Friday, August 26, 2022

Music Review //
Francisco Martin
"Manic EP"



Watch the new video for "Narcissist" here :::

Stream the "Manic EP" here :::

I fully believe that everyone had those dreams of being a musician when they got older because music is just such a big part of life.  I always thought music which set the mood was great but when I was in my late teens I wanted to create music which was either overly poppy and had depressing lyrics or the opposite of that.   While it has been done before, I don't think I've heard anyone put these lyrics of a depressive nature into sing along pop songs quite like this.  Obviously, Blue October and Twenty One Pilots come to mind first, but this is just on a whole other level.

A number of these songs have been released as singles prior to this EP coming out and if you haven't been paying attention now is the time to catch up.   The new song also out today (see the video above!) is called "Narcissist" and it comes in at the second spot.  It has a line in it that says "Calls from my manager, saying that I'm manic" but then it goes on to also say "Rather be dead than a little over average".  I think, when off of our meds (which this song also addresses) the way we think isn't always the clearest and we need to remember that.  It's better to be alive and average than dead.

As someone who has struggled with mental health what feels like their entire life (let's just say for more years than not) and having seen others go through it as well, it's comforting to hear an EP of songs which doesn't really glorify it but addresses it in a way which can help those who aren't so directly affected by it understand.  And "freak show" has this Panic At The Disco sound about it, so it's not something which is difficult to listen to musically either.

Musically, this EP has that sound which after you listen to it a few times you'll be singing along.   Even if you don't want to embrace the message it's still fun in a musical sense.  But I also feel like this is just one of the best EPs I've heard that not only explores mental health but does so in a way which makes it feel mainstream.  The topic of the lyrics is one which might not always want to be discussed, but the way the songs sound make it easier to discuss and for that this is quite possibly the most important EP to come out this year.  

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Music Review //
"Coming Together"


On the song "Coming Together", Satsang has a distinct style in both the sound of this song and the lyrics in which the mood is also set.   There are a number of variations of songs out there about the idea of coming together, most named "Come Together", and the fact that this not only isn't another cover of that particular song but feels like it's created this genre to distance itself from comparisons as well just feels so important.

Through the sounds of folk and rock music, Satsang creates a sound which might sound a lot like The Wallflowers, for example, on the surface but there are layers to this and it just also feels like it takes on deeper references- such as Eagle Eye Cherry- in the way that it can be pop and the chorus can be catchy.   There are obviously good places to start with thinking about this song in relation to other artists, but eventually you will only be able to hear Satsang.

The lyrics in the chorus come out with the hook: "All coming together but I'm falling apart".   This song, lyrically, feels very down to earth in the sense that most people who hear it should be able to relate with it in some way as it's about some specific but also leaves it open to interpretation for the listener.  There are many events in your life which can make you feel like it's all coming together and so this song would apply there.

Though the way it also begins to all fall apart just makes me think of how life is like that a lot of the time.  It's somewhat of what I like to think of as this Bojack Horseman take on life where once you feel like things are getting worked out, life throws you a curveball.  In 2019, my grandfather died and I thought I was going to live my life fuller and then the pandemic hit.  The way that this song normalizes that though just provides me with comfort all listeners should experience. 

Cassette Review //
(Hand'Solo Records)



This opens with instrumental hip hop that definitely reminds me of something from the 1990's that would've been originally released on cassette.   There is a bit of C&C Music Factory in here.  I can also hear elements of the Jackson 5 and then the next song comes in strong with singing.   This kicks in with what almost sounds like a harmonica and there is just a definite R&B sound in this part here.

Keys come in now with a pacing that makes this feel a bit sci-fi.   This drives into a different type of instrumental hip hop now which reminds me of some combination of Cypress Hill and Black Sheep.   An audio clip comes in reminding us that there is a song for every occasion.   That feeling of high strings comes in now as this gets into a chill groove.   This has the sound of a film to it now and makes me think of Tarantino before more singing comes in and just makes me think that even more.

More traditional beats come through now and it feels like Arrested Development or just something along those laid back lines.   That fades out and turns into synths which remind me of Rush's "Tom Sawyer".   As it gets faster it feels more erratic before finally coming around and finding its rhythm.   A lot of singing comes in now, as if it is sampled from somewhere else.   This song is just singing about how it's hard but life can take you there and it's the emotional uplifting I need right now.

It sounds as if we are singing about being golden as the vocals are manipulated but also feel like some high R&B in that almost spiritual way.   We're into a sample of The Flamingos now, which is just one of those songs that I think everyone knows but maybe everyone doesn't.   On the flip side we open up with a song singing about how we need each other and if that is sampled from an existing song I don't know it so perhaps that is also how people feel about The Flamingos song.  

Big pianos keep this song singing and moving as it sounds like someone is saying "sadness".   It definitely feels like there is a harmonica in here now as we drop off into those Roadhouse Blues.   There is singing, somewhat rock and it makes me think of TMBG.   Pianos and slip beats bring in that sax which just makes this song sound like a detective working on a rainy night.   This definitely feels like a jazz number as well.   This switches up to where it sounds like the opening to a television theme and then becomes much deeper beats.

These synth tones really begin to come out like a video game, such as Pole Position, and the beats just make them feel brooding.   An audio clip comes through that I recognize right away as Robin Williams and then place as being from "Good Will Hunting".   The beats get chopped up and drop off, but that Robin Williams monologue continues throughout.   This turns into a loop of what sound like crystal tones.   Another rock song I am unfamiliar with comes in now.  They're singing about "goodbye baby blue" and that shows results for Van Morrison and Bob Dylan but it doesn't quite sound like either.

Faster beats come in now with slower tones dropped.  Pianos and a wishing well.  The best and brightest energy.  Now it's talking about the full moon and for some reason it reminds me of the ending of an old episode of Mister Rogers.   The beats come in with the piano now.  It's fitting this has that almost jazz sound to it as well and as it builds, it ends up just ultimately fading out to end the cassette.  

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Cassette Review //
Body Image CEO
"In these difficult times​.​.​.​. now more than ever​.​.​. at the end of the day​.​.​.​.​. Pepsi"



Beats begin this cassette like a bouncing ball.   Noises offer up banging and space whirrs in the background of it all.   The rhythm of this makes it feel hypnotic, but then it fades out and vocals are heard unclearly and without words.  There is an alien way about this.    An audio clip comes through about putting the word out there.  This is an electronic game of pinball but somehow it is in space.  

There are two audio clips seemingly arguing with each other now, though they just continue to say the same things over and over, and the wave behind it is quite smooth.   A deeper type of manipulated vocals can be heard as there is an audio clip about fear.   What's funny to me is that I feel like back in 2000 there were books just everywhere about how the media is trying to control us with fear and though those books aren't around as much it hasn't really stopped.  An electronic pinball game now has some verbal sounds in it without words.

A brief audio clip about time and then the beats drop in a distorted and blissed out way.   There is an audio clip now about surrounding yourself with people that empower you and this is beginning to feel like a motivational speaker seminar.  Does Tony Robbins still make cassettes?  I feel like that's what this is from.   This audio clip phases out as these beats come in.   And now there is an audio clip about girls not paying attention to you and this seems like bad advice so I won't repeat it.

They're discussing a new Ferrari but also that the number one thing which keeps us in mediocrity is caring what other people think.   Even though that can be true to some extent, you still have to be self aware and I feel like the people who say these types of things aren't really self aware.   And now the beat drops us into an audio sample about toe fungus.    There are sounds behind this as well which sound like coins.  

An audio clip about helping artists get shows or something comes through now with a sax riff.   It's weird because just hearing the audio clip for a second makes me know what kind of service it's offering and how it is something that people shouldn't click on.   A bouncing electronic ball brings in an audio clip about power.   The pace picks up a bit with some claps now.   The idea of the power being inside us is somewhat true though.   There is talk about copy and paste templates now with free training.  

On the flip side there is this back and forth like a clock, but then also this drawn out guitar riff with some distorted singing.   And now we are being told good morning and thanks for taking the walk.   As this just kicks in with the electronics, the way the audio clip comes in just makes it feel worse and more like a scam.   A short series of beeps like Jaws comes in while we're told our body can look better by being more compact.   And now something about 100% plant based chicken nuggets.

Now Jesus is telling us to get a massage and that doesn't feel like it can be a real commercial but somehow I don't doubt that it is.  The music comes out so nicely behind this, just a perfect rhythm.   The sounds of the sea come through in an almost air-brushed way and it just feels weird to continuously hear someone say they're Jesus but such is the world of advertising.   We're back to discussing fear and then something about what is planned for 10/20.   Now this guy is talking about flipping homes.

The synth feels like we're going into outerspace and then there is an audio clip about how 2020 is going to be our year.  Oh boy.  The funny thing is, at the start of 2020, I had this mindset.   2020 was going to be my year and I was really living it up until the pandemic hit.  But I guess so were a lot of other people.  "When you wake up, set your intentions for how you want your day to go".  I bet no one planned for the pandemic in that way though.   This ends with the idea that if you have the desire, you must be motivated to go after what you want and that I can agree with.

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Cassette Review //
Black Tempel Pyrämid
"Ancient Hymns & Incantations"
(Ethereal Mother Tapes)



A brooding sound of percussion brings in a wave of distortion.   This one starts off like a march but quickly turns into something more violent and plodding.   Though instrumental and somewhat on a loop, this has a sound which feels like it is fighting a great battle- like there is a war going on and we are in the midst of it.   It is truly a storm of distortion with a death marching beat.   The next song starts up quieter, calmer, with a drone type hue.   The beats return in the background of it.

As the beats sort of skip in, there are guitar notes piercing through and then some sharp feedback joins the drone party.   This sound continues in an industrial way and it feels as if it is very specific banging- like a hammer doing its job or some other form of engineering.   There are magical tones behind this with just trippy guitar notes.   This sound cuts deeper now and reminds me a little bit of a band such as Nine Inch Nails.  There even appear to be piano notes behind it all, with that ghostly hollow.

There is an electronic storm now, which also has this beat and what sound like key tones but could be coming from the guitar.   This is, essentially, a third sound for this cassette but it also manages to combine a lot of what was heard in the first two songs and it really just feels like they're both coming together now in this somewhat eerie / somewhat determined type of way.  

On the flip side we open with this acoustic sounding crawl that just has a certain sadness to it.  The instruments sound a little rusty but it also just makes me think of a very specific era of Radiohead.   It opens up a little, as if to have a bit of clarity, but it moves on.   This then takes us into a faster paced synthwave sound which is somewhere between the band Brazil or Scary Kids Scaring Kids but also can just feel like one of those movies from the 1980's/1990's where someone challenged someone else to a dirtbike race.

The next song fades in with these hazy, distorted guitars which males it feel like we've been stranded in the desert.   The drum kit comes in and takes us through this vibe of being through the desert on a horse with no name.   Some strings come in but it keeps that pace of moving like we're on horseback.   This changes up when big, distorted guitar chords come through like Motorhead.  There is definitely a metal feel to this and it just seems like it's going to kick into something really heavy.  

This just has such a straight up metal way about it.  Partly it reminds me of a theme song from an older era of WWE but then I'm also thinking about bands like Black Sabbath and Metallica.  It definitely has those vibes as well that could be used in a skateboarding video, which ties in nicely with the earlier theme on this side.   This whole cassette just has a way of moving but it also just really gets you going and that's inspiring. 

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Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Cassette Review //
Crocodilo Slam
"Nascido em Swampland"
(Municipal K7)


What begins with the sounds of guitars drops off into those guitars with some killer beats.   While instrumental, this sound has started off a certain way and turned into something else, though it feels deeper and darker it still has a certain groove to it.   It becomes faster paced now, more electronic and feeling like a video game.   The beat begins to clap now and with a xylophone this one just sounds delightful.  

The sax comes in and then so does some singing.  This becomes a much faster paced song now as it feels like it's going into an almost punk sound but one the likes of which I have never quite heard before.  The beat grows like synthwave now and it feels as if the sky is opening up.   A little higher in tone now, it feels like a flute is at the front of the sound.   It quiets down into the sound of bugs but then picks right back up.

Everything appears to rewind as someone suggests "Why don't you lower the mic, Tony?"  A slow, skipping beat comes in and an audio clip has someone speaking as well.   The idea of it all rewinding continues now, as it comes in during the musical groove of the song.   Tony is once again dressed.   As the beats return, so does a sound somewhat like an electronic dog barking but we've found ourselves in a nice Resident Evil type of place.   Organ keys come through now as well and it feels like we're on a dragon quest.  

On the flip side it sounds as if the guitar is tuning but then the notes flow through like folk with vocals.   It can kick in loud but then go right back to that folk sound with lots of words.   Some sharp feedback is in here now, but then it rises up into this other sound.   A strongly distorted guitar riff comes through now.   The beats drop and they are both heavy and loud.   Singing like a choir takes over now. 
Sounds of Heaven mixed with sitar-like strings and vocals without words take over now.   A drum machine type of beat is heard now as words are spoken like an audio clip over it.   Keys like a video game come in as a loop and then the beat drops loud and heavy once again.   Everything begins to feel like it is unwinding now, like we are on some sort of warped carousel ride.   A song now sounds like a television theme song I cannot place.

More desolate tones bring out singing once again.  Percussion comes through in rapid fire.   A sole beat feels ominous as notes come through with other beeping.  It all feels a bit like "Paint It Black" but also hypnotic.   Notes are fired out through space now.   It feels somewhat like a video game, such as Asteroids, but it also just feels like such a freeing sound.  The tones become more upbeat and birds can be heard singing along.  

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Cassette Review //
"Soft Bangers"
(Funny/Not Funny Records)



The sound of wineteeth comes on quite fast.  There is an element of grunge to this music but it can also be punk.  Bands like Letters to Cleo and White Stripes come to mind right away.  Through the distortion and energy there can also come some anger, which is perhaps best worked out through music and art.   In ways this reminds me of Discount, but I'm not sure anyone even remembers them any more.

"Judy & Johnny" has an almost spy theme type of feel to it and that also can make me think about Save Ferris.   There is an overall feeling of No Doubt but other bands such as Cowboy Junkies, that dog, Mazzy Starr and K's Choice all come through as well.  It is really the perfect collection of sounds from the past brought together to create a new sound for the future.  It is punk rock with an emphasis on the rock.

Though it does slow down with the song "I'm Fine", which feels more like a power ballad.   "Slow Cowboy" also has this sweet bass line, which reminds me a bit of Weezer, and I might've expected this cassette to end with a bang- as it started- but it truly feels more like it just sort of drifts out into space and that also feels like where we should go.  

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Cassette Review //
(Solid Melts)

IMG_0982 //

This cassette begins slowly, as if the sound of a locomotive with these little clicks in it.   As it picks up, you can hear these Hendrix-like guitars which become this full on force to be reckoned with as it feels like the train is just blasting past us.   It is the sound of the eternal pinball machine and then some sharp crystals can be heard behind the buzzing of the electric guitar.   Echoing synth sounds bring about a faster pace now and it sounds as if bombs are being dropped during this song, leaving distortion in their wake.

There is this distortion for sure and then these notes which go up and down before it all just seems to get a bit chaotic.   As far as music goes, this is instrumental and experimental but along the lines of rock because you can hear the guitar.  However, outside of the music genre itself this sound has just created a dance- something back and forth which can be heard by the listener but also which exists within the song itself.    At times it also just feels as if this sound is creating a storm.

Acoustic strums feel more tropical now, such as you would hear on an island, but there is also percussion back there.   Everything is beginning to feel as if it is shifting to percussion only and at the same time it is starting to feel hypnotic.   The guitar riff becomes this nice little groove and it vibes with the drumming.   Guitar chords also create the starts and stops now, as it feels like this has not gone completely off the rails yet but is certainly headed there.   It feels as if the strings are breaking and for the first time you can hear someone speaking.

Through questions of how are you the guitar chords start and stop now.  It feels like a one-sided conversation is being had (in the sense that we can only hear one side of it) as the music continues with the guitar and percussion.  This all ends with the reveal that someone's sister's cat has leukemia.  It all slows down and quiets there for a bit, but then comes back with the guitar chords, a flurry of percussion and singing without words.   After a few more words, it comes to an end and certainly felt like a much needed burst of energy.  

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Friday, August 19, 2022

Music Review //
Ava Della Pietra
"truth or truth"



Over the course of the past few months, Ava Della Pietra has slowly been releasing each of the songs on this EP as a single.   While the songs have managed to hold ground on their own as singles, that can be good for putting them into playlists and such but now that they have been collected and ordered into an EP it feels more like they have found their way home.   The structure of this EP is rather important and it comes off in just perfect form.   

Opening up with "power of you" allows the acoustics and beats to really bring in the listener.  This momentum continues through the acoustic pop of "depend on me" and as we hit the middle of the EP- "long way home"- we are riding that wave that the EP is just built upon.   While "my boyfriend" keeps the pace going, "i've been thinking" sort of slows it all down and changes not only the tempo of the music but the mood as it all comes to an end.

The title of this EP- "truth or truth"- comes from the song "my boyfriend" with lines which ask: "truth or truth do you like me / dare or dare would you kiss me".   As much as these can be songs about love in the beginning, the last song- "i've been thinking"- outright states that is is not a love song and is rather a sadder song about lost connections with the line "I should've kept in touch".   

I like the idea of this EP being "truth or truth" because it makes it just feel so open and honest.   But what's more than that, is the way which these songs are presented, you can almost feel like Ava Della Pietra is growing up through them from start to finish.  It truly feels as if the person who started these songs wasn't the same person who finished them and perhaps, as a listener, you won't come out the same way either.   This EP could simply be about finding your truth, something Ava Della Pietra seems to have done.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Cassette Review //
Social Union
"Fall Into Me"
(Blackjack Illuminist Records)


Right away I can tell that I am going to enjoy this cassette by Social Union because it brings out this distortion but also melodies.   Social Union has a good way of finding their own voice throughout these songs while bringing their influences out as well.  You can tell some of the bands which may have influenced Social Union, but their sound doesn't directly copy that and it takes on this original sound that you'll come to appreciate by the end of "Fall Into Me".

With synths there are thoughts about artists such as PJ Harvey and Garbage.   But then this also can get faster paced and a little bit spooky.   In that way, the sound takes on this idea that becomes a bit of a guessing game.   It feels like you could come up with a lot of names to suggest "What if ____ had fronted ___?"  For me, it's somewhat like if Lana Del Rey was fronting Blondie but I'm not sure if it would be more modern or classic.

The songs can also take on this incredible weight, which makes them sound like thunder and it's just heavy without being metal.   I hear pieces of a band such as New Order, but I also can just feel like this is similar to Metric in the way that every song feels important.   Every individual song still feels like its own little album and that it has its own distinct purpose.   There are no filler tracks on this cassette.

Sometimes I can get really down about music because I can feel overwhelmed and just that there isn't as much new music coming out as there should be.  There exists (or should exist) this balance between music new and old.  There are enough sources out there that artists can create something which feels familiar and immediately draws in the listener but at the same time still paints its own picture.  That is, in many ways, what I look for in music and Social Union has done just that.   

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Cassette Review //
"Touchhole demo"
(Tetryon Tapes)


  The music of Touchhole comes out fast and loud.  There is this certain level of electronics within the sound, but it also has this industrial vibe as well.  It reminds me of something from the early 2000's or around that time when industrial became more experimental.   Somewhere between Nine Inch Nails and Deathdealer, this has elements of Frank Goshit and Dana Fowler And The within it as well.

There is screaming, distortion and it is fast paced.  You can really hear the guitars on the last song.  Sometimes, the vocals are there but they are not words.  Most of these songs are fairly short as well and with that this collection which becomes to demo repeats more than once on this cassette.   In that way, these songs start to become hypnotic because if you're listening to this cassette you might wonder whether you've heard this riff before or if it's just because it's the fourth time you've heard this song.

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