Looks Realistic
Where Does It Come From? [VHS + CS; Constellation Tatsu]

So I waited around to write about Looks Realistic’s incredible package because I didn’t have a VHS player. I know, I know. Insane, right? But look, ours was broken. And believe me, this has been of major concern from some time now — we’ve been really wanting to watch our copy of Overboard again. That wasn’t a joke. Anyway, our friend Karen gave us a loaner and this package was all the more enjoyable for it. The audio + video + booklet combo of Where Does it Come From? even comes with a multi-color display of floppy discs (I shit you not). Unfortunately, I can’t play whatever awesomeness is locked inside those bad boys (although I like to imagine that a copy of Cosmic Osmo is on them), so the cassette tape + VHS tape + art book is going to have to do for now, and I assure you that it does very, very well. Looks Realistic is one of many one-off projects of Bastian Void / Moss Archive analog synth mastermind Joseph Bastardo, who is here paired with Ryan Mulhall. Together, the two slow down and stretch out jumps through hyperspace, making time travel seem like a scenic tour rather than some kind of bizarre instantaneous thing. It’s hard to come away with anything tangible in terms of actual memories to be taken from the journey, other than the fact that you just went with it and it was sheer bliss. Clearly that’s not an insult here — this music, despite its possession of beautiful, sensual melodic material, is defined more by the way those melodies and concrete musical elements contribute to aural atmosphere and texture. It’s those pretty, twinkling things and how they swirl about the various vortexes the synths exist within. The style points to an early computer age future-hipness, from the font and layout to the IBM-instructional-montage soundtrack, and then all those crazy neon colors in Broken Machine Films’ flat-out brilliant visual accompaniments. Stunning collaborative work that is fully-engrossing, mesmerizing and beautiful. And that’s the best part, really, the grand scale of it all; how everything that went into Where Does it Come From? feels so exclusive and personal for all of the artists involved. The care with which this was pieced together isn’t just apparent, but instrumental in the music’s utter success. We should all love what we do this much.

Links: Looks Realistic - Constellation Tatsu

Second Family Band

Wrong Carnival, Kid

[CS; NONOTEarjerk]

Didn’t realize The Second Family Band was the result of a distended Davenport, but it makes sense. Wrong Carnival, Kid is a curious mix of Joshua Jugband 5, Black Beach-era Excepter and just about everything in between. The fulcrum on which the title track rests is guitar, however; that and a ton of dressings: tribal drums (I’ll bet they hate that descriptor; sorry), a drone machine, typical echo-age vocals, flute… You name it, they go there. The American Alvarus, if you will. “Nopus No. 23 / House Of Mirrors” is even freakier, and folkier (go figs), and, if it’s even possible, dronier. Accordion (or is that melodica? They’ll never tell), computer magic, whistling, bird chirps, blasts of steam, and effects make for an uneasy mix. Sometimes it’s best to be patient. This is ex-Dav-Po, man! Only 45 copies if the word on the street is to be believed (and it is), but there must be a few left, right (there aren’t)? Shit, man.

Links: Second Family Band - NONOTEarjerk

Teenage Strange

Teenage Strange

[7-inch; Gloryhole]

Indiana’s Gloryhole makes no bones about its love of the dirty and hashed up masses of Fountain Square and beyond. The label has grown into a collective of like-minded individuals foaming at the mouth with anger at a stagnate music scene, eager and willing to shake it up at every turn. After two years of turning their neighborhood into a raucous host (including a day-long block party known as CATARACTS), the label seems to be turning its attention to bigger and better things without losing its grasp on down home and half-baked bands better than what your big cities are churning out. So meet Teenage Strange (which locals will be thankful to realize is the new charismatic vortex of ex-Kemps frontman Jared Birden), which amp up the Stuntman Mike/Snake Plissken rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle with the burst of a band free from the bondage of the bong. A-side “Eerie Energy” is reminiscent of your mother’s QOTSA; a song of driving riffs and broken drum heads. The essence of cool drips from each repetitive stroke of the pick, slicked back hair, awesome tats, and torn clothes out on Route 66. The flip, “Zeitgeist” is reminiscent of early Black Rebel Motorcycle club; dangerously close to running off the highway in a haze of black leather and white smoke. Wisely, the 7-inch glows in the dark, so you can see where your cigarette is to light it in the pitch black of the desert or the back allies of SoBro.

Links: Gloryhole

Volition / Juhyo

split

[CS; Small Doses]

Volition represent a strange breed, their plodding style more doom than anything else and the vocals, depending on which singer is braying of course, is reminiscent of power violence/Justin Pearson, hardcore, and the groan of Kirk Windstein. Then the double-bassery and flailing high-hats hit and we’re left to assess what’s happening yet again. I say, as with the Mississippi leghounds of the metal world, it’s best to let ‘em finish and sort it out later. I’m happy to report, as well, that the cassette format doesn’t impede Volition’s sound in any major way. Juhyo, on the other hand, possess a sound traditionally well-suited to the Test of the Tape, rife with gurgling effects, churning machines, and other elements I ain’t i-dent-ified yet. The witch’s brew turns pretty pungent ‘n’ evil pretty fast though, the ripe ingredients browning, then decaying as a sickening stew of kettle-blood boils on a stove in hell. Then we drift/drone up to heaven as ashes once our corpses have burned. Edish of 100, be sure to tip your gate-tender.

Links: Volition / Juhyo - Small Doses

Heat Dust

Heat Dust

[10-inch; Texas is Funny]

I can manage to hold onto hope, by a winnowing thread, as long as there are still bands threshing it out the way Heat Dust do via their self-titled 10-inch (pressed onto clear-with-black-core vinyl, same as the first edition of that Wired Open Day record on Taiga; YES). This could have SO easily retreated into decent-but-not-worthy-of-escaping-the-small-town-where-they’re-from territory, and it doesn’t happen by dint of a few key factors. First, they sing in tune but not too in tune, and they aren’t afraid of crafting a careful melody. Second, they pay tribute Dinosaur Jr without being too slavish about it. Third(ly), Heat Dust truck in riffs that crowd the mix just enough. And what’s up with that cover art? It’s like a super-deep-indie-magic version of those old, much-revered black-metal cover photos.

Links: Heat Dust - Texas is Funny

Pheromoans

Art Mist

[7-inch; Savoury Days]

Art Mist will make your record room smells like old cigarettes and well-worn black leather; it’s cool, bro, and as such you might miss its power the first few times through. Give Pheromoans the benefit of a few turns and the rewards are many. The singer’s got that incredulous, Colin Newman-of-Wire delivery, subtle and blessed with an off-kilter sensibility reminiscent of Nikki Sudden of Swell Maps. Mentioning The Fall would be too eas-… oops, there, I did it without realizing it. On Side A the instrumentals don’t talk very loud, but they carry a big stick. “My Wild Irish Dream” kicks off Side B and proceeds to turn that approach upside-down, flaring out via loud synths and creepy echo. “Beazer Homes Again” might be the best entry here, truly a strong post-punk statement, rare as that is, with a foot still in the garage. Four songs, four reasons to hit the 45 RPM button and take off.

Links: Pheromoans - Savoury Days

Love Chants

Love Chants EP

[12-inch; Quemada]

My transformation to Aussie zeitgeist is almost complete, but in case my soul had any second guesses…

Love Chants is made up of members of Mad Nanna and XxNoBBQxX. Must I repeat myself? What I shan’t repeat is this: Love Chants has little in common with either of their ancestors. This is careful guitar exploration, crafted by a trio (Anthony Guerra, Michael Zulicki, and Matt Earle) that is taking the Loren Connors graveyard isolation and putting it in a lo-fi basement as interpreted by a garage band. Whereas much of Australian garage rock is the sweaty underbelly of small city American rapture–kids carving out their own scenes separate from the blogosphere–Love Chants goes further into the kangaroo pouch by circumventing anything relevant of steady melody or musical thought. Sometimes sounding like beginners at their craft (“Small Jewels,” at least that’s what I can decipher through the chicken scratch), other times in complete control of their deconstructed pace (“Skirts of Rain”), Love Chants are now my everything; a reference point to those lonely hours plugging away in a single room until I got what was in my head just right.

Links: Quemada

Bathaus

Arcane|||Cut

[CS; Haute Magie]

Never would have guessed witch house was going to lead to this coven, Bathaus laughing all the way to the blood bank. Darkwave, here we come again, with a surreal twist that lends Arcane|||Cut an extra bit of ‘oomph’ it takes to really start garnering attention these days. I could imagine a Not Not Fun association in their future, as Bathaus bathe in that echo-chamber vibe, and cuts like “Dame” do so much with so little it’s like watching ol’ Scissorhands cut a shrubbery. Yes, a shrubbery. If Bathaus were being blacklisted and I had to ‘name names’ on pain of death I’d go with Cvlts, White Ring, recent Lucky Dragons, and maybe even labelmates Mushy. Very exciting to make this acquaintance, and too bad I missed them at SXSW. A bunch of these cassettes were released on different colors so coordinate people!

Links: Bathaus - Haute Magie

BBJr

How to Fuck All Your Co-Workers in One Sitting

[LP; Captcha]

Some recordings can’t be confined to a cassette. BBJr’s How To Fuck All Your Co-Workers in One Sitting tape rolled out last year and sold out as so many random cassettes on hottt labels do, and by all rights that coulda/woulda/shoulda been it. But NOOOOOO! Captcha went and pressed 250 clear-as-day LPs for the (not-so) new year to spread the word even further into the nooks and crannies of the underground. I can hear why; How To Fuck is overflowing with extremely crude lo-fi cockiness, exuding the dirt-folk chops of Inspector 22 and the experimental know-how of a veteran noise band. It’s one of those albums you have to get to know. You can’t listen to the first few songs and assume you’ve heard what BBJr have to offer. They’re dirty enough to shock you, yet they also know their way around ye olde pan flute. Dig, brother; dig. Shit’s like that hatch from Lost so turn back now if you don’t have the time to break out the torchlight and explore. (If you turned back just now you’s a bitch.) Extra points for “Luv Song,” which whirrs and slices through the rest of the album like a helicopter propeller care of Panicsville.

Links: BBJr - Captcha

Comoros / Expo 70

Live at Germ Books

[CS; Sonic Meditations]

Definitely nothing wrong with sandwiching these two; Comoros (of whom the Fedora Corpse label also stems) and Expo 70 is one of the most appropriate pairings possible when you consider the scenic sprawl they both subscribe to. Live at Germ Books, dubbed in 2009, delivers what you’d expect if you’re in the fold. Comoros border on devilish, their droning guitar compositions never-ending. More of a prog influence than I remember between the lines on this one, and also more outright shredding. Was that for me? Expo 70 rock a drum machine, a bass player that never stops riffing, and crisper effects, such a busy recording you’d think 12 people were playing. I’m guessing this is just a guitarist and bassist, and these days, of course, that is of no import as we have the technology to loop our dreams together. Another triumph for both bands, a hearty helping of mind-bullets had by all, amen.

Links: Sonic Meditations

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.