Admirers of Red Krayola, The Residents or Pere Ubu and anything to do with Avant- Garde Rock will be happy to see the legendary New York band The Scene is Now releasing another album. Formed in the early 1980’s & caught between the fascinating New York City scene ‘NO WAVE’ & New Wave,
The Scene is Now have retained an interesting but secretive aura by releasing few but excellent albums since that period.Originally from Minneapolis, the band nucleus Phil Dray and Chris Nelson were submerged in this New York scene as ‘Dadaist Marxist Art-Terrorists ‘THE INFORMATION ‘ together with co-founder drummer Jim Sclavunos (Teenage Jesus & The Jerks | Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds | Grinderman).
By the mid-Eighties the Minneapolis gang had evolved into a NYC boho outfit called The Scene is Now. PHIL DRAY & CHRIS NELSON always remained as the core with the band having a fluid membership of excellent and sharp musicians in their past such as Tony Maimone (Pere Ubu), Will Rigby (The Db’s), Elliot Sharp & Sue Garner to name a few. Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo fame famously had stated ‘You Can Never Say Enough About The Scene Is Now‘ at the time his band had covered a The Scene is Now composition ‘Yellow Sarong‘on their classic ‘ Fakebook ‘ album. As a label we concur with Mr.Kaplan on this much heralded comment as The Scene is Now, despite not being very prolific with their material, when they do release an album it is always a surprising quirky sensation.
The Scene is Now breeze through difficult genres and create diligent music which is in stark contrast to the commercial New Wave and Underground bands of their day. There is no false sense of simplicity here. Phil Dray is an accomplished author in his own right on the side & together with fellow wordsmith Chris Nelson they create a beautiful awkwardness, knotty tunes dressed with sharp intellect. Chris Nelson’s booming and crackly voice is the perfect topping to their exotic slices. Australian label Lexicon Devil recently reissued the legendary BarNone albums from the past ‘ Burn All Your Records ‘, ‘ Total Jive ‘ & ‘ Tonight We Ride ‘ & it is the perfect time to continue with new release ‘ Magpie Alarm ‘. As with their last album ‘ Songbirds Lie ‘ (2004), this album has more beef to its bones as there is a significant horn section & baritone sax to the proceedings.
The 4 members that currently comprise the rest of the band are: Greg Peterson (Guitar and Vocals), Steve Levi (Cornet), Ryan Walsh (Bass) & Chery Kingan (Baritone Sax). From their observatory The Scene Is Now continue their edgy and twisted NYC sightings and stories, in the same vein as ‘ Songbirds Lie ‘ but in a more melancholic and subdued manner. Tight arrangements and wordy meanderings are still in abundance making ‘Magpie Alarm’ another gem from New York’s ‘secret sophisto’ outfit. Like a comet a sighting of The Scene is Now is a rare but an enlightening reminder for the Downtown artisans.