Whimsical: I Always Dream Of You

One of the best/worst suggestions for any musician is to put their music out on youtube. After all, it’s where all the normies go to find their music. Yet making a music video is a struggle in and of itself. The thing is, music can be this spontaneous creation that, if you have the right DAW or recording equipment, can be instantaneous gratification. Music videos on the other hand, well you have to plan for that. You actually have to film it. Then edit it. And for the absolute worst part of it, you got to wait for the video to render… Only to upload it, and get 300 views…

This is my experience. As I’ve mentioned before I used to be an aspiring filmmaker, who made cringe video upon cringe video. So whenever an artist makes a music video, I already have a lot of respect for them. Then add to the fact that this is one of the most serene beautiful bedroom pop pieces I’ve ever heard. Well then, you’ve got my attention.

First thing first, this a music blog, and I have to start with the music. The guitars are an absolute joy to listen to. They have this wonderful soothing meditative tone, and each are layered in this melodic harmony. Each guitar piece in and of itself could be the lead guitar, each of them are that melodic. Yet instead of clashing together, they compliment each other. Then when the song goes to that quiet-verse, loud-chorus structure that’s in most alternative rock bands. The guitars take a back seat. Which I am so grateful for. Turn on the radio to any rock station, and you’ll hear that Nickelback sludge guitar sound on the chorus, and it absolutely ruins every song they are featured in.

While the guitars are fantastic, what carries the song is the vocals. Which are so angelic, and so pleasing to the ear. They’re the kind of vocals, that even if Buckethead heard them, he’d probably tone it down on the guitar. It’s kind of the same principle with George Harrison, who is one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Not because he was the talented virtuoso who ever played guitar, but because every single note he played complimented the song. While the Beatles had average vocals (objectively speaking, subjectively they’re the greatest singers of all time) they could make amazing vocal melodies. So having a guitarist shredding on stage, would just distract from the main focus of the song, that is the vocal melodies. And in Whimsical’s case you want to do everything in your power to highlight those amazing vocals.

Now we get into the music video. Which I really enjoy. Mainly because as I’ve said, any artist who makes a music video nowadays has my respect. But because they accomplish a lot, within a reasonable budget. Too many times I’ve seen artists get ripped off, paying $500 for a music video. When in actuality they could’ve accomplished the same feat themselves, and learned about a new art form in the process.

Most of the scenic shots seem to be from stock images, which I could be wrong about, but where the music video shines is those shots of the lead singer going down the tunnel. It’s an interesting place, couple that with a crossfade of golden clouds, and it’s like walking down a tunnel into heaven. Which fits the music perfectly.

There are a few problems I have with the music video. The strengths of the music video is how seamless the shots of the lead singer, and the crossfade of the scenic imagery is. It has that ethereal quality which does a great job of capturing the sound of the music. Yet near the end, that ethereal kind of feeling is taken away when the lead singer is too in focus. The lighting seems harsh on her, and the contrast between that and the gorgeous background makes the music video seem cheap. Kind of like when you’re watching a documentary about Romans, and all of the sudden you see one of the legionnaires in a pair of blue jeans. It takes you out of the experience.

Yet it’s a minor, itsy bitsy flaw that shouldn’t detract anyone’s enjoyment of the music, and music video. Definitely check this band out, and if you ever want to venture out into making music videos Whimsical is definitely the band you should study.

Slave Beaver Revolt: Occulture

There’s a reason why all of the greatest horror films ever made, were all made by people who didn’t make horror movies. Whether it’s Stanley Kubrick’sΒ The Shining, William Friedkin’sΒ The Exorcist, or Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs. Each one of these directors backgrounds were not in horror.

So then why were those movies so good? It’s because instead of focusing on gore, jump scares, horror tropes, random sex scenes mixed in with violence, etc. They focused on horror. Their own particular interpretation of horror. They took influences from Lovecraft, documentary films, novels, etc. Then blended it together, with their own craft, and made something entirely different, new, original, and just plain genius.

So why do I bring this up when reviewing Slave Beaver Revolt? Slave Beaver Revolt has experimented, well not even experimented, but excelled in almost every genre they’ve been in. They’ve done experimental music, punk rock, death metal, synthwave, etc. Nearly every genre under the sun they’ve done it.

Now the reason is that this is important not only to understand how great this song is, but how great as artists they are. Is that when an artist experiments with different genres, they pick up little tricks along the way. Say the Beatles for example when they were in Hamburg, Germany as a bar band. They had to learn to play whatever the patrons wanted them to play. So they were playing songs outside of their comfort zone, and when a rock band plays outside their comfort zone. Well, that’s how you get the Beatles.

This track in particular highlights, why it’s so important not to be tied down to any specific genre. The track is electronic, yet it has the lyricism of death metal, the aggression of punk, and the quirkiness of experimental music. It’s completely unique, out of left field, and incredibly enjoyable.

Whether it’s those phenomenally produced heavy industrial drums. The distorted vocals that growl, glitch, and scream. The electronic hum of an electronic organ, the pulsating bass, and that sinister lead synth that arpeggios around the chorus. It’s a track that combines all the great ideas of every genre that Slave Beaver Revolt has been involved in, and seamlessly synthesizes it into something wholly new and different.

This track is a must listen, and this band is a must follow. Nearly every song they post is gold. Not only for how good it sounds, but the fact they manage to nail down every genre they dip their toes in.

Trees on the Moon: 40 DAYS

One of the things I truly love about IDM, is that it is first and foremost, a genre dedicated to experimentation. Just like how punk was a response to the over indulgence of rock music. IDM was the response to EDM. It was a more individualistic approach to electronic music. Which is something that’s sorely needed in every genre of music. I mean after all, if we were to make a time machine, show the Beatles any laptop with a DAW, and they’d be blown away. We’re at an age with infinite possibilities yet, very few of us take advantage of those opportunities.

Then there are artists like Trees on the Moon. Who manages to use every bizarre, nuanced, texture, to weave an incredibly enjoyable song. There are too many instances where I will hear somebody’s music, and I’ll immediately know who they are trying to imitate. Whether it’s slicing together K-mart shopping music and making a vaporwave track, to using gated reverb drums and orchestral synths to make a synthwave track.

More often than not, artists aren’t willing to use the tools at their disposal. Then there’s Trees on the Moon who not only uses unconventional synths, but creates a musical atmosphere that’s unlike anything I’ve heard in awhile. Whether it’s the frantic lead synths, chaotic layered drumming, and acidic basslines–everything is so rich and original.

Yet with all of this experimentation, there is still a solid musical foundation. Replace any of the instruments with say a violin or a piano–hell even an orchestra–and it still would work. It’s an interesting song just for that reason. Then layer on the experimental sounds, and you’ve got some next level visionary type of shit.

If there’s anything you can get out of this blog. Is that after awhile, you think you’ve heard everything. Then just when you think music has gotten completely stale, and uninspired someone like Trees on the Moon comes along. Definitely give this guy a listen, and definitely check out his music.

lis: donotcross/acetone march

As I’ve mentioned before there seems to be a misconception about experimental artists. That they are these tortured souls living down deep in a basement. Alone with their synthesizer/guitar/whatever and making bizarre tragic music, to make sense of their bizarre tragic nature.

Which is never the case at all. The best part of creating, is experimenting. If you don’t believe me, just put restrictions on what a creative person can say, do, write, sing, paint, film, etc. There is a 100% chance there is going to be some conflict. Yet on the flipside, what happens when you allow a creative person to create? Well this is where you get original artists like lis. Whose two-for-one special of a song, highlights just the joy of being a creator.

To begin with, there is no standard sound in this track. Nearly drum, synth, bass, etc. has morphed, transformed, and mutated into something wholly different than anything you’ve ever heard before. It’s when somebody who makes music, hears a song like this–where there are so many new novel ideas–and not be inspired.

Whether it’s the frantic energy of the synths in the first half of the track, to the chopped loop of a siren going off, even to the sample of Judge Dredd. It’s the kind of track that hypes you up as a creator, that opens your mind, and shows you that the whole world is full of possibilities. Everything is so fun, and so freeing. It’s a song that I’d encourage any creative person to checkout. Even if you got your sound on lock, and there is nothing that will ever change that. You can at least appreciate the ingenuity of this track.

j a b o b o: Fire Makes the World Go Round

I’m not giving going to lie here. As soon as I was done listening to this group, I immediately had to ask myself, “How is this not the biggest band in the universe?” Maybe I’m being hyperbolic, maybe it’s because I’m so used to hearing people making music on DAW, or maybe this song just hit me in the right mood.

Regardless, this is something that has to be heard to believe. There isn’t any flaw with the music. I’ve said that before about another band, but I believe in each case it’s when you separate the amateur, from the professional. The kid using a DAW, to a band professionally recording. There is a world of difference.

Take for instance this Fred Armisen bit about Musicians.

Now of course it’s all comedy, and in jest. Yet when listening to this song, you can’t help but feel as though the musicians in this band treated each instrument like they were going wine tasting. Every single instrument, from the bass, the guitar, the drums, the cymbals, the snare, the kick, etc. All of this unique and varied texture. It’s like when you go to a 5 star restaurant and order a burger. You’ve had a burger before. Yet when you go to this restaurant, and bite into this burger; things that you weren’t aware about, you’re suddenly conscious of. The crispy freshness of the lettuce, the juiciness of the meat, the ripeness of the tomato, how the bun has this flakey sweetness that you’ve never encountered before, etc.

This band has made me aware of much of an impact musicianship, and mixing can have on a track. Everything is done perfectly, from the groovy bass that is panned over to the right, that amazing distorted guitar on the left, and the clash of each cymbal. All of these things combine, and make you understand when older musicians complain about how much soul is being lost in making music using a DAW.

Then there’s the vocals, which have this pitch perfect sound. It’s the ideal of what everybody wants an “indie” vocalist to sound like. Not too professional because then it becomes too cheesy, and sounds like a musical. Yet not off key, to where it becomes unbearable to listen to. What these vocals excel in is pure charisma. It just oozes off of this track, and if you don’t like it then–I’m sorry–you don’t have a heart.

I don’t know how long these guys have been out on the game but this track is good, and so promising that you’d be insane not to check them out. So go do it before everybody else does!

 

Thomas Dooley: Two Years

One of the great things about being a modern musician, it that we have at our disposal, a nearly infinite set of tools to which to express ourselves. Yet most of the time the majority of artists squander that possibility. Artists get too caught up in the rat race and forget why they made music.

Whenever an artist creates a song they invite you into their world, and you catch a glimpse of who they are. Maybe you see something that relates to you, an instrument you love, or a stylistic influence you can hear in that artists song. Whatever the case maybe, this song is one of the most beautiful, lush soundscapes, I’ve heard on soundcloud in a very long time.

From it’s beautiful upbeat guitar, that has just the right amount of jangle rock influence. To the phenomenal bass that just doesn’t trudge along by playing the root of each note, but is complex and is just a blast to listen to. Combine that with the beautifully done vocal reverbs, the fantastical percussion, and the layered synthesizers it’s a song that is just fantastic.

Then there’s the guitar solo which has the most perfect guitar tone I have heard in such a long time. It’s one of those guitar tones, that as anybody who love guitar pedals can tell you, you just want to go out and buy every pedal that made that tone.

All of this combines into this whimsical kind of song that can even melt the coldest of hearts. It’s what happens when an artist guides you to a land of wonder, awe, and whimsy. This is a song that you gotta check out, and definitely give Thomas Dooley a follow.

 

DuffDoes: YESTERDAYWASABLUR

Music is like a drug. For any music lover there seems to be that “one song.” That song that drew a line in the sand, from casual listening, to full on consumption. And while Harmony is the gateway drug, dissonance becomes the hardcore narcotic, that only the most desperate addict seeks out.

While yes, dissonant music is heard everywhere. Hell even Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze has some dissonance to it. Yet there is this thin line between chaos and art. What is pure garbage nonsense to one person, is a prized piece of art to another. Yet for me as a fan of music, and as a critic is not that the sound is dissonant. But rather, what does this dissonance achieve? What is the desired effect? And does the artist achieve this effect?

So it’s my pleasure to introduce DuffDoes, a man who knows how to use dissonance to convey an emotional response in the listener. I mean with a song titled YESTERDAYWASABLUR, we have to ask ourselves: how does DuffDoes achieve the feeling of a hangover? So with that all out of the way let’s nosedive straight into this hangover.

Right off the bat, we hear samples of water pouring. Or as the title suggests alcohol, lean, or whatever else kids are into these days. This sample loops over and over again in the intro. Kind of like when you wake up with a side splitting headache and while “YESTERDAYWASABLUR” the only consistent and immediate thing you know is that you were in fact drinking. That coupled with the reverberated synth, and razor sharp hi hat–does an excellent job in conveying that physical sensation of waking up with a hangover.

Then there’s the actual beat, the 808 kick, bells, clap, and hi hat do an excellent job in tying the whole song together. I mean after all while you maybe going through a hangover at the moment you did have fun while you were fucked up. It’s why every early 20’s something has the great idea that if they drink all the time, then they’ll never have hangovers.

Yet the melody of the song tells us a different story. While the beat ties everything together, the melody does all it can to mutate, transform, and change into this dissonant sound. As though while, yes, the night before was great. This hangover is a little bit different, and one hangover too many. After all burning your hand on a stove the first time is a funny story. Burning your hand on a stove for your whole entire 20’s, and then it’s just sad. Which is why the mutated melody provides this additional, almost tragic subtext to it.

This is a great song for any artist to listen to, just to understand how to use dissonance in an effective way. There are far too many times where it seems like music lovers go for the most obtuse, abrasive, ear piercing, atonal, music humanly possible. Not because it conveys an emotion, theme, or even music but because it’s so “different.” Not only does this track do a great job of conveying the emotion of YESTERDAYWASABLUR but it’s so well produced as well. Everything is crisp, fresh, and sounds absolutely fantastic. Which gives the experimentation of the track a little extra validity. After all, when a professional experiments it’s avant-garde. When an amateur experiments it’s shit. And DuffDoes is no amateur.

So give this track a listen. If you ever want to make that dissonant avant-garde sounding track that you’ve always wanted to make. There’s no better artist to look to then DuffDoes.

-πΉπ’Άπ’Ύπ“‡π“Ž π‘…π’Ύπ“ƒπ‘”π“ˆ- Under A Different Moon

If there is one weakness, or bias, I have towards music is that I love a good piano piece. Especially one that is as soft and gentle as the one provided by -πΉπ’Άπ’Ύπ“‡π“Ž π‘…π’Ύπ“ƒπ‘”π“ˆ- an artist who has made one of the most beautiful tracks I’ve heard on soundcloud.

Which shouldn’t be a surprise, judging by the cover art alone. It was that cover art that immediately grabbed my attention. I mean, it’s a bunch of fairy children fighting a bat. Who in their right mind wouldn’t enjoy that. Yet the saying, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” still applies. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve seen great cover art, only to be greeted by the ear rape of construction sounds. I’m so glad that this is not the case with this song.

The beginning has that Beatles Day in the Life beginning, as the atonal electronic landscape swells up into this beautiful piano piece. The piano is so rich, and so beautiful that it’s so refreshing to hear. With the advent of DAWs being available, either legally or illegally to millions of people, there’s something special about hearing a musician playing a competently well thought out piano piece.

Then there’s the vocals which lull you into this tranquil state of mind. The lyrics paint this melancholy vibe, which just adds more to the ambience of the whole track. Every musician loves that unique period in music, where the stars aligned, and pop music had substance. Whether it was The Beatles Sgt. Pepper, The Beach Boy’s Pet Sounds, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Prince’s Purple Rain, Nirvana’s In Utero or even Kanye West’s Life of Pablo (I don’t care, it’s my favorite album of his.)

It’s that moment where the sincerity and rawness of the avant garde meets the pop sensibilities of the masses. Where an emotion that seemed so individualistic, so private, to the artist is expressed, and the rest of the world nods their heads in an agreement that say, “This is what I feel.”

-πΉπ’Άπ’Ύπ“‡π“Ž π‘…π’Ύπ“ƒπ‘”π“ˆ- is that artist. Who is able to express in such a beautiful and elegant way the emotions that at first may seem individualistic, yet are shared by all of us. He is an artist that, I cannot wait to see his growth, because I can see the potential. All that has to happen is for the rest of the world to hear him.

Pool View: Victory Formation

A song comprised of guitar loops, harmonized screaming, Post Punk basslines, a beat switch up, and a fucking saxophone solo. If you just read that and are thinking to yourself, “How the fuck is this a song?” Well my friend, rest assured you’re normal. Pool View on the other hand is definitely not normal.

Now you may think that I don’t like this track, far from it, I LOVE THIS TRACK. I have no idea how Pool View was able to combine any of these ideas, I have no idea how the formation of this song even came to existence, I have no idea what his influences are, I have no idea how he came up with this song.

This is kind of existentially terrifying for me, as a creative person I can kind of see the gears turning in someone’s head when they release a track. I can kind of pinpoint their influences, see who they borrowed from, what genre they’re paying homage to. Yet with this artist, I can’t.

It’s that full unbridled creativity that draws us into art. When we see something like Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, or even The Matrix. We’re blown away by the vision of its creators. Yet with each of those films, if we are culturally astute we can see the influences of other media. Star Wars is just Flash Gordan mixed with some Akira Kurosawa, Joseph Campbell, and WWII serials. The Lord of the Rings is an amalgamation of European myths. The Matrix is a homage to every sci-fi ever. Etc.

With this little microcosm of a song, maybe you hear a bit of musical influences. For me personally I heard a bit of Red Hot Chili Peppers in the intro. I heard a bit of Hip Hop, Jazz, punk, etc. Yet it’s the fusion of all these elements into something entirely new that astonishes me. It astonishes me because even though it seems familiar, it’s not. It’s like landing on an alien planet. It seems like Earth since it has life, and solid ground. But everything around you is so unfathomably different.

Everybody has heard the announcement that A.I. will eventually be creating music. And nearly every artist, musician, has had to roll their eyes at this statement. Yet for the people who believe in that, could an A.I. come up with a song as original as this? Fuck even 99.99999999% of the population isn’t creative enough to come up with something remotely as original as this.

So if you think that music as an art form is dying. I implore you to checkout this song. It is honestly amazing. It’s the type of song that you listen to, that makes you checkout some of your previous tracks, tracks that you thought were “Too weird,” and forces you to take that creative leap of faith. Because if you don’t, other artists like Pool View will.

Pretty O.P. : Satisfaction Guaranteed

So I’m going to be honest. I am 100% biased when it comes to this review. This guy has been making back to back masterpieces, and to say that I’ve been unaware of him would be a lie.

Usually whenever you hear underground music, it sounds like it came from the underground. With trained ears you can hear the mic pops, the muddied bass lines, the out of tune vocals, etc. Yet it’s because of its sincerity that we keep coming back to it, again and again. But what if I were to tell you that there was a soundcloud musician out there, whose songs brim with sincerity that sounds so polished, so pristine, and so perfect that it makes every person on soundcloud look like the amateurs that they (and I’m including myself) are?

Now I introduce you to Pretty O.P. a musician who lives up to his name. Where to begin with this song? The first time I ever listened to Pretty O.P. I was blown away by his vocals. He’s got so much range, and it has that quality that everybody loves in a singer which is his ability to emote. They say that the mark of a good singer is his ability to stay in tune, and the mark of a great singer is to stay in tune and emote. This song is no different, yet he introduces so many new elements to his vocals that you cannot help but be amazed by his singing.

Then there’s the musicality of Pretty O.P. the chord progressions, the electronic flourishes, the pitch perfect guitar solo, the ebbs and flow of the track. There is literally hook after hook in this song. In one moment you’re blown away by the acoustic chord progressions, then there’s this psychedelic dubstep sounding synths (a phrase I never thought I would ever write), and then it goes lo-fi with the ambience of children playing over what sounds like a tape recorder.

So you’d think after that one long ass run on sentence that that would be all there is to the track. You’d be wrong. It’s better to listen then to read a review so I implore you to checkout an artist who has been slaying it, track after track.