Friday, August 30, 2019

Record Review //
Sontag Shogun
"It Billows Up"

$20 // //

A sound of water running, like we are filling up the bathtub is how this record starts.   Quietly it purrs now and you can feel like you're outside as a motorbike speeds by in sound only.    I definitely feel like I hear traffic as angelic tones come in and create a solemn and sad mood now.    It's a piano and it makes it feel like electronic post rock.    Very serious, a very grave situation and you can hear a voice in the background such as a child.    Cars continue to pass by. 

Words are spoken like an audio clip and beeps come through like Wall-E.    There is some singing mixed in with this now and it reminds me of Blue October.    An angelic, uplifting piece of music is playing right now, somewhat droning but always rising to the occasion.    The pace builds and it's a gallop now.  We're riding this horse and we might not know exactly where we're headed but that's okay.

Notes like a guitar are coming through now as this has the feeling of being somewhere crowded.    It has a certain feel to it which could be somewhere between a Japanese restaurant or a banjo being played.   Voices are manipulated and it feels more like somewhere in Japan than the swampland but I might be partial to one style over the other, one culture in a sense, and you might hear something else but it does get these higher pitched frequencies as well, which will likely upset dogs.

The words are talking about an ice age now and it feels like we're changing stations on the radio as those high pitched tones not-friendly to dogs come through with the static.    A crowd cheers and the beeps come in solo now, mostly by themselves. 

"Song No. 5" is actually in the fourth spot and it begins with this beautiful piano movement.    Singing comes in, but without words- more like chanting- and this is just so calm and relaxing.    It takes me back to that sound I heard earlier and compared with Blue October, as there are few artists to otherwise compare this music with.    I also believe the earlier part I thought was Japanese could be because this is called "Sontag Shogun" even though in my mind I sometimes read the artist name as "Sontag Shotgun".

Ringing, glowing hues start things off on the titular track.   Pianos return as do the vocals without words.    As it builds, climbs, so do the vocals.   It all ascends at the same time, lifting your spirits.   Whooshing and whirring, this one has built up to where it's almost in this industrial plane and it just feels like it's gone from this small idea, like a fleck of dirt on your computer screen and now it has become the entire screen.    Words like an audio clip are chopped at first but then come through in full.

People are talking now as there are whistles and it has this feeling somewhere between birds, insects and the swings on a playground.   They're talking about modern technology and you can hear the cars pass by.   The middle class doesn't have all the answers, only God does.   And now the person who was talking is singing and laughing.   He's listing off wars when the song comes to an end.

Words are spoken over a loudspeaker and this always makes me think we're in an airport.   Dramatic tones come in with other speaking roles and then this piano part which just makes it feel like we've boarded the plane and are about to take off.    There is singing now and I feel like there are words this time.    It feels somewhere between a chant and classic rock though.   Underneath it all, if you really listen, there is a folk sense to it.    The piano moves and waves crash.   The drumming really picks up now and the singing is without words but it is the focal point in many ways.

As it reaches its end, there is an audio clip of someone speaking and it sounds like an audio book which also happens to be instructional.  It's not in English, but I imagine it as some book teaching someone how to count, for example, and then it stops like a cassette which has reached the end, makes the rewind sound and stops again which is my favorite way for anything to end (automatic rewind!) but also leaves me slightly confused.

Cassette Review //
Skin Tags
"Skin Tags"
(Already Dead Tapes)

$6 //
Edition of 125 //

As I was looking information about the musical group known as Skin Tags, I also happened upon my Hotmail account in an open window.   I noticed I had 11 emails in my junk folder, so when I went to clear them one of those emails was simply from "Skin Tag".    One day, all of our junk folders will be filled with senders who have the same names as the music which we listen to-- I can feel it.

The deal with Skin Tags is that they are a supergroup of sorts.   Lucy Dougherty (also of Little Big Bangs) plays bass and sings.   Shelly Koesterer drums.   And the guitar is handled by Mabel Suen, who I perhaps best know for being one half of the duo Complainer with Joe Hess.    There is also that Hess, Usui, Suen cassette that was released not too long ago, Mabel Suen and Joe Hess seemingly trying to see who can be a part of more releases on Already Dead Tapes while still releasing music together.

These songs are heavy and they are angry.   They're in your face and if you think your neighbors will be okay with them you live in a different place than me because I feel like most of my neighbors would tell me to turn this down.   Somewhere in reviews of bands such as Skin Tags you'll probably always find a reference to Walls of Jericho, for which I blame on the times more than anything else, but there are even elements of Period Bomb in here and I Hate Sex.   This also makes me think of that band called War On Women, who I've listened to a few times.

There are these great breakdowns with just killer guitar riffs and that makes me think of Drowningman.   It's just that... it's relentless.   It can feel like it's slowing down or taking it easy on you at times, but it's really not because even the slowest any of these songs get is likely harder than what you're used to hearing.   This one hits fast, it hits hard and at the end of it all there is even a hidden surprise.   My favorite song is "I Hate Life" just because it shows the substance in these lyrics and that this band is more than just a swift kick to the gut.

Music Review //
Scott Seisler Band
"Missed the Last" //

My first thoughts on this Scott Seisler Band album are that it has a certain radio rock way about it, like something I would have heard in the 1990's and I very much enjoy that about it.   Though it might not sound quite the same, I imagine it being on the radio between bands like Lit and Stroke 9-- that era of what the radio called alternative rock.    There are some killer guitar riffs in here as well.

The third song is the titular track and it discusses suicide, with the line: "I failed you my brother / No, I can never go back"  In the grand scheme of things, I feel like suicide can often times be glorified in some way.   People will sing about killing themselves- and some actually do- and it becomes this way of people thinking "I could do that, that would show them" but with this song, "Missed the Last", it's from the point of view of the singer, who is still alive and hopefully gives those thinking about suicide something to think about as this is more of the aftermath than praising it.

At times this reminds me of The Verve Pipe (underrated) and at other times it reminds me of Fozzy because, yes, that Chris Jericho band is now my go-to for those higher pitched vocals that you just belt out like metal and then these guitar parts just tearing the place down.   "Smoke In Hand" gets really intense and the music plays right along with the words and while I feel like this could be the setting of some night club somewhere it could also fill an arena through the speakers.

"Red Summer" reminds me of Tenacious D and overall this is just rock n roll.   "I Don't Mind" has such a fun rhythm and the idea of "I can't go on but I still try" seems to be reflected in a lot of the music which I listen to but that's okay.   "Everything I Know" just grooves and can resemble Tom Petty at first but then it just kicks in to where you feel like it's heavy but fun.   As the chorus comes on, this song just feels like the sing-along hit every band seems to want to create because for some of us music is the only way we know of relating with other people.

Cassette Review //
Second Best
"Second Best" //

Back in the days of AOL, I needed a new screen name and I always felt like there was someone better out there than me so I wanted to be "2nd Best", to look like 2nd Place but AOL wouldn't allow your screen name to start with a number so I thought "xXx2ndBest" looked cool so I took that.   One of my straight edge friends then wanted to know why I had the put the X's there and eventually that name went away because I was tired of people thinking I was something I was not.

While Second Best has a good indie rock sound, there are these elements of Beck which then make me think of this as being like something from the 1990's, from that time of grunge.    With a big, rocking slowdance anthem this can remind me of names like Buffalo Tom and Local H, even the Flaming Lips are in here at different times.  But it's just that symbol of the 1990's-- that rock sound that maybe you can't always describe but when you hear it, you know.

On the second side, the first song sounds a bit like Copeland, which is quite possibly the closest this comes to being modern in full but there is always this modern sense about it all even when I'm thinking it's out of that timeframe when Soul Asylum and The Replacements ruled with ripped jeans.    While I would completely agree if you told me this came from 1995, I also feel like it's much more fitting to be from 2018 because a genre such as "alternative rock" always needs these types of additions.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Cassette Review //
Michael Potter
"Rain Song"
(Already Dead Tapes)

$6 //
Edition of 150 // //

Quiet guitar notes slowly grow like post rock or something BBJr. might play.   It finds this groove and it feels melodic now.    This is instrumental so far and feels like it is only being made by the guitar as well.    It really begins to feel like it's flying now, with these FNL guitar riffs which just open up the sky and journey into space.    There are some droning type tones swirling around behind this all now as well.    As the guitar notes begin to twist and turn it really begins to feel as if it's singing now.

There is this hue quality in here as well, like we're watching an indie film shot on some old camera and sometimes the way the images play back kind of flicker.    And now it's just kind of droning into the ether.    While it feels like you could easily sit down in one place, zone out and get lost in the reflection of all of this, it seems just as likely that you could find yourself moving with this- whether walking or driving, just having it be the soundtrack to all that which is passing you by.

On the flip side we open with guitar riffs and this whole side is live.   Some says "Yeaaaahhhhh" and you can hear the percussion on here as well.   It's a winding guitar rock now, getting so close to opening up into that driving Americana of someone like Tom Petty.   A guitar line exists behind it which makes me think of post rock but this also just gets so loud and feels like a jam band.   As it slows and quiets down you can hear the cheers. 

The next song starts with what sounds like a "Chaaaa!" and then goes into this great walking bass line.   It's dark, like Zeppelin but with a modern twist as well.  At times I'm thinking of The Beatles but also I feel like "Come With Me" and then there's just this certain sound coming through from rock which is not classic.    And then it just opens up like Hendrix and just starts shredding.    The cassette ends with a live, solo version of the titular track, which was heard on the first side.    Even if you feel like you've heard this one before, it's worth repeating just to feel like you're bringing this cassette full circle.

Cassette Review //
Normal Tea
"Normal Tea"

£8 //

Right away, I can tell you that this one is anything but normal.   There are these guitar riffs but sometimes it feels like these frequencies distorting the very fabric of space and time.  On top of that, there are these drum beats like hip hop.   The vocals come out smooth, like jazz, but they also have soul and it's just... It's something you might have heard in an R&B way in the 1990's or earlier but then it also just has this level of weird to it that makes it sound not like that but some form of that. 

Sometimes I hear the notes and just think it's hip hop.   Even with the vocals, all I can hear is the sounds of hip hop (The vocals can have this robotic/1980's way about them at times)   But then it comes down to me asking myself if this is hip hop, what does it sound like?  Why can't I find an artist who makes hip hop that sounds like this?   Through these instrumental clicks now, the synth drops and expands like Rush as these weird vocals speak words behind it all.

We're just jamming now with this killer guitar riff and though there have been these psych rock vibes throughout this cassette, this really brings it up that much more.   I wonder if anyone has ever combined hip hop and weirdo rock together so well before, but I can only guess that no one has. 

Big distorted beats come in next and this is going back to that instrumental hip hop.    This brings out some more beats and words are spoken, singing as well, and it just feels like something alien in a lot of ways.    It feels chopped up, with starts and stops, and I just don't really expect anything less crazy than this from this cassette.   There is a definite groove on here as well.

On the flip side we open up with these funky synths and drums which take us into this place I like to hear kind of like "Ghostbusters".    As funky as this is, it has that classic vibe with the beats and reminds me a bit of Hendrix.   This song goes on for quite some time but that just seems to make it more trippy-- like you can really lose yourself in it and feel like it's been going on for years. 

The next song has this crazy drum roll part which is just superfast, these video game-like lasers are shot off in the background and the vocals come through singing so this sounds like something almost in that punk realm. 

Sad strings come in by themselves next and they are quite loud.   There are some drums back there and then we go into this song where someone is singing and it has a definite industrial/techno feel to it.   Then the guitars kick in and it feels like punk/metal.   This song has this great screamy quality, but also kicks in and just sounds like Filter or something along those lines, which I really like about it.    Synth keys really kick in and I keep thinking of Cloud Nothings' "Attack On Memory".    The vocals get jumbled up now like a modem, which feels like a fitting way to go out because this can't end in a normal way.

Cassette Review //
Music On Hold
(Gone With The Weed)

Sold Out // //

When I first saw the name of this cassette I thought it would be something either like a podcast or what I think should be a project someone should do one day (It's probably already been done.  If so, please link me?) where they listen to a bunch of music while being put on hold by various companies (because many of them use generic instrumental music and not the radio station music some of them do) and then you kind of either collab with it yourself or get other artists to add beats to it or lyrics or whatever.   That'd be fun, right?  But yeah, that isn't this. 

Music On Hold can definitely be described as new wave when this cassette first starts.   With the drum machines and synths I'm pretty sure that the first song is about hoarding which gives that 1980's feeling of sound a modern take on lyrics.   Oh, if we only knew back then what we know now.   Remember how people thought TV Guide was going to be worth money some day?  Those things were like calendars.

"Home" feels a little bit dreamier as it can have that Schatzi vibe and then on "Top Of The Bridge" it feels like upbeat mallpop.    "Headless" has this darker slip static thing going on, but on the flip side it turns right into these 1980's pop vibes.  "Life does not rewind itself as you die" is one of my favorite lines ever and not just because it feels like it's about cassettes but because of the meaning behind it.

As it gets blissed out you can hear some Blink 182 type guitars on "What About Us?".   Some of that Neon Trees magic can be found in here, in that modern sense mixed with the classic sense, but overall this is just a lot of fun and bands don't really seem to make such fun music anymore.    It seems like when artists reach a certain level of fun they become a type of pop I cannot listen to but Music On Hold seems to have found that balance and for that I will listen to this one all day long.

Cassette Review //
German Army
"No No Boy"

€8 // //

Like a carousel, this begins with singing and it has an almost Beatles feel to it.    This also becomes dreamy, which makes it feel trippy like something out of that garage rock scene.    Beats come in now with a funky groove and there is an audio clip behind this.    The drumming just grooves like this tribal rhythm.   It feels of the jungle.

Lasers click and are shot through this deeply distorted drone now.   There is a rather sci-fi feel to this song as the synth drives on through.    As these guitar sounding tones come through like a video game, so do these vocals and darkness which makes me think of Depeche Mode. 

A funky electronic pinball sound now brings out some spoken words like Tears For Fears.    As the synth drives now, it has this haunted sound as the words repeat and feel like a reminder of something we forgot but will forget no more.   It seems so profound, yet also so foretelling.

Heavier static skip beats come in now with words speaking like an audio clip with the distorted past.    This is loud like a crowd.    This leads to a song with those serious Law & Order beats and footsteps.    There is a certain banging now, like pots and pans almost.    This brings upon some nice relaxing tones to end the first side.

Some great 1990's industrial fused with this jungle rhythm percussion, synths and audio clips starts things off on the flip side.   They are talking about torture chambers.   Somehow this next set of beats reminds me of a jackhammer and then the singing comes back as well.   Synth organs bring out this mechanical feel and then the next song really drives hard with these huge drums crashing down.

Brooding now, the percussion gives way for deeper synths and bass.   There is this uplifting feel to it and then these hollow tones come through with distorted vocals which bring about some lighter tones, like on clouds, and the beats just kick in as well.    There is an audio clip in here and then big beats bass drops in with these fun synths.    Distorted vocals are behind this as well.

Big synth tones now make me feel like we're at the start of a television show or film and that it might have something to do with MOTU.    This is an ambient synth now for sure.   It blooms into something blissed out just as well.    It seems as if we're just drifting aimlessly until we just hit that point in space where we just float away.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Cassette Review //
"Fiber​​-​​Optic Fur & 3D​​-​​Printed Bones"
(Suite 309)

$7 //
Edition of 100 // //

Electronic pinball brings out these ping pong beeps and there is some percussion behind this and some static as well.   It flips over into this wild blissed out synth number now.  It just hits hard and feels like it should be on the dancefloor.    It reminds me of Fire-Toolz here, but without the heavy.    It's all mixed up now, the frequencies are changing and coming out like a record scratch.    The beats increase and this has a powerful drive to it.

A pinball glitch brings in what sound like vocals saying no over and over again and then these deeper keys are hit like those bass distorted vocals.    It really feels like there is singing in here now, near the end of the track, but I have no idea what they're saying.   Spaced out synth tones echo through the speakers next as the drums build up behind them.   Vocals come in now in a singing way but also in a robot way and I can definitely hear the name "Jupiter".

Steady rhythm brings out steady beeping now.   The percussion is really in control now.   Cymbals bring about this cool, lounge feeling.    Guitar notes can feel like they are beeping in and the beats start to scramble.   In some ways this can feel like the opening theme for a television series, even if it might be an anime.   Blissed out, it just keeps moving, into a little of what could be described as electronic jazz as well.

As we go back into those ping pong sort of beeps I also am really feeling the hip hop on this one.   Someone seems to be trying to say something but keeps getting cut off as those video game synth shots are fired.   This changes octaves a few times, with a few different feelings, but it just bumps.    It pauses, but only for a second, but then it returns with this banging type of electronic beats.    As it grows, it begins to clap and get a little bit dreamy as well. 

It bleeds through now, just blisters, somewhere between that funk and soul.   The gong is struck and then it whooshes for a bit before everyone is singing something like "ok" and it's a bunch of little words but doesn't feel quite like a sentence even.   Then there is a verse, so it's making sentences now.   This has something to do with the birdwalk.    A sound like a car enginge revving up now stops with a sonar like beeping and then repeats.   There is also some sharpness in here, like a metal detector.   Then it swirls under the ocean.

Slow and steady now, beats creep back in with this deep, distorted sort of ohm spoken behind these squeaks.    As it skips around, it goes to this dark place where it can feel somewhat haunted.    It makes these almost moan sounds as it rides the wave right up until the end and then just stops.

On the flip side we start off with this slightly squeaky modem which builds like distortion and then giant distorted beats fill the speakers.   It feels tribal, like it's in the jungle, and then those static slip beats come in as well.   Through the static it picks up like a video game.   Even through this distortion it just feels like so much fun.  Deeper synth now brings out this distorted slide and it feels like an army marching.    Now someone is asking "Yo yo where the weed at?" and that's what I want to know.

It loops and then just kicks in all sorts of wild with these cymbals.    "I'm so fresh you can suck my nuts"  And then we're into this nice start and stop loop of distorted melody.    There is definitely a strong video game vibe within this song as well.  It feels like something from the SNES.     Growing into some more complex and more advanced video game sounds, I'm really feeling this one.   You can hear the coins being collected in that way.   It's got this groove and then the ball begins to really get rolling.

The tones drop back and forth and just become plain wild.   Beats come in now all swirled out.    This is intergalactic hip hop.    With those beats and synths, this one is growing into something that maybe you won't want to dance to but it will make you want to get up and move at the very least-- run.    There are two different types of singing come in here now and I feel like we've heard this somewhere before. 

Static comes through, screeching modem and yet also hollow somehow.    "I'm so fresh you can suck my nuts" is back again as well.   This time it gets chopped up and speeds up as well.    This brings us to the end of the cassette and I suppose it is as good of a place as any to be left because you always want to go out on top.