Archive for John Dyer

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.

Kelley Stoltz’s “Double Exposure” Has Been Released Into The Wild

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on September 24, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Kelley Stoltz is so much more than the sum of his influences.  But honestly, even if all he were was the sum of his influences,  having such a sophisticated take on the songwriting of Ray Davies and Brian Wilson and Lennon/McCartney would make him A-OK in our book.

It’s when you consider the following that we actually start to wig out: he sings self-harmonies better than Steve Miller, he plays guitar like Dean Wareham’s long lost bro, and he does all this all by himself, not in a garage, but in what we imagine to be an antique-strewn atelier, a place of rare craftsmanship, like the last man on earth who can properly bind the books in which the secrets of rock’n’roll are kept, to be shared only with adepts.  (Perhaps this is the moment to thank Jack White for the generosity and good taste that led him to release Kelley Stoltz on his Third Man label.)

And now on the long-awaited Double Exposure, which is his tenth record, but more important than that, a record which upon early listens seems at least the equal of his magnificent 2008 release, Circular Sounds, he still has the capacity to surprise.  The title track is in a long line of exquisite Kelley Stoltz rockers; it could have easily been on 2010’s To Dreamers.  But it’s perhaps the only song on the album that doesn’t seem like a departure; throughout, Kelley reveals himself to be more ambitiously setting a bigger sail for a farther port.

Showing the influence — yeah, another influence — of his San Francisco chum, John Dyer, whose Thee Oh Sees are worlds apart from, and yet completely aligned with, Stoltz’s sensibilities — a band made for sweating on stage, for levitating roofs, even as they have a melodic streak wide as the Bay Bridge — on the nine-minute long “Inside My Head,” Stoltz builds a coiling, motorik riff until it gets released with precisely the ambient sounds of Fripp & Eno’s Evening Star.   Interestingly, that’s exactly what Thee Oh Sees did early this year on Floating Coffin‘s “Strawberries 1 + 2.”  We’re guessing they had an Evening Star listening party.  Or better yet, they didn’t have to.

Much has been made of the garage atmosphere in which so much of the great music that’s come out of the Bay Area lo these these past five years is steeped.  And while Stoltz has far more in common with Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees than might be recognized by someone who isn’t a participant in that milieu, his channeling of the Kinks and the Beatles and Pet Sounds-era Brian Wilson does set him apart from the simplistic deshabille implied by “garage rock.”  Yet when you think of what that great pop craftsman Tim Presley is trying to accomplish with White Fence, what Tim Cohen is doing with Magic Trick (moreso than what he does with his other band, The Fresh and Onlys), Stoltz is revealed as both drinking from the same stream and replenishing it.

Want to see what all the fuss is about?  Want the ticket in?  Go listen to “Still Feel” from Double Exposure, which would seem to contain all of Kelley’s 10-album’s worth of accumulated charm in a single, six-minute goblet.  Aficionados will grok to the considerably better sound quality than has heretofore been served up.  Yes, even when Kelley Stoltz records have have been lower-fi than Tom Thumb they have always been Semper Fi with sonic gorgeousness.  But this sounds as if, though he may be recording at home, someone’s rewired the place.  He is clearly — true anecdote — no longer propping up the mike in his top drawer and leaning over to sing into it; someone — Jack White? — has at least bought him a mike stand.

If there were a Venn Diagram, and on the left side were all of the world’s elect who already know how great Kelley Stoltz albums are, and on the right side were all of Tulip Frenzy’s legions’o’fans, in the middle, clearly, would be the coolest cats in the land.  Our abiding wish would be to move more of you on the right side leftward into the red hot middle.  (We wouldn’t mind if some the folks on the left moved to right, too.)  We consider it our civic duty to introduce more people to Kelley Stoltz’s music.  Only time will tell if Double Exposure proves to be as great as Circular Sounds or Below The Branches.  So far, just a few hours of non-stop playing in, we love it.  We can’t imagine you’ll ever regret taking the plunge.


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