Try as I might, I find it impossible to sit still while this disc is spinning. And I can’t stop spinning it. Yet another of the impressive new alternative bands to emerge from the Hudson Valley, Diet Kong consists of two Brooklyn-to-Catskills transplants—graphic designer/actor/guitarist Keith Gladysz and his wife, videographer/designer/vocalist Jenn Penn—and drummer and Woodstock Music Shop owner Jeff Harrigfeld. Influenced by Depeche Mode, Digital Underground, New Order, Devo, Jane’s Addiction, Radiohead, and Beck, this trio spews out a high-energy sound that is raw and flailing as it punches you square in the kisser.
Beautiful Blackout is Diet Kong’s third release, an EP of danceable, bulldozing riffs with impressive production. And at five songs it’s a party that’s over far too soon. “Shoot the Freak” starts off with no-apologies, eccentric electro-rock, followed by the infectious art rock of “A Forest” (check out the track’s performance-concept video on YouTube). “Skin Color Crayon” is edgy and driving, while “Open” is straight outta the garage; the title track rounds off the disc with the perfect blend of new wave and dance pop. The band’s shows add a bizarre and unpredictable video element, making it a blast to catch live. Comparable to the likes of Arcade Fire, the Pixies, and Bryan Ferry, Diet Kong has indie gold written all over it. www.dietkong.com
Why and how dare she devote an entire album to songs by Laura Nyro when we can just listen to the originals on Spotify? I'll tell you why. Because Christine Spero fully inhabits these songs, uncovers hidden nuances, and with her stunning ensemble—including drummer Peter O'Brien, bassist Scott Petito, saxophonist Elliot Spero, and Christine's own magic hands on the ivories.
If you want to catch some of the best jazz in the Hudson Valley, head over to the Derby bar and restaurant on Main Street in Poughkeepsie. Since 2013, the duo of pianist John Scanlon and bassist Ben Basile has held court there every Tuesday, jamming with an array of local talent each week and establishing Po-Town as a rising force in local bop.
With its open-air format, where attendees picnic in the parks and watch the stars emerge during performances, and its $5 youth tickets, the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice is the perfect place to share with children a love of music and theater, in a variety of styles.