Tuesday, April 29, 2014

SUB LIQUID "Apex"


This is what you'd call Utilitarian music; it is music that serves a purpose and is made to last. That purpose is to accommodate your art opening, bougis men's clothing store or trendy hookah bar for a significant amount of time. It is background music to be played at moderately loud volumes so patrons may enjoy its hypnotic electronic melodies while discussing the latest New Yorker article or whatever is hanging on your wall. It never interrupts or challenges its audience. It never fluctuates very much in volume or speed. It never drops a four/four tempo, and when it does it is implied with electronica harp loops, keyboard chords on up-beat or falsetto moog bird calls.

This isn't to imply that the artist, Sub Liquid, is a simpleton. There is a difference between making Utilitarian music and making lowest common denominator music that is what is commonly referred to as mindless house techno. This is due in part to Sub Liquid's decision making when it comes to what is sampled or what instrument is being played. There are cello riffs in here straight from a Bond movie colliding with reggae blunt hit beats. There are late night car ride ambient synth chillouts mixing with cheerleader hand clap rhythms.

I do have to reduce points for this cassette based on its poor design decisions when discussing the paper sleeve. The text is almost illegible and there is too much of a reliance on black. The patterns and textures generated are interesting but are also vague, blurry and undefined.

I am also dubious to the music's reliance on variations of the AMEN drum sample ... a beat pattern used to death and compromised by Taco Bell commercials and Stage D acts at the festival of the Juggalos.

But with that in mind, I find myself coming back to this cassette through my little amplifier again and again. It's like your go to sneakers, your BROOKS running shoes; they may not be the prettiest shoes you own, but you've worn them now for FIVE YEARS and they still look new. UTILITARIAN MUSIC, MAN.

This cassette will still be helping people make connections twenty years from now - it may be in the background, but Sub Liquid is floating out in sound waves through the universe right now ...

http://subliquid.bandcamp.com/album/apex

-- Jack Turnbull

Saturday, April 26, 2014

SLIPPERTAILS
"There's A Disturbing Trend"
(Fleeting Youth Records)


Grunge revivalists Slippertails are able to mimic Kurt Cobain's ability to transfer punk rock angst into Beatles pop-rock anthems and ballads. They flaunt their minimalism as a two piece with subtle tone changes, dual harmonies in four bar chord blues progressions, experimentations with drum machine metronome precision balance and fuzz,fuzz,fuzz. At times it sounds as old school as a Junior Kimbrough blues jam with a Melvins-esque drop octave, other times youthful with a Ringo Starr "Day Tripper" tempo. The cassettes' brightest moments channel Blue era Weezer with BORIS sized amplifiers and tone. This is to say there's a mopey, nerdy angst mixing with a heavy humbucker sliced-speaker baritone guitar riff.

At times the minimalism of this two piece is enough for me to stay engaged, but at times the guitar and drums feel too loud for folk rock but too ballady and intimate for punk rock. It exists in a weird rock purgatory of music trying to be both gritty and distorted but also intimate and sensitive. It particularly doesn't work when one member is screaming and the other is crooning. The combination is jarring and the setting too intimate to tolerate screaming. It needs a second layer of feedback in order for screaming to appropriately blend at the intensity of the other elements of the song. Or, you have to sound like a flaming skeleton warrior riding a gigantic dire wolf swinging a mallet.

But overall, more hits than misses on this release from Slippertails. If you are a fan of the genre, Slippertails offers some interesting takes on what is becoming a particularly significant style of rock in America culture, what the kids refer to as "the grunge".

Check it out!
http://fleetingyouthrecords.bandcamp.com/album/slippertails-theres-a-disturbing-trend
http://www.fleetingyouthrecords.com/p/slippertails.html

--Jack Turnbull

Thursday, April 24, 2014

RESTAURNAUT
"When The Hue Was More" (Almost Halloween Time Records)
(Kerchow!)
(Stagnant Fjord Recordings)

Restaunaut is defined as “One who very commonly eats out, and is recognized easily by waitstaff.” It is also the alias for Nick Dolezal of Fresno, CA. This cassette falls roughly in the middle of his discography which include 14 albums, most of them recorded over the past year or so. Most of his work is pretty freak-folky, heavy on acoustic guitar, and I believe, ukulele and xylophone. This tape however, seems more focused on squeezing the last few decibels from a dying keyboard. For the most part, it works as quirkiness is well complemented by Daniel Johnston style vocals. It is worth noting the important difference, that the vocals here are more deliberate; like he’s writing songs because he wants to rather than Johnston writing songs because he has to – though the songs are no worse for the distinction.

One other thing I would point out is the questionable decision to passively brag about stealing from a charitable organization in the liner notes. He does this while referring to a sample he uses of a boy singing lifted from a tape, which in turn was lifted from Goodwill. How this bold move will play out in the national press remains to be seen, but I’m willing to forgive him as I know from experience that Fresno, CA is a terrible, terrible place.

There are some pretty solid pop melodies here. The highlights are “The Little Man” on Side A and “Pin Missile” on Side B ,which is like a symphony-to-scale compared to the rest of the cassette. The one real lull is the song “Spittoon” on Side B. I’m not sure what the point of the song is but maybe you can figure it out. Fans of Son of Salami and superfans of Ariel Pink are very likely to enjoy this album.

http://restaurnaut.bandcamp.com/album/when-the-hue-was-more

--Travis Long

The handwritten note that came with this tape said "I am Restaurnaut and I make horse music."  Just thought that might be helpful... -ed.

Monday, April 21, 2014

DAN LURIE "Postcard Club"


Somehow this romantic love letter to the Gods of Rock and Roll skipped past my earbuds at first listen. I believe it was my acquirement of a refurbished cassette deck, an upgrade from my Radioshack Walkman, that made me listen to this release in a different way. Also, I must admit I have a prejudice towards the stereotyped genre of "douchebag with an acoustic guitar", which is very unfair. It's just when a guy like Lurie comes around and croons his heart melting Americana lyrics about unrequited love and the natural beauty of changing seasons like a BOSS, it can be intimidating. This guy is LEAGUES ahead of a lot of rock bands I've listened to when it comes to leaving an emotional impact in the heart of his audience, and he does it with an xylophone, bro! Here at guitar Gods, I mean Cassette Gods (which brings me to another point, Garrett Burt, the guitarist on this, can shred!), we're used to songs about drugs or just reverberated gobble-dee-gook, not heart to hearts! I'm gonza cry here...

Lurie is a natural narrator who understands how to tell a story through song. He understands restraint, volume and how to make dramatic sonic entrances and exits. His modest folk songs crescendo with loose electric guitar solos, banjos, mandolins, lap steel, synth, piano and glockenspiel klinks.

I hear the CARS (for real, some of these guitar solos are that epic!), Real Estate, a lil early Magnetic Fields, Sea & Cake, early Belle & Sebastian, but all those bands just taken down a hair with an acoustic guitar as the centerpiece.

A very well orchestrated album of contemporary folk rock. And guess what, you can listen to it FREE HERE --->
www.danlurie.bandcamp.com/album/postcard-club
Dan's website is here ----> www.danluriemusic.com

--Jack Turnbull

Saturday, April 19, 2014

NEEDLES AND PIZZA "Soft Opening"

This is the debut tape/anything from Portland, Oregon’s drum/bass/synth duo, Needles and Pizza. Although their home (PDX) has plenty of one and almost none of the other, the forces are equally represented here. Metaphorically, ‘Needles’ are abrasively buzzing and reluctantly melodic basslines, and ‘Pizza’ is weird party anthems about Air Bud doppelgangers. Literally, ‘Needles’ is a lady who provides such basslines along with Poly Styrene-ish disaffected wailing and even more disaffected songwriting. 'Pizza’ is a dude rocks some simple, driving drumbeats played with obvious gusto, some synth parts like the involuntary orgasms of a misanthropic robot, and penned the afore-referred-to “That Dog Looks Like Air Bud”. All together, they create a sound that bridges the gaps between Big Black, Joy Division and that girl who is friends with all the best bands and says that she’s homeless but you’re kind of skeptical and you know there has to be a longer story there but it’d be such a weird thing to bring up that you just accept that you’ll probably never know, buy her a drink once in a while and enjoy her company/antics. Much more concisely, this tape makes doom-and-gloom danceable and head-bobbing induced whiplash sexy again. Other standout songs include “Frank Might Feel It” and “Mornings 4 Suckers”, with “Grandpas Die” getting an honorable mention.

http://needlesandpizza.bandcamp.com/

--Travis Long

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

SIGNOR BENEDICK THE MOOR
"SBtheMoor" (Deathbomb Arc)


We rarely get rap cassettes here at Cassette Gods so it was pretty hard to turn this down. Signor Benedick the MOOR is seething with youthful energy that transforms into his rapid fire rhythms. While this is the center point of the entire cassette, it also goes in a thousand radically different genre directions from hardcore to accapella to techno.

The MOORs stanzas, vocal tone and pronunciation reminds me of Chance the Rapper. It's a little whinny like the Parrot in ALADDIN. At first that was a turn off, but it ends up being clutch because otherwise this cassette could suffer from taking itself too seriously. Its cryptic typography decisions evoke something medieval or at least the graphic design of Al-Qaeda.

I appreciate Signor Benedick the Moor's experimentation. He is a true artist. However, true experimental artists have a tendency of having hit or miss records. Think of the movie directors Nicolas Winding Refn or Werner Herzog; two experimental film directors concerned with stretching the boundaries of their medium as opposed to simply settling for making something familiar and therefore, safe to produce. Refn makes a masterpiece like "Pusher III" or "Drive" and then pulls "Only God Forgives" out of his ass. Herzog is responsible for one of my favorite movies ever, "Aguirre, the Wrath of God", but also directed "Werner Herzog eats his Shoe", which isn't exactly a movie. The point is, when you take risks, sometimes those risks fail.

This Cassette's failures include, but are not limited to, an acapella beat box session that just ends up sounding off. It's because the beats sound too much like farting I think. It sounds like this, for real.

But other songs are really good on this. And there's more hits than misses. More Swooshes than air balls, including a four track bedroom drum/bass/guitar/xylophone chill out. I think when the MOOR is just more straight up rap he really shines. The Cassette gets better as it goes along. Don't let the first song, which is the farty acapella song, turn you off.

BUY IT HERE:
http://deathbombarc.com/
http://deathbombarc.bigcartel.com/product/signor-benedick-the-moor-sbthemoor-cassette

-- Jack Turnbull

editor's note: the guy who runs this label (Brian Miller) was the original founder of Cassette Gods, so this the first time a Deathbomb Arc release has been reviewed on the blog. it's a cool label with a lot of history, check it out if you haven't...thanks for making this all come full circle.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

FURROW "A Field"
(Bleeding Gold Records)


Furrow is like coffee; if you're trying it for the first time it may take a few times for you to warm up to its flavor. at first it may seem bland and its benefits not immediate.

Furrow intrigued me at first, but after a few rotations in the reels, I'm won over by this post hardcore two piece for their ability to converge the eighties cheese of chorus pedal reverberated glory with the driving four-four time signature drums similar to the JAPAN bands - Japanther and Japandroids.

Furrow is also like coffee because they are a band that come in many different flavors. Some of their songs even dive into chillwave territory momentarily until they say "aw fuck it" and bring in the get your butt moving/dancing tom tom drum beats of the best DIY basement show of your young life.

This is music that I personally have a soft spot in my heart for due to its earnestness. It is music purposely warmer than anything on the radio. Its drum hi-hats feel like they are right here in the room with me.

Buy it here - http://bleedinggoldrecords.bigcartel.com/product/furrow-a-field

--Jack Turnbull

Thursday, April 10, 2014

THEE GOOCHI BOIZ
"Fast Food for the Teenage Soul"
(Burger Records)


Thee Goochi Boiz is the side/solo project of Francis Carr, (actually this band is a trio, who each contributes equally -editor) more notably known as the (often)lead guitarist of Happy Jawbone Family Band and writer of such hits as “Don’t Play Ding Dong Ditch With My Heart” and “Junk Pop”. This is the second album from Thee Goochi Boiz.

“Fast Food for the Teenage Soul” delivers exactly what it promises,. However, it does carry the one stipulation that the aforementioned teenager got heavy into mixing Ritalin and Nitrous while working at the local Sunglass Hut, stunting their brain development so while they may be somewhere in the their early 20s and their thoughts have become more complex, they still pine over the girl who rejected them as a prom date while publicly and eagerly bragging about having gone to see a Kevin Smith movie instead. This album succinctly expresses that dire, soul-deep need for ‘Fast Food’ for purposes of nostalgia, instant gratification, ignorance of nutrition and anything good in the world, and because they still work at Sunglass Hut.

To say that this album fits squarely between just about every cross-section of punk rock history would be an understatement. This is no rectangle, it’s a DODECAHEDRON! Within the confines of these seventeen and a half minutes, you’ll find everything one could hope for in a Punk cassette, including a 56-second ditty about Vietnam and a disappearing/reappearing British accent. Side A (the better of the "Sides" in my opinion) features the melody driven sounds reminiscent of British groups like The Damned or The Undertones, complete with humming organ, addictively crunchy guitar licks, and well placed clapping. You’ll also get the juvenile restlessness of the Ramones or the Buzzcocks. You’ll get the amelodic chaos of The Germs or Negative Approach.

You’ll find lethargic anthems of self-loathing like “Why You Gotta Be Mean To Me” and “Everything I Do is Wrong”, (giving nods to short-form pop maestros like Robert Pollard or The Memories) alongside driving and barking tunes that seem just a few pivotal chord changes away from being Naked Raygun songs, if Naked Raygun were a better band. (NOTE: I attribute this difference to the increase in marijuana potency over the past three decades). Also, it sounds a lot like the Black Lips so definitely check it out if you’re into the Black Lips. I am.

http://goochiboiz.bandcamp.com/

--Travis Long

Monday, April 7, 2014

Michael Saunders / John Sandia

Ey yo, this here be some straight up freshmen college dorm room bromance ambient digital noise, FRESH. Two dudes duding it with sequencers and loopers and all sorts of improvisation!

Michael Saunders

Mac-0-maniac Michael Saunders blows out my walkman's speakers with blabbing hip hop loops and repeating fog horn fuzz bass lines. Reversing and dramatically warping in pitch, sonic borg transmissions are repeated at an unsettling rate while digital microphone feedback drivel vomits on the floor of a desolated canoe lost somewhere in the Atlantic. Gritty and not without a punk rock edge, Michael Saunders isn't afraid to get meditatively aggressive. I think the solo noise act can be very effective, however, listening to how sweet the rhythmic loops Saunders develops with his sporadic synthetic chords and microphone feedback demands the collaboration with something more melodic, analog or shifting in narrative or tone. Saunders' sonic hailstorm develops slowly but surely. However, sometimes I think Saunders is suffering from trying to do too much with too little.

John Sandia

Sandia is initially higher in pitch and breathier. The beginning melody, mixed with radio transmission feedback, sounds like a flute. It's eventually completely obliterated by nonsensical analog noise. The pounding percussion provided is infantile and random. Suddenly some type of electric guitar is present and we're inside the temperament of some one psychologically bleeding. That abandoned canoe, the one I mentioned about on side A? It's drifted into a river of lava. The elfish agents of Satan himself are now laughing at you waving pitchforks from neighboring island coasts.

But my journey into this world wears out its sonic welcome. It ceases to be transcendent once its primal backbone is heard for too long. It becomes background too quickly once it is apparent nothing new melodic will develop most likely. I applaud the low-fi, DIY philosophy of this cassette, but it could use a mixing job. What I believe is great reverberation of found sound could really be cleaned up. Each channel of sound should and could be more defined and identifiable.

The end of this cassette sounds like a guy taking out the trash and some alley cat meowing. Literally. So final verdict: These guys are cool but they shouldn't quit their day jobs yet.

Check it out: www.bluepoles.bandcamp.com
bluepolesrecordings@gmail.com

--Jack Turnbull

Friday, April 4, 2014

TRABAJO / MADRUGAPHA split
(No Kings)

Look at the graphic layout and florescent color palette of this three ink silk screened cassette jacket. It's like visual catnip to the young, eccentric and decadently subversive. What right minded weirdo can say no to a confrontational Halloween orange skeleton bejeweled with hot pint rhinestones? But brace yourself, gentle reader, because the most exciting thing is that the design work isn't even the best part of this release.

Trabajo is an extremely unique melodic act who incorporates well timed synthetic bongo beats, middle eastern scales, elements of noise loops, Gamlans and the subtlest of egg shaker rhythms to make truly trippy instrumental songs. Fans of High Places, Tortoise and Brian Eno will easily be able to get behind this.

Highlights from the five song Trabajo side are Mad at Lovely and Pi Pa Lu, which both sound simultaneously like meditation sessions in a rain forest and getting bliss-ed out forever by the world's most compelling computer screen saver.

Unfortunately, the Madrugapha side B, while admirable in its daring sonic explorations, fails in comparison to the Trabajo side only because it never graduates away from disorienting noise alphabet soup. It resembles mid-career Black Dice, particularly the album of theirs "Beaches and Canyons" . There are looped falsetto moans mixed with wind instruments and what sounds like a music box being cranked at various time signatures. But unlike Beaches and Canyons, Madrugapha doesn't go anywhere. Usually I prefer music that is more loose than structured, but a song like "Purple Swamp" just doesn't really seem to materialize into anything. The freer structure in this case is only acting as an enabler to below par flute solos that sound like they're running out of ideas.

With this said, I am being rather harsh only because the Trabajo side is so considered, complex, contemporary and, let's face it, a more superior and successful release. The Madrugapha side is not without its own minor triumphs. For example, the song Rotovolquismo adds a much needed grit to this album in the form of a looping guitar. But again, the looping becomes static and tiring. I like how various ideas and influences are thrown into Madrugapha's mix, but they happen at a snail pace when compared to a Ryan Trecartin movie. It can give off a meditative vibe, but when that vibe is also kind of menacing, it equals a menacing meditative vibe, which is an oxymoron.

Madrugapha's El Planeta Nubaru is the most successful of his three songs. The song's base is a slowly revolving piano chord progression. On top of all this are whirling keyboard chords that are held out over long periods of time. Again, the song is atmospheric, but this time the mood of the song clicks in and becomes transcendent.

Overall, this is a fantastic cassette. High recommendations.

Here is Trabajo's bandcamp where you can hear his side of the story --- http://trabajo.bandcamp.com/album/trabajo-madrugapha-split-tape

tomentosarecords.com/shop/trabajo-madrugapha-split-no-kings/
nokingsrecord.co/post/66388538245/nk49-trabajo-madrugapha-split-c30
salvitacresta.tumblr.com

--Jack Turnbull
www.jackturnbullstudios.blogspot.com

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

MALPORTADO KIDS
"Message #1: Mi Concha EP"


Here it is folks, the best tape I've heard all year. Malportado Kids is a side project of Providence's incendiary Downtown Boys and they make amped up electronic punk rock cumbia. This will blow your mind and get your ass shaking. You can stream the entire tape here, but maybe you'll consider throwing some money their way....Words fail, just listen if you have ears.