Ryan Gibson: Self Titled

Ryan GibsonRyan Gibson released Ryan Gibson on January 15, 2018.

Ryan Gibson is an eloquent, somber exposition. The intricate guitar work beautifully laces melancholy melodies and cynical lyrics, with a rhythm section that subtly drives and underlines. Songs paint dark vignettes of bitterness and city streets, affected by a reverence for mystery and solitude. The lyrics sometimes contrast the pretty melodies that contain them with their unabashed spite, boldly calling out the state of a world that is cruel and often shallow. But even here there are glimmers of hope and innocence. It is the work of an artist with the depth and resiliency to “transcend hell,” and still have the playfulness to sail the sewer in a paper boat.

The beauty of this album is in its subtlety. Harmonies that bring great depth are sometimes barely audible, where simplicity of sound is an illusory device. Each songs is meticulously crafted; each part is envisioned, played, and layered with the precision made possible by being the work’s sole creative source. This is an album one could listen many times and still continue to uncover nuances.

 

Listen and Buy Here: https://ryangibson.bandcamp.com/album/ryan-gibson

 

-WP

Ryan Gibson: Self Titled

To The Moon: Travel Music

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To The Moon is a three piece instrumental band from Baltimore, MD. Travel Music of 2017 will be their second release, and first with the current lineup. The album opens with space and mystery, building to a forward sound driven by the drums and bass. The minimalist sound lends to an atmosphere for clarity; each player is heard unmistakably, and contributes something invaluable to the sound. The songs are curious and experimental, adventurous and bold.

There is something on the edge of heaviness in songs like “Blood Orange,” and in the title track. These march at a steady, driving pace, determined to get some mission accomplished- possibly incognito. Some tracks could be in scenes of a modern day spy or action movie where the characters are definitely wearing sunglasses. Travel Music is goofy at times and very straightforward. But the guitar effects and edgy bass lines contain subtle dark undertones throughout, hinting at something thrilling and dangerous that is just beneath the surface. “Aliceanna” layers that with guitar and bass harmonies, and a screaming guitar solo that is so right.

Listen here: http://tothemoonband.com/

-W.P.

To The Moon: Travel Music

Lilac Daze: Sedated

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Lilac Daze is a pop-punk/post-grunge indie garage rock band from Frederick, MD. They have released three records since 2013, toured all over the east coast, and still, arguably, have not received the credit they deserve in their own hometown. Sedated, their latest six song EP has been played through my speakers more times than I can remember since its release in July 2014. That was around the time I had just begun to venture into the Frederick scene, moving just a short distance away from everything familiar near DC, knowing nothing about what I was in for.

The city of Frederick, friendly and welcoming at first, had gradually revealed itself to be the center of its own universe; one that is split down the middle into folk and heavy metal music, with room for little more than a few Weezeresque polished garage rock bands in between. I have been lucky enough to hear a hand full of great rock bands here with real originality and creativity, but they are hard to find. I would bet that there are lots more, practicing in basements and bedrooms just waiting for the right opportunity to be heard. Within the folk and metal genres there are ones worth hearing, but they will almost certainly have that opportunity since the scene caters to that. (End rant).

I had heard Matt’s other project, Cosmic Halitosis, play live on occasion, and even once shared a bill. Though I will admit I was put off by the name, I was instantly a fan of his catchy songwriting and lively, playful style. So I was not surprised to fall deeply in like with Lilac Daze. Sedated starts out strong with Frederick Rock City, the heartfelt, melodic song that sticks in my head sometimes for weeks at a time with the lines:

“I used to think all humans were inherently good
every time i’m wrong someone proves me right
what’s the riddle to this?
I think i’m too serious”

I will have to call this one my favorite, though the rest of the album certainly backs up the good first impression. These songs are all heavy and melodic, and abrasive in all the right ways. They have a fun and bouncy energy that makes for a great live show. There is something childlike about the lyrics– philosophical, disillusioned but innocent, and strikingly honest. This music has heart and passion. It’s the kind of music that gets real enough to physically lift you out of a bad situation through its words and conveyed emotions. The guitar and bass parts are straightforward and stark, and the tone is satisfyingly crunchy. The drums are solid, and seem to lead the whole operation. The band’s aesthetic is consistent and charming. They have all the makings of a band that will go far, and I hope they do.

by Wanda Perkins

Lilac Daze: Sedated

Caustic Casanova: Breaks

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Caustic Casanova released Breaks September 25th, 2015

Breaks is an album that has the sound of a timeless classic. Its heavy, rhythmically driven sound pays tribute to earlier doom metal and blues rock bands like Black Sabbath and Pentagram, but still comes across as authentic and original. The occasional spacey, atmospheric guitar sounds balance the cutting guitar and bass unison riffs, and the drums and bass are played together with the kind of precision that comes from years of musical dialogue. It is a well rounded sound, abrasive in all the right ways.

Listening to Breaks paints pictures of an epic adventure, fighting fire breathing dragons and carrying swords across dark mountains. The vocals are mixed back, sounding like cries through a dungeon wall. The three main characters take turns in the lead, each one vital to the sound. I have to say as a bit of a minimalist, I appreciate that there is nothing extra here. Every note and every beat is necessary, even with a bit of effected guitar. It is a bold statement in the face of the DC scene, which can become so cerebral and saturated with sounds of indie and dream pop that it loses a bit of the visceral, primal energy that is essential to good rock music. Caustic Casanova brings that energy in droves with the slow-heavy  Breaks, and they do it right.

You can listen and download the album via Retro Futurist here:  https://retrofuturist.bandcamp.com/album/caustic-casanova-breaks.

Catch their next show at Guido’s in Frederick, MD on November 28th, and look for more upcoming show dates here:  https://causticcasanova.bandcamp.com/album/breaks

by Wanda Perkins

 

Caustic Casanova: Breaks

Owl Like Creature: You’ll Find a Home

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An Album Review

Owl Like Creature released You’ll Find a Home June 14, 2015.

You’ll Find a Home is thirteen dreams of the nighttime forest captured in a jar. Stringed instrument weave intricate scenes of leaf-like patterns, and conversations between birds in treetops. The melodies are winding trails. These songs are elegantly crafted by rhythmic acoustic guitar and expressive vocals that sometimes change from male to female, painting a lovely air of mystery.

Subtly beautiful, You’ll Find a Home has the tone of a sweet sad lullaby. The writing is tasteful, mellow and complex, and leaves plenty of musical breathing space. It reaches into some dark places, but keeps the sense of honesty and wonder. Bright and playful intricacies are scattered throughout in songs like “Broke the 6,” and “Uplift,” and You’ll Find a Home covers a good range of emotional territory.

There is something enchanting about this record, and it’s the kind you might notice something new about each time you listen. You can stream or download the album here:

https://owllikecreature.bandcamp.com

soundcloud.com/owllikecreature

By Wanda Perkins

Continue reading “Owl Like Creature: You’ll Find a Home”

Owl Like Creature: You’ll Find a Home

Proxy States: Demo

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A Music Review

By Wanda Perkins

Proxy States’ Demo echoes the sounds of early alternative rock, with psychobilly guitar tones and a bouncy rhythm section. There is a fun energy in these tracks, contrasting lyrics that are sometimes dark and cynical. The songs are well structured, straightforward, and easy to follow.

The full range of influences is most apparent in the song “Frank,” starting out with a country blues feel, walking bass line and catchy vocal harmonies, then breaking down into a mellow groove. The whole thing infused with Keith Moon-like drum fills, keeping the energy high. The songs alternate between upbeat rockabilly punk, and dreamy alternative and classic rock feels. A song like “Change Your Mind” could easily become a drunken singalong, played to the right crowd.

The recordings have a live sound feel to them, and I would imagine this would be a really fun band to see live. You can listen to Proxy States Demo and find out about their upcoming shows around DC and VA here:

proxystates.com

Proxy States: Demo

Cartoon Weapons: Last Rites of a Living Legend

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An Album Review

By: Jeff Orrence

This is the kind of album that immediately grabs your attention. With a new yet familiar sound, this album really should be heard.

The talent in the first track is evident from the first two measures. For an introduction to a new band, it does an excellent job from start to finish. I’ve never heard a song like this before, and I love how much is being done right here. The guitar riff slides and squeals all over a melodic bass line and very solid drumbeats. I love bands like this. Every piece is equally heard, and doing so much to make the song more than the sum of it’s parts. It’s a whole sound, the kind of sound that people spend years trying to achieve. It’s impressive. The guitar solo later in the song really stands out to me. The way they go back in forth is really interesting, and the song ends just as powerfully as it started.

Tall eyes keeps the momentum going with great guitar licks and vocal harmonies. The timing changes are great and keep things moving and unpredictable. I like music that surprises me, and keeps me wondering what’s coming next. There’s something really comforting about the way the chords play against the heavily echoey vocals in the chorus. The guitar solos return here against a crunchy bass line. The bassist in this band is clearly very talented, and willing to show that to the world. A strong bassist can make a band go from good to great, and this is no exception to that.

Asphalt Anomie has a nice bass and guitar call and response. This is followed by the vocal tracks. This song has some very well written lyrics. “I’ve said it once and again and again, again, no yield. History is a slaughterhouse, you can’t cry at every meal.” That line in particular still sticks with me. There is a certain kind of intelligence and honesty behind these words that is uncommon in a lot of bands. It takes courage to write this way. There’s a story going on here, listen to it for yourself and find out what it means to you.

Crawlspace starts with a very nice clean fill. WIth the distant vocals, Cartoon Weapons is making sure it’s known that they are not going to be stuck in one kind of genre or sound. The versatility of the band and differences and nuance between each song keeps things fresh.  The bass line has a great slap/funk sound. The vocal harmonies, always present, really remind me of some of the best music of the 1970s. Great song, great dynamic writing.

Last Rites of a Living Legend, the title track, certainly earned it’s place. The clean guitar is back, and the bass line is on a different level. High on the fretboard, carrying along the floating melody. There are a lot of excellent drum fills on this song. It’s a very peaceful song. It reminds me of the times in my life where I would reflect on all the choices that I have made. The directions that I could have taken and being at peace with who I am. It taps into my head in a very cerebral way. This song, to me, sounds like a reaction to a challenge that was faced. All of us in the world have many obstacles to overcome. If you’re struggling to figure something out, this song might be able to ease the burden for a while, or at least take your mind off of it.

Short Mouth starts with a keyboard riff fading in and out of the sound. This is a really creative form of writing. I’ve never heard anything like it before. One of my favorite things about this band is the way the different instruments, including the vocals, build on each other. They come in and out, but with each entrance and exit add more to the song. In the middle, the news reports contrast sharply with the sound but added so much. Not only are all of the different instruments contrasting with each other, the sounds of the world are eventually drowning them out. However, the only thing that can drown out the sound of the misfortunes of the world is through music. Music has the power to change our perspectives, and in so doing change the perspective of those we play for and share with.

Last Rights Of a Living Leg End expands this idea. Dwelling on your sorrow will not let you gain anything. This is something most people do know to some extent, but often isn’t practiced. This entire album seems to be, at least in part, about accepting the loss of someone close to you. I don’t think there’s anyone who at least at one point in life won’t be able to relate to this. The guitar riff and keyboard are as reflective as the lyrics themselves. This band could have easily made this album entirely instrumental and it would have been really great still, but the lyrics and the way they are sung pushes it into a new territory, at least to me.

Any Robot But You has some great changes and really might be one of the heaviest on the album. The anger in the vocals is inspirational. There’s something about the glitchy, far away, accusing tone in them that feels true. The melodies go from very pleasant to very dark and hostile, back down to quiet and foreboding. There’s so much talent in the songwriting, it’s almost difficult to explain fully. The drumming on this song is my favorite, by far. With a runtime of almost nine minutes, it shows how much stamina all of these musicians really posses. The mixing here is something that should really be admired. I love this song.

The closer, Eating Spiders In Our Sleep brings it back down from Any Robot But You. With a slow pace, fingers slowly sliding out chords while the lead shines over top. This fades out into a less effect heavy beat. A slower, more natural sound builds back into the heavier sound. It’s a great way to end things, with some incredible performances by the keyboard, bassist, drummer, and guitarist. It’s a big ending to a big album, and I couldn’t have ever asked for anything better.

Listen here: http://cartoonweapons.bandcamp.com/album/last-rites-of-a-living-legend

Cartoon Weapons: Last Rites of a Living Legend