Lichen Gumbo
Earthborn Jinzo [CS; Avant Archive]

Like any resident, I’ve grown tired with America. We do nothing original anymore, often outsourcing our own production to other nations who do it better (or return it to us with ungodly amounts of lead and children’s sweat etched in for added revenge and guilt). Despite the many awesome ‘muricans such as Kid Rock and Three Doors Down, look at how our youth fawn over Justin Bieber and One Direction. THEY AREN’T ‘MURICAN, AND THEY DO IT BETTER! While no one does it better than Kid Rock’s beer belly and lazy lifts of Skynyrd, Lichen Gumbo deliver that good old folk rock twee freedom with Earthborn Jinzo. An electrified bowl of former USA gumption served over a steaming pile of European gourmand, we are reminded that we just aren’t producing the same awesomeness we once were (I KNOW KID ROCK, ‘cept you and Rick Rubin!). And though there is no Detroit Rock City and Bullgods bawitdabaing throughout Earthborn Jinzo, it’s a humbling rock ‘n’ roll far more fulfilling than any empty chart-seeking missile or outer space synth-out with the keys duct-taped down. Rock is about borrowing from all cultures, and despite the hinterland of Helsinki playing host to Lichen Gumbo, their N’awlins stew of ragtag rock is worth at least one Schreiber “shit cat” and the success of two northern rock rappers appropriating southern culture.

Links: Avant Archive

Gnod

5th Sun

[7-inch; Trensmat]

Curious about Gnod? Allow me to set the mood: a methodical pace sets the tone for blurry rock, as deep, churning guitars melt over string-bending bass on Side A. Psychic Ills mashed atop Religious Knives, or Guardian Alien probing Jennifer Gentle? You do the math; Side B is more of the same, and it all adds up. It’s like a vacuum is sucking all the sounds up, as they’re just out of reach (not to mention crackly like oat bran) no matter how high you turn it up. Some would call it lo-fi, others no-fi; I just call it a damn-good way to gargle away the day’s disappointments. This is an import. Not only that, it’s just about sold out at the source. You know what to do.

Links: Trensmat

Cédric Stevens

Stardust / Moon Loop

[7-inch; Discrepant]

We all seem to be saying lately, “Yes there are too many drone/ambient bands right now, but give this artist a chance anyway.” And I’ll be double-dipped if I ain’t about ta’ ask the same-a’ you: Forgive me for foisting yet another zone-out onto you, but Cédric Stevens is legit and long-tenured in several persuasions, and thus deserves your allegiance. Alas, his avenue of choice — psychotropic drone-drift — doesn’t usually work well on a 7-inch playing field. And I’ll admit the A-side doesn’t quite get it done. “Monsoon Loop,” however, is convinced it’s from space, and I believe it. Sucking in its gravitational pull while watching a History Channel (or some such shit) special on asteroids is like watching Cocaine Cowboys and nose-bombing a mound of soft, fluffy blow. MMMMMMHMMM! Very heavyweight wax too, for the record (get it?).

Links: Discrepant

Brian Green

Transit to the Corner

[CS; YDLMIER]

Every time I took the bus while living in Seattle, it was its own mini adventure. Any public transportation aficionado has their own stories of weirdness and delight, but my favorite was the night bus from downtown out to my apartment in Issaquah. It was a relatively quiet bus, but it had its moments of community college kids and drunk baseball fans relentlessly chatting as some droned masterwork played in my ears in half-sleep. Transit to the Corner is a fond remembrance of those rides, voices cluttering a wafting melody for 30 minutes of comforting nostalgia. With public announcements, the roar of tires and tracks, and static speech becoming part of the new-formed composition, Brian Green has eliminated the middle men. Although it has since become a strange tribute to nostalgia since I’ve left Seattle, it’s also a functioning piece of art. It morphs with every listen, the solitude of melody pairing with the observant isolation of public transport. I keep returning to Transit on the Corner, not for what it conjures, but for what it is: a slice of our lives given a bit of reflection and a soothing soundtrack.

Links: YDLMIER

Hot Lunch

Killer Smile

[7-inch; Who Can You Trust?]

Jesus. Hot Lunch formed directly from Grand Funk Railroad’s nutsack, if this wah-wah-bitty exercise in 1970s rock excess is any indication. Every few years, a SHIT band or two comes along, and all the critics who say they sound like this band actually does, so it’s nice to hear the real thing after all these years of being disappointed by it all. (And just to be clear, Zen Guerrilla, recently covered by TMT’s DeLorean, were one of the disappointments.) Going in with fuzzy guitar with a smooth aftertaste, rippin’ solos, a bass player who can keep things movin’ in the meantime, lyrics/vocals that ride a fine line between taste and Chris Robinson and still coming out relatively unscathed? I think we’ve got a winner! Hot Lunch, in other words, don’t do boozy rock like those old guys you know ‘round the corner do. They might get huge someday and betray us all, but for now, they cock out with their rocks out, and that’s strangely okay.

Links: Who Can You Trust?

Le Révélateur

Horizon Fears

[CS; NNA Tapes]

While all the cool kids whip themselves into a frenzy over Roger Tellier-Craig’s old band (GY!BE), cooler kids get jazzed about a less visible RT-C outfit (in various states of defunct) and the coolest kids pretend to not even know about him. Those so embryonic in their coolness are pushing themselves deeper into the womb of Le Révélateur’s Horizon Fears. There’s little elbow room, due to the electronic cell-splitting of synth and sound, but it’s cozy. Before the need to nurse our coolness with heaps of mother’s milk and awkward record-store crate-digging, we are at the apex of cool: we sit in a belly, protruding and intruding on everything with the swagger and ease of Henry Winkler, with Tellier-Craig’s esophageal rumbles delivering healthy nutrients and vital blood platelets to our growing bodies. But the light grows brighter. We begin to descend and feel the earthquake of flesh and muscle thrust us out of comfort. Ours is not a fear of the horizon, but of the vertical. Yet we’ve been given the guidebook of cool. Once we enter our new realm, there will be none cooler. We will have all the knowledge given to us by RT-C. Our supply will dwindle, but never to levels too dangerous to be sucked into uncool vortexes. We have the vacuum of Horizon Fear to maintain until we are of age to complete the cycle ourselves. That is so cool.

Links: NNA Tapes

Babe, Terror

Knights

[12-inch w/ etching; Phantasy Sound]

Babe, Terror has gone from sending me an anonymous CD-R to my blog to putting out one of the most aesthetically pleasing 12-inch vinyl etchings (with music running down the middle of the etched side! And that side plays backward!) I’ve ever seen. Bravo, brother from another continent, and more kudos to Phantasy Sound for being his much-needed audio outlet. Now that I’m done talkin’-up the visual side, let’s get to the best part of all: Babe, Terror’s complete lack of genre and continuity. In some ways, you can link his first few releases to what’s happening on Knights, but mostly I feel it’s a big-time pivot for a restless talent. Some of tracks like “Savagestic” almost impinge on juke/chop/screw territory, and all I can do is hope he doesn’t go too far too soon. For now, it’s all good: Beats, swirled half-memories crystallized in a glowing soda-pop machine, samples melted and mutated by a musical magnifying glass. More evidence of Babe, Terror’s puristic touch, his absurdly mainline connection to the godz. I mention Black Dice/Eric Copeland almost defensively, as if theirs was the last music that gave my brain such reason for pause, but that couldn’t be, could it? No, there are major parallels here, especially where E.C. is concerned. It would be a lonely, frosty world without artists like Babe-arooni over here, pointing out the most drastic of our sins and scrawling graffiti all over the inside of our skulls. YES!

Links: Babe, Terror - Phantasy Sound

Window Twins

Wish

[CS; Crash Symbols]

I almost forgot what pop sounded like. Not the kind being relentlessly streamed from every corner of the internet, but the sort created when people get together, play a variety of instruments, and embrace melody outside of any formula. Window Twins is now that entity. I’ve never bought into Cohen (The Fresh & Onlys) or Bernson (Exray’s) before — perhaps due to a bit of close-mindedness or a lack of palpable difference between Indie Act #532 and #533. Wish is wholly recognizable. It’s warm. If it were an article of clothing, it’d be a chunky Nick Drake scarf worn for purpose rather than fashion. More important, this is boombox ready. It’s a $5 tape that is just crying for a neighborhood blasting, to wake up the Williamsburg elite from their art comas. Art is often best suited for popular manifestation, but fear not bourgeoisie elitists — Crash Symbols is equally adept at meeting the demands of every contender and pretender with a vinyl edition. Wish is certainly turntable appropriate, but more than that, it’s noble in its 1980s Billboard 200 chart-chasing. Seriously, “Different Light” could share space with Hall & Oates, Godley & Crème, or Ashford and Simpson. Cohen & Bernson… you’ve made me love you. Wish, you rascally minx!

Links: Crash Symbols

Wolf Fluorescence

We’re So Glad You’re Home

[CS; Fabrica]

At one time, a generation frowned upon the nonsense of Enya. New Age was too plain, too boring to be considered artistic or entertaining when crunch, power, and distortion ruled the airwaves. We were naïve, burying our heads in the sand to a world that was beyond midnight MTV infomercials in between Alternative Nation and late night replays of Loveline. But here we stand, nearly 20 years later ensconced in the Buddhist trappings of drone and ambient, captured in our own nostalgia for Enya, Zamfir, or any two-bit existentialist that we happened upon in the radiant TV glow of nighttime. Ross Devlin has fallen for the trap and dressed it up as Wolf Fluorescence. The child in me couldn’t be happier, dreaming of summers spent in front of a fan and a television, watching B-grade videos in the still of a trailer that was an oven. As I dreamed of the idyllic life embraced by We’re So Glad You’re Home in a second-rate sweat lodge — a warm midsummer day lessened by a cooling breeze and a piece of cake and perhaps a tall glass of lemonade — I was also living my own idyllic life, too jaded by grunge and Clear Channel to truly understand it. Devlin allows me a chance, not at reliving the past, but at redeeming it. I don’t like to go back and visit those moments, but in the still of the night when the air is thick and the fan is running, I can’t help but reflect proudly on those days. Now I can do it any hour of the day with the sentimental (and perhaps slightly sappy, but who gives a damn?) warmth of Wolf Fluorescence.

Links: Fabrica

Kicking Spit

Reality Dropout

[CS; Tankcrimes]

Kicking Spit ain’t what I’ve come to expect of Tankcrimes, and I’ll just come right out and say it: Most of you, if you read this limited-edish column, won’t be reading it to discover musics such as this. However, that’s exactly why I’d like to shed a little light on this hard-workin’ motherfucker. “Reality Dropout” is the first of two tracks repeated on both sides, and it’s a strangely reassuring swipe at Barlow/Dino-Jr. that doesn’t provide quite enough squelch to accommodate its earnestness. The presentation is nothing to sneeze at though, gritty and lo-fi in a manner many indie vets in their forties will appreciate. “Gone” lets metal cut into its purity a smidgen and is less convincing, despite the fact that it contains the freak-out that would have been so welcome circa “Reality Dropout.” This brand of rock isn’t my bag these days; if it’s yours, by all means pursue it.

Links: Tankcrimes
  

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.