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.