Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wet Socks - 2012 - Soaking Wet

<a href="https://wetsocks.bandcamp.com/album/soaking-wet"
  • 5 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Asleep With The Tv On
THEY SOUND LIKE THEY’RE PLAYING LIVE. WHAT? LIVE. THEY SOUND LIKE THEY’RE PLAYING LIVE. LIVE? YEAH, LIVE… that’s the pretend conversation I’m having with my friend because WET SOCKS are playing and we’re right in front of the speaker.
That’s the only way to enjoy this garage EP. If you’re not in the right mindset you won’t enjoy it, like punk before punk became sissies whining about their feelings. The lo-fi is subtle but all there: megaphone vocals, slightly revolting drums, and of course chippy quality. It worked because lyrics don’t matter at this point. If I really cared to listen to them I would, but it doesn’t matter. I just know I heard the word “girl” about 15 times. All in all, this is fun, and a 5/5 for me means I can listen to the set over and over again without substantial weak spots. Not only that, but I’m going to keep listening to this one after it goes on up the page.
Having a crappy week? Throw it on the record player, because it certainly sounds like vinyl. And because this twisted puppy only has 5 tracks, I’m going to go ahead and walk you through it:
1st – that’s the live sound I was yelling to my friend about earlier. Even though it’s the weakest track, it’s sort of like, "here, have some sound; I need to throw out anyway. Do whatever you want with that. This is just a thesis."
2nd track – nothing but smiles here. I’m happily angry at my summer. No school, but it was always more… fun than it is right now. My expectations weren’t high and I’m still disappointed. I hate growing up.
3rd – Who has seen Pulp Fiction? This is John Travolta driving in the night when he’s high on heroin. Right turn, left turn, it’s all the same. The guitar solos don’t sell this song short either. Follow them and they take you down a winding, endless road. Honestly, it just sounds really cool.
4th – the most beach sounding track. As it turns out, that narrow road went through a tunnel road, and we emerged at the site of a beach bonfire. As it is, the air feels sweet. Sneakin’ around stood out like a lollipop and it’s a special track for me because of the chorus. It’s so damn swift and a change of pace I wish it was played again… and again. It ends with what sounds like passing out.
5th – we stayed at the beach all night and the sand is starting to get annoying instead of fun to step on. I just wanna crash indoors, could be a couch. I don’t care. Who’s driving? Where are my keys? There they are. Let’s do this again sometime.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Backyard Ghost - 2014 - Descantece

Dark Ambient
<a href="https://sombresoniks.bandcamp.com/album/desc-ntece"
  • 8 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Adrift , The Premature Burial
Backyard Ghost's album is definitely not for the faint-hearted. If I didn't experience a "dark" (black metal&co) phase about 10 years ago, I might have hesitated to hit play on certain tracks, and probably considered them blasphemous as my sense of foreboding grew stronger. But Descântece (Romanian term meaning "incantations") is a mild, yet disturbing dark ambient album, having the supernatural as a prevailing theme: ghosts, burials (and premature ones at that), haunted forests, spirits and rituals. Releasing a mere 8 days before Halloween must have been a joy to "ritualists" everywhere.

Interesting enough, the artist is not Romanian. He did use Romanian titles and the album cover features a Transylvanian castle. When asked about his interest in Romania, he confesses: “I Guess I Am Interested In Romania, Eastern Europe And Its Folklore, I Have A Good Friend From Romania As Well And Wish To Honor Her…” 

The album’s second track, The Premature Burial is similar to Negură Bunget's atmospheric track Primul Om, (probably the most famous Romanian black metal band) as far as the bright, symphonic, positive moment of epiphany is concerned; even mentioning these words - epiphany, positive - is blasphemous to Backyard Ghost and to this genre. But I never really understood the meaning nor the need of these bright parts in this context. I assume they're trying to bring some balance to the troubled, abyssal tunes. Nonetheless The Premature Burial's brief epiphany-moment gets altered by the excessive use of the resonance effect of the analog synth. I would have preferred a more extended 4:16 part and less resonance effect (that reminded me too much of Jean Michel Jarre). Apart from that, it is one of the most melodic tracks on the album, along with Adrift. Hoia Baciu refers to a Transylvanian forest famous for its "paranormal activity". If Backyard Ghost used field recordings for this track (and he probably did), they were taken from this forest, to our excitement and terror, while the ending track of the album, Stafie (Romanian term meaning "ghost"), portrays the perfect outro taken from a horror movie. 

The track titles may make your skin crawl, so I will refrain from going deeper into that. After some time I became interested in how much the artist “means” with his work. How serious he seems when he composes something like “You Drew A Star And I Drew A Circle”. A friend of mine (interested in this genre) shared his insights with me: “I see things as a performance, an act. There are some radical bands, too, but they wouldn’t leave prison anytime soon”. Performance it is, then. 
A few more words about the artist: Backyard Ghost really enjoys using ellipses when describing his music, indicating uncertainty, unfinished thoughts and probably mystery. However, the song titles here and in dark ambient as a whole tend to leave subtlety at the door, with titles such as The Premature Burial, Neglected Spirits, First Signs of Infection, trying so hard to evoke a sense of dread, and terror, that they remove any sense of mystery. Even though these titles suit their respective tracks, leaving a little something to your listener's imagination goes a long way. 

On the contrary, Backyard Ghost, when asked to describe the message conveyed by his music, he cites the opposite effect: “I Usually Let My Musical Works Speak For Themselves… And Let The Listener Use Their Imaginations, Like Reading A Good Book… To Conjure Images And Deeper Meanings To The Sounds.

I'm not that type of person who listens to music on max, but for the Backyard Ghost's rich sound texture I made an exception. No one will blame you anyway,as your neighbours might be more inclined to associate the dissonant drones with some bird trapped in their air shaft, rather than the music you listen to.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Borrachera - 2014 - The Basement Sessions

<a href="http://borrachera.bandcamp.com"
  • 4 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Pukake
Sometimes my listening habits outside the blog will greatly influence what hits off with me more than I'd think (See last summer's synthwave obsession, and the upcoming Those Gulls). And the surprise (to me) release of a new DFA1979 has gotten me in the mood for drum and bass duos, and boy are Borrachera (as the band puts it “Borrachera: Spanish noun; Drunkenness. English verb: Two piece Rock 'n' roll from Edmonton Ab”) doing it for me. It's not exactly dance music, swapping dance floors for filthy mosh pits, but it's pretty groovy doom/sludge rock that you could probably shake your ass to in a club all things considered. Probably closer to a dirtier Young Widows or a Nick Oliveri-led QOTSA though, and by god is that sweet sound to my ears. The title is aptly apparent from the get go, as the recording is rough as hell; the vocals a jumble in the mix (and they're not 'clean' vocals to begin with, making them even more cryptic at times), and it sounds like a band playing in a closet. Of course, the instruments do sound quite good with that in mind (grimy as all get up, but sludge works better that way, no?). Honestly, even if the name is truth to power on this EP, it helps. I hope the band follow through on rerecording these for their upcoming album, but don't lose that dank, wet basement sound too much. It adds to the appeal for me. Giving everything a spit shine would really be of detriment to the rock music dragged-from-a-swamp thing these guys have got going on here. Two guys, a bass, drums, and some growling can go a long way when they put their minds to it, and Borrachera certainly do. 

edit: This was written just days before the band's new album dropped, and I'd like to thank the guys for putting Sessions back on their bandcamp page. Check out Basement Sessions while it's back for a limited time, and give their album a go if you dig what you're hearing. I know I will be. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Orange Aurora - 2014 - Orange Aurora

Dream Pop
<a href="https://orangeaurora.bandcamp.com/album/orange-aurora"
  • 7 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Friends
Self-titled releases should be strong. They imply that an artist is comfortable enough with a release that they want to sign it with their own name, by not signing it. An artist or band is saying, “This is me”, and “I’m going to put it all on this album” (yes, in those exact words); unless you’re Led Zeppelin and have four consecutive self-titled albums, named by the public. But that’s besides this simple point. On the official Led Zeppelin DVD (2003) Robert Plant said it best: “I think albums are the true statement of a group’s work”, and explains they depict what a group’s been up to over a period of time. Blah, blah, right? None of this is news. But I thought I’d give some background and basis for what I’m about to say: when I see a self-titled release, I get especially excited and intrigued, because it takes confidence through a sense of identity. I’d never heard of Orange Aurora, but thought this was a nifty place to start. Again, none of this is ground breaking or an unpopular opinion, but what good is a blog if you don’t know a little bit about me? I’m a simple man. I pushed play.

Whether or not the bass on my headphones has slowly deteriorated into an unnoticeable level or the beanie I’m wearing absorbs any luscious low ground which I so precariously yearn for, the treble seems jacked. Guitar notes whistled with that overdrive flutter constantly, but I loved it. This album is a stoner’s dream. The type of stoner that really doesn’t care about life if he’s not stoned, and doesn’t care to notice when he is stoned. The kind that finds comfort in a two chord progression that is Second Glimpse (which I noticed is like a sequel to February, the opener). This entire album is shoegaze, and my favorite kind too, pop shoegaze.The quiet tracks are relaxing at their core, with some nice sampling in Victoria (For a chill and similar style song that reminds me of the closer, see: Weed Demon by Wavves). The vocals are indiscernible and full of flow, actually perfect for this album. Best tracks are 2, 4, and 5, with 2 being self-titled. Seagulls and white foam blend and resonate from the self-titled track, which I would agree should be the featured track.

If you stay up at night held hostage to unpleasant memories or thoughts, this is your album. Let the sweet chords and lead melodies zone you out. Obviously it’s not 5/5 for me, but it goes beyond what could’ve been done differently. I’m not sure, it wasn’t quite unique enough. Honestly, it pains me that I can’t give it a 5, and will undoubtedly be the best 4 I’ve reviewed. It sounds terrific as a close-your-eyes-and-forget set, but the songs are partly forgettable, as beautiful as they sound. So, I wouldn’t recommend picking apart style or anything else, but “this is really enjoyable” is an understatement. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Dick Fist - 2014 - Dick Fist

<a href="http://dickfistnoise.bandcamp.com/releases"
  • 6 songs to download
  • For free
  • Direct Download
  • Listening recommendations:
It took longer to write this review than it did to listen to this EP all the way through. Twice. Now, I warn you, this music is abrasive and raw and all kinds of not very nice. If words like 'grindcore' and 'power violence' in music make you shake your head, this probably would be a good time to go read Georgi's All India Radio review (Do that anyway). It's two people (they only have initials on the site) screeching into the mics and playing as hard and fast as they possibly can. They also try to use shock value as a blunt object on the listener (the cold opener about Jesus sounding like some kind of wildlife documentary is a humourous touch). The lyrics are as ridiculous as one would imagine two teenagers giving the middle finger verbally would be, telling punks, punk rock and, well, pretty much everyone else to fuck off over and over again over the span of three or so minutes. Normally, I'd abhor this EP and the snotty nonsense brutalizing my eardrums, but this must have just caught me at the right time, because I enjoyed it rather a lot. Everything sounds a bit rough, vocals, guitars, drums, all a bit dirty really. About the only thing that doesn't is the opening clip about Jesus and the shootout interlude. Not that it matters, they're competently played – the rough around the edges sound is most likely intentional – and so fast you won't even notice until it's gone. It may be shallow, and silly, but there's enthusiasm in Dick Fist (a phrase you do not want to repeat in front of Grandma I assure you) and you can hear it. There's an interlude damn it. An interlude in a record that's barely 3 minutes long (and it's the 2nd last track!) The tongue is so firmly in cheek it may burst through.

So I suggest taking a couple minutes of your day and thrashing your head around to Dick Fist.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cartoon Monster - 2013 - Loves EP

<a href="https://cartoonmonster.bandcamp.com/album/loves-ep"
  • 6 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Windowsill
Cartoon monster is a scientist with a musical lab in his bedroom. Wanna know something else? It feels like he’s tired of music, a Frankenstein-esque creator yearning for peace. But until then, he’s forced to doodle electronically. I’ve been familiar with his work for a couple of years now, and it’s usually easy listening, but loves EP sounds a bit possessed. It’s like I’m in a colorful house with tons of wheels, gadgets, and toys; but the house is empty and every room holds a different track. A little weird, a little looney, but that’s the appeal. The door is wide open, and this is what to expect from him.

Because of that, every song gets right to the point. Even though I’d consider it pop, loves is a unique diary, with no intention to sound happy, but more of a pop culture satire. These tracks, mostly having acoustic guitar and some sort of synth layer, are tied down by an exhausted vocal track. You’ll know what I mean. While only being 6 tracks long, I’m not sure how to feel about this set. I’m not sure how to describe its message or tone. It sort of just is. Leaves just as easily as it comes, but you’ll remember it. His signature tea kettle whispering is found in circus din, and glowing growing is sounds like an acid trip at a circus (as if they weren’t frightening enough). For those that just want to take a peak, I’d suggest salish sea. It’s a calm tune that sounds like it was recorded in a bathtub down by the seaside.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

All India Radio - 2014 - Red Shadow Landing (Demo Versions)

<a href="http://allindiaradio.bandcamp.com/album/red-shadow-landing-demo-versions"
All India Radio's demos are not just another episode of ”How it's made”, where listeners get to assess the various musical lines and textures before they are moulded into the final mix. There's more than that: I came across the ”Demos better than the finished product” dilemma, as they bear the original rough spark of inspiration. And it's not just me; Martin, the band's guitarist confesses that he sometimes likes them more than the proper album - reason why he has decided to release them 2 months ago.

Freed from the focus on details & alterations perceived as improvements the demos unveil the authentic stream of inspiration - a most diverse one, I must say, as it gathers and unifies styles of various artists, such as Helios (Keith Kenniff), Badalamenti, Boards of Canada or even David Gilmour. Despite the diversity of the blended tendencies, the album's tight integrity is yet a mystery to me.
Badalamenti's eerie suspended arpeggios from Golden demo 2 intertwined with the post-rock-ish The Original (both demos), the reckless Owlpacas in Flight mingled with the celestial and out of this world tunes of The North Sky, but especially the Gilmour-ish tracks ”Don't Leave”, the highlights of the album, all these styles enrich Red Shadow Landing in a particular way.

Why Red Shadow Landing? To give you a hint: Martin has an impressive collection on tumblr of space related images, scanned from magazines and books.