J. Fernandez

No Luck/Fading Out

[7-inch; Lake Paradise]

The clamor toward the genius of Jon Brion has quieted just as quickly as it rose, and though Brion’s talents are no less palpable, it does seem his star has diminished with his mainstream dalliances. So there are those who search out his worthy successor. And though I would not want to put that pressure on J. Fernandez, on the strength of the two lovely pop gems encompassed on this 7-inch, his ascension to those lofty heights and weekly showcases at a smoky, mythical lounge do not seem impossible markers. A string of small releases and some solid pub are the rage no matter the talent, but that Fernandez has an array of sound and flexible ideas easily demonstrated over just two low-key songs make him a must-watch. Like, moving to Chicago and stalking him. David O. Russell and Kanye will come calling! WHY DON’T YOU RETURN MY LETTERS? I CAN SEE YOU!

Links: J. Fernandez - Lake Paradise

Jeff Mellin

Smile Like A Lemon Peel, Kiss Like A Paper Cut

[7-inch; Where It's At is Where You Are]

7 singles released via 7-inch on the 7th of participating months. It’s all too confusing. But not as confusing as this piece of pop throwback, as energetic and surprising as the only Jay Bennett & Edward Burch album. Yes, pop is not a dirty term down here though we drown it in mayo like the Dutch do french fries (so I’ve been led to believe). But this is sugary sweet happy-go-lucky bonanzas and we can’t disguise the flavor no matter the condiment. Even fish sauce can’t wash out the taste of sunshine and rainbows. But a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, and whatever medicine you’re on will be coated by bubblegum Motown A.M. Mmmm mmmm!

Links: Jeff Mellin - Where It's At is Where You Are

Nazi Gold

Message of Love

[LP; Super Secret]

Think they’re gonna have to change that name? Nazi Gold don’t need to worry about their sound, at least, as it’s unique and well-practiced enough to make you forget about the ineptness of the last 23 post-punk bands you’ve heard. Message of Love is infected with that strange rhythmic jumpiness, albeit on a simpler scale, that rendered Joggers and Foals such attractive possibilities for many, and the choruses are anthemic without cheapening the deal. Even when you can tell a song isn’t one of the grade-A cuts, there’s appeal. Unexpected left-turns into long, patient instrumental head-churns abound, too, so getting bored isn’t an option. Seek out “Criminal” for the best, brightest buzz, as damaging as Nazi Gold get. This song is so strong you wonder what NG could do with a little more consistency (“Breaker,” too; good shit). “Stop” has a bassline straight from that first Dears EP, a slow grind that can’t help but work, though it won’t exactly cause you to jump out of your seat. Same with “River”: real pleasant and all in a A Place To Bury Strangers way, but not quite kick-ass. Still, rock that can’t stop, won’t stop is usually a winning proposition, and Message of Love is exactly that.

Links: Nazi Gold - Super Secret

Superstorms

Superstorms

[LP; Experimedia]

Superstorms’ self-titled LP is juicy and ripe, electric like empty fields at night with the wind rustling through and occasionally very quick to unchain itself from the shackles of dronedom. Side A gets jumped in rough and random, as if the composition had been playing all along before you even laid the needle down. Scratch-y drift bolstered by train-on-track rumbles, and there seems to be an undercurrent of synth buzzing around underneath it all, like lifting a rock and seeing an insect orgy scatter around. Later, xylophone makes a surreal appearance, as do other, more subtle accoutrement. That’s just a set-up; in a minute the music is throbbing, getting so loud you may have to adjust the volume (if you want to miss the whole point). It’s tough to feel sober listening to this. Side B is even better, cloaked in dread yet eventually sparkling like a fine jewel glinting in underwater sunlight (hey if there’s moonlight there’s gotta be sunlight). Superstorms, nee Mike Tolan, truly master the art of the extended, pitch-bent-to-hell drone here, delivering edgy, prog-fried enlightenment that constantly sprays the ear with fresh mists. Later on, a slow, chiming guitar, later a bass maybe, make appearances, as if to reattach us to reality. It’s only a ruse, however. Soon, you will be airborne again. Pour some water on those rocks boys…

Links: Superstorms - Experimedia

Dream Worlds

Cold Black Ragas for Love of All Forms

[3-inch; Kimberly Dawn]

As someone who uses a lot of words endlessly to describe sound for people who like to read such things, Dylan Simon has undercut me with the title of his latest. Cold Black Ragas for Love of All Forms gets to the heart of the matter. The two compositions are Middle Eastern-influenced, using but a vintage EML 101, hurdy gurdy, and farfisa. The vibe, again, is captured in the title. It’s a bleak, blustery world wherein meditation is to keep warm amid a barren world. It’s the quiet after the mushroom cloud, Simon contemplating the ends of the earth after they have been obliterated by a world too corrupt and fanatical to see what it’s doing to itself. But in this center–this eye of the mystical storm–there is hope despite the shroud. For in this dreary future, there is the rebirth of love. IT’S THERE IN THE TITLE! Dream Worlds may seem desolate but repeated listens find an enriching balance between zen drones and chilly isolation. Only in our center can we see the world for what it truly is, and sometimes it takes the most peaceful of us to slap the faces of power hungry fascists. Simon may be doing so from afar under the guise of “astral projection” but he’s really giving the finger to the plutocracy that would rather watch it burn that build it up.

Links: Kimberly Dawn

Invisible Hands

Insect Dilemma / Disallowed

[7-inch; Abduction]

Invisible Hands’ Insect Dilemma / Disallowed is one of the best cuts I’ve heard this year, and that’s after a rocky start that had me second-guessing the whole venture. What an intriguing piece of deep-indie meat, cured to taste and seasoned by the skills of Alan Bishop and a crew of castaways. As with a lot of Bishop’s post-Sun City Girls work (such as Alvarius B, the womb from which the A-side here originally sluiced; these are more orchestrated versions, I’m being told), I’m surprised by how unrestrained these sessions are, as if being anointed one of the torch-bearers of the underground has absolutely no effect on him. The song for which this 7-inch is named is all about guitar and deep mood magic. So fresh, yet there’s nothing foreign about it. Slow, plodding tempos and Egyptian mystique that transcends mere influence. B-sider “Lili Twil” is a Moroccan folk-song cover fronted by Aya Hemeda, another blinding-bright stab at a purity most can only dream of. I’m finding out this release is a Record Store Day joint, so get ready to want it and maybe not find it.

Links: Invisible Hands - Abduction

Ex Con

Ex Con

[7-inch; Bon Voyage]

I miss the days of drugs and booze inching into lower class noise. The sound of people sleeping on sticky floors, pub crawling for a cigarette butt and day old dumpster dives. This is the world of Ex Con–three songs of wino wails from Joanna Nilson surround her in musical desperation. And that’s just “Cuda ‘82,” though the other two tracks fail to deviate from the same urgency. And for that, we should hail Ex Con as the fifth coming of brash trash. A band that is figuring out how to play as it tours the dirty circuit for bacchanal pleasure. Glory holes and acid washed glory all unfurled on life’s stage. Cozy up to Ex Con like your empty gin bottle. Hold it tight. Never let it go.

Links: Bon Voyage

The Movies

In One Era, Out the Other

[CS; Spring Break Tapes]

JSpice dropped the hammer in our super-secret Cerberus message group the other day. “NO MORE 2012 reviews,” says he, King Editor. Good thing this album came out in 2003, HA! No, but seriously, tape reissues? I’m incredibly into it, especially since a band like The Movies feels so integral to tape culture with the way things are going these days. This is a real indie rock band type of deal here; we have a guitar, a bass, some drums, keyboards, and a vocalist. A band, guys… is it me, or are there just not that many of them these days? Is that a cliché thing to say? At least it’s a nice respite from the typically weird ambient, drone, or noise stuff I have been covering. So I’m very intrigued and elated to be hearing a real quartet on a cassette, especially since they’re so on point, musically speaking. Riffs are locked in, rhythm is deep in the pocket, dynamic, a wide range of tempos… just a talented and versatile group. Many of the tunes on In One Era, Out the Other have a very smooth driving groove to them, definitely reminding me of a lot of my favorite stuff by the Sea & Cake (circa Nassau, say). The vocals are really what sets things apart. This guy Timothy James, who seems super collected at times and at others totally unhinged like the way Sam Herrington can get, barking and gnashing his syllables in the peppier numbers while dead-pan-crooning his way through some deeply emotional lyrics for the ballads. Of course, it’s dangerous to compare The Movies to Future Islands seeing as how this album happened a good three years prior to the formation of said mentioned comparators. But if it gives you some kind of a listening reference point, then so be it. Either way, anyone who digs tunefulness, tight playing, playful arrangements, energy, and additionally, if anyone would like to see some boobs and male nipples inside the tape’s booklet, they might want to seek this one out for themselves.

Links: Spring Break Tapes

Lichen Gumbo

Zoom Zoom Ohm Umpha

[CS; Full of Nothing]

Lichen Gumbo, out to save the lo-fi world, one quirky melody at a time. Old Ariel Pink sounds like Siamese Dream compared to Zoom Zoom Ohm Umpha, and I’m not fucking with you here; wear your coal-miner helmet and shit, brotha. What I can hear, however, is tight and catchier than Dwight Clark, just the brand of guitar pop that feels good right now. A thimble-full of Bobby Trimble, a dash of Unicorns, and E6 will never die, apparently? This is like the next-level answer to the super-crusty Olivia Tremor Control stuff, with a weird Deerhunter twist when the bass choo-choo’s along and the voices crowd the mix. I want more indie-rock like this in my ear; let them sort out the mix later. The post-psych-era-Bee Gees album name is a definite plus, too.

Links: Full of Nothing

Moloch / Closure

split

[7-inch; King of the Monsters / Feast of Tentacles]

Ever since I finally heard those thunder-fucking Hell records (I and II) I’ve realized how little Boris really did to further the mission of the band whose album they were named after; there’s so much more work to do, and while Moloch would not be categorized directly with Melvins or Hell, there’s that slow, mud-thirsty grind in the guitars that charts a similar path through the guts of its enemies. It’s like I was telling my wife the other night, at 4 a.m.: You can’t listen to this stuff unless it’s fucking loud; I’m not going to make sacrifices, and you shouldn’t either, so have your woofers ready. Like Doom Snake Cult’s slow-grinds amped up a few notches, with a singer from the Anselmo school of hard knocks. Closure won’t let you have it because you’ve experienced too much. When they jump into their devilish, Tony Danza TDE, double-blast-beat phase it feels like the world is going to crack open like an egg and spill its yolk onto our melting faces; when they break it down it feels more old-school like maybe Morgoth or Entombed are forging steel in the depths of Mount Doom. Jesus I’m pretty fucking in awe of what these guys can do. Total sonic carnage with no limit to how fast or slow they can go, and packing four songs to one side of a 7-inch is sooo power-violence. Maybe it’s time we acknowledged that never went away, at least in the hearts of the extreme.

Links: Moloch / Closure - King of the Monsters / Feast of Tentacles
  

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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.