Driftwood Pyre Rekindle The Embers of First Communion Afterparty

Lucky you, people of Earth, for this morning you can download the first album by the Driftwood Pyre, the kickass remnant of the most astonishing psych band our species produced circa 2009-2012, First Communion Afterparty.

In retrospect, we still can’t believe how great First Communion Afterparty were, though their posthumously released Earth Heat Sound was Tulip Frenzy’s 2013 Album Of The Year.  When their first studio album Sorry For All The Mondays And To Those Who Can’t Sing came to our attention in the summer of ’09, we were ready to camp outside the ticket office of the Verizon Center to see them.  How were we to know that they seldom toured beyond the precincts of the Twin Cities, and that we might have been the only person in the Mid Atlantic who saw them for what they were — inheritors of the best elements from the Bless Its Pointed Little Head-era Jefferson Airplane, the harmonies of the Mamas and the Papas, the guitar punch of the Jesus and Mary Chain.  The vocal dynamic of the band was what clinched the deal, Carin Barno able to swing between Joplinesque grit and emollient warbles, with Liam Watkins proving himself to be a classic punk singer happily working off a debt to everyone from Roy Loney to Iggy Pop.

It’s Watkins who walked away from FCAP and nurtured the embers back to life in Driftwood Pyre, a band that is at once every bit as interesting as their predecessors and also more straightforward.  If you’ve a certain cast of mind, you’ll get this analogy: at times, Driftwood Pyre is to First Communion Afterparty as Pink Mountaintops is to Black Mountain — clearly linked by a guitarist/singer/songwriter, but just a little more fixed on rock’n’roll’s center than its nether regions.  And that’s a good thing, if you’re hoping Driftwood Pyre can achieve the global dominance FCAP deserved.

There was something almost mystically powerful about First Communion Afterparty’s Earth Heat Love, and Driftwood Pyre invoke it on songs like “Comatose,” “Take Me To Your God,” and “Karmaceutical.” Watkins follows the links of the great San Francisco bands with guitar lines steeped in the blues, a Jorma Kaukonen-esque pedigree, and his vocal reaches are cosmically inspired.  But as with FCAP, there’s an enveloping harmonic convergence with an angelic chorus of girls ‘un boys softening any hard edges.  While wholly original — though of course we hear FCAP in the song structures — on “The Day Nico Died” we hear the Cramps channeling Dylan ’65, on “Paper Petals” we hear the Gallagher brothers in their Heathen Chemistry prime, and “Super Moon” made us reach for our Mazzy Star.  This is — work with us here — the album we wish The Black Ryder could release, a record paying its debt as much to Rubber Soul as Darklands-era JAMC.  Having just spent a few weeks knee deep in other Minneapolis bands — Flavor Crystals and Magic Castles — it’s nice to hear a psyche band less indebted to the Brian Jonestown Massacre, but would Anton Newcombe look on approvingly from stage left?  Oh yeah.  And when they make Big Hits Of Mid-America Vol. V, all three bands can roar together.

From the sloughs of band-breakup despond… an instant nostalgia from having missed seeing FCAP live… to the joy of discovering that Liam Watkins and his fellow travelers made it to a life-sustaining planet where they can produce amazing new tunes, we couldn’t be happier.  People of Earth, this is a great day.

Follow Tulip Frenzy on Twitter @johnbuckley100

2 Responses to “Driftwood Pyre Rekindle The Embers of First Communion Afterparty”

  1. […] limning with chromatic abberation a vibrantly electric landscape — when the album came out we exulted like an archaeologist reclaiming a lost civilization.  Eureka! A little more of a straight-ahead rock band, with elements of Oasis, the Cramps, and even […]

  2. […] This likely made sense to anyone who has heard this brilliant band, and especially those who read our rave review when the album came out in early […]

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