Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Music Review //
"Desert of Our Dreams"
(Big Round Music)

https://vannon.bandcamp.com/album/desert-of-our-dreams //

When you consider music and its various genres, there is always this way about it which could be simple or it could just as easily be complex.   Vannon, for example, creates music under the vast genre known as metal.   This is something that is easy enough to type and while there have certainly been artists out there who could simply be described as metal, that idea gets much more complex than that for Vannon.

The first song on "Desert of Our Dreams" is a minute long instrumental intro and then the last song is a twelve minute opus.   In between we have songs ranging from that growling metal with singing like the bands on Victory Records back when I was first listening to Atreyu, Scars Of Tomorrow and Dead To Fall.   But there is also some more melody within these songs and at times they can remind me of Metallica.

Through killer guitars and huge percussion, "The First and Last" is a song which reminds me more of Audioslave than anything else.    Once again, my knowledge of modern metal which might be closest to something from the big hair era starts and ends with Fozzy, but I'm slowly exploring the genre with more artists and Vannon can be amongst that group.   "Above the Stars" has more of a ballad feel to it with the acoustics, but as much as you can be surprised by one song to the next that can also just change during the song itself.

Once you discover rock music you seem to find at least one metal band you like and stick with them throughout your life.  I've always liked the metal bands who sounded heavy but didn't really fit in with anyone else because they just explored too many other sounds within that overall sound of metal.   Not many bands do it because it is not easy, but Vannon has a rather distinct way of doing it and they are damn good at it.  

Friday, September 24, 2021

Music Review //
Avi Wisnia
"Catching Leaves"


When the song "Catching Leaves" begins, it puts me at peace.  There is a strong piano vibe from this one, which makes me feel like we're in a lounge singer atmosphere and that just cannot be stressful.  There is also this slight aspect of the style of Avi Wisnia which makes me think of this as being from the soundtrack to a children's film, much like Jack Johnson with "Curious George".   In all fairness though, the subject matter and overall pleasing sound of the song could very well be suited for listeners of all ages.

With a little bit of folk, I think of this song as sounding most like Ben Folds.   It's easy to say that though because the sounds you hear most are the piano plus voice.   I do expect at some point for this song to trail off with a "la la la la la" but it never does.    There are strings closer to the end, and then right before the end you can even hear the leaves begin to rustle and it just paints that musical picture.

As someone who was born in New England, moved out of New England and then moved back into New England I must admit that I enjoy the seasons, even though they seem to become shorter every year.   I think about how when I moved to Houston, for example, there weren't really seasons and the leaves didn't really change the same way there as they do in Connecticut.  Since I've just always kind of had leaves in my life (in autumn) I suppose it is something to consider for those out there who don't experience the same seasons.

There is an element of folk within "Catching Leaves" and on some level it can just sound like the piano ballad put on an otherwise rock-based album.   But that rock-based album might be closer to emo, and it might be closer to something from the early '00's such as Sherwood.  But the one song I did specifically think of was "Shades of Grey" by Waking Ashland, which I just feel is so great and so overlooked that Avi Wisnia should not be ignored.  

Friday, September 17, 2021

Music Review //
Eddie Berman
"Broken English"


When listening to "Broken English" for the first time there is this steady pace about it where I feel like eventually it's just going to kick in and become this huge rock song but it never does.   Sometimes though the reality of art is better than what our minds are trained to perceive as patterns and I do believe I enjoy this song a lot more because of the consistent nature of it, rather than it just feeling like it's building up to something and then exploding at the end.

The sound of Eddie Berman is tricky because it's this mellow rock that could kick in at any moment and seemingly draw easier comparisons, but as it stands there isn't a direct sound which relates with it.   Artists on the radio such as Mumford & Sons, Hozier, Pearl Jam and even Kings of Leon come out but mostly in a way which you hear them in portions of their songs and not for an entire song.   The sound is also unique because it has a upbeat pace to it- it is not a slow moving song- but it does feel like it's moving in slow motion, which just makes it calming.

During this music video there are images- mostly in lines- of color on top of a black background.  I really like this because whenever you tend to go to an art store for supplies you'll buy canvas to paint or a sketchbook and they're always white.  I enjoy the fact that sometimes you can buy that format to create art on and not have it be white.  I also like how this reminds me of the laser rock shows from the 1980's, which I mostly attribute to Pink Floyd and, yes, that can make this song feel trippy.

As this is rock it almost borders on something that Johnny Cash might have made.  It reminds me of that one Mumford & Sons song that everyone knows and how it is in the verse, only "Broken English" doesn't kick into the whole "But it was not your fault but mine".   By the end of this song though you will find yourself singing along with the line: "Don't you want us to be anything at all", which feels like such a great mantra for such a great song.  

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Wrestling Review //
Pro Wrestling Magic
JGeorge's Cinematic Masterpiece
@ Knights Of Columbus, Ridgefield Park, NJ

When we were last at Pro Wrestling Magic live it was a special time because they had just began airing on IWTV and they had announced this show would be their live debut on IWTV as well.  Unfortunately, that meant watching the previously taped shows playing out over the months leading up to this and a decent amount of time away from the Magic Kingdom.    But Pro Wrestling Magic was determined to put on a show which would have the wrestling world talking and they did just that.

From what I gather, there were three matches which began at 5:30 and were taped for a later date, so the show started with a match at 6:30 between Jessie Nolan and Little Mean Kathleen.  I'm pretty sure that this match aired in real time on IWTV before going to a video package and then more matches at 7pm.  That's how I figured it based upon what was said before the match started and all.

Little Mean Kathleen is no stranger to Pro Wrestling Magic and Jessie Nolan was making her second appearance.  Jessie Nolan looks like a wrestler, has the music and comes out where she just presents herself as a wrestler and if you're on the other side of the ring from her that might not be where you want to be.   I feel like I've seen Little Mean Kathleen face a lot of opponents similar in size to her, but even though it felt like Jessie Nolan would have the advantage of power here, LMK has that tenacity which quite frankly frightens me.

So I'm going with- in my mind- that the first ever match that was live on IWTV for Pro Wrestling Magic was between Jessie Nolan and Little Mean Kathleen and that's pretty cool.  If this is not true, I will just refuse to hear it and whatever you have to do to see this match: do it.  I'm hoping to see both LMK and Jessie Nolan in title matches against Jordan Blade one day, but putting them against Erica Leigh is also something I believe the world of professional wrestling would enjoy.

Before the 7pm start time there were instructions given by Shane Fair and then music was played.   I've never been to a wrestling show before where it was their first time being live on IWTV (Though I have been to shows which were taped and became the IWTV debut of the promotion) so I'm not sure what other promotions have done before their first live show on IWTV *but* I can tell you that a lot of the people involved with making this show possible were spending the time leading up to it (minutes before) dancing around to Paramore, The Killers and other songs.  

I imagine a lot of people would be stressed out, nervous, anxious- a lot of the things which I would picture myself feeling.  But to see the cast and crew of Pro Wrestling Magic just having a blast and using this time like a party rather than to think "Oh no what if this goes wrong" was pretty neat.   I'm not sure any other promotion does this, but that's just another thing to add to that list of ways in which Pro Wrestling Magic stands out from the rest of the promotions out there.

During the Jessie Nolan-LMK match I was cheering for Jessie Nolan.  The crowd seemed split, but for the rest of the show I had in my mind who I was going to cheer and who I was going to boo.   That's just another little interesting piece of information which made the first match so special, because it was that feeling of the crowd being behind both wrestlers on some level and at the end of it as well.

I definitely wouldn't have wanted to be the one to decide a match order but opening with Smiley vs Sebastian Cage was a good starting point.  Both have been staples in PWM and it gives off that vibe of "If you watch this match and stick around, you'll be hooked on Magic".   Sebastian Cage had this great move he did running into the ring but at the end of the match, Smiley got the victory.   Smiley is just someone you always have to watch over your back to look out for and at some point I would imagine Smiley goes for the title again as well.

TJ Crawford was really over with the Magic Kingdom and why wouldn't he be.   The guy has been having instant classic matches all year long and when he doesn't do so as a singles wrestler he does so with Love, Doug as a tag team.  Azrieal is someone that the crowd booed and I stand by my belief that "Smooth" by Rob Thomas and Santana is a played out song.   Though TJ Crawford won this match, he was attacked by both Azrieal and Trey Felipe post match, which really makes me think that we could be close to Love, Doug coming to the Magic Kingdom.

In the # 1 Contender Match, we first had a fiveway that Daniel Garcia was pulled from (probably because of commitments to AEW, which is what it is) but then we were told before the match that MV Young was injured and wouldn't be there so it would be a threeway.   Erica Leigh came out and said she was a fighting Champion so she wanted to pick someone to put into the match and this lead to the PWM debut of Becca, who is everywhere these days and rightfully so.

This match was pretty crazy because there were four competitors in it and JGeorge felt like he was in it the least even though he won.  I've seen Ace Romero wrestle a lot but I don't think I'll ever get over how agile he is for his size.   I'll also never tire of seeing how far he yeets people when he hits that Pounce.   I really like the story this match told because it felt for quite some time like Becca would win it and the crowd was fully behind her.

Ace Romero was eventually distracted by Alec Price long enough for JGeorge to sneak in and get the win.  As Tony Deppen was leaving he asked "Did I win?"  I told him "Yes, come back in November and face Erica Leigh for the title", to which Tony Deppen said "She don't want the smoke".   Perhaps I am unintentionally starting a feud there, but what a match that would be.  

Also, let's think about this match and how you could say that Tony Deppen is representing ROH, while Ace Romero has been in Impact and then Becca holds titles all over MA.   JGeorge, of course, could be thought of as representing PWM, but just the way that you can take these successful wrestlers in other promotions and bring them all together in a # 1 Contender's Match just shows how great the state of professional wrestling is right now.

Last time Jess and I saw Lady Frost live was at Beyond and she legitimately hurt her ankle.  So when Jordan Blade was in her corner pre-match and Jess told her "She has a weak ankle!" Jordan Blade responded "Yeah she does".   When at the show live I can't hear commentary (but I will eventually watch it back to listen to them) but the idea that Lady Frost did injure her ankle recently and Jordan Blade is the taker of ankles made this match that much more compelling.

On a show with four huge title match, three of them were in a row and two of those titles changed hands.  This also meant that we were having back-to-back title changes, which was interesting in its own right.   I'm only making note of this because of how it played out with the live crowd.   I truly believe that the reaction of cheers and overall happiness that Everett Cross got when he became the new Dark Arts Champion was only met at the same level as Donovan becoming the new Junior Heavyweight Champion but Donovan got the boos.

To say the Magic Kingdom doesn't like Darius Carter is an understatement because they more than just don't like him and it's not just Pro Wrestling Magic-- it's everywhere that he goes! The title win of Everett Cross felt so huge because people not only love Everett Cross that much but because they despise Darius Carter equally.   This was how it felt with Saieve Al Sabah and Donovan because as much as people want to boo Donovan, we all also love Saieve Al Sabah that much.   Just a complete flip of emotions between those two title changes.

To see MSP vs American Murder Society was quite the match as they are both veteran teams in their own right and the style clash between the two just made for excellent in ring action.  What was more interesting than the match perhaps though was the aftermath.  Adam Payne (who had been on commentary) came in the ring to presumably attack MSP but then he was attacked himself by the duo.    Could MSP be in line for a Tag Team Title shot now?  And what does Wrecking Ball Legursky (the other half of the Tag Team Champions / Balls of Pain) think about all of this?

Erica Leigh and Killian McMurphy had a great match which was a truly fitting way to end their feud.   When Big Dust was ejected from ringside, I fully expected him to put on a hat and fake moustache and try to come back out.  But this was a match which I feel like Erica Leigh needed to shift into the next phase of her career, one in which she doesn't have to constantly feel like she's looking over her shoulder for Goons.   Killian McMurphy put on a great show but at the end of the night, Erica Leigh was just better.

Regardless of how you feel about JGeorge and whether or not you feel like he won that match and deserves a title shot against Erica Leigh, him coming out and laying her out after her match just throws all of that out the window because now the only thing that matters is seeing Erica Leigh kick JGeorge's ass.   I can't say what other matches will happen in November (There are no spoilers there) but MSP in a Tag Team Title match and possibly Jordan Blade vs LMK and a rematch between Donovan and Saieve Al Sabah all sound good to me.  Oh, and how about a fourway match to determine a number one contender to the Women's Championship?  That could be fun.

There was also an incident during this show which was struck from the replay (I feel like it'd be worse not to address it here, but I don't want anyone to feel like they have to relive it) and I said what I needed to say in regards to it on Twitter from a serious stand point, but in a serious and yet also storyline way that all could have perhaps been avoided with the simple help of The Meadowlands Monster.    So maybe one day we'll also see him back, fighting for the title that he never actually lost.

Music Review //
Mother Ghost
(Geodesic Records)


When listening to Mother Ghost there are two different sounds which come through, thus merging together to form a brand new rock sound.  There is this distinct sound of post punk, which makes me think of such mainstream artists as Neon Trees and The Killers but with something else mixed in.   There is also that experimental indie rock vibe as I can hear artists such as Modest Mouse and Brazil come out.

On "La Petite Morte" there is a strong bass line and it almost becomes funk.   That is followed up by "White God" which has a certain Twenty One Pilots way about it.   But then when we get into "Brundlefly" there is a definite old school synthwave sound as the synths just seem to take over.   This, in turn, leads us to "Waves", which has a Franz Ferdinand dance way about it.  "Avarice" gets dark near the end and while "Criminal" can get screamy, "Raices (dirt)" is a big more of electronic dance.

The lyrics are really something to pay attention to, as fast paced as these songs might be.   On the first song there are the lines: "We're not wanted / But we don't care. / We're not leaving / We still call this home."   Based on the title "Hiding in a Dumpster Waiting for ICE Agents" this just makes me think about the idea of how no person should be illegal.   This idea is also revisited during the last song.   Though this feels like a politically charged album in that way (and you should take note of it) not all of the songs are that way.

I had to pause the titular track because even though it is this nice indie pop number you can hear something else going on behind it (on my laptop I thought I had another tab open and playing)  This song also offers up the highly relatable lyrics: "All my friends / I push them away / I don't need them / I'm all alone / It's all my fault".   Whether you want to take a political stance or just a look at your own life choices, Mother Ghost has crafted the essential album to do just that.  

Music Review //
Serious Sam Barrett
"The Seeds Of Love"


The music of Serious Sam Barrett is what I think of when I think of what folk music sounds like.  There are three distinct sounds on "The Seeds Of Love", though they can all be traced back to what can be considered folk and if singer/song-writer is still a genre to you then they could be part of that as well.   Most importantly though they just feel like songs of the people because they have the qualities in which you could literally set up anywhere and begin playing them.

On the first song- "Valentine's Day"- there are vocals and a banjo.   This happens again on songs such as "Bushes And Briars" and "Bonny May".   As a banjo can be this element of folk music, it always makes me think of Steve Martin or Kermit the Frog and less about someone who has used it for a serious sound.   However, there are musicians out there (even on the radio) who create music using banjos and other instruments and so in that way this does remind me of them a little bit.

"The Wagonner" explores the second sound of Serious Sam Barrett and that is the guitar strum with the vocals singing.   This also happens on "The Recruited Collier", which feels a little bit like Bob Dylan to me.   There is also an aspect to this music which you will hear in all three sounds (but perhaps most with the acoustic guitar) which makes me think of Flogging Molly.   It's not the same kind of fast paced punk, but it has a similar spirit.

Somehow the last sound is my favorite even though it is the most stripped down.   Songs such as "Every Night Has An Ending", "Drowsy Sleeper" and "Was On An April Morning" are only vocals.   I really enjoy how this sound can still create a melody all on its own and it feels like it puts more of a focus on that as well as the lyrics.   The addition of the banjo or acoustic guitar just feels like a bonus after hearing that so if you're into folk music then this album is perfect for you.  

Music Review //
"Take Over"


The sound of Har'Monique exists within that of the hip hop guidelines but it also branches out within them to other related genres.  There are beats which make me want to get up and dance to this one.   There are some sounds which make me feel like this has soul and also that R&B way about it.   But within the singing on the chorus it can feel as if this song almost branches off into reggae. 

There is a fast pace to this song which makes it feel like it could be played in clubs and on the radio.   Though it might not be 100% the same, "Take Over" can still exist within that same pop radio stream as artists such as Dua Lipa, Doja Cat and Nicki Minaj.  This is an easily identifiable sound- not to make a comparison with, but to decide within the first few seconds of hearing it whether or not you like it.

Something also needs to be said for how this song takes me back to sounding like something I would buy as a cassingle.   Artists like Mya, Brandy, Aaliyah and even Gloria Estefan can be heard within.   Whether intentional or not, I enjoy how this song and the musical style of Har'Monique can take me back to the past because many times music just feels like it can translate with listeners better when it has that nostalgia factor.

If you're looking to find a fast paced dance number that can touch upon the past while creating a new sound for the future then "Take Over" is right for you.    The way this song sounds, Har'Monique could create an album with a ballad on it or an even faster club number and I wouldn't be surprised.   The way that this leaves the overall sound to expand and still remain grounded is perhaps my favorite part.  

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Music Review //
"Falling in Love with Being Alive"



With the name Hippy I would expect this to sound more like a jam 

band, something like Phish, than it does and the fact that it doesn't sound like that isn't a bad thing at all.   When the album first starts the sound I hear reminds me of the song "Come Together" and that has a bit of that free love vibe I expected but that's really about where that comparison ends.

Overall this sound feels very specific to the 1980's when there was this acoustic version of pop rock on the radio.   Hippy would fit in so perfectly with artists such as Genesis, John Mellencamp and Tom Petty, as this music is a blend of those styles but also with an added touch all their own.  I also feel like, especially on "Vicious Circle", that this one brings out some Toad the Wet Sprocket, but in some ways I'm sure you could trace those '90's vibes back to the '80's.

On some level you can listen to these songs and not pay much attention to the lyrics but still get a lot out of it- they're such solid songs.   But at the same time, if you choose to listen to and really dissect the lyrics you're also going to have a good time because as the hook says in the titular track: "I wanna fall in love with being alive".   That's something I feel like a lot of people struggle with because with most people (sometimes myself included) it just feels like we're trying to get by.

The song "Deep River Man" has a full out police chase on it in audio form and so if you're listening to this album while driving it is possible you think you are getting pulled over.  This remains one of those things that musicians do that I don't like (because I fall for it) but also if I was a musician I would totally do it.    Still, this acoustic brand of rock should leave you wanting more as they just don't make bands like this anymore.  

Music Review //
Scotty Karate
"Always Honey"
(Ravine Records)

https://scottykaratemusic.bandcamp.com/album/always-honey //

When I first press play on "Always Honey" a song comes on called "Lot Lot" in which a voice and acoustic guitar bring the chorus about how to make a lot lot of people feel good good.   This makes me think, right away, of this as being a folk type of song but also something you might get up and sing in front of children.   I'm not sure if there is anyone out there to compare this with along those lines other than Raffi, but yes, that is what I hear in the first song every time I hear it.

The titular track comes on next and has a distorted guitar.  This takes us into a group of songs which can range anywhere from rock n roll to country-ish to blues-ish.   Artists like Sonny & the Sunsets, The Honorary Title, Johnny Cash and Two Gallants can be heard within these sounds by me.   While "SSMM" can have this feeling of just the electric guitar and vocals, "Ruby Red" can have the same feeling of guitar and vocals though with the guitar being acoustic instead.   There are other sounds in here (bass, drums) but it's just that the guitar and vocals stand out the most.

I can hear some of the Reverend Horton Heat as "He's the DD" becomes an almost blues number.   For what it's worth, my favorite song on this album is "Gone It" because it is slow, dreamy and acoustic.    "Icy Road" is a bit of that old fashioned rambling sound while there is also a very well done cover of "Unchained Melody", which I feel like even if you don't know is by The Righteous Brothers originally you can still recognize the song because of the overall impact it has had on music.

What I love about this album is that Scotty Karate takes this sound- such as, say, that of Johnny Cash- and just delivers it in a way where you can hear that source material still but at the end of the last song you're just left thinking about this as being a Scotty Karate sound.  I have a soft spot for Johnny Cash but I also really enjoy music that is along that line of not quite exactly Buddy Holly and not quite exactly country but somewhere in between.   Scotty Karate pulls it off masterfully.  

Music Review //
Rock of Asia
"Lal Dhaga"


One of the aspects of Rock of Asia which I enjoy so much is just how the music feels like it represents a culture.   Throughout this video, you get a glimpse into that culture through the wardrobe, visuals of art and just live city scenes.   At the end of the video it does tell you that it was filmed in India and Japan, which in itself is broad, but it does help in a sense of putting this sound on a map.

There is also quite a bit of the live performance in here- which can be on a stage and also elsewhere- which I feel just opens up the door to see what this looks like and how the music is created.    What sounds to me like a flute is technically called a "Shakuhachi" and is being played by Kizen Ohyama.   If you do a Google search on the term Shakuhachi you will find that it shares characteristics with a flute but one of my favorite things to see related to it is that it is also called the "Samurai Flute".

In addition to the sound of this there is also the dancing and movement which comes with the live show.   Because of the cultural aspect of this all, I am fascinated by Rock of Asia.   But seeing these images with this music makes me feel like this would be a live show unlike any other- just a big production and something you would have to experience as audio and visual to fully appreciate.   

I've been listening to Rock of Asia for a bit now and the music itself has just brought me in.   Seeing this video makes me want to go to a concert or an entire festival of similar sounds and just soak it all in.   While you may not be as interested as I am in this, it can just be listened to in a casual way but just having it out there within your playlist or rotation of music videos just feels important for representation.  

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Music Review //
Celebrity Warship Culture
"Recreational Everything"

::: click here to listen :::

Celebrity Warship Culture has created a certain blend of rock which crosses through different genres but remains something loud, fast paced and definitely needed to be heard.  When the first song comes on- "Recreational Everything"- it this weird, almost uninviting way about it, as if they're testing out whether or not you want to stick around for the rest of the album.  This becomes less odd as the rest of the songs form, but it is still not quite conventional.

During the second song I hear a bit of what can only be described as Pearl Jam during their "Vitalogy" era.   "Medicational Nothing" has these screams and is a bit out there, which has me thinking about mewithoutYou, though also mixed with something else.   This partly reminds me of early Liars, somewhat of Reflector and something else I can't quite put my finger on but it would have been a perfect fit for the bands I was listening to in the early 00's like Eleventeen, Time Spent Driving and Alison Ranger.

There is a certain amount of melody on "Rebirther" while "Current Nostalgia" reminds me of The Hold Steady.   "R(Evolution)" is a nice rock ballad while we then get into a song called "Bill Hader" which is just heavily distorted and screaming, the true example of an album going out with a bang.   This also makes me think of the band MARRIAGE + CANCER and though I do think of them quite often it's rarely because I hear them in other artists (which is a shame because I love them so much there should be a little bit of them in all rock music)

What I love most about this album is that even though it can sound like different genres there aren't really a lot of artists to compare it with specifically.  This reminds me of something from the late 1990's (post grunge) that I would listen to, such as 1000 Mona Lisas and Dandelion, or something from the early '00's such as Christiansen.    In those ways and in that overall rock genre aspect of it, this is just that type of rock I can't always describe but I always love it. 

Music Review //
Sonic Fuel

As someone who is older I think about time a lot and with that how there are adults out there who are legally allowed to consume alcohol in the United States but were not alive in the 20th Century.   While I'm not sure of the exact time to pinpoint it, there was a time when rock n roll used to be dangerous but at some point in time (and if you were born in or after the year 2000 you likely missed it) music just stopped being so much of a threat.

The video for "Karma" opens with a little boy named Donnie rocking out on his guitar while listening to Sonic Fuel.   His mom busts in and tells him that he's not allowed to listen to that devil music and there are some strong "Detroit Rock City" vibes happening.  Right away though, this video makes me question whether or not there are children out there listening to modern bands and wanting to grow up to be like them the way kids did with Kiss, for example.   I don't even want to think about what bands might be considered in this day and age.

Eventually, during the music video, Donnie ends up watching the band Sonic Fuel play the song "Karma" and they just rock out with it.   With hints of Seether and Puddle of Mudd, Sonic Fuel has a line in the chorus about how karma is a bitch which makes me wonder if the radio would edit it out or let it slide.   This is also part of that idea of making rock n roll dangerous again, just to the extent that so many mainstream rock bands are non-threatening.

At the end of the video, Donnie has a conversation with the leader singer of Sonic Fuel and is reassured that he won't be going to Hell for listening to their music.   I like this video not just because this is such a great song and not just because it has that concept of a child wanting to grow up to be a rock star (which I think society is lacking right now) but also because it demonstrates how music can feel dangerous (such as the idea of playing the records backwards) and yet at the same time be safe.  

Monday, September 13, 2021

Music Review //
Sheri Miller
"Gold Hearted Man"

While music with guitars can often times be heard as rock n roll, Sheri Miller has a way of taking a guitar-based dance song with "Gold Hearted Man" and turning it into something else, something unlike what is in the world of music today.  Right away this song comes off as being Top 40 when you press play on it but I do feel like if you were listening to more songs by Sheri Miller they might become different levels of rock, the way an artist like Alanis Morissette does.

At first, during the verses, "Gold Hearted Man" has this sound which reminds me of Shania Twain.   I enjoy this because it's just that sort of country but really rocking sound like you'd hear when being told that you aren't impressive.   This, however, takes a turn more towards the rock side of music with the chorus and the sneaky bass line.   There is enough country in this song to make fans of that genre give it a listen but there are also those Florence and the Machine parts for the rock fans.

"Gold Hearted Man" has a lyric video which is a still image with the lyrics appearing on screen as they come out during the song.  This is another example of how I like lyric videos just because the lyrics are something you want to focus on during this song to full understand it.  The lines: "I once was the desert / Now I'm the Nile" explain a lot of what is going on in this song and it just feels like it's about wanting or needing something and then getting it and feeling fulfilled.  You can do that in any aspect of your life.

Much of this song is kind of a trick being played on your mind but in a good way.  When you really begin to analyze it, the title itself can be the same as a Neil Young song only with the words twisted around.   But this song is also from the point of view of wanting that man with a heart of gold, which might not be easy to find but you definitely have to try and not just for a man but to aim for the best in everything that you do.  

Music Review //
No Future No Past
"the Plug"

https://open.spotify.com/track/0rdGG0jF1ALFgRCTCXvdQZ?si=b49d4559ff554cd5&nd=1 //

When I first listen to "the Plug" I hear it as being a bit like Post Malone because there is singing within what feels like hip hop vibes.  Granted, the most I know about Post Malone comes from that song he did for "Into the Spiderverse", so the comparison is really just based off of that song as well.   The sound of No Future No Past also has this chillwave aspect to it where you can just put it on to either go fast or slow depending upon what you are doing.

There exists this theory within the world of music that if you're going to be a band or an artist and not be your own name or a stage name (like the Billy Joel and Elton John types) then you need a name which would look good on a t-shirt.  I fully support the idea of having your name be something you'd like to see on merchandise and the name No Future No Past (or even to make it "N.F.N.P.") would be something I would definitely wear on a t-shirt.

Possibly taken from a song by Cloud Nothings, No Future No Past is an interesting concept because it indicates that you should not worry about tomorrow (that's anxiety) nor should you worry about yesterday (which is depression) and there is only the right now.  I love that idea of it because it reminds you to live in the moment without it feeling like it's being said in a cheesy way or a way which is overdone.

While "the Plug" has the type of sound you would hear on mainstream radio, I particularly enjoy how it can feel like something from the future (as I said, a Post Malone) but also it has elements of the past because I can hear a bit of PM Dawn within these sounds.   From the past to the future, the sound of No Past No Future is right now.   If listening to music in the present tense isn't enough for you then hopefully this song also helps you to live for the moment.  

Music Review //
Blue and Broke
"Was it Worth it"

The story behind this song is explained within the opening sequence of the video and it is that in 1762 Jean-Jacques Rousseau published "Emile" but would later go on to force his wife to give up five newborn babies for adoption.   The fact that this song and video is bringing attention to that is quite important because I feel like it is something which is not being taught in the schools, to the extent that I at least don't remember ever learning it before.

This song begins with these soulful vocals and the sound which you might have heard from a singer in the times when singers existed in clubs and musicians were behind them playing the piano.  I know there are likely better examples out there but when I think of this I always go back to the character of Jessica Rabbit.   By the end of this song too you will also hear this cool slide of the Doors-like keys which creates a gospel vibe.

While I am usually a big believer in music videos needing to be visual to the point where it feels like something is going on, this particular video by Blue and Broke is an image of a single person singing in front of a black background.   This is important to me though because it makes it feel like you're just being stared in the face and confronted about something which perhaps you do not wish to be confronted about.   

"Was it Worth it" has a very precise message.  The lyrics wonder whether or not the five children given up for adoption look like the mother or father.  Unless if you have also been forced to give up five children for adoption, you might find it difficult to relate to this song (And if you have been forced to give up five children for adoption you have my sympathies)  There still exists a place in music though where songs don't have to feel relatable in order for them to be must listen and this just proof of that.

Music Review //
Dylan Tauber
"Lone Satellite"

Listening to instrumental music can tend to take me to one of several places, which can be in the desert, in the middle of the ocean or lost in space for the most part.   Having this video to accompany the song "Lone Satellite" is nice because it just confirms my belief that this song (and perhaps all of the other songs I thought of it as well) is about drifting through space.  But within that, there is also a sense of isolation which can be scary.

This song has these beats which drop and make me think of the song "Fairly Local" by Twenty One Pilots.   They play on a loop with vocals which just make the oooh's and ahhh's as opposed to words.   The whole song is set to the same moderate pace.  It doesn't feel too slowed down to where you feel like you're about to approach your last breath, but it is getting there and that sets a unique tone.

During the course of this video you will see a satellite, planets and space.   It gives you that view of what you would likely see (Don't quote me on that, I'm not an astronaut) from space if you were in a satellite by yourself.  If you watch this video more than once you will begin to pick up on certain scenes which replay throughout.   I enjoy this as being a slight loop because I imagine that if you were by yourself, on a satellite in space (basically just waiting to die) you would see the same things over again whether on purpose or through hallucination.

Sometimes I feel like when I listen to a song that is about floating in space like this it is close to the end.   It seems like we always enter at that point where we're on the last moments before the end comes and death takes over.  With "Lone Satellite", I feel like we are a little bit more removed from that and so it has this nice reflection where you can begin to think of the song as what we do in the time when we're not doing things- the way in which we can think about the events in our lives which weren't significant enough to write about in our journals but still helped to make up our many days.  

Friday, September 10, 2021

Music Review //

https://abiura1.bandcamp.com/album/hauntology //

A slow, somewhat haunted feeling guitar drone begins to fill your ears.   There is an eerie sense about this, which makes it feel like the score to a horror movie but I can't quite figure out what movie it would best fit with because I typically think of John Carpenter and while this is somewhat close to that it isn't close enough for me to think of it that way.   As this seemingly defines a new genre of sound, a haunted distorted guitar wave, it could also be redefining the horror genre of film.

Guitar notes begin to pierce through ever so sharply and then we can hear these other notes just dropping off into the background as this sound becomes layered.   There is an intensity to it which also makes this just feel like it is suspense more than scary, but then the tones begin to feel a little bit lighter and it gets into that post rock territory, like something from Deep Elm.   The way it then shifts to sound like a creepy music box just has me imagining it with some words like "I'll never tell" and it just freaks me out.

Vocals do come in at this point, but they are not quite as scary as I was expecting.  If you listen to this one at night, in the dark, by yourself, you are braver than me.  I'm just constantly waiting for someone to knock on my door while I'm listening to this for that jump scare.   Aside from it being haunted (hence the name) it is calm though, so if it didn't potentially give you nightmares you could put it on to relax or even sleep but I wouldn't dare.

It feels like water is in the background now as distorted bass beats drop like bombs.  The singing within this now makes me think of church and that is also a little bit scary.  This begins to just open up now, like it's lighting up the sky, and I can feel a sense of it taking off- as if the earth is being set on fire.   Static comes in now as it feels like we're losing the signal.   The guitar comes cutting back through now and I feel like we've returned to that earlier redefined genre.   Notes ring back and forth and then those big distorted beats drop.

As the singing returns it can feel angelic but also somehow make the entire vibe just seem more haunted.   Distortion then does begin to cut through like Friday the 13th and Jason is hiding in the woods.   It begins to feel mechanical now, which just makes it more frightening, and then it just expands into this vast sense of dread.   This continues up until the end, at which point it just fades out, and then you are left questioning what just happened and that feeling of fear is never really washed away.

Music Review //
Paula Standing
"Hiding out in Tuscany"

"Hiding out in Tuscany" is a song which everyone should really listen to at least once in their life and really listen to the message of it.   Through soft strums and what feels like an accordion but likely isn't (The song can remind me of Billy Joel in that way) this is certainly easy on the ears.   The sound is one which you would hear on mainstream radio.   But if anything is holding this song back from being on the radio it is that the lyrics are too deep and meaningful.

Right away you'll hear one of my favorite lines in this song: "Sometimes the urge for going means you should"  The world is a big place and I'm always fascinated just going to different parts of the United States and seeing how different they are- and that's just one country!  So taking that trip you've always wanted to take to Paris or Spain might not be such a bad idea.  Staying in one country and not traveling feels like watching the same television station when you have hundreds to choose from.

Part of this music video exists within the studio, with Paula Standing singing the song, and the rest exists outside in the world.   There are scenes at the beach and just the general idea of being outside, much like a travel agent might present to you to get you to take a trip.   This video has a great way of showcasing what you can do if you travel but also that contrast between being in the studio and being outside can either be about you staying home personally or just the fact that the way musicians travel is by touring, so it works on multiple levels.

Ever since the global pandemic hit in 2020 I feel like we've been living two lives: one before the pandemic and one after the pandemic.  Had this song been released pre-pandemic it would still have a lot of importance in the message of getting out there and living your best life.  But hearing it after the pandemic (which is not over, but we are slowly coming out of it) makes it feel even more necessary because once it is safe to do so it feels like we are even more motivated now to travel the world.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Music Review //
"seven years of silence"


When "seven years of silence" first begins there are these pulse beats, electronics and darkness.  The way that the vocals come out through the singing reminds me a bit of Stabbing Westward, and at first listen many of the components of these songs remind me of Stabbing Westward.  However, it is that sound which might draw you into 1ST BASE RUNNER, but the way in which this expands and becomes its own sound is what will keep you coming back for more.

"Only One" has layered vocals while "All Thoughts" has drum machines and keys.  There is a serious side to this, as it can be slow and prodding, and that just makes it feel intense.  This isn't the fast paced type of driving electronic but it's more of a slowed down vibe with a bit of chill but I wouldn't relax while listening to it; I'd spend more time reflecting.   

Lyrically this album seems to pose a lot of existential questions.   "What am I" asks not only the titular question but also "Why was I born".   "Break Even" wonders what needs to be done just to break even, while the other songs have less of direct questions and lines which feel more like puzzles which when listening to them you can try and solve.  Simply stating something such as "All you loved is long gone" (as "All Thoughts" does) can make your mind go in any number of directions.

The music of 1ST BASE RUNNER takes that concept of what I am used to from an artist such as Stabbing Westward in the 1990's and gives it an update.  It is rare to find that modern take on a nostalgic sound which I love so much but it is here.   These lyrics can also really make you think and so with that and the sound combined this is definitely an album you should be not only listening to but studying like a test.  

Music Review //
Dopus Opus
"The Lake Sessions"


While the sound of Dopus Opus can be that of acoustic rock in the classic realm with other branches of rock added in, there is also something else a bit strange which exists within this album.  At first, it might catch you off guard (as it did me) but when you listen to the album through for the second time and after that it becomes a bit more comfortable.   The song "We Need Love" starts the album and has this acoustic/classic rock vibe that is just easy to get into.  

As the first song comes to an end there is an audio clip of what sounds like a goat and I will just say that is odd and leave it at that.   "Cymbal Symbol" is the second song and it begins with a flute and dark guitar notes like Metallica.   This eventually becomes just this wave of drone which takes over the whole song in an ominous way.  At the conclusion of it, there is knocking- like someone knocking on your door- and it just feels out of place, especially as only the second song on the album.

For the rest of the album, the songs seem to subscribe to the theory of having vocals and sounding like some form of rock music.   "Speeding By" has keys like The Doors but is fun.   "No No" has a little bit of surf about it but also reminds me of Neil Young.  "RagaSaga" is full of mystical swirls but still remains within the realm of rock.  "Sooner Or Later" has a powerful guitar hook and by "Bad Day" we can start feeling trippy.  The only sort of weird thing after the second song is that while singing about a car on "Speeding By" you can hear a car engine rev.  

A song such as "In My Dreams" just feels as if it is telling a nice story.   It's a love song, and in some ways all songs are about love, but this just has that presence of an artist such as the Beach Boys or Blue Oyster Cult.   The way it feels like classic rock with acoustics is one of the strongest redeeming qualities.  Even though something such as the second song can seem strange at first, the more you listen the more it becomes easy and a way to distinguish Dopus Opus from other artists.  

Music Review //
Drowning Effect


Listening to music and right away knowing that it's going to be rock n roll- and then the album sticks to that rock n roll sound- is one of the things which makes me happy as someone who listens to a lot of music.  "Techniculture" could have gone off in a number of different directions during these songs to make it seem more experimental, but Drowning Effect stuck with their rock n roll roots and just kept the album rocking throughout, which I highly appreciate.

Through distortion comes guitar riffs which can remind me of classic rock but can also bring about memories of newer (but not that new) artists such as The Damn Personals, BRMC, The Break and just bands along those lines.   The music moves fast to the point where it's almost punk, but it's not.  It's distorted and makes me think of a band from SXSW (especially on "Headlines") but it ends up just being good old fashioned rock n roll to me.

When you think about music and how it can be influenced by other artists, it becomes easy to write about it and explain it when those influences are front and center.  The influences I find within here (such as The Damn Personals) are perhaps less known.  If I had to pick a widely known artist to compare this with I might say something like Kings of Leon but even that isn't entirely fair.  So I do also feel it needs to be recognized that Drowning Effect has pulled off one of those albums where they've created a sound all their own.

One of my favorite genres of music is all of the artists who came out right after grunge was fading from the spotlight and it felt like radio stations, record labels, etc were all searching for that next sound to become mainstream.   Artists like 1000 Mona Lisas and Dandelion come to mind right away, and even though Drowning Effect doesn't really sound like them they do have that quality where it feels like a major record label would've put their album out in the late 1990's to try and see if it would stick and though it might only make one radio hit I'd love every second of it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Wrestling Review //
Test Of Strength Wrestling
Fight 4 Your Dreams
@ Columbia Club, Torrington, CT



This was our third time coming to Torrington for Test Of Strength and our fourth TOS show overall.   I was really excited for this show because every match had that main event feel to it.  I often like to judge matches (on paper before the show) as bathroom breaks in case if there is no intermission, but this card had none that I was willing to get up and miss.  I wish every promotion could say the same.

One of the things I've always felt to be true about wrestling and taking Quentin with me, and now Jess as well, is that the wrestling show is the destination- you drive to it and enjoy it- but that doesn't mean that you can't have fun along the way.  When I told my mom that we had been going to wrestling in Torrington she told me that there was a Carvel there and it's right down the road from the Columbia Club so on this Saturday we went and had ice cream before the show.

The doors opened before 6 pm so I felt rushed trying to get in but the show didn't start for a little while after we were in.   The show opened with Nororious Mimi & Andre Moore vs J Boujii & Dan DeMan.   I had never seen Andre Moore before but he really impressed me because he's the type of wrestler who can stand out in a crowd but also can deliver in the ring with the high flying and mat based style.   The way that J Boujii can get the crowd to boo him so loudly is the same way that Andre Moore was able to get the crowd cheering and chanting "Encore! Encore!"  I wouldn't mind seeing them one v one.

Unfortunately for J Boujii he made the mistake of tagging with Dan DeMan.  Though Dan DeMan did not dress like Cruella, he did dress like Thanos and that was kind of neat.   As far as I remember though, Dan DeMan was pinned by Mimi and so J Boujii didn't take the loss and going forward he should just stick with singles or find a tag team partner who isn't going to blow it  J Boujii is not a loser he just didn't pick the best partner.  We can't be blamed for our choices and other peoples short-comings.

The second match is one that I was really looking forward to and it had the chance to steal the show.  For my money, it was Match Of The Night up until the main event.   At some point in my life, back in the early '00's, television wrestling ruined tag team wrestling for me because it became very formulaic.  It was all about one guy taking a beating from the heel tag team, getting the hot tag and then the face tag team winning.  But wrestling (at least outside of television) has changed and this tag team match between Kylon King & Dustin Waller vs the Stepdads was anything but formulaic.

What intrigued me most about this match going into it is that the Stepdads are a tag team and they don't wrestle so much in singles matches.   Though Kylon King and Dustin Waller both have established singles careers and you could consider them singles wrestlers, they also are no strangers to each other and have tagged together before.  So it's just that dynamic of the Stepdads being on the same page but even though they may not tag together as much, Kylon King and Dustin Waller are on the same page as well.

If you think about Kylon King and Dustin Waller as being high flyers and then think about the Stepdads as being more mat-based and technical (with that power) then you have to realize also that during this match it felt like any style one team could do, the other team was there trying to outdo them.   It felt like "Well the Stepdads can win if they just keep them grounded" (pun intended) but at the same time that didn't seem to be true because all four competitors just adapted so well to each other.  Definitely a tag team match for future generations to study and definitely one I'd like to see run back.

For the third match we had our third tag team match in a row.  Vicious Vicki was supposed to team with Davienne but was not here so instead we had Armani Kayos teaming with Davienne as part of the Trust Fund with Jared Silberkleit.  What was odd about this match- and I tweeted it- is that Becca was on the opposite side of the ring from Davienne but they're Scrunchie Pals so I feel like they should have been teaming together.   I realize that in different promotions the same wrestler can be cheered or booed, but I do enjoy when they stay on the same page because I found it so difficult to boo Davienne, especially after the weekend prior.

After this match, Davienne was a bit upset and Armani tried to turn on her but it eventually ended with Davienne getting to beat up Jared Silberkleit.   Sometimes the test of a true professional is being able to go out there and have the crowd either cheer or boo for you because no reaction is really just not what you want.  But the simple fact that Davienne went from being booed throughout the match to being cheered after it was over just goes to show you how great she is.   Not everyone can do that.

Stepping away from tag team matches we had Ryan Fraust take on TJ Howell III in a feud which has gotten out of hand but the loser would have to be the caddy for 30 days.  Thanks to TOS, I also had to explain to Quentin what a caddy is.   This was an interesting match because Aubrey turned on Ryan Fraust but TJ Howell III still couldn't beat him.   Now, though I'm sure the next 30 days will be fun (for everyone who isn't TH3), I'm interested to see where this goes when the 30 days are up.   Do they just go their separate ways?  Do they somehow gain respect for each other and team again?  The mystery of the storytelling is really strong here.

At the last show, Brother Greatness ruined a great match between Garrett Holiday and Mike Skyros, which was title vs title, and though Brother Greatness has become obsessed with Mike Skyros he had to face Garrett Holiday to pay for his sins.   What could have happened here is that Brother Greatness could have defeated Garrett Holiday to become the new SCW Champion and then Mike Skyros vs Brother Greatness could have been a title vs title match but Brother Greatness had other plans.

Following not a three count, Brother Greatness just assumed he won, said he was the winner (he wasn't) and tried to leave but was brought back into the ring for a proper pinfall.   Watching Brother Greatness' descent into madness over Mike Skyros is like when WCW had Sting going from being a surfer to being The Crow.  I don't know what's going to happen to Brother Greatness when he finally gets a match with Mike Skyros because there might be serious side effects for BG if he can't beat Mike Skyros.  The way his mindset is now, he isn't ready to defeat anyone.

The Tag Team Titles were defended in a Freebirds rule sort of match where SWB and Jay Freddie had Ichiban on their side and The Firm had Danny Miles for some reason.   This match was only won by The Firm because a fourth member came out and cost the Kowalski Guys the match.  This either needs to go four on four, it needs to be two on two with a special referee who won't let The Firm cheat or it just needs to be two on two inside of a steel cage.  But either way, The Firm still really doesn't have a decisive victory over Kowalski Guys and it's frustrating.

After intermission we got right into the TOS Heavyweight Championship match.  Karen Bam Bam was defending the title against Bonez and someone named Magnificent Marcos and there was a lot to process here.  First off, when Bonez came out he absolutely frightened a small child on his way to the ring and it's one of three times I've seen a child cry at a wrestling show this year.  Marcos came out first and I didn't remember his name so I yelled "Who are you?" what he said back to me sound like "<something something> Herman" so I said "What? You're Pee Wee Herman?!??"

When Matt DaCorte was doing ring introductions and said that he was Magnificent Marcos I yelled at him "You lied to me! You told me you were Pee Wee Herman!"  Little did we know at the time that Pee Wee Herman would somehow be winning the title.   During the match, after everyone had just been beating the hell out of each other, Evie De La Rosa came out with a chain wrapped around her hands, nailed Karen Bam Bam in the back of the head and that allowed Magnificent Marcos to get the pin and become the new champion.

As Matt DaCorte was going to make the announcement, the GM of TOS- Alex Rojas- grabbed the mic and made the announcement himself.  What I'm wondering is why does Test Of Strength have a GM in Alex Rojas if he's going to watch someone blatantly interfere in a match, causing their champion to lose and then present the title to Magnificent Marcos as if he actually won it.  Evie De La Rosa should be co-champion with Marcos, but if Alex Rojas isn't going to step in and either restart the match or give Karen Bam Bam the DQ win (with no title change) then... I don't know what.  I was going to type that he should have to buy a ticket and sit with the fans but even the fans saw that Torrington Screwjob from 500 miles away.

For quite a while after the match, a number of people were attending to Karen Bam Bam before helping her out of the ring as she had a lot of blood above her eye.   This match brought out too many emotions in me because at first I was upset (and I still am) that the so-called GM of TOS would let such a bullshit call stand.  But then I was just concerned for the well being of Karen Bam Bam and was just hoping that she was okay.

The main event felt like, on paper, it was going to be just a wild match and let me tell you- it was.   This was not only the Match Of The Night but quite possibly the best match I have ever seen in TOS.   You have four components just ready to explode and when you think about putting them into the ring together it just feels like it's going to be something special but it also feels like it's going to be mayhem.

Eddie Edwards chopping the hell out of Jordyne Rowe is a reason enough to go out of your way to watch this match.  Some people say that wrestling matches can feel like a car crash but this one was like the whole interstate backed up because you couldn't blink without feeling like someone just got hit the hardest they've ever been hit in their entire life.    I would love to see Eddie Edwards vs Mike Skyros one on one some day (Whoever books that loves money) but this was just a match that hit everything it needed to (and more) to prove why TOS is one of my favorite places to watch wrestling.

Music Review //

https://wooliebugger.bandcamp.com/track/drift //

"Drift" begins quietly, minimal, with these electronic loops which sound like insects and then this almost dance type of beat comes in front of it, which makes me think of a virtual game of ping pong.  Slowly, as it expands, the track begins to just drive and it can feel like we are simply floating throughout space.   Electric lightning strikes can be heard as they crackle into the background.

The way this can feel like we're playing a game, a bit like Tron, becomes unsettling when you think about how that game could be played with human lives.   A siren-like tone enters as we ding and form electronic boops with some trill.   Much of the song gets stripped down and quiet now, as it feels like we have gone from acceleration into hitting that stride and just drifting.  It returns and then has a way about it which feels like knocking.

A quiet wave of calm washes over the entire song now, everything being pushed to the back and then slowly crawling back to the front.  Little trills like machine gun blasts.  This is slightly magic.  This is slightly alien.   Deeper bass comes through like the pulse of the Tell-Tale Heart.   There is an X-Files feeling overall as we find the song just collapsing, falling to pieces, by the end.  The ping pong ball once contained within the game seems to have broken free, as it no longer knows any walls.  

By the end of the song it just sort drones out and makes me think like we're in more of a horror film than sci-fi but something like "Alien" would be really appropriate.  While this song is slightly towards the side of dance, I'm not sure how it would fit in at a party or club with that sort of playlist and the way it fades out at the end makes me too afraid that I'd fall asleep while driving to it.  This is perhaps just best experienced through headphones, by yourself and in the dark.  Not quite when it is bed time, but when that time for sleep is drawing near.  

Music Review //
The Furious Seasons
"Home All Day, Home All Night"
(Stonegarden Records)


There may not be a better time for a band to be named The Furious Seasons than in the year 2021.   We spent a year on lockdown in 2020 but couldn't seem to figure out the global crisis known as the weather.   As I type this, I've gone from hurricane warnings to a tornado warning to a flash flood warning all within the same week.  NYC is underwater and I've seen videos of a tornado in NJ.  Mother Nature is pissed off and something needs to be done about it.

Even though their name is Furious, the band itself has a more mellow sound to it than anything else.  The sounds can get fast paced and feel like they're good for driving, but mostly they walk that line of rock n roll and Americana.   Artists like Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and even a little bit of Billy Joel come out in a more classic way, while some of the newer artists I can compare this with are The Wallflowers, Soul Asylum and The Rad Trads.  

The lyrics on here can tell stories but they can also be rather powerful.  One example of this is on the song "A Puff of Smoke", which says "I'm a walking ghost / A puff of white smoke".  I think about this a lot.  How it feels like I can go places and blend in with my surroundings so that no one else can really see me unless I say something and sort of allow them to see me.  But, also, in a much broader sense we can all go unseen and it shouldn't be that way.  We don't have to do what everyone says, but everyone should at least be heard.

Whenever I hear music like this, which I just feel is such a strong representation of America, I want to go outside.   I don't just want to walk around, I want to go to the National Parks or hiking- I want to get in touch with nature.  As much as "Home All Day, Home All Night" can feel like a portrayal of the people in this country it also feels like it's painting a picture of the country itself, of how it looked before it became so industrialized.  

Music Review //
Disaster Relief
"Back Into It"


Even though the sounds of Disaster Relief can be instrumental in the sense that they do not have any vocals or singing, the music seems to be able to sing the song to the point where a voice added in might feel like too much.    The way that these songs follow a somewhat traditional rock base with the guitar, bass and drums but then add in other instruments (a horn section mainly) give them a whole new vibe.

With the horns and the way that the guitar riff sounds sometimes Disaster Relief can definitely feel like ska.  In terms of existing bands, this can be compared with an artist such as Catch 22 and thus also Streetlight Manifesto, who are both different types of not quite ska but more of a rock n roll based ska.  When it comes to bands that I've heard which sound similar to Disaster Relief perhaps only Sweep The Leg Johnny comes close.

What becomes difficult to describe in this music is the way in which it is all blended together and can change genres at any given time but with such deliberate purpose.  When you think of ska and how it is essentially defined by the horns, you also have to think that those horns- the sax for example- can bring about the sound of jazz and so at times this does feel like it has elements of jazz, such as on "Beach Song".

The overall sound can still feel like rock n roll, which can be demonstrated by this just stellar guitar solo during "Weekend Čoček", but those elements of rock can sort of blend in to become funk (like the way "Lowrider" and classic rock can go sometimes) and also just blues.  So even though this album might seem like one sound on the surface, all of the sounds which feel related to that can make their presence felt and for that you should be listening to this album closely.  

Friday, September 3, 2021

Music Review //
James Ethington III


The music of James Ethington III is interesting, to say the least, but it is worth exploring.   "Rheacycle" begins with what is called the "Rheacycle Intro", which reminds us that we still need to take care of the planet.   The song itself though comes out as some cross between the Barenaked Ladies and Blue October.  It has a groove to it, though it could mostly be thought of rock with elements of R&B.

As the EP goes on, the songs begin to become more stripped down and I just thought that since it was starting with an intro, that first track would be the least complex of them all and they would build up after that.    The way this kind of goes backwards from what I was expecting is nice though, elements of the songs being lost throughout the EP as if a ship is sinking and they have to be thrown overboard to lessen the weight.

"Becca" is a really fun song which reminds me of something Belle & Sebastian might create but James Ethington III gives it a little bit more soul.   Throughout this entire EP the songs have the acoustic guitars but then there are also the beats which another layer to it.  "Becca", for example, starts off as an acoustic sounding ballad but then kicks in with the beats to give it a bigger feel.  By "Art of My Life" though we are into pure acoustics where the song is just the acoustic guitar strums and the vocals of James Ethington III.

Quite the name for a song: "Sexy.Juicy.Bouncy" is nostalgic as the television crushes of the 1990's are name dropped.   Women like Topanga and Winnie Cooper, who I also grew up watching, are given the spotlight and I feel like that is something which we don't really talk about enough, how those television crushes growing up helped to shape the people we would become and the people we would be attracted to later in life.

"Looking Glass" is perhaps the fastest paced song though it is only the acoustic guitar and vocals.   Everything becomes stripped down by the end and it almost feels as if it has reached a point of urgency as well.   This EP may take several listens to process because what is happening in here is likely not how you were trained to hear music (I know it is not for me) but once it all comes together and you adjust to it, the sounds begin to takeover any sense of order of songs.  This really becomes incredibly delightful.  

Music Review //
Davey Long
"Last Train To Tupelo"

Sometimes hearing a song can take you right back to a very specific moment in time.  In my younger years (but not that young) I visited Graceland and this song really made me think about everything surrounding that experience.  It has that way about it where it's a song which you might hear from Elvis Presley himself, but it also can become its own sort of genre within the guitar work and keys.

Davey Long blends the sounds of rock n roll with the blues on "Last Train To Tupelo".  It makes me think about The Day The Music Died.  There are those parts of this which are Little Richard and parts which make it feel like gospel.   I'm reminded of "Back To The Future" when Marty brings in this new sound called rock n roll.  This song just feels like it's from a very distinct time and when you hear it, you'll know.

Though this song name drops James Dean it also name drops Elvis and this song is about him because it mentions the blue eyes and, well, Tupelo is where Elvis was from.   Elvis was just one of those people that you would see in movies and concert footage before seeing him in news footage doing different things and he just had this way about him.  Elvis felt like he was Photoshopped into pictures before Photoshop was even invented.  There will just never be another like him and I like that this song pays tribute to him.

Whether or not you're a fan of Elvis Presley, you can still take something from this song if you're from the south.   The idea of someone riding a train, the way that person has fans and just the overall vibe of this song should be enough to get anyone up to move their feet.  It's a lot of fun but it's also a sound you don't hear as much of these days but I really feel like it needs to be explored more.   Regardless of if you're listening to this song for nostalgia or just because it is that good, you should be listening to it.  

Music Review //
The Reggaestra
"Tribute To Bunny Wailer"
(Picaxe Production)


This album doesn't just feel like a typical collection of songs or your every day tribute album.   This album was created by The Reggaestra (with Picstitch on vocals) to celebrate Bunny Wailer, who at the time was in too poor of health to perform but has since passed away.  To me, this just becomes one of those definitive reggae albums because of the ways from which one can expand from it but also just the sound itself found within these songs.

Every day at 4:20pm the local alternative radio station here (Shout out Radio 104) does what they call "Mandatory Marley" and play a Bob Marley song.  If you know more than three Bob Marley songs I think you owe it to yourself to explore the music of Bunny Wailer, who was among the original Wailers.    Bob Marley was not alive for very long after I was born, but Bunny Wailer made it until 2021 and I think that needs to be celebrated more.

Growing up in Connecticut, I feel a special connection to ska music because of artists like Spring Heeled Jack.   This made me feel closer to reggae (because ska and reggae are like close cousins) and as such with the horn section this album really feels like you could get out and dance to it in the same way you might The Toasters or The Pietasters.    Back when my record collection was mostly ska, this album would've fit right in.

From the opening track- "Rock and Groove"- describing how the radio just labels everything as R&B now to "Roots Man Skanking" making you get up and dance, this album is not only a perfect tribute to one of the greatest and perhaps most influential musicians of all-time but it is also just a great stand alone album.   If you put this on knowing nothing about Bob Marley or the history of reggae, you could still find a lot of joy in these songs and I think that's one of the most important aspects of music.  Having the context is important and good, but it is not necessary for listening and loving.  

Music Review //
Matt Jaffe




When "Kintsugi" first starts I can hear these distorted guitar chords come through in a melody which makes me think of Kings Of Leon.   Throughout the first song, there is this pure rock which combines with almost a sense of punk and that brings up influences of Blondie.   Though the songs mostly remain melodic and distorted they can take on other factors as well, with artists like Cheap Trick making an appearance.

During the second song, "Weekend Lover", (which is about not wanting to be just a weekend lover) there are these elements of both Queen and David Bowie.   These sounds first come out for me then but they will remain for the rest of the album.   "Voodoo Doll" has a soft, crooner way about it, as if Matt Jaffe is singing you a love song written just for you like in the movie "Cry Baby".

Being the ever straight forward rock album, these songs often have the titles in the lyrics and as such they are what the songs are about.  "Voodoo Doll" has a good storytelling way about it while "Enough Bad Luck" seems to be pretty self-explanatory but still has words which you can relate with.  One of the more poignant lines on the album states: "I wish that I was hated if this is what you call love".

"Enough Bad Luck" also sounds a bit like that pop rock from "That Thing You Do!".  "Hurt Me Now" is the final song and I just love the way that the music and vocals are blended together.  If you are a fan of rock music then this should be right for you but there is also something so bold about "Kintsugi" which makes it a rock album that people who might not always listen to rock could still get down with.  

Music Review //
Jordana Talsky

https://jordanatalsky.bandcamp.com/album/zahava //

One thing that I will always respect about music is when an artist is willing to take a chance and try something which hasn't been done before.   In this way, on "Zahava", Jordana Talsky has certainly left me impressed.  If you listen to these songs but aren't paying too close attention you can hear a bit of Kimbra in them.  There is some soul, some R&B and it just has this way about it in which Jordana Talsky just belts out the vocals.

But when you listen to this album even closer you will realize that all of the sounds which you hear are being made by Jordana Talsky through her mouth or body.  In the body way, there are claps and snaps so that's mostly what you'll hear on that level.  For her mouth though, she manages to sing the lyrics beautifully but then behind them she does the "ooh" and "ahh" and other sounds which aren't exactly words but combine together to form a soulful pop sound which is just so unique.  

With the songs being mostly vocals it makes it easier for you to focus on the lyrics as well, which have some great meanings in here.  The song "Oh Yeah" has the chorus of: "Oh yeah / I forgot / All the things I wanted to do with my life, before I'm too old".  I feel this too much because I always feel like I'm forgetting something and likely will at the end of the day.   I also enjoy the idea on "Honey" of "If you put your money down on an owl waiting for sunshine / She'll say Honey don't waste your time" because part of life is knowing when to let go.  

Something that I always do when I review music is think about "Well, what would it sound like if it was like this instead?"  For example here, if Jordana Talsky was using instruments instead of her voice what could this sound like?  P!nk?  Possibly.  But the way that Jordana Talsky uses her voice is done in such a way that I'm not sure you could replicate it with an actual instrument.  These songs just need to be accepted and appreciated for the works of art that they are, without comparison.