Will Wood and the Tapeworms – Everything is a Lot (self-released, 2015)

via Will Wood.

There is a novelty embodied in the truly weird. Personally, there has always been this tendency to embrace and relish music that deviates from the mainstream, that will mostly certainly evoke disconcerted reactions from most people. This is why it is important to listen to all kinds of music, because each and every genre has its own quirks, motives, and characteristics that make it truly lovable. So when I received contact from Will Wood to review his debut LP Everything is a Lot, it seemed very happenstance. Wood has a piano-rock, honky-tonk bar crawl feel that tethers somewhere between the genuine yet sarcastic songwriting of Randy Newman, and the kooky yet honest sound of Tom Waits. As a debut record, Everything is a Lot, is a lot to take in, but like anything else, absolutely worth it.

For starters, this record is absolutely insane. It’s a bipolar mix of crazy carousel antics and dark, sobering piano pop. At times Everything is a Lot has a snarky tone, reminiscent of My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade. Among this dark, circus-esque ride, there are some gorgeous indie pop melodies that recall the sound of Jon Brion. “Lysergide Daydream” is one standout that tackles dreams and getaways: “Ooh, I wanna be in a place I can call a place to get away from it all.” Wood also confronts the darkness underneath living, on “Jimmy Mushrooms’ Last Drink”. He best summarizes his life journey and remaining time in a succinct and affecting manner: “I might keep looking for nothing to find”. The title track is an incredible album closer, bringing to mind Randy Newman’s “Sail Away”, Jon Brion’s “Get What It’s About”, and Tom Waits’ “Lost in the Harbor”. Everything is a Lot is, most certainly, an impressive debut. It will undoubtedly turn some away, but if you are one of the lucky, patient listeners, you’ll be much the warmer, and the wiser. 

Key Tracks: “Skeleton Appreciation Day in Vestal, NY (Bones)”, “Thermodynamic Lawyer, esq, G.F.D”, “Lysergide Daydream”, “Jimmy Mushrooms’ Last Drink: Bedtime in Wayne, NJ”, “everything is a lot.”

Where to Go from Here: Shayfer James – Counterfeit Arcade, The Dresden Dolls – The Dresden Dolls, Randy Newman – Sail Away

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All Sensory Void – Secret Truth of the Universe (Sniffling Indie Kids, 2015)

via ▶ All Sensory Void.

Every Thursday, I’ll be reviewing one local artist/release that I believe deserves recognition. This week: All Sensory Void – Secret Truth of the Universe

Eric Goldberg has had quite a history with the NJ/NY music scene. From his days in the 90s-tinged “last wave rock” band The Nico Blues, to his current indie rock experiment All Sensory Void, Goldberg delves into different sonic explorations, whether straight-ahead or ambient. His latest effort, Secret Truth of the Universe, is no exception, and shows just how far Goldberg burrows into a universe of exquisite sound.

Secret Truth of the Universe feels more expansive than previous All Sensory Void releases. Goldberg has this knack for writing songs that are simultaneously accessible and obscure. The record often teeters between these two extremes, with standout dance-floor number “Feeling for You” hovering at one end, and the title track floating at the other. There’s a range of sounds and feelings here, from upbeat and poppy, to dismal and foggy. “New Year” is an especially spacey number, drenched in a plethora of ambiance, be it chorus and/or reverb. Much like the photograph in the album cover, this music feels like it’s from a distant time. Some of that can be attributed to the 90’s influence I hear in Goldberg’s music, and some of it is the effect-ridden fog that drenches these eight tracks. Either way, it’s a testament to the meaning an album can have as time captured in sound.

Favorite Tracks: “Feeling for You”, “A Day in a Daydream”, “New Year”, “Within You, I’m Without”

Where to Go from Here: Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lenses Alien, Beat Radio – Safe Inside the Sound, …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead – Madonna