Sebadoh
Secret [10-inch; Joyful Noise]

What a thrill to see this great group get back together before it’s too late. The nifty Secret 10-inch (small run of green vinyl is already gone of course) is a teaser for an upcoming LP, but none of the tracks – I repeat – none of the tracks will be on the album I just so pertinently mentioned. You got me? You feel me? I fuckin’ hope so because I’m gettin’ all nostalgic hearing these tunes. I know that’s a dirty word but let’s just be honest about how magical it really is when a song, particularly one with heavenly jangly guitars, hits you and transports you back to more innocent times. One of life’s great pleasures, that, and while I was never a frickin’ Sebadoh freak by any means (strangely the Kids soundtrack houses my favorite non-Dinosaur Jr Barlow material, care of Folk Implosion/Deluxx Folk Implosion) I wasn’t immune to their charms then and I’m not now, particularly because the gorgeous “I Don’t Mind” and “All Kinds,” which both close out Side B, are two of the best Sebadoh cuts I’ve ever heard. It’s funny how non-lo-fi Sebadoh sound now that my daily audio regimen consists of 74-77 percent fuzz; shit who produced this, Bob Rock? But seriously, there’s nothing like Sebadoh, so don’t take them for granted this time. I know I won’t.

Links: Sebadoh - Joyful Noise

Virile Games

Wounded Laurel

[CS; Hospital Productions]

This is music for a fallen world.

A military procession marches through abandoned, war-ravaged streets, burnt out hulks of cars marking the path to their destination. Today a leader is recognized for both a glorious victory and continued military achievement. The soldiers are tired. The victory laurels have wilted in the sun, been dropped, dusted off and straightened.

This is music for an old war. Strings sink from melody lines into distorted squeals as the musicians grow tired of repetitious phrases. Muted choirs, originally espousing virtue, truth and the rightness of human endeavor, become muddled and eventually totally undercut by an ever nearing bass hum. Everything drifts downwards. Every tune becomes a requiem.

When Christianity was still young there were Military Saints; soldier converts who objected to the religious practices that were part of everyday Roman military life. One of the first of these was Saint Sebastian, who was eventually martyred for his beliefs. The only words inside the packaging for Virile Games’ album Wounded Laurel are several lines from Claude Debussy’s mystery play entitled The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian: “Oh archers, I must die/My destiny must be fulfilled/That I am killed by the hands of men/Your hands…your brotherly hands/I tell you, I tell you/Whoever wounds me most deeply/Loves me the most.”

This is music for faltering faith.

Links: Hospital Productions

apt j(ext)ie irrchie

Night Wearing Feathers / Sunshine Bus Rider

[LP; Black Horizons]

apt j(ext)ie irrchie is the melding of two minds (MS Waldron, nee irr. app. (ext.), and At Jennie Richie) that were meant to break head together, Night Wearing Feathers / Sunshine Bus Rider emerging like demented offspring and instantly soaring into the deepest of skies. You get sharpened screwdrivers stabbing into colossal voids, spraypaint cans being shaken, beehives disturbed, doors squeaking on rusty hinges, distant drones, lonely chicken-scratch, and sobbing radiators to pass the time. Despite the preceding descriptors “Night Wearing Feathers” (recorded/released in 2006 originally as a 3-inch CD-R) is inherently subtle until an electric shock-current cuts through the static and the remaining sound fragments are left to shuttle aimlessly around the room like blind cockroaches. “Sunshine Bus Rider,” cut in 2012, has that liquid-crystal feel we all find so bewitching these days, and that’s not meant to be a slam; we like this shit for a reason. The entrance of hand drum (samples?) and the snoring of a gigantic beast further complicate the matter. As the track rolls on like a mystery tour you (I) wonder why you (I) even tried to summarize “Sunshine Bus Rider” in the first place, as you’re (I’m) too blinded by its light (not to mention revved up like a deuce). Very surprising, is Side B, until you remember that one-half of this collaboration (irr. app. (ext.)) is known to consort with Andy Ortmann. AHA!

Links: apt j(ext)ie irrchie - Black Horizons

Tuffblades

Marshall Faulk: Primetime

[CS; Warm Ratio]

You’ve often drooled on your pillow as dreams of a world where the NFL, footwork, and Rob Gordon fuse into an amalgam of quick steps, faster dancer moves and non-stop commentary on your favorite sport (music) and pasttime (football). It’s a sinister but exciting juxtaposition that, when you wake and wipe your face, you are upset to see unavailable in your real-life peripheral. The work of Pete Friel under hall of famer pseudonyms came close but the beat wasn’t there. Well, your nightmarish wait is over because here’s the mash-up of your dreams (and those of David “Moose” Adamson and Chris Madsen). As Tuffblades, this Tecmo Bowl of juke and jiving is the post-apocalyptic NFL: the one where steroids has wiped away human existence in the sport, players replaced with robots programmed with the entire history of the league, malfunctioning when the splatter of robot parts wasn’t nearly as enticing as flesh and bone. Yes, we are a Gladiatorial state and we need blood! Tuffblades won’t deliver a good crunch or have you askin’ for tough actin’ Tinactin but it just made for the oddest cassette you’re to hear this year–and an even odder review since Andre 3000 whispers sweet nothings into my cauliflower ears. Lift your arms and be ready to receive this Hail Mary of hip-hop glitch happiness. Damn, it was the statue of liberty! All I know is, you better hit up Indianapolis’ LUNA Music for a copy of this playbook before the new offensive coordinator changes ‘em during training camp.

Links: Warm Ratio

Drunk Dad

Morbid Reality

[12-inch; Eolian]

As gnarly as so many flustered fathers are (just realized I’m writing this on Fathers Day), Drunk Dad exist beyond the pale, slobbering and demanding loyalty even as it’s threshing you about like a bright-colored bead in a baby vacuum. Morbid Reality, for a four-song 12-inch, unfurls a personality hairy as a woolly mammoth and crushing as when that mammoth sits on your grape of a head till it goes [pop]. When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth might be an appropriate aggregate in all things intense, and a ton of long-gone bands of the SS/T&G/old-school grunge/post-Karp school of hard knocks factor somewhere in the heaviness. Drunk Dad differentiate themselves from the rest through vehement investment in rhythmic complexity, not to mention noise delvings that seem to be more than just a passing fancy. The singer cracks open his mic from dozens of angles too, screaming like a fascist soldier and wheezing like a pig when the situation demands it. Between this and that Mines record this might have been the best aural week of 2013 so far. Truly a calendar year that keeps on givin’. Keep ‘em comin’ y’all!

Links: Drunk Dad - Eolian

Mines

Just Another Thing That Got Ruined

[LP; Lake Paradise]

Just Another Thing That Got Ruined is a tough record to review. Every comparison I come up with seems reductive, every descriptor a cop-out, and so I reach super-deep into the ol’ bag of tricks and the best I can come up with is… Detachment Kit and Ganglians gang-banging Fat History Month while Erode & Disappear and Capillary Action watch? I’m at a loss for wordz (the phrase ‘post-emo’ even popped up, though I redacted it; this parentheses doesn’t exist!), and thankful for the privilege. Mines keep a low profile, yet there’s seemingly nothing they can’t do. They’ve got guitar theatrics, full, rich, mahogany melodies, and the percussionist needed to link the sprawl together. And when they let-fly they go KABOOM when you least expect it, viciously leaping into throat-rippin’ riffs and speed-strumming Mogwai would be proud of. I get the creeping feeling the folks behind this have had fingers in other pies I’ve enjoyed, but I won’t speculate (such is the devil’s business). What I will do is guarantee most indie-rockers will be squarely in the ‘hell yes’ category when they let Just Another Thing That Got Ruined into their stolid routine. One-hundred sweet-looking pink copies, 200 black copies, all thick as a herdsman’s cock.

Links: Mines - Lake Paradise

Mounds

Mounds of Earth

[LP; Symbolic Capital]

I wouldn’t have expected such soothing Mounds of psych’d-out synth-prog sound from a former USAISAMONSTER member (Tom Hohmann); props for goin’ there, old chap. Mounds of Earth has a mystical quality to it, whirling several genres into gold and encrusting them with jewels. Quasi can’t be ignored as a touchstone (nor can, for that matter, Zorch), nor can a host of other more blurry precedents (Zac Nelson, Suicide, Spacemen 3/Spectrum, Silver Apples, synth music in general, the gooey instrumentals of Beach House and even Mates Of State), but Mounds build a psych castle all their own and guard it fiercely, rarely deviating from the style they’ve dedicated themselves to. You wonder, after awhile, how many angelic cascades of synth (almost akin to those of Wizzardz, if you remember that Lightning Bolt side project) you’ll be able to endure. The duo endeavor to transcend such concerns, working within a broad range of textures and colors even if the root fruit remains untainted and true. The vocals often match the thrust of the keystrokes, and normally that approach can grind the ears down as well, and while it’s a slight problem it’s nowhere near as pronounced as it often is (think about a lot of the synth groups out there). I can’t see a reason not to convert, Mounds of Earth serving as a synth sanctuary.

Links: Mounds - Symbolic Capital

Digital Natives

It’s All Point Blank

[CS; Beer on the Rug]

Hey, Digital Natives tape on Beer on the Rug… dude, you are DRUNK. Woozy, warped and wobbly, and what is up with your hair? And actually, are you a werewolf or what? And how are you still so damned sexy right now? That is, how are you sexually invincible, man? You’ve seduced and destroyed me from the inside of my ear canal out, and it’s seeped into m’boots, and I have this odd, uncontrollable boogie deep inside me and it’s your bad because you are so, so bad. Confounding really, these lurching humps of scratched-lens-filtered funk, bizarrely discordant but fresh and fly with that slap-bass, and the flutes and the horns too, and the worst (best) part is that you know all of this. You fuckin’ know it, man, all quick witted with that crooked smirk on your face, that bead of sweat dripping down your rolled chin. Cop car chases and tiki bars, and vintage Penthouse pornos and everything. Just stop. Or, well… wait ‘til you finish that next track up, and then stop. Or, you know what? Just don’t stop. Also one more question, and that is why do you have a sample of a reading of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” on you, oh Digital Natives tape on Beer on the Rug? The confusion mounts, the plot thickens, and you bet your sweet ass I’ma watch the next episode.

Links: Beer on the Rug

Miles

Unsecured

[12-inch; Modern Love]

Skipping right to my favorite Unsecured track (as time is short in Cerbistan), “Plutocracy” is like the scene that finds Arnold Schwarzenegger in a gun battle in the middle of a factory somewhere: Random bursts of steam escape from screaming pipes, a low rumble sets the scene for the violence to come, and mechanical sounds tick off in intervals. Miles represents the perfect companion project/guise to accompany Demdike Stare and/or other of their ilk (Metasplice/Andy Stott/etc.) down the never-ending tunnel of Electronic. Unsecured is technically an EP. Still, you give me 33RPM and two full sides of music, nearly 30 minutes in all, I tend to see you as an album. There’s nothing lightweight or in-between about it, “Blatant Statement” living up to its name via a buzzing, surging, liquid-digital flow that’s insistent as it is intense and “Technocracy” making its convincing aural arguments atop a bed of menacing, earth-shifting low-end and mixed-green rhythms. The UK is swamped with a glut of electronic/dance releases, so it’s kind of nice to appreciate some of the more intriguing developments from these shores, isolated from the deluge.

Links: Modern Love

Honey Radar

Mary Plum Musket

[CS; Treetop Sorbet]

Remember when Bob Pollard was so drunk that anything he did was considered lo-fi? Then he went and got earwhigs, better liquor, fell upon his English degree, and was just pretty good rather than great? The bloated Dayton Elvis, if you will. Well, Honey Radar will take you back to the fit and trim Bob, the one packing away the beer and able to still be an adequate poet that got to the heart of the matter on four dusty inputs. Mary Plum Musket is that brief remembrance but so much more, as Philly’s Honey Radar also dabble in destruction–not of legacy but of sound. “Roughing up the Painter” and “Mason Neck” are lazily sung explosions of pop brilliance before the tape devolves into rudimentary jams that deconstruct the very premise MPM first presented. Yet it’s all catchy and fun and drunk, like days of yore spent playing horseshoes in a hilly backyard without a proper pit or starting fights at bars with frat guys just to see what would happen; before you realized those 5 years better be put to good use and debt collectors came calling about student debt. This is what it paid for and this is what it’ll get you. Professor Pollard knew it was nigh but it has yet to poison Honey Radar.

Links: Treetop Sorbet

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In this ever-expanding musical world, there's a wealth of 7-inches, cassettes, CD-Rs, and objet d'art being released that, due to their limited quantities and adventurous sonics, go unnoticed by the public at large. Cerberus seeks to document the aesthetic of these home recorders and backyard labels. Email us here.