anything that ay-hole posts



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 Wikipedia.org claims there is a connection between the two songs. Soundsjustlike.com 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.




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.




ayholev1tmbThe W Lovers

Although their self-titled debut album cover and promo pics tell a different story, Fleur and Wesley Wood love making music together. The long story is something like Wesley followed Fleur around on her US tour long enough to make her fall for him. One might call the Folk Pop Country that seeps from their relationship a combination of New Zealand and Seattle, Washington country music.

The first thing you will notice is the radio readyness of the first track. If it only had more electric guitars and the bombastic background noise without destination that most modern country pop has it would top the charts. It is not the worst song and you will notice Fleur has a great voice.

The next couple of songs are about “home,” and “Waylon Song” is a shout out to outlaw country singer songwriter Waylon Jennings, but track four and five take a turn for the worst. It becomes some sort of 90’s country alternative with the new hipster frog singing style that the female Mumford & Sons wannabes use.

The good news is track six is about sticking it to the man. It is also about not paying taxes, one of my favorite subjects. No one knows why songs about moonshine lean towards aggressive beats, but this is one of the faster ones. The music itself is rather boring, however.

At the halfway mark we finally hear an electric guitar come out front, unfortunately the song is about Wyoming. “Seesaw” is an uptempo track. The singing on this track is almost back to what it was before the car crash on track four. Luckily, track 8 features a more effortless singing style and the good country singing is back in full swing on “Ocean.”

“Old Town” sounds like an attempt at 60’s style folk alternative due to the long silences between phrases, but it is much slower overall. The final track, “Dreamhouse,” is a country romp with some unusually emotional chord progressions and eccentric voice effects.

The W Lovers are an alternative to alternative country folk pop because it sounds good. That is why it will be known as folk pop country. If you are in the Seattle area and have exhausted all opportunities to hear a group on your bucket list, The W Lovers will not be a bad choice.




ayholev1tmbMercury Rising – Bad News (Ep)

As the saying goes, everything in moderation. Out of Essex come the ultra-sharp four piece, Mercury Rising with EP, Bad News. There is so much shredding on this ep it is hard to listen to it, but at the same time, it is hard not to. The metal is very heavy, the vocals very 90s, and the drums kick and snap on each and every beat. Max Campbell is a cross breed between Layne Staley and Scott Weiland, but keeps it as clean as a secret service agent’s high school year book. The bass is very good too.

The real highlight is Rob Raymond’s effervescent guitar playing. Each and every track is packed quite over the limit with metal guitar playing. Even underneath singing, like on “Psycho” the guitar continues to crunch and squeal it’s way to the top of the focus. The most irritating guitar playing comes on track 4 which appears to be an undying stretch by Raymond’s guitar to reach out and pull in whatever doubt you have about his berserk playing style.

There is not really anything else to talk about because this EP is all about Raymond’s guitar. Ideally, this band would change it’s name to “Raymond’s Guitar” and put out etudes and nocturnes ala Chopin style. The other band members would be swapped out for pit orchestras and people could enjoy mind numbing guitar noodling for hours while sipping tea and talking about life suburbia. Raymond would write books on guitar playing and sell straps and shoes that promote a healthy posture while pouring constant ornamentation into the simplest of rhythms.

To be quaint, it is not fast. If they pumped up the bpm to 240 and cranked out two minute 30 second face melters then we would have… ten minutes of face melters.

If you like hearing slow but saturated and polished guitar garnish with some light Stone Temple Pilots then give this one a listen. Super kudos for making such noise with only one guitar.




ayholev1tmbCaliban – Gravity

Butt-rock metal. Most of the album sounds like a post-industrial attempt at that stuff the metal hipsters listen to nowadays where everything sounds as “epic” as possible and there are parts where the instruments just repeat random atonal garbage and there does not appear to be a standard time signature, meaning things just happen whenever. “Left for Dead” is good until the breakdown. “The Ocean’s Heart” appears to be the only fully listenable track. The rest of the album is just typical butt-metal garbage.  The album cover is boring, too.


Endless – The Truth, The Chaos, The Insanity

Progressive metal. Most of the tracks are high energy, fast tempo, and extremely busy. Not quite “speedy.” The title track sounds like the most well put together one. Maybe the name should have been “The Truth, Designed, Well Organized.” It features a lot of styles and the sections are very identifiable. “Under the Sun” is some sort of electro-pop rock, which makes it the most interesting track. Tracks 6,7,8,11, and 12 all are toned down ballads, with track 13 as just a straight emotional piano image. The non ballad tracks are okay and feature some good technical shredding.  The album cover looks like a mess.


Wisdom – Rise of the Wise

Power folk metal. The melodies and singalong qualities are what push every song. “My Heart is Alive” sounds dumb but is actually quite inspiring. Many of the songs become straight arena rock, like “Through the Fire.” The second half is much better than the first. “Secret life” is so catchy one might sing along. The next track continues to build but is snuffed out by the last track, which happens to be the title track and the most boring as well.  The album cover looks cool at first, but upon a second glance…


Lamashtu – Fallna Själar

Castlevania rip offs with odd up front female vocals. All of the songs are very complex and a treat for the music analyst. Lots of sound effects and a huge variety of orchestral sounds. The guitars also employ many 90’s pedal effects like the plagal effect. Each song has a completely different feel to it. The only complaint is I swear I heard a cowbell on more than one track. There is some sort of ragtime on track 6.  The album cover is very scary.


Final Chapters – Legions of the Sunday

Crazy speed power metal. It all sounds like video game music. There are a lot of melodies, but many of them are overused and boring. Some of the tracks are just rock songs with shredding and synth hits. Probably something a lot of high-schoolers are into. Track 7 actually has some emotion in the male vocals and is the only one I could recommend.  I like the album cover because it has many colors.




ayholev1tmbmusic from nowhere – atrocité

Out of nowhere, aka Luxembourg, comes the smash new genre, obnoxious. Music from Nowhere uses the latest in “all sorts of virtual and analogue gadgets.” The result is half-atmosphere half electronic pop.

The title track might actually be the best track, which is probably why it is the title track. There is some good atmosphere and some unintelligible mumbling, which continues on other tracks as well, such as the post-pop “le bonheur”. Give it a listen on bandcamp where the album is called ɒƚɿoɔiƚé . Official release is May the 4th. One can imagine what that means.  Not quite first third of the year, but since I found it in the first third and thought it was released I covered it.


Sean Flynn – It Is What It Is

Sean Flynn is a singer songwriter from Wayne, NJ. His new album is It Is What It Is. What it is is a raw and genuine songwriting. Not only is the music itself more than decent, the lyrics are either insidiously deceptive and spurious or pure and unadulterated. Flynn sings about love and wanting to be your man. When he sings you must close your eyes and imagine he is singing to you.

The most viscously amorous of all the tracks is the poppy country inspired “Dream Come True.” Most of the music is rock and roll and the best song is probably “Jilted,” which can be heard on his live nation.


Paul Gilbert – I Can Destroy
More blues rock. Paul Gilbert released a couple of good tracks on his new album. The title track is one, and the immediately following “Knocking on a locked door” is the other. The others are mostly mediocre. Gilbert is a great guitar player and it shows on all of the tracks, however boring they are.


Elliott Power – Once Smitten
Light atmospheric hip-hop. There are some neat textures and clichéd ambient plugin sounds. The rap is soft and rhythmic and void of emotion. Good for a trance party.


Kiiara – low kii savage
Electronic hip-hop. The first track is super entertaining for 15 seconds. The rest is kinda catchy but mostly boring because it’s electronic hip-hop.



ayholev1tmbMystery Jets – Curve of the Earth

Not hard at all hipster rock. Track two is kinda good, but the rest just sounds like recycled MGMT. There is enough echoey reverb on “1985” to keep a bus full of shoegazers fed for days. Track 6 sounds like it’s going to be the best Penguin Cafe Orchestra rock song ever, but falls into annihilation. Overall the entire album lacks content, but the audio isn’t terrible. Best album cover art of this five.


Savages – Adore Life

High energy building borderline-noise rock. There are some good effects throughout and plenty of variety, at least on the first half. Mixing is really mashed together, but in a good way. Good atmosphere on several tracks including “Adore,” which unfortunately piddles into nothingness after the climax. The second half has a lot of similarities among the tracks. This can be a good thing for parties, but makes for boring listening. The atmosphere comes back on the final track for a soundtrack feel, which might be the best track. Worst album cover art of this five.


Lord Vicar – Gates of Flesh

Crumby butt-metal. Sounds like Alice in Chains got wasted and lost all their money gambling in a shack down in the delta and now plays to black tourists who want a taste of the white south, or Turku, whatever. It’s only salvation is the semi-decent singing. Should be the best cover album of this five.


The Warrior Kings – The Warrior Kings Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (Deluxe edition)

It is hard to figure out exactly when this and Vol 2 was released. Honestly, it’s just a bunch of good ol’ fashioned blues rock. The singer is the drummer, but still manages to hit the snare on two. If you are in the mood for a less aggressive blues rock, since every other band is intent on murdering the genre with speed and teenage angst, then give both discs, at least Vol 1, a listen. Pretty good album cover art. Might be for some specific version of disc one…

4/5 if you like blues rock.

Bubba James – Fearful Leaders

Atmospheric Blues Rock? Yes. No vocals, just guitars shredding and chugging the entire time? Yes. Does it sound good? Yes. Would this be boring live? Probably. Thirteen supercharged overdriven motively and harmonically developed guitar counterpoints. Shares a lot in common with math rock without sounding stupid. Good video game music. Dumb looking album cover art.




ayholev1tmbBeyoncé – Lemonade

Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter is everybody’s favorite business women/singer songwriter, well, not anymore. Her April 23rd release is currently at…well… it’s not for sale. Well… it is, but you can only purchase a digital copy… and it’s not the complete album… well, it doesn’t have the dvd… you have to wait until May 6th… how is this going to top any charts?

Almost a numbers suicide, pop music people who care about that stuff will have to wait a couple of weeks before some closure is brought on this release. But for those of us who do not have HBO and do not care about the charts, how is the music?

The first track sucks terribly. It is almost worth making a whole review about how bad it is, but let us stick with just skipping things that are uncomfortable.

“Hold up” is a lengthly attempt to crystallize the vision for the album. The story goes, Beyoncé adored her elder women figures so she wrote an album about that age old adage, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. So one can listen to her grandma giving her schoolin’ in good ol’ manners. Her grandma probably said this song to her in so many words. “Backseat lovin’ in the car / Like make that wood, like make that wood.” No wait, that was just lifted from her last album.

The next two songs are about being a strong non-white female. Specifically, Beyoncé must feel stronger than a white female because she uses a slang term to discriminate. Immediately following is “6 Inch,” which is either about a drug dealer or a prostitute. Actually, it is about being a drug using drug dealing prostitute. “Daddy Lessons” might be about shooting people.

“Love Drought” features the first decent music with a cool overdriven bass drop at 50 seconds, which is, of course, used a million times afterward. “Sandcastles” sounds like a serious song; seriously boring.

James Blake “slays” it on “Forward,” which is the best 79 seconds on the album. Every second of it is better than every other second of the album. Kendrick Lamar lends his non-woman sounds to “Freedom,” which is a march about marching for that freedom that still has to be crystallized.

“All Night” is a failure at motown, and every one has already heard the worlds most politically content-less single, “Formation.”

One can appreciate the willingness of the modern musician to forgo tens of thousands of sound equipment for the increasingly present pulse and square synths. Gospel lovers will hear a couple of decent chord progressions on a few tracks, but will be saddened that they are ruthlessly beaten to death. A variety of genres are stuffed into a blender and given a brief pulse, resulting in a chunky mess that reeks like grandma’s lightly chewed Christmas mostaccioli the second time around.

Definitely the least substantial Beyoncé album, Lemonade provides a poor example to young women by teaching them to objectify themselves into sexy workhorses with attitude. You can not buy this physical album until next week, but rest assured: you will not feel the crushing desire to pick it up. Bring back the lemons.

Junkhead wants me to rate albums but school makes me anxious so I’ll use this system.




Last week I picked up Origami, the five disc Lush vinyl box set. I really only wanted Split, and since I have not spotted it under $75 for over a decade I decided that I could spend a few more bucks and get all five and a concert ticket. I would have gotten two tickets but I worked on record store day, so I was late to the party and they only had one left for the box set purchasers. I also did not get the new Lush EP, because they smartly postponed the release until today. I, however, smartly did not call to reserve my copy, so when I got to the record store after work they had sold out. Now I have nothing to listen to and have to wait some more. Working stiffs are so privileged. I should just quit and write D&D character sheets for food. So, instead of reviewing my most anticipated release of the year so far, I’m going to write on hipster/chamber pop.

Meilyr Jones – 2013

Meilyr Jones released 2013 last month. The pluses are it is fantastically intricate, great care was taken with writing, and his voice is pretty good. He has that whole “avant garde pop” thing going on. The first song is dancey and bombastic. The second has a harpsichord and sounds more like a less funky Van Morrison. The whole album kinda sounds like less funky 60’s non-rock & roll rock & roll.  Yes, what you read. People talk about “Don Juan” like it’s the best track on the album, but we all know that means it’s probably the most boring.

“Passionate Friend” sounds like fun movie music. The whole album kinda sounds like fun non-modern movie music. Modern movie music usually all sounds like doo-doo. The next two tracks are super toned down reductions. “Rain in Rome” sounds like auto tone created the whole song. It stops a lot and skips like a bad youtube connection or mp3 purchased from itunes. There is applause in the background to thunder and one might sense it may be symbolic. “Strange Emotional” is a very typical 60’s song but is also very revived sounding, which is probably a result of the deeply expressive singing.

The rest of the album is just more of the same. There is some good style changes and variety, but it’s very dense and filling. “Be Soft” is probably the best track because it features richly textured multi-layered instruments and beautiful reverb. Interestingly, there are some bad pops on the vocals. How could someone miss that in mixing? It must have been intentional.

“How’d I do, fellas?” “Oh, great. Just in time, too. We just maxed out the time. Better move along.” *whispers* (what? the quiet parts bloody suck? just throw some reverb on them and let’s get going! i have to get to the dog show! no, i don’t want to listen to it. you lock up… and get that record to the press, it’s late already.  what? prince is dead?) “What!?  Chyna!?”