Pedestrian At Best

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 27, 2016 by johnbuckley100

We love Cartier-Bresson’s “Behind The Gare St. Lazare” so much, we have it up on our wall.  Could we have had it somewhere in mind — the repeated form of the dancer and the puddle jumper — when we caught this during the snowstorm?  Or just a lucky shot?

Pedestrian At Best

New Music — The Auras, P.J. Harvey, Iggy — With Which To Survive A Blizzard

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 27, 2016 by johnbuckley100

Snowzilla, as it was dubbed, has kept us mostly cooped up, but are we suffering from cabin fever?  Well, sure, yeah. But it would have been so much worse if we hadn’t had new music to listen to:

  • The Auras released their Saturn Day e.p. two weeks ago, and it merely confirms Tulip Frenzy was correct in giving them 2015 Psych Band of The Year honors. The six songs here continue the young Toronto band’s winning streak of Spaceman 3-inflected, Nuggets-inspired garageband excellence.
  • P.J. Harvey has given us a teaser from The Hope Six Demolition Project, which is to be released in April. “The Wheel” sounds like it could have been on 2011’s Let England Shake, if that album had been recorded with a horn section and been a narrative about Southeast DC, not Albion in WW I.  We have a calendar up on the wall with all the days marked between now and when Polly’s new one hits the world.  One fewer day after this one…
  • Iggy Pop has, as the world now knows, teamed up with Josh Homme and members of the Queens Of The Stone Age and the Arctic Monkeys to record a new album, Post Pop Depression.  We’d be excited enough by “Break Into Your Heart” — a far more welcome discovery after having been dropped onto our iPad in the middle of the night Sunday than was the two feet of snow dropped onto our streets Friday-Saturday.  But “Gardenia,” which is available both as a download and, should you be so inclined to seek it out, performed live on Colbert last week, is a revelation — Iggy’s best song since Naughty Little Doggy.  If like me, David Bowie’s death already sent you back to those great Iggy albums, well, let’s just say March can’t get here soon enough.
  • Eleanor Friedberger‘s New View is excellent , the best thing she’s done since her days with brother Matthew in the Fiery Furnaces.
  • Ty Segall‘s Emotional Mugger has not grown on us yet.  We keep trying to like it — and Lord knows we’re inclined to.  So far, it seems a muddle.
  • John Cale likewise has not stayed on the Victrola for long, even as we’ve tried grokking both M:FANS and the reissue of Music For A New Society on which it was based.  We stand second to none in our admiration of the great Welshman, but we’re getting a little concerned that we haven’t liked much that Cale has put out since blackAcetate in 2005.
  • Heaters became known to us via Uncut‘s review of their 2015 Holy Water Pool, which if you like the Cramps and can imagine how a psych band could make optimal use of  Poison Ivy’s infectious riffs, you will love.

Finally, we have to offer a preview of coming Tulip Frenzy mania: through diving into Heaters, pulling on threads until we discovered bands they play with in their midwest stomping grounds, we discovered Heaven’s Gateway Drugs.  Wow.  Go download their 2015 single “Copper Hill,” which sounds like the Warlocks cast a potion on The Auras in Olympic Studios circa 1967.  More on these guys, we promise — especially since a new album (their third) is in the cards for 2016.

And how can we honestly talk about the music we’ve listened to this past week without just declaring All Bowie, All The Time?

 

New Picnic Time

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 23, 2016 by johnbuckley100

Wth apologies to Pere Ubu.

New Picnic Time

Into The Wild

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 23, 2016 by johnbuckley100

Washington, D.C. Saturday morning.  Midway through Snowzilla.  Looking down toward the unplowed New Mexico Avenue. Leica Monochrom (top-246), 75mm APO.

Into The Wild

It’s Too Late To Be Grateful: Remembrance Of A Teenage Bowie Fan

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 12, 2016 by johnbuckley100

No one will ever again need to strain for an example of genius, for who else but a genius can so astonish us from The Other Side? Bowie rendered the preparation for Death into a thrilling art project — Lazarus the play, “Lazarus” the song and video released days before his death, virtually every word of the glorious Blackstar… It is all literally amazing, and distracts us from our grief even as it intensifies it.

When Joe Strummer died suddenly, Streetcore, his final album with the Mescaleros, was released posthumously as a sort of final word.  It was fashioned out of accidental spare parts (snippets of his BBC radio shows, instrumentals, as well as full-on songs) into a beautiful elegy.  But there is nothing accidental about Blackstar, including the double entendre title of the final song which references Bowie’s mysterious methods: “I Can’t Give Everything Away.”

Those final 18 months will be studied as performance art, but let’s also give credit not to an artist but to a man who bravely finished up, without complaint or loss of dignity, in control, in a way,’til the end.

We have read much over the past 24 hours, some remembrances by those who knew and worked him, and a fair bit of earnest nonsense written by those who are, frankly, too young to have perspective.  If you are of a certain age, and “Ashes to Ashes” is where you picked up the thread, it’s hard to even know you need to reference, somewhere, Diamond Dogs.

We are old enough to remember: how Bowie, T. Rex, and Mott The Hoople seemed to arrive on these shores all on the same boat, a palate cleanser after the Stones’ ’72 tour, and how when we first heard the New York Dolls in 1973, far from being a shock or mystifying, it all made sense.  Likewise, how right Diamond Dogs seemed to be, as we played that dystopian masterpiece while reading daily about Richard Nixon’s impending resignation.   How Young Americans was both the perfect soundtrack to our senior year in high school, and pointed to something far, far different than what the other giants of that year, the Stones and Led Zeppelin, were purveying on It’s Only Rock’n’Roll and Physical Graffiti.

And then the ride began: the Golden Age, as Station To Station overlapped with the release of The Man Who Fell To Earth, followed by the Berlin Trilogy with Eno.  Low, Heroes, and the sublime Lodger — our favorite record, and we’re tempted to proclaim, his greatest work — arrived concurrently with the upheaval of punk, and alone among the establishment icons of rock’n’roll, Bowie strode above the landscape with little criticism or resentment, the one star who still produced awe, with no need to pander (as the Stones did with Some Girls) to what was happening in the streets.  While Station To Station seemed to brilliantly close the chapter on those early ’70s incarnations,  those next three albums rewrote the book even as Bowie, for perhaps the first time, seemed willing to be his own true self.

In most of the “10 Essential Songs By Bowie” lists made yesterday by 40-year olds trying to generate click bait, one eye on Wikipedia, the other on the clock, virtually no one referenced Bowie’s work with Fripp and Eno as the essential core.  It made us realize there are some gifts to age, to having been alive, and awake, through Bowie’s prime.  We didn’t have to pretend that Bowie was great on stage (he really wasn’t, he was no Mick Jagger…)  We could think back to a time when Bowie towered above the land… before that long, 30-year span of relative silence that ended, surprisingly, with the release in 2013 of “Where Are We Now,” which of course harkens to the Berlin of the late ’70s.

Star imagery is one of the constants in Bowie’s work, his punning self-referencing finally culminating in Blackstar — the star lit no more.  It is the most incredible thing that he left us yesterday grappling with new work, oddly refreshed, deeply saddened, reflecting on his life and ours, with joy and not nostalgia.  It’s too late to be grateful, sang the Thin White Duke.  But we are.

So Now We Know Bowie’s Blackstar Was Death

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 11, 2016 by johnbuckley100

What a consummate pro, staving off death until he could get his magnificent final work, Blackstar, out the door.

It is early, and we are just processing the sad news, but a few words are in order.

If David Bowie had died without having released, in 2013, The Next Day, and now an incredible final album, we would have been sad, because for a almost a decade — from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars up through Lodger — there was no more cherished artist in our lives.  But after the commercial success of Let’s Dance, Bowie was for us a figure of the past, like the Rolling Stones, always beloved but no longer relevant.

And then, from out of nowhere, two years ago came The Next Day, which was among the most thrilling music of the year, and a reminder of his greatness.  And beginning Thanksgiving weekend, we had begun listening, over and over, to “Blackstar” from the new album, and reveling in Bowie’s vibrancy, his relevance, that gorgeous voice.

We were just thinking this weekend, when we at last got to listen to the album as a whole, how brilliant Bowie’s marketing has been these last few years — not touring, not doing interviews, holding himself above the industry and stardom, and letting his music do the speaking for him.  And now we know.

That he finished with Blackstar is like the Beatles going out with Abbey Road: an amazing grace upon which to conclude one of the transcendent careers in contemporary music.

 

Full Moon Over Glory Bowl, -24 Degrees

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 28, 2015 by johnbuckley100

It was awfully pretty — and awfully cold — this morning before skiing.

Color Teton Pass Moon

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