Archive for March, 2009

Are The Soledad Brothers America’s Greatest Unknown Band?

Posted in Music with tags , , on March 28, 2009 by johnbuckley100

I always thought the Soledad Brothers were members of the Black Panthers.  Turns out, sometime around ten years ago out Toledo way a bunch of white kids gave themselves that moniker and proceeded to release a series of the best Keef-rock records since the Glimmer Twins left St. Tropez. The title of this post is not meant to be ironic: although they haven’t released anything since 2006’s The Hardest Walk, these guys better not have gone the way of George Jackson and the Panthers, or at least if they have gone away, let’s hope they went out in a blaze of fire.  For these guys are Rolling Stonesy good.  They are Fleshtones good.  ‘Nuff said.

Imagine you’re in Heaven, and St. Peter’s showing you around, and he asks you what, in your opinion, would make Heaven an actual Paradise.  So you go for it and say, Well, I kind of wish the Stones hadn’t gone on to suck so bad after Mick Taylor left, and maybe I get in the vault where they keep Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones and all the out-takes from Exile On Main Street.  So St. Peter goes, How would you like to hear a band of young folk from Ohio who actually produced an update to Exile? And you go, Wait, didn’t Liz Phair try that?  Because didn’t she go to school in Ohio?  (This is a complicated fantasy.)  And St. Pete goes, No, man, go to the Universal Juke Box we keep over there, and here are some nickels so you can track down an obscure compilation and listen to The Soledad Brothers”Prodigal Stones Blues,” and damn, boy, if you haven’t fulfilled your definition of musical Heaven.

And of course, the man is right.

Tulip Frenzy Breaks Silence With Photographic Explanation

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Uh, yeah, skiing… up there (well, sort of off stage right.) Leica M8, bottom of Sagebrush Drive, Jackson, WY.


Neko Case’s Middle Cyclone’s Great, And For The Right Reasons

Posted in Music with tags , , on March 12, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Sasha Frere-Jones is a pretty great rock critic, but he’s not infallible (cf. his championing Animal Collective.)  And while he gives Neko Case her due, and offers Middle Cyclone the right centrifugal spin in his New Yorker send off, it’s possible he loves her for all the wrong reasons.  He seems to take some pleasure in describing Middle Cyclone as Step Two in Neko’s post-Country incarnation, while also damning with faint praise such an exemplar of that supposed past period as Blacklisted. Well, now.

What was so great about Blacklisted, why it was such a revelation, was not just because it proved that Neko missed her calling as a comic novelist.  It was the way Neko and those high desert desperadoes, the fellas in Calexico and Giant Sand, were as well put together as a rattle and a snake.  Seven years later, they’re still playing music that is damn near uncategorizable, but sure sounds to me to pay equal debts to Loretta Lynn and Steven Foster, timeless Americana that pays a symmetrical homage to the drainage from the Mississippi and the Colorado.

Frere-Jones points to The Tigers Have Spoken as some break point between early and late Neko.  But that was a live album, with a combo — the Sadies — whose sound is a magpie’s jukebox, one minute channeling the house band from “Hee Haw,” the next mimicking “Foggy Notion”-era Velvet Underground.   Her foray on that tour no more or less represented a break from Blacklisted as would her next sojourn with the New Pornographers.  Fermented apples and mescaline, they both give a kick but there’s no comparison.  Besides, the marvelous Middle Cyclone, starring those same dusty hombres from Calexico and Giant Sand, is completely of a piece — if, I will grant, slightly less twangy –with Blacklisted.

Neko’s never been a strict adherent to rules of melody, which is weird given how gloriously her tomgirl pipes can levitate the church roof.  There is something dark and mysterious to her solo work — sort of like Calexico, and um, Giant Sand.  But this album soars with gothic heartache and angelic beauty, like Flannery O’Connor playing the cello on a warm spring Sunday.

Middle Cyclone’s great, deep, breathtakingly strange.  (Neko’s evocation of “Prison Girls” is as affecting, and odd, as her line on Blacklisted, “We’ve got a lady pilot who’s not afraid to die.”)  But if Sasha thinks it represents a break from the Neko of seven years ago — even though he means it as compliment — he just hasn’t been listening.

U2, The Return of Brian Eno, and Elvis Costello?

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on March 9, 2009 by johnbuckley100

The title track of No Line On The Horizon shows U2 living in another green world, before and after science.  While the album plays at par — since Pop, which is an underrated masterpiece, I’ve considered it a welcome development if there are as many as four songs on any U2 album that you’d put on a playlist — there are some remarkable moments.

The first, of course, is the opening cut, said title track, which basically has U2 playing along, karaoke-style, on top of an Eno loop so timeless, you’d think the little genius had been carrying it around with him on a floppy disk.  

And then there’s this: listen to “Get On Your Boots,” which is a pretty great song.  Listen to Bono’s phrasing.  I carried it around in my head for a week, going, “Where have I heard this before?”  And of course, it came to me: Bono’s singing in the exact rhythm that Elvis Costello snarls out “Pump It Up” from This Year’s Model.   It’s so close, it would fool the Shazam algorithm.   Good stuff, that, and the Eno sampling by, well, Eno is sublime.

Before The Arrival of Spring, Tulips

Posted in Uncategorized on March 8, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Some images can be found here:

Here’s a sample, taken with a Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux, developed in Lightroom2:


It Was 43 Years Ago Today Lennon Was “Bigger Than Jesus”

Posted in Music, Uncategorized with tags , , on March 4, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Check this out, from our friends at

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