A Good Read A Good Listen and a Good Drink, ALX, Love Crushed Velvet

It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss.

In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire.

I first encountered Love Crushed Velvet a couple of year ago when they were part of a Beatles on the Ukelele production in Brooklyn. One of the songs they covered was Back in the U.S.S.R.; afterwards lead singer ALX and I bonded over being among the few people in the room old enough to remember the U.S.S.R., and then I found out their original work was pretty great, too.

On a related change-of-world-order note, here is the video for Revolution Time, inspired by the Arab Spring of 2011, from their recently released EP Delusions.

"REVOLUTION TIME" – Love Crushed Velvet [Official Music Video]


When I asked ALX to be part of this series, I decided to, if not start a revolution, at least shake up the status quo a little bit, and gave him this picture of pumpkins on 34th Street as a prompt:


Here is what he sent back:

Autumn. The shortening days, the crispness in the air whispering that summer has passed. T-shirts surrender to light sweaters, leather jackets replace denim. Sneakers are put away and boots—and the attitude that they convey—give us an added bit of swagger as they shape our strut from block to New York City block. While autumn changes how we dress and feel, it also reshapes our sensibilities…in music, in drink, in literature.

Music. The day I am writing this is the day that Lou Reed passed away. The quintessential embodiment of New York rock n roll attitude, his music never felt like a part of summertime—it was the sounds of October and November that came out of the stereo when his records were being played. And today, it’s impossible not to play Transformer, arguably his finest solo album. Walk on the Wild Side is most famous song, but Satellite of Love and Perfect Day are perhaps his finest—it’s hard not to choke up when you listen to them, especially today . . .

Lou Reed – Perfect Day – Later… with Jools Holland (2003) – BBC Two


October also makes us want to start enjoying heavier drinks again. Thicker beers, and . . . whiskey. When listening to Transformer, I couldn’t resist the urge to whip up my own version of a Sazerac, a great potion based on rye whiskey. Just seemed like the right thing to drink today.

It’s also the “perfect day” to re-read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, a brilliant book that explores the challenges of managing relationships between complex, unfulfilled characters. I’d originally read it while writing some of the songs on our new EP, Delusions, and it felt appropriate to bring it around again on this late October evening. The emotional temperature of the book is pure autumn—and it’s infused with some rock ‘n roll characters that remind me of some of the individuals that I’ve encountered in my own life. Great read.

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