Alcohol Party / Tropical Trash


[CS; Loin Seepage]

Loin Seepage is firstly the most hilarious name for a label I’ve come across this year and secondly the most disgusting. Nonetheless, I got a nice little package from them in the mail, and aside from the tape that was wrapped up in socks, which caught my attention mostly because it was wrapped up in socks (and yes: free socks = score!), this split between Alcohol Party (whom I was unaware of previously) and Louisville’s Tropical Trash made an impression pretty quickly. I dig how the J-card is printed on plain old copy paper (I’m talking 20# BOND, yo), black and white. Mine had a little $5 price tab sticker in the corner… I dunno, everything about this tape just seems punk as fuck, and so it’s fitting that the music is straight-up no frill, bread’n’butter punk rock. TT’s side opens with “Choogle Perception” which has a really chunky, meaty groove that chugs along like Sonic Youth’s “100%” with similar effect before “Leisure Expose” attempts to rip your face off with its vicious attack and throat-shredding vocals. Solid, kick-ass. Flip it over and you’ll be treated to Alcohol Party’s math-punk acrobatics, shape-shifting song structures and mind-bending precision, which is especially impressive given the raw power of the band. Some of the drumming is truly eye-popping, twisting patterns that sound like they require more limbs than available to the human body as current evolution has yet allowed. Wow, it’s good. Great, even. This is an official endorsement: I decree this split tape on Loin Seepage to be radical and gnarly. Can you tell I’m out of things to say?

Links: Loin Seepage

Heinz Riegler


[CS; A Guide to Saints]

If you have yet to check out the blonde-headed stepchild to Room 40, meet A Guide to Saints and their cavalcade of cassettes. The beautiful plastic casings, forgoing J-cards for a simpler and more effective artistic imprint; equally eye-pleasing cassettes that harmonize or contrast their casings for powerful Gestalt idealism – it’s all very art school dropout and yet, highly functional use of materials and typography that is lost in a world of collages and dystopian drawings.

The same is true for Riegler’s SLEEP HEALTH, a careful curation of the duality of good spirits and bad distractions A-side “Health” is a twinkle of chimes and buzzards; plucks playing a clock that is ticking toward decay. Time begins a slow drip that becomes a cascade of years and failing memories. “Sleep” seems more apropos as a metaphor for death than as the act of rejuvenation. Twisted bows meet taught strings as Hades plays you across Styx. But yours is not an eternity of damnation but that of reward. We’ve all sinned, given up ourselves and our faculties to forces we choose not to control. As our health fades, our dream stasis begins. Sleep is not something to be feared, it’s something to long for over the course of decades of living to best of one’s abilities. Do not covet what your neighbor has, but cherish what you have earned. Which, for now, is this tape from Riegler that you should carry with you like your lucky charm and your I.D.

Links: Heinz Riegler - A Guide to Saints

The Rainbow Body

Free Sentient Beings

[CS; Ginjoha]

Like all the work I’ve heard from The Rainbow Body this year, Free Sentient Beings is tough to write about because it makes you want to do nothing but just sit there with your eyes rolled back all tranquil, basking in its glowing warmth. With the self-released tape I reviewed earlier this year, I got some distinct solar flare-ish impressions, but this one feels much more Earthly and terrestrial, or even oceanic, although its title might suggest something more enlightened or spiritual. Or maybe it’s really a little bit of both - we listen and become one with our surroundings, something like that, right? I am the chair I’m sitting in, or the grass between my toes, or the water swirling through my hair. Free Sentient Beings, as its sine curves curl themselves up and down through space, passes through you, Matt Kattman refiguring the guitar to exist outside the realm of the instrument’s physical construction to create something that is phenomenological, metaphysical, and a bunch of other advanced philosophy adjectives that I can’t properly explain to you. So maybe I should stop trying? Let’s do this a little more simply then: Guitar-based drone. Beautiful. Maybe my favorite cover art of the year. That should cover it.

Links: The Rainbow Body - Ginjoha

Teenage Moods

Best ‘Tudes

[2xCS; MJMJ]

Best ‘Tudes is the kind of collection that has a bunch of songs where the titles of said songs are sung in the lyrics. Is there like a genre for that kind of music or something? Oh yeah: Pop music. Teenage Moods make pop music (of the lightly-punk persuasion), and a lot of it apparently. MJMJ scooped up more than an hour of their output from a handful of limited-run tapes the band have released since 2009, and according to the liner notes, the tracks sort of traverse a backward timeline. Each side of the cassette represents one of those previous releases, but the way the songs rattle off, it might as well be this ONE, EPIC Teenage Moods album — and that suits the band just fine here. Fans of Sebadoh, The Thermals, and even, say, The Shins’ first record for those softies buried in there (see: “Grow”) will find a lot to love in these four-tracked marvels, namely tight, concise songwriting with clever arrangements, cheery melodies, and grooves made for cruising. There’s not a lot in the way of dynamic range, and tempos hang around a basic mid-jog pace, but that’s OK though that stuff might come in handy for them down the line. Still, they’ve got that volume and that tempo down absolutely pat, and the band’s energy bursts through it all with those splashy cymbals, hand-claps, chunky guitar riffs, vocals with a neck-vein-visible throat to them, playfully vicious as a tiger kitten might be, so it’s all good. So very, very good. If you missed the photo at the top-left corner of this review, this comes on a super-sweet 2xCS format, tunes tucked away on red and blue tapes in one of those over-sized nylon cases with a photocopied ‘zine inside. What a great introduction to a great band that’s destined for nothing but more greatness.

Links: MJMJ

William Clay Martin


[CS; Self-Released]

There’s an internal migration. The American Romes crumble in the face of changing economic and sociopolitical tides. We are dividing ourselves in the pursuit of cultural congeniality. We’d rather cover our faces and plug our ears to any dissenting opinion or false idol of morality. We are no longer one unified country but one gerrymandered by any characteristic deemed different than those we wish to pursue. Are liberal, free-thinking communities really as open-minded as they claim? Maybe back wood haunts and conservative strongholds are no longer the closed-off meccas of ignorance and hate many believe them to be? The deck is reshuffling and among the redistricted ruins is Sadler, capturing the dynamism of a country that is ripping itself apart just to sew its bare threads back together. Doomsdayers and eternal optimists out of syncopation and yet in total harmony. We’re all running from each other, back into each other’s embrace. We can keep building walls and stacking rules but yet we bring the sledgehammer to them all in the end. In division we find unity, a trait that is not lost on Sadler and its opposites-attract philosophy.

Links: William Clay Martin

Journey of Mind

Soma String

[CS; Field Studies]

Jimmy Billingham has a hand in so many different jars, it’s tough to know which cookie he’s gonna grab for next, although in the end it doesn’t really matter: It’s a cookie. It’s going to taste really good. I think a lot of folks probably say that his work as Tidal is the most celebrated, but I’ve always leaned toward the tapes I’ve gotten under the Venn Rain moniker. There’s a handful of others he’s recorded as, but Journey of Mind is a name that’s rung out over the past year or so that I hadn’t had a chance to check out yet, so I was delighted to receive this marvelous looking, gorgeously green tape from Chicago imprint Field Studies. And the music definitely presents a different side to the Billingham dodecahedron, starting out on side A with what sounds like could be the soundtrack for those poor souls who rowed galley ships back in the first millennium. It rocks back and forth along an oblong rhythm to the beat of an intimidating drum while a flute sings in its minor mode softly over the top. Side B lightens the mood considerably with an aching ballad plunked from a piano in a lovely, lilting (and wilting) sort of melody. But even if the letters of the signature are different, you can still kind of see it’s Billingham’s handwriting. It’s in the wobbly way he goes about it, tapes taped gingerly together, compositionally balanced to give everything a full, deep sound that also feels old, classic, and vintage. Understated and brilliant work from a composer working in a medium akin to the likes of Basinski, but attacking the canvas in a different way.

Links: Journey of Mind - Field Studies

Vaadat Charigim

The World is Well Lost

[CS/LP; Burger/Warm Ratio]

So rarely has the veil between now and the past been so thin. The wormhole has opened, funneling forgotten and neglected sounds into our future. I’m sure this was covered on Fringe or some alternate JJ Abrams timeline. For a sound refresher, look no further than The World is Well Lost, a sad, shoegazing look backward (or downward). Though slight rattles of Interpol circa 2002 are rattling throughout Vaadat Charigim’s breakthrough (and that’s what this is – a band a world away creating music a generation removed), there’s plenty of Ride, Catherine Wheel, and New Order touchstones to make it seem more than just a decade’s retelling of the a singular moment in the resurgence of New York City cool. This is NOT that and we should be thankful. And for all its familiar influences, it also is removed from being a carbon copy of a genre emerging from stasis. The Tel Aviv band may not be breaking new ground in melody but certainly are returning to an emotional state that seems appropriate for a world repeating prior mistakes of sour economics, heightened emotions, and tense histrionics. While those without the psychological capacity to invoke change and accept reality turn to trollop pop idols, Vaadat Charigim exist on the realm of the other movement: revisionism. We’ve visited the pop 80s, now we turn to its seedier side as well as the grungy underbelly of 90s grit. It’s not a PG world despite rating systems and parental controls to the contrary. The World is Well Lost but that doesn’t mean we can’t find it. Let’s begin here and see where we end up.

Links: Burger/Warm Ratio



[LP; Moniker]

I can see why the head honcho over at Moniker Recs was all piss-jazzed about this one. Lazy propel punk forward by way of the bounciest riffs/beats since The Je Ne Se Quoi and the meatiest choruses since… The Ramones? Yeah, against all odds, one of these blokes apes Johnny pretty hard and well. If short and to-the-point is your thing, meet Lazy and watch as they mega-blast through nine songs in 23-or-so minutes of feverish fuzz. It’s a double-pronged attack that sees a fanged female jumping on the megaphone for some choice words, giving Johnny a rest, and once he gets back it’s as if we’re meeting for the first time. It’s shitty of him to leave us wanting more as he does, but Lazy gotta go. Chicago punk may never be the same.

Links: Moniker



[CS; Holodeck]

The driving drum and clatter introduction of Ruleth reminds me of the urban gothic subcultural, best brought to American audience through old John Carpenter films and the work of Xander Harris. It’s a genre littered with posed moments of horror and anxiety but somehow ssleeperhold make it a positive experience rather than a nightmarish chase in which we run slower and slower until the clock or a palpitation wakes us. The 70s and 80s are all over Ruleth–but not in the Big Bang Boom of tossed aside demographic catering. This rings of a lost childhood, one where Freddy Krueger is the hero, eliminating the youthful minds of treasonous, doubting children in a world that needs optimism. It’s a happy grim, where there is no moral or fleshy decay, just a horror figure (pick your favorite) doing what is right to correct the course of a planet tilting toward disaster. We could have eliminated big hair caused by chlorofluorocarbons in hair spray. We could have stifled the industrial military complex. We could have seen Weekend at Bernie’s as the early battle cry in support of reanimation. ssleeperhold is all of that wrapped up in a Sandman’s worth of crusty eye flakes. The world could have been better had we only picked up a machete of love and whacked away the weeds of [Andrew] McCarthyism 20 years ago.

Links: Holodeck

Edward Ka-Spel

This Saturated Land

[CS; Tolmie Terrapin]

Man, who knew that to drown was such a beautiful way to die? And Ka-Spel’s latest is that: Dying, drowning. Cold and wet, submerged in the briny deep, the endless blue. An ocean of tears? Nah, I don’t think This Saturated Land is all that depressing or serious, or really even that emotional. No no, the legendary Legendary Pink Dots legend merely found the beauty in an especially rainy summer day. And it killed him, it was beautiful, and we can hear all that now on this tape. It starts with an especially chilly passage of what sounds like woodwinds, a foreshadow of winter’s frigid future, before things really set into a groove with the sunken centerpiece that is “A Beautiful Pea Green Boat,” the album’s real gem. It’s a lengthier work, washed out in bleeding pastel colors putting you six feet under the water’s surface. And it flows around you, and you’re there floating face-up so that the sunshine can streak through and warm your face, and you don’t breathe because you can’t and it doesn’t matter because you forget to anyway. It’s just gorgeous, harrowing but comforting, and when it’s over and the voice on the ham radio chimes in as it does, “…are you receiving me?”— like you’re on your way up to heaven — it’s almost a disappointment, and the stabbing synths in the conclusion that follows, “Always October,” makes for a gruesome, mystifying finish. Yeah sure, dying was great, but death? Let’s go back to dying… and let’s do that forever.

Links: Edward Ka-Spel - Tolmie Terrapin

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.