Archive for Parquet Courts

New Albums By Courtney Barnett, Parquet Courts, Wand, And The Brian Jonestown Massacre Get Summer Off To A Strong Start

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , on June 10, 2018 by johnbuckley100

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Courtney Barnett  Tell Me How You Really Feel

Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, which came out in 2015, is credited with being Courtney Barnett’s first album, and it certainly put her on the map.  But it was the 12 songs on The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas that stole our heart. Released in the States a year before her left-field hit, the double EP was less caffeinated, less torqued in its production, and the deceptive ambiance — it seemed like the work of a slacker, but she’s no slacker, as events have proved — was gorgeous and charming.  Sometimes I Sit thunders, while A Sea of Split Peas could have been recorded with Joe Jackson’s band from Look Sharp, vintage alterna-punk with classic pop songwriting.

Which is why Tell Me How You Really Feel is such a delight.  It takes things back down a notch. After it seemed like Barnett might have been a bit lost on her own — touring with Kurt Vile in support of their duet last fall, then arriving in the states early this year supporting partner Jen Cloher — Barnett’s new album is sure-footed, charming and in so many ways the proper successor to A Sea of Split Peas.

“Nameless, Faceless” revs up like Elastica, and “Crippling Doubt And A General Lack of Confidence” hit precisely that sweet spot of self-deprecating humor and Stiff Records swing that makes Barnett’s brand of punk so beguiling.  That Courtney Barnett seems to have found herself without having to turn the amps up to 11 is all you need to know about one of the season’s true highlights.

191402000108 Parquet Courts  Wide Awake

The distance covered by Parquet Courts between 2013’s Light Up Gold and Wide Awake, by our count, their sixth full album, is not unlike the journey Joe Strummer & Co. took between The Clash and Sandinista.  Wide Awake is clearly an album by the same group of Texas transplants whose debut reeked of spilled beer in late night Brooklyn clubs, but it incorporates their advanced degrees in musicology that they’ve picked up along the way.

We first saw Parquet Courts play on their 2013 tour with Woods, a Brooklyn band just a little older than them, but kindred spirits.  After Andrew Savage’s solo album last year revealed him having spent many hours listening to that first Little Feet album, it isn’t a wonder that a band who previously could claim kinship to Television would now populate their extremely literate storytelling with a dive into idioms, from reggae to funk, just bit more sophisticated than the high-speed rockers they entered playing.  Woods is a reference point, for they’ve done something similar.  But Parquet Courts do it here in a way that seems a summation, a culmination, their best, most comprehensive album.  Wide Awake is at once the album that makes you love where Parquet Courts have been and excited about where they’re going.

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Wand   Perfume

Longtime readers of Tulip Frenzy will remember that we gave Wand’s Plum Album O’ Ye Year in 2017, and on Perfume — which might have been called Mini Album Thingy Wingy if BJM hadn’t gotten their first — they continue their development toward becoming the greatest band on the planet.  Sure, Cory Hanson may be a junior partner to Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, and White Fence strictly in terms of his years on Earth.  But when measured against his West Coast peers in terms of recent output, who you calling junior, Junior?

“The Gift” sounds like an outtake from Plum, if only because we know that album was recorded in homage to Marquee Moon, and here Hanson’s guitar work is at least the equal of Tom Verlaine’s (or Nels Cline’s, for that matter.)  It’s simply a stunning song.  “Pure Romance” continues in the same vein.  They’ve come a long way from the tuneful prog of  Ganglion Reef, their debut from 2014.  We hope that the album’s closer, “I Will Keep You Up,” is a preview of coming attractions, for letting Sofia Arreguin carry half the vocal duties makes what is already a beautiful song utterly sublime.

We don’t think of this as the full album follow up to Plum. More like a teaser of future greatness.  There is no doubt in our mind that Wand will someday put out a masterpiece, and given the way they work, that someday could be, like, October.

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The Brian Jonestown Massacre  Something Else

When Something Else was released in May, we updated the Brian Jonestown Massacre playlist we began in 2012 when they released Aufheben. We titled that six-year old playlist “Late Phase BJM,” and have populated it with just the very best songs Anton Newcombe and his remarkably stable set of musicians have since put out on their various albums, short albums, EPs, singles, etc.  There are now 40 songs on the playlist, including six from Something Else, seven if you include the excellent “Drained,” the B-side of the single “Animal Wisdom,” which kicks of the record.

Are there any other bands who, since 2012, have produced that much good music?  If you think of the long and gloriously twisted history of the BJM, I’m not sure how many of the albums from the 1990s had as *many* good songs as Aufheben, Revelation, Third World Pyramid, and now Something Else — and this doesn’t even count releases like E.P.+1 and great songs like “Revolution Number Zero” and “Fingertips” put out as singles or on EPs.

Some time ago, we compared Anton to Dylan — an artist known for, principally, his earliest work, when the late work is, to our ears, of such high value, we’re convinced we’d be happy listening only to the recent stuff.

With the exception of “Who Dreams of Cats,” it’s possible no song from Something Else would be put on a 10-song assemblage of Anton’s greatest hits. And yet, six really good songs on an album, seven if you include the B side, shows what high quality his output is. And why we are so lucky to have it.

Parquet Courts’ Black Cat Show Was Raggedly Sublime

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 8, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Parquet Courts

These days, Parquet Courts face the inverse challenge to what they were dealing with in late 2012, when Light Up Gold put them on the map.  Back then, the question was whether the manic splendor of their live shows could be bottled and served up on vinyl, beer reek intact.  Two albums and an E.P. later, the question last night was whether a young act that has created some of the greatest recorded music of the past two years could have the tonal precision of that sound and those songs translate well live.

Regrets, we have a few, and when queried on our death bed, we know that ranked high among them will be our not having put Sunbathing Animal on the 2014 Tulip Frenzy Top Ten List (c).  And that wasn’t even their only album last year!  We must have been birdwatching or something, but somehow we missed the release, late in the year, of Content Nausea, which while not a Parquet Courts album proper — it was essentially a dual album made by Andrew Savage and Austin Brown — revealed a band that in a single year had emerged as a recording act justifying its titular sobriquet as “The Most Interesting Band In America.”  So how would *this* sound translate in a packed Black Cat where Parquet Courts were now headliners?

Andrew Savage’s voice was rubbed raw — he said it was due to an ill-advised karaoke competition.  When it all worked, such as on simpler thrashers like “Ducking And Dodging” and “Borrowed Time,” the skewed and sweaty dive bar ethos rang true, the house rocked, the crowd roared, clouds of sweat were formed.  But songs more dependent on getting the perfect vocal and guitar tone (say, “Black and White”) suffered a bit and brought to mind the irony that this magnificent punk band might best be heard through its studio output.

If Tom Verlaine were the Dalai Lama, and the body of monks were assembled to choose his successor, unquestionably Austin Brown would be the prodigy who would correctly identify his plectrum from a pile of confederates.  Our love of Parquet Courts circa 2015 stems from their having moved from Denton, TX to Brooklyn, NY and, as they gathered chops, decided to channel the sounds of circa 1977 Television on an epic night in the Bowery.  They are so much more than a band offering a derivative of New York at the end of the ’70s — to begin with, few are the artists who place as much energy and emphasis on intelligent lyrics as Andrew Savage does.  That they’ve thoroughly incorporated the Marquee Moon dynamic — not just the guitar work, but the dumb-boy choruses as well — makes us revel in their glory.  And this: hearing a song like “Everyday It Starts” — which on Content Nausea had basically fill-in drums, but last night had the full propulsion of Max Savage living up to his name — makes us realize these guys, when at their best, could give the Entertainment-era Gang Of Four a run for their Bitcoin.

So it wasn’t a perfect show because Andrew Savage wasn’t in the finest vocal fettle, and having seen them in front of 100 people in 2013, we know how amazingly they can play live when the stars are aligned.  And our expectations have been raised by the genius exhibited on their prodigious recorded output.  But if one wanted to confirm or deny whether the Parquet Courts were deserving of being Spin Magazine‘s 2014 Band of The Year?  Yeah, based on last night, totally.

Parquet Courts’ “Sunbathing Animal” Is Out, And Summer May Now Commence

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on June 4, 2014 by johnbuckley100

When Parquet Courts play, we’re transported to a distant time when the best rock’n’roll in the world emanated not from Brooklyn, but Lower Manhattan.  They know this — they are very self-aware — and they play their 1970s Television roots to a fare-thee-well.  For a band of primitives, Parquet Courts know precisely what they’re doing.  And it is glorious.

They kick off the spankin’ new Sunbathing Animal with “Bodies Made Of,” and we are immediately in the hypnotic two-guitar grip of Lloyd and Verlaine playing “See No Evil,” with the underlying riff of “96 Tears” adding a garage-band reference to the ur-punk swing.  By the time we get to “Dear Ramona,” we have a magical invocation of Frank Black’s “Ramona” and Television’s “Venus,” replete with the dumb-boy glee-club and its “huh?” chorus.  And it just gets better from there, songs of a minute-thirty length alternating with seven-minute opi.

Parquet Courts do what the most thrilling punk bands of the late ’70s routinely effected, a gambit to which so few bands since then have been able to pull off: they play with such utter authority within their limitations that you can’t figure out whether they are genuinely constrained or art-school geniuses slumming on a project.  They manage to be raw and thrilling one moment, pretty and beguiling the next, and they understand the weight of a broader cohort of songs — a live set, an album — in which they can power through skronk and immediately return with the most melodic tune, picked out by the two guitarists (Andrew Savage and Austin Brown) who play with such consonance you would swear they are a pop band in secret.  If it could be said — yeah, we said it — that Wire was a band that was always at their most interesting just when their reach exceeded their grasp, let us state here that Parquet Courts are both conceptually ambitious but also seemingly in control: they pull off that magic trick where it seems they are playing beyond their ability, but really that’s all  just part of the act.  Or maybe the act is to make it seem like it’s part of the act — the very asking of that question giving an indication of their conceptual intelligence.  There may be no more thrilling punk band in the world today.

The spoken-voice “singing”probably seals Parquet Courts’ commercial fate, or at least it would if we were living in an era where radio mattered.  In a Spotify playlist world, it is possible these guys are inches away from global domination.  We just don’t know.  What we do know is that when Light Up Gold, their first widely released album, came out at the end of 2012, we immediately placed it in the 2013 Tulip Frenzy Top Ten List (c).  We know that when we saw them live last summer with Woods, we felt the warm wash of nostalgia flushed by the excitement of discovering something wholly new.  We know that with Sunbathing Animal, Parquet Courts have released an album that will induce sophomores at Brown to drop out en masse, their move to Williamsburg inspired by just this one thing.

Even though Parquet Courts should be seen in a beery fog of a thrashing crowd, feet all sticking to the parquet floor, their new ‘un is an album all the coolest sunbathing animals will play through ear buds, while the summer sun beats down on the tar roofs of Brooklyn, the beaches of Saint Tropez.  Better reach for the Coppertone, as the finest band plying the Austin-Brooklyn axis keeps you riveted to their 14-song revelation.

The # 8 Album On The Tulip Frenzy 2013 Top Ten List ™ Is Parquet Courts “Light Up Gold”

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

We began the year by declaring that Light Up Gold was either the last great album or 2012 or the first great album of this year, and thank Heaven, for history’s sake, the judges ruled them into the present 365-day cohort.  For when this rec came out in November last year, we missed it.  We’re so glad it was re-released in time to kick January off with a bang.  And so glad we got to see them play live this past summer.

Here’s what we said about this album eleven months ago:

“If you have ever heard the Brian Eno demo of Television circa ’75, with Richard Hell still part of the band, you’ll begin to grok the raw’n’thrilling state these tyros presently inhabit.  Yeah, Richard Hell pre-Voidoids, without the showoff articulation of Ivan Julian and Bob Quine on guitar, but the otherwise loss of the ability to do anything but pogo in excitement at the ruckus they’re creating?  You got it, real rock’n’roll, with Light Up Gold being re-released approximately now, giving it a 2013 release date even though it came out nigh on two months ago.”

This is a band to watch, and rumor has it, that follow-up album coming out in January kicks.

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.

 

Woods And Parquet Courts At SPACE Gallery In Portland Was The Center Of The Universe, For Just One Night

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 15, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Woods Portland Main

iPhone 5  Woods

We introduced to the team at Tulip Frenzy the concept of a weekend road trip, magnanimously offering to fly them to the best rock’n’roll show anywhere in the world, wherever it might be.  One participant, a little long in the tooth, suggested we fly First Class to London to the see the Stones, with Mick Taylor, play at Hyde Park.  We were tempted, until we checked our bank statement.  Thankfully, it was at this moment that one of our younger folk — remembering well how we had named Woods’ Bend Beyond Tulip Frenzy’s 2012 Album of the Year ™, not to mention our having gone bonkers over them live last fall — pointed out that Woods was playing in Portland, Maine on Sunday evening.  Not only was it a little bit closer than London, but because Southwest Airlines flies there, we were now free to move about the country, and as a further inducement, our faves Parquet Courts were on the bill.  The matter settled, we opted for lobster roll + rock’n’roll.  We’re rather glad we did.

It’s all good news.  First, the next release by Parquet Courts is going to be a killer.

Parquet Portland Main

iPhone 5 Parquet Courts

They played the best songs from Light Up Gold — “Borrowed Time,” “Donuts Only,” “N Dakota,” closing with a (very) long “Stoned And Starving” — but at least two of the new songs were so good we stood there, 100 or so of the coolest people in the state of Maine surrounding us, our jaws demonstrably agape, and we didn’t care.  This one long, slow song in the middle was like seeing Television play “Marquee Moon” at CBGB or something.  And the penultimate song, with Austin Brown playing this batter-dipped lead line while Andrew Savage sang like a goddamned pop star was so good, we took the tee-shirt salesman by the lapels to demand he give us a release date. (He was vague, but fall seemed reasonable, and he set us straight that it’s an EP, not an LP, that you’ll see next.)

Parquet Courts are one of the very few contemporary bands that play as if nothing much has happened since the summer o’ ’79, and we say that as a high compliment.  They may be transplanted Texans living in Brooklyn, but they so easily would have fit in with downtown bands in Manhattan from that era that you feel like you are in a joyous time warp when punk wasn’t a style to be celebrate at the Met, it was the only way these kids knew how to play.  Take one part Feelies, a twist of early Fall, a soupcon of Richard Hell’s Voidoids and it all adds up to as glorious an expression of real rock’n’roll as exists these days.  And the  long, loping psyche jamming they elided into — and it is true that bands that are as comfortable playing songs that are ten minutes long as songs that are one minute long always bring a smile to the faces of the Tulip Frenzy hordes – make them a worthy underbill to Woods.

Jeremy Earl was in fine voice, which is to say hogs in Quebec were stampeding across the border by the time he’d finished “Cali In A Cup.”  He was quite nattily dressed in espadrilles, white-ish slacks, a proper blue shirt, and for the first time in recorded history, with trim hair ‘und beard and no hat.  He looked like when the set was over, he was going right on over to the Portland Yachting Club to trade sea chants with Thurston Howell — not as we remembered him!

Everything about Woods says force of nature.  Earl’s falsetto is a strange gift from the forest deities.  Jarvis Taveniere playing electric 12-string while Earl sings and plays acoustic, or bears down on satori while playing a pretty boss lead, is one of the wonders of the post-Byrds world.  I don’t know if the drummer is G. Lucas Crane — that’s the name listed as playing tapes and other gee gaws, but not necessarily the pounding of stretched animal hides with wooden sticks — but whomever he is, he’s a delight in concert.  And when Earl and Taveniere have set their course on astronomy domine, and they’ve shed their folk-rock booster engines in order to exit the atmosphere in psychedelic fireworks, well, it’s just at that moment that you realize all this racket is being both propelled and tied down by the remarkable Kevin Morby on bass.

Woods played our faves from Bend Beyond, including an alchemical version of the title track in which our brain matter liquified and our eyes spun like flywheels, and they too finished with a long jam of what we think is a new song but could well be mistaken.  Whatever it was, by this time many of the hard-working lobstermen and their whaling wives had left to prepare their nets, or whatever it is they were compelled to do at a comparatively early 11:45, Woods concluded the festivities, a smattering of applause rang out among the 50 of us still there, and we emerged into the streets wondering… well, several things.

One, how is it that the center of the rock’n’roll universe, on this particular Sunday night, ended up in Portland, Maine?  (Is it that Portland and Brooklyn bear such a locavore affinity, that the former has been absorbed into the latter, which would claim this part of Maine as a suburb of NYC?) Two, how is it that bands can be as great as Parquet Courts and Woods and not have it be them standing up before the multitudes in Hyde Park, instead of those skinny septuagenarians in the Rolling Stones who should have retired before Parquet Courts was born? How many evenings in a year does magic occur in a small space such as this with a 100 or fewer people there to recognize it?  Will Woods’ next album be as great as Bend Beyond, or might that be their peak? Finally, how is it that, among all the spots on earth where we could have been last night, we were lucky enough to have been there, to see Woods and Parquet Courts make an old sea port come alive like Moby ‘effin Dick was still on the loose?

Prince Rupert’s Drops Move The Punkadelica Center O’ Gravity East

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 14, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Since the demise of the late and much lamented First Communion Afterparty, Tulip Frenzy has kept up a lonely vigil trying to locate the next great American punk band whose ambition drives them not to Nirvana-esque pop-smithery, but to the halcyon days of hallucinations and Fillmore Ballroom acid testing.  We long ago posited that the Magic Castles were candidates for America’s best young band, and meant it, but with the discovery of Prince Rupert’s Drops — whose debut album Run Slow was released last November — it is possible FCAP’s successors have, like the young Dalai Lama correctly pointing to the glasses of the lama from whom he was reincarnated, identified themselves.

Some weeks back we went just that slight bit nutso over Parquet Courts, the Texas transplants who moved to — natch — Brooklyn, and since then they’ve caused quite a ruckus.  But November 2012 will be notable not just for the release of their sweaty-club extravaganza, for it also brought us Run Slow.  Prince Rupert’s Drops may be a little closer to delicate British bands like The Koolaid Electric Company than psyche-powerhouses like Assemble Head In Starburst Sound, and we will admit that what set alarm bells clanging and forced us to reach for our iTunes was the Uncut tweet comparing them to a mix of The Jefferson Airplane and Fairport Convention, which gets it about right.  So yes, the Airplane with Sandy Denny, not Grace Slick could be one shorthand descriptor that gets it right.  But it doesn’t quite nail how authentically, thrillingly weird they can be, how the female lead vocalist sounds like she could call in the hogs at the New York State Fair, how they can back up all that guitar energy with piano adding that just, well, Prince Rupert’s droplet of color.

And so naturally they come from Brooklyn, an imaginary place where all the cheese is stinkier, all the chocolate dark, and all the bands exist, through magic, in the full flower of ’60s perfection.  Lord knows we miss our First Communion Afterparty, but if we can’t have them, hallelujah for Prince Rupert’s Drops.

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