Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Some recent reviews I did for Still Single...

Is it still hatorade if the substance actually has a bitter taste to it? If not, what bev-y is that? Unequivocally-bad-artorade? Cause I be drinkin’ that.

Cyanna  - The Undressed 12” EP (Oxymoron)

This self-released EP comes after two albums on Sony Music Entertainment – two failed attempts at latching onto temporal paths to success through emo-gone-bro electro party music in JUSTACRASH (2008), and the socio-political sentimentality of what I propose to describe as “neuticle metal” in 2010’s The End is Near. The latter has a pregnant belly on the cover and features the worst of the worst “I Wanna Be Your Dog” cover of all time. But let’s move forward, as Cyanna, hailing from the capitol of the dangerously overleveraged country of Greece, has attempted to do with their national economic narrative in tow. The Undressed EP finds them “stripped down,” and if that translates to switching off their synth, and sounding absolutely nothing like the band in previous albums, I’ll buy it.

It seems the recession did them a small artistic favor, as this EP is one rung above a lateral move stylistically; still, it has deposited them at bad Nick Cave or the only kind of Tom Waits, with strip-mall circus slummer alt country Americana. Absent are any girl problems or references to modernity. The only sign of the times is how squarely any of these four songs would befit network original series theme music: namely, Longmire, Breaking Bad or Boardwalk Empire. We should all hope these avenues reach out to them, not only because the music is so categorically that, but for all the money they would get, and how tidy an industry peripeteia it would make. Limited to 500 copies. (


Because its members graduated from a smarty-pants Arcadian liberal arts college (in this case, Oberlin), I can only assume that the name of Starring’s second album is a lazy abecedarius. This short verse composition would make an ideal device to corral Tourette’s-style, real time judgment into digestible bits of information; but in turn, would make a lazy record review. And we can’t let high-functioning autism win.

 A-Z starts out tits-deep in the “obfuscating freakout” portion of any psych record, a component only tolerable when earned through innovative composition. Bigger problems reveal themselves with the vocals: we got Tina Turner lyrics for no reason, folks. You can imagine how this idea was voted through (“I love it… so random!”). The arbitrary method is further exemplified in the second song, “ie,” this time through some off-hand rapping.

By the third song on, Starring makes some sense. Layered lines of upward-reaching synth pause for a pleasant parabolic verse that recalls anglo-Sigur Ros in “—————oooooooooooooo…,” a Yes-meets-Mike Oldfield thing happens, and “aphonia” further saves the day with a welcome tempo change and pentatonic scale riffage. They even brush up against epic at the end of “…7…” and “wo.”  The album can hang; however, with this much dexterity as a component of their sound, some strategic restraint would suit them well. The song titles are a microcosm of the irritating quirk found here, and this is coming from someone whose first word was “Dada.” Use your words. (

We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves - Make A Mess of Sacred Ground LP (4:3)

The Smiths are a band that generated so much fervent fandom, it grew legs and became a thing in itself. Artist Mark Van Fleet (Sword Heaven, Cum Daemon) referenced this thing-in-itself in 2003 with a piece entitled “Sing with Morrissey.” Banking on audience participation, he set up a video camera and, provided with the complete Smiths discography on CD, a Discman and headphones, visitors were encouraged to sing along to their favorite songs for the camera. The fact that renditions were captured a capella and without a vocal monitor or lyric source did little to deter a following.

Associative exhibitionism is irresistible. From the harmless and pedestrian compulsion to air drum when a favored song enters communal airwaves, to conspicuous genre solidarity amongst more serious heads, we see this play out with varying degrees of absurdity across an even more wavering line of intent. When one is say, bragging about how their favorite song for fucking is by Napalm Death, everyone needs to take a step back and listen to what they are really saying.

What is We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves saying with Make A Mess Of Sacred Ground? With eight unabashed rip-offs, perhaps it is to tell us that they have a business card from Girl Talk’s lawyer. Not even bothering to change the name of Morrissey’s protagonists (re: William), Make A Mess of Sacred Ground shamelessly lifts every tone, motif and structural element of The Smiths, with the only clue to an awareness of this in the album’s name. Inert matter tenuously attached to something with a pulse, composed of the same DNA but wholly unnecessary, this album is like afterbirth. Morrissey fans would find it sacrilegious, and those that dont like Morrissey sure won’t like this. Recommended only if you birthed these boys yourself. Four copies sold, maybe. (
Elizabeth Murphy
                                                                                                                           -from StillSingle