Girlfriends (Self-Titled) by Girlfriends (Jerry Joiner)

Released December 19th, 2009
Reviewed by SPICYGUAVA on April 21st, 2024

In the town of Pullman, a college student from Portland spends his time bored out of his mind. It’s the summer of 2009. The age of massive technological advancement and uncertainty for the futre, the beginning of the 21st century is coming to an end. He gets up, puts on a yellow headband with one hand and yields a Jazzmaster on the other. And that’s how one of the greatest albums of the late 2000s is created. Girlfriends is a one-man band fronted by multi-intrumentalist Jerry Joiner. How is it a "one-man band"? Thank loop pedals. He creates his music by running a melody through a looper and drumming over it, and occasionally using a keyboard to create a crystalized synth melody, without the need of anyone else. Why is Girlfriends a one man band? According to Joiner, "(Girlfriends) does not incorporate other people... because it's hard to find in Pullman, Washington." The result, an album that perfectly describes the late 2000s.

This album is fun. It can be described as taking a breath of fresh air, or that one euphoric moment where you immediately drink cold water after finishing an icy mint gum, or having hot tea on a rainy day, or eating watermelon with lemonade on a hot summer day, or taking a walk in a deciduous forest at 6 A.M. during autumn. Essentially, this album is cold, but in a good way. If I could summarize winter into music, it would be this album. This album is the only one released under Jerry Joiner's "Girlfriends" project, besides the remixed version where all songs are reversed. Because of that, this self-titled debut is like that one TV show that only has one season, and you want another season, but it just wouldn't feel right, cause the first season is perfect, and enough (sorta like Samurai Champloo). The short 30 minute runtime leaves in no fillers at all, all songs are brilliantly executed. The vocals are great as well, lyrics are deep and philosophical, and the added screamo factor makes it an enjoyable listen. The guitars, the bass, and the synths on this album are great, but man the drumming is next level. You can hear it in the song "New Computers." He uses the actual body of the snare drum to continue on with the beat (Drummers, what is that technique called?) Also, look at that album cover, perfectly resembles the music- it's literally spot on. A jumble of blue construction paper and cut outs of the sky, the ocean, and anything cold blue from magazine pages, it clicks so well. Joiner does his own thing and excels at it, its unique, I still can't find anything that resemebles the aura of this album. Pop this one when you decide to take that night drive. Favorite songs: New Computers, Untitled #6, Brobocop. (5/5)

Jerry Joiner playing in Spokane, 2009. Constructs the song "Untitled #3" in front of a live audience, also check out that recovery at 1:57!

The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads (Remastered) by Lift to Experience

Released February 3, 2017
Reviewed by SPICYGUAVA on January 5th, 2024

If you are reading this, you probably just saw the album cover on the left, and you're either 1. Cringing, 2. Horrifed, or 3. Intrigued. But let me remind you, the saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover" applies here more than ever. I had the same feelings, until I listened to the album fully and was completely blown away. The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads is literally a one of a kind album, it's an album with the concept of three farm boys from Texas that are contacted by angels and told to create a Christian-Post-Rock-Shoegaze album about the second coming of God and Jesus Christ coming to the Promised Land of Texas in order to work with mankind to protect them from an apocolypse. Now let it be clear, this album is fairly religious. But if that isn't what you believe in, don't let that deter you away. Many online music communities, majority atheist, regard this album to be a pivotal and moving piece of art, earning a cult-classic level of prestige. A must-listen, regardless of your religious stance. You don't have to be a Christian to enjoy this album.

Lift To Experience is a band hailing from Denton, Texas (The same place where the infamous Pricemaster yardsale took place) in 1996. The members being guitarist and vocalist Josh T. Pearson, bassist Josh "The Bear" Browning, and drummer Andy Young. In 1997 the band made a self-titled EP, and in 2001 they created the original Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads. Both releases recieved little to no recognition and due to the insufficient funds of the band members in order to properly mix the recordings, they disbanded the same year. Cut a decade later in the early 2010s, the album begins making swift rounds on internet music forums, quickly gaining a cult following. This following continues to grow til 2017 when the vocalist, Pearson, recognizes the following and brought the band back creating the full reissue and remaster of the original Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads that is avaliable on streaming platforms today, this time with good mixing and mastering. The concept album follows this concept, in which an angel contact the three members of the band, asking them to create an album to spread the word about the Texas-Jerusalem Crosswords, while focusing on the second coming of Jesus Christ and God coming to the Promised Land of Texas in order to defend themselves from an apocolypse in order to reach heaven. Sounds pretty heavy donit? Each song follows a specific story and feeling, with "Just As Was Told" detailing when the angels meet with the three Texan Boys, and with "The Ground So Soft" talking about Death with Pearson talking to Death directly. Every song is packed with poetic lyrics with commentary about the state of the world, America, humanity, death, and living. The band uses feedback as a driving sound throughout the album, setting down the foundations of the shoegaze/post-rock atmosphere alongside complex guitar dynamics and drum beats. They also showed their creativity within the reissue by incorporating incoming train-noise samples in their song "Just As Was Told" creating a jaw-dropping switchup in tempo into chaos, increasing decibals in their song "The Ground So Soft" to replicate the sound of a speaker blowing out, using their feedback to create a dreamlike atmosphere in its song such as in "These Are The Days" and also bringing in a string section in their song "Down With A Prophets." However the most interesting creative aspect of this album is in the last song, in which Pearson repeats the phrase "We Shall Be Free" before the song briefly ends, with a 14 minute segment of silence, and then picking up into an eerie stormlike instrumental with the vocalist reciting what I assume to be some religious poetry before the album ends. Also, I didn't notice this until much later, but the titles of the songs match up to create a sentence, with each side having its own sentence, being "Just as was told down came the angels falling from cloud 9 with crippled wings waiting to hit the ground so soft." And side two being "These are the days when we shall touch down with the prophets to guard and to guide you into the storm." Veru cool.

Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads is a must listen if you want to get into the Post-Rock genre, alongside the albums from GYBE! and Spiderland from Slint. If you're already into shoegaze, you will definitely find this album interesting as it combines the Post-Rock and Shoegaze genres together to create a truly moving album, regardless if you're religious or not. This is truly God's Chosen Post-Rock Band. The Best Christian Rock Band Ever. Favorite songs: Falling From Cloud 9, Down With the Prophets, Just As Was Told, These Are The Days. (4/5)

"Don't you boys know nothing? The USA is the center of JerUSAlem."

A short documentary about the band Lift To Experience and their experiences creating music while living in Denton, Texas.

Meet The Residents by The Residents

Released April 1, 1974
Reviewed by SPICYGUAVA on August 21st, 2023

Meet The Residents by the band the Residents is a pioneering album of the avant-garde. It's experimental and satirical, making a commentary about rock n roll music during the time, it's quite obvious right off the bat with the infamous cover, defacing the album Meet the Beatles! by the Beatles. Who are the Residents you might be asking? Well, I don't know; actually, no one knows. The band has managed to keep their identity hidden from the public for a good 5 decades now, except for one member named Hardy Fox who sadly passed away in 2018 (Rest in Peace). The band's anonymity is just one of the reasons why this band and album are amazing, it's even more impressive when you find out that they have been active for like 60 years now, still making music, and keeping their identity hidden. What we do know though, the band came from the city known as Shreveport in Louisiana. The band decided to leave Shreveport (good choice) and head to San Francisco to take part in the hippie culture of the 60s. At that time they were eventually starting to make music, and San Francisco was where they stayed to record this album.

The album starts off with a song called "Boots" which is a cover of the song "Boots are Made for Walking" by Nancy Sinatra. The song is distant and also quite hilarious, setting the image of what one might hear in the rest of the album. This song is a part of a medley (Boots, Numb Erone, Guylum Bardot, Breadth and Length, Consuelo's Department, Smelly Tongues). Each song usually lasts 1-2 minutes long. Majority of these songs are fun, and catchy even with their unconventional tunes. However, there is one song apart of this medley, that being "Breadth and Length." This is a song that I was kinda iffy on since the female vocals sounded really dissonant, which kinda unsettled me. And I'm sure that this is what the band would've wanted, to unsettle the listener, and to be quite frank they did a very good job in that department in regards to this song, and for that I do have respect for that. Besides this, this album still pursues its high moments. One example being the song being "Rest Aria", which is directly after the medley. Rest Aria is a beautiful piano piece that is eerie yet soothing in nature, and it's probably my favorite song on the album. I would describe the song as looking at an old antique painting of some old overgrown Spanish patio, you magically enter the painting and start wandering around. As you roam the garden, discovering new areas and such, additional instruments are added to the song. Moving on, the next song is "Skratz", this is song is just like "Breadth and Length," its very unsettling, and puts me at unease. However, just like Breadth and Length, I can respect the approach to unsettle the listener and they did a great job at that. The song after however, "Spotted Pinto Bean", creates a visible juxtaposition with Skratz. Similar to Rest Aria, its main instrument is piano, and there are the added female vocals. This time however the females vocals actually worked well with the song, adding emotions almost as if it's an opera song. The first two minutes of the song is quite experimental, but it eventually sizzles down to a more collected piece. The imagery I perceived from the song was as if I was on some old ship from the 1920s, listening to an avant-garde band with dim lighting that illuminates the smoke that is coming from the cigars of the audience. The static makes the song sound as if it's from a damaged or dirtied up vinyl, adding onto that real old vintage feel. Moving on, we listen to the funkiness of "Infant Tango" a very fun song, mostly thanks to the guitars that were used, but also because of the hilarious overcomplicated raspiness of the singer's voice, and the wind-instrument segment of the song. This is the song that is most prone to getting stuck in my head out of all the songs in the album, Rest Aria comes close however that song is a bit more complex. The next song is the festive, "Seasons Greetings", a Christmas song, with its own little twist added to it. Not much to say about the song, besides the awesome bass synths that are used. And of course, the very wholesome part of the song where a band member says Merry Christmas to his family members before stating a very wholehearted "I love you." First time I heard the song, I did not expect anything like that to be on the album. And finally, We reach the final song on the album, N-ER-GEE (Crisis Blues)... and oh boy, this song is quite the rollercoaster. It's the most popular song on the album, coming in at a total of 9 minutes. I wrote a whole explanation about this song, but it ended up being a WHOLE paragraph.. So If I were you, reading this, you should probably just listen to, and experience it.

So what's up with this album? I think one user stated the nature of the album quite accurately: "How weird is this album? Well, let me create an image in your mind. If you gather a large group of individuals consisting of heroin-addled jazzmen, religious zealots, village idiots, serial killers, and a few aliens, locking them in a dark and dingy underground cellar and leaving them to record an album (refusing them food and water of course), and bringing in a sentient tumbleweed to produce the album, you might end up with something about half as weird as Meet The Residents. Does that answer your question?" Overall, this album is a very weird listen, but weird in a good way. You might need to listen to it a couple of times to fully grasp its intricate and unconventional themes. This album was very ahead of its time. It still boggles me how something that straight up defies normal music standards in the pursuit of the avant-garde and weirdness would be made in the 70s while also sounding good. This album should be more publicly praised and remembered alongside experimental and weird albums like Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart and Philosophy of the World by the Shaggs. Favorite songs: Rest Aria, N-ER-GEE (Crisis Blues), Infant Tango, Seasoned Greetings, Spotted Pinto Bean. (4/5)

This song isn't from the Meet the Residents album, but damn is it a fun little song from the Residents.
Coming from their Santa Dog EP in 1972.
Best Christmas song ever made.

Today's Active Lifestyles by Polvo

Released April 19, 1993
Reviewed by SPICYGUAVA on August 8th, 2023

As one user commented, Today's Active Lifestyles is "all killer, no filler," and I gotta agree with that. Polvo, the cult classic band from the thriving '90s scene in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, released this album all the way back in 1993. The vocalist and guitarist Ash Bowie and guitarist Dave Brylawski met in a Spanish class at the University of North Carolina and became friends due to their shared love for music. Later on, bassist Steve Popson and drummer Eddie Watkins (Rest in Peace) joined the band. Their first album, 'Cor-Crane Secret,' was quite good, featuring songs like 'Vibracobra,' 'Channel Changer,' and 'Duped.' However, it did have a few forgettable moments. But with their next release, 'Today's Active Lifestyles,' managed to acknowledge the issues of their debut and improved it. I first discovered this album when I was recommended the song 'Sure Shot' on Spotify. The first thing that had intrigued me was the distant vocals of Ash Bowie, which were I thought were quite unconventional. Unlike most songs where vocals take center stage, here the instruments dominated, with the vocals acting as a subtle accompaniment. It was a unique approach. The song didn't follow the vocals; the vocals followed the song. This choice is used on all songs of the album. I can't forget to mention the exceptional breakdown in this song, with brilliant drumming -which is something I seek to find when listening to music- the rhythm. And thats what most of this album contains, cheap but expensive, distant but expressive, sour but intelligent, and it holds that tone throughout its 41 minute duration. I downloaded the album shortly after. One summer, me and my family went on a road trip to Yosemite in inland California. The album's songs perfectly matched the rugged and desolate landscapes of California's deserts and the eyecatching dark green forests. Especially the songs 'Gemini Cusp' and 'Stinger (Five Wigs),' two long songs. I vividly remember looking out the window, watching the beautiful Californian desert near the outskirts of Bakersfield while listening to the final quarter of 'Stinger (Five Wigs)' on my Skullcandy headphones. The scenery fit so well with the music, and whenever I listen to that song, tt reminds me of that moment. Anyway, lets talk about the album itself. It kicks off with 'Thermal Treasure,' immediately throwing the listener headfirst into the ocean of angular and technical riffs, setting the tone for what to expect in the rest of the album. The song never maintains the same riff for more than 10 seconds, changing rapidly and keeping the listener unsure of what to anticipate next. This unpredictability adds to the song's enjoyable nature. The second track, 'Lazy Comet,' lives up to its name, but in a nice way. The guitar and drumming start off sounding laid-back, as do the bass and vocals, until the song climaxes and picks up the pace. With the two last hard-hitting and jagged tracks, there's 'My Kimono,' a beautiful experimental solo guitar piece. It sounds like a person playing a song on the porch of their farmhouse while watching the sunset. The sky blends shades of purple, pink, and orange, with trees swaying gently in the background. The song sounds like it comes from a cheap tube amp, adding to its iconic charm. It's also their most popular track, and deservedly so. Other songs include 'Tilebreaker,' a somewhat underrated song on the album. Even though the lyrics are difficult to decipher, the vocals complement the music, with both Bowie and Brylawski contributing. 'Shiska' is a very aggressive track with layered drums, sung by Brylawski. 'Time Isn't On My Side' incorporates video game-like synths and has a reflective quality. 'Action Vs Vibe' is the most aggressive song on the album, again sung by Brylawski, ending on a very loud note (literally). Finally, there's the aforementioned 'Gemini Cusp,' a slow and deliberate song in contrast to the previous track. It's neat and feels perfectly fit for a scene where the main character experiences a slow death, while the camera zooms out, like Walter White's death scene. I think that song and the scene would go well. My favorites would have to be a tie between 'Tilebreaker' and the beautiful guitar piece 'My Kimono.' This album is 100% worth the listen if you want to explore the Noise/Math rock genres. (5/5)