Album Review: Casual Confrontation – “Marriage Culture”

“Matrimony: the high sea for which no compass has yet been invented.” – Heinrich Heine.

The hallowed grounds of matrimony have been the subject of countless songs, novels, and tales—yet few artists have dared to deconstruct its very fabric in the way Casual Confrontation has with “Marriage Culture.” This intricate album is both a celebration and critique, a multi-faceted exploration of an institution so universally revered.

Frankie Diez, the creative force behind Casual Confrontation, brings a tapestry of experiences to the table. Born in Romania, shaped by the rhythm of Puerto Rico and Miami, and later refined in Nashville’s crucible of songwriting, his perspective is one of nuanced worldliness. It’s evident that his classical piano training and deep-rooted passion for lyrical expression have converged to birth this magnum opus.

One cannot begin the conversation without mentioning “SEWN ON SKIN (INTERLUDE)”. Here, we’re introduced to the intensity of commitment—both its beauty and its potential to ensnare. The act of sewing a wedding dress onto one’s skin conjures images of beauty marred by pain, suggesting that the permanence of such an act is both a blessing and a curse.

“LEKEITIO” is not just a song—it’s an emotional voyage. We tread the corridors of a mind seeking escape, battling internal indecisions, and yearning for a fresh start. With lines like “Separate myself from who I was”, we witness the fragility and transient nature of identity in the face of deep-rooted relationships.

“KIDS WITH KIDS” stands out as a sharp critique of indoctrinated beliefs passed down through generations. Frankie doesn’t hold back as he delves into the rigid molds society often imposes upon us. The audacious lyrics underscore the dangers of dogmatic parenting, hinting at the potential for stifling individuality and genuine expression.

Treading darker waters, “NOW KINDLY UNDO THESE STRAPS” exposes the disturbing side of dependency. Relationships borne out of mutual fear rather than love paint a haunting picture of desperation and confinement. The repeated pleas to “Kindly undo these straps” are heart-wrenching, evoking the binds of a toxic relationship that is suffocating yet strangely comforting.

In the eponymous track, “MARRIAGE CULTURE,” Frankie critiques society’s sometimes unhealthy fixation on matrimony. There’s a palpable frustration, a tiredness with the weight of expectations and the performative nature of modern relationships.

The “WEDDING EVITE SONG” perhaps encapsulates the overarching theme of the album most poignantly. It’s a gut-wrenching portrayal of the duality many face—adhering to societal norms while suppressing personal truths. The facade of happiness contrasts sharply with underlying pain, reminding listeners of the often-hidden turmoil beneath the surface.“MARRIAGE CULTURE” is not just another album—it’s an introspective journey, a challenge, a socio-cultural critique. Each track meticulously examines the institution of marriage, unearthing both its treasures and its traumas. But more importantly, it underscores a message that reverberates throughout: the quest for external love is unending, but it’s the love we nurture within that truly defines us.

Diez’s “MARRIAGE CULTURE” is a testament to his versatility as a songwriter, his depth as a thinker, and his courage as an artist willing to question and challenge deep-seated norms. In a musical landscape filled with fleeting trends, Casual Confrontation offers a profound, timeless meditation on love, commitment, and self-worth.

One thing is clear: “MARRIAGE CULTURE” is not just for the wedded or the heartbroken—it’s for anyone brave enough to confront the complexities of human connection. Dive in, and let Frankie Diez guide you through the tumultuous seas of matrimony.

Album Review: DOWNGIRL – Manic EP

In the turbulent ether of contemporary punk emerges the fierce femme-punk quartet, DOWNGIRL, with their vehemently awaited debut EP, ‘Manic’. This auditory manifesto, available on vinyl from September 22, is a raw, unbridled foray into societal diatribes and internal chaos, the band’s audacious ethos unraveling through eight relentless tracks.

‘Manic’ is a sonic kaleidoscope, pulsating with elements reminiscent of the ‘90s riot grrrls and contemporary nu-punk. It is a tempest of raw emotion, the band’s unrelenting dedication crafting an expanse where audacious rock commingles with provoking narratives. From the onset, the EP thrusts listeners into the tumultuous cosmos of ‘Fiend’, a grunge-infused concoction reflecting the intoxicatingly destructive allure of problematic love, setting the stage for a journey through profound emotional and societal landscapes.

Each track is a piece of the chaotic puzzle, embodying the manifold faces of DOWNGIRL’s intricate sonic identity. The title track, ‘Manic’, resonates as an emotional crescendo, a concoction of potent riffs and thunderous drumming echoing the escalating emotive tensions inherent in the lyrics. The frenzied euphoria of the noise-filled chorus leaves a lingering sensation, reminiscent of a sweet yet biting spiciness, a reflection of each band member’s soulful contributions.

The narrative continues to unravel through ‘Body’, a haunting portrayal of alcohol abuse and its resultant torment, seamlessly transitioning to ‘Beauty Queen’, characterized by a frenetic wall of noise. ‘Democracy Manifest’ serves as the instrumental interlude, capturing the juxtaposition of overwhelming unease and confident façade, preparing the auditory terrain for the politically charged dimensions of ‘2006’.

DOWNGIRL’s uncompromising exploration of societal norms and controversial realities reaches a poignant climax in ‘Boys’, the lead single interweaving ominous basslines, rolling drums, and overdriven guitar stabs, with Alexandra Neville’s powerful vocals and biting lyrics elucidating the contentious societal paradigms. ‘Malibu Stacy’, the concluding track, embodies the quintessence of thrash punk, marking the culmination of a journey through unrelenting punk fury.

Each of the eight tracks is a fragment of DOWNGIRL’s ruthless punk manifesto, a relentless pursuit of societal confrontation and self-reflection. ‘Manic’ epitomizes the essence of a band forging their path through the turbulent terrain of contemporary punk, maintaining an unyielding spirit and fierce individuality.

Lou Harbidge’s words elucidate the EP’s foundational essence as a diary encapsulating the band’s evolution from physical separation to omnipresent unity. ‘Manic’ encapsulates the turbulent infancy of DOWNGIRL, an unapologetic blend of sound that resonates as a metaphorical sonic riot, an unrestrained release of inner demons. The band’s transformation, delineated through their journey from the isolation of bedroom beginnings to pervasive proximity, echoes in every note, intertwining the individual and collective in a symbiotic dance.

The meticulous interweaving of the profound and the personal characterizes the ‘Manic’ EP. Each track, from ‘Fiend’s exploration of turbulent relationships to ‘2006’s raw political narratives, serves as a vivid tableau reflecting the intricate tapestry of human existence. ‘Manic’ is not merely a musical entity but a living, breathing philosophical exploration, a reflection of the inner and outer chaos inherent in human experience.

DOWNGIRL’s potency lies in their ability to embed profound social commentary within their music, their relentless dedication crafting narratives that reflect both the individual and collective psyche. The unrelenting punk ethos and dominant sound that characterize DOWNGIRL resonate in each track, crafting a multi-dimensional musical realm where the personal and societal intermingle, reflecting the diverse facets of human experience.

The EP’s visceral impact is heightened by its meticulous construction, the seamless fusion of raw emotions, and uncompromising confidence constructing a sonic entity that is both reflective and transcendental. Each track serves as a mirror reflecting the multifaceted dimensions of human experience, from the emotional turbulence of ‘Fiend’ to the societal reflections of ‘2006’ and ‘Boys’, ‘Manic’ stands as a testament to DOWNGIRL’s relentless pursuit of musical and philosophical exploration.

In conclusion, DOWNGIRL’s ‘Manic’ EP stands as a monumental contribution to the contemporary punk landscape, a relentless exploration of societal issues and personal struggles, all encapsulated within a fiercely individualistic musical realm. It invites listeners to a journey through the chaotic and the profound, the known and the unknown, offering a fleeting glimpse into the boundless dimensions of human existence. The release of ‘Manic’ marks a pivotal moment in the musical cosmos, etching DOWNGIRL’s fierce punk ethos and relentless spirit in the eternal symphony of the universe.

Album Review: chris portka – trash music (vinyl release)

In a world often draped in predictable musical nuances, Chris Portka’s trash music emerges as a haunting mirage, a celestial dance between the ephemeral and the eternal, the whimsical and the soberingly raw. The Bay Area artist, known for his unparalleled genre of “trash music,” places his heart, encased in notes of ethereal glitch rock and visceral folk, into every track, offering a multi-dimensional musical experience that defies both tradition and expectation. You can pre-order the vinyl and hear the album on his bandcamp here.

Unleashing the Silenced Symphony

Chris, initially a drummer submerged in the profound energies of 90s grunge, confronted a silencing force—a crippling anxiety that suppressed the music within his soul. It was not until he embarked on a transformative odyssey through Voice Movement Therapy at 31 that he embraced the profound sonority of his voice. Portka’s journeys through the musical realms are accompanied by avant-garde explorations and philosophical reflections, unearthing subconscious terrains in his relentless pursuit of self-acceptance. This collection of experiences reverberates in the unique sonic tapestries of trash music.

A Palette of Sonic Resonance

Critics have rightly identified trash music as a grand symphony, a dreamlike album with a “palette cleanser” effect against the mainstream radio currents, reflecting Indie Boulevard’s acknowledgment of its “peculiar” brilliance and Alt77’s assertion of its refreshing uniqueness. Chris, also renowned as djpants.eth in the NFT music realm, intertwines his intimate internal battles with the psychedelic highs and philosophical inquiries of the evolving digital landscape, resulting in a lyrical and musical mosaic that is simultaneously reflective and transcendental.

A Journey through the Abstract

The twelve tracks of trash music are an odyssey into the abstract, each song a revelation, a peek into the labyrinth of the human psyche. “To burn him up, is it too much to bear?” begins the album, a paradoxical symphony enveloping the listener in a cocoon of multifaceted revelations, setting the stage for a journey through uncharted terrains. The fleeting beauty of “wildlife” juxtaposed with the metaphorical depths of “the sky is blue in hell,” accentuates the versatility of Portka’s compositions, the album navigating through ethereal dimensions and grounding realities with seamless finesse.

Capturing the Ethereal

In “dream factory,” the six-minute musical reverie, Chris melds haunting melodies with evocative lyrical imageries, the synergistic dance between words and notes creating an ethereal soundscape. Each note is a brushstroke on the canvas of trash music, painting layers of vivid brilliance interlaced with the shadows of haunting darkness. “Your music is trash” serves as an ironic testament to the relentless pursuit of musical expression, reverberating with the complex interplays of self-reflection, acceptance, and critique.

A Living Canvas of Musical Confluence

The concluding tracks, “disco trash metal reversal,” “hold my hand,” and “let’s go play today,” manifest as living canvases reflecting the myriad hues of Chris’ musical and philosophical explorations. These compositions are raw and unfiltered glimpses into the confluence of existential musings and sonic revelations, the abstract interweaving with the palpable, etching imprints of the metaphysical dance on the conscious realm. The seamless fusion of disparate musical elements constructs a living, breathing entity, embodying the paradoxical unity within diversity, a musical entity that is trash music.

A Limited Treasure

The limited availability of the vinyl, with its sanctity preserved by the scarce 250 copies, serves as a tangible embodiment of the ephemeral brilliance of Chris’ creations. The album, infused with layers of sonic and philosophical complexities, finds its earthly home within the confines of these signed vinyls, beckoning music connoisseurs to a transient experience of auditory enlightenment.

Philosophical Reflections and Beyond

Portka’s numerous full albums across the years have been bridges to uncharted musical realms, gateways to existential reflections, and sanctuaries for souls seeking solace in the unknown. Trash music, as a crystallization of his lifelong passion and philosophical quests, resonates as a symphonic manifestation of both his internal struggles and his ethereal visions. The thematic elements of self-discovery and self-acceptance traverse the spectrum of his works, leaving imprints of his journey in the boundless realms of musical exploration.

A Conclusive Ode to Self-Discovery

Chris Portka’s trash music is a symphonic masterpiece of paradoxical harmonies, a sonorous journey through the boundless dimensions of the human psyche. The intricate amalgamation of glitch rock, raw folk, and avant-garde elements constructs a living canvas of sonic revelations, reflecting the eternal dance between the abstract and the tangible. Each track, a musical entity in itself, interweaves the haunting shadows with the brilliant hues of existential musings, etching the multifaceted spectrums of human experiences on the eternal canvas of trash music. The limited vinyls, encapsulating the ephemeral brilliance of Portka’s creations, extend an invitation to the connoisseurs to embark on a transient journey through the uncharted territories of sonic enlightenment.

In conclusion, trash music is not just an album; it is a musical entity, a philosophical revelation, and a living embodiment of the eternal dance between the whimsical and the profound, the known and the unknown, the shadow and the light. Chris Portka’s musical and philosophical odyssey reverberates within each note, inviting the listeners to the boundless realms of self-discovery and transcendental reflection, leaving them with the lingering echoes of the unexplored dimensions of the human soul.

Album Review: Chief Broom – “hidden in plain sight”

From the vast, hauntingly ethereal landscapes of Idaho comes a debut that is as dense and compelling as the band’s rich history. CHIEF BROOM, hailing from Boise and led by multi-instrumentalist Shadrach Tuck, have sculpted an oeuvre that is at once devastatingly personal yet widely resonant in its debut album, “hidden in plain sight”, which you can order on vinyl from their Bandcamp.

The prologue “snuff” offers a subdued yet foreshadowing entry into the album’s intricate world. An immediate sense of weightiness pervades, leading us into the titular “hidden in plain sight (walked away)”, where listeners encounter a heavy-hitting blend of melancholic melodies reminiscent of Nirvana, combined with the enigmatic touch of Interpol. But CHIEF BROOM has something uniquely their own; it’s a rawness, a vulnerability that pervades each note.

By the time we get to the single “DFAH”, there’s a perceptible evolution in the record. It stands out not just for its compelling instrumentation, but for how it encapsulates the band’s overarching narrative. The intertwined histories of TJ Tuck’s profound impact, the Boise music scene, and the indomitable spirit of the band are all palpable here.

“if only” comes across as a melancholic, contemplative piece, drawing parallels to the contemplative rhythms of Low. Followed by “suspended in air (interlude)”, the album continues its journey, grounding us with familiar themes before launching us into the deeply introspective “bless my ignorance (outskirts)”. The emotional depth of this track, coupled with the poignant narrative of navigating friendships, addiction, and conflict, delivers a powerful punch.

By the time “saved(?)” begins, we are thoroughly steeped in CHIEF BROOM’s universe. This track is a testament to the album’s duality; while dealing with themes of trauma and pain, there’s an unmistakable undertone of hope and recovery. This is followed by “if only (reprise)”, a track that cleverly revisits and recontextualizes themes from earlier in the album, taking listeners on a circular journey, leading into the poignant “leaks (epilogue) [bonus]”. The album then rounds off with the reprisal of “DFAH”, a track that in its second rendering feels even more familiar and powerful.

Truly, this isn’t just an album; it’s an intimate insight into a journey of two brothers growing up in a changing world. The raw emotional gravitas of the album is further amplified by the tragic loss of TJ Tuck, a profound pillar of the Boise music scene. It’s evident that “hidden in plain sight” serves as both an homage to TJ and as a testament to CHIEF BROOM’s journey. The record reverberates with TJ’s drumming, his artistic vision, and snippets from the brothers’ childhood. It’s as if he’s right there with us, as we navigate this beautifully crafted soundscape.

An additional layer of depth is added knowing that the album was recorded in their childhood home and was then meticulously crafted by their father Terre Tuck, making it truly a family endeavor. The production expertise of Sonny DiPerri and Adam Gonalves adds polish without sacrificing authenticity, giving the project a sheen that elevates the already potent emotional experience.

Choosing to release the album on TJ Tuck’s birthday, September 29th, is a touching tribute, further solidifying the project’s intimate core. For those in Boise, the album release show promises to be an electric experience, a culmination of the band’s long journey to this pivotal point.

Drawing from the atmospheric alt-rock sounds of Built to Spill and the gritty intensity of bands like Codeine and Nirvana, CHIEF BROOM crafts a sonic palette that is uniquely their own. The ensemble of Shadrach Tuck, Will Cheeseman, Frankie Tillo, and the contributing cast gives life to a project that feels bigger than any one member. Every guitar riff, drum beat, and vocal harmony encapsulates the essence of their collective spirit.

In a world filled with fleeting digital moments, “hidden in plain sight” reminds us of the profound beauty of albums that demand our full attention. It’s a journey that requires listeners to sit down, listen, and truly feel. CHIEF BROOM has delivered a project that resonates with the deep echoes of personal history, pain, growth, and acceptance. It’s a debut that promises a bright future for the band and leaves listeners eagerly anticipating what they’ll do next. Don’t forget to get your vinyl from Mishap Records so you can listen to CHIEF BROOM the way it was intended.

Album Review: Diane & The Gentle Men – The Bad and the Beautiful

Diane Gentile’s latest album, ‘The Bad and the Beautiful,’ a tapestry of NYC rock ‘n’ roll and poignantly raw narratives, ventures into a realm marked by self-discovery and uninhibited expression. Released via Velvet Elk Records, the album is a sonorous voyage through the paradoxes of life, entwining the rebellious with the beautiful, rendering it a soulful symphony of timeless and transformative music. Amidst the pulsating rhythms and razor-sharp wordplay, the album stands as an ode to those who embrace their individuality, breaking boundaries and traversing life with a touch of tragic grandeur.

The album’s diversity is reflective of Diane’s expansive musical influences, ranging from the iconic vigor of David Bowie and The Rolling Stones to the literary brilliance of Henrik Ibsen and William Shakespeare. This eclectic concoction breathes life into songs that merge the raw energy of punk rock with the profound depths of classical literature, a symbiosis that imbues every track with an enduring resonance. This is exemplified in the multifaceted soundscapes of the album, from introspective folk-rock harmonies in “Dance ’til Dawn” to the gritty anthems of NYC, like “Shimmy” and “Sugarcane.”

The latest single, “Lace Up Your Sneakers,” is a riveting concoction of hauntingly pristine vocals and invigorating disco beats, vividly narrating a tale of an unrestrained slacker, punctuated by James Maddock’s complementary vocal and guitar harmonies. The music video for this track, filmed and directed by Dave Stekert, encapsulates the ethos of the album, blending vivid storytelling with captivating musical compositions. In an interview with, Diane shared insights into the album title, elucidating her fascination with characters that embody a rebellious beauty, a nuanced blend of the “bad and the beautiful.” Drawing inspiration from figures like John Belushi, the album encapsulates stories of those with an insatiable zest for life, those who touch lives with their unbridled spirit and depth of character.

Each song on ‘The Bad and the Beautiful’ unveils a chapter of Diane’s journey, intertwined with her community of artistic eccentrics, echoing their stories, their struggles, and their undying zest for life. It’s a collection that mirrors the myriad facets of human existence, each track a reflection of life’s multifarious dimensions. From the poignant collaboration with Alejandro Escovedo on “Walk With Me” to the vibrantly rebellious “Kiss the Sky,” inspired by John Belushi, every note resonates with a harmonious dichotomy, a dance between the profound and the profane.

Diane’s narrative genius coupled with her quintessential NYC rock n’ roll flair renders the album a melodic tapestry of relatable human experiences. It’s a kaleidoscope of emotions, wherein each track is a color, a shade of human existence, painting a vivid picture of life’s beautiful chaos. The robust dynamism of Diane’s band, The Gentle Men, including Colin Brooks and Jason Victor, accentuates the lyrical profundity of the album, crafting a sonic aura that envelops listeners in a warm embrace, inviting them to explore their deepest selves.

‘The Bad and the Beautiful’ is more than a musical journey; it is a philosophical exploration, a dive into the ocean of human existence, resonating with the echoes of undying passion and ephemeral love. The album captures the essence of the unexplored terrains of the human soul, narrating tales of rebels, of dreamers, of those who dance on the edges of reality, living in the moment, embracing their transient existence. It’s a celebration of the indomitable human spirit, of the relentless pursuit of one’s essence amidst the ever-changing landscapes of life.

Diane Gentile captures NY sound like no one else.

The meticulous production by Merle Chornuk at Atomic Sound Studios elevates the album’s sonic experience, forging a seamless blend between the introspective lyrics and the captivating melodies. It’s a manifestation of Diane’s relentless pursuit of artistic excellence, reflecting her years of immersion in the vibrant tapestry of NYC’s musical heritage and her experiences sharing stages with legendary artists.

The journey of ‘The Bad and the Beautiful’ is akin to a walk through the labyrinth of human emotions, where each turn unravels a new layer of the soul, a new shade of existence. It’s a metaphysical odyssey, translating the inexpressible nuances of human experiences into the universal language of music, allowing the listeners to traverse their inner worlds, to dance in the shadows of their unexplored selves. It’s a rendezvous with the ephemeral beauty of existence, a harmonious embrace of the transient and the eternal.

In essence, Diane Gentile’s ‘The Bad and the Beautiful’ is a poetic symphony, a philosophical expedition through the meandering paths of life, filled with the whispers of the rebellious and the echoes of the sublime. It is a timeless piece of art, capturing the eternal dance between the bad and the beautiful, narrating the unspoken tales of the human soul, echoing with the timeless melodies of existence. It invites listeners to embark on a journey within, to explore the uncharted territories of their souls, to dance with their shadows, and to embrace the transient beauty of life. In ‘The Bad and the Beautiful,’ Diane Gentile has crafted a masterpiece that resonates with the eternal human quest for meaning, a musical mirror reflecting the unending dance of the soul in the boundless cosmos of existence.

Album Review – The Dandys – Sex and Feuds EP

Brisbane’s The Dandys are a refreshing gale in today’s alternative rock scene, and their debut EP ‘Sex and Feuds’ firmly establishes them as the torchbearers of the genre’s future. Riding in on the coattails of the lead single, ‘Gums’, this debut offers a fervent exploration into the tumultuous journey of adolescence, capturing both its fevered passion and the occasionally ironic detachment that defines the modern youth experience.

“Falling”, the opener, sets the scene perfectly. Clocking in at 4:35, this track resonates with the hesitancy of youth, the anxious precipice of the unknown. With an undercurrent of anticipation, it both tempts and warns of the pitfalls of youthful exuberance. Following suit, “Broke Me Down” uses its 4:15 runtime to evoke the spirit of recklessness, painting a vivid picture of the lows after the highs. It’s an evocative ballad, heavy with the weight of realizations and lessons learned the hard way.

Midway, “State of Mind” introduces a more introspective tone. The 3:38 track delves deep into the psyche, exploring the ebb and flow of youthful optimism and the accompanying shadows of doubt. The mood is contemplative, reminiscent of those nights spent staring at the ceiling, lost in thought.

This introspection gives way to the hopeful rhythms of “Temporary Fix”. A 3:46 ode to the short-lived joys and ephemeral experiences that come with growing up, it’s an anthem that encapsulates that quintessential desire to hold onto fleeting moments, even if they’re mere stopgaps to deeper issues.

Closing out with “Gums”, a track already familiar to their fans, The Dandys strike gold. Protheroe’s vocals, as raw as they are melodic, are juxtaposed against the grit of the instrumentals. The song’s ethos, which resonates with the tension between wanting change and resisting the mundane tasks required, forms the beating heart of this EP. The band’s knack for blending catchy melodies with profound messaging shines brightest here.

Throughout this five-track journey, The Dandys prove that their early acclaim was no fluke. Their exuberant energy is infectious, reminiscent of punk/alt-rock legends, while still carving a distinct identity for themselves. Their fearless approach to songwriting, which never shies away from addressing pressing issues, stands out in today’s musical landscape.

The Dandys’ ability to capture the zeitgeist of youth is noteworthy. In ‘Sex and Feuds’, they depict a world that is as much about the giddy heights of adolescence as it is about its inevitable pitfalls. Each track is a testament to the myriad emotions, from unabashed joy to heart-wrenching sorrow, that accompany this phase of life.

Their debut comes at a crucial juncture in their career. Following a successful run of singles, appearances at festivals like Splendour In The Grass, and a burgeoning reputation as a live act to reckon with, ‘Sex and Feuds’ had a lot riding on it. And it delivers. From the tongue-in-cheek songwriting that Protheroe mentioned, to their signature energy, the EP captures the essence of The Dandys in a way that few debuts manage.

In the world of indie rock and alt-pop, where authenticity often battles with commercial appeal, The Dandys stand out as genuine storytellers. ‘Sex and Feuds’ is more than just a collection of songs; it’s a snapshot of a band coming into its own, exploring its identity, and laying down the foundation for a legacy. For those who haven’t tuned in to The Dandys yet, now is the perfect time. As for those who have been on the journey from the beginning, ‘Sex and Feuds’ is a reaffirmation that the ride has just begun. With this debut, The Dandys are not just announcing their presence; they’re staking their claim.

Album Review – Blind Orbits: The Time, The Tide EP

Navigating the nebulous realm of Coventry’s shoegaze scene, Blind Orbits emerges not as mere wanderers but as torchbearers. Known primarily as shoegaze veterans, their acclaimed collaborations with hip-hop figures like Wu-Tang affiliate Killah Priest and T-Mo Goodie of Goodie Mob spoke of a daring inclination towards genre fluidity. Their latest offering, “The Time, The Tide” EP, crystallizes this daringness, presenting a cohesive project with hints of novelty and nostalgia.

The title track, “The Time, The Tide,” is a delicate dance of dream-pop elements married seamlessly with quintessential shoegaze. The captivating vocals of Martin and Lara Orton serve as ethereal guides through this misty journey. It feels as though one is floating amidst clouds, buoyed by Matt Flood’s guitars which echo with the profound depth of reverb. Each strum resonates, cutting through the ambient fog, creating an auditory spectacle. Dave Speedy’s bass lines act as the heartbeats in this vast sonic landscape, giving life to the dream, while Ciaran Corkerry’s drumming is the pulse that keeps the dreamer alive, alert, and attentive.

“Reborn” shifts the narrative slightly. This synth-embellished track, with its brisker tempo, acts as the dawn breaking after a long, introspective night. If “The Time, The Tide” is about getting lost, then “Reborn” is about finding oneself amidst the haze, a phoenix rising from the ashes of its introspection. The electronic elements woven into the track bridge the gap between classic shoegaze and contemporary sounds, echoing the past while nodding to the future.

But it’s the EP’s final track, “Day of the Dead (Krohme’s Reprise),” that showcases Blind Orbits’ audacity. The fusion of the brooding, immersive world of shoegaze with the rhythmic eloquence of hip-hop—embodied by Killah Priest’s verses—feels almost revelatory. It’s a seamless blend that doesn’t feel forced or experimental but rather the next logical step in their musical evolution. It’s a bold statement, a nod to genre-less music that might define the coming era.

It’s essential to recognize the touch of producer Krohme, whose influence is evident throughout the EP. His capability to coalesce varying sound profiles without compromising the essence of each is commendable. The EP not only serves as a testament to Blind Orbits’ legacy but also to the endless possibilities that arise when artists, unburdened by genre constraints, come together to create.

The accompanying video for “The Time, The Tide” is the cherry atop this layered cake. It’s a visual representation of the band’s journey, reinforcing the ethereal themes of the EP. It’s an experience—both auditory and visual—that fans and newcomers alike will find hard to shake off.

In conclusion, “The Time, The Tide” EP is more than just a collection of songs; it’s a statement, an exploration, and a beacon for others to follow. It stands as an emblem of Blind Orbits’ artistic courage and the broader music industry’s evolutionary potential. Dive into this immersive experience on their Bandcamp and prepare to be transported.

Album Review: Ned Farr & The Good Red Road – The Master Plan

From the bustling streets of NYC in 1993 to the somber realities of 2023, Ned Farr & The Good Red Road have traveled a vast musical journey. Their fourth album, “THE MASTER PLAN,” encapsulates a pilgrimage through a global pandemic, distilling experiences from those isolating years into a poignant Americana tapestry.

With Ned Farr leading the project, one might have expected a cinematic quality given his long, lauded history in the film industry. And, true to form, this album plays out like an intimate indie film where folk melodies meet alt-country twang under the warm embrace of Americana. The detailed, narrative style of songwriting present on this album is a testament to Farr’s ability to craft stories, whether through visuals or, in this case, soundscapes.

Track opener “The Master Plan” sets the scene, drawing listeners into a world of uncertainty and resilience. There’s a potent atmosphere, with hints of what’s to come, musically and thematically. The shortest track, “The Captain Cries,” at just under a minute, serves as a somber interlude, reminiscent of an old ship captain’s lament echoing over an empty sea.

It’s hard to deny the palpable emotions and personal narrative throughout, reflecting the turmoil of recent years. “Hard Love” and “A Picture of the Sun” delve deep into relationships strained by the distance and stress of the pandemic era. They’re more than just songs; they’re diary entries set to melody. Cenovia Cummins’ virtuoso strings are prominent on “She Just Goes”, and she delivers a blazing violin solo in “Bulls”, highlighting her extensive prowess in both the classical and pop domains.

The soul of this album truly lies in its exceptional band members. With Jon Ossman’s seasoned bass lines providing a sturdy foundation, listeners get a taste of his illustrious musical past with icons like Chris Botti and Paula Cole. Jim Olbrys, with his Berkeley schooling, lends intricate guitar work that’s both emotive and technically splendid, weaving seamlessly with the cello tones of Juilliard-trained Evan Richey. And Joe Casalino’s drumming is precise yet impassioned, reminiscent of a teacher guiding his students with care.

Tracks like “Summer Break” and “Bulls” lean into the alt-country side, infusing an earthy grit to the mix. The former track, perhaps ironically named, suggests the transient nature of respite in these trying times, while the latter feels grounded, sturdy, and perhaps a bit defiant. “She Just Goes” and “Get Up” embody the ethos of moving forward no matter the odds, both thematically aligned with the broader album narrative.

“Bury the Stone” and “The Gift” round off the album beautifully, capturing the essence of remembrance and forward motion. They feel like closing chapters in this intricate musical novel, echoing themes of recovery, rebirth, and the determination to forge ahead.

This album is not simply a collection of songs; it’s a vessel carrying stories of pain, love, loss, and ultimately, hope. The craftsmanship is exceptional, from the instrumentals to the songwriting, reflecting the talent and experience of every band member. As the world tries to find its footing post-pandemic, “THE MASTER PLAN” serves as a poignant reminder of the power of music to capture, console, and inspire during even the darkest of times.

For those familiar with the band’s evolution, it’s hard not to reminisce about their pivotal track, “The Good Red Road.” This song isn’t just a hallmark in their musical odyssey but also the very inspiration behind the band’s name, setting a defining tone for their journey. From then to now, the evolution is evident, and Ned Farr & The Good Red Road continue to carve their unique niche in the vast world of Americana.

In conclusion, “THE MASTER PLAN” is a reflective, beautifully orchestrated homage to the human spirit. It’s not just about survival but about finding beauty amid chaos, hope amid despair. Here’s to the resilience of Ned Farr & The Good Red Road, who, despite the challenges, delivered possibly their best work yet.

Album Review: Christina Trocchio – journey to a higher vibe

As the world orbits around a constant state of emotional flux, artists have become our foremost soothsayers, illuminating paths through the darkest recesses of human experience. Into this tapestry of introspection comes Christina Trocchio’s “journey to a higher vibe” – a fervent exploration of self, love, and metamorphosis. It’s a 28-minute journey that navigates the turbulent waters of the heart, pushing its listener to confront the very demons Trocchio herself grapples with. A mere eight tracks in length, it’s both a testament to her compact storytelling prowess and a poignant probe into the mind of an artist unafraid to delve deep.

The album unfurls with “blinded by emotion,” a track that serves as an exposition to Trocchio’s emotive core. Here, she lays bare the vulnerabilities many of us cloak, allowing the listener an intimate glance into the soul of someone branded as “overly emotional.” Its rawness paves the way for “sunny days,” a blissful reverie recounting the rose-tinted honeymoon phase of a new relationship. Through Trocchio’s harmonious vocals and lush instrumental arrangements, one could almost feel the warmth of sun-kissed skin, the heart’s giddy palpitations, and the joyous abandon of being in love.

But as the album unfurls, it becomes evident that not all is idyllic. “I think love’s gonna kill me” peels back the curtain on a relationship gone awry. Its lengthiest track at over five minutes, it’s a somber reflection on the erosive nature of love, when it’s tainted with toxicity. The song serves as a turning point, marking Trocchio’s transition from infatuation to questioning.

The subsequent tracks see Trocchio wrestling with the dichotomies of the relationship. “perfect on paper” musically hints at the dizzying nature of being with someone who seems right yet feels so wrong. The nature-inspired production, with its ethereal, galactic undertones, underscores the song’s sentiment of finding oneself lost amidst a universe of emotions.

The album’s most poignant moment, arguably, is “I don’t know what love is, do I?”. It’s a universal contemplation, one that reflects humanity’s ceaseless quest to define that elusive emotion called love. With nature-influenced production elements subtly woven into its narrative, there’s a feeling of being adrift in a vast forest of feelings, searching for a familiar landmark.

“nobody” and “I don’t think that it goes like this” form a pair of empowering anthems, with Trocchio reclaiming her narrative from the relationship that once overpowered her. They’re songs of realization – a proclamation that love, in its truest form, should never wound so profoundly.

The album’s denouement arrives with “the smoke clears.” As the title suggests, it’s a climactic reflection on clarity and rebirth. Trocchio’s soaring vocals, harmonizing seamlessly with the ethereal production, signify a release from the shackles of past pain. It’s the epitome of catharsis, both for the artist and the listener, as one navigates the labyrinth of self-discovery and emerges anew.

It’s worth noting that the album’s backbone is its lyrics. Trocchio’s lyrical prowess is unparalleled, as she weaves complex emotions into verses that strike with precision. Coupled with the album’s nature-influenced production – echoing with ambient sounds reminiscent of rustling leaves, gentle waves, and distant bird calls – “journey to a higher vibe” transcends mere music, evolving into a meditative soundscape.

Ultimately, Christina Trocchio’s “journey to a higher vibe” stands as a luminous beacon in today’s musical landscape. It’s not just an album; it’s an emotional voyage that resonates universally, regardless of age or circumstance. As Trocchio undertakes her journey, she invites listeners to embark alongside her – to face their shadows, confront their past, and ascend towards a higher realm of existence. In a world often mired in superficiality, Trocchio’s authenticity shines through, making “journey to a higher vibe” a seminal work in the canon of introspective music.

Album Review: Ed Prosek – The Foreigner EP

Ed Prosek’s newest EP, “The Foreigner,” arrives like an autumn gust, ushering in introspection and ponderings about identity and place. Through six evocative tracks, the California-born, Berlin-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist crafts a contemplative masterpiece that delves deep into the very core of human emotion, intertwining his unique blend of chamber orchestration, Americana storytelling, and intimate pop. A classically trained musician, Prosek’s lifelong journey, encompassing diverse locales and musical styles, is palpable in each note and lyric of this 19-minute EP.

Beginning with “Hallelujah,” listeners are immediately embraced with a serenity and reverence, setting the tone for an emotional journey. There’s a touch of Leonard Cohen’s profound spirituality, but Prosek creates a unique space, providing a fresh perspective. “Man Overboard” picks up the pace, resonating with the feeling of being overwhelmed and lost amidst the raging currents of life. Its earnestness is balanced with soaring instrumentals, which seem to symbolize both struggle and hope.

“Ever After (Wedding Song)” is pure poetic intimacy. The track is an ode to love, not just the euphoric highs but the challenging lows, serving as a reminder that commitment is an ever-evolving process. Its subtle Americana influences give it an earthy touch, grounding it in Prosek’s roots.

Then comes “Vertigo,” which is where Prosek’s Berlin influence unmistakably shines. With a fusion of classical and modern, it conjures the image of someone teetering on the edge, in a constant battle with the anxieties and uncertainties of life. Its raw emotional intensity serves as a heart-rending prelude to the title track.

“The Foreigner” stands as the heart and soul of this collection. The song encapsulates the artist’s journey, his constant grappling with identity, and what ‘home’ truly means. His European lineage and American upbringing are woven into the narrative, echoing the sentiments of feeling adrift between two worlds. This track captures the essence of what it means to be a foreigner, not just in the geographical sense but emotionally and spiritually.

The closing track, “Tell A Lie,” offers a poignant end to a deeply introspective EP. Its melancholy tone and narrative question the truths we tell ourselves and the facades we put up. It’s a fitting culmination, bringing the overarching theme of self-exploration and acceptance full circle.

As a full listening experience, “The Foreigner” EP reveals Ed Prosek’s innate ability to transmute his experiences and emotions into music. Having studied classical trumpet and attended the prestigious San Francisco Conservatory of Music, it’s evident that Prosek’s classical training has deeply influenced his sophisticated songwriting. However, it’s his personal journey, from California to the UK, and eventually Berlin, that gives this album its soul.

His myriad experiences and cultural exposures, encapsulated in previous releases such as “Holy Water” and “The Mountain,” have culminated in “The Foreigner.” Prosek’s assertion that he’s currently the “best and happiest version” of himself can be felt in each track. This EP is not just a collection of songs; it’s a narrative, a diary of Prosek’s internal musings on belonging and identity, and his journey to find equilibrium in a world that often feels disjointed.

Ed Prosek’s “The Foreigner” is a testament to the universality of human experience. In a world that’s increasingly fragmented, Prosek offers a melodic sanctuary for listeners, a place where they can reflect on their own journeys, their own struggles with identity, and ultimately, find solace in shared human emotion. Through six songs, he has delivered not just music but a resonating message — that while we might all feel like foreigners in some capacity, music is the bridge that connects us. It’s an EP that demands repeated listens, each time offering a deeper understanding of the artist and, in turn, ourselves.