Thursday, April 19, 2018

Record Review: The Cavemen "Nuke Earth" (Slovenly Recordings)

$13.50 // //

The Cavemen come out swinging on "Nuke Earth".   My neighbors play terrible rap music all the time.  I'm not saying rap music is terrible, I'm saying they play that radio shit.  One day, they walked by my door and were laughing really loud, it sounded like something worse than what you would imagine from a highlight reel of "The Nanny".    So once they got inside I put this record on and drowned out their fighting.

They don't make them like The Cavemen any more.   At least I didn't think they did because this record is evidence that they do.    From bands like New Bomb Turks and River City Rebels, I hear pieces of Guttermouth and even Iggy Pop in here (And not just because the first song is called "Lust For Evil")  Spelling out "B-A-B-Y" on "Chernobyl Baby" makes me think of the Ramones and really these songs could fit in just as well in the 1970's with that whole scene in CBGB's as they could in the pit now.

Though isn't that the biggest problem in punk music right now?  Too many bands sound like... Well, not punk.  Kids used to sneak out of their house, steal a car to see a punk show.   Now their parents drive them and make them check in, ~especially if they play that one song I like~.   It just feels like the term "punk" has been so bastardized there's no coming back from it because no matter how much you sound like The Clash or Ramones or Sex Pistols, if you tell someone you're punk they're going to say "Oh, you mean like Fall Out Boy?" or some other band doing more harm than good to the scene.

The funny thing about my mentioning Fall Out Boy is that people then think if they're not punk then that must mean that punk rock can't be good music.   You can't play your instruments well or have melodies and catchy hooks.   But punk rock was built on melodies and catchy hooks.  They had the appearance of not being able to play but were actually some of the most talented musicians out there at the time because they were doing what no one else was (Same can be said for The Cavemen right now)

Some of the best guitar riffs you'll ever hear are in a song called "Gimme Beer Or Gimme Death".   These have their sing along moments where if you listen to "Nuke Earth" a few times through you'll be raising your fist in the air and singing the words too, but they're also wild-- they're dangerous.    Perhaps the best way to describe this music is that sense of unknown.   You could go see The Cavemen live and have a great night, everything goes according to plan.   But it also has that unpredictable nature to it like if you saw them live maybe a full riot would break out.   That's why I love punk rock so much.  That's why I love The Cavemen.

Cassette Review:
We Also Let Blood
"My Body Is A Hole"
(Dancing Shadows)

$4 //
Edition of 10 //   //
🎧 //

There once was a movie called "200 Cigarettes" in which the characters confessed that smoking cigarettes was a means of being antisocial.   I was a smoker at the time and never thought of it that way but was kind of happy when I imagined this cloud of smoke around me to keep other people away.   I've not smoked for something like fifteen years and now I find other ways to remain antisocial, healthier ways and music is one of them.

I listen to my Walkman when I do laundry.   What I listen to depends upon my mood for the day.   One time, I went to do laundry with two different cassettes and listened to them both all the way through before I was done and on this day I knew I wouldn't make that same mistake again.   At 83 minutes, I've seen movies shorter than "My Body Is A Hole".  If it takes me longer than this to do laundry then something is seriously wrong.

People debate headphones versus earbuds but to me I like earbuds better.  It's more of a way to plug the ears so all of the sound is contained within you and only you.   We Also Let Blood let out a large wall of static noise, this constant feeling of being in a windstorm, and yet it is still better than the soundtrack of the life going on around me.   On the television, "The Price Is Right" dashes some middle class college kid's hopes and dreams of paying insurance on a brand new car. 

Whle doing the wash, people look at me, see the earbuds in and decide against approaching me, trying to talk to me, and the antisocial plan is working.   As I switch over to the dryers, I sit now and watch as the man next to me makes some sort of comment to the woman next to him.   They don't know each other but they had one of those "Laundry, am I right?" type of moments I try so hard to avoid.   I realize we are all sitting on benches next to each other- three benches in a row- and wonder why I didn't retreat to the corner dryers again.  Fuck.

As Side A comes to a close and I flip the cassette to Side B I manage to hear a woman yell across the laundromat "Do you have a bathroom?"  There are two laundromats near me and though I am in the larger of the two, it is still not that big.  If you spend any amount of time in it, you will easily find the bathroom.  It's not hidden and with its door wide open it is not locked in any way.   I retreat to the static noise as that is all I can stand of humans for the day.

The dryers end and as I bend down to pick up clothes from the bottom dryer, the clip comes off my pocket and the Walkman falls out onto the floor.   Earbuds rip out of my ears but only manage to fall to my shoulders as they come unplugged.   I pick up the Walkman, plug the earbuds back in and press play.   It seems fine though now there is this sort of humming, a soft screech, coming from the Walkman itself.  I can turn the volume down all the way and still hear it.   It's as if my Walkman is asking We Also Let Blood "Collab?"

I drop a dryer sheet while folding and pick it up.   The Walkman does the same falling down trick and I've had enough of it so I put it into my bag and walk home without music.   When I get home, I find the play button stuck halfway between on and off.   It's not playing, but it's not stopped.  I cannot force the window open so I have to use a butter knife to pry the cassette out and then it seemingly resets itself and all is well.    Between avoiding people and trying to wreck a personal cassette player, I'd say this We Also Let Blood cassette is right on.

CD Review:
Escape to Weird Mountain Volume 2
(Forbidden Place Records)

$8.99 // //

They say the sequel is never as good as the original, but as we attempt to Escape to Weird Mountain for the second time I am already hooked by the number of artists I know, which oddly all have songs which fall in the same order.   Missiles of October, Nostromo and Sex Funeral are all in a row at least but I also recognize ARU by name (and I've reviewed all of those four artists before as well)

Up until the sax noise of Sex Funeral, these songs are pretty rocking.   Burn the Ailment has this "Search and Destroy" Metallica feel to it while Yellow Color Tester brings out the video game rock.   Fox Medicine could be my favorite new band as they cross between Metric and Great Grandpa has me looking them up on Bandcamp right away.   Though, that isn't to discredit Buzz Rodeo in any way as they have this great rock sound which could be something from the Replacements era.

Kepones remind me of Voodoo Glow Skulls but a little less skacore and a little more hardcore.   The second half of the Sex Funeral song "When the Hassle Hits the Hustle" does come out quite loud though, keeping this whole vibe intact.  I don't think I mentioned this in my first review but if I did it can be repeated: I thought the idea of this being Weird Mountain wouldn't just be weird (which I do recall typing) but also more slower, ambient and instrumental jams.    This is definitely surprising again and I'm just digging the hell out of these artists.

Woress is more great metal-- like something you'd find on one of those compilations from the 1990's with Ted Nugent on it only, you know, not as bad as Ted Nugent.    Sludgeburner is also as loud and heavy as you would expect based on their name.    There is a more metal sounding blues in the song "Black Pizza" by Succuba than Clapton's "Cocaine" as it also takes a nod from Fozzy.    The electronic sounds of ARU collide with audio samples before we meet the surf rock of Wood Chickens.    Musician begins with an audio clip and then goes into that harsh static noise which I expected to hear at some point on this CD I just didn't know it was going to wait until the end. 

These are sixteen songs by sixteen incredible artists.   There isn't a track on here I want to skip over and all of these songs make me want to learn more about the artists I am not already familiar with.    This basically does exactly what it should in that sense but it also takes me back to when I was in my younger years and compilations seemed to matter more.   Too much these days there is little to no effort put into them and it just seems to be songs grouped together for some unknown reason (Sometimes I've even seen the artists appear in alphabetical order.  Ewwww)   This is just superb from start to finish and you should have it in your own personal music library.

CD Review: Modern Life Is War "My Love. My Way" (Deathwish Inc.) [Deathwish Inc. 10/$10 #09]

Copy & Paste Intro: One thing we at Raised by Gypsies love is a good deal.   Deathwish Inc. offered up ten compact discs for ten dollars and I could't help but jump on it.   I have received promos from Deathwish Inc. in the past, but between moving and just life in general I'm not sure how many I still have- the only CD I can tell you I still have for certain is by The Dedication.   So take a trip with me, shall you, as I explore ten compact discs for ten dollars.

Back in 2005 I listened to and reviewed Modern Life Is War for the first time with their album "Witness".   I thought it was their first album and as such "My Love. My Way." would have to be one that came after, but the funny thing about that is this album actually was their first one.   It was released on Martyr Records in 2003 and this is a re-release of it I suppose from Deathwish.   

According to Discogs, MLIW released three albums before calling it quits in '08.   I'll have to track down and hear the album "Midnight In America" (shout out to EVR) but then they have an album in 2013 on Deathwish called "Fever Hunting" that I can only assume is a collection of their singles and EPs and such?  I don't know.  I'll track that down eventually too because holy shit "My Love. My Way." has renewed my interested in MLIW. [Editor's Note: "Fever Hunting" is a return for MLIW.  Get your shit together, Discogs!]

With the energy of punk rock and the full onslaught of hardcore music, MLIW has always been one of my favorite bands because they maintain that overall hardcore/punk scene sound but seem to defy the genres found within it (specifically terms like "punk" and "hardcore")   There are as many screams as there are sing along moments and this is just heavy but not in the way you would expect from something which was under the banner of metal.   

Now not only do I want to go and find "Witness" and listen to that again, I also want to track down the two other albums MILW has and listen to those as well.   In that sense, this album did exactly what great albums should do and that is make me want to listen to more music by the band.   It's not being mean just honest to say that a lot of hardcore bands overstay their welcome after one album because all of their songs can sound the same.  I don't think that can ever be said of Modern Life Is War though.

Music Review:
Philipp Bückle
(Moving Furniture Records)  //
🎧 //

At first this comes through with a quiet, ambient hum.   Some sharpness enters as it begins to have that glass feel to it.   A whooshing begins in the background, which really to me sounds like when that washing machine kicks the spin cycle into high gear.   But it could also be a muted drill.   The sharpness sounds like a beeping, like an SOS distress signal.    Static like a record player now and this song is calm in spite of what cuts out of one ear and all goes to the other.  Yes, this all just jumped from my left earbud into my right.    Slight beeps send the piece to its end.

More angelic ambient tones bring out pianos to start the next song and it feels like heaven.   That slight bit of static comes through but this song just sounds like a bright and sunny day to me.    Dark strings come in with water but I don't want to feel like the rain is putting a damper on this day.   Or have these been strings this whole time and that was what I thought the ambient tones were?    Those strings bring us to a rather sad end.   Buzzing beeps come through next though, as if trying to bring us back to life.   This begins to flicker, somewhere between a lightbulb and a bugzapper sound.   Higher pitched tones come through in a ringing in my ear way to bring the third song to an end, though it flows flawlessly into the next track.

An ohm drone is accompanied by acoustic guitar strums.   This makes me feel a certain buzzing in my head, a certain way that makes things feel wavy and I know if I were to take my earbuds out right now it would have me disorientated.   There needs to be a scientific word for when you switch from what you hear in earbuds/headphones to when you change back to reality because if you're listening to the right thing even silence can feel so powerful.  Static comes through in a dark way and sort of trails off as we depart into the fifth song.

Pianos and frequency whirrs come out in the darkness and this has a definite Nine Inch Nails feel to it.    Static like from a record player (Which I keep typing a lot, so this is going to confuse people since this is on vinyl) comes through with these little shots mixed in that I can't describe but almost sound like a basketball hitting the floor of a high school gym off in the distance.   A cello comes in and this just sounds dark as hell now.    Pianos, strings and running water come out in the next track and I'm wondering how this is going to affect me if I listen to it right before I go to sleep.

There are these notes being sung during this song next, but they only come out like "ah" and they kind of glitch which brings in some sharpness.   it's not something I've heard done as much before as it feels like less something recorded specifically for this song and more like something taken from another existing song and messed around with to create this manipulation.   Singing comes out again to start the next song but it's more like a radio rock song.   Before it could have been that "Eyes Of An Angel" song by Sarah McLaughlin but now it could be something more like Coldplay, being stopped and cut off as it is were being played back on a record. 

This album is just so different, yet still remains ambient somehow, even if at times it is a dark ambient.    It's the type of thing I want to listen to before I go to sleep every night for 30 days in a row and see what I remember each morning of my dreams.    More dark strings and more waves of sadness.    On some level I feel like this has a classical vibe to it.    Static and these tones though also make me think of the old west, like an instrumental Murder by Death.    Pianos and that cello have a definite theme to this album and it's just such a great way in which they work together.    As we near the end I hear a sound which I now feel like is fireworks though I may have mistaken the popping for basketball earlier.   We end with what sounds like the static of some radio station not quite coming through in full and this is quite possibly going to become one of the most understated albums of the year if not ever.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Cassette Review:

$5 // //
🎧 //

If your first thought when seeing the name Bending doesn't take you to Futurama then I'm afraid we cannot be friends.   That's right- Bender's middle name is Bending.   Bender Bending Rodriguez.   And when he reveals that on an episode of Futurama it is one of those moments I'll never forget.    My mind immediately jumps back there as soon as I see the name Bending here and yours should too. 

"Curls" begins with quiet, ambient synth which comes through like a calm ocean.   A little bit of this rattling, like a guitar jangle, follows as it picks up in volume but not speed.   We are still just floating, drifting.   The next song comes through with an ambient sound droning behind this sharper yet softer whistle.   There is also this vocal sound as if someone is about to speak but then is quickly cut off.    There are some electronics in here now as well, but it still has this overall relaxing feel to it and somehow remains minimal.    Much of what could be considered to make this anything other than ambient sees itself out and this takes on a tone of total relaxation.

Organ type tones come through next in a way which one might use for the radio frequency changing as they cut through in pieces.    Uplifting ohms come through in waves and have this slow alarm sound to them.    Electronic beeping can also be found in here as well.  In between my apartment and the next there exists a hallway with stairs and there is  smoke detector in there (I believe) which is dying and has been slowly beeping so the faint sound of it fits in well with this part of "Curls".    If that smoke dectector could talk it would DM artists on Twitter like "Yo, collab?"

Accordion type sounds bring about what sounds like crying but I'm sure is not being made by human voice.    It's this glowing yet sad song.     This eventually fades out and we're flipping to the next side.   A humming sort of buzzing comes through as if it is trying to speak words but I can't quite make them out.    This drones like organs.     As it continues to ring out an acoustic guitar can be heard strumming through the beauty of it all.    Electronic shots are fired now, somewhat to sound like glitching but also like a pinball machine in general perhaps.    This begins to sound like an all out space war.    It appears as if the song glitches itself out, but then this guitar melody like a walking western comes in.

Static as if radio stations are changing makes way for these sounds which feel like ducks quacking.    This eventually sounds like someone trying to talk through the static.  It ends in an ambient and relaxing way, which has really been the story for this cassette.   While it had its moments of getting louder, it primarily maintained a quieter tone, more relaxing and while that might be only the correct word to describe it a part of the time I'd say it is even more reflexive.    You might find this one to be too loud at times, but I enjoy putting it on and just feeling at peace.

Cassette Review:
Magnetizer "Town Morpheus"
(Eternal Bleep Bloop)

$20 // //

Someone gives this cassette a proper introduction and then drum beats bring in synth which give this somewhat of a dance feel.    The cymbals and drums come through and make me start thinking of C&C Music Factory.    It also has this driving video game type of feel to it as well.  Electronic pinball loops come into play as well.   It slows down though, drags out the notes a bit and just feels like it's going to break down before it makes this little skip and it's nice to hear those merry-go-round broke down elements in music.    Static skips come in as well and add another level to this all.

The tones slow down and get a little bit longer.   It's a different sound now- less fast paced, less urgent.    An electric rattle sounds like an alarm or perhaps morse code.   The tones in the background of this are darker though, sad like "Donnie Darko".   They become the only sound you hear for a moment.    Then synth tones come through like droplets of water.    Synth tones like something out of the '80's come in as well and this song just has these two different levels to it and yet they work together so well.   A third element is briefly added in and then big drum beats begin the next song with what sounds like an audio clip on a skipping repeat.

Drums clap add to the head-nodding on this song.    Modular synth comes in which almost makes me think of something related to Casio.   This brings about faster beats which remind me of Adult Swim but then there are these tones inside of them which could be from some sort of funeral or something like that-- it reminds me a bit of The Undertaker having his theme song in 8bit form.    Everything then breaks down into just this solo drum beat.   Someone is talking in the background but it is buried deep back there.    For a moment there it gets deeper, almost demonic, and then the words being spoken seem to be sped up briefly before Side A reaches its end.

Side B opens with a song that has that synth which reminds me more of the "Run Lola Run" sound, which takes me back to the Magnetizer cassette prior to this one.   The beats on the song after this get big and heavy.   It's serious; you can tell it's going down.    Even as the tones switch, a whistle comes out here and there, it still has this serious side to it that you do not want to mess with.  (It also has some serious bass)  This could sound great coming out of the speakers of your car in the trunk.    This brings us into a much more robotic song in its electronic delivery.    Solid unce unce bass brings on what I like to now think of as being vintage Magnetizer. 

We go from "Alias" into something a bit more fun that I can't quite describe but has those elements of possible ping-pong or pinball mixed in.  It gets faster with more beeps as if it is some kind of video game and we are into the next round so the enemies have become sped up (which I think is in Space Invaders, right?)   Though it might slow down by the end it just has that feeling like we have defeated the bad guys and one-- the game is over but we are victorious.

Throughtout these three cassettes, you will hear different sounds so that you will be able to recognize them if you were to play them out of order for some reason.   They remind me of a trilogy of great movies where together they are better but if you do decide to watch one and not the others it is also okay.   The only movie series I can think of like that off hand is "Lethal Weapon" but there are four of those and I usually watch the fourth one first.   If you do have the time though to sit down and listen to all three cassettes in one afternoon (or overnight) I'd highly recommend it but otherwise, yes, these are some defining pieces of music in a genre I wish to know more about.