Friday, April 28, 2023

Music Review //
Mister Rabbit
"Subtle Tribute"


The sound of Mister Rabbit feels like it's straight out of the MPLS scene.  Somewhere between the Replacements and Soul Asylum, this could be a song within the movie "Can't Hardly Wait" or "Empire Records" as it also boasts that 1990's rock appeal, you know the type of sound that took over the radio after grunge.

I like the idea behind the "Subtle Tribute" because it often times feels like we're doing things even if we don't know why.   This song has the line: "I can't get you off my mind" and so it feels as if maybe this person is doing things for someone else, even if they aren't aware of it.  I like that you can have that tribute in a helpful way without really intending it to be as such.

But what's more so than that is when you're an artist of any type and you have these influences and kind of put them into your art and perhaps they go unnoticed.  As a musician, it must be nice to drop a little guitar riff here and there to emulate one of your favorite musicians growing up, but knowing really knows about it but you.

Being subtle and not hidden though shows that these tributes could be discovered, but it's still a messy situation when you feel like you're doing things (like writing songs) for someone you think you aren't going to be writing songs about any more.   This song also feels like it could be the key point in the movie where someone makes a grand gesture for someone else and if you're not living that life then perhaps you should.  

Music Review //

From start to finish, this song "Scarp" takes you on quite the ride.  It is instrumental and electronic to the point where it reminds me of a cross between something from the movie "Hackers" and something from the movie "Run Lola Run".   It is fast moving, steady, and just feels like we are on some kind of mission.

I also think of the television series "Alias", as I imagine we have to get into and then back out of a building without being noticed within a certain amount of time.  This song just feels like the clock is ticking and as it goes on, time is definitely running out.  It could almost be like a video game level as well.

But then on the other hand I imagine neon bracelets, giant necklaces and overall just the idea of glowing body paint as this song could feel like it is straight out of a rave.   I'm not sure if raves exist anymore, but I know that EDM dance parties do and this is definitely the type of music I would expect to hear there and see the music lovers moving to.

This song feels a lot like this doot-doo-doo-doot-doo going in a circle, where it's on this loop.  Getting those tones into rhythm in the first place is no easy task- believe me, I've tried- but then I've always felt like once you got them going they're even harder to stop.   So I also really appreciate how much this song just feels like it has a clean stop and everyone should listen until the end for that reason.  

Music Review //
Ken Howard
"“On the Boulevard” Original Cast Concept Album"

So as this title says, this is the soundtrack to a musical and it is the cast performing it as well.  I know musicals are a big deal, but I've never been to see one outside of maybe like a school play that I've forgotten about.  But when something like "Rent" or "Hamilton" was in NYC I knew people who would go see them and I've just never been to something like that.

What's funny though is as much as I don't like when characters start randomly singing during movies or television shows, I do end up watching a lot of movies and shows that do just that.  It's in a lot of my upbringing with Disney movies, but just so many other things that I don't even think about until I watch it over again.

This is definitely catchy, full of melody and the songs can be short but it is what I imagine people who like this kind of thing enjoy.  I know when "Hamilton" became all the rage people were listening to that soundtrack non-stop and so this isn't completely unfamiliar to me but it does have some distance from what I'm used to listening to in my daily music.

The closest I came to ever seeing a musical was wanting to see "The Toxic Avenger" when it was a musical and Bon Jovi did the music for it.  I wish I was making that up, but it was real and I would've loved to see it.  But the idea of people singing and dancing around while telling their story never really appealed to me.   But to listen to this strictly as music is not bad and I recognize the talent it takes.  

Music Review //
Judd Harris
"Take Me Down"

Judd Harris has found the sound of the beach.  Somewhat acoustic, somewhat ska, this just sounds like the type of song you would hear someone playing at a beach party or in Hawaii.  And since it is about the beach, it makes sense that it would have that overall vibe to it.  Sunshine and no worries is the theme here.

At first, this song asks the question "How did we end up living this way" and then goes through a series of choices we've likely taken in our lives and have likely also not made us happy.  And I think that's the idea of this song: it's not that we're not happy, it's that we did what we thought we were supposed to do in life but don't feel like the results match our expectations.

So the answer here is to come live at the beach.  Surround yourself with the water, sunshine, sand, drinks and no cares in the world.  There is a music video for this song as well, which is part real life and part animated and it feels like it really sets the mood.  On one hand, having life animated just feels unreal but it also makes it feel more magical.

Though at the same time, we must recognize that not everyone is made for beach life and as a reality it might not do.  There might be some other reality out there for you which exists that you should be living in instead of binge watching tv, but that might also just be something for you to decide.  

Music Review //
Conor Maynard

Conor Maynard brings up good points after a breakup with the song "Storage" and in that "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" way this also makes me feel like people should be more like computers.   For our brains to act like the hard drive on a computer, there should be a way for memories to be erased the same way a program can be removed from your computer.  Our minds should also be able to defrag, but that's another story.

Anyone who has ever been through a painful breakup knows there are things left behind in your mind as reminders.   It might be something you see when you're back out in the world or it might just be a thought.  A song, perhaps, comes on the radio and you remember that as being their favorite band.   You don't want to hang onto these things, as this song says, "wish I could ignore it", but they just seem to linger.

With only his voice and a piano sound, Conor Maynard takes us through what feels like a painful ballad.  This music video is spent with him sitting in front of his bed, singing the song, and sometimes after a breakup that's all we can do-- we can't be bothered to even leave our bedroom.  But those thoughts, they remain and in time we might forget them but we certainly do wish we could speed up the process.

As we are reminded of computers, there is the line: "I'm out of storage".  I fully believe our brains have a limited capacity to store information, so when you learn something new you forget something older that you might not use a lot.    This song definitely gives the idea that we should be able to pick and choose what information we wish to retain and I'm somewhat surprised it hasn't happened yet because it seems likely everyone has those little tidbits that stick with them they wish didn't.  

Cassette Review //
"Halo Castration Institute"
(Redscroll Records)


If I could use only one word to describe this cassette it would be unrelenting.  From start to finish, Intercourse backs you into a corner, begins throwing punches and doesn't let up until they say so.  This sound isn't a punch to the face though, it's more like a full on onslaught.  Trapped, you can only escape this when the cassette comes to an end and not a second before.

Somewhere between Suicidal Tendencies and Hatebreed, Intercourse travels across the sounds of hardcore, metal and even punk to bring something new, something old and a sound I believe they can truly call their own.   This is loud, this is in your face and this is what modern hardcore/metal music should be like in every aspect because I'm fine listening to it but I think those not familiar with it might be made uncomfortable.

And if you want to talk about your comfort level, let's do just that.   Intercourse has a song on here called "My Own Personal 9/11", which right away might offend some people based upon the title.   This is a political song but it's my kind of politics because it calls out everyone.  Whether you're "conservative" or "liberal", Intercourse cares not and sees right through you.  I think it's time we stop subscribing to the two party system and take this country back.

If you don't want to feel so political (and you really should because these things needed to be said) then you can always go back and forth between lines like: "I'm a bitter fucking loser" and "I'm a taxpayer and a small business owner".   These may or may not be related, but I'm glad I can only relate with one of them.  There is also a similar duality later on, going back and forth between being a god or a monster.

Intercourse also questions which is the true religion and I've always felt like if there was one true religion which made the most sense and was just so solid no one could dispute it, everyone would be like "Oh yeah, that one" and we'd have it.  But we don't.   So maybe the biggest take away here is just to try not to be a piece of shit, but if you are a piece of shit, well, there are definitely worse people out there so just try to do your best.  

Cassette Review //
Dave Scanlon
"Taste Like Labor"
(Whatever's Clever)

When I first listen to "Taste Like Labor" I think about it being somewhat emo and that might also just be because I think of this as sounding like The Lyndsay Diaries.   There is that way where it just keeps like a band such as The Get Up Kids doing a stripped down set, but the more I really listen to this cassette the more I see that just isn't the case.   This might feel like that on the surface but there are layers to this music.

At times, this can be considered folk just because of the way the guitar sounds.  There's melody and that makes me think this could be from the "Juno" soundtrack, for example.  But other songs just sort of drift out in this rather trippy way and that makes it feel like something else entirely.  Would it be wrong to call this experimental folk?  Is there such a thing?  Because you can feel that Frampton influence in here as well.

On the flip side of this we also start with a song which seems to generate one note for every word and it is drawn out slowly.   This just goes to demonstrate how the overall feeling of this cassette can be in terms of the vocals/lyrics because it's not typical in that respect either.   This comes out in a song such as "Collapse" as well, where you can just hear these numbers and it's singing but it's not the way I've heard singing done before.

What I really appreciate about this sound is that it tries to lure you in with this sense of comfort, this sense of you might have heard this before and it's non-threatening.  You expect to hear vocals with a guitar and it should just be as simple as that, but it's not.  Electronics come out and this takes on a sound like noise at times.  This sound feels like the melodies are a gateway sound to something more experimental but we've all got to get there sometime so why not let this be your guide.   

Cassette Review //

The first side of this cassette consists of two different things happening at the same time.  On one hand, there is the music- mostly guitar based- and on the other hand is an audio clip with the music which seems to be someone talking about our emotions and just deep diving into them in a clinical type of way.   Both the music and the words make this feel like it could easily accompany a film.

While the guitar notes are dreamy and ambient, taking up entire rooms with their space, they cross the borders into post rock and by the end come through in just this ringing and even rattling way.   The audio clip discusses anger, largely, and how anger comes from fear.  It also discusses how men are conditioned to not feel emotions, anger leads to grief and boys don't cry.  so that grief gets bottled up and comes out in the wrong ways.  

At first it feels like the louder voice on the flip side is the one doing the talking in a patient way, but it eventually reveals itself to be more like the doctor as well.  Guitars are now joined by pianos on this side to create this ambient waltz.   The audio clip is buried a little bit deeper behind the piano here, so it's not easy to tell what it is about but it does feel like it is about anxiety and not carrying the burdens of others around with you.

The pianos come crashing down like the end of the world, but then return more desolate and the audio can be heard more clearly.  I really like how the music and words reflect upon each other here, as it feels like we all have things we are going through and sometimes just listening to music (or making it) can help us on our journey.  Sometimes, just knowing we're not alone in how we feel is enough to help us get by.  

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Music Review //
Tara MacLean
"Lay Here in the Dark"

"Lay Here in the Dark" is a song about riding out the storm and often times this just feels like something we all need to hear.   Things might reach a low point in your life, but if you just wait it out and make it through it all, then it will get better.   As the old saying goes "Nowhere to go from here but up" or "When it feels like you're going through hell, keep going".

With elements of Alanis Morissette and Snow Patrol, Tara MacLean creates a song which is relaxing and mellow.  If you happen to be going through it, listening to this song might help ease that burden as it certainly feels like an anthem to surviving.   The lines: "And when the ground falls beneath me I'm going to fight / I'm going to hold onto the edge for dear life" feel particularly crucial.  

The title of this song comes through with the end line of: "until it gets light", just making it feel like we're really going to weather the storm.  This music video is in black and white, so the dark parts are really dark and as it goes on it does get brighter.  It does also involve lying in bed, as the title suggests, and by the end you have that feeling of being able to get out of bed and back into the world- back into the light.

One of the things I really love about this song is that it simply states that you're going to be in the dark until it gets light.  Far too often we're hit with these bouts of depression or grief and it means we're out of society.  But you can't ever say that it'll take a day or a week for you to feel better.  It just sort of happens whenever it happens.  I think this song can help stop that stigma of only taking one day off for mental health and realizing it takes however long it takes.  

Music Review //
The 12th MAN
"End Of The World"

At one point or another I feel like we've all thought about the end of the world.  I think we all secretly want it to happen in our lifetime because we don't want to feel like so much is going to go on long after we are gone.   That might be how people have felt throughout time, but then there is also that downside where our art doesn't live on as long.   People won't hear your songs 200 years from now if the world ends in your lifetime.

The 12th MAN brings forth a sound that starts off slow and grows gradually but still feels like a power ballad.   There are these certain notes which ring through like P.O.D. while at other times it just feels like the slower side of Filter.   It's rock, but there are those underlying elements of metal within it and I do enjoy that it seems to be laced with that.

While the song certainly sounds like it could be the soundtrack to the world reaching its end, there is also this accompanying music video which is just fantastic.  Animated through an artsy style, there are many images to see move through here and this just feels like it's going fast.   I used to watch MTV before going to school and I would've loved to see this video every day to pick something new out of it.

The world might not end in our lifetime.  It might take thousands of more years.  Although a meteor could come tomorrow and we could all explode on impact.  In that way, in that uncertainty, I think that the world ending is similar to us personally dying because you never know when it might and so you just need to live it up while you can.  

Music Review //
Wayne Merdinger
"Hidden Gems"

The music of Wayne Merdinger can be described as easy listening or light rock, but it's catchy and so I don't think it is quite fair to put into these genres that aren't always as melodic.  For some reason, throughout this album I also just continue to think about the soundtrack to "The Lion King", so take that for what it's worth.

"American Dream" has big pianos and is about exactly what the title states.  I really enjoy the "Times Are Changing" song on this album- it is my favorite- and on "Don't Even Think It'd Be Alright" there is an almost country/folk tone.   Overall this album just feels mellow though, even as organ tones come in on "Stranger".

Lyrically there are moments on this album that will really make you think.  The song "Lose To Gain" has the lines: "Wherever there is pleasure / there is pain" and if you don't think that is true then you don't understand life because without one how would we know the other?  It's weird how the two have to exist together, but yet they do.  

In many ways though, Wayne Merdinger just feels like someone sitting in a rocking chair on their porch during a hot summer day, telling stories about simpler times.  This album certainly seems to wax nostalgic a bit and they were called "the good old days" for a reason.  If you're too young, you might not get this one now, but one day you will.  

Music Review //
Bad Sneakers
"Tanooki Suit"

The weirdo music of Bad Sneakers reminds me of some cross between Atom and His Package, Ted Leo and They Might Be Giants.   A song such as "Fuck Around" has this groove like "Burning Down The House" and "Live Laugh Lucifer" feels like a flamenco dancing type of song.   This is ironic because the song called "Dance Motherfucker" doesn't really feel like a dance number.  

At times this feels like a jam band but then pianos come out on "Soleism".   "Ave Satanas" is pretty catchy and my favorite song on the album.  During this song, Bad Sneakers sings about "cosplay Christians", which is a real thing because a lot of people go to church or claim to follow The Bible but then do the opposite of what it seems like they are supposed to be doing.  

With the title "Tanooki Suit" I was expecting this to be more like a video game soundtrack but with the references to God this almost feels like it's more religious than about video games.   I realize there are religious based video games but it is perhaps best not to think about that right now or ever.

The idea of this album being called "Tanooki Suit" is also interesting as the Tanooki Suit is a spinoff of the raccoon version of Mario and unlike when Mario has just the tail and ears, this suit can help Mario fly easier and turn to stone to avoid enemies.  I'd really like for Bad Sneakers to do a series of albums based upon various Mario (and Luigi) costumes, such as "Cat Suit", but whether that happens or not will have to be left up to the future.  

Live Music Review //
The City of Meriden / Fred Cracklin / Doom Beach
April 21st, 2023
@ Brown Jug Liquor, Meriden CT

Additional photos can be found in a Facebook album here :::

For the second night in a row there was live music at Brown Jug Liquor and this show packed as much punch as the night before with a three artist lineup.   In terms of artists being diverse but still feeling connected somehow, it didn't get any better than this show as everyone was loud but had their own sound as well.

Doom Beach was up first, a duo from Connecticut consisting of a drummer + guitar/singer.  Since coming out of the pandemic and jumping back into live music late last year, there is only one artist I can think of that I've seen as much as Doom Beach and that's not an accident.  The way they create this sound is just so loud, it feels like there should be an entire army of musicians making this noise.

It is not quite metal and it is not quite hardcore, but it is loud.  The sound of Doom Beach will knock you over like a giant wave in the ocean.   One of my favorite ways to listen to music is incredibly loud and Doom Beach just satisfies that on every level.  But there are also complexities within this sound which just make it all that much more magical.

Fred Cracklin is from right over the border of CT in MA and they are also a duo but have such a unique sound.   At times it feels like it fits in with a hardcore or grindcore show and at other times it just feels like it's spacing out and on the verge of something you might hear from a jam band.   It's that free improv jazz mixed with the math rock and skramz, but altogether in one neat package.

The musical talents of both members of Fred Cracklin are very much on point.  Prior to this show, I was told that Max Goldstein was the best drummer this person had ever seen and I last saw Max Goldstein play with Space Camp and someone standing near me said the same thing.   When every time you see someone they are being hyped up by different people as the best drummer, you have to think it comes with some validation.

I feel like one of the songs that Fred Cracklin played was under a minute- it came and went so quickly- and then another felt like it could've been ten minutes long.   Some of the songs were in between that and the "normal" four minutes or so, but not ever really knowing how long a song would be or the pace really made this set exciting.  This entire set was very technically refined but it was also chaotic within that which just added to the skill.

The City of Meriden headlined this show and they are from Meriden.  They opened with their song about Morrissey, which I've had stuck in my head since I last saw them, and now it makes me wonder how many people will leave this show with that same song stuck in their head for months to come.   It is quite that little earworm that just comes in there and settles down, not always coming back out when you expect it.

A five piece, I last saw The City of Meriden at Willimantic Records as well, where they did more of an acoustic sounding set.   This time they were plugged in and turned up with the keys, guitars, bass and drums out there like some type of psychedelic rock band.   It isn't easy for music to exist in this way and for me to not think of The Doors, but this doesn't really sound like The Doors- the keys just make me think that.

The trick behind this sound is that it's layered and so it doesn't sound like anything I've ever heard before.   It's so complex that you could isolate a small piece of it- such as the keyboard- and think of a specific artist, but when it all comes together and you hear this sound the way it was intended it just takes us into brand new territory.  

Doom Beach can be found on Bandcamp here :::

Fred Cracklin can be found on Bandcamp here :::

The City of Meriden can be found on Instagram here :::

Cassette Review //
"In The Midnight Hour"

Trying to describe the rock sound of Perennial isn't easy because it is not often that you hear a band like this, if ever before.   At times this sound feels post hardcore and at other times it just has that flat out hardcore punk feel to it.   Fast paced, hard-hitting, loud and with group vocals this cassette is certain to get stuck in your head while giving your music listening that shot of adrenaline it likely needs.

Though "In The Midnight Hour" has a titular track, one of my favorite aspects of this cassette is that the theme- that title- appears on other songs during this cassette and I like that continuity.  It makes the cassette feel whole overall, like a connected group of songs and not just ones put in place at random.

Whether it be werewolves or haunted house, Perennial also has a theme among their songs which stretches into horror.  I really wish someone would animate Perennial into an episode of Scooby Doo, as it only seems fitting, and I feel like I've said this before but I stand by it and will likely continue to say it until it happens.

Somewhere out there exists a movie waiting to be made.   It's not quite like "Scream", but it can shake the foundation of horror films to its very core.  This movie will be avante garde and take horror to places the genre has never been before.  And it will be perfectly soundtracked by Perennial, as they have that cutting edge sound about them with haunted undertones.  

Cassette Review //
Human Flourishing
"The Warming Shed"

With sounds like traffic outside of the open window, this cassette has a guitar note sound in it which almost begins to take us into the old west.   Static slips through, but so does this metallic feeling which is like a ringing.   A quiet, lighter tapping and then louder crashes.    The guitar comes through with blissful tones now but that banging into metal sound is still back there.   Somewhere between gunshots and waves crashing at the beach the guitar just takes us away to some place heavenly now.

As it grows more dreamy now, it feels as if we are either underwater or in space.  Either way, this laser sound echoes through and that could easily be from a spaceship but it could also be the sonar used underwater.   Isn't it weird how much space is like being underwater?   Slow, dissolving beeps now as frequencies.   Tones begin to take us into a loop now and it feels as if we're in space, floating out to a point where we can no longer be reached.  It's also a bit trippy.  

Distortion cuts through now and this one has X-Files vibes while also just feeling like it's a classic guitar rock number.   The guitar is just cutting through space and time now, somewhat like how we heard it before only more distorted now which makes it feel more powerful, less relaxed and also just more distant somehow.   This all turns into carnival type electronic sounds now and then into droids.   Then everything just drops off into a sea of distortion.

Ominous tones set the mood on the flip and it feels like some humming is coming through as well, though it might be ghost moans.   The guitar is rattling through its tones while the background sounds definitely feel like we're in a haunted house.   There also exists this weird scraping sound now, which makes this all feel much more like we're having an exorcism.   We drift back into that dreamy Chris Isaak sounding guitar now.

Guitar notes persist through with smaller tones behind them and this all just feels very busy now.   There is a lot going on here- many different layers of sound.   It has taken on more of an ambient spatial tone and feels as if vocals are trying to come through as well, a communique from space perhaps.   Beeps are sent through in echoes.   As the guitar notes grow higher, the sounds behind them resemble a game of squash or something played inside of a small court in the gym.  

The sound begins to echo and I can see the ripple effect, like skipping stones.   Once again it feels as if words are trying to come through all of this, but there is also this mix of that demon trying to be unleashed and those heavenly guitars.   Everything resonates from notes into guitar chords, like something taking that trip in circles around the rim of a bucket before finally finding its way to the bottom to rest comfortably.  

Cassette Review //
Jo Bled
"The Accumulation and The Radiate"
(Histamine Tapes)

One thing I thought about music until I was a bit older was, to me, everything was "drums", but listening to this cassette from Jo Bled shows you the true difference between everything just being "drums" and what percussion is.   This is definitely percussion as it goes from the drums to cymbals, things that shake and other sounds which are found within that family of drums but not the drums themselves.  

Whether the drum is being hit and it makes a lighter sound or deeper bass type sound, there is just something about how all of these sounds are being made from mostly one source.  It's like how someone can go in and just create an entire album of music with a guitar only this is with percussion.   This contains different speeds as well- sometimes it slows up, sometimes it speeds up- and at times it can even feel like it's being played in a loop.

The sound of Jo Bled also makes me think back to when I was younger, much younger than I am today.   As kids, before we really were aware of music like we are now, we'd hear a band like The Beatles and just think of it as music and not pick apart each component to be guitar, bass and drums.  Now, when I listen to this cassette by Jo Bled I feel as if all of these different components which I should be able to pick up- whether it be the tom or snare- they all just come together and form one sound.

Whether it's banging or shaking, this one is always just grooving.  I read on the Bandcamp page (and cassette insert) as well that these songs were both recorded in one take and that makes them feel even more special, like this moment captured in time.  This cassette says a lot about what a percussionist can do, but it also shows how far music has come since we are able to hear something such as this and it generates that sound which just feels so complete.  

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Cassette Review //
Danny Pound
"Old-Light Painting"

This cassette begins with a lot of delicate acoustic guitar notes being played.   These light sounds floating around feel rather dreamy and this just has an overall feeling about it where you could be hanging out in the clouds while listening.   The notes cut into chords and it feels a bit louder at times, not as relaxing, as it could disturb you from your almost nap-like state.

Sometimes this can sound more like acoustic guitars and other times it pushes through those notes into chords.   At one point, there is a song that feels more like a country / Desperado way, as I imagine someone walking around with spurs on their cowboy boots.  The pace can be slow and drawing, but can also speed up to where it feels like we're running.

Truly, this cassette is an example of Danny Pound using an acoustic guitar to its full potential.   While it can seem as if the idea of an acoustic guitar can be enough to create a genre all on its own, people often overlook the sounds which can come from any guitar and put that music into different genres and even cross genres within the songs.  

Throughout this cassette though that sound of the acoustic guitar remains, which brings all of these songs together as one.  You can put this on at almost any time and either feel calm or like you have to get things done.   At times this can sound like the acoustic guitar part that is about to take us into some grunge era song, but never does it feel as if it is lacking anything as this sound is definitely big enough to stand on its own.