Review of Bryce Miller’s “City Depths” at Starburst Magazine

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From the cover art, featuring a silhouetted man in a carpark, to the purple-tinged cassette, to the liner notes, Bryce Miller’s imaginary soundtrack, City Depths, is absolutely gorgeous in the way in conveys discomfort. As Miller states in the liner notes, the experience he’s hoping to communicate with this music is ‘a sense of uneasy stillness as the moon casts everything in darkness and shadow.’

Read the full review at Starburst Magazine. Published 12/2/16

Review of Bryce Miller’s ‘WASP’ at Starburst Magazine

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Bryce Miller’s put together an interesting musical experiment with his release of WASP. He composed all of the music while reading his way through Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy (also known as “The Girl Who …” books). It’s pretty basic ambient music, for the most part, and while it really creates an atmosphere, which accurately reflects the cold world in which the Millennium Trilogy takes place, it’s not anything that really stands out, as one begins listening.

Read the full review at Starburst Magazine. Published 9/21/16

Review of Repeated Viewing’s “Street Force” cassette at Starburst Magazine

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One of the best aspects of the music Alan Sinclair produces as Repeated Viewing is the fact that, for all of the faux mythologizing regarding his imaginary film scores, they actually tell a story through music. One can create artwork, a backstory, or some semblance of a plot summary, but all of that means nothing without music which could actually soundtrack said scenario.

Read the complete review of Repeated Viewing’s Street Force cassette at Starburst Magazine. Published 7/21/16

Various Artists, “Crazy Al’s Indiana Punk and New Wave 76-83” cassette

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My review of Crazy Al’s Indiana Punk & New Wave ’76 – ’83 on Twitter consisted mainly of “BUY IT” repeated a dozen times, and I stand by that. Hell, even if the majority of the bands and songs were mediocre, I’d probably recommend you snag this cassette just for the previously unreleased Zero Boys song, “I’m Absent.”
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Pushin’ It 2 The Limit, “self-titled” cassette

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When I reviewed Ex Friends’ Rules For Making Up Words last year, I mentioned that I really liked Audrey Crash‘s vocals, but was “kind of turned off by Joel Tannenbaum‘s delivery>’ Well, here’s the perfect solution: Crash is fronting a band called Pushin’ It 2 The Limit. Their new, self-titled cassette is pretty boss.

Short, punchy tunes that rush along, kind of like a punker Lemuria. The songs have pop hooks and catchy lyrics — “Breaking through Everything with Your Facehammer” is an excellent example of how PI2TL works: lyrics about pushing through, being creatively fulfilled, sang with wobbly harmonies by Crash and guitarist Leta Gray.
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Lunglust, “As Guilt Collects Dust” cassette

Cassette Insert- 2 Panel sepsLunglust‘s As Guilt Collects Dust cassette took a few listens to get a handle on. I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around what the band was trying to accomplish. However, it finally clicked one morning that the five piece is really letting these songs breathe. It’s not that they’re wide-open, jammy bits of hardcore — not at all. As a matter of fact, opening cut “Closed Casket” goes right into “Broken Idol” without much more than a slight dip in the music.

No, what Lunglust has done here is create a hardcore single that isn’t trying to play a mile-a-minute, with all the riffs crammed tightly into 45-60 second songs. Hardcore’s the rare genre wherein a two minute song can be considered “stretching out,” but such is the case. Every song on As Guilt Collects Dust let’s the instruments speak without the vocals jammed right on top of them, so you can hear the interplay between Jeff Sykes‘ harsh rasp and the band’s lurching, pounding rhythms.
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Sitar Outreach Ministry, “Revolution In Dimension 5” cassette

cover - sitar outreach ministry revolutionWhen you get a cassette by a band called Sitar Outreach Ministry, and you know nothing more than whom it was released by, you put it in the tape deck the instant it shows up in the mail. So it went with Revolution In Dimension 5 the band’s release on Magnetic South.

It’s probably the most novel thing a band could do these days, but it’s not the unusual nature of Sitar Outreach Ministry’s music or the novelty which sets them above anything, despite their Soundcloud featuring covers of the Velvet Underground and Bill Withers.

However, it is those covers — and, more specifically, the breadth of music which they represent — that gives a clue as to why this one guy from Bloomington, Indiana, is such an interesting cat to listen to. There’s psychedelic swilring going on here, obviously. To think otherwise would be ludicrous.
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Alpha Owl, “3 Song EP” cassette

cover - alpha owlAlpha Owl‘s “Boscage” single is an amazing package. Hand-typed liner notes, letterpress artwork, and it’s just amazing. Lots of work for a three-song EP, especially something that’s limited to a production run of 100.

The music took me a little more to get into. It’s energetic stoner metal that acknowledges that Black Sabbath wrote “Paranoid,” as well as “War Pigs,” if that makes any sense. The EP isn’t all plodding sludge — it’s actually upbeat and makes you want to do that thing where you play air guitar and wiggle your fingers. It involves lots of epic soloing, some insane riffage, and some pounding drums that make me wish this hadn’t been mastered so high. Were there more of a low end, this could conceivably level a house.

This might be the most fun release Tor Johnson has put out. It manages to rock like a hardcore band, but still evokes every evening spent smoking too much weed and raiding your parents’ LPs for Hawkwind and Led Zeppelin records. Granted, the vocals are occasionally just a little out of reach of the singer’s range, but it ends up lending the whole affair a sense of desperation that wouldn’t otherwise be there. For a first release, it shows a lot of promise, and I can’t wait to see where Alpha Owl heads next.

High Diving Ponies, “Face Blindness” cassette

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Last Friday, Stephen Thompson answered a question regarding too much music on the All Songs Considered blog. I sympathized with the writer, because looking at the stacks of records, singles, CDs, and cassettes scattered about the basement, I feel that I don’t get a chance to really appreciate music the way I once did.

And, really, it doesn’t hit until you throw in a cassette by a local band — in this case, Kansas City’s High Diving Ponies‘ newest, Face Blindness — and realize that you’ve really enjoyed everything they’ve ever put out, but probably only listened to each release but once. And you’ve never seen them live? Seriously, how can you claim to enjoy a band when you’ve only listened to them 10% as much as you did Blink-182 as a teenager?
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