Mad Nanna
I Wanna See You [7-inch; Soft Abuse]

Yeah, I dig Mad Nanna. A lot. I mean, like A LOT!

So it comes as no surprise that I lose my shit over more Mad Nanna. The guys just trashed the United States and though I didn’t make it out to see them (adulthood being a bummer), I shall live vicariously through their tightest musical excursion. Of course, tightness is relative and this isn’t the hot dog down the hallway melodies of Mad Nanna’s past (ignoring the wide open “solo” of “The Nectarine Tree”) though they skimp on the lyrics. “I Wanna See You” is largely a drunken recitation of its title, with just enough of the clear headed brilliance we all endure before the puke that ends our glorious pisser. Though I’ve sobered up and arguably have grown up, it doesn’t mean I don’t like to mix it up and Mad Nanna allows me that brief satisfaction in 6 minutes of brittle rock and roll. So if they keep producing scraps, I will continue to beg for them. I am a man after all, and I have needs!

Links: Mad Nanna - Soft Abuse

Hex Map

Ruin Value

[LP; Claw Solutions]

If you’re going mention Unwound in relation to your band you need to realize that if you’re anything less than the best, it’s a felony. Hex Map, while not quite elite, rise to the challenge, toting a new way of thinking about this phylum of muscular indie-rock while occasionally sinking into ignominy. The drummer’s not exactly robotic, either. Set a metronome to his ass and you’ll be listening to a mess within seconds. Yet none of these faults doom Ruin Value. As easy as it might be to give up on them when shit turns sour, believe in this record and it will meet you halfway, if not recompense you completely. You might say Hex Map do for Unwound (and others; obviously it’s not as simple as one band) what Fat History Month do for Modest Mouse, albeit with a bit less success. It makes sense to allot them credit for the fearless way they stare into the intimidating void of the ’90s and find worthy intrigues to expand upon. There also exist within the folds of these songs snippets of Enon, Ex Lion Tamer, Jesus Lizard; the works. “Rat King” even conjures Cobain. That Ruin Value is stamped into mellifluous opaque vinyl is neither here nor there. But you should know that, too.

Links: Hex Map

The Courtneys

The Courtneys

[12"; Hockey Dad]

An old joke tells the story of Canada’s behind-the-times culture, and though it’s far from any truth I can recognize I believe it suits The Courtneys well. Songs about “90210” and Keanu Reeves lace the three-piece’s self-titled 12-inch and I am in love with Canada circa ‘95. One last chance to grip unworn treasures in the closet and head bang (minus the lengthy locks of my youth) to another female group I ignored while chasing girls. If only I had paid closer attention to Tsunami and Velocity Girl–and though The Courtneys aren’t any of them, they borrow from the same pop explosion to deliver songs of a different era rife with subject matter in the modern age. Though the throwbacks to the alterna-decade are plentiful they aren’t out of some outdated modus operandi that Canada is operating under. Rather, it’s the recall of the last of our fun. For those of us who came of age in the land of fashion malls filled with Sam Goody’s and Musicland, The Courtney’s latest would fell right at home snuggled up next to overpriced CDs that were never on sale or marked down–and you know, I’d gladly pay full price for this. Not as some parting gift to the 90s but as a reminder that certain rock and roll sounds never go out of style, no matter how much Hot Topic and MTV try to tell me otherwise. Good on you Courtneys!

Links: Hockey Dad

Romvelope

“Catomountain” b/w “Hodmandod”

[7-inch; Adaadat]

Romvelope provide an intensely satisfying conglomeration of chopped bits and diced pieces via “Catomountain”/”Hodmandod,” their compositions ticking like a clock and squealing like digital pigs. Dissemble a few of those nice Minority Records artists (DVA, Floex, Dikolson), dissolve any notion of random button-pushing, and dissuade yourself from assuming you’ve pinned this one down until the final non-notes pass by. “Hodmandod” spellbinds from the start through little more than a murky drone cloud that pours audio endorphins effortlessly into your brainpiece. Why is this so much more enlightening than the average desert drift? The melodica (apparently that’s actually a reed organ)? The tangled mix? The wistful search for new stars? We may never know. “Catomountain” is more, ahem, classical experimental simply because it provides crags for the cliff-jumping listener to hang onto, in the form of jumpy rhythms and all manner of pitch-bent manipulation. A quality effort all around that could blast off with more room to stretch out.

Links: Adaadat

Gag

Gas Mask ‘95

[Flexi; Perennial]

A better use of the one-sided flexi we may never see, Gag’s Gas Mask ‘95 providing a pristine, plump punk offering that pleasures like those first few Okie Dokie records. When you first place needle to flex it seems that way, at least, but soon the confusion leads you to think of Twin Stumps or, when the reeds join in, maybe Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower, and you wouldn’t be wrong, per say, just under-informed. Gag sneer more than they implore, and crave disorder as much as they do message-building, flipping between audio channels and fucking around when traditional punx will be asking them to kindly get to the bloody point. That’s what I love about Gas Mask ‘95 the most. You never know exactly what you’re going to receive; just rest assured you’ll get what’s coming to you and more. “Warm Milk” is particularly schizophrenic in nature, shrieking-pissed and looking to unleash the madness it feels in itself. That’s no gag. With flexis like these who needs 7-inches (don’t answer that)?

Links: Perennial

Sneaky Snake

Eventide

[CS; Holodeck]

I’m ready to be done with synth drone. Seriously dudes in your dorms, what you’re doing has been done. Look no further than City of Angels duo Sneaky Snakes. Eventide should be the most boring piece of electronic miasma I’ve heard because I’m cynical and have, at this point, heard it all. And no one in “the scene” seems to be telling it straight: that synth is boring again, your heroes are making pop muzak, and now that every Tom, Dick, and Harry is on board with making their own homemade jams and throwing them on BandSoundTrack that the movement’s gone. But here I am writing about Eventide because it isn’t a carbon copy. It sounds familiar at the first press of play but let it unfurl, let it slither into your head space. I’m ready to hate on an entire “scene” but Sneaky Snakes won’t allow it. They should because the predictable releases need righteous scolding but these two long pieces deserve only praise, prolonging my Andy Rooney old man rants until 2014. But by then I will be obsolete and Sneaky Snakes will be swallowing rats like me whole in the whitewash of mesmerizing synth.

Links: Holodeck

Laureate

Minute Detail

[CS; Hospital Productions]

Albert Einstein’s image is mugging, tongue out and hair wild, on every 3rd grade science lab wall. Einstein is now pop culture, one of the lucky few not rendered effectively faceless as humanity continues to plow forward through time, uprooting most things in its path, with only the occasional glance backwards and a sheepish “whoops, I think we needed that.”

The hulking, driving, and seemingly implacable forces of progress and history have been given form with Laureate’s Minute Detail. Throbbing, scraping, and pounding rhythms force each of the tracks forward towards some impending but still unknown outcome. Industrious might be a more applicable word than “industrial,” as every song on this cassette feels far more systematically generated than consciously created; as if it just sprung up as a natural by-product of the existence of factories and machines. This automatic, inhuman quality to the music may be exactly the point: the tracks have the dates and reasons for awarding the Nobel Prize for Physics but not the names of those awarded. The X-Ray and the discovery of energy quanta, basically the foundation for quantum physics, are hugely important, but could you pick Max Planck, Wilhelm Röntgen, or Max von Laue out of a lineup? The machinery has already been fabricated and continues to turn, even while its creators have been relegated to names and dates in history books.

Links: Hospital Productions

Wreck And Reference

No Content

[7-inch; Flenser]

It’s been a relatively slow year for 7-inches so to realize Flenser (from which I actually just ordered a Panopticon repress and probably, soon, a copy of that Ghast LP on splatter) had sent No Content in made my mother-fucking day. Wreck And Reference, like so many of the anguished shriekers out there, will get lumped in with the pack by some, but those who know their post-screamo hardcore/metal will be freaking out. The gameplan here is heaviness by dint of non-traditional means. That means no breakdowns, no limb-twisting technicality (though the drummer gets pretty gummy-armed on the flip), and no verses or choruses. The approach equates to absolute gold on “Absurdities & Echoes,” and “Abhorrence,” while it takes a tick to get going, also swarms on post-metal rather satisfyingly (it’s weird to liken it to a warped version of old Poison The Well so I won’t do it outside parentheses). Stick with “Absurdities” though, as it delivers a steady heady pummeling, like a discombobulated Red Scare bawling over a post-rock guitar sheet and slow-motion Usurp Synapse drums. Lots of stops and starts that challenge the heart, and even a noise decay to draw the curtains. One of the most surprising heavy cuts in a year of unrelentingly sharp, incisive metal. I hope it never ends.

Links: Flenser

Helen

Felt This Way

[7-inch; Exiled/Yellow Electric]

Liz Harris goes pop, pulls a Kim Novak and changes her name to Helen (avoid all ‘hear her roar’ in-jokes though the temptation to turn this into Reddy pun is strong). So does her group of similarly-oriented friends, like some cult worshiping the not-so docile strains of Flying Nun. It’s full of vertigo-inducing distortion and angry guitars, yet that icy stare is always present so we know that it’s really Madeleine. Should all these names prove too confusing, let’s go back to the beginning. “Felt this Way” makes me giddy with drowned delight, a simple melody that is uplifted by Harris’ even-keeled voice and Simmons and Bindeman’s grungy accompaniment. Flipside “Dying All the Time” is just as uproarious and unsophisticated–a bad dye job that isn’t hiding anything and the Scottie in all of us could care less, clinging to the feeling of hope and desire brought by this fine miniature circle. So when you hear this for the first time, embrace the fall from the bell tower as Harris has and admit that despite the deceit of Helen, you’ll keep coming back no matter how guilty your conscious. This fall has been long coming and its well worth battling your acrophobia.

Links: Exiled/Yellow Electric

Big French

Downtown Runnin

[LP; Wharf Cat]

I have literally gone a lifetime looking for weird people to jam with. I’ve managed to find one, maybe two in 20 years. Zach Phillips of Blanche Blanche Blanche, on the other hand, finds zany punx to jam with every other day, and Big French is his latest fling. It’s a grand affair too, Downtown Runnin spitting in the frazzled face of those who would argue the long-playing album is dead. Throw your Bran Van 3000 records into the furnace, Earnest, because you’ll have enough spazz to last you a lifetime once you grip this wax-dip. Despite the somewhat complex full-band arrangements and Panoply Academy/Danielson homage, I still feel like we’re rubbing Ariel’s Pink pussy in the end. Also, Cerb faves Bird Names, and that band that sang, “All I wanna do is thank you / Even though I don’t know who you are / You’re the one that let me change lanes / While I was driving in my car” (for the record it’s Geggy Tah). In any event, be prepared to be offended, delightfully so, by the cartoonish antics on display. The vocals, delivered in a questionable falsetto at least half the time, nevertheless convey enough melodiousness and intrigue to carry what is a solid project from top-to-bottom on their own. I’d even venture to say the busy instrumentals get in the way every so often, overcrowding the mix. I don’t think Big French would even take that as an insult; you can’t offend a band such as this by claiming they’ve gone too far. Besides, in 10 years people will hear this and wonder why it’s so restrained. Make that 50 years. This record is a unicorn.

Links: Wharf Cat

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.