Charles Barabé

Stigmates

[CS; 905 Tapes]

A real eye-popper/exploder. This is one of the more surprising spools to roll through the reels of my deck in some time. Mr. Barabé is a Montrealite who’s in charge over at the La Cohu label. For his own music he’s composing some kind of bizarre musical bric-a-brac, nether-world insanity. This is my first engagement with his sounds and after listening through a few times I have a feeling that no two releases of his would be alike considering how each track succeeds to do a complete 180. (I guess I’ll have to find out, and indeed, this crazy ass tape is one of those insatiable intruig-ers that instantly begs further investigations). On Stigmates, Barabé guides the listener through some kind of a surrealist macabre theater, outlined with chapters (which are listed as such on the J-card and announced on the tape in a deeply creepy voice in between musical passages). Each piece here sounds composed of different structural elements. I’m hearing a lot of synthesizers, no-input noise makers, sampled acoustic instruments, foreign opera voices, modulators, and hand drums. Those things are all spread out over druggy meditations that make your mind feel like a jungle of thoughts, shrieking noise fits that might make you scratch something you shouldn’t for too long, and also strange Classical passages from something like an inter-planetary chamber group. This all comes out a little nonsensical, and so tracing any kind of real story or pattern across this tape is pretty much impossible as dense and disorienting all this general weirdness truly is. The title of the album and that there are several tracks called “Stigmate” (“Stigmate I,” “II,” “III,” “IV,” and so on) seems to clue that Barabé is investigating a series of points or sites of decay, disease, imperfection… and if we can buy at least that much as some kind of a theme or point of grounding for the scattered circuitry that the sounds find their way through, it might (might) help give you an idea of what the fuck this guy is doing. But the best way to find out is to just listen to it, though, so go ahead and do that and if someone could just let me what the hell is happening inside this guy’s brain, that would be great.

Links: Charles Barabé - 905 Tapes

Poison Girls

Chappaquiddick Bridge

[LP + 7-inch; Water Wing]

Be honest: How many of you actually were around back when Poison Girls were playing shows with Crass and Annie Anxiety? Two of you? Three of you? Negative-one of you? Yeah, a lot of TMT’s readers are young ‘uns, and that’s how we like it, but y’all have got to understand how much greatness came to pass before you started imbibing the current 24-hour music news cycle. For instance: Punk used to be rebellious! Punk used to be disdained by the majority! Punk used to be… Punk! Any understanding you hope to have for the assembly line thrum of today’s ‘scene’ should be augmented by fervent listening to albums like Chappaquiddick Bridge, a lost gem circa 1980 that not only keeps up the punk pride of the Girls’ last reissue on Water Wing, Hex, but peppers in a lot of Gang Of Four basslines I didn’t notice last time around (though they might have been there), not to mention some jangly riffs a lot of bands would turn into MTV gold later in the decade. It all comes down to Vi Subversa, however; she’s the fulcrum on which these tunes rest, and her J-Rotten delivery and quite-sexual lyrics were way ahead of their time (she even delved into the concept of gender before the age of cis-this and that). It’s almost impossible for me to believe she was a middle-aged mother at the time these tracks were recorded; yet there she is, attached to one of the most creative backing bands in punk’s short late 70s/early 80s heyday and taking it all in stride. Perhaps most surprising of all is the fact that Poison Girls challenged the status quo of not only 1980, but 2014! In other words, it’s STILL rare to find a punk band that traverses so many disparate, spread-out corners of the outre-music map. I can only imagine what the average person thought of them in 1980 (likely a mix of perverse fascination, disgust, and ultimately disdain); maybe this is the year they finally get their due?

Links: Water Wing

The Courtneys

Mars Attacks

[7-inch; Hockey Dad]

My ears question whether this experiment is working, yet in my heart I know The Courtneys remain on the level at which they need to be right now. That last full-length impressed a lot of people (including us) and this pretty lil’ 7-inch is all we’ve heard from them in awhile, and they decide to throw some rapping into the friend-punk mix? Didn’t we all learn that this doesn’t work more than a decade ago? HOLD IT: Yes, we were taught well what NOT to do with hip-hop, so from here on out we’ve got to figure out what TO do with hip-hop. “Mars Attacks” takes a stab at it, and I’m not going to argue with the results as much as I’m going to posit that it can only get better from here. And the melodic hooks sink deep enough to implant themselves in your pleasure receptors (that warm sensation isn’t from the drugs, dude), the Bangles harmonies ringing strong and clear until the even-more-confounding b-side remix floats in on cartoon wheels and florescent flames. The remix has so little to do with the original track, and that’s what I like about it. There’s nothing worse than an A-B transfer that does little to expand on the initial ride. Not what I would have expected from these ladies, and all for the better. The watermelon-colored wax looks awesome, too; cheers all around.

Links: Hockey Dad

Gino and The Goons

Shake It!

[12-inch/CS; Slovenly]

Ever since that Hell Shovel record I’ve been keeping a lazy eye on Slovenly Records, and that resulted in me finally being able to review something of theirs (as they don’t send out vinyl promos; for shame!), that something being Gino & The Goons’ Shake It!. I wouldn’t rank this as the best thing those Vegas desert rats have put out, but if you’re in the Hozac/Castle Face/Goner/In the Red/Almost Ready orbit you probably won’t think twice before snatching up this hot-pink stretch of occasionally glammy, always punk-driven leather nutz. Lots of fun singalongs and escapism in the form of lyrical trysts to Mexico to be had, the sort of music that wears its sunglasses indoors and spends most of its time at the hotel pool with a bottomless derailer (if you’re not privy to the Pac Northwest drinking scene it’s a bunch of alcohol and fruit juice sloshed together). Sex, death, and paranoia; yep, that’s what being 24 is like! The Black Lips have said it better but they’re practically the grandpas of the scene by now. If you yearn for fresh blood look no further.

Links: Slovenly

Mechanimal

Secret Science

[LP; Inner Ear]

The most daring moments of Secret Science are the Doc Moreau mash-ups of completely opposite tonalities. There are moments when 16-bit fanboyism collides with an equal fervor for Depeche Mode. Peter Murphy nu metal nightmares and goth-hop. If there is a cohesive thread of thought, it’s only that disparate sounds should be forcefully bred to create hybrids the world can’t wait to willfully shun. But not us. Not this cross-hatch of oddities. We’ll wear our black combat boots and Wu-Tang shirts with no worry. We’ll speak about Rammstein with admiration even as we secretly listen to the latest LX Sweat while speeding running Super Metroid. While hideous when putting a mirror to itself, this is the reflection a very large subsect of the world has been trying to create for decades. All interests in one pool, free from gentrification and delineation.

Links: Inner Ear

Lusitania

Lusitania

[LP; King of the Monsters]

Lusitania might be the heaviest release yet for Cerbs, its black- and death-metal underpinnings smashed against a brick wall of continuous rhythmic pummel. When the drums get ripping and the guitar leads start slithering over the base of the supporting players it all seems like too much. Then the dirge sets in. Just as heavy, it menaces in a more primordial way. Guitar strings squeal for justice, high hats flail, ever-present bass forms a concrete core and, every so often, we get a diabolical crackle-croak or two. I got a Dystopia vibe from the cover art, and a post-power violence/doom feel creeps into the arrangements. It’s all over the map though. There are names I could pull out of the ol’ hat but these days metal is everywhere, in everything, and as a result everyone is starting to sound like everything, with few exceptions. Lusitania succeed because even if they don’t possess the most distinct template, they rip a lot of veins out while they play, and when you listen to them you bleed with them to a certain extent. It’s powerful stuff that toys with the black-metal format in all manner of mischievous ways to boot. There also is an uncommon patience at work. Young bands don’t tend to wade in long periods of noisy purgatory, particularly on their debut album, in order to lend that extra dose of mood. Lusitania do just that and fade out the first side of vinyl rather than blasting the wax to bits. Side B is sick as syphilis though, with a few traditional heavy cuts followed sonics straight outta the junkyard and a nice, dark noise-prog-metal drone waiting to ensnare your senses. So either way tension is high, emotions on the brink of spilling into sheer panic, you might say. When high-level metal bands start coming out of Arizona you know the country is on the cusp of a metal takover. Bring back Metal X!!!

Links: King of the Monsters

Cherie Cherie

Share

[12-inch; Gilgongo]

I’m trying to resist being yet another reviewer who can’t seem to evaluate a release by a female singer without exclusively mentioning other bands with female singers. It’s a tempting trap to fall into; you might even call it a Tiger Trap, an-OH GOD I’m doing it again. But that’s the thing: When I listen to a less-punky TT track like “You’re Sleeping” I hear a slight resemblance. Name-dropping Aislers Set is almost a reflex at this point, as is throwing out the ol’ Sandwitches/Vivians/Suspirians curveball when it seems like no one’s looking. BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT I’M TRYING TO DO. I mean, that’s what I’m doing, but I’m not in any way attempting to. Anyhoo, Share often goes in the direction of a less-theatrical, more earnest Black Angels, or maybe Lorelle The Obsolete. Tunes like “Friday’s Child” hold a lot of weight behind their simple riffs, maybe a little unease/panic too. Apparently acceptance has never come easy for Cherie Cherie; they have to work harder than most of the rest of us. Yet they betray few of their cards. There’s nothing showy about Share, and when the icestorm of noise overtakes “Why Are We Hiding” there’s a feeling of relief, as if they’ve said their piece and now they’re fine with retreating to the shadows. Snappy sound on this one, accentuated by the 45 rpm spinny-dinny, and it’s also a very clean pressing. No hiss, snaps, or what sounds like your soul being scraped like bong resin between tracks. Happy days!(?)

Links: Gilgongo

Bryan Counter & Satchel Forrester

Twice Stopped

[CS; Small Scale Music]

A little less wild than contemporary percussion and sax outfits, there’s still a heavy pulse of excitement when listening to the free form wails and wallops of Counter and Forrester. There’s a bit more guidance in the structures at work here, deviating slightly from the zaniness of Flahtery or Colbourne – but the showmanship of Forrester’s alto saxophone is on par with those blow-hards (and that’s a compliment). I miss walking into shadowy holes in the wall in my old Ballard home to hear jazz this ripe with energy and enthusiasm. People playing for the love of a neglected sound, but it’s captured on tape here without missing that adrenaline rush or the coolness one feels in the moment. Small Scale is quickly amassing a catalog of new kids that can help bring jazz and underground culture together. It doesn’t have to be all synths and drones my friends.

Links: Small Scale Music

Shredderghost

I Guess

[CS; Self-released]

Ian Franklin of Delaware sent in this modest cassette, full of modest music, modest artwork, and one modest-as-fuck title. “I Guess” shrugs at me as I click play, the spools turning and into my eardrums strums the electric guitar of Shredderghost. You guess? I guess this is goddamn gorgeous, mister. The strings all strands of skeletal and spindly sound, shivering in the cold of a wintery universe where they, an amplifier, some pedals, and a tape machine all find themselves huddled in close for warmth. And a warmness, a glow emanates from it, one that beckons you closer, into its zone of psychedelic safety. I want very much to call this a new generation of folk musician, like Franklin, These Wonderful Evils, Insect Factory, Last Eyes, are all re-figuring the guitar and those powerfully pleasing melodies into twisting and turning new models by way of technology and amplification, electricity shocking the very core of genre, and the sounds thus unspooling over the course of a side of a tape. Few of these folks have refined the style into something I’m ready to call a masterpiece, but I Guess is nonetheless another Eureka!-piece of an assembling puzzle I’m putting together in my head, which warrants it repeated listens, if not just for the beautiful ambient buzzy bliss the album produces in its own right. Carry on Shredderghost… you guess… shit.

Links: Shredderghost

Cool Ghouls

A Swirling Fire Burning Through The Rye

[LP; Empty Cellar]

What I loved about the last Coo-Ghou LP was the complete lack of cynicism for the jangly psych that influenced it. It seemed like they were the type of band that, regardless of what was happening around them, would go their own way and forge their own sound. That trend is in full flux on Cool Ghouls’ latest, A Swirling Fire Burning Through The Rye, an effort replete with more twists than the last outing (including a scary ode to Fleet Foxes and a sideways nod to BJM) and a dose of melodic stoner enthusiasm you’ll find oddly familiar. “What A Dream I Had” is another example of the all-ambition, zero-pretension zeitgeist of the Ghouls, psych’d up to the nines, serving up snappy melodies, and segueing into a Byrds-y breakdown that forms a chain from the last record to the present. Perhaps the sequel to “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night”? Perhaps not, and “Orange Light” is even better, with bass lines straight out of a Plates Of Cake cut and full of that sun-kissed swagger these dudes wager their livelihoods on. I will admit there’s a bit of a lull: After burning up Side A A Swirling Fire tanks out just a bit on B. Less cohesion, not as many joyous vibes/mellow melodies. Still a solid effort, still a luscious (and limited) red-orange, splatter-wax piece of splendor you’ll want revolving in a pie case in your record room. Do what it takes.

Links: Empty Cellar
  

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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.