Friday, July 22, 2022

Authentic Examination on New Music and Video Releases

Four exciting new releases serve as the comprehensive focus here in the July DaveCromwellWrites Feature. Along with trips to the beach and numerous free live shows in the park (one of the truly great thinks about summertime around these parts), time has been carved out to investigate and ruminate on some of the more thought-provoking new music releases. Old friends and new share space here, with descriptive representations fully accompanied by the music they choose to share with the world.

The good folks over at Big Stir Records have a new full-length album release by LA psych-pop rockers Maple Mars. Titled “Someone's Got To Listen,” it's the band first album in over a decade, and debut for this label. Playing to their strengths honed from years as recording artists and legendary live performers, soaring harmonies, layered guitar interplay, lock-down rhythms and deft songwriting run through all ten of the album's song. What follows here is a track-by-track analysis and commentary on each one.

Punchy power-pop and soaring vocal harmonies feature prominently right from the start on opening track “Useless Information.” “Twisted truth – they just confuse” perfectly encapsulates tracks titles and overall sentiment. Lead single “Gliding” emerges out of piano chords and harmonica before launching into the songs driving thematic melody. A serious Beatles/Badfinger vibe is felt through a harmonic styling that emphasize multi-tiered vocals, blended guitars and urgent percussive undercurrent. Tempo changes create emphasis on verses, while open space guitar figures provide necessary instrumental breaks.

Initial album teaser “Goodbye California” falls into an easy mid-pace groove, with lyrics stating how “everything is bright – everything is shiny -every sin is disguised – hiding in clear moon sunshine.” Even a “warm breeze” won't help you “when California falls to the sea.” A tasty guitar solo leads the track out to it's conclusion. “Anchors Aweigh” jumps to a quicker progression, with double-time snare-drum shots and downward driving guitar line. “I wonder if the winds of change will become a force” and “the salty dog will stay the course” bookend the metaphor of this cuts overall theme. Busy drum fills, rubbery bass and bouncing guitar figures all contribute to an integrated musical accompaniment.

Someone Take The Wheel” bursts out of a chaotic psych-rock feel, with forceful clattering drums and FX-laden guitars. While vocal harmonies over top attempt to harness a level of control, the “Helter Skelter” instrumental approach underneath threaten to shake everything wide open. Points for the lyrics “can't see the forest for the sleaze.” A syncopated snare, bassdrum and highhat beat kicks off “Teenage Dream” as it drops into a chugging, good-timey groove. Sweet call-and-response harmonies drive the hook that goes “wasting time – try to make the scene – moving through those weekend dramas – chasing the teenage dream.” Melodic guitar riffs ride over top of crowd noises, adding a cinematic effect to it all.

Sleepwalking” comes on vocal heavy right from the start, with a lyrically dense storytelling prose. Conjuring up imagery of “dark dreams” and “standing in a forest wondering what it all means.” The guitars emphasize harmonics over the now-expected hard charging drumming. Ethereal textures introduce “Silver Craft” exhibiting an initial floating sensation before the main progression commences. Morphing between a more cerebral sonic approach and the energetic power-pop already established previously creates an interesting mix of atmospheres. The space travel references appears to dovetail nicely with the album covers imagery.

The organ, piano and synth driven “Crooked Smile” touches on a softer psychedelic approach. With no percussion, acoustic and electric guitars are carefully woven into the mix, blending seamlessly with the lush vocals.  Album closer “Redemption” benefits from a single guitar and voice intro, before launching into the full band progression. Initially touching on the topic of “deception” and “trust,” hand-claps punctuation is sprinkled in at points for catchy hook benefit. “Is there any justice for the sacrificial lamb?” is juxtaposed against “the corruption of the damned.” While pondering those issues, elevating guitar figures rises to the stratosphere and land on a melody driven turnaround. An unexpected keyboard-synth interlude emerges with a minute to go echoing BeatlesI Am The Walrus” vibes. Even the vocals that follow take on a Lennon-esque feel, leading the track out to it's denouement.

Listen to their song "Gliding" here:

The album is out now as a deluxe vinyl LP and CD at Big Stir Records, as well as streaming worldwide.

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Andres Alfonso Lugo is a Baltimore-based recording artist who's work has been featured here on DCW numerous times. While those previous reviews focused on the bands he belongs to, the current work here being delved into is his solo project Los Dientes Hundidos en la Garganta. With that phrase translating into “the sunken teeth in the throat,” the music created is less ferocious (though still quite powerful) than that expression would suggest. Inspired by Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Robin Guthrie and minimalism, Andres provides guitar, loops, programmed drums, bass and synth, while enlisting contributions from Ferran Pont Verges (Die Noia Futuriszka) with guitars, voice and mixing on "Loops of Energy."

Rising out of a distant ambient mist, a singular bass guitar begins to rumble with purpose. Gentle synth waves ebb and flow around this central throbbing texture before the thump of snare, bass-drum and high-hat percussion enters the mix. Two minutes in and a sudden rush of shimmering distortion floods the sonic field, adding an uplifting quality over the already-established rhythms. With the centrally placed bass guitar providing both driving force and melodic changes, glistening guitars and looped atmospherics continue to expand audio horizons. A minute in further introduces voice-as-instrument via celestial choral layers. That is soon met with higher-register guitar notes, continuing the measured pace melody rise.

At five minutes in more lush chorusing fans out across the auditory spectrum, with keyboard synths becoming more prominent in moving the melody forward. What remains ever constant is the steady vibrating bass guitar right down the audio center, complimented by clear elemental percussion. The midway point sees the progression modulate back and forth momentarily, before continuing what feels like an ascension into the clouds. An overlay of incandescence emerges in the seventh minute, serving-up the quick-strum guitar that gaze-music aficionados love. Further on, a descending melody line finds it's way into the mix providing a complementary alternative to what has already come before. After nine and a half minutes, everything drops out except for the bass guitar and percussion, creating a momentary plateau. As the other elements return to the mix, strong guitar figures establish descending melody lines along with one more round of ethereal voices to the tracks final conclusion.

Listen to this sonic exploration here:

The track is available as a free download on bandcamp.

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Receiving news about a new project involving long-time fave David J (of Bauhaus and Love & Rockets fame) is always welcome. Busy as he's been over the last few years with revived live shows, hearing about brand new songs and group collaboration peaked curiosity. The debut album “A Free Society” by newly minted combo Night Crickets also includes Vincent DeLorenzo (from Violent Femmes) and multi-instrumentalist Darwin Meiners. Drawing their name from a conversation about something David Lynch said, the recordings came together via audio files shared between Los Angeles, Milwaukee, London and San Francisco. The band has now released a new music video for the song “The Unreliable Narrator,” which receives a full review below.

Opening the video with a silhouette image of three antenna-headed “night crickets,” those of us familiar with Love and Rockets can't help think of “The Bubblemen” from L+R's early history. A deep voice recites the song's title line as hypnotic drone, cavernous jungle drums and clacking percussion play behind images of three men slowly passing by. That familiar David J bass guitar presence is soon felt as black and white images of the band rise mysteriously upward. Color soon enters the visual mix in form of psychedelic backdrop, as more band figures are shown moving their fingers in slow-motion. Vocals commence in full this time, spelling out how our “unreliable narrator gets his intel second hand, from disreputable sources.” Slow moving pictures of bandmembers alternating between black and white and color combined with billowing clouds of smoke add mystery to the unfolding story of having “an axe to grind and a cache of theories – the conspiratorial kind.”

An engaging instrumental respite emerges at the song's midway point, creating the sensation of a dark ride through mystical lands. An eyeball with flames shooting out the top of it serves as yet-another graphic form in the video. As the song's title is repeated hypnotically, you can feel the music shifting underneath with suble changes in rhythm and melody. Impressive snare drum accents and bass guitar runs are soon followed by more dynamic guitar chords. Putting a close to the whole story with final lines “you can't believe a word he says, so you're foolish if you do,” puts a bow on the whole package, as does actual night cricket chirping attached to the very end.

Check out this curious video and song here:

The Vinyl Release of A Free Society is out on July 29 via Omnivore Recordings

Two Dave's share a moment after the show.

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An inquisitive individual who records and plays live music under the moniker 77 Apes has caught the attention of DCW through their steady persistence. It is a solo artist endeavor where lyric-heavy songs are accompanied by acoustic and electric guitars, fleshed-out with background rhythm tracks. Brooklyn born and now Connecticut based, the songwriter sings about desperation, hope, love, sex and life itself. Their recently remastered and released track “Devil Knows Devil,” now garners the full CromwellWrites deep dive analysis.

Steady, chunky percussion and plucky chugged electric guitar introduce the seriously determined “Devil Knows Devil.” Bright strummed chords accompany opening lyrics “I wake up this morning – walk out into the rain. Gotta get to the city – on that downbound train.” A gritty tale of life today from a storytellers point-of-view, structurally sound melodic chord changes enhance lyrics about “souls” in “pain.” A twist comes on the title line reveal of not needing “to tell this to you because – Devil know Devil babe.” This resolution implicates at least one individual, or perhaps a part of us all. A rise in both vocal and audio intensity commences on the next pass through with larger society concerns pairing “old man poor” with “young man's crime.” While we further discover there's “no absolution” or shot at a “second chance,” a piercing, steady guitar solo cuts through the midpoint with appropriately dramatic effect. Pivoting to acoustic guitar for a more intimate reading, literary references to “Bacon's Triptych” and “Poe's purple pain” draw together “the words of the sages.” The final push makes effective use of extended electric guitar notes behind acoustic strumming leading to the closing line “Guess I'll see you coming – there on judgement day.”

Check out this track right here:

Follow all things 77_Apes via their Linktree.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Literary Observations of New and Recently Released Music and Video

Creative individuals are driven by a need to make something new no matter how many times they may have conjured up something before. One way to spark emerging ideas is through new partnerships and alliances. Drawing on familiar sources of inspiration and bouncing those ideas off a complementary musical mind can lead to something unexpected. The June DaveCromwellWrites delves into four separate releases that examine this approach and the positive results arising out of it.

Frequently featured label Patetico Recordings returns to the DCW realm with a new collaborative effort Heliocentric Overdrive and their debut EP “Weightless.” Formed via DIY internet track sharing, drummer Anthony Gatta and singer-songwriter/guitarist Tom Lugo now share their melodic-pop tracks fueled by precise and frenetic interpretations.

Lead off track “Reveling” builds out of a clarion ring guitar figure, before bass and drums quickly join in to set the rhythmic progression off into full motion. Vocals come on initially in an understated, effects free manner, offering a conversational style question “do you want to fly -do you want to touch the sky?” It's a song of delight and celebration, where you “make your move,” because “there's no room for doubt.” All vocals effects are reserved for the hook-chorus that rides a guitar-wave of speed-strummed melody while proclaiming having “had the time of my life.”

It's straightforward pop for sure, with the drums showing restraint while still propelling everything forward via subtle accents on highhat and snare. Like all great three and a half minute song, there's a vibrant guitar segment two minutes in delivering additional melodies and allowing the drums to stretch out with some rolls. A special nod to closing production elements where instruments are pulled back and an upper and lower register vocal are revealed.

Title track “Weightless” immediately establishes a more forceful percussive statement, with the opening beat jumping out first with hard struck toms, snare and jingle shake. A wall of sheering guitar wave commences with Johnny Ramone energy, while another melody rides over top of that. Like the image depicted on this EP's cover, a quick cut tale of space launch - “counting down – all systems go – time to blast off – rocket thrust – lift off” come in rapid fire succession. The chorus hits with expected hyperdrive momentum, extolling the virtues of “ripping through the atmosphere-feel the thrill of being here-weightless, floating in space.” However it is the unbridled instrumental breaks that follow (both here and on the songs end-out) that are the true highlights. On these segments the melody rises, with both percussion and bass guitar let loose underneath to throttle on in a relentlessly joyous cacophony.

Listen in on this cut and see if you agree:

Find out how to pick up this recording here:

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If it seems like there is yet-another Shoredive Records artist being featured here on this site every other month or so – well, that's because it's true. One of the busiest, most-consistent labels out there, something new, exciting and previously unheard of appears in our listening sphere that simply can't be ignored. This time it's mysterious dreamgaze from Montpellier/Paris going by the somewhat painful name 40 Days Without Water. While contemplating how anyone could even survive that scenario (unless the water was replaced with some other beverage) the music produced by this collective is utterly sublime.

Lead off track and featured single “Shed” starts with a higher-register, piercing guitar texture chiming over a muted undercurrent. A mere :15 seconds of that is met with what is considered more “gazey” guitars, rumbling percussive undercurrent and those vague, emotive vocals synonymous with this musical genre. The snare beat is crisp and on time, guitars are strummed in quick speed tandem, bass throbs and those vocals are delivered with smooth, elongated cool. A minute in and drums get busier with repeated snare rolls until it hits an ambient plateau. It's almost dub-style here, with distant sounds providing the background for an upfront bass guitar segment. Hissing waves and another round of voices begin filling in the spaces as the bass-line fades back somewhat with snare-beats reentering the mix. It's full-on forward again until another plateau is reached, this time less sparse with wind rushes and melody tones remaining. The final minute pushes ahead with a strong drum beat leading it all out to it's ultimate fade.

Chore” rises up out of some mysterious void, before settling into a quick military rolling snare-drum pattern, deep-tone guitar line and soft-vocal delivery. Sheering “gaze” guitars soon enter the mix that now feature more elevated voices, along with staccato, fragmented percussion. This formula continues to delight with additional sections playing off the simpler “Cure-like” guitar-bass melody interplay floating over those unpredictable broken-pattern drums.

We Woke Up Early” builds around a clean bass guitar pattern, cymbal rushes and FX-laden vocals that give off a dream-like sensation. Continuing this meditative state for three and a half minutes, the calm is ultimately shattered with an explosive wall of guitars powering the tracks final 2 minutes.

Listen to these tracks (and more) from this wonderful recording here:

Acquire the EP Here - and keep in touch with all things Shoredive Records via their Socials Here and Here.

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Another independent label discovery is the Peruvian based Chip Musik Records. It specializes in ambient, electronic, chillwave, experimental, glitch, dreamgaze, vaporwave and experimental artists from all over the world. Their latest release Lego 15 – Pulsos de Bosques (Forest Pulses) is an extensive collection of music from Central/South American and other international locales.

Opening cut Miyagi Pitcher - Akiraka ni suru (を明らかにする) is a gentle meditative offering that relies on looping ambience, alien vocal snippets and beat-free environment. A Dream Short - Better day (Italia) follows that up with more traditional songcraft. Melodic, bass-heavy synth pulses provide the rhythmic basis for vital female vocals delivered in tandem. An active percussive element enters the mix, along with guitar layers adding a decidedly alternative rock feel. Big Channels - Sigue orbitando (Argentina) churns out the bliss of sawing between two-chords over a drum machine, with effects on the guitars providing much of the musical variations. Strong, single guitar notes emerge at the mid-point (and end) adding further movement overall.

Cielo Oceano - “Eclipsed” returns a familiar collective to this site, having reviewed their work previously here. This new track emerges out of ambient build-up of wind rushes leading into a slow shuffle drum beat groove. Against that two-pronged backing of swirling rushes and ambling beat are vocals presented in deep, breathy cadence. A sheering wall of high-wind guitars surge up in the mix and threaten to obsure everything else going on underneath. Snippets of vocal melodies can only be made out – until a sudden shift and the harshness is temporarily pulled back. That easy shuffle beat and soft vocal delivery step forward once more, and the cycle repeats. Halfway in a guitar solo (of sorts) commences amid the chaos, proving one more audio element to latch onto. A final round of MBV-style (mini “holocaust”) noize consumes the tracks final 2 minutes, fading out under slow moving melodies over top.

Listen to this incredible track here:

There are many more remarkable tracks on this compilation, which can be acquired here:

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Sometimes a record is released in a low key manner with little fanfare, and the band moves right to playing live as a means of showcasing this new material. Such is the case with Tight Lips debut EP, which was released at the end of March. A quick scan of recorded evidence shows the tracks were first put out individually throughout last spring and summer. With bands and audiences reconnecting at live shows again, the opportunity to focus on this previously uninvestigated recorded music now presents itself. Aware that it's the collaborative work of many-time reviewed (in multiple iterations) Jasno Swarez and Abdon Valdez, indicates a high-quality output.

Initial release “Leaving the Planet” evolved from drum and bass riffs into a fully-formed three minute-plus melodic, danceable rhythm pop song. Drawing lyrical inspiration from futurists J.M. Godier and Lex Fridman spark the creativity for original prose. As the angular guitar melody and crisp percussion drives the track forward, signature lyric "I want to feel what it's like to fly, I want to fly when it feels like I could die," is delivered with nuanced flair, followed by the hooky “I'm alright, I'm alright, I'm alright – yeah.” Fluid guitar-line turns lead into musings on “the atmosphere in me to the moon in the sky.” The pure enthusiasm is felt completely on the beat-less, keyboard only segment stating “I wanna be unstoppable.” A rock-solid instrumental interlude follows, locking down that melodic-dance appeal. Going introspectively deeper with lyrics “all I can hear, and all I can feel – freak out with fear I knows not real” leads to “maybe neither am I?” Ultimately the uncertainly is pushed aside with the return to dramatic sonic plateau and the declaration “I wanna be – a trillion miles away from here – with you.” Roughed-up guitar chords, keyboard and that steady beat leads everything out to conclusion.

Follow-up track “Black Rainbow” ruminates on the human mind and how we are presently faced with technological evolutionary stress. Fuzzy bass-bounce guitars and trip-hop percussion powers the track along momentary synth-twinkle grooves. Space is carved out through drop-outs and stark power-chord moments, emphasizing the songs overall theme. Choosing to “be a light” and “do right,” focuses on human choice that rises above “the sums of my thoughts ran on living circuitry.” Whether intentional or not, the riff from Jimi Hendrix “Third Stone From The Sun” is echoed a various points throughout the song. It serves as a launching point for the sinewy guitar riffs and extended percussion that follows.

Center placed on the EP is the popular YouTube track (impressive at 111K+ views so far) “Nearly Nude.” Taking the previously established theme of human-to-cyber existence (in this modern world we now live) even further, striking representative video imagery creates a “Max Headroom” style experience. Open note chords and tweetering bird sounds introduce the audio as the first “head” flickers into view. A walking bassline sets the groove in motion as a second “head” (and shoulders) pops up with appropriate visualized distortion. Sparse and minimal audio serves the track well, as vocals about “feeling like a hologram” sync perfectly with the imagery. Jasno's soulful vocal delivery and Abdon's fingersnap/handclaps on percussive moments add one more level of appeal. Keyboard strokes at opportune moments (like when everything else drops out) underscore how well-produced this whole song is. The bass guitar drive is just funky enough against spacious ambience, while lyrical passages emphasize android confusion. “I fragmented my mind” leads to “I am a human being with circuitry made to bleed and see sunlight. I think I know that I'm me – because I'm alive. This is the person I programmed myself to be.”

Check out this trippy (electronic-soul) song and video here:

Deeper cut “Digital Death” emerges out of atonal synth drones before drums, bass and guitar kick in with an angular progression. The movement is downward-circular with bass guitar (once again) an initial driving force. Self-discovery becomes the primary lyrical focus (“Try – try to be me – should be easy”) and yet one more “digital killing” seems necessary. Open note chords take the instrumental spotlight later on, along with a 20 second (or so) guitar solo. “Immortal Living” pulls elastic, bouncing guitar chords into focus, alternating those strokes against snare and high-hat percussion. Allow ample space for vocals, the running theme on our high-tech lives looks closer at cellphone dependence. “I am processed on a screen,” and “through the internet – I can outlive death.” However, it is the human component (once again) that garners the bigger musical moments. At the 2:20 mark a guitar segment begins but it abruptly truncated by single twinkling keyboard notes – before the initial cycle starts over. That's as much a statement as any of the lyrics.

Final cut “People” bubbles up from an ominous electronic field with piercing keyboard notes stabbing out a slow moving melody. Deep buzzing bass joins in along with solid trap drum percussion. As the title suggests, a litany of individuals are named, both well-known icons along with those known only to close family. “I'll never meet Elvis Presley, I never met my dad's mom, I'll never know Jimi Hendrix, my mom's dad is dead and gone. My sister's got a new last name, and I'll never be Kurt Cobain.” Combining universal themes with a personal touch, the central theme “I don't wanna be alone” (paired to descending keyboard line) pulls everything together. Bonus points for the lines, “I'll never meet my great grandson, John Lennon or Johnny Cash. I saw Bowie on Lafayette now he's dead.” Although those three icons may have left this planet, their influence is still very much alive. Tight Lips now make a case for their own influence as well.

Find out how to access everything Tight Lips related via their official site.

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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Individual Review Analysis on New Music and Video Releases

Four exciting new audio and video releases are the focus of this sites diligent critical attention. Storied legends with lengthy discographies (still going strong) share space here with newer established artists along with debut entries as well. With touring now back in full form, some here are about to commence on, or are already in the middle of nightly live shows. The rewards of deep listen analysis inspire coherent thoughts on these sound and vision communications.

Evolving from an already-established brand name to an entirely new one can be a risky move, however PR Rep extraordinaire William Z appears to have pulled this off almost effortlessly. Changing over from New Dark Ages to Moon Coil Media shows no slow-down in the distinct style of artists presented. One of the most prominent and exciting new entries is the latest just-released album by legendary gothic death-rock pioneers Christian Death. With their long history that dates back to original formation in the 1980's, equal parts adoration and controversy have surrounded them ever since. The focus here is strictly on their current music stemming from this 17th studio album, however anyone interested in researching their long and sometimes contentious history will find no lack of opinions in both print and video to satisfy anyone's curiosity.

New album “Evil Becomes Rule” is a continuation of themes presented in their previous album “The Root Of All Evilution.” Far from the simple exploitation that some death-metal bands may overuse the word “evil” in their titles, original formation band leader Valor Kand explains the connotation references “the evil within our society,” within our day-to-day lives. Co-collaborator Maitri (who has been a member since 1991) contributes a complimentary presence as bassist, song writer, and female vocalist.

A creative and elaborate video accompanies featured track “Beautiful,” adding gorgeous imagery to an already powerful song. As the video opens overlooking a tranquil lake, an island with high-spire architecture reveals the voice and figure of a priest speaking the words “I'd like to welcome you all on this sad day. As we mourn the loss of our friend” (echo, “our friend, our friend – taken from us . . . ”). Snowy grounds pan closer to Valor playing a mournful violin, as the screen splits to reveal a ballet dancer engaging in their own art of physical movement. Tinkling bells share space in the mix alongside deeply resonant violin tones while tom-tom drums accent the forward transition. With the dominant melody riff underway, it's full-on rich textures are boldly enhanced by Maitri's bass guitar.

Cutting to a painted red house with green frame doorway, Maitri evokes the likeness of a Germanic Warrior Queen adorned in jeweled forehead band and full-length long black coat with brown piping that she seductively opens while delivering her lyrics. “Golden promise- face against the wall. Burning candles – you whisper – I listen” is declared, as a driving guitar line pairs with bass and crisp-hiss drumming complements simultaneously. Live figures of Valor and Maitri stand like guardian statues outside the stone church as the track progresses into it's instantly catchy, dominant hook.

I want you to look beautiful – at my funeral – at my funeral” she sings in full passionate voice as Valor's magnetic guitar hook matches pace with amplified appeal. Partying cabaret dressed and painted revelers at this celebratory funeral party (taking heed of the request that you “look beautiful”) is cut between shots of Maitri in split-screen imagery at her own death party, as well as in outdoor Nordic settings.

Oh, so sorry” the second verse begins - “while I wipe my tears away.” “A voice that whispers – a voice that sings along. A whisper – whisper – I listen – I liS-ten” (sung with ascending Siouxsie-Sioux-style accent ending words). Immediately back into the earworm-hook-laden chorus, more shots of Valor and Maitri outside and within the church, displaying it's iconic religious imagery along with their own instantly recognizable logo. The pretty cabaret funeral party continues, accentuating a hybrid style of traditional goth with commedia dell'arte harlequinade pantomime. The final pass through chorus adds deeper tone enhancements while the party reaches it's ultimate high-point with exploding bursts of confetti.

Check out this amazing video:

The full album “Evil Becomes Rule” is currently available on digital and CD formats as well as vinyl LP variants in transparent blue, red marble and black colors.

Buy Via Season Of Mist – North America

Buy Via Season Of Mist - International

Find out more about Christian Death here.

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3 Robots Records is an indie label that focuses on music in the ambient, ethereal, dreamgaze, pop, electronic, and psychedelic styles. Having featured a number of their artists works here on this site over the past few years, a high-level of quality is always anticipated. A new release by the project Sueño con belugas (Spanish language meaning “I dream of belugas” - which are white whales) does not disappoint. The track “Normal” is now available, and will be included on an upcoming album “Memoria Cósmica Ep.”

Inspired by a 75 million year old rock formation in Thailand that when viewed from above, create the visual illusion of a family of whales. The track itself is a re-recorded update on a song resurrected from previous band sessions. The cut bursts out of the box immediately with bold electric guitars, throbbing bass and cymbal-wash enhanced drumming. Vocals are female fronted and in Spanish language, as the heavy sonics temporarily give way to rich acoustic guitar strumming. An overall airy quality is present early, with descending (then ascending) minor key vocal driven digressions. The heavy guitar and bass interplay quickly returns, providing stronger rock and roll hooks between verses.

The lyrics translate to a spiritual state of mind, approximating at something to the effect of “I'd rather be free. Swimming in nothingness. Regaining my wings. To be normal I stretch my mind on a precipice - I prefer to fly to the sidereal space - To be normal.” A fuller explanation of the song title is revealed within these lines, as is a poetic desire for the beluga to continue swimming. From the two minute mark onward (with vocals completed) instrumental passages take over, with emphasis on the original hook rhythm and an array of soaring guitars swirling above. A new, dominant melody emerges in the form of climbing guitar figures and harsh extended note textures. With that peak reached, a minute of after-effects fill the soundscape on a long-fade trajectory that reimages the oceanic world of whales.

Listen to and find out how to acquire this fascinating track here:

Keep in touch with 3 Robots Records here.

A previous review featuring this artist can be found here.

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With the recent release of her latest video and single “Tresor,” the evolutionary vision of musician Gwenno has reached a new pinnacle. In anticipation of her third full-length solo album, it now serves as the second one written and sung almost entirely in the Cornish language. “Tresor” (which translates to the word Treasure) will be released in full on July 1st. As someone who is fascinated with history and the cultural formation of people from the early ages onward, this writer is particularly impressed with Gwenno's dedication and influence in this regard. Her previous 2018 album Le Kov (The Place of Memory) introduced Cornish to the uninitiated (sending some of us down a rabbit-hole of research) expanding relevance internationally. This new album can only add to the interest in both Cornish history and it's ancient Celtic language.

The title track and it's accompanying video opens in split-screen on two separate doorways. Filmed in both her native Wales and on location in Cornwall, it's not much of a leap to surmise each doorway represents those respective locales. The mood and music is measured and dreamy, with tubular-bell ring floating on top of it's easy shuffle groove. With gentle hallucinatory overlays of images including flower petals in hand, Gwenno's dark-haired timeless-romantic image sings those mysterious words in soothing cadence. Self-directed and blending her own personal clips with film shot by Clare Marie Bailey, the fuller story of characters Anima and Animus (along with her own occult symbolism) are introduced through repeated glimpses of their presence throughout. The mood and editing suggests a desire to explore avenues influenced by surrealist filmmakers like Alejandro Jodorowsky.

When the chorus hits at approximately one minute in, you are reminded of what makes Gwenno's music so special. Lush background vocals support her captivating melody on top, with brief minor key forays followed by rising, fully voiced expression. Meanwhile the scrapbook style of images touch on 6th century Arthurian legend King of Kernow, along with passing country-sides (surely Tehidy Woods), fingers out windows and the artist herself on stony beaches. A tinkling keyboard melody serves as post-chorus instrumental break, while enchanting travelogue views of St. Ives, Cornwall are overlaid.

Along with all this beautiful sonics and beguiling vocal enunciation are lyrics that translate to the initial questions “do you want a crown upon your head and a woman at your feet? Do I want to fill a room with all of my will and feel ashamed?” The artist explains that the song questions what makes us human. How we have a conscious choice in making a positive or negative impact on our environment and everything around us. “You must fall to rise again, rise again. Touching, extinguishing a flame - A treasure.” It also serves as an homage to an older, analog world and in certain respects a farewell to the 20th Century, with technological advances coming on at a now exceeding rate.

There are other wonderfully engaging details popping up in the video, such as Gwenno wearing a curious cone-shaped high-spire headdress (created by fashion historian Lally MacBeth), red cape, and holding various ancient symbols. Additionally, two magical looking clay figurines appear near the end, a female form with rabbit ears, and a crumbling, cross-legged (buddah-like) configuration. With the traveling images, flower petals and glimpses of the artists face (including eyelash close-ups) flowing in and out, it all adds to the overall mystery and wonder.

Check out this wonderful song and video here:

Meeting the artist during her 2016 US Tour at Rough Trade in Brooklyn, NYC for her first solo album Y Dydd Olaf.

New album Tresor is due out July 1, 2022 via Heavenly Recordings / [PIAS]

Follow Gwenno on her socials here:

For additional research on the Cornish language, see here.

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Every once in a while something truly offbeat finds it's way here into the DCW metaverse, capturing the imagination and sparking further investigation. A collective calling themselves Seedsmen to the World are releasing their debut album on Blue Arrow and Birdman Records. Coming together as a collaboration between Detroit trance-drone practitioners Infinite River (Joey Mazzola, Gretchen Gonzales, and Warren Defever) and folk musician Ethan Daniel Davidson, blend the best of both those worlds.

Opening with the lengthiest piece [12:48] titled “Blood,” individual guitars are initially heard, via distant feedback, longer-held distorted tones and quieter arpeggios. It's a slow-burn build, with a sense of impending tension and mystery rising in these soundwaves. Adding drone elements are instruments found in various forms of Indian music like the harmonium (a keyboard reed or pump organ) and tanpura (plucked string providing a continuous drone). Vocals emerge in a haunting style, evoking an intimate familiarity. It's soon discovered those lyrics are recognizable as Bob Dylan's 1964-65 masterpiece “It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding).”

Those scathing words exposing the hypocrisy, commercialism, consumerism (and more) in our culture at that time (and ring truer than ever today) are now reexamined via Davidson's harrowing vocal rendition. With a deeper toned bass providing something of a steady undercurrent, floating waves of guitars cascade around Ethan's voice, delivering those lines more as a lament than critique. The observational genius of that original prose points out despite all our technological advances in the 55+ years since it was written, the failings of our society are still the same. The vocals take on a near pleading quality midway in on the lines “and though the rules of the road have been lodged - It's only people's games that you got to dodge -and it's alright, Ma, I can make it” (we hope).

photo credit Blue Arrow Records

There's subtle instrumental changes ongoing, descending elements, rising levels of drone, as yet-another still-relevant observation is sung “Advertising signs that con you - Into thinking you're the one - That can do what's never been done - That can win what's never been won, Meantime life outside goes on all around you.” After a brief instrumental interlude, the verse on “authority” which “they do not respect” and “despise their jobs, their destiny” and “speak jealously of them that are free” appears to include an original line “cultivate their flowers.” As the drone levels intensify, more forgiving lines like “I mean no harm nor put fault - on anyone that lives in a vault” are juxtaposed against the nihilism of “Propaganda – all is phony.” Reaching the ultimate conclusion, with instruments slowing subsiding, the final lines say it all: “if my thought-dreams could be seen - they'd probably put my head in a guillotine. But it's alright, Ma, it's life, and life only.”

Check out this expansive track here:

Find out how to connect and acquire this music Here, Here and Here.

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Friday, April 22, 2022

Primary Singles Reviews of New Music Releases

 Singles provide the focus for this month of April, spring bloom DaveCromwellWrites Feature. For every EP or Album release, there is often one particular or current song that serves the artists best as an introduction to their latest music. A broad field of geographical locations and sonic styles are covered in the reviews below. While frequently covered genres of dream-gaze and power-pop remain a constant, explorations into prog, symphonic and harsher metal appear as well. Familiar labels present new recording artists, while others find their way in on their own.

The folks at Shoredive Records are at it again, and instinctively knows what flies here at this site all too well. Their “new format, straight to the point” pitch method brings news of the labels 116th release featuring an artist out of Chicago called “Glitter Assassin.” That cool name along with the promise of noisy guitar layered indie pop with a heavy gazer influence will always garner a listen. The epic in length, six and a half minute lead single “Burning Next To Mine” ticks all the right aforementioned boxes, and as such receives full DCW analysis.

Deep twangy bass notes lead everything in as synths rise up from nearly inaudible to a loud dynamic swirl. With an electronic percussive clack the lush guitar melody begins in earnest, transporting the listener back to the golden age of late 80's/early 90's dreampop romanticism. As vocals begin with the line “criminals we lay, right next to defeat,” the tone and cadence is reminiscent of Richard Butler's impassioned rasp in his band The Psychedelic Furs. That touches of Bowie can also be felt makes sense as Butler was inspired by the Blackstar Alien as well. The guitars are used for maximum effect as echo lines following many of the lyrics presented (an excellent technique) and the bass guitar maintains it's necessary presence. If there's one slight criticism, the drum track is somewhat rudimentary. It could certainly benefit with a Colm Ó Cíosóig or Loz Colbert on the skins, but then again – any band would welcome those guys!

However the track lifts off to another stratosphere on the gorgeously lush chorus that begins “we can feel it taking over.” The pure shimmer of guitar chords propelling this beautiful melody forward perfectly captures the essence of Robin Guthrie's work with The Cocteau Twins and all the bands that followed him. As the chorus unfolds to reveal the song's title, the been-there-before sense that even in the act of lovemaking, some secrets still remain, with “your lies, burning next to mine.” Other elements creating delightful sonic experiences are things like the reverberated single guitar note Raveonettes-style breaks immediately following the chorus. Verse two delves further into visions of “heaven” and “deceit” while providing the albums overall theme of “stripping your beliefs.” A sudden dropout at the 4:23 mark leaves no other sound than a hum and tick, before bass guitar and snare drum rattle leads it all about in for the triumphant final choruses. Again, intuitive placement of descending/ascending guitar lines on this outro adds another level of exquisite melody to it all.

Listen to this incredible track below and find out how to acquire the full release here:

Connect with Glitter Assassin on their Social Media here and Shoredive Records here.

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Respected Label BIG STIR RECORDS rolls out the first in a series of singles highlighting Finnish power-pop guitar group The Bablers. Previously released in Japan and Finland only in 1998, the track "You Are The One For Me" has been newly remastered for a full global reissue in 2022. This lead single is from the forthcoming reissue of a newly remastered edition of the band's second album “Like The First Time.” On the single's original release, it garnered heavy airplay in Japan and received product placement attention while being broadcast during the heavily-viewed Tokyo marathon. Now remastered for release to new territories in a new millennium, this first track begins Big Stir's unveiling of the “lost” middle chapter of THE BABLERS' career – the Japanese Saga.

With snare drum and rolling toms intro, “You Are The One For Me” instantly kicks into power-pop gear as chiming/buzzing guitars mark out its upbeat progression. Singing the opening (title) line with John Lennon-esque tone, subsequent lines “you really turn me on” and “your eyes your eyes” double down on the captured spirit of early Beatles. Hitting the first change a half-a-minute in, “I never thought that this could happen” and “I never thought that this could be real” are separated by chiming Rickenbacker-style jangle. Further segments immediately follow - “oh, no no no” with punctuated chord changes “not for me.” Expanding the lyrical story about “a beautiful girl” and “proud that she loves me,” liner notes reveal it was written for a friend's wedding as a testament for their future life together. There's a sense of sheer joy in the instrumental sections that show how guitars, bass and drums locked together are all you really need for a perfect pop song. Add in those aforementioned Lennon/Beatlesque vocals (and jubilant lyrics) – with just a touch of keyboard harmonium melody enhancement in just the right places, and you have the ideal recipe for this magnificent song.

Check out this beauty here:


Keep in touch with all good things Big Stir Records here.

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Social media promotion can be as much of a “message in a bottle” (washing up on some distant shore) than intentional direct hit occurrence. An interesting musician recording under the name Friends from Moon found this site by searching Instagram hashtags (#musicreviewers, etc.) Knowing this is beneficial to all who are in need of connection in this regard. The artist in this particular instance is based out of New Delhi, India and specializes in Prog/Symphonic Metal, Alternative Rock, Soundtrack and Electronic/Ambient Music. Ritwik Shivam developed his band name after a hallucination trip under a full moon (a powerful force where “friends” can in fact be detected). His latest release “Astray” is a concept album in it's truest sense, covering themes of identity crisis, human decadence and alienation.

After prior singles releases, the sixth and penultimate storytelling track “Marvels beyond Madness” now arrives with a brilliantly animated lyric video. Clocking in just under 7 minutes in length, there is ample room to develop and expand upon a variety of musical themes. With the opening minute building out of foreboding ambiance, the sounds of industrial hum, tubular bells, rushing wind, clanging notes, and garbled noises of otherworldly nature serves as the basis for what follows. As metal-heavy math rock riffs commence adjacent to hyperspeed percussion, rough-hewn vocals commence with the story unfolding. “On my land – who's the butcher? Plague on the kin – betraying your creator” serve as the opening lyrical salvo. In keeping with the albums overall conceptual theme, the protagonist is confronted by a Lovecraftian monster-like entity which is, throughout, a metaphor for the darkness inside him. Just two minutes in and a number of distinct structural are experienced, with heavy guitars driving rhythms in frantic rising and descending directions, as drums pummel away in ferocious speed-metal patterns. The two and a half minute mark focuses solely on a :15 second space-rock guitar interlude (minus any backing) before returning to a full-on death-metal barrage.

Three and a half minutes in ushers in yet-another sonic change via an instrumental interlude that emphasizes keyboard chords, muscular percussion underneath and a rising bass guitar and is reminiscent of Chris Squire's dominating work with his band Yes. “Light a flame, just follow your instincts” commences the next driving metal section. This become more orchestral as it expands, with call and response vocals on lines “light a flame” followed by “quit running away.” Another cinematic plateau is reached at the 4:15 mark with everything dropping out once more leaving only the ominous sound of a void surrounding you. Chugging electric guitars return after :15 seconds or so, which suddenly leads into more defined thick buzzing metal guitar figures. Precision piston drums return along with another round of storytelling vocals that marries elements of what Rob Zombie does with more complex structures. Final vocals touch on the title line's meaning “show me your secrets – marvels beyond madness” and a resolution where death is no longer feared, in order to belong to a home.

Check out this incendiary track in all it's epic glory here:

Follow on their Facebook and Instagram

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Back in November of last year, this site reviewed the album “Winter Skin” by psychedelic dream pop and gazey indie music band EEP. The El Paso, Texas collective is now back with a side-band release called The Rosie Varela Project.  First single “Fault Line” from the coming album “What Remains” is now out and receives the DCW review below.  Additional singles are scheduled for future release leading up the full album drop on June 3.

Grainy synths and acoustic guitars open the current single “Fault Line.” Gentle background vocal “ahhhs” and tinkly piano work their way into the mix, adding to the moody atmosphere. Lead vocals commence in a soft, breathy manner as Rosie sings “He’s a fault line - He only wants to shake you up.” As the vocals develop to a fuller projection, drums emerges underneath the still floating ambiance. A bolder voice emerges with an impassioned “Hold on” segment, where those words are repeated with impressive nuanced distinctions. As the story unfolds, a sense of wary caution becomes evident with each passing line. Things get quiet at the two minute mark when the warning “so hold your breath” becomes a mantra lasting for a good twenty seconds.  At that point full instrumentation returns with ardent vocals singing out in full imploring to “let him pass by.” The sonics behind fill in with wonderful swirling motion, synths, rising background vocals and an overall psychedelic Sgt. Pepper-like feel.

Listen to this fantastic track here:

Connect with The Rosie Varela Project on Bandcamp and Instagram.

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