Village Pistols

Big Money

[7-inch; Last Laugh]

It’s funny as FUCK how things turn out. I can guarantee that if, in 1981, if I had been a teen, and Mitch Easter had shown me this Village Pistols 7-inch alongside R.E.M.’s first single (which apparently was recorded on the same tape!) I can imagine my reaction, knowing my young self: “Man, love the Village Pistols stuff. Those other guys ‘r’ bitches.” That ‘those other guys’ would go on to be superstars doesn’t change a thing about this awesome little record, either. Village Pistols, infected with a scorching case of punk rabidity, explode from the speakers like napalm and will damage your genetic make-up just as much if not more. “Strawberry Fields Forever” is the kind of cock-knocker I always expect to get from a Last Laugh platter but it doesn’t make it any less a pleasure when it happens again, as it just did. OOF, fucker! The b-side yanks a little less crank but you’ll forgive it. Vinyl so tubby it’s trying to lose weight, too. So damn heavy.

Links: Last Laugh

Hawks

Rat Talker

[7-inch; Army of Bad Luck]

Holy shit, part of me wants to skip this one over and save myself the critical sweat but hey, reviewing curiosities such as Hawks’ “Rat Talker” builds character, right? (Right?) So fuck, let me see if I’ve got this straight: Leftover Crack/Choking Victim + Blood Brothers vocals, production pried from the skeletal hands of a stoner-doom production, riffs that actually are more hard-rock than punk, and a drummer that thinks he’s running the show, fillin’ and drillin’ and bee-boppin’ and scattin all over the place? Really? (Am I asking too many questions in this review? Oops, there’s another one.) And… fuck my mother I think I just… Yep, I just heard a bass, AND guitar, solo. I’m not even sure where to turn at this point. Since I can’t help but think my vexation is a positive sign on some level I’ll go ahead and slap a thumbs-up sticker on this dick-kicker’s dirty bumper, but I’ve got some advice for you, pal: tread lightly. There are a lot of things happening on this record that you haven’t had to contend with in a long, long while. I’m a changed man.

Links: Army of Bad Luck

Puce Mary

Ultimate Hypocrisy

[CS; Self-Released]

Sometimes you want to make love and sometimes you want to get fucked. Noise can fill a hole similar to the way hair-pulling, slapping, screaming, I-don’t-care-if-the-neighbors-complain coitus does. Like the hickey you have to hide the next day and the bruised shoulder that aches each time you move, the piercing tones, rib-cracking thuds and raw-throated vocals of Noise are a perverse pleasure; it says “you’re alive, you’re human, and you’re dirty.”

Enter Puce Mary, whose sound has late 70s Industrial’s sexual preoccupation with a vein of dark purple malaise running straight to the tip. Degradation, submission, loss of self, and cathartic release all make an appearance from the cover of Ultimate Hypocrisy to the supplicating female voice that warbles “I was willing to do what he said.” Perverse curiosity forces you to lean in while high-pitched whines drag you backward; this music has you on a leash and it’s taking you where it wants. It does what it pleases. It’s not a kink thing, it’s not a Noise thing; it’s the dark pool seeping under the door in our heads we think we’ve locked up so tight.

Links: Puce Mary

Frozen Teens

Oakland Footsteps

[7-inch; Starcleaner]

It’s so easy to forget just how enthralling punk-rock can be, simply because it’s done incorrectly so often. To be simple is not to be stupid, nor vice-versa, and there’s a delicate balance to the genre many aren’t even aware of. Frozen Teens skirt this invisible line skillfully by way of an infectious strain of pogo-punk that propels itself forward naturally and is imbued with enough gold-star melody to earn brownie points. “Footsteps” lulls you to sleep with a field-music intro then smacks you in the grill with a power-poppin’ punch and a shitload of ride cymbal and toms. It’s a juicy one, but “Oakland” is the gusher, almost like Fresh & Onlys (which I certainly appreciate) in its incisive simplicity, albeit delivered with the pedigree mentioned above. Such a contrast to the flip you wonder in which the direction the band is headed… [To be continued.]

Links: Starcleaner

Hobo Cubes / Taiwan

split

[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

split

[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

Romvelope

“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

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.