Thursday, May 29, 2014
I dunno, I want to like this cassette because the music references old time rock'n'roll, surf, garage, 80ties music, and dips into a lot of genres I naturally gravitate towards. It's clear the musicians communicate very well together. While their melodies are simple, they operate as a unit valiantly. But it's just a little too self aware of its shortcomings. The members know they sing off key and have difficulty with harmony. But instead of successfully flaunting their disabilities, the plan backfires when they ironically sing a montage of very melodic children's television show theme songs ... horribly.
They do the Heathcliff theme song, the david the gnome theme song (I think?) the muppet babies theme song, the ducktales theme song, The Sailor Moon cover is terrible, there is some other nostalgic retro garbage in here. It would be cool if they did the montage well, but the drums basically don't change and the vocals are only in tune 25% of the time. It sounds like what the Velvet Underground would sound like if they just played Nintendo 64 all day instead of writing incredible rock songs and doing hard drugs.
The cassette comes with a business card with an illustration of an anime girl looking halfway between exhausted and embarrassed, as if she were drugged. Her arms surrealistically are hawk wings. there is a textile print of breasts that are watercolored in the cassette liner notes. It has a professional polish, but visually the design work overall gives off a strange, unsettling vibe.
At the beginning of the Side B the band hollers and howls through the jaggedy electrified guitar chords and Dee Dee Ramone style bass guitar on the song "Surfdick". They're just playing a couple chords, nothing fancy. But the band seems thrilled. It seems like they're still in the "honeymoon" stage of their careers, totally impressed with just about any sound that emerges from the instruments. There is a naive energy which is a byproduct of this which is attractive, but at the end of the day these are primitive and rudimentary pop structures played casually.
There are moments of promise. "those girls with the hairy arms", "Party all Night" and "Fire" are all pretty solid 8outta10 garage nuggets of fiery, punchy, punk rock energy. But there are simply not enough of these yet! And the bads are just really bad where are the goods are just kinda good. So I dunno. This Cassette gets a C+/B-. 70%. Two and a Half Stars. I bet they'd be fun to watch live with a six pack at hand. Peace Out.
Listen to them here.
Buy this cassette here:
Monday, May 26, 2014
The front cover of this cassette, an abstract painting of a curving contoured line amongst patho blue and foliage warm paint build up, hints at pointillism. If the artist were to approach his instruments in a manor similar to a pointillist painter, then it suggests that the cassette music may have fast tempoed rhythms and, while remaining on topic and at attention, seem energetic and frantic like that song "the flight of the bumblebee".
The music is, however, more similar to the back cover image behind the liner notes of the release. This image resembles television snow or an up-close but blurry blue tinted photo of the moon's surface. It is unfocused but tranquil, even if it seems a bit unsettling due to its cryptic nature.
The electronic and analog music only comes from one or two or three sources at a time (perhaps all recorded with a 4 track?). Modified vocal moans with fishtank chorus pedal loops of found sound, an acoustic guitar, a skipping record and piano strings being plucked on a steinway from above, desolate reverb piano with deep sea depth charge sonic vibrations, held out tension building synthesizer chords with mutating bleeps and blipps ... chords swell and change to create long-winded melodies that meander, melt away or keep on trucking. At the releases most subversive, tonal instruments are subbed out for the artist's desire for dissonance, but the noise never becomes aggressive, even when it is isolating. It stays in a meditative zone, even when high-hat beats are present (which is only for a moment on the cassette and feel very deep in the mix).
The music stays in the genre of the instrumental ambient; all vocals, which are few and far between, remain incomprehensible whispers, making the whispered narrations on Slint's Spiderland sound like the forte vocals of "MAMMA MIA" the musical. The vocals are also swamped down with audio effects and focus on tone as opposed to lyrics. I'm totally fine with considering the vocals as an instrument as opposed to a vehicle to tell a story or recite poetry.
Everything is rather pleasing to the ear even when the melodies played are somber. Even the noise isn't too harsh (I may still advise not giving this cassette as a birthday present to your weak-hearted grandmother). I appreciate that this is a social and inviting album without being obnoxiously accessible or pop, a rarity in the realm of music on the fringe.
The most gentle moment of the cassette is its end; a classical piano plays a soothing lullaby that is dreamy and relaxing. And when I listen to it and compare it to the mountains of feedback laced noise tapes and in-your-face hardcore tapes I must consider for review on a weekly basis, it feels like the most punk rock thing I've heard in a while.
CHECK IT OUT! ---> http://selaroda.bandcamp.com/album/polytexturalism
CORRECTION: The artist was mistakenly identified as "Seladora" in an earlier version of this review. The correct spelling is "Selaroda."
Friday, May 23, 2014
I used to think that I liked metal, or at least telling people that I did. But the truth is that I was lying to myself…and also to them. I tried really hard with Black Sabbath, Motorhead, even Ministry, but less than half an album and 3 or 4 gin & Mountain Dews later, I always found myself jonesin’ for Billy Joel. I did manage to have some success with King Crimson though this is largely owed to the large and diverse body of work and their adamant endorsement from Robert Pollard.
With that disclosure in mind, I will say that I can effectively dig this tape.
The band hails from Perm, Russia…a fact I find curious since there name comes from fairly old English slang. I think they also sing in English though it’s hard to tell through the heavy delay on the vocals, Also curious; the band members’ aliases all come from Native American history, such as Geronimo and the less obvious choice of the legendary athlete Jim Thorpe (who was part Native American). Deepening the conundrum further, according to vk.com (a European band network) they are from Louisiana, but most comments about them are in Russian.
The great thing about this tape is its steadily delivers unexpected twists while staying within the right lane (or whichever side they drive on Russia). The introductory number begins with a sort of ambient feedback sounds, slow drums and a sickly howling guitar like a dying Yeti who only wants its true love by its side during its last moments of life. The tape then takes you prancing alternately down the River Styx and around a campfire in a nostalgic VH1 biopic about a 60s/70s hippy band that only people who spend their weekends watching VH1 could possibly care about.
It calls to mind Brainbombs, King Crimson, Big Business, and Black Sabbath, a punkless version of The Melvins – possibly for the sole reason that those are pretty much the only metal bands I know – but its not bad company for Cockamamie to be in, even if it’s due to my ignorance of the genre. In my first draft of this review I mentioned something about a 13th Floor Elevators influence. I no longer have any idea where that came from but maybe you will.
In addition to be being Russian, this tape is psychedelic, melodic, metallic, and at times subtly/vaguely shoegazey, as if My Bloody Valentine did a stint as Robert Fripp’s backing band. It does have all the elements I do/have/would look for in a metal band (if I were still looking)…sludgy yet driving rhythm, decent presence of melody, effects on vocals/no screaming, swirling guitar, and best of all (for me) several qualities that can in no way be attributed to metal. I’d recommend this tape to metal fans looking to diversify their listening repertoire and metal-phobes who have run out of things to talk about with their harder rocking friends.
-- Travis Long
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
reminiscent of fusion jazz and transcendental psych-dance, the first song is a high octane repeating two chord progression accompanied by crude sax wailings and accentuated with what sounds like sticks on pots and pans. It fucking rules.
the second song is mysterious but thematically similar. It could be from the same band and the saxaphone seems to open up a bit and show a larger tonal and improvisational range. But then (?!?!?!) the cassette clicks off? Bummer! I dunno what happened, maybe a recording whoops ...
A long interval of silence occurs until a new and more intense frequency slowly rises in volume without break. Like an approaching tornado, it sounds like wind and the wind sound gradually increases in volume. Slowly its clear that the tornado is pulsating to a specific time signature, or beat. My brain slowly listens to the milliseconds of frequency until miniature melodies emerge from the wicked tornado. Subtly and mysteriously through the chaos of feedback, the noise jam evolves at a turbo rate to become on the brink of a headbanger, but alas, it remains just harsh noise. The song ends without much structural resolution; an unclear, muffled sentence is revealed, but then the cassette jets off. Pretty good.
Do you watch Game of Thrones? Because the first song of side B of this cassette sounds like Calishi's husband reciting a vengeance ritual to his tribal followers while Clanging a cow bell and sawing a jagged blade through a skullbone ... one man against the universe here. Utter desperation, plain and simple, you don't get many songs like this, at least not in this galaxy. I can't say it's not extreme.
The second song could quite possibly be an example of Helsinki Mind Control, as it's some cool contemporary chill psych noise jams and I was mesmerized. A keyboard chord progression is a gentle return to structured sanity after recorded verbal assault of the prior song. Although the looping vocals and skipping record hiss cutoff is soothing, we anticipate more harsh noise, but instead we're presented a bluesy moog synthesizer... the record skip serves as a time keeper which mimics a percussion instrument. These ingredients make something both edgy but within the boundaries of a classic 4 part looping electronic rock act. It even starts sounding a little like Vangelis' Blade Runner soundtrack.
I have to take some points off for technicalities. The cassette had a lot of dead air and I don't know if the song cut off on Side A was intentional, but it was annoying.
This Cassette came from Helsinki... this is all I could find for a website...
-- Jack Turnbull
Here's their description in their words...
FOUR LETTER WORLD COMPILATION (HYSTER17, 2013)
*23 minutes that consist of 3 minutes of mild metal clanging & saxophone blowing, 8 min crumb of lo-fi mass of tape noise, 6 minutes
of yelling and throwing around objects inside a building close by some children and recording of a 6min spacey krautish electronic drone
performed at a pub in lithuania. plays in this order: leitmotiv limbo, grey park, YOL and %20.
2e + postages, recycled tapes 50 copies
CRAZY STUFF DUDERS!!!! Extreme, Compelling, varied, ... it's a pretty wicked cassette. PLAY LOUD!!!!
Saturday, May 17, 2014
I've put off reviewing this fantastic compilation of forward thinking noise, rock and pop artists from what I believe is a French Cassette label, Crudites Tapes, because it's a daunting challenge to really review a compilation that gives the release justice. All the songs don't necessarily correspond to the one before as various acts have very varying styles of approaching music. To put it simply, there's a lot going on here. So I'm just going to wing it, who cares?
If you desire sonic variety in your cassettes, look no further. This cassette offers a great range of flavors for those who don't mind their music super noisy or psychedelically loungey. From challenging foreign vocal scream fests to surf reverb distortion doo-wop... it can be skuzzy and cool, as harsh as a microphone crushing a half stack - and as psychedelic as minimal hip hop beat accompanied by dark phoenix feedback and LSD handclaps. It's not without acoustic guitars, vocal harmonies and brass arrangements as well! There's songs in here that can meet the needs of a young dark-synth fanatic to a cool grandparent in a beach resort nursing home. There's also just strange foreign reinterpretations of classic rock/ballad structures, garage rock in different languages that I don't even know, you know ... if you like obscure, cool music from lands far away, ... wow, hey, what more do you want?
Also, the cover artwork by Piere Tatin is FANTASTIC! I wonder how big it is in real life? Kind of reminds me of the ghosts from and the color pallette of "Princess Mononoke".
So yeah ... blast it for new and neat surprises ... ! I recommend highly.
1. Henri le Gorgeous & The Meth Addict’s Kittens Society Band Gang - Bijou anal pour l’esprit
2. Pierre & Bastien - Démocratie
3. André - Mend
4. RER A - Classical Murder
5. Yuppies Indeed - During Fire
6. Advent Nivid - Big Man
7. Anne F Jacques - Liège Plastique Carton
8. Carrageenan - Drive
9. Fracture Ouverte - Johnny Blaze
10. SSBASS - 200 HP 12,000 RPM
11. Shopping - Theme
12. Left Leg - In this union
13. Putavelo - Ma copine
14. 11ième étage - Je ne sais pas trop quoi faire
15. Theoreme - Paul
16. Guy Mercier’s Empty Mall - Péage Mélodie
Thursday, May 15, 2014
This Cassette stands out from the rest in a major way. It's on the top of my list of the best cassettes I've received for review since I've begun reviewing at Cassette Gods almost a year ago now. It was a welcome surprise that Al Marantz is native to Cambridge, Massachusetts, just over the bridge from my humble abode here in Boston. "Jerry's Noodles" is perhaps a game changer in the genre of experimental rock and roll folk-art 4-track bedroom jams, a genre popularized by Ariel Pink, the Microphones(Mt. Eerie) and George Brigman. Sonic trademarks of 4 track jams are very "warm" microphones, almost whispered lyrics due to "warm" microphones, large ranges of analog or/and synthetic instruments, vocal harmonies and homage to early years of over-produced studio albums with sonic explorations too foreign for live consumption.
The album's title is a play on words referencing the way Jerry Garcia would play lead solo guitar in the Grateful Dead, or Jerry's "noodling". While Al Marantz can't solo like Garcia (who can?), his albums combine a calm energy with an intellectual spirit for pop experimental range. He sounds like White Fang minus the emphasis of getting wrecked on a daily basis and with the irony knob pulled down to 3 as opposed to 11. Songs casually drift from transcendent dance beats to swamp folk to Otto the bus driver head-bangers, to laid back garage ballads to dazzling flanger guitar college rock.
The design production value is incredibly understated and the illustrations are crudely depicted to the point of resembling middle school doodles. I'm almost certain this was printed out on a home printer and hand cut with scissors. This is fine, perhaps even something to celebrate in a different context, but the track listing's screen resolution is shitty and therefore, hard to read. Typography matters!
But with that said, don't judge a cassette by its sleeve. This is a landmark release for Boston area rock, if not for rock in the USA. It feels like it was made in a different era altogether, like a demo album by a Hampshire College sophomore dude stressed out about Iraq's aggression towards Kuwait in the early nineties who just discovered the Stooges for the first time...
He has a couple of songs on soundcloud. Check it out!!!
Listen to the whole album online here -
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Monday, May 12, 2014
This band rocks rocks rocks! Mix Rites of Spring, contemporary tomfoolery effect pedal guitar riffs, Creedence on overdrive, pinch a surf and drench that sinful donut of rock and shit roll with reverb! All yours for the fair price of MUTHAFUCKIN FREE ON BANDCAMP! Save your pathetic life from facebook addiction with this raw power. It's Heavy. It's psychedelic. It's Garagey. Cream's got nothing on 'um.
Sincere and heartfelt. Gritty and stupid fun. Whammy bars and drum rolls and rocking improvisation, this is how its done, folks.
I also like that this band doesn't have one common theme, although the songs are not dramatically different.
My only two critiques is ...
1. I want more, more, more! There is far too many flash in the pan bands like this who come out of nowhere, put out a really promising rockin' 4 song ep and then just fall of the map. I hope this band keeps it up!
2. The first song, BPPAM (feat. Anna Barie) has a significantly different mood than the last three. It's screecher and reminds me a lot of early nineties Dischord record acts. It's a driving, complex song with many different parts and vocal harmonies. It's epic in scale with the guitar dropping out momentarily and with very narrative lyrics. The last three songs are less structured in comparison and rely more on improvisation and the band's natural, badass instincts. I like all four songs, but there is a clear disconnect between the first song and the release as a whole.
Other than that no complaints!!! Get into it! Go see them in New York, NY or something! That's where they are from! Radical guys!
Friday, May 9, 2014
AHHHH ... Here it is, troop. The pinnacle of challenging and satisfying instrument based soundscape has arrived! Welcome to my earbuds, "the lost and found sound"; Your spectre inducing melodies are transcendent and captivating. You use feedback and pulsating frequencies to meditative ends. I get lost in your ambient noise like a spaceman in zero gravity.
Keyboards and looping organs mix with supernova frequency vibrations while soothing ambient synthetic wind instrument chords collide. Little kid thumb pianos are strummed and guitars pickers flutter their fingers to make musical zen state. The strange man with the long white beard in the corner flashes me a peace sign. I flash him a peace sign back.
It's difficult to make radio fuzz signal stay in melody with a looping guitar progression. It's even harder to make radio fuzz sound warm and comforting. But The Lost and Found Sound does it both. The experience of instrumental radio fuzz evokes nostalgic memories of boombox past while remaining charming and challenging.
This cassette can sound gentle or menacing, rockin' or sacred... this cassette fulfills a whole lot of my desires and shares a whole lot of mixed histories ranging from folk music to electronica.
Time lapses between melody frequencies range from milliseconds to whole stanza loops, while a guitar goofs around with an octave-up pedal in the background. This is mysterious music, made by a bum according to the release's title. Well, this cassette reviewer is very impressed with this bum.
Think about that the next time you see a guy begging on the street, that guy could be a genius!
Get a sample of "The Lost and Found Sound" here and then get a copy of the cassette while it lasts!
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Alligator Indian's title for this 4 song EP, "More Songs about Animals and TV", pays homage to the classic Talking Heads album "More Songs about Buildings and Food". While the connections between these two bands may seem strained at first listen, philosophically there is a connection.
Talking Heads were pioneers in mixing pop with the avant-garde, thus making high art ideas, like post-modernism, accessible to the masses. The now defunct super group's accomplishments today may seem petty, but back in 1978 they were groundbreaking. Talking Heads weren't afraid to add Caribbean congo with new-age synthesizers and searing punk guitar solos on their INCREDIBLE 1980 "Remain in Light" album (an all time favorite of yours truly). They were also not afraid to go country on their "True Stories" album (side note: If you haven't seen the movie, go see it right now ... it's a modern classic). Talking Heads could be disco, punk, rock, r&B, funk, etc., etc. This is mainly because Byrne is a fearless artist whose influences are all over the place. He was accompanied by like minded musicians with oodles of talent, but his brilliance stems from the fact he is able to synthesize all his influences into bite size accessible pop songs, thus exposing the world to new ideas and hence, making the world a better place.
Alligator Indian are able to effectively mix influences like Byrne, but they fall a little short in pop accessibility. This is because Byrne never really gets cathartic. Even on the weird punk classic "psycho killer" where Byrne sings about how he's "tense and nervous" and he "can't relax", or the universally relatable dance classic "Life during Wartime", Byrne never feels like he's out of control.
In contrast, the vocals of Alligator Indian are just barely in control. This is most apparent on the second and least successful song on this EP, "Corpsing". The vocalist sounds closer in tone to someone like Tori Amos. She is almost operatic. Accompanied by pianos and synthesizers that share resemblance to Mark Mothersbaugh's keyboard tone of the RUGRATS SOUNDTRACK, she is not as pleasurable to listen to like Byrne is. I appreciate the passion, but since the vocal release of Alligator Indian feels overly emotional, it takes away attention from the intriguing, subtle genre mash-ups occurring in the song construction.
The Cassette's opener, "Revar Yu Droem", works better. It cleverly mixes Gregorian Chant with a bluesy vocal repeat, all accompanied by computerized drum beats. It has kind of a "TV on the Radio" feel. This song uses restraint very effectively to produce a satisfying crescendo. Each element of the song builds off the last one until you have a contemporary pop gold nugget.
The last song, "Later, Data Dog", is perhaps the EP's most successful song. Here the duo mix and level off the operatic vocals with the computerized drum beats and the classical piano perfectly to make a contemporary digital pop ballad. It's somber, downbeat but not without a R&B rhythm in the background. Also, give credit where it's due - whoever is playing the piano is really, really accomplished.
Lastly, it's great this band experiments with elements of noise at the beginnings and endings of their songs, but they feel like afterthoughts thrown in at the last minute. The noise parts don't communicate or respond to the other elements of the song. They feel like ideas in and of themselves. Unfortunately, the ideas are half baked.
This band works best when they're doing what they do best, which is present old school vocal techniques and classical piano with contemporary electric dance beats. I feel bad dumping on Alligator Indian because there is a lot of T.L.C. in this release... and I can see the female vocalist of this band reading this review of being like "I sound OVERLY-EMOTIONAL? Go fuck yourself, Jack Turnbull! You call yourself a Cassette God?" ... But I just need a little more Je Ne Sai Quoi ... these guys are musically talented but their avant-garde experiments are bland.
Jasper Johns once said "Art is what happens when you something, and then you do something to it, and then you do something else to it." These guys have done something and then done something else. They need to do one more thing and then they'll be really captivating.
Check um out here - http://alligatorindian.bandcamp.com/
-- Jack Turnbull
Saturday, May 3, 2014
The flip side is in the winter the sun only makes appearances for short amounts of time during the day.
To some this may sound enchanting, to others it may sound downright depressing. It takes a certain type of person to embrace and thrive in the short days of winter ... most don't have the patience to shovel snow all winter long to receive the payoff of literally endless summer nights...
Metatag's "Transmission", an electronic two piece from Norway, are able to musically convey a lonely Scandinavian winter night. All the tracks are Minimal, meditative and most are minor in scale. All the tracks are slow to almost be classified as drone. The songs are ambient and repetitive in melody. Each track is gentle, although at times some tracks are also eerie to have an almost early John Carpenter horror soundtrack-synth vibe . Almost all the instruments I hear originate from electronic keyboards. Melodies loop and are occasionally reduced to mere pulsating frequencies. Percussion is almost completely absent from the release (with the exception of some looping metronome clicks here and there).
At times this cassette is SO minimal it is difficult to even categorize these little sonic vignettes as songs or even soundscapes. The sounds made can be so basic they run the risk of making an audience nod off. Fortunately, Metatag understands that these vignettes need to be brief in order to be successful, so you never sit too long with a boring melody.
Metatag's intentional restraint is compelling and unique. It's an idea that is investigated to its full extent for sixty minutes. Unfortunately, its tiring after a while. By minute fifty I'm ready for this cassette to end like a boy in Church dying for sermon to end so he can have fun outside for the rest of his Sunday. I'm glad Metatag investigated the idea of drone dread and minimal melancholy melody, but hopefully they're next release will be in a radically different direction. Or perhaps I'm just not made out for lonely Scandinavian winters ...
Buy and stream the album here ...
-- Jack Turnbull
Thursday, May 1, 2014
The artist is named Larry Wish and he resides in Minneapolis. MN. The name of the cassette is Comb Hair. It is a challenging cassette. It can be dark and inaccessible at times like on the cassette finale song. It can be tender like in Suzie 2 when he sings "Chill out Susie".
All the mutherfucking synthesizers on this are straight up Ray Lynch or Jam Hammer era tone. Like, the whole cassette has a public access vibe going on. When you mix dark content with outdated technology it can make you sound like the Phantom of the Opera with a pair of orthopedic New Balances on. Larry Wish can sound menacing but in a hilarious way ... like listening to a funny nightmare.
What unifies all the songs is the main instrument is a keyboard that sounds straight out of Zelda II: the adventure of link, and Larry Wish puts a octave down on his vocals so he sounds like a shadowed out witness on an episode of History channel's Ganglands. The drums never really gets past slow and steady tortoise, but that isn't to say they aren't played well. There are some complex rolls going on. They enhance without stealing the spotlight from Wish himself. They accompany Wish's baritone behemoth Bowie impersonation well.
That baritone Bowie croon is a technique the electronic group THE KNIFE have perfected. Wish steals from it but gives it a midwestern hippy edge.
I think it is significant that I'd classify this as Folk Art and not Outsider Art ... so ... "Folk Music" not "Outsider Music". Hmm. Folk means something different when describing art as opposed to describing music.
What I'm trying to say is that Larry Wish is very talented. If he made the decision to play on expensive pianos, he could almost sound like the soundtrack to a Busby Berkeley choreography. But he makes the decision to use instruments that sound like they were purchased at a Salvation Army and distorts his own voice to give it an unnatural sound. Therefore, this isn't Outsider music, music created out of the boundaries of official culture, but ... "Folk Music", music created by the People using naive or rudimentary instruments. Wish is, in fact, an extremely talented pianist. At times the crayola crayon aesthetic he is going for feels like a means to sell himself short.
But hey, I love that band Friends Forever, too, so why am I hating? I'd go as far as making a Devo reference to Larry Wish's whole approach ... it's De-Evolved music!
The highlight of this cassette, however, HAS TO BE Larry Wish's "Hootie and the Blowfish" cover of "Hold my Hand". It is A MASTERPIECE. A perfect song. You should buy the cassette for that cover alone.
Larry Wish also covers Third Eye Blind's "Hows it going to be", which is slightly less successful. However, Larry Wish exposes how truly sad that song is. Unlike the squeaky clean who-ever-the-fuck-his-name-is-who-gives-a-shit lead singer of Third Eye Blind, Larry Wish sounds like he's about to burst into tears at any minute during the cover. Add to that the irony of how cheesy his keyboard sounds, and you have yourself an incredibly RAW and POWERFUL performance.
Personally I like when Wish's compositions don't wander. I like him when he's more pop than noise. But overall, Larry Wish is a very talented and entertaining artist to keep your eyes on.
Check it out!