Second Species [CS; Constellation Tatsu]

It’s the night after the parade. Pieces of ticker tape and distressed newspaper gently sweep the streets, the city workers tasked to clean up the mess long gone after hours of hopelessly chasing these remaining tatters. It’s just turning to dusk, so the small town’s five downtown buildings are just beginning to glow above the purple horizon. After the ecstasy of celebration, the rural people have retired to their homes. Vandals and ne’er-do-wells will be out soon, says the old folk. But it’s really just kids looking to capture their own magic, to escape Saturday afternoons full of tradition no one’s dared to tie them into. So they make their own, soundtracked by seasonal winds, sneaked booze, and someone’s beat-up car. The city has nothing to offer this evening, at least nothing worthwhile for those operating outside societal protocol. All that remains is Prayer. Hands are folded, not to the heavens, but to the worship of another; the object of desire. This will all be nostalgic rambling in a decade, but for now, it’s your own parade. As still as the night is, it’s alive with want. You make of this evening what you want from it. Prayer has given you this opportunity; don’t forsake it for a dalliance with an unyielding god or reprimanding adults long out of touch with these feelings. You know this sound without a word.

Links: Constellation Tatsu

Xander Harris / Dylan Ettinger

The Driver / Tipoff

[7-inch; Moon Glyph]

Anyone who’s ever driven a 1983 Toyota Tercel hatchback and, for some reason, bumped the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop will know the feeling of take-off that accompanies “The Driver,” a smooth electronic-dance composition that explores the limits of this whole post-0PN thing with reckless abandon. I like the way Xander Harris programs his synths, and his side of this 7-inch flies by so quickly you’ll reload thrice before you even consider venturing over to the other side. Checkmate? Not quite. Dylan Ettinger, who is everywhere, bequeaths a ridiculous, special-edition synthster in line with Bruce Hart and the other boyz stuck in the keybo muck. Not a drum beat here as much as an ongoing throb, and the vocals are hunted to extinction, but “Tipoff” is a busy-ass piece of work whose overall effect somehow calms the nerves (maybe I’ve been listening to too much Matta Gawa?). Why can’t I go to a kids movie with my daughter and hear music like this soundtracking it?

Links: Moon Glyph

Circuit des Yeux


[10-inch; Magnetic South]

This is a transformation. We witness the evolution of child into teen into adult, with all the ferocity of a genetic nuclear cloud. “Lithonia,” the same shoes in the dirt, operatic vocal of innocence from Haley Fohr’s Circuit des Yeux. It rattles the neighborhood windows with the bellow of a girl trying to fit in with a big voice and a one-track mind. “I’m on Fire II” finds Fohr in her college years, revisiting her take on the Springsteen torch song with two hulking man-beasts adding drums and din to an already encumbered ode of distortion and angst. It’s “Helen, You Bitch” where the myth graduates, matures into a woman. This is Fohr, with 24 years of learning and leaving, channeling the education system, disappointment, and the unknown into a tense psychedelic jam with hints of apricot and venom. This is Fohr exploring relationships: those of her past, present, and future. Those of love, bands, and person-to-environment. And it’s just a killer 10-inch for anyone who, you know, likes music and things that are deep and stuff. Or needs a quick soundtrack to a bong rip.

Links: Circuit des Yeux - Magnetic South

Back Magic

Blood Plaza

[5-inch Lathe; Pilgrim Talk]

Back Magic’s “Blood Plaza” is not your typical Pilgrim Talk outing, delving into white-blue deep-fuzz with boombox recording and trashed-out crash cymbals that dominate the mix when wet. If Lou Barlow is lo-fi, I’m not sure what to call this; shit-fi doesn’t seem gritty enough. Devil-fi? A scrappy effort though, pressed onto the oddest lil’ 5-inch lathe-daddy you ever done seen. I think of Moldy Peaches, Zumm Zumm, and Icky Boyfriends, and muse, “Wow, remember when things were clean?” Once again, we’re left to wonder: How much lower-than-fi can self-recorded rock get? Back Magic make early GBV sound like “We Are the World.” This band was seemingly invented to be the exact counterpoint to Buckcherry, the lowest, dingiest scum imaginable. Yet cute, too.

Links: Pilgrim Talk

My People Pray By Starlight / Yusuke Tsutsumi


[CS; Old Monster/Weiner]

My People Pray By Starlight are the bad cop. The nega-world perpetuated by MPPBS’s half of magnetic tape is a grimy, groovy natural world of feel-good beach rhythms interrupted by a mad man’s static preaching. Better to bask in its aural unpredictability than the sad truth of murder, brainwashing, and deceit (we reserve the right to revoke this sunny alternative if any members of MPPBS go Dexter). If the Cali outfit isn’t asked to soundtrack the Inherent Vice adaptation, all hope for humanity should be deemed a lost cause. Of course, that’s a fleeting blip once Yusuke Tsutsumi, the good cop, takes over. Tsutsumi’s work is a much-needed human touch, awash in a world of DJ Shadow and Fennesz. Considering that collaboration seems impossible, it’s a blessing Tsutsumi has arrived on our planet. And though the pairing of this split seems odd — a psychedelic workout partnered with a blissed-out trip-hop ambiance — we know the odd officer pairings are box office gold. Best to get it before its purity is erased by A.O. Scott.

Links: Old Monster/Weiner

Bold Chicken

A Fellow’s Lament

[7-inch; Lysergic Sound Distributors]

Holy fuck, man; that Bold Chicken done went and psyched out my mama! This is such a bluesy ride, it throws me for a loop. Then those nasty choruses kick in and singer Buzz Clic (ooh!) puts forth those massive whoops, hollers, and rants and I totally get why this session, recorded in Ohio in 1972-73, needed to see the light of day again. The production is bound to be a bone of contention for treble-obsessed psych folk, and that’s exactly the reason I dig its guttural hound’s tooth growl. There’s an interesting push-pull from Side A to B. The front-side flares up with more standard rock fare, albeit delivered with just enough muscle to justify revisiting, “Gears & Tears” even doing a weird Elvis thang. The flip, a superior product, was created with a more Captain Beefheart-ish singer at the helm, a strategy I fully respect. Not sure which dude delivers the nasty duo of songs on Side B, but it’s a whole new band when he’s bringing the fucking house down. “Oh Doctor Please” is particularly explosive, a Van Vliet-style freakout (though the Captain hated the term “freak”) stretching out overtop a very un-Beefheart backbone (a.k.a. a straight-up, angular one) that gains a shitload of momentum as soulful backup vox and a hearty beat head the charge. It’s quite a quasi-funky ruckus, tight and nasty like a dolphin-flog. When you’re a small band jamming out somewhere, moments like this make you think you’re going to be a star. And maybe Bold Chicken shoulda been, you know? But life is cool enough to allow for the resuscitation of artifacts like this, so there’s always hope right?

Links: Lysergic Sound Distributors


Lightness and Irresponsibility

[CS; Constellation Tatsu]

If names were reflective of personality traits, would the world be a better place? Shakespeare argued the idea, but it’d be nice to have some advanced warning system when dealing with a person or institution. It’s the beauty of Lightness and Irresponsibility, another posthumous beauty from Celer. It dares not tread in any territory not in line with the album’s on-point focus, two long-form meditations rarely raising their voice. There is no discipline or consequence to these compositions, just a life at its most carefree. As douchebag CEOs rig the stock market and two-faced politicians further divide America for ill-gotten gains, it’s comforting to forget the sadness surrounding Celer and focus on those lighthearted moments of youth. It’s not nostalgia but a moment in time frozen, forever providing the calm center we need in a world of mislabeled sycophants.

Links: Constellation Tatsu



[7-inch; Black Lake]

I’ve been trying to get the heavies to mosey on over to Cerberus more often, and it’s been tough. One exception is Black Lake Recs and their monstrous Hexis, a metal band afraid of nothing, from death to grind to gangrenous limbs of BM that rot and decay in favor of… you guessed it: death. Seputus/Fatum is a viciously delivered 7-inch with no time for pleasantries, save an isolated Testament breakdown; aside from that, it’s all double-bass and drills to the face, especially the malevolent Side B. I keep returning to the Corrosive Recordings label (Blues, Veil Of Maya) as a reference and must do so again here, because that imprint possessed an assortment of multifaceted metal bands indebted to no one and nowhere, just like Hexis. They drown in a swamp of hiss, and maybe it’s best that we don’t hear too much, as they’d have to slaughter each and every one of us if we ever found out what was going on in their collective head.

Links: Black Lake

Goblin Guts

Global Cuts Vol. 1

[CS; Geweih Ritual Documents]

In a classic episode of The Cosby Show, Cliff sits down daughter Vanessa and older suitor Dabnis in a talk about spontaneity and presentation. The dinner table lecture is concluded by saying that, for all of Dabnis’ positive qualities, the method by which Vanessa introduced him to the family was akin to serving the tastiest, most expensive meal on a used-up garbage lid. The care taken in the packaging and design by Geweih Ritual Documents all but eliminates soreness to the eyes, so too does the duo Goblin Guts: painstaking presentation over hideous Cosby sweaters and trash-can relationships. Despite the horrific imagery of the pair’s chosen name, Global Cuts Vol. 1 is a beautiful chain of odd pop sounds presented for an audience both adventurous and naive. Whether the most stalwart noisiest places the tape into their expensive tape deck or some youthful goofball jams it into a leftover Walkman found under her big brother’s bed as the family home downsizes, Global Cuts maintains a variety of found sounds, energetic rhythms, and madcap hijinx to soundtrack the next iteration of Bill Cosby’s magnum opus (with a special guest appearance by Alan Lomax).

Links: Geweih Ritual Documents


Walk on Heads

[7-inch; Blind Prophet]

Just try to resist Lower if you dig Dischord, straddling punk and hardcore, and steady streams of energy; go ahead, give it a whirl. Walk on Heads is beholden to Fugazi & the gang, while other more current acts like Shearing Pinx are invited to the party too. If this is where spindly post-punk-mixed-with-hardcore is going, I’m signed, sealed, and delivered, as Lower rip shit up while staying in complete control. The urgency and intensity is there, released slowly over the course of a track rather than in fragmentary bursts. Heavy vinyl, jacketed by an image that, again, reminds me of the old days, the dog days, the good days. Lower aren’t quite Okie Dokie, but that’s not where they’re going.

Links: Blind Prophet

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.