Friday, February 25, 2022

Music Review //
"It's Murky Grey" //

The sound of PORT NASIM is an interesting one because it feels like the more that I listen to this album the more different influences I can pick up within the sound.  I'm not sure that a band has ever sounded quite like this before because PORT NASIM seems to pull elements from other artists which might use guitars but haven't really been blended together like this before.  In some ways, I think of this album as being a crossover between punk and metal, while at other times it can just feel like one of those grunge era albums that was heavier on the metal side, but the end result truly is unlike anything I've ever heard before.

"It's Murky Grey" opens up with a song which has these big, crunchy guitar chords and right away I can only think of it as being punk.  During the chorus there are strings and backing vocals which take this to a different sound.    As the album continues with "That Isn't True" (Which also makes an appearance later on acoustic) I begin to think of it as being more metal, something such as Suicidal Tendencies.  There is quite a bit of Ozzy influence in here and as I think about an artist such as Sprung Monkey, I also can hear a metal band such as Judas Priest.

"The Need" has this bass line which reminds me of Nirvana and "Die Moorsoldaten" is in German and has a different feel than any other song on this album.  It feels more like a traditional song, but being played in a faster speed and it ends up just reminding me of something like Dropkick Murphys.   I've listened to all of these bands in my lifetime- and even the acoustics begin to feel trippy like Pink Floyd- but I've never really thought about them being together.  Even though it's not something I've thought of, when they all do come together it just somehow works.

With so many different artists out there- such a lengthy history of rock music- I've always wondered why more artists didn't bring about styles combined of influences which might not have been thought of before, but at the same time it might simply not work to combine Pink Floyd with Judas Priest for a lot of other artists.  PORT NASIM just makes it work and brings all of these different sounds which maybe shouldn't be together into one unique sound which they can call their own and it truly is special. 

Music Review //
Fintan McKahey
"Amber" //

When listening to Fintan McKahey, the sound always feels like something which is right on that verge of being on the radio when at the same time it just has these certain elements that make it pop music that might not be for everyone.  Hearing artists such as Blue October and Milky Chance within the song "Amber", Fintan McKahey has melodic acoustics which kick in to a cool outro at the end of the song.   

Though "Amber" begins softer and kicks in, the one part about this song which you might notice over other songs which sound similar is that for the last minute or so of this three minute song it is just music.  All that needs to be said within the lyrics is done within the first portion of the song and then it just sort of drifts out.  I'm not sure how that would play on the radio, but if it wasn't for that this could very easily be a mellow pop song on the radio.  I just prefer to listen to it and chill, radio or not, because of the speed at which it burns.

Much like the 311 song that this is not a cover of, it is revealed that "Amber" is not the name of a person but rather a color with the line "Those amber eyes".   Through the lyrics, the one line which seems to repeat the most is "Coz I've found I'm useless without you".   There are many messages music can convey and in this regard I feel like the song "Amber" is about needing someone else in your life.  That might be seen as codependency or some other bad trait but I feel like having people in your life to support you is a form of helping.

At the same time, this song could very easily be about someone who is not a person- a pet perhaps- and so if you want to be a bit more anti-social you could choose to think about this as being a song about your dog or cat.   As the music fades out it reminds me of The Cure but not quite as dark and these keys come in as well, just mixing up the sounds.   I really like this song because of that musical outro and I believe if you listen to you will find something which you like about it as well.  

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Music Review //
Venus Blake
"The Other Side of Midnight"
(Count St Germain Records) //

Upon first listening to "The Other Side of Midnight" what stands out most about this album is perhaps the use of the piano.   Sometimes sad and delicate, other times harsh and crashing, there are more songs on this album than not when Venus Blake simply lets the piano and vocals combo take the lead, though that isn't to say that some songs don't venture beyond that.  Hearing someone sing with just the piano isn't really something a lot of musicians do these days, and I feel like it's because they always want more, but Venus Blake has managed to turn a minimal recipe into quite the cinematic universe.

Right away, the first comparison that can be made is with Evanescence but that just seems somewhat obvious whenever I hear a piano.   There are other obvious piano-based musicians who could be made for reference but I won't get too deep into them (especially that one big name you're probably all thinking of right now)  With melodies the songs can feel like Adele in a mainstream way but they are somewhat dark, sadder and can lead into something like Fiona Apple as well before all is said and done.  The fact that this is a distinct voice with the piano only for the most part shows just how it is creating its own genre.

"Love we Lost" is a song which can remind me of a Disney ballad and that's not the only time that idea comes to mind.  "Here Comes the Flood" has a part of it where I feel like it's a Disney villain singing their story and as such this whole album either tells me that I'm watching too many animated movies which break into song or Venus Blake should be out there creating such visuals to accompany this music.  Oddly, on the last song- "Escape"- there are these acoustic strums which remind me of "The Little Mermaid".

"Here Comes the Flood" is where this album really breaks up because there is percussion and so it's the first song outside of that piano/vocals realm.  But then "The Wanderlust Interlude" is spoken words into a soft piano piece, which to me would be the start of the flip side on a record or cassette.   The next song- "Chocolate Morphine"- comes with with those Phil Collins drums and dark wave vibes with a bit of horror/alien loops as well.  So what is essentially being created here, throughout the album, would perhaps be some form of a soundtrack to an animated film, if Disney were to somehow attempt a version of "Alien" or "Friday the 13th" and, to me, that's pretty cool.  

Music Review //
"Stray" //

When "Stray" first begins it is the combination of vocals and an acoustic guitar.  This has two distinct vibes which combine to form one and they are a combination of the blissed out depression of Elliott Smith but also the pure pop of Jack Johnson.   It's not something I've really thought about a lot, but the idea of either Elliott Smith being just a little bit more mainstream sounding or Jack Johnson making music which doesn't feel like it's straight off of the radio does appeal to me and Optacure seems to have found that balance.

The song kicks in and remains somewhat acoustic in its sound but reminds me of a melodic pop punk band such as The Get Up Kids.   I'm sure everyone will hear their own influences but there is a certain sound here and it goes into a genre that I really enjoy.   This is also in part due to the fact that the lyrics both seem sad and uncertain.   One of the hooks in the chorus is simply the line "I don't know what to think" and it's bold of someone to state that when it feels like many of those who write lyrics want it down to an exact science.

As the song goes on it grows more haunting within the lyrics.  Lines such as "Love is near, but I struggle to feel / And I fear, that I never will" really capture how bleak life can feel at times.  We spend a lot of our lives (in our youth especially) thinking we've found love only for it to end and realize it wasn't love.   On some level, after going through that enough times, it is very easy to think that you might not know what love is, that you might never know and that you might never find it.  I've never really heard this type of topic discussed in song before but it is completely valid.

One of the tough things about love is that it can often times be like music.  Some bands we listened to in our youth we don't listen to as much when we're older.  But then you have to think about those bands, and those albums, that you listened to when you were younger, that you discovered on your own, and how they've stuck with you since.  Those are the types of people you will eventually find and love.  And hopefully this song by Optacure can help you see that and hopefully this song stays with you for a long while. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Music Review //
Ajay Mathur

Ajay Mathur has once again created a song which has a swirling peace to it.   This just feels like all around the type of song which you can put on and just instantly feel like you're in a good mood.   The sound of this song is the purest form of positivity.  And to that extent there is also the fact that the song is about the message that beauty isn't just skin deep and people should look towards what is on the inside of a person over their physical appearance.  I also think it's worth stating that what people find to be beautiful can be subjective.

While this music video seems to have a painted filter on it which at times can show the artist singing at other times it can show images of famous people who were known for things other than their physical appearance.   I find this aspect of the video fascinating because one of the women shown is Amelia Earhart.   I always think of Amelia Earhart as being someone brave enough to attempt to fly around the world and even though she ended up lost it makes you want to try and accomplish your dreams.  And yet at the same time, I never really stop and think about what she looked like.

With the way society has progressed and with social media especially I think there is more of an emphasis now than ever before on the physical appearance of someone.   This is really a shame because people shouldn't just be valued based upon their genetics but rather for their intelligence, art and other aspects which make them special.  I'm not sure if there is ever a way for us, as a society, to get past this idea because it has just been beaten into us so hard over the course of our lives.

To some extent it might seem like the context of this video- the idea that we should not be judged on how we appear physically- is a bit overdone and it has just been talked about too much.  But as long as there are people out there who are still pushing for a definition of beauty, a set of standards which we are to abide by, then I feel like this video is important and everyone who needs to hear it should.    This song is really that idea of good being put in the world to counteract the bad and Ajay Mathur should be awarded for it.  

Music Review //
Okami Three
"Blue" //

One of the biggest factors in listening to a single is whether or not it has that quality which is just going to bring the listener in.  It's something I like to call the "stereo at a party test" because if you're somewhere and happen to hear a song come on is it going to fade into the background or are you going to wonder what it is and ask someone or look it up on your phone.   Okami Three passes this test as the song "Blue" immediately begins with these dark, acoustic sounding guitar notes which just loop hypnotic.

As the song "Blue" kicks in it gets heavy and can have a grunge way about it, but really it feels like some kind of cross between Better Than Ezra and what it might sound like if The Beatles were to have made a grunge song.  It's very much that slow moving, darker feel overall that makes you think when you're listening to it that it's also raining outside.  There is just a perfect way which this song reflects the weather and it just so happens to be the way in which most people think about the weather in Seattle.

The lyrics on "Blue" get a bit complicated even though when you're listening to them they might not seem so.   The titular line is "I turned blue when I saw you leave" but then later on you also find the line "And I had a dream I couldn't wait for you", which is somewhat sad because you want to be with the person but now you're not under your choosing.  There are also just ideas in this song such as "Broken stairway / To an empty room / As lonely as the moon" and that just feels like something you'd hear in those grunge era days, perhaps from an artist such as Bush.

What I like about the song "Blue" is that it's seductive.  The way it feels isn't too abrasive of threatening but it somehow still manages to sound as if there might be some hidden message in the background which has you wanting to listen to it on repeat.   I also really enjoy that this song has the vibes where it could become part of an album of other songs which could have rock elements ranging from Nirvana to Marcy Playground and I just would love to hear those as well.  

Music Review //
Stel Furet
"human nature machine" //

When Stel Furet begins this EP, there is this distinct sound of the guitar plus vocals which makes me feel like it is rock music with those elements of blues.   I like this right away because I feel like artists typically tend to push rock music to its limits in the sense of a classic rock way or they get heavy, but very few seem to want it to be mellow with that soul that Stel Furet has captured here.   

As the EP goes on, you can begin to hear keys throughout and up until the last song they seem to become a little bit more present.  At certain points can remind me of an artist such as Billy Joel or just the way that VH1 used to do "Storytellers", where someone would sit down and play their songs but also discuss them.  There is an overall feeling of an artist such as The Wallflowers but just that idea of someone singing these songs in the way which they tell a story without being purely storytelling is what should keep the listeners' attention.

Though the sound could be one of blues, more mellow and just overall not upbeat the lyrics aren't really that sad.   By "Next Tuesday" we find the lyrics repeated of: "I'll never cry again".  To this extent, I really do feel like when listening to this EP that these are songs not of heartbreak or loss directly but rather about what comes after that, which often times can be moving on.  In reality a lot of music can be healing but it takes you through certain steps of the process and this EP just seems to find those steps other often times avoid.

By the time we reach the end of this EP, the song "The Mirror" brings out these back up singers which can make it feel like a full on gospel song.    This is fitting because a lot of times music can feel like a religious experience but between the way these sounds will hypnotize you to the way the lyrics should be used as a guide to healing if you should happen to need it, it truly feels as if Stel Furet has created an instruction manual of sorts for life and you'd only possibly benefit from hearing it.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Music Review //
Mint June
"Surrendering Nina EP" //

When listening to Mint June, the first impression that I get is that the "Surrendering Nina EP" is going to be instrumental electronica, but the way that the songs seem to shift and flow throughout is what makes them so great.   Right away, the first song just moves and it has this almost funk-groove to it from the start, like Michael Jackson.  But the music is also bigger than just the sum of its parts, as at times it can feel as if certain instruments are just making the song sing.   So while there may not be vocals in the traditional sense, these songs do have a voice.

As we get into the second song, "You'll Like It", you begin to feel how this music changes but not too much.  This is important because every song shouldn't sound the same but they also should have a way of feeling connected.  There are bigger, echoing beats on "You'll Like It" and there is also an urgency to this song.   With laser blasts and pings, that force continues through "Those Guys", which has these sounds which kind of feel like singing but then there is also this overall sensual way about the song.  

While "Paige" (the first song) can feel like a way of introducing the listener to this whole EP, the next two songs seem to take on that electronic vibe I like to compare with the movie "Go", but then during the third and fourth song- "Montage" being the fourth- it really just comes out fast and ringing, which makes it feel more like something from "Run Lola Run".   But if you watch those two movies or listen to their music, this whole idea just works so well for the build as this EP just seems to increase in intensity.

The final song, "Nina", is hollow and atmospheric.  It remains this way throughout- a calm and empty void compared with those songs which came before it.  I am not someone who has ever been to a gym, but from what I gather from working out you want to have this cool down time afterwards- it's always been somewhat stated that you don't go fast and then sit down immediately.  In that sense, this EP could be used for workouts or something similar where you start at a fast tempo, getting faster with every song but then at the end have that time to decompress and come back to reality.  

Music Review //
Walking Apollo
"You're My Pride And Joy, Etc."

Even though Walking Apollo is Buddy Taccolini, as he provides mostly all of the music and lyrics, right away on the first song- "Glowing in the Dark"- you can hear the vocals of Christina Rotondo.   What is interesting is not only do the vocals layer themselves on this first song, but the vocals of Christina Rolondo do appear again throughout the EP, which is nice because as they begin by themselves on the first two songs them come together on the third song, "Sew".

With primarily acoustic guitars there is also a large role for the harmonica within these songs.   The first song can remind me of That Dog but very few other artists, though I enjoy it immensely.   As the EP goes on, and during the second song as well, I can hear a bit of banjo and so that acoustic melody combined with the folk makes me think of a cross between John Denver and an artist from the 1990's who relied heavily on acoustic rock themes: names such as Tal Bachman and Deep Blue Something come to mind.

As "Sew" can come out a bit more sly I also begin to think of those acoustic rock bands such as Days of the New, who might not have been that good but this can be thought of as Walking Apollo taking that idea and making it better.  As it can begin to sound electric, there is an electric guitar solo within here as well.  This shifts on "Lovely People", which has more of a worship feel to it.  With lines such as "The love you give is the love that I need" it is definitely a love song with the love going to whomever you should choose.

What I really enjoy about this EP is that it has this sound which can be heard through each song but then is connected throughout the EP.   So on their own these songs are good, but when put into the context of the EP they make even more sense.   In their acoustic ways, they are a less-threatening version of someone such as Tenacious D and I just feel like these would go over well on rock radio and pop radio because of the way they can get stuck in your head.  

Music Review //
Julia Pratt
"Tried and True" //

Right away, the hypnotic sounds of the piano come through on "Tried and True", bringing you right into the song so that you cannot escape it in the most wonderful of ways.   With the layered vocals at times feeling like they are quieter than other times it gives off the feelings of Alessia Cara, Flora Cash, SHAED and even Hozier.  The starts and stops make it even darker, as do the big beats which kick in.  

Perhaps one of my favorite parts of this song though is how heavy the lyrics are, when you take into consideration how they feel divided.  On one hand, there is the line: "I know that you're tired / of it all", which is not just a reflection on mental health but can relate to any number of situations in life.  For close to two years now we've been in a global pandemic so it's kind of easy to take your pick from what just seems to be exhausting you.

At the same time, there is the line: "I know that you tried", which makes me think about how closely related the words "tired" and "tried" are because trying can make you tired.  This just really puts the song in a different light though because sometimes we just need to hear- everyone does- that we have tried and we can't really expect different results so we need to move on, whether it be from a relationship, a job or whatever.  But having that validation of trying is gratifying.

When this song is about to end this big distorted guitar riff can be heard, just seemingly pulling it out of whatever dark pop genre you might think it fits within and placing it into several others.  This song is also really good in the way that I can't stop listening to it and wish to hear more music from Julia Pratt because it is not only deep and complex within the lyrics but within the sound as well.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

My Wrestling Highlights of February 2022, Blog Style



For the month of February I am going to attempt to put less updates into here, but I also might be watching less wrestling on television than I did in January.   With the weather and pandemic, things have been somewhat crazy so events have been postponed and I've been inside more than I'd like but I'm hoping as we're coming out of the winter that can change.  

I started my February by catching up with the ACTION & IWTV - Southeast First show on IWTV.   It was difficult for me to watch this because of technical issues with IWTV (I've opened up a claim, but let's see if that goes anywhere) but this was such a great show from top to bottom, with such great talent that everyone should go out of their way to watch it.  Obviously the big deal is to watch it to see AC Mack capture the IWTV Independent Wrestling World Championship from Alex Shelley, but there's so much more.

It just feels like everyone on this show is someone that if you don't know of them before watching it, you'll want to know them after you see them here.  MERC vs Damyan Tangra and Adam Priest vs Anthony Henry are two of my favorite matches from this show that aren't the main event.  I also didn't really know a lot about Owen Knight or Kyle Matthews before their match but now I am a fan of both.   Eli Knight is on here in solo action and Brogan Finlay is in a trios match.   This show is just full of so much talent it's crazy and it has to be the best show on IWTV for the month of January 2022.

I've been keeping up with NXT 2.0 but as I watched two episodes in the same day recently, I cannot tell you what one of the matches was that really stood out to me.   Aside from Wendy Choo, NXT 2.0 has just been some pretty good background noise.

Along with the final two episodes of MLW's Azteca series on YouTube, I also watched the January Mission Pro Wrestling show "Crazy Train" on Title Match Network.   This had some really great matches on it and I especially enjoyed seeing Davienne while also Thunder Rosa vs La Rosa Negra was a pleasant surprise.  

Friday, February 11, 2022

Music Review //
Naked Gypsy Queens
"Georgiana" //

In many ways, the concept of rock n roll can be attributed to when you were born.  I imagine that those who were of the appropriate age to attend Woodstock might view rock n roll as being different than those who weren't even born at the time.    This makes for a generational gap where some people might think Lenny Kravitz is the definition of rock n roll, while others might say it's Jimi Hendrix and really I think that rock n roll can just live in through various artists after its origins.   Naked Gypsy Queens has managed to find that perfect way to keep rock n roll alive and I love them for it.

There are as many elements of classic rock n roll in here as there are modern rock n roll and everything in between.  From artists such as The White Stripes and Soul Asylum to Black Crowes there is just a feeling here which you can hear right away on the first song, "Georgiana", and it maintains throughout the EP.   This was actually really important to me because there are artists out there that will have one song in that rock n roll way and then seemingly use it as a way to get people to listen to the rest of their songs which aren't as much RNR.  Naked Gypsy Queens do everything to the rock n roll extent that every band should and they do it so damn well.

I remember a specific VH1 Music Awards show when Scott Weiland presented the award for best Rock Band and it went to Creed but he jokingly said Stone Temple Pilots first.  It really got me thinking about how rock n roll was just lacking something at that time.  It didn't feel dangerous.  And it's not that the band has to be on drugs and trashing hotel rooms to feel dangerous, but there is that certain quality in the music which makes it feel that way even if behind the scenes the band members are really reserved people.  And Naked Gypsy Queens just has that vibe that makes you want to scream "ROCK N ROLL!"

Perhaps part of that rock n roll vibe is the way the percussion handles everything on this EP.  But with the starts and stops, big crunchy guitar chords and rhythm that can at times make it even feel a little influenced by the blues, Naked Gypsy Queens also just have these killer guitar solos right up until the end.  The last song actually begins acoustic, which reminds me of Lynyrd Skynyrd, but then unwinds into something a bit more complex, a bit unheard of and overall it just solidifies that not only does Naked Gypsy Queens pay tribute to the rock n roll sound of the past but they are taking it into the future.