emerging folk music and comedy acts.  Bringing in manager and talent booker Paul Colby early on (becoming the clubs full-time manager in 1968), Colby would eventually become the owner and name most associated with it's six decade existence.

Immortalized on the walls above the bar and throughout are a number of notable performers from both the comedy and music world.  Woody Allen, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan being some of the most recognizable.  That early first decade of the clubs existence catered to stand up comedians and folk musicians under Weintraub, until he turned over operations and ownership to Colby, to pursue a career producing movies.

On the opposite walls are glass encased photographs displaying highlights from some of the most influential moments in the clubs early history.

The above photos serve as a late 1960's, early 1970's history lesson.

This classic shot of a very young Bob Dylan performing there is impressive on a number of levels.

Paul Colby looking dapper as the Every Brothers perform up against that famed brick wall.

More glass-encased goodness shows a signed George Carlin headshot, as well as quintessential Patti Smith and Bob Dylan photo together.

Which rightfully shares a place of prominence on the cover of Paul Colby's 2002 book, The Bitter End: Hanging Out at America's Nightclub (also framed and under glass on the wall).

Since the publication of that book, other notable events occurring there include none other than the notorious Stefani Germanotta's early days (as a 19 year old in 2005), and then coming back triumphantly as Lady Gaga in October of 2016.

There probably isn't a more iconic venue in all of New York City than The Bitter End

With the city awarding it landmark status in 1992.

The perfect setting to meet up with and listen to one more in a long-line of working musicians who continue on in that spirit of live performing.

*  *  *  *  * 

SINthetik Messiah is an electro/industrial bass artist from Louisiana who recently put out a Name Your Own Price benefit compilation to generate funds for disabled veterans.  All the proceeds of funds committed to this digital album will go to DAV - Disabled American Veterans: a leading non-profit organization that provides a lifetime of support for veterans of all generations and their families.

DAV is a wonderful organization dedicated to helping the most deserving and neediest people out there.  They help subsidize veterans' needs in temporary housing, work programs, employment assistance, utilities support, transportation to appointments, hospitals and therapy sessions, and supportive assistance in dealing with substance abuse and rehabilitation issues.

SINthetik Messiah is the working "band name" for the equally mysteriously named sound designer Bug Gigabyte.  Based out of the bayous of Louisiana, he is the main composer, producer and engineer for all of these recordings.

“I would like to thank all our Military Veterans. Our country and/or government hasn’t done enough for you in return. I'm simply just want to raise awareness of that. My love and respect goes out to the ones who protect our lives for the greater good.To my international fans, when your brother,sister,mother or dad serves for their country and they come back to you, be there for them, help them heal, help them get back to a normal life.” - Bug Gigabyte (SINthetik Messiah)

The compilation consists of early demos and remixes of material the artist has been working on. Opening track “A Bitter End” is a somber acoustic guitar and vocal only rumination. Follow-up track “Make You Cry” adds piano notes, electronic percussion and Gregorian Chant backing vocal chorus for more passionate upfront vocals to be layered over. The collection fully hits it's stride with the driving Industrial Bass cut “Survive.” Dipping into rhythmic elements and similar pacing as Nine Inch NailsReptile,” a more orchestral sound emerges with the synths approximating flutes and violins. 15 tracks in all, a number of variations in electronic music styles include Dark Electronic Pop (“Sex and Violence”), Electronica (“Can You Feel” - with vocal enhancements in the Tobacco/Black Moth Super Rainbow mold), Experimental Dubstep (“A Better Tomorrow”) as well as Dance subgenres Hiphop, Trap, Witch and Breakcore.

Get the album here and go on a fascinating sonic journey while contributing to the worthiest cause.

*  *  *  *  *

Coming out of the gate with a vengeance in 2020 are new found DaveCromwellWrites faves The Carvels NYC. Catching their live show and recent recorded music back in May of 2019, an instant kinship was felt with (and for) the the bands mastery of classic-era downtown NYC original roots rock and roll sound.

An initial review of that live show (and recordings) found it's way into This Feature, which ultimately garnered the band inclusion in this sites annual end of the year Best Of wrap up as well. Meanwhile, the band has subsequently signed on with Die Laughing Records and is preparing to release a new 3-song 7-inch vinyl EPLate Night Heart” this Valentines Day.

The song and accompanying video combines an upbeat, chugging track with the band members playing in front of Top Cat junk yard cartoon images. Telling a tale of surviving younger days in the city, frontwoman Lynne Von Pang's lyrics couldn't ring more true. Blessed with a powerful, appealing voice, clever lyrical turns like “when you're born in hell you can't fall from grace” and “nothing lasts forever but you never were together so, you can't fall apart” show an intelligent approach to this good time rock and roll.

Check out this super fun video here:

The Carvels NYC have a show this Saturday, January 25 at Otto's Shrunken Head in New York City's East Village at 10 pm with no cover charge.

With a tour of Southern California soon to follow.

To connect, email:

For full credits, thanks and more information please go to

*  *  *  *  *
Another band making it's initial appearance on this site over the past year were the Birmingham, UK based glam-rockers TREMENDOUS.

Being duly impressed with their single release at that time (the catchy earworm "Copycat Killer") also earned them inclusion with a Best Of 2019 distinction.  With their debut album "Relentless" due out in early 2020, the band is now offering a new unplugged version of their first (2018) single release "Like Dreamers Do." 

This acoustic guitar only accompaniment eases the pace somewhat from the original full band version, breathing an intimacy in it's reading, while still maintaining vocal intensity. Subtle lyrical shifts are apparent this time through. Opening lines now focus more on the individual than the couple. It's now “she stares outside that window pane into space” rather than “we stare outside this lonely place, into space.” However, the pleasurable payoff is still a wonderfully brilliant chorus “She (or We) dream(s) of a million things to do. As she (or we) stare outside and dream like dreamers do.” Additional highlights emerge with lines like “smoky surface disguise life – taking place” (where the emphasis on those last two words exhibit a rich and powerfully passionate voice). An interesting descending guitar figure creates a subtle change towards the end, emphasizing a true songwriters touch on this compact two and a half minute song.

Listen here:

The band is offering this acoustic version as a free download, and can be had by sending an email to: likedreamersdomp3@gmail

Keep up with TREMENDOUS on all their social media outlets here: 

*  *  *  *  *