Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Vol. 5 Episode 5.5

Graveface Roadshow at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis MN on 2-25-2014.

I got tickets to this show, like I always do, early. I was very excited to see The Stargazer Lilies but disappointed that Dott was not going to be a part of the line up until after this show. I would have loved to have seen them too.

We got to the venue with just enough time to check out the merchandise booth just as Dreamend started their set. I looked through the music that was for sale but found nothing that I needed. There were a few items that I had interest in but had not listened to the music enough to say that I wanted to buy it. I could always get it later from the Graveface web page. There were about 50 people or less. It was cold out but I also hoped that there would have been more people at the show. It is too bad that there were not. I really want Graveface to succeed.

The bands that were on the bill for the show were Dreamend, The Stargazer Lilies, Grandma’s Boyfriend and The Casket Girls. Dreamend had a short set and consisted of a drummer that was used in not only this band but also for The Stargazer Lilies and The Casket Girls, a bassist who was also the guitarist for The Stargazer Lilies and played bass for a song with The Casket Girls and Jason Graveface on lead vocals and guitar. The sound of this group smacked of The Marshmallow Ghosts but with out the Halloween theme. This is probably because it is basically the same band. I think that Dreamend is missing something without that theme though.

The Stargazer Lilies were up next. The group consisted of the basist, on the guitar (J Cep), and the drummer from Dreamend, along with K Field on bass and lead vocals. I find it amazing that they can make such dreamy sounds with just the guitar, bass and drums. They played a 40 minute set with eight songs. I was a little disappointed that there was no echo on the vocals. They came off kind of flat with out that extra sound. It also seemed like K Field couldn’t hear herself in the monitor very well because she was off pitch frequently in the songs. I know that she can sing because the record sounds fantastic. putting that one issue aside that set was great and I am happy to have been there to see them play. I wish that there was a single that was put out because I would have had them sign one. I hate bringing a 12” sleeve because they are so big. There wasn’t any music from them for sale or I would have thought about buying another copy really.

The third band in the show was called Grandma’s Boyfriend. They were a cross between Devo and Blondie. They were so much fun! They were pop and new wave and punk all rolled into one. I think that it is the worst band name but one of the most fun bands that I have ever had the privilege to hear. I would totally go and see them again if they came back to the twin cities. They are a five piece group with a female vocalist. There is no synth in the group but they were able to make sounds with guitars that come off as synth. I always find that to be such a cool sound. The vocalist danced around the small stage like she was in the crowd but knew the songs well enough that she got to the mic in time to keep singing. It was awesome. I think they were the best group on the bill that night.

Last was The Casket Girls. I have heard music from this group on the internet in the past and didn’t really think much of them. The band consists of Jason Graveface on keyboards and back up vocals, the drummer from Dreamend and Elsa and Phaedra Greene (sisters) on lead vocals. The music that was played was OK but it was very distracting that the girls couldn’t stay in tune or together. This didn’t help the fact that I wanted to be won over and be shown that I was wrong about what they sounded like based on the music that I had heard on the internet. It is to bad that I was right and I will never be interested in any thing that they put out.

It was still a great time at the show. Thanks to Jason and all of the bands that were a part of the show; Dreamend, The Stargazer Lilies, Grandma’s Boyfriend and The Casket Girls for playing and for The Triple Rock Social Club for having them.

The Stargazer Lilies set list:
Don’t Waist My Time
Sad Colored Tears
We Are The Dreamers
Endless Days
Sunday Is Monday At Midnight
How We Lost
Well Versed to Verb Doubt

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Vol. 5 Episode 5

This past weekend De La Soul gave away their entire back catalog digitally for free. All of their standard albums and a set of instrumentals, B sides and rarities were put out with this special Valentines day release. I think it comes out to eight or ten albums total.

If you preordered the best of My Chemical Romance album the single from the album has been put out. You can get it for free if you preordered it or you can get it from your favorite MP3 distributor.

Beck has also put out the third single from his album along with being able to listen to the album in advance at NPR First Listen. The third single is called Wave.

The Graveface Road Show has encountered a problem with a car accident last week. I am still hoping that they will be here for the Minneapolis date next week. I am assuming it is still on as there hasn’t been any cancellation info yet.

Here we go...

This is a three track 7” EP that Slumberland Records released in 1992. I found out about the release last week when the record company posted about the release in recognition of their 25 year anniversary. I found that the release was still in stock at Slumberland so I bought one. I have been a big fan of Slumberland ever since I found out that they were the company that was releasing the music for The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. I have found so many other artists that I like through this record company.

The first song is called Till Another Time. The song start off with a brief intro that sounds dark and electronic. It then moves on to fuzzy guitars and soaring synth parts. The vocals are perfect and sound like she is standing in the mouth of a cave. It is a very cool sound indeed.

The second track is called I Just Had To. This one also starts off with a electronic intro but sounds more like a cheap Casio loop. The guitar then comes in with a nice jangle pop sound along with a straight forward bass guitar sound. The vocals still sound like she is standing in the entrance of a cave though. The song reminds me of a trashier version of a song that The Smiths did called Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want.

The last song on the EP is called In This. This track continues with the jangle pop theme. What really gets me with this track is the use of two different sounding tambourines that are played alternating sounds all the way through the song. The vocals on this one seem a bit more close up. There is still a bit of echo but not as much as the other two tracks.

This is a very cool EP that I wish I had known about when it was released. As a side note, it was released in a cool dark blue swirl but that was not in stock twenty plus years later.

This is a new, to me, group that was started in Minnesota. This is actually their seventh album. I found out about the group from my mother-in-law. She works with one of the members of the groups mother, I think. I was given the CD for free quite a while ago. I sat on the album for quite a while because I don’t usually like what my mother-in-law likes musically and she really liked this album. I finally listened to the album and it impressed me a lot. This is what I know about the group from their facebook page, “Minneapolis-based rock band cathy Crescendo centers around the dynamic vocals of Jacob Champlin and the unique production/engineering of Adam Kiesling. Their latest release “Expensive Ink” is their 7th album as a partnership. Their sound has progressed from a somewhat quirky folk project along the vein of Death Cab for Cutie and The Decemberists, to its current sound which has been frequently compared to Brand New, Jimmy Eat World and Taking Back Sunday.

Much like the evolution of artists like Pedro the Lion/David Bazan or Manchester Orchestra, cC explores the complexity of departing from one’s faith in a gripping and identifiable way that people of all backgrounds can relate to. Champlin spent his early 20's as a worship leader for a large church until he was asked to step down for asking disruptive questions; it was this that led him to question his faith. That struggle was made more difficult when he was diagnosed with serious vocal cord damage that made singing nearly impossible. After several surgeries and 3 years of recovery, Champlin emerged with his most ambitious material to date. “Expensive Ink” is a rock album you will want to add to your collection.”

The album is ten tracks of questioning ones faith with songs about the Father/”my father”, unfinished buildings and flight to name a few ideas on the album. The album has a very cohesive sound. That sound is reminiscent of the early emo sound from the late 90s. I really like that sound. I wasn’t an “emo kid” but I liked the music that was made that falls into that genre.

I have no idea where to get this album except maybe at a local Minnesota record store like Cheapo, The Electric Fetus or Down In The Valley possibly.

This is the debut album from Rockwell. It was released in 1984 on Motown Records. I picked up this record recently at one of the half priced books that I frequent. The record was in good condition so I bought it along with a few others.

There were two singles released from this album. The first one is called Somebody’s Watching Me. This was a big hit and I remember watching the video on MTV as a kid. I thought the song was so cool. I, along with every other American at the time, thought it was so cool that Michael Jackson helped out on the songs chorus. This song has always been on my mind and I have been looking for the album for a while.

The second single from the album is called Obscene PhoneCaller. This song was nowhere near as strong of a hit as his first single. It comes off as very cheesy but that is what I would expect from a single from 1984.

This is the second album from Lisa Lisa And Cult Jam. The album was released in 1987. This was their biggest hit record because of the first two singles. The second of these two singles has been on my mind since its release and I finely found a copy of this album this past week (It was one of the few others).

There were five singles released from this album. The first is called Head To Toe.  The song is classic late 80s synth pop. Lisa sings that she loves someone from head to toe. It is a sweet song with easy to translate meanings. The song is completely dated because of the electronic sounds used but I don’t think I would have it any other way.

The second single from the album is called Lost In Emotion. This song was the most musical for me. It is smooth flowing and uses soft vocals overall. one of the members of the band had this to say about the song (Pulled from Wikipedia), “Full Force member Lou George describes Lost in Emotion as a combination of two Mary Wells' hits: Two Lovers and You Beat Me to the Punch, an idea which occurred to George as the result of his playing Wells' Greatest Hits album on which Two Lovers and You Beat Me to the Punch were sequential tracks. George - "We didn't steal the riffs: all we did was get the flavoring...We [used] a xylophone and some bells because back in the Motown days they always used those simple instruments."”

The third single from the album is called Someone To Love MeFor Me. It is true old school slow and sappy. A lot of people love this style of music. I didn’t even like it when Michael Jackson did these type of songs. These songs just don’t move me at all.

The next single is called Everything Will B-Fine. It is a more peppier song than the previous single but is very dated with the staccato synth bass line, the guitar sound and the use of broken samples. It is a good song but doesn’t have that number one smash hit single sound that the first two had.

The last single is called I Promise You. This is a fun track musically than the previous two in my opinion. The drum beat is what makes the track work. I could see this song as a single but it is just not musically as beautiful as the first two releases again.

Overall, this is a fun album that doesn’t get enough play because it is so dated. I do recommend this album as it is good and has a couple of great singles.

This is the first album from Cutting Crew. It was released in 1986. The album had one single that was just huge all over the world but there were four singles total on the album.

The first single is called (I Just) Died In Your Arms. This is the song that meant the most to me. It is, of course, about a guy that fell in love with a girl because of a kiss that they had on a date, or something like that. Although the song uses heavy synth sounds the song doesn’t seem to be dated to my ear. This may be because there are still a lot of bands and musicians that still use that classic synth sound the way that it is used here on this song. The guitar sound that is used over the synth part is a very classic 80s sound that bands are still using today making this song not only a classic but still relevant today.

The second single from the album is called One For TheMockingbird. This track comes off a bit more dated with the use of a very 80s synth sound that was not so sought after when the 90s arrived. The chorus didn’t really translate well either. No one understood what “One for the mockingbird” meant. At least I didn’t and, since the song didn’t chart well, I can only assume that a lot of other people didn’t either.

The third single from the album is called I’ve Been In LoveBefore. This is a song that I had forgotten about. This is a slow and sappy song that I actually like. There is something about the vocals and the music work together. It may also be that I had a break up with a girl in middle school combined with my own depression growing up that was never treated. The song has come to mean a lot but I only seem to remember this when I hear the song. I guess it brings back good memories and bad memories, bittersweet.

The last single is called Any Colour. This song fits their style but doesn’t hit that amazing single sound. It was like a filler song was put out as a single to get people to buy the album. The song gets to be very repetitive and I very nearly want to just turn it off.

The album is very good overall but the two songs really make the album.
That is all for now...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Vol. 5 Episode 4

Radiohead have a new app out based on The King of Limbs ideas.

This is Slumberland Records 25th year. They will be highlighting records released through them every few days. Yesterday was Linda Smith - Till Another Time. I ordered a copy of this EP. The single I heard was very jangle pop sounding. I am excited to hear the other tracks on the EP.

Here We Go...

This is the fifth album from Daryl Hall & John Oates, A.K.A. Hall & Oates. The album was released in 1976. This album marked the first in a series of number one hits for the group with the song Rich Girl.

The first single from the album is called Do What You Want,Be What You Are. The song is a slow R&B track that didn’t even crack the top 40 charts. It is a good song but didn’t have the pop sound that the public was craving for.

The second single was Rich Girl. This track isn’t much faster than the first single but there was something special about this track.

From Wikipedia about the song, “The song's lyrics are about a spoiled girl who can rely on her parents' money to do whatever she wants. The song was rumored to be about the then-scandalous newspaper heiress Patty Hearst. In fact, the title character in the song is based on a spoiled heir to a fast-food chain who was an ex-boyfriend of Daryl Hall's girlfriend, Sara Allen. "But you can't write, 'You're a rich boy' in a song, so I changed it to a girl," Hall told Rolling Stone.
Hall elaborated on the song in an interview with American Songwriter:
"Rich Girl" was written about an old boyfriend of Sara [Allen]'s from college that she was still friends with at the time. His name is Victor Walker. He came to our apartment, and he was acting sort of strange. His father was quite rich. I think he was involved with some kind of a fast-food chain. I said, "This guy is out of his mind, but he doesn't have to worry about it because his father's gonna bail him out of any problems he gets in." So I sat down and wrote that chorus. [Sings] "He can rely on the old man's money/he can rely on the old man's money/he's a rich guy." I thought that didn't sound right, so I changed it to "Rich Girl". He knows the song was written about him.

This is the self titled debut album from Christopher Cross. The album was released in 1979. It has been noted as one of the most influential soft rock albums of the early 80s. The album actually beat out Pink Floyds’ The Wall for album of the year in 1981.

The first single from the album is called Ride Like TheWind. This is a classic soft rock/synth pop track that makes me want to get down and boogie. It is not disco but it has that style of dance feel.

The second single, Sailing, has become a classic as well but strictly as a soft rock track. The song is slow but the vocals are what make this track. The tone and timbre of Christopher's’ voice is just magical.

The third single from the album is called Never Be The Same. This song was not as popular as the previous two songs but used the same sounds. It is a good song but not as good as the previous to singles in my opinion. It did reach 15 in the top 40 charts though so it was a popular song.

The fourth single is called Say You'll Be Mine. This is also a good song but didn’t seem to do as well in the charts. It doesn’t have that groove that makes you want to listen to the song over and over.

The album is great if you want to hear some soft rock or adult contemporary as the classification of soft rock has now become to be called.

This is a UK only 7” single released in 2010. I am a little disappointed that the single wasn’t released on vinyl or CD here in the US. I am also a little let down that there hasn’t bee a physical single released for the new album yet and there has been a second single put out just this week.

The A side of the single is The Ghost Inside. The single reached 22 in the US Alternative charts. Why they still call it the alternative charts is a mystery to me. The song is very good and makes use of very cool synth and guitar sounds. The lyrics are a bit depressing but the music is so good it is easy to overlook the lyrics.

The B side of the record, Meyrin Fields, ended up being the title track for the Meyrin Fields EP. I talked about this EP in Vol. 2 Episode 17. Obviously the comments that I made about the EP have changed as I have not only purchased This single but I have also purchased both albums, the EP and the two physical versions of the singles that have been released. I decided that, with the release of a second album, I could get all of the previous releases and have a full collection of their work.

That is all I have for this week...

Friday, February 7, 2014

Vol. 5 Episode 3

Just got in the limited (300 pressings) 7” from Veronica Falls. This is the release that was supposed to be put out in December. It finally got to my house on the 4th of February. It is a very simple release. the sleeve is a black & white photo copied 14” by 14” sheet folded down to 7” by 7” to fit in a 7” outer sleeve with the record in a paper sleeve inside of the poster. There is also a stamp in red ink on the back of the poster with a hand written number on the back out of 300. I have the download so I don’t really need to play the record but wanted you all to know that they are coming in the mail now.

Slumberland has now got the preorders up for the repressing of the Tony Molina album on red vinyl and the preorders are up for the Withered Hand album. The withered hand album will be pressed on gold and brown swirl. There is also a bundle you can get of the Withered Hand first and second albums together.

Beck has put out a second single from the upcoming album called Waking Light.

I also found out that there is a single for the song Horseshoe on the new Withered Hand album out on Fortuna Pop! If you can find one it is on Gold vinyl.

Here we go...

This is the second album from the duo known as Broken Bells. The album was released this week on the 4th of February. The first single from the album was released in November of 2013, although, I didn’t hear the song until the end of December. I think it took a few listens before I decided that I liked the track. I think that this will be the way with the whole album. I have listened to the album one time through. I really like the single but there are some cheesy sounds that are being used on some of the songs. The first track, Perfect World, for example, uses what sounds like a cheap Casio synthesized trumpet sound. I have never been a fan of that sound as it is so fake I can taste it. I think that the album will get better with time like most Radiohead albums.

The first single, Holding On For life, has a good beat. This was really expected though with Danger Mouse doing the programming. The bass guitar has a very smooth picked style almost like that of Stereolab. There is also a synth sound that was used quite a bit in the 80s synth pop sound. It is really a sound that I have missed honestly. This is what needed to grow on me. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that sound to be brought back. I have realized that I missed that sound and am happy for it to have returned. The guitars are typical for this type of music right now. It is not watered down, it is just there to support the music.

I am excited to hear what other songs will be released from this album as singles. I am also excited to see if there will be any physical singles released. So far, no 7” singles from this album yet.

This is a collection of B side tracks, live tracks and acoustic tracks that were originally released on 7” singles. There was also a box set of these singles released on nine 7” records in a wood box if you’re interested in that. This is the easiest way to get these B sides though. I am not usually interested in live and acoustic tracks but I really like what they did with the Hold You Up 10” that was released for Record Store Day Black Friday 2012.  After listening to the album I was a little disappointed. I really like the melody that was on the three songs for the Hold You Up record but I found that this record was just not exactly what I wanted to hear from the group. It comes of as just noise in most songs. To play an acoustic fast just doesn’t always sound good.

The track that I have not heard in the past was good though. That track is called She Loves You. The song is a slower song but is very melodic. It kind of reminds me of something that could have been from The 59 Sound but is way to slow to have fit on the album. I am happy to have the song though.

I also kind of liked the cover of the Pearl Jam track, Stateof Love And Trust. The style of the vocals sung on this cover sort of floats between Eddy Vedders’ vocal style and Brian Fallon (the lead singer for The Gaslight Anthem). I am a fan of the older Pearl Jam music so this song keeps my interest.

There are five cover songs on this album, some are live and some are acoustic. Six of the tracks on the album are acoustic tracks. One of the tracks were recorded live (the Pearl Jam cover). That leaves four tracks that were recorded in a studio of some kind. This is an easy way to get all of those B side tracks that you missed out on when the single were originally released.

This was just released. The record company, Windian Records, still has the single listed as pre-order, it is so new. Both of the tracks on this single can be found on The Ar-kaics self released cassette. I bought it because I want to support this band. They have a retro 60s sound brought current.

The A Side, Why Should I?, continues in the complete 60s garage rock style and simplicity. It is a fun rockin song that smacks of early Beatles tracks. It is a song that is very easy to get along with.

The B side, Slave To Her Lies, follows in that 60s garage rock style but this one comes off as more Rolling Stones this time. It is very interesting how they take classic sounds and make them their own.

I believe there is going to be one more 7” single before the album will be released. Windian Records is having some troubles at the moment though so timing could be an issue. If you want to hear the songs head over to the bands' bandcamp page.

That is all I have for now...

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Vol. 5 Episode 2

There is an EP of unreleased Nine Inch Nails remixes scheduled for release next week. The music is from The Downward Spiral era. One of the tracks is the remix of Closer that was used in the credits for the movie Seven.

here we go...

With the new album coming out from Broken Bells, I decided to look into what else they had put out for the first album. I found this single in that search. I had already had the single as a free download and had the album that the song came from on CD but was interested in getting the B side as it was unique to the 7” record. There is an insert in the sleeve for a free download of the two tracks but there was a time limit to getting that download. I typed in the link on the sheet and found that the page didn’t exist any longer. This was the lead single for the self titled album. The single was released in late 2009. For what ever reason, it was listed in the UK as a limited pressing of 500. I am not aware of that limitation here in the US. On some copies there was a blue promo sticker that listed the band name and the two members of the band, James Mercer and Danger Mouse, and the original release date of the first album.

The A side of the record is for The High Road. The song is a moderate rocker. The song has a very solid drum beat that has become Danger Mouses’ signature style. I would love to emulate his style in my own music. It is just so simple but complex at the same time.

The B side of the record is called An Easy Life(Instrumental). This is a song that I recognize because the original song is on the Meyrin Fields EP. This is interesting to me because the EP was released well after the self titled album was released. This produces sort of a quandary for me because if the instrumental version was released before the EP then should I have heard this version first and what type of a spin would that have put on me as to how I would have received the EP. Either way it is a wash I guess because I have heard the songs in the order that I heard them and cant stop it now.

 This is the first release from Violens. It is also their first EP. It was released in 2009 on CD and limited to 1000 copies. It is only four tracks long. This is a piece that works tward filling out my collection of music from the group. I found out about the group through the release of their second album, True, when it was released on Slumberland Records. I liked what they put out so much that I bought the supporting singles for True and vowed that I would get more music from them in the future. This EP is the first piece that I have gotten from before the release of True.

The first song is called Already Over. It start off with acoustic guitar and drums. The song sounds more like Eggstone than anything off of True. I like this track a lot because I like Eggstone so much and they haven’t put anything out in over ten years. Although they [Eggstone] did produce a song for April March on the album Triggers.

The second track is called Spectator & Pupil. This track continues with the sound of Eggstone. The tracks here are not quite as well produced as the Eggstone music but still gives me the warm feeling that Eggstone did.

The third track is called Doom. This is actually a very playful track and surprises me because of the name of the track. This track still follows in that Eggstone styled sound that I like a lot. It almost digs down into The Monkeys style of playful fun music.

The last track is called Violent Sensation Descends. This track has an eerie note about it and gives a slight inkling about where the band would be going in the future. It still retains elements of the Eggstone sound that I like from this EP though.

This is the third album from The Prodigy. It was released in 1997. They are an electronic rock group and broke through to mainstream with the release of this album and support of its singles. There was some controversy with the third single regarding the title and chorus of the song. The album is in the list of albums that comprise the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. I am not sure where it lies in that list but it is there.

The first single from the album is called Firestarter. This was the groups first number one single. The title and lyrics were subject of controversy in the UK because of their violent nature. The music video further boosted these controversies. The song was all over the radio I remember. I thought it was cool but didn’t quite appeal to me. I tried to stay away from music that was controversial just to be controversial, so I left it be until just reciently.

The second single from the album is called Breathe. This song had my interest more so than either of the other two singles. It had more weight on the music than on the vocals and that was why I was more interested in this track. It was difficult to understand what the lead singer was saying so it became more of an instrument in my head. The vocals are very distorted in an analog way and the distortion on the guitar sounded very cool next to the vocals. The bass sounds like a synth keyboard with its own kind of distortion on it. All this distortion just seems to work well together.

The last single released from the album is called Smack MyBitch Up.  From Wikipedia, “The lyrics "Change my pitch up / Smack my bitch up" are repeated through the whole song. The band defended the song, saying that the lyrics were being misinterpreted as misogynistic and the song actually meant "...doing anything intensely..." The song led to a publicized disagreement at the 1998 Reading festival after the Beastie Boys asked the group not to play the track. The vocals are sampled and altered from the Ultramagnetic MCs song "Give the Drummer Some". The original lyrics, performed by rapper Kool Keith, are: "Switch up change my pitch up" / "Smack my bitch up, like a pimp,...".”

This is a great electronic album that should be heard as it is incredibly interesting although heavily electronic.

That is all I have for this week...