Common Ground Music Festival 2013 photos

Here are some photos I (Sean) took at Common Ground Music Festival in Lansing this weekend.

Both nights I attended, Friday and Saturday, were awesome. Amazing lineups and amazing shows. Looking forward to next year.

Lead singer for Detroit's Flint Eastwood, Jax Anderson, during their set on the Leinie Lodge stage Friday night July 12

Banjo player David Jones (left) and singer/guitarist Matthew Milia (right) of Michigan band Frontier Ruckus perform on the Auto Value stage before Josh Ritter and The Avett Brothers on Saturday July 13

Murder by Death's Sarah Balliet (far left, cello), Dagan Thogerson (behind center, drums), Adam Turla (guitar, vocals), Matt Armstrong (bass) and Scott Brackett (far right, keyboards) perform Saturday July 13 on the General Motors Pavilion stage. The Bloomington, Indiana band's latest album "Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon" was released last year.

Concord, North Carolina's The Avett Brothers closing out Saturday night of the Common Ground Music Festival in Lansing, Michigan on July 13. The group are working on a followup album to their 2012 release The Carpenter, set to be released later this year.

Mike Kinsella performs solo and acoustic music under the name Owen on Saturday July 13 on the Leinie Lodge stage. Kinsella is most known for being in Chicago-area bands emo bands American Football, Cap'n Jazz, Joan of Arc and, more recently, collaborating with Evan Weiss from Into It. Over It. as the band Their/They're/There.

John Bee, the singer behind American Opera, performs at Common Ground Music Festival Saturday July 13. Bee, originally from Michigan, resides in New York City.

Lemuria interview: Band talks new album, upcoming Mitch Clem collaboration, Michigan and more

 

Lemuria: Sheena Ozzella (far left), Max Gregor (center) and Alex Kerns (far right). Photo by Ryan Russell.

After Lemuria’s show in Lansing, Michigan at Mac’s Bar on Sunday June 30, I (Sean) conducted an interview with the members of the band on a drive in their van. We talk about their new album “The Distance is So Big” (out now on Bridge Nine Records), collaborating with Mitch Clem on a new 7″, favorite things about Michigan and more. It was a really fun show and great, entertaining interview. An interview I did with them in 2011 is referenced. Check that out here.

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Allison Weiss – Say What You Mean review

So, I saw Allison Weiss at Bled Fest on Saturday. I didn’t know much about her or her music but when I saw her set with her full band, they put on an infectious, memorable and catchy show. I had to find out more about this band, so her LP “Say What You Mean” (released on No Sleep Records on April 16) was added to my Bled Fest merch bag (along with Tigers Jaw, Into It. Over It. and Kittyhawk LPs).

After listening to Weiss’ album over and over again, I thought I’d do a review.

After Bled Fest, I did a little research about Weiss and her musical career. She’s been doing the acoustic singer-songwriter thing for a few years now, releasing song videos on Youtube. She’s put out a few EPs, records and even toured with Lou Reed’s backing band in Europe. So, she’s got some impressive work behind her already.

Some of the songs are catchier than others but they all have a memorable quality about them. Opening track “Making It Up” has the most infectious kick drum-snare beat that will make you dance. The synth line in the song hooks you in. It’s a monster and will get stuck in your head for days. The bass is smooth yet anchors the song even more. Her vocal hooks draw you in too. “Tell me that I’m making it up and I’ll leave you alone” she sings with a confrontational confidence.

“Nothing Left” has a huge chorus too that sinks in quickly. It’s got a indie-synth pop vibe. It, again, makes you want to dance. “When you’re next to me, you get what’s left of me” Weiss harmonizes alongside an acoustic guitar and punching bass drum. It makes you feel like there’s something bigger coming and there is: the harmonies on the chorus are amazing and the drums go into uber-dance mode. So awesome.

“How to Be Alone” has vibes similar to Atlanta, GA band The Wild. The guitar tones feel a bit similar, particularly the power chords. Maybe it’s a coincidence that The Wild are from Atlanta and Weiss went to school at the University of Georgia but the sounds just cross pollinate, I think.  The end of this song is so sad. Weiss sounds like she’s going to breakdown crying as the repeated refrain of “all the time”, complete with great harmonies, comes in. Gets me every time. Later tracks “Don’t Go” and “Hole In Your Heart” (which Weiss calls her “mean song”)  draws more on the indie rocking side of her set. On the former, more jangly guitars pop in during the chorus as light chugging during the verses keeps the electric guitar in check. This woman has an excellent ear for harmonies, as again, they creep into your head. On the latter, the guitars are quiet during the verses but they burst in the chorus and bridge. The fuzzed bass helps add to the rough-around-the-edges feel too.

“Wait for Me” is a lyrical standout. Drawing on a lush and fitting arrangement of weeping orchestral strings and acoustic guitar, she sings with her heart on her sleeve (as she does throughout the entire album). “I’m missing out on all the places I could go, the people I could know, the nights I’m not alone/We’ll never make it and it wasn’t meant to be/But I’ll wait if you wait for me” she sings during the chorus. The ending refrain of “bye, goodbye” is heart-wrenching, honest and full of emotional power.

“Say What You Mean” is another incredibly yet simultaneously sad and upbeat song. A driving acoustic guitar strum dictates the pulse of the song. The sparse electric guitar line and sputtering drums add to the song’s quirk. The chorus is another monster with an great guitar line and harmonies. This is a masterpiece; it takes all of the elements up to this point (loud, memorable instrumentation, bubbly harmonies and personal-as-hell lyrics) and lets it rip. Best line of the album: “Too young to give a f*** and too young not to care and I’m fine with having fun but this is just unfair”. Raw honesty.

Album closer “I’ll Be OK” shows despite all the despair of a break up and roller coaster emotions, things will be alright. With hints of spoken word, Weiss lays it all out there. “I’ve got my guitar and you’ve got your space/I’m stuck in this place/I kind of don’t mind it/I’m losing my mind/Put off what’s important if it’ll buy me some time/Time to get braver/Time to postpone every failure I can’t seem to disown/And I’m still alone”….and that’s just the first verse. The ending refrain of “I’ll Be OK”, complete with an almost trip hop feel and choral harmonies and synths is the perfect ending to this album. For Weiss, it seems, there was a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s so resonate and bright you’ll definitely go back and listen to the album over and over again.

Next time, she is in Michigan (either by herself or with her full band) I will see her play.

Do yourself a favor and buy this album. You won’t regret it.

Cavalcade “Dear Entrails…” review

After almost two years of languishing in development hell after being recorded for release on Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Records, Lansing’s Cavalcade have finally released their second studio album “Dear Entrails…” on their Bandcamp page.

Cavalcade, on this release, is: Zachary Warren (vocals), Cale Sauter (guitar), Craig Horky (bass, backing vocals), John Bruce (drums) and Brad Van Staveren (guitar).

Here’s a review of their long overdue sophomore LP.

An album about failure never sounded so successful in its vision. The self-described “weird metal” band have been combining disparate genres like avant, jazz, sludge, doom and even traditional instruments like tuba and saxophone since at least 2006 and here, after releasing their debut album a few years ago, finally show what their twisted vision is capable of.

“Agents of Bolivian”, with a backwards guitar effect in the intro, puts Cavalcade’s sound in an angular, skewed template. Guitar solos that could fit on a modern day thrash inspired-metal record clash with tuba and glockenspiel, although the latter is minimal while the overall tempo here is sludge and doom-inspired but maybe a little bit faster.

The album was mastered by Pig Destroyer and AxCx’s Scott Hull and the results fit the band’s sound perfectly. “Bury Sanders” pulls Warren’s vocals into the middle of the mix while guitar effects and pounding drums swirl around his raspy barks. “Cancer Fantasy”, one of my favorite tracks on the album, features guest vocals from The Break Ups’ Francesca Pierce, adding a beautiful, calming effect to the guitars and vocals, which are farther back in the mix. The drums here are fast, driving and fierce; they even have quiet a groove, showing groove metal’s influence here. You can probably dance to it if you wanted to. The mastering fares well, too, on “Untie These Vines” where acoustic guitars in the intro and distorted, white noise-layered guitars later on mix perfectly. Warren’s vocals later take on a spacey effect at points and the bass is punchy yet smooth. The guitar solo is loud and clear.

This band never shies away from horror movie and gore-inspired imagery and sounds. Instrumental “Poltergeists on Motorbikes” is no exception with a zombie groaning “I want your brains!” as sounds of a man being eaten alive by the zombie play before the encounter. The band also never shies away from sheer experimentation, as on “Big Sack of Tspiders” has the most danceable groove on the album. It’s fast, cathartic and even has hand claps, as guitar tones from previous songs make their way back here.

After a few more tracks of similar sounds, vocally and otherwise (“Walk Like a Magician” and “A Lifetime of Sick”), the experimentation takes a turn on the Russian-language titled “Призрак Захария”. With acoustic guitars, brooding synths with sounds recalling “Poltergeists on Motorbikes”, the second instrumental piece gives me the vision of wandering through a 13th century village in Transylvania at night (or something like that, and hey, that’s just me).

The latter third of the album really picks up in intensity and catharsis. “Michigan Winters” has pounding, fist-pumping power chord strikes with more power provided by a tuba in the chorus. That’s my favorite part of the track. “Bolivia Tremor Control” has some of the most powerful guitars on the album. They sound brutal and drenched in death metal fuzz and crunch. Bruce’s cymbal crashes sound bright and powerful and his bass drum kicks add a heavy weight to the song.

The album’s final two tracks showcase a lot of what the album has been about up to this point: bright instruments (bells, tubas, shimmering guitars, etc) and the contrasting, brutal vocals by Warren working together and sometimes clashing (but I think sometimes that’s their point). “A Jillion Years” has a cathartic chorus as Warren belts out the title of the song in only the way he can, then after the chorus, instrumentals take charge. Ringing guitars and bells close out the song to a sort of anti-catharsis.

“Cursing in Binary”, featuring Small Brown Bike’s Mike Reed during the chorus, pulls everything the album has achieved into one song. The guitars are the most powerful they’ve been so far, the drums are powerful and the bass is heavy. The chorus is drenched in layers of guitars as Reed’s yell of “This failure feels familiar” lays across Warren’s rasps of “Cursing in Binary”. The song ends with familiar brass instrumentation heard before and the backwards guitar heard at the beginning of the album.

I said earlier this album is about failure. The band stated in an interview with The Impact 88.9 FM a long time ago that this sentiment carried over the album. “Losing all desire. Losing, losing and losing some more” go some of the lines in “Bury Sanders”. Granted, a lot of Warren’s lyrics are hard to make out due to the rasps but from what I can pick out, there’s a lot of despair here. “What if those stories were right about me? What if those tales were as true as they seemed? What if I’m hating myself in a dream and what if it’s all a lie” Warren asks amid radio-like static coating his voice. “This Michigan winter chills me to the bone,” Warren screams on the track of the same name. The failure and despair culminates on “Cursing in Binary” with the already mentioned, and audible, audible chorus of “This failure feels familiar” by Reed.

Now that this album is out, it’s finally a contender for LMTV Album of the Year. If you’re a fan of sludge bands like Down, Eyehategod or Superjoint Ritual or even experimental bands like Mr. Bungle (or any of Mike Patton’s experimental projects), check this out.

Cavalcade return from hiatus, announce album downloads and live show

Lansing’s Cavalcade have returned from hiatus after original and longtime vocalist Zack Warren left the band earlier this year.

 

Catch Cavalcade with Jucifer at Mac's Bar on Friday June 7. Wastelander's Sean Peters debuts on vocals. Flier by Craig Horky.

Returning to the stage at Mac’s Bar with Jucifer, Shackle the Giant and Dozic, the band return with Sean Peters (of Wastelander, Dark Psychosis and Summon) on vocals and now-permanent drummer Christian Urabazzo. Check out the Facebook event here.

Along with their live return, the band have released their long-overdue albums Dear Entrails and 15 Year Dog Plan on their Bandcamp page for pay-what-you-want for a limited time. Get their discography, including their debut album Into Bolivian, here.

Look out for reviews of Dear Entrails and 15 Year Dog Plan soon.

Bled Fest set times announced

Premier Michigan-based music festival, Bled Fest, has announced set times for the day. Remember, set times are subject to change.

Get your tickets here and get them early since it’s looking like Bled Fest could sell out for the first time in its history.

Check out the set times below, courtesy of the Bled Fest 2013 Facebook page:

Stage A
1245-110 Of Virtue
135-200 Endeavors
225-250 Diamond Youth
315-340 Hostage Calm
405-430 Make Do And Mend
455-520 Wilson
545-610 Code Orange Kids
635-700 Pianos Become The Teeth
730-800 Tigers Jaw
830-900 Into It. Over It.
930-1030 Anti-Flag

Stage B
1220-1245 Gift Giver
110-135 Turnover
200-225 Secret Grief
250-315 Masked Intruder
340-405 Hit The Lights
430-455 Daylight
520-545 Mixtapes
610-635 Koji
700-730 Cheap Girls
800-830 Andrew WK
900-930 The Swellers

Stage C
1200-1225 Maybe Next Time
1245-110 Adventures
130-155 Allison Weiss
215-240 Cadaver Dogs
300-325 Sainthood Reps
345-410 The World Is A Beautiful Place
430-455 Flint Eastwood
515-540 Dads
600-625 Joie De Vivre
645-710 Modern Baseball
730-755 Prawn
815-840 CityCop
900-925 Slingshot Dakota
945-1010 Have Mercy

Stage D
105-130 Foreign Tongues
150-215 State Champs
235-300 Xerxes
320-345 Signals
405-430 Caravels
450-515 Empire Empire
535-600 From Rise To Ruin
620-645 Jowls
705-730 Act As One
750-815 You Blew It
835-900 Cerce
920-945 Pity Sex

Stage E
110-135 Steven’s Salute
155-220 The Story Changes
240-305 Small Parks
325-350 American Opera
410-435 A Hero Falls
455-520 Wolves and Machines
540-605 Hung Up
625-650 Aeris
710-735 Giraffe Attack
755-820 Portrait
840-905 Paths
925-950 Conscripts

Stage F
1250-115 Kittyhawk
135-200 All The Presidents Men
220-245 The Red Queen
305-330 The Shack
350-415 Alaska
435-500 The Threads
520-545 Captains
605-630 Way To Fall
650-715 Hampshire
735-800 Explicit Bombers
820-845 The Reptilian
905-930 Wayne Szalinski

Mr. Fox and the Hounds Self-Titled album review

Lansing hip hop group Mr. Fox and the Hounds put out their debut self-titled EP last week with a show at Mac’s Bar.

Mr. Fox and the Hounds are: Andy Fox (vocals), Aaron Simon (supporting vocals), Matt Waterman (guitar), Alex Rosendall (guitar), Pat Hogan (bass) and David Del Cid (drums).

Here’s a review.

This Lansing/Grand Ledge-based band, who formed last year, combine all sorts of different styles on their debut effort including ska, punk rock, hip hop and even space/progressive rock to mixed results.

Opening song “Lucy” has a Red Hot Chili Peppers-type feel in the verses. Fox’s rapping flow is pretty consistent. The chorus makes the song take a totally different turn with anthemic vocals and more open production style compared to the verses. The vocals on the chorus sound distant and the guitars sound more powerful while during the verses, Fox’s flow is upfront and the guitars are too. The backing vocals add more depth. The production transitions used make the parts of the song feel clunky when listened to as a whole.

“Countdown to Success” features Fox rapping about sophomoric topics like sex, girls and partying. “One, two, three/Where’s the place to be? Four, Five, Six, Let’s drink some fifths with some chicks” are the lyrics to the chorus. I’m gonna say this song, and the atmosphere and idea behind the band, is partying and having fun so I won’t fault them for the content nor the simplicity of the lyrics. Some of his rhymes seem a bit too fast for the drum beat. Former members of the now-defunct band Jason Alarm make up a majority of the members here, so the fast, shredding guitar solo and chugging guitars during the choruses aren’t a surprise.

The song “Demons” has a neat, delayed guitar intro which adds a somber-like atmosphere given the song’s title. “Stuck on a path of self-destruction/I think I’m ’bout to blow/’Cause no one is trustin’ in me’” Fox raps. I want to try and take Fox seriously with this song but it’s kind of hard. The song is about how Fox has dealt with hard times in his life and that listeners “don’t know where I have been, the things that I have seen and all these demons”, as Fox raps in the anthemic and instrumentally powerful chorus. I have never met Andy Fox nor do I know what his life is like. Maybe he has had some rough life experiences, but so has every other rapper. The originality of the lyrics is pretty poor. He does have a great flow though. That’s pretty consistent throughout this entire record.

“Blackout” has standard upstroke guitars common in ska music in the verses with power chords in the choruses. Again, Fox raps about sex, partying and drinking. This song makes me start to realize something about this band: it reminds me of guitarist Waterman’s just-for-fun side project, The Matt Waterman Revival. The following song proves this. “Friends ‘Til the End”, about friends, partying, drinking and just being hoodrats. The instrumentation on this song is clunky, struggles to keep the beat and the guitars can’t seem to keep up at points. It seems a little bit all over the place. The instrumentation makes this song really hard to get into, let alone listen to. The exact same sentiment can be said for the last track, “I’m an alcoholic”. With it’s shotty, Do-It-Yourself beat of clanging beercans, the lyrics again are about drinking and partying. No surprise given the title. The chorus sucks. It’s a joke song. Take it as you wish.

If you’re looking for a party atmosphere, lyrics about girls, sex, partying and drinking, this record is for you. Again, I’m tending to think this EP is a just-for-fun release so maybe my criticisms are looking too deeply into something that’s pretty light to begin with. On it’s face, it’s great party music. More deeply though, there’s little to be desired, even on the supposedly more serious tracks. Check this out for yourself and download it for whatever price you choose.

Link: http://mrfoxandthehounds.bandcamp.com/

The Avett Brothers, Frontier Ruckus announced for Commonground; Jahshua Smith – The Final Season review

The Avett Brothers have been announced for the Commonground Music Festival held in downtown Lansing this summer and Frontier Ruckus have been announced to open for them.

Be on the lookout for more performer announcements in the future.

In other news, Lansing hip hop artist Jahshua Smith has released a new album called The Final Season.

Check out a review here, via Central Michigan Life:

Lansing emcee and BLAT! Pack member Jahshua Smith (formerly JYoung the General) released his new album “The Final Season” last week, and with almost an hour-and-a-half musical journey, the listen is a bit long but well worth it.

With cameos from a who’s-who of Michigan artists from Joe Hertler (on lead track “Seven Year Itch”) to fellow BLAT! Pack members Philthy, The Amature, Yellowkake and Red Pill, the diversity shown in the featured artists is just as diverse as the production on the tracks themselves. “Seven Year Itch” features Hertler’s soulful crooning on the chorus, while “Carry On/The Ark” features Philthy’s lisp-laden flow.

Smith’s lyrics range from the political to the personal, with a party track thrown in here and there. On “Censored,” he raps about making it to college “but still had to wait for Uncle Sam to split the bill.”

It’s a bit of a stream-of-consciousness, pointed diatribe with a bit of hope tied to it. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel here.

“The Ghosts of Medgar Evers” is another political track drawing on the mindsets of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.

“They take up 130 words to sum up a black life,” Smith raps over a synthesizer and snare beat.

Smith’s flow is confident and powerful. Able to draw upon personal experiences, he channels a pent-up anger on his political tracks, while his laid-back style comes through on “Butt/Don’t Hold Back,” with its soulful guitar lead and interchangeable sample of the word “butt” with “but” cleverly implemented. It’s a party track “for the ladies,” as he says in a skit before the track.

He also takes time to dissect love and relationships with songs such as “Lylah’s Song.”

Smith’s travels down a few different avenues with this record and can cater to different groups. Including a few different bonus tracks, the album is a bit too long to listen to at once. The singles are where this album shines, but listening to the entire album helps the listener learn more about Smith: his triumphs, struggles and life. Regardless of what you listen to, you should pick this up. It’s got a bit for everyone and has Michigan roots.

 

Fusion Shows’ 5th Anniversary show: My thoughts

I usually don’t do this here but after Saturday’s show at the Crofoot in Pontiac celebrating Fusion Shows’ 5th anniversary with La Dispute, Cheap Girls, Into It. Over It, The Swellers, Tiger! Tiger! and more, I’m still riding the energetic, memorable and passionate wave everyone who was there was on. I thought I’d share my thoughts on it and what it meant to me and what it means to Michigan music.

Well, that was one hell of a show. Getting to see Tiger! Tiger!, Cheap Girls, The Swellers and Into It. Over It back-to-back is probably something I won’t ever get the chance to see again. It was an incredible experience. I had been dying to see IIOI with the full band ever since I saw the announcement for this show. Carpooling with a few friends was a great way to pass the time there and back.

When my friends and I got to the Crofoot, we could hear Tiger! Tiger! starting and were anxious to get in. Once in, I ran upstairs to catch the rest of their set. Ending with (what I would later learn) was the song Hayford, it has become my favorite song of their’s. It’s some of the most emotional lyrics I’ve ever heard. It resonates with me greatly. Hearing a room full of kids scream back the lyrics to the band at the end was a chilling moment.

Cheap Girls on the main stage.

Cheap Girls played, in my opinion, their best set of songs I’ve heard by them. Playing all their hits. No BS. A Lesser Rate, No One to Blame and even the obscure Pure Hate was played. Great to see those guys again and am excited for their future.

The Swellers live on the main stage. Photo by me.

Next was The Swellers. I had caught the tail-end of their set at Bledfest and after hearing The Best I Ever Had at that show, I was hooked and needed to see them again. The crowd was stoked for every bit of their set and even though there were more than a few songs I didn’t know (still have to dig into their back catalog), I loved hearing The Best I Ever Had again. I definitely sang along to that. I also picked up their new EP “Running out of Places to Go” and a t-shirt.

Into It. Over It. on the main stage.

Into It. Over It. was the band I came to see. Evan and crew rocked the hell out of their set, putting in an energy that matched the crowd’s. It was neat for all of us to see the (potentially) last full band show with the Stay Ahead of the Weather lineup. I enjoyed the stage banter by Evan and loved the moment where a fan asked for a particular SAOTW song and almost got to sing it. Wish he had. After their set, I chatted with Evan a little bit and picked up a shirt, the 12 Towns CD and the (supposedly) 2nd-to-last copy ever of the 4-LP “52 Weeks” set. That is such a beautiful piece of art, not just music. The drawings, the lyrics, the red vinyl. That’s why I love collecting records.

Cover of Into It. Over It’s 52 Weeks 4-LP booklet. Photo by me.

Anyway, enough of my personal ramblings about my purchases and experiences.

Although I’m still on the high of an excellent show, I think Nate and crew have proven they are the best promoters in  the country. Bold statement, yes. But Michigan has always been known as a state which loves live music and Fusion Shows have tapped into that and are doing the best work of bringing the best shows possible to our state. With a Fusion Show,  I never forget that the show’s quality will be the best it can be and the group are doing their best to make that their end goal. They’ve succeeded and will continue to do so, moving off of this excellent show into new, different and exciting territory.

Fusion Shows, all of my friends in bands (and non-band friends too) makes me proud to be a Michigander. Personally, they’re a part of my experience growing up in Michigan as much as where I’m from or my family. I’m grateful I live in a state where music is so greatly appreciated and loved.

I’m looking forward to not only what Fusion Shows have in store for us but what the rest of Michigan’s great musicians, record labels and venues have in store for us too.

With that: go out and support bands. Go to shows, buy their merch, talk with bands after their sets and get to know them. They’re people too. Great people who deserve every bit of everything they’ve ever earned. This philosophy is why LMTV exists and why I do what I do. I hope you’ll have the same passion as me and countless others.

 

Sean

 

Inflatable Best Friend “DMT Bike Ride” review

Kalamazoo’s Inflatable Best Friend are releasing their first full length soon, called “DMT Bike Ride”. They’ve been on a few tours and plan on going out west again this summer. They’ll be releasing the album with a couple release shows around Michigan. Check this release show out in Lansing soon.

Here’s a track-by-track review of their record.

Inflatable Best Friend is: Ian Howell (drums), Austin McQuarter (bass) and Tanner Boerman (vocals/guitar)

Spiritual Journey to the Gas Station: With a constant, droning fuzzed out guitar raging for the majority of the song, I get strong Sonic Youth vibes from this song. I like the production on this. The drums are up front in the mix so the guitar isn’t overbearing. Smart move there. The drums play the same beat over and over (for the most part). They’ve studied post-punk a bit. Interesting lead-off here.

I Wanna Ride a Sabertooth: The fuzz continues among a dance beat now. The vocal is very clean. Contrasts with the noisy guitar. The only lyrics are “I wanna ride a sabertooth” (or some variation on this). More lyrics please. I like the beginning of this song with the driving beat and fuzz bass. That’s cool. But it’s just kind of repetitive.

Moon Flower Soul: A guitar line that’s not overly noisy? I like it. But then it goes back to it’s old ways and definitely sounds just like a Sonic Youth swirling, flailing guitar. Nothing new. Boerman sounds a little like SY guitarist Lee Ranaldo when he sings. The guitar, even with all the noise, has a bit of melody coming out of it. It’s not all just noise (sometimes).

Blood Surf: Sounds a lot like the previous tracks. I get a bit of a goth/post-punk vibe from the vocals this time. Still the same fuzzed out bass and noisy guitars and cycling drum parts. More instrumental on this track than vocals. A subtle difference but not really enough to keep me interested.

Apis Mellifera: A clean guitar intro. Just as I thought it was staying the same as before, I changed up a little bit. Good to hear. Sounds a little like Lansing’s Cavalcade. Maybe in the same headspace. They’ve played shows together so maybe their sound rubbed off on IBF’s a little? Too much reverb on the vocals. Can’t really understand them. This got weird real quick. Sounds like they literally are messing with the tape speed on the guitar. Really cool move there. Almost down a similar path but took a few interesting turns.

My Dead Bird: Fitting. Begins with sounds of chirping birds. A lot more lo-fi this time around. I can actually hear the vocals: “His face was melting/flew into the sun/A thousand miles per hour/I heard him scream: ‘this feels like fun’”. A slowed down part with a reverberated “Now He’s Gone” plays side-by-side with a clean guitar part and marching drums. I’m starting to hear a bit of diversity on this album.

Brisk Steel Sun: With a psych-rock intro and a slowed down tempo with noise flashes here and there, it sounds like Blue Cheer with Thurston Moore on guitar. Noise yet rocking. Steady tempo on the drums. Vocals are too reverberated and far away in the mix to hear them intelligibly. The noise seems to be contained in a steady, hard rock mode. It’s easy to follow as opposed to other tracks. Another bit of diversity.

Swiss Cheese Brain: A clean, melodic guitar intro?! With a Dinosaur Jr.-like distorted and melodic guitar. More fuzz bass. The vocals don’t kick in until almost half way through the song. Again, more instrumental than vocal. Same old, same old.

Circus Dog: Sonically different than the rest of the album. Everything sounds like it was recorded separately (as opposed to the in-the-same-room feel as the rest of the album). Overall a lot more clean. Vocals have a lot of reverb on them. “Circus dog/you are my circus dog” Boerman sings. No fuzz bass this time. Reminds me of Kool Thing by Sonic Youth. These guys loooove Sonic Youth.

Thistle Girl: By far the noisiest track on the album. A cacophony if there ever was one. Then a tempo and mood change. Classic rock and ’80s alternative rock seeping through here. Kind of a tiring experience now having to listen to so much fuzzed out bass and noisy guitar. One track to go.

Worm Battle on DMT Mountain: Again a noisy track. Noisy guitar. Fuzzed out bass. Pounding drums. Same. Again.

Overall Thoughts: I got tired of the noisy guitar after a few songs and the production (in particular, the drums) never really changed. The places it did, I liked. I liked the occasional venture into clean guitar parts and some of the singing was alright. Next time, a bit more lyrics (and more thought into them) would be better. Experimenting with that on their next record might be the way to go while still harnessing their noisy exterior. I like what I hear but it can be a bit repititive and combersome. If you’re a fan of ’80s alternative and noise rock (Sonic Youth, Big Black) or even Lansing, MI band Cavalcade you might like this. Check it out here and go to their album release shows.

 

 

 

 

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