For Street Photographers, It Just Doesn’t Get Better Than The Golden Hour At Venice Beach (Gallery Of Images)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 16, 2016 by johnbuckley100


We’d always want to go there with a Leica M and golden light, and a few Saturdays ago, we finally did.  Venice Beach is everything all the great photographers who’ve gone there before us had led us to believe.  We hope the images below convey this.





On “The Wink,” White Fence’s Tim Presley Proves A One-Man Band Can Still Have A Solo Album

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 16, 2016 by johnbuckley100


Tim Presley is an artist of such power, he has twice created work garnering Tulip Frenzy’s Album Of The Year honors.  Leading Darker My Love, a genuine band with, you know, multiple musicians recording songs, um, together, his Alive As You Are was a country rock gem, as meticulously crafted as an Hermes stirrup.  In 2014, For The Recently Found Innocent not only was the best album Presley’s “band” White Fence ever produced, but we’re pretty certain that when Tulip Frenzy looks back, in 2020, on the current decade, our team o’ plucky editors will have an easy time accepting its bid as the best rec since the Aughts.  All of which might lead a casual reader to believe that things are straightforward here — that Presley is a consistently great and major artist, a commodity as predictable as the Beatles in their prime.

That this isn’t the case is both a source of frustration and begins to get at the ritualistic magic of The Wink, Presley’s solo album, which came out one month ago.  The Wink is an astonishingly great album, the product of an eccentric genius with an oddball sensibility and a reverence for the artists he admires.  The title track sounds like it was ripped from a master tape of Bowie’s The Lodger — an homage to a dead hero in which Presley took the time to reverse engineer the best songs from Bowie’s best album.  A dozen bands before now have tried capturing the spare perfection of the first Gang of Four album, but on “Clue,” Presley’s the first artist I know of who has ever truly caught the interplay between Jon King’s vocals and Andy Gill’s guitar.

But of course, the major artist that Presley channels best on his solo album is Tim Presley, for we hear throughout the 12 songs here chord progressions and melodies spanning his career, from sideman in The Fall to collaborator with Ty Segall, not to mention leader of Darker My Love, White Fence, and Drinks, his 2015 album with Cate Le Bon.

For fans of White Fence, what is immediately apparent here is that The Wink is a great sounding album — that compared to those pre-2013 albums seemingly recorded in his bedroom, this one is a studio product with, dare we say it, high fidelity.  That it’s still recorded by a one-man band, or close to it (a few guests may have sat in, here and there), means it has the angular limitations of uneven musicianship; he might sound like Gang of Four, but the bass and drums don’t really have a bottom.  Performing as White Fence, it took the miraculous Live In San Francisco, recorded in 2013 with a killer backup band, to reveal to the world just how amazing were songs like “Swagger Vets and Double Moon,” which if you heard it only on Family Perfume, Parts 1 and 2, sounded like low-fi psychedelicacy, not the fully actualized, punk-steeped gem it became with a real band.  For The Recently Found Innocent, Ty Segall stepped in offering a kick on the bass drum and, we’d suggest, Presley’s ass, getting him to step up the sonic power of his noodling and produce a real album you could listen to on a real stereo, not a home recording you needed headphones and a lot of patience to enjoy.

The Wink is a real album, and it is great.  We can’t wait to hear it performed live, with a real band.  That it still doesn’t combine high fidelity with an in-studio band doesn’t mean we’re complaining.  Tim Presley continues to defy the world, taking leave from a one-man band and putting out a solo album.


Joshua Tree: In God’s Country

Posted in Leica M with tags , , , , on October 9, 2016 by johnbuckley100

joshua-tree-5I don’t want to say that everything I knew about Joshua Tree National Park came from U2’s great 1987 album, or perhaps more specifically, from Anton Corbijn’s photo shoot with the band.  Yet I’d never seen an actual Joshua Tree, couldn’t tell a cholla cactus from a prickly pear, and had only once driven to the Palm Springs area.  But our son has recently gone off to college not too far away, and was drawn like a magnet to this incredible small unit of the National Park Service.  Easy to see why, once we got there.


We brought along our Leica M-240, not the Leica SL we used all summer for landscapes out West.  It was a delight to have a small, capable camera in our hands again.  And we loved taking it off the main road, though the cholla have spines so strong they can puncture a hiking shoe.


What follows is an assortment of images from a magical place we want to go back to, and will.  As the lyrics of the U2 song go, “Sleep comes like a drug/in God’s country.”  We look forward to camping out here.



The Mysterious Morgan Delt Brings His Trip To DC

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on September 21, 2016 by johnbuckley100
Processed with VSCO with s5 preset

Processed with VSCO with s5 preset

Mere weeks after Tulip Frenzy proclaimed Phase Zero “Psych Album Of The Year,” Morgan Delt brought a kick-ass band to the Nation’s Capital to prove the rightness of that claim.  But instead of the delicate, filagreed sound produced by Delt and — I dunno who else was in the studio with him… his cat? — for his tour he assembled a band that can raise the sonic winds, flattening whole cities with its sound.

The set at DC9 began right on time, with the gorgeous “I Don’t Want To See What’s Happening Outside” kicking off the set as it does the album.  That song folded easily into “The System Of 1000 Lies,” giving us the sense that this was going to be Delt and band running through Phase Zero the way, say, Wilco ran through Star Wars on its last tour prior to opening up the back catalogue.

But Delt soon deviated from his latest album with a foray into his even trippier, weirder eponymous debut, and what quickly became clear was that, even as he sings in a milder voice live than he does on his two albums, his band packs a punch that brings to mind Wand, with that band’s towering drummer Evan Burrows pummeling the songs along like a nuclear power plant.  Yes, we were in full Olivia Tremor Control territory, yes, we could imagine the frail, small Syd Barrett up there, not the tall and angular Delt.  But this was a powerful combo, able to extend ragas even as the pretty melodies of Delt’s songwriting insisted on being heard.

We think we’ve identified the drummer as Lionel Williams, and let us just say he is a force to be reckoned with.  But so was the whole band.

Delt is a young artist, ambitious and with buckets of talent.  We hope that Phase Zero is just an intimation of the great things to come.  We hope the next time he goes back into the studio, these guys who played with him last night are in tow.

Suggested Alternative Album Cover Photo For The Mekons’ “Existentialism”

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


Speaking Of Bands And 40th Anniversaries, The Mekons Present “Existentialism” As A Book And CD

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on September 11, 2016 by johnbuckley100


Now this is getting ridiculous.  Fresh upon the release of the Fleshtones’ sublime The Band Drinks For Freeand hot on the heels of Television’s amazing performance last week at DC’s 930 Club, we opened up our mailbox to find Existentialism, a 95-page booklet with a 12-song CD tucked in, newly released by the Mekons.  What do these three bands have in common?  Perhaps only this: each was formed during the final year of President Gerald Ford’s hapless regency.

When last we vectored in on our old friends, the Meeks were releasing the distilled ferment from their sojourn to the Isle of Jura, off the Scottish Coast.  Jura was something of a gimmick and something of a miracle: a subset of Mekons, along with the formidable Robbie Foulks, did a brief tour of Scotland and took to an island sanctuary to record an album that was fun, but ultimately light, listenable if ultimately inessential.

It wasn’t Rock N’ Roll, nor of the quality of the 1990s masterpieces, OOOH! (out of our heads) and Journey To The End Of The Night, but it was a reminder of the Mekons’ greatness, of the power of Jon Langford and Sally Timms singing together, even if we missed Steve Goulding’s drums and Tom Greenhalgh’s sad sack warbling.  But just as that album was a clever one-off, like what would happen if the characters in a Shirley Jackson novel picked up pots and pans to play music to ward off the ghosts of a Scooby Doo haunted house, now comes Existentialism, itself a one-off, but of a more interesting, substantial nature.

Years ago, co-40th birthday boys, the aforementioned Fleshtones, recorded a live album and had it released on cassette mere hours later.  Existentialism took longer to release, but not to record, as it all came together one summer ago on a theater stage in Brooklyn, the full band — yep, Grenhalgh and Goulding, though apparently not Rico Bell — performing, like a bluegrass band, before a crowd and a single microphone.  And it works!

If e’re you forget that the Mekons can get a groove on, it’s disproved by the opener, “Flowers of Evil, Part 2.”  Not wobbling, though a certain amount of warbling ensues, and the band is in fine form throughout.  By the time we hear Langford singing about a familiar topic (“O Money”), there is only one band on earth that could have existed to produce this — just as only one band would have recorded a commentary on Brexit entitled “Fear and Beer.”  “1848 Now!” may be their best song since 2011’s “Space In Your Face.”  As a whole, Existentialism takes a straight line back to the Mekons’ punk rock origins, their being thrown in a studio by Andrew Last and Fast Records just to see what came out — metaphorically conveyed by the cover photo of their first rec, The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strnen, which delightfully depicts a monkey not quite get that line of Shakespeare typed.

But in a season when Acura has wondrously called up the Mekons’ 1978 single “Where Were You” in a commercial, Existentialism is a reminder that the Meeks are alive and well, the rag tag army able to reconvene episodically.  Like an old couple that have to role play to get the juices flowing, they may need a concept to do so — hey, let’s go to an island and lock ourselves in a makeshift studio! hey, let’s play an album of cool new songs live before an audience, record it and be done with it! — but in the end, man, is it worth it.

Television, A Friend From Many Stages, Return To D.C.’s 930 Club

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , on September 7, 2016 by johnbuckley100


Speaking of bands who’ve been around for 40 years, Television played at D.C.’s 930 Club, and to say they were in fine form understates the impact of the Platonic ideal.

With only one song from 1992’s Television — “1880 or So” — and none at all from Adventure, this set was Marquee Moon all the way.  Only it was like Marquee Moon from the inside out: no “See No Evil,” and we heard “Prove It” and “Torn Curtain” before “Venus.”  A special highlight was hearing the gorgeous “Guiding Light,” and the closer of the set, “Marquee Moon,” was as good as we have ever heard it — and our hearing it live traces back to New Year’s Eve 1976.

Richard Lloyd has left the band, but Jimmy Rip — who has played with Verlaine since his 1980s solo tours — filled in and then some.  Yes, it was a little odd to hear a stand-in play Lloyd’s lines, but Rip is such an excellent guitarist in his own right, it was like hearing a gifted Branagh fill in for Olivier as Hamlet.

Richard Lloyd once famously said that with while some bands look to see whether they have the crowd moving, Television always judged its performance by whether the audience was motionless.  And yes, when Verlaine and Rip traded guitar lines, the crowd reaction was transfixion.  Verlaine was as loose as we have ever seen him, fronting Television or his own band (often comprised of a similar set of musicians.)  The volume was low, the torque was loose, and it was magnificent.


The last time we saw Television play was at Georgetown, when they were pushing their 1992 eponymous  reunion album.  The playing then was a bit like this: quieter and more self-contained than those shows we saw as they were exiting stage left in 1978.  But then and now, there was plenty that was raucous contained at an adult volume.

We once had Tom Verlaine explain to us, while sitting in our apartment in New York for an interview for the Soho Weekly News, that Television’s two-Fender guitar sound was aimed at extracting the jaggedness of wild songs.  But last night, he and Rip convened a harmonic convergence — on the unreleased, and very long, “Persia,” the fusion music had the audience guessing where the Farfisa , violins, and synths were hiding, though it was only the two guitars.  And on that post-Bolero finish to “Marquee Moon,” the return to the melody was like a post-coital urge for more, unheralded by the drums.

Fred Smith, the Harvey Keitel of rock’n’roll, was his wonderfully understated self, and Billy Ficca proved anew why he’s the greatest jazz drummer to ever center a punk-era band.  But it was Verlaine, of course, who people came to see, and both his singing and his magically elusive guitar were a reminder that one of the greatest bands in history can still evoke the era in which we first saw them, all those years ago.

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