REVIEW: Bunnygrunt’s “Vol. 4″

Bunnygrunt photo Bunnygrunt_cover_zpsnzi8tlpn.jpg The album cover is homage to Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4 but instead of Ozzy Osbourne extending his hands, it’s a cat. Or at least I think it’s a cat. Nonetheless, Bunnygrunt are here with what some are calling their 4th or 5th album, but Vol. 4 (Happy Happy Birthday To Me) shows what it can take for a band to completely rock your face off, even if the sound quality is not superior compared with others or it’s that sharp.

Is the music as raw as The Mummies or something recorded on a cassette, not quite. It sounds like a nicely made demo where things aren’t tweaked to perfection but those things help give the music a bit of grit, or something like that. The majority of the songs are about three minutes, if not less (some very less) but there’s one song, “Chunt Bump”, that runs at 7:02. It comes off like the Sonic Youth song that features Lee Ranaldo where you want to separate everything and pay attention to that one song. However, by doing that, you also focus on the remaining 15 songs that are true scorchers. Songs go back and forth between male and female vocals but when you hear the harmonies of both, it works with brilliant perfection. The cool thing is that as raw as these songs sound, full of garage rock power, there is no mistaking what they’ll sound like in a nightclub. You’ll want to hear stuff like this louder and in your gut. There are occasional odd glimpses of slight weirdness, such as the ragtime feel of “Tonight You Belong To Me” but then it gets back into the blooodiness of band who rip up their instruments without regret. Even during songs that may remind some of the charmful pop of The Partridge Family (as you may hear in “1000% Not Creepy (Weepop Version)”), you’ll play another song and it will feel like busting out the crevice of your noise full of acne. It’s that fun and just when they group will make you want to rip your eyes out and eat it, they revert into a delicate corner of the room and get slyly delicate to play with your emotions. By the end, you want to experience the unique musical changes again.

REVIEW: Frog’s “Kind Of Blah”

Frog photo Frog_cover_zpspptjqrbj.jpg Kind Of Blah (Audio Anti-Hero) is the kind of pop music that music fans would want to immerse themselves into on a regular basis, for it is a wonderful and balanced blend of pop and rock, with enough eclectic qualities that show they are not afraid to share a sense of humor because they may not take themselves too seriously. In other words, the guys of Frog aren’t here to share any level of snobbery and while the humor may be in the distance in most of their songs, that subtlety is very much present. You can say that their music fits alongside the likes of Brad, Weezer, Qui, and the Foo Fighters, bands where you can champion because they sound good but don’t mind laughing with because they expose that side of themselves without being ashamed. They seem to want to enjoy dipping in and out of different things within each songs, loving the aggression of hard rock and punk while throwing in new wave here, late 70’s pop there, synth pop way over there, and early 90’s alternative grooves without trying to cash in or try to be trendy. The music here is easily accessible but I say this because it’s accessible to me, someone who feels they are pop music traditonalists will throw flags and call this an abomination, but it’s not. This is the type of pop/rock craftiness that needs to be heard and hopefully more people discover their sounds, they will continue to make music like this, exploring and going beyond their limits, and become a force. I wish them well.

REVIEW: Marshmallow Coast’s “Vangelis Rides Again”

Marshmallow Coast photo MarshmallowCoast_cover_zps2lthdwjl.jpg Marshmallow Coast has been making music for 20 years and have been releasing albums on the Happy Happy Birthday To Me label for awhile. They have a new one in 2015 and this one is humble and promising, and it’s called Vangelis Rides Again. If you love the brand of pop Andy Gonzales continues to perfect with each release, you are really going to like this effort.

Vangelis Rides Again is a 9-song EP, two of which are brief interludes but if you are someone who only likes to hear music in small doses, you’re going to enjoy this. “Homeless Baby” takes portions of The Coasters’ “On Broadway” and brings it into modern times, as if there isn’t a sense of optimism but you still must have some sense of home, somewhere. “Foreign Dental” sounds like something you might find on a Todd Rundgren or Let’s Active album while the title track is slightly groove, slightly funky, slightly psychedelic, but borderline trippy, the song that might make you go “who is this?” and “I must invest time in the back catalog.” It’s a lot of wonderful pop textures from someone who is willing to take the listener wherever he goes musically and while some American ears may not find this of interest, I can see this being very favorable in the UK and other countries who love their pop with fondness.

REVIEW: The OF’s “Escape Goat”

The OF photo TheOF2015_cover_zpskwvowaxm.jpg The adventures of The OF have returned with a new album taht has them even more adventurous than they were before and if Escape Goat (Green Monkey) is an accurate description of where they are right now, they are going to remain tripping around anywhere and everywhere for the next few years. The mixed bag of styles and textures are a bit like Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa with Sun Ra and Hellcows, the latter a Portland, Oregon band that I loved who twisted things from any and all sources, turning their music into unpredictable things before you’re left wondering where you are and eventually not caring. What I love about the sound of the production is that it sounds like an independent album, it’s direct without elaborate echo or reverb, it sounds slightly raw but very polished at the same time. It comes off like the kind of party album you might find accidentally but upon listening, you do not want to return it from the place you stole it from. “Bottom Feeder” sounds like a more elaborate version of The Edgar Winter Group’s “Frankenstein”, complete with dual guitar/saxophone solos and its eleven minute duration doesn’t allow itself to slow down for anyone or anything. If you are to look at the cover, you might say “eight songs? Is that it?” With two 11 minute songs and one 13 minute song, “that’s it” is much more elaborate than you assume. Pat Nevin’s vocals and John Carey’s primary songwriting (Nevil co-wrote “Damn Dirty Hippy” with Carey) is slightly twisted upon first listen but let it soak in and it will be understood. Then when The OF get locked in instrumental mode, it’s about exploring different zones and wondering where they themselves will end out of. In other words, it’s the kind of uneasy rock that enjoys going on travels with you and themselves, and they’re not ready to be comfortable by staying in one spot. Escape Goat is that goat being spanked on a mountain on a road to who knows where, the fun part is to watch where it plans on ending up.

REVIEW: La Chat’s “Murder She Spoke II”

La Chat photo LaChat_cover_zpseft2ry3t.jpg La Chat’s voice is quite good, I have no complaints about it but the songs on Murder She Spoke II (Select-O-Hits/Phixieous Entertainment) doesn’t motivate me to want to listen to it again. One time was enough and even during the listening session I was thinking “do I have to continue listening to this?” It could’ve been a snippet file with 15 seconds excerpts of the 17-song album and I probably would’ve been happier. I just found some of her lyrics to be boring and because of it, the songs are lackluster. When you make an album and the people who guest star on it outdo you, you need to tell your producers or executive producers “sharpen this, please”. If you want a better La Chat project, get the album she did with Gangsta Boo, Witch. I didn’t hate Murder She Spoke II at all but it’s just not for me.

REVIEW: Simon Toldam Trio’s “Kig Op 15″

Simon Toldam Trio photo SimonToldam_cover_zpsrmnphozr.jpg Upon first listen to Kig Op 15 (ILK) the music by the Simon Toldam Trio sounded like something I expected to hear on Sesame Street or some kind of program on PBS, very friendly in a Dave Brubeck sort of way. However, “Hop” is just the first track. Once the album gets to song #2 with “Propel 15″, that’s when the friendliness gets a bit peculiar. The music throughout is centered around the piano work of Simon Toldam, but he is complimented by collaborators Knut Finsrud (drums) and Nils Davidsen (bass), and one of the great things about this is that even when things sound smooth and coordinated, they’re not afraid to adjust themselves at unexpected moments, then throw themselves out somewhere else to keep people on their metaphorical toes. The press release album calls this “the second album of an Autumn-Spring duology” but regardless of what season you’re meant to interpret this as, it’s the kind of music that lets you know that these musicians are not only talented, but they’re doing it to test themselves and one another. The press release also states the music is similar to looking up at the sky to see lightning bolts, air-light gliders, a crescent moon, trees and other random things that are placed in your viewing space. In other words, it’s like life itself, unsure of what you’re seeing, where they came from or why and even with repeat listens, you want to enjoy that spontaneity. The music was recorded about a year ago and released about eleven months later, but it could be heard ten to twenty years from now and it’s still going to feel like the first time in whatever way. European jazz can be very testy but it knows when the test is over, you will be rewarded.

REVIEW: ANCST/AST split album

ANCST/AST photo ANCSTAST_cover_zpslrcscrpj.jpg If you’re looking for some solid death metal and black metal, you may already seek the warmth of the music scene from Germany. If so, you may already know of the bands ANCST and AST. With similar names, perhaps it was inevitable they worked together, which they have with a brand split effort.

ANCST sounds like brutality and the end of humanity as we know it, mixed loudly but with a sense of clarity that will make everything distinct and to the point. AST sound like something straight out of the 1980’s, as if the guys in Bathory, OLD, and Dark Angel joined for one hellish brew. The music sounds beautifully crusty and mixed in a way that comes off like Alex Perialas was there to oversee everything. Together, the four songs they each contribute to the album may make you argue to yourself which is better than the other, but then again, you’re not there to play tag team with your musical interests, you are there to simply love the metal offered and consume it like poison entering your pores. No poisons here though, this is just darkness and blackness slowly immersing into your mind.

(500 copies of this is being pressed on vinyl on Vendetta Racords, 400 black copies, 100 pressed on silver. Digital fiends can stream and purchase the files by heading to Bandcamp.)

REVIEW: Jeremy Bass’ “New York In Spring”

Jeremy Bass photo JeremyBass_cover_zpss4g2ylw8.jpg The music of Jeremy Bass sounds ready made for any and all different projects, and when I say “projects”, I mean in something like television shows, motion pictures, video games, anything that has to do with media, Bass wouldbe the guy you’d want to rely on to create some positive music because his work sounds positive. If you like the work of Jack Johnson but without sounding like the spokesperson for Sleepytime tea, you may enjoy the vibe of New York In Spring, where you’ll here someone with the kind of spontaneity-yet-strict-arrangements not unlike some of the best music Elton John has created in the last 45 years. As the photos on the covers show, he could easily be just your friend, hanging out on the couch in his living room and playing whatever he feels at any given time, but what comes forth is someone who knows how to execute it and how to make it work with structure from beginning to end. Yet would someone who is ready made for any and all different projects be someone you’d want to listen to? I guess at times, I view at how pop music is structured these days and Bass doesn’t necessarily fit in. But if you cater to that younger, more impressionable audience, you may limit yourself to what’s popular. Bass creates the music that you not only desire but becomes what you need. Hearing his version of The Beatles’ “Julia” can easily be one of the best moments of New York In Spring for if we are to speak about what New York represents for some, it is where John Lennon moved to and lived with Yoko Ono, and thus his spirit lives on during the spring, or any time of the year. Does the music represent what New York is today, or what it was? Or does it matter? Find a way to interpret these songs the way you want and you may discover why what he makes is for any and all because interpretation can lead to good things. So you can hear some songs of love for New York, be it at the park, on thesidewalk, or in a cafe, multi-seasonally speaking.

(Bass’ New York In Spring will be released in June.)

REVIEW: Cameron Siegal & Friends’ “World Junk”

Cameron Siegal & Friends photo CameronSiegal_cover_zpsrtqslpee.jpg The back cover for World Junk (self-release) states thetmusic “synthesizes world styles, jazz, and funk to create music that can only be categorized as Strong in Spirit”. That’s one way of saying it, for if music isn’t spirited in some fashion, what good is it? But you can say there is a very good vibe in the music by drummer, percussionist, and composer Cameron Siegal, who conducts his friends to create the kind of jazz that isn’t drowsy or redundant. What I do like are the “world sounds”, which comes from different cultural references where you may hear a bit of Brazil here, a pinch of Klezmer perhaps over there, and sometimes progressive rock influences where you might not expect it, but here it is. I was going to use the world “seasonal” to describe some of these songs as a way to say that it sounds like these guys applied the seasoning to make this something quite sacred. I don’t mean spiritual or religious, but there is a sense of devotion to their playing that comes off like musicians who know and understand the recipes of the songs and want to contribute their own to make this a wonderful musical melting pot. There’s a little bit of something for everyone, World Junk is the perfect title but in a very nice way. One persons junk is another persons treasure, this one is made for musical diggers.

REVIEW: The Wheel Workers’ “Citizens”

The Wheel Workers photo WheelWorkers_cover_zpsc2qlrkpq.jpg Eight songs at 32 minutes may sound like a short album but sometimes it’s all you’ll need to get by, especially with a new group As The Wheel Workers say in the opening song “Yodel”, they have a story or two to tell us and they begin in a fashion that has someone playing what sounds like a Farfisa organ, but doing that with the kind of swagger Rev. Horton Heat or Fleshtone fans will appreciate. What I speak of is a garage rock passion, which then leads into a bit of electronic trippiness with “Burglar”, which could be Devo, could be Gary Numan, or it might be Franz Ferdinand, perhaps Ben Folds or Brent Bourgeois. These guys, lead by Steven Higginbotham, like to twist things up to where people are unable to specifically say what makes them work. They work but cover a number of different territories, so some songs may have a lot of pop craftsmanship, other songs may incorporate different textures to where you eventually forget what you were trying to compare them to. The Citizens may be the people on the illustrated cover they’re trying to perform/convert to, or maybe it’s you as a potential fan. Either way, consider The Wheel Workers a community of greatness that want to convert you into someone devoted to their cross. Whether it’s 90’s alternative/indie rock and pop or something caught in the twists of 80’s new wave, you’ll hear all of it and more right here.

(Citizens will be out on May 26th, pre-order a copy below via Amazon.)