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Friday, January 30, 2015

Parade - A Red Button

Name: Parade
Album: A Red Button
Year: 2005
Style: Indie, Power Pop
Similar Bands: Belly, Throwing Muses, Alanis Morissette, Mazzy Star, Jennifer Trynin, Dismemberment Plan (musically)
"One Word" Review: Grungy Mystic Emo Rock
Based Out Of: Atlanta, GA
Label: self released
 A Red Button - Cover, Inner Back & CD
A Red Button - Back, Liner Notes
A Red Button (2005)
  1. Snowflake 2:44
  2. Yune 2:17
  3. Feenan 3:04
  4. I Only Lived Once 2:57
  5. Little Fucking Sandcastle 2:44
  6. My Father the Bride 3:11
  7. Penelope Shoes 3:03
  8. Put the Foot Down 3:11
  9. Cut 2:08
  10. Bannoatmeal 5:27
  11. Taste 2:37
  12. D'accord 3:35
Album Rating (1-10): 6.0

Members & Other Bands:
Carrie Hodge - Vox, Bass, Keys, Hand Claps (Two Hearts, What Happened to Your Fire, Tiger?)
Scott Trinh - Guitar, Hand Claps
Emily Martin - Bass, Keys, Hand Claps
Jason Chamison - Drums, Percussion, Hand Claps
Asa Leffer - Hand Claps, Recording, Mixing, Production (Dark Meat, Jet by Day)
Eric Friar - Recording, Production
Glenn Schick - Mastering
Lauren Clay - Artwork

Unknown-ness: Received this unheard album in a shipment of CDs from a friend, so I assume it will be of a similar vein of his interests: sporty pop songs. It is self-made, so its obviously DIY. I'm not sure if the production of the packaging is simplicity for simplicity's sake, or if it is the best lo-fi printing they could throw together. In either case, I appreciate the non-cluttered sleek budget design.

Album Review: There is not much out there about this one full-length band, but they did manage to make a fan base for themselves in Atlanta. They have fully embraces and tried to pull together elements of mystical girl rock, grungy alternative production, and emo spirit and complex melodies that are unmatched by the vocals.

“Snowflake” begins with some fractured guitar chord strums, and then a sense of darkness in the bass and flat/removed drums begins behind thoughtful female vocals. The guitars kick in and overwhelm the late chorus, as the vocals change to a style similar to Alanis Morissette.
“Yune” is a delicate groove, with the vocals distorted and echoed through what sounds like a megaphone. The melody is emo in the chorus, with off timed guitar strums, and rising, yet tired vocals.
“Feenan” comes in with a bang of all the instruments: fuzzy guitars, melodic guitars and drum/bass at the same time. It then stops abruptly, to have a somewhat angular bass and chugging guitar driven song. It features a fun, “alternative” produced bouncy melody, and reminds me a little of Jennifer Trynin. The song breaks down at the end, just leaving the drums to finish it out, and hand claps, as if it live fade out at the very end.
“I Only Lived Once” has urgentness in the rhythm guitar’s style. The vocals float along slowly, trying to catch up with the music, like a tablecloth that can’t ever sit square in the middle. The layered guitars drone on as the song breaks down to a quiet Dismemberment Plan style guitar (think Secret Curse).
“Little Fucking Sandcastle” also carries a long a dark, Belly-like bassline, and the vocals punch the notes like a slow, mellow siren. Clash like rhythm guitars are thrown overtop for a verse, the drums pick up on a Dismemberment Plan likeness too as the song heads toward the 2 minute mark.
“My Father the Bride” combines a jangly guitar with a simple flat drum. The vocals find their own melody overtop the tempo inducing instruments, which shift, without connection to the vocals. The vocals begin to get emotional at the very end, over a train tempo, saying “ I lost you / I can’t find the truth” to the song’s focus. Added to the very end are some Ice Cream truck sound effects, like they are tuning their instruments, that don’t seem to have any meaning to the rest of the song.

“Penelope Shoes” starts out with some Beatles LSD-style instrumentation with synth-flute, and follows up with jangly rhythm guitar chords stringed in repetition. The side to side stomping drum beat is added, and the song builds nicly, and would make for a sturdy emo song. The song queits down to allow the echoing Mazzy-Star-ish vocals begin. The angular guitar chords come back, as if the intro instrumental was just a taste as to what to expect in the song. The pace and energy changes and grows quite a bit, getting invigorated and complex in spurts before returning to a quieter place.
“Put the Foot Down” harkens back to mid-80’s college fluid pop bands that are overproduced and bury their melodies down below the production. The vocals here are given a spotlight, and are pushed to the front. The song has an inquisitive, carefully stepping melody, with mystical qualities as well. The song increases itself in volume and the guitars get thicker and fuzzier generating a wall of sound. The onslaught is silenced for one final short line.
“Cut” twinkles in with guitar notes plucked. Then the grungy style of guitars and wah-wah effects crash into the song, and they take breaks as the vocals see fit. But the vocals continue along, without seeming to care of pay attention to the melody. It feels like any melody could support the vocals, and conversely, a different set of vocals could match the melody more efficiently. Same as the song before it, as the song seems to end, it picks up with one final vocal line.
“Bannoatmeal” plays like it is going to be just a wandering guitar daydream, but it is reigned in when the drums start, and a xylophone adds that bit of mysticism that the song needs to fit in with the rest of the album. The guitars again feel like they could be Dismemberment Plan melodies, but the vocals are free floating over them, making it hard to focus on the song as a whole. The mid song breakdown has the chimes, bass and guitar interplaying quietly, and the vocals are minorly processed through an echo chamber. The music comes out on the other end of this with a few glorious power pop chords, then feedback and buzzing regroup themselves into a powerful force to finish the track out for a full minute.
“Taste” cuts the feedback with a pleasant happy guitar hook, and a mocking keyboard melody. Jangely chords build up in the bridge-like chorus, but the song quickly returns to the focused melody of the first verse. A prog section follows two rotations of the verse-chorus, and the song gets a little prog-heavy but only for a little bit, as the song ends quite suddenly.
“D'Accord” is a nice, quiet album ender, it floats along with single, gentle guitar notes, and a gentle bell. This reminds me of the quiet Belly songs, but not as creepy (which makes this song far less interesting). At any time the song could explode, and once the drums-vocal dual begins, you think it might just become an energetic song. But it retains its quiet lullaby demeanor, and is only becomes enhanced with thicker guitar chords, but the tempo retains the same foot-dragging slosh. 

Stand Out Track: Feenan

Links: 
CDbaby
Allmusic
Last FM
Purevolume
Ohmpark
CaptainsDead

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Membranes - Songs of Love & Fury

Name: Membranes
Album: Songs of Love And Fury
Year:1986
Style: Punk, Noise
Similar Bands: Dinosaur Jr, Big Black, Sonic Youth, Half Japanese, Clash, Game Theory, Captain Beefheart, 
One Word Review: Chaotic Noise-Stomp Pop
Based Out Of: Blackpool, Lancashire, UK
Label: Homestead Records, Dutch East India Trading, LSR Records
 Songs of Love And Fury - Cover, Liner Notes, Record
Songs of Love And Fury - Back, Liner Notes, Record

Songs of Love And Fury (1986)
  1. Big Fun Tonight 3:39
  2. Kennedy '63 2:48
  3. Postdetergent Vacuum Cleaner Man 3:29
  4. Day My Universe Changed 2:48
  5. Bang! 1:40
  6. Snaffle Flatch! 2:25
  7. The Murder of Sister George 3:52 /
  8. Spaceships 2:37
  9. 1986 3:24
  10. Thank Heavens for The Iron Horse 3:16
  11. Sleaze Ball 2:12
  12. Phoney TV Repair Man 2:55
  13. The Elvis I Know Was No Junkie 0:46
  14. Everyone's Going Triple Bad Acid, Yeah! 3:11
  15. Jaw Cracker Fuzz 4:17
Album Rating (1-10): 8.0

Members & Other Bands:
Jack - Backing Vocals
Nick Brown - Backing Vocals, Guitar, Violin (Alberto Fortis, My Bloody Valentine, )
Keith Curtis - Bass, Guitar (Goldblade, A Witness)
Wallis Tadpole - Bass, Vox
Coofy Sid - Drums, Percussion
Mark Tilton - Guitar, Vacuum Cleaner (Blackpool Sixth From College, Creepers, Black Crack)
Noel Kilbride - Guitar (Bear, AC Temple)
Woody - Guitar
Chris Jones - Keyboards, Sitar, Violin
John Robb - Lead Vox, Guitar (Blackpool Sixth From College, Sportchestra, Therapy, Goldblade, Sarandon, Poly Styrene, Philip Boa & The Voodoo Club, Muscles, Sensurround, Tim Wheater, Cecilia, )
Simon Clegg - Cover Painting
Ted Chippington - Vox
Rollin' Nolan - Poem

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band before, but from the looks of the cover, the year 1986, and picture of the band on the back, it looks like this will be a college radio band with an edge. The cluttered sleeve suggests a DIY aesthetic, so it could be an indie college radio band, or it might skew a little more punk. I do enjoy the cover image of the pumpkins running from the jester with a slicer cart.

Album Review: The Membranes were a noise punk band of the late 70’s that rallied against conformist pop songs, melody, fame and popularity. The driving force, singer and writer John Robb was also a budding journalist, writing a Zine while in the band  (Rox), and working in musical journalism. He was the first journalist to interview Nirvana in 1989, and apparently, he was the first to use the word 'Britpop.' They had a bunch of noise albums, very little straightforward Melody, and this release was their biggest one in the states. They are still at it, at least an incarnation of them, today, and have new material slated to be release in the near future (Dark Matter). This album is reportedly more accessible than their past efforts, which makes it one of their best middle ground, and enjoyable records.

“Big Fun Tonight” begins with a jangly guitar and tinny, rhythmic drum. The bass and rhythm guitar parallel themselves without fail. The song is a bit of a charging oscillation between two marching sections. The vocals are not clear, and very percussive. They also have a bit of a rugged, chanting, Clash-ness to them.
“Kennedy '63” has a simple, fast, side to side drum beat to start out the song. The guitar chords are in time, and it reaches the chorus quickly, with a pretty melodic backing guitar hook. The vocals for the chorus are call and response “Kennedy’s says” and “Oh-Oh-Oh”. It even sounds like there is some electronic distortion added to the guitar making it sound like synth keys.
“Postdetergent Vacuum Cleaner Man” enters with a stiff quick drum beat. The heavy bass line and general humming noise is layered in behind. The vocals are monotone and droning, but layered with a higher tonal vocal in the back. The short section of the chorus is downright Vaselines catchy. This is the first song that really drives home the idea of a blistering wall of noise as the last two minutes are just the same brief pattered repeated.
“Day My Universe Changed” begins with dreamy guitar chords and watery rhythm guitar. The vocals are weak and drawn out, added accent this song as a dream pop or shoegazing song. About the 1:45 mark, the guitars begin to add a layer of buzzing, but it is quickly dispersed.
“Bang!” is introduced with a fast and very repetitive 4 chord strum. Deep spoken word vocals are layered overtop, and a general minimal, fuzzy post punk melody supports the speech.
“Snaffle Flatch!” puts jangly college music at the front, with a simple guitar hook. But the bass line has different ideas, and takes it to a much darker and off-key direction vocally.
“The Murder of Sister George” is a loopy guitar based song where again, the bass decides to make it more aggressive. The vocals shift from one two note melody to a higher inversed two-note melody. The chorus is basically just a catchy bass line, reminding me a little of Gang of Four, except a weak and stretched off-key vocal is purposely attained.

“Spaceships” combines catchy guitar & bass melodies in a driving, and shifting song. The chorus has a group sing along saying “Burn this spaceship down,” and at the base, is just a simple and catchy track, almost to the point where it is mesmerizing in an unconscious way.
“1986” breaks the straight forward melody idea with a colder, industrial-yet-organic style song with well out of tune chorus vocals and stress inducing violins. The picture this paints is an anxious, lost person looking for rescue.
“Thank Heavens for The Iron Horse” starts with a warbling, jittery accordion sound, and the song just takes off into a barn dance hoe-down, all based on the knee slapping bass line and driving drum beat. The vocals are barely audiable, and feel like an afterthought, lost in the energy of the bass.
“Sleazeball” the twangyness is not lost, as this song picks up where the last left up with a more head down driving song. Still featuring the note-less vocals, it has a little of a Man-Man atmosphere.
“Phoney TV Repair Man” has a bassline start the song, and follows up with an oscillating alarm effect, but those quickly pushed to the back for a pop song with sloppy vocals, but a catchy tempo.
“The Elvis I Know Was No Junkie” stumbles at first with a jangly guitar sections that blossoms into a dead milkmen like melody with slowly spoken British vocals laid over top.
“Everyone's Going Triple Bad Acid, Yeah!” sounds like a toy guitar at the intro, it is tinny, and fuzzy, and very lo-fi. Like a true punk song, the vocals cruise up and down, supported by the chord changes. The song has a very juvenile feel to it, but the vocals go all in when it gets to the heartfelt or vision-inducing chorus. They use a lot of weird vocal sounds to pepper and enhance the melody.
“Jaw Cracker Fuzz” echos with the tinny guitar and dark melody. The drums are lively, and the music plays along, but it comes from a dark place. The vocals brighten it up a bit, and this does not feel like an album ending song. Based on this, they would still have a lot of energy left for three more tracks. But they must have just run out of room. 

Stand Out Track: Kennedy '63

Links:
Wiki
Discogs
Allmusic
Robb article w/ BBC
Metro 60 Sec interview
Robb's Website Louder than War
Membranes FB

(the) Members - 1980 - The Choice is Yours~, Uprhythm Downbeat*

Name: The Members
Album: 1980 - The Choice is Yours~ Uprhythm, Downbeat*
Year: 1980~, 1982*
Style: Ska, Punk, Funk*
Similar Bands: English Beat, Clash, Ventures, Bad Manners, Madness, Buzzcocks, Rifles, The Jam, The Alarm*
One Word Review: Anthemic Power-Surf-Punk~, Discount-Danceclub-Funk*
Based Out Of: Camberley, England
Label: Virgin~, Artista*
 1980 - The Choice is Yours - Cover & Record
  1980 - The Choice is Yours - Back & Record
Uprhythm Downbeat - Cover & Record
 Uprhythm Downbeat - Cover & Record
1980 The Choice Is Yours (1980)
  1. The Ayatollah Harmony 2:45
  2. Goodbye to the Job 2:25
  3. Physical Love 3:20
  4. Romance 3:12
  5. Brian Was 3:28
  6. Flying Again 3:27/
  7. Normal People 3:25
  8. Police Car 3:50
  9. Clean Men 3:57
  10. Muzak Machine 2:48
  11. Gang War 5:27
Uprhythm Downbeat (1982)
  1. Working Girl 4:09
  2. The Family 4:11
  3. The Model 5:10
  4. Chairman of the Board 4:05
  5. Boys Like Us 4:11/
  6. Going West 4:10
  7. Radiodub 5:52
  8. Fire (In My Heart) 4:19
  9. You and Me Against the World 4:22
  10. We the People 5:28
Album Rating (1-10): 9.0~
6.0*

Members & Other Bands:
Chris Payne - Bass, Vox~* (JC's Mainmen, Adrian Borland & the Citizens, Newtown Neurotics, Gary Numan, Andy Smythe, Dramatis, Tubeaway Army, Visage )
Adrian Lillywhite - Drums, Percussion~* (Bruce Foxton, King, Kristy MacColl)
John Brand - Engineer~
Dick Cuthell - Flugelhorn~ 9Pogues, Eurythmics, Burning Spear, Specials, Selecter, Fun Boy Three, Steel Pulse, Toots & The Maytals, Jade Warrior)
Nigel Bennett - Guitar, Vox~*Keys* (Vibrators, Hugh Cornwell, Duck Sauce)
J.C. Carroll - Guitar, Vox,~*Keys* (The Wise Monkeys, Frank Tovey, Johnny Thunders, Newtown Neurotics)
Nicky Tesco - Vox~* (Stranglers, Newtown Neurotics, Roger Daltrey)
Buzz Carter - Management~
Robin Eggar - Management~
Chris Gabrinski - Photography~
Joe Jackson - Piano~
Rupert Hine - Producer, Keys~
Albie Donnelly - Sax~ (Supercharge, Graham Parker, City Boy, Boomtown Rats, 
Keith Breeden - Sleeve~
Malcm Garret - Sleeve~
Ian Morais - Tape Operator~
Rico Rodriguez - Trombone~ (Jooles Holland, Burning Spear, Toots & Maytales, Steel Pulse, Delroy Washington, Specials, Bad Manners, The Selecter, Ocean Colour Scene, SFA, Amy Winehouse)
James Lebbad - Design Logo*
Howard Fritzon - Art Direction
Dave Stetson - Cover Photograph*
Monica Dee Lenrow - Photography Inner Sleeve*
Dave Allen - Producer, Programmer*
Martin Rushent - Producer, Programmer*
Simon Lloyd - Saxes, Trumpet, Keyboard Programmer* (Bananarama, Ice House, Thomas Dolby, Lords of the New Church, The Damned, Propaganda, Trevor Jones, Outcasts)
Steve (Rudi) Thompson - Sax (X-Ray Specs, Snips, Lords of the New Church)
Ian Grant - Management*
Rhonda Krauss - Hair & Make-Up
Sue Game - Stylist

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of the Members, and from the looks of the two vastly different album covers, they are either clunky new wave or a horror-rockabilly indie band. The first album has cold war politics imagery all over it, and the second album changes up their logo to look like the Cramps and the band looks slightly menacing, standing in some fire escape stairwell. I bought these albums separately, hardly believing it was the same band, once I filed them next to each other, which was further enforced by the fact that the albums are on two different labels.

Album Review: The Members were one of the original bands to combined Reggae and Punk rock, starting back in 1977. The second of the two albums I have here was a lighter, more ska-reggae influenced album, and even released in the US a full year before it was renamed and released in their homeland. Guitarist JC Carroll has scored a couple of films including Don Juan DeMarco and a Joe Strummer documentary. Like the Dead Milkmen after them, they were from the suburbs, and sang in a witty and imaginative manner. As the times changed, their sound altered from one album to the next, from a Buzzcocks and Power-Pop rawness to a more produced sound with much more brass, evoking later period Clash and a little English Beat.


“The Ayatollah Harmony” is an instrumental that illustrated the reggae beat of rhythm guitar with a bit of a neurotic and dark new wave/punk tempo to sound like the Clash. It brings in surf guitar to take the lead like the Ventures.
“Goodbye to the Job” starts with a rolling drum beat, and stop start tempo. The heavy British vocals begin sounding like Bad Manners or like gruffer Madness. The chanting choir of vocals at the chorus gives an impression of a working class.
“Physical Love” starts out reserved, but ready to explode with its building chords. It relaxed for the moment with a cowbell, and Clash like guitars. The harmonized choir of vocals makes up the chorus. There is a lot of general energy in the singer’s voice, as it hiccups over the melody, but the song wavers in a middle ground that is neither a ballad nor a driving jumping song.
“Romance” was a single. It is composed of a general reggae back beat and a bouncy bass line. The vocals are a deep nasally British sound holds down a basic sing-song melody. This track involves some Madness-like spoken sections and steel guitar surf effects. This is a toe-tapping and friendly skanking song.
“Brian Was” fades up from a very quiet place. The vocals are quiet and polite at first as the momentum builds; it feels like a less-controlled Elvis Costello song. Mid song, it turns into a power pop chanting anthem.
“Flying Again” was also a single. It enters with a rolling drum loop, and is supported by power chords, neurotically pulsing along. This could easily be classified as power-pop punk. The bridge to the chorus builds up slightly off key, only to level out with a catchy hook based on the song title.

“Normal People” starts right off with a straightforward, driving, energetic slam dancing punk rock song with a catchy edge akin to the Buzzcocks. The breakdown takes all the momentum out of the song. It quiets the music down to light drums, faint guitars and the bass beat keeping time. But it has a building potential, and once the spoken word vocals find the phrase to repeat on, they blast off.
“Police Car” has a jangly guitar played precisely, and the song becomes a dark alley Clash-like song, with echoing bully vocals for the chorus, reminding me of the Rifles, who copied the Jam.
“Clean Men” brings some horns into the mix, bringing the jammy slow side of Ska & reggae to the forefront. This reminds me of a couple different Madness songs.
“Muzak Machine” throws a familiar posh doorbell melody played by guitars to start off the song, and it is a driving Buzzcocks type song with a little extra powerpop added in. The chorus is not as obvious, the first time around, but by the second one, it jumps out and builds with applied instruments to the end of the song.
“Gang War” is much lighter, with a barroom piano and bass driving the song in the intro. It moves out of the piano pub and into the street with a pleasant blue collar brawler’s anthem. It feels like a romantic memory describing a violent situation perhaps current, or perhaps of the singer’s youth. Squealing brass matches the melody sax, as the song fades out chanting the title over and over again.

“Working Girl” was apparently a huge hit in the US. And it follows up on the dark bass lines and a little reggae rhythm guitar from the first album. The sound is much more produced and feels like more generic 80’s middle America New Wave (Jessie’s Girl) rather than anything with authentic emotion from the first album.  
“The Family” kicks off with an artificial power guitar, and brass, and the song takes on a sweaty pastel Miami Vice nightclub vibe. The basic melody still feels rooted in the Clash.
“The Model” slows things down with a detective reggae tempo. The horns punctuate the verse sections, and the instrumental choruses are just chill. They lose their focus and just meander around for a while, after what feels like 10 minutes (but is only 4) before one last run through with the horns, and a hiccupping skipping sample (think English Beat) and a horns fade out.
“Chairman of the Board” is a nice steady driving song made interesting with the horns. It feels like a cheap imitation of the Clash, but once you are in there at a live show, I’m sure you would forget all else and just embrace the good vibes. It feels like they ran out of ideas, and just let things ramble in this and the song right before.
“Boys Like Us” has a much more funky approach, as it is a slow parliament vibe. The vocals lead is much deeper like INXS or the Soup Dragons, and are more relaxed. For the chorus, they request a call and response from the band. It evokes a little cheese hired-for-a-party feeling that is trying to be funky. And it fades out as if the party ship is returning back to its own planet, which is just one band member’s apartment behind some 7-11.

“Going West” continues the funky vibe to side two. I’d consider this more of Funk-a-delic influenced than reggae for the majority of the song. The horns show little reggae themes in the chorus. And before bringing anything catchy, the song just quietly fades out.
“Radiodub” was a hit single in Australia. With a reverberating bass beat, and echoing effects, the song carries a bit of a Gang of Four, broken time signatures and angular chords, but those elements are embedded in computer synthesized effects. It is mostly an instrumental, with a few echoing shout-vocals. It really feels like a dance remix, which I think it is (dub). As it builds to the end, there are lazer sounds, cross fading and layers of vocals.
“Fire (In My Heart)” is another example of Clash like jangly punk with is bare bones music and mostly a beat keeping it alive. The horns also add to the song, and the chorus of call and response singing makes it quite anthemic, and a little like the Alarm. But like most of the other tracks, the song tends to meander and grow tedious.
“You and Me Against the World” is a slow swaying side to side acoustic ballad. The vocals are extra deep. The sway gently becomes a swagger by the chorus, with a chanting group of vocals. I think it is trying to be soulful in a country-manner. It is thoughtful, but not that interesting of a song.
“We the People” is gritty and power hungry. The vocals are sloppy-nasally, and are thrown over a marching tempo. The chorus is just the title of the track sang by the lead and a chorus of voices at different pitches. The horns are used minimally to accent the melody nicely. Again, they use a very anthemic way to end an album. The tone of the song for the verse reminds me a lot of the Alarm’s The Stand with the way the vocals are near-spoken over the song. It is a steady and repetitive song that goes on for a little too long.

Stand Out Tracks: Musak Machine~ (temp: youtube)
Links:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Oranger - New Comes and Goes

Name: Oranger
Album: New Comes and Goes
Year: 2005
Style: Indie Pop-Rock, 
Similar Bands: Nada Surf, Steve Malkmus, The Wonders (Mike Viola / Fountains of Wayne), Weezer, Shins
One Word Review: Lazi-tude Indie-pop
Based Out Of: San Fran, CA
Label: Eenie Meenie Records
 New Comes and Goes - Cover & Back
New Comes And Goes - Liner Notes, Tray & CD
New Comes and Goes (2005)
  1. Crooked in the Weird of the Catacombs 4:05
  2. New Comes and Goes 3:27
  3. Sukiyaki 2:11
  4. Garden Party for the Murder Pride 3:12
  5. Outtatoch 3:56
  6. Radio Wave 3:09
  7. Wacha Holden 2:30
  8. Crones 3:28
  9. Haeter 3:18
  10. Flying Pretend 3:44
  11. Light Machine 2:36
  12. Target You By Feel 2:13
  13. Come Back Tomorrow 2:11
Album Rating (1-10): 8.0

Members & Other Bands:
Tony Espinoza - Mixing
Matt Z Harris - Producing, Engineering
Justin Lieberman - Engineering
Paul Bradley - Engineering
Anne Allison - Engineering
Rachel Allgood - Engineering
Mike Drake - Guitar, Vox, Theremin (Overwhelming Colorfast, Stick Figures, Texas Allstar Jazz Camp, Dubstar, Hot Fog, Slouching Stars)
Matt Harris - Bass, Guitar, Vox, Spongefork (Overwhelming Colorfast, Stick Figures)
Pat Main - Piano, Moog, Wurli (The Snowmen, Hiss Golden Messenger, Tom Heyman, The Court & Spark, John Vanderslice, Map of Wyoming, Actionslacks, Plus Ones, Granfaloon Bus)
Bob Reed - Guitar (Overwhelming Colorfast, Trashmen, Mamou Prairie Band, Mombasa)
John Hofer - Drums, Percussion, Sock (Mother Hips, Persephone's Bees, Kelley Stoltz, Downy Mildew, Freewheelers, Hiss Golden Messenger, Tom Heyman, John Vanderslice)
Alan Stewart - Mainframe
Jett Drolette - Art Direction & Sleeve concept
G Todd.com - Photograp
Lyndsey C. Hawkins - Photographs
David Tounge Bennet - Model
Miss Elizabeth Rutledge - Model
Reeth Kitchards - Model

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band. It was a CD as part of a larger assortment that a friend gave me, so I have to believe that, with a year of 2005 and an energy filled album cover and color scheme, that this will be lively guitar pop trying to be something more credible and authentically rocking.

Album Review: This is the fourth and final album for Oranger, one that finds them returning to guitars and a straight forward sound. All of the members have had their fair share of other bands sine the breakup, but nothing hitting the popular indie (or mainstream) stratosphere.

“Crooked in the Weird of the Catacombs” starts with a nice, indie bassline and drum beat. Polite, slightly whiny vocals follow the melody laid out before it and it follows a basic powerpop guitar chord progression into the chorus. This feels like a slightly roughed up version of something you’d have heard come from the film That Thing You Do. The bass line and slow-quick-quick-slow rhythm pattern carry us out of the song as they did starting it off.
“New Comes and Goes” hits the reset button on the melody, seeming to be an alternate version. The vocals are a slacker version of Weezer, minus the energy, and a less erratic Steve Malkmus / Pavement style. The chorus is even less energetic than the verse, vocally. The instrumental bridge gets crazy fuzzy and even electronic in the background. But then the relaxed vocals come back, and the song finishes out on a high note.
“Sukiyaki” is a driving drum and piano song. The vocals are added and they sound just like the Shins with little spurts of vocals fitted over the melody. No momentum is lost in the chorus, as it keeps charging through. This is a nice indie pop song.
“Garden Party for the Murder Pride” loses the melodic vocals and is almost spoken word in comparison. The guitars are more aggressive, and stompy. The super-catchy melodies come crashing down in the very Weezerish chorus. Over the instrumental breaks, they substitute guitar solos with sputtering radio wave transmissions, which peppered in throughout the rest of the song.
“Outtatoch” is a driving song, with a much more organic, country-drive style. The vocals are a little Spoon-ish, but are more lax and distant from emotion, perhaps a little Lou Reed-like. There is a little garage-band style mixed in, mostly through the drum production and the chosen keyboard sound. The song seems to hit auto-pilot, and just continues to go on for a bit too long.
“Radio Wave” is a rushed, neurotic song, sung with the grace and ease of a spaced out, Zoloft-drugged out singer. Think a polite Nirvana (“Sliver”) produced with the idea of power pop in mind. The main problem with the song is that the chorus is too long, with the repetitive, interval pieces being too short.
“Wacha Holden” there is very little space to breathe between tracks on this album, as they are harshly juxtaposed up against each other. This song starts out with a clear, minimal production in the verse, which only overwhelms itself in the chorus with instrument competition. It reminds me a little of the style from Possum Dixon’s less energetic songs.

“Crones” combines again the mellow singing style with an instrumental melody that is beckoning to break out and run wild, but is restricted to color within the lines. The chorus is slightly off key, which is typically fine for alternative songs, but the music is fighting hard to stay melodic.
“Haeter” puts the stair stepping melody ahead of everything. All of the melodies and rhythms support it, in a dark, destructive march. Perhaps there are some elements of Guided By Voices, laying hooks and ideas on side by side in a track.
“Flying Pretend” is an emotional, sad Mike Viola-ish piano/vocal ballad. Some feedback and fuzz are gently introduced in the background after the first minute. After two minutes tonal changes in the background are supported by an acoustic guitar. But the piano remains dominant the entire time.
“Light Machine” does not waste any time or space between tracks, as the atmosphere bleeds into this song, starting off with feedback and space-age fuzz. The effects fade away, and a driving pop song emerges. The guitars chug along, and the They Might Be Giants melody plays along on top of a keyboard and more feedback effects in the background.
“Target You By Feel” lets everything else drop away except the chugging guitar, and this track feels like it is going to blast off into a pop-punk song. But rather, it develops into a catchy pop song once it gets to the chorus.
“Come Back Tomorrow” ends the album without a clue that the energy is about to end. The again head down sprinting forward guitars enjoy the open range of guitars without vocals for a good 45 seconds, before the deeper monotone vocals begin repeating the title over and over, along with “There’s no one home.” And that’s it, in a repetitive loop without much deviation. Its one simple idea fleshed out for a 2+ minute conclusion. 

Stand Out Tracks: Sukiyaki

Links: 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Wormhole - Chopper

Name: Wormhole (The Wormholes as of 1996)
Album: Chopper (10in EP)
Year: 1995
Style: Alternative
Similar Bands: Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr., Track Star, Pixies, Pavement, My Bloody Valentine
One Word Review: Slacker-Drone-Rock
Based Out Of: Ringsend, Dublin
Label: Roadtrip, Roadrunner
 Chopper - Cover & Record
Chopper - Back & Record
Chopper (1995)
  1. Leave the Blanket In 3:31
  2. 44 Bulldog 3:35
  3. Soul Searching in the Library 2:41
  4. Little Miss 3:34
  5. New 6:48
Album Rating (1-10): 7.5

Members & Other Bands:
Anto Carroll - Bass, Keys (European Sensoria Band, Memory Cells)
Dave Carroll - Drums, Vox (European Sensoria Band, Phil Alvin, Amygdala)
Graham Blackmore - Guitar
Eamonn Crudden - Recording?, Artwork, Photos
Marc Carolan - Production
Edel - Artwork, Photos
Zak -Artwork, Photos

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of the band, but just from the band name logo, I imagine this to be some sort of heavy hardcore bridging on metal. It looks dirty and sloppy by design, so I at least imagine some grungy sludge. Also, the label is a division of Roadrunner, and although not all their bands are metal-core bands, they do tend to run in that direction. Either way, this is a short EP, and should not be too much of a challenge to get through.

Album Review: So there was not much on Wormhole, but then I discovered that they changed their name to The Wormholes, and a bit more information opened up. They even got back together last month (DEC 2014) to close down one of their locally historic pubs in Dublin, and they have been an active band since.

“Leave the Blanket In” begins with a rubberband bass riff, and gently fades up with ambient fuzz, only to rock out at about 45 seconds. Sludgy alternative guitars lay the groundwork for a droning, brooding rock song with not so much chord changes, as tonal pitch changes. The whining, crunching guitars note changes sound very minor below all the dense fog.
“44 Bulldog” has a great sounding guitar, like Track Star, with a bit of echo, but sounding metallic and crisp. The chord loop is short and catchy. The vocals drone over the guitar, but are barely intelligible, and are exhausted in their delivery. At the chorus, extra fuzzy guitars add to the density. This is a very good slacker pop song. Toward the end of the song, the lead guitar takes some liberties and flourishes, unwinding a bit, but it does not detract from the song

“Soul Searching in the Library” is a bass driven, instrumental quiet pop song as it begins, with a similar musical setting as XTC’s Battery Brides. Metal screeching guitar is present in the background, and it reminds me of the Pixies as well.
“Little Miss’s” percussive tempo is laid down with a tambourine/cymbal cadence, which abruptly stops to allow for distortion of noise and vocals, like a poorly transmitted hand held radio signal. Then the Pavement like vocals kick in with the chugging rhythm guitar. The distortion revisits for a break and brings  the music to a stop. This precession repeats, and the Pavement-esq
“New” starts out like a band warming up for practice, with some miscellaneous sounds and a very garage band style guitar check, which is the opposite of the band’s recorded style. Then the droning guitars kick in and the pained, slacker vocals set in. The lead guitar hook is quite loud, piercing and walks a fine line of annoying. The song progresses itself into a wall of screeching sound and never comes back to the melody. It wavers in and out of audible tension, and then the rhythm guitar comes back with the melody, a bit of vocal and then it crashes into a huge wall of sound, My Bloody Valentine style. The stumbling, hand dragging melody repeats, like some of the fuzzier, noisier Imperial Teen songs, and then it just decides to end.

Stand Out Track: 44 Bullfrog

Links:
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Youtube video
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Soundcloud two albums
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Irish Music Data Base

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rovers 3 - s/t

Name: Rovers 3
Album: s/t
Year: 1963
Style: Vocal Group, Folk, Bluegrass
Similar Bands: Kingston Trio, Bachelors
One Word Review: Old Time Vaudevillian Troubadours
Based Out Of: Haddonfield, NJ
Label: self-released
 Rovers 3 Cover & Record
Rovers 3 Back & Record
Rovers 3 (1963)
  1. Battle Cry 2:49
  2. One More Time 2:45
  3. Mountain Dew 2:43
  4. Searchers Wind 2:39
  5. Holler Tree 2:01
  6. Of Coming Home Safely 4:20
  7. New Frontier 2:17/
  8. At Home You Sit And Cry 3:07
  9. Medley of Sea Chants (Capital Ship / Prayer / Rollin' Home / The Whale) 8:04
  10. His Return 4:40
  11. Hammer Song 2:49

Album Rating (1-10): 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Bruce Robinson - Banjo, writer, Vox
Pete Schaff - Guitar, Vox
Donald Grimme - Vox
Lem - Artwork

Unknown-Ness: I've never heard of the band. But I imagine I’m pretty close to my estimate when I guess it was a male vocal group focusing on traditional or folksy numbers. I don’t imagine much variance in the style song to song, but I imagine it will be solid. I like the simple hand drawn artwork, too.

Album Review: There was not much research out there on this trio, but I did find that they were all 1964 Haddonfield High School graduates, and with this being recorded and released in 1963, was before they moved on. That’s a pretty bold thing, to release an album while still in Highschool. Apparently, Schaff has the mastered tapes, and has created a couple copies of the album, as well as other material they recorded about the same time for sale via e-mail contact.

“Battle Cry” begins as one would imagine the traditional song to, with a rolling marching drum. The revolutionary sing along is well done with rich harmonic melodies clearly recorded in the forefront, and bolstered by folksy banjo. After two rushed verses, the song slows down for a more sentimental variant on the same melody. It begins to pick up toward the end, bringing it back to the energetic rollicking melody from the beginning.
“One More Time” starts with a relaxing moonlight river rowboat guitar and a gently swaying melody. It is a very calm and harmonized wandering love song.
“Mountain Dew” is a traditional song, with an obvious stand in term for bootlegged liquor, and the song features energetic vocals and plucked banjo, giving the image of the song sung on a southern country shack porch. There are playful and well timed hoots and hollers in the background. The melody is a short campfire sing-a-long. The song ends with a harmonized crescendo of the title, with a “whoopee” thrown in for good measure. I have to include the fact that Ween does a great version of a variant of this song.
“Searchers Wind” is a solo sung love ballad, with deep vocals and an enchanting guitar. The accompanying vocals only offer a light hum in the background.
“Holler Tree” is a group sung folk song with energetic banjo and lively vocals. It is a simple, repeating and rolling melody, but that is all you need when it is done this well.
“Of Coming Safely Home” has a slow, deep, vocal only intro, and it blossoms into a smooth, poetic folk song. It has a nice combined melody, where one voice out of the group will break out of the pack to offer his solo. It is bold and confident. The song begins to slow down, as if to end, but it only serves as a vocal transition to a similar yet different section, before returning to the familiar group vocals with the one breakout spot lit vocal.
“New Frontier” starts as a harmonized acapela. Then the banjo is added, and the vocalists take turns for the verses, but all come together for the chorus. The song slows down a little to a steady marching pace, which quickly winds down to an all-stop when the song ends

“At Home You Sit And Cry” is a psychedelic folk apology to a girl left behind. It creates a smooth and windswept setting of departure and excitement of journey from the singer’s perspective. It gives the image of an era of discovery and pre-automobiles; heading out west on a wagon.
“Medley of Sea Chants” contains 4 songs, all sea shanties. The first is a bit Popeye like with a bunch of speed up and slow down transitional sections. The next part to the medley is a quieter solo ballad. It builds in volume and the soothing guitar plays on a 3-note loop. It quiets down into whistles and the third section begins with a single voice singing a solemn melody coupled with haunting oh-oh’s in the background, and it tells of rolling home to England. Then a brash transition of energy and a spark of emotion start the fourth section of the song, which is a story about brave sailors that encountered a whale. It is a show tune style song.
“His Return” shifts back to a solemn emotion, with a western prairie whistle highlighting the melody in the background. The harmonized vocals transition in and out of group vocals into solo singers once in a while. For a song predicting a soldier’s return home, the tone is very sad and reserved, perhaps preparing for the worst.
“Hammer Song” is the familiar Pete Seeger “If I Had A Hammer” song. There is a bit of optimism in the song, and the first verse features hammer head on steel metronome percussion. This is swapped out for drum and banjo in the second verse. The third verse quiets down a little more, and is a little more soulful. After the third verse, the vocals come together in a harmonized melody that grows in boldness and strength. 

Stand Out Track: Mountain Dew

Links: 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

911 - Dial 911

Name: 911
Album: Dial 911
Year: 1981
Style: New Wave
Similar Bands: Cretones, Survivor, Mad At The World
One Word Review: Dark Synth Power Metal
Based Out Of: Philadelphia, PA
Label: World Wide Records
 Dial 911 - Cover, Liner Photo, Record
Dial 911 - Back, Liner Notes, Record
Dial 911 (1981)
  1. Working Hard 3:39
  2. Final Connection 3:29
  3. Gamma Radio 3:43 /
  4. Dial 911 3:04
  5. Social Risk 2:50
  6. Bound & Determined 3:24
Album Rating (1-10): 6.5

Members & Other Bands: X
Joe McSorely - Producer, Engineer (Reds, Shades)
John Masi - Vox, Guitar, Lyrics
Dan Michael - Bass & Vox
Michael Rosato - Piano, Synth, Vox
Dave Columbo - Drums, Percussion, Vox
 Mike Lafferty - Asst. Engineer
Ted Jensen - Mastering
Ken Goodman - Managment
Dave Taylor - Equipment
James Scully - Equipment
Richard Menaquale - Equipment
Anthony Ordille - Equipment
Steve Werblun - Logo Design
CWAM 3 / Mohacey - Photography
Kimberlee Sautter - Album Design
Odile Soroka - Album Design

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band. I picked it up, surprisingly, because it is from a bit later of an era than I usually buy. But I liked the simple cover and back, it is a short EP, they are local to Philly, and I like the energy in the liner sleeve’s photos. From the photos, I’d guess they are a typical new wave, pub rock band.

Album Review: Not much is available about these guys out there on the world wide web, even for a record label called world wide records. The one site with a very brief band description (selling a copy of the record) claims them to be Synth Punk / New Wave.

“Working Hard” has a zoomy intro with synth effects and new wave-power pop melody. The build up to the chorus is steady, but it doesn’t deliver with the emotional release it sets up. The break down falls into the same pattern of build up without a release…instead it returns to the verse. The song continually resets itself, and never escapes a droning loop.
“Final Connection” is a pub rock power pop song with lots of new wave energy. The synth effects and what sounds like a synth drum take frontal focus in this driving, exercise montage of a song.
“Gamma Radio” is slow to build, and once it gets going, soaring electric guitars offer the imagery of an defunct & abandoned manufacturing plant. The vocals are a little deeper but still nasally as they interweave with the melody. This is the sound of sleek, yet dirty cop dramas, while still hanging on to the synthesizer. And the fluid vocals sound vaguely British.

“Dial 911” begins with a bouncy playful synth line that is quickly replaced with a zooming guitar, and them it changes to a different synth effect melody. The song is played in a minor key, offering a desperate and abstract-like dream. Slightly evil, but mostly scared and nervous. It features a close comparison to Squeeze’s Difford/Tilbrook’s overlapping vocals in the chorus. An ambulance siren effect is incorporated into the song. This paranoid dance song changes direction to a power guitar driven song in the very end, and it includes a fade out.
“Social Risk” has a dark power guitar intro with synth effects overlaid. While the music is nervous, the vocals are taking their time while they use the instrument melody as a guide. The first set of synth effects feel more at home with softer, later 80’s adult pop.
“Bound & Determined” is a driving rock song, and it transitions to a dark metal song, with prog keyboard effects. The chorus breaks out of the gloom with sterile crystalline synth effects and a much more upbeat melody. But post-chorus, the song retreats back to the darkness, with the synth effects tagging along to give variety to the song. Overall, it sounds like a much more appealing version of the christian group Mad at the World.

Stand Out Track: Dial 911

Links:
Discogs
Worth Point