Tag Archives: Devin Morse

Satire: Two Guitarists Seek Bassist, Drummer for “Vowel Obstruction”

Satire: Two Guitarists Seek Bassist, Drummer for “Vowel Obstruction”

By Devin Morse, Esteemed Satirist & Resident Voodoo Expert

Dear Craigslist,

We are two passionate guitar players seeking a bassist and drummer in the Fort Collins/Loveland area for a spoken-word, experimental, Steampunk mash-up project. Are you our missing member?

Our group is called “Vowel Obstruction.” We’ve already played a few shows with this name, but we’re willing to take suggestions on a new one. We might be looking for something smoother and more regular – something that flows. We’ve pondered the name “Vowel Movement” from time to time, but it doesn’t seem as solid.

We are, however, certainly movers! We’ve only been playing together for about the last eight months, and we’ve already booked a number of successful gigs. Now, we’re looking to take our act to the next level: a full band. We need creative new members, a bassist and a drummer, to flesh-out our unique style and sound. Could you be our future bandmate?

We need a go-getter who’s really willing to get in there and make this band a success. We’re talking marketing skills, connections, and music-industry know-how. The ideal candidates will have a good job and a steady stream of disposable income. Additional consideration will be made for any applicant who can drive, is willing to pitch on booze, or has spare rooms where we can pass out drunk, or at least stay for a couple of weeks.

In fact, if we really want to be successful, we should probably just go ahead and move on into your place as soon as possible. I should point out that neither of us knows how to cook or do laundry, so a proficiency in these areas will greatly help your chances of joining the band.

The really good news is that neither of us is employed. We have all the time in the world to work on “Vowel Obstruction, and no money to do anything else. The ideal candidate won’t worry about getting their rent money, or having to pay for all of the groceries, because he/she believes so passionately in the success of the band.

And what a success we will be! With a little investment capital, we can buy matching instruments and outfits. In no time, we’ll be ready to hit the town on your dollar and spread the word.

Every bit of time and money you invest will be worth it, which is why I would like to add just a few more requirements:

  1. The ideal band member will be a natural teacher; someone patient who can share their knowledge and expertise with the other members of the band.
  2. You must be willing to buy us fancy, expensive equipment we don’t need.
  3. We would like breakfast in bed every Sunday – blueberry pancakes are preferred.

Once we have our bassist and drummer, we will be on our way to superstardom. At this point, there’s only one more thing our band could possibly need:

A couple of amazing guitar players.

Miscommunicado – L’Ocean

Miscommunicado – L’Ocean

By Devin Morse


Miscomunicado is a self-described progressive psychedelic blues-rock band with a fitting name. That is, the labels “progressive” or “bluesy” may be a “miscomunicado” on their part. Still, they certainly embrace psychedelic rock: A few keywords for this album would be reverb, delay, and phase-shifter. (On a different ratings scale, it would receive four bongs.) In their freshman effort, Miscomunicado offers an impressive creative drive and songwriting craft that has yet to reach its full maturity. L’ocean’s ambitious grasp of song structure and skillful guitar playing is tempered by juvenile lyrics, thin recording quality, and vocals that frequently fall out of key. Still, this band is going somewhere: They simply need to flesh out their sound. Keep your eye on these guys; there are certainly good things to come.

Elway – Delusions

Elway – Delusions

By Devin Morse

Elway is energetic, fun and probably much better at playing punk rock than football. Delusions will bring you back to the good old days of NoFX, Blink 182 and Flogging Molly, while simultaneously dishing out healthy amounts of hilarious irony at the expense of your favorite organized religion.

There are probably a thousand bands across America playing the exact same power chords, singing with the same raspy punk vocals over the same drum beat and using identical hooks and catchy guitar riffs. And yet, in a tried-and-true way, Delusions is more than worth it.

“Wolf Shirt” is a prime example of the album’s sound. The song is heavily driven by thick power chord distortion, providing a strong platform for the catchy vocal melodies.  The verse sections are quieter, using clever refrain and skillful transitions to bring about a screaming, energetic and satisfying chorus.

“San Mateo” is similar in its youth and carelessness. Rapid punk drums and anthem-like vocals tie together palm muted guitar riffs and ironic lyrics that the unknowing listener would mistake as a wholesome Christian theme.

Musically, Delusions is nothing unexpected. The group’s sound capitalizes on the elements that have made pop punk a staple of the American music scene for the past 15 years. Still, in its loud, careless fashion, there is a reason why these elements work so well. Delusions is fun and easy on the surface, and if you look hard enough, full of healthy satire and hilarious social commentary within.


The Don’ts and Be Carefuls – Sun Hits EP

The Don’ts and Be Carefuls – Sun Hits EP

By Devin Morse

Sun Hits is stormy and subdued, yet quietly upbeat and pop-sensible. The seven-track album is an indie-rock Frankenstein stitched with a synth threading. One may glean bits of The Strokes, Modest Mouse, The Shins or Death Cab for Cutie.

From amidst the driving beats and ambivalent, angst-laden vocals flows a certain post-modern sentiment that suggests tight jeans, Wayfarer sunglasses, and general hipsterism. The songs rely heavily on the playoff between chunky guitar chords, and simple, catchy synthesizer riffs to strike a careful and pop-savvy balance between noisy chaos and cookie-cutter conciseness.

The track “Last Show” is exemplary of the album’s overall sound. No instrument overplays its part, and no part outstays its welcome, but they all lead into the next with a clever use of crescendo and pregnant notes. Where there may be nothing so exceptional about the individual riffs, or about the vocals tying them all together, their arrangement in terms of one another creates a certain catchiness.

This is also evident in the album’s titular track, “Sun Hits,” where a constant, driving beat lends support to muddy guitar distortion and a vocal motif that is easy to grasp and hold onto.

Overall, the Sun Hits EP is well conceived and excellently recorded. Still, there is a pervasive lack of complexity, which, depending on your taste, is either a good or bad thing. In its stripped-down way, the music doesn’t allow for any instrument to stand out or fully express itself, but instead, to only contribute to the idea of the song as a whole.


Give ‘Er Hell – Destroyinat’er

Give ‘Er Hell – Destroyinat’er

By Devin Morse

In a number of ways, Destroyinat’er is the proverbial whiskey-drenched leather jacket that defined heavy rock two decades ago. Without fail, Give ‘er Hell sports the brand of old-school greasiness that justifies chain-smoking an entire pack of cigarettes, downing a fifth of booze, setting something on fire, or overlooking clever lyrics for a good, easy time.

Destroyinat’er could easily have been the heavy rock parents warned their kids about in the late ‘80s. The prominent use of distortion, energetic percussion, and copulatory guitar screeches casts an indelicate suggestion of rebellion, excess, and toxicity throughout. One will immediately pick out the large influence of bands like Metallica and Pantera from amongst the EP’s grungy vocals and upbeat energy.

Although Destroyinat’er’s lyrics are obvious and trite, this weakness is overshadowed by the group’s solid instrumentals, catchy hooks and use of vocal harmonies.

The track “Snatch Racket” is a good example of the overall sound. The song is a call to arms (“torches up!”) about a guy trying to get his girlfriend back from her new man. The verse section is a thickly distorted, energetic segue to the soaring, rock-ballad chorus. Everything is tied together with a few well-constructed guitar solos.

In the end, Destroyinat’er rocks unapologetically. Although the EP may have a tendency to come off a little cheesy at times, it’s hard to say whether that is a good or a bad thing, given the very nature of the music itself. Perhaps you should decide for yourself, and give ‘er a listen.


12 Harmonic Chaos – Protean Phonesthesia

12 Harmonic Chaos – Protean Phonesthesia

By Devin Morse

Spacey, ambient, and minimalist, Protean Phonesthesia is somewhat alien. More specifically, this 14-track album is the creation one may expect of a stranded and musically-inclined Martian who happens across an acoustic guitar, a scale book, and a number of Butthole Surfers, David Bowie, and The Postal Service CDs. Hyper-critical martian brethren might dismiss this creation as passé, typical, or smacking (at times) too sentimentally of Metallica’s acoustic intros. To humans lacking these annoying alien pretensions, however, this album is pretty damned good.

The tracks, mostly instrumental, generally orbit a nucleus of arpeggiated minor chords. From this elemental basis, a scattering of synth effects and noisy guitar embellishments begin to fill in a flight-plan of sorts – a journey that doesn’t have to overly explain itself to be well-understood.

But this is just a very basic blueprint. In the end, the songs are rather diverse, and in many ways, daring. Throughout the album, a passenger will also encounter free-floating bits of rock, tribal, industrial electronica and psychedelica.

The track “Canorous (Dirty Scarab Remix)” is a perfect example of the album’s experimental nature. A drifting conglomeration of dramatic electro-beats and ambient soundscapes, it somehow seems to capture the archetypal blinking lights of deep space travel.

In the end, it is difficult to confine this album to a 260 word review. Like most things that are obscure, bizarre, or alien, it deserves exploration with tools beyond the scope of what is currently available. Namely, your own human ears.


The Foot – The Hangman EP

The Foot – The Hangman EP

By Devin Morse

If your playlist includes Blind Melon, Maroon 5, Ween, The Darkness or Jamiroquai, you need to check out The Foot. – immediately. This band, experimental rock at its core, is not afraid to reach into the realms of funk, grunge and soul to deliver a clever, original and silky-smooth catchiness.

Some aspects of The Hangman EP are epic enough and so over-the-top that they come off as humorous in their smirking pseudo-cheese. The singer offers moments of arena-rock falsetto and disco-embellishment that balance out his smoky, well-tanned singing voice with simultaneous novelty and grace.

The track “Johnny Got it Wrong” displays the band’s musical diversity, technical ability and compositional adeptness. The song begins with an Egyptian-inspired hook of a verse, moving naturally into a growling chorus reminiscent of Alice in Chains. An abstract bridge section conveys the psychedelic aura of The Mars Volta or Pink Floyd.

“Corner of Sunset” begins with a synth riff that could belong to any number of Supertramp songs. The vocals, however, are equally reminiscent of Maroon 5, Blind Melon, or even… Don Henley? This song is goofy and a bit circus-like, but at the same time innovative and satisfying.

In the end, The Hangman EP is not to be missed. As a band, The Foot. offers a creativity, craftsmanship and freshness that is missing from much of the current alternative rock landscape. They seem fearless in their musical ambition. They are willing to go there, wherever that may be, and are heroes in that respect.


Vandelay Industries – Critter

Vandelay Industries – Critter

Devin Morse

Critter is a combination of Weezer, Modest Mouse, and The Strokes that could easily bring the listener back to 2004. Vandelay Industries presents a recipe for alternative rock that was extremely popular seven or eights years ago. Still, the sound remains current, and draws on a number of recent influences: One will catch bits of Spoon, Franz Ferdinand and The White Stripes as well.

Overall, Critter has a very high production value. The songs are youthful and energetic, yet tastefully composed. What they lack in musical sophistication, they make up for in spirit.

Whether it’s a good or bad thing, the listener will probably find the song structures and melodies to be somewhat safe, familiar and universally descriptive of yesteryear’s alternative rock and pop punk.The lyrics could easily summarize a senior year of high school, or freshman year of college. While the rhymes are somewhat obvious, and the singer’s voice somehow reminiscent of the beer line at a kegger, the vocals still do an excellent job of complementing the music.

The track “Golden Anchors & Chrystal Sails” is exemplary of Vandelay Industries’ style. The beat is punky, upbeat and supports steady, staccato guitar power chords. The vocals are a little cliché in their angst, but the lyrics and melodies carry the music appropriately. Telltale synthesizer riffs are present throughout, and vocal harmonies are a bit cookie-cutter in their style and placement. The formula is good, but expected.

Although Vandelay Industries is in no way groundbreaking, Critter is a fun, easygoing and energetic EP that is equally adaptable to a skate video or a make-out session in your parent’s car.


The Campaign Trail: P.J. McFlinger’s, 2012

The Campaign Trail: P.J. McFlinger’s, 2012

By Devin Morse

Man, when I become president, things are going to be different. We’re talking change. Not the B.S. “change” we’re always hearing about, where everything ends up staying the same, but real change. As president, I plan to tackle this country’s greatest challenges with the decisive tact and expedient manner of a true professional. I intend to listen carefully to the issues and concerns of everyday citizens and balance their needs against those of big business, foreign interest and the environment. Damned if I won’t be the best president to ever serve this fine nation.

As assistant manager of the greater Aurora, CO area’s P.J. McFlinger’s Bar and Grill, I am no stranger to the intricacies of leadership. I am already intimately aware of how hard it is to be the top dog – the one who must remain poised under insurmountable pressure, while simultaneously juggling an infinite number of complex issues and attempting to appear sensitive to a multitude of diverse backgrounds and opinions. If my week-long stint at the P.J. McFlinger’s Assistant Manager Training Seminar in Omaha has given me anything, it is the knowledge and skills necessary to run this glorious nation.

After all, any effective leader must be fair, informed and decisive, regardless of which employee may need the night off to see their ex-roommate from Fresno. A strong leader must be inspiring, confident, and capable of winning over any customer whose Awesome Dumplin’ Dunkers took more than 15 minutes to arrive. Sometimes, a great leader must be willing to compromise, even if it means a 20 percent discount on the Clam Jammers that “just didn’t seem as flavorful as last time.”

With all my skills and experience, becoming president would really just be a natural progression. Plus, I think all Americans can agree that it’s not really that much harder of a job anyway. Easier, at least, than apologizing to that woman at table 17 last night after her Ice Queen frozen margarita got dumped into her lap by the new waiter, Chip. I’d like to see Obama try to smooth that one out. I don’t see him winning any McFlinger’s Favorites awards for “Best Assistant Manager” in the Mountain West Region.

If you’ve happened upon political blogs, television punditry, or the comments section at the bottom of Yahoo! news stories, you probably already realize just how easy being president actually is. Everyone’s always talking about it. It’s like the answers to our nation’s biggest problems are already all out there, on the tip of everyone’s tongue, growing cold like a Seasonal Fajita Bomber that never made it to the table.

Even bduprie128, a struggling mechanic and father of three from Indianapolis seems to have it all figured out. He writes, in response to a Yahoo! news article on President Obama, “Why can’t this idiot fix the economy?? HE SO STUPID, if nobody has money, why doesn’t he just print more? Why doesn’t he print a BIRTH CERTIFICATE?”

Ah, bduprie128, you are so wise, so eloquent. As in most situations, the parable of the easiest solution being the best once again proves true. “Why don’t we just print more?” It seems so ironic that all those white-collar types from Harvard, Columbia and Yale have yet to figure it out.

But then again, we can’t all be the “take care of business” type, now can we? For instance, when I see that someone needs a side of Explosion Sauce for their Seared Baja Tuna Slammers, I don’t let the situation escalate into a multi-national freedom fight at taxpayer expense. Similarly, I don’t spend my precious management resources resolving employee disputes that have little to do with the workplace.

Rather, I introduce a unilateral agreement to fire all parties involved, and then distance myself from them as quickly as possible, as would any world leader worth his salt. Management 101, people.

As president, I promise to treat all citizens like customers in my establishment: as guests in this middleclass restaurant of a country. As any veteran P.J. McFlinger’s employee will tell you, this means making everyone happy with his or her P.J. McFlinger’s experience. It means that the customer is always right.

Which is exactly why I plan on destroying our two-party system by pandering equally to liberal and conservative agendas. For instance, I will first make conservatives happy by outlawing abortion and handing out free guns. Then, I will make concessions to liberals by making guns illeg– wait, that’s not right at all. Hold on… Okay, okay, I’ve got it. First, I make all guns illegal, and then hand out free abor—

No, no, that’s not right either. Not right at all. Damn. Okay, wait: First I make guns illegal… Dammit, this all seemed so simple when I was sweeping out the walk-in last night.

Ok, let me start over: first I solve the employment problem by opening 20,000 new P.J. McFlinger’s…

Nautical Mile – Invisible Ink EP

Nautical Mile – Invisible Ink EP

By Devin Morse

At first, it’s a little hard to measure Nautical Mile. Imagine what Evanescence would sound like if they fully grasped the concepts of scales, chords and creative song structure. Add to this some catchy vocal melodies, a few well-placed pick slides, and a healthy amount of talent, and Invisible Ink will move you by at least some measurable distance.

Comparing Nautical Mile to the plastic, mass-produced sound of Evanescence may be a bit unfair. Submerged within this four-song EP, one may net small bits of At The Drive In, Pantera, or even Led Zeppelin. Still, much of what emerges is reminiscent of early 2000’s, female-vocal driven pop rock. The feeling is one of drama, showing a slight tendency to navigate rough, personal oceans while still falling victim to a number of pop music clichés. But there is some strong musicianship here, and somehow it all evens out.

The first track, “Weeds,” is the best of the lot. True to form, the verse sections churn in distorted maelstrom, breaking violently against the heavy-rocking chorus sections. The instrumentals are interesting and tight (think Omar Rodríguez-López), and the vocal melodies are catchier than Syphilis on an 1840’s shrimping vessel. Although it seems rather unlikely, considering the dramatic nature of the music, this song appears to be about gardening.

Overall, Nautical Mile has a tendency to ride mostly just one musical current.

Still, they pilot these waters in a well-constructed vessel, with the technical skill and talent of seasoned navigators.