Monster Rally – Psychic

by The Insomniac

From his Facebook:

“Monster Rally is the project of Ted Feighan who crafts tracks from his record collection, combining his interests in Hip-hop, Exotica, and Tropicalia.”

I didn’t know Tropicalia was a word but it conveys the feeling behind a lot of Feighan’s music very well. His works is an instrumental dreamscape of samples and effects creating some of the most unique atmospheres I’ve heard. I judge music by how well it can transport me to somewhere else and Monster Rally seems to do that effortlessly with each track, all of them able to stand on their own occupying some singular niche environment. Here’s some of my travel notes from his most recent 5-track release Psychic:

Same Dance: The beginning feels like you’re wandering aimlessly through a dreary mist. Chimes dance around you and vague mechanical parts move and churn in harmony. It’s as if you are inside some kind of hypnotic clock that comes to life and sings when no one is looking.

Swami: I’m now at some outdoor bonfire by the beach, maybe a luau. I also forgot I dropped acid an hour ago – the drums, flames, and ritual dancing are all starting to melt into some warped portrait of tropical bliss.

Quiet Harlem: Off the beach and back in the city, I find myself in some dark lounge underground accompanied by a big orchestral band channeling disembodied crooning howls to give direction to their ghostly medley of horns and monotonous piano.

Parachute: I’m waking up in what seems like an Incan village, it’s hot and bright. I’m surrounded by green. I start to wander to find an eternal tribal celebration going on by the waterfall in the distance.

Bus Ride: It’s time for a goodbye. There’s a feeling of longing, wishing it had lasted longer. I ride off into the sunset at the end of a film where the setting is an odd mix of “Jungle” and “Western”. Everything becomes ethereal in the final minute, I hear a crackle of fire, and finally drift off.

Enjoy your travels – and check out the rest of his work while you’re at it.

Top 100 Albums of 2015

by, Art Carny

Without further ado, I present to you the best one hundred albums (and ep’s) of 2015 (in alphabetical order, because rankings are arbitrary and comparing one album to another is apples and oranges in that each is an individual work, seeking independent outcomes and presenting varying experiences).  Enjoy and see you in 2016, the year of the monkey…

Alex Calder, Strange Dreams (Captured Tracks)
All Dogs, Kicking Every Day (Salinas)

Ava Luna, Infinite House (Western Vinyl)
Aye Nako, The Blackest Eye (Don Giovani)

Beach House, Depression Cherry (Sub Pop)

Beach House, Thank Your Lucky Stars (Sub Pop)

Continue reading

Mixtape Monday – Tape 10: Side A – “Hang Ten with the Surf Ape”

by, Art Carny

The best way I can properly describe the theme for this mixtape is to do so with a little help from the dialogue intro to Weezer’s 1994 hit, “Undone – The Sweater Song”:

[Matt:] Hey bra, how we doin’ man?
[Karl:] All right.
[Matt:] It’s been a while man, life’s so rad!
This band’s my favorite man, don’t ya love ’em?
[Karl:] Yeah.
[Matt:] Aw man, you want a beer?
[Karl:] All right.
[Matt:] Aw man, this is the best. I’m so glad we’re all back together and stuff.
This is great, man.
[Karl:] Yeah.
[Matt:] Hey, did you know about the party after the show?
[Karl:] Yeah.
[Matt:] Aw man, it’s gonna be the best, I’m so stoked! Take it easy bra’.

Mixtape Monday – Tape 9: Side B – “The Fabulous Number 9”

by, Art Carny

A moment of silence for the memory of Mixtape #9.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Thank you.

And now a look at the ever so special, newly released, never before heard, recently unarchived, barely legal, potentially brilliant, and overwhelmingly sought after mixtape of the ninth kind.

Enjoy.

Mixtape Monday – Tape 9: Side A – “ALL CAPS OR NOTHING AT ALL”

by, Art Carny

WANTED TO WRITE THIS PREFACE IN ALL CAPS THIS TIME.  I REALIZED THE OTHER DAY THAT I WRITE ON PAPER IN ALL CAPS, BUT I NORMALLY TYPE LOWER CASE.  THIS MADE ME THINK ABOUT MEDIUMS – MORE SPECIFICALLY, THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A PEN AND A KEYBOARD.  I READ AN ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST THE OTHER DAY THAT TALKED SPECIFICALLY ABOUT HOW THE DIGITAL AGE PREFERS PRINT TO E-READING.  THEN I REALIZED I WAS READING THE ARTICLE ON MY FUCKING COMPUTER AND DECIDED TO ORDER A YEAR’S SUBSCRIPTION OF THE WASHINGTON POST SO I CAN NEVER ENCOUNTER SUCH IRONY EVER AGAIN.  BUT HERE I AM, TYPING THIS BLOG, WHICH I GUESS USED TO BE CALLED A MAGAZINE?  I ALSO CAME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT I’VE NEVER READ ANYTHING IN A MAGAZINE, EVER.  I’VE BOUGHT THEM FOR LONG PLANE RIDES AND END UP LOOKING AT THE PICTURES AND PICKING THE SUBSCRIPTION SLIPS OFF THE FLOOR WHEN THEY FALL FROM THE PAGES.  AIRPORTS HAVE TO BE THE NUMBER ONE SELLER OF MAGAZINES.  THERE’S NO WAY SOMEONE HAS EVER TAKEN THAT SUBSCRIPTION SLIP, FILLED IT OUT, AND ACTUALLY MAILED-IN A CHECK… AT LEAST NOT WITH A REAL NAME OR A REAL CHECK.  DAMN, I’M OBSERVANT AND CYNICAL.  STOP READING THIS AND LISTEN TO THE MUSIC I’VE PUT TOGETHER IN THE FORM OF A DIGITALLY STREAMED MIXTAPE, WHICH PEOPLE USED TO MAKE OUT OF CASSETTES.  I SEE CASSETTES HAVE BECOME THE NEXT HIP CONFIGURATION.  I HAVE A LOT OF MATERIAL ON THIS, BUT I’LL ACTUALLY STOP NOW.   BYE.

Neon Indian – VEGA INTL. Night School

by The Insomniac

Top Tracks: Glitchy Hive, Annie, Slumlord, Baby’s Eyes

Night School is a in its own right a debut, the product of smashing together of Alan Palomo’s two musical endeavors, Neon Indian and VEGA. Neon Indian pre-VEGA was always a quirky take on electro-pop, each release full of some hits but many misses, and it always lacked a certain edge. Focusing all of his influences into one outlet however has yielded a more fully realized sound – it’s a groove and you need to sink your teeth into it.

Think RAM-era Daft Punk meets The Avalanches at a swanky pool party turned cheesy discotheque. It’s first and foremost a dance record that carries a constant, dripping, groovy beat throughout the work; it’s the only static element among an onslaught of samples, obnoxiously funky synths, and watery percussion.

The warped funk of tracks like “Street Machine” scream a scene baked in radiant sun. It carries an auditory distortion similar to the churned images and mangled sounds of laughter experienced when you bob your head repeatedly through the surface of the pool water stealing glimpses of the commotion above.

The atmospheres evoked from each track are vibrant, each unique, and transition seamlessly throughout an album that really should be listened to from start to finish for the full effect. “Glitzy Hive” is an obvious standout, a vivid track full gleaming synthplay with an intoxicating chorus featuring a blissful whistling flute that hits some ethereal sweet spot – a massage of the mindgasm gland in between repeat shouts of “Move your body” or “She wants your body”… Not quite sure which it is and the internet doesn’t agree, so I just assume it’s the latter.

There’s lust prowling on the periphery of this music, exemplified on tracks like “Dear Scorpio Magazine” where Palomo sings of the raw intensity of eye contact with some impossible goddess carrying a hypnotic, enslaving gaze. “Man, I feel a certain way” he sings helplessly, an example of the vague descriptions we’re left with when at a loss for words to describe sudden desire. It’s the darkest of bright ecstasies; you’re caught speeding down a city street in slow motion, night enveloping the foreground, a full fledged addict running to destinations bright like neon love.

The Dead Weather – Lose the Right

by The Insomniac

mmmm…. I’m all for stars going out on their own to venture off into new sounds and experiment, but with Jack White’s recent releases, there seemed to be a piece missing or maybe too much self indulgence and not enough people saying “no”. You can argue all you want that some of his side projects with other musicians are mere vehicles to showcase his wackiness under new light, but there’s a different sound that’s produced when there’s more than one head in the room writing songs.

The White Stripes struck a cord with the masses – a perfect amount of grit and weeping falsetto, noisy angst and sheer volume. They were the kings of alt-rock in the early 21st century. People are meant to evolve but it’s hard not to compare the new ventures to past creations, especially creations so addicting they took up residence in our headspace relentlessly. The Raconteurs were a more tame cut of that sound as if White felt the heavy boot of radio airplay coercing them with promises of fame if they traded away some edge. His solo work was intimate, slower, and had its roots in basic blues. The Dead Weather however is the only project I’ve heard from him that came close to matching the veracity of the Stripes. Hypnotic with an otherworldly flare, desolate with a dystopian spine, it sounds like something haunting is being released from their instruments – as if they are channeling some ghostly electric muse who loves excessive organ in each song. That grit is more at home here than anywhere else. And it thrives. Makes for nice creepy musical goodness this Halloween season.

“Lose the Right” is one of the standout tracks from The Dead Weather’s new album Dodge and Burn, out this past September. If records were dreams, this one would be the biggest nightmare yet. That’s mostly a compliment for a band like them. Check it out and enjoy.