Tuesday, July 20, 2021

An interview with author Sandy Bernstein

Sandy Bernstein is a fellow writer, a member of the Stoneham Writers Group

(of which I am also a member despite not living in Stoneham), and a friend.

Sandy is a writer of diverse styles and genres. Poetry, prose, horror,

science fiction, humor, history, are all the playthings of her imagination.

Sandy has that rare talent to balance her vivid ideas with precise writing.

I decided to interview an author instead of a musician this time out.

So here we are, an interview conducted with author Sandy Bernstein via email.


Who would you say are your biggest literary influences?

Early on I was inspired by Edgar Allen Poe, H.G. Wells, Robert Frost, and J. R. R. Tolkien,

to name a few. Liking the dark side, I've always been a fan of Stephen King. Others, who may

have influenced me are; Anne Rice, Darcy Coates, J. R. Rain, and Deborah LeBlanc.

Recently, I've been reading a variety of historical fiction and mysteries, some by local authors.

They also inspire my writing. As always, anything paranormal gets my creative juices flowing. 

While I like straight up horror, it isn't the nucleus of my work. I like ghost stories, often with 

a deeper meaning. Over the years many authors have inspired me in one way or another.

Perhaps through them I discovered my own voice.


What parts of them do you see in your own work?

Certainly the throat grabbing openings of King and the slow torturous grind of Poe.

I'm capable of that to a degree. But they are masters of the craft. I'm better at slow

tension and building a story. It depends on the genre. In the end,

it's about good storytelling.


What style/genre do you most like writing and why?

Ah, finally an easy question. Anything spooky, dark, fantastical, or edgy.

In a word, paranormal. I like mysteries and crime drama too, but there has to be a dark element.

Anything outside the norm. There are so many things going on around us we don't see,

or we don't want to see. I like to shed a little light on things that go bump in the night.

I would say the same for poetry. Only, it's the inner world we're afraid of, another form of

darkness. Sometimes you don't know how you feel about something until you write it down.

In this case, there is no hiding from yourself. 


How would you describe your writing process?

Basically, I get an idea, sketch it out in my head or start a draft just to get it down.

Most of the time, it's an image, a scene. That scene will play out and turn into a story

or a poem. Other times it's a character. It all comes together with a basic idea and 

works its way into something more tangible. I hope. I like to think of it as a ghost

slowly taking shape into something more solid and real. Everything has a story.

You just need to find it.


You've published two stories on Amazon; Creepies, and the Shuddering.

What would you like people to know about them?

Read them and find out.


If a movie ever gets made of either one, who do envision being cast as the leads?

I've never given it any thought. That said, maybe the girl in Creepies could have been played

by a young Dakota Fanning. But she's older now so I guess she couldn't play a six year old.


You have been published in many different physical publications and websites. Which ones are you the most proud of?

Wow, only recently I looked at some of my past accomplishments when I redid my website. I had links to older works in magazines and webzines. I'd forgotten about most of them. A couple stand out: An article on poetry was published in the Writer Magazine 2003. Another article on NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) appeared in the Jan 2010 issue of the Writer's Journal. Also my poem, Temperate Moon was published in a magazine called Flashquake in 2005. It was the editor's pick of the month.

And, Sour Grapes, the newsletter for rejected writers and other tormented souls. We had articles on writing and rejection, a column for editors, and poetry. SG was written up in the Boston Globe in 1997. It was a fun project with artist/writer Sheila Foley. SG ran for nine years, both in print form and as a webzine. It was a great experience on so many levels and taught me a lot as an editor.

Which one of all your published works is your favorite, and why so? 

Only one? I'd like to say two poems. Temperate Moon, for it's sensual imagery and Guardians of the Keep. A fantasy narrative piece for which Sheila Foley did a pen and ink illustration. They do great at readings and I kind of think of them as classics. Wish I could produce like that all the time, but that's not how things work. For a story, I'd have to say the Shuddering. It has stood the test of time as far as storytelling goes with multiple layers and believable characters. I still really like the story.

Which character that you've created is your favorite? Please explain why that character is your favorite.

A tough one. Some stand out more than others. I like Brooke Howell, the protagonist in my Reluctant Medium series. She is a young medium who continually ignores her family traits and often finds herself in trouble because she has denied so many things. As time goes on her gifts develop and she becomes more intuitive. Her family's past haunts her, literally. Some people call her crazy because she sees ghosts. But more than that her inquisitive nature takes over and she is compelled to help people, sometimes the wrong people, in order to solve a mystery. She's multi layered with a quirky sense of humor and those around her often throw her off track. She's complex and I'm having fun getting to know her. Because it's an ongoing project I'm still learning about her.

What are you presently working on?

Ah, The Reluctant Medium, among other things. I've completed book one and two in draft form. They still need work before I can start book three. That's all I have planned for the RM series. But it may spawn a novella or two. Who knows? Other than that, I'm always writing new shorts and poetry. My plan is to continue submitting the more marketable stories. I'm hopeful for their eventual publication. If not, I may put out a compilation of stories. Also I'd like to go back to an earlier novel, when time permits.

 


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Cat Temper is the musical project of composer and cat pun enthusiast, Mike Langlie. I've been a long time fan of Mike's past music output. I thought it was time I investigated this very talented musician who may have created a genre of music known as, Meowwave. 

Without further ado, here's the interview with Cat Temper/Mike Langlie conducted via email. I hope you dig it more than a litter box.


1. How did you get the idea for Cat Temper?



My previous toytronica project was all happy bunnies and rainbows. A little bit tongue-in-cheek but mostly un-ironic joy made from simple instruments, catchy melodies and hyper arrangements. Not everyone got what I was going for and I learned to ignore the trolls bashing what they considered to be non-serious music. I took it as far as I could – some might say too far – and took a break to figure out what to do next.


I went back to my roots to explore the sounds I liked as a kid getting into music in the 1980s. Synth-heavy Electro and New Wave, sloppy Punk, bombastic Prog Rock, and a bit of ridiculous Hair Metal. Even 8-bit sounds from early Atari and arcade games became an ingredient. The idea of an unpredictable semi-feral feline seemed to embody the spirit of this crazy mix, and was also a contrast to the friendliness of my previous outing.



2. How would you describe what your genre is? Are you worried about being restricted by a genre?


As Cat Temper was getting off the ground I discovered the 80s Synthwave revival which I absolutely love. My music doesn't exactly fit that mold but Synthwave fans picked up on the retro elements and welcomed me into the scene. It's a diverse evolving genre with branches like Darksynth, Vaporwave, Sweatwave (emulating 80s aerobic video soundtracks) and other niche styles. Someone jokingly labeled my stuff as "Meowave" and it stuck. I don't mind being in a genre of one band!


Even with my previous project which had a specific palette I didn't worry about stylistic constraints. I like exploring different themes with every album and seeing where my sound develops. I get bored quickly which may also explain why most of my songs are like a car crash of genre mashups.



3. Is there a musician/band that most inspires you in your Cat Temper work?


Its DNA has traces of 1980s electronic music oddballs like DEVO, P-Model, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Alien Sex Fiend, and Futurisk. More recent influences include Skinny Puppy, Mindless Self Indulgence, and Nine Inch Nails which is obvious if you've seen the song titles for my latest album "Kitty Hate Machine".



4. How do you go about creating a Cat Temper song?


Almost all of my tracks start by playing with sound design. Each song is almost an excuse to find uses for weird synth patches, combining them as characters in musical conversations. That approach guides where songs go more than a traditional verse-chorus-verse structure, for better or worse.


I fully embrace the low-brow nature of this project. I'd much rather see how far I can take a "dumb" riff and idea than stress over creating a masterpiece. I love happy accidents and unexpected detours that pop up. Nothing ever comes out as planned, it's always a fun surprise for me.



5. The first Cat Temper "Purring For Vengeance" album was released in 2019. Since then you've released seven more albums. How are you able to create so much exciting music in such a short span of time? Many major bands release one album every few years.


At my age I feel like I have to accomplish as much as possible before the meteor hits! Working mostly in the box on a laptop speeds things up compared to previous projects. Thankfully I don't often get writer's block. I have a notebook full of concept album ideas I'll never get around to doing. Everyone is over-saturated with entertainment options these days – especially music – so I'm trying to slow down a little and "only" release a couple albums a year to let people catch up!


6. Your second album "Henry" is an alternate soundtrack to the movie Eraserhead. What made you think you could meld this type of music to such a stark film?


David Lynch is as much of an influence on my music as any bands. His first film Eraserhead blew my mind at a young age and opened me up to enjoying strangeness and offbeat humor in both movies and life in general. I also love seeing musicians do alternate soundtracks for films to reinterpret a story and characters. I always wanted to do that and only recently had the confidence to attempt it.


Eraserhead is my favorite film but a tough one for many people to get into. Everything about it is unconventional – the story, sets, acting, and soundtrack which is mostly industrial drones and noises. A big motivation was to help people find a way in with a more approachable hook. Since there's little dialogue and music it lends itself to being treated like a silent film. In no way do I want to compare what I do with "Henry"  (named after the main character) to the genius of Lynch. If my re-score helps people appreciate the film or rediscover it in a new way then I consider the experiment a success.


7. On one album you've had collaborators. How did that come to be? Anyone you've tried to work with but haven't gotten a collar on yet?


One bit of feedback I got with every album is people want to hear my songs with vocals. I finally gave in and asked a bunch of my favorite singers with different voices and styles in the electronic music scene to collaborate on the album "More Than a Feline". It was an opportunity to work with cool people whose work I admire. Not everyone I invited wanted to play but I'm thrilled to have worked with the people who did.


Writing music for vocalists is strange for me and I'm sure what I gave them was a challenge! My only guidance was to write cat-themed lyrics and I can't believe the great directions everyone took. I'm still in awe of the talent and generosity that each person put into it.


Of course working with 10 people was a bit like wrangling cats due to busy schedules and priorities. The album took over a year to complete and I learned a lot during the mixing stage. I don't know how soon I'll attempt something that ambitious again with other people involved. It's much easier and faster to do everything myself, but I'm extremely happy with the process and results of the experience.


Two singers I'd love to collab with are Ivan Doroschuk of Men Without Hats and Nina Hagen. Call me back!


8. You released "Kitty Hate Machine" on cassette. Some of your releases have been on vinyl. Why did you go with cassette instead of vinyl? How different was it to prepare the album for a cassette instead of vinyl?


One of my dreams as a kid fascinated with records was to release my own music on vinyl. I'm happy that I've been able to do that several times now, and have it in people's collections.


Vinyl is expensive to make, takes a long time to get pressed, and requires careful audio mastering to sound decent. I've been fortunate to have help from a small label (thank you Lazersteel Records!) and some crowdfunding campaigns.


I had a big cassette collection growing up and when CDs came around I thought that was the death knell for tapes. The recent cassette resurgence was a real surprise and it took a while for me dive back into the format. There's obviously a huge nostalgia and novelty factor. Tapes are relatively cheap to produce, especially compared to vinyl, and there are fun packaging options available. Plus it doesn't require special audio prep. I see alot of cool looking tapes on Bandcamp and wanted to experiment with releasing my own. The "Kitty Hate Machine" cassette sold really well and I increased my order to meet demand. I'm considering releasing a bunch of older albums on tape for people who like the format, plus so I can have my own copies for pure vanity's sake!


You can check out Cat Temper here!

Saturday, May 22, 2021

An interview with Jerry Kranitz author of Cassette Culture: Homemade Music and the Creative Spirit in the Pre-Internet Age

 

I conducted an email interview with Jerry Kranitz. Jerry used to run the incredible website/zine Aural Innovations  which changed my life for the better. Yes, I truly mean that and I would have to write another blog entry to explain it.

Jerry has written a massive book on home cassette recording artists of the pre-internet age called Cassette Culture: Homemade Music and the Creative Spirit in the Pre-Internet Age. For anyone who is as fascinated as I am in the creation of art for the sake of creating art, this book is a wonder. So, here is my interview with the wonderful Jerry Kranitz.


How did you first become aware of cassette culture/trading?


I did a lot of interviews in the early days of publishing my Aural Innovations space rock zine. I started noticing a pattern where several subjects reminisced about how in the 1980s they recorded their music on cassettes and networked with people around the world. They described trading tapes of their original work with other homemade musicians, collaborated through the mail, and in some cases even started little cottage industry labels. All this communication was facilitated through the small press publications/zines that proliferated in the punk/post-punk era. I had never communicated with fellow music travelers outside my locale prior to the internet. It fascinated me how theses people found each other and communicated and WROTE LETTERS to each through the postal service. Think about it… collaborating on music by sending cassette tapes back and forth through the mail, adding parts, mixing, editing with 4-track TEAC and Fostex portastudios, without the benefit of email and uploading/downloading digital files.


I eventually came to consider this global network of homemade musicians to be a story that needed to be told, and formulated the dual thesis of my book, that 1980s – early 1990s cassette culture was:

  • A part of the larger post-punk story that deserved to be fully fleshed out
  • Part of the ongoing story of 20th independent arts movements (e.g., Dada, Fluxus, Mail Art)


Did you make any tapes yourself during the cassette age? Did anyone you knew personally make any? 


This network and its activities flew completely under my radar while it was occurring. I was living in Atlanta in the 1980s and regularly read some of the key American publications (Op, Sound Choice, Option) that network participants relied on. But it would never have occurred to me at the time to write to any of these people to obtain their music. The only tapes I made at this time, which I started doing in the 1970s, was mixtapes. And you will recall from reading my book that mixtapes are NOT what this story is about. These people were recording their own original music and audio art.


You had been working on the book for many years, how did you finally go about publishing it? 


Frank Maier is a German enthusiast (he would agree if I said ‘obsessive’) of this music, network and era who runs a label called Vinyl-on-Demand. VOD specializes in vinyl LP box set reissues of artists from this era, mostly in the industrial, noise, avantgarde, and minimal synth realms. VOD has also published some books. A friend who knew I was working on the book alerted Frank about the project and he approached me about publishing it. It finally hit the streets in July 2020, which unfortunately happened to be while we were in the throes of the pandemic. But I think it has all worked out very well.


What were some of your biggest obstacles to completing the book?


The biggest obstacle came probably around 2011 or so when I started going slack on the project. I felt like I just had too much going on in my life. I continued to be immersed in the topic but was not actively working on the book. A few years later I started to seriously reflect and realized that if I ever ended up with a deathbed regret, not finishing the book would be it. I also realized that what I had experienced was a crisis of confidence, which ended up just being the need to identify gaps in my research. It was full speed ahead from there.


When did you realize that you wanted to include CDs with the book? How did that change the dynamic of publishing the book?


Frank at VOD had mentioned accompanying CDs early on but, I don’t recall exactly, it fell by the wayside. Once we were close to publication he brought it up again and felt strongly that the book should include audio to support what I was writing about. We put out calls for contributions on very targeted Facebook groups. When I say ‘targeted’ I mean where many of the group members had been key participants in the 1980s cassette culture network who would be solid candidates for inclusion on the CDs. I also contacted three people who I knew were not on Facebook but felt should be included. I’m pretty sure the selections were made it not much more than a week. So it all came together very quickly, but I think the CDs are wonderfully representative of the era that the book covers.


Did you ever get tempted to include cassettes instead of cds? Was it too problematic to do so?


That’s a perfectly valid question, and some people even mock me for including CDs with a cassette culture history. But cassettes were never practical. There was just no way to include them with what already was a 4 lb. book. The CDs fit snugly in the front and back covers, being little thicker than a couple pages. Moreover, many people who were interested enough to purchase the book no longer have cassette players. CDs were the only way to go.


There are so many interesting people that you discuss in the book. Were they easy to track down? Were they open to talking to you for the book? Were there some who you couldn’t get in touch with?


When I started researching the book in 2007, I was concerned with interviewing a cross-section of people from different countries. Some I found because they had web sites. Some I found just by poking around on the internet. This poking around sometimes led me to people I had been unaware of, and after reading about them realized they would be ideal representatives of the era. Nearly everybody was agreeable to being interviewed and most responded in the detail I was hoping for. Some also never responded. Maybe I had bad contact information. Maybe they thought I was just blowing smoke. Anybody can say they are writing a book.


I’ll add that WAY more of the participants from the era are now available and accessible because of Facebook. Late in the game I had access to a lot of people I would have originally targeted for interviews. But I drew the line at that because I was on a solid trajectory toward completion. What I did do in a few cases was contact people who I had quoted from 1980s publications, showed them what I was quoting from their decades younger selves, and added their contemporary perspective.


There are some nice heart warming stories in the book, like how some people who fell in love through the exchange of cassettes. How did that make you feel?


I took a social history approach to the story I was telling. The book is actually more about the network and how people functioned within it than it is about the recordings they made. The interactions, the collaboration, and the friendships made are very much at the heart of the story and what compelled me to tell the tale. In that regard, the best anecdote in the book is about Don Campau and Robin O’Brien, hometapers living on opposite U.S. coasts, who came together as a couple. They are still married.


What aspects of the culture least interested you, and did you find that you had to write about them regardless?


There aren’t any topics I left out because they didn’t interest me. Likewise, I didn’t include anything because I felt obligated to. The biggest challenge was deciding on a concisely coherent outline of what I wanted to cover. My main concerns were to highlight how the participants communicated, exchanged tapes, collaborated, and setup cottage industry labels to distribute their work. It took many years of research and writing to land on the final outline.


How many more stories do you think there are left to tell about the pre-internet cassette age?


Quite a lot! Is there only one book about punk history? There are lots of topics, stories, and approaches to telling this history. For example, when Frank at VOD read my first draft he felt I was remiss in not talking about the sound poets. And he was absolutely correct that they are a crucial component to this history. But I had to be really hard nosed about my desired focus. Having said that, my greatest hope is that someone will read the book and feel so strongly about something that was excluded, and/or has a different spin on the story, and undertake their own research and writing project.


What parallels, if any, do you see between the cassette culture and the culture of web sites like Bandcamp which allow people to share their music freely?


I’m struggling to think of parallels. Bandcamp, which I’m a big fan of, certainly makes artists music far more available than the cassettes the 1980s artists recorded. But, and this is crucial, that doesn’t mean their recordings are being heard by more people than heard the 1980s cassette recordings. There is a massive overload of availability and choice today.


Do you feel that social media has been helpful in promoting the book?


YES!


What do you want people to know most about your book?


That it is about a network of individuals with common interests who found each other. And this was important because in most cases their neighbors, family and schoolmates would not share these interests. We take that for granted now because fellow travelers are so easy to find on the internet. In the pre-internet age people had to put in the effort to find each other through publications they probably found in record stores, wrote letters to each other, traded tapes of their work, WAITED for the postal service back-and-forth, and often collaborated on recordings. In some cases people traveled, sometimes overseas, to meet each other. They recorded their own often incredibly creative and original music and audio art, often heard only by a handful of listeners. But that absolutely did not matter. It was the creation that counted. Record companies? Who needs ‘em.


What projects are you currently working on?   


I am limiting what I spend time on. I have two ongoing projects….


First, the Harsh Reality Music historical archive, found at this site  http://www.haltapes.com/harsh-reality-music.html

Harsh Reality was a Memphis based cassette label launched in 1982 by Chris Phinney. I am working closely with Chris and Hal McGee, writing reviews of each tape the label released and conducting interviews with Chris. We are slowly and chronologically detailing and making available to hear every one of the over 300 tapes in the catalog.


Second, I have been working for some years now with guitarist Terry Brooks to sift through his unreleased music and make it available on Bandcamp. The site we run is found at

https://terrybrooksandstrange.bandcamp.com


Terry’s story is long and detailed, but the quickie explanation is that he self-released a private press LP in 1973 titled Translucent World, which is prized by many in heavy Psych rock collector circles. He released many albums and singles through the 1990s. Terry is 78 years old now, lives in the Orlando, Florida area, and is an absolute gem of a human being.

Sunday, March 28, 2021


The Season of Rust Track by Track

The wonderfully multi-talented Mike Langlie, from the amazing music project's Cat Temper and Twink the Toy Piano Band, suggested that I write a track by track breakdown of the recent Tim Mungenast/Astro Al experimental album Season of Rust. So here it is. 

First a quick about the album sort of thing; Season of Rust was spawned from a gigantic series of recordings we did with Tim Mungenast a few years ago. It's the second and final (I think) album in our Rust series. The first being The Poetry of Rust. Perhaps its more like a musical double feature. https://astroal.bandcamp.com/album/season-of-rust


  1. The Hum Told Them- Tim Mungenast wrote the words. This tells a piece of a larger story about a construction or destruction crew guided by something unseen. They are still there. Much of the sounds come from Tim, DNA Girl, and I pounding on a metal pole at a lake in Weirdfield MA. There's also a buzzing painting sound that I tried for weeks to capture. Wind chimes from the backyard too.
  2. The Desert Swirls Through the Ancient Saucer Wreckage- Mandolin, metal on metal scraping. Guitar swirls. This was built out of multiple spot recordings and bits and pieces of one jam. It became a big audio collage. Musique concrète? Perhaps, except its metal. Metal on metal baby.
  3. The Sophisticat Explores the Beauty of Corrosion-  Rust doesn't just happen to metal. Rust happens to the mind. I played bass on this track. I think its the first time I played bass on a recording. Tim played swirling guitarscapes. DNA girl smashed horseshoes and other odd bits of metals. The original spoken word bit was so much longer than the music that I had to edit it down quite a bit, which probably made it better, but also made it a little more non-sensical. I dig DNA Girl's narration performance. Dr. Klang and Lev who had previously been characters on our prior album The Poetry of Rust, return briefly. I'm so glad that Seaweed Orchestra's only exist in a black rust spot in my mind. All the buzzes and statics are there on purpose. How else does rust sound?
  4. The Jet Set Find the Magic Mural-  Another spoken word bit. Drawn from a dream. Dreams don't dare enter my sleeping mind that often, but this one seeped in. I would like to have a rich aunt and uncle. If someone wants to volunteer, feel free. Tim of course played guitar. I purposefully didn't speak on this album. Figured the world deserved a break from my nasal tones. Tim did a great job with the narration. It feels like he wrote it. Airport diners are either good or annoying. This one is good and leads to zen. Layers upon layers of jamming piled on top of each other. 
  5. Awakening of the Metallic Bats-  Our characters, from the previous track, witness the metallic bats rise. Lots of metal scraping with a stick on this one. Mandolin patterns sketched by DNA Girl. Guitar beauty by Tim. 
  6. The Digging Continues- The story of the poor souls in the pit continues. Dig. Dig. Dig. Lots of real life construction sounds worked their way into the track. We had to redo Tim's voice because there were police sirens in the background that clashed with everything else. I think I played with a live guitar lead on this one. DNA Girl smashed metal. I layered it, so it sounded like Tim was having a call and response guitar dual with himself. DNA girl also did some percussion stuff and vocalizations. I think we alternated banjo playing on this one too. 
  7. Is There Rust in Space?- Flange flickering over horse shoes smacked together by DNA Girl. I think the jam this was culled from was close to seven minutes. This track is almost four minutes. Often times, shorter is better. I try to keep albums near the 40 minute mark. Most of my favorite albums are in that range so why not follow suit? I think the mind tires after that mark. Tim's swirl guitars are lovingly whacked. 
  8. The Heart of the Robot-  I played some effect loaded synth pattern on this one. I also made a feedback static sound. Tim rolled Baoding balls in his kung fu grip. DNA Girl experimented with metal. It was a tasty one to end the album with, at least I think so. Again, I tried to keep this one short.

That's it!

Hope you dig some Season of Rust. 

-Yours in Rust,

Count Robot

Sunday, March 14, 2021

 


Count Robot's Favorite 3 Albums of 2020


In 2020 there was an incredible amount of excellent new music.

I could drone on like a years worth of drone music, that was created by drones but I will jus keep it to my three favorites. So let's get right into it.

I prefer to remember 2020 as the year of Blue Oyster Cult. After years of no albums, I lost track of how many albums BOC released this year. Six? I don't know.... Incredible!


3. Albert Bouchard: Re Imaginos: 

I am not going to go into the whole bizarre history of the original Imaginos album. If you want the background, check it out here. With Re-Imaginos, former BOC member Albert Bouchard, reshapes the songs into old world/new world music. This is Bouchard performing broken down in the best way possible, musical theater. Wonderful production, such beautiful sounding violins! Heavy metal songs are transformed into semi-acoustic sea shanties in this excellent release. There's a tune called, Girl That Love Made Blind, which is a Christmas song filled with strange astrological creepiness presented in a politely, pretty, pagan, waltz. Girl That Love Made Blind never makes me tired of hearing the word, Christmas.

Such an excellent re-arrangement of Astronomy. Lost desert highway three AM country music is the sound that Gil Blanco County fills in my head.

Re-Imaginos could be an incredible musical. I would go see it.

Al Bouchard's vocals have a scratchy broken beauty, filled with ancient lore. He's the narrating invisible wizard. I've heard that Bouchard plans to make it a trilogy. I am all, all, all in. 




https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imaginos


2. Blue Oyster Cult: The Symbol Remains


The Symbol does indeed remain. It remains in my head. It makes me think of old BOC because of the title being a throw back to an older BOC album, Revolution By Night. This album popped right into the number two spot on my list after one listening. All sorts of interesting lyrics. Catchy riffs. Solid thick production. Tainted Blood is a vampire song! BOC has a great tradition of vampire songs, so I was glad to get another one added to the list with this album.

The chorus on Stand and Fight smacks you right in the face. 

Alien abductions return with the Edge of the World which has a grizzly howl of defiance in Eric Bloom's booming voice. 

One of my favorite songs on this album is Train true. It's so bonkers in the off kilter style that BOC used to work in quite often (anyone besides me remember the BOC ditty, She's as Beautiful as a Foot?). Nice to see a strong return of innovative fun. Buck Dharma's vocal deliver is righteous, slick, insane, and so good. Cheers BOC. You all rocked this one home!




1.  The Gypsy Moths: Wollaston Theater (EP) 

https://thegypsymoths.bandcamp.com/

Yes, this is not a full length album. As my man Ed Wood, would say, “So what?” 

Wollaston Theater is a treasure of rock and roll with soul, horns, guitars, and song craft. It's been in constant rotation. As a download, as a CDR, as a vinyl album too, yes all the formats for me. All so rock and roll awesome.

These Days Will Run is the opening song. Get's us pumped up right into the best party you've always wanted to have all in four classic songs. 

The Continuing Story of Arthur Duffy is a song about a real life criminal. It's a wild story of a song with so much guts. I could picture this song being blasted out of a jam packed juke joint in the middle of nowhere with people coming from hours away to experience this awesome slice of early rock greatness. A classic. As the lyrics say, “Let's go!”

City Point is a forlorn slick slice of rock and melancholy. I dig that. Often the best songs are sad, which makes us feel. This song is one of those in the best lush way. Those vocals! If you don't feel anything while listening to this tune, check your pulse.

We Can't Go Home is the final song. It's a great romp about skipping... school. It's so good it makes me want to go back to school just so I could skip school. This song has such an earnest wistfulness to it. Sweet melancholy that you can make dance. Skip with me now, is one of the lyrics. The eternal urge for escape from Monday morning. Let's skip, not just school, but the rat race. I dig it. 

One thing that blows my mind about this album, is that they love it so much in Europe. The lyrics are so wonderfully Boston, MA centric in vibes, that at first I didn't get how the astute music fans in the EU, and beyond, picked up on this great collection of songs by the Moths.

Now I get it, it's the afar romance that people have for us, as I have for the afar romance for London, Rome, Montreal, and more. It is the window into the other. That's what the Gypsy Moths have so deftly given the rest of the world, a view into the life of Boston.

Excellent production. Raw enough for you to feel it, slick enough to make you feel a little dirty. Pounding drums, crunchy, punchy guitars, phat horns, nice old school keys, and rock and flipping soul filled vocals are masterfully performed and captured. On the first listening I thought to myself, I'm picking an EP as my favorite album of the year.





So there it is, another favorite albums of the year post.

Late as usual


Lately yours,

Count Robot 2021

Sunday, February 21, 2021

A Few Words for the Expired


A friend died today.

On Fucked Book how is that any different? Somebody dies there every minute.

Someday I expect to see a story about how some guy who cleaned the set toilets for every movie ever made, died, and I should be moved, by his moving on.


This friend who died today, is a real friend who died, not just some virtual de-coded autocratic, nomadic, algorithmic Fake Friend on Friend Bitch.

He's a mystery in some ways, that's ok. 

Why shouldn't your friends have some unknown legends in their background?


I want to be happy.

He's no longer in miserable pain.

I want to be sad.

He's dead.


Is it covid quarantine that's put all my emotions in a box?

People are dying. 

People are less real than I am.

How do you scream at every daily tragedy?

I ask questions over and over, but what answers do I have?

I feel like a lowercase i.


My emotions go no where.

Unbox the box they're in.

This is fucked.

Make art?

Somebody just died.


Angry? 

Why shouldn't I be?


I remember when my now dead friend offered his theory about conspiracy theory loving cult suckling Trolls, they want the world to end to prove them right.


Who wants the world to end?

Life is better.

Life is what I want for everyone, even the Trolls.

Maybe if the Trolls live long enough, they'll learn to stop hating.


My now dead friend, we were going to make some writing together, right?

Would it have been art? Who knows? I don't care.

It would have been fun. 

You sold stuff, that always impressed the hell out of me. Selling words is a Troll pit.

I want to own that pit, not be owned by it. You were never owned by it.

That makes no sense.

Back to the point, working with my now dead friend, would have been fun.

I needed to get some records down first I said. I wasn't even sure what we should do, but I was thinking about working on a short story with you. Who knows. I should know. I should have put off the records. I couldn't stop my full speed self.

That's me, being the biggest idiot in my own story, which is really supposed to be about my friend. His nickname was Zell.

When we first met, Zell thought my nickname was my real name. 

It was that kind of meeting at the cable access show we crewed on together for a billion years of beers, strange stories, free pizzas, directions, misdirections, occult invasions of our video, freakish forms waving disembodied limbs in a mutation wave, the night with the equestrian with the riding crop, who wasn't really an equestrian, you were very freaking funny.

I remember that skit you did where you never even said anything. 

So funny. Laughing. Thanks for all those laughs.

Your blog had more variety than a variety store commercial in the middle of a TV variety show on the Variety channel.

You told emotional stories about childhood, funny stuff about encountering obnoxious buffoonery perpetuated by empty skulled blithering trog-bogs, why did people ask you, you Zell, the sarcastic bastard of comedy, why would they ever ask you such stupid questions and not expect you to verbally eviscerate them? You are like a sarcasm artist spraying acid sarcasm everywhere, burning everything around you.

The stories you told about the weird things you saw everyday...

Were you starring in a cult movie directed by a crack addict?

I remember that concert we saw, although we both had gone separately not knowing the other was there. 

Good taste I guess.

The intention had been to keep this rant short.

I'm sick of my emotion box that unwraps in no way that makes sense.

Tired from being tired of the quarantine dishwashing soup bubble floating in the stale air.

So, Zell I'm running out.

See you again some better day, even if I don't see you.