Thursday, July 24, 2014

DAVID B. GREENBERG
"You Are The Greatest"


Mr. Rogers got laid off from his day job because in the alternative universe where this cassette was created, Mitt Romney DID win the 2012 election and cut PBS budget. Also, Mr. Rogers is alive in this alternative reality. He is 86, but he doesn't sound like an old man due to his impeccable good health from years of eating his greens and avoiding stress by being extremely present and calm.

With his spare time, he listens to some Jonathan Richman, Townes Van Zandt, the Byrds and a little new wave, smokes a bowl, and decides to start a music project. He's bursting with energy because of the new door he's opened for himself creatively. He's wise and has a lot to say. He has the musical range to give each song's tone an appropriate acciomant to the lyric's subject matter.

This is a strong singer/songwriter release. Sometimes the lyrics get a little cooky, predictable and/or lazy like "I was sitting all alone/ I decided to call you on the phone/ the voice said leave a message at the tone/ and I'm wondering if you were really home". But then the song's variety of melody and its orchestral arrangements save its borderline corny lyrics; mr. rogers gets saved from the accompanying land of make believe.

I'd be a little hesitant to check this guy out in an acoustic setting, but the guy can arrange very well and make dynamic, technical songs that don't sound contrived. It's a quality release, put it in yo deck, son!

http://davidbgreenberg.info/
http://davidbgreenberg.bandcamp.com/album/you-are-the-greatest

David B. Greenberg
PO BOX 1921
Newark, NJ 07101

-- Jack Turnbull

Sunday, July 20, 2014

BEAN SNACK "II"
(Personal Archive)


Here's a curveball wackadoo winner! BEAN SNACK delivers! This cassette displays a vast education on the subject of "subversive radical easy rider anti-establishment acid trip dance beach bong hits”. There is an incredible variety of noises represented on this spectacular cassette from the harmonic to the rhythmic to the dissonant. Some songs feel improvised while others are coming more from a singer songwriter area. Other songs are deeply entrenched in dancehall low sub-warfer beats. Rhythmic instructional-aerobic synth twang loops mixed with deep space alien transmissions and fuzzzzzzed out bullshit guitars, or are they keyboards?! I don’t have a clue dude!

Some songs are minor in scale like the cassette’s opener. It’s got bass growls, harmonizing organ fruit loops, — twinkly deep sleep dream sequence, SMASH beats from far out slasher rage, piles and piles of piercing droned out casio keyboard fury, nonsensical mutilated tape loops almost random in poetry, calculated feedback hiss and an overall blissed out positive vibe. Think stoned happy hardcore at half the speed but with a same philosophical approach, and then a gnarly guitar solo over the top that’s tone is constantly fluxing about and little kids playing on the ceiling and gleefully laughing. You really have to listen to the whole cassette in this case because each song has a theme or personality, even though the cassette does not break in full length unity.

A high light is “The Umth Power”, which mixes poetry, pre recorded ragtime jazz from a victrola and fierce fuzz distortion guitar in the background. It’s liberating to hear multiple beats in one composition! Three separate sources at once, magically painting an abstract portrait of isolated significance, a technique assumed to only be attempted by the intoxicated or lethargic, but in the case of Bean Snacks these dissenting contradictions connect with interesting results.

This cassette I give five out of five stars and five bags of popcorn. It’s very brave, forward thinking and jazzy without loosing it’s improvisational vibe. A little heavy on the looping for me, but hey, that’s how rock and roll works. This is right up there on my list of best of 2014. http://personalarchives.bandcamp.com/album/bean-snack-2

-- Jack Turnbull

Thursday, July 17, 2014

NEW MOTHER NATURE "2"
(Sophomore Lounge)


I've stalled on sending in this review for New Mother Nature's "2" because it's very good and there's a lot to write about. New Mother Nature combine folk, whiskey drenched drunk dive bar blues, head nodding punk beats, delta blues, electric keyboards and what I'd call teamwork to make this fantastic, diverse release. There's no gimmicks. It's stripped down rock and roll, so stripped down some songs don't even rely on distortion pedals to sound bad ass. What is most impressive is they are able to represent or pay homage to just about EVERY TYPE of stripped down rock without it sounding contrived. The drums can drive like in post-punk (even at times diving into pop-punk swinging beats), but at the same time they're played behind harmonized vocals you'd hear from last waltzers "the Band". The vocals cathartically narrate bad times; abandoned children, being left out in the cold, broken arms, etc. The cassette has the melodrama of the best Bonnie Prince Billy bitter ballads. They also get so close to their roots the guitars start finger picking over simple tambourine melodies, emulating an old time delta blues rag. In the end I guess some dingus pitchfork reviewer would categorize this as a whole as "alt-rock"?

Ok, time out, I'm butchering this review. As an audience you must be confused... I've mentioned everything from pop-punk to delta blues rag, you must be saying what the crap is this guy talking about. I know! I know! Why is it so easy for me to write a bad review and so hard for me to write a good review?

Well, maybe I can help myself out by comparing it to bad music. SO. My significant other is managing and doing the finances for a warped tour act and as a result I got free tickets to the festival, backstage passes, beer, ribs, etc. It was just about the most rock star I've ever felt minus the huge fruit bowl of cocaine.

The bands playing there for the most part were casualties to our post-modern times. You'd hear about four measures of metalcore drop d dingus beats where every member of the band is treating their instrument like percussion, but then the genre would switch to eight majors of what can be categorized as radio rap. Then for 8 measures it sounded like Justin Timberlake. Then it went back to metalcore. While this is arguably a forward thinking approach to music, the music does not CONGEAL like a frittata or a soup. Rather, it is the equivalent of eating a jalapeno, followed by a donut followed by a grapefruit.

New Mother Nature is more like a frittata. Lots of ingredients are added to make something new. The sounds and influences CONVERGE; they aren't just lined up next to each other.

The result is very satisfying. the cassette is challenging while also remaining accessible. Sophomore Lounge, which is run out of Louisville, KY, is a record label to be on the lookout for and this cassette does not disappoint.

Check it out!
http://sophomoreloungerecords.com/2.html

-- Jack Turnbull

Monday, July 14, 2014

CARING BABIES / PLIABLE TONES split tape


This is a PYMPIN tape! I had never heard of these two artists before but DAMN, they both cool! It seems like they're both from the Lebanon NH/ White River Junction VT area and the vybes of that area definitely flow thru the recordings on this tape!

The first side, "Butter on the Trestle", is The Caring Babies, which is a homeboy who rocks strange/cool/catchy psychedelic pop songs along side OG tape collage and other stuff too! I really dig it! He's definitely got that Vermont pop feel to his muzak, but his shit is different too, and he performs live with a psychedelic gangsta named Redgei, who I'm not sure plays but chills on stage!

The other side is really cool! "The Lost Adventures of the Space Patrol" by Pliable Tones is incredible sci fi-ed out instrumental trippy pube poppin jams; very tasteful, beautiful, scary, and interesting! Holy synths, spiritual sound collage and all kinds of good and funky vybes! There's also some real freaky tracks toward the end that have live vocals! Really good muzak to blaze that cheese to!

Both sides of this gangsta shit be good for any occasion! Great background music and also really good solo-introspective (mental pud-pulling) listening too! HIGHLY HURRICANE RECOMMENDED!

You can stream these jams at http://thecaringbabies.bandcamp.com/album/butter-on-the-trestle and http://pliable-tones.bandcamp.com/album/the-lost-adventures-of-the-space-patrollers !

And check out the labels website at http://rovsztbrecords.blogspot.com/

OFF DA CHAIN!

--Frank Hurricane

Friday, July 11, 2014

MORK AIA / GHOIR split tape
(Pikkalma)

This is a full-length split tape from Russian experimental sound ensembles Mork AiA and Ghoir. Lately, I’ve written a couple of reviews for tapes that I’m pretty unqualified to have an opinion about. So far those topics foreign to me have both had to do with metal and its subgenres. I am excited to announce that this cassette features not one, but TWO elements I no adequate background or motivated interest to write about.

Below you will find the sum of my knowledge regarding Russia:

1) Pussy Riot is a band/thing, though I don’t entirely understand what/which.
2) Contrary to popular wisdom, Marx was German, not Russian.
3) It’s too cold to grow corn there.

Here is the sum of my knowledge regarding experimental music:

1) You are not supposed to think of or refer to tracks as ‘songs’…the politically correct term is “pieces”. However, some ‘pieces’ or elements of ‘pieces’ can sound like songs, therefore they will sometimes be placed on a spectrum running from Not A Song to Songlike.

2) The closest I can get to the correct vocabulary to describe this music are the highly technical terms, ‘sounds cool’, ‘sounds boring’, and ‘just sounds’. I will attempt to invent some words to make up for this deficiency.

3) The Residents and Sun City Girls are pretty good. I learned about John Cage, Tony Conrad, and Lamont Young in college. I don’t know too much about them, though I often pretend to. Do Can or Psychic TV count?

Here is a philistinian breakdown of this cassette, piece-by-piece…brace yourself for many hyphens, fragmented sentences and inconsistent capitalization:

SIDE A: Mork AiA

1) Daggry – I very much hope this title is an attempt to coin the use of ‘dagger’ as an adjective. As for the music, it slowly builds from nothing-recognizable to nothing-slightly-recognizable.

2) Natt – Sounds like an extension of the first piece but with a heavier Enya influence…meditation music for robots

3) Fra Omrader – this piece is heavy on Songlike tendencies. It’s about two and a half minutes of pretty much the same thing; decently catchy beat, can’t tell if there’s one guitar riff involved or two seemingly melted together but whatever it is, it works.

4) Seeker Av – Probably my favorite on the A side of the cassette…sounds like the soundtracks to transmission from a cosmonaut-swamp…simple and overlapping twangy, echoing guitar (?) riffs with ambient sludge filing out the background…inaudible speaking engulfed in static…beeps and other space-sounds…this is the soundtrack to Apollo 13 as directed by (holy mountain guy)

5) Krov – we briefly find ourselves back in the Enya-gone-wrong universe that gave us the first two pieces, but jumps through different sounds and sensibilities in 15 second chunks like the turning of a radio dial…pretty cool stuff


SIDE B: Ghoir

1) Evina – spooky, possibly swamp-dwelling monks

2) Oscillate Me – So ‘songlike’ that it’s pretty much a song…driving drum machine rhythm…singing in English (probably)

3) Allove – Another piece that features singing even more probably in English..nearly pushing it off the charts relative to the Not-A-Song to Songlike spectrum…Rhythm sounds like bongos and castanets….

4) Video Satan – Spooky monks are back…or possible just one going solo

5) Noir – obviously a robot drowning…equal parts sad and awesome

6) Avada – a refreshing blast of bluegrass guitar, bucket-sounding percussion, featuring the ghost monk choir on vocals

7) Glass – Air Mattress Deflating/Reinflating Themed Dance Party featuring a classic note-bending, slightly off-kilter synth melody

8) Badadadabam – Exactly what it sounds like

9) Death of Unknown Tapdancer – Between two and five seals trying to kill a bee trapped in a room. They are unsuccessful and another bee enters towards the end.

Listen to it here:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

SOFT EYES "Lazy Life"
(Under the Gun Records)


Soft Eyes (solo project of Lukas Goudreault, ex-Mmoss) almost slipped through my fingers, lost back into the cresting river of cassette salmon attempting to spawn upstream with my ears. Soft Eyes, not Bright Eyes or Wolf Eyes, are red and withered; they are unassuming. Soft Eyes isn't music howling for attention with theatrics, rapid shifts in melody, volume and tempo like James Brown or some mathcore cirque du soleil horseshit. The vocals reverberate and sound tonally blissful even though they are incomprehensible. The guitar rhythms repeat until they are transcendent. You gotta sit with the release for a second and let it develop. You're not going to like this album if you have ADD. Everything slowly bends towards the bright side, even the caveman beat rockers like "Lazy Shadow". Then, suddenly, a super gnarly 60ties guitar solo rips and shreds through a blues scale! The drums and percussion are mostly accompaniment, but they range from analog snares, toms to egg shakers and oddly timed frequency bleeps. The music gives off the illusion of being sleepy & tired as made evident in the title of the release, and while it's a "chill" release, it's a smart one too that is anything but lazy. Soft Eyes shows diversity of style and tone. They experiment with successful results. Its loose without feeling amature. It pays homage to psychedelic recording room nonsense, like hooking a microphone up to a phaser pedal to sound like a young, underwater Jerry Garcia dressed up like Neptune shaking hands with an octopus king. Tubular!

There is a nostalgia I feel when I listen to Soft Eyes. It's music from another era played and made with humble instruments and stock, vintage recording equipment. It's rocking while remaining modest. It's endearing without being cute. There is strength in the tried and true melodies of hippie cool dudes past that the cassette exploits without being redundant.

Somewhere between Spacemen 3, the Zombies, Beat Happening, Ty Segall and outer limits Velvet Underground lies the tripped out calm of Soft Eyes. This is an excellent lo-fi garage triumph to be played throughout the world and celebrated. The album has effortless shifts in mood and genre without the overflow of having the album feel heavy handed. You know how they tell you if you wanna get girls you gotta play it cool? Take a cue from the ancient turquoise mask on the cover of this cassette, he sure knows a thing or two! He'll tell you to listen to this cassette, just like me!

All that said, the next step for Soft Eyes is to get those lyrics of his audible. I love home recording cassettes like this (I am assuming it's a home recording) but a little more production and polish would have gone a long, long way on this release. But until then, good stuff here from Soft Eyes. Go Soft Eyes!

http://0softeyes0.bandcamp.com/releases
Buy the cassette here ---> http://underthegun.storenvy.com/collections/118509-utgr-releases/products/6276223-soft-eyes-lazy-life-cassette
PS - Soft Eyes made this sweet youtube mix for you at this website ... http://bdcwire.com/list/8-awesome-solo-records-selected-by-psych-pioneer-soft-eyes/ ... it's pretty sweet

--Jack Turnbull

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Severed+Said - "Crying In Dreams" (Popnihil)


  Another winner from Popnihil. Ultra-cinematic horror noir from the dark, dank corners of Florida. 
  
 Severed+Said has created a great set of Carpenter-esque creepers, respectively. A ghastly score for a film that doesn't actually exist, but for in the mind of the listener. Initially this reminded me of that amazing intro to The Fog, which is one my favorite film scores ever. Monstrous bass swells slither in and out of drifting analog synths, like a thick black liquid dripping through cracks in the floor. The arrangements are right and right, and all of the sound are mapped out to perfection.

  Side B bites straight out of the gate, with a heaving, wobbly bass, cyclic snares and hats, bringing a classic acid vibe into the mix and now things are picking up. Phased out synths take the lead and a haunting presence is near, and there's a deep sinking feeling that just I can't get enough of.

  S+S shifts moods often, he doesn't make a habit of lurking around any particular zone for too long, and the entire album flows smoothly in one direction. This kind of stuff often loses my attention pretty quick, but Crying In Dreams held it's own from front to back. If the Italo-horror scores are your bag, you'll want to pick this up for certain. Pro dubbed. Purple shell. 
Get it from www.popnihil.com
  

Friday, July 4, 2014

PINN'D "PINN'D EP"
(Vagueness Records)


This electronica album covers a lot of territory. Influences from various corners of the world are evident in the singer's vocals and in the backing computer compositions, but the major one present is the cassette's nod to downtroughten blues. Even when Pinn'd are at their most abstract, the vocals are hot, humid and soulfully down. The singer's voice is alto if not female tenor; it's low, sultry and seductive like the late Amy Winehouse. Occasionally the vocalist can be playful and borderline bratty like Kathleen Hanna which is fun and spices things up. At her most poetic, the vocalist channels her inner MacBeth witch. It's poetry but from across the pond somewhere and its rhythm is different from what we're used to here in the states. Behind the vocals it's all sequencers, keyboards, BOSS dr.beat percussion, etc. No brass sections, minimal backup vocals, no guitars through amps, it's just THX 1138, Windows 95 and Fruity Loops.


I feel like I've heard this dichotomy of very human vocals mixed with very synthetic computer music before. The Blow is one example. The Knife is another. It's effective and an interesting irony to exploit. But do I dare say I've heard enough of this particular musical arrangement? I literally just reviewed a similar tape, Little Spoon, which presented the exact same arrangement of music. Little Spoon barely broke formula because there were multiple vocal tracks that echoed, created octave harmonies and were sonically mutated with the assistance of electronic do-dads. That, and I couldn't tell if the vocals were done by a boy or a girl. I guess I should be more gender neutral with my accusations. Males are equally guilty of exploiting this musical irony to redundancy. Early Dan Deacon is an example. And in my younger and wilder years I myself must admit to dancing around a computer while singing shitty karaoke to a bunch of young, impressionable college art students once or twice.

I'd say from my perspective, which is starring at a big cardboard box of cassettes from around the world, the musical concept of parring a beautiful human voice with a computer is a little overdone at this point. In fact, I'd like to see a pendulum swing of musicians embracing analog instruments again. Sure, it involves more cooperation and balancing schedules with other human beings, but there is power in numbers. Machines always come off as cold, no matter how well they mimic humanity. Sorry Phillip K. Dick, there's no fooling the real thing when it comes to rock and/or roll.

From an economical standpoint, it also just makes a hell of a lot more sense to back up your songs with the computer equivalent to an orchestral arrangement. I'm well aware of that fact most vocalists can't hire an orchestra. But there's got to be more of a middle ground, even if it's just 1 voice, 1 guitar and THEN all the computer mumbojumbo.

But if you're into this type of thing and it's still new and fresh to you, this cassette is very delightful to listen to even if its validity to the avant garde is questionable. And while this reviewer has heard one too many drum machines, the electronic compositions that accompany the vocals are interesting and are not phoned in. The percussion clicks and klinks unexpectedly without overstimulating or drawing away attention from the vocals.

Overall, this is a good cassette. Its contemporary electronic moody pop music. Feels right. Give it a try.
http://vaguenessrecords.bandcamp.com/album/pinnd-ep

--Jack Turnbull

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Decades/Failures - "February 14th" (popnihil)

 
 Sturdy pair of icy downers from Decades/Failures, on Jacksonville's consistently surprising Popnihil label. 

 Side A jumps right into things with "February 14th", a brooding synthpopper full of sharp and layered sequencing, treated baritone vocals and swaggering drum machine. The hooks are infectious, yet lucid, and right now this reminds me of the last Blank Dogs record, or a few of those great coldwave artifacts that Dark Entries has been unearthing. 

  Side B is a bit more gliding and tranquil. A less assaultive approach altogether, with a staggered beat and crawling synths, it's somber vocal retreat creates a slight contrast to the sweatier vibe of the flipside, and now it's time to flip the tape again. Overall a great pair of well constructed songs. I would like to see them tackle a proper LP, and as a fellow Floridian, it's nice to see something like this is happening on your own turf. 

Pro dubbed, black on black tapes. Get one from popnihil.com now. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

EMACIATOR
"Finality and Contradiction"
(Imminent Frequencies)


This tape from late last year contains a pair of wonderfully subdued pieces from Jonathan Borges of the long-running Pedestrian Deposit project and Monorail Trespassing Label. Smooth textures of guitar and electronics revealing deep reflections like polished black marble, sliding from gentle morning glow to suffocated deep-night sorrow tones in languid motion. The building sense of foreboding and deceptively slow movements are very masterful, considering the "minimal" means and techniques. What seems like another "drone" tape is actually a gorgeous swarm of dynamics and intrigue. Perfect soundtrack to floating disembodied along a glacier seeking prey in the heartless hours. Another great release from Imminent Frequencies.

http://www.monorailtrespassing.com/
http://www.imminentfrequencies.com/

- - Will Mayo

Monday, June 30, 2014

Yamaoka - "Silent Bridge" c66 (Sacred Phrases)

 
  
  Beautiful album from Japanese electronic musician Kenichi Oka aka: Yamaoka, on the well fitting Sacred Phrases label. Mesmerising set of tracks that span over a decade's worth of electronic music styles, in just 66 minutes. Sharp, percussive synths are weaving tight micro-rhythms all at every turn, morphing at a relentless pace. Hints of early techno and drone tactics run throughout Oka's hallucinatory arrangements, with more than a hint of modern new age to fill them out nicely.
  It's easy to lose yourself in this at times, as the deep repitition takes hold of you near the end of side A, but that is a very good thing in my opinion. Side B is equally as intense, yet it remains playful and bright, reminding me of Steve Moore or even Tangerine Dream at times, respectively. As the last seconds roll on I realize that this one is a total winner front to back, and you should grab it quick. Limited to 100 with DL code. Get one here: www.sacredphrases.com
   

Friday, June 27, 2014

HARMONY MOLINA


Interesting singer songwriter who contacted me about trying to get a release on my label. I don't know if I'm going to go for it, but I figured it would be proper to share his very strange music with you. It has a kind of tuneless psychedelic quality to it that should be appealing to fans of outsider music. Check it out if you're looking for something from way back in left field. http://harmonymolina.bandcamp.com/

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

MATTHEW AKERS
"A History of Arson" C36
(Out of Body Records)


Good gravy and jumping jack rabbits, this is a phenomenal cassette. The cassette case had a strike anywhere match inside. For a split second I thought I potentially might have a Ted Kacznski Unibomber situation on my hands. The cassette's graphics resemble something that might be in one of Fox Mulder's filing cabinets. Fortunately, the cassette didn't explode when I put it in my walkman. Instead, it played a collection of incredible synthesizer and keyboard arrangements that equally play in the genres of smooth dance and dissonance drone.

Matthew Akers is a "Moog maestro"; his analog and digital synthesizers are at his masterly command. They pulse, drain, fade, increase, repeat melodies with mathematical perniciousness, flutter up and down through frequency envelope patterns, they hypnotize, they minimize with melodies over chords. you can't un-hear his jams like when you can't stop re-living that grief stricken day in your life.

The whole spectrum of what may be on just about the coolest Italian horror movie soundtrack is this cassette; the murder scene when the killer is right behind the protagonist is represented of course, but also the romance scene, the environmental pan over shot with a camera on a helicopter, the car chase action sequence, the blood on the dance floor scene, the work-out montage, the drone that accompanies when the villain reveals a plot twist through an over dramatic monologue, the walk out of the movie theater end credits. Imagine if Ray Lynch or Tangerine Dream collaborated with John Carpenter and produced the score for the Nightmare On Elm Street series.

Six jams, buy it here ---->
http://outofbodyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/matthew-akers-a-history-of-arson-c36

Amazing stuff from a Denton TX record label. throw 'um 4 clams (and tip these guys a 10) for the full analog experience and get the edition of 100 cassette, it's worth every penny.

--Jack Turnbull

Sunday, June 22, 2014

LITTLE SPOON
"Girlfriend Forever"
(MJMJ Records)


The cassette cover is of a slightly out of focus young woman with a dripping rainbow across her face (please note: the above photo was ripped from the artist's website ... the actual cassette cover is a close up of the above photo). It reminds me of local access children television programming, family friendly craft fairs or one of those discombobulating pink house wackos from "A Family Finds Entertainment". The girl is, please forgive me here, good looking, with subtle messy bangs, a calming expression and a flirtatious tilt of the head.

The music seems to match this visual well. It's appealing, stimulating yet calming dance music. It is gay in the old fashioned usage of the word, even when the music is bittersweet in temperament. I sense even a little of "the Cure" in the synth tone.

Little Spoons vocalists at times sound like a tenor young Prince (or as the artist formerly known as) but they can also make like native American tribal chanters. At other times their voices sound without gender. This androgyny is engaging the same way Ziggy Stardust era Bowie was engaging, although these are dreamy dance songs, not intergalactic ballads. A female voice emerges at the beginning of side B ... or maybe it's the same voice? I dunno... but it's got me listening, which is a very good sign of a good cassette.

I think one thing that makes this cassette work is the fact it is, once again, a utilitarian release. The beat, while dropping out at times to allow melody to take center stage, remain rather simple and repetitive four four drumbeats. This gets ones head nodding and then Little Spoon doesn't let up. This cassette has a mission to make you move. There is fun poetry here in the lyrics, interesting tonal experimentation, beautiful digital vocal harmonies, good transitions and enough song diversity to keep me interested ... but the glue that keeps it all together is a focus on the beat. Even on a song like "We are Both Adults", which is notably more serious and somber than the rest of the release, has a drumbeat that keeps your head nodding. It doesn't break your neck (it's not trying to) but it is consistent.

This music is best when the harmonies are really pushed to their fullest digital capabilities, like on the cassette finale, "There is Something Over That Hill". There's still a computer loop rhythm that sounds like MUM, but here the vocals delay, merge into chorus, loop and the whole song ends with the rest of the song elements dropping out as the vocals infinitely fade out chanting with divine glory.

This is a fine release and good for the summer season. Diverse, inviting, mellow without being lazy, dance inducing without being aggressive and with lush, stoned vocals. Check it out.
Listen to it here on their bandcamp:
http://littlespoon.bandcamp.com/album/girl-friend-forever

--Jack Turnbull

Thursday, June 19, 2014

POLST "s/t"


POLST is a 4-piece metal/punk band from Portland, OR. This cassette marks their debut release.

Having lived in Portland, I can safely say that is particular mixed-genre is pretty common for the geography. Music fans in the rest of the country are somewhat misled by the commercial success of bands such as The Decemberists, Sleater-Kinney, The Blow, Sallie Ford and so forth, and whom collectively suck 60/70 %. The reality of the music scene in PDX is that it is a meth-paved playground where metal bands run wild and are free to cross-pollenate with other fringy genres of a similar ilk. While living there, I found this to be notably boring.

That being said, I always appreciate ‘standouts’ no matter how dismissive I am of the genre as a whole. POLST is certainly a great example of a ‘standout’ among bands that I can barely sit-thru. Possibly my paramount complaint about the genre/subgenre is that there rarely seems to be much of a difference between songs; you can’t understand the lyrics, there is almost never anything that vaguely resembles a melody, and while the musicianship is usually very impressive it is rarely purposeful, putting it in the company of the most useless genre of all…jam bands. (something to think about: have you ever seen jam bands and metal bands in the same place at the same time?)

But as I said before, POLST is a ‘standout’. Most of the songs are what you would expect from band describing themselves as “The metal-side of punk”. However, there is a certainly a difference song-to-song, primarily noticeable in the way and proportions that the genre-elements are mixed. While most metal/punk bands are either punk bands with a metal edge or metal bands with punk influences, POLST truly (and seamlessly) cross genres within the same song, best exemplified by the fourth and last tracks (“This Stone” and “Under a Puppet” respectively) which even include elements of psychedelia. Better yet, there is plenty that “vaguely resembles a melody”. In fact the second song “Pretty Water” I might even describe as catchy. They take the best elements from each genre tread including the youthful sensibilities of Cro Mags, DOA or Negative Approach, the desperately aggressive power of heavyweights Dillinger Escape Plan, as well as elements I’m not qualified to describe from other bands I’m embarrassed to list. (note: keep in mind that the only Dillinger Escape Plan song that I definitively claim to have heard more than once is the cover of Aphex Twin’s “Come to Daddy” featuring Mike Patton).

“This Stone” begins with a sort of dramatic, cleanish, thinner-side-of-sludge guitar intro that could honestly be the beginning of a song from almost any genre under the Big Tent of Rock and Roll. After about a minute, the rest of the band comes in, transitioning into a stab-first-then-grind take on grindcore. From there it leads us a journey of mystic anger and adrenaline to a head bopping hardcore-styled chorus, to a bridge more reminiscent of punk. It then transitions abruptly but seamlessly (again) back into sludgyland where the backing vocalist takes the lead repeating the words “You already know” and the screaming lead vocalist joining him about a half-second behind which I suppose constitutes harmonizing in the metal world – considered by many to be the Everest of harmonizing – then eventually breaking down into something which might even be called ‘pretty’.

I can’t pretend to fully understand what metal fans look for in their music, and its possible that I might be fan of the genre if I did, but as a outsider I would say this works and by the Springsteen-principle (a theory dictating that EVERYONE likes at least one Bruce Springsteen song and if they don’t, are most likely philistines at best, domestic terrorists at worst), I would surmise that metal fans would like it even more. The screaming is nicely cut by flat and nearly amelodic backing vocals for extra-listenability, a sound filled by the impressively busy drumming of Tuviya Edelhart (see also: Valkyrie Rodeo), the slight juxtapositions in genre/influence within each song.

Any serious music appreciators would be remiss in passing up this cassette. You know how some people/you say things like “I hate all country except for Johnny Cash” or “I hate all rap except for 311”…this is your breath-of-fresh-mud exception. Metal, punk, and even hardcore fans should absolutely check this out, if you weren’t too offended to read this far into the review.

Listen to it and buy it here:

http://polst.bandcamp.com/

--Travis Long

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

NEAR EARTH/BROKEN KEY
Split Cassette

A Side
Near Earth is the name of the band. The band's name is a very fitting name because it describes the band's sound; Electricity laced dream pop that references the spacey and cosmic without ever getting too innovative through experimentation, thus keeping the music in space but still "Near Earth".

Hints of Kraftwerk, Duran Duran and the Psychedelic Furs raise their heads as potential influences, but the closest comparison I can make is to a watered down Radiohead from their Bends album era. Sometimes the basslines are little too U2 for my blood too.

This is an absolutely passable and well rounded indie rock side of a split cassette, but it's also music that is nothing to write home about in the grand scheme of things. The melodies, tones, sonic effects and beats sound all too familiar due to their use in commercials for totally average new cars. I keep waiting for a narrative voiceover to appear in the music asking me "Where do you want to go today? The all new Honda Accord" ... The musicians are probably very sincere but their music is accessible and familiar to the point of redundancy. Near Earth doesn't shake me up even though the band is talented and their recording abilities are noteworthy. With all this said, if I was at a bar and these guys were playing, I'd be content... not satisfied, but I'd find it hard to complain. Near Earth are competent musicians, just not adventurous ones.


B Side
The other side of the Cassette is from Broken Key. Broken Key is a lot more dancey. His songs (or better yet, beat vinyets) are short, loose and almost lo-fi in execution. Broken Key can dive into 8 bit territory. His bass drops are heavy and would fit well on a dance floor. Occasionally his melodies become frantic with lots of lots of notes littering the stanzas of his computerized sheet music. On other jams there is a hip-hop vibe. Voice overs interrupt looping drum beats like a DJ Shadow track or a Beastie Boys song. Sometimes the songs are minimalistic, almost too minimalistic and the pinball sound effects don't respond well enough with the core backbeats of the song's structures.

But other times, the looseness allows for some refreshing ideas to emerge. For example, some of Broken Key's melodies feel medieval in scale, like they could be plucked from a Hobbit's lute, except they're played with electronic devices. Broken Key can also hint at being punishingly loud but he's still a little timid to go there full throttle ...

Broken Key all sounds a little amateurish but still intriguing. This half of the release is scatterbrained; the ideas have not been fully thought out in a series. But Broken Key is enduring and more adventurous than Near Earth, and the artist's effort is promising.

All in all, a decent cassette worthy of some summertime airplay.
Listen to and buy the cassette here: http://vwyrdwurd.bandcamp.com/album/93-ep-cold-open-ep
Check out the record label here ---http://www.vwyrdwurd.com/
The Cassette is roughly half an hour long.

--Jack Turnbull

Monday, June 16, 2014

Seven Lies About Girls "The Process Of Weeding Out" c32 (Teen Action)


  S.L.A.G. is back with another ace speaker crippler via- Teen Action Records. "The Process Of Weeding Out" begins it's jaunt with"Your Last Affront", a soaring synth drone with some eerie delayed vocals and a thick humming bass rhythm to match. Influence is vague, but it kind of reminded me of the tamer TG moments until "Screw The Law" came chugging away like a distorted jackhammer. Heavy, blown out guitars(?) are in control, and a pummeling percussive element carries them away in a sack to who knows where, as your speakers are pushed to their limit. You have my attention.
  Side B has a less calculated vibe, and is surely the more eardrum friendly part of the tape for most. Synths squelch and bleep on in circles, weaving between woozy piles of muffled sounds and gated rhythms. All the while a deep rumbling of drum machines and other thuds try and keep up with the pack, until things finally fizzle out. This is an compromised album without any particular set of boundaries, and I think fans of Dead Machines, TG and Yellow Swans will probably really dig this. Limited run, hurry and get one from www.teenactionrecords.com 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

TEEN BRIGADE
"August" & "And Everything After"
(Holy Infinite Freedom Revival)


You know when you be fuckin around on some keyboard or guitar and you be piecing some weird things together and all of a sudden you like "DAMN, THAT SHIT IS TIGHT"? That's what Teen Brigade's tape "August" & "And Everything After" is kinda like! Spacy, Psychedelic melodies flowin between and across other shrympanati melodies! THIS IS GOOD TOSSIN MUSIC! SEX MUZAK! I think it's just one dude, and whoever he is, that dude is off tha MOTHAFUCKIN CHAIN! I was rockin this tape at a late night BBQ and ervrybody kept sayin "THAT SHIT BE GOOD"!

This tape is actually two albums combined into one tape released by Holy Infinite Freedom Revival, a label from Indianapolis! This label seems tight as a shrymp's ass! Check it out @ http://holyinfinitefreedomrevival.bandcamp.com/ !

And you can stream the whole Teen Brigade tape @ http://holyinfinitefreedomrevival.bandcamp.com/album/august-and-everything-after ! But streamin tha digital crizzy ain't nothin like the real tape! SO ORDER ONE FROM THESE BOIZ! PEACE!

-Frank Hurricane

welcome to the crew Frank!!!

Friday, June 13, 2014

OUTER GODS / UNIT CHARGE
Split Cassette


This is a drone noise split cassette that explores black metal themes like creepy Vampire movie sound clips, drop D bass feedback, banshee moans, hypnotizing mutilated tape hiss, classical creepy organ and sonic killer bee swarm emulation.

Dread, anxiety and the absence of harmony are the common ideas presented. Zoned out synth chords infinitely spiral downwards. Twilight descends, hope dissolves within oneself as the sun burns out while simultaneously imploding.

Medieval torture, devil worship, basilica filling organ chords reverberate through count asshole's sinister castle of psychedelic hallucinations. Dissonance reigns supreme. Tides of distortion litter the tremble with evolving, disturbing crescendos.

The mixes here are swampy, but the slow developing compositions surprise with skeleton-siren screams and Sunn amplifier electric guitar zen mushroom trips. At times it can feel a little heavy handed, but it is also a genuine, audacious release. The cassette covers a lot of territory considering it basically never switches chords and ignores rhythm, melody and lyrics. Outer Gods are a little more upfront with their menacing intentions while Unit Charge is more abstract. At times the recorded microphone fuzzing can be like frantic jazz; improvisational spirit is audible behind a cloud of man-bats absorbing the sky.

Roughly forty minutes in length, this is a quality release to reject the contemporary world to. Celebrate your isolation, piss off your roommates, blast some Outer Gods and Unit Charge.

Listen Here: https://outergods.bandcamp.com/album/outer-gods-unit-charge-split
Record Label: http://persistentmidnight.tumblr.com/

--Jack Turnbull

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

HUNNIE BUNNIES "Pizza Clown"
(Anonymous Dog)

Someone stumbling upon Hunnie Bunnies in a random basement could be forgiven for assuming this band would be more style than substance, more performance than music. The Johnsons – Mark and Jeff – dress in nightgowns and splatter themselves in green paint before freaking out with fucked up beats on broken equipment and tense little throbs of sound, throwing themselves around and through the audience with little regard for anything but spectacle. This sort of thing has become a kind of trope in the noise scene, with a a whole subset of bands that can be defined more readily by their performance antics than the music that accompanies them (think Contortionist Jazz Exotica, Yohimbe, Sylvester Alone, etc.). And while some of these acts make sounds as compelling as their performances I rarely find myself wishing I had their newest tapes (the aforementioned acts being among those whose sounds absolutely live up to the spectacle).

What separates Hunnie Bunnies from this subculture-within-a-subculture is their emphasis on beats and the ways in which they use rhythm as a major factor in their sounds, no matter how fucked or far out those sounds can be. Anything becomes music if it happens to a beat, right?

These former Boston noise heads reigned as some of the most active members of that city's underground scene for several years before Jeff moved to Philly 2 years ago. Mark stuck around a little longer, curating the Raw Meet noise/performance series that became a major outlet for Boston's noise freaks to get turned on to acts from other similar cultures all down the East Coast. Now Mark has made the move to Philly as well, and the Johnsons are reunited in brotherly love, but they recorded this tape for Peter Negroponte's Anonymous Dog label in Boston's hallowed Whitehaus when they were living apart in May 2012.

This tape illuminates the process by which Hunnie Bunnies get to the point of the sonic and spatial freakout that's become their trademark. The first side focuses on the spacier side of their sound; the interstitial moments when they're gathering up energy for the strange storm they're about to unleash on an eager basement – starting with ambient brushes and tonal throbs into places of sparse percussion and fuzz through distorted vague vocals. Lots of building. Then halfway through side two, everything changes. Where before all the energy had been a tense but sparse arrangement of rattles and hums, suddenly it's as if all that was just making sure all the elements worked before busting them out all at the same time in a cacophonous clusterfuck of raw sonic energy.

With the boys back together in the land of liberty, lord only knows what can be coming next. It's been a while since they've had time to get together and actually get down to business figuring out what they want Hunnie Bunnies to be. Word is they're working on more thoroughly composed pieces and even...songs?! Who knows? No matter what the future holds, this tape stands as a pretty fine document of the inbetweentimes when the boys were living in different cities and getting together every now & then to jam out in their wheelhouse of weird sonic chaos.

ORDER FROM: http://wizardsac.bigcartel.com/

--Conrad Benjamin

Saturday, June 7, 2014

EARTH HEART
"Be Brave, Earth Heart"

Earth Heart is the creative handle for Boston-based singer/songwriter Katie Coriander who is also responsible for the accompanying artwork. On this cassette/EP (her debut release) and others, she is joined by Matt Axten of The Dying Falls on drums.

The first thing I found striking about this tape was the sound which (most likely) comes from a combination of reverb and the way in which it was recorded at EMF in Cambridge, MA. (I have no idea how it was recorded). From the very beginning of the tape when we hear the sounds of setting up (indecipherable dialogue, fumbling with drumsticks, clearing throat, etc.), you can hear an almost measurable distance between the sources of the sounds on the recording. You can hear the distance between the drums and guitar, the mouth and the microphone, the microphone and the floor, the distance between fingers as they form chords, and the guitar itself sounds as if it is powered solely by its own reverb. This gives the songs a particularly spooky feel, especially for something not recorded in Germany in the mid-80s. It’s remarkable how this cassette takes you inside the room where it was recorded, which if it exists at all, is probably in a haunted house.

This intimate and imminent eeriness is accentuated by Coriander’s voice which inspires a very strange, impossible, and splendidly godless image of Nancy Sinatra taking voice lessons from Conor Oberst. Trembling, neurotic, terrified with a touch of psychosis, but delivered with the command of someone who has been substantially lower than she could have previously imagined, and is aware and over the less conventional qualities of her voice and seems to draw confidence from her own vulnerability. This twice-removed terror is made sweet by the subtle but sharp undercurrents of 50s/60s pop in increasingly noticeable as the tape plays on.

Listening closely to the lyrics, you might notice a pattern occurring in Coriander’s storytelling where she seems to pile layers of literal imagery and expression, describing something deeper without ever conceding that there’s anything there at all. The third song, “Mario Brother”, (in addition to showing off some raunchy guitaring) frantically spits an inner-monologue about playing Mario Brothers with her little brother. It is not gimmicky enough to be a song about a video game but not sentimental enough to be a song about a sibling relationship either.

On a similar and possibly directly related note, you sometimes catch a line that might seem a little on-the-nose and takes you out of the moment. However, it is generally accepted by even the most discriminating critics that great songwriters will sometimes use clichés, or what might be interpreted as lazy-imagery, either as filler or because it is truly the most appropriate way of expressing A Thing. We forgive the songwriter when they show that they have other tricks up their sleeves. In this case, Coriander rewards us handsomely. Towards the end of the second song “Frankie Danger” (one of the best on the tape and obviously about some stage of an unwanted pregnancy), she repeats the opening and initially off-putting line “Table for two, even though we’re really dining for three”. But just a single line later we hear “But when tomorrow comes, when it cums (sp?) inside me”, turning-a-phrase so sharply into in offbeat expression of sexuality gone awry that it’s almost captivating.

She empties her sleeves again on the last (and other best) song on the tape, “Fire Song”. The first verse describes a dream in which she buries herself alive then shoots herself upon completion for reasons simultaneously convoluted and completely logical, and which turns out to be a pretty potent combination as dichotomies go. She does one-better in the first chorus (/bridge?) with the somewhat contrived hook (albeit a perfectly executed melody) “I’ve been feeling like something’s been missing for a long, time, now” but she makes the would-be cliché her own in the next line, “And I’m pretty sure I can smell a burning dumpster”.

It’s hard not to be charmed by the dark yet humdrum place that these songs seem to come from – much like the way we consistently (and sometimes reluctantly) tip our hats to anagrams and quips that inadvertently imply negative expectations. You probably wouldn’t want to go to this place, but maybe have a friend pick up something from the gift shop if they’re in the neighborhood, and this tape beats the shit out of a postcard.

This EP is available for free download. Check it out here, along with other releases from Earth Heart:: http://earthheart1.bandcamp.com/album/be-brave-earth-heart

--Travis Long