Posts Tagged ‘raised by gypsies’

deardarkhead at Raised by Gypsies

There comes a time in every person’s life- I believe- where they have to admit that music does not need vocals/words to be good.   You can go all the way back to classical music if you really want to, but if you prefer to stay closer to the present then I suggest not looking any further than Deardarkhead’s “Strange Weather”, an EP full of instrumental numbers which are more powerful than a lot of songs with words I’ve heard before.

Of course I struggle to find a genre to put Deardarkhead in simply because they don’t have vocals and I tend to feel like the singing style of someone can dictate where to put them if you, say, own a record store.   For the most part, these songs are a throwback to earlier years but not too long ago- maybe the 1980’s or early 1990’s.   It’s what I would call post-punk if I believed punk was dead, pulling influences in from Thursday (without the -core) and in their own way Deardarkhead even manages to sound a bit like an upbeat version of The Cure.

Aside from the fact that you could think of any number of bands such as Modern English to compare this with- depending upon your own personal influences growing up- I think you just have to sit back and admire the pure musicianship of it all.   The fourth song really begins to sing on its own, even without vocals, and that’s something not many bands can or have ever been able to pull off.

It should go without saying that the musical instruments are the stars of this EP (Well, the humans playing them technically) but if you don’t feel these thunderous bass lines, infectious guitar riffs or just the all around stellar drum work on “Strange Weather” then you are really not listening to it properly.   It’s not like you have to find it hiding behind vocals about whatever– it’s all just right there, in your face (specifically your ears) and it’s very easy for me to have this serve as a soundtrack to my life.

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Great Lakes at Raised by Gyspies

As someone who listens to a lot of music, I can tell you that sometimes music should be simple.   It should be all that appears on the surface.   Now, many times that might seem like something you don’t want to hear in music and I agree, for the most part it is not.   Case in point, prior to writing this review I was eating cereal for lunch and listening to a digital album that reminds me far too much of The Church (only with some really bad qualities added in as well) to take it seriously and so we just kind of have to move on from there.

Great Lakes has three main influences that I can hear and in some weird way they all seem to be connected and not just because I listen to them.    One of perhaps the strongest influences I can pull out is the sound of Murder by Death except MBD can tend to be a bit dark and Great Lakes don’t seem to share that same darkness but just a similar musical style with brooding guitars and strings.

At the same time I hear something else on the side of folk and I can’t quite place it.  I think of those slide guitars and what not that made The Wallflowers popular and, well, that of course brings me back to The Eels as well.    But in a lot of ways, other than those two similar artists, I would have to say that the biggest folk side I hear on here really is from The Only Children, which for those who don’t know is the folk version of The Anniversary (look it up)

So, really, you could say that this is maybe 40% Murder by Death, 40% The Only Children and then 20% The Eels/Wallflowers and that might seem like too simple of a formula to make up such a great album as this (Because right now it is on my radar for Album of the Year) but I think a big factor is also the lyrics and, well, Great Lakes can sum this all up themselves the best: “I am just a man / She is a bird flying”.

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Halfsour at Raised by Gypsies

If you’re Halfsour, what does that make the other half of you– sweet?  Or is this one of those glass half empty/glass half full type of deals?    While I have no answers to these questions I will say that if you should happen to name your band Halfsweet I think you should totally go on tour with Halfsour and then you could call it the “Canceling Each Other Out Tour 2026” or whatever.

Somewhere between a band from “Empire Records”, The Replacements, The Hold Steady and even The Clash with more clank comes the sound of Halfsour.   Vocals are occasionally traded off on this album but not as much as you might think.    There are parts of The Mr. T Experience in here as well and I do enjoy this in an indie rock with raw soul kind of way, which has it almost on that verge of being punk.

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Eureka California at Raised by Gypsies

There are a number of ways to describe the music of Eureka California, some of which I have used already in previous reviews.   Eureka California is loud.   It is music which feels like you could hear it through your walls if your neighbor is playing it, you know.   But it’s something more than that.   I’ve found elements of Dynamite Hack, The Mr. T Experience and Screeching Weasel in these songs, which I take it means they are borderline indie rock and punk, but there is this revolution stirring inside of them.    That is perhaps the most important thing you need to know about “Versus”.

Through hints of Cadillac Blindside and old school Jimmy Eat World, Eureka California can just as easily belt out a ballad about not reading ahead and being in a phone booth- which is a dated reference, by the way, and that something that always bothers me about anything that has to do with Superman now, like taking that away from society took away a piece of a beloved childhood hero.    But then he says something interesting.   He calls his songs the anthem for the wasted years.    He talks about a wasted liberal arts degree and I just find myself relating the hell out of this.

Okay, so maybe I don’t have a liberal arts degree but I did study computer programming and yet still myself stuck in a place where I’m making minimum wage and am older than I would like to be when making minimum wage still.   It’s like, I wish I could just kind of take back the last ten years or so and use them to build a foundation so I could have worked my way up somewhere between then and now but the thing is, you could work somewhere your whole life and then just wake up one day and have it be gone so there are no real certain paths like that in life anymore.

And it makes me upset.   It pisses me right off.   I’m angry that going to school isn’t enough anymore and now you need three to five years of relevant experience.   Like, what the fuck was I doing in college if I was supposed to be having all of this experience too?  I know, I know, internships are the way to go but it wasn’t that way *before* I went to tech school it only became that way after I graduated.   That seems to be the story of my life though: once I accomplish something, unlock a “level up” in my life, if you will, they change the rules.   I feel like Mario Mario every damn day when I go somewhere and have to read “I’m sorry but our princess is in another castle”.

In these songs I can hear guitar chords like the Cranberries song “Zombie”, which reminds me of the cover that Screeching Weasel did of it and thus my earlier comparison, but I also hear some Local H in here, if only because of the line “Everybody had a hard year”.    As we get to the end of this one the theme becomes wanting to go to a place where nobody knows your name and it is what I like to call a reverse-“Cheers” effect (Which works on various levels because of the sort of depressing tones of the music as well) and then he simply says “I’ll never go back again”.

When I lived in Connecticut the first time I felt like it was such a small state and I knew everyone and all of that.   It was like you couldn’t walk out your front door to get the mail without having twelve different conversations with people you knew from somewhere.    Then I moved to Houston, which was huge and I still went out places and constantly saw people I knew.  I thought the whole idea of “big pond, little fish” would work in Houston but it didn’t.   Moving back to Connecticut has at least kept me out of the radar for the most part and so I do like that, but yeah, one day I’m going to have to move into some sort of isolation.

I’ve always known music was important and sounding good is something everyone who gets into music should aspire to– and I don’t mean you have to appeal to everyone but you should have an audience because even if you claim to be making music for no one and you’re some kind of “outsider” then you still kind of have an audience– but thinking all of these thoughts and relating to this cassette the way that I do just seems to take it to a whole other level.

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Witching Waves at Raised by Gypsies

I first heard Witching Waves because of a split cassette they did with As Ondas.   I remember this split cassette because not only did I really enjoy it but because someone randomly sent me a message on SoundCloud asking to buy it from me.  If I recall, the potential buyer didn’t live in the same country as me and only wanted to pay $20 shipped, so you know, I had to decline the offer by not responding.   For the record though, messaging me through SoundCloud is probably not the best way to try and buy a cassette I review.   The same can be said for leaving comments on reviews of cassettes.   But, of course, all of that implies that there *is* a good way to try and buy cassettes which I’ve reviewed and, well, for the most part I am not selling.   If a really good offer came along I’d be open to listening but $20 for a cassette when probably $15 of it is going to go to shipping… Yeah, get real.

If you were not lucky enough to fall in love with Witching Waves back when they did that split covers cassette then here is your chance to fall in love with them all over again.    With powerful guitars, Witching Waves can remind me of some wonderful combination of Metric and Dancehall Crashers, two of my all-time favorites.    Thoughts of my also recently reviewed cassette for Hearts & Tigers come to mind (They should totally tour together) and this is just intense.     There is a slower, classic instrumental interlude of notes and then it also can remind me of The Thermals with killer guitar riffs which bring out parts of secret spy theme songs and words such as “I don’t miss it”.

One thing that does happen during this cassette which I feel needs more attention is the countdown of “3-2-1 and back to Square One!”    Growing up, I was always watching PBS because of “Sesame Street” and what not, but there was also this show called “Square One” which made learning about math fun.  They even had another show within the show called “Mathnet”, which was like “Dragnet” but they used math to solve all of their cases.   The thing is, when I heard this line I thought about the show and looked it up but couldn’t find it on DVD.   Why would an educational show not have a DVD release?  Why would they want to deprive future generations of math knowledge?

It also brings me back to thinking of the connection between math and music.   Many musicians are excellent at math because a lot of music is math.  (Keeping the rhythm, reading sheet music, I mean, so much of it has to do with math)   I remember a specific segment from “Square One” about a song where we would “estimate with Kid N Play”.   Kid N Play were actually popular at the time because of the “House Party” movies and I even had a cassingle for “Ain’t Gonna Hurt Nobody”.   So that really hit home with me and always made me remember what it is to estimate.    Should there be a similar show out there right now?   Should I be creating YouTube videos with musicians about math?  Is that my purpose here?  Or should “Square One” just get a proper DVD release?

Listening to “Crystal Cafe” might not help you with your math skills but it will help you with your rocking out skills.    I certainly feel that a split cassette is a good introduction to a new artist and having that split full of covers is even better because you can hear someone apply their talent to the song of someone else (I mean, it takes a certain amount of pizzazz to pull off “Satisfaction” without feeling like another drunken night at karaoke)  That feels like the taste in a lot of ways though, such as the fact of whether or not you could enjoy more songs in the same realm but as originals.    Witching Waves, as this is their first full length I have heard, have proven that they don’t just have talent when it comes to covering songs but when writing their own as well.

I don’t know that I’ve ever heard an artist on a split covers cassette first and then their full length cassette next.   Obviously, As Ondas would be someone who could fall into this category now as well, but I also know that if any other band has gone down this path with me they certainly haven’t had their cassette propositioned on SoundCloud.    While this might be a unique story for me, perhaps it is not so much for you.   Perhaps you just put this one on to rock.   But that’s okay.   “Crystal Cafe” does certainly rock and you don’t really need a huge backstory or reason as to why you just need to pop it in, press play and turn it up loud.

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Animal Daydream at Raised by Gypsies

“Citrus” is an EP I wasn’t really sure how to feel about at first.   Over the course of four songs (which isn’t as much as it even sounds like even though these songs are fairly long) Animal Daydream brings out a psychedelic upbeat sound.   It’s somewhere between Blue Oyster Cult and Cream with various elements which resemble Beach Boys.    Of course there are the obvious Beatles and Get Up Kids comparisons but I also hear some Gin Blossoms in here, which I really like.

My biggest problem with this record- my first time listening to it- is that I thought it sounded somewhat like a classic rock band and, well, how cliche is it to have a band who wants to be from the 1960’s put out a record?      This had me put this one aside for quite some time after my initial listen of it.    But then I started thinking a lot about different physical formats, something which I have touched upon in other reviews and, well, I had the record player sending out other tunes one day so I put this back on again.

In theory, if a cassette came out and it sounded like the artist on it was from the 1980’s or early 1990’s would I immediately write them off for being that cliche?  Absolutely not, because that is a large portion of what I review on cassette and I do enjoy it.   And then I just thought about CDs and how music that is good sounds good on any medium and if you’re bad even on cassette you’ll sound bad.    So I needed to put my vinyl issues aside and just hear these songs for what they were and they are actually rather good.

The first thoughts I had- on my first listen- was that this was simply some kind of psychedelic rock n roll that channeled the classic rock side of things.   It took me more than one listen to bring out the influences I can hear of Beach Boys and even those Gin Blossoms melodies.   This really added another dimension to the music for me and the fact that each of these songs seems to take you on its own little journey makes it that much more fun.

At one point, I will admit, that if I was given an Animal Daydream full length album I wouldn’t have even pressed play on it.   But now, after spinning this record more than once, I must admit that I am rather curious to hear a full length from Animal Daydream.    The fear of being lost in songs that all sound the same and bring about “classic rock” thoughts is not something I have any longer.   It excites me to imagine the places this music could take me with more songs, with more time, and that is really one of the best ways I know that I went from being somewhat indifferent to this record to flat out loving it.

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Mark Van Hoen at Raised By Gypsies

It doesn’t take a lot of musical knowledge or technical terms in your head to have heard music been referred to as created by composers before, but I truly feel as if Mark Van Hoen takes the term “composer” to a whole new level.    Every song is, essentially, composed by someone but not every song is composed in this way.   It’s the difference in food between a master chef and me with my microwave.    It’s the difference in art between Van Gogh and me with finger paints.   You get the idea.   I understand that “composer” can refer to just about anyone but it’s all I can think of with the music of Mark Van Hoen.

Through spatial tones and electronic strings, “Nightvision” has a quality to it which reminds me of a symphony.   It doesn’t feel like a combining of instruments to form a song but rather the way you picture a symphony playing.   Why does it feel different for an ensemble of fifty playing various instruments over three or four guys playing a drum kit and guitars I’m not sure but it just does and “Nightvision” has that bigger construction feel to it.    You can hear a flute and you can hear crashes right up until it sounds like something out of “The Twilight Zone” or “The X-Files” in that eerie sort of way.     Static also takes us into that John Carpenter “Halloween” theme type of feel but it mixes in with beats to take it to another level entirely.    This is what I’m trying to tell you here: what you think you’re hearing based on what you’ve heard before is on one level but Mark Van Hoen is taking it somewhere uncharted.

Distorted beats make an appearance in this electronic symphony with sort of pianos.   Even though some other form of electronic type of vocals might seem to be coming out within these songs, on the eighth track, “I Love To Fly”, you will eventually hear spoken word over beats and the such and it just comes out so well.   It is what I imagine the modern Beats would sound like if only people cared enough about poetry anymore to decide to go down that path.   As the title of the song suggests, the words have a lot to do with flying and at one point even state “The only bad part about flying is having to come back down”.   That could be interpreted any number of ways, but I’m going to go with the moral high ground here and think of it as the rush an artist might get from performing music live in front of other people who are equally into it.

Calling Mark Van Hoen a “composer” seems like an insult as nearly everyone who makes music can be considered one and he is just in a completely different space than everyone else.    So while anyone who makes music can be a composer, technically, I would have to consider Mark Van Hoen a master composer based upon his talents which can be heard in the electronic wonderland known as “Nightvision”.  I’ll leave you to draw the comparisons to this album with the title yourself, in the sense that most people see in the light but the music on here is like being able to see in the dark.   I’m not going to get into the whole nocturnal creature idea (is this CD raccoons?) but just keep that title in mind as you experience this work of beauty.

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SPC ECO at Raised by Gypsies

The first time that I listened to “DARK MATTER” we were driving in the car, the three of us, on our way to our first hockey game.     We were technically on our way to Springfield, MA but we drove past it to go up to the Holyoke Mall first.     There aren’t a lot of places you can go within Connecticut that take more than an hour but from Meriden, CT to Holyoke, MA is a pretty decent drive and we listened to this SPC ECO album the whole way there.    I only make mention of this because I own so many great albums which have stayed with me over the years and I’ve always found myself listening to them and under the impression of my hearing it for the umpteenth time and yet most of them I cannot recall the first time I heard them but assume it was inside somewhere.    Knowing we experienced “DARK MATTER” for the first time on our way to our first hockey game makes it as special a memory as this album is itself.
 The sound of SPC ECO is one that can be described with many different tags on Bandcamp but ultimately has the vocals and beats at the forefront.    You can call it dark beats, futuristic electronica, dreambeats and probably a few other genres on Bandcamp I don’t want to look up.   The thing is, the music has a post apocalyptic sound to it on some levels and as such reminds me of something you’d hear on the soundtrack to “Tank Girl” and yet at the same time could be on the soundtrack to “The Crow”.   If you require a point of comparison with another existing artist you’d probably go for Garbage or The Postal Service but that isn’t even quite close to how wonderful this sounds.
 One of the biggest factors on this album is the mood it sets and that is done by the tempo.    I like to think of it as being rather sullen and brooding, taking us somewhere but yet it is mellow and chill while still maintaining a certain sense of supsense.    Though it seems like it should not be possible the songs on “DARK MATTER” manage to keep a steady tempo, never slowing down too much and never gaining too much speed, and yet it still seems urgent.   It has that same appeal as something I would say was from the “Alias” soundtrack, or if you could just imagine the speed on this cranked up ten times faster, but yet it can somehow do all that without making the beats faster.
 The beats are also what control the music, which in a way reminds me of hip hop or trip hop but only taken to another level.   It’s not something I can quite explain because I’ve not heard anything like it before, but even though there are other sounds within these songs (including vocals) the beats still remain at the front.   I can only really compare it with how you see a band perform live: the singer/guitarist in the front and center, a bassist to his or her left, another guitarist to the right and then the drummer behind all of them, somewhat hidden behind the drumkit.     As I listen to these songs, I imagine the drummer being front and center, somehow in front of the drumkit even, with everyone else in the background (Though the vocals could be side by side at times)
Though the tempo can change at times into these bursts of lightning which might find you on edge if you are otherwise feeling relaxed, the fact of the matter is that one of the best words to describe the vibe of this album is chill.   However, even though it has that laid back essence to it there is still this importance, this rising within it which makes me feel like it is quite more punk rock than anything else calling itself punk rock these days.   This might not be the brash, screaming in your face type of music you’d expect to resemble such ideas but it does have that “We’re here and we are not to be fucked with” attitude that I just also love so much because it might not be obvious but it is still there.

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Noon:30 at Raised by Gypsies

If you’ve never said “Noon:30” before then you probably have never talked to me in real life.   Yes, I like to say that because it’s not just funny but it sort of just works, you know?   And a lot of what I like about that idea of time is also what I like about the band Noon:30.  “Finding Release” is something which is there and you think it’s something it’s not (like 12:30) but what actually is just resonates so strongly and is just so unique around every corner.

“Finding Release” has a total of seven songs, though there are only four original songs on here as the final three are remixes by the likes of Aimee, Tunabunny and Bastards of Fate.   This also is worth noting because within the four original songs there is an “Interlude”, but we’ll get to that in a minute.   The three remixes are of “Rodeo” by Tunabunny and then both the other artists remix “Gun”, so yes, of the seven songs on here you will hear “Gun” a total of three different ways.    But trust me, you will love every single one of them.

The first song is called “Dream” and it is perhaps the most interesting of them all because the way it begins this whole album seems to set the tone but it doesn’t really prepare you for what is about to come even though the more you listen to it perhaps the more you do begin to realize that it really is setting the tone for you.    It’s just this somewhat dark, futuristic sounding song with strong female vocals over electro bliss.   Laser shots are being fired in the background and while I’ve heard this sort of electronic music before perhaps, I’ve only ever heard it instrumentally so it is definitely interesting to hear it mesh with the vocals and basically have me engaged from the very first second.

An “Interlude” comes next and it’s an acapella song, which isn’t very long, but it serves as somewhat of a warning with the line “Keep on pushing the buttons you’re pushing and I will fucking crack” standing out particularly to me.   I’m not sure why, but I feel like this “Interlude” is the type of song that you could sing along with to the point where you have it memorized in your head and can just sing it at any time really when someone is messing with you.   In that way, it almost becomes more of a “don’t fuck with me” mantra than a song, but I love it so much.    It’s such an interesting way to transition from the first song- which really stands on its own- to the third song.

For the third song, “Rodeo”, the beats flow and so do the verses.    In short, it is a fight song.   It’s a battle rap.    And it is also particularly vulgar and I mean that in the sense that the FCC would have a field day with it, as she proclaims “Don’t sleep on me ’cause I’m a chick / and I got a pair of tits / I can rock this motherfucker like I’ve got the biggest dick”.    This, of course, before she goes into a lot of “Fuck you all” lines.    You know, I don’t really like to read press releases before I listen to music because I feel like if someone says “RIYL John Mayer” then when I listen to it I might hear John Mayer in it (Which for me would be bad because I don’t like John Mayer)   But when I went to the site to download this one I couldn’t escape one name that this is compared with probably because of the unique quality of the name and that is Nicki Minaj.    It doesn’t sound straight up like Nicki Minaj, but I can see why it would be compared to her and, yes, even if I didn’t read that from their website I would have made that comparison myself.   (Most likely because given the previously mentioned line about “I can rock this motherfucker like I’ve got the biggest dick” and Nicki Minaj having the lyric “If I had a dick, I’d pull it out and piss on ’em”)

This all comes together with the fact that the chorus of “Rodeo” samples Salt N Pepa’s “Push It” lyrically, as she says “I push it / I push it real good” several times and, yeah, I can hear the Salt N Pepa in here to some extent I guess, but even with all of the talk about sex Salt N Pepa has this is just something that parents might not let their kids listen to where as they might not have a problem with Salt N Pepa.    But, of course, for me I like that about this album because it just makes the music feel dangerous in some ways and I like when music feels dangerous not when punk rock can be bought in a mall.

The fourth song, “Gun”, has this grinding to it and for some reason it reminds me of Orange 9mm and not just because they have a song called “Gun to Your Head”.    The lyrics are about what they would seem (having a gun in your pocket) and there is just this darkness to it.   The beats fall somewhere between something out of the television series “Alias” and the soundtrack for “The Crow”.    It is no mistake that this also some hints of PJ Harvey in it as well, which just makes it that much more amazing.

One of the things I like most about this album is that for the first four songs you are really getting a different song each time.   If you listen to these first four songs in a row for the first time you might be taken a bit off guard, but the second time through and after that they begin to make sense- and they do feel connected.    It’s as if you’re expecting Noon:30 to go a certain way after you hear the first and even second song and then they take you somewhere else but it’s actually better than where you wanted to go.   (And don’t get me wrong, “Rodeo” and “Gun” are fairly different even though they perhaps share the most similarities)  But then after you hear these four songs and think you’ve got them figured out, they throw in the remixes and it feels like you’re hitting the reset button on what you knew.

Artists like Noon:30 don’t come along very often but when they do, you have to listen to them and appreciate them in the now.    This is the future of music and I’m glad to be a part of it before I get too old to care.    If everyone isn’t rocking this one soon, they’re going to be playing something similar and I’m going to be screaming on how they’re just ripping off Noon:30 so get in on the genuine right now.

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Static Daydream at Raised by Gypsies

The music of Static Daydream is instantly loud and full of distortion.   If you think of the distortion levels as being like a water faucet these are set to full throttle here and there is very little signs of them stopping.    When you hear the distortion as well- this loudness that goes throughout the entire album- I can’t help but think of it as being somewhat since if it was to exist on its own then that is what it would be since it is steady with little break.     But there are other bits of music behind it as well as vocals and that just all lends its unique sound to Static Daydream.

Part Modern English, part New Order and all around just reminding me of something off of a soundtrack for a John Hughes movie (See: “Breakfast Club” or “Pretty In Pink”) the songs of Static Daydream rock on through and just don’t feel like anything I’ve ever quite heard before.   I would definitely feel inclined to place Static Daydream into the actual shoegaze genre (Not the one everyone on Bandcamp prefers to tag themselves under) but then the question is what kind of shoegaze does this sound like exactly?

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