Merchandise On Unknown Sundays 2023

Goods to be bought and sold.  That’s the very definition of the word “merchandise,” if you were to look it up.  It’s like saying “stuff,” and that can certainly be an extremely boring, blasé choice of words, depending on your topic of conversation or marketing stance.  Not exactly a keeper of a word, right?  Well let’s take a look at some band names in the past that have reached a bombastic level of achievement from such boring marketing terms, first, before we get into the Merchandise.

Nothing, the band literally calls their website www.wearenothing.com a marketer’s nightmare most of the time, right?  Blah Blah Blah, out of Chicago started getting some good ballroom rock buzz in 2015 with a sound that hit some Smith-like chords.  But how do you do a review, when there’s tendencies to want to play on words…careful!  What about the band called Record Company? And a few more bands or artists with names that don’t tell you much—or don’t say much; Hum, Common, The The, and Plain White T’s(Yes, that’s right this article back on October 2nd of 2016 sparked one of our first YouTube shows, That’s Your Band Name?!).

“Bring in Merchandise.” Record executive calls out un-excitedly, as if he’s planning on a short meeting. “Guys, you’re clever. A fugazi song, right?”  The band nods, expecting the worst.  “Guys, you have a wishy washy sonic sound that could be so tremendous.  You have this ever-changing sound-scape that allures a certain low-pop listener and bewitches the traditional recording process enough to be interesting, and you bring…from what I’m hearing…a variety of interpretations in a live setting.”  The band nods, again, feeling maybe a bit better.  “Cool, but are you really, Merchandise?”

Big long pause in the room…

An intern timidly says, “I want to buy their album.”

I guess the point be made, right? Whether this was somewhat the question back in 2009-2010 or not, it’s what I was thinking, when I saw their name come up on releases this past week (again, please remember this is October 2nd of 2016).  I was trying to recall if I had listened to them or not—or identify the sound from the title of their band, but I got nothing.  Then I listened to A Corpse Wired For Sound, and it didn’t matter whether I could place their song or previous albums from my musical recollection, as I was going to go on a great musical journey filled with fantastic impressions in sound and lyrics that gave a feeling like had discovered a fresh and expansive hardcore-punk Depeche Mode.  Then, I went back to After the End and Children of Desire and Totale Nite, getting a much fuller taste of the backward evolution of their own musical exploration and the many goods (from a variety of styles and emotions, changing completely from album to album–unlike most recording artists) that are available from Merchandise.  There is no doubt that the past home-recording style and snarly aggressiveness has faded over time, but they still hold very fast to being semi-genreless in their selective musical conscience.

I don’t know whether you should go forward or backwards on the Merchandise rack of music.  Will you be more turned by their mild manner of one record or their electronic noise with earnest words? I cannot guide you..it would be foolish.  But, I will say this, “A Corpse Wired For Sound” is one of the most unexpected albums I’ve listened to this year, and there is a vast future for their complex brand of music under such a simple, sellable name.

SPECIAL ARCHIVE POSTING NOTE

Merchandise Albums in my collection:  A Corpse Wired For Sound (2016), Totale Nite (2013), Children of Desire (2012)

This “Unknown Sundays” was done back on October 2nd, 2016.  The all parts, everything from punk to noise rock, art-pop and sonic fuzed indie rock band from Florida certainly had an eclectic palate of sounds.  I still go back to these records at least one each year, trying to determine the place it all has in the music multiverse.  I’m still pondering the dynamics of the band and their ability to transcend a true signature sound, keeping their audience tuned in as well and surviving such a very poor decision for a band name.  I would have even considered putting something in front of ‘Merchandise’ like — oh, no, I’m not going there — yes, I am!  How about  ‘Sonic Merchandise,’ ‘Broken Merchandise,’ or my favorite, ‘Unknown Merchandise!’  In actuality, when you think of the band ‘Live’ you might be struck in similarity of names (as Live is actually amazing live on stage), so perhaps, and I’ve never had the opportunity to purchase other than albums, but maybe they have the best — merchandise?  On another interesting note, if you try to type their 2004 album ‘Lo-tech Solutions to Hi-tech Problems,’ you will not be able to find it on Google as even that title is, well, low tech naming.  Wait!!!   Want to know what’s even stranger — that’s not them!  Which means, someone else chose the same name earlier in Bolton, UK with a completely different sound!  You should give that a listen, too (just for kicks), as you can see what kind of rabbit hole you can go down if you’re me! 

The real worth here on this ‘Merchandise’ band is their ability to hang and drag their sonic attitude throughout while beguiling the rest, which makes the a very interesting listen. – Mark Kuligowski  [November 26, 2023]

Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 36

We always strive for variety on these Album Review Saturdays (not that it’s always achieved), but this week we have achieved it for sure! We have a great sextet that has a very unique format and instrumentation that we will get into through the dark jazz guidance of a multi-instrumentalist.  The second album comes from a singer-songwriter across the pond that’s been wowing us for years, and in her latest effort she’s pushing her art-sound even further from where she started!  And, we decided to end on a terrorizing debut note from our friends at Ripple Music because they had us the minute we saw the cover.  The book-by-it’s cover kind of thing.  There’s plenty of sound in this week’s Album Review Saturdays, so make sure you give all of these artists a ear-crackin’ chance!

 

YouTube Album Review Saturdays Version [link]
[Join host, Mark Kuligowski, as he shares these albums and an additional three [3] not in this article]

 

The Lovecraft SextetThe Horror Cosmic

First of all, how did I find this magical instrumental record (well nearly all instrumental, as there are splendid operetic parts and a jazz vocal placed for full effect and affect)?  Well, one of these Unknown Sundays, I’m going to share with you a very, little known band that I absolutely love to play, Red Snapper.  When I saw searching for them, just checking to see what might be going on, I see a tribute album, and it’s done by The Lovecraft Sextet.  Well, that’s good enough for this music obsessive to go down a rabbit hole (as you all know by now).  And, low-n-behold, they have a new album out, and it’s called The Horror Cosmic.  Okay, so to be completely honest, I wanted to start with the tribute album, but I’m dedicated to you, here, people.  So, I start with this absolute fantastic dark jazz record that is as sound and mesmerizing as anything that’s come out this year!

This is the multi-instrumental brain child of Jason Köhnen (MANSUR, ex-The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, Bong-Ra, or The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation). This brilliant musical mind from the Netherlands might have coined the phrase “dark jazz” from what we can see in articles, but let’s just face it, he’s definitely the one bringing it truthfully through his music and projects throughout the music multiverse!  It’s exciting, engaging, and never, ever boring.  His knack for timing, instrumental inclusion and foreboding melody is a journey that even hints at classical, moody jazz, and emotional compositions that meld throughout, joined marvelously by sax and atmosphere (created and timed perfectly by the piano, drums, bass, vocals, and whatever else is in there — as I had a very hard time finding someplace that would give me the artists and the instruments.  Hell he could be the entire sextet for all we know).  If, there’s a Rob Zombie of the jazz world, then Mr. Köhnen is the soul thrown sitter, helming the deep sound, leading the underworld to the musical surface for your ears to take great pleasure in.  This is not to be missed, and ‘De Profundiis’ is our pick for instrumental song of the year!

Here is the statement from the bandcamp page, as we thought this would shed some light (darkness) on the project:

“The Horror Cosmic is a Lovecraftian cosmic horror short story which dives into the existential dread of the infinite nothingness.  The album was composed as a soundtrack to
accompany the illustrated short story and is an expanded step in the multidisciplinary aspect of the Lovecraft Sextet project. Therefore this release should be listened to as a soundtrack
with compositions working to accentuate a specific mood to the specific chapters of the story.   The Horror Cosmic will also be release as a very limited custom hardcover
illustrated short story book with a special vinyl color LP.”

The Horror Cosmic Tracklisting

  1. The Horror Cosmic
  2. Deliverance
  3. Approaching Menace
  4. De Profundiis
  5. What Lurks Beneath?
  6. Infermezzo
  7. Event Horizon
  8. Life Beyond
  9. Cold Was The Ground

 

Thea GilmoreThea Gilmore

Here’s another Unknown Sunday we could do.  Thea Gilmore (born in Oxford) has been putting out albums since 1998!  There are some artists that have been around longer that don’t have twenty albums in their repertoire (just so you can put that into perspective).  While her twentieth album, self titled, is not a representation of her past (more acoustic), it does give you a very definitive understanding of song-writer progress, timely interpretation, and the diligent sincere, story writing style that has given her the ability to maintain her career despite being relative unknown in the Northern hemisphere of music.  Thea Gilmore is, in my opinion, the most produced record in her catalog, and this has been growing with each and every album, taking her listeners in and out of her style and compositions, but never out of the melody and poignant writing that feels truthful, sincere, and real.  She’s apparently doing everything on this album, from the loops, samples and instruments and production, which truly showcases her complete, professional grasp and where she wants to take the listener.  She really knows how to place everything, track by track, and in the flow of the album, giving it all room to breath and be understood.

Okay, so she’s doing everything, so, self-titled seems utterly appropriate.  Cool check mark, there, and something I would encourage her to stay with considering the power and poignancy of the record.  Coming this late in her catalog, I’m paying closer attention to the lyric and mood of the tracks, as I’m expecting this to be the most introspective and soul bearing accomplishment of her career.  And, I believe songs like ‘Hope & Fury,’ ‘Unravel Me,’ and ‘The Next Time You Win‘ confirm some of that as she moves her listeners through the album’s heart, beauty and pain of the album.  Now, I want you to realize, at the point of writing this article, I had no idea she had done a project called Afterlight in 2021 (and I didn’t go back to listen to it, but I will after).  Yes, the loop and sample experimentation at first was a little off-guard, as it was something I had not considered in her style, but again I concentrate on the lyrics and their tension as well as he beautiful delivery, as it can take you “right down to the ashes,” as ‘Bones’ points out.  And, once we’re past that, it’s another intentful, soul-filled, indie-rock record with dynamic attention to connections, passionate awareness, and a very controlled, delivery that while grounded in familiar rhythms are guided much farther by her voice and worldly hymn like ‘Talking Out of Tune,’ ‘Home,’ and ‘The Bright Service’ showcase in conclusion of the record.  It’s another one woman triumph that requires paying closer attention to, as does her entire catalog.

Thea Gilmore Tracklisting

  1. Nice Normal Woman
  2. Bones
  3. Hope And Fury
  4. Unravel Me
  5. Ride On
  6. The Next Time You Win
  7. That’s Love Motherfucker
  8. The Chance
  9. She Speaks In Colours
  10. Talking Out Of Tune
  11. Home
  12. The Bright Service

 

TerromaniaNyctophobic

It’s time to get your hard rock metal on!  We can add a little doom feel, but this record’s amped up on the sonic side, reaching for the audience that’s heavy into pace, guitar nuances like that of Van Halen, Devin Townsend, and maybe Zakk Wylde or Niki Strauss.   The vocal, which again, is always something we wait for when it comes to Ripple Music releases, feels like it’s got a Ghost-ly connection with hard lead commitment with that doom harmony, grunt, growl, and even chants that work great within the riffing, grooving and hard driving push of the tracks.  Don’t think it’s all thrash and crash, though, as there’s some really gentle lyrics within ‘Lake Natron’ (wherever that might be).  So gentle I might stick my toe in the water.  No – nice try.  I’ll stay far back on she shore, as I’m sure there’s something lurking in the sand, too.  I’m not going to go skinny dipping anytime soon no matter what demon temptress might glisten above the water.

Nyctophobia is the fear of darkness or night.  While I can’t say that I can relate to that fear, as I’m a night-lover, this album is very intentful on reminding you of every facet of it, doing so in crunching and shredding, old-school throbbing vocals (with wonderfully timed screams I might add), and European-dark harmonies that lift the experience into a progressive nature along with some of the guitar work (aka the Townsend reference above).  The lyrics have their place, too, adding a thin layer of cheese (Alice Cooper comes to mind) to the glorious mix.  We get the range of every kind of darkness, which can be from old world scares to the extraterrestrial kind, and when all is said, played, and done, you’ve got a lot to be thankful for in the dark.  Nyctophobic is a well produced, determined and surprisingly fun debut album.  Metal is not dead by any account, and Terromania is a dark example of what’s lurking in the shredding shadows of the music multiverse of Finland and other places in the world.

The Band

  • Aleks Toppari – Bass
  • Miro Siljamäki – Drums
  • Antti Saarinen – Lead Guitars
  • Jyri Kuntsi – Rhythm Guitars
  • Julius Silvennoinen – Vocals

Nyctophobic Tracklisting

  1. The Invitation
  2. Disturbingly Beautiful
  3. The Pain Makes You Feel Alive
  4. Dead & Loved by You
  5. Lake Natron
  6. Ceremonial Graveyard
  7. Demon in the Rain
  8. In a Broken Mirror
  9. Lovely Nightmare
  10. The Desolation Witness
  11. Fight the Inner Darkness

Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 35

It is just getting near impossible to select the albums we review for these Album Review Saturdays.  In fact, this weekend it was impossible for me to even do the show (issues with national lacrosse tournament in Sarasota Florida).  There are so many albums released and releasing that we have really thought were worthy of reviewing (that’s the real positive spot), which is easy from a review standpoint, but there are those left on the review room floor.   Albums that should be talked about, if even briefly, so you can check them out!  I thought, what can we do to give those albums some love and exposure?  While I don’t have the time to dedicate to full written review and/or enough to time give them video coverage as extras on the YouTube versions of this blog, I had to come up with something.  A list?  That sounded good, and I could combine that with our Album Listen Challenge concept.  So, today, this Tuesday, in the slot that would normally be Album Listen Challenge Best of 2023 (the link is centered below) be on the look out for Album Listen Challenge Best of 2023 – Albums You Should Check Out 2023.  This list, if you’re a music lover and you like to take some risks with your usual play list, should be interesting and range in all kinds of beautiful direction.  This week’s three are definitely all over that “range” I just spoke above, and then some!  So let’s get to the reviews of these great albums, and you can check out the special YouTube show, too!

 

Album Listen Challenge Best of 2023 – Albums You Should Check Out!
(I talk about the albums below, but I also give you some albums to check out as you build your best of 2023)

 

John Cale – Mercy

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Mr. Cale, but considering the past three years in life under the COVID shutdown and everything else it’s very understandable, as an artist of his music connection and composition is definitely going to absorb it in fully before putting out a record of this stature.  Mercy is a full blown, deep listening experience in the instrumental accompaniment, and he has crafted a lyrical intensity and flow that really equal the grip, sensitivity and intentions.  While you can’t appreciate them all together at first because of the power and nature of both (especially if you’re listening to review an album like I was), the second listen starts to free up both sides of your brain so the experience takes a fuller shape.

The composition and melody have a mood that fits the past and present with great gothic undertones, while vocals and additional artists add flavor and necessary contrast.  This is not going to get you toe tapping, or ease your weary mind.  It can be intense and purposeful to the sights, sounds, and push that life requires.  This will probably be on a lot of this year’s “Best of” lists for good reason in all that it develops and brings to those that will venture toward it and take the time to hear what John Cale has put together here.  This album actually released very early this year, and I had been meaning desperately to get to it, but I knew I had to be in the right frame of mind to give the experience the attention it would require.  This album’s soul is bearing torment, realization, as well as hopefulness – but like in life – it must be found.  In this case, through the power of his sound, delivery and mercy.

The Band

  • John Cale – vocals, bass guitar, drums, piano, synthesizer, acoustic guitar, guitar, drone percussion, and all kinds of keyboard(s)
  • Matt Fish – cello
  • Ian Walker – double bass
  • Joey Maramba – bass guitar, bowed bass
  • Deantoni Parks – acoustic drums, timpani, additional synthesizers, electronic drums, additional drums
  • Dustin Boyer – guitar, bass guitar, backing vocals, rhythm guitar, guitar
  • Caroline Buckman – viola
  • Leah Katz – viola
  • Rodney Wirtz – viola
  • Eric Gorfain – violin
  • Marissa Kuney – violin
  • Jenny Takamatsu – violin
  • Nita Scott – additional drums, percussion and drum programming, backing vocals

Collaborators:

  • Tony Allen
  • Laurel Halo
  • Weyes Blood
  • Tei Shi
  • Avey Tare (Animal Collective)
  • Panda Bear
  • Dev Hynes
  • Sylvan Esso
  • Actress
  • Fat White Family

Mercy Tracklisting

  1. Mercy (Ft. Laurel Halo)
  2. Marilyn Monoroe’s Legs (Beauty Elsewhere) (Ft. Actress)
  3. Noise of You
  4. Story of Blood (Ft. Weyes Blood)
  5. Time Stands Still (Ft. Sylvan Esso)
  6. Moonstruck (Nico’s Song)
  7. Everlasting Days (Ft. Animal Collective)
  8. Night Crawling
  9. Not the End of the World
  10. The Legal Status Of Ice (Ft. Fat White Family)
  11. I Know You’re Happy (Ft. Tei Shi)
  12. Out Your Window

 

Dirk Maassen – Hear and Now

Along the same lines of an awareness, mood, and expressionism, comes the new and beautifully executed, Here and Now. Dirk is not only systematically sound in his piano execution, but so emotional with how his fingers press and decompress along the ivories. I am always amazed at how his solitude at the keys seems larger and expressive – although there’s no other accompaniment.

While it has a classical feel, it is not a recital. He his careful to make every track a journey, a sound, and an emotional statement that aligns with the title, not contrived, and certainly not one dimensional.  Equal parts elegant and assessable, allowing the listener to easily be impressions in their own attachment, which is the mark of someone loving what they can do with the instrument without becoming technically wound or structurally bound.  The production feels live and spacious, as if some sort of empty Cathedral or Church.

He appeals to those that are piano lovers and those working themselves into the genre.  Completely instrumental piano, but you get the feel that Tori Amos, Sarah Slean or Fiona Apple could have easily put lyrics and voice within…although I’m sure Dirk knows his limitations. This is another album from him that is so worthy of discussion for Best 23 Albums of 2023.  You would do your ears some service to give it an evening’s attention.

Hear and Now Tracklisting

  1. The Roads Not Taken
  2. Here and Now
  3. Farewell
  4. Only Now
  5. The Light You Are
  6. In My Place
  7. Here and Now (Variation)
  8. Right Here
  9. In Lucid Moments
  10. Flow
  11. Out of the Blue
  12. Spaces

 

Green Lung – This Heathen Land

Do you like your prog in a medieval stoner Canterbury fuzz with some of the most Gypsy metal fusion of keyboard and guitar?  Yes even some magical shredding and King Arthur worthy vocals!  Well you need to enter the court of Green Lung and their This Heathen Land.  This is going to be right up your musical lore alley!

Now, I didn’t bow to the king and court at first.  There was something about the start of it that seemed dated in sound, but once the keys lit up (and we truly mean LIT) and shredding started I felt like I had followed a younger Tony Banks into some forest of progressive mischief that Genesis always stood at the threshold of (go ahead enter it you chicken shits, the dark forest of prog rock riff mastery awaits) but never entered.  I started to really love what was being laid down.  Just check out the track, ‘Maxine (Witch Queen)’ you will know exactly how heathen it gets in their land!  Sure it’s got a Jethro Tull connection in the landscape of it, but the fuzz and shred makes this one of those unique listens that could reach a variety of ages and audiences, drawing people into this land of musical plenty.  A lost vision of the late 60’s and early 70’s of progressive rock expressions with a production that is intentionally, beautifully manipulated to take you on this riff ride with some serious wave and surprisingly up-roaring vocals.  It’s foggy fun, tremendously trippy, and a musician’s listening dream!  Get thee to a nunnery afterwards, as you might feel you need a cleansing when all is sung and done!  But, you’ll be scarred magically for life (so ha)!

The Band

  • Joseph Guest – Bass
  • Matt Wiseman – Drums
  • Scott Black – Guitar
  • Tom Templar – Vocals
  • John Wright – Organ

This Heathen Land Tracklisting

  1. Prologue
  2. The Forest Church
  3. Mountain Throne
  4. Maxine (Witch Queen)
  5. One for Sorrow
  6. Song of the Stones
  7. The Ancient Ways
  8. Hunters in the Sky
  9. Oceans of Time

 

How Music Moves Us On Unknown Sundays 2023

The most “unknown” thing about music is how it moves people. I’m not talking about groove, getting them to shake a tail feather, cut a hog, mosh, or even get-it-on. There are probably studies through time that could get right down to the root of cold calculation, sighting beats and rhythms to stimulate the brain and drive gyration of pelvis–or maybe even simpler–the tapping of one’s foot, which we all know leads to the most simple enjoyment of musical movement. I’m talking about how the music motivates listeners to continue listening to it, to break down and cry, to put them into a dream-like moment, or suddenly flip a light switch on-and make a deeper connection with the piece or to incite something much more demonstrative from within.

I always have to give tremendous credit to reviewers of records who have such strong emotional connections that they can explain in clever depth the context of the creative process, the details of a particular single or the entire flow of an album–either musically or lyrically. It astounds me. I know first hand how hard it is to write reviews–and avoid critical analysis, or even try to get into the musical mind of the artist(s). That’s just beyond foolish, unless you have the unbelievable experience of asking the questions ahead of time. I site Alanis Morrisette, at an unplugged show, who said how much she adores the audience’s variety of interpretations on some of her most popular songs. They all come away with different takes on the who, or the why, or the circumstance–or even the hidden meaning. In this particular moment with a fan, she was completely caught off guard by the woman’s emotional attachment to the song, which was so far away from the real reasoning behind the song, that she had this wonderful moment that showed her the vast and unpredictable “unknown” of what can move a person so.

“Your music really touches me, man.” The most cliche of adoration, dismissed as maybe a respectability that comes with little thought or depth. But, say it like this, “When your song comes on, it all comes back to me, that warm feeling I had of love and respect,” and it is a more appreciated, grateful connection. Say it this way, “It is like you understand there’s no peace, no rest…only action can give you peace,” and quite possibly we are in a different connection all together.

They are not always this wonderful. The emotional maturity of the listener(s) are always put to risk. Ask Marilyn Manson or Eminem, who have had listeners completely misunderstand metaphor and misconstrue message, slip past the sarcasm, morph their meaning–enough to fuel their unmanageable rage into ugly changes of personality, or worse–unspeakable acts against themselves or to other human beings. However, the connection was made–nowhere near the imaginable intent of the artist, but it was made. Some would argue there is purposeful intent to incite a response–a connection with dutiful purpose, which could probably be argued to infinity by the establishments of civil law and creativity. Perhaps Rage Against the Machine is a prime example of the “unknown” curiosity of possible incite versus drawing attention–and the connections brought about (although the other two examples are fine at this as well, I have a first hand story of Rage Against the Machine).

Hockey locker room blasting a song with a killer, completely original, electric guitar riff that is accompanied by a constant lyrical line, which I will apologize to the timid right now for, “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me!” Over and over again. Immediately, they are instructed to turn it off, as the sound of it from that section seems utterly inappropriate in so many ways–and even for the age bracket in the room (even though we all know it to be a word they know). That reaction seemed right at the time, but as I grew to understand the band, listen to more than that section, to more songs, to their albums, I made a connection that changed my initial reaction. Sure it should have still been turned off–because the connection they were making was shallow and primal, but I could have made them understand it better–explaining the significance in my ears, imploring them to make a deeper and more useful connection.

The beauty and beast in the art of music is an uncontrollable, unpredictable, often brilliant gift that I thank our species every day for, by picking up my headset, plugging in, waiting eagerly for the next connection, that emotional roller coaster creation, that timely deliverance–if you will. And, as generations change, worlds change, and emotions get frayed in the manner of survival of life–we must always appreciate, and realize the power that musical connection has over a very generous amount of the population.

Perhaps this brings us back around to the artist, sitting down creating their own emotional connection to their creation, wondering if there will be one beyond that for themselves. The time they have re-established, or the moment they have reconstructed into a musical story, while being self evident to them–they really, mostly want it to be more than that for the listener. They want so much for their creation to be timelessly appreciated, misunderstood, re-understood, and–to ‘move’ you. Music is not a waste of time, it a glorious and creative tool to show our appreciation for all that is…time. That gift of the terrifying, unpredictable, and savage “unknown” sitting before the brave artists of the world, it is the beauty and beast they must truly tame so that we can all, always enjoy for ourselves.

 

SPECIAL ARCHIVE POSTING NOTE

Why I wrote this post:  Just as a refresher to the power of sound and that emotional connection made in time.

This “Unknown Sundays” was done back in October of 2016.  I was feeling nostalgic, but also disconnected by some of what was going on in the music scene, wondering why it was not leaving an impression on me.  Was it my growing age?  It certainly could not have been my lack of openness to music, as I am tenacious when it comes to listening to all varieties from the unknown to the new critical (supposed) darlings.  Marketing at the time was driving my thought process, and I was working on radio jingles which are very much in this same concept although much more brief, yet equal in repetition if in a great rotation.  Is it connecting – is the question, and if it is — is it connecting the way it was intended and does it matter?   

When I wrote and also did the Album Listen Challenge: If This Is the End video, I had such an unbelievable emotional connection to Noah Gundersen’s new album that I just imagined that so many other (panelists included) would, too.  To this moment that video has only received six (6) views while The Barnestormers Album Listen Challenge has gone over ninety.  The panelists critiques were very nice, but they did not have that connection.  Am I discouraged by that?  No.  I can, however, relate to the artist’s soul being poured out and the potential disappointment of it not making that connection.  This website, our channel, wants to “move” people’s ears, exposing them to all kinds of musical experiences as well as draw attention to potential connections you may have missed or might be intrigued by.  The highs and lows of that connection are expected, honest, and will keep us all listening and being — “moved.”   – Mark Kuligowski  [November 12, 2023]

Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 34

When putting this Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 34 together we have become very aware that the year is starting to come to a close.  The releases have become fast and furious, and while we can cover them all, we still want to maintain a great mix of albums.  This Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode is definitely accomplishing that!  We start with a post humous record from a country-island legend who leaves a marvelous musical bookend!  We dip into stoner fuzz from Japan for a great rock ride, and we finish it up with an instrumentalist of extraordinary talent that we’ve mentioned in our Unknown Sundays Archives whose latest record is a remarkable challenge and unique addition to its growing catalog.  So, music multiverse listeners, shall we?!

 

Here’s the link to our YouTube Show (Version)
[Watch! Get 3 additional album reviews + discussion from panelists on Jimmy Buffett album]

 

Jimmy BuffettEqual Strain On All Parts

When we did our “Thank You Forever – Jimmy Buffett” show, we knew there was an album in the works at some point, but in our sadness and devotion to producing the show and doing the best we could on short notice, we really didn’t come to grips with what that record might be like.  When we saw its release and the album cover, we were fairly certain it was probably going to be right in the casual wheelhouse.  That assumption proved to be slightly wrong, and in a very good way!

Equal Strain On All Parts is an astounding bookend (if it is to become the last studio album).  From the minute the album begins, featuring The Preservation Hall Jazz Band from the small mystical cataclysm of music creativity of New Orleans (where I truly believe Mr Buffett really learned to mold and blend his craft), the listener should be very aware there is no going through the usual moments here.  While he still definitely taking you around the stories of his life and or others he had been in contact with, he is really taking great care in the song writing to place you within his age and appreciation for everything he’s experienced in his life and career.  It’s just so present and so cool.  ‘University of Bourbon Street’ he’s basically busting ass and busking everywhere, ‘Bubbles Up’ is a toasting to life and all it’s pursuits coming from the diving term (which is just really freakin’ clever), ‘Audience of One’ that leaves the positivity of knowing what you do you have to love and appreciate.  And that we all do, Mr Buffett!  We really do!

There is something for every kind of Buffett fan, musical genre attachment, and some great surprise guests like Paul McCartney playing bass on a song that was actually originally conceived in his presence about a certain weed “gummie” that started to kick in on McCartney’s wife (apparently).  You just can’t help falling in love with his song-writing here, as it’s truly the best he’s had in quiet some time on a full album, and this is album number thirty-two!  While the musicianship is not tackling anything new or trying to reinvent the country-rock-island wheel, it is played pure and beautiful in each track and showcases the lyrics and undertones within from the start to the brilliant finish with Emmylou Harris.  This record will certainly be one we will reach for, possibly over the greatest hits, so you can really understand how great this album is within the career.  The only shame here is that Parrot Heads will not get to experience these songs live from the legend who left them to us.  Ear buds up!

The Band

  • Jimmy Buffet – Vocals, guitar
  • The Coral Reefer Band – instrumentation
  • The Preservation Hall Jazz Band
  • Paul McCartney – bass guitar on “My Gummie Just Kicked In”
  • Emmylou Harris – vocals on “Mozambique”
  • Angelique Kidjo – vocals on “Ti Punch Cafe”

Equal Strain On All Parts Tracklisting

  1. University Of Bourbon Street (feat. Preservation Hall Jazz Band)
  2. Bubbles Up
  3. Audience Of One
  4. My Gummie Just Kicked In
  5. Close Calls
  6. Equal Strain On All Parts
  7. Like My Dog
  8. Ti Punch Cafe (feat. Angélique Kidjo)
  9. Portugal Or PEI (feat. Lennie Gallant)
  10. Nobody Works On Friday
  11. Fish Porn
  12. Johnny’s Rhum
  13. Columbus
  14. Mozambique (feat. Emmylou Harris)

 

BahboonThunder Ape

Music is just so damn worldly now, and that’s an enormous thing!  Speaking of enormous, let’s talk about the listening experience on the latest from Bahboon, Thunder Ape.  This Japanese, basically four piece, although there are keyboards in the mix as well her, is aggressively pushing their guitar fuzz will on all sides and all angels!  From the opener’s appropriately titled ‘Rampage’ we are thrown powerfully into thunderous fuzz guitar against equally ferocious riffs.  The treatment is not only a great opener, attention grabber, it is positive assurance that the band knows exactly what it’s doing, and you’re going to get swung into this like Mowgli (Jungle Book).  Awesome and slightly unpredictable!

When the vocal arrives, I’m slightly surprised that it seems to be produced along the same volume as the guitar fuzz track(s), but as I’m listening I am definitely surprised by it being dominant enough to ride along side.  I liken the vocal to a subdued, consistent Ozzy Osborne.  It’s obvious that the vocal is not the epicenter, but it does move fearlessly when called upon, and it does the overall record and band big justice in my ear.  When the band is in the instrumental side, it’s truly a great stoner rock experience with an element of proto-metal and progressive rock nature, especially on the all instrumental ‘Briefed.’

The record is concise in it’s timing, and not overly repetitious while maintaining its dominance, which is really the sign of experience (although this is only my second album I have ever heard from them).  The mix feels like Black Sabbath and Monster Magnet, as it has all the markings of that stoner, fuzz and hints of doom, while giving you broken down spacey applications as well from the band’s considerable tightness and the addition of that M5 keyboard.  There is a lot of meat on the Bahboon bone, and is definitely one of October’s standouts in the genre.  I can’t wait to hear what might come next!

The Band

  • Shohey Suyama – Vocal, guitar
  • Masaki Takai – Guitar
  • Yasuhiro Shimizu – Bass
  • Jun Saito – Drums
  • Iroha – Keyboard

Thunder Ape Tracklisting

  1. Rampage
  2. Thunder Ape
  3. Cosmic Drive
  4. Briefed
  5. Pillar Man In The Sun
  6. Growler

 

 

 

HauschkaPhilanthropy

When it comes to experimental instrumentalists that truly push the envelope of modern classical and minimalism, while maintaining a true connection to the classical arrangement, Hauschka (Voelker Bertelmann), who recently one an Oscar for the original score to All Quiet On the Western Front, makes another marvelous statement in a genre where he might be the ultimate maestro in.  While it caught me off guard at the beginning with it’s almost playful Alexandre Desplat tone, Philanthropy does leave a distinct mark and add to the incredible, deep compositions that thrive in his electronica meets classical piano world, Hauschka.

The sparse piano and almost playful optimism plays out in the first part of the record, but the album is building, and you can feel it (especially if you have heard works prior) ready to engulf and engage the listener further and further with each track, as the titles begin to take musical shape.  All the elements and dimension of Hauschka that have always driven me to love putting these types of albums on start to become more noticeable, rising within the once playful tones.  This is where the non soundtrack-ian soundtrack work and musicianship kicks in, if you can understand where I’m coming from, considering he is a soundtrack composer.  The ability to convey so much, and deliver it with the start and simple element of a piano, and then gradually incorporate so much more with electronics, and this in and out of Cello playing varieties (plucked, played and maybe even tortured), it really becomes a behemoth of a recording even in considerable minimalistic arrangements.  The additional composition of Samuli Kosminen, Finnish drummer and composer really picks up the pace, too, and you start to feel the rhythm of it, especially on ‘Altruism.’

When it comes to the final track, ‘Noise,’ you are taken back to the ambient side, which is fitting and formidable in what appears to be reflection over what has possibly transpired or left in the wake of this Philanthropy (or really the titles that have come before it).  I could be completely wrong, too, but it’s my interpretation of it.  Supposedly, ‘Noise’ was left behind from the All Quiet On the Western Front soundtrack (which I can hear for sure), but the placement at the end here is fitting closure to another remarkable album in a catalog that could very well be one of kind.  I always highly recommend the catalog, if you are truly looking for a modern classical approach to instrumental with gorgeous, meaningful texture added by clever composed ambient.

The Band

  • Hauschka – Primary Artist (Voelker Bertelmann) piano, composer
  • Samuli Kosminen – Drums,electronics, additional composer
  • Laura Wiek – Cello

Philanthropy Tracklisting

  1. Diversity
  2. Searching
  3. Inventions
  4. Detached
  5. Limitation of Lifetime
  6. Nature
  7. Science
  8. Loved Ones
  9. Generosity
  10. Magnanimity
  11. Altruism
  12. Noise

Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 33

Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 33 is taking on a Welsh singer songwriter from across the pond who seems have enough talent, musical creativity and overall wham bam charisma to shake up the entire pop-rap-dance establishment or tear it all down and set it ablaze!  We stay in a similar community with an artist that is ever-changing and digging deeper into the personae rap for another challenging listen. Then we shift to a band of beautiful seemingly outcastical alternative rockers led by a dynamic, engaging voice that are completely familiar with setting the music guidelines of their categorical genre ablaze, too!  How they all do it, what to expect from your listen, and how I feel about these lies ahead on Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 33!

No YouTube Show this week due to scheduling. Catch “Album Listen Challenge” Best of 2023 –  Sick Boi coming in two weeks!

RenSick Boi

I could certainly stay in comfortable genres doing these reviews.  There are plenty of easily reviewable albums that come out weekly that I can pop on and just listen to and get it, feel it, and write about it.  But, that would be going against everything we built Beyond Your Radio on (as you would also hear from our YouTube Channel if you’re checking that out, too).  Today’s Sick Boi record is prime example of being committed to stepping out and giving all kinds of opportunities!  And, what a wonderful, bitter, yet utterly entertaining and thought provoking album surprise this is!  Before I go into the record, I want to thank Mary Spencer for her YouTube appreciation for Ren that drew my attention (as her and her professional channel always does).

Here’s the thing about albums like this; they have to be fully committed from the first seconds of the first track and all-in on handling the drive and life of it until the last song fades or drops out.  There’s no question that Ren (Ren Gill of Wales) is the unbelievable emotional and talented force that has a story to tell, a voice to do so, and the overall love of music in all its forms to give it all the proper, exacerbated tone, melody and rhythm to make every moment an attention grabbing audio experience.  That’s just the easy part, as you would have to be completely ignorant and unacceptably musically impaired to not realize the musician-ism and lyrical ecstasy of this beast.  While it falls into a category, the pursuit is merciless and the minute you enter Money Game, Pt 3 and the grand piano comes in you realize the depth of his soul while you feel the bitterness of his reality and those of people that don’t even have a platform like this.  I can get political or social economical, but that’s not something this album is looking to solve — it’s looking to point out a lot of society’s misconceptions, misappropriations and dismissals of family, career, and what deserve truly means.  Ren does this in how he sings, raps, talks, and even breathes on this very rich album.

Yes, there are rappers that have come before him that have certainly laid a foundation, but this is not a person doing this for shock or utilizing a personality disorder (whether real or not) to bring out songs or milk a moment.  This is very real, intelligently so.   Not just that, but Ren is paying very close attention to the music, too, as it evens sounds like his struggle (truly amazing).  Piano, Violin, guitar, bass (oh yeah bass, he hits it with ‘What You Want’ you will recognize when it happens) and rhythms, as well the production additions.  It’s got your Eminem, Dre, Tribe Called Quest, Beastie Boys, and integrated club and EDM as well.

I make no mistake that he’s angry, and it’s probably the life force at this point, but he’s true enough to realize that he’s not the only one struggling, angry, and that he still has to march forward.  Remarkably…he has done all of this, basically, by himself (creator, producer, and more) while understanding, dealing and fighting with his chronic illness and what it has brought upon him. What he does next will be super important, but I want everyone to listen and live in this real hip-hop evolutionary moment for a bit, as it’s a very interesting and intelligent listen on a lot of scales.

PS:  Yes, you should watch the video(s) as he did these, too, and they’re — oh just go watch!

Sick Boi Tracklisting

  1. Seven Sins
  2. Sick Boi
  3. Animal Flow
  4. Money Game, Pt. 3
  5. Lost All Faith
  6. Genesis
  7. Murderer
  8. Suic*de
  9. Illest of Our Time
  10. Love Music, Pt. 4
  11. Uninvited
  12. What You Want
  13. The Hunger
  14. Down on the Beat
  15. Masochist
  16. Loco
  17. Wicked Ways
  18. Sick Boi, Pt. 2

 

Casisdead – Famous Last Words

“Do you trust me?”  This is how the album opens, as if you are watching somehow a scene in the rain where danger must lurk, but really what it’s doing is telling you that there is hesitance in this experience — at least for my ear.  Sorry (I do not get that this is some Blade Runner concept just because it’s raining and voices are actorian).  What comes next is going to be important because I’m already leary. So, in comes ‘A Spark’ – a track you’ve heard before delivered in a 50 Cent piece with a slow groove catch that is deliberately setting a better stage than the skit prior.  I’m hopeful, hesitant, and hoping that this will lead to an engaging experience.

Well, after that song, the album is an up and down affair between some sort of progressive synth pop hip-hop programming with guests and over-flavored music (generated or studio musician I can’t be sure — hell it could be AI), and electronica beat-groove that seem to be the only music that matches and showcases the lyrical guise and stories being flung and flipped. There are interludes that are probably pointed, but for me they are pointlessly addressing the original error of the first track/skit.  I don’t care.  I want music, flow and great delivery.  Creativity we will talk about in a minute. This is a hip-hop or rap record trying to masquerade as something deeper.  I hear the shoegaze, poor attempts at R&B inclusion, and most attempts fall a “few sandwiches short” (not my quote — it’s in the album) as does all the name dropping that seems to have very little power or statement, although I guess if you’re talking Marilyn, as in Monroe, it could be a famous last word.

Creativity — it is there. When it is just the vocal and the electronica track and groove it works very well.  The track names hint at things, but they don’t really deliver any sense of flow or themes from my perspective. ‘Sarah Connor’ is it from Terminator because there is movie name dropping within?  I really don’t know and don’t cared to prove it (because the record should have done that).  What they seemed committed to is the production of all the background effects or rain, coughing, and small crafty things.  All of which do not make the statement that should be made — because it’s the name of the album — Famous Last Words.  There’s not a single great, fantastic or memorable keeper from this album, so inappropriately titled for what I think it is, but I am not the demographic.  I tried to trust — but not today – not this album.  The final song ‘Skydive’ does a very good job at making a strong, fitting impression, while making some famous last words and utilizes Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys to bring it all together.

The Band

  • Casisdead – Rap, style/production
  • Neil Tennant – Guest vocal
  • Desire – Guest vocal
  • Connie Constance – Guest vocal
  • Kamino – Guest vocal
  • LATER – Guest vocals and synthasizer

Famous Last Words Tracklisting

  1. Do You Trust Me?
  2. A Spark
  3. Loosin’
  4. Steptronic
  5. Deadcorp
  6. Pineapple Juice (feat. Kamino)
  7. I Wanna Go Home
  8. Actin’ Up (feat. Desire)
  9. Sarah Connor
  10. Do You Remember What It Was Like?
  11. Marilyn (feat. Connie Constance)
  12. Aghast 6
  13. Boys Will Be Boys
  14. Venom
  15. Traction Control
  16. The Ants
  17. Matte Grey Wrap (feat. Desire)
  18. Pat Earrings
  19. Before This (feat. LATER)
  20. Jane
  21. Sugar Free
  22. Access Denied
  23. Skydive (feat. Neil Tennant)

 

The Kills – God Games

This duo knows how to throwdown an envelope-pushing alternative rock record, funk’in defy the norm, and press you up against that wall and give your audio a full cavity search!  Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince have been letting their yeah yeahs out in their awesomely named The Kills for many years now, and each album seems to present a uniqueness that leaves you feeling like they brought everything they had in their bag of tricks.  In God Games, they’ve not only learned a few new tricks but they decided that they’d raise their genre’s game while they were at it.

If this is what ‘New York’ tastes like (title track) from the lick, the big band horn-like synth bass, and the punked up vocals, I’d bust my ears on this!  This is going to be one hell of ride!  Pray for me, as there is no further choice but to follow the duo into God Games willingly!  They take it all on in every track, layering a down tempo groove while they slip into Heaven in a salty yet sultry move, and then take on the hex of Los Angeles in Prince like nature.  And, while three songs in, I’m feeling fortunate, endulgent and eager for more!  Maybe it’s not prayers I need?  Yep, I know what I really need!  Let’s crank up the stereo and feel the sonic that’s starting to build and amp because you have to feel it’s not just going to linger.

I want to keep going track by track, but the surprises, the vocal depth and sonic impressions left are meant to be experienced in real time, and on that stereo of yours that’s been probably been suffering from some neglect!  There’s a lot of pop sensibility, but it’s beautifully pinched and crushed with rock guitar riffs that are short, elegant, distorted and woven so well (like in ‘103’).  It has a playful taunt that you do start to pick up on, and then I’m finally reminded of the cover.  Yes, you kind of tease the bull right?  Ok, so we’re being teased and Matadored — until…well until it ends.

Good news.  You’re not dead like the bull, so you can just put this back on — and have another round!  These grooves, slick attitude, sexy rhythm, wicked guitaring and rich female rock vocal will make you love the dance that got you to the end.  So, go at it, again!  Take the God Games by the horn, grab your best red cape, and sway, dance and repeat!

The Band

  • Alison Mosshart – Vocals, Guitar, Synth
  • Jamie Hince – Guitars
  • Paul Epworth – Production

God Games Tracklisting

  1. New York
  2. Going to Heaven
  3. LA Hex
  4. Love and Tenderness
  5. 103
  6. My Girls My Girls
  7. Wasterpiece
  8. Kingdom Come
  9. God Games
  10. Blank
  11. Bullet Sound
  12. Better Days