Author Archive

Robert’s Reviews – Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s “Slingshot To Heaven”

Written by Adam Schenkel. Posted in Reviews

Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s have been around for nearly a decade now, and it seems like almost yesterday I heard their music. A few years ago before I got into any sort of independent music I had a friend mention something about this small band from Indianapolis that was stirring up some noise. I can’t fathom the amount of times I’ve gone through their entire discography and just embraced the pulsating aura that vibrates the soul with every chord in each of their songs. Slingshot To Heaven is no different from their other albums, and definitely follows the persona the band tries to fulfill.

Margot has not made any changes to their core composition over the past decade, and it shows in every song they produce. Slingshot To Heaven is a little bit lighter than their other productions, but it comes across as more conceptual in nature. It reminisces of not just life on the West Coast, but ultimately life anywhere except for “here”. Every song conveys an idea of being alone or living in another place that is not the present. “Hello San Francisco”, “Los Angeles”, and “Long Legged Blonde Memphis” are all direct references to famous cities located around the United States, and all fantasize about being there in the moment rather than stuck in the current life. The concept of growing up and wanting to be someone different in another place is a new idea from the group, and it sets a hopeful precedent for future albums.

U.S. Royalty – Blue Sunshine

Written by Adam Schenkel. Posted in Music, Reviews

The high-spirited indie alternative maxresdefault[1]band U.S. Royalty’s “Blue Sunshine” incorporates an older feel in its instrumentals and mixes that old-time ambiance with an updated and more modern take on vocals. The mostly upbeat songs on the record emulate more retro-sounding songs by integrating a few instruments not commonly used in modern alternative such as the mellotron and organ.The band also included various synthesizers to create a different sound and personalize their music. Songs on the album that most evidently display this infatuation with older instrumentals are “Slow Dancing,” which puts out a bit of an 80s feel and “Valley of the Sun” which is slightly reminiscent of the 60s. Some of the sounds are even comical to an extent; in “South Paradiso” the song begins with a trailing guitar sound usually found in songs associated with the beach, much like the opening in the song “Wipeout.” This excursion from the typical sounds of alternative music exhibits the band’s playful affinity for deviating from normalcy and creating their own, blended sound.

The compilation of dated and modern instruments is accompanied by a powerful and confident voice. John Thornley, the lead singer, emits a self-assured tone when he is performing; he gradually raises his voice higher and louder like he is extending his voice and himself to the audience to emphasize his lyrics and his forward emotions. There is something slightly immature in the way Thornley sounds; his bold outbursts are resonant of teenage expression. Alongside these tracks of intrepid vocals and musical flashbacks, is the song “De Profundis,” which infuses the album with a strictly instrumental track. The gripping guitar played by Paul Thornley, vibrates with dark, daring, and suspenseful undertones.  After the unusual, but intriguing guitar break, the album delves right back into the hard-hitting and assured vocals. This catchy and rhythmic album takes a few chances by imitating an older sound, switching up instruments and synthesizers with background vocals, and putting forth uninhibited and brazen vocals. U.S. Royalty’s album is distinctive and definitely something to move to. -Rhianna Slager

Joywave – “How Do You Feel?”

Written by Adam Schenkel. Posted in Music, Reviews

The EP How Do You Feel? from the band “Joywave” employs appealing rhythms, some rather strange sounds, joywaveand an engaging lead singer to create a different, sometimes over the top, but still intriguing album.

The first song “Tongues” begins with, what I find, an extremely irritating sound. A girl making strange “bleep” noises in the background periodically interrupts the otherwise enjoyable song. Other than the strange noise that seems to just be tossed into the record, the male singer has a pleasant and interesting voice that helps to bring out the more attractive instruments and sounds in the background. After hearing the first song I was left slightly annoyed, but still wanting to hear more.

The next song, “In Clover” begins with another strange stream of synthesized sounds, not quite as irritating as the first, but I still found it weird and unnecessary. As the song continues and the singer begins, I was dismayed to find that his voice is recorded in a bizarre echoic fashion that makes him sound distant and alien. In the middle of the song the out-of-this-universe mood continues with an extremely creepy voice repeating “I’ll be your clover.” After that song had finished I was beginning to think that maybe the first song had made me a little too hopeful, but then as the third song came on, I regained an optimistic outlook.

While the beat in “Somebody New” is still more different and edgier than what I usually hear in songs, it works well to create a sense of excitement and the singer’s voice returns to normal to sound exhilarated by what he is singing. The third song still applies synthesized sounds, but this time they work to the song’s advantage. The beats from the drum in the background help keep all the different elements in balance.

The fourth and final song of the EP, “Now,” continued to keep my interest, sounding somewhat like the alternative band “Phoenix”. The song is fast-pace and it seems like a good song to play late at night if you want to listen to something to keep you moving and uplifted.  Towards the very end of “Now,” the fast drum begins to slow down and it appears that many of the instruments have now finished their part and taken a break as the song gradually fades out, announcing the end.

Overall I think this new EP from “Joywave” is a pretty good record to move around to and keep you awake on weekends, although you may want to skip the second song.

-Rhianna Slager

Shaman’s Selections: Issue – Liquid Wisdom

Written by Adam Schenkel. Posted in Music, Reviews

It’s no secret that The Point tends to stick to music in the realm of indie and alternative rock. Sure, some songs with a little bit more of an electronic influence or maybe even some folk songs may find their way into the station’s playlist, but for the most part we keep it pretty indie. And that’s completely OK, its how radio stations work and there’s nothing wrong with it. But any fool knows that there are abundant multitudes of different types of music. Rock, jazz, classical, electronic, pop, punk, metal, and many other genres and sub-genres populate the overarching idea known as music. I like darn near every genre out there, but one of my definite favorites is the umbrella of hip-hop and rap. That’s where this review comes in. We’re putting a hip-hop review on the website, and it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because this album is really good, and deserves to have words written about it. By me. So lets get to it.

Issue – Liquid Wisdom

liquid wisdom

Hip-hop and rap have many cultural hubs, and of course the paramount examples of these include the East Coast scene which is essentially New York City, and the West Coast scene, of which Los Angeles is typically considered the capital. These scenes have been competing, feuding, and doing their own thing since the genre’s birth back in the 1980’s, with a peak in the prominence of the two scenes in the ’90s. Music is still pouring out of these scenes, though in my opinion the West Coast certainly currently has the qualitative edge over the East. Big names have been coming out of the L.A. rap scene and captivating hordes of listeners, notably Kendrick Lamar and his Black Hippy crew and Tyler, the Creator and his Odd Future crew to name a few. That music is really good, which is great, but that’s not what this review is about. This review is about revealing an album from a scene almost just as vibrant, and some 400 miles north of L.A. The San Francisco Bay Area is home to one of the most exciting and active scenes in rap right now, though it hasn’t garnered nearly the attention, which is a shame, as some quality releases simply get overlooked. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not like this album would be bumping in every youth-owned stereo in the country had Issue come from the more acclaimed L.A. area instead of the Bay Area scene (he’s specifically from Vallejo, on the north end of the bay), the album is still pretty out-there, and maybe a bit inaccessible for some listeners. But that doesn’t mean you can’t emit it from your (potentially youth-owned) stereo.

One of the more prominent figures in the Bay Area rap scene is E-40, and he’s been so since the early 90’s. His stuff is pretty good. He has a son, Droop-E, who also raps, and his stuff is pretty swell as well. The music of this father/son pair is pretty straightforward, nothing out-of-the-ordinary hip-hop, and of course there’s nothing wrong with being ordinary, especially when your work is good. However, E-40 has another son, and Droop-E has a teenage brother. This guy also raps, and his name is Issue.

To be honest, Issue is a bit of a weird bird, and his music reflects that quality; it’s pretty experimental and kinda out-there. I’ve never had a problem with oddity, however. One of the great things about hip-hop is how varied it can be, with styles ranging from fast, raucous, and loud (a fairly solid example of something like this would be the music found on a label like Tech N9ne’s Strange Music) to styles that favor slower beats, hazy atmosphere, and overall a more chilled-out vibe (the relatively new phenomena called “Cloud Rap” partially pioneered by A$AP Rocky’s first mix-tape comes to mind), and of course there’s material styled everywhere in between. “Liquid Wisdom” occupies the realm closer to the second example. For the most part, the tempo is slow, the album carries a distinctly relaxing vibe, and a fairly hazy atmosphere is present as well.  Most songs carry a traditional hip-hop beat format and structure, and those songs definitely don’t suffer because of it, however, one of the songs that steps out of this zone (Livin’ on a Dream) ends up as one of the stop tracks. It’s a little poppier, with fewer legitimate rap verses and more of a style more akin to singing, and the beat almost calls to mind some sort of atmosphere from the 80’s or early 90’s. “Liquid Wisdom” also succeeds through the power of variety; no two songs sound too similar. This diversity makes the listen all that much more engaging, locking in the listener’s interest through the remarkably odd yet undeniably catchy and addictive tracks that populate the album.

One of the more peculiar yet more pleasant aspects of the album is its primary lyrical focus: drinking tea. This is pretty unusual, but certainly original and makes for a welcome shift from many of the regular archetypes of rap lyrics, though it’s not to say that every line focuses on the consumption of Issue’s favorite beverage, there are references to plenty of other things (I think he may have a slight fascination with Europe). Now, I don’t have any problems in the slightest with profanity and vulgarity (to be fair, I’m pretty guilty myself), but I’ll also never have a problem with listening to hip-hop that doesn’t feature some sort of curse once per line. Honestly, its pretty refreshing to experience lyrics without excessive profanity for a multitude of reasons; the ability to use everyday words while crafting lyrics shows a sort of skill, and the experience of listening to rap that doesn’t focus solely on bedding an exorbitant number of women or imbibing as many psychoactive substances as possible also shows Issue’s raw talent; the talent to craft good music that focuses solely on itself and places no importance on that of other artists. This album doesn’t fall into the fair number of stereotypes common in hip-hop (though these stereotypes definitely don’t inherently detract from the music), but “Liquid Wisdom” is all the better for it.

If I say anymore about the music itself I feel that I’ll begin to drift into arbitrary discussion that ultimately accomplishes nothing; I keep the belief that words are inadequate substitutes for experience. So instead I’ll just have to tell you that if you like chill music, especially chill hip-hop, check this album out. Its a breath of fresh air, and pretty addictive too. Final summation: The album cover sums up the music pretty well. Listen to it. I always question the true value of rating systems with regards to music, but as I’m obligated to pick one, I’d go with something like 4.3 out of 5. Like I said earlier, it may be a little harder to get into for some people than many other releases, but if you do get it, “Liquid Wisdom” is quite the treat.

If you’re interested in hearing the album, Issue has a SoundCloud where it is currently streaming, and many magazine and blog pages also have the stream embedded. Also available from the SoundCloud page is a free download.

social media links

Copyright © 2011 WCYT The Point 91.1 FM