Archive for Bob Boilen

Tulip Frenzy’s January Playlist: The Molochs, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Cherry Glazer, Lucy Dacus

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2017 by johnbuckley100


The Molochs’ America’s Velvet Glory is the first great album of what promises to be a dreadful year, epoch, eternity.  But hey, if the country gets destroyed in the process of Making It Great Again, we can at least have the comfort of this boss band’s first album, America’s Velvet Glory.

So maybe they’re named after the ancient god associated with child sacrifice.  Given the state of our nation, we prefer to think of their name as coming from the Indian tribe from the Pacific Northwest that, with knowledge of the local territory and a hardy band of warriors, made fools of the soldiers sent to “snivelize” them.  We all could use a bit of that spirit these days.

The Molochs make us think of AM radio in 1966, when a boy could hear the Brian Jones-inflected sound of those mid-decade Rolling Stones, the pop dynamism of The Kinks, and the aspirations of The Monkees all playing back to back.  Pre-psychedelia, before rock’n’roll got serious, music that rocked with a wee bit o’ organ underneath the guitars.  This band has already made our entry into 2017 palatable enough to have put away the razor blades.  Yeah, that’s something.


On Talk Tight, a mini-album released last spring, which we entirely missed until the nice people at Uncut alerted us to a second such output this spring, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever launched their campaign of world dominance with the most glorious and infectious string of songs we’ve heard in some time.  Sure, the sheer thundering gallop they get off to can make you think of fellow Aussies King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, but these guys are so much more.

To begin with, unlike KG & TLW, this record doesn’t sound like the band all got cranked on molly and set the tape deck to record.  These are fabulously well-constructed songs that bear homage to bands as disparate as national heroes Radio Birdman and our very own Luna.  They’ve just released “Julie’s Place” from the forthcoming mini-album, and pledge that upon the new thing’s release, they’ll go into the studio to get down a proper LP.  Cannot wait, for these guys will vanquish the lifeguards and overrun the power stations, leaving us yawping in the light of day.

clagerWe missed Cherry Glazerr‘s show at DC9 on Sunday, because we were somehow asleep at the switch, but our bet is that those people there will have bragging rights for years, because Apocalipstick is going to launch like that rocket on the album cover.  Clementine Creevy — one of the best rock’n’roll names of all time — has come a long way from 2014’s Haxel Princess, when the content of songs was made up of things like her love for grilled cheese sandwiches and the lo-fi production sounded like the rec comprised demos recorded in the broom closet of the LA high school she and the band were still in.

From the moment you hear the big-time mastering of “Told You I’d Be With The Guys,” you know that Secretly Canadian opened the checkbook to pay for a real studio for their next breakout band.  Think The Breeders, Veruca Salt, and maybe Chastity Belt in the hands of Steve Albini, and you’ll get a sense of how ready for the big time these guys are.  We eagerly await the full album download on, we believe, the same day a certain orange-hued braggart is sworn in: when the Apocalypse begins, we will happily listen to Apocalipstick.


Every January, we find out about albums from the prior year that we completely missed, which if we’d been less dense, woulda made it on Tulip Frenzy’s Top Ten List (c).  Sometimes we even hear about them from the same source — in this case, NPR’s Bob Boilen’s 2016 Top 10 List of fave recsLucy Dacus is a Richmond alternative songwriter and peppy little New Wave combo bandleader whose No Burden was for us as big a discovery as the last artist Boilen pointed us to: Angel Olsen.

She can nearly effortlessly go from catchy rock’n’roll to a quieter, more contemplative sound, but the one thing that’s certain is that everything is melodic, her voice and sense of humor and irony dominate, and if you listen to just one song from this magnificent album, you will inhabit the rest for days at a time.


Wire’s “Nocturnal Koreans”: A Band As Relevant Today As They Were In ’77

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 1, 2016 by johnbuckley100


If you had told me in 1981 when I was asked to review Wire’s nominally posthumous Document And Eyewitness that 35 years on not only would Wire still be releasing records, they would continue to be one of my favorite contemporary bands, I would have said you were crazy.  But here comes Nocturnal Koreans, an eight-song mini-album recorded at the same time as last year’s gorgeous Wire, which we called one of 2015’s best albums, and even at a moment when there are fine new albums by Brian Eno, Parquet Courts, Woods, and PJ Harvey, among others, we can’t listen to anything else.

Over at NPR, Bob Boilen is clever but not entirely correct to analogize that Nocturnal Koreans is to Wire as 1978’s Chairs Missing was to 1977’s revolutionary Pink Flag.  To begin with, these two new records emerged from the same recording sessions, with the the songs on Nocturnal Koreans served up as a different approach to the moment, not an example of the giant leap in ambition and sophistication apparent between Wire’s first and second records.

No band in history ever showed as much growth between its first and second records, not the Beatles, not the Clash, no one.  Those first three Wire albums witnessed punk progenitors becoming one of the most tasteful, thrilling art-rock band of all times.  (It’s possible the only similar growth pattern, come to think of it, was Eno going from Here Come The Warm Jets to Another Green World — an album that had a profound affect on Wire’s third record, 154.)

Nocturnal Koreans finds Wire slightly less wired than they were on Wire, which while motorik in tempo, played up the warmth of Colin Newman’s voice, the melody of their prettiest songs, minus the cockney and chaos of their most raucous work.  These two albums go together, and the whole reveals that the most revelatory, and in many ways, ambitious of the British punk bands, 3/4ths intact 41 years and 15 records on from their founding, is still greater than 99 percent of the bands out there — not to mention the sum of the parts.


We Wish We’d Included Violet Woods, Amen Dunes, And Angel Olsen On The 2014 Tulip Frenzy Top 10 List

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on January 4, 2015 by johnbuckley100

It always happens.  We publish the Tulip Frenzy Top 10 List and then discover, often from others’ lists, recs we missed.  So before we tell you what we overlooked, let’s give thanks where it’s due.

From Uncut, we learned about Violet Woods.  From former Woods bassist Kevin Morby, we were turned on to The Amen Dunes.  And from NPR’s Bob Boilen, we learned of Angel Olsen.  Thank you all.

On the self-titled Violet Woods, Fuzzy Lights frontman Xavier — that’s the full name listed in the Uncut write-up — takes us on a quiet ride through British psych pop, and it is sonically gorgeous.  (We hadn’t heard of the Fuzzy Lights either, but that’s a different story.  Let’s just say that Violet Woods is Xavier’s louder band.)  We’re used to smart rock coming out of Cambridge, from Syd Barrett to the Soft Boys to Radiohead, but this is unpretentious guitar jangle that will be reassuringly familiar to anyone who loved The Perfect Disaster or Luna.  If you like Temples, think of  Violet Woods as the quieter, prettier sibling who was grokking on the San Francisco bands, not T. Rex.  We will be listening to this ‘un well into 2015.

That Kevin Morby, whom we admire, felt so strongly about Love, the new album by fellow Brooklynites Amen Dunes, to list it as Numero Uno on his top ten list made us sit up and take notice.  Cut from the same cloth as Kurt Vile and Devendra Banhart, Damon McMahon produces dreamy, droney low-fi pop that can lull and excite at the same time.  It’s a hard combination to pull off, soporific adrenaline, but on the marvelous Love, McMahon and his fellow musicians — usually acoustic guitar, a cello, little to no percussion — produce music for a cold and snowy day.  Gorgeous.

On Burn Your Fire For No Witness, Angel Olsen and a small combo alternately showcase her strikingly emotional quaver against a minimalist acoustic framework and kick the doors down.  It’s a similar dynamic to the one PJ Harvey puts to use, which we know is a hard comparison for a young artist to be saddled with, but yeah.  Angel Olsen’s antecedents are all those strong women who came down out of Appalachian hollers and caused jaws to drop in Nashville, Austin, and New York.  On this album, you have a perfectly self-contained combination of artist and musicians who mesmerize with the rhythm of their counterpoint between hard and soft, hot and cold.

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