Or perhaps that title is “albums that got turned off”.
I have spoken a few times at the start of reviews about the struggle to find material but this time after three attempts over three days to find something, anything, worth reviewing, it became apparent that this should be the subject of this week’s post.
To be fair, in the middle of this, I got sent a recommendation by former review-ee David Von Beahm. He used to BFF one of the band and put them forward (like any friendly Muso should). Sadly, while it was good work, and everything was really well presented, it just wasn’t my cup of tea and I wasn’t going to be able to write them the positive review they deserved.
Instead of a typical review, this week I am taking a sample of the records that got enough of my attention to begin consideration but then got dismissed. I will walk you through the process and what went wrong. Each of these was on Bandcamp Discover searching under New Arrivals.
Machines After Dark – One Size Fits All
Great so far. Cool names. They have a Logo and the cover is charming in a certain sort of way that is doable in Punk. The band is described as:
A punk band from a shithole on the Oregon Coast.
James Hampton – Guitar and Vocals
I’m not so sure that is a wise idea but I will persevere. The album sadly only has one song that is one minute (and nine seconds to give them all their due). It sounds pretty dire. Again Punk so flexible.
And that’s it. All over red rover. I didn’t find anything unique or remotely interesting in their song (all one of it). Where are the other tracks? It gets worse though. I hit their Facebook link because they could be a new band. I don’t know because they have said nothing about themselves to help me understand why I should care about this record – with its one formula song. Here’s what I got:
So they can spend time drawing a Logo but can’t be bothered to give us a second song (let alone an interesting first one). And then they post me to outer space! I’ll pass thanks.
The Flaurist – Help Wanted
It was actually another track that drew me in. I recognized the “flower” and the music started interesting. As soon as I opened the “album” – to see it wasn’t an album but 3 remixes of the same track (call it an EP please) – I recognized this cover from a few weeks ago. That’s twice you’ve got me Mr. Flaurist.
The songs start like they are interesting but they absolutely aren’t. Sounds like I am being mean but honestly I am not. This is what he tells us about himself:
galaxy: milky way
form: aural paintings
creed: i understand
WTF is that in place of a BIO? You seems like a pretty decent looking fellow but you hide your face. You music sounds like it should be interesting but it isn’t. There is a pattern.
Hiding. Yes, hiding in plain sight. This artist can pretend he’s doing things but he is hiding because at no point does he allow us anywhere near him. That includes the faux singing. He thinks it clever & arty but is it career suicide.
I hang my head in despair at the number of acts I see doing this very thing.
You asked for help, here it is: Forget the Hipster garbage and start showing us who you are as a unique person with something real to say.
Ｄｉｇｉｔａｌ Ｉｍａｇｅ Ｐｌｕｓ ＬＴＤ – Digital Garbage II: Digital Boogaloo
Brought to me by Vivarium Recordings no less. So many big wordy names in one spot. This must be serious, Mum.
It isn’t. It is just more wandery (random) synth sounds and loops put through a faux Tape plugin that makes the music sound worse than it already is – which is pretty pointless. They couldn’t even be bothered to put a proper cover on it.
Make everything pink and waffle some about how arty it is – “a blink or you miss it experience that you don’t want to miss” – and you have every other slice of this kind of Vaporwave ever made. This isn’t music it is self-amusement for kids who want to relive Night Rider without taking the time watch a single episode.
I wish I had blinked.
Already Broken – Dying Signal
A proper cover and mixes that immediately sound like the act cares. Winning.
Notice anything? A Hint, notice anything missing?
Yep not a darned thing about who or what this act is. He’s from Iowa it appears – as if that explains everything. I think it a great irony that the formula Bandcamp Contact link reads as “Contact Already Broken”. That is his (assuming gender) marketing strategy right there.
Musically this starts well because there is a very neat, tight sound. As a regular Unigon Planer you may be wondering why I didn’t review this one. You know I like Metal.
Here’s what went wrong (apart from the lack of support material) the tracks are all just too formulaic. It is like someone who watched a pile of Mixing Tuts on YouTube got one of those Metal Guitar VSTs and set about making the “perfect” Instrumental Metal record.
I’m not upset if it was a VST “playing” the guitars. I wouldn’t be upset if it was a collection of lab rats playing for cheese. I am disinterested because this is a great sounding record with no purpose. This isn’t proper music, this is library music.
If that is what was intended then well done. You can pop this on one of those websites that offer hack film makers hack music for their hack productions. Everyone can pretend it is all very good. Except for real music fans.
If you want to make music then I think you have enough technical ability but stop watching YouTube Tuts and start making real music that isn’t a group of formulas. It is then that you might get real fans. Please send me a link if you do.
Hello Hopeless – Dark Pasts, Brighter Futures
Apart from the album name that looks more like a Govt sponsored anti-depression program for high school kids, this presents pretty darned well.
The music punches on in and sounds like we are going places. Then it heavies up. Then it falls into sounding like what you would get if you morphed Blink 182 with a dash of every other Emo band ever.
I would like to mean this in the good sort of way but it is just the wrong side of Clone to be entirely comfortable.
The boys do a pretty good job of supporting material with a working Facebook site. I must say the pics seem just a wee bit too safe for the band sound. These boys look more like a Jazz Trio than Blink Day or Green 182.
The guys are out there and doing it with a tour and everything. So good on em. And it is possible in future I may be asked to eat my words in passing on reviewing them. Here’s why I did:
The music is well recorded and all technically perfect but it isn’t remotely unique. Like the record above, you put all the formula parts together and thought that is what makes a great record.
You don’t credit having a Producer for this record. Maybe that is what went wrong, the studio guy was happy to help you tick all the boxes and didn’t want to endanger his pay by telling you that the material was perfectly cliche and therefore not remotely interesting to anyone as the Top 40 is/was covered in this sort of stuff already.
There is ability & drive here already so perhaps with a songwriter with the courage to step out of safety, and a Producer to stop you from retreating, you guys could go places. Happy to hear and review it then.