Lush – Blind Spot EP

The band Lush released a new EP last month after a 17 year break-up. The album was available for pre-order from the mailing list for an expected delivery date of the first week in April. I thought about it, but decided I would just pick it up for list price on free record store day. Much to my surprise but not to anyone else, Blind Spot sold out everywhere immediately, because each record store probably ordered 2 copies. I did find a warehouse in the UK who did have it in stock and would ship it to me if I wanted. I decided to bide my time with a local shop and requested to be put on the wait list. I was then called back today, almost two months after I would have gotten it if I had spent an extra five dollars and pre-ordered it.

I had decided not to listen to it until I heard the physical recording. I had already heard track one, “Out of Control,” and was excited to hear the rest.

As expected, the previously released “Out of Control,” along with a music video, does represent the most this EP contains. Sure, there are some interesting attempts at new material, however, I feel as if Berenyi and Anderson might be out of practice. The EP sounds old, as if it could have come out 20 years ago and been a flop like some of their other singles.

Of the other three tracks, none of them sound bad, but feel like a wrestling with imagery. There is no clear direction of the music, no light. Each track features classic Lush guitar sounds and orchestration but nothing fresh or desirable. Track two, “Lost Boy” is very lost sounding, but that is not a compliment. The guitar starts out as the focus, but there is so much extra movement and sounds it becomes quickly difficult to enjoy. I imagine this one would make a good music video, since it is very atmospheric, but too much half way to rock to be entertaining or danceable.

“Burnham Beeches” at least features a great example of the poppy shoegaze rock that Lush was well known for on Lovelife, which, side-note, might be my new favorite Lush album, making me a traitor to Lush snobs everywhere. This track features a great trumpet in the background and does not sound as dated as the rest of the material.

“Rosebud,” the last track on the album, seems to be the biggest attempt at a reinvention, but also feels like almost giving up. Even the vocals feel light and void of lift.

I will still see the band in September. I am sure they will play “Out of Control,” however this EP sounds more like a reunion tour release and not a musical leap. Maybe that is what happens when you break up for a couple of decades.


Axel Rudi Pell – Oceans of Time

junkheadv1tmbAxel Rudi Pell – Oceans of Time

There are some big name guitarists in the world of rock. Joe Perry, Keith Richards, and whoever gives a fuck are all names you hear thrown around by non-elitists. News flash: elitists like me know those guys are awful. The real totally awesome guitarists are the crazy blonde-haired German dudes. Amongst this group, Michael Schenker, Uli Jon Roth, and Axel Rudi Pell are the official holy trinity.

Probably the most obscure amongst non-European audiences, Pell originally played in the largely generic band Steeler throughout the ’80s before breaking out on a successful solo career. After five albums, including a trilogy with veteran singer Jeff Scott Soto, Pell tapped Hardline vocalist Johnny Gioeli to take over on his 1998 release Oceans of Time. Aside from a revolving door of drummers, this establishes the same line-up that Pell has today almost twenty years later.

In a way, Oceans of Time also solidifed Pell’s style. It continues the direction of his previous album Magic but with better songs. The clearest influence is Dio and Rainbow, with Gioeli’s vocals and the storming high fantasy sound. Wizards, oaths, demons, and everything in between dominate the lyrical content and the searing guitar follows suit.

Still, the approach is re-shuffled in interesting ways. The emphasis is on ultra-epic riffs and simple arrangements that keep everything going well past the seven minute mark. Even more interesting is how gloom-and-doom these high energy tracks really are: “Carousel”, “Gates of the Seven Seals”, and “Oceans of Time” all stick to minor melodies and atmospheric synths that keep the rockin’ positively bleak.

Between these rockers are a large number of monster power ballads punctuated by mid-range melodic solos, with the ten minute “Ashes From the Oath” being the best of the bunch. Half the track is dedicated to monumental fretwork that wraps around your mind, never growing repetitive and topping the ho-hum vocal melodies.

There’s a couple straightforward upbeat tunes buried under the larger-than-life behemoths. “Ride the Rainbow” and “Pay the Price” are awesome headbanging material. The latter features the corniest synth-choir vocals that crank the already over-the-top sound to full throttle. “Prelude to the Moon” goes even further: keyboardist Ferdy Doernberg rocks the harpsichord setting while Pell rips through the only outright shredding on the whole album.

And honestly, the whole album really rips. Pell knows what makes fantasy-themed metal great and he channels it better than most Iced Earths or Blind Guardians could ever hope to. I wish the drums were a little further up in the mix, but there’s a simple solution: turn this shit up until your ears bleed.

Oceans of Time is receiving its first ever vinyl release on June 3rd. I’d import this baby real quick before you accidentally buy something that sucks.




ayholev1tmbReleases from bandcamp with two tracks that get released tomorrow:

Adam J Jones – Misc for Oblongs

This two track release from the UK came out tomorrow. Yes, it is the future in the UK and they are listening to noisy folk pop. The first track starts out real good with some cool lo-fi guitar and bass action, but quickly tries to develop into something else, perhaps, something of sustenance. The second track abandons the unorganized feel of the first track and becomes a polished pop melody, albeit pop with heavy bass lead and giant warehouse style reverb. Most depressing looking cover art.



Reverser – Singles

Track one features a really cool intro and then the typical new school hardcore punk junk. The musicality is very present here and it is easy to understand all of the instruments separately, an unusual accomplishment for a present day hardcore band. The second track features a really boring intro and slides right into some highly sophisticated motivic development. The most interesting part of this release is how I turned it off immediately after listening to it, but then decided it was not that bad. Most traditional heavy metal looking cover art.



Model Warships – fmt

This is only one track, but is it the best cover of “Flow My Tears” that I have heard. The singer accompanies himself on the guitar with either a second vocal or an electronically modified vocal effect. You should buy it now for the low low price of 100 pounds. Most pointless cover art. (bonus points)



Mangle – Echoes of Mother Earth

Background noise with background music. Track one, “Dawn in the Forest,” features absolutely nothing interesting except the standard prerecorded forest noises, over twelve minutes of meh. Track 2, “Night Under the Drizzle,” has some emotion and standard ambient synths. Both feature un-toned standard plugin noises and are exceedingly neutral. Most photogenic cover art.



Octavia de Cádiz – Todavía

Pleasing and repetitive, track one features two chords and some light melodic improvisation. Track two adds one more chord and some apparent melodic structure. Very post-alternative. Most fitting cover art.


RüN – Psychic Love

junkheadv1tmbRüN – Psychic Love

In the late ’80s, short song noisecore became a popular genre. Bands like 7 Minutes of Nausea, Meat Shits, and Anal Cunt were releasing ten minute EPs allegedly containing hundreds of songs, all of which were short atonal blasts of guitar, drum, and vocal noise. The ’90s slowly took this to an obnoxious extreme, with groups like Deche-Charge making every release filled with thousands of half-second blorps. Noisecore faded back into the underground’s deepest depths, a place where it remains to this day.

RüN is a one-man project that revisits the style of noisecore’s pioneers, although there is some deviation. In between the noise are strange synthscapes and the moans of men in ecstasy, a reflection of RüN’s queer band identity. Previous album covers prominently feature graphic male homo-sex, which is honestly nothing shocking in the world of underground demos, but those albums also had more of a tinny, programmed blast-beat sound and varying vocal styles. There was little direction and the quality suffered as a result. On Psychic Love, the cover shows an image of Adam and Steve biting an apple. Just like Adam, RüN received a small taste of knowledge that pulled his head out of his ass. The grand realization is here: old school noisecore is the only way to go.

This release contains two tracks, each a collection of many thirty second noise assaults. The obvious digital recording makes everything a garbled mess, but RüN understands traditional noisecore enough that the awful sound plays to his advantage. Blast beats are replaced with random snare pounds and dominating cymbal crashes. The vocals are low goregrind barks, and while I’ve never been a fan of the toilet growl style, it actually works here with the treble-less assault.

I’m hoping RüN expands on this release, as I’ve perused the rest of his catalog and was only really impressed by Physic Love’s enraged aural explosions. This is true anti-music, abandoning all preconceived notions of listenability. It might not be the most original sound, but at least it never abandons its singular cause: fuck melody.





Bob Dylan – Fallen Angels

This album is very relaxing. Nothing new, original, or outside the box. Just Bob Dylan singing some classic American tunes. Better song selection than Shadows in the Night, or maybe just better arrangements.


Hammer Hawk – Real Dim

Released on cassette by mail yesterday, each track on Real Dim features basement style recording impregnated with bits of planned and unplanned noise, synthetic and analog. The vocals are a very forced but are usually covered in bad reverb, which makes them more listenable. The music is very “indie” sounding and, at times, bouncy. The first five tracks are interesting, but the last four are super drawn out as boring as dull rock anthems.

The most interesting part of the album is the audio snippets from alien abductees at the end of each track. The second most interesting part is the title of track four with is “Barf Lie,” but I think “Barf Life” would be a cooler track title. I guess I’ll write “Barf Life” next.


Micro-Reviewery 8: Randy and the RN’s, Horizon Chase OST, Red Wolf, PETFSB




Randy and The RN’s – Deezius Maximus

This one man indie pop sounds noisier and snottier than Weezer would ever want to be, but it gives everything a fringe edge. The lumbering “Karma Magnet” is my favorite, with abrasively jangling guitars providing a sweet steel wool bed for the whining summer melodies. Still, if the tempo’s were slightly sped up, Randy could probably shave a minute off every song and make them infinitely cooler.

Please Eat the Fucking Sandwich Bitch – 2

While this claims to be black metal, cybergrind, and post-rock, it’s really just FL Studios-core. No vocals, no cool melodies, no creativity, and a ton of that awful processed guitar sound. PETFSB’s mom probably tells him this stuff is super creative because she has little knowledge of underground music. Jay Decay of 50 Ways to Kill Me was making GOOD music like this back in the early 2000s, and all his music’s free here. Download his stuff and bang your head, forget eating a fucking sandwich or being called please bitch.


Barry Leitch – Horizon Chase Official Soundtrack

In a continuing effort to validify iPhone games, Horizon Chase developers knew they needed a booty-bustin’ veteran game musician. They got Barry Leitch, the Scottish man who crafted totally radical tunes for the Rush arcade series and Top Gear. While Rush was more about drum ‘n’ bass trash, the latter was all awesomeness and Leitch channels its power to great effect here. What’s funny is that despite retro chiptune junk being crammed down our throats for years, Horzion Chase is obviously crafted by a man who understands it, making a soundtrack that betters most loving memories of F-Zero and OutRun 2019. Some of the remixes tacked on are a little drab, but otherwise this is a classy effort.


Red Wolf – Hell is Other People

What the fuck is this? Red Wolf is evidently a poet, but do self-respecting poets normally appropriate famous Jean-Paul Sartre-isms for their album titles? Most writers probably wouldn’t slap a “Rated R” tag on tracks either, although most wouldn’t produce drivel like “My hands moving up your thighs/Into your ass my fingers now pry”. Sometimes there’s backing music, largely GarageBand pre-sets. His voice randomly spikes into an overtly distorted mess, as though the Wolf-man bought a computer microphone at the gas station. If that’s all the guy can afford, I’m surprised he can get anyone to “suck on [his] balls…/until [they’re] raping [Red Wolf] with [their] tongue”.




ayholev1tmbTrashcan Sinatras – Wild Pendulum

When people get older, they usually make slower and softer music. Maybe it is because as we age we gradually loose parts of our hearing. People who are turning thirty this year agree that loud bassy music is not as attractive as it once was. Certainly none of us are turning into Beethoven, laying our ears on the floor while dropping bricks on piano keys, but some of us are turning into old people none the less. Trashcan Sinatras, or the Trash Can Sinatras, is one of those groups that has decided to make an old man record.

Wild Pendulum shows the group has practically reinvented itself again. Using a large array of actual instruments in lovely retro instrumentation reminiscent of something between a dark 60’s romance and a bouncy 60’s romance. The smooth feel of light rock and often pure orchestral with appearances of digital sounds is unique and abstract and wholly together at the same time.

What stands up tall on every Trashcan release is the lyrics. Probably the best line on the album appears in “Best Days on Earth,” which was a promotional single released for the pledgemusic campaign fund-ers. The line is “The heart is designed to run out of time; There’s no pause and rewind; The transmission’s live.” The majority of memorable Trashcan Sinatra lyrics are some sort of play on words.

Not only are the lyrics smart and philosophical, but also cute and fuzzy, like the title to “I Want to Capture Your Heart.” There is even a song about joining the Mafia, “The Family Way,” at least that what it sounds like to me.

Every album from the group is unique and filled with thoughtful lyrics and well written songs. This album does not appear, at first, to be quite as monumental as their first, but it will definitely be a favorite for many, however, it may be too laid back for some.

“All Night,” however, sounds like three other songs. Petula Clark’s “Downtown,” Green Day’s “Waiting,” and… wait a second, “Waiting” is totally a copy of “Downtown.” Even the lyrics are similar.


Upon further research, even claims there is a connection between the two songs. makes a comparison and also references a “guitar riff from the Kinks.”

Perhaps “All Night” is not only a clever fo-dance song to inspire people with witty subtext to enjoy the party but a purposeful and skillful reworking of classic pop songs from the decades past. Are Trashcan Sinatras saying that they understand pop music well enough to cleverly blend memorable melodies in a way that evokes the immortal words of Pablo Picasso, “good artists borrow, great artists steal”?

Sure, why not. Check out Wild Pendulum and enjoy witty subtext.


Micro-Reviewery 7: Richard Orofino, Mathrcool, Mother Room




Richard Orofino – Witches

New York bedroom singer-songwriter Richard Orofino understands that the best music gets its point across and gets the hell out. Take the opener “Dirty”: charming vocal melodies and short noise noodle solos are squeezed into an elegantly dirty two minute package. The first half artfully plods and pops with grungy pop skills, with the subtle dissonance of the title track standing out. When track four hits, acoustics take over and the drums back off. This honestly made me go back and replay the first three tracks repeatedly for about half an hour, but eventually I overcame my electric guitar biases and finished the remaining tracks. They were pretty good.


Mathrcool – Mathrcool

This weird electronic noise album is more frustrating than interesting. Synths and drum samples go off all over the place, from smooth ambient exercises to digital blast beat madness. “SUPERHEAVYDUTYAIDS” and “OUTOFTIMELSODLC” are all driving synth melodies and cool overdriven drum plows, but there’s too much throwaway hipster harsh noise you’ve heard a million times over. Even grosser: the actual guitar on “ARCTICMONKEYSAREFUCKIGNSHITESZ”. Probably a bad joke that I’m too unhip to understand.


Mother Room – Randolph Sessions

Earth worship’s cool again since it’s already twelve years passe, so guitar droners Mother Room benefit. Taken from a live session, these guys have an electronic mixing setup that gives their guitar throbbing a cool blizzard static backdrop. The ideas end there, but I’ll trip to that.


Rodent Blowjob Holocaust – My Momma Got AIDS From a Crack-Pipe

I always forget cybergrind is a thing, but thankfully My Momma Got AIDS From a Crack-Pipe is here to remind us that anyone with FL Studios can live out their goregrind dreams. Sadly, it doesn’t match my fond memories of Libido Airbag’s 2001 classic Barrel Blow Job. Maybe that’s because Rodent Blowjob Holocaust has discernible guitar riffs, a shocking misstep on the band’s part. The whole musicality thing ends up hurting what should be an anti-everything style; who wants decently played guitar over sloppy down-tuned synth farts?




ayholev1tmbThe Quality of Mercury – Transmission

Shoegaze, rock, dream pop, ambient:

One day, when man is traveling the stars, no one will be arguing about bathrooms, GMO crops, parenting, and the next dieting craze living on frozen peas and saltines or recycled animal waste. This is because the earth will become a festering wasteland of disease ridden mindless zombies who constantly vote red or blue for the next world dictator. The real life will be out in the vast universe, shooting through nebula and light years of darkness. On our locomotive space stations with artificial gravity and hydroponic ecosystems we will follow the path of the comets, jumping through eons of time without being on facebook. Maybe we will still listen to good music.

Maybe, on our way to Andromeda, we will be listening to The Quality of Mercury’s Transmission, but instead of “drifting in space,” we will be enjoying live shows and sharing positive ideas to the backdrop of thick, distorted, and reverberated guitars, bouncing back and forth against wall of sound ping pong vocals and warm synth and solid back-beat drums. Maybe the bass player will plug on the kick, maybe the lyrics will be about traveling, loving, maturing into vastness.

“Faster and faster” we will “travel,” though in the interstellar age, surely we have sciences to further. How will we “Breathe in Stereo?” Clearly by pulling guitar parts straight out of early 90’s shoegaze and combining it with chugging power-pop chords which works through a miracle.

What about “The Orion Ascension?” Some sort of dark, black-gaze with heavy metal writing slowed down and played at the bottom of a parking garage.

The Quality of Mercury nails all of your concerns. This “Space Rock” is a much more than an attempt at combining the aggressive nature of rock with the enveloping annihilation that is shoegaze. The digital and analog sounds mix perfectly. Not one point in the album does it feel metallic or fuzzy or even the aforementioned aggressive. The direction of the writing is fluid and natural with no ceiling. The vinyl is blue and does not ship until September, but I ordered it anyway.

I love shoegaze. I never review it here because I am a very sensitive man. I fear “real” shoegazers. They might say things like “real shoegaze died with Spaceman 3,” or “You’re going to see Blonde Redhead/Lush? That’s really cute. I bet you like Ringo Deathstarr and wish you could marry Anthony Gonzalez,” and “You bought The Quality of Mercury’s Transmission in limited edition 300 run 180g Blue vinyl after listening to it once for free on soundcloud? I bet you also buy reissues of albums from the 90’s that you were too young to even know about when they came out.”

I have never met someone like that. Most shoegazers I have met feel like they can not share in their love of music outside of the internet community because people will think they do drugs or are just generally unreliable workers. Why do I think that? Recording drums to sound natural and unobtrusive behind electric guitars that borderline on a sine wave is a wonder of modern sound. Putting lyrics about space and love to a wash of sound without sounding cliche and mundane is surprisingly difficult. Do not misunderstand, I love cliches. I have a notebook that I am trying to fill with them.

If life as we know will continue after earth, perhaps civilization does stand a fighting chance out past the Oort cloud. New music continues to surprise. Even when one looses hope and purpose in a sick haze, waking between moments of flightless dreams only to choke down cough syrup and decongestant for weeks, the dance of mankind pushes solidly against oppression and stamps hardship and sadness mercilessly into the green and growing earth. Certainly, the earth will still be around long after that dance is over and a new one begins.




ayholev1tmbThe Chris Busche Band – Zeitgeber

In British Columbia there are some nice places to visit. I do not know any. You can, however see some great bands. The Chris Busche Band is one of those bands that is great and from British Columbia and, although the band is just Chris Busche, does get gig musicians together, or at least has in the past.

His newest album, Zeitgeber, features a wide variety of genres, but every song seems to result in pulsing double bass and his burly man scream. The lyrics are class A quality. Lines like “We once fought for glory, we once fought for freedom, now there’s nothing worth fighting at all,” will have you tapping your foot and snapping your fingers as his expensive sound equipment punches you continuously in the ears with thick, sludgy chugs.

Other tracks feature some reggae and prog rock influences, all coalescing in pulsing double bass and burly man scream metal. “Mob Mentality” is a fantastic song about standing up for what you believe in all of the time and not just when you are in a crowd.

After the first 6 blistering tracks, things slow down with a crumby piano song, but pick up again on track 8 with a 60’s heavy metal throwback, probably the best song on the album. “That’s No Fun” is a cool all over the place song that has about a hundred different influences flying around, followed by another modern sounding track. Skipping more emotional music, track 14, “Thales” is a prog metal song, complete with all of the typical prog aspects, such as varied song structure, slow build, sudden drop, slow build, sudden drop, slow build, ad ect.

The album ends with a fantastic heart-tugger where Busche sings with a piano about some existential bologna and some random “party” conversation in the background.  While the first half of the album is significantly harder than the second, both halves respect redeeming qualities of classic genres such as experimental, progressive, and guy alone with sound equipment.

The Chris Busche Band put out a solid. If you are in the BC area, all 364,764 sq mi of it, then check out the Chris Busche Band’s beard.  He looks a lot better with the beard.  His album is available for listening and purchase on bandcamp.