Album Review—Green 15: The Jib Machine Records 15th Anniversary Compilation

by Ben Arzate

Jib Machine is an Ohio-based record company with a wide variety of artists from different genres. Established in 2004, this compilation celebrates their 15th year by collecting thirty different tracks from thirty different acts.

I had decided when I received this album to go in blind and I was surprised at how eclectic the artists were. From the first song, and the DIY look of the album, I thought it would be all punk. While that’s certainly a part of the album, it’s not the only one.

I want to first give attention to “Dragon Eye Girl” by Slammin Gladys, as I also received a copy of their single for this song. This song as well as the other two on the single are funk-infused hair metal that take me back to the kind of things that other kids’ young parents would listen to when I was over at their houses.

It’s no surprise that the band was first formed in 1989. While I’m not exactly nostalgic for that sound, I did enjoy this. Between the title song and “Hangin’ on to You,” the single shows them as excellent musicians with a great singer. The live version of “Color Me Gone” also shows they can get pretty wild when they play live. If you like the kind of metal Bill and Ted would listen to, the single is definitely worth picking up.

The other songs on the album vary, but they mostly fall under the umbrella of rock. The album opens with “Harley Girl,” a fast-paced punk song. I can’t say that it pulled me into it, this type of punk music isn’t my cup of tea, but I can certainly see fans of the genre enjoying it.

There is, however, plenty here that’s more to my taste. For example, “Cold” by Eli Fletcher is a country rock song with the kind of desperation that I like hearing in my country music. “Minister Sinister” by Pontius Pilot is a dark and brooding country song with excellent atmosphere. There’s also “Evel Kienevel and God” by Smf, a lo-fi folk song reminiscent of Daniel Johnston. My favorite song on the album is probably “The Major Fall of Minor Men” by The War Toys. This is an excellent folk song with poetic lyrics that has made me very interested in seeking out more from them.

Even as eclectic as this, there are songs that really stick out. “Old Skool X” by The Penfield Experience is a techno song straight out of the mid-90s and an enjoyable one if you have affinity for that type of music. There’s also “O Holy Night” by Philomena Gales. Yes, the Christmas standard. While Gales has a lovely voice, there’s nothing unique or interesting about her rendition of the song. This one stands out in a particularly bad way as it sounds so incredibly bland. It’s easily the worst on the album.

With 30 tracks on this album from many different genres, it’s guaranteed most who listen to it will find something to like. It works more like a sampler, as Jib Machine puts out too wide a variety of music to really pigeon-hole them as any particular kind of label, but it’s one worth picking up if you’re looking for new music. There are a few groups on here that I know I’m very interested in hearing more from.

Xiu Xiu’s Girl with Basket of Fruit, a Review

Few albums will hurt you this bad.

After the release of Daughter’s masterpiece, You Won’t Get What You Want, which stole the album of the year slot for “The 20 Best Albums of 2018” on this site, it would be reasonable to suspect that the world of experimental and dark music might take a while to muster something to contend with the last leviathan. Truly devastatingly dark albums, after all, don’t come around too often–at least if we consider only the few that are undeniably great. Albums like Sunn o)))’s Black One, Scott Walker’s Bish Bosch, and, yes, Daughter’s You Won’t Get What You Want, are rare treats for treasuring, and often must satisfy us for long dry stretches. I was expected quite a wait. I was wrong.

Enter Xiu Xiu, Jamie Stewart’s experimental band birthed way back in 2002.

Some people said that listening to You Won’t Get What You Want was a fright. I can concede that there were some hair-raising moments, such as Alexis Marshall’s convincing “let me in!” on the track “Guest House,” but something reaches up to stop me before I can call the album truly “frightening.” Bish Bosch is frightening. “Shaking Hell” from Sonic Youth’s Confusion is Sex is frightening. Allan Pettersson’s sixth symphony is frightening. You Won’t Get What You Want is dense, emotional, and harrowingly gorgeous, but it isn’t frightening.

Xiu Xiu’s 2019 release, Girl with Basket of Fruit, is fucking frightening.

Every track on this album (minus only the last one, “Normal Love,”) leaves splatter patterns sure to perplex even the keenest of forensic investigators. Xiu Xiu pushes the increasingly popular glitched-and-grimed aesthetic well past ten without sounding like Death Grips, and that alone would something to celebrate were this album not a moving experience in its own right. Girl with Basket of Fruit reaches in with both arms up to the elbows and walks away dripping, leaving you behind to writhe with your wounds in the dirt.

While, in retrospect, one can impose a sort of narrative leading up to this moment in Xiu Xiu’s career based on their previous albums–particularly in considering 2014’s Angel Guts–there really is nothing in 2017’s Forget that could’ve prepared you for this. In short, if you’re familiar with the glitchy pop Xiu Xiu of the past, beware. You’re in for something closer to a Swans album than a pop album with Girl with Basket of Fruit, and dark music fanatics certainly couldn’t be happier with the new direction.

While all the tracks are pummeling, disorienting, surreal, and deeply unsettling, “Mary Turner Mary Turner” manages to stand out as an experience sure to become a benchmark in dark music, much like “SDSS1416=13B (Zercon, a Flagpole Sitter)” from Scott Walker’s Bish Bosch. It retells the story of Mary Turner, a black woman lynched in Lowndes County, Georgia for protesting the lynching of her own husband. Stewart’s wild, drunken, and distorted spoken-word reenactment of this harrowing bit of history blasts fearsomely over wild percussion and groaning industrial bass drones sure to shock even seasoned weird music fans.

“Mary Turner Mary Turner” is striking example of dramatized atrocity. It’s a lynching-gone-horror-film, and it won’t sit comfortably with most listeners. Luckily, it isn’t supposed to. While on one hand, given the excessively melodramatic presentation, this track may come across as somewhat calloused and tasteless, it is the closest you can come to witnessing something so horrible yourself. History is a Wikipedia article, a bookmark that serves to coldly remind us of what’s already transpired. “Mary Turner Mary Turner” lends flesh and blood to the event, reanimating it in a way that places listeners squarely before the sheer evil in their own heritage. Yes, that may sound a bit Hawthornian, but it’s rare and worth celebration indeed when music can enact such a towering psychic image.

Of course, not everything on Girl with Basket of Fruit is as strong as “Mary Turner Mary Turner,” (which would be thoroughly impossible) but the album is certainly a must-have for anyone who enjoys truly dark and forward-thinking music. Unless 2019 miraculously turns into a more musically fruitful year than 2018, this album is bound to stand at the forefront of the throng. Get this thing.

5/5 stars.

-Justin A. Burnett

Fizzy Beasts and Where to Find Them: A Review of Mark Mathews’ Upcoming Album

One of my favorite quotes is by singer and songwriter Macklemore. “It’s up to you to turn the pen into a machete and make sure that every beat that you meet gets killed.” I try to live by this line. It’s a perfect representation of what every author, filmmaker, singer, and songwriter strives for.

A remix of the old adage of the pen and the sword. How much more powerful is that line? To take the pen in your hand and not wait for it to become a sword but to create that sword and slay any obstacle in your way.

I recently had the opportunity to listen, for the first time might I add, to the music of Mark Mathews. Fizzy Beasts, to be precise. I pressed play and needed to write this review. I love music, though I tend to get most of my tracks from the radio, rarely seeking new and unique music, unless the radio tells me I should.

Yep, I’m a bit of a drone in that regard, don’t judge me. When I was younger, I would attend local concerts, picking up a few bands I still look for today, though the ones I really enjoyed are all but dead, having never caught that big break. Maybe they just needed a good review? 

Anyway, back to the point: Mark Mathews. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first clicked play. As soon as those notes hit my ears, I fell in love. The sultry voice and soft tempo forced me to listen through to the end of the set.

I am, in fact, listening to it again, for the second time. The first track just started over and I had already forgotten how much I enjoyed it. He takes his pen and turns it into his machete, slaying the notes, creating sweet rhythm and harmony, and forcing your brain into a submission which begs for you to press play again as soon as it’s over.

I am a big fan of lyrics. One of the highlights of his music is the lyrics. They aren’t hidden by synthesizers or auto tuners, he blasts them from his vocal canal with the ferocity of a loving mother dragon, spewing them forth to your ear canals as his guitar, drum, piano, and other instruments aid their arrival.

Mathews sings of love, mostly, the love of a woman with raven hair who lives down under. In one song, The Flowers Still Grow, he throws in the sounds of the city, bikes and bike horns, the click of the gears as the wheels spin. I have to say, I love the image it gives me. For a second I thought that maybe I had a music video in the background and almost went to watch what was happening.

This is the type of music I imagine listening to while…well, writing. Like I am right now. Or sitting in a Barnes and Noble listening while browsing some random novel. I can take a step out of what I’m doing to relax with the music and then immediately pick back up where I left off without missing a beat. A sweet, sweet beat. Delivered by Mark.

He is described as “the hardest working solo artist in the UK right now” That’s cool, good on him, but who really cares? I, for one, don’t other than to commend him for being hard working, but you can be a hard working stable hand and simply have a pile of cow manure at the end of the day. Gratefully, that isn’t what you end up with at the end of Mark Mathews music. 

You end with an enjoyable listening experience. And I have ended up being a new fan. I plan on listening to more of his music in the future. You should check it out if you’re into mellow tones and smooth voices. Fizzy Beasts is available April 5th. 


Adventures in Modern Recording by the Buggles: An Underrated Gem

by Ben Arzate

The Buggles are the quintessential “one hit wonder” band, to the point that they’re less recognized by their name and more by “the guys that did ‘Video Killed the Radio Star.’” Their biggest claim to fame is that their music video was the first one to air on MTV.

However, they couldn’t parlay this into further success for the other singles from their debut album, The Age of Plastic, despite being a masterpiece work of new wave. The likely reason for this is that the album occupied an odd middle ground. It was too weird for mainstream success but not weird enough to gain a cult following like their contemporaries, Devo.

Further contributing to their lack of success, not long after their first album the two members, singer Trevor Horn and keyboardist Geoffrey Downes, took a break from recording their second album to join the progressive rock band Yes.

Both were long time fans of the band, but it was a strange transition. Fans of Yes thought so, too. The reception was very mixed to the point that Yes broke up after the album Drama and the subsequent tour with Horn and Downes.

Further difficulties for the second Buggles album arose when Downes left before recording began to form the band Asia, though he still did some work on the album. Because of this, Adventures in Modern Recording is closer to a Trevor Horn solo album than a proper Buggles record. Despite all of this, it remains an album excellent enough that it’s a crime that it’s been so forgotten.

As the title suggests, the first album The Age of Plastic had a loose concept about the anxieties of modern life and technology. Adventures in Modern Recording focuses on experimenting with then-new recording techniques and technologies, and includes pastiches of older genres with these recent technologies. While most of the tracks sound solidly 80’s, the top notch songwriting keeps them from sounding dated or like producer noodling.

The album opens with the title track. The lyrics are a satire of the music industry and the increasing image-centric direction it was heading. “So carefully directed / For modern mass appeal / Look just like a poster / Got yourself a deal.” It sounds like a pastiche of a teen idol song filtered through thick layers of new wave production and sets the tone for the rest of the album.

Beatnik” is another pastiche with humorous lyrics, sounding like a synthed-up rockabilly song and telling the story of a trendy wannabe rebel. “A shark tooth fin and a Chevrolet / A wild boy takes it all the way / No more charlie it’s my throat / Send the bell-boy for my coat.” This was the last single from the album and from the band itself, giving us lines like “All will be revealed before the next move” and “No more espresso” meanings that Horn likely didn’t originally intend.

Vermillion Sands” is a slower track with surreal lyrics like “My heart is an alligator / Better watch your step / This heat is an incubator / Make a diamond sweat – want to bet.” The title and chorus are a reference to the JG Ballard book by the same name, Vermillion Sands being a fictional resort.

Ballard was an inspiration for several Buggles song, including “Video Killed the Radio Star,” but this song is the most direct reference to his work. The track digresses into synthesized jazz sounds, helping to invoke the feelings of a futuristic luxury resort. I wouldn’t be surprised if several vaporwave artists have plundered this song.

I Am a Camera” was the first single off the song, and it’s easy to see why. It’s the best song on the album and one of my favorites of all time. It’s a simple love song that was originally recorded as a Yes track under the title “Into the Lens.”

While the Yes track was ten minutes long with several digressions and solos, typical of progressive rock, “I Am a Camera” is much tighter at only about five minutes on the album and the music fits the lyrics better.

Downes played keyboards here and the production by Horn is beautiful. While it’s easy to see why it failed to become a hit, it doesn’t really have any hooks, I believe it’s the best song The Buggles released.

On TV” is like a leftover song from Living in the Plastic Age, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s a catchy song mocking TV culture. It’s composed to sound like a commercial jingle with simple lines like “Ecstasy for you and me / Here at home on your TV.” It’s a fun song, though probably the least creative production wise, even if that was obviously intentional.

Inner City” is the second-best song on the album. It’s a song about middle-class angst, going to work to chase a fortune that will likely never come. “But tear the fabric off your nest / You’ll find the eggs have gone / And no one mentions / How you run.” I’m surprised this one wasn’t issued as a single as it probably has some of the best hooks on the album.

Lenny” is an upbeat synth pop song which seems to be about Galileo. “When you say that the sun does not move / Did it show you the answer.” Strangely, this was probably the most successful song on the album, becoming a top ten hit in the Netherlands. It’s a very catchy piece of nerd pop.

Rainbow Warrior” is where Horn’s influence from Yes really shows. It’s a progressive rock song with mystical lyrics. “Son of logic / Boy born of light / Is the picture drawn/ Is the harvest one.” It’s a fantastic way to wrap up the album, minus a short reprise of “Adventures in Modern Recording.”

With the commercial failure of the album and Downes leaving the band, it’s no wonder that Horn decided to end the Buggles project to focus on doing production work. It’s also no wonder why he was so successful at it. Adventures in Modern Recording really shows Horn’s ability to write and produce in a wide variety of genres. The songs are excellently crafted, they’re fun and catchy even when the subject matter is esoteric, and the production sounds great even today.

As of writing this, the album is out of print and not available on streaming services, at least in the United States. It really is a shame that this is the case. Adventures in Modern Recording really is an underrated gem from a criminally underrated band.

Bandcampology, Episode One: Khonnar & Impressions of the Morning Star

Welcome to Bandcampology! I’m your Bandcampologist, Justin.

This segment is intended to celebrate the delightfully weird, undeniably wonderful, and tragically underappreciated music platform, Bandcamp. In a world where music streaming services tend towards interchangeability due to the fact that any cool, new feature immediately gets implemented across board by all the major companies, Bandcamp is a welcome burst of colorful individuality–it’s free to use, with limited streaming designed to encourage the listener to an album purchase (don’t worry, many “album purchases” let you name your own price, and others are much cheaper on Bandcamp than on traditional distribution sites).

It’s also an open platform, where musicians and small record companies can bypass the typical domination of the music industry by the supermassive labels which, until now, have iron-fistedly ruled the music world. That means that a lot of music on Bandcamp is magnificently bold, experimental, and strange. Even better, these features also subvert another standard of typical streaming services–Bandcamp facilitates the PAYMENT of the ARTIST directly, and in much higher rates (thanks to their emphasis on album purchases) than the paltry percentages streaming monsters get away with.

In short, when I say “celebrate,” I really mean CELEBRATE, since there’s much to celebrate at Bandcamp. In the spirit of celebration, then, this segment will document my journey through the Bandcamp world with album reviews encompassing multiple genres, the scoop on badass discounts, and more!

If you haven’t already, go to Bandcamp and create a profile. It’s entirely free, and you’ll need one in order to follow our excursions here on Bandcampology.

The Rating System

  • Merchworthy (*****)–The highest of honors. This means that, not only do I think you should unhesitatingly buy the digital album, but you should grab a shirt, CD, or vinyl copy as well. In short, this album is one of my favorites on Bandcamp.
  • Buy it! (****)–this means, obviously, that the album deserves an unhesitating purchase, but doesn’t quite justify the lavish honor of a merch purchase, at least by my standards. This is the second-highest honor an album can receive.
  • Stream it and buy it cheap (***)–This means give it a listen, if you want, and if the price is right, I would probably bag a digital purchase. These albums range from “okay” to “worth a spin.” It’s not necessarily bad or unenjoyable, it just isn’t essential.
  • Stream it (**)–This means I’d give it a listen, but I wouldn’t go as far as to spend money on it. I’m a pretty voracious album purchaser, so if I wouldn’t purchase it, it’s not good. However, some albums are worth listening to, if only to experience how amusingly bad they are.
  • Ignore it (*)–It’s total shit. Leave it alone.


Khonnar by Deena Abdelwahed
Released: Nov 16, 2018
Genre: experimental electronic

Let’s begin with a bang. Tunisian producer Deena Abdelwahed took me by storm with her dark, moody, and chilling electronic offering, Khonnar. The Bandcamp album description says Khonnar “evokes the dark, shameful and disturbing side of things,” and I emphatically agree that this album leaves you feeling a little nasty–just check out the twisted chord progression that launches the track “Ababab.” You won’t be getting that insidious little lick out of your head for a while. You’re welcome.

I’ve never heard an Eastern album so laden with folk influences sound this contemporary before. Muslimgauze might be my primary reference point here, and although Bryn Jones (a Brit) might infuse his electronic music with heavy folk influences (not African, but Israeli-Palestinian), it never sounded this serious, or anywhere near this disturbing. Abdelwahed is destined to move some heads in the electronic music sphere, even given how the genre seems to be peaking in innovation and originality. Strangely, Khonnar remains consistently danceable while retaining a sonic depth that lends the album a deeply introspective character. If you’re dancing to this, you’re dancing somewhere in an unlit, Doom-esque dungeon of your own subconscious fears.

Khonnar is definitely one of the greatest dark albums I’ve stumbled across in 2018. That’s certainly saying something, since there’s been no shortage of incredible music this year. At 9 Euros for a digital copy (12 for a CD), this thing certainly isn’t cheap for Bandcamp, and it’s worth every penny. If you like dark electronic music with a seriously experimental bent, get this immediately.

Rating: Merchworthy (*****)

Impressions of the Morning Star by Entropy Created Consciousness
Released: Februrary 1, 2018
Genre: black metal, sludge metal, atmospheric black metal, experimental black metal

I came to this one-man-wonder late this year, but I’m glad I finally made it. Impressions of the Morning Star is a solid effort in the ever-changing forefront of experimental black metal. Released by Spain’s DIY label, Throne Records, this album definitely caught my ear as a unique voice in a genre that all too frequently tends towards anonymous uniformity. Although there are certainly more groundbreaking heavy-hitters in the field (Imperial Triumphant, Slugdge, and A Forest of Stars come immediately to mind), Entropy Created Consciousness admirably keeps closer to its atmospheric black metal roots than most of 2018’s black metal genre-benders. The Agalloch influence is strikingly prominent (although ECC’s pacing isn’t uniformly slow here), and I’d argue that Impressions of the Morning Star is a more interesting and diverse listen than most of Agalloch’s albums are (admittedly, however, I’m not a huge Agalloch fan).

The diversity here is laudable, and the passages are generally beautiful and moving. My main complaint is that Impressions of the Morning Star doesn’t transition between passages as seamlessly as it should. This still feels like an early effort of a potentially great musician (which I’m certain is the case) who hasn’t quite figured everything out yet. In this this way, it reminds me of Enslaved’s album Frost, although nothing here is quite as sloppy as Frost at its worst. It’s still an enjoyable album, and definitely worth a purchase for experimental metal fans, especially since you can name your own price. I’m keeping my eye on this one; after all, we all know how amazing Enslaved became.

Rating: Stream it and buy it cheap (***)


Ars Magna Umbrae by Lunar Ascension
Releases: Janurary 25, 2019
Label: I, Voidhanger
Genre: black metal, experimental black metal
Preorder price: 7 EUR or more

That’s it for now! Please let me know in the comments below what albums, news, or sales I should cover next time on Bandcampology. Look for part three of our “Darkest Albums Ever Recorded” list, as well as our “Top Twenty Albums of 2018” soon.

-Justin A. Burnett