Her Stems Spiral – Princess Poured Out The Pale Winter Moon digital EP

HSSI say this all the time, but the best selling point, to your music is the packaging, just love this cover art on this one and it fits nicely with the music…other worldly.  Shannon, who essentially is the entire band (with help from Matthew on drums/percussion) hit me up to give his creation a listen )on a side note his was the most polite and personal request I have had yet for a review). This thing came all the way from South Africa, via wires and whatnot, to basically unsettle my brain. My reply to Shannon was, “As far as the tunes, wow! Shoegaze is a category I’ve heard of but honestly couldn’t name one band that fits that description, and math-rock is something I am only lately getting in touch with. If those are what you are then I can dig it. I realize that you are playing live instruments, one at a time anyway, but the sound has an industrial vibe, which is way up on my radar. Jazzy too, which says a lot about your musicianship. Love the cover art, would really look good on a hard copy.”  In response to my ignorance of the shoegaze/math rock genres, Shannon mentioned that this music had been influenced by, “Alcest, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Kayo Dot, Dråpe, Chelsea Wolfe, My Bloody Valentine, The Blood Brothers etc”…I honestly have never heard of any of these bands.  So let HSS be my introduction, and I’ll be damned if I’m not impressed.  The bio from Last.FM reads “Her Stems Spiral is an avant-garde/shoegaze project started by Shannon Lawlor of the Johannesburg based post-rock band Eyes Like Mirrors. It was created as an entity to explore the realms of experimental music and unconventional song-writing. Dreams, or the unconscious mind played a major role in the development of this release. Lyrics range from stories of the past, to mother nature’s revenge, and even some self-reflection. Shannon’s first effort titled “Princess Poured Out The Pale Winter Moon” was recorded in a small independent studio called MoonSwing, in Johannesburg, South Africa, from mid 2012 – early 2013 using a single condenser microphone, and limited to hardware/software. All vocals and instruments were written and composed on the spot in studio, as an experiment to conduct the relationship between the subconscious subliminal influence and the unconscious fantasies of the mind.” To summarize all that, what you have is a guy who has written, composed and performed something of a exquisite enigma. It’s a bit of a strange this, ranging from dreamy to intense. You wouldn’t think that it had been so impromptu, the songs don’t seem to be thrown together as much as wrought or forged. And with a guy playing so many separate tracks, it doesn’t sound like ten different incarnations of Shannon doing completely different things, but much more harmonious…in a chaotic sort of way. There are some King Crimson moments here and there, sometimes it reminds me of one of my favorite bands Creedle, and overall it has a jazzy quality to it. Not being a musician, I’m sure that some of this is way over my head, because, in case you didn’t know it, musicians talk to each other through their music, without the rest of us knowing they’re doing it. Like Frank Zappa who always surrounded himself with the best of musicians, Shannon has done a great service to his music, by having Mathew sit in on drums. By all rights and purposes he is a part of this the music, just like a guitar has two E strings. Shannon had been playing in the band Eyes Like Mirrors, but I think they are on a hiatus of sorts, at the moment. There is a huge web presence for this band as there is with a lot of bands in these internet convenient days (remember when all underground bands had was zines, word of mouth and live performances to speak for them), there’s a Last.FM, a Soundcloud, a Facebook, an interview at Harum Scarum Records and you can give the whole thing a listen (and download at “name your price”) at Bandcamp. I hope Shannon doesn’t mind but I wanted to share my favorite song here in the site, a tune called “Asleep On The Ferris Again”…

Once again, go to the Bandcamp below, to give the whole thing a listen and have a chance to put it on your iPod!…
http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=490679998/size=medium/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/transparent=true/

Cmn ineed yr hlp – It Came Without Warning…As Most Disatsers Do digital EP

coverStill playing catch up on these reviews, but as promised last time, only gonna spend time on the out-fucking-standing shit, and this hunk of plastic is no exception. Mark from Cmn ineed yr hlp hit me up to see what I thought of his band. My immediate response to him was, “This record is downright trouble.  Like a good book that you can’t put down, I couldn’t stop listening.  Usually I’m multi-tasking when I listen to music on the computer, but this demanded my full attention.” A novel set to music, an un-lame opera, an extreme musical.  Here’s what the band had to say, “Now in their sixth year, Cmn ineed yr hlp continues to be ambitious, pretentious, and self-aware enough to poke fun at themselves about these characteristics (as well as their beloved, yet much-maligned band name). Jose Rosales (guitar), Ian Gegenheimer (drums) and Mark Oster (bass) started composing their second record together more than three years ago, and with the help of Matt Engstrom (recording and mixing) and Gary Yek (mastering), have finally brought it to fruition.”  First off check out the cover art, that’s a whole fucking story in itself.  A friend of mine recently described the experience perfectly, “I used to love listening to an album and devouring the cover with my eyes.”  The story itself is a sad one, like King Kong or Moby Dick, as humanity in it’s typically vulgar way, tries to subdue nature…in this case it backfires (at least that was my impression).  There is this early radio broadcast thing going, eerie sound effects and news headlines included, like an H.G. Wells narrated story interspersed into this really tight barrage of music.  Other than the narration, the music is instrumental, like some jazz fusion beast.  The songs are not meant to be singled out, the album is one single composition, separated into acts, if you will.  There is no repetition, no verse or chorus, instead, a very well thought out and conceived super jam.  Mathy and progressive is what I suppose some would call it and if that means superior, tight as getting the 20th person into the phone booth, musicianship, combined with an Einstein-like intellectual unfolding of the universe approach to songwriting, then this is that.  Over at Gotta Groove Records you can read a bit more about them, along with a shit ton of (better than mine) reviews (sometimes I wonder why folks hit this city turned country boy up for his opinion on their tunes, they must already know they rock).  Cmn… have their own WEBSITE to peruse, and an ultra heavy web presence in the form of a Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blip.fm, MySpace, Last.FM and a ReverbNation.  At this point, the record (so to speak) is only available digitally, but the band is trying to get the funds together to release this as a proper 12″ EP.  Enough babbling, listen and be amazed…

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=617669444/size=small/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/transparent=true/

Human Thurma – S/T 7″

Auditory OdysseyOne of my stomping grounds in the mid 80’s, Auditory Odyssey on Laurel Canyon in North Hollywood.  I’ve mentioned taking the bus there before, a straight shot down Victory from Burbank.  In the other direction was Turning Point in Glendale on Glenoaks.  AO was the super store though, it just had a lot more selection than TP, although I did more shopping at TP because they were great about ordering from distributors.  Records, T-shirts, posters, knick knacks, bongs/pipes, with perpetually burning incense in the air…some of my records still smell like incense.  Across the street was one of those mega theaters, with like 8 movies playing at a time.  They had midnight movies for cheap that we’d go to, Song Remains the Same, The Wall, Heavy Metal and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, with all the characters that movie attracted.  These things don’t exist any more (not sure if the theater is still there, but if so I doubt they have midnight movies).  Sad really, I mean we have to flow with the times, but buying mp3s through iTunes and watching movies though Netflix just doesn’t cut it.

Fastkill1Picked this thing up not too long ago, for dirt cheap. Gotten into the habit of picking up Japanese stuff, old and new, because 9 times out of 10 if it’s Japanese it’s going to be good. Sweeping generalities…it’s racism if it’s bad but what if it’s a positive? The split has an American band on the flip and they’re not bad. Fastkill though, from Japan tear it up, good solid speed/thrash/death with over the top vocals…

Fastkill – Sickness

Ever since I opened this place up I’ve been getting spam comments, the good old fashioned home made ones and the spam-bot variety. Recently I got one from my new favorite imaginary person….”Curly Afro Weave”. God there’s got to be something I could do with that…maybe change the name of the site to Curly Afro Weave!

Human Thurma1The description on this one said “loud heavy creepy noise rock – if you like AmRep stuff.” Doesn’t that just demand doing everything you can to give it a listen. Dirt cheap too. If you like browsing distros do yourself a favor and check out Nevin’s IFB Records. So his description was just about perfect. Funny thing was the band was a total mystery to me, so I did the google thing and a link from Mustard Relics popped up (losing/lost my mind). Turns out they played with the Hitch, Melt-Banana and the Hellworms live at The Vista in Eureka Kali back in the mid 90’s. I guess they could be called a noise rock band but according to the “experts” at wikipedia they are a Math Rock band. Outta Richmond Virginia they do have a Myspace and over at Last FM, you get kind of a bio. Tones From the Underground did a little ditty on them as the guy there was part of the Richmond scene. At least one band member went onto a killer band I’ll be posting sooner or later called Hex Machine. If you do one tune do “Low Budget”…

Little Barracks

Smoking For 2

Low Budget