Friday, March 31, 2023

Music Review //
Noah Derksen
"You Got a Hold on Me"

Every so often a song comes along which I can hear pieces of other songs in it but the sound just escapes me.   The instruments used in this song by Noah Derksen seem to make it want to be a rock song, or at least in the genre of rock, but that is rather vague.  It's on the lighter side of rock though, perhaps where you might get to "easy listening", but even that doesn't feel right.

The idea of being rock but on the softer side also could bring up a lot of ideas which are incorrect.   It's not that it's soft, as much as that it's just sort of mellow.  In some ways I think of an artist such as Neil Young or The Wallflowers, but that isn't quite right.  Perhaps the closest comparison to make is The Eagles' song "Take It Easy", but as close as that comes it is still not completely accurate.

At the same time, as much as I am unsure as how to describe this music, it is important to note that the general idea of the lyrics (even as the title implies) is that of a love song.   So I certainly do feel as if you were going to write a song as a love letter to someone else, this might be the exact type of pace and tone you would want to use.

During the song, there are moments of music without words and so it does feel to some extent like this is a song that has more of this chill music in it than lyrics.  I'm not sure if folk is the right way to describe it either, but it's not really in your face and it's just rather pleasant so I certainly think it's something that everyone can mellow out and enjoy.  

Music Review //

The subject of being sober is one that is not to be taken lightly, but JETSETFOREVR seems to have found a way to discuss it here without taking the side of those who would be on either side of it.   On one hand, this could be seen as a party song in some way- a sort of end of the night song that would play at the end of a movie soundtrack such as "Can't Hardly Wait".   But at the very same time, it doesn't have to be about drinking at all.

There is a line in here that says "I'm scared of getting older" and I think the song is about that in a lot of ways.  Sometimes, you drink because you want to be able to do the things you could do when you were younger- you want to relive those glory days- but as you get older, perhaps your alcohol tolerance changes as well.  We have to accept, all of us, that at some point in our lives we're not going to be out there partying the same way we once were.

During this music video, the main character sits on the couch as the party goes on around them.  I think this just goes to show that sometimes the scene that you might have once felt like you were a part of isn't your scene any more.  And it doesn't have to be the fault of anyone, it just sometimes comes down to growing older and things changing in that regard.

This song makes me think about Post Malone, if only because of that song he did for "Into The Spider-Verse", but it also makes me think of blackbear because of how much I listen to blackbear.   But there is this general vibe of hip hop that's mixed with pop music.  It could be on the mainstream radio, closing out parties and just closing out the night in general because we're all getting older.  

Cassette Review //
Distorted Earth
(Collapsed Structures)

This cassette begins with the sounds of a haunted drone.  I'm not sure how it's done, but it just feels like millions of undead souls are trapped within this guitar as it drones out the notes but also you can hear them, the sort of voices, haunting you, trying to come back to life.   More melodic chords come through but then it just gets minimal to where it sounds like the breathing of a ghost. 

The guitar comes through with this whirring drone now where it feels like we're going to take off.  Louder bass emerges with it.   This drone is coming through a little bit wavy, but the whole time it still feels like something is going on behind it which makes it a bit eerie.   This whole vibe is certainly one of a horror film.   Distorted guitar notes cut through now in a rather metal way.  

The sound continues to dive, deeper and deeper, more like we're falling into a hole from which we cannot climb out.  That feels like the real scary monster in this sound- that isolation and certain doom, rather than a shadowy figure we can put a face on.   Sounds come through which almost sound like cries for help, but then we're right back into that dark void.   The whirrs cut back and forth before taking a final stand, which unleashes this magical distorted guitar riff.

Now it just feels as if we are crashing down, note by note, dropping off the face of the earth.   Notes drop in to make it feel like we're in space, just floating.   Given the way the sound has been up until now, there is also that X-Files way about this with the notes.    This is on a cassette that was once the audiobooks version of The Bible, so as the music fades the very loud words being spoken come out to bring everything full circle. 

Cassette Review //
Zach Rowden


When this cassette begins it sounds as if a machine- a motor of some type- is going back and forth.   The way it does this also feels as if it is creating some sort of vocal sounds, though I don't think they are actually saying words so it might not be the case.   It seems to switch gears down, to something a little bit heavier now and those vocal sounds have become monster groans.  This maintains an impressive pace as well, which is why I think it feels so mechanical.

As we get deeper in, it feels as if there are almost definitely vocals coming through in some way.   They might be buried back there and you can't quite tell what is being said, but I feel like I hear them and if it's not true and just a way the music itself sounds that makes it even more remarkable.    This takes us into that sound of tools falling over in the garage and then some sort of demon coming through as well.  

Some scraping sounds now, as this all still feels mechanical but now it feels more like we're digging somewhere- almost as if we're on some sort of construction site.   A little bit of sharpness comes in the background as this one just feels like it's droning, but in a way that you might encounter a kaiju in the sewer.   Whirrs come through now like it's windy and then you can almost hear what sounds like car horns outside.   A definite scraping now, or dragging of a metal tool of some kind.  

On the flip side we start with what sounds like a windstorm coming crashing through.   This grows louder and thus much more in your face.  It really feels like we're in the middle of it, then some sharpness comes through and it feels like we're hearing vocals again.   Bursts of harshness make an appearance.  With all of this sharpness it just feels like we're slipping through a wind tunnel but in some way that makes it feel like a frequency is being used to try and get us out of it.  It's like how people disappear in space.

Shots are fired through this as well, which makes it feel more like a robot in space, bringing back the final audio of some great astronaut who fought in some great space war.   Slight video game sounds come through as well, giving it a bit of a different perspective.   The robotic beeps do make it feel like a slowed down video game now and if this was some elaborate soundtrack to the game Asteroids I would find it to be rather fitting.  

Cassette Review //
Trance Macabre
"Live @ Redscroll"

My warning going into this cassette review is that I picked it up at a live performance by Trance Macabre and I cannot seem to find anything on the internet about it.  I went to Bandcamp first, naturally, but even doing a Google search seemed to not really work.   So I'm not sure if you can order this cassette online or not, but it is worth checking out the Trance Macabre YouTube channel at least.  

The sound of Trance Macabre starts with driving horns, percussion and it just feels like experimental jazz but on another level.   The flute comes through and what amazes me the most about this entire cassette is how well they all work together.  I know that Trance Macabre, as a collective, exists in different forms, with different members, so I always wonder if they get together and rehearse before playing like this (they must) but then it also becomes a matter of how often they rehearse.

Without having that studio recording but rather a live performance, it just feels like this is something the musicians would have to play together for years to create a sound this in sync.  There is this one part of the first section on the cassette where it feels like we're running from danger and then it all quiets down as big cymbal crashes take over.   This is how the first part of the cassette ends as you can hear a "Thank you" from the artist, but the show isn't over yet.

A strong bass line starts off things next, which then makes the sound turn into something closer to funk.  There is a little bit of singing, but the majority of the singing on this cassette seems to be done with the musical instruments.   After another thank you, the music begins with a slow build and just gets this steady groove highlighted by the horn section.   The flute is back as well and this whole show just feels like something so well planned out but also so much improvised at the same time.  

Perhaps the biggest part of this cassette remains the power of the members of Trance Macabre to work together as one.  In doing so, this sound created is so unique that even those who oppose the genres you might be able to place it in would still be able to appreciate it.  I especially enjoy though that this just feels like something you have to see live not just because of the experience but because it's not something you can just stream on Spotify.  

Music Review //
Robert Jon & The Wreck
"Shine a Light On Me Brother (Live)"


One of the best things about music is that how you listen to it entirely depends upon you.  If you want to sit in your room with headphones on by yourself or go to a crowded show (or anything in between) you can!  I've always believed that the best way to experience music was in a live setting and if Robert Jon & The Wreck are not coming to city near you currently or you just want to relive the magic, then this video is a good place to start.

Robert Jon & The Wreck have announced that they will release their first ever live DVD on April 21st, perhaps the closest experience you can get to a concert without leaving your house.   "Shine a Light On Me Brother" is a taste of that, as the video features the song being performed by the band.   While Robert Jon & The Wreck seem to have a classic rock n roll sound mixed with some of that gospel soul, it definitely seems to translate live.

Something I don't think people talk about enough is how musicians might be better live than on record.   And while I enjoy the music of Robert Jon & The Wreck, if you've happened to listen to any of their songs and just thought "This isn't for me", I do feel like this would be the perfect example of a band that you would still be able to see live and have a good time because that's where they seem to also have their most energy.

During this music video, you can see how the music takes over and the crowd begins to clap along.  Just that feeling of being connected with not only the artist on the stage but everyone else in that crowd is what makes the live experience so special.   Even without being there in person, but just by watching this video you can see that.   The way musicians connect with their fans at shows is important and Robert Jon & The Wreck seem to have perfected it.  

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Music Review //
Casey Moon


Casey Moon creates this mellow mood on "distance" which feels like a cross between chillwave and some sort of gaze.  There are electronics which make me think of PM Dawn, but it comes in with beats as well.   Though it feels like something from the 1990's musically, the vocals come through a bit distorted with what sounds like autotune to form a unique sound there as well.  

Right away this song asks "how long's the distance between you and me" and it feels like the way the lyrics go are about distance in the sense of how some people say there can't be enough distance between them.  And it's weird to say, but there are situations where distance between two people isn't judged by miles because you could feel so distant from someone who is in the same room as you.

In that way, this song feels more like it could be about growing apart and I think that is just something that happens over time.  There is also the line "I swear there's just nothing good on tv", which is relevant to the song in context but overall I think it stands on its own.  I always find myself watching older television shows because the new ones either just aren't as good or they get one season and then are canceled.  

There is a definite sense of verse and chorus in this song, where it can kind of go up and then dip back down like a wave, but at the same time it very much just feels like a journey from Point A to Point B, from start to finish.   I really enjoy this overall sound, which might border on bedroom pop, and the message behind it is to be thought about a lot as well.  

Music Review //

As someone who listens to a lot of music, I don't ever want to feel like I'm telling people how to make music.  And while I enjoy many different styles of music, I do feel like if you're going to create a song of protest, such as this is, it is best experienced in a loud way.  I know there were many folk songs of protest, but it's always made more sense to me to have songs that you want to make a point with be so loud that they cannot be ignored.

This song begins with two musicians who are both singing and during the video you can see them playing as well.  The lyrics are more spoken and screamed than singing, but it creates that exact type of presence that this type of song needs.   You see, lyrically this song begins about not being able to play football.  I think, within the United States, there is a great divide that exists between those of us who are hyped up and have parties for the Super Bowl and those of us who couldn't possibly care less.

Fast paced metal, this reminds me of a cross between Dillinger Escape Plan and Buck Gooter.   It seems to have a very strict verse/chorus/verse way to it until about halfway through the song.  Then, and the video changes as well, it breaks down into this sort of dance number with singing.   Though, the mood and sound might have changed the overall vibe of what these lyrics are about remains.  

For me, this song is about how our beliefs shouldn't separate us but rather bring us together.  At the end of the day, we live in the same country with the same awful government so instead of fighting over things such as sports why not look at who the real villain of this story is.  We need to start wondering more about why the government (and the corporations that control them) have so much while we, the majority, have so little.  

Cassette Review //
"jello world"


I would like to preface this review by saying that this is 100% the type of music that Quentin (age 11) enjoys because it's like making video games into songs.   It starts off with these blissed out tones that make me think of video games but then the percussion comes in to make it feel more like a song.  When I think of 8bit music (do they still call it "chiptune"?) I generally just think of the sounds made by the beeping and such, but this has more of a full band feel to it.  

Through nice melodies, this cassette also has sounds that remind me of Mario jumping and collecting coins.   It's the perfect balance of having that 8bit sound but also a rock sound like The Advantage.    Synths come in and it can take on more of an electronic trance feel, but then it goes right back into what I think of as being like those NES type of games where you'd just walk and punch things to death.

The beats on here are very real.  Feelings of Pong with beeping, lots of beeping.  An audio clip comes in as a loop, and then it grows faster paced which makes me think about skramz if it was video game style.   This is a very fun ride through earth and space, crossing galaxies even.  At times I hear the sound when you fall down a hole and die and I've always disliked doing that, especially in the original Super Mario Bros.

I've listened to a lot of music and I've heard my fair share of music which reminds me of video games as well.   But I've never quite heard what you could isolate as a video game effect and use it in a song the way that vacationland does on this cassette.   It's less like a video game and more like a rock song, but yet you recognize the sounds from video games so it just creates this new genre and new concept inside of your mind. 

Cassette Review //
"world of us"

The music of spit-take is something that I enjoy because it has this sound like nothing else out there because of the vocals.   I've always felt like if you're going to create a rock band, you should sing in the way that your voice allows and not try to sound like someone else.  A lot of singers sound like other singers, but with spit-take you get that voice which is unique to them and that makes the overall sound feel more their own.

Rock music that's energetic reminds me of bands such as The Thermals and The Hold Steady.  It's just that general idea of rock from the early 2000's but, again, with vocals that will leave no doubt in your mind whenever you hear a spit-take song.  Perhaps there is a little bit of Piebald in here, but the music is quite different from existing bands as well.  It's as if spit-take took the formula for an indie rock band, ran it through a blender a few times and came up with their own ideas.

On the side of pop punk (which this isn't really) the songs can be somewhat catchy.  I'm not saying you'll be singing along on the first listen, but maybe after three or four times through you'll get hooked on songs like "(i wanna move to) alaska".  I feel like the sound is really out there, not easy to grasp, but with the lyrics and melodies it makes the singing along part within reach and I do enjoy that as well.

The song "seven feet" kicks off Side B with a bang and seems to be about being more confident and having a better life if you were taller.  I'm not seven feet tall and I'm not saying it might not be true, but as someone who is generally considered to be tall I think that the only benefit to it is that along with all of your emotional problems you also get chronic neck, back and knee pain.  

As we get into the last three songs on this cassette, they also tend to be a bit longer.   "another dream" has this rather long part at the end which is only the music and I think that's only fitting.  While spit-take might take on the verse/chorus/verse style at times, they don't always, and at times they kind of create their own song structure.  But once you listen to this cassette, once you hear spit-take, you won't be able to hear them as anything else and if you're like me you'll begin comparing other artists with them.  

Cassette Review //
lastoctober / Void Puppet
"Hits from the Abyss"

This cassette begins with some electronics that sound like going back and forth between radio frequencies, but it quickly turns into this massive amount of distortion which just feels like an explosion.   As the static slows down, a piano enters and this seems to be that type of sound that is finding the beauty within the chaos.   As the pianos fade, the static grows louder and takes over the entire song.

Pure electricity makes it feel as if we're in a storm, though there are these somewhat sad back and forth tones behind this.   Bursts of static come through now as the electronics are back there making all sorts of beeping and just give off the overall feeling of robotics.   Though it slows to the end, it comes back much louder at first.  Moments of minimal sound are combined with some very in your face noise.  

Everything is reduced to a piano part which has a very somber and sad way about it.  It goes on for just long enough before a certain amount of noise comes blasting through, making it feel as if the sadness is at war with something greater, something louder.   The way the piano turns from notes to chords with all of the other sounds coming down at the same time just feels so powerful, as it comes to a slower, minimal stop before growing more intense.  

On the flip side we start with some distortion and there is almost this beeping but it sounds like muted words.   This does become distorted words and then the static grows as well.   It becomes screeching and just feels like glitching video games.   This also comes in on the next song which has that wavy Atari feel about it.   Whirrs are coming in like aliens now and it just feels like we're in flight.  

Quieter now, it feels as if we're walking outside.   Beeps come out in a sequence which also has this vocal groan in it.  This descends into what feels like strings falling apart with the static.  A ringing glitch now and it feels like we have a motor going, like Pole Position.   Parts of this drop off and it feels like some pretty heavy industrial electronics.   This comes through in strong waves which feel like the end of a video game.

Some of that static is back with beeping on the next song.   The electronics come through harsh now, with loud beeping that really pierces the ears.   There is a darker rhythm to this now, a sort of bass drive and then the electronics return just as sharp as before.  Ultimately, this sound feels like it's rocking back and forth as it grinds us to the end of the cassette.  

Music Review //
James Bishop

James Bishop has created a song called "Bones" which is somewhere between the sound of electronics glitching and the sound of a hymn.   Ultimately, this song consists of electronics, but the way they come in not only sets the mood for the entire song but makes it feel as if they are cracking through like thunder, while coming out in bursts like a glitch.

The sound feels somewhat minimal, as it is a softer sound, more intense than loud.  It hits hard sometimes for just one note, but then there is also this part where it becomes quiet and only the vocals can be heard for a little while.  Somewhat haunting, a lot of powerful vibes come through in this song as it just commands the presence of its listeners.

More recently than not I've become fascinated by human anatomy.  As this song sings: "I want to know the life within my bones" it makes me think about how not just humans but animals can live and die while their bones go on.  It makes me wonder why we aren't made of something better, something which can keep us alive for as long as these bones remain on this earth.  I know it's complicated, but it makes me wonder.

I hear this song in the way that someone who digs up dinosaur bones might.   Imagine how long it has been since dinosaurs (minus birds) have roamed this earth and yet we're still finding their bones.  The fact that we can leave something behind, long after we're gone, is what really fascinates me and what this song is perhaps really about.  Hopefully James Bishop can help you find the legacy in your bones.  

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Music Review //
"Look Up At The Stars"

The music of NAKAMURA Hiroyuki is largely piano-based.   It starts off with this cool, calming way about it where it feels like someone is just playing the piano to keep the room at ease.  However, as it goes on, through songs such as "Lay", the pace begins to quicken.  It has this heavy bass part with it as well, which just makes it feel like the score to a film and we are fleeing.

From the frantic we go to the beeping on "Get Rid Of My Anxiety", which reminds me of a train and I imagine we are on that train to escape whoever was chasing us.  This can certainly feel as if it is telling a story- a movie can play out in your mind- and before it ends, the song "Tomtom" can bring out these distorted sounds which feel like guitar notes.  

Whatever you do while you listen to this album, it just feels like that experience would be made better.  You can do something involving movement- such as driving or exercise- but you could also be perfectly still.  In either case, I hope this paints pictures inside of your head that will help you to not only hear this music but see it as well.  

Cassette Review //
Sad New Owner
"Soft Moss Under Foot"

The sound of Sad New Owner can best be described as folk punk, as it tends to be vocals + acoustic guitar, but to confine it to only that genre would feel like a disservice.  There are different emotions within these songs and I certainly feel as if the way that the guitar sounds (and how it is played) is a reflection of the mood of the lyrics as well.

"Take Care Of Yourself" is about hearing a podcaster signoff with that line and it hitting really hard.  I don't listen to podcasts, but this particular idea resonated with me because this is how I felt the first time (and every time since) I hear the clipping. song "He Dead" say "Stay alive at all costs".   Sometimes words just mean so much and they make you feel ways you don't expect.

With hints of Spanish Love Songs in the emotions, other songs can take on the feeling of those working class blues.  I particularly can feel this on "Gas Bill", which is like the electric bills in Connecticut.   So, during the pandemic of 2020, our local energy company (shoutout Eversource) raised our prices.  Customers noticed because they were once paying $100 for usage and $20 for delivery and were now paying $50 for usage and $100 for delivery.

While I feel like a lot of the ideas of social skills when it comes to other people can be related to within these songs, I really like that the state of Connecticut lets Eversource have a monopoly on energy and yet when our local mayor asked them why their prices went up they gave no real reason, just said it was because usage was down.  Isn't this what the state was supposed to prevent?

As much as I feel like I want to get together and set fire to these buildings until they change their ways, I'm also just moved by the song "Forgotten Relics From the Myspace Age".  I think a lot about how there weren't really digital cameras when I was growing up, so it wasn't the same back then when you would do anything-- you couldn't just post about it with an easy photo and all that.  It makes me both happy and sad at the same time.

Two of the songs on here- "The One With The Thumb Piano" and "The Other One With That Same Thumb Piano" both have those vibes like someone is turning the crank on the Jack In The Box and the puppet hasn't jumped out yet.  I now am supposing that sound is being made by a thumb piano, but I'm not sure if I want to look it up or live in mystery.

Cassette Review //
"Monthly Subscription Series Collection 01"

This cassette is part of the Monthly Subscription Series from 2021, so if you are unable to travel back into time and obtain this via a subscription then you can buy it now like some sort of future pleasantry.   While this cassette is full of so many different musicians and sounds, it just feels overall like it could best be described as minimal gaze.

The percussion comes in on the second track and it just feels like we're floating in space.  I've said this about music before, but I've never quite heard music played like this that has made me feel like we were floating on clouds.  There is certainly more minimal and instrumental music which can feel as if it's up in the clouds, but this is more complex and yet somehow not at the same time.

Though the linear notes don't mention a sax, I feel like I hear one.  It's trippy and it's just swirling around, yet so blissed out.   The rhythm really begins to drive on "Anew" and "Silver" is the last song on Side A.  The song has a sweet sound and I don't mean that in the way people usually say it as a compliment but rather it's sweet like sugar.  

On the flip side there is this rock that kind of goes up and down, which I can only describe as zipping.  It also has this slight way of reminding me of U2, mostly that "Even Better Than The Real Thing" song.   At times, the flip side takes us to places that are dreamy and also it can just feel chopped up.  

When you think about film as being this series of images shown in sequence to give the impression that they are moving, I feel like the chopped parts of these songs come out in that way: as little bits in sequences.  Between that and feeling like this one is up in the clouds, these are really a set of songs to experience because they are so light and feel as if they have elements which are usually so grounded.