Wasted Cathedral

Pleasant Valley

[CS; Adhesive Sounds]

The importance of emotion is often debated in music. Though some would choose not to believe it exists, even if a clean room is created to completely sterilize its impact on the creation thereof, it’s impossible to eliminate. Even if the composer wrote emotionless, the receiver will find some emotion or talisman associated with a particular feeling surrounding the moment or surroundings in which the music was heard. It’s best when an artist embraces the emotion of music if for no other reason than the fun of trying to decipher their state of mind through our own experiences. We put meaning where none was intended. That’s not a problem with Pleasant Valley, eagerly living up to its name with an array of spaced electro-pop. The inherent spirituality at play with Wasted Cathedral is embraced as celestial melodies blossom from inorganic substances. Whatever feelings Chris Laramee planted in these five fugues, they are transparent in only that they exist and to ignore them is folly. This will not end a silly debate but perhaps create a new one where we begin to realize what I project, what you project, and what is projected by Mr. Laramee are all different takes on the same notion. I’m sure I Heart Huckabees made a far more interesting case about connectedness.

Links: Adhesive Sounds

The Brainstems

Cold Sweatin’

[CS; Peace Bath]

Well this is a first: A double-B sided tape. If nothing else, that aspect of this cassette gave me a really great way to open up this review, so thanks for that, Brainstems. Also I’m not minding the blood-pumping pulse you have going on here either, so double-thanks. A modern-day Nuggets type of thing centered squarely within the proverbial garage is here for Cold Sweatin’; tin can’n’twine vocals blaring, drums chugging, the bass barreling, bearing down on those two chords with a razor sharp edge and guitar kicking and and punching the thorax with short stabs, clenched fists to the gut or the temple (depending on whether or not you have your headphones on). Yeah, you’ve heard it before and you’re gonna hear it again, dammit. Although I don’t think Thee Oh Sees really birthed this renaissance of the shower-less, sweaty sock-rock thing, it surely made us all want to hear more of it. Definitely caught the wave MJMJ Records is riding currently, and maybe this Peace Bath imprint will give us only more reasons to shake a leg. Brainstems is more proof that it’ll never get old. Good for you, rock’n’roll. I guess you really are immortal, congrats.

Links: The Brainstems

Caroline Says

50 Million Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong

[CS; Happenin]

It’s worth repeating: honesty equals purity. No one can make qualms that Henry Rollins’ “Liar” isn’t a salvo on the act of manipulation of truth but even in its sardonic attempt at exposing assholes, the first person narrative does in fact tell facts (“I promise”) about fiction. Though not painted in red or trapped inside a Faustian sideshow, Caroline Says is wrought with honesty. It enchants her debut cassette, that has more in common with Costello’s no nonsense beginnings rather than the affront Presley put forth in public. Nothing is behind closed doors throughout 50 Million Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong except the origin of the record’s title. Titles such as “My Fiance’s Pets” and “Winter is Cold” point the direction of Caroline Says better than any depiction of her varied pop. With the laid bare honesty comes a warmth, whether through familiarity with the subject matter or the sound therein. It feels worn and comfortable because there are no secrets, just truths sweetly exposed. Don’t we all feel a bit better about our situation now that we’ve stepped into the light?

Links: Happenin

Guenter Schlienz

Treehut Visions

[CS; Sacred Phrases]

What do we really know about Deutschland? Our glimpses of the post-WWII Germany have been whittled into brief textbook talking points and history as reenacted by popular Scorpions songs and conceptual Kraftwerk videos. Guenter Schlienz turns the looking glass onto America, providing more a mirror onto the impact of American culture on Germany as well as a glimpse into the nation as it stands creatively today. Treehut Visions is childhood innocence, a younger Schlienz holed up between hefty branches as he scours the beatnik prose of Kerouac. An idyllic soundtrack removed from the hectic picture of beats on the prowl to find America at its most ruthless, Treehut Visions is a soft reminder that the last 70 years of American history have been far from kind to any outsider to grace the so-called Melting Pot. None of that really matters because Schlienz retreats to the visions of Kerouac and kids as a means to tell the real story. For all the violence and stalemate of two nations sprouting in two distinct trajectories, those differences are where we can learn about each other and not fear the unknown. There are still those clinging to the words of the beats and the actions of the Merry Pranksters as a blueprint for saving our souls, as well as those who saw the future in komische and Kraftwerk. Schlienz puts them both together in a definitive and soothing statement: “It’s all going to work out in the end.”

Links: Guenter Schlienz - Sacred Phrases

Nathan Liow / Angus Tarnawsky

Artifacts

[7-inch; In Context]

Another IC release, another reason to get out of bed in the morning. These lil’ beauties are absolute gems from the inside-out and Artifacts is another proud benefactor of the label’s momentum. Which makes sense because Angus Tarnawsky, whose collaboration with Nathan Liow brought this split 7-inch about, also runs In Context music. Not sure what the impetus behind this project was (record a piano concert, then loop it over itself and manipulate its elements? Not your average exp. mission), but it’s a moment worth sharing over and over. It’s a laughing-gas feeling. Memories form drifting mental movies that blend together and bring heat to the face as you lean it against a bus window on a long nighttime ride. Nimble piano strokes and comps lift, dip, and flutter like angels, sending echoes bouncing off the walls. It’s a lonely feeling. It’s the opposite of, say, having a group of pianists play at the same time. Here, you take the playing of one, set it against itself, and watch as it spider-cracks outward like ice on the lake. Cold, crisp, and clinical; that’s how I like my context. Liow and Tarnawsky bend the corners of time effortlessly, turning a good idea into a great recording. They upped the run on Artifacts to 50 copies, and yet, don’t start celebrating man. They’ll be gone, they’ll be gone, they’ll be gone, brother.

Links: In Context

Joe Houpert/Nathan McLaughlin/Cody Yantis/Josh Mason

Line Drawings

[LP; Desire Path]

First, let’s get the fandom out of the way: SQUEAL~! I love these guys~!

Now some decorum. Line Drawings, as a LP and a 7-inch series, is a means to foster community. It seems rather odd considering how positive and collaborative my Twitter feed is and the whole micro-economy of equally micro-labels fostered togetherness. But there are those dissenting voices, those throw downs between all creative types that divide rather than unite. Though Line Drawings will not be a brokered peace, it does serve to showcase how four friendly musicians can be so in sync and yet separable personalities within their set community. I could argue that by establishing the idea of community, exclusivity is at play. Yet it does not show itself here. The work of each is a different idea and yet they work magnificently in this setting. Each composition is a continuation of and rebuttal against its predecessor.

But I’m afraid I’m clouding the work by straddling the line. That is, after all, the cohesive factor. What does a line truly represent and what that representation-as-projection means to its beholder. It’s a rhetorical question left untouched by Line Drawings. As I see it, this is proof that we can all work together even if we are separated by distance or philosophy. There is nothing to be had in terms of compromise, just in reaching a shared goal. There is power in [a] union and this one is only exclusive to those who wish not to belong. Any sound can go with any other sound; genre is just a division; a crudely drawn idea can become a fully formed work of art.

Links: Desire Path

Bastard Noise / Government Alpha / Hiroshi Hasegawa

Uncertainty Principle

[7-inch; Small Doses]

“SHUUUUT UUUUUP!”

That’s rude, Hiroshi Hasegawa, but I’ll let it slide because you’re rollin’ with Bastard Noise and they’re creating car-crunching chaos behind you, occasionally whirling up a funnel cloud of beast-noise. I think those bear-ox vocals are new; they’re on both sides of the Uncertainty Principle collaborative 7-inch, and they scare me as much as anything does these days. I feel sorry for their mothers. It’s hard to gauge what Hasegawa and Government Alpha bring to this project because they’re both working with Bastard Noise who, as many of us know, can be violent and unpredictable. Government Alpha team up with BN to create lightning beams with their fingers like the emperor from Return of the Jedi (but evil), but then Bastard Noise come out with more of those bear-man vocals and it’s not clear where we stand. Then a glut of electronic wires gets tangled and a spaceship hovers overhead and the red-hot fires of hell are burning beneath our feet as the armies march to certain doom at the command of a syphilis-maddened traitor to his people. Shit, I did it again. Much love, you glorious bastards. Colored vinyl = thick, righteous noise = brick, Cerberus = SIIICK. And I’m out.

Links: Small Doses

Ray Creature

Don’t Stop Talking EP

[CS; NO!]

The unusual heat of the night is getting to me. I am wrestling with my sheets after already besting the Sandman earlier in the evening. My eyes refuse to shut, as I’m forced to rerun Don’t Stop Talking along with the day’s events. It was a rat race, everyone climbing over each other for that tiny morsel. The competition was fierce, the furious energy of Jon and Natascha underscoring the kinetic. Our days have bloomed well beyond the 9-to-5 grind as our waist lines expand at the excuse of too little time and not enough healthy choices. We chain smoke. We pick at our nails. We gnash our teeth. Before we know it, we’ve fallen into a mindless entertainment choice as the dusk settles onto our jaundice-lit homes. Yet I can’t shake Ray Creature. The sensual break from the norm – sensual not necessarily a synonym for sexual. There’s no identifying it completely which is why I am awake and have been for many evenings trying to wrap my head around an endless thought. The best remedy may be one more front-to-back and a few extra helpings of “Success” in an effort to pump me up for the impending sunrise and another day back at the races.

Links: NO!

Disguised as Birds

We Buy Gold

[CS; Geology]

Once upon a time a band named Richmond Fontaine were an awesome rock band that dabbled in twisted folk and alt-country. They never got as loud as they should have, eschewing rock for more storytelling as their career progressed. Today, Disguised as Birds takes up that mantle. There’s a bit of bastardized twang to their otherwise loud and hard rock and roll. Where many alt-country bands began abandoning the Replacements blueprint at the end of the ’90s, it was left to rust until now. Disguised as Birds aren’t ready to claim the neglected Excalibur from its stony perch but there’s an urgency and anger bubbling in the music as they destroy four songs on We Buy Gold. There are moments however were the Milwaukee foursome hint at being more than this sampler of rock. The title track is a bit more wistful if the lyrics are still a bit obtuse about hard living. Disguised as Birds have some musical exploration to do and so long as they stay away from the heavier arena/debauchery rock of the late ’90s in favor of more storytelling heroes of yore, DaB will be worth a dip back into the rock and roll gene pool.

Links: Disguised as Birds - Geology

Sick Hyenas

Sick Hyenas

[CS; Dumpster]

There are tales of a mop-topped foursome who whet their appetites and gnashed their teeth in Hamburg before hitting it big. They were surrounded by equally talents groups without the same guidance or savvy, never to experience the same fame euphoria and sickened meditation as that group of lads. But that dirty biker fist in the jaw still smarts all these years later, and Sick Hyenas wear its scar while pounding out the residual pain of a city never to be swept up in the ancient storm. It’s why Sick Hyenas have not a lick of that post-Hamburg sound in their self-titled, but rather a vamped pre-VU garage vibe that feels close to home. The American Midwest has been mining these treasured surf digs for awhile but it’s hard to imagine Germany still clinging to its black and white days as a generation of Western musicians have taken motorik rather than rock from its vaults. Here it is brought back to you without a trick or an angle other than the form in which is first sprung out of a fatigued nation enamored with the sounds of the UK and US youth brigade. Still as relevant and infectious 50 years later, Sick Hyenas have done Hamburg a great justice. They’ll do your record collection equal service if given the chance.

Links: Dumpster

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.