Grandma’s Boyfriend
Grandma’s Boyfriend EP [7-inch; Loglady]

Bad band names often belie the treasures found within, and that is most certainly the case with Grandma’s Boyfriend. A sly, svelte, economical mix of Cloud Nothings, a half-dozen HoZac platters, a quicker and less-snotty Icky Boyfriends, The Ramones/Buzzcocks, long-lost Seattle punkers The Daryls, and a million similar releases I’ve reviewed and forgotten over the years. That might not seem like a ringing endorsement, but any snappy-ass, quasi-melodic punk act that gets through the doors at Cerberus is already notable since we tend to go a different way aesthetically. As usual, this entire 7-inch hinges on the vocals and whether they make enough hay before the sun stops shinin’. Most of the time they do, and the lyrics — not to mention the instrumentation — are better than average, so let’s call this one a winner.

Links: Loglady

Earn / Mirror to Mirror

Split

[CS; Jugular Forest]

Oh them boys from 1958-2009. They gone and made a split cassette under th’er solo aliases. Earn is Matthew Sullivan toying with minimalism, focusing on the space between the spaces between. It’s an experiment that’s been coming to a head in many forms (most recently in his work with roomie Sean McCann). Lift yo’ head up and praise be to Earn. Alex Twomey’s jam is just that; overflowing with synthesized reverie. Remember when Animal Collective was unpredictable and fun? Yeah, you better jump on Mirror to Mirror now. The juxtaposition here is a strange one — perhaps Sullivan and Twomey proving to the disenchanted like me that they are more than their ‘past’ project. I’ve known it for some time, but this split not only proves it, but also destroys preconception itself. Both are craftsman beyond the scope of their chosen instruments, going where others refuse. Earn is sullen but triumphant in its stoic optimism; Mirror to Mirror is finely crafted drone that has no fear of being labeled pop. Both will bring a smile as wide as the Joker’s to your face. Bust my britches and call me Frances.

Links: Jugular Forest

Eric Paul

I Sleep With Their Bones

[CS; Bathetic]

I interviewed Eric Paul (most notably of Arab On Radar, whom, at the time, he wouldn’t even discuss) when The Chinese Stars unleashed themselves on the public post-AoR for a couple of albums and a really cooled star-shaped CD EP. He said, at one point:

My lyrics are never intended to be a catalyst for something. They are written for very self indulgent and personal reason[s]. I do not have the ability to be a spokesperson or a martyr for any issue. So, usually when you read something in my lyrics it is usually a result of something I am contemplating or struggling with in my life.

If what he said then is true of his most prurient release, the I Sleep With Their Bones cassette, well… good luck with that. Then again, maybe I’m sick because I’m not offended by this stuff in the first place. Hmm? Wherever the chips fall, let them be dipped in the sick spiritual salsa of a man with a lot to get off his man-chest. And would you want to listen to his spoken-word tape if he didn’t have issues? Nope. Then you wouldn’t be privy to Paul trying to fuck on cocaine, figure out a tragic relative, discern whether a woman is trying to kill him, and dealing with his parents’ drunken fighting (if they’re there at all; at one point, they’re two cardboard cutouts). As much fun as I seem to be making of all this, I think what Paul accomplishes with I Sleep With Their Bones is an important step for him at this point. As I have with all the ex-Arab On Radar boys, I give this my seal of approval because its contents are bare and exposed like any writer’s soul should be.

Links: Bathetic

Danielson

“Expectorance”

[7-inch; Joyful Noise]

Before there was Sufjan Stevens, there was the Danielson Family. Helmed by the effervescent Daniel Smith, the anti-Manson eclectics breathed new life into pop, playfully flirting with 60s bubblegum and late 20th-century experimentation to produce a wide variety of kitsch. “Expectorance” is yet another minor reinvention from Smith. Maintaining the tinker-toy melody often found in upbeat Danielson fare, “Expectorance” also delves into some polished blues repetition. The beat is pounded out with the fervent energy of Pete Townshend, Smith’s windmills powering an army of musical talent rather than rallying against teenage wastelands and old bosses. It’s a time of magic once again! Time to pick up our tired spirits through the power of Danielson.

Links: Danielson - Joyful Noise

Duane Pitre

Monolithic Youth

[CS; Sonic Meditations]

And the drone goes onnnnnnnnnn. Sonic Meditations couldn’t be a more apt label for Monolithic Youth; it sounds like a church organ floating through the sky, its keys being mashed by the wind as the notes swirl and curl up at the ends. Duane Pitre is one of those — you know, he used to be in a band I dismissed (Camera Obscura), but now he’s changed his ways and dedicated himself to the experimental, with releases on Important and other labels you’d expect (NNA, Basses Frequences). He’s a man of the drift cloth, if this li’l tape has anything to say about it, but we’re talking relentless drift, the sort that bounces around your head like a pixelated pinball long after you press “Stop” and go on with your day. The waters get a little choppy as Side B inches forward, but it’s all in the drone.

Links: Duane Pitre - Sonic Meditations

Cankun

Isalo Waterfall

[CS; Not Not Fun]

Vincent Caylet’s demise as Archers by the Sea (and as Pistil Cosmos, etc.) continues to confound, but not as much as Isalo Waterfall. The hyperactive Caribbean vibe of his Cankun persona has a strange attention span. Grabbing the ancient club vibes of Not Not Fun and ditching the ambient moodiness of his past projects, Isalo Waterfall becomes something not even past Cankun releases have hinted at. It’s a rabid mixtape of jittery guitar, 8-bit kitsch, and summertime nostalgia fed through an organ grinder. All that’s missing is the monkey in doll clothing soliciting change from astonished onlookers. This is a one-two punch of island breezes and cocained memories. It warbles and wobbles at an unpredictable pace, the bright lights of the boardwalk leading us to a carnival clouded by ganja and fueled by ecstasy. Midnight ravers and lunchtime stoners intermingling at a party with no time zone, just perpetual warmth under a bright eclipsing sun; something for everyone underneath the Isalo Waterfall.

Links: Cankun - Not Not Fun

Persistence In Mourning

Confessions of an American Cult

[CS; Land of Decay]

I was rifling through tapes like a madman, looking for something to give me a fright fix and BAM — I knew a Land of Decay release was what I needed. Persistence In Mourning grind it out à la Neurosis in an endurance test that couldn’t be more grueling if you fasted for 30 days and set yourself on fire. A. Lippoldt’s scream is transcendent; I was never a huge fan of Strife, but that dude sounds small compared to Lippy. A sunn 0))) guitar stack, piano figures, a revolving cast of voice-over talent — actually, these are likely news clips or old interviews — and a cloud of dust. Then comes the beyond-minimal synth interlude, then comes a slow build-up into more of the same. And in no way is that depressing. Later attempts at melody even work out circa Bloodlet’s “Seraphim,” alternating with the screaming in an audio game of cat and satan-mouse. I will admit the time has to be just right for Confessions of an American Cult to make sense. Technically, it should be 4 AM (or later; I’m writing this at 4:30), dark, dank, and you should be wasted on whatever floats your big flabby boat. Lippoldt’s here to fuck shit up. Let him.

Links: Land of Decay

Detainee

Vital Organs

[CS; Field Hymns]

World 1-1: Hero begins his quest to rid the world of evil while sparing the lives of the innocent. World 3-4: Hero has shed his cuckold status to become a distant love interest for our imprisoned heroine. World 5-3: Where the hell did an army of flying fishes come from? And what do they have to do with this mission? World 7-2: It’s become a test of survival and willpower; how much shit can one person stand in his quest to save a race of fungi. World 8-4: All that work for this? At least Vital Organs gave me the chiptune soundtrack needed to face the godly task of riding the world of an oversized lizard….what, this is a franchise? I have to do this again at least a dozen more times!

Links: Field Hymns

Blanche Blanche Blanche / Bruce Hart

“2wice 2wins” b/w “Songs for Music”

[CS; OSR]

I’m among the Blanche Blanche Blanche believers, but this Bruce Hart character is like a white-hot cypher to the synth-nutz. His compositions so squiggily, his swing so no-diggity, his work on the keys so dastardly — Zach Phillips delivers the combination of madness and dexterity this generation demands, both as the one-man song-squeezebox behind B. Hart and the backup for our lady Blanche³, who is a deadpan tart for all-time, by the way. If you’ve had sick, sick dreams of Ariel Pink felching that big Casio in the sky, you pretty much need to GET ON this one. No one loves a C60 JAM-ASS-PACKED with ideas more than Gumshoe, and “2wice 2wins” b/w “Songs for Music” is one of the more consistently exciting examples of artists taking full advantage of every minute of tape available. Just mash ‘Play’ and zone out for days. (I think the newspaper just came.) It’s all happening — that 7-inch on Feeding Tube led to a tape and LP on Night People, which is now leading to an LP on La Station Radar (a Cerb favorite, if you check the archives), and from there who fucking cares? People are listening.

Links: OSR

Billy Gomberg

Waiting in Poor Lighting

[CS; Avant Archive]

Michael Jantz’s (Black Eagle Child) Avant Archive boutique continues a hot streak of can’t-miss cassettes, which is where Billy Gomberg fits in. Waiting in Poor Lighting is a sinful blend of minor and major drone. Whether forcing anxiety (“Empty Fall”) through snake-tongued manipulations, embracing the fears of isolation (“Dust Taking Leave”) with successive aural mind fucks, or the calm after the breakdown (“Seams”), Gomberg’s versatile tape takes the place of feeling any real emotional attachment to the world. It’s a drug doctors should be pedaling in between Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy to those who are diseased with more symptoms than problems. Waiting in Poor Lighting will pounce on the hypochondriacs and cure them after intensive shock therapy. Consult with your Gomberg; if symptoms persist, visit the apothecary of Dr. Jantz’s Avant Archive for further evaluation.

Links: Billy Gomberg - Avant Archive
  

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In this ever-expanding musical world, there's a wealth of 7-inches, cassettes, CD-Rs, and objet d'art being released that, due to their limited quantities and adventurous sonics, go unnoticed by the public at large. Cerberus seeks to document the aesthetic of these home recorders and backyard labels. Email us here.