Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Baseball Review //
Record-Journal Expos, 13
Bristol Greeners, 3
May 30th, 2023
at Muzzy Field, Bristol CT

Official Box Score :::

Additional photos can be found here :::

The second game of the season for the Record-Journal Expos saw them at Muzzy Field taking on the Bristol Greeners.   Looking at the scoreboard, this might look like it was a game about dominance and sending a message to the other team, but in reality, as I'd find out during the game, this was about poor sportsmanship and just not knowing the rules.   The idea of "sour grapes" very much came into my mind during this game.

Right away, the first pitch in this game- the first ball thrown by the Greeners pitcher- was a HBP to Sebby Grignano, so you could see right away that the Greeners were off to a great start.   Sebby Grignano would steal second base, advance to third on a wild pitch and then a sacrifice by AJ Hendrickson would bring him home, putting the Expos up 1-0 right away.   This was, in many ways, the story of the game.  HBP, wild pitch, etc that would all assist the Expos in scoring.  

The only inning in which the Expos didn't score was the seventh and by then it felt like they were just ready for it to be over.   Charlie Hesseltine was on the mound for the Expos and he pitched three shutout innings with the Greeners getting into scoring position a couple of times but never making anything of it.   Just when it looked like the Greeners had a runner on third who might score, a strikeout would end the inning.  It was that type of game.

In the second inning, Javon Malone scored on a sac fly and then a poor throw to first base brought in two more runs, putting the Expos up 4-0.  During these first few innings, the Greeners had missed a few attempts at stealing just by being bad at throwing.   There was more than one occasion when an Expos runner was stealing from first to second and should've been run down but instead poor fundies really got the Greeners into trouble.

The Greeners might have also had more HBPs than runs scored during this game.  I wouldn't want to do the box score because many of the Expos runs were earned but many would be unearned.  An RBI in the third inning made it 5-0 and then another run would come in on a sac fly.    The top of fourth would see back to back walks- about ten pitches since a strike was thrown- to load the bases.   Jeff Massicotte would score on a wild pitch, putting the game at 7-0 in the top of the fourth and then a walk would load the bases again.  

Now this is when things got heated.   It was the top of the fourth inning, bases loaded and the Greeners just had a pitching change to put things into context.  Max Giacco was on third base for the Expos.   As the Greeners' catcher threw the ball back to the pitcher, it went by the pitcher, who then would go near second base to get it.  This was a whole thing where it felt like at least Greeners players were standing there, moving in slow motion and simply not picking up a ball right at their feet.

So Max Giacco did what any smart baseball player would do and ran from third base to home.   The frustration of the Greeners came pouring out, as their catcher asked Giacco as he was crossing home plate: "It's a fucking seven nothing ball game- what are you doing??"  First off, the obvious answer is that Max Giacco was scoring runs, something that the Greeners were failing at doing.   Secondly, it was the fourth inning which meant it was still early in the game.  Though not likely (and it didn't happen) I have seen teams come back from ten run deficits in the last innings and win the game.  I've even seen it happen at Muzzy!

I put a lot of thought into this to where I nearly consulted with players, coaches, etc to see if this was some kind of unspoken rule and if a faux pas of sorts was committed.   But the more it settled in and the more I thought about it, I remembered the rules of GHTBL and I came to the conclusion without a doubt that Max Giacco was in the right and the Greeners should not be saying such things because there is, after all, no crying in baseball.

If you happen to look at the GHTBL 2023 Regular Season Standings, you'll notice that some of the teams have the same record.  As I type this, both the Rainbow Graphics and Record-Journal Expos sit atop the standings with 2 wins and 0 losses.   Now, one might ask why the Graphics are above the Expos when they have the same record and the answer is simply that if you look at "RS" (runs scored) the Graphics have 19 and the Expos have 17.  So, scoring runs in the grand scheme of things for the standings does in fact matter but I do not expect a team that has never been above .500 to be familiar with all of that.

After all of that, the Expos returned in the fifth inning and Jeff Massicotte blasted a two run homer over the right field wall.  I'm not sure how many home runs I've seen hit at Muzzy, but it's not a lot and now Massicotte joins the likes of Babe Ruth as being players who have hit out of the park there.  [Side Note: On our way back to the car, we looked for the homerun ball and found it, so if anyone is wondering, we have that now]

The sixth inning saw Sebby Grigano hit a huge double with the bases loaded, driving in three more runs and putting the Expos at thirteen runs in total for the game.  In somewhat of a poetic fashion, Max Giacco also came in to finish this game as a pitcher so the Greeners had to once again taste their own feet as they also ended up once again tasting defeat.  

Music Review //
"For Love"

As soon as this song begins I know it's going to get heavy.  Back in the early 2000's, there was this point where it felt like less of the heavy music was coming out because most artists seemed to have the singing with backing vocals that were screaming and that took over as the "heavy music" for a while.  But as the true metal/hardcore bands have persisted, they have also taken the forefront back and Pyrotechnica is no exception to that.

This song doesn't really have screaming as much as it does big singing, which actually makes it sound closer to Paramore or Coheed and Cambria than it does to screamo, even though the music has a screamo mentality.   It's complex and heavy with melodies laced in, which reminds me of both Eyes Set To Kill and Thrice, though depending upon when you discovered and fell in love with heavy music your influences might differ.

The music video is largely the band playing and that gives you the idea of what it might be like to see them in concert as well.  I like it because they just have that same energy which the song itself has, so the two coming together just feels right.   It doesn't have the crowd in a live sense, but at the same time I feel like that could be distracting from all else going on during this video.

Pyrotechnica has found new ground here, between hardcore, metal and emo as the chorus sings: "I wear my heart on my sleeve for love", which makes me definitely think this could be screamo if there was more screaming.   The way that it takes the sound of melodic rock, perhaps some prog and even post metal and just cranks it up a notch is what will have you singing along with this one in no time.  

Music Review //
King Falcon
"Ready Set Go"

To have a song called "Ready Set Go" is to embrace a certain amount of energy that King Falcon has definitely found within this song.    With those sounds of rock n roll, King Falcon seemingly has no patience as they are ready to go and they are ready to go now.   This is a great song to start a playlist or any part of your day when you feel you need that boost of energy because it's just like when they fire that gun to start a race.

This music video follows the band around as they do things in fast motion.   It's just one of those visuals which is not only a lot going on in one time but it is fast moving.  So often in this world we have places to be at certain times and everything feels so stretched thin as we go go go, and this video is a representation of that in the best possible way.   Sometimes we just need that energy to sprint instead of relaxing.

One part during this music video which always gets me is when the band is trying to cross the street, they must wait for the signal to turn from the hand to the little man.  As someone who walks places and even in a sense of driving when waiting at a red light, I think we've all felt this impatience.   I was at a red light no more than two days ago for what felt like forever and I said out loud "Who is going? Why can't I?"

Sometimes life can get in your way.   Sometimes it can feel like obstacles are slowing you down when you need to go, and you have no control over that.   But as long as you're able, as long as you can move at the speed you'd like to move at, then you really should do so.  And between the sound of this song, the lyrics and the music video I think that is the message here.   Just keep going.  

Live Music Review //
Lys Guillorn, Mercy Choir, Derek Piotr, Craig Musa
May 26th, 2023
at Never Ending Books, New Haven CT

Additional photos can be found here :::

Summer is fast approaching and I was a little bit nervous about this show having a lot of people inside in the heat but as the night went on it cooled down outside and I never really quite felt as sweaty during this show as I thought that I would.  There was a good turn out as it seems like FiFac's House is growing every month and it just has become one of those must see shows at Never Ending Books.

Going into this show, it was Jess' first time at FiFac's House and when she asked me what to expect I told her it would be along the lines of electronic noise because that what they've usually been.  But looking back at the names later and after we got there I kind of realized this was more of a folk/singer-songwriter type of theme as every set would be one person with one instrument, such as someone would just play with an acoustic guitar for example.

One of the beautiful things about this show was that even though everyone had that "one person with an instrument" form of a singer-songwriter, they all had different instruments and some would sing, some would not and it just tied everyone together while also keeping them unique.  If you didn't remember the name of an artist, it'd be easy enough to describe a characteristic which separated them from the others.

Craig Musa was up first and that was a name that I had seen a lot of inside of the Connecticut music scene but hadn't seen perform live until now.   Craig Musa had an electric guitar plugged in and sang along to songs which were fairly loud.  The songs themselves were quite fun as they ranged from being a cover of a cover of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" to a song about racoons and Frank Reynolds as The Trashman.  

As someone who enjoys both trash pandas and IASIP, the lyrics and theme to this entire set of songs was appealing to me because it also wasn't just listening to someone sing songs about the traditional subjects most people have likely heard many times before.  This made both the lyrics and music of Craig Musa so unique and special.   I also must note how well Craig Musa covering "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" lead us into Derek Piotr, who was up second and sang folk songs. 

Many people might only know the song "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" from the Nirvana Unplugged album, but it is a traditional American folk song which can also be called "In the Pines" or "My Girl" and it just has this rich history of origin as well as artists who have covered it over the years.  Derek Pitor got up there and sang with no microphone, no other instruments, just a voice and a song.    

These were old folk songs and they had history behind them as well, with Derek Piotr telling us the stories in between.   Some of them were more serious and even sad, while others were about frogs and could be funny.  The idea of these songs being sung without any accompaniment was enough to hook me because it really made you focus on what was being said more than anything else.  But at the same time, hearing them and the stories in between felt like something from a library or museum.   It really felt like a history lesson that I enjoyed and I usually don't enjoy history.

Mercy Choir was up third and this was a voice + acoustic guitar, which was unique to this show, and it also just came out in a somewhat blues style more than anything else.   Somewhere between Joe Strummer and Johnny Cash, Mercy Choir just had that soul that you expect to hear in the blues but also music should just convey these feelings anyway but with Mercy Choir it felt like it was more on the surface.

And comparatively on this show, Craig Musa had more of a Ted Leo vibe where as Mercy Choir felt more blues influenced which just made it easy enough for the two artists singing with guitars to be distinguished from one another.   But hearing that soul in the folk songs by Derek Piotr prior to this also helped, as I felt like that was something from the south, and then it made the sound of Mercy Choir more like something you'd hear in New Orleans.  

Lys Guillorn headlined this show and did so with a lap steel guitar.  This added another different element to the show and while sometimes singing there was also a lot of music behind this set.   When you see the lap steel I think you might have that idea in your mind already of country or bluegrass, but this just also helped to make every artist feel like they were bringing something different to the stage while keeping all of the sounds adjacent to one another.

The show itself and the set of Lys Guillorn ended with a duo by having Jeff Dragan on stage performing electronics along with the lap steel.   This was a rather spatial sound that also became hypnotic at times where it could just leave you in a trance.   This just felt like such a wonderful note to end things on and in many ways it just also felt like in terms of sound that everything was coming full circle.  

Craig Musa can be found on SoundCloud here :::

Derek Piotr can be found on Bandcamp here :::

Mercy Choir can be found on Bandcamp here :::

Lys Guillorn can be found on Bandcamp here :::

Friday, May 26, 2023

Cassette Review //
Baron Von Elsa
"poems, noise, songs, etm."

This cassette begins with the noise side which has a lot of electric guitars.   At one point I feel like I'm hearing crying and at another there is beeping which feels like Morse code.  There is whispering and there is singing, at one point you'll even hear "be my baby", but the vocals don't always come out in a straight forward way but are rather chopped up and backwards or just in some manipulated form.

While this first saw can have the contrast between the pretty guitar parts (acoustic strums and notes) it can also have this distortion that is harsh.  This makes me think of the beauty within the chaos for sure.   But then on the flip side we have more of these acoustic guitar notes with spoken words as poetry.   The second side feels more stripped down, more personal, as sometimes it even can just feel like Baron Von Elsa is telling us a story.

The first side is definitely the louder side as the second has some sense of songs with an acoustic guitar and singing but a lot of it is spoken word with only the vocals.   This cassette also comes with a zine which goes with the poetry from within here and I think that's something you don't really see a lot of but it puts a stronger emphasis on the words themselves, which is important.  

I also purchased this cassette at a show, so outside of attending a live performance I'm not sure how one would go about listening to this cassette.   As of this writing it is also not streaming anywhere though there is a new Baron Von Elsa Bandcamp Page that you should definitely check out.  You might have to do a little bit of work for this cassette (maybe send a message on Instagram) but that extra mile you go for it will definitely be worth it in the end.  

Cassette Review //
(Poser Electronics)

This cassette begins with harsh noise droning but then gets quiet like crickets.  There is definitely this feeling of electronic insects in here and then it goes back into the harsh static sounds.  Transforming synths bring about windy electronics and this is complex in its nature but feels more simple in its delivery where you can hear one solid sound and identify it (even if it is as "electronic insects") but then it just feels like a lot is going into making this sound this way.

Big distorted beats begin the flip side.  Deep organ tones slowly lull behind the static and that does allow it to feel somewhat haunted.   Thinking about this artist with October in their name makes you think of relating it with both Autumn and Halloween.  As haunted as it sounds it can also feel desolate.  I don't really want to use this comparison, but this sound makes me think of "The Blair Witch Project" just because I imagine being alone in the woods, in the dark and knowing something is out there coming for you.

Right before this ends there is this one electric line that comes through really hard and I just imagine someone in those dark woods where you can't see anything around you and then *whoosh* you're gone.   Whatever it is that you're running from during this cassette, by the end it will catch up to you.   So you better use your time wisely because before you know it, your time is up.  

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Cassette Review //

We open with an audio clip about taking vitamins and drinking milk.   This conversation continues as guitar notes come in and take over the forefront.   These notes wind through, up and down, back and forth, until the voices fade and then so does the guitar.  A more magical sound come through next but it is then met by that distortion which reminds me of lightsabers.  It almost feels as if there are words being spoken in the background, as to me it sounds like zombies saying "brains".

Words come through now, with this darkness cast over the entire sound, and the words are jumbled up like they're being played backwards.   That magical part to this is still there, and remains until the end, but what happens to it during the rest of the song is a bit darker.   A more high pitched sound now, somewhat making it feel like voices comes through in notes.  This takes us into a sound now which feels like an old record player accompanied by piano keys.   Up and down the scales, this feels like a squeaky wheel and then the distortion kicks in.  

On the flip side we open with this feeling of being in an independent film, as the sound cuts through and it just feels like we're watching old footage on a projector.   Through these whirrs we're moving around a lot, but there also reminds that sound like film.   It's getting wavy now, back and forth, and then it just comes through electric.   Guitar notes cut through next in high pitched tones.   It feels like they're singing but it also feels like windup toys breaking.   There is this poking sound but then it also just whooshes through the air.

Deeper tones come through now as the bass in this sound just makes this song feel menacing.   This gets electric and then carries that electricity as we move into a sound which is part horror movie and part insects coming to take over.  Sharper notes pierce through as it feels like we could be getting stabbed in that horror movie.  Everything is raining down now, like a storm.   That distorted electricity is here as well and it all makes for quite the show, as it feels like we're in the center of it all.  

Cassette Review //
Trance Macabre
"Blind John Deere"


This cassette opens with a loud harshness which turns into the deep bass as the drums come crashing through as well.   The bass goes back and forth as the percussion carries on.  There are other sound elements in here to make this feel like jazz or some sort of similar genre of music, but it just keeps moving.  I feel as if the drums are really driving it to do that.  But then it slows down and nearly comes to a stop.

Perfectly in sync this sound switches to something rather upbeat.   It reminds me of an old time cartoon where a character might just be walking around having a good old time.   The way that this all just shifted gears at once is such an example of musicians being on the same page and when they can come together like this it's magical.   Plus this portion of this song just makes me feel so happy.  I feel like I'm walking in a cartoon and bad things are happening behind me (like a piano falls and nearly hits me) but I'm just oblivious to it and smiling.

At this point, the song really breaks down to where you can hear the horns and it just feels like such a thrilling jazz number.  I feel like the pace is really picking up here as well and it's just creating something so moving that you'd have no choice but to feel it.   It dips down a little bit slower, but comes back and you can really feel like you're in this film noir black and white world.   I can tell it has all come to an end on Side A when I hear "thank you".

Steady beats and notes in succession start the second side.    There is a driving quality to this and it starts off smaller but then kicks in much louder.   This definitely feels like a carnival ride, and as it comes to a quiet part you can hear people clapping and cheering.  But the bass line leads it back in and then it all grows loud again, climbs up and then drops off back down.   Everyone is taking their turns showcasing their sound individually.

The percussion guides the blaring horns now.   Then everything comes together to find its groove.   It continues down this path which can feel hypnotic before it all slows down and stretches out.  The strings can only be heard now as the percussion is also fading.   It felt like it was ending, like the sounds were all leaving one by one, but they're back now and they're all working together to create something rather loud.   It does manage to find that grand finale though, as it all comes to an end.

Cassette Review //
Abbie Hoffman
"Sings On His Friends: Wake Up America"

Perhaps the true power of music and a cassette for that matter is seeing it somewhere for sale, not buying it and then going back and seeing it again and buying it.   I first saw this cassette at Willimantic Records but I didn't buy it right away.   I went home, thinking about it, and even looked it up online.  All I can really find online about this is this Discogs page.  This made me somehow more intrigued.  

The next time I went back to Willimantic Records I looked through the cassettes and knew as soon as I saw it that this time I was buying it.  It just had been stuck in my head.  I'm not sure what I expected out of this cassette, but the way it stuck with me was enough for me to take it home and give it a listen.

Around the same time that I saw this cassette I had been to a book store up in MA and purchased an Abbie Hoffman book, which you don't see too much of in the wild any more.  So I felt like this connection where I had just started reading an Abbie Hoffman book and now to find this cassette meant it was destined to be.   Through audio clips and some songs, this cassette captures that spirit of Abbie Hoffman.  

At one point, Hoffman explains how you can't describe a pear to someone who's never eaten a pear before and it's the same way that someone who isn't used to revolution can't understand why you would want to.  I think that still holds true to this day- how a lot of people don't want to rebel because they just never have and so it doesn't seem appealing to them.  People won't put signs of protest on their lawns because of what the HOA might think.

This cassette is a good reminder of what life was like back in the 1970's, but also it stands to hold truth to this day.  Does this mean Abbie Hoffman was ahead of his time or are we really just stuck in our old ways?  I think it's a bit of both, but I encourage all who are interested to track down and find out as much as possible about Abbie Hoffman because you won't be disappointed unless you're part of the problem.  

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Baseball Review //
Record-Journal Expos, 4
South Windsor Phillies, 1
May 23rd, 2023
Rotary Field, South Windsor CT

Official Box Score :::

Additional photos :::

Opening Day 2023 kicked off for the GHTBL in South Windsor, CT as the Phillies hosted the Record-Journal Expos.   This feels like the unofficial start of summer, though school is not out yet for a few weeks, but it it also the first game of the season for both of these teams.   On one hand, you want to think of this as the first game and as such things are still being worked out and maybe certain players haven't made it to the league yet.   But then at the same time I think it is also important to get a win here to set the tone for the rest of the season.

The Expos made some moves in the off season, promoting AJ Hendrickson to manager while also keeping Charlie Hesseltine on as a pitcher.  New names Ommy Velez and Max Giacco joined the roster and made an impact in this game, while Brandon Hernandez returned to the Expos as well.  

This game saw Javon Malone, Sebby Grignano, Jeff Massicotte and Will Kszywanos return, who are all in their own way the heart of this team.  The offense seems to be locked down in the way that fresh blood has been brought in, but it seems like the Expos have always struggled with pitching because they relied heavily on Hendrickson and Hesseltine.   That doesn't seem to be the case this season and the rest of the league is going to need to be on their toes.

Tuesday night's game was pitched in full by JD Tyler, who made his GHTBL debut, gave up only one run and struck out six.  Adding someone not only with the pitching skills of JD Tyler but also the offense and overall just being a team leader is something every team needs.  Tyler brings that veteran experience and leadership that a lot of these new, younger players are going to need and it should all just fit together so well.

The Phillies struck first in this game, with a sac fly to right field to score the first run of the season.   But after Javon Malone stole second base in the top of the fourth inning, a sac fly to center field sent him to third base.  JD Tyler then laid down a perfect bunt to not only bring Malone home to tie the game, but everyone was safe.

The Expos offense opened up in the fifth, where they put up three runs and that was where the game would stay with scoring.  It felt like, at that point, it was a hole that the Phillies couldn't dig themselves out from.  Though there were innings when the Phillies threatened, JD Tyler and the Expos got out of it.   At times it might have felt like the Phillies could've scored a run at most, but it didn't feel like they were going to get three.

With only one out left in the game, the Phillies met their end in a somewhat foolish run down that made little sense.  It was one of those plays where the runner was trapped between second and third base, probably saw a way out of it but the defense was all over him so there was no easy way out.   One of those early season things the team needs to work on perhaps.

In the other Opening Day game, the Rainbow Graphics put up an impressive nine runs over the Vernon Orioles, which might be considered an upset.  The four other GHTBL teams have yet to start their season, though that will happen on Thursday except for M&T Bank who will continue to wait.   

Perhaps the biggest move in the off season for the entire GHTBL was the loss of the Hartford Colts and Wallingford Cardinals but then they sort of merged some of the players who wanted to still play (while others went to different teams in the leagues) to form the Middletown Mets.   The Middletown Mets make their GHTBL debut on Thursday right back in South Windsor against the Phillies.  

Cassette Review //
Dave Otto
"Deep Clean"
(Sludge People)

One of my favorite things about music is that while it can have a certain sound to it, if done right an artist can take a sound and make it all their own.   This is not something that people within music like to hear (record labels, publicists, etc) because it makes their job more difficult when they'd rather just be able to pitch artists like "He's the next Michael Jackson" or whoever, someone universally known.

Throughout this cassette, Dave Otto creates a sound which reminds me of The Benjamins and in that broad sense of the comparison you could liken this to the Flaming Lips.   But saying something as vague as that doesn't really help and while this is trippy, it takes on a style all its own so there isn't really that big comparison to make with it.   It's not about the other artists, but it's about the vibe it gives off.

On "Black Skies" there are pianos and it sounds a little bit like the blues and a little bit like Elliott Smith.   The flip side of this starts off sounding like the Pixies and then we get into more of a rocking sound on "Feels".   A little bit more electronic on "Townz" and then it ends with a grand instrumental number.   This just goes to show how this cassette can shift its focus in sound but still be within that same realm throughout.

And the best thing about music and all of this, is this is just what I'm hearing.  Someone else may not hear parts as Elliott Smith but pick a different artist they're more familiar with.  It's that- that act of being relative- that makes this music special because Dave Otto has taken what is close to him, mixed it all together and come up with something special.  Artists often tend to try and do that but have it come out sounding closer to the actual sound than the vibe.  Dave Otto capturing the vibes is truly special.  

Cassette Review //
privacy issues
"privacy issues"

Privacy Issues is a duo that consists of drums and guitar with both singing at times.   Their sound is somewhere between punk and rock, with noisy rock being a good way to describe it at times, though at other times it can feel like pop.   Songs like "Privacy Issues" can make you feel like you're being hypnotized because they have this repetitive loop that gets stuck in my head.  But that catchy part is also what makes this feel like pop music on some level as well.

"Managed World" is a faster song, so there are those punk elements right there, but these songs are generally two and a half minutes or less, which makes them feel like punk also.  The other thing about these songs is that they tend to have a line or two in them which is like the hook, and that can be what gets stuck in your head for when you listen to the songs again later and sing along.  "Quiet Room" does this with "I am always on my own / but never get to be alone".

The sound itself is quite unique because of the way these two musicians interact with one another.  Sometimes it feels like the guitar is just playing these notes back and forth, and other times it feels like other instruments are coming through.   So there is definitely something there that can be appreciated musically but with the lyrics all containing these mantras to get stuck inside your head so you really think about them, this is certainly groundbreaking music.