[LP; King of the Monsters]

I’m glad I listened to GOG’s self-titled album in a number of settings, from the ol’/trusty record room to my untrustworthy car stereo to my phone, because each experience yielded disparate conclusions. In my record room, the ride cymbal jumped out too much during the black-metal parts, while on my i-ph’n the more abstract noise sections sounded more fine-tuned and rife with subtlety. Such is the drill in this era of flexible audio consumption, and I’ll add that every environment, on the whole, was favorable to GOG, a cog in the monstrous avant-metal machine I’ve been trying (often only to fail, frankly) to shed more light on. What I admire about this particular project is the breadth of its explorations, which, if they were water, would take on the form of ice (cold, metallic, crunchy), mist (soft, eternal), water (life-sustaining, yet deadly), and cloud (foreboding, grey with doom), each element sustaining those that come after or before it. Perhaps the speed-demon drumming and sacrificial screaming of “The First Cure” provides the most primal thrill, but that’s not to say there’s a whole lot of atmospheric drifting. Each event is of consequence, each drill/drone/drag through the mud serving the mother brain. Michael Bjella’s been doing his thing as GOG for almost a decade now, and this latest entry in his timeline serves as a stellar point to join his orbit.

Links: King of the Monsters

Atlantic Thrills

Atlantic Thrills

[LP; Almost Ready]

I’m convinced the key to Atlantic Thrills’ self-titled record exists within the confines of one dynamite track: “Holy Mountain.” Everything the band build-up to culminates in this intense, screamin’-out-loud garage-rocker, which stomps like Black Lips but melodically hews more to Cool Ghouls. And don’t we all “need some place to hide”? I sure-as-shit do. “Lie to Me” presents an altogether different challenge, namely can a band of Atlantic Thrills’ stripe deviate into xylophone hits and guitar slidin’ and make it stick? I’m still not sure on that one, but I’m glad they tried, and in the greater context of this LP I’m glad they exist because the garage explosion (Oh Sees, Goner, the Lips, Slovenly, Ty Seegs, In the Red, etc.) needs their personality and somewhat rootsy reverberations. “Blind Lead the Blind” is another example of their quirky knack for re-purposing the past, present, and future of the artform, as it could exist in just about any era, but it’s ours and that’s exciting to me and should be to you. I can only imagine how it all shakes out in a concert setting, what with those simple, addictive instrumental breakdowns and group vocals. Interested to hear what the A-Thrills try next, though this easily could be one of those bands that breaks up after one record, to be mourned and fully appreciated thereafter. Let’s hope that ain’t the case, and/or even go a step further and ENSURE that ain’t the case. Feel me?

Links: Atlantic Thrills

German Army

Social Catalyst

[CS; Jozik]

Perennial Cerberus favorites, it seems it’s my turn to review the latest German Army dalliance with greatness. I would like to thank the academy for this honor, and Grantshoe and Crawfss for the privilege. I really wanted to say something different as I sit up here but I think the long list of accomplishments and adjectives my colleagues have heaped German Army are more apt. So let’s put it as simply as possible: Why aren’t you making German Army a household name? This is the sort of cold war mood music that fits the current climate of frosty Risk than it does the nuclear game of chess that gave birth to proto-sub-genres of dark, dank synthesizer music. The robotic feel of old is replaced with something a bit more fleshy, running hot and cold as determined by the time and day it is when German Army decide its ripe for recording. There’s a pulse running through these icy veins and though it rarely shows anything other than a shark’s demeanor, you know there’s a bit of fear, understanding, and soothsaying. Our world is crumbling for the 273rd time and as we tear it all down just to build it all back up like a toddler with a new set of Legos, it’s the stoic realism of Social Catalyst that calms us down. Shit’s going down and German Army has been warning us, Cerberus has been a cleric, and you aren’t listening! Why won’t you listen?

(That’s a call to action, people)

Links: Jozik



[LP; Totally Wired]

GRAN will pull the chair out from under you just when you think you’ve got them figured out. Lest you assume their attack consists of little more than pop gestures warped by lo-fi fuzz, the group whip out a quasi-Les Georges Leningrad section on Chair and wash it out so heavily there’s nothing left to hold onto, proving their individuality and flexibility in one fell swoop. The singer even hollers in a strange, country/western manner during “Sorry,” further muddying the waters. “Wooden Beats” lures back into a bit of a pop aura, albeit with synths too cheeky for any FM dial you might have access to, while “Todd’s Syndrome” might just be one of the most mystique-packed oddities you’ll ever hear, lead by squishy synths and what sound like perverted drum-machine woodblock approximations. Nestled amid all these scene-stealing flourishes, however, are solid, addictive melodies that will have you attempting to figure out where you heard them and how you can get a hold of them and shove them back in your brain. Behind it all, that’s sort of the highest compliment out there, no?

Links: Totally Wired

Evan A. James

Evan A. James

[CS; Adhesive Sounds]

Remember the first time you heard “Lucas with the Lid Off”? How about “Cantaloop”? “Rebirth of Slick”? Are you just too young to remember these smooth jazz influenced hip-hop hits? Go put your ear buds back in and slink away quietly.

For those of you looking the next evolution, come to Evan A. James. Though not dance derived (or intended), the symphonic scraps of James’ self-titled tape evoke a sense of history that was barely touched upon in that quick time of jazz meeting mainstream during the early ’90s. People forget the desolate frontier it was at that time, when all musics ran to get into the door before it slammed shut and was wedged closed by alternative bands we never grew to know. But James rekindles that pioneer spirit even in a land that has grown from those shut out 25 years ago. In the tent city that followed, somehow James has found a way to grab hold of those faint wafts of soul that came back to the masses, using it as a spark for something equally inventive, yet beholden to no set form. Which is why by the time this cassette has run its course, you’ll momentarily forget about those seemingly ancient breaths of fresh air because a newer, stronger rush of pure oxygen will fill those lungs, benefited by too many people on the other side of the door sucking up all their air long ago while the tent city outsiders were left to chaste and noble lifestyles. Ah!

Links: Adhesive Sounds

Grant Evans


[CS; Hooker Vision]

I can hear why Grant Evans’ next tape after Lacerations is called Respite; we’re all going to need one after getting sliced and diced to ribbons by this cracked, corroded cassette. Apparently these compositions were created by acoustic instruments, mostly, which were then, as you might guess, cracked and corroded. But you’d be surprised what you’ll find amid the harsh, searing sections and unidentifiable gurgles. The title track, for one, could have been recorded at an old-school train station, with steam clouding the air and distant whistles beckoning the ear. “Enemy” could almost be an Eric Copeland/Terrestrial Tones track, were it not for the terrifying streaks of harshness peaking in the window like wicked sunshine. “Fat Bride” is where this reviewer really gets his ya-yas out though, as this cut contains the perfect balance of creepiness and trippery, queasiness and disorientation, oddity and curiosity. An ominous rumble underpins what seem to be flashes of human utterings, though you can never be sure when everything’s being fed through a wood-chipper of a time machine. Heady stuff that takes noise up a notch for sure, 100 copies ensuring you’ll always miss out forever.

Links: Grant Evans

Gut Nose


[12-inch; Styles Upon Styles]

I love the way “Difficult to Escape,” from Gut Nose’s Vicetopia 12-inch, kicks off. It’s almost like a how-to for aspiring electronic producers: Start with a little hi-hizzie and an ominous bass rumble not unlike that of Dead Fader; increase volume; add another cymbal sample; kick in that four-floorin’ beat; sprinkle in hand drums; garnish with additional sample materials and you have a composition both simple and complex, heady yet fluid enough to force even the mega-reluctant into motion. In other words, when you reduce “Difficult to Escape” to its components, it doesn’t seem altogether unique. Put them all together, however, and you have an electronic witch’s brew that’ll cast a damn spell on you. “Mystic Soul” follows suit with a scratchier, less up-front take, with more experiments curling up its edges (though we still get that ubiquitous, insistent straight-beat). The title track skillfully upends the formula, however, dabbling in a slower tempo, audio sprinklers that spray right in your face, some rhythmic elements that occasionally stutter over themselves, and an ominous stretch of low-end underneath that glares out at your ear beneath the heavy kicks. Don’t even get me started on the myriad echoes and throbs to come; you’ll have to suss (which stands for Styles Upon StyleS) those out for yourself.

Links: Styles Upon Styles

Derek Monypeny

How Can Be

[CS; Ambivalent Soap]

I am devoted to Ambivalent Soap as I once was to Stunned. I never knew I had a hole to fill but Ambivalent Soap has done so. Why, I ask rhetorically to whoever may read this? When you listen to the latest Derek Monypeny that has sneaked out, you’ll know. A contemplative but never dull guitar exposition that is as much Stephen Molyneux as it is Sir Richard Bishop. Guitar may be the primary instrument, but Monypeny does not shy from incorporating its secondary noises along with percussion and field recordings. Though “Peace Be Upon You” sticks out as a departure from the album’s first four ragas, it is nonetheless instrumental in cementing the Eastern feel of How Can Be. But don’t mistake that has Beatles Shankar Krishna bullshit hype. Meditative, yes, stoned musings on a feeling rather than being, never. It’s fun to listen to Monypeny reconcile his inspirations into a cohesive statement, which you get the feeling has yet to come. As a first foot forward on the Spanish Steps, this is as firm a planting as one could expect.

Links: Ambivalent Soap



[LP; Super Secret]

Suspirians start with a lot of the vibes found on a recent reissue of a Blood Robots record I grew fond of last year (on Water Wing Recs), what with the small snippets of synth, all-girl lineup, and intense nature of many of the riffs. But this Austin quartet bring that sound to a new generation and brush on a less antagonistic, over-the-top mindset. There are passages wherein (“Whatcha Do,” for example) it seems they’ve departed from this motif, fuzz ablaze and guitars/synths feeling out their boundaries, but it’s all contained within a modicum of relative post-punk cool. At their core Suspirians are in line with old-school punk, a bit of older rock (“Buddy Holly” ain’t a song title for nothin’), and modern-day gloom merchants like Lorelle Meets The Obsolete and A Place To Bury Strangers. Such blends might have been sacrilegious years ago, but now the kids are all agog for it and these cats have no problem givin’ it to ‘em (nor do Super Secret, a label seemingly awash in quality post-pizz). Carry on, sweet Suspirians.

Links: Super Secret



[12-inch; Hot Releases]

Once or twice a year I get a huge, intimidating package from Hot Releases Recs that thrills me to no end, its contents almost always introducing me to a genre I didn’t know existed. As a conduit for bigger labels to feed from (do they get a percentage of that shit? I hope so) the imprint also seems to uncover a lot of experiments teeming with life that a lot of us wouldn’t ever hear if not for their efforts, Haves & Thirds in particular a blinding beam of light I won’t soon forget. So I have to ask, Hot Releases main man Karl Raymar, What is up with VVAQRT¹? What does the band name mean²? How do they fit into the continuum of indie music³? I could go on and on, but since this review can’t last forever (Tew bad fer yew!) I’ll attempt to answer a few of the questions I so rudely foisted upon Mr. Raymar: ¹A lot. ² The Net says ‘Vak-art.’ ³ Somewhere between Broadcast (RIP Trish Keenan), Lemon Kittens, Ashrae Fax, The Blow, and your favorite self-help computer program for expanding your sonic vocabulary; yep, I think that works…

Links: Hot Releases


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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.