Happy Halloween from Tulip Frenzy.
Archive for October, 2015
Next week, Kelley Stoltz is releasing his latest album, Triangle Time, on John Dwyer’s Castleface Records, and we can’t wait. But hold on, what’s the meaning of the release in recent weeks of both the 4 New Cuts E.P. and an entire album entitled The Scuzzy Inputs of Willy Weird? All we can think of is this is like that garage sale you have before moving into the new house. And man, what gems are being taken to the curb?
On his official website, Kelley is said to be moving away from the baroque ’60s-steeped, Ray Davies influenced hand-crafted masterpieces in favor of a sound harkening to the post-punk era. But for a lot of people, Kelley first announced himself with a note-for-note replica of Echo and the Bunnymen’s Crocodiles, so it’s not like the new album promises to be entirely a departure.
Now, we loved Circular Sounds and Below The Branches so much we accorded them high honors in Tulip Frenzy’s annual tally of the best ‘uns. But honestly, To Dreamers and Double Exposure didn’t quite hit those high marks. Now, though, in anticipation of a new rec, Kelley’s given us 17 new songs just to clear the way, and man, they are uniformly great! “Redirected” sounds like an outtake from Double Exposure that should have been a hit, and that’s just one of the 4 New Cuts. And midway through The Scuzzy Inputs of Willy Weird we were forced to admit that, if this were the only thing Kelley put out this year, we’d still likely consider it for the Tulip Frenzy 2015 Top Ten List (c).
So quick, get to the garage sale and catch up on America’s foremost power-pop artisan before he puts out an album, Triangle Time, that he clearly thinks is even better.
In Japan, they call interconnected companies with deep, informal ties keiretsus. In Korea, they refer to business entities with interlocking relationships as chaebols. In rock’n’roll, we have Anton Newcombe who, in his multiple roles as leader of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, solo artist, producer, and head of the label A Records has connected a web of bands that collectively capture an outsized slice of real estate in our digital music collection, or in psychic-business terms, a large share of mind.
From Birdstriking to KVB, Tess Parks to Flavor Crystals, more often than not, the music that has preoccupied us in recent months somehow all connects back to Anton. Last week we wrote about the Flavor Crystals, whom we first heard open for the Brian Jonestown Massacre years ago. It got us to thinking, and sent us back to listen to the recently released fourth album by Magic Castles, the Minneapolis band we first heard opening for BJM in 2012, and about whom we wondered aloud, are the Magic Castles the best young band in America?
On Starflower, Magic Castles infuse the chiming, psychedelic pop that was so hypnotic on last year’s Sky Sounds in such a strong garage ambiance, you can practically taste the engine oil. Interestingly, for a band releasing their fourth album, it’s really only on this one that, time and again, you can hear the explicit influence of Newcombe; the songs don’t just sound like something BJM would have produced, they sound specifically like recent albums Newcombe’s recorded over the compressed, amazingly prolific last 18 months.
Starflower is not the first music we’ve heard that also invokes Eno’s first album, as Magic Castles do on “Samara,” but it is definitely the first album connecting Newcombe to an earlier multifaceted musician-producer-impresario around whom such great music revolved. Starflower may not take Tulip Frenzy’s Album of The Year, but we can’t stop listening to it. In fact, between the Anton Newcombe and Tess Parks album I Declare Nothing, The Shiver of the Flavor Crystals, and what we’ve heard so far from the impending Brian Jonestown Massacre Mini Album Thingy Wingy, we could, like a business in Japan or Korea, exist entirely within a single keiretsu, one integrated chaebol.
One of the great events in Washington, D.C. is the annual High Heel Race, in which ladies dress up and run down 17th Street as the pre-Halloween crowds cheer them on.
And some people take it very, very seriously.
There’s drama and fun, and wild-side walking makes for a gorgeous evening.
Until next year.
All images taken with a Leica Monochrom (typ-246) and 50mm Noctilux.
You really have to listen to the Flavor Crystals’ new album, though not if you have anyplace you need to go. The Shiver Of The Flavor Crystals is the fourth LP from the Twin Cities psych band, and once you put it on, you may as well sit down and settle in. You won’t want to leave.
Hailing from precincts that have given us First Communion Afterparty and The Magic Castles, the Flavor Crystals quickly dissolved into a minimalist solution, with droning guitar lines over a steady beat, the vocals sometimes an afterthought. Even fans — and we very much consider ourselves in that category — will be forgiven for admitting the Flavor Crystals are a little more thrilling on stage than perhaps heretofore on their albums, which occasionally have put the Ambien in ambient.
The Shiver Of The Flavor Crystals is stronger than even the best songs on 2008’s Ambergris, which is saying something, and reminded us of why, the moment we saw them open for The Brian Jonestown Massacre and then downloaded “Checker Board” from their debut, On Plastic, we saw Flavor Crystals as a necessary additive to our life. It is much stronger than their heralded Third, which we found a little lacking in propulsion. These songs dial up the melody and urgency, though the band certainly never breaks a sweat.
There aren’t easy comparisons to other bands, more like affinities. The songs are based on the interplay between guitarists that places them on the same taxonomic scale as Luna, Television, Real Estate. Twin City friends and fellow BJM allies Magic Castles come to mind. But then so do much louder bands like My Bloody Valentine, and even more intricate composers like Jonny Greenwood. Honestly, I could see putting a song like “Diamond Mine” not on a psych playlist, where I’ve routinely dropped their best ‘uns over the past few years. I could see playing it back to back with Miles Davis’s “In A Silent Way,” maybe with something by Cluster and Eno.
This is gorgeous music, thrilling and relaxing at the same time. Play it loud. Just don’t plan on going anywhere.