Friday, September 23, 2022

Music Review //
Scout Durwood
"The Kirk Pasich Project ft. Scout Durwood" 

This five song EP from Scout Durwood has a little bit of something for everyone, as it features five distinctly different cover songs.   I love the duality of a cover song in that it can either be a straight forward sound or a different interpretation, but I also enjoy how sometimes the original can be something widely known and other times it is not.   Scout Durwood seems to have found the magic formula when drawing for artists who everyone knows because if you've ever listened to music you have to know at least one of these originals.

"One Woman Army" by Kate Earl starts off this EP with acoustic / Americana rock.  It reminds me of Sheryl Crow and that "Witchy Woman" era of Fleetwood Mac.   If this is a song you do not know the original of, fear not because this takes us into "Unchained Melody", originally by The Righteous Brothers and it maintains that Buddy Holly era of dreamy rock n roll with R&B mixed in.  "Hanky Panky" is a straight up honky tonk cover of the Tommy James & the Shondells song and if you're familiar with country music this EP is likely hitting all the right spots for you.

When I was growing up, there were these commercials for compact discs and I realize that people don't really have compact discs anymore but they also don't really watch commercials either.  Anyway, the commercials would be for a collection like "The Best Rock n Roll of the 1950's" and they'd play a sample of each song as the song titles and artist names scrolled up the screen.   Because of this I feel like I do learned more about music in genres than I should have at that age but I hope with streaming being what it is music listeners today are more open to everything.

I wasn't sure what other song than The Beatles "Help" could be a cover of and while it is them it doesn't have that upbeat rock n roll sound related with that song.  The Scout Durwood version of "Help" is a moving piano-driven cover and it just feels so solemn but also brings new light to an old song.   The EP closes out with "Christmas In L.A.", which is fitting as the EP will be released later this year (November, closer to Christmas) and in the sense of feeling more modern this song is originally by The Killers.   It really does feel like there is something for everyone here to open you up into the world of both Scout Durwood and Kirk Pasich.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Music Review //
Brice Kendall
"The Birdhouse"

With soft acoustics and melodies, Brice Kendall sings about "The Birdhouse", a song which can be taken in a literal sense but also carry a double meaning.   In these harmonies I can hear Jack Johnson, but it is worth noting that whenever I think of Jack Johnson I think of the "Curious George" soundtrack and, to some extent, this does feel like the type of song that could accompany an episode titled "Curious George Builds A Birdhouse".

But this song can be thought of in a different way as well, with lines such as: "Even if I lose this reality / I have found who I need".  When you're a child, there is this whole idea of you growing up and going out on your own and that can be called "leaving the nest".   If parents have all of their kids move out and feel alone they call that "empty nest syndrome".   So, we already have a lot of comparisons with birds probably because they can fly and we cannot.   Who can resist such a good metaphor as telling someone to spread their wings and fly.

As much as those ideas exist- in comparing humans with birds- they only come to that point of leaving the nest and never really talk about what comes next.   In a lot of ways, I feel like that's where this song by Brice Kendall comes in.   You leave the nest, sure, but then you find is essentially the title of the song in the birdhouse.   Now, what that birdhouse means to you can vary from person to person, just as birdhouses themselves can be out in the country or in the suburbs, but it's about finding what makes you happy.

And, in the context of this song, finding what makes you happy seems to be within other people and basically having a family that you can come home to.   That might not be for everyone though.   Maybe you want to live in a cabin in the woods and write poetry and that's okay but that can also be your birdhouse.   This song also has that sound where it could be played for children and it's okay- it's not offensive or something someone would find a reason to want to turn off.  With that in mind, I think we all need to turn it on and discover our birdhouse.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Music Review //
Rhett Repko
"Won't Cry"

The sound of Rhett Repko begins with beats and acoustic guitars.   There is definitely an interesting voice here because of how unique it is.   Just in the vocal sense of singing this doesn't sound like anyone else, but the way the music forms the melodies just crosses over so many different boundaries that it can't be defined.

At the root of it all, this song is pop.  But it takes me back to the 1980's/1990's when there were singers out there who had songs and felt like the solo version of a boy band.   It might be something only I hear, in that Richard Marx sort of way, but it's what I grew up with so it's good for me.   There is also that overall feeling of this being a boy band sound but at the same time it could just as easily be a pop punk band.   

The song itself is about not crying and one line even says: "Crying only makes it worse"  While there was a time when crying wasn't socially acceptable and now we've gotten more in touch with our feelings and it's become healthy to cry, the point of this song seems to be that if you're in a relationship with someone else and you spend more time crying with them than laughing it perhaps isn't the most healthy situation.   

On some underlying level, "Won't Cry" feels like a song that was originally recorded by someone from the 1990's or so and then a modern band with a different style is covering it, not too much unlike those "Punk Goes Pop" compilation albums.    But with those songs you could tell it was a new artist's take on an older song, whereas Rhett Repko just gives this song its own voice and sound which makes it that much more worth hearing.  

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Cassette Review //
"Box of Black"
(Public Eyesore Records)


Through a lot of sharpness and distortion, this cassette opens up sounding like a swarm of bees is ready to attack.   Words can be heard spoken behind the chaos and it all feels quite dark, like a mystical scene out of a movie from the 1990's.  It all swerves in and out like a static panic.   Through all of this harsh static I managed to hear sirens outside and I had to take a moment to make sure they were in fact not part of the song.

We calm down and start with a ringing type of sound, someone is speaking and it just gives away the idea of being in space from the start.   It turns into a slower, more robotic sounding type of distortion now- as if the static is crushing.   In between songs seems to be the only time it gets calm as we come back into the next song with this modem-drone sound with sharpness breaking through.   This sound just feels as if a sharpness is leaking through.   It sounds like chains are dragging now, but in a locomotive rhythm and with alien whirrs behind them.

On the flip side that static now comes through in waves with horns blasting here and there with them.  Higher pitched tones come through now, as if in awe, but it also has this guitar driven way about it.   There is also a slightly haunted sound within this all.   These sounds all come together too now and feel a little bit like slow traffic.   Through the darkness now comes thr plucking of strings in this Old Western sounding way for sure.   Words can be heard hidden in the back of this all as well.

Distortion flows through haunted whooshes and this feels much like we are caught up in a storm now.    A hollow glass tone comes through now as a drone.   It has taken on a much quieter, ambient way now.   Waves are in and out as soft tones drop.   This all still feels a bit eerie and then the vocals behind it all have returned.   Sharpness is coming through again, like feedback in a way which might hurt the ears, but it still all feels so distant and haunted.   This is how it fades out, maintaining that sense of ambient drone mixed with haunted textures.  

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Cassette Review //
German Army
"untitled tape"
(L.I.E.S. Records)


Beats kick through like that Tell-Tale Heart as ambient drone fills the space behind it.   Many electronics come buzzing in now and it feels like we're in outerspace but it also is just so electric it could be like bugs.   The electronics take on this almost Transformers sound and it just becomes this loop of ambient relaxation mixed with a working tone.   The more I listen to this soundscape the more I feel like we are in a simulated dream.  Lasers are blasting and it slowly fades out.  

Whooshes come in next with beats which sound like percussion.  Somewhat glass tones come in with this mix as well and it just feels like we've entered that neon jungle.   It almost feels like a game, ping pong or basketball, but these other tones coming through just make it feel like something else- almost like telephone touch tones- but it just all comes together to create this space vibe.   Onto the next song where the percussion feels more like bongos, we're drifting through spooky whirrs.  

Screeching through now, the percussion becomes louder- abrasive even- but still maintains that acoustic jungle feel about it.  Lasers come distinctly zapping through and this one feels a little bit like a video game.   As this feels like dance it then switches over to another song which feels even more like a dance number with the beats.   With a little bit of rattling now, the next song comes through like the steady bouncing of a ball.   The electronics all loop rather heavily and then we get more minimalist with the next sound.

There is a definite drive here, somewhat heavenly, but also like a video game along the same lines as Double Dragon.   This also takes us to the end of the first side.   On the flip side there is this very distinct type of tone coming through in a percussion way and then those ambient beams shine on through with it.   This all expands and yet somehow can sound haunted as well.   Bigger beats drop in now and they echo.   There are also tones in here like strings but they might not be.   The beats whirr into sounds of ghosts.  Tones come through like magic as this one ends.

What sounds like ahh's comes in now with big distorted beats dropping.  This once again feels somewhat haunted with these slip-sliding beats.   Some more magic can be heard as it opens up at times.   The sound reflects like mirrors.   A different type of whirr now as the percussion comes rushing up like a stampede.    This all ends with this weird almost jazz sound and then we're back into those whirrs from space.   Somehow, the sound of church bells is ringing behind all of this as well.

The percussion comes through so fast and heavy now that it feels like a storm.   It's very wild but then it sort of calms down into this howl.  It pulls back a little bit but returns in that thunderous way before the next track starts up as more of a battle of synths in space.  This drops off and takes us into that Twilight Zone vibe for sure.   Everything goes quiet but then there is a rustling like we're in the woods.  Tones come through like video games or a pinball machine.   The bass thumps.   Ultimately, this all reaches the end and it feels like a true saga.  

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Music Review //
Voice Of Addiction
"Divided States"

One of the first things you have to enjoy about this album- without even listening to it- is the fact that it's called "Divided States".   There is some humor but also some truth to every time I see something done on a federal level but not a States and I wonder "Aren't we the United States? That doesn't seem very United".   There are so many examples of this and the country just feels like it's at war with itself most of the time so how are we expected to help anyone else?  And this album, in many ways, is exactly about that.

Voice Of Addiction offer up songs that are punk rock charged with elements of hardcore, but they also have melodies.  Artists throughout this album that I hear coming out include (but are not limited to) Strike Anywhere, Propagandhi, Rise Against, Against Me!, Misfits and As Friends Rust.  Depending upon what your biggest punk influences are, you might hear something different and that's fine.  That's just timing.  "I Hate It" opens up like a song from a Go Kart Records band while "Bought and Sold" has that ska-punk sound like Suicide Machines and Operation Ivy.  

While "Divided States" is a politically charged force to be reckoned with, the lyrics hit just as hard as the music itself.  Now, I say this is "political" and on the surface it may seem as such, but in a lot of ways this isn't even political and it's just about human rights- the bare minimum of just wanting to be able to exist.   Far too often people mistake things such as cost of living as being political when it doesn't matter if you're liberal or conservative: you're still overpaying for a lot of human needs.

And I think (and hope) that people will listen to this album and be able to see that.  What this album truly represents in so many ways is the great divide that has taken place in this country.  They want it to be "Democrats vs Republicans" and so they create issues for us to fight about.  But really, the "Us vs Them" aspect of this country has always been the government and that 1% which corrupts it versus everyone else.   Voice Of Addiction seems to get that and by having this album out there I genuinely hope it helps more people to see that.   

Music Review //
Beldon Haigh
"Old Blackeye"

I enjoy music that has an upbeat and positive message to it, but I also enjoy music that feels more depressing and has a bleak outlook on life.   Somehow, Beldon Haigh has created a song in "Old Blackeye" which is all of those things.   With the idea being that life is a pain, but also that we should just enjoy the ride because we're all on it together.   There is a sense of apathy on this song but in the most optimistic way.

This rock n roll sound has an infusion of horns or keys and it reminds me of a band such as The Hold Steady or Nathan Leigh & The Crisis Actors.    I just imagine it as this huge, on stage production with a big arena and fifty people on stage but in reality it is likely more simplistic in how the sound is generated.   Giving off that big vibe though is definitely something I like about this song because it takes me back to when rock n roll wasn't afraid to have so much participation.

The chorus of this song starts with: "Life is a pain and a bore / but it's the little things that stop you being more / don't you waste it trying to even up a score" which starts off as somewhat depressing but it is realistic at least.   Not trying to even the score is good advice and then it kicks into: "It's a great big world / It's a great big life to explore" and that really feels like the big takeaway from this song.

For all of the time we have on this planet, it feels like we spend a lot of it on what it is going to seem really petty later on in life.   So even though this song has this way about it being bleak, there still exists this positive overall message of not letting that get to you- or anything get to you- and just going out and living the best life that you can.   That message coupled with this sound is certain to be an anthem for a long time to come.