Ones and Zeros
It's hard to describe just what kind of music Immaculate Machine would be categorized under -- that's what makes them stand out from other indie bands out there right now. The sweet and innocent lyrics, along with energetic guitar riffs, are what make Ones and Zeroes exciting to listen to.
Immaculate Machine is a three-piece band that includes Brooke Gallup (vocals/guitar), Kathryn Calder (vocals/keyboards), and Luke Kozlowski (vocals/drums), all of whom are longtime friends from Victoria, BC. With a mix of danceable beats and sophisticated ballads, there's a song on here for every mood you are in. While healing a broken heart, "Statue" will keep you down: "When it comes to you, you were always first / When it comes to you silence is the worst." These words will definitely make you reminisce about an old flame. "So Cynical" describes a person who takes things a little too seriously; I'm sure we all know somebody like that.
The well-blended boy and girl vocals, energetic beats, and overall vibe of the band result for a worry-free fun time. Don't get me wrong -- they aren't the best band ever, but they'll come in handy for a fun night out. (JG)
(Mint Records -- P.O. Box 3613, Vancouver, BC V6B 3Y6 CANADA; http://www.mintrecs.com/; Immaculate Machine -- http://www.immaculatemachine.com/)
Infernal Bridegroom Productions
In the Under Thunderloo: Original Score
If you've ever seen one of the Infernal Bridegroom Productions plays, you know that one one of the things that makes a lot of the plays great is the live music that goes along with them. Instead of having canned music during or between scenes, they have real people playing the music. There is just no comparison between recorded music and the real thing. Unfortunately, that axiom also holds for this recording, a recording of the live music that went along with the re-production of In the Under Thunderloo (the original production happening in 1993).
The songs are just fine; some are good, in fact, but they are recorded very "live," and this album suffers because of that. There are little bits that are out of tune, rhythms that that aren't always solid, mixes that are muddy -- all this adds up to an album that is sometimes difficult to listen to. But hey, at least the songs were documented. It would have been criminal to work as hard as the IBP orchestra did and then just let that music drift into the ether once the play had finished its run. And if all you're looking for is a document of that experience, something to go along with the songs that got stuck in your head, then it's available for you. If you're not a fan of rock operas -- if, say, Tommy turns you off, then keep moving. This is not for you. (JC)
(Infernal Bridegroom Productions -- P.O. Box 131004, Houston, TX. 77219-1004; http://www.infernalbridegroom.com/)
Alive On Departure
Fuzzed-out guitars and subdued vocals make up the majority of the songs on Louisville band Instant Camera's latest album. And while the band does its best to rehash the underground punk aesthetic of the mid-'80s (bands like Public Image Limited and Pere Ubu come to mind), the album quickly loses the listener's attention. Songs like "Social Anxiety" and "Working Class Zero" do their best to worm their way into listener's brains, but while the songs hint at potential, there's simply not enough substance to make a lasting impression. Maybe it's the fact it's all been done too many times, or maybe it's the fact that it's been done much better -- either way, Alive On Departure is dead on arrival. (DAC)
(Wall To Wall Records -- 1403 1/2 E. Breckenridge St., Louisville, KY. 40204; http://www.theinstantcamera.com/)
Constructing Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
I received Irene's 2004 offering, Constructing Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, wrapped in a letter that said the band was watching me and when I least expected it, they would chop my family members into little pieces, skin my dog alive, then come after me. It was signed in blood by each of the three Oviedo brothers (Dan on guitar and vocals, Hector on bass, and Oscar and drums) and notarized. I thought that the way they had packaged it in a bloody pig stomach and stuck it to my door with a large hunting knife was a nice touch, too. Eliminates the need for stamps.
Kidding. I do have the disc, though, and here are my thoughts:
First, let me say that to do what the Oviedos are doing takes lots and lots of patience and hard work. It is extremely difficult in Houston to play original material and have an audience when most, if not all, of the popular spots want cover bands. It seems like Irene is really making a name for itself, and that's great.
So, about the music. Maybe the guys in the band were right, and the Limp Bizkit comparisons in my previous review were a little too harsh. I was glad to hear of the Oviedos' extreme dislike for that band and conscious effort to not sound like them, so I decided to give the band another listen, but this time in the truck. We all know that a vehicle is the best place to listen to music; sometimes it even gives headphones a run for their money. I took it with me one day while going to the bank -- the one with the slowest drive-through in the world -- and was able to listen to the entire disc from the time I left the house to the time I returned.
Now, following Irene's little communiqué, I'd started wondering why I would've said something to offend somebody so. At times I can be a little harsh, I admit it -- it never really hit me that someone would read one of my reviews, I guess. I could have been in a rotten mood the day I wrote it; who knows? At any rate, after hearing the band for the second time, I sort of started to remember.
The music is jumpy, changes time and tempo frequently, and is difficult to really get into. So what? Listen to any Jethro Tull or System of a Down album, and you get the same thing. As far as Irene's arrangements are concerned, they could be cool -- I like the disjointed mellow-to-mad unconventional-ness of it. The problem is that there are very few catchy guitar riffs and drum parts to really draw the listener in. I know it's cliché, in a way, to say it, but as in dating, there needs to be some initial attraction before the relationship can progress any further. Almost all of the tracks start slow, with sort of ska-like rhythms. Then, just when you think the songs will take off, they don't. When they finally speed up a bit, Dan Oveido abandons his singing voice and screams at you.
Trying to be different is excellent; however, there are still a couple of unwritten rules to follow when making metal. First, there needs to be great instrumentation -- i.e., riffage and drumming. I don't mean shredding and fillers, mind you; I'm talking good, emotion-filled, intentional playing. Second, it all needs to be big, loud, and obscene. These are the foundations that metal was built upon, but Irene seems to have ignored these two rules. In addition, I found that because the songs have lots of stops and starts, the individual segments within the songs often lack cohesion. Without any sort of common thread, the song parts are like "burps" on the CD. I found myself looking at the track number often, only to realize it hadn't changed. All in all, I was not impressed with Irene's debut album. To me, it was very difficult to immerse myself in because of its choppiness and lack of stand-out elements. It seems, however, that Irene is starting to take off, so they must be doing something right, even if they're not this reviewer's cup of tea. (CM)
(self-released; Irene -- http://www.irenemusic.net/)