Some Minor Noise: Anachronisms

Some Minor Noise: Anachronisms – An anachronism is “an act of attributing a custom, event, or object to a period to which it does not belong.” Usually this means that something is old fashioned or out of date. In the case of the new album from Some Minor Noise, I believe it can only mean that this is a glimpse into the future. Anachronsims is an angry, emotionally baring look into the mind of its creator and it features sounds and styles that feel new and yet completely ready to be enjoyed.

The opening track, ‘Falling Off’, is disturbing. It feels like your inner voice telling you things you don’t want to hear, like anti-motivational speaking, “when you can’t hold back because all you see is past”. In the second half of the song the tempo really picks up and you might find yourself actually moving to the disturbing thoughts you don’t want. ” “You’re out of your mind” “It’s all in your head”, but that is somewhat the crux of the entire album. There is not one song on the album that won’t leave you at least bobbing your head, but there also isn’t a song on the album that taps into the darker side of psyche.

‘Deadhead’ is an onslaught. The music is as overwhelming as the engrossing as the “passive aggressive affection” caused by the “passion, aggression, attention” manifested by “making you angry then making you want me”. The emotions are high, the tempo is fast, and there’s barely time for the reflection featured in the previous track. The harsh sentiment of “two hearts beat until one breaks” is just awesome and the music is simply spellbinding.

The dance music emphasis goes up a notch for the tracks ‘Organ Pains’ and ‘Tape Experiments’. Both of the tracks are overall much lighter song that the two that preceded them. There is a distinct emphasis on the dance tempo. ‘Tape Experiments’ examines the feeling of being in the middle of a party that’s not quite working out, “the night is young, but it’s getting old…everybody wants to go, nobody wants to go home”

My favorite track on the album is definitely ‘Hitching’. It’s awesome right from the beginning with the sped up sample. It follows ‘Tape Experiments’ perfectly where “everybody wants to go”, how are they going to get there? ‘Hitching’. The constant play with speed seems to have some correlation with the title. “Lost a friend in the translation”.

‘Melting’ is uptempo and another very dance-y song that examines the details of being the other woman. In it the song history and the chorus repeats itself with the only the subject changing. In the beginning she’s in the room while he’s telling “her” that “he’ll be home soon” and that he’s “having a good time”. In the second verse the singer is hearing the same lines. She’s upset and doesn’t want to face the truth, “I didn’t want to face facts, I should’ve seen it coming” He turns it back on her, but her final response is, “If we’re cut from the same cloth, then I’d rather go naked.” ‘Carbon Monoxide’ continues a theme of regret. It slows it down considerably and is all about a “head on collision” that apparently could’ve been avoided. “Going strong among misconceptions” the problems repeat, “same shit, new day”. In the end, “you can’t get away without getting burnt, you’d think you’d learn”.

‘Instead of Showing Up’ features a beat unlike almost anything I’ve ever heard. It’s explosive, jarring, and great. Much like ‘Hitching’, samples and the speed of the samples is used in really interesting ways. The whole song sounds completely creative and fantastic and features an alternative to the actions and pain created in the two songs that preceded it, “giving up on the ground”. It’s not quite, hang in there baby, but it is a solution and anything that sounds this good is worth some consideration.

‘It Never Ends’ continues the audio onslaught theme. The keyboard volume is turned all the way up and fills your ears with increasing passion until the beat drops with an explosion of bass. You’re completely engrossed and if you love it as much as I do, you’re in luck because, “it never ends”.

The final track is something of a mystery for me. It’s a fast laundry list of disturbing stream of conscious issues, “suicidal tendencies”, “mistake apathy for empathy”, “plastic hospital wristband”, “miss, take these pills to help you sleep”, and to “weak to sleep and to asleep to feel” and at the end we hear the line “this is Madison at its best, I’m not quite alive, but I’m not dead yet” repeated. As someone who lived in Madison for a couple years I was left perplexed. I’m sure there’s some explanation, but I’m not sure what it is. Did this Toronto band have a spell in Madison? Who knows, all I know is that, when you’re done listening to this album, you feel like you’ve heard something new, passionate, and great…9.5/10

OK Go: Upside Out

ok go - upside out art

OK Go: Upside Out- Though the band Ok Go is often remembered for their elaborate and creative music videos, the masses seem to glaze over the talent that lies beneath the attention-grabbing videos. Hopefully that won’t be the case for Upside Out, a 4-song EP that is fun, lyrical, and genuine from beginning to end. The first song ‘Turn Up The Radio’ begins the party that is Upside Out. The song is edgy but still with that happy, pop vibe OK Go fans know and love.

The second song on the EP, ‘The Writing’s on The Wall’, is the lucky one chosen for the honor of an OK Go original music video. While it’s certainly not dancing on treadmills, it’s still pretty great. The band members trip you out while blending in with the walls and messing up your perception with camera angles and mirrors- and a not so secret message that says “I Think I understand you but I don’t.” The song itself is simple and sweet. The chorus sings, “I just wanna get you high tonight/ I just wanna see some pleasure in your eyes.” The lyrics fit the beat since both are calming and pleasant but with an underlying desire that sets it apart from other songs like it.

‘I Won’t Let You Down’ somehow reminds me of The Jackson 5 without being cheesy or outdated. Maybe it’s the keys, the high-pitched vocals, clap tracks or a mixture of all three but the band pulls it off well. It’s hard not to move while listening to it and for the cherry on top the lyrics are sweet and caring. And if that’s the cherry than that must make the 80’s dance breakdown at the end the whipped cream (which on a side note really should be the name of a cheesy dance move).

The EP finishes with ‘That One Moment’. It’s an inspirational and empowering song about the weight that can be put on a singular moment. The song lifts you up with it. The chorus bursts energy singing, “This will be the one thing we remember/ This will be the reason to battle/ this will be the one moment that will matter at all” It’s like he’s fighting for a love he already has but knows she’s so special he better not let anyone else ever have her.

Upside Out is a great album that showcases once again OK Go’s talents in pop music. They are a band like no other who display their creativity in more ways than one. Not to mention the album name solves a problem my childhood mind always wondered, “What is the opposite of inside out?”…8/10

‘The One Moment’

The Notwist: Run Run Run

 

The Notwist: Run Run RunThe Notwist are having a good year, musically speaking. On the heels of Close to the Glass comes their 12”, released on Record Store Day this year and offering more of their deftly crafted indie pop plus two remixes of two excellent tracks from their most recent LP.

The 12” starts off with the single ‘Run Run Run’, also on Close to the Glass. This track is remarkable both for the tone The Notwist cultivate – sinister and sad, yet never listless – but also for how they cultivate it. The music box-esque intro, seamlessly woven into straightforward vocals and percussion and swept into a gradual crescendoing build, starts everything off with a sort of energetic melancholy. The bursts of static, the brief but interesting synth strings riffs, that weird, offbeat pseudo-horn bit in the middle of the track – they all work to create the vaguely broken-down feel of ‘Run Run Run’.

I said this in a review of Close to the Glass earlier this year, and I’m repeating myself because it holds true for this 12” – what you put into listening to The Notwist, you get back tenfold. It’s worth your time to sit down and listen to a track a few times to really figure it out. ‘Run Run Run’ isn’t lushly orchestrated or even particularly complexly arranged, but it doesn’t sound anemic. There’s a lot to unpack in this track, and some of its best moments are delivered without pretense or fanfare, so they can be easy to miss if you’re not paying attention.

‘Run Run Run (Ada Remix)’ ditches the music box vibe in favor of straightforward piano, which pairs neatly with a heavier emphasis on percussion and dystopian snatches of vocals that preface the first sort-of chorus: “Silence is on/Since you’ve been gone”. The smartest part of this remix is the carefully engineered contrast between relatively-unaltered vocals (e.g. the chorus), which sound near and intimate, and the much more effects-heavy vocals that are pulled in primarily to complement the percussion on this remix. The remix teases out some of the darker elements of ‘Run Run Run’ to create something dreamy and dystopian.

‘Magnificent Fall’ is new to this 12”. It’s sparser than ‘Run Run Run’, relying primarily on percussion, uncomplicated synth lines and a touch of silence here and there. Rather than coming to a long stop at any one point, though, everything in ‘Magnificent Fall’ is spaced out in sometimes unexpected ways. It’s the aural equivalent of that feeling you get when you’re falling asleep and are abruptly jolted awake, just on a much smaller scale, and The Notwist employ this use of silence and spacing to create the tension that pulls this song off.

The sprawling, nearly nine-minute ‘Into Another Tune (Nuel Remix)’ is the odd man out on this 12” when it comes to composition, but it actually fits into the tracklist nicely. If you’ve heard the original, this remix might surprise you, because the two songs don’t sound exceptionally connected. A little after five minutes is when the first snatch of the running synth line comprising the backbone of the original comes in, and that element is really the focus of the Nuel remix. It’s a neat premise but disappointing, partly because that one element is so repetitive but also because there’s so much more to pull from in ‘Into Another Tune’. And honestly, 8:45 is a little long for what this track is.

If we conveniently ignore that ‘Run Run Run’ is on both this 12” and Close to the Glass, then the LP is definitively the better release. That said, ‘Run Run Run’ is a great single, and ‘Magnificent Fall’ makes a strong impression for how comparatively minimal it is. The remixes are both interesting, one for capitalizing on a track’s moodiness and the other for highlighting a prominent if repetitive component. This 12” isn’t anything particularly new or different, just another strong release from a band with a unique and compelling sound…7.0/10

 

‘Run Run Run’

TV Girl: French Exit

TV Girl: French Exit -Have you ever experienced the appeal that one might have had while watching static on a television? You are irritated that the TV isn’t working, yet you find the static to be kind of intriguing as it slowly draws you in, leaving you in a daze. This feeling could also be used to describe the album French Exit by TV Girl. The Los Angeles-based band includes current members Brad Petering, Jason Wyman and Wyatt Harmon. TV Girl was formed in 2010 by Petering and former band member Trung Ngo, who left the band in 2013. Despite Ngo’s amicable departure, TV Girl is still able to create beauty with their 12-track album French Exit.

The song ‘Pantyhose’ kicks off the album in an interesting way. The track has a nice melody along with some “ lalala’s” and a tambourine makes for a weird swirl of amazingness. This however seems to contrast the vocals, which contain a pinch of melancholy. The vocals combined with the melody makes for dazed kind of happy.

On the song, ‘Birds Don’t Sing’, the melody seems kind of muffled at first, but is soon joined with fun beats and sounds throughout the song.  Listening to this song reminds me of that feeling of delirium that sets in after you’ve pulled an all-nighter studying for an exam.  The caffeine you’ve drank hasn’t completely worn off and your mind is still going, while the rest of your body is trying to catch up.

Not all of the songs on the album have that kind of effect. The song, ‘Louise’, is a nice song about a not-so nice person which features lyrics such as, “Louise, you can’t be anybody’s friend”. The track has a dreamy ‘60s pop vibe that is delightful and somewhat sunnier than the other tracks on the album.

Another song on the album that I found interesting was, ‘Talk to Strangers’, a word-to-the-wise kind of song that features the type of lessons that you would learn by watching an After School Special. For example, the song contains lyrics such as, “Don’t take candy/Don’t get in someone’s car/Don’t let anybody touch you, no matter who they are”. The eerie whistling heard throughout the song makes it quite foreboding. If anything, this song is a reminder that is important to be cautious around people you don’t really know.

On a lighter note, the song, ‘The Blonde’, is a psychedelic song that gives the idea that being blonde is both a blessing and a curse. It alludes to the idea that by having blonde hair, you get a lot of attention, but sometimes it can be unwanted attention. Listening to this song makes me want to talk to people with blonde hair and ask for their opinion on that the matter.

Another song, ‘Daughter of a Cop’, is a cautionary tale of being with a cop’s daughter, claiming that she knows how to have fun because she knows “where the cops won’t go”, but at the same time you might want to steer clear of her  because “if you were to get caught/she’ll  get a slap on the wrist and leave you in a cell to rot”. The last track ‘Anjela’ is a nice song that sounds more acoustic than the other songs on the album.

After listening to the album, I believe that it doesn’t really fit into a certain mold, which makes me appreciate it even more. There were times on the album when I was reminded of 60′s French pop music. At the same time, I was also reminded me of present- day artists such as California Wives and Mac DeMarco. The music has a way of being laidback, yet a bit frenzied at the same time.

There are also plenty of fun sound bites(most likely taken  from old films). The sound bites don’t seem to be completely random. In fact, they actually help weave the song s together. Each song tells a story and the sound bites contribute to the song by adding emphasis to the story.

Overall, I enjoyed listening to this album. To be honest, you have to be in a certain type of mood to be able to enjoy this kind of music. Your mind should be free to wander without fear. You might want to play this album when you’re alone in your room, trying to mellow out or collect your thoughts in a journal entry. It might even help spark your creativity… 8.0/10.

‘Talk to Strangers’

 

Perturbator: Dangerous Days

Perturbator: Dangerous Days- I had a thought unrelated to this review that I think applies. The majority of ‘artists’ are really just filler. They’re marginally good enough in talent or technical ability to be on the radio or known in their sphere of influence but don’t really contribute anything truly creative nor do they innovate. You only hear new stuff from them when a new sample pack comes out or the software they use gets an upgrade. They just exist to take some pressure off of the true creators; elevator tunes in between floors. Then there are guys like Perturbator.

Admittedly I’ve been a fan of Perturbator since the first day synthwave entered my life so I was very excited to be able to review his work and yes, I had high expectations. Dangerous Days is an absolute clinic of how synthwave should be done and how to do it well. It’s an intense sci-fi outrun full of ear pleasing melodies, satisfying progressions, and coy nods to some of our favorite bits of retro futurism.

‘Welcome Back’ and ‘Perturbator’s Theme’ are both intro and opening tracks that sort of blend into one aggressive outrun track. Nothing mindblowing just yet, but this is just Perturbator cracking his knuckles and taking a few breaths. ‘Raw Power’ is a glitchy, 8-bit descent into violence and madness that reminds us that video arcades used to be dangerous dens of gambling, drugs and murder, if Robocop 2, Deathwish or The Lost Boys are to be believed. ‘Future Club’ achieves a sound Daft Punk could come up with if they took off the helmets and put on death masks. It’s dark, it’s catchy, and it layers synths that dance very suggestively with each other.

‘War Against Machines’ is a nod to probably the greatest action movie theme ever, but ‘Hard Wired’ is where Dangerous Days reaches its most gorgeous peak. This is a slow, deep synth cruise that features haunting vocals. Yet there are fantastic and whimsical qualities to the track. It’s a darkly sweet love theme, a cascade of stars falling along a nuclear skyline. While that may be my favorite, and perhaps best, track on the album, ‘She is Young, She is Beautiful, She is Next’ and ‘Humans Are Such Easy Prey’ feature all the things I love about Perturbator. There are aggressive drum arrangements, interesting progressions, glitched moments, tempo shifts and quick melodies but also a lot of little things too. Whether Perturbator drops a pad or instrument for a brief moment of peace for a measure, throws in a different snare, or compliments his synth work with a guitar riff or vice versa, there’s an attention to detail here that I’m so impressed with. Perturbator approaches his work like an absinthe maddened composer, seeing and hearing and feeling a galaxy of things all at once and frantically working to capture his vision before it fades. That’s exactly how I would describe Dangerous Days.

The album ends with its title track, which is a twelve minute synth symphony that recalls the days when EDM tracks were considered short if they were less than six minutes. This is an exploration of many themes and it could easily be broken up into several stand alone tracks, but I choose to think of it as the score to a short sci-fi film. Perturbator does have the chops to score a film, or anything for that matter, so I plan on looking for his name in the credits when they decide to make a movie based on Contra or a sequel to Far Cry: Blood Dragon. Dangerous Days is many things: a dark vision of the future, a drive into the very heart of malice, a madman’s scratchings into the wall of synth. But it is also a love letter and a true compositional masterpiece. Now I imagine Perturbator will rest and recharge, and search for new inspiration in a closet of old skeletons, perhaps. Until next he decides to call out to the creatures of the night and lay fingers on keys again, I suppose I’ll have to occupy my time with the ever present filler…10/10

‘She is Young, She is Beautiful, She is Next’

 

 

 

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