Tuesday, February 25, 2020

My top 3 albums from 2019

The List No One Other Than Me Wanted!
My top 3 albums from 2019
The number one slot was so easy to pick. The number two and third picks were hard to select because, damn 2019 gave a lot of excellent music offerings!
Honorable Mention: Hawkestrel: The Future is Us.  How could I not include an album that has William Shatner performing Sonic Attack?! Shat goes full Shatner on Sonic Attack. It is incredible. Alan Davey really laid out a great slab of music. More honorable mentions go to Nik Turner, and Tim Mungenast & Eric Dahlman (I can’t really review their album as I’m biased since I was in the audience while it was created). I’m going to stop with the “honors” because there were so many other great albums out in 2019 that I could drone on and on about.
Now to the top 3.
3. Third Ear Experience with Dr. Space: Ear to Space
 This album rips space rock up, down, both sides, and to beyond infinity. My discovery of the band Third Ear Experience came at the 2019 NASR show in Austin Texas. NASR (North American Space Ritual) wasn’t just a show, it was a wild musical ride that deserves it’s own chronicle.
Screams of Eagle Bone is the opening track, which clocks in at 14 engine churning minutes of space ship rock. If you want to blast off, this is your song. If you don’t like this song, then don’t bother to listen to the rest of the record because this is your launch sequence. The album is full of slamming space rock synths, sax, sounds and sun scorching guitars. I can’t wait to hear more by this band. I feel really lucky to have seen them in concert. Hope to catch them again and again and again. Dr. Space is a guest on this album.
Another stand out cut is Dreams of a Caterpillar, which is a little over 20 minutes long. It starts off as piece of synth bubbling ambience before becoming a delightful trancey-dancey-spacey-jam then mellowing out again only to rise up on last time.

2. Opeth: In Cauda Venenum
Freaking wow. Music that goes in so many directions it almost gives me whiplash in the best possible way. German 80s synths, prog metal, “bowed instruments” and more collide all over the place. This is what music should be, exploration! Amazing that so few of the songs even have a chorus (do any of them? I should check). Opeth is not afraid to defy song structure and make things new. This is a late arrival to my collection, which is part of the reason it took me so long to compile this list.
The opening track would fit more in an early Tangerine Dream album rather than an album I bought in the Heavy Metal section of a record store. I am so often struck by how to me, Opeth (in their post death metal phase which they currently occupy) could be the modern version of Queen. Great songs, amazing vocals, and heavy guitar attack. Another thing that blows my mind about this release is that it’s recorded in English, which is the second language for their incredible singer Mikael Akerfeldt. How does someone sing so beautifully in their second language?! The second disc on this set contains a Swedish language version of the album, which I am looking forward to diving into.

1.    Cat Temper: Henry
This isn’t just an album; this is a landscape of sound. Henry is Cat Temper’s alternate soundtrack to the David Lynch movie Eraser Head. Where as the movie has a more noise-based layer of sound behind it, Cat Temper gives it a quirky diseased keyboard vibe that is vaguely funny, but thoroughly strange.
Drums? Ah yes, the pounding pop synth drums ringing with the right layering of dirge over them are fantastic.
You can watch the movie with this amazing soundtrack and feel the vibe of the movie change, or you can listen to the album by itself. I’ve listened to it on it’s own many times, so I honestly feel it stands apart as its own piece of sonic art. It’s great to drive around to, or to listen at home.
There are so many stand out tracks on an album filled with thirty (yes thirty) great audio sculptures.
Opening track, Man in the Planet sets the tone wonderfully with quirky 80s synths with an undercurrent of chaotic menace. Darkly cute music? Maybe.
Those drum sounds I mentioned earlier? They sound incredible on a good stereo with the volume up. Crank it for maximum power!
The fifth track Mary has a haunting piano-esque sound that sticks in my soul. Chilling yet compelling. A very short song but so meaningful!
Track six, Meeting Mother is a hysterical sounding grotesque of a song sounded like a psychotic kids ride at a futuristic abandoned carnival.
Henry, like the movie Earserhead, is a surrealist phantasm of synth tones, ambience, sequencers, and pure fun. Moments of pop bliss, dance in the darkness.
When this album first lit up the stereo there was no doubt that, Henry, by Cat Temper would be this person’s favorite album of 2019. 
Go forth and freak out

Yours in Music,
Count Robot

Saturday, March 2, 2019

North American Space Ritual

This month I will be living in a musical dream world for two nights.
            March 29th & 30th I will be in Austin, Texas for the first time in my life.
            This is where the North American Space Ritual will take place.
            What is this show all about? It’s two nights of musical madness. Jazz, rockabilly, heavy metal, and space rock will be performed live. Performers from distant parts of the globe, England, California, Russia, and more will come together to make a maelstrom of musical madness.
            Michael Moorcock, author of the amazing Elric series, lyricist for Blue Oyster Cult and Hawkwind will perform with the band Moon Hawks which also features former Hawkwind alumni Alan Davey and Nik Turner.
            My friend, John Pack from the Georgia based space rock ensemble Spaceseed has kindly invited me to perform with them.
            This is a… I don’t know what to type about this all. My head is swimming. I hope we all put on an amazing show for everyone. I hope that it will be as transcendent for you all as I know it will be for me.
            Come and voyage with us.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Weird Sound Generations

             A recent acquisition for the Astro Al audio armada was the Weird Sound Generator.
            This is a wild synth built by hand by Spektrum Electronics.
              Spektrum Electronics
            One of the wonderful endearing things about this unit is the sense of humor. All the knobs go to 11!
            Check out the sounds it makes.

            This is a wonderful vintage style modernist instrument. Totally makes me feel like I’m making sounds for a Silver Apples/Hawkwind/Portishead tribute album.
            I am super excited to be using this instrument for the first time “live” with Spaceseed at the North American Space Ritual.

Yours in Weird Sound Generation,
Count Robot

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Count Robot’s 3 favorite albums of 2018

Here it is, the yearly list no one except my sadistic, validation-seeking, subconscious, asks for, my three favorite albums of 2018.
3. Adam Holzman: Truth Decay
This album was a pleasant surprise. I read Holzman’s description of it on his Flakebook page, which interested me enough to buy it after Steve Wilson’s gig at the Berklee Performance Center.
So glad that I made that purchase. What a wonderful diverse collection of music! Jazz, prog, sixties rock, thought provoking lyrics, fusion, and a pleasing plethora of sounds swirl through this music.
Sweeping you right along from the opening jazzy drum smack of Ectoplasm to the smooth-ish jazz cool of Are You High? This album is a delight to my ears from start to finish. Thank you Mr. Holzman.

2. Squirrel Nut Zippers: Beasts of Burgundy
Firstly, let me say, that if you told me last year, before I went to see the Squirrel Nut Zippers for the very first time, that they’re new album would be one of my favorites of 2018, I sure wouldn’t have believed you.
How wrong can I get?
This is a New Orleans bawdyhouse of musical repute that makes you want to drop your pants after you drop the bottle of booze you just emptied in one gulp. Total voodoo fever fun times.
This album also features a song that is now one of my all time favorite torch songs, Fade.
This song, like so many others on the platter, sounds as though I’ve heard it before in the best way, but it’s all original music rooted in a classic vibe. Beautifully familiar, yet an exciting stranger in the musical boudoir of my brain.
Here is that wonderful new torch song that burns in the dark night of the soul.

1. Gypsy Moths: Alright
This album is a party anywhere it is played. A flipping fantastic party with gin, bar fights, dancing, romancing and rock and fricking roll.
           There’s such energy captured in this platter of good times and sad times and drinking up a storm times, that it’s hard to not gush praise out every time the needle or laser drops on the wax or CD.
This is music made to dance with.
This is music made to party with.
This is amazing rock and roll.
The Moths get the party started just right with The Boys Are Back In Town. Yes, all the songs are cover tunes, but the Moths don’t just go through paint by number motions, it’s almost as if all these tunes were written for them to take to the dance floor and rock and roll all night.
            So how are the players? The band’s horn section is always on fire. Guitar playing is gritty and smooth at the same time. Keys are classic sounding. Drums on point. Bass is bouncing and big. Vocals? Hell yeah! Everything lands perfectly.
I seriously totally dig this album so much, that it is mentioned more than once in a trilogy of novels that I’m writing called, Song and Deth.
            Here’s the Moths, live and in flight
Subversively yours,
Count Robot
1/13 /19

Friday, October 26, 2018

Squirrel Nut Zippers: Beasts of Burgundy

            Earlier this year an unexpected pleasure awaited DNA Girl and myself at the Cabot Theater Beverly. We went to see the Squirrel Nut Zippers for the first time. Now of course we were into going and such but never, ever did we expect such a heady night of musical fun.
            The band is incredible live, and because they focused on material for their amazing new album Beasts of Burgundy is partially why they were so solid damn good.
            This album is a voodoo driven New Orleans jazz joint good time. Each song does the amazing feat of sounding just familiar enough to be nostalgic, even though every single tune was written by someone in the band’s lineup.
             Not a single dud or filler tune is present. It makes you feel like it’s late at some hopping beer soaked jazz hall at the edge of a joyously cursed swamp in Louisiana.
Rusty Trombone is a darn funny 20’s roaring ode to oral sex. Use What Mama Gave You is an amusing pro-stripping ditty. The zippers aren’t afraid to unzip such bawdy tunes.
            It would be incredibly negligent if one song in particularly wasn’t singled out for special mention. The final track Fade may be one of the best torch songs ever recorded. The feel, the burn, the incredible haunting vibe, is soul shaking.
             Listen to Fade here.

             This album is a must if you dig the vibe of old world jazzy tunes.
            And we never would have discovered this amazing album if we hadn’t gone to see the Squirrel Nut Zippers live.
            Remember kids, go see live music!

Yours in bawdy vaudeville music,
Count Robot

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Moonscape Hotel review

Devoured By Flowers
Moonscape Hotel

Moonscape Hotel is the first album by Devoured by Flowers.
The 90’s are alive in this album. Perhaps it’s fitting that this band is from Portland Oregon, where it is often said that the lifestyle of the 90s still exists.
There were many ages of music that I enjoy. The 20s, 60s, 70s and 90s are some high periods for me. So the 90s vibe is a great thing.
Swooning speedy, dream pop with a lush undercurrent of goth is a thick part of the tapestry of the tunes on this record.
Dorian Campbell is the lead vocalist along with playing guitar and other cool duties. I don’t know much about Campbell’s background or other projects, but he sounds very polished here. Clearly he has a vision of how he wants to sing, which he pulls off quite well.
Driving the instrumentation along is the ever-astounding tune titan, Ashkelon Sain. Friends of mine have often heard me gush like a river about the incredibly talented Mr. Sain. Ash was the Lovecraftian musical architect behind Trance to the Sun, one of my favorite bands that I love to name-drop whenever possible.
Of all the tunes here in, Faire Creatures and the last track, A Seaside Ballad are the standouts to my ears. The wonder in Dorian’s voice in Faire Creatures is super earworm haunting. A Seaside Ballad gets a grand boost with some wonderful female vocals running along with Dorian’s voice.

The guitar playing throughout the proceedings is beautifully pristine.
DNA Girl digs this CD a lot. Yes, me too!
Check it out!

Gothic romantically yours,
Count Robot

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Gypsy Moths: Alright!

            One of the great joys of music is variety. There are so many wonderful styles of tunes, why not dive into the buffet?
            When you want old school, kick butt, party on down, stomp your stereo good time rock and f’ing roll, Alright by the Gypsy Moths is a classic.
            Putting this album on is putting a sweat soaked, dance filled, juke joint, rock and roll dive bar awesome good time into your stereo.
            I like this record so much I have it as both a CD and vinyl record. Which do I prefer? Well in this instance it’s very much the vinyl album. While the CD is great for the car, the grooves of this collection of songs cry out for the action of a needle driven sound system. Plus there’s a great photo inside the album with fun pictures of the band boozing it up as they rip up the stage of every bar they play at!
            The production on the album is smooth enough to not lose its much need rock grit. All the instruments and vocals are well positioned in the mix with nothing drowning anything else out. This is no small feet given the rich sound that the band has going on.
            What more can I say about this awesome slice of classic rock and roll tunes? Well here’s a personal bit, I have been fortunate enough to follow the musical career of Chris Conway and Steve O’Brien for many years, and this band is the best I have ever seen either of them perform in. Great job guys!
Ok this isn’t a cut from the album, but it will give you a taste of the fabulous tunes waiting for you if you dive in:

Here’s where you can buy the album:

Yours in rock and roll with teeth,
Count Robot