Memory​/​Monument & blissful ugly by Mormon Toasterhead

Clarice Listpector once wrote: “Things were somehow so good that they were in danger of becoming very bad because what is fully mature is very close to rotting” 

That’s basically where I’m at with all of this.

2015: I was 23. I was writing music reviews without a care in the world. I had opinions and I was happy to share. I lived in Chicago. Things were great. The traffic was flowing in.

2017: I am 25. I am miserable. Literally no opinions. Literally bad taste. No traffic. No review. Things are bad. I live in stupid Hollywood. How did this happen?

I am rotting from the inside out like dumb fruit. I play video games and cry some days. Other days I punch palm  trees until my knuckles bleed.

In my time of desperation, I return to you, dear readers, and you, dumb musicians. I return to my most recent memory of The Happy. Forgive me.

Hey Ben. Ben Klawans. Yeah, you.

You thought you got away with it didn’t you?

Thought you could gaaaame the system.

You went over 2 years without being noticed.

I bet at first you lost sleep over the guilt. I bet at first you were lookin over your shoulder every day. But by now, you’re probably sleepin just fine, huh? You probably think you’re home clear.

Fuckin wrong, bozo. I found you out:ben.PNG

This is some shit, B.

I have over 700 albums to review. seh-ven-hun-dred-al-bums-beeeeen.

And you thought you could sneak in two? People have been waiting YEARS for me to review their work and you want me to review two albums? Fuck outa here with that yahoo email address man.

Are your albums both beautiful and haunting reminders of what  it means to grow up and be nostalgic for what no longer can be? Maybe. But 2 rights do not correct a wrong, Ben.

“2+5=i” is a bad lyric. Please review and amend.

Sorry. I mean, I think I’m being a little unfair. Does your music remind of my own aging body and it’s inability to escape the entropy of the universe? Sure. Am I forced to find meaning in the mundane day-to-day and live every day as if there are none left because of your music? I mean, sure, I guess. So like, I guess what I mean to say is that I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed. Really fucking disappointed.

“Life is weird, but so is death”. Word, Ben. Word.

 

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Can of Worms by A Mammoth Task

Clarice Lispector once wrote: “The world’s continual breathing is what we hear and call silence.”

Can of Worms by A Mammoth Task fucks this up by making a lot of noise.

This stupid album from 2015 is full of tracks that go “wank-a-tank-tankity-tank” and “wham-bam-a-lam-tam” but all of this is less profound than the deafening silence that mere existence stands to offers.

For every album, a good reviewer ought to imagine himself trapped in a small white room for all eternity. He should then ask, “would I prefer this eternal prison to be silent, or would I prefer to listen to Can of Worms by A Mammoth Task on repeat for my infinite sentence?” The answer to this question is the answer to the review.

SIDE-NOTE this album largely utilizes only the WESTERN 12-TONE SCALE and is therefore RATHER BORING BY MOST OBJECTIVE STANDARDS. Lol wake the fuck up guys it’s 2017.

hello it me i’m bac.

The Sacrifice (Blog Curse Broken) featuring Atlas and the Astronaut

Here’s the thing. I wanted to write so many album reviews over the last 6 months. I really did! I received hundreds of emails from talented, interesting musicians. I wanted to give you feedback! I wanted to support you.

But this blog was cursed.

I don’t know how it happened—maybe I gave a bad review to a witch, maybe Pitchfork employed a witch to eliminate me as their main competitor. Both seem equally likely. At any rate, the curse did that thing where every time I intended to write a blog, I would have to pee and then forget about the blog. You know that thing that curses do?

But today is HALLOWEEN which means I can BREAK THIS CURSE. But as you probably know, breaking curses requires blood to be spilled.

So here’s what has to happen, one album to be reviewed must be sacrificed. That means that the album in question will become the ONE ALBUM that will NEVER BE REVIEWED on this blog NO MATTER WHAT.

To be clear, I will listen to this album in full, I will take notes on this album, and I will form an opinion on this album. But I will not publish a review, and I will not share any opinions or feedback with the submitting band. It’s the only way to break the curse.

By random selection, the album in question is:

Hot Garbage, Hot Trash by Atlas and The Astronaut.

Consider this album officially sacrificed. Pay your respects, and look forward to new reviews.

Ardath by Birth Day

By: Derek Spencer

Ardath is as elusive an album title as I have encountered. A smattering of google searches reveals a British tobacco company as the only catalogued namesake, implying that Ardath is an album named either for it’s destructive and addictive qualities, or otherwise as reference to something personal and decidedly unobtainable. The impalpable name suits the 5-track EP all the same, perhaps augmenting the conceit of mysterious dystopia that LA-based musician Birth Day seems intent on summoning. Deconstructed pop pairs with discordant ambient on Birth Day’s unsettling 2016 debut.

Opener “Link’d” best demonstrates Birth Day’s palette, consisting of icy dissonance, glitched-out synths, and phantasmal filtered-vocals. Tension builds as the voice of yesterday’s fallen popstar rises in classic zombie fashion. On “Bedroom Jester”, Birth Day continues to play with distance and depth, as a single alto melody gives way to the croons of dozens of fettered specters, each presumably a fractured bit of singer/producer Sonya Lanelle Chávez.

The percussive elements of Ardath leave enough propulsion for listeners to dance, but only in the way that dancing can be a mental exercise: a way of answering a question or exploring a thought. With tracks like “blind” and “Seashore”, each clocking in around one minute and devoid of distinct rhythmic features, it’s easier to think of Birth Day as walking us through a process or along a path, as opposed to imagining that Chávez’s vision lies in any one place for long.

Demonstrating a surprising command over dynamics and composition, Birth Day will hopefully have the opportunity to flesh out her work on longer, more immersive releases. For now, Ardath serves as a seductive taste-test, successfully tempting listeners toward some unknown end.

People Named Michael pt 3

By: Derek Spencer

Do you do drugs? Are you transgressive? Are you blasé about your transgressiveness? Do you have daddy issues? Are you into lo-fi? Do you like samples? Do your daddy issues cause you to make lo-fi renditions of your dad’s favorite bands? Do you own a bell set? Do you use overdrive and eq plugins to make things sound more lo-fi than they actually are? Have you ever mic’d up an electric guitar not plugged into an amp? Are you so blasé that you sit in your dorm shower and look upward expectantly? Are you so blasé that you use a picture of you sitting in a dorm shower and looking upward expectantly as your album art for a very blasé collection of songs? Do you use samples? Are you infatuated with the melancholy side of mundanity? Do you think smoking weed helps you write good songs? Do you use samples in your lo-fi indie rock? Do you try to demonstrate the puttering pace of your post-adolescent life by setting the bpm of each track to “cough syrup”? Do you break the law? Is your stand-out track called “Lonely Walks in Tangier”? Is it about walking with a person who quotes Faulkner? Are you too blasé to recall said Faulkner quote? Do you live in a literal swamp? Are you indebted to existential philosophy and contemporary cinema in ways that you have yet to discover? Are you ultimately trying to be Bob Dylan by doing only things Bob Dylan wouldn’t do? Are you alone when you’re around other people, even your dear uncle Jesse? Do you believe that pain in the world is only kind of bad, and sometimes you even think that pain in the world is a good thing? Do you sometimes try to emulate pain in your art by making the listener suffer? Have you taken acid to try and make an important decision? Have you played basketball for longer than you planned to because it’s what your friends did but then you started to enjoy it and now you still sometimes play basketball casually? Do people tell you that you mutter? Do you think you’re slightly funnier than people give you credit for, which is to say you think your sorta funny and other people think you’re only kinda funny? Have you ever made a meme? Have you ever pronounced “meme” as “me-me” as a joke? Did you ever imagine that playing ukulele would lead to you having more sex than if you didn’t play ukulele? Did you get a cell phone slightly later than your peers? Did it affect you? Did the pond run out of water? Muddle into decay? Did the kitten purr? Did the mermaid slurr? Do you know the way out? Do you know the way out? Does the moon beckon? Did you write a song about it? Did you write a song about writing a song about the moon beckoning? Will you someday read this series of questions to a group of people as an act of self-indulgent performance art about mediated art and the interesting yet futile role criticism plays in the digital world? Will it be good? Have you ever listened to your own album in full? Did you like it? Did you wonder if you’d be the only person to ever listen to all of the songs in order and give each one their full attention, the way you meant them to? Did you imagine that maybe 100 people might do this? 1,000? Did it make you feel good and sick? Did it make you want to record another album? Did it make you feel okay eventually? Did it hurt? Did you forget that pain is good? Are you scared? Are you scared? Are you scared? Did you write an album before called Die Until Ur Not Alive Anymore?  Did it get reviewed here, 2 weeks ago? Are you great? Are you a prime example of a Michael? Are you my favorite Michael?

 

If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then you are Michael Byrne, aka Dirty Mike, aka the genius Michael behind Latin is Latin for Latin. Congrats!

People Named Michael pt. 2

By: Derek Spencer

Michael Holloway

I recognize that you asked for a review nearly one year ago upon release of your band’s ep Pine EP. Understandably, press on your album would have been much appreciated last year! Hopefully we can get you that press bump you deserve though, eh?

The band is Hodari, everyone. While the band has 5 members, it looks like our friend Michael (or “Mike” as he goes by in the scene) is the guitar player! As such, I think it’s only appropriate that we talk exclusively about the guitars on this 3-song collection.

Let’s start with tone. You’re rocking this throwback post-hardcore sound—scooped out distortion, doubled tracks, slight feedback, chunky leads, and abrasively clean chordal interludes. This is a tone I can get behind, but it can be limiting. Mike, I’m sure Hodari isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel on Pine, but let’s try to be a little forward thinking, eh? Why would I listen to your 2007 guitar tone when I could just listen to some good old 2007 bands? How are you translating this sound for today’s audience? How do you expect people to hear your ideas when they can’t get past your form? These are the critical questions you need to be asking yourself when pouring over your pedalboard.

Just for fun, I’m going to take an oddly specific guess at your guitar rig: Ibanez RGA—>PedalTrain mini pedal board with the following chain: TC Tuner, Boss Distortion, Big Muff fuzz, MXR Dynamic Compression—->Orange Crush 2×12 Guitar combo. If I got *any* of these right, please let me know. I’m worried I might be overestimating your budget.

Anyways, let’s move on to your parts. Good job writing them! There are a lot of octave leads… maybe you could try mixing it up a bit? I’m pictures bossa nova-esque clean, chromatic, staccato solos—does that resonate with you at all? Well, you didn’t fuck up, that’s for sure! All the guitar parts make me say “This sounds like the guitar part of a post-hardcore song” so nice.

Okay, but the mix is where it turns south man… Let me ask you, Mike: are you a timid guy? Because I’m going to be honest, you’re getting stepped on. You think fans are coming out too see some guy in skinny jeans scream over a 4/4 rock beats? Heeeeell no. You think fans are going to buy your CD or tape or whatever if they can’t hear you wailing away on your octive leads? You gotta crank that Orange combo of yours! Rock music is about guitar. If I don’t hear guitar above EVERYTHING ELSE, well, I’d barely call that music.

If you ask me, your vocalist has an ego problem. Between you and me, screamed vocals are there for texture; they’re supplemental at best. You should be front and center, Mike. I think your vocalist needs to get checked out. And I don’t mean like for his health and I don’t mean like someone needs to look him up and down sexy-like. I mean he needs a psych eval stat because he’s suffering from a case of type II narcissism, my friend.

Nice guitars! Thanks for submitting, Mike!

Maus

Okay, so you aren’t technically a Michael. But your band showed up in my filtered search for Michael’s because you gave an extensive list of influences that included Michael Jackson so you’re gettin’ god damn reviewed. Your band is called Amanda Named Sound and considering your name is neither “Amanda” nor “Sound” but in fact “Maus”, that makes me feel not great right off the bat.

Your first song is called “Droid Dance” or something and shit does it sound nothing like Michael Jackson. I mean other than the fact that there is a vocalist singing in key. And I guess there’s like a synth somewhere deep in the mix that sounds vaguely 80’s.

Let’s take a step back. In the first sentence of your email, you clarify that “in fact I am an actual musician”. Spoken like a true Michael! To this, I say thanks for the heads up! We will take that into consideration!

The last sentence of your email reads “Their masterplan is to engage the world in an audiovisual conversation and take over the galaxy.” (bold theirs, not mine). This is a leap! In fact, I am worried! This isn’t the pseudo-fascist language of neofolk (“facism is bad, but it’s really really interesting”) nor is your band weird enough for this to be a joke in the spirit of Gwar.

Fuck sorry I don’t want to do this. I was going to riff on your email for a bit and then tell you a few nice things about your music cause your music is kinda nice. But I’m tired and doing that will require me to actually read and edit what I’ve written so far and I don’t want to do that and also you aren’t even a Michael so I’m not sure you really deserve a full review so instead I’m just going to copy and past your email here and also a bunch of your social media posts since you linked me to like 7 different social media platform. Sorry.

Hello, this is Maus, producer for Armada Named Sound (in fact I am an actual musician). 

I am sending you our electronic music ep called : ”Starchildren”. We hope that you enjoy this, and please let us know if 

a review is going to be online. This is the press release, including all the info you might need, the streaming link and our official videoclip.

Cheers!!!

ARMADA NAMED SOUND 

proudly presents:

Debut EP “Starchildren”

Online streaming link:  https://soundcloud.com/armadanamedsound/sets/starchildren

released on iTunes:https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/starchildren-ep/id98198683

(official release date 31/3/2015)

TRACKLIST:

  1. Afterdrive
  2. Fixation
  3. Droid Dance
  4. Blindvei

 

Official videoclip for “Fixation”, taken from the “Starchildren” EP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCDHhhDEtuQ

—————————–

Armada Named Sound is an electronic music band consisting of Maus and Andromeda S.

An organized retrofuture sonic attack, based in London.

Sounds and textures combined to produce songs and tunes varying from electronica and synthpop to trance/techno and trip hop.

With innovation, originality and diversity in mind, the use of synths, beats, loops and human voices brings forth sonic creations and soundscapes

with the sole purpose to intrigue you, make you dance, laugh or cry. Songs produced in several places and moments in the space time continuum.

Their music influences vary from Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, Grimes, Gwen Stefani to Bjork, Massive Attack, Portishead, as well as classical and rock

music. All these sounds are filtered through their everyday life experience and interaction with other people, abstract thoughts and ideas, and their inner self.

Their masterplan is to engage the world in an audiovisual conversation and take over the galaxy.

OFFICAL WEBSITE: http://www.armadanamedsound.com

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/armadanamedsound

SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/armadanamedsound

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfFURVALERhmE6i3tKi9UQA

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/armada_baby

VIMEO: https://vimeo.com/armadanamedsound

Armada Named Sound

January 20 ·

New song coming up: “NY”
No relation to concrete jungles where dreams are made of…
wink emoticon

Armada Named Sound with Spiros Maus andAndromeda Sfakianoy.

January 18 ·

Last night’s show on BBC, featuring “White keys and black silk”!
Have a listen here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03fczr7


Armada Named Sound
 with Spiros Maus andAndromeda Sfakianoy.

January 17 ·

“White keys and black silk” on BBC tonight!
Armada baby…
BBC Introducing ‪#‎BBCintroducing

Armada Named Sound

January 15 ·

All things electronic:
www.armadanamedsound.com
Armada Named Sound
 updated their cover photo.

January 4 · 
Armada Named Sound
 with Spiros Maus andAndromeda Sfakianoy at Αστικά Στούντιο Ηχοληψίας – Urban Recording Studios.

December 30, 2015 · Athens, Greece ·

“Crush” live in the studio
‪#‎live ‪#‎studio
shot by Valia Fotiou Photography
edited/manipulated by Maus
Armada Named Sound
 with Spiros Maus andAndromeda Sfakianoy.

December 29, 2015 ·

“Electronica wizards Armada Named Sound come out with their audio guns blazing, on their retrofuture sonic attack, Starchildren.”
http://www.crossradar.com/armada-named-sound-starchildren/
Chris@CrossRadar
https://soundcloud.com/armadanamedsound/sets/starchildren

Armada Named Sound Retweeted

DJ AATISSH~आतिश~آتش ‏@AAtisshDotCom  Jan 18Los Angeles, CA

@armada_baby Nice

Armada Named Sound ‏@armada_baby  Jan 15

Hey guys! Have a nice day .. This is our website Take a look Take a listen http://www.armadanamedsound.com 


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Leanne Oakes ‏@LeanneOakes  22 Dec 2015

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Ivanna terrys ‏@IvannaTerrys  22 Dec 2015

Sponsored: Armada Named Sound – Fixation @armada_baby https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCDHhhDEtuQ … #dem #electronic

 

 

People Named Michael

By: Derek Spencer

There’s a lot of god damn people named Michael in this world, and it feels like half of them have requested I review their god damn music. This post is for a bunch of you musicians named god damn Michael.

Michael Sterns

Hello Michael Sterns (or “Mike”, as you call yourself on your bandcamp page). I appreciate your honesty here Mike. There are a lot of people making music alone in their dorm rooms these days. It takes grit to fess up. You could have left that to my imagination, Mike, leaving me to imagine you as a solo artist with his own studio band. But you’re an honest guy, Mike, a real stand up guy.

You’re also a precise guy. Like on that song, when you sing “when I was 22/and you were 19”. Those aren’t round numbers, Mike. Those are specific numbers, and I appreciate that attention to detail. Mike, you’d be surprised how rare attention to detail is these days. Trust me, I know.

Anyways, I like your shit, Mike. You have gumption. You have real pizzaz. You pull back and push forward. Dynamics! You got em. Tone! You think about it. Real high quality stuff here Mike. You got the whole singer-songwriter thing down. I mean, sometimes I wish you were saying different words, but cringe-inducing earnestness is part of the indie game, isn’t it?

Biggest negative here has got to be these sound effects. Man. If I knew how to make memes I would do one where Bernie Sanders likes spoken word interludes and Hilary thinks it’s a good idea to put lightning sounds and alarm clocks in your tracks.

You know, you’re doing yourself a disservice by calling this album Collegiate Daydreams. That name makes me think your too young for this to be good. And maybe you are young, and maybe this isn’t good in the professional and/or critical sense, like maybe you can’t make money doing this, or like maybe you could have made money doing this but only if you had a time machine to go back and release the music years ago. But, point is, you don’t sound like a Collegiate Daydreamer, Mike. You sound like maybe a twenty-something go-getter. Or like at least, like, a graduate underachiever. You get what I’m saying, right Mike? Of course you do.

Michael Blackmond

Michael fucking Blackmond. You record under the name Dora the Destroyer, but you’re a Michael, through and through. It’s in your music. Don’t hide from that.

Anyways, Michael, I gotta hand it to you. You and Mike up there are repping the Michael crew well with your honestly. Glad to know Michaels like you are out there ready to disclose the fact that you recorded all of your prog metal songs in your living room. Thanks!

I like when you get all metal with it. The thumpity thump suits you, Michael. Sometimes, though, you get all leggity-leggi-wah with your metal, and it kinda feels like I’m playing Sonic the Hedgehog. In fact, did you score any Sonic the Hedgehog games? According to this list, you didn’t, but maybe you have an alias?

Anyways, I imagine that the word you’d like people to describe your music with is “soaring”. and I’ll give you that, Michael, sometimes this music soars. But sometimes it putters, too. Sometimes, I’m not really sure what to think. You got these Joe Satriani vibes that really take me out of my Sonic space, you know what I mean? I think you do. Oh and the synths! Really not working for me, Michael. Gotta say.

End of the day, I could see this being fuck-wit-able. I don’t think anyone will ever fuck to this music, but that’s a whole different question. Thanks Michael!

Michael Byrne!

Michael Byrne! Sausage suit in a Sam Adams! Your email says (not making this up, readers) that you go by Dirty Mike, and I think that’s god damn swell. I like how your friend is named Uncle Jesse too. The album here, folks, is Die Until Ur Not Alive Anymore… by The Raspberry Keystones.

Dirty Mike, it says in your email that you aren’t really sure what genre your music is. I think that’s a good question! It’s a little bit puzzling to me too, if I’m being totally honest. Let me say this, your music sounds like strung out teenagers rapping over Animal Collective‘s Campfire Songs. But with surprising wit (at times!)! I think we are permitted to call this “experimental”. Does that work for you?

Anyways, Dirty Mike, y’all got some promise here! Sure, we’re missing some vital production elements that might be necessary to qualify this as listenable music to the majority of the population, but what they’ll call “stupid shit” I call a “niche product”.

Middle track “Above Ground Places” stands out to me as the most captivating composition. It’s like your version of a banger.

The covers are a bit baffling, both in choice and style, but that’s okay! This EP seems like a great place for ol’ Dirty Mike and Uncle Jesse to stretch their wings and figure out what works. In this humble reviewers opinion, covering “Sleepwalker” might not be your strong suit. But now we know!

Past and Future Michaels

There are quite a few Michaels I didn’t get to here. But don’t worry! I will endeavor to review all people named Michael before anyone else gets reviewed.