Rhett Retko’s “And I Told Her So” (From the EP Thnx For The Ride) fuses classic rock’n’roll with contemporary style. This is impressively achieved without coming off as a throwback or “retro” novelty band. The musiciansmanship here is excellent, and the band works well together as a cohesive unit. It’s almost like they held a casting call / audition like The Monkees and got the best people they could find for each available spot in the group. Both performatively and aesthetically, they all seem to be on the same page, too. The music comes of as a cross between 60′s garage rock and 90′s alternative, with some contemporary influence as well. “And I Told Her So” features charismatic performances and quite nice technical guitar work. The vocals are on key and fairly dynamic, right where they should be (and I’m even basing that on the live version.) The energy and enthusiasm of Rhett Retko are contagious.
“Dark Matter” is the fourth album from Nega Blast X (a trance, techno and industrial music project formed in 2010 by Burbank Music Arranger, Author and Digital Artist Dominic R.) The album gets right down to business with the opening title track, which is high octane dance music, with an edge. It is a solid club jam, the kind of song that makes you feel like you just downed an energy drink and are off to hit the dance floor.
The album stays fairly consistent throughout, with a few nice twists. “Cutter” for example is one of those more uplifting techno songs that’s a little more cerebral, yet just when you think you have it figured out, the track transitions to some NES-like, chiptune music. I can’t explain how or why it works. It just does. “Electric Rain” has a more serious quality to it. It opens like an epic opera would be very good for a late night chase scene in a film. “Fire Bomb” and “The Fifth” are the darkest songs on the album. They’re just plain badass.
What impresses me about this album is the way the artist is able to generate emotion, mood and ambiance without lyrics or vocals to direct you. I mean maybe it helps if you have an imagination, but there’s no denying that these songs make you “feel” something and tap into your central nervous system. There are some powerful forces at work here, dark forces. My favorite song on this album, is probably “Electric Rain,” which is a beautiful musical composition and adds another dimension to this project.
Black Bluebirds describe themselves as “an electrifying power trio from Minneapolis, Minnesota.” One of their newest tracks is titled “Love Kills Slowly” and is featured on their new album “Like Blood For Music.” The style and sound is low-key reminiscent of Bowie or Freddie Mercury, but darker, more avante garde and overall a little less flamboyant. The song features some really impressive singing, with the vocalist really going all out in ways that would have given Iron Maiden a run for their money. The whole thing is a nice eclectic mix of synthpop, indie rock and (glam?) metal, performed by some real professional musicians that know what they doing.
Well well well, what do we have here? Boulder based indie hip hop artist “Foolish Ed” doesn’t present his music with a lot of slick packaging and cheesy marketing, but he does deliver in the a e s t h e t i c s department. The video for his new LoFi jam “Never the Same” features some old school anime, through a lens of retro vhs effects. The song is also quite good (though I will admit it is odd to hear someone rapping while watching these visuals.) The backing music is excellent, with the piano giving the song a rather dreary artistic appeal, while Foolish Ed’s witty honesty and melancholy delivery is refreshing and makes him strangely likable. Foolish Ed does not appear so foolish after all, as this release reveals him to be a rather heroic artist. Perhaps it is not an and/or proposition.
Los Angeles based group Luna 13 is an interesting band in that they manage to combine the ambiance of black metal with EDM, incorporating avant garde performance art qualities along the way. Recently, the band was allegedly shut down mid-performance at the Artisan Hotel in Las Vegas after some brief nudity on stage as part of a blood ritual (Vegas sure has become prudish since the days of Showgirls.)
Luna 13′s new EP “Devourer of Light” lives us to the darkness in its name. You get the idea right away with the first track, “Long Pig,” which kicks off with a cute little xylophone style intro before unleashing the gates of hell. “Long Pig” reminds me a lot of 90′s horror movie music, but in this case it is more artistic and creative and doesn’t come off as cheesy. It’s also strangely danceable, despite the unique title. “Tick Twitch Bang” is a little bit more metal, at times almost sounding like a mix between industrial, black metal and maybe even screamo,(although without any of the whiny emo lyrics.) The chorus, “Tick Twitch Bang, lost your brain, all these voices call you insane” actually manages to be kind of catchy. “Decimate” has a hypnotic quality to it. Even with a lot going on musically and some serious loudness, the vocals are somewhat soothing. I almost felt like after listening to this track like I had just been programmed to do something bad and was ready to carry out my orders. Just listen to it, and you’ll understand. The final song on the EP, “Be Your Own Master” has the best intro (and outro,) which consists of creepy circus-like music.
This band would be great to see live, particularly in a venue where a lot of unsuspecting normies would be held hostage to the performance. It would be fun to watch them twitch and squirm and then slowly, begin to enjoy it. At the end of the day, this is pretty good music that the whole family can enjoy.
Dutch band “Lou Patty” has a new 4 song EP out and has released a video for one of the tracks, “Hostile.” The first thing that struck me about “Hostile” is that the synths are just radical. I mean seriously the opening synths are awesome, and this trend continues throughout the song. As someone who has owned many synthesizers over the years this was like synth porn to me. Top quality gear and excellent usage. The band claims to have some 80′s and 90′s influences, and I must say the vocals do have a nice kind of 80′s analog vibe. The singer seems comfortably charismatic and has a fairly dynamic voice for this style of music. The mix and production quality here are also phenomenal (produced by Lou Patty & Marlon Wolterink – White Noise Studio, assistant recording credit to Freek Philippi.)
Other tracks on the EP like “Kings and Servants” or “Minute of Peace” are more guitar driven and remind me very much of late 80′s / early 90′s hard rock, with a lot of precision guitar work at alternating speeds and a kind of brooding atmosphere. The last song, “Molly Ray” almost sounds alternative musically. It’s a little lighter than the other songs and gives the vocalist a little more room to play around with.
You don’t have to listen to these recordings for very long to realize this is a professional band of seasoned musicians that know exactly what they’re doing. This entire release is excellent both technically and artistically. If you don’t believe me, give it a listen for yourself.
In the foliage
A kind token from a bird
Feather in Fall’s grass
“Feather Haiku” is one of Marie Helen’s most recent poems. She is becoming known for her seasonally themed poetry. Though short in length, this haiku is nonetheless thought provoking, offering the reader a silver lining in the changing season as we head toward the coming winter. The remnant from a bird gives a subtle reminder of summer memmories and that spring will appear once again.
Marie Helen is also a songwriter who founded the Los Angeles based band “Lyrics of Two,” (which consistently held the #1 spot on the Deli Music Charts in the category of mainstream pop in Los Angeles.) She has recently completed a book of poetry titled “Celebrating The Holidays And Seasons With Poetry And The Smaller Things In Nature.”
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Purejoypeople, a “rock’n’soul” musical duo, have just released their third EP “Southern Part of Heaven.” Recorded in Chapel Hill, NC, “Southern Part of Heaven” is meticulously well produced, as is apparent right away with the first track,”Satisfied.” The group’s vocalist, “Pure Joy,” has a terrific voice and her out front vocals drive the song soulfully and with an unassuming elegance. She belts the songs emotively and with relative ease. If she had lived in another era, she might have been a successful lounge singer. The guitars on “Satisfied” reminded me somewhat of the brooding, dark style of Chris Isaak and provide the appropriate ambiance for the theme. The remaining songs on the EP seem to also get more creative, utilizing samples and often taking things into a more indie, avant garde direction. This is a very high quality release, that doesn’t cut any corners.
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Nega Blast X describes itself as “a trance techno industrial music project formed in 2010 by Burbank music arranger and author Dominic R Daniels. Music is inspired by Daft Punk, Orbital, The Mutaytor and Eisenfunk. Sound is similar to New Order.”
The influence of New Order is apparent right off the bat in the first track of their latest album “We Want to Rock.” The opening song though, is simply titled “Want to Rock.” It very authentically captures the kind of darker, 80s electronic sound (unlike the cheesy 80s teen movie music.) The synths in “Want to Rock” bring to mind bleak, yet energetic cyberpunk action sequences or club scenes in films like Blade Runner or the original Terminator.
Other songs like Centipede (perhaps named after the classic arcade game?) seem to have a heavier, less bouncy vibe. Some have a very full and almost industrial sound. Interestingly, the band Orgy covered New Order’s song “Blue Monday,” and at times…Nega Blast X’s sound seems like a cross between the two bands.
There is quite a bit of variety in the music though. Just when I though I had “Nega Blast X” pinned down, the 6th track “For Angels That Weep” comes along and displays some added versatility. It’s very ambient and slower paced than other tracks. In there are cathedrals or other religious institutions in the future, “For Angels That Weep” is what I would imagine futuristic church music to sound like. It is very well positioned at this part of the album, to act as a kind of intermission.
The song “Technotronic” (presumably no relation to the late 80′s / early 90′s group with the hit songs “Pump Up the Jam” and “Get Up!”…or is there?) is another kind of lite-heavy-duty industrial dance jam.)
My favorite song on the album though is the final track, “Black Journey” which almost seems like it was tailor made for an 80s sci-fi/horror film soundtrack, or even as an intro to some “Tales From the Darkside” type show. It is complex, elaborate, dark and just an extremely well composed piece of music. I kind of wish it was earlier in the album because most people typically don’t listen to an entire album, so they’ll probably miss out on it. However, those that do stick around for the last track will be rewarded.
All in all, I feel like “We Want to Rock” is a solid and coherent album that knows what it wants to be and accomplishes what it sets out to do.
Based out of Oak Creek, CO, Liar’s Lantern is a recording project founded by Robert Fitzhugh (a rather prolific artist.) Liar’s Lantern has already released three albums of original musical compositions: Aphelion in July of 2016, Walk This Road With Me in March of 2017, and most recently…Petrichor in September of 2017. Normally, I would chronicle the artists musical and artistic progression through the different albums, but this represents a difficult task with Liar’s Lantern, because all three of the albums are very good.
Let’s take them one at a time. Aphelion is a groovy, indie alternative effort. The music is particularly soulful, which seems appropriate with the song titles referencing things like “metempsychosis” and “anamnesis.” I was quite fond of the tone on the guitars on this album, which offer a delicate balance of subtle twang and mild crunch. I know how difficult it can be to achieve the desired guitar tone one is looking for. It can take years of experimenting and buying, selling and trading different gear. On Aphelion, Liar’s Lantern has gotten the right sound and makes it looks easy and effortless. The lyrics often seem melancholy, but the songs still manage to be bright and uplifting somehow.
The middle child album is “Walk This Road With Me.” As the title suggests, it is less meditative reflection and takes the listener on more of a mental journey. Songs like Autumn Mountain and Mariner’s Curse connect with the listener and offer such a vivid experience, that you almost feel like you’re part of a remote viewing experiment. Another thing I noticed was the guitars have less of the rhythmic groove style on this album and slightly more of a “chimey” tone, seeming to emanate from a passionately well played acoustic guitar. Just when I thought I had picked what would be my favorite song on the album, I’d listen to another one and think, “Well gee, that’s a pretty great jam, too.” I have to say that i was most impressed by the track “Aokigahara – Three Apologies,” as it seemed the most epic and was creatively structured.
The latest release is the third album, “Petrichor.” (Note: I listened to each of these albums in the order they were created to get a sense of the artist’s progression and direction.) It would be a tall order to improve on the first two albums, which strike me as polished and professional, but one thing Petrichor does demonstrate is some added complexity to the songs. They are just slightly fuller and richer than those on the first two albums. Additionally, the melodies and instrumental combinations are much more intricate and detailed. A good example of this is “Little North Mountain,” a beautifully composed production that would seem right at home on the soundtrack of an academy award winning nature film. The tracks on Petrichor often synergistically combine the best musical elements of Aphelion and Walk This Road With Me. One thing I haven’t talked about much are the vocals. I haven’t had much to say for them, because they speak for themselves. The singer is highly capable and performs emotively. He doesn’t overwhelm you with his singing either and often chooses to let his voice take a backseat in the mix to the other instruments.
Having released three high quality albums within the timespan of less than two years, I fully expect Liar’s Lantern to keep producing new music, and I hope they do.