Archive for zia mccabe

Tulip Frenzy Reader Zia McCabe Is A Class Act

Posted in Music with tags , , , on June 9, 2012 by johnbuckley100

So just about a month ago, we delivered the mixed verdict that the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s new album was far better than the new album by the Dandy Warhols.  And in that post, we referenced  how the Dandy’s Zia McCabe had once asked Tulip Frenzy for a reconsideration of whether her band had declined since those amazing early albums.  We regretted having to say that we don’t like the new Dandy Warhols album, because we are still a big fan.  This morning, we found a comment on that post from the lovely Zia McCabe, and it proves to us that even if the Dandys have lost some of that magic that once made them irresistible, Zia has lost none of her graciousness and class.  Anton Newcombe: Please note at least one member of the Dandy Warhols wishes you well. Here’s the comment, called out for wider readership.

June 9, 2012 at 7:54 am e

Ha, well at least you still consider me lovely. Maybe our next album will suit your fancy. Or maybe you’d like my side project Brush Prairie. Glad to here you enjoy the new BJM album at least. That makes me happy for those guys. X

If “Dig!” Were Made Today, The Brian Jonestown Massacre Would Win

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on May 12, 2012 by johnbuckley100

Eight years after Dig! won Ondi Timoner awards and admiration for her depiction of diverging paths between The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols, you’d probably expect that the Dandys would be producing the superior music.  You’d be wrong.  As does not happen all that often, we have this Spring a clear bake off between the two bands, with BJM having released a fine return to form, Aufheben, and the Dandys releasing This Machine, another in a long line of disappointments stretching back to… well, about the time that Dig! came out and declared Courtney Taylor Taylor the “winner” over notorious BJM frontman fuck-up Anton Newcombe.

Look, no one at Tulip Frenzy is going to declare that the last few batches of BJM music were on a par with such earlier albums as Take It From The Man. Who Killed Sgt. Pepper and other works from the late ‘aughts sounded like Newcombe was recording on an old cassette deck inside an empty Icelandic bank vault after a wild night of MDA out on the glaciers.  But Aufheben stands up to the BJM’s best work from the ’90s.  “I Want To Hold Your Other Hand” sounds like an outtake from Tepid Peppermint, and the brilliant closer, “Blue Order New Monday” picks up where “Super-Sonic” left off.  A band sounding like it once did does not necessarily signal greatness, but in the case of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, we are taking about a return to sounding like Brian Jones gigging with the Pipes of Joujouka at a renaissance fair, that special mix of psychedelic folk that comes from mixing mushrooms with Mandrax at Andy Warhol’s Factory.  And that’s a good thing.  Welcome back, guys!  The move to Kreuzberg or Mitte has been good for Anton, the choice of Berlin as a place to live showing up in Aufheben‘s first song, “Panic In Babylon,” which could be the background music in the hippest donor kebab restaurant in the city.

The Dandys, on the other hand?  Ooof.  Some time back the lovely Zia McCabe took to the comments section of Tulip Frenzy to plead for a reconsideration of our verdict that the Dandys had grown to kinda suck.  We were sympathetic to her argument, because we loved the band. And we anxiously awaited the evidence that they still mattered. But while Aufheben sounds like it was carefully handcrafted by a band of psych-folk artisans living in a post-apocalyptic flat near Alexanderplatz, This Machine seems phoned in, lazy, flat, uninspired.  Even on the album’s two or three good songs, the Dandys sound, at best, generic.  We never thought they’d be generic because FM radio is so passé.  This makes us sad.

Which brings us back to Dig!, and how Courtney got to do the victor’s dictation of history — he literally got to do the voice-over on how, sadly, he’d loved Anton and thought he was a genius, but the evidence was all too clear that he was a junkie who would never get his act together.  And here we are, in 2012, and one band is vital and one band not.  The addled tortoise on the autobahn has just smoothly passed the Portland hare.  Life is funny sometimes.  Go buy Aufheben at once.

Darker My Love’s Lighter Approach In “Alive As You Are”

Posted in Music with tags , , , on September 5, 2010 by johnbuckley100

Darker My Love’s new album is such a different affair from their first two, the wonder is they didn’t release it as a side project.

It got us to thinking.  About how Graham Greene used to write some novels as, well, novels, and others as entertainments — a way of distinguishing contrapuntal notes of seriousness and whimsy in his oeuvre.  And about how in recent weeks Google’s Eric Schmidt made news offering up his approach to youthful indiscretions, namely to offer all young adults the chance to change their name, and thus wipe the slate clean from arrest records, or typical beer-party Facebook postings.

So the question on the table is whether it would have been better for Darker My Love to have issued this third record under an assumed name.  Or at least a different name, since it presupposes a completely different band is at work.

Don’t get us wrong, there’s nothing Darker My Love needs to run away from  — either for the left-field masterpiece that Alive As You Are turns out to be, or for their prior work. After all, their eponymous first album and the not-so creatively titled 2, were nothing to be ashamed of.  In fact, few are the bands that have played so assuredly as Tim Presley and his colleagues — psych punk with melodies, harmonies, and still an occasional nod to The Fall.  (In fact, half the band have degrees from Mark E. Smith’s rock’n’roll finishing school, as impressive in some parts as a diploma from Harvard.  And with a lineage that includes stints in The Nerve Agents and The Distillers, no one should question Darker My Love’s ability to play punk rock.)

Nothing prepares us, though, for the Byrds’n’Burritos approach of  Alive As You Are.  A re-listen to the first two albums does give hints of immersion in previously unnoticed tunefulness that reminds us of the Elephant 6 bands; on this new one, we find delightful echoes of Olivia Tremor Control in “18th Street Shuffle,” and when the peddle steel gives way to Norwegian wood, slices of Apples in Stereo. For those keeping score at home, that’s maybe the handiest reference point… the Elephant 6 bands.. a metaphorical portal through which Darker My Life enters mid-60’s California jangle. But then we also hear bands like The High Dials and Beechwood Sparks… you know, bands who seem to have spent as much time listening to The Notorious Byrd Brothers and Rubber Soul as they ever did to the Pixies or Nirvana.

It’s possible that Zia McCabe (see below) is right that people don’t like bands growing so much that you can’t recognize their signature in later work.  For we notice that “Alive As You Are” has not been greeted with rose petals from some of the rock crit cool cats who miss the power chords and monster riffs.  It’s okay, as rock crits and other kids are often caught flatfooted when the context changes this drastically.  And veering from The Fall to Gram Parsons is the sonic equivalent of a journey from Alaska to Key West, more than 3/5s of a mile in 10 seconds, a journey so fast we usually hear sonic booms, though in this case we mostly hear harmonies and pretty melodies.

There is something classic at work here, something great in its own right. It seems that Darker My Love have taken the same Sneaky Pete detour that bands of an earlier generation once did, heading from the city to Marin, leaving behind the hard rockin’ early work for a trip through the purple sage.  Whether it’s a lark or a hard left turn into the wild is what’s unclear.

Whatever it is, I find it fascinating. This is a band with the chops, breadth, and balls to give 60’s country rock a whirl.  Mark E. Smith may be shaking his head at what his former proteges are doing, though I’m guessing he’s grokking it just like we are. Let’s hoist a wheat grass smoothie to a band willing to confound all, while producing an airy, technicolor bit ‘o something rustic that’s far grittier than mere nostalgipop.

At The Prompting Of The Polite Zia McCabe, We Revise And Extend Our Remarks

Posted in Music with tags , , on September 2, 2010 by johnbuckley100

Sort of.  You see, the other night Tulip Frenzy weighed in one of those world-historical important questions, to wit, “Why, after being so brilliant on their first three albums, did the the last three Dandy Warhol albums,” um, how to say this equally politely to the exchange we had with Zia? “disappoint us?”

Zia, bassist and synth player for the Dandys, took umbrage.  In the comment on Tulip Frenzy and in a subsequent email, she let it be known she thinks those who cling to their fond memories of the early albums, and particularly to the more conventional guitar-riffing rock sound, as well as those who object to the funk’n’synth heavy later albums, are just boys who like guitar bands, of which there are, apparently, a lot.

Okay, she’s got a point. And to treat her objection with respect, I went and listened, in their entirety, to Odditorium, or Warlords of Mars, and to Earth To The Dandy Warhols. (Apparently we never bothered to put Welcome To The Monkey House on our iPod.)  I’ll admit that Odditorium had many more redeeming features than I remembered, that songs like “Holding Me Up” are the equal of the good songs on Come Down, and that there even is a good song or two — okay, there are two good songs — on Earth To.

I’ll even do this:  Tulip Frenzy herein wholeheartedly endorses The Capitol Years, 1995-2007. Yes, we believe it is flawed because it doesn’t have songs like “Ride” and “Best Friend” on it, but I guess technically they never said it was the Best of The Capitol Years, now did they?

On a serious note, it is hard for bands that burst on the scene with an original sound and a bucket of chops to keep pleasing the early fans years on.  But I think Zia is wrong when she says we don’t appreciate a band as it grows.  Not true, and I’m not going to go through the list of artists whose later work I like more than the early work, but let’s just say we thought of REM and Dylan, to name two.

And in a way, the choices of the songs on The Capitol Years prove the point: “Plan A” and “Holding Me Up” and others included from the later albums show significant growth, but also capture what we love so much about the band.  A song like “Mission Control” could have been made thirty years ago by The Stranglers, or two hours ago by some other band of teenage British louts.  It’s simply not worthy of the Dandys, in our humble opinion.

It’s also not, for example, on The Capitol Years.  But several of the other really good ‘uns from the later years are.  Which is why we endorse it.

Okay, Zia?

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