Archive for May, 2012

Color, Not Monochrom

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on May 12, 2012 by johnbuckley100

Leica M8, Nocti f/1.

If “Dig!” Were Made Today, The Brian Jonestown Massacre Would Win

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on May 12, 2012 by johnbuckley100

Eight years after Dig! won Ondi Timoner awards and admiration for her depiction of diverging paths between The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols, you’d probably expect that the Dandys would be producing the superior music.  You’d be wrong.  As does not happen all that often, we have this Spring a clear bake off between the two bands, with BJM having released a fine return to form, Aufheben, and the Dandys releasing This Machine, another in a long line of disappointments stretching back to… well, about the time that Dig! came out and declared Courtney Taylor Taylor the “winner” over notorious BJM frontman fuck-up Anton Newcombe.

Look, no one at Tulip Frenzy is going to declare that the last few batches of BJM music were on a par with such earlier albums as Take It From The Man. Who Killed Sgt. Pepper and other works from the late ‘aughts sounded like Newcombe was recording on an old cassette deck inside an empty Icelandic bank vault after a wild night of MDA out on the glaciers.  But Aufheben stands up to the BJM’s best work from the ’90s.  “I Want To Hold Your Other Hand” sounds like an outtake from Tepid Peppermint, and the brilliant closer, “Blue Order New Monday” picks up where “Super-Sonic” left off.  A band sounding like it once did does not necessarily signal greatness, but in the case of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, we are taking about a return to sounding like Brian Jones gigging with the Pipes of Joujouka at a renaissance fair, that special mix of psychedelic folk that comes from mixing mushrooms with Mandrax at Andy Warhol’s Factory.  And that’s a good thing.  Welcome back, guys!  The move to Kreuzberg or Mitte has been good for Anton, the choice of Berlin as a place to live showing up in Aufheben‘s first song, “Panic In Babylon,” which could be the background music in the hippest donor kebab restaurant in the city.

The Dandys, on the other hand?  Ooof.  Some time back the lovely Zia McCabe took to the comments section of Tulip Frenzy to plead for a reconsideration of our verdict that the Dandys had grown to kinda suck.  We were sympathetic to her argument, because we loved the band. And we anxiously awaited the evidence that they still mattered. But while Aufheben sounds like it was carefully handcrafted by a band of psych-folk artisans living in a post-apocalyptic flat near Alexanderplatz, This Machine seems phoned in, lazy, flat, uninspired.  Even on the album’s two or three good songs, the Dandys sound, at best, generic.  We never thought they’d be generic because FM radio is so passé.  This makes us sad.

Which brings us back to Dig!, and how Courtney got to do the victor’s dictation of history — he literally got to do the voice-over on how, sadly, he’d loved Anton and thought he was a genius, but the evidence was all too clear that he was a junkie who would never get his act together.  And here we are, in 2012, and one band is vital and one band not.  The addled tortoise on the autobahn has just smoothly passed the Portland hare.  Life is funny sometimes.  Go buy Aufheben at once.

Leica M Monochrom Available In July

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 11, 2012 by johnbuckley100

Leica M8, old Nocti (f/1).

We love the fact that the new member of Leica’s M family was codenamed “Henri” prior to the announcement yesterday in Berlin. For surely the spirit of Henri Cartier-Bresson is evoked in a digital M with a black & white sensor.  We anxiously await the Leica M10, and for now will avoid the temptation to buy the M Monochrom, as unlike Cartier-Bresson, we think in color, not black & white.  But hats off to Leica, which in the past few years has been completely revived, both as a brand and a business, by Dr. Andreas Kauffman and his colleagues and employees.

For a nice look at what this camera can do, check out Jono Slack’s report from China, where he was able to take it along for the ride.

Spiritualized At The 930 Club, May 10, 2012

Posted in Music with tags , , on May 11, 2012 by johnbuckley100

The band’s leader, for years bedeviled by drug and health issues, stands off to the side, with evident disdain either for playing frontman or for the crowd.  Brian Jonestown Massacre circa 2009?  No, Spiritualized last night.

It was a badly paced set — we could have done without the long transition between “Rated X” and “Electric Mainline” — but when they were on, ladies and gentlemen, we were rocket-launched through space.  With the exception of “Hey Jane,” which opened, and was filled with air and space so that its tight motorik tempo allowed the engine to breath, the great songs from Sweet Heart Sweet Light reminded us that the five-piece band, plus singers, could have used the further emollient of horns.  But the arrangements were fantastic — we were completely fooled by the intro to “Heading For The Top,” thinking Pierce had gone all the way back to Lazer Guided Melodies to play “If I Were With Her Now.”

Jason Pierce seemed strong, for someone who’s medical records have played out on the pages of music magazines for years.  He’s a big guy, with a head the size of Helmut Kohl’s, and one wished his generous volubility with interviewers would have accommodated more than a single “thank you” as they left the stage.  But when we heard “She Kissed Me (It Felt Like A Hit)” followed by “Come Together,” all was forgiven.

The Leica Store In D.C. Officially Opens

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 3, 2012 by johnbuckley100

Leica M9, 35mm Summilux

The first store in the United States fully owned and operated by Leica Camera officially opened last night with a cocktail party followed by a quite wonderful talk by famed photojournalist Peter Turnley.  Turnley exhibited keen intelligence and great empathy, reminding a full complement of Leicaphiles that photography is about heart, and sharing what you see in the world, not merely gizmolust.  But of course,  it also is partly about gizmolust, which is why we post the above image.

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