Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Music Review //
Ivy Flindt
"When You're Not Around" //

Many times music can make me think of movies and when listening to this song right away I feel like there's this cool, slick sound to it which could be a spy film so of course I go right to James Bond.   The song itself, lyrically, though isn't quite along the same lines though, as I feel like it is more of a love song.    "I could tell from across the room / That girl's a story / You just clear your page for" is one of the first lines that sets the tone here.    As someone who not only writes inside of computer screens but also physical notebooks (pen to paper) that line hooked me right in.

With elements of The Cranberries, I imagine what it would have been like back in the 1990's to have a movie like James Bond but with the titular character being a bit more like Tank Girl.    As the chorus kicks in, the lyrics go into this concept of being in love with someone and just being vulnerable and giving your all to that person.   The music which goes with this feels like it has strings and just goes towards more of a "Pulp Fiction" type of movie vibe and I wish that at some point before now we had a James Bond film directed by Tarantino.

Somehow, through the musical parts of this song, I'm also thinking of "Shaft" or something from the 1970's as they just flow.  "There's no point in talking / If I can't talk to you" is a line which I can relate with a lot lately, as I've been spending most all my time talking with the same person.   It's a love song, but it's not a simple love song-- it's not in a way that everyone might get lyrically, but it's still upbeat enough that it could be on the radio and people would at least think they understood it and I enjoy that aspect of it as well: having that deeper meaning that all of the masses maybe won't get fully.

One of the things about this song as well which I really enjoy but didn't notice until a few times listening through is that it starts at one point, which is the somewhat quieter, spy sound, and then when it kicks in it stays there.   In that sense, instead of being verse/chorus/verse I feel like it goes more from a 1 to a 2.    This also has an acoustic version which makes me think this would make for a most excellent cassingle and any time something can be seen through my eyes as a cassette it becomes infinitely special to me.   Listen to this song for the beauty not only within in but for the beauty in life.

Music Review //
Keep Dancing Inc
"Start up Nation" //

If you're bold enough to name your band Keep Dancing Inc you better bring a certain amount of energy which makes the listener want to get up out of their seat.   Somewhere between the past sounds of an artist like Human League and a more recent idea of someone like maybe The Killers, Keep Dancing Inc does just that as this song is definitely a dance number.   There is a steady bass and it just makes me want to move even if it isn't all that fast.

This video shows everything from the band playing the instruments to the beach and it just has a great look to it overall- like something I would have seen on MTV back in the 1990's before a lot of this sound sort of faded (but in some ways I miss bands like this, that make me think of everyone from Aha to Talking Heads) and along those same lines this would have been a video I saw and then went out and bought the cassette.

Lyrically, it's hard to ignore the words in this song because they are on the screen during the video (which maybe they don't need to be, but if it places a stronger emphasis on them then I'm all for it)  The idea of the "Start up Nation" is that if you can't get a job, create your own.   I know that people use the term "side hustle" a lot, but I always think back to my parents and grandparents, how they have this idea of if you work one job for 40 hours a week you should be able to pay your bills.

The concept of "Start up Nation"- and why it is so important in our modern business model- is that many people cannot find jobs so they create their own, but also if they are working jobs which don't make ends meet then they end up doing that side hustle which sometimes can become a main source of income in the end.   I really wish I could have played this song for my grandfather, but going forward I do feel it's important to document the time when we went from working one job and it being enough to having to forge ahead with our own paths.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Cassette Review //
Brigitte Bardon't
"Radio Songs"
(Already Dead Tapes)

Sold Out // //

This begins with a song which reminds me of Betty Boop and has whistling, but then it breaks into this audio clip about not being able to control your eyebrows.   The song has this blissed out feeling, like a live human being with animated birds.   This switches through like the changing of radio stations and we go into a slight bit of "Knocking On Heaven's Door" (which I know is not the proper title) as performed by GNR. 

While you may not believe me, when I was younger we used to have to tape songs off of the radio before they got a proper release (or if we didn't want to buy an entire cassette for one song, we could just tape the song off of the radio)  I actually taped a lot of U2 off of the radio back in my pre-teens.   In some ways, chopped up and preserved over time, a blank cassette which could have been dubbed over more than once is the type of vibe I'm getting from this cassette.

There are deeper vocals now, like the batteries in the tape player are dying, and a lot of these songs are being mixed around and jumbled up in fragments as well to create a rather fascinating sound collage.   Showtunes are definitely coming through now with audio clips of speeches.

A whistle comes through now- a flute perhaps- and a guitar can be heard strumming while a drum is banged and this is quite the sound to end that part on.

Some true Top 40 songs are coming through now.  It's that "I'm not going to write you a love song" song which I want to say is Shania Twain but won't look up so don't hold it against me if I'm wrong.  I hear audio of what sounds like a football game and then there are several other songs of different natures which just sounds like pressing record on your tape player and turning the dial on your radio.

Beats set the mood now.  We can dance through these audio clips.  It's funny how some of these things crossover in ways which maybe they shouldn't but it just works here.  A Frank Sinatra type of sound now.   I'm sure there exists a list of all of these source songs somewhere so I'm not going to be the one to make sure I get each and every one of them exactly correct.

Sometimes the music mixed in can sound like the introduction to a television series.  So far I feel like I've heard both "G.I. Joe" (the original) and "Thundercats" in very brief glimpses.   A beeping now, like something is glitching.   Talking comes in with the sharp shred.

As we switch through the stations now it feels more like television than radio for a moment and then the songs start up again.    Jazz piano.    Singing comes through a lot of static now, and if you didn't know back in the day with the radio we would have antennae as well, so sometimes you'd hear this song and want to tape it off the radio but a cloud would come through and the static would make your recording less than perfect.

Wow this cassette really takes me back to being ten years old and sitting outside on my parents' front porch.

Someone is talking about times changing over a song and we're into some country now as well.  For a brief second, we can hear "I Will Survive".   Guitar notes now over words.   The vocals come through with static.  "I don't see the need for all these beliefs" someone says.   This is great.    Such different styles of music all blended together to form one sound.  For another brief second I hear "La Bamba".

"I go to Walmart.  I go to Family Dollar".   Can we legally make Family Dollar change their name because I feel like their name suggests a dollar store and everything there is not in fact one dollar.   Someone is singing now and this is into a weird home recording subgenre where maybe it was something taken from a cassette found in a thrift store. 

Are they talking about farting?

A woman is singing in a country demo way.   Someone says something about Will Rogers and the first side reaches an end.

On the flip side someone is singing who sounds like Elvis.   Through the static comes some smooth singing and a decent amount of this is country as well.    There are so many different songs in here and different styles of music it seems impossible and futile to name them all, but I just heard something which sounded like The Crystals.

Someone is talking about how much she loves herself now.   There is someone who looks like her and it's her!   Now some sad singing.   I can't quite place who this is though, but it has a Michelle Branch feel to it.    A song about being the master of the sea while someone is speaking in ad pitch. 

Something about your daughter Cynthia and a doll.  That's very peculiar.   Blaring horns and static now.   We're into hip hop now and I wish I knew what this was but I really don't listen to rap music that's on the radio and it had more of a modern sound to it.    Classic rock now.    Some pop.  Some soul.   Maybe a little manipulated Coldplay now.   And I feel like I very briefly heard Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down".

They are talking about something in a courtroom way now with a Miss Connor.  A sharpness comes through as we turn the dials to generate different frequencies.    Static waves are crashing now.   This goes from pop to rock and is now telling me about all the pretty girls as more static waves come crashing through.

Though this cassette came out in November of 2019 and I sit here typing about it in 2020, I want to call it "The Cassette Of The Year", but I really feel like it's more valuable than that- an archive of what it was like listening to the radio growing up with that tape player ready to press the record button. 

Cassette Review //
{Bento Records)

$6 //
Edition of 100 //

A deep bass makes us feel like we're on a different planet.  A sonic whirr comes through in waves, which can feel like a transmission but can also feel quite hypnotic.   This alls flushes out in some drone and then has higher peaks of ambient sound.   When the first song comes to an end, you can hear what sounds like the play button being pressed to start the static-electric nature of the next one.    This turns into a locomotive engine type of sound which builds and can also remind me of a windmill for some reason.
Somewhat magical, somewhat like car horns now we find ourselves going into a new realm.    The whirrs come cutting through once again.    It stays steady with a rhythm which isn't quite that locomotive but it does keep chugging along.   Somehow this can sound like a car stalling but at the same time it has that motion where you can nod your head along with it.
Distorted bass now takes us into beats which can remind me of "Run Lola Run".   There are crashes in here and it just feels like we're trying to get away from someone or something.   It feels almost like explosions now as we're in some SNES game,   Very much I have thoughts of "Double Dragon" or a game of that nature before the air dries out.  I'm also thinking of that old TMNT arcade game.   The tones become uplifting now, as if we have escaped.
On the flip side we open on a higher note and the sound just feels lighter, more wonderful.   It's this feeling of being in the sky rather than having your feet on the ground.  Electronics come in like Pong and it just feels like such a fun trip.   A little bit of sharpness with that alien whirr takes us into the next song as the percussion also bangs.  This brings out some dramatic tones and it feels like an organ in some ways as well.   This song has a slower pace but still feels so very vital.
The pace increases and this drives, somewhat like "Knight Rider".    It takes us to some place where we can be safe, but then the next song comes in with these darker tones which aren't quite haunted but do feel like suspense.   I must admit how music can convey so many more emotions than words, which is sometimes I do struggle with finding the right words to describe what I'm feeling.   Music is a better writer than anyone else, really.   Now I imagine that Alfred Hitchcock is somehow alive and making a new "Scooby-Doo" movie.
Guitars cut through like post rock.   This had that FNL sound all along, I just didn't realize it until now when it was so obviously presented to me.   As the tones drown up and down, there is a ringing behind it as well which feels like a broken car alarm.   This ringing increases in pitch but then drops back down and it can also I suppose be the rapid banging of a piano key, if you want to compare it with music.   As it fades out though I can only imagine it as being an unanswered SOS.

Cassette Review //
Body Image Corporation
"Body Image Corporation"
(skrot up)

$6 // //

We open up with an audio clip- slightly distorted- telling us that all of the questions we ask, all of our insecurities, have never come from love.   Beats come in behind and I like things like "The pain has never come from love / The hurt has never come from love"  It's funny how this person, a Joel Osteen or self-help type of guy (Tony Robbins?) is making lyrics and he doesn't even realize it.   Quite the clever use of what otherwise might just be word garbage.

Deeply distorted vocals come through now with electronic loops behind them.  It's got the movement of a locomotive and I can't quite make out what the words are trying to say.   It's a little bit hip hop.    Acoustic guitar notes now come through on their own.   Another audio clip about being busy and how when we find a moment of peace we tend to do so with our phones and I agree- we need to spend more time not staring at screens.   I enjoy how the acoustic guitar plucks feel so organic with the words about technology.

Pop music bursts in now and it feels like we should get up and dance.   Another layer of beats has been added to this as well, giving it such an upbeat feel.    An audio clip now while electronic tones come in like a computer.    Words are talking about struggling and I think it's great how there are always so many problems in the world and yet somehow this leads to so many people thinking they have the solutions and they're willing to share them for you (At a low, low price!)

"Better to grow love into logic or grow logic into love" is the next track and it's talking about arranged marriages.   I'm not sure there is an answer for this one.   A lot of things, when it comes to emotions (such as love) seem to abandon logic.   I wouldn't really try and overthink such topics myself because that's how you get into trouble.  You can have a feeling- like love- without having to justify it to everyone else.

Messaging marketing on steriods has beats behind it like a scene out of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory and I feel like this is about why/how I get so much spam.   Can someone truly examine why I constantly get emails in my spam folder, how they get there, who sends them and ultmately how to make them stop because they are simply not effective?  I mean, has anyone ever opened an email from a sender they didn't recognize because they thought "I do need a Russian bride!"

Okay, now there is a spoken word about something which is a large scam these days that people don't talk about: Twitter give aways.   The track is saying that the person gives away $100 every day, all you have to do is have PayPal, follow them and like the photos.   This is such a scam.  It gets posts interacted with and will increase your followers, yes, but no one ever actually wins these "I'm giving away $3000 to someone today!" bullshit tweets you see.   Sadly, people will continue to fall for these things but it's slowly taking over my last bit of patience.

An audio clip about winning now with an equally out-there version of synthwave to accompany it.   Winning gives them a purpose?  This guy needs a new purpose!    This next bit of an audio clip does say something about turning data into music and it's such a strange trip to just listen to and try and really think about what is being said, what it means and the music with it just put me into this trance I couldn't escape until it ended.

On the flip side we start with what sounds like an old time radio song being played in a loop.   There is that record player feel and I know this likely has some audio clip spliced into it like on the first side but it definitely has this certain sound to it as well, like some other artists I won't be able to name.   "Keeping Up With The Joneses" is telling us how to buy everything new when it comes out so we can live in poverty.    This probably does happen, but I only own like three pairs of shoes and I only buy them every five years when one gets beat up so badly I cannot wear them anymore (and even then I shop around to find the best deal)

This moves in an industrial way but more like pop as well.   It just cuts off, another song comes on and cuts out a couple of times.   This is hip hop but I feel like the lyrics are manipulated audio clips.   Now someone is asking if we need help and then they say we can get a 50% discount but everything is double the price and it's just... yeah, sales humor.    "Let's put some music on / We can vibe to it" is what I think this loop is singing.

And now clanking beats bring about what sounds like a political debate.   High pitched singing now brings in a song which sounds like it could come from a cartoon which might be from the old days but also kind of cursed in a way which we didn't talk about then but you can totally see it now.   Deep vocals now are telling us to take them somewhere and then a normal voice comes on in the background telling us that buyers don't usually know what they want.  I feel like I'm smart but I'll be damned if I dont buy things on impulse almost all the time.

Distorted vocals are telling us about the new phone and raffle entries.   "The video quality of your iPhone XS..." just makes me not want to own an iPhone ever again, but alas, it is like a small laptop in my hands everywhere that I go, so there's that.   The audio clips in here can be fun to pick apart, but there is also this great music which accompanies it and I think once you get past the initial idea of "Is this guy talking about podcasts?" then you can go through and give it another listen, fully appreciating the musical efforts of it all as well.

Cassette Review //
"Black and White Electric Light OST"
(Philip K. Discs)

$5 //
Edition of 20 // // //

This cassette starts with some chanting and it feels like we're going to go into the sounds of monks.    While this feels hypnotic, it is a nice way of being welcomed into the cassette because it pulls you in and makes you really pay attention to it.   A sound lingers in the background now like a steady motor and harsher distortion slashes through at the surface.   Cymbals come through but perhaps they are not cymbals but rather some other form of metal banging.   Tones creep in and out likes "JAWS".    It feels a little bit like a video game, but also like a guitar.

Organs come in and I feel like Scooby-Doo is about to find a dracula.   Lone, desolate string plucks as well remind me somewhat of that Smashing Pumpkins style bass.   The guitar shakes now, echoing through like the deep bellow of a frog.   Drums come in and you can hear the snare this time to know it is in fact drums.   This has a metal way about it, not in a material way but a genre way, as it makes me think like we're about to drop into something like Black Sabbath, which would be perfect for skateboarding.   Is "skate metal" a genre because if it is then this would be a perfect intro to that.

Some screeching now like car tires and then it begins to sound like we're trying to start a car as the whirrs cut through lime a horror movie.    The music is humming and shaking before it comes to an end.   Tones come in next which sound like they're being played through long pipes but part of me realizes they are in fact keys.   This has almost a church organ drone way about it and it feels calm, relaxing, which is good for meditation.    I partly feel like this is coming out like FNL now as well, as it has that indie movie soundtrack thing going for it.

It can begin to feel like we are in an alien place, like in that film "The Phantom Planet", and then notes come through next one by one with what sounds like the crackling of fire in the background.   There is an acoustic guitar sense here, as you can hear the strings slide, and it makes me feel like this song is being played around a campfire for that reason.   It's this peaceful, stripped down type of sound and then these louds bursts come through like stars crashing to Earth.    Once that crackling ends though, a few more notes play and we reach the end. 

Cassette Review //

$10 CAD //
Edition of 50 //

For me, Nutrients is such a strange band.   I've listened to this self-titled cassette a number of times now and every time it seemingly catches me off guard.   There are three different factors which go into making these songs and though they all could be under the banner of "rock", that really is a broad banner.   In many ways, the ways I could describe this feel like they could neighbors when it comes to genre, but at the same time I just don't feel like these sounds have ever been combined quite like this before.

At first, I hear this dreamy rock.   It's something that I put between the Silversun Pickups and Smashing Pumpkins.   It's just that chill vibe that doesn't really seem to threaten anyone, partly between not caring and not being cool.   It's got that almost whisper in the vocals thing going on that I like to think of when I imagine this specific type of dream rock.  And, yes, on a larger scale I'd likely put that dream rock with something like a Buddy Holly influence or even go so far as to pair it with twee.

As the cassette goes on and the songs progress, the next sound which comes in is this funk/disco-type of sound which almost can be on the cusp of math rock.  But the more I hear it, the more I believe it's something inspired by the music which my parents would have listened to while at the rollerdisco.   I know, I know, I always go back to that point of reference but never quite have an artist to relate it with exactly.   Perhaps I need to go through my parents' taste in music one day.   But yes, a second level of this which builds upon the first is that of "Roll Bounce" or perhaps even The Jackson 5.

And then- and I'm not sure how this happened- a saxophone comes in.   It's not even really out of left field either.   It's just such perfect timing, so perfectly placed that I'm upset at myself for every time I didn't see it coming.   And then I wonder what this compares with and I think of when the music of the late 1980's/early 1990's had a sax come out but it wasn't really the prominent instrument- something like that one song from the movie "Better Off Dead" and I always go back to that but I can't think of a solid reference just a lot of Bruce Springsteen types.

So essentially you have this band which exists inside one specific scene within a movie- that diner scene in "Better Off Dead"- and instead of the movie being based around skiing it would instead be set at the rollerskating rink.   On top of this, you'd have to have this fun, driving around vibe like the "1979" music video and, well, yeah if you could put all of that together then you could totally groove into the sound of Nutrients.

Cassette Review //
The Skitchers
"Gleam Another Cube"
(Poop Stick Records) //

When I was a kid (teenager?) I remember going to other kids' houses just to sit around and listen to punk rock.   I have very real memories of listening to those old Punk-O-Rama compilation CDs from Epitaph.  It's funny, I don't remember a lot of things which happened in my life- a lot of firsts or milestones- but I do remember the first time I heard punk rock.

As a kid, my dad was always a huge fan of Bob Dylan (and he still is) and I know it's not the same, but sometimes I feel like kids today are going to think of someone like Sex Pistols as being "old" or the type of music their parents might listen to and as such, as is the case in our youth, we would rebel against that and want to listen to something else.    I think this will always happen throughout time.

The point of this is that I'm glad to see someone making music still which sounds like the music that I listened to when I was fifteen or sixteen years old (maybe younger).    This style of punk rock starts right off sounding like Guttermouth but there are also these bass lines like The Offspring and complex guitar lines.  (If you listen to The Offspring prior to "Smash", they really don't get enough credit for how great they are)

Through a total of four songs and a cover, there is a sense of rebellion.   The idea of not wanting to go to school or get a job (As the lyrics state "No, not me") and then the ageless idea of "Feelings mean nothing to me / I don't feel anything", which is something you could find in similar songs by both the aforementioned Sex Pistols and The Offspring.  In all of this there is also a sense of TSOL but even with the last song, "Teenage Lifestyle", which is a cover by The Penetrators, there is just a feeling of good old fashioned punk rock.

Cassette Review //
Ineffable Slime
"Byzantine Sarcophagus BIle Dosimeter"

$ 4 // //

Quietly, the sharpness comes in like a metal detector.   There are some clanks and bangs in the background and this has the sense of being set in a boiler room or perhaps somewhere isolated where a horror movie might take place.   I think of a saw now, but the movie an actual saw moving back and forth in a cutting motion.  Vocals come in but they definitely sound haunted.   They sound like they'd be playing on an old record player- which is in a loop because it's broken- inside a room which I wouldn't want to go in.

The words "chewing on my body" make me think that this room could in fact be inside a house in which a murder took place and that gives this an extra sense of doom.   You'd think that listening to this loop enough times would make you less haunted by it but that simply is not the case.   I think the more I hear it the more traumatized I become, but in the best possible way.

There are just such haunted sounds in the back of this while the vocal loop repeats.   It's crashes and bangs, but then it turns into a wall of static that just wipes out everything in its path-- including the vocals-- and it is one I am playing rather loudly so my neighbors cannot be too pleased to be hearing it.   Blaring through likes shrieks of torture, you can barely hear the vocals coming out from it all again but it is just overpowering in every way.  The shape in which this overall sound just twists and turns is truly remarkable.

On the flip side we open with some broken down merry-go-round tones.   They also sound a bit like church bells though, which says a lot about those two situations (how much church can feel like a broke down merry-go-round)  A humming has entered the sound and it just feels like a melody is falling apart.  That hum only stays briefly but that sounds like someone somehow taking bells or wind chimes and just clanking them around the way you would percussion but they're not really percussion so I can't quite get the visual on it.

Now a lone bell rings.   Smaller bells join it.  A broken symphony of bells now.  Chaos in the church.   I think about a wedding gone wrong and a tag sale for some reason.   A sharpness pierces through now.  It's building like an alarm.   Someone will certainly begin to think the fire alarm is going off if I let this go on for too long.  (This is where you should be listening under headphones)   The bells persist and if we're thinking of this like pots and pans I'd say that the tea is ready. 

One crash and evil laugh puts an end to the sharpness and now it feels like we're in a dark place where we don't want to be.   Perhaps the only thing worse than feeling haunted is having your demons laugh at you, and yes, this cassette is the type of thing which nightmares are made of and that's not a bad thing at all.

Cassette Review //
"Cassette Tape #2"
(Already Dead Tapes)

$6 //
Edition of 100 // //

We begin with this static rain and a tone behind it which moves like Pole Position.   It feels as if we are rocking back and forth as electricity builds in the background.    This carries a certain amount of static with it- like we have been zapped- but it just continues to grow and move.    There is a solid burst coming through now and it also feels as if something is breathing heavily behind it, struggling to keep up.    I'm not sure why, but now I imagine this song as being a monster, a pile of goo and garbage in a corner somewhere that has somehow come to life and is not as menacing as it is struggling.

The thing which makes me feel sometimes like this isn't a monster though is that there is still this rocking back and forth, and that makes me think we're on a ship at sea or something similar where if you really focus on the waves and motion you could perhaps make yourself sick.   There also exists this build to this, where it feels like we have one of those giant saws and we're taking it to a tree, the suspense of the back and forth with that eventual shock of the tree falling over and yelling timber as being both so satisfying and terrifying.

In many ways now I feel like we are in a wave storm but that constant back and forth makes me also feel as if we are at sea.   I cannot imagine the feeling of floating lost at sea, water all around you, all you can see in any direction, and then it begins raining as well, just to add more water to your troubles.

A deeper, darker string sound comes through now with some alien type vibes behind it.   This is somehow calming though.  There are occasional laser blasts back there but overall this is a sound which is able to put my mind at ease.

On the flip side we open with some static and then dark drones which sound like whales.   This static crumbles and builds though the darkness behind it all looms.   The strings move and its that suspense of a movie score, something out of the days of Alfred Hitchcock (which, yes, this makes me want to go through and revisit a lot of his movies once again)   At times, when related to film, this can also make me think of "JAWS".

Through static rain a sound now comes which is electronic in itself but yet somehow it reminds me of laughing.   Perhaps it is best described as a spring, but all I hear is the "ha ha ha ha" part of it.   Some static crackling now as well, which begs to wonder how this sound of fire can exist within this sound of rain.   A bit of that lightsaber sound in here now makes me wish we could have lived in a world where Alfred Hitchcock directed a Star Wars film somehow (And on a serious note, with George Lucas not directing Star Wars any more, I'm surprised they haven't given more directors a chance to do so.  I want to see Spike Lee's Star Wars!)

A dark electronic bass starts up now.  This makes me think of "Hackers", but also of "Pole Position".   I don't know if I've told this story or not before, but let me tell it now.  My grandparents had a Pole Position board game (It's probably still in their closet) that I used to play a lot as a kid, so though I know it's a video game and I've played the video game as well, I'll always think of that board game and the sticky wheels.

Now that I'm back from looking up things on eBay I probably shouldn't be buying, this final song has this engine feel to it, as it builds up, drops down and just cuts through everything like an electronic accordion.    It's not the loudest of songs to end on, but it also isn't the softest, so it's neither quite going out with a whimper or a bang but just that sense of completion.