Archive for March, 2011

Capsula’s “In The Land Of The Silver Souls” Breaches U.S. Shores

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on March 16, 2011 by johnbuckley100

Capsula is a throwback to an era of punk rock that may not ever have existed, a remnant of a Platonic world where all songs are played fast, where the drummer keeps an animalistic beat for hours on end, a place where the pogoing guitarist can fill the stage and stage the fills with melody and soul as the girl bassist with the bunny ears rocks harder than Izzy Stradlin. They are, in short, a revelation, Buenos Aires expats who moved to Bilbao, Spain because in South America, in Tom Verlaine’s words, the distance it kills you, and there was no way to foster a career having to cross the Andes just to get a gig in Santiago or Punta Arenas.

When Songs & Circuits came out five years ago, we could scarcely believe our luck, pinched ourselves to find a modern punk band that played fast and offered steaming parilla of smoking riffs and still poured on melody like it was hot sauce. Rising Mountains had a few points deducted for sameness, for the too familiar problem of punk bands that evolve into generic rock. It was still hands down better than 9 out of 10 rock albums that came out that year.  They then traded favors with the esteemed Ivan Julian — after he produced their album, they cut his, serving as a high-class backup band on The Naked Flame. For the past year we have waited to find out if their third album would be a step forward.  (Others, released in South America earlier in their career, have been as lost to the world as an Incan alphabet).  And now we know: In The Land Of The Silver Souls, officially released here on April 4th, but magically available in the iTunes Store this morning, was delivered from Old Europe back to the New World.  March 16th, 2011 will not go down in history as a great day for Planet Earth, except… Capsula’s new album is precious metal, 14-carat pure and good.

The album kicks off, as Songs & Circuits did, with an indirect assault.  “Wild Fascination” stirs the blood, but it’s not til Martin Guevara wraps a guitar riff ’round Coni Dutchess’ ample bass and Nacho Villarejo kicks “Town Of Sorrow” into overdrive that we see plates sliding off the Bilbao Guggenheim as every Basque bastard starts to rock.  By “Hit’n’Miss,” a song that embodies the entire Capsula oeuvre in a single cut — Cali pyschedelica, garage rock, a frisson of Leaving Trains tunefulness — we’re convinced that Capsula’s new one dissolves into a salubrious groove.

The problem with punk bands, traditionally, is they either keep knocking their heads against the same brick alley wall, or they try to get somewhere.  Too often bands you really love — let’s take the not-quite-punk, but of that era classic L.A. band The Dream Syndicate as an example — get good enough to really play well but what they choose to play is… rock.  And your heart breaks.  This could have happened to the Clash, when Give ‘Em Enough Rope followed their epochal launch, but fortunately they then figured out how to turn to musical idioms — New Orleans syncopation, say, or rockabilly —  to infuse their music with its antecedent roots.  Happily Capsula’s going the Clash route, or should we say the Clash roots.  We hear occasional underpinnings of blues here and there, and in the daring “Communication,” they quite wondrously come close to the sound of Mr. James Osterberg’s “Penetration.”

Over the years, we’ve obsessed over the Fleshtones, the Mekons, Luna, and Television, the Stones and the Clash, the Brian Jonestown Massacre.  At the dawn of what appears to be a great year in rock’n’roll music, we’ve just played an album by a band that has emerged as our au courant fave, the Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band In The World, Circa 2011.   We’ve played Capsula’s new one maybe three times. We suspect we’ll be playing it for years to come.  If we’re lucky.  Capsula is playing at SXSW, like tomorrow.  If you want to know where the spirit of real rock’n’roll now lives, it’s in The Land Of The Silver Souls. And it prompts us to challenge First Communion Afterparty: your move.

The Real Tulip Frenzy Begins

Posted in Uncategorized on March 12, 2011 by johnbuckley100

Hat tip to friend Will Runyon.

On Eve Of SXSW, World Conquest, Wild Flag Waves O’er DC

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on March 11, 2011 by johnbuckley100

Supergroups are like some second marriages, in which adults, no longer young and quite so foolish, find their proper partners.  So it seems to be with Wild Flag, in which Mary Timony of Helium, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney, and Rebecca Cole of The Minders bounce around like ping pong balls about to be drawn in a winning lottery.  For while Helium and Sleater-Kinney had wide followings, our first exposure to Wild Flag would indicate they could be huge.

Anyone who’s listened to the antecedent bands would have recognized not just traces, but huge genetic thumb prints all over Wild Flag’s sound last night at DC’s Black Cat.  In both Helium and her own Mary Timony Band, Timony’s capable of garage-rocking guitar pop, off-kilter and running the gamut between sweet and snarling.  Brownstein and Weiss were two-thirds of one of the smartest bands of the ’90s, and Weiss’s propulsive drumming behind Brownstein’s energetic guitar textures updated the melodic punk rock of Sleater-Kinney in a different context.

For a band that has played less than a dozen gigs, with one songwriter (Timony) based in Washington, the other in Portlandia (Brownstein, the star, with Fred Armisen, of Portlandia), songs gelled nicely.  This is a band that has the wildness of rock’n’roll youth and the maturity of a graduate student before it even goes into the studio to record its first album.  It’s hard to describe songs you’ve never heard before, and for which you don’t even know the titles, but let’s just say there aren’t many bands that can make you think of Lou Reed and Jimi Hendrix, punk rock and the Haight-Ashbury all within the span of two or three songs.

It was something of a homecoming and farewell for Mary Timony, who in DC is more like Mary From The Block than a Riot Grrrl, and who has had an influence on an entire generation of young rockers.  It was great to see her here with the band she’s been working with cross-country.  We have more than an inkling that Wild Flag is going to take SXSW by storm, and that their freak flag is going to be raised above the world, in a conquest as sure as their performance last night before a sold out crowd in Washington.

Women On The Verge: Wild Flag Plays DC

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on March 11, 2011 by johnbuckley100

Great show at the Black Cat.  More tomorrow.  Mary Timony (l) and Carrie Brownstein (r). Leica D-Lux 4.

Wondering Why Capsula’s “In The Land Of Silver Souls” Is Not Yet Released Here

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on March 10, 2011 by johnbuckley100

As of yesterday, it’s out in Europe, where they live.

Given that Capsula is The Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band In The World (Circa 2011), and that they actually hail from B.A., it makes sense to feature a recent photo from our Buenos Aires correspondent — again!

Leica D-Lux 4.

 

UPDATE: For those looking for In The Land of The Silver Souls  go here.

Wye Oak Blossoms With “Civilian”

Posted in Music with tags , , , on March 9, 2011 by johnbuckley100

Baltimore’s Wye Oak is a band so ambitious that it’s produced its (first) masterpiece while there are still no more than five rings around its arboreal trunk.  Civilian builds on 2009’s The Knot in unexpected ways, and reveals that The Decemberists choosing of Wye Oak as the opening act on its winter tour was recognition of a sapling now grown into a mighty tree.

We’ve never been big fans of two-person bands, from the Method Actors to the White Stripes, because live the sound of drums and guitar without the flaps tied down by the bass imperfectly protects the music from the buffeting of sonic wind.  But Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack aren’t just ambitious, they’re visionaries too, and rather than compromise with a third musician, they’ve come to the Centaur’s solution of having Stack play both drums and bass (keyboard.)  Um, at the same time.  At the Beacon Theater in January, when they opened for The Decemberists, we marveled at how well it worked, Stack holding down, if not a heavy bottom, at least a sufficiency of rhythm, one arm bashing the drum kit, the other stretched to the keyboard.  We’re guessing he’s also good at simultaneous translations of English to Mandarin, can program in C++, and never was bored as a child, since he could play catch without needing another kid to come over.

Wasner can also do circus tricks.  She can strum like Peter Buck and head into Distortionland like Thurston Moore.  On perhaps Civilian‘s most brilliant song, “The Alter,” Wasner embellishes upon Air’s “Surfing On A Rocket,” which itself was a take on Eno’s “St. Elmo’s Fire,with a sudden efflorescence into Frippertronics.  Wow.  We dare you to listen to “The Alter” and not go download this whole amazing album.  Wasner’s voice starts in Lida Husick alto depths, and can maybe range a little too far into Cranberries territory, but the effect of her singing, the mastery of  her guitar textures, and Andy Stack’s utility infielding should, with Civilian, introduce the proverbial wider audience to the charms of The Free State’s greatest gift to music since David Byrne.

Unfortunately their show Friday night at the Black Cat is sold out.  (Although for those of us with day jobs going to see Mary Timony play in Wild Flag Thursday night, maybe that’s a blessing.)  This isn’t the last chance we’ll have to see Wye Oak, though next time it’s likely them headlining at The Beacon.  Amazing.

The Tulip Frenzy Is Just Weeks Away

Posted in Uncategorized on March 8, 2011 by johnbuckley100

iPhone, found art.

These crazy cats sure seem to get the joys of the season.

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