Friday, May 18, 2018

"Waves" [Music Video Premiere]
+ [Interview]

Watch the Music Video for "Waves" by clicking here:

1) I tried googling it to no avail.  What is a Hemmit?
I heard a rumor it was the name of a friend of a friend's dog. If that's true, I'm thinking it was a larger dog, possibly with a spiked collar and an owner named Russ.

2) I grew up with music videos in the 1990's.   A lot of times, seeing a new video on Mtv would help me to purchase an album from that artist.  Do you feel like music videos can still play such a vital role in connecting people with new music?

I always like seeing a totally weird and cryptic video from a band -- like WTF was that? Replay! If it's done well, a video completes the song and brings a fresh dimension to it while giving you a peek inside the artist's head. I think the connection comes across best though if the artist had a hand in the creative process. If you just leave it to the director you're going to get a video where he says "OK guys, everyone look left and point, that's super!". I'd rather see something lo-fi and genuine over a big-budget production that has no soul.

3) Do you feel as if the style going into the music video is sometimes as important as the song itself?
The style is the thing that taps into the emotions that drove the song in the first place. It's also another space to tell the story. The look, the colors, the feel of the images -- all that has to be true to the song. If I start getting goosebumps when playing back a cut of a video I'm working on, I know I'm getting to that place. And sometimes you'll find an entirely new narrative for the song that only comes across in the visuals. It's another canvas to throw stuff at.

4) What are some of your personal favorite music videos?
The one that got me inspired for "Waves" was The Black Angels "Currency". Not the performance video, the visualizer one. Check it out, so cool with those video synthesis effects. Courtney Barnett "Dead Fox". A quirky and funny animated video that matches the song perfectly. The Beastie Boys "What Cha Want". Great song and amazing lo-fi visuals. I'm not a big Duran Duran fan, but "Rio" was the quintessential 80's music video. Wearing suits on a yacht, taking a landline phone call from a raft. Classic.

5) What is the music scene like in Portlandia right now?
There are way too many ukelele's, banjos and fiddles around, and overly-earnest music is still worshiped, but thankfully there are pockets of electronica, hip-hop, rock and other genres that are still going strong. I'd say overall it's a pretty supportive environment. If you're doing something you're passionate about, people respect it. On the East Coast (I moved out here from DC in the early 2000's) the question was always "where do you work?". Here it's "what do you like to do?". 

6) Would you ever consider releasing your music on cassette?
I totally would. I'd include a Bic pen with the cassette so if it got eaten by your car's tape player you could easily wind it back up again. 

7) Final thoughts, shout outs, etc... ??

Trust your instincts and do what you love. But don't expect to get paid for it. Shout out to college radio and RBG for all the generous support!

Cassette Review:

$6 //
Edition of 10 // //

This begins with these beats and vocals mixed in which sound very energetic, very raucous.   It reminds me of Atari Teenage Riot, only in a more modern sense.   This takes us into a song that's much more chillwave, closer to the ambient synth beats now.    Words are on repeat but I'm not sure if they're live as I think they are an audio clip.   This could be vaporwave.   Louder beats come through now in a pop way.    It has a tropical, island vibe to it like that crab from "The Little Mermaid" but there are audio samples behind it that make it not quite as pop.

As the pace picks up now, the clips of speaking are still there but this has pumped itself up somewhere between "Weird Science" and "Run Lola Run".   It has an urgency to it, but I still feel as if someone could say "It's allliiiiiiiivvvee" at any time.   It gets a bit of a harsh drone and then all wraps up neatly.   Haunted demon vocals bring about these industrial beats.    This is even borderline instrumental hip hop.    I'm pretty sure he's telling me to give up so why not.    The music shifts to something like a video game but also a very 1980's/early 1990's synth vibe.

The beats are still strong though- whether chill or faster paced.    It seems to alternate now with this track- sometimes it's that really fast electronic that could go into techno and then it just all kind of freezes and feels like instrumental hip hop.    That funky synth comes through next which reminds me a little bit of "Ghostbusters", which I know, given the name is kind of funny.    This has a lot of energy no matter what era of music it's from (past, present or future tense) but I really appreciate that it is on cassette.

If you've ever watched a movie from the 1980's or early 1990's you'll see a lot of musical montages.    Perhaps one of the most famous would be when Ferris Bueller is running home in an attempt to get there before his parents do.   These types of things would occur in most movies though and that's what this reminds me of in a lot of ways before it goes back into this more industrial based grinding sound.    Video game lasers come through as well and this goes back to that lighter '80's feel.

"This is what you want"
         "This is what you get"

Ambient hues take us home, as we briefly have this uplifting experience like one who dies and rises up to Heaven, though in fairness a lot of this cassette has a heavier side to it which would probably summon Satan, so, who really knows, right?  What if you hear those uplifting tones and think "Oh, cool, I'm going to Heaven" but Satan's just fucking with you because, you know, he's Satan.

These songs may feel short but when they're all put together they make this one collected piece that seemingly must be heard.    If nothing else, these songs should leave you thirsty for more and, yeah, that's kind of a play on the label name somehow I guess.

Record Review:
His Name Is Alive
"Black Wings"
(Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records)

$20 //
Edition of 500 // //

One thing people need to know about me is that just because I'm such a big advocate for physical media in regards to music, I have never been opposed to digital music.  I enjoy the fact that people in any country can hear music from any other country.   When I first began writing about music, with AOL and all that being the norm at the time, it felt nearly impossible to get access to music outside of the United States unless it was a major label.   So being big on physical media (as I am) doesn't mean I am anti-digital.    In fact, I often enjoy instances such as with this record when I can hear a song such as "Energy Acceleration" prior to hearing the entire record.

If you follow me on SoundCloud (and if you don't, you should) I gave the song "Energy Acceleration" a "like" and "repost" before I got this double LP.   That happens to be the second song on here, so once I pressed play and heard the lines "In light of creation / send your light to this location" lines I thought, "Yeah! That's familiar! I remember that!" and there was no going back from that point.  I was in.   If you have not had a similar experience with me as this, I still feel there are a lot of ways in which you can find yourself getting wrapped up in this double LP.

The thing, for me, about this being a double LP is that you have to think as each side as their own little album in a way, and yet, you might not want to take them as EPs on their own though.   It doesn't really make sense, but it's one of those things where each of the four sides could stand on its own and each of the two records could stand on their own, but they just feel so much better together.   I suppose it's like a good series of films in that way, but I can't think of one right now except for maybe Kevin Smith's "Clerks".

Side A has a rather light feel to it.   It's angelic with a large focus on the harmonies.   It's like the deserts miss the rain.   There is a feeling of Fleetwood Mac and maybe even Blondie in here (maybe even a tad bit of Enya) but it just has that overall vibe of being something focused mostly on the vocals as they sing with oooh's and ahhhh's behind them, often in place of instruments of other function.     In that sense, there is a certain feel of Wilson Phillips in here as well, which isn't a bad thing at all.

On the flip side (which is B) things start off in a distorted video game way.   Eventually, about halfway through, there are vocals which I believe to be in French, but this is just dreamy.   There are pianos and then for the first time on the record it just kicks into this loud rock like The White Stripes or Hendrix reaching for that higher ground.   There is this killer guitar solo which takes Side B to its end but what you have to understand is that it is quite different from Side A in the sense that it is louder but it also has more of the video game feel overall versus the lighter rock side of what was previously heard.

C just opens up and lets it all hang out with some psych-classic rock.   Big drums come smashing in and that distorted video game feel returns, but mostly, this is just loud and banging like The Who.  (Which at times, I also think of this as being a concept album not too much unlike "Tommy", so, there's also that)   A feeling of a triumphant "Double Dragon" takes us into loud thrash punk followed by these organ tone loops which are eerie, like something out of "The X-Files".    Really loud, wicked guitar riffs can be heard as well and I don't mean wicked in the New England way but rather a little evil.

This takes us back into that wild rock feel as most of C is instrumental.    These tones like a video game are still in here and then the singing does return but only for a little bit.  Darker pianos and only the pianos take over before a classical guitar riff, like something out of Beethoven.     Big rocking guitars continue on Side D while there is this steady rhythm and I'm thinking of the Veruca Salt song "Seether".   Bits of Tom Petty take us into synths with vocals and more of a nice rock feel I can't quite put my finger on but would likely be somewhere along the lines of The Cardigans perhaps.

Acoustic strums and singing which remind me of Foo Fighters bring about a somewhat video game somewhat not loop to end it all on, which really does cement those Who comparisons in my mind, which is not a bad thing at all.    In many ways I feel like they used up a lot of the vocals on Side A and thus the other three sides don't have as many of them and are more instrumental, but yet, even when it's just the piano keys it's still speaking and it has this way where the music just takes control. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Cassette Review:
Helena Deland
"From the Series of Songs "Altogether Unaccompanied" Vol. I & II"

$7 // //

"From the Series of Songs "Altogether Unaccompanied" Vol. I & II" is a collection of four songs, two per side on this cassette, and so I assume this means there are also only two songs per volume.   Based on the title this just seems like it should be a much larger collection of music- maybe even a double cassette, I don't know- but who am I to decide what an artist does.

On Side A, which would be Vol. I, the songs are upbeat.   It has this feeling like No Doubt, but, you know, that album that came after the one with "Just A Girl" on it.   There are also slight hints of Sheryl Crow, which is not a bad thing.   Usually I see Sheryl Crow in a RIYL field and run the other way but this is one time her name comes out and I think it's acceptable.

The flip side opens with a song which is a bit more like PJ Harvey, with melodies, beats and just this overall darkness to it.    By the last side you'll hear this certain amount of guitar based soul that will have you thinking of the 1990's and though the comparison point might be different for you I'm feeling a Tracy Chapman vibe.

Most artists have various influences but they all reside within the same genre.   It's easy enough to put someone in comparison with three or four artists under the rock banner and yet have this new sound created still because most genres are vast.   Helena Deland doesn't just span across different artists within the same genres, but rather this music spans across genres itself and if you're looking for something geniune this is where it's at.

Cassette Review:
Healers "i"
(Ingrown Records)

$6 //  //
🎧 //

If you look up Healers on Discogs, you'll find this artist linked to another artist who hasn't put music out since 1990.    Is this the same Healers who put out "Secret Show" in 1990?  I don't know for sure, but I'm just going by how Discogs has it linked up.   According to the Ingrown Bandcamp page, however, Healers is a project from Will who, among other projects, might best be known to readers of Raised by Gypsies as being a part of Alosi Den.   I actually didn't realize these side projects of Alosi Den existed until now (Goat Lightning, The Goat, Earth Tones) but I will have to check them out now for sure.

Static skips take us into this deep, dark void to start things off.   Some voices come through here as well, which have that trapped spirit/ghost type of vibe going on.    This just sort of trails off and then these tones come in next which make me feel like I'm sitting near a koi pond.    Drums kick in and then so do vocals and this has a rather trippy feel to it overall.    As it fades back to the instrumental there are plucks here and it just feels like a somewhat breezy but also nice day outside.

Higher pitched vocals now come out through what could be something from the 1990's, along the lines of Porno for Pyros or Blind Melon.   It still has this psychedelic feeling to it, but it's rather easy to get wrapped up in.    The flip side keeps this alive, as it comes out a bit louder, distorted and then this guitar note comes screeching through as well.   Vocals are underneath it all, but you can still hear them coming out through this slow destruction.    Some skips like helicopters and then a more back and forth tone comes through as this seems to be drifting into something surreal.

Vocals slowly sneak back in and there are these dark organs as well.  It turns into this sound of someone banging something and then soft footsteps.   A typewriter comes through like there is an urgent newsstory.  Breaking news! Breaking news!  Samples of music and singing come through in pieces as if the radio station is being changed.   The two blend together now in a certain form of chaos.   Why am I feeling like there is some Zeppelin in here?   Sounds like screams come out and then it maintains a calmer rhythm.    The typewriter persists right up until the end, then a slight bit of something comes out before it's over.

I'd say that this cassette from Healers does exactly what it should and more.   If you have never heard of any of the projects related to Healers before (And shame on you because you should've at least heard of Alosi Den by now if you're on this site) then this would be a nice gateway drug to take you to those other sounds and yet on its own this just stands as such a great trip it's one you must take.  I recommend earbuds and in the dark for optimum experience.

Cassette Review:
(Niagra Tapes)

$4 // //
🎧 //

Static bursts bring out a bugzapper type drone which sends this into a distorted space that makes me think of that old "Return of the Jedi" Atari game.   Whirrs come whooshing through and they circulate now.   Somewhat like frequencies as well, this has a space war sound to it.    It really begins kind of squealing in here, as it feels like the frequency is being changed.    It begins to crackle now like some sort of electronic outerspace fire.     This takes us into these Droids/modem sounds.    There is a rather bit of a Star Wars feel to this, as the electronics come through in all sorts of ways but feel like scratching at times too.

There is somewhat of a glitch feel to this, but I'm not even sure if it would be glitch electronics or rather glitch video game, but it ultimately seems to be taking us into uncharted territory.   The way these electronics come through it's much more than I feel like I've heard before at once like this but it just makes for such an interesting sound-- some sort of glitch symphony in a way even.    It can feel slightly haunted like the movie "Pulse" but there are also parts where laser shots are fired so I really feel like we're in a space craft during an alien invasion (now whether we are on Earth or actually in space is up to you)

Skips can come across in an aggressive way as well and I feel like we're experiencing someone getting frustrated while playing an arcade game but from the standpoint from somewhere within the game rather than outside of it, in a human sense.   This ringing sort of drone feels like the dust settling and that takes us off into the sunset as this all comes to a close, the enemies all defeated and life can continue on though it will never be the same as it was before.

On the flip side there is sharpness to be found in the static.   It's this distorted field where it feels like tires are screeching to a crash.  Ka-boom.    Wind tunnels.    Sounds like water add to this effect and it feels like a tornado, as things could be blowing away.   What happens when a tornado hits a body of water?  Could it sound like this in the eye of the storm?   Static is coming through choppy now.    A louder screech comes through and then it all stops.   Distortion and the sharpness return right where they left off.   This feels like quite the storm.

Somehow it sounds like a hamster running in its wheel before this drop tone laser comes through.   More static, still in that windstorm.   Screeches come through and you really have to listen to this one with earbuds in to get all of these intricate details out of what is happening within these sounds.   If you should really feel brave, I would suggest putting this into your waterproof Walkman and going out in a storm and listening to it.  Hey, I was in a tornado warning last night and people were still using the drive up ATM so at least your plan would be for art, right?

Voices can faintly be heard in the background as the static whooshes in cyclical rhythm.    Chops like a helicopter, then it stops, comes back again and voices are still back there.    This feeling of an engine starts and stops, the voice coming through with it and not.   An airplane buzzing now.   The music all comes to a stop and only someone talking remains.    "I hope he forgives me / I didn't mean to start an argument" starts up some louder words, which feel like a computer generated voice is making them and it's something I'd like to sample to play for people who call me but it also has such fascinating placement.

Two voices seem to discuss art now with one saying "A child could paint that".   This is a conversation more people should have about art really.  I've seen things which I felt were easy enough to paint, simple in a sense, and the thing is, if it's so easy and it's so simple, why didn't *you* do it?   Ideas can often look simple and easy in retrospect, but all too often credit is not given for thinking them up.   These excerpts of English are quite interesting as well.  "As soon as I can I'm going to change jobs".    "He remembers my name but he doesn't really know me" is the last thing said and how true is that for so many of us?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Record Review:
"Flesh Colored Paint"
(Slovenly Recordings)

$13.50 //
Edition of 100 //

When I was younger I used to watch "Newsradio" in syndication with my sister and we'd see commercials for compilation CDs you could order by phone.  Since everything has gone digital, such ads have become a thing of the past (I believe) but there was always this one compilation that stuck with me and it had that "greasers" type of music feel to it.   I didn't know the entire song back then but I'd know parts of it like "Teen Angel" and "Why Must I Be A Teenager In Love". 

I relate that style of music most with Buddy Holly and I've always wanted to get deeper into the artists who were around in the 1950's and 1960's (but more towards the '50's) and making that leather jacket wearing, teenage rebellion type of rock n roll.   Back when you could go to the malt shop and race cars or whatever.   It's somewhere between "Happy Days" and the old "Archie" comics-- both of which still hold up today for me.  With the garage style having made its comeback (or some say never really going away) I feel maybe instead of going back to the past I should focus on the present and future more.

"Flesh Colored Paint" as a record opens with the title track.   The actual first words are about donkeys wearing shoes and this is a conversation I've had too many times recently, but why isn't there an emoji for a donkey?    This song comes through hard, but in a rock n roll from the 1950's type of way and it's just a great way to start any album really because when you hear it there is a quality which lures you in.   It's not anything specific about the music or lyrics as much as there is just this vibe that it's cool, like The Fonz.

The music of Subsonics can range from Bob Dylan and Lou Reed to "Stuck In The Middle With You".    It's groovy garage and there is a little bit of a scary punk rock quality to it as well.     At times this can remind me of The Cramps and yet with a song like "I Believe I Don't Believe" I can really hear the Elvis/Buddy Holly influence coming through.    As with those who came before this though, Subsonics just have a unique voice in a style which, with songs like "Johnny Left Hand" can remind me of that song "My Boyfriend's Back", even with the backing vocals.

Lyrically, you can find yourself quoting this one quite a bit.   These songs can be of that rock n roll quality from the 1950's where they even are around two minutes as well so it's got this pop feel, but the difference between these and the songs of the past is I feel as if these lyrics have more depth to them.   Even in the opening titular track we must ponder "If nothing is real, then nothing is fake", which is likely something you could write an entire paper about in your college philosophy class.

From  taking a seat in the back and trying to find places to hide to being the most popular boy in town, many of the songs also have lyrics which are based around the titles.   When I first listened to this I wrote in my notes that "he sings about how he must be poison to the tune of 1950's rock n roll" and that song is called "I Must Be Poisoned".    "Die A Little" is a perfect ballad, both lyrically and musically.   One of my favorite aspects of this record as well is that the Bandcamp only lets you stream four songs, which I feel puts an emphasis on you buying the actual record, which really you should.

If for some reason the first song doesn't immediately hook you on this record and make you feel like that Fry meme of "Shut up and take my money", then the next song is called "Why Should Anybody Care At All" which is just the perfect anthem for apathy, hands down one of my favorites on this album and perhaps in general as well.   So whether you're going to have a clambake or just want an appreciation for the finer music in life, I would definitely say this record is essential for every music collection because these are songs I just don't ever see myself not listening to-- even fifty years from now they will hold up and you'll want to be listening to them for as long as you possibly can.