Potions
One Buck [CS; Pretty All Right]

I was thinking Potions’ One Buck cassette was going to be one long mouth movie circa Babe, Terror at first. Then the beat kicked in, and a strange calm took over my house as the Corpus Christi wind blew harder than Louis Armstrong in the background. So it’s like that, eh? Hmmmm. I prefer their more ambient moments, where tiny bells bounce off vast expanses of drifting-cloud tones. But stuff yr worries in a sack, mister, because the more bombastic stretches are acceptable as well, though the cheesy drip-drip gets a little scalding after awhile. Sort of like CFCF, old Daft Punk, and Aphex mixing serums, but a relatively inexperienced 12-year-old is manning the beat box: One Buck sounds good, but not too good, if you get me. A lot of different approaches are undertaken, not all of them successful, so fast-forward to the liquid-smooth formula adhered to late on Side A when you first get this, then proceed from there.

Links: Pretty All Right

Jad Fair

“NOW”

[7-inch; Joyful Noise]

Jad Fair goes over the artistic edge with “NOW,” his one-song contribution to Joyful Noise’s monthly Flexi Disc series. Fair has gone so far that he’s the yodeling minstrel meeting his untimely end on “The Price is Right.” (Yodel-ye-yo-ho!) “NOW” is a spoken poem, with little attention paid to the rubric tribal beat that plays like a children’s marching band behind Fair’s Lou Reed intonation. Equal parts cool and oddball, “NOW” is the sort of pumped-up self-help jargon overheard from the homeless, those who have more insight into the hardships of daily life than most of us will ever know. Despite the strange balance between childlike exuberance and Raymond Babbitt mantra, “NOW” resonates well beyond its means. It somehow keeps finding its way back onto the turntable, even if it’s missing the same drama and punch of Fair’s recent full-length with Hifiklub and kptmichigan.

Links: Jad Fair - Joyful Noise

Good Willsmith

Is the Food Your Family Eats Slowly

[CS; Hausu Mountain]

“Bands just don’t make complete albums anymore.” A miserably ignorant statement (similar to thoughts along the “Music isn’t good anymore” bullshit spectrum) that Good Willsmith eradicate with Is the Food Your Family Eats Slowly. Although we’ve had one miserable Matt Damon/Will Smith mashup in the form of Bagger Vance, this promises no Jazzy Jeff and Ben Affleck carryover to dilute the talent pool — a poor name for a well-thought-out and eerily COMPLETE album. The apocalyptic drone and electronic thunderstorms build upon each other like Panabrite without some of the harsh edges and fidgety detours. This is focused and bred for premium punch. Some real Jason Bourne, Mike Lowrey shit. This is a soundtrack to brawn that will need franchising.

Links: Good Willsmith - Hausu Mountain

Nihiti

Faced With Splendor

[12-inch; Lo Bit Landscapes]

Is this the same Nihiti that has put out a few full-lengths of busy, beat-munching, dare-I-say skittering experimental/electronics-tinged bliss? Faced With Splendor is all-acoustic, all-mellow, all the time, replete with trumpet toots, string swishes, and mini-jangles that couldn’t be more different than what I’ve heard of their long-players. Maybe this is Nihiti’s Jar of Flies/Sap? Rest assured: The water is warm. Strums over drums, to start, and I don’t miss ‘em a bit in this case, as they could easily muck up what turn out to be decent arrangements when laid bare. The aforementioned strings swoop in/out, as is the wont with most folk-related projects you hear these days. At times, they are a bit upfront for how superfluous they are; you could prune them from a few of these tunes with little, if any, consequence. No denying these melodies, and the mood is grim but not played to the hilt, which was a good choice. If all Nihiti’s albums sounded like Faced with Splendor, there would be the all-too-familiar risk of a polite, “No, thanks!” but seeing as this was a slight detour, it sort of sweetens the pot a little to know they can turn their backs on their “sound” for a bit and keep it together.

Links: Lo Bit Landscapes

Lakes

Crossed with Leaves

[7-inch; Quemada]

I can’t read these words. The black mascara is too thick. The clothing is too dark to see through, my turtleneck turned into a mask to hide from Sean Bailey — even as I transform into him in a strange Kafka nightmare. Crossed with Leaves is a car crash of Goth influence. It vibrates with the sexual energy of Depeche Mode, it barks with the precession of Bauhaus, and breakfasts with the ghost of Ian Curtis. Despite its morose Goth-folk, “Crossed with Leaves” and its B-side “Night Lark” are compelling. It’s the old moth-to-flame attraction that ruins us all. We become Bailey’s willing souls for the moments he unleashes Lakes upon us, only shaking ourselves free after the last bitter notes melt into the abyss; we here the abyss calling to us, even in silence.

Links: Quemada

Black Sky Chants

I’ll Sleep Until I See the Moon

[CS; Aguirre]

Closely linked to the more tropical (so sorry to employ that overused term, but when in the Galapagos…) output of Sean McCann, Black Sky Chants’ “I’ll Sleep Until I See the Moon” commits all the crimes I’ve accused so many tape-bakers of, yet I can’t bring myself to charge them in an underground court of audio law because they do it so goddamn well. Imbuing drone with this level of atmosphere seems so easy to so many, yet I’ve taken in dozens of cassettes that just can’t compare. The vivid mix doesn’t hurt either; it’s like I’m in the aquarium with them, flicking my tongue at flies and basking in the wind-blown mist. Without a knob-job this crisp, well… Who am I kidding? I’d still be on board, but it’s nice to get a surround-sound experience many 7-inches can’t even touch. RIYLin’ all over Riceboy Sleeps, Cedars Of Lebanon, early NNA, and many more I will never hear (so many regrets).

Links: Black Sky Chants - Aguirre

Mole House

Hey Come My Way

[7-inch; Quemada]

The picturesque forest scene on the cover of Hey Come My Way makes sense with the first jangled strums of this 7-inch’s namesake. “Hey Come My Way” is hazily yelled lyrics and repetitious chords emanating from a rustic shotgun shack, a band turning abandonment into homeliness. A-side complement “Taylor’s Mistake” is equally stoned, with a droning croak and uninspired melody becoming quaint as it marches into the light of day. “Coming Back + Coming Over” is high-end speech-song, a drunken chant above more jangle than an overcrowded charm bracelet. The canopy allows Mole House to be their sloppy selves, and the results are endearing. Stashed in a brown paper sleeve like the malt liquor downer it is, for easy sipping.

Links: Quemada

The Band In Heaven

The Band In Heaven

[7-inch; HoZac]

Yet another unexpected release from HoZizzle following that spicy-ass E.T. Habit 7-inch (if you haven’t heard that one, do so): when the music is this weird and, at times, wonderful, I tend to drop the genre game and simply sketch out what I’m hearing. Thing is… just what, the fuck, am I hearing exactly? “If You Only Knew” is a slow post-Beta Band shuffle that’s crammed to the hilt with mystical lo-fi fuzz-buzz and BJM hip. “Summer Bummer,” manning the flip, couldn’t be more different, an uptempo rocker as disaffected as Lou and as propulsive as No Means No in their prime. It almost sounds like Crystal Stilts getting punk’d. “Sludgy Dreams” is an appropriate name for this Black Angels-esque, hollowed-out vampire skull of a song. Strangely, the only cut that slips by without notice is the faceless “Sleazy Dreams,” a tune that, I’ll admit, will probably be most people’s favorite song on this four-cut frenzy. But most people are wrong — don’t forget that.

Links: The Band In Heaven - HoZac

Ttotals

Silver on Black

[10-inch; Self-Released]

Silver on Black is deep. REAL DEEP. Not only does it perfectly capture the color scheme of the duo’s latest 10-inch, it swallows an entire sound in its viscous lacquer of psychedelic shoegazing mud stomp. “Special A” is a slow roller, the child of Jim Morrison and Bardo Pond wallowing in amniotic stasis. Clad in tight black leather against a rainbow background, it’s the soundtrack to every clichéd acid trip without pitiful Dead references. It strikes a balance between fragility and fear, no tablet on the tongue required. The 10-inch’s surprise comes in “Flowers Follow,” a Liverpudlian ode to the dark arts of black clothes and Joy Division sorrow. But Ttotals aren’t wrist cutters, their world vivid without white and red blood cells spilling out of porcelain flesh. Silver on Black is too bright a star to need drugs and violence to gain attention. You shouldn’t stare too hard or for too long, but you just… can’t… help… it.

Links: Ttotals

Vocoder

Cuadro Sinóptico

[12-inch; Dark Entries]

How could you have come of age in the 1980s and not done cocaine? So much of the dancier music of the decade sounds like a lingering after-effect of disco, all jittery and rearing to go. Club-going noseholes containing more man-made tunnels than Củ Chi. Vocoder’s Cuadro Sinóptico 12-inch is, more than anything, a fuck-load of uptempo fun and a much better party-starter than most of the rote modern dance ensembles inexplicably being signed by labels that most definitely know better. This is the antidote to coldwave, if you’re looking for one (though I will admit I prefer a sharper edge if I’m going to let a band fueled by booster-shot beats and drippy-cheese Goonies synths into my abode). Calling Cuadro Sinóptico a “maxi” EP isn’t helping anything either, but man, a few of these breakdowns really bring the wood. Agree to disagree, with myself; such is life when Spanish new-wave hits the review table. (I’m out of my depth, and everyone’s invited!)

Links: Dark Entries
  

News

  • Recent
  • Popular

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.