Friday, November 17, 2017

Cassette Review: 3D RealDoll Beta "3D RealDoll Beta" (Ingrown Records)


Right away, I have to admit that I have a lot of thoughts about the name 3D RealDoll Beta.   On one hand, if you ever really listen to pop music (Anything on the radio created by a big record label in an overpriced studio) it seems like we're heading towards a point in time when someone is going to create a program that generates an algorithm based upon what has been popular in the past (and by popular I mean financially successful) and thus new songs are made.   I mean, in reality if technology can find us true love it can certainly please our ears, no? 

Speaking of true love, I was on a dating site looking for friends.    I matched with this one woman and we were trading messages back and forth through the site when she says something "If you want to keep chatting like this I'm going to need a donation to my PayPal" and I'm like, man, I'm in need of friends but I'm not paying for them.    When did people become so entitled?  Can't we just generate an app that sends you messages to pretend it's your friend?  What I'm saying is, can't I have a robot friend?   But hey, at least I'm not asking you to pay to read this review, right?  That'd be straight savage (Sienna?)

As you might expect from the name this music is mainly electronic.    You can generalize a lot of things in that way though, so only by listening to each song over and over again can you pull out the qualities which make 3D RealDoll Beta stand out from the rest.   With hints of chillwave and even some funk, I am thinking of some of these songs that it could be like Will Smith having a movie about cops.   And I know, I know, Will Smith has had movies about cops but I'm thinking more along the lines of something like "Beverly Hills Cop" mixed with the Fresh Prince era of music not even that "Welcome To Miami" era of his music.

This could just as easily be put into a genre of 8bit or some level of video games.   I know that 8bit generally tends to come from the Gameboy sounds but, to me, the music reminds me more of Double Dragon or something along those lines.   Regardless, it's closer to that Nintendo style (the original Nintendo) and that's a few bits above 8bit so I don't know if that factors in at all, but yeah, I played a lot of Nintendo games that remind me of these songs.   It makes me feel like I'm off to meet the big boss.  Even something like "Punch Out" could fit with this.

A robot voice does come on at one point and begin to speak about things as if this was a video game, so that just kind of confirms that overall feeling for me, but I'm really more focused on the fact that this isn't 8bit in the sense that it's more complicated and I wonder if other subgenres of video game music exist (24bit, 32bit, etc)   There is a dance/rave style track and just some overall grinding melodies to show you how versatile this cassette can be.   It draws out some smooth jazz and can take a serious tone by the end.

Perhaps the most rewarding part of this cassette is how it is a reflection of the name, both artist and title since they are the same.    While this gives me that feeling of nostalgia based on playing video games in the 1990's, much like a robot could give you that simulated feeling of friendship or even love, it goes on to some level beyond that where it has depths and skill a robot simply could not possess- a reminder that you could feel love for a robot but it is still not true love.   If anyone wants to create a significant other app with me, do drop me an email, but I think (and hope) real human touch is always going to win out over that of what is artificial.   This music, if nothing else, proves that.


$5 //
https://ingrown.bandcamp.com/album/3d-realdoll-beta








Cassette Review: Loik "Das Zittern" (Froh & Munter Records)


No matter how many times I listen to the music of Loik, it never becomes easier to describe.   In fact, the more that I listen to it, with each new release, the more it becomes further from what I knew before.   It's odd- not a lot of artists do this- but Loik has managed to take something that could be found on cassette in the 1980's or 1990's (think: "Breakfast Club") and go from me being able to name drop influences to it really coming out on its own now where you just think of it as being Loik.

I have constant thoughts and beliefs (which often times are taken to paper) that the world of music and art is upside down.  I don't think it's just music and art as much as everything- even television and movies, politics, whatever- but to focus on music I've always been a firm believer that the best artists don't get enough attention and the ones who get all the attention are mediocre, though some have a certain level of talent.

I've wondered why this is, but I can only come to one conclusion and since I'm making lunch after I write this review (or get the portion of it I can out of my head), I will relate it with food.   What do you think is the most popular source of tacos in the United States?   The answer- in terms of money- is likely Taco Bell.   Though, far and wide, Taco Bell isn't even considered to create true tacos.   So where can you go in the U.S. to get real tacos?  Well, there is a place near me but they are slightly more expensive than Taco Bell, still, I eat there over Taco Bell all the time (shout out to Tacos Mi Nacho in Meriden, CT for always doing it right!)

So we have to really ask ourselves when as a society we began taking music and the arts for granted, when we started sacrificing quality for quantity.   I believe it was some time during the 21st Century (and I won't speculate that the fall of the cassette had anything to do with it, but someone else should) and it has only seemingly gotten worse.     This music which makes me think of my youth, more in the way of the songs from the radio and what I would hear as soundtracks in movies, might not be for everyone but it's not because it is not good-- it is just a sign of the times.

If it was any time prior to the year 2000 I feel fairly certain that Loik would be treated along the same lines as someone such as David Bowie.   He has that level of talent and yet most people would rather listen to something they can chew up and later spit out like bubblegum.    Though in a lot of ways, I will admit that I am less concerned with *why* this is the way that it is right now and more focused on how to change things. 


€3.50 //
Edition of 10 //

Music Review: Birthing Hips "Urge to Merge" (NNA Tapes)


Back when I used to attempt to go see live music (Which I barely go outside anymore, so this was years back), I would get event notifications on Facebook.   One of them was for this band called Birthing Hips from Boston and they were playing here with a couple of other bands, I think one of them was about clowns or something (Was it Crunk Witch?).   Anyway, I did what most people should do when they find out a band is playing near them and put their name into Bandcamp to see what they sound like exactly.     The first thing I obviously noticed was that their music was available on cassette and so Birthing Hips became cool with me.

Fast forward a few years later.   I'm fairly recluse.   But I get this email about Birthing Hips releasing a new album on NNA Tapes.    This has me obviously intrigued so I put it on to see what it sounds like.    It is everything I could hope for and more from Birthing Hips.   See, before "Urge to Merge" I was listening to Birthing Hips wondering how to describe their sound exactly.   It's why I've not written about them before.    But on "Urge to Merge", Birthing Hips takes those ideas of "I can't describe this" and makes them greater as they stray further from traditional sound.

What do you call a band such as Birthing Hips?   They have guitars, bass, drums and all of that, so there is that traditional rock sense underneath it all.   Their rhythm is erratic, but it is there.   This goes beyond math rock, further out there than skramz.   It's something like art rock, but it's also got that borderline thrash where it gives off this energy, perhaps an anger but not all of the songs are angry.   It's punk rock for the 21st century.    That's the best I can do to describe it.

The thing I like about the songs though- aside from their nearly impossible to describe sound- are the lyrics.   No matter how complex and overwhelming they might feel at first, be assured that if you listen to them enough times you can and will find yourself singing along.   The second track- "Belly Please"- seems to be an absurd number about what types of food the author likes and wants them all in her belly.    But if you over-analyze it you could start getting into the idea of body shaming and see it as a "More people need to eat and not care what society thinks of how they look" because too many people are unhealthy because society tells them that is beauty.

"I Want This Place Impeccable" reminds me of a song by Yvonne and the No Regrets, while "Shut Up and Leave Me Alone" exposes how creepy men can be.    I suppose you could say there is a relatable aspect to these lyrics, that they seem like stories about every day situations, but yet you could read deeper into them to find more meaning.   Somehow that could be attributed to the music itself but, I think this is one we're going to be dissecting for years to come.


$8 for Cassette //
$10 for Digital //
https://nnatapes.bandcamp.com/album/urge-to-merge

Music Review: The Ah "Common Bliss" (NNA Tapes)


As soon as I put this one on I knew I was going to like it.   There are these tones and drones which mostly are relaxing.    It's not like anything I've really heard before as it has some definite alien vibes, such as some higher species made it perhaps.   It's pleasant but that isn't even the right word to describe it.   I think of it as chillwave and to call it "blisscore" could also be accurate but only to an extent. 

Clanks bring in percussion and there are a few audio clips in here as well.   By the end of it there is even singing.   The thing with this one is, there are sounds likely being made by instruments that you can find other musicians using.   The difference between them and The Ah is how these notes are delivered.   It's as if there is a keyboard of some sort which when pressed creates a tone but that tone escapes the instrument in the form of a bubble.    Can you picture that with me?

You are probably used to music making you feel a certain way.   The best music can bring out emotions in people.   No matter what that emotion though, I have always wondered what the lasting affects would be.   Surely, one who listens to nothing but the blues would not lead a sad life.   But while a pop song, for example, can take away your worries and make you seem happy it is only for a moment.   The Ah seems to be conditioning the listener to be happier for a much longer period of time, something which I don't believe music has ever done before.


$8 for Cassette //
$10 for Digital //
https://nnatapes.bandcamp.com/album/common-bliss

Music Review: Native Sun "Songs Born From Love and Hate" (Papercup Music)



Everyone likes to sit back and think about the good old days, but were the "good old days" really so great?   I remember near the turn of the century going to this little club- which I believe has since closed down- to see the Damn Personals open for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.   It was probably one of the most rock n roll shows I've seen because of the intimacy of it.    I look back at that and think "That's rock n roll!" but people who were alive in the 1960's and 1970's might disagree with me.

So what can we do?  We can stop living in the past.   We can push forward.   The good old days might have been good, sure, but they're done.   They're over.   We need to keep moving forward.   We need to focus on what is to come rather than what has been.   There is a new face of rock n roll and their name is Native Sun.    If nothing else, please take that away from these five songs.

The thing is, when I was younger rock n roll was cool, it was dangerous.   Then something changed and it became almost wholesome (I blame Creed).    Remember when these rock n roll fused punk bands came out and all had names that started with "The"?   The Strokes, The Hives, The Vines, etc?   Yeah, Native Sun could fit in with them to an extent but I also feel like Native Sun could be their leader.

With hints of Oasis, I feel like the time for this type of psych-rock n roll to return has never been more dire.   Some may argue that it never really left so it can't return, but I disagree.   There hasn't really been a prominent band in rock n roll in quite some time and I feel like Native Sun could usher the era of rock music back in.     Not what's on the radio and not what you've heard before, Native Sun is cool and it's time to bring that back.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Music Review: Sahara "Colibris" (La Souterraine)


I got an email from Lac Souterraine recently which announced four new albums and this was one of them.   I didn't really listen to it before I downloaded it so when I found it in a folder on my flash drive, I pressed play and was somewhat surprised by it.   At first, the sounds have this instrumental electronic sound that is ambient.    It's relaxing.   It's something that people less familiar with ambient music might even consider to be boring.

Then it kicks in and boy does it kick in.   I was, admittedly, listening to this one while cleaning.   I do a lot of cleaning (Some would say too much) and as such I really need a certain level of music to motivate me.   At first I thought this was good but not the pick me up I needed to vacuum behind the couch.   Once it kicks in with the vocals though, it gives me more than enough energy that I need to clean.

Sahara would fall somewhere between rock music in a radio sense and in a math rock sense.   Female vocals with male vocals coming through at times as well flow over electronics, crunchy guitars and just a whole lot of fun.   Musically, it's somewhere between post rock and Christiansen, though with the whole math rock idea you could also think of someone such as Great Grandpa.

I described Sahara to someone I know as being a cross between The Cranberries and Metric.   That might not sound like a good enough description to you because you might just view them both as "rock bands", but the thing is, a lot of what comes out on this album isn't just from strictly the music in terms of "Oh, it sounds like this".     A lot of it is the mood which the music puts me in.   The song "Child" is one of the first I would recommend listening to if you needed a "single", but the word "stay" is sung more and I like that about it.

The title track is dreamy, blissed out and by the end we hit this point where I feel sad.   I will go back to my original statement of cleaning and by the time I had reached the end of this album I was done cleaning so it might have hit me harder than it should have, but it really felt like as this album came to an end it reached another sort of final phase-- a death.

Whether it is because it is French or not, this album has this quality of sounding like something The Beats would've made, you know, if you compare all music wiht poetry.   This would be the music that the cool kids are making and that the cool kids are listening to because of how it sounds: which is not quite like anything else.   Words cannot express how deeply I am in love with this album and Sahara.


Cassette Review: Robot "Walden III" (Resurrection Records)


For those who have read my reviews up until now, thank you, but I will also save you the trouble of explaining again why I feel this is such an important time in music because sounds of rock can be combined in such ways that the combinations seem limitless.    Robot is a perfect example of this as the songs on "Walden III" seem to take influences from nearly every time period of my life which involved rock n roll.

I wasn't alive in the 1960's or 1970's but there is a certain amount of classic rock in these songs.  I mostly know bands from that time from soundtracks to movies, but I'm sure someone who knows a bit more can pull out influences so I'm not going to try and type about what I don't know.   I think the earliest influence this brings for me is something from the 1990's, one of those so-called one hit wonder bands that I listened to enjoyed the entire album.   I'll give you a name but if you don't know it, it's ok:  Reacharound.

Elements of Superdrag come out in this straightforward, sometimes instrumental fuzzy rock and roll.    Jumping out of my own timeline, I will admit that it has this darker side to it at times which makes me think of Black Sabbath.   But in a more modern sense I would compare this with The White Stripes even though it's not quite the same.    On top of that it has elements of other bands you may not have ever heard before such as The Break and Halfacre Gunroom, both of whom I believe were extremely underrated.

The distorted style of this rock music is perfect for coming out of your speakers via cassette.   There is a certain type of rock music I feel works best on cassette and this is a prime example of it.   The hiss of the tape is just something added that other mediums cannot.   I'm hoping that this being on cassette now just adds to its overall appeal and longevity in the general sense of music.   I don't like to think that this is something which could be forgotten about in years like bands I've previously mentioned; I'd rather think of it as sticking around like The White Stripes and Black Sabbath.

It is also curious to me that this is called Robot simply because that can be taken a number of different ways.   I feel like a lot of music is made in a digital sense to the point where eventually songs will be developed by robots (And I will review them!) but I also feel like there is something definitely robotic in these songs.   It is by no means in a bad way, it's just more of a sort of idea that the songs are really well structured and just the mchanics of them are so down pat it's something any rock musician can learn from.


$5 //
Edition of 100 //