Sunday, December 2, 2018

November 2018 Most Listened to But Not Written About Releases

All Get Out "No Bouquet" (Equal Vision Records)

Aviator Stash "Prescribed"

BlackieBlueBird "Ghost River" (afmusic)

Cal Raasay "Rona"

cupcakKe "Eden"

DEW "dew-stortion // dew-morgen" (pogorecords)

Endless Melancholy "Fragments Of Scattered Whispers"

Free Love "Luxury Hits" (Full Ashram)

Gorgeous Bully "Closure"

Heckadecimal "Murder Tape" (Great Circles)

ICHABOD WOLF "Carry On, Crow" (The Adult Teeth Recording Company)

Marley Carroll "Flight Patterns" (Loci Records)

Meister Lampe "Low Key"

Molly Hanmer & The Midnight Tokers "Stuck in a Daydream"

PC Worship "Future Phase" (Northern Spy Records)

Planet B "Planet B" (Ipecac Recordings)

Reliant Tom "Bad Orange" (Diversion Records)

Rick Rude "Verb for Dreaming" (Exploding In Sound)

SAVAK "Beg Your Pardon" (Ernest Jenning Record Co.)

Shit and Shine "Bad Vibes" (Rocket Recordings)

Spud Cannon "Squeeze"

TSVI "Inner Worlds" (Nervous Horizon)

Tunnelvisions "The Celestial Ritual" (Atomnation)

Wild Child "1996 (EP)"

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Cassette Review //

$6 //
Edition of 10 // //

This starts with that classic series of beeps I say every cassette should still have.   Guitars take us into drum machine beats and this has a definite "Double Dragon" feel to it, some sort of video game right down to the blips and bloops.    It speeds up and makes me feel like we're in race against the clock.   You know how sometimes video games used to be timed and when you had less than a minute to finish the level the sound would grow faster, more intense?   That really feels like this here.  I bet I could find this game on my old Sega Genesis system.

We switch now to a softer song, slower beats like Phil Collins and though there are some vocals it also sounds like more could come through at any time.   It is definitely dreamy as well.    This goes into a faster beat now, one with tones which are neither really electronic nor video game so I'm somewhat confused by them.    This feels like it skips as it twists, turns and then eventually reaches its end.    The next track comes out a bit darker and reminds me of "Rock Me Amadeus", but also has this sound all its own before the sax comes out.

Dreamy tones now with those slowed down vocals, like the batteries in my Walkman are dying.   Smoother now, the next song comes through with vocals but there only seem to be little bursts of the vocals scattered here and there, they don't follow the typical pattern of verses and a chorus.    The drums (or something) are very fast and choppy as a horn comes in to give off this fast paced jazz feel.   Remember that group Us3?   This feels a little bit like that.    This slows into an almost crawl, a slower western feel somehow, like we're traveling across the desert but yet it still has a strong electronic sense to it.

Horns (or tones like horns) come in and it feels like we're on some kind of drug-infused trip.   The slowed down vocals now really do make it feel as if we are stranded somewhere and tripping because it's like everything is blurry, no longer are we a part of real life.   Guitar notes come through with spoken words now (still slowed) and it feels like we're on some Willy Wonka type adventure but instead of that boat going through the tunnel from Point A to Point B, it's going all over the place, every which way like the elevator at the end of the movie.

Drums return in a punk rock way and this keeps going from being slower, more like we're tripping, to something much faster and closer to an electro-punk feel.   Though this particular song now does have a straight up punk sound to it.   Pianos sing "So much to say" and I'm reminded of some grand rock song, such as something you'd hear by The Beatles.    There is another set of beeps before the cassette ends, and I suppose that is to let you know that the side is coming to an end though I'm not sure I've heard that on cassettes in my younger years.

Record Review //
Linen Closet "Linen Closet"

$18 // //

Right away, from the first song "The Quick", Linen Closet brings out a lot of thoughts for me.    What starts so delicately, the plucks of strings so soft and gentle, begins to have horns (I believe a trumpet at least) as it goes on which sounds like that one indie band that kind of made it big but was also on the soundtrack to that one movie everyone has seen.  I want to say Spoon but that can't be right, can it?  Elements of Modest Mouse and strings like The Verve as well, there is a darker sense to the vocals which kind of remind me of Dead Western as well.

With starts and stops on the next song- "Act IV"- it can begin to feel as if the drums/bass, guitar and vocals are not all on the same page but somehow Linen Closet makes it work.   This has that rock sound that I found in the early '00's and not many bands have been able to recreate since.   Bands like Time Spent Driving and Eleventeen come to mind, which are bands people may or may not know but if they don't they certainly should (and maybe Linen Closet can revive some interest in those artists as well)

This can also be a little darker, somewhere between the Smoking Popes and Blue October is a good place to think of this.   Though if you want to be specific about Blue October on this comparison, I would say it falls somewhere before their album "Foiled" but also feels like something you might hear on "Approaching Normal", so do with that what you will, but yes, there is a rather specific sound in all of this dark rock for sure.   It can be dreamy, enlightening as it seems to grow with this rebirth and new sense of purpose, but at the same time it can be just as dark which makes me want to put a darkwave tag on it.

"Warning Sign" is a song which really reminds me of Blue October, though it later on can also bring about thoughts of The Honor System, and it should be noted for its lyrics, as all of these songs really should.   I particularly enjoy the lines which include the title: "Don't take this as a warning sign / Before you I was doing fine" but this is one of the most powerful songs on the entire album and a good enough reason as any for you to listen to this music, specifically on vinyl because it manages to fill a certain rock need in that aspect as well.

"Crossing the Bridge" has this combination of talking and singing within its life advice, as it seems to rock out the most when it reaches the end, and much like the bands I have previously named in this review, I don't think there is a song on here that is my favorite in the sense that each song seems to serve its own unique purpose to the album and while sometimes you might be able to take it one at a time it should be best enjoyed in its entirety.   Emotionally though this album can be a lot, like All Get Out, so you also need to choose your time when listening to it wisely.

Music Review //
max lee
"Colors of Noise" //

The music of Max Lee (who I will give the big letters to make it easier to see in this review) is not something which can be easily classified, though it does fall under that general banner of rock music.   I feel like in the 1980's and into the 1990's I was listening to certain bands on the radio, but I didn't really get into "rock music" until the mid-1990's when grunge came about.   I had, obviously, heard certain rock n roll bands of the past (like The Beatles) on the radio but never really dove into them until my later years.   While this seems highly unlikely, I feel like the music of Max Lee is a reflection of my history with rock music.

On one hand, these songs take me back to the 1990's.   They can make me think of something such as 1000 Mona Lisas or Dandelion, in the way that they feel like they maybe had one hit single on the radio but then the rest of the songs on the album are better than that song.  I still don't think there's a name for this effect but it's somewhere between Blind Melon and Flaming Lips, mainly because Blind Melon no longer makes music like a lot of the bands that still love from the 1990's and F-Lips continue to make the music and I continue to listen to it.

Other elements from the 1990's and early 2000's come into play as well though.   Unwritten Law is an artist I hear in here somewhat.   Local H and even Stroke 9 have some influence, from what I can hear.   It's that distorted rock n roll that I can't quite put my finger on and it can also take on two different faces, the first being this grunge type of face.   At the same time as that, there are songs which just sound dark, somewhat electronic and have vocals which remind me of Trent Reznor.   Yes, at times I am reminded of Nine Inch Nails (and that varies from "Head Like A Hole" to "The Fragile") as well.

I had to really listen to this one though, really let it sink in, so I could find out what I was listening to and what it reminded me of most.   At times, there are electronic sounding beats within the intense rock music.   This, to me, is some sort of combination of The Lyndsay Diaries and Escape The Fate, specifically the song "Celler Door" by ETF.   It's that feeling of this sounding like Linkin Park or Stabbing Westward, but not them just something close you can't quite put your finger on and then also that emo quality of a band like Escape The Fate as well.

The song "History" is when you will hear these two faces of Max Lee join forces.   While the songs can feel trippy, there is a certain softer electronic beat to "could be" before it just breaks down into madness.   "The Key" is this soulful rock song that just belts it out and if I had to put my finger on a song that would've been a radio hit back in 1996 that is the song I would choose.    "C U Again" can get screamy while "painted eyes" gets slower and darker.    "never going back" is an acoustic number that makes me want to hear this album Unplugged.

Once you are comfortable with the way the music can seemingly mess with your mind, combining such electronics with rock, you can really listen to the lyrics as well and fully appreciate this album.   "It's a goddamn joke / I am not alone" particularly strikes a chord with me, as I feel most artists would rather admit to being alone so it's a nice change of pace.   These songs can also be short in length (Though they all aren't) and this just makes me want to go back through and listen to them all again. 

Cassette Review //
waterfront dining
"Adventures in Joyland"
(My Pet Flamingo)

Sold Out //
Edition of 30 // //

It feels like car tires screeching to a halt as we get into big synth, beats and keys, something totally out of the 1980's/1990's in that "Miami Vice"/"Beverly Hills Cop" way.    The vocals, even the words which they are singing, make me think of something from my youth with a Walkman and foam-covered headphones firmly in place.   This is certainly the soundtrack to a movie which has those same ideas between "Rocky" and "The Goonies".    Elements of this even make me think of it as being synthpop.

This takes us into a song which has some soul to it, as it feels more like R&B than pop.    It definitely reminds me of something which could've originally be on cassette and I'm thinking along the same lines as NKOTB.     This feels like it's from a different time of music, back when people knew who Tony! Toni! TonĂ©! were.      Smooth grooves continue as the words "Now this is deja vu" are spoken.   In many ways, this cassette feels like some long lost classic from 1990 or 1991, finally being unearthed for the first time here.

Funky bass now makes me feel like we're in that era where television was ruled by "In Living Color", a simpler time when I was a lot happier.     This fun, instrumental song takes the first side to an end.   On the flip side, we have a song that could definitely have been on a soundtrack in the 1990's with similar artists in that R&B/soul genre, somewhat like Bell Biv Devoe.    This is also just a really great love song.    They don't make songs like this anymore either because the current crop of love songs are just not what I'm into and R&B seems to have taken a backseat in the world of pop as well.

There are even these spoken word bits within the singing and it reminds me of Boyz II Men.    A contemporary feel exists to this though, as if someone was trying to organically recreate the music from some thirty odd years ago but with the technology we have today it is something which can be done as there are keyboards and everything still available to get the PM Dawn sound.    The biggest thing is that, back in the 1980's and 1990's I was into so much music with the radio and Mtv that if this sounded like someone else I'd easily pick it out, but it has this combination of many of those artists while standing on its own.

Does anyone else remember Color Me Badd?  Why is this cassette making me think of them?   But that's the exact type of time frame, where you would hear a song on the radio and see the music video on Mtv (or later VH1) that this cassette reminds me of and I love that waterfront dining is doing this because it's not really being done anymore. 

Movie Review //
The Other Side of the Wind
(Netflix Original)

People like to say a lot of negative things about Netflix and I'm not always their biggest supporter but recently they seem to have really made it worthwhile to pay them eleven dollars a month.   There are certain series I continue watching through them (Bojack Horseman, the Marvel series, etc) and they often debut new original shows which look appealing as well.    This review is to serve, on some level, as a "Why it's okay to be paying Netflix" type of column and as I write more about films and shows exclusive to Netflix I hope you think of them in the same way.

Orson Welles, who is perhaps best known for creating "Citizen Kane", is one of my favorite directors and when I was heavily into movies between the years 2000 and 2010, I went out of my way to see all of his films because I went through a classics phase.  This movie is... It is not easily described without seeing it, and yet it can be somewhat easily described by what it is (how it came to be) and to simply use genre words I suppose.  For one thing, this movie was shot in the 1970's and it has that look of a 1970's movie to it.   If you think about the culture and society at that time, this film fits right in.

If you didn't know by now, "The Other Side of the Wind" is the final, unfinished film by Orson Welles.   I guess the best way to think of it in simple terms is that he shot a whole bunch of footage but didn't get around to piecing it together to form the film, which is essentially what was done now to bring this lost gem to light in 2018.   So I believe that this is still a lot of the voice, the vision, of Orson Welles and it hasn't been tampered with that much by modern hands or anyone else along the way.    But it's also not like Brandon Lee in "The Crow" because this sat around waiting for funding for decades.  The majority of the people involved with the making of this film are long since dead.

And wouldn't it be something for this film to win an Oscar?  It is, hands down, one of my favorite films of 2018.   It's a subtle reminder that Hollywood isn't what it used to be when Orson Welles and John Huston are back on top of it.   You feel like (at least I feel like) there should be advances in Hollywood to the point where someone coming in some- what, almost fifty years later- should feel obsolete.   If you had an idea for automobile in 1979 and it was just now seeing the light of day, no one would buy it because it would likely be too expensive and cars have just progressed, evolved over time.   Why hasn't film done the same?

"The Other Side of the Wind" follows around a director who is obviously Orson Welles but is played by John Huston and it's a wild ride to say the least.    Most of this movie serves as a documentary in that way, not just because it is Orson Welles telling his story through the character of Jake Hannaford but because it is literally people interviewing the director and following him around with cameras.   Film creates this wall between what is happening in the movie and what is real and "The Other Side of the Wind" has at least fifteen walls and will leave you speculating at every scene of what is real and what is part of the movie within the movie within the movie.

To think of this as being set in any time other than the 1970's is also a bit strange as it is an odd movie.   I like odd movies, don't get me wrong, but if you're looking for documentary of sorts that is a simple Point A to Point B type of film then this is not for you.   "The Other Side of the WInd" is a trip.   It's more like "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" than "Spinal Tap" but it remains one of the most intriguing and artistically fulfilling films I have ever seen.   Naturally, this is also my favorite line from the film:

"Gypsies, jazz and mariachis, all for a bunch of creeps who only want to listen to themselves talking"

Monday, November 26, 2018

Cassette Review //
Period Bomb
"Lost and Found"
(Already Dead Tapes)

$6 //
Edition of 100 // //

I've listened to "Lost & Found" about fifteen times now.   I even did that thing where I clicked to read more on the Bandcamp page for it (Shout out David Drucker) and found out that these songs are mostly "demos", but you wouldn't know it by listening to them.   It's weird to think of this alignment of songs as anything but intentional.   But I suppose that is the story of Period Bomb though, no?  It's that idea of making it up as you go along, but the end result just somehow makes it feel like it was your intent all along.

"Lost & Found" is not an easy cassette to digest.   If you've been listening to Period Bomb (like I've been telling you too) then you will immediately fall in love with this cassette.   Still, there is a lot going on within a lot of these songs so it can be pleasing on the surface but sometimes you have to hear certain parts enough times to full grasp the weight of them.   And I think one of the most remarkable parts of that is that often times these songs can be less than a minute but you still can't fathom everything going on in that short a time.

There is an audio clip of someone peeing, an angry voice mail message about "Where do you get off dumping your period blood on stage?" and even an anti-drugs PSA (of sorts) called "NO DRUGS".    Then you can even break it down into something simple as a line like: "My bubblegum in your hair".   I think that represents this cassette in such a large way because the act of putting gum into someone's hair is simple, a baby could do it and it takes mere seconds.   But the results, the trying to get it out of your hair and all of that which come to follow are much more complex and not for a baby to attempt.   This, in many ways, is how I feel about the music of Period Bomb (though a baby couldn't play guitar, obviously)

At times "Lost & Found" is a trippy ride into another realm.   Other times, it's this glimpse behind the scenes, a reminder that this music is made by humans, as something like the line "Do you wanna do it one more time knowing that--" cuts off at the end of a song.   And then you have a song like "Rot w/U" which is loud, screamy and reminds me of certain songs by Vandals but it also is about smoking pot.    It's not easy to put into words but it's that punk rock feeling where you felt like punk rock was being played fast because they didn't know what they were doing and Period Bomb feels like they know what they are doing but still mimic that idea somehow.

This cassette is experimental as hell.   Phone conversations about calling the van smelly and sometimes we just drop off into this instrumental sea that makes me want to do drugs but I can still appreciate while riding the bus or walking through downtown in the cold, watching people walk by in short sleeves and wondering how they're not freezing.   The song "Hot Stuff" is also on here, which was also perhaps your first introduction to Period Bomb via Already Dead, you know, if you haven't listened to them on Crass Lips like I told you to do oh so long ago.

Many artists take pieces of genres to form their own sound.  To me, Period Bomb somehow passed all of that and just skipped right ahead to forming their own genre.   You could write a book about "Lost & Found", a chapter about each song, and it would be even more substantial in five or ten years when you can point to other artists and say "This band took their whole sound from this one Period Bomb song".   You'll hear what you want in here, depending upon who influenced you, but I'm at the point now where all I hear is Period Bomb and there is no other.