Friday, October 27, 2023

Cody Blanchard - HALLOWEEN EP VOL 1 (2020)

Here is an ode to Halloween from Shannon and The Clams guitarist/vocalist Cody Blanchard. It's a lean 2 songs, both covers, done with acoustic guitar and vocals. 

Blanchard's approach is perfect: taking upbeat, punk rock classics and conjuring each into a dark, cold folk song lead by his ghostly but beautiful falsetto. These covers are so good they might just become staples to your Halloween playlists for years and years to come. 

Released 3 years ago in the thick of the pandemic. Hopefully we will be getting a volume 2 sometime soon.

Featuring "I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement" by the Ramones and "Halloween" by The Misfits.

Cody Blanchard - HALLOWEEN EP VOL 1

Friday, May 26, 2023

Crimes - Good Hope (2011)

Late May is the time where I start to think about summer. Technically still spring, there are a few summer-esque things that occur in the next few weeks before the solstice. Honeysuckle will explode in the next two weeks, and with it the dizzyingly sweet fragrance. At the end of the first week of June, lightning bugs (or fireflies) will fill the evening trees with miniature constellations. 

This is also the time I inevitably start looking for my summer music. I don't know why summertime is associated with music... maybe almost probably (definitely) it has something to do with capitalism. But, like a parasite, capitalism lives in me and it feels natural to seek the summer record.

Good Hope is a good contender. Crimes from Minnesota, a 4 piece sharing the same lead singer of the phenomenal Loud Sun, recorded their debut LP Good Hope in 2011. It is reverb-laden, shimmering psych pop with a melodic and stoned vocal delivery that just makes me relaxed. These songs, much like those of Loud Sun, are like the "couch-lock" of music. Put it on and forget it's there, you'll realize 30 minutes later that you just came up for air and that you have been swimming, drowning in thought. 

You'll wonder where the time went. Their second release was written up by our old friend Elvis Dracula in his EP Grab Bag Vol. 32. Also an excellent release. 

If you live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, Crimes are playing a reunion show on June 3rd at Palmer's Bar.

Crimes - Good Hope


Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Past Lives - Tapestry of Webs (2010)


Growing up in a small city with limited resources for bands, one that was never included on anyone's tour schedule, was frustrating for a young me. Situated firmly between NYC and Philadelphia, you'd think that teenage me would have many options. 

Life wasn't like that, however.

Fast forward to my first experience living in a bigger city. My desire for live music was so pent up that every year I would bankrupt myself seeing live music. It was like a drug. I would get yearly bonuses that would all be dwindled 4 months, where I'd inevitably pull money from my retirement fund to cover rent. 

One of the bands I saw in this time was Past Lives. I was working with the bassist from The Thermals, who were opening, so I had the rare opportunity to see a show for free, and I loved The Thermals so win win. Then Past Lives takes the stage and within minutes my little mind was splattered all over the walls of the venue. 

Past Lives featured Jordan Blilie on vocals... a very recognizable voice in the music scene of the Pacific Northwest. I'd loved his earlier band The Blood Brothers, but didn't really follow Blilie's career or even know what he looked like. So immediately when he started singing I knew he was standing right in front of me. 

Tapestry of Webs is post-hardcore pushed up toward colorful melodicism and away from the dismal, grey vibes more indicative of the genre. The music is energetic and thrashing at times but also swings towards balladry. There's singing AND screaming. Guitars AND saxophone and... is that a clarinet or a bassoon in there? A wild, beautiful, inspired record that 13 years later is still giving newness to my ears. 

Past Lives - Tapestry of Webs

Thursday, April 27, 2023

ISS - (Endless Pussyfooting) (2017)


Innovation in music isn't something ubiquitous. Meaning, not everyone truly succeeds at innovation with their art. Creation in and of itself is not ground breaking. Rather, one must be cognizant of what has come before to recognize the manicured, well-trodden path that lies before them. 

Then, one must avoid the low hanging fruit and go their own way. 

This is what ISS does with their take on punk. It's clearly coming from punk roots but when adding drum machines, samples, and minimal instrumentation, it veers towards late 70's/early80's post-punk but with the tempo and tenacity of hardcore. 

The lyrics also tend to be quite hilarious. ISS aren't a joke band, they're not out for a laugh. But the lyrics for example in the song "I Hate People My Age" are crass and antisocial but in a way that I at least find amusing and relatable... decrying the idiocy of of "$15 dollar donuts" and how their generation has "thoughts on modern topics that are all garbage" ... not to leave out the refrain, "I hate people my age, my heart is pumping rage, and my stomach's turned to bile... I pray my peers all catch West Nile"

A little harsh maybe but keep in mind this is punk rock from North Carolina... a state that has no shortage of enraged punk (see this past post about one of the greatest hardcore bands who also happen to be from NC). 

ISS are beginning to catch on, with this record being the one that grabbed my attention first. Maybe you will enjoy them as much as I do. All their records are worth listening to and purchasing. 

ISS - (Endless Pussyfooting)

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Music for 4/20

420 is a dumb tradition in the United States that has to do with smoking marijuana. Every April 20th hundreds of thousands of college kids are making both dumb jokes and excuses to get blasted today. 

I used to be one of them, so I use the word "dumb" lovingly. 

Weed is a lot more accepted in the US today than it ever has been with stores selling it legally in several states. They are strange places, almost more like banks than, say, liquor stores. One does not browse at a weed store. The transaction is very business-like... almost cold. You wait in a line (or in some instances a waiting room) until it is your turn to order. You speak to a stoner (sometimes called a "budtender") who helps you find what you are looking for (weed, you are looking for weed). You get your wares and you GTFO. 

Anyway. Those days are behind me but no judgement if you took the day off to smoke a ton of weed and do whatever. May these records guide be your soundtrack.

Holy - All These Worlds Are Yours

Holy is from Stockholm, Sweden and they remind me of Tame Impala's Innerspeaker and Lonerism days. Swirling phased out drum fills and Beatles-esque vocals make this well-produced record one that I've returned to several times over the past several years.

Holy is solid, psychedelic indie rock. Also - a limited amount of vinyl remaining on this one.

2019 release on Punk Slime.

Dead Finks - The Death and Resurrection of Johnathan Cowboy 

Sometimes I gather so much music that I forget to listen to it. Popped this one on the jukebox the other night and boy howdy, a gripping rock record from a Berlin duo. Just straightforward punk that's more slightly more rock than punk to my ears but your experience may differ.

The chord changes are just slightly askew and I like how they double (triple? quadruple?) the vocal tracks. Will probably get this on vinyl.

For stoners who like IPAs with their bong hits.

Kadhja Bonet - Childqueen

Here's some gorgeous soul/jazz/r'n'b out of Los Angeles. I think it was during the initial phase of the pandemic that I went on a bit of a music buying spree and Kadhja Bonet was one that I bought several things from.

Chill music in case your mellow gets harshed. Track 4, Delphine, is at least worth 6 minutes of your day. Here's a great live performance of a song on a different release. 

Jogging House - Face

Another contribution from Germany. Here we have Jogging House from Frankfurt, which is the ambient project of one Boris Potschubay. Since getting into ambient music 3 years ago I've consistently enjoyed the music of Mr. Potschubay. The tones are warm and nostalgia inducing with touches of 8-bit grit. 

This is his most recent release under the Jogging House name. Good for zoning the eff out while doodling or whatever stoners do these days. I listen to it while doing chores on rainy Sunday mornings because like I've said before... I'm old now.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

The Molds - Saltine (2018)

One of the most interesting things about Bandcamp is that it's truly a website for everyone: big names but there music on there of course, but so does the everyday person who records music but holds a completely different day job.

The Molds is the monicker that a guy named Matt Ojala uses to write and record rock music somewhere between Seattle and NYC (and maybe Charleston, SC) when he's not working in project development. 

The tracks are pretty lo-fi but punchy and loud. It's kinda punk and it's kinda throttling indie rock. The rhythms are strange... not in a time signature kind of way but in a "why is he hitting the snare drum there" kind of way. Try bobbing your head along to the rhythm. It's like being on an old wooden roller coaster all works but in a jerky sort of way. 

Impressively good music from an obvious talent who ALSO just so happens to also develop affordable housing communities. Makes me wonder what the hell I'm doing with my life.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Mid-Air Thief - Crumbling (2018)


Here's a record that was, from what I understand, fairly huge in South Korea but is much less ubiquitous in the US. 

This is an electronic pop album, or folktronica as their Wiki page states but that's a word that makes me want to barf. Showing my age, I guess. If the blending of acoustic instruments with electronic instruments makes something folktronica, the description is apt, however reductive. 

The gorgeous melodies of this album, in the exchange between girl/boy vocals, and the playfulness of the dynamics.. the parts of the album that whisper and then swell into a prism of sound.. these are the things that earned this record Best Dance and Electronic Album of the Year at the 2019 Korean Music Awards (there's really no element of dance here, however). 

The acoustic bits, and the rhythms in part, are actually quite Brazilian. I'm not well versed in the genres of Brazil but I think I'm correct in saying this album is part electronica and part bossa nova. Maybe not throughout the entirety of Crumbling but it's definitely there. 

I stumbled on this album exactly one year ago and over the year, it's been my happy place. It got me through a bout with Covid, through hot summer road trips, and eased my anxious mind to a restful place. 


Mid-Air Thief - Crumbling

Friday, April 14, 2023

Truly - Fast Stories... from Kid Coma (1995)


 A lot of people have strong opinions about the word "grunge". It's divisive because its one of the few music genres that doesn't have have definable sound. Pearl Jam and Tad are about as different as Jimi Hendrix and Judas Priest, but they both receive the label "grunge". 

The progenitors of the genre are nearly all from Washington state, and in fact grunge was also referred to as "The Seattle Sound", but if one uses that as a metric then both L7 and Stone Temple Pilots don't get included, which would upset many to the point of pitchforks and torches. Another interesting thing about the genre, if that's what we're calling it, is that none of the people credited with it wanted any ownership of the word. Punk bands proudly call themselves such. Not the case with grunge.

Whether they liked the term or not, Truly was a band from Seattle that no one in their right mind would debate calling grunge. For starters, the rhythm section features founding members of both Soundgarden (Hiro Yamamoto) and The Screaming Trees (Mark Pickerel), 2 of grunge's biggest bands. 

Frontman Robert Roth, the least known member, was actually very well known in Seattle's grunge community of the early 1990s. He was considered to join Nirvana when the band began seeking a second guitarist. Roth's voice actually brings to min
d Kurt Cobain during his most somber moments, and the nasal screeching of Mark Arm from Mudhoney when he screams. His guitar sound is incredibly dense and distorted but without sacrificing melody. Where Truly TRULY stands out is their incorporation of 60's sounds and song styles. "If You Don't Let It Die" almost sounds like The Kinks if they'd been a strung-out Seattle band in the 90s. A Rhodes piano featured on "Angelhead" lends a Doors-esque quality to the song's stoned feeling, not to leave out the use of a mellotron in the song's chorus, harkening to "Strawberry Fields Forever" (Roth would later earn mellotron credits on Built To Spill's Perfect From Now On).

Make no mistake however. While the songs on "Fast Stories... from Kid Coma" all have a psychedelic 60's vibe, the bulk of the sound is firmly rooted in punchy distorted rock music more akin to plaid shirts than paisley bellbottoms. This was producer Adam Kasper's first produced record... his other credits include heavier bands like Soundgarden and Queens of the Stone Age... and he would later go on to winning a grammy for Foo Fighters "There Is Nothing Else to Lose".

This album has been described as grunge music's lost masterpiece. It has also been called grunge's swan song. While it was released to critical acclaim, it seems like it should have been bigger. That said it is almost too weird for what MTV was selling at the time: the tides were shifting away from grunge and toward pop punk and grunge-lite bands like Silverchair. Truly was too dark and heavy for a world still hurting from the death of Kurt Cobain. But in retrospect, this album deserves to be listened to and talked about by those still interested in whatever grunge is (or was). It is a fantastic sounding record that feels like the 1990s. They say the 1990s are back... which is maybe true but you never hear bands like Truly anymore.

Truly - Fast Stories... from Kid Coma

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Easter Weekend Music for the Whole Family (aka your audio escape from family)


G.L.O.S.S. - Demo

Girls Living Outside Society's Shit, or G.L.O.S.S. were a band from Olympia, WA that were absolutely fantastic. With all the current transphobic bullshit plaguing the US, it seemed only appropriate to post the first release by this trans-feminist hardcore punk band.

G.L.O.S.S. are no longer around but their impact and legacy will last generations, I'd wager. Especially as this nation moves in it's typical clunky and violent way towards acceptance. Just have to wait around for these old generation fascists to push up their daisies. 

This EP has 5 songs and all are under 2 minutes long. It's a very brutal release that gets the blood pumping. Perfect music to blast at your redneck neighbors while during their next confederate cook-out. 

Dolores - Peach Fuzz

Hailing from Madison, Wisconsin, the band Dolores caught my ears a few years ago despite their kinda terrible album art. The music is kind of a pristine, yacht rock meets psych-pop experience that is uniquely catchy. I mean it's like, mind-altering how catchy it is... it's weird. I'm not sure how to describe it honestly. 

It's maybe a little hokey... corny even. But there's serious talent at play. Singer Javier Reyes voice has such a clean tone he might as well be a '66 Fender Jaguar in human form. Since this band broke up, his talents have moved east to join another psych-pop yacht rock group out of Chicago called Post Animal, who are also definitely worth your attention.

Boise Cover Band - Unoriginal Artists

Here's a release that has been around for awhile but I only recently learned about it. 

Boise Cover Band is the band Built To Spill who decided to release some covers back in 2003. It's 7 songs and a nice little thing to hear. Built To Spill are one of those bands I could always listen to so to hear them perform a version of David Bowie's Ashes To Ashes, arguably my favorite Bowie song, is a treat. 

Both a Pretenders and a Captain Beefheart cover to boot. 

Not going to be your favorite thing Built To Spill ever did, but it's fun and maybe something you haven't heard. Also available on vinyl, if that's your thing.

Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru - Self-titled

Maybe Easter weekend is a shitshow for you. Maybe you're at the in-laws with your sister-in-law's husband whose a total energy vampire and bigot prick but everyone else loves him so you have to play nice. 

Well escape yourself to a bathroom immediately and take a dip into the soothing piano music of this Ethiopian nun whose original compositions are as relaxing as an unseasonably warm spring day... which have been in relative abundance out here in the wilds of central New Jersey (it DOES exist). 

Ms. Gebru recently passed away in late March at the age of 99, so she made it past the equinox with us. This is her spring. 

Friday, March 31, 2023

Music For Your Weekend


Nüshu - Sexe Étranger

Some of my favorite music over the past 10 years has come from the Montreal. It's to the point that, if I'm browsing music websites and I see a band from Montreal, I will drop everything to listen to them. 

I mean literally. My dinner will burn. My dog won't get walked. My son will go hungry. So of course, when I saw Nüshu's Sexe Étranger some through the pipeline, my family ate charred pizza that night. 

This release is wonderfully produced, the songs are unconventional rock in the best way, and I listened to the whole thing from start to finish several times this week. Maybe they will cast a similar spell on you.

Kendra Morris - Nine Lives I'm equally a sucker for modern soul. Kendra Morris is from New York City by way of Florida, but she sounds like she's from 1960's Detroit. 

Soulful, funky jams lay the foundation over Kendra's smooth and sultry vocals. It brings to mind other soul revivalists of recent such as Adrian Younge, Nicole Willis, and Daptone label artists. 

Ms. Morris is not a new-comer by any means, with an impressive list of collaborators including DJ Premier, MF Doom, and Ghostface Killah, she is both a seasoned musician and filmmaker to boot. She does great music videos, check out the awesome animation she did for this MF Doom/Czarface video.

Datach'i - Bones

One of the things I want to accomplish with these "music dumps", as the kids call them, is to explore other genres perhaps less familiar to typical Spacerockmountain fare. 

While rock music is my love, I've flirted heavily with electronic music in my day. Love me some Plaid, Venetian Snares, and Aphex Twin. Those are basically the only electronic groups I know. 

Luckily for me, this release by LA-based electronic artist Datach'i brings all those three references to mind. There's something truly beautiful about this record... melodically it's pretty obvious... but I also enjoyed reading about how it's a tribute of sorts to his recently departed father. Immediately engaging. 

Shitty Life - Limits To Growth

There are certain things that will grab my attention when looking through the vast ocean of music that is Bandcamp. One thing that will always catch my attention is album artwork that's clearly the insert for a cassette tape release. Music therein will be worth my time, nearly 75% of the time. The other is profanity. 

I cannot help it. Arrested development is not just a funny TV show, it's something that happened to me in my youth. Poop jokes never have fallen out of fashion for me, unfortunately for my wife. 

This is just a great Italian punk band that I have no notes for. The music is catchy and hard without the trappings of that pop punk schlock. 10/10.