Superchunk – What a Time To Be Alive (2018)
Superchunk are one of my favorite bands. Their songs are always joyful and beautiful to me, making my sad moods happy again. The songs have this positive exciting energy and many intricate parts blending into a perfect mesh of lovely sounds that make me want to jump up and down, or obsessively tap my feet or fingers, to the rolling and rocking grooves that so consume me to the core, making me feel good to be alive in a blissful state of enjoying their music.
What a Time To Be Alive is a masterpiece of all these things. A great gift of all the signature Superchunk sounds, evocative emotions and intricacies that are everything they are. Just listening to Mac’s vocals, albeit heated lyrics, of soothing cute child-like tonality just makes me feel like a carefree kid swinging away with abandon. All the elements of Superchunk, Mac’s sensitive lyrics, passionate vocals and vigorous guitar, Laura’s subtle and groovy bass lines, Jim’s expressive guitar sound and Jon’s high-powered drumming converge to create a perfect harmony and frequency in this universe.
Flash House – Brown Sauce (2017)
A quartet out of London, UK, these guys dish out some good old fashioned crazy mayhem, blood-curdling heavy, mega fast straight up blistering rock’n’roll! But when I say heavy and fast I really mean it!! I’m talking intensely powerful and breakneck speed, and distortion-y loud and pretty hellish, deep scary, angry vocals. You’ll also hear pummeling double drums out to kick someone’s ass, and grungy dirty bass and wicked guitar riffs and solos that are intricate, hair-raising, albeit soothing (to a metalhead).
The Routes – In This Perfect Hell
I’m immediately impressed by the sleek look of this record sleeve, highly minimal and sophisticated, in two of my favorite shades – magenta and black. And so it’s not so surprising that what’s revealed audibly on the inside fits the glossy outside. This record starts off dark and sexy with Thousand Forgotten Dreams, with a classic 60s garage fuzz sound, drenched in the slow and hypnotic. In the second track, Something Slipped Through My Window, lots of masterful elements converge with a mouthful of lyrics, kind of told like a story, flowing perfectly in its plodding trajectory. Peeling Face is more upbeat with sprightly organ and quick shifts, cute hooks and a joyful melody throughout. In No Permanence, a thin and sliver-y guitar noodles along with a fuzz backdrop and circular swirls turbulent-ing this groove tune. Drugging down to the depths of evil, in a lair of foreboding is Worry, while Housework In My Head feels creepy. I like the continuous guitar echo that resounds in Oblivious, and In Years Gone By I yearn with the softness, quaintness, and innocence, perfect for the sad love of a breakup, intonates like soft tears flowing. Just dirty and heavy, Perfect Hell, terminates this fuzz ride.
Honah Lee – 33 On 45
Super energetic emphatic power punk rock pop from Trenton, New Jersey. Infectious, catchy hooks and chock full of youthful angsty attitude. I feel excited by this because it has succeeded in creating a happy and warm feeling in me. I feel certain it can help to bring you out of dark corners. A great pick-me-up to get the day started or if you want to feel punchy about things. Screeching and screaming with lots of heart and soul. Favorite tracks for me: Time Flies has great a intro and progression of intensity and depth, Driftin because it’s got this heartfelt melody that melts me, R2DIM2 is punk as shit and I like the distorted vocals. Great cover art too!
Crystal Robots (2017)
You got to hear this newly released record by Crystal Robots, a highly talented NYC rock band featuring Daniel Harnett on vocals and rhythm guitar, actor Kevin Corrigan on bass, Ahmed Kharem on drums and Richard Martin on lead guitar, keyboards and percussion as well producer and master-er of this eloquently sleek eponymous album. Crystal Robots’ style is reminiscent of 80s post punk with amazingly dynamic energy, and compelling parts and transitions throughout the songs, all written by Daniel. The artwork is eerie with a cool sense of mystery, design and photography execution by Jeremy Van Eyk. On the material itself “All the Buttons” is super catchy and rolls around you with its progressive rocking intensity, stops and starts, and sliding guitars as Daniel showcases his vast vocal range. “Hate Most of It” is lyrically clever, friendly and straightforward, rock’n’roll. Other songs, like “Sleepy Thing” and especially “Nonstop Engine” have a real California 80s hardcore punk angry and edgy sound with screeching, and fastslick shredding guitars. Kevin’s bass playing is so fluid, smooth and effortlessly executed. In “Slip in”, another high powered ball of fire with its 50s twist, you can feel the shiny, crunchy and fat groovy bass picking, and whirl yourself around in it. The pace on the album slows down with “Back from the Sea” with its thumping, entrenched groove, refreshing soundscape floating on iridescent waves, and calming positive vibes in a reggae kind of breezy rhythm. I like how “Please Don’t Freak Out” is funny, uncomplicated, evasive but at the same time secretly intricate, hearing something new with each listen. “Duck and Run” is deep, slow and meandering with a gothic spooky feel. Sets a languid mood almost kaleidoscope carousel sounding with an eastern kind of guitar flair. “In the Presence of Royal Nothing” is playful with its sort of dignified marching melody. A deeply layered and epic gem can be found in “Monday in the City” with the instrumental break engulfing you like a great novel in music form. The ending track “Love Comes First” wraps you in a warm blanket, starting creepy like, with glossy sounding steps and heartfelt moments of happiness in a sphere of unending beatific perfection.
Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One (1997)
From the opening I’m immediately soothed by the soft billowy feel of Return to Hot Chicken. Listening to Moby Octopad I’m loving the groovy bass line and beats interlaced with caressing vocals, gradual increasing layers, deepening it’s grip. The repetitious piano thing in the middle is so interesting and off-kilter. Perfect travel music, undulating about. Sugarcube is faster, upbeat with a layering of distortion-y heavy guitar, love the lyrical guitar meandering. Vocals are short, to the point. Killer guitar solo with droning tones reminds me of early Dinosaur Jr. – a quintessential indie sound that’s filled with hope and joy. Damage is slow, murky, languid, with layers of more distortion and echoes of sweet moments and fluttering movements, subtle and quiet, strange ephemeral sounds all amid a non-ceasing rhythm that sounds like seagulls flying over the ocean on a misty and foggy day. Deeper into movies has more distortion-y guitars droning on in the intro. Like a page in a book, turning, continuing the story of the previous songs. The vocals are in the back, lower, like an afterthought even though there’s a lot being said. The tempo is culminating to something reaching higher and higher. – Now before I continue describing these great songs I’ll say first that I like the song titles, they are clever. Also some part of my life at one time was immersed in 90s indie bands, like Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Pixies, Guided By Voices, (and still is) but I never heard Yo La Tengo back them even though I had great opportunity during my New Jersey years to become acquainted with their music and even the band members themselves. But now that I’m discovering them, I wish I knew their magic back then but I guess it just wasn’t my time for it, so I’ll accept that, but say now how much I am digging them totally!! – In Shadows you got Georgia’s soft tender voice, riffs creeping quietly in, so short and sweet. Stockholm Syndrome is up tempo, catchy, melodic, jangly, with a screeching guitar solo. The singing sounds a little like Neil Young. On Autumn Sweater the organ starts it off, then a rumbling volcanic groove during the chorus, with funky bongo drums and a variety of percussion sounds gives it nice levels. Green Arrow is like porch lounging on a hot summer night with the crickets and darkness, amid guitar soundscape sounds give it a very Hawaiian-esque quality on a summer isle calm and relaxing. The Lie and How we Told it is tiptoeing light with amazing melodic layering and beautiful fluid guitar just flowing along like a happy country river.
Mike Krol – albums Turkey (2015), Trust Fund (2013) and I Hate Jazz (2011)
My new reason to sit at home and just listen to music. I Love all three of Mike Krol’s records. I’ve found my state of perfect happiness in these things. Amazingly infectious fast energy of garage-y power pop-y little punk and ballad ditties, melodious, emotively heart-wrenching with hot and nasel-y whiny vocals. Crunchy guitar, 3 chords, no nonsense master drumming, straight up, heavy bass, buzz-y sounding, punk as shit! Makes me want to scream and jump and down. I….can’t….take….it…..want to cry it’s so beautiful in its screechy sloppy smash-y keyboard-y way. All the songs are simple, short, brilliant. Very aesthetically pleasing to the ear. The best thing is my 16 year old daughter introduced me to this, so it appeals to both our generations. It’s great when your kid likes the same music as you! <3 Check him out on bandcamp. Some of my favorite songs are the sweet Red Minivan, the spooky Keith Moon, and the spunky La La La.
As a huge Jay Reatard fan I am so happy to see and hear this release surface of the Angry Angles by Alix Brown and Jay Reatard on Goner Records. I’m not going to get into the history or the story behind this release although there is one and you can read it elsewhere if you want, like here. As a person who was born to appreciate music such as that of the Angry Angles, its most primal beatific essence like a blood transfusion so desperately needed is welcome and loved like an old familiar friend stopping by for an overdue and appreciated visit. This posthumous gift of Jay Reatard’s genius is making my ears cry blissful and bittersweet tears for its sound is quintessential Jay circa Blood Visions mixed with Alix Brown’s alluring brassiness. I love it all but these are the songs that stand out for me. The 15th which is a sort of more heartfelt keyboard-y melodic pure 80s nostalgic (for me anyway) ballad. There’s subtler lighter version of Can’t Do it Anymore which is pleasant to cuddle up to. You Fell In is just…SO GOOD! In My Room sung by Alix has an eerie lurking creeping quality with a groovy bass line. Set in Stone is dark and beautiful. Apparent-Transparent is catchy as fuck! Things Are Moving has varying high and low vocals that Jay liked to do which makes me melt and is sooo appealing, and it’s also fast, melodic, and exciting. You Lied is a lot more garage-y, and You Call it Love has a sort of laid back late 70s feel to it. Thanks to the powers that be for releasing this just wondrous thing that it is!
Tame Impala – Innerspeaker
So I was in a record store on Bernard street in Montreal flipping through used CDs when the store clerk puts this album on and he played it probably twice over during the time I was in the store. I had to ask the guy what he was playing as I found it to be truly infectious, with its super laid back fuzz groove putting me in a trance. Some time ago I had heard a song by Tame Impala before on the soundtrack to this indie movie I love called Before I Disappear, and at the time that song had propelled me to look into other songs by Tame Impala but I couldn’t find that elusive thumping groove again so kind of put them aside. But before the guy in the store told me what the record was I had a feeling it was them. What’s thrilling is finding some new music to get excited about. The way I describe it is stoner and shoe-gazer music mixed in one. But I can get a helluva lot more colorful because the sounds paint such vivid pictures, of orange sunburst sunsets on crystal blue seascapes. It’s the music of summer… and elephants. Yep, I think of big footed thick legged sloppy elephants too. Actually the first song I heard of theirs on the aforementioned movie soundtrack is actually called Elephant. It’s just the songs are so THICK sounding, with big fuzzy 60s guitar, stompy beats and muffled psychedelic distortion all about. There are lots of layers and lots going on that gives it a real rich sound, like the eerie cold echoing keyboards that keep popping up. So many great songs to choose from. Lucidity is amazing heaviness, a total rolling trance of a rhythm. Listen to this LOUD to get the full experience of the total nonstop power groove moments in songs like Expectation. All throughout the lyrics are so delightful, the singer’s voice is angelic and poetic, and creative melodies and trippy effects wrap you up in its warm bright sandy breezy goodness. You’ll feel like you are at the beach in the hot sun with the wind blowing and the waves splashing around you. The Bold Arrow of Time is what souls are made of. Runaway Houses, City Clouds sounds like bees swarming, then later settling in a dreamy flowery meadow.
The Invaders is a riveting, must see, eye opener documentary, directed by Prichard Thomas Smith, and soundtrack produced by King Khan and Jack Oblivion. Its seamless smooth narrative conveys the story of the Memphis, Tennessee virtually unknown Black Power group, The Invaders, and the struggles that they and the black community of Memphis faced concerning poverty, racism, and the poor conditions of sanitation workers, and the involvement of Martin Luther King Jr. who helped to mobilize their efforts, in the time and events just before his assassination. There’s amazing footage of that time period and quality, eloquently voiced interviews with the founding organizers of the Invaders and other community leaders during that time. The soundtrack beautifully orchestrated by King Khan, for which songs appear on his singles, Children of the World, Never Hold On, America Goddam, and Hurtin’ Class – are rich in their deeply soulful lament depicting the troubles and sadness with an ever lilting and funky authentic 60s R’n’B sound, with King Khan’s smooth euphonious hymns, and passionate cries of those hurting times.
Words by William S. Burroughs
Jasper Hood – Vox, Theramin & Bass
King Khan – Vox, Guitar & Drums
John Boy Adonis – Drums
Erin Spits – Synths on “Erased World”
*Old style punk ( I have to say “old style” for all those who consider punk to be along the lines of bands like Rancid, Nofx – that’s not this!! for cryin’ out loud!)
Candy Prankster – The Gerry Alvarez Odyssey
Candy Prankster is a psychedelic prism of 60’s jangly, trippy, catchy pop rock tunes wrapped in a cozy blanket, floating upon a marshmallow cloud in an expanding universe. Gerry Alvarez’s voice sounds very comfy and mellow, like a sweetly dreamy instrument backed by a powerful wall of energetic sound of droning fuzz guitar, steady hypnotic rhythms that takes you on a kaleidoscope journey through space and time. The easy flowing cadence of these melodic songs, like in “Heaven”, and “In the Garden” are a refreshing interlude for a carefree mind in a happy place from the sometimes chaotic noise of life’s drudgery. “Open Up Your Mind” is amazing with its on the verge, opening up to something exciting quality. Musically it’s very wonderful, the guitar sounds just drool with intensity and passion. Songs like “The Trail” have a quieter and delicate beginning but with great guitar in the background, fluid and lyrical, a free flowing creative happy guitar effect noodling like a zigzagging meandering feeling and melody throughout most of the song that brings forth a good feeling like being enveloped in molasses. “Fly by Night” has lots of fat and crunchy distortion power chords. It’s easy to deeply connect to Gerry Alvarez’s musical trip. The more listens you start to feel at one with it, with its mesmerizing beat, transcending with songs like “It’s Only Just A Dream” a jewel of a song, shiny and pure, and with slow creeping steps of Gerry’s hypnotic and trance like singing throughout, that brings forth a sense of completeness.
Omega Tea Time – The Gerry Alvarez Odyssey
Omega Tea Time’s “A Carnival of Life” is stripped and clean but wide and open and inviting and consuming you, with a slow progression and clear and crisp vocals filled with lovingness. “Cosmic Weaving” has lots of good layers of psychedelic guitar sounds, with nice pauses and drumming. “Temple on the Hill” is more upbeat but as Gerry starts singing the key is kind of mysterious sounding with a sitar-y flair and the drums are grooving clear and light and colorful. “Middle Way” is like a classic rock song, happy and bright sounding. “I Hear the Wind” has such soothing drawn out vocals, a mellow day free flowing chorus, with a relaxing rhythm, non-urgent feeling like a lazy happy breeze. The feeling overall and in the end is immensely calming and peaceful. It’s music to listen to as you walk along the path of enlightenment. These words can barely explain the feelings that exists inside the music. Listening has become a meditation like I’m meditating and listening in the here and now. The experience is sublime.