Friday, December 30, 2011

Starcastle, Second-Children of Prog

“You mean you haven’t heard of Starcastle?”

Bees and Trees homie Bryan Jones said that to me one night with deadpan incredulity when I asked him about the Starcastle album I found in his stacks.

For my money, Starcastle was (is?) a spirited band of good players that suffered from an identity crisis. The band name implies reverence, sovereignty, celestial focus; it indicates faithfulness to the order established by a ruling body or social betters. It sounds real late-70's anyway... with the word "star" and all.

Their eponymous first album (1976) sounds like a Yes cover-band playing Yes songs you’ve never heard before. That's like the best and worst thing I can think to say about Starcastle. Now, if that doesn’t pique your interest, I don’t know what to say to you.

Lots of good Starcastle reading @Schlockmania. Read about the first Starcastle album here.

“Fountains of Light”(1977) and “Citadel”(1978) combine the Yes impersonation with stabs at radio friendliness, mostly by aping the slick, pseudo-prog stylings of Styx.

Read about "Fountains of Light" here.

Read about "Citadel" here.

Click here to check out some live Starcastle via The Luxor Dream blog.

If you ever wanted to hear what Jon Anderson (of Yes) singing for “Audio-Visions” era Kansas might have sounded like, pick up a copy of 1979’s “Real to Reel.” Turns out virtually nobody else wanted to hear that either, so that was it for Starcastle Phase-1, the Classical period. (In fairness, the dude doesn't sound that much like Jon Anderson...)

Whether it was intentional or not, “Real to Reel” cops its title from an obscure 1975 Arthur Lee/Love album called "Reel to Real." This kinda represents another case of Starcastle looking to the rock-n-roll pantheon (the star castle, get it?) for influence.

Some live shows in the mid-eighties didn’t really catch fire. I guess I can see why.

Fans of Classical period ‘Castle won’t wanna miss a weekend alone with “Shine On Brightly,” and “Chronos I.” Both are 2001 CD issues. “Chronos I” features early versions of Starcastle “hits”, plus three other songs previously deemed unfit for release.

“Shine On Brightly” is a live recording of a show in Boston from August 12, 1979. It is also marketed as “Alive in America.” It first appeared in 1999 with the curious title, “Concert Classics, Vol. 5.” Shine on, indeed. Where have I heard that?

In 2007, backed by a cavalcade of keyboard players and percussionists, Starcastle became Studiocastle once more with “Song of Times.” Diehard Terry Luttrell fans may be disappointed that he only appears as lead vocalist on one track. Alas...

Here goes the 2007 version of Starcastle givin' it hell.

The guys in Starcastle certainly had chops, and four albums of original material in five years is a testament to their admirable work ethic. It seems that Starcastle was just always in the shadow of some hot-shot older sibling. The Beaver to Yes’ Wally; the Jan to Marcia’s Styx.

I don’t want to give the impression that I dislike Starcastle, because I like them quite a lot. They’re just right for when I want the sounds of late ‘70’s prog, but am not in the mood to be challenged or to have my mind blown. Starcastle lyrics don’t reference arcane literature or deal with contemporary alienation and dread. The music may sometimes be ponderous, but it isn’t often all that pompous. I like listening to Starcastle at Christmas time in particular. Starcastle music is like Christmas music. It has a specific sound, and sometimes that sound is very appealing to me, more so than the lyrical content or the fact that the music is really not very original.

I don’t have a little brother, but if I did I would want him to be just like Starcastle-- totally in my formidable shadow, but still sort of awesome.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"Christmas Party" by the Snowman Electrical Band. FREE Streaming/Download!!!

Bees and Trees are proud to present "Christmas Party," the new EP from the Snowman Electrical Band! This recording marks the third time we've worked with the Snowman Electrical Band and the third time was indeed a charm. The chops are tight, displaying the Snowmen as refreshingly on-point and prepared!

There are two Snowman Electrical Band originals, "Christmas Time" and "Heart and Mind," and a handful of Yuletide standards that are given the Snowman Electrical once-over. There's even a remix of BxT- and Snowman Electrical-favorite, the Carpenters!

Making this EP was a blast and we are happy to offer it to you for absolutely FREE streaming and download. You can even print the crazy cover art and make your own Christmas gifts-- or whatever! Enjoy!

Merry Christmas, everybody. From us to you, we love you!
Peace on earth.

Christmas Party by theSnowmanElectricalBand

click here to download the cover art and credits

Sowman Electrical Band "Chrsitmas Party" EP Cover

Here it is! The super-glitzy cover art for "Christmas Party," the up-coming EP by the Snowman Electrical Band. Bees and Trees did the art work for the EP and we produced it as well. We're pretty psyched! Stay turned on and tuned in...!!

Crazy Christmas Trees

Friday, November 25, 2011

It is Today

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy X Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. We're thankful for good vibes whenever and however they come. Thanks for everything. Wishing you the beXt!

Snowman Electrical Memories

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Tricks

The Snowman Electrical Band was in town over the weekend to learn and record these songs. These Halloween jams are some pretty obscure covers from the 1960s; one by a band of cartoon cats and the other, some adolescent girls of dubious musical ability. 17 hours with the Snowman Electrical Band left nerves raw and phaser pedals ruined. Truly terrifying. Happy Halloween, everybody!

My Girlfriend Is A Witch by theSnowmanElectricalBand

It's Halloween by theSnowmanElectricalBand

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Danny Heller Solo Show at George Billis, LA

For Danny Heller's upcoming solo exhibition at the George Billis Gallery in Los Angeles he will be showing a new body of work focusing on LAX (the Los Angeles International Airport). The personal is ever political.

In depicting LAX Heller's personal affinity for mid-century Modern architecture subtly sneaks into the shared space of post-9/11 anxiety and loss. Airports don't mean what they once did. In choosing LAX as a subject Heller acknowledges his familiar loves (mid-century Modern architecture, Los Angeles), but this work alludes to something that touches all of us. The light and shadows in Heller's work bring a temporal quality to his subjects. Years grind on, endless arrivals and departures. However, in Heller's work LAX stands as a monument to a style and an idealism (and a style of idealism) that we may, or may not, be losing. Heller's gorgeous paintings can serve to remind us that that choice is ours. Our highest ideals might just die harder than our habits of fear and anxiety.

Danny Heller's solo exhibition opens October 15.
Danny Heller's website

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ben Pederson has a new website

"Sad Sap," mixed media, 20" x 16", 2011

If you've followed the BxT blog for any amount of time, you've likely seen a Ben Pederson video. He makes Post-Pop Surrealist art. Or you could say he makes Post-Minimal Psychedelic Mannerist art. The point is that Pederson's work deals greatly with themes of identity and pop culture and defies easy categorization. Check out his site and see how his gaudy aesthetic (I mean that in the best way possible) translates across different media. I'm consistently impressed by how Pederson is able to make poignant and personal statements in such a day-glo way. No small feat.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What the heck is Justin Horne doing?

I wonder that from time to time. As if to answer, he sent me these amazing photos. I don't know how he does it. It's like NYC is his zen garden. He is a real artist.

Monday, July 18, 2011

In the parking lot

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

KV Interview on Paperwhistle

Brandi Strickland is a really good artist. She runs the Paperwhistle blog. Check out my interview over there. And be sure to check out Brandi's work!

KV interview on Paperwhistle

Saturday, July 2, 2011

"Everything has the potential to be fun."

Bees said that last night. She right. The opening was awesome. Old, old friends and new. Thanks to everyone involved!

"Hit the Skull Light," acrylic on paper, 24in x 19in, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

U R Invited

If you can make it, please do. Art, death, nature, love, neurological disorder, we got it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Robert Ryman is the O-Dog of Modern painting, (Issues of Black and White).

According to Roger Ebert's review of "Menace II Society," Allen Hughes said of his film, "If you hate blacks, this movie will make you hate them more." I feel like that about Robert Ryman's paintings: if you already feel threatened by challenging works of art, you will probably really, really dislike Ryman's work.

Personally, I think Robert Ryman is a good painter. And, if you haven't seen "Meance II Society," it's good too.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Keith Vaughn solo show at Leo Handmade in Chattanooga, TN. Opens July 1. More info to come...

trashy raggy

"Show Yr Tits," 2011, mixed media. Here's a little sculpture I didn't spend much time on. The knots in the plywood are the tits to which the title refers, and the scrap of Aerosmith t-shirt is the shirt. My sculpture is as good as a Sarah Lucas sculpture. Just kidding. She's good, (at least she was in the 90's). This isn't art. I was just goofing around.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"we can make each other happy"

Is "Jump into the Fire" cooler here, or in "Goodfellas?" Is that even a fair question?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

a turning point

Where would the BxT blog be without bros hooking us up with this kind of weird shit?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Valley business

Monday, April 18, 2011


Jus' breezin'

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

So close