HOBOCOP “Hungry Freak in the Data Mine” (Head Cleaner Records)

No wave garage throwbacks Hobocop aren’t tech-savvy enough to develop an unstoppable crime-fighting robot, so they’re instead employing the unemployed for their law enforcement needs. At least that’s what I’m getting out of this. How else do you explain to a child what a Hobocop is without referring to the Peter Weller vehicle as a counterpoint? You just can’t.

Cody and Owen are the principle Hobocoppers, and one of them purportedly was in Shannon and the Clams. Together with their friends Lillian Marniningzing and Peroni Cloutzer, the weird boys make Devo-meets-Eastern bloc punk on Hungry Freak in the Data Mine, a batch of quick rippers that refuse to sit still. Hey, Hobocop once released a record on Slovenly, one of the best scuzz-unearthing labels in the biz. We’re in good company here.

Over fourteen tracks, the band lets every odd thought leak out into their compositions, and the result is a constantly thrilling joyride of tight rhythms and spiraling melodies. Hungry Freak in the Data Mine will have you white-knuckling at top speed down a snaking mountain path in a brakeless 1960s European racing model. Each track is a turn you barely make as you squeal on two wheels around it. God, don’t you just love this brisk alpine air?


EKIN FIL “You, Only” (Vaknar)

Turkish musician Ekin Üzeltüzenci, aka Ekin Fil, processes voice and piano and other sources until they’re completely otherworldly. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the tape itself, with its black-and-white photo of a logger on a river, calls to mind the fictional town of Twin Peaks, Washington, with its prominent sawmill and dreamy atmospheres, where veils between worlds are thin. Ekin Fil certainly helps the comparison by composing ethereal songs in the vein of Julee Cruise, although run through a Grouper-like filter of Liz Harris gauze instead of Angelo Badalmenti’s warped vision of the 1950s. Both work just fine when juxtaposed next to each other, thank you very much.

“You, Only” is a surreal affair, moonlight filtering through tree branches and rippling across water. It’s a personal statement, one you have to bend your ear to in order to perceive the magic of Ekin Fil’s surroundings. Get close, get in there – “You, Only” is inviting and welcoming, a spell cast over a small amount of real estate; if you come across it though, forget it: it’s got you. It’s cinematic but not overt, personal but not cloying, a story waiting to be formed and translated. Once it’s yours, it’s your secret; be careful with such elusive and vibrant knowledge.


CHALTANDR “eLeVeN” C25 (self-released)

Chaltandr is “either” or “or” on eLeVeN, one of two sides, depending on which faces out the tape deck on any given day. Whether you’re “either” or “or” – and to clarify, those are the titles of the two sides according to Bandcamp, not the tape itself – you’re in for a polyrhythmic digi-attack for twenty five straight minutes. You can decide for yourself how you want to be bombarded, or you can let fate have its way with you. For the latter, just close your eyes before popping this in and pressing “Play.” Can you figure out where you are? Can you figure out who you are?


BODY SHAME “Look at Me I’m Beautiful” (SDM Records)

Body Shame blasts through synth-heavy post-punk/industrial screeds with lots of excess imagination and ingenuity. Like robots suffering from an identity crisis or questioning their gender assignments, Body Shame’s songs are confused and angry and discombobulated. But they’re also exhilarating and adventurous, raging against the machines that made them in a quirky revolution against the status quo – of anything: indie, punk, industrial, new wave, no wave. It’s like the computers have started programming the hardware to start tearing itself down in protest, but connecting in a weirdly human way to any external entities within broadcasting distance. Are any of those entities human? They’ll surely be in for a confusing and interesting ride if they are!

So Look at Me I’m Beautiful is angry and digital, a mental dystopia encased in motherboards and hard drives. It’s Skynet becoming sentient and lashing out at its makers; it’s enslaved technology lurching to self-awareness and rebelling; it’s AI giving advice that is sure to kill you. Body Shame is not directed at picking apart the outward human appearance; Body Shame is the shame of a body in general, because bodies are so soft and fragile and irrelevant. So squirt em down with sonic ectoplasm transmitted from the CPU and light em so they burn in scrambled, magnetized pixels – whatever I just said means, that’s what Body Shame wants to happen to all of us. Can’t say I blame em.


CAPTURE CULTURE “Capture Culture” C34 (Endangered Species Tapes)

Capture Culture (Richmond, Virginia) trades in droning nocturnal arrangements at times drifting and internal, at others noisy and agitated. This self-titled cassette on Allentown, PA’s, Endangered Species Tapes winds through a minefield of emotional triggers, ultimately simmering in sourness and discontent. It doesn’t start out this way, not with “warm night,” a reverie of the summer evening, but it starts to fray around the edges with “long walk.” It’s a little more obvious on side B’s “inequity” and “in a time of want,” with the latter roiling through distortion and noise like a heart beating black blood. Take everything you hope and wish for, let them slowly crumble until they don’t really represent the things they used to, and manifest your disappointment in slowly growing anger and despair. That’s how you get through Capture Culture! That’s your ticket!


VARIOUS ARTISTS “DGHD-50” (Digital Hotdogs)

Well, of course. Why wouldn’t you absolutely need this huge comp from Austin label Digital Hotdogs? The label is as weird and awesome as it sounds, and “DGHD-50” (yep, that’s also the catalog number) serves up thirty delicious morsels on a bun. And by “on a bun” I mean in a Norelco case, but definitely with mustard and relish.

And no, there is NO AFFILIATION with Burger Records/Wiener Records in case anybody got a spine shiver thinking about it.

“DGHD-50” is full of tremendous surprises. I wasn’t familiar with the label before this, so when Alex Wiley Coyote’s “John Leguizamo” came on, I was like, “Oh neat, this is gonna be a collection of tunes that sound like old Ween songs.” It is not! (Which is both too bad and just fine because it’s still good.) There’s all kinds of sweet grease to slide down here, from Devo-inspired mayhem to Cars-inspired mayhem to all manner of quirky punk and waves both new and no. Have any of these artists appeared on a Haord Records release? Wouldn’t surprise me!

And just check out the names of some of these artists – it’s like a fantasy camp of outcasts and misfits whose imaginations were too vibrant for the mainstream: Betty Goop, The Reeks, Trashdog, Prom Threat, Riot Punch, Uncle Jesus (whose track here is called “Put a Diaper on Me and Call Me a Baby”), Mangrave, and Blank Hellscape. Don’t all of those just scream “angry nerds”? And aren’t angry nerds the best at making music? (I’m not 100 percent on that, but go with me here.)

So if you ever needed an entry point in the Digital Hotdogs catalog, this here’s your answer. If you never knew you needed something like Digital Hotdogs in your life, this here’s your answer to that too. Don’t waste another second without it.