Monday, July 16, 2018

Cassette Review //
Echo Courts
"Room With A View"
(Refresh Records)

$12 //
Edition of 50 // //

While some artists can combine the forces of other artists to craft their sound, Echo Courts doesn't follow quite as simple an equation of "Artist A + Artist B with a little bit of Artist C mixed in".     Through bands that I believe are not just bands but genres of their own, Echo Courts combines those types of sounds with that of other genres to create a sound which can be generalized as "rock", is enjoyable overall and should be played as loudly as possible with a lot of fun.

At first there are elements which remind me of The Benjamins, a band I never know how to explain or what genre to put them in exactly for people who have never heard them before.   "Take Away" gets into this more garage rock sound which reminds me of High Pop but will likely remind you of some other band who has bigger albums and might even be on that cassette based label that I try not to write about anymore. 

From there, the songs just seem to get dreamier on Side A.   It's got that feeling of 1950's rock n roll like Buddy Holly and yet something else familiar within it like The Honorary Title.    "Strawberry Pie" slows things down in a more winding manner and by the end of Side A I am reminded of both Daniel Johnston and some sort of combination of that country twang like Limbeck and The Lyndsay Diaries. 

On the flip side louder, psych rock kicks things off.   "Daisies #4" has a much more rock n roll feel to it, like Priests or something from back in the early '00's that just as easily went overlooked and you feel like they're a legendary band in your mind but when you try and name drop them people just ask "Who?"   "Tail Lights" has a sound somewhere between the Eels and Guns N Roses' version of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door", which is just blissed out amazement.

The last song on this cassette is called "The One You're Dreaming Of" and it has this definite feel like "Hungry Like The Wolf" to it, yet at the same time there is this almost country twang happening, much like before with the earlier Limbeck reference.   This sums up the entire cassette in a lot of ways because it can have that feeling like "Teen Angel" and yet sound like Superdrag at the same time, so it combines that 1950's with 1990's rock to forge something new and, well, any fan of music in general should get into this quickly.

Cassette Review //
steve roden
"under the silent blue shadow (for bertil malmberg)"
((1.8)sec.records / one point, eat records)

$6 // //

Slight organ tones begin this cassette with the sounds of people talking as well.   There is a sound like coughing and some of these seem to be on loops as well, as you can hear something being said (though I can't quite make it out) more than once and now there is this sort of flute sound as well.   A crumbling.  A frequency coming through like a homing beacon.   It is hollow now, a sense of loudness I cannot explain.   It sounds like footsteps, people shuffling around and it could be someone walking in sandals or some other sound which I cannot seem to define, but as this says in the title for Side A these are the field recordings.

A rhythm like percussion now, one of those drums you roll in your hands and the balls on strings strike the drum itself.   A whirr.   A helicopter.  Dings.  It could just as easily all be a sprinkler system.   People are heard talking once again; a baby.   Pots and pans.   This feels like the waiting room at a doctor's office where as the first part felt like an airport.   That banging of pots and pans together continues.   Some of the words are being manipulated, so it is not a straight forward field recording but sampled and looped to the liking of Steve Roden. 

A story in Spanish now.   It sounds like a voice mail for some reason.   A chugging like a train now.   It is possible this is the subway.   It could be waiting for the train but there is also this other grinding sound within it that makes me think that isn't the case at all and it's something else completely.    A more somewhat magical piano sound accompanies business men talking.   Bells jingle now.    They fade out just as easily as they came in.    A tapping, maybe a creaking.    This is followed by some sort of tapping but almost closer to a banging like someone hitting a pen against something metal.

More voices now.    It feels as if we are walking with these conversations.   There is also this squeaking which makes me feel like something is with us, like luggage, that is making that sound.  Someone singing can be heard off in the background and this feels like an airport though I'm sure you could hear similar ideas on the boardwalk in San Antonio.    A back and forth ticking now.    We are told as dancers to change into denim or denim and black and that's kind of cool.   Side A ends with someone singing, but not words just a melody.   I want to say, I've thought about going out in the world and recording things but "field recordings" aren't all that easy.  Plus, the other night I heard this go by on a skateboard angry-rapping the whole time and I wasn't fast enough to record it though I wish I had been.

On the flip side we have what sounds like synths coming through almost like modems.   There is this ringing whirr behind this as well, as it almost feels like an alarm.   The modem sounds seem to have shifted into this in and out breathing feel, like something scraping in the outer galaxies of your mind, and then that ringing persists still.   It feels like we're on some sort of space exploration for sure.   It begins to even start seeming like it put this hypnotic spell on me, which music can have this way of doing, but this seems like it is doing it even more than most times I've felt it before.

Tones come through now with expanding lasers and this overall feeling of robots, which makes sense given the side title, but it just feels like that glass tone or something like a dialtone mixed with all these whirrs and lasers that you might hear from Transformers.   Yet it carries itself in such a manner that it does create a robotic symphony which is unparalleled with any other piece of music attempting to do the same.   Then it all just speeds up and gets pretty crazy for a moment there.   Beeps go in and out now in a somewhat darker manner.  There is a slight distortion as well.

It takes on this feel like an Atari game as well somehow.   These tones coming through, dropping off and creating a pattern which could be some game I've not played before but would definitely be interested in playing.    This is how the cassette ends and it makes for quite the interesting listen as the first half does seem to represent society more in a human way while the flip side is more towards technology and robots.   If you follow along with AI at home you know we're pretty close to becoming "Terminator" levels with our society, so let's just sit back and wait for that day to come I suppose, but at least enjoy this music until then.

Cassette Review //
nature camp
"dry food / wet food"

$6 // //

A loud, heavenly glow starts this cassette and then what sounds like an electric drill comes in.   There is a space quality here, such as you would find in that "Masters Of The Universe" movie, which was recently added to Hulu.   This shifts to dings and then a rhythmic pattern of tones which feels soothing.    It feels like it could fairly easily turn into a pop song and instead kicks into these drums and guitars which have more of an electronic feel, like something out of "Alias" perhaps.    The percussion now shifts to a more acoustic feel and it's bringing out the inner "Low Rider" within all of music.

This continues with a somewhat serious feel to it, like "Mission: Impossible" and it stays in the electronics field as well.    A pattern tapping with whooshes now and then something which sounds like a cat purring and bottles being opened but is likely something else.   Drum machines and guitar notes now give off a strong Radiohead vibe.   It's like "Paranoid Android".    Now it's more like a scraping and sounds like a jug band to me, whatever that means.    Big electronic bass comes through and then someone says "Time to get up". 

Quieter now, it feels as if a train is pulling into the station.    This makes it sound like church as those keys come in.    This goes from something like Prodigy to a more magical carousel ride pretty quickly.   Tones lighten up now like a television station all sign.   Beats come through electronically and there is a space dance feel to it.    Drums which sound like clapping bring about these bells and it has a definite feel to it like something you might listen to with a pop song.   The bass gets darker now, deeper, as the next part starts.   Uplifting tones come through with it. 

Back into that funk like "Low Rider" now.    Then it gets a little bit more like "Weird Science" or something you might hear similarly from the soundtrack to a movie from the 1980's/early 1990's.    A pretty sweet piano riff comes into here as well.   It has a sort of jazz feel to it, but it's more like when a band from the 80's had a keyboardist.    It all winds down and returns with big synths and waves crashing.     More beats and more of a sci-fi synth now as we are into this borderline "Stranger Things" sound now.    Video game shots are fired now and I'm singing along.    Someone is saying "Let's go" now as the pace quickens and it gets more upbeat as well.   The levels continue to be raised until we break down into minimal beats and lasers barely squeaking through. 

As we creep through the next part a lot of this reminds me of that "She's Got The Look" song, though there is also just some straight up jackhammer drilling now.    This molds into darker rock with electronic bass winding through it.   A much more urgent sense now, as if a transmission which cannot be ignored and this is how the first side comes to an end, after what is either the rustling of papers or something to do with water, though it somehow feels like it could be both.

On the flip side we have the "wet food".    It opens with these somewhat eerie, somewhat dramatic like a soap opera type of electronic tones in a loop.    People can be heard talking in the background.    Someone speaks much more clearly and electronics come out like a cop movie from the 1980's or maybe something more along the martial arts, where I feel like it could almost be from that Double Dragon movie they made for some reason.     This all quiets down into an acoustic guitar note loop.    People can still be heard talking in the background though.

Pianos enter a rather dramatic fashion.    It sounds like some kind of percussion enters here, like drum sticks hitting a hollow pipe of some kind and it adds to the piano.    There is also a decent amount of static coming through here as well.    A whistling now, as things whirr and wind down.    There is also this squeaking like from a chair or something but it also resembles a duck as the wind continues to whirl.   Someone shouts "Hey! Knock it off you freak!" and then more pianos come through in an uplifting manner.    This has a rather post apocalyptic feel to it now as well.   Wind chimes and people talking in the background are added in now as well.

Those weird tones that sound like singing from pop music come out next with angelic synth tones.   It kind of feels like it's going to go into an ad I usually hear on SoundCloud.    A quieter rhythm begins to build now.     A definitive haunted sound comes through now and it really begins to feel like a horror movie.    This could perhaps be bowling based upon the rolling sounds I hear only there is no pin crash so I'm not entirely sure.    Someone is talking about Dallas and so I can only assume it's at an airport.

Beeps now and magic tones.  "Does that make sense? Ok"  It almost feels like a ringtone.   Now it feels a bit more dramatic, like "Law & Order".    Which then becomes an 80's dance party.    It just moves now like the end credits to a television series.   Heavier beats and rhythms make me think of an old WWE theme song, like back when The Headshrinkers were a tag team.   Then tones come through and give it some added depth.   A quieter rhythm now, somewhere between a ringtone and the start of a pop song.   More electro-synth beats like a song from the 1980's or 1990's and it kind of sounds like a mix between Human League and New Order.   This changes into something darker and a lot of these sounds could be used for scores to television shows from the 1980's and 90's.

Scale progressions come through with these notes now and there is still a sense of being in space despite the rock sound it carries with it.    This winds down into a grinding where it almost sounds as if we're at the airport but instead of listening to the people we're listening to the planes take off.    Static distortion comes through a bit choppy now.    It crackles and sparks like a firecracker. 

One thing that this cassette has made me do is download the Voice Memos app again.   It's so much easier to access than having to wait for Garage Band to load and I used to use it a few years ago to make my own field recordings then I don't remember why I deleted it but I feel like it is best to have on your phone.   Everyone should be out there recording everything, making field recordings.   But to play them back in the way that Nature Camp does... Well, not everyone can do that, obviously.

Record Review //
Svetlanas & New Cold War
(SquidHat Records)

$7 // //

One of the things that I love about music is that there isn't such a thing as too much of it, at least not to me.   If you introduce a new band to me and I like them, then I'll find a way to fit their songs into my life.   I don't feel this same way about other forms of art though.   You can only hang so many paintings on your walls, for example.  I only want to have a certain number of movies in a physical format.    So when I looked up Svetlanas on Discogs to find that they have a split with Dwarves is pretty rad since I've heard Dwarves before.

These two songs from Svetlanas are as fast paced as you'd expect punk to be but they are also just as precise in their delivery.   You can sing along as both the music and lyrics come out at such a rapid fire pace, like a machine gun, and in trying to find a comparison I'm sure I've heard a band play as fast over the years but when it comes to recent memory it just isn't there.   That's more about the state of punk than anything else because we really need more of these no bullshit type of punk bands like Svetlanas.

New Cold War has more of a punk rock feel like older Rise Against or something from the earlier days of Fat Wreck Chords where there is some melody and it can be a sing along as well, but it also just isn't afraid to let loose and feel like a bit of thrash.   "Burn" starts with those guitar notes like old Offspring and it just kicks in the way I remember punk rock sounding in the 1990's but since the 21st Century it isn't... I don't want to say it isn't there, I just want to say it isn't as easy to find. 

Not only should you listen to this record with these four songs on it, you should also open yourself up to the worlds of both Svetlanas and New Cold War.   Do some research, follow them down the rabbithole and discover other bands.    Punk should really be about listening to the most amount of punk music you can and in 2018 that seems to be even easier than ever before.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Cassette Review //
Peter Kris
"Error Into The Sun"
(Never Anything Records)

$9 //
Edition of 50 // //

A darkness looms as we kick things off on this double cassette.   Tones come through like crashing and it has a distinct sound of something deep though lighter, industrial type tones come through as well.    This develops an interesting pattern and it begins to feel as if it is going to speak.    As it drones through more powerfully now it takes on that "In the great below" Nine Inch Nails feel.    The speakers begin to shake as the sound resonates through.    An ominous tone comes through now as it begins to feel even more haunted. 

We wind through now, still quieter fog in the background with louder sounds blaring through the speakers in the front.   This begins to take on an almost space-like feel to it now.   Guitars ring through and it has definitely this Black Sabbath/POD feel to it.   This continues on the next song as we are into funky guitar loops and it just makes you feel like you're in a spaceship with the door open and it's only a matter of time before you get sucked out.   Whirrs in the background make it feel as if you're flying which gives good reason to listen to this while walking.

Guitar notes ring on through now in a more traditional, classic way.   There are also these longer notes behind them and for some reason this makes me of that "Turn the Page" song by Bob Seger.   It just has that idea of driving along without much sleep, leaving the road behind you in the dust.    The next set of guitars bring about this feel of something like Soundgarden or Silverchair.     These become rather hypnotizing as Side A comes to an end and leaves me a little disorientated each time.

On the flip side, we open with winding guitars which remind me more of someone like Duncan Sheik or perhaps Fastball.    It turns into an almost tropical feel as well, like we could be on an island of Hawaii.    Strums now make me think of something more dreamy and then these notes come in with a more upbeat feel to them, like that band Dada who did the song about Disney Land but didn't use the actual word Disney for copyright reasons.    After feeling like I wanted to go hiking the music takes back to that darker place we were at earlier on during the first side of this cassette.

We are taken back to the desert now, the heat beaming down on us while the guitar slowly bleeds.    There is a sense of darkness again but not as dark as before.   It's strange how we started with darkness, got lighter and now we're more in this lighter sense of darkness.  (Is that even a thing?)    The way these guitars whirr through make me feel like it's classic rock, something along the lines of Hendrix meets The Doors.     Though we also take that hollow trip back to the darkness as well before this cassette comes to an end. 

The second cassette begins with lighter guitars which are somewhere between that band Dada I mentioned earlier and a dreamy, post rock feel like FNL.    This leads to a drop off noise, as if the cassette itself is being fucked with-- like if you hit the pause button the right way.   Deeper strings now, perhaps a cello, come in and it takes on a more serious tone.    The sounds become back and forth, wavy, and then we dive into darker guitars once again.    More of a rolling sound of distorted chords comes through now and then those sharp guitar notes blister on through again as well.

An eerie feeling takes over now as it feels somewhat like a western.    This leads us into a quieter sense of fog drone.    Gloomy guitar notes come through now and it's like we're in an oasis.    As we sink further into the deep space of the earth, Side A (or Side C if you want to be that cassette listener) comes to a close.     On the flip side for the second and final time we begin with a radiating drone which makes me feel like we are being exposed to nuclear activity.    As we continue to drone on I feel as if we are lost in space.

Guitars return and it feels like a surf rock song now.   It begins to move away from the surf sound after you listen to the pattern a few times but it still creates a nice rhythm.   It's relaxing.    Ringing guitars, really echoing into that void, take us into the next song which is as powerful and hollow as anything else on this cassette.    This brings about more of a bluesy, rambling man type of guitar riff that you could put forth on one of those songs about being a highwayman.    Back and forth notes now feel like the ticking of the clock, always reminding time is never gaining, only running out. 

As we have this sense of electricity it's more of these guitar notes which remind me of The Doors, such as we're going to go into a song like "People Are Strange".     This buzzing persists throughout as it feels as if these notes are just dropping off the face of the earth.   A stronger synth drone now begins.    Distorted waves fill the room now.   You can begin to hear sounds which aren't really there in the haze.    It whirrs into something I can't explain but it just feels like you're being engrossed by this whole thing.    A strong sense of doom makes up not just this particular song, which ends the whole thing, but the cassettes on the whole.

Record Review //
False Cause
"This Flag EP"
(SquidHat Records)

$7 // //

In today's punk lesson we will learn from False Cause not only that punk was once dangerous (despite what you hear on the radio today that is so-called punk) but also what makes it so dangerous still to this day.   Through these five songs, False Cause have a lot to be angry about as their hardcore punk style reminds me of No Use For A Name and there are some influences in here on the punk side (like older NOFX) but the particular blend of hardcore and punk within these songs is new to me so that makes it that much better.

Back in the day (and even before my day) punk songs used to be about something.  "Enough Is Enough" seems like an easy idea to get behind based upon the title but I feel like too many people sit on their hands and do nothing when there is so much work to be done.   Oh yeah?  Did you retweet that tweet about that thing you don't like?  But what have you really done about it?   Get out there and take action.

"This Flag (Is Covered In Blood)" brings up a subject we're hearing a lot more about lately, from taking a knee to that old confederate flag.   But learning the history of the symbols of the USA is never a bad thing because most of them are not what you think.  A Dr. Know cover pretty well sums up where this record stands as well-- something you'd likely get in trouble for playing in public, I imagine shows where False Cause plays can get shut down for various, trivial political reasons, but overall, we need more bands like False Cause.   We need more punk bands with a message.

Cassette Review //
Troy Schafer
"The Mailman"
((1.8)sec.records / one point, eat records)

$6 // //

Angelic organ tones begin this cassette as if we are in church, which in a way we kind of are.   A voice says "The Mailman" and begins to tell a story of how the house was burned down.   Distant thunder looms.   Pianos.   This is some interesting combination of music and a spoken word narrative.   Part audio book, part poetry, this is something I imagine performed live with someone speaking into a microphone in the dark while other live musicians play and visuals accompany it all on a large screen. 

The piano takes over for a while and then what sounds like a violin begins the next part.   It's this frantic flurry of strings now, both dark and higher pitched but there is such a dramatic feel to them.    This is not the soundtrack but rather the score to some great film I have yet to see.    A sound like ripping sheets of paper comes in now as the accompanying words begin to tell us about The Mailman again.    This narrative really paints the mailman as a tragic figure, someone who seems so common, so ordinary but yet is so much more underneath that.

Strings come in next with this rhythm that really picks things up and if nothing else you can at least take away from this cassette that there has yet to be a dull moment.   It feels like a lot to take in, so I suggest multiple listens to fully engross yourself in it all.   It will take you a few times to realize the music and the words together.   On its own, the music is great.   On their own, the words forming this story are great.   Together, the way they have chemistry, is just somehow even better.    They just compliment each other so well that it is not easy to explain with mere words.

Like a soap opera, Side B opens with dramatic strings.    "The Mailman" is said again.   Pianos return.   This is the same idea as what opened Side A- the track called "Prelude"- but this is a different edit of it, as we once again hear about how the house was burned down.     It feels a little bit darker, as there are these brooding drones behind the piano keys.    There is more of a calm this time around it seems.   From blissful ambient strings to darker doom, this is not too much unlike the first side but if you listen to it enough times you will hear the differences.

Even "Prelude" gets a third take but this time it is much shorter.   I just like hearing about how on the anniversary of your passing fire was set to your house.  When I die, burn my house down.    In many ways, the mailman is a complex character because as innocent as he might seem, distributing mail throughout the neighborhood, you can google a list of former postal employees who became serial killers.    There is an almost voyeuristic sense to being a mailman, though at the same time it can be just as wholesome of a character.   For me, this music captures that double-sided notion perfectly.

When I was a kid I wanted to be a mailman.   It's funny how we take the USPS for granted now, in a lot of ways.   Email somewhat killed letters that came in the mail and on top of that we have all this digital music now... I remember when I started writing about music in '99 people would constantly send me music through the mail.   To this day, I'm still excited about getting the mail to see what I get and I feel like people who don't share that same sort of connection, people who can't be bothered to check their mail every day seem as if they're really missing something in their life.