Tag Archive | The Spectre of Modernism

Gail’s 2011 Pop Culture Top Ten List!

Header for Top Ten List in Starburst

Now that we are just a couple of short weeks away from kicking off a spectacular New Year, full of art, music, pink things, bacon and free food, I would like to ask you, Dear Readers, how was your year? I hope it was awesome. As you can see from this Rad Blog you are now reading, I got to do some fun things in 2011, including going on my most fun vacation in many years when my sister and I took a 7 day Caribbean cruise, with three days in New Orleans on the front end. Holy cow, was that ever fun! Such adventuring! Such fine dining! Such ridiculous humidity! I’m still sweating.

What this all means is that it’s time again for the obligatory Year End Top Ten List, so, instead of going with the predictable, rote, yawnfest Top Ten CDs list I’ve decided to do more of a Pop Culture Mixed Bag, if you will. Because that is how I roll. Let’s get started.


Best Album: Manraze, PunkFunkRootsRock. Take guitarist Phil Collen from Def Leppard, team him up with drummer Paul Cook from The Sex Pistols and add Simon Laffy, the bassist from Phil’s former Glam band, Girl (because every power trio needs a bassist), and you’ve got a record that sounds, well, like a raunchier version of Def Leppard! We especially love Phil’s Lemmy impersonation on “Over My Dead Body.” Record of The Year! Read my interview with Paul Cook at This Link.

That’s Me in the Back Row: Third in from the Left

Best Game ShowThe Kostabi Show, where a panel of three Art critics and/or celebrities compete to title the works of modernist painter Mark Kostabi for cash awards, while a jury votes on which title suits the painting best. I had the opportunity to serve as a member of the jury for a taping this past summer and went home with $6 cash more than I had when I arrived, plus a Kostabi coffee table book signed by Mark. Bonus: free pizza! Kostabi, who is an accomplished pianist, also released a swell modern classical CD, The Spectre of Modernism, this year, which has been in heavy rotation on my iPod for ages now.

Dave Depper's Ram Project

Best Beatles Thing: Dave Depper’s Ram Project, an authentically covered version of Paul McCartney’s second solo album complete with off-key Linda-esque backing vocals! So good!

Nick Kent Book Cover

Best Rock Book: Nick Kent’s Apathy For The Devil, a memoir of the British rock critic’s life and career in the 1970s. Everyone knows that all of the best music happened the Seventies , so I will admit that, as both a writer and fan, I certainly would have loved to have lived that life myself, save for the messy heroin addiction part.

Metropolitan Museum Exhibit

Best Fashion-Related Museum Exhibit: Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Four words: Crown of Thorns Headdress. The Savage Beauty Exhibit set all kinds of ridiculous attendance records for the Met and was just insane. Insane!

Chris Connelly CD Cover Art

Best Homage to Eighties Alternative Goth: Chris Connelly’s Artificial Madness. David Bowie Meets Killing Joke plus Bauhaus sautéed lightly with Magazine and a little Ministry on the side. Homage!

Fix The Ministry Movie Poster

Best Rock Documentary: Fix, The Ministry Movie. Kids: Don’t Do Drugs. Or do a lot of them. One or the Other.

Best Seventies Southern Rock: The Sheepdogs, Five Easy Pieces EP. Bonus points to the band for their fan-winning appearance on the most recent season of Project Runway!

Reality TV (Competition): Top Chef, because Celebrity Chefs are the new Rock Stars!

Suckadelic Art Toy Universe

Pop Culture as Art: The Suckadelic Art Toy Universe Retrospective and Pop Up Store at Boo Hooray Gallery (NYC). The judges and critics on the second season of Bravo’s Work Of Art didn’t really dig the SuckLord’s artwork too much, but his parodies of Star Wars toys served up with a serious side of snark made for one of the most subversive, hilarious and memorable art shows of the year! Art!

Honorable Mention: Kasabian’s Velociraptor, MGMT Live at the Guggenheim, The Zombies at City Winery, Single Fare Please Swipe Again at Sloan Fine Art, Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, Jeremy Dower’s Canis Mortuus Familiarus at Bold Hype Gallery, American Horror Story, Maurizio Catellan’s All Retrospective at The Guggenheim, Patti Smith at Webster Hall, The Wyld Olde Souls’ Ensoulment, Jeremy Fish Listen & Learn at Joshua Liner Gallery, Robot Chicken, Tosh.0.

Happy Holidaze and all the best for 2012!

This list previously appeared in a slightly abbreviated form on the East Portland Blog Dot Com.

Recommended Listening: Mark Kostabi’s The Spectre of Modernism

My reputation as the Rock Critic at Large is based pretty much on my passion for and impressive knowledge of Classic Rock, Prog Rock excess and first wave British Punk Rock. When it comes to reviewing music, I like to stick to what I know best, but when it comes to knowing what sounds good, anybody who really gets me is hip to the fact that I go crazy for a wild saxophone, and my love of the classical piano is a deep love, indeed. I recently had a CD of Modern Classical music drop into my lap that ingeniously manages to fit comfortably into the realm of melodic jazz, while also appealing to the “maturing” rock fan dwelling in more of us than you would imagine. Surprisingly, the artist’s name on the disc is that of one of my favorite modern painters!

While he is primarily known as a major talent in the world of contemporary art, Mark Kostabi is also an accomplished musician and a pianist of some serious repute. For his latest CD of original compositions, entitled The Spectre of Modernism, Mark has put together a fantastic band of well-known musicians that includes the legendary Ornette Coleman on saxophone, Richard Hammond on bass, the great Tony Levin on the Chapman Stick, drummers/percussionists Jerry Marotta and Aaron Comess, and Kostabi’s brother Paul – a prominent musician here in NYC – featured on guitar. Mark Kostabi’s mastery of the Steinway piano is featured as a lead instrument on all tracks and he is just a fantastic, creative and versatile player. The CD has been expertly recorded, produced and mixed by Grammy nominated studio whiz Roman Klun, who plays drums in Kostabi’s live band, so you know it all sounds excellent.

What stands out most about this CD is how each song maintains a distinct, individual identity as opposed to featuring eleven tracks that all sound interchangeably similar. While the disc kicks off with the soothing, vibrant “Silence of Spoleto,” the jaunty “West Side Stroll” throws in enough random dissonance (unexpected time changes, etc.) to keep you on your toes as a listener. “Raining in Rome” sneaks in a compelling sci-fi keyboard riff that indicates how much Kostabi really knows about arranging an intriguing piece of music, and “Freedom Tower” just flat out rocks. Spectre of Modernism succeeds with a multi-genre crossover appeal that should resonate with both jazz and classical music fans, while also potentially becoming a cherished “Sunday Morning” favorite for those of us who think it just does not get any better than Led Zeppelin.

You can purchase The Spectre of Modernism as an MP3 download for just $8.99 (what a bargain!) from Amazon.com at This Link.


Mark Kostabi at his Piano