Noble Stereogum, making an equivalent use of the medium as Bill Doss made of guitars and tape recorders, has just posted an amazing tribute to the late Bill Doss, replete with songs he graced with Olivia Tremor Control, The Sunshine Fix, The Apples In Stereo, and Chocolate USA. Hell, they practically have the whole Elephant 6 Collective starring in “The Story of Elephant 6′s Bill Doss, Told In 10 Songs.” In these here parts, it’s Friday night. Go have a nice weekend listen. Maybe this will tide us over til the posthumous OTC reunion album gets released. Thanks, Stereogum.
Archive for Apples in Stereo
We’ve always known he was, you know, smart. And then came word that, in addition to writing, singing, and playing guitar on all the Apples In Stereo albums, and helping Olivia Tremor Control and others to fully actualize their sonic ambitions, Robert Schneider had developed his own musical scale, like some punk rock Schopenhauer. And now this….
We found out early in the week that Olivia Tremor Control founder Bill Doss had died at 43. To date, there has been no front-page New York Times obit, but there should have been. We expect figures from rural Louisiana to have an influence on Delta blues, but Doss was a revivalist, not of American idioms, unless you consider psychedelic rock as such, but of the trippy weirdness that came when the Beatles and Stones hit their “Tomorrow Never Knows”/”Citadel” late ’60s form.
The Olivia Tremor Control came out of nowhere in 1996 with Music From The Unrealized Film Script “Dusk At Cubist Castle”, and today, 16 years after its release, it holds up as the finest psychedelic rock album since the Summer o’ Luv. We say this with all due respect to our faves, First Communion Afterparty, and any of the mushroom swallowing young ‘uns who emerged in the OTC’s immense wake. Dusk At Cubist Castle was a first album that sounded like a marriage of Sgt. Pepper’s, the second side of Abbey Road, and Badfinger — it was melodic and pure and surpassingly straightforward for all the weirdness, an accomplishment of a mature band with a big label’s budget. And yet this first album was recorded for a pittance on a four track, albeit by a cast of musical geniuses that apparently included Doss’s Ruston (LA) High School classmate Robert Schneider, the George Martin of indy rock.
Doss and Olivia Tremor Control spawned The Elephant 6 Collective, which never had a major impact on the mainstream, but in those divots and caves where real rock’n'roll reproduces in mutant cell division, their impact was legion. Bands like Elf Power, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Of Montreal may have gotten airplay and sold songs to Madison Avenue but they never played Madison Square Garden. Schneider’s Apples in Stereo may have sent a mighty arrow through red fruit with their theme song for The Powerpuff Girls, but none of the Elephant 6 bands were ever featured on the cover of the Rolling Stone. If Beulah had stayed together, they might have gone all the way. But they didn’t.
And still, on the occasion of his early passing, we come back to Bill Doss, and Dusk at Cubist Castle, and Olivia Tremor Control. Last year, right around this time, came word that the reformed OTC was releasing some new material, and sure enough, the magical release of their first new music since 1999 sent the entire staff of Tulip Frenzy out in search of celebratory lysergic mead snow cones. And word spread, even as the band toured and were featured on NPR, that a new album was in the offing.
And then last week came the bitter rejoinder: Bill Doss had died, which leaves us approximately nowhere. Singer, guitarist, dreamer, entrepreneur, front man and inspiration, Doss is dead. Long live Music From The Unrealized Script “Dusk At Cubist Castle”.
Tulip Frenzy is not K-Tel. We have no deals with labels, and we don’t advertise on late-night television. But if we were to put together a playlist with two songs each from the 2007 Tulip Frenzy Top 10 List (c), here’s what it would be:
- Ryan Bingham Album: Mescalero Songs: Bread and Water/Hard Times;
- New Pornograhers Album: Challengers Songs: All The Old Showstoppers/Fortune;
- Wilco Album: Sky Blue Sky Songs: Impossible Germany/Let’s Not Get Carried Away;
- Black Rebel Motorcycle Gang Album: Baby 81 Songs: Weapon of Choice/Coldwind;
- Apples In Stereo Album: New Magnetic Wonder Songs: Skyway/7 Stars;
- Iron & Wine Album: Shepherds Dog Songs: Pagan Angel and A Borrowed Car/Carousel;
- Babyshambles Album: Shotter’s Nation Songs: Deft Left Hand/Crum Begging;
- The Chesterfield Kings Album: Psychedelic Sunrise Songs: Up and Down/Outtasite;
- Eddie Vedder Album: Into The Wild Songs: Hard Sun/Far Behind;
- The Waterboys Album: Book of Lightning Songs: Crash of Angel Wings/It’s Gonna Rain;
Now, go to the iTunes Store and assemble.
- 10. The Waterboys “Book of Lightning”Who ever would have thought that the Waterboys would rock as hard as, and sound a lot like, Robyn Hitchcock? This was a left-field surprise that went beyond a return to form, since never once had they sounded this good.
- 9. Eddie Vedder “Into The Wild”Great movie, perfect soundtrack to it.
- 8.The Chesterfield Kings “Psychedelic Sunrise”Until the next Fleshtones album comes out (January 22nd), this is the garage classic of the moment.
- 7.Babyshambles “Shotters Nation”Pete Doherty makes Amy Winehouse seem like she’s overly fond of 3.2 beer or something, but I was shocked by what an amazing album this is, the best Brit-rock album since Blur was functional. We need to keep this guy alive.
- 6.Iron & Wine “The Shepherd’s Dog”Music to listen to while getting tanked up on coffee, sitting in sunlight, while reading six sections of the Sunday Times. That’s actually a compliment.
- 5. The Apples in Stereo “Science Faire”The little pop-rock genius Bob Schneider made a good ‘un, rocking hard but not at Ramones speed, while still catchy as their soundtrack for the Powerpuff Girls.
- 4. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club “Baby 81″Even in a year when the Jesus and Mary Chain came back at Coachilla, this was the best moment for off-kilter hard rock that I lived through.
- 3. Wilco “Sky Blue Sky”Why put down Jeff Tweedy’s sobriety? With Nels Cline sounding like Tom Verlaine on a good day, this beautiful symphony of noise deserved a far, far better fate than the slagging it took. (Funny how after putting it down, Uncut put it in their Top Five list…)
- 2. The New Pornographers “Challengers”Another album hipsters gainsaid, yet still packed such an un-Canadian wallop, it’s a wonder the Arcade Fire didn’t do the honorable thing and just move to Paraguay.
- 1. Ryan Bingham “Mescalero”The best album of 2007 was by a West Texas songwriter named Ryan who was smart enough to embrace, not run from sounding like the great lost Whiskeytown album.