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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Phil 'N' the Blanks - Lands and People~, Head Screwed On*

Name: Phil 'N' the Blanks
Album(s): Lands and Peoples~ Head Screwed On*
Year(s): 1982~, 1983*
Style: New Wave
Similar Bands: Blondie, B-52's (minus surf), Cucumbers, Robin Lane, Go-Go's, Midnight Oil, Devo, Gary Numan
"One-Word" Review: Energetic Bleakness
Based Out Of: Chicago, IL
Label: Pink Records
Lands and Peoples - Cover & Record
Lands and Peoples - Back & Record
 Head Screwed On - Cover & Record
  Head Screwed On - Cover & Record
Lands And Peoples (1982)
  1. The National Dance Contest 3:49
  2. See You 2:51
  3. Lands And Peoples 3:47
  4. Meadowlands 3:29
  5. The Forest's On The Move 3:43/
  6. You Can't Call Me 3:46
  7. Exercise 3:28
  8. Cold Love 3:33
  9. Punctuality (Is A Virtue) 3:29
  10. Babble On 2:40
  11. Condition Red 2:44
Head Screwed On (1983)
  1. Head Screwed On 3:26
  2. Pockets of Pleasure 2:25
  3. A Space Traveler's Manifesto 3:15/
  4. Dance Dance 4:00
  5. You Look Like Someone 3:18
  6. Johnny Bit 3:54
Album Ratings (1-10): ~7.5
*7.5

Members & Other Bands:
Phil Bimstein - Vox, Guitars, Piano, Organ, Synth~*(Blue Haiku, Red Rock Rondo)
Blanche - Vox, Percussion~*Jacket Design* (Paisley Blacke)
Eric Kister - Guitars, Album Art~* (Cause or Effect, Johnny Moe & The Return, Vidiots)
Bill Hyland - Bass, congregation~*
Roman Zabicki - Drums, Percussion, Backing Vox~* (Slip, Vidiots, Norma Jean, XLR8, Hightones, The Pheremoans, )
Rick Canoff - Sax (Flock Horn Section)~
Tom Webb - Sax (Flock Horn Section)~
Frank Posa - Trumpet (Flock Horn Section)~
Fast Frank - Sax (Bohemia)~
Balkan Rhythm Band - Introduction~
Jim Hines - Linn LMI~
Nancy Austin - congregation~
Craig Williams - Producer~*
Kane Engler - Producer~*
Howie Weinberd - Mastering~
Greg Calbi - Mastering *
Michael Lapin - Cover Photo*
Scott H. Bank - Live Photos

Unknown-ness: I never heard of this band. But I found both of these albums together in a cheap dollar bin at the same time, and could not let them get split up. I liked their Gary Numan-like portraits on the second album, and the consistent pink, black & white art direction for both. The play on words name and 82-83 dates made want to pick these up. Assuming it is going to be Cars-like New wave…perhaps B-52’s with a female singer, so here we go.

Album Review: So the lead singer went on after this band to become Mayor of Springdale, Utah, promoting environmental activism, including speaking in front of congress supporting Utah’s wilderness. Blanche keeps up the website with info and links. The music is definitely new wave,
“The National Dance Contest” has a repetitive jangley guitar followed by a basic drum beat and even horns that echo the lead guitar. The first lyrics are that of the chorus. The vocals are typical new wave style: energetic and nasally. This feels like it was a really great live song, that loses a little translation onto vinyl. There are soaring guitar breaks, and the horns try to add depth to the song, but it still feels one dimentional. Later, there is an echoey female led chorus that reminds me of Sugarcubes. Then the male & female vocals duel it out, with the female vocals sounding a little like Belinda Carlisle. The song ends the same way it starts: with the chorus, just with a sudden stop.
“See You” is all bass at the beginning, and the rhythm guitar acting more as timed percussion than anything else. This features female lead vocals that are dark and wavering. The vocals are layered in parts, with a delicate harmony. But the song itself is driving, rattling, and dark. There is a little emotion to the delivery that reminds me a little of Sleater-Kinney.
“Lands And Peoples” has a bit of a world music vibe as it starts out with a jazzy section, that quickly transitions to dark bouncy bass. Male vocals start out the song with a cold, monotone rhythm. The song drives a long like a bored call and response Adam Ant song. When it hits the chorus, the female vocals come into the song, singing the chorus in the round with the male vocals. There are some sax squeals in the instrumental sections too, giving it a slight appeal to Madness fans. But over all, this has a dark, sterile B-52’s feel to it.
“Meadowlands” fades into a bouncy and jangley song, with a sly dark alley/sinister vibe. The lead guitar sounds like a forlorn video game melody. This is the crux of the song that repeats over and over again. The song follows the instrumental path, with only a flowing string of haunting and melody paralleling “Ooo-Ooo’s.” The male counterpart “Ohhhh-Ohhh’s” follows up taking over for the female vocals. The song fades out in the same mirror image of how it began.
“The Forest’s On The Move” is a driving guitar song, picking up right where the previous song dropped us off: in a dark and bleak, yet energetic nature. The male and female vocals take turns in the verses, coming together for a nice Celtic harmony for the chorus. Both seem a bit tense or angry. There is a big cut off to end the side of the album, just as the song is building
“You Can't Call Me” starts off with a fun power-pop guitar lick, and the female vocals are nervous and bouncy, with a smooth chorus. This is just a good song, again reminiscent of the B-52’s. There is a spoken, complaining breakdown, where the female lead is complaining to her love interest for not calling when they should. And of course, the song ends with a busy signal
“Exercise” begins with watery guitars and a deep bass beat, reminding me a little of the Violent Femmes. The nervous male vocals are like a monotone Gary Numan, and take turns with the female vocals. The chorus is just a fast paced repetition of “Ex” then “Exercise.” This simple song would, actually be pretty good to exercise to, with a good pace, and repetition. And it ends with an exhausted breath of air.
“Cold Love” has a steady, driving rock guitar lead, and the song skips along, chugging out the guitar and rhythm support. The song kind of feels like a Midnight Oil song. It is, however, somewhat one dimensional and forgettable.
“Punctuality (Is A Virtue)” starts with tick tock vocals, and is a side to side, pogo-ing, neurotic song. It features jangley chords and a simple structure that leaves a lot of lo-fi room, which in this case is a good thing, propelled by the bass line.
“Babble On” drives right from the get-go with electric guitars and a two kick drum beat. The song is much lighter than the other dark tones on the album. It is slightly arena rock, with some hey-hey-heys and loud guitars. And it fades out.
“Condition Red” starts with a shout out of “red” in this wavering male vocal led song. There is a cold dark tone buried down in the driving guitars and steady drums. The female vocals echo and along with a vibrant harmony, take care of the chorus, and the guitars re quite angular and even sound like early XTC at times. Well, maybe just once. It is the harmony that ends the album
“Head Screwed On” starts out sounding like Stevie Wonder’s “Part Time Lover.” Then the dark synth is added in low, and the driving new wave song takes shape. The song kind of feels like it is on a treadmill, and features only female vocals. This song is already more electronic than the first album, but it is still cold, slightly eerie and calculated. The layering v vocals at the end leads to a fade out.
“Pockets of Pleasure” is synth electronic right away with a fast, sinister pogo beat and a nasally near-computerized and monotone male vocal. This is a good dance song, and must have been fun to see live. There is a breakdown, explaining about all the sorts of pockets they are talking about, the whole time, there is a female angelic vocal in the background “Ahhh-Ahhhing” through to the fade out.
“A Space Traveler's Manifesto” employs more synth as the stand out instrument after a standard driving intro. After the initial section, a following bit simulates floating in space with held synth notes. The next part has the fvemale vocals explaining how the final frontier is space, and the sung vocals that follow are enhanced with echoing effects, which gives the whole song a bit of a feeling like a sped up Major Tom

“Dance Dance” starts out real familiar like, with a synth melody that is actually upbeat, and increases in tone. The crystalline melody creates an icy, yet optimistic outlook. The female vocals then start in, and this feels like a electronic and antiseptically pure, updated version of their first song from the last album: “National Dance Contest.” This feels like something that could have been out of the movie Solarbabies (which came out 3 years later).
“You Look Like Someone” feels like the same song, just with a little jitterier synth sound (out of a video game like Mega Man). The male vocals have a little more of sunnier side to them, but are still monotone and remind me a lot of Devo. The electric guitars level out the sterile feel that the vocals and ultra basic drum beat project.
“Johnny Bit” is a new wave synth version of a power pop song. There is a lot of crystal twinkling in the song and the song drives along, as all the songs do, on the kick drum beat. Also, it is very Devo-ish.

Stand Out Track(s): ~You Can't Call Me
*Pockets of Pleasure

Links:
Blanche's Blanks Site
Myspace
Phil's Wiki page
Phil's website
Blue Haiku
Starkland Records
'87 Chicago Tribune article
Chicago Reader Blanche's letter to editor
AZ Local
Discogs
Bandmine
Rate Your Music

Monday, July 28, 2014

Blotto - Hello, My Name is Blotto, What's Yours?

Name: Blotto
Album: Hello, My Name is Blotto, What's Yours?
Year: 1979
Style: College, Indie, Silly, New Wave
Similar Bands: Fabulous Fondas, Coolies, B-52s, The Fools, Weird Al, Devo
"One-Word" Review: Nerd-Wacky Disco-Surf
Based out of: Albany, NY
Label: Self-Released
 Hello, My Name is Blotto, What's Yours? - Cover & Record
 Hello, My Name is Blotto, What's Yours? - Back & Record

Hello, My Name is Blotto, What's Yours? (1979)
  1. I Wanna Be A Life Guard 4:10
  2. (We Are) The Nowtones 3:40/
  3. Stop; In the Name Of Love 4:26
  4. Bud...Is After Us 4:33
Album Rating (1-10): 7.5

Members & Other Bands:
Bowtie Blotto - Guitars, Vox (Star Spangled Washboard Band)
Sarge Blotto - Vox, Cover, Percussion, (Star Spangled Washboard Band)
Broadway Blotto - Guitars, Vox  (Star Spangled Washboard Band)
Blanche Blotto - Vox, Keys
Lee Harvey Blotto (Paul Rapp) - Drums
Cheese Blotto (Keith Stephenson) - Bass
Art Snay - Engineer
Joe Schuyler - Photography
Farnsworth Blotto - Producer

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of this band. But I picked this up in a discount bin on record store day this year, as this album hit all my curiosity buttons. Good year: 1979, Nice, playful artwork, slightly copied by the Neutral Milk Hotel guys, and a delightfully homemade feel to the back liner notes and type font. They employed the now-familiar-with-Ween shtick of using the band names as part of their names, rendering them basically anonymous. I like the black and white scheme, andover all this has a very energetic feel to it. I was excited to see what this sounded like.

Album Review: So these guys formed from the ashes of a comical act called the Star Spangled Washboard Band. They played and toured a lot, so it seems, and even went so far to carve their star in history by being shown as the 34th video on MTV’s inaugural day for their single here, I Wanna Be A Lifeguard.

“I Wanna Be A Life Guard” starts with a rumbling drum beat and surf guitars. Then the basic melody of the chorus plays on an organ/keyboard. The vocals are nasally and wacky in the tone and inflection of voice. The theme of the song is right out of the beach boys, updated by a nonsensical band. This could be a Weird Al song, too. The harmonized backing vocals really show a talent beyond the silliness that the mood creates. I particularly love the “Help Help Helps” of the chorus. And the final twist at the end is that instead of White Stuff on my nose, it changed to IN my nose. The song ends with the soft crashing of waves.
“(We Are) The Nowtones” is an introduction song of a fake band, or a stereotype of cover bands from their area back in the late 70’s. The song begins with a fake MC introducing the band to a club audience. The style is a slow surf song. The song introduces many typical things that bands went through or had: like roadies and sound man, and lighting experts. The song brings in a short section of disco, popular at the time, and probably a necessary part of cover bands from their era. The last section makes fun of the audiences of said cover bands, and it ends with the band saying thank you, which bands would typically do. All tongue in cheek.

“Stop; In the Name Of Love” takes the familiar doo-wop song and makes it disco. Again, I assume this is a mocking gesture of the style popular at the time: complete with whistles and a dancey bass beat that is almost more indie than disco at times (it is not as repetitious as typical disco). The vocals are exaggerated, and a little wacky as well, with the forced syllable stresses: a little showtuney.
“Bud...Is After Us” fades in with organ notes held and ringing in a 4 note pattern. Drums are slowly added, and the song takes on a ballad quality once the guitars and bass come in. But that was just the intro. The song becomes bass heavy, and the song has a minimal Gang of Four chanting feel. But of course, it is sillier than normal Post-Punk. The chorus breaks theme further, and is a power pop with harmonized sing along section with an up-melody lyric “leave everything to the joker.” The next section is an instrumental version of the Go4 section, or maybe more like Devo, and the power pop chorus is sung. A lofty chorus, reminding me of Danny Elfman’s Veruca Salt song from Charlie & Choco Factory floats by briefly, followed up with the post punk chant and neruodic, nervous vocals spoken over the chant. Keeping up with the song theme, I guess Bud, who was after them, was finally face to face with the singer, and he was “reasoning” with him.

Stand Out Track: I Wanna Be A Lifeguard

Links:
Discogs
Blotto.net
Nippertown
MTV
Allmusic
Facebook

Friday, July 11, 2014

Jukeboxer - Man Throughout the Ages

Name: Jukeboxer
Album: Man Throughout the Ages
Year: 2002
Style: Ambient Electro-Pop
Similar Bands: Stereolab, Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura, Ambient Brian Eno
"One-Word" Review: Moog Pop
Based Out Of: Brooklyn, NY
Label: Memphis Industries
 Man Throughout the Ages - Cover, Record, Mail In Form
                                                                      Man Throughout the Ages - Cover, Record, Mail In Form
Man Throughout the Ages (2002)

  1. Man Throughout the Ages 2:18
  2. Even Little Stunts 3:59/
  3. Won't You Sing With Now I Know My 3:21
  4. Sea Chantey 4:39

Album Rating (1-10): 7.5

Members & Other Bands:
Noah Wall - Vox, Composer, Electronics, Guitar, Keyboard (Tall Firs)

Amy Jones - Vox (Tuffy)
Tim Barnes - Drums, Mastering (Silver Jews, Neil Michael Hagerty, Essex Green, Jim O'Rourke, Tower Recordings, Matt Valentine, Sonic Youth, Text of Light, Beth Orton, Wilco)
Ben Piekut - Pots & Pans
Guy - Mastering

Unknown-ness: 
I’ve never heard of this band. I do like the cardboard cover, and the imagery/artwork, so that was a nice start. Made in UK label does not mean much, but it feels exotic. It is only an EP, so not much of an effort to decipher. Overall, I was just interested in what this record had on it.

Album Review: Jukeboxer is basically just the name for Noah Wall, an extrodinary musician who can play many many instruments. One account said that he writes more in a classical structure than pop-song. Overall the songs feel earthy, yet electronic. Ambient, but full of direction. The vocals demand the listener’s attention.

“Man Throughout the Ages” starts out with a carousel style steel drum, and a fun, playful sing song melody. The female vocals begin, and are fey, polite, and acute. Tt sounds like something from Belle & Sebastian or Camera Obscura on the slower side. Or even Saturday Looks Good to me. The organ is very important to the song, tying it all together. There are male vocals layered below toward the end. The song just feels too short, but it is very precise.
“Even Little Stunts” feels like a chrismas carol in the beginning with sleighbell percussion. This quickly changes with the addition of electronic fuzz and grinding, screeching guitars full of feed back. The song restarts itself with a carousel organ melody, and what sound like a variety of bird chirps. The light, pretty female vocals, couples with the male vocals set back bring an elegance and direction to the melody, which is ever-evolving without the vocals. A chaotic arrangement of different sound effects are layered over and under the main driving rhythm of  marching drums. The end of the song just features melodic feedback and the closing in march of percussion.

“Won't You Sing With Now I Know My” has echoing watery guitars like deep chimes in the begging. Following this up are moog-like electro notes ascending, then descending. A rattle symbolizes a radio station change, and the eerie female vocals begin. It still has a Belle & Sebastian feel to it, perhaps visualized through an Aphex Twin filter. The song finds its groove and becomes repetitive to the point of droning on, like a loop entrancing the listener. The song ends with an emphasis on the main hill/valley hook present in the song.
“Sea Chantey” starts with a ringing untuned guitar chord that is slowly strum. A general ambient ringing fades in and out, like a lighthouse beacon slowly rotating. The mood is sullen and dark: sad and brooding. Then out of the darkness comes an acoustic guitar bringing a warbley racket ball like effect in the background and the song takes shape and direction with a slightly upbeat melody. The darkness is still there in this instrumental. The bass line is perhaps the most interesting, and immediately catching element of the song, even after other Atari Break Out effects are added, it still stands to be reckoned with. Those elements fade, as if our boat has passed the lighthouse, and interesting town, and is now back out to sea. I’m just using the sea as a point of description because of the title, but the sounds, the now lonely ambient drips that sound like underwater whale dialogue, lend themselves to life on the sea.

Stand Out Track: Man Throughout the Ages

Links:
Wikipedia
bandcamp
facebook
Noah Wall's page
Absolutely Kosher
discogs
Noah's Bandcamp
Forced Exposure

The Johnston Bros. - S/T

Name: The Johnston Bros.
Album: s/t
Year: 1980
Style: Country Pub, Bluegrass
Similar Bands: Charlie Daniels Band
"One Word" Review: Small Town Country Grass
Based Out Of: Philadelphia, PA
Label: n/a
The Johnston Bros - Cover & Record
 The Johnston Bros  - Back & Autographed Sleeve
The Johnston Bros. (1980)
  1. Oh My Love 3:13
  2. Disco Lady/Country Boy 3:01
  3. Show Me A Sign 3:45
  4. This River's Too Wide 2:27
  5. Honey, You Been on My Mind 2:18/
  6. Runnin' Away From the Game 3:17
  7. All of Your Love 3:35
  8. Reflection In Your Eyes 2:58
  9. For What I Am 3:25
  10. Soldier's Joy (traditional) 3:37
Album Rating (1-10): 5.5
Members & Other Bands:
Arthur DuHaime - Bass
Mark Johnston - Drums, Vox
Kurt Johnston - Guitar, Banjo, Pedal Steel, Vox (Bon Jovi)
Wayne Johnston - Guitar, Harmonica, Vox (Lucky Oceans, Susquehanna River Band, The Hawks)
Lionel Cartwright - Piano
Gene Galligan - Piano, String Synth
Johnny Cuningham - Fiddle
Phillip Cunningham - Accordian
Wendy Britton - Backing Vox
Ellen Britton - Backing Vox
Bob Mignogna - Engineering
Marie Caron - Engineer
Jack Murray - Album Design / Cover Art
Dave Motko - Photos
Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of this band. But I like the clean cover of just the logo on the black surface. Looks like it will be Pub Rock all the way. I like the simple and centered back, very clean and well laid out. Looks like they are from the Philadelphia area, so that’s an added bonus. And it is from 1980, so again, a big plus in potential.
Album Review:
So this is basically a straight forward country record. Honestly, this is not in my comparative wheelhouse, so I’m not going to do very good here. As for the band, later in life, the lead guitar player became a god rocker, and toured with Bon Jovi in the mid to late 90’s. They still come back to the Philadelphia area and play out, as recently as 2004 in Lansdale (which is already 10 years ago…never mind about that recent part). And one lives in Georgia; 2 in PA.
“Oh My Love” sets the tone immediately with slide guitar and harmonica. Straightforward country music, from the swagger in the vocals, and boot clicking drum beat to the bouncy bass line. The chorus is nicely harmonized. After two cycles, the harmonica comes on for a spotlit solo, followed by the pedal guitar. The harmonized vocals come back for a little and the song ends on a guitar note
“Disco Lady/Country Boy” features some bold drums and a disco intro that almost rocks. Then the country vocals come in and take the song over. I’m sure hearing this song live in the middle of the set started with looks of concern with the amount it changed the style, only to relieve patrons when the song shifts into a straight forward rhythm banjo played country song. There is a brief moment of “Devil Went Down To Georgia” spoken-singing, then it heads back to the pub-style country song. This song was surely a sign of the times, and a product of a cultural collision.
“Show Me A Sign” is a slower country ballad, sounding more like real, classic country in melody and theme. This song shows their god-roots, as the song asks their god to show the sign, rather than the preconceived notion that it would be about a girl. The different country instruments take their turn showcasing a western “on the range” feel. I guess that’s the style and imagery they chose for singing about being “alone without their god’s direction”
“This River's Too Wide” is a much more fun, honky tonk banjo pluckin’ barnstormin dance. There is a tinge of god in the lyrics, but it is covered by saying somebody, rather than shouldering the burden entirely on their god. But the harmonies and bluegrass structure of the song makes it somewhat fun.
“Honey, You Been on My Mind” is a fast played bluegrass number. The chorus of the title is nicely harmonized, and the song is just a runaway banjo and guitar number. The melody is incredibly simple but catchy. This travels the fine line between Blue Grass and Country, but again, when it falls, it hits the Bluegrass side, thanks mostly to the tempo.
“Runnin' Away From the Game” takes side two back to the ballad side. The vocals are from a different brother: these are deeper, even a like a tamer version Randy Newman. If this was cleverer, it could have been on Ween’s Golden Greats album. It’s toe tapping catchy, and has that steel element in the lead guitar, and a very light production for the acoustic rhythm guitar.
“All of Your Love” has quite a soulful beginning, nearly sounding like Motown, complete with a very catchy lead guitar hook. The vocals change the direction of the song nearly 180 degrees, with the country swagger and even the bass line is still there, the song lost all of the energy it had in the intro. The theme of the song is being loyal to one and only one woman, giving all of your love to one person. Toward the end repetition and interpretation of the chorus/title, a female backing chorus adds a good depth to the song, but it never turns back around from quite an impressive 20 second intro.
“Reflection In Your Eyes” is another slow side to side swaying ballad, with slide guitar, and dopey bass line. This sounds like a countrified version of an older boy vocal group song.
“For What I Am” starts with vocals only. As the song stirs awake, it brings an acoustic guitar and evokes a sort of fantasy dream vision. It could also be mistaken for a Bee-Gees song, minus their same level of harmonic achievement. This is a lighters in the air arm swaying ballad.
“Soldier's Joy (traditional)” is their bluegrass take on a traditional folk song. The banjo stands alone for a while in the beginning, followed by a fiddle mimicking the melody. Then the bass comes in for a measure, then the drums kick in. Once they are all in place, the various instruments make matching, meshing melodies of their own. The harmonica is added, replacing the fiddle at one point. But this is another barn dancing song. An accordion is added into the mix, And as each lass would have their chance to do their own dance in the middle of the floor by watching, clapping and cheering their co-dancer on, the instruments take their individual turns in the spotlight. In true dance form, they all converge together at the very end, and a drummer boy beat fades the album out.
Stand Out Track: Honey, You Been on My Mind
Links:


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Holy Rollers - As Is

Name: Holy Rollers
Album: As Is
Year: 1990
Style: Garage, Indie-Core, Rock/Punk
Similar Bands: Bad Religion, Fugazi, Screaming Trees, Helmet, Life Of Agony, Animal Bag
"One Word" Review: Alternative Punk Metal
Based Out Of: Washington DC
Label: Dischord
 As Is - Cover, Record, Sleeve Photo, Dischord Order Sheet
                                        As Is - Back, Record, Sleeve Lyrics, Dischord Order Sheet
As Is (1990)
  1. Eleventy 3:09
  2. Freedom Asking 2:27
  3. Head On 2:36
  4. We 2:09
  5. Machine 3:08
  6. Dahlia 2:45 / 
  7. Opus 2:41
  8. Poison Lung 2:22
  9. Everlast 2:52
  10. Ode to Sabine County 2:54
  11. Sacred Minds 2:08
  12. Johnny Greed 2:25

Album Rating (1-10): 5.5

Members & Other Bands:
Marc Lambiotte - Vox, Guitar

Joe Aronstamn - Bass, Vox (Grand Mal)
Maria Jones - Drums, Vox (Broken Siren)
Juliana Luecking - Spoken Word
Geoff Turner - Producer, Vox, Guitar, Organ
Richard Robinson - Engineer
Jeff Nelson - Graphics
Peter Hayes - Logo
K. Sayengo - Typeset
Underwood & Underwood - Front Photo
Naomi Petersen - Band Photo
James Cohrssen - Hand Photo

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of this band. From the cover and back, I imagine some overly fuzzed out droning wall of sound music that couldn’t find a genre in the mid 90’s. This is based on the logo font, and the dual-colored bamboo forest cover and Graveyard monument band picture on the back. I know this is not popular, radio music, but 1990 was the year music changed. Just look at the 1990 MTV awards, and you will see it was the year that went out with the old, and in with the new. In any case, as a discount record bin purchase, I’m interested to hear what it contains.


Album Review: So the Holy Rollers got their start opening for Fugazi in a basement in DC somewhere, and are label mates with them and Minor Threat. They are politically charged bridge between punk and alternative rock.

“Eleventy” starts of the album with clanging metal cymbals, dark bass, and screeching guitars. Then fuzzed out guitars begin a wall of sound. The vocals are relaxed, and harmonized, as all members of the band sing. As this was before the majority of alternative music took off, it sounds like it fits in perfectly with zuxxed out rock tracks like Screaming Trees or Flowerhead. There is a musical change toward the end of the song, if only for a few seconds, where the song’s momentum speeds up, like the song is coming out of the darkness, then the bass drags it back down.
“Freedom Asking” has a fast driving guitar, followed by drums that remind me of helmet. The momentum breaks for the chorus, and it sounds a little British, like a dense version of the Posies. I could see this being a fun song to see live. This song possesses a weird hybrid between jangle pop and speed metal.
“Head On” has a funky intro with fuzzy guitars. Vocals are female, but powerful and driving in a monotone fashion (a little like Devo). It has a good prog-metal chorus of vocals for the chorus.
“We” is a driving song with unappealing vocals (to me at least). The revving guitar chords are good.
“Machine” has a watery bass hook at the start, and pounding, pressing drums that are matched by heavy guitars. There are some interesting vocals echoing in the background, but overall, the song kind of drags along. It’s just missing one element to make it really punch effectively.
“Dahlia” has whiney I don’t care vocals at the outset, that build with a melody all their own, into a head banging, metal number, reminding me of the less melodic Life Of Agony stuff. The end of the song feels unnecessarily rushed toward the end.

“Opus” begins the second side with a very watery, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin style bass that gets buried beneath metal guitars and vocals that are trying too hard, but come off a little flat. The song feels like it goes too long, then it just abruptly stops.
“Poison Lung” has a complex driving melody with a couple layers of guitars, a funky bass line, and a solid and steady drum. There is a bit of powerpop at the root of this song, in the chord changes. But again, the vocals just feel a little flat, and uninspired. The end has a very Janes Addiction wind down (before Janes was doing it), and the song is politically charged about the environment, so that’s good.
“Everlast” has loud droaning guitars played in a pop punk fashion. The vocals sound cold and aggressive, and the song really stomps forward with its head down. The chorus is a chanting hard core, call and response style. Immediately following the chorus, the music changes direction to be much more straight forward and driving. There is a big pause, and a much more metal (yet harmonized) chant starts. The song gets back to the initial head down stomp, and ends on a power chord.
“Ode to Sabine County” begins with single syllable chants, and driving metal guitars, which make up the verse. What seems to be an instrumental song then changes after two run throughs, and is becomes much more methodical and dark. This is the song that features the spoken/shouted word anger/political poem by their friend Juliana Luecking. After the line about a black man being beaten to death, the song cycles back to the initial chanting, and drives on to the end.
“Sacred Minds” again feels like a British psychedelic jangle song overlayed on metal guitars and bass. There are some good harmonies here, that get lost in the heavy instrumentation.
“Johnny Greed” is folksy with an acoustic guitar and cymbal tambourine percussion. This feels like a hippie demo of what is in their minds before they add all the heavy shit. This is like stage one, before a song like Sacred Mind and Freedom Asking is a hybrid, then there is the rest of the album. The song kicks it into a higher gear with the chorus of shouting, with feedback and distortion layered underneath as if to give prove to their metal cred.

Stand Out Track: Freedom Asking

Links:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Heum - s/t

Name: Heum
Album: s/t
Year: 2009
Style: Contemporary Jazz
Similar Bands: 80's TV Drama Themes, Vince Guaraldi
"One Word" Review: Charlie Brown Sad Sax
Based Out Of: Korea
Label: BIC Music
Heum - Cover, back and fold out
Heum - Inner Notes, Tray and CD
Heum (2009)
01. 그 극장의 마지막 상영 (The Theater's Last Show) 5:23
02. 花  (Flower) 6:14
03. 한 걸음에 두 계단 (two stairs one step) 4:12
04. Someday My Bassman Will Come 4:02
05. 일사병 (stroke) 6:50
06. 102 3:35
07. Psionic Storm 5:38
08. JJ 4:39
09. 우리도 아리랑 고개를 넘는다 (Going Over Arirang’s Head???) 4:35
10. Someday My Bassman Will Come (Soprano Saxophone Version) -  4:04

Album Rating: (1-10): 5.0

Members & Other Bands:
Choi Jung Heum - Sax
Lee Kwang Hyuk - Drums
Kang Yoo Hyun - Piano
Shim Young Joo - Bass
Carlos Manuel Navarrete - Album Art

Unknown-Ness: I’ve never heard of this band, and rightfully so, as it looks like they are from Korea. I liked the artwork, and finding it in a thrift store 50 cent bin pushed me over the edge to pick it up to try it. I’m just hoping it is something interesting, perhaps some experimental fun/noise stuff. But the packaging is a good enough sell for me.

Album Review: Instrumental Jazz is not my thing, and even though there are two songs with vocals, on the whole, this is not my thing, and makes me think of 80's TV show theme songs. So forgive me if I cannot make a well educated comparison for this album.

“The Theater’s Last Show” begins with a simple, klezmer –like sax, which is the primary instrument in this piece. There is a simple jazzy bass line in the background and minimal piano and drums. It is a fun, playful tune with an underlying sadness. Toward the end of the song, the sax takes a break, and the piano moves to the front, following the same ascending and descending melody. Around 410, the sad sax comes back, holding a final note for about 30 seconds
“Flower” has a twinkling piano intro, and is followed by a bluesy sax, painting a naive, yet slightly sinister picture. The tempo and momentum shifts, and the song graduates to a steady swagger as it progresses forward. A steady, toe tapping rhythm sections keeps the tempo moving forward. The true freedom to the song’s structure lies solely in the improve sax performance. In the verse, the sax feels like a slowed down Toejam and Earl Funkatron video game theme song.
“Two Stairs, One Step” starts with low, shady notes from a sax, and minimal piano played like a metronome, keeping the tempo. Light drums come in slowly, adding a bit of texture to the slowly developing song. The sax picks up the intensity and octave, yet the piano slowly plods along in the background.
“Someday, My Bassman Will Come” creates a smoky jazz club vibe with a low sax and tinkling piano that seem out of time with each other. This song has low vocals as well, nearly whispered. The vocals are replaced with the higher pitch sax, and the sad takes on a sad yet romantic shape. It reminds me of Stevie Wonder playing a slow Italian standard. The vocals come back in near the 3 min mark, and carry heavy sorrow with their quiet delivery.
“Stroke” is a bit of a driving jazz song. The bass and pianos create a repetitive ground, where each instrument overtakes the other. The sax has a confident sorrow in how it is played. Shortly after the 2 min mark, the bass has a chance to take center stage with a break out performance that sounds every bit as much as vocals as the vocals did before. Toward the end of the song, the sax answers, and brings the attention of the listener back from a bit of wandering time with a simple yet sharp melody.

“102” features a rolling sax melody played over minimal piano, and even more minimal bass. The start-stopping of the notes again make me think of a good many theme songs to office/city oriented tv shows in the 80’s. The melody is repetitive, but easy to follow along with, and does actually vary slightly as the song progresses.
“Psionic Storm” starts with a spastic multi layered horn, and a dark, brooding bass line, with wood block percussion that grows into the densest and complex drumming on the album (but is still not that complicated). This song feels the closest to a straightforward rock/pop song, thanks to the rhythm section. An organ is added to the mix, guiding the bridge along over two repeating, held notes. The organ gets moe complex, and create a somewhat psychedelic tone in the pit of this driving rock song. Past the 5 min mark, ti feels as if it could go on forever, then it just stops.
“JJ” sets out to reconcile the previous song, taking it back to the smooth jazz standards of piano and metronome percussion. This song features a soulful, R&B vocal between male and female vocals. It is kind of like a slowed down, less energetic version of Jamiroquai’s Virtual Insanity.
“Going Over Arirang’s Head(?)” has echoy bongo drums to start out, and it is a slow piano ballad. The sad sax is added in, and the piano sounds or stereotypical oriental melody.
“Someday, My Bassman Will Come (Soprano Sax)” returns us to the 4th track, but rather than a smoky lounge, the sax carries the song along with a less somber mood. It is more reminiscent of daybreak than the dark tone the original song created. But the song comes to a very slow and drawn out conclusion with held notes and a final walk off into the sunrise.

Stand Out Track: JJ

Links:
BIC Music

Monday, July 7, 2014

Boogie Boarder - Pizza Hero

Name: Boogie Boarder
Album: Pizza Hero
Year: 2009
Style: Instrumental Prog/Indie
Similar Acts: Chomolodeon, Man Man, Mr. Heavenly, Holy Fuck, Cornelius
"One Word" Review: Surf Prog
Based Out Of: Brooklyn, NY
Label: Famous Class
 Pizza Hero - Cover and Back
 Pizza Hero - Inside Cover and Inside Back
 Pizza Hero - Pages 1-31
Pizza Hero - Page 32 & CD
Pizza Hero (2009)

  1. Sparks 3:46
  2. Bio Hassle 4:17
  3. Pig Pile Part One 2:33
  4. Pig Pile Part Two 4:24
  5. Bummers Begin 4:09
  6. Little Giants 4:58
  7. Dirty Gary 0:59
  8. USRA 4:48
Album Rating (1-10): 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Cyrus Lubin - Drums
Willie Miesmer - Bass
Paul Gladstone - Keys

Unknown-ness: I don’t know anything about this band. Just saw the ‘zine in a thrift store 50 cent bin, and thought it was worth the look & listen. I’ve always been a fan of artwork to accompany the music: I think that’s just the way to fully experience the music: to take in visually what the artist wants to link to the audio. And this is why I don’t subscribe to the MP3 game. It’s easier and more accessible in general, but music loses a lot of its artistic value standing alone. So with a band called Boogie Boarder, plus a juvenile album name like pizza hero, combined with the cd inside a ‘zine, I’m really not sure what to expect. Perhaps something zany and experimental.


Album Review:  
With no musical credits in the liner note, it took some searching to find out any info on this Brooklyn band. The album is still available for purchase, and with their last album streaming on band camp from 2012 (recorded in Philly), it would seem they are a still active, mostly instrumental prog-like surf band

“Sparks” begins the album with layers of fuzzy guitars Smashing Pumpkins-like guitars, and echos of other effects zooming about below. The hook repeats a bunch of times, building up momentum and releasing it after every cycle. It then returns the the prog like intro melody, with some deep echoing vocals. Single note prog rock on the electric guitar fills the bridge between “verse” melodies. This song insists on grooving head nods as the requisite dance move. An alarm like guitar played on loop carries the song out and into a low hum.
“Bio Hassle” is driven along by a catchy bass line, and “passing car” guitars are scattered (but in rhythm) across the surface. The chorus is a distorted vocal section that parallels the lead guitar melody. The song speeds up and slows down in a fun roller coaster of time changes, and again, has that progressive feel to the arrangement. Yet underneath of it, with the crashing fuzz and the chirping guitar, is the element of Surf that is not immediately recognizable, but is undeniably there. He song finishes up on a nice back and forth guitar section that feels like a reprise of the chorus guitar/vocal parallel.
“Pig Pile Part One” starts with a twinkling jangley guitar, that is part surf and part shoegazing. It meanders around, only giving hints to the catchy pure surf hook that is coming up. It really creates the image of the waiting for waves, and then the ocean sucking you out with the tide, and building to a fun carnival ride, taking the wave to the shore, then starting over again with the patient waiting. The layers are fun to peel back and examine one at a time: The pinpoint lead guitar hook, the bass answering the lead guitar, and the crunchy supportive guitar, All pulled together with a minimal drum beat. As the song moves forward, abandoning the initial melodies for bigger and more crashing sections, the intervals repeat, the momentum continues to grow and the speed builds. It then dumps us off right where the song begins with the guitar and echoing effects layered underneath. The last minute of the song builds a wall of sound until it falls away with a couple final notes.
“Pig Pile Part Two” has a back and forth guitar/bass cadence with crashing cymbals and the feeling of directionless meandering. The song speeds up and slows down on a natural cycle of its own, and again to the nature of video game music, could be played at an infinite hook, and adding in the theme of prog rock, with slight variations to those repetitions. The plucked guitar alarm-simulation melody starts out strong, but fades to the back with the soaring, echoing vocals, while layered over are head banging chord changes coupled with crashing drums. Then it stops abruptly.

“Bummers Begin” possesses a looping bass and rhythm guitar section with crashing cymbals added, as the bass line jumps up and down octaves in rotation. A minute later, the song transitions to a more driving Video Game sounding section of Mega Man proportions. Man Man “la-la-la-la” style vocals are added into the song, and the song restructures itself, and builds with ringing guitars and building fuzzed up guitars and running drums. A guitar replaces the vocal melody, and it feels very prog-like. At 3:30, it returns to the introduction loop of bass and one note played rhythm guitar.
“Little Giants” has a similar start to it as PPP1. Then the bass is added in in short call and response intervals, all the while, a shuffling drum beat keeps he song nervous and just a little jittery. This song really feels something out of Cornelius’ catalogue.  The song is very tight, with short sections played out in a well-crafted structure.
“Dirty Gary” is immediately a repetitive trip back into an early 90’s alternative world, with an In Utero sounding guitar riff.
“USRA” transitions without break, flattening the sound out, allowing a chorus of distorted vocals enter, overlaying the heavy guitar base. Once in a while the surf guitar element will be added, but mostly, this is a head down & banging, heavy guitar display. Nearing the end, the guitars and underlying support guitars speed up over hectic and chaotic drumming. They find a middle ground and set out in agreement, simplifying the melody and then changing it again to a more driving pace, allowing an organ in the background, and more distorted vocals overlaid. The organ carries out the song for a 30 second note hold.

Stand Out Track: Pig Pile Part One

Links: