Takseng Monastery In The Morning

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 25, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Another image rediscovered from our lost Lightroom catalogue.  Leica M8, Bhutan, 2007.

Rediscovered Takseng-3

The Black Ryder’s “The Door Behind The Door” Is Achingly Beautiful

Posted in Music with tags on February 25, 2015 by johnbuckley100

For their fans, the wait for The Black Ryder’s follow up to 2010’s Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride has been nigh on interminable.  We can only imagine the travails, the journey, that got the band finally to be able to release, on their own label, their beautiful follow-up album, The Door Behind The Door, which came out yesterday.

Aimee Nash and Scott Van Ryper moved from Australia to Los Angeles around the time of their first album’s release, and between then and now, they split as a couple, but held together as a musical entity.  We’re glad they did.  Former members of Australia’s Morning After Girls, they retained on their first album the most interesting elements of that band’s early U.S. release, which was called Prelude EPs 1&2.  But where the Morning After Girls was a shuffling of the deck with Brian Jonestown Massacre and Dandy Warhol cards emerging side by side, the first album by The Black Ryder was a shoegaze epic, with the guitar squall of My Bloody Valentine served up alongside gorgeous evocations of the Velvet Underground.

The core of The Door Behind The Door was released as individual songs over the past few months — “Seventh Moon,” “Let Me Be Your Light,” and “Santaria” — and there is nothing, honestly, on the rest of the album that can compete with those three.  This is slow, artisanal rock music crafted by hand in dreamy, melodic, high caloric confections.  The rest of the album punctuates the mood with acoustic guitars picking up speed before giving way to Spiritualized anthems (“Throwing Stones”) or classic rock mid-tempo ballads.

The exception is the closer,  “Le Dernier Sommeil (The Final Sleep),” which is 12 minutes of symphonic film music, something that if you heard on a Jonny Greenwood score you’d grok and enjoy, but wouldn’t bat a lash at.  In this context, it is interesting as a choice of what to put out as the closer on a long-awaited follow-up to one of the best records of the decade.  Almost one-fifth of the album is given over to the composition, which is beautiful, but at the end of which we are left hoping that, unlike MBV, The Black Ryder get back in that studio and turn out the next one.  Please, sir, may I have another?

We eagerly await seeing them in May at the Austin Psych Fest.

Rediscovering The Tough Guys Of Bhutan

Posted in Leica Images with tags , on February 22, 2015 by johnbuckley100

I had — have — a Lightroom catalogue issue. (Having moved libraries of images from across two upgrades of iMacs, somehow I can’t get access to images, such as this one, taken in 2007.)  Yesterday, during the snowstorm, I found the old SD card on which some, not all, of my Bhutan images from that year were stored.  It was a revelation to have these images (taken on a Leica M8) once again.  Young monks at the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, which burned down in 2012.  I wonder what these guys are up to, eight years later.

Tough Guys

What Recent Live Albums By Phosphorescent, Ty Segall Band And Capsula Say About Those Bands, And Live Recordings

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on February 18, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Phosphorescent2

Phospherscent at the 930 Club, January 2014

Time was, live albums meant something, whether it was the commemoration of a killer tour (Get Yer Ya-Yas Out), or just that a record company either was owed an album (Band Of Gypsys) or needed to fill time ’til that epic studio album was done (Live At Leeds.)  Weirdly, live albums have accounted for some acts’ big breakthrough (Peter Frampton, Cheap Trick.) Yet as recording technology and digital distribution made it easy to do, some important bands who play great live — Pearl Jam, Wilco — began putting out damn near every live show.  Which devalued the category, and in a weird way, their live shows.  (Right, if all is available, it loses meaning, and if it doesn’t matter whether it’s live or Memorex, going to the concert is more about getting out of the house than hearing the music.)

We had to wait 16 years after the Clash broke up to get the first collection o’ songs recorded in concert, and both From Here To Eternity and Live At Shea Stadium pretty much suck.  The comparative handful of live tracks that have gotten out from Dylan’s Never Ending Tour tease us, as we know there must be a future Bootleg Series release in which the motherload will become available.  The point here is that official live albums now are a bit like filler, they no longer really excite, they usually just feature different versions of songs that likely sounded better in a studio minus the adrenaline and improvisation that comes from that band you love capturing on tape the magic of that show you missed, or better yet, saw.

So why are we so thrilled to hear the new Phosphorescent album, Live At The Music Hall?  The simple answer is because Matt Houck has produced some very good albums in the past five years, but none of them has entirely hung together… there has always been a bit too much self-indulgent filler.   We were lucky enough to see Phosphorescent live last January, and not only does this record capture the brilliance of songs like “The Quotidian Beasts” and “Song For Zula,” it is perhaps Houck’s first record that hangs together the whole way through.  So in this case, the live album adds a coherence to his work that his studio stuff doesn’t.  Hail Phosphorescent Live At The Music Hall, in which an important, underrated artist and his amazing live band play his songs the way they were meant to be heard.  It’s a little bit like White Fence’s Live In San Francisco: the live album that justifies your patience through the studio albums that never quite got you there…

Ty Segall 1-3

Ty Segall at the 930 Club, 2014

Ty Segall doesn’t need a live album to tell you anything about him you don’t know from his records, but *his* Live In San Francisco, released a few weeks ago, does offer those poor souls not in a touring city a sense of what utter freaking mayhem ensues when the Ty Segall Band hits town.  We don’t know the meaning of this album coming out under that name, as the show we saw them play in October was under the aegis of Ty Segall, not the Ty Segall Band.  And come to think of it, this live set contains more of Slaughterhouse than any of Ty’s solo (truly solo) recs. But as a snapshot in time, something we will harken to no mater where Ty’s career takes him (the Pantheon, no doubt), we will come back to this, fer the sheer fun of it all.

In the case of Phosphorescent, if we were Christgau and this was a consumer’s guide, we’d say this is the place to invest your hard-earned shekels.  With Ty, you just need to go get an extra job and buy everything he has put out since about 2011 — live album included.  But this should not, by any means, be the first, essential purchase. (That would be Twins.)

Capsula 2

Capsula at The Black Cat, 2013

With Capsula, though, a band that we have previously called The Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band in the WorldDead Or Alive is definitely a great place to begin, as it quickly proves we’re right, is an infectious party platter, and truly should be valued for the way it points you to their best studio albums (2006’s Songs & Circuits, with 2011’s In The Land Of Silver Souls being a close runner up.)  It gives longtime fans the joy of listening to these amazing musicians without having to travel to Bilbao, where the Argentines now live.

Capsula’s live album fills the role of a great many previous live albums: having put out seven excellent records, in English and Spanish, including a note-perfect (that was the problem) version of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, a live album was an inevitability, a notch in the belt, an artifact needed for the formal record.  Capsula is a great live band, and this proves it.  And if you’ve never heard them before, start here.  Unlike Get Yer Ya-Yas Out, this is not the Capsula album we’ll be playing in 45 years.  But as a glimpse of what a powerful sonic machine they are when they get going, yeah, it’s a good ‘un.

Snow Is Only Good When You Pay For It

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 15, 2015 by johnbuckley100

My wife believes that snow is only great when you visit it, not the other way around.  We thought of that this morning, in solidarity with our friends in Boston.  It reminded us of how great snowshoeing in Jackson Hole can be — and how awful it is to be in a city digging, digging, digging out from blizzards.  Leica Monochrom, 28mm Summicron Asph, New Years Eve 2012.

Teton Monochrom 2012

Parquet Courts’ Black Cat Show Was Raggedly Sublime

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 8, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Parquet Courts

These days, Parquet Courts face the inverse challenge to what they were dealing with in late 2012, when Light Up Gold put them on the map.  Back then, the question was whether the manic splendor of their live shows could be bottled and served up on vinyl, beer reek intact.  Two albums and an E.P. later, the question last night was whether a young act that has created some of the greatest recorded music of the past two years could have the tonal precision of that sound and those songs translate well live.

Regrets, we have a few, and when queried on our death bed, we know that ranked high among them will be our not having put Sunbathing Animal on the 2014 Tulip Frenzy Top Ten List (c).  And that wasn’t even their only album last year!  We must have been birdwatching or something, but somehow we missed the release, late in the year, of Content Nausea, which while not a Parquet Courts album proper — it was essentially a dual album made by Andrew Savage and Austin Brown — revealed a band that in a single year had emerged as a recording act justifying its titular sobriquet as “The Most Interesting Band In America.”  So how would *this* sound translate in a packed Black Cat where Parquet Courts were now headliners?

Andrew Savage’s voice was rubbed raw — he said it was due to an ill-advised karaoke competition.  When it all worked, such as on simpler thrashers like “Ducking And Dodging” and “Borrowed Time,” the skewed and sweaty dive bar ethos rang true, the house rocked, the crowd roared, clouds of sweat were formed.  But songs more dependent on getting the perfect vocal and guitar tone (say, “Black and White”) suffered a bit and brought to mind the irony that this magnificent punk band might best be heard through its studio output.

If Tom Verlaine were the Dalai Lama, and the body of monks were assembled to choose his successor, unquestionably Austin Brown would be the prodigy who would correctly identify his plectrum from a pile of confederates.  Our love of Parquet Courts circa 2015 stems from their having moved from Denton, TX to Brooklyn, NY and, as they gathered chops, decided to channel the sounds of circa 1977 Television on an epic night in the Bowery.  They are so much more than a band offering a derivative of New York at the end of the ’70s — to begin with, few are the artists who place as much energy and emphasis on intelligent lyrics as Andrew Savage does.  That they’ve thoroughly incorporated the Marquee Moon dynamic — not just the guitar work, but the dumb-boy choruses as well — makes us revel in their glory.  And this: hearing a song like “Everyday It Starts” — which on Content Nausea had basically fill-in drums, but last night had the full propulsion of Max Savage living up to his name — makes us realize these guys, when at their best, could give the Entertainment-era Gang Of Four a run for their Bitcoin.

So it wasn’t a perfect show because Andrew Savage wasn’t in the finest vocal fettle, and having seen them in front of 100 people in 2013, we know how amazingly they can play live when the stars are aligned.  And our expectations have been raised by the genius exhibited on their prodigious recorded output.  But if one wanted to confirm or deny whether the Parquet Courts were deserving of being Spin Magazine‘s 2014 Band of The Year?  Yeah, based on last night, totally.

Tulip Frenzy’s Annual Public Service Photograph

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 7, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Doesn’t this just make you feel a little better?

Oh, it makes you feel worse?  Sorry!

Public Service

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