Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cassette Review ::: Wheelchair Sports Camp "No Big Deal" (self-released)

One of the things I like the most about hip hop is that the community behind it has a sense of family.   Back when Sage Francis released "A Healthy Distrust" I was on the Epitaph mailing list and got an advance copy of the CD.   If that was my only reason for ever contacting Epitaph it was well worth it.   From falling in love with Sage Francis I was introduced to other artists such as B. Dolan and Wheelchair Sports Camp.    It becomes difficult for me to put into words why you should be listening to WSC when a Sage Francis reccomendation should be reason enough.

I've listened to the songs of Wheelchair Sports Camp through various outlets online and I also follow their accounts on social media.   (Cheap plug)   I saw the post come up on their Facebook page about this cassette and thought to myself, well, I've been listening to them enough otherwise for free, it's time to put some cash down and get this cassette.  (Other artists who see me blowing up their Spotify/Soundcloud/YouTube/Bandcamp/etc take note)

If you've read anything I've ever written about rap music before you likely know I listened to cassettes in the 1980's and 1990's and a lot of them (Thanks, Columbia House!) are from the rap genre as well.   So listening to WSC is also a lot of fun for me because even though something to that effect is stated at one point (a '90's rap kid) I can hear it in the songs, specifically something like "Scooter Pack" has that acoustic guitar loop vibe and it makes me think of "Scenario", which if you don't know that song then I'm already beyond being able to help you.

Though I'm not a rapper myself, I like to write and I realized recently that the most difficult part of creating a song is coming up with that hook.   If you can create that hook- those few rhyming lines to always come back to- then the rest just falls into place because you just kind of rhyme a lot of other thoughts related to your hook and I can write for days so I just have to re-work it a bit to rhyme.   Anyway, yes, writing hooks is hard.   But trying to rap is harder.   You have to have that flow and timing which I, vocally, do not possess.    WSC makes it look easy though and for all the years I've been listening to them I've never been a doubter of their collected talent.

If you're into compact discs that's cool, but I really am a fan of the idea that I can take my cassettes from 2Pac, Dr. Dre, all these weird soundtracks I have for some reason (Remember the movie "Who's the Man?" I don't but I have the soundtrack.  And "Trespass" too) and put them with this, combining my musical past and present.     I think it's a fitting sign that the way we listen to music might change over time but quality music will never go out of style.

[$7 // 4 remaining as I type this // https://wheelchairsportscamp.bandcamp.com/album/no-big-deal]

Thursday, February 2, 2017

[Gypsy Radio] January 2017 Top 10

Below are the Top 10 Songs of January 2017 as found on SoundCloud.   Please note these are not in any particular order.

(1) Richard Edwards "Disappeared Planets"

This guy has been through some shit.   And so have I.   This album is going to be great and I am looking forward to it in a way which words cannot describe.   This is the most fitting way to start this or any set of songs really.

Listen Here: https://soundcloud.com/joyful-noise-recordings/richard-edwards-disappeared-planets/s-oGgbE

(2) Tatiana Hazel "Losing My Mind"

A lighter pop that touches on a subject which seems to become a theme this month.   You should know what the fuck is up.

(3) Poté "Egosurf (For All It's Worth)"

          A powerful electronic orchestra/carousel ride.

Listen Here: https://soundcloud.com/potemusic/egosurf-for-all-its-worth

(4) ASHA "Drowning"

Driving, hypnotic and a song which will easily get stuck in your head.

Listen Here: https://soundcloud.com/the-a-3/asha-drowning

(5) Orchestra Baobab "Foulo"

Something a little different that somehow fits into this set of songs for this month but at the same time stands out.   I really like it.

Listen Here: https://soundcloud.com/world-circuit-records/orchestra-baobab-foulo

(6) Princess Cyberspace "Blocked/Unblocked"

I didn't know "cyberpop" was a thing but it is an accurate way to describe this song, which despite the autotune and overly-catchy style really makes me think of something like Ke$ha meets Hellogoodbye.    And yes, the lyrics also hit home.

Listen Here: https://soundcloud.com/princesscyberspace/blockedunblocked

(7) Alexis Nicole "EVERYDAY

So powerful.    The songs in this set from January are about not just losing your mind but loss in general and lyrically this is right up there with them.    The soulful way in which it is delivered makes it that much better.  

(8) NITERUNNER "Out Of Your Hands"

That synthpop of the '80's that I love so much.   Also a great song to listen to while driving I would imagine.    

(9) Hood Celebrityy "The Takeover (Bando Freestyle)"

A chill rap song that has police sirens to freak out your friends while driving.

(10) Linger "Avoid"

Given the nature of the lyrics for this month and the way the songs sound overall there seemed no more fitting of a song to end out this set.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cassette Review: Bonehead "Finally Punk" (Crass Lips Records)

[$5 // https://crasslipsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/bonehead-finally-punk]

When I think of a title such as "Finally Punk" I like to wonder what took so long but then I remember I didn't actually listen to punk rock until high school myself, so it's not like it's something that everyone- or even the majority of people- are born into in that sense.   I also always thought it was kind of funny how there were always these hardcore guys who would get too old and lose their voices so they'd play in emo bands because that just seemed to be where they went after they could no longer hardcore.    I guess it's just one of those natural progressions of music types of things and I enjoy thinking about all of that.

There are a number of ways to describe the music of Bonehead but at its core, yes, I would agree that the title is correct and this has those punk rock roots at the base of it all.   From this dreamy sound like Concrete Blonde to something louder that could even be found on the "10 Things I Hate About You" soundtrack, this one goes from distorted to instrumental but maintains what I feel it is to be punk.

On perhaps one song you could say that it has the sound of another artist but overall, when considering each of the songs on this cassette, there is no other artist who has quite put together a collection such as this before.   It's just as diverse as it is similar, the various elements keeping each song from sounding the same while still bringing them all back to their punk rock grounding.    In some ways it even reminds me of something from that Mr. T Experience era of Lookout! Records.

Typically it would seem inevitable to state that if you are a fan of punk music then you will enjoy this, but I do feel like this one goes above and beyond punk music somehow.   I feel like people who enjoy good music will listen to this and get it.   You don't have to like punk rock, but this could be that one cassette where you go, "Yeah, I don't listen to a lot of punk, but I listen to this".

Cassette Review: Moon Mann Otto Presents O.S.T. (ShanGORIL La Records)

[$5 // Edition of 50 // https://shangorillarecords.bandcamp.com/album/moon-mann-otto-presents-o-s-t]

In the interest of giving my reviews full honesty- because I feel like you should never lie to someone reading this because then they wouldn't read something you wrote again (See: "You said the new Modest Mouse was good, you asshole!!") but I'm not even sure whether the artist is named Moon Mann Ottoo or O.S.T. because on the Bandcamp page the artist spot has "O.S.T." in it and at one point a voice on this cassette does seem to introduce Moon Mann Otto... But, my point is that it doesn't matter because when I got this cassette and realized it was from ShanGORIL La Records I was immediately excited for it.

What begins with wounded bagpipes has space whirrs as well.   There are horns now and I give it the name of "sloppy jaloppy" because it reminds me of a certain car.  I can't think of it off hand, so you'll have to do the movie research (My mind is other places when it comes to movies right now), but it's one of those older Disney live action movies- probably with Dick Van Dyke- where the car makes so much noise it almost sounds like music.  I want to say "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" but that seems wrong and it could be something even more obvious like "The Gnome Mobile" or "Mary Poppins".   Either way, if you don't hear a car then just ignore all of that I guess.

As it the sound becomes dreamy there are drums and it shifts into this pattern of weird rock.   It's space trippy and then somehow quieter and begins to feel acoustic in a sense.   A drum machine brings out some combination of "Fraggle Rock" (in terms of bass lines) and Traffic- both the band and actually listening to a highway, which I do quite often (don't ask).   A saxophone comes out next and this is when the introduction I spoke of in the opening paragraph comes- which makes me think the artist is named Moon Mann Otto- and then we switch into big drums and guitar riffs.    Birds are chirping.   The sax is soulful.   And scale riffs bring about some psychedelic sounds I like to think of simply as space jazz.

On the second half we seem to find our rhythm to the extent that I can think of this more clearly based upon hearing and already digesting the first side.   Spacey whirrs combine with chaotic guitars and then it becomes a little distorted.   More of that sweet, sweet jazz sax and then someone begins talking.    Chaotic and clanking is an accurate way to describe how the second side ends and it's not so much a repeat of Side A as it is an extension of it.   Once you listen to Side A, everything will just fall into place so much better on Side B and then the more you listen to it after that the more it begins to make sense even if it never does quite fully make sense.

Cassette Review: Lime Forest "Like Liquid" (Custom Made Music)

There exists this period of music that I don't really write about because it's not easy for me to describe.    During the 1990's there were these bands who had radio hits but were only seen as having that "one hit" while the rest of their album was much better than that single song played on the radio.   I often think of this as being bands like Blind Melon ("No Rain"), Superdrag ("Sucked Out"), Dandelion ("Whatever"), 1000 Mona Lisas ("You Oughtta Know") and even Marcy Playground ("Sex and Candy").   As I type this, I think of more-- like Hum ("Stars").

But there is this other group of similar artists who aren't as dark and grunge-like feeling.    Bands like Porno for Pyros (Who I realize the history of, but I still feel only really had one radio hit) and that New Radicals band who sang about how you only get what you give.   I've not really explored some of those artists (such as New Radicals, The Verve Pipe and Vertical Horizon) much beyond their one radio song but I imagine they have this alternate universe genre to where I put bands like I mentioned in the first paragraph and maybe if I listened to their full albums now I'd like them.

In a lot of ways, I like to think that a band like Lime Forest could fall into this sort of genre.   I'm not saying I would have heard a song of theirs on the radio in the late '90s and then not listened to their full album, but it is nice to be reminded of a time in my youth that I often forget about for some reason.    From bits of Pink Floyd and something closer to post-punk even, the songs can also become slower, sadder somehow and yet have a xylophone (or bells) in them.   Like someone mixed Schatzi with The Cure.

At the same time, I can hear fuzzy pop elements like a mixture of The Beatles and something else.    But this does have that music over lyrics feel to it in the sense that there are more guitar parts for you to become engrossed in than there are lyrics.   Still, the lyrics are there and worth noting still because at one point he does admit he starts fires and not in a Billy Joel way.    Overall this cassette just spans all other sorts of genres of rock cassettes and as such should be listened to by pretty much everyone.

Cassette Review: "Jerusalem—Electric" (Trash Dog Records)

[$7 // Edition of 25 // https://trashdogrecords.bandcamp.com/album/jerusalem-electric]

Based upon the way that this looks I would say that the artist name is Jerusalem and the cassette is titled "Electric", but I just copy and pasted what was on Bandcamp because for all I know the whole thing- both words- could be the artist name and this could be one of those self-titled deals.    I actually really like the artwork on this cassette though- right away it grabbed me- because it looks like a cassette on the cover.   I know this may sound crazy but if anyone could ever make a case for their cassette which was just in fact a larger cassette I would be really impressed.

There are two different sounds on this cassette but only because one is instrumental and one has lyrics/vocals.   As it starts and in alternating songs, there is this instrumental electronic video game vibe.    It's not like listening to something which is 100% chiptune of 8bit in terms of sound because there is a different level to it as well.   Though it might not be entirely the case I feel like the instrumental numbers on here sound less like they are being played using a Gameboy and more like they have almost a full on band sound.

Songs with vocals also exist on here as well and within those you'll find any range of electro-distorted rock artists such as AWOLNATION, Dana Fowler And The, Deathdealer, Nine Inch Nails (as it can become rather industrial at times) and even the melodies of Modest Mouse.    The lyrics can range from different topics depending upon the song but I'll probably best remember them for the song which questions whether or not we can smoke cigarettes in Hell.

If you like your music loud and abrasive (and at times, yes, I will admit that I do) then this one is for you.    Whether this serves as that boost of energy to get you charged up in the morning or your afternoon pick me up to get you through the day, use this one wisely.   I'll typically listen to something like Glassjaw or Chiodos on days I feel particularly tired and even though I wouldn't say this sounds like either of those two artists I would still put it on if I need that extra boost of energy.

Cassette Review: Poomse "This Is How We Fail" (Custom Made Music)

[$8 // http://custommademusicva.com/release/this-is-how-we-fail-cassette/]

In the interest of always writing about things honestly, I must confess that I put this cassette on for the first time (And the times after that) because I really enjoyed the title "This Is How We Fail".   Right now in my life I feel like a failure for many reasons- far too many to discuss here- and so I felt like I could really relate to this based just upon the title.   I was hoping to hear somewhat depressing music with lyrics to match and, well, Poomse did not disappoint.   If anything, this is a great cassette to listen to not when you're young and heartbroken by love but rather when you're older and jaded by life.

From musical influence such as The Honor System and Nada Surf, these songs also bring out some of the darkness of Tom Waits and it just has this overall dark rock feel to it without seeming like this is band that dresses in all black and looks like Halloween (And how fitting I am writing this review on Halloween!)   When I hear music like this, in 2016, I think how back in the 1990's when grunge was around I would have loved to hear a band like this- one of those possible one hit radio wonders with an entire album full of remarkable music such as Dandelion- but the fact that this can still exist in 2016 musically brings me an amount of happiness no one shall ever know.

Lyrically, these songs can't be placed by their titles or even the title of this cassette so much as the lyrics themselves when you're listening to the songs.   It's kind of like how a song can have a line you really enjoy and really seem to hang onto but it isn't the title of the song.   In fact, the song "Plastic Flowers" is among my favorites if only for the line "There is absolutely nothing you can do".   "Plastic Flowers" might be a band name as well, but it has become one of my favorite songs on here not to be outdone by a song which mentions another band name, "Heartless Bastards" (which actually is part of the ninth song title)

Overall my favorite song on this cassette is without a doubt "Anger Management".   It has the subtle melodies of Lou Reed or something you might otherwise hear on the "Trainspotting" soundtrack because it just has a lot of beauty within the sadness and yet at the same time the lyrics are just among the best I've ever heard-- most closely what I can relate to right now from the very first line.   Whether you're a fan of We Were Promised Jetpacks, Death Cab or just good all around rock music then you need to be listening to Poomse.  Fuck, this is their third album.  I have some old music to dig up.