Friday, September 30, 2022

Music Review //
Sicard Hollow
"Face the Wreckage"

One of the very first sounds I hear on this song is the violin and since Sicard Hollow also has this pop and rock sound about them, this immediately reminds me of Yellowcard.  If you're more familiar with the electric side of Yellowcard, they do have a great acoustic song called "Rough Draft", which I can hear in here.  But, of course, since it is the great year of 2022 music is no longer one dimensional and this isn't just a reflection of one sound.

Sicard Hollow have a very unique sound because all of their instruments feel non-traditional in the sense that they have a cello instead of an electric bass.  It's kind of like imagining a band that had guitar/bass/drums and then added in some other instruments and those other instruments would be what came together to form this song with the vocals.

This music video spends time in the studio and moving around as well, which makes for a fitting visual because of the hook: "We will find our way".  Through the acoustics, harmonies are created and this just feels like a dreamy / blissed out song, even if at times it can feel like it's breaking down into something a little bit more country.

Perhaps the biggest part of moving on, in many ways, is simply looking at what you need to look past to keep yourself going.  In this way, we have to face the wreckage.  We have to confront that which haunts us in order to move forward in our lives.   And that can be done with the help of this song.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Music Review //
Luke Reyvn
"Money Pies"

Lately I've been finding myself listening to Machine Gun Kelly quite a bit- especially via the new blackbear album- and when I listen to "Money Pies" it just has that sound of hip hop mixed with pop that could fit in well with one of them.  There are actually quite a few features on the new blackbear album, so to see blackbear and Luke Reyvn on a song together would be quite fitting and I'd enjoy it.

There is something about this music video where it would fit in with the early 2000's on MTV (or perhaps late '90s)  I'm thinking of artists like Nelly and Lil' Jon and how you didn't need to have a huge to create a music video that looks like a short film but rather just have that appearance of cash, cars and style.   Sometimes, this is all it takes to sell the idea and Luke Reyvn has figured out that formula.

Lyrically this song is meaningful whether or not you take the words directly.  On the surface, this song is about drugs in a recreational sense and that will never let me forget that when the USA went to war against drugs it lost.  Drugs won.  Luke Reyvn has lines in here such as: "Drugs make me feel alive" but if you think about it, even if you don't do an illegal drug like cocaine there is a good chance that you have something in your life that acts like a drug.  It's all about those vices (of which I have a few) and we all have them.

With beats like hip hop but soulful singing like a pop star, the big question gets asked in this song, which is: "Are you willing to die for it all just to be living"  There is a balance- what they call "risk vs reward"- when it comes to doing anything.  If you play it safe your whole life, it can feel like you're never really living.  In this way, "Money Pies" is just about going for it, putting your foot on the gas and just doing what you love because it's better to live a full life than a wasted one.

Music Review //
Roger Street Friedman
"Love Hope Trust"

There are two sides to the sound of Roger Street Friedman on this song and they both don't come out right away.   At first, this country-like guitar riff can be heard which makes me think about artists such as ZZ Top and thus other artists who have that music which combines the feel of honky tonk with driving down the great highways of America.  It is that faster paced song though, so in a country genre I'm not sure where it would land because it feels like it can rock a little bit too much for them.

As you watch the music video for "Love Hope Trust" and see those words floating across the screen, you will also notice that the music video is 100% animated and it looks to be 2D at times and CGI at others.   The way the music video looks takes me back to a certain time of the 1990's when bands were still on MTV and it makes me think of Huey ewis and the News as well as Robert Palmer.  That sound- that certain rock n roll way which had horns and just this attitude about it- is what I can hear within this song by Roger Street Friedman as well.  

This music video shows moments of singing and playing the guitar, but also horses and giant ships.  I always think of these type of ships as being pirate ships, though I'm sure they have other uses, but with the bright colors and movements this video just feels like a lot of fun.   It has that vibe of something which was released during the prime of MTV and even though it makes me miss those days I'm just glad that music videos like this still exist and hopefully one day they can all find their way back to the same channel.

Throughout this song, however you want to classify it musically and feel about the music video (because I do recommend listening to this one while driving) there is a line in here I think we all need to follow that says: "Fear is no way to be living"  Many of the things we do (and don't do) are because of fear and in some ways we're conditioned to be fearful but once you just start letting go and opening yourself up to life it can become a lot better.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Wrestling Preview //
Pro Wrestling GRIND
"Electric Crown"
Easthampton, MA

  Pro Wrestling GRIND returns to the Pulaski Club in Easthampton, MA on September 30th after a bit of an absence.   They are just underway with The Emerald 12, which is a tournament to crown their first ever Grand Champion.    At the RPM Fest back on September 4th, they held the opening round and so what's interesting is as we head into this show and are down to the final eight competitors half of them have already defeated and eliminated someone else while the other half got a bye.

Quarterfinals Matches

Ryan Mooney vs Rip Byson

Ryan Mooney avenged an earlier loss in GRIND by defeating Alec Price to make it to this match against Rip Byson.   Rip Byson is one of the few in GRIND who is undefeated and as such this will be a sight to see simply because Ripper has ran through all of his opponents thus far (and not without a war ensuing and not without Derek Neal ending in a draw either) so it feels like this should be a match (and tournament) which favors Rip Byson but it is very possible he could be eliminated in this match.  Ryan Mooney has fought and clawed since day one in GRIND and in ways it also feels like he feeds off of being underestimated.   Betting odds for this would be in favor of Rip Byson, but knowing the heart of Ryan Mooney says this one will be absolutely brutal.

Joseph Alexander vs Jay Freddie

Though O'Shay Edwards defeated Joseph Alexander in the opening round, a scheduling conflict has taken O'Shay Edwards out of The Emerald 12 and placed Joseph Alexander right back into it.   Now, some may assume that since Joseph Alexander lost previously he would just lose again but that experience of losing, knowing what it feels like to be out of the tournament is something that A Game doesn't want to feel again.   This gives him a particular edge over those who have not felt that yet.  Jay Freddie is a guy to build a company around for sure and him winning this whole thing would be, in many ways, him getting his flowers.   This match feels like what would've happened back when Kurt Angle wrestled Hardcore Holly in WWE only it will somehow hit much harder.

Perry Von Vicious vs Logan Black

In many ways, I could say this about all of these matches but I feel it most about this one: Perry Von Vicious vs Logan Black feels like the finals.   These two wrestlers both could have worked their side of the brackets and met in the finals and it would have been spectacular.  However, they're meeting here, in the quarterfinals, and only one of them can move on.  Perry Von Vicious and Logan Black have a lot in common.  PVV comes out to ska, Logan Black comes out to punk, which makes it feel like they'd go to the same shows.  They both have been doing this for a while and just now seem to be really finding their groove in GRIND.   It is the common theme of this tournament, but either of these wrestlers could go on to win it all.   This match is going to be special.  

Delmi Exo vs Travis Huckabee

Perhaps the two most evenly matched competitors in this tournament, Delmi Exo remains undefeated in Pro Wrestling GRIND but Travis Huckabee has appeared on all but one show.   Another situation where either of these wrestlers could not only win this match but the entire tournament and not too long ago they were a tag team in Limitless Wrestling representing GRIND!   A lot of these matches going into them you have an idea of what to expect, but this might be that sleeper match of the night that everyone is talking about for some time to come after it.  

In non-tournament action...

The Mane Event vs Brick City Boyz

Going all the way back to "Doctor, Doctor", The Brick City Boyz made their GRIND debut and lost to MSP.   The Brick City Boyz had a choice to either be respected by the crowd for their power and precision inside of that ring or they could've talked smack to the crowd and got booed.  They chose the latter.  The Mane Event is the only undefeated tag team in Pro Wrestling GRIND, defeating Miracle Generation on that same show, and so that experience is going to come into play here for The Mane Event.   The Brick City Boyz aren't going to want to fall to 0-2 however, so you can bet that they're going to want to make a statement and what better way to do it than by beating the best tag team in Pro Wrestling GRIND.  

And then...

The Emerald 12: Finals

When it comes down to the finals, it's really all speculation at this point.   The thing that's so great about these eight competitors is that not only are they all capable of making it to the final four, but they're all capable and worthy of winning it all.  As a kid growing up, I was a big fan of the King of the Ring tournament in WWE but there was always that round where you knew who would win.  It was always something like "Bret Hart vs one half of the Bushwhackers" and you just knew Bret Hart was winning.

This tournament has no filler and to bet on any of these matches would be tough to do.  Statistically, based on wins and losses and overall total matches, I could see the semifinals being Rip Byson vs Jay Freddie and Logan Black vs Travis Huckabee (or Delmi because statistically I feel they are both very evenly matched)  Then Rip Byson would face Logan Black in the finals simply because they are the two undefeated wrestlers in GRIND with the most overall matches as well.  That would be somewhat of the predictable route, but who is to say Perry Von Vicious doesn't meet Jay Freddie in the finals?

And perhaps that is the best part and why this tournament feels so important now.  Any of these eight wrestlers could win it all.  You could make a case for any of them, really.  But most of that comes down to them being hungry, tired of being underestimated and just ready to show the world what they are capable of because other places may not see their full potential but whether it be years and years as a veteran or someone just coming up, GRIND seems to have realized their potential and become a home for them.  

"Electric Crown" goes down Friday night, September 30th, 2022 at the Pulaski Club in Easthampton, MA.  For tickets and more information please visit and be sure to follow Pro Wrestling GRIND on Twitter at

Friday, September 23, 2022

Music Review //
Scout Durwood
"The Kirk Pasich Project ft. Scout Durwood" 

This five song EP from Scout Durwood has a little bit of something for everyone, as it features five distinctly different cover songs.   I love the duality of a cover song in that it can either be a straight forward sound or a different interpretation, but I also enjoy how sometimes the original can be something widely known and other times it is not.   Scout Durwood seems to have found the magic formula when drawing for artists who everyone knows because if you've ever listened to music you have to know at least one of these originals.

"One Woman Army" by Kate Earl starts off this EP with acoustic / Americana rock.  It reminds me of Sheryl Crow and that "Witchy Woman" era of Fleetwood Mac.   If this is a song you do not know the original of, fear not because this takes us into "Unchained Melody", originally by The Righteous Brothers and it maintains that Buddy Holly era of dreamy rock n roll with R&B mixed in.  "Hanky Panky" is a straight up honky tonk cover of the Tommy James & the Shondells song and if you're familiar with country music this EP is likely hitting all the right spots for you.

When I was growing up, there were these commercials for compact discs and I realize that people don't really have compact discs anymore but they also don't really watch commercials either.  Anyway, the commercials would be for a collection like "The Best Rock n Roll of the 1950's" and they'd play a sample of each song as the song titles and artist names scrolled up the screen.   Because of this I feel like I do learned more about music in genres than I should have at that age but I hope with streaming being what it is music listeners today are more open to everything.

I wasn't sure what other song than The Beatles "Help" could be a cover of and while it is them it doesn't have that upbeat rock n roll sound related with that song.  The Scout Durwood version of "Help" is a moving piano-driven cover and it just feels so solemn but also brings new light to an old song.   The EP closes out with "Christmas In L.A.", which is fitting as the EP will be released later this year (November, closer to Christmas) and in the sense of feeling more modern this song is originally by The Killers.   It really does feel like there is something for everyone here to open you up into the world of both Scout Durwood and Kirk Pasich.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Music Review //
Brice Kendall
"The Birdhouse"

With soft acoustics and melodies, Brice Kendall sings about "The Birdhouse", a song which can be taken in a literal sense but also carry a double meaning.   In these harmonies I can hear Jack Johnson, but it is worth noting that whenever I think of Jack Johnson I think of the "Curious George" soundtrack and, to some extent, this does feel like the type of song that could accompany an episode titled "Curious George Builds A Birdhouse".

But this song can be thought of in a different way as well, with lines such as: "Even if I lose this reality / I have found who I need".  When you're a child, there is this whole idea of you growing up and going out on your own and that can be called "leaving the nest".   If parents have all of their kids move out and feel alone they call that "empty nest syndrome".   So, we already have a lot of comparisons with birds probably because they can fly and we cannot.   Who can resist such a good metaphor as telling someone to spread their wings and fly.

As much as those ideas exist- in comparing humans with birds- they only come to that point of leaving the nest and never really talk about what comes next.   In a lot of ways, I feel like that's where this song by Brice Kendall comes in.   You leave the nest, sure, but then you find is essentially the title of the song in the birdhouse.   Now, what that birdhouse means to you can vary from person to person, just as birdhouses themselves can be out in the country or in the suburbs, but it's about finding what makes you happy.

And, in the context of this song, finding what makes you happy seems to be within other people and basically having a family that you can come home to.   That might not be for everyone though.   Maybe you want to live in a cabin in the woods and write poetry and that's okay but that can also be your birdhouse.   This song also has that sound where it could be played for children and it's okay- it's not offensive or something someone would find a reason to want to turn off.  With that in mind, I think we all need to turn it on and discover our birdhouse.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Music Review //
Rhett Repko
"Won't Cry"

The sound of Rhett Repko begins with beats and acoustic guitars.   There is definitely an interesting voice here because of how unique it is.   Just in the vocal sense of singing this doesn't sound like anyone else, but the way the music forms the melodies just crosses over so many different boundaries that it can't be defined.

At the root of it all, this song is pop.  But it takes me back to the 1980's/1990's when there were singers out there who had songs and felt like the solo version of a boy band.   It might be something only I hear, in that Richard Marx sort of way, but it's what I grew up with so it's good for me.   There is also that overall feeling of this being a boy band sound but at the same time it could just as easily be a pop punk band.   

The song itself is about not crying and one line even says: "Crying only makes it worse"  While there was a time when crying wasn't socially acceptable and now we've gotten more in touch with our feelings and it's become healthy to cry, the point of this song seems to be that if you're in a relationship with someone else and you spend more time crying with them than laughing it perhaps isn't the most healthy situation.   

On some underlying level, "Won't Cry" feels like a song that was originally recorded by someone from the 1990's or so and then a modern band with a different style is covering it, not too much unlike those "Punk Goes Pop" compilation albums.    But with those songs you could tell it was a new artist's take on an older song, whereas Rhett Repko just gives this song its own voice and sound which makes it that much more worth hearing.  

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Cassette Review //
"Box of Black"
(Public Eyesore Records)


Through a lot of sharpness and distortion, this cassette opens up sounding like a swarm of bees is ready to attack.   Words can be heard spoken behind the chaos and it all feels quite dark, like a mystical scene out of a movie from the 1990's.  It all swerves in and out like a static panic.   Through all of this harsh static I managed to hear sirens outside and I had to take a moment to make sure they were in fact not part of the song.

We calm down and start with a ringing type of sound, someone is speaking and it just gives away the idea of being in space from the start.   It turns into a slower, more robotic sounding type of distortion now- as if the static is crushing.   In between songs seems to be the only time it gets calm as we come back into the next song with this modem-drone sound with sharpness breaking through.   This sound just feels as if a sharpness is leaking through.   It sounds like chains are dragging now, but in a locomotive rhythm and with alien whirrs behind them.

On the flip side that static now comes through in waves with horns blasting here and there with them.  Higher pitched tones come through now, as if in awe, but it also has this guitar driven way about it.   There is also a slightly haunted sound within this all.   These sounds all come together too now and feel a little bit like slow traffic.   Through the darkness now comes thr plucking of strings in this Old Western sounding way for sure.   Words can be heard hidden in the back of this all as well.

Distortion flows through haunted whooshes and this feels much like we are caught up in a storm now.    A hollow glass tone comes through now as a drone.   It has taken on a much quieter, ambient way now.   Waves are in and out as soft tones drop.   This all still feels a bit eerie and then the vocals behind it all have returned.   Sharpness is coming through again, like feedback in a way which might hurt the ears, but it still all feels so distant and haunted.   This is how it fades out, maintaining that sense of ambient drone mixed with haunted textures.  

IMG_7291 IMG_7293 IMG_7294 IMG_7295 IMG_7296 IMG_7297

Cassette Review //
German Army
"untitled tape"
(L.I.E.S. Records)


Beats kick through like that Tell-Tale Heart as ambient drone fills the space behind it.   Many electronics come buzzing in now and it feels like we're in outerspace but it also is just so electric it could be like bugs.   The electronics take on this almost Transformers sound and it just becomes this loop of ambient relaxation mixed with a working tone.   The more I listen to this soundscape the more I feel like we are in a simulated dream.  Lasers are blasting and it slowly fades out.  

Whooshes come in next with beats which sound like percussion.  Somewhat glass tones come in with this mix as well and it just feels like we've entered that neon jungle.   It almost feels like a game, ping pong or basketball, but these other tones coming through just make it feel like something else- almost like telephone touch tones- but it just all comes together to create this space vibe.   Onto the next song where the percussion feels more like bongos, we're drifting through spooky whirrs.  

Screeching through now, the percussion becomes louder- abrasive even- but still maintains that acoustic jungle feel about it.  Lasers come distinctly zapping through and this one feels a little bit like a video game.   As this feels like dance it then switches over to another song which feels even more like a dance number with the beats.   With a little bit of rattling now, the next song comes through like the steady bouncing of a ball.   The electronics all loop rather heavily and then we get more minimalist with the next sound.

There is a definite drive here, somewhat heavenly, but also like a video game along the same lines as Double Dragon.   This also takes us to the end of the first side.   On the flip side there is this very distinct type of tone coming through in a percussion way and then those ambient beams shine on through with it.   This all expands and yet somehow can sound haunted as well.   Bigger beats drop in now and they echo.   There are also tones in here like strings but they might not be.   The beats whirr into sounds of ghosts.  Tones come through like magic as this one ends.

What sounds like ahh's comes in now with big distorted beats dropping.  This once again feels somewhat haunted with these slip-sliding beats.   Some more magic can be heard as it opens up at times.   The sound reflects like mirrors.   A different type of whirr now as the percussion comes rushing up like a stampede.    This all ends with this weird almost jazz sound and then we're back into those whirrs from space.   Somehow, the sound of church bells is ringing behind all of this as well.

The percussion comes through so fast and heavy now that it feels like a storm.   It's very wild but then it sort of calms down into this howl.  It pulls back a little bit but returns in that thunderous way before the next track starts up as more of a battle of synths in space.  This drops off and takes us into that Twilight Zone vibe for sure.   Everything goes quiet but then there is a rustling like we're in the woods.  Tones come through like video games or a pinball machine.   The bass thumps.   Ultimately, this all reaches the end and it feels like a true saga.  

IMG_4919 IMG_4920 IMG_4921 IMG_4922 IMG_4923

Music Review //
Voice Of Addiction
"Divided States"

One of the first things you have to enjoy about this album- without even listening to it- is the fact that it's called "Divided States".   There is some humor but also some truth to every time I see something done on a federal level but not a States and I wonder "Aren't we the United States? That doesn't seem very United".   There are so many examples of this and the country just feels like it's at war with itself most of the time so how are we expected to help anyone else?  And this album, in many ways, is exactly about that.

Voice Of Addiction offer up songs that are punk rock charged with elements of hardcore, but they also have melodies.  Artists throughout this album that I hear coming out include (but are not limited to) Strike Anywhere, Propagandhi, Rise Against, Against Me!, Misfits and As Friends Rust.  Depending upon what your biggest punk influences are, you might hear something different and that's fine.  That's just timing.  "I Hate It" opens up like a song from a Go Kart Records band while "Bought and Sold" has that ska-punk sound like Suicide Machines and Operation Ivy.  

While "Divided States" is a politically charged force to be reckoned with, the lyrics hit just as hard as the music itself.  Now, I say this is "political" and on the surface it may seem as such, but in a lot of ways this isn't even political and it's just about human rights- the bare minimum of just wanting to be able to exist.   Far too often people mistake things such as cost of living as being political when it doesn't matter if you're liberal or conservative: you're still overpaying for a lot of human needs.

And I think (and hope) that people will listen to this album and be able to see that.  What this album truly represents in so many ways is the great divide that has taken place in this country.  They want it to be "Democrats vs Republicans" and so they create issues for us to fight about.  But really, the "Us vs Them" aspect of this country has always been the government and that 1% which corrupts it versus everyone else.   Voice Of Addiction seems to get that and by having this album out there I genuinely hope it helps more people to see that.   

Music Review //
Beldon Haigh
"Old Blackeye"

I enjoy music that has an upbeat and positive message to it, but I also enjoy music that feels more depressing and has a bleak outlook on life.   Somehow, Beldon Haigh has created a song in "Old Blackeye" which is all of those things.   With the idea being that life is a pain, but also that we should just enjoy the ride because we're all on it together.   There is a sense of apathy on this song but in the most optimistic way.

This rock n roll sound has an infusion of horns or keys and it reminds me of a band such as The Hold Steady or Nathan Leigh & The Crisis Actors.    I just imagine it as this huge, on stage production with a big arena and fifty people on stage but in reality it is likely more simplistic in how the sound is generated.   Giving off that big vibe though is definitely something I like about this song because it takes me back to when rock n roll wasn't afraid to have so much participation.

The chorus of this song starts with: "Life is a pain and a bore / but it's the little things that stop you being more / don't you waste it trying to even up a score" which starts off as somewhat depressing but it is realistic at least.   Not trying to even the score is good advice and then it kicks into: "It's a great big world / It's a great big life to explore" and that really feels like the big takeaway from this song.

For all of the time we have on this planet, it feels like we spend a lot of it on what it is going to seem really petty later on in life.   So even though this song has this way about it being bleak, there still exists this positive overall message of not letting that get to you- or anything get to you- and just going out and living the best life that you can.   That message coupled with this sound is certain to be an anthem for a long time to come.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Music Review //
"Red Moon"

From the very first note, the song "Red Moon" sounds as if we are walking across a keyboard and the notes are lighting up as we step on them.  It has that synthwave style to it but in a retro way as well.   Part glam and part dance, this song feels like a good nightclub anthem that you would hear and everyone around you would hit the dance floor.

Though there aren't really many musicians to compare APECS with, the way that this has that 1980's/1990's vibe like Cyndi Lauper makes it cool in a throwback way.  It also just seems to encompass everything from that era of time- the style and attitude- to where it feels like you could have an '80's themed party and play this song without too many people thinking it didn't fit.  

At the same time there is a modern feel to it.   I'm not sure what sounds like APECS in 2022, but in more recent years at least I can think of this as being part of that dance-wave movement that brought out such artists as Ladytron.   If you were there in the early 2000's for it then you know exactly what it was about and likely could name a slew of other bands from that time as well.

Maybe this sound comes through in waves, or phases like the moon.   Maybe it never really leaves and in those times when you can't find it that's only because it isn't quite as mainstream.  Either way, whether this music is making its comeback (again) or has always been, this is a fun song that should get you out of your seat.  

Cassette Review //
Erin Demastes
"Thing Music"
(Eh? Records) //

What begins with sounds like something being dragged up and down the stairs turns into that wakka wakka wakka of Pac-Man before strings are heard being plucked.  That dragging stays throughout while the wakka wakka is replaced by the string plucks, but they trade off as well.   It feels as if the dragging sound acts as a beat as the strings just go all out and like a country song almost.   Everything becomes scattered chaos as we reach the end.

Quieter now, we feel the drone of doom as frequencies can be twisted and turn.  There is this hollow static behind it as well, somewhat like a haunted machine.   A sound like insects comes into the background and then those sort of distorted blasts like we're touching electricity.   The engine seems to sort of fade out in little bursts as we dive into the next song with mystical seas and what sounds like horses running.

Metal can be heard being hit together and then tones come through one at a time but it sounds like the hum of the same note on a keyboard.   The sounds of drum machine claps feel like they're coming in now but it also could just be a spark trying to ignite.   The scraping and tone all come together in one sound before they reach their end and we enter a different type of scraping with some windy distortion behind it.   This feels like we're stuck in a hole and are trying to claw our way out.

Higher pitched tones come in now which are somewhere between beeping, a harmonica and a baby.  Tones play in succession and squeak through as that feeling of clawing our way out remains behind it all.   The sounds behind the tones feels like an engine starting up now, but the feeling that this isn't a harmonica but rather some kind of whistle or possibly accordion just makes me feel like I'm not sure exactly what it is but it feels somewhat like car horns failing in traffic as well.  

On the flip side we open up with this sound of static repeating in a loop.  There is a slight drone behind it but this just creates a bit of a groove as well.   The sound of static electricity comes in and this one begins to feel like we are dealing with some kind of electronic monster- as if lightning were to come to life in the form of a kaiju.   It feels as if we're going up and down or rocking back and forth but then there is this primal growling behind it as well, which makes me think of that monster consuming its victims.  

A trill now echoes throughout a large room.   This gets louder, more distorted, and then there is a metal ringing of sorts before a glass-like tone enters quietly.   Frequency changes create one sort of sound while there are metal scraping sounds and this feels more than anything else like a distress signal- a call for help.  This all comes to a head as it reaches the end and in a strong way I feel like this was the last sound you hear on purpose because the S.O.S. didn't make it and you are, in fact, lost.  

Cassette Review //
(Solid Melts)

$6 //

Edition of 100 // // 

Eerie organ drones bring in the banging of the drums.  There is an aspect of this where the organs can feel like church or The Undertaker, but then they also slowly weave in and out like Pole Position in slow motion.  The drums just continue to bang though as these layered synths create the soundscape.   A little bit higher pitched tone comes through now, triumphant, and it feels like we're winning at a video game.  

The next song has these clicks with the percussion and then it also has that video game synth drone as well.   Vocals come in and there is an almost hypnotizing trance about it.  This has the same sort of idea of the song "Another Brick In The Wall" (Pink Floyd) but the percussion and just slow, prodding pace of it makes the delivery different.   The vocals sing about the "River of Sorrow"- which is the title- but also to "Get to the point of no return".  There is a very 1970's punk rock feeling to these vocals as well.

There is a short song of synths which makes me feel like we're about to go into Middle Earth.  It's only thirty five seconds and if I wasn't checking the cassette to the Bandcamp page I'd probably think of it as the end of the second song as this takes us to the end of Side A.

On the flip side we open with a fun synth drone and then the vocals come back in with those clicks of the drums.   This really just feels like slowed down punk to some extent but then at the same time I think about how it isn't really that slow as it has this drone-drive about it.   The song is called "Horizon Line" and the lyrics are about that.  

This takes us into a song which feels like the first one as it is instrumental and has those somewhat eerie X-Files-like tones.   There is this one eerie tone layer and then another layer of driving but I do not hear the percussion during this song.   It feels a bit like an Atari game as well.  This song ends and leaves me feeling similar to the way the first song did and so I feel as if this is a great cassette to listen to on a loop as it really comes full circle.  

Friday, September 9, 2022

Event Review //
Retro World Expo 2022
August 27th & 28th
Hartford Convention Center, CT


Every year that we go to Retro World Expo it just seems to get better.  In years past (and going all the way back to our first year) it felt like we embraced fewer aspects of it.   This year, 2022, it truly felt like we did a little bit of everything and likely somehow still managed not to see it all.   

One of the misconceptions of the idea of "Retro World Expo" is that it is *just* about retro video games.   While they are prominently featured, you can also find comic books, VHS tapes, action figures and other toys, trading card games and art there.  To some extent it does have an old school vibe.  For example: the WWE action figures I saw there were Hasbro, which is from the 1980's/early 1990's.  I didn't see a lot of WWE Mattel figures, which would be the modern brand.

The first and perhaps biggest purchase I engaged in this year came on Sunday but it was linked to Saturday as well.   One of the first booths we saw when we were walking around on Saturday had an Alf plush for sale.   I saw him, picked him up and said "If he's here on Sunday still, I'm going to buy him".   Well, he was and so I did.   


The funny thing about buying this Alf plush and carrying him around is that people would see him and compliment him.  He became a conversation piece at the convention itself.  Quentin, age 10, did not know who Alf was before this but he seems to like him now, which is good.  And ever since I was younger I only wanted two toys that I set out to find in my adulthood: this Alf and a Pee Wee Herman doll (which I picked up maybe five years ago)  So in some weird childhood linked into adulthood way, I also feel complete with this toy now being in my home.

But Retro World 2022 wasn't just about toys and childhood memories.   Wait.  Yes, it was about childhood memories in a lot of ways because the first purchase we technically made was a signed 8x10 by Steve Lavigne.  The short description of Steve Lavigne is that he's a comic book artist who has specialized in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but to put it as simple as that would be like saying "Michael Jordan was a guy who played basketball".   There are few names (you can count them on one hand) out there doing more for TMNT than Steve Lavigne did, so it was both an honor and pleasure to meet him and obtain this TMNT-Minions crossover piece.


Sometimes, who we saw wasn't just a celebrity type behind a table.  One of the best aspects of Retro World Expo is seeing so many different characters walking around.   During the Blitzkrieg! Pro event on Sunday, as Dante Drago wrestled 50 Cal, there was a T Rex in front of the television display fighting with Darth Vader.  Truly one of those "It only happens here" type moments.  


One of my favorite types of people to see at Retro World Expo though are the local artists who come in and create for you.   In years past, we always saw people making that bead art and I've even purchased comic books and stickers which were made by the people selling them.  As of last year though, our favorite creator who comes to these shows is Tayamation.   Last year, Quentin got this great Vaporeon art piece that he still talks about.  His love of Eevee and Eevee's evolutions is crazy good.    This year he got a keychain and gashapon while I was fond of this particular piece.


Blitzkrieg! Pro returned for their second year of wrestling and while that will get its own review (linked here when ready!) the fun fact that connects all of this in some way is Jack Purcell, who is a comic book artist for Marvel and DC but has spent quite some time creating posters specifically for Blitzkrieg! Pro.  They are all really so good and I should know because I have nearly all of them.  So when Jack Purcell announced he was creating this special poster for Bryce Donovan as part of Retro World Expo 2022 I knew we had to have it.   It also helps that Bryce Donovan is one of Quentin's favorite wrestlers.


On the theme of being retro but also not video game related, it was quite the experience this year to meet K.I.T.T. who is from the show "Knight Rider".   This is just another one of those examples of things you will likely only see at Retro World Expo, at least to the extent that it feels like if you're going to see all of these cool things at once this is the place to see it.


I would be remised if I went to Retro World Expo (or really anywhere with comic books) and didn't come home with some comic books.   It's funny how RWX happens once a year but I kind of stock up on things to hold me over until the next time and that includes playing video games and reading comic books.   I picked up this series of six issues of "The Bekkoning" from Deft Beck and will likely spend some time writing about them when I'm done reading them.


Of course it wouldn't really feel like Retro World Expo without getting some video games.  There are a lot of free play games set up on tables throughout the convention center and there are also a large number of arcade and pinball style games as well- all free play!   If you're looking for a Nintendo 64 complete in box or a specific version of Animal Crossing (shout out Phil Cardigan) then this is the best place to find it.  

While looking for the perfect game for Quentin, he decided upon this Nintendo 3DS Megaman game which is six games in one.   This came inside of a plastic sleeve type deal so we didn't open it until we got home and then realized that it still had the sticker pack inside- which was also sealed up but we opened them up.  That was a nice little surprise there for sure.



From comic books to video games, toys to art, professional wrestling to talking cars, there really isn't anywhere else you can go that is quite like Retro World Expo.    I definitely feel like we made the most of it this year, experiencing it more fully than we ever have before.   It just makes me that much more excited for next year.    And I just want people who might think it's about one thing to know how many different genres are represented so that maybe you see something that makes you want to go next year if you feel like you missed out this year.

IMG_2190 IMG_2191 IMG_2189 IMG_2194 E72589EB-4286-4EED-9A89-B4FFF779F68C IMG_2181 IMG_2197

Music Review //
Sparky's Magic Piano
"Never Twice the Same Colour"


One of the only things about this album which bothers me is the title.  I constantly want to write it as "Never the Same Colour Twice" but that might just be me.   Sparky's Magic Piano begins this album with electric guitars which first hint at some coffee shop jazz but then bring in those organ keys and turn into something more psychedelic.    This takes us into a song which has that cool almost spy theme way about it.  

The guitar work really shines on "Last Supper" and it's just blissed out.   Then everything just opens up on "Colette" as the horns come in but it also just has this very indie rock / pop feeling to it.   The titular track brings out synths like The Rentals and is overall just a lot of fun.   It has a big rock vibe to it, something like Metric, but it also just feels like a different genre at the same time.  And this album does that a lot: seems like one genre but really is a combination of different genres and even creating some of its own.

"Someone from There" has lighter tones, like The Cranberries or Mazzy Starr.   This continues with the keys and appropriately named song "Heaven Chord".    This music is dreamy though and above all else it just has that quality to it- however you want to state it, the general vibe of it is dreamy / bliss / melodic.   Even as the acoustic strums come in on the very last song in that ukelele way.

Really this music is just designed to set the mood and that mood is a positive one.  Whether you're in a good mood or a bad mood, Sparky's Magic Piano is going to leave you in a good mood after you listen to "Never Twice the Same Colour".   The story this album tells is just one which should be celebrated and with every listen it only gets better.

Music Review //
"Flowers from the Fray"


There always seems to be this idea of what Americana sounds like but it can tend to feel like the artists are from California or somewhere which just doesn't really represent the true nature of the United States.   Something within these songs by Satsang just represents the actual feel of America.   While there is a song that discusses California in such a way, I'm a fan of it because I always feel like the east coast gets a bad wrap because of certain cities I won't name but don't live in.

The introduction to "Flowers from the Fray" is a collection of voice mails checking in on the human behind the Satsang name.  One of them is about a guitar while another is about finding someone to help get out of a dark place.  I did sort of laugh when the voice said "It's not me, but let me know when you find that person".   It seems as if Satsang has found that person, in his wife and family, as this album shows.

With acoustic guitars and banjos, this music has the feel of Jack Johnson, the Wallflowers and Tom Petty.   There is that rambling feeling but it also can just slow down.  Regardless of what genre of music you listen to though, I feel like "Flowers from the Fray" is about something more than just the sound and the label you want to put on it.  Everyone has likely been in that dark place during their life and this music represents what happens next: how to get out of it.

It feels like a lot of musicians write about what it's like when they're down and out but not as much about what happens after that: how they get out of it.   Even in somewhat of a gospel way, this album just seems to be the next step in healing and if you need to talk to someone you definitely should.   Then you can appreciate this one a little bit more as it is the rainbow coming out of the storm.  

Music Review //
Lucid Kidd
"Smooth Sailing"

Everything about this song from Lucid Kidd is positive.  The saying itself, "Smooth Sailing", is an example of that but from the sound to the lyrics to the overall vibe this song gives it's just that definition of ecstasy (and not the drug)  The music itself is on the hip hop side but there is singing and it's just all blissed out.  Between that idea of rap and pop, it just has this melody that I think defines genre and should put it into its own space with just the tag "melodic".

The song itself is fun because it's about thinking about someone in a positive light- which is not something we often hear in songs (A lot of songs are about heartbreak)  "When I think about you / I think about the ocean / smooth sailing / and the seven seas" is really one of the biggest poetic compliments you could pay another person.   But then when that hook changes from the ocean to being the motion the song turns from an emotional attachment to a physical one.

This music video is interesting because it has a strong focus on water, which is fitting given the title.  The main character starts off in a bath tub, submerged underwater and then somehow is seen struggling to break free while stuck inside a television that the other version of the character in the bathtub walks by.   There are also scenes at the beach- at the ocean- and I just think it means that as much as it feels like smooth sailing it can take but a moment to drown.

Though that is the type of warning we should all pay attention to, at the same time this song just brings me so much joy that I don't want to think about the negative side of things.  You know how when you first meet someone and you feel like you're in love with them that even the thought of them makes your whole body feel so happy?  That's the exact feeling that this song conveys and if you want that happiness in your life then listen to Lucid Kidd.

Music Review //
Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado
"Navigation Blues"


At some point in everyone's life they learn about the blues.  Typically, it can be found in a movie where someone doesn't know what the blues sounds like so they have this experience where they hear it for the first time and it's life changing.  The exact way that "Navigation Blues" starts is how I would show someone what the blues sounds like.  "You've never heard the blues before?" and then I'd press play on this video.

Though this one starts with a guitar sound, it kicks into a full band and just exemplifies everything I love about the blues.  The video has the main character swimming underwater, coming up and then walking onto land with guitar in hand.  I like to think this symbolizes that we are all like fish out of water whenever we venture into something new- or even things we are familiar with- because it's just that idea of viewing life as a learning experience.  

In a somewhat odd but welcomed way this video ends with a guitar solo and all I can think about when listening to it is B.B. King.  Regardless of whether or not you like blues on the whole, B.B. King has to be that exception and Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado could also be as well.   It's just such a perfect example of a sound that's been around for longer than me but doesn't seem to get as old.

Perhaps the best part about the "Navigation Blues" is that it makes me think back to when we didn't have computers inside of our phones and so you'd have to buy a map or print out directions from a place like Mapquest to get where you were going.  I like to think of this song as representing that but the destination isn't some place that can be found on a map it's more of a life journey type of thing.  

Music Review //


From late August into early September, RPxSB released these three albums which became "CREATURES" and is in three Acts.    Each Act is eight songs, so it has twenty four songs in total- which might seem like a lot but when you really get into it, the time just flies by.   Perhaps the biggest factor to consider when listening to all three Acts is that this can't really have any filler (and it doesn't) because while twenty four might seem like a big number (and you could put in a few filler songs) if you're listening to this one Act at a time, then it's less likely you'll have a filler song when only considering eight.

My first time listening to this all the way through was from the beginning of Act I to the end of Act III.   I just did it all in one big listen.   But if you listen to Act I and really get into it, then move onto Act II a little while later and then do the same with Act III it might suit you better.   Listening to it all at once can feel like a lot to take on, but it also doesn't.   There are spots you'll pick out at first and then on subsequent listens there are other lyrics and beats you'll pick up on.  It might just take you longer to find those specific pieces because there are so many more of them spread across the three Acts.

On "Weather Patterns" there is a reference to professional wrestler Shawn Michaels, which I really enjoy, and also the line: "Life will get you down if you let her".   On "Playzone" there is another wrestling reference: "When I needed help you were like John Cena / I didn't see you" and that's just on Act I!  Act II opens up with a reference about X-Pac and there is a song called "Kevin Nash", which is one of my all-time favorite songs now and I just hope the man himself has heard it.

This feels like the type of sound a label such as Hand'Solo Records would spread out across a lengthy cassette.  It just has that vibe about it where it feels modern but there are throwback elements in it as well.  The lyrics stand out as much as the music itself and really any song on it could be your introduction to RPxSB and it'd be worth it.   Somewhere between clipping. and something else I can't quite put my finger on, this might feel like a lot of music to listen to at once but when you're into it, the experience becomes undeniable.  

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Music Review //
Happie Hoffman
"All I Needed (Summertime Mix)"

There are few artists out there who have ever really captured the sound which Happie Hoffman displays on "All I Needed".   Somewhere along the lines of Corinne Bailey Rae, this song could be heard in a coffee shop but isn't quite the same type of pop jazz that one might think of in that sense.   Artists such as Macy Gray and Norah Jones come to mind but this really has such a unique sound.

The vocals come through, almost whispered, with keys and it just has that sound which you want to sing along with the first time you're hearing it.   This song has the hook of: "No I don't need advice or direction / All I needed was love and attention"  I think this is a good point for a love song to make- which many other songs don't seem to make- because sometimes we just wanted to be loved for who we are and not who someone else thinks we should be.

While in a relationship with someone else- whether it be family, romantic, friendship, etc- sometimes you just want someone to be there to have your back.   Yes, advice can be good at the right time, but sometimes we don't always need to hear about how we're screwing up our lives (Many people don't learn unless they do it themselves) and we just need someone there to pick us up when we fall (not so much warn us when we're about to fall, even though that is good too, just we're not always going to listen)

Ultimately I like to think of this as being a deep pop song.  It doesn't have anything about it that would make someone hear it and want it turned off, so it appeals to mainstream in that way.   You could have it playing and you could even sing along without really thinking about it, but if you do listen to the lyrics and take the time to explore them and consider the feelings of others based upon them, well, it might just make the world a better place.  

Friday, September 2, 2022

Cassette Review //
Andreas Davids + Sven Phalanx
"Space Ambient Pop"


This cassette begins with some quiet outerspace drone.   It feels as if there is this sort of yelling in the background and it makes me think of the movie "Alien" to start.    A loop comes in now with somewhat haunted tones and it reminds me of "Halloween".   Laser blasts are in here now and it feels like we're fighting a sci-fi war.  A more pleasant tone, as if we are riding on a carousel, comes in now as does one which sounds like Knight Rider.   This still feels haunted though, as if souls are trapped within the sound.

A distinct ringing starts up the next song and there are words being spoken as well.   Magical tones cut through now and the pace quickens.   This sound really begins to find its groove and the words continue to pour out.  It can feel as if we're driving through the desert but it can also feel as if we're on a magic journey as well.  The way the beat just keeps up though makes this feel like a fun song to listen to while driving.  It really just pushes the beat as well, almost to the point where it can feel like a dance number.

What's interesting about the next song is it starts with these two sounds that are kind of like squeaks or some kind of bird calls but I can't quite describe them.  They remain as these X-Files type tones come in and bring us back into that realm of sci-fi thinking.   This then just leads to flat out laser blasts, as if we're playing an arcade game.   It gets this faster loop within everything else and the way it just combines the sci-fi elements with the magical ones really shows what this cassette is all about.

On the flip side we start with what sounds like a grinding drone.   Tones drop in with the drone now and it feels like we're going on a sailing adventure.  With the beats and tones it begins to feel like we are in a video game now and it is rather enjoyable.   The tones once again become isolated over the grinding drone and then seem to open up in awe.  This track has come full circle but also seems like it is ascending to Heaven.  The beats have picked up the pace a bit now as well.  We're moving along nicely.   And then this very distinct sci-fi type tone loop comes in.  

A dark grinding now brings in this sort of mechanical sound as vocals also can be heard but without words.   The words can be heard now, as they say the title of the cassette: "Space Ambient Pop".   I really enjoy the way this one moves but it is also the shortest song on this cassette as we now get some slipping sounds mixed with strings that sound like a sitar.   There is a sound now as each note is being touched you can hear the ripples coming from it.   These notes all become isolated and the beats return one final time.

IMG_7149 IMG_7150 IMG_7151 IMG_7152 IMG_7153 IMG_7154