Lo-Fi One-Man Punk
Twin Cousins Records – June 17, 2017
J. Marinelli is known well around Lexington for his quick songs and only-the-essentials stage-setup – a guitar on his lap and drums set up at his feet. Though songs on Stray Volts move by quickly, Marinelli doesn’t use this as an excuse to phone it in with his lyrics. “The Dead Don’t Need Us” is a laid-back, slow track that uses ideas of vanity and fixation-with-life-on-earth to set up the repeated “the dead don’t need us.” Following immediately is the sub-one-minute-track, “Humble-Brag Man” – the shortest and fastest-moving track on the album. Despite the rapid-fire delivery of the lyrics, Marinelli packs the song with a harsh critique of the ‘humble-brag man’ (we all know one), ending the bridge with “his false modesty is such a drag.” The delivery on “Cocaine Activist” is more pronounced and pointed, where J. describes a ‘pat-yourself-on-the-back’ kind of guy taking advantage of us, the bridge ending in “with rhetoric so desperate, intentions that they motivate are less than pure, they’ll always leave you sore.” At four-and-a-half minutes, “Creak and Sway” is nearly twice as long as any other song on the album – it’s a dark song full of pain, and with a lot of room to breathe, it serves as a nice break from the intensity of much of the rest of the album. Stray Volts is J. Marinelli at his finest – catchy, lo-fi rock with great melodies, clever lyrics, and nothing else that isn’t needed.
Tracks I Liked: Brand New Glasses!, Madison Girls!, The Dead Don’t Need Us!!, Humble-Brag Man!!!, Cocaine Activist!!, The Evil of Two Lessers!, Creak and Sway!
Ben Southworth – May 15, 2017 – Kenwick Place
October 17th, 2015 – Gubbey Records
The Mechanical Hearts EP is the product of Louisville’s hard driving trio, Satellite Twin – the EP is a collection of five spacey, angular songs that tie together sounds from both prog, post, and punk rock. Most of the songs start with extended instrumental sections that shuffle back and forth between off-kilter phrases, and even when they get to the lyrics, they’re usually not around for too long. The instrumental ability of the band is the most important part of the album – two of the three musicians can be doing something fairly repetitive, keeping perfect time while the third goes off on some sort of totally outrageous pattern. Satellite Twin would play well in a live setting – I imagine that the show would only amplify the intensity and excitement that the band is able to capture on the tape. The final track of the album, “cracks and stains (on the marquee slogan)” is the obvious stand out here – you can feel the song getting more and more anxious as it heads towards the chorus, bursts forth into an incredibly catchy recitation of the song’s title, does a quick coordinated turnaround, and heads back into the song’s main groove. Other tracks are good too – the breakdown that happens towards three minute mark of “raise the sign” feels like it comes out of nowhere, and it’s an incredibly satisfying way to end the song. The Mechanical Hearts EP is has a way of being simultaneously atmospheric and hazy while feeling intense and relentless. Another strong release from an inventive Louisville band, this is worth checking out.
Tracks I Liked: raise the sign!!, mechanical hearts!, cracks and stains (on the marquee slogan)!!!
Ben Southworth – November 15th, 2015 – William T. Young Library
Twin Cousins Records – May 15th, 2015
Stop Paying Attention goes as quickly as it comes – eleven ‘get-to-the-point’ songs that take up just seventeen minutes. Everything you hear over the course of the album is sung or played by Marinelli – he overdrives and distorts his guitars and vocals up to the point of near-obfuscation, but his messages are still pronounced loud and clear. “Acceptable Faces” reads as a burning criticism of establishment and privilege as he sings “no matter who your father knows, bother what your mother owns, you better pay up for a job well-done.” The title track is saved for last, and launches directly into a denunciation of the toxicity of tabloids and media – it serves well as a summation of the album, calling listeners to be honest with themselves and to be better than the nonsense that surrounds them. Stop Paying Attention is an album trimmed of every ounce of fat, frills, or extra weight that charges straight through with clear, honest intention.
Tracks I Liked: Saturn of Clarksburg, Human Landmine, Acceptable Faces, Stop Paying Attention
Ben Southworth – September 21st, 2015 – Kenwick Place
Gubbey Records – Released April 11th, 2015
Mosquito is the soon-to-come release from Louisville’s Blind Tigers, and its a very strong one at that. The six songs that make up the EP are quick and to the point – putting this out as a cassette only adds to the general punk aesthetic they’ve got going on (I love the art work, by the way).
“Do or Die” starts with a sustained strum on an overdriven electric guitar before picking up with the constantly descending progression – the chorus has a nice, dissonant crunch to it, and pairs well with the vocal harmonies that were added. “Night of 1000 Eyes” is even sludgier than the first track, and is my favorite track of the EP. Everything except the drums has a bit of distortion on it, and the guitar solo at the end is pretty great, too. As the EP progresses, it introduces more instruments, straying away from just guitar, bass, and drums. “Smooth Talker” layers in some handclaps, “Talk Demon to Me” adds some synth (or maybe theremin?), and “Turn Up My Radio” even imitates the sound of radio dials being tuned in. “Violent Pop” was the track that caught my ear on the first listen – the background vocals, super-catchy chorus, and guitar solo are all really great.
Blind Tigers releases the cassette with a show on April 11th at Modern Cult Records with Opposable Thumbs and Satellite Twin. If you like rock and roll, this is a good one to check out – it sounds great on cassette and headphones, alike.
Tracks I Liked: Do or Die, Night of 1000 Eyes, Violent Pop
Ben Southworth – March 29th, 2015 – Park Avenue
Genre: … .. … Gypsy-Polka Punkish Folk Rock
I was given the immense pleasure of spending some time with Ford Theatre Reunion this morning as they performed in-studio on Trivial Thursdays, in promotion of Famous Monsters. They brought along with them a snare drum, a banjo, an accordion, and an electric bass – the two songs they performed (both from this record) translated well to the abridged setup they came with. That said, the record sounds incredible – it’s well produced and clear – and the music it contains is creative and fresh as can be found. The five of them put together sounds that you might imagine from a circus burning to the ground – it lays polka beats beneath strongly distorted guitars, accordions play in coordination with rasping vocals. And as always, Ford Theatre Reunion seeks to tell a story with the record, though it might be less overtly obvious as some of their previous releases. Common throughout is the theme of “monsters,” each song being about a monster in some way or another. Possibly more interesting still is the album art they’ve come up with; it features drawing of eighty-five monsters from about eighty sources. I’m told that the band set up a “take a monster, leave a monster” box at their merch table as they toured, collecting other people’s drawing of monsters for inclusion in the art. Pretty cool, and so is this entire record – if you’re looking for a great album from an endlessly imaginative band, this is one that will stand out and impress.
Tracks I Liked? It’s worth listening through the album as a whole, but… Panzer Klaus!!!, The Ballad of Buffalo Jones!!!, Casting Jacks!, Crooks and Cracks!, Tea + Cakes!!, The Connoisseur!!, The Final Sermon of Pelias Peachpale!, Famous Monsters!!!
– Ben Southworth – July 4th, 2013 – Coyote Creek –