New Hive 2 by Stephen Michael McDowell

                A young bee worked tirelessly on his GIFs. Other bees made fun of the young bee for the young bee did not do other young bee things like collect pollen and dance. Instead the young bee spent hours at a time working on making the perfect Tumblr. The young bee had dreams of one day receiving thousands upon thousands of re-blogs from one of its ever-intricate Tumblr posts. From that viral post the young bee knew it would earn tens of dollars, dollars it could use to buy itself a smart phone. With a smart phone the young bee knew the viral opportunities were endless. Instead of having to rely on a clunky old Apple computer that it got after a random person got stung hundreds of times, it could have a hip smartphone that would make all the other bees jealous. 

                Years passed by and the young bee became an old bee. The old bee continually worked on creating perfect GIFs for the Internet to enjoy. Bright, brilliant colors the old bee’s work was beautiful. Unfortunately the old bee was unable to go viral the way it wanted. Fortunately the old bee knew that it would not be doomed in its endeavors. While it toiled day and night to create the perfect GIF it taught a computer course teaching other bees how to use Excel. Most of the other bees did not understand how to use Excel very well, and only a handful were able to master Pivot Tables. One of those students exceeded the old bee’s expectations. A special bee mastered macros and from this work the old bee knew that the special bee would be its protégé. 

                The special bee created the perfect GIF. When the old bee saw it the old bee knew what it had to do. Realizing that the time on the Earth was nearly over for the old bee, the old bee explained to special bee all the cool things that could be done on the new iPhone. Overjoyed the special bee wanted to master more than Tumblr, but Instagram, Snapchat, and other assorted social media exclusive. Upon realizing what the old bee was going to do, the special bee tried to talk the old bee out of it. But the old bee would have none of it. 

                Happy at having found a bee that truly understood him, the old bee flew with the special bee on by his side. Upon seeing a young stupid person with shorts that hung off them, the old bee knew what to do. The old bee stung the young stupid person right on their ass. The young person dropped their iPhone onto the ground in order to rub their ass. The special bee picked up the iPhone happy to create multiple fake profiles on social media sites. While the special bee picked up the iPhone and flew off with it the young stupid person said:

                “Like how the fuck can bees pick up an entire iPhone? That is really stupid.” 

                Now the special bee is in charge of New Hive, a new site made for and by bees.

What by Stephen Michael McDowell

                Whilst I was sleeping at my Grandmother’s cottage in rural wherever old people go to die, I heard a knock at the door. Upon opening it I saw none other than a young succulent Stephen Michael McDowell at the door. He looked quite befuddled as I let him in and gave him homemade Arizona Iced Tea. 

                “The woods, they have no Internet” Stephen Michael McDowell said to me as he sipped his Arizona Iced Tea from a mug that said ‘Teamwork’ and had some fighter jets flying on it. 

                “I know, my dearest friend Stephen. I hope you can say the night at my Grandmother’s cottage. The Wi-Fi network is ‘Beefcake’ and the password is ‘el33tsquad07’ no spaces.” 

                “Thank you kindly my sloth friend. I beg of you, please sleep and dream of Tumblr re-blogs.” 

                I put on the world-famous minimalist techno duo SND to get to sleep. As my eyes closed I noticed Stephen Michael McDowell taking copious notes in his notebook while observing the finely wallpapered wall of my Grandmother’s cottage. 

                The morning came without ceremony. My Grandmother woke me up to inform me that I needed to go to the store to buy more pretzel rods and get shiny pennies. She used both as currency to trick stupid young children to tend to her yard. Going to the kitchen table to get the car keys for my rocking 1991 Toyota Camry I saw a note from Stephen Michael McDowell. It read:

                “Dearest sloth leaving you in before you woke cleaved my bosom in twain, yet I had to do it. Your generosity in providing me with a steady reliable Internet connection shall not be forgotten. Indeed I plan on dedicating a New Hive post to you. Currently I am working on one based upon the loveliness of your Grandmother’s wallpaper. It is quite fetching, as I imagine your Grandmother was back in the day. Unfortunately I am not interested in your Grandmother in any romantic sense, so tell her I am in a relationship even though I am not. I do not want to break your Grandmother’s heart but know I am going to dedicate the New Hive post to her. It will be entitled (What). I hope she adores it.

                Yours Truly

                Stephen Michael McDowell.”

                After reading something of such exquisite beauty, I shed a single tear. I then shed another tear for Franz Ferdinand and how they used to be a good band before they got all irrelevant. I walked outside and decided that it was going to be the day to earn those pretzel rods.

Libroscisorium by Stephen Michael McDowell

                Stephen Michael McDowell’s style is so fresh they better start selling it at Whole Foods for sixteen dollars. At this point Stephen Michael McDowell Internet presence has become so hardcore that the only way it could become more hardcore is if it was literally bronzed like baby shoes. Obviously that last statement will probably be Stephen Michael McDowell’s next New Hive contribution. Everything Stephen Michael McDowell does just simply screams Internet. For this particular outing he does not scream Internet as he does dance to it. Reminiscent of Strong Bad’s hit single “The System is Down” Stephen Michael McDowell gets down to his own jams. 

                The piece begins subtly. Just kidding it doesn’t. Right from the beginning Stephen Michael McDowell follows the sage advice of a young Justin Timberlake and opts to “Rock His Body”. Gyrations made by Stephen Michael McDowell are the things dreams are made of, probably. By rocking out Stephen Michael McDowell proves exactly what sort of person he is: a rocking one. Much of the rocking occurs within the confines of either his home or another person’s dwelling area. Seeing his head move graciously is a beautiful thing. A lot of the time Stephen Michael McDowell chooses to write, which is great and all but not nearly as spiritually fulfilling as watching him dance. And dance he does. Stephen Michael McDowell marches to the beat of a different drummer and it is fortunate that the different drummer is also himself. That makes things much easier for him. 

                In the final heart-breaking frame Stephen Michael McDowell is outside of a nondescript apartment building. The final frame is heart-breaking for some reason. Outdoors is generally a terrifying place for anybody who spends a vast majority of time indoors. Yet Stephen Michael McDowell skillfully cranes his neck suggesting that he can move to and from a camera with the greatest of ease. Whatever is behind him is behind him, he is past it, ready to take things to the next level. As he appears to be at or around sea level he is going to have to work harder to bring things to the next level. This makes a great amount of sense for Stephen Michael McDowell is precisely the kind of fellow to bring the A+ game for Stephen Michael McDowell schools all other Internet artists. 

                What will Stephen Michael McDowell do next on New Hive, perhaps the most happening site since some of those other sites that are also popular? It is hard to tell. Plenty of individuals, Beach Sloths if you will (and believe me, you WILL), have speculated that Stephen Michael McDowell has brought so much of his A game that he is about to bring it to the A+ game in an old school style.

If Thousands – For 7.8

                For is an ambient album that’s calm cool and collected. If Thousands uses this confidence to great effect. Multiple styles are thrown into the mix: from guitar, synthesizer, and a few classical instruments to round off the collection. Over the duration of the album it is clear that the songs are carefully constructed with the beautiful instrumental solos showing how the thing sings. Crescendos are included when appropriate. Gradual evolution happens on a few of them leading to soothing pristine tones. 

                Introducing the album is the guitar grit of “1”. From there If Thousands moves onto the crisp consistent bass guitar of “two” which adds flavor to the organ swells. “3” removes guitar allowing the gentle drone to stand alone. Strings are introduced into “5” which weaves warm textures of sound. “Six” moves forward with this minimal sound removing much and leaving the smooth sounds to exist with static noise right on the outskirts of the song. On “7” If Thousands reaches one of the highlights of the collection with a freak out akin to Jackie-O Motherfucker’s work. Elegance permeates “9” with its mournful horn work, as the horn falls into the darkened industrial textures. The song is also unusual for its cymbal crashes, one of the few places on the album with discernible percussion though the percussion is for texture rather than keeping time. 

                “Ten” heralds the beginning of the end on For. With all the instruments finally together it feels as if the whole of the parts of the album have been working towards this moment. “lucky” finishes off the album on a somewhat hopeful note. For is a gorgeous consistent album.

Electric Bird Noise - Kind of Black 7.3

                Kind of Black creates weird lonesome images of the guitar. Over the course of the collection Electric Bird Noise manages to explore the guitar from every possible angle. At times the techniques used recall recording methods from long ago. In fact much of the album has a nostalgic sheen that is painted over it. With such intense focus on a single instrument as heard through plenty of filters, pedals, and other effects it has a peculiarly individualistic take on what a single instrument can do with minimal accompaniment. 

                “one” reflects on the guitar purely. Twanging about it has a hesitant feeling behind it. Underneath that is a rumbling that comes from the constant warbling. A sci-fi vibe takes over on “two” especially towards the end. For much of the first half of the album there appears to be a focus on shorter more pop accessible lengths. Hence much of it has at least a blurred melodic structure behind it. “seven” begins to move Electric Bird Noise towards larger pieces letting this one walk across uneasily. “nine” is by far the highlight of the album. Opting for alien terrain it is an incredibly dark uncomfortable piece. After minutes of setting the mood Electric Bird dives headfirst into unsettling industrial pastures. For the closer “eleven” Electric Bird Noise takes a drone-inflected sound and allows it to explode at the very end. 

                Dusty sounding and downright anxious at times Kind of Black is a unique album that sounds like little else.

The Story by Travis Macdonald

                Characters make all the wrong moves in stories. If they made the right ones nobody would read it. The joys of fiction include the ability to laugh in the face of misfortune. Such laughter is harder to conjure up when it is in reality. Plots move forward in whatever fashion they choose. One of the main benefits of fiction is it offers an escape from a world that can be unnecessarily cruel. Glacial pace is usually how life goes. Fiction forgets the slowness of life opting instead to focus on the big picture when most live life in small captured moments. Deep in stories characters falls from grace and influence nearly constantly. Life and death are tiny microcosms in the light of a fictionalized world. Much of literature devotes itself to death because a tree died to make the book. Pretending is a fun thing to do in books. Outside of literature pretending is typically frowned upon. 

                Florida is a great place for any fictionalized account of a life. It is hard to picture anybody freely choosing to live in Florida but then again the world is often stranger than fiction. Sleep is hard to depict in stories since individuals are supposed to be fully functioning. Carpentry remains a difficult skill for workers in a book to truly understand. Most skills within a book are rather troublesome for individuals to necessarily understand. Economic crises are easy to read about and hard to live through. Life offers plenty of setbacks. Having a book describe them in exquisite detail is of the utmost importance. Right in the middle of the book is always a slow evening right before everything turns south. Underdeveloped characters are unable to do much in the story about their lives. They are victims to circumstances beyond their control much like everyone. 

                 Everyone feels lonely during a story. Part of this is the fault of the writer who probably wrote the story all alone. The other segment has to do with difficulties the character faces because if the character has no problems whatsoever there is not much of a story. Inheritance is highly contentious within any piece of fiction. Outside of the story inheritances are easily solvable instances. Loose plot holes are among the most difficult things to solve in stories. With every story comes great responsibility to solve every possible problem. Yet this is more than life asks of individuals to tie things up in cute little bows. Advertisements belong in stories because that is what story-telling is all about: raking in the paper. Disaster is easy enough to write about in a story. The difficult part is making a reader care. That is always the most difficult part.

SIX CAIRNS FROM BOYFRIEND MOUNTAIN by Kelly Schirmann

                Kelly Schirmann writes the same song for her whole life. Obviously she could have been a talented musician, one of those ones that write similar music for about two decades before realizing they have been writing the same song over and over again. Such things happen to musicians all the time. Routine bites hard yet the calluses grow ever stronger. 

                Mornings are made for routines. People sit together watching rap videos online wondering what happened to the eras. The eras passed. Everyone ages and when they realize it they can never believe it. Whether they accept it they will feel the consequences. Definitions of eras are made by conflict. Governments intend to structure life that way, via the power of death. After an era passes it is felt immediately and thrown out. Only later can an era get celebrated with the power of nostalgia. This is the way time works winding itself around people until they see their hair change their forehead wrinkled worried. 

                Feelings scrape themselves together to form relationships. Hurt feelings require the company of another person. The desert of loneliness makes people suffer from dehydration. Crying reduces the amount of fluid in a body increasing the probability of a numbed emotional experience. Good thing few every really suffer from this extreme example. Usually the way people suffer is from much large events the things they have no control over. Once they realize the world happens to them they can start happening in the world. 

                Rugs of youth are pulled from under them. Youth is wasted on the young and the young are wasted. Earth laughs at the young. So many years have passed so much evolution undergone to get to the specific point where everything feels okay. Nothing feels that great but that is fine. Balance between the good and bad takes a lifetime. By the time it is figured out it becomes fine. A little too late but nobody cares. With great age comes no responsibility whatsoever. People stop caring and that is the perfect moment. 

                Bellies become flowers. This is how people bloom from the inside. Every person longs to be the flowers they see in the world vibrant colorful full of life. They forget that winter comes and forces the living creatures into hiding. Fortunately for people they are made of stronger stuff, constantly morphing and changing into wonderful creatures. Seven years passes and a person becomes fully new once again.

States of Undress

                She gives new meaning to the term “body of work”. With her epic undertaking “States of Undress” she intersperses poetry with partial nudity. The result is a thing of true beauty. Whoever is interested in her body and her work can go here! Note that the material on this Tumblr is not safe for work. Individuals reading this from the comfort of their office may opt instead to head on home before observing said material. Or they could go to their cars, eat their lunches in their cars, and watch the videos from the comfort of their phone. 

                What does “States of Undress” truly mean? Besides being a name remarkably similar to a folksy band from Dorset, UK, it explores what it means to be partially naked on the Internet. Plenty of people do it every single day of their lives. She is head and shoulders above those mere amateur. She is serious about her presentation. Like Shit and Shine suggested on the opener for their award-winning album “229 2299 Girls Against Shit” She has thought about her presentation. 

                Music on her Tumblr has been hand-picked via the iTunes lifestyle. Everyone is a DJ thanks to impeccable music tastes carefully crafted over many years. Coordination is a must and it goes far beyond clothing into everything. Stylish as hell she probably sold her soul or at the very least her pancreas in order to get the hip styles she effortlessly displays. As stated on her Tumblr the videos are done in one take. Hence there is little time in her life to simply do it over and over again. Doing things quickly the videos have a casual feel to them, one that her random admirers from afar appear to greatly appreciate. 

                Tumblr unfortunately does not appear to be a big fan. Out of seemingly some legal morass they have removed a video of hers claiming it violated community guidelines or something. Who really knows with the way the Internet works? Anyway she fought the law and the law won. However since the law won she could at least take a screenshot of it and post it on her Tumblr, the very thing that appeared to take great issue with her. 

                Can she move beyond “States of Undress” into more clothed settings? It is far too early in the project to tell. Perhaps in the future there will be a spinoff entitled “States of Dress” where she blankly takes SELFIES in an office setting. For now, “States of Undress” featuring her bedroom will have to do.

Lucifer Big Band – Atto II 7.7

                Lucifer Big Band wastes absolutely no time in pummeling the listener into submission. Big Band is an apt description as the sound employed is positively gigantic. Repetition adds to this sense of an unescapable force. To fully supplement this giant sound is an incredible volume to nicely round things off. “Atto II” invites the listener to get lost in the repetition and random noises that make up these two slabs that are called songs. 

                With an opener that starts out with mere hints of its noise Lucifer Big Band starts things out in grand style. Constant cymbal crashes and random noise permeate the entire thing. For a good several minutes it appears as if the randomly generated noise is being held at bay. Eventually however the noise takes over resulting in nasty distortion. Digital landscapes are explored as the band tries to regain footing. Hearing this conflict is particularly satisfying. Slowly the drums find their footing and allow the other instruments to follow. Upon the return of something that closely approximates structures there are guitars keeping better rhythm than the actual drums and a woodwind that defines the mood as vaguely end of the world. 

                On the finale the thing begins with harsh digital noise, extremely harsh. Blooming out of this harshness comes the rest of the band waiting beneath the digital noise to come out with chaos of its own. Eventually the two approaches marry to present something akin to Autechre meets jazz. The sound is incredibly hard to follow and absolutely physical. “Atto II” is a beast of an album.