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 loose 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

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Twink: Sugar Trip


Twink: Sugar Trip
            So what you’ve got here is a write up of a mini vinyl album. Sugar Trip is a beautifully colored 33 mini LP with two songs on each side.
            The title track starts us with a bouncy toy piano intro that takes us on a wonderfully bizarre trip of sounds from a dimension of psychedelic splashed bunnies. There is a sly undercurrent here that reminds me of the tinkle of old school amusement parks as filtered through a grand wizard of a 90’s DJ.
            Mike Langlie is the amazing dude behind Twink. He performs his crafty music on toys and electronics. With that simple credit, Twink creates a wall of inner child fun music.
            The whimsy on display here is so kooky it’s impossible not to dig it. The second track on side A, “Uh Uh Oh” goes in as many directions as a day glow bouncy ball. Just when you think you have that song nailed down, it jumps off in some other charming direction.
            Side B takes off with Fruitbat. A fun flight of fancy. Very beat driven and brief as a hopping bunny playing synths.
            Finally we have The Return of Doctor Eelsleeves. The title of this song alone is awesome. It could have easily been the title to a track on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. This one is a wobbly cacophonic spritely mish mash of a tune that re-invents itself in seconds. At a little over four minitues this is the longest track. Twink Prog?
            This download/vinyl album is another grand addition to the amazing collection of Twink recordings.
            You can take the Sugar Trip here:


Yours in super cool tunes,
Count Robot


Friday, May 25, 2018

Top Ten FB Album Challenge Part 10


Day 10.
            Rush: Test for Echo
            There’s so much to say about this album. Perhaps I should chart it out, or I could just write endlessly that Driven is one of my all time favorite Rush songs. From the stunning lyrics to the killer molten jams, to Geddy’s dead on perfect vocal delivery. This tune is pure Rush.
            It’s my turn to drive.
            Neil’s lyrics on this album take on urban violence, the Internet in its pre-antisocial media haze, and time.
            Some of the most playful set of lyrics Neil has ever delivered are sung on this collection of tunes.
            This album is the most recent in the list. I took this whole FB challenge thing to mean albums that had an impact or influence at a young age. When this album came out, I felt as young as I do most of the time when I want to do so.
            I could write a much longer piece than this, but I don’t want to make an overlong blog.
            On the Test for Echo tour I managed to see Rush four times. They were incredible on that tour, playing better than I had ever seen them before. One of the shows I went to was in Montreal. The only time I saw them on their Canadian turf. Part of the official live album from the tour, Different Stages was recorded at the Not So Great Woods show which some friends and I attended. So yes, I recorded with Rush. If you call screaming like an idiot recording with, then yes, Rush and I jammed along with a huge crowd.
            The best thing about all these stories, is that it ties in with a story about the love of my life. DNA Girl and I attended a cast BBQ, we used to kill people on stage for money, and stories about our murderous past will be saved for another time. We talked about how I ran to Montreal to see Rush. She was impressed with my concert cult level devotion. Trading concert stories brought us closer as friends.
            I’ve got a pantheon of animals in a pagan soul.
            Nail biting hood boys in borrowed ties and jackets.
            Vertigo.
            Video Vertigo.
            Here’s a taste of this fine album.


Yours in dog years,
Count Robot

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Top Ten FB Album Challenge Part 9


Day 9.
            Emerson, Lake, & Powell
            Do you know the score?
            I do.
            Welcome back to the show that never ends.
            Emerson, Lake, and Powell was what I first thought I knew about Keith Emerson and Greg Lake. Years later I would learn that I had been hearing those two many years earlier, but… that’s a story for another time.
            My discovery for this incarnation of ELP was via MTV back in their music video playing phase. The wall of synths that Keith played mesmerized me. Before then I never saw such a massive wall of synths. How does he play them all? Does he play them all? Is he an octopus? I didn’t know. Cozy Powell’s heavy attack on the drums really got me. The catchy lyrics worked their hook as well.
            It wasn’t long before I bought this cassette.
            Later the CD which I still listen to quite often.
            This album has stuck with me because it was unashamedly prog in the mid 80s. The first song, the Score goes on for over two minutes before the vocals begin. Who did that in the 80s? No one I knew of at that point in time.
            Yes, it’s sad to think that all three of these musicians are gone, but like Freddie Mercury they live on through their fantastic music.
            Here’s Touch and Go.


Yours in learning to fly,
Count Robot

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Top Ten FB Album Challenge Part 8


Top Ten FB Album Challenge Part 8
            Day 8.
            Queen: A Kind of Magic
            “Hey! Have you seen the preview for that new movie Highlander? Queen does the soundtrack!” That might have been how it started. Or maybe it was with Entertainment tonight discussing Highlander and showing a clip from a video with Freddie Mercury and  Christopher Lambert.
            I was already a bit of a Queen fan, but this album is the first one I bought. I had it on cassette first then CD. That’s a big part of the reason it makes the list.
            The album rips and roars. Brian May builds, builds, and builds his guitar sound until it explodes all over the songs.
            One night my friends and I were driving around aimlessly listening to a tape of the audio of the Highlander movie that George Barnes had recorded. Not only was the highlight yelling along with the quotes, but also hearing that music. That amazing music.
            The night I got a phone call telling me that Freddie Mercury was dead the first thing I thought of was this album. He was gone. Freddie wasn’t immortal in flesh, but he is in music.
             Long live the princes of the universe.
            Speaking of the princes of the universe, here they are:

Yours in one vision,
Count Robot
           

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Top Ten FB Album Challenge Part 7


Day 7.
            Hawkwind: The Chronicle of the Black Sword
            Those who live in Mass might remember a record store in Cambridge called, Second Coming (insert your own teenaged depraved variant of the name here, I sure did back then as I was the right age). Most Saturdays some friends and I would hop the train to Cambridge so we could record shop. Why did we go there so much when so many other closer stores were around back in those daze? Two words: concert bootlegs. Second Coming was a temple for bootlegs both on vinyl and cassette. They had so many boots that when word would somehow come to the store that they were due to be raided, the store would have almost nothing left in it. More than once we were in there to find only maybe a fistful of albums and tapes were on the shelves. Normally there would be thousands. How did they know in advance the cops were going to come? Who knows?
            So into this store I walked one Saturday. Flipping through the bins I stumbled across Hawkwind (they had their own small section). I knew the name of the band so it wasn’t a stunner. Music writer/critic Jim Sullivan had name-dropped them in a write up about Motorhead in one of his articles in the Boston Globe. I knew who Motorhead was and who Lemmy was and that he had once been in Hawkwind.
Hawkwind were also mentioned in a few episodes of the English comedy show, the Young Ones, which once also featured Motorhead. What fan of the Young One’s can forget Neal whining, “Play some Hawkwind or Marillion!” and in the credit sequence Hawkwind was written on a chalkboard. So yes, I knew the name.
            Still that day, I think my jaw might have dropped. Not because I found a section of their albums, but because I was staring at an album called The Chronicle of the Black Sword.
            Why was that a big deal? Well, because I had read the Elric books by Micheal Moorcock. A wild trippy fantasy series about the weakling, non-human, sorcerer, Elric and his living, soul eating, black sword, called Stormbringer and here I was, staring at an album that was devoted to that series.
            The cover was a beautiful macabre painting that outdid all of the Elric book covers.
            So yes, I bought it without listening to it, or any hesitation at all. As I told my friends, “I don’t care if the music stinks, at least the cover is great.”
            Later that day when I got home that album was what I put on the turntable. When the pulsing opening synth barrage hit me in the face I was floored. This album is a fantasy metal psych attack. My brain wasn’t ready, but it rolled along. After listening to it once through, I called my friend Paul Armstrong and told him he had to hear it. I put the album on and held the phone towards it.
            Yes my mind was blown. I will always treasure this album. The Chronicle of the Black Sword was my stepping-stone into a different world.
            If I hadn’t bought this album, I may never have discovered Aural Innovations the space rock internet radio show, which led to me writing words for the great Atlanta band Spaceseed, some of which were performed by Harvey Bainbridge who played keyboards on The Chronicle of the Black Sword album. Most likely I never would have wound up recording with the amazing Harts Horn, or recording with the mighty Tim Mungenast, and even contributing to a birthday song for Michael Moorcock himself. I certainly never would have gone to Alabama to perform at Carlo Robet Deshouten’s SpaceRock Con if the Black Sword hadn’t been added to my collection.
            Yeah, this album changed my life in a profound way.
            And just for the record, the music is still amazing. I could write a lot more about this album and one day I just might.
            Here’s a taste of the psych fantasy metal tunes.
           

Yours in the song of the swords,
Count Robot
           

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Top Ten FB Album Challenge Part 6


Day 6.
            Blue Oyster Cult: Fire of Unknown Origin
            A fire of unknown origin took me away. An album full of science fiction apocalyptic sword fights was the perfect thing to find its way into my teenage conciousness. Thank you Blue Oyster Cult, the one true cult that I would gladly embrace.
            My friend Paul Armstrong had this cassette tape which we blasted often on his boom box in those lost daze.
            Not a bad tune to be found on this collection. Production by Martin Birch, straight up, top notch.
            Burnin For You is a nice rocking follow up song to the title track.
            The feedback driven guitars in Heavy Metal: The Black and Silver are so wonderfully twisted along with the demented lyrics.
            Joan Crawford features a hysterically odd tape/sample/collage subbing for a solo. What gruesome humor.
            Vengeance (The Pact) is a tight story driven song, of swords, and bird beasts. The time change is deftly executed.
            It would be really cool if BOC performed this entire album live. I know they played the complete first album live a few times a year or two ago so why not this one?
            It also has an intricately tripped out symbol crawling cover that would entertain a conspiracy theorist for hours.
            This album is just part of my feeble mind. It’s impossible for me to imagine it not being in my collection.
            Here’s the punky vampire song, After Dark. Terror took control and told me what to say…
           

Your faithful veteran of the psychic wars,
Count Robot
           

Friday, May 18, 2018

Top Ten FB Album Challenge Part 5


Day 5.
            Tangerine Dream: Green Desert
            Someone I knew let me listen to a cassette they recorded of this album. It was the first proper Tangerine Dream album I had ever heard. Of course I had heard their soundtracks to many different movies but none of that stuck to me so much.
            This album has stuck with me.
            I was told that the title track was a monster drum fest and I was informed correctly.
            Green Desert blew strange ethereal sounds backed by pounding mad drums and psych rock guitars that torched through my cheap stereo.
            This album only has four songs on it. The epic title track chews up side one. The next track White Clouds is like a mini-redux of the title track. Astral Voyager and Indian Summer are up next. These two tracks are ambient spacey trips to the inner grid.
            Many ages ago I remember walking into a chain movie theater in Somerville sitting down to wait for the movie to start and Astral Voyager was playing on the speakers! It then went right into Indian Summer then the trailers started. Who ever decided to play those before the movie, thank you! That movie theater no longer exists.
            Flash forward to a few years ago, my musical partner in crime, DNA girl, and I are discussing what our next album should be and it hits me to do our own bizarre tribute to this album, thus we created the Astro Al Purple Mushroom cd which is 4 tracks of spaced out madness tipping our hat to Green Desert with our of kilter science fiction trip out album.
            All TD fans have their go to album for the band, this one is mine even more so than Zeit which I discussed in a prior blog.
            Here is Indian Summer. The beautiful closing track.



Yours in astral voyages,
Count Robot
           

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Top Ten FB Album Challenge Part 4


            Day 4.
            Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians: Globe of Frogs
            A time cube of psychedelic thoughts sprawling into songs. Songs that could have been written in 1960-1970-1980-1992 but recorded in the 80-90-00 time frame. That’s what this record is to me.
            This was the album that was predicted by many to help make Robyn huge, but much to the detriment of the music world it didn’t. An opening to a musical world that should be so much better than it’s present status. If he had been taken closer to mainstream it would open up more and more, but alas…
            “It rained, like a slow divorce and I wish I could ride a horse.” –Balloon Man. What a childish genius lyrical line! Robyn did some fantastic writing on this album.
            Robyn paints the world in words as strange as our reality.
            This album always makes me smile inside. This was the first Robyn Hitchcock album I heard. That is one reason why it sticks to me so strongly.

            Here’s Beatle Dennis
                         
           
Yours in Beatle Dennis,
Count Robot

Monday, May 14, 2018

Top Ten FB Album Challenge Part 3


Day 3.
            Rush: Power Windows.
            This was the first album of theirs to come out while I was actively in their thrall. Some people hated this record, that is their loss.
            To me it was an instant classic.
            “Better the pride that resides in a citizen of the world, than the pride that divides when a colorful rag is unfurled.” –That is one of my favorite bits of Rush lyrics right there. It comes from Territories. I deeply agree with that sentiment.
            Mystic Rhythms is a psychedelic classic with expansive lyrics. The thudding drum intro is entrancing. MTV used to play a video of Mystic Rythms which was directed by one of the Devo dudes.
            Here’s the video

            All the jams in Marathon make the song like a fine wine for the ears.
            Production wise this is a wonderfully crisply brightly sounding affair which matches the material perfectly.
            Lyrically Neal did some sharp, deft, writing. Consider this rail against conformity in Grand Designs, “Swimming against the stream, life in two dimensions is a mass production scheme.” Brilliant.
            The Power Windows tour was the first time I ever saw them thanks to my good friend Paul Armstrong. We went to the show on the old party bus from the store Stairway to Heaven in Boston, it was crazy.
            The Clockwork Angels tour was fantastic because they played a good chunk of Power Windows on that tour. Grand Designs even got a spin.
            I’ve heard all these songs live except for Emotion Detector, which I believe was never performed in concert.
            My personal connection to this album is that I never, ever get bored or tired of hearing it. If anything as time goes along, I like it even more.

Your Rush fan,
Count Robot

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Top Ten FB Album Challenge Part 2


            Day 2.
            Rush: Moving Pictures
            What can I say about this album from my favorite band?
            The production is densely layered. Rush’s playing is just at an amazing level. Using Permanent Waves as a springboard from this record their writing is sharply crystallized packing a visceral punch.
            When I first heard this album it was already a few years in the rearview mirror, but that didn’t matter. The freshness of the album still resonated to me and in many ways whenever I listen to it there is a feeling of joy as if it’s a welcome familiar friend.
            How well do I know this album? Whenever I get any piece of new stereo equipment this is my go to album for testing it out. I know how this album should sound no matter what type of speaker/headphone it’s blasting through.
            In a snide review of Moving Pictures someone once suggested no one ever listens to side 2.
            Wrong!
            When I had the cassette of this stellar album I always listened to both sides back to back in order. Once the CD came out, if anything the track that would be skipped was often Limelight but now I appreciate it as a great lead into the astonishing rise fall epic the Camera Eye. What a beautiful song contrasting two cities. Witch Hunt is a howl of horror. True horror. First its witches, communists, terrorists… “Quick to anger, slow to understand.”
            Another thing going for Moving Pictures is that it is a well-sequenced album. Just a spot on classic. Never have I tired of listening to this record.
            On the Time Machine tour, Rush played this entire album in order. That was worth the ticket price alone.
            My personal connection to this album is that it is insanely amazing.
Here is the legend:



Yours in fantastic albums from Canada,
Count Robot

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Top Ten FB Album Challenge Part 1



            Most of you have probably heard of the top 10-album challenge thing on the social media spheres, it’s primarily on Fakebook.
            Yours truly was nominated and did it. A real friend on the site, Laura Clifford of the great cable show, Reeling: The Movie Review Show, nominated me. Another real life friend Mike Langlie of the incredible toy piano band, Twink suggested that I do an essay on each of my choices; so here it is on this here blog.
            The way I viewed this challenge is believe it or not they aren’t necessarily my favorite albums of all time, but rather they are records that came at a formative time of my musical experiencing life and have stood the test of time, consistently staying in orbit of my tune conciousness as well as being in the stereo often enough to be on this list. The albums are listed in the order that they were placed in on FB, which is to say merely in the order that they occurred to me; not at all in order of how much I dig them.
            So having given you that entire foreground, let’s proceed.
            Day 1.
            Tangerine Dream: Zeit.
            This isn’t a standard musical album; it’s a pure experience. At time’s in the double album’s worth of tracks, it’s not even music, it’s pure sounds. Unearthly, unhumanistic, strange, creepy, shape shifting sounds, this thing is all that and more.
            It has only four tracks. Each of which consumed an album side back in the day. There are distorted cellos, an early Moog synth, distorted organs, and sounds no other human probably ever made. All of this blends through an amorphous filter of gurgling soundscapes that wash through the conciousness.
            This is the soundtrack to a dream.
            Upon my first listening to this record I knew that there was something that beautifully defied reason bursting into my ears.
            This album has been well traveled throughout my life. It was the soundtrack to many Halloweens worth of handing candy out to the kids with it blaring through open windows giving them a freak out as they received treats. The album is still played regularly during late night writing sessions. The atmospheres greatly helped to shape the Dracula novel I’ve been constructing. One Halloween at the long gone amazing Middle Eastern bakery/coffee shop/restaurant the Crescent Dragon we used this album as the soundtrack to the silent movie Nosferatu as we heckled the film. A friend told me about listening to this album in black room with a head full of LSD; it’s hard to imagine that not being a life changing experience.
            Here is a link to the album. Listen to it and allow it to change your perceptions of what music can be.


Yours in sounds beyond the human race,
Count Robot

Friday, March 30, 2018

Count Robot’s 3 favorite albums of 2017



OK so we’re well into 2018 and I have finally have this list up. As Ministry and Ed Wood would say, “So what?” Would it help if I told you that I probably already have one favorite for the 2018 list? No? Well then read this list or don’t.
3. Analog Missionary: Arc
Really great to see the long silent Analog Missionary become active again. I’ve really enjoyed this bands wonderful music. Welcome back!
Peace is one of the most creative songs crafted in 2017. For that song alone the album hit number three. This song blends so many insane elements together it transcends the genres of Bollywood, early 80’s prog rock, 90’s prog rock, New Wave, Psychedelia, and a twinge of Goth.
The classic sounds of Analog Missionary are still there but are given a newfound fire. I have the feeling if they put out another album soon it’ll be the best they’ve ever done.

2. Twink: Wide Eyed Wild Ride
Joy! Joyful dancing stuffed animals in a magic forest toy piano jam. Yeah, that’s what I hear in this record. It’s a party of fluffy awesome. Tunes that just bop out of the electronic corners and crash into your soul.
Another year, another amazing Twink album. So many great releases come out of this project that it’s mind blowing. Wild Eyed Wild Ride races to the top as one of the best Twink albums ever which is why it’s so easy for it to make the top 3 this year.
Another fantastic album cover and a beautiful vinyl release as well. Twink forever!

1.    Blackfield: V
This is their second best album. Their best being the first Blackfield album. Wonderfully orchestrated strings sweep across this record. From the opening score to the crashing end with the ocean sweeping throughout the album. Amazing songs that feel nostalgic yet fully planted in the present.
“I’m a Lonely Soul” is a trance inducing loop of a song that is smart enough not to overstay its welcome. One thing I adore about this album is that it’s 40ish minutes. It lasts just long enough for you to think, wow that was brilliant then its gone in the ocean.
Family Man has a rocking biting guitar kick. A dig at the straight life but yet a love for it at the same time with fantastic hooks. A perfect example of a pure wonderful pop rock song.

Avi and Steve have done it again.

Musically yours,
Count Robot
3/31/18