The Spookfish

Living Room

[CS; Singapore Sling]

An Appalachian-faring fellow named Dan Goldberg appears as the wiley Spookfish when he’s on cassette tape, and it’s easy to see why Singapore Sling picked him up for yet another notch on their stellar catalog this year: more gauzy, gooey synth-pop/folk-hybrid singer-songwriter music that embellishes the inherent hiss and warp of home-done doings on tape. Goldberg has a knack for catchy, sticky-sweet melodic material, and here he matches it with toy drum-machine, Casio keyboard hooks, and aching acoustic guitar backdrops that are above all pleasure-center pleasing. It’s music best suited for either a dance party for fleas or a campfire singalong. Yeah, that’s a weird thing to write for sure, but I don’t quite know how else to describe what’s going on here. No matter the album’s stylistic schizophrenia, with Living Room, Goldberg is able to capture an overarching atmosphere that feels truly lived in, as comforting and homely as its title; listening you can feel the fuzzy, itch-scratching fibers of your dad’s couch from the 70s, and feel the electric heat from a glowing screen of the rabbit-eared boob-tube running Saturday morning cartoons at the end of the room. This is obviously a place Goldberg knows well, a place with its own personality with whom he can be himself, having fun inhaling helium and playing with his various toys to make a lonely space seem a little less-so. Make this tape your friend when you’re feeling alone.

Links: The Spookfish - Singapore Sling

Tom James Scott

Teal

[LP; Skire]

If you didn’t catch “Ariel” over at Choco, that’s OK because the album it came from, Teal, contains a treasure trove of amb-dro splendor for you to wrap your fickle ears around. Touches of piano and traditional drone spray-mist abound, but there are several ways to the metaphoric waterfall (and at one point I think I also literally hear a waterfall), and Tom James Scott explores them all. From a day at the beach with sand licking at your toes to the sounds of a wooden widget being put together and taken apart again, if you can drift away to it, you’ll find it here. Hate to reference Idea Fire Company yet again but snatches of their Postcards show up in Scott’s mailbox, while delicate vellum votives of sound paint a rosy picture for the mind to melt to. No offense to the tape, as we love them here at Cerbs, but the vinyl version of Teal stands head and shoulders above, raining down on the listener with an immense cloak of light yet dense sound. Three-hundred copies, one of which gets you in the door; what you do from there is up to you.

Links: Skire

Sad Horse

Purple on Purple Makes Purple

[CS; Field Hymns]

I always wanted a coked-up Jon Spencer version of Sticky Fingers. But those are just words according to the presser, so what about it? It’s two kids of the opposite gender fucking around on guitars and drums, making oddly rock variants of punk ethos. There’s a bit of pop and pomp thrown in to make it more interesting than these words being written. But here’s something we all can relate to: the music of busting ennui. That pixie stick heavy moment when sitting around is no longer worth the time. There’s energy to burn and something to say, even if no one cares to really hear it. But Sad Horse will MAKE YOU! They are ALL CAPS and IN YOUR FACE (at a safe distance from you to the stage). This is a band that can make a fine cassette but really need unleashing on the national stage. You know, that middle finger Billy Joe gave Clear Channel because for a moment he remembered he likes making music and playing it. Then they paid him off and shipped him to rehab before people also remembered they liked being angry and not placated. That’s Sad Horse. They are that brief moment when G.G. Allin showed a bit of remorse for his actions and just played a damn song. They are the time when Johnny Rotten realized he had no talent but did it for love. .

Links: Field Hymns

Gonzo

Ruidos [A Portuguesa]

[CS; Discrepant]

Ruidos [A Portuguesa] might end up being my record of the year. How does Gonzo do it? He’s the fuckin’ best, plain and simple, refining the art of World-style sample-snatching/found-sound/collage for yet another mixtape that sounds like nothing, anywhere and yet holds the potential to sound good to everyone, everywhere. It’s remarkable, too, because there’s simply no good time to imbibe audio this demanding of the listener. You can’t study while you pump these jams, nor can you concentrate at work; you can’t jog to it and you damn-well can’t throw down yoga poses to it; so what exactly is Ruidos for? Everything else: Allow its nutrients to nurture you, take the time to let its creepy constructions weave their way into the fabric of your life, stitch by stitch. Rarely will you find such a confluence of original artistic vision and unpredictability wrapped up in the same package, simply aching to be discovered and mined for all its worth. I can barely wrap my mind around the enormity of what Gonzo has accomplished here, much less dissect its baffling contents for you. It might seem like I haven’t done my job as a reviewer but DAMMIT JIM I’m a pool man, not a doctor, and these blurb-style blasts only allow so much in the way of fastidious details. Suffice to say, I’m head over heels for Ruidos [A Portuguesa] and you will be too if you give it the chance to sweep you off your feet. Also: I realize the tape format has served Gonzo well, but can vinyl be too far off for this denizen of the deep end? Forever recommended…

Links: Discrepant

Nudes

Stain

[7-inch; Iron Lung]

When I get a 7-inch in the mail I secretly hope it’ll sound like “Scared”: Torn up like a post-war disposition, emotionally stilted, unpredictable, and indebted to punk and, in an indirect way, power-violence. Jesus, it’s as if Nudes plugged into my brain and asked the question, “What do we not hear NEAR enough of in the underground?” This is it, broody, this is it, raw like Johnny Cochran’s intentions and bridling against any kind of authority, whether it emerge from genre considerations or those who prefer to keep indie-rock tidy and reliable. If you respect bands like Das Oath/Dead & Gone/Charles Bronson, labels like Ebullition, legends like that of Choking Victim, the idea of The Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower, and those early, warp-speed Bad Brains recordings, you’ll hear cuts like “Creatures” and wonder how you’ve been doing without them. I’m sure Nudes already have broken up and formed a few new bands, but don’t let Stain become one of those 7-inches you pass on, then regret until your dying days. Who knew Seattle had this kind of murderous energy? Time to bring back The Abodox…

Links: Iron Lung

Endo Kame

Blue Dream

[CS; Lillerne]

This is one slow roll. I don’t think Blue Dream has ever gotten out of bed. A bad case of the Rip Van Winkle. One long dream floating into the next, a peaceful slumber only known to a select few. It’s a settled fog on our eye lids, well into our deep R.E.M. cycle before the clouds part and it becomes vivid. At first it’s a flash of light from atop a solitary hill but soon it becomes a race to the corona; to the white hot flashes of the moon through the eye. The brain begins working its illusionary magic, beating in rhythm with an increase heart beat. It settles into a pattern of colors and images that can only be in the mind of the asleep. You never want to wake but all good dreams must end. The real world beckons, the ringing bell of wakefulness calls to you. This dream will be here when you return.

Links: Endo Kame - Lillerne

DEN

Blossom Juice

[CS; The Ashton Velvet Rock Club Recording Company]

All that pure and pristine and beautiful stuff that soaks up the sun on the surface of the Earth — sure it radiates its pretty and pleasing light. But pretty things piss and shit, too. Somewhere in the bowels of our city streets, there’s a depository of all the liquid runoff of the every day. It all collects in a vile, putrid pool of sloppy sludge. And DEN swims there. Ew — OK, OK, my setup for this little review here is disgusting, but you see where I’m going with this? “Blossom Juice.” That’s the name of the album, and hey, sometimes rock and roll needs to be just that — the noisy, dirty, soupy, toxic result of whatever it was that was beautiful at the beginning, the leaky, bleak remains. DEN captures the essence of this with a sludge-metal skeleton without really being all that metal, adding its own unique vitriolic noise element. We’ve got a power-trio setup here diving into simple, slowly crawling rock figures based in the bass, shrouded with blackened tape noise and harrowing whooshes and whistles of a passing storm. I got this damned tape over the summer, but I’m almost glad I’m reviewing it now, here in October — there’s a spookiness here that’s magnetic, and terrifying harshness, and Adam Harris (who you might know as the proprietor of Retrograde Tapes) providing some blood-curdling growls on the vox to complete the effect. Mostly, though, this tape is sold on the solidness of the band itself, some sick drumming and truly awesome riffs (especially in the murderous final number, “Loustinom”) laying the foundation for the odd and unsettling melodic material that haunts the music from above, and then of course that thick, pale layer of tape noise. Yeah it’s harsh and part of that underground cassette culture, etc., but ultimately…? Horns. Throw’em if you got’em and forget about it.

Links: The Ashton Velvet Rock Club Recording Company

Ko

EP

[7-inch; Joyful Noise]

Formerly of Slothpop, Kristin Newborn’s solo-esque Ko (or KO if your CAPS LOCK is stUCK) furthers her pastime of creating musique of slower methodologies. The simply titled EP is a calm drive in the hotbox, improved by sustained exposure to the smoke and peeling vinyl. It’s a long turn of the stereo dial, flipping through variant forms of inside-the-outside pop. Though one would believe the haze to dull the senses, it’s the reverse. Each song steels your nerve, as each little loop and snare pound builds more daring and yet tightly tethered to some form of reality. Whether it’s the bumpy pavement rattling the hubcaps or the jerky steering as a result, there’s always a moment that keeps EP from drifting into the ether of nonsense. The appraisal of “Bitches Online” a long overdue response to Phil Elverum’s self-screed, “Get off the Internet.” I would like to make the same generalization with “Choke” as some anthem challenging the totality of “Don’t Smoke,” as well but there is little shared between Mount Eerie and Ko beyond enigmatic and clever songwriters occupying some sort of zen that is beyond mortal comprehension. That, and the mountains of Newborn’s world seem far brighter, like that after a virgin snow. These are songs untouched by cynicism or critique, and that’s why I stash my 7-inch in the glove compartment. There it remains to sooth me the next time I take a city cruise and need to slow my roll.

Links: Joyful Noise

Ghetto Ghouls

Ghetto Ghouls

[LP; Monofonus Press]

If you like your garage to be Coachwhips-heavy but of Black Lips fidelity, look no further than the Ghetto Ghouls (as opposed to their West Coast cousins, Cool Ghouls, also Cerbs-ees), a steamin’ Austin outfit that’s in like Flynn and out in the blink of an eye. A lot of these riffs have that 1950s locomotive feel, kicked into fourth gear and rarely hitting true overdrive (wherein distortion would become part of the equation), even kicking down into second for a few less-convincing outings on Side B. For me, the uncouth ragers of A equate to WHERE IT’S AT, and even though it’s all a bloody blur I can make out enough to pass along to you: Clean-sweeping guitars, a drummer not afraid to fill nor spill, a bassist in the middle of the shit sandwich, and a singer that’s passable in a carnival-barker kind of way while not factoring into the mix as much as you might assume. It’s all about the thrust of the arrangements, and they’re whip-tight despite the high speeds involved. Between this and that B-Lines 12-inch, looks like I chose the wrong week to quit bathtub speed. What’s more, I guess I can’t complain I haven’t had the chance to gorge on garage-rock anymore; shit’s getting real ‘round here. Keep it coming, you greasy bastardz.

Links: Monofonus Press

Sigríður Níelsdóttir

Grandma Lo-Fi: The Basement Tapes Of Sigríður Níelsdóttir

[CS; Hornbuckle]

In a growing epidemic of grandparents being cooler than you originally thought, Nana Sigríður Níelsdóttir created tape recorded gems starting at the age of 70 in her native Iceland. And though your Mamaw may be too busy playing Bingo or watching Papaw devour reruns of Matlock, truth is something fun festers inside her gardening bonnet. These whimsical home recordings present the most honest interpretations of pop music (and you’re only as old as you think you are). While I’m tempted to list off a bunch of American outsiders that you’re all too sick of hearing bandied about, let’s keep it simple because in reality Sigríður Níelsdóttir was her own popular cult figure in Iceland. 7 years and 59 albums before her second (third? forth?) career was finished, she had become a legend in her own right thanks to a Casio keyboard and a quaint voice. Now’s the time to pester your beloved grandparent about being the next Ariana Grande or Church Lady. Give ‘em this for Christmas and send them on their way to glory! But make sure concerts end by 4pm.

Links: Hornbuckle
  

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.