I SING THE MUSIC ELECTRIC
by John Saavedra Jr.
of the Open End – This Is Right Now (heroesoftheopenend.com)
Heroes of the Open End “decide to pick a fight with
the contemporary music scene” in their debut EP "This
Is Right Now." The songs on this EP deal with ambition,
stardom, corruption, and death. The EP is an attempt to
capture what’s wrong with today’s music scene…and
that is where I clash with Heroes.
If singer-songwriter Mike Baglivi’s goal is to attack
the multi-billion dollar record industry and the scene’s
bureaucracy, I totally understand what Baglivi feels. The
band’s song “NY Afterparty” describes
the feeling of being alive, which translates as the fear
of losing yourself in the scene, losing the feel of the
music. Many bands have failed once music has become a job
and not a passion. Everyone likes the story: a couple of
dudes with guitars who just happened to make it big.
But then Baglivi starts conveying something else entirely.
“NY Afterparty”: “We’ll be making
art while there’s still a god.”
“The Inevitable Moment”: “I haven’t
done one single drug that hasn’t been prescribed to
It sounds to me like Heroes of the Open End are attacking
the rock star, not the industry. That’s like Chuck
Berry attacking John Lee Hooker. Today’s music scene
was built upon the rock star. The sounds Heroes are making
are the ever-evolving sound of rock stars past.
Baglivi sings, “I ain’t got no big ideas/because
I don’t read philosophy.”
You show me one serious musician who didn’t aspire
to be big and I’ll show you one starving musician.
Sure, the drug thing is lame and I wish a lot of my favorite
musicians would stop hotboxing their vans. I hope Baglivi
continues on the path of righteousness, but there’s
no need to shove it in our faces.
He’s kind of like a man with a picket sign at a Ryan
Adams concert yelling, “What has he ever done for
you?” Heroes of the Open End say they’re fighting
for the people by bringing something new to the unoriginal
music scene, but I can’t help but think their sound
has been done before and by much better bands.
Concerning the sound itself, R.E.L.’s guitar riffs
are fantastic. The opening to “NY Afterparty”
asks me to sit down and listen to the melodies that are
about to unfold through out the rest of the EP and I always
oblige said riff. This band builds up the mood, which is
ironically a bit nostalgic and hopeful. The music doesn’t
sound like a complete condemnation. If Heroes focus on making
a great sound, they will be big one day. Throw your punches
once you’re on top, and even then, reconsider it.
There’s a reason the world hates Kanye West.
Poison Control Center – Stranger Ballet (Afternoon
My only regret while listening to The Poison Control Center’s
Stranger Ballet is that it’s so late in the
summer. Stranger Ballet is one of the best summer
rock albums I’ve heard in a while. This band is full
of energy and guitar riffs that make you want to go for
a jog or to the beach or on a road trip. The album has a
feeling of fun in the sun.
“Torpedoes on Tuesday” and “Some Ordinary
Vision” open up the album beautifully. Frontman Patrick
Fleming sings in the latter, “Yes, I was a complete
unknown!” Summer is the time for adventures, to make
a name for yourself. These songs make me want to brave the
world and that’s what the best songs do for listeners:
When I wasn’t singing along to their doo-wop-like
backing vocals, I was bopping around and playing air-guitar.
When I finally reached the wind-down, I was even happier
with this album. “Terminal” is about coming
home and resting from your adventures. It’s a slow-ish
ballad with a memorable melody. “Reoccurring Kind”
is a closer with many twists and turns. Fleming sings, “I
don’t want you to just be passing through” is
a wonderful dedication to summer love and how it can end
when the season ends. PCC wants to hold on to its love,
make it “reoccurring.” Fleming’s screams
are desperate through out the song, trying to justify his
The albums ends with the closing words “Don’t
be passing through.” This might be the most meaningful
lyric in the whole album. It’s by far the realest.
I’m writing this at the final stages of summer. Pretty
soon, we have to face the cold again. The warmth always
seems to be passing through.
USE FOR HUMANS – Live at Retromedia (Nacht Records)
If I had to guess, I’d say No Use For Humans, the
brainchild of Steven Honoshowsky, takes a lot of influence
from 1980’s videogame culture, the 90’s Eurodance
scene, and Vangelis’ amazing score for Blade Runner.
Often times while listening to Live at Retromedia, where
Honoshowsky & friends recorded the album in front of
a live audience, I found myself staring at my ceiling in
Honoshowsky’s vast repertoire of synth, percussion,
keyboard, reverb, echo, and wave manipulation makes for
a very unique, albeit nostalgic, listening experience. The
electronic orchestrations are by far the strong suit of
this album. The 6-bit sound of the songs gives the album
a feeling of simplicity. Honoshowsky is happy with the music
he’s creating. In fact, by the way every song ends
with the audience clapping and cheering, I’d say Honoshowsky
is a bit self-indulgent about the whole ordeal and that’s
The songs can be broken up into three categories: game
score, pseudo-dance song, and film score.
“Star Death, “D4,” “The Effigy,”
“Broken Hope,” and “8 Tongues” are
instrumentals suitable for old Nintendo boss fights. They
feel like your finishing a game of Mega Man or adventuring
through a dungeon with Link. These songs make up the better,
more nostalgic part of the album.
“Bear Tooth” is one of two dance songs with
vocals (the better one). It is an homage to strobe lights.
You cannot help but subconsciously tap your foot along with
the percussion. “Tom’s River” is Honoshowsky’s
attempt at something deeper than fun with a NES controller.
With lyrics such as “‘Cause when you’re
from Toms River, man/No, there is no hope” the song
is more of an attempt to give Toms River some street cred
as opposed to the performer’s battling with inner
demons. The song is full of drugs, high school drop outs,
abortions, rapes and…convertibles with lyrics that
are as captivating as an infomercial: “I got some
chick pregnant/And then there was no more fun/I had to save
up my allowance then/To pay for an abortion.” The
song has been added to my list of top ten songs…I
want to punch in the face, along with the entire Ke$ha discography.
Closing out the dance portion of the album, “Impetigo”
is a song leaning more towards hip-hop than crazy Euro girls
“New Perspective” is a direct page from Vangelis’
music catalog. The synthesizers take you back to the skyscrapers
of a dystopian Los Angeles, where huge Coca-Cola billboards
enhance the sepia color of the night sky.
“Anorgasm” replicates the rock n’ roll
sounds of movie car chases and awesome videogame power-ups.
It brings the album to an adequate close.
No Use For Humans is at its best when it’s laying
out fun, nostalgic orchestrations. Games are fun and Honoshowsky
would do well to continue to capture that feeling. So, thank
you, sir. It was nice to go back to my childhood days of
arcade games and terrible graphics.
BLOOM – March to the Drums (The Sleepy West)
March to the Drums is everything its name promises. Shawn
Fogel, under the alias Golden Bloom, is the multi-instrumentalist
conductor of this fine march, which is made up of reflective,
feel good lyrics and the sounds of summer.
Fogel opens his latest EP with “In the Beginning”
and its companion “Rhyme the Reason.” These
songs are riddled with the beginnings of summer. Fogel sprinkles
soft string arrangements, percussion (drums, xylophones,
and bells), and keyboards. The songs cordially introduce
us to the soft-spoken indie pop sound he will unravel for
us through out the march.
In “You Go On (& On)” Fogel discusses loneliness,
complemented by the sharp sound of violins. The song reminds
us of our need for companionship: “Tell yourself you’re
not alone/as you spend every night on the telephone.”
Summer seems to me the best time to build connections with
people and nature – especially nature, as night tells
whoever will listen to forget the past.
“Passing” and “We Have Grown” are
both the most guitar-driven songs on the EP and this is
where Fogel’s march hits home. Here, we are taken
into the meat of summertime. The part of doing: the adventures,
partying, mistakes, lovemaking, and countless long nights
that never end. Fogel asks himself whether it was worth
it. He answers, “Though I don’t know what this
year might bring/I would not change a thing.”
The march concludes with “Still Beat the Same”
a small synthesized version of “In the Beginning,”
that brings us full-circle. It reminds us that whether we’ve
had a glorious summer or a wasted one, there will always
REPLUSKI – Into An Animal Together (Shorter Recordings)
Into An Animal Together, Graham Repulski’s fifth
full-length album, is the band’s love letter to all
rimmed glasses-wearing, plaid-sporting hipsters that love
the lo-fi indie rock scene. The lesser-known Graham Repulski
has built a huge 24 track (many songs under a minute) album
full of noise, distortion, loops, absurd riffs, off-key
vocals, naïve lyrics, and garage shows- staples of
the lo-fi scene. Graham Repulski deserves to stand on the
same stage as lo-fi greats such as Woods, Wavves, and the
much-missed Black Tambourine. The opening track, “Burnt
Bootleg Antiquity,” is the thesis statement for the
rest of the album: “When I looked out on the alleyway/The
centuries on fire were painted gold/I wanna know I’m
the only one.” Lo-fi rock isn’t here for the
listener and Graham Repulski follows the formula: they know
what they’re trying to say, but they are more interested
in what’s lost in translation due to the distortion.
In the end, listeners have to trust that whatever Graham
Repulski is saying, it’s worthwhile: “Looking
back on loaded lines/Do you cry/Do you crawl/Or do you reach
for the sky?”
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