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Wand Brought Their Sweet “Plum” To DC9, And Played The Most Exciting Show In Memory

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , on October 9, 2017 by johnbuckley100

Wand 2017All images Leica Monochrom and 35mm Summicron v. IV

The D.J. was playing Television’s “Marquis Moon” when Cory Hanson climbed up on DC9’s stage last night and strapped on his Stratocaster.  He played along for a moment, which makes sense when you consider that our early warning on how powerful Wand’s new album Plum would be was when Hanson told Uncut, “I was reading about how Television wrote Marquis Moon and they’d go into their rehearsal space five days a week for four hours a day.  So I decided to go in six days a week for 10 hours a day.  We pushed harder to see what would happen.”

Wand released “Blue Cloud” a few weeks before pushing Plum out the door, putting us on notice that not only was Wand ready to rehearse like Television, they wanted to beat them at their own game.  And from the moment last night that Evan Burrows furiously kicked into “White Cat” and Hanson and new addition Robbie Cody began trading guitar lines like Verlaine and Lloyd, it was clear they had.  As great as Television were (and are), Billy Ficca is no Aynsley Dunbar, and Burrows is unquestionably the greatest drummer playing in a band today.

Wand 2017-3

We feel like Wand has grown up before our eyes, from their 930 Club debut in 2014 opening for Ty Segall to their stunning show at the Black Cat in 2015.  From the release of Ganglion Reef to Plum, they’ve grown from songs with titles like “Flying Golem” and “Reaper Invert” to becoming surely the only rock band extant to write a poignant song called “Charles De Gaulle.”

On their first two albums, born like Catholic twins maybe 10 months apart, their early roots showed the influence of mentor Ty Segall, with Black Sabbath chords played at speed metal tempi.  But Hanson’s always had a melodic grounding, and any band that could put “Growing Up Boys” on their first album was destined for great things.  With Plum — with shows like the one they put on last night — their destiny has arrived.  We can’t think of a better album released this year, nor a better show than we saw last night.

Since they were here last, Sofia Arrequin was added on keyboards and vocals, and with her arrival Wand’s sound has shifted from synth-heavy support for Hanson’s fluid guitar and pretty voice to a band playing with the fluidity of White Denim, the guitar interplay of the Soft Boys.  They’re a unit built around the core propulsion of a breeder reactor, but could only be riveted tighter if they rolled out of the Boeing factory.

Wand 2017-5

Cory Hanson has the preppy good looks of a Kennedy, and he came out in similar garb to what he was wearing last year when he and Burrows – for a few months putting Wand aside — toured as part of Ty Segall’s Muggers.  Since then, Hanson’s released a solo album as distant from Wand in it’s delicate sound as fellow Angeleno Shannon Lay’s Living Water is from her punk band Feels (also once produced by Ty Segall).  Taking a vacation from the thunder of Wand’s first two albums, and the ambitious prog-pop of their third outing 1000 Days was clearly good for the band, as were the additions of the two new members.

Wand 2017-6

Wand is at the height of their powers, but writing that we know they still have plenty of room to grow.  Some strong albums have been released this year by both Ty Segall and West Coast giant John Dwyer, whose Oh Sees made our August.  But among the West Coast’s finest, Wand’s come out on top, the best young band working today.  We stand back in awe at the prospect of what they’re capable of.

With The Arrival Of Cosmonauts And The Molochs In D.C., Our Long Miserable Winter May Be Over

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 24, 2017 by johnbuckley100

CosmonautsLast night may have signaled the turn, a more meaningful sign than that groundhog in Pennsylvania giving the thumbs up, letting those of us who’ve suffered through the invasion of our city by Trump’s clown posse know the end of our misery is nigh.  We are  of course talking about two of the coolest bands in the land hitting DC9, both of ’em playing sets that left us smiling, maybe even exultant.  Cosmonauts and The Molochs on a double bill signals the end of winter, a reason to quit moping about what’s happened to our country, our city. It was, in a word, sublime.

You can tell we are as out of touch as the Republicans in Congress because when the rumor first circulated through the Tulip Frenzy office complex that the Cosmonauts and Molochs were coming to DC — and playing together — we went to the Verizon Center ticket counter, only to learn they weren’t playing there.  So we figured it had to be a chilly outdoor show at FedEx Field, or Nats Park, or maybe RFK Stadium?  We were shocked they were playing a small club like DC9, our single favorite upstairs rumpus room.  But we gave the Tulip Frenzy staff the night off and encouraged everyone to go.  After an argument broke out about whether the Cosmonauts had pulled a crowd bigger than Beyonce, a former Park Service employee threatened to do a comparison of photos, like Obama’s inauguration crowd vs. Trump’s.  But then our official statistician settled matters by simply declaring the crowd size at “less than 1000.”  So there you have it.

We ranked A-Ok, the fourth Cosmonauts album, as #6 on Tulip Frenzy’s 2016 Best Recs list, and it really was an incredible album, both in its own right and as a London Calling vs. Give ‘Em Enough Rope step up from 2013’s wonderful Persona Non Grata. So we were really happy when they began their set with “Short Wave Communication” and all but three of the songs they played were from A-Ok.  Just as good, the two songs they played from Persona Non Grata were a medley of “Shaker” and “What Me Worry,” and the lone offering from If You Wanna Die Then I Wanna Die was the coolest T. Rex homage this side of fellow O.C. bro Ty Segall, “Super Reverb.”

When Cosmonauts started out, they rode the slipstream behind John Dwyer’s Thee Oh Sees, a band whose name gave away its Orange County roots.  But since their move to L.A. and with the extraordinary A-OK under their belt, Cosmonauts have done something remarkable: they have broken new ground, transcended their influences, and now they are a band that younger bands will be compared to.  In their own way, they have become peerless.  Last night live, their psych roots were showing, and for a band that used to describe themselves as “drug punk” — a near perfect description — the sound of a 12-string Fender posted against a lone Strat, with a throbbing, sinuous, groove-oriented rhythm section, all added up to sonic nirvana, even as maybe they were as loud as Nirvana playing an arena. Um, though they were in DC9…  All in, a fantastic band, and their arrival in D.C. — at long last — was an epochal event, even if the crowd was “less than 1000.”

Cosmonauts Molochs

Before the great Cosmonaut’s set, The Molochs brought their blend of Brian-Jones-era-Stones-play-the-Whiskey-A-Go-Go to an adoring crowd.  We loved America’s Velvet Glory, as readers of Tulip Frenzy know from our January ravings.  Live, The Molochs are as interesting as any band playing Shindig circa 1967, though we miss the girls in the fishnet stockings dancing in suspended cages. There is a period-perfect jangle to their version of garage rock that skips right over LA progenitors from the Paisley Underground and goes straight to the ’60s sources.  Less than two months after the release of their album, The Molochs have just released a new E.P., which we didn’t know about ’til they told us afterwards when we asked where we could find that final song of their set — the one that blends “Sympathy For The Devil” with the Velvets’ “What Goes On”… yeah, think about that… — and they told us AVG Sessions EP was out now on iTunes.  Go, at once, and download their whole catalogue.

So on a morning when we woke up to the first Jesus and Mary Chain album since the Clinton Administration… and as word further circulates that Trumpcare and its authors are royally screwed… it may still be cold out, but things are looking up.

On Their Third Album, “Plaza,” Quilt Weave A Masterpiece

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

Just two years ago when Quilt released Held In Splendor, we could not get enough of their gorgeous harmonies and blend of Summer o’ Love psych within the construct of a three-minute pop song that suddenly accelerates into the cosmos.  On Plaza, the Boston-bred band, claimed by Brooklyn on wavers, take everything to a different level: the songwriting, the production, the performances.  This ‘un will reside on our hard drive until we leave the planet.

Anna Fox Rochinski gets the proceedings going with “Passersby,” which sounds like Golden Palominos-era Syd Straw singing at a garden wedding in the sunlight of Big Sur.  Already we can tell what we are in for: an expanded pallet with flutes floating over keyboards and guitar, the purity of her voice in no way obscuring that this is a band that could jam ’til the last stoner leaves Bonnaroo.

On the songs where Rochinski and Shane Butler sing together, we enter the realm of Cali Power Pop with a nod to Revolver-era Beatles.  Need to get your bearings?  Okay, remember when the Bangles covered Katrina and the Waves’ “Going Down To Liverpool”?  Yeah.

If we had not caught Quilt on their sophomore tour with upper classmen Woods in the late-winter of 2014, we might not have fully understood these guys are so much more than an art-school project, taking perfect form in the studio.  Listen to their 26:18-long version of “Milo” on that year’s Quilt In Marfa release and you get a sense of the band in full: in the open air of West Texas, in an art enclave, for cryin’ out loud, these guys wail like wolves.

Yet on the thoroughly pleasing Plaza they play like Eloise in the back hallways, thoroughly free yet constrained from the mean streets of New York.

Residing on our hard drive ’til we leave the planet…

Quilt are playing at DC9 on Saturday, March 5.  See you there.

Are Brooklyn’s The Men Chosen Incarnations Of Our Fave Deceased Bands?

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on May 25, 2012 by johnbuckley100

The Dalai Lama was chosen, it is said, because as a pup, he correctly identified the right glasses owned by a recently deceased lama.  Is the rumor true — okay, we started it — that The Men correctly chose Brendan Canty’s drum stick, Bob Mould’s ear plugs, and Thurston Moore’s plectrum when, mere boys they were then, the punk rock lama’s tested whether they were true incarnations of these cosmic punks?

All we know is that when we heard Open Your Heart, which was released last month, a shiver of recognition went up our spines.  Back down again, too.  The ghosts of Fugazi, Sonic Youth, and Husker Du were present in the room, even as the speakers vibrating made books fall from shelves, and the whole house shook like the ending of an Indiana Jones movie.  And there’s something else going on here, too — a little bit of Warlocks-style modern SF psyche. A Philly cheesesteak smear of Asteroid #4. And then there is this strange harmony guitar thing that makes us think of Cream and Hendrix.  Did we mention that, like White Denim, they are perfectly at home throwing in the odd cowpunk song, too?

The Men opened for Ty Segall and White Fence at Webster Hall two weeks ago, and now fresh after having released Open Your Heart, apparently have hightailed it to fresher climes to record the next one.  They may be mere boys, but these guys are mensches.  By the time The Men hit DC9, we will celebrate the 5th of July as the real American holiday.  Let’s give it up for The Men.

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