Lil Opioid Crisis – Polar Expre$$ II

Lil Opioid Crisis – Polar Expre$$ II
SONG OF THE DAY

A couple sits on either side of a small table at what appears to be a sidewalk café in southern Italy. I have no idea why these things are always set in southern Italy, but they are. We haven’t cast our actors yet, but I’m pretty sure the woman will be played by Jennifer Aniston. The man, wearing a white dress shirt above khakis, is leaning back in his chair, absorbed by the Wall Street Journal. His legs are crossed in the European fashion, exposing a modest expanse of unsocked ankle between the pants cuff and the top of his Sperrys. Without glancing up from his newspaper, the man – speaking in the boring white guy voice that telegraphs to the audience that Jennifer Aniston will be the star of this show – says, “I read about this kid in Boone, North Carolina. He wants to be a rapper.” And Jennifer Aniston, with casual elegance, waves a hornet away from her wine glass, extracts her iPhone XS from wherever it was intracted, and taps BOONE…

No. Stop the presses or whatever it is one stops in these situations. Our screenplay is not splashed about in rosy rom-com pastels. Its scenes are etched on brittle celluloid in black, white, and various shades of gray. In our movie an aging table in a musty, dimly-lit basement with pitch-black shadows is swept clean by an arm encased in a woolen greatcoat, and a huge map unrolled upon it. As the camera slowly pans in upon the map, a gentleman’s arm appears in the frame and extends a withered, shaking index finger. The ancient digit touches down at the junction of Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, then traces the crest of the Appalachians southwest the breadth of a county to US 321. A nudge to the east and the finger grounds itself on Boone. “There,” rasps a voice perhaps once strong but now frayed by the cobwebs of time. “That’s where he is. The kid who wants to be a hip-hop artist…” And the disembodied voice of Morgan Freeman intones, “That kid was Troy Santolla. And the odds were stacked against him.”

Uh – Cut? Yeah, there’s this young guy in North Carolina, from up in that Carter Family country, and he’s a hip-hop musician. It’s not “He wants to be a rapper” or “He wants to be a hip-hop artist.” He is those things. Or as Lil Opioid Crisis would say, “It’s pretty simple, man.”

Lil Opioid Crisis is the creation of Troy Santolla. We’ve written about Troy Santolla before, back in 2016 and earlier this year. Lil Opioid Crisis, aka Lil OC, first appeared when he “auditioned” to be a weatherman (I think) on Up Late App State, “a late-night comedy show that is entirely produced, directed, and hosted by students” of Appalachian State University. As Lil Opioid Crisis, Troy has released a new single, “Polar Expre$$ II.” And if you were thinking you had arrived on the platform late, no, there was no “Polar Expre$$ I.” Maybe the prequel will appear in the boxed set that will someday provide a vinyl retrospective of Troy’s career.

“Lil Opioid Crisis will return every now and again,” Troy told us in an email. “I’m hoping Lil Opioid Crisis will kind of be an alter ego I bring out every now and again to make people laugh.” But Troy has no intention of being a novelty act. “I do take my music very seriously,” he said. “A novelty act is the last thing I want to be. But at this point in my career I am just trying to figure out a way to be heard. If putting on an act is how I first gain attention, then so be it. But my dream is to be known as a legitimate artist.”

Troy says he is following the paths of Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller. “They have incredible amounts of positivity within their music and they both have dream chaser mentalities. Both of them at one point were doing exactly what I am now, and I hope one day to spread positivity with my music like they do.” Troy’s musical influences extend beyond hip-hop to artists as diverse as Ben E. King and Disturbed. “I enjoy all music that has a flow,” Troy said. “Classical music influences the positivity in my songs, while heavier rock influences the passion and upbeat tempo within my music.”

When asked how well he had been accepted in Boone, North Carolina, a place typically not associated with musicians who do not carry a hollow stringed instrument, Troy replied, “I actually do have a decent fan base in Boone. But regardless, there is almost little to nothing the folks wouldn’t accept up there. Boone is the first place I performed live, and the place where I wrote a large majority of my music so it will always have a special place in my heart.”

“Polar Expre$$ II” is available for streaming on Spotify or iTunes. And check out other songs by Troy Santolla, including the album Genesis, on Soundcloud. And be sure to follow Troy on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

theCatherines – The more we kept moving the farther away we got from us

theCatherines – The more we kept moving the farther away we got from us
SONG OF THE DAY

Since the hour Thag Jones sought solace in the cave of that cute Neanderthal from across the valley, and honored their union by painting a picture of himself slaying a bison on the rocky wall of their abode, humanity has endeavored to categorize romantic relationships. Psychologist John Allen Lee described six styles of love, an incomplete list that omitted It’ll Never Work You’re Just Too Different – the style experienced by the flip phone toting Neanderthal and Thag, an archaic Homo sapiens who may not have upgraded to the latest iPhone but at least carried a Motorola RAZR – and likewise failed to describe the worst possible type, style, or sub species of relationship, the dreaded Long Distance Relationship. But the worst of the worst relationship is the Long Distance Relationship in which the correspondents see each other on a regular basis, daily or even continuously if they are so unlucky as to find themselves under the same roof.

The divergence of two people progressing from Meet Cute to They’re A Thing Now to a pair of emotionally separated nodes at the forked end of a schlag-ruthe makes for a poignant film called The Break-Up which ended unrealistically in another Meet Cute and a coquettish smile over the shoulder from Jennifer Aniston suggesting a late night “U up?” may lie in the future. With “The more we kept moving the farther away we got from us,” theCatherines remind us that Progress in a relationship may not mean Becoming Closer, and taking The Next Step may mean admitting defeat and Getting the Hell Out of Dodge, taking the Instagram account with you, embracing a future that may be embitteringly lonely but not as lonely as when you were together as a couple.

“The more we kept moving the farther away we got from us” was written and performed by Heiko Schneider of Hamburg, Germany, who describes the track thusly: “The fall brings even theCaths in a kinda melancholy mood and a photo by a friend inspired our first train song… long overdue 😀 so here is our new single, a little baroque-jangle if we may say so…” The song is arguably theCatherines’ best effort to date, a wonderland of Byrdsian guitars and overdubbed harmonies that summon the ghosts of The Mamas and the Papas or The Association, with some excellently unexpected lead guitar work. I need to throw in an Obscure Reference to demonstrate my Encyclopedic Knowledge of Popular Music, so I’ll point out that the the lead guitar that wells up from the nether to open the track is a stylistic dead-ringer to Stephen Stills’ lead in CSN’s “Pre-Road Downs.” You can look it up.

After listening the “Pre-Road Downs” and confirming that I have way too much music crammed into my head, please visit theCatherines’ Bandcamp page and download their entire discography. And be sure to follow theCatherines (who have now graced these virtual pages five times) on Facebook.

Afterschool Rerun – Waiting For You

Afterschool Rerun – Waiting For You
SONG OF THE DAY

Stephen Hawking theorized that, when the universe reaches the furthest extent of its Big Bang powered expansion and begins to contract back upon itself to eventually implode in a massive hole of blackness, the movie of each person’s life will run in reverse, each of our presumably-dead selves exhumed from the grave to walk backwards from the point of our death, becoming younger each day until we are thrust screaming into our mother’s womb. The horror of this projection is that, on a fateful day in the distant future, I will re-enter my home town by backing a VW Beetle down the originally eastbound – now inexplicably westbound – lanes of I-40, walk backwards across the stage of my high school auditorium, hand over my diploma to Mr. Holloway, and spend the next twelve years re-engaged in massive boredom, daily indignity, and occasional sadness during which I will unlearn everything, becoming stupider by the day as I once again rub shoulders with the semi-literate and massively inbred denizens of Middle Tennessee from which I had previously desperately sought to escape. If there is even the slightest chance that Hawking’s postulation is correct, if there is a 0.0000001% chance that I will someday return to Cookeville, Tennessee as an actual resident, then I propose that every country in the world pool its intellectual and monetary resources in the search for a solution to this incipient catastrophe. I can live with Global Warming (I plan to take my shirt off). But I can’t rewind through my childhood without massive doses of the anti-depressants that had yet to be prescribed for me. The only potential plus side to the Hawking Scenario is that I look forward to chasing a bully down a middle school hallway, catching him, and then forcibly expelling his foot from my butt.

In their self-named new album, Afterschool Rerun describes with starkly realistic lyrics the trials of a boy, a young adult, or a young adult trapped in his childhood surroundings. “Waiting For You” presents the child lying on his bed, alone in the house as ten o’clock approaches, the headlights of the passing cars crawling across the walls of the room to illuminate in turn the toy box, the fish bowl, the frog-covered poster board above the bed as the waiting child longs to hear a car slow then turn into the driveway, its headlights sweeping a fast arc across the room before focusing on the unopened garage door. Or in a alternative universe, the soul is in his twenties, trapped amid the detritus of his early days, anticipating not the return of a parent but the arrival of a lover, one who is willing to accept a partner with demonstrably limited prospects for advancement and Coca-Cola bed sheets.

“Waiting For You” opens with a poppy yet darkly nostalgic organ line populating an introduction that stretches for a full one-minute-twelve as Afterschool Rerun eschews the Eric Carmen “Hurry Up And Get To The Chorus” aesthetic. Energetic drumming and solid guitars drive the song along, but the real star of the show is the lead vocal, delivered by someone with a great voice who knows how to use it for subtle expressiveness.

Afterschool Rerun is Nick (no last name), who “lives in Philadephia and spends most of his time listening to REM.” He has been recording music for a decade, but Afterschool Rerun represents his first attempt at a cohesive album. “I thought it would be interesting to arrange the songs in roughly chronological order, based on the age I was in the lyrics,” he told me. “It fell into place from there, I think. The album cover is actually a photo from my 2nd birthday party, the same party the audio clips bookending the album are from.”

Bonus Songs of the Day: The aforementioned audio clips from Nick’s birthday, plus “Pudding,” a spritely song about driving four hours to be present for a loved-one’s surgery, and drawing comfort from pudding purchased in the hospital cafeteria. Nick’s ability to address a painful memory through the medium of memorable pop music marks Afterschool Rerun as an adventuresome concept album worthy of critical attention.

You can support deserving independent musicians like Afterschool Rerun (Nick) by visiting his Bandcamp page, listening to his songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. Or buy the entire album. I’m sure no one will mind. And be sure to follow Afterschool Rerun on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Faux Faulkner

Faux Faulkner
OFF THE WALL

The old man squinted at the sun and spat. He spat and squinted and the time of his grandmother’s sister’s children rolled across the land and settled at the feet of Noah’s father’s progeny, the very inhabitants of the Kingdom of Iketombe. Out there across the field was the boy. And the old man knowed that the boy knowed and the boy knowed he knowed and he knowed the boy knowed and the boy knowed that he knowed the boy knowed and he knowed the boy knowed that he knowed he knowed. And old Iketombe knowed and Noah knowed and his great-grandmother’s sister knowed.

And while the old man stood there squinting at the sun with his feet like two tanned bear hides planted in the dust, the dust of the Kingdom of Iketombe, the boy came shuffling across the field just like he knowed (he knowed!) the old man would be there because he knowed the old man would stop at the end of the furrow and squint into the sun and spit the dust of Iketombe back into the dust of his great-grandmother’s sister’s children, the very children beguiled by the progeny of Noah, and by Noah’s father and by Noah’s father’s father. And Noah knowed and the boy knowed and his great-grandmother’s sister’s children knowed and Iketombe knowed and the dust knowed.

Personal Note: I used to know William Faulkner’s great niece. She had her grandfather’s desk.

Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band – The Nest

Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band – The Nest
SONG OF THE DAY

In “The Nest,” Steven Lipsticks explores those metaphysical Van der Waals forces that bind us to whomever, whatever, or wherever we are bound. Your nest may be your job, your town, your addiction, your guitar, or the tent in the room upstairs in your mother’s house on Archer Avenue that was bought in the winter of your father’s thirty-fifth year, where you lie awake on the sleeping bag that binds you to the girl who will forever step off the Green Line bus as the guitar plays beneath muted strings and the world passes by in a slow-motion dance of memory. Steven Lipsticks’ nest may be that Relationship that remains obliviously seated on the two-person love seat long after the dropping of pointed hints such as “I’ve got to get up early” and “My, we really must do this again sometime” because you will ALWAYS do this again sometime long after your nest has ceased to be a source of comfort and has become the Devil’s Island from which Steve McQueen sought to escape but that Dustin Hoffman eventually accepted as his fate.

“The Nest” opens politely enough with restrained guitars and murmured vocals before exploding like a cherry bomb from Little Tokyo into a thrashing buzzsaw of noise and feedback, guitar piled upon guitar, an effort that required the entirety of a hot Italian summer, as our man stands before a mirror and attempts to talk himself into taking that great leap from the nest and learn with immediate certainty whether he will fly or plummet to the earth like a thawed out yet uncooked Thanksgiving turkey dropped from a hovering helicopter.

Speak to these clever, flashing eyes
It’s up to you to find out why
Will you ever let her waste some other time?

Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band is Stefano Rossetti of Bologna, Italy. “The Nest” is included on his ? EP, an ever-growing collection of singles that includes “Opinions” and “Steven’s Problems.” Stefano, who provides all instruments and vocals, describes his music as “domestic recordings that blend, with a lo-fi attitude, 60s garage and punk-rock, britpop and psychedelic folk.” This post marks the fifth time Stefano has appeared in these virtual pages, which breaks the four-appearance record previously held by Mike Herz and theCatherines. Hey, I know a good thing when I see one and I’ll keep flogging this horse until Steven Lipsticks is a household word more than 50 paces from his front door, which I admit may require more energetic flogging than I’ve devoted to the project thus far. But who knows? If the Yodeling Walmart Kid can score a contract with Atlantic Records and the Cash Me Outside girl has over 15 million Instagram followers, then Steven Lipsticks should be able to walk into a bar in, say, Florence and have at least three drunks clamoring to buy him a drink. What’s that? You say that already happens when he walks into bars in Florence? Well, I guess I’ve done some good after all.

Recordings by Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band are available for streaming and download on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. And be sure to follow Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. For a more in-depth view into the world of Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band, check out our 2015 feature of his previous album, which includes an extensive Q and A. Stefano was kind enough to answer our questions about everything from influences to equipment, to recording methods.

Atomic Cafe – Juniper (feat. Anamaya Shore)

Atomic Cafe – Juniper (feat. Anamaya Shore)
SONG OF THE DAY
Guest post by Fluffy

Hi, it’s me again. Fluffy the Cat. The Food Guy has a scheduling conflict today. He was supposed to write the log post this morning, but he was also booked to shovel compost in the back yard. So he said he would shovel the dirt and I could write the log post. I told him I would be happy to trade jobs but I don’t have opposable thumbs which makes it difficult to hold garden implements.

I went on Bandcramp and found a good song called “Juniper” by Atomic Cafe with help from Anamaya Shore. When the Food Guy writes his log post he does this thing called alliter-something where he uses words that start with the same letter. Like “Meow Meow Meow” would be that alliter-thingy. So I will say that “Juniper” is pretty pleasant pure pop. How’s that, Food Guy? What’s that? He’s out in the back yard so I’m not sure what he said. “Juniper” is a little bit folky and a little bit jazzy. I like it because the guys in the band don’t play too many notes and they don’t play them too loud. I especially like the piano player because he knows when not to play and the singer has a very nice voice. “Juniper” is about sitting in the front window and watching the people on the street and thinking about how I used to live on the street in a cardboard box but now I have a nice home and people who take care of me. All of the best songs are about sitting in the front window and watching the people on the street.

When the Food Guy writes his log post he usually puts an Obscure Reference after the Bandcramp thingy. He uses the Obscure Reference to show the world that he has spent way too much time listening to music and that he can be kind of a dick about it sometimes. My Obscure Reference for “Juniper” is that in the chorus when the singer says “I-I-I-I” it sounds like the part in Santana’s “Game of Love” where Michelle Branch sings “Whyyyy” and “Cryyyy.” What’s that, Food Guy? He came in to check on me and said the guitar line at the end sounds like Yes or maybe a bit like that song by Wilco about Germany. Thanks, Food Guy, but I think my Obscure Reference is better.

So that is my log post about “Juniper” by Atomic Cafe with help from Anamaya Shore. I like this song and I think you will like it too. You can support musicians like Atomic Cafe by visiting their Bandcramp page, listening to their songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. The Food Guy paid $1.33 for “Juniper” which isn’t very much and when Bandcramp and PenPal take their slice Atomic Cafe might have enough left to buy a can of cheapass Little Friskies at Walmart. So everyone needs to chip in and download their music so that Atomic Cafe and Anamaya Shore won’t have to live in a box on the street like I did.

And be sure to follow Atomic Cafe on FacecrookInstantgram, and Tweeter.