James Murphy – Critic’s Pick

James Murphy Jaimeville
James Murphy

9 p.m. Friday, May 31. 2720 Cherokee Performing Arts Center, 2720 Cherokee Street. $20 to 25. 314-875-0233.

When the status of LCD Soundsystem moved from “on hiatus” to “disbanded,” frontman James Murphy decided to go back to his roots in the DJ booth. As a songwriter, composer and cofounder at DFA Records, Murphy is a musical omnivore who has always been involved in every facet of music-making, including recording and producing. But before he was known as Mr. Soundsystem, Murphy earned a reputation as a genre-bending, diverse club DJ. Murphy makes deep beats that the rockers can dig and glitchy, electronic bloops for the ravers. He’s a master of hybrid club sounds, measuring out doses of disco, funk and house.

Show You the Ropes: Murphy’s DJ vibe is fun and unpredictable. Expect him to dip into old club classics and then drop some fly shit you ain’t even heard of yet.

– Jaime Lees

link: Riverfront Times

Taste’s Joel Burton: Featured Bartender of the Week

Burton poses behind a selection of bitters. The Blood & Sand cocktail is on the left, the Jack Rose is the pink drink near center.
Burton poses behind a selection of bitters. The Blood & Sand cocktail is on the left, the Jack Rose is the pink drink near center.

Welcome to Girl Walks Into a Bar, a weekly Gut Check feature that spotlights local bars and bartenders. This week, Jaime Lees profiles Joel Burton of Taste. Below is a Q&A with Burton, followed by the recipe for the Jack Rose.

Inspired by a suggestion from last week’s featured bartender Laura Therina of Baileys’ Chocolate Bar (1915 Park Avenue; 314-241-8100), we decided to pop into Taste (4584 Laclede Avenue; 314-361-1200) in the Central West End to sample the establishment’s insanely creative drinks menu.

The tiny restaurant and bar is situated near the southernmost part of the Central West End proper, on Laclede Avenue at South Euclid Avenue. A small door opens to a curtained entryway, and beyond that there’s a tall wood bar and a few small tables for dining. The dark bar is gorgeous and illuminated by delightfully dim, faux vintage multi-filament light bulbs.

We were greeted by bartender Joel Burton and his lovely smile. Burton is a good guide for the uninitiated, asking customers what they like and don’t like before offering suggestions — he’ll even mix you up something special on the spot if he’s inspired. He described Taste as a “safe environment to try new things.”

We spoke to the personable Burton in short bursts between mixing fizzy drinks — he had a lot of cocktails to shake on this particular evening.

Jaime Lees: Describe your bartending style in three words.
Joel Burton: Methodical, fun and consistent

A girl walks into a bar and orders a _____, she has just earned your undying admiration.
Probably a De La Louisiane or an Old Fashioned. The De La Louisiane is one of the classics we have around here, it’s kind of like a Manhattan, it has some of the Bénédictine in it instead of the vermouth. So it’s just a little bit of honey and herbal flavors. It’s spicy and just fabulous.

Other than your own place, where do you go to get a good drink and what do you get?
I usually go to Sanctuaria. They’ll make me cocktails, or they’ll serve me a shot of Fernet and a beer. I usually don’t drink cocktails when I go out. I was originally, like, a beer and wine drinker. So the cocktail thing is still… I haven’t found my home for it yet.

What’s one thing that most people don’t realize about crafting cocktails or bartending?
That it is a craft and things take time. And I’m sorry if I take a couple of minutes to make your drink, but there’s a method and we all have the same goal: which is to make something that is absolutely stunning for you. I could do it different every time.

Who would you most like to have a drink with? And why?
That’s a good question! I don’t know… um… Oh! I want to drink with James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem. Because he’s kind of my hero and also he’s awesome. And I would just like to know what he has to say about everything. He’s kind of a maniac but he’s kind of a badass. I want to see what he thinks.

What’s the most bizarre or worst drink that someone has ordered from you?
I don’t know, I usually try to block those things from my memory. I usually will just make it and then get rid of it. We always get requests for birthday cake shots…

What’s the coolest or weirdest thing you’ve witnessed while working at Taste?
On my birthday, there were a bunch of people in from the Speed Rack competition. It’s a ladies speed bartending competition. They did this a couple of months ago down at 2720– it’s all to benefit breast cancer. And the people that organized it came in here, and it was a Sunday night and it was late and they were the only people in here at that point. And it was my birthday right after work, so they gave me a Fernet luge through a menu. They just folded one of the cocktail menus in half and I just took the shot straight down the menu. It was totally awesome.

Jack Rose cocktail
1/2 Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
1/4 Lemon
1/4 Grenadine

In honor of Burton’s answer to who he’d like to most drink with, here’s “Drunk Girls” by LCD Soundsystem:

link: Riverfront Times

2007: My Favorites

2007: The Year in Movies and Music
By Jaime Lees
Published: December 19, 2007

LCD Soundsystem’s self-titled 2005 release stands as the album that made me finally, truly believe in new electronic music. But Sound of Silver was a huge step up — and my ultimate album of 2007. It had everything I wanted: fun, super-fresh style, beauty and plenty of beats. “All My Friends” is elegant and touching, “Someone Great” is bloop-bloop perfection and the hand claps and joyous shouts of “a-woohoo!” in “Watch The Tapes” are majorly addictive.

Still, my favorite part of the music year was when an android stork dropped down from outer space and delivered us Radiohead’s In Rainbows. The media hullabaloo surrounding the surprise release sucked me in whole (because I’m a dork and I love shit like that). And while I remain fascinated by the band’s alien marketing techniques, the album had the chops to back up the hype. It’s pretty, glitchy, bittersweet and epic — in short, everything you would expect from a Radiohead album. However, In Rainbows is instantly more accessible than Amnesiac, Kid A or even Hail to the Thief. Around the same time as the album’s release, the band started leaking performances on its Web site, including live versions of album tracks and my new favorite cover ever: Radiohead playing New Order’s “Ceremony.”

My heart swelled with pride when the Arcade Fire released Neon Bible, and then both fans and critics welcomed the album’s lush, bountiful orchestration. Arcade Fire fans have formed a near-cultish church surrounding the band, but their worship might be justified. “Intervention,” “Ocean of Noise,” “(Antichrist Television Blues)” and “My Body Is a Cage” are nothing short of magical and could easily be mistaken for the rapturous hymns of a new religion. Everyone was primed for a backlash against the indie darlings, but you can’t argue with songs this beautiful.

As far as independent releases, at the beginning of the year I was gifted with an advanced copy of AA Bondy’s recently released American Hearts, and it’s been in heavy rotation ever since. The solo singer-songwriter put aside his former life as the lead singer of scorching glam-grungers Verbena in favor of a more earthy, exposed adventure. Bondy composes lonely tales of complicated redemption, teetering between the delicate confusion of Dylan and the hopeful pride of Springsteen. His soulful voice is soothing and softly Southern, making American Hearts a perfect Sunday-morning album.

I also happened upon tons of great local releases this year. The Humanoids’ Are Born is my favorite; the songs are pure punk and the band straight-up shames most other locals with its energy and authenticity. Rats and People’s The City of Passersby is dense and enchanting, and quite a few songs on the Bureau’s We Make Plans In Secret deserve repeated spins. Finally, Riddle of Steel’s 1985 wasn’t released until the end of this year, but I can safely predict that it will rock me through 2008. (click to read all)
— Jaime Lees