Archive for Spiritualized

The Vacant Lots’ “Departure” Updates Spaceman 3 For A New Generation

Posted in Music with tags , , on July 27, 2014 by johnbuckley100

Since 2010, we’ve been tracking the Burlington, Vermont duo The Vacant Lots, whose status as opening act for Dean Wareham and the Brian Jonestown Massacre tells you a lot.  Their sound is really a cross between Spaceman 3 and Suicide — electronic drones generated by machines, with guitar and vocals riding atop the Fritz Lang concoctions.  Departure isn’t exactly what its title promises: it’s much of what you’d expect from the band’s earlier work, and is for this reason excellent, occasionally thrilling, and one of the summer’s highlights.  If you heard “Never Satisfied” on the radio, you really might think that Jason Pierce and Sonic Boom had run into each other at an insta-studio and cranked it out — that’s a high compliment!  We intend to listen to this one ’til our hard drive fails.

Tulip Frenzy’s #4 Best Album Of 2012 Was Spiritualized’s “Sweet Heart Sweet Light”

Posted in Music with tags , , on November 23, 2012 by johnbuckley100

What a joy it was, back in the Spring, to listen to the return of Jason Pierce, in comparatively fine fettle, releasing the gorgeous “Sweet Heart Sweet Light.”  This was the best outing for Spiritualized since 1997’s Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space. 

As we noted at the time, “Sweet Heart Sweet Light is variously thrilling, beautiful, a little sappy, uplifting. It is a glorious rock’n’roll album, exciting and pretty in turns.  Pierce’s affinity for taking minimal numbers of chords and drenching them in maximalist orchestration —  not just strings and horns, but wicked guitar feedback and blues harp, trilling piano and gospel choruses — is back, fifteen years after Ladies and Gentlemen. Spiritualized’s music is, at times, so over the top, and also so simple: R&B informed by the Brill Building’s lessons taught to young Lou Reed.  ”There She Goes Again” meets “Heroin.”  We find spirituality in the ecstasy that comes from music, not music that comes from Ecstasy.   For us, Spiritualized’s cup runneth over.  We are so glad that Pierce has survived to deliver something this pleasing, both to his old audience and, potentially, given the amazing run of media coverage these last few weeks, to new ones.”

Spiritualized At The 930 Club, May 10, 2012

Posted in Music with tags , , on May 11, 2012 by johnbuckley100

The band’s leader, for years bedeviled by drug and health issues, stands off to the side, with evident disdain either for playing frontman or for the crowd.  Brian Jonestown Massacre circa 2009?  No, Spiritualized last night.

It was a badly paced set — we could have done without the long transition between “Rated X” and “Electric Mainline” — but when they were on, ladies and gentlemen, we were rocket-launched through space.  With the exception of “Hey Jane,” which opened, and was filled with air and space so that its tight motorik tempo allowed the engine to breath, the great songs from Sweet Heart Sweet Light reminded us that the five-piece band, plus singers, could have used the further emollient of horns.  But the arrangements were fantastic — we were completely fooled by the intro to “Heading For The Top,” thinking Pierce had gone all the way back to Lazer Guided Melodies to play “If I Were With Her Now.”

Jason Pierce seemed strong, for someone who’s medical records have played out on the pages of music magazines for years.  He’s a big guy, with a head the size of Helmut Kohl’s, and one wished his generous volubility with interviewers would have accommodated more than a single “thank you” as they left the stage.  But when we heard “She Kissed Me (It Felt Like A Hit)” followed by “Come Together,” all was forgiven.

On Spiritualized’s “Sweet Heart Sweet Light”

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on April 16, 2012 by johnbuckley100

Tomorrow, after an impressive campaign to reintroduce Jason Pierce’s Spiritualized to an audience that may never have heard of Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, the album Sweet Heart Sweet Light at last will be released.  Thankfully, we were able to listen to the epic opener, “Hey Jane,” beginning in March, and NPR has been continuing its public service by allowing us to stream Sweet Heart Sweet Light in its entirety for the past week. Interviews and profiles of Pierce have flowed like altar wine.  The album has been so well publicized it arrives devoid of mystery, but because it is Spiritualized, and because according to most rock’n’roll playbooks, Pierce should have been dead long ago — and also, to be sure, because the music is so good — we still have the transubstantiation of mere bits, bytes and musical notes into something miraculous and fine.

Calling an album Sweet Heart Sweet Light (Spiritualized seems allergic to commas in album titles) and leading off with a song called “Hey Jane” lets you know exactly in front of which God Jason Pierce genuflects.  If they’d called the album White Light White Heat and the song “Sweet Jane,” would it have been any clearer? We wouldn’t ordinarily think of the Velvet Underground, and particularly Lou Reed, in spiritual terms.  But then there are those lines in “Heroin,” which probably inspired Pierce all the way back in his Spaceman 3 days: “When I’m rushing on my run/And I feel just like Jesus’ son…”  No matter how many times he invokes Jesus — and Pierce has walked with Jesus, at least in his lyrics, for some 20 years, and does so repeatedly on Sweet Heart Sweet Light — we don’t actually think of him in spiritual terms, no matter what his band is called.

We think of Pierce as a heroin surviver who has made transcendent music, inspired by the Velvets and Lou to a degree that makes Dean Wareham or Anton Newcombe seem like casual fans. Although we didn’t realize it at the time, we have long since concluded that Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space was the great album of the 1990s, even as it was overshadowed by other albums from the exceptional vintage year of 1997 (OK Computer, Strangers Almanac.)  Longtime readers of Tulip Frenzy may find it puzzling that we think of Spiritualized the way we do, as we’ve been critical of anything that smacks, if you’ll pardon the expression, of heroin chic.  But some years ago we clarified that we view Jason Pierce as nothing so much as an anti-heroin morality play.  His greatest work was essentially all about heroin, not to glamorize it, though yeah, sure, it offers ecstasy and all that, but as much to deal honestly with its aftereffects. Space rock it may be called, but Pierce has always been exceptionally honest, not exploiting his having breakfast right off of a mirror so much as matter-of-factly offering it as a glimpse of his life.   The consequences of heroin have predictably, and we have to say satisfyingly (to someone who despises heroin chic) been borne out over these past many years; the boilerplate about Pierce is all about his near-death experiences, the lingering damage — shot liver, double pneumonia — of a body ravaged by having lived too hard, which is a euphemism for saying he loved putting powder in his nose and his arm.  We are sad this is the case, thrilled by the music, thrilled he’s still alive, admire him for his honesty.  We are relieved, on some level, that he has paid a price, but one that — based on the evidence at hand: a new record, and a great one at that — has not been too dear.  We know that the benefit of this ecstasy and agony, this yin and yang, has been simply incredible rock’n’roll music: dense, sui generis even as it has been dipped, like a celebrant in baptismal water, in the deep pools of the Velvet Underground.

Sweet Heart Sweet Light is variously thrilling, beautiful, a little sappy, uplifting. It is a glorious rock’n’roll album, exciting and pretty in turns.  Pierce’s affinity for taking minimal numbers of chords and drenching them in maximalist orchestration —  not just strings and horns, but wicked guitar feedback and blues harp, trilling piano and gospel choruses — is back, fifteen years after Ladies and Gentlemen. Spiritualized’s music is, at times, so over the top, and also so simple: R&B informed by the Brill Building’s lessons taught to young Lou Reed.  “There She Goes Again” meets “Heroin.”  We find spirituality in the ecstasy that comes from music, not music that comes from Ecstasy.   For us, Spiritualized’s cup runneth over.  We are so glad that Pierce has survived to deliver something this pleasing, both to his old audience and, potentially, given the amazing run of media coverage these last few weeks, to new ones.

Whether Pierce’s current recovery from liver failure, and the regimen that is keeping him from drink’n’drugs, is long lasting or not, we rejoice — yeah, that’s the word — at his clear-eyed current state.  One day at a time.  Easy does it.  But easy as some of the new album may be on the ears — and it is; he has succeeded in creating a pop album — it gets to that same place, that thrilling dangerous place, that Lou Reed and the Velvets also brought us to.  “Street Hassle” may hide within Pierce’s music like a Nina in an old Al Hirschfeld cartoon — it’s always there someplace, from Spaceman 3 to Spiritualized — and he pays it full reverence.  On this one, to use Lou’s words, Pierce is “going for the kingdom if I can.” But it’s not at the end of a plunger, syringe and needle.  Not high, on liver medicine not blurring drugs, Sweet Heart Sweet Light comes from something deeper, and more beautiful still —  from Jason Pierce’s emmense creativity and the deep wellspring of talent within.

Spritualized Announces American Tour

Posted in Music with tags , on February 11, 2012 by johnbuckley100

Courtesy of Blurt Online, the dates are as follows:

(No, first we have to say, Yippee!  Jason Pierce is bringing the show to DC’s 930 Club in May!)

Now the dates:

05-02 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
05-03 Chicago, IL – Metro
05-04 Detroit, MI – The Majestic Theatre
05-05 Toronto, Ontario – The Phoenix
05-07 New York, NY – Terminal 5
05-09 Boston, MA – Paradise
05-10 Washington, DC – The 9:30 Club
05-11 Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts
05-12 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
05-13 Atlanta, GA – The Variety Playhouse
05-15 Dallas, TX – The Granada Theatre
05-16 Austin, TX – Emo’s East
05-18 Tucson AZ – The Rialto Theatre
05-19 Phoenix AZ – The Crescent Ballroom
05-20 San Diego CA – Belly Up Tavern
05-22 Los Angeles CA – The Wiltern
05-23 San Francisco CA – The Fillmore
05-25 Portland, OR – The Wonder Ballroom
05-26 Vancouver, British Columbia – The Rickshaw Theatre

Interesting Interview With Jason Pierce of Spiritualized

Posted in Music with tags , , on July 30, 2010 by johnbuckley100

In honor of their show at Radio City tonight, see this piece here.

Spiritualized To Play “Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space” At Radio City Friday Night

Posted in Music with tags , on July 29, 2010 by johnbuckley100

Oh my Heavens, where have we been?  How did we not know this and make the according plans.  While we have previously expressed concerns about the moral stance of Spiritualized’s epic — possibly the greatest album of the 1990s, certainly one of the five or ten best since the punk era — there are many things, including vestigial organs, we would give to be there.  If only we could.

The Complete Version Of Spiritualized’s “Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space” Out This Morning

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 1, 2009 by johnbuckley100

As this is being written, all 47 — or maybe it’s 147 — tracks of the superdeluxecollectorsfabulous edition of Spritualized’s Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space — one of the greatest albums of the past quarter century — is downloading from the iTunes Store.

For the most part, it’s hard to care about the complete sessions of anything.  When the Beatles Anthology was released a decade back, we were sort of relieved to find how few were the half-baked takes of songs remaining.  The good stuff, it turns out, made it to the light of day, and we didn’t really gain too much rooting around in the attic.   With the exception of Bob Dylan, there aren’t many artists whose demo tracks we really want to listen to.  I mean, the three CD version of The Stooges’ Fun House was not played in our house.

But Ladies And Gentlemen was a work so profound and unexpected, the idea of being able to float around in the gory maw of its creation is inspiring.  When Spaceman 3 morphed into Spiritualized, and Jason Pierce — an artist who is at his most interesting precisely when his reach exceeded his grasp — was given full reign to explore, the results were, momentarily, thrilling.  We are not completists; we don’t have to listen to the entire Pierce oeuvre.  There is a fair amount of non-melodious noodling in the rest of Spiritualized’s corpus.

But not Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space. It does float through space, and takes us with it, as comets whiz by and dramatically bounce off one another.  Glad this artifact was brought back from the nether reaches.

Austin Get Ready: First Communion After Party Is Playing SXSW

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , on February 25, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Ah, I still remember my first communion after party: all the seven-year olds swimming on a bright May Sunday, school almost out, summer near.  Maybe we saw God, but probably not the way First Communion After Party does.  These guys are maybe the best neo-psychedelic band to have emerged in recent years, which when you think about it, is saying something.  If they set their amps up in a Catholic church parking lot, the Warlocks and Black Angels would put down their bingo cards and listen.  They’re that good.

If Byron Coley isn’t a charter member of the FCAP fan club, I’ll give up music for Lent.  See, they’ve got this Grace Slick/Marty Balin, Exene/John Doe thing going on vocals.  The guitarists have spent a lot of time listening to the 13th Floor Elevators.  I’ve seen an interview in which they deftly eschew the comparisons to the Brian Jonestown Massacre, but admit to getting their noses into the same batch of altar wine: Spaceman 3, Spiritualized, the Darkside, that whole tribe.

Austin get ready, these guys are going to be the biggest thing hitting SXSW other than the premiere of the film The Least of Me (which has a simultaneous premiere at Snagfilms.com, FYI.)  If you want a little taste right now, go to the iTunes Store and download Sorry for All The Mondays and To Those Who Can’t Sing, which is either the best album title I’ve heard in a while or the worst, I can’t decide.  I do know this: if my First Communion After Party had sounded like this, I might have kept the faith.

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