Category Archives: Music Reviews

Six Weeks of RCRDList – Screwups and Successes and More Screwups

On the first of the year I took over as curator of the RCRDList music discovery email list. It was created by my friend Zoe and she doesn’t have the time to maintain it because she’s in grad school. It’s presumably a temporary takeover, with me assuming she’ll want it back when school’s over, but we haven’t figured that out yet.

It was a bit of a rough start. I did well enough picking music, but there were a few bad links or mis-sized images here and there, but nothing terrible. It was obvious that I misunderestimated the phenomenal amount of work she put into it.

I also rewrote the MusicSrch search engine to fix a bunch of broken things and add some services that weren’t in yet but would be useful for RCRDList. That has been very helpful and has saved me a lot of time.

Then I got into a bit of a flow and managed to get a few days ahead fairly consistently. That’s how Zoe used to manage it — create a buffer big enough to absorb the fluctuations of day-to-day life. I think she was usually pretty far ahead, certainly more than two or three days.

Then life happened. My band Emergency Brunch played 3 live shows in January, with two in the same week. And my old band from 2004, Dr. Kilpatient, reunited for a brief show because the third member was in town. And, of course, those things require time and practice and hauling stuff all over the place, made even more complicated by riding public transit. Things became even more difficult as a wave of the winter blues overtook me and made me lazy/distracted/befuckited for a week or so.

Not only did I miss a day, I missed a few. And some weeklies. A whole group of very important people was left in the dark.

Zoe, I failed to feed your baby. More than once. I’m sorry. I will do better.

I also haven’t spent enough effort on descriptions and headlines. In the mad rush to get emails out, many of the descriptions were pretty uncreative. It was enough that RCRDList friend Trixie pointed that out on Twitter. Thank you for caring enough to say that, Trixie. You’re absolutely right.

I thought about asking for help. And I might at some point, especially for the genres that I find hard to listen to — country and folk. The trouble is that getting someone new up to speed on the selection and editing criteria would be a serious time investment on its own. RCRDList is far more detailed than “pick and random thing and email it”. But, even having help with just the selecting would make life easier. I listen to about 4 hours of music for every band that’s featured, and finding time for that is not always easy. The day job gives me some time to listen while I work most days, at least.

As I write this, I’m a day ahead and working on the next and I have enough time to finish Monday’s weekly. There are problems with the workflow that I need to solve, with the most obvious being that I have to enter every URL twice — once for the dailies and once again for the weeklies. I can copy and paste from the daily emails, but it’s still a manual process. The thing with computers is that you should only ever have to enter a piece of data once. Anything else is extra work. I have an idea that involves saving links from a MusicSrch search and using them to generate (at least partially) a daily email and save those links toward a weekly, but I’m sure I’ll need to do a significant template redesign and many hours of codemonkeying to make it work, but it will pay for itself in time savings if I do.

I’ve also done some work toward growing the list.

It’s the same amount of work whether an email going to 1500 people or 15,000. As it is, when a band finds out they’ve been featured it’s more of a morale boost than anything that really moves the needle for them. You can’t pay the rent by selling an extra 1-2 copies of an album. I’d love for it to make a meaningful difference for a band to be featured by RCRDList. Sometimes it does. With more than 1000 features by now, the odds are good that at least one musician who was ready to give up decided to keep going because they were on the list. I’d really like it to make a meaningful difference every time an email went out.

I used a Facebook ad to grow the following there a little. It wasn’t much, just enough to change the “seen by 3 people” post average to “seen by 5 people”. It’s still a tiny following — less than 100 people. It was enough to figure out how much it costs to grow the audience. 76 cents per like with a really basic ad. If I had a better ad it would be a little less, but that still means increasing the reach is no small (or cheap) task.

Twitter has also grown a little. I made it official policy to follow a featured band. Sometimes they follow back. It’s also useful for the “have we already featured them?” check, and it might also be neat to do a “where are they now” for featured bands in the future.

So far the thing that has made the biggest impact for the smallest expense is Project Wonderful. It’s an ad network that lets you target specific sites with specific bids. It doesn’t have that many music sites in the network since it’s geared more toward webcomics, but there are a few that have been really effective for growing the list. It’s grown by about 3% in the past month. That’s not amazing, but the ability to hypertarget ads means that each new subscriber costs less than 10 cents to add. I started by using a terrible ad that I made and then switched to a few nice ones made by a talented graphic designer in Venezuela. I always hate contributing to the race to the bottom in wages that a place like Fiverr causes, but the alternative would be my horrible programmer art, which probably has a greater long-term negative effect on the world.

Even though RCRDList includes some affiliate links, during its lifetime it has still made less in commissions than I’ve spent on ad experiments in the past six weeks. That’s OK. Money isn’t the point of this thing. It’d just be a nice side-effect if it took off. Even if it is a labor of love, nobody wants to work for free if they don’t have to.

I’ll never understand people who are bored. My problem is and always will be running out of day.


My friend Zoe, founder of the RCRDList music discovery email list, is currently in grad school. She’s handed off curation of the list to me while she’s busy with classes. I’ve been finding a lot of great music you should know about, so you should sign up.

It’s here:

Review: Suicide Commando – Mindstrip (2000)

I originally wrote this review for, which no longer exists.

Track List:

  1. Jesus Wept

  2. Hellraiser (Psychopath 01-Version)

  3. Body Count Proceed

  4. Raise Your God

  5. Mindstripper

  6. Run

  7. Comatose Delusion (Overdose Shot Two)

  8. Blood In Face

  9. Love Breeds Suicide

  10. Slaves

Sounds: 3.5 of 5

Vocals: 3 of 5

Composition: 3 of 5

Overall Rating: .633

My overall reaction to Johan Van Roy’s Belgian project was indifference.

The sample quality of Jesus Wept is fairly low. Yeah, industrial is supposed to sound dirty and noisy, but there’s a difference between noisy and low-quality. I like distorted vocals. Most industrial takes a few listens to really understand what the heck they’re saying. Suicide Commando may have taken it half a notch too far into the unintelligible range.

Hellraiser starts off with a great synth sound until it turns into techno. By this time I was beginning to think this was a techno or synthpop group that had picked up a distortion pedal at a pawn shop. I will say the actual sounds used in this song are quite cool and the vocal quality is a bit better than Jesus Wept.

The techno-esque extravaganza continued with Body Count Proceed. The drone synth sound made me feel like I was having a hole drilled in my skull. In a bad way. Even so, the beat was rather contagious and I couldn’t help but tap my appendages on the nearest solid surface. Since I was at work I had to keep it to a minimum. Can’t have the boss walking in while you’re tapping your bits on the monitor, you know. That’s more explaining that I’d care to do.

By the time I reached Raise Your God, something was starting to bug me about the whole Suicide Commando formula. Yet again it was an average song that didn’t particularly stand out for me. It wasn’t something I loved nor was it something I hated.

I can honestly sum up the rest of the disc fairly easily. Just like the first few songs. Nothing that stands out as overly good or bad though I would say that Comatose Delusion is the best song on the disc and Blood In Face came the closest to trying my patience. Although this is nothing but your run of the mill industrial, it is decent overall. Anything’s better than Paula Spears or Britney Abdul or whatever they’re calling that pseudo-musical genre now. Will I see them live if they come around? Yes. Will I tell all my friends to pick up this disc? No.

Suicide Commando sounds a remarkably large amount like Velvet Acid Christ, and if you like them you might as well pick this up. Overall the music isn’t terribly creative and more follows the EBM/industrial “formula”, obviously influenced by their tour with Velvet Acid Christ, though Suicide Commando doesn’t do it as well. Don’t get me wrong, I still like the stuff, but as filler rather than foreground.

Review: And One – Virgin Superstar (2000)

I originally wrote this review for, which no longer exists.

  1. Virgin Superstar

  2. Wasted

  3. You Don’t Love Me Anymore

  4. Goodbye Germany

  5. Wet Spot

  6. Panzermensch

  7. My Story

  8. Life To Lose

  9. Not The Only One

  10. Don’t Need The Drugs

  11. Mr. Jenka

Vocals: 4.5 of 5

Sounds: 3.0 of 5

Composition: 3.5 of 5

Overall: .733

And One is a fairly popular EBM group whose tunes are heard on goth/industrial club nights around the world. It’s not surprising, because it’s very difficult to listen to And One without some part of your body wanting to move around. Sure, being EBM some of their stuff is a little too techno for my liking, but they are quite good overall.

“Virgin Superstar” isn’t what I would call the strongest opener. Although the vocal harmony is great (which you’ll get used to on this disc), there’s not all that much to the music.

The song “Wasted” starts off the disc with a nice hard danceable beat. The line “Get out of my way because you know that I am totally wasted” is a classic and tends to stick in your head. Good for stumbling through a bar to.

“You Don’t Love Me Anymore” is a synthpoppy sort of tune that really fails to grab me. It’s put together well, but it just doesn’t stand out, sounding a little bland to me.

“Goodbye Germany” doesn’t stand out too much musically, and the vocals don’t do much until the chorus. All in all, this is a “take it or leave it” song, but the chorus does tend to stick in your head if you let it.

For this album, And One absorbed Annelie Bertilsson from Cat Rapes Dog and I’d bet that she was glad to get out of that pseudo-musical abomination (see our review of Trojan Whores). Listening to “Wet Spot”, It becomes obvious that Annelie has more musical talent than is deserved by Cat Rapes Dog. It starts off with an ambient feel and then the synthesizer line starts with an almost a James Bond “The World Is Not Enough” feel to it. Both vocalists sound great on this song and the man sitting behind the mixing console certainly earned his paycheck.

What can I say about the song “Panzermensch”? Well, I can say that the synth sounds are absolutely amazing and the vibe of the song is intense. It hits hard and is one of the most danceable songs I’ve ever heard (and if you’ve ever been to a club where most everyone knows this song, the dancefloor tends to go completely nuts). I’ve never been one to buy a disc based on hearing one song, but in this case I would make an exception. The lyrics are in German, but it’s my opinion that most good industrial lyrics are in German. There’s something about the language that just sounds more factory-fresh than the same phrases in English. It’s no wonder this song has become one of their hits.

“My Story” has a nice string line, but there’s not much to say about it. It’s not terribly interesting, nor terribly worth my time talking about. Too techno.

I love the crystal bell synth sound that opens “Life to Lose”, but it gives no indication what to expect for the song itself. Unfortunately it looks like very little effort went into the music, but the vocals almost make up for it.

“Not The Only One” is yet another song that has a more of the “James Bond” essence to it – in the string line at least. This song is much more synthpop than EBM, which seems to be the direction And One is moving in slowly but surely.

“Don’t Need The Drugs?” I love the song. It is a little on the Depeche Mode side, though, which isn’t my cup of tea. Even so, it is an excellent song with a great arrangement and sound all over the place.

And One does a very good job of filling up the sound palette. The vocal harmonies are very good, with Annelie blending so well with Steve Naghavi that in some places their voices might as well just be one.

If you like EBM, you’ll probably like And One, although this disc is a bit patchy with only a few of the songs qualifying as great (which seems to be an ongoing habit of And One). If you don’t like EBM and/or synthpop, it’d be a good idea to pass this disc by, because that’s exactly what this disc is.

And One is Steve Naghavi on vocals and “machines”, Rick Schah on keyboards, Annelie Bertilsson on vocals, and Joke Jay on drums. This disc was produced by Steve Naghavi and Christer Hermodsson.

And One’s website is at

Review: Cat Rapes Dog – Trojan Whores (1992)

I originally wrote this review for, which no longer exists.

  1. Trojan Whores

  2. Everything’s Gone Green (New Order cover)

  3. 909 Whores

Sounds: 3 of 5

Vocals: 1.5 of 5

Composition: 2.5 of 5

Overall Rating: .467

Most people probably have not heard of this Swedish group. The name might have something to do with it. The fact that they’re not very good might also contribute. One source refers to them as “punkelectro”, while another refers to them as industrial. Cat Rapes Dog is, however, a truly industrial band. Their early jam sessions were conducted in a factory where member Joel Rydstrom was working. At night, they would spend hours banging on sheets of metal with iron poles hoping the boss would not catch them.

While the lyrics to Trojan Whores are nothing short of brilliant with lines like “Open the doors, open the doors, I have a horse full of whores” and “This war ain’t no game anymore, this is a horse and it’s full of whores”, Everything’s Gone Green is nothing short of awful. The distortion does very little to hide how off-key singer Joel Rydstrom is (in fact, in an interview he admits that he had the idea to hide his awful vocals using distortion while seeing Ogre at a Skinny Puppy show), while the female vocalist sounds like she has had one too many Valium. In fact, either one sounds like they could throw up on themselves at any time during the song. The accompanying music is typical of European electronic dance music of the era, neither brilliant nor awful, just “average” drum-machine-and-synthesizer background. The accompanying guitar work is noticeably out of time in places, but blends into the mix fairly well.

Although they are influenced by Skinny Puppy, Cabaret Voltaire, and Einsturzende Neubauten, they somehow manage to completely fail to take the music to the next level. Had they not included the butchering of New Order’s Everything’s Gone Green, this disc would have scored higher. You may find it amusing, but Cat Rapes Dog likely to only find a permenant home in a music collection based on its novelty value. Although not very mass-marketable, the name has a certain ring to it.

If you want more information on Cat Rapes Dog, their official website is: