Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wildeman's Words: With a special message for autism...

Check out this inspiring post from an awesome writer/artist!
Wildeman's Words: With a special message for autism: It's finally available; my second book. It's a collection of 12 short stories that will make you laugh, gasp and wonder. While I n...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Music Video Review: The Sound of Violence

How does a music video review differ from a song review? A song review is where I review a song (obviously) and vaguely touch base on its video. With a music video review, I review the visual aspect - dancers, choice of actors, costumes, visual effects, locations, etc. - and only mention the song in how it relates to the video.

For the first video review, we're going to check out an old favorite of mine - "The Sound of Violence" by Cassius. This single was released in 2002, and it's the only single by Cassius to reach the top spot on the American dance charts.

The video takes us on a fast paced journey, running through a landscape similar to that of Earth, but with obvious differences that become more apparent the further you get into the video - first the colored patterns in the grass, a sun that sits in the earth like a luminescent half-sphere, two dimensional jagged trees, floating lands, and eventually a total twist on our perception of the world.

The visuals are quite stunning when seen in HD and it really gets your blood pumping. The vibrant colors and the complete and utter distortion of reality (2:15 and forward) is simply breathtaking. Directors "Alex & Martin" play with shapes (both geometric and organic), color schemes, and motion that counters the ever-forward movement to create an environment both thrilling and aesthetically pleasing.  The entire video was created using a brilliant combination of rotoscoping, stop animation, and CGI. When paired with the fusion of funky 70s vibes and modern house music of the actual song, this video really rounds out quite well and takes you out of the safety of the world you know and thrusts you into an exciting adventure.

The most unsatisfying element (at least for someone like me) would be the complete 90 degree turn at 1:43. That sweeping motion and the turn from traveling straight forward to sideways really gets me and is the hardest part for me to watch. Luckily, the momentum is quickly rebuilt and the journey continues smoothly.

My biggest problem with the visuals would be the diagonal white lines of what appears to be beams of light that manifest at 1:14. Are they simply lines, used to contrast and break up the dark scenery? Or are they supposed to be moonbeams? They look like moonbeams more than anything, and this is what most people assume them to be; however, they are coming at a downward angle from the left. This is impossible for a moon that is completely in front of you at a different angle in the sky.

The favorite part? Watching the sky take three dimensional shape in the form of layered cubes (which can be seen in the video thumbnail below), then soaring through a vividly colored concourse of squares and rectangles. There's just something so satisfying about all those sharp angles, neatly flowing together, yet completely separate and pell-mell.

Over all, the pros far outweigh the cons; it's pleasing to watch, drawing on the subconscious pleasures of the mind. It's fast paced, it's fun, and pretty impressive for the methods used in its creation.

Still not convinced? Check it out for yourself:

Ninja Fish thinks this is great music to... contemplate reality with.
Rating: ★ 

Toss Up Tuesday: Top 5 Friendliest Bands/Artists

Today I will share with you the top 5 bands/artists that are not only down to earth, but willing to even share a drink with us mere mortals.

Number 5: BB Blackdog. I met this awesome psychedelic steampunk band on a 20 hour round trip to Jefferson, TX for the first annual Nightmare Machine convention. Their sound was smooth and trippy, but their style was all funky steampunk. Later that night, much later than a normal person would care to be out on the streets, they hosted a tea dueling competition. What is tea dueling?

Not only were they friendly and funny, but they were also extremely approachable, even posing when they caught someone attempting to take a candid picture. They took the time to be social with all the fans that attended the dueling competition and stayed into the wee hours of the morning, securing their spot on the list. Find them here.

Number 4: MY Wooden LEG. MY Wooden LEG was also seen at the Nightmare Machine. This band really takes the time to connect with their fans, whether online or in person. Since I became a fan, I've converted many of my friends to fans as well. Each time, they feel the need to mention me on MY Wooden LEG's Facebook page. Each time, I am thanked. It's not just me who has benefited from their manners and kindness, but anyone who has posted on their page. They are truly a down-to-earth trio. Find them here.

Number 3: This Way to the Egress. This group was a popular vote from my Dragon*Con contacts. According to their messages, meeting this band at their merch table was "fun and exciting". The band members were described as "kind, engaging, and very outgoing". In my experience, this is quite true. My band review of them has led many of my friends and readers to begin following them, and always I get positive feedback. Find them here.

Number 2: Voltaire. Need I say more? Anyone who knows of him, knows what a kind of guy he is - cracking jokes and having a drink with fans, and so on. He has a very exuberant personality and works hard for all the fans he has, more often than not working late into the night and early hours of the morning to keep everyone up to date and to make sure they get their merch. Find him here.

Number 1: The Cruxshadows. Of course they made the top spot. It's no secret they're my favorite band and it's also no secret how much they care about their fans. After every performance I've attended (and every performance that friends have attended - which is quite a large number), they stay late to meet fans at the merch table, sign autographs, and pose for pictures. Even on social sites such as Facebook, each of the members makes a personal connection with their fans in some way. They're never above having a conversation or offering musical tips and tricks. Add this to their already amazing reputation of teaching their fans to stand up for beliefs, be strong, and do what's right and you have one incredible group. Though the band has seen many changes in members since their founding in '92, one thing has never changed - their message.

"Do not injustice to another
Defend the weak and innocent
Let truth and honor always guide you
Let courage find the light within

Stand up when no one else is willing
Act not in hatred or in spite
Be to this world as a perfect knight
Even if it means your life"
-- "Sophia"
 Find them here.

There you have it, the top 5 friendliest bands/artists. Have a top 5 list you'd like me to talk about? Have a band, song, album, or video you'd like me to review? Don't forget to comment!

More Fans Monday (Tuesday): Imperative Reaction and Esza Kaye

Welcome to the second "More Fans Monday," which is really a Tuesday. I fell ill and kind of dropped the ball, so we'll use our imaginations on this one, okay? More Fans Monday means I get to show you a couple of bands that I enjoy that deserve more fans and more fame than they have.

First up is another personal favorite (and I mean top five favorite bands kind of favorite): Imperative Reaction.

Haven't heard of them? I'm not surprised. They got their start in '96 and have been rocking the underground cyber scene with their original four members ever since. They've only released six albums between '99 and '11, which is a fair and reasonable number to most, but not for a rabid fan like me. They progressed from a bit of electro-Euro grunge to gritty industrial over the years, covering a spectrum of music I'm more than fond of. They remind me a bit of early Nine Inch Nails, and before you ask - yes, that's a good thing.

Imperative reaction always makes me feel quite nostalgic. I first heard them in '09 with their album "As We Fall". Their song "Judas" struck a powerful chord with me and gave me the feeling of righteous anger and invincibility. Looking at the lyrics, it's not hard to see why.

The song below is one of their more recent ones - and as such, one of their more cyber industrial sounds. Years later, I still enjoy them as much as I did on the day I discovered them, and I find their music lacking nothing but quantity.

Next up is Esza Kaye.

I have trouble finding a decent amount of information on her, but the important thing is not her label or her starting years, but her music. And that speaks for itself.

She performs a wide genre of music from the light, provocative "Katy Come Out To Play," to the sweet darkness of "The Confessor," and to the cyber-trance "Tinged With Machine". The group (consisting of Esza Kaye, Leddie Garcia, Christian Dorris, Randy Emata, and guests) started in Los Angeles and traipsed through the underground scenes of New York, Prague, Moscow, and many other places. The music they share reflects their experiences and travels, painting a dark, mysterious, and hazy image for their listeners.

Here, I will break precedent and show two of her videos. The first is "The Confessor," which reveals her darker, more ethereal side. The second is "Tinged With Machine," which will show the cyber-trance tones.

Remember - keep an open mind and you'll be sure to find amazing bands and singers of your own. Our music defines us, so make yourself worth listening to!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Band Review: This Way to the Egress

This Way to the Egress is a little-known band based out of Bethlehem, PA. Their genre? "Ole-Timey Roots, Gypsy-punk Cabaret".

Personal Experience: I had the pleasure of hearing Egress (as they will now be called for convenience) last Memorial Day weekend (2012) at the annual Dragon*Con. They had opened for (and continued to play with) Voltaire. At first glance when their drummer - Mathew Verderosa - (sporting a bone piercing seemingly through his nose) handed me a flyer, I was only mildly interested. In fact, the friendly drummer seemed to be the only interesting character.

I have never been happier to be proven so wrong about a band.

Their band was a motley crew of gypsy and slightly steampunk inspired fashion and, in truth, I was only attending their concert to see Voltaire. However, from the moment their lead vocalist, "Tyrant" Taylor Galassi, stepped foot on stage and began to sing, I was hooked.

Never before had I seen such a charismatic, and somewhat crazed and morbid, person before. Of course, I had seen people similar, but they lacked the magnetism that this man seemed to posses. Before I knew it, I was singing and dancing along with the crowd. The entire band seemed to have us under some sort of spell - and I can't say that I didn't enjoy myself thoroughly.

Ever since that fateful weekend, I've been following their news and performances online, just waiting for them to play a venue close enough.

Live Performance: Most artists are much better when not performing live; this can be attributed to a number of reasons - exhaustion, nerves, moronic sound technicians, human error... Egress didn't seem to have this problem. No matter what form you hear them in, they are always sure to please - hammering away at the keys, blaring their tuba and trombone, stomping around the stage, and just generally rocking it out without a care in the world. The most pleasing aspects of their live performances are their enthusiasm, their talented dancers - such as Rio (video below, forward to 4:08 - slightly mature content), their magnetic Tyrant, and their spunky piano/violin/vocalist - "Saddle" Sarah. Not to mention Mathew Verderosa, who can be seen wailing on the drums as if they had done him great personal injury in the video below (forward to 2:24).

The highlight? When Egress performed their rendition of "Jump in the Line". This song is not in the video below for obvious reasons - I was busy dancing. However, you can find a performance of it →HERE←

Music: What they bring to the table is certainly a unique blend. It's catchy, it's upbeat, it's morbid, and it's impossible not to move to. I'd never particularly enjoyed accordion before, but with Egress I can't seem to get enough. What's even more interesting are their uses of trombone and tuba, which give it the feeling of being in some sort of street carnival - and I mean this in the best possible way. Pair that with the pig-tailed "mandolin/banjotar" player, Jacklyn "the" Kidd, and you have a fascinating gang that's sure to live up to and exceed all expectations. All you need is a flask and a dancing partner.

Ninja Fish thinks this is great music to... dance in the street with. 
Rating: ½

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Toss Up Tuesday: Splat Hair Bleach

Toss Up Tuesday - Movie, show, music, book, food, and/or other review(s). Today - Splat brand hair bleach.

Brand Name: Splat
Product Design: The product design is modern and attractive with a touch of punk - very aesthetically pleasing.
What it Gives You: Peroxide, powder bleach (to add to peroxide bottle), instructions, very thin gloves, shampoo packet, conditioner packet.
What You Expect: Blonde hair as advertized on the box.
What You Get: Patchy, burned hair.

[Review] I purchased this in expectation of achieving the color on the box. I had used it before to put streaks in my hair and never had any problem. I was excited to use it and couldn't wait to bleach my hair. My hair was clean, dry, undamaged, and dark brown with dark red and dark pink that almost blended. As per the instructions to leave it in for an hour with dark hair, I mixed and applied the bleach carefully. After ten minutes, I noticed something was wrong; my hair looked strange. I waited five more minutes and decided to rinse it early. I'm glad I did. My hair came out a weird yellow-blonde and was completely burned. I used the shampoo and conditioner it gave in the hopes that it would help repair some of the damage. Did it? NO.

It wasn't until later that I read online other horrible experiences and cautionary tales. Apparently this brand is notorious for killing your hair. Now my hair is dry and brittle, except when wet. When wet, it's thin and stringy and springy like elastic, though it snaps off just as easily. It will take a long time for it to grow out so that I can cut off the damaged hair. Needless to say, I'm pretty pissed and I'd sue if I could.

[Conclusion] Splat Bleach Kit is great for those who always wanted dead, brittle hair. For those who actually like having hair, steer clear.

[Rating] ½ a star - it did make my hair a form of blonde and got rid of the brown. That's the only props.

Monday, June 17, 2013

More Fans Monday: Sirenia and UnSun

It's More Fans Monday! This means I get to show you a couple of bands that I enjoy that deserve more fans and more fame than they have.

This Monday, we'll be starting with Sirenia.

Sirenia is a metal band from Norway that started out in 2001. They're not widely known and they've seen numerous changes in band members (though not as much as The Crüxshadows, am I right? *nudge nudge*). Sirenia deserves more credit than they get for their brilliant mixing of gothic metal and symphonic metal (not to mention Ailyn's fantastic vocals and Morten Veland's catchy lyrics).

I remember discovering them back in 2009. I was sifting through YouTube for songs and bands that I hadn't yet heard of and stumbled on their video for "Path to Decay".  I was instantly hooked. Not only did the artsy goth visuals capture my attention, but Ailyn with her darkly beautiful costumes and her melodic singing had me mesmerized. When paired with the gritty, heavy music - they had a fan.

Props to them for still going strong after 12 years.


Next, let's talk about UnSun

They are a Polish group that started under the name of Unseen (2006) and formed around the guitarist, Mauser (Maurycy Stefanowicz) as a bit of a pet project. But fate had something else in mind. From the start, Mauser and the chosen vocalist, Aya (Anna Stefanowicz), had a dynamic bond. From their first rehearsal, they knew it was destiny - and the music they created together was otherworldly and beautiful. Soon, the band became a way for Mauser to explore new music and break new ground.

And break new ground they did. A perfect yin and yang, a merging of light and dark, their melodies, lyrics, and visuals are alarmingly breathtaking.

This band is one of my longest running favorites - discovered in 2008 through another late night internet session, UnSun blew my mind. It was the first time I'd heard music that actually gave me chills. I listened to their latest release, "Whispers", over and over that night and all throughout the month. It was a crisp, gray October and it couldn't have been more perfect. Now nearly five years later, I still listen to this song on gray days - my perfect, magical days.

One listen to them and you'll see why this band deserves more fans.

Happy "More Fans Monday!" Remember - it's never too late to poke around and discover the joy of new music!

The many member changes of The Crüxshadows.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Season of the Witch by Donovan (1966)

Many of you have heard this song in some form or another from various sources - "Dark Shadows", "ParaNorman", and so on. But did you know it is considered one of the first psychedelic songs to be written? Pretty awesome, right?

Another fun fact: the first version released wasn't by it's writer, Donovan, but by another band called The Pandamonium. Donovan's version (of his song) wasn't released until an entire year later in 1967. Bummer.

This song takes you to a simpler time, a time without social media or texting or loud rap. At the risk of a cliche, it evokes the feeling of a crisp, bleak October morning near Halloween when the possibilities seem infinite and the anticipation is maddening. Perhaps this is why it is in so many Halloween movies? Or perhaps it's for the simple reason of the word "witch".

Donovan himself wrote about the song, "Spooky, but true. I was the first pot-bust in London, followed by The Stones and The Beatles. I wrote this song before the bust. Prophecy again. How dare I be so cool? It's a magic track. And the sorceress, she is dancing her kali dance into the numina!"

If you haven't checked it out, I seriously consider it. This is one iconic song that you will instantly love, download, and stick on repeat.

Personally? One of my favorites. I give this ✮!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Welcome! We're Back!

We're back by popular demand and better than ever! Welcome to the Ninja Fish music blog. Here you will learn cool facts about bands and singers, see behind-the-scenes of music videos, find concert and tour schedules, discover local bands, and broaden your music library.

So sit down, relax, and put your headphones on!

Coming Soon...