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Band/Artist Profile New Album Review

“Swatta” by Chepang: Nepalese-American Grindcore

Chepang is not a new band. They’ve been inhabiting Queens, NYC for about eight years now. The band members left Nepal and subsequently formed Chepang in 2016, and since then they have been grinding away and making their sounds known to the world.

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Band/Artist Profile

“Send in the Clouds” by Silver Jews

Silver Jews is probably my favorite band of all time. Of course I love all music and musicians for putting their gorgeous sounds into my ears, but Silver Jews has country vibes, amazing songwriting (by the one and only David Berman) and emotional satisfaction, all of which draw me deeper and deeper into my obsession. I’ve written about them before in an article about “The Natural Bridge”. Berman has now been dead for a little over four years. He struggled with mental health issues throughout his life

I wanted to write a small article on one song in particular that I have been enjoying a lot recently, “Send in the Clouds”. It comes from the widely acclaimed, “American Waters”, which was released in 1998. Stephen Malkmus of Pavement helped Berman write, produce and create the album. 

Posted on YouTube by Drag City Records. “Send in the Clouds” is by Silver Jews.

Both Stephen Malkmus and David Berman sing the opening lyrics to this track in unison. It creates an interesting bonded feeling to this song I would never have expected from just reading the lyrics.

Then, the duo goes on to sing this:

I am the trick my mother played on the world
Seventeen doctors couldn’t decide
whether I should be allowed in the game.

What can’t monsters get along with other monsters?
Soi disantra, soi disantra…

From “Send in the Clouds” by Silver Jews

I love the formation “Send in the Clouds” has within its line and as a written, living poem. It has a few tercets followed by a couplet, then another tercet, a quatrain and another couplet. It flows impeccably.

The lyrics themselves are an absolute treat to decipher too. Of course, being David Berman, the words have so many layers of meanings piled atop one another (most of them pretty damn sad).

Initially, the song talks about sending “in the Clouds” filled with rain for a dreary day with a lover in bed. Then we move to questioning the reasons for being born, wondering if the narrator is a curse and monster.

By the chorus, the narrator has decided “soi-desantra”, which is a made up word but close to the French phrase “soi-desant” for “self-proclaimed” according to Merriam-Webster. The narrator claims they are a monster, but are they really? How can we trust their word?

Berman and Malkmus amble on down the road of strange lyrics with this:

I know a puppy who walked from Kentucky.
Made to East Virginia by dawn.
He had seventeen ideas in his head.

Windex tears flow down the robot’s face.
He’s never felt a lover’s embrace.
My momma named me after a king.
I’m gonna bury my name in you.

From “Send in the Clouds” by Silver Jews

They explore the isolation of a dog wandering about the East Coast roads just thinkin’. A robot crying by using “Windex tears”. These lyrics are awe inspiring to me because of how much love can be felt through them. It takes so much craftiness to perfect a line of poetry, and Berman and Malkmus do wonders with this track especially.

If you’ve never taken time out of your day to listen to Silver Jews, well lucky you, Fall is one of my favorite listening periods for them. This song in particular is great with a nice cup of coffee and enjoying grey skies.

Categories
Miscellaneous New Album Review

“Pig City” by Pig City

Something within me *clicks* with Pig City’s newest release “Pig City”. It’s inspired me to deviate from the normal way I write my album reviews. I’ve done a few odd approaches the past couple months on album reviews, but I aim to make this one my strangest. 

Pig City is a queer hardcore crust band hailing from Arizona and releasing music through To Live A Lie Records right here in Raleigh. The album is definitely FCC explicit so cover your ears if you dislike curse words. This album was released on September 15, 2023.

Each track is followed by a block of text that relates to the subject matter and energy of the songs above it. It might help to listen to the music while you read if that is something you can do.

Track 1: “Modern Life I

We’ve made it easy to reduce things down to our specific little categories, but I feel critics have forgotten how to expand upon the meaning of a piece of worthy art. We shelve it away into musty cabinets on bookshelves becoming overladen with garbage. It makes your blood boil, doesn’t it? F*** your bookshelf. Break it. Burn it. Listen to this drum beat. Listen to these screams. Scream along with Pig City. “Where you gonna go?” (last line of “Modern Life I”).

Track 2: “Belly Of The Beast

I’m taking apart my room. Shred it. Piece by piece and examining every micrometer because I wanna find out why nothing is where it was supposed to be. Books were in places, but they didn’t fit there. Tear out the pages, glue them in different orders. Make it into the right kind of meaningful pattern. Burn this one, trash that one. Put them into place. 

Track 3: “Nuclear Wasted

On my roof now. It’s night. The cold gusts clip my ears and draws blood from my body. Drink a beer. Share it with critters running over numb legs. I can’t see my hands. Can’t feel them, but I see the moon and she calls out to take another sip and…

Track 4: “Bash Back

Awake. My head hurts. The world is upside down. It’s always been like this. Hasn’t it? Prolly gonna puke. My leg’s caught in the power line running from my house to the street. I’m hanging from the roof. Rip the leg free. Fall to the ground. It hurts, but not as much as my head. Spinning, standing and spinning. Beer can. It’s half full on the dirt covered sidewalk. I crush it under my boot. Metal succumbed to me. To my weight. I’m bigger than anything around me. I can do what I need to.

Track 5: “Dead On The Table

There’s a corpse rolled up the living room rug. Not gonna deal with that now. Bloated and blue – it’s not mine or anybody’s. Figment of the draining hangover. Not going to deal with it, I said. I want coffee. The strongest there is. All that acid and bitters draining from pot to cup to mouth and… now I can focus on the corpse in my living room. 

Track 6: “Modern Life II

You’d think this would fast track my day. A body in the living room. A hangover and falling from the roof. The day is slow. Nothing moves. Me, my coffee, a corpse. All of us act as if we’ve got all the time in the world to sit still. Sure, I’ve got work this morning. I’ll get there when I get there. Bossman can’t believe the things I’ve been through. Boss – Corpse. They are one in the same. A dead man whipping away at our backs to make us efficient. I finish my coffee and shower. 

Track 7: “Solitary Ideation

Hot showers are for suckers. Cold beams of water open eyes better than any coffee, Redbull or Monster Energy. In a shower, it’s just me and the droning of water against tub or against shower curtain or against body. A fshthh, kftdd, or bmbbmmm kind of sound, respectively. You can think up thousands of things in a shower. Like what to do with a body or how much effort I need to put into cleaning my destroyed room.

Thoughts wash away. It’s nice, empty isolation. Bare-nakedness keeps me raw and vulnerable to only myself. I’m not going to do a thing about the body, about my job, about my room. Leave it all as a masterpiece. Keep on living.

###

I know I didn’t actually talk about Pig City’s skills or literal sounds, but the point of this article was to explain their energy, effort, and artistry by using it as inspiration to create.

Categories
Miscellaneous Music Education

“We Are the Best!” – Swedish Punk Film

“We Are the Best!” is a movie set in the early 1980’s when traditional Swedish punk like KSMB started to decline in popularity. It centers around a trio of young girls making themselves seen through block-headed determination to have their uniqueness shine into the world around them.

Swedish punk music truly came alive in the 1970’s with bands like KSMB and Ebba Grön, and in the 1980’s hardcore punk became more mainstream in bands like Mob 47 and Anti Cimex (info from Discogs).

When I watched this movie, I had little knowledge of Swedish punk history. I hadn’t really listened to many old school punk bands not from the US or UK. While the movie doesn’t dive too much into niche punk bands and sounds, it supplies viewers with delightful, raw punk spirit through the three main characters, Bobo, Klara and Hedvig. 

The film is based on the director’s wife’s (Coco Moodysson) graphic novel, “Never Goodnight”. I haven’t read it myself but the art style encapsulates the DIY nature of punk energy and the movie’s story does so too (this article has a few snippets from the book). 

“We Are the Best!” was released in 2013. Director Lukas Moodysson, with the guidance of his partner Coco Moodysson, also created the screenplay for this film. If you want to watch this film, you can find it for free on YouTube with ads. 

The Plot:

I am going to get into some spoilers for this film, so if you don’t want to read them, stop reading here. 

Two besties, Klara and Bobo, are thirteen years old and tired of taking s**t for being young, girls, punk and different from everyone else. We see them compared to their stereotyped blond teen classmates and older boys and adults who constantly patronize them. 

On an absolute whim stemming from justified anger, Klara and Bobo start making music and writing songs. The two do everything together. They’re completely reliant on each other, but still have their tensions sparking fights throughout the film. Eventually, at a school talent show, they meet Hedvig, an outwardly appearing Christian conservative with real talent for music. 

Bobo and Klara recruit Hedvig to join their band and the three of them continuously get into trouble while opening Hedvig’s eyes to the world beyond Christianity.

After meeting up with other local punks and a few internal dramatic moments, Bobo, Klara and Hedvig have their first gig by the end of the film. They get raucous boo’s for being girls, but absolutely eat up the negative energy as fuel for their righteous performance on stage. The movie ends with the three of them being the best of friends and living up to their fullest punk potentials.

Why’s It So Good?

“We Are the Best!” does a phenomenal job at capturing and harnessing true punk spirit, realistic characters, history and tension. I love all the interactions between every side character, little gimmicks of getting free food, begging for money, just everything Bobo, Hedvig and Klara did together seemed whimsical and true to the nature of young teens trying to be themselves in a structured conforming society. 

The music was also amazing. The characters had great dialogue about the music of the times (which I think is accurate, not really sure because my music history knowledge is poor). Scenes with classic Swedish-punk tunes like “Schweden Schweden” by Ebba Grön and “Sex Noll Två” tied the dialogue and history together with the raw emotion you get from punk tracks. You can check out the whole soundtrack list on IMDb

The pacing of the film was also well done. Characters and events flowed smoothly from one triumph or failure to the next without losing my interest. Also, there were tons of hilarious and awkward interactions between children and adults that still occur today. I love it when a movie transcends time periods to show how actions between each other are still the same. 

Conclusions:

I loved “We Are the Best!”. Lukas and Coco Moodysson created a wonderful homage to that awkward punk spirit I wish I had when I was younger, and they’ve made a piece of art that shows us why rebellious kids and adults will never die out as a fad ever again. People will continue to be marginalized for something they can’t control, so the only option to counter that is to be loud, stand tall, and join with your friends to fight for individuality. 

I definitely recommend taking some time to watch this film with homies, besties, buds, friends, companions, really anyone that you’re close to because it will make you all smile without fail.

Categories
Classic Album Review

Amaara’s “Child of Venus”

Surprise! I’m not writing about local or hardcore music. Instead I’m doing a small break from loud noise and focusing on Amaara.

Amaara is a moniker for “multimedia” artist, Kaelen Ohm, and “Child of Venus” is the first full length album released by Ohm. The album is a blend of pop, ethereal sounds and smooth, syrupy vocals. 

“Child of Venus” was released earlier this year on July 7. I have been listening to it as soon as it popped up on my Bandcamp page because the album art looked intriguing, and I’ve been hooked ever since. 

Ohm wrote, composed and produced every song on the album. She also performs vocals, synths, guitar, piano, bass and backing vocals. Ohm got some help in the percussion, and wasn’t able to do that herself. It’s extremely impressive to me to see artists able to conquer all these instruments and have tons of talent to create a whole album like this. 

“Child of Venus”

Track 2: “The Discover of Innocence Is Its Loss (Wide Open)

The album opens with “Child of Venus”, the title track, but I found this song to be way stronger and impressive. It literally opens with “a shot to the heart” and the album continues to escalate from this point (Ohm’s Lyrics on Bandcamp). 

Track 4: “New Love’s Mortal Coil

Easily a new love, akin to Lana Del Ray in vocals and vibe, but still Amaara is her own unique recipe of gooey, ghostly and good songs. The music video is a lil’ silly, but the song remains one of my favorites on this album.

Track 6: “Shimmering Light / Visions

Absolutely my favorite track of this whole release. The slow build up into the “Visions” half of this song really keeps me 100% involved every second of it. I love the windy road and adventure we go on by listening to this track. 

Conclusions

This album’s got a few slow moments, maybe even a couple of dull ones (*cough* “Still” *cough*) – either way, I think Amaara’s got a lot of great energy going into her style and sound. I’ll absolutely keep listening to my favorite tracks and be on the constant lookout for new projects by both Amaara and Ohm herself.

Categories
New Album Review

“Club Hits” by R.M.F.C. New Album

Rock Music Fan Club is a project originating from an Australian bedroom by an artist named Buz Clatworthy. Their most recent release, “Club Hits” was release on Nov 3, 2023. It is a full length album with a run-time of just under thirty minutes. 

In terms of sound, “Club Hits” spreads its noise into an array of folky-twang, punk, and egg punk all wrapped up in a nice warm pot with a bit of water and salt to let the flavors and sounds in this album come alive. 

Buz Clatworthy “writes, performs and records all of the groups output himself in his bedroom”, as it states on Discogs, and began in 2018 thanks to encouragement from a friend listening to Clatworthy’s demo. R.M.F.C (Rock Music Fan Club abbreviated) has played with notable egg punk bands like Snooper and Alien Nosejob when performing live in the past.

Without Further Ado: “Club Hits

Below is a snippet of some words and sentences that each of these songs inspired me to write while listening to the music. To me that is the best way to communicate the emotions and sounds that I feel when listening to an album. 

Spectrum

The short snippets of punk and classic rock n’ roll guitar fuses together to create a wonderful playful hybrid of sounds that aren’t corny or uptight. It’s like Goldilocks says, “It’s just right”. 

The Trap

I don’t have too many flowery words for this track. I just like it. Simple as that. 

Access

Reminds me of a tame folky version of Sick Thoughts’ music they’ve been releasing recently; for example, “Hole in the Wall”. The jerky vocals put me on edge, but again the guitar quells my nerves and reassures me. 

Frogs

Like a walk in the hours after the rain has subsided in a quiet suburban night, this track puts my head at ease. The very relaxing rhythms and background noise is pleasant and delightful to my ears that usually want a harsh scream to take up residence. 

Conclusion

The rest of the album that I haven’t mentioned, is of course wonderful and each song deserves its own praises here, but that’s not feasible for me to write for a blog. This is a taste of “Club Hits”. I hope I’ve whetted y’all’s appetite, and if you decide to check out R.M.F.C.’s newest album, prepare to enjoy a delightful meal for your ears.

Categories
Local Music

North Carolinian Reggae, Ska and Dub

This week’s local music dive is gettin’ tropical as we explore a little bit of North Carolina’s Reggae, Ska and Dub scene. When I say “scene”, I mean a pitiful handful of bands. Unfortunately (or fortunately based on your view), there aren’t too many performers in NC that make their artistic sounds modeled after Jamaica’s beautiful sounds, but that is okay because the bands we do have here are interesting too. 

From Carrboro, NC is The Unsustainables who focus on “traditional ska” and Reggae as their main sound influences. They perform around Raleigh in venues like the Pour House. As for band influences, here’s what their Bandcamp page states: “Inspired by the legends of Studio One, Treasure Isle, and Black Ark Studios”. 

Raleigh has their own Reggae and Dub influenced band called Sons of Paradise. Now, I’m not too keen on their sound as it sounds pretty white-washed, but maybe someone else will enjoy it. They also perform around Raleigh in venues like the Pour House.

And my favorite I’ve found is a Ska Punk band from Chapel Hill, NC, SiBANNÄC. These guys have a hardcore edge to their music in similar fashion to Bomb the Music Industry! When I started looking for Reggae and Ska music in the area for this blog post, I didn’t think I’d be listening to a sound like this. I enjoy the explosive percussion, raw and throaty vocals, diabolical thrashing guitar and vengeful subject matter in their songs. 

The Sounds of NC Reggae, Ska and Dub:

“The Unsustainables EP” by The Unsustainables

 Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy “You Hate to See It” off of this EP, but I did vibe with the long, windy “Heart Thief”. It is a slow moving jam, with nice chill lyrics, while “You Hate to See It” feels corny and overdone. “Heart Thief” feels more like an original sound based on the original Ska noises with a lot of sweet sax and island strums from the guitar. 

“Lift Me Higher” by Sons of Paradise

I didn’t like any of the songs I’ve listened to by Sons of Paradise. They’ve pulled the weakest parts of Reggae and Dub from the genre and turned it into music that doesn’t feel authentic. I might have been hoping for too much from picking through this genre in NC.

“Repeat Offenders” by SiBANNÄC

FCC warning: there are many curse words and inappropriate things for ears unaccustomed to non-radio approved music. This album came out last year in 2022, and since then I think they’ve added a new vocalist and released their final album. I loved “Bomb the Block” off “Repeat Offenders” because it’s a short and sweet ACAB piece of pie with all the Ska and angsty punk built into it. Also, their album that came out in April this year “Closing Statement”, which is stated as their final album that features many community members involved with their music. 

Well, I hope you all can find some island tunes for this warm November weather that puts you in a relaxed mood. I think The Unsustainables are the best sound for you if you’re seeking that, but if you’re like me and the coming Winter weather gets you heated up, then SiBANNÄC is just the band for you.

Categories
Band/Artist Profile

Trapped in an 8-Bit Death Metal Realm

I can’t get out and I’m not sure I want to anyway. I’ve been stuck listening to two albums by an artist I’ve already mentioned on the blog here this semester, Gary Brents. This blog will dive a little bit into two other albums released by Brents this year: “Celestial Invocation” and “Astral Corridors“.

Just a little info on Brents if you haven’t read my previous article or if you forgot: he is a metal mastermind based out of Dallas, Texas with tons of projects that have been taking off recently like Memorrhage, Cara Neir, and this project, Gonemage.

Each of these projects focuses on a specific genre, sound or part of fantastical reality that Brents has created to explore his musical talents with. Using Gonemage as an example, Brents states it is “Rock/Metal/Chiptune convergence set in pixelated dream realms. Gonemage began as an alternate reality to my other project Cara Neir’s album Phase Out” (seen on Gonemage’s Bandcamp).

Celestial Invocation

This album’s unique qualities shine bright compared the darker depths explored in Gonemage’s other albums. It’s described as a “…lively pop space opera where the fate of planets hinge on an intergalactic basketball tournament” (again on Gonemage’s Bandcamp), and I don’t know if I could come up a more perfect setting for a space opera.

How in the world does anyone make music sound so majestic and thrilling all at once? One of my favorite tracks on this release is “6 PTS, 6 REB, 6 AST“. It’s dreamy, hyper, explosive, bumpy, jumpy, pretty much everything I could want from an epic reality based on intergalactic basketball.

Astral Corridors

This is the the moody, thought-provoking, emo older sibling 9by like four months) of “Celestial Invocation”. It’s a little more metal and 8-bit musically centered, but it has so many differences it feels like a completely different human being made this music.

If you take the time to look through the album descriptions in Gonemage’s discography, then the seemingly convoluted story descriptions become clear and fun to experience. Each of these albums has a set protagonist working through some Sci-Fi or Space Fantasy epic saga, which are all a pleasure to absorb.

My favorite track on this album is either “Dream Surfing in the Astral Corridors” because it sounds like high-tech Freddy Krueger on another mission of evil murders in the VR apocalyptic world we’re sure to see soon, or “Purple Lurker Bedside” because it sounds like a mish-mash of Grimace, the “Purple People Eater”, and “The VVitch” mashed together in an impossible conglomerate of cyberpunk horror.

I know Halloween is over, but if you feel like escaping into a dark fantasy world through music or basketball based space opera, then I know which albums I’d recommend to you.

Categories
Concert Preview Local Music

November & December Local Shows

Hey y’all. Hope you’ve been keeping up with local shows in your neighborhoods wherever you’re from, and if you’re a part of the Triangle area, then I know there’s been a lot of great performances out here lately.

A couple months ago I made a post about shows in September in the area and I want to return to that style of post to update anyone that cares about interesting shows in the Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill area.

Chapel Hill:

  • Local 506 has a large number of upcoming shows including an “Emo(ish)” cover show on November 4th, Satan’s Satyrs w/ Magick Potion and The Magpie (a local band I’ve talked about before) opening for them on November 14th and Bask w/ Wailin’ Storms (a local band) on December 15th.
  • Cat’s Cradle (another indie music staple in the Triangle area) has Nation of Language performing on November 9th, Slaughter Beach, Dog plays on November 14th, Angel Olsen is making an appearance on December 9th and the first annual Holiday Hootenanny featuring Callous Daoboys, 68 and Johnny Booth on December 16th.

Durham:

  • In Durham’s The Fruit, there are a number of musical and non-musical events happening like a monthly flea market on November 5th and December 3rd; there’s a 90’s Rave on November 18th; also, there’s Auntie Boy and Jooselord will be present on the same night (not sure how that works), but Jooselord is a local talent with tons of hype and fun.
  • The Pinhook also has many exciting musical talents and non-musical events like a Queer Movie Night featuring “Beetlejuice” and “To Wong Fu” on November 7th. Performing the next night is a Queer Country lineup with karaoke, line dancing and live music. Also, Rosie Tucker performs on November 13th.

Raleigh:

  • And in Raleigh we have a few cool venues too. At The Ritz The Front Bottoms play on November 7th.
  • At Raleigh’s Pour House we have Crawford & Power (a lil’ country for ya) on November 12th, Late Notice and a slew of opening bands on November 16th and axelone w/ Max Gowan and Cor De Lux on November 27th.

Hope this light list of interesting performances can pique your interest. There are many bands and artists I’ve failed to mention, but these seemed the most interesting to me. Enjoy my bias.

Categories
New Album Review

Screaming Females “Desire Pathway” Album Review

Screaming Females is one of my favorite rock bands hailing from the United States. They’ve been releasing consistent, good records since their first release, “Baby Teeth”,  in 2006. Screaming Females might not fit into the hardcore punk or punk genre all the time, but the band’s ability to stay true to what makes their sound unique and constantly entertaining is what keeps me listening.

The band is composed of Marissa Paternoster (vocals and guitar), Jarrett Doughtery (drums) and Mike Abbate (bass). They made their first appearance as a band in New Brunswick, NJ (according to Wikipedia). Screaming Females is currently releasing their records on the Don Giovann Record label. 

In terms of genre, they have floated around from album to album, but for the most part I’d say they stay true to the rock genre with heavy punk and indie influences. Paternoster’s lyrics and vocals are extremely punk that tend to talk about being displaced and having realistic perspectives on relationships and life. 

Some of their previous releases include “Baby Teeth”, self-released album in 2006, Ugly in 2012 and “Rose Mountain” in 2015. They have many more albums in their discography but these are the ones that keep me coming back and listening to their music. 

Desire Pathway

Brass Bell

The opening to this album is sublime. Paternoster’s infatuating guitar is backed up by heart-thumping bass and drums leading us to explosive riffs and vocals. 

Ornament

This track is a beauty because of how much Paternoster shreds her guitar. Doughtery’s drums create an awesome thump-thump-thump building us to another explosive chorus trying to get everything it can out of love. 

Let Me Into Your Heart

Opening drums and then Paternoster’s iconic vocals dive into the topic of trust and trying to win someone’s heart and soul. The lyric choices in this track make me love it because of the uniqueness in word choice and how descriptive and pleading the song becomes because of the lyrics. 

I absolutely love this band. The catchy lyrics and rhythms in this album are intoxicating, but also I can tell how much previous albums like “Ugly” and “Rose Mountain” success have positively influenced the sound. I find a lot of the choruses to be at the perfect repetitive level and all the lyrics (as always for Screaming Females) are full of double meanings and exactness.

If you’ve never taken time to listen to Screaming Females, I highly suggest you do because this band will be one of the greats, if it isn’t already.