Archive for February, 2014

A Little Bit Country…

Posted: February 15, 2014 by Juan D. in Record Nerds
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If 20 years ago you had told me that today I’d be listening to other genres of music besides hardcore, punk, and metal, I would’ve scoffed at the mere though of it. If one of those genres was country music, I would’ve called myself a sellout and probably kicked my own ass. It’s a given that as time passes, most music fans find other styles of music to get into and appreciate and enjoy. If you’re as hardcore as I am (pun intended), then you don’t care and have no shame whatsoever in exploring all of the music that is out there regardless of what it may be. It’s the mentality of being open-minded and accepting that I learnt from hardcore and punk music which has allowed me to delve into music from different scenes and sounds including country.

It’s by now no secret that I love Taylor Swift. She may have started as straight-up country pop but nowadays has veered more into pop sounds. A few months ago, a good friend of mine who happens to also be into music at the same obsessive level as I am, told me to check out Kacey Musgraves. He figured I’d dig her style of music. I did. And I am hooked. Although her album Same Trailer Different Park came out in March of last year, and has won numerous awards all across, I didn’t get around to getting the record itself til recently.

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Simple packaging. No insert. The record itself feel heavyweight so that was a nice surprise. More a major label release, it’s well-done.

Musgraves’ style of music is deeply-rooted in country but delves into some Americana, bluegrass, and even folk. Lyrically, she goes into some bitter topics such as infidelity, hypocrisy, and loss of individuality. She has a very sharp and venomous tongue. She could easily be in the genre of outlaw country music with the likes of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Emmylou Harris.

Spin magazine placed Same Trailer Different Park as the number one country album for 2013 and noted that Musgraves ”

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The covers are screenprinted and give it a very indie feel to it.
Along the way I also tracked down a promo copy of the LP with a CMA “For Your Consideration” sleeve. Or rather, wrap-around vellum sleeve. Much like the Taylor Swift RED red vinyl, this is also sent out to members of the voting entity for the CMAs.
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It is on black vinyl. So no real surprise or novelty there outside of the vellum sleeve.
Someone asked me to describe Musgraves’ music to them recently. I just plainly told them that to me, it feels like honky tonk punk. It may sound country, but it has a lot of punk attitude and feel. Hell, could also be called alt-country. But that’s going overboard now.

Have A Nice Life – The Unnatural World LP

Posted: February 1, 2014 by Juan D. in Record Nerds
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The whole mentality and terminology of “underground music” seems a bit played out and antiquated nowadays with all the so much access we have in the internet and websites and message boards and whatnot. But every so often though, a band or even music scene, will slip through the cracks and still be truly unknown except via word of mouth or some band reppin’ a shirt or boasting about some band on an interview. Thanks to my friendship with Aaron Turner, I came to find out about Connecticut’s  Have A Nice Life. He casually mentioned that he was a fan and has been listening to them a lot at the time. So I got curious. Checked them out and got hooked right from the get-go.

I’m not really in the mood tonight, drunken or even otherwise, to spill the background on this band. If you know who HANL are, then you know. If not, do a little digging and you will pleased at what you find. HANL are a band, properly a duo of musicians in Dan Barrett and Tim Macuga, who have been making music for some time now since meeting up in college. Their music straddles plenty of lines of post-whatever. But it’s lo-fi bedroom recordings that are still aggressive and thought-provoking and eye-opening. If you’ve heard their stuff, especially their 2008 debut LP Deathconsciousness, then you have not only been blown away, but also know. You know.

So here we are in 2014 and they have released a proper follow-up in The Unnatural World LP. A co-release between their own Enemies List Home Recordings label and The Flenser out of San Francisco, this new release finds the band treading some new ground production quality-wise but also retaining that same lo-fi style. It’s all haunting and heavy as fuck. Really.

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The reason the usually insular and removed ELHR decided to partner up with Flenser for the release was simple. A better access to distro and handling of the release. Not saying that ELHR was a mess with releases. Just overwhelmed given the popularity that HANL and all related artists and music came to  face as of years later and when you’re basically and one-man operation, you need some help. Flenser made sense in partnering up with.

The release of the new LP, The Unnatural World, went off not only without any hitch, but it’s also a fantastic LP itself. In the limited of 300 Clear with Ox Blood Haze color to the overall packaging, this thing is top-notch. Simple and elegant all around really.

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Honestly, I can’t say enough great things about this release. I have listened to it multiple times enough that it’s ingrained in my psyche. That’s not just the fanboy speaking saying that it’s great. It simply is great. It’s everything and anything that a post-metal record should. But it goes further beyond than what the trappings of that category may have. It’s a piece of art. On the music site I write for I did a review of the release (read here) and I have to admit that it was a pain in the ass to write. Mostly because I felt  that it’s such a great and perfect record in my jaded opinion and I wanted to do it justice. It was close to impossible to put into words how phenomenal The Unnatural World is.

As with most bands and music that we feel are close to the heart and want to keep to ourselves and not share with anyone else, Have A Nice Life are one of those band easily. I don’t want some joe-schmo hipster asshole catching wind of this band and their music. We all have those bands in our repertoire that we don’t to share with anyone else and keep them a secret. But with HANL, it’s going to be hard to hold on. They’re getting out there and being exposed. And it may be bittersweet, but they do deserve the recognition for creating great music and art. As much as my selfish heart will ache at knowing that.