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. TMT Cerberus seeks to document the aesthetic of these home recorders and backyard labels. Email us here.
“Tough Love” b/w “Over It” [7-inch]
“Just take a look/ It’s in a book/ The Reading Rainbow… I CAN DO ANYTHING!!!” Okay, sorry — this is a 7-inch on HoZac Records, not a public-television program hosted by LeVar Burton, and it’s a snazzy little number with a lot of heart behind the simple template of drums, guitar, bass and guy/gal vox. No keys; imagine that! I think I like it, and what’s more this is sort of what I’d always hoped the Vivians would sound like — crunchy, alive; the Passion of the Cracked-Out, if you will. All sorts of early ’80s bands of the jangle factor in here, as do a few punkers from the late ’70s — and even more from the semi-recent garage-psyche revival. Need I name any of those bands? I just… don’t think so; not this time. Just be happy and listen to rock/roll, and I swear to you things will turn out. 500 pieces of wax; you know the drill.
The Heaven of the Soul and the Heaven of the Moon [CS]
[No Kings; 2011]
Allusions to Loren Connors’ Haunted House notwithstanding, Ryan Lopilato’s plural playhouse as Haunted Houses borrows liberally from the hellhouse of stark virtuosity. Lopilato’s high-pitched wails and scant instrumentation brings around strong reminisces of Connors’ midnight strolls through abandoned graveyards, but that’s where comparisons end. Lopilato is rummaging through the garbage of solitude, carefully picking up only the necessities to create. The songs are ragged yet peculiarly addictive, despite the rough bedroom production. The amount of soul bared throughout The Heaven of the Soul and the Heaven of the Moon more than makes up for musical anomalies; Lopilato scratching at his clothes, his skin, and his face like a maddened blues player howling at the moon in the middle of the crossroads. Nothing stands out from his eight-pack of songs, but that’s the beauty of it all — melodies bleed upon each other as the Haunted House assembly pound track after track out like a drunken ’70s studio band.
Isolated from Exterior Time 2010 a.k.a. Bonfire [CS]
[Arbitrary Signs; 2011]
As the title suggests, the Markers retreat from the Drag City limelight back into the womb, documenting the mitosis of their mind into a handful of rickety songs à la the 2007 flood of CD-Rs that paved the road to Boss. One track is indistinguishable from a Velvets bootleg; another sounds like the final beach blanket bingo party after the seas dry up; Bob Seger’s “Ramblin’, Gamblin’ Man” isn’t covered so much as prepped for alternative dental surgery; near the end of side A, the band works out a straight 90s driving anthem, yearning over the horizon on the chorus and birthing one of their best songs yet in the back room of a Stephen Chbosky-penned coming-of-age rager. All these tunes still have a ways to go, but in this age of straining neck muscles to really hear music like we’re manning the boards at the INA-GRM, it’s refreshing to hear something so rambling and janky, and it demonstrates what still seems so valuable about this band and its MO: an ever-evolving attempt to be honest and strong in the present environment, to inhabit the performance space as the same sloppy humans they were before pressing ‘record’ and, through the divining rod of inspiration, living their way into startling works of art.
“Small Brass Cage”b/w “Silent Runners” [CS]
[Linear B; 2011]
The other Hot Guts records I’ve received… well, it’s time for another evaluation, because “Small Brass Cage” rules all kinds of azz, throttling the neck and shaking the paint cans of injustice and disgustedly taunting the listener. The foundation of this Side A mind-mess is a frantic loop that sounds like a head hitting a trashcan, while the synth ribbons closely resemble much of that Joy Division-worshiping stuff we’ve all had to deal with. And those vocals — it’s the end of the world as we know it, and he doesn’t feel fine; he also might be on codeine. “Silent Runners” isn’t as enthralling out of the gate. Tacky synths, a plodding drum beat, robot coos… not anything to lose one’s head over, but I must again salute the great vocals, so deep and resonant that dude from Wet Hair sounds like Antony in comparison. Side B’s late-hour flourish also kills all sorts of brain cells, so patience is paramount. The focus and machine-fucking cohesion of “Brass Cage” is the mane attraction (if you know your White Lions), but Hot Guts via this cassette are solid head to toe, limb to limb.
Hanging Coffins [7-inch]
[Malt Duck Records; 2011]
After a debut cassette on Night People with tons of no-fi pop songs that never quite got past the sketchbook, this 7-inch casts Hanging Coffins in a clearer and much more flattering light, with three solid songs in the scrappy youthful angular-psych-garage vein/void, each of a different degree of aggression. But while descriptors like this invariably (and tragically) imply some sort of “bratty” aesthetic worthy of crossing to the other side of the sidewalk to avoid, these scrappy youths are channeling some serious doom and gloom beyond their years, and in spite of largely fitting into a popular mold, none of these songs feel ripped wholesale from either coast’s playbooks. There’s no marveling at their own mush, no reverb-echoed “WOOOO?!”s before the chorus, very little taking their own sound for granted at all. The A-side is all endless night surf guitar twanging in a Country Teasers/The Rebel sense, snaking around an anguished Crystal Stilts-recalling baritone voice, but the real surprise is B-side “These Little Creatures,” one long sunburned chugger that hinges on a lonely little guitar line and uncomfortably phaaaazed vocals that strain for water in the heat of a typical Eugene, Oregon day. Altogether an impressive 7-inch, showing flashes of what could amount to an explosive full-length someday.
Haptic Music [CS]
[Weird Forest; 2011]
The story of the drummer is a lonely one. Despite the popularity of Keith Moon and John Bonham, their role in music is often downplayed and ignored thanks to hapless beat keepers. But a subset of music fan has risen to discover the quality of jazz drumming and the experimental fun of percussion thanks to Chris Corsano, Glen Kotche, and now Kevin Corcoran. Haptic Music stands apart for its ability to bridge the beat of silence with the percussion of syncopated mess. The title track is thoughtful, Corcoran breaking up the solitude of silence with harsh, metallic beats — Wolverine scratching at the Panic Room to get his hands on those who sentenced him to a life with adamantium before giving up and moving on. The B-side finds Corcoran employing the musicality inherent in percussion, forgoing splashes and fills for MacGyver’d melody.
HH EP [12-inch]
[Art Fag; 2011]
“HH” is a real head-slapper. The label on this cherry-red record tells me the music is to be played at 45 rpm, and I SWEAR to the LORD ABOVE it sounds much more natural at 33. Was it a mistake? Is the “HH EP” meant to be played at two different speeds? I don’t know — all I know is I like what I hear on 33 and start to get the jitters upon up-shifting to 45. The latter’s like watching a movie on fast-forward, so I’ll have to trust my instincts here. Heavy Hawaii remind me most of Pregnant, as they’re wont to blend genres in a similar fashion and have that knack for finding the keepable nuggets amid persuasions weighed down by the past and possible future. As with just about every marketable mid-indie band out there, I hear some Animal Collective in just about all of Heavy Hawaii, and they’ve got to outgrow that if they truly want to stand out and garner recognition beyond the mediocre clot of Neon Indians out there. That said, “HH” bleeds potential of just about every stripe — it’s weird, it’s of-the-moment, and its vibes will have your ears in a brutal chokehold if you let Side A alone do its thing. 1000 copies; there’s time.
Days of Heaven [CS]
Even as Stunned finds the best, the best still find them. So goes the story of Remote Island, a collection of Philly musicians led by Colin Pate. He sent Stunned Days of Heaven, and now we stand face-to-face with 2011’s newest pop gem. The juxtaposition of Remote Island’s sunrise set against Stunned’s fade-out is hard to ignore, Days of Heaven heavy with quirky pop quality that has been absent from Stunned’s laundry list of equally excellent excursions. Many will peg Remote Islands as the next ‘it’ due to the accessibility of their sounds, but beneath the smooth veneer is a morass of sound and invention that plays itself more toward old fashioned tomfoolery than grand visions of Elephant 6 and Paw Tracks copycats. Succinct guitar and drums mesh with Casio samples and 8-bit tinkering. Remote Islands find that, when throwing everything at the wall, and it all sticks. Colin Pate’s rag-tag orchestra will soon find themselves underneath bright lights and the headline fodder of bloggers. For now, just enjoy the ride.
When I saw the cover image to Dead Gaze’s 7-incher — a shirtless, gray-haired dude holding a log, possibly fashioning it into a mini-kayak — I figured I’d be in for a drone-filled, noisy ride. NOT the case at all: circa “Somewhere Else” think Karate Kid II synths, acoustic-electric guitars, vocals that use some of the fuzz-borne tricks attributed most to Wavves, and, overall, a drifting, lazy groove, like lying back in the crispy-crunchy Texas grass or riding a cloud to the ends of the earth. The flip starts with a different dip, a liquid-tribal, Black Dice-y twirl with a shallow penetration rate, then segues into another acoustic number that I’m hoping will grow on me; at this point, it’s buggin’ a bit, vocalist Cole Furlow plugging his nose and jumping into the deep end. Great instrumentation, though. With this much flexibility/dexterity at his disposal, Furlow could one day solve the great drone-pop-ambient-prog equation
My Time b/w Daily Life [flexidisc]
[Glass Coffin; 2011]
Daily Life is a newish project by Christopher Forgues and Sakiko Mori (Forgues made plenty of great albums in the 00s shuffling/spasming between wasted singer/songwriter moves and bubbling harsh noise as Kites), but their debut album last year on Load rubbed me the wrong way, every song dominated by a generic, cold synth pulse that gave voice to spurned, tender feelings subsumed by high fashion the world over. So sure, this probably would never have been covered if not for the gimmicky format, but unlike the earnest folks at Vice, my flexidisc played through with no technical problems (and sounded pretty damn full-blooded), so I’m tasked with saying something about the actual music. A completely redone version of “My Time” dials down that damn synth and brings up the vocals with a fantastic crispy rhythm section, which, like all great rhythm tracks of any genre, inspires me to invent my own dance while listening — sort of a hand gesture forward like this, a hand gesture back, under the limbo pole… and at that point the Kites-flavored background noise has swelled and spilled into the guitar amp, and it’s time to pull the lever and get slimed. Once they invent layered time travel, we’ll be able to hear pre- and post-VU Lou Reeds collaborate on “The Metal Machine Ostrich,” but this is a good substitute for now.
Silent Party [7-inch]
[Soft Abuse; 2011]
Horrid Red’s latest four-song set is an open exploration of every Deutsche musical phenomenon of the last 40 years. Silent Party delves into art punk, synth, and Kraut drone in the span of two quick sides. The title track is the edgiest of them all, leaving little room for “The Horror and the Cruelty” to get deep into its own groove of black synth. The two-part B-side, titled “Marble Staircase,” is where Horrid Red spread their international wings. Part I is steeped in the Berlin scene of old, socialist hookers and dusty cigarette butts littering the wasteland of Horrid Red’s retro future. Part II is more in tune with the band’s San Francisco roots; open and airy, slow and docile. As aggressive as the Bay Area fog can be, here it carefully wraps itself around the gentle ambience of Horrid Red’s Germanic tribute.
Preparing a Voice to Meet the People Coming [CS]
[Glue Moon; 2011]
Brazil’s Babe, Terror posses such restless creativity it’s impossibly not to smack one’s mealy mouth when a new recording becomes readily available. The “Preparing a Voice” cassette is the best slice of splice yet, conjuring all the best elements of the tape world and sending them away just as quickly/forcefully. Some of the edits are rough as sandpaper SHIT, but who else can you count on to base songs around the intro to Metallica’s “Battery” + Brad Fiedel’s Terminator score and cut, paste, flip, twist, stutter, and BIZounce the compositions so much they resemble the painted-over-umpteen-times walls of rock-venue bathrooms more than a fresh, shiny new creation? I hoped for more vocals in the mix — Babe, Terror originally sounded like a super-poor-man’s experimental version of Grizzly Bear — but I guess that wasn’t in the cardz, wazzit? And that’s… okay, as the rare instances of vocals are so distant and gorgeous they suffice on their own, as enchanting as lo-fi gets and angelic besides. This long-on-moniker tape is limited to one for every documented child molester that lives in the immediate vicinity of my house (Unfortunately I decided to research my neighborhood a bit and HOLY HELL; I must say I’m FUCKING SHOCKED); that’s a lot, relatively, but still not many in the scheme of things…