BELARISK “Greys, Escaped” (Moss Archive)

The Greys, you whisper, and you immediately know the end is upon you. The maximum-security facility where they’re housed, out of site from the American public, teeming with scientists and military personnel, has been breached. The Greys have escaped. You stumble upon the site, the last remnant of the research team, and it is a crater in the earth. Nothing is left. Oh no, we’re doomed, you have time to think before you see a silver disc rise from the ashes and disappear at blinding speed into space. Seconds later a beam of intense light fires down, incinerating the rest of the planet. Humanity’s end is inauspicious at best.

Fast-forward to the alien homeworld. The escapees have safely arrived, ready to debrief their superiors. “623y5, 35c493d?” asks The Enchanter. An escapee begins to explain: “N) v)ic3, n) d474…” Angrily, The Enchanter interrupts: “T'4c7ic41 W38!” Of course it’s ridiculous that they were captured in the first place! So much for the terraforming idea. No point in assimilating into a population hell-bent on dissecting you. Best to blow it up instead, start from scratch. Not ideal, but better than that operating table.

Reassess, rewire, reconfigure. Supercomputer Belarisk repositions coordinates, recalculates probabilities. The Greys, not Greys anymore, intercept Belarisk’s transmissions through their frontal lobes, the electronic pulses, sometimes quick and urgent, sometimes paced for reflective cognition, providing a unified message. The Greys, not Greys anymore, understand as one the transmissions and fall into pattern, preparing the next move.

Belarisk turns its transmitters outward, broadcasting its warning to the universe. Let the perils of Earth be a lesson to them. “831i41 Ch2)m3'd,” break, media end.

--Ryan Masteller

FATHER TRIBE (Self-Released)

Nahsville's Father Tribe released their self titled album in the Summer of 2015 on Crafted Sounds and it's full of Modest Mouse-ian compositions that were reportedly recorded in bedrooms and garages in the California area.

The coastal mellow vibes of the west coast are extremely apparent and crafted extremely well. The recordings are full of unique imperfections and warmth as well. Kaden (Vocalist, Guitars, etc) emits many different vocal styles throughout the album reminiscent of Isaac Brook, Conor Oberst and Ruben Nielson.

Instrumental dynamics are no shortcoming on this album either. Fully imagined rock pieces, woozy acoustic whistle jams, soulful raw R&B, emo-crusted pop, and more fill the reels and never disappoint.

RIYL: Modest Mouse, Bright Eyes, Unknown Mortal Orchestra
-- Joseph Morris

"Self Titled" C38
(Wiener Records)

I remember first hearing of Wilco’s gradual shift into mediocrity verbalized as “they’re playing ‘Dad-Rock’now.” Man, I really used to love me some Wilco. ‘Summer Teeth’ and ‘Being Here’ are stalwart go-to’s for any roadside picnic accompaniment, and ‘A Ghost Is Born’ remains to be (admittedly nostalgically) a masterful blending of grittier Alt-Country and the labored compositional dynamics of forward thinking the Indie Rock I was anticipating when I heard that not only Glenn Kotche was on board full time, but Nels Fucking Cline was going to be contributing, too! Oh, how ‘Sky Blue Sky’ just broke my widdle hawt. ‘Dad-Rock’ was born.

So, here we are, ten years later. The smoke as cleared. Lessons have been learned, though, arguably, not by Jeff Tweedy. Instead, the gauntlet was dug up by Oakland’s SUN VALLEY GUN CLUB, a near carbon-copy of what COULD have been. Maybe SVGC are ‘Hipster Uncle Rock’? They’ve got all AGIB’s tones, vocals, drive, dynamic shifts, and breakneck key changes, plus a li’l extra saucy-swagger. They’re catchy as fuck, but mindful to not be too predictably sweet, via artful modulation that keeps it interesting and not just another Indie rock record for the masses.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

WET HEAVE "Warm Shrimp" (Crush Grove)

Now we're talkin'! Part punk, and when I say punk I mean 60's punk; part Jonathan Richman and a sprinkling of surf and you have three piece Wet Heave from Bloomington, Indiana. This combo offers up a 12 track tape which, best I can figure, is from 2015 and from start to finish is engaging and refreshing.

Why you ask? Well, I'll tell you. Because everything sounds familiar yet different. They borrow but don't steal. Right out of the gate with "PWH" you hear the combined influences which are the foundation of a new sound which is unique and pure Warm Shrimp. Other highlights include "Russian Girl," "Psycho" and "Rubber Room."

For those so inclined, the tape comes with a download card so you can take your 'Shrimp anywhere. Don't dismiss this perc lightly because if you're like me, you'll want to listen to this repeatedly. The tape otherwise is packaged in your standard Norelco plastic case with J-card.

Sadly, it appears Wet Heave is no more. According to their Facebook page they have moved on but we can cling to this fine outing and only hope they somehow find it in themselves to regroup at some juncture for another recording session. It's burger time indeed...highly recommended.

-Bob Zilli

“Rite of Final Hours”
(Do You Dream Of Noise)

My first exposure to a tape from Do You Dream Of Noise (DYDON) turned out to be a record that perfectly complimented what I’ve been looking for recently. A collection of instruments and sounds on this album offer slowly moving dark noise music. Steady rhythmic elements on this album rise to become large walls of sound that never become too overbearing. The combination of chanting vocals, guitars, and synthesizers work well with each other and create haunting bodies of music. The moments of deep continuous layers of noise on this album are powerful, and follow a fixed tempo that feels hypnotizing. While minimal at times, the tracks on this album are really well put together and I appreciate the collage of voice, instruments, and heavy noise. 

“Nippon CS”
C47 (Moss Archive)

I mean, look. Moss Archive is Bastian Void, and vice versa, each informing the other and spiraling out of control, until quality and objectivity have no meaning and the sounds generated take their place in the cosmos, hanging there as if they always have been, always will be. Joseph Bastardo runs both – well, he’s the MA label head and the BV pulse cannon, so he’s got the stick and he’s got the star chart and he’s planned the coordinates, so let’s pay attention to him for a minute, shall we? Fresh off his instense workout deCordova on Phinery, Bastardo moves even further away from the traditional Bastian Void sound on Nippon CS (previously Nippon LP, but you’ve clicked on “Cassette Gods,” not “LP Gods”), leaving behind the far-out synth work of No Dreams and (a personal favorite) Fluorescent Bells for a bit of – goddamn everybody for making me say this – synthwave workout. Hanging out with H. Takahashi will do that to you. (I love H. Takahashi.) Sorry for peddling that played-out descriptor, but man, this new Bastian Void cassette – it digs in to all the right places, and because it moves a little faster than earlier and more spaced-out BV releases, we’ve got no other choice to append a “-wave” suffix here. You really can’t fight the legal system on this one.

Nippon was finished during a tour of Japan, mixed on buses and trains, and features field recordings from Bastardo’s trip. The collection began life as a bunch of unfinished projects sitting around in a laptop folder, and then came epiphany: “Oh, this is some stuff I’ve been working on for, like, however long. Maybe I have an EP, I can release it on the tour. … No, wait, there’s a whole LP in here!” C’mon Joseph, you’re not fooling us. You’re a mastermind. You whipped it together because you could, because you have the power. I don’t have any unused material on my laptop that I want to “remix” and send out to the world. [*Checks “Documents” folder, cries at the sight of an unfinished Chinese Democracy review from 2009*]

Nippon’s not a full hard left from Bastian Void – tracks like “SHAPESHIFTER [本州の地図 MIX]” and “ノーム空港ーアンディリ空港 [KODIAK 海山 MIX]” (sorry, the liners were translated into Japanese – English readers, just listen to the thing) drift through outer space like molecules on a solar wind. But the absolute stars on this thing come out of nowhere, and nowhere starts at the top of side A with “紙の道 [BASKETBALL MIX],” which sounds like a lost Underworld track circa Beaucoup Fish (those heady days!), a rallying cry for the AMP set that is begging to be given a tripped-out MS Paint video of pulsing geometric shapes. “DINsync [DARIUS ループ]” dares to be vaporwave-y (gah, that suffix again!), recalling James Ferraro’s best moments on the Far Side Virtual. And then there are the skttrbrn IDM jobs like “Vendiagram [円錐 MIX]” and “土星ゾーンへようこそ [LAST COAST MIX],” sandwiched in between (or at the end of) everything and showcasing the stylistic breadth Bastardo is stretching for within the Bastian Void canon. Seriously, I’m applauding while standing on my office chair, and I better get off it before I hurt myself because it has wheels. If Cassette Gods had a year-end best-of list, I’d make sure Nippon was freaking on it.

In reading over this review, I find that I’m culpable in repeating myself. I actually told Joseph Bastardo himself, to his (virtual) face, that I’d try not to overuse my “space words.” Oh well. Bastian Void just brings out the best in all of us, and I’ve been playing around in what just happens to be some of the favorite corners of my vocabulary. I expect to be transported by Bastian Void, shot in a rocket to who knows what part of the universe, light speed travel chemtrailing the objects outside the windows into blurs. How very, very righteous.

--Ryan Masteller                                                                                                                                                               

SLEAZY "Night Time" (Self-Released)

First of all, I love the album cover, it's really simple but fits the music perfectly. Second, I'm color blind and it took me WAY too long to be able to read the very tiny faint pink letters that read "sleazy night time" on the front, but I guess that's more my fault than his. And third, the text on the back said this,

"wassup sexy thang, sit down and strap in for this roller coaster ride of sexual thrills and other things."

After reading that, I was genuinely terrified to find out what might be on this tape. Luckily I was pleasantly surprised. This album is exactly what you expect it to be after seeing the cover. It's really just collection of stoner rock songs with a little bit of a surf sound. The kind of thing you listen to while you're daydreaming in a hammock. Something teenagers would listen to while making out on the beach. Just kind of a mac demarco, slacker vibe. I really hate to use the term slacker but I can't think of anything else to describe it with.

There is very little information on the artist who put this out. All I can find is the bandcamp with this album and no other releases or any description of the band. From what I can gather/guess , it's just one guy who writes and records everything on his own in California. I wish I could find more about him because I enjoyed this album a lot.

The album's only $1 on bandcamp so you really can't go wrong. And sleazy, I do in fact like your indie garbage.


- Garrett Douglas

WEAKWICK “Neophyte” (self-released)

Noisy scum punk from Minneapolis at its finest. You think AmRep wants a piece of this duo? You’re damn right they do. Now, if the label’d only get on the phone and return my calls, I’d let them borrow my copy of this tape. I’m nothing if not a bullhorn for the underappreciated facing toward the uninitiated. “Hey, A&R guy,” I’d say, because I call everybody “guy” anyway, “why don’t you listen to this Weakwick band? They’ll be bigger than Tad Doyle!” Then I’d regale him with a scenario where Weakwick, The Jesus Lizard, Cows, and Ritual Device all pitched in and bought Michael Jackson’s old tour bus from the Dangerous tour, tricked it out, and turned it into a rock-and-roll partymobile. Imagine how bad the bunks would smell! Then they’d all fly overseas in Rod Stewart’s private jet and hang out with Workin’ Man Noise Unit in London. Cause there’s nobody like the Unit. They’d all understand the need for the formless noise breathers interspersed throughout Neophyte (perhaps my favorite touch in between the guttercore). Then every noise band would take the stage at the Royal Albert Hall and play their version of “We Are the World,” which would likely end up a massive hour-long nuclear fuzz-blast, shattering windows around the city. Then everyone would hug. And Weakwick would smile because they started the whole thing.

--Ryan Masteller

"Les Dernières Confessions" C41
(Orange Milk Records)

Last year, Charles Barabé, J.S. Truchy, Black Givre, Ant’lrd, and a whole host of other bad-ass acts came through to play at Life Changing Ministry for an all day, noise-tastiq fest…and I was in one foul mood; so shite that I’d decided I’d just go down there before the show started and buy a few tapes off CB & JST to show my support, and wish them luck before pedaling back home, popping the tapes in, and frowning myself to sleep. I think I bought about a dozen. All of them were and still ARE quite amazing.

So when Orange Milk Records released Charles Barabé’s endcap to this “Confessions…” series, mostly a schizophrenic mindfuck of conjuring all the world’s problems and solutions into one bewildering journey, well, I figured maybe I’d probably had enough works of his to digest for a lifetime and hey, I could just let this likely also brilliant piece go by and be none for the worse. Why try & catch up on ALL the action, right? Nope. This one was not to be missed, and I’m sooooooo grateful for the chance to review it! In my opinion, it’s been his best yet. As if I needed any more reason to love Orange Milk Records…

The charm here is the seamless interweaving of ‘90s symphonic Black Metal keyboard intros (in all their glorious, melodramatic, climactic clichés), ‘70s Synth-Heavy Slasher soundtrack atmospheres, and innovative, modern, timbre-centric compositions focusing heavily on precision tremolo effects and polyrhythmic baton-passings between engaging, diverse arpeggios and drones of ever varying overtones. Yeah, that rhymed, but I’m being sincere.

This Swan Song to CB’s “Confessions”… Series blew my mind, and I’m really at a loss for words on how incredibly dynamic it has revealed itself over the two dozen plus times I’ve now listened. The pitch-black narratives and juxtaposing chapter’d themes just keep on coming, with every repeated listen.

Headphones snug & eyes shut tight!

"Natural Instinct"
(Grabbing Clouds Records)

As soon as the first song on this album was over, I thought to myself, "either this band is from California, or they desperately want to be." Sure enough, they're from San Francisco. This album just has that smooth, dreamy sound with a little surf and jangle that all bands from California seem to have.

As I read on about High Sunn, I discovered that it's actually a one man project. His name is Justin Cheromiah. Not only is it a one man project, but he's only 16 years old. So Justin if you're reading this, I would just like to say that I am truly from the bottom of my heart jealous. I wish I had this kind of talent and songwriting ability at the age of 16.

This album sounds like summer. It sounds like sunshine. It sounds like wind in your hair. It sounds like the summer in your teenage years that you spent at the beach with that one girl that you never forgot. Whatever you wanna call this album, I want more of it. 

So if the weather's nice, put the windows down and let High Sunn take your mind off your problems for a while.

-- Garrett Douglas

"Live Vol I"
(Shadowland Tapes)

In the tradition of freak folk bands releasing limited run live documents to supplement their 'offical releases', Shadow Band has released 'Live Vol I' and it's a strange one. On Side A of this live compilation of Shadow Band material, the band plays folk-psych steadily yet sounding kind of dreary, with Mike Bruno's voice cutting through the music like Sky Sunlight Saxon's work with the World Peace Band. Mike's intonation is not unlike Donovan in his most well known work. The bassist has that Les Rallizes Denudes groove, while the guitars wind around the groove like MV&EE's excursions to the outer limits. On most of Side B we get a different Shadow Band. Here, the band stomps and crashes like the most wiped-out live recordings from FuShitSusha. Then they transition into what sounds like 'Shut Down' by the Germs, but isn't listed as such in the liner notes.

These wild sounds have left me eagerly awaiting 'Live Vol. 2' from Shadow Band. A very appealing mix on this jammer of a tape.

--T Penn

“Close the Circle, Lay the Stones”
(Heavy Mess)

Jennifer Williams makes acoustic folk music by definition, but the level of sonic experimentation she injects into her tunes elevates them well beyond the genre – it’s really some of the most harrowing and imaginative work I’ve heard in quite some time within the genre. It’s like if David Eugene Edwards stripped all his rockist tendencies out of Wovenhand and just left in the creepy bits. But maybe he couldn’t pull off what Williams does as Gossimer, and I’m pretty sure I’m never going to listen to this with the lights off late at night. Or maybe I will, just to freak myself out. It’s Grimm’s-dark-woods moody, and although the A-side features Williams’s haunted vocal, it doesn’t act as a beacon on the dark paths. Instead, it’s a quiet reminder that you’re out of your element as the listener, you’re treading through secret places you have no right to be. Close the Circle, Lay the Stones is a soundtrack to the witching hour, where spells and magic deeds are incanted and performed against far-removed enemies. Each moment is charged in anticipation, the gentleness of the playing belying the undertones. Ooh, the glitchy work on “Wine Into Water” is chilling! (Although whoever’s performing that miracle is a lot less cool than Jesus was at the biblical party.) The B-side is a stretch of instrumental acoustic menace, its two long pieces, “Close the Circle” and “Lay the Stones,” linger in the atmosphere and raise hackles like electricity before a storm. Oh, and it makes total sense that Williams is half of Orra. She continues to enchant and mystify, offering a pastoral escape hatch from modern life. I’ll take that kind of creepiness any day.

--Ryan Masteller