Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Cassette Review //
Pink Pots
"Adolescence Jacket"

$5 //
https://pinkpots.bandcamp.com/album/adolescence-jacket //

The sound of Pink Pots is one of rock but there a different level of influences in here which make this sound the way that it does.   Right away, there are these guitar notes and then even though there is synth there is also this rowdy part to the second song and so just by listening to these first two songs I could give you a broad sense of this sounding like something between Blink 182 and Rise Against.    Granted, there are other elements within here, these just happen to be the most prominent and the comparison points are made because I think most people will know those names.

On the third song we have this dreamy, Buddy Holly vibe that also brings out some hints of The Hold Steady.   I love how it gets amplified, like everyone is screaming, and then the drums just crash in that way they do.   It has a sense of math rock to it in that way, but it isn't entirely math rock just maybe like 15%?   From here, the fourth song goes into some sort of rock combination of The Break, Lucero and Weezer-- which you have to know the exact measurements of each to fully feel it, but once you hear it, you'll know.   This is just a good, clean rock song.

As you hear the title sung in "Something's Not Working", you can also be reminded of something from that grunge era ala Mudhoney, but I'm not sure it would be entirely in that genre either.   Oddly enough, "The City In Shambles" opens up sounding a bit like Pearl Jam, with an acoustic guitar and deep vocals.   A banjo comes in (I think) and this has a slower feel to it, but it also just feels like it's brooding, which is a nice quality to have in music in general-- that calm before the storm, that don't mess with me you don't know what I'm capable of idea.   A little bit of Murder by Death even. 

As the verse comes in:

"And I'm just tired of waiting all of my life for something to happen
But change doesn't seem to occur relatively soon
We're all still clinging to past social norms and traditions
Whether it's connotated to be bad or good"

there is this thrash element, which reminds me more of the math rock side of things (like I Kill Giants, particularly) and it just keeps on like that, as I believe this song to be a post-apocalyptic ballad (Especially if you really think about the verse before that, the one that starts with "Yeah I guess I'm judging every one of you") 

On the flip side we open up with a song that has some keys and can be melodic but at the same time there is some screaming.   When it isn't with the screams though it reminds me a bit of Modern Baseball but it's just one of those songs that does what I love most about rock and isn't afraid to get loud even when it isn't full of screams.    It breaks down a little bit too and reminds me of something out of "Pretty In Pink" but could also be more closely related to The Killers before the screaming returns.   This song does resemble post rock more than other parts of Side A as well.     Violins bring that song to an end as well.

The song "Lebanon, Pennsylvania" is somewhat disturbing as it has a dark rock sound with the lines:

"It's been getting a little too risky
But I've thought about it a many times
To lead myself on a trail
That leads to far away from here
And never really return"

Obviously you can think of this as wishing for a change of location, and though I think most people don't always seem to enjoy where they live I've found (living in Connecticut) that you can be miserable anywhere, but I also feel like this has that deeper sense of leaving and never coming back.   If you wish to read deeper into it, there could be thoughts of a suicide note no?  Is it just me and my general mindset reading too much into it?   Who knows.   Perspective is such a lovely thing.

"To Live and Die in Suburbia" is one of the first songs on the cassette which made me really go "Yeah! That's it!  This sounds like The Honor System" and it really kind of does, but that's not a bad thing because we need more bands that sound this good.    "Death Song" is instrumental and ends with a audio message before going into the final track which has somewhat of a new wave feel to it, just showing that this cassette is diverse in its delivery of rock music but stays true to the roots and is something you can appreciate from start to finish.

Movie Review //
Lady Street Fighter (BLU-RAY)
(MVD Entertainment Group)

$29.95 //
https://mvdshop.com/products/lady-street-fighter-blu-ray //

Remember when Sonny Chiba made a series of movies based around the title "The Street Fighter"?  Yeah, "Lady Street Fighter" is in no way related to those.  "Lady Street Fighter" is the type of movie film students should study and have to write papers about, dictating scene by scene what went wrong with this film.   None of it seems to make any sense, the actors can't act and, oh yeah, this is supposed to be a revenge film but there is barely any action in it and the fight scenes that are within are so slow and fake they're simply painful to watch.

Within twelve minutes we've seen two different sets of boobs and one is of Linda Allen's sister, who is murdered for whatever reason.  So Linda Allen goes to find those who murdered her sister and avenge her death but... you wouldn't know it by watching this movie.   Some guys do business at a strip club because why not and that has us seeing our second set of boobs in the film and it seems like there are more boobs in here than actors, which, I know, isn't a difficult task seeing as how I struggle to define the acting in this movie.

We also see the "star" Linda Allen naked as she is simply changing her clothes to shower.   Between a toga party and some creepy guy with a foot fetish, this turns into a scenario where someone dies and then this girl who is an adult but has the mentality of a five year old calls the police.   From here, it all spirals out of control.   Linda Allen and this guy go on the run from the police and their car runs out of gas.   Yes, really.   So, they get out and begin to run on foot.   This guy then explains to Linda Allen what a nooner is and it's a really cringeworthy scene.

How they go from running from the cops to this guy wanting to have sex with her I have no idea, but that's for the interns to figure out.    They only end up on the beach together and then she reveals she has some combination he wants.  She gives him the paper, he won't give it back, so they fight.   I kid you not- he turns his back saying she won't hit him but she hits him anyway and none of the characters in this movie are very smart.   I'm questioning how smart I am for watching it.

I'm not sure even MST3K would be brave enough to take on this movie.   Poorly acted, edited to jump from scene to scene without really making sense and seemingly no real plot to speak of (and for a revenge flick there isn't even a lot of revenge) but for some reason I really enjoy the music in it.  That's one redeemable quality.   Though I feel like this is one of those movies everyone needs to see just so they can say "Well, that didn't make any fucking sense" and use it as a comparison point for every other movie they see/have seen.

If one hour and twelve minutes isn't enough "Lady Street Fighter" ~action~ for you, there is the sequel on this Blu-Ray as a bonus feature and that's another hour and a half of something I'm not sure you're brave enough to watch.    This isn't "Sister Street Fighter" but worse movies have been made and, yeah, it's an experience to watch "Lady Street Fighter".

REtroSPECT Review #1 //
Sig Transit Gloria
"Sig Transit Gloria"
(Johann's Face Records)

Available To Stream Here:
https://sigtransit.bandcamp.com/album/sig-transit-gloria //

I first started writing about music in 1999 and as this self-titled album from Sig Transit Gloria came out in 2000 it was among the first promo CDs I would have received back then.   You have to understand that at the time, Napster was going under and there was no real social networks like there are now and obviously no Bandcamp or anything along those lines.   You heard about bands by name, but rarely by sound unless you saw them live.   Music for review was all sent through the mail and it was usually on CD.

Taking that leap from what was on the radio and sometimes letting those bands lead me down a rabbithole to what I was able to listen to because I was writing about music was just this huge transition in my life-- it changed the way I heard music because writing about music really afforded me the opportunity to listen to these songs, to these artists, I would likely have never otherwise heard.   One of them was Sig Transit Gloria and I actually used to have a poster for the cover of this album on my wall in my bedroom at my parents' house.

Typically when music is fast paced (that borderline punk) and has keys I think of Sig Transit Gloria still and I will also use them as a point of comparison in many of my reviews since starting Raised by Gypsies.   The early 2000's was a different time when bands like Schatzi and Veronica were creating this scene where there was punk rock but filled with keys as well.   It was just so raw and I loved everything about it; I still do.   I wish more artists had this just passion pouring out through their songs these days like Sig Transit Gloria had.

"Thank You" is a song that is a great example of how the music I listened to sounded in the year 2000.   It was punk.   There were parts of pop.   But it was just so wild.   In some ways, I listened to a lot of pop growing up because I think everyone does and then I was listening to music on the radio which became grunge and ultimately I found punk, so to have that comfort of pop music where you can sing along but also that unchained energy of punk made this so appealing to me.   It also feels like it paved the way for me to listen to a lot of the artists I listen to still to this day.

In time, I hope to find more of these hidden gems of music and write about them- I already have some in mind and one of them is "Young Love Gone Terribly Wrong" by The Beans, which oddly enough, I feel like some sort of tour with The Beans and Sig Transit Gloria playing together back in the early '00's would've been great.    It just amazes me how these songs hold up over time as well.  I feel like a lot of music I listened to in the early '00's I would look back on now and kind of cringe (so much emo) but this is something I'd buy a re-release of on vinyl without hesitation.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Cassette Review //
Daniel Ruiz
"Stories from a Whiskey-soaked Mind"
(Custom Made Music)

€5 //
Edition of 25 //
https://danielruiz.bandcamp.com/album/stories-from-a-whiskey-soaked-mind //
http://custommademusicva.com/release/stories-from-a-whiskey%E2%80%8B-%E2%80%8Bsoaked-mind-cassette/ //

When you first press play on "Stories from a Whiskey-soaked Mind" you'll hear these dreamy guitars that take me back to rock n roll from the 1950's mixed with something modern like Ben Kweller (only, you know, maybe a Ben Kweller album from ten or fifteen years ago, so not too modern)   You'll even hear lyrics about whiskey in the first song, which is refreshing because it feels like, in that sense, that this cassette has a theme picked out for it and it follows it.   It just frustrates me when artists seem to find a cool title for an album or a song but then don't build on it.

With some organs I'm thinking this could also be something from the Empire Records soundtrack and that goes from start to finish, same with the dreamy aspect of it.    "Meet the Crimson Woman at the Dawn Cafe" has a little bit of an Ed Schrader feel going on, with the guitar riffs, but then it also can get trippy and it begins to feel like The Doors as well.     From this point on, it does carry that Doors vibe still, especially on "Goodbye Letter from a Loved One", which has that marching quality about it-- it makes me think of "People Are Strange" but it's a longer song so i appreciate feeling like Daniel Ruiz is taking the time to do something more with this concept.

Granted, I am aware that The Doors also have a song called "Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)" which has parallels with this cassette but I suppose when you are singing about whiskey you take on a certain sound.   I'm not saying this entire cassette is based upon one song by The Doors or even sounds that similar as there are certainly other influences in here as well.   The music is that mix between classic and modern, Two Gallants and Bob Dylan.    By the time we reach the last official song it becomes darker, slower and Daniel Ruiz seems to really have defined a sound which can only be related to the name Daniel Ruiz.

Though not exactly the same, these songs do have stories in them like Soul Asylum explored on "Let Your Dim Light Shine", though with Daniel Ruiz they feel less forced as I've always felt some of those Soul Asylum songs were the way they are simply to rhyme.    But you do want to listen to this one when you are by yourself, perhaps in a deserted area, when it is dark and quiet all around.  I prefer to listen to this at 5:30 in the morning on a Sunday-- the perfect time after most everyone has gone to sleep or are simply not awake yet.    Digest the music, then begin to tackle the lyrics as well.

Cassette Review //
odd person / cool person
"odd world cool world"

$5 //
Edition of 66 //
https://somnaphon.bandcamp.com/album/odd-world-cool-world //

"Odd World", which is the Odd Person side of this cassette, begins with this jangling guitar hook that sounds like we're going to go into something somewhat familiar, perhaps that song by Cage the Elephant about there being no rest for the wicked.    But it also seems to maintain this "Low Rider" type quality, like something from the classic rock days of Traffic.   As it makes these quieter static bursts it feels like we're going into calmer, more delicate string plucks as well.    There is this sense of darkness in the background, like a fog, but the plucks are out there in front of it all.

We dive into this guitar sound next which has percussion in it and it has this work-man vibe to it where it's just like someone hitting the nails on the train tracks or just some sort of mechanism that's turning (the gears inside a clock for example) and they just make these sounds not because of the rhythm or for music but because it is their function.   There are guitar notes which accompany this and I like to think of it as some sort of tool-based symphony but if I call it that it feels like I'm name-dropping the band when in fact I'm referring to things such as hammers and screwdrivers and the such.

This gets into a pretty heavy wood block sound, when it feels like the drumming is acoustic and I can't quite put my finger on what is being used to create it but the strings still persist though this time they sound more like a sitar or something smaller than a guitar but not quite a violin. 

"Cool World" starts with tones which create patterns and fall in pleasant sequences.   Remember when there was that movie "Cool World"?  I love that movie.   This is like floating on the clouds, a series of synths which makes for an enlightened feel.    If you listen to this while meditating I feel like it could serve you well, though even just putting it into your Walkman while, uh, walking around town will give you a new outlook on things as well, I'd imagine, if you live in a city with character such as I do.

As other tones come in though, this does begin to feel warped, as if it's falling off.   It continues in what could be heard in a country in Asia, or for that to be its country of origin that is to say, and then it also has these synths which feel like they blast off into space so it feels like no single country nor universe can contain these sounds.  Then it just sort of cuts off and that's how it all comes to an end.

What I like most about this cassette- and why you should be listening to it- is that on Side A Odd Person creates these sounds with what sounds like mostly guitars but there are other non-traditional sounds placed in as well, while on Side B Cool Person seems to utilize synths and little else.   In that way, they sort of seem like opposites in how they were created.   They also feel like opposites because of how they are presented- Cool Person in an outerspace/future type of sound, Odd Person more organic, down to Earth in its feel, and yet, somehow they have similarities which when you really listen you will discover.

Cassette Review //

$5 //
Edition of 43 //
https://weepwave.bandcamp.com/album/entropy //

Whoever says you can't make fans based on one song is wrong.   Okay, maybe I've said that before.   A lot.   Even recently on Twitter when ranting about someone sending me single songs and wanting me to interview those artists when all they have to show for their craft is... one... song.    But whenever you have a rule (such as "Don't judge a band by one song") there always has to be an exception, right?   WEEP WAVE, in many ways, would be that exception.

When I heard the song "BirdHouse" I immediately feel in love with WEEP WAVE.   It was on SoundCloud, so of course I searched for WEEP WAVE and found them on Bandcamp as well, which brought me back to this cassette from 2017 (it was released about a year ago)  If vinyl is your thing though, you can also get these three songs on a 7" for $5 plus shipping-- I just want to throw that out there as well.

My thing with WEEP WAVE is that it should be a band that's really sad and makes you want to cry, hence the idea of "weep" and being in front of "wave".   What WEEP WAVE really sounds like though is some radio rock band (think Muse) only a bit more complex.   You know, there are these big distorted guitars and just hooks for days, but they break down into odd sections you might not be able to get away with on the radio. 

With my love for WEEP WAVE only growing strong every time I listen to them, I wonder why you are not listening to them yet.   After hearing "BirdHouse" I not only purchased this cassette but I also bought a hat because even though we're in a heatwave still (which seems to be all summer) my mind thought "It's going to get cold soon, you're going to need this" and I just liked the overall look of it while also wanting to support one of my new favorite artists.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Cassette Review //
(Third Kind Records)

£6 //
Edition of 60 //
https://thirdkindrecords.bandcamp.com/album/17 //

These opening sounds feel like an organ.   It has that almost church feel to it but then also could be classical or some sort of video game.   Is there such a thing as classical video game?  I think it'd be interesting to hear Beethoven, for example, in an 8bit style and then have an artist go from there.   In some ways, this does sound like that idea as well though, which I really enjoy about it.   It's calming, relaxing but not calm in the sense that it carries a steady pace to it, a sped up carousel ride.

It picks up into something much more classical now, though it also feels magical, and as I listen to it I am reminded of either something political (such as a National Anthem might sound) or at the very least the soundtrack to a movie set in England-- something like "A Clockwork Orange" only perhaps slightly more regal.   It just has that sense about it of being in front of The Queen, bowing and all of that, just being rather proper and decent.   Though not my favorite author by any means, I would go so far as to say it could be the score to a movie based on a Jane Austen novel.

What sounds like Pong comes out next and then these eerie tones and shots being fired come through as well.   It's less classical than before and perhaps closer to "Doctor Who" more than anything else, but I hope you can see how that still plays along the same wonderful theme.    It also begins to wind down, as if the batteries in my Walkman are dying, but it does the same when I'm listening through a stereo that's plugged in.    The pace slows down a bit, but then it does build back up and grows pretty intense.

A more somber feel now with definite organ tones which could be in church but if they are not they definitely have a reflexive property to them, such as someone in a movie going through something spiritual.    Though it fades out the next song does come on more like a classical celebration and with every song I listen to on this cassette I begin to think that my idea of it being a sort of 8bit Beethoven is growing stronger and stronger, which also has me falling in love with it more and more as well. 

At the end of that song it grows pretty heavy to the point where you can hear the speakers shaking.   Similar sci-fi whirrs come through with this magical sound to them as well.    In a lot of ways though, this also begins to feel like an opera.   As you listen to it, you can imagine the characters prancing across the stage, each of their actions having consequences but no words are spoken and there is no singing to this just the score to the visuals of some opera I wish was a reality.

On the flip side we open up in a bit more dramatic of a fashion.    Though this is instrumental, I feel like the notes do all the talking for it.   Sometimes they sound as if they are singing.    It just feels like a fun ride we are taking.    As it loops on in its calming manner it can also feel like a lullaby, though it is upbeat and faster paced I could still imagine it as being close to something used to help children sleep.   Though louder tones come out next and they have these whirrs like birds in them as well.    This song feels more like it has something to proclaim than anything else, something out of "Robin Hood" perhaps.

As we press on though I am reminded of a fancy dance, in a ballroom perhaps, that sort of movie scene.    It's getting slower now, back and forth with some quieter lasers and it feels much more hypnotic.   The way the next series of notes progresses only serves to remind me of some opera I've never heard before but this is the essence of one of the final acts, you know, based upon the way that it sounds you can tell we are reaching the end as the characters have just about done all which they set out to do while telling their story.

Typically when I listen to music it is through earbuds.   I do this both on a personal level when I am going outside and on a more intimate level when I am home.   I also feel like my neighbors won't always like my choice in music, so I only tend to play it openly when I don't care about what they think because perhaps they're being loud or stupid for some reason.   With this cassette though, right down to the sound of the children's choir which makes me think of The Mickey Mouse Club, I can't imagine how anyone would ever be offended by it and I don't typically write about music in that genre but this is just something I believe everyone can appreciate.