Saturday, February 13, 2016

Dog Hallucination / Ichtyor Tides
“Vergier Begets” C30
(Bicephalic Records)

You’ll remember my first ever review of Holy Hills’ self-titled album ( I was critical of their supposedly “experimental” tape and how it lacked any “experimental” content whatsoever. I bring up this review because I heard dangerously similar tones in the first track of “vergier begets”: malaise 1-4 by Dog Hallucination.

Dog Hallucination was slightly reminiscent of that traumatic Holy Hills tape in that it lacked the melodious overtones that most of today’s modern pop hits have. That’s not to say it lacked rhythm altogether, however. The tape opens with a dulcet binary-esque tune that drops to a grisly strain, which truly does have a dearth of cadence. This second coming evolves into pealing and equally rhythmless (yet admittedly slightly intriguing) slack. It was this tune’s evolution into the final little ditty that I realized something: the reason I couldn’t find myself so horrendously bored while listening to this track was not only because it possessed euphonious fluctuation (something Holy Hills desperately needs in its tracks) but also because during the entirety of the time I listened to that side, I ideated literal dog hallucinations. This track may truly contain the malaisical sounds that a dog suffering from cataplexy may hear. And for this reason my rating immediately went from a 4/10 to a 7/10. Good naming reaps good ratings. Words to live by.

The second side/track was labeled Deimonstritus by Ichtyor Tides. I looked into the meaning or origins of the word “Deimonstritus" (hoping to exact this newfound track-naming tip I discovered upon this side), but Google either failed me or the word was invented. Maybe the track name is as experimental as the song it titles. In any case I popped the tape into my boombox and gave it a listen. If you didn’t like the Buggles you won’t like this track, let me tell you know. The synth is heavy with this one. I personally am a big fan of the synth noise, and the silvery sounds organized on this track engendered a surprisingly decent listen, especially for an experimental track. Even so it’s not good as anything except background music, like really any experimental track (let’s be candid here). I rate it a 6/10, points were taken for repetitiveness.

As an aggregate I rate this album a 6.5/10.

—M. Syed

Friday, February 12, 2016

“Success Racist”
(Rok Lok Records)

It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference if you cop Bob Pollard, as long as you do it right. I could end the review right there, because that’s as much as you need to know, I think. Do you like Bob Pollard? Good. Me too. Let’s hang out. Let’s listen to Graham Repulski.

Know why? Because Repulski has internalized the vibe of Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes. I know, I know, anybody can record bedroom rock and roll onto a four-track and get away with a passing grade, but it takes chops and songwriting skills to make it really work. Repulski’s got those chops – he’s at once tuneful and inventive, harnessing the hiss and fidelity of his recording setup and working within those confines to churn out hit after hit. His songs are mostly brief, not overstaying their welcome at all, and in fact growing in palatability because of their brevity.

Huh. Sounds like some other musician I know.

Oh yeah! Bob Pollard.

That’s a good thing. While the comparisons are obvious, Repulski’s songs are just too goddamn good to matter. You’ll have an amazing time with Success Racist. Did I mention that title is amazing too? Right up the ol’ Bob Pollard naming convention alley. There it is again! Sorry.

Repulski is from Philly, so that’s different. I hope he’s down with the hometown nine – I could talk Phillies baseball all day.

Oh shit! Todd Tobias mastered this thing. Well, there you go.

--Ryan Masteller

Thursday, February 11, 2016

THAT’S MY KID “TMK” C21 (Self-Released)

(review, as channeled from the late douche bag, Charles Bukowski)

Do you like
the Black Keys?
You’re not alone!
(So do TMK)

Do you like T-Rex?
You goddamn well
(So do TMK!)

Do you like a sprinkle
or two
of ingenuity
in a Rock & Roll

You might be alone
(neither do TMK)


if you like to dance
your ass off
to some tried & true
throwback riffs
played proficiently
by appreciative

- - Jacob An Kittenplan

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

“Black Brass”
(Masters Chemical Society)

 There is a place where we all suffer, a wasteland beyond this life that’s gray and sepia and dismal, and it’s eternal. I think some people call it hell, but I’m calling it Black Brass. Hollowfonts, the recording moniker of Tampa’s Michael J. O’Neal, has apparently seen this expanse and imposed his musical interpretation of it onto tape. O’Neal traffics in tectonic drone and experimental electronics, and his crushing compositions test the limits of the laws of physics and the boundaries between universes. I’m pretty sure there’s no escape from the gravitational forces of his sonics.

So, as sometimes happens, I have reviewed this masterful cassette over at the ol’ Critical Masses homestead. Here is a link to that review, and you can go there and check it out for the full effect. But I’m not going to leave you without some snippets to wet your whistle! Check it out, then clicky click, freakniks:

“When you’re buried, finally in the dirt, and a last word is spoken over your grave, you can rest…. All that will remain are your burial rites drifting through time on the wind, words intermingling with specters …”

“Hollowfonts returns with Black Brass, a tape commemorating the impossibility of existence and the struggle against and succumbing to the encroaching darkness.”

“Take those deep, soul-searching meanders through the shadows of meaninglessness, and soundtrack it by popping Black Brass into your Walkman. Four dirges of crushing metaphysical intensity await.”

--Ryan Masteller

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

“Sky Ridin’/Strange Dream” C60
(Wiener Records)

My old boss said he was fined for renting out his SF garage to someone for use as a bedroom. Bay Area rent has been bat-shit bananananas for a good while now. Thus the trend of all these lo-fi bedroom/psychy-garage tape releases sneaking onto the upper shelves of underground record stores. Jo Kusy’s Pennsylvania offering is no exception, with pre- ‘80s groove for days.

The Wiener Records, fittingly, is a subsidiary of Burger Records (a garage rock mainstay), whereby you can pay them (Wiener) to put out your tape under their label and they’ll distribute a percentage from their online store. This JK sounds like he coulda made the Burger roster on merit alone, but chose a more laissez-faire route. At times, I hear a delightful nod to the Boss’s “Nebraska” album, but, y’know, with lotsa guitar pedals.


- - Jacob An Kittenplan

Monday, February 8, 2016

“Guide to Bizarre Behavior Vol. 2

So are you a label or an artist, ShanGORIL La Records? I must know. I have very little patience for research (as everybody should be aware of by now), so if my gratification is not instant and hand-delivered, I say good day. But here’s the thing: I can’t just say good day to you, ShanGORIL La Records, because Guide to Bizarre Behavior Vol. 2, the follow-up to the first entry by that name, obviously, is too weird and engaging to pass off with an annoyed shrug directed at my own ignorance. ShanGORIL La Records, I think you’re the one I’ve been searching for all my life…

Well, at least since the dissolution of the late, great The Fire Show. Anyone remember The Fire Show? Their music felt like it was piped in from another planet, with the vocals hovering over the music as if the two had barely been composed by the same people. It was exciting and new, intoxicating and full of possibility. I get the same feeling from ShanGORIL La Records, here represented on tape as the trio of Brian Bromberg, Suzy Creamcheese, and Ray Bong (but not Ray Dawn Bong). (And yeah, anybody who makes weird music and references Zappa is aces in my book.)

What sets these crazy cats apart is that they’re clearly trying to make music accessible in a pop way, but they’re running it through some Picasso-esque scramble filter and applying a thick sheen of Zappa-esque psychedelic humor. (There’s ol’ Frank again.) No two songs sound the same, and some feel like sketches instead of true songs. All of it combines into a wild, uncompromising whole, with surprises and unexpected detours appearing almost constantly. The whole thing, actually, feels like a surprise detour into some kind of space madness. It’s hard not to get the Lewis Carroll jitters when the vocalist (Brian?) bellows in an affected accent, “Justin Timberlake is my butler!” So it doesn’t matter whether this tape is a manifestation of the record label or a song cycle by a collective intent to mess with my head (just like Coconut Records – Jason Schwartzman, you bastard!), I can’t escape its magnetism. It’s like the donkey on the cover is stepping on my neck while I listen, and not letting me up! (Not that I want to get up, I’m comfortable.)

--Ryan Masteller