Downtown Music

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January 10, 2005 // UPDATED 1:47 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Holly Day
Holly Day

Going Out with the In Crowd

Music critics everywhere have been falling all over themselves over a debut CD, "La Maison de Mon Reve," by two sisters, Sierra and Bianca Casady collectively known as CocoRosie. I guess I'm part of the "in crowd" on this one.

This disc is full of beautiful, quirky, badly recorded Middle Eastern musical numbers that sound like popcorn popping in a metal pot, police sirens, harp, piano, acoustic guitar and a ton of things I just don't have room to identify. It all works together to create a dozen wonderful little songs. The Casady sisters pull a wide range of vocal stylings out of their hat; gospel and opera and off-key ramblings and spoken word pieces that are incredibly endearing and vulnerable-sounding, complete with idealistic, neo-naive lyrics that sound like something out of a gifted sixth-grader's notebook.

As good as the sisters are, the main attraction of the night's show is the headlining, eyeliner-wearing (or if not, he has the darkest eyelashes I've ever seen) eternally somber manchild Conor Oberst (a.k.a. Bright Eyes). The Nebraska native draws heavily on the gloomy groundwork laid out by such fellow Nebraskans as Willa Cather and Simon Joyner, delivered in a package that's so precocious and precious you can't help wanting to give the little fella a big hug and a lollipop, just to let him know that things are not as bad as they seem.

Saturday, Jan. 15, 8 p.m. Historic State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Ave. $21.50. (651) 989-5151.

Dreaming of Life

About this time of year, one finds oneself doing the strangest things to try to forget that it's winter. Last January, I played Carmen Miranda just about nonstop, wore shorts and tank tops around the house as much as possible, and tried desperately to think about the ocean every time I took a bath.

This winter, I've been spending much of my time in the basement because it's so much easier to think about blooming hollyhocks and friendly goldfinches when I can't see how dead my yard looks through the kitchen window.

It's almost as though this week at Orchestra Hall - or at least the Thursday, Friday and Saturday parts of it - was designed to comfort ones such as I. Pianist Emanuel Ax will be tackling some of the most springtimeiest of classical music pieces out there: Mozart's "Overture to the Magic Flute" and Kalevi Aho's "Insect Symphony." Even if you're not a big fan of dung beetles, grasshoppers, ants or dayflies, you'll find yourself longing to see them all darting around in the hot summer sun long after seeing this performance - if you weren't already missing them before taking your seat for the concert.

Thursday, Jan. 13, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14, 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15, 9 p.m. Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall $20-$78. 371-5656.

Higher Powers

Here are three films about minimal and experimental music that fans of such cannot miss. In "Vagabunden Karawane (Vagabond's Band)," Christian Burchard and his kosmische Kraut band Embryo trek thru Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, playing music and participating in local cultures while living together on a dilapidated bus for one lunar year.

In "The Magic Sun," the making of acclaimed extraterrestrial jazz composer Sun Ra's "Arkestra" is gorgeously documented by filmmaker/composer Phill Niblock.

P.G. Six, Alan Licht, Joshua Burkett and others star in "The Temptation to Zoology," a film that's ultimately concerned with the higher power of sound and LSD.

Saturday, Jan. 15, 8 p.m. Red Eye Theater, 15 W. 14th St. $5. 870-0309.

Holly Day can be reached at lalena@bitstream.net.