Archive for Fleshtones

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.

The Fleshtones’ “Take A Good Look” Wins Super Tuesday

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on January 23, 2008 by johnbuckley100

It’s two a.m. somewhere in America, and the Fleshtones are leading a conga line out into a dirty, rainy street.  Keith’s guitar pokes the door open, Bill’s dragging along and pummeling the tom tom, and while Peter does the frug, Ken’s bass is still thumping through the amps they’ve left inside.  The crowd follows, girls giggling, boys laughing til they can’t stand up, all the diehards deputized as official members of the Fleshtones Glee Club, singin’ along.  Right at this moment you say to yourself, “How long can they keep being the best rock’n’roll band in America, playing their hearts out night after night — ever since Gerald Ford was president! — putting out really good records year in and year out, alas never quite getting that break?”  Suddenly a patrol car pulls up, and just as you wonder whether their luck, and yours, has gone from bad to worse, the cops get out dancing to the tune of “Jet Set Fleshtones,” and you know, your heart tells you, no, you can feel it in your bones: these guys aren’t done yet.  No way.  Not the Fleshtones.  Just to prove it, today the ‘tones released a new album (produced by Ivan Julian of Voidoids fame.) “Take A Good Look,” something like the 17th long player by the Gods of the Garage, is the Fleshtones’ best album in at least ten years, and one of the top three or four records of their long and storied career.

  •  The sound is a throwback all the way to those singles and the “Roman Gods” album produced by Richard Mazda.  And of course it is: Ivan Julian, one of the only New York punkrockers who could generate as much six-string excitement as Keith Streng, knows the really good Fleshtones records have always had their inspiration come from Mies Van Der Rohe.  No, not when he said, “Space is liberation.”  When he said, “Less is more, dummy.”
  • The dynamic of the band has shifted, with Keith now singing one out of every three or four songs.  I’m not complaining, though I happen to think Peter Zaremba is now and always has been one of the great vocalists in rock.  It’s just different.  Keith’s asserting himself as never before, singing songs like “Shiney Hiney,” which is not a disquisition on the groundwork of the metaphysics of morals, but a set of instructions about what the world can kiss.
  • If, like me, you think of the Rolling Stones’ “Between The Buttons” as a pop album, you’ll understand why the Fleshtones have always been so much more than just a garage band, so much more than just the most exciting band that’s ever jumped up on top the bar in your hometown and done the gentleman’s twist.  In an ideal world, no, in a halfway decent one, “Love Yourself”, with its haunting blues harp and infectious beat, would be coming out of radios on every dashboard in town.  That it won’t proves nothing but the deficiencies of the planet we live on.
  • Don’t believe me?  Go listen to the title track, to “Jet Set Fleshtones,” to “Ruby’s Old Town.”  Next time Bono boasts about his coop in the San Remo, or wherever it is the rich rockstars live, play him the Fleshtones song “New York City.”  It reduces the U2 song of the same name to so much twaddle.

Yes, I’ve listened to the new Black Mountain, and to the new Cat Power, both out today.  The Fleshtones win Super Tuesday in a landslide.  Those other guys have put out good records, about which Tulip Frenzy will be weighing in later.  For now let’s shimmy out the door and celebrate the ‘tones return to magic form.

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