Archive for March, 2015

Out Into The Morning Light

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on March 31, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Blacksmith whimsy under parlor curtains.  Usual set up: M-240 and 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph.

Blacksmith Whimsy

Interesting Interview With Damon McMahon of Amen Dunes

Posted in Music with tags on March 31, 2015 by johnbuckley100

The artist and blogger Jane Chardiet (who publishes as Jane Pain) has an interesting interview with Damon McMahon of Amen Dunes.  Read it in full if Love, the amazing album McMahon released last year, affected you half as much as it hit me.  There’s a lot in there, not to mention his talking about wanting to record an album this year that sounds like Warsaw (early Joy Division) meets a countrified Nirvana.

Keep Your Eye On This One

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on March 31, 2015 by johnbuckley100

We see it at last. Spring is here.  Leica M, 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph.

Golden Gate Botanical 2

Houndstooth’s “No News From Home” Is A Lovely Follow Up To Their Beguiling Debut

Posted in Music with tags , on March 31, 2015 by johnbuckley100

So occasionally we get carried away, but when we called Houndstooth’s Ride Out The Dark the best first album ever, it should be noted that we qualified it with the proviso that this superlative was good for August 2013, maybe not all time.  Yet now comes the gorgeous No News From Home, and clearly our enthusiasm wasn’t misplaced.  Houndstooth is a pitch perfect, upbeat American band ready for export to all markets attuned to our nation’s organic sonic glories.

The Portland band is built around two lead instruments, John Gnorski’s fluid guitar and Katie Bernstein’s slightly off-kilter voice.  While Gnorski plays with the tasteful precision and lean muscle mass of Mike Campbell, this doesn’t place these provisioners of Americana firmly in the Petty camp — they’re hippies weaving on the stage, suffusing Humboldt County’s best through a bong filled from Barton Springs, not Florida transplants living the life in some canyon above LA.  Bernstein has this disarming trick of singing an eighth of a register above the melody, though when it counts, her aim is true.

Houndstooth is that band you want to see play live outdoors as the sun goes down, or to have on your home stereo as you cook a meal for favorite friends you haven’t seen since college.  There is nothing that truly commands the foreground in perfect focus while the rear splays out in lovely bokeh; they make no heavy claims.  This is pretty summer music, arriving just as spring begins, and we fully expect rockers like “Bliss Boat,” the title track, and “Witching Hour” to be the soundtrack for all our cookouts for months to come.

C’mon Spring, You Can Do It

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on March 28, 2015 by johnbuckley100

It will barely get into the 40s in D.C., on the final weekend in March.  This was where things stood in Golden Gate Park a week ago.  Leica M, 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph.

Golden Gate Botanical 3

You Really Need To Take Chastity Belt Seriously

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2015 by johnbuckley100

If Sleater-Kinney had younger sisters who formed a band, they wouldn’t be Chastity Belt.  Oh sure, on the Seattle quartet’s excellent first album, No Regerts,there are moments when the music bounces with the same trampoline dynamics as their forebears’, and even on the amazing Time To Go Home, out this past week, you can hear the occasional echo of their Pacific Northwest sisters.  But Chastity Belt deserves to be taken seriously, and on their own.

The first strummed chords of “Drone,” which opens the new one, make you think you’re about to be immersed in a Galaxie 500 album, and like Dean Wareham, clearly Julia Shapiro, who writes and sings and plays guitar, is an admirer of the way Joy Division/New Order constructed songs: several begin with a lead baseline upon which gorgeous chords are neatly layered while an intricate lead guitar soon picks its way through the melody. On their second album, they may still have songs entitled “Cool Slut,” which at least is a topical step up from songs entitled “Pussy Weed Beer,” and “Nip Slip.”  But what marks Chastity Belt as a band that is going to take us all on a ride through third, fourth, and fifth albums in which their grasp will stay in tandem with their ambitious reach is how relaxed and confident they are as musicians, the drums always hitting the beat at just the last moment, Shapiro’s contralto refusing to be rushed.

In publicity pictures, they play up the concept of nerdy post-teenagers, but Chastity Belt has a mature sound, minor chords underlying surprising melodic depth. While occasionally one could hope for an alternative to Shapiro’s voice, which maintains a constant pitch across two album’s worth of songs, the interplay between the guitars will brighten the smile of anyone who has ever loved Luna, or Real Estate.

Just listen to the title track, which contains all the goodies these young women put on display. Some great bands begin so strong you are utterly beguiled even as — while devouring those first great records — you despair of what they might come out with when the novelty wears off.  With Chastity Belt, having produced such a brilliant sophomore outing in Time To Go Home, we can only count the days ’til the next one comes out.

They Say It’s Spring, But We Miss This

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on March 24, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park, 3/21.  Leica M with 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph.  When will we see such sights on this side of the country?

Golden Gate Botanical 1

Sitting And Thinking About Courtney Barnett’s “Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 24, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Listening to Courtney Barnett’s debut album, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, is like running into an old and amusing friend who greets you mid-conversation with some anecdote that soon has you in stitches.  For a 27-year old who emerged from the Antipodes in 2013 and has previously released only The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, we certainly know a lot about her: that she has allergies, tries hard to alleviate her parents’ concerns, worries about the little expenses, can be seduced by someone singing Triffids songs.  One album and a pair of EPs in, she’s an old friend.

Her music’s familiar too.  The playing on The Double EP brought to mind that first Joe Jackson album, or This Year’s Model: powerhouse, whip-smart power pop straight from the garage.  With what the Germans call sprechgesang — spoken singing — she’s not so much a singer as a loquacious poet who puts her words, and her facility for rapid-fire delivering of perfect couplets, to real rock’n’roll.  She is beguiling, this year’s model indeed.

Her choruses have the radio-ready symmetry of early Sheryl Crowe, and we don’t mean that as putdown.  Maybe early Liz Phair places her more precisely, though that’s unfair to both: Barnett is not the product of Oberlin and upper-middle class neuroses.  She’s an earthy, unaffected observer whose writing is so compelling, and songs so strong, we can listen to her sprechgesang ’til the wallabies come home.

The harmonies of her choruses is one of the reasons why “Avant Gardener” — which tells the tale of how cleaning up the backyard got her sent to the hospital in the back on an ambulance — could have caught such 2014 momentum.  Maybe the best way of thinking about her new album — the best way of sitting and thinking about Sitting And Thinking — is to compare the songwriting to the best of the Stones’ Emotional Rescue: small songs, few particularly profound, but fun and infectious.  Her music is informed by punk, occasionally floating on Farfisa, mastered so it lurks a nanometer behind the rubber cover of an ear bud. Courtney Barnett’s songs are funny and gorgeous and as focused on what’s just happened to her as a Karl Ove Knausgaard “novel.” Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit propels a talent onto stages near you soon, and in your playlist for life.

The View From Berkeley

Posted in 50mm Apo Summicron Asph, Leica M with tags , on March 23, 2015 by johnbuckley100

So there was schmutz on the window of the hotel room.  But the 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph can still capture detail, no?  This one is really worth clicking on.  Berkeley, CA, Saturday, March 21.

From Berkeley 1

Planet of The Baboons

Posted in Leica Images with tags , , on March 15, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Love this shot from Botswana last summer, and was just reminded of it today.

Planet of the Baboons

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