1
Recently, I've been thinking a lot about musick. Surprisingly, I haven't been writing about it at all. My girlfriend and I moved across town at the end of the summer, and we're still unpacking and making repairs. We had to put our band and other creative endeavors on hold for the moment. I'm just getting back into the swing of things after months, and I actually started recording a new noise album for a label that asked me to do a release. I've started to ponder what I want out of noise musick, what I can bring to it that I haven't already, and what people are interested in. I felt kind of lost.

Around when we were still in a seriously chaotic mess of moving, Mirkwood Recordings asked me to review Side Stepping The Abyss by Düne Kankel. The review really got lost in the chaos even though I really wanted to do it. I tried a few times and was put off by the album's leading track being over nine minutes. When I recorded some noise stuff earlier this week, using only my guitar and some effects due to my gear being scattered around our house and storage unit, I felt lost, out of touch. Maybe listening to a similar album could help me, so I decided to listen to Side Stepping The Abyss in full.


The cover art to Side Stepping The Abyss is a painting of mountains at night. Bats or birds fly over the snow-covered peaks. The art has a rough outsider feel to it, which, along with the subject matter, foreshadows the musick inside.

"And the Void Sings to Me" is the first track on the album, opening with a whirring rumble that goes into something that sounds akin to an out of tune merry-go-round in a Krautrock band. The song goes a number of times around this ride with some more dramatic variations. Every time, I can hear more of the sounds in the distance layered through mud and fog. Some solo-ish things appear like creatures struggling out of the mud, but nothing feels particularly focused. The production is very rough around the edges. A deathly voice calls out from the fog towards the end as various tones ring out. Unfortunately, I found this somewhat cheesy. It might be cool to you, though. "Ceremonial Dirge", the second song, plays out much quicker and, in my opinion, better. The song is what sounds like a tape, a slice of ambient air warblings, interrupted by bell chimes. It's eerie and effective. The production is much cleaner as well. "Creative Suffering" is a very loud song that reminds me of something I did on my album The UFO Cults of Satyr/Elfheim ("Sanat Kumara"). Both songs are not well produced and utilize loops of guitar loudness as an instrument. On "Creative Suffering", the guitar is a fuzz cannon with other flares of feedback noise appearing in other areas. The song plods along without many changes to the main riff. The guitar does drop out a bit and switch sides in the second half, and then it flanges into white noise before returning. The final moments combine shoegaze and black metal into a not-so-loud experience.

"Intrusive Thought" starts the second half of the album with more extreme loudness, ambiance, and wind torpedoes. There are some cool pulsations on this track, science-fiction machines from another planet. "Neurogeneric" is another looped-guitar experience. I like the song here, almost Tibetan and dancing about out of sync. There are some really cool layers here too. Unfortunately, the track is spoiled by the extreme volume and the thin distortion applied to the guitar after the first half. "Recovering Lost Soul Fragments" does some similar things as "Neurogeneric", though the guitar here is more rhythmic. Again, it reminds me of myself and various poor production jobs I have done over the years.The guitar sounds pretty cool, but I wish there was more than just the deep, darkness of bass reflections in a well. "Relapse, Relapse, Repeat" concludes the album with chilly spirit sounds that remind me of some of Kendra Smith's interludes. "Relapse, Relapse, Repeat" is brief, perhaps too brief, but it's a decent end to an unfortunately underwhelming release.

I did not enjoy Side Stepping The Abyss. I was initially intimidated by the song lengths on this release, and my listening experience followed suit, in a sense. The droning of "Creative Suffering" and "And the Void Sings to Me" rattle on and on for far too long. If these tracks were not excruciatingly loud, rough, and rumbling, they might work, but the production here is bare-bones and ragged. Side Stepping The Abyss is physically painful for me to listen to, at least with headphones. The tracks are way too far into the red for me to really experience in any capacity. I believe that this is the first album I've reviewed that I've ever skipped through some of the songs after a few minutes. As for the shorter songs, they're fine. Most seem more curated and carefully produced. The instruments and the way they interact are much more interesting on songs like "Neurogeneric" than on the longer pieces. Even the shorter tracks are extremely loud, though. Surprisingly, Side Stepping The Abyss has a listed producer, so this isn't just someone in their basement blasting a giant cabinet as I foolishly did when I was younger. I really wish that someone had taken a step back and thought about the usage of space and the element of composition during this creation. Without these things, there are some serious problems.

To get back to the beginning, these problems are, for me, problems with the noise genre itself. They at least make the genre uninteresting as a whole to me. In a live setting, this kind of stuff doesn't really come into play, and loudness can make for some excitement as long as you have, like, earplugs. I still think that composition or clever improvisation is important and, personally, I need some kind of space in a soundscape. For fans of black metal and harsh noise, you probably don't care about these things, and this album, and others like it, may appeal to you. It doesn't work for me at all.

Side Stepping The Abyss receives a Bad.

Continuing from last time, I proceeded with my search for truth in regards to the mysterious Atlanta-based Victory Hands. I did find the original email exchange where I agreed to review the three records I received, so it wasn't all some covert conspiracy. Last time we looked at BERNSTEIN and ANDERSON, two short releases named for journalistic enemies of Richard Nixon that feature lyrics constructed from Nixon dialogues. Today, I have the LP, BISHOP, to review.

BISHOP is the third Victory Hands release. It's named for Jim Bishop, a journalist who wrote a column for King Features. I can't find any particular noteworthy incident that brought Bishop to Nixon's list of media enemies, but his column included many articles criticizing the President's mediaphobia. Though BISHOP is a full-size LP, it's not so much that in terms of the amount of musick here. The total time isn't even 26 minutes.

BISHOP continues the trend of fantastic packaging. The vinyl is transparent, and the album artwork contains many of the lyrics, shown by blacking out excluded portions from the transcription of Nixon's speech that ended up sung on the album. Text and images are printed stark black on white except for "This Kitchen", which is printed with metallic gold. One image shows a Presidential meeting. The cover art shows a man hugging a chimpanzee. I'm not sure what it means, though there is a surreal cuteness and a calmness to it. It's kind of absurd but adorable. We must continue, though, and pop the clear vinyl onto the table.

The first side begins. "Top Brass" starts with droning guitars rebounding off of an angle. The vocals are all drama, voices about morale and struggle taken from remarks Nixon made to the Department of Defense on January 31st, 1969, the inherent doom of the Vietnam War. "Dressed to the Tease" recalls "Undressed To The Tease" from BERNSTEIN, a song that utilized words between Kissinger and Nixon about Ronald Reagan. It has a cool, acidic, and hollow guitar sound. "Face These Facts" is a short and poppy rocker that reminds me of The Wedding Present. It could be the ending song to a television show.

The second side continues. "This Kitchen" has emotional depth and anxiety. "What we want to do is make life easy." Sometimes I really wonder about this. 'Are you still angry?" Yes, basically, sort of. To respond to a later section, I don't want to fight, but I am upset with the nature of the world. "I want to be unwavering." The song is built from words taken from Nixon's so-called "Kitchen Debate" with Nikita Khrushchev in a model house built to show the power of capitalism. I can't say that that power still exists today except for the few. "Tonight He Stands" is very dissonant. Someone's standing, presumably Nixon at the Republican National Convention, but it gives me vertigo. Words about children, courage, and danger accompany tension-filled riffage. "All In The Family" is all riffage. Then it's all over.

BISHOP officially releases physically on September 27th, 2019 - two days from now! Pre-order a copy today!

BISHOP receives a Good.

I moved at the end of July through the beginning of August. Amidst the chaos of box cities shifting too and fro, trucks delivering another round of citizens to their new vistas, I found a strange package at my new address: a flat box about a foot tall with a sticker of Richard Nixon on the front and the name "Victory Hands". Seemingly there was a record (or records) inside, but I didn't have time to open it during all of the procedures at the time. Did I agree to review something? I couldn't remember.

When I finally did open the box, I found an assortment of interesting items. The band was Victory Hands, and they are from Atlanta, Georgia. The package contained three of their releases inside of increasing size: 7 inches, 10 inches, and 12 inches of vinyl disc. All of the records were transparent vinyl, all had stark black-and-white covers, all had elaborate fold-out packaging with Richard Nixon transcriptions, and all were named after self-declared media enemies of Richard Nixon.
The first was ANDERSON, a 10" single. The cover is creepy, though I don't really know why. It looks like a mob going after someone, perhaps a killing by stoning. the grin, the wall, the moon are all strange features. I can't get over the woman and child on the right, a grotesque morphing of traditional imagery. As for the title, Anderson was a journalist who investigated the Iran-Contra Affair, fleeing Nazis hiding out in South America, and various cases with Richard Nixon. The administration plotted to assassinate Anderson, but this was destroyed after the Watergate affair. This record remains a transparent relic of such a time.

"The Guy We Can Kick" is a lurching, vertigo unbalanced mid-range drone rocker cut from early 90s Sonic Youth and Gang of Four. "If They Give Him The Shaft" is a metallic, melodic rocker with an eerie undercurrent in the left channel. The vocals give the song the feel of a worn hero, a portrait from a different angle of our tarnished 37th president. It's somewhat poignant, do we attribute too many problems with the modern world to people of the past? The people of the present, of the future, can always make different choices than their ancestors.

ANDERSON receives a Good.


The second release is a 7" EP, BERNSTEIN. The cover shows Nixon's dog, Checkers, a black-and-white cocker spaniel. Less innocently, Carl Bernstein was one of the main reporters about the Watergate scandal, going on to write All the President's Men with his partner, Bob Woodward. He later wrote about Pope John Paul II, the relation between the CIA and the American media, and the increasing trend of sensationalism in American journalism. Let's ditch that trend.

"Nixon Is My Copilot" is the first track. With rumbling bass and melodic, almost naive, guitars, the song shifts between happy and nervous. It increasingly drones, all instrumental, as it goes on with a whining fade-out. "Nixon Is My Copilot" is a nice, short, snappy, poppy piece. "Lady of the Lake" is a Sir Walter Scott poem turned into musick by James Sanderson; it's "Hail to the Chief". The song has been replicated here in slow-mo, slightly sludgish, a rock replica of 1990s-isms. "September 23rd, 1952" references Nixon's "Checkers Speech" about modest living with his dog Checkers as a metaphor. The song sounds like something from a Hanna-Barbera cartoon like The Flintstones or The Jetsons. I think it mostly reminds me of the cover of the title track from the latter by The Urinals, though this is less frantic. "Undressed To The Tease" takes words from a conversation between Nixon and Henry Kissinger on November 17th, 1971 about Ronald Reagan. The pair basically underestimated the actor-politician. The song is the hardest on this EP, pushing ahead with Nixon's angry words, "doesn't he know these battles we fight and fight and fight?" I don't think I know these battles myself; their self-created, a framework of neurotics, globalism, control, and economic starvation.

BERNSTEIN receives a Good.

Victory Hands has certainly made its mark in my book. I enjoyed all of these tracks and found the paranoia, juxtapositions, and double-meanings very interesting. The high-contrast images and transparent vinyl display what I see as the meaning of all of this: the need for transparency in our current American government and the relation of that need, and lack of such a transparency, going back decades. The war on journalism is not just a recent trend. Nevertheless, we're not to the destination yet, in government or in Victory Hands discography. Do we have Bernsteins and Andersons of today? I don't know; perhaps citizens are more informed in a sense through the internet but still lacking in a heroic figurehead to push forward. Victory Hands themselves have one more record we're going to take a look at, though I expect there will be more in the future.

Avoidance is a good name for an album that I was asked to review half a year ago in late February/early March that originally came out in May 2018. Losing my job, looking for a new one, dealing with floods and construction, and finally moving to a new house really made me avoid reviewing this. It was so intimidating: dark and over 40 minutes of what appeared to be noise music. Finally, since I've now been able to find a new job and start organizing things in my house into the start of a semblance of order, I've been able to take the descent into Laver's 2018 album Avoidance.


I wasn't sure what to make of the album starting off with the cover and the title. Everything is so minimal, and the cover is so dark. I like the deep red of, what I assume is, a snake-ish rug. There seems to be a glitch arc going on the left side, and I'm not sure what to make of its placement. I prefer to see the natural rhythm of the room. For me, nothing has of yet been resolved.


Avoidance starts with "Dymphna", the name of a Christian saint, the patron of mental disorders, depression, anxiety, and runaways. This track is composed of minimal guitar(?) loops transisting through the grit of a glitch. The combination of cleaner, echo'd lines combined with a deep boom reminds me of some of my own work as Satyr/Elfheim. The next track is "Messier 42", another name for the Orion Nebula and a possible source for a Mayan myth. A pulse, a lost symphony codes into this world through a rough sieve. This song is distant and alien but also near and familiar, the sound of dreaming while awake at night in a living room lit by lightbulb to a warmth of dull yellow. It's not a bad place, and it is one that conjures all sorts of things; perhaps it is not an ideal situation though, beyond these nighttime hours. The third track is "hunu", perhaps referring to the word for the sun or a sun ray in different languages. It could also be the number 1,000,000. I hear the sound of the subway of a dream world like that first area in Silent Hill 4: The Room. It's a static curtain through which several voices peek into this room. This song gives me more historical content too; the static reminds me of rushing water, a faucet, that reminded me that a parent who scared me sometimes was home. Sometimes I hid in my room. The song heads into a tunnel, Tunnel Music, as I've played before. Footsteps of insects (and bigger) in the damp humidity echo as the room opens up with chimes of charming water falling.

Two more tracks follow quietly. "Choi Da Bin" is a single that is presented here and the name of a South Korean figure skater. The song has a chilly feel of synth warps and crispy textures. It would perhaps be a good track for a horror game or film due to the high-pitched tones that rise every so often. It's not a bad piece, but I found this track to be the least interesting one so far. "rip vladik" perhaps refers to Vladik Shibanov, an actor from Ukraine who some believe to have been killed by the CIA or faked his death. He was only 18 when he died and had been involved with some kind of softcore, naturist child porn when he was a kid. I don't know anything about this, so I have no comment to give. The track starts with clinking glasses and a windy synth. The song continues into nature sounds of birds and water along with calm and spacey synth sounds. Along with "Choi Da Bin" before it, "rip vladik" is more ambient and epic. Compared with the first half, these are less to my tastes, but maybe you will find something hiding here in the windswept heaths.

Avoidance fits the title sonically. The tracks follow the theme, the name, and the cover art with insular topics one might read about alone, become engrossed in tales of outside people and places in juxtapose the inner-focused life of the hikikomori. I really liked the first half of Avoidance, rough textures of dreams, more than the later half of long winding drones. It's an interesting item for sure.

Avoidance receives a Good.

Grow Rich is a band from Jakarta, Indonesia that combines elements of My Bloody Valentine, Hüsker Dü, Sonic Youth, and the Jesus and Mary Chain to a fresh, new noisy shoegaze sound. It recalls that time of the late 90s, waiting up at night to greet the dawn in a sweat of confusion and excitement. I heard about Grow Rich from the Warehouse of Strangers Facebook group, and I'm glad I did. This is their new release, Frantic Semantic EP.


The cover art is a cat in purple. The background weave waves the viewer along into the stoically mounted text that sits in the sweep of the Space Age. It's a great cover.

"Bounce Back" is a great song like the Jesus and Mary Chain on Psychocandy. The guitars make a sound of the title - they sound bouncy. "Kawan Lama" is all in another language, but the tuneage is good, solid Dinosaur Jr. warble-skronk. That glitchy breakdown in the end is solid too.

"Tenderfoot" starts the second side with a Confusion Is Sex minimalist dread that flies into a tunnel of lost voices. It's a short tunnel, and then we're into the last track, "Cat Flag". "Cat Flag" starts with an opening narrative before hammering into cosmic guitar slices. This song is the melodramatic truth of mental ruin. "Borderline slowly drove you insane". That's brilliant.

Frantic Semantic EP is a short, solid hit. There's nothing that drags, nothing that snags; it's that blue light of the undergrowth, a neon god from past future hopes. Melodies travel through space from there to here, from me to you. I'll have to check out more by Grow Rich, and I hope you will too.

Frantic Semantic EP receives a Good.

On June 21st, Kaiti dragged me to see a show at Cafe D'Amore. I was getting second thoughts, feeling anxious, and all of that silliness. I almost didn't go. I'm glad that Kaiti is so excited to go out and see music because this show was great!

I had never been to Cafe D'Amore before, but it's just up the street from our house. It's a cozy spot that has coffee and small snacks. Large sculptures adorned the walls of the room where the musicians were to perform; I think these pieces were made of paper. I also appreciated the various elements of the store that promoted environmental care. When we got to the store, I had to do a U-turn to grab money from an ATM.


When I got back, our friend Ky Vöss had started their set. Ky Vöss is an electronic artist who lives here in Pittsburgh. They've been getting pretty popular lately, and I can see why. Ky's musick is exciting and spacey with tuneful vocals and the cool air of synthesizers. It's vocal-driven synthpop that reminds me of early Madonna or Japanese city pop. Kaiti says Ky is a like a gothic Purity Ring or Grimes I'm sure that hardcore fans of this kind of stuff have some better points of comparison. My partner and I really like the song about being an astronaut.


Philadelphia's Son Step is also electronic, going for an indie rock/ambient/funk sound circa 2008. Geometric patterns cavorted behind the pair as they projected their bright sounds upon the audience. There were some really great bits of soft, white noise, but it's sort of a pastoral sound overall. Son Step reminded me of a Pittsburgh band from years back, Sundog Peacehouse, though it's not a one-for-one sound.


Sneeze Awfull was a more experimental version of Son Step. Eric Weidenhof played cello, and Jay Eff Winkelins channeled found sounds and keyboard creations. The songs were wobbly, ghostly VHS-vocalled, micro-symphonies part mystery and part comedy. This, again, reminded me of Sundog Peacehouse and the Fantastic Voyagers event that happened a few times. Those were some of my earliest show experiences in Pittsburgh, so I felt nostalgic.

It was good to see this show and be reminded of the creative things I saw around years ago before, during, and for some time after the Roup House days. Neither then or now is perfect, but there are interesting things all around all of the time somewhere. You just have to look around you.

Desperate Times are a band from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. I've never been there or anywhere near there. Some members of this band are in a Facebook group I'm in called Warehouse of Strangers and were looking for a review of their new album Peace at Last.


The cover art to Peace at Last is very metal, though Desperate Times isn't a metal band. There's the grim reaper holding a destroyed world and standing over skulls. The background is an assortment of scratches and chains and stuff. It's kind of roughly done, but it fits the album well even if it isn't perfectly rendered.


"Enough" starts the album off with screeching feedback into full-speed fury. What I can understand of the lyrics is cool - "I've had enough!". I like the short and discordant guitar solo. "Peering" is a grim thought about the "abyss of our future". I've been worrying a lot about this same thing in the last few months due to losing my job, government issues, and the state of the environment. The song brings a similar anxious quality, and I like the breakdowns that provide a state of clarity that clearly states these types of worries. It's an interesting juxtaposition. "Class War" is the last song on the first side. The guitar sounds great. This song has some extra sonic space which I appreciate.

"Prison" starts with an intro like a sci-fi film, but it's reality about prisons; we don't even need a dystopian future for this monologue. I was less impressed as it started, the vocals being a repeated "and they are" about the state of prison cruelty, but there are some other things here too. I like the idea of minimalist lyrics and the like, but I felt like the phrase "and they are" doesn't stand on its own like it should for something of this nature. "False Till True" has a cool chord progression, and the lyrics go off like a chant. The last song is a cover of "Some of Us Scream, Some of Use Shout" by Flux of Pink Indians, a band that I have not listened to enough. This song was a bit poppier than the others, except perhaps "Class War", though I wouldn't call either of these pop songs. To respond to the song, I don't think that it's too late for us to change. It's a tough fight though.

Peace at Last is a screechy and hard punk album along the lines of Crass and the like. I enjoyed it overall, though these types of things aren't my favorite. If you like peace punk/anarcho-punk, you'll probably dig this one.

Peace at Last receives a Good.

This review was originally written for a class I took about jazz music. The writing is a bit different on this one because of that. I had a lot of fun writing it, so I wanted to post it up here. This event was also a totally different experience for me, one that I hope to replicate sometime. Maybe you will too.

Earlier tonight, May 19th, I attended a recurring event, Off Minor Jazz, at Alphabet City in Pittsburgh (not the Alphabet City in New York City). Alphabet City is part of City of Asylum, an organization that works with writers from countries that have limited their freedom of speech. Tonight’s performance was part of their monthly jazz performances and entitled “4 on 6” after the piece by guitarist Wes Montgomery. Appropriately, this concert was centered around jazz guitar. The performance featured three trios and one sextet. Thomas Wendt and Tony DePaolis played brushed drums and pizzicato upright bass respectively for each group; the difference was the guitar player.

The first guitarist was Eric Susoeff, a professor of jazz guitar at Duquesne University. Susoeff moved to Pittsburgh from California in the 1970s. His first piece was his composition “The Do-Over”, a Latin jazz piece based on Brazilian samba with a theme of redemption. The first chorus was by Susoeff, the next by DePaolis, and them Wendt and Susoeff traded fours. Susoeff’s second piece was another of his compositions, “Promise”. Susoeff mentioned that this piece originated from a discussion with a previous girlfriend. The piece again had a Latin influence. Susoeff again took the first chorus and DePaolis the second, but Susoeff again took the third. The last piece was the jazz standard “Without a Song”. This is a classic AABA form of 16 bars, for the A parts, and 8 bars, for the B parts. Susoeff’s version of the song went into a Latin direction as was done with the earlier pieces. The drums were very exciting. Here, the choruses were taken by Susoeff, DePaolis, and then Wendt. This order continued for the most part throughout the night.

The next trio to step forth was led by Pittsburgh native, Mark Strickland. Strickland had a few funny anecdotes to tell about George Benson and Chad Evans. Strickland used the Wes Montgomery thumb-style for his pieces. He did not give a name for the first piece but mentioned that it was a blues song. “With the blues, you cannot lose,” Strickland remarked. The song was a 12-bar AAB form. Strickland took the first chorus, DePaolis the second, and Wendt the third. Strickland remarked how it was tough to follow Susoeff, said that George Benson was always out for blood, and then went into his second piece, “Easy to Love”. This was another blues-influenced AAB piece. Strickland took the first chorus, and DePaolis took the second. Wendt and Strickland traded fours for the last section. Strickland’s final song was another unentitled one, this time in a post-bop style. For this piece, he played all of the choruses.

The last trio of the night was led by John Shannon. Shannon is much younger than Susoeff or Strickland. Shannon graduated from Berklee and lived in New York City for a time. His set began with an original composition, “Fresh Water Prayer”. Shannon did some fast-picking during his set with tremolo lines cutting through the mix. There was a feeling of mystery in the air. The piece was hard-bop and featured the usual guitar, bass, and drums chronology of choruses. Shannon mentioned a new jazz club he was opening in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood before he began his second song, McCoy Tyner’s “Passion Dance”. This is another post-bop number in a 32-bar AAB form. DePaolis created a very swinging, walking bass. Shannon went a bit overboard for part of his initial chorus, but the song was good. Wendt provided the second chorus with his own degree of showmanship, and Shannon finished with the last one. I really liked Shannon’s guitar parts; the sound was again very mysterious. The final song that Shannon’s trio played was “Isfahan” by Pittsburgh legend Billy Strayhorn. It uses a 32-bar ABAC form as a sultry ballad. Shannon took the first and third choruses with DePaolis taking the middle. When Shannon finished, there was a special treat to close out the night.


The last band was a sextet composed of all of the previous players and a student at Duquesne University named Greg Jones. There were four guitar players in this band! They played Wes Montgomery’s “4 on 6” first. Jones took the first chorus, then Susoeff, Shannon, and Strickland. During the fifth chorus the group took turns trading fours with Wendt. Some of the guitarists did not play during all of the sections. Strickland provided excellent rhythm guitar the whole time, however. This song went in a swing direction with Strickland and Jones provided great blues licks. The last song was Kenny Burrell’s “Chitlins Con Carne”. Wendt mentioned that Burrell was suffering from a serious disease and had a GoFundMe up to support him at the moment. He encouraged those who could to donate. The sextet played the AAB 12-bar blues form excellently. The first chorus was taken soulfully by Strickland. Susoeff followed with a more trebly, angular chorus, and Shannon continued swinging with the third chorus from there. Jones took the last chorus with his own swing style.

It was a great show all around. My favorite piece was “Chitlins Con Carne”. As a person more familiar with rock and blues, I loved Jones’ and Strickland’s solos. I don’t believe that any of the pieces had much improvisation. Shannon was certainly the most idiosyncratic with his playing, reaching far out at times. Strickland reminded me of myself a lot, so he was very endearing to me. Susoeff’s Latin style was very interesting to hear live. All of the players were very good, and I would love to see them again. I spoke to Greg Jones a bit after the performance, and he expressed excitement about sharing the stage with such great players. He mentioned that each guitarist had chosen their own pieces, though Thomas Wendt had chosen the final two. Jones was somewhat sarcastic and self-consciously walled, but he was overall friendly. I intend to make a new habit of seeing live jazz. There are tons of jazz shows happening in Pittsburgh every week, and many of them, this one included, are free. With many young and old artists playing together, the music is sure to be interesting.

I talked with Zachary Corsa last week to say that I would get a review out about a new album by his project Nonconnah. Nonconnah is a duo of Zachary and his wife Denny. I booked a related project of their's, Lost Trail, a few years ago. I remember that show going well but not many details of it, and Lost Trails golden drones made me lose sense of reality, for moments entering an other world of Faerie or something similar. While I looked at this album, Dead Roses, Digged Up Zombies, Broken Pieces Of Diamonds, Live Cats, I felt small compared to its vastness. "I got scared; I put my phone back in place." After some deliberation and resolve, I have decided to face such a dawn as this. Here we go into the void.


Oh yeah, wait, I still have to talk about the album cover. The cover art for Dead Roses, Digged Up Zombies, Broken Pieces Of Diamonds, Live Cats was created by Zachary's mother, E.M. Corsa, which is pretty cool. It is a nice, neutral cardboard color. I usually don't like this, but it works well here with what I see as a friendly dog creature in a soft environment. Perhaps it is a spirit fox of Japanese myth levitating above a bed instead. That's kind of scary; I might start hiding again. How about those cute dogs and comfy beds?

 The album starts with "Rainbow Over Pegasus Field" which has a nice rising tone, a glitchy sunrise that slowly evolves over three minutes into bells and bats and the soft calls of night. "This Faded Glow Of Ours" is soft with post-rock strings creeping in through the static rivers of phonographic noise. "To Pass Through The Walls And Vanish" has some warbling ghost voices, coughing campfire rattles and chokes, and a tittering snare. "Path Of Tonality/Rapture Drugs" raises the noise levels into a harsh realm. Creatures howl as others moan and chant and the world dissolves. On the fifth track, I learned that "The Light Of A Dead Star Is Not Something To Fuck Around With" as a choir comes thru nearly overwhelming static-stics like nine-year-old me watching anime on the Sci-Fi channel through multicolored snow. The radio sounds at the end were pleasant. "All Those Days, As If Spent In A Fugue State" is eerie and off-putting, a cold slab in a morgue. Strings circle around, flies and gnats drowsy and drifting, drooping after downing dried fermented honey. Or perhaps, this is the view from the corner in the room as seen from those who are between worlds, the scene of the NDE. "Treading Unhallowed Ground" doesn't sound like it would be so bad at first. It sounds kind of dreamy here, but the odd voices that warble at the edges of the sonic landscape seem foreboding of something unwell though not altogether sinister.

"Hill Country Harbinger" is calming after all of the oddness in the last few tracks. I enjoyed the sound like stepping through a thin veil of water. Some people celebrate at the end. "Ceremonial Magic & Wicked Wires" sounds like what that celebration may turn into with the joyful fair reverberating thru alleys and townhouses. "Ego Death At Houston Levee" goes back to cold air eerieness. I have to say that even when Nonconnah sounds kind of creepy, there's something calming about it. Many of these tracks have a relaxed and religious tone to their sound. The end of "Ego Death At Houston Levee" has an interesting little tune too. "Ceiling To Ceiling Transmission Antenna" is another calm piece with another buzzing insect flitting about. The listener pushes through majestic clouds, guided by clarinet and a faucet of pure noise. "Flickering At The Borders Of The Frame" is a scary name for a similarly grim tone. Countless somethings writhe in a black somewhere overtaking the slight synth sounds that cross the air. Eventually, everything kind of coalesces into one and the new sound creator seems like they might be getting used to their condition, but it is hard for me to say. "When You Begin To Blur" is some swamp sound Bad Moon Rising interlude. It's another haunted track. I swear that an orb appeared while I was listening to it and possessed me to write this word. That's some heavy stuff. Speaking of heavy, "We Love Our Rotting Industrial Dystopia" is a heavy name, and I wonder if this one is partially serious and partially satirical. I know that Zachary Corsa takes a lot of pfotos of destroyed buildings and the like, but the name also comes off as a message about America's misguided goals and dreams.

"Half-Built Future Homes" is more droney celestialisms, an organ-esque sound on a sea of light. "Last And Languid Waves" is not the last track, but does sound like the closing track to a film. It's an interstellar drum pileup. "Sorrow Mountain And Assorted Haunting" continues a bit where the last track tapered off but in a spookier way. Instead of a heavenly celebration, it's more like poltergeist activity. The drums beat around in the magnetic resonance of ghosts. Perhaps the "Void Heirlooms Beneath The Floorboards" created the assorted haunting. It's another windy world, this time with a long monologue of lost words. "A Shimmering Veil Pulled Taut Against The Sky" is more warbly wind. "Erasing Spells/Magnet Dragged Over VHS" sounds pretty cool, but these last tracks seem a bit extraneous to me. However, I am not one of the creators of Dead Roses, Digged Up Zombies, Broken Pieces Of Diamonds, Live Cats. The last track is good for sure: "Black Construction Paper Ghosts With Red Glitter Eyes" brings more melody and charm to the album to close it out. "Can we have the lights dimmed to black?"

Dead Roses, Digged Up Zombies, Broken Pieces Of Diamonds, Live Cats is a long journey through the sound of light and the things found along the starlit path. I enjoyed the album overall, but it feels quite long for something of this type. Many of these tracks are formless windy meanderings; the lack of pop structure is both a positive and negative. I felt a bit overwhelmed and lost, though the album also presents something alien to most people making it particularly unique. The odd sounds, guest stars, and care given across the album are what sets this above, even if it could be a little shorter. I will definitely listen more to Dead Roses, Digged Up Zombies, Broken Pieces Of Diamonds, Live Cats and see what cosmic knowledge can be gained from such things. I hope that you will at least give it a chance.

Dead Roses, Digged Up Zombies, Broken Pieces Of Diamonds, Live Cats receives a Good.

I've mentioned this previously, but the last month and a little earlier was a mess for me. I was covered by a veil embroidered with anxiety about death and the fate of the world. In my despair and confusion, the soundtrack full of lofi hip-hop beats from YouTube, I read about an artist called SPELLLING and her own dreams of alien life and other words. Her new album is called Mazy Fly, named after a seemingly gentle spirit of the air. The album resonates with my recent feelings. Let me tell you about it.


The cover art shows SPELLLING glowing amongst an audience of curious cattle, seemingly referencing the correlation between alien visitations and livestock. Her glow gives her an otherworldly quality that the cattle are picking up on. There's also a contrast to The Beach Boys famous Pet Sounds akin to The Clash's London Calling contrasting with Elvis' self-titled album. There's the same kind of text formatting and song list, but while The Beach Boys were standing up feeding the animals, SPELLLING is on the floor amongst them while simultaneously also wearing a cowboy hat. Does technological progress make us the cowboy or put us out to pasture?

The first track, "Red" starts out warbling, vinyl grain, before transferring into a psychedelic, hypnotic Bowie/Yoko Ono pseudo-R&B murmuring. "Haunted Water" comes in with a fantasy journey of synthesizers and drum machines, a song of the Lady of the Lake. The rhythm of the vocals reminds me of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon & Garfunkel, though that's just a shadow on the surface of something that runs deeper. The various instrumental layers create something that comes from one side of the night, somewhere under the stairs or in a dark closet, something that you hear through walls covered in static. On "Hard to Please" I hear the haunting voices of sirens in a cavern that is mostly submerged. That beat that runs across the surface has a nice solid 'thump' to it. "Golden Numbers" is beautiful, swooning, off-kilter post-war pop. "Melted Wings" is eerie stuff, synthesizer wind painted on by dark strings. "Under the Sun" finishes Side A with a vision of the future in spacy ambiance and near-electro. SPELLLING's techno-prayer inspires me with confidence against my own fears of cosmic voids.

A damp wah-soaked guitar drips down my sight as "Real Fun" starts. This one is explicitly about aliens, musical organs rising up to signal the new age as the air stirs and kids cry out. The song elevates into a dramatic Stooges crescendo before turning in to something like The X-Files. "Hard to Please (Reprise)" opens with a Prince-ish pseudo-pop cheer, a call to the aliens to take her with them (like when the purple one himself sang "Take Me With U" to Apollonia). Prince himself sang about the afterlife on "Let's Go Crazy", and the next song is about just that. This one has more of the Stooges melodrama with saxophones and droning guitars. This song speaks to me after all of the reading I've been doing about metaphysics, religion, and quantum mechanics. "The cavities in my brain are growing a garden," has so many meanings after all of my studying. "Afterlife" is airy, spacey, and mixed with heavenly vocals.

I think "Afterlife" would have made a good ending, but the album keeps going, as we do. "Dirty Desert Dreams" has a more melodic Nico and maybe a bit of Nancy Sinatra. SPELLLING's vocals cross the skies before the song erupts into a funk jam that fades out. The calm "Secret Thread" goes more into the afterlife visions of "the sky at night" and speaks about the "Mazy Fly" who lives up in the clouds. This is what ties the whole thing together, soft chambers to distorted strings and more. And at the end, "Falling Asleep" combines heavy club beats with childhood chimes. Are we butterflies dreaming of being humans?

Mazy Fly is a truly experimental album combining funk, 60s pop, electro, ambient, and New Age in the spirit of Prince or David Bowie. The stories told here about aliens, technology, and the search for lands beyond, both metaphorical and physical and maybe even metaphysical, are as old as time, but SPELLLING has brought new meaning and life to them on Mazy Fly.

Mazy Fly receives a Good.

On February 23rd, Kim Phuc was set to play at The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls. I've mentioned this place before; it's a smaller, cozier, and overall cooler venue than the huge former church that is the main building. I like going to shows here, and Kaiti and I were excited to go to this one.

We missed the first band like true lame-os because we left the house late. Autoreplicant sounded okay from downstairs. I'm sure I'll see them some other time


We did see Limousine Beach, a band that I had heard of before but never seen. They reminded me of Carousel, having the same frontman and a similar cheesy rock sound. Limousine Beach is playing up this kind of Kung Fury 80s neon aesthetic, at least from what I can tell, but sort of in a 70s hard rock, Kiss way. Some of the songs had the inane comedy of stuff like The Replacements' "Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out". It was fun, and it made a lot of sense to watch them play under the little points of light of the back, black wall at The Funhouse.


The second band for goobers that missed the first band (but the third band overall) was Microwaves. It was really loud for that space, that pulsing energy of Flying Lutenbachers/Melvins/Devo/Voivod elements that I have come to know. There is not much I can say about it that hasn't already been said. It's mathy noise rock, and it is good.


Kim Phuc was last, and they seemed in top form. I hadn't seen this band for at least five years, though they did play Skull Fest last year and maybe some other shows. Again, they were pretty loud for what really makes sense for that room, but it was heavy and wild, a camera roll of Iggy Pop in motion. The guitars had an excellent wobbling slashy sound from start to finish. The audience wanted an encore at the end, but there was none.

It was good to see Kim Phuc thrash out again. I was okay with the crowd not trying to kill me and each other too, though some might see that as boring. I think Rob, the frontman, supplied enough writhing for the whole building.

I discovered Wahono, an electronic producer from Jakarta, Indonesia, only recently. He's been releasing music for a few years now with his own label DIVISI 62 and thru Brooklyn label, Madjazz. I just heard  this new single earlier today.


The cover art to the single shows what looks like almost like an eye in maroon on a brown paper background. Various subtle designs are incorporated throughout the image. There's not much to look at here, but the colors make me think of the sounds contained within these files.

"Prambanan" opens with clicking and a gong. The song features various percussive elements in a discordant eerieness. I feel like I am being chased through the dark of the Other World. The layers of ghostly voices, bells, and drums creates a new reality for the listener.

Going to the other side, "Mabad" opens with a loop of voices as more metallic, percussive sounds enter the world. This track features more eerie vocals, though I do not know what they are saying. Slight oscillations in the air bring about an uneasiness, while various instruments enter and exit in unusual patterns.

"Prambanan" and "Mabad" are both stellar tracks that incorporate dance, electronica, and found sounds to make something that is almost otherworldly. Just check it out. It's great.

Prambanan / Mabad receives a Good.

How are you?

I have been feeling pretty bad lately. From existential death anxiety to job contract issues to cold and rainy darkness in the weather, I have been worried about all sorts of things. I was able to resolve the anxiety overall, and the job issues and weather are clearing up. And I actually had help from an unlikely source.

I usually watch a lot of YouTube videos about video games, which led to me creating a new blog based on my old YouTube channel. During these weeks of darkness, I had trouble focusing on things that I liked. I didn't care about learning cool facts in my downtime about the Sega Genesis or completing Link's Awakening DX on my Game Boy Color, and I even had trouble practicing with my band for an out-of-town show. What was I to do?

I had no idea, to be honest. While at work, dreading all night’s terrors, I read a lot of documents about physics, metaphysics, and parapsychology. This helped me feel better, but I only got through it all with another tool: YouTube radio stations.


If you have listened to electronic musick on YouTube in the last year or so, I am sure that you have come across suggestions about "lofi hip hop beats" radio channels. I had been seeing them for some time, often top suggestions, but I was apprehensive. I wanted to watch Video Game Historian, Pat the NES Punk, Game Sack, and other channels like that. Sometimes I wanted to watch trashy 80’s anime films that were only released direct-to-video. Other times, I wanted to watch live concert footage of bands like T. Rex, Lou Reed, The Ramones, or Yellow Magic Orchestra. The radio channels of YouTube looked cool, but I didn’t feel like they was something I really wanted to spend my time with.


In the vast void, the Gray Waste of Hades, that was my mental state at the time, I didn’t want the normal stuff though; it just served to remind me of the lurking shadow that was my fear of oblivion and decay. I clicked on the link for a playlist of Japanese City Pop from the 1980s. And it was fun. That was on my TV at home. This opened the door for me, and I went on to find a streaming City Pop radio station that seems to unfortunately gone missing since. At work I listened to a lot of “lofi hip hop radio – beats for depression/anxiety” and “lofi hip hop radio – beats to relax/study to”. I still felt like I was floating in a mental void at first, the vision of vaporwave holograms and blooming video game consoles reminding me of the end of the world, just more sunny. But I got over it. Those “lofi hip hop beats” really helped me out, particularly the ones prescribed for my condition. The sound of wind through trees, the disembodied voice of a person that sounded meaningfully inspiring, the calming rhythms and vibrations really made me feel better. And they still do. Even though I am not at the very bottom of that pit of The Nine Hells, I still get inspiration from these channels when I feel myself slipping.

From the bottom of my heart, I have to say thank you to YouTubers ChilledCow and Ambition. Thank you for all that you do, and thank you for all that you will do. It sounds kind of corny, but those "lofi hip hop beats" can be really helpful when you are feeling down. Check 'em out. Maybe they can help you too. It's always nice to turn to different avenues when you are upset: friends, family, art, science, and YouTube. Thanks again.

P.S. I don't think future funk is for me. That stuff gave me a headache.

Today, as with many other days, it is a rainy day in the city of Pittsburgh, the "Paris of Appalachia". It's rainy here pretty often despite the amazement exhibited by The Outcasts on their song about such things. This rainy day seems most appropriate for Hemlock for Socrates' barometrics, which the band describes as "an exploration of the variable humidity and dryness of certain word- and non-word sounds". I could end this paragraph with a dumb phrase like "let's get wet!", but I won't do that to you. It's just depressing.



barometrics has some cover art showing a road and overpass, seemingly here in Pittsburgh, through what seems to be a car window. The window is covered with rain. Rain is the theme here, so it all makes sense. The actual composition, the focus, and the text combined mean that the cover does not really mix together as would be hoped though.

The first track on barometrics is “across your neck”, a song laden with gothic imagery and weather metaphors. The guitars reflect of shining background synths and a danceable rhythm section. The storm dies down on “stilled wind”, an operatic, minimalist piece of eerie dissonance that reminds me heavily of Nico’s The Marble Index. The instrumentation is dramatic, springing from sparse whispers into a rise of activity and back again. Track three, “fresh tape”, is a little more rock-ish though still damp. I don’t love the way the two singers interact here, but the big amoeboid synth helps balance it out. I started to notice an element of late-era Bowie as I got close to the end of this song. “hurt you this way” is sort of a fairy tale opera. It’s a little overdramatic, though the end wraps the track up in a nice, circular way.

Side two starts with “come and gone”. It’s another dance-rhythm-driven track. These kinds of songs make me think of a more subdued Cactus Gamarra, a band that I reviewed last year. This track springs to life in the middle with some awkward synth horns. I am not a fan overall. “the forecast” presumably will include precipitation. This song gets all the parts right, vocals interacting with an unusual beat and shadowy, erupting guitar. Next is the “inclement weather” that was predicted. The showtune structure is corny. There’s more dynamic musical interludes, but the bombast has been done so many times on barometrics earlier. The metallic guitar is pretty cool, playing off of a buzzy synth and driving drums, so the song is not a total loss. “bite your tongue” is the last song with more of the lounge/goth drama. After so many tracks with these kinds of vocals, it’s really a downer. I like the synth/cymbal sound going on here, and the starry guitar and boxy drums make a nice sound together. As a whole, it’s a little too overcast, neither here nor there, for my liking though.

barometrics is a quite a gothic, cabaret, production. It's a rainy theatre show that is too mired in the downpour for my ears. The songs are decent, but they churn and churn in the drain to a depressing level. It becomes a task to listen to this album all the way through, at least for me. I think the vocals are too much, too theatrical. The instrumentation is well done and well produced, but with the mire of the mix and the vocals going for the smokey room of a burlesque show, the songs do not reach the heights that they could and should. barometrics gets a Neutral.

Recently, I came across a strange album on the amazing website known as Bandcamp that had me intrigued. The title was KCollab.06 and the artist was Ken Clinger & Friends. I was curious of the basic art and odd name that indicated a series, so I clicked on it. It seems that Ken Clinger is a legendary musician of cassette culture, and this is a collaboration he did with many other artists. The album met my expectations as a very cool, experimental (for real) album of strange sounds, reminding me of an album I put out called January. While KCollab.06 came out in 1991, and my album came out in 2015, this Winter of 2019, I want everyone to hear the odd instrumentations of Ken Clinger & Friends.
 

The cover art of KCollab.06 is not that great. It's a very basic, MS Paint style image with plain text, simple shapes, and bright colors. I like the composition, and the small images that resemble instruments or staircases give it an air of mystery. Still, the actual quality of the cover art holds it back.


The first track on KCollab.06 is "Sandra" by Don Campau & KC. I can only assume that the KC stands for Ken Clinger, but I will retain the way it is spelled on these tracks in the rest of the review. Anyway, this first track has a somewhat creepy tone, about how someone is "Sandra's tonight". Is Sandra a murderer? There's a synth buzzing around (maybe a stylophone), a droning back rhythm section, and some other kind of piano or something. The hypnotic musick drives the eeriness home.

Next Beeg Srahka & KC present "Fever Dream". This is a weird track of atonal tones and warped rhythms. It's exactly what it seems like it would be. The almost-vocal sound makes me feel particularly unnerved.

Then there's "John M Bennet" by DanKitti & KC. This track is all about a John M Bennet; it's sort of like a Mad-Libs thing, and the way the words are spoken remind me of the infamous Wesley Willis. There are some little chime-y things happening all around too.

“The Ant Party” is a great little percussive piece (I think it is a xylophone). It’s resonant, like tones through many chambers beneath the earth. Maybe there is some great machinery in there hidden somewhere. This could be a cool track in a video game and reminds me of one called MediEvil.

Belinda Subramen & Ken Clinger have the next track – “We Are All Part Of”. This is another spoken word piece with ambient backing. It really sounds like some kind of public access thing, an alien message, but really this is more of a cynical take on New Age magick.

Furgas-Clinger is the artist for “Anomaly”, a midi-sounding free jazz tra-la-la that goes back and forth into more melodic paths. I get the image of this song as being like a really bright, MS Paint image of a meadow, and I am not too fond of that. It’s also sort of like Warhol’s Flowers.

The seventh piece of song is Ray Carmen, Mike Crooker, Ken Clinger with “Anything, Anytime, Anywhere”, a really off-beat pop/new wave track like the 80s Jackson Browne. It’s a love song with a choral keyboard and a dance beat. I like the break with computer sounds and something that reminds me of a rocket jet. The muted production makes this track a little duller than it could be.

The John M Bennet seemingly makes an appearance on “Shoe Info Boiling”, a track like the earlier one about this guy. John M Bennet & Ken Clinger have created a sort of sea-shanty about a shoe, another Mad Lib, another mystery thought-provoker.

PurrPurr & KC do the next track – “Naughahide Slash Marks”. It’s very cinematic and reminds me of a track from the video game “Swagman”. It’s all big jumps of orchestra and twinkling nurseries. One could also make a comparison to Danny Elfman’s compositions for Tim Burton’s early films.

“This Is Not A Love Poem” is a grim song by Zidbovinesick where a rhythmic loop plays behind buried noise loops and a echo-y, monotone man. The man seems pretty hyperbolicly upset, depressed, and downtrodden. He keeps talking about getting pushed to the edge. The title gets cut out, as the speaker says it towards the end, before turning vicious.

DanKitti & KC return with the enchantingly dark, "Space Cow With A Difference". The song has an interesting rhythm to its freeform playing, and I enjoy the differences in texture, at least to a degree. The song shifts synth sounds way too much at first listen; it's basically a montage of little experiments, sort of like the album as a whole in one package, and I sort of like it. I was sort of irritated at first, but the song really grew on me with its, what I see as humor. It is a little long for what it is, though.

Next, Catfish & KC create "Elephant Sounds". This is another story about a girl who plays a tuba and gets bullied by her jerky relative until she gets back at him. The "Elephant Sounds" of the title are so deep and damaged; it's pretty wild. I really enjoyed the story, and it is an interesting take on abstract art and trends.

Bovine Milkman's "Vomitoxin" is a jolly stroll through buzzing showtunes. It makes me think of, like, walking down a staircase with purple and magenta walls while dizzy and sick in the middle of the night.

Dare to Fail & Ken Clinger have "April Afternoon", a more uplifting track with a chorus-laden synth in the background. The melody is pretty cheery with the beat supplied by bells. It sort of sounds like a track from an early Final Fantasy game, ambient and in the background.

Mike Tetrault & Ken Clinger are "Burning Now & Forever". Are they in Hell or in a volcano? I hope not. This is another spoken-word-over-ambient-sound. It's another grim, love-burned story to my ears. The title actually refers to someone's eyes. When the sudden end came, it made me frightened.

The last track is AMKC's "Rising Suns", another uplifting track full of echo, a harp-type sound, and a near-Motorik beat. It really reminds me of Kraftwerk's "Europe Endless", though totally different in significant ways. The vocals float over the landscape as we go out.

KCollab.06 is a spotty album composed of many parts. There is an ongoing darkness running throughout, an undercurrent to some of the porcelain musick found in other area. That thematic connection and weird tonality of the thing gives this collaborative release a lot of appeal, and it truly makes it experimental. I'm definitely going to check out some of Ken Clinger's other musick. There's quite a bit of it. This one, KCollab.06, receives a Good.

A man yells from a dungeon underneath our location. What does he say? Who knows? His face has been melted by science. I present to you, the Red Eyeballers who describe themselves as “Lo-fi, high energy merriment from the deep basement. Obscure 50s rock, pre-1970s Halloween music, and pre-rock country mixed together to make, well, to make something”. Once you listen to these songs, I’m sure that you will agree with them. I do.


The cover is a very tall order. It's a clipping from, what looks like, a newspaper proclaiming performances in Village Park by Pioneer Records, Point-Park's record label. It's a very tall image with some messy edits. I don't like it very much, though I think it's cool to use found objects in a creative way for art. This one is just sort of there in an odd size and with uninteresting, MS Paint style editing.

The first track on Blood From A Stone is a version of the folk song, “Big Rock Candy Mountain”. The song was first recorded by Henry McClintock in 1928 and supposedly written by him in 1895, but there is speculation that elements of the song existed before that. Unlock the quiet, acoustic recording from over 90 years ago, The Red Eyeballers have gone full speed into ramshackle, greasy punk glory. It’s so rickety, and the vocals are almost inaudible after the first few seconds. This is a hobo song about finding a surreal paradise, so it fits together pretty well. Next, there’s a cover of Bobby Pickett’s “Monster Mash”, the classic Halloween novelty song from 1962. The Redeyeballers is a live and lo-fi, with vocals buried with the undead. It’s endearing to hear the cheery song done so honestly, retaining its doo-wop and rock ‘n’ roll spirit in a scratchy, amateur way. The final track on what would be the first side is the Eyeballers version of The Misfits’ “I Turned Into a Martian” from the classic Walk Among Us. I don’t love the Misfits, and this cover sounds really silly too with a really goofy organ.

The second side of Blood From A Stone begins with something nearly unidentifiable that becomes shaped almost like the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! theme song. It’s pretty wild and awesome. I really like the sound once it gets in the groove. It’s another that goes into unhinged garage punk lands beyond Thunderdome. “Riboflavin-Flavored, Non-Carbonated, Polyunsaturated Blood“ is a song that I am not particularly familiar with, only having heard it a few times. It was famously covered by 45 Grave but originally recorded by the humorously named Don Hinson And The Rigormorticians in the 1960s. This version is more nasty with the blood getting everywhere, sonically. The singing is still buried but does peak its head out of the grave in a campy costume. Finally, we have “A-Bomb Boogie”, a psychobilly song by Batmobile, followed by Stephen Foster’s “Oh! Susanna” and “Camptown Races”. I didn’t know the first one at all, and the Stephen Foster stuff was a little too silly and messy. I didn’t really like this track that much. Part of the appeal of these tracks was hearing songs I know, especially novelty songs, in a messed up no-budget, garage whirlwind. The earlier songs fit a special way that this track lacks.
The Red Eyeballers are surely an interesting band of misfits and have produced a very fun and weird EP with Blood From A Stone. As much as I enjoy the recklessness of the recording, I do wish the production was a bit clearer. The tracks are way trebly with loud drums and nearly inaudible vocals. Still, I like the sheer boldness of the EP, and I did enjoy listening to it. Sorry to audiofiles everywhere, but Blood From A Stone receives a Good.

A few weeks ago, I got a message from another British band, The Lapels, about their new single and upcoming events. The band has been going all out for the last year with a recent appearance on the BBC Introducing - East Midlands 'Hot for 2019' show, and they have a new single, "Come And Have A Go", hitting digital platforms and record players (via 45) in under a week on the 19th. I had never heard of these power poppers before, so don't be afraid if this is also you're first time tuning in to them.


The cover art for the single is neat and clean with a throwback mod aesthetic of striped shirts. The 60s-styled logo is above as the band looks on while at a record shop. I really like the colors and the contrast. It works well with the retro throwback that The Lapels are going for.

The A-side, "Come And Have A Go", is a fast tune with ringing guitars with a heart of machismo, bravado, and camaraderie. I like the song sonically, tension rising and the lyrics being well sung too, but the song has more of that party rock theme, previously discussed in my review of Jack Swing's "Monkey Around", that I'm not that in to. The organ in the background provides an eerie counterpoint to the other instruments and rises, along with the staccato guitar, into a bottle breaking, bringing me to the question, "what is all of this for?". It reminds me of "Private Hell" or the political, "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight", both by The Jam, but this song lacks the ominous dread of the former or the anti-fascist fervor of the latter. Perhaps if the end of the chorus, with what comes off as a provocative threat, was more persuasive, more convincing to the call of battle, I would be more thrilled by this song.

The B-side is "This Wretched Town". I like the guitar tone, which again really sounds like The Jam. I wish it was a little more unique, but that's not the end of the world. My biggest issue with this track is that the lyrics are not that strong. The song is about feeling out of place in your small corner of the world and wanting more, a common theme in musick and one that I have related to, as I think most people do. That's all fine, but the actual lyrics are just so-so. There isn't a very interesting meter or rhyme scheme, words often just not rhyming at all, and the end of the chorus is just the phrase, "we're meant for more". Though nothing needs to be incredibly flowery, I wish it had been more poetic. This is a common feeling and theme, something that has been done many times. To state this theme so plainly reduces the impact this song could have.

After listening to the tracks thoroughly, I don't love them as much as I thought I would when I heard the first chords of either. The songs have elements of greatness, but, disappointingly, I don't think either track really meets where it needs to. I don't mind the garage/Mod callback, but that, combined with the standardness of the songs, means that none of this really lights my fire as of yet. I think that The Lapels have a lot of potential, and I see them as a band that could move forward into great things. I believe them when they say that they were "meant for more". At the moment though, I can only give their debut, "Come And Have A Go", a Neutral.

If you are more inclined to drunken ribaldry than I am, be sure to check out The Lapels on Facebook or their personal site and watch for their upcoming shows across Britain this February and beyond. While I was not the keenest on these tracks, I think this band would be really fun to see live and would love for them to come to the United States, Pittsburgh in particular of course. Maybe we'll see that in the future.

Myles Morgan is a member of London's indie/psychedelic/somewhat-shoegaze-ish rockers Young Native. He contacted me about reviewing his debut solo single, "Fool" out of the blue aether last week. I honestly didn't know what to make of it at first glance, but I was pleasantly surprised with the track after giving it a listen.


First off, the cover art looks very much like something from around 2001; I'm thinking Radiohead's OK Computer or William Gibson's novel from 2003, Pattern Recognition. There's that early 2000s blue, the fade of the city, shadowed, and the text small in the corner scrawled out and choppy. This, and the mention of it being a solo album, had me thinking that this must be something acoustic. It's not.

Starting with a whisper of guitar creeping in thru small quarters, "Fool" soon comes into a dub/jazz/rock heart-to-heart. It's over it seems; he won't be seeing that person anymore. The guitar slithers with indigo scales. The chorus comes in strong, perhaps betraying the rest of the structure going hard into pop. We go into a spooky ambiance dub that fades off before the musick comes in like ten tons of earth. The fuzzy bass is the best thing, and those haunting horns calling out from a marshland portray the singer's failure. The chorus makes sense within the structure of the whole thing. And, at the end, the musick disappears back into the haunted marshland.

"Fool" is a great track! I was very, very surprised since I was going in totally blind, but I really like it. It's like, very, very produced, and the layers are impressive. It's not badly overproduced like Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. The single comes off a similar sound to something made by The Good, the Bad, & the Queen, a band that does the dreary rock thing with a little too much polish that still works. This might beat that though. "Fool" receives a Good, and I am very excited to hear more of Myles' solo tracks when they fall from the blue aether.

You can find a link to purchase or stream the track here, and Myles Morgan is on Facebook here. Those in the UK can catch him on January 25th and February 15th in London. I'll still be here in Pittsburgh, for better or worse. In regards to all of these things, I make no money on any of it, so have at it what you will.

We last saw Suavity's Mouthpiece, the crooning nerdy punk band from the world of Pittsburgh, where I am also located. That's pretty convenient, though I've only seen this band that one time when we played with them. When I saw they had a new single, I was excited to hear it. Oh, and it is a Buzzcocks cover! And it is live.


The cover art is a live photo. It looks nice. I love the blue and gold colors like a New Years party, and the composition excels with its classic, reverent style. I really like the placement of the text on the image. Well done!

"Breakdown", originally by the legendary UK punkers Buzzcocks on their debut EP, Spiral Scratch, is presented here live by the Suavities from a show they played on August 11th, 2018 at Hambone's here in the Steel City. This was apparently their 10th-anniversary gig, and, though I did not see it, we have this artifact of recorded media from that time.

The sound is much less ramshackle compared with the British original with Howard Devoto on vocals. This one is slower and less scratchy, less furious. It's got a sinister urge behind it, a Devolution based edge of damaged Danzig. It's far different from what you might expect, though it's not like a lounge or death metal version or something. The songwriting of the late Pete Shelley and Devoto remains. My only real gripe is the odd boost in volume towards the end that comes in awkwardly. That's how it goes sometimes live though.

The B-side is "I Am A Goddamned Bird", a beautiful sounding reverb of nightshade, the sound of 80s Pittsburgh come thru the night's window, creeping under curtain to be heard, possibly, on the wooden floor unassumingly. "Was that something that shouldn't be?" calls out the boy to come to the conclusion that it must have been the house settling or some such. I love the guitar tone in this song so much, vibrato morphing and all. The lyrics come thru with Nirvana references in an even more cynical shade than Cobain. It ends, and I want more.

I'm sure I will get more in the future. It is the nature of the future to give us more and more. This is the capitalist, consumerist state. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. Suavity's Mouthpiece are a post-punk band from Pittsburgh, and their new single is Good.

Jack Swing is a Pittsburgh-based hard rock band with a sound that's like Hendrix via 70's punk-tinged heavier rock. Think Black Sabbath at their more punk or fellow Pittsburghers, the now defunct Carousel. The band is led by musical ace Isaiah Ross of Driver and The Pheromones. Jack Swing's first EP, Cloud Cover, hit in December 2016; I always intended to review it but never got around to it. Next, the single, "Take the Night", came out in March of last year. Their most recent release is "Monkey Around" another single that just rocked and rolled to the world at the start of the year.


While Cloud Cover went to high-action solos and high dynamics between loud and soft, "Monkey Around" has a compressed, punchy rush more like Joan Jett or the Black Keys. The vocals go hard in the speed lanes and soulful when it gets slow. The lyrics resemble a tamer Motorhead. I'm not found of these kinds of songs about being a wild guy and whatever. This one is very catchy though, just like "Ace of Spaces", and there may be more there than I can see. It sounds like there is something about revenge here too. I think the song is too compressed compared with the older material and loses some fidelity.



"Monkey Around" also got a musick video. That's pretty cool, and Isaiah and his bandmates have some cool scenes in it. Going along with the bad boy theme of this track, there are a bunch of scenes of like sleazing at a bar (it's weird to see a bar that's near my house in the video). Again, I feel like that's kind of overdone, played out, a rock standard from the AC/DC and Guns 'n' Roses playbook. There's something else here too, sort of a BDSM sex thing maybe? A hostage situation? It seems that the pair left together at the end, though I can't be sure. That mystery is kind of cool, though the hot girl thing is another dirty deed done dirt cheap.

I'm sorry to say that I am a little disappointed with this track. As I listened to the track more, the more I continued to dislike the production. The players all sound excellent, but the compression has killed the drums and left the rest flattened by a heavy metal iron. I want to hear the guitar cut through like so many falcons through the still air. The song is a little more straightforward and conventional than I would like too. It's a surefire pop challenge, but it's not for me. I do hope it gets some radio or Spotify play. "Monkey Around" receives a Neutral.

MARI themes

Powered by Blogger.