Opening Night of Pride for the Masses

As most people are aware in the US June is Pride Month, a month where people of the LGBT+ community celebrate who they are. There are a lot of politics involved with both pride month and various LGBT+ issues, of which I won’t delve into much. What I delve into is the opening night of Pride for the Masses, a Pride event hosted by I Heart Local Music. Everyone hosting the event was a member of the LGBT+ community and brought an incredible performance.

The night started off with Cuee, a local rapper and hip hop artist who brought finesse and aggressive lyrics that attack each song. The combination of at times smooth beats with strong drill elements brings a down to earth reality often ignored or, at best, overlooked in the music scene. The music brought an incredible vibe that welcomed everyone to join.

Gritty reality was certainly not ignored this night, however, Wick and the Tricks brought their high-octane performance of glam punk that covered many political issues while being risque and off the wall.

The last musical act of the night was DJ Candyass, who brought a plethora of music guaranteed to please everyone. The music playlist ranged from hip hop to EDM and even more obscure genres. Everyone had a reason to dance.

Of course, this was all tied together by the wonderful hostess Miss Amanda Love. Her comical stylings and lip syncing had the audience roaring with laughter while applauding her ability the match the energy to the song, be it a moving ballad or fast tempos. She also showed the audience as much love as she was given.

This is certainly a great event, one which I hope is repeated in the future with the same fervor and tenacity. I also hope that it continues to be fully run by members of the LGBT+ community with all profits going back into the same community that put it together. That is something I’m glad I Heart Local Music seemed to care about and hope other places wanting to participate in Pride month will consider as well.

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Album Review: “Prequelle” by Ghost

prequelleLots of attention focused on Ghost this year with their theatrics of introducing new characters, such as the newest frontman Cardinal Copia, to the legal theatrics surrounding the band. The drama proved to be a winning combination with climbing sales. Add a creative deviation from previous works and “Prequelle” will hit the spot for many listeners.

Ghost fans have nothing to fear with the drastic changes. The familiar combination of macabre, tongue-in-cheek humor, elements of psychedelic and progressive music tempered with gothic tones still remain strong. Great examples include “Witch Image”, “See the Light”, and especially “Life Eternal” ending the Ghost album in typical Ghost fashion: strong ballad movements with dark tones paired with an eerie choir. Satanic lyricism and gothic elements along with bits of psychedelic music still remain at the core of the music while providing something new.

The creative direction taken this album not only provides something familiar for old fans as not to isolate them, but provides something to lure in fans of various genres. As promised there is a grittier tone with songs like “Rats” and “Faith” which will bring in more heavy metal fans and are guaranteed to be hits. Listeners who enjoy more progressive elements of the band will appreciate certain themes repeated throughout the album, namely the rat theme, most notably found in “See the Light” as well as complex instrumental like “Miasma” and almost Gershwin-like rhapsodies of “Helvetesfönster” that play with influences of folk metal. There is something for everyone this album and it’s pulled off magnificently.

Despite the remarkable endeavor pulled off there were some problematic things. Not all of the transitions were smooth and felt a bit clunky, as seen in the interlude of “Rats” or the introduction of the saxophone solo in “Miasma” doesn’t seem to fit into the whole of the song. There is also the song “Witch Image”, where the word play was welcome but the lyrics felt a bit phoned in. I’ll chock it up to my disdain for heavy-handed end rhyming, and what the song lacks in lyrical composition it’s certainly made up with power chords and psychedelic musical composition. I also found myself questioning the artistic intention of some of the things which were off, as sometimes it was hard to determine if stuff like off-key singing was intended in “See the Light” or having an overload of low ends and synthesizer were meant to convey something deeper in “ Helvetesfönster”, or perhaps this was the best take. Regardless everything else was put into consideration, including songs bleeding into one another and a continuation of elements.

Ghost’s latest album delivers everything and more, and is one of the rare moments where an album lives up to the hype that I can recall. As promised it is a grittier, more arena-type direction as opposed to other albums, but it combines enticing music for everyone without leaving longtime fans behind. If this is a transition into a more theatrical one for Ghost it will certainly be an interesting ride.

3.5/4

The Soundtrack: May 2018

It’s that time again where I pick 4 songs that best describe this month. Those who are new to this I pick 4 songs from music released in the particular time, in this case May of this year. These 4 songs I feel capture the emotion of the month. I don’t look at which songs I like, or genre, or anything of the sort. It’s all about the music and capturing the mood.

Admittedly I had quite the time picking out the songs. It seems what was being released was completely at odds with what was going on around me. I made due and made it work.

Frank Turner “1933”

This was a song that, with its face paced timing paired with violent lyrics, captured much of the ongoing violence and frantic energy of the month. It also captured the nature of how history keeps repeating itself.

John Hopkins “Luminous Beings”

Many of the songs I encountered this month had a chill tone. I decided to pick one of them for those warm evenings, and John Hopkins fit the bill.

Beach House “Dive”

This was the best compromise I had between the chill mood of the songs coming out this month juxtaposed to a somewhat volatile mood. It works for what I need it to do…

Five Finger Death Punch “Fake”

This song probably encapsulates the mood for this month best, namely everyone out to uncover the truth and the tension and violence. It was a tough decision between thus and a few other songs from the album.

If you want to check out what I picked in previous months you can check out my other posts or go to my YouTube playlist.

The Soundtrack: April 2018

It’s that time again where I release 4 songs that best describe this month. Those who are new to this I pick 4 songs from music released in the particular time, in this case April of this year. These 4 songs I feel capture the emotion of the month. I don’t look at which songs I like, or genre, or anything of the sort. It’s all about the music and capturing the mood.

This month seems to have a theme of Carribbean influence, be it reggae or reggaetron. I’m sure it’s coincidence, but I’m also willing to bet it has to do with festival season starting too. I’m not going to comment just to avoid repeating myself.

Brothers Osbourne “A Little Bit Trouble”

Theivery Corporation “Music to Make You Stagger”

We Are Scientists “Properties of Perception”

Kylie Monogue feat. Gente de Zona “Stop Me from Falling”

If you want to check out what I picked in previous months you can check out my other posts or go to my YouTube playlist.

Album Review: CS Luxem’s Symptoms

Some of you may recall I sorta reviewed CS Luxem about a year ago, but had to tap out due to a migraine. I always felt bad because, while I’m sure few people know of my existence, I felt like I shorted folks. I found out he released a new album in February and wanted to check it out. Some of the stuff I noticed that night definitely come out here, but no one came here for a recap of an incomplete review. I certainly got brought more lucidity (hyuk!) to what was otherwise lost in brain fog.

CS Luxem knows how to fuse together styles like ambient, doo-wop, and avant garde and pair it with the surreal and surfer elements. This is most apparent in “Goat Ghost”, “Feed the Dog”, “Space”, and “Heal Support”. It’s refreshing to see something so ambitious that is, for the most part, effectively pulled off with deft. Admittedly it still reminds me of bands like 10 CC and The B-52’s as they were both avant garde in their own ways and pulled it off just as well.

At times, though, the hodge podge of creativity gets problematic as certain elements vie for dominance and the basic elements suffer. This is most apparent when whimsical seems to take priority. One of the worst offenders is “Own Way” where more focus is placed on percussion and being odd that it has no substance. At times, though, it seems as if lacking substance is the point, but then I hear songs like “Hot Corn Girl” where the echo effect overpowers the vocals and– while I suspect the drowning out of lyrics is intentional –sacrifices the lyrics so the listener is left missing out on what should be just as considered just as important if it’s included in a song. It is most apparent when part of the lyrics seemingly allude to myths about Persephone and the Corn Maiden, but can’t be fully made out due to a wall of echo. What is there is left an incomplete idea that sounds interesting but loses effectiveness as a song.

Then again, lyrics may not be a real concern for CS Luxem, as I found most of the songs lacking in this part. Songs like “Let Me Go On” and “Space” clearly have lyrics, though it feels like they aren’t complete ideas expressed in the songs and we’re to focus on everything but what the vocalist sings. If that is the intent I have to question why lyrics exist and aren’t instrumentals, as quite a few songs would be enhanced without them. At times, though, the songs strike a balance with whimsy, sincerity, and lyrical content. Songs like “Spider Webs” and “Symptoms” really present the more sincere approach to lyrics that seem to dance with the song and express a full idea before succumbing to the oddity.

Despite seemingly torching my copy of the album I feel there is much to enjoy from Symptoms. While at times it lacked sincerity CS Luxem promises an experience where the listener can lose oneself in the juxtaposition of avant garde stylings with deceptively mundane rock.

3.2/4

The Soundtrack: March 2018

It’s that time again where I release 4 songs that best describe this month. Those who are new to this I pick 4 songs from music released in the particular time, in this case March of this year. These 4 songs I feel capture the emotion of the month. I don’t look at which songs I like, or genre, or anything of the sort. It’s all about the music and capturing the mood.

Now that I got some of that out of the way, here’s what I picked for this month. Hint: apparently I was obsessed with lots of layers this month.

Superorganism “SPRORGNSM”

Not only is the story behind this band an interesting one, but the music on this album is impressive. Seriously, if you get a chance check out their backstory and the rest of their album. Much of the album is like this, but the idea of everything working together to create one big complex work is rather striking.

Moby “The Tired and the Hurt”

Moby is one of those artists who is able to mix a lot of genres together and, even if you don’t like it, at least appreciate the complexities. I feel like this month was one of those months with “layers” where it seemed simple but as you look at it look at how things got processed in a weird way. I think this song captured that aspect.

Dorothy “Ain’t Our Time to Die”

This is another one of those songs that struck me but in a different way. Rather than being focused on being layered in composition this one I felt was layered in emotions.

Lucy Dacus “Yours & Mine”

While this song wasn’t layered in ways like the others, but I felt it captured the vibe of this month of trying to address feelings directly, even if the execution of it was complicated.

If you want to check out what I picked in previous months you can check out these posts or go to my YouTube playlist.

Album Review: Orphans of Doom “Strange Worlds / Fierce Gods”

I am one of those people who live under a rock and need to desperately fix it. When I decided to look into what the local scene (or at least local to me) offered I found Orphans of Doom, and as an extra bonus they released a new album back in January. I went in search of it, and one purchase and download later have an album to review.

After I listened to the album I couldn’t help but feel this band was slightly familiar. I felt I had heard them in a basement show back in the day, so much so I checked my notes from that time just to make sure. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be the case, which doesn’t really bode well. They stay true to the stoner genre but so much so that if played with other bands like Kylesa in a playlist I don’t feel I could pick them out unless they were very particular songs (more on that in a moment). That aside those who absolutely love the genre will find the tug of war between ambient, alternating slow and driving tempos, and spoken word. Songs that really stick out in this regard are “Excension” and “Harvest”.

I will give Orphans of Doom credit there are particular songs where they deviate from typical stoner genre fanfare and delve more into prog. Songs like “Kakegoe” and “Cephalopod” really explore more extreme ends, be it experimenting with ambient to induce a further dreamlike state or driving rhythms reminiscent of traditional Japanese drumming to induce frenzy. I think exploring those concepts further and exploring musical transitions more to develop those ideas will set it apart from other stoner music I’ve heard.

There are times, however, the experimentation isn’t quite realized in the song. Part of this may be because the transition between powerful drumming and ambient isn’t really developed or doesn’t exist so the jump between the two ends up awkward. Moments of “Cephalopod” are like this, which is a shame because what should lull the listener deeper into the song as if entering the realm of the eponymous creature ends up jarring and awkward. I also see this in “The Return of Supertoad” albeit the transitions and tempos are still awkward at times though more thought is put into transitions than on other tracks. There are times, however, the union between the concept and what’s actualized in the song don’t work out entirely. I felt “Mythical Sleep” epitomized this. It didn’t really make sense and I couldn’t tell if this was a calculated move or not and, if so, what purpose it served. It seemed like more about bravado of technical skill than artistic integrity. When it does come together, though, I feel like there’s promise. The best examples are “Ghosts” and “Pleasure Delayer”, where the “diddling” ends up being the theme and transition that brings the song together.

Overall I think Orphans of Doom has potential, but they will need to find their voice a bit more and commit to it. I see moments where they want to take their sound into a more prog direction and certainly have the skill but it’s drowned out by desire to adhere to the stoner genre in a way that I’m unsure behooves them. It ultimately creates a sound that is muddled and can seem too focused on what may sound cool, but not necessarily come together cohesively. I think those into the genre will appreciate it for what it is and enjoy the album for its aesthetics.

2.8/4