Archive for Parquet Courts

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…

Ty Segall’s “Freedom’s Goblin” Is Tulip Frenzy’s 2018 Album O’ The Year

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2018 by johnbuckley100

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Who are we kidding? Everyone knows the best record of 2018 is the reissue of The Beatles. Unless it was Bob Dylan’s More Blood, More Tracks. But given that technically neither album saw its original release in 2018 — the Beatles record came out half a century ago, and you’d be middle aged if you were born the year of Dylan’s album — let’s make way for the young ‘uns. And in this, 2018 was a good vintage.

1. Ty Segall     Freedom’s Goblin

We could not be happier that Ty released a double album that was chock full o’ classic songs, cooked up on his own or with the usual suspects, Mikal Cronin in particular.  We have been waiting for the better part of the decade for Ty to put everything together, and on Freedom’s Goblin he really did.  Full-band renderings of complete songs, stylistic impatience that heard him sound like Neil Young and No Wave bands nearly back to back, Freedom’s Goblin cemented Mr. Segall’s standing as his generation’s brightest light, even as it stood heads and tails above all others as the Album of The Year. That he subsequently released a prett-y fine rec of covers only brought even deeper appreciation for his version here of Hot Chocolate’s “Every 1’s A Winner,” which would have had Prince clamoring to join Ty’s funky band.

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2. Amen Dunes    Freedom

When Damon McMahon released Love in 2014, it might have landed from outer space; it was so original, so unique in its Freak Folk sound that  it was hard to get a grip on it. We looked forward to its follow up, and when it didn’t arrive the next year or the one after that, we got concerned. In January, though, “Miki Dora” was released and it was astonishing, a song about a real-life ’60s surfer that literally crested at the end, crashing on the beach with melody and power sufficient to sweep us all to sea. Freedom is a beautiful, ambitious and accomplished album, an attempt by McMahon to reach a bigger audience.  It succeeded on all fronts: strong songwriting, incredible singing, and a band that Dylan could snatch for his Never Ending Tour and it would all make sense.

 

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3. Menace Beach      Black Rainbow Sound

We admit that we’d never heard of the Leeds duo until Brix Smith, ex-Fall and current chief pirate in Brix & the Extricated, tweeted in August that she’d contributed to the new Menace Beach album.  One listen and we canceled our summer plans. Black Rainbow Sound may have spent more time in our earbuds than any other record the whole year long. While there were some reference points those of us lucky enough to have heard Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark the first time round, and even Young Marble Giants, could use to place them in their proper taxonomy, we’ve previously written that the combo of AC Newman and Neko Case, otherwise known as the New Pornographers, may be the portal through which to approach Menace Beach. All we know is that there wasn’t an album we listened to the whole year long that trawls as many hooks. Despite its synthetic composition, Black Rainbow Sound is the most natural power pop album of this year and many others.

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4. Brian Jonestown Massacre      Something Else

The Tulip Frenzy conference room erupted in more charges of cheating than were heard anywhere this year other than in the North Carolina Board of Elections, but the prevailing consensus, if not the rulebook, dictated that Anton Newcombe gets special credit unavailable to others.  The fact is, we listened to more good music produced by Anton this year than any other artist, but he’s so fucking prolific, he tends to drop songs that should go on the main album just because they’re done and he has a single he wants to put out. So in our mind — and in our judging — we included “Drained,” the B-side to “Hold That Thought,” which was both the first single and the first song on Something Else, the umptyumpth BJM album of the last decade.  And this put it over the top. Adding just that one song rendered an album featuring “Who Dreams of Cats” — among the best songs of Anton’s career — into something really special.  (The Full Newcombe this year would have included the second album Anton made with Tess Parks, plus that combo’s E.P. featuring “Grunwald,” a song so great Iggy Pop covered it in August.) So, yes, we apply special rules to Anton’s records.  He deserves it, and if you don’t know that, we have nothing to talk about.

 

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5. Wand      Perfume

It was a free for all, the judging room this year.  Some of our editors held out the verdict that, at just under 30 minutes, Wand’s Perfume was more like an E.P.  At least not like a proper album, especially since last year’s Plum was clearly deserving of its (Co-) Album of the Year status.  But then we sat down the recalcitrant judges and played them the beautiful “I Will Keep You Up” and they began to weaken, one of the holdouts even willing to say, “That’s the most sublime song Cory Hansen has ever written and Wand’s ever released.” It was when we all listened together to the Tom Verlaine-like guitar perfection of “The Gift” that towels were thrown in and it was clear: Wand’s Perfume is a real album, and the 5th best of 2018.

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6. Spiritualized      And Nothing Hurt

Jason Pierce famously claimed that And Nothing Hurt would be his final album, until people listened to it, went crazy, and petitioned him to do some more. Happily, we think he’s agreed. This was not as fine an album as 2012’s Sweet Heart, Sweet Light, but that was Spiritualized’s best album since Ladies and Gentleman, We Are Floating In Space, which was only the best album of the 1990s, which was only the best decade of music since the ’60s. So, you can see what And Nothing Hurt was up against, and what it pulled off: a soulful album, sung in Pierce’s typically exhausted voice, but backed up once again with a big band and chorus revolving around the tracks he put down in a home studio. This is a road album, something to put on the cassette deck strapped to the dashboard of the dark green 1971 XKE as you motor on up to the Cotswolds.  Gorgeous stuff.

 

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7. Oh Sees       Smote Reverser

John Dwyer has now recorded five albums with this version of Thee Oh Sees, and in the studio, the double-drum arrangement with him playing guitar like some combo of Hendrix, John McLaughlin and Pere Ubu’s Tom Herman really works.  Smote Reverser had the same combination of well-strategized opuses and songs that crush the skull.  On a song like “Last Peace,” which opens up into free-wheeling punk jazz that thrills the soul while still stunning the senses, it works.  On Deep Purple-inflected crushers like “Enrique El Cobrador,” we admit we yearn for the comparative delicacy of earlier incarnations. Still, in a year when Ty Segall takes top honors, we’re glad that Dwyer’s still in scoring distance. Next year could be his year.

 

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8.  Parquet Courts     Wide Awaaaake

The Parquet Courts have, since 2013, been such a reliable producer of great records we’ve overlooked ’em when it comes time to hand out the prizes.  Parquet Courts? Oh yeah, sure, I only listened to their record for, like, the entire summer, but now I’ve moved on to other things… Not this year! Like fellow Brooklynites Woods, Parkay Quartz have figured out how to incorporate reggae, Latin and ’70s funk into their output, and it’s all really good! These guys are so much of an institution that a band like Bodega could put out an album that is to Parquet Courts as, say, Teenage Fanclub were to Big Star, and no one even mentioned the pure homage! We love this band, and Wide Awake is just begging for the uninitiated to take the plunge.

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9. Calexico       The Thread That Keeps Us

Seeing Calexico again was one of the highlights of 2018, and so was listening to The Thread That Keeps Us, their best album since 2008’s Carried To Dust. The sheer conceptual grandeur of Joey Burns and John Covertino’s particular take on music that straddles our southern border had tremendous resonance in a year when evil forces tried to turn that permeable membrane into cement. When we hear the Mexicali horns on “Under The Wheels,” synapses fire like our taste buds after biting into a pepper. This is the soundtrack of America as it actually is, not as it is wished to be by MAGA-hatted assholes.

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10. The Limiñanas      Shadow People

Our year began in the cold of January listening to the hypnotic, glorious sounds of The Limiñanas, a duo from Perpignon, France caught deep in Anton Newcombe’s orbit, Praise the Lord. In fact, the song “Istanbul Is Sleepy” features Anton on vocals, and it may be his most powerful singing performance of the year. There is something about the infectious, garage propulsion of this band that makes one think of late night bacchanalia after the grapes are in, when Peter Hook plugs in his bass, as he did on this record, and Anton plugs in his guitar, and we’re all crawling over the stage in some cavernous warehouse, grokking deeply the global glories of rock’n’roll where you don’t even need to speak the language to know what’s great. Shadow People was incredible, and so are The Liminañas.

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.

Parquet Courts’ “Light Up Gold” Is Either The Last Great Album of 2012, Or The First Great Album O’ This’n Year

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 6, 2013 by johnbuckley100

When you listen to Parquet Courts’ Light Up Gold, you can almost smell the sweat fog in the tiny Brooklyn clubs where the material was honed, and you unconsciously lift your feet from the floor to make sure spilled beer hasn’t affixed you to something far less glamorous than parquet.  We can easily understand why so many people who have appropriately lost their minds in fandom for the young Texan migrants to Area Code 718 keep referencing  the Modern Lovers, but really, there is a far, far more apt mid-’70s comparison to these young garage rockers.  Playing Light Up Gold back to back with Television’s Marquee Moon only reinforced the brilliance of the latter, not least of which how amazing the sound was on the first Television studio release.  But 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.

We saw reference to them in the January Uncut Magazine while in an airport waiting room, and downloaded the album by the time Group 37 was being loaded onto the flight.  People looked at us funny as we bounced in our seat, shouting aloud above the headphone roar.  You’ll react the same way too, especially if you go see them this Wednesday night at D.C.’s The Rocketship.

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