Archive for the ‘Pop’ Category

Ben Sefton is a fresh singer-songwriter from Saskatchewan. Stepping off the success of alienation diary entry “Humans,” Sefton has released his third tune and attached short film, Harrison. The sound is theatrical and layered, bringing up flavors of Queen or even Jellyfish in its evolving structure as it travels though different channels of pop and rock. Harrison’s narrative is an archetype of the isolated high school geek, with lyrical hints towards suicidal ideation (that I prefer to ignore). Though awkward teen narratives are often cliche, it’s important to see a story of an isolated kid that doesn’t put on a trench coat and blow away the lunch room. It’s a reminder that some kids just need to be heard. Keep an eye out for the guitar-shredding bear.

Ben Sefton Instagram

Ben Sefton Bandcamp

The Magus due out March 4th

This mustachioed magician’s new EP has left me spellbound. Peter Cat (Cat Cat) is the mostly solo project of Graham Neil Gillespie, the dapper “sophisti-popster” behind glam-o-rama hit The Saccharine Underground. Peter Cat brings his brand of wry humor and introspection to a new four track EP, entitled The Magus. I was lucky enough to get to listen to the whole shebang before release and it is fan-flipping-tastic.

It starts with “Blue Raspberry,” the second single off the EP. It’s got a dreamy surreal quality over the beat, meant to illustrate the song’s theme of projecting a fantasy and expecting it to be real. The lyrics start with a touch of meta humor and end in a melancholy that I found really easy to connect with. “Blue Raspberry” sets the tone for the rest of the EP in that The Magus balances introspection and darkness with wit and rhythm throughout the four tracks. For every chuckle, there’s an equal tug at the heart. But for every earnest admission, there’s a knife twist, too.

If Peter Cat played Skyrim…

Track two, called “The Magus” (named for the John Fowles novel) is the inspiration for the characterization you’ll hear in this song’s Billie Eilish-adjacent sprechgesang. Here, Gillespie is taking on the role of the magician as he welcomes you to his show, where he plays with both the heads and the hearts of his victims. It grows atmospheric and tense before exploding into delicious baroque pop.

The EP’s biggest star is also its first single – “Melon Dating Simulator.” It is an instant head-bopper with an absurd twist. Again, the speaker is willing to skewer himself for his bad behaviors, but now he has found his other half in the form of fruit, inspired by Gillespie playing (and having high praise for) a dating simulation game called Superstorm Melon Date. Insert a series of puns and a vaguely dystopian atmosphere, and this one is a certified earworm. Listen for the one off-beat Meyers-Briggs joke that makes me cackle every time I hear it. It’s so very sing-able that I have subjected it to dozens of people in my day job who are forced to listen to me (to which I respond “yer welcome.”

Closer “Disappearing Act,” starts with a piano cabaret-type tune that illustrates when the singer is reasoning with a lover versus narrating his actual intentions. It lends itself so beautifully to a theatrical visual (in my mind), complete with 2d urban backdrops backdrops and the depressing glow of a street lamp. The main character is revealed to be just another manipulative bottom-feeder of relationships, who gloats out the side of his mouth about how he patronizes his lovers so he never has to face himself. Behind it reveals the emptiness that causes such a chasm where a decent man would otherwise be. The piano grows moodier as it takes on more finality and the EP is carried to an end.

All in all, it feels like a piece of theater, lends itself to fun mental visuals, and carries an EP-long narrative if you look for it. I keep being struck about my own willingness to empathize with the character speaking in these songs even though it would be misery to be in a relationship with that kind of person. It all makes my brain go tingle, and that makes me happy.

This EP is not to be missed. Peter Cat play shows around Glasgow so definitely check ’em out if you’re lucky enough to be in Europe. I would love to hear how these tunes sound live, but alas, I live across an ocean from where they play, so let’s cross our fingers and hope for a stateside visit one day. The Magus comes out on March 4th – GO GET IT!

I also got the chance to have a brief 1-on-1 with the man himself. We will have that up for you soon!

Peter Cat Cat Cat Instagram

Peter Cat’s Bandcamp

Peter Cat’s Official Website

Henry Solomon is an accomplished saxophonist who is most known for being The Guy In The Video For “Summer Girl,” being that he recorded three songs on HAIM’s latest album, Women In Music Pt. III. He’s also the saxophonist for Thumpasaurus, a group I admit to being insanely fond of, comparable to the level that Soda loves Jellyfish, or to the level that teen me loved Led Zeppelin. So naturally, I’ve been flavoring my life with their individual accomplishments, and the first I can find the words about is this sweet little eight minute EP Solomon made in partnership with gentle-voiced bedroom popster Allie Kelly.

It starts with “Menthol,” a breathy synthy ambiance that uses the sensation of menthol as imagery for something cutting. I can’t quite figure the lyrics out, other than the sense that the “knife” she mentions is sharp and turned inward. It’s a nice use of imagery, because the feeling of dragging on a menthol (especially for the first time after a long day) matches Kelly’s breezy vocals – it’s a sharp but refreshing discomfort to fill your lungs with minty smoke. The video makes a nice background visual. Both Kelly and Solomon have great hair and earrings and are having a fabulous night on the sidewalk, and it’s kind of amusing to watch them play around with cigarettes despite clearly being non-smokers.

I think the song that nailed it for me was “Salmon of Positive Energy,” which is certainly the background music of a video game I’ve played in my subconscious. On its own, it becomes an upbeat metaphor for some elusive wisdom, like an unformed out-of-grasp thought or the memory of a dream that’s slipping away upon waking. Per Solomon’s Instagram, the actual Salmon is a “mythical creature that protects fishermen from danger, and and brings happiness and good luck.” The song’s imagery invokes nighttime, but the sound feels, to me, like traveling at dawn through a clear sky. It just feels good and floaty. The song itself was inspired by/written for footage of salmon fishermen, which is interesting except that after four and a half minutes of upbeat drum loops and seascapes, a salmon meets his maker with a hearty stabbing. I appreciate the irony. This one stays on the playlist.

The EP ends with a minute-half little tune “Oh Song” that has the softest little sax, and Kelly’s vocal that seems to be reaching out to either keep/discard a lover depending on if you hear “can” or “can’t.” I choose to hear it as a breakup song but that’s because I’m a feminist curmudgeon and never want to hear a woman offering to be whatever someone else wants. Still, it makes what might be an ugly or desperate feeling into a pretty sound, and I wish there were more than a minute and a half of it.

**Update: April 2022

For some reason, “Oh Song” kept bouncing through my inner monologue at least once per day for a while. I felt like I misinterpreted it and it kept bugging me like it sat on my conscience. As I kept hearing it in my mind, it would morph into the song from the Mario 64 water level “Jolly Roger Bay” because my brain free-associates like it’s perpetually writing bad poetry. But somewhere in the mental swirl came the realization that this song is what an orgasm sounds like. It’s not “Oh, Song.” It’s the “O” song, which makes its short length, sound, and words make total sense in a way I didn’t really get when I first reviewed it.**

Overall, the Menthol EP is a good nighttime listen for settling in with some hot tea and a Marlboro Smooth. They’ve also got a limited edition cassette that comes with a bonus remix, and I’ll update this post when I have the goods in hand. In the mean time, check out the Salmon of Positive Energy video here, and links below.

Allie Kelly & Henry Solomon Bandcamp

Allie Kelly Instagram

Henry Solomon Instagram

It was sometime back in the early 00s when I got into King Crimson. I got to see them live with John Paul Jones when I was a Zeppelin die-hard and JPJ was touring behind The Thunderthief (2001). I got to hear the rhythmic daymare of Thela Hun Ginjeet for the first time in my life. The mix of strange and almost discordant rhythms did more to get me dazed than the contact high and warm pocket vodka. I remember being completely entranced until the song ended and I finally shuddered back to life. At the time, I also was discovering Zappa, and knew their common link was Adrian Belew. Young Lions, the first album I landed on at (thanks good ole Mr. Cheapos!), ended up tucking itself into the folds of my hippocampus in my Personal Museum of Eternally Beloved Music. This album is a mission of optimism with claws, set to vaguely jungle-ish rock drums and Belew’s unbelievable shredding. After now twenty years, whenever some Facebook chain email crosses me asking for my top fives or tens or “I listen to this when,” I instantly see the white-pink hue of my copy of Young Lions.

It starts with this pulsating stomp with bells on its ankles, that give me visuals of bonfire parties and hunting predators. This song always sends me deep into the stories in my consciousness and push up fruits of lush colors and imagery – sometimes a cavewoman lover shimmying for her beau, other times eyes in the bushes in the quiet blue darkness; a stalking foot of a carefully moving something. The driving stomp careens into a solo with a some instrument that I have no fucking idea what it is (probably some genius machination Belew does with pedals and pixie dust). It sears as much as it sings, stomping along with rhythmic grunts and twittering flutes, until the entire jungle erupts in natural rapture. It is a masterpiece of sound and joy and it moves me every time.

From there Pretty Pink Rose takes over. A guitar-crazy wailing pop smash, (the album’s one single and video), Pretty Pink Rose is just a good honest rock song. Total shoulder shimmy danceable. I won’t pretend to understand the lyrics, but they’re Bowie lyrics so they work well on their own just by sounding beautiful, nevermind what world-shaking political meanings Bowie may hide in there if you have the patience to search. “The left wing’s broken, the right’s insane” was one of the easily reachable bits to grasp, and rings even more frustratingly true the further we live through history. Other lyrics call up images of the Russian monarchy and seem to bite. Man, I don’t need to know what the hell the song is about, but the hooks in this song are so fun to sing along to, it doesn’t matter.

Humor me a personal story: There was a long time I didn’t pull this album out for a listen. I’m a sensitive soul and the universe decided to backhand me. When I was about 19, traveling the country with Led Zeppelin fans, I took my all Adrian Belew CDs on one of the coolest music adventures of my life (which I shall save for another post). My copy of Belew’s Op Zop Too Wah was with me, and it was super special. It had been gifted by another Belew fan on the internet with the caveat that I must one day pay it forward to another person who might like it. It was precious cargo, cargo that came with a mission. I wanted to make sure I had a few uninterruptable listens, and flights to and from Ohio were as good an opportunity as any.

So naturally, the airline lost my luggage.

When my bag arrived home 9 hours after I did, it was unlocked and all my beloved CDs and CD Walkman were gone. Heartbroken. I couldn’t bear to replace them, even though members of that Belew group sent me replacements and sympathy. But I felt so fucked up about it that I couldn’t really enjoy them without thinking about the violation of some chode stealing my stuff. And I always felt bad having never been able to complete my mission of paying a Belew CD forward. I sort of just blocked it out like it would be forever sour.

It took me until the darkness of 2020 to be able to see the light in this album again. In one of my many moments of deep orange panic, watching the world fall apart in front of me, I started singing “Looking for a UFO” at the top of my lungs. “Somebody will have to fall out of the sky, somebody to show us how to survive. Wouldn’t that be nice?” It sure felt like it. It came out of me randomly and at full volume like a cry to the gods (in the form of a catchy pop song). After all, it is three and a half minutes of upbeat but desperate hope when everything felt hopeless. Why not call upon the aliens? “I wonder what they see on earth. Do they see the hate and hurt? Or do they see the Christmas lights and mirth, and hear songs of peace on earth? Well maybe they would know, a way to make it so.” Maybe they do! Maybe we do, too. I confused the hell out of my neighbors, but I was happy.

One of the weirdest slam dunks on this album is I Am What I Am, which is a jam-along with cult radio evangelist Prophet Omega. I have always had a personally embattled relationship with spirituality, and this beat and monologue would make me scoff at the same time as “I am what I am, and that is all I am, and I am it” became an arcane mantra I would jot down in my notebooks in college. It’s this narrative of self-acceptance and living in the moment that is really engaging and healthy and light, although the guy also seems a little more than eccentric. I’ve since learned that Omega is some kind of legendary cult figure in Nashville music, and you can download his sermons/buy stuff about him from Genuine Human Productions here:

Genuine Human Productions Bandcamp

“Men In Helicopters” is an assault on poachers, and to some larger extent, the sins of our consumption. Belew’s rage is unfettered and raw in its biting lyrics. “Wouldn’t it be odd, if there really was a god, and he looked down on earth and saw what we’d done to her? Wouldn’t it be just, if he pulled the plug on us, and took away the sun?” I can hear a little extra breath in Belew’s rage, as if mentions of copters come with a snarl, a desire for justice. It gives you a push.

I always listen to this guy start to finish – there’s so much more to get, whether it’s the vaguely ethereal cover of “Not Alone Anymore” of the Wilburys, or “Phone Call From the Moon” or Belew’s personal cover of King Crimson’s “Heartbeat.” It’s a powerful album that more people ought to know about it. I could go on, but I won’t, because this review is already long. But I will say this:

DO YOU WANT A COPY OF OP ZOP TOO WAH? Help me complete my mission. I will send you a copy of Op Zop Too Wah on the condition that you one day pay another Belew album forward to someone else. Help me solve the mission I started 20 or so years ago in the primordial ooze of the internet. Reach out to me on Instagram! Cheers!

https://adrianbelew.net/

Adrian Belew’s Facebook

Adrian Belew’s Insta

This song makes me woozy and a little tense, in all the ways a really engaging piece of experimental music should. “God Complex,” is the newest release by chamber pop trio Gentle Party. The song starts off with breathy vocal notes that posit a tonal wondering. The song becomes lush and delicate like an edible flower, and it stays in the back of your mind, strumming its inquisition. Then the lyrics come in and ask the most frustrating question every fan of everything has had to ask themselves in the last few years – can you separate art from artist? But it’s no matter – God Complex is less about answering the question and more about pointing a finger at every fake and fraud that begs forgiveness because they got caught. And in that, they may be a “gentle” party, but “please forgive me while you pray at my feet” is a statement wrapped in barbed wire scraping the bleeding arms of the patriarchy. “I hope you diligently pray” is a beautifully veiled threat.

The video expresses the concept in a gorgeously surreal narrative as the “god” and his black hands play paper doll with the otherwise powerless protagonist. She’s caught in the narrative of a figure that admires her beauty but controls her every move when he’s not swallowing her whole in his palm. He adorns her life with symbols of control like crucifixes, instruments of torture, and chess pieces. A couple of moments make me wonder if he thinks himself Zeus, and his doll an amalgamation of his many wives represented by many legs. Either way, it’s gorgeous, start to finish.

Time to rant: Does an artist deserve to be separated from their art? This question has been bugging the funk out of all of feminists for eternity and everyone else since #MeToo. I struggle with this as someone who LOVES a lot of art from men. I’ve been let down by so many artists, ones that I really connected with and whose art has illustrated pivotal moments of my life. I’ve navigated that with all of the same dissonance. I can never forgive some performers, but I can forgive others once I weigh my discomfort with their crimes. I try to forget some songs and consider others guilty pleasures. There are performers who go unscathed despite multiple reports of violence, and I watch them and seethe. And then there are performers now that would deeply hurt me if they ended up #MeToo-ing someone. I force myself to keep remembering to “kill my idols” but it is so hard when the voices that often speak to me belong to to the same half of humanity that commits 97% of sexual violence.

“God Complex” is the second single from the upcoming album God Complex, hitting the ground on February 17th. Check them out!

Gentleparty.com

Gentle Party Youtube

Gentle Party Instagram

Hailing from Corpus Christi, Texas, J-Minu$ is a true hustler in every sense of the word. With an early attachment to music at a young age, J began recording and writing music at the age of 16. J-Minu$ brings a unique sound to the industry with a cinematic approach at contempoary bedroom pop & hyper pop with musical influence from the punk wave of the ’80s along with modern superstars such as Juice World, All American Rejects, Michael Jackson, Post Malone, & Big Sean. Priding himself in his hard work and dedication towards his craft, J has been recording music out of his family’s food truck while juggling a full-time job and various side hustles since 2016. Early in his career J-Minu$ has released over 70 tracks independently with a song going viral to earn him a verification badge on Instagram before completely rebranding himself and starting fresh in 2021. Since hitting the scene with his unique sound J-Minu$ has released two singles that have garnered him attention of blogs such as Buzz Music, Tha Produce Section, Roadie Music. J-Minu$ has managed to build himself an online community with various underground music outlets and streamers supporting his music such as iListenLive & The Creative Hills. J-Minu$ is not anticipated to slow down in 2021 with a project on the way with eOne’s Audio Network (music library) and a debut album release this summer there is much more anticipated from this South Texas artist.

NEW SINGLE “OPTIMISTIC” OUT ON JUNE 9TH: PRE SAVE HERE! https://jm.cubemusic.ca/optimistic

“Optimistic” is the 3rd single from J-Minu$ releasing June 9th anticipated to be followed up with a debut EP releasing later this summer. This track tells a story of the internal struggle J-Minu$ has faced in his music career. Although J has been finding success with his new sound, he uses this song to speak how he’s been feeling stuck in the same spot despite these recent accomplishments. In this song, J delivers a catchy memorable chorus spreading an optimistic approach to his craft to tie together this story of his struggle while bridging together verses that outline the mental and emotional barriers he has been facing. This song speaks to the mental health struggles that musicians face every day while taking an optimistic approach to the mentality and vision they need to keep persevering through these obstacles. J hopes this song speaks to listeners to keep positive throughout their journey; although they may not be seeing changes right away from their successes it is important to keep moving forward and manifesting their goals.

(*ALL ARTIST FEATURES INFO IS SUPPLIED DIRECTLY FROM THE ARTIST(S))

Dream Finisher is a self-aware record. Plain and simple. High on the current times and slick like a greaser’s coiffed hair. Ear LSD on a sonic bed of nails. Andee Blacksugar has fleshed out the end of his 2020 trilogy with his signature moves all rolled into one. Smartass lyrics adorn lead single “Twatted”,  “Nobody cares what’s inside your underwear or who went to your fucking party.” A record and sound that all the current soulless pop jackoffs could only dream of having their merry men cook up. Instead, this whole recipe was concocted mostly in a Brooklyn apartment by an eloquent dude with beautiful hair and guitar licks for days who DOES NOT CARE what you think. After one listen you’ll be ready to go for a victory lap. Tracks like “A Prayer Trapped” will get your head bopping, kinda Beach Boys meets Blur.  It bleeds NYC (“Thrill of a Lifetime”) and as much concrete as that may elude to it easily blasts you off to outer space in “Don’t Make It Easier”. Certainly a great achievement, better still is that Dream Finisher is part of a trilogy just as lush and lavish as it’s two counterparts. For those of us who love substance to their music, Black Sugar Transmission has all you need and more.

For enthusiasts of Shudder To Think, Abandoned Pools and Blur

And hey, if you like this review please poke your head in to my reviews of part one and two of the BST 2020 thrillogy. 

 https://musicsurvivalguide.org/2020/06/03/black-sugar-transmission-the-flowering-album-review/

https://musicsurvivalguide.org/2020/01/29/black-sugar-transmission-wandering-into-the-bullseye-album-review/

I’m tellin’ ya, you gotta give it to a patient, consistent and polite artist. Jerad Finck is THAT guy. And, to top it off he’s got some great sounds to go right along with it. Jerad and I have been back and forth for a few months to get him a feature on M-S-G and well, life happens and it’s already October, (BOO!). I am happy to finally give them/him a bump.

Blazar is hot on the heels of brand new single “Precious”. Great timing too, it’s upbeat, fun, danceable. All the things needed to close your eyes for a few moments on such a soulless year. No surprise it’s as good as it is, the work has been put in and quite a team was behind it.

“Precious” was released on September 18 and was produced by BLAZAR & Anthony (Ajax) Resta (Duran Duran, Elton John, Perry Farrell). It was mixed by Mark Needham (The Killers, Imagine Dragons, Shakira, Stevie Nicks) and mastered by Hans Dekline (U2, Lisa Loeb). It was written by BLAZAR, Anthony (Ajax) Resta, Jay Condiotti (Collective Soul, Raven-Symone, Tiffany). So, yea…HOLEY MOLEY.

Want to hear more? Check out the song “Better” which debuted in February before the utter chaos we have all come to know.

As always, I am happy to share and spread music that you may not know. From the underground to the outer space, it’s been featured here at some point. So, give Blazar a chance. Tell your friends and just spread the word. Together we have to keep art alive, especially now.

(*ALL ARTIST FEATURES INFO IS SUPPLIED DIRECTLY FROM THE ARTIST(S))

Sometimes dedication that starts with a grain of sand can turn into a whole beach. And in the case of UNFITS, they are creating their own island. Check out the wonderful interview below (courtesy of a mystery guest) with lead Unfit El Seuño for a glimpse into his and the bands world. They also seem to have a hell of a new single and video on their hands. Get clicky and check it all out below!

1) You’ve spoken in other interviews about the theory that we are all living in a simulated reality. Can you tell us more about this theory and how it impacts your music and videos?

At this point it is more than a theory, it’s a probability. Meaning, it is statistically more probable that we are living in some form of a computer simulation than living in base matter. I think both the scientific community and modern video game development makes it irrefutable that we are probably living in some form of a simulation. That then begs the question of whether this is the only simulation or whether there is a multi-verse with many simulations. It reminds me of the famous poem by Edgar Allan Poe “A Dream Within A Dream.”  If that’s true, then I am a dream. That’s why my name is El Sueno.

2) What went into the decision to film the “Satisfy Me” video in different countries around the world? Which of the destinations was your favorite filming location?

Having been to 50 countries so far, we have such a wanderlust spirit. I literally want to go to all 215 countries as soon as we are able to travel when the COVID-19 pandemic is over.  It made sense to travel to 7 countries for the music video because the synopsis is that the lead protagonist is being inserted “experiences” via computer chips that he can’t distinguish from reality. In keeping with that theme, we wanted a wild range of experiences from bathing in an active volcano in Tuscany, racing race cars through the Dolomite Alps, riding giant squids in Moorea, swimming with giant tiger sharks in Tahiti and shooting RPG’s with the military in Ukraine.  The French Polynesian islands are my favorite.

3) Tell us about the band’s writing process. Which comes first, the music or the lyrics?

Sometimes the words come first, other times the melody comes first. There is no rigidity in songwriting, everything is flexible. Sometimes it’s neither the melody nor the words and it’s an idea or concept that comes first. Everything comes from the endless sea of consciousness and every writer is merely a conduit, not the originator of the song.

4) Do you find yourself revising a lot, or do you like to write automatically?

I am constantly revising everything. Nothing is ever “done” in art, the time in creating merely expires. That’s what makes a life in the arts so appealing, the dynamic flux and continuous tweaking of everything.

5) How do you feed your imagination?

Through creative visualization, travel, literature, experimenting with other instruments, watching documentaries, women, friends, speed, adventure. The point is that imagination likes momentum. It could be physical momentum or mental momentum. Imagination likes to jump into an already moving stream.

6) Have any of the other performers and artists you’ve met given you any words of advice that you’ve particularly taken to heart?

Sometimes performers tell other performers to “imagine the whole audience is naked” in order to overcome stage fright. I tried imagining the audience naked once and was very sexually turned on and it did nothing for battling stage fright. So I think that is bad advice. On a more serious note: demo your songs on a piano or acoustic guitar. If it can hold an audience’s attention at the most primitive level, it will certainly be compelling when all the production and arrangement is completed.

7) What are your feelings about performing live? Do you have any heroes who inspire you to perform a certain way?

What Ed Sheeran is doing live is really amazing and inspiring for me. I am also a big fan of Matthew Bellamy and showmanship in general like Hugh Jackman.

8. What are your top five albums of all time?

> Dr Dre, 2001
> The Clash, London Calling
> Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home
> Michael Jackson, Bad
> Beatles, Rubber Soul

9) Who’s an underrated songwriter, in your opinion?

Carlos St. John, Towns Van Zandt and Kid Cudi.

UNFITS

TLQ

Welp, planets…stars…the heaven’s, have all aligned, and 75% of Spilt Milk era Jellyfish have reunited to bring us THE LICKERISH QUARTET! (:holy bananas:) And over the last week or so they have been going hard on getting the word out, and it is a beautiful thing. By the sounds of it Roger, Eric and Tim have A LOT in store for us. And it is great timing as many of us are social distancing and the world is dealing with COVID-19. Music is always medicine.

Anyways, did you hear the first single, “LIGHTHOUSE SPACESHIP”? They have released two videos, one being standard and the other being a new lyric video. Check it out below and prepare to drool over the delicious sounds and production that only was expected.

Lighthouse Spaceship

The band is currently impacting on all major socials and Youtube. May 15th will see the release of the first of 3 EPs, Threesome Vol. 1 – Check out the message from the guys below!

Follow along and keep up to date on the bands main website at:

LQ headquarters

And, please stay safe out there. Peace and Love.