It’s a brand-new day and where I felt safe before, now, not so much. I’ve jetted back and forth from NY to AZ and so I’ve been fortunate to be out in the desert, but I realize that so many people I’ve come to know, aren’t as like-minded as I’d like them to be. For the most part, it would be fine but things are beginning to impede my own safety and health of my family. The virus still remains a serious factor all over the world and now it’s diving headfirst into the no-coast. No, I’m not buying into it being a “plandemic” or a government conspiracy, I’m dealing with what’s in front of me.
I’ve also seen all the political turmoil turned upside down, in my own backyard. I live in a city, a state, where guns are as readily available as confederate flags. It’s a juxtaposition of two different worlds coexisting but with one having no respect for the other. Insanity. But we have music.
Last year Self Jupiter – of Freestyle Fellowship fame – release the dope Sexy Beast, an airy 10 tracks album filled with heady lyricism and this year he also dropped the EP. Today he drops a new fiery single, “The Master’s Lemonade” (The Order Label), which mirrors a disjointed 2020 filled with confusion. The message is clear; just like the protests on streets, his rallying cry is a call to action as well. Self Jupiter delivers it with a cadence that’s all too inviting.
Yet another single dropping today is by Pittsburgh’s own Limousine Beach. The quintet takes a 70’s grandiose rock sound, reimagine an all but dead style, breathing new life into it. And that’s just in the group’s “Stealin’ Wine,” (Tee Pee Records) filled with harmonies, clashing big rock guitars and a thumping rhythm section that would of course make KISS blush. The crunch of guitars match note for note, and there’s no slowing anything down here. The band cleverly includes two more tracks with just the right amount of bite in “Hear You Calling” and the frenetic “Tiny Hunter.” I’m sure Eddie Van Halen is grinning somewhere thinking, “Yeah, these guys are the shit.”
Of course, still on their game is Cleveland’s own Mourning [A] BLKstar who recently released the album The Cycle just last month. Today, the band releases the appropriately titled “//Juneteenth//.” The song is dark and moody, filled with a melancholy that will crack and break hearts worldwide. The pain can be felt universally and plinking keyboard notes set against the vocal imagery, are utterly stunning.
I’ll avoid the useless pleasantries and begin by stating, yes, it’s easy to be a fan of Gregory Pepper & His Problems. Under A Heather Moon is his third release this year, on the heels of I Know Now Why You Cry (Fake Four, Inc.) and The Complete “Dad Year” Recordings (2017-2018). And yes, I am a fan and I’m not ashamed to say so either.
His new release contains 10 tracks that move rather quickly with some just touching on ideas and lasting only seconds. But that’s fine because some of those ideas are magical and I don’t really mind. I do wish he would have explored those ideas further, like on the “Mayor’s Tomb,” filled with horns and harmonies that are so eloquent in delivery. Or even “Do Sports,” which moves at a much quicker pace drenched in piano but ends too quickly obviously. The lengthier “Whoa Dude, Whoa,” at an extended 38 seconds, is filled with a combination of everything that attracts listeners to Pepper’s style (loud guitars, harmonies, piano, etc.) but leaves listeners wanting more.
Pepper shifts with tracks that offer more and at almost 2 minutes long, “(Isolation)” holds much of its melancholy around his piano work. Yes, the track is a bit dramatic which suits the song fine as the sadness is wrapped around it. The pace is changed a bit with “Recluse Abandon,” and within the confines of a minute, Pepper is able to include a wide array sounds that are sonically challenging, and that’s not an easy task. Included here are 3 bonus tracks that are much longer and quite what we’d expect from Pepper. “Funny, Eh?” is where he wear his influences on his sleeves and it’s just perfect. And then of course we have the instrumental “Stoner Genius,” where he draws on stoner rock as his muse.
At times you may not be sure where Pepper is heading, either with Under A Heather Moon or any other of his releases. I don’t think you need to know because the surprise is everything! As I’ve done, just sit back and enjoy the ride, no matter where it may lead.
This week, releases are popping out of the woodwork, and that’s a good thing when it’s done for a good cause. Artists are contributing profits from the sales of their releases to the NAACP and more. Protests, arrests, and legal defense funds. Bandcamp is donating 100% of their share of sales to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund so it’s worth picking things up.
With that said, “back in the day” rapper Ordeal released a good deal of tracks throughout his existence hitting stages performing live. This week, the retired emcee, known to his friends and family as Niklas Oliver, dropped An Imperfect Sense Of Impending Doom (FilthyBroke Recordings), a compilation of tracks recorded from 2004 to 2013. This release follows up his 2010 album Good Night And Give Up, which was a banger of an album and on the new release, we can all hear the Boom Bap deliveries as well as the noisy excursions Ordeal previously mined.
With this album, it’s interesting to see/hear the progression of style throughout the years. The thing here though, there are some stand out cuts that require your full attention, maybe even repeatedly. Ordeal gets heavy on the dark and foreboding “No Glory In That,” backed by piano notes over a hypnotic rhythm. From that point on, it only gets better as he strikes harder on “Pop The Psychoplot” with heady lyricism over an addictive beat, as the deep blow of horns ravage through. On “Egging On An Embryo” he trades barbs with Abbadon while on “Hop Scotch Hypothesis” he’s backed by a friendly beat but it’s far from congenial as he waxes poetic. But it’s on “Tangent Target” where he again shares verses with Abbadon how the mood shifts. Backed by creative beats here that never stand still or allow listeners to expect what should come next, it borders on being intuitive. This one is possibly my favorite track for that beat alone.
In all, An Imperfect Send Of Impending Doom is well worth the listen, but I can’t end this without mentioning the catchiness of “Broken Monologue Begun,” which is dope AF! Did I forget about the bonus “Human Code (Remix)”? Well I didn’t now.
Everyone is getting on board. What do I mean? Well, there’s no bandwagon, it’s an actual cause many are contributing to. As the world is turned upside down by this virus, it’s also a time of action. I just mentioned the NAACP moments ago and on the opposite end of the musical spectrum, there are other artists in tune with a disjointed 2020.
The latest release by Joe Anderl this week, entitled I Love Joe Anderl (Bettawreckonize Media Label), shouldn’t be taken so literally. Obviously tongue-in-cheek, but Anderl is more than that. Vocalist/guitarist for Ohio’s The 1984 Draft, Anderl has stepped out on his own here with a new album of mostly acoustic tracks that rip as well as his day job, sans overdriven guitars. But wait, this isn’t a new release, I guess I should have prefaced this album was originally released in 2007. Guess what though? It still holds up today. We can all see the correlation between this album and his role within The 1984 Draft. The opening “Dayton, OH” cannot be denied as one of the greatest odes to a hometown. The sweetness of the melodies of his vocals and lightly picked guitar are just on another level altogether.
Anderl accentuates some of his songs here with additional instruments like on the beautiful and melancholic “Heart Of God” with help of his Imaginary Friendship Choir (Jeremy Apland & Daryl Robbins). Subtle keyboard washes are a wondrous addition to the song that I can listen to repeatedly. He takes a bit of a different approach on “DCFC” with a more laconic, baritone vocal delivery, acoustic guitar, recorder, and other sounds. The effort pieced together works really well. Then there’s “Long Way Home” where he wears his heart on his sleeve with a love song that anyone and everyone can relate to. This over guitars and other instruments allow for a grandiose view of it all.
After listening to I Love Joe Anderl I’m left wondering where is the new album for his band, and when it’s coming. But in the meantime, I’m satisfied to have been able to discover this old album out today for a great cause. Yeah, the album is just as great.