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ayholev1tmbMara Simpson – Our Good Sides

I have a lot of female singer-songwriter Janis Ian and Joni Mitchell meet folk-pop albums. I do not own any albums by male singer-songwriters that sound like Mara Simpson. Our Good Sides provides light airy singing over sub-atmospheric non-electric instruments.

The first two songs are good examples of the 70’s-jazz-folk genre that I seem to enjoy based on the money I’ve spend on it, however…

“The Return” sheds some light on newer folk music singing. Thick vibrato, short, abruptly cut off vowels, Lou Reed style melody-less singing, pointless moaning and gasping over the same vowels as if the pressure was suddenly released from bottling them up; these things are okay in limited quantities, but are just the tip of the iceberg in hipster-folk. “Silent Women” contains a huge amount of these devices and almost no lyrical content.

Track five and six give another case of whiplash. Five is not bad, but six feels like the record keeps skipping. At least there is some cool reverb and distortion happening on the vocal track. The music on this track is very boring and contrived, right down to the representative piano pressed mysteriously on the up-beat. It represents a stereotypical attempt at creating high-energy music in a low-energy genre. Do not rely on good song writing, just add some rock and droll.

For a song titled “Whisky,” track 9 features a variety of unusual traits, like slow-complex melodies and heavy pronunciation. But the song is cool sounding and has pleasant lyrics. The final track is kind of boring, however. If it was called “Guitar at Midnight,” or “M1 at midnight,” it would be a lot better.

There are ten tracks, seven listenable, and four one might want to listen to again. Unfortunately for this female singer-songwriter, her newest album is not going to make it to my shelf.





ayholev1tmbThe Winstons – The Winstons

Psychedelic prog-rockers, the Winstons, play some cool 60’s throwback stuff. Tracks combine a variety of rock influences and instruments. Some tracks have some cool jazz stuff going on with saxophones. Every track is saturated with Rhodes style organ, spring and wide reverb, and key and tempo changes.

There are no bad tracks. Track two, combining a version of jazz and Japanese lyrics by the album cover designer, creates what one might call completely unmarketable in America. It is true that jazz was born here, flourished here, then left.

“… On a dark cloud” smashes everything together with a dark-brooding atmosphere at the start, a prog ballad in the middle, and a minimalist jazz outro. “Dancing in the Park with a Gun” is another unusual combination. The final track also features lyrics in Japanese and is reminiscent of slightly more marketable music in America, mostly because it more closely resembles many different songs combined into one six minute track.

Fans of psychedelic should enjoy this one. There are a couple tracks that are straight rock songs, but most of them change very often and should at least be entertaining to the musician’s ear. The real bonus might be the Winstons appear to be very talented players and writers. The skill they exhibit is a treat for anyone who would appreciate quality musicianship.





tinyayholev1a I was listening to Wytch Hazel at lunch one day. I was really sick and I wrote something along the lines of “real decent guitar sound, okay music.” The next day I picked up where I left off and I had gotten a good rest in. I was absolutely blown away. Convinced of my mistake I listened to the first half again and after could not stop thinking about it. I immediately ordered the vinyl, which took almost a full month to get here because the “street date” or something bogus. Totally worth the wait.
My excitement rubbed off on Junkhead and he encouraged me to play it to him over the phone when I got it. I am slightly upset I did not splurge on the white vinyl.
tinyjunkheadv1a Yeah, I was skeptical at first. Wytch Hazel sounds like a foofy folky name, but thankfully they’re only like that for two tracks on the album. Otherwise, it closely resembles the NWOBHM, which is my favorite genre of anything ever.
tinyayholev1a You could not get over the name of the album. “Prelude to what?”
tinyjunkheadv1a It’s an awful name. There’s a track called “Prelude” on the album and everything, but that’s not even a prelude to anything. Every other song on the album has a better title.
I complained about it for over fifteen minutes.
tinyayholev1a I think we can assume it is a prelude to the next track.
tinyjunkheadv1a Why would I assume that? You’re going to name an album after a track that’s sole function is to segue into a good song?
Not only that, “Prelude” is the worst song on the album.
tinyayholev1a It is a really long prelude. The theme probably repeats ten times.
tinyjunkheadv1a A lot of metal bands make that mistake when they come up with some instrumental. Even if their normal songs are relatively complex, the vocal-less tracks wind up being super dumb.
tinyayholev1a Also, it feels like it’s going to go into a killer doom metal song, but it stays mellow. I bet when the play it live they just shorten it to 2 minutes instead of 4:17
tinyjunkheadv1a They probably stretch it out to 41:70.
Or 42:10, whatever.
tinyayholev1a “We only have 46 minutes of material, and all of our songs bleed into each other, so we’re going to play prelude for 45 minutes to fit the bill.”
On that note, I do like “Psalm.” The guitar work is really pleasing to me.
tinyjunkheadv1a Yeah, let’s get off the negative. While I’m not too fond of the two folky tracks, they definitely break up the rockers in a way that I can appreciate.
It’s hard to make a great album that’s always cranked up and kickin’ ass, so it’s good Wytch Hazel slowed it down. “Dark Ages” is the other one and I really dig the chorus on that one.
“We live in the Dark Ages” times ten is my kind of chorus.
tinyayholev1a Would you say it’s something every metalhead can agree on?
tinyjunkheadv1a The chorus or the folky bits breaking up the action?
tinyayholev1a The chorus. I can’t imagine many agreeing on the break up.
tinyjunkheadv1a I mean, there’s doom-and-gloom in most extreme music. Metal fans are more into that then singing about hugging your grandma or romance or something.
Like, if you want to hear somebody complaining about chicks or something, listen to pop music.
tinyayholev1a It is important to consider the premise of this band when discussing their music. NWOBHM from 600 years ago.
tinyjunkheadv1a NWOBHM lyrics did complain about chicks a lot, but it’s more because it’s a covertly poppy genre. There’s a lot of melody infused in it.
tinyayholev1a The bands eponymous track title is the best track on the album. I think it is about trying to succeed on your own then turning back to a higher authority’s wisdom.
tinyjunkheadv1a I think it’s about having the tastiest melodies on the album. The guitars and vocals trade off perfectly, and the Thin Lizzy-ish guitar breakdown at the 2:30 mark is phenomenal.
tinyayholev1a It is the catchiest melody.
tinyjunkheadv1a But yeah, there’s a heavy Christian vibe running through the album really.
There’s also a lot of battles and a lot of pronouns. “I” and “He” are all over the place, so I can see the whole relationship with God thing spread all over.
tinyayholev1a I feel like I Christian lyrics do not scare away as many listeners as we might think. Music listeners can be open minded and most people do not let lyrics deter them from an album, but these lyrics are really strong and visionary. I can not think of any corny lines, which I usually associate with Christian lyrics.
Also, the lyrics tell an overarching epic. The music hints at this with the second track, “Fight,” and the last track, “We will be strong,” both start off with a snare drum march and lead into a power metal type ballad.
tinyjunkheadv1a I mean, it’s corny in a metal way. There’s still a lot of battles and stone towers laying about, but the Christian thing doesn’t come across as ham-fisted as on a Stryper album or something.
tinyayholev1a “Oh no! The skies around are falling,
Oh no! The seas begin to roll
Oh no! Take me from the picture
Oh no! Before it takes my soul”
tinyjunkheadv1a I don’t really consider either a power ballad, they just rock the fuck out. Most of the album does that.
It rips starting from the opener which sets most of the tone: 600-year-old NWOBHM.
tinyayholev1a Rock out is a better term. Not like it’s symphonic or anything. The instrumentation is as bare as my forehead.
tinyjunkheadv1a Yeah, I’m glad they don’t throw in fiddles or something. I figured they would eventually but they didn’t.
They don’t lose sight of the slick tuneful hard rock sound.
I wonder if that’s how the MC’s introduce them. “NWOBHM from 600 years ago without gimmicky folk instruments.”
“If you like the Grateful Dead…”
Did you just fall off the your chair laughing?
tinyjunkheadv1a “…and Diamond Head, you’ll love Wytch Hazel”
I wonder if they’ll go further down the Jethro Tull route and start making album long songs and stuff. For some reason I think Wytch Hazel could pull it off.
tinyayholev1a “Truth,” an earlier recording is pretty good, but the development is clear, Wytch Hazel has a crystallized concept.
tinyjunkheadv1a Yeah, they’re definitely the kind of band that’s not going to stick around and just repeat themselves over and over, which I think’s a good thing. “More Than Conquerors” and “Fight” and everything are all awesome, but I doubt they’d be good if the band re-wrote them over and over.
tinyayholev1a “Fight” is an older song, one of two songs rerecorded for this album. I hope they don’t turn out like Shonen Knife playing Twist Barbie on every album; replace Twist Barbie with the track “Wytch Hazel.”
tinyjunkheadv1a Yeah, it’s interesting that Wytch Hazel leaves you thinking more about where they’re going than where they’re at now. Maybe it’s just a….PRELELUDDDEE of things to come?
tinyayholev1a “Wytch Hazel’s earth shattering 2017 release, featuring a monumental cover, ‘Twist Barbie.'”
I’d buy it.
tinyjunkheadv1a Even if this album had a cover of “Twist Barbie”, it’d still be in my current top five for the year.

Ayhole 5/5
Junkhead B+




ayholev1tmbMagic Potion – Pink Gum

After releasing the Melt EP in 2015, there has been some anticipation to the Swedish slacker rock band, Magic Potion. The new LP features two songs from Melt, “Deep Web,” a dreamy washed over pop ballad, “Booored,” a super boring and repetitive song, and some new stuff.

The first side seems to be the energetic and rocky songs. “Milk,” the first track, sets the stage for what you can expect for the rest of the album. Vacuous, light, vocals with garage style drums and guitar, and a bass that punctuates every eighth notes and wonders around the scale. The subject manner is for the whole band is sunny days, and “Cola Boys” takes the cake, being about running from a gang of turf kids or something. Already a music video and the obvious choice for a reissue single, is the best song on the album. Simple back beat driven down stroke heavy guitar rhythms fill the track. “Yummi 1” is the most high energy track, and “Golden Power” is about growing up in a heretical church.

The second side is a snoozer. Melodies all suffer, and the energy that was put into “Yummi 1” and the whining on track 5 is no where to be found. The band sounds like it is falling asleep as they play. “Cheddar lane” is the only semi-interesting track simply because it sounds like slacker rock and not like zoned-out-radio-pop. The singers voice also seems to get extra childish sounding on these tracks, almost as if he is trying to hard to sound like he’s not trying at all.

The first side does seem to be a good example of interesting music. Perhaps the essence of slacker rock is to sound empty and lazy. If that is true, then we have a well rounded album here.  Cool cover art and if you act fast you could own a pink vinyl copy!!





ayholev1tmbZiggy Marley – Ziggy Marley

Ziggy Marley, the son of Bob Marley, released his self-titled album solo album. Like father like son, Ziggy Marley speaks his mind. I was not around 50 years ago, but I imagine Bob Marley’s anthems were not only monumental in terms of musicality but also in message. Ziggy Marley’s message seems to be more palatable and pop-centered. Still, the subject manner does not deviate too much from popular reggae; thoughts on injustice, unity, heaven, and marijuana.

Ziggy Marley the album is modern feeling reggae. Some of the tracks feature a faster more dancey rhythm and the melodies are very close to pop R&B. There are some soul horn parts and super cleaned up instrumentation.

“We Are More,” is the best song because there are lyrics, but the majority of the song is “we are more” over and over. It is a very simple song.


Ministry of Echology – Wanderer

Throwback to dub and dancehall, Wanderer is a superior reggae album. The name of the band is reason enough, but the music is excellent. Simplicity is key in much of music. Repetitive, run-on melodies, extended two chord structure, fat, heavy bass, and clean upstrokes on guitar build every track.

Subject manner is subjective and open. Beat is contagious.




Errol Blackwood – Cooling Down The Rage

Both Cooling Down the Rage and Wanderer came out early in the year. Errol Blackwood is significantly more interested in his message. Once again, simple beats and instrumentation make a good reggae album.

There is a significant amount of material on this album. The title track feels like the longest song probably because it is too repetitive feeling and title tracks belong on track six. The other fifteen tracks contrast repetition by offering different music and prose on struggle and common man woes.

Like Ziggy Marley, Cooling Down the Rage features throwback to 50’s R&B with light modern flair


Visit the libary. yes.



ayholev1tmbDON’T – Fever Dreams

This album is more fast rock than punk. Bar scene rock is becoming more acceptable for outsiders who generally seem to favor more emotion driven performances reminiscent of early 90’s alternative. While Fever Dreams should appeal to this audience, the album maintains some “fever” and energy, though not quite as much youthful energy, aka vigor, as some of their earlier stuff. At the same time, DON’T was successful in giving this newest release a very live feel.

The first track is good to wet the ears of a curious new listener, but it really relies on hooks and pop sensitivity. Track two is cool, but “’89” is the best track on the album, a rerecording of an earlier single with notably more grunge and the title track has a very proto-punk feel.

Skipping ahead, the longest track on the album, “You Keep Cutting Through,” just clears the 3 minute mark. This track is very jumpy but has a super slowdown part in the middle that might bore listeners and dancers. The final track is an older sounding track and is a little bit of a throwback.

Considerably refined, one might say Fever Dreams is stylized vs stylistic. No doubt this will appeal to a broader audience but leave out some of their existing listeners.

You can hear almost everything they have ever recorded on their bandcamp and buy them all on vinyl by emailing Jenny Don’t. You have to attend a show to get the cool patches, though.






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.




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.






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.