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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Oranger - New Comes and Goes

Name: Oranger
Album: New Comes and Goes
Year: 2005
Style: Indie Pop-Rock, 
Similar Bands: Nada Surf, Steve Malkmus, The Wonders (Mike Viola / Fountains of Wayne), Weezer, Shins
One Word Review: Lazi-tude Indie-pop
Based Out Of: San Fran, CA
Label: Eenie Meenie Records
 New Comes and Goes - Cover & Back
New Comes And Goes - Liner Notes, Tray & CD
New Comes and Goes (2005)
  1. Crooked in the Weird of the Catacombs 4:05
  2. New Comes and Goes 3:27
  3. Sukiyaki 2:11
  4. Garden Party for the Murder Pride 3:12
  5. Outtatoch 3:56
  6. Radio Wave 3:09
  7. Wacha Holden 2:30
  8. Crones 3:28
  9. Haeter 3:18
  10. Flying Pretend 3:44
  11. Light Machine 2:36
  12. Target You By Feel 2:13
  13. Come Back Tomorrow 2:11
Album Rating (1-10): 8.0

Members & Other Bands:
Tony Espinoza - Mixing
Matt Z Harris - Producing, Engineering
Justin Lieberman - Engineering
Paul Bradley - Engineering
Anne Allison - Engineering
Rachel Allgood - Engineering
Mike Drake - Guitar, Vox, Theremin (Overwhelming Colorfast, Stick Figures, Texas Allstar Jazz Camp, Dubstar, Hot Fog, Slouching Stars)
Matt Harris - Bass, Guitar, Vox, Spongefork (Overwhelming Colorfast, Stick Figures)
Pat Main - Piano, Moog, Wurli (The Snowmen, Hiss Golden Messenger, Tom Heyman, The Court & Spark, John Vanderslice, Map of Wyoming, Actionslacks, Plus Ones, Granfaloon Bus)
Bob Reed - Guitar (Overwhelming Colorfast, Trashmen, Mamou Prairie Band, Mombasa)
John Hofer - Drums, Percussion, Sock (Mother Hips, Persephone's Bees, Kelley Stoltz, Downy Mildew, Freewheelers, Hiss Golden Messenger, Tom Heyman, John Vanderslice)
Alan Stewart - Mainframe
Jett Drolette - Art Direction & Sleeve concept
G Todd.com - Photograp
Lyndsey C. Hawkins - Photographs
David Tounge Bennet - Model
Miss Elizabeth Rutledge - Model
Reeth Kitchards - Model

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band. It was a CD as part of a larger assortment that a friend gave me, so I have to believe that, with a year of 2005 and an energy filled album cover and color scheme, that this will be lively guitar pop trying to be something more credible and authentically rocking.

Album Review: This is the fourth and final album for Oranger, one that finds them returning to guitars and a straight forward sound. All of the members have had their fair share of other bands sine the breakup, but nothing hitting the popular indie (or mainstream) stratosphere.

“Crooked in the Weird of the Catacombs” starts with a nice, indie bassline and drum beat. Polite, slightly whiny vocals follow the melody laid out before it and it follows a basic powerpop guitar chord progression into the chorus. This feels like a slightly roughed up version of something you’d have heard come from the film That Thing You Do. The bass line and slow-quick-quick-slow rhythm pattern carry us out of the song as they did starting it off.
“New Comes and Goes” hits the reset button on the melody, seeming to be an alternate version. The vocals are a slacker version of Weezer, minus the energy, and a less erratic Steve Malkmus / Pavement style. The chorus is even less energetic than the verse, vocally. The instrumental bridge gets crazy fuzzy and even electronic in the background. But then the relaxed vocals come back, and the song finishes out on a high note.
“Sukiyaki” is a driving drum and piano song. The vocals are added and they sound just like the Shins with little spurts of vocals fitted over the melody. No momentum is lost in the chorus, as it keeps charging through. This is a nice indie pop song.
“Garden Party for the Murder Pride” loses the melodic vocals and is almost spoken word in comparison. The guitars are more aggressive, and stompy. The super-catchy melodies come crashing down in the very Weezerish chorus. Over the instrumental breaks, they substitute guitar solos with sputtering radio wave transmissions, which peppered in throughout the rest of the song.
“Outtatoch” is a driving song, with a much more organic, country-drive style. The vocals are a little Spoon-ish, but are more lax and distant from emotion, perhaps a little Lou Reed-like. There is a little garage-band style mixed in, mostly through the drum production and the chosen keyboard sound. The song seems to hit auto-pilot, and just continues to go on for a bit too long.
“Radio Wave” is a rushed, neurotic song, sung with the grace and ease of a spaced out, Zoloft-drugged out singer. Think a polite Nirvana (“Sliver”) produced with the idea of power pop in mind. The main problem with the song is that the chorus is too long, with the repetitive, interval pieces being too short.
“Wacha Holden” there is very little space to breathe between tracks on this album, as they are harshly juxtaposed up against each other. This song starts out with a clear, minimal production in the verse, which only overwhelms itself in the chorus with instrument competition. It reminds me a little of the style from Possum Dixon’s less energetic songs.

“Crones” combines again the mellow singing style with an instrumental melody that is beckoning to break out and run wild, but is restricted to color within the lines. The chorus is slightly off key, which is typically fine for alternative songs, but the music is fighting hard to stay melodic.
“Haeter” puts the stair stepping melody ahead of everything. All of the melodies and rhythms support it, in a dark, destructive march. Perhaps there are some elements of Guided By Voices, laying hooks and ideas on side by side in a track.
“Flying Pretend” is an emotional, sad Mike Viola-ish piano/vocal ballad. Some feedback and fuzz are gently introduced in the background after the first minute. After two minutes tonal changes in the background are supported by an acoustic guitar. But the piano remains dominant the entire time.
“Light Machine” does not waste any time or space between tracks, as the atmosphere bleeds into this song, starting off with feedback and space-age fuzz. The effects fade away, and a driving pop song emerges. The guitars chug along, and the They Might Be Giants melody plays along on top of a keyboard and more feedback effects in the background.
“Target You By Feel” lets everything else drop away except the chugging guitar, and this track feels like it is going to blast off into a pop-punk song. But rather, it develops into a catchy pop song once it gets to the chorus.
“Come Back Tomorrow” ends the album without a clue that the energy is about to end. The again head down sprinting forward guitars enjoy the open range of guitars without vocals for a good 45 seconds, before the deeper monotone vocals begin repeating the title over and over, along with “There’s no one home.” And that’s it, in a repetitive loop without much deviation. Its one simple idea fleshed out for a 2+ minute conclusion. 

Stand Out Tracks: Sukiyaki

Links: 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Wormhole - Chopper

Name: Wormhole (The Wormholes as of 1996)
Album: Chopper (10in EP)
Year: 1995
Style: Alternative
Similar Bands: Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr., Track Star, Pixies, Pavement, My Bloody Valentine
One Word Review: Slacker-Drone-Rock
Based Out Of: Ringsend, Dublin
Label: Roadtrip, Roadrunner
 Chopper - Cover & Record
Chopper - Back & Record
Chopper (1995)
  1. Leave the Blanket In 3:31
  2. 44 Bulldog 3:35
  3. Soul Searching in the Library 2:41
  4. Little Miss 3:34
  5. New 6:48
Album Rating (1-10): 7.5

Members & Other Bands:
Anto Carroll - Bass, Keys (European Sensoria Band, Memory Cells)
Dave Carroll - Drums, Vox (European Sensoria Band, Phil Alvin, Amygdala)
Graham Blackmore - Guitar
Eamonn Crudden - Recording?, Artwork, Photos
Marc Carolan - Production
Edel - Artwork, Photos
Zak -Artwork, Photos

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of the band, but just from the band name logo, I imagine this to be some sort of heavy hardcore bridging on metal. It looks dirty and sloppy by design, so I at least imagine some grungy sludge. Also, the label is a division of Roadrunner, and although not all their bands are metal-core bands, they do tend to run in that direction. Either way, this is a short EP, and should not be too much of a challenge to get through.

Album Review: So there was not much on Wormhole, but then I discovered that they changed their name to The Wormholes, and a bit more information opened up. They even got back together last month (DEC 2014) to close down one of their locally historic pubs in Dublin, and they have been an active band since.

“Leave the Blanket In” begins with a rubberband bass riff, and gently fades up with ambient fuzz, only to rock out at about 45 seconds. Sludgy alternative guitars lay the groundwork for a droning, brooding rock song with not so much chord changes, as tonal pitch changes. The whining, crunching guitars note changes sound very minor below all the dense fog.
“44 Bulldog” has a great sounding guitar, like Track Star, with a bit of echo, but sounding metallic and crisp. The chord loop is short and catchy. The vocals drone over the guitar, but are barely intelligible, and are exhausted in their delivery. At the chorus, extra fuzzy guitars add to the density. This is a very good slacker pop song. Toward the end of the song, the lead guitar takes some liberties and flourishes, unwinding a bit, but it does not detract from the song

“Soul Searching in the Library” is a bass driven, instrumental quiet pop song as it begins, with a similar musical setting as XTC’s Battery Brides. Metal screeching guitar is present in the background, and it reminds me of the Pixies as well.
“Little Miss’s” percussive tempo is laid down with a tambourine/cymbal cadence, which abruptly stops to allow for distortion of noise and vocals, like a poorly transmitted hand held radio signal. Then the Pavement like vocals kick in with the chugging rhythm guitar. The distortion revisits for a break and brings  the music to a stop. This precession repeats, and the Pavement-esq
“New” starts out like a band warming up for practice, with some miscellaneous sounds and a very garage band style guitar check, which is the opposite of the band’s recorded style. Then the droning guitars kick in and the pained, slacker vocals set in. The lead guitar hook is quite loud, piercing and walks a fine line of annoying. The song progresses itself into a wall of screeching sound and never comes back to the melody. It wavers in and out of audible tension, and then the rhythm guitar comes back with the melody, a bit of vocal and then it crashes into a huge wall of sound, My Bloody Valentine style. The stumbling, hand dragging melody repeats, like some of the fuzzier, noisier Imperial Teen songs, and then it just decides to end.

Stand Out Track: 44 Bullfrog

Links:
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Irish Music Data Base

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rovers 3 - s/t

Name: Rovers 3
Album: s/t
Year: 1963
Style: Vocal Group, Folk, Bluegrass
Similar Bands: Kingston Trio, Bachelors
One Word Review: Old Time Vaudevillian Troubadours
Based Out Of: Haddonfield, NJ
Label: self-released
 Rovers 3 Cover & Record
Rovers 3 Back & Record
Rovers 3 (1963)
  1. Battle Cry 2:49
  2. One More Time 2:45
  3. Mountain Dew 2:43
  4. Searchers Wind 2:39
  5. Holler Tree 2:01
  6. Of Coming Home Safely 4:20
  7. New Frontier 2:17/
  8. At Home You Sit And Cry 3:07
  9. Medley of Sea Chants (Capital Ship / Prayer / Rollin' Home / The Whale) 8:04
  10. His Return 4:40
  11. Hammer Song 2:49

Album Rating (1-10): 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Bruce Robinson - Banjo, writer, Vox
Pete Schaff - Guitar, Vox
Donald Grimme - Vox
Lem - Artwork

Unknown-Ness: I've never heard of the band. But I imagine I’m pretty close to my estimate when I guess it was a male vocal group focusing on traditional or folksy numbers. I don’t imagine much variance in the style song to song, but I imagine it will be solid. I like the simple hand drawn artwork, too.

Album Review: There was not much research out there on this trio, but I did find that they were all 1964 Haddonfield High School graduates, and with this being recorded and released in 1963, was before they moved on. That’s a pretty bold thing, to release an album while still in Highschool. Apparently, Schaff has the mastered tapes, and has created a couple copies of the album, as well as other material they recorded about the same time for sale via e-mail contact.

“Battle Cry” begins as one would imagine the traditional song to, with a rolling marching drum. The revolutionary sing along is well done with rich harmonic melodies clearly recorded in the forefront, and bolstered by folksy banjo. After two rushed verses, the song slows down for a more sentimental variant on the same melody. It begins to pick up toward the end, bringing it back to the energetic rollicking melody from the beginning.
“One More Time” starts with a relaxing moonlight river rowboat guitar and a gently swaying melody. It is a very calm and harmonized wandering love song.
“Mountain Dew” is a traditional song, with an obvious stand in term for bootlegged liquor, and the song features energetic vocals and plucked banjo, giving the image of the song sung on a southern country shack porch. There are playful and well timed hoots and hollers in the background. The melody is a short campfire sing-a-long. The song ends with a harmonized crescendo of the title, with a “whoopee” thrown in for good measure. I have to include the fact that Ween does a great version of a variant of this song.
“Searchers Wind” is a solo sung love ballad, with deep vocals and an enchanting guitar. The accompanying vocals only offer a light hum in the background.
“Holler Tree” is a group sung folk song with energetic banjo and lively vocals. It is a simple, repeating and rolling melody, but that is all you need when it is done this well.
“Of Coming Safely Home” has a slow, deep, vocal only intro, and it blossoms into a smooth, poetic folk song. It has a nice combined melody, where one voice out of the group will break out of the pack to offer his solo. It is bold and confident. The song begins to slow down, as if to end, but it only serves as a vocal transition to a similar yet different section, before returning to the familiar group vocals with the one breakout spot lit vocal.
“New Frontier” starts as a harmonized acapela. Then the banjo is added, and the vocalists take turns for the verses, but all come together for the chorus. The song slows down a little to a steady marching pace, which quickly winds down to an all-stop when the song ends

“At Home You Sit And Cry” is a psychedelic folk apology to a girl left behind. It creates a smooth and windswept setting of departure and excitement of journey from the singer’s perspective. It gives the image of an era of discovery and pre-automobiles; heading out west on a wagon.
“Medley of Sea Chants” contains 4 songs, all sea shanties. The first is a bit Popeye like with a bunch of speed up and slow down transitional sections. The next part to the medley is a quieter solo ballad. It builds in volume and the soothing guitar plays on a 3-note loop. It quiets down into whistles and the third section begins with a single voice singing a solemn melody coupled with haunting oh-oh’s in the background, and it tells of rolling home to England. Then a brash transition of energy and a spark of emotion start the fourth section of the song, which is a story about brave sailors that encountered a whale. It is a show tune style song.
“His Return” shifts back to a solemn emotion, with a western prairie whistle highlighting the melody in the background. The harmonized vocals transition in and out of group vocals into solo singers once in a while. For a song predicting a soldier’s return home, the tone is very sad and reserved, perhaps preparing for the worst.
“Hammer Song” is the familiar Pete Seeger “If I Had A Hammer” song. There is a bit of optimism in the song, and the first verse features hammer head on steel metronome percussion. This is swapped out for drum and banjo in the second verse. The third verse quiets down a little more, and is a little more soulful. After the third verse, the vocals come together in a harmonized melody that grows in boldness and strength. 

Stand Out Track: Mountain Dew

Links: 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

911 - Dial 911

Name: 911
Album: Dial 911
Year: 1981
Style: New Wave
Similar Bands: Cretones, Survivor, Mad At The World
One Word Review: Dark Synth Power Metal
Based Out Of: Philadelphia, PA
Label: World Wide Records
 Dial 911 - Cover, Liner Photo, Record
Dial 911 - Back, Liner Notes, Record
Dial 911 (1981)
  1. Working Hard 3:39
  2. Final Connection 3:29
  3. Gamma Radio 3:43 /
  4. Dial 911 3:04
  5. Social Risk 2:50
  6. Bound & Determined 3:24
Album Rating (1-10): 6.5

Members & Other Bands: X
Joe McSorely - Producer, Engineer (Reds, Shades)
John Masi - Vox, Guitar, Lyrics
Dan Michael - Bass & Vox
Michael Rosato - Piano, Synth, Vox
Dave Columbo - Drums, Percussion, Vox
 Mike Lafferty - Asst. Engineer
Ted Jensen - Mastering
Ken Goodman - Managment
Dave Taylor - Equipment
James Scully - Equipment
Richard Menaquale - Equipment
Anthony Ordille - Equipment
Steve Werblun - Logo Design
CWAM 3 / Mohacey - Photography
Kimberlee Sautter - Album Design
Odile Soroka - Album Design

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band. I picked it up, surprisingly, because it is from a bit later of an era than I usually buy. But I liked the simple cover and back, it is a short EP, they are local to Philly, and I like the energy in the liner sleeve’s photos. From the photos, I’d guess they are a typical new wave, pub rock band.

Album Review: Not much is available about these guys out there on the world wide web, even for a record label called world wide records. The one site with a very brief band description (selling a copy of the record) claims them to be Synth Punk / New Wave.

“Working Hard” has a zoomy intro with synth effects and new wave-power pop melody. The build up to the chorus is steady, but it doesn’t deliver with the emotional release it sets up. The break down falls into the same pattern of build up without a release…instead it returns to the verse. The song continually resets itself, and never escapes a droning loop.
“Final Connection” is a pub rock power pop song with lots of new wave energy. The synth effects and what sounds like a synth drum take frontal focus in this driving, exercise montage of a song.
“Gamma Radio” is slow to build, and once it gets going, soaring electric guitars offer the imagery of an defunct & abandoned manufacturing plant. The vocals are a little deeper but still nasally as they interweave with the melody. This is the sound of sleek, yet dirty cop dramas, while still hanging on to the synthesizer. And the fluid vocals sound vaguely British.

“Dial 911” begins with a bouncy playful synth line that is quickly replaced with a zooming guitar, and them it changes to a different synth effect melody. The song is played in a minor key, offering a desperate and abstract-like dream. Slightly evil, but mostly scared and nervous. It features a close comparison to Squeeze’s Difford/Tilbrook’s overlapping vocals in the chorus. An ambulance siren effect is incorporated into the song. This paranoid dance song changes direction to a power guitar driven song in the very end, and it includes a fade out.
“Social Risk” has a dark power guitar intro with synth effects overlaid. While the music is nervous, the vocals are taking their time while they use the instrument melody as a guide. The first set of synth effects feel more at home with softer, later 80’s adult pop.
“Bound & Determined” is a driving rock song, and it transitions to a dark metal song, with prog keyboard effects. The chorus breaks out of the gloom with sterile crystalline synth effects and a much more upbeat melody. But post-chorus, the song retreats back to the darkness, with the synth effects tagging along to give variety to the song. Overall, it sounds like a much more appealing version of the christian group Mad at the World.

Stand Out Track: Dial 911

Links:
Discogs
Worth Point

(the) Music - Welcome to the North

Band: The Music
Album: Welcome to the North
Year: 2004
Style: Alt/Hair Metal, Brit-Pop
Similar Bands: Coldplay, Kasabian, Razorlight, Janes Addiction, Queensryche, Muse, Slaughter, Mr. Big, Franz Ferdinand, 
One Word Review: Updated Soaring Hair Metal
Based Out Of: Kippax, Leeds, UK
Label: Capitol
 Welcome to the North - Cover & Liner Notes/Photos
Welcome to the North - Liner Notes/Photos 
Welcome to the North - Liner Notes/Photos  
Welcome to the North - Liner Notes/Photos 
Welcome to the North - CD, Back and Cover Sticker
Welcome to the North (2004)
  1. Welcome to the North 5:10
  2. Freedom Fighters 3:44
  3. Bleed From Within 6:28
  4. Breakin' 3:58
  5. Cessation  3:51
  6. Fight the Feeling 4:12
  7. Guide 4:13
  8. Into the Night 3:59
  9. I Need Love 3:46
  10. One Way In, No Way Out 3:50
  11. Open Your Mind/The Walls Get Smaller (Hidden) 12:00
Album Rating (1-10): 5.5

Members & Other Bands:
Brendan O'Brein - Producer, Mixing
Nick DiDia -Recording
Karl Egsieker - Second Engineer
Billy Bowers - Additional Engineering
Phil Martin - Assistant Engineer
Bob Ludwig - Mastering
Peter Saville - Creative Consultant
James Greenhow - Art Direction & Design
Tom Skipp - Art Direction & Design
Rachel Thomas - Set Design
Dan Tobin Smith - Cover Photography
Coalition Management - Managment
Ron Laffitte - A&R
Robert Harvey - Vox, Guitar (the Streets, The D.O.T)
Adam Nutter - Guitar
Stuart Coleman - Bass
Phil Jordan - Drums (Insense)

Unknown-ness: I’m not really sure why I bought this. But it was definitely the fact that it was on sale at Tower Records for the obscenely low price somewhere between 1.50 – 2.99. I’m sure I also either heard a couple of tracks there to want to buy the album, or I read comparisons of them to other Brit-Pop bands. But after that, I don’t really remember listening to the album or what any of the songs are like. 2004 puts it in the angular-chord heavy brit pop genre, but I’m not 100% sure. I’m gonna go with that, though for my guess.

Album Review: This band was, at one point, labeled the best unsigned band in Britain. But after two albums that saw a good deal of success, and a third of less praise (along with a singles & EP comp), the band called it quits in 2011. Part of the strain on the band was the singer’s addiction to drugs and later, alcohol. He cleaned up, but they never regained the momentum of the first two albums. The album does not really qualify as Brit-Pop, as it is louder, and heavier than what is typically defined as Brit-pop. The vocals are nasally and high and soar over the music rather than follow calculated melodies or hooks. The album is pretty bad.

“Welcome to the North” features a fuzzy distortion and a looping acoustic guitar in the beginning. It then blasts off with heavier guitars and a driving drum beat and nasally Janes Addiction-like vocals that just soar. At the base of it, there is a Franz Ferdinand style rhythm, but it is buried down beneath anthemic arena rock. The verse, if it stood alone, would categorize the band as Nu-Metal.
“Freedom Fighters” was the first single from the album. It begins with a “Life Is A Highway”/ “Ragdoll” drumbeat. Then aggressive guitars are layered overtop, and the high echoing vocals further cement the genre in metal/rock, rather than catchy brit-pop. The lead guitar in the instrumental tries to pull the style back into brit-pop territory, but it is too little and is outnumbered.
“Bleed From Within” starts with a quiet guitar looped in watery echo. The vocals begin in a power ballad style, reminding me of Queensryche. This is what Muse would be like without British Influence. I feel like this was a little ahead of its time, since this is the emo, angsty brooding style of music I’d expect to be used as background music for a tense CW show. It ends in a march of sorts, repeating lines, and reminds me briefly of some of XTC’s early vocal remixes.
“Breakin'” was also a single from the album. The song still features a heavy, buzzing electric guitar, but it follows a much more Brit-Poppy melody. The verse features more soaring vocals, which don’t sound very promising, but when it reaches the chorus, they tighten up and bolster the melody, rather than work against it, creating an almost catchy song. There is a bit of a jungle element in the percussive melody, and the breakdown features syllables of the vocals dissected and edited back together. But at the root of the song, the driving element is the “Eh-Oh’s” that repeat in the background throughout most of the song.
“Cessation” is driving in a head down sprint, The Rifles sort of way. The vocals are never changing aggressive, and go through twice before visiting the chorus, which is a dual layered in-the-round style that never lets the pace down. In fact, if anything the vocals get more intense after the chorus for a brief section.
“Fight the Feeling” slows things down with a dreamy and dark waltzing melody with slow drums, and sorrowful vocals that still soar. The guitar brightens the song up a little once it is added on the second round through, but it is still a song in mourning.

“Guide” starts out with an electric wavering pulse of a guitar. The vocals are much more sedated in a good way, and the actual melody in the back feels like classic pop. The vocals do eventually break out of their “slump,” especially in the hair metal like chorus (Mr. Big) but return in the next verse. In the end, the song cannot be saved
“Into the Night” is quieter and feels introspective. The chorus attempts to gain power and bump the song up to an aggressive, emotional tune (reminds me of After the Rain for no real reason)
“I Need Love” has a bit of a Brit-Dance-pop sound at the intro, with the hook sounding like a six-noted alarm and a danceable drum beat.  Even the vocals in the chorus sound like a repetitive alarm.
“One Way In, No Way Out” slowly stomps forward with an unstable drum beat, setting the pace for a wobbling, unsteady tempo. The song gains balance with the electric guitars and continues to soar with the slowish-stomping pace.
“Open Your Mind” wraps up the album with a calmer voice that reminds me of James at the beginning. Then the soaring emo enthusiasm sets in for the chorus and the song launches into an anthemic, echoing sing-a-along. This is the song that shaking young girls sing along to with all their might while clutching their hands together in front of their heart. It becomes a bombastic, powerful soapbox song toward the end, and at the 4 minute mark, it is over
“The Walls Get Smaller” is the hidden instrumental track on the album so at the 6 minute mark on track 11, it begins with a quiet guitar playing a sad, yet sinister melody to itself. A cold, eerie woodwind melody is overlaid, and the song treads a fine line between metal and prog rock. After a while of melody exploration, guitars overpower the song and take over as the driving force. Their energy increases into a wall of fury and the drums join the intense crescendo. It fades out into a residual hum and ends the album non-climactically. 

Stand Out Track: Breakin'

Links:
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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Moonpools & Caterpillars - Lucky Dumpling

Name: Moonpools & Caterpillars
Album: Lucky Dumpling
Year: 1995
Style: Alternative
Similar Bands: Cranberries, Belly, Bjork, Velocity Girl, Veruca Salt, Letters To Cleo, Juliana Hatfield, Frente, Sixpence None the Richer
One Word Review: Hiccupy Alt-Pop
Based Out Of: Glendale/LA California
Label: Instant Record, Elektra, Warner Communications, Time Warner, WEA International, Eastwest
Lucky Dumpling - Cover, CD, Inner Photo and Back
Lucky Dumpling - Liner Song List, CD Tray
Lucky Dumpling - Lyrics
Lucky Dumpling - Lyrics
Lucky Dumpling - Liner Notes
Lucky Dumpling - (1995)
  1. Hear 3:19
  2. Ren 4:10
  3. Soon 4:24
  4. Trampleing Rose 4:20
  5. Colossal Youth 3:51
  6. Summertime 2:48
  7. Heaven 3:52
  8. Sundays 4:05
  9. Traveling Song 3:57
  10. The Buick 2:18
  11. Koo Koo Koo 3:37
  12. Jubilee 4:49
  13. Crazy Old World 3:33
Album Rating (1-10): 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Tim DePala - Bass
Jay Jay Encarnacion - Guitars (Fight, Tony Monaco, Brassknucks, Lost Sounds)
Kimi Ward - Vox, Harmonica
Gugut Salgodo - Drums & Percussion
Richard Gottehrer - Producer
Jeffery Lesser - Co-Producer, Recording, Mixing
John Yates - Engineer
Chris Laidlaw - Engineer
Greg Calbi - Mastering
John Heiden - Package Design
David Sheldon - Illustrations
Annalisa - Photography
Lara Hill - A&R
Scott Ross - Management

Unknown-ness: I must have read an article with them prominently displayed in CMJ Music Monthly back in 1995, because this has been sitting on my cd shelf for years, and I don’t remember why I bought it or what it sounds like. I do enjoy the Ren & Stimpy like Log advert artwork, and I appreciate the one band member wearing a Spam shirt…both of these things spoke to me back in 95. I expect it to be some sort of happy pop music, with fun, sweet hooks and polite accents. Maybe J-pop.

Album Review: M&C had minor success when they were first out in 95 when this album came out, but noting to hold the attention of the public or the record company. Some songs of theirs were used in commercials and movies, and they were one of the biggest bands of Philippine descent, featuring two heavy hitting producers (Gottehrer = Blondie, Go-Go’s & Lesser = Lou Reed, Barbara Streisand). The album is a product of its era, and was created to jump on the bill of bands with eccentric female vocals to acompany polite alternative-produced songs.

“Hear” was licensed by Volkswagen. It starts with a Ned’s Atomic Dustbin like bass line, and then crashes into a Letters to Cleo melody. There is a little Cranberries inflection in her voice, but the music is entergetic alt-pop.The vocals are also a little like Alanis Morsette. After 2 sections of verse chorus, the song lightens up and resets itself to rebuild into the chorus again. I remember this song after hearing it again now.
“Ren” begins like a Julianna Hatfield 3 song with a dreamy, loopy melody. The female vocals ride up and down in range at the chorus. This song is more dream pop, and lacks the energy of the first song. There are a lot of chosen hiccups in her voice, which give it almost a yodeling quality.  
“Soon” is brought in with a slow drum beat, and has more Irish style female vocal inflections, and the song floats along as a fuzzy ballad. The end of the song transforms her vocals with an echo enhancement and a harmonica is added to folk things up.
“Trampling Rose” keeps the moonlight ballad feeling going with this watery, row-boat at midnight acoustic guitar loop. The vocals to this song remind me of Juliana Hatfield and Frente. The chorus is a bit stompy and uses the hooting vocal explorations.
“Colossal Youth” begins very pop-punky with a fast, driving Blink 182-ish guitar hook. Once the vocals start, the instruments are pulled back, and gently added back in and it builds up to the chorus, which makes the song feel like something that would have been featured as a Buffy the Vampire Slayer-Nightclub band. The instrumental is highlighted with the electric guitar echoing and playing with the established melody.
“Summertime” was used in Disney’s Babysitters club. It begins with the familiar “Low Rider” harmonic hook. Bass is the heavy carrier for this song, sounding a little like a New Order bassline. It gently glides along, threatening to rock out with energy, but never quite reaching the peak potential.
“Heaven” is a straight up ballad, with an acoustic guitars playing an “I can’t help falling in love with you” melody. The vocals are cutesy and full of life, and walking a fine line of country. This would be the slow dance at the rock show or middle school dance.

“Sundays” kicks in with conga drums, and a tribal chorus singing “Hey-Ya” in the background. The organic spirit is removed once the lead vocals come in. They are mixed up a little too shiny and bright, as the music takes a big back seat to their spotlight. I feel like I may have heard this song too, elsewhere in the past. After a couple of tramples through the verse chorus mix, the backing vocals are brought back to compete with the lead in a cohesive blend.
“Traveling Song” slows it back down with reserved vocals, and a slow, methodic melody. About 1:45, it kicks in (ever so slightly) with heavier guitars and drums, and she experiments with the rollicking and expressive mountain side vocals. The fuzzy guitars stick with the rest of the song, keeping the bar raised.
“The Buick” is a start stopping momentum song at its heart. For short periods, the fuzzy guitars and extra drum licks add in a constant tempo. The vocals, while still sung, are delivered with more of a spoken word, poetic delivery.
“Koo Koo Koo” is so much a jangly, college radio style song that I expect to hear Michael Stipe come in at any second. But after the intro, the guitars give way to vocals and bass/drum’s slow tempo movement. The jangles come back in to support the chorus, and cut out again when it gets to the next verse.
“Jubilee” is a light song with precious Juliana Hatfield style vocals, with a “Walk on the Wildside” bassline. The song jumps into the fast stream at about 2 minutes in with a quickly sung part with vocal skatting and instruments that match the pace and intensity. The song exhausts itself and retreats back to the calm intro style. It finds a middle ground of anthemic intensity and singing in the round to end the song.
“Crazy Old World” ends the album with a very quiet guitar intro and vocals that maintain a quiet volume with small bursts of emotional loudness. The second round of verse finds a jangly guitar and steady drum beat added. It builds to a Sixpence None the Richer climax and just ends the album there.

Stand Out Track: Hear

Links:
WIki

Friday, January 9, 2015

Moods for Moderns - Loud & Clear

Band: Moods for Moderns
Album: Loud & Clear
Year: 2001
Style: Power Pop, Indie, Garage
Similar Bands: New Pornographers, Chisel, Posies, Big Star, Weezer
One Word Review: 1-D 70's Power Nuggets
Based Out Of: Detroit, MI
Label: Doghouse Records
 Loud & Clear - Cover & Track List
 Loud & Clear - Liner Photo & Back
 Loud & Clear - CD, Inner Fold Out
Loud & Clear - Liner Notes & Lyrics
Loud & Clear (2001)

  1. Lust for Luster 5:02
  2. Whatever She's Doin' 4:38
  3. Popstar 2:41
  4. Slacker Ways 4:23
  5. Two Tracks Left 2:42
  6. Only on a Saturday Night 3:28
  7. Runaround 2:57
  8. Candy Apples 2:46
  9. So Long Canada 3:41
  10. Long Distance Dedication 3:49
Album Ratings (1-10): 8.0

Members & Other Bands:
Nate Beale - Vox, Guitar, Percussion, Hammond, Wurlitzer (Dirty Sweet, Blondfire)
Ben Force - Bass, Vox, Percussion (King for a Day, Koufax, Bulldog)
Dave Shettler - Drums, Hammond, Vox, Percussion, Moog, Farfisa (Koufax, Sights, Saturday Looks Good to Me, Nathaniel Mayer, Andre Williams, Scott Morgan, Paul Collins, Brian Olive)
Jim Diamond - Vox, Percussion, Organ, Producer
Dirk Hemsath - Percussion (Transcend, Majority of One, Upwelling)
Emily Lazar - Mastering
Bryan Sheffield - Photography

Unknown-Ness: So I bought this for a buck just because the name is taken from Elvis Costello. That's really it. I imagine the band to have that sort of sound, with a Who influence (thanks to the cover art). But I imagine this band will really sound like the early 00's young indie garage bands like Redwalls or Rooney.  Unfortunately the liner notes and lyrics are not complete due to the water damage to the case. CD looks to be in fine shape, though.

Album Review: Not much out there about this short lived band. Many of the musicians went on to form other projects, but nothing was that notable. They excel at trying to capture that 70’s power pop ‘garage vibe that is just as fun to watch and listen to as it must be to play. It is a solid piece of nostalgia done well, but it is lacking one punchy, unidentifiable thing that would make it shine beyond the one dimension.

“Lust for Luster” begins the album with a fade up of a garage rock guitar hook and rollicking bass line. Once the song really kicks in, I can see the comparisons of power pop heros Big Star. Also a less shiny Jellyfish. Short harmonies punctuate each verse, and the chorus is a two note harmony as well. There are a bunch of sections to this song that flow into each other quite seamlessly. And the song could go on forever, but they cut it short with a fade out without any loss of intensity.
“Whatever She's Doin'” was one single from the album. And it continues the mid 7’s power pop spirit alive with chords and a Weezer like melody from verse into the chorus. It also reminds me of a favorite short lived band called the Realistics. After a couple run throughs of verse-chorus, they employ hand claps for percussion, and later a cowbell and whiny electric guitars for an instrumental whine down.
“Popstar” was the B-Side to “WSD.” Is a side to side bouncy pop/folk song. The vocals are slightly distorted with a minor megaphone/echo effect. The tempo slows down in the chorus with a harmonized section, and it picks back up. It has continual starting and stopping of the tempo.
“Slacker Ways” continues the happy, shiny power pop, with a pretty aggressive (yet fully harmonized) stomping chorus. There is also a small use of synth to bolster the melody. At about the 2 minute mark, they abandon music and just showcase the melody with an acapela  measure with handclaps in support. After the instrumental, they cut back the driving tempo for a sleepy time swaying melody…but not for long until they kick it back in. This song feels like a waking up from a coma of what the slacker alternative era was like. The guitars don’t have much distortion, the vocals are alive and harmonic and the chords are punchy and catchy.
“Two Tracks Left” was the first single they released that predates this album. After the power pop intro, the song takes more of a singer songwriter guitarist direction, where the vocals are left out there by themselves, with no competition from the instruments.  

“Only on a Saturday Night” finds an Elvis Costello style organ to play a fun power pop melody. The song does a nice job building anticipation, and has a nice wash that delivers the chorus quite enjoyably. I think the song has too much going on to figure out what to enjoy most and pay attention to…the organ, the pounding guitars, the harmonies or the main melody. It is a good song at its root, but it is just too busy.
“Runaround” begins with a country music angle with steel guitar featured overtop pub room power pop. It reminds me a little of the late 70’s early 80’s pub rock like the A’s. It is sung in a little snottier and nasally manner than the other songs. Still has come nice whoo-hoo-hoo harmonies and toward the end, it used the organ, but it feels like it is trying to change gears form the country pub song in the beginning to a new wave power pop song in the middle. It converts back to the countrified melody at the very end, however.
“Candy Apples” sounds like it is a 69’s bubblegum pop song coming in over a radio. It is recorded in with a muted, swampy, low fi sound. The effect of the production over top of the organ gives it a little bit of a psychedelic feel. It glides itself along on the one dimensional idea, and even with harmonized Ah-Ah-Ah’s, it doesn’t climb out of mediocrity.
“So Long Canada” starts with a slow melody, then transitions to a snotty stomping march. It has a side to side swagger, and could be produced to sound like a pop-punk song if they chose.
“Long Distance Dedication” is a slow-dance with a light garage rock edge. It again uses the technique of sounding like it was recorded with echoing vocals through a lo fi radio, giving a spacey large vacant room feeling. This sounds like the band’s sound check before the auditorium filled up with prom kids.  

Stand Out Track: Whatever She's Doin'

Links:
Allmusic
Popmatters
Discogs
Power Pop Overdose
Lockerdome