A Brief but Open Letter to the Bands

First of all, I want to say thank you. Thank you for putting yourselves out there and expressing yourselves through music. It’s far more brave and personal than sitting behind a computer and judging someone else’s vision. 

Music is personal. I’m just one guy with thumbs and a limited music vocabulary. I’m sure it doesn’t need saying, but take my words with a grain of salt. As impartial as I try to be, I of course have my own preferences and musical leanings that will in some way inevitably influence my final review. 

But also know that although I’ve spent a week with your album, that’s the extent of my familiarity with your brand. These are gut reactions that will only semi-morph in the course of a week. There’s no right or wrong. Taste is subjective. Some people like Nickleback. Some people hate the Beatles. We’re all different. But, while they’re not meant to be a guidebook, I do think gut reactions can be useful. Read the breakdown if you want or ignore it and move on. I’m not Pitchfork. I’m a nobody with a DIY free blog.

Thanks for putting your music online and I wish you all the best. 

-BDME

DATE BREAKDOWN: Sadistic Hands – “Sadistic Hands”

File under: #Grunge? 

While waiting outside of my local record store during the craziness of Record Store Day, the Sadistic Hands singer walked the line handing out free copies of her band’s CD. The question was, “Do you like rock music?” to which I responded, “Yes.” She moved onto the next person with the same exchange, so on and so forth. So when I got home and popped the compact disc into my stereo, I kind of expected things to get rockin’.

While what entered my ears would easily fall into the vast, unorganized expanse of Pop/Rock on the shelves of a big box entertainment store like Best Buy, it really lacked the urgency of rock-n-roll. The band’s SoundCloud page classifies them as #grunge, and while not exact, I find the term to be much more fitting than rock. Personally, I’d call Sadistic Hands bubblegum grunge, and yes, I realize that’s a weird ass classification. But, bear with me, it’s not bad.

The ‘Hands clearly want to be viewed as dark, mysterious, sadistic musicians. It’s all over the forcibly sallow tone in Sara’s voice, the desperately emo lyrics, and the cinematography of the music videos. They want so badly to be seen as gothic (but not goth), that the aesthetic becomes a distraction. They’re not sinister, they’re happy.  Listen to “Bruiser” and tell me you don’t hear the misplaced joy, the bubblegum pop that juxtaposes the emo lyrics and the #grunge. It’s weird, but I can’t say I hate it by any means.

I honestly can’t say there’s a bad song on the entirety of Sadistic Hands, but the disconnect from their aesthetic, to their [newly deleted] self-review marketing, to their confusing sound, still leaves a bit of a rough impression. The whole thing just feels tame and a bit unsure. It’s a cross between wanting radio acceptance and trying to be underground goth grunge. If they would just choose one I think they’d be a lot better off.

Highlights include “So Low,” Hard Candy,” and “Bruiser.”

Going on a blind date with Sadistic Hands:

3/5 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week #7: Sadistic Hands – “Sadistic Hands”

I’m changing things up this week. Instead of going with a Bandcamp download, this week’s album was handed to me on the street while I waited for my local record shop to open for Record Store Day. The album is Sadistic Hands by Sadistic Hands.

So, hi there, Sadistic Hands! You gave me a free CD! I’m about to give you my opinion! [In like a week. Please be patient.]

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As I’m working off of a CD this week, I unfortunately can’t share the full album with you. However, they do have some songs [heads up: some of the art included may be deemed NSFW] on Bandcamp and Sound Cloud.

Date Breakdown on Monday.

DATE BREAKDOWN: Gleeson – “Curse My Lucky Stars”

File Under: Alt/Indie, Pop/Rock

I was driving up the California coast early on Tuesday morning to see some elephant seals on the beach when Gleeson walked into my ears with Curse My Lucky Stars. And much like those beached seals, I found the date to be beautiful and repulsive all at once.

“Lazy Bones,” the opening song, lured me into a melancholy stupor, a dark indie zone I instantly assumed I’d find myself in for the album’s remainder. It’s a lengthy, drawn out ode to lethargy and the hope of breaking free from its grasp. 

“What’s Going On,” immediately breaks free of the drama for a quick, up-beat number with a grandiose chorus. Lyrically it’s quite forgettable and my take on the title is, “What’s going on with that affect you’re putting on your voice? It’s annoying, please stop, you’re ruining a fun song.” It’s a bit cheesy and the first (but not last) song to resemble bad musical theatre.

“Troll Day,” was a breath of fresh air. As far as I can tell, the subject is Internet Trolls, something most of us have dealt with in one way or another. A fun song with a catchy chorus that almost makes me forgive the band’s previous misstep.

 “Lollygagged,” however, might just work even better. Slower and without the bounce, but there’s something beautifully simplistic at work. It’s a song for the losers, and without the bullshit optimism those songs tend to be plagued with. 

“With My Motive Gone” feels like it should be a Muffs song half of the time. There’s just such a Kim Shattuck delivery in the verses that I wished I was listening to her instead. The chorus breaks into something entirely different and shattered the Muffs nostalgia at once. It’s a lot more loud and rocking than its predecessors, and may have taken a few listens to win me over, but “Motive” is nowhere near as out of character as what comes next.

“Something New” is just that, something new. And something bad. And cheesy. Remember when I said there was more bad musical theatre to come? Well, here you go. Objectively speaking, it’s not horribly done, but this is about my ears and my ears hate this. I was having a lovely blind date and cartoon birds and a singing princess had to  show up and ruin everything. It’s dull, it’s cliché, and it’s not for me.

And then we go straight into “Gleeson Victory March,” one of the most appallingly offensive things my ears have heard in a long time. For years I’ve maintained that Hoobastank’s “The Reason” is the worst song ever, but I’m seriously reconsidering that after hearing this. I’ve endured it all week long and now it can march it’s way into my computer’s recycling bin. 

“Goodbye Charles Street,” is infinity times better, but the bad taste left from “Victory March” lingers too strong for me to care. It’s a generically upbeat, generically enjoyable song. It’s short, it’s filler, and leads straight into “Monte Siesta,” its slower indie counterpart. At just over five minutes, the shitstorm of two songs ago has finally left my mind. It’s more filler, but it’s an amazing palate cleanser and I can’t thank Gleeson enough for that.

“The Size of Empty” goes from underwhelming to the best song on the album by the time the chorus kicks in. It’s shocking that this is the same band that wrote one of the worst abominations in music history. This is about the time I realized that Gleeson lacks identity. These songs are all over the place, and while that can be good, I can’t say it works for them. 

“Seasons” is the last of the cheesy musical theatre / Disney sounding songs. It’s not bad, but I don’t want to listen to it again regardless. Wrapping things up, “Milton Bradley’s Bible” is another generic upbeat track, but a bit more anthemic than the others. While none of the lyrics really stand out other than “truckstop lepers,” it has a good beat and overall makes for a fitting close to the album. Clocking in at five minutes and fifty seconds, “Bible” feels surprisingly short and by no means overextends it’s welcome. 

If I had to sum up Gleeson’s sound to someone unfamiliar with them in one word I’d go with clusterfuck. They’re a group of elephant seals molting on the beach, tiring themselves out on their way back in the water. Some of them are resting peacefully, some of them are fighting, a couple of them are flinging sand on their back. It’s a mess. Sometimes it’s a beautiful mess, but it’s still a mess.

Highlights include “Lollygagged,” “Troll Day,” and “The Size of Empty”

Going on a blind date with Curse My Lucky Stars:

3.25/5 stars