Monday, July 31, 2023

Music Review // The Splatter Pattern "While We Were Making Plans"

Right from the start you get a feel for how The Splatter Pattern will sound on "While We Were Making Plans".    There is a definite driving force of rock music, but it's a little bit like prog rock and can also lean towards the classic rock side as well.   There is a touch of modern to this sound though, so when you're listening to it you can feel like you're being taken back in time but its still grounded in the present.

Everything in these songs lyrically seems to stem from the idea of the title, "While We Were Making Plans", which is a reference to what went on during the pandemic.  So many people had plans- vacations, tours, weddings, etc- that were affected by a global shutdown.  Traveling is just getting back to what it used to be slowly, but it had certainly been a while since we could do those things which we had planned on doing.

Musically, this album reminds me most of The Who.  I can just hear it in the guitar work but also in the overall sound.   To some extent, this feels like it might be the type of album The Who would've made if they formed in the last few years instead of all those decades ago.   At the same time, this feels like it could be The Who plus some other influence which is more modern.   I'm not quite sure who that modern influence would be, but Blue October is in here at times.

The song "GIANTS" also has this way about it where it just sounds like it's in its own style overall but every once in a while it'll switch back to this dreamy, trippy type of guitar riff which makes me think of 311.    To think about what influences I hear within this album and how they're related but also might not play shows together, it shows the ways The Splatter Pattern can sound different at times but come together and form a united sound all their own.  

Baseball Review // Bristol Greeners, Record-Journal Expos, // Rainbow Graphics, 2 Record-Journal Expos, 0 July 28th, 2023 at Ceppa Field, Meriden CT (GHTBL)

Additional photos can be found here :::

Official box scores :::

Everything that has happened since the games at Dunkin Donuts Park has felt like a blur.  The games I was trying to go to after that were mostly rained out, from that Friday up until the following Friday (July 14th-21st) there was a lot of rain.   We went on the 21st to Ceppa, as the day had predicted rain but seemed sunny, and sat in our car at 6:10pm as the rain came down a little bit, then heavier, then the thunder came and then the game was called.  

Then this past week there was an incident at McKenna Field which had me leaving after two innings or so and then everything after that was just rained out, including us once again on the drive only this time to Manchester.  It was nice enough in Meriden but as we got towards Hartford it got dark and the rain came.  As we got closer to Manchester, the rain came down even harder and we saw the lightning.  I knew there wasn't going to be a game by the time we got onto 84, but that has been the story of these past few weeks.

One of the last times I feel like I actually saw a full Expos game was at Dunkin Donuts Park and that game went down in similar style as the first game in this doubleheader against the Bristol Greeners.   I didn't write about that game and I'm hesitant to say much about this game because every time I want to write about the Greeners it just feels like I'm bullying them, even if it's just stating the facts.   The Greeners, who will likely end this season with only one win, just feel like that team that has that carrot of hope dangled in front of them on a string only for it to be quickly snatched away each and every time.

If nothing else, I think the Bristol Greeners should be appreciated for being able to lose in spectacular fashion.   This game, for example, started with a throwing error by the Expos catcher in the second inning which cleared the bases and put the Greeners up 2-0 early on.   In the fourth inning, AJ Lorenzetti got on base with a single and then Matt Fusco hit a beautiful double.  A sac fly to right field by Trevor Mays would bring in Lorenzetti and then on a wild pitch Matt Fusco would score as well, putting the Greeners in a comfortable 4-0 lead.  

The bottom of the fifth inning saw Lou Delgado robbed of a double (these umps have got to get it together) and then Brandon Hernandez walked on.   Hernandez stole second and then both Jon Remillard and Javon Malone were walked to load the bases.  Jason Sullivan hit a huge double to dead center and cleared the bases to make it a 4-3 ball game.  Mike Gulino would follow up with a huge double of his own to right field to score Sullivan and just like that, in five innings, the game was tied 4-4.

I felt like the double by Jason Sullivan went off the scoreboard- I thought I heard it hit the scoreboard because I was watching because that ball looked like it was long gone, but that should've been ruled a homerun then, right?  Regardless, it wouldn't be the first time we were robbed of a grandslam at Ceppa this year, so it is what it is.

The sixth inning began with a leadoff double by Will Kszywanos.  Luis Delgado walked on and a bunt by Brandon Hernandez loaded the bases.   Now this is something that if I told this to someone about any other game and any other team they wouldn't believe me, but when you're talking about the Greeners it isn't even questioned: Jon Remillard was hit by pitch to put the Expos up 5-4.   

How in all of the teams-that-play-against-the-Harlem-Globetrotters do you give up the winning run on a HBP??  But, for the Greeners, this just seems normal.  And, again, I feel bad about typing this.   But it's not mean spirited it's just a statement of fact.  And I also am kind of impressed in the ways which the Greeners can find to lose a game, especially with two innings left and being up 4-0.

Javon Malone singled in another run and then Jason Sullivan would sac fly in the final run for the 7-4 ball game.  One thing I haven't mentioned yet but I wanted it to carry over into both games is the pitching of Brendan O'Connell and the closing by Max Giacco.   During these two games we saw some great pitching by three different Expos pitchers.   You have to think that on top of that, the Expos have at least two other solid pitchers and so when the playoffs come later on this week, that will definitely be an asset and what could have them going farther than they did in years past.

The story of the second game was fairly simple as it was a pitcher's duel.  In the second inning, a deep shot to center field by Dan Steiner drove in one run and a deep to left/center field in the second by Tyler Repoli brought in the second and only other run of the game.   John Griffin just pitched a gem of a game, but Charlie Hesseltine also pitched really well.   Giving up two runs shouldn't be the end of the world but I think the fatigue of the previous game coupled with the pitching of Griffin was just too much for the Expos to overcome.

This was a unique doubleheader because it was against different teams.  When the playoffs come, the Expos will be able to take it one game at a time and not have to worry about playing a second game right after- there will be a longer rest period.  If they can deliver the offense like they did in the first game coupled with the pitching from both games then they might become unstoppable.  

But I also have to admit that I've been very impressed with Rainbow Graphics this season.  They've always been a bottom of the standings team- for as long as I've been watching the GHTBL- and to see them on the top of the standings now is just fun.   They just have this way of connecting to produce hits but more so they manage to hit the ball wherever the defense isn't.   You can't really plan for something like that.  There's no way to defend against it.  So, I hope the Rainbow Graphics continue to play the way they have all season as they could be a threat in the playoffs as well.

Before the playoffs start on Friday though, there are still a number of make up games to be played.   Over the weekend the Orioles lost to the Jets twice which pushed the Orioles (who were on a huge winning streak) down to second place.   The Graphics are in third with the Expos in fourth, the Jets in fifth and the Expos will play a double header tonight against the first place M&T Bank.  Though, for the record, the Expos are 13-7 while M&T is 13-6 so none of these teams are that far apart in terms of their wins and losses.  It's going to be an interesting and hopefully exciting end of the season in these next few days and I'm ready for it.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Music Review // Gregory Hutchinson (feat. Liselotte Ă–stblom) "New Dawn"

The sound of Gregory Hutchinson feels like something straight out of the 1990's and this song feels like one I would've had on cassingle at that time.  From elements of Salt N Pepa to TLC to Mary J. Blige, there is just that certain sound of R&B, a little bit of hip hop and a lot of soul.  This is the type of music I grew up with and I just don't feel like as many artists are still creating it as much in the present tense.

With this sound and the song being called "New Dawn" I feel like it has that overall vibe of "everything old is new again".   Maybe this type of music never really went away, but I'd love to see artists make music like this more, bringing back the style of PM Dawn and Arrested Development.  It's just that type of sound I don't hear a lot and don't reference a lot but have a wall full of cassettes with it on it and I'd like to hear more of it.

This song, as seems to be the theme for Gregory Hutchinson, is about rebirth.  It's about starting over.  People always look at video games and wonder why we can't hit the reset button in real life.   Guess what?  You can!  Cut all your hair off, grow a beard if you don't have one, change your name, move to a different country.  Life is yours for the taking and no one has to live with the choices you make at the end of the day except for you.

If you've ever felt like you were in the background of your own life, a supporting cast member if you will, just remember that this life is yours and as the song says you should live it your way.  You are the main character in your story.   This song serves as a great reminder of that and hopefully it will become the theme song for many people, sparking a movement in both music and lifestyle changes.  

Music Review // ZZ Ward "On One"

If you listen to enough music for a long enough time, it will take a lot to surprise you but this sound of ZZ Ward has caught me off guard.   On one hand, "On One" sounds like this big anthem of a song but in a rock way.   It's that type of power rock you hear on the radio that takes over mainstream and just makes you want to get up and move.   It's that type of rock that's full of pop but in the best possible way.

This might not seem like a big deal, but trust me this rock sound of ZZ Ward is a big deal, but then on top of that you have this sound of the singing which can come out a lot of times almost like rapping.   This aspect of the song really reminds me of someone like Nicki Minaj and if you think of the radio rock as being like AJR, those are just two types of artists I never thought I'd put into the same sentence, into the same sound.

And the thing about this all too is that ZZ Ward isn't going into this song trying to make a rock/hip hop style anthem.   This just seems to be the sound that comes naturally to ZZ Ward rather than thinking of it as trying to copy any other artist.  It makes this new sound, which in itself is refreshing, but the way it also just brings this energy, this electricity makes it even more appealing.  

I also really enjoy the fact that this song is called "On One" and it's about exactly what the title says.   If you don't quite understand what it means to be "On One", then listen to this song and you'll quickly understand the entire mood.   But if you do know and you feel like you are about to be on one, then this is the perfect song for you to have coming out of your speakers while you do what you've got to do.  

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Music Review // Summer Houses "Frantic Hearts"

Almost instantly I fell in love with the sound of Summer Houses because it takes me back to a specific time in the 1990's when a young me was discovering new types of rock music for the first time.  I feel like everyone kind of has those bands from the 1990's- around the time of grunge- that they really love and feel like other people just never quite heard of.  To that end, I feel like people are out there still searching for bands from that time frame that they've never heard before but will end up liking.

While I'm still open to listening to music I haven't yet heard from the past, I don't think such a mystery band exists but Summer Houses does manage to capture that sound fairly well.  There are bands like 1000 Mona Lisas and Dandelion who I absolutely love but don't feel get enough credit and Summer Houses would fit in so well with them, even though "Frantic Hearts" is here some thirty years after them.

At times this can remind me of Silverchair (who I also feel are vastly underrated) as well as The Mr T Experience.  It's that just that raw guitar sound that rocks through the entire album which makes it special.   It reminds me of artists like Dinosaur Jr and Mudhoney, who were maybe not as popular back then but are more so now.  Even on "Winners Circle" I can hear a bit of Puddle of Mudd, just to put this into a full rock perspective.  

"Sunny Disposition" has a faster pace like Cloud Nothings while "By Nightfall" closes out this album and just has that metal feeling of Metallica.  Listening to this a few times over can have you singing along.  Had I heard this album in the mid to late 1990's, I would've definitely been listening to it.   But since it didn't come out until now, I will still be listening to it now because when you can play a form of rock such as this as Summer Houses does it cannot be ignored.  

Music Review // Eric H.F. Law "RECREATE"

Listen on Spotify here.

The music of Eric H.F. Law is interesting because it begins with this acoustic feeling, like Jack Johnson, but then gets percussion and other sounds added as it goes on.  The general feeling on this album overall though is a positive one as the music is upbeat and uplifting.  It's not quite rock and it's not quite pop, but the way it falls somewhere in between just makes this so enjoyable to listen to because it doesn't have any ways that can upset anyone.

One thing which has always struck me in music is how there is an entire genre of music dedicated to "worship".  You know what that means because it's the type of music you listen to if you go to church a lot.   And it's funny to me that it's an entire genre when it should be more about the message of the music.  Still, for both of these reasons I feel like Eric H.F. Law could fall under that category of worship even if "RECREATE" isn't that religious.

Granted, on the song "Uneasy Glory" there is mention of Kane and Abel, but it's not like this entire album is a Sunday sermon.   They're just used to drive home the point of whether or not we are our brothers keeper, which is something I think we all struggle with because we want so badly to help others but can only take them so far ourselves and the rest is up to them.  

"Who Tells Us" has this drive like 10,000 Maniacs while "Hands on my Shoulder" is smooth and chill with those organ keys coming through.   A lot of what can be heard throughout this album feels just like it radiates positivity.  This might not be worship in the sense that it doesn't get preachy in a church sense, but the overall message and vibe does feel similar so being able to experience that without directly experiencing it seems like a win.  

Cassette Review // John Collins McCormick "Healthy Alternative To Thinking" (Public Eyesore Records)

This begins with a sound like ringing, but it also just feels constant like a motor.  The shuffling of metal now, like going through the silverware drawer.   It sounds like a drill too, but it's just something constantly going.   Then the dragging of metal tools around a metal bowl type of sound.   The way this also feels like it could either be in the kitchen or out in the middle of the road is nice because I just imagine someone with spoons and forks creating this sound during construction on a highway.

Sharper tings now, but that motor is still purring.   With a rattling it all comes to a close and then quieter sounds come through now.  Electronic bugs scurry.  A more drawn out motor sound and then some metal clanging as well.  Somehow this also feels like rain.  It's the jackhammer sound once again as well.   The ringing still feels metal now like silverware, but it also has a nice way of sounding like a bell before becoming that drill again.

On the flip side we open right back up with that rattling sound and metal.  It feels like items are being placed and moved around in a bowl, but it also could just be a matter of taking sounds that items make and isolating it then looping it after recording.  It all is rather complex and what makes it in a literal sense is something which will remain a mystery to me.

Louder, faster banging of pots and pans now gives off a strong percussion vibe.   That rattling around returns now and there is just also some hard banging.   Louder, harsher sounds now like something is glitching or just coming through full blast.  This was loud in a certain sense before, but now it just became a whole new level of loud.   You can hear the sound circling the drain now and this just becomes hypnotic.   That ringing drill returns one last time, briefly, as this exploration in sound comes to an end.

Cassette Review // Windscour "Fools Fallow"

When this cassette starts, there is this feeling of scratching and what sound like haunted moans.   As it continues there is this popping, like the way popcorn does in those big containers at movie theaters, but it's a little bit more industrial than that.  The moans come through as well, giving this some definite eerie vibes.

Sharper sounds cut through now, but that popping remains.  You can also hear voices in the background as audio clips and the whole thing just comes together in such haunted chaos.  A louder tone comes through now to take over all of the other sounds and since I'm listening to this after seeing Windscour play live I can recognize this blasting sound as the trumpet of Joe Moffett.  As soon as it comes in, you can really hear it.

A steady sound, almost like galloping, comes through with the static now.   This all comes to a head as the trumpet is now the only sound.   Quieter sounds are back there, still feeling haunted and now deeper in bass, but that trumpet just blares through.  

On the flip side we begin with the manipulation of audio clips, and there is a mention of a book drop and mushrooms.   This loops, but when it stops you can feel a sigh of relief.  The trumpet makes small notes and the voices return.   There are at least two people speaking at the same time, with the voices being altered and screwed, but that idea of the book drop remains throughout.

The screech of the trumpet clears all of that away now.   A beeping comes through with this, similar to piano keys but not quite the same.   A scraping sound comes in behind this loop now and it begins to feel hypnotic but at the same time the background noise makes me think of the cutting of the flesh.  

What I love most about Windscour is that it combines the electronics of tape looping with the trumpet.  This creates, in a crude way of saying it "electro-jazz", but yet it also could be "jazz-electro".   The idea that it has this balance between the jazz side of music and the electronic noise side of music is just perfect.  Listening to those two genres a lot, this is the epitome of what Michael Larocca is doing at Willimantic Records every month and FiFac's House.  

Cassette Review // Doom Beach "Copperhead" (Redscroll Records)

The one thing I like to tell about Doom Beach when they ask how they sound is that they're loud.   That's the single best word to use to describe them.   It doesn't matter what song they're playing, their sound is just loud and will likely knock you on your ass if you're not ready for it.   

I'm not sure who to compare Doom Beach with because there are so many elements coming into this sound.  It's part punk, part hardcore, part metal, parts subgenres of those genres and even rock n roll at times.   But it all just comes out to where the guitar and drums work so perfectly together and then just so loudly.   Parts Refused, parts The Dedication, parts "Bleach" era Nirvana, parts "In Utero" era Nirvana and then just all of it coming together to hear some of the loudest music you will ever hear.

As I type this, I've seen Doom Beach several times live now and while this cassette is loud their live show is even more so.   If you have the chance to see Doom Beach live, you definitely should to get the full experience of not being able to hear properly for a little bit.   But until then, you can definitely play "Copperhead" at maximum volume because it's what your neighbors and parents would want.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Cassette Review // COMPACTOR "WORK FOR HIRE"

Through distorted loops there are clusters of electronics and beats.  The way this has that sound of noise and harsh noise but also crosses with industrial and even a techno vibe at times really impresses me.   It slows down and gets quieter, more minimal, but also can feel as if someone is laughing.   Deeper bass sounds whirl through now with this haunted type of sound behind it all.  

That feeling of a helicopter comes through next.   Big bass beats drop like bombs.   Electronics are scratching and beeping to where it can sound like droids, still with that beat bouncing.   As the beat stops there is this hollow glass ringing that grows increasingly sharper as it goes on.   Beats return and it feels like straight up hip hop now.   The beat slips and drops.   Electronics reverberate through to close out that song.

Slower beats come through now with an alien feeling surrounding them.  It truly feels like a spacecraft from another planet is landing down here on earth.   A little bit of creaking can be heard within this sound as well.   The electronics begin to sound like they're singing now.   This feels like a computer error and I like how it's set in a certain rhythm.   Stomping now comes through with other sounds of errors.

Even though it still sounds like it's glitching a little bit, it has a beat now.   Big electronic beats follow through like The Prodigy.   Electronics swirl through this and it feels like we're lost in space and time.   The beats return to once again give off that hip hop vibe.   That buzzing returns and there are sounds like we're having fights with lasers in space.   Rapid fire beats now as well.   Everything becomes quieter on the next song, which feels like a field recording with a little bit of feedback in it.

Bursts of distortion come through now and grow louder, which makes them feel as if they are getting closer as well.   Sounds like sirens in the background now.    This all comes to an end and on the flip side we begin with these industrial sounds but the beats are very electric.   This vibe is just really fun, fast paced and mechanical.  There is a beat you can dance to, and it really feels like it's something that's industrial at the same time.

This all slows down now as the beat drags out and there are electronics behind it.  A hollow sounding tone comes through now as well and this all feels like the wind is blowing heavy.   The bass drone shifts like Pole Position now and you can just hear that engine roar.   A digging sound also comes in and this just feels like we're out using a metal detector on some sort of nuclear wasteland.  

We get into a party now with electronics like droids and this repeating almost-alarm sound.   But this all comes together with this rhythm where you can dance to it and I think that's among the best things about COMPACTOR- having that way where you feel like it's an error message on a computer or a fire alarm or something that in society is generally deemed as being a sound you don't want to hear, but thus is turned into a song you can dance to the beat. 

Cassette Review //
Chained To The Bottom Of The Ocean
"Behind The Veil Inside The Machine"
(Redscroll Records)

If you have never heard Chained To The Bottom Of The Ocean before, this might be as good a place as any to start.   The slow, prodding metal sound of music with screaming vocals reminds me of artists such as Scars of Tomorrow and Today Is The Day.  This sound is just raw and really heavy, something I miss in music these days.

Back in the early '00's it felt like you could find bands in the hardcore scene that just got heavier and heavier.  But somewhere along the way, everyone wanted to have pretty melodic vocals as well, so this style of music really faded.   This is why I feel so happy when it seems like it's coming back to the front of the line.   

With those sweet guitar riffs you can put any type of doom or maybe even sludge tag on this, but the fact is it just gets in there and shreds.   Music doesn't always have to hit at 100mph to feel this violent and sometimes it's that slow torture that is the better kill.   This cassette also ends with a cover of "Hurt", which is originally by Nine Inch Nails but I always associate with Johnny Cash now.  

Music Review // Mr Missy "Looking For You"

When listening to "Looking For You", it can feel as if the sound of Mr Missy is revealed right away but as this album goes on so does the exploration in sound.   Right away I can hear elements of The Wallflowers and Mr Missy just checks all the boxes for music which has that sound of rock with elements of Americana and folk, even leaning towards country at times.

These songs are moderately paced though some are slower than others.  "The Story" has a honky tonk way about it, while I can also be reminded of Tom Petty.  "Tumbled Up in Love" is a slow and pretty song, which brings us into that Southern electric rock feeling on "Drink To The Future".  As a duet, this song also has strong elements of the blues, which really showcases the range of Mr Missy.

Mr Missy ends this album on a song called "Next To You" which is a bit more on the pop side with lots of cymbals and I feel like all of the genres that have stood out up until now have come together to help form a unique one.   The way this sound becomes something through both modern and classic rock makes it stand out as well.

There was a time in the 1990's when bands like The Wallflowers, Fastball and Marcy Playground came out with that sort of country sound but not quite and it was accepted by the grunge and post grunge scene.  Artists like Cracker really paved the way and I think Mr Missy will be appreciated by those who enjoy Americana and its related genres but this also just transcends genre to become rock.

Event Review // MCTCON July 23rd, 2023 at Army & Navy Club, Manchester CT

While I had seen posts on Instagram about this event, it wasn't until I saw that Richard Maurizio was announced that I confirmed with both Quentin and Jess that they wanted to go and so I bought tickets.   This was fun because it wasn't this huge comic book convention that was in this big place where you had to pay for parking and also pay $20+ just to get in.  Tickets were only $5 and since going into these things is doing a lot of shopping, when you feel like you aren't paying as much it makes it feel better overall as well.

This space was tight in the sense that there wasn't really a lot of room to move around, but that was also because there were so many people.   It is definitely better to feel like there are too many people in a small space than a small number of people in a large space no matter how much my anxiety told me otherwise.  Our first goal was to get in and find Richard Maurizio because he had a special Archie comic book for this event and we did just that.  

Walking around, the tables were just full of my childhood.  Most everything you could imagine from the '80's and '90's was here for you to add to your collection, from comic books to toys to VHS and video games.   After the Archie comic book my first purchase was a small Roger Rabbit toy because I'd never seen it before and love Roger Rabbit.  This came from a table that had a lot of Care Bears, a plush Gummy Bear (from the Disney animated series) and what looked like nearly everything ever made for Teddy Ruxpin.   

We went through bins of smaller figures to find some Alf toys that I bought along with a cassette and storybook for The Rocketeer.  What's funny is, I somehow was googling cassettes and searching for them on eBay I believe in relation to Alf and then The Rocketeer one came up.  So I had seen this online recently and thought it was neat, so having it in person in front of me was a must buy.  Now I'm just unsure whether or not I want to open it and listen to it.


I found this really cool Last Ronin figure for $15 and I feel like that was the find of the show.   The person selling it was in full conversation with someone else and I just kind of showed him the figure then the money and as I was walking away I could hear the person who was up until then discussing rent prices say something about how he was shocked that the particular action figure was only $15.   

Earlier on, we went by the Matt Ryan table and he had done a sketch of Mario for Quentin.  We looped back and there are three issues of "Brenda" out there to be read, so we bought them all so Quentin and I both have some reading to do now.  It was really nice to talk with Matt Ryan too, just about comic books in general and how they're in the process of launching a game which will go along with their comic books.  It just feels like a whole lot of what both Quentin and I are into, so getting on board was the right call.

As it was getting to be time to go because we had seen it all and spent enough money, Quentin got three of these grab bags of Pokemon cards and a Lego mini figure.   As I turned around I saw on a table a comic book featuring Jonah Hex and Yosemite Sam.   DC crossing over with Looney Tunes felt so cool and as my eyes wandered I saw two more issues of such crossovers.  I bought the three that were there and now have some new pieces to my weird comic book collection.  

I really enjoyed this convention because it felt like there was something for everyone there, if you're into this sort of wide genre of media.  It wasn't like I just walked away with comic books, as we found so many of our other favorite things here as well.  And items were reasonably priced, which you can tell by what we got.   This is definitely something that I want to do again and if you're into anything you're reading about here I highly suggest attending in the future as well.