Archive for Capsula

Capsula’s “Santa Rosa”Is A Time Capsule Of Punk Rock Excellence

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


Consider the case of Capsula, the Argentine exiles who now use Bilbao as their base for contra-European conquest, and who Tulip Frenzy once declared was the Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band in the World.  With three albums already recorded in Buenos Aires, and in Spanish, they leapt to our attention in 2006 with what still remains one of the 21st Century’s single greatest platters of tuneful punk rock, Song And Circuits.  Five English-language albums later — one of them live, another a note-for-note rendition of Ziggy Stardust — in late April they released Santa Rosa, their best album in a decade.  And yet — when Tulip Frenzy writes about certain of our favorite bands, there is always an “and yet” — the only way we found out about it is because we follow their Twitter feed.

The world of art is cruel, good novelists going unpublished, photographers like Vivian Mayer having their work discovered even as they lay dying, her death as much caused by poverty and neglect as blunt-force trauma.  Our mind went to these depths because we heard Santa Rosa the same week Radiohead’s unquestionably gorgeous, if not grammatically titled A Moon Shaped Pool was released, and while the entire internet groaned from the peak-load strain of global downloading of that masterpiece, we think few others were probably as excited as we were to download this one.

For those who really want to learn about why Capsula is, in our estimation, as important a band as Radiohead, you can link here for full-on rhapsodic overkill.  Now seriously, do.  Or if you want just the capsule description of Capsula, try this one for size:

Capsula take all of the excitement of Under The Big Black Sun-era X, add to it a rockabilly twang showcasing how incredibly this ace trio swings, run it through the psychedelic soundboard of simpatico producers like Bowie’s Tony Visconti (2013’s Solar Secrets) or ex-Richard Hell and the Voidoids ace guitarist Ivan Julian (2009’s Rising Mountains), and out comes music that thrillingly plies a narrow line of punk rock skirting the coral along a pirate coast.

Santa Rosa is their best album since Song And Circuits because the songwriting is so exciting, because Martin Guevara plays guitar and sings with the revolutionary fervor of his father Che*, because Coni Duchess is a royally great bass player and singer, and because Ignacio Guantxe plays drums with the manic force of a Nadal backhand. We think it’s the first album they’ve produced since they moved to Spain that features both English and Spanish singing.  We know that on songs like “Santa Rosa” and “Moving Mutant,” everything we hold dear in the world is expressed with melodic thunder.

As rock’n’roll fanatics, the team at Tulip Frenzy have long grown used to the two-city split between the successful and the great, with the former not always the latter, and too often the latter not the former.  Why did the Police go on to earn fortunes when the Fleshtones, the band that each night on that 1980 tour blew them off the stage, are household names only among a special breed?  When our son was very young, and his sense of what bands had achieved immortal status was based on what his parents played in the car, he was stunned to learn that the Ramones weren’t actually as big as the Beatles.  Of course they should have been, but ponder that too long and you’ll go crazy.

Here’s an idea instead: just download the two Capsula songs mentioned above, then the whole of Santa Rosa, and then just keep downloading ’til collectively we make ’em bigger than Radiohead.

*Not his father.  Though, hmm, both Guevara’s hail from B.A.


What Recent Live Albums By Phosphorescent, Ty Segall Band And Capsula Say About Those Bands, And Live Recordings

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on February 18, 2015 by johnbuckley100


Phospherscent at the 930 Club, January 2014

Time was, live albums meant something, whether it was the commemoration of a killer tour (Get Yer Ya-Yas Out), or just that a record company either was owed an album (Band Of Gypsys) or needed to fill time ’til that epic studio album was done (Live At Leeds.)  Weirdly, live albums have accounted for some acts’ big breakthrough (Peter Frampton, Cheap Trick.) Yet as recording technology and digital distribution made it easy to do, some important bands who play great live — Pearl Jam, Wilco — began putting out damn near every live show.  Which devalued the category, and in a weird way, their live shows.  (Right, if all is available, it loses meaning, and if it doesn’t matter whether it’s live or Memorex, going to the concert is more about getting out of the house than hearing the music.)

We had to wait 16 years after the Clash broke up to get the first collection o’ songs recorded in concert, and both From Here To Eternity and Live At Shea Stadium pretty much suck.  The comparative handful of live tracks that have gotten out from Dylan’s Never Ending Tour tease us, as we know there must be a future Bootleg Series release in which the motherload will become available.  The point here is that official live albums now are a bit like filler, they no longer really excite, they usually just feature different versions of songs that likely sounded better in a studio minus the adrenaline and improvisation that comes from that band you love capturing on tape the magic of that show you missed, or better yet, saw.

So why are we so thrilled to hear the new Phosphorescent album, Live At The Music Hall?  The simple answer is because Matt Houck has produced some very good albums in the past five years, but none of them has entirely hung together… there has always been a bit too much self-indulgent filler.   We were lucky enough to see Phosphorescent live last January, and not only does this record capture the brilliance of songs like “The Quotidian Beasts” and “Song For Zula,” it is perhaps Houck’s first record that hangs together the whole way through.  So in this case, the live album adds a coherence to his work that his studio stuff doesn’t.  Hail Phosphorescent Live At The Music Hall, in which an important, underrated artist and his amazing live band play his songs the way they were meant to be heard.  It’s a little bit like White Fence’s Live In San Francisco: the live album that justifies your patience through the studio albums that never quite got you there…

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Ty Segall at the 930 Club, 2014

Ty Segall doesn’t need a live album to tell you anything about him you don’t know from his records, but *his* Live In San Francisco, released a few weeks ago, does offer those poor souls not in a touring city a sense of what utter freaking mayhem ensues when the Ty Segall Band hits town.  We don’t know the meaning of this album coming out under that name, as the show we saw them play in October was under the aegis of Ty Segall, not the Ty Segall Band.  And come to think of it, this live set contains more of Slaughterhouse than any of Ty’s solo (truly solo) recs. But as a snapshot in time, something we will harken to no mater where Ty’s career takes him (the Pantheon, no doubt), we will come back to this, fer the sheer fun of it all.

In the case of Phosphorescent, if we were Christgau and this was a consumer’s guide, we’d say this is the place to invest your hard-earned shekels.  With Ty, you just need to go get an extra job and buy everything he has put out since about 2011 — live album included.  But this should not, by any means, be the first, essential purchase. (That would be Twins.)

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Capsula at The Black Cat, 2013

With Capsula, though, a band that we have previously called The Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band in the WorldDead Or Alive is definitely a great place to begin, as it quickly proves we’re right, is an infectious party platter, and truly should be valued for the way it points you to their best studio albums (2006’s Songs & Circuits, with 2011’s In The Land Of Silver Souls being a close runner up.)  It gives longtime fans the joy of listening to these amazing musicians without having to travel to Bilbao, where the Argentines now live.

Capsula’s live album fills the role of a great many previous live albums: having put out seven excellent records, in English and Spanish, including a note-perfect (that was the problem) version of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, a live album was an inevitability, a notch in the belt, an artifact needed for the formal record.  Capsula is a great live band, and this proves it.  And if you’ve never heard them before, start here.  Unlike Get Yer Ya-Yas Out, this is not the Capsula album we’ll be playing in 45 years.  But as a glimpse of what a powerful sonic machine they are when they get going, yeah, it’s a good ‘un.

Tulip Frenzy 2013 Top Ten List ™ Shortlist Announced

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2013 by johnbuckley100

So we promised Magic Trick that we would wait for River Of Souls, out Tuesday, before locking the ballot box on the Tulip Frenzy 2013 Top Ten List ™.  We  will save them a spot on the shortlist, okay?  Below, in NO PARTICULAR ORDER are the bands in consideration.

At Tulip Frenzy World HQ, the horse trading, lobbying, and outright bribery are in full force.  We’ve cast a sideways glance at our competitors, and let us just say that this was one of the rare years in which we did not automatically scoff at the Uncut Top 50 list, and they did settle one thing for us:  yes, the Parquet Courts album is to be considered this year, even though it actually was released last November.  But no one listened to it until January 1, when we were all suddenly forced to grapple with a) 2013, and b) the Parquet Courts’ greatness.  But mbv as the Album of The Year?  Please, nice to have Kevin Shields back but it’s not really that good.  Still, could have been worse.

We should note that we are NOT considering the Bob Dylan 1969 Isle of Wight release, even though it finally came out this year, and even though it is simply amazing.  Why is it ruled out by the judges? Because we don’t think that’s right to knock a band in their prime out of consideration just because another incredible album fought its way out of the Dylan archives.  But here’s a pretty great set of bands/artists who will be considered:


David Bowie

Kurt Vile



Robyn Hitchcock

Parquet Courts

Thee Oh Sees

Kelley Stoltz

Magic Trick

Neko Case



Secret Colours

Kevin Morby


First Communion Afterparty

Mikal Cronin

In consideration: 18 artists.  It’s going to be a long few days of wrangling in these here parts. Stay tuned.


For A Moment Last Night At DC’s Black Cat, Capsula Were The Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band In The World

Posted in Music with tags , , , on November 24, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Capsula 2

All lifelong aficionados of real rock’n’roll have essentially the same fantasy, which is to see their favorite band play ten feet away.  Some burly mothers regularly achieve this by muscling their way to the front of the crowd and staying there for an hour before the show starts.  Others — including the team at Tulip Frenzy – like a little breathing room, a little distance.  Unless circumstances allow us to get real close without bother.  Last night, alas, the Nation’s Capital did not show up in force to see Capsula open for Brazilian legends Os Mutantes.  But you sure couldn’t have told that from the way Capsula played.  And so we stood there, maybe five feet away, while they put on one of the best shows we’ve seen in the modern epoch.

Capsula, for those who don’t know — and if you don’t, we pity you — are the finest punk rock band to ever emerge from South America, though for the past 13 years they’ve used Bilbao as their locus for world domination.  It’s been paying off, too, as Solar Secrets, their recent album produced by Tony Visconti — fresh from his handling the chores for David Bowie’s The Next Day — has been topping Alternative charts in Europe.  They may be the hardest working band in rock’n’roll these days.  Based on the commitment they showed last night, wherein Martin Guevara and Coni Duchess bounced off one another, and then the ceiling, like those ping pong balls about to be plucked for the Powerball lottery, they may, at moments, also be the single best live band working today.  The drummer — was that Ignacio Villarejo or someone else? — was like a locomotive, minus the smoke, and even when Guevara and Duchess were doing synchronized back flips, the musicianship would have made the Berlin Philharmonic seem like amateurs.

Longtime fans of Tulip Frenzy know we’ve been wild for Capsula for years and years.  Ever since hearing 2006’s Songs & Circuits, we’ve viewed them as some magical combo of the Cramps, the Stooges, and the best ’70s radio pop.  We can’t put it better than… we already have: “Capsula is a throwback to an era of punk rock that may not ever have existed, a remnant of a Platonic world where all songs are played fast, where the drummer keeps an animalistic beat for hours on end, a place where the pogoing guitarist can fill the stage and stage the fills with melody and soul as the girl bassist with the bunny ears rocks harder than Izzy Stradlin. When Songs & Circuits came out five years ago, we could scarcely believe our luck, pinched ourselves to find a modern punk band that played fast and offered steaming parilla of smoking riffs and still poured on melody like it was hot sauce.”

We still feel that way, even as we would rank Solar Secrets a half-notch below both Songs & Circuits and 2011’s In The Land Of The Silver Souls.  The set list last night was long on new material like “Constellation Freedom,” and a cover of Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream,” which they played on their Ziggy Stardust homage, with a dip back into the catalogue with songs like “Communication,” their update of the Stooges’ “Penetration.”

Capsula 1

At one point, Guevara hung his guitar from the ceiling and then wrapped his mike around a pipe, singing into it while it dangled above him.  Although on record, they can be very smart classicists, in their first-ever DC concert they showed themselves to be the kind of hams that the Fleshtones can be, willing to do virtually anything to extend that rock’n’roll moment one minute longer, to turn the dials to 11.  There should have have been 1000 people there, not a couple of hundred, but here’s the essential thing to know about Capsula: the set they would have played for that larger crowd wouldn’t have been any different than what they did for us last night.

Capsula To Play D.C.’s Black Cat With Os Mutantes November 23rd

Posted in Music with tags , , on September 18, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Not confirmed by the Black Cat website.  But here’s what our gumshoes have tracked down.

Capsula has, over the past year, toured with Os Mutantes, the legendary Brazilian psyche band who trace their history in dayglo ink going back to Sao Paolo in the ’60s.

On the Capsula website, it says they are playing at the Black Cat on 11/23.

On the Black Cat website, it says that Os Mutantes are playing on November 23rd.

Not taking any chances, given how infrequently the Bilbao-based Argentines play the U.S. of A — and not wanting to miss, again, possibly the greatest rock’n’roll band on Earth — we’ve gotten tix.

So should you.


UPDATE:  From Os Mutantes:

Os Mutantes ‏@osmvtantes16h


 Retweeted by CAPSULA / SLR SCRTS

Two New Albums By Capsula and Crocodiles Each Extend The Late Summer Rock’n’Roll Party

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2013 by johnbuckley100

We hadn’t been paying close enough attention to the happenings of one of our favorite bands, Capsula, to have gotten the word that Tony Visconti was producing their new album, Solar Secrets, which came out earlier this week.  What a great pairing!  Visconti, of course, is the producer of several of Bowie’s best albums, including this year’s The Next Day, and Capsula are such Bowie fans, last year they put out a note-perfect replica of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.  Now, unfortunately, we viewed that homage to Bowie as something of a misstep, an unfortunate career detour, but happily, with the excellent Solar Secrets, they are back on the strong form exhibited in 2011’s In The Land Of The Silver Souls, which we ranked as the #4 best album of the year, and which caused us to ask whether Capsula is the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world.  Based on Solar Secrets, they are still in contention for such an honor, even if it is not as spectacular as 2006’s Songs & Circuits, which we consider perhaps the finest punk rock album of the Aughts.

If you don’t know Capsula, drink deep from this nutshell: An Argentine band that played animalistic punk rock while scratching at the tree of South American psychedelica, they moved to Bilbao a decade ago, viewing Europe as a better staging point for world domination.  Since then, they’ve only put out three of the most thrilling records of our age, which given the albums they put out in Buenos Aires prior to emigration, gives them, by our count, eight excellent long-players.  They’ve gone from singing in Spanish to singing in English, though on Solar Secrets, Visconti has them singing in Spanglish.  But even if you’re bilingual, you don’t listen to Capsula for the words — you listen to hear a band that sounds like the finest Cali punks from the ’80s occasionally dial up the rocket boosters to propel listeners into deep space.  This is not their very best album, but it is a great place to begin, if you’ve yet to get hip to their cross-Atlantic trip.

We’d missed the earlier records by the San Diego band Crocodiles, but oh brother, Crimes Of Passion is so everlasting yummy we are willing to put it up on our current roster of California Hall of Famers including Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, and Mikal Cronin.  We can understand why there have been comparisons to the Jesus and Mary Chain, but while such references usually refer to a band fuzzing up a Velvets’n’Beach Boys sound, this reference is different: singer Brandon Welchez sounds a fair bit like Jim Reid, and in context, it does harken to JAMC at their most tuneful.

On Crimes of Passion, Crocodiles throw the Jesus and Mary Chain, Between The Buttons-era Stones, and the garage rock of the Fleshtones into a blender and the result is a Big Gulp smoothee of the best rock’n’roll of the year.  If you’re keeping score at home, this is a band to put money on, as the odds are great you’re going to be hearing about them again when the Tulip Frenzy jury goes into deliberations for our 2013 Top Ten List.  They’re that good.  And between Crimes of Passion and Capsula’s Solar Secrets, we’re reaching for our headphones and the SPF 50, hoping to extend the summer for a few more weeks.

Capsula’s “Ziggy Stardust” Is A Little Muddled

Posted in Music with tags , , , on December 3, 2012 by johnbuckley100

Capsula’s admirable concept of reviving Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars hit us like space debris, something so random we never could have predicted it.  Redo Ziggy Stardust? Our favorite Argentine expat punk band coming up with this from their perch in Bilbao?  Wow.

Come to think of it, when Bowie released the original, forty years ago this past summer, it also came as something of a shock.  Hitting our shores the same summer that the Stones were touring behind Exile On Main Street — as straightforward an evocation of American roots music as there possibly could be — Bowie’s sheer Britishness, his theatricality, his publicity-stunt bisexuality, made him seem like the man who fell to Earth three years before Nicholas Roeg would actually cast him in that role.  That Bowie arrived more or less at the same ephemeral moment as Mark Bolan/T.Rex, the same moment as glam rock, gave us something to hang onto.  Here comes rock’s next thing, though it would take Roxy Music and Bowie’s own Alladin Sane and Diamond Dogs to herald just how completely different things were on one side of the Atlantic from the Little Feet, Alice Cooper, and Big Star rockets that began going up on our side.

Musically, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars had the transformative effect of connecting the Beatles to Iggy and the Stooges, no small feat (nor Little Feat.)  For Bowie was one part British cabaret, one part avant garde, one part Velvet Underground.  Songs like “Hang On To Yourself” predicted the sound we would associate with what became punk rock more than any other song of its era — you can hear its echoes in both the Sex Pistols and the Ramones — and both this album, Bowie’s faux transvestism, and the glam rock reshuffling of Chuck Berry riffs gave license to bands like the New York Dolls, who vamped until punk rock was ready for the curtains to be pulled back.  Ziggy was amazing, because of its sheer inventiveness, because of Bowie’s voice — and because of the crunch of Mick Ronson’s guitar atop the thunder of Woody Woodmansey’s drums.  What we’re getting at is that everything, from the concept to the sound of the band, rendered Ziggy Stardust as one of rock’s pivotal moments.

Which was why we got so excited by the idea that Capsula, who we consider to be the most exciting rock’n’roll band in the world today , were releasing their take on the album in its entirety.  The problem is, it doesn’t quite work.  Martin Guevara is terrific songwriter and bandleader, and an exciting guitarist, but he’s an adequate singer, and English isn’t his first language.  Bowie is, of course, one of the greatest singers ever, and his vocal performance on Ziggy made him a superstar.  Moreover, as great a drummer as Ignacio Villarejo is, on this album, the drums are a little muddy — in fact the whole production is a little muddled, which wouldn’t matter so much if it were an album of Capsula songs, but because it’s a remake of an album that depends on the singer’s voice, the particulars of the guitar sound, the precise tuning of the drum kit, it’s off-putting.  Musically, it fails, by a small margin, to deliver.  Because it is punk rock, Capsula’s version (with Ivan Julian, among others, playing along with the core band),  of “Hang On To Yourself” is amazing.  “It Ain’t Easy,” which starts out with Coni Duchess singing, is wonderful — better even than the Long John Baldry version!  “Suffragette City” of course is fantastic in Capsula’s hands.

Any of these songs would be startlingly wonderful live encores.  But doing the whole album?  Well, it likely could go in one of only three directions.  It could be a nominally reverent but actually tongue-in-cheek send-up, like Camper Van Beethoven recording Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk.  It could be an actually reverent, quite sincere effort to redo the original — which then would have to be compared to its predecessor on its terms.  Or it could have been enlivened, like Mike Nichols’ revival of Death Of A Salesman with Philip Seymour Hoffman — great theater because of the quality of the performance stretching the limits of an iconic play.  Alas, Capsula’s The Dream of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars falls in the middle category.

We love them no less for trying, and perhaps the balls it took to attempt this will open one of our very favorite bands to the global superstardom they deserve.  But sadly, Capsula’s version of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars does not transcend the original, or win on its own terms.

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