Newglads – Navel Gaze

NavelGazeMy dad rose from the couch and stomped across the room to the television. Ignoring the announcer’s exhortation – “Don’t touch that dial!” – he dialed through the three channels that beamed out from Nashville to our home in the hills of the Upper Cumberland. Channel 4, WSM, “We Shield Millions,” the motto of the National Life and Accident Insurance Company. Click. Channel 5, WLAC, owned by the Life and Casualty Insurance Company. Click Click Click. Channel 8, WSIX, the perennial bottom-feeder whose call sign spelled 6 even though the dial rested inexorably on the 8. Technically, there were four stations in Nashville. But the weak signal emitted by Channel 2, WCDN, the “educational TV” station, was usually reduced to a blizzard of snow by our neighbor’s Ham radio.

“There’s nothing on worth watching!” my dad thundered. Then he did something that surprised me. He stiffened, stood on his toes, and fixed his eyes on the overhead light fixture. Then he pitched head first onto the den floor, frightening the cat and nearly upsetting my Nestle’s Quik, dead of a massive heart attack. The doctor said he was dead before he hit the ground. I think he died somewhere between The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction.

Last Sunday night, I recalled Dad’s Last Words as I clicked through the New Arrivals on Bandcamp. “There’s nothing on here worth writing about!” I complained to my muse. “Then don’t write anything,” Cyrene replied. The Music Zombies had infested the indie scene. But don’t stick those knitting needles in your ears just yet, mio amico. Monday morning opened with a breeze drifting in from Reggio Emilia, blowing a cool front of sound: Navel Gaze, the new 4-track EP from Newglads.

The band has de-evolved from a four-piece-plus-one to the current duo of Matteo Fallica (lead vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, bass, drums) and Cristiano Belluzzo (backing vocals, keyboards, electronics, tambourine). As they shed bandmates, the boys honed their sound, paring a poppy amalgam down to a bittersweet symphony of alternating major and minor chords laced with sincere and occasionally hard-edged lyrics.

“Here We Go Again,” reviewed here in May, presents us with a man entrapped in… A relationship? A job? A religion? It could be any, all, or none of those. But the frustration he experiences is one of those universal emotions shared at one time or another by every human being.

Everytime I try to change
Someone makes me feel ashamed
And when I try to walk away
There’s something keeps me chained

“Do We Have Any Chance?” gives us the flip side of the entrapment paradox, a person who has resolved himself, unapologetically, to a situation that, while not ideal, is far from life-threatening.

I just came up to meet you
And I’m telling the truth
I’m not sorry when I think about you
We’re in trouble, yeah, and maybe
We will find a way out
There’s no other way to live on the clouds

The remaining tracks, “How Long Will You Run For?” and “Everybody Wants To Be Wiser” explore dissatisfaction in the human condition with a wall of sound, a glaze of guitar, and a hint of 70’s mellotron.

So stop gazing at your navel and download Navel Gaze! Available on Bandcamp and Soundcloud for the amazing low price of Zero Euro! And join Cristiano and Matteo on their website, and on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

And BTW: My dad is still alive. And he loved The Beverly Hillbillies. And Petticoat Junction.

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Songs For Sunday Night

the-persistance-of-memoryOK, cats, kittens, lovers and other strangers. Let’s see if we can use Bandcamp’s New Arrivals to stitch together a mood. What mood should we dial in tonight? Let’s crank up the Wayback Machine and set the controls to Nostalgia and the bittersweet longing for that Pure Love that sends a chill up the right side of your neck and impels you to place your hand over that soft area just below your sternum.

First up: Forest City Lovers (Kat Burns, guitar and voice) with “Mailtrucks.” The simple, nearly spoken words recall that long lost time when people actually committed their thoughts of love to paper, to be mailed to a distant town or furtively handed over in a crowded hallway, to someday find their way to a red box in a closeted space under the basement stairs. ”Mailtrucks,” from the EP Acoustic + Rare Songs, is available on Bandcamp.

Next, we find Alex G and “Sorry,” from the album DSU, with a dose of I-remember-you surfy shoegaze. The title encapsules the song’s theme, with lyrics that bare a sincere immediacy. 

i look at you
and feel the same
could you forgive me
for that pain

pariah kid
lost in a game
can you forgive me
for that pain

Let he who has not committed a sin born of the outcast’s pain cast the first stone. And cast your cursor on Alex G’s many LPs and EPs on Bandcamp.

Our third song drifts down from Victoria, British Columbia. Balacade summons the spirit of Neil Young with “Sunset Sound” from the album From Memory. Just give me a memory today and I can forget about tomorrow. But don’t forget to download From Memory on Bandcamp.

And finally Heather Hammers slips us a thoroughly charming cover of the much-covered Jackson Browne classic, “These Days.” These days you can find Heather Hammers, and the album Covers, on Bandcamp.

So that’s our mood for this Sunday night… Night night. Sleep tight. And don’t let the zombies bite into your skull and suck out your brains.

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Still Life With Ex Cops

artworks-000031559369-mnt9cx-t500x500By Milkshake (The Cat)

I first heard of Brian Harding in late 2009. The Food Guy went to the Austin City Limits Festival and came back talking about this band called Hymns that had backed Daniel Johnston. The Food Guy said Daniel Johnston is a good songwriter but that his live performance mirrored his life. I’m not sure what he was talking about. But the Food Guy said Hymns was great. The Food Guy found out all about Hymns and downloaded all of their music. I liked Hymns, too, so I became Facebook friends with the lead singer, Brian Harding.

A lot has happened since then. The Food Guy and I have lived in 4 different places and we are about to move again. We adopted an Idiot Cat named Fluffy. The Food Guy broke up with his girlfriend. Hymns broke up, too, and Brian Harding started a new band called Ex Cops with Amalie Bruun, who used to be in Minks. I like Minks and I like Amalie’s solo stuff, especially a song called “Crush.” The Food Guy uses part of “Crush” as his ringtone so I hear it all the time when the local rednecks call about a canoe the Food Guy put on Craigslist.

The Food Guy actually met Brian a couple of years ago and sometimes they email each other. Ex Cops put out an EP called White Women that was recorded in Brian’s bedroom and co-produced with a guy named Dan Shapiro. The Food Guy met Dan Shapiro, too, and said he is a nice guy.

There is a song on White Women called “The Millionaire.” It is good Cat Music. Tim Underwood created a video for it.

My favorite song on White Women is a cover of Freddy Fender’s “Before the Next Teardrop Falls.” The Food Guy and I made a video for it. It was a present for his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day, but I guess that doesn’t count anymore. She was born in Cuba and she said Brian’s Spanish is pretty good.

Last year Ex Cops released a real studio recording called True Hallucinations. It is a great album. There is a song called “James” that sounds like it was produced by Phil Spector. Tim Underwood made a video for “James.”

When True Hallucinations came out the Food Guy read every blog post and review about Ex Cops and decided that he could write better than most of the bloggers. The Food Guy said they all write like they have 5000 CDs and an inflatable woman under their bed. I don’t know what that means, but anyway after that the Food Guy and I started this blog called Reverb Raccoon. I wanted to call it Reverb Cat, but the Food Guy has a thing for alliteration.

The Food Guy tried to get Brian to play 20 Questions for this post. He sent Brian 20 questions, but Brian answered only 10. The Food Guy made some remark about lack of quantity, but as Brian said in “James…”

My main concern is the quality

The Food Guy: Is it possible for an indie musician to eat without a day job?
Brian Harding: There are so many variables to this question, but 75 percent of the time I would say No. No it’s not. Unless you play at a restaurant everyday.

TFG: How would you describe Tim Underwood’s “James” video if you were an NPR film critic?
BH: Fellini makes a reboot of Clueless.

TFG: Do you still collaborate with Dan Shapiro?
BH: Not recently. We live in different towns but we still exchange Tim and Eric clips on a weekly basis.

TFG: If you had to be stranded on an island with a drummer and a bass player, who would you take?
BH: Phil Collins and Sting.

TFG: Who would you eat first when the food ran out?
BH: Phil.

TFG: Pick one: Replacements or Velvet Underground.
BH: Velvet Underground

TFG: What is your worst musical habit?
BH: Bar chords.

TFG: Is there such a thing as Too Much Reverb?
BH: Yes. When you drop the amp.

TFG: Who should I start listening to?
BH: Skip Spence.

TFG: Who should I stop listening to?
BH: NPR.

TFG: Do you have any last words for Reverb Raccoon’s vast hoard of rabid readers?
BH: Don’t answer your Netflix surveys. Take a chance. Stay away from sodium. Look around. Drink some tea.

Thanks, Brian. That sounds like good advice. I will tell the Food Guy to do that. Hey, Food Guy, read this! And feed the Idiot Cat.

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What Really Happened to MH370

June21 009In our movie, Something Bad happens. Then the Veteran Reporter, using only his brilliant Reporter’s Instinct, puzzles out that the Bad Thing happened as the result of a plot between a Government Official and an Evil Contractor working for the Military-Industrial Complex. The remainder of the movie involves the Veteran Reporter simultaneously attempting to Expose the Plot while avoiding death at the hands of agents of the Evil Contractor.

The Veteran Reporter is assisted by a smart-mouthed Female Colleague, played by a rising young starlet who, after winning the Golden Globe but not the Oscar, will reveal to the world that she is a lesbian. At the beginning of the movie, the Veteran Reporter and his Female Colleague do not respect each other. They engage in sarcastically witty repartee, and call each other by their last names. But in the third reel, after Narrowly Avoiding Death, the Veteran Reporter and his Female Colleague jump into bed and engage in the Best Sex of their lives. The next morning, as the Veteran Reporter is standing beside the bed getting dressed, his Female Colleague sees a round scar on his back, the result of a gunshot wound the Veteran Reporter received years earlier while Covering a Story in Africa. His Female Colleague, realizing the depth of the Veteran Reporter’s commitment to journalism, falls deeply in love with the Veteran Reporter.

I am about to tell you, based only on my brilliant Reporter’s Instinct, what really happened to MH370…

MH370 was transporting something that was not listed on the cargo manifest. In our movie, the mysterious cargo will be a load of weapons bound for Guerilla Mercenaries hired by the Evil Contractor to drive the Noble Natives from remote oil-rich areas coveted by Big Oil. In reality, the undocumented cargo was something innocuous: a load of cell phone parts or a load of parts used in laptop AC/DC adaptors. The parts were manufactured in Malaysia and were being shipped to China for final assembly into some consumer-bound electronic product. They were not listed on the manifest for the simple reason that the manufacturer, whose main investor has a brother-in-law or cousin in the upper reaches of the Malaysian government, wanted to save a couple of ringgint by avoiding customs tariffs. A few minor favors and “facilitating payments” passed around here and there, and his company is able to slip the parts into the cargo hold of MH370.

A short time after the plane left Malaysian airspace, a flash fire broke out in the cargo hold. The fire’s origin may have been related to the illicit shipment, or the presence of the electronics parts may have been an unfortunate coincidence. And any rate, combustion of the parts released poisonous gases that incapacitated the crew almost instantaneously. The fire then extinguished itself through lack of oxygen.

Realizing he was losing consciousness, either the pilot or copilot attempted to program the plane’s autopilot for a return to KL or diversion to another airport. There was not time to send an emergency call, and many of the plane’s vital communication systems may have been destroyed or disabled by the fire. The pilot or copilot knew that sending a pilotless plane in the direction of an airport was a futile gesture, but it was the best he could manage under the circumstances. He was able to enter and program only a couple of waypoints before passing out.

At some point after passing the final programmed waypoint, the plane’s flight path began oscillating in a huge sine wave of ever-increasing amplitude. The oscillation was due to a combination of natural and mechanical forces that this Veteran Reporter does not fully understand. But at higher altitudes, the plane would lose airspeed and begin to descend. At lower altitudes, the airspeed would increase and the plane would climb. The oscillations magnified over time until the plane’s descent path brought it into contact with the Indian Ocean.

And this is why the plane has not been found: authorities are working on the assumption that the plane flew on until it ran out of fuel. They have not correctly compensated for the oscillating flight path. The plane actually hit the water well before it ran out of fuel. It is significantly north of the targeted search area.

And that is what really happened to MH370.

When these events, and my role in solving the mystery, are made into a movie (working title: “The Raccoon”), I want the Veteran Reporter to be played by Jared Leto, who my ex-girlfriend, based on her Twitter feed, seems to think is pretty hot. I don’t care who plays his Female Colleague as long as she Takes Her Top Off long enough to get the film an R-Rating.

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Among Moons – Girlfriend

a1927466854_10Hey, cats! What do you want to do tonight? Oh yeah, I know what you want to do. You want to watch the chipmunks on the front porch. In an act that made me question my professionally-questioned sanity, I spread some corn and sunflower seeds outside my porch window. Not to feed the chipmunks, but to attract them so that my indoor cats can sit in the window and watch the little critters scurry around doing whatever it is a chipmunk is trying to accomplish. Thus I have become the Executive Producer of a reality show staged only for the benefit of my cats.

OK, well you guys knock yourselves out with the Chipmunk Show. I’ve got a bottle of non-alcoholic Coors, a Lean Cuisine, and a laptop. Sounds like a perfect night to browse the New Arrivals on Bandcamp.

We hit a winner on the first click: the 4-song EP, Girlfriend from Among Moons, a solo project by Sean Pluto. Girlfriend is “an album about love, recorded in my bedroom,” Sean writes. “Girlfriend is just the feeling you get when you realize that something isn’t going to work out or you start noticing more distance between you and the person you love. It’s just about wanting to escape that feeling without having to let go.”

Been there, done that, addicted to songs about it. Who isn’t? “Indie Love” perfectly captures that middle of the night feeling when you want to send that text – you know the one I’m talking about – but know that you shouldn’t. Or can’t because of a restraining order.

Hold it slow, so I can hide
So I can hide all alone
With you, within my mind
Within my mind all alone
Confused in the middle of the night

XOXO” is a spritely little surfy-folky number hiding some rather dark sentiments.

So we abandon roots, so we abandon life
To go and find ourselves, to go and feel a night
I hear a kid again, growing inside my mind
And it’ll all come down, it’ll all be gone

Which comes first, the love in you or the kid in you? And if one departs, does it take the other in tow for that long ride into the sunset? Or must we abandon our roots, our childhood, our First Love in order to be reborn, to grow and love unconditionally?

Sean Pluto creates his music in Waynesville North Carolina. Girlfriend and his previous release, the 3-track Moments of a Life That Once Made Sense, are available on Bandcamp. And be sure to join Sean and Among Moons on Facebook and Tumblr.

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Songs for Sunday Morning

screamThe goal of Reverb Raccoon has always been to present one well-written post each week. Something you enjoy reading even if you don’t like the music. But sometimes Life obstructs the Blog. Ever have one of those weeks where you feel like you’ve spent four days locked up in a freezing psycho ward for indigent tweakers, crackheads, zonked out zombies, Raymond Babbitt, and a guy who claims “there’s two of me and the government put the wrong one in here?” Yeah, me too. And in those times, writing about music is the last thing on your mind. So sometimes Reverb Raccoon misses a week. Or a month. But this week let’s not worry about that “well-written” deal. Let’s just open the windows, listen to the mockingbirds, watch the chipmunks that live in the columns on the front porch, and see what the New Arrivals on Bandcamp has to offer…

Sabers – Sic Semper Sabers
The new offering from former M’s singer Josh Chicoine covers a wide range of styles and influences. There is a Beatlesesque psychedelia snaking through the background of many tracks. But the subtle hooks and melodies will have you hitting the Replay button. Being an addict of Pure Pop, I of course go straight for the most poppy song in the lot, “Money Eddie.”

Check out Sic Sember Sabers on Bandcamp. And visit Sabers on Facebook, their website, and Twitter.

beats by dre jr. mindphone – Experience Music
I’m not a huge fan of this type of music, mostly because, honestly, I’m not hip enough to understand it. And there’s a metric ton of this stuff on Bandcamp. Every person who owns a synthesizer has, at some point, thrown a bunch of random sounds against the digital wall. But with a format described as “proteus mind machine compatible,” a release date of “17 December 2030,” and “Don’t Be A Bitch Ass” scrawled on the cover art, I figured dre jr. might be worth a listen. I have no idea if this is good or not. I semi-like the classical feel of “Lonely Guys Club and Retreat.” Maybe, by 2030, this will have replaced “Pomp and Circumstance” as the standard graduation anthem.

This is the space where “Lonely Guys Club and Retreat” used to be. But it ain’t here no more!

Experience Music was available on Bandcamp. Unfortunately, dre jr. seems to have disappeared as mysteriously as he arrived. Perhaps he has returned to the future. dre jr. doesn’t seem to have a website or Facebook page which means that, with any luck, the entire internet will be extinct by 2030 and the only password we will need to remember will be for that proteus mind machine thing. I just hope I can use it to stalk my ex-girlfriend. That’s a joke, OK? Jeez!

Poirot’s Boys – “Roll with the Blast”
This being a Lazy Sunday (I think), I’m going to do the Lazy Blogger’s thing and just quote the band’s published bio from Last.com. Which, in this case, isn’t much: “Poirot’s Boys are Wayne, Alan and Davey Poirot, an autobiographical avant-skiffle trio from present-day Nottingham with roots in Victorian Belgium. It has been noted that they each bear striking resemblances to members of Captain Dangerous, August Actually and Born With Stripes, though this is merely coincidence.”

Their Facebook bio adds, “Expect dancing, electric guitars and dressing up.” Sounds like fun. And their single, “Roll with the Blast” was the perfect song for a morning with the windows open, mockingbirds singing in the back yard, and chipmunks playing on the front porch.

She changed her picture
Mine stayed the same

“Roll with the Blast” b/w “Sleeping Pills” is available on Bandcamp. AND (flourish of trumpets) if you download the 2-song EP you actually get THREE songs! A radio edit of “Roll with the Blast” get thrown in as a bonus. Thanks, guys!

So that’s our Sunday morning. I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the cats and ourselves and I hope we’ve passed the audition.

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