Friday, June 28, 2019

Baseball Review //
Rainbow Graphics @ Record-Journal Expos
[6/26/19] @ Ceppa Field

Official Box Score :::

Photos in a Facebook Album can be found here :::

Last week, the Record-Journal Expos game I wanted to go to at Ceppa Field (against the South Windsor Phillies) was called due to rain and, well, last week was just a bad week for baseball in general because of the weather.   It's odd how I feel like I go to a baseball game sometimes three times a week, but usually always at least once, and yet this past week I went to zero because of the weather.   Why is it that the weather can play such a big role in my summer enjoyment?
This game started with pitcher A.J. Hendrickson on the mound and this is my fourth GHTBL / Record-Journals Expos game here at Ceppa Field and it is my third time seeing Hendrickson as starting pitcher.   The good news is I knew two things going into this game which would both prove to be true: the Expos were going to win and A.J. Hendrickson would pitch a complete game. 

At first, this game got off to a quick start.   Neither team scored until the bottom of the third when Jack Rich hit a double which went over the center field fence to plate two runs, a total of four during that inning.  I thought- and this is why I'm not an umpire apparently- that it was a homerun but somehow it probably went under the fence and became a ground rule double.   Later on in the bottom of the fifth, Jack Rich would hit another double which would bring in the fifth run of the game for the Expos.

While other players got key hits, I do say that Jack Rich was the offensive MVP of the game.   This, of course, is not to be outdone by A.J. Hendrickson and his pitching, which held the Rainbow Graphics to no runs.   I'm not the type of person who decides such things, but why don't the Rainbow Graphics have a rainbow on their uniform?  If you can picture something with that 1980's / 1990's baseball style and then a rainbow (think vintage Astros) how cool would that be?   I'm not saying it'd help them win games, but at this point shouldn't they at least try?

Next week there is no GHTBL at Ceppa Field (I say because of the holiday?) but the following week, after the 4th of July and several baseball games I will attend elsewhere, the Record-Journal Expos come to Ceppa Field three times in one week.   Three times!  This might have me calling out of work one of the days, but it's time to see the Expos get through this season with the only loss they have right now.   Oh, and um, that loss was given to them by People's United Bank, who are coming to Ceppa Field.   This is the type of drama in baseball we should really be paying to see.

After this game I'm left wondering if they will make up their game from last week (And if so, when and how will I know when) and also who will I see pitch when they play three games over four nights in two weeks.   It's going to be quite fun and if you're reading this you really should come along for the ride.   Following this game, I took the stroll to the outfield because they never picked up the ball that Jack Rich hit to center in what I thought was a homerun and, well, let's just say that now I have two official GHTBL baseballs in my collection.  Now I just need to find out if there is a way to get a brand new one in my collection.

Cassette Review //
Dave Clarkson
"A Pocket Guide to Subterrania - Mysterious Caves of the British Isles"

£6.50 //
Edition of 50 //

This one starts off quietly, as if we're just in the middle of the woods listening to birds.   It's somewhere between that place where birds and small animals live in the zoo, where you can go through and view them through the glass or these bird sound CDs my dad gave me so you can tell which bird sounds like which call.    It's definitely relaxing as it feels like it is bringing us closer to nature.  

It gets quiet and then comes back with this huge gunshot type explosion.    Notes come through like an electronic music box and there are still these sounds of nature behind it all.   Another giant gong shot.   A whoosh slowly forms as it begins to feel like the suspense is building.   Another shot fired.    Those little electronic tings persist and this has the makings of a film such as "Land of the Lost" but directed by Hitchcock.

When you consider the title, it does feel like we are moving around in a cave somehow.   Giant beats now come in and create a pounding rhythm.    This culminates in some screeching and then the return of the birds.  It's much louder now and there is a banging along with that background noise of being out in a crowd.    The banging somehow turns into percussion and we have a great rhythm going now, where you would expect a steel drum dance to form in the middle of the sidewalk.   A static mist is behind this as well.  

Quieter now, we get to a minimal place where there is chanting at first and then a ringing of chimes.    Everything comes echoing through like footsteps in the hallway now.   Words can be heard.    We go into a mechanical rhythm now with beeping.    Laser shots are fired now.   This chopped up / distorted sound comes in next and this is electronic in all of the ways which you don't think of electronic music being made.   It's like they have the recipe and are using different ingredients but it somehow still works.   

On the flip side we start with what sounds like bouncing words being repeated on a loop.   An ohm drone comes in behind it to build.    As this loop continues, the ambient drone which comes with it changes into different phases of suspense.   It can begin to get a little bit sharper as well, somewhat screechy here behind this hypnotic loop.    We eventually drop off into this glowing distortion which feels sharp like knives.

A primal chanting comes through now with ambient waves and it feels like we could just be floating through space.    It can also feel like we're drifting out to sea as this ringing comes in, much like you would find out in the ocean.    Darker lasers now begin the next song and there are some higher pitched parts which make me think we're going off the rails on the crazy train and this is just electro-psychedelic now.

Cymbal crashes enlarge the picture.   It takes on this vibe like being hit with a raygun in a sci-fi film and then gets quieter, more to the dramatic side of things.    A slow rumble builds.   This really just becomes about those cymbals and then a slipping whirr comes through until it shifts to the flow of water.   We're back in nature now, at a stream perhaps, but there is also a sound which wishes for us to beware of what trouble might be on the horizon.

It begins to sound as if we're in the water now, some type of fight might be happening with an alien creature, but it is within the water as this can also take on this X-Files tone.    As it reaches the end- all of these space, electronic sounds coming together in the water- it just sort of cuts off and I think that it's far better, based on what was heard prior to this on the cassette, for it to have done that than to have a long, drawn out ending.   This will conjure up a lot of visuals in your mind so it is a trip worth taking.

Record Review //
Yes Selma / Pony Payroll Bones
"God Blind / Baby, I Ain't Russian"
(Sara Laughs)

$8 //
Edition of 200 // //

"On My Way To God" begins this record and it has these bells shaking, like the kind you can wear on your arms if you're a street performer, a flute perhaps, some broken down piano keys and eventually the drums come drumming.   It feels like an old Disney cartoon soundtrack- like "Snow White"- only breaking down, like you're watching it in a theater where they have the audio and film separate and the record is warped or the player isn't quite up to speed.   The drumming really picks up with the breaking down symphony and the only lyrics during this song are "I'm on my way to God".

"Blind" has a more upbeat, lighter feel musically with the strums of an acoustic guitar such as a folk artist.   The lyrics, however, are not as light and upbeat as there are mentions of suicide and misery.   I do grow tired of the idea that everything needs a label and every genre of music needs to be broken down and placed into this little box where we give it a tag on Bandcamp, but I really do think that idea of pleasant sounding music with dark and gloomy lyrics needs a name because I enjoy it so much.

This record is my first time hearing Pony Payroll Bones and the song "Baby, I Ain't Russian" begins with this wandering country type of guitar.    The lyrics come right in singing the title and it sounds like dying.   There is a more country folk sound on this song and it just breaks down with that old rusty guitar sound like Johnny Cash.   This is such a powerful song, as it clanks through, and you can just experience it more than you hear it and that will tell you why it has a side all to itself. 

Two songs from Yes Selma should have you buying this record because you know how much I love this music by now.   The song by Pony Payroll Bones on the flip side is a bonus not only because it serves as an introduction (for me at least) to a new artist but because it is such a great song and just... It feels like a mini-album more than a song in a traditional sense and that should just have you fully immersed into this entire record.

Music Review //
Mantra Love
"Another One" // // //

This song starts with banging drums and a big bass line.   The guitar comes in all dreamy and it feels like something you might have heard in that 1990's era of grunge, but also maybe 1996/1997 radio rock that had one hit with better songs on the album.   As the chorus kicks in, I hear this as some cross between the Drive Thru Records band The Benjamins and The Killers, which is about right for sort of past meets sort of present idea going on here.

If nothing else, "Another One" is dreamy.   It has radio single written all over it in that Weezer / Tripping Daisy way because it feels like it has that hook with the chorus.    I must also mention that I once went to a festival and saw both Superdrag and Supergrass play and Mantra Love could be some hybrid of those two bands as well- the dreamy and the stoned feel, especially when it kind of spaces out with that guitar solo.

The bass line can feel hypnotic and this has that Buddy Holly influence as well, you know, something in that garage punk way but not exactly like anything you've heard before.  Back when Jason Segal brought back "The Muppets" as a movie, there was a soundtrack and also a television series and this song really makes me feel like if there was a "Muppet Show"- like the original but set in modern times- Mantra Love could very easily be a musical guest introduced by Kermit the Frog.

When I first started listening to this song it was through SoundCloud.   Then SoundCloud broke.   It said the song couldn't be found, maybe even the user didn't exist.   So I had to head over to Spotify to find this song again.   The funny part is, a Google search for "Mantra Love" can bring up some interesting results- not all of them music- and I kind of dig that about this band as well.  Definitely put this song on your lazy summer daze playlist.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Cassette Review //
planets sparkle
"starry dreams"
(chord organ tapes)

$7 //
Edition of 25 // //

When listening to planets sparkle, you might hear some familiar sounds, but I don't hear enough for me to put a name on them in comparison.   Somewhere between dreampop and bedroom pop, this has ambient feels to it and, yes, it even gets beats.   It has a definite Moog feeling to it, bands like Schatzi and Sig Transit Gloria come to mind.   Carseat Headrest as well perhaps?

On some level this reminds me of The Lyndsay Diaries and if I had to ever put a piece of music into a genre called "slowcore" it would be this cassette.   You know, sometimes you hear these songs and they're upbeat and they're fast paced, but even when these songs have drum machines they still keep this moderate tempo where it's never too fast nor too slow.   It's just moving.   There are also skip beats with dings and, yes, the sound of fireworks on the song called "fireworks".

On the flip side we have a song with more of these scales with the keys and then they sing about missing someone so it is quite sad.    The next song- "glitter girl"- has this steady beat behind it.    Somehow this goes into more of a FNL sound and it just feels like... maybe Ben Folds.   It kicks in with this full band sound and almost reminds me of Semisonic (remember them?)   This song is called "flower daze" and it's my favorite one on this cassette.

It seems like, as we get closer to the last song here, the songs pick up with more instruments and they also seem to get a little bit darker along the way as well.   Throughout the darkness though I like to believe that there is a message of hope still, and though this cassette might seem like one of heartbreak and pain, that message of hope is perhaps what you should most take away from listening to it.

Cassette Review //
Church Shuttle
"Mind Leash"
(anathema archive)

$7 //
Edition of 100 // //

Loud electronics, like distorted pong start this cassette.   It takes a loop like pinball and then some high pitched sounds join in.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease.   A lightsaber type of distortion comes in next, as this switches closer to the heavier noise like Waves Crashing Piano Chords.   These whistles take on the rhythm and this has a mechanical feel to it as well.    A slight modem feel and this is just driving and driving.   The distortion rains down as vocals can be heard speaking through it.

It's not so much about what the clicks and beeps sound like, but how they are being used within this bass distortion.    We just drop off into a sea of distortion now with a horn coming through slightly.    The static comes through like a lightsaber once again and then it begins to feel like we're changing the stations before it flickers and swarms like a bumblebee.   The frequencies change and it feels a little bit alien.   It hums like an alarm and then the voices come in.

This goes right into a classic Ric Flair promo.   The wheels continue to turn here as we slip back towards the static but are into a heavy drone.  An audio clip is in here now and it feels sci-like, like MOTU.   I'm not sure if this is sampled audio from a movie or actual content being spoken for the song but it makes me think I'm going to some darker realm, within the ideas of magic and just not being on this Earth anymore.

There is a feeling of darkness and windchimes at the same time here.    It's really just in this dark place now, where once you get there you feel trapped, like you cannot recover from it.   It's quite scary.    As it rings in an echoing way it comes to an end, as the next part begins with a sharper drone in an emergency state.   Beats slowly creep behind it all and it feels a little bit like "JAWS".    It even begins to grind those strings a little bit.

The bass begins to ring through like the toll of a clock before it drops off like Pole Position.   It whirrs on through until we hit this point of frequency alarms.  A static rustling now with a repeating beeping.    Singing comes in now.    As the beat pulsates there is some sharpness as the singing has faded.   The static rolls through now in waves.   Screeching.  A little bit Droid now.   Everything comes crashing down and then there's this solid bass line.   Crazy horns now and perhaps some radio sampling but more likely just singing in an organic way.

"I do not want to be in the center of town"  Well, that is not your choice to make.   A voicemail gets spliced in with this.   A fun whistle-slide vibe now takes one into an end, as it grows quieter.    We're back into this loud drone which sounds/feels like racecars.   It's a fading glow.   The way it all kind of fades out with the sound of the cassette itself just works so well, it just fits the sound like a glove.

Music Review //
Message To Bears
"All We Said"

"All We Said" begins with these delicate acoustic guitar plucks.   As the vocals come in, there are also these electronics- like percussion but also in a keyboard way- which join the sound.   With just the acoustics this can remind me a bit of Gotye, but when the electronic side of it surfaces it has this Phil Collins aspect to it as well.   The idea of a Gotye / Phil Collins collaboration is very much something I'd like to hear and this might be as close as we ever get to one.

It's rare that I can listen to a single song and compare it with another single song but "All We Said" also reminds me a bit of that Finger Eleven song "One Thing", which is possibly one of the songs that band might be best known for on the radio.  It's just that whole idea of this song feeling so light, like we're on clouds, but then the electronics bring us back down to Earth somehow or take us out to space.   The overall feeling is just blissed out.

The title is in the lyrics quite a bit, which is good, and as any song should if you were to hear this on the radio or however you hear new songs these days it would make me curious to hear more songs from Message To Bears.   If the year was 1996 and I heard this song on the radio or saw a video for it on MTV I'd certainly be at my local music shop buying the CD.   This song, as a single song, has that type of power to carry an entire album.

       While this song was exclusively premiered on "echoes and dust" and can be heard by clicking here there is an entire album of new songs from Message To Bears coming out July 19th, both digitally and physically- as there is a CD and record.  This would be the time and this would be the song that should make you want to pre-order this record.    It is an album I will definitely be keeping an eye on (or my ears, as it may be) and you can as well via the Message To Bears Bandcamp page right here:

Monday, June 17, 2019

Baseball Review //
Ulbrich Steel @ Record Journal Expos
[June 12th, 2019]
@ Ceppa Field

Official Box Score :::

More Photos Can Be Found in this Facebook Album ::: //

This game started at 7 pm instead of 6 pm (like the two previous games at Ceppa Field) but I still showed up around 6 because I wanted to make sure the website was correct and I didn't have anything else to do.   I thought it'd be better to sit outside for an hour than show up at 7 and miss an hour of the game.   A.J. Hendrickson pitched for the RJ Expos- my second time seeing him pitch here- and the Ulbrich Steel had four different pitchers.   Right away, the Steel put up three runs in the first inning and it didn't look good for the Expos.  This time, my keeping score / track of innings in my phone actually was accurate.

After the game, I thought about this a lot, and not to get ahead of myself, but one of the things I really like about the GHTBL is that they don't use the scoreboard at Ceppa Field.  As a society, we are so in touch with our phones and just... easily distracted.   Going to see the Yard Goats last Friday, it was so easy to just look at the scoreboard and know what the score was and the inning, but I see that more as a crutch than anything else.  To follow these games, to appreciate that excitement and drama of it all, you must be 100% focused on it and I don't think I've ever focused so much of my attention on one thing before.

I can't find a stat for this on the box score, but I feel like there were at least four HBPs in this game, three of them by the Steel.   Tensions got high at one point as well.   It was getting later, people wanted to go home, and in the 7th the Expos could've won it.   At one point, this huge shot went to center field but was lost in the lights.   The Expos center fielder said something like "This is why we shouldn't start games at 7".   I'm just glad they put the lights on at Ceppa Field.

Now, I thought that the GHTBL could end in a tie, which apparently is not true as this went eight innings, which was more than they normally play and starting at 7pm... this would've been a good game to start at 6, but hindsight is always 20/20.   There was also this thing where the home plate umpire kept saying to play, then would get mad when the pitcher would pitch and say that it wasn't time to play yet, and, yeah... the Expos dugout got warned by the infield umpire at one point and that was my first time seeing that in the GHTBL.

Speaking of firsts, I saw my first homerun at Ceppa Field this season.    Thank you to Peter Barrows for making that happen, as he hit a three run shot deep to left center.   After the game was over, I totally walked out there and found the ball, which I now have in my collection.  I'm some kind of museum.

At one point, it looked like the Expos won but the homerun shot went under the center field fence, but with bases loaded and a Will Kszywanos bunt (he had several key hits during the game) the Expos walked it off.    This was such a wild game because it felt like the Steel put down the foundation for a win early and it took a while for the Expos to really mount their comeback.   This was really a lot of what baseball should be about, with the whole "it's not over until it's over" mentality.   I also don't know where Will Musson came from, but he brings the heat.  Every fan of baseball should see him pitch at least once in their life.

Baseball Review //
Bristol Blues vs. Nashua Silver Knights
[June 14th, 2019]
@ Muzzy Field, Bristol, CT //

More Photos Can Be Found in a Facebook Album here ::: //

One thing that I've always tried to do with baseball is go to different places to see it being played.   It's different, to me, than music because you might have your local club which hosts bands you want to see, and yes there are home teams in baseball, but still, going to different stadiums and fields to see baseball being played is sometimes as much fun as the game itself. 

I'd known of Muzzy Field for several years and was finally able to get out there on Friday.   Much of what is online about the Bristol Blues is unclear as to what other baseball places tend to do.  I saw tickets on their website as a ten pack, but it wasn't until that day I saw on Twitter that tickets were $5 in advance and $6 at the doors.  (How do you buy tickets in advance?) I assumed since the game started at 7:05 we'd be able to get in by 6, so we got there around 5:45 and people were already going in.

We had to park behind Muzzy Field, which was nice because the parking is free, but if someone hit a huge homerun it would surely be in a car windshield.  Once inside Muzzy Field, we got a program and copy of the Bristol Press for free.   My dad bought Quentin a souvenir bat and hot dog because apparently he was hungry.   Then we went back to the merch area later on and purchased two hats and a t-shirt for him.  Tickets for the three of us to get in were $16 and so I thought "We won't spend a lot" but with food and hats and such we spend four times that once inside.   This just supports my theory if baseball didn't charge ticket prices (or kept it $5 and under) they'd make all their money on concessions.

Since we were among the first people in, we wandered around the stadium since we had never been there before.   Some combination of New Britain Stadium and Dodd Stadium, I really enjoyed being there in any seat and unless you get into some outer bleachers all seats are behind a net so you don't have to worry about getting hit by a ball so much.   This also makes it much more difficult to catch foul balls, but more on that later.  Being early though had Quentin doing an on the field game, which was kind of funny because as Quentin ran away from me I saw these two girls following him and knew they were going to talk to him.

In the middle of the first inning Quentin competed against another child in an attempt to see who could put a uniform on first.  Quentin had an obvious lead with the pants on, but then the pants fell down, he got stuck in the shirt (which was backwards) and he lost it- which was hilarious.   Sometimes, it's not about winning or losing but it's simply about having fun (Which he did)

I always wonder about the actual baseballs teams use and since this is the FCBL I wondered if they had their own balls.  It seemed difficult to get one, so Quentin asked an employee to help him out.   A short time later, the employer came back with a used one and sure enough, it has the FCBL logo on it.   Now I want a brand new one because I think it would look so, so nice. 

We also went to this other employee who said they would help Quentin get a foul ball signed.   The employee went off and got the bullpen to sign the ball while Quentin played with BB, the mascot.   The Bristol Blues also have a mascot named Chunky, who is a tomato and Quentin loves him.  I was talking with the employee about the connection between the music and the name and basically... there isn't one.  But I did learn that the first player to ever hit a homerun at Muzzy Field was Babe Ruth and that's kind of cool.

After seven innings the Blues were down 9-2.   This was the final score and we left because it didn't seem like they were going to come back, it was already after 9:30 and Quentin was getting a little bit cold as well.   I want to try and go back to Muzzy Field for the weekend of 4th of July as it's a fun place to be and seeing the Blues win a game would be nice as well.   I don't own as many baseball hats as I used to (I had to drastically downsize my collection once upon a time) but having a Bristol Blues one in my collection is a bit of pride for me now.

Cassette Review //
"Dorys & Eli"
(Sweat Records Records)

$9 // //

Harm me with harmony.   When you see a name like Dracula, you might expect that this is going to be in some sort of horror subgenre (shout out to Werewolves in Siberia) but the only thing which makes this scary is how dark it is and how much it reflects so casually on death.    While you will hear vocals from both Dorys Bello and Eli Oviedo, sometimes they are at the same time and other times one takes the lead over the other.   They have certain songs where they sing together and certain songs where one takes the lead.

Along with these most powerful vocals you will find an acoustic guitar at all times, plucking notes and strumming the chords.   There are very few other instruments on this cassette and when they do appear (such as a trumpet) it is not for very long.   So it is fairly accurate to think of these dreamy melodies as being mostly just vocals + guitar.   In this way, it has a folk sense about it, somewhere between Simon & Garfunkel and Johnny Cash & June Carter.

Some songs are in Spanish, some are in English and by the end they do a cover of the "Princess Monoke" theme which just leaves me all confused about languages.   Imagine someone watching a Japanese film with Spanish subtitles... Yeah, I probably know people who have done it, but it's just a concept that didn't occur to me before this cassette made its way into my speakers.

Through this beauty you will find lines, such as in "Cruel War", of "I'll pass as your comrade / No one will ever know / Won't you let me go with you" which reminds me of the story of "Mulan".    Somewhere between "Desperado", "Rango" and a little bit of "Coco" this just seems to be writing its own film.    While "Butcher Boy" can feel upbeat in the music it has a defining dark side to the lyrics, as it is about a suicide and then "Down In The Willow Garden" is just a confession to murder.  In that sense, these songs- lyrically- remind me of Two Gallants.

In some ways these songs remind me of ghost stories.   They seem innocent enough when you consider the music and the way the singing just flows with pure beauty and love, but then when you really pay closer attention to the lyrics you realize that they might very well give you nightmares.  I definitely enjoy that contrast of styles- to be crude it's like if there was an acoustic lullaby version of songs by the Misfits.   This just works-- they just make it work-- and it's so delightfully haunting.

Cassette Review //
"Exponential Bummer"

$7 // //

This one starts off with some wild, distorted chaos.   Tones come in during the mayhem and it has this grinding feeling to it as well but... is electronic distortion a genre because this might be it.   Massive amounts of drumming now with a flurry of jazz horns to create a scene of total devastation. 
Just percussion now.   Horns slowly make their way in and this has a jazz feel to it.   While it's breaking down into what could be described as jazz noise, it has a heavier influence on the jazz side of things.   There becomes an animalistic type of howl to the sounds and then it just finds itself venturing into this stone cold groove.   

It begins to sound as if it is breaking down now, all instruments at full capacity.   A bit of laughter takes us into the next blast of jazz mayhem.    There is some more laughing at the end of the song and then it takes on this whirring / glitch sound during the onslaught of percussion.   It almost has a swarm of bees vibe to it.   By the end you can begin to feel as if one of those space blasters is shooting through at you.

This leads us into an upbeat, sort of marching song that feels like we are building towards a purpose.    This doesn't last for very long, however, and then we reach the end of the first side of the cassette.

Heavy drumming and frantic horns kick things off on the flip side.  Through these droning type sounds it drops off and begins to sound like a pinball machine gone out of control.   Whirrs come in like frequency changes.   Lone beeps come through now like sonar as the percussion builds behind it.   Frequencies again and the vibe here is somewhat like a sci-fi movie for sure. 

I enjoy perhaps most how this can have some sounds which are considered by a lot of people to be "out there" but they are all seemingly grounded by this stellar drumming.   The horns hold up their end of the work as it just feels like everything is falling apart right now.   The horns take on more bass and begin to drone in a way which might upset the neighbors.

A bass feeling comes in that makes me think of a flat tire while cymbals are banged around like pots and pans.   A steady rolling now.   This cymbals rattle now as space crashes down around them.    An engine stalls.  Cymbals crash.   It becomes frantic and the math rock version of jazz now.   It grows into this error feel, cuts off and then comes back, horns and cymbals ablazin'.     This all comes to an end with a slow growl and it's such this journey you need to take more than once to fully appreciate but also just to drive during the middle of the night and stay awake.