***Click on 000list to see the full archive of album reviews (includes links to the reviews & stand out tracks)***

~~~Click on Thrift Store Music Player to hear all the stand out tracks~~~

^^^Click on Art Gallery to browse the album covers^^^

Blog Archive

Friday, August 29, 2014

Skinner Box - s/t

Name: Skinner Box
Album: s/t
Year: 1988
Style: Folk, Ethereal, Gothic, New Age
Similar Bands: Dead Can Dance, Enigma, Cocteau Twins, Tangerine Dream, Aphex Twin, Aimee Mann, Residents
"One Word" Review: Warbley New-Age Space-Goth
Based Out Of: Los Angeles, Ca
Label: Bobok LTD, Red Rhino /Cartel
 Skinner Box - Cover, Record, Lyrics
Skinner Box - Back, Liner Notes, Insert
Skinner Box (1988)
  1. Drowning Street 2:44
  2. Field of Holes 3:29
  3. Slide of Glass 2:23
  4. Grenadine 2:42
  5. A Low Bird (instrum) 2:22
  6. The Turnaround 5:13
  7. Proud Flesh 3:02
  8. File Under R (instrum.) 3:13
  9. Born to Be Ice (instrum) 3:41
  10. At the Portal (instrum.) 2:21
Album Rating (1-10): 3.0

Members & Other Bands:
Julianna Towns - Vox, Composition, Production (Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Peace Corpse, Hue & Cry, Molsem Birth)
Mark Erskine - Composition, Front Cover Illustration (Savage Republic)
William Sassenberger - Band Member (Peace Corpse, Molsem Birth, Toxic Shock Records)
Gustav Holst - Translation of intro on The Turnaround, from "To Veruna" of the Rig Veda
Biff Sanders - Recording
Diane Pettengill - Layout
Lance Boyle - Typesetting

Unknown-Ness: I bought this one in the early days of TSM collecting, and I think it was just in some pile of stuff that I bought because I had not heard of it. Sometimes, something as simple as NOT being Johnny Mathis or Perry Como can be the justification for buying an unknown record. This one has a very native American feel to it with the red ink, almost tribal tattoo artwork on a grey stone background. I imagine this to be something earthy. What aspect of earthy I’m not sure: new age or nu-metal or something in between. I’m not sure I’ll like it, nor am I sure I’d pick this up again based on its artwork or date if it were in a larger dollar bin / thrift store of opportunity.

Album Review: I could not find too much about this band, although signs point to a couple of albums from this band, which is mainly singer Julianna Towns, who has been part of a couple other more popular bands. Solo work brought under a band nomenclature.

“Drowning Street” starts with a very earthy and liquid guitar, reminding me of a style of Aphex Twin’s ambient songs. The singing is not far off from Aimee Mann’s voice, just a little darker and deeper. The song is punctuated with deep and heavy drums, off tuned guitar notes and echoing crashes. It does have a tribal sense to it and feels like it is trying to recreate an eerie thunderstorm.
“Field of Holes” from the first chime, the same dark tones are present, but it takes on a middle eastern feel with bongos and meandering guitars. But that is just the slightest bit of Indian influence. The vocals are a version of 60’s psych, somewhat monotone chant singing with an echoey production. Near the end of the song, like a zombie, male vocals are added to bolster the droning melody, and the song quietly slips away.
“Slide of Glass” has a buzzing sitar like note in the beginning, but the song picks up a rocking melody with a creepy, residents like effect placed on the instruments. This is all male vocals, and is observational art monotone singing that an actual melody. The song relies on an alarm like synth note that is added in the back end to create a substantial wall of noise.
“Grenadine” takes us back to the warbley new age dream sequence of the first two tracks. This is the kind of echoing chimey music you would hear as ambience pouring from the speakers in a new age crystal, wicca and magic shop in New Hope circa 1993.
“A Low Bird” is the first of three instrumentals, and it contains all of the new age elements as described earlier. The tones of the song remind me of how Bohdai, the alien ball of light from Solar Babies, would talk to Lucas Haas, Jason Patrick, Jamie Gertz, and the rest of the hero group. Seeing as this album was released 2 years after the film, we can only assume both were of the same demographic. Even though I still love Solarbabies, but am not that big of a fan of this

“The Turnaround” continues on the new age theme, but carries almost a celtic funeral feeling to this: bleakness and mourning are present emotions to the melody. A man’s voice recites a poem or story of some sort (not unlike the Sugarcubes or Belle & Sebastian) over the eerily music. This has all the feel of a new age interpretive dance, where the vocals are the inner dialogue of a mime portraying his feelings. This has nothing that I look for in music.
“Proud Flesh” does nothing to mix things up. Dark tones of echoing bells, like a metal xylophone or tubular bells play out with a dead woman’s chant ghostly gliding over the top. The vocals are layered, creating a chorus effect, angelic buy deadly at the same time. This takes the creepy element of the Residents and really boils it down to a basic form.
“File Under R” is a long instrumental track keeping its metaphorical head down and running straight through the repertoire. There is a more optimistic side to this track. There is an 80’s new wave song that I can’t put my finger on that sounds a lot like this…maybe someday I’ll come across it again. It is composed of echoing guitar with haunting chords rise from behind with muted ice breaking percussion in support.
“Born to Be Ice” fades in with a buzzing flute along side a second woodwind sound.  After the intro, it feels like tones and random notes meant to support a story telling element like a film score, or radio show. Then as quickly as it began, with some large, muted sounds reminding me of a rhino or elephant, the short instrumental part of the track ends. And it returns to the cold new age music and more spoken word storytelling overlaid. This is an exercise in jazzy new age music with interpretive beatnick art spilling out all over the place. Windy effects create chilling, twilight zone effects, and the avant-garde performance piece runs through with a final echo.
“At the Portal” again has more optimistic new age celestial music echo and play out angelically. The whole song has a rising on a warm stream of air feel to it, but it lacks a concrete matter, and is just ideas and fluff. For a second, the ideal trembles, but as the song and album concludes, sun is the victor, and the good guy seems to have come out on top. This is just shit.

Stand Out Track: Slide of Glass

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Prowler - Communizzle

Name: Prowler
Album: Communizzle
Year: 2006
Style: Electro/Punk, Party Rock, Indie, "Dinosaur Thump"
Similar Bands: Gil Mantera's Party Dream, LCD Soundsystem, Of Montreal, Dismemberment Plan
"One-Word" Review: Prince-Wannabe-Party-Rawk
Based Out Of: Philadelphia, PA
Label: Self Produced
 Communizzle - Cover, CD, Tray
Communizzle - Back, Center Liner Notes
Communizzle (2006)
  1. World Domination 4:02
  2. Pretty Bird 2:39
  3. Us Huh Yeah 2:18
  4. Prowler Theme 3:27
  5. Fresh 2:22
  6. Keep It Bubblin 2:37
  7. You're A Freak 3:37
  8. Nancy 3:26
  9. Poison Ivy 5:43
Album Rating (1-10): 4.5

Members & Other Bands:
Keith Warren Greiman - Vox
Mike Staszeski - Bass
Ryan Kerrigan - Guitar, Drums
Darren Blase - Mastering, Producer
Keith Andrew Shore - Rantings and Drawlings

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band, or maybe I've seen their name playing a show in the area, but I don’ know them at all, or know their style. From the cover, it seems like it will be some sort of garage-indie, self-proclaimed, heavy thinker album on intricate production. The artwork lends me to this idea. Also, apparently the CD is a ripped copy, but is done “semi-professionally" with a full artwork sticker on top of the tell-tale marine blue burned disc bottom. Without a record label, I only assume this was self-produced and distributed/sold.

Album Review: Apparently I was wrong about my ideas of what this band is. They are more party rock with simple electro samples and hooks. The singer is more into his cartoon-like weird art than the band,, and I can’t figure out if the album cover art is his (Keith Greiman), his alias, or a different person with a similar style. They are still a band, so they could still be out playing here in Philly.

“World Domination” starts with a gloomy piano and party cheers from the singer. The song kicks n with a noisy, tinny party beat, and crazy energy in the vocals, which are more like shout-cheering syllables rather than singing. The gloomy synth and keyboard filters in from the background during the wall of sound verse, and is much more prevalent in the musical breaks, joined by party cheers. It’s pretty repetitive, but in a solid, good way. The end of the song gets real quiet, winding down with synth hand claps and whispered vocals.
“Pretty Bird” is a twittering, down scale note section, and the singing is basically white rapping. There are musical breaks, giving a little electronic keyboard section, stopping the momentum of the tinny guitar and energetic singing. There is a catchy guitar hook buried down below some muddy synth rhythmic effects, and then the song shifts over to glass bottle percussion to end the song.
“Us Huh Yeah” has a simplified Digital Underground style bass and drum beat. The energy in this party rock song comes off as annoying to me, with the over play of the whoooooo’s, which would even embarrass Ric Flair. The electric guitar is more jangely in this song.
“Prowler Theme” has a kick drum rhythm, with short Hey-Ho vocals. The falsetto singing over revving guitars offers a balance of emotion and metal. The vocals are again, party rock emotionally shouted over the thick guitars, and they remind me, especially with the overused inflections of the voice, and a bit of nervous jitteriness, like Early Dismemberment Plan. But in a bad way.

“Fresh” starts with a record scratch, and it takes on a funky vibe, with vocals of liking white women/girls, and that the singer, over confidently, says, in his best falsetto, he’ll fuck them good. It is like a nerdy attempt to be Prince, and it doesn’t even come close to being a parody: Just a cheap attempt. Some odd synth effect are chosen to end the song, that don’t really fit into the rest of the track, but add cohesion to the rest of the album.
“Keep It Bubblin” begins with a simple drum and scratch beat, and the title of the song is repeated over and over to the rhythm. Swipes and other electronic effects are added, and the song progresses into a bit of a rap. It retreats to the original hook, which is not that strong, and is very underdeveloped. As the song moves forward, a ringing effect is added, and the song manipulates the previous hook in a different way, and bny the time the song ends, it feels like the band just abandoned the track.
“You're A Freak” starts with the party vocals and rhythmic strumming, and is followed with a funky bass line. Again the idea of Prince is employed, albeit, not well, (like they are trying to be Ween trying to be Prince), and the song just moves forward with the one note guitar, and side stomping bass. The song title is sung through a mechanical larynx, as a call to the singer’s response, and it is this voice that fades out as the song ends.
“Nancy” is very annoying with the way his vocals go monotone and raise like a hen when he sings Nancy. The space-age swiping synth effects are nice addition to this party song, but the calling vocals of the chorus are tough to get over. There is evena slight middle-eastern vibe to the end of the song, with the guitar and flute-synth effects creating a sort of world rhythm.
“Poison Ivy” starts with a single slow drum beat, like the dinosaurs coming in Jurassic park, and a skittering crickets. A cymbal is added, followed by a echoey door knock, and this is beginning to sound like an industrial song. A single note bass rhytm is added, as is an electric fuzzy guitar, and the song takes a gloomy shape, not unlike the first track. At 1:45, the song takes a turn into an in-the-round singing of Poison Ivy with tribal drums in the background. All the elements continue once the instrumental verse picks up and the song just goes into a jam session of electronic sounds, only briefly coming back to the poison ivy “chorus” vocals. The last 30 second of the song are vocals chanted like they are conducting some dark, sacrificial ceremony of poison ivy. The short guitar hook and door knocking effect wind the song, and album down with a fade out.

This album was easy to have on as backing music while I did not pay attention to it for a while, but once I really listened to it, I did not become a fan.

Stand Out Track: World Domination


Friday, August 22, 2014

(the) Nobodys - No Guarantees

Name: The Nobodys
Album: No Guarantees
Year: 1984
Style: New Wave
Similar Bands: Bolshoi, Foreigner, Mick Smiley, Fad Gadget, Howard Jones, Talking Heads, Thomas Dolby
"One-Word" Review: Creepy-bleak-Spanish-cop-procedural-synth.
Based Out Of: LA, California
Label: Capitol, EMI
 No Guarantees - Cover & Record
No Guarantees - Back & Record
No Guarantees (1984)

  1. No Guarantees 4:02
  2. I Scratch 3:14
  3. They Didn't Offer Me You 4:10
  4. Just One of Your Legs 3:13
  5. What Can I Do? 3:16/
  6. I Am Helpless Without My Computers 4:25
  7. Drops of Water 4:05
  8. The Gang on Fortune Hill 4:00
  9. I Don't Mind 5:20
Album Rating (1-10): 5.0

Members & Other Bands:
Safeway Goya - Vox, Producer (Squid)
Alex Blanc - Guitar, Keys, Vox (Squid, Poe)
Eric Garcia - Bass, Guitar (Poe)
Ken Ypparila - Guitar, Violin, Keys
Timex Burke - Drums (Woody Herman)
Sarco - Engineering

Unknown-news: I’ve never heard of this band. I don’t remember where I picked this up, but I think it was in a stack of thrift store records early on in my collection. Their logo is simple and clean: white on black forms a recognizable image, with a bar across the eyes preventing theoretical identification, to match their generic and anonymous name. I thought the band photo on the back, even though it is a little dark, was a good enough reason to pick up the album. 1984 was not a strong year, but still proved to be worth a discovery for a dollar.

Album Review: The band itself produced general new wave with keys and emotion, even rising to a level of notoriety most bands could only dream of. Their single and album title track was featured in the movie Firstborn, starring Peter Weller & Teri Garr in 1984 and it was in an episode of Miami Vice (#27, "Buddies,"). Yet after the one album, the band disbanded, and the singer (brother to bandmate Alex Blanc [de Rafols]) is now teaching Spanish at the University of Nevada Reno, and has reverted to his original name Fred.  The stage name was taken to represent his Spanish-American roots, with the grocery store Safeway and Spanish artist Carlos Goya comprising his background.

“No Guarantees” is the supposed single that appeared on the big and small screens. It feels right out of Miami Vice, and I would have probably noted it if it wasn’t true. The bouncy synth bass has a sleek 80’s yacht wealth of a sinister kind feel to it. There is a dark keyboard hook too that adds to the creepy underbelly of crime vibe. The lyrics paint a sorrowful, negative picture of life and future to add to the shady nature of the music.
“I Scratch” is a jittery synth bass line and drum beat that is full of drive. The guitar strums and his Bob Dylan style vocals don’t blend very well to the song style, until they become cohesive in chorus: “I Scratch, but you don’t itch.” Again, this song, too, is kind of creepy in production, but is much catchier than the first song. I’m reminded of a poppier version of the song “Magic” from the Ghostbusters soundtrack that plays after the ghosts are re-released. There are plenty of synth effects layered over, like bells and groundswells, the bass / drum line never gives up or changes, except for one full-stop pause.
“They Didn't Offer Me You” has an even deeper and darker pulsating synth bass note, and it is overlaid with optimistic twinkling synth notes. The singing is dark and monotone. A jangely guitar picks up, and creates a bleak, tundra-like songscape. The song has a sort of U2/Midnight Oil anthemic quality to the chorus. The song feels like it goes on for a little too long.
“Just One of Your Legs” starts with a synth ballad like production. I’m talking about the mid-evening slow song at a 1986 middle school dance. This might be a Phil Collins Easy Listening song, with a Howard Jones / Thomas Dolby delivery. Then the lyrics are creepy: the guy just needs one leg to help him get through…something. After a minute 20, the song picks up with a steady drum beat and soaring guitar. And this change makes the song much more enjoyable. And the song ends letting go of the rock mid-section, and reverting back to the beginning ballad
“What Can I Do?” brings the dreamy 80’s synth love song vibe back, but couples it with a dark bass groove, and the song transitions into a sort of salsa tempo, and is later exaggerated with Spanish lyrics and a brass/trumpet section. The song creates a nice tempo and fun Spanish flair, done up under a new wave bow.

“I Am Helpless Without My Computers” has a funky groove to it, starting out with a four beat kick. This song is a good 10 years before the internet took over all of our lives, and before the true home application for a computer was envisioned. I remember the Married with Children episode where the computer nearly took over AL’s life, and he was all get off my lawn, computers are a waste of time. That was a good 5-7 years after this song. So just for that, this is a very interesting concept and song. The execution has a bit of a choreographed dance to it, but the tempo and outlook of the song feel quite organic and pleasant. He even references a Social Media of sorts: “I am helpless without my computer / How Can I relate / All the social madness / gone to waste.” The verse to chorus build up is a pretty good build and deliver one-two punch. It is not as strong as other great example of the anticipation and delivery song structure, but it is good. Toward the end of the song, there is a much darker breakdown. It becomes sinister and brooding, before it breaks free from the dark grip into the proclaiming, lighter chorus.
“Drops of Water” has a Talking Heads dancy guitar and dark bass combo to get the song started. The guitar balances out for the verse and is replaced by a piano as the driving melodic force. It comes back in the bridge between verses, and is added to with other darker synth production elements. The chorus has a light, simplistic Thomas Dolby feel to it. There is an islander breakdown with bongos and deep synth tones. Mixed with it is an Dark Americana guitar section, giving this song a ominous feel. The song kind of just ends
“The Gang on Fortune Hill” starts with Spanish guitars and feels like a folk version of a specific dance style song. Other effects and tempos to the song give it an island feel too, but there is a fine line between the forms. This would be the story song that would introduce a band back out onto the stage after the full set. Low lights shining up from behind the members through a thick veil of fog, casting big, black shadows on the walls while the faceless figures, cast in darkness, play their parts on stage.
“I Don't Mind” is a mix between a cop show (LA Law) montage and a late period Talking Heads middle album track. The song carries with it a knowing, importance, and stomps around childishly trying to not prove its point in a straightforward fashion, but to communicate it through osmosis. Again horns help out support the melody, as well as a lonely back-alley sax. The song takes all these sections, and puts them on repeat, really overstaying its welcome.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

David Moss Dense Band - Live in Europe

Name: David Moss Dense Band
Album: Live In Europe
Year: 1988
Style: Experimental, Avant-Garde
Similar Bands: John Zorn, Brand X, Secret Chiefs 3, Fantomas, Mr. Bungle
"One Word" Review - Schizophrenic Asian Racquetball 
Based Out Of: NYC, NY
Label: Ear-Rational
 Live in Europe - Cover & Record
Live in Europe - Back & Record
Live In Europe (1988)

  1. Two to Three to Tango 4:07
  2. Re-Shuffle 4:09
  3. Day to Climb 4:20
  4. Full Step 4:18
  5. Glider 3:18 /
  6. Neural Sense 4:31
  7. Song of the Possible 4:43
  8. Slant Lines 5:38
  9. Slow Talking 5:17
Album Rating (1-10): 5.5

Members & Other Bands:
David Moss - Drums, Vox (Bill Dixon Ensemble, The Golden Palominos, Denseland, Direct Sound, The Markus Stauss Project, Meltable Snaps It, Paul Brody's Detonation Orchaestra, John Zorn, Uri Cane)
Wayne Horvitz - DX7, DX100, Harmonica (Eugene Chadbourne, John Zorn, Curlew, Naked City, NY Composers Orchestra)
Christian Marclay - Turntables, Records (John Zorn, Kronos Quartet, Elliot Sharp, The Art Bears)
Jon Rose - 18 String Cello, Violin (Eugene Chadbourne, Slawterhouse, Kryonics, Transcendence, Art Bears )
Jean Chaine - Electric Bass (Uberfall, The Markus Stauss Project, Sarah Greene, Gary Lucas)
Francois Dietz - Producer, Mastering
Didier Dalfitto - Engineer, Mixing
Nick Lawrence - Cover Art [The Entymologist]
Tom Cora - Composition (Curlew, John Zorn, Andrea Centazzo, Eugene Chadbourne, Nimal, Third Person)
Fred Frith - Composer (John Zorn, Violent Femmes, Half Japanese, Swans, Residents, Curlew, Material, Brian Eno, Henry Cow, Naked City, Golden Palominos)

Unknown-Ness: I’ve never heard of this band. Looking back, I think I got it because of the clear vinyl. That was just unusual enough to make me pick this out of a thrift store music stack. It surely was not the cover, which makes me think the content will be some sort of modenrist take on classic jazz. I don’t know much about Jazz or enjoy it for that matter, but this blog is for discovery, so I can check this out. I may even be surprised.

Album Review: - So this is a live version (duh, that’s what it is called: Live in Europe) of a travelling line-up of David Moss’s 1985 album Dense Band when they played in Europe; Vandoeuvre, France to be specific, on 5/23/87. The proclaimed stellar line up is made of avent-garde, experimental artists from NYC, who have all made names for themselves individually. It is interesting, and to appreciate in any capacity, you need to pay attention to what is going on. Seeing this live was probably an inspiring event, if not, entertaining at the least.

“Two to Three to Tango” features one off bass notes, chaotic drum spurts, and synth chimes; none of which sound in unison. The vocals are high pitch, and not very melodic, reminding me of a chicken squabbling with Mr Hanky the Christmas Poo. After the first section of vocals, there is an intense section with elements that have been used by John Zorn and Mr. Bungle.
“Re-Shuffle” starts off with a lot of Western cowboy bass energy, and gives the impression of building to something big and possibly chaotic. The driving bass sound is supported by creepy Ghostbuster dripping ooze synth, and other occasional oscillations and about 2:30, some vocal shouts are buried to the back. With balloon deflating squeals, and Mike Patton-like vocals. Or perhaps it should be written that the vocals seem to have inspired Patton.
“Day to Climb” is a nervous jumper looking down over the side of a building. Or perhaps, as the song is named, a climber ascending a mountain, but fearfully checking the ground behind him. It is tense and a bit stressful bass line, which also reminds me of the later, more difficult, Dr. Wily levels in Mega Man in a very basic form. There are some screeching metal synth effects and random chimes to increase the intensity. Toward the end, the bass line is replaced with a singing saw sound, and hauntingly smooth vocals of pain.
“Full Step” is an unsure bass line, a little mysterious like the Pink Panther theme. There are deep, masculinly confident vocals, that have tones of an Asian Announcer but is really French. After those vocals end, a chorus of female vocals is buried down in the background, singing their own melody. The song picks up in a spastic drum and bass racquetball game. The end of the song shows a bit of actual shared melody and could almost be interpreted as a traditional song, if only basic form, and for a very brief time.
“Glider” does exactly as its name sake suggest: Primus-like gliding bass notes and tin pot hitting percussion, and a vocal hoot and holler once in a while. Eerie alarm like chimes are echoing behind, like a faulty security alarm has been disabled. And steel drum bongs dot the song scape.

“Neural Sense” Drum hits and bass plucked notes are timed together, as sawing violins are layered down behind, suggesting urgency that the sporadic bass-drum rhythms seem to ignore completely. The background violins grow in number, like a swarm of violin mosquitos calling their masses together toward these dumb plodding hippo bass notes. Squeaks and squelches of violins are accompanied by vocals that sound like secondary exhales that accompany karate chops.
“Song of the Possible” has a quiet, dark, minimal bass line in the beginning. Background, coming to foreground fast, are turkey gobbler vocals of a neurotic emotion. The vocal sounds still remind me of an avent-garde Asian performance, and I can only imagine what this was like performed live, and I wonder how close these performances are to the originals. The vocals, through a doubling vocoder, sound a bit like the chicken lady from Kids in the Hall.
“Slant Lines” has an unaccompanied, looping bass line that evolves as it repeats in the beginning 1:45. A cymbal simmer introduces the schizophrenic vocals, and the song transitions into a dark, funky march. The march becomes side tracked with crazy percussion and chaotic deep then high vocal sounds.  The song ends with what sounds like an English car siren, played melodically.
“Slow Talking” is very slow, with bass notes paired up in twos. There are some old-internet link-up static sound effects, and a very loungy, deep vocal (slow talking) that is paired with a high, shrew, helium voice (fast talking). The voices take turns as if having a conversation. And the song kind of just slinks away as if it was never there to begin with, like a fever dream.

Stand Out Track: - Re-Shuffle


Andy McCarroll & Moral Support - Zionic Bonds

Name: Andy McCarroll & Moral Support
Album: Zionic Bonds
Year: 1981
Style: Christian/Religious, New Wave, Power Pop
Similar Bands: Clash, Buzzcocks, Elvis Costello, Alarm, Police, 80's sitcom theme, slow English Beat, and a little Bowie
"One Word" Review: New-Christ-Wave
Based Out Of: North Ireland
Label: Pilgrim American Records, The Benson Company
 Zionic Bonds - Cover, Liner, Record
Zionic Bonds - Back, Liner Notes, Record
Zionic Bonds (1981)
  1. Sin 4:10
  2. How The Kids Are Feeling 2:39
  3. To Know You 2:53
  4. Slippin' And Slidin' 3:38
  5. I Am Human 3:53 /
  6. Cyan City 3:44
  7. King Man 2:43
  8. Livin' A Lie 3:54
  9. In Control 4:56
  10. 20th Century 4:41

Album Rating (1-10): 8.0

Members and Other Bands:
Andy McCarroll - Guitar, Vocals, Sleeve Design
James Davis - Guitars (The Lids)
William Hilary - Keys
Ian Sloan - Drums
Alan Gillespie - Bass
Kyle Leitch - Manager (Rudi)
Dennis McMeekan - Photography
Andy Kidd - Producer

Unknown-ness: I had never heard of this band. I bought this about 10 years ago, right around the time when I first found the A’s records in a 10 cent box. This one was from a Goodwill in my small hometown. I liked the energy, the color, the random look to the cover. The vibe from the cover seemed like it would be a fun, new wave/power pop group that I might enjoy as much as the A’s. Beyond that, 1981 had good potential as well for a fun record.

Album Review: Unbeknownst to me, it turns out that this is a Christian rock band from Ireland. I liked it a lot the first few times I listened to it, and admittedly, the affection dropped off when I realized there was a message I was against buried down (or not too far down) in the lyrics. I’m so unfamiliar with religion that I did not even get the album name’s reference. But I thought about it a little more, and grew to re-like the album, despite the message. I mean, it was kind of unfair to disregard the music and catchiness, especially since there are other bands I like whose messages I don’t identify with. Moral Support’s songs were pretty good. Apparently, Andy McCarroll had a few folk albums before this, and is still a songwriter over in Ireland. The band was really just called the Moral Support, but his name was attached for the US release. The songs titles were also “godded” up for the second wave of US releases, and on my copy, the titles on the sleeve are original, but the record label has the exaggerated versions.

“Sin” marches out with a drum beat and Bowie-ish vocals. There is keyboard synth and power pop chords. The bridge between the verse and chorus is the best part of the song. The lyrics of the song talk about hating sin. On the surface, it is just another power-pop arena rocking song, but they lyrics deliver the christian message. The end of the song chants 6-6-6 and hate it in combat repetition.
“How The Kids Are Feeling” has a jittery guitar hook that feels over all washed out, but all the energy of the Buzzcocks and Clash. The verse is spoke-sung in a fast paced action, and the chorus layered behind is a ver catchy peretiton of “this is how they feel.” There is also an echoy whistle that mimics the backing chorus melody, and at times it almost sounds like bird calls. The pace of the song starts and stops, but chugs along under long held synth notes buried in the background. The whole song rocks until they have to go and ruin it bring jesus into it in the last 30 seconds. Still a solid song
“To Know You” is a dark Clash / Elvis Costello alley way song. There is a bit of a reggae construction to the guitar playing and backing bass line.
“Slippin' And Slidin'”has a simplified Graham Parker/Squeeze feel to it, perhaps a bit of the Police in the stripped down reggae mixed with power pop. This track has some bright, jangley rhythm guitars, and watery lead guitar. The vocals in the verse feel like they are just falling out and down the melody as they are only partially sung. And in the last 30 seconds, again, they have to go and bring in the
“I Am Human” starts with echoing drums and a droning, chugging guitar. The vocals are turned up, like a more less mechanical Gary Numan. Synth notes are played that don’t follow the melodic structure, but create an atmospheric feel. The chorus rocks out, repeating the extended, US title “I am special, I am human” The synth keys are combined with the rocking guitar, but the vocals never pick up the energy, they let the music do that. The chorus is changed up eventually to say “WE” rather than “I”, and the lead guitar takes an opportunity to solo. The song falls apart in the end, piece by piece, even lyrically, only repeating special and human, and it ends with the guitar continually chugging away.

“Cyan City” is an instrumental that starts with an echoing, jangley power pop version of a Ramones chord structure. Twinkling and sparkling synth effects are peppered over the top, and the melody takes shape like an 80’s sitcom theme song. A variety of more synth effects take their turn over the music, some buzzingly smooth, and some watery and echoy. The song seems to fade out at the end under the weight of all the synth effects.
“King Man” is a jumpy, jittery, quick chord shifting song with Difford/Tillbrook like harmonies, and Buzzcocks like spoken singing. The electric guitar takes the song in a different direction, toward Prog/Metal. The music all fades out except the twinkling synth. Which seems to wind down in a warbling fashion with a slow fade.
“Livin' a Lie” is a straightforward power pop song, with an up-down chord progression. The vocals are very echoy, reminding me of Flock of Seagulls. As the synth is added in the second verse, the song balances on a fine like that feels like they are entering OMD territory once it hits the chorus. But it is electric guitars that take the song out to the end with a fade.
“In Control” has a slow, relaxed island/reggae English Beat tempo to it. On the record, this song has the word god added to the front of it, as the lyrics are “Do you believe/that god is in control.” About 3:10 the song brings in a political aspect to the song, employing static, and radio/tv transitions that make the listener question whether this god-person is actually in control of the tense world-wide situations with news broadcasts. The band then pushes it’s point to not worry, but their god will take care of things.
“20th Century” ends the album with a ramped up electronic surge at its start. That fades away, and a single chugging guitar plays under the vocals, like a Ted Leo story-song. The tempo changes to side-to-side swaying, slightly Ziggy Stardust style of song, letting the listener know that there’s a god in this 20th century. The song follows standard form with verse-chorus-verse-chorus and then features an instrumental breakdown with soaring guitars. Just when they could come back to the chorus, the song takes the instrumental route and finishes the song with electric guitars playing the melody.

Stand-Out Track: How The Kids Are Feeling


Friday, August 8, 2014

Matty Pop Chart - Good Old Water

Name: Matty Pop Chart
Album: Good Old Water:
Year: 2005
Style: Folk, Indie, Twee
Similar Bands: Tullycraft, Beulah, Mosquitos, Ed's Redeeming Qualities, Neil Halsted
One Word Review: Airy Strums
Based Out Of: Bloomington, IN
Label: Friends & Relatives Records, Plan-It X Records
Good Old Water - Cover, Credits, CD
Good Old Water - Back, Lyrics
Good Old Water (2005)
  1. For Chris 1:49
  2. Ghost Dream 2:48
  3. Springtime II 1:38
  4. Jimmy Jam 3:27
  5. Wedding Song 2:20
  6. The Sun Lights Strong 2:31
  7. For Erin 3:13
  8. Jason Dear 2:57
  9. Floating Dreams 3:13
  10. The Wind 2:58
  11. Toy Piano 1:38
  12. Jimmy Jam II 7:48

Album Rating (1-10): 6.5

Members & Other Bands:
Justin Vollmar - Recording, elec Guitar, Singing
Matt Tobey - Vox, Guitar, Baritone Ukulele, Percussion, Piano, Violin, Toy Piano (Abe Froman, Ghost Mice, Your Heart Breaks, Memory Map, Mt Gigantic, Good Luck, Lily & Madeleine)
Erin Tobey - Vox, Layout
David Combs - Vox, Ukulele (Spoonboy, Max Levine Ensemble)
Theo Hilton - Vox, Guitar (Nana Grizol, Defiance, Ohio)
Kimya Dawson - Vox (Moldy Peaches, Uncluded, Bundles, )
Chris Johnston - Vox
Hannah Jones - Vox
Mike Dixon - Mastering
Brian Chase - Manatee Photo

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of the band. But I picked up the CD in a local thrift shop because I appreciated the bulky, paper cut artwork. The name sounds like a fun playful experience, so I am hoping the music will carry that na├»ve, juvenile feeling through.

Album Review: Whoever bought this probably did so because Kimya Dawson from the Moldy Peaches is named as a band member, but they must have gotten rid of it since her participation is not that much or obvious. I looked up Matt Tobey since 2005, and last year, he made a concept EP dedicated to his neighbor and internet superstar, Bubs the cat. He’s also in two bands currently, but I’ve not delved into their catalogues or styles.

“For Chris” is a very nasally vocals and acoustic strummed guitar. The vocals have a very Tullycraft feel to them, but even more nasally. Drums and slide guitar join in, and the rollicking, folksy song.
“Ghost Dream” is lighter and sounds like a late night porch memory. There are layered vocals, giving it depth, but it has a very airy feel, and a slight country vibe. At one point toward the end, it almost gets rocking, but it thinks better of itself, and finishes out the song on a somber note.
“Springtime II” is a bouncy acoustic-plucked number with bongo percussion. It is fun and dancey, but short. There is a pause in the song that would make you think it is another track, but it comes back into the familiar melody.
“Jimmy Jam” follows suit with a light and airy dreamy song of just vocals + strum/plucked guitars. The vocals feel very close to the front of the production mix. The harmonized chorus of vocals lifts the song out of the steady but happy monotony.
“Wedding Song” is again, just guitar played with the nasally vocals. The Vocals are sung in a rambling style, and the light, pleasant guitar work could be used as guests arrive to be seated. The song includes violin too, which brings a tinge of sadness to the joyful melody.
“The Sun Light's Strong” sounds like a Muppet floating in a small row boat, just bouncing with the waves in a very care free manor. Again, the song is just guitars and vocals. The vocals singing the song title chorus is harmonized and positive.

“For Erin” is a side to side somber song. At 1:20, the song picks up and drums and tambourine are added and the song’s sway becomes more obvious. The pace picks up ever so slightly toward the end, and the repetitive loop of a melody ceases, and relaxes. The instrumentation goes away, and the song finishes up right where it started.
“Jason Dear” parallels the second track on the album is slightly sunny, airy folk strumming. For the most part it is a practice in repetition, until a second guitar is layered over the rhythm at the end.
“Floating Dreams” is a continuation of side to side head swaying. The vocals are not as pronounced here, and there is a just little extra oomph behind the percussive guitar.
“The Wind” starts, only seeming like a pause in the song before, rather than a whole new track. This song slows down a little further, and the bit of echo on the strumming makes me think of sitting on a beach in Hawaii. There are also beach references, so the mood and lyrics match up knowingly.
“Toy Piano” is exactly as it is named. It sounds like a rickety toy, nearing the point of collapsing on itself. There are no vocals on this track, it just sounds like a wind-up toy or a snow globe. The second verse through really speeds things up, and it evokes a carnival sound, not unlike what Madness will sometimes use. And as if it were a wound up toy, it slows down at the end to a crawl, and mimicking it even further, it plays one song after you think it is done.
“Jimmy Jam II” employs the toy piano in this faster swaying song. Lots of “guest” vocals are used for support. This song also feels a lot like Tully Craft and Beulah in pace and its rolling-melody vocal style. The song only lasts 2:13, but the empty track keeps going until 7:22, when a foreign marching song for 2 short versus is hidden for 26 seconds. 

Stand Out Track: For Chris


Friday, August 1, 2014

Ministry - Twitch

Name: Ministry
Album: Twitch
Year: 1986
Style: Industrial Techno, Gothic
Similar Bands: Low Pop Suicide, Nine Inch Nails, My Life With Thrill Kill Kult, KMFDM, Front 242
"One-Word" Review: Mechanical Snake Dancing
Based Out Of: Chicago, IL
Label: Sire
 Twitch - Cover, Sleeve
 Twitch Back, Sleeve
Twitch - Record
Twitch (1986)
  1. Just Like You 5:00
  2. We Believe 5:56
  3. All Day Remix 6:02
  4. The Angel 6:06 / 
  5. Over The Shoulder 5:11
  6. My Possession 5:02
  7. Where You At Now?/Crash & Burn/ Twitch (version 2) 12:15

Album Rating (1-10): 6.0

Members & Other Bands:
Alain Jourgensen - Vox, Producer, Engineer (Special Effect, PTP, Front Line Assembly, Prong, Revolting Cocks, Lard, Skrew, 1000 Homo DJs, Skinny Puppy, Alan Vega)
Adrian Sherwood - Producer, Engineer
Gareth Jones - Engineering
Keith LeBlanc - Percussion, Programming (Nitzer Ebb, Wolfgang Press, Tackhead, Nine Inch Nails, Sugar Hill Gang)
Patty Jourgensen - Vox
Brad Hallen - Bass (Willie "Loco" Alexander, Aimee Mann, Peter Malik, Duke Robilliard, Roomful Of Blues)
Stephen George - Percussion (Black Cross, Colortone, Elliot Easton, Ric Ocasek)
Luc Van Acker - Vox (Shreikback, Revolting Cocks, Mussolini Headkick, Die Krupps, My Life With Thrill Kill Kult)
Brian Shanley - Cover Design, Photography (Honor By August, Revolting Cocks, Askold Buk)

Unknown-ness: I know I've heard of this band thanks to a bunch of friends in High School, but for the life of me, I could not remember if they were hardcore or industrial. So when I saw this in a thrift store basket, I had to take a chance on it. I’m pretty sure they were more along the lines of industrial- Nine Inch Nails, and this is probably one of the bands I know more about than I think I do, but I’m curious how this one sounds out of the catalogue, and more interestingly, how this style of music (that I’ve not really kept up with) sounds in today’s world, with my current musical palate.

Album Review: “Just Like You” begins with a cold drum beat with robotics and mechanics echoing in the background. Along with a synth horn, and propaganda-like spoken word vocals. The vocals then begin, they sound suspicious and whispery (I’m reminded of the Soup Dragons), and are supported by vocals in the background that shout the title. There are a lot of techno an synth percussive beats competing for attention, along with synth keyboards and brass. Underneath it all there is a bass line that sounds like the “bow down” bridge of “Head Like A Hole.” The album’s name sake is present in this song, but I can’t believe this is not a remix. It is the shortest song, but it goes on forever. But it does finally end with a percussive fade out. I’m reminded of previous TSM entries the Borghesia and Christian Lunch
“We Believe” is slightly more driving with synth bottle neck banging percussion at the beginning. That transitions into a darker new wave keyboard samples layered to create a cold, bleak scene. The vocals are distorted through a tinny vocoder, and sound slithery sharp. The vocals sound like combination of Cobra Commander and Decepticons. The end of the song has a gruff, dying vocal that repeats the title over, layered over a crescendo of synth elements that is picking up speed and sound. But then, it just fades away.
“All Day Remix” again bring the element of war and battle with a 1-2-3-4 chant and army direction laid over 80’s synth sounds and industrial drums. The whisper-distorted vocals sound downright sunny compared to the other songs so far, and although the song is still bleak, it has a more straight forward dance club atmosphere. There is a breakdown halfway through, that is followed up with sound clips from tv shows or movies. It then kicks back into the dancey song, as if it never lost a step. A heavy breath also comes in to rhythmically drive the song along, which also finishes the song out.
“The Angel” features maraca percussion at the outset. Synth effects and vocals are sporadically peppered in, and then a vibration wave synth gives the song momentum. 2 minutes in, and the song still feels like it is just starting to put things together, with an extra echoing 2-hit drum beat. The song still feels like a sketch of a song. It is a little ethereal, but overall, empty. The repeating line of “always an angel there” features female backing vocals.

“Over The Shoulder” first sounds like an airplane oscillating between taking off and landing. Then the industrial percussion adds in, with a neurotic bubbly bass, and the elements come together like a Nitzer Ebb song. The song features what sounds like the gothic version scratching and rapping. I like the energy in this song, and the vocals sound like they are trying to hold on, being as wispy as possible. A synth wood block section that accompanies the iron works industrial beats and airline sounds reminds me of the intro to Milli Vanilli’s “Blame It On The Rain,” which came a few years later. The song features a fade out as well, but overall, it is about a minute too long.
“My Possession” repeats a well tread path at this point with jittery, boingy synth and industrial presses and gas jets. The vocals drive the song along with their snake-like trajectory. It even sounds like it could be a cover of a Devo song, just with very different application. The end features a breakdown of just the driving drums and the vocals before it kicks back in for a short sprint to the finish.
“Where You At Now?/Crash & Burn/ Twitch (version 2)” is a three part song that starts off with industrial percussion and synth effects and the similar fast, bouncy/jittery bass synth. Those effects are traded in for a fast driving drum beat, and other varients are added to keep the repetitive rhythm interesting. There are more quotes spoken and layered over the industrial Devo like melody: “I’ll Save Ya (?) & Come on Get Out Here.” Like a dream sequence, other effects and melody come in like a shaky, staticy picture. At 5:30, the song shifts with the yelling of Crash and Burn, and the song changes to rhythmic firecracker percussion. The percussive sounds shift from left to right speaker, making the echoing more like an annoyance where you cannot concentrate on where the sound is coming from. Might be cool with headphones, though. This techno instrumental portion of the song relies on a steady import and exports of sounds in precise executed segments. At 9:12 a more steady percussion takes the background, and is again and again drowned out by the bombastic, consistent firecracker effect. 10:19 dishwasher like effects leads into a final section of the song. This sounds like the music going through the minds of the people who made the Running Man universe or the video game Smash TV: industrial metal sounds and kitchen sink percussion. The end of the song is warped vocals talking about entertainment. And the album just comes to a chaotic hault.

Stand Out Track: "Over The Shoulder"