Tulip Frenzy’s January Playlist: The Molochs, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Cherry Glazer, Lucy Dacus

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2017 by johnbuckley100

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The Molochs’ America’s Velvet Glory is the first great album of what promises to be a dreadful year, epoch, eternity.  But hey, if the country gets destroyed in the process of Making It Great Again, we can at least have the comfort of this boss band’s first album, America’s Velvet Glory.

So maybe they’re named after the ancient god associated with child sacrifice.  Given the state of our nation, we prefer to think of their name as coming from the Indian tribe from the Pacific Northwest that, with knowledge of the local territory and a hardy band of warriors, made fools of the soldiers sent to “snivelize” them.  We all could use a bit of that spirit these days.

The Molochs make us think of AM radio in 1966, when a boy could hear the Brian Jones-inflected sound of those mid-decade Rolling Stones, the pop dynamism of The Kinks, and the aspirations of The Monkees all playing back to back.  Pre-psychedelia, before rock’n’roll got serious, music that rocked with a wee bit o’ organ underneath the guitars.  This band has already made our entry into 2017 palatable enough to have put away the razor blades.  Yeah, that’s something.

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On Talk Tight, a mini-album released last spring, which we entirely missed until the nice people at Uncut alerted us to a second such output this spring, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever launched their campaign of world dominance with the most glorious and infectious string of songs we’ve heard in some time.  Sure, the sheer thundering gallop they get off to can make you think of fellow Aussies King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, but these guys are so much more.

To begin with, unlike KG & TLW, this record doesn’t sound like the band all got cranked on molly and set the tape deck to record.  These are fabulously well-constructed songs that bear homage to bands as disparate as national heroes Radio Birdman and our very own Luna.  They’ve just released “Julie’s Place” from the forthcoming mini-album, and pledge that upon the new thing’s release, they’ll go into the studio to get down a proper LP.  Cannot wait, for these guys will vanquish the lifeguards and overrun the power stations, leaving us yawping in the light of day.

clagerWe missed Cherry Glazerr‘s show at DC9 on Sunday, because we were somehow asleep at the switch, but our bet is that those people there will have bragging rights for years, because Apocalipstick is going to launch like that rocket on the album cover.  Clementine Creevy — one of the best rock’n’roll names of all time — has come a long way from 2014’s Haxel Princess, when the content of songs was made up of things like her love for grilled cheese sandwiches and the lo-fi production sounded like the rec comprised demos recorded in the broom closet of the LA high school she and the band were still in.

From the moment you hear the big-time mastering of “Told You I’d Be With The Guys,” you know that Secretly Canadian opened the checkbook to pay for a real studio for their next breakout band.  Think The Breeders, Veruca Salt, and maybe Chastity Belt in the hands of Steve Albini, and you’ll get a sense of how ready for the big time these guys are.  We eagerly await the full album download on, we believe, the same day a certain orange-hued braggart is sworn in: when the Apocalypse begins, we will happily listen to Apocalipstick.

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Every January, we find out about albums from the prior year that we completely missed, which if we’d been less dense, woulda made it on Tulip Frenzy’s Top Ten List (c).  Sometimes we even hear about them from the same source — in this case, NPR’s Bob Boilen’s 2016 Top 10 List of fave recsLucy Dacus is a Richmond alternative songwriter and peppy little New Wave combo bandleader whose No Burden was for us as big a discovery as the last artist Boilen pointed us to: Angel Olsen.

She can nearly effortlessly go from catchy rock’n’roll to a quieter, more contemplative sound, but the one thing that’s certain is that everything is melodic, her voice and sense of humor and irony dominate, and if you listen to just one song from this magnificent album, you will inhabit the rest for days at a time.

 

The New Years Day Snowstorm (See Full Gallery Of Images)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 1, 2017 by johnbuckley100

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It was about three degrees in the valley when we went for a New Years Day walk.  Jackson Hole is in a snow cycle and while only a few inches had fallen, in the cold air the light was glorious.  Herewith a gallery of images of what we saw this morning, in the order we saw it.  In most cases we have converted the images to black and white; in some cases we didn’t need to convert anything because it already was monochrome.  And in some cases we have left the color in, thinking it looked best that way. Happy New Year — and so happy that already in this new year, we have taken some photographs we like.

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Tulip Frenzy’s Top 10 List Of Black and White Photographs We Took In 2016

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2016 by johnbuckley100

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Last week, we published our personal faves among the various color photographs we took and published in 2016.  We understand that photographers tend to be known by a particular “look” and sensibility, that many feel the need to commit to either black and white or color.  We couldn’t if we tried.

We look deeply saturated colors — and the purity of monochrome.  We love going out some days with our Leica Monochrom in hand, viewing the world in black and white just as if we had a camera loaded with Tri-X Pan.  On those days when we are either deliberately shooting monochrome, or in the end, that’s the way we process them, we are just as happy, and in some ways even more so than when we shoot color.  We love grey scale, tonalities, the otherness and permanence of an image in black and white.

The one above is our favorite for the year.  Below, in no order, are our nine others.  And for those who like black and white photography, we think you’ll like the galleries on our sister site, Tulip Frenzy Photography.

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Leica Monochrom, 50mm Noctilux

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The Ice Storm

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 17, 2016 by johnbuckley100

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With apologies to Rick Moody, and possibly readers who just this morning saw us post what we believed were the 10 best color images we took in 2016, we had to go visit the Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral to see what was left of the ice storm this morning, and temperatures crept toward 40.  Here’s what we found.

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Tulip Frenzy’s Top 10 List Of Color Photographs We Took In 2016

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 17, 2016 by johnbuckley100

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Leica MP-240, 50mm APO-Summicron Asph

If we are so critical of the music we listen to that, at year end, we actually rank it into Tulip Frenzy’s 2016 Top 10 List (c), shouldn’t we apply the same sensibility to our own photographs?  Well, hard to do, especially with a genuinely self-critical eye.  So should we instead simply list our own favorite photographs from the year without necessarily a rank order? Perhaps that’s better.

With the above image certified by its positioning as our favorite color photograph of the year, let’s follow with nine other favorites that, alas, fall in no particular order.  After all, you wouldn’t really want to list your children in order of favorites, would you?

This is somewhat revealing about a life split between cities and Greater Yellowstone, about photography split between Leica Ms and the new and incredible Leica SL.  What couldn’t make a Top 10 list are photos of tulips, and our other favorite still life images.  So let’s cheat a little. Here are our favorite 10 color images we took this year, followed by a lagniappe, a special gift: two favorite images to offer an even dozen. Oh screw it, three and we will call it a Baker’s Dozen. (You’ll understand why we needed to add that third one…) And tomorrow, or soon, we will publish our favorite black and white images we took in 2016.

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Pride 2016-11Leica Mp-240, 35mm Summilux

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All Guest WelcomeLeica SL, Vario-Elmarit 24-90

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And now, the bonus three images we are compelled to add.

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Leica SL, 50mm Noctilux

And finally, we cannot publish favorite color images for 2016 without this one of our favorite girl, Violet, who died in September.

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Radiohead Tops Tulip Frenzy’s 2016 Top 10 List

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2016 by johnbuckley100

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Disastrous years, moments when the entire world threatens to unravel, produce the best music.  The bumper crops of great albums arise in years like 1968, 1974, 1979, 1998, 2001, 2008, as if the one mercy we may be granted as life unspools is a good soundtrack.

And so it is that as the gang at Tulip Frenzy sat down to discuss the best records of 2016 — a year we all concluded may have been the worst one for our nation since 1862, or at least 1930 — we found more albums in contention for our heralded Top 10 List than in any 12-month cohort since we began formally compiling our lists earlier this century.

Here’s whose albums didn’t make the list, so you get a sense of the competitive sweepstakes: Angel Olsen, Parquet Courts, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Fleshtones, The  Mekons, The Rolling Stones, Kevin Morby, Cheena, Black Mountain, Heavens Gateway Drugs, Feels, Wire, Ty Segall, and Capsula.  Longtime readers of Tulip Frenzy will recognize several of these bands as among our very faves, and each produced remarkable recs we listened to over and over and over again.  We considered Capsula’s glorious Santa Rosa — the most melodic punk album since their 2006 Songs & Circuits — literally until this morning, and in the end couldn’t make room for it.  Kevin Morby’ s Singing Saw was the soundtrack to our springtime.  And yet none of these records made the cut.  Wow, so who did?

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The #10 Album Of 2016: Morgan Delt’s Phase Zero

In August it was abundantly clear that Phase Zero by Morgan Delt was going to be our Psych Album of The Year, virtually guaranteeing its placement on the 2016 Top 10 List. We called it a “gorgeous, weird, melodic, inventive, soothing, trippy self-produced album in which he plays all the instruments.” It held up in the months since, and his show at DC9 revealed him to be a young beanpole hippy with flowing red locks and a kickass band.  We suspect he’ll move up the list in the months and years ahead.

The #9 Album of 2016: David Bowie’s Blackstar

Like a great grey owl showing up on your fencepost, David Bowie’s death coming at the very beginning of the year was a portent of the disaster to come.  That Blackstar was released literally the day before we got news of his untimely end was like a cruel joke, or the most brilliant performance-art piece of all time.  At that time, we wrote, “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.”  Some have put Blackstar at the top of their 2016 list.  We think as a concept it definitely deserves that, but as music, it was merely great — especially the way Bowie’s coda brought him back to his teenage enthusiasm for the jazz of Gary Mulligan.  But whereas 2013’s The Next Day was high on our list, we reduce Bowie’s finale to a few amazing songs, but not anywhere close to the best complete album of 2016.

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The #8 Album of 2016: Quilt’s Plaza

We called Plaza Quilt’s masterpiece when it was released in February, and it has held up well against walk-off home runs, 50-yard field goals into the wind, and the hot streaks of others. “These guys are so much more than an art-school project,” we wrote then, referencing how they were formed in Boston a few years back.  Plaza is to Quilt’s last album, Held In Splendor, as Revolver was to Rubber Soul: paradoxically more commercial and slick, and yet more experimental and ambitious. Anna Fox Rochinski’s voice is in a category with Syd Straw and Neko Case — yeah, I just wrote that — and when she is singing the 60% of the Quilt’s songs that joyfully get released, this Beatles-influenced band is transcendent.

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The #7 Album of 2016: P.J. Harvey’s The Hope Six Demonstration Project

We had high hopes for Polly Jean’s album, which was mostly focused on her drive-by tour of the worst nabes in our hometown of D.C..  After all, in 2012, even though we ultimately gave Radiohead the top honors in Tulip Frenzy’s Top 10 List (c), her Let England Shake claimed runner-up honors, and we believe her Stories Of The City, Stories Of The Sea could well be the previous decade’s strongest work.  But it was weird that, as powerful as this new record was, it seemed like a slight misstep.  We said at the time, “when she creates an album this beautiful, and this powerful, she’s revealing, once again, that Polly Jean Harvey is one of the very few artists in 2016 using rock’n’roll to grapple with the world at this level.” Yet over the course of the year, we played it far less than we expected, given how much we adored the original song released from it, “The Wheel.”  This is a powerful, serious work of art, but it’s placement in the back half of this list reveals it to be a little less enjoyable than we would have wished.

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The #6 Album of 2016: Cosmonauts’ A-OK

We have long had a soft spot in our heart for the So-Cal psych-punk band Cosmonauts, and with A-OK they produced not only the summer’s soundtrack, they broke through as purveyors of catchy tunes thundering along with a power and pace that would make fellow Orange County natives Anton Newcombe and Ty Segall equally proud.  A long time ago, when explaining why Elvis Costello got more airplay than the Clash, Joe Strummer said, “Well Elvis, maybe he sings a bit better than we do.” Singing is not Cosmonauts’ greatest strength, though it is serviceable enough.  But the comparison to Strummer’s Clash, yeah, works.

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The #5 Album of 2016: Tim Presley’s The Wink

Tim Presley has been at or near the top of our Top 10 list each year since his Darker My Love took top honors in 2010.  We thought White Fence’s To The Recently Found Innocent was not only the best rec of 2014, it has secured a permanent place in the canon, possibly our favorite album of the past decade.  We know that White Fence could rock hard live, even as Presley’s home recordings under that name could  at times seem incomplete, low-fi psychedelic noodling.  When his collaboration with Cate LeBon, under the name Drinks, came out in 2015, we feared the worst, for it seemed like a return to the bad habit of meandering, underpowered preciousness.  But woo hoo, The Wink was a remarkable “solo album” from a guy whose White Fence recs are mostly made with just him, alone with his cat, and occasionally Ty Segall.  In October we wrote, “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…”

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The #4 Album of 2016: Psychic Ills Inner Journey Out

We were really unprepared for what a great record Inner Journey Out was, writing upon its early summer release, “Inner Journey Out is for playing when heading on a road trip to Big Bend, to Marfa, on that long thin ribbon of highway wending toward the West as the shimmering heat makes the cactus liquid.” The fact that Tres Warren and Elisabeth Hart are transplanted Texans living in New York partially accounts for how their gritty, urban Velvets-inluenced sound also has one foot firmly planted in country blues.  With Hope Sandoval singing marvelously on “I Don’t Mind,” it was easy to think of Inner Journey Out having a spiritual link to Mazzy Star, but the album this most reminded us of, in a strange way, was Exile On Main Street, an ambitious, sprawling work that never drifted far from classic American roots-music idioms.  Every time we played this record, it brought a smile to our face, and from mid-summer on, we were chanting, “Top 5, baby.  This one’s a contender.”

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The #3 Album of 2016: Alejandro Escovedo’s Burn Something Beautiful

For more than 20 years, every Alejandro Escovedo album has been a source of solace, an inspiration.  He is so perfectly placed to appeal to us: an Austin roots-rock hero cum occasional chamber rocker who played in the late ’70s San Francisco punk band The Nuns, and growing up loved Bowie and Mott The Hoople as much as we did.  But after 2010’s great Street Songs of Love, which was the #2 album on our list that year, we wondered if Al would again be so inspired.  What a joy it was to discover that in Burn Something Beautiful, he may have produced his best record of this century.  We exulted when it came out, “anyone who has ever thrilled to hear how Alejandro assembles a classic rock’n’roll album based upon his experiences and unique vantage point will see this one for what it is: his best album in this late hard-rocking phase of an amazing career.” A big part of the joy this record inspired was the sound of his band, with Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey, mainstays of Robyn Hitchcock’s recent albums, at its core.  The strength of Burn Something Beautiful was Al himself, whose great songwriting and, on this one, fantastic voice made this a record we will playing for as long as we’ve played With These Hands and Thirteen Years.

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The #2 Album of 2016: Thee Oh Sees A Weird Exits

John Dwyer, it turns out, is an old fashioned band leader, a figure as much like Miles Davis as the punk and garage rocker he started out being.  On A Weird Exits (and its shorter companion, An Odd Entrances, which came out last month), Dwyer cranks up the latest incarnation of Thee Oh Sees — a double-drum, bass + all Dwyer combo — to take us on a musical journey through psych, prog rock, jazz, and even blues.  If you tuned in even as late as 2011’s Castlemania, you might never have predicted what this particular Oh Sees album would sound like.  Of course, tucked way in the back of the latest issue of Uncut, we get a sense of Dwyer’s heterodox sensibility, for in a feature entitled, “My Life In Music,” the records he calls out as his favorites are by Can, Grand Funk Railroad, Robert Fripp, Hiragi Fukuda, Michael Yonkers, Uriah Heap, Eric Dolphy, and Henry Flynt & The Insurrections.  What, you were expecting The Germs and Pere Ubu?  I might have… But nah, this guy goes way deeper.  As we noted in August when A Weird Exits came out, it’s time to take John Dwyer seriously.  “In just a 30-minute snippet of time, such a short interlude in your life, John Dwyer has taken us from the most exciting garage rock of the epoch to deep, moving contemplation. The guy has it all, including originality. A Weird Exits, its title rendered ambiguous by the extra “s”, is not only the best Oh Sees album since Floating Coffin, it should be that album that makes audiences of all stripes sit up and notice. It’s time to take John Dwyer seriously.”

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The #1 Album of 2016: Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool

The only flaw on this album was the absence of a hyphen between “Moon” and “Shaped” in its title.  By including concert staples such as “Identikit” and “True Love Waits,” A Moon Shaped Pool felt a lot like Radiohead finishing up old business before it could move on.  With Jonny Greenwood’s orchestration of amazing songs like “Burn The Witch,” Radiohead came as close as can be to Steve Reich territory, which just confirms they’re playing at a different level from all contemporaries.  We gave The King Of Limbs #1 honors in 2012, even as other critics exalted P.J. Harvey’s Let England Shake and we still think we were right.  With the addition this year, though, of In Rainbows Disk 2 — an unexpected release of companion songs from the 2007 original — Radiohead has spent more time in our earbuds than probably any band other than Bob Dylan, which fans o’ T Frenzy will recognize as a profound statement.  We loved A Moon Shaped Pool, recognized it right away for what it is, a peerless, non-rock’n’roll album that added up to the best music of 2016.

 

Susan Burnstine Is To Photography As William Burroughs Was To Words

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 7, 2016 by johnbuckley100

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Last week, we were enjoying the winter issue of Black + White Photography when we came across the work of Susan Burnstine.  Burnstine has just published her second book of images, Absence of Being, and the magazine feature introduced us to the work of an artist of such power, we literally sat up so we could look more closely at her images.

In an essay introducing the book, Burnstine tells the story of how her mother, helping Susan cope with childhood nightmares, encouraged her to turn to art, which in turn led to photography.  Seeing her work, it seems her dreams and her work are interchangeable.  She is an artist with a searing vision who just happens to use cameras to capture what she wants to show the world.

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How can someone capture work that looks like this?  She has had to invent her own cameras, using an inventor’s magpie genius, combining real camera equipment with toy camera lenses and the like.  The results are original, stunning, the kind of work that makes one fall in love with photography all over again.

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In an essay that follows the images laid out in Absence of Being, the curator Del Zogg invokes two of the originators of photography, Daguerre and William Fox Talbot, describing the lineage of techniques they handed down in order for the world to be faithfully captured on silver halide, and now CMOS sensors.  “Susan Burnstine,” he writes, “has gone beyond the efforts of Daguerre or Talbot in her reinvention of photography.”

And so she has.  Some years ago, so long ago we can’t remember who wrote it, we read that William Burroughs was the first person to do something fundamentally different with words since William Shakespeare.  It is clear to us that Susan Burnside is to photography as Burroughs was to words.

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