Dazed – Bubblegum

Dazed – Bubblegum
SONG OF THE DAY

Music traces the Great Arc of each relationship. Unless you are one of the lucky ones who plateaus in the Flatline of Happiness, a typical relationship plays out something like this…

First we have the I Am So Into You phasewhich happens to be the name of a song by the Atlanta Rhythm Section. Then, if the victim-to-be actually connects with the subject of their longing, comes the Happy Together stage, best represented by The Turtles’ “Happy Together.” I think you see where I’m going with this, so I’ll let you fill in a few of the future musical blanks on your own. And for the younger viewers who don’t understand the Call you up / Invest a dime lyric of the aforementioned song, I did some research on this and it turns out that life fifty years ago was pretty wild. You made “telephone calls” from a “phone booth” and it cost ten cents. And yes of course we’re talking about a Land Line because back then everything was a Land Line. There was no need to say “Land Line” because there were no Non-Land Lines. It’s like, did my grandparents live in the Dark Ages or wut?

Anyway, next we have the There’s Storm Clouds a-Brewin’ interval, followed by We’re Breaking Up, which is the emotional equivalent of getting your toe caught in a pasta roller. At least half of the best pop songs are sourced from the We’re Breaking Up drama, with the other half being about cars. If one makes it through that bit of nonsense without being institutionalized, then one is allowed to suffer the brief bout of Loser Nostalgia known as I Want You Back. And finally, if our hero has not yet succumbed to alcoholism, there’s the closure of the I’m Glad We Broke Up Because Your Were A Total Psycho stage. Which brings us to “Bubblegum” by Dazed, a fine representative of the Final Segment of the Relationship Arc.

I guess it’s funny how my record collection knows more about me / Than you have ever done is one of the best post-breakup lines I’ve heard and, if I wasn’t already in that Flatline of Happiness group, I would write it on a scrap of paper and stick it in my wallet for future reference. I mean, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” just doesn’t cut it in this Modern Age in which Affection and Authority compete with Twitter and Fortnite for the Land Lines of our Souls.

Dazed is Zak Lonsdale (bass, vocals), Will Brooke (rhythm guitar, vocals), Owen Galloway (lead guitar), and Luke Binstead (drums). “Bubblegum is from their new three-song EP, Affection and Authority In The Modern Age. The band self-describes as “Four boys in Yorkshire, who had no idea what they were doing, but hatched a plan to create the trashiest guitar band the world has ever known…” I’m not sure they’ve achieved their goal just yet, but Affection and Authority In The Modern Age paces the band several kilometers closer to the finish line.

You can support trashy guitar bands like Dazed, and deserving independent musicians in general, by visiting their Bandcamp page, listening to their songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. And be sure to follow Dazed on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Big Jimmy Smaulkoch – Jimmy and The Hoff

Big Jimmy Smaulkoch – Jimmy and The Hoff
SONG OF THE DAY

Okay, I listened to a lot of songs today and “Jimmy and The Hoff” is the only one that made me laugh. It seems that our man, Big Jimmy Smaulkoch, is dying due to sauce in the blood and guts turning to mud. I wish I could be more specific about his affliction, but it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that, before Jimmy crosses over the River Jordan (or maybe the River Charles), he wants one last brodate with David Hasselhoff.

Among the proposed activities: eating cheeseburgers, sitting on the wharf, and counting seagulls. Hey, man, you had me at “cheeseburgers.” But then Jimmy kicks it up a notch: We could walk to my house ’cause it is near the wharf / We could wave to my neighbor, I think he’s a dwarf. Yeah, it’s politically incorrect. But “Little Person” doesn’t rhyme with “wharf.” At least his neighbor’s name isn’t Gidget.

I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout no Big Jimmy Smaulkoch, though I think I probably should, like he’s some sort of late night cultural phenomenon that has escaped me because, in spite of outward appearances including wearing Vans tennis shoes to my own wedding, I am Not That Hip. I once wore my Daniel Johnston Hi, How Are You T-shirt – you know, the one Kurt Cobain made famous – into an on-life-support Ace Hardware store. The woman at the checkout counter peered at my shirt and asked, “Am I supposed to know who that is?” That’s kinda the way I feel about Big Jimmy.

“Jimmy and The Hoff” is from Big Jimmy’s new five-song EP, Doin’ The Vortex. As Jimmy tells us on his Bandcamp page, “I gots some new songs now that you have not heard before because they are new. So listen to all my songs and vortex ’til dawn.” Besides “Jimmy and The Hoff,” I recommend “Fight For Your Pants” which is about Big Jimmy getting drunk, hitting the can, and having his pants stolen. Which means he had to take his pants off. Recently I read an article discussing the merits of taking one’s shirt off while, uh, visiting the public restroom stall. In my book, taking your shirt off is for amateurs. A real man takes his pants off. I mean, you gonna take your shirt off, then let your pants cuffs slop onto that filthy floor? I’m with Big Jimmy on this one. I’ll accept the risk of losing the pants.

You can support deserving independent musicians like Big Jimmy Smaulkoch by visiting his Bandcamp page, listening to his songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. And be sure to follow Big Jimmy on Facebook, and Twitter.

Dusk – Hey, Soozie

Dusk – Hey, Soozie
SONG OF THE DAY

“Hey, Soozie,” by Dusk, triangulates in that ethereal mist that floats in the nether region between country, rock, soul, psychedelia, and folk. What? OK, that’s five genres so it pentagulates. Happy now? Whatever, this is American music, the sound that emanates from one of those flyover states that normal people inhabit and of which Elon Musk is unknowledgeable. Has he ever visited Appleton, Wisconsin? And no, don’t start telling me that America Is Bad. I don’t want to hear that. I don’t want to hear about Trump and Detention Centers and the credit card debt of Supreme Court nominees. I just want to listen to “Hey, Soozie” and enjoy it because it’s really really good and it didn’t come from France.

I’m an Old School guy and when I listen to “Hey, Soozie” I have – in addition to a primordial connection with the music – many questions. Fender Rhodes or Wurlitzer? Lap steel or pedal? Alto or tenor? Hammond B-3 with Leslie or synthesizer? Guesses at the end of the review. Which means that you have to at least scroll down to the bottom if you’re interested.

When I started this blog a couple of lifetimes ago, my intention was to Keep It Simple: just say “Listen to this song; it’s good,” and dispense with all of the Pitchfork-ish references and analytics. But for some reason that didn’t happen. The lure of the Hyperbolic Review was too magnetic. But tonight we draw the line: just listen to the fucking song, OK? It’s good. Trust me.

“Hey, Soozie” is from Dusk’s eponymous (anyone who uses that word should be taken out back and shot) album, released last month. Yeah, I’m a few weeks late. Shoot me. No wait, you already did that for saying eponymous. You can only die once. I became aware of Dusk, not when I flew over Wisconsin, but when I discovered and reviewed “Invisible Song” by Dusk member Ryley Crowe. As the kid who cuts my grass would say, “Invisible Song kicks ass.” Maybe the Yard Kid should write this blog.

Dusk is Julia Blair, Ryley Crowe, Tyler Ditter, Amos Pitsch, and Colin Wilde. I have no idea who plays what, though I think Julia sings and Ryley plays steel (among other things.). These folks are a strake more established than most of the bands I feature (1,557 people like this on Facebook!), which probably means no one will read this. There’s an inverse correlation between Facebook likes and webpage hits. And if the band has a publicist? Fuhgetabowdit. I don’t care; this is a Good Tune.

As a Certified Music Journalist, I’m obligated to inject at least one Obscure Reference into each review. If I don’t, the union will send a cargo shorts-wearing hipster to my house to rip that coveted Music Press card from the hatband of my Fedora. The Obscure Reference for today: the saxophone on “Hey, Soozie” summons an amalgam of Dick Parry’s work on Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them” and Clarence Clemons’ interweavings in “New York City Serenade.” Full disclosure: it sounds like something else, but I couldn’t quite put my mental finger on it even though I scrolled through my entire iTunes library. Of course, music journalists provide the Obscure Reference only to display their Encyclopedic Knowledge of Popular Music, and most of the time the references are completely bogus. I could say, “‘Hey, Soozie’ sounds like the early 70’s offerings from Nova Scotian label SloScan Records” and you’d be, like, “Cool, I’ll check them out once I finish this round of Fortnite.”

You can support deserving independent musicians like Dusk by visiting their Bandcamp page, listening to their songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. Heck, just buy the whole damn album, OK? And be sure to follow Dusk on Facebook.

GUESSES TO THE QUESTIONS IN PARAGRAPH TWO: Sounds like a Wurlitzer to me. It’s got that boing thing going on. Concerning the steel, I cheated on this one. I thought it was either a lap steel, or a one-neck pedal steel. I stalked Ryley Crowe on Instagram: turns out it’s one of those three-pedal one-knee-lever Sho-Buds that were all over the place in the 70’s. Full disclosure: I was all over the place in the 70’s, too. Ok, smart guy, is it tuned to E9 or D9? The sax is probably a tenor, but I’d like to think that a talented player could get those warm sounds from an alto. No soprano. Never put a soprano and a pedal steel in the same aural space. And the organ? Surely no one actually tours with a Hammond-Leslie combo anymore, but maybe one was used for recording. I just don’t think you can get that warmth from a cold synthesizer.

OK that’s it. Now put down your iPhone and go listen to “Hey, Soozie” through some decent speakers.

darn it. – Invisible Song

darn it. – Invisible Song
SONG OF THE DAY

“Invisible Song,” by darn it., is all about sedately beautiful harmonies layered over hugely thrashing, barely civilized guitars. Think the Byrds backed by the garage band down the street after they’ve downloaded a tuner from the App Store and learned to play something beyond power chords. It’s a great effect, as if someone is smiling while kicking your ass. And no, that isn’t a typo. The name of the band is darn it. with a small D and a period. What’s that? No, I don’t know why; stop asking me. Anyway, why not?

“Invisible Song” rumbles from somnolence with an autotuned solo vocal and a single guitar, then bangs fully to life when the rhythm section and Roger McGuinn et al join the party. The song is a mini-suite, following a lo-fi trail through multiple movements. The music ends just short of the seven-minute mark, leaving nearly three minutes of silence in which the listener is invited to bask. Oh well. Maybe it’s part of the art. Maybe there’s a hidden message in the void that only a dog can hear. Maybe I’ll borrow my neighbor’s Fido and check it out. Hey, dog, you hear anything? Wag your tail once for Yes and twice for No.

“Invisible Song” is from darn it.’s new seven-track EP, pt. II. darn it. is the solo project of Ryley Crowe of Appleton, Wisconsin, who is reported to be (by someone that I assume knows what he’s talking about) “a member of DUSK, Miserable Friend and the Wishbone Breakers (formerly known as the Crowe Brothers).” On his Facebook page, Ryley tells us that pt. II is “a collection of songs from various places I’ve lived as well as some DUSK demos I recorded a while back.” All songs were written, performed, and produced by Ryley.

You can support deserving independent musicians like darn it. (aka Ryley Crowe of Appleton, Wisconsin) by visiting his Bandcamp page, listening to his songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. In addition to “Invisible Song,” I recommend “My Own Design,” another track on which Ryley summons the Ghost of Roger McGuinn. What? He isn’t dead yet? Are you sure? And definitely follow darn it. on Facebook.

Two Songs by Seventeen Years Old and Berlin Wall

Two Songs by Seventeen Years Old and Berlin Wall
SONGS OF THE DAY

Today we feature two songs by a Tokyo-based band, Seventeen Years Old and Berlin Wall. Their Facebook biography, as translated from Japanese by Google, describes the band as “Shoegazer, pops by a gender twin vocal to the sound image influenced by Dream Pop, while placing a melody that feels somewhere hypothermia.” Which is actually not a bad description of this chill band with a pair of singers and a dreamy mist of introspection. Full disclosure: I can’t understand the words, so they may be singing about being serial killers. But I don’t think so.

“Talking Eggs” is from Seventeen Years Old and Berlin Wall’s first mini-album, Aspect, released in 2015. The track is full of energy and what I assume to be positive vibes. As always, we are obligated to inject at least one Obscure Reference into each review. Our Obscure Reference for Today: “Talking Eggs” is full of twee, inciting us to favorably compare the track to “Summer’s Failing,” the Phil Spector-ish single from NAH…, sung by the ubiquitous Kenji Kenji.

Aspect is available on cassette from Indonesian label Bombay Records. The album can be downloaded from Bandcamp for the low low price of only $1000 US. To be honest, that’s slightly out of my price range. Maybe there’s a tariff or something. Thanks, Obama. Downloads of individual tracks are not available, mirroring the creeping socialism that plagues modern society.

“By The Window” is from Seventeen Years Old and Berlin Wall’s second mini-album, Reflect, released in 2017. The track is, well, Reflect-ive, with a ringing guitar and a folky, borderline country feel. Again, I can’t grasp the lyrics. They may be singing about a longing to bite the heads off rats, but I imagine the song to be about gazing out the window and contemplating a lost love or maybe lost youth.

Reflect is available on cassette from Sango Records of Kyoto. Digital download of the album is available from Bandcamp, reasonably priced at $905.26 US (or more). I will wait for this one to end up in the digital equivalent of the cut-out bin. Fortunately, “By The Window” (though not, apparently, other tracks on the album), is available individually for mere pennies.

Seventeen Years Old and Berlin Wall is Yusei Tsuruta (vocals, guitar) and Eriko Takano (vocals, bass), and possibly Takuji Yoshida (guitar) and Junichirou Miyazawa (drums). The band has a new album, Object, set for release in August. The first single, “Outlook,” can be streamed on Soundcloud. Give it a listen. And be sure to follow Seventeen Years Old and Berlin Wall on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube.

The Con Way – Away From You

The Con Way – Away From You
SONG OF THE DAY

“Away From You,” by The Con Way, has all of the elements that we love in a good song, and none of the crap that we don’t like. Good Things that are in “Away From You:” tight guitars playing interesting figures, melody, a singer who can sing, harmony, a discernible chorus, and energetic bass and drums that enhance the song and sound like they’ve, you know, practiced together. Bad Things that are not in “Away From You:” a weird sound at the beginning of the track (at least 99% of the songs on Bandcamp start with a weird sound), a singer who screams at me for no valid reason, guitarists that compensate for lack of talent with volume and distortion, and bass and drums that make me feel like I’m being struck between the eyes repeatedly with a ball peen hammer.

“Away From You” opens with the aforementioned interesting guitar figures. Not exactly riffs or a hook, but a counter melody that’s fun to hear and that carries the track along nicely. The band has a great feel for dynamics, shifting the arrangement to match the track’s narrative arc as we swing from verse to chorus to bridge and back. The solo voice over acoustic guitars as things wind down is a pleasant touch. But don’t be fooled by the false ending.

Regular readers of Reverb Raccoon (both of them, including the cat) know that, as a Certified Music Journalist, I am obligated to inject at least one Obscure Reference into each review. All music journalists do this in order to exhibit our Encyclopedic Knowledge of Popular Music. And if I don’t, the union will send a scrawny hipster wearing cargo shorts to the house to rip that coveted Music Press card from the hatband of my Fedora. Hey, he’s tougher than he looks. Anyway, the Obscure Reference for Today: “Away From You” brings to mind “Apollo” by Atomic Cafe, an excellent but requisitely obscure band from Minnesota that we featured last week. What? No, that isn’t self-promotion.

“Away From You” is the new single from The Con Way, a Sharon, MA band comprising Paul Fleming (guitar, vocals), Adam Selsman (guitar, vocals), Justin Wilbur (bass), and Sam Pinkowitz (drums). The band has a great backstory, which we lifted from their Bandcamp page: “The Con Way was formed in 2013 when its members were in high school. At the end of college, the band reunited to write and produce their first project, A Spiral Down [a four-track EP released last year].”

You can support deserving independent musicians like The Con Way by visiting their Bandcamp page, listening to their songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. And be sure to follow The Con Way on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Soundcloud.