“Heavy Desert” C42
(Broken Hip Records)

The problem with Garage Rock is that I really don’t like Garage Rock. The closest I get to liking Garage Rock is liking Brian Jonestown Massacre, and that’s pretty much only cz he rarely ever uses any garage rock aesthetics at all, only employing that blown out feel for emphasis, not, liiike, the main objective. Am I biased?

I am obviously biased. There’s a picture somewhere of me on a bridge by Southgate House, situated along the OH/KY border, where I’d almost eaten two Comet Bar, jerked-tofu super burritos. I lay defeated, supine, fuzzy head but three filthy feet from oncoming interstate traffic, a fully-automatic 35mm camera clasped atop my too-tight-fitting blank-black t-shirt’d chest. a pukey/snarling face squints back at the observing lens hovering over me. I’d fashioned myself a young Bob Dylan, but, really, waaaaay uglier. K & I made it to the Datsuns show and I realized that, even with a full gut’s worth of the world’s best vegan burritos in internal tow, no matter how daunting, garage rock was still not my thing. I tried. I’ll always try.

If garage rock is your thing, please click on the links below. The Mumzees follow all the rules very, very well, and the mixing is heavy enough to make even grumple-pusses like me nod my head on cue.  At one point, there’s a cool noise sample thrown in somewhere and I liked that, but, pretty much, this just isn’t my thing.


- - Jacob An Kittenplan

MAGI "Silver" (Juniper Tree Songs)

A nice combination of echo chamber freak folk and ambient lo-fi electronic dark chillout. The cassette's artwork shows an out of focus figure sitting in a posture of defeat upon a poorly lit beach. The sky is roughly the same hue as the sand dune he is sitting on making the illusion of flatness, only what appears to be a fence keeps the reality of dimension. The figure appears to be male in all white pressing an indistinguishable object to his forehead. "8 H.F holding" is written in cursive above and "Hfrey "Bal/65 " is scribbled at the bottom as far as I can make out. The album cover is a perfect illustration for the music's themes; introspection, defeat, isolation and perhaps regret.

The beats sometimes sound as if they come from wooden spoons on tin or popcorn snares and minimal set ups, but they are occasionally from electronic sources too, although they're mixed through a muddy recording job which almost works like an oven, warming and melting the tones slightly. Silver's song structures are complex and use a variety of scales and instruments. Big themes emerge and Silver's vocalist can sound massive as his voice echoes through what may as well be Notre Dame Cathedral. But it also never loses that intimate "guy in a room with a four track" sincerity.

I gravitate towards the songs with drum machines, because otherwise it would remain in the tradition of strictly folk. The occasional keyboard preset keeps the cassette contemporary without becoming pretentious.

The cassette could benefit from higher production only to accentuate the lyrics which are pretty muddled to the point of being indiscernible. Take a hint from Leonard Cohen, you can successfully bum out an audience while keeping them grooving and understanding what you're saying. But to even make such a comparison is praise to Silver's promise for future releases.

A haunting cassette but also very beautifully and modestly composed, an easy addition to make to any Cassette God's collection.

“Mata Hari b/w Colours” C09
(Solid 7 Records)

Trapper Keepers. Armpit checks for quantifiable kinky-hair growth. Unsolicited recommendations for ‘how to finger a girl’ by that kid who draws Grateful Dead logos on all his class books with the dilated eyes. MTV way before any other numbers were involved. Embarrassing body functions without any concept of pattern recognition. Grunge and grunge-metal;blues music with all the darker hues commercially replaced by A-N-G-S-T.

I wouldn’t be even slightly surprised if this limited-run, promo cassette from the UK fetches several hundred dollars in the next decade. I know history repeats itself. I’m still putting this Candlebox/Silverchair throwback in the local “BerkeleyFreePublicLibrary” kiosk down the street. Not my thing, but all the more power to whoever keeps it and couch-dives themselves into a Mountain Dew can pyramid.


- - Jacob An Kittenplan

FIELD MEDIC “Fuck You Grim Reaper”
C25 (Sunroom Recordz & Salon)

“Fuck this life, I want an afterlife, don’t need this rat shadow.”  Some of it is cloying, but some of it is pleasantly introverted and subtle.  “Antique Cup” is great.  Bedroom folk, surrender fantasy.  Fear, drinking, sighs of resignation.  On the b-side it says in sharpie, “tiny grandfather clock resting near the window in a stranger’s house.”  I imagine the golden child, lost & bewildered in enormous rooms.  Or a defeated version of young Bob Dylan, a precocious songwriter who doubts his will to carry on.  I also think of that Lee Ranaldo lyric, “we watched her fall over and lay down, shouting the poetic truths of high school journal-keepers.” 

--Kevin Oliver


Michael J. O’Neil, with his first release under the moniker of Hollowfonts, explores the depths of drones, noise and ambience. Putting out his first album on a Denmark-based label (not Posh Isolation… I know) called, Phinery. A new label that has been delivering us sounds that have been becoming a lot more popularized, yet still inaccessible to some.

The approach of the album is the constructing and building up of sound collages, creating a feeling of delusion throughout a whole track. Extensively cavernous to undergo. The first half of the track, Crude Spirals begins with an electronic beat that nearly made me believe Andy Stott produced the track. Within the tune, the layers and textures expand more and more until it transforms completely into an atmospheric landscape of oblivion. A resonance settling you slowly in a void, losing every bit of self conscience.

Unfortunately the tape is now sold out, but I was lucky enough to receive one, though you can stream it below!



-- Jesus Perez

THE GLASS PATH "Driving Music"
(Drugged Conscience Records)

M. CONZETT has speckled this lame earth with about 6 tapes since 2011 as the GLASS PATH, each a mind-tilting magnetic sculpture of sound. His latest release on DRUGGED CONSCIENCE contains works of minimal, yet stunning tape work. The sources of the sounds shaped are unaccountable, to say the least, and one can't help but wonder what plane of existence you're eavesdropping upon. The listener is pushed to listen deeply to inquire as to whats happening around them, what's wrong. You can stare forever, but you'll never figure it out. I find the title of this tape to be slightly malicious. To drive under the influence of this tape may just send you gleefully off an overpass. A highly recommended tape for uneasy sleep with dreams of living burial and paralysis.

--Dan Dlugosielski

(Funny/Not Funny Records)

My first serious girlfriend and I were together for 3 bullshit years. I qualify ‘bullshit’ for sensational purposes, but, really, in retrospect, I’m sure she’d agree that our being together 1997-2000, based on an affinity for rebellious coitus in forbidden places, skateboarding (pooooorly), and listening to (even wooooorse) chugga-chugga-chugga hardcore Xvegan-straightedgeX bands, could easily be considered ‘bullshit’. So, I say it again, ‘bullshit’. Robert Pollard, of Guided By Voices has a slew of bullshit soundcheck/diatribes collected and pressed to vinyl that he has drunkenly spewed, on stage, not “unwittingly”, with recording equipment pointed at him, in or near Ohio, where I was born and raized. BBoL, from Charlottesville, NC have posted, in a bio, that they are “influenced by GBV and Harry Nilsson”. We share that irreverent love for pop music and the desire to throw Elephant 6 Collective - style wall - of - sound - instrumentation in the buried background. My 1st-Ex- once told me she had had Mr. Pollard as a teacher in highschool. Whenever the class’d get antsy, he’d have them “jump up on their desks and play air guitar for a few minutes.” She went to Col. White…and I’m faily certain BP didn’t. BBoL aren’t either fully honest or cognizant that they, too, love Brian Wilson. Pop music remains.

The former and 2nd’sider-Caroliners have a lot in common, both in past and future members? I wonder, with Bill Doss’s passing, oh, who will take up the pop/psych-baton, and I also more-hopefully-wonderhope that one of these members will bring us into the 2020’s with wider eyes; not just to witness, but appreciate how many harmonies and contrapuntal melodies can fit into a pop song, whether it’s paying homage to New Order, Emitt Rhodes or ELO. Have a listen yourself with the links down below…


- - Jacob An Kittenplan

XUNHOLM "Asleep in the Shattered Mirror" C102* (Skrot Up)

So I get this tape in the mail like four or five weeks ago, right? The packaging, art, everything looks great. Anyways, I decide to take a drive down to lovely Burlington, VT to pick up an old head over the weekend in my friend Raz’ minivan and I bring along a little brown baggie for analog stimulation. I gotta say, this is the one I was the most worked up about. It’s got this real sexy Italian horror aesthetic that flies pretty well up here in my native Quebec. I pop this bad boy in and brace myself. The beefy square wave reverie of Xunholm washes over me as we approach the American border. There’s this undeniably sexy tape distortion going on that’s totally winning me and then…

…the fuckin’ thing just fizzles right out on me! Yo Nick, the tape you sent me is missing a cog and there’s just stray tape and shit all over the place. Next thing I know some border pigs are tearing through the car looking for drugs. I’m like, “man. I aint even high right now.” It’s just literally just the ennui of this broken Xunholm tape that’s got me busted and bewildered (for sure). I’ve never heard anything like it.

I’ve listened to the Shattered Mirror tape on bandcamp a couple of times since then but it’s really not the same. The Xunholm tape is, was, forever will be what it’s all about. For the record this stuff is dark, pulsing, melodramatic in a way that the other 2 2014 releases are not. I like the ambient stuff too, but this is a singular cassette for sure and I’m psyched to dig up another copy. Favorite tracks: Wind in her Hair, Running thru her mind. Check it out!

- - Gerry Foxcroft Mandel, signing out

“CJ-1” C41
(Drawing Room Records)

I bet Chuck Johnson is probably pretty used to people listening to his records and asking aloud “Now, how in the hell is just one man and one instrument making all those sounds at once?” A veteran of American Primitive guitarstyle, his relationship with exploring shifting minimalist textures, timbres, and overtones (not to mention his being in good company of so many a Mills College noise-worshipper) has led to a pretty engaging study in these here Digital Signal Processings. 

No one in their right mind would call this entire collection “pleasant” and only a few more might get away with labeling it capital-M “Music”, though the dynamics, movement, and attention to detail are all easily parallel to classical works. This is not necessarily more dissonant, but far more minimal, more subtle.  Think Eliane Radigue with a shorter attention span.

The collection demands a partnership built with it, and, like any partnership, you get out of it what you put into it. Great for guided painting or drawing or closing your eyes and anthropomorphizing the treble and bass interacting, with concentrated panning composition adding a whole new layer, when wearing headphones. Not good for driving or waiting around while heavily caffeinated. Also not recommended is a cursory skimming of the track to ‘just get an idea’ cz you likely won’t. If you don’t buy this, steal it from a friend or occupy their dark closet while listening on your Walkman.


- - Jacob An Kittenplan