Author Archives: Christopher Arnott

Orbit Gallery back in orbit

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A wall from the 2012 Orbit Art Gallery, in a Court Street storefront. The uncurated, open-minded art displays returns this year, at the corner of Chapel and Howe streets.

Ideat Village ended in 2012, but not really. Over the years, the homegrown New Haven alt-culture explosion developed several popular components which have outlasted the full-blown multifarious festival itself. There was the ingenious activity, for instance, where local musicians were teamed up in ad hoc bands that competed against each other to write songs and play live; that exercise has persisted annually at Café Nine.

Now the Orbit Art Gallery is back. Continue reading

Catch That Block!

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Catch and Release
By Lawrence Block (Hard Case Crime 2014)
Hard Case Crime are alchemists of crime fiction, not just locating and reprinting great works by some of the best writers in that blood soaked genre, but adding scholarly notes and alluring retro packaging that often beats the cover design of the original editions. Continue reading

Kindle First

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Amazon Prime is many things to many people: a free shipping option, an Instant Video service and, for those who recall when Amazon was first and foremost an online book dealership, a “Kindle First” offer where every month you can download for free one of four new books selected by the editors of major publishing houses.

Some months, honestly, the selection hasn’t been that great, and though I always take advantage of the offer I don’t always finish the books. A few times, the books have been unexpectedly good, a pleasure augmented by not having had to pay anything for them. The Fort by Aric Davis and Moving Day by Jonathan Stone were both fast-moving adventure stories with uncommon protagonists and settings. The offerings are generally light reading, thrillers and romances, though historical novels do turn up sometimes.

This month was a no-brainer: I grabbed Supreme Justice, by one of my all-time favorite fiction writers, Max Allan Collins, before I even looked at what the other three selections were. When I did check, I saw that a Dickensian thriller by Peter David, another writer I’ve admired for years, is also on the Kindle First list for June. Guess I’ll just have to cough up five bucks for that one, since it’s only one free Kindle First per customer per month.

Do I still buy books from bookstores? I do. I also still go to the library often. Having a Kindle simply means I read more in generally, especially trashy thrillers. Kindle First is a step above most of the new books that get flogged free-of-charge on the device. It’s been a real boon for my recreational reading hours.

 

Safety Head Space

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Carlos Wells’ New Haven-based Safety Meeting Records is putting out a limited edition of Head Space, the new album by musically proficient punks Blessed State on June 24. The vinyl LP is being issued as a 12-inch 45 rpm slab with eight songs. One of them, “Best Case Scenario,” has also been preserved as a video, here.

 

Paper Tigers

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Miniature Tigers’ hysterical, glossily overproduced yet understated soul pop anthem “You Used to Be the Shit” now has a video accompaniment. It’s basically a song about old romance and lost youth, augmented with references to once-hot items such as laser disks. The video ramps up the retro with clips of everything from Jerry Springer and Urkel to Michael Jackson’s Bad and Friends to pogs and AOL. “We used to be free,” the harmony group intones, “but now she’s just used to me.” The song’s on the new Miniature Tigers album Cruel Runnings, out this summer. The band plays The Space in Hamden July 16.

Beverly Chills

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The band Beverly gets airy and thumpy in equal measure on its new single (and video) “Honey Do,” which is kind of a liberating answer-song to the defensive rockabilly classic “Honey Don’t.” Not that “Honey Do” is a retro record. It’s a straight-ahead punk rock groove adorned with exquisite high-register vocals. A real charmer. From Beverly’s debut full-length, Careers, out July 1.

Crocodiles Rock

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Crocodiles adhere to a Paisley Underground retro-Velvets pop sound for “Teardrop Guitar,” but add harmonies and a non-wasted energy. The balance of raw and refined is remarkable. The chorus: “I… wanna see you cry.” The song is part of the new Crocodiles album Crimes of Passion.

Going for Brooklyn

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Painted Zero’s “Jaime” is a four-chord garage-rock run through the modern filter of contemporary Brooklyn indie rock. It sounds modern-quirky, with effects and crowd noises and layered guitar noises and the bourgeois-bratty vocals of Katie Lau, but it never loses that diehard ingratiating garage beat. Precious yet provocative. “Jaime” will be part of Painted Zero’s Svalbard EP, due out July 15 on the Black Bell label.