Archive for First Communion Afterparty

White Fence’s “For The Recently Found Innocent” Is Tulip Frenzy’s Album of the Decade; Ty Segall Named Artist of the Decade

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2019 by johnbuckley100
White Fence For The Recently Found Innocent

That lowly scrum of slackers who moon about Tulip Frenzy’s Global HQ like the gangsters of the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club were hoping to avoid the debate over the decade’s best album. Things can go terribly wrong when you start such discussions.

Some of the gang’s resistance stems from their admittedly deep knowledge of rock’n’roll history, wherein choosing the best record from the decade not even past calls up Chou En Lai’s response to Henry Kissinger, who asked Chou’s opinion of the French Revolution: “Too early to say.” It was 1972.

Some of us are still squabbling over whether OK Computer or Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space were the best albums of the ’90s. Moreover, with the hindsight of 40 years, can you really pick the ’70’s best album?

Much of the unwillingness to dig in, though, was due to the team’s needing Thanksgiving to get a quorum, set time for debate and invoke cloture. We need a deadline, the looming end o’ year — not to mention all the other glam sites we compete with putting out their lists — to force a determination of which record ranks supreme. Choosing from a ten-year span when we haven’t fully considered the options from the present one seemed, if not quite ass backwards, then at least as unaligned with Cause and Effect as Slothrop’s map of conquests was with the Poisson distribution of fallen V2 rockets.

But then along came Friend of the Site Allen Goldberg who taunted us, in like late October, with Paste or someone’s list of the decade’s finest. While it named many of the right bands (e.g. Thee Oh Sees) it consistently chose the wrong record (e.g. Castlemania). Which prompted a remarkably coherent and efficient response from the Tulip Frenzy editors.

Pool cues, far from being raised in anger, were gently rested on felt. The mid-afternoon guzzling momentarily fell silent. We all got together and, like, talked it out.

One editor suggested, “Let’s just figure out which albums from 2019, if any, should be considered, and throw them into the mix; it’s not like we have to do our whole annual Top 10 list before we can say which ones would make the decadal grade.”

To my surprise, from outta left field came this logical suggestion: since Tulip Frenzy has done an annual Top List each year since 2010, why not look at which records were included and jump-start deliberations by culling from the 90 chosen in each of nine one-year increments?

There was no getting out of it. We would chose the decade’s best… 20 sounds like a good number … albums.

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Before we reveal the list in full, a few words about the decade. 2010 to 2020 was a really great decade for real rock’n’roll.

And yes, we’re painfully aware that rock’n’roll is no longer the common language of our culture. “Popular music” these days contains precious little rock’n’roll (have you seen that horror show which is the Grammies?) If you wanted to be mean, you might even say that Tulip Frenzy — which used to believe it was dedicated to a highly refined subset of “pop music” — is today better defined as passionate supporters of unpopular music. Un-pop. Yep, that’s us.

So we get it. When we publish our list of the 20 best albums of the 2010s, we know it will bear little resemblance to the Best of the ’10s lists from other, less discerning sites. We know it’s quite possible that just as several of the rock critters, if we may even call them that, who put together the list for, say, Rolling Stone may not know any of the bands on our list, we may not know any of the bands on theirs. (Could someone please explain to me who Beyonce is?) Which of us should be more shamed by that development?

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Of the previous five decades in which rock music has been, if not the dominant musical art form, at least pop music’s organizing principle, two 10-year cohorts comprise an unassailable, uncontroversial collection of the Greatest Music of All Time — the ’60s and the ’70s. Yes, a Boomer point of view, but no less true because of it. I mean, these days Millenials play as much music by the Beatles as we do…

One decade — the ‘Aughts, 2000-2009 — barely registers as having a musical personality, but maybe we’re confusing things because we can never settle on what that decade should even be called. Between the rise of neo-psychedelica – bands like First Communion Afterparty, for example — and the incredible Power Pop of The New Pornographers, it was a decade with tasty output. But at this point, Chou En Lai was right: it’s too early to tell whether the ‘Aughts can be seen as a decade of distinction.

The ’90s were, surprisingly, as great as the ’60s and the ’70s. Fully two-thirds of the music I listen to today was either made in or sprang from the ’90s. So many artists were either in their early glory — Brian Jonestown Massacre, Dandy Warhols, Luna — or in peak form, cf. Bob Dylan, Fugazi, R.E.M., Nirvana, Spiritualized, Radiohead, Pearl Jam, Whiskeytown, P.J. Harvey, Blur, Oasis, Jesus and Mary Chain, the Mekons, Matthew Sweet, Prince, Iggy Pop, Tom Petty, and I could go on. One could happily go to a Desert Isle with a ’90s-programmed juke box and foreswear all rescuing.

At the same time I know we can all agree that the ’80s sucked. Some of it was technical — the simultaneous advent of the CD and the adoption of synthesizers everywhere led to precious few albums that are today even listenable. Even in a decade in which R.E.M., U2 and the Pixies ruled the roost, so few albums sound good, it’s hard to spend time there. But the problems were more than technical, more than just the brittle transition from analog vinyl to digital CDs.

The ’80s reflected the tide going out to sea, taking the Clash and Gang of Four and Joy Division and Wire — all the great late ’70s bands — with it. Even though stalwarts like Lou Reed, the Replacements, Prince, Robyn Hitchcock, Galaxie 500, Sonic Youth, and early on, Bowie and the Stones all produced memorable ’80s albums, as decades go, it was a loser.

So where does all this leave us ranking the 2010s? Honestly, pretty high. Maybe not quite up there with ’90s, but ahead of the ’80s for sure, and about a furlong in front of its preceding ‘Aughts.

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The decade that began on New Year’s Day 2010 was driven by a handful of musicians about whom only a small portion of the world has ever heard. You and I — yes, you Bub — we all listen to Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Tim Presley/White Fence, and Kelley Stoltz. To us, this cast of characters was as influential in making the 2010s a great musical decade as Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone were in making the ’60s great. They played a role as important as what Brian Eno, Patti Smith, David Bowie, Joe Strummer, Tom Verlaine, Lou Reed, and David Byrne did in the ’70s. And none of them ever has or — gotta admit it — likely will ever headline at Wembley Stadium or even Coachella.

But rock’n’roll in the ’10s was amazing, and if you want to give credit where it’s due, let’s just go ahead and name Ty Segall Artist of the Decade. I count 13 solo albums, two albums with the Ty Segall Band, one with Mikal Cronin, two with White Fence (Tim Presley), and I can’t even keep up with Fuzz, Gøggs, and all the other offshoots.

Even if we were scoring him based only on his own output, I’d put Ty ahead of his only two competitors — John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees and Kelley Stoltz. But Ty’s impact can be felt on the generosity behind his producing first albums by Wand, Feels and Shannon Lay. And there are more I just can’t remember. For those of us in the rec room at Tulip Frenzy, it was an easy decision. We think the greatest music of a pretty great decade somehow ties back, if you’ll pardon the expression, to Ty Segall.

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With no further blathering here’s the list, in typical Casey Kasem reverse order:

The 20 Best Albums of the 2010s were:

20. Calexico Algiers (2012)

19. The Vaselines Sex With An Ex (2010)

18. Wire Change Becomes Us (2013)

17. Alejandro Escovedo Burn Something Beautiful (2016)

16. Parquet Courts. Sunbathing Animal (2014)

15. The New Pornographers Together (2010)

14. The Brian Jonestown Massacre Mini Album Thingy Wingy (2015)

13. Capsula In The Land of the Silver Sun (2011)

12. Robyn Hitchcock Robyn Hitchcock (2017)

11. Kelley Stoltz My Regime (2019)

10. Wand Laughing Matter (2019)

9. Ty Segall Freedom’s Goblin (2018)

8. PJ Harvey Let England Shake (2011)

7. Amen Dunes Love (2014)

6. Courtney Barnett The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas (2014)

5. Radiohead A Moon Shaped Pool (2016)

4. First Communion Afterparty Earth – Heat – Sound (2013)

3. Woods Bend Beyond (2012)

2. Thee Oh Sees Floating Coffin (2013)

1. White Fence For The Recently Found Innocent (2014)

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I probably should just leave you here, preferably with a budget to go buy these as vinyl albums so you can sit in your rec room discovering them in your own way. But let me help you out just a bit.

There was amazing consensus among the editors that the White Fence album — Tim Presley’s brilliant tour through British Invasion and ’60s psychedelica, with only Ty Segall, natch, accompanying him (on drums) — was the odds on best record of the decade. Of all the records here, this is the one that, we are confident, will hold up longer than the French Revolution.

One could have named any number of albums by John Dwyer as high on this list, whether put out under the moniker of Thee Oh Sees, Oh Sees, OCS, or whatevs. But Floating Coffin was his best album of an amazing decade. Here’s a band that started out as a folky duo, soon became the funnest punk band in the land, and these days sounds like Miles Davis leading Hawkwind. Floating Coffin is the very best of their mid-period punk’n’melodic chaos.

Woods has taken a step back of late, but they released four amazing albums in a row and Bend Beyond is the best, earthy, tuneful Upstate music recorded in Brooklyn, or was it the other way around? Note: this was the last album in which Kevin Morby played bass. Yes, Kevin Morby.

We never thought we’d hear a third First Communion Afterparty album, but this most exciting psychedelic band of the ‘Aughts managed to have a record released from the grave. By the time EarthHeat – Sound came out in 2013, ace Minneapolis bandleader Liam Watkins was on to his next ‘un, Driftwood Pyre, whose one and only album so far was amazing. But this one was really special. I happen to think First Communion Afterparty was the most amazing left-field entrant of the Century To Date — go find this album. Like, today.

Radiohead’s second album of the decade was… Radiohead’s best album of the decade. ‘Nuff said.

We know that people have gone nuts over Courtney Barnett’s first “proper” album, but really, it was the suturing together of her two E.P.s into A Sea of Split Peas that introduced her to me in 2014, a year before anyone Stateside was grokking on her, and it’s still her best work.

When we heard Amen Dunes in 2014, we could hardly believe how great and weird they are, or more accurately, he is. Damon McMahon’s reach for prime time with 2018’s Freedom was wonderful, but Love, its predecessor, is a desert island album. It is so weird! Even as it’s straightforward freak folk marrying, say, Devendra Banhart with Brian Eno. Love this rec!

PJ Harvey‘s Let England Shake was a work of power and delicacy, a vibrantly intelligent work, and we love it. The year it came out, we gave the Tulip Frenzy Top 10 honors to Radiohead’s King of Limbs. That’s a great album, but we should have given the honors to Harvey’s memorable invocation of — of all things — World War I.

Ty Segall put out a LOT OF MUSIC in the 2010s. Freedom’s Goblin, a double album with his touring band, including especially Mikal Cronin, is worthy of the great double albums from days of yore. It is his Electric Ladyland or Quadrophenia. A major work by a major artist, the Tulip Frenzy Artist o’ da Decade. It is also, if you’ve yet to discover him, a great entry point as it has it all — punk rock, No Wave skronk, Beatles-esque folk, even a fun detour into “The Loner”-era Neil Young. Did we mention it begins with an homage to his dog?

We can’t tell you whether Wand or Kelley Stoltz will be accorded the soon-to-be-announced 2019 Tulip Frenzy Album o’ The Year. So we clustered them together. Wand is now the most impressive band playing on the planet. With comparisons to Radiohead, you know that Wand’s making great music. Laughing Matter is brilliant.

Not to be outdone, Kelley Stoltz put out the single best album of his amazingly consistent, astonishingly creative career — and My Regime shows how far he has grown from his earlier work, about half of which could have been included on this list of the decade’s best.

The redoubtable Robyn Hitchcock must have known he was putting out his single greatest album of a long and stellar career — a journey in which he has, and I’m serious, written more good songs than anyone but Bob Dylan — because this was the only album in which his name suffices for the title.

Argentine-spawned, Bilbao-housed punk rock magicians Capsula have released a lot of good music since 2005 — this was the best of a good lot. It is a delight to hear a trio play with such abandon — and never give up the hooks or melody.

While the decade’s output by Anton Newcombe can best be found sprinkled across singles, E.P.s, and albums, we chose the 34-minute long Mini Album Thingy Wingy to represent the Brian Jonestown Massacre because, yeah, it was his/their best album.

Five more to go? Sheesh. Okay, the New Pornographers released four great albums in the decade and, yup, this’n’s the best. Hard to choose the best Parquet Courts album — a band so good that now young tyros like Bodega are walking in their shoes — but we think we have. Alejandro Escovedo can still crush it, and with Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey, he did. Wire may be from the ’70s, but when I saw them a couple of years ago, all the younger musicians in the audience were grinning, and this record takes songs actually written in 1979 (and released then as a bad, messy album) and properly records them in a 2013 studio. Kurt Cobain-faves The Vaselines walked out of Glaswegian history to record two wonderful 2010s albums, but I chose Sex With An Ex because of the sheer thrill it gave me to have them return. Finally, Calexico has given all of us at Tulip Frenzy World HQ much joy when we’ve seen them live, but this is the album of theirs that we play in full.

Stay tuned for the upcoming Tulip Frenzy 10 Best Albums of 2019 list, circa Thanksgiving. Once we’ve recovered from writing this…

Greatness On The Installment Plan: Driftwood Pyre’s “Strangeways” EP

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on April 22, 2017 by johnbuckley100

strangeways-ep

Driftwood Pyre claimed Tulip Frenzy’s 2015 Album of the Year honors, and a few days later, we were pleased to publish an interview with the Minneapolis psych band who carried the half-filled chalice left over from First Communion Afterparty.  Where FCAP was a Summer of Love band reborn with punk grit, Driftwood Pyre revealed themselves open to other nominally more straight-ahead rock influences, including the likes of Oasis.

Now, en route to a follow-up album to their incredible Driftwood Pyre debut, they’ve released an EP, Strangeways, which fills us with confidence in their future, for this is another installment on their march toward greatness.

“Shatter Star” kicks off the proceedings with a nod to Anton Newcombe, a heretofore unacknowledged influence on Liam Watkins, either in his current band or in First Communion Afterparty, which we think was the greatest psych band of the 21st Century, no small praise. On “Into Blue” we get a taste for what a fine punk band they must be live, an exultant, up-tempo number, important to have second in the line-up lest we think that mid-tempo rockers are the land where the band resides. Courtney Olsen’s drumming kicks like a herd of wildebeest, and with the full panoply of ex-FCAP guitarist Joe Werner on lead and former Rocking Horse People-bassist Aaron James laying a solid rhythm down, we can hear the band in all its glory.

“Protozoan” is a reminder that no one starts a song with a slow-picked guitar line as sensuously as Liam Watkins. “The Tide” sounds like what woulda happened had early Dream Syndicate crashed a Television rehearsal, all jangling Fenders and too-animalistic drumming. By the time we get to the lush and sludgy title track, keyboard player Jeanne Oss adds sonic space winds to the proceedings, as Watkins’ voice reminds us of everything we loved most about his former band.

Strangeways fulfills the essential showbiz challenge: it leaves us wanting more.  For anyone who missed their chance to grok on First Communion Afterparty during that band’s unfortunately short life, you have much to look forward to with Driftwood Pyre.  For God’s sake, start now.

Tulip Frenzy Exclusive Interview With Driftwood Pyre, Whose Debut Was Our 2015 Album Of The Year

Posted in Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 8, 2015 by johnbuckley100

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On Sunday, we revealed that Driftwood Pyre had beaten a tough field to claim the #1 spot on Tulip Frenzy’s 2015 Top 10 List.  This likely made sense to anyone who has heard this brilliant band, and especially those who read our rave review when the album came out in early November.

Driftwood Pyre founder Liam Watkins was a prime mover behind the band’s Minneapolis forebears, First Communion Afterparty.  He now joins Tim Presley (Darker My Love and White Fence) as the only person to have parlayed two different bands  into snagging top honors in Tulip Frenzy’s annual ranking.  Through EXAG ‘ Records, he graciously agreed to answer some questions.

1. Congratulations on taking Tulip Frenzy’s Album of The Year honors. Tell us about how the band came together and the process of recording the album. We know you and Aaron (James) began putting the band together in 2012, but would love to know more about how all the members of the band joined, and over what span of time the album was recorded.

Thank you so much for your continued support! We are ecstatic to be featured at the top of such a fine list of musicians. When I started Driftwood Pyre back in 2012 I set out to create a collective. The idea was to make a one-off album and feature many artists backing me up on the songs I was writing in the studio. Recording with Aaron was incredibly easy because he is truly a one-man band. He covered the early drum, bass and some backing guitar tracks.

After a few sessions Aaron and I had set the foundation and invited Joe Werner, my former bandmate in First Communion Afterparty, to lay guitar tracks down. It was at this point that the three of us had decided that we needed to solidify a line up and scrap the collective idea.

Jeanne Oss was a friend and former roommate of mine who had recently moved to Minneapolis and was really interested in playing with a live act. We had her come into the studio to lay down some organ and vocal tracks and knew immediately that we wanted to add her to the line up. All that was left was to find a drummer and after about three weeks of practicing with Aaron substituting on drums he had good news. Courtney (Olsen) was an old friend of Aaron’s from when they lived and played in bands in Los Angeles. She had just moved to Minnesota and was looking for a new project.

When Aaron told us we had found a female drummer I was so excited. I love working in creative environments with women and I knew she would be the perfect fit. We continued to write, record and scrap song after song over the next 2 years as we perfected our sound.

In October 2014 we were approached to sign with EXAG’ Records in Belgium and about two weeks later Jeanne Oss took a job opportunity in San Francisco which was very bittersweet at the time but we were fortunate enough to have recruited Marie DeBris, formerly of FCAP and Magic Castles, to play organ and percussion for us.

2. What’s the songwriting dynamic in the band. We clearly recognize songs that have your signature on them, but do you and Aaron share songwriting duties? Whole band get into the act?

Joe Werner and I are the songwriters in the band but everyone writes their own parts. Usually my songs are created from playing a random riff during practice and if it catches the attention of the band and everyone jams on it we will give it structure and lyrics. Joe has a more traditional approach to his writing and spends a lot of his time outside of practice writing song after song.
3. Now that the album is out, tell us about plans for 2016, and particularly whether you are going to tour outside of the Upper Midwest. (We certainly hope you get to the East Coast…)

We have tentative plans to tour Europe in 2016 and would like to play CMJ and SXSW in the next year. Touring is something that we all are ready for and it is very important for us to reach our audience outside of the Minneapolis psych scene.

4. We are only familiar with First Communion Afterparty as a prior reference point for Driftwood Pyre, but as stated in the review last month and in the Album of the Year write-up, it seems like Driftwood Pyre is — to paraphrase Paul Westerberg — maybe slightly more in the center of the dial than all the way over to the left. Is that conscious? Reflect a change? Or just a reflection of where the songwriters and musicians were when they sat down to produce the record?

We definitely set out to do something different. I didn’t want this to be FCAP version 2.0 and never wanted to come across as a one-trick pony. Our musical influences have evolved quite a bit over the past 10 years and ultimately we wanted to play music that people could dance to.

5. You may have noticed that two other bands from Minneapolis were in the Top 10 (Magic Castles, Flavor Crystals.) Where does Driftwood Pyre fit in? Other bands with whom you are simpatico that we should check out?

I’ve watched the Minneapolis psych scene grow since 2005. Many amazing acts have come and gone and a few heavy hitters like you have mentioned have held on but it’s not our intention to adhere to what a traditional “psych” band is supposed to sound like. I can definitely say that we are the black sheep of our local psych community but we are more interested in what is happening outside of Minneapolis.

Another Minneapolis favorite I think you guys should check out is Chatham Rise. They are an amazingly talented band and they make incredible records.

6. Even though your record is just out, we’re obviously eager for what comes next. Do you have plans for studio time in the months ahead?

We have 6 tracks for our next album already recorded and mixed. The sophomore album has been written in its entirety and we are working on material for a third release.

So… exciting news.  And you heard it here first about the second Driftwood Pyre album nearly out.  Tulip Frenzy’s #1 gift from Santa would be learning that the band is going to play DC when they head to New York for CMJ.  Wherever you are, this is a band you must check out.

Driftwood Pyre Rekindle The Embers of First Communion Afterparty

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 6, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Lucky you, people of Earth, for this morning you can download the first album by the Driftwood Pyre, the kickass remnant of the most astonishing psych band our species produced circa 2009-2012, First Communion Afterparty.

In retrospect, we still can’t believe how great First Communion Afterparty were, though their posthumously released Earth Heat Sound was Tulip Frenzy’s 2013 Album Of The Year.  When their first studio album Sorry For All The Mondays And To Those Who Can’t Sing came to our attention in the summer of ’09, we were ready to camp outside the ticket office of the Verizon Center to see them.  How were we to know that they seldom toured beyond the precincts of the Twin Cities, and that we might have been the only person in the Mid Atlantic who saw them for what they were — inheritors of the best elements from the Bless Its Pointed Little Head-era Jefferson Airplane, the harmonies of the Mamas and the Papas, the guitar punch of the Jesus and Mary Chain.  The vocal dynamic of the band was what clinched the deal, Carin Barno able to swing between Joplinesque grit and emollient warbles, with Liam Watkins proving himself to be a classic punk singer happily working off a debt to everyone from Roy Loney to Iggy Pop.

It’s Watkins who walked away from FCAP and nurtured the embers back to life in Driftwood Pyre, a band that is at once every bit as interesting as their predecessors and also more straightforward.  If you’ve a certain cast of mind, you’ll get this analogy: at times, Driftwood Pyre is to First Communion Afterparty as Pink Mountaintops is to Black Mountain — clearly linked by a guitarist/singer/songwriter, but just a little more fixed on rock’n’roll’s center than its nether regions.  And that’s a good thing, if you’re hoping Driftwood Pyre can achieve the global dominance FCAP deserved.

There was something almost mystically powerful about First Communion Afterparty’s Earth Heat Love, and Driftwood Pyre invoke it on songs like “Comatose,” “Take Me To Your God,” and “Karmaceutical.” Watkins follows the links of the great San Francisco bands with guitar lines steeped in the blues, a Jorma Kaukonen-esque pedigree, and his vocal reaches are cosmically inspired.  But as with FCAP, there’s an enveloping harmonic convergence with an angelic chorus of girls ‘un boys softening any hard edges.  While wholly original — though of course we hear FCAP in the song structures — on “The Day Nico Died” we hear the Cramps channeling Dylan ’65, on “Paper Petals” we hear the Gallagher brothers in their Heathen Chemistry prime, and “Super Moon” made us reach for our Mazzy Star.  This is — work with us here — the album we wish The Black Ryder could release, a record paying its debt as much to Rubber Soul as Darklands-era JAMC.  Having just spent a few weeks knee deep in other Minneapolis bands — Flavor Crystals and Magic Castles — it’s nice to hear a psyche band less indebted to the Brian Jonestown Massacre, but would Anton Newcombe look on approvingly from stage left?  Oh yeah.  And when they make Big Hits Of Mid-America Vol. V, all three bands can roar together.

From the sloughs of band-breakup despond… an instant nostalgia from having missed seeing FCAP live… to the joy of discovering that Liam Watkins and his fellow travelers made it to a life-sustaining planet where they can produce amazing new tunes, we couldn’t be happier.  People of Earth, this is a great day.

Follow Tulip Frenzy on Twitter @johnbuckley100

The New Flavor Crystals Album Sends A Shiver Up The Spine

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 23, 2015 by johnbuckley100

You really have to listen to the Flavor Crystals’ new album, though not if you have anyplace you need to go.  The Shiver Of The Flavor Crystals is the fourth LP from the Twin Cities psych band, and once you put it on, you may as well sit down and settle in. You won’t want to leave.

Hailing from precincts that have given us First Communion Afterparty and The Magic Castles, the Flavor Crystals quickly dissolved into a minimalist solution, with droning guitar lines over a steady beat, the vocals sometimes an afterthought.  Even fans — and we very much consider ourselves in that category — will be forgiven for admitting the Flavor Crystals are a little more thrilling on stage than perhaps heretofore on their albums, which occasionally have put the Ambien in ambient.

The Shiver Of The Flavor Crystals is stronger than even the best songs on 2008’s Ambergris, which is saying something, and reminded us of why, the moment we saw them open for The Brian Jonestown Massacre and then downloaded “Checker Board” from their debut, On Plastic, we saw Flavor Crystals as a necessary additive to our life.  It is much stronger than their heralded Third, which we found a little lacking in propulsion.  These songs dial up the melody and urgency, though the band certainly never breaks a sweat.

There aren’t easy comparisons to other bands, more like affinities.  The songs are based on the interplay between guitarists that  places them on the same taxonomic scale as Luna, Television, Real Estate.  Twin City friends and fellow BJM allies Magic Castles come to mind.  But then so do much louder bands like My Bloody Valentine, and even more intricate composers like Jonny Greenwood.  Honestly, I could see putting a song like “Diamond Mine” not on a psych playlist, where I’ve routinely dropped their best ‘uns over the past few years.  I could see playing it back to back with Miles Davis’s “In A Silent Way,” maybe with something by Cluster and Eno.

This is gorgeous music, thrilling and relaxing at the same time.  Play it loud.  Just don’t plan on going anywhere.

First Communion Afterparty’s #1 Album On The Tulip Frenzy 2013 Top Ten List ™ Now Available For Download

Posted in Music with tags , , on December 19, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Yes, the torrent of email continues, with readers wanting to know how they can download Earth Heat Sound by First Communion Afterparty.  Go here!

Not yet up on the iTunes Store, but I believe that if you order the vinyl record, you can immediately download the digital version.  Which means you can listen to the album today, AND you have a holiday gift for your very hip 15-year old nephew.

Wait, you’re not aware of the greatness of First Communion Afterparty?  Ah, easy to rectify.  Just go here!

 

The #1 Album On The 2013 Tulip Frenzy Top Ten List ™ Is First Communion Afterparty’s “Earth Heat Sound”

Posted in Music with tags , , , on December 8, 2013 by johnbuckley100

You may not be surprised by this choice, given how we raved about it, but we were.  The odds were against our saying Earth Heat Sound was the best album of 2013, because until mid-summer, we’d given up on ever hearing the thing.  

By now you know the saga: Tulip Frenzy’s collective belief that First Communion Afterparty were the best band in America, only to find out, sometime after the fact, that they broke up in 2009 or so.  We despaired of ever hearing this record.  And then came word… a mysterious email from Minneapolis… a hint the band was playing one more time… or maybe twice, as they were going to have a record release party…. Did you say record release?  But this must mean… Yes, and they released it a few weeks ago, and our life is complete.  Well, more complete.

Here’s what we wrote:

“Counter to every storyline you might expect, following the conventions of Hollywood, Earth Heat Sound is no disappointment.  It’s an astonishingly great album, showing the growth we would have expected after Sorry For All The Mondays revealed them to be the single greatest buncha hippies at work in our savage land.  What were the circumstances under which the album was recorded, and how it fits into the saga of their breakup, we do not know.  What we know is that bittersweet feeling of being grateful we have this to listen to, and even more distraught that there may never be anything again quite like it.

“Jesus Told You,” which gets things going, captures what’s so special about this band.  Layers of drums and tambourine undergird Joe Werner’s sitar-treated lead guitar, as Liam Watkins strums and sings along with Carin Barno in some Haight-Ashbury choir.  Watkins’ voice always has a punk rock weariness, but when bassist Sarah Rose and keyboard player Marie DeBris wrap their angelic tongues around Carin’s purty warbles, there’s a Mamas’n’Papas sweetness to the overall psyche effect.  That’s the band in miniature: melodic songwriting, ’60s guitar, a deep-bottomed, energetic rhythm section, and a chorus of voices singing around a campfire in Golden Gate Park during The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.  Sparks fly, timelessness rules.

“Balloons” is a reminder that underneath the dreamy vocals and the layers of guitars and keyboards, this is a band powered by Nic Grafstrom, a drummer of the Aynsley Dunbar/Bev Bevan school o’ tricks.  ”Featherhead,” emanates from the Skyline, Starlight EP, but in this fresh context shows how much growth the band made between that first studio album and this.  ”Field of Flowers/Spring Rites” and “Shone Brightly” are two of the songs that, via YouTube, always promised that when Earth Heat Sound was released, it would be a killer.  Included here, our more than three-year vigil for the album was time well spent.

The antecedent that constantly comes most to mind when listening to FCAP, exemplified by a song like “Sleep Away,” is the Jefferson Airplane, which prior to 1970 not only made great records, they were a fantastic live band. “Featherhead” is that rare song here that shows a contemporary influence, in this case My Bloody Valentine.  It’s the exception that proves the rule: First Communion Afterparty were/are sui generis, a band that harkens to the greatest sounds of the Summer o’ Love, while being utterly contemporary.  Admittedly, ending the album with “21AAA”, a 14-minute song, is a bit of a throwback, and yeah, we’ll listen to it about as often as we listen to Ummagumma, but still.

Well done, First Communion Afterparty.  How a band this original, this fine, this thrilling could slip away from us makes the poignancy of the departure only sweeter.

A public service announcement: to buy Earth Heat Soundgo here.  Order it in vinyl, and you’ll get a card to download it too.”

Yep, still not out on iTunes.  WORTH THE EFFORT to buy via the link above.

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