Archive for the black ryder

For Us, White Fence And Thee Oh Sees Were The Highlights Of Levitation: Austin Psych Fest 2015

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 11, 2015 by johnbuckley100

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John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees

It had rained so much earlier in the week (and earlier in the day) that the organizers of Levitation — this year’s version of the Austin Psych Fest — had to change stage locations.  The desire was to have no band float off into the river as the stage they played on was swept away, though that sure would have been cool to witness. But even though they provided a helpful pocket map, with set times on the three stages, the reality of the layout did not conform to what was on the map, and thus we were more than a little disoriented Friday evening.  And of course, the quicksand texture of the ever-present mud made getting from one stage to the next an adventure.

Going to an event like Levitation, with headliners including The Jesus and Mary Chain, Tame Impala, Spiritualized, the Flaming Lips, Primal Scream, and the reunion of the 13th Floor Elevators, you have to pick and choose who you really want to see, which is a function both of desire and stamina.  For us, the priorities were to see Thee Oh Sees, White Fence, and the Black Ryder — three fave bands from the West Coast who non-NYC East Coasters are deprived of.  It really was these bands that we flew to Austin to see, as among the headliners, we’ve seen The Jesus and Mary Chain many times over the years, and Spiritualized on their last tour.  Much as we would have loved to have seen Roky Erikson play to a hometown crowd, the 13th Floor Elevators reunion was late Sunday evening, and in order to be at work this morning, banging out this Tulip Frenzy update, we needed to be on a return flight well before he beamed down on stage.  So we picked and we chose and the best of what we saw is contained herein.

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Holy Wave

We loved Holy Wave, who played early Friday evening on the stage they’d moved up from rivers edge.  2014’s Relax was a garage band highlight, and their evocation of the Velvets meet Spaceman 3 seemed a perfect way to get into the Levitation spirit.  On a beautiful evening, with the rain gone but not forgotten, we stood by a suppurating mud hole and saw these Austinites (transplanted from El Paso), ring true to a Texas-state tradition that includes ? and the Mysterians, not to mention the Sir Douglas Quintet.  Fun set by a great band whose new work, previewed here, seems both poppier and tighter than what was on Relax.  Great things await these guys.

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White Fence

Longtime readers will remember that Tim Presley in his many guises — Darker My Love frontman, co-conspirator with Ty Segall, genius leader of White Fence — is accorded worshipful respect at Tulip Frenzy World HQ.  White Fence’s Live In San Francisco was on 2013’s Top Ten List, and of course, For The Recently Found Innocent was our Album of the Year last year.  So to say we were looking forward to White Fence’s set is an understatement, and we are happy to announce they did not disappoint.  No, if anything, they exceeded our sky high expectations.

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White Fence

From the opening strains of “Paranoid Bait” to the Ian Rubbish-perfection of the closer “Harness”, the White Fence set was scorching, with the guitars chiming perfectly, the drummer damn near pounding this stage back into the river.  If you believe, as we do, that the Holy Troika of Ty Segall, John Dwyer, and Tim Presley have saved rock’n’roll in the same way, beginning in ’76, that punk saved it, then you will understand we are not exaggerating in our verdict that the elusive Presley and his incredible live outfit are the most interesting act in contemporary music.  This is not easy music to perform — there’s a Magic Band complexity to the hairpin turns and manic galloping of songs like “Wolf Gets Red Faced” and “Paranoid Bait,” and in context, the motorik “Baxters Corner” was a psychedelic anthem. Presley is emerging as a towering American musical figure of Alex Chilton-esque importance, and the set White Fence played Friday night alone was worth the airfare.  It also made us replay in the hours since the 2013 live album, and yeah, it’s on a par with Live At Leeds, it really is.  Our fervent prayer is that Presley sustains the focus that brought us that live album and last year’s opus, and does not go back to noodling in his room.  If we had our druthers, he would take this band into the studio and lock the door.  We’d slide cheeseburgers under the door and eagerly await the output.

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Thee Oh Sees

Our second favorite set of the festival was Thee Oh Sees on Saturday night.  We fought our way forward through the large crowd of the Reverberation headliners’ stage, and man, were we rewarded.  The double-drum set up of the new construct was potent, though it must be said that an aspect of melodic subtlety has been dropped in the transition from the San Francisco to LA lineup of Dwyer’s outfit.  On songs like “Web,” which they performed gloriously, it appears that when Mutilator Defeated At Last is released in a few weeks, some of what we loved so much about 2013’s Floating Coffin — the ability to both startle the senses and tickle the frontal lobes, all at the same time — will have given way to brute force thundering punk.  But that’s high praise in many a home, not least ours, and we were thrilled by the generous set Dwyer and co. played.

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The Black Ryder

So we were a little disappointed by the Spiritualized set Friday evening.  But while, as we will explain, it’s not entirely fair to judge The Black Ryder based on their Saturday performance, we think maybe it’s time to offer a heart-to-heart, avuncular download of advice to one of our very favorite bands.  The problem of unfairness they faced was that they were squeezed into the smaller stage inside the tent next to where Thee Oh Sees would perform thirty minutes after their set began.  It was inevitable that the crowd — us included — would drift away to see the bigger band on the bigger stage.

But the additional problem is that the three songs they began with from 2015’s The Door Behind The Door are all slow, and while beautiful, 20+ minutes of music at that tempo was not what a festival crowd wanted to hear.  The moment they began playing music from their earlier masterpiece, 2010’s Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride, things improved, for these are far more uptempo songs. The early segment from the new album happen to be the best things on the disk, and if this is an indication of where The Black Ryder are headed, we get it, we accept it.  But we have to say we were a bit disappointed with the set, and yeah, on balance, with the new album, in part because we miss the Bloody Valentines meets Morning After Girls ecstasy of the first one, in part because the new music is a tad precious.  Growing pains suffered by a great band, who at Levitation were dealt a cruel hand.  Given they were inevitably going to lose a portion of the audience to Thee Oh Sees, we wish they’d paced their first 35 minutes a bit differently.  And we look forward to seeing them play a full set, at the pacing they choose, anytime they can return, we hope as headliners, to a longer East Coast tour.

All pictures taken with the Leica C.

The Black Ryder’s “The Door Behind The Door” Is Achingly Beautiful

Posted in Music with tags on February 25, 2015 by johnbuckley100

For their fans, the wait for The Black Ryder’s follow up to 2010’s Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride has been nigh on interminable.  We can only imagine the travails, the journey, that got the band finally to be able to release, on their own label, their beautiful follow-up album, The Door Behind The Door, which came out yesterday.

Aimee Nash and Scott Van Ryper moved from Australia to Los Angeles around the time of their first album’s release, and between then and now, they split as a couple, but held together as a musical entity.  We’re glad they did.  Former members of Australia’s Morning After Girls, they retained on their first album the most interesting elements of that band’s early U.S. release, which was called Prelude EPs 1&2.  But where the Morning After Girls was a shuffling of the deck with Brian Jonestown Massacre and Dandy Warhol cards emerging side by side, the first album by The Black Ryder was a shoegaze epic, with the guitar squall of My Bloody Valentine served up alongside gorgeous evocations of the Velvet Underground.

The core of The Door Behind The Door was released as individual songs over the past few months — “Seventh Moon,” “Let Me Be Your Light,” and “Santaria” — and there is nothing, honestly, on the rest of the album that can compete with those three.  This is slow, artisanal rock music crafted by hand in dreamy, melodic, high caloric confections.  The rest of the album punctuates the mood with acoustic guitars picking up speed before giving way to Spiritualized anthems (“Throwing Stones”) or classic rock mid-tempo ballads.

The exception is the closer,  “Le Dernier Sommeil (The Final Sleep),” which is 12 minutes of symphonic film music, something that if you heard on a Jonny Greenwood score you’d grok and enjoy, but wouldn’t bat a lash at.  In this context, it is interesting as a choice of what to put out as the closer on a long-awaited follow-up to one of the best records of the decade.  Almost one-fifth of the album is given over to the composition, which is beautiful, but at the end of which we are left hoping that, unlike MBV, The Black Ryder get back in that studio and turn out the next one.  Please, sir, may I have another?

We eagerly await seeing them in May at the Austin Psych Fest.

The Best News Of The Week Is That The Black Ryder Have A New Album Coming Out

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 4, 2014 by johnbuckley100

After something like a four-year wait, we were delighted with the news that a new song by The Black Ryder was posted on Stereogum.

Back in early 2010, Tulip Frenzy brought forth upon this land an early look at The Black Ryder’s debutBuy The Ticket, Take The Ride, which we’d damn near had to swim to Australia to find.  Our motivation for diving in the Pacific, credit card in hand, was simple: Aimee Nash and Scott Van Ryper had been core members of The Morning After Girls, whose early recordings were an almost perfect blend of both the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols, and the songs that first were released by what then was known, in e.e. cummings lowercase lettering, as the black ryder, were simply awesome.

There are different ways one can measure a great record, but the two that matter are whether it has the potential to change the world, and whether years later you still play it regularly. Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride might not have changed the world, but from the full spectrum of Tulip Frenzy’s 2010 Top Ten List (c), this album today gets called to earbud duty every bit as much as that year’s winner, Darker My Love’s Alive As You Are.  There is the squall of guitars laying a pea-soup shroud of noise fog on Aimee Mann’s ethereal vocals, the drama of the songwriting revealing the hidden truth that these guys likely were what made the early Morning After Girls records so beguiling.  This was shoegaze music that got into the bones, that sunk into the marrow, that once in the head could not be eradicated.  Because of our regular playing of it, we have become intimately aware of the topography of our desert boots, the fray of our shoelaces. We play it all the time.

So the fact that The Black Ryder will, in early 2015, release The Door Behind The Door is reason for celebration, reason for optimism, the best news on the planet in an otherwise pretty dreary week.

Widowspeak’s “Almanac” Is A Compendium Of Facts About An Emerging Great Band

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on January 23, 2013 by johnbuckley100

When Widowspeak’s eponymous first album was released in 2011, you’d have been forgiven for thinking it was that Mazzy Star reunion we’ve all been waiting for.  Robert Earl Thomas was less adventurous than Dave Roback, maybe, though certainly his equal in sonic tastefulness, and singer Molly Hamilton sounded a lot like Hope Sandoval, minus the otherworldliness.  Now they are back with Almanac, and have surer footing, and a more aggressive pace, and we feel confident that the path they are on will take them far.

They make good partners, Thomas and Hamilton, as he shapes the sound with his lead guitar while she holds down the rhythm guitar parts forging the melody with artful phrasing.  Her voice stretches the canvas on which the songs are written across a fairly narrow frame.  Most times a baby doll husk, occasionally it loses all substance and recedes entirely into pretty fog, like Chet Baker playing trumpet on a slow song.  Widowspeak’s limitations, such as there are, emanate from whether one can live on the sustenance provided entirely by vocal meringue, and as we’ve just today heard about a restaurant in Tokyo that serves customers meals containing actual dirt, we have found ourselves nodding, seeking just a little grit, and wondering whether Widowspeak would be more satisfying listened to in longer increments if they emulated that approach.

Pareles used a Velvet Underground reference in his recent nice write up of Almanac, and while a stopped clock is occasionally right, you won’t be surprised that we beg to differ, that we think of Widowspeak less in the context of the VU than in the fourth-degree separation that comes from a young American band actually sounding more like the black ryder’s mutation of a Morning After Girls homage to the Brian Jonestown Massacre, who actually possessed the direct link to that VU sound.  Good company, though, right? More than sounding like Mazzy Star, better than sounding like one more acolyte of the Velvet Underground, Widowspeak reminds us of that magical moment we first heard the black ryder’s Aimee Nash singing with the Morning After Girls, though others will think of Miranda Lee Richards fronting the BJM.

For his part, Robert Earl Thomas is a canny lead guitarist who sounds more delicate on Almanac than he did live last November when Widowspeak opened for Woods at that amazing show at the Red Palace.  When he plays slide, he sounds like David Byrne on “The Big Country,” which of course was an homage to Phil Manzanera playing “Prairie Rose.”  All good lineage, all good music, a band with a future that links to the past — the best kind — and an album we will be listening to, over and over, until they mercifully deliver the next one.

Good Heavens, Mazzy Star Returns

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 12, 2011 by johnbuckley100

Mazzy Star has returned from… from where?  The two new singles they released this week, “Lay Myself Down” and “Common Burn” are so familiar, so perfectly within the tradition in which they once worked that if you were to say these fine songs were emptied from the vaults, we would have believed you.  But Hope Sandoval announces that, after 15 years hiatus, they’re new, and damned if they’re not.

When you think of the all the bands that are currently evoking the folky, ethereal mix that Dave Roback and Hope produced in the ’90s — imagine the Velvet Underground jamming with the Dylan’s Nashville band, Mo Tucker playing tambourine, Sterling Morrison playing pedal steel, as echoes of the Chocolate Watchband emerge from their rehearsal space next door — you might think they’ve returned to claim their throne.  From bands as disparate as the black ryder to the Dum Dum Girls, it’s not like their sound really went away, and we always had Sandoval’s solo albums. But these were missing the glorious tastefulness of Roback’s guitar.  Nothing either has done without the other — not Hope’s cameo role with the Jesus and Mary Chain, not Roback’s Paisley Underground band The Rain Parade — could ever match what they did together.  And now they’re doing it together again.  Happy day.

(Hat tip to Leah Jeffers; we hand’t heard.)

Tulip Frenzy’s #10 Best Album Of 2010: the black ryder’s “Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride”

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

Technically, the black ryder’s superb debut album launched in 2009, but things move slowly from the antipodes, and by February, when it hadn’t arrived Stateside, we took out a second mortgage and bought the import, and were glad to have done so.  So when we reviewed it in February, it may not have been new to Melbourne hipsters, but it was new to us, and based on the traffic to TF, new to our readers.  Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride was the road not taken by The Morning After Girls, the BJM-infused, dreamier aspect to the band that was largely  jettisoned on Alone.  With an impeccable pedigree and great chops, the black ryder takes shape amidst gauzy sonic guitar pop, and gallops straight into your foreheard.  A great debut, and here’s hoping that in 2011, they release something new in North America.

The Black Ryder’s “Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride”

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by johnbuckley100

Pedigree counts more at events sponsored by The Westminster Kennel Club than in modern day rock’n’roll, but well before the release of The Black Ryder’s superb first album, it was clear this was a well-bred band. At least Aimee Nash was a member of the Morning After Girls V. 1.0, (was her partner Scott Von Ryper as well?) and if an adjunct of class is whom you hang out with, The Black Ryder’s got an A-list social network — the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Black Angels.

More than a year ago, “Burn and Fade” showed up on their MySpace page, with BRMC’s Peter Hayes sharing vocal duties, and it immediately placed TBR on the matrix.  If the bottom axis is a band’s relative immersion in the Velvet Underground, and the right axis is where they fit on the continuum between, say, the Stones upward toward the gauzy reaches of Mazzy Star and Galaxie 500, just that first song showed The Black Ryder scoring high in the upper right hand corner.

Frustratingly for us Yanks with a hankering for Aussie bands — we veterans of the long wait for The Morning After Girls’ second album (sans Ms. Nash) — Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride came out in Australia in November, got rave reviews, but as of this writing, no American release date.  Tulip Frenzy went into emergency acquisition mode, checked our Antipodal contacts, and through extraordinary measures (Amazon, credit card, paying up for the Import), are pleased to give this debut report for the American cognoscenti.

The Black Ryder are the real deal, and if Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride had found its ways to these shores in 2009, it would certainly have nestled near Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound’s When Sweet Sleep Returned high atop the Tulip Frenzy Top 10 List.  (It wouldn’t have knocked Sonic Youth outta the top slot, for those geezers gripped it with gnarled paws.)

In the keiretsu connecting the BJM and the Dandys and the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, they’re already supplying guitar strings and guitarists (BJM’s Rick Maymi, fer example) to The Black Ryder.  Unfortunately, the production checklist didn’t include making sure the drums snapped, but they methodically went through every element relating to the guitars.  I think my favorite song so far is the throbbing “What’s Forsaken,” but honestly, hear any of these songs in a club and you’ll reach for your Shazam app.

Look, I thought the early Morning After Girls recordings were some of the best sounds that came out of that miserable decade we’ve just escaped from.  I would be prone to enjoy an album featuring someone from that lineup.  This is so much better: a lovely, mid-tempo mashup of the Dig! bands that never strains.  It fits the tempo of life between 7:00 and 10:00 AM, and then again after 9:00 PM. Does that properly place it?  Music to listen to in an urban apartment with rain slapping the streets, while tea is made.  (Yeah, that kind of tea, with cream and sugar.) Now if we can only get them to buy a ticket on a Quantas flight over to these parts.

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