Tag Archives: rock

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

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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

The Soundtrack: February 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 February 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.

Rhye “Song for You”

Yeah, there are going to be some sappy, bittersweet love songs in here. February seems to be the month for heartbreak so I thought I’d roll with it.

Alele Diane “Yellow Gold”

This is another sappy love song, and admittedly I thought with the title it could tie into other events of the month. It doesn’t but, hey, sappy bittersweet love song for Valentine’s Day.

Pop Evil “Waking Lions”

In America students are marching and protesting for gun control after the umpteenth mass shooting. While gun control is a divisive issue no one can deny how these students, some of whom were running from gunfire just days before, gathered the strength to fight for their beliefs. If that’s not admirable I don’t know what is, and I feel this song captures their spirit.

Don Diablo “Echoes”

This is another one that I felt captured the indomitable spirit that humans possess. Whether it’s competing against the world in a sport of lifelong dedication or fighting to fix a broken system I think this song captures that feeling quite well.

If you want to check out what I picked last month you can check out this post or go to my YouTube playlist.

Soundtrack for January 2018

One of my secret fans contacted me and told me how much they loved the idea of a soundtrack for the year and suggested I have one for each month. I thought about it, and not one to be above puff pieces and fodder of the like, decided to go forward with it.

Those of you who aren’t bots reading my blog will remember that, rather than picking favorite or least favorite songs, I go with the songs I feel best describe the time. I don’t look at genre, I don’t consider the song’s popularity, nor do I consider my personal tastes. This is the about the music and mood. The only thing I consider is whether or not it was released at a certain time, in this case it’s January 2018. For the time being I’m going to have four songs a month, because why not? I gotta be lame and have my themes, after all.

Jeff Rosenstock “YR Throat”


I felt this month had an element of feeling suppressed simultaneously with the vocal expression going on, or saw some consequence to expressing oneself as I also saw this month.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club “Little Thing Gone Wild”


Some are probably thinking about correcting me about how this song was technically released last year. The video was released last year, but the album on which it belongs was released this month. At any rate I felt it captured how some things did, well, get a little crazy this month. This song captured it quite well.

Joe Satriani “Energy”


I feel this song really captures the, well, energy of this month. If it isn’t the zeal that comes from the start of a new year it’s the zeal to set out to right wrongs, fight against longstanding oppressions, and political figures who epitomize hatred.

Watain “Sacred Damnation”


This was another song where the video was released before the album. That aside I felt this was another song that meshed well with public outcry for change and finally having a voice in those issues.

I also decided to start a playlist on YouTube of the songs I pick for this year. If you want to check it out feel free to do it.

My 2017 Soundtrack

I thought I’d do something, for me, a bit different to cash in on “end of the year” posts. Instead of acknowledging that another year has gone by and continue as normal I’ll put together songs from the year that I feel best serve as the “soundtrack” for that year. So I’ll use songs from 2017 that I feel best describe the year. I feel 12 songs, one for each month, should suffice for this purpose.

Now, this “soundtrack” is by no means a pick of my favorite songs or anything. It’s just a list of songs I think best describe the year and why. Admittedly it is heavily influenced by the politics of this year and I’m sure many are exhausted by it, but I still felt it set the mood for the year.

Phoebe Bridgers “Motion Sickness”

I feel the way this year has been an emotional roller coaster with everything from scandals to political upheaval we’re all a bit emotionally numb. Besides, someone somewhere is probably going through some relationship drama. It’s certainly great for capturing emotional turmoil.

Thievery Corporation “Ghetto Matrix”

The political climate of the year, especially when it concerns human rights, and the political influence that shows up in this duo’s music their latest album The Temple of I & I came to mind. The reggae influence, paired with how reminiscent it is in musical and political nature to “Get Up, Stand Up”, serves as an anthem for a new generation of oppressed and disenfranchised people worsened by corporate exploitation.

Overkill “Goddamn Trouble”

If this year wasn’t tumultuous on a sociopolitical level it certain was on a personal level. What better way to let out some old school nonsense than with some old school metal attitude, and Overkill still delivers on that front.

Lana Del Ray “Love”

OK, judge all you want. There was enough political turmoil to parallel the 60’s so I think this song with its 60’s vibe complimented it to also remind people there were elements of superficial escapism via pop culture.

Kesha “Rainbow”

This is a year where in the turmoil lots of healing came out of it. If it wasn’t healing there was some closure. Who could be better to include than Kesha, after her very public turmoil with her label?

P.O.S. “Pieces/Ruins”

There is a lot going on in this song. For many it felt like this year was a constant fight, and this song captures that aspect. They also felt like they were being pillaged and exploited like this song covers. This song also covers how many feel disenfranchised and have to pick up the pieces. Again, this was a politically charged year and the song definitely reflects it.

Björk “Blissing Me”

I think most people can relate to how a song can be incredibly intimate for the listening. The disjointed nature of the song adds another layer that I felt described this year: a search for intimacy and interconnection that ends up slightly hollow.

Poppy “Bleach Blonde Baby”

Admittedly I was reluctant to include Poppy as the whole thing is a really cool yet complex art project. Seriously, check it out. It’s a commentary on pop culture. So why did I end up including Poppy? I decided that while the commentary is not new it’s done in an interesting way, and it did sum up a lot of YouTube pop culture this year.

Julien Baker “Turn Out the Lights”

This album has an overall melancholy air and this song is no exception. This year has left a lot of unfinished business and messes to clean in the wake of the political turmoil. The overall tone of emptiness give it that much more reason to add it to this year’s soundtrack.

Alice Glass “Natural Selection”

Just as 2017 was disarming and dissonant so is this song by Alice Glass. The year was seemingly disjointed, jarring, and full of chaos with sweet tones just like this song.

Waxahatchee “Sparks Fly”

This goes back to my 60’s pop culture vibe I got this year. Unlike the other songs that I felt captured it this year this really captures both the political awakening vibe and the superficial pop culture vibe.

Mastodon “Steambreather”

Not gonna lie, I just wanted to include this song because it’s Mastodon. Plus, have you seen the video? Check it out.

This pretty much sums it up for me this year. See you guys in 2018, where I’ll have quite a few more reviews and other things happening.

CS Luxem Shines Their Light (And It Didn’t Help My Migraine)

CS Luxem broke the monotony of ambient music in the night with their combination of music and social awkwardness. While it seemed odd it came together for an interesting show that provided the only fresh air that was in The Replay Lounge by that part of the night.

Luxem provided a nice break from all the ambient music with their combination of doo-wop paired with a strong bass line. Adding off-key vocals and some synth elements to the mix does max it interesting, though at times it felt a little hokey. I felt like at times there was too much in the mix that it was a bit of overkill, such as too strong of a bass line or too much reverb that seemed to serve no purpose. On a more positive note they remind me of a grittier 10 CC.

As I’ve said with other bands that night I’m giving some leeway about their performance as I couldn’t see the stage thanks to a tight crowd. I’m going to give them even more leeway because I started to feel ill and left in the middle of their set. I feel because of that they didn’t get a fair review without it, especially when I left it seems they really started to play their finer songs. What I did get to note was while sometimes over the top musically CS Luxem also delivered equally goofy stage antics. At times it came off a part of the act, but it also felt a little contrived as if trying to mask something.

The audience enjoyed the antics, though, and showed it with lots of cheering. Sadly this section is pretty sparse, which adds to why I’m giving them leeway. It’s not their fault, but at least the audience got to enjoy them.

As I’ve said CS Luxem combines doo-wop and synth with goofiness. What little I did review shows that while a bit rough around the edges can provide something unique and a bit reminiscent of 70’s and 80’s music. I hope to give them a more complete review in the future.

 

Technique- 2

Presentation- 1.5

Audience Interaction- 1

Brownie Points- 0.75

Total- 5.25