HOGRA / OXYCODONE “Split” C10 (Love Earth Music)

 Ever wonder what it would sound like to get a transmission from inside a black hole? Of course you’ve seen Interstellar, and haters gonna hate, but I loved that flick. You know, though, I’m inclined to side with those who disagree with the science of what actually goes on in one of those things. Because Hogra and Oxycodone, on this hellscape of a cassette, each contribute the soundtrack to the eternal torment of your molecules being separated. Slowly. From inside of a black hole. And then the results are somehow piped out into the cosmos, readily accessible to those of us equipped to capture and decode radio waves. (Radio waves can get out of black holes, right?)

So, the question shouldn’t exactly ask what any old transmission from inside of a black hole would sound like. Rather, it should posit, “Ever wonder what it would sound like to get a transmission of Satan vomiting souls without end or mercy from inside a black hole?” Note the specificity added. It’s the key to the release. Hogra’s got side A, a little ditty called “After the Burning” (eternal torment, seared flesh, you get the idea), and it’s a wasteland of sonic peril, with the aforementioned Satan-barfing incident taking up all of its time. (This is not to be confused with The Spaghetti Incident, which is a different sort of barfing incident altogether.) Do you like the sound of that? Great! You’ll also love the sound of side B.

Oxycodone does Hogra one better, in that there’s less harsh demonic nasticity and more harsh playing-Merzbow-at-the-wrong-speed-and-mashing-it-up-with-The-Soronprfbs-but-without-rhythm. Get me? No? Get back inside that black hole, then! You need another go-round, son, and this time I’m going to turn up this split even louder! Ten more minutes of this equals 1.75 years on the outside! This is your life now!

--Ryan Masteller

(impossible colors records split cassingle club)

This “split cassingle from Chicago dream pop bands” totally sounds like a split cassingle from Chicago dream pop bands. And it is a really good split cassingle from Chicago dream pop bands. I like side two the best. Impulsive Hearts choogle along like an early Arcade Fire and then jam the fuel tank into the gas on the outtro with an extra layer of Honey’s Dead! era JAMC-like verb and fuzz and really exciting rhythmic chant/shout backing vox that sound a lot like early Arcade Fire. I think they are shouting “I, I, fall over” but I can’t really tell. It might be “ai, ai, dung raver” or “nigh, nigh, dump love urffs.” I guess the ambiguity is dreamy. Anyway you wanna appease it, the rhythmic chanting/shouting is exciting over the top of all that pretty fuzz. Side 1 begins with a couple of tentative ooh ooh oohs before a driving guitar and synth hook kicks in to give a fleshed out chorus of ooh ooh oohs firm footing. This one is a pretty lil fuzz pop burner and I can tell from the way the drummer pounds out the steady deep tom 8 counts that turn the tune back round into the hook that Videotape would probably be a fun live prospect. The outtro jam on this one isn’t as exciting as the flip side’s and consists of some too concise modal delayed guitar soloing over the recurring main hook. Videotape’s production isn’t as crisp as Impulsive Hearts’ either and the lack of treble bite kind of sucks some energy out of what could be an even more (er)rousing tune. I guess that muffled quality is kind of dreamy.  Either way I do like this split cassingle from Chicago dream pop bands. I do generally like my dreams weirder and my fuzz louder but that’s my problem I guess. These guys and gals are probably doing just fine.

-- Brantley Fletcher

THE CRADLE “Sweet Automatic” and “Is This Okay?” (No Records)

Free-spirited, wild-sounding.  Good voice, clever recording.  It’s got a multi-tracked, one-man-band vibe, but doesn’t sound solitary—this could be performed in a big ensemble.  The production is homemade & astute, deliberately done, tricky usage of strange sounds but always to the effect of sounding good.  In the realm of what you might call “experimental music,” this is more likely just good songs recorded well with gusto.  The song called “automatic” is great, you should listen to it.  The package is inviting, a cozy lone-wolf DIY fly-by-night operation.  Some strangeness with the long-playing tape, the b-side is called “Is This Okay?” which I first took as an irreverent solution to not having a custom tape to dub your album onto: first an over-long silence (“Is This Okay?”  Haha.), then a feedback drone (“Is This Okay?” Haha.), then some raw jams, then a lot more silence.  I figured, “he’s just tossing a tape package together, doing what he can with what he’s got, cool, yeah, definitely okay.”  The bandcamp archive has “Is This Okay?” as an actual album, the raw jams identified as “some of my songs re-recorded with gong-kebyar instrumentation.”  Oh.  I see.  The artwork is great, black & white on shitty paper, hand folded & scissored with a gatefold lyric sheet.  The lyrics are good and I’m glad they’re printed; it really brought me into the listening.  From the tapes that Nick has sent me, this is one of the best yet.

--Kevin Oliver

JAPANESE BREAKFAST “American Sound and Where Is My Great Big Feeling?” (Seagreen Records)

Japanese Breakfast is Michelle Zauner’s solo project. She also does vocals for Little Big League, an indie band from Philadelphia. She stared to write some tunes for a blog she shared that consisted of musicians: Eskimeaux, Florist, Frankie Cosmos and Small Wonder. The concept behind the blog was to essentially put out a song everyday during the month of May.

American Sound and Where Is My Great Big Feeling? were released a month apart from each other but were pieced together in one tape. Zauner’s vocal performances are serene and pure. Her range can also go on a remarkably high pitch. The melodies put you at ease, extracting every bad element of what might have been a terrible day. There is a quirk to every track, taking it away from the singer/songwriter label. Execution is loosely based with vague endings, but settling lyrics that relocate you to an intimate place and at times humorous circumstances. “They became more like diary entries, lacking any real narrative,” Michelle states about the writing process. There is a good amount of dance tracks, stripping away the aspects of folk you can occasionally hear throughout the album. Instrumentation on both albums dwell much on acoustic guitar, drum machine and gentle to bizarre synths.

I respect this project for its admirable and humane compositions. Get access to her tape on Seagreen records which are doing a repressing of 100 cassettes!



- Jesus Perez

CLOUDSOUND (Fluere Tapes)

Mellow meditative guitar jams that sound like old-school longhair rockers after a long night, plugging their guitars in and giving a soundtrack to the sunrise, with the occasional ambient swelling that feels like it needs some whale sounds over it. Actually this whole thing would sound rad with some whale sounds over it.

A little bit meditative, a little bit "cool uncle". A little bit smooth, a little bit one-with-nature. A little bit waterfalls, a little bit delay pedal.

Growing a beard, chilling in the mystical path with some figs. In my walkman is this tape of sunset desert psych jammers. Music for grown-ups to get high in the wilderness to. Cactuses at night by the fire. Grown-ups let their hair down and go home.

Will make your heart go pitter-pat, right into your britches.


- - Garrison Heck

GRAHAM REPULSKI “Maple Stag” (All Tens Music)

Ridgefield, NJ is home to highly prolific, slightly mysterious lo-fi home recording dude Graham Repulski, who sent us this tape “Maple Stag.”

As I listened to this tape, I thought, why make a tape of short noisy poppy lo-fi songs in a Robert Pollard voice? Doesn’t the world have enough of that? Upon my 3rd or 4th listen, though, because that happened, the answer seems to be: No. The world did not have enough 30-120 second lo-fi pop songs sung in a Robert Pollard voice, This “Maple Stag” tape is GREAT. 

Recorded on tape, released on the artist’s own label in a 50-copy cassette run, Graham Repulski seems to earnestly believe in the medium and has done the homework to get the sounds and the vibes just right. 

The highlight track from the first side is “Rubes,” has a sweet Polvo-y guitar tone and faraway vocals with a catchy refrain, crafty lyrics (“Braves and slits/ Offering awful options to us/Thick as dicks /Nothing the fixers can't six”). B side has some fun ones too, a quick and dirty 47 second song poem “Teach Your Children to be Valuable” and the heavy, almost metal sounding “Funeral Games”  are highlights, direct and deliberate songs with great texture with bent, inquisitive lyrics.

The tape goes out with some noise collage business, “Flux Rebate,” and I kind of wished it was another regular song, but OK man, you do you, I enjoyed the rest of the tape so much that I left it in to keep flipping.

I’m looking forward to giving the rest of this guy’s substantial catalog a listen, everything is streamable quick and easy and lots of fun. 

-- Liv Carrow

LEONARD CHARLES "Abracelebrex"
(Become Eternal)

Every other release I've listened to for Cassette Gods in the last month was some variant on improvised noise/electronic sound collage, but this tape, by a one-man band with two first names, is about as far from harsh noise as you can get while still existing in the same universe.

At first listen, Lenny here seems to be a young Kiwi jazz musician and collector of classic electronic gear, and he's put together an impressively cheesy cassette of lite funk and synth jazz, heavy on the slap bass and programmed drums and monophonic keyboard solos. I struggled to wrap my head around it at first -- was Lenny intentionally trying to recreate the hold music I endured the last time I called Verizon Wireless to dispute my phone bill? But then I thought about the potential connection contemporary vaporwave artists and synth funk revivalists like Dam Funk. And then I wondered, do kids in New Zealand even give a crap about Dam Funk? I don't have a clue. And in the end I had to give up, because this music is just inexplicable and terribly awesome/awesomely terrible in ways I can't explain. Lenny clearly knows his way around a synthesizer; whether he should be legally allowed to put his hands on one is a different question.

After listening a few times, I was confused enough by the existence of this tape that I decided to go online and read the label bio (always a last resorts), which put a totally different spin on things. Turns out Lenny wrote these songs by himself while recovering from a head injury he suffered in an assault at one of his shows. I can't tell how I feel about this; while it does offer some explanation for the odder moments on this tape, it also kind of puts a damper on the unbridled energy I felt when I first listened to it. But then I put the tape back on, and instead of worrying about head injuries, I'm transported back to where I was on first listen.

The tracks with vocals sound kind of like Steely Dan, and the tracks that use cut up drums are more like Boards of Canada with the kitsch factor turned up to 11, but in the end it's all part of one singular and unstoppable frothing mozzarella volcano. After listening again three or four times, all I can say is: I want to hear more from this guy.

--Will Griscom

Physical copies: http://www.coffeeheadduck.com/#!sounds/c1dqn
Digital audio: http://shessorad.bandcamp.com/album/abracelebrex-e-p

IF IT AIN’T BREAKFAST DON’T FIX IT “There Will Be Casualties” (Antiquated Future Records)

Jeff Shannon of Oympia, Wa. brings a duffle bag of surprises when he shows up to the dance. I might have a notion where he is going with a particular song, and I will be wrong. It’s time to rethink my own listening strategy.

First a jaunty number descendent of Jonathan Richman and Marc Bolan catalogues ascends to a Mothersbaugh-esque orchestral filigree. He takes chances lyrically, offering torn paper handwritten confessions and clues to the environments, objects and activities in the world or his world.

As unsettling as “Blood”, “There Will Be Casualties” could be considered a document of the death of one part of the self, and the clearing of the path for new life. Each cassette has a hand carved stamp of a blue Darth Vader bleeding from his mask. Is this like the films and books that begin close to the end of the story, and conclude with a brief minute of closure?

As you can see, an adhesive bandage is stuck to each cassette, possibly to prevent leakage of essential emotional truths in transit. This is no ordinary consumption of audio or visual material. This is a package communicating to people with questions. There are more questions. But If I find this in my cereal box, I know that I’m starting my day off right.


--Adam Padavano

D. D. Dobson "Generic Girls" (Goodall Tapes)

Such a stark, raw, and deep vision. With an intensely abstract pallet of sounds, the mysterious Dobson paints the births of a series of mythical figures from a stark and fierce other land, entwined with and emerging from the more extreme reaches of our own. For those who are undaunted by abstraction that more often denies sensual pleasure than feeds it, this tape is a deep deep quarry. 
Facilitating glimpses of forms that leer back at you from just beyond the limits of the human, Dobson exemplifies the spiritual medium to a depth and with a power that, hyperbole aside, frightens me.

The minimal linguistic framework implied in the cassette notes feels like either the table of contents from a serial killer's diary, or chapters from a new ineffable and powerful gospel. "The Slain Gods," "The Twins Emerging," "The Mother." And in this context even those elements that are familiar heavy symbols "The Virgin," "The Holy Ghost," you discover are newly foreign, startlingly unknown. All of it emerges as something decisively arcane, menacing, true. I begin to fear for my sanity. What is this? What is inside of me? Were you always there?

Still, I feel I'm merely scratching the surface of this tape. Twisting collapsing steel, distant fires in the night, arcing buzzes of electricity, howling desert whirlwinds of bells, obsolete machine power scouring barren landscapes, hell, new unfathomed spirits. For me, this tape is opening doors. Words just don't do. If you, intrepid traveler, are willing to discover strange and unsettling things hidden in your self and you're lucky enough to chance upon a copy of this tape, it's worth what they're asking.
Extremely special.

-- Devin Brown

LINDA SMITH "All The Stars That Never Were"
(Juniper Tree Songs)

Fantastic cassette only reissue of little heard home recordings from 1987-2001. Do not doubt, just buy this now...I think the label is running low on stock.

STRAWBERRY JACUZZI “Love Is For Suckers” (Grabbing Clouds)

Shannon Candy, Devon Press, Ross Tasch, and Nikita Word makeup Strawberry Jacuzzi from Chicago, Illinois. Their full length attempt, Love Is For Suckers demonstrates the variation of instruments they all fiddle around with.

Strawberry Jacuzzi have their own identity in making surprising pop tunes, showing individuality in every tune.They take a different approach on the track, French Girl, tinkering with the French language and infusing it to the hook. This album contains bold lyrics as well as an audacious, slight sass that nearly sounds like you’re giving lip to your parents. Furthermore, the second half of this record is absolute on its garage rock components. On the way to the last track of the LP, it is put to an end with the whole band chanting an acoustic ballad.

Grab your spray painted cassette from Grabbing Clouds and a free, digital download is available as well.


-- Jesus Perez

HARPS “Always Sitting” (Vagueness Records)

I ran Harps through my last.fm app, and hilariously (as is sometimes the case), the band Harps that it recognizes is not the same band as you’re playing. Why is this hilarious? Harps, the one I’m listening to is a somewhat twee, somewhat shoegazey, definitely home-recorded indie pop band from Japan, owing a bunch to The Vaselines and The Pastels, both of whom they cover on Always Sitting, their darling of a cassette for Spanish label Vagueness Records. What does last.fm say I’m listening to? Greeks, man, Greeks. And not just any Greeks – ones who are “hard rock driven” and feature “ear-catching guitar riffs,” and who marry “notes of an ancient time” with the “sounds of today.” Fist raised, know what I mean? That’s not what I’ve got here though.

No, Harps, the Japanese trio, recorded this whole tape at their house in Sasazuka. It sounds like it, in a good way – four-track production values can be really endearing when the songs warrant them, and the trio really know their strengths and limitations as a band in this setting. They rock a little bit, but not too hard, and they sound like a band instead of a recording project, or a single dude laying down a couple parts. Plus, I’m a sucker for bands who sound mopey but not mopey mopey, like playing up their mopey-ness and hunching over their sparkly Gretsch hollow-bodies, eyes closed, feeling the tape reels turning as they record their tentative lead parts.

Indie pop never felt so huggable. Adding to the huggableness are the aforementioned covers, The Pastels’ “Something Going On” and The Vaselines’ “Molly’s Lips.” (I thought that was a Nirvana song! … Too soon?) The former is cloaked in fidelity issues, as if the band is struggling to make it sound like a song, but the latter is a beautiful recreation, female-fronted as God intended, and truly faithful to the original in tone and execution. Guess what – it fits right into Harps’ oeuvre! Who would’ve thought. (Er, I would’ve, actually, after reading this, and hearing the rest of the album.)

Always Sitting is a fresh, welcome surprise, a short jaunt through your indie nostalgia that you should absolutely, positively take. Just don’t dock me “writer points” for relying on last.fm for my info. If anybody found out I fact-check everything through it and Wikipedia, I’d lose my precious, precious credibility!

--Ryan Masteller

“Corner Coronah/the Electric Nature”
(Stronj Flow)

Precious fucking few sounds on the CC side of this tape have any place in the naturally occurring acoustic world. Which is nice. Kinda sounds like if maybe instead of all of history’s teenage energy that was spent towards accomplishing all those videogame feats was instead spent recreating the last few billion years worth of earth’s landforming, with outerspace microphones directed towards forming mountains and retreating oceans. The second song has…what the fuck? Vocals? Good thing they sound like aliens capital-T trying to sound like humans emoting! Don’t pay too much attention or blood will shoot out yr nose. Waaaay too much dissonance to play on the jambox while around other non-consenting adults, lest they, too speak only through tons of echo/flanger pedals. Sounds like a well rehearsed nightmare. A pleasant one.  If it weren’t for the human-based field recordings (aka movie quotes) towards the end, I’d be fairly certain that this was a time capsule we found on Mars*. I looked high & low for info on this band and found jack shit. I hope that, in a few years, if I look again, i yield far different results. *note, I’m not Martian by any stretch of the imagination.

The ‘the Electric Nature’ side of this reminds me of Pelt and Psychic Paramount. More the latter, though. Sounds like a lot of fun to play or witness live…as this recording is taken from a show somewhere in Atlanta, Georgia. Loud music is fun, yeah?

The juxtaposition of these two verymuchnotalike artists makes for a fun collage if you flip the tape back & forth. I highly recommend this course of action.

- - Jacob An Kittenplan