Cave Bears

No Weird USA

[CS; Feeding Tube]

Cave Bears, holy fuckballz. They’re for people who think Mama Baer “fuckin’ sold OUT man,” those who find harsh noise comforting and, perhaps most of all, those who believe that hysterical whimsy brings out the best in an abstract artist. These are sound paintings made with brushes covered in human excrement, video games constructed with broken pixels, and ballads dedicated to farm animals. My favorite moments don’t take a genius to “get” — the sudden swarms of Atari bleepity-bloop, fiery bathhouse scream-a-longs (I honestly don’t know what the “bathhouse” thing even means) — and it’ll probably be a few decades before I can really Digest all that’s going on here. I have to say, however, that it doesn’t ring that much crazier today than, say, Danse Manatee did in its day, which, well SHIT, wasn’t even that long ago besides. “No Weird USA” is too painful not to be ahead of the curve, if you know what I mean. Too instinctive to even question.

Links: Feeding Tube

The Ketamines

The Ketamines

[7-inch; HoZac]

Probably the best venture I’ve heard from Ho-Ziggety, and I’m no hater — I find they do rock just fine. The Ketamines go for the psych-rock juggernaut on a killer-diller B-side (“Dig”) and do a fabulous job not making dicks of themselves with cliched moves and well-worn saddles. More bands should cloak their echoes into eternity with synths and effects so delightfully squiggly. This is “Arnold Layne“‘s drugged-out nephew (who is a Ramones fan), and once again, I’m left to wonder: How am I going to move on after such a skull-searching sun of a flip-side? “Victims” makes it easier. We get more of the echo, more of the ghostly harmonies, but this time dressed in a more psych-punk feel — think Woven Bones’ vox overtop echo-drenched garage rock — than “Dig,” though either avenue suits them. I never tried Ketamine so apparently there’s another item to add to the bucket list…

Links: HoZac

Fennesz

Seven Stars

[10-inch; Touch]

In having the pleasure to see Fennesz live last year, I learned how to properly listen to Fennesz: LOUDLY. With the ability to combine complicated layers with simple elegance, Fennesz flexes this muscle once more on the four-song Seven Stars — and if you’re aren’t testing speaker thresholds with this 10-inch, you are doing the system and the music disservice. “Liminal” is a rich combination of Fennesz’s brand of computer manipulations and deconstructed guitar playing, the undercurrent of distortion unraveling the slow dance into the minimal buzz of “July,” heavy with the electric buzz of humidity in an agitated atmosphere. “Shift” and “Seven Stars” play a mirror to the first half, further breaking down the elements that make Fennesz. Even in subtlety, the master requires high decibel levels to hear every intricate level, and though Seven Stars can be enjoyed on a superficial level, choosing such vapidity is cheating.

Links: Touch

Rat Columns

Rat Columns

[7-inch; Smart Guy]

Despite some stumbles/mumbles, Rat Columns cover a lot of ground and come out a lot more unscathed than, say, YOU would. “I Wonder” is a lukewarm — in a good way — strip of effeminate indie-rock that screams for the early ’80s without raising its voice. I must say, I’m in love with this song’s up-tempo, yet still relaxed, gait. Don’t change, baby! But they do. “Keep Waiting” is buttressed by almost unbearable bassiness and yet another sound environment I’m goddamn impressed by, beholden to Factory, coldwave, noise, and modern detachment as it is. A lot of bands tried to nail the feel of “Keep Waiting” down over the years and failed (I don’t care what the reviews said at the time), so hats off to Rat Columns’ wonderful escapades. A super-strong dose of addictive, fleeting cool that bleeds black and burns slowly, to be sure. And don’t forget “Glass Coffin” on the flip, a more scattered, gypsy-esque outing that’s more desert-sun than eternal-night. By this time, it doesn’t even matter what “Darkness” brings (for the record: think Deerhunter); you’ve already heard enough light to turn on the switch.

Links: Smart Guy

Lunar Miasma

Existence

[CS; Hooker Vision]

There’s a film out in various parts of the world at the moment titled Apollo 18, which shows the horrors of a fictional space expedition from NASA gone horribly wrong. The idea of space as a horrid and ill-begotten spectacle is all too familiar in Western storytelling, and though Athens, Greece’s Lunar Miasma hints at some of that moon fever in name, the long-running project of Panos Alexiadis seeks a musical independence based in the stars, not some bloodthirsty need to prey on explorers of the cosmos. Existence does have a bit of madness to it, from the tense synth to warped speed changes. But somehow there is a welcome disconnect between space and horror; perhaps it’s the subtlety with which Alexiadis operates. Existence is often hush, serene. It chooses its moments and takes advantage of them, leaving much of the tape to be a reflective — meditative — experience. When the last click of the B-side pops, you’ll wonder just how many epiphanies were had… and why you’re so drawn to watching reruns of Carl Sagan and Jack Horkheimer.

Links: Hooker Vision

Silvia Kastel

Love Tape

[CS; Ultramarine]

If you liked that album Avey Tare did with Kría Brekkan, consider Silvia Kastel’s “Love Tape” a continuation of the eery, blurry-edged confines of one of the most controversial indie-rock records of all time. But it’s so much more. Much like that Prudence Teacup LP I Cerb’d up but-good last year, Kastel’s brand of lovin’ is distinct enough to exist on its own level, in its own zone, with its own rules and regulations. Every “song” blows in a completely disparate direction, and you never know what’s going to happen. One minute you could be chugging a bottle of liquid audio in a park as mosquitos suck out your essence and a one-man drum circle flips out hand-jamz out back, the next you could be asleep in the bathtub while an odd woman coos into your damp soul. Then it all dribbles down the drain and all we’re left with is that GODDAMN hand-drum, the title screen of Dig Dug, and a half-smoked bowl of salvia.

Links: Ultramarine

Sonny & the Sandwitches

Sonny & the Sandwitches

[7-inch; Empty Cellar]

There’s a whole (attempted?) mythology behind the use of all the crazy band names on recent Sonny Smith records (a 7-inch boxset I saw around a few times had dozens of aliases and mock-ups) that I don’t know much about, but Mr. Smith himself rarely disappoints despite the fact that he’s bereft of a hook. He doesn’t have any distinct traits the listener can latch onto, and that’s the point — you have to listen to the songs and lyrics to break through. What a country!? These aren’t the best ditties I’ve heard Smith gently blast to wax — that Future Stress single hit me harder. Just good tunes, tight melodies, road-trip guitar interludes, and postcard lyrics. Just what I reckon ‘lot a’ you folks want, no? Not exactly what Gumshoe is groovin’ to these days, and yet I respect what Smith is trying to do, so godspeed and all that, chief.

Links: Empty Cellar

Derek Rogers

Informal Mediation

[CS; No Kings]

The price of admission is worth it alone for the first side “Live at Emo’s, Austin, TX 2010.09.30,” which, for 30 minutes, might be the drone of the year. The jagged electronic pulsations of the track’s nascent moments quickly disintegrate into a soothing burner, during which said synth meanders atop a comforting organ. Much of my spring past was spent listening to this track; it had a knack for constantly reassuring me when I felt out of place, or surrounded by bothersome individuals (e.g. when, on Duke’s campus, some fraternity pledge almost floored me as he and his brothers were recreating Mario Kart).

Links: No Kings

Norse Horse

Grids

[CS; Family Time]

When a tape jumps out from the speakers and grabs one’s nutz, that’s a good thing. Norse Horse, whose split with Ancient Crux recently got a goose from Gumshoe, certainly never sounded like a tape-trader band to me, and here they’re even tighter/sharper/fitter/happier, with a recording that pleases the ear without kissing its ass too hard. Music such as this — drums, synths, bass, vox — can’t get by without spot-on melodies/harmonies, and “Grids” is beefy with both, though the tangy nature of the instrumentation is even more impressive. The way the songs dissolve into themselves reminds me of that first Shins album (which I will never get over), and much like that French Quarter record I can’t seem to get reviewed (sorry Sammy), it’s hard to believe how easy Nor-Hor make it sound. Almost terribly tuneful and aware of the right times to pull back and/or blast some oak doors open with knee-first ninja kicks. Limited to you, me, and the water cooler, if you know what I mean.

Links: Family Time

William Cody Watson

Her Tusk Was Adorned with Rose Petals

[CS; Bathetic]

It’s not a complete Cerberus cycle without at least one quarterly mention of William Cody Watson — this time forgoing his nom de plumes (Gremlynz, Pink Priest) in favor of baring his sleepless soul. Her Tusk Was Adorned with Rose Pedals plays as lovely and as gory as the title implies; both sadistic and beautiful in its presentation as it unfurls before us as if in a trance. Watson’s listless musical soul has long mined droning melodies for spiritual awakening; with Her Tusk, he adds piercing electronics and dark tones. This is the work of a man who, disrobed of his monikers, is still putting up a wall between himself and the listener. Whatever personality quirks have led to this more dangerous Watson are unknown, but we’re better off for it. This is his “Chariots of Fire” actually ablaze; all the dreams he’s kept tucked under his pillow shredded, then coiled to make tape. When play is pressed, you too will succumb to Watson’s confessional tone. No words, just mood. At times uplifting but mostly a wobbled and fragile piece of art, Her Tusk’s blend of stripped electronics, buzzing drone, and methodical synth speaks to a Sandman that will never come; to a world not worth the effort to dream again.

Links: Bathetic
  

In this ever-expanding musical world, there's a wealth of 7-inches, cassettes, CD-Rs, and objet d'art being released that, due to their limited quantities and adventurous sonics, go unnoticed by the public at large. Cerberus seeks to document the aesthetic of these home recorders and backyard labels. Email us here.