Monday, April 13, 2009

Review: Sandwich by Psychostick

Rock Ridge Music
Release Date: May 5th, 2009

Psychostick is certainly in a league of their own. They play music that borders on hardcore, with impressive instrumentation and breakdowns galore. In other words, nothing terribly distinguishable. Then, there are the lyrics that cast them into a completely different realm of music. Call it humorcore.

The indie scene was blessed with the release of Incredibad earlier this year, providing talented, legit songs that were also side-splitting. Sandwich, for better or worse, is in a similar vein, creating seriously funny tunes that are also, well, good. They play an in-your-face style of metal/hardcore, but the vocals are clean and comprehensible, which is obviously important since they are important to the whole schtick. To fans familiar with the brand of music, it should not come off as abrasive at all, although it has its share of intense moments. Even if it seems too “hard” on the surface, it is actually worth the listen to derive the humor from the songs. After all, they are not serious at all and the contrast between quasi-hardcore and the silly, mundane lyrics (as on Incredibad) make the album that much funnier.

A candidate for most random album title and concept of all time, Sandwich has plenty of food-themed songs to whet your appetite (groan.) The almost-title track, “This Is Not A Song, It’s A Sandwich” is a prime example of the complete ridiculousness of the lyrics in a Psychostick song/sandwich. In essence, one could derive the idea behind any of the songs from their title, and in this case it is literally a defense of how the track-in-question is not a song, but is rather a type of delicatessen delight, and how it could not possibly be a host of other things (“It couldn’t be a chick, ‘cause it doesn’t want to marry.” Amen, brother.) Does it make any sense? It defies all logic, but the intense defense is unavoidably funny. Anyone who has stepped foot into a grocery store can relate to “Grocery Escape Plan,” a simple tale of stream-of-consciousness thoughts that occur while grocery shopping, punctuated at nearly every syllable. Actually, a good deal of the songs are relatable. Take “Don’t Eat My Food” for instance, which is a brutal look at the infuriating occurrence of having a coveted item of food eaten by someone else. “Caffeine” sounds exactly like a song that would be on a caffeine rush and consequently crashing from it. Aside from the universality of food, there are other topics touched upon, as the redundancy and frustrations of minimum wage jobs (aptly titled “Minimum Rage”), bombardment by spam (“You’ve Got Mail Enhancement”), and subtly getting back at a slightly frustrating roommate (“Passive Vengeance”) all deliver the laughs while maintaining a decent level of musicianship. “#1 Radio $ingle” is an all-too-perfect satire of commercial radio, literally spelling out the recipe for success in the song while purposely sounding extremely bland enough to be tolerable by nearly anyone.

It is audibly possible to tell that Psychostick clearly do not give a shit and are clearly not serious, and you almost get the feeling that any small idea that they get becomes the concept for a song (“Orange” almost takes the ridiculousness a bit too far, but it is still passable because of its delivery.) However, the band is quite talented, and makes the album a multidimensional one, with actual musical ability combining with actual humor. The immediate impact of the album is impossible to avoid, lending it to be repeatedly listened to while still being effectively funny. In sum, the self-created hype surrounding Sandwich is pretty much deserved and spot-on, as the album is exactly what to expect: Legitimately hard music and harder hitting laughs. You could do a lot worse than to sit through the hoagie-in-disguise that is Sandwich.

Psychostick - BEER! (from We Couldn't Think of a Title)



Tuesday, April 7, 2009

News on Upcoming Set Your Goals LP

So, big news ... for me anyway. Three years after the California six-piece's first full length, Mutiny!, Set Your Goals has completed their follow-up LP and plan on releasing it on July 21. So what if I found out like a month after the band officially released this information, I've been waiting for this shit to drop since I first got into SYG! According to vocalist Matt Wilson, " ... this record is 10x the record Mutiny! was in every way and we think you'll all agree." That's a pretty hefty promise considering how fucking good Mutiny! was but I really can't say I doubt it for a second. Wilson went on to tell fans that this yet-to-be-named album will be "faster, less goofy, more complex musically and lyrically." The album will be released with the help of Epitaph Records (screw you, Eulogy). Right now, you can catch the guys as they tour with New Found Glory, Bayside, and Shai Hulud ... still hoping to make the Boston show on April 30th.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Nine Inch Nails!

Just like that, Trent comes out of nowhere and drops a new album on the world, just like he did with the decent, free The Slip last year. After interminable delays between albums, Trent has been cranking them out as of late! Year Zero, its respective remix album, four Ghosts albums, The Slip, and now Strobe Light. Produced by the one and only Timbaland (nice move, Trent!), it features such eclectic guest spots by the likes of Jay-Z, Chris Martin, Sheryl Crow, Maynard James Keenan and Justin Timberlake! The last two join Trent on the long overdue sequel to "Closer" aptly titled "Even Closer." The first single is apparently "Everybody's Doing It," the forceful foursome to be recokned with for 2009, including the aforementioned Martin and Hov along with freakin' Bono!

Do yourself a favor and snag this album now, while it's still available. All you need is a valid e-mail address. Thanks Trent for making the day so special for fans and music lovers alike.

Fuckin' cleverly crafted BSoD....

Artist to Watch: Jukebox the Ghost

Hey e'rybody! Sorry for seemingly not giving a shit about the blog, things have been pretty hectic but I figured Gary could use a break from basically being the only contributor for the past month to tell you about an awesome new band called . . . Jukebox the Ghost!

I found out about this D.C. trio a couple weeks ago (completely on my own, obviously!) and have been unable to pull myself away from their unique brand of piano-infused indie rock. Think Ben Folds but with the dramatic flair of Queen and grandious creativity of The Flaming Lips. At some points, they might even make you think this is what Schroeder's (from the Peanuts) band would sound like. Anyway, immediately upon first listen, you'll discover just how infectious Jukebox the Ghost really is. The lyrics of frontman Ben Thornewell serve as the insanely optimistic and jovial centerpiece of the group, whether he is spittin rhymes about hiding your love away in the extremely bubbly "Hold It In" or the apparent end of the world in the, somehow, still upbeat "Beady Eyes On The Horizon." It is with this, as well as the catchy guitar work of Tommy Siegel and steady drumming of Jesse Kristin, that Jukebox the Ghost is able to perfectly capture the feelings of happiness and lightheartedness in every melody they create. In a nutshell, listening to the tunes of JTG will put a smile on your face. Do yourself a huge favor and check out their LP entitled Let Live and Let Ghosts.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B