Hobo Cubes / Taiwan


[12"; Pleasence]

“O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won”

Hobo Cubes is the raging storm, sending waves crashing across the bow in an attempt to topple our metaphorical historical figure. He watches as the shipmates languish in salty sea waters, neither laughing nor crying at their dismay. He bathes them in Neptune, carefully picking the precise moments to unleash great tides and yielding to eerie calm when the boat may capsize; when our figurehead may take his final bow.

“O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills…”

Taiwan is our fateful ship, cast adrift into a storm in which is shan’t survive. Yet its crew will not wilt in the face of innumerable odds. Though their fate is sealed, it does not stop the momentum being built below deck. As Hobo Cubes whip ferocious sine waves about the stern, Taiwan triumphantly say goodbye to the cruel but lovely world in jubilant song. Our heads hang low, our flags at half-mast for the passing of our dearly departed but it was not in vain. The Hobo Cubes sea is dangerous but worth traversing; Taiwan will build another sturdy ship and sail the seven seas again under the eastern sun.

Links: Pleasence

Transplant Mountains / Chapels


[CS; House of Alchemy]

The Transplant Mountains, a sick little UK outfit, offer up such a sick side of sax-throttling dissonance you wonder where Chapels can even go from there. But I’ll get to them in a minute because the Mountains deserve more exploration. Aside from the static crackle and sax, I don’t know what I’m hearing, at all, of course, so I’ll just describe the feeling: Abject terror. Then meth flashes corrode everything and you’re stranded in the desert like Walter White accompanied by the guy from Sax Ruins. From there it’s a long stretch of tension before a soothing drone takes over. What an enchanting lil’ neon forest of noise they’ve constructed. Wonderful-sounding mix, too, for a tape. Now, Chapels: This is a lot like that RCBNN noise tape at first. Then, I think I… yes, I think I hear a band in there, maybe. Whatever it is, it disappears into a sea of mid-level layercake that sounds synth-based to these ears. Wherever they get their juice, I like it, though I could use more distinction between the elements that make up the tracks. This one gains momentum as it progresses, however, so follow it to the day of your judgement.

Links: Transplant Mountains / Chapels - House of Alchemy

Mad Nanna

I Wanna See You

[7-inch; Soft Abuse]

Yeah, I dig Mad Nanna. A lot. I mean, like A LOT!

So it comes as no surprise that I lose my shit over more Mad Nanna. The guys just trashed the United States and though I didn’t make it out to see them (adulthood being a bummer), I shall live vicariously through their tightest musical excursion. Of course, tightness is relative and this isn’t the hot dog down the hallway melodies of Mad Nanna’s past (ignoring the wide open “solo” of “The Nectarine Tree”) though they skimp on the lyrics. “I Wanna See You” is largely a drunken recitation of its title, with just enough of the clear headed brilliance we all endure before the puke that ends our glorious pisser. Though I’ve sobered up and arguably have grown up, it doesn’t mean I don’t like to mix it up and Mad Nanna allows me that brief satisfaction in 6 minutes of brittle rock and roll. So if they keep producing scraps, I will continue to beg for them. I am a man after all, and I have needs!

Links: Mad Nanna - Soft Abuse

Hex Map

Ruin Value

[LP; Claw Solutions]

If you’re going mention Unwound in relation to your band you need to realize that if you’re anything less than the best, it’s a felony. Hex Map, while not quite elite, rise to the challenge, toting a new way of thinking about this phylum of muscular indie-rock while occasionally sinking into ignominy. The drummer’s not exactly robotic, either. Set a metronome to his ass and you’ll be listening to a mess within seconds. Yet none of these faults doom Ruin Value. As easy as it might be to give up on them when shit turns sour, believe in this record and it will meet you halfway, if not recompense you completely. You might say Hex Map do for Unwound (and others; obviously it’s not as simple as one band) what Fat History Month do for Modest Mouse, albeit with a bit less success. It makes sense to allot them credit for the fearless way they stare into the intimidating void of the ’90s and find worthy intrigues to expand upon. There also exist within the folds of these songs snippets of Enon, Ex Lion Tamer, Jesus Lizard; the works. “Rat King” even conjures Cobain. That Ruin Value is stamped into mellifluous opaque vinyl is neither here nor there. But you should know that, too.

Links: Hex Map

The Courtneys

The Courtneys

[12"; Hockey Dad]

An old joke tells the story of Canada’s behind-the-times culture, and though it’s far from any truth I can recognize I believe it suits The Courtneys well. Songs about “90210” and Keanu Reeves lace the three-piece’s self-titled 12-inch and I am in love with Canada circa ‘95. One last chance to grip unworn treasures in the closet and head bang (minus the lengthy locks of my youth) to another female group I ignored while chasing girls. If only I had paid closer attention to Tsunami and Velocity Girl–and though The Courtneys aren’t any of them, they borrow from the same pop explosion to deliver songs of a different era rife with subject matter in the modern age. Though the throwbacks to the alterna-decade are plentiful they aren’t out of some outdated modus operandi that Canada is operating under. Rather, it’s the recall of the last of our fun. For those of us who came of age in the land of fashion malls filled with Sam Goody’s and Musicland, The Courtney’s latest would fell right at home snuggled up next to overpriced CDs that were never on sale or marked down–and you know, I’d gladly pay full price for this. Not as some parting gift to the 90s but as a reminder that certain rock and roll sounds never go out of style, no matter how much Hot Topic and MTV try to tell me otherwise. Good on you Courtneys!

Links: Hockey Dad


“Catomountain” b/w “Hodmandod”

[7-inch; Adaadat]

Romvelope provide an intensely satisfying conglomeration of chopped bits and diced pieces via “Catomountain”/”Hodmandod,” their compositions ticking like a clock and squealing like digital pigs. Dissemble a few of those nice Minority Records artists (DVA, Floex, Dikolson), dissolve any notion of random button-pushing, and dissuade yourself from assuming you’ve pinned this one down until the final non-notes pass by. “Hodmandod” spellbinds from the start through little more than a murky drone cloud that pours audio endorphins effortlessly into your brainpiece. Why is this so much more enlightening than the average desert drift? The melodica (apparently that’s actually a reed organ)? The tangled mix? The wistful search for new stars? We may never know. “Catomountain” is more, ahem, classical experimental simply because it provides crags for the cliff-jumping listener to hang onto, in the form of jumpy rhythms and all manner of pitch-bent manipulation. A quality effort all around that could blast off with more room to stretch out.

Links: Adaadat


Gas Mask ‘95

[Flexi; Perennial]

A better use of the one-sided flexi we may never see, Gag’s Gas Mask ‘95 providing a pristine, plump punk offering that pleasures like those first few Okie Dokie records. When you first place needle to flex it seems that way, at least, but soon the confusion leads you to think of Twin Stumps or, when the reeds join in, maybe Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower, and you wouldn’t be wrong, per say, just under-informed. Gag sneer more than they implore, and crave disorder as much as they do message-building, flipping between audio channels and fucking around when traditional punx will be asking them to kindly get to the bloody point. That’s what I love about Gas Mask ‘95 the most. You never know exactly what you’re going to receive; just rest assured you’ll get what’s coming to you and more. “Warm Milk” is particularly schizophrenic in nature, shrieking-pissed and looking to unleash the madness it feels in itself. That’s no gag. With flexis like these who needs 7-inches (don’t answer that)?

Links: Perennial

Sneaky Snake


[CS; Holodeck]

I’m ready to be done with synth drone. Seriously dudes in your dorms, what you’re doing has been done. Look no further than City of Angels duo Sneaky Snakes. Eventide should be the most boring piece of electronic miasma I’ve heard because I’m cynical and have, at this point, heard it all. And no one in “the scene” seems to be telling it straight: that synth is boring again, your heroes are making pop muzak, and now that every Tom, Dick, and Harry is on board with making their own homemade jams and throwing them on BandSoundTrack that the movement’s gone. But here I am writing about Eventide because it isn’t a carbon copy. It sounds familiar at the first press of play but let it unfurl, let it slither into your head space. I’m ready to hate on an entire “scene” but Sneaky Snakes won’t allow it. They should because the predictable releases need righteous scolding but these two long pieces deserve only praise, prolonging my Andy Rooney old man rants until 2014. But by then I will be obsolete and Sneaky Snakes will be swallowing rats like me whole in the whitewash of mesmerizing synth.

Links: Holodeck


Minute Detail

[CS; Hospital Productions]

Albert Einstein’s image is mugging, tongue out and hair wild, on every 3rd grade science lab wall. Einstein is now pop culture, one of the lucky few not rendered effectively faceless as humanity continues to plow forward through time, uprooting most things in its path, with only the occasional glance backwards and a sheepish “whoops, I think we needed that.”

The hulking, driving, and seemingly implacable forces of progress and history have been given form with Laureate’s Minute Detail. Throbbing, scraping, and pounding rhythms force each of the tracks forward towards some impending but still unknown outcome. Industrious might be a more applicable word than “industrial,” as every song on this cassette feels far more systematically generated than consciously created; as if it just sprung up as a natural by-product of the existence of factories and machines. This automatic, inhuman quality to the music may be exactly the point: the tracks have the dates and reasons for awarding the Nobel Prize for Physics but not the names of those awarded. The X-Ray and the discovery of energy quanta, basically the foundation for quantum physics, are hugely important, but could you pick Max Planck, Wilhelm Röntgen, or Max von Laue out of a lineup? The machinery has already been fabricated and continues to turn, even while its creators have been relegated to names and dates in history books.

Links: Hospital Productions

Wreck And Reference

No Content

[7-inch; Flenser]

It’s been a relatively slow year for 7-inches so to realize Flenser (from which I actually just ordered a Panopticon repress and probably, soon, a copy of that Ghast LP on splatter) had sent No Content in made my mother-fucking day. Wreck And Reference, like so many of the anguished shriekers out there, will get lumped in with the pack by some, but those who know their post-screamo hardcore/metal will be freaking out. The gameplan here is heaviness by dint of non-traditional means. That means no breakdowns, no limb-twisting technicality (though the drummer gets pretty gummy-armed on the flip), and no verses or choruses. The approach equates to absolute gold on “Absurdities & Echoes,” and “Abhorrence,” while it takes a tick to get going, also swarms on post-metal rather satisfyingly (it’s weird to liken it to a warped version of old Poison The Well so I won’t do it outside parentheses). Stick with “Absurdities” though, as it delivers a steady heady pummeling, like a discombobulated Red Scare bawling over a post-rock guitar sheet and slow-motion Usurp Synapse drums. Lots of stops and starts that challenge the heart, and even a noise decay to draw the curtains. One of the most surprising heavy cuts in a year of unrelentingly sharp, incisive metal. I hope it never ends.

Links: Flenser

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.