Friday, April 12, 2024

Music Review // Sue Decker "Hummingbird"

 


Sue Decker has once again found a way to create a song that has a simple and familiar sound without really sounding exactly like anything else out there today.   A guitar riff drives this entire song, which gives it that feeling somewhere between rock n roll and the blues.  There is a driving element to this song as well, which makes me think of a lot of older classic rock from the South, from "Radar Love" to ZZ Top.

As we grow older, we become more interested in birds and hummingbirds are really one of the most interesting of the birds out there.   While you can hear birds singing their songs for other birds, the hummingbird is unique because it makes a humming sound just by flapping its wings and flying.   There is almost something musical within this, which makes it seem like if birds could understand the music of humans they could at least hum along.

The song has lyrics about want and desire.   Lines such as "I need some loving nectar I've been down so long" ring true with the idea of wanting that hummingbird to come and visit you.  This could be about a number of different things, depending upon your background.  In some ways you could attribute these lyrics to the problem in the United States we have with being addicted to sugar, as it appears in so many of our foods.

But overall I think this song is sweet and innocent.  I think that the candy-like cravings are of love and just that companionship that someone else- even a bird and not otherwise human creature- can bring.   Sometimes, if you feel lonely because other people out there aren't reaching out, just remember that there are other species on this planet who can help to make us feel more at home.  "Hummingbird" is a nice reminder of that.  

Music Review // Sam Weber "Hey Hey"

 


When I think of "Hey Hey" I want to go into a Neil Young song but this song by Sam Weber is quite different from that.   This song feels like it's about self reflection and just the idea, as the lyrics say, that "We all gotta hear and we all gotta feel it some time".   What exactly is coming for us?  It's the truth.   That seems to be the message behind this song- is that you can try and avoid it for as long as possible, but the truth is going to catch up to you in the end.

I've always felt this very straight forward and direct approach when it came to telling the truth.  If you tell lies, you can get caught up in them and then forget who you told what to and sometimes even you can forget the truth.   But as Sam Weber brings about in this song, the truth is what remains constant in our lives and so we must acknowledge it.

With these soft acoustic guitar parts and comforting vocals, Sam Weber has a sound reminiscent of Jack Johnson.   This song also takes a few steps off the path into these musical breakdowns of differing degrees of percussion and electronics.   This really makes this song stand out as more than just another acoustic guitar + vocals type of song because the music showcases that talent of Sam Weber.

One thing I really enjoy about this song is that as much as the lyrics behind it just seem to be about baring all and stripping down to the roots to find the truth, the music feels that way as well.  This is some of the most straight forward and honest type of music I've ever heard and as such it only feels appropriate to deliver this message.   Now I just hope everyone will listen.

Music Review // iskwē "nīna"

 


https://iskwe.bandcamp.com/album/n-na


If you have not yet heard the music of iskwē through singles then you are really missing out.   As the singles feel like pieces of the puzzle, listening to the album "nīna" feels like we're finally seeing the bigger picture.   Big piano parts begin this album and there is that whispered type of singing which reminds me of Polly Scattergood.    It kicks into big electronics and just has all of these various influences you can pick out, a little piece of each, to combine and form this one beautiful sound.

That Knight Rider type synth brings out beats and big vocals on "Part Two".   The theme on this album is certainly the over the top vocals, as they make every song feel like such a huge deal.   "End Of It All" has this nice driving synth and the album just reminds me of this rare pop sound you don't often hear.   It's not just so much that it reminds me of something from the 1990's or even the early 2000's, because there are also modern touches to this sound, but it's the way they all come together which is so special.

"Blown Away" is this acoustic song with beats while we go into a more dance club / goth / industrial / electro sound on "The Other Side", which is a lot of fun.   I'm hesitant to say "The Crow", but it really just feels like iskwē could fit in so well on a soundtrack like that.   It just feels like you could hear Stone Temple Pilots on the same soundtrack as a song by iskwē because of the PJ Harvey thing as well.   There are certainly elements in here where you just feel like, yeah, iskwē might have the song that sticks out but it'd be in the best possible way.

"Waiting For The Laughter" has these big strings while "Exhale" is just this perfect synth pop song that comes at the end and seems to send you back into society as a better person (hopefully) than you were before you first pressed play.   And before this all also comes the song "I Get High", which is just so catchy and relatable that I'm surprised it's not a radio hit.   But everything iskwē does just seems so important, so next level and just so revolutionary not just for the sound on these songs but for music on the whole.  


Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Movie Review // Pulgasari (CULT and CLASSIC Fims)


https://cultandclassicfilms.com/


When I joined the CULT and CLASSIC Films Patreon it felt like a no-brainer.  I got my first movie and it felt like you get extras for joining through the Patreon, but I essentially look at it as this service which will send you a blu-ray once a month that is among the weird or unusual type of films.   This is the second film I've received as part of the Patreon and it is a big one, in a literal and on screen sense.

"Pulgasari" is a film which was produced in North Korea and it is a kaiju film, which is to say it's not too much unlike watching a Godzilla film but that's also because this film had a lot of involvement from that group of film makers in the making of this film.  There is a lot of history within here and having this movie in hand just feels like a prisoner of war was released from North Korea and sent home to me.

I don't want to get too much into the plot of this film because it shouldn't be spoilers but one thing I do enjoy about "Pulgasari" is that he is found as a baby and then grows up with these kids who come to love him in some weird way.    I know there should be an easy way to compare this with a movie where a child has a pet, like "Lassie" or something, but those movies never use their pets to overthrow the government.  

In the simplest form possible to state: if you're a fan of kaiju films, then you should definitely go out of your way to see this because everything else aside, the time you spend watching the screen is going to be more than worth it for you.   As a film, this just lives up to the expectations and so much more, really, as I expected it to feel more low budget than it did.  I was impressed by the costumes, for example, as they felt like the film had some money behind it.

Now we get into the good stuff.  This special edition blu-ray comes with two versions of the film: one is restored from DVD and the other from Laserdisc.  I watched the Laserdisc version and will likely watch the DVD version again in the near future, so when that happens I can update this review to include if I feel they look dramatically different somehow but I'm under the impression that they won't.

There is an interview on here with Paul Fischer, who wrote about Kim Jong-Il and the film history of North Korea, which is just such a fascinating topic to dive into in and of itself.   The physical media with this blu-ray is the set of bottlecaps (can I say POGs?), a double sided poster which is slightly larger than 11x17, and perhaps my favorite part: a small paper Pulgasari that you can fold and put on your desk.

One of the things that makes me think about the country of North Korea is that this past year- in December 2023- there was a Godzilla film in theaters, largely loved by everyone, here in the United States.  Now, another Godzilla film, in a different series, is coming into theaters as well.   Imagine "Pulgasari" having this big release in theaters to go along with all of this monster mayhem.  Imagine someone out there rolling out toys to go with the Godzilla and King Kong toys I currently see in stores.

It really is wishful thinking more than anything else.  In a different time line, we'd be able to do such things, but the state of the world here and now only leaves us room to watch this film in our own homes.   But, I'm happy and appreciative that we are at least able to do that.  This also just very much feels like the best way we could've gotten this film to view in the United States, without paying much more for the VHS on eBay, but again, if you're into kaiju then this is for you.  













Cassette Review // Fog Lamp "Anxious Stargazing"


https://foglamp.bandcamp.com/album/anxious-stargazing


There is something truly refreshing about hearing a band such as Fog Lamp.  As someone who really had their musical tastes matured during the mid to late 1990's, I always find it difficult to find modern artists who embrace that sound.  It's kind of grunge, but kind of not.  One of the few bands I've found that has done this so well is Weep Wave and in that sense I can compare Fog Lamp with them, as I would love to see them on tour together and coming to rock the east coast live.

With distortion and steady drumming, this reminds me of somewhere between Nirvana and Local H, but I mean that specifically for "Bleach" and "Ham Fisted" respectfully.   To some extent this also reminds me of a band such as Mudhoney, which is just such a specific sound and time in music that I think it truly defines not only an era but me as well.  "Luke Warm" hits with dark keys and at times it can feel like there is talking instead of singing, but by the end of Side A you'll hear screaming.

On the flip side there is a slower, electronic start but then it kicks right in.  There are elements of fast paced synth here and this whole cassette just feels like a party.   By the end we reach a song called "People Are Sponges" in which there is distortion over this almost ska-like riff.  It reminds me a bit of Talking Heads, but also just carries that punk mentality that would've landed them a gig at CBGB's.

My favorite thing that you can do as a musician is combine elements of the past with different sounds to showcase the future.  Fog Lamp has done exactly that on this cassette, with sounds that take me back to 1998 but also make me feel like it's not a direct sound to that year and so it can feel like we're progressing into the future.   Still, whether you want to call it punk, rock or something else it just flat out rocks and so I'm happy to have music you can just turn on loud.











Cassette Review // Poppy H "Grave Era" (Cruel Nature Records)

 




An ambiance fills the sounds as beeps are spread out.   This definitely starts with that feeling as if we are floating in space.   We slowly move through as if the sound is being produced through an old projector.   There is just that overall feeling of watching an old film, but it's just moving as well to where it feels like we're sending a message from space that we've completed our mission but we are not coming home.

Acoustic guitar strums come in next.   Other notes join in and this is a soft, delicate type of rock song.   It sounds like something is knocked over in the background as that song comes to an end.   Beeps that feel more like Pong go back and forth now.   There are also elements within here to make this feel like a frantic pinball machine.   Very fast paced electro-beats are behind this sound as well, as the synth expands and opens up to the heavens.   There is a faint sound as if someone is saying "wow" in the background as well.

The next song begins with a droning that reminds me of dialtone.   An audio message is telling us to please stand by and some lovely notes come through.   That buzzing continues with these beautiful notes and now someone is talking behind them.   This feels like a scene out of a movie.   The notes are back and forth, as a song now, and then the gentle strumming of the guitar can be heard behind this trip as well.   A little slip of static comes through and it sounds like stop is being pressed on the tape recorder.

Running water now brings us into the next song.   Notes come through now but they bend and warp.   The notes find this deepness to feel like they're dropping off of the deep end.   This doesn't feel like the beauty we heard before, but rather like destruction and perhaps the apocalypse.   This takes us into a song where the notes come through in a way which makes it feel more like we're about to go into a kung fu film.   There are words coming through behind this now, singing.   A sort of drilling sound comes through with this all now.   A beep.  

There are some other odd sounds in here as this side comes to an end.    What I find fascinating throughout this first side of the cassette is that while I was listening with earbuds and I had the volume up to a decent amount, it is still sunny and nice outside so I could hear this sound from outside as well.  During one point where it felt like we were watching old home movies, I could hear someone outside yell "Good job!", as if they're teaching their child to ride a bike.  The way these two moments that happened at the same time felt rather appropriate.

Just really blissed out guitar strums start Side B and we go into this more dramatic sound like a sitcom from the 1980's.   Clicks and whooshes now make it feel like we're locking in and then launching into space.   An ominous drone enters behind this all now.   It feels almost like heavy breathing and then we turn into this eerie sound, like a fog is filling the sound.   A strumming now which feels like it's on a broken toy guitar.   This has more of that things falling apart feel to it and I like it because I feel like you can see things around you doing exactly that in unison with the sound.

Singing begins the next song and then a very somber piano part follows.   We dive more into this air now, which feels like it carries on throughout the cassette but also has more of a haunted wind way about it right now.   But then we go into this electronic-wavy type of sound which almost makes it feel like we're underwater while also in space at the same time.   A pretty guitar strum comes through now and it feels as if there are piano keys behind it as well.   This is somewhere between someone tuning/warming up a guitar and playing at a cocktail lounge.

Guitar notes come through with enough distortion to remind me of an accordion and I feel like we're going down the streets of Italy in a boat.   The piano keys climb up and drop off.   This also is the end of the cassette and though I do believe that the world is round if you were to believe that the Earth is flat and when you hit a certain point you just sort of fall off into space then I think this sound might very well capture that.   More than anything it is a fitting end as it feels so final, so finite.  












Cassette Review // JZNZ "Plumes" (Personal Archives)


https://personalarchives.bandcamp.com/album/plumes


Cymbals lead the way to this deep, droning bass line.  It really feels like we're in the fog with this one, some sort of horror just creeping up on us.   Sounds like electric horns come through, making these sci-fi synth tones which change the mood from horror to fantasy.   As the drums become more dramtic, the tones come through like insects and this just has all the feelings now of a giant bug taking over a city.  

There's a really nice feeling of the synth coming through almost like keys to where it takes us on this magical journey.   A bit more of a smooth cymbal sound now brings in the xylophone and sax as this begins to take on the makings of a jazz number.   Everything just begins moving together as such a cohesive unit here.   It's blaring as well.   There is just this smooth, cool jazz way about this song though.   There is almost a Pink Panther vibe within here as well.  

Slow notes now with a sort of talking between songs in the studio feeling.   Buzzing comes through next in a big way and this feels like we're being attacked by a swarm of bees.   Deeper blasts come through now and I'm not sure if this is some sort of wind instrument or a cello but I enjoy the mystery too much to look at the credits.   We then take on this air of mystery, floating around almost as if with a flute.   But that feeling of sci-fi synths becomes confirmed when you keep listening.

On the flip side we drop into this sci-fi trance.  Individual notes drop into the space and then other sounds come through ringing.   This all has a very spatial and somewhat hypnotizing way about it.   The slow chimes can also just make this feel magical and like a fun trip into the sky.   It can feel as if it's fading out, but then it comes back in with this contracting sound.   A pulsating bass line is driving behind this all.   You can hear the horns- like the sax- blaring through now as well.   Even as this all comes through, you can still feel that pulse in the background.

Swirls come through now which can sound like sirens.   They grow more intense and it feels like we're in a whirlwind.   We hit a bit of static now and this song fades out.   Drums come in now with those sort sci-fi synths.   It almost feels as if we're marching and then it picks up the pace to where we're moving at a steady speed.   We're diving into this deep, almost classic rock type of sound, somewhere between Black Sabbath and Iron Butterfly.    The drums pour in over this hip bass line.   The sax flies in now as well.

This all becomes so rocking and it's just moving, just driving.   In the beginning of this cassette, you can really take different interpretations into the sounds.  But by the end, you just hear the drums, the bass and the sax come through in a way which is undeniable and just rocks.   I enjoy that this starts off with mystery and you can hear it how you see fit to, but by the end it just opens up and ends with a force that cannot be mistaken.  










Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Cassette Review // Princess Disease & Straight Panic "Princess Disease / Straight Panic Split" (Black Ring Rituals Records)


https://blackringrituals.bandcamp.com/album/princess-disease-straight-panic-split


Sharpness drives us into distorted blasts as this one starts.  Usually we have that distortion coming through like feedback- which is a sharp sound- or the static blasting through but I'm not used to them being at the same time.   Words are being spoken now in a somewhat distorted way and this is somewhere between industrial and Pain Chain.   Words are screamed now as well.  The music and screaming go so well together.

Typically when I listen to things along the lines of harsh noise they tend to either come through like a machine gun or a flamethrower.   With Princess Disease, this feels more like torture.  It's slower and prodding, just tearing you limb from limb and breaking every single law which exists about torture.  The fact that this has vocals coming through with the sounds feels like it's more accessible to people who are into hardcore or metal, but for me it's just the pain that this conveys.  I love it.

On the Straight Panic side we come through with this slipstream which sounds like a highway.  People are talking and saying things like "Fuck yeah" as we drop into these really deep bass beats.   The beats continue with the static and it feels like EDM merging with harsh noise.  Vocals can be heard screamed through now and this is just getting heavier and more in your face by the second.    This feels abrasive and there is a ringing behind it, such as your ears might get after listening to this at full volume.  

As I discussed previously that harsh noise can have this flamethrower way about it, Straight Panic brings that as this feels like a sound which is just leveling full cities.   The beats and screamed vocals add another level to it and this is just that type of sound I love because I feel like if this is being played live it might make people uncomfortable to the point where they just plain out leave.

While I had not heard of Princess Disease before, I most definitely have heard of and love Straight Panic.   Whether you've heard of either of these artists or not though isn't the point so much as that you should just be listening to each of these artists on the whole.  This split cassette provides you with that little slice of each of their sounds and it is definitely not a cassette to be missed.  











Friday, April 5, 2024

Music Review // BOBBI "Lie To Me"


The sound of BOBBI is somewhere between pop and electronic.   This song "Lie To Me" reminds me a bit of SHAED and also Flora Cash.   It's just such an overall vibe, as it can be somewhere between those worlds of music but is definitely the type of soulful song I could imagine hearing on the radio as well.

When it comes to being lied to, that might seem like something that people don't want to happen.   In the song "Lie To Me" though, it is about the idea of someone lying to someone else to save their feelings.   I think we all tell these lies at some point in our lives, but the lyrics after the title say "Tell me it's not hurting" and that seems to reflect a more specific event.

In this modern day and age the world is a terrifying place.   You can easily go on social media and read in depth about several tragedies and many of them might even still be ongoing.   There are things out there which are just out of our control for one reason or another and so I do think at times we need to have someone lie to us or we need to lie to ourselves in order to keep it together and not completely lose our minds.  

A lot of times in life, whether we're going through heart break or just reading on the internet about wars being fought in other countries, we have to tell ourselves or we need someone else there to tell us that the world is going to be okay.   Without that reassurance the world would be a much more bleak place, but this smooth song can help us feel a little bit better about it.


Music Review // Chorus of Courage "Sweet Little Hummingbird"

 


Songs like this are rare because "Sweet Little Hummingbird" not only has this message of positivity but the music itself makes you feel good.   As the song starts with pianos it turns into this dreamy acoustic rock sound.   The melody pours out and it can be somewhere between Shawn Mullins and The Wallflowers.   I just feel that certain era of late 1990's rock in here, where the melody came through as well.

As the song sings the chorus it also brings out lines such as: "You've magically moved through your own healing" and "It was never your fault / what happened".    This makes it feel like this song is for the victims and for the survivors of various terrible things that can happen in your life.  I'm not going to even begin to imagine or try and describe what types of things these could be, but if you've gone through something like that and are still here, then you are the hummingbird.

I'm someone who enjoys birdwatching and birds in general so I know that the symbolism, some would say, of the hummingbird coming to visit you is a sign that your troubled times are over and the healing can begin.    This feels especially meaningful given the lyrics of this song- that a hummingbird was chosen for the title.  I imagine someone being pulled from a building, being saved, and told "It's okay now, it's over now".

Even if you don't feel like you can relate with the lyrics of this song in the way that you don't have trauma, there is still a nice message here in that pain can be over and healing can begin.  At some point, we all go through something and so this is just a nice song as well to remind us that whatever we're going through will eventually end and also, perhaps most importantly, that we are not alone.  


Music Review // Wine Lips "Derailer"


The sound of Wine Lips is that fast paced rock n roll that has been missing from the mainstream for far too long.   "Derailer" is the type of song that you could hear on the radio and like that it stands out from everything else on the rock station as it's just on that edge of being punk.   It's different than hearing what modern rock radio considers punk, as this feels louder and more in your face.  At times, this song can really remind me of a band such as The Hives.

While this is a good song to put on and feel like you can do anything in a short period of time because the pace just moves you to go faster as well, the lyrics of the song seem to tell a different story.   The chorus says "Slow it down I'm about to derailer" while there is also a line "Got your candle burning at both ends".  I think this is about how sometimes we just take on more than we can handle so we need to step back and take a breath.

Further into the song we get the lyrics "Try hard not to spend / Keep up with social trends / So tired so stressed / This world is such a mess"  I definitely feel like the world is a mess but that doesn't mean we have to be a mess too.   And keeping up with trends and social media is such a challenge because I always think if I dedicated the time I spend on social media to something more constructive I couldn't written a book or learned another language by now.

"Derailer" has a way of grabbing and pulling you in.   If you heard this on the radio you would definitely want to know who was singing it and go listen to more of their songs and this song over and over as well.   But bands just aren't like Wine Lips any more and that's not good for music on the whole but it is good for Wine Lips because we can appreciate them more.   This music video is also a lesson in espionage not to be missed.  


Thursday, April 4, 2024

Music Review // Mike Evin "I Almost Called You Babe"

 


This is the song where the title could be taken one of two different ways but the way that it comes across with the lyrics is a lesson in punctuation.   On one hand, this title could mean "I Almost Called You Babe" in the way that you got so down you almost made that phone call.  And maybe in some ways if you try to dig deep enough you can find that meaning within these lyrics.   When you're really trying to move on from someone, you have to let them go by not calling them any more.

But in that sense the title would've been "I Almost Called You, Babe" which it is not.   So as the title would suggest this is a song about someone almost calling someone else the word "babe", which I think is kind of funny.   While there are people who like to use the word "babe" as a term of endearment I've never been a fan of it because there are too many meanings that just make it funny or inappropriate.

One of these such examples is in the movie "Hot Rod" there is a scene where Will Arnett's character says the word "babe" so many times it begins to lose meaning.   On the more serious side, the term "babe" can come from "baby" and so to think of your significant other as an infant is kind of weird, right?  And I know "baby" is used throughout music as well but it's still something I'd never say.  To top off all of that, there is the movie "Babe Pig In The City" so if you want to be compared with a pig then this is a good word for you.

All of that aside, Mike Evin has created a beautiful song here with the use of only his voice and the piano.  It's got that slow, ballad type of lullaby that you might think of when listening to certain songs by Billy Joel.   Having it be about this subject matter, about calling someone babe being a mistake, is great for me because I really don't like the word in that context.  


Music Review // GOLDRIDGE "Burnout"

 


"Burnout" is a song which begins with big beats and the guitar comes through in just an electric way.   There is a big stadium rock type of feel to this all and it reminds me of a band such as Muse.    GOLDRIDGE just seems to have made this in a large, anthem type of way and given the subject matter of the song it seems only fitting that this would be played loud.   When you have those moments when you might feel too tired but must keep going, this is the song to power you through.

Burnout as a concept is a very real thing.  We often don't take care of ourselves enough and end up burning out at times from overdoing it.   One of the first lines in this song which shows that is "You say I should just slow down", which is what others looking at your situation might see and wonder if the steps which you are taking to achieve your goals are worth it.  This can really be seen in almost any college student, especially when they get into more challenging schools and difficult studies.

One line that repeats during the chorus is "Wasting all my time on things that only stress me out" and I think that's a good reminder that not only should we not waste energy on such things but that we shouldn't stress about things in general.  There are only so many hours in a day so sometimes it is not only okay but necessary to leave something until tomorrow.   When you feel like you're reaching the point of burnout though you are likely not thinking this way.

The other powerful lyric in this song to remember is: "I'll never get there if I don't slow down".  It's nice to do things at 100mph, but eventually you're going to crash.  The most deceptive thing about burnout is also that it can be from things you enjoy.   Something which you feel brings you joy can eventually burn you out if you have too much of it, which is why life is sometimes best left to moderation and a clear mind.  


Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Music Review // Keegan Powell "In My Cave"

 


If there was ever a song to start with such a foot stomping distortion blast of rock I'm not sure I've heard it.   Somewhere between Local H, The White Stripes and Metric, Keegan Powell takes these existing sounds and blends them together in a way I haven't really heard any artist do before now.  

At its heaviest, this song could be borderline metal, but it's overall just a great rock n roll number, channeling classic rock icons such as Led Zeppelin and Joan Jett.   Keegan Powell definitely seems to be forging her own path though, as this song declares that with a bolt of lightning from the very first note and right up until the very end.

As the lyrics in this song can just ask for a break, I feel like being "In My Cave" is something we can all relate with in both a literal and metaphorical sense.   Sometimes the world just gets you down and it feels like nothing is going your way.  Sometimes it just keeps throwing one thing after another at you to the point where you don't want to go outside.  Sometimes it's just raining.

But however you want to hear this song in terms of comparisons or why you want to hole up inside, the fact remains that it does shed light on that topic and it is important at times to rest and just take a break from whatever is outside.   I hope that when those days come when you don't want to leave your cave you can put this song on, get through it and get back to feeling like you are catching a break.  


Music Review // Erik Lankin "Daedalus Requiem"

 


Every single note of this song feels somber and serious.   Erik Lankin has created a song here that can be along the lines of neoclassical music and it is accompanied by a music video which acts as a short film and tells a story.   With sad strings and that deep cello, it it difficult to hear this as anything but a sad symphony and I think that is because the theme of this song is death.  

When this music video starts we see someone getting zipped up in a body bag, which means death, but later the body outside of the bag and floating.   As it rains, swimmers are swimming underwater and it becomes synchronized.   The little touches in this video, such as the way that the rain transitions into the ocean, just make it feel so special.

Throughout the video while it is underwater it is almost as if the soul is in holding.  Eventually, a hand reaches out and touches land.   We then see the sun rise over the ocean.  We are no longer underwater.  I believe this to be representing the next stage in death- from that holding period into whatever you believe comes as the afterlife.

This music video in and of itself is deep and beautiful.   The song is peaceful and can be used for relaxation.  But the way that the two pair together is what makes the real magic.   It's just that idea of seeing something and not hearing dialogue but hearing the orchestral music sounds, yet knowing what is happening is what music should be all about.  

Friday, March 29, 2024

Music Review // Julian Robia "Roll Them Pretty Eyes"

 


Just saying the title "Roll Them Pretty Eyes" has me knowing this is going to be a country song before I hear it.   I cannot say the title without having a little bit of that southern twang in my voice.   It's the closest you can get to putting "y'all" in the title without having it there.  And as I suspect before finding the video, this is very much a guitar twang sounding country song.  It has a moderate pace and picks up near the end as well.

What gets me about this song is that at first listen people might take it the wrong way.   After singing to "Roll them pretty eyes", the next line is "I can't help feeling like a child", which just kind of shows how the singer is both taken back to that age of wonderment but also maybe a little bit immature.   This comes through further with the lines: "You look mad as hell this time / So I try and hide my smile" which can be taken different ways.

No one should be smiling at someone else's pain, but I don't think that's what this song is about.  I'm the type of person that someone could be really upset with me and tell me "It is your duty to..." and I would just be thinking "Heheheh duty".   So I get the idea of wanting to smile when someone is upset, but some people might now.  Julian Robia also understands what role this plays, as he has the line "Famous last words from me".

In some ways this song is about poking the bear.   It's about knowing that you shouldn't ask a woman what's wrong when they're upset because it'll just make things worse but you can't help but do it any way.  Although the intentions here aren't as blatant, it's more of a reflex than something deliberate and if we can just all spend more time in life laughing rather than fighting it'll be better for everyone.


Music Review // Chris Cadaret "How I Miss You"

 


"How I Miss You" is a song that can be about different things at different times.   The overall acoustic sound to it reminds me of The Wallflowers, but there are other sort of rock sounds within here as well.   As the title suggests, the tone of this song is sad, which definitely influences the music in the sense that it's not upbeat or a fast tempo.

The funny thing about missing people is that you don't really miss them until they're gone and then it's usually too late.   Missing someone also seems to be something that once you do it, you don't stop doing it.   You just end up missing more people over time, it never diminishes in any way.   Life is tough like that, but at least now we have this song to discuss further how we can miss those who come into and leave our lives.

At first, partly because this music video shows scenes from a parent and child, I thought about this song being about the relationship between a parent and child with the child growing up and moving out of the house.   It's that empty nest syndrome that parents tend to get because you spend so much time with your kids but then they go off and create their own lives and even if you see them every week it's still not the same.

Then this song took a turn to where I thought it was missing an ex-lover, a romantic sense of it, and then finally I feel like it settled on missing a parent because of the lines: "All so suddenly you come around" and "Rest assured you're looking down".  Regardless of how you take this song, who you think it refers to, it just shows that there are a lot of people we can miss for different reasons and though we may never stop missing them hopefully listening to this song can bring us some comfort.  


Thursday, March 28, 2024

Music Review // Caméra "Dimanche"

 


On "Dimanche" the sound has such a steady pace.  It really feels as if you are feeding images through a projector to have them form a moving sequence.  Though not easy to explain, as a kid we used to make these types of things out of cardboard boxes and feed comic strips through them.   This just feels like the soundtrack to such an event, though the content of the images can be left to your imagination.

Acoustics begin this song and take us into the melody.  Parts of this flutter and do so in such a way that it just makes the overall feeling of the song one which is pretty.  I can almost imagine this as the beginning or end credits theme for a film, somewhere between "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Adventure Time".

But there is also this part which has these plucks which sound like they're coming from a jaw harp.   This instrument always makes me think of one specific film and as such this can take on the sound of something moving such as a boat down the river.  I specifically think about Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, riding down the river on their makeshift raft.   Just to have some form of that as a still image and to move the trees, grass and water around them would make for a neat music video.

One of the other elements within this song which needs to be talked about more is that there is singing but without words, a sort of humming.   This sensation adds to the overall beauty of this song, though it also puts Caméra into this genre where the song isn't quite fully instrumental but it also doesn't have lyrics.  Still, this is a fun song to listen to when you're doing really anything and want to maintain a specific pace.  


Music Review // Sue Decker "The Lost Ones"

 


Sue Decker has a sound that's somewhere between country and rock n roll.  This works well because this song, "The Lost Ones", is about a problem which faces every person.   Somewhere between the sounds of Sheryl Crow and Tom Petty, Sue Decker has made guitar notes drive into a melody that can be easy on the ears.

Who are "The Lost Ones"?  It's interesting because as this song begins and you hear the lyrics unfold, "The Lost Ones" seems to be about the homeless population.   It's so frustrating how there can be all of these buildings across this country that are left unoccupied and yet people still live on the streets.   Even here, someone converted an old motel into really expensive apartments and they could have made that a more realistic home.

As this song continues, you'll hear Sue Decker sing and ask questions such as "How did we all become the lost ones?"   I like this idea because it not only shows that none of us really have it all figured out, but also that those people we see who are homeless or in some other type of trouble, well, they aren't really that far removed from us.   That could be us or it could be someone we know one day.

I don't think anyone should be without a home and I don't think we talk about it enough.  I also find it disgusting that people live on the streets while others live in million dollar mansions.   There has to be some middle ground which can be met.   But as this song says: "Feeling powerless to help someone with a loaded gun", I don't know what I can do personally but I do feel like government people need to step up and help.  


Music Review // Chris Bullinger "How To Bleed (Castle Sessions)"


This version of "How To Bleed" finds Chris Bullinger stripped down to an acoustic guitar, his voice and one electric guitar also coming through.   The sound is very minimal and slow moving.  For some reason, when I listen to this I think it could be a song by Soul Asylum but I also have that spaced out pace of a song such as "Glycerine" by Bush.

Lyrically this is an interesting song because it can be taken in different ways depending upon your experiences in life.   The chorus has the lines: "Sometimes I reach for your hand / Most times I'm just cold / I don't ask you to understand / Just don't let me go", which feels a lot like someone asking someone else to stick with them through the good and bad times, but with the emphasis on the bad times.

There is also a change where at first the lyrics are "But I know how to bleed" and they later change to "So you'll know how to bleed" and in that sense I think this just becomes a rather serious song about mental health issues.   While it doesn't have to be about bleeding specifically, it's just that idea that whatever this person is going through, they're in pain and soon because of that you will also feel pain but in an empathetic way.

The acoustic guitar and electric guitar blend together well here.  There is an electric guitar solo at one point even.   But this has such a somber feel to it all around.  It's soft spoken and just feels like a conversation you don't want to have, but it must be said.   "How To Bleed" just feels like such a lovely song and if it can shine a light on mental health struggles then that seems like an even better reason to listen.  


Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Music Review // Carmel Mikol "Trying Not to Hurt You"


With an acoustic guitar and her voice, Carmel Mikol has created a beautiful song with "Trying Not to Hurt You".   There is something to be said for that type of song which feels like it can be played any where and at any time.   I like feeling that the artist can just pick up their guitar and play the song whenever and wherever.   Carmel Mikol shows that here with this song, as it gets very minimal even towards the end.

However, not to be proven wrong or anything but there are a few notes which come through at the end of this song that sound electric.   Those might just be absent from a live performance, but I do enjoy that this isn't just a straight up guitar + vocals song by the end as it has that added layer to it, but if you really needed it to be then it could be played live as such.  

The idea behind this song is what the title says.   The lyrics describe a scene at a house near the beach and lines such as "All the seagulls stand at the end of the surf" come through more than once.  In relationships with other people- whether they're romantic, family, friendships or otherwise- we seem to have this built in quality of not wanting to hurt someone else, yet we also feel obligated to tell the truth at times which can lead to hurt.

With this song, I feel like Carmel Mikol has found a way to be honest and not say something because the intention is to hurt you but because it is the truth.  There are different levels for this for sure, but if you've ever felt like you were going to hurt someone and didn't want to but knew it was a band aid you had to rip off, then this song is for you.  


Music Review // The Bankes Brothers "Walkin'"

                                           
  

The Bankes Brothers have a very distinct sound.   On the surface it feels like indie rock with acoustic undertones, but as the chorus kicks in and this song really takes off you'll begin to hear other influences as well.   Melodies from radio artists such as Neon Trees and Mumford & Sons both collide within this song, as it feels as if both elements of that radio pop and acoustic folk rock are present.

At times this can be dreamy and just remind me of someone like Buddy Holly.  Towards the end there is a start and stop breakdown which has a lot of pure melody to it, which I do so enjoy.  This is where the musical side of this song is really demonstrated because it's not just that straight forward verse-chorus-verse type of song.   There are other layers added within the music and the more that you listen the clearer you can hear them coming out.

"Walkin" is about walking to the beat of your own drum, which I think is important.  In this day and age of social media far too many people follow the crowd.  People have always followed the crowd, but it seems to be more so apparent since social media can kind of help guide people through these "trends".   Just as a song about individuality and doing what you feel is right- even if others don't agree- is a great take away from these lyrics.

But this song goes one step further and brings out these lines: "I might fail at everything I try / At least I tried".  Far too often people can feel defeated before they even started so why try, why bother.   It's better to fail at something, in my opinion, than to do nothing.   The Bankes Brothers shining that light on the idea that it's okay to fail as long as you're trying makes this an even more important song.  


Friday, March 22, 2024

Music Review // Close Talker "The Sprawl"


When listening to "The Sprawl", I get a sense of familiarity from Close Talker.   Within these songs come that feeling of The Lyndsay Diaries or The Get Up Kids but also bands more on the electronic side.   With that alternative / college rock type of sound such as Silversun Pickups, there are also elements of a band within here such as Neon Trees.   Close Talker really does bring out both The Postal Service and Death Cab For Cutie somehow.

Dreamy slowcore kicks in on the first song with beats.  "Exodus" has more of these blissed out beats and then keys and acoustics come into a breakdown as well.  There is this nice dramatic type of sound taking us into "King George" and I just keep thinking of a band I've heard before, like All Get Out, but I can't quite put my finger on the exact artist this sounds like.  But that is a good thing, as that familiarity can make this so easy to listen to and so easy to enjoy.

"From Dark to Lightness" has this huge anthem feel to it and it's one of my favorite songs on this album.   The beauty of "The Sprawl" is that at times you can feel like there are songs with that verse/chorus/verse structure, but then at the same time you can just hear those breakdowns and overtures, songs in between that aren't as long as the others.   "From Dark to Lightness" really has all of the elements that this entire album seems to create, all of the various facets which make the music feel so complex.

The song "Tall Boy" seems to favor music over lyrics and "And Am" is a big, instrumental number, just showcasing that Close Talker isn't just about the words but can also bring forth the rock.  In ways, this sound can remind me of post rock because of how complex it can be, but at the same time I hear those beats and think about how this could also be pop and on the radio.  It has that AJR way about it while also just feeling too intelligent to be for the masses.  That is one of the best places music can land.  


Music Review // Mama B "Unicorn"


Hearing the pop melodies of Mama B on the song "Unicorn" makes me feel like we're taking a magical ride.   With the name Mama B (and doing a little research) I've found that this song is geared towards children, but I think it's the type of song that a parent can put on for their child but also not be annoyed by.   There are certainly enough songs out there that are for children that I'd like to never hear again (I'm looking at you, Baby Shark)

More towards a show like "Yo Gabba Gabba", Mama B has an infectious sound.  This lyric video is animated so it also provides stimulation for children who might not yet be able to read.  I think a large of learning to read is seeing the words and hearing them at the same time.  So for children to watch this video, they can recognize the words on screen and begin to learn to read.  In that way, this is definitely educational, so it's well worth the time to put on for your young ones.

While "Unicorn" is an upbeat pop song there is something to it which can be taken in the lyrics to give it a deeper meaning.  Yes, there is that surface value that makes it feel like "My Little Pony" to an extent, but lyrics such as "A dream I've had that's come to life" could just as easily be about a rainbow filled adventure as it could be about the impact of having a child.  Again, this is the type of song I feel both child and parent will relate with.

As an adult, as a parent, if I had one piece of advice for others in general it'd be to just cherish each of these individual moments in time.  That experience that you have isn't going to be the same as it is for some else, so that is special and unique to you.   Finding those moments, those unicorns in life, is what I think it's really about.   Mama B has found that positivity and maybe we can come closer to being a society that values experiences over material things. 


Thursday, March 21, 2024

Music Review // M'Grasker "Spectrephelia"


If nothing else, this song by M'Grasker should teach you what "Spectrephelia" is, if you are not yet aware of it.   According to a quick Google search, Spectrephelia is the sexual attraction to ghosts, though it can go beyond that but that is the simple definition.    I'm not sure how that would work exactly but I'm not here to kink shame so this song likely has its audience out there, just waiting to find it.

M'Grasker has this overall sound on this song which reminds me of They Might Be Giants.  Some Weezer is in there for good measure, as this is a moderately paced rock song with those big guitars at times.  Whether it's because of the actual sound or the subject matter, this also has strong vibes which make me think it could appear on a modern episode of "Scooby Doo".   Granted that would be more of a cartoon with a mature theme, but nonetheless, it could be there.

Different lyrics within this song will tell you what it's about, whether or not you know the definition.  The first lines that strike me are: "Is this drugs or is this my real life", as maybe the ghost can just feel like a hallucination and the whole ordeal can be like a dream.  But as the song goes on, lines such as "Physical or not / One touch is never enough" begin to fall into place with what the theme of the song is.

There is a sort of sweet way around this song as well, if you just imagine a couple in love and then one of them dies but remains a ghost with the living person.   It feels like something Hollywood has done before but perhaps needs a modern touch.  Still, the idea of seeing ghosts is enough to stop some people without even thinking about what this song wants to do to them.   Perhaps if you're not into the subject matter you can get carried away by the melodies.  


Music Review // iskwē "A Little Piece"


When it comes to iskwē, you always know the music is going to be special.   This is pop with these electro beats and other sounds which put it somewhere along the lines of Flora Cash, Polly Scattergood and (tightrope) without actually sounding like any of them completely.  There is also something about this song which takes me back to the 1990's, specifically with "The Crow" soundtrack.  

In many ways, this music video seems to be acting out what's going on within the song.  The chorus has the lyrics "A little piece had died / A little piece of mind / A little peace inside".   This, in and of itself, is an interesting concept, but when you take it into the context of the verses, with lines like "My mind fooled me for / Twelve hours in a day / I stayed awake at night", it makes me think this is about insomnia.

People don't seem to talk about insomnia enough, but it can lead to some serious mental issues, as it can directly affect your brain.   This song should bring more awareness to that, but it might also be about something bigger.  The line in the first verse that says "While I wiped away / Two tears from my face" turns into four tears on the next verse.   In that sense, it feels almost as if iskwē is torn between two worlds.

I'm a firm believer in the idea that art doesn't always have to make sense and there doesn't need to be a clear answer for it.   With this song, perhaps the true meaning will only be known by iskwē.   There is a sense of loss within this song as well, but the music is unique enough to pull you in and even if you only feel it on the surface as someone losing their mind over a lack of sleep it is still worth listening to often.  


Music Review // Ava Della Pietra "Sick (music video)"


  Following the release of the single "Sick" on Valentine's Day, one week and one month later Ava Della Pietra has released a music video to accompany the song.   As a quick reminder, the song "Sick" is a catchy pop song about being in love with someone to the point where it makes you feel sick.  I know there is a name for this that people who don't believe in love will say is just science, but this music video takes you through the disease and the cure.

As this music video begins, Ava Della Pietra sees her crush from across the way.   When he looks back and they make eye contact it causes her to faint.   This leads to a stretcher and a full scene where she is being taken to the hospital.   Inside of the hospital room, everything is covered in hearts.  It looks like if you were inside a hospital room themed around Valentine's Day or just love in general (red/pink/hearts)

The story being told in this music video raises an interesting question.   Imagine if being lovesick was treated like other illnesses.  Imagine a society in the future which wants to take such things as emotions out of the equation to live a more productive lifestyle.  Think about it: when you have feelings, you're daydreaming about someone else instead of getting the most out of your work and therefore the work suffers.

Futuristic sci-fi movie ideas aside, this music video really shows that love is an emotion that can be more than just feelings as it can literally make you sick.  When I was a teenager, I remember being so enamored with someone that I wouldn't be able to sleep at night.   At the end it seems as if the cure is for her to spend time with the person she is lovesick for, but in some cases that might make it worse.  Regardless, this is a fun music video that shows what it would be like if being lovesick was treated by medical professionals.  


Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Music Review // Alex Coley & Afterlove "Hold It All"


The best idea I've ever heard about how your past can weigh you down is to imagine your past as luggage.  The more problems, the more of your past you still can't let go of, the more luggage you have.  Now imagine yourself trying to row a boat across a lake.  All the luggage that is in that boat with you makes the rowing so much more difficult.   When you shed that luggage, shed the past, the load is lighter and rowing becomes easier.

This is kind of funny because during this video by Alex Coley & Afterlove- which is what this song is about- there are images of a boat being rowed in the water.  As "Hold It All" begins with acoustics and a deep voice it turns into these trippy rock sounds with killer guitar solos.   By the end, the sound can begin to even feel spiritual, somewhere along the lines of a modern artist such as Hozier.

The chorus really gives away this song, as it says: "Give me just one little pill a day / I wish it could be easily solved / Then I wouldn't have to hold it all".  Whether it's grief, anger, anxiety, loneliness- whatever the emotion is that you're feeling and that is holding you down because you're holding on it, this song can relate with that.   Being able to step outside of yourself and experience it through the eyes of someone else should help you to move forward.

"Hold It All" ends on this really good outro of music, which can hopefully leave you to think.  There are certainly parts of the past we seemingly cannot escape.  I wish I could say there was an easy way or an easy fix for it, but there isn't that I know of.   All we can do is listen to songs like this and hopefully find some solace in knowing that we are not alone.  


Music Review // Basement Revolver "Red Light"


Basement Revolver is one of the best bands to come along in the 21st Century.  This is made apparent through their use of melodies and grunge to bring together a sound which takes me back to the late 1990's but also makes me feel that sense of modern rock.   There is just such a beauty within these sounds that I cannot describe but other artists cannot make me feel this way.

This song, "Red Light", explores a topic which I think many people would probably like to know more about and which I feel like we should all talk about more.  This is, quite literally, what they should be teaching us in schools.   The song has the whole idea of working hard and not really getting anywhere, but by the end we hear the lines "I got a red light ticket / It was more than my paycheck".

I've always wondered why tickets for motor vehicles were so expensive.  Sometimes, you can do twenty miles over the speed limit and get a ticket double the price of someone else guilty of the same crime.   So who decides what is a fair amount of money to charge for running a red light?  It certainly seems like the money being charged is too much and I think we really need to explore why this is as a society. 

On top of all of that, someone should really do a deep dive (or point me into the right direction of one) for where our money goes when we pay these tickets.   They tell us our taxes go to pay things like fixing potholes but I know of far too many that have been out there for far too long.   So ultimately, this is a pretty song by Basement Revolver that just highlights ways in which the rich get richer and the poor stay poor.  We need an uprising ever so badly and maybe this song can be a catalyst.  


Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Cassette Review // YAWNi "Clean Girls Club"


https://yawni.bandcamp.com/album/clean-girls-club-full-album


One of the things I've always believed makes for the best music is taking that classic sound and mixing it with a modern sound to create a future sound.   YAWNi does exactly this on "Clean Girls Club", as at times you can feel nostalgic while other times you can feel like you're about to be transported into the future of music.   This begins right away with the song "sorry", which is fast paced and reminds me of The Powerpuff Girls.  

As we go into the second song, "dollywood & lightening", there are these big distorted riffs which can take me back to the days of grunge but also these Janis Joplin-esque vocals which take me back to the time of classic rock.  It's Woodstock '69 and Woodstock '99 combined somehow.   A different type of distortion takes us into the third song, which is the titular track, and it has more of a rattle to it as well.  

During subsequent listens of this cassette, it is around the titular track that I realize this has those vibes of Stone Temple Pilots' "Dancing Days", but also there is a big overall Led Zeppelin vibe on this cassette.   The song "safe & sound" however has that dreamy math rock, almost skramz type of vibe and it hits that wood block, which is just such a combination of sounds that it's not quite like anything else you'll hear out there.

That clanking / ringing sound starts things right up on the flip side.   Big guitar notes lead way to what becomes almost like a surf / garage feel on "violent lou".    Almost whispered vocals come through and then it sounds live as we head back into those big, rambling chords.   This takes us into a song which is big and mathy, almost like Primus, and I do believe that Primus is name dropped in the title of the song.    

As this cassette comes to an end, "Please be kind, rewind" has that power ballad feel to it, somewhat like Buddy Holly, and it's refreshing to see an artist embrace that idea of going out with such a song as it feels like albums used to end with the ballad and don't as much any more.   Overall, YAWNi just has this way of feeling like all inclusive rock in the sense that if you've ever listened to music with a guitar in it then there is likely a part of you within this cassette and you should be listening here.