Friday, February 15, 2019

R. Stevie Moore [] Interview Number 210 []

1) A lot of what I'm reading about "Afterlife" is that it's trying to be that big hit record for you.   Why now?   What made you decide that this is the one that should do it?

Well sir, what you're reading is the label and producer writing. They're deciding. This fresh compilation purposely leans more toward straight popsong rock, without the usual weirdso left turns. The blurb's a stylistic slant, a sales tactic, an arm twist. Hit?? I am clueless! I make musical recordings, and others prefer to determine themselves how it's presented. What do you think?

2) You've been making music since before I was born.   How do you maintain the longevity of such a career?   Do you have advice for anyone starting out in music now that wants to spend their whole life in it?

Well sir, by now, I'm sadly losing that maintenance. It has been 50 years this year. Rehearsals for retirement, health reasons. Now only dealing with promoting my 400+ back catalog, no more new writing recording performing. I'm 10,000 years old, an oldtimer veteran. No advice to anyone, please. Who knew. Why now? Yes! What do you think?

3) Does it weird you out that there are people buying your music now that weren't even alive when you first started making music?

Well sir, not really. Breaks my heart tho. Tom waits for no one. Why do you think?

4) You've got music out there on cassette and vinyl.   Do you have a preferred format and do you prefer physical over digital or does it not matter?

Doesn't matter. Wham do you think?

5) In the late '00's and up until now music has really changed with the way people access it.   Labels used to have to send out promo cassettes and then CDs and now they just send you a link to download an album.   What do you feel has been the most difficult aspect of adapting to the ever-changing music lifestyle from the days when it was just vinyl to the digital age now?

Well, adapting could be difficult, yet nevertheless the future has its advantages as well. Instant tunes. I go with the flow, it doesn't bother me, with regards to moral obligation to tradition.

6) You've done some interesting collaborations over time and off the top of my head some of my favorites just from last year were with Period Bomb and Darko The Super.  Is there anyone out there you really want to collaborate with but just haven't had the chance to yet?

No sir, I'm basically finished with prioritizing recording project plans. Shit falls into place, yo.

7) You've been a part of a number of different record labels over the years.   How do you feel record labels impact musicians in 2019?

Ah, they mean nothing in my world. Too late to look back now. Independence has backfired.

8) What was the last really great album you listened to?

"All Systems Go" by The Honeycombs.

9) If people have never heard R. Stevie Moore before, why is "Afterlife" the album that they should hear?

I never said that! Why not! What will you think?

10) Final thoughts, shout outs, etc... ??

Emphasize the emphysema.

Cassette Review //
Drekka / Lather
"Live: Concentration Club"

$6 //
Edition of 50 // //

The interesting thing about this cassette is that it's not a collaboration between Drekka and Lather, playing at the Concentration Club together, but rather the two artists having different sets at different times just at the same place.    This would make it somewhat neat for there to be a Concentration Club series, as then artists coming through town would want to play there and hopefully be a part of it.   It would just be nice to see some places to play get some recognition since it doesn't happen all too often these days.

Drekka starts things off on Side A with minimal electronics.   There is some sharpness to this and it can get loud over the sound of what feels like a car stalling.    It feels like something is being shifted around, it's a bit of a ruckus, and these tones create this pattern behind that which is a bit hypnotic.   Louder sounds, like shaking giant metal sheets and other whirrs and disturbances enter the otherwise minimal, quiet feel.    There is this calm, this overall tone of sonar underwater but these outbursts disrupt that and really add another layer to this all.

Tones fade into the background and there is a sound like percussion- cymbals maybe- but to me it just sounds like someone has a bag of something metal (I'm thinking coins but I've also been watching the new "Ducktales" a lot) and they're kind of shifting it around.    Louder tones now and what sounds like a xylophone to break up the near silence.    Now it sounds as if it is raining nails down onto a snare drum and this is quite the interesting sound, as a bottle appears to be rolling around as well.   This somehow creates the sound of a march for me and tones still remain behind it all until these haunted radio ghosts come through.    While it can feel like singing, it can also just feel like the haunting of the damned.

On the flip side, Lather opens things up with this magical sound that just drones like it's going to wipe out an entire army.    It has this sound of organ keys and it comes through loud like a sea or wall.    Though it isn't quite an accurate portrayal I imagine a strong wind storm, like a hurricane but in slow motion, pulling apart a grand piano, piece by piece, and this is the sound it makes.    There are some sharper sounds within this now, like nails on a chalkboard.    A drone of some sort exists behind these screeches and it makes for something slightly relaxing until it isn't.

With a flare for the dramatic, this feels like it could be out of a Hitchcock movie if it was slightly scarier- more about the horror than the suspense.   I think of Bela Lugosi being directed by Hitchcock, for example, some sort of combination like that.     It begins to drift back and forth, as if we are lost at sea, which seems like an all too fitting and overall perfect mood to describe this music.    It grows quite louder and the keys really return before the end.    Though it might not be exactly the same on both sides, you should enjoy both of these pieces by Drekka and Lather as they are both disrupted drone.

Record Review //
"The Pact"
(Dangerbird Records) // //

One of the things which bothers me about music is time.   You sit there, at your laptop, at the end of 2018, maybe in late November, and you're so proud of yourself because you've put together a list of your Top X Albums of 2018.   I used to be against such lists and then last year I made one.   Boy did that come back to bite me in the ass.   Part of writing such a list is feeling like you've considered all of your options and yet, here I sit, several months into 2019 and only really aware of this amazing album called "The Pact" by Slothrust now.   What could I possibly have been doing late last year that caused this one to slip by me, I have no idea, but I am disappointed I am not reviewing it until now.  (Though in, like, five years this paragraph will be mostly meaningless, right?)

There's something about making a great rock album.   It's not quite that you have to find the perfect formula ("The ballad goes in the 8 spot!") or combination of songs, it's more of a state of mind.    From the first note to the last, you want people to know that this is your sound, this is what you're playing for the world to hear and if someone doesn't like it that's too bad.    "The Pact" opens up with this unique rock song called "Double Down" which is about doing what you want and it just sets the tone.   Lines like "I chill by myself" make me feel like that Highasakite song "I Call Bullshit" only this makes me want to go outside more somehow.   With the doo doot doo's and whistling in the chorus there is a sense of Joan Jett right away; this album is just badass from the first note.

"Peach" is the second song which has this glorious dreamy quality to it but yet the word combinations feel random at times.   I mean, they all seem deliberate, sure, and they make sense within the context of the song but it's not the way songs are traditionally structured with their lyrics (aka The Story of Slothrust)  The song really takes that feeling of nostalgia, of remembering, and puts a sound to it.    This blissed out, upbeat feeling like you're in the clouds will likely not leave you prepared for the next song, "Planetarium", but I don't know if anything could prepare you for such a song.

Distorted guitar notes drop in like Black Sabbath and then we're going a hundred miles an hour.    There is an essence of grunge to this, perhaps some era of Nirvana, but just the way the distortion opens up and is played so fast is something you don't hear as much these days within rock music that also can just feel as big as "The Pact" does.  The chorus sings: "Have you ever faked sick before / Cause I'm faking it right now" and that can just be taken so many different ways from remembering days you didn't go to school and stayed home "sick" to being sick and faking it in real life with other people (Such as me when I have to go outside)   For the record though, planetariums are cool.

Through the guitar solos come "blah blah blah" sounds to keep the music going and, yeah, this is not something you hear every day and it's one of the best songs you'll likely hear in the 21st Century.    "Walk Away" has this great melody and I get tongue-twisted still trying to sing along with:"But I can't so I don't and I won't walk away" which is probably why I'm not a singer.     "Birthday Cake" is an acoustic number with dark lyrics, as it starts off about lying about wanting to die (There's a "If I'm lying I'm dying" line to be made here somewhere but I can't find it) and "For Robin" has horns, a piano and harmonica at different times.   It's got this pop rock vibe to it as well.

Slower acoustics take us into "The Haunting", which has a fitting title, and it reminds me a bit of Cowboy Junkies.   At first, "New Red Pants" can start off sounding like a Bon Jovi western but it eventually kicks into this heavy distortion and I enjoy the line:  "I'm not into romance / I'm into blood"   "Fever Doggs" has that slacker distortion at first, like Wheatus, but then it kicks in heavy and the lines "Always bad / never good" break down wild and just turns into this screaming/repeating "never good".    I'm not entirely sure how Leah Wellbaum manages that one, but it is truly something which needs to be heard and makes her an extraordinary human being as well.

"On My Mind" somehow comes out like this Sinead O'Connor ballad and then the sax even kicks in with a solo.    "Some Kind Of Cowgirl" has these big steel drums and of course I pull out the lines "I think bad things / I host bad thoughts" and "I'm sorry for my jokes about dying / I said that I'm not afraid but I'm lying / And now I feel lonelier than I did before"   The album closes with a song full of guitar notes called "Travel Bug" and this is one of those essential albums I feel like everyone needs to hear at least once in their life but if you're anything like me you'll be listening to this one every day.

CD Review //
"Ape Dog Wars Chide the Stem Toil -
a deconstruction
by Whettman Chelmets"
(Philip K. Discs)

$10 //
Edition of 20 // //

When I think of remixes, I think of an artist taking an existing song by another artist (Hey, someone might actually want to remix themselves) and then putting beats and other electronics behind it to make it a slightly different version of its former self.    How this is different from what this album refers to as a deconstruction by Whettman Chelmets is simply because if you've listened to the source material by QOHELETH and then listen to this they are not as similar as you would expect in a typical remix sense.   This begs the question as to whether or not this is still QOHELETH music in a way or a Whettman Chelmets creation, as it seems to be on that fine line between the two.

Screeches like sirens and bombs drop on the first song and there are these big beats to follow up on the next one.   Definite unce unce vibes as this gets quite industrial.    Driving synths and this remains dark somehow which has post apocalyptic written all over it.   It reminds me of the soundtrack to "Lost Highway", which I feel some people might only know for certain songs but I assure you is quality through and through.    As it almost sounds like laughing it turns into a static hiss like a robotic snake on "Chess Wizard".

A slow build into "Sikorsky" (which is here in Connecticut, shout out Brakettes, R.I.P. Bluefish) and this is just desolate... lost in the static desert.   How many letters do you have to shift around to go from "desolate" to "static desert"?    There are tones which create melodies within the static as well.    A song like "Thiokol" feels slippery to me and I'm not sure why because I've possibly never used that particular adjective to describe sound before.

"LMC Snowcat" closes out the CD with elements of punk and metal.   This has chosen to go out with a bang.   I can dig it.   If I was going to paint this as a movie (and it certainly should have visuals to go with the audio) I think it would be something like "Mad Max" just because that's a movie that had a comeback recently so people will know what it is-- they'll be more familiar with it on the whole-- but if I had to choose personally I'd go with "Tank Girl" because I love that movie so much more.   One day I'm going to quit writing about music and review it using short films.   Until I buy a decent video camera though, you'll have to crank this unique piece of music out of your speakers and create the images within your own mind.

Music Review //
Jessica Pavone
"In the Action" //

"In the Action" begins with strings, which sound like they could be coming through in drones but they are in this pattern where they sort of repeat- they start over- often enough that it doesn't fully become drone but it's close.   They grow louder and sharper, then quieter and darker.    This music makes me wish I had a background in animation so I could create something to go with this song.   It'd be in black and white and feel like the old cartoons that existed before I was born but it'd be so much fun.

The back and forth of the strings can sound either like it's singing or bring about the emergency feelings of an ambulance or some other such vehicle.   It gets faster paced and I can't help but think of it as being like something out of a country song, like a fiddle, even though I know it's leaning more towards the classical side of things.    The way this seemingly feels like a classical music showcase but for some reason also feels like that little bit of country is what makes it unique because that might be simply because of my (somewhat country-like) upbringing.

On the second song there are strings delicately plucked while these darker synth sounds fade in and out.    It's the balance between something lighter and heavier, the light and darkness, and just the idea that these notes are being hit up top and then they resonate down lower creating some kind of cause and effect is one of those grand musical ventures I feel we all need to explore.    It's also not something I feel like I hear enough but perhaps not everyone can accomplish it in such a way as Jessica Pavone does here.

"Look Out - Look Out - look Out" begins like the sound of a motor revving up, a car starting perhaps.    It begins to sound as if it will fade, crackling in and out.    This turns into a more sonic drive and it feels like the car is finally on the track and racing, or I don't know, maybe we're doing something else with this power like cutting the lawn or fighting space monsters.    Eventually it goes back to that original motor sound and then just sort of buzzes its way out until the end.

The titular track is what closes out this EP and it begins with strings like the way we started, which remind me of something a little country.   Is anyone else hearing that fiddle in here or is it just because my grandpa was a farmer?   There is a little bit of static behind this, but it just continues that rhythm which may or may not provide you with fond memories of the farm.    It can begin to feel sad by the end, but it also has that feeling where the strings, the distortion and everything just come together as one.    All those feelings at the conclusion just makes me want to start this one again.

Music Review //
Greg Jacquin
"Clocks Slow Down" //

"Clocks Slow Down" is an album that can play a trick on your ears the first time that you hear it.    When it first starts, and the first time I listened to it, I thought it had this Americana sound to it.    Through the first few songs, it had this feeling of country but not like Garth Brooks.   It was a little of that Wallflowers / Eels feelings as the organs came in.   There is a sadness, a desperation to the melodies as well, which falls in line with it being country.   The third song- "Coffee" has strings and it sounds closer to Tom Waits and Bob Dylan and then as the pianos come out on the fourth song all I can hear is the blues.

It's odd how I had this pegged, at first, as being Americana/country and then after listening to it all the way through a few times, I don't hear those sounds as much anymore.  I mostly just hear this as some sort of blues rock.   "Higher, for example, has that Tom Petty / Eric Clapton feel to it.   Overall, for reasons I can't quite explain, I also get a strong Counting Crows vibe from Greg Jacquin.    It may or may not be because of the song called "Time Again". 

The guitar work on this is exceptional.   It's not one of those albums where the guitar shows off with a lot of solos, like "Look what I can do!" but it is back there adding to the songs and it has its part to play but it does it so well-- it's not easy to have the guitar become one with the other instruments yet be so powerful.   It's a balance not everyone can find but you will hear it in these songs and so you should take some time to appreciate it.

Many of the songs have lyrics based on the titles, so if you read the title you can kind of gather what the song might be about.   "Story Policy", for example, does have a line in it about how if you break it you buy it.    "Barry" is a song about Obama and not to offend anyone who has done this, but I'd so much rather hear someone sing about how much they miss Barry, as this song does, than hear songs that are anti-Trump.   It's more about casting positivity I suppose and not giving that other guy attention since he seems to seek it more than anything else.

"Jim Carrey" is a dreamy song that says "I want to marry / Someone like Jim Carrey".   I understand how one might think that it'd be great to marry Jim Carrey- and I'm not denying anyone that- but one of the reasons for this is that Jim Carrey is funny, which is true, but sometimes these funny people are also the most troubled.   I call into point Robin Williams.  I worked at this job once and a woman told me she liked me because I was always smiling.  I didn't realize until that moment in my life it was because I use that as a mask, you know, appear fine on the outside so no one knows what's going on inside.    Maybe it's not every comedian, but tread with caution.

The song called "Jim Carrey" is followed by a song called "Hedgehog", which is not about Sonic (perhaps the most famous hedgehog) but I do find the fact that these two songs are back to back interesting because of that Sonic the Hedgehog movie they're making and, yes, Jim Carrey is in it.   "Highways & Hotels" ends this album with that feeling of being on the road, like Bob Seger, and this is just one of the albums which can find the beauty in every day life (and Jim Carrey) and so if you live life every day you will be able to relate to this.   The sound seemed to fool me, but I still enjoy it and think it's not overly any genre but  that combination of a few which will appeal to most everybody.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Movie Review //

Any true fan of horror films will eventually end up down a path which leads them to J-Horror and thus they will inevitably find the movie "Audition".    When I first saw this movie it was because I got big into horror films and started watching the originals for movies like "The Grudge" and "The Ring", which brought out more Japanese horror, which always will lead you back to Takashi Miike.   But, I really feel like Takashi Miike is one of those special talents who isn't a director in a world of horror films but rather a genre unto himself, every film he's done meant to be dissected and studied to no end.

I must preface this review by saying that I was much more excited to dive into the bonus content and read the booklet that came with this than I was to actually watch "Audition" again.   In no way "Audition" a bad film by any means, it's just a... special film that I can only watch at certain times.   If I am eating, for example, I will not be watching "Audition".   And I think that's a testament to the film as well.   I've seen it maybe a dozen or so times before- mainly because whenever I meet someone new who likes horror I will tell them about it and that makes me want to rewatch it or whenever some supposedly big horror movie comes out I'll watch "Audition" instead.

Though I don't like to use cliches, I find myself using them often and in this case I feel like when I watched horror movies and was really under that mindset of "I have to see everything I possibly can", I felt like I watched a certain amount of films (too many) before I got to "Audition", which kind of made everything I watched after it feel different than what I watched before it.   In a way, this movie opened a sort of Pandora's Box for me, where watching movies has never been the same since.   It really is a life-changing film in so many ways.

A lot of what can be said about the film has already been said.   It's already reached that status where it's less of a legend and more legendary now.   I first watched "Audition" back in the early 2000's, closer to when it actually came out, and it was not easy to find back then but in 2019 it seems movies are just so much easier to come by-- you pay someone four dollars and stream it.   "Audition" is that type of movie where everyone has seen it who should probably see it and those who think, "What? She eats her own puke? Why would I want to see that?" haven't seen it and won't.    Though, as new lovers of film are constantly growing up, it is my hope that this Blu-Ray release makes it easier for them to access this film.

So, if you're like me you love this film but are like, "Hey, I own the DVD" and don't know why you should have this Blu-Ray as well until you see all the bonus features about it.   I love knowledge, so having this information to go along with "Audition" is well worth it for me.   Takashi Miike does commentary, so does Tom Mes (who is a biographer of Miike), there is a Miike introduction, a brand new interview with Miike and other content which doesn't involve Miike directly but this has more than enough bonus content to satisfy the most hardcore of movie lovers because that's me.