Tag Archives: music

Scott Yoder Is Still Out of This World

I’ve reviewed Scott Yoder before and was quite excited when I learned he would be in Lawrence again. That is a major bias to consider when reading this review. However my bias isn’t without warrant. Moreover thanks to a smaller crowd I noticed much more than I could last time.

As I noted in my previous review Scott Yoder’s phenomenal and experimental nature thrives in a performance space. It still maintains this otherworldy feel thanks to the combination of atonal vocals, distortions, psychedelia, and the gritty feel of garage. There were times the transitions and lyrics were lacking, but the instense nature of some of the songs made up for it. The audience is taken through a journey which includes polyrhythmic textures and syncopation to convey many moods. The audience , led by Yoder and his lively musicians, will feel the timbres ranging from raw vulnerabilities to intense movements leading through a rhapsody and suddenly ending it all. The bravado of the music matched the pageantry and outright brazen attitude rarely seen onstage.

There are many times where the audience was captivated by this performance. Yoder, in a brave move to include a candle, convinced the audience to sit down to gather around it while he sang a folksy song. Such audience participation takes much to establish and this was effectively established early in the set. In fact, the audience was so captivated by the bravado of both Yoder’s music and performance the audience demanded an encore. That is very uncommon for The Replay, and I always enjoy seeing such enthusiasm.

I think most people won’t regret catching Scott Yoder’s performance if given the chance. His act, despite the size, has the same intensity as any big name band with a big budget with incredible detail to music that maintains a raw but powerful expression.

You can find more about this artist on Facebook, his website, twitter, and Instagram.

 

Technique-3

Presentation-3

Audience Interaction-3

Brownie Points-0.5

Total-9.5

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Plastic Man, Authentic Music

Coming out of Italy and. Admittedly I hadn’t heard of them before this tour with Scott Yoder, but I found them intriguing. Rather than doing my research like a halfway decent music critic, though, I felt a need to keep the mystique until the concert. I wasn’t disappointed.

Plastic Man delivers a sound reminiscent of 60’s psychedelic rock with transitions so subtle and practically inimitable one practically gets carried away, even when the music changes gears and will enter more of a grunge and surfer genre. Where the music should jar the flow with atonal harmonies or dissonance created by discords most of the time aids the build up of each song. Despite many contemporary attributes that add complex textures to the music it still maintains the aesthetic of music one would hear on a 60’s psychedelic playlist. The music was deft, but gaining an audience was a struggle.

The dance party that took place on the other stage seems to have carried throughout the night and Plastic Man also had to fight for the crowd. They did eventually trickle in, and those who came in enjoyed the show. There are a few suggestions I would make that could help for a venue like the The Replay. Having timed lights for certain moments was on the right track (though at times it didn’t seem to fit the mood) but the band wasn’t very animated. This was a night where bands have to fight to win the audience’s attention because they are fighting with another stage as well as a slew of other distractions. Some things like moving a bit more on stage. I know this can be challenging on a small stage, but it can be done. Since this band seems heavily influenced by 60’s rock looking at performances during those periods and drawing from those might enhance many of the aesthetics . If it’s pulled off well enough it will naturally mesh with everything else the band has to offer.

You can find this band on Facebook, bandcamp, soundcloud, and Instagram.

Technique-3.5

Presentation-2

Audience Interaction-2

Brownie Points-0.5

Total-8

Drugs & Attics Subdued but Still Under the Influence

All my secret fans will remember I’ve reviewed Drug & Attics another time at The Replay Lounge. Those who are regular secret fans probably wonder how they measure up compared to last time (let me have my delusion). While it was a smaller crowd tonight (thanks to some dance party on the patio) it allowed me to catch some stuff I wasn’t able to catch last time.

Most of the stuff I have to say about the music is still the same. I was able to hear more of the lyrics this time, and I appreciated the humorous lyrics in many of the songs, and it’s the type of humor that matches some of their stage presence. I think the one that really got me laughing are the lyrics speculating whether the noise heard could either be fireworks or a gunshot. As for the sound of the band it seems Drugs & Attics committed to a more distinct sound this set. There were still elements of punk, but this set let more of the Southern rock, doo-wop, with sprinklings of distortions stand out without compromising the overarching playful nature of the band. At times, though, that playful nature ventured into more passive-aggressive territory.

The only reason I suspect there was something behind the scenes at play were some of the things said between songs. While the playful nature still matched the last show I caught it felt more subdued, and when it wasn’t subdued there were comments made about having to keep the set short. If it is a case where something happened behind the scenes it’s not something to allow the audience to know. Take it from the queen of oversharing, it doesn’t work out favorably. If it was meant to be some off color joke, it missed the mark like the Mike Tyson joke. Based on how this band is it can go either way and it’s something the audience noticed. Despite this stuff the band did get the small audience to grow (though I feel The Replay holding shows on two different stages at the same time is an unwise move) and they seemed to really enjoy the show.

If something was going on behind the scenes the best advice I have is for Drugs & Attics to not let the audience know. The music is fun while aligning perfectly with the band’s stage personality and entices the audience to join the fun. Everything else will fall into place.

You can check out the band on Facebook, bandcamp, and Instagram.

Technique-3.7

Presentation-2

Audience Interaction-2

Brownie Points-0.5

Total-8.2

Album Review: SAPPHIRES by La Guerre

As part of my resignation that I won’t have iTunes back anytime soon I’m forced to either get a new laptop or join the rest of 2019 by using music streaming services.

I ended up picking up a CD from the last concert I reviewed.

Based on the album information La Guerre has been around for some time, going back to at least 2009. This pop duo consists of of Orion Dollar and Katlyn Conroy, and she seems to be or have been everywhere. Part of her resume consists of opening for various bands and even playing in several local bands like Cowboy Indian Bears. She has been recognized locally for her vocals as she was named Pitch’s best female singer /songwriter of 2013. She’s still going strong, and while SAPPHIRES isn’t La Guerre’s latest album (depending on which platform I look at it is either 2014 or 2015) it is certainly a recent work that reflects the creative direction of the group.

The album cover I have. Photography will never be my strong suit.

The physical copy of the album intrigued me, as it felt like a demo with the way it was presented and had blind contour with some line art to appear as some revision. Matching this aesthetic is cursive lettering for cover art as well as the track list on the back. The disc has nothing written on it and looks like it was burned by the artist (on a Memorex disc, no less). It also came with a couple of stickers, which now reside on my change jar.

I like this one.

Overall it has a certain charm, though I think I prefer the cover art for the digital version on bandcamp. That cover seems more fitting for the music on the album.

The digital album cover

So why is the digital cover better suited for this album? The music itself tends to combine clear, emotionally precise vocals with distortions and echos, morose lyrics about loneliness, and polyrhythmic structures. This results in a creations of, at times, rich medley of different styles like experimental and doo wop with melodic imagery (“Mystery of My Bed”, “Everything”, and “Canonfire, Timpanis, Times”). At times La Guerre tries to deviate from this pattern with mixed results. When throaty Katlyn fails to hit the lower notes of her range and it serves as a detriment to her songs (“Deadbolt”) but also works to convey some of the emotional aspects of the song when well planned (“Myster of My Bed”, “She Kept You”, “Everything”). When the phrasing is changed around (“Any Other”, “Matthew”, “Favored”, and “Arrow and Bow”) it’s meant to serve as rhythmic play but sacrifices phrasing to create awkward statements that seem to go nowhere. The endings of the song, while awkwardly ending on a phrase as well, oddly works out in the same way that songs fade off in the end. It implies that, while it seems to go nowhere, it’s going to press forward to no foreseeable end. The multiple colors, textures, and incompleteness needs a fitting cover.

On the other hand I can see why the CD art also fits the music. While I’ll admit I’m probably reading too much into things at this point (I suspect the CD came out first), it does have a feeling that this is a series of demos that tried to come off as polished. The production quality is great for the most part (songs like “She Kept You” crackle on the higher end regardless of the format), but the songs themselves are still raw and lack completeness. There are elements like in “She Kept You” where there are background vocals evoking an angelic choir, but it’s hard to tell if it’s emphasizing “good news” or something else. This goes with the echo effect on “heart”. Then there are distortions in songs like “Two Sisters” that should convey something, but since they only occur at the end feel like it’s done for the sake of being different rather than conveying anything. That is also factoring into how it bleeds into “Everything”. I think more thought given to this would have reduced the eleven songs on the album to fewer, but complete songs.

Despite comparing the album art extensively I was thankful in my research to find a few platforms to compare the sound quality to the CD. One thing worth noting is the amount of loss between the CD and digital copies is noticeable. While some loss is to be expected between the formats it is most noticeable when I found it on Youtube (it actually crackles on some of my headphones, and this includes the decent quality headphones). It isn’t as noticeable on bandcamp, but it certainly lacks the depth in sound quality compared to the CD. I suspect this is the product of something during the transfer screwed up. I also had an issue where one song was a repeat of the previous song on my CD (my copy doesn’t have “Arrow and Bows” because of this), but I am willing to bet that’s my bad luck with technology. If it isn’t, though, I think the best bet is to go with the bandcamp copy. Of the three formats it is probably the best quality while guaranteeing all the songs will be on the album.

I think those in the Lawrence and Kansas City area looking for something different in local indie music will enjoy the clean vocals and familiarity of distortions and other technical delights. In terms of lyrical and composition, however, Katlyn leaves much to be desired on this album. It doesn’t take much to see where she was going artistically, but in leaving it half formed the work feels incomplete in a less than satisfactory manner. There’s no way for the listener to finish the work for oneself because there’s no direction for the music to go but forward into incomplete ideas.

3/4

You can check out La Guerre and Katlyn Conroy’s other works on bandcamp. You can also keep up with La Guerre on facebook and instagram.

The Soundtrack: 2018

After picking four songs that describe each month I thought I’d do something different. I figured to I’d take from all the songs I picked each month and, with a clearer view of how the year played out, pick 12 songs that best describe the year. It was difficult picking one song to represent each month, but I think I managed it. If you want to see which songs I picked this year you can check out my other posts or check out my Youtube playlist.

I hope you enjoy the soundtrack, and I hope all my readers have a safe and happy new year.

1. Joe Satriani “Energy”

2. Pop Evil “Waking Lions”

3. Dorothy “Ain’t Our Time to Die”

4. Theivery Corporation “Music to Make You Stagger”

5. John Hopkins “Luminous Beings”

6. Florence + The Machine “Hunger”

7. Wet “11 Hours”

8. Foxing “Heartbeats”

9. Eminem “Kill Shot”

10. Atreyu “Anger Left Behind”

11. Dead Can Dance “Act II: The Mountain – The Invocation – The Forest – Psychopomp”

12. Alan Walker “Interlude”

The Soundtrack: December 2018

Well, it’s the end of the year and I made it…somewhat. I tried to find some songs to capture the transition from one year to the next, as well as other things going on through the world, and I hope you like it.

Here’s a quick summary of what this post is about for people not familiar with it: I pick 4 songs from music released in the particular time, in this case December 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.

Metal Church “Monkey Finger”

Alan Walker “Interlude”

The Chainsmokers “Sick Boy”

Zayn “Insomnia”

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

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