Archive for SXSW

Capsula’s “In The Land Of The Silver Souls” Breaches U.S. Shores

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on March 16, 2011 by johnbuckley100

Capsula is a throwback to an era of punk rock that may not ever have existed, a remnant of a Platonic world where all songs are played fast, where the drummer keeps an animalistic beat for hours on end, a place where the pogoing guitarist can fill the stage and stage the fills with melody and soul as the girl bassist with the bunny ears rocks harder than Izzy Stradlin. They are, in short, a revelation, Buenos Aires expats who moved to Bilbao, Spain because in South America, in Tom Verlaine’s words, the distance it kills you, and there was no way to foster a career having to cross the Andes just to get a gig in Santiago or Punta Arenas.

When Songs & Circuits came out five years ago, we could scarcely believe our luck, pinched ourselves to find a modern punk band that played fast and offered steaming parilla of smoking riffs and still poured on melody like it was hot sauce. Rising Mountains had a few points deducted for sameness, for the too familiar problem of punk bands that evolve into generic rock. It was still hands down better than 9 out of 10 rock albums that came out that year.  They then traded favors with the esteemed Ivan Julian — after he produced their album, they cut his, serving as a high-class backup band on The Naked Flame. For the past year we have waited to find out if their third album would be a step forward.  (Others, released in South America earlier in their career, have been as lost to the world as an Incan alphabet).  And now we know: In The Land Of The Silver Souls, officially released here on April 4th, but magically available in the iTunes Store this morning, was delivered from Old Europe back to the New World.  March 16th, 2011 will not go down in history as a great day for Planet Earth, except… Capsula’s new album is precious metal, 14-carat pure and good.

The album kicks off, as Songs & Circuits did, with an indirect assault.  “Wild Fascination” stirs the blood, but it’s not til Martin Guevara wraps a guitar riff ’round Coni Dutchess’ ample bass and Nacho Villarejo kicks “Town Of Sorrow” into overdrive that we see plates sliding off the Bilbao Guggenheim as every Basque bastard starts to rock.  By “Hit’n’Miss,” a song that embodies the entire Capsula oeuvre in a single cut — Cali pyschedelica, garage rock, a frisson of Leaving Trains tunefulness — we’re convinced that Capsula’s new one dissolves into a salubrious groove.

The problem with punk bands, traditionally, is they either keep knocking their heads against the same brick alley wall, or they try to get somewhere.  Too often bands you really love — let’s take the not-quite-punk, but of that era classic L.A. band The Dream Syndicate as an example — get good enough to really play well but what they choose to play is… rock.  And your heart breaks.  This could have happened to the Clash, when Give ‘Em Enough Rope followed their epochal launch, but fortunately they then figured out how to turn to musical idioms — New Orleans syncopation, say, or rockabilly —  to infuse their music with its antecedent roots.  Happily Capsula’s going the Clash route, or should we say the Clash roots.  We hear occasional underpinnings of blues here and there, and in the daring “Communication,” they quite wondrously come close to the sound of Mr. James Osterberg’s “Penetration.”

Over the years, we’ve obsessed over the Fleshtones, the Mekons, Luna, and Television, the Stones and the Clash, the Brian Jonestown Massacre.  At the dawn of what appears to be a great year in rock’n’roll music, we’ve just played an album by a band that has emerged as our au courant fave, the Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band In The World, Circa 2011.   We’ve played Capsula’s new one maybe three times. We suspect we’ll be playing it for years to come.  If we’re lucky.  Capsula is playing at SXSW, like tomorrow.  If you want to know where the spirit of real rock’n’roll now lives, it’s in The Land Of The Silver Souls. And it prompts us to challenge First Communion Afterparty: your move.

On Eve Of SXSW, World Conquest, Wild Flag Waves O’er DC

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on March 11, 2011 by johnbuckley100

Supergroups are like some second marriages, in which adults, no longer young and quite so foolish, find their proper partners.  So it seems to be with Wild Flag, in which Mary Timony of Helium, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney, and Rebecca Cole of The Minders bounce around like ping pong balls about to be drawn in a winning lottery.  For while Helium and Sleater-Kinney had wide followings, our first exposure to Wild Flag would indicate they could be huge.

Anyone who’s listened to the antecedent bands would have recognized not just traces, but huge genetic thumb prints all over Wild Flag’s sound last night at DC’s Black Cat.  In both Helium and her own Mary Timony Band, Timony’s capable of garage-rocking guitar pop, off-kilter and running the gamut between sweet and snarling.  Brownstein and Weiss were two-thirds of one of the smartest bands of the ’90s, and Weiss’s propulsive drumming behind Brownstein’s energetic guitar textures updated the melodic punk rock of Sleater-Kinney in a different context.

For a band that has played less than a dozen gigs, with one songwriter (Timony) based in Washington, the other in Portlandia (Brownstein, the star, with Fred Armisen, of Portlandia), songs gelled nicely.  This is a band that has the wildness of rock’n’roll youth and the maturity of a graduate student before it even goes into the studio to record its first album.  It’s hard to describe songs you’ve never heard before, and for which you don’t even know the titles, but let’s just say there aren’t many bands that can make you think of Lou Reed and Jimi Hendrix, punk rock and the Haight-Ashbury all within the span of two or three songs.

It was something of a homecoming and farewell for Mary Timony, who in DC is more like Mary From The Block than a Riot Grrrl, and who has had an influence on an entire generation of young rockers.  It was great to see her here with the band she’s been working with cross-country.  We have more than an inkling that Wild Flag is going to take SXSW by storm, and that their freak flag is going to be raised above the world, in a conquest as sure as their performance last night before a sold out crowd in Washington.

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, 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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