Archive for First Communion Afterparty

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.

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:

Houndstooth

David Bowie

Kurt Vile

Phosphorescent

Crocodiles

Robyn Hitchcock

Parquet Courts

Thee Oh Sees

Kelley Stoltz

Magic Trick

Neko Case

Capsula

Deathfix

Secret Colours

Kevin Morby

Wire

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.

 

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