Archive for November, 2015

Driftwood Pyre Rekindle The Embers of First Communion Afterparty

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 6, 2015 by johnbuckley100

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

We’ve Posted Our High Heel Race Photos At Tulip Frenzy Photography

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 1, 2015 by johnbuckley100

High Heel Racer Gallery Tfrenzy

We collected some of the best images from the last two years of D.C.’s High Heel Race and posted them on a gallery at Tulip Frenzy Photography: Images By John Buckley.

Richard Hell’s “Massive Pissed Love”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 1, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Imagine, if you will, that Richard Hell had never helped form the seminal band Television, that his two albums with the Voidoids were not among the strongest releases from the New York bands circa ’77-’82, that he’d never played on a stage with Johnny Thunders in the original version of the Heartbreakers.  See him instead as one more smart, off-kilter kid drawn to the bright lights and the big city, Manhattan as the world’s greatest university, culture coming at ya from the Film Forum, Village Voice, museums uptown, galleries downtown, oh yeah, and a cast of characters all around you that would inspire artists from Weegee to Warhol to Dylan.

Imagine he absorbed it all, heightened his critical faculties through exposure to the best essayists on rock’n’roll, film, and art, and that he found his place in the city as a writer.  Imagine that along the way he wrote a really excellent first novel, Go Now, and became a writer in demand by small magazines and large, and that he amassed a body of critical work that was original, insightful, and genuinely well written.

Okay now we can go back to appraising Hell in full, we can add the fact that, yeah, the guy really was an exciting frontman for multiple bands, and that when he writes about music, he does so from the perspective both of a fan and critic, but also as what has to be called a rock star.  Add this all up and you get a sense of just how fantastic a book Massive Pissed Love is, Richard Hell’s collected nonfiction written since the Millennium.

His essay, “The Velvet Underground vs. The Rolling Stones” was published in the book Rock & Roll Cage Match, and collected here, we got to read it again and could only marvel.  Hell’s view on Keith and Mick and Lou is fundamentally different, more focused, than ours would be, because we’ve never stood on a stage, as he has, and watched a crowd go wild.  It is one of the single greatest pieces of rock writing ever, and trust us, we’ve read a lot.  His eulogies and memorials to Bob Quine and Joey Ramone are worth the cost of the book, and then some.  We’re a little less enamored with artists like Christopher Wool than he is, but who cares, the writing is strong, whether he casts his eye on film, photography, or fiction.

And along the way he tells stories, really fun stories, that make some of this collection as entertaining as his 2013 memoir, I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp, which we put up there with Keith Richards’ Life and Dean Wareham’s Black Postcards as the best rock-star memoirs of all time. (Can’t wait to read Elvis Costello’s.)

Buy the book.  Skip to “Sex On Drugs,” or “Jim Carroll Memorial Remarks,” or his essay on Lester Bangs.  For Godsake read the essay on the Stones and the Velvets.  Yeah, if Hell had come to New York and simply become a writer, we’d be celebrating him now.  That he has the insights borne of being one of our favorite rock stars too is just icing on the cake.

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