Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Cassette Review: daggers // cloaks • Blue Movies (Personal Archives)



On this split from Personal Archives I wonder why the first artist isn't "cloaks and daggers" in the sense that when you combine those two particular words they are usually in that order and not "daggers and cloaks".     But I am thankful at least that it hasn't been altered into something ridiculoud like "doaks and claggers", which as I type I feel someone has already made as an artist name.   And what are blue movies?  Are they sad?   Do they say a lot of swear words?  Is it a documentary based on The Blue Man Group?  (Sorry, I rewatched "Arrested Development" recently)   Let's find out!

Side A begins with daggers // cloaks and these songs start off with those lightsaber type whirrs, static crashes and, yeah, we go into the full fledged Star Wars.   Feedback and distortion, distortion and feedback.    Chipping through, one bit at a time, with loud bursts which make me think about electronic music for some reason.    Sharpness becomes droid sounds and I'm wondering if I should grab that book about how to speak droid and use it for music.    Electronics, mechanics and frequencies are present before the sound seems to be ending, it seems like we've reached the end of the songs.   But then they come back strong, with an undeniable loudness.

Blue Movies begin with this sort of tone that sounds almost like a horn and it's manipulated inside static and squeals.   This continues in a rhythm which uiltimately finds that bug zapper sound and I do believe that tone that sounded like a horn to me from the start is a saxaphone.   It comes out clearer as the side goes on and I can begin to identify it more clearly.     This comes crashing down, gets sharp enough to chase one of the cats out of the room, and then has this build like a helicopter.      The first time I was listening to this, a loud beeping came from the outside-- I still cannot explain why-- and I had to immediately pause this cassette because it did somehow sound like it could've been coming from here.

This split cassette serves as a reminder to me that sometimes the best artists are the ones you have not yet heard.   Despite what is going on outside (ohmygodineedtostayoffsocialmedia) or in the "mainstream" there are still artists out there making music that I can listen to and appreciate and for that I am thankful.     Plus, the fact that all of this revolves around cassettes is never a bad thing either.


$5 // Edition of 50 // https://personalarchives.bandcamp.com/album/c40-split







Cassette Review: Last Remaining Pinnacle “To Dream”/”What’s Your Sign” (Custom Made Music)


Normally, my first thoughts about this cassette would be the two songs on one side aspect of it.    I've actually given more thought to this than I probably should have, but yes, there are two songs on both sides and in theory it'd be more like a true cassingle to put one song per side.    However, the more that I listen to this the more that I enjoy the fact that the two songs are together for some reason.   When Side A is done, I take it out, flip it and listen to the songs all over again.    If I had to do that in between songs it might seem tidious.

While these two songs are definitely connected they also have their own identity.   "What's Your Sign?" starts with someone asking that, but on a larger scale these songs are almost polar opposites under the same umbrella.    "To Dream" has this quality of rock with elements of psych and there are vocals.     It's something like that one album I know Sprung Monkey from mixed with something else from the glory days of rock n roll (Think Neil Young or The Doors but not)   "To Dream" is a great song on its own, but then "What's Your Sign?" is a guitar fueled jam session that in ways can be very much like "To Dream" but in other ways it is not.

I still don't really feel like I have a good comparison for Last Remaining Pinnacle and that's ok.    Back in the 1990's I was into a lot of different types of music (Though I still am now) and one of the bands that always stuck with me was Jimmie's Chicken Shack.   I'm not saying that LRP sounds like JCS, but it's just that same sort of scene-- I could see them playing together, at least back in the 90's.    Or at the time- as I was living in CT- I could picture LRP as being the type of band that came through town, to the Webster Theatre in Hartford, and opened for some other band I was going to see and that's how I fell in love with them.   I don't know why but for some reason I want to say... Fishbone.

Aside from the music, there is a connection between these two songs which I feel can be best explained by their titles.    If you've ever been to a book store you will know that there are a decent number of books out there about astrology but also about interpreting dreams.   In that way, I feel like these songs go together but at the same time stand apart because people who are into astrology might not want to read about what dreams mean (and vice versa), but there is a good chance that the person shares the two similar ideas and, yes, somehow that does translate to this music.


Cassette Review: Arvo Zylo "Sequencer Works Volume Three" (Personal Archives)


Right away you have to notice that this is the third volume of collected works by Arvo Zylo and- spoiler alert- it is the final volume, three of three, and whether or not you want to go find the previous two which came before this and listen to them as well remains up to you.   I think after you listen to this one you'll want to go find the other two, but listening to the last one first doesn't really seem to be a big deal.  

What can be described as electronic looping sometimes finds video games sounds mixed in.    There are these little noise blips, but then it can become industrial as well, with some grinding.   At one point it begins to add layers one by one and that's pretty neat.    This takes us into a track which sounds like straight up video game play and I enjoy it.   I wonder if people started recording only the audio of their video gaming if that could become a genre of music I listen to (Would it maybe need a beat behind it?)

Shots are fired and there is electronic laughing now.    It grows quieter, sounds coming out in random intervals.   The percussion sounds like horse clopping and then it goes back into this rhythm, a pattern of sorts I cannot describe but do enjoy ever so much.    Big distorted beats bring out a sound I've always been a fan of and then we find grooves and beats on the final track on Side A, which features the most powerful and soulful voice of Atalee Judy.    Wow.  Just wow on that last track.

Side B follows all of this up with a beep sort of drone that can stray off into other electronic sounds and just in general break up that drone.   It's quite unique in terms of other drone music out there and since I haven't mentioned it yet, this isn't actually from 2017 or recorded more recently it's actually over a decade old and as such is rather ahead of its time.   It has those sci-fi movie from the 1950's feels to it as well.     The video game sound returns as if we are some sort of arcade and I'm loving it because I used to go to arcades in my younger years.

As the music continues there are patches of manipulated static, blasts, bursts and a sound that I know is static somehow but sounds like water leaking out of something.   It goes from this fun video game vibe into this almost polar opposite sound because it's got the same sort of rhythm and pattern to it in a sense, but the delivery is just... it's like going from an electric guitar to acoustic except with different instruments.    There is also this chugging, like a locomotive.     It eventually also comes out with these doorbell type ringing sounds-- it's like glass and has a pretty melody to it.

Before it all comes to an end, we have some vocals come out including on a cover of Flipper's "Life is Cheap" and, yeah, this is one of the greatest cassettes I've ever heard and I'm already looking into more music by Arvo Zylo.   I suggest you do the same.


$6 // Edition of 100 // https://personalarchives.bandcamp.com/album/sequencer-works-volume-three








Cassette Review: Ballad Of Geraldine "Another Cigarette" (Custom Made Music)


As soon as I press play on this cassette I'm in love.   I can't stop listening to it.   I know there should be more modern influences to refer to Ballad of Geraldine, but there simply are not.   Should we blame the current crop of musicians for wanting to sound a certain way?  Should we blame the past for not having enough influence because even in there I struggle to find the sources?    No.   I think what I've best determined is that it takes a special kind of talent to create music such as this and it's simply a matter of not everyone having it.

The songs have this alternative rock/grunge feel to them, though in the 1990's "alternative" meant something different than it does now (There are so many musicians making the same tired garage pop punk album), but I'm impressed that we can still have the idea of alternative rock because there is still music which we need to turn off.   From something from "The Crow" soundtrack to L7 or 4 Non Blondes, this has a distinct style that is dark and brooding but also melodic.    Again, I am both sad and surprised it has no real modern comparison.

One thing I feel like I need to point out here is that as a true testament to just how great Ballad of Geradline truly are, this cassette made me realize something about music of my past.   Whether or not you want to admit it, when you look back to the days of grunge, there were bands fronted by women but they were always kind of seen as second best to those fronted by men, wouldn't you agree?   To give you a very specific example and skip straight to the point, I think people liked the idea of Hole because Courtney Love is a woman and there is a certain appeal to the music, but at the end of the day, woman or man fronting the band, Hole was simply not creating music on the same level as Nirvana.

So when I look back at these artists (And, jeez, I saw Poe open for Seven Mary Three once) I realize that they did hold that stigma-- not just Hole but really any band from that time, I think, had that idea of "Yeah, you're good, but you'll never be on the same level as Pearl Jam or Soundgarden or Smashing Pumpkins".     And don't get me wrong, there are a lot of great artists from that time (Belly, Juliana Hatfield, Veruca Salt) but I just feel like they were always seen as less than the bands fronted by men.    On this cassette though, Ballad of Geraldine makes music that has that progression that Nirvana did.   They even can draw influences from later grunge rockers like Campground Effect.

It's just strange to me that for so long these artists were seen as second best and I didn't really notice it until now-- it didn't click with me until now-- because I simply did not hear a band that was on the same level as a Nirvana or Soundgarden until Ballad of Geraldine.   So, any time music can teach me I consider it to be a positive, but this also just has a great rock sound that needs to be heard both through this cassette and live I'd imagine.


Cassette Review: Dream Vacation "Exude Sorry" (Personal Archives)


In between the world of punk rock, rock n roll and a little bit of that hardcore feel exists a genre that I can never quite put my finger on but always seem to enjoy the bands which live in it.   Seriously, if anyone knows the name for this genre please tell me because I don't think there is one.

Sometimes, you can describe the sound of a band by thinking of it like a recipe where different elements are combined to form a new sound.   This could be applied to Dream Vacation but really only in the sense that they do have hints of other bands but they don't always come out at the same time.    One thing I can hear in these songs throughout this entire cassette is Hot Water Music so we'll just put that out there first.

Other bands that I can hear in these songs include Halfacre Gunroom, Rise Against, Piebald and 1000 Mona Lisas.    Now, the amount of the first two of those bands is minimal but what you have to understand about the other two is that they go back and forth.   I never really hear Piebald and 1000 Mona Lisas at the same time-- they seem to take turns on songs.    When Piebald is more present the songs have those punk rock chords I love and just seem more... I don't want to say melodic, but there is a different vibe.

When there are the sounds of 1000 Mona Lisas (Look specifically into their song about rather dying than having to touch you) it has more an angry sound.    It's not easy to describe unless you are familiar with both of these bands, but this does create a rather original sound for Dream Vacation and one that I certainly enjoy.

If you have ever watched a game show such as "The Price Is Right", the term Dream Vacation might mean something different to you than it does to me.   For years, I've struggled with being able to tell the difference between dreams and reality at times.    In that sense, going to sleep, going to that other life, can provide a sort of vacation from reality.   That's how I like to think of the name.   But their song "Empty Head" says it best: "We find the strangest ways to cope with the pain".


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Cassette Review: Odd Person "Junk Tropics" (Bicephalic Records)


Have you ever had a name in your head so long that it began changing for you?  I am familiar with Odd Person, so it is not like me to mix this up but for a little while I had thought of this as "Odd Tropics", which I googled and is not a thing but sounds like someone who could open for Com Truise, no?   Also, to switch the other names then means we'd have "Junk Person", which I'm totally behind because I wouldn't think of it as being someone who collects trash but rather as someone who is just a horrible person.

"Junk Tropics" opens with some clanking and banging that sounds like crystal dishes to me.    Beeping tones come into the groove and then it takes on synth which remind me of Knight Rider.   It has this funk to it as well.    It turns into something downright funky.    We move that funk to some steel drum rhythm which is a smooth transition and you never realize how much you truly enjoy percussion until you hear it played in a way such as this.   The beats turn to something like jungle music and it's actually a lot of fun just to hear how there are various elements in this music but it is lead by percussion.

On the flip side, we have beats and these notes which sound like a certain instrument (such as a recorder) but they also feel like they could be audio clips manipulated in a certain way-- sort of making the words turn into these little beeps and it's so strange but so refreshing to hear.    You know, the notes just seem muted or cut off somehow.     This side also takes us to somewhere deeper, like that basement feel but partially like we're underwater as well.  I don't know why but I am reminded of when they got stuck in the trash room in Star Wars and, yeah, that scene kind of got stuck in my head for a bit during my childhood.

As I think of Star Wars there is a lightsaber feel to end this cassette on and overall the more that I listen to this the more I think of it as being percussion-based, though that shouldn't discredit any of the other aspects of it.   I wanted to think of the artist name I created "Odd Tropics" as being someone who could open for Com Truise and that sort of artist, but the more I think about it and listen to "Junk Tropics", I feel like Odd Person could open for Com Truise and fit into that sort of genre while also standing out above the pack.


$5 // https://bicephalicrecords.bandcamp.com/album/junk-tropics





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Cassette Review: Denzel Curry "13" (Loma Vista)


For over twenty years I've been listening to hip hop.   To say that I've been listening to it since the beginning seems like a stretch though because I was just a kid back then (Though in my teens)    But I still don't feel like hip hop was really that strong or found its success for the first time until after 1980 which brought with it the advent of the cassette.   So when I think about how I grew up listening to my rap cassettes, I really do feel like there is that entire culture based on cassettes and not just for me personally.   So to be able to enjoy this Denzel Curry cassette is something I am truly grateful to be a part of in 2017.

Of all the rappers I've listened to from past to present, I can honestly say I've never heard one like Denzel Curry before.    I've listened to (and do right now still) a lot of what I think to be slower rappers, more like the chill type of rap, and that's fine.   Back before this there was fun rap and that had some levels of energy to it but in a different way.   Denzel Curry has this punk rock attitude to his rap.   His beats hit hard and his lyrics hit harder and faster.    If I could be so bold as to compare it to boxing, I feel like a lot of other rappers have this idea of wearing out the other fighter with numerous body blows whilst Denzel Curry provides that one knockout punch.

I think we've all seen that viral video where some teenage kid supposedly raps a lot of words in a short period of time.   The difference between that kid and how fast Denzel Curry raps is that Denzel Curry actually fully pronounces all of his words, something other rappers who claim to rap fast simply cannot do and there is an entire subculture of rap based around this with a lot of debate so you can google that for yourself and go down that rabbithole.  (But, yes, Denzel Curry does speak each of his words unlike others I won't mention by name but can point you to that virl video from some years back)

While this cassette features only four songs, each one hits harder than the one before it which seems impossible since he starts off by claiming he's the ultimate and dropping a lot of f-bombs (which, again, I believe holds true to that punk rock style)   His lyrics are amazing if you can catch them all and my favorite thing about this is that I've always been fascinated by music that I can't make-- that it is just too good.   If you listen to a song by another rapper... let's say Dr. Dre "G Thang", which is a classic.   It's easy to rap along with it and even have all of the words memorized yourself.    But I feel like that is something which I- and a lot of other people- will never be able to do with the music of Denzel Curry.  

Put this one on loud.   Either out of your car or your stereo at home.   This is what you should be playing as loud as you possibly can if you want people around you to take notice.    And, well, Denzel Curry is undoubtedly the future of hip hop so listen to him now before everyone is talking about him and you feel left out because, uh... the future starts right now.