DIY/Lo-Fi

Save Our Wicked Lady

Having lived all over this city and its vicinity for a good number of years (Jersey Cit-tay!) this blog writer finally ended up in the borough of Brooklyn in 2019 and felt a sense of unrestrained joy at being in the middle of a live music mecca and seeing tons of shows at tons of venues. And one of the most special of these venues has been Our Wicked Lady aka OWL.

Ever since the pandemic first hit, OWL done everything right. They’ve sold food and delivered beer and bottles of liquor and sold shirts and other merch and even held an online auction. They've supported their staff and their customers by opening OWL's rooftop bar with safety precautions in place, and supported live music by hosting and livestreaming audience-less shows for anyone to stream, with optional donations, and even made those shows viewable in real time from the rooftop.

But despite their efforts there's one major catch. New York's regulatory laws for bars and nightclubs are famously complex and capricious--even under the best of circumstances--harder to discern and follow than it is to figure out what exactly is going on with Andrew Cuomo’s nipple rings or clamps or piercings or pasties or breast milk pumps under his form fitting polo shirts. So no big surprise then that a worldwide pandemic and the subsequent chaotic and disorganized response has only made things that much more difficult for small business owners, bars and clubs in particular.


Regrettably but understandably, the proprietors of Our Wicked Lady have recently come to the conclusion that they must shut down for the time being, and raise significant funds to continue on in the future. So please, if you can, OWL is a crucial venue to this borough and its inhabitants and its music, and all those who enjoy its music, and they deserve your support if you’re someone who reads this blog and if you have the wherewithal which, sadly and understandably, many don’t. But if you do, you can donate to the Our Wicked Lady go.fund.me HERE or buy sexy OWL merchandise HERE and also read more about the people behind OWL and their plight in a recent Reckless Magazine feature HERE.

And now for the personal testimonial part. Two shows in particular at Our Wicked Lady are extra vivid in my mind at this moment even in my quarantine addled state. The first was a packed rooftop show in late summer 2019 as part of Jonathan Toubin’s Sunday Soul Scream series. It was an interesting bill to say the least with its diametrical extremes between the two featured acts but they worked perfectly together, kind of like one of those McDLT sandwiches. Appearing on stage first was L.A.’s Warm Drag with their cool vibez and programmed beats and textured noise and waves of fuzzed-out psych guitar complete with reverb-laden male-female vocalizing kind of like a darkwave Cramps. 

 

And then next they were followed by the King Khan and BBQ Show which was just straight up god damn rock ‘n’ roll (referencing the Cramps again) something like watching a combination religious tent revival and illicit basement burlesque show led by a man inhabited simultaneously by both Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis but with less sense of restraint than either. (!) Truly it was one of those shows where it feels like the crowd turns into one big amorphous organism all moving and shouting and singing and dancing and jostling together--fully achieving a sense of pure ecstatic rock ‘n’ roll communion that’s sadly lacking in these covidly times. 

The other show that stands out at Our Wicked Lady was one of the last shows I saw period in March 2020, an indoor show that had more of an indoor feel to it--like a private party between friends, and indeed there were many friends and fellow musicians there, but with a vibe where anyone could join in and be comfortable. I won’t go into musical details on this one since there were four acts but I’ll list them off--Kino Kimino (see below), Vanessa Silberman, Catty, and Janet LaBelle--and this was another one of those “something kinda magical happening here” shows.

Thinking back on this Kino Kimino et al. show highlights something that’s only been reinforced by witnessing the recent outpouring of love and concern around the plight of Our Wicked Lady. And that's how OWL in its four or five years of existence seems to have created and sustained an authentic community among its regulars, musicians, and employees (categories that easily overlap) which is not the kind of thing that can be easily replaced or replaced at all. Also, during the four or five months that I’ve been the blogger for this site, it’s become that much more apparent how much OWL is a central hub for Brooklyn’s music scene, and certainly for quite a few of the individual bands I’ve written about, some of which I’ve never even gotten to see live so I have my own selfish motives here.

And finally, for any aspiring filmmakers out there, here a little tip: there’s a Decline of Western Civilization Part IV just waiting to be made at OWL alongside other local venues (I’m sure Penelope Spheeris will license the franchise no problem) (LA is over) (jk) so we just need to get these venues around the last lap of this thing and get some bands up on stage like maybe OWL stalwarts like Ash Jesus and Bipolar and Spite FuXXX (see above) plus some others and this’ll be ready to happen. (Jason Lee)

   

Smushie "Faxing It In"

Smushie has released a new single called "Faxing It In". This is the solo project of Austin Koenigstein of Berta Bigtoe, and this new single is a hazy, laid back nod to Psych Pop.

The single is accompanied by the fun, face paint filled video that Austin co-directed with Jackie Smook.

   

Tim Atlas teams up with honeywhip for syrupy pop single "Peace at Last"

Indie-pop collabs do not get much tastier than ones like “Peace at Last,” a new composition by L.A.’s Tim Atlas that features Tokyo-born, L.A.-based duo, honeywhip, and sounds like a sonic creamsicle melting to the warmth of its groove. Dreamy with trickling keynotes and a treble-heavy bass guitar buzz, the new track celebrates individuality and a new type of quiet. In the song’s jubilant bounce, there is the slick production of Atlas, who crafts a modern pop sound while retaining the edge of DIY; dance away at the intricacies by streaming the new single below. - René Cobar

   

Anna Lunoe debuts flavorful electronic single "Ice Cream"

Taking on various flavors of the electronic genre, Anna Lunoe debuts a sonic swirl titled “Ice Cream” that is as sweet as it is colorful. The new song bops to ‘80s video-game sounds à la Pac-Man and makes use of subtle drops into head-bouncing breakdowns and thumping stretches where Nakamura Minami, who is featured, shows off real influence in the track’s playful theme. The music video for the song is trippy enough to perfectly match the track’s mood and give listeners the complete spoonful that “Ice Cream” aims to deliver. Electronic music continues to uplift during trying times, and Anna Lunoe does it best; stream “Ice Cream” below for a fun flavor of electronic music. - René Cobar

   

Horsegirl "Ballroom Dance Scene"

Three high school friends, Gigi Reece, Nora Cheng, and Penelope Lowenstein, formed Horsegirl last year and this month packaged the three songs they have written, the newest being "Ballroom Dance Scene", into a wonderful new EP. It is that new song that has landed the trio in the spotlight, on NPR and in the Tribune, and when you listen you will hear why.

"Ballroom Dance Scene" is the perfect balance of odd, beautiful, deadpan, and graceful as it builds and swirls like the dance scene it is depicting. It brings to mind the sounds of Nico, Bell & Sebastian, Sebadoh, and Stereolab, and if you check out the girl weekly radio hour you may get a better sense of their vibe.