Thursday, May 28, 2020

Music Review //
Gabriel Birnbaum
"Nightwater" //

As the world went into lockdown in the year 2020, I myself was laid off and sent into my own lockdown on April 1st, 2020.   A week later, Gabriel Birnbaum released this album.    I first listened to this album through earbuds, while at the laundromat, right after it came out.   There is a post rock sense to some of these songs, which when you combine it with the fear and anxiety of people around you just creates such a moving picture.   I tend to relate music with images, even if I have to create them myself, but this one just seemed to so easily fit with the state of the world and could be seen just by looking out your window.

Sometimes these can feel like sound collages- pieces of sound put together to form an overall sound- but they still feel like songs, more deliberate in their delivery than just putting together scraps and hoping for a balanced meal.  The sad, solemn stretches of the third track provide you that idea of floating through the world aimlessly, without a care but not in a good way.   You want to have a sense of hope- not just now, but in general- and at times we may not feel that way and I think these songs can also reflect that.

The fourth song takes a turn into something between country and the beach, that line where Elvis Presley meets Johnny Cash.   It's dreamy and so it can help to lift your spirits while you watch all of the world go by in seemingly slow motion these days.   "Coupe glass, half full" on the other hand brings out some beats and smooth jazz-like sounds which remind me of that Phil Collins era of music.   It brings me back to simpler times, when I was younger and still felt a different sense of happiness. 

"Two small chipped mugs, turquoise" is the seventh song and it reminds me of "When The Saints Go Marching In" at times, then it slides into the next song which has a cool breeze feeling to it.   The ninth song has that Louie Armstrong waltz to it I can't quite explain, but it has an upbeat quality to it which makes me feel hopeful.   This goes into the calming, meditation strings on the tenth song. 

"Stack of unread books next to the bed" (which is really a way we all should live) has this outerspace lullaby way about the post rock of it.   At times, I do feel like I could peacefully fall asleep while listening to it, though it also does provide me with a bit of optimism, which I feel we could all really use right now.   The next song picks up with a bit more rhythm, closer to soul yet also it could be the end theme to a television series in the 1980's.

By the end of this, on the last two songs, the tones fade in and out and then it feels like we're walking through a town in the 8bit Old West.   It really makes me wish they'd update "Oregon Trail", and though the soundtrack to it might not exactly be this last song I imagine Gabriel Birnbaum could do a good job on creating a song for it.    When I started listening to this, I felt a sadness for the world and the music reflected that.   By the end of it, and as I sit here months later, I feel a sense of hope and that shines through in the music as well now. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

That's My Jam! // Volume 1 (April 20th, 2020)


I've been inside on lockdown for three weeks as I type this introduction.  I'm listening to a lot more music now and not just for review.  So inside of "That's My Jam!" you will find little paragraphs, maybe only a few words or maybe just a photo or two of what I've been listening to without going into a full length review.   Who knows how long this will last but perhaps one day we will look back upon it fondly.

/01/ Mute Duo "Lapse In Passage" (American Dreams)

This was somewhat of my inspiration for That's My Jam!  There are really cool guitar riffs in here with percussion and though there are other sounds those are two of the main focus sounds.   It feels like we're in the desert at times and other times it just builds like post rock.   It winds and drives to where "Canopy Bells" even brings out some ideas of surf rock.   Cymbals crash and I dig the darkness on "Overland Line".   By the end of this one you'll hear some of those bells and glass sounds like Jay Peele and this is a guitar-driven instrumental adventure which you should take if you have the time.

/02/ Grouplove "Healer" (Atlantic)

I feel like I heard one of these songs, perhaps the first one, on the radio one morning back when I was going to work.  Still, I've been a fan of Grouplove for a while and this upbeat sound is one which we should all be playing through our speakers right now if only to pretend like we can be outside in the sun.

/03/ Peggy Sue "Vices" (Kartel Music Group)

Though country at its soul, there are blissed out rock n roll sounds within like Buddy Holly and that era of music.   "Validate Me" can kick in a little bit distorted like grunge but for the most part this has a pure country sound to it which I do not mind.   This has gone on several times before I started this grouping of tiny reviews and I will continue to listen to it after as well.

/04/ Sin City "Welcome to Sin City"

Some good old fashion rock n roll, just like Marty McFly invented.

/05/ Stabbing Westward "Dead and Gone"

I'm not sure how long it has been since I listened to new music by Stabbing Westward (their albums from my youth remain in heavy rotation) but here is an EP that came out at the beginning of 2020 and has remained heavy in my playlist because it really is on par with everything I've heard from Stabbing Westward before: heavy and electronic.   Let's thrash!

/06/ Charli Adams "Good At Being Young EP"

This reminds me a little bit of Lana Del Rey and I like that.

/07/ Sega Bodega "Salvador" (Supernature)

This is some great electronic hip hop, sort of like Twenty One Pilots at times.  I really enjoy the line: "I love when you tell me you'll change just cause I changed the locks"  This gets mixed up, chopped up, all of that and I do enjoy it but if you're looking for something like this in a more pure sense where it's not so manipulated might I suggest...

/08/ Caribou "Suddenly" (Merge Records)

/09/ THICK "5 Years Behind" (Epitaph)

Such a fun rock album and they have a song called "Your Mom"!

/10/ Puig Destroyer "S/T" (No Sleep)

Because I miss baseball.

/11/ Tropical Fuck Storm "Suburbiopia b/w This Perfect Day"

Two songs of noisy rock with elements of punk yet also somehow they create these melodies which feel like a flower growing out of concrete. 

/12/ Good Looking Friends "The Light of the Well"

A little bit of Ben Folds, a little bit of emo, a lot of what I like.

/13/ Moor Jewelry "True Opera" (Don Giovanni Records)

The first run of this cassette sold out so quickly that they made a second one.  This is noisy punk and I love it.

/14/ U.S. Girls "Heavy Light"

Yes, I'm listening to this, but so is everyone else, right?

/15/ Lil Dicky "Professional Rapper" (Commision Records)

After watching the first season of "Dave" on Hulu (and loving it) I decided to look into the music of Lil Dicky, which brought me to this album (Which is apparently from 2015) because it's on Hoopla which makes it so much easier for me to listen to it than on Spotify.   Still, as much as I enjoy this album both lyrically and musically I feel like there are a lot of parts where it had to have been compared with Eminem, right?  So I do listen to this album, waiting for that next album to come where Lil Dicky can break out and be Lil Dicky, but hey, he has five years so I'm going to use this (and "Dave") as a way to launch myself further into his library.

/16/ Kitten "Goodbye Honeymoon Phase" (The Century Family)

"Memphis" is such a great way to start this EP but am I hearing the dialup connecting in the background of the chorus?   This is pop, but it's also a lot of fun.   "ME" has these guitars and just reminds me of P!nk in the best possible way.    Now, I don't want to overthink these songs (and neither should you) *but* let me overthink these songs, okay?   On the beginning of this EP one of the lyrics is about being 24 years old and then the last song is "Friday's No Fun Anymore".   First off, if you think Friday is no longer a fun day at 24 then I'm not sure what to tell you to expect for when you turn 34 (and yikes for 44) but man I'd kill to be in my 20's again (only not really because I was dumber when I was younger)  Also, there is a line where singer Chloe Chaidez says she wishes it was like 2004.  Yeah, quick Google search reveals that in 2004 she would have been 10 years old so what the hell.   I hope this has been addressed somewhere else before now but I'm not looking it up.

/17/ Cowboy Junkies "Ghosts"

I really feel like I best know Cowboy Junkies for their song "Sweet Jane" (as do most) and yet I often times come through and drop them as an influence in other music I review.   "Ghosts" is one of the first times I can recall listening to an album by Cowboy Junkies more than once and from the killer-psych guitar riffs to pianos to softer folk side of the songs this is just such an excellent album through and through.  

/18/ Ryan Pollie "Live At The Grove"

Five live songs from Ryan Pollie (which don't really sound too live) can be just the thing to get you through an afternoon which feels particularly long.

/19/ Hey, Chels "Everything Goes"

When I first started listening to this my earbuds were somehow not fully plugged into my laptop and I could hear the music but the vocals were so distant in the background, like they were buried behind the rest of the sound.  I thought it was an interesting sound but also seemed a bit off.   Once I took the earbuds out and listened to this one through speakers it all changed.    In some ways, I want to hear the pop within this rock because it has such pure melodies, but at the same time it just feels too loud to be in that genre.  

/20/ Ani Glass "Mirores"

A heavenly voice with those "Knight Rider" synths.   The first time I listened to "Peirianwaith Perffaith" I heard the talking behind it and thought an ad had opened up somewhere on my laptop and started playing.    This reminds me of Polly Scattergood at times and of No Doubt at other times.   Somewhere between pop and synthwave, the overall sound here is just one of bliss, whichever tag you prefer to put it in front of to create the appropriate genre.  

As I type this ending, I've started this a month before I'm posting it.   Started on the 20th, posted on the 20th and 20 different pieces of music.  Will I do this again?  Maybe.  Maybe I've already started it.

Cassette Review //
"Subconscious Of The Sinister Solitarian"

£5 //
Edition of 25 //

This one starts with some quiet awe and then it builds into these various screeches and whirrs which echo in the background.   There is a definite haunted feeling to it right away and it sticks the way you would imagine ghosts dancing around a location in which they are bound to forever.    Creaks and moans give this the setting of a haunted house.    A synthwave somewhat like a lightsaber comes through now and it feels like the room has just opened up with growls and snarls.  

Quieter and calmer now, it feels as if the beast might come to a rest as the first track ends.   A magical sharpness pierces through now with those fog-like airs behind it.   I feel like we're walking through the woods where it has a lot of fog and we're certain danger is out there, hiding, waiting for us, but we're just not going to be able to prove it until it's too late.   It feels like there is some industrial banging, whiirs and sharpness still and then it has this grand sense of just being haunted in general.

Sometimes it feels like this one howls and when that magical sharpness strikes it can be frightening.    The way this can drone though makes me feel like we're in a video game where the soundtrack just keeps repeating because we're not moving- the character is just standing there idle- and in this particular scene we're in a graveyard.   It can kick in pretty heavy at times as well, like thunder crashing down when you're trying to sleep in the silence, and I think it just adds to that scary movie vibe this all gives off.

There is a sense like this will turn serious and let's just say that using the word "grave" in all of its meanings would be an apt way to describe this.    There is a sharp electronic pulling now which I'm not sure how to describe but it makes for a cool sound, perhaps like a gun being shot off at rapid fire.   Though it does eventually calm back down and feel like it's just living under the floorboards and isn't so much in your face.   A static now makes me feel like we're being shocked and a voice is talking about all humans.   

On the flip side we open things up with some notes- which sound like an acoustic guitar- and there is a post apocalyptic sense to this as well.   That moaning menace is behind this one as well, as it quickly dives back down into those depths of being scared.   It feels a bit like the song is falling apart but it still feels haunted so I can't really blame it-- no one knows how they will act in these situations until they are faced with them.   In some ways though, this collection of strings can feel like wind chimes blowing around and making the sounds they tend to make.

It feels now as if we are climbing up somewhere and it's almost like a carnival ride.  How many times have you watched a scary movie where the characters have ended up in a carnival situation (usually the fun house) and have to fend for their lives?  I am reminded of that right now.   Whirring now, it twists and turns like a record player with a warped record playing.   Though it appears as if there are more sounds now this can be as cold and hollow as the first side still.

Creeks and shrieks make this one have a certain way about it.    Though not easy to describe, the sound has the same pace as the air being let out of a balloon, a little bit at a time, but it has a higher pitched sharpness to it.    Also, it can sound like the electronic creeking of something old and wooden just the same.   We calm down now into the next song, though it does slowly begin to build back up with those haunted waves.

A magical component shines through, not too much unlike the key in that MOTU movie I wish I could find to watch for free but somehow only seems to be on the pay services (One day I shall own the blu ray!)  A little bit of distortion comes through now as well, as if from an electric guitar.   Darkness washes over The Dude.   Back into that magical realm we go.   Slowly now, we ride the ocean to our next destination. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Music Video Monday // 05/18/20
feat: Beauty Pill, Blue Canopy, Cut Copy, Ellen Siberian-Tiger, Lauren Rocket, Michelle Blades, Orpine, Pezzettino, Very Very & Walt Disco

[Editor's Note: I started this back when I was first put on lockdown.   This is the result of countless hours spent not only watching music videos but also listening to songs and albums.   The end result doesn't seem to fully reflect the effort which was put into this project and so it may not happen again,]


I really like the new album by Beauty Pill (which is available as a cassette as well!) and this video seems less like a reflection of the song and more like a tribute to William Eggleston but I suppose the two don't have to be mutually exclusive.    So while you listen to this song- which stands well on its own- you can also feel like you're being educated, which is never a bad thing. 

Blue Canopy "656"

This is such a fun song and the animated music video which goes with it just matches that so well.   The colors in here are just such a world that I maybe don't want to live in but would at least like to see Blue Canopy create more videos within. 

Cut Copy "Love Is All We Share"

Sometimes music videos can feel like they are simple while really being complex.  I really enjoy this song and it may feel like you're just watching bubbles the entire time, but the way they form different shapes leaves a lot to be interpreted.   At times I feel like they form this almost human-like shape.   It's a trip to watch, like an old PC screensaver, but the song is also a lot of that Phil Collins drumming goodness.  

Ellen Siberian-Tiger "If A Tree Falls in the Forest"

This is a video where I really liked the song (and I keep listening to songs by Ellen Siberian-Tiger and I'm just enjoying them all so much) but then I watched the video and it's a story.    It's not a video where you can put it on and pay attention to the song and the visuals at the same time.  I highly recommend being familiar with the distorted grunge-like quality of the song before investing into whatever is happening in the "Invisible Man" type of video.  But yes, I love this video because both the audio and visual of it seem to hide such deeper meaning.  

Lauren Rocket "Rattlesnake"

Big bass on the song will hook you in but the visuals such as skateboarding will make you not only listen but watch.   This does everything that a music video should do and more.  

Michelle Blades "Amor sin destino"

Such a stellar example of when music and video come together to exist on the same level.    I love Michelle Blades and I love everything about both this song and video.

Orpine "Two Rivers"

Orpine is about to have an album of the year so to be able to watch a video for their song "Two Rivers" is quite interesting in how all of these musicians come together to play and then at the end just kind of leave.    It's a nice concept and the song should definitely be on your radar.  

Pezzettino "Somewhere North of Pescadero"

Soft pianos with a voice so strong.   Images of nature and colors in squares and rectangular stripes.   This is such a relaxing song but also the visuals make me feel at ease as well.  

Very Very "Daydreams"

Moderately paced song with visuals that can be both trippy and just beautiful in such unrealistic ways.   This is a song that will get stuck in your head but at the same time you'll be thinking of it with the video once you've watched this.  

Walt Disco "Cut Your Hair"

This is a fun song and right now I really wish that I could cut my hair.  I don't think Walt Disco knew the impact a song like this might have had when they were making it, but it just really does make me want to cut my hair though I am no longer bold enough to do it myself.  

Friday, May 15, 2020

Cassette Review //
cop funeral
"Hot Lonely Singles"
(Already Dead Tapes)

$6 //
Edition of 100 // //

Melodies begin this cassette inside a sea of distortion.    It feels like it could be this harsh song with the air swirling around but there is a video game tone sound that goes with the distortion blasts and the two sounds seem to offset each other.   The distortion really is in the front of this though, with those tones being somewhat buried behind it and not as prominent.   This builds in a broke helicopter way, a glitch way and then the deep distortion just drones with only slight waves.   The melody has gone from those tones into the distorted synth somehow.

After some looping we shift gears and go a bit higher, which is something which can play tricks on your ears.   It begins to sound like a video game car revving up behind a cloud of distortion.   Then the bomb is dropped.    I feel like more of guitar sounds are coming in now and then the bass beats are dropping in a loop.  Screams come out now, though they might be human but they might be machine.   This song has a futuristic sound to it and when I try to place it into a realm of movies I come up with that live action "Super Mario Bros." one (Which despite being nothing like the video game was still pretty cool)

Quieter now, the doom lurks and slithers like a snake.    This goes on in a way which can hypnotize you and though these songs might not be related, I feel like after this song drops you off of a cliff the next one has that pacing like you're trying to climb back up.    There is also somewhat of a pinball glitch sound within here as well.    Up and down the ringing of the drone behind the distortion goes.    As it rings and rings like an alarm then it just stops and the silence plays tricks on your ears.

Sad strings now come in with sharpness.    This calmly floats, like in the ocean.   The next song comes on with this glitching sound but it just chops through in a loop.  It's like a laser blast taken and diced up, sliced up and burnt to a crisp.   It comes back with these little whirrs behind it and I feel like this is set on some other planet with aliens.  I am thinking of the film "The Phantom Planet".   The tones get higher and it feels as if there are sirens in the background of them. 

Deep tones drop in now and I'm thinking of Scooby-Doo.  I think of Scooby-Doo a lot lately and I'm not sure why.   Beats slowly come in but they give it more of a haunted sound that anything else.   Notes softly bounce now like Pong while the whirrs are crashing around.   It almost feels like a heartbeat and then it all just comes to an end.

On the flip side we open up with an audio clip from a self-help cassette which I can dig because I have several self-help cassettes just because I think they're neat.   This takes us into a grinding beat which reminds me of The Prodigy.    There are some higher pitched squeals in here as well.     Quieter once again now, this song seems to expand and have somewhat of a FNL vibe to it, somewhat like fireflies even.   This is soothing now, peaceful.

Slowly we drive through this loop of sludge and then the next song comes in with higher guitar sounding notes, like we're about to play the national anthem Hendrix-style.   A moderate grinding produces beautiful tones behind it, somewhere between guitar and piano.   It has that steady hum of something like a lawnmower but then those magical tones behind it like something out of the "MOTU" film or when a character in a movie from the 1980's realizes what they must do to set everything right.

That song just sort of cuts off and we go into tones which sound like glass in outerspace.   It feels like we're on some kind of wonderful carousel ride now.    A loud cloud of distortion comes in now.  We've gone from a nice little melody to just flat out noise.   The distortion twists, bends, transforms and just begins to pound away.   The way this song lifts up and drops down I feel like I've heard it before and I'm not sure if it's because it's a demo and a different version came out later or if it's just because I'm getting used to Cop Funeral now because of how many times I've listened to this cassette (and the others also by Cop Funeral)

A sigh brings out the ups and downs of synth whirrs.   It's almost like a siren as it loops around.  Loud distorted crashes now.    A melody like an urgent ringtone now.  It kind of distorts like the way the speakers shake when it gets loud.   It really opens up now as well.   There are bells in here as well, like the way you would hear from percussion, and it just flows in such a magical and uplifting way. 

Cassette Review //
"Sleep Running"
(Crass Lips Records) // //

Back in the early '00's there was this great scene of music coming out of MA and a few of the artists can be found in this band Baklavaa.   I immediately hear artists who you may not remember (but should look up) like Garrison and The Lot Six.   There is also a certain amount of The Casket Lottery in here, if you want to step out of the MA scene.   These guitars on this first song just run so fast and with so many layers it doesn't seem possible for the bass and drums to keep up, yet here we are-- they just make it work.

"A Thousand Dinners" has vocals hidden behind this guitar wall and metal-like bass lines.   This really brings out thoughts of The Lot Six to me- which is great because I think more bands need to try and have an influence on their earlier work- but I also hear bands like Christiansen and Cloud Nothings.    There may or may not be another band or ten I hear in here and can relate this with but that would only be because in 2000~ish I was all about bands who sound like this (And I still am, they just seem to be harder to find now)

Such complex noise rock and "Mouthing" just hits like a punch in the jaw.   I'm hearing a little bit of Coheed in here as it breaks down instrumentally.    Within this all, I somehow feel like there is some grunge, which maybe you can't hear on the surface as well but the more you listen to it, you'll hear it, like with the plodding drums on "Winter".    The vocals feel distorted but this just grinds like Mudhoney and then I'm pretty certain I hear a sax in here as well, which is a nice touch.

The way this can go from the trippy psych loops into a faster paced distorted punk is not something many artists can pull off- which is why I feel like a lot of them don't even bother trying- but this is done so well and I'm so excited for it every time I hear it.    This is how the first side comes to an end and it leaves me with more questions than answers perhaps but I do so enjoy it. 

Guitar notes drop like a dream, there are some loops and this just has a pure and beautiful sound to it as the flip side opens up with an instrumental number.   And there is something to be said here about physical media because when listening to digital you can't experience the divide in the sound- as this side starts up somewhat different than the one before it- as you can with a cassette or even a record. 

The pace has slowed down and gone from distorted chaos to a melodic indie rock like They Might Be GIants fused with The Cure somehow.    Then with a single cymbal crash, we're right back into the noise and destruction which I fell in love with on the first side.  But it was nice for Baklavaa to sort of ease us back into this sound on the second side of this cassette.   We're really getting into that Garrison territory now that I love so much. 

This all breaks down into a distorted guitar riff which is just building in a dark, metal way.    Electronic wind chimes come out now and you can hear waves crashing behind it all.    These type of sounds are why I feel like this one starts off a certain way- reminding me of past bands I love- but it somehow just manages to find its own way through as well because despite all of the influences I've named it truly does capture a sound all its own.

Record Review //
L.A. Dies
"Drifting Still"
(Harding Street Assembly Lab)

$18 // //

L.A. Dies is not a band to be taken lightly.   You could think that maybe you'll go for a run around your neighborhood and put this on digital or put the record on while you clean up around your house, but the truth is that these songs will consume all of your attention as soon as you press play, as they should.    At the heart of all of the sounds within these songs, you must remember more than anything else how powerful they truly are.   This makes them perhaps more engaging than any other album I have ever heard and rightfully so.

"Once It All Settles" is the opening track on this record and while it builds it also has this dreamy quality to it.   One of the strongest components to this music which you will hopefully retain throughout the entire album is that drumming.    This could easily be in a genre of -gaze, shoegaze even and if you look into something like The Blog That Celebrates Itself you'll find a number of artists with which L.A. Dies could be friends with (particularly, they did this covers album of "Nevermind" and I hear some hints of Nirvana in the songwriting styles of L.A. Dies)

"Tend To Do" has these ah's behind it like bubbles but it has a slow dance synthwave feel overall.    These songs have somewhat of that Anna Nalick radio way about them and, no, I will never stop loving or name dropping Anna Nalick.    How this can be so intense and yet so sad at the same time is something I feel like only L.A. Dies knows.   "New" comes on with a nice drive and I can only compare the guitar riffs with The Cure though I know it is something else.

Lyrically, the way "Feels Really Small" sounds make me think of Polly Scattergood but once that song opens up that comparison for me it sticks and I can hear pieces of Polly Scattergood in all of these songs (which is definitely not a band thing at all)   "Even Now" opens up with that post-something sound which I believe brought the magic to a band such as Thursday.   "Azalea" somehow dives into this big FNL build before "Fathoms" takes us into a darker build and at the end of the song you can hear water.

Strings now open up the final song, "Circle", and this is really one of those albums within an album as "Circle" itself is just such a huge song and after you hear it you will not only come to the end of "Drifting Still" but your life will be forever changed.