Dweeb City is an alien girl space electric DIY punk band. We reviewed the band's self-titled release Dweeb City back in 2018 and they recently released a remix EP called Microwave Mix. The EP contains six songs and the band combined forces with another artist called Terrificus.
Before we get into the music I need to mention this might be the most colorful band I’ve seen. If you google Dweeb City and go to the images you can view the incredible job they do with everything from attire to stage design. Suffice it to say they look psychedelic and otherworldly. I give this two thumbs up.
The music really does fit the visuals in my opinion. Take for instance the opener “Silver Lining” which starts with alien sounding pads and sparse percussion. The vocals are spoken words at first but soon enough there’s vocal patterns emerging. Musically, it sounded sort of shoegaze inspired with disparate elements coming in and out. It’s psychedelic but also oddly comforting. That could be because of the xylophone that was panned hard left.
Up next is “Space Zombies Are Coming” and this is great. The vocals are almost whispered at first and even a little ominous sounding. There’s talk about zombies and traveling around in space. The hook which drops is fantastic. Multiple vocal lines overlap with an alien space band.
“Soft Hands” has the most energy yet. There’s more kinetic percussion and a borderline aggressive lead vocal. The song is all over the place in a good way. The transitions come fast and can overwhelm the senses with the sheer amount of mayhem happening that forms a sense of synaesthesia.
“Spacevision” is perhaps an homage to the more earthly Eurovision. I’m not sure but the straight 4/4 club beat is an indicator. This might be the most straightforward song all things considered but the song still manages to throw you for a loop during certain sections.
“Space Zombies Are Really Coming” might be my favorite groove. This song reminded me of one of my favorite artists Jon Hopkins and to a lesser extent The Field. It’s the most ethereal and hypnotic sounding song. Last up is “Softer Hands” which travels through space and time. It's a pulsating freak out session that doesn't care about the past.
I recently obtained a portal gun similar to the one Rick has from Rick & Morty. Truth be told, I travel dimensions more than space so I decided to check out the music scene at a couple that I’ve had my eye on . Dweeb City is currently on the top of the Billboard charts and just passed Kanye West in dimension C-185 and C2-478924. Impressive. They are also extremely popular in other galaxies that you would need a wormhole to visit but I promise you their popular music is so much better than ours right now.
At any rate my earthly friends, I think this is music that humans as well as other intelligent forms of life will enjoy and relate to (even space mutants not to be confused with space zombies). Thanks for vibrations and hope to hear more soon.
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Cencio describes themselves as: A Sensory mediation artist mixing music and nature with aromatic and medicinal plants. A multidisciplinary project navigating between art and well-being by creating interactions with each sense.” The artist just released Terra. Truth be told the music is more straightforward than I thought it would after reading the description.
The album begins with “Downward Spiral” and you are greeted with organ and vocals. I did have some trouble making out the lyrics because of the thick accent but I still thought it sounded great. The song blossoms with guitar and drums. It’s upbeat and catchy. The lyrics are aligned with my expectations and veer towards well being and spirituality. As the song progresses it opens up a little more with a wide stereo field.
Next up is “Ground” which is lush and atmospheric. The guitars are clean with a good amount of reverb while others pads seem to be panned center. It’s an uplifting song and should put you in a good mood or at least get you motivation to get in a good headspace.
“Terra” did come out of nowhere and felt out of place to me. It’s a very ominous sounding soundscape. The feeling is haunting with occasional spoken word-like delivery . It's also much more cinematic .”Item” goes back into similar territory as the first two songs. This song is upbeat and airy. I thought the guitar work sounded great and the vocals were the most dynamic yet. Last up is “Thousand Souls” which is sort of a slow moving hypnotic track. The guitar work is again quite good as are the vocals.
As an engineer I thought the mixes were good but a little narrow. Take for instance the bass drum on “Thousand Souls.” There could have been more low end frequencies EQ’d out so you could feel the thump - in particular between 25hz and 70hz.
There’s a lot to appreciate on this release. The songwriting along with the guitar and vocal work was consistently well done. Take a listen.
Purefoy Donahue is presently the solo project of Nick Corbello in Cincinnati, OH. It started as a noise duo in North Adams, MA circa 2012. Corbello just released Person Are which is a genre meshing album. The album contains nine songs and they average about five minutes in length. Corbello mentions: “Person Are started as my attempt at writing pop punk songs after years of playing mostly experimental noise rock. It incorporates a wide range of other influences as well, from Krautrock to Prince.”
The album starts with “Earrings” and I was definitely picking up on the Devo and Krautrock influence. The song contains a distorted guitar, plastic computer generated sounding bass lines and occasionally effects which sound like chip-tune. It sounded like eight-bit video game effects. There aren’t any vocal hooks but more like I would describe them as outbursts sort of similar to David Bryne.
The more subdued “Our Faces” revolves around guitars with heavy effects and what sounds like synth bass. “T-Shirts” is dissonant and absurd in terms of the lyrics. There’s a vacuous sort of plastic quality which is hard to describe on paper. Almost like you’re in a piano bar in a cartoon.
“Trees Read” is an experimental and dissonant soundscape with delayed vocals while “Person Are” is oddly catchy but off-kilter. The album moves forward with a highlight called “We Have to Care” which has some unique and inventive elements while he asks philosophical questions. “Air Setting” felt like it was being artsy and perhaps sarcastic. “Teach Me How to Use” and “Hallways Always” continue to form his sound of experimentation.
This album felt like it was trying to be experimental and absurd. Sort of somewhere between David Lynch and theatre of the absurd but perhaps with more humor. Take a listen.
Richard Evans, Jerry Hart, Isaac Pincus and Noah Sheridan are The New Professionals. The band recently released their debut self-title album The New Professionals. It’s primarily a rock band but the band flirts with a lot of sub-genres like punk, alternative and more, and sometimes within a single song.
Take for instance the opener “Higher Brain.” The song starts with emotive vocals, atmospheric guitars and more. It starts to build and the band transitions in four chord style punk. The song is kinetic and catchy. I was getting major ’90s vibes with this song and many others.
“Nice Ride” comes closest in aesthetic to an artist like Mac DeMarco. The guitar is clean and the bass line is a little funky. I liked the vocals especially when there were harmonies implemented. “Dole” is a straightforward rock tune with impressive drumming while “False Step” is more in line with ’90s alternative. The band is their most emotive on “Highest Mountain” which contains more subdued vocals. I really liked the instrumental melodies on this song.
“Patience” has a more overt surf style. They have a little jam band fun with “Home with Me” which also contains some of the best vocal melodies. “Falling” is the other song that is more emotive and melancholy while “Molly’s Circus” is another straightforward but well-delivered rock song. They close strong with “After All” which felt like a song that closes a set.
In my twenty-plus years working with bands you pick up a couple of things. This debut definitely felt like a debut. The band is flirting with different styles while not completely landing on a signature sound. On that note the band never goes too far into territory that feels foreign.
I would say this is a solid debut showcasing their talent as well a potential. The songs were well delivered and written. They have a raw and organic way that I always appreciate. This is a good start and I look forward to where they go from here.
Danny Muth is back with a new album entitled Weird Flex. The artist states: “The album reflects Muth's philosophy that guitar should be adventurous, raw and improvised.” It’s an instrumental album with a number of different flavors so let's get into it.
The first track “Weird Flex '' heavily reminded me of something you might hear in a David Lynch movie. I loved the guitar groove. On that note it repeats the same melody for the five minute run time. There are some additional effects like phaser which get more intense. By the end it feels meditative.
“Rub Some Dirt On It” sounds like a slightly off kilter Americana rock band and is a highlight. The lead guitar is very loud with the rhythm section sounding very much in the background, especially the drums. That being said I thought the melodies were memorable.
“Descensus ad Inferos” contains some phaser infused guitar along with classical guitar. The song is a slow burn and similar to the previous song in that it repeats a lot of the melodies which makes it feel more ambient than anything else.
“Green After Green” is a short song and sort of a romp that sounds like it could be in a spy movie. I barely noticed the drums the first time I heard it. “League of Tractors'' has some of the best grooves and this one felt a little Frank Zappa inspired. “Fired For Cause” is another highlight and I liked the classical picked guitar.
Last up is “Paean Amid The Ruin” where again the guitar is so loud in the mix it was hard for anything else to grab my attention.
As an engineer myself the album is lo-fi anyway you slice it but still sounded good. My only critique was the lead guitars often had too many high frequencies in my opinion and there was very little low end.I personally would have made a couple different decisions in the mix but some of this does come down to artistic taste and not just a technical know how.
The songs are varied and I certainly have some favorites out of the batch. I think the repetition was by design but a couple more transitions here and there could have helped with the flow.
Overall this is a good release with some notable moments and songs. Recommended.
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From Leeds, United Kingdom comes singer/songwriter Jim Bower with his new release Life Support. Bower has been musically active in Shatner and various other bands since the ’80s (and he thinks that’s old, but it doesn’t phase me!). This is Bower’s first “proper solo album” under his own name, and he says that “It's been liberating to not be capturing a band sound; I've really spread out into some varied arrangements with way more orchestral and keyboard parts than my recent output. Lyrically it's about how we respond to the climate crisis and covid, which highlight our interdependency and our duty to save each other's lives… but there's also a few laughs.”
Any time I see “Leeds” mentioned, I automatically think of The Who, and I’m sure most Americans share this tendency. As it happens, both Bower’s voice AND his music very much recall Peter Townshend, and that’s not a bad pedigree to have! Bower says he recorded “the basics” at home but then finished up at Eiger Studios in Leeds with producer Will Jackson, who adds guitar and keyboards and also mastered the album; Anthony Sergeant plays drums. Bower’s album is available on Bandcamp and on CD, but he’s also taken time to create videos for each or these ten songs on his website.
“Manifest Destiny” begins with Quadrophenia-era synths and a smooth Townshend-like vocal with Christella Litras singing background and offering vocal reactions to Bower’s dark lyrics: “As we roll downhill / No, there's no escaping a black hole / It's out of our control.” The next song continues the feel of dread left over from the Trump years, conjured with phrases like “alternative facts” and “false flag.” Musically it’s jumpy and machine-like, as all the people within the song line up obediently.
“Shut Up About Your Girlfriend” is every bit as funny and engaging as you’d expect, which is a welcome relief after the gloom of the previous tracks. “Shut up shut up shut up about your girlfriend!” Bower sings with great humor. I would suggest you stop reading this right now and play this track; it’s so dryly humorous and musically quite pretty. “Wrong” takes an interesting detour into DEVO territory; this is another funny idea where somebody is so wrong that “to tell you so, I wrote a song.” The music is strident, robotic and goofy but really fun. “You failed authentication / Until you’re verified / That’s an invalid statement / Access denied.”
“When David Bowie Died” is a moving tribute not just to the Great White Duke but many other artists we lost too early. Bower makes the point that the whole world seemed to unravel just after Bowie passed, and it’s hard to argue. After the cynicism and the humor, this song shows Bower’s empathy and hit me right in the gut, especially with the sneaky sample of David Bowie (or a great soundalike) playing piano at the end. “All You Need Is Time” is smart pop rock with great hooks, nice guitars and a sophisticated musical structure, including some Rolling Stones “Satanic Majesties” church bells. “Can Of Worms” returns us to Bower’s rightful fear of our current state of affairs with upbeat chords threatened by creeping dissonance.
“Life Support” features guest Lauren Bower on piano, on whose playing the song’s driving tempo seems to be based. The concept of life support appears to be a metaphor pointing toward a life-saving relationship for which the plug might be pulled; ICU beeps and nurse P.A. calls are included free of charge. I know this is becoming redundant but Bower’s Townshend throat muscles are especially strong on this one. “Starting Tomorrow” ends the set with a very funny paean to promises we make about improving ourselves tomorrow, or next week, or next year. It’s joyous pop rock, short and sweet. I daresay drummer Sergeant takes this last chance to channel a bit of Keith Moon, and the bass has an Entwistle urgency.
Clearly fans of The Who will love the sound of Bower’s songs, but Bower’s not a cover artist and his songs easily stand on their own two feet with tons of delight and nary a dull moment. Highly recommended!
Last Tree On Earth is a solo project that originated in Bern, Switzerland. Over time, Last Tree On Earth found its home in such European cultural hotspots like Berlin and Paris. For the past 15 years or so, the endeavor has served as a creative outlet for the artist to express himself. For his latest release King Of The Desert, Last Tree On Earth combines his love for electronic and rock into a highly accessible and flavorful sound. Saturated with an undeniable kind of energy, these electronica/pop rock tracks will be sure to make you feel something as well as get you moving at the same time.
King Of The Desert comes right at you with “Desert King,” where the sound of synths and electronic riffs start out the sound here. Alongside this ambience is a spoken word passage. Next, some piano and percussive beats jut in. Once the vocals came in, the music really came together for a really flavorful blend. The music felt very upbeat and catchy. I got the impression while listening to this that this would be great for the dance floors. “Planet” speeds up for a racing electronic backbeat. Though the music in the backdrop is faster paced, the vocals here are sung in a very slo-mo fashion. The contrast is very nice. The sound of the piano acts as a certain backbone. This is a track with a lot of layers. The guitar solos faintly sound out in the background, underlining the track with its consistent riffs. Moody bass lines churn up the sounds on “Desert Sand.” More glitch-y electronic sounds also join in. Next, more of the artist's melancholy vocals erupt. The sounds are more somber, coming across as very meandering. A definite slow burn, the music just builds and builds, growing in structure and tone.
“Teddy Bear” starts off with a very acoustic vibe. Gradually, some wonky synths accompany the music. As some bouncy beats also come in. Once the vocals arrive, you can feel the despairing feel to the music come to life. Feeling very sad and melancholy, you can’t get away from the strength of the music which is in the vocals which really tie the music together. Some melody keys, synths and beats enter this song toward the start on “Lovely Birds.” This seemed to be an EDM infused track that incorporates some very ‘80s-sounding synths. The juxtaposition of emo-inspired vocals and jaunty music makes for a very startling sound. Next, the music then swells up for a melodic crescendo. Shooting electric riffs flares out in the start of “Cataclysm” making this feel very trap and trance-like. The sound just continues to grow in momentum, flexing its iridescent sound. This was a pure instrumental interlude, though distorted background vocals could be heard faintly in the backdrop.
On “Mirages,” a moody piano piece settles in the start of this track. Mainly a piano ballad, as the vocals come in, the music begins to expand outward, making for a sweeping feel. The song becomes more sprawling in tone as the sound of synths spread across for a very ambient sound. Next, a full band backing rocks this track, making for a fully embellished attempt at a glossy pop rock production. The sound of trumpets and more makes for an impactful sound. On “Wasteland,” some edgy synths send out a very gritty vibe. As some keys flow through this section, the industrial-like music feels very dark and pulling. The artist’s vocals are very ominous, feeding into the aggressive and hard rock sound. On the chorus, the tune changes up for something more melodious. More of a sauntering groove sounds out on “Cactus.” There is also a meandering feel to the music that makes it feel like a slow burn. The slowly evolving vocals feel nearly spoken word. With the artist half-speaking and half-singing the vocals, the album closes with this atmospheric finish, perfect for putting listeners in a relaxing mood.
This nine-track collection was a long time coming. For over three years, the artist let this group of songs grow, changing form and direction before finally being finalized in this album. A bedroom recording, the artist uses a good amount of organic instrumentation as well as digital programs to get this recording off the ground. The album is a blend of both worlds, as you can see a good deal of guitars and other instruments mixed into the electronic vibes. There are a lot of layers to the sounds here on the record. As you dive further into the sounds, it looks like the artist is only getting started and I look forward to seeing where he goes from here.
Olympic Bingo is the band name of multi-instrumentalist William Bahnisch, whose 2019 album Aloof has just been re-released by Paper Rock Scissors of Adelaide, Australia. Aside from the Bandcamp download, his label is offering a beautiful CD Digipack featuring surrealist artwork by Kaspar Schmidt Mumm.
Bahnisch was raised on music by Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Wu Tang Clan and Warren G, along with close proximity to his father’s guitar collection. Starting at age 11, Bahnisch developed an appreciation for electronic music, jazz and world music. During his university years he played guitar, bass and piano, then performed in various bands including Thom Lion, The East District, EVOLETAH and most recently Los Palms. Bahnisch tapped many of his musical compadres as backup for the Aloof sessions, which began in 2016. Recording took place at Chapel Lane Studios and Twin Studios, and was mastered at Hillside Studios by Matt Hills.
“Opaque” is a short and fittingly surreal opener with swirling ocean waves surrounding a simple synth melody that gently repeats. “Things To Do Today” begins in a similar fashion with retro-sounding keyboards heralding an easy, smooth jazz instrumental. Bahnisch adds his instruments slowly, building up an intriguing layer cake of textures. The bass playing is melodic, not just hitting the root chords but providing its own interesting counterpoint. The energy level of the tune accelerates toward the end with even more spacey synths. Whoever plays the Rhodes piano does an excellent job.
“Clouds” was co-written with Clara Walsh who is featured on vocals. This song feels highly modern and commercial, reflecting some of the textures of Sarah McLachlan or even my pals New American Hustle. There’s a great string section that’s possibly digital, but it works for me!
“Lemonade Serenade” has a tropical vibe with the sounds of what might be a cave with lightly splashing pools of water… or are those insects? The indeterminate nature of the sounds adds to the charm. A bank of saxophones, horns and vibes then state the main melody, again in a smooth jazz mode, leading into a short and mellow sax solo. “Seconds” starts with spoken dialogue from a movie or TV show that I can’t identify, then uses pieces of that dialogue as samples for an upbeat synth rock excursion with a disco beat. Harder driving than the other tunes but interesting and compelling.
“La Piage” features words in French by Albert Camus from his novel “The Stranger.” Bahnisch builds a quite engaging musical background for the Camus spoken word with tidy basslines, sharp piano, and more retro-spacy synths, as if UFOs are landing throughout the tune. “Tropacalismo” sounds like it was built up from location recordings somewhere in the tropics with appropriate island-sounding guitars, percussion and background insects.
“Should’ve Known Her” ends the set with the surprising addition of loud electric guitar and driving bass with distant, echo’d vocals by Bahnisch. It’s somewhat different from the other songs (though still thick with synth textures) and makes me wonder what more hard rocking from Bahnisch might sound like in the future. When it’s over, it stops cold just like Lennon’s “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”
Though Bahnisch’s label identifies this music as “alternative / experimental” I believe jazz lovers will take to this right away, followed by anyone open for upbeat, mellow music with interesting backgrounds.
Andhi O’Neill is an artist from Peekskill, NY. He played in the folk rock band Origami Sun from 2012 to 2018. The artist got started working on solo material and it ended up being on an album called MEMORABILIA. It contains eight songs and is around thirty-minutes long.
MEMORABILIA is a folk rock album with some influence from hip hop and electronic music. The music to me was experimental folk with very little emphasis on rock, hip-hop or electronic music. I thought the music was somewhere in the same vicinity as Andrew Bird but overall more somber in mood.
The album gets going with “Under the Sun.” It’s a simple song on paper which relies on slow guitar picking and O’Neill’s natural sounding vocals. The use of space works well and overall it feels like an intro. “Too Soon” is a synth heavy song with electronic drums but the vocals have a similar emotive quality. The band The Antlers came to mind. It's a pretty funky groove and has the most energy but also subdued. There’s also a meditative section around the four-minute mark. The vocals are heavily manipulated with auto-tune like effects.
“Song for Akira Yoshizawa” is spacious and sort of calming with a heavy sense of pensive melancholy. There’s very little change in the dynamics except the additional vocal harmonies towards the end.
‘“Forecast” felt like an interlude. There’s a couple people having a philosophical conversation while rain and synths blend in the background. “Rainy Day” is the arguable highlight. It contained some of the best vocal melodies and there was a good amount of variation. The music is very much a slow burn with the dynamics coming mostly from the vocals again.
“Broken String” has a very similar emotive and musical quality to the first song “Under the Sun.”At this point I was picking up on similar patterns. The songs stay in a similar dynamic range and usually end with flush vocals.
“Drive” is another slow burn of a song with emotive vocals while “Too Late” goes back to the space of guitar of “Under the Sun” and “Broken String.” Last up is “Thirty” and it revolves around sad atmospheric pads and mechanical sounding metronome tight drums. There is again some very well-delivered vocals.
This album felt like the definition of a slow burn which I do generally love. That being said my critique is I wanted more dynamics and energy at points. I think a rhythm section of human players may have helped with this aspect especially on songs like “Song for Akira Yoshizawa.” Perhaps session players next time around? The vocal delivery and lyrics felt like the strength of the album to me. I liked it when his delivery leaned towards a light sadness although he pulls off a more dramatic lamenting tone as well.
I thought this was a good album that felt cohesive where there was enough uniformity that I recognized a signature sound. There’s a good amount of talent here and I look forward to where he goes from here.
Singer/songwriter KayHowl who is based in Ontario, Canada is no stranger to the scene. She has been playing originals and covers throughout North America not only as a solo artist, but as a dueling pianist and as a sought-after session player in a number of musical projects including the S’Aints and her former duo the Oh Chays. Howl brings her experiences from playing for other bands and takes it up another notch with her latest album Pink Trees. Here you can see Howl letting loose her evocative vocal performances to the march of minimalistic keys and finger-snapping percussions. Her singing is very soulful with touches of blues, singer/songwriter and soul in the mix. Her at once uplifting and fiery vocals are packed with the type of worship that is almost like a religious experience. You can’t help but be hooked upon the very first listen, as this album is a testament to the artist’s impassioned stance and delivery right from the get-go.
Pink Trees starts off with “Whatever,” where some groovy keys set the stage for this opening track. There is a dash of funk to the musicianship, as the melody slowly evolves into a bluesy finish. Once Howl’s vocals come in, you can really feel this blues sound take traction. Her vocals are filled with a warm timbre, packed with range and tons of soul. The song had a very minimalistic approach which though simply rendered gave more width for emotional resonance in the long run. The title track “Pink Trees” starts off with some synths. The atmosphere of this track opens itself with the sound of bouncy beats. Howl’s vocals come in with a lot of mood and feeling. This song felt very single-worthy with its catchy finger-snapping beats and melodious riffs. It had a very club feel to it that probably will make it a hit on the dance floors. More groovy keys settle in here in the start of “Living Room Stars.” Off to a sauntering start, the sound of percussive finger-snapping fills the air here. As Howl’s vocals arrive, you can feel the blend of soul and blues really coalesce for an effective sound.
Some more bluesy keys sound out toward the start of “High On A Woman.” Once Howl’s vocals enter, there was a soaring effect to the vibes that recalls a very ballad-esque feel. Next, some beats join in with the music as the sound really starts to take flight. More keys simply start off “Keeper” alongside finger-snapping percussion. Howl’s soulful vocals send its smooth and soothing details over the soft grooves of this track. You can’t help but be carried away by the ebb and flow of the music. Up next is “Natural Disaster,” where the groove changes up for a faster-paced tune. Though still retaining the nit and grit blues, there was more ‘umph’ and feeling to this song overall. The attitude and sass being evoked from the vocals really added something extra.
With an up-close-and-personal vibe, Howl’s stark vocals alone with the sound of bass makes for a sparse yet inviting sound on “Love Songs.” Once the keys come in, more of the smoky blues gets actualized here. This was really something you could sink your teeth into, as there’s no holding back here as Howl coos and croons with feeling. Starting off with a more melancholy start is “It Must Have Been Love.” This track seems to come from a very personal place from the singer as her vocals capture the feelings and emotions behind the lyrics. Howl continues to establish her minimalistic keys and vocals approach on the blues-induced “I Wrote You A Song.” Through its simplicity, listeners will truly feel the emotional impact coming from the track. This is a great way to close the album.
According to Howl, the album captures a relationship from the very start to finish. “It starts curious and flirty and builds to passion and romance and inevitably tumbles into hurt and confusion then ends with heartbreak.” You can see the evolution of a relationship from the slow burning bluesy groove of the opening track to the sassy “Natural Disasters” and to breaking down the blues on “Love Songs,” Howl’s hand in the ebb and flow of the music is evident. At the core of the vibes are Howl’s vocals. She flexes her vocal cords to add color and range to these tracks. Like watching a moth to a flame, there’s just something so hypnotic in the way she obviously throws herself fully into the sounds. This proved to be a great start and I look forward to seeing more music like this soon.
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