Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Baseball Review //
New Haven Rookies 2 / 4, Silver City Banditos 0 / 3
[9/27/20 @ Ceppa Field, Meriden, CT]


Additional photos can be found here :::


Following the games last weekend, the Milford Monsters were able to move into first place with the Bridgeport team dropping down to second.   The Banditos ended up tied for third place and somehow they are tied for third place with none other than the New Haven Rookies, who are their opponents this week.   You couldn't have really planned this game any better if you tried.    Two teams with the exact same winning record and only three weeks left to go in the season?  These are the games you have to see!

J.D. Tyler was back on the mound for the first game and he gave up just one run in the top of the first.   All of the outs in that inning though were strikeouts.    The top of the second ended with runners on first and second but the Rookies' batter struck out looking.   Not only was the first game like this, but the second was as well: a lot of batters left on base and tough for either team to score.   This game was about the pitching because when the final score is 2-0 you know it isn't about the hitting from either team.   Two runs might not seem like a lot to climb out from under but when you're facing the pitcher the Rookies had on the mound it was no easy task.

In the bottom of the fourth the Banditos got a runner to third which made it feel like they would score and cut the lead in half but this just wasn't going to happen in this game.   To the credit of the Banditos though, the Rookies felt like they could have scored a lot more runs if it was not for the pitching of J.D. Tyler and the defense of the team.   In the top of the fifth inning there were two strikeouts and then a pop up near home plate.    There were- for both teams- those quick three up and three down situations.

The play of the game came at the very end in the top of the seventh inning.   The Rookies sent a runner to home and he was out.   With only one out and up two it was an okay chance to take, but then their other base runner went from second to third and the throw from home to second was in enough time to turn the double play and end the game for the Rookies.   While the Rookies won the first game 2-0, it could have easily been the other way around with the Banditos winning 2-0 and that's what made it such a great game.   Both teams did a lot, the Rookies just did a little bit more.

This first game ended at 11:50- which was fast for a game that started at 10:00- and for the first time I heard the umpire say "It's 11:50, guys.  We have ten minutes.  Be back by noon"   I always thought they took longer breaks: fifteen or twenty minutes, but Ceppa isn't the same run home in between games that Maloney is so I stayed in the bleachers.   In contrast to the cold wind of last week, this game started off cloudy and at a temperature which was neither too hot nor too cold.   I suppose if you were playing you could work up a sweat but in terms of just sitting there it felt perfect.   By the second game though the sun came out and I wondered whether or not I should have brought sunscreen because it started getting hot.

The second game was similar to the first in the way that it was close, but it was also a different type of tension between the two teams.   Dan Livingston started out pitching for the Banditos and the Rookies were able to put up three runs in the bottom of the third.   These would be the only runs the Rookies would be able to score until the final run in the eighth inning.   A.J. Hendrickson came in to pitch for the Banditos in the fifth inning and he held the Rookies right up until the end.

This game was different because we saw the Banditos score one run in the fourth, then again in the sixth and finally in the seventh they tied the game forcing the Rookies to either score or go to extra innings.   The thing I learned about the Rookies, watching them play all this time, is that they're fast.   They only were able to walk it off because they hit a shot to left-center that landed in a way that made it difficult to play.   If their runners were just slightly slower, they would have been held at third or thrown out at home.   Throughout both of these games the New Haven Rookies used that speed to their advantage.

Perhaps the key play in this game was a base hit by J.D. Tyler which saw Ricky Marrero slide into the Rookies' shortstop, knocking him down and making it so he couldn't catch the throw.   This scored an important run for the Banditos and perhaps changed the tone of the game for the Rookies, if only temporarily.   It would be that same Rookies player though who hit the shot to left-center to walk it off, in a sense of redemption.

This coming Sunday the Banditos go to Naugatuck to face the Cheshire team and then the following week they finish their regular season at home against the Owls.    There is still a lot of baseball to be played before we get to the finals and that bid for the championship looks to be an exciting race as well.

Baseball Review //
Great Falls Gators 0, Orioles (IA) 1
[9/26/20 @ Newington High School, Newington, CT]


Additional photos can be found here :::


What a difference a week makes.   This game was at 9 am and even at that time it felt warmer out than it did all of last weekend.   Newington High School is not the easiest field to find because if you go in through the high school itself you can come around a side where you're near the football field but it isn't easy to get to the baseball field from there.   You have to kind of go around and despite what directions might tell you, Alumni Road is the best way to go.   I've only ever been to one baseball game in Newington but it wasn't at the high school and I still wonder what those kids are up to now.

So far, for the Connecticut Fall League, we've seen two different Gators teams.   There are the Gators who lost their first game to the pitching of Justin Morhardt and then there are the Gators who had their offense explode in the following two games (against the Millers and Crushers) which went to referee stoppage.  This was a different game for the Gators because it felt like they were stifled offensively, but so were the other team.  This was the pitcher's duel, so it was just a matter of who would crack first and it was a lot of fun watching this game be pitched, on the edge of your seat seeing who would not only get a run but also get that hit.

The Indians/Angels merger (from the Connecticut Twilight League) is apparently calling themselves the Orioles.   I was fortunate enough to sit in the bleachers on the Gators side so I don't know what these Orioles fans are going to be like, but they seem respectable.   Also, in one of those funny pieces of trivia type of deals the Orioles had Taylor Kosakowski playing first base and he had his own problems with the Vernon Orioles this season in the GHTBL, so I suppose if he can wear the Orioles uniform they can't be all bad.   He also told me after the game this was a one shot deal for him, which just makes it feel even more special going to these games because you never know who may show up and play.

I do believe the Indians had Mike Lord on the mound and within the Connecticut Twilight League, as part of the Indians, he is one of their toughest pitchers.    If you really think about it, Taylor Kosakowski was on this team and he was a part of the team which won the GHTBL Championship.   Then you also have Indians members who won the Connecticut Twilight League Championship.   Perhaps this team should have been the Yankees. 

There were a lot of strikeouts during this game, but a few spots where it felt like either team could have scored as well.   Bobby Chatfield (his Twitter handle says "Bob" but all the players call him "Bobby" which makes me wonder which one I should use) threw a great number of strikeouts throughout this game as well and the only reason he might not have thrown as many as Mike Lord is because the Gators used relief pitchers. 

The Orioles put up their only run in the fourth inning and that would be enough.   The Gators had bases loaded in both the seventh and eighth innings, so there were times where it felt possible for them to not only tie the game but perhaps pull ahead.   I've seen teams resting on four or five run leads and then they end up defeated, so it's always a different type of suspense when you have a one run game and you're just waiting for that opportunity, wondering if this will be the inning where the pitcher cracks.

This brings the Gators to 2-2 on the season and this coming Saturday they will face the other Connecticut Twilight League merger team.    It will be interesting to see who is on that team and how they do against the Gators as well.   They took a 9-0 loss to the South Windsor Phillies (both teams went into that game 1-0, I believe) so it's going to be a 2-2 team versus a 1-1 team which will be fun to see.    After that the Orioles take on the Great Barrington Millers which *might* bring us the pitching match up of Justin Morhardt vs. Mike Lord.   (In a dream world though, the Orioles would have recruited Anthony Alicki and I'd see him vs. Justin Morhardt)   It's definitely going to be a good Saturday for baseball at the Litchfield Community Field.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Music Review //
"Fantasy Chapel"

https://r1ch3s.bandcamp.com/album/fantasy-chapel //

On their debut album "Fantasy Chapel", Riches creates a sound which is somewhere between pop and the unknown.    The first song starts off the album with some rather powerful vocals and that sets the tone for the rest of these songs.   They are all quite intense and on the titular track I am reminded of both Madonna and Queen.   Through some synth it can feel like we're floating in space.   Some light hip hop and Enya comes out as well.    It's dreamy and blissed out with spoken words now with continuing beats.

"God Swatter" has beats and soulful vocals like Pink meets Garbage.  I originally read the title as "God Sweater" and thought it took on a whole new meaning.   "She" is trance, almost industrial, while "Eyes Open But Not Looking" is a power ballad.   This also takes us into our second song about eyes called "Thief In Your Eye".    "Lily" is an absolute banger while "Nakedness" has great beats.   It really begins to remind me by the end of something you would have heard on cassette during that time, like NKOTB, as it just ends with layered vocals singing "I just want a revolution".

Throughout this album there are also tracks called "threshold" and then a number, which are like little interludes in between songs.   They are instrumental and can be relaxing or just kind of a way to smoothly go from one song into the next.   There are five in total and if you had taken them out and just gone from song to song without them this album might not have the same overall affect on the listener.   To go from "Thief In Your Eye" to "Lily", for example-- you can't just do that.   You need that break in between with "threshold 3", as it kind of winds you down from the previous song and prepares you for "Lily".

While this has no physical release as of right now, I wouldn't mind experiencing it as a cassette.  However the only issue I would have with hearing this on cassette would be that at some point it would stop and you would have to change sides.   Yes, you can pull out songs like "She" or "Nakedness" and call them ~singles~, listening to them on their own.   But the truly best way to experience this album is in its entirety, from start to finish, with no interruptions.   That is not something I find about albums a lot but Riches also has an overall sound which just needs to be heard as well.

Cassette Review //
Mezzanine Swimmers
"Kneelin' on a Knife"
(Already Dead Tapes)

$7 //
Edition of 125 //

"Kneelin' on a Knife" starts off with a song of the same name.  It's got these drum machine beats with upbeat rock sounds which make me feel like it is a little bit garage and a little bit trippy, somewhere between Daniel Johnston and Flaming Lips, to speak in generalities.   It gets a little bit sharp now as we just ride that fuzzy wave.    

We go into this groove now, which almost feels like a disco, and then we're slowly trying to warp into another sound as well.  It's so weird because we have this almost completely different song trying to break through behind this loop in front of it.    Eventually, after listening to the song for a bit, it can feel as if these two sounds have blended together but the way that they are presented- with this loop being the loudest part and the vocals so far hidden back- it makes it seem like they are two different songs at times.

Everything feels spooky now as beats come through like a knocking.  Intergalactic tones come through to give it that "The Phantom Planet" type of alien vibe.   It has this way of echoing as well, not just within the vocals but with the way that the bass goes.   Then it begins to feel like these alien tones are really keys or perhaps even a guitar and that brings me back to the idea of this being on those garage rock lines.

On the flip side we open up with beats and the way the tones whirr through make it feel like this song is haunted.   I feel like vocals can be heard faintly in the background, like trapped souls, but this cassette has also conditioned me thus far to hear the vocals being behind every other sound so it might just be my ears playing tricks.  

We come into the next song a bit louder, a messy game of pinball with these start and stop beats.   The vocals are distorted and hidden back there behind the banging and the way this one just feels trippy.   The guitar just floats through these notes and in some ways it makes me think about what Green Day might sound like if they were a more experimental band.   This gets pretty heavy at the end- more bass and distortion just consumes the song.    As we drift off into this distorted sea it feels like it is the only way to go out- wandering and not yet coming home.  

Record Review //
Science Man
"Match Game"
(Swimming Faith Records)

$7 //
Edition of 250 //
https://scienceman.bandcamp.com/album/match-game //

Science Man is back with their particular blend of hardcore and melody.   This time, there is a 7" record called "Match Game" and all of the songs are less than two minutes in length (some are even under a minute).    I have thoughts of this sounding like Drowningman mixed with Snapcase and there is just this certain period of time for hardcore- from 2000 to 2002 or so- where I feel like this would fit right in.

"Surge" is full of music, with Wall-E electronics, but for the rest of this record it just feels like having your face blasted off.   It's loud.  It makes its presence known.   It is, from what I read on the Bandcamp page, the connection between the first full length- titled Science Man- and their next full length which is not out yet.   A little something to hold you over, if you will.

This does end with a drum beat and keys, in a very solemn way, so it doesn't have that same guitar death for the entire time.   It's nice to be able to feel a sense of calm at the end as these songs just rip through, somewhere between hardcore and rock n roll.   A song like "The Rush" really stands out and I think if you're ever just doing something active this would be a good record to put on and get moving.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Music Review //
"Now I Know"

When the song "Now I Know" first starts you'll hear vocals which are then joined by beats.  Musically, this song will take you on a journey through what might sound like rock but has a lot more of electronic qualities to it.   In some ways, it makes me think of a band like The Killers taking up a more electronic-based approach to their sound.   It's just not something I would call full on techno nor would I call it full on rock but it finds a nice way to reach the melody in between the two.

Lyrically I feel like this song tells a story which you can take the meaning of however you might choose (which is kind of the point) but for me it's about how you can view things one way your whole life but then at some point in your life that point of view changes.  I think, especially in our youth, as people we have the tendency to blame everyone else for our problems and what's wrong and we think more of "Well, this person did this so that's bad" and we think less about what we could have done personally to not have it come to that.

I feel this when the lyrics start with: "Some mistakes time cannot fix / And regrets falling like teardrops" (that being the idea that everyone else is wrong) and then go into: "Mistakes can be repaired / I've moved on with no regrets" (the idea that you should try to fix yourself more than trying to fix others)   And I especially feel this strongly about it because of the line: "My truth was my perspective", taking things into account and responsibility for yourself and no one else.   The more you listen to the lyrics and how they change, I hope that changes you in some ways- your perspective at least.

While this video starts within a house it goes out into nature quite a bit.   The main character faces himself more than once and then ends up back where he started, with the fire burning.   This just only seems to support my idea that this song is about self reflection and looking at yourself more than looking at others.   In some ways, if we all looked inside of ourselves and took care of ourselves we might not have to look out for others as much.  Or at least if we are able to take care of ourselves it makes helping others easier.

This song ends with a great electronic breakdown and if you're going to have a song called "Now I Know", in which that title is part of the chorus, you'll have to ask yourself what it is that you now know.   This is never really stated in the song.  The lyrics never say "Now I know how to be a better friend" or something to that effect.   But I think that's the point.  I think in the self reflection of listening to this (and perhaps even taking it into nature with you) you will find out what it is that you know.   What you now know might not be the same as what Orava knows or what I know but that's what makes this song so special.

Cassette Review //
Sam Gas Can
"Gone Doing"
(Already Dead Tapes)

$7 //
Edition of 100 //
https://alreadydeadtapes.bandcamp.com/album/gone-doing //

If you open your cassette with a song called "Portobello Season" and it's just 18 seconds of you singing about the title, odds are good I will like your cassette.   The first song on here has these heavily distorted guitars over bedroom vocals and I think we're onto a sound when the next song comes through more like They Might Be Giants.   It also happens to be the titular track and we do hear the words "Gone Doing" in the lyrics, which are words I didn't know how they went together but now I do.

I like the lyric: "Our Bladerunner future keeps enhancing" and not in a bad way but the fourth song feels like a commercial, it just has that energy.   I feel like commercials get a bad reputation because they can get stuck in your head or are something you don't choose to hear but it does take a certain level of talent to create them and to get them stuck inside of heads.   Commercials are just pop music you didn't choose to listen to.   We go into an instrumental number with beeps and bloops like sonar in space.   This takes us into "Carole", which is acoustic strumming like a song from the "Juno" soundtrack. (Big Kimya Dawson vibes)

Frequencies and a tapping now, this becomes peaceful and calm like The Karate Kid.  We go into a looping of singing and other sounds which feel like glitches, but then it's full on singing and sounds more like a traditional song.   By the end you do hear the title of this song- which ic "Click Clack" and for some reason while I listen to cassettes I try to follow along with each song by having the Bandcamp page open when I should probably be using the j-card.

On the flip side we kick things off with "UPTIGHT!" which has ping pong balls bouncing around.   The next song sounds like it has a flute in it and just really has that feeling of a television theme song, specifically from the 1970's as "The Greatest American Hero" and "Laverne and Shirley" come to mind.   This takes us into a slow crawl of electronics and Hendrix-like guitars piercing through.    "White Baby (w/ Zack Lyrics)" has beeping like an alarm and otherwise it sounds a bit like Devo.

The second to last song is fast and distorted then when we reach the end we go into this powerful ballad called "I Shall Be Released".   The nature of the song- the lyrics and just the whole overall way in which it is presented- makes me feel like it is a spiritual number.   At the same time when listening to this cassette and the sounds it can jump to from song to song it feels like perhaps one of the deepest and also final.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Baseball Review //
Great Falls Gators 9, Canton Crushers 0
[9/20/20 @ Bowdoin Field, Canton, CT]



Additional photos can be found here :::


Following the Banditos-Monsters game earlier, I went home, had some food, warmed up and put a jacket on over my sweater for this game.    While it was supposed to warm up in the afternoon, it didn't warm up a lot.   I'd never been to this field before and I'm not even sure I've been to Canton before.   I got off of 84 and went through Bristol (but not near the Blues) and then Avon.   The fun thing is that I got onto the road which this is on and the directions told me my destination was on the left.   There looked to be a baseball game there, but I wasn't sure so I took the first right which also had baseball fields but no one was on them.

I drove back, behind the school and saw umpires who looked like the type and thought "It must be around here".  As I saw the umpires go into the woods I wondered what was happening, such a strange sight for someone who had never been to Bowdoin Field before.   I got out of my car and let me assure you 100% that had I not followed the umpires I would have never been able to find this field.  There are a lot of trees and a smaller path you must go down to find the field tucked away back there.   Later I would realize there was also a road out there so if I had left as I did at the end of the game I would have drove by and seen the field and players on it, but going down this path felt magical like when you go hiking and find a cave behind a waterfall but then imagine there's a baseball game in there.   I felt like I'd go back there again with my dad and it'd all just be woods and I'd tell him "I swear! It was here last time!"

To add to the overall illusion of this game the sun started on the infield and made its way to the outfield.   This made it feel like- for most of the game- that half the field was in the dark while half of it was in the light.   On top of that, there was this rare occurrence at times where a lone ray of sun would come down on Gators' pitcher Bobby Chatfield, and only him somehow (it didn't seem to shine for the Crushers pitcher)

This game started off with the Gators going through their entire lineup in the top of the first inning, putting six runs on the board.   It was just hit after hit after hit.   Some people like to see homeruns, but I like to see the ball just get put into play and the runners just move along the bases.   After the Crushers pitcher sort of got rocked in the first inning, he seemed to settle down in the second inning.   Then the Gators got one more run in the third inning and in the fifth they scored two more, putting them up 9-0, which would stay the final score. 

The Connecticut Fall League has the rule that you stop after five innings if a team is up eight runs or more, which we saw last week with the second game of the double header where the Gators defeated the Millers, but those games were seven innings because of the double header and this game was set for nine innings so they decided to continue and play two more innings, going a full seven.   The game started at 3:30 and by the time they had finished five innings it was only 5:00-ish.   The two innings to take them to the seventh made it about 5:30 but I was there, I wasn't as cold as I was earlier in the day and I didn't know if this field would ever exist again so it was worth the time to just enjoy the game.

Baseball Review //
Milford Monsters 1, Silver City Banditos 0
[9/20/20 @ Ceppa Field, Meriden, CT]


Additional photos can be found here :::


I didn't think I'd be back to Ceppa Field this year.  I'm not sure why, but I just thought that after that last GHTBL Playoff game there that would be it until next year.    Then the Banditos moved their home games from Maloney High School to here, possibly because of the kids going back to school but I can't say for sure.   I also haven't seen the Banditos in about a month because they did two games in the BPT, had a week off for Labor Day and then last week their game against the Durham team was canceled.   I was, among other things, attending the 70th birthday of my father, which as I type it out now does seem more important than seeing the Banditos face the number one team in the league, but hey if I ever turn 70 and someone decides to throw me a party and there's a baseball game that day let's have them overlap.

My first thoughts about this game is that it's cold.  I can't explain to you, dear reader, how cold it was.  I've read the box scores for MLB games and they get really into the weather, but I definitely feel like the highest I saw the weather when I checked it was 62.   Now, I was in pants and a sweater so it was okay as long as the sun was hitting me.   Then there was this cold breeze that would rip through and just make it at least ten degrees colder.   On top of that, it has been dry.  There hasn't been a lot of rain for whatever reason.   So the wind began kicking up all the dirt in the infield.  At one point, the umpire had to call timeout before the pitcher threw to let a little dirtstorm pass.   As someone who has been to see the Banditos when it's felt like 100 degrees it was strange seeing them at this sort of polar opposite weather but, yes, that's just Connecticut for you.

The Milford Monsters went into this double header with a record of 12-3 while the Banditos were 12-4.    They are in second and third place, respectively, trailing the first place Bridgeport team who is 14-3, so they are all really close up there at the top.    That meant, to me, going into this that this would be a great game because not only do you have two evenly matched teams based upon their records but you have them right at the top of the league as well.  Two evenly matched teams at the bottom of the league might be a fun game but it wouldn't be the same.

This was a classic pitcher's duel.  The Banditos had a familiar face on their mound, I believe, from Ulbrich Steel, in Dan Livingston, while the Monsters were also just bringing the heat.    Defensively, no one really seemed to make any errors and it became that proverbial chess game of who was going to break first.  Both teams had runners on base at any time but got out of the inning without any damage done.   It wasn't until the top of the 6th when the Monsters were able to score only one run and it was all that they needed.

One play that particularly bothered me during this game was a ball hit down third base line by Franciso Asencio.    Now, you have umpires behind the pitcher and at first base but I'm sitting over on the third base side and I see that ball drop on the fair side then end up going foul and it gets called foul.   I will admit that it isn't easy being an umpire and making those types of calls, so I'd let it slide, but there were at least four more balls hit to that exact same spot (and I won't say that they were all by the Monsters) and every one of them was called fair.    The key is consistency.  If you're going to call it one way for one player, call it that same way for every player.

I also realized about four innings into this game that the Milford Monsters have Willy Yahn on their team, something which I learned right at that moment.    That would explain why after today the Gators don't have any more Sunday games perhaps.   This is somehow the third team and fourth league now I've seen Willy Yahn play in.   Isn't that crazy?  It will be crazy when we look back at this and he's in MLB.

The first game felt like such a tough loss for the Banditos because it was a one run game that could have gone either way.   Both teams were just playing that good of a game of baseball.  It was something where I would forget at times how cold it was or that the wind was hitting my face and I felt like I was eating dirt because of the suspense.   The second game was not the same.   The second game the cold began to set in for me.   I knew I needed food.  I knew I needed warmth.   And I was going to have to leave by 2:30-ish any way to go to the next game.   The Monsters put up one run in the first inning.   They were breaking Dan Livingston early, as he was pitching both games.  The Monsters put up two runs in the second inning.

At this point, my uncle was here with me and I told him something like "If they put up three runs or more in the third inning, it's over and I'm leaving".   He was leaving as well because he wanted to go watch football.   I can't say for certain that the Banditos lost that second game, but the Monsters did put up three runs in the third inning, making it 6-0 when I left.    The cold was what really got to me- as we went from being in the 60's overnight to the 40's overnight- and if I had known it was going to be this cold with the wind I would have brought more layers but next weekend it will likely feel less cold any way.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Music Review //
Hey Elbow
"We Three"
(Adrian Recordings)

https://heyelbow.bandcamp.com/album/we-three //

I don't particularly like to compare music- I'm not into the whole awards thing because I feel like two different artists could have equally great albums for different reasons and there's enough room in my music collection for more than just one album a year.  But at the same time I want to say that of the music I've listened to which has been released in 2020, "We Three" by Hey Elbow has to be up there as an album of the year contender for those who subscribe to such notions.   This is not just one of the most powerful albums I've heard in 2020 but it's one of the most powerful albums I've heard in my entire life.

Following the release of "C0C0C0" this is the third album from Hey Elbow and if you're not into them yet what are you waiting for?   The first song- "Missit"- has this mantra of "denying is easy" and then "admitting is hard" and I feel like that applies to the world on  whole right now, but also just look deep inside yourself while listening to this song and see what you can uncover.  There is a dark drone with horns and then sonar frequencies bring the song to its end.    That drone continues into the next song and seems to connect them and then there is also some heavy drumming. 

The lyrics on "Nurture/Aptitude" take us through many similar statements which mean different things but perhaps my favorite is when they all come down to: "We can never see a future they didn't show us"  It's such a powerful and rebellious anthem.   This takes us into the third song, "Vignette", which mostly just has a's as the lyrics, though I still believe this is one of the single greatest albums based upon its lyrics alone.  It's one of those times where not only will you listen to the slow drone with a clear trumpet playing through and think about this being trippy jazz, but you'll also quote the lyrics in whatever the 21st Century version of away messages might be.

These big, deep, dark vocals can put you into a trance.   "Eternal" feels so cinematic and "Push" just gets the deepest of synths.   "Life Hack" has synths and drums take over as the lyrics say "You know it's always there for you" repeatedly and there's just this expanding synth bass as the whole album comes to an end on the song "Drainit" and the words come out "Deeper, deeper".  This one definitely goes out with a bang.

How can you even describe this sound Hey Elbow has created without just listening to it?  It's not quite that same synth-based feel as Pink Floyd or Rush, but there are elements of that which you could pick out at times.  In the same sense, I could compare this with Metric or Slothrust but only in the general way that I tend to compare almost every artist with them in some way.  Hey Elbow has just found this brooding sound which doesn't make you want to sit in your room and do nothing, but rather get out there and raise hell- to fight the injustice in the world and within yourself.  Hey Elbow has discovered the most powerful weapon of all. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Cassette Review //
"Cut the Shit"
(Already Dead Tapes)

$7 //
Edition of 100 //
https://alreadydeadtapes.bandcamp.com/album/cut-the-shit //

Slowly, this one begins with the drones like electricity.   It begins to get wavy now, as if the steady rock back and forth on a boat at sea.   There is a distortion behind this which just grows as well.    As it begins to screech higher notes it then drops off into these Atari pinball type of tones.    This creates a nice looping effect and it feels as if we are using sonar out at sea.  These distorted electronics find a melody and begin to build up a sound which is almost growing into sharpness.   The beats really begin to come through now and they become rapid fire.    Through a series of alien-like beeps this song seemingly comes to an end.

Sonar begins the next song with some sharp sounds like we have brakes coming in hard with the tires.  A deeper whirr joins this and takes over the sound as it has more bass now.   It feels like we're diving deeper and deeper, exploring the vast unknown but the question still lingers of whether this adventure is in outerspace or underwater.   As it feels as if we're being sucked under, pulled into this hypnotic whirring, there is no choice but to surrender as the first side reaches the end.

On the flip side we come screeching in like modems to start.    We have this definite underwater vibe now as I'm feeling like this is "JAWS" but it's less about being on the surface of the water and having a shark pop out and get you.   It sounds more like we're really far down in the water and exploring things which haven't been explored before- uncertainties which shouldn't be explored.   As it feels like it's getting wavy, the intensity just increases.   There is some sharpness here as well, but only slightly.

This all stops abruptly as some tones come through in place now which sound like guitar plucks with deep bass strings behind them.   It's slow and steady, with a feeling of despair.   Lighter little beeps come in the background now, almost in a droid way, and it still feels sullen.    There is also something video game-like about this, but in a slowed down way.  Like someone was playing an Atari game but then just really spaced out the sound.

A whirr like a helicopter now and things go quiet.   As we build more and more like a helicopter but into a solid drone I am reminded of the movie "Rambo" for some reason.   I just feel like we're in a place we really need to get out of and in a hurry.   The wind begins to just take over all of the sound as it grows and this would almost be relaxing if it didn't feel so intense.  Perhaps on more listens it might find peace, but right now it just feels like I'm being chased.  This gets a little sharp but then just keeps that rhythm going into the next part.   I feel like so much of this can just be thought of as sands going down in an hourglass.

Cassette Review //
Tiger Village
"Live on Pizza Night"

you either have it or you don't //
https://tigervillage.bandcamp.com/ //

This cassette is a recording of a performance by Tiger Village which was live on 9/16 or "Pizza Night".    I'm not sure where this live performance took place or how it was streamed either (was it Twitch? Instagram? Facebook? YouTube? Chaturbate?) but who doesn't enjoy some mystery.   This cassette is one of I'm not sure how many and there is no way to buy it, no way to link it so you can hear the digital.   It makes me question, on some level, why I'm even writing this review because no matter what I say you can't buy it anyway.  If it sucks, guess what?  You can't boycott it.  If it's the best thing you'll ever hear, guess what? You still won't hear it.   Unless someone rips the audio and puts it up on their own but that won't be me.  (Full disclosure: I do not have one of those things to make cassette music digital, but I probably should.  I can however make digital music go onto cassettes)

Through the beeps and bloops comes a lot of banging the drums.  It feels like we're in space and then it also feels like we're playing video games in space.   Through laser blasts comes a buzzing drone and eventually this takes us into the sounds of birds.   If I was better at reviewing music, I would be able to pull up a setlist and say "The following songs appear on here" and put them in order, but at the end of the day such things do not matter to me.  I like the idea of the sound more than the labels of the specific song and its name and all of that.  Imagine having two songs- each three minutes in length- but then putting them side by side and hearing them as one six minute long song.   These are the ways in which I do not wish to subscribe to your musical parameters.

Synths are going, starting and stopping, and it feels somewhat magical.    The idea that this cassette exists makes me wonder if the live set will actually exist one day.  Was it recorded to be played back later or did it just fade in cyberspace?  Since everything shut down in 2020, a lot of artists have been doing these live streaming performances and I haven't watched any of them.  I don't know why.  Some of my favorite artists have done them- for free- and I always see it in emails and think "That looks cool" but then when the time comes to actually watch it I forget and then a week later I read about it in the past tense.   How have things both slowed down and sped up since the shut down of 2020?  Does anyone else feel like this?

Now we have audio clips about the sounds of smiling I guess.  Can you make a sound when you smile?  I suppose you could laugh.  These beats just picked up and this has become quite the energetic ride.    I think now it actually says "sounds of warmth / smiling" and that is the overall idea related to this pinball machine sound and it makes sense in a nostalgia way.    A very short end of the game run takes us into some silence but then we return with a video game sound which reminds me of Super Marios Bros.   We're just going in and out of sounds now, some banging, some beeping, but mostly it feels like we're turning knobs.

On the flip side it sounds like voices are speaking through the video games or a pinball machine.  Horns come through now and the percussion is also at the front.   This feels like a fun but glitching video game.   The audio clip is about smiling again and it also says "one".   This does feel like a continuation of the song going on before, as we find ourselves in dead air now which might mean the end of the cassette.

Music Review //
Allegra Krieger
"The Joys of Forgetting"
(Northern Spy Records)

"The Joys of Forgetting" is available on record, compact disc and digitally.
https://allegrakrieger.bandcamp.com/album/the-joys-of-forgetting //

When I first heard the two singles released prior to this album I knew that anything Allegra Krieger did was something I had to go out of my way to listen to.   Little did I know that "The Joys of Forgetting" would speak to me in such an incredible way.  I have always been one to remember everything.  I just have one of those memories.  If I meet you once and am told your name, I will remember your name forever.   This might seem like a cool gift but when you take into account that you can then clearly remember all of the bad things as well- going back to when I was a kid- you just have all this darkness in your mind that other people probably can forget.

"The Joys of Forgetting" is something I'd like to experience more.  I recently had this moment where I actually forgot something- I had to look it up- and that gave me hope that maybe I can learn to forget.   I've always thought about how convenient it would be to have a movie like "Eternal Sunshine" become real, where you could just pick pieces you didn't want out of your mind and get rid of them.  Though that actual process used in the movie might not be a reality, I think, all these years later, I'm beginning to realize that the idea of forgetting is still something you can choose to do and I'm getting a little bit better at it every day.

I would refer to the sound of Allegra Krieger as dark pop.  There are acoustics behind a beautiful voice and it can feel like folk but there is also something which commands attention about these songs.   I'm not sure who to compare this with other than a little bit of Mazzy Star.   There are sad strings throughout this album and the first song really tells a story in the lyrics, which is why I think of it as folk or Tom Petty but it's not quite the same in the delivery of the music.

On "Every Side Of You" I almost get a country vibe and then there is this line I like:

"I should leave pretense behind / Affection is easy, loving takes time"

"Forget" is this huge song which is more of a dramatic play accompanied by a symphony than an actual song.   There are the lines "I forgot all about me" and "Forget all about me" which really resonate with me.   The song becomes distorted and you can hear strings breaking as it reaches the end.   It's really just so cinematic.

"Come In" has a lighter feel to it, though it gets heavier at the end as the lyrics say "It's going well".   The acoustic guitars really keep the rest of these songs going.   In that way, I'm not sure how to describe it but I can say that I've listened to the Lana Del Rey album "NFR" more times than I probably should and if you're one of those people who is ~too cool~ to listen to LDR or just happen to be a fan and are looking for something similar, I do hear a bit of that in this.  It's not the same on paper, but there are similar vibes and I cannot wait to listen to this one in the winter.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Cassette Review //
Primal Winds
"The Renegades"
(Hand'Solo Records)

$15 //
Edition of 50 //

We start this cassette by telling us that the uprising has begun.  Synths come in with robotic vocals and then vocals come in with beats now.   This reminds me of 2 Skinnie J's and MC Chris.   There are these nice computer vocals singing in the chorus.   I also like that there is a "Pole Position" way about this, that it feels somewhat like a video game.   

The next song seems to be about "The Grid" (which is the title) and it feels like "Tron" or 
"The Matrix".   Synths come in with some power.    This has a definite 1980's type of synth way about it, like "Weird Science", and it's just fun.   It's full of energy, yet I also imagine it being made in Windows 95.   This takes us into a song which definitely has video game vibes and I remember the Fun Lovin' Criminals for some reason.

He just said "Just like the fear in your mind, you need to conquer it" and that should be a mantra everyone lives by.   Isn't it funny how we don't take chances in our lives and we'll blame it on any number of factors but it always seems to come back to being about fear.   I know I've been thinking this one sounds like video games but the fourth track just confirms it- referencing the power glove and many other video games.

I've been a fan of 8bit style music for some time now and this isn't really what I'd consider to be that in a musical sense but the idea behind it- the connection to video games and computers- is there and I do enjoy that as well.   "MCP" says they're taking us back to the '80's and they even shout out heroes in a halfshell.  While there were the live action TMNT and Super Mario Bros. movies in the 1990's, I think if there was a similar movie in that time made (maybe Sonic? Donkey Kong?) this would be a good soundtrack for it.  

But then you listen to a song like "Repurposed" and realize these rhymes are legit and can go quite hard.   Certain aspects of this make it feel more like a retro hip-hop, a throwback if you will, but that doesn't make it any less good and really the reason why I keep thinking of it in reference to the past tense is because not a lot of rappers (none?) haven't kept this style going and they really should have (But if there is some hidden scene for this, please turn me on to it)

The song "Griefers" has this way about it which makes me think of some sound between Kottonmouth Kings and Twenty One Pilots.   It's actually a really fun anthem with the beats and overall "Space Invaders" type of march. 

On the flip side we start with "Congratulations, programs, you have been selected for the games" and this really is some movie from the 1980's, right?    There are some definite "Street Fighter" type of vibes in here- some games from the NES and SNES are being played where you walk around and beat the crap out of everyone.  Many people remember that old NES TMNT game for this, but I also relate it with that other NES game for Robocop.

I got lost in the music for a while here and I was thinking about whether or not you would have to be into video games in order to like this cassette.  I think, on some level, you could simply appreciate this for the art of it- for the music.  I mean, sometimes I listen to love songs but I'm not in love.  I'm not sure someone who wasn't into video games and the such would get as many of the references in here but that's okay.   While it would help if you had seen the movie "The Wizard" before listening to this cassette it is not essential for the overall enjoyment of it.  

Cassette Review //
(Already Dead Tapes)

$7 //
Edition of 100 //
https://alreadydeadtapes.bandcamp.com/album/if-youve-got-the-hammer //

When I see the name Coach Campa, I immediately think of Tommaso Ciampa and because my mind is weird I kind of forget about the "coach" part and go into this place where it's actually "Camp Ciampa" and that is a lot like that old animated series "Camp Candy" only the role of camp counselor played by the late, great John Candy is being played by Tommaso Ciampa (which I think would be a great animated series for The WWE Network, by the way)  I feel a little bit better when I see song titles such as "Learning How to Fall off a 20 Ft. Ladder" and "MUSCLE BUSTER" because it makes me feel like if someone in Coach Campa is reading this they won't "wtf" at my wrestling references.

The group of Coach Campa is made up of Ethan Campa on drums and his Blithe and Pinko
bandmate Jared Flores, Chris Dunaway from Giant Battle Monster and MOTHS and Discogs didn't tell me a lot about Jacob Gonzalez, Abel Gonzalez oe Stephen Flores.  This sound is tricky to place because when you think of something being fast paced with the drumming but then there are horns in it, you create this sound of jazz punk.  There aren't really any artists I can think of who have made music like this as it isn't quite the same as say Sweep the Leg Jonny.   It's almost fast enough to where it could be ska, but it doesn't have that reggae rhythm so it's not.

This does flip the switch at one point though, the horns bow out and it becomes rather fast paced with heavily distorted guitars.  This is punk in a grunge way and then it almost sounds like sludge.   It's actually really something you'd want to put on when you're skating- that perfect line between Black Sabbath and Bad Brains.   By the end of the first side, these two sounds of the heavy distortion and horns come together and it's not something that can be as simply defined as "jazz punk" but it's unlike anything I've heard before so I don't really have a term to describe it.   The trumpet seems to create a sound like laser blasts before the first side comes to an end.

On the flip side those laser-like sounds return but they begin to feel like they are expanding.  If you can consider the first side to be a punk side of whatever type of jazz/metal combination this is, then the second side is more of the experimental side.   There is a lighter sound on this side where it feels like almost the opposite of what was going on during the first side with that heavy distortion.  Yet through it all, the horns and drums seem to remain the same, so I suppose it's just the guitars that change. 

I once knew someone back in the early '00's who didn't like ska to the point where they wouldn't listen to anything with horns in it.   You make a blanket statement like that and you can miss out on some great music.  I hope that they are listening to music with horns in it now, some twenty years later, but even if you're one of those "I don't really like jazz" or whatever genre- this isn't the same.   It's unlike anything I've ever heard before and I can type the band names and genre codes up there in hopes of attracting people who like that sort of thing but if you're one of those who doesn't like those things, still give this a shot because at least you can say you heard something different.