Archive for Darker My Love

At Long Last, A Proper Studio Album From White Fence, And A Gem It Is

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on July 22, 2014 by johnbuckley100

Keith Richards tells the story of how the hollow-sounding chords at the beginning of “Street Fighting Man” were recorded on a little cassette in a hotel room.  We were beginning to get the feeling that if Tim Presley wrote such a masterpiece — he’s written others — he would have released that hotel output, never bothering to go into the studio.  Thank Heavens the Stones had the good sense to release the song in its full sonic glory, studio treatment and hotel track, tinny chords and all.  And thank God that Ty Segall — maybe that’s redundant — persuaded Presley to go into a studio to create For The Recently Found Innocent, because this seventh White Fence is a beaut.

We knew what Presley could do, not just because his band Darker My Love released Tulip Frenzy’s #1 album in 2010, Alive As You Are.  And in 2012, Presley and Segall collaborated on Hair, which qualified as no less than that year’s 2nd best album.  And then, after we complained for what seems like ever that we wished Presley would get out of the bedroom and take his talents to a proper studio and record with a proper band, not to mention straighten up and comb his hair etc., he closed out the year with a live masterpiece — White Fence’s Live In San Francisco, which made our Top Ten List(c).  What a hootenanny that one is!  Maybe the best punk rock record of the last five years!  You could hear John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees chortling at the knobs, as he recorded Presley in all his barrre-chord glory.  And now we can hear the impact of his friend Ty Segall, who plays drums and produces what is already apparent as the best batch of White Fence cookies to come out of the oven.  Ever.

Whether he’s an introvert, or just likes the freedom of recording at home, the intervention by friends Dwyer and Segall to get Tim Presley to share with the world a better sounding version of the magic that takes place the moment he picks up a guitar is surely welcomed.  We are done comparing Presley to Kurtz, gone up the river.  On For The Recently Found Innocent he has brought his jangly guitar, his reverence for early Who and Kinks dynamics, his fondness for psychedelic chords, wispy vocals, the patchouli ambience… brought it all to a studio where Mr. Segall himself plays drums and marshals the Dolby hiss fighters to render this in damn near high fi!

If you think we’re enthusiastic about this, you’re right, and aside from dropping a big hint that you’ll hear more about this when it is time to lasso the best o’ 2014 into our little compendium, we should quit the writing about it and get back to nodding our heads to the beat. Yes, it has one.  Tim Presley has recorded a proper studio album and White Fence can get the Spotify airing and due it is so solemnly owed.

White Fence “Live In San Francisco” Shows The Benefits Of Tim Presley’s Getting Out Of The House

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on November 21, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Tim Presley is a remarkable American rock’n’roll talent.  The last Darker My Love album, Alive As You Are, was so great, we awarded it Tulip Frenzy’s 2010 Album of The Year.  Higher-proof praise is legal only in countries that sell absinthe.

‘Cept we nearly did it all over again in 2012, when we called Hair, the album he and Ty Segall released, the second best rec of 2012.

So clearly, our admiration for Presley is up there with the warm feelings we hold for such luminaries as Jean-Claude Killy, Nelson Mandela, and Donald Barthelme.

But the thing is, we didn’t really like his work with White Fence, which most of the time bears the same relationship to a real live rock’n’roll band as, well, Tulip Frenzy bears to a real music blog.  See, White Fence is, in its previous recorded output, basically Presley sitting at home and recording his very interesting, very weird, rather slight songs, probably from his couch.  The White Fence albums are not to be confused with what Ty Segall does in a studio, when what sounds like a guitar army with a gorilla on drums turns out to be Ty alone, spitting out raucous and tuneful magnum opi all by himself.  It’s not like what Kelley Stoltz, just to name another Area Code 415 pop genius, does when he recreates the sound of the Lola Vs. Powerman-era Kinks without any assistance from another living humanoid.  The White Fence records all sound like great demos, and leave us yearning for the “real album” with “a real band.”

By this past May, even though we quite liked Cyclops Reap, we’d taken to comparing Presley to Kurtz, gone up the river, with the need for someone to go bring him back to HQ.  Living on the East Flank of the land, without much access to White Fence live, we were skeptical of listening to a White Fence record that twanged our woogy the way Presley’s work with Darker My Love or young Ty clearly did.  (Remember, we called Alive As You Areperfect record.)

But now comes White Fence: Live In San Francisco, and hallelujah, it is one of the hardest, bossest punk-meets-Byrds-in-Andy-Warhol’s Factory documents that you will ever hear.  Ever.  Great bashing drummer, multiple guitars, Presley singing into the microphone like he means it, it contains none of the fey and tentative, dreamy pop chops that the prior White Fence albums have.  “Pink Gorilla,” which was one of the best songs on Cyclops Reap, is magical, as is the other song from that album, “Chairs In The Dark.”  “Harness” is such gob-flying late ’70s British punk, you can imagine Fred Armisen playing on it.  So of course the Great Man of the Epoch, Thee Oh See’s John Dyer is a prime mover behind the release, and we can only imagine his no B.S. admonition to Presley: Tim, get out of the house and play these songs with a real band.

We are so glad he did.  This is the punk rock Album Of The Year.

Tulip Frenzy’s #1 Album of 2010: Darker My Love’s “Alive As You Are”

Posted in Music with tags , on November 30, 2010 by johnbuckley100

Let us admit that we can’t do better than the wag who said that Darker My Love’s Alive As You Are is “what the Byrds would have sounded like if they’d grown up listening to the Byrds.”  That’s particularly good, because it’s so accurate. Alive As You Are is a throwback that would have seemed derivative if it hadn’t been flawless — a flawless time capsule from the late ’60s woodshedding/gone-to-Marin era, a country rock gem.  One false note and maybe we would have questioned how a band whose leaders had once played with the Fall, and whose drummer was recruited from the Brian Jonestown Massacre, and whose first two albums plied the wire between punk rock and neo-psychedelica, could have produced an album as sunny and light as this.  Tim Presley and Rob Barbato are great singers, and superb songwriters, and these guys are to three-chord rock what Apollo Ohno is to the short track: they are graceful and precise, and know how to make their move.  Alive As You Are at first sounded like some weird detour, but we’ll be surprised if, no matter what sound comes next, they break the phyllo-thin crust of harmony and joy that encased this record so delicately. Since the advent of the cassette deck, we’re hard pressed to remember more than a handful of albums we’ve listened to in their entirety, over and over, without cutting off one downer or dog from our playlist.  The first J. Geils album.  The Clash.  Surfer Rosa by the Pixies. Take It From The Man! Darker My Love has just entered rare company: a band that has made a perfect album.  And in 2010, as in any other year, you can’t beat perfection.

Darker My Love’s Holiday Song

Posted in Music with tags on November 30, 2010 by johnbuckley100

Christmas arrived a little early… Thank you, Target.  Thank you, Darker My Love.

BTW — it will become very clear very soon why Tulip Frenzy finds a holiday song from this band to be very special to post this year…

Darker My Love, Live On KCRW

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on September 25, 2010 by johnbuckley100


Darker My Love’s Lighter Approach In “Alive As You Are”

Posted in Music with tags , , , on September 5, 2010 by johnbuckley100

Darker My Love’s new album is such a different affair from their first two, the wonder is they didn’t release it as a side project.

It got us to thinking.  About how Graham Greene used to write some novels as, well, novels, and others as entertainments — a way of distinguishing contrapuntal notes of seriousness and whimsy in his oeuvre.  And about how in recent weeks Google’s Eric Schmidt made news offering up his approach to youthful indiscretions, namely to offer all young adults the chance to change their name, and thus wipe the slate clean from arrest records, or typical beer-party Facebook postings.

So the question on the table is whether it would have been better for Darker My Love to have issued this third record under an assumed name.  Or at least a different name, since it presupposes a completely different band is at work.

Don’t get us wrong, there’s nothing Darker My Love needs to run away from  — either for the left-field masterpiece that Alive As You Are turns out to be, or for their prior work. After all, their eponymous first album and the not-so creatively titled 2, were nothing to be ashamed of.  In fact, few are the bands that have played so assuredly as Tim Presley and his colleagues — psych punk with melodies, harmonies, and still an occasional nod to The Fall.  (In fact, half the band have degrees from Mark E. Smith’s rock’n’roll finishing school, as impressive in some parts as a diploma from Harvard.  And with a lineage that includes stints in The Nerve Agents and The Distillers, no one should question Darker My Love’s ability to play punk rock.)

Nothing prepares us, though, for the Byrds’n’Burritos approach of  Alive As You Are.  A re-listen to the first two albums does give hints of immersion in previously unnoticed tunefulness that reminds us of the Elephant 6 bands; on this new one, we find delightful echoes of Olivia Tremor Control in “18th Street Shuffle,” and when the peddle steel gives way to Norwegian wood, slices of Apples in Stereo. For those keeping score at home, that’s maybe the handiest reference point… the Elephant 6 bands.. a metaphorical portal through which Darker My Life enters mid-60’s California jangle. But then we also hear bands like The High Dials and Beechwood Sparks… you know, bands who seem to have spent as much time listening to The Notorious Byrd Brothers and Rubber Soul as they ever did to the Pixies or Nirvana.

It’s possible that Zia McCabe (see below) is right that people don’t like bands growing so much that you can’t recognize their signature in later work.  For we notice that “Alive As You Are” has not been greeted with rose petals from some of the rock crit cool cats who miss the power chords and monster riffs.  It’s okay, as rock crits and other kids are often caught flatfooted when the context changes this drastically.  And veering from The Fall to Gram Parsons is the sonic equivalent of a journey from Alaska to Key West, more than 3/5s of a mile in 10 seconds, a journey so fast we usually hear sonic booms, though in this case we mostly hear harmonies and pretty melodies.

There is something classic at work here, something great in its own right. It seems that Darker My Love have taken the same Sneaky Pete detour that bands of an earlier generation once did, heading from the city to Marin, leaving behind the hard rockin’ early work for a trip through the purple sage.  Whether it’s a lark or a hard left turn into the wild is what’s unclear.

Whatever it is, I find it fascinating. This is a band with the chops, breadth, and balls to give 60’s country rock a whirl.  Mark E. Smith may be shaking his head at what his former proteges are doing, though I’m guessing he’s grokking it just like we are. Let’s hoist a wheat grass smoothie to a band willing to confound all, while producing an airy, technicolor bit ‘o something rustic that’s far grittier than mere nostalgipop.

The Ones That Got Away: 2008 Albums Tulip Frenzy Wished It Had Noticed

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on November 18, 2009 by johnbuckley100

As the gang at Tulip Frenzy World HQ gets ready to prepare the 2009 Tulip Frenzy Top Ten List, let’s just acknowledge that long about February, we’ll already be playing music we missed from this year and saying, “Damn, how did we miss that?”  So just to clear up some  loose ends, let’s put down the list of music from 2008 we flat out missed.  There was a lot of good music that came out in 2009, but here’s what we listened to from 2008, regretting it took us so long.

First Communion After Party

How it was we missed the best record by a new band in 2008, we may not know, and we’re not too proud to admit it.  FCAP’s Sorry For All The Mondays and To Those Who Can’t Sing was the best debut since, dunno, Echo and the Bunnymen?  The Pixies? This neo-psychedelic powerhouse from Minneapolis was on the iPod all year long.  Too bad we couldn’t have given them their due.  And boys and girls?  Time to get back in the studio and crank out a new one.  After all, since we consider you as good as, if not better than, Black Mountain, the Black Angels, the Warlocks, Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, and have been telling this to everyone we meet, it’s time to pick up the slack and crank out new tunes!  We want you to put out the best album of 2010!

Tift Merrit

We really like Tift Merrit, we just got a little sick of her circa Bramble Rose. Somehow last year she came out with a killer album, Another Country, and it wasn’t until this year that we went, Who was that?  And sure ‘nough, it was Tift.   Who uncorked a scorcher of a country’n’torch song soulfest.  Love it.

Darker My Love

Straight out of the BRMC school of fuzztone punk, kickass beat, and solid, throbbing mid-tempo songwriting, Darker My Love released their second album in 2008, imaginatively entitled 2, and we missed it.  Fortunately, we got on the bandwagon and discovered their even better eponymous first album from 2006 (they save their creativity for the studio, not titling their albums.)  Wish we hadn’t missed ’em, glad it wasn’t a permanent error.

King Khan and The Shrines

We’re not even sure we missed them last year; it may have been the year before.  After all, one of the two or three greatest garage rock songs of the last decade is their “Outta Harms Way.”  But if you go sleuthin’, you’ll find it shows up on various albums spread out over a couple of years.  The one on the obscure Serbian label may have come out first, or was the Burkina Faso version?  Anyway, the version we first heard came out last year.  Missed it.

Okay, enough admission of fallibility.  We’re not planning on going on a self-lacerating kick.  It happens.  Wait til next year… when we review what we’re about to miss when compiling our list of the best of this year…


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