Archive for June, 2013

The Lyrics From “Loving Cup”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 30, 2013 by johnbuckley100

We love the verse that goes:

“I’m the man who walks the hillside in the sweet summer sun.
I’m the man that brings you roses when you ain’t got none.
Well I can run and jump and fish, but I won’t fight
You if you want to push and pull with me all night.”

Leica M, 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph.

From Snow King (1 of 1)

Secret Colours’ “Peach” Drips With Hooks and Talent

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , on June 30, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Chicago’s Secret Colours have just released their second album, Peachand it is everything that name implies — sweet, tasty, and a satisfying summer treat.  Their first album, Secret Colours, had sufficient reverb to qualify them to play at next week’s Bathysphere: A Psychonautical Voyage, wherein they’re paired with “new gaze” and neo-psychedelic bands like First Communion Afterparty. But if we are to rave about Peach — and get ready, cuz we’re about to — let’s first clarify what kind of band Secret Colours really are, and what they aren’t.

Based on Peach alone, they’re not a psychedelic band.  They are, at their roots, a riff-resplendent blues band with a gloss of pop chops that bear a stronger resemblance to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Blur than to any of the bands they’ll play with in Minneapolis on Friday night.  But that’s good company to be in, and on Peach, there are no fewer than 10 songs you could easily hope would make it onto radio playlists from the ’60s – the Aughts.  Tommy Evans doesn’t have a distinctive voice, he just has a voice you could listen to for hours.  Similarly, guitarist Brian Stach cannot play a single note you don’t want to listen to.  Producer Brian Deck (Modest Mouse) has managed to harness good songwriting, great guitar playing, and charismatic singing to create a sound that, measure for measure, is always surprising.  “Wow,” you say, “I did not see that (riff/solo/shift) coming.”  Did we mention they are really young, and this is but their second album?

Since we’ve been playing the album, uh, nonstop for days, we do wonder whether they’ve simply got us under their spell, a band like, say, the Vines or maybe Jet, that, because they know how to pull together hooks and riffs and a purring voice into sonic candy, they lead you to gorge on empty calories, and you hate yourself in the morning.  Pretty sure that’s not the case here, as long as you accept them for what they are.

Bottom line: Secret Colours is a band like the Plimsouls that beguile you on the basis, essentially, of strong songwriting, singing, and guitar playing, and that’s enough.  Yes, some of the underlying song structure can, for a moment, make them sound like a generic ’90s rock band. They maybe could have pared the album by three songs.  But cast those doubts aside.  This is a band that is as confident, though nowhere near as obnoxious, as Oasis was two albums in.  Peach is an album you can play over and over again and still want to hear more.  They are much more commercial than a true alternative band.  But that’s just fine.  It’s a good thing when an excellent band becomes huge, as we — and they — have every reason to believe they’ll be.

Hey! It’s Almost The 4th of July!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on June 29, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Get your X and Dave Alvin records set up on the jukebox.  Grab your Galaxie 500 cds.  Get ready, because it is almost the 4th of July.

Leica M8, 50mm Summilux.

Jax4thWig (1 of 1)

An Update On Henry Badowski

Posted in Music with tags , on June 29, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Last night, after writing about Henry Badowski and his great, lost album, Life Is A Grand, we wrote him an email, addressed to the Gmail account listed on the only official website for him we could find.  We asked him to send some reply letting us know whether there were any plans, at long last, to get the album released digitally.  Apparently, we wrote quickly and called the album Life Is Grand.

This morning we got a reply from Henry. “My LP is called Life Is A Grand.”

Well, there now.  He’s alive and answering email.  Let’s hope he’s well, and fervent prayers go out to both Henry and to record labels, hoping he has new music we can hear sometime.

First Communion Afterparty Reunite For Next Week’s Bathysphere Psychefest

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2013 by johnbuckley100

First Communion Afterparty were (are?) the best band to emerge from the squall of the past decade’s neo-psychedelica, and their break-up, two years ago — before releasing Earth Heat Sound, their follow up to their brilliant debut, Sorry For All The Mondays and to Those Who Can’t Sing — was a bummer of the first rank.  But now comes an Owsley-pure jolt of good news: not only are FCAP going to be appearing at next Friday’s Bathysphere: A Psychonautical Voyage, but in the weeks ahead, they are going to perform again, when they release, posthumously if in the flesh, Earth Heat Sound.

The Bathysphere psychefest at First Avenue in Minneapolis, promises to be the best spot on the globe you could be on July 5th, with Dean and Britta headlining, but also our faves Magic Castles, Flavor Crystals, and even Sonic Boom of Spaceman 3 appearing.  Secret Colours, a young Chicago band whose astonishing album Peach has just been released, are a fitting addition to a lineup that also includes stalwarts The Volta Sound.  If you are anywhere between Pittsburg and Sioux Falls on the 4th, get in your rainbow-colored VW bus and head to Minneapolis.

We know about next week’s Bathysphere, and the glorious news about First Communion Afterparty, due to the tip provided by  the very helpful Twin City denizen Ben Schultz, who not only gave us this info, but also steered us toward Is/Is, one of the FCAP offshoot bands.  Additionally, Ben turned us on to Mojo Pin-Up, a presumably deceased combo including Liam Watkins of FCAP with members of the Magic Castles, whose tailings, deposited across the web, are tantalizing.

The other FCAP offshoot to keep your eye on is Driftwood Pyre, whose early demos capture the same magic as First Communion Afterparty — that same melding of Jefferson Airplane and the Brian Jonestown Massacre that gets our heart fluttering faster their our cranial synapses.

So, lots to chew on.  And here are your instructions: First Communion Afterparty return to play next weekend, and will finally release the album we’ve waited for since 2008; set a reminder to buy Earth Heat Sound, and if you haven’t already listened to Sorry For All The Mondays, aw, man, what are you waiting for?  Set your GPS on next Friday’s Bathysphere psychefest in Minneapolis.  Immediately go buy Secret Colours’ amazing new album Peach. Track down Mojo Pin-Up.  Wait for new happenings from Is/Is, and get excited, now, for Driftwood Pyre.

Thing are looking bright, no?

Is Henry Badowski’s “Life Is A Grand” THE Great Lost Album of All Time?

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , on June 28, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Gather my children, and you shall hear, of possibly the greatest record from the post-punk era that you can’t find on iTunes, can’t find on Spotify, can’t find anywhere but in the vinyl stacks of… mature people who have record players.

Back when Miles Copeland was leveraging IRS Records and using his power base as manager of his brother’s band, The Police, to bring good new music to an audience — succeeding with R.E.M., less so with The Fleshtones — one of the British acts whose record — there was only one — that he released to the world was Henry Badowski.  Life Is A Grand came out in 1981, and in the States at least, was discovered by approximately three people.  Happily we were one, and it brings a certain joy to tell you that just today, for the first time since the early Reagan years, we have dusted off the record, ascertained that our phonograph works, and put it on.

It holds up!  With just James Stevenson on guitar and bass, Badowski sang, played keyboards, programmed the drum machine, and played sax.  The record is like a mix of Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy and Bowie’s Low –– though it is so endearingly sweet, you have to imagine Bowie on ecstasy, not blow.  It is almost entirely upbeat, and the rhythm section could easily have been the Moxhams from Young Marble Giant — minimalist, spare — underneath Farfisas and simple keyboards.  All we see of Badowski from the album cover is a fey, Bryan Ferry head of hair posed near a hedge on one of those great British country gardens.  And that’s all we’ve seen of him for 30 years or more; he disappeared, at least on this side of the pond.  And the record?  It disappeared too.

If today you heard on the radio “My Face,” which leads off the album, you’d think it was a contemporary band that owed a debt to Eno, which is never a bad thing.  “My Face” was a minor British radio hit, but it’s “Henry’s In Love” that has kept spinning in our head for lo these many years, a gorgeous British pop song with a melody XTC’s Andy Partridge would have made too angular, would have stripped it of its languorous charm.  “Swimming With The Fish In The Sea,” has a bass line programmed by Bach after one too many lagers and is another song that you’d swear was an Eno outtake; if I put it on and claimed it was the lost Eno single, “Seven Deadly Finns,” you’d take it at face value.  “Silver Trees” sounds like it could have been sung by Wire’s Graham Lewis on a champagne bender.  “This Was Meant To Be” is somewhere between Berlin Trilogy Bowie and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark.

We could go on and describe each song lovingly.  Let’s stop here and posit this: if you have dirt on an executive at Rhino Records, if you have compromising pictures of one of the Copelands dropping off those CIA guns to the Syrian rebels, ask them, nicely, to figure out a way to get Henry Badowski’s Life Is A Grand into a digital second life.  It will make your day, as rediscovering it today made mine.

Oh Yes, Getting Closer To The Big Day

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on June 28, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Almost to our favorite holiday, at least for picture taking.  Washington, D.C. 2012.  The previous one was Jackson, WY, 2009.  Leica M9, 35mm Summilux FLE.


Rapidly Approaching The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 26, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Leica M8, 50mm Summilux.  And more where this came from…


Multitasking (Or Four Arms To Hold You)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 23, 2013 by johnbuckley100

With apologies to the Beatles, and their original title for Help (“Eight Arms To Hold You”.) Leica M, 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph, ND filter.


Our Idea Of A Summer Blockbuster: “Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me”

Posted in Music with tags , , on June 23, 2013 by johnbuckley100

So we don’t have a release date on the soon-to-be-released documentary on Big Star, Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Mebut let us assert that in a perfect universe, this would be the movie you’d watch in your favorite drive-in, as the Super Moon rose and that couple necked in the back of a car.

We’ve been thinking a lot about Big Star lately, as the lines coverage, and the coverage of the William Eggleston exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum remind us of that time, in 1974, we walked into a record store in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and hearing the jangle of Big Star’s Radio City album, we asked for the record and espied, also for the first time, that great Eggleston image on the cover.  We bought the record, and thus had about a three-year head start on everyone in getting to understand the greatness of Alex Chilton.  See, it was really only in 1978, after the band had broken up and what then was called Third was released (later given the intended name of Sister Lovers) that the rock crit brigades came out in force to ensure we knew of Big Star’s greatness.  By then, Chilton had spent a summer gigging in New York with Chris Stamey playing in his band, but the magic that was Big Star was over — at least until the early ’90s when Chilton and Stephens began to tour with the Posies rounding out the lineup, eventually releasing a (not very good) album in 2005.

A zillion words have been spilled on Big Star, some of them here — wherein we tell the story of that drink we had with Chilton in 1980 — and some of them here — wherein we write about the impact Big Star had on music, culture, and most important, our teenage life — but let us calmly state: in the great chart of influential bands, if the progenitors of much that we love can be seen to have started with the Beatles, Stones, Led Zepplin, and the Velvet Underground, many — so many — of the bands we have loved since the mid-Seventies owe their eye teeth and first-born children to the music made by Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Jody Stephens, and Andy Hummel over the course of a few short years.

Check out the links above, and go see the movie.  In a just world, they really would have been big stars, and this really would be a summer blockbuster.

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