Category Archives: Reviews

Morrow’s Memory – Take Control

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Notable Detroit rock band, “Morrow’s Memory,” has a new EP out called “Take Control,” which features several solid tracks. They describe their music as a “mix of rock, alternative, and progressive. ” That seems about right.  The songs do have a very alternative pacing and tone but don’t come off as 90′s “retro styled” alternative throwback. They have more of a contemporary sound with some diverse influences.  While songs like Bloodlust have a heavy vibe to them, they retain their melodic appeal and never morph into simple noise. It’s a great balance.  The band has managed to get these recordings to sound very polished and of radio quality, without being ruined with unnecessary effects and excessive processing.  My favorite song on the EP was Sapphire, a catchy tune  which struck me as having potential to be a mild hit.

 

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6 Shots

kate brown 6 shots

The first thing that stands out with Kate Brown’s new single, “6 Shots” is the energy. It has a faster pacing than what I normally expect from the folk/rock genre, and it really engages you from the first second. It also isn’t depressing or bleak. The musical tone feels much more upbeat, even though the difficult subject matter deals with a caustic love and the sensationalism of violence in the media.

The singing is terrific and fits the style rather well. Kate has just the right amount of angst in her vocal delivery of these lyrics, and she doesn’t overdo it. She has a lot to be proud of with “6 Shots,” and I hope it is successful.

You can visit her website at
http://katebrownmusic.com/

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Flip That Script

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Pop singer Holly Elle’s new single “Flip that Script” is a catchy song about a girl reclaiming herself from a lover that presumably has treated her badly in the past. She’s a classically trained singer, and it’s apparent in her music, where her voice seems to direct all the action. She seems to be heavily influenced by Mariah Carey, but her style comes off slightly more European, and this is better in my opinion.

My favorite component of the song is the accordion in the background which is played by her father. In addition to giving it a little bit of Eastern European identity, it also provides another a layer of authenticity that most of these types of songs lack.

You can purchase the track on HollyElle.com

https://soundcloud.com/hollyelle/flip-that-script-radio-edit

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Taking Aiym

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Top quality production here from Aiym Almas, an alternative pop artist from Kazakhstan. A good way to describe her sound is that it has elements of pop but without any of the cheapness or characteristiz sleazy vibe. Aiym has an incredible voice, which carries the songs in such a way that one would listen to them even if there were no other instruments. Her third single, “You Must Be True” has kind of a mysterious quality to it as it slowly builds to the main message. My favorite of her songs is “The Other Side,” which is like a blast of energy when the song kicks into high gear/dance party mode with the payoff.

You can hear her songs on Soundcloud and visit her website for more information:
https://soundcloud.com/aiym-almas
http://aiymalmas.com/

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Lizzy Small’s Music Continues to Defy Gravity

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Lizzy Small, a young up and coming pop star that you may recognize from her supporting role in the recent film “Spare Parts,” had a popular song out called “Gravity.” The first thing I noticed about it is that Elizabeth really does have a great voice. Lots of times these pop jams are comically overloaded with auto tune and pitch correction, but in Lizzy’s case the producer wisely left her voice (mostly) alone other than a few subtle effects here and there, and one can tell she’s a good natural singer. “Gravity” is a catchy song, and the part when the chorus kicks in you can visualize it being a club hit.

As a pop song, Gravity manages to achieve its appeal while taking the high road. The highly professional and well edited video comes across as a refreshingly innocent romance tale. It doesn’t utilize anything sleazy or cheap to get a reaction. It doesn’t rely on any of the shock value or preachiness we’ve come to expect in this genre of music. In fact, there is nothing cheap or shoddy about this production.

The same goes for her recently released track, “Always Be There,” which has a slightly more hypnotic feel to it as opposed to a club track. It reminds me of the sort of song a girl would listen to on a late night long drive home or afternoon road trip out of the city. It’s fitting that a captivatingly romantic song like this was released for Valentine’s Day. The echoey chorus can get stuck in your head pretty quickly after a couple of listens, and it’s no surprise  the song currently has nearly 3 million plays on Soundcloud already.

Lizzy manages to achieve a respectable sound without appearing as though she’s “trying too hard.” From watching her videos and interviews, I get the impression that if anything, she is a tireless worker who takes care to consider every detail and genuinely takes her craft seriously. Either that or she just surrounds herself with good people and has terrific innate marketing skills.

Be on the lookout for more exciting stuff from Lizzy. I have a feeling these tracks will be just the beginning. Don’t be surprised if she makes it to the next level, and she does…remember you heard it here first.

Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/officialsmall
IMDB - http://www.imdb.me/ElizabethSmall
Instagram – http://instagram.com/OfficialSmall

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Joining the Club

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So out of nowhere today I had something great to review. As I get older, I frequently get depressed because it seems like the indie pop and indie rock scene has kind of disappeared.  The pretentious artsy and cultish zines of the past that I used to love seem to be nowhere to be found.  Most indie music blogs today focus more on stuff like EDM and hip hop. With that in mind, it’s great to know that creative and incredible avant garde acts still exist. I’m just apparently too out of touch to know where their parties are.

Anyhow one of those groups that are making great new jams is “Kasket Club,” which consists of two guys that began working on music together in 2012. The duo is from Norway, so maybe I just need to finally bite the bullet and migrate back to Europe. Kasket Club combines acoustic instruments with electronic beats to create a flawless and positively energizing sound. They kind of remind me of some of the indie bubblegum pop bands of the 90s like Majestic, only with more electronic and synthy influences…somewhat resembling contemporary groups such as Magic Wands.

Kasket Club has a new EP called “The King of Cool and the Acrobat.” The first song, “Straight West” was a great choice to open with at it sets the mood with peppy and the kind of ultra catchy melodies you normally only get from television commercial jingles My other favorite song on the EP is “They Don’t Mind,” which has some radical grooves.  The whole thing has a definite chillwave vibe,  but slightly more fast paced than any actual chilling would involve.  I’d recommend you support these guys, because their music is awesome, and I enjoyed it enough to write a longer review than I normally would.

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STV/VCR

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I can usually tell within the first 10 seconds of listening to something whether I’m going to like it or not, and in the case with STV (Steve Counts) I already made up my mind it was great in even less time than that.  “Suburban Function,” the opening song on his cleverly titled album “VCR,” is a terrific indie pop song. It doesn’t really do it justice to call it indie pop though, since the production quality is as a higher level than what you’d expect from this style of music. The chimey, xylophone like intro hooks you right into the song. The vocals are excellent, and this is just an all around well crafted song by an obviously talented individual.

Hembot Recording artist STV

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March To May

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Well traveled indie folk duo, “March to May” finally ended up settling  in Seattle. Their music is a great fit for the Pacific Northwest. It’s finely tuned with nature, and if I had to describe the “mood” of their songs it would be something like an overcast fall afternoon in the woods, that good kind of cold rainy day feeling. It reminded me of trips to Flagstaff several years ago with an ex-girlfriend.

March to May’s  recently released album, “The Water’s Edge” is everything you’d want in this genre. They really have their sound nailed down. The production quality is as good as anything you’d hear in the background playing at your local Starbucks during pumpkin spice season, but without any of the corporate insincerity and packaging. As artists, March to May seem to capture what almost every musician hopes to,  which is just the right blend of authenticity and professional quality. 

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My favorite song on the album is probably “Count the Days,” which seems to stand out more for me. It’s catchy, upbeat and brimming with energy(as lively as this kind of music can get anyway.) Darren Guyaz  plays the  guitar, keyboard while Beth Wesche’s main instrument is a Celtic harp. They alternate singing, and both have beautiful voices.  I’ve reviewed a lot of music over the years. I always try to find good things to say about whatever I come across, but it’s rare that I get to review something I like as much as this. It would be nice to see these two score a showcase at South By Southwest, in March. I think they would go over well.

 http://www.marchtomay.com

 

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The Next In Line

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New single out from an up and coming  group called “A&L.”

According to their bio:
A&L is a new act made up of two seasoned industry professionals: Anthony Casuccio and Lana Marie. Anthony is a 20 year music veteran whose production work has been nominated for three Grammy awards, been featured in major music publications and topped the music charts. Lana is an award winning vocalist who has been a long-time force on the East Coast music scene and voice to many jingles on radio and television.

It’s not surprising that the two of them have so much experience when you listen to their music. It’s professionally crafted and performed artfully.

They characterize their latest jam as  being “an upbeat, Pop/Rock song with catchy hooks and killer guitar riffs. The in-your-face vocal will have you singing along. With a vocal style that sounds like The Pretty Reckless meets P!nk, Lana delivers a vocal performance that demands your attention.”

The best way I can describe “Onto The Next Heart” is that it is vaguely reminiscent of of the kind of pop/rock music that would be playing at a high school dance in a mid to late 80′s teen movie. That’s quite a good thing actually, and I would hope to see more pop music head in this direction. That isn’t to say that this is a “retro” song by any means. It’s only retro in the sense that pop music has been so horrible in recent years that any good music somehow invokes nostalgic sentiment by default. Would love to hear more from this duo.

https://www.twitter.com/AandLmusic
https://www.facebook.com/AandLmusic

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Democracy’s Dissidents

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With another “Something Wicked This Way Comes” modeled election circus creeping up on us, millions of less-than-enthusiastic constituents are gearing up to vote for their favorite unqualified politician. Inevitably, they’ll resign to choose a leader who doesn’t represent their interests and (to they extent he pays any lip service to those interests at all,) will sell them out the moment he(or she) takes office.

Somewhere  in a dark room, the brightest republican strategists are working ’round the clock to recruit a black, transgendered, pansexual, Somali, muslim, illegal immigrant candidate in order to distance them from their most loyal conservakin support base and prove once and for all just how inclusive the party is(to people who wouldn’t vote republican if their post-op life depended on it.) Liberal operatives on the other hand, are salivating at the demographic trends which they believe will eventually make it impossible  for conservatives to win democratic elections without drifting leftward and abandoning many of their core beliefs.

But what would happen to those supposed realities, if we were to stop caring about votes, head for the exits and seek a new political system entirely? Fortunately,  a growing number of individuals are becoming aware of the long term idiocratic trends of democracy and starting to question whether it is a viable system at all. Michael Anissimov’s  new book, “A Critique of Democracy: a Guide for Neoreactionaries” does just that.

I must admit,  having spent the last few years quietly lurking in the outer rings of the Dark Enlightenment, I was somewhat dreading reading this book. As John Derbyshire once said, neoreactionaries are “prone to earnest philosophizing:  the kind of stuff of which, for me,  a little goes a long way.”  Mercifully,  Anissimov spares us. The book is wisely written in a compact, accessible style that anyone remotely intelligent can read, without cheapening it’s academic value.

First off, let me just say right off the bat that I agree with his main thesis, which is essentially that democracy is a fatally flawed system in many ways, and we can do(and have done) better. We are not approaching Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History.” Therefore, any marginal criticisms I have should be considered as such.

Anissimov comes right out with it in the opening chapter, “Against Democracy,” where he lays out nine points of contention in a condensed fashion.  The most important of these in my mind is the first one, which states that  “democracy incentivizes high time preference.”  Candidates campaign and govern without any need to consider the implications of their policies once they are planning to leave office, let alone on future generations.  It’s great to live in the present, but if you’re only going to be around to be held accountable for the immediate effect of the legislation you’re implementing, you’ll be leaving a mess for others to clean up like someone trashing his apartment throwing a party, and moving out without caring if he’ll get his deposit back. Democracy encourages “looting the present at the expense of the future.” A system which doesn’t provide incentives for long term planning, doesn’t make for a nation with good long term prospects.  The only argument one could make against this is that politicians may care about their “legacy” and how they will be remembered by history, long after they leave office, and that will lead them to take into account the distant future effects of their policies. Indeed, they do. However, I’ve seen no indications that such considerations overrule the immediate requirement of placating the populace in order to gain office. They will just get a book deal later and use their memoirs to try to frame their achievements positively.  Each of the nine points of criticism Anissimov makes have validity, though some will resonate more than others to different people.

Another interesting chapter is one where,  in “2001: A Space Odyssey” fashion,  Anissimov delves into the evolutionary history of leadership at the dawn of civilization, beginning with  prehistoric apes(!) and demonstrating how they operated in hierarchal groups which maintained a “dominace hierarchy.”  He then goes on to make the case why Indo-Europeans  were the forerunners of Western Civilization.

Much of the rest of the book expands on the 9 bullet points against democracy outlined in the first chapter, going into much greater depth on them. Of course, it’s relatively easy to persuade people that flaws exist in democracy, but they tend to just shrug their shoulders and seem resigned to believe there are no better alternatives.

Anyone familiar with Anissimov knows his preferred alternative is some form of traditional European monarchy. The final chapter in the book deals(mostly) with this, in large part contrasting monarchy with libertarianism. I got the impression he was attempting specifically to reach open minded libertarians(or those leaning that way) and persuade them to give monarchs a chance. This is really the only chapter of the book that I didn’t find all that persuasive, mostly because there just isn’t enough space devoted to it. While he talks about  GDP, marriage rates etc, the most common objections to monarchy aren’t sufficiently addressed. The main one being of course, how to prevent or minimize corruption in an aristocracy if you have a king who doesn’t care.  In an otherwise great performance in his online debate with Noah Smith, Anissimov had no good answer for this. He basically said that monarchy is a higher risk system, which offers greater rewards if we could “luck into” a perfect storm  of ideal circumstances. That’s not very reassuring.

Some other concerns about monarchy:

How would the first king be chosen? Why would anyone follow him? If he is a revolutionary leader, why would his offspring deserve to be royalty? Wouldn’t the offspring be likely to be spoiled brats? Wouldn’t there be frequent military coups? What psychological tests would be done to determine if someone was mentally fit to be king, and how would those standards be enforced? How much would IQ factor in? It should obviously be important, yet many serial killers have high IQ’s and are master manipulators. What mechanisms are in place to prevent a “King Ted Bundy?”

There are additional considerations in a technologically advanced monarchy vs. those of the distance past. In medieval times, even though one was living under an authoritarian regime, someone residing in the countryside may have had very little contact with the government, due to the logistics of travel and lack of modern communication. Thus even in such an authoritarian system they would have had more autonomy than we do today in many respects. Yet, a monarchy with the sophisticated surveillance technology of today would potentially have security cameras everywhere as well as a substantial security network. The Shah of Iran was an effective leader, but his secret police were known to be ruthless and brutal torturers. That was in the 1970′s, imagine how much they could infiltrate your privacy today and how much damage they could do. One can’t expect Anissimov to deal with all the hypothetical questions related to a potential monarchy in this publication though, since that’s not what it’s  primary purpose is.

This book is a condensed guide, specifically focused on critiquing democracy. It does a very good job of what it is intended to do, and in a saner society might be required reading in high schools. I would like to see Michael produce a follow up book, exclusively advocating monarchy. Ideally it would be a book which tackles in great detail the logistics as well as theoretical problems people associate with aristocratic monarchy. It should leave no stone unturned.

Anyone who is satisfied with democracy because they think it’s the “least bad among a lot of bad options” is an evolutionary “dead ender” in the world of ideas.  Don’t listen to them.  Worse than a bridge to nowhere, democracy is the road that led us to where we are today. We can do better. We can always do better.

Michael Anissimov’s book can be purchased here


Brandon Adamson is the author of “Beatnik Fascism

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