NOTHING BAND
“Descension / Digestion” C21
(Decoherence Records)



Max Nordile has been responsible for the unimaginable straining of vocal cords, loop pedals, saxomophones, and electric guitars for about five years now (?) and has consistently sounded like he has licked so much beat poetry written on sheets of acid that he and said electrically amplified musical equipments have all come out sober on the other side with an internalized rosetta stone for interpreting Tender Buttons. 

A tornado sucking up a marching band and scattering the horns to the corners of the cosmos would sound like a well-tempered concerto in comparison to Nothinug Band’s output. To say his releases are “disorienting”, hard to “get down to”, or even “digest”…would be correct. He hits the mark, yet again.

and/or

— Jacob An Kittenplan

GERM HOUSE/FAR CORNERS
“Split” C60
(Fuzzy Warbles Cassettes)



This split between Rhode Islanders showcases two bands breathing some new life into the garage rock canon.

On side A, Germ House plays lo-fi 60s garage psychedelia with some serious bass angularity to keep the kids twisting & shouting. Plenty of CCR and early Sonic Youth-esque notes sprinkled about, too!

On the Far Corners side, all that throwback psychedelia is swapped out to make room for heaviness, FC employing a pointier distortion and more post-rockin’, left-hook rhythmic shifts.

This is one loud, rockin' release, with all levels up in that RED.

and/or

— Jacob An Kittenplan

WARMLY LIGHTS
“Warmly Lights” C21
(Fuzzy Warbles Cassettes)



One decaying, vintage drum machine ribcage rises out from a pool of amorphous, muddy, analogue synth mantras* and their myriad blooms of fungal distortions. Birds and children faintly accent distant scaffolds of their own fulfillments. The wind and sun shove and tug in equal measure on the earlobes. In the midst of all this stimuli, all us calm, bright, consonant. Warmly Lights doth warmly light the way.

and/or

— Jacob An Kittenplan

*not quite as repetitive as Zomes, but equally spellbinding!

APEFACE
“Ape No More” C48
(Hand’Solo Records)



Apeface raps over slick beats, samples, & cinema-snippets that the Dirty Sample produces. Side A is the proper album, side B just the instrumentals. &It’s really nice to hear what Apeface heard before and while he chose to rap over it all with his smooth, relaxing vocal delivery.

and/or

— Jacob An Kittenplan

CYBER BULLIES
“Leather and Lazers” C5
(More Power Tapes)



Irreverent. Snotty. Faster than fast. The singer’s vocals (and lyrics!) make Curt Kirkwood’s sound downright pensive. Not much cowpunk here though, but rather a pissed, bastard offspring tantrum heavily inspired by 90s luminaries like Murder City Devils and Dead Kennedys. Punk as fuck.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

SCIENCE MAN
“Science Man” C12
(More Power Tapes)



Kinda garage rock, but, like, waaaay noisier. And waaaay faster. Surfier. More industrial. Yet, still, like garage rock. How is that? Well, all this, yeah, totally, except for the very last track. Maybe last two tracks. If you haven’t guessed, Science Man is fluent in genre-fluidity, energy, and downright grit.

Does More Power Tapes (Buffalo) request the bands on their roster ALL down a monster pot of coffee before every recording session or what?

and/or

— Jacob An Kittenplan

SURHOFF
“Separate Places” C18
(Self-Released)



Baltimore, MD’s Surhoff follow in the footsteps of many a great hollerin’ emo/pop-punk band from the mid-late nineties. Clairmel, Superchunk, & Braid come to mind immediately, though a slew of other Chicago and Gainesville acts share similar enough tones & hooks, as well as that very same purposefully devil-may-car, off-kilter vocal delivery. This music is always best blasted loud, or live, in someone (else’s!) living room or basement. Damn this stuff is bringing me back! 

If you didn’t like smelly armpits, arm-in-arm circle pits, horn-rimmed glasses, yelping, vegan chili dogs at Food Not Bombs, or sharpie marker patches a few decades ago, this might not appeal to you much, but it’s undeniably catchy, unself-conscious, pure, and lovely for the rest of us.

Let these folx sleep on your floor!


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

WERWE
“Birthday EP” C15
(Mystery Circles)



Werwe is Philly indie singer-songwriter Steven Martinho, and this “Birthday EP” is a fairly polished, radio ready pop gem that’d fit just as easily on a rooftop bbq boombox as it would piped in through a mall’s PA speakers or the intro of a 90s sitcom. It’s about as agreeable as it gets, really, without ever falling into that canned “emotional" camp, the vocals being especially earnest AND playful, getting across his intended Good Time. Have a listen to some catchy tunes via the link below, especially if you dig a sprinkle of alt-country swagger mixed with fuzzy garage rock finish.

and/or

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

CONCRETE COLORED PAINT
“Free Association” C50
(Park 70)



Does this self-referential nom de plume ring any gongs? Get the feeling this is gonna prove something SERIOUS to get lost in? The liner notes stating “All songs recorded in Puerto Rico and Pomona” seal the deal; this project has GeAr DNA in it, and it’s guaranteed to be brilliant.

But, before we get into them guts, Park 70 (Knoxville, TN)’s packaging is KIL-LER and needs exalting. Check the austere O-card with elegant monochromatic embossing of dimensional warpage, weftage, and deconstruction. Peep the insert of same art, perhaps for the corner of your mirror or maybe to keep a houseplant company. Mesmerizing. All resources spent on the cover, Concrete Colored Paint’s tape shell is left practically naked, it’s only covering, a sexy li’l sticker across 1/3rd of the spine. Gorgeous! Finished judging the book by it’s cover, the innards prove equally enchanting…

I may or may not break into the local cemetery once every summer at dusk JUST to sit under some weeping willows and take in the raging crepuscular choir that is their pond-frog community. To hear bog and boreal chant always fills me to the brim with an ecstasy I’m fairly certain is unreasonable, and “Free Association” by CCP takes this bliss to the next level, coloring the natural calls and responses of amphibians, fowl, and insects with synthesized drones, pedal-delayed minimal key phrasings, and a nuanced mix/mastering of it all that creates an experience unobtainable anywhere else in the world, outside of this tape. 

There are a LOT of great things going on here, but I’d just like to highlight my favorite, being how each field recording can, not only be infused with a mood and, subsequently, a time of day, but that each one’s mood/time can be further augmented at the drop of a chord through shifting drone or subtle key-shift. This is psychoacoustic magic here, and I cannot fucking wait to hear more!


— Jacob An Kittenplanj

FHERNANDO “All I Have" (Additivo Music)




By way of  UK based Additivo Music we have Fhernando; who is from Mexico City and cites disco and house as his influences-something thta is quickly obvious as you sit and listen to the tape. Fhernando is blessed with the ability to pull a hook from the air whenever he needs it and each of the ten tracks here are both danceable and hum-alongable (???). He walks (dances?) a fine-line that, if crossed, could make for light fodder; but he succeeds in keeping it all together in a very listenable way.

The production is clean and, of course, digital and there are no vocals throughout. The title track (second on side one) is a standout as is “Lately” and the closer, “Pay The Bill.” The package nicely compliments the music and is a full-color eight panel j-card with an entire two panels of “thank-yous.” The hot pink shell will insre you don’t lose it on the floor of your car.

I, frankly, wasn’t sure where this tape was going before I played it. The accompaniments lend themselves to a commercial pop offering.  This can be that but so much more too. A thinking man’s dance music? Perhaps. Fhernando’s fourth album is quite an accomplishment and one to look out for. Thumbs up for Fhernando!

www.fhernando.com


-- Robert Richmond

DWAYYO
“Dwayyo” C60
&
ROSEMARY KRUST
"Evirare" C37
(Sara Laughs)



On Dwayyo, two fevered violinists bow a pine tree’s worth of rosin across their strings as they screech, scratch, agitate, and occasionally draw out a pure, sonorous vibration, intermittently and in tandem, for half an hour straight. One side acoustically, the other with electronic amplification. For the noise junkie, this cacophony will scratch some serious itches. For the harmony lover, well, they’re not gonna have a very good time with this one.


&

Rosemary Krust
Side A: Hyper-amnesiac fights off demons with a clarinet whilst the keepers (of said demons) attempt to break in through the garbage disposal. There is always a war on, somewhere, right? In time, pipes and emotional reserves burst, the jig is up; at least there will be calm.

Side B: Rich & bassy, electrocuted guitar moans cut through shrill feedback and blown-out microphones. Distant deaf drum kit blindly leads the rhythm-free melée. Do not get distracted by the human vocal cords! Are those sirens? Organ drones climb up from squeaky floor boards as the sun runs away in slow motion. Dependable fader.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

BLOOD ON THE MERCY SEAT
“I Love Jesus Like A Good Catholic Girl Does” C23 &
“The Giddy Limit” C40
(Sara Laughs)



"ILJLAGCGD" finds BOTMS in a full frontal freak-out sesh for 23:06 straight, with the ghost-sheddings of Tony Conrad’s shredded horsehairs littered about the ground, obscuring notes & manifestos inspired by Glenn Branca and Jesus “Dada" Christ, herself.
“The Giddy Limit”, in juxtaposition, proves a tamer companion-piece/antidote for the previous album’s unrestrained mania. All the discordant drones, mumbly-rambled lamentations and guitar-as-percussive-forces are still present, just slowed & stretched out. Still distilled chaos, just now with a li’l less desperation.

and/or

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

HUMAN HOST
“Special Moments with Muckle Flugga & the Cronk” C27
(Sara Laughs)



While most of the Sara Laughs catalog boasts sound documentations of intense improv exorcisms, NYC’s Human Host keeps it minimal, introspective, and (relatively) relaxing. The preset keyboard tones HH wrings out are obscured from their saccharine settings by oodles and oodles of pedal tweakage, allowing the delayed arpeggios to climb and fall over themselves in fairly harmonious fashion or brush brusquely against one another’s chordal sum, in engaging moments of ruffled surface tensions. If someone said that the source material for these tapes was a caché of mildew-choked Stephen Halpern reel-to-reels, it would not be possible to reasonably dismiss them. 

Lo-Fi New Age meditations for all us on a shoestring budget!

and.or

— Jacob An Kittenplan

MODUS PONY & VLK
“Split EP” C30
(Strategic Tape Reserve)




Sound-Collage, but the source material is weedy/proggy jam bands? Or are they actually psychy mathrock outfits, doing their damnedest to emulate the left-hook counterpoint-gone-riffy-texture of Musique Concrète? What the hell are harmonies, anyway?

CA’s moduS ponY and Cologne’s VLK reinvent the buzzsaw here in a seriously groovy drone of a dance-floor banger. It’s both spellbinding and innocuous in a relaxedly poised way, if not a bit disorienting…

and/or

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

EMERGING INDUSTRIES OF WUPPERTAL
"Traditions of a Vestigial Intranet" C47
(Strategic Tape Reserve)



If I were an asshole, which I am, I’d compare Cologne, Germany’s STRATEGIC TAPE RESERVE to Dayton, Ohio’s ORANGE MILK RECORDS. They’re both all over the avant-garde electronica game, siding with the weirdest of the weird, yet still promoting SERIOUS banger-makers. I cannot fawn over either of them enough. Hence the linkage.
From my own biased ear, Emerging Industries of Wuppertal is pretty much an alternate-history caché of unrealized early Skinny Puppy instrumental outtakes (perhaps a Brap 0.5?), but with a (relatively) more manic, slo-mo vibe. All that dark-ambient/industrial goodness, sans horror soundbites? Swoon!!!

Whilst not necessarily a “good time”, “Traditions of a Vestigial Intranet” is certainly one HELL of a time, and worth repeated, repeated, repeated listens, to be sure!


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

HAWN
"For A Ride" C30
(Strategic Tape Reserve)



Stoically rhythmic vocal plot delivery, with pre-budding Nina Simone diva-esque texture vibes. Or is that Steely Dan? Both. In tandem. How is that possible?
Synth backing sequences are a perpetually metamorphosing, scaffold-done-bein’-earthquaked flex of simple chords & arpeggios gone skew-sucked into the fourth dimension. This is coming out of NOLA? Figures! 

This release is not just weird but visionary, like some time traveling bard from the cyberpunk bardo beyond. Listen concertedly, with headphones, and get taken “For A Ride”…like, waaaaay FAR OUT. 

Houdini did “sleight of hand”; Hawn does “sleight of ear”. Good luck attempting to focus!

and/or

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

DANIEL FRANCIS DOYLE AND THE DREAMS “Unrecognizable” (Self Sabotage Records)


Wait a sec.

Shhh, just shush. Give me a minute. I’m grooving here. I can’t be expected to write about this record while it’s making me squiggle around all over the floor, can I? A man has his limits, and that’s mine, right there.

Daniel Francis has currently got my butt wigglin’, that ain’t no lie. “Unrecognizable” is 100% fun, a blast of seven tunes, treats really, filled with wide-eyed enthusiasm and hooks for miles and miles and miles. Each one is a taut confection of guitar-tinged new wave with enough quirk to keep you interested but not too much to put you off. (To be fair: it takes an awful lot of quirk to put me off.) It’s kind of like Mothersbaugh’s original music for “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” spun into visionary power pop, each song just begging for a mid-1980s run on some late-night MTV show. I don’t know what was on MTV late at night in the 1980s, I was too young to stay up.

Regardless.

“Unrecognizable” should probably be played at a fairly loud volume, and you can totally imagine Doyle and the group herky-jerking around like David Byrne in a huge boxy suit. Even the closing title track, packed as it is with cathartic anger, contains enough twists and turns and zaniness to keep you guessing. Still, nothing takes away from Doyle’s clear bitterness that seeps into the fisted piano hits by the end. But then of course the tape starts right back over with the James MurpymeetsAdam Antian “I Had to Do It,” and the bops return, and the smile is plastered, as it has been for all of the moments we’ve already gone through. My face might be unrecognizable if this turns into a painful perma-smile. It’s a medical condition some of us have to deal with.

OK, OK, so you got me to write something. Now can I get back to this?




--Ryan

EDITH THOMAS FUREY “Sleep Well, My Love”
(Valley Heat Records)




I must say, right from the git, this is an impressive offering. Nice artwork, download card, sticker amd note from the label. No let-down either as side one strikes up with “Saturday.” Off kilter synth and layers make for an interesting opening track. Next up is “Sunday’-oh!-I see what’s going on here…there are vocals albiet buried on this one with more of what must be umteen layers of synth. Nonetheless, still appealing and compelling. I hear eighties pop bands and Roxy Music all over this tape with a dash of Eno’s more ambient work for good measure.

I should say this is an ep and this third selection is the last on side one. More of the same layering and tasteful use of electronics. Somebody knows what they’re doing here though I do wish I could decipher the vocals. Let’s flip it over and see what’s happening on side two.

“Tuesday” opens and comes at you full force. More vocals I can’t understand and more layered synths. It’s a nice sound they have and anyone wh has ever recorded numerous multi-tracks knows how hard it is to mix down. They’ve done well here-and that’s assuming they wanted the vocals in the mud. The  remaining tracks; “Wednesday,” (which surprisingly offers more energy and discernable vocals) is the standout track on this ep; and “Riverrun” which also has the vocals mixed up above the instrumentation round out this ep nicely and show much promise for this outfit from Australia. At last the lyrics are discernable and these closers show a little more energy than the remainder of the tape.

All in all, there is much promise here and some really good music as wel. Oh yeah, I scrambled the download code in the photo so don’t even try it…

www.valleyheatrecords.com

-- Robert Richmond

STATE DRUGS/ NATO COLES AND THE BLUE DIAMOND BAND
“Split” C20
(Motorcycle Potluck Records)




THROWBACK ALERT!!! 

Doghouse/Revelation fans-from-way-back, perk up those ears…

This Denver/Minneapolis split is bleeding-from-the-heart-sleeve saturated with undeniable CHAMBERLAIN-esque Emo vibes: State Drugs might blissfully assume the monicker Colorado Is the Reason*, kicking out some serious post-punk, mid-tempo 1-2—5- clap-along-able anthems; and Nato Coles embodies the rest of Chamberlain’s 90s -era polished-gruff pop-radio-vibrato-rich vocals & sleek indie hooks, with a slight nod to Blues Traveler and the Traveling Wilburys. Feels like MTV again!

If you’re in the midwest and looking to book some serious pop nostalgia, hit these fine folx up!

and/or

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

*but with less nasally, more earnest vocals

BOB HEAVENS “Higher” C40 (Bob Heavens Records)




Here’s where we don’t know anything. Bob Heavens is a label, and apparently an artist? I don’t know. The tape doesn’t give any indications (other than “produced by Bob Heavens”). It’s on Lather’s Bandcamp page. Let’s assume Ben Myers has something to do with it then.

“Higher.” Judging from the pot leaves on the spine, this is a tape about weed or made under the influence of weed. I would not be surprised either way. (Did you see the band photo on the Lather Sommer Duo tape? Prominent bong.) At times like Woody Guthrie at extremely slow speed and run through the worst speakers on the planet, at times like Soundgarden at slow speed and run through the worst speakers on the planet, “Higher” promises two things: slow speed (for smoking weed to) and terrible speakers (for smoking weed to). The Norelco is Slimer green, for Pete’s sake. The tape shell itself is glitter green. It looks great.

So, are you high? Nice. Get “Higher.”




--Ryan

SQUELCHER
“Seven Shooter” C37
(Moon Villain)



Seven Shooter is enigmatic mood installation. Canned feelings shotgunned, swapped. Hard conflict is looped, lassoed, limped. Sound bites and synth arpeggios vie for attention and die, non-committally, while other aspiring melodramatix are emboldened. This album doubles as a low-flying relaxant and high-level anxiety-booster. Great for just about anything except job interviews. Enjoy the sonic double-entendre at varying decibels! Definitely for fans of CDX or Constellation Tatsu’s dancier electronica releases.

and/or

— Jacob An Kittenplan

ABBY LEE TEE “Imaginary Friends I”
C20 (Czaszka [Rec.])




Austrian artist Abby Lee Tee goes right where I’m interested in going when considering works of experimental composition on tape: the imagination. Tee has some imaginary friends, it seems, as fourteen “Simulacra” represent over the 20 minutes or so that this tape lasts. These sonic representations offer a glimpse into Tee’s mind, and it’s an intriguing, playful, and mesmerizing place to be.

Utilizing “everyday-life sounds as well as acoustic instruments and field recordings,” Tee crafts a living, breathing menagerie of sound and compiles it into an artistic whole. “Expect obscure soundscapes full of grunting hedgehogs, squeaking otters, sizzling electric fences, and whistling water kettles.” “Imaginary Friends I” certainly is as tactile as that sounds, and part of the fun is trying to parse the sources. Regardless, this tape is inviting and strange, vivid and imaginative. There’s that word again! Can’t escape it.




--Ryan