Category Archives: Reviews

Flip That Script

hollyelle

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

lizzy small

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.

Kasket_presse_2

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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. 

marchtomay

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

anissimov

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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Tales from the Drive-In

Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released in 1988. A combination of live footage film and animation. Starring the talented Bob Hoskins, and directed byRobert Zemeckis, the end results were mixed. The lasting impression for me was not the movie itself, but the experience of seeing it at the drive-in.

My parents loaded up the family for a drive-in double feature of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the movie Vibes, starring Cyndi Lauper and Jeff Goldblum.

It began to rain as we drove, but my parents thought it would be fine to continue onward. We lived in Phoenix, and the drive-in was in south Scottsdale, so it wasn’t exactly nearby.

The rain kept up throughout Roger Rabbit, so the window wipers were left on, which lent itself to the pseudo noir setting of the movie.

The movie ended and it was still raining, so my parents decided not to stay for the second feature film. As we left the maze-like parking lot, my father got turned around, and ended up going the wrong direction through an exit, running over the ground spikes that avert traffic from going the opposite direction.

So the family was stuck at the drive-in exit, with blown tires, in the rain. My father walked in the rain to the nearest payphone and called my aunt Mary for a lift, and then called a tow truck.

Aunt Mary arrived to the scene, and we all packed into her VW bug, as father stayed behind waiting for the tow truck. We fell asleep on the ride back, only waling up as we arrived home. I haven’t a clue how late it was by the time father was dropped off home, but he was certainly there when I woke up the next day.

For a movie that was only mediocre, I never forget the rainy circumstances of which we saw it. The mishaps and shenanigans of trying to leave, and the eventual divorce it lead to.

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Cherry 2015 – If Loving A Fembot Is Artificial, I Don’t Want To Be Genuine

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One of the most prescient dystopian science fiction films of the 1980′s turned out to be the (direct to video?) 1987 movie, “Cherry 2000.”

The future depicted in Cherry 2000 is one where sexual encounters and relationships with real women have become complicated legal transactions requiring lawyers, and have been reduced to merely emotionless business arrangements. The women are typically aggressive, masculine, demanding and shrill. It leads to an environment where the rare romantic guy, who still longs for a traditional loving relationship, would actually find a courtship with a female android more emotionally fulfilling than one with a real live organic woman. It’s sort of a more sympathetic, less horrific spin on “The Stepford Wives” theme. In Stepford, the men killed their loving yet sassy wives in exchange for robot sex slaves who would do the dishes and clean the house without giving them any grief. They were portrayed unmistakably as as evil pricks. In contrast, the physically human women are the ones who display the robotic behavior in Cherry 2000, while the romantic men are forced to seek out the loving emulation of androids for any “meaningful” companionship. Of course the film sells out in the end, as the main character who sacrifices everything in a dangerous quest to replace his beloved, short circuited fembot(Cherry, played by Pamela Gidley) with the identical discontinued model, ultimately falls for the crass and bitchy, tomboyish tracker, “Edith”(Melanie Griffith) whom he’s hired to help locate the robot.

With the advent of “yes means yes” laws it doesn’t seem like it will be long before men will be required to get some type of verbally recorded or written consent to engage in sexual activity with a seemingly “turned on” girl, to shield themselves from litigation or criminal prosecution if she turns on them later. As if getting a girl pregnant or contracting an STD wasn’t enough to worry about, now we have bigger fish to fry. Indeed, there is already a phone app for sexual consent, called Good2Go.

cherry2000

Recent developments over the past two decades have lead me to conclude we’re headed towards Cherry 2000 style dating in America. Indeed, I’ve started to notice that the crudely annoying spambots on Tinder and Okcupid have been getting more sophisticated in their programming to the point where interacting with them can be more romantically stimulating than talking to actual chicks(which, if you’ve ever had an unfortunate exchange with one of these Tinderbots you would realize is more of a knock on the sorry state of the 21st century female conversational experience than it is one marveling in wonder at the advancements in artificial intelligence spam.)

Then there are video game characters. Back in a particularly isolated time period of my life in 2001 and 2002, when all I did was drink diet pepsi, eat microwave popcorn and play old Super Nintendo RPGs in my studio apartment, I would occasionally develop what I guess you could call “crushes” on some of the female sprites in the games(such as Rydia from Final Fantasy IV, Marle and Schala from Chrono Trigger, Paula from Earthbound, etc.) even to where I began to curiously research the technological possibilities of transferring human consciousness to a computer. I was thinking of course that if i could somehow hack a sprite that resembled me into the game’s ROM, that it might be possible to get something going. Yeah, it’s crazy but so what? Realized dreams are the work of madmen. I also saw Tron in the theater when I was a kid so perhaps it left a subconscious impression on me.

In any case, if that kind of emotion was possible to evoke in the days of 16 bit SNES pixelation, I can only imagine how real a romance could be in the context of modern video games which are now much more advanced in their elaborate overworlds, roleplays and simulations. Thousands if not millions of men and women find the virtual experience of video games more appealing than going outside and playing. It would be naive to think that organic human love would be any less vulnerable to competition from artificial intelligence than other components of our earthly existence.

Dust off your 1980′s JC Penney catalog and get your fembots on order, men! This scene is coming to a nightclub or campus near you.


Brandon Adamson is the author of “Beatnik Fascism

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