DIRTY RADIO: CassetteTrickery Records, 35 minutes Rating: 4.5/5
When my press copy of Dirty Radio’s Cassette
, a literal cassette tape, arrived in the mail I had no idea what to do with it. I don’t have a car or a boom box or a Walkman. I stared at it for a while, imagining the music contained within. Thankfully, it’s also available as a free download
Cassettes are a useless novelty. Dirty Radio’s music is more practical: it will make you want to dance or get it on, no more or less. Singer Farshad Edalat has a fantastic voice, a croon without the crutch of autotune and he carries the mixtape’s 35 minutes with ease. The music backing him has a metronomic simplicity; “Forever Alone” hardly strays from a pulsing beat and a few simple guitar chords, and it hardly matters. Cassette
is what you wish radio sounded like. There are snatches of rap (“Melody”), funk (“Killin Me”) and new wave (“No Good for You”), all done effortlessly. Contrary to its format, Cassette
isn’t stuck in the past and tracks inspired by modern pop radio (“Holiday”) sit comfortably alongside others in debt to your parent’s record collection.
THOUGHT BENEATH FILM: Detours EPSelf-released, 16 minutes
Thought Beneath Film’s debut EP Detours
comes with some serious radio-rock pedigree, engineered and mastered by Tom Lord-Alge and Bob Ludwig, respectively, guys who’ve worked with Weezer, Coldplay, Blink 182, Green Day, Nirvana and Foo Fighters.
proves, ultimately, is that mediocre rock music cannot be saved by studio wizardry. These are energetic but painfully ordinary tunes; the refrain on “False Skin” goes “I’m tired of over-thinking” and I wanted to yell at it: “You’ve got nothing to worry about!”
The simple melodies and “bop-shoo-bop” vocal fills would have worked much better as pop bait than rock crossover; “Maybe I’m a Chump” and “Sixty-Six” are catchy enough. But after being worked over by two guys who made a living selling teenage angst to the widest possible audience, too much of that potential charm is lost. DAVID LYNCH / ALAN SPLET: Eraserhead (Reissue) Sacred Bones, 44 minutesRating: 4/5
Ambient noise is said to cause discomfort and anxiety in humans. David Lynch and Alan Splet may have known this when they created the iconic soundtrack to the former’s 1977 debut Eraserhead
, but what’s remarkable about the album is how unobtrusive it is. Every sound seems to come from a distance; hissing steam, machinery, gentle organ music sourced from Fats Waller. Unsettling, and at the same time capable of inducing deep sleep.
Like the semi-obscure original CD release, the Eraserhead
soundtrack literally lifts 40 or so minutes of the film’s sound (with a few extras) dialogue and all. If you haven’t seen the film, you may be at a loss but even so, the sound has taken on its own life. A central song by Peter Ivers, “In Heaven,” has been covered by a roster of alternative and indie rock acts, and the suffocating texture of Lynch and Splet’s DIY work (imagine sticking a microphone inside an air duct) has influenced a generation of sound designers.
This is a niche release perhaps, and like its source material sure to create as much confusion as admiration. But for those whose sense of hearing becomes heightened in the midnight hour ... it’s oddly essential. Available in limited release - order here.