Tag Archives: music

Young Mvchetes Don’t Quite Cut It

Before I delve into this review there is something I want to call myself out on. I am someone who never shies away from saying something isn’t well done. I am always willing to discuss it and my thoughts on music. However I always try to be constructive because I love to see artists grow. I was asked about my opinion concerning Young Mvchetes and I didn’t entirely live up to my standard in that conversation. I am sorry and will do better.

Hopefully I can do better with this review.

People who know me know I love a group that can be different and revel in it. I also like music that is different and can really say something. Young Mvchetes delivers this on many fronts, but it sadly doesn’t come together as it should.

They deliver with lots of energy and tenacity that I enjoy seeing in a live performance. They jump into the crowd, engage with them, and don’t confine themselves to the stage. Lyrically they have a strong political message, and one that they enforce when necessary. They are truly what people should want to see in a performance. So why did they not keep the audience? It was their music.

The best way I can describe Young Mvchetes is avant garde. They go sporadically into hip hop, psychedelic, rap metal, industrial, and even synthwave haphazardly. It is spoken word, nü metal, rap, all at once and yet none of those. It is this experimental nature that unfortunatley proves too much musically. The powerful messages got lost in a bunch of static, up metaphorically and at times literally. But it is salveagable. After all, the static we hear and see are the remnants of the Big Bang.

I honestly would pare back some of the genres used. It is apparent that Rage Against the Machine is somewhat of an influence as well as Ginsburg (you are free to guess which one I mean. You will probably be right no matter what). I would start with keeping the spoken word and bits of the industrial and experimental aspects as they are apparent influences and build from there. The avant garde sound will morph on its own from there.

Despite a lack of musical direction Young Mvchetes has lots of potential. They have lots of energy and fire in their bellies. They need to refine their music and everything else will fall into place.

Technique: 2

Presentation: 3

Audience: 1

Brownie Points: 0.5

Total: 6.5

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The Sluts Know How to Give It

Some of my secret (and overt) fans will know I’ve reviewed this group a few years back. I’ll try to keep myself from repeating some of the same lines, but honestly no much has changed

The Sluts still know how to bring in the crowds, and it is deserved. Overall they know how to blend distortions with grunge and alt rock vibes to produce a raw sound with trippy undertones. Sometimes it ends up feeling gritty and mellow, sometimes it ends up a bit complex rhythmically with some rock n’ roll vibes. Sometimes, though, the distortions seem to overpower the music rather than compliment it. It still manages to match the mood of the song. That said the music only partially matches the energy onstage.

As in my last review they were on a small stage, so I will give them some slack on the low energy on stage. At the same time it seems to be part of how they perform. The audience sticks around and enjoys it anyway, so it seems to be irrelevant to everyone but me. They are here to listen to the band play and that’s what matters.

I still think overall The Sluts are enjoyable and still know how to rock a venue. They bring all sorts of styles to the stage while still making it distinctly their own.

Technique: 3.8

Presentation: 2.5

Audience: 3

Brownie Points: 0

Total: 9.3

Micha Anne Sparks the Night

As a music lover it’s very easy for me to love music. As a music critic it’s much more challenging to impress me. Micha Anne, however, managed to do appeal to both aspects. Daunted with the challenge of being an opening act as well as an acoustic one in a venue like The Replay Lounge Micha Anne bared her soul in a dazzling, prismatic way.

Despite the intimate and small setting it is hard to play a venue like The Replay. There’s a lot to compete with, such as the pinball games and everyone lining up for drinks. Micha, however, kept everyone engaged with her magnetic and firey personality, call and answer parts to songs, as well as sharing of the story behind her empowering songs. It lends an extra level of tenacity as well as vulnerability. Such combinations musically are rare and bring a level of authenticity missing locally. While at times the lyrics were a bit cliché or the vocals a bit pitchey it is easily glossed over by her rich, smooth and dynamic vocals. Such songs reach into the soul as if to share the flame.

I don’t know when Micha Anne plays next, but her performances aren’t to be missed.

Technique: 3.8

Presentation: 3

Audience: 3

Brownie Points: 0

Total: 9.8

The Soundtrack: October 2018

This month started off quiet and then picked up in the end. Unfortunately I picked most of the songs by then and felt a little too lazy to go back and revise my decision. As usual I pick 4 songs from music released in the particular time, in this case October 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.

Pabllo Vittar “Problema Seu”

Atreyu “Anger Left Behind”

Sister Sparrow “Ghost”

Disturbed “A Reason to Fight”

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

Album Review: Mantrum’s “The Age of Vultures”

Mantrum_The-Age-of-Vultures

Mantrum tweeted how they were looking for people to review their album. Not one to turn away an opportunity to review an album I contacted them. One promo download later I had THE AGE OF VULTURES ready to review.

This band comes out of Germany and seem to encompass a general metal style, citing various subgenres such as thrash and black metal as part of their style. They started in 2011 and have been working up towards this album release with other small releases. THE AGE OF VULTURES is their debut album and, per the band, self released.

The band certainly offers up and interesting array of metal. Elements of nü-metal emerge in songs like “Ode to Misery and “Slaves to the System” where polyrhythmic and syncopated patterns of thrash and black metal merge with sociopolitical topics growled out to create something raw and at times unbridled. I saw this most often in songs like “As Forces Collide” and “Enter the Void”. At times the rhythm structure really compliments the lyrics and add lots of depth such as “Metamorphosis”. Other times, however, it doesn’t seem to fit, especially when it seems sudden breaks are meant to serve as a lackadaisical transition like in “Trail of Doom” , “As Forces Collide”, or “Inferno”. It feels like this is further enforced by lyrics that are straight forward and, at times, angst ridden like in “Metamorphosis” and “Lost”. I get the impression more often than not the band went with what sounded cool. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se. Some people like their metal to be simply brazen and intense, which this band delivers. I could see these songs bringing the audience to a frenzy at a concert.
I suspect that same audience fervor influenced the arrangement of songs on this album. It’s not a problematic way of arranging. Then again, I felt overall “Enter the Void” was the weakest song to start the album. I could see why Mantrum opened up with it, but it doesn’t showcase how powerful the drumming can be or the intensity of the vocals, as these seem to be the band’s signature elements. I think either “Metamorphosis”, “Vampirism”, or “Inferno” were the best songs to start the album. They really showcase the band’s talents. Plus those songs start off with the right intensity to immerse the listener in that intensity and raw power of the band.
Those wanting raw intensity in their metal will love Mantrum. Despite some of my issues where they focus more on feeling and little forethought to aesthetic I think the tenacity and expression that makes metal what it is comprises the heart of this album.

3.25/4

THE AGE OF VULTURES is out now and available online and on streaming sites. You can find them on theirofficial website, twitter, and facebook (though the page is in German).

The Ghost Lawsuit: Lessons Learned

I didn’t expect to write this blog post, but after the announcement of the lawsuit dismissal against Tobias Forge it provoked some thoughts. Maintaining any musical group isn’t an easy task, and as time wears on members grow and even evolve beyond the confines of any group. How that growth and evolution is handled depends on the situation. If it happens in a small music community handling such issues becomes a minefield that can explode, leaving pain and resentment. Regardless there are important, though apparent, lessons when forming a music group gleaned from this lawsuit.

The utmost lesson is the importance of getting everything in writing. One of the biggest points in the dismissal was because, while there is no legal definition of a “band”, the role and duties of members weren’t defined where any argument could be made about specific contributions or earnings. The only thing the court could go by were the contracts offered. If anyone outside of Tobias Forge created characters or songs the evidence is scant, if at all existent. When everything is specified about who gets what and for how much there are fewer chances of issues. And, no, that isn’t from a legal aspect and nothing in this should be construed as legal advice, just my observations (it should go without saying, but that’s part of the joy of living in a highly litigious nation). Even with expectations given in writing sometimes contribution levels are hard to discern.

Contribution is always an issue with groups be it for bands, projects, or anything else. Sometimes the contribution is specific to only one or two people. This is often seen in projects or the result of organic evolution of a group. The last one is where most groups get into trouble. The earlier the role of each member is established the better. I think, though, based on what has been made public that was part of the issue. I get the impression that it was clear in Tobias Forge’s head, but maybe not apparent for the others. That would explain why they left and the resentments surrounding the updated contract. This was probably exacerbated by how at least one former member was friends with Tobias Forge.

Emotional bonds within any professional environment is inevitable. Performance art requires a level of trust and bond. It’s why some recruit their romantic partner, family, or friends as there’s already a bond and familiarity. This has also proven to have many pitfalls. Personal tensions between people have a way of spilling over in their shared endeavors with disastrous results. Moreover it tends to end up messy and public. In the case of the lawsuit it ended up unmasking the frontman. To say that part wasn’t calculated nor based on emotion would be naïve. Though I covered many of the risks involved I don’t discourage people from forming anything musical with friends or loved ones, let alone breaking up anything when it gets to that point. It is something that must be considered when entering a partnership with close personal ties. I’m fully aware there are groups where personal ties work out. However for every success story there are ten failures. The lawsuit with Ghost proves how this one ended.

If one thing can be taken away from all of this, besides getting everything in writing, is the importance of consideration, be it for the long term or for the dynamics incurred. I think most saddening about this lawsuit is not how public it was but the cautionary tale it serves and who really wins in the end. As far as the courts are concerned it’s obvious. But there are clearly underlying feelings that will remain unresolved for some time, if they’re ever resolved.

What the Music Modernization Act Means to Everyone

I’ll admit I’m beating a dead horse by talking about the Music Modernization Act, but honestly I’m amazed there isn’t more buzz. It’s a big deal, and one where people who should benefit will (or at least put the gears in motion). It is not perfect, but it’s a start in acknowledging changes in the industry that have been going and will continue.

The Music Modernization Act streamlines a few different acts, including the CLASSICS Act, the AMP Act, and parts of the Fair Play Fair Pay Act. It basically mitigates liability for companies and makes licensing for playing songs a bit easier and efficienct via electronically. It will accomplish some of this by consolidating all of the current music databases into one database run independently of the labels. Moreover it establishes rates based on the market value of music as well as who gets what.

What does all of this mean? For artists it means a lot. It means musicians and companies can negotiate a better rate for airplay, get paid faster, as well as giving them the option to distribute royalties to producers and other contributors. It also extends who can get royalties for what songs and extends royalties to songs before February 15, 1972 (lots of artists before or around the 50’s have been royally screwed over in their dues). Admittedly it seems much of this tends to favor signed artists, but it is a start.

Despite the strides forward this act certainly isn’t without problems. The first issue is compiling several different music databases into one. This has to be done within 90 days of its signing on October 11th. There are also issues of how to handle unclaimed songs, which seems to be solved with setting up a claim before a deadline, where if unclaimed will then go into a publishing house of sorts. There are also issues of how to handle indie artists (which honestly seems to be addressed in the law with unclaimed songs) and indie songwriters to ensure their fair due (which doesn’t seem to be addressed apart from the deadline for current songs). I think this is the only real unaddressed issue of the act.

Now that it’s established what it means for the music industry what does it mean for music listeners? It actually means more music will potentially be available for streaming. Quite often I hear how musicians don’t make their music available for streaming –or, in some cases, pull it –due to licensing or royalties. Having a modernized and comprehensive system provides a better incentive for artists to use platforms like streaming. If the act provides enough incentive for indie artists they too can take advantage of it and expose more listeners to their music. This last part, however, is dependent on some aforementioned factors for indie artists and creators. If the act properly addresses those issues indie artists could take advantage of that, and it creates a platform for indie creators to further their independence from mainstream labels. Again this is a boon for listeners as this means more music is out there.

While it does have problems the Music Modernization Act creates a foundation for the industry to shed an antiquated model and allow for more freedom for artists to function independently, possibly even as a more lucrative model. The implementation of the act will prove to an absolute benefit to those in the mainstream industry, but time will tell how it works out for indie artists.