Review

åmßêrVVåvê§ - "Organics"

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 åmßêrVVåvê§ - "Organics"

(Power_Lunch Corporation) 

 Lush beats, natural sounds, and smooth synths swirl together in a refreshing concoction of electronic bliss. Enter a world where vibrant landscapes are lit with gentle sunsets, and twilight brings an incandescent energy powered by earth magic.

Born in clear, focused vaporwave, Organics is a lo-fi burner that delivers a surprisingly meditative energy - through peaceful audio imagery from another realm. In the track, Secret Garden, a soft synth pad backed by bird calls forms the foundation on which a repeating melody plays, on Photosynthetic, a simple, looping rhythm and a pair of reverb-enriched triplets repeat a call and response, and Tranquility brings us a nightscape with crickets and gently undulating sounds that evoke cool forests and placid waters.

Organics neatly fits in a much needed role as a soothing balm of electronic serenity that listeners will find themselves returning to for repeat plays.

Gray Lee

https://powerlunch.bandcamp.com/album/organics 

BUNNY & THE INVALID SINGERS - "Fear of the Horizon"

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Bunny & The Invalid Singers - "Fear of the Horizon"

(Bearsuit Records) 

Dense compositions and off-center eccentricities characterize this electro sleeper-pop from UK weirdo group Bunny, listed here as Bunny & The Invalid Singers. 

This record hits hard and fast right away with a thick atmosphere of oddity, blending recorded and synthesized instruments that play off of each other in strange ways. Imagine an independent film about the cannibals next door. These cannibals would have intense philosophical discussions while cooking their human foods. And delightfully weird tracks like The Positive Approach of Talkative Ron would add just the right amount of grizzly, unpredictable circus waltz, infused with synth accents.

There are vocalizations in here every now and then, but not much lyrics. Largely instrumental, moody pieces that evoke various sensations of lonliness, abandon, or madness. And while certainly telling the story with a whimsical, wry smile, the story still has plenty of solid moments of real expression and artistry. 

This is one that I really had to dig into and listen to several times to get a read on, but there was no time wasted. There is a genuine power in the complex musical textures presented in each of these tracks.  Take yourself on an odball ear journey today with Fear of the Horizon

Gray Lee

 

https://bearsuitrecords.bandcamp.com/album/fear-of-the-horizon

ll nøthing ll - "Therapy Session"

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  ll nøthing ll - "Therapy Session"

(Mt. Fujifilm Softworks) 

It's a lovely afternoon in the future. A couple of surface scavengers in sun protection suits sift through the rubble of scorched earth to find cultural artifacts from a bygone age. One of the scavengers carefully moves a pile of rubble, uncovering a bundle of tapes.

These tapea are one of the last remaining clues from the civilization that came before. The scavengers hurry back to the subterranean city to examine this landmark find. 

Each tape is marked as an audio journal. The team gathers around the ancient tape machine as funky pop music begins to fill the air. You can hear these lost whispers from long ago on this release from ll nøthing ll.

Classic experiments in vaporwave thump and bump in their crush-converted 16kbs glory. ll nøthing ll blends excellent sample curation and production, with acute knowledge of the format to acheive optimum waves. It's a low down jam perfect for those mind cleansing moments alone, contemplating the path of the universe. Available in digital and floppy formats. 

Gray Lee

Original release: 

 https://llnothingll.bandcamp.com/album/therapy-session

Floppy release: 

 https://mtfujifilm.bandcamp.com/album/therapy-session

 

DOT DASH - "Proto Retro"

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Dot Dash - "Proto Retro"

(The Beautiful Music)

Clean edge harmonies and jangly irreverence characterize this sixth album from Washington, D.C. band Dot Dash. Proto Retro is a fitting title, as this is a now band, pulling from then sounds to create an anachronistic new work that celebrates life, love, and bad boy sugar nonsense in an almost cherubic, innocent way.

Electric guitars jangle through each chord change to create progressions that could easily be the theme music for any 90s sitcom. Overstylized lyrics that always go for the obvious rhyme, backed by ooohs and aaahs lend to the classic feel. The band stays in character throughout the release, slinging background keyboards and fuzzy lead guitars at the listener with a powerful consistency that never drops the veil.

Proto Retro is perfect for mild rebellion, slight disobedience, and youthful excursions to the mall with friends, delivering a polished, east coast rendition of that intangible Burger Records sound. This collection of anthemic two-minute gems can effortlessly fill out any feel good playlist or party mixtape.

Gray Lee  

https://dotdashdc.bandcamp.com/album/proto-retro-2

RECLUSE RACCOON - "Recluse Racoon"

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Recluse Raccoon - "Recluse Racoon"

(Citrus City Records) 

Richmond, VA band Recluse Raccoon brings together classic styling, modern sensibilities, and jazzy outsider art rock to create deeply satisfying Americana folk pop in their self-titled debut release.

Catchy bass lines underscore clever writing on tracks like  On a Wire, where a swelling bridge gives way to the picked out guitar, piano and tight harmonies of What You Are - a song that is so beautiful that it betrays the bring-you-down lyrics hidden in soaring harmonized bliss and orchestrated asides.

"You've got me bored/ 

No matter what you are/ 

I'm gonna let you down/ 

You're gonna let me down/

Lay on the ground"

Each track is a quick vignette of life delicately rendered with vocalist Timmy Peele's iconic voice, tight rhythms from percussionist Austin Tekamp and memorable lines from bassist Andrew Murray. Auxillary musicians on this recording help to flesh out the sound adding occasional horn sections and bits of orchestration.

The real strength of this record is the beautiful sense of continuity the artists have built into the release. While each song is powerful on its own, Recluse Raccoon makes an ardent strive here to create a release that begs to be listened to in its entirety. Tracks flow into each other and play against each other to create a larger composition.

Go ahead and add this one to your list of must haves. Recluse Raccoon certainly leaves an indelible impression, earning it a spot in the 'best of'  category. 

Gray Lee

 https://citruscityrecords.bandcamp.com/album/recluse-raccoon

 

LOOTUS - "Sounds From Vermillion Sands"

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Lootus - "Sounds From Vermillion Sands"

(Cudighi Records) 

This strange tale begins in the titular Vermillion Sands, an altogether lonely place, devoid of any obvious signs of life. The Vermillion Sands are hard to navigate. After the initial novelty of arriving in such a strange place, visitors invariably begin to search for something to do. There are no shops to peruse or sights to see. Human nature demands we look for a mystery to solve.

To spur the wobegone tourist to action, a soundtrack is provided of questioning synth keys that are answered by some indigenous life form invisible to the naked eye. Inquisitive bass echoes across the shifting white sands as we look for footprints or pathways that will lead us somewhere. Curious rusted machines abandoned along the way are unable to whir to life and provide clues, though forlorn electronic utterances occasionally drift upon the wind.

Up ahead there is a stirring, is it alive? It is an aging tortoise that gives one last look before beginning to spin like a top, lifting itself into the sky and out of sight, leaving a swept circle in the sand.

"Why have I come here?," you ask myself.  

"We do not know," a wordless voice pantomimes.  

Vacations used to be affordable, and one tended to end up in a desirable, pleasant place, not the endless white dunes of Vermillion Sands. A curious mechanism buzzes by overhead, from whence is it bidden? A man in a white suit stands on the pier in the distance, whispering into a walkie-talkie. We run as fast as we can, but he has vanished like a ghost, leaving behind the remote for the drone, which has now crashed into the sea. 

The tail of a whale flips above a white capped wave briefly, before splashing down into the sand. Waves of white sand crash over the pier, toppling it into the sand, it breaks into a pile of clumps. Clumps of Vermillion Sand. 

We sing a silent prayer for the man who disappeared. 

You pick up the walkie-talkie at your feet and listen to it, but it is only a Conch Shell, which houses an echoing voice that repeatedly warns us about the hounds.  

What hounds?  

Those hounds. 

They burst from the ground like wild onions, shaking Vermillion sands from their matted fur. We run from them.  We run for miles. The dogs chase us to the top of the tallest dune, so tall that it is really a mountain. As we reach the summit we slip on the treacherous sand. We tumble down the other side with the almighty crash of Vermillion sand chasing us down the dune. 

We reach the end of the journey. This was not like the brochure said it would be. We dance a strange dance, with many halting movements and unusual steps. We have heard the sounds from the Vermillion Sands. I'll probably come back again someday.

Gray Lee

 

 

 

 https://lootus.bandcamp.com/album/sounds-from-vermilion-sands-8

MORE OR LES - "Nerd Love"

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More or Les - “Nerd Love”

(Hand’ Solo Records)

Rapper More or Les releases Nerd Love, a hip hop album that speaks to the nerd in all of us. This release is an engaging listen full of killer beats and intricate narratives featuring sci-fi, comic book, and role-playing references, and some poignant moments that bear a closer listen.

The title track of Nerd Love is the thesis of this geeky ode, stating the importance of standing beside the things you love, even when others disparage those things as ‘nerdy.’ More or Les wants to create a safe space within the album where the listener can be themselves. He then skillfully weaves together a brilliant commentary of nerdy things that spills over into the rest of the album.

Whatever your nerd tendencies, More or Les has got your jam, including Roll the Dice, a song about playing Dungeons and Dragons, Picard Maneuver and Klingon Neighbors, two tracks that tackle the Star Trek franchise, and 22 Pages, which celebrates comic book culture. Each one of these selections is impressive, not only in the production and performance quality, but in the level of detail that is packed into every minute, displaying a true knowledge and respect of the material, making this a fun album to return to again and again.

Despite all the fun on this album, the standout track is Hidden in Plain Sight, which takes a break from the revelry of all things nerdy and geeky to address the important issue of under-representation of people of color in the entertainment industry. Far from a preachy social justice speech, Hidden in Plain Sight is a poignant and heartfelt essay that fits directly into the larger entertainment narrative of the album. By first expressing a love for a broad field of entertainment franchises, and then to bring to attention the less-than-progressive practices of the media companies that produce and profit from those franchises, More or Les is able to bring this issue to the listener in a directly accessible way.

Production on this release is fantastic, with clean low-on-sample hip hop grooves, and smooth beats. More or Les also unleashes a small army of guest artists, including Wordburglar, Nilla, Touch, MikeAll, Jesse Dangerously, MegaRan, int eighty, Mikal KHill, Timbuktu, and even a snazzy version of Fly Me to the Moon sung by Alezandria Coldevin.

Overall, I found myself repeat listening to Nerd Love. There are a lot of artfully loaded references to fandom culture that play over some brilliant producing. Nerd Love is available on digital, compact disc, and ‘futuristic USB’ from Hand’Solo records.

Gray Lee

https://handsolorecords.bandcamp.com/album/nerd-love

JENNIFER DOLL - "With Everything"

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Jennifer Doll - "With Everything"

(Weatnu Records) 

Electronic artist and songwriter Jennifer Doll blends clear, genuine vocals with pleasing pop instrumentation for this fresh-sounding EP, With Everything. As a release it really does have a bit of everything.

Each track is built up with layers of sequenced instruments that form a dense musical foundation upon which Jennifer Doll's bright voice dances across. From shimmering pools of synth backed with electro-pop drums in Siren Song, to fuzz powered bass stacked with idm beats and reverb-tinged backup vocals in Secrets of the Dance Floor, to the electric string backed ballad, Heavy, Jennifer Doll packs this EP with musical variety.

"Can anybody hear it? All the broken truths, And hollow lies?,"

she sings, in Secrets of the Dance Floor, a song about combating normalcy of living in a dishonest society. A bonus track, Glitter Tits, explores a youthful party where glitter ends up everywhere. 

In this release, Jennifer Doll delivers some open, heartfelt songwriting - while wielding multiple musical styles with layered track-building.  Recommended for your autumn playlists, or early evening twilit upstairs shoegazing.

Gray Lee

 https://jenniferdollweatnurecords.bandcamp.com

 

OUTER 神殿 & BOB GENGIS KHAN - "Cɾ∪ƨhəᑯ Conversionƨ 2"

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Outer 神殿 & Bob Gengis Khan - "Cɾ∪ƨhəᑯ Conversionƨ 2"

(Bogus Collective) 

Hazy spirals of classic-tinged vaporwave open this release, as Outer 神殿 takes center stage on side A. Good interferences and stereo bounce can be found behind clever titles like "Martial Arts Emulator" and "Lagoon Punch (On the 5th Floor.) What begins as a casual vapor release transmutates into something else entirely, as the phacade crumbles and falls away - piece by piece - revealing the tumultuous energy clouds within. Each successive track is more and more beleaguered with layers of hectic disarray. 

Bob Gengis Kahn carries the torch on side B, letting loose an even more disintegrated selection of works. Fragments of scattered transmissions are flung at the lstener with increasing abandon until total annihilation is reached. Tracks such as "ßit(coin) b00ty" are so destroyed that they barely occupy our dimension at all, as if we are examining the residue of a musical creation within the package that once held it, trying to imagine what it must have sounded like.

In the end, Crushed Conversions 2 is aptly titled. It is a empty casket filled with completely derailed shadows that only exist as unsolved equations.   

Gray Lee

 https://boguscollective.bandcamp.com/album/c-h-conversion-2

 

P A T H S パス - "Vaporwave 2 - 謎の宮殿 "

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P A T H S パス - "Vaporwave 2 - 謎の宮殿"

(Power_Lunch Corporation) 

P A T H S パス leads us down a dark, shimmering tunnel into an afterlife filled with knee-deep glimmering water. Moonlight streams through an open manhole cover, and somewhere in the distance the he-beast calls out in the musty chambers of the night.

This is a release entitled " Vaporwave 2 - 謎の宮殿" and it certainly feels like we are beyond vaporwave at this point. It's a darkly echoed affair in the shadowy passages of a mysterious palace on another plane of existence, after everything that once was, is no longer.

Throatless voices call out un-hearable words as a pounding heartbeat reverberates off the slimy bricks of eternity's drainage system. All the while, the fragments of a forgotten melody rattle around on dusty ledges. There is fire and anguish in the pit below, and the din of it reaches to the upper halls where mechanical jackals of war restlessly dream.

Gray Lee

 https://powerlunch.bandcamp.com/album/--3

 

VOODOOHOP - "Entropia Coletiva II"

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Voodoohop - "Entropia Coletiva II"

(Voodoohop)

Groovy downtempo electronica with a strong world vibe bursts out of this release like the flagrantly adorned cover art that represents it. This compilation from Brazil-based collective Voodoohop travels through many music zones, but stays close to the cool, ambient shadows, where smooth rhythms and hypnotic musical compositions dance in the psychedelic night.

The track opener, Spine Tingles by Peter Power, is well worth the price of admission, with cooled-down beats and nearby found sounds that play with the senses in a pleasing way. The following track, Noon, feels like anything but noon, following in the opening track’s shadowy footprints. Other highlights include M. RUX and Thomash’s infectious and upbeat Tukuna Hering, that induces dancing on contact, and the absolute burner, Glassminazed, a ten minute journey from Supercombo Los Caviares, with lightweight droning and percussive glassware, creating a transcendent, meditative experience that is tethered to Earth by physical sounds.

Entropia Coletiva II is a brilliantly executed exploration of mood, that defies the variety of artists presented by being fiercely congruous. If you are looking to zone out, or zoom in, trance up, or cool down, this release is waiting there for you, beneath the haunted starlight of an endless sky.

Gray Lee

https://voodoohop.bandcamp.com/album/voodoohop-entropia-coletiva-ii

JAMIE AWAKSHIDAR - "There is More Beauty in Corruption"

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Jamie Awakshidar - "There is More Beauty in Corruption"

(Asura Revolver) 

This densely packed dark ambient album personifies its title, showing the deep beauty in damaged, disconnected things. The concept is quite strong, and plays out across the release in a dramatic way.  

The opening track Skyhack Rising is a transcendent, powerful surge of uplifiting synth tones, a meditative icon of beauty and peace. As soon as the triumphantly titled Sic Transit Gloria Mundi begins, strains of corruption can already be felt. The track is drenched in a self-feeding reverb that washes the track over its brim in waves of chaos. As the album continues, the sounds and moods continue to shift toward shadowy, darker zones.

In dramatic contrast to peace, stillness, and calm, as the release nears its core we can sense the radiating undulations of malice and entopy. The audio becomes an overwhelming, swirling malestrom of disfigured audio and crossing frequencies that feels like it's trapped between the walls, in a frenzied focus on complex movements in the dark.

It is in these startling moments, that Jamie Awakshidar displays a true artistry, reveling in the mighty power and detail found in the broken, misty passageways between worlds. As far as this release goes, There is More Beauty in Corruption.

Gray Lee

 https://asurarevolver.bandcamp.com/album/there-is-more-beauty-in-corruption

 

 

NIGHT BEACH - "Bed"

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Night Beach - "Bed"

Bed, the latest release from Atlanta GA. based artist, Night Beach, is the perfect example of bedroom pop. I'm not saying that because the title is Bed, although that probably helps. 

Bed is an upbeat and catchy album that combines the intimate, casual feel of bedroom pop with slicker, more polished production methods that are usually less present in the genre. You could call this mid-fi bedroom pop. 

The selections on this release range from thoughtful, introspective lullabies like Good Night Sleepy Dragon, to the yawning and distorted rock riffs of tracks like Hair. Each memorable tune here is a brief wisp of powerful pop that simultaneously calms down and perks up your bedroom pop playlist, crafted from curly electric guitar work, gentle bass lines, and lighthearted vocals.

Gray Lee

https://nightbeach.bandcamp.com/album/bed

HAUNTED GAUNTLET - "OM3G4 G3N3SIS"

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Haunted Gauntlet - "OM3G4 G3N3SIS"

(Cudighi Records)

Lo-fi instrumental hip-hop meets warbling oddball audio in OM3G4 G3N3SIS, a new release on Cudighi Records by Omaha, Nebraska heartbreaker, beat-maker, and soul-taker Haunted Gauntlet. 

First of all, let’s put our anger aside that Haunted Gauntlet came up with an artist name that’s just head and shoulders above the rest of us - he’s our cousin now, and he’s making this bizarro avant-garde hip hop that I’ve been jamming in the car for weeks.

Armed with a small army of cousins, who guest rap on the album, Gauntlet takes us through a beat-infused landscape of weirdly woven samples and oddly modulated sounds. It’s a concoction that defies direct categorization and makes it difficult for amateurs like me to explain properly. That’s why you need to be listening to this mess. I certainly appreciate the punctuative use of the Sonic the Hedgehog ring acquisition sound throughout this release. Much better than at the gas station when people redeem lottery tickets, that ring sound actually belongs in this weirdo collage of crunching beats, varied rap styles and grab bag sound effects.

It’s hard to choose a standout track. I prefer listening to the whole thing on repeat. Dusk ft. Sleep Sinatra is a great slow groove with sick rhymes and great sampling. Most Wanted ft. Keii brings us a laid back jam with a great chorus and some nicely disintegrated synth lines as a backdrop. There’s even a nice bit in Essence Pooling where the track closes with a fun sampling from a certain well-known water level. Thumbs up, Haunted.

Every track has a different, distinctive flavor - while adhering to the killer Haunted Gauntlet aesthetic that the listener will be able to pick up on right away. There is a satisfying amount of ‘wobble’ in here, an antiquated post-everything sound, like digging music up out of the rubble of a failed world and trying to figure out what it means. The rhyming voices here are powerful and energetic, lending to the living, breathing feel of each composition.

OM3G4 G3N3SIS is available in digital and cassette format, from Cudighi Records.

Gray Lee

https://hauntedgauntlet.bandcamp.com/album/om3g4-g3n3sis

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Yeah. Just look at that.

KOSMOGYR - "Eviternity"

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Kosmogyr - “Eviternity”

Eviternity is a full-length black metal album from collaborative duo Kosmogyr.

Kosmogyr is Xander Cheng of Shanghai and Ivan Belcic of Prague. Xander provides the ferocious guitar and bass work, while Ivan provides programmed drums, and pulls off some amazing vocals.

There is some good balance in here between dramatic, orchestrated pieces of instrumental storyline, and ear-splitting metal passages of violent action, creating a black metal experience that is filled with all the deep and dark anger, aggression, and hatred you're looking for, sweetened by emotive symphonic interludes.

The title track of the release is a standout hit, with Xander raging out on an easily accessible doubled riff that plays across a pulsating rhythm. The chorus comes in with a satisfyingly heavy thrash before locking back into the main drag. Ivan is a monster whose demonic howls and far-from-clean vocals capture the raw, tortured entropy that makes genuine black metal so compelling. Tracks such as Sui Generis and Refulgence bring orchestral and acoustic styles into the mix that balance the album, and provide further contrast when the big waves of metal come crashing down.

Eviternity is certainly a hell of an album, and if you were looking off the beaten path for hidden gems, you will find one here with Kosmogyr.

Gray Lee

https://kosmogyr.bandcamp.com/album/eviternity-digital-version

USED CONDO - "Kiosk"

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Used Condo - "Kiosk"

(Bumpy)

The Bumpy label presents this strange concoction of synth and sound by unusual artist Used Condo, an alias for legendarily strange Minnesota music denizen, Larry Wish. Kiosk is a videogame soundtrack for a non-existent game, (at least it doesn’t currently occupy our reality.)

The game is a psycological thriller where a character makes his way through an abandoned mall that is being haunted by a pile of monsters and ghosts, (like most abandoned malls.) As one would expect, the release is full of eerie audio and time shifting lines of electro-babble. The opening track, Receipt of Payment has a no-longer-human voice explain what the game is all about. Then the first level begins with Everybody is People with Clothing like Me. Is the main character seeing ghostly figures and identifying with them, or are they just mannequins in the shadows?

Each track seems to be a different area of the game, with varying degrees of danger and horror. For example, the track Humin Bozos is filled with creepy loops of ghostly wails and oddly swirling sounds that spiral into an abyss at the end. The Tan of Tens of Boppy Booths is a rapidly looping percussive cycle. with ragged clips from a newscast and trippy stereo spirits. The release ends with Highly Trained Agent, who is hopefully someone who is there to rescue the protaganist from the haunted mall.

Kiosk is a psychotropic ride through a hyperactively spiritual environment that had me searching for the game, only to find that it isn’t available in our dimension.

Gray Lee

https://bumpy.bandcamp.com/album/kiosk

KENNY MILLIONS & KRESTEN OSGOOD - "Copenhagen Bluez"

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Kenny Millions & Kresten Osgood - “Copenhagen Bluez”

(MuteAnt Sounds)

The wooly and wild duo of Kenny Millions and Kresten Osgood crank out a mean free jazz thrash of a dirty blues, psyched-out rock, and untethered off-kilter yelling.

A jumbled and careening drum kit falls down a flight of stairs as a fuzzy electric guitar is fed into a wood chipper. Kenny Millions flings greasy clumps of partially chewed up lyrics at the microphone just before a halloween organ bursts onto the scene, belching rubber spiders.

A frightened saxaphone cries into the ambivalent night, searching for one of it's brass parents. Nothing but angular shadows cover the uneven ground. A drunken miscreant sleeping it off overnight screams unintelligible nightmares from his cell.

Kenny Millions is on a rampage. Not even the gentle gospel of the jazz organ can cool him for long. At last he stands bare naked in the creul spotlight, howling every conjugation of expletive his frantic mind can muster.

That's Copenhagen Bluez

Gray Lee

https://muteantsoundsnetlabel.bandcamp.com/album/copenhagen-bluez

HESSIAN - "Mercenary Retrograde"

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Hessian - “Mercenary Retrograde”

(Urtod Void)

Get ready for an old-fashioned thrashin’ with this powerful anachronism from rock and roll soldiers, Hessian. Fueled by a great love an reverence for the early black metal of ‘The Old Ones,’ this four-piece of hard rock mercenaries who hail the city-state of Portland, Maine, are here to fight in '“the war against the jive.”

Heavy guitars, propelled by dusty, cobweb-covered amps from the 70s surge across this release like war pigs, gathered in their masses. Anthemic choruses and blistering guitar solos soar like angels of death across a black velvet sky. Throbbing basslines thud at the bottom of the track as furious percussion keeps the pace for the marching warriors.

“We are the rock and roll soldiers!

Rock and Roll will keep you alive!”

- So howls lead singer and ringleader Angus McFarland, who hurls electrified bolts of pure distilled rock and roll in each note, as his troops behind him wage war with their amplified weapons of music. From the opening execution drums of “I Wish I Was Dead” to the closing death throes of “Manos, The Hands of Fate,” Hessian delivers a rich, robust draught of rock and roll in is primal form, steeped in decades within casks filled with ancient death metal spirits.

While emulating the music of old certainly is their selling point, Hessian has got a lot to offer. Look past the obvious things, like the retro riffs and album art - and you’ll hear an album that has real heart. These people love what they are doing, and they are having the time of their lives doing it really well. The over-the-top song titles and lyrics are genuinely a lot of fun, and the music stands up to repeat listens. I think Hessian ultimately isn’t trying to get you to accept this record as an item for the past you somehow missed - but to instead wants you to find a new appreciation for the artistry and style of the music they hold dear. Maybe it’s time to dig up your old collection and give your favorite records another spin.

So all that’s left in the world is to ask yourself a question. Are you a rock and roll soldier? Then get your marching orders - from Hessian!

Gray Lee

https://urtodvoid.bandcamp.com/album/hessian-mercenary-retrograde

NYLON SMILE - "Angel of Doubt"

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Nylon Smile - "Angel of Doubt"

(Citrus City Records)

This short and sweet pop rock EP from Los Angeles based musician Nylon Smile is a fine collection of 3 minute indie radio ditties. Each selection is built from gauzy electric guitar fills, low fi drums, and harmonized vocals. 

On tracks such as Rise and Release, driving bass lines and reverb heavy guitars form a sonic crater that the voice of Nikolas Seolter settles to the bottom of - creating undulations of dreamy, shoegaze mood that washes across the mix like a puddle of warm rain water filled with dead leaves. 

On the closing track, Younger, Nylon Smile mixes things up with warbling piano and pitch shifted lead vocals and an ominous bass line for a deep, contemplative dip into indie buzz & fuzz. 

The operative word here is mood. Nylon Smile takes melancholy, after-school joyrides and endless ripples of casually emotive mood and wraps them up in a cassette-sized package.

Gray Lee

https://citruscityrecords.bandcamp.com/album/angel-of-doubt

FULL ECLIPSE - "Former Selves"

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Full Eclipse - "Former Selves"

(30th Floor Records) 

Former Selves is the latest release by Full Eclipse on racy Cardiff, UK label, 30th Floor Records. This album is a long, cool, drink of smooth synth, hot beats, and vintage sounds, topped off with vocals and lyrics that don't get bogged down in the intentions of the aesthetic. 

There are a lot of terms that could go into the aesthetic of Former Selves, synthwave, retrowave, synth pop - but it all amounts to distilling the best elements of 80s and 90s pop music into modern productions, and that's exactly what Full Eclipse excels at doing here. Listeners can expect soaring guitars, reverb soaked drums and the energetic notes of synth that remind us of a golden time in music, and of a retro future that we have yet to experience. In the track, Are We All, a warm synth layers over a driving soft rock drum kit, as a sizzling, yet smooth guitar solo dominates the track. Another standout track is Clocktowers, that creates a brilliant climb with a white hot synth solo that plateaus into a steamy outro for the back third of the track. 

Despite the enjoyable 80s throwbacks, it is with word and voice that Full Eclipse is able to reach beyond a simple execution of a style. Lead vocalist, Full Eclipse, lends a deep baritone rendering of heartfelt lyrics that defy the bubblegum stereotype that the stylized music seemingly demands. In the opening track, Lebenfallen, he delivers such lines as:

 

"Do you remember all the times gone by?/ 

The world turned as we burned up the youthful enthusiasm/ 

We had long assumed that we could never die."

 

The vocals, which clearly evoke styles from two or three decades ago, manage to remain fresh in content and delivery. This juxtaposition of modern and classic elements delivers a blend that makes Former Selves an engaging listen, both as an enjoyable synthwave piece, and a standalone expression of the artist - blissful and melancholic reverie of love and heartbreak, slick hair, shiny jackets and sunglasses at night. 

Gray Lee

https://30thfloor.uk/album/former-selves