Test House
Bitemarks [12-inch; All Hands Electric]

I remember hearing Supersystem for the first time and, along with missing El Guapo, thinking, “Damn, it’s like it’s the 1980s again, and everyone’s invited!” That was nothing — groups like Test House (and King God, who were much more grandiose about things) pull all the levers on the time machine. Liquid beats, pan-flute synths, “rhythmatronics” (a.k.a. tightly wound, robotic bass rhythms), and the sort of vocals that, if they were being subtitled, would glow florescent. Very fluid arrangements, too; there’s a certain urgency about these guys. They mean it, and that always means something. Bitemarks is about as engrossing as post-coldwave colorwheels get, especially “Cold Void Jiggle” and its lumps of playdough synths that, true to their title, wiggle like jelly. I like squishing them between my ear-fingers. “Island” might be the one track that doesn’t compute, its flat-footed figures doing little to help Test House’s argument, even if its endless coda is well executed. Just a hitch in the road. Seek and crank.

Links: All Hands Electric

Mole House

Mole House

[CS; Night People]

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Whatthehellisthat
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IfIcatchthatsonofa
buzzzzzzzzzzz
Melanie
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Ahhhhh
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It’saninfectioussortofbuzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Onethatwon’tgetoutofmyearzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz AllthewayfromMelbournezzzzzzzzz MoleHousehasdonethistomebeforezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Ilovekitschylofibuzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ShowersandRainzzzzzzzzz ShowersandRainzzzzzzzzzz ShowersandRainzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Links: Night People

Trophy Wife

Stella, My Star

[7-inch; Private Leisure Industries]

Trophy Wife hit with a tight-as-fuk debut 7-inch, with Stella, My Star being their attempt to retain that momentum. It’s a bit clumsy, each side reaching for a totally different gravity, but think it works on the whole. Title track “Stella” is where I’d put all my money — it’s got sort of an Erase Errata/Jenny Hoystrom thing going, ominous in all the right places and bolstered by a throbbing bass line. Nice, volcanic guitar work, too. Then “Frankie’s Song” hits and we’re back honking noses in Karate Kid II, confused, disoriented, and likely to lose its footing like, as Odd Future would say, a glutton with diabetes. Love the synths, intrigued by the flow, warmed by the bass breakdown that puts a Sonic Youth tramp-stamp on the whole thing. Folks at Private Leisure Industries said they can’t get anyone to lend their ink to this one, and I just don’t know why that would be. Agree to disagree, general record-buying public?

Links: Trophy Wife - Private Leisure Industries

John Wesley Coleman III

“Alone by the Door” b/w “I Want You to Be Like Everybody Else”

[7-inch; Sophomore Lounge]

I once embraced any folkish voice like it was a dream girl. I was happy to envelop myself in the new skin of the next Tim Buckley or Nick Drake wannabe. Those days have long passed, myself becoming bitter when the beautiful lady turned into a venomous oasis of my powerful imagination. Coleman III makes me sentimental for my own mind tricks while employing a few of his own. “Alone by the Door” may rest on a familiar refrain (“You know it’s funny/We ain’t got money”), but it works with the spooky burst of Theremin near the end of the song’s plucked melody. It’s all warm summers and Scooby Doo mysteries with this one. “I Want You to Be Live Everybody Else” is a bit stranger — not as overboard as Daniel Johnston, but heavily indebted to him. The rhythm section of Rob Halverson and the vocals of Leslie Sisson lend this sweet, effacing ode a bit of heaviness. Coleman III is clearly a new troubadour. Now if I can just escape this synthesized morass to find the beacon.

Links: John Wesley Coleman III - Sophomore Lounge

Sheer Agony

Sheer Agony

[7-inch; Fixture]

What a surprise Sheer Agony are, their self-titled 7-inch mimicking a cup of wine turning to blood as you drink it, then back to wine again. The backbone of their sound is a more outgoing brand of Clash-style punk, or at least post-punk, but their perfectly planned shifts and lurches hit the ear more like early Scritti Politti or Joggers (extra points for eliciting my old Portland faves), and their instrumentation is far more twangy than anything John Q. Strummer usually fucks with. I like this a fuckin’ lot, if you must know. These sudden breaks into spindly arpeggios and glittery yet eerie riffs belie the fairly innocent nature of the melodious vocals. Different than just about every modern-era band you’re listening to, I’d be willing to wager, even if it IS only the warbling sense of drunkenness setting it apart. I always find it fascinating when kids with new ideas jump amps-first into punk waters, and I love where Sheer Agony go with it. A nice surprise in a genre undernourished of hype.

Links: Sheer Agony - Fixture

M. Geddes Gengras

Beyond the Curtain

[CS; Holodeck]

M. Geddes Gengras is becoming a second Keith Fullerton Whitman, because you never know when you might need a spare creative unafraid of any genre, sound, or idea. Beyond the Curtain finds the sometime collaborator once again flying solo, this time in the world of modular synth, turning blips and bloops into catchy kitsch. Despite the repetitiveness (always with the same beat, this music), MGG spreads his wings over the course of three long thinkers. Intermezzo “Air Solo” is the highlight, sitting somewhere between 8-bit wet dream and Arthur C. Clark futuristic dystopia. Space Invaders collide with space invaders, all over the course of eight and a half minutes of frenzied dancing. The tape’s title track takes a turn to Xander Harris/Justin Sweatt territory, a bit more sinister and dangerous in its intentions. Should I panic in the void or just embrace the free fall into nothingness? Eventually, the horror show breaks up upon landing softly in Kirby’s Dream Land. Always with the strange circumstances, this one. As for what to expect next, perhaps an album of oud experiments or Gengras playing a set of Tupperware in his kitchen. It’s guaranteed to be interstellar.

Links: M. Geddes Gengras - Holodeck

Stephen Steinbrink

Rennet

[7-inch; Funkytonk]

Stephen Steinbrink is a prodigy of sorts, having recorded all sorts of sides in his teens and, in the last few years, tossing out LPs via his French Quarter project on the Life’s Blood and Offtempo labels. The Rennet 7-inch reveals a quieter side, cuts like “It’s Home / Make My Nest” offering a comfy respite from all the neon “bleep” of the modern-music revolution. I flash back to the hushed work of Holopaw first and foremost, which is never a bad thing, and it’s a given that when I listen to a composition from Steinbrink, it’s going to linger on my ear-finger. That said, save “Contradictory Convolutions,” which is the perfect porch-folk ploy and reason enough to pay attention, “Rennet” isn’t as impressive as I would have guessed. It floats by without making enough waves to rock the boat, even the pleasant melodies of “Creosote” failing to dazzle. Still, a solid investment if you’ve been following FQ, and don’t forget to seek out “Contradictory Convolutions.”

Links: Stephen Steinbrink - Funkytonk

Tropical Trash

Fear of Suffering

[7-inch; Sophomore Lounge]

There’s very little that’s tropical concerning Tropical Trash, keener using razor-blade repetition to cut off excess weight of permanent vacationers. Fear of Suffering is lean muscle and bone. A-side “Baltimore” is locked in step with minimalist punks, sharp drums breaking through a repeating motif just a hair shy of angry. Perturbed? Bothered? It doesn’t matter — “Baltimore” borrows its rumbling pit from the city that lends its name. No Omar, but plenty of Snoop cool. “False Crypt” is where Tropical Trash showcases their cutting edge, slicing away fake palm trees to maim lazy Sandals clients. The compact punches to the face and stomach, the quick cuts from the blade unnoticeable in nimble follow-up “Pentagram Ring Finger” and furious screamer “Rawmind and Burning Ghost.” The only jungle terrain of Tropical Trash is that which can be smothered in a healthy dose of Agent Orange. Pressed on a traditional, all-white 78 so you can have recalls of punk’s beginnings without having ever been.

Links: Tropical Trash - Sophomore Lounge

Terry Malts / Dead Angle

Shit Split

[7-inch; Loglady]

Weird. While Terry Malts’ arrangements are fuzzy and heavy, the vocals on “Disconnect,” cadence-wise, remind me more of lighter fare such as Jens Lekman and Craft Spells. Then on “Don’t Think You’re Funny,” the second offering on this Shit Split with Dead Angle, they go all Jesus & Mary Chain on us, retaining the aforementioned heaviness and also more of a pop sheen. Solid, albeit not as impressive as Dead Angle, who blow the lid off the goddamn scene with “Why Don’t You.” Powerful, propulsive, proper-fucked; I remember seeing Foals years ago and, despite their problems, they were catchy and tight like this. Almost unstoppable. I mention them because Dead Angle have them beat. They even land a few roundhouses on old fave Joggers while delivering even better in the vocals category. “Malice in Your Words” follows, and it’s a much different exercise, more Delgados than anything, also batting around The Aisler’s Set like a cat with a yarn ball. Let them scratch you.

Links: Loglady

Sam Hatzaras

2007-2012

[CS; I Had an Accident]

The strangest things come in the mail, oftentimes without me expecting them. Such is the case with Sam Hatzaras’ 2007-2012. It’s a weird blend of 90s hip-hop, 80s new-wave, and 70s new-age. It’s Wu-Tang Clan sowing the assholes shut of Human League and feeding them tiny bits of Terry Riley. It’s spiritual in its connectivity, combining smatterings of Hatzaras’ varied projects into a colorful palette of musical visions. I’m tripping hard with Enya as we desperately reach to grope Dale Bozzio in a slo-mo plane. That’s the beauty of all of this: It’s EVERYTHING. As the modern music world reaches into the past and future for inspiration, Hatzaras teleports in a phone booth through epochal atmospheres to collect a who’s who of sounds. 2007-2012 is a touchstone to so many sounds, perhaps the Dead Sea Scrolls deciphered. This is a trip that doesn’t quit. Who would want it to? I always wanted to know what went on in Wonka’s tunnel, and Hatzaras is finally opening his factory to me. All I had to do was crawl through the rabbit hole of my mailbox.

Links: I Had an Accident
  

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.