Josh Mason
The Symbiont [12-inch; Sunshine Ltd.]

My little leaf. It drifts down a river, its only propellant that of wind and current. A loose turn here, a sharp bend there. It lazily makes its way to a destination only it and the water know. The relationship is not contentious, but one of fruitful understand. The leaf, vibrant green, begins to dull around its edges. The river finds itself a strong provider. Together they are married in nature’s harmonious infinity. Where one ends, the other begins. Where one perishes, the other shall live. Both giving and receiving nourishment. There is no discussion of where the river goes or how the leaf arrived in the midst of its grasp. They symbolically hold hands, navigating unexpected torrents and territorial animals together. They are aware that death awaits them both; one much sooner than the other. It does not concern them. Theirs is a life lived. A record as clear as the mountain stream on which is it whisked. A guitar as fragile and lifted as the leaf on which it strums. Let us not be concerned with the beginning or the end. What we have is now. An elegant life, the music of our surroundings, and the wherewithal to let it envelope us.

Links: Josh Mason - Sunshine Ltd.

Brr

Brr

[Book + 7-inch; Itchy Roof]

THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING THING EVER! I’m having flashbacks to read-alongs with Marmaduke and Charlie Brown. Sadly, they’ve been lost in the gaping hole of adolescence to adult hood, when the seemingly obsolete ends up lost in the permanent vortex of too many moves. Thankfully artist Ryan Dodgson and musician Moshe Rozenberg have brought back the turntable read-and-play. When you hear the chime, turn the page, only here it’s the unplugging of an electronic animal or the mangled and overworked garbage disposal. The geometric pink art is magnificent; reminiscent of the doodles of Chad VanGaalen, Daniel Johnston and late 60s Looney Tunes as represented by abstract shapes rather than animal husks. Though an obtuse story, it is one to follow if for nothing more than active participation–it’s all art ever asks and the creative duo have made it accessible and fun. Rozenberg’s music will eventually steal your full attention, a combination of Hella and R. Stevie Moore in its bombastic, quick and quirky sputterings. It’s all over the place, much like Dodgson’s beautifully devious art and prose. It’ll set you back $25 to enjoy this but if you want to experience a lost storytelling art influenced by so much greatness (without ripping it off), Brr will sit you down and blow your mind with every needle drop and turned page.

Links: Itchy Roof

Zachary Cale

Love Everlasting

[7-inch; Dull Knife]

I’ve been lusting after Dull Knife for awhile; finally the seal has been broken, and this one’s a damn doozy, delivered by a much-appreciated old hand. Zachary Cale is one of the only alt-country/Americana artists I bother to follow, and he hasn’t let me down yet. Don’t even get me started on that Illuminations LP; the guy has done his homework. “Love Everlasting,” as Dennis Green might say, is what I thought it was, namely a tight, straight-ahead country song that sheds all un-pleasantries associated with the genre. “Love” sounds like it could have been recorded during Lennon’s lost weekend, but that’s almost giving it short shrift. This is a powerful, slow shuffle toward the sun as death stalks from the shade, constructed of layered acoustic guitar, distant electric-guitar flourishes and backup vocals, bass that propels the ship forward, and drums simpler than a game of tic-tac-toe. Cale has done it before, and he’s doing it again; don’t let the sun go down on this heavy-ass 7-inch before you get a copy.

Links: Zachary Cale - Dull Knife

The Nubs

I Don’t Need You (Cause I Got Me) / Dogs

[7-inch; Last Laugh]

The Nubs should be around today; they could teach these pukes how to freak. At least that’s the impression left by “Dogs,” the Silver Apples-style flipside of this revelatory little single pressed on bulky wax. A hypnotic bassline and staccato organ chops lubricate a subtly powerful drum attack, not to mention the on-point vocals. Quite the psych workout, and, as my daughter just said, “That one’s got a great beat!” Such an odd curio to have gone undiscovered for so long, not only because it’s so of-quality but because it sounds like it was brought to life in the 1960s, not 1979. The A-Side, “I Don’t Need You (Cause I Got Me),” approaches the essence of the same decade from a completely different point of view, more of a raging psych-rocker than a plodding space vehicle. It’s a remarkably sharp ‘n’ snappy tune, a lot like the Nuggets cuts we’ve all heard, injected with a punkish energy. Anything but the typical single one might stumble upon from the late 1970s and a testament to how much life there is to be found in the cracks and crevices of scenes all over the map.

Links: Last Laugh

Robert Turman

Macro

[CS; Fabrica]

There’s a ringing in my ears. The left is flickering, picking up the faint sounds of the world reanimating. The right, well it may be out of commission. It’s stuck on an infinite loop, the cochlea a grinding chuff but of little use. This explosion of industrial sound; the rattle of war as brothers once bonded by peace are now torn asunder by mistrust and obstructed by smoke. It’s attrition and though my right ear may never regain its strength, its pulsations are comfort at night in a camp as hollow and horrific as one can imagine. There are the noises of the dying. There are the cries of the weak. There are the beasts of the wild, men turned feral by what man has sown. But the gears are still churning. Their relentless clank never letting up. We clock in, poise our bayonets, and wait for the howl and stampede of 10,000 high-heeled boots. It’s all just a beat to the docile ringing in my ear. We fight because we have stayed loyal to Robert Turman, his anarchistic music breaking us away from the savages of a world too eager to conform. It began at a nameless award ceremony, the hapless pop starlet engorged by fame exploding across the crowded theater. Now we fight off the beasts of celebrity, starved for the relevance and power taken away by wantonness. The music machine still quacks but we stand in the trenches, hands full of Macro to blast back the pack before we’re all callously swallowed by fashion police and paparazzi.

Links: Robert Turman - Fabrica

Bad Indians

Sun People

[7-inch; Urinal Cake]

In the vein of a more psychedelic Black Lips (we’re talking the full monty; organs, early Floyd, Nuggets), Bad Indians shine like a goddamn diamond via “Sun People,” a 7-inch EP on which all four members sing a tune. Not surprisingly, the chick wins out, being a coy combo of Nancy Sinatra and Amy Linton (of The Aislers Set, mind you), but each cut caresses the ear in an affirming way, the boys’ tracks adhering to the tradition of The Seeds (“The Other Side”), Bay Area psych (title track), and Fresh & Onlys (“Hate”). Love the organ, love the AMT-ish cover art, love the ’60s worship, love the K.I.S.S. formula drums, love the camaraderie of each member throat-crafting a tune, love-love-love the idea that a somewhat hammy psych band can do all of this and still rock the boat in the way Bad Indians do, skillfully avoiding the land mines scattered all over the battlefield of their mode of expression. Ka-BOOM!

Links: Bad Indians - Urinal Cake

Komodo Haunts

Dance on the Serpent’s Neck

[CS; Jehu & Chinaman]

We smoked a joint before hopping into the hot springs about 60 miles East of our home in Fairbanks, Alaska. It’s 34 degrees below zero, February, and we’re outdoors in the pool with glowing strings of tube lights beneath our feet, green and red and blue, and we’re surrounded by huge rocks bordering the pool. Steam drifts into and around our nostrils, and then further up into the evergreens that tower above. The chill of a breeze drifts briefly by, freezing whatever water droplets are still stuck to the tips of our noses. My best friend is there with me and we’re 16. He’s telling me about how the Japanese travel to where we are just to conceive their children because it’s considered good luck to do so beneath the Aurora Borealis. I cock my head back and notice that it’s up there now, and in the dizziness of having a frozen brain and an overheated heart, the unbalance makes the light shimmer even brighter than usual. Iridescent, abalone colors wave like the flag of an alien nation over our heads, a beacon straight to our brains, calling us forward. Our hearts beating faster, pounding harder like drums in anticipation for something we’re not quite sure about, but it feels right, and good, and celebratory. And we are in a good place. It is 34 degrees below zero and we are in the very best place on Earth, and for that moment it seems, the cosmos.

Links: Komodo Haunts - Jehu & Chinaman

Samantha Glass

Rising Movements

[CS; Constellation Tatsu]

I grow weary of the synthesized world. It is beginning to crumble as a two-bit (four-bit, 8-bit) fool clutters up the shelves with unrealized ideas. There is no buck to be made, but the idea that personality and reputation can be forged in a “scene” has led to the muddling. Yet a handful of vanguards have ignored the cattle call in favor of forging ahead rather than falling behind, back into the same traps that muted synth for the better part of two decades. Rising Movements, beyond its titular display, is the apropos shot of nature needed to move forward. Each movement is a re-imagination of “the” movement’s past successes, riffing on the originals with sentimentality and forward thought. These are songs! They progress beyond rudimentary loops and ideas. These are not the work of someone hearing music from a digital ear but of a person able to add human depth and asymmetry to the mechanical. As synth begins a new decay, its half-life coming to an end for many, there will be survivors such as Rising Movements that will forge the new.

Links: Samantha Glass - Constellation Tatsu

Shooting Guns / Cult Of Dom Keller

Down And Out In Detroit / Painted Skulls

[7-inch; Leaning Trees]

What a curious release, one side dedicated to a fairly harmless stoner-doom jam (Shooting Guns’), the other (Cult Of Dom Keller’s) splayed out in post-punk agony like Interpol, A Place To Bury Strangers, Deerhunter, and Liars arguing over who gets to blow their heads off first then jamming the demons away in a convincing end-flourish. I prefer the latter, as it’s solidly produced, is a more comfortable listen, and makes more sense gracing the folds of an expensive vinyl pressing (it’s even conceivable CoDK could get some airplay someday). Yet something about that heavy-ass Shooting Guns jam lingers. It’s sort of like that first Pelican EP; you think to yourself, “Well, I coulda done that,” but you fuckin’ didn’t. And you never will. It’s like that, but with a much more aggressive instrumental posture that flows and grows in stature with each flailing repetition. Some of the Level Plane bands ended up trying to approximate this churning Southern sound, albeit with vocalists crowding the mix, back in the day and failed to bring it across, so it’s fulfilling to hear it receive a revival here. Who needs singers anyway?

Links: Leaning Trees

Brute Heart

Wildfire

[7-inch; Water Wing]

Being a first-time-listener-longtime-caller of Brute Heart, I tried to temper my expectations, and turns out I didn’t need to. Playing bass-drums-guitar in this day and age is a feat in itself; to do so with the originality and fluidity of this fledgling act is that much more convincing. It’s almost a minimal, rhythmic, Stereolab-esque feel laced with more spiky in-D elements, a la Dischord’s lovely Evens, and wrapped in a sheath of echo. At first I rued the existence of a remix of “Wildfire” on the flip, as that normally doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, but this re-imagining works on the strength of its alternate phrasing (not to mention the allure of the original product). It might have even benefited BH to render the redux the original product; it seems much more limber this way, despite the extra layer of gauze. Definitely will be keeping my eye peeled for more from this group.

Links: Brute Heart - Water Wing

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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.