Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Joan of Arc
The Gap
Jade Tree Records, 2000
Review by Kent Manthie                                       The Gap cover            
I just felt like I had to answer all these haters who’ve, in the fifteen years since Joan of Arc made a brilliant album, The Gap, have been maligning it, undermining its musical interactions as so much playing around in the studio, or talking about how Tim Kinsella is trying to “say something, but doesn’t quite know what…” (a remark that I’ve seen recycled in a couple other reviews) – well, those who write these snarky, oh-so-smart-guy reviews are just annoying.  They are too dismissive.  Obviously, they’re not Joan of Arc fans, that much is obvious.  But just because they happen to be familiar with Tim Kinsella and company’s work doesn’t mean they’re necessarily qualified to be passing judgment on albums that they don’t seem to understand -or even appreciate.    So, to help rectify that, I thought, especially since I didn’t write my first review of a JOA album until their Boo! Human album, in 2009, I thought I’d copy-and-paste exactly what I wrote on the Allmusic website’s “User Reviews” section for this particular album (The Gap).  It may sound a little “reactionary”, but that’s only because I wanted to give an answer to all the high-minded, heavy-handed “critics” who have taken it upon themselves to be the arbiters of “hipness”.  This, after all, is not a typical review, in the sense that I’m not going through it as I would if this were a new album and I was writing a review, like normal.  Think of it more as an “open letter” to those “Brent diCrescenzo”-type JOA-haters who love to hate these guys.
I don’t care what anyone says about it, The Gap, in my opinion, is one of the most original, brilliant and lasting albums made since…well, in a LONG time. Sure, there is this love-it-or-hate-it thing that music reviewers have with Joan of Arc in general & The Gap, in particular. I mean. so what if they used up to 100 tracks while recording this or that each cut goes seamlessly into the next. This isn’t some fluff made to try to get played on the radio. Tim Kinsella never cared a bit if commercial radio stations anywhere played his music. He and his bandmates, whomever they happen to be at any given time, write music they enjoy and that, by extension, the Joan of Arc fanbase will enjoy as well. One thing that is so great about JOA is that, between their debut, A Portable Model Of… and their last major release, Life Like (or the one they did a year later, as a sort of soundtrack to Every Door a Window’s dance performance piece, Testimonium – Testimonium Songs was the 6-song album which came from that collaboration), Joan of Arc’s music has gone through so many different styles and sounds -due, no doubt, to the ever-changing line-ups of the band, with main man, Tim Kinsella, being the only constant. Along with The Gap, which has more memorable tunes than just “Me and America” (“As Black Pants Make Cat Hairs Appear”, “Knife Fights Every Night” and “Your Impersonation This Morning of Me Last Night”, to name the most obvious), is up there with So Much Staying Alive and Loneliness, Live in Chicago 1999, In Rape Fantasy and Terror Sex We Trust as well as Joan of Arc, Dick Cheney, Mark Twain up through 2012’s Steve Albini-recorded Life Like – all great albums; peerless, grand, obscure and guess what: we like it that way!! If you’d rather hear something more “accessible”, turn on your local “modern rock” radio station and, in between the commercials, you’ll hear what you’re “supposed to” like. Oh and I agree wholeheartedly with Tim Kinsella when he says that Joan of Arc is NOT an “emo” band. Quit trying to put Joan of Arc in a box. They’re not going to stay put!

Cruising – the movie!!!

Posted: September 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

I don’t care what ANYONE says – Cruising is a GREAT film.  IMO, it should’ve won Best Picture in 1980!

Enjoy it (while you can-??) KM.

It’s Always Today

Posted: August 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

The Lovely Intangibles

Tomorrow is Forever

Self-Released, 2015

Review by Kent Manthie                                                                                                Lovely Intangibles tomorrow is never cover

Right off the bat I knew what I was getting into. A lush, fab, clear-but-fuzzy album that puts a spell on you. I’m referring to the new album from The Lovely Intangibles, Tomorrow is Forever. This came to me from the same guy who oversees The Lost Patrol, to whom I’m no stranger, having reviewed the past few albums of theirs. In fact, Stephen Masucci, from The Lost Patrol, is also in The Lovely Intangibles.

Anyway, Tomorrow is Forever is a dreamy, space-pop, “shoegaze” (as some call it), blissed-out album. It’s somewhat reminiscent of The Cocteau Twins and a less distorted Curve or My Bloody Valentine.

It opens up with a smooth, lush, green valley of a song: “No Amends”. It’s a shimmering, textured track that distinguishes itself right off the bat.

With the lovely voice of Mary Ognibene on vocals, Stephen Masucci doing multiple-duty on guitars, bass, keyboards and programming; plus Tony Mann on the drums and Michael Williams playing the 12-string acoustic guitar, there’s a lot to love here. “Shoegaze” is one of the more familiar labels given to this sort of stuff: it was Mary’s other-worldly, beautiful vocals which made me think of The Cocteau Twins (I guess there might be a little Elizabeth Fraser in her) first, as well as the sonic beauty that backs her up; but then, there’s a little bit of Cocteau in all of us, though, n’est-ce pas?

With Masucci on board with the L. I.s, there may be some out there who might expect this band to be close to The Lost Patrol, but while there are a couple similarities: one being that both have female lead singers, both have Stephen Masucci playing guitar and both have deep meaning behind poetic, fantastic lyrics, there is some difference: I wouldn’t, for instance, call The Lost Patrol “shoegaze”; I think of LP as more “Romantic”, soulful. Where Mary’s voice is atmospheric and ethereal, Mollie Israel is, well, maybe, a little more “throaty”(?) and, as I just mentioned about Lost Patrol as a whole, Mollie is a little bit more “soulful”, like say, the difference between Grace Slick and Marianne Faithfull (well, I don’t know, maybe that’s not a fair comparison, but it’s what came to my mind first, so I’m going with it).

Some of the songs I ought to mention on Tomorrow is Forever include, besides the opener, “The Dust Settles Down”, a down-to-earth, feathery, glitter-like consistency of colored – matter, then there’s the terrific title track, which puts a blissful feeling in your mid-section.

The whole album is just fabulous, so it’s hard to pick out a song or two that really stand out more than others. I guess, though, the more times one listens to it and the more one familiarizes oneself with it, one’s bound to get into a certain groove in which there may be a particular set of tunes – like, say, songs 4-7 or some such sequence. It’s definitely a mind-bending neopsychedelic journey – trance-missions, GO! -KM.

A Mind Trip

Posted: June 30, 2015 in New Indie Music, Uncategorized

Brainvoyager

Dream World &Other Playlists

Self-released, 2015

Review by Kent Manthie

There’s some groovy ambient music spinning our way and it is the product of none other than Brainvoyager, a one-man outfit who is strictly indie. No encumbrances of any label, just himself, his recording gear and one hell of an imagination. This is not what I’d label “EDM”, which is really just a new name for “techno” and “house” and “electronica” all rolled into one, with a newer, further-into-the-21st-Century-spin to it. No, this is more like a spiced up, nouveau Eno-esque, hypnotic ambient ride. Liquid, fluid, fleeting, almost ephemeral, except that it stays with you, whether it’s in your mind, after it’s over, or while you’re listening to the long, 10+ minute-long tunes.

I received a batch of new tunes from Brainvoyager via Twitter, believe it or not. By some great miracle, I’ve been getting a lot of new followers on Twitter over the course of the last six months or so. I don’t know, exactly, where/how they’re finding me, but finding me they are. Brainvoyager found me and had seemingly, specifically found me via my occasional Tweets of recent reviews that I’ve posted onto Independent Review. This came out of a bit of back-and-forth between him and I and resulted in his sending me a link to his Soundcloud account which included several playlists of his music. So, I went there and have been soaking up the vibes for a bit of time now and I can say that this guy is great.

On the third playlist, entitled Dreamworld, I listened to the most recently. And for description’s sake, I can say that the first track on there, “Merging Moments” has a very Music for Airports thing going on – it starts out with a lone, piano solo, but in a atmospheric way; next, “Everything is Fine” has more “moving parts”, so to speak, synthesizers, drum machines, chime-sounding things ringing in there, with a particular theme going on in and around that ringing, on a synthesizer. Later in the song, it keeps your attention by changing up the sound groupings and at the same time, purposefully getting you lost in the ether of the atmospheric textures that you lose track of said time.

“Nothing Will Last Forever” is a really chill-out, set at cruising speed. It has a lot of “sharp angles”, synthesizer-wise, here and there, that punctuate the specific sounds and some exotic rhythms that come in and out at the right time. Later on in the song, things speed up a bit and a cartoon-y synth-sound comes in and colors, brightly, the soundscapes.

There are about four or five playlists, altogether on Brainvoyager’s Soundcloud page and I really can’t go through everything on them now, but, suffice it to say, that another one, simply entitled Single Tracks, starts out with “A Touch of Oblivion” which has an ethereal, space-based chill vibe and really does grab hold of one’s psyche.

Oh, there’s just so much to involve yourself with on Brainvoyager’s Soundcloud page. So, I hereby invite you to visit there as soon as you can. If you find yourself as entranced as I did, you can contact Brainvoyager directly, via his Twitter handle: @brainvoyagerMsc – and he, I’m sure, will reply to you and your requests for the wheres, hows and whatfors… In the meantime, though Soundcloud is your best bet for a quick review of his main set of works: https://soundcloud.com/brainvoyager/sets should take you right there. Enjoy it!! –KM.

Cemetery Serenade

Posted: April 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

Darren Deicide

Back From the Dead: The Harismus Sessions, 2015

Review by Kent Manthie                                                                                                  darren deicide at harismus cemetery

The historic landmark known as the Jersey City and Harismus Cemetery was originally founded in 1829. It is a six acre sized area of land that houses the dead of New Jersey, going back, almost 200 years!

Anyway, not too long ago, Darren Deicide, whose albums I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing in the past (especially my favorite one, Rockin’ Until The Apocalypse), recently received permission from the state of New Jersey for the purpose of setting up and recording Darren playing a few songs.

The actual performance was recorded in the daytime, which was, I suppose, the time frame allotted to them by the New Jersey Cemetery Authority…? Or, possibly, the crew was only available then, or it was decided that this was the perfect time frame to do it. Myself, though, I kind of thought that it would’ve been a nighttime performance: playing his raw, stripped down brand of blues in a darkened, mysterious graveyard, giving it some spooky ambiance and so on. But, the fact that it was done during daylight also has its merits, probably the biggest being that one gets the chance to see the window-on-the-past which Harismus presents itself as. So, when you weigh the two: doing it at night or in daylight hours, I suppose if it were any other, typical run-of-the-mill graveyard, doing it at nighttime, just for the spooky effect would’ve been cool, but in order to show off the marvelous and historic nature of Harismus Cemetery and its landmark status as a long-standing cemetery, going back the the early 19th century, you can see why the place needed to be included in the show as well. It’s also a very beautiful place: not row, upon row of graves and headstones, but almost like a park, with a variety of features to it which is why they go to different spots for each tune. The Harismus which I saw in the video looks as if it’s been quite kept up over the centuries. The grounds look well-maintained, kept up, although some of the statuary and headstones there do look a bit worn, it, nonetheless, gives it a quaint look of historic value.

The title of this performance video has a double-meaning, since, before Darren got back his strength to do it, he’d been, as is written in the opening credits, through some “shattered personal relationships, a few tragic losses and a serious accident that sent me to the hospital, we bring you…” [Back From the Dead] – a title which is both a good reference to his performance in the cemetery, but one that also reflects his having overcome some adversity – especially his hospitalization for the accident which incapacitated Deicide for a time.

The three-song set, starts out at one site, where Deicide sings “Devil Woman Blues”, which is Darren’s take on an old blues song by Skip James, entitled, “Devil Got My Woman”. Singing it, he’s perched up on a retaining wall or whatnot. While he plays the hauntingly, tingly song, the camera alternates between filming him and wandering through some of the paths, which traverse the gravesites.

Next, he takes a seat at a chair in the shade of a tree, where he sings “Dance of the Demon Rag”, an instrumental tune, that is crafty and, even though there’s no one else except for Darren, playing his acoustic guitar, still, somehow, has a nice rhythmic quality to it. In the background of this part, you can see a nice patch of bright green grass behind the tree in which there are some graves: a few headstones to his left and over on the right, some grave markers; no headstones, just those granite rectangles that are embedded in the ground.

Lastly, he does what is my favorite of all three: “Hudson River Hangover”. Utilizing a slide as he does in “Devil Woman Blues”, the guitar seems to be almost a complement to his vocals, more than just an accompaniment. It’s a gem of a song – a steady, rumination about the chaos that enveloped him during the night and how he’s now dealing with the aftermath – the “hangover” – whether a real, alcohol-drug-induced hangover or an existential hangover – or even both, Deicide really stokes the fires with this one.

Then, before you know it, the whole thing’s over. But, if you have the video on your computer, saved to your hard drive or to a DVD, you can always revisit it anytime. Look out for more new material sometime in the not-too-distant future. Currently, Deicide’s latest album is the 7 inch vinyl record: Bomb This Joint, from which one can download the tracks -just go to his website: https://www.darrendeicide.com and those whose interest was piqued from seeing parts of this historic cemetery can go to https://www.jerseycemetery.org Happy listening and viewing! -KM.

Butterfield

The Truth You Think I Stole

Self-Released, 2014

Review by Kent Manthie

The latest album by Butterfield, The Truth You Think I Stole is a melange of tunes dealing with love, angst, self-immolation, metaphorically speaking, after a bittersweet battle for truth and clarity.

Written by singer/songwriter Michael Butterfield, this album is the result of an opportunity to reunite with former bandmates.

Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Butterfield is now based in the San Francisco Bay Area, not only the best place on earth, but a very good place to be for a musician and or artist. So many like-minded souls around and lots more freedom of expression and freedom to be yourself. Tolerant, iconoclastic, one-of-a-kind – these things all describe not only the area itself, but the styles of music, writing, poetry, art and even the people themselves.

This album, The Truth You Think I Stole has also given Butterfield a chance to reunite with his friends and bandmates. On The Truth You Think I Stole, Michael, himself, plays guitar and bass as well as doing vocal duties. Kyle Crosby plays keyboards and Jeffrey Schaeffer plays drums. They play quite well together; tight; the album’s moody and tuneful harmonization is something that had to be done by people who had something invested in the outcome – I’m not talking about financial gains here, but the sense of accomplishing a great album that grabs you by the shirt, shakes you a little and shouts at you: “HEY, You have to hear this!”

As described, you’d think I was talking about a deep, hard, maybe metal or aggro style, based on anger, power, right-wing tendencies and a front of faux suffering as in so much of what is called “nu-metal”. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. Michael has written a handful of soulful, enchanting and straight-ahead rock tunes. They’re neither black metal, “Cannibal Corpse” style aggression nor is it a neo-folk album with intricate ballads of what was to be and what never was, etc. No, this is music that I refuse to put into a box, although, the overall genre is “rock”.

It’s not the fast, pent-up emotion rock or electronica-dance music that all the kids are listening to these days. Butterfield really strikes some great, catchy chords that resonate long after the album is over. Over the first listen, one gets the general sense of where Butterfield is going, you start absorbing the music as well as the lyrics. As with many new bands, that are seemingly playing new kinds of stuff (which is really not the case, it’s just that Michael has taken a style that is not unique but he’s put his own individual stamp on it). As a matter of fact, as I listen to The Truth You Think I Stole, the vibe that I’ve started to pick up is a more acoustic, less bombastic version of Alice in Chains (before Layne Staley died), when they had gotten over the idea that they were going to be a metal band right as metal was on its way down the toilet. OK, so it’s not as dark and despondent as, say, Dirt was – but the two acoustic EPs that AIC did, Jar of Flies and Sap are surely analogs to the attitude on The Truth You Think I Stole.

Going through some of the songs on here – they’re all quite good and it’s incredibly hard to pick out one or two that stand out more so than others, but one that does stay with you for a while is the last cut, “Tomorrow”, obviously because it’s the closing song, but it’s really emotional and has a plaintive, jarring sensibility to it that, when the album’s done, stays with you for a while, making you think “Wow. This is unbelievably professional” (i.e., not something that you’d expect from a DIY production) The production value has a great sheen to it, one that makes you think of quality studio work, a close eye on engineering, mixing and produced by Butterfield to his own standards of quality. He knew what he wanted and how to go about getting the result. And the result is a fabulous record that is somewhat underwhelming in terms of the lack of hype, marketing or (thank gawd) radio play (the death-knell of indie verity and sincerity).

Some other songs worth mentioning are “Treason”, “Tied & Bound” and “Not the One”. Another thing about The Truth You Think I Stole is that if you wish, you can pick out a song here and there, that inspires you at the moment and just listen to it apart from the album as a whole, something that other albums aren’t meant for – there are many seamless, “concept” albums, etc. that are just meant to be played in one sitting, all at once and if you happen to play just one song from it, you take it out of the context of the record as a whole. Not so, with The Truth You Think I Stole. That doesn’t make it any less worthy or great as a whole itself. It’s just as rewarding to listen to this album in its entirety. But that is something that’s up to the individual listener; I don’t mean, for a minute, to suggest that there should be any “singles” released apart from this CD. No, no, no. I only meant that if you have a hankering to hear “Revelation” or “Tomorrow” by itself, it would not be like reading a paragraph straight out of a treatise on existentialism or a novel where every detail counts. No, it’d be more like opening a volume of poetry and picking out one of your favorite poems in there and reading it. In the latter case, it’s not necessary to go through the whole volume of collected poems (whether by Rimbaud, Keats or Lawrence Ferlinghetti) to enjoy one poem that stands tall by itself, isolated from the rest.

Does that make sense? I really hope it does. It should, if you’ve been in the throes of musical addiction for quite some time.

By the bye, The Truth You Think I Stole is a wonderful album and it came to me as a surprise, not having heard of Butterfield before. And, honestly, I looked and looked around the internet to find something – anything – that would give me more substance to add to this, to find out more about the man and his music and what makes him tick. But, in the absence of that, I had to just go with what I felt inside, from listening to this album of self-awareness, reflection, hopefulness and ever-changing moods. -KM.

Butterfield cover