19 March 2013

Retro Review: "Demon Days"

Falling out of aeroplanes and hiding out in holes
 Waiting for the sunset to come, people going home
 Jump out from behind them and shoot them in the head
 Now everybody's dancing the dance of the dead.

I'm going to play it safe for my first entry and try a retro review, from almost 9 years ago! If you started listening to music at an early age, or are a child of the 21st century, then you've most likely heard of the band and "musical project" Gorillaz. Gorillaz features many famous personages, such as British musician Damon Alban, cartoonist Jamie Hewlett, bassist Paul Simonon, of The Clash, and Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads.  One of their most famous albums-- scratch that, maybe one of the most famous albums of the 2000s-- is "Demon Days", and it's obvious why. 

This album is really, really varied. Some songs, like the peppy 'Dirty Harry" and the bright, trippy "Don't Get Lost in Heaven" use vibrant choirs. Some, like "November Has Come" and "Every Planet We Reach is Dead", feature solemn solos and slow beats. The song that I love the most, "Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head", is essentially a fairy tale with a back-beat.   And while  the whole album is extremely varied, one thing is constant: the use of rap to tie it together. Now, you may be crying "GASP! Rap? Where? KILL IT WITH FIRE!", but one thing is important to remember: it's not the crude gangsta rap that has clogged the Top 40s since God knows when. It's creative, original, and (for the most part) witty and thought-provoking.

 This is what made me an utter fan of the Gorillaz, and it's a big thing: theirs songs are great songs, but many are actually social commentary. It's more evident if you also watch the videos, but the songs conceal sendups of everything from junk food to corporate greed, social activism, environmental destruction for profit, and the warlike policies of the Bush administration. (What? I did say this was a retro review.)
So that's about it. But my codifier question remains:

Is it worth the $14.50 to go buy the collector's edition on disc (or iTunes, or on any other platform)? 

Yes, resoundingly. Go. You buy now. That is all.

-Reviewer XB004

13 March 2013

Ponyboy. - "Dick Dick Dick"


One of my personal favorite local bands of all time has to be the 2-piece Ponyboy. From the band's brutally unapologetic imagery [and music, for that matter], their incredibly intense and often emotional songs, and incredibly loud live performances, these guys have just earned a special place in my musical library. Each Ponyboy release has provided me with just tons of enjoyment. From the short but sweet Little Dick Demo, the awesome long form instrumental to a Buck Angel porn film (no joke), or the amazing concept record Pussy Killer, Ponyboy has proven themselves not to be a fluke from the first signs of buzz they had gotten on their first EP. So naturally, after all that, I have to say I got very excited to hear that they were releasing a new EP, hilariously entitled Dick Dick Dick. I'm very excited to say that I got a advanced listen of the EP, a month before it comes out. So, what follows is, I suppose, a pre-review of the new Ponyboy EP. Don't worry, click that link right up there on April 9th, and you can download the new EP as well!

First off, this is not a new EP. Ponyboy has been playing a lot of these songs for a pretty long time now. I've heard live videos and performances of songs like "Dick Dick Dick", "Hoof In Mouth" and "Pants Shitter And Proud". It really is nice to hear recorded versions of songs that I've enjoyed hearing so much in the past. "Dick Dick Dick" has an incredibly filthy production on leadman Charles McVey's bass and vocals, both incredibly distorted and wild. McVey's voice proves supreme once again on this track, just ripping and tearing through whatever stands in its way. Everything about the track just screams Ponyboy. It's just awesome. "Hoof In Mouth" is a just a distorted and raw piece of work. It's just punch after punch after punch in the face, but by pure raw musical force. "Retard" is a pretty dark and depressing song. I definitely think it deserves being the longest track on here, at 4 1/2 minutes. At points, it just feels gut-wrenchingly emotional. "Pants Shitter And Proud" has some wild wah pedal bass that really makes the track feel wildly jam oriented, and also insanely intense. The lyrics in the song have some pretty dark things to say about death as well. "End Of The Line" is an even DARKER song dealing with a homosexuality. Honestly, the lyrics on that song are just so disturbing at points, I think that they could be the base for an entire album, not just a under 3 minute song. It's definitely one of the most impressive songs I've ever heard Ponyboy make. If their is a band examining their homosexuality like this, please let me know. Cause I think no matter what, no one can do it with the conviction and brutal lyrics like Ponyboy does. At least in my opinion.

With this EP, Ponyboy continues to prove that they are a band that know what they are doing, and what they're singing about. There are very few bands making music that I consistently love as much as Ponyboys. I'm very excited for you guys to get to hear this thing as well. April 9th! Mark it on your calendars!!! Also, enjoy this performance of Ponyboy way back in 2011 performing "Hoof In Mouth".


Lockbox - "boi"

It's currently 2:38AM at the time I began writing this article. The only that is helping me keep awake right now is probably this new Lockbox album.

I have to say, as far as a full on weird and trippy electronic dance record goes in 2013, it doesn't get much better than this brand new Lockbox LP. Rarely cohesive, incredibly scatterbrained, sometimes beautiful, well produced, and occasionally pretty dancy (in a weird hipster club kinda way), Lockbox really proves himself as a true talent. This is definitely one of those rare albums where I'm not going to go through it track by track. It's definitely an album that you need to experience. The pure randomness that boi provides the listener in it's short but sweet 35 minutes really makes it never boring. My favorite tracks are definitely the opener "LITERALLY SMILE ONE MILLION", "ego death", and "Maximum Kiss". "LITERALLY SMILE ONE MILLION" is this incredibly glitchy, loud and wild dance and ambient track with tons of weird synths that pop in constantly. There are tons of random time signature switches, melody changes, weird repeating glitches, and just everything that I could possibly want in a song like this. "ego death" features what might be either the most annoying or hilariously catchy synth line of the century, depending on your opinion. "Maximum Kiss" is this pretty nice and cool end to the LP, that was pretty awesome. I love how ambient the track gets at points. If you're ready for a pretty wild listen, and you're ready just to sit down and listen to all the random intricacies that Lockbox has to offer, give this a listen. You can download and stream it right up there. :)

10 March 2013

Saint Pepsi - "Studio 54"

In the current internet era of smooth jazz, funk and lounge music samplers filled with weird 80's cover images known as Vaporwave, I think some artists are helping define what the genre can become in the future. One of those leading artists is definitely Saint Pepsi. With his new album Studio 54, the New England musician really shows how Vaporwave could be far more interesting by actually filtering samples and songs with live instrumentation and looping. It provides a much thicker realm of sounds and fun, and it's definitely not an album that just anyone could've made. Having released 5 albums in just a 1 month period, and then being gone for over a month making this album, you can definitely tell Saint Pepsi's work paid off.

The album starts off with a very nice and ambient intro. It feels pretty heavenly amongst all the synth strings. Then, we jump right into a part with "CHALLENGER", a very well made song sampling a pretty awesome disco piece. I like how the samples feel particularly well handled on this track, constantly feeling glitched out with some sampling effects. It's pretty intricate, and it's easily my favorite track on the album. "tell me" has this awesome kick drum that just sorta breaks whatever the actual song is playing in half so it can be heard. The actual song is filled with vocal effects and samples, tons of various synthesizers (some of which sound amazing), and a very thumpin' bass. I love the vintage vinyl crackles on "closer", and the great electric piano synthesizers Saint Pepsi adds in. "Hotline" has this really awesome warped synth playing in it, plus a ton of random vocal samples flying all over the place. The whole thing is just plain awesome. "Eden" is a sweet little ambient piece with a sample that sounds like it came straight out of an 80's TV commercial. "Honey" is just a straight up banger. From the heavy hitting drums, great sample effects, dreamy vocals, and killer bass and synth sounds, it makes some of the most memorable sounds on this LP. "Love Takeover" has some nice chop-chop vocal samples. "Hip To Be Square" sounds like it could be a pretty awesome hip hop beat for any NYC rapper around right now. "Koopa Air" has this great far out Japanese vocal sample. The whole thing reminds me of a WAY more 80's inspired version of the songs on the My Neighbor Totoro soundtrack made by Azumi Inoue. "Friends" is a great chilled out track with some great vocal samples. "Again" is an incredibly ambient sample of a guitar solo in what sounds like an age old film soundtrack.

On Studio 54, Saint Pepsi brings a much more interesting and well done approach to fun jazz sampling. In my opinion, this album breathes some much needed breath into what some would consider a dead genre by providing a better approach to Vaporwave with live sampling, better recording quality, and well done production. This style that this album goes in definitely could lead to recognition of vaporwave as an actual genre. Saint Pepsi proves him talent as a producer, and I will be anxiously awaiting to see his next release.