Back Magic
Blood Plaza [5-inch Lathe; Pilgrim Talk]

Back Magic’s “Blood Plaza” is not your typical Pilgrim Talk outing, delving into white-blue deep-fuzz with boombox recording and trashed-out crash cymbals that dominate the mix when wet. If Lou Barlow is lo-fi, I’m not sure what to call this; shit-fi doesn’t seem gritty enough. Devil-fi? A scrappy effort though, pressed onto the oddest lil’ 5-inch lathe-daddy you ever done seen. I think of Moldy Peaches, Zumm Zumm, and Icky Boyfriends, and muse, “Wow, remember when things were clean?” Once again, we’re left to wonder: How much lower-than-fi can self-recorded rock get? Back Magic make early GBV sound like “We Are the World.” This band was seemingly invented to be the exact counterpoint to Buckcherry, the lowest, dingiest scum imaginable. Yet cute, too.

Links: Pilgrim Talk

My People Pray By Starlight / Yusuke Tsutsumi

Split

[CS; Old Monster/Weiner]

My People Pray By Starlight are the bad cop. The nega-world perpetuated by MPPBS’s half of magnetic tape is a grimy, groovy natural world of feel-good beach rhythms interrupted by a mad man’s static preaching. Better to bask in its aural unpredictability than the sad truth of murder, brainwashing, and deceit (we reserve the right to revoke this sunny alternative if any members of MPPBS go Dexter). If the Cali outfit isn’t asked to soundtrack the Inherent Vice adaptation, all hope for humanity should be deemed a lost cause. Of course, that’s a fleeting blip once Yusuke Tsutsumi, the good cop, takes over. Tsutsumi’s work is a much-needed human touch, awash in a world of DJ Shadow and Fennesz. Considering that collaboration seems impossible, it’s a blessing Tsutsumi has arrived on our planet. And though the pairing of this split seems odd — a psychedelic workout partnered with a blissed-out trip-hop ambiance — we know the odd officer pairings are box office gold. Best to get it before its purity is erased by A.O. Scott.

Links: Old Monster/Weiner

Bold Chicken

A Fellow’s Lament

[7-inch; Lysergic Sound Distributors]

Holy fuck, man; that Bold Chicken done went and psyched out my mama! This is such a bluesy ride, it throws me for a loop. Then those nasty choruses kick in and singer Buzz Clic (ooh!) puts forth those massive whoops, hollers, and rants and I totally get why this session, recorded in Ohio in 1972-73, needed to see the light of day again. The production is bound to be a bone of contention for treble-obsessed psych folk, and that’s exactly the reason I dig its guttural hound’s tooth growl. There’s an interesting push-pull from Side A to B. The front-side flares up with more standard rock fare, albeit delivered with just enough muscle to justify revisiting, “Gears & Tears” even doing a weird Elvis thang. The flip, a superior product, was created with a more Captain Beefheart-ish singer at the helm, a strategy I fully respect. Not sure which dude delivers the nasty duo of songs on Side B, but it’s a whole new band when he’s bringing the fucking house down. “Oh Doctor Please” is particularly explosive, a Van Vliet-style freakout (though the Captain hated the term “freak”) stretching out overtop a very un-Beefheart backbone (a.k.a. a straight-up, angular one) that gains a shitload of momentum as soulful backup vox and a hearty beat head the charge. It’s quite a quasi-funky ruckus, tight and nasty like a dolphin-flog. When you’re a small band jamming out somewhere, moments like this make you think you’re going to be a star. And maybe Bold Chicken shoulda been, you know? But life is cool enough to allow for the resuscitation of artifacts like this, so there’s always hope right?

Links: Lysergic Sound Distributors

Celer

Lightness and Irresponsibility

[CS; Constellation Tatsu]

If names were reflective of personality traits, would the world be a better place? Shakespeare argued the idea, but it’d be nice to have some advanced warning system when dealing with a person or institution. It’s the beauty of Lightness and Irresponsibility, another posthumous beauty from Celer. It dares not tread in any territory not in line with the album’s on-point focus, two long-form meditations rarely raising their voice. There is no discipline or consequence to these compositions, just a life at its most carefree. As douchebag CEOs rig the stock market and two-faced politicians further divide America for ill-gotten gains, it’s comforting to forget the sadness surrounding Celer and focus on those lighthearted moments of youth. It’s not nostalgia but a moment in time frozen, forever providing the calm center we need in a world of mislabeled sycophants.

Links: Constellation Tatsu

Hexis

Seputus/Fatum

[7-inch; Black Lake]

I’ve been trying to get the heavies to mosey on over to Cerberus more often, and it’s been tough. One exception is Black Lake Recs and their monstrous Hexis, a metal band afraid of nothing, from death to grind to gangrenous limbs of BM that rot and decay in favor of… you guessed it: death. Seputus/Fatum is a viciously delivered 7-inch with no time for pleasantries, save an isolated Testament breakdown; aside from that, it’s all double-bass and drills to the face, especially the malevolent Side B. I keep returning to the Corrosive Recordings label (Blues, Veil Of Maya) as a reference and must do so again here, because that imprint possessed an assortment of multifaceted metal bands indebted to no one and nowhere, just like Hexis. They drown in a swamp of hiss, and maybe it’s best that we don’t hear too much, as they’d have to slaughter each and every one of us if we ever found out what was going on in their collective head.

Links: Black Lake

Goblin Guts

Global Cuts Vol. 1

[CS; Geweih Ritual Documents]

In a classic episode of The Cosby Show, Cliff sits down daughter Vanessa and older suitor Dabnis in a talk about spontaneity and presentation. The dinner table lecture is concluded by saying that, for all of Dabnis’ positive qualities, the method by which Vanessa introduced him to the family was akin to serving the tastiest, most expensive meal on a used-up garbage lid. The care taken in the packaging and design by Geweih Ritual Documents all but eliminates soreness to the eyes, so too does the duo Goblin Guts: painstaking presentation over hideous Cosby sweaters and trash-can relationships. Despite the horrific imagery of the pair’s chosen name, Global Cuts Vol. 1 is a beautiful chain of odd pop sounds presented for an audience both adventurous and naive. Whether the most stalwart noisiest places the tape into their expensive tape deck or some youthful goofball jams it into a leftover Walkman found under her big brother’s bed as the family home downsizes, Global Cuts maintains a variety of found sounds, energetic rhythms, and madcap hijinx to soundtrack the next iteration of Bill Cosby’s magnum opus (with a special guest appearance by Alan Lomax).

Links: Geweih Ritual Documents

Lower

Walk on Heads

[7-inch; Blind Prophet]

Just try to resist Lower if you dig Dischord, straddling punk and hardcore, and steady streams of energy; go ahead, give it a whirl. Walk on Heads is beholden to Fugazi & the gang, while other more current acts like Shearing Pinx are invited to the party too. If this is where spindly post-punk-mixed-with-hardcore is going, I’m signed, sealed, and delivered, as Lower rip shit up while staying in complete control. The urgency and intensity is there, released slowly over the course of a track rather than in fragmentary bursts. Heavy vinyl, jacketed by an image that, again, reminds me of the old days, the dog days, the good days. Lower aren’t quite Okie Dokie, but that’s not where they’re going.

Links: Blind Prophet

NYKDLN

Post Radio

[2xCS; Sunup Recordings]

But you’re completely alone, everything around you has been abandoned or is frozen, and searching for a signal is your only warmth. You crank the radio to life and continue your hunt for existence. Beyond now, you’ve reached a point where pupil dilation is at an all-natural high and colors sound you in darkness. The light has been out for months, both natural and electric, and the only community you have is distant voices staggering in and out of melody, and maybe that’s current, or a recording. Maybe that’s nature inflicting our radio waves: a hot mic left ON-AIR, broadcasting the wind bludgeoning the side of a radio hut. Staring into the void at your front and all around you, this basement swells with emptiness and echos. Out of the sound pours a mess of memory and drowns all your hope. No more tension. It’s cold, but not to your bones. Voices of ghosts surround your mentality, yet nothing but searing thought harkens hopeless humanity henceforth. Frustration turns off the sound. Evil compounds itself into piercing silence. Curiosity cranks the radio back to being. “Don’t be like that to me. Come back into this here. Where do we all?” Your lips crack blood from the cold, “Post Radio. Post Radio I am here. Consume me in comfort, and we’ll rot together.” So little emotion through such beautifully decayed facets.

Links: NYKDLN - Sunup Recordings

Spider Bags

“Papa Was a Shithead” b/w “I Wish That I Never Had Fed You”

[7-inch; Sophomore Lounge]

There’s a reason Sophomore Lounge is quickly worming its way into my ebon heart: it spits out records by the likes of bands such as Spider Bags. Hailed as a Replacements cum Townes cum Oblivions is high praise for a press junket, yet Spider Bags exceed the lofty praise in six solid minutes of 7-inch pleasure. A-side “Papa Was a Shithead” packs in a lot of melody in just over a minute, the ferocious punk assault softened by attention to detail (even if the repeatable chant of “Papa was a shithead” is juvenile in its cleverness). If you keep the turntable on repeat (and it’s tempting), you’ll miss the tender country jangle rock of “I Wish That I Never Fed You.” True to description, the band turn their punk sneer into roadhouse tear-jerking. The slide is pulverizing but not overpowering. It’s the music of hard necks, blue collar men with an adolescent pattern of looking for trouble but responsible for family and children. Digging deep into the soul of wantonness. Spider Bags — give me more.

Links: Sophomore Lounge

Weird TV

Weird TV

[12-inch; Perennial]

So many obstacles in the way of making their sound work, and yet Weird TV thrive in the seedy underbelly so few explore with ferocity, hitting on Bleach and a simple-stupid approach to punk. Right out of the gate, you get the Spanish SHRIEKS from a female Choking Victim, and it hurts so good. No, really; they sound like they might be damaging the person producing them. But that’s for god to worry about, right? We just need to get what we can out of it. A lot of questionable melodies will send a few folks running, so that’s your call. I think the good outweighs the bad, though you could argue for an all-scream, all-in approach. But hey, this ain’t a fuckin’ debate. I’m just trying to down as many Steel Reserves as I can before the sun rises. I’m glad to hear a record like this come out in the first place, laid bare as it is. Is it maybe okay to pine for the punk of the late 1990s? NO, but we shouldn’t rule out pushing things forward.

Links: Perennial
  

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Cerberus seeks to document the spate of home recorders and backyard labels pressing limited-run LPs, 7-inches, cassettes, and objet d'art with unique packaging and unknown sound. We love everything about the overlooked or unappreciated. If you feel you fit such a category, email us here.