Search for the Hidden Gem (2011 – vol# 3)

Written by on April 21, 2011 in April 21, 2011, Music Reviews - Comments Off on Search for the Hidden Gem (2011 – vol# 3)

Spring is here and that means trout season opens in the eastern Sierras in only a few short weeks.  I can’t wait to try out those new orange and yellow woolly buggers I got over the winter.

Journal

“Unloria”
www.myspace.com/journalmusic
Style (Grindcore / Progressive)

For starters I’ve never heard of the genre grindcore.  I’ve heard of grindhouse but I don’t think grindcore and grindhouse are linked.  Without spending too much time on semantics this is basically speed/death metal that in all honesty is ferocious, but is also a convoluted mess.  But they call it progressive to sound smarter.  If Jackson Pollock was blazing the death metal cords this is what I’d expect from him.  That said, I find Pollock’s work about as genius and progressive as my kid’s finger painting, which lets you know where I’m heading with this.  There are lots of things worthy of avoiding with these 12 musical masterpieces so I’ll try and narrow it down.  First off, what kind of name is Journal for a death metal (grindcore) band?  I’d expect a name like this from some pussy band writing songs like Maroon 5 or Big Time Rush.  Second, the composition of shredding guitars hyped on jet fuel, non-stop jackhammer kick drums, and howler monkey vocals is a cacophony of noise pitting each component against the other instead of working together.  Last time I checked Webster there is no “I” in team or band.  Third, this style of music is supposedly for the moshers, and not for anyone else.  But because of the structural mess and lack of hard driving consistent rhythms, Journal is steering the mosh pit into eminent bewilderment.

Rating ½ (progressive doesn’t necessarily equate to good song writing)

Olekranon

(bilal)
website ???
Style (experimental / instrumental)

The infomercial writes itself.  “Got unwanted guests, pests, or children?  Are you a brutal dictator or monarchy with unruly protestors bent on changing your decades of peaceful atrocities?  If so don’t despair, get Olekranon!  This patent pending distorted white noise is ruthless on cochlear nerves far and wide and leaves no traces of WMD.”   Too bad Billy Mays is gone because he might have been able to really sell this steamer.  I’m guessing the band name is a play on the real word, olecranon, or as it’s more commonly known, the funny bone, because if you are unlucky enough to spend your hard earned coin on this instrumental meltdown of distortion the joke is clearly on you.

Rating 0 (not even being stoned will help this, and that’s a crime against humanity)

Brandon Ashley

“Nightmare Factory 82”
www.brandon-ashley.net
Style (Alt / Rock / Industrial)

Marketing, marketing, marketing!  Some bands flyer the city and internet.  Some bands send extensive bios with glossy 8×10’s packaged in high school term paper folders, and then there are musicians like Mr. Ashley, who understand an artist has about 3 seconds to grab my attention visually before I continue sorting through my box of 30+ CD’s looking for something that does catch my eye.  In Mr. Ashley’s case, he’s masterfully used a sexy short haired brunette in a black Mardi Gras mask wearing black under garments on the CD cover.  But a jab is only effective if you follow it up.  Again Mr. Ashley’s played to his marketing strength with a lethal combination by including the same woman on the inside jacket photographed from the backside!  Nice job Mr. Ashley, you definitely got my attention.  As for the music, I like what Ashley’s doing but I feel more maturity and growth musically in this genre are needed to really makes his songs stick.  I’d describe Ashley’s sound as an industrial style of dance rock with gothic sex appeal containing the expected club beats and electronica.  Mainstream wise I’d classify this as a tamer version of Marilyn Manson if Manson were to record a club music record.  Also, the CD is a little light having only 6 songs, or chapters, as Ashley calls them.  Making up for the lightness in songs is an accompanying DVD for the video “My Decadent Thursday,” which was directed by Chad Michael Ward.  Again I applaud Mr. Ashley for using the marketing tools he has available to him because this same brunette appears in the video in a bathtub topless with some goldfish.  Sure the use of a hot chick scantily clad is a cheap parlor trick but remember Lady Gaga’s song writing isn’t why we pay attention to her.

Rating 2 ½ (based on the music, but the marketing is a Hidden Gem)

Mojo Monkeys

“Blessing & Curses”
www.mojomonkeys.com
Style (Americana / Country / Blues)

These 13 tracks take me back to those weekends back in 2004 I spent hanging out at the Cinema Bar in Culver City.  The sound is a blend of Americana, country, and blues.  I really dig a few things about this CD.  First off I dig the earthy tone and its moodiness and how all the vibrations congeal into a comfortable uniqueness that’s warm but at the same time still a little rough.  When I hear the song “Baton Rouge” I feel like putting on my boots and walking through swamp muck and rattlesnakes just to get a taste of whisky.  Lyrically, these are songs that are easy to interpret exhibiting an interesting storytelling quality which is perfect for this style of music.  Another thing I dig about this trio’s second CD is how they’ve described who each song is for, such as the song “Can’t Say No” being for the bad girls, or “Beating Dead Horses” being for the little conservative in all of us, or “Our Curse” being for the broken ones.  It’s a simple practice that typically plays out during an artist’s live shows but works wonderfully for these songs.

Rating 3 (“Bodacious” is a fun opening song)

The Children of the Plague

“Rocket to Rapture”
www.thechildrenoftheplague.com
Style (Industrial / Goth / Glam)

Ever make homemade bread and pull the loaf out too soon before the middle is done?  But because you’re so thrilled and excited with your efforts to make homemade bread you look past the wet doughy center with texture resembling filling? This is what I think of this band’s new CD.  It’s raw, really raw, and desperately needs a lot more mixing to even out the high end with something, anything, resembling low end.  A majority of tracks are so over modulated using static white noise as music representation it should be considered a crime against humanity.  Listing to these songs I’m harked back to those old cassette recordings we made as kids with the volume knob pushed to the max which rendered everything recorded unintelligible.  If the goal was to record “x” number of songs saturated with distorted white noise, a musical oxymoron, your goal has been achieved.  This band spent more time working on their combat boot anarchist gothic poser look than actually writing interesting material.  After hearing these tracks I’d say it’s definitely not the time to quit the day job.

Rating 0 (the plague has more going for it than these posers)

Electric Shepherd

“Electric Shepherd”
www.myspace.com/electricshepherdmusic
Style (Psychedelic)

I can appreciate the 60’s drug culture music, but the bio indicated these guys have strong elements of the Doors, Cream, and Pink Floyd, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.  What those bands did while being stoned was write great music, which in turn inspired a stoned culture artistically.  The song writing of Electric Shepherd, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired.  The songs are slow, which is to be expected, meander and are long winded, which of course provides everyone a chance to toke up and refill, and they remind me of that disco scene in Godzilla vs. Hedorah, which is a scene that makes no sense and that’s my point.  Psychedelically, Electric Shepherd’s vibe reminds me of that annoying cloud of smoke that burns my eyes but no matter what I do the remnants still linger.  However, if your idea of a fun Friday night involves lying on the floor trippin’ out watching a laser light show than this may be something to put on the playlist – but only if your Ex took all your Doors, Cream, and Pink Floyd when she left.

Rating 2