Archive for August, 2016

In The Foreground, The World’s Greatest BLT Sandwich

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 28, 2016 by johnbuckley100

A few miles down the Leigh Lake trail, Grand Teton National Park, and a sandwich made on a Wild Flour Bakery’s bagel.  It doesn’t get better than this.

Leigh Lake 3

Morgan Delt’s “Phase Zero” Is The Best Psych Album Of 2016

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , on August 28, 2016 by johnbuckley100


When Bill Doss passed away in 2012, we despaired of ever again hearing an album that blew our mind quite the way Music From The Unrealized Film Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle by The Olivia Tremor Control did when we first heard it 20 years ago.  But then earlier this summer, the mysterious Morgan Delt released “I Don’t Wanna See What’s Happening Outside,” which leads off his second album, Phase Zero, and if it’s possible to get the same rush the second time through, yep, this song did it.

Here’s everything we know about “Morgan Delt”: that’s not his real name, his eponymous first album was every bit as weird as a typical Olivia Tremor Control outing, he works as a graphic designer in California, Sub Pop were wise enough to lock him in a studio all by himself, and he’s playing September 20th at DC9 in the Nation’s Capital. Oh, and Phase Zero is a gorgeous, weird, melodic, inventive, soothing, trippy self-produced album in which he plays all the instruments.

“I Don’t Wanna See What’s Happening Outside” really does begin like a lost OTC track, and then fades into the boss “The System Of 1000 Lies,” like the best psychedelic album of your amped-up dreams.  The album is mostly those strangely treated six-string guitars, some keyboards for texture, and yeah, underneath it all, we suppose, are bass and drums, but think of this essentially as a longhaired guy singing gorgeously over slow and meandering highly electrified guitar lines, while floaters cross your vision and all solid walls have finely limned colors bleating and tricking your olfactory nerve ends.

We invoke, of course, the Elephant 6 bands, of which OTC was simply our (second) favorite (after the Apples In Stereo), but there is another, important reference point here, and it’s the trio of cross-indexed records made in the mid-70s by Cluster, Eno, and Harmonia (which consisted of the two guys in Cluster plus a guitarist genius pal.)  Their mostly instrumental early German electronica platters have been pulsing across our earbuds for many, many years, but never so intensively as in the last year when a deluge of Cluster and Harmonia recs became available to the non-Teutonic world, and yes, seems like Mr. Delt has been snuffling up these tracks for a long time too.

By the time the most excellent Phase Zero hits “Some Sunsick Day,” we are deeply into Eno’s “On Some Faraway Beach,” and we’re ready to come back to reality, weary, changed, a little emotionally wrought, no longer hearing through our nose and seeing through our ears, but satisfied that we’ve seen God, and his name is Morgan Delt.


It’s So Hot In DC, This Is The Only Answer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on August 13, 2016 by johnbuckley100

IceCreamMan (1 of 1)

On Thee Oh Sees’ “A Weird Exits,” It’s Time To Take John Dwyer Seriously

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 13, 2016 by johnbuckley100


By my count, Thee Oh Sees have released eight albums since 2010, not including greatest hits and rarities.  Even with John Dwyer backed by different incarnations of the band, what Thee Oh Sees’ albums have all had in common is a balance between joyous, thrashing punk rock that transports you to a crowded club heaving with spilled beer and dance sweat and these quieter songs, sometimes instrumentals, that make you go, “Well, that’s pretty.”  On A Weird Exits, the twin strains are in perfect equipoise, the jams offset by much more carefully plotted compositions.  And it makes us realize that it is time to take John Dwyer seriously.

Sure, albums like Floating Coffin and Putrifiers II have loomed large on Tulip Frenzy’s Top 10 Lists over the past half-decade, and you really haven’t lived ’til you’ve seen Thee Oh Sees play live, but with A Weird Exits, it’s time to tell the world: living amongst us, right now, is a deity capable of miracles.  “Plastic Plant” may be a perfect exemplar of Dwyer’s rock’n’roll genius, the double-drum set up calmly rolling along as he sings in a quiet falsetto, before his guitar just crushes it, the ebb and flow between the delicate passages and nuclear war the greatest formula since Black Francis was doing something like this with the Pixies all those years ago.  It’s easy to understand a song like this, or “Dead Man’s Gun,” or the frantic”Gelatinous Cube” were all created for the stage, with Dwyer carving out space to sing sweetly between tsunamis of sound.  So far so good, no need to plea the point that Thee Oh Sees are probably the most exciting live band playing these days.  This is settled fact, stare decicis, things every skateboarder in San Francisco is taught in 4th grade.

But there’s an entirely different side to Thee Oh Sees, and it goes way beyond what Dwyer does with his offbeat guitar tunings, his strange scales, his chirps and rave ups.  On “Jammed Entrance,” the way the double drums begin while the double-tracked guitar noodles along before the instrumental gets going, it’s jazz, man; this is something Miles Davis would have sampled, and not the other way around.

Which leads us to the two songs that end the album, bluesy, gorgeous compositions, a reminder of that other side of Dwyer. “Crawl Out From The Fall Out” has a minor-key undertow and — as some of his coolest songs have in the past — utilizes a Kronos Quartetesque strings arrangement, and it makes you sit up and listen, even though it’s a quiet song, not a trademark garage-psych groove.  Beautiful, beautiful music.  And then rather than follow it up with a rocker, the closer, “The Axis,” sounds like Stevie Winwood jamming with Procol Harem.  Well.  In just a 30-minute snippet of time, such a short interlude in your life, John Dwyer has taken us from the most exciting garage rock of the epoch to deep, moving contemplation.  The guy has it all, including originality.  A Weird Exits, its title rendered ambiguous by the extra “s”, is not only the best Oh Sees album since Floating Coffin, it should be that album that makes audiences of all stripes sit up and notice.

It’s time to take John Dwyer seriously.


Above The Cape Of Good Hope

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 6, 2016 by johnbuckley100

Friends enjoying their moment in the Southern-most tip of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope,  on this day in 2014.

Above The Cape

Cheena’s “Spend The Night With…” Will Keep You Up ‘Til Dawn

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 6, 2016 by johnbuckley100


Some time ago, the advance word on the Strokes was that they were a classic New York band, ready to take on the mantle of forebears like the Dolls, Television, and the Velvet Underground.  That as it turns out, the Strokes kinda sucked made us permanently wary of all hyped entrants in the “New York band” insta-mythmaking.  As Mike Bloomberg mighta said, I lived in New York during the CBs days, and I know a con when I hear one.

It’s true that the Brooklyn bands emerging over the past 10 years, collectively and in many cases individually, rival the output of New York in the late ’70s, with a breadth and heterogeneity that reflects a city this large, diverse, and great.  And just as in the CBGB days, when it was Blondie that had the first real hit while bands like the Fleshtones, dBs, and Individuals went overlooked, the fact that The National became Brooklyn’s arena rockers while the Amen Dunes, Woods, and Parquet Courts simply released the epoch’s best records seems about par for the course.

So when we first heard about Cheena, and the comparisons invoked were to the New York Dolls and Richard Hell and the Voidoids, our bullshit detector went up.  And then we listened to “Car,” the first single off Spend The Night With…, and we immediately muttered “sonofabitch” under our quickening breath, for sure enough, this is a band as dingy as the mens room at TR3, as real as waiting in subzero temps to get into the Mudd Club, as tasty as the egg cream at Dave’s on Canal.

Comprised of vets from various New York bands, Cheena sound like what woulda happened if the Flamin’ Groovies had played “Slow Death” at the Mercer Arts Center, opening for the Dolls in 1972 just before the roof collapsed. With a sound comprised of muddy vocals and a persistent, “Silver Train” slide guitar, Spend The Night With… is never not fun.  There is nothing profound about Cheena, and they don’t try to be anything more than that band that plugs in while beer gets guzzled and you cross that threshold where you know you’ll have to call in sick to your job. This is late-night Downtown music for the City That Never Sleeps.  Download this album and you won’t want to either.

%d bloggers like this: