Jenifer Convertible – Pirate A&R – L.A. Rock
New York City is hot, humid and musty this July 1 night. Hot, humid, musty and inspired. The city is like a dragon’s throat, swallowing and spitting. and creating humans of a naked new species unseen anywhere also in the universe. The Lower East Side is out of its being. and those who inhabit it reek of 21st Century decay, death and rebirth. Rock ‘n roll in its clubs, famous for inhospitality and awful sound engineering, takes on a new and ever more intense meaning. That is why this city houses the new 2nd wave of alternative music and angst. There are no stars, just grimy, fatalistic musicians in dirty-matted personas reeling off the best damn music on the planet at this time. New York City, the Lower East Side in particular, is the definition of ‘alretnative’ and not the co-opted brand the corporations now peddle on ‘modern’ rock station across the tired land.
It was with great anticipation that I headed downtown this Friday night, with Pamela Whitman [a great, great, great grandniece of poet Walt Whitman’s, and will you believe and leader of world music upstarts World Color] to see a favorite bud, Jim Santo, now sporting a guitar in behalf of Lennie Zenith’s Jenifer Convertib.e When it comes to reviewing friends and their bands, even ones with the buzz the Convertible has recently generated there is often more than a reasonable amount of trepidation.
The band serves notice when they turn up the intensity with my favorite composition by Zenith the Beatle-esque “Winnebago” with its Waterboys-esque like a bridge that suggests Zenith to be more than another pop songwriter. Often you can feel the Santo influence (XTC, Dead Milkmen) though he would rigorously deny either directly suggested. Earlier set tunes like “Not My House” with its great pop hook and wry sense of humor and later set songs like the dissonant punky “Cars” or covers like the old New York popster Left Banke’s “Pretty Ballerina,” further suggests Jim’s leanings if not his ample songwriting abilities.
Zenith often diplays a mix of vocal characteristics ranging from the already mentioned Costello to poet Jim Carroll and on occasion hints of Lour Read and Gram parker expose themselves. Emotionally the Gram Parker reference opesn a door to the Zenith persona.