Sunday, October 22, 2017

Music Review: sardashhh "carnelia"


It's been a minute since I last caught up with sardashhh.    The thing that I like about sardashhh is that this music transcends that sort of typical ideal of electronic music.   You know how you can listen to something such as grunge, for example, and hear the different sounds and voices and right away know whether it is Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, STP, etc?   I feel like sardashhh does that for electronic-based music: I can hear this and recognize it as such because it has that unique fingerprint on it.

Beats, tones, lasers, shakers, in some sense this can be minimal electronics and at other times it can rage with the drum machine beats and chaos.     There are hints of video games but not a large overall feel of them.   This would definitely be the soundtrack to a movie I'd watch though I have no idea what genre I would put it in (Somewhere between futuristic sci-fi and outerspace alien encounters, like The Matrix vs. Star Wars)

On the song "rivered" there is this talking briefly over the beats but then that is seemingly replaced by what sounds like horns but is likely synths.    In this track of sporatic drums, there are also these tones that make me think I have some sort of notification on my phone.    Between text messages, emails, eBay, Twitter telling me about Trump (Which has got to stop) and event reminders in the calendar, I'm never sure what noise my phone is making but it always seems to be doing something. 

I like (and fully support) the idea of messing with people in that sense though, just like I feel like most people should hide cop sirens in their songs so if you're listening to it while driving you think you're getting pulled over.   Maybe I'm just an asshole.   But maybe this particular sound in this song will have you checking your phone to wonder what that notification was for and that has me pleased.

As the songs progress, you'll feel like you've left Earth and you've found yourself being taken into space.    It has this fairly grounded feel to it when you first press play, but ultimately you hear those spaced invaders ideas and it's as if you've been transported off of this planet in some magical, wonderful journey.   All too often, music seems to start at one place and when you are finished listening to it you feel like you are left in that same space.     The fact that sardashhh can take you away is not only important for music overall, it is somewhat essential to you as a human being as well. 


$3 Download //
https://sardashhh.bandcamp.com/album/carnelia

Friday, October 20, 2017

Music Review: Ryan Power "They Sell Doomsday" (NNA Tapes)


As a writer, I've found that one obstacle which is difficult to overcome at times is deciding why you like a particular piece of music.   What I feel happens- and I'm not saying this about any particular writer though you probably know some who fit the mold- is that as writers we get so used to our ways we don't even think about whether or not we like anything-- we just like it.    It's as if we live in a bubble, and so it is easy to say "Well, this is a cassette and I like cassettes, so I like this".    I'm sure there are some publications out there who suffer from this (Again, not naming names), but they're too comfortable in their own little music worlds and since a specific press person usually sends them good music they have been conditioned (aka grown lazy) and therefore say anything sent by said publicist is the next big thing. 

This, my friends, is the answer to the question as to why people who don't have talent become famous and more importantly why people who are seemingly so talented are not nearly as well known as those who are less talented.   As an example, if you think the best rappers in the world are on the radio I could argue that you know nothing about hip hop.    Still, it makes me sad because someone like Ryan Power might be looked over simply for not being "on the cool list" (Which, yes, such a thing exists) and thus goes unnoticed by those who could perhaps benefit from his music most (Which, in a word, is everyone)

I always like to ask myself why I like a particular piece of music.   So much music gets submitted to me: why did I download this one?  Why did I choose to write about it?  The answer has to be something more than "Well, the label totally got me backstage passes for their show and my girlfriend loves them".    For this Ryan Power album I must admit that I was sold on the title.   I thought (somewhat foolishly I will admit now) that this was going to be some kind of post-apocalyptic sci-fi end of the world type of feel.  I wanted destruction.   I wanted terror.   I wanted brutality.   I wanted chaos and carnage.   And of those things, I found none.

That's what made me click the link.   That's what made me press play.   But even though I didn't find what I was expecting, I found something that I've not quite heard before.   Ryan Power has this style that sounds familiar but in reality you can't place it to any specific artist or even sound.    I imagine some jazz singer in some dimly lit club fell in love with someone like Frank Sinatra, had a kid and that's kind of what this is like.    There is a pop element to it in the sense that it's pleasant on the ears.  If you put it on in a room full of people the majority probably wouldn't object based upon the tone.

But he isn't afraid to drop an f-bomb here or there, as he sings the song of a crooner it might feel out of place though I keep reminding myself that this is 2017 and this is unlike anything I've ever heard before.    As a big fan of Stone Temple Pilots, I have to give a nod on this one to Scott Weiland, who had this same sort of style as a solo artist (or at least he likely could have), as I listen to this and think of the hidden track on their second album. 

Depending upon your upbringing you will relate this with different aspects of your life.   For me, I enjoy how much he can sing the title without a care in the world.   I imagine a boat- maybe "Love Boat", but it doesn't have to be- and on this boat there is a lounge with a singer.   A lot of movies and television shows go into these sort of cruise ship parties.   "Bob's Burgers" did it and Gene fell in love with a puppet.   ANYway, I imagine this boat is sinking.   They're know they're going down.   They're all going to die and there is nothing that anyone can do to stop it.    These are the songs being sung in that musical lounge.



"They Sell Doomsday" is available on CD, vinyl and digitally here:

https://ryanpower.bandcamp.com/album/they-sell-doomsday

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Cassette Review: Cancer Lake / Bullshit Market (Personal Archives)


The way this cassette is presented I feel like Bullshit Market should be Side B but this is was how it was rewound so here we go.   This begins with a loud burst of static.    There are some frequency type sounds and then an audio clip is spliced in because I hear someone talking.    He knows you don't have a scale.   This goes back into this haunted distortion sound.    While the static has the normal distorted wall sound you'd expect there is this element of technology mixed with it somehow.  I can't explain it, but it is quite fun.

There is sort of screaming at this point and it sounds less like an audio clip and more like the artist being pissed off.    This might be an audio clip disguised as vocals, but regardless, the anger within it coupled with the music is spot on.     This turns into that sharp feedback like "In Utero" and there are vocals spliced into it all but they are twisted somehow.    I'm not sure if the words are being spoken because the person is being killed by technology or if they are the technology doing the killing.  

More words have me thinking of an audio clip but the thing with this piece now is that these might all be audio clips, they might all be spoken word vocals or they might be some combination.   The fact that I cannot tell is what makes their placement so remarkable.    While it would be nice to sit down and point out "That's an audio clip" and "That's spoken word vocals" or just be told that they are all either one or the other, I like the mystery behind it.   I like not knowing.   The times when I most think they could be vocals are perhaps when they are not or vice versa and that's how I like for it to remain.

Cancer Lake is an artist I know thanks to Centipede Farmer and as a "This will likely only be funny to me" type of story, I was listening to this split cassette and taking notes during the same time as a cassette from Crown Larks and so it became funny to me (but not haha funny) that both these artists are abbreviated "CL" in my notes but are so different.    This side (which could be "Side A", but when you have a split I don't think it matters and just see it as "CL Side" and "BSM Side") begins with these fast paced drums that have a punk feel to them with an audio clip about trash mixed in.    It's actually Danny Devito from "It's Always Sunny", for those wondering, but it has a more distinct audio clip feel than BSM did.  

Cymbal crashes, guitars and screamy vocals come out.   This is like that hardcore thrash feel of Converge only the songs are shorter.   I remember listening to so much great music like this back in the day and I really do miss it.  (It has actually inspired me to go look up and listen to Ed Gein again)    There is also this band this reminds me of- if you've never heard of them you should- called Puig Destroyer and, no, that "u" is not a typo.    A stronger static feel comes through now and then the vocals begin to sound as if they are possessed by a demon.   If only they'd start speaking in tongues we could raise the holy one.  

The music has the same qualities but slows down a little bit here.   Then it begins to pick back up and once again make me feel nostalgic for Black Market Industries.  (I feel I still have a sampler CD of them somewhere)  "You can crush me but you can't crush my spirit... Ahhh my spirit!!"   Classic Futurama right there.    This goes into an instrumental stretch and sort of slows down before another audio clip and then the pace picks back up.  

What I feel like this split does is it has two similar styles of music together but yet they aren't exactly the same.   Listening to BSM would be like watching a horror movie such as "Pulse", where as Cancer Lake is more like "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (Just to use horror movies I think everyone has heard of as an example)   But, yes, I'd not heard Bullshit Market before but am glad that I did and now that I've been reminded of Cancer Lake I will look further into their music on Bandcamp as well-- like a good split should make you do.


$5 // Edition of 50 // https://personalarchives.bandcamp.com/album/c24-split







Cassette Review: "That Too Long Hour Never Dim Enough To Sleep" (Kerchow Records)


I have heard both Restaurnaut and Wica Intina enough before to know what I was getting into with this split cassette.   It should be seen as one of those all-star type of ideas because you should also be already familiar with both of these artists and I'm not even going to say that one of them should make you want to listen to this cassette because both of them should.

Restaurnaut offers up the acoustic guitar and vocals thing on Side A.    It's got these sort of growls in it you have to hear to understand.   It's also got these lyrics you have to read to understand because I'm not going to quote them all for you nor recite my tired speech about the difference between a songwriter and someone who simply writes lyrics (Restaurnaut is a songwriter)    There is this mix of Modest Mouse and Kimya Dawson, which if that's not enough to get you into this cassette then I don't know what is.

Oh wait.   There is one song about conspiracy theories and how he believes in them all.   Everything from believing in Area 51 to believing 9/11 was an inside job.    To file under the category of "Things I Shouldn't Know But Do", there are actually a lot of songs about how 9/11 was an inside job and if you find one rap video on YouTube about it you'll go down quite the rabbithole.   I believe that Area 51 is real.   If there weren't such things as aliens- if life on other planets wasn't possible- I believe they would just come out and tell us.   I believe there would be undeniable proof.

So to think that life only exists on Earth seems naive and close-minded.   But then you also have to think if the government is lying to us about aliens then what else are they lying to us about?   I don't think you can be someone who believes some conspiracy theories-- I think you're either against them or all in and I'm all in.   (I'm actually writing this review two days after 9/11/17 and still don't feel badly saying it was an inside job.   Again, go watch the YouTube videos.   Hip hop doesn't lie)

Wica Intina has this darker quality to the acoustic guitar and vocals combination.    Granted, Restaurnaut ends Side A with a song called "When I'm Gone", but there is just this Johnny Cash feel to Wica Intina.   It's droning string plucks which make it less like that singer/songwriter/folk/whatever type of sound from Side A.    A little bit of Nirvana in an acoustic sense and a tad of Dylan as well round out this sound which even has whistling.

What one should take away from this split cassette is that you have two artists who seemingly adhere to the same properties of music: that being their voice + an acoustic guitar.   And while there are obvious similarities because, you know, they're still both playing the same instrument and singing, there is this strong sense of their sounds being different as well.   So to use the same tools and create such distinct results is a lesson many copycat artists can learn from but also a true testament to how talented both of these artists on this split are.


$5 // Edition of 100 // https://kerchowrecords.bandcamp.com/album/that-too-long-hour-never-dim-enough-to-sleep










Cassette Review: Body Shame "Open Sores" (SDM Records)


The name Body Shame makes me think of high school.   You know how I know you were likely awkward and weird in high school?   Because I feel like everyone thought that way about themselves.   It's like when you have this geeky looking kid and the girl of his dreams together and he says to her "But what do you have to dislike about your body?"   Growing up, I was made fun of for being tall and skinny (Think of Bill from "Freaks and Geeks"), but I don't feel like anyone is really comfortable with their body.   We all have things we wish we could change about it.

I immediately enjoy the song title "bbw ffm pov".    It's something I would likely click on, but it's also some other type of way to feel because sometimes you might just feel like you're suffocating.     These deep sort of bumps are what start this cassette and it sounds like the intro to Samoa Joe's WWE theme music.   Lasers sound like birds and there are sort of vocals in here as well.    Space chaos is the best way to describe this one overall I'd say.   It's static, synth, beeping, lasers, radio frequency changes and mostly instrumental.   It's as much the industrial vibe of Nine Inch Nails as it is R2D2's beeps and whirrs.

Trying to relate this to the artist name Body Shame doesn't really work.   I wanted to convey some profound connection between the two, but this is much more like a sci-fi movie, perhaps in space, and there are hints of video game sounds in it as well.    It could even be something like let's say "Flash Gordon" meets "Godzilla" (in space, obviously) but with this being the soundtrack to an Atari 2600 video game version based on the movie.

Regardless of how you feel about your body, this music is great.   It's somewhere between Boar and something else I can't quite put my finger on exactly.   At the same time, if this does open up discussion about body images and all of that (As I hope the title of the first track might) then I'm all for it as well.


$5 // Edition of 50 // https://sdmpdx.bandcamp.com/album/body-shame-open-sores-sdm-039







Cassette Review: Ak'Chamel, The Giver of Illness "Death Chants" (Already Dead Tapes)


I still remember back when Ak'Chamel was known to me as that artist who experimented with VHS tapes.   This was years ago, but it was the first time I had ever heard of anyone using VHS tapes to make music before.   I suppose it is easy enough to think of the conversion from cassettes in this sense to VHS, but still, not as many people have access to VCR as they would a tape deck.   Isn't it funny how they still market a stereo that would come with a tape deck, record player, CD player, digital dock and radio tuner and yet they don't have any advanced Blu-Ray/DVD/VHS/Laser Disc/cable tuning type of thing for the television?

This cassette begins with a dark sort of chanting.   A random sort of horn synth comes in and then it's clank and drudge through dark acoustics.    I would call this one "haunted melodies" but part of that is because this reminds me of something played on a really old record player, such as from an old black and white cartoon (you either know the type or you don't and I suppose it depends upon your knowledge of animation)   I also used the word "dark" in my notes a lot because this has the presence of a funeral.  It resembles Murder By Death in some way but that's about the only other artist I can relate it with.

A pulsating heart turns into a flurry of utter chaos.   This is somehow heavier than death metal; this is somehow heavier than death.   It's droning now.   Alien lasers take over.   Then a sitar.   Rambling ruckus turns from this "Desperado" feel into a sound of horns which mimic a radio station being tuned.   We return to the sad acoustics from earlier on this side and then through this sort of party feel with toms (drums) it ends on that "Desperado" vibe.

On the flip side we open up with jittery whirrs.  There are briefly some bells mixed in as well.   This brings on a delicately played classical guitar number.    A driving guitar riff with chanting generates an urgent guitar rattle.   The guitars get singing/chanting mixed in next for this sort of hymn feel.    I am reminded of the demos and early outtakes of Nirvana (see: that boxed set they did)  Guitars once again seem to be the focus of this side as they plow through with space lasers.

The particular chanting and the strumming of the bass-filled guitar remind me of this one particular song by The Who.   I can vaguely hear drums and I'm not sure if the only guitar being played is the bass but this is the closest I think I've ever heard Ak'Chamel come to a traditional song.    Organs come on next to give it that church feel and the chanting/ohm singing only makes me believe my earlier idea about hymns was correct.

It has been a little while since I last heard Ak'Chamel but I feel like every time I hear their music it only gets better.   On one hand, I want to say that I'm surprised that Already Dead would release a cassette by Ak'Chamel because lately I've been listening to cassettes on this label that aren't really in this genre (Not to say they haven't explored this type of music before though)   I suppose it just goes to show though that if you are around long enough and make consistently good music your efforts will not go unnoticed.

Sold Out // https://alreadydeadtapes.bandcamp.com/album/ad256-akchamel-the-giver-of-illness-death-chants







Cassette Review: NONZOO "WAZOO" (Already Dead Tapes)


Some time ago I considered actually making awards for those who are involved with cassettes.   I never saw it as a "you're better than this artist" idea, but more just the recognition of it all.    People I feel don't get enough recognition because as I've said before I feel like the world of talent is upside down-- some of the least talented so-called musicians are on the radio, etc.    But I think I need to find some award to give to Already Dead Tapes & Records.   In my review of Complainer I thought, "Wow, this is so good.  It's so unique"   And now I come back to that same place with NONZOO.

You have to understand this cassette starts in such a way that I can describe it but not in full.    There are vocals, there are electronics, there's rock n roll and it all comes together in quite possibly the most chaotic of ways.    It's just... It's not something I've ever heard before so I can't quite put my finger on it, and it all happens so quickly, but this is somewhere between Deerhoof and Fear Before the March of Flames when it begins.

The bass line can get funky.    I hear The Lot Six, at least I think I do because as I'm listening to it I also want to go and listen to them afterwards.    It gets into this dark place where it's instrumental at first.   It has these sort of terrifying screams like the score to a haunted house.    Clanky guitars accompany some singing and there is a ringing drone as well.   I don't know how NONZOO manages to move from one song to the next and seemingly change genres but remain intact but we are all the better for it.

There is this certain punk rock attitude which this music takes on.   It somehow can crossover through various genres without missing a beat.   I can't explain how it does it and when all of the madness is happening I can't even begin to fully describe what is happening but it's wonderful.   I'm submitted so many songs that have the feeling of "Oh, I've heard this one a million times before".   I don't understand why artists don't take more chances.   I'll never understand why more artists aren't like NONZOO, as much as I'd like for them to be.