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Issue 152-153 Recording Reviews
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Issue 152-153_ Records that Escaped Reviewing

Here at The Trouble With Normal we remain interested in hearing some of the music that you have been making and recording – and have been since the fall of 1992. Feel free to send your vinyl, CDs or tapes ("for sale" only or at least take the effort to make a cover for them. This goes for CD-Rs also.) to our cramped but we call it home P.O. Box so we can possibly review it. It may take us a while to get to them (we do have obligations in our lives not related to this zine) but we will review them in time and guarantee an honest review Until the next issue, here are some recordings that just might interest you. Please feel free to read on, get interested, and hope you find something you like. Hope to hear your music soon. Boone.

EDITOR'S NOTE: To mark the end of 2017/beginning of 2018, the record review section will be in two parts. The first is music intended to be covered this issue (or just pushed back in time for this). The second part will be recordings that escaped reviewing for some reason but are worth noting. Now, on with the piping hot and fresh reviews....

DON'T MIND DYING - I Drink With Ghosts CD

I was hoping to get this reviewed in the last issue but time issues kept me from doing so. The full length debut from DMD (and follow-up to 2013's self titled EP) begins with a dobro driven country blues lament before kicking into some high octane hard driving blues rock that borders on vintage flavored metal at times. Forged by warm crunchy guitar and driving (yet appropriate) keyboards, these songs kick down the door with a bit of raunchy swagger and go for the listeners face, laying back just enough for the right moment to go in for the kill. Taking on the ups and downs of life, the band harnesses what they see around them into a sound that draws from what's now called classic rock but with more energy and a power to match. While this album might not appeal to all readers, those who have a hankering for some vintage sounding rock will likely find something here to enjoy. (BOONE)
(cdbaby.com/dontminddying1)

ESCAPE-ISM - Introduction to Escape-ism LP

Wanted to hear this ever since I first learned about it a few months back. The debut album from Ian Svenonius' side/solo project emerges with a simmering blast of lo-fi meets medium hi tech songs. Built on stripped down electronics along with some (sometimes overly) distorted guitar hooks, these songs are detached sonic commentaries that blend personal topics such as loneliness, love, and the like with some hints of political themes in the mix. What emerges to the aural surface lies in a sonic gray area between garage rock and almost industrial sonic beds with a sometimes sly, sometimes obtuse delivery that's part social commentary and part artistic concept. Escape-ism isn't likely to be a mainstream pop smash, but it was never intended to be. However, if you like seeing a mix of DIY sense of adventure and a sound that takes raw crudeness and gives it a hint of hi tech polish, then odds are you're already curious in the time it took you to read this review; if you haven't already begun to stream this or find a way to pick up a copy. (BOONE)
(Merge Records. P.O. Box 1235. Chapel Hill, NC 27514. mergerecords.com)

HAR MAR SUPERSTAR - Personal Boy EP

This had been out for a bit but I wasn't able to get a copy until I saw him play at the end of October so this was the earliest I could review it. The latest EP from Har Mar Superstar finds him and his band aiming for a blend of groove laden R&B and a more ambient slow sonic burn. Built on a somewhat minimalist instrumental beds, the tracks here leave space to breathe that almost reveals as much as the stories the lyrics tell. From the epic slow burn of the title track to the more groove fueled mid tempo ragers, the songs build from an electro soul vibe where electric drums and synth bass form a groove that simmers rather than explodes, thus leaving room for these tales of love, lust, and trying to arise from the ashes. It's a moody ride that you can dance to but hints at something more underneath the surface throughout. If you're into Har Mar Superstar you already know what to expect (hell, many of you probably already own this) but could be a great ear opener for fans of similar styles of music (80s funk, electro soul, et al) who aren't hipped to him yet. Always fun to hear his music. (BOONE)
(harmarsuperstar.com)


MDC - Mein Trumpf LP

News about this album came seemingly out of nowhere so when I had to chance to hear it I had to take the chance. Mein Trumpf finds MDC harnessing a blend of hardcore punk fury with elements of classic hard rock and a slight metal touch into a sonic weapon. Starting with a title track taking on the racist and possible fascist leanings of electoral vote winner Donny, the band uses the songs to take on topics ranging from class warfare to drones to addiction to commercialism and product placement and back again with a medium fast gallop and a lot of hard driving energy. Sonically, the band comes off carrying the best parts of their earlier albums and forging it into a modern take on punk that demands a response. At a time when we seem to be speeding tremendous bigly towards a time when leadership seems intent on embracing Nazis (but is more than likely to settle for a Donny-fied equivalent of apartheid for US) and other bullshit, a band like MDC is needed now more than ever. Has been out on CD for a bit but should be available on vinyl (hopefully) around February so be on the lookout. (BOONE)
(Primordial Music)

LUCAS OSWALD - Whet LP

I was curious about this when I heard it was coming out but word of mouth drove me to check out a stream of it. On his latest, Lucas takes his knack for hooks and hybrid indie pop-rock songs and heads towards a more inward looking, almost melancholy at times, sonic approach. Guitar based personal songs are layered with effects laced keyboards at points and in the pocket hooks throughout. What emerges from the mix are sparsely arranged musical statements that lure the listener in and linger within the mind and lingers in the consciousness. While Whet is a slight change from some people's expectations of Lucas Oswald, the album shows an artist venturing down a different path while staying true to his vision. (BOONE)
(Cosmic Traveler)

SHADY BUG - tbh idk cassette EP

I'd been curious about this St. Louis band for a while but didn't really get to check this tape out until after I saw them the night before the solar eclipse back in August and picked this up. On their debut, Shady Bug deliver some introspective leaning pop meets noise rock built on lingering song hooks and an often clean/dissonant dynamic. These personal songs lure the listener in slowly as bittersweet almost clean guitar arpeggios lean into wall of overdrive (if not outright distortion) guitar sonic beds that grab your ears and drag you along for the ride. It's a sonic journey that details personal issues where things seem to contrast yet might have something hidden under the surface. The sonic layers can take you by surprise yet manage to keep one interested if they pay attention and are willing to see where this aural road takes them. Shady Bug harnesses a blend of early to mid 90s alt rock and drives it on a collision course with noise rock and a very slight hint of punk. What emerges is something that's definitely worth checking out.
(shadybug.bandcamp.com)






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