Leica M, 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph. 2013.
Archive for May, 2014
Woo hoo! As Tulip Frenzy readers know, we have wished for a while that Tim Presley would bottle up that awesome White Fence sound in a legitimate studio, with a legitimate drummer, and not just record album after album in the comforts of his sleeping nook. And — where were we? — we found erstwhile White Fence collaborator Ty Segall has persuaded the boy to follow our instructions to a tee. Here’s how Presley put it:
Fear, anger, pain, anxiety. Guilty! I needed something new. I needed to be free and innocent. I was floating in my room. Sick of the wall Bounce-A-LuLa. I could not get high. I wanted to put some songs in someone else’s room. I wanted to see what they sounded like with a real drummer. I wanted to see what it would sound like using an Aliens ear. For a lack of a cooler/humble word, Ty Segall “produced” this album.
I had to choose the songs. We then went into Ty’s Fiat-sized garage and recorded them. He placed the microphones, hit record and played drums on some songs. Then Nick Murray was called in to finish the rest of the drums. Nick was perfect, seeing as he’d been a solid member of the live group, and I had played demo versions of most of these for him during car rides. This all was a bit different to the WF formula. I had to put dates on a calendar. It forced me to pick the best songs of the litter, and apply those to the tools I had: Ty Segall, Nick Murray, musical instruments & tape. We then dumped all that LA jive into Eric Bauer’s studio in San Francisco. Added some things, and then Ty mixed it all up. I was the farmer and this was Ty’s soup. He somehow knows exactly what I hear.
This record, I had to make a change, not drastic, but a change nonetheless. My room was tired of me, so we took a break, and I fucked some other room.
“Credence of substances, rights of any sex, and situations of finding a place in this world now next. From the drug dealer, to the honest stealer. From the homeless ex-solider to the privileged creep, to the fine Latina walking down the street. We are all guilty of anger, pain, envy & greed…..to the recently found innocent …. we all will soon be freed.”
In their separate realms, Kristin Welchez and her husband Brandon Welchez are responsible for two of the strongest albums of the past year. Under the name Dee Dee Penny, Kristin is the leader of the Dum Dum Girls, whose album Too True helped get us through a long, cold winter. Brandon Welchez’ band Crocodiles released Crimes Of Passion last summer, and it claimed the #5 spot on the 2014 Tulip Frenzy Top Ten List (c), and honestly, if we were to retrofit that list to the number of times since that we’ve played the record, it woulda/coulda/shoulda scored a higher slot.
Crimes Of Passion was a brilliant melding of garage rock and post-Bowie ’80s pop, and Welchez proved himself to be something like the ideal caddy, knowing precisely when to wield that 9 iron (horns), or the sand wedge (Farfisa.) For another band, Crimes of Passion could be a Greatest Hits album, as the entire core of the record was like one radio hit after another.
Too True was also the best Dum Dum Girls album, one of those records that — like the Iggy Pop classic from which Kristin Welchez took her band’s name — probably sounds better on a cheap stereo than an audiophile’s rig. If you take just one song, “Rimbaud Eyes,” you can immediately get a GPS reading on Welchez’ ambitions: she is somewhere in between Patti Smith (the Rimbaud reference) and Debby Harry (the early ’80s pop sound.)
So naturally it makes sense for two married artists producing such a high level of compatible work to put out an album together, and in Haunted Hearts’ Initiation we have about what you’d expect to emanate from pillow talk about fuzztones and pedals. It’s a little bit more of a Dum Dum Girls album than a Crocodiles record, for those keeping score. Which is to say that it lands in the category of mid-’80s MTV pop, catchy as a summer cold, a synth-driven studio record with some of the best features pulled out of each artist’s bag o’ tricks: the two singers’ pleasant voices, Brandon Welchez’s bass-driven pop chops, Kristen’s melodic sense.
We thought of this in the context of those early MTV bands, but there’s another pop reference point easily invoked here: a song like “Johnny Jupiter,” which is the strongest of the eight songs on this short, fun record, could easily have been featured on an iPod ad back in the day when Apple and their ad agency TBW\Chiat\Day were breaking synth-pop bands like Asteroids Galaxy Tour.
Haunted Hearts are not better than the sum of their separate bands’ parts, but Initiation is a fun record. We anxiously await Crocodiles’ follow up to Crimes of Passion, but for now we’re happy to bask in the Welchez’ musical honeymoon.