q///q

q///q

[3-inch CD-R; Beko]

OK, the German Army “family tree” thing has grown yet another branch, further entrenching your humble Strauss into something that I fully believe is OK to call a “universe” at this point. These people have seriously taken over the Cerberus feed of late, so sorry if you’re having trouble realizing how great these mysterious beings are, and also you’re welcome, by the way, for continually bashing the notion into your skull. Gumshoe’s gotten all the recent good cracks, so it’s my turn since I got this smart little impossible-to-pronounce 3-inch from French label Beko in the mail. One half of the enigmatic sludge-ravers comes up for air on this one with a clearer, cleaner sort of sound. Though the voice is still shrouded with reverb and delay, the synths themselves beam lighter and brighter and the beats, they snap, crackle and pop with some real tempos to them. The songs quiver and shake with life, dark dance tunes made for frigid temperatures, complete with a shivering vocalist and feverish hooks to get the goose bumps going. If you were on the fence about Germany Army and were maybe looking for something that tipped the scales a bit more on the pop side of things, q///q is probably the closest you’re gonna get… which is close enough, trust. You’re reading Cerbs, after all, I mean did you expect this to be completely normal? You saw all the stuff about this being one half of German Army, right?

Links: Beko

Cairo Pythian

Unity Mitford

[12-inch; Perennial]

It’s fucking insane how close a lot of Unity Mitford comes to “Save a Prayer”-era Duran Duran, and it’s also a bit fucking insane how appealing this update to the sound can be. Cairo Pythian leave the listener no wiggle room; you HAVE to dig “Jaguar Music” if you have a morsel of life left in your brittle bones. Were the 80s even this… quality? I’m not so sure. “Walking Around” is a remix, and like most remixes it feels forced and a little tacky, yet jam it on a dancefloor and watch the magic. YEAH, baby, YEAH!!?! “Spider Life” represents the longest artistic reach, and if woozy flutes loops aren’t a deal-breaker for you maybe the lollygagging tempo will be. Just to be clear, however, you’d be wrong to be so flippant. Unity Mitford saves more souls than it reaps, and that’s all you can ask of a four-song EP. Exciting things are afoot, I’m guessing.

Links: Cairo Pythian - Perennial

Silly Goose

Silly Goose

[7-inch; End of Time]

To think of Blink-182 as any sort of nostalgic act, let alone one that a member of Carissa’s Wierd would be endorsing with a covers project under the guise of Silly Goose. Whether the best elaborate joke Seattle can produce or a genuine testament to pop punk gone global, we stand face to face with an article of wax that is as plain and stripped as the loose collective’s take on those hazy, crazy days when we were being told of the pains of growing up amid in-jokes of sodomy and masturbation. Of course, that was also true of Green Day. And Ween. And Korn. And basically any 90s band that could fit a tight metaphor for sexual exploits into 3 minutes of prurient pop. So to Silly Goose and their pro-Blink agenda—as we sit here atop our Best New Throne and hail only the most obscure among releases as those worth hearing because pretentiousness suits us–we shall refrain and tell you to pick this up for a funhouse mirror view of a band that we will never appreciate but so what? Good music, even in cover form, is still good–and perhaps proof that the speed at which the original “Dammit” is played is much harder to pull off than one imagines.

Links: End of Time

Andrew Graham & Swarming Branch

Classic Glass

[LP; Tonk]

Classic Glass is such a dippy record but its boundless pop energy eventually broke through my defenses despite my fairly intense reservations. Andrew Graham & Swarming Branch (why not just a simple band name? fuck man) flaunt fuzzy-fun chops as they explore the haunts no one is even thinking of traversing these days. Which is why I refuse to pass this one into the burnout pile. It believes in rock and/or roll, deep in its carefree soul, and who am I to argue with that? That’s above my pay grade, Wilbur. What’s more, I truly believe there are times when Graham and his wacky bunch hit upon a plane higher than your typical young-guy-tinkering-around level. It’s not all the time, mind you. If these puppies want to go anywhere in this crowded climate they’re going to have to whittle their songs down and fill their expensive-to-produce LPs with nothing but the straight-butter. Until then, however, Classic Glass represents a decent swipe at something that was probably unattainable anyway, so I can’t fault them for trying. Hints of Elephant 6, too, if that means anything to anyone these days.

Links: Tonk

Tereshkova

Intergalactic Letdown

[CS; Teen River, Lillerne]

In the recent tradition of Chicago tape-gazers comes a new band of echoed ghosts called Tereshkova with one of the most depressingly-uplifting albums to come out in years. Years, I tells ya. Intergalactic Letdown might be the most inspired sack of sorries in Bummer Town, everything trudging not only through generally slow tempos (although “Downtown” is a helluva burner), but downtrodden and exceedingly minor chord progressions. This is music that, though it does have a wispy, see-through air to it with melodies hovering all up in a hazy cloud, ends up weighing more than a semi-truck on Jupiter. There are keys, guitars, bass, drums, and vocals on this, but stripped-down arrangement styles make it seem more like the effects pedals are the real instruments or band members. That is, tunes aren’t defined so much by the chords as they are by all that tremolo and distortion piled on top of everything, all of it giving Intergalactic Letdown real mass and gravity. It’s an odd mix, somewhat unbalanced for sure, nearly tipping over with the effects all but hiding the actual songs themselves. But it doesn’t tip over, and those beautiful songs really do get their chance to shine through the thick panes of glass, producing pure rainbows on the other side. Early Yo La Tengo comes to mind, Beat Happening, Jesus & Mary Chain, twee as a style in general – that good, yes. One of the best albums of the year – yes. Sometimes I fear these little 300-word Cerberus posts are dooming these very good, very important releases to a cassette-chic category they might not be able to break out of, so let’s hope like hell that doesn’t happen here. There’s more great stuff out there, so cheer up indie-kid. Or don’t, whatever.

Links: Tereshkova - Teen River, Lillerne

Whales

Size and Scale

[LP; Michigan Independents Network]

The hyperbole of press clippings lead me to completely miss the point of Size and Scale upon the first few listens. They compared Whales to bands with little in common, dwarfing the band’s own prolific pop style. While not a band to wow on any given listen, over the course of time the band’s album warms to your own sensibilities. At times fluffy in its aims, others grimy and grungy – Size and Scale is ambitious as only a band without a label, without prospects, and without careers can be. All those high hopes and childish dreams wrapped up in a document well worth peddling. Don’t get lost in press clippings, just in the emotional highs and lows of a band–just like any other–working to breakthrough glass ceiling #1 on their way through the other 2,396 that await. There is no business behind Whales other than that of collecting their influences onto a circular obelisk for Victrola playback. It’s good and that’s what matters. Close your eyes to everything else.

Links: Michigan Independents Network

Shelley Burgon

Loveher

[10-inch lathe; In Context]

HAHAHA, well I knew I wasn’t going to beat the rush on this one, and when a record exists in a run of 25 even the web can’t keep up. So no, you can’t get Shelley Burgon’s luscious one-sided 10-inch lathe on clear wax, but chin-up, soldier, as Che Chen and others have releases in the offing for In Context Music. Be sure to imbibe her harp permutations via the BandCamp link below though, because they’re incredibly soothing and intricate as snowflake sound fragments. Electro-acoustic music can verge on the cold/clinical, but Loveher couldn’t be any less so. Its slow ascent from a fragment of an idea to a fully bloomed bud is reminiscent of a sun rising or a planet orbiting, slow and reassuring, as inevitable as the tides. A few of the sequences are eerily redolent of soundtrack work you’ll barely realize you’re hearing as you watch films, but Burgon inhabits a space all her own. She is to her harp what Julie Barwick is to her own voice, so pure and elegant you wonder why others crowd their compositions.

Links: Shelley Burgon - In Context

Shakin’ Babies

Stoked Casual

[CS; MJMJ]

Shakin’ Babies is one of those bands that leaves a writer wordless. Writers like to be clever. They like to write things no one else would write. And bands or artists that inspire these kinds of flowery-adjective narratives from us folks generally occupy those hyper-bizarre zones of cassette culture - stuff from the far reaches of the outer-cosmos, etc. We like words like “ethereal” and “prismatic.” But Shakin’ Babies? Shit, this band is from planet Earth. Planet Earth circa 1961. Although Stoked Casual doesn’t have the glossy sheen of an old Onyx cut, what with the drums sounding like sticks on cardboard boxes in spots, it still feels like it came right out of the garage of a Doo-wop someone lost in time. It’s just got that sound: snappy rhythms, sweet vocal harmonies, 6/8 sways, tremolo tones wound through curly-cued guitar cables, and that damned amazing voice from a singer called Jess Oleson (write that name down, people). It’s pulled together and snapped like a Polaroid shot in your parents’ scrapbook from prom night. Sticky dance floors, malt shops, drive-ins, poodle skirts… I could go on, but I don’t think I have to at this point. You already know that you love this.

Links: Shakin’ Babies - MJMJ

Snacs

Swim Tape

[CS]

Elevator hell ride down the gaping mouth of pop. From a warped Minnie Riperton sample to magnetic field recordings in moments of odd tranquility, Josh Abramovici takes on the avant persona of Teddy Riley. Swim Tape is a soothing (but not TOO soothing) challenge of the mind and body. Abramovici provides the soul, heaping Afrocentric helpings of it. I find myself pressing all the buttons on the long trip, making sure to stop at each floor to browse before jumping back on the lift just as the doors threaten to trap me on the 7 1/2 floor. It’s my head, Abramovici, but I rarely travel inside it. I’d rather live the moment. So as I take one last deep breath to meet the devil, turns out that’s it’s just Tim Curry in a bitching outfit as Mia Sara seduces us both to the docile re-imaginings of 80s neo-soul. Is it Sade or Snacs – who gives a damn? The weather’s warm, the view is splendid, and I have an eternal mixtape to remember what it was like to have a soul before Abramovici stole it and used it as music.

High Aura’d / Blood Brightstar

split

[7-inch; Anti-Matter]

With such immaculate presentation I would have afforded this split b/n High Aura’d and Blood Brightstar some leeway, but it wasn’t needed. At all. Both bands present a unique piece bold enough to justify the lavish jacket and doublemint-green wax (vinyl color the exclusive property of Anti-Matter Inc.), the audio lending energy to the visual accompaniment and vice versa. High Aura’d slip right into a drone coma the minute you lay needle to wax, and it’ll take you down with it until an unexpected locked-groove conclusion (when are they ever expected though?) seizes your nosehairs and demands you flip the record. Blood Brightstar await your proper-blackened ears on the other end, their Earth-y, filmic ruminations echoing loudly across the desert. I catch myself waiting for a King Dude vocal that never comes; remix? Not a rowdy release by any means and that’s the charm of it, as darkness comes in many forms. Don’t turn on the light if you want to see the true shape of the moon. Two-hundred-and-50 copies; get at least one.

Links: Anti-Matter

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.