Horrible Houses
Family Tapes Vol. 1 [CS; Happenin']

First off, Horrible Houses wins in songs-I-can’t-include-on-a-non-existent-mixtape-about-my-daughter. But the song (NAME WITHHELD) is so funkin’ upbeat (keepin’ it clean for the kiddies) that what doesn’t exist will now appear through the modern devices of a tape deck and old-fashioned record buttons. Which is the fun of the rest of this tape: classic lo-fi garage jangle further degraded by countless sharings as one song is lifted from mixtape to mixtape until it’s a warped Peter Bjorn and John popism that is still catchy in its mangled state. When you realize Horrible Houses come from Sweden, it’s even more kismet. The land of dark metal and buxom blondes dealing out Americana in heavy AM pop doses. The music for a nation of rebels, drunks, trollops, socialites, unctuous gossip bitches (sorry kiddos, can’t always keep it clean), gingers, racists, and sexists being sung to by the perfect species — the blend of light and dark. This isn’t really happening/This is really happening.

Links: Happenin'


Archangel Heat

[CS; Animal Image Search]

It’s “back-then” and you’re walking around at the YMCA summer carnival. All them hologram circle sunglasses and flimsy stove-top hats. Fucking 3D alien t-shirts. That guy’s eye is all whacked out, and you think about the rave he may have went to last weekend. The cart spins fast on an up-and-down track, the DJ-booth/ride-operator plays a (Techno Remix) of “Bam Bam,” and Danny hangs onto the rail while his feel flap in the air in front of your face. Balloons pop and rings ting off all the bottle necks greased for-the-win. For a split second, you only hear the sound of all the rides creaking, and panic sets in, thinking the whole place is falling apart. But it already has been falling apart, only in a way-way fun way. Heat mixes with pressure and someone hands you a sip-too-much of something. Night of the Living Dead vibes creep out as the sun sets along the community center roof top. Danny is throwing up on his older brother’s back while you eat an elephant ear and look at the sneakers walking past. Holographic Jordans walk across a cracked faux glass framed cast photo of 90210. Chunks of hair are stuck in the bars swinging the big wheel cart, and at the top you make out with someone. Eyes open. This whole situation glorifies the feeling of lovely terror.

Links: Lockbox - Animal Image Search

Father Finger

Father Finger

[CS; Not Not Fun]

Father Finger are redolent of a lot of viciously bad acts, yet fall victim to none of the pitfalls of the gal-and-a-beat-machine rigamarole. Their self-titled cassette on Not Not Fizzie is so bright and ambitious you could argue FF belong on a different platform altogether, like Sir Dougeth Hauser MD or Blanche Blanche Blanche. Sure that’s a beat machine pumpin’ out the ace base, but it’s high-octane and gallops like a steed over the audio mountaintop. Sure you’ve heard a lot of synths lately, but these are more neon-green than what you’re used to, and you’ll get lost in the layers besides. Think video-game composers, house/disco, Labrador Recs, glow sticks, your boombox melting into the hot sidewalk, and an electronickz club you may or may not have snipped some rug at in the late 1990s. Hot.

Links: Not Not Fun

Anwar Sadat


[CS; Sophomore Lounge]

You may look at Mutilation and wonder many things. Its appearance in paper packaging is meager and minimalist. The black tape inside has no markings. The band’s choice to use the name of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat is ironic yet strong symbolism to the recent Arab Spring and its quiet Western aftermath. But if you don’t give a fuck about rebellion — doing what is right in the face of awful odds — than Mutilation isn’t going to sit well with you. This black tape is but two songs (one per side). It messes your day, because you have to keep flipping the tape over, and these songs are but gnat length. It’s barely five minutes of music, but you’ll keep changing sides just as you keep swatting away the flies, just as you kept watch over Twitter when Egyptians recalled the peaceful side of Sadat in the face of Mubarak’s iron rule. Maybe you just need some hard-hitting punk and have OCD that this tape will placate.

Links: Sophomore Lounge

drcarlsonalbion and The Hackney Lass

Modern English Folklore Volume One: Hackney

[2x7-inch; Wormhole]

Listening to Modern English Folklore Volume One: Hackney and looking at its packaging epidermis, I realize I don’t have enough gatefold 2x7-inches; I also, frankly, don’t have enough Earth records (and I have both the infamous Bible 2xLP and the two most-recent double albums), considering how towering a presence Dylan Carlson has been all these years, particularly in the Pacific Northwest (land of the eternal cloud, former home to one Gumshoe). He’s gone Heavy, he’s gone Mystical, he’s gone climax-free post-rock, and now, he’s gone straight English, providing a supple bed for readings of folk tales by… why, a comely-voiced lass, that’s who! Releases such as this aren’t your typical listening experience. You’re not going to pop this in while you and your buddies prefunk or whatever; Modern English is better imbibed during a weekend morning on the back porch, when turns like “The blade slipping in the blood” can be reflected upon without the distractions of life to burden them. I question whether metal freaks will have time for this, but those well-versed in Earth’s last few releases shouldn’t have any qualms. More of a flowing, float-y ferry ride this time around, guitars making light impressions while the fog provides the bulk of the experience, save, obviously, the lass, whose tales surpass a book-on-tape slog by dint of the lyrical thrust of the material. At this point, Carlson would have to foul up pretty badly to lose my absolute trust, and yet appreciation of his work is never obligatory. He earns it, as he does here and did then and will up there.

Links: drcarlsonalbion and The Hackney Lass - Wormhole



[CS; Watery Starve]

Nature vs. Nurture. It’s all I can think about when listening to Lynn Fister’s Aloonaluna project. Am I a product of my environment or a product of the ebb and flow of the world? It’s even in the name — loon(ey) and luna(r); the magnetic push and pull of French philosophers and dead Greeks. Tomes of knowledge condensed into the poppy drone of Mythologies. Fister doing more than pulling off clever flicks of her musical wrist. Where does nature end and nurture begin? Hillary Clinton is whispering “It takes a village” with the Billboard enthrall of an Oprah audience coming down. It’s a gleeful argument played out on tape, Fister’s imagination and wherewithal too cunning for but one splotch of blocked critique. So I close my eyes and decide to settle the debate. I hear familiar themes, not just those of the existential, but those of long-gone Nickelodeon and PBS children’s programming. “Canyon” is a sad man who’s one poorly-conceived-spacesuit away from being Secret City, “Horse Tentacles and Coral” a strange new beat mashing up Pinwheel and Ghostwriter. With this, I’m taken back to summer nights in a sardine can known as a trailer, the delights of playing 8-bit games lit by the headlights of a car through the slit windows of the basement. I dream of running through thickets of weeds and tall grass, being chased by angry hornets after stumbling upon their discarded nest. I am no closer than I was before Aloonaluna. Guess I best flip it over and start from the beginning.

Links: Aloonaluna - Watery Starve

Woodpecker Wooliams and Golden Cup meet Love Cult

In Russia

[CS; Full of Nothing]

If I’d have known this year was going to be so blessed, I would have baked a cake. (Baked a cake; baked a cake.) Not sure how these folks — Woodpecker Wooliams and Golden Cup meet Love Cult — came together and whether this actually occurred In Russia (crowd noise tells me it happened live SOMEwhere), but it’s like CVLTS birthed a chosen one with a mind full of choppy ambitions and liquid courage, a.k.a. FUCKING ROWDY. So many of these tapists don’t understand, but when they do, and there’s nearly a half-hour to stretch out in, it’s one of life’s great pleasures. Woodpecker Wooliams, nee Gemma, is in demand right now on several fronts (new record out on Robot Elephant, yadda yadda), and should be. She is the Julianna Barwick of think-drone, a multi-talented soundstress whose early explorations have struck a chord with people who want to take more away from this “drone” thing than mere slow shifts and buzzkill. Not sure how long In Russia will be around, if at all, so ground floor, get in on, you, why don’t?

Links: Full of Nothing

Dead Luke

God Takes LSD

[CS; Moon Glyph]

I remember the excitement of firing up “Marijuana Vietnam” from Lotion in the summer of 95, believing my mission toward modern psychedelia was beginning. How disappointed to find an alterna-pop joint rather than the napalm haze of the next Mazzy Star. It’s been nearly two decades, and a lot has changed: retroactive discovery, generations of cassette labels and dazed bands tapped into the cosmic Zen of fearless distortion and long drags. Which is where we find Dead Luke. But that isn’t to say Dead Luke couldn’t also have been found hidden deep in Lotion circa 95. God Takes LSD is an adventurous and accessible romp of psych, drone, and pop. It begins heavy, weighed down to the couch by fog. But as the stoner drops the sheet, the tape takes a magnificent turn through the spectrum of sound. I’m invaded by the spirit of post-synth; spaceship God descending not for the Rapture, but for the stage show. Suddenly, I find myself in the backroom with Anton Newcombe and Peter Hayes reconciling over jangly guitars and smoky harmonies. But it all comes back to the bong and the afterglow, the room reverberating. Eyes shoot open and here we are, on the edge of the bed, and “Marijuana Vietnam” is silently skipping on the turntable. Justin dies at the end.

Links: Moon Glyph

Various Artists

Goldrush Companion Tape

[CS; http://goldrushmusicfest.com/]

Trudging through the muck and stuck now: boots left behind, and feet can turn raw for this personal need. Need for that rush. Every single event on stage, through sound of speakers with wires and giving that live acoustic echo. The experience is overwhelming and all that is stable is a business card-sized program. The people surrounding the area are the same in silence, but different in nod. It feels like fun if fact was alive and living was intensely accentuated through performance. And performance of something so fucking familiar, but very distant, still sustaining that live crunch. Reeling through it all, bodies sway as though they’re damp and washing cars, shining from the sound that provides warmth through the cracks. There is where it’s found. Again in that sound. Perpetuating something more than just paper/coin. It’s brilliant yet sullen, only polished when necessary, and brings life to faces in strife. On rings on bands on wrapping around ears, hanging while poised. It’s jewelry of the mind. Shuffled through ages of mistake and “Nah, I ain’t into it that much, yo.” But at that moment, when it’s found and has dusted away the webs in your head, you’ve found what you’re looking for: sheer sound surrounding sifted sight shining through.

[Full disclosure: TMT writer Strauss is the co-founder of Goldrush]

Links: http://goldrushmusicfest.com/

Ross Major

Horatio Hymns

[12-inch; Haute Magie]

Haute Magie, mystery label — not because I don’t know who they are, but because I never know what to expect from them — dropped Horatio Hymns on us in a year packed with gimmicks and hyper-programmed, mega-digital constructions less human than a Terminator. Ross Major, along the lines of Mason Lindhal, John Fahey, Six Organs, and Jack Rose, spaces out on his six-string somethin’ fierce in an intensely personal way. Parts of Horatio Hymns also make room for Jarboe/Earth, along with rare but appreciated exploratory voyages into the black hole of noise that many of today’s long-form guitar virtuosos fail to trespass. This phylum of Major’s work is all about Nels Cline and giving heed to outsized soundclouds (yep, it’s a word too). Then there’s also this other side of him that reminds me most of obscure Bay Area act Pregnant, sampled voices atop hazy pickin’. Side B yields the first sign of Ross Major: Singer, and he does a yeoman’s job, bare-backing his voice atop thoughtful, isolated leads. When the pan flute rears its death’s head, you get ready to hide in the bushes, but no need: This is “folk” in the best sense of the word, psychedelic at times even, though neither tag do Horatio Hymns ultimate justice. There are too many other forces at work here, as the almost black-metal “Magus” attests. Best leave the labelin’ up to yo’ brain, young blood! The gods approve.

Links: Haute Magie

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