Its almost Thanksgiving. In the spirit of the season, I figured Id model this installment after the quintessential symbol of Thanksgiving. What, pray tell, would that be? Why, a cornucopia, of course! (Cue the cheering vegetarians.) But mine isnt just a regular, five-and-dime cornucopia. Hell no. My giant wicker funnel is brimming with wart-encrusted squash, sinfully deformed gourds, and huge, slightly curved, but very textured, ears of corn. Amidst all the vegetal goods, my cornucopia is also stuffed with sonic candy: Tracy and the Plastics, Erase Errata, and Crowns on 45. Eat your heart out, Martha Stewart.
Tracy and the Plastics and Erase Errata at the Knitting Factory, November 1, 2001
Tracy and the Plastics are the incarnation of electro-punk daydreams. Tracy could be the girl who didn't pay shit attention in any of her classes, but instead stared out the window, plotting a creative revolution. Warhol would've loved her. Tracy, a.k.a. Wynne Greenwood, is the singer/programmer. And the Plastics Nikki and Cola well, they come alive on a movie screen behind her. (Tracy plays the pre-recorded parts of the Plastics.) Tracy sings over rapid-fire beats, and dances like a half-hearted Jazzercise aficionado. Between songs, the hilarious, bizarre dialogue of the, um, band coupled with images of the Plastics staring blankly out at you make you feel gloriously uncomfortable.
It was like having a staring contest and knowing you were going to lose, but you played anyway because it's fun. Tracy and the Plastics' secret weapon is your funny bone. You're laughing at the weirdness, then you realize that you're part of the weirdness, and the music is heightening everybody's excitement. The absurd, banal conversations and pictures of the band run headfirst into throbbing music, and you're caught somewhere in the wreck.
Opening band Erase Errata Jenny Hoysten (vocals, trumpet), Ellie Erickson (bass), Bianca Sparta (drums), and Sara Jaffe (guitar) likes to move. The music on their album, Other Animals, recalls early '90s Riot Grrrls and spasms of modern, experimental thrusts of raw noise (think of a less-jarring Yoko). Erase Errata's onstage performance led me to believe that the band chugged Jolt cola before the show. As she paced the stage, Jenny's hiccuped vocals skidded alongside Sara's screeching guitar; the bass and drums rumbled through the songs, which, by the way, were no more than two and a half minutes apiece.
Occasionally, Jenny whipped out a trumpet, hunched over it, and bleated out some notes. Their set had an improvisational quality, like an impromptu rock show held in your friend's basement surrounded by posters of Devo and Sonic Youth. The four of them paid little mind to the audience in front of them, which is good in a way. There's a freedom in that mindset.
Crowns on 45, Not on the Menu (Heartcore Records)
Though crowded, my cornucopia would not be complete without a mention of the new CD from local band Crowns on 45, titled Not on the Menu (Heartcore Records). Any band that writes a song called "Love Songs (Are for Losers)" is a friend of mine. But it helps to win me over when the song's music mirrors Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and its lyrics mirror my dating history. Nevermind. I love it when songs get right to it, when they begin with the momentum usually reserved for the chorus, and there's more than a few of those on Crowns on 45's Not on the Menu. Heather Hellskiss (vocals, guitar), Greg Griffith (of MGB fame, bass, vocals), drummer Chris Ohnesorge (drums, vocals), and Hillary Johnson (keyboards, theremin, recording) have made a solid debut album by combining the sneer of punk, the tickle of '80s synth pop, and the attitude of downtown New York City. The majority of tracks are a rush of livid punk rock,
with the voices of Hellskiss and Ohnesorge sounding like a sister and brother that'll kick your ass if you mess with them. One of the more powerful tracks is "Walk in the Park," a song about attacks in Central Park. It begins with a sound clip of Mayor Giuliani, and then a recorded interview with a reporter and a victim of an attack. Two of my favorite tracks, "Walking in Squares" and the title cut, are so catchy I find myself humming them in the bathroom at work, a place that doesn't usually foster such acts.
There you have it. My cornucopia in all its glory. For more tasty delights, come on down to CBGB's on November 29, when NYRock.com takes over the place. We can hang out and compare our warty squash. You know you want to.
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More NY Rock Confidential Installments:
by Jeanne Fury:
Oct. '01: Reid Paley
Sept. '01: Ladyfest East
Aug. '01: Betty Blowtorch and Candy Ass
Jul. '01: Porcupine Tree
May '01: Ladyfest East Benefit, the Bellrays and the Greenhornes
Apr. '01: She-Rock-O-Rama, Blast Furnace
Mar. '01: Babe the Blue Ox, the Gossip, Knoxville Girls, White Stripes
Feb. '01: Sarah Dougher, Glen Phillips and John Mayer
Jan. '01: Melissa Ferrick
Dec. '00: Joy Askew
Nov. '00: Natasha and the MGB
Oct. '00: Heather Eatman
Aug. '00: Miracle of '86, Ultimate Fakebook, Sit n' Spin
July '00: Chickfest 2000
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Apr '00: Joan Jett and Reverend Horton Heat
Feb '00: Elvis tribute at the Continental featuring Mr. Monster, Needlehead, X-Possibles
Dec '99: The Serpenteens
Oct '99: Misfits
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Aug '99: Cabaret
July '99: Ancel and the Electric Church
June '99: Tuuli from Toronto rocks CBGB
May '99: The Rise and Fall of Bikini Contest
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03/28/98: No More Tears and Soft Parade
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