Jensen Serf Company
Electric Sister [7-inch; Daddy Kool]

Firstly, introduce me to the vamp on the cover. Secondly, stuff me in your cramped garage and play me a tune. Thirdly, let me rediscover the coolness of a brick-and-mortar record store making records and selling them. This is the world I wanted in the mid-90s, all covered in large flannel, sweaters and baggy jeans on a scrawny 5’ 7”, 28-inch waist. Gals with pink hair, a rebel band, and a store in which to loiter. But this ain’t no flashback. [It ain’t no disco either]. It’s grungy garage rock with none of the sentimental attachments, just hard-hitting, come-and-go action that bounces off the walls. If I trip the light fantastic back in time, it’s to my own lousy high school band who filled parents’ basements and Fraternal Order of Police lodges with four-sided din. Jensen Serf Company is far more adept and cool than I ever was, so it’s why I want to hang out with Electric Sister over and over again. Or at least be a hanger-on. It’s coolness by proxy. I won’t ever land a girl with pink hair and the ability to play satisfying garage rock, but by knowing her, I’m seemingly cooler. Ah, who am I kidding? I’m just writing about this, not playing it. I’ll never be cool, no matter how ill-fitting the clothing, how floppy the hair, or whatever narcotic or liquor bottle I sneak. At least JSC will comfort me, and so will my modern white bred suburban broke lifestyle without the cirrhosis.

Links: Daddy Kool

Last Year’s Men

“Clawless Paw” b/w “What I Can Get”

[7-inch; Sophomore Lounge]

There’s a lot of garage-rock out there. I prefer to pick and choose with this stuff, as there’s a lot of overlap. Luckily there are labels like Slovenly (which specializes in it and little else) and Sophomore Lounge (which specializes in everything and nothing, in a good way) to guide the way. Last Year’s Men offer yet another forceful argument for this grimy muck in the recent tradition of Hell Shovel, The Beets, Thee Oh Sees/Ty Seegs/etc., and while they bring nothing new to the table, they yell for their food so loud you have to serve them. “Clawless Paw” is a fuzzbuster, slow and eerie and almost Jawbox-y, but much heavier and raunchier, while “What Can I Get” reminds me of The Makers and Lyres. No reason not to give Last Year’s Men the chance if this is your bag, by dint of the A-side alone. If not, move along; nothing to see here.

Links: Sophomore Lounge

Nephila

Subcutaneous Memory

[CS; Monorail Trespassing]

Nephila (Shannon A. Kennedy), on Side A of Subcutaneous Memory, is like one of the players from Amiina tinkling bells on the peak of a foggy mountaintop, or Woodpecker Wooliams stripped of three layers and shunned into near-silence, or Hoor-Paar-Kraat… period. Her small-scale dunes of lo-fi heroin are so subtle as to be relegated to a distant chime, so it’s best to listen attentively in the dark, perhaps by candlelight, or maybe even under the covers of your childhood bed. Meanwhile, Side B’s sinister strings should have to register as sex offenders; “Venus in Furs” is so far away, but I feel like I can kiss her memory when these drones take full form. I prefer the cozy cocoon-cave of Side A, with its wintery fix, but the first half of the flip is all Ninni Morgia, Che Chen, and Silvia Kastel, scary and loving, before the tide comes in and the ugliness is washed away. That’s acceptable too.

Links: Monorail Trespassing

Brad Heyne & Josh Mason

Vapor

[CS; Sunshine LTD]

How Brad Heyne & Josh Mason will avoid allusions to Tim Hecker, who knows? Vapor takes such a journey, tapped into the piano drones and odd timbres of many clever souls, yet it’s wholly its own piece of precision. Heyne’s compositions drive the tempo, barren piano that is patient and gorgeous. Mason messes it all up with static, manipulation, and production, until the whole thing is but a fragile experiment in gratification. Vapor takes its time, waltzing in and out of the room like a toddler playing with space. A note will fade as others barge in without care. The silence is deafening, until a strand of distortion or a gentle drone invades the serenity, bringing its own calming effect. Vapor is a string of comparisons: Hakobune, Earn, Tim Hecker, Rameses III, Richard Skelton. But it is none of these. For all its similarities, it will be the differences that pile on and change your habits. They are minor, but they are worth the hunt. Gingerly chase down the frolicking child, hide behind a curtain or a doorjamb to catch a hint of genuine behavior.

Links: Sunshine LTD

Aqua Nebula Oscillator

“Om Na Mio” b/w “Freak Out”

[7-inch; Who Can You Trust]

In a post-Comets On Fire world, a release like “Om Na Mio” b/w “Freak Out” would seem to be commonplace, but this is an advance even further into the abyss of psyched-out freak-jamming. It’s like getting caught in a basement full of cobwebs, Aqua Nebula Oscillator playing a super-soulful brand of post-blues as you struggle and wish you had Sting (the sword, not the dick hole) to cut yourself free. As Chris Weber says about a dozen times during each NBA game he calls, “You gotta love” the way ANO carry themselves. Lots of “wah-wah” (and we’re not talking George H.), mysterious and sinister motives lying in wait behind a veil of fuzz, a bassist who thinks on his feet more than most, a drummer who, for all we know, could be pounding away; all we can hear are titters most of the time, and that’s just fuckin’ dandy. Monotone vocals act as another instrument more than anything, so it’s a good thing that wizardly flute keeps popping in for a quick blow. Jazz that shit up, yo. Indie-500 copies, which means 10 of you, per state, can have one. Go ahead and fight it out, boys.

Links: Who Can You Trust

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'

Lockbox

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

Mutilation

[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
  

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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.