NO DEADS “Τάρταρος” C40 (Foreign Object Damage)

Austin’s No Deads are milking the darkness for sustenance. That’s what I’m getting out of “Τάρταρος” anyway, which is Greek for Tartarus, the mythological “deep abyss that is used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked and as the prison for the Titans.” Thanks Wikipedia! So you’re telling me you can find Thanos there? “Endgame” was way off.

Anyway, the noise trio grinds its gears against the afterlife, layering sheets of tone and effects on each other, backmasking rhythm, feeding back through crummy amps – you know, everything a proper noise band does. With almost ritualistic intent, No Deads aims at resurrecting the nefarious, and absolutely succeeds – spirits will rise, spirits will go forth. And of course, there’s nothing good that can come out of this, nothing wholesome or even mildly helpful – it’s all a heaving mass of unholy destruction. You’ll get your marching orders. You’ll be on your way to Tartarus – or worse.



I didn’t have very high hopes for this. One look at the Nato Coles side of this split tape and I was like, “Nuh uh, not in the mood for this level of hipster, no thanks.” But this is Exhibit A as to why you should take Ben Franklin’s advice: “Don’t judge a cassette by its cover.” Sometimes, you might just be surprised.

I’ll start there, because that’s where I started: Minneapolis’s Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band hooked up with Denver’s State Drugs for this split on (also) Denver’s Motorcycle Potluck, contributing two (longer) songs to State Drugs’ three (shorter) ones. Fact: Nato Coles recorded a track called “Byung Ho Park Home Run Song,” his “version of [Park’s] Nexen Heroes theme song from Korea,” which I found incredibly charming. It’s not on this tape, but whatever. You like baseball? You’ll love that tune.

Anyway, the two bands are perfect together. Ramming together the headlong power punk of the Replacements with a little bit of Social D’s country charm (though Coles’ “Midnight in Memphis” is a total Joe Cocker torch burner), State Drugs and Coles and the gang plow through their contributions like their mustaches and sideburns were on fire. There isn’t a guitar in sight that isn’t shredded, not a string that isn’t strangled, no riff that isn’t ridden off into the sunset. The energy level is fully redlined; you can smell the stale beer and cigarettes on these tunes, the whiskey behind the bar. There’s not a cowpoke saloon in the Midwest that these two bands wouldn’t be perfect in, maybe behind chicken wire so they wouldn’t get hit by flying bottles during the inevitable brawl.

There’s always a brawl in a cowpoke saloon during sets by bands like these. There’s a rule about that somewhere.

This one’s an easy one to enjoy. Get over the look and get on with your life. I certainly did.


“Magicicada” C26 (Ingrown Records)

Gut Fauna’s "Magicicada" is a brilliantly creative and equally charming debut album that’s as adventurous and playful as it is pop-accessible/sway-alongable. In each song, this Baltimore duet manages to evoke all the trance-like qualities of old world devotional folk dances, ballads, and hymnals while still somehow keeping their pop-repetition to its bare minimum, favoring an ever-evolving cast of psychedelic canons, choirs, & calls & responses, these each working in concert with -and sometimes juxtaposed against- trippy tribal percussions, bad-ass flute licks, funky bass & steel string guitar lines & minimal organ/synth back ups, all these just dialed in snugly to tug us along somethin' fierce!

Listen to at the responsible maximum volume and just imagine how magical their shows must get!


—Jacob An Kittenplan

JOY CLEANER “Easter Tuesday” C6 (Dromedary Records)

If it’s delectable power pop you’re looking for, look no further than “Easter Tuesday,” an honest-to-god cassingle by an honest-to-god band that wouldn’t sound out of place on “Children of Nuggets.” The A-side might have been an early Posies castoff, while the two short tracks on the B retain a crunchy pop-punk brashness, but like in an early Lemonheads kind of way. At any rate, there are more hooks crammed into these six minutes than you’re likely to find anywhere else in the world, at any given time. OK, maybe that’s hyperbole (it surely is), but you could certainly do worse.


“A Pear on the Wind” C36
(Ingrown Records)

This tape feels like a pop-ambient panic attack. Without ever repeating a single measure -and arguably without measure at all- Oariana’s “Pear on the Wind” flows onward & glistening, ceaselessly permutating consonant arpeggiations with every passing pulse, staying forever unhummable-yet-catchy in its movement and momentum. The panning and mixing alone is a work of art, so be sure to wear great headphones & keep eyes closed to farm up some serious visuals. What a trip!


—Jacob An Kittenplan

NICK STEVENS “The New Age” (Galtta Media)

Nick Stevens and self-professed “jazz / minimalism / outsider pop” label Galtta Media are a perfect match for each other. Not only does Stevens do the crooning electronic art pop thing like label stalwart Adrian Knight, he enlists Adrian himself, fellow Galtta showrunner David Lackner, and Galtta satellite artist Alice Cohen as his backing band here on “The New Age.” What ensues are eight buoyant, generously jazz-inflected jams that fall somewhere on the spectrum between Jens Lekman and Stephin Merritt.

Perfect for the evening getting later and later; glasses of wine as the evening gets later and later; stepping out onto the balcony of the penthouse; light-colored suits; excellent hair; romance; the evening getting later and later – gosh, is it midnight already? Love and loss, life on the breeze, and the sax solo takes us away. Somehow Stevens specifically and Galtta in general tap into an incredibly universal suaveness, but one with a dark secret, one that isn’t for general audiences. Nick Cave as a lounge singer? Not crazy. Not a bad idea either.

Let’s see where we’re all going with this. … Back to my place?


“4 HSP c ASMR Vol. 2” C31
(Ingrown Records)

Woe be the fool’s-errand-runner that's e'r tasked with categorizing and/or filing away this Magic From Space album by genre; there currently ain’t no “Avant Synth-Funk” or “Dark/Smooth-New-Age-Electro-Jazz” sections out there, right? Thing is, beneath the face of “4 HSP c ASMR Vol. 2” ’s untamed wildernesses lies a meticulously curated allusion to a gyrating scaffold that your ear cannot help but exhaustively chase*, to no avail.

Is this all just forward thinking, subconscious-appealing, next level, kitchen-sink electronica, or a distilled, hand-spun sound-collage of dance music tropes woven seamlessly into a dizzying quilt of groovy awesomeness? Think Orange Milk/Euglossine, but trading that heady, academic buzz for a slightly more playful warmth and you’ll be on the right track.

Listen to this whole thing from start to finish for best results, as there’s a gradual stylistic metamorphosis happening that’s well worth taking notes on. 

File under: Siiiiiiiiick


—Jacob An Kittenplan

*once the first track/red herring is overtaken, that is

“3L3M3NT 115” C50
(Hand’Solo Records)

Were the Alien Trap Lords to say “No homo”*, they’d be referring to the Sapien Sapien variety. They’re "extra" like that; as in, they’re extra-TERRESTRIAL!

Per the ALIEN TRAP LORDS press kit:
“Out of the farthest reaches of space come a group of inter-dimensional life forms. The Alien Trap Lords serve universal knowledge over wavy synth 808 bass. Take a galactic trip in their space whip. Learn the secrets of your world and the truth behind the conspiracies.”

That’s right. A cosmic Canadian hip-hop group is risking it ALL for the chance to disseminate their celestial blueprints unto you, dear human.  Be charmed by their mesmerizing minimalism, for it better highlights their choppy, screwy accents/hooks. Be forewarned that it is not (only?) your tape deck acting up, but the very ferrous fabric of space and time warping right before your ears that sounds so warped and wobbly. 

Yes. This is some incredibly high-minded** hip-hop. The bass is siiick and slick, the synth pads all trippy & drippy, the vocals wet & wild. Warning: Not recommended for studying or operating heavy machinery!

—Jacob An Kittenplan

*it is cool, I am pretty sure that they do not

**as in, like, waaay out past our atmosphere

WOOD CHICKENS “Must Die” C4 (Crush Grove Records)

I can do so many things in four minutes. One is listen to this Wood Chickens EP and get blasted by the sheer snot-punk of it. Do you think SST Records would’ve been in on the Wood Chickens back in the day? I do.

Another thing I can do in four minutes is empty the dishwasher.

Wood Chickens can actually PERFORM four songs in four minutes, which I find amazing. The tracks are fast, loud, and pissed off. The tape ends with a 28-second blast of shredding and shrieking. But this isn’t grindcore, if you can believe it! This is something more along the lines of the cowpunk (their tag) mixed with 1980s LA worship. Gotta love that.

Wood Chickens are probably a lot of fun live, so find out where they’re playing this weekend. If it’s the weekend already, find out where they’re playing next weekend.

Thank me later.