Wednesday, January 13, 2021
In the year 2021, you have to wonder how many people enjoy life through their own eyes and how many people enjoy it through a screen. I don't mean sitting at home watching television because we're on lockdown either. I'm thinking about people who will go to see a band perform and spend the entire time on their phone recording it. People don't like to just experience things anymore. And to that end, there are also those (I, myself, am guilty of this) who will sit on their phone, scrolling through websites and social media, instead of watching movies or television on the screen in front of them. When was the last time you watched an entire movie without checking your phone? Or even just an episode of a television series.
I believe that to some extent the creators of movies and television know that this is happening and as such they put in a lot of filler. Art- in that way- has become easier to digest because if you end up getting into a fight with someone on Twitter and miss twenty or thirty minutes of the movie you put on, it's okay because you'll still be able to follow the plot-- the moviemakers have seen to it that would be accounted for and to an extent encouraged. It's just something I feel like we don't talk about enough in life right now, with society, and in many ways it has diminished our experiences from what they once were. You know why going to see your favorite band was better in 1997? Because no one was on their phones.
Lore City have created an album titled "Alchemical Task" and while I like to think that this album would require your complete, undivided attention in order to experience it, I truly do feel like it goes to the next level and is beyond even just your full attention. The songs have this percussion which can feel hypnotic and so right away it should really draw you in, have you listening without doing anything else. Sometimes I like to think of music as being good for listening to while walking around outside or even driving, but with "Alchemical Task", I suggest you stay in one place and simply focus on the sounds and nothing else.
The opening song, "Separateness", is almost a mantra for what the rest of the album is to become. To "divide the body from the spirit", there is something to be said about this album in terms of giving it your full focus and thus having this meditation experience where you can try and leave your body and exist on a different plane, as a spirit. For me, when fully focused and aware only of the sound of these songs, this can become surreal, an out of body experience more than any other album I've heard in my lifetime. And when someone says that you don't think about what genre to put it in but rather, hopefully, you just want to hear it and reach that level of existence yourself.
But there is the problem. Going back to the idea that the world is too concerned with living through screens to actually experience something. Can you listen to this entire album without stopping to check your phone? Can you listen to this entire album without being distracted? In some ways, it feels like that's the first test. This album by Lore City doesn't feel like it's for everyone because not everyone is going to share the same attention span needed to listen to it and fully appreciate it. And that's okay. Not everyone needs to have this experience. I like that it feels like it's for only those who are worthy of it. I also really like that we can have art once again which doesn't feel so distracted. Let this album by Lore City be just the beginning.
As I type this review, "Brave Faces Everyone" has been out for nearly a year. I was hoping that some time between the release date and now, I would be able to listen to it while in the right emotional state to be able to write about it. I've come to the realization that I'm likely never going to reach that point so I've just decided to write the review now. The songs on here are equally tragic and fill me with anger. They make me want to cry, but they're also frustrating in a way which does make me want to burn it all down and start over because it often times does feel like we've come too far to try and change everything for the better.
Musically, Spanish Love Songs exists in that realm of bands that I listen to during the colder months (but can also enjoy in summer, just in a different way) Artists like All Get Out, Sorority Noise, Modern Baseball and The Hotelier come to mind. If you're not into any of those bands, you might still enjoy the sound of Spanish Love Songs but I'm not sure you'll get the same thing out of it as someone more influenced by what some think is emo but I really don't know what kind of punk to call it.
While one of the large themes of this album is death, there is also quite a few lyrics about money. There is an overall idea of how we are working to live but the idea of that isn't really living. We're all struggling to get by, living paycheck to paycheck. Whenever I hear these words, I think of my grandfather. My grandparents (my mom's parents) had a farm and they made a good living by simply being farmers. They closed down the farm when I was still a kid, but it's funny how things have changed since they were running it and now when I'm an adult. You can't just work one job for 40 hours a week and make enough money to pay all of your bills any more.
You could take an entire economics course to figure out what went wrong with society. How we went from living the dream of going to college, getting a job and getting married to struggling to pay off student loan debt, working three jobs and maxing out credit cards so that we don't have our cars repossessed. Someone else out there would be able to discuss this all better than I can, but I just know I'm in the thick of it. I'm watching it go by as the world keeps moving but we don't seem to find any real solutions or change. And as I said in that opening paragraph, it's a question of whether or not we can change or if it's too late and we just need to start all over again, wipe the slate clean.
Now I need to hit you with some harsh realities. On the song "Self-Destruction (as a sensible career choice)" there is a line: "It won't be this bleak forever... yeah, right" and as someone who has lived longer than the songwriter I must admit that, no, it does not get better. Life just has this way of getting worse. All of your problems in your 20's go with you into your 30's and all of your problems in your 30's go with you into your 40's and you're just full of more and more problems the older you get. It's not like you hit this magic number of age and everything makes sense and life gets easier. It doesn't. Or if it does, I haven't found it yet.
There are three types of lyrics on this album and they all can be found within each song. On "Losers 2" there is a line about money that says "The cost of living means the cost to stay alive" . When was the last time the people who make the laws actually went out into the world and tried to live off of minimum wage? I feel like things such as rent got more expensive over time but the amount of money we are paid to work didn't go up to properly reflect that. And this also just ties in with the whole idea of working just enough to get by, struggling, not feeling financially stable but rather trying to plan out how to pay $2000 worth of bills on a $500 paycheck.
And then we have the sadness. We have the emotional state of this album. It's the entire last verse of "Generation Loss", which ends with "Thought you were just complaining / But they weren't listening" The mental state of people might not ever be something easy to discuss or fix but the fact that it can be touched upon in many of these songs makes me feel a little bit better- a little bit of I'm not alone and it's not just me. I think that's all we can really do sometimes. Just know we're not the only ones feeling this way.
On the song "Losers" we get the perfect lyric which ties together the idea of being depressed with not making enough money: "My bleak mind says it's cheaper just to die" I realize money doesn't equal happiness, but I'm not asking to live in a mansion and be a millionaire. How about people just have enough money so they don't have to worry about their next meal or being evicted? Money won't buy happiness, but it can take some of the stress off of living. I definitely feel like, especially after listening to this album, that if people didn't have so many financial issues then maybe there wouldn't be so much emotional hardship as well. But all we can do is put on a brave face and pretend that we're fine.
Monday, January 11, 2021
1) What is it like being named All Things Blue with a focus on that color over the summer with the police?
While the discussion on police is one I take very seriously (defund them!), I don’t equate all blue things to cop colors. That thought also lends itself to my opinion on everything being politicized, which I am not in support of.
2) Is the song "Chad" about a specific Chad or Chads in general?
Well it did start as a conversation about our incredibly sweet friend, Chad Tittle, and how he gets a bad rep for having the name. The song isn't about Chad Tittle though, just the "Chad" archetype.
3) Which is the better blue- Avatar or The Smurfs?
Blue Man Group!
4) "Get Bit" was released on December 11, 2020. What is it like releasing music in December when a lot of music journalist types make "Best of the Year" lists and tend to already have their spots filled?
Oh fooey, who looks at those "Best of the Year" lists anyhow? I'm more in it for the listeners than the journalists. We did release 6 singles over the year though! So everyone got a taste of what the album would be like, and right in time for the holidays :)
5) Your sound is one which can switch it up from rock to pop to soul to I don't know what all within the same song. It can have that soul of a great R&B artist and then also feel like something from the 1990's, like Garbage. How do you describe your sound to people who want a more brief description?
I've been sticking with Dream Punk.
6) What place do you feel physical music has in modern music? I know you released "Doomed to Lose" on cassette and CD in 2019. Do you think that's something which we need to see more of or shy away from in the future?
I mean, during this pandemic I don't think I’m selling as much physical and the digital streams are still rolling out ((so I see the benefits of digital)). However, when the world is open and we're touring, concert goers always show support at the merch table. I prefer listening to Vinyl over spotify(etc.) personally and I know I ain’t the only one! There’s something closer to the source about music thats on vinyl or even cassette when done right. Yeah, I definitely don’t want music to be purely digital in the future. No shying away, please.
7) Your song "Buddha & Penelope" has a great music video. Do you feel like music should still be connected to the visual, such as it once was in the days of MTV?
Hey, thanks. I think everyone loves a visual to go along with a song. Generally, our senses crave an image for sounds and vibes. Bring back music television!
8) As an artist on platforms such as Bandcamp and SoundCloud, what are your thoughts on streaming services, specifically how people tend to dislike certain ones such as Spotify? How would you prefer someone listen to your music?
It's tough. I get why so many users choose Spotify since the platform is set up so accessibly, everything is right at your fingertips. Yet, Spotify has the capability of making it a lot better for artists while still remaining inexpensive, and they simply choose not to do so. Rude. I guess physical is always my preferred way for folks to listen but honestly, as long as they're listening I'm pretty stoked.
9) What is it like being from L.A.? As someone who lives on the east coast, I feel like there is a bit of animosity between the coasts.
Hm, well I am actually from Allentown, PA originally. I'll always be an east coaster at heart but, I do really enjoy the west coast too. I think the coast vs coast vibe is only there when it’s fed. Shout out to all the coasts!
10) Final thoughts, shout outs, etc... ???
Control Sector, Kat Bing, Mini Trees, SLUGS, Jake Tittle, Fast Color, DCR POLLOCK, Family Cash, Fast Car Slow Car, The Gooms, tuna nachos!
Following the Deathmatch Drive-In ICW NHB took us to the Deathmatch Circus. This was to be a weekend of not only wrestling but other events which would go with a circus and there were shows scheduled for Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening. While Saturday didn't have the same issue, on Friday it rained- a lot- and this forced some changes to the show. It should be noted that during this time in 2020 we were under the watch of the coronavirus which meant that we couldn't be inside as much, so the idea was to hold this show outside for better social distancing and all.
At the last minute, as even said during this show, this all got changed because of the rain and these matches took place in a barn in front of a crowd wearing masks. Yes, shout out to Larry Legend for saying he'd call out anyone who wasn't wearing their mask because not all shows ran with the same idea but it was really all just so everyone could keep going- the fans, promotions, wrestlers- everyone. By not following those rules, you're hurting everyone.
This show started with Akira vs. Eddy Only, though apparently everyone thought Jimmy Lloyd was coming out vs. Akira. I suppose you could say that Akira had another one of those moments as he was the first one to enter this pit to fight. I don't know what it is about Eddy Only, but it's fun watching him get beat up. There was a nice "Fuck Ohio" chant during this match as well and even though I have no feelings about that particular flyover state either way, it was funny because it was against Eddy Only.
I haven't really seen a lot of Dale Patricks but I will admit it was good to see Casanova Valentine pick up the victory here as if I recall correctly he lost his first three matches for ICW NHB and so breaking out of that slump was good. Jimmy Lloyd would go on to defeat Alex Ocean, who is becoming one of those heels like Eddy Only that I just enjoy see getting beat up. In the main event there was a tag team match won by The Rejects and this really felt like the four biggest names- the core of the roster in ICW NHB- going at it at once in John Wayne Murdoch & Reed Bentley vs. Alex Colon & Eric Ryan.
It might just be that I was at Volume 1 live, but I feel like the next two Volumes were building up to something bigger. This show could have been that but weather pursued. I give ICW NHB all the credit in the world for not just saying "Eh, we're rained out" and calling the whole thing off. Instead they gave us four matches over the course of an hour, a nice sampling of ICW NHB if you will, and I really do believe that this is that moment not just for these wrestlers but for this entire promotion where now it just goes up from here. Now it's all eyes on ICW NHB. Now I'm in this place where I want to sit down and just watch show after show all in the same day. Now I'm hooked.
Monday, January 4, 2021
From a historical standpoint I think that after everything was really shut down in the beginning of 2020 due to the pandemic, this was one of the first shows which ran. I like the way it was set up with the ring and cars as it gave a unique experience that people will look back on years from now and still be impressed. This was also in place of the original second volume of No Holds Barred, which I have a ticket for still, that was to feature wrestlers such as Pagano and, yes, I still hope that happens one day.
Right away, this show opened with Nick Gage vs. Casanova Valentine, a rematch of sorts as you can also find them fighting each other on The Best of Casanova Valentine Blu-Ray DVD available now from Smart Mark Video. I think we all can agree that Nick Gage is a legend at this point, but even though he has some experience under him I like to think of Casanova Valentine as somewhat of a newcomer still, so this is like the old vs. the new. A lot of people also seem to shy away from getting into a ring with Nick Gage (which is understandable) but Casanova Valentine seems to embrace it.
While ICW can be thought of as hardcore/death match in their style we sometimes forget that the No Holds Barred idea can also be good for those who like to submit people. There is a real MMA feel to Dominic Garrini and I enjoyed seeing him against Tony Deppen here. Props to Tony Deppen for lasting as long as he did in this match.
Reed Bentley and Akira were the third match of the night and this was my first time seeing Akira. I watched this show back when it aired and then kind of zoned out on wrestling except for a few things, one being that P.O.R. Wrestling Hardcore Grand Prix, which was my second time seeing Akira fight. This show was the match where Akira just hits this insane jump off of a roof. I like Akira though because he looks like he could mix it up MMA style, with ninja skills, but also he's not afraid to take a light tube to the face.
Matt Tremont pretty much did the death match version of a squash to Brandon Kirk, which was nice because I don't think anyone likes Brandon Kirk. The last two matches featured four men- Alex Colon, Eric Ryan, John Wayne fucking Murdoch and SHLAK- who I think will all go on to be featured on future shows and really pave the way for what the promotion of ICW is to become. On Volume 1, we had names like Low-Ki, Homicide, Tessa Blanchard and Killer Kross who didn't return (and they may some day, when Tessa gets out of Mexico) but I think of them as being more like special attractions to some extent. I see these four men in the final two matches as the main roster stays.
I'm not sure how things would be different without the pandemic happening. I imagine a world where I went to No Holds Barred Volume 2 and some other wrestling shows and then everything just took off from there. But I will say that during this pandemic I don't believe any company has run more shows than ICW has- at least not ones which can be seen on IWTV. And so, for that, I think things have been different. After seeing No Holds Barred Volume 1 though I'm glad it feels like there are more eyes on ICW now though.
To me, one of the biggest problems in professional wrestling is standing out- making yourself different from everyone else. And people argue back and forth all the time about whether WWE or AEW is better but to me they're the same. They do the same type of shit. I like to see the type of wrestling where you go "This is ~fake~ but how the hell do you fake that?" And I just think, like the name No Holds Barred implies, it's nice to see people beating the shit out of each other in a minimal sense. It definitely helps ICW stand out and it definitely makes them one of my favorite promotions to watch right now.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, my first thought about being laid off and stuck inside my apartment was that now I would have time to catch up on things that I might have missed: music to listen to, movies I hadn't watched and series I could binge. (I also read a lot of comic books in those first few months) One of the series I binged was "Locke & Key" on Netflix because I had the comic book series quite a while back and always wanted to see the show just didn't have the time. I like to save a lot of television watching (including movies) for winter time when I go outside less. At the end of the one of the episodes, the song "You're Somebody Else" is being played and that made me go down the rabbithole of who the artist was and ultimately listening to this album a lot throughout the rest of the year.
"Baby, It's Okay" begins with the song "Born In The Slumber" which is this brooding anthem that includes melody and bass. This is definitely mood music as it will set the tone for wherever it is played. The lyrics of: "We were born in the slumber / nobody cared about us" set the tone for this album as well, as it can feel dark and hopeless through a lot of it- especially in the sound- but by the end I think the lyrics do eventually become hopeful and that you can go through this experience of feeling down when first starting it but after you get to the end you feel a little bit better or at least not as bad.
If you read any bio about Flora Cash it will tell you that they are the duo of Shpresa Lleshaj and Cole Randall. One thing I found funny when searching for Flora Cash was a commonly asked question on Google was whether or not Flora Cash is the daughter of Johnny Cash. While I know that isn't the case I like to think it does have some influence on how people hearing this music- like there is some Johnny Cash in here on some level. But my point of them being a duo is that sometimes a song can have only one of them singing while other times they can both sing on the same song. What I really like is on "Honey Go Home" how they sing the same verse but at different times. They really push those boundaries when it comes to having two voices.
During the song "You Love Me" I am first reminded of the band Blue October, which is something I will hear at various points during this album. There are some piano keys in here and deep synth waves on "Electricity", which is a song you must hear just to experience the way in which that titular word is pronounced as it really not only will make you rethink what you know about music but also what you know about language. On "Honey Go Home" they both sing the line (at different times) "You know I love you but the truth is you were difficult" and I just feel that one. I feel like the fact that they both sing it at different times is a representation that, yes, you can say it to someone else but they can also say it right back to you.
This album just hits me in a different way. "I Wasted You" is a big anthem while "Missing Home" has those guitar notes like folk but there are also big pop explosions. From what I can tell this album is mostly digital, but if it was released as a record I like to imagine that "In A Little Bubble" would be where the flip side would start. On a side note, it also pains me that the best way for me to listen to this album is through Spotify but we make sacrifices for those we love. The lyrics on "Still Alive" are inspiring. The words: "I'm not gonna tell you it's okay / or to not complain / or that it's a phase / but you're not insane" are some of the most brutally honest when it comes to mental health and more people need to hear these because I feel like there are so many out there who could relate with this and channel it for the better.
"For A While" is stripped down acoustic and I really like that as it feels like a piece of the rest of these songs but now we're just hitting bare bones. "You're Somebody Else" hides at the second to last spot which means either they didn't expect this to be the radio song which it became (yes, I've heard it on the radio) or they just want you to work to get to it, although with Spotify you sadly don't have to listen to ten other songs and you can skip right to it. But if you just put on "You're Somebody Else" without listening to all of the weight of the ten songs which came before it then you're not really getting the true experience. It's so much more meaningful and fulfilling to listen to this album from start to finish, especially up until the last song- "Love Is In The Small Things", which has those sad pianos.