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 Archives)


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