Monday, May 20, 2019

Cassette Review //
Unpure Impulse
"Young Hegelian"
(Clear Lake Media Solutions)

$2 // //

Distortion comes screeching through and then shifts into these gasp-slip beats which make it sound like we're going to some place both electronic and dark.   It's a cross between NIN and something from "Resident Evil".    The beats then kick in and really begin to grow into pure electronica bliss.   Heavy breathing now.    Somehow it helps to keep the rhythm as the drums come clapping in.

Though it can groove like a ringtone it can just as easily pick up that pace like "Run Lola Run".    As we drift off into drums and beeps it can also feel quite hollow.    The beats increase the pace and this is just crazy good.   You can kind of hear a voice and then it gets into this place where it feels like a car starting only with a drone.   This somehow feels mechanical.

Shots are fired into a sea of destruction.   It's building with trill but has this steady pace to it.   Electronics like Transformers slip in and really pick things up right before the end of Side A.    On the flip side static whirrs and steady beats create a rhythm you can really move to, like something out of "Trainspotting" perhaps. 

It feels like we're being chased by a monster.   The drums are getting closer to steel.    It just grows into such a great dance number now.   If you don't get up and move to this something is wrong with you.    There is this great bass line and some dings come in to give the music a more serious feel now, like we're working against the clock to stop a bomb from going off or something.

The way the static comes through and then turns into this bass line feels like a video game.  A little bit of "Knight Rider", a little bit of "Fatal Fury" right now.    Into a more squeaky electronic sound now with drum machine beats paving the way.   It begins winding like the Walkman is running out of batteries, I hear what might be a horse and then words come in like hip hop.    It gets into this laser bit with the drums increasing and then comes to an end, just as wild and fantastic throughout the entire time. 

Cassette Review //
Gretchen Snakes
"Family Life"

$10 CAD //
Edition of 100 // //

Sharp electronics, almost like glitching, start this one off as there is this feeling of almost a scraping as well.    These sounds are somewhere between wind chimes and magic.  A louder synth drone comes in now, taking over the sound completely.   It gets a little wavy, a little bit winding, but it seems to stay the course as if launching us off into space.

A loud drop now, into some distorted void, and then the guitars come in with notes like fun rock music.    It feels like it could be punk, but also something like Tora Tora Torrence or The Lot Six.    The guitar riff just makes this song as the drive behind it just feels so cool.     This is just the wildest of the dark rock n roll right now.    I'm getting these Alice In Chains vibes even.

The pitch can change, but it loops on this guitar and it's just something that even the best of the bands with vocals can accomplish so hearing it with this guitar taking over for the vocals makes it that much better.    Things get distorted now, dropping off into the madness, as small twangs come through within it.   A classic rock vibe caught up in the chaos.    Once again though, we end up dropping even lower now.

This feels like we've gone into this place where we could be on "The Crow" soundtrack- just that level where it feels almost goth.    It's sort of along those lines of NIN but there's something else in here and it feels haunted, somewhat scary.   To think of it in contrast to how the guitar was working earlier as well just makes it that much impactful.   Having these songs stand alone is an accomplishment of themselves but considering the talent when grouped together is simply remarkable.

On the flip side we're in this dark space that makes me think a beat will come in and start off a song from NIN's "The Fragile".   This takes us into more melodic guitar notes, which are a less distorted version of Hendrix even though the strings seem to bend.   What I like about this cassette as well, as I think about Hendrix, is that while I've heard guitar-based music before this doesn't have a direct link to them so Gretchen Snakes seems to forging their own sound.

It can begin to drone now, with that sort of distorted sound, which makes me feel like Hendrix, which is a comparison the song has really grown into.    The notes just seem to ride up and down, distorted bombs dropping in a hollow, pale sky.    It's this echoing drone that just encompasses everything.    The notes pierce through now, cutting sharper than before.   Rocking chords now with the banging of the drums bring us into something like what we heard closer to the beginning of this cassette. 

The guitar is just ringing through now.   Scorching.    Static bombs drop.  The synth drones.   It feels like an error drone, but then you can also hear how this is actually guitar notes as they begin to slightly change.   It goes back to that distorted-ringing feeling like Hendrix though and it's just so full of melody.    By the end it just seems to cut off in one grand swoop. 

Cassette Review //

$7 //
Edition of 100 // //

A buzzing comes through, somewhere between a bugzapper hum and a glitch.    This turns into this raw, screeching distortion which does sound like more of a glitch than the previous sound, as it's just this error message stretching out, annoying my neighbors as I increase the volume.   Full on guitar distortion enters now and this one could blow your speakers.   It's shaking.    Whirrs come in and it just has a static drone backing to it.   Sharper now, it pierces the ears when the earbuds are in.

It whirrs in and out like the start of that one song on "In Utero".   I feel like it's taking off now, like a jet engine.    It gets a little deeper now, the revving and then the glow of the glass.   They alternate and this will really mess with your ears in the best possible way.   It has such an electric charge to it.    A crackling now.    It pick up, like lift off, and has this hyper modem sound before it drops down into a more minimal bass.

Screeches take us into this death march that is just insane.    Sharpness now, like a hiss.  A crack, like a whip.  The bomb drops into distortion.   The static is cracking like someone is stomping through it.   It can also just feel like a glitching video game, one with lots of battles.   I'm reminded of the Atari Star Wars game for some reason.   A slow, electric buzz drops into the bass now.  It's got the drone of a lightsaber and it feels like it's cutting.   Screeching like the tea kettle whistle now.

On the flip side we start with tones which give me chills.   It turns into this eerie sense of tones, like something out of "Friday the 13th".    It's that suspense that at any moment something or someone could come stabbing through the sound and into your ears where you live.    It stretches and then sinks down low into this distorted, deep bass type of video game vibe where it seems all things go to die.   I love listening to music that I feel like will upset my neighbors.

Back into that eerie calm and I'm feeling a bit on edge again.   For some reason this also makes me think of Scooby-Doo.    Wouldn't it be rad though if Scooby-Doo crossed over with Jason Voorhees?  If that happened already, someone would've told me, right?  But, I mean, Scooby-Doo typically deals with such innocent crimes, imagine the gang being in a movie where people are being sliced up into pieces and the such.  If this hasn't happened I feel like it needs to now since I put it out there into the world.

A dinging now, a ringing of a giant bell coupled with that electronic insect vibe.   It fades back down again and I can hear my neighbors talking outside.   Hopefully Jason Voorhees comes for them.    A ringing now and then an electric slash through it.   Heavy guitar distortion now and this goes from the suspense of feeling like someone is right behind you to turning around and finding something scary there quite quick.  It's that sharpness piercing through with crackling static and then it all erupts in one gigantic distortion bomb.

As it begins to go back and forth like a saw, there is also this feeling of it growing like a Nine Inch Nails song and the more bass-filled distortion just grows to a larger static field and it just seems like it's a CD stuck on a certain part and it will not get past it, which actually happened to me once in my teenage years with a Marilyn Manson CD (my mom says it was possessed) but anyway... we are back into the suspenseful tones of terror now, which is how it began and also so shall it end.

Monday, May 13, 2019

These Things Take Time ::: An Interview with My Pleasure [Interview # 215]

1) At some point in my life, someone told me to say "My Pleasure" instead of "you're welcome" when someone says "thank you".   Is this what your name is in reference to- that we somehow became a society where we have to shift the focus to accomodate everyone?

1) Your definition of My Pleasure is correct. As for why it is my name and the origin, that’s a secret.

2) Isn't it weird how baby teeth are one of the only things we lose into adulthood?

2) Have you ever seen an X-ray of a child’s mouth? Where the adult teeth in the gums above the baby teeth, just waiting to emerge? 

3) How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard your music before?

3) Always struggle to describe my sound to other people. “Weird pop” is usually what I go with, because my influences are usually met with blank faces.

4) Did you really have someone alphabetize your spice rack?

4) Thank You for Alphabetising My Spice Rack very quickly became a live favourite, unexpectedly, but people seem to think it’s about my girlfriend. It was actually my dad.

5) Do you feel there is still an importance for physical media in 2019?

5) I struggle with the idea of a release being ‘digital only’. It would be way easier to do things that way, but for now, I still love the feeling of owning music, whether it be on CD, tape or vinyl, so I don’t think I’ll stop putting mine out physically for a long time, if ever.

6) What roles do you think a record label play for an artist in 2019?

6) That’s a huge question really, but a very basic answer would be ‘guidance’. A lot of musician friends didn’t know how to navigate the world of streaming, for example, and I help them with that through the label. Broadly, it’s nice when the artist can just think about their art, rather than the business of it all.

7) Growing up writing about music at the turn of the century, I feel like it was much more difficult to be exposed to music outside of the United States compared to how much easier it seems now.  What has your experience been like with your music being heard in other countries?

7) Although my music has been played in a number of countries, it’s been easier focusing my efforts on the UK, than spreading too thinly and trying to cover everywhere. Weirdly, most of my Spotify plays come from Amsterdam due to being featured on a number of playlists there. Pure accident though.

8) Have you really seen drugs being dealt in Burger King and more to the point has a song as specific as that ever gotten you into trouble, like a Burger King says "Hey, you wrote that song about us, no Whopper for you!"?

8) The drug deal actually went down in McDonald’s, but Burger King fit the song better, and seemed sleazier somehow. The only person who confronts me on my lyrics is my girlfriend when they’re not romantic enough. Not my style though, man.

9) You have a new EP out on May 17th which is being released as a collection of singles.  How did that come about and are there any secrets you can leak about a new My Pleasure full length album?

9) The thoughts behind the EP was to throw absolutely everything I had at the time at it, and to try to produce a handful of tracks that stood on their own. I think they do. I’m really proud of them, probably more than anything else I’ve done. That positive frame of mind is how I’ll head into album three. But before that, I’ll be covering one of my favourite albums in its entirety, as a kind of palate cleanser before the next studio album. 

10) Final thoughts, shout outs, etc... ??

10) Shout out to you and your readers, for your support.

Event Review //
Free Comic Book Day / Star Wars Day
[May 4th, 2019]

I'm not sure how often it is that the first Saturday in May happens to be May 4th, but the fact that Free Comic Book Day and Star Wars Day can fall on the same day seems really special to me.   It had been a number of years since I had been to a Free Comic Book Day because I've, sadly, been falling out of comic books.  I feel like it's this combination of me not having time to read them mixed with not being able to find enough that I like to make it worthwhile.   Yes, I'll grab the occasional trade paperback collection from the library or Newbury Comics when I'm in MA, but for the most part I've just not been into comic books as much as I probably should have been these past few years.

The first thing I needed to do when planning out FCBD was find a comic book shop.   There is this new-to-me shop in Southington (not that far) called Boom Tube Comics, so we went there.   I also looked online at the comic books which were being offered as exclusives, to see if there was anything worth going for, and I convinced Quentin to go based upon the Minecraft and Pokemon issues.   I was ready for my own titles, but we'll get to that a little later on.

Quentin has this Darth Vader costume he wore because it was also Star Wars Day (he was the only one in costume when we were there) and I put on a Star Wars t-shirt.   We got to Boom Tube Comics right around 10:00 am- when they opened- and there were already people inside.   They had a table set up with all of the free issues on it and the deal was you got two or three issues just for showing up, but if you spent more than $10 you could get ten of the free issues.   I didn't even really think about what we would or wouldn't get if we only got two or three issues each and just went straight for ten thinking it'd be easy to spend $10 or more.

One of my favorite comic book writers is Chip Zdarsky because of his work on titles such as Howard the Duck and Jughead.   He is currently writing for Daredevil and they had the first few issues of that series, so I picked those up.   I also grabbed the first two issues of "The Might Ms. Marvel" (I had been reading her more recent run and really enjoying it, along with Squirrel Girl and Gwenpool) and then I also saw the first two issues of a Spider-Man / Ms. Marvel team up I couldn't possibly pass up.    I also picked up the trade for the Infinity Gauntlet, which I wanted for some time and figured this was the best place to give my money to for it.

Quentin has picked out a Heroclix blind bag for the Captain Marvel film and while we were waiting in line I saw a Constantine Pop Vinyl on the table.  I picked it up and thought it looked cool, but when I saw it was exclusive to FCBD2019 I knew I had to buy it.    I'm trying not to become engulfed by the mania of Pop Vinyls (I only have one for Howard the Duck and Goose) so I gave it to my better half, who I collect them through vicariously.

For what we spent and what we got, I would call the experience a success.   When we first arrived at Boom Tube Comics there were a decent number of people inside but by the time we were leaving the place was packed to where you could barely move around without bumping into someone.   I really enjoyed the shop and want to visit it once a month to get current issues and, you know, promoting reading for Quentin is never a bad thing either.   I think I'm finally ready to fully dive back into comic book collecting again because Quentin is reading so the timing just seems right.

I'm typing this on a Saturday (the week after FCBD/SWD) with plans to post it on the following Monday, so I will update it about each exclusive issue I read as I read it.   I would love to be able to review the issues I purchased but I feel like I barely have time to read comic books let alone write about them.   Maybe if there is enough interest or if other music people who love comic books want to get together with me we can start a podcast or something.    Now, onto the titles!

Vampirella - Free Comic Book Day 2019 (Dynamite)

When I was in my younger years, middle school if you will, I remember buying a Vampirella comic book because on the cover you could see her butt.   My friends at the time thought it was cool and sort of something that- at our age- we wouldn't be able to buy because this, of course, was at a time when video stores had a section that you had to be 18+ to go into (Kids, ask your parents what that means)   

Somehow, seeing that the new series starts with this issue brought me back to those younger years and, yes, I couldn't really resist picking this issue up.   There is no real reason why it was the first of the FCBD exclusives I read, but I did enjoy it.   There is a modern story in here and a classic one reprinted as well.    What is interesting (perhaps brilliant?) about this pairing is how Vampirella was treated as a character in the past versus how she will be treated as a character now.  

Many things about Vampirella that existed in the past simply cannot exist now.  Right away, the idea that she is to be thought of as being less because she is a woman will not translate well in 2019, but I'm definitely looking forward more to an empowered version of her versus an underestimated one.   Also, I'm not sure how well the idea that sex sells will translate in 2019 because where I was in middle school is a lot different than where we, as a society, are now (Let's just say we're off dialup, to make it brief)

Something about FCBD2019, my past and the future all came together with this issue though.    Part of reading comic books, for me, is reconnecting with that younger version of myself and Vampirella takes me back there.   I'm not sure what other character could have the same timing of a new series being launched, but when the first issue of the new Vampirella comes out I will be reading it. 

Cassette Review //
Epiphany Now

Sold Out // //

Those fun carousel tones start this one off right as they wind and shift on through like some sort of ride which will take us into another dimension.    This takes us into the next song which has this funky electronic vibe.   You can hear the frequency changing as the percussion carries a beat and this is just some sort of electronic fusion I have not heard before.    It's weird to describe because it's not quite industrial but it's something along those lines within the rhythm of it.   I also feel like at one point you can hear laughing behind it all.

It sounds like a smooth sax has come into the playing field now.    It's a quieter, somber flow here.    Space whirrs have joined in, which makes this somewhat of a floating drone.    We just really start feeling like we're lost in space, in this classic sci-fi type of way.   The tones really start changing but it has an outerspace setting that you can't really deny at this point and I really enjoy just feeling like I'm floating away while listening to this one.

A voice sings "doot doo doot" as bass beats drop and there is this certain electronic-pop style happening here which at the same time begins skipping and makes me think of it being more towards the glitch than the actual pop side of things.    The singing now has this trill to it as well, which I just enjoy, and this song is kind of all over the place but in a good way.     This takes us into a deeper voice speaker, which sounds like it could be from a sci-fi film as well, and then these guitar/bass notes come through like Smashing Pumpkins.

We drift along with some choppy sounds in the background but those guitars just persist.   It's somewhat dreamy, but more like being in a dream.    The guitar really starts to whirr now, like it's shaking.    This takes us into a song with operatic singing and what sounds an accordian accompanying it.   This could be on the street corner of some contemporary city or the stage in a grand theater, depending upon how you view life. 

What feels like screaming has these acoustic plucks with it and for some reason though it is not *that* closely related to it I'm reminded of Fleetwood Mac.    It feels like a banjo, but it's just really jamming here.    There is this moment where it sounds like a needle is being put to the record- but it might just be the hiss of the cassette- and that happens a few times before the tape ultimately stops.   Whether intentional or not, it's pretty cool.

On the flip side the notes come out in succession, more like echoing.    There is some singing- but just ahhh's not words- and that sax returns in a triumphant way as well.   The way this all comes together to start off the second side is just so majestic.   The singing does feel somewhat like it is gaining words now.    It's taking on this not quite alien and not quite robotic sound, but it feels like we are being taken over by some species other than human and this is when we finally meet our end as slaves.

A rhythm now with clicking/beeping and space whirr dropoffs.    Laser shots are fired.    The way these synths combine with the drumbeats almost have this synthpop way about them.   I am thinking of Dana Fowler And The.    Synths whoosh in and out now as there is a steady drumming behind it.    It's getting really electric now with skip beats and I really like it.   An eerie type of knocking comes in as well and this has that sci-fi/horror feeling to it like the movie "Alien".

Magical tones come fluttering in and then the frequency changes to drop down dialtones.    Strings- perhaps a violin- come in now and they can feel like they are out of tune at times, as shots are fired behind them with this constant wave of electronics.    I feel like the accordian is back and playing us off into the night as we are slowly drowning.    It kind of just ends up fading out, which seems fitting for the amount of energy this cassette has produced it is only right that when we reach that end we are tired before we do the dance once again. 

Cassette Review //
Pocket Of Lollipops
"Be My Non-Friend Friend"

$6 //
Edition of 50 // //

Big pianos start this cassette off but then it feels darker when it kicks in.   Right away I am reminded of a band such as One-Eyed Doll, but also a little bit of Nirvana somehow.   I am first taken by the lyrics "You told me no empathy" (Which seems ripped right from my diary) and "I'm swimming / my lips are chapped / and I am cold" which I kind of just like for the specific randomness of it.

Trippy electronics have me thinking of Period Bomb in the sense that maybe they don't sound exactly sound the same but would be great on stage together (or a split cassette)   "Lavender Canary" starts off more like L7.   It breaks down into this pop rock song somehow though, which takes me for a turn.    Dueling vocals really make me begin to think of Pollens and, yes, we need more artists like Pollens in this world.

"You should pop that balloon if I'm better than you" and "My cookie's all chewed up" stand out as lyrics for me.   "Tiny Pants" has a bit of spoken word and yet is also somehow dreamy.   Trippy guitars begin drifting, without words, on "Tiny Pants" as well.   It picks up into this walking rhythm before it ends.

On the flip side we kick off things with what sounds like screaming, birds and some other odd sounds on "Face Value".    Then it kicks into that weirdo pop rock from earlier, like Pollens, but there are other artists in here coming through, like B-52's.    Just really blissed out rock now, songs within songs.   Almost a carousel feel as well.   There is a cool bass line on the titular track and, yes, they sing the title (which I enjoy)

This one also rocks like punk at times and when we get into "Anise Blvd" it's more of spoken word over music, like it's telling a story.  Grinding distortion through the speaking.  "What have you been up to?" These lines are all buried in here, one by one, for me to hit or else I've failed in properly writing about this cassette.   "I left my wallet at my friend's house" and then it kicks in like Mudhoney.   This song is wild but also ends on what might best describe this cassette overall in the term distorted melodies.

Cassette Review //
Pod Cast
"Dead King's Dream"
(Brave Mysteries)

$9 //
Edition of 77 // //

The cassette begins by welcoming us and then music plays with the sounds of screams and growls, which I imagine as an animated opening to a television show.   There are horns and it's kind of like "Disenchantment" but as the song goes on I also begin to think of it less as being animated and more as just being in that fantasy realm, which I seem to be going down more and more these days.   There is strumming in here as well, which you might have heard in a castle with a king at one point.   Instructions for rolling dice are spoken now.

As the horns sing along, there are words spoken and this has that great medival vibe to it.    Darker synth tones come into the mix as well.    The bells shine and this is a certain genre of music I enjoy listening to but definitely do not hear enough of these days.    We drop off into this hue of a drone and the vocals return as well.   There is a mystical sound in here as well.   In certain ways, this is the live-telling of a game of D&D, like an old radio show.

Sounds of fighting can be heard now- punches and kicks like in a video game- and then the keys come on to take us on a quest.    The bells and horn create quite the melody.   The keys become really dramatic now, pushing in and out.    It's almost like an accordion and then the first side comes to an end.

After a roar the flip side opens up with these bouncy strings, which kind of remind me of the first P!ATD album.    The winds seem to storm now, flowing in and out with the gentle strings.    There is a dramatic sense here, as it all feels rather serious.   Delicate plucks come out next.    Ohms and ahhh's are behind this now and it has an uplifting rhythm to it.   The words return to guide us through our game.   It's interesting how these steps of the game can feel like lyrics though.

Louder now with this flickering rhythm and the guitar line grows to where it sounds like some post-wave sound.    The notes get bigger and then we go back to those delicate plucks which make me think someone is playing a lute or some other instrument from within the castle of a king that I can't quite think of the name for because they all sound made up.   But, yes, this could be the greatest soundtrack to a game of D&D ever and otherwise just a spectacular cassette.