Carpeaux – Black Magic

With the godly Carpeaux, I ensured him that I would review his album a while back so here it is:

If anyone were to listen to this album on their first take they would wonder if there was a story book meant for this epic tale.  At the same time the guitars have the feel and the sounds from a lot of early Hendrix recordings of Black Magic with some wild flaying around.  But at the same time it’s got this nice math rock you would hear out of Tool or Muse (which I’m sure he hates both groups).  Overall the album has got a single trance like feel running through the entire album.  Almost would be perfect album to listen to drunk in a dark room so then your imagination could build up and listen in depth to the album.  The Vocals are dark deep and meaningful but too deep for me.

Best track on the album:

Gilgamesh, fifth king of Uruk: Such a powerful creation that needs to be listened to either live or at 100db minimum.  With a power swinging bass line and a flaying guitar, vocals that come from the deep depths of the sea, only a king could deny his rights into a kingdom of soloist’s with this track.

Download the album for free through this link     http://carpeaux.bandcamp.com/album/black-magic

Rekapper Overall Rating: 9.876/10

The Bleed Whites

I’m struggling a little bit to find a suitable way to describe this. You see, you won’t find outright experimentation or whatever here. Neither are they clearly copying someone in any degree. I just get a good vibe from it, it’s like the three historical figures responsible for this music simply have a good taste in general indie rock, the 90’s type, after everything really important had already transfigured (birth, folk, blues rock, psychedelic, metal, punk, electronic, repeat) and then we were left with having to deal with this laid down tradition. In the end you just sort of pickup a few instruments and do what you want. If you are somehow good, creative and have good taste, it works.

That’s how I feel about this album. It sort of works because there is good taste involved, but there is no intentional stylistic content, it’s just kind of made, which doesn’t make it bad, it’s just natural. You get everything from distorted guitars to acoustic guitar and bass, with drums or percussion, whistling (fading away into the reverb of the void), harmonicas, guitar and voice, laid back or energetic, sometimes punk influences, sometimes folk influences, sometimes pretty sometimes rough etc. Just about anything but synths. I think in the end the closest relation would be to 90’s alternative rock, the kind that would never be anything but alternative, like the Moldy Peaches, The Meat Puppets or my favorites, Quasi. You know the type.  Sometimes it sounds like Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York as well.

I’m surprised by the production, it isn’t subpar with what you got from listening to those alternative rock bands of the 90’s, who recorded in studios. The song structures sound very professional as well, with all the breaks, choruses, build-ups, build-downs, sudden rise in emotion from the singing etc. It’s all done with taste, no melody or chorus or whatever ever outstays their welcome, the songs finish exactly when they are supposed to – which means that the closing section was well prepared and well executed. The vocals also are always spot-on, everything is just so professional-sounding, I’m impressed. What doesn’t impress me so much are the lyrics, though they aren’t subpar with regular rock lyrics either. I figure most people don’t even care for lyrics, so if that’s your case, don’t worry, nothing cringe worthy or anything, just not notable.

One last paragraph about the listening experience as a whole. This album is greatly varied and you can sense it already in the contrast between the two first songs, which are completely different. And then comes a strange instrumental track, so you know you are in for a treat. No fillers at all, the album felt alive and kicking from beginning to end, never bored me, and I found the succession of experiments with already established sounds very entertaining. For example, on Bone Marrow you have this classic vocal effect, I’m not sure how it’s done, but it sounds like very compressed, with some reverb, on a very quiet volume, just enough to squeeze the voice betweeen the little bits of instrumentation before the sudden rise when the voice stops. This happens about three times before the closing, when the vocals, screaming, finally mingle with the rise in the instrumentation, for a strong emotional effect. I have probably listened to this effect a hundred times so it’s cool to see these dudes doing it just for shits and giggles.

Apart from this sort of nostalgic feeling, there wasn’t much stylistic pleasure for me though. It’s not like it’s genius or something, only clever and very competently executed. I hope these guys come up with something more original next time around, since they clearly have all the know-how necessary.

I strongly recommend the first track to everyone, it could be a hit in some sort of alternative rock parallel reality, it’s juicy and cool, check it out.

-Carpeaux

The Blackhole Scouts – With the coming of bravery…

Fun stuff with plenty of distorted guitars playing catchy riffs with either nonsense-sounding or tongue-in-cheek lyrics about stuff like wanting to have a dog and buying one, suburbia kids stuff, just look at the album cover. Entertaining Rock n Roll. They part ways with that for a moment with a bit of spoken vocals in Acclimate and it gets grungier by the next track, Pathways.

Everything is standard home-recorded indie rock stuff, with guitar solos and all, your local punk influenced band. If that’s what you like, have some of it, it’s free.

-Carpeaux

James Lewis Speed – Belated Father’s Day

What’s this? This is what happens when you listen to a bunch of folk and folk-rock and you start thinking musically inside this folky frame. You pick up a guitar and that’s all that comes out. You sing like this naturally and your lyrics are so insane, you can be sure no one will ever try to understand what it is you are actually talking about, although there are plenty of deep-sounding emotional one-liners. This stuff is addictive, it can consume hundreds of hours of your life listening to people none of your friends ever heard about, listening to sounds produced by these tortured souls of which you either don’t know anything or you know only little bits of quirky information, like “his dog was ran over and his girlfriend turned out to be a dude”.

That might be just a shell though, provided by instrumentation. There is a lot of influence from 90’s alternative rock as well, somehow in the melodies, in the musical structure, but mostly in the electric guitar parts that embellish the acoustic guitar’s simple but effective background. All of us guys who grew up in the 90’s are starting to make music and it shows where we came from. The feeling and the lyrics are folk though, it’s not like I have to rewrite the first paragraph or anything.

So who is this James Lewis Speed guy? Google doesn’t care about him and all his bandcamp says is stuff like “It was recorded with a very crummy acoustic”,  that it was all recorded over 2 days “because of his father” and that some of the lyrics are about his friends. All I have to work with is the music and that’s just golden. This is not the place to grow even more tired of bullshit celebrity dick-riding in your music reviews. Following my folk instincts though, I went look for lyrical clues of a personal tragedy of some kind. So I saw “I am Morals” and I thought, oh, maybe he has morals and that’s the problem. But not really, the song is just as crazy as most of the other ones. When you start thinking you now understand what is going on he says something like “Says the large unfiltered chorus” and you go “lolwut?”.

His strong is emotional vocal harmonies, that’s kind of why you would listen to this. Seems to be him singing with himself by means of the wonders of technology. There can only be so many tricks of emotional harmonizing vocals, so the reason why some of these vocal works don’t sound cliche is because the recording is so crude. Just like most of Brian Jonestown Massacre sounded dated, but not really because it had so much raw power that it ended up sounding retro instead.

So if you really dig folk and home recorded crazy confessional stuff, go on and listen to the whole thing. If you are here just for a quick fix, I’ll tell you what, these are the best tracks: “Call me transcendental” might be the one that sounds more like 90’s rock, followed by “You crack me up” and “Walking really weird”. Oh fuck I have just realized what this guy was remembering me of! Quasi’s album Field Studies, which is one of my favorites ever. Pitchfork gave it 6.3, those fucking maggots, that album is perfect.

Aforementioned “I am morals” is good also, but “A dead animal in my arms” is better, the lyrics go “no need to taste the engine”, “vomit in the sun”, it’s just so likable! Leaving all objectivity aside – like it wasn’t there already – I think my favorite is “All my best friends”, because it sort of freaks out: “Oh look, serendipity crucified the throw out elbow, and it’s still a shock” and then something about robots winning something. Great stuff.

-Carpeaux