Runa – Sad Eyes
Mustard had the pleasure of speaking last month with RUNA. When Mustard asked about “Sad Eyes” RUNA put it simply: listeners can expect revenge. RUNA does not hold back on this 70s inspired tune. The instrumentation on “Sad Eyes” is twisted, methodical, and haunting. To further elevate the haunting instrumentation are RUNA’s vocals who may as well be hypnotizing your human ears. Mustard recommends that you do not mess with RUNA as this song should be your guide to tread lightly.
Tess Becket – Toxic
Esteemed audio engineer Tes Becket released their debut single “Toxic” last month. In an interview with Mustard Becket proclaimed that this single explores what it means to be toxic. Beckett, who has over a hundred unreleased songs, chose an incredible song to debut with. Mustard has observed humans display toxic nature. While the subject matter is dark Becket’s “Toxic” will please your human ears. In fact, it may even inspire you to reflect and observe possible toxic situations or humans around you.
Ok Koala – All Of It, All At Once
Review by Mr. Substitute
Years of being involved in education has taught me that there are different “types” of learners such as visual learners (those who learn best by seeing) or auditory learners, and these are just to name a couple, there are many more. Music, though, is auditory–right? Yes. But in producing an album, the task of creating an album cover is always a daunting one because you want something that gives the potential listener some idea of what they’re getting into. Enter OK Koala’s latest album “All Of It, All At Once.” The album cover shows a wooden artist’s mannequin curled into a blood-red corner as imaginary storm clouds plague this tortured mannequin with “All Of It, All At Once” scrawled across the wall in cursive. Immediately I knew what I was getting into with this pop-punk/alternative rock album and my expectations were absolutely met, which made me really appreciate the cover art for this album.
Coming from Nashville, OK Koala have a solid array of sounds that they can pick and choose from that range from indie rock to very touching lyrical ballads, all centering on the singer, Logan Flanagan’s inner thoughts, musings and even insecurities. One thing this album does that I always appreciate is that it has both easy-listening qualities (meaning you can have it on in the background and it keeps a wonderful pace) and very deep lyrics that can really get the listener almost lost in the mind of the singer. Again, after seeing the album cover, all I could think about when listening to this very touching and emotionally raw album was that poor mannequin, and again, I’m thinking just how effective that is (take a bow, Andrian Krovopuskov).
Another stand-out for this album for me is Logan’s voice, one I would describe as “honest.” There are times where their emotion is heard very clearly through the speakers, specifically when they sing the final track “sunrise, somewhere.” The first time I listened to the album I found my ears perking up with these little vocal treats, like the brief falsettos in “Are You Happy?” and the airy synth-backed vocals in “i want to die in space.” The lyrics (all done by Flanagan) are expository, elucidating, energetic at times, but always expressive, touching on themes of being “a godless queer” to wanting to be an activist but being stifled with social anxiety.
The idea of “All Of It, All At Once” is exactly what the title suggests: the summation, the building up, the crashing down, the good, the bad, the ugly, all of those horrible and beautiful emotions that are constantly whirling around us, bursting out in the form of this expressive rock sound. This album is a mannequin curled up in a corner while simultaneously being the freest bird in the sky. It is all of it, all at once.
Check out OK Koala on Twitter and Instagram as well as Bandcamp and Spotify.
Broken Baby – It’s Only Rock and Roll (But I Hate It)
A few weeks back Mustard had the pleasure of interviewing Broken Baby. Their sense of humor and no-holds-barred approach to life and their music is something that this condiment admires. On their newest track “It’s Only Rock and Roll (But I Hate It)” Broken Baby addresses how rock and roll feels more like dinner theatre now. If all humans are rockstars now then the excitement and thrill of being a rockstar loses its luster. And that isn’t very rock and roll. Humans need to become influencers, zoologists, or YouTubers instead of rockstars. This way the true rockstars such as Broken Baby can continue to cause havoc and help tip their DoorDash Driver 78%.
Broken Baby brings an unhinged chaos that is truly delightful to listen too. If you are ever in the Los Angeles area Mustard recommends you go check them out.
JOBIE – Grendal
If you have ever felt like an outsider JOBIE’s debut album “Grendal” will resonate with you. It is a deeply personal and vulnerable album. It is an album that Mustard’s human employee can relate too. The feelings expressed on this record and in this interview are how they felt (and sometimes still feel that way.) In our interview together JOBIE mentioned how she feels proud to be human when songwriting.
The lead single “bottom of the sea” is a break up song but helps set the mood for what listeners could expect on Grendel. Grendel is a piece of art that will allow you to truly reflect on your flaws and quirks. These flaws though are not a disadvantage nor should they be viewed as such. Being human, Mustard has observed, is incredibly tricky. How JOBIE articulates the human experience is worth listening too.
Balkanist Discourse – Last Dance
Review by Gimpleg
Balkanist discourse is the work of Hera Jackson, and while Last Dance features musical accompaniment by about a half dozen other artists on varying tracks, Hera does most of the work as a solo artist including absolutely stunning performances on the various string instruments.
Lyrically, most of this album is about a breakup, lost love, and a lot of self exploration into gender, identity, queerness and more, I feel like the best part of this album is the instrumentation. Beginning with the opening track, “Stagnant”, we find that their fingers are all but stagnant. The first half of the song is fast paced acoustic guitar and soulful lyrics, but then, halfway through the song the lyrics end and are replaced with layered electric guitar over the acoustic and the journey really begins to take off. The pace and movement here just really grabs the listener and prepares them for an audible journey they won’t forget.
The album then slips into a track called “Mandy” which begins with funk-inspired baselines and features some really fun disco guitar and matching vocals. This album is a lot of fun. The drums and percussion lead the way in the third track before the strings come in toying with various genres and the shifts, changes, and progressions really get the listener moving. I can’t even listen to the lyrics on this album, because the rhythms are telling me stories that feel far more inspiring.
The biggest highlight of this album is “They/ Them”, a fast paced funky track that takes me away every time I listen to it. Damn, the bass gets me, and synth, the vocals, dammit, I can’t stop moving. It takes me every time, and there is nothing I can do to resist it. If you have 3:11 and need to lift your spirits, hit play and start moving.
Devəmā’ker – Antonyms pt 2
Review by Gimpleg
This is the 2nd EP in a two part series for Indie folk artist Devəlmā’ker (pronounced Devil May Care). It’s an intimate and soulful, chill trip through the sadness and demons that haunt Doug McCarthy, who wrote and performed the entire album under the name of the band. While it only has 3 tracks, the EP still feels full. All three tracks fit well together both stylistically and thematically, allowing a glimpse into the life and soul of the protagonist.
The opening track, Nepenthes, by title alone, tells us where this album is heading. A calm and beautiful acoustic track and simple percussion rhythm paves the path for a confession about burying doubts, pain, and insecurities and seeks a savior, a solution. Every time the lyric repeats “save me now” it feels a little more personal, it feels sincere, almost desperate.
In the second track, titled simply “(two.)” , we have another simple acoustic melody, this time paired with soft electric guitar layers creating an appealing depth to the sound. Here the protagonist tells the listener that he wants to be there for their worst day, that they will never say goodbye. This feels like an acknowledgement of the universal struggles we all face and calls back to the protagonist’s struggles in the first track. The narrator was begging to be saved, but here the narrator is promising to be there to save someone else. It adds a symmetric beauty to the album.
The final track on this EP is the single for the album, in “Flagler Blues”. This song starts off with an ethereal and almost haunting pace, slow, and introspective. The drums come in with the vocals to change the feeling as we get a very personal song about using alcohol as a crutch, a remorseful song that feels incredibly personal. The rhythm and pacing throughout the song shift to keep the listener engaged and it feels like a desperate plea for help as he sings the chorus, “Fuck, I gotta slow it down, I hope I’m getting better”. This song is equally beautiful and powerful, especially with the drums controlling and shifting the pacing and rhythm to guide the viewer along the journey.
***In response to the subject matter of this album, I’d like to share the link and phone number to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration here in the United States. If you need help and have an addiction, please reach out to the services available to you***
Call: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Carter Rubin – Mess Me Up
As a condiment Mustard has not felt love. They are incapable of doing so. But listening to Carter Rubin’s “Mess Me Up” has motivated Mustard to reach out to the best human scientist’s so they can discover it. Falling in love, genuinely, for the first time is a big deal. That is made apparent in Carter Rubin’s newest single. Rubin’s “Mess Me Up” is the type of pop song that will get stuck in your human head for days on end.
Savanna Leigh – “Emotionally Invested”
Humans have to go through complicated and complex situations every day. One of those situations would be figuring out if you could still be friends with your ex. Savanna Leigh’s “emotionally invested” takes us through these trials and tribulations. Leigh’s star continues to rise and for good reason. Leigh’s brand of pop is relatable and fun to listen to while also making you reflect on your potential human experiences.
This song makes Mustard reflect on their relationship with Ketchup. Should they reach out? Or stay away?
Mustard looks forward to what else Savanna Leigh has in store as she creates engaging narratives through her music.
SERGIO – “Fix Me”
Love has a powerful hold over humans. Its power matches the strength of any Kaji in cinema. As mentioned in Mustard’s review of JOBIE’s “Grendel” humans are complex and complicated individuals. On “Fix Me” SERGIO provides listeners with a honest and vulnerable track.
SERGIO proclaims “I need to fix me to have you.” Recognizing your flaws and announcing them in this setting is a huge risk. But it is also commendable as not all humans are willing to work on themselves. To keep this relationship from falling apart SERGIO will do whatever he can.
“Fix Me” is a catchy and honest song about working on yourself. As difficult as that may be.
Dr. Martino – e4 in C Major
You can’t talk about the Connecticut music scene without mentioning Dr.Martino. Following the release of their album “No Outlet” Dr. Martino has returned with a fast-paced heavy track that will have you signing petitions. Martino shouts proudly in the chorus “it is time for you to resign!” But who do they want to resign? They leave that up to the listener to decide. Is it Connecticut’s Daniel Malloy? Is it another politician? Or a CEO of a massive corporation? Mustard wonders.
After a two year break it is wonderful to be treated to some new Dr. Martino. This song will be a sure-fire hit with live crowds. You can’t visit Connecticut without seeing Dr. Martino perform live. That is not state law but it may as well be.
The album art features some chess pieces. Mustard is curious what role that will play in future releases.
The Prizefighters – “Kick the Can”
Review by: Gimpleg
The Prizefighters released their first single for their album just before Earth Day, and the timing couldn’t be more clear. The single released with a lyric video to make sure you don’t miss the point. We only have one world, and we are destroying it, and you can’t go back and fix it once the damage is done. This is a call for immediate action.
Musically the song is great. It’s a trad ska/ reggae song with the appropriate downstream and excellent backing vocals. The simple rhythm and melody and structure allow you to understand and appreciate the lyrics about kicking the can down the road. Releasing it with a lyric video, to double down on the importance of the lyrics and message is brilliant. The symbolism of kicking a can- literal litter and garbage- as chosen the metaphor for running out of time is brilliant and the video behind the lyric video, features landfills, river pollution, glacial calving, and burning of trash, ensures that even if you don’t read the lyrics, you get the message.
People, there is only one Earth out, and I join The Prizefighters when I beg you to wake up and do something to save it
Devon Kay & the Solutions – “Kinda, Man”
Review by: Gimpleg
The Solutions (and, I guess Devon Kay as well) have done it again! For the second month in a row they released a ska song along with a video for their upcoming ska album on Bad Time Records, and once again, they showed exactly how well they are able to right great ska songs. Very much in the heavily punk influenced ska punk vein, this is another great song about depression and mental health struggles, kinda, man. The horns on this song are great, the music in general is stellar. The backing vocals and harmonies, in the general style of the Solutions, really accentuate the song and make you want to sing along from the first listen. The lyrics about not finding real joy, not following through, not having motivation, starting but never finishing, being your own self sabotage is all too relatable in a way that feels all too real. And I thought it was just me.