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Connections - Into Sixes [Anyway; 2014]
Time to answer an age old question: is too much of something bad for you? What if that too much is a band churning out good albums?

Ohioans Connections order up album #3 with Into Sixes and though the energy of the previous two is still well intact, one wonders just HOW good…wait, this is Agitated Atmosphere so this can’t be a negative review.

And it’s not. But much like oft-referenced Guided by Voices in regards to Connections, Into Sixes does suffer from overexposure (even if the band continues to be slightly unexposed). But what Into Sixes does do is start the slight reinvention of Connections. When thinking of modern bands cranking out content in a similar mold (The Men, Dr. Dog, Ryan Adams, and yes GBV), they fail to offer up a glimpse of what lies ahead. In the case of Connections, there’s plenty borrowed from Private Airplane and Body Language that is still strong (catchy hooks, upbeat tempos, throwback guitar solos) as the band grows tighter with each release.
Yet their proficiency doesn’t discourage deviant behaviors. “Beat the Sky” is a meatier rock anthem, ditching some of the edgier garage licks for a clearer vision of growth. “Calm Down” borrows from the Segall/Vile playbook without the California weariness. “Angie” is the best indication of Connections ability to combine many rock influences into a cohesive and singular idea of what’s to come.

So what’s with the wealth of releases? Is it too much of a good thing? Likely, but the truth is Connections are running through their initial incarnation before they morph into something bigger and better. All these solid albums out of the gate aren’t indicative of fetishism for a particular sound but merely a means to expand it from where history last left it. When it’s all said and done (and that could sadly be tomorrow for all we know), these first two years of Connections releases may well be seen as not enough of the good but considering the rising tide of the band that’s unlikely. So feast like a snake for now.

Connections - Into Sixes [Anyway; 2014]

Time to answer an age old question: is too much of something bad for you? What if that too much is a band churning out good albums?

Ohioans Connections order up album #3 with Into Sixes and though the energy of the previous two is still well intact, one wonders just HOW good…wait, this is Agitated Atmosphere so this can’t be a negative review.

And it’s not. But much like oft-referenced Guided by Voices in regards to Connections, Into Sixes does suffer from overexposure (even if the band continues to be slightly unexposed). But what Into Sixes does do is start the slight reinvention of Connections. When thinking of modern bands cranking out content in a similar mold (The Men, Dr. Dog, Ryan Adams, and yes GBV), they fail to offer up a glimpse of what lies ahead. In the case of Connections, there’s plenty borrowed from Private Airplane and Body Language that is still strong (catchy hooks, upbeat tempos, throwback guitar solos) as the band grows tighter with each release.

Yet their proficiency doesn’t discourage deviant behaviors. “Beat the Sky” is a meatier rock anthem, ditching some of the edgier garage licks for a clearer vision of growth. “Calm Down” borrows from the Segall/Vile playbook without the California weariness. “Angie” is the best indication of Connections ability to combine many rock influences into a cohesive and singular idea of what’s to come.

So what’s with the wealth of releases? Is it too much of a good thing? Likely, but the truth is Connections are running through their initial incarnation before they morph into something bigger and better. All these solid albums out of the gate aren’t indicative of fetishism for a particular sound but merely a means to expand it from where history last left it. When it’s all said and done (and that could sadly be tomorrow for all we know), these first two years of Connections releases may well be seen as not enough of the good but considering the rising tide of the band that’s unlikely. So feast like a snake for now.

Derek Monypeny - How Can Be [CS; Ambivalent Soap]
I am devoted to Ambivalent Soap as I once was to Stunned. I never knew I had a hole to fill but Ambivalent Soap has done so. Why, I ask rhetorically to whoever may read this? When you listen to the latest Derek Monypeny that has sneaked out, you’ll know. A contemplative but never dull guitar exposition that is as much Stephen Molyneux as it is Sir Richard Bishop. Guitar may be the primary instrument, but Monypeny does not shy from incorporating its secondary noises along with percussion and field recordings. Though “Peace Be Upon You” sticks out as a departure from the album’s first four ragas, it is nonetheless instrumental in cementing the Eastern feel of How Can Be. But don’t mistake that has Beatles Shankar Krishna bullshit hype. Meditative, yes, stoned musings on a feeling rather than being, never. It’s fun to listen to Monypeny reconcile his inspirations into a cohesive statement, which you get the feeling has yet to come. As a first foot forward on the Spanish Steps, this is as firm a planting as one could expect.

Derek Monypeny - How Can Be [CS; Ambivalent Soap]

I am devoted to Ambivalent Soap as I once was to Stunned. I never knew I had a hole to fill but Ambivalent Soap has done so. Why, I ask rhetorically to whoever may read this? When you listen to the latest Derek Monypeny that has sneaked out, you’ll know. A contemplative but never dull guitar exposition that is as much Stephen Molyneux as it is Sir Richard Bishop. Guitar may be the primary instrument, but Monypeny does not shy from incorporating its secondary noises along with percussion and field recordings. Though “Peace Be Upon You” sticks out as a departure from the album’s first four ragas, it is nonetheless instrumental in cementing the Eastern feel of How Can Be. But don’t mistake that has Beatles Shankar Krishna bullshit hype. Meditative, yes, stoned musings on a feeling rather than being, never. It’s fun to listen to Monypeny reconcile his inspirations into a cohesive statement, which you get the feeling has yet to come. As a first foot forward on the Spanish Steps, this is as firm a planting as one could expect.

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - Songs of Forgiveness [CS; BARO]
There is a fog around the edges. It’s soft, dull. It stays in place no matter how fast I run. All it does it accentuate the shinning sun as it pours down beyond my peripheral. It enlarges my love as I race toward them. This is our finale; a moment caught in time that we’ve been building up to. The producers thought it was expected but the test audiences loved it. So here I am, perpetually after an imaginary emotion. I dodge the credits as best as I can, but I dare not fight this triumph of a soundtrack. It caresses me longer than my co-star. It is the reason I have grown to love this white circled vision. A moment caught in time that will play out infinitely. My legs are tired. My heart has grown darker. My love seems to be getting further away. The white is beginning to discolor. The edges are beginning to grow frayed. But this endearing music is eternally uplifting. I no longer care for my other across the screen. I would jump out of this frame if I could. Perhaps my name will fall from the cascade and put an end to my repeated run. There’s never any resolution, just the faint embrace of a soundtrack that I can only enjoy in this time of grief. I am Sisyphus but at least I have a faint spark of hope. I forgive the damned director who cast me here for eternity. It is not his fault that they won’t stop watching. Their prying eyes on a romance they never chase themselves. I forgive them as well. A moment caught in time that will be our real end.

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - Songs of Forgiveness [CS; BARO]

There is a fog around the edges. It’s soft, dull. It stays in place no matter how fast I run. All it does it accentuate the shinning sun as it pours down beyond my peripheral. It enlarges my love as I race toward them. This is our finale; a moment caught in time that we’ve been building up to. The producers thought it was expected but the test audiences loved it. So here I am, perpetually after an imaginary emotion. I dodge the credits as best as I can, but I dare not fight this triumph of a soundtrack. It caresses me longer than my co-star. It is the reason I have grown to love this white circled vision. A moment caught in time that will play out infinitely. My legs are tired. My heart has grown darker. My love seems to be getting further away. The white is beginning to discolor. The edges are beginning to grow frayed. But this endearing music is eternally uplifting. I no longer care for my other across the screen. I would jump out of this frame if I could. Perhaps my name will fall from the cascade and put an end to my repeated run. There’s never any resolution, just the faint embrace of a soundtrack that I can only enjoy in this time of grief. I am Sisyphus but at least I have a faint spark of hope. I forgive the damned director who cast me here for eternity. It is not his fault that they won’t stop watching. Their prying eyes on a romance they never chase themselves. I forgive them as well. A moment caught in time that will be our real end.

Smokey Emery - Soundtracks for Invisibility Vol. III [CS; Holodeck]
For an artist now on his third installment of invisibility-influenced soundtracks, Daniel Hipolito is doing a poor job of hiding himself. But maybe I misrepresent? Perhaps it’s a misunderstanding? Likely, I just missed him. I go to give him a hug but my arms wrap right through his translucent body. I take three friends into the desert (this being the third release in this series and all). We encounter a melodic shrub and I say “farley farley farley farley a-farl” and cast out a bullet into the air. My compadre to my left chants his own magical nonsense and does the same. Our skeptical traveler doesn’t commit to the act, killing our invisible Hipolito. All that is left on his person (hard to search by discovered by the imprint left in the heavy sand) is this message. These were his cloak, the means by which his image was hidden from the sins of man. We came to him for help but alas, we did not commit to the bit. We failed to see the err of our ways before it was too late but let us hope this folly won’t unmask us all. Now that we have his secret, we must guard it as he did. We must embrace nothingness, forgo color, and hide away in these same forgotten deserts caught between dimensions and perceptions of which we are ignorant. This is our new way of life, as it was for the generation before who were also careless to guard it.

Smokey Emery - Soundtracks for Invisibility Vol. III [CS; Holodeck]

For an artist now on his third installment of invisibility-influenced soundtracks, Daniel Hipolito is doing a poor job of hiding himself. But maybe I misrepresent? Perhaps it’s a misunderstanding? Likely, I just missed him. I go to give him a hug but my arms wrap right through his translucent body. I take three friends into the desert (this being the third release in this series and all). We encounter a melodic shrub and I say “farley farley farley farley a-farl” and cast out a bullet into the air. My compadre to my left chants his own magical nonsense and does the same. Our skeptical traveler doesn’t commit to the act, killing our invisible Hipolito. All that is left on his person (hard to search by discovered by the imprint left in the heavy sand) is this message. These were his cloak, the means by which his image was hidden from the sins of man. We came to him for help but alas, we did not commit to the bit. We failed to see the err of our ways before it was too late but let us hope this folly won’t unmask us all. Now that we have his secret, we must guard it as he did. We must embrace nothingness, forgo color, and hide away in these same forgotten deserts caught between dimensions and perceptions of which we are ignorant. This is our new way of life, as it was for the generation before who were also careless to guard it.

Body Lvl/Hobo Cubes - Split [CS; Adhesive Sounds]
Impatience is not a virtue. I struggle with it daily, though I would like to think (PERSONAL INFORMATION COMING UP TURN AWAY~!) that being a father has made me impervious to impatience aside from driving (WHY WON’T YOU TURN!? THE LIGHT IS GREEN!). But where do I turn when I need to practice patience and to earn a justly reward when I succeed in the exercise? How about this lovely split between Body Lvl and Hobo Cubes. Having the ability to focus has long been a crux in enjoying drone but Body Lvl’s A-side sonata took me to a zen state of sheer waiting. It’s nearly 10 minutes in before the shell is cracked and persistence is truly rewarded. It’s nearly 8 minutes before Hobo Cubes’ B-side breaks out. Of course, that’s cheating. If you’re only waiting for something to happen (TURN GODDAMMIT!) then you miss the real beauty: the alone time with your thoughts and its soundtrack. A-ha! If you’re meditating on a good drone just to reach the climax, you miss the journey to said climax. At this point this mantra could turn in a completely different direction so before it goes tantric, let’s remember that patience is key to understanding. But if you’re just practicing it and not living it, you’re going to miss a lot of life’s details by focusing on an end than how you get there.

Now if you’ll excuse me…I’m going to go look into that tangent I nearly fell upon. So if you don’t mind I’ll be taking this tape and the deck and, well see in a few hours. Trudy!?

Body Lvl/Hobo Cubes - Split [CS; Adhesive Sounds]

Impatience is not a virtue. I struggle with it daily, though I would like to think (PERSONAL INFORMATION COMING UP TURN AWAY~!) that being a father has made me impervious to impatience aside from driving (WHY WON’T YOU TURN!? THE LIGHT IS GREEN!). But where do I turn when I need to practice patience and to earn a justly reward when I succeed in the exercise? How about this lovely split between Body Lvl and Hobo Cubes. Having the ability to focus has long been a crux in enjoying drone but Body Lvl’s A-side sonata took me to a zen state of sheer waiting. It’s nearly 10 minutes in before the shell is cracked and persistence is truly rewarded. It’s nearly 8 minutes before Hobo Cubes’ B-side breaks out. Of course, that’s cheating. If you’re only waiting for something to happen (TURN GODDAMMIT!) then you miss the real beauty: the alone time with your thoughts and its soundtrack. A-ha! If you’re meditating on a good drone just to reach the climax, you miss the journey to said climax. At this point this mantra could turn in a completely different direction so before it goes tantric, let’s remember that patience is key to understanding. But if you’re just practicing it and not living it, you’re going to miss a lot of life’s details by focusing on an end than how you get there.

Now if you’ll excuse me…I’m going to go look into that tangent I nearly fell upon. So if you don’t mind I’ll be taking this tape and the deck and, well see in a few hours. Trudy!?

Wckr Spgt - Top Down [CS; Unread]
A treat to have longtime forgotten above ground independent non-punk anti-college rock band Wckr Spgt hit the funny pages. A band with a history as long as Milton Berle’s film reel, Wckr Spgt unveil a quick five song EP to sedate the masses revved up on Robin Thicke and Daft Punk singles (it’s still the Summer of 2013 for me!). It’s the sort of Sentridoh, Ass Ponys, and any relative slow-motion pre-alternatively named movement of slacker rock that isn’t oh-so-lazy as it seems. Highlight is “Damn it, You’re Holding Me Back” which is a half-assed assault thrust upon an unnamed subject with which we’re all too familiar. “Clones” is an Alice Cooper cover that certainly seems more at home in a time capsule now than it did in 1980. Funny how that works….

…anyway, yeah. I forgot where all this was going. I feel like Wckr Spgt’s eh attitude has translated to my own lack of motivation or is that the Generation X DNA bubbling up in me. Apathy fits us all so well, but don’t allow it to make you miss Top Down.

Wckr Spgt - Top Down [CS; Unread]

A treat to have longtime forgotten above ground independent non-punk anti-college rock band Wckr Spgt hit the funny pages. A band with a history as long as Milton Berle’s film reel, Wckr Spgt unveil a quick five song EP to sedate the masses revved up on Robin Thicke and Daft Punk singles (it’s still the Summer of 2013 for me!). It’s the sort of Sentridoh, Ass Ponys, and any relative slow-motion pre-alternatively named movement of slacker rock that isn’t oh-so-lazy as it seems. Highlight is “Damn it, You’re Holding Me Back” which is a half-assed assault thrust upon an unnamed subject with which we’re all too familiar. “Clones” is an Alice Cooper cover that certainly seems more at home in a time capsule now than it did in 1980. Funny how that works….

…anyway, yeah. I forgot where all this was going. I feel like Wckr Spgt’s eh attitude has translated to my own lack of motivation or is that the Generation X DNA bubbling up in me. Apathy fits us all so well, but don’t allow it to make you miss Top Down.

L.A. Lungs - Rrest [LP; Debacle]
L.A. Lungs are no stranger to Debacle, but they still seem quite the stranger to the Northwest’s overarching music scene. As the band continues to grower a bit more dark in their compositions–slightly (m)aligned to a certain Seattle based scene that some wish wasn’t ancient history–the Pacific NW is branching out but even the most disparate sound has some sort of sunshine behind it as a response to all those people who tell you, “Oh it rains a lot out there.” HINT: Valparaiso, IN and Houston, TX get more annual rain than most of the big, supposed rainy cities ‘out there’. Which may explain why Rrest sounds so bitter, as if L.A. Lungs were tired of the constant heckles and bad conversation starters. Granted, naming yourselves L.A. Lungs and hailing from Olympia, you’re bound to get a fair share by default (like this review). This long winded thought now put to screen, it should be noted that as sinister as Rrest Side A may get, it does break down the clouds and produce a bit of sunlight. But just enough to make sure you don’t truly sink into Seasonal Affective Disorder. Just in case you were going to completely snap out of your sad daze and drive down the coast to Northern California, Side B will bring you back to the supposed gloom. HINT: ‘Out there’.

L.A. Lungs - Rrest [LP; Debacle]

L.A. Lungs are no stranger to Debacle, but they still seem quite the stranger to the Northwest’s overarching music scene. As the band continues to grower a bit more dark in their compositions–slightly (m)aligned to a certain Seattle based scene that some wish wasn’t ancient history–the Pacific NW is branching out but even the most disparate sound has some sort of sunshine behind it as a response to all those people who tell you, “Oh it rains a lot out there.” HINT: Valparaiso, IN and Houston, TX get more annual rain than most of the big, supposed rainy cities ‘out there’. Which may explain why Rrest sounds so bitter, as if L.A. Lungs were tired of the constant heckles and bad conversation starters. Granted, naming yourselves L.A. Lungs and hailing from Olympia, you’re bound to get a fair share by default (like this review). This long winded thought now put to screen, it should be noted that as sinister as Rrest Side A may get, it does break down the clouds and produce a bit of sunlight. But just enough to make sure you don’t truly sink into Seasonal Affective Disorder. Just in case you were going to completely snap out of your sad daze and drive down the coast to Northern California, Side B will bring you back to the supposed gloom. HINT: ‘Out there’.

Karl Fousek - Codicil [CS; Adhesive Sounds]
As fans of experimental music, we’re often told we’re snobbish and unable to embrace traditional pop values. Of course it’s a silly argument. I mean, we all grew up on pop and it still informs listening habits in some regard, to ignore it is to cut off your nose to spite your face levels of cliched arrogance. Thankfully Karl Fousek proves those shit sprayers wrong with his latest, Codicil. It’s a warbling synthetic stroke of smartness that showcases that pop elements are a universal filter for all things new. Despite the drunken melodies within, Codicil balances itself miraculously like the girls two sheets deep that compose themselves to nail the Electric Slide at the reception. Perhaps a bit too cliched? Nonetheless, that’s the raw beauty of Fousek’s experimentation. Despite the source material, turns out repeating ideas with the inherent crest and thump of synthesizer creates quite the rhythmic pop.

Karl Fousek - Codicil [CS; Adhesive Sounds]

As fans of experimental music, we’re often told we’re snobbish and unable to embrace traditional pop values. Of course it’s a silly argument. I mean, we all grew up on pop and it still informs listening habits in some regard, to ignore it is to cut off your nose to spite your face levels of cliched arrogance. Thankfully Karl Fousek proves those shit sprayers wrong with his latest, Codicil. It’s a warbling synthetic stroke of smartness that showcases that pop elements are a universal filter for all things new. Despite the drunken melodies within, Codicil balances itself miraculously like the girls two sheets deep that compose themselves to nail the Electric Slide at the reception. Perhaps a bit too cliched? Nonetheless, that’s the raw beauty of Fousek’s experimentation. Despite the source material, turns out repeating ideas with the inherent crest and thump of synthesizer creates quite the rhythmic pop.

Tom Carter - Numinal Entry [Halatern, etc.; 2014]
The lasting myth of Tom Carter is mammoth, even as forces opposed to its existence work to dwarf the impact. Yet a history as rich and a career as long as Carter’s trumps any chance of that happening; his is a canon too devastatingly rare to be ignored.

Numinal Entry is just the latest addition, hot off the heels of the impressively vast ruminations of Four Infernal Rivers with NNCK member Pat Murano. It only seems fitting his newest solo foray into the same netherworld would involve NNCK (Numinal Entry was released via Keith Connolly’s Halatern, etc. label).

I hesitate to call Numinal Entry a continuation of the themes present on Four Infernal Rivers but the divinity of both is hard to ignore. FIR is a fierce recitation of what Carter witnessed from his not-so distant sick bed; the belly of Hades splayed before him. Numinal Entry is far more serene, the passing from the red into the white. Side A’s “In Us” is bumpy and frayed, the nerves of a man who has seen what selling one’s soul to the underground affords. It’s a noisy bit of peace, the last grasp of a bitter old god unsuccessful in catching his prey. “Numinous,” swallows the B-side, Carter surrendering to the graceful glow that awaited his anxious journey to find it a sensual retreat. The worry is gone and a return to the real world, where we all can bask in the wine and roses of our lives no matter how poor, fractured, or flea-bitten.

Whether Carter’s crisis of health has truly informed his recent output is of little concern, though it does help to shade the titles and expositions of guitar-as-painting. What is known is that Carter has unlimited reserves on tap, capturing originality and disseminating for a largely unappreciative world. But like any true great artist, his will be a collection much appreciated when each of us expires and generations to come bare witness to his journey.

Tom Carter - Numinal Entry [Halatern, etc.; 2014]

The lasting myth of Tom Carter is mammoth, even as forces opposed to its existence work to dwarf the impact. Yet a history as rich and a career as long as Carter’s trumps any chance of that happening; his is a canon too devastatingly rare to be ignored.

Numinal Entry is just the latest addition, hot off the heels of the impressively vast ruminations of Four Infernal Rivers with NNCK member Pat Murano. It only seems fitting his newest solo foray into the same netherworld would involve NNCK (Numinal Entry was released via Keith Connolly’s Halatern, etc. label).

I hesitate to call Numinal Entry a continuation of the themes present on Four Infernal Rivers but the divinity of both is hard to ignore. FIR is a fierce recitation of what Carter witnessed from his not-so distant sick bed; the belly of Hades splayed before him. Numinal Entry is far more serene, the passing from the red into the white. Side A’s “In Us” is bumpy and frayed, the nerves of a man who has seen what selling one’s soul to the underground affords. It’s a noisy bit of peace, the last grasp of a bitter old god unsuccessful in catching his prey. “Numinous,” swallows the B-side, Carter surrendering to the graceful glow that awaited his anxious journey to find it a sensual retreat. The worry is gone and a return to the real world, where we all can bask in the wine and roses of our lives no matter how poor, fractured, or flea-bitten.

Whether Carter’s crisis of health has truly informed his recent output is of little concern, though it does help to shade the titles and expositions of guitar-as-painting. What is known is that Carter has unlimited reserves on tap, capturing originality and disseminating for a largely unappreciative world. But like any true great artist, his will be a collection much appreciated when each of us expires and generations to come bare witness to his journey.

Fat Creeps - Must Be Nice [LP/CS; Sophomore Lounge/Gnar Tapes]
Somewhere along the line, rock and roll was thrown in the trash. Maybe it was just a crowd too tired to fight for forward momentum after its bastardization in the late ’90s or the fragmentation of the consumer base was not worth chasing. Neither are my concern, because be damned those who would rather glue their radio dials and iPod play buttons down on a playlist of extinct sounds. We all have our retro listening habits but those who can’t lend an ear to what’s happening now, I have no time for you. Neither do Fat Creeps by the sound of it. The Boston trio may remind historians how awesome the Boston music scene was 20-30 years ago but rather than retreating to old Dinosaur and Throwing Muses cassettes, Fat Creeps forge forward with a splendid blend of that old patriotic cause of fighting fossilized rock and roll with new energies and ideas. Must Be Nice carries a hint of the familiar (the use of hook-laden, radio friendly melodies) but there’s a roughness around the edges that isn’t going to go away with sleeker production and years of road polish. Rather, Must Be Nice works best under the weariness of Gracie and Mariam; an eye cast to the past and how it all went wrong. Poppy songs carry a burden throughout, cautious of what will happen to them should the mandibles of classic rock come crashing through to destroy the will and ravage the flesh of the newly born. Fat Creeps will not be devoured by its parentage even as it heeds its warnings. But sometimes the kids have to steal the car keys and make a run for it. Those kids trapped in the amber of Amherst 30 years ago understand.

Fat Creeps - Must Be Nice [LP/CS; Sophomore Lounge/Gnar Tapes]

Somewhere along the line, rock and roll was thrown in the trash. Maybe it was just a crowd too tired to fight for forward momentum after its bastardization in the late ’90s or the fragmentation of the consumer base was not worth chasing. Neither are my concern, because be damned those who would rather glue their radio dials and iPod play buttons down on a playlist of extinct sounds. We all have our retro listening habits but those who can’t lend an ear to what’s happening now, I have no time for you. Neither do Fat Creeps by the sound of it. The Boston trio may remind historians how awesome the Boston music scene was 20-30 years ago but rather than retreating to old Dinosaur and Throwing Muses cassettes, Fat Creeps forge forward with a splendid blend of that old patriotic cause of fighting fossilized rock and roll with new energies and ideas. Must Be Nice carries a hint of the familiar (the use of hook-laden, radio friendly melodies) but there’s a roughness around the edges that isn’t going to go away with sleeker production and years of road polish. Rather, Must Be Nice works best under the weariness of Gracie and Mariam; an eye cast to the past and how it all went wrong. Poppy songs carry a burden throughout, cautious of what will happen to them should the mandibles of classic rock come crashing through to destroy the will and ravage the flesh of the newly born. Fat Creeps will not be devoured by its parentage even as it heeds its warnings. But sometimes the kids have to steal the car keys and make a run for it. Those kids trapped in the amber of Amherst 30 years ago understand.

Sacred Product - Wastex [2x7-inch; Quemada]
Another Melbourne hello from the happy doom of Lynton Denovan. A regular of ol’ Quemada with day job band Satanic Rockers, it’s here as Sacred Product that Lynton lives up to the devilish billing. More beholden to the noisy neighbors across the Tasman Sea, Sacred Product is a splendid blend of punk nuance and art school fuckery. The face first vocal tracks create an archaic feel reminiscent of the best Gary Wilson non-starters, but it’s instrumental free-for-all “Sonic Country” that grabs first. But as you switch back and forth, you’ll come to love the snotty pop of “Tram and Train” that punctuates the varied din of this double 7-inch. Lynton is already littering the world with Sacred Product but this may be the best small slice yet.

Sacred Product - Wastex [2x7-inch; Quemada]

Another Melbourne hello from the happy doom of Lynton Denovan. A regular of ol’ Quemada with day job band Satanic Rockers, it’s here as Sacred Product that Lynton lives up to the devilish billing. More beholden to the noisy neighbors across the Tasman Sea, Sacred Product is a splendid blend of punk nuance and art school fuckery. The face first vocal tracks create an archaic feel reminiscent of the best Gary Wilson non-starters, but it’s instrumental free-for-all “Sonic Country” that grabs first. But as you switch back and forth, you’ll come to love the snotty pop of “Tram and Train” that punctuates the varied din of this double 7-inch. Lynton is already littering the world with Sacred Product but this may be the best small slice yet.

Dick Diver - New Name Blues [7-inch; Fruits & Flowers]
I wish I could say I’ve been to Melbourne, gripping all these records on my travels like a master of old. But globalization maintains its stranglehold. So I sit on my couch and just wait for awesome labels near and far to import the good shit. And this is seriously good, courtesy of Dick Diver. Though I felt cheated noticing the inclusion of a cover on a two-song 7-inch, my dark cloud quickly lifted upon listening to “Lonely Life” and remembering that some of the world’s best songs are covers. The beautiful pop explosion of the title track almost brought back the anger but then I listened to the whole 7-inch for a few hours straight and couldn’t do anything other than smile. Where is our Dick Diver, I might say if this were a closed off country fearsome of immigration and anything remotely different. But then I think about the British Invasion, and that other British Invasion, and then the Britpop invasion, and I hope that maybe we’re in the throes of an Australian invasion. I certainly wouldn’t mind more Parramatta Eels matches on my television. Maybe the NFL would adopt some AFL practices (hehe, behinds!). And we will sit in the summer heat, baking away to the loving rotations of this Dick Diver 7-inch because we have all been besieged.

Dick Diver - New Name Blues [7-inch; Fruits & Flowers]

I wish I could say I’ve been to Melbourne, gripping all these records on my travels like a master of old. But globalization maintains its stranglehold. So I sit on my couch and just wait for awesome labels near and far to import the good shit. And this is seriously good, courtesy of Dick Diver. Though I felt cheated noticing the inclusion of a cover on a two-song 7-inch, my dark cloud quickly lifted upon listening to “Lonely Life” and remembering that some of the world’s best songs are covers. The beautiful pop explosion of the title track almost brought back the anger but then I listened to the whole 7-inch for a few hours straight and couldn’t do anything other than smile. Where is our Dick Diver, I might say if this were a closed off country fearsome of immigration and anything remotely different. But then I think about the British Invasion, and that other British Invasion, and then the Britpop invasion, and I hope that maybe we’re in the throes of an Australian invasion. I certainly wouldn’t mind more Parramatta Eels matches on my television. Maybe the NFL would adopt some AFL practices (hehe, behinds!). And we will sit in the summer heat, baking away to the loving rotations of this Dick Diver 7-inch because we have all been besieged.

Eye - Winterwork [LP; Nyali]
Pairing nicely with my first reading of Erewhon Calling, New Zealand’s Eye are a fantastic microcosm of a never ending well of inspiration from an island nation barely 4 million strong. Even as the socioeconomic forces threaten to envelope most of us in a wet blanket of commonality, there are those in New Zealand’s noisiest recesses–as there are tribal communities and castaways deep within unexplored continental jungles and frozen tundras–that have eschewed our new formality to continue exploring the outlier and asinine. Winterwork is such an LP and thank the no wave deconstructionists of yore for such a blessed gem. Though hesitant to apply the same fundamentals and acting principles behind Eye that were at work for no wavers of a certain era, the idea that music is a continuing waterfall that needs a few barrel jumpers in its flow to cause a rethink is evident in the retro-evolution at work within the trio’s frosty distortion. The tumult of our swollen society, turns out, is heard by those in isolation as coloring. No matter how cut off by appearances, something in the magnetic field carries those vibrations. Winterwork is such an interpretation; the music of the last stop between civilization and antarctic quarantine. So now that we know the source of their power, now we must find how its harnessed. Eye is giving no discernible clues, true guardians of a noise knowledge best left to those unfazed by our power suit culture overlap. With only 250 copies in existence, however, you can bet someone will lust to turn this rarity into a commodity.

Eye - Winterwork [LP; Nyali]

Pairing nicely with my first reading of Erewhon Calling, New Zealand’s Eye are a fantastic microcosm of a never ending well of inspiration from an island nation barely 4 million strong. Even as the socioeconomic forces threaten to envelope most of us in a wet blanket of commonality, there are those in New Zealand’s noisiest recesses–as there are tribal communities and castaways deep within unexplored continental jungles and frozen tundras–that have eschewed our new formality to continue exploring the outlier and asinine. Winterwork is such an LP and thank the no wave deconstructionists of yore for such a blessed gem. Though hesitant to apply the same fundamentals and acting principles behind Eye that were at work for no wavers of a certain era, the idea that music is a continuing waterfall that needs a few barrel jumpers in its flow to cause a rethink is evident in the retro-evolution at work within the trio’s frosty distortion. The tumult of our swollen society, turns out, is heard by those in isolation as coloring. No matter how cut off by appearances, something in the magnetic field carries those vibrations. Winterwork is such an interpretation; the music of the last stop between civilization and antarctic quarantine. So now that we know the source of their power, now we must find how its harnessed. Eye is giving no discernible clues, true guardians of a noise knowledge best left to those unfazed by our power suit culture overlap. With only 250 copies in existence, however, you can bet someone will lust to turn this rarity into a commodity.

King Tears Bat Trip - King Tears Bat Trip [LP; Debacle]
With no less than four percussionists, a tenor sax and the lone guitarist being outfit binder Luke Bergman, the intimidation factor of King Tears Bat Trip’s debut self-titled is immediate. The ability to actual swallow and digest two long compositions (one per side) on a psychedelic picture disc which hypnotizes and scares with each rotation…it’s a large order for even the most ironed stomach avant noise gourmand. Yet the rhythm of all these drums is a different animal from the throwaway spice of ‘tribal’. Not to say that us whiteys won’t immediately claim such an identifier for lack of a better term, but when you let the drums hit your intestines (in the midst of “Elevenogram”) you’ll find it like a fine bourbon that has a sting in the throat but a welcomed warmth as it spreads throughout the body. Soon your stomach becomes your libido, the drums as sexual as they are a soothing drone. Lip service also is deserving to Neil Welch’s tenor saxophone, which is unafraid to be the main course as necessitated but works best when it is often paired with the whole of the album’s breakneck rhythms. What KTBT’s self-titled amounts to is immensely fancy plating with a down home, comfort food taste. Behind all the fancy pageantry and ferocious distortion are recognizable melodies that will fill your belly and nourish the soul.

King Tears Bat Trip - King Tears Bat Trip [LP; Debacle]

With no less than four percussionists, a tenor sax and the lone guitarist being outfit binder Luke Bergman, the intimidation factor of King Tears Bat Trip’s debut self-titled is immediate. The ability to actual swallow and digest two long compositions (one per side) on a psychedelic picture disc which hypnotizes and scares with each rotation…it’s a large order for even the most ironed stomach avant noise gourmand. Yet the rhythm of all these drums is a different animal from the throwaway spice of ‘tribal’. Not to say that us whiteys won’t immediately claim such an identifier for lack of a better term, but when you let the drums hit your intestines (in the midst of “Elevenogram”) you’ll find it like a fine bourbon that has a sting in the throat but a welcomed warmth as it spreads throughout the body. Soon your stomach becomes your libido, the drums as sexual as they are a soothing drone. Lip service also is deserving to Neil Welch’s tenor saxophone, which is unafraid to be the main course as necessitated but works best when it is often paired with the whole of the album’s breakneck rhythms. What KTBT’s self-titled amounts to is immensely fancy plating with a down home, comfort food taste. Behind all the fancy pageantry and ferocious distortion are recognizable melodies that will fill your belly and nourish the soul.

Honey Radar - Scorpions Bought Me Breakfast [5-inch; Third Uncle]
First: make sure your record player can accommodate odd inches. Second: make sure your record player can accommodate odd speeds. Third: throw logic aside and just make it work.

That’s the best way to get to the one minute of creamy centered goodness offered from the latest art piece on lathe offered up by Third Uncle. The Indiana label that plays with strange artifacts in limited quantities once more thrusts a weird Honey Radar masterpiece onto us and though it will take us 10 minutes to play a one minute song, it’s well worth it. “Scorpions Bought Me Breakfast” is another preview before a promised full length from Honey Radar but in the mean time we will just bask in the simple pleasures of its quirky melody and quick run time. I’d tell you run just as quickly to pick this up but lucky you, all copies have vanished which means the 10 minutes of set-up is reduced to turning on your internet enabled electronic device and listening it to right here after you read this review.

…And finished.

Honey Radar - Scorpions Bought Me Breakfast [5-inch; Third Uncle]

First: make sure your record player can accommodate odd inches. Second: make sure your record player can accommodate odd speeds. Third: throw logic aside and just make it work.

That’s the best way to get to the one minute of creamy centered goodness offered from the latest art piece on lathe offered up by Third Uncle. The Indiana label that plays with strange artifacts in limited quantities once more thrusts a weird Honey Radar masterpiece onto us and though it will take us 10 minutes to play a one minute song, it’s well worth it. “Scorpions Bought Me Breakfast” is another preview before a promised full length from Honey Radar but in the mean time we will just bask in the simple pleasures of its quirky melody and quick run time. I’d tell you run just as quickly to pick this up but lucky you, all copies have vanished which means the 10 minutes of set-up is reduced to turning on your internet enabled electronic device and listening it to right here after you read this review.

…And finished.

Connections - Into Sixes [Anyway; 2014]
Time to answer an age old question: is too much of something bad for you? What if that too much is a band churning out good albums?

Ohioans Connections order up album #3 with Into Sixes and though the energy of the previous two is still well intact, one wonders just HOW good…wait, this is Agitated Atmosphere so this can’t be a negative review.

And it’s not. But much like oft-referenced Guided by Voices in regards to Connections, Into Sixes does suffer from overexposure (even if the band continues to be slightly unexposed). But what Into Sixes does do is start the slight reinvention of Connections. When thinking of modern bands cranking out content in a similar mold (The Men, Dr. Dog, Ryan Adams, and yes GBV), they fail to offer up a glimpse of what lies ahead. In the case of Connections, there’s plenty borrowed from Private Airplane and Body Language that is still strong (catchy hooks, upbeat tempos, throwback guitar solos) as the band grows tighter with each release.
Yet their proficiency doesn’t discourage deviant behaviors. “Beat the Sky” is a meatier rock anthem, ditching some of the edgier garage licks for a clearer vision of growth. “Calm Down” borrows from the Segall/Vile playbook without the California weariness. “Angie” is the best indication of Connections ability to combine many rock influences into a cohesive and singular idea of what’s to come.

So what’s with the wealth of releases? Is it too much of a good thing? Likely, but the truth is Connections are running through their initial incarnation before they morph into something bigger and better. All these solid albums out of the gate aren’t indicative of fetishism for a particular sound but merely a means to expand it from where history last left it. When it’s all said and done (and that could sadly be tomorrow for all we know), these first two years of Connections releases may well be seen as not enough of the good but considering the rising tide of the band that’s unlikely. So feast like a snake for now.

Connections - Into Sixes [Anyway; 2014]

Time to answer an age old question: is too much of something bad for you? What if that too much is a band churning out good albums?

Ohioans Connections order up album #3 with Into Sixes and though the energy of the previous two is still well intact, one wonders just HOW good…wait, this is Agitated Atmosphere so this can’t be a negative review.

And it’s not. But much like oft-referenced Guided by Voices in regards to Connections, Into Sixes does suffer from overexposure (even if the band continues to be slightly unexposed). But what Into Sixes does do is start the slight reinvention of Connections. When thinking of modern bands cranking out content in a similar mold (The Men, Dr. Dog, Ryan Adams, and yes GBV), they fail to offer up a glimpse of what lies ahead. In the case of Connections, there’s plenty borrowed from Private Airplane and Body Language that is still strong (catchy hooks, upbeat tempos, throwback guitar solos) as the band grows tighter with each release.

Yet their proficiency doesn’t discourage deviant behaviors. “Beat the Sky” is a meatier rock anthem, ditching some of the edgier garage licks for a clearer vision of growth. “Calm Down” borrows from the Segall/Vile playbook without the California weariness. “Angie” is the best indication of Connections ability to combine many rock influences into a cohesive and singular idea of what’s to come.

So what’s with the wealth of releases? Is it too much of a good thing? Likely, but the truth is Connections are running through their initial incarnation before they morph into something bigger and better. All these solid albums out of the gate aren’t indicative of fetishism for a particular sound but merely a means to expand it from where history last left it. When it’s all said and done (and that could sadly be tomorrow for all we know), these first two years of Connections releases may well be seen as not enough of the good but considering the rising tide of the band that’s unlikely. So feast like a snake for now.

Derek Monypeny - How Can Be [CS; Ambivalent Soap]
I am devoted to Ambivalent Soap as I once was to Stunned. I never knew I had a hole to fill but Ambivalent Soap has done so. Why, I ask rhetorically to whoever may read this? When you listen to the latest Derek Monypeny that has sneaked out, you’ll know. A contemplative but never dull guitar exposition that is as much Stephen Molyneux as it is Sir Richard Bishop. Guitar may be the primary instrument, but Monypeny does not shy from incorporating its secondary noises along with percussion and field recordings. Though “Peace Be Upon You” sticks out as a departure from the album’s first four ragas, it is nonetheless instrumental in cementing the Eastern feel of How Can Be. But don’t mistake that has Beatles Shankar Krishna bullshit hype. Meditative, yes, stoned musings on a feeling rather than being, never. It’s fun to listen to Monypeny reconcile his inspirations into a cohesive statement, which you get the feeling has yet to come. As a first foot forward on the Spanish Steps, this is as firm a planting as one could expect.

Derek Monypeny - How Can Be [CS; Ambivalent Soap]

I am devoted to Ambivalent Soap as I once was to Stunned. I never knew I had a hole to fill but Ambivalent Soap has done so. Why, I ask rhetorically to whoever may read this? When you listen to the latest Derek Monypeny that has sneaked out, you’ll know. A contemplative but never dull guitar exposition that is as much Stephen Molyneux as it is Sir Richard Bishop. Guitar may be the primary instrument, but Monypeny does not shy from incorporating its secondary noises along with percussion and field recordings. Though “Peace Be Upon You” sticks out as a departure from the album’s first four ragas, it is nonetheless instrumental in cementing the Eastern feel of How Can Be. But don’t mistake that has Beatles Shankar Krishna bullshit hype. Meditative, yes, stoned musings on a feeling rather than being, never. It’s fun to listen to Monypeny reconcile his inspirations into a cohesive statement, which you get the feeling has yet to come. As a first foot forward on the Spanish Steps, this is as firm a planting as one could expect.

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - Songs of Forgiveness [CS; BARO]
There is a fog around the edges. It’s soft, dull. It stays in place no matter how fast I run. All it does it accentuate the shinning sun as it pours down beyond my peripheral. It enlarges my love as I race toward them. This is our finale; a moment caught in time that we’ve been building up to. The producers thought it was expected but the test audiences loved it. So here I am, perpetually after an imaginary emotion. I dodge the credits as best as I can, but I dare not fight this triumph of a soundtrack. It caresses me longer than my co-star. It is the reason I have grown to love this white circled vision. A moment caught in time that will play out infinitely. My legs are tired. My heart has grown darker. My love seems to be getting further away. The white is beginning to discolor. The edges are beginning to grow frayed. But this endearing music is eternally uplifting. I no longer care for my other across the screen. I would jump out of this frame if I could. Perhaps my name will fall from the cascade and put an end to my repeated run. There’s never any resolution, just the faint embrace of a soundtrack that I can only enjoy in this time of grief. I am Sisyphus but at least I have a faint spark of hope. I forgive the damned director who cast me here for eternity. It is not his fault that they won’t stop watching. Their prying eyes on a romance they never chase themselves. I forgive them as well. A moment caught in time that will be our real end.

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - Songs of Forgiveness [CS; BARO]

There is a fog around the edges. It’s soft, dull. It stays in place no matter how fast I run. All it does it accentuate the shinning sun as it pours down beyond my peripheral. It enlarges my love as I race toward them. This is our finale; a moment caught in time that we’ve been building up to. The producers thought it was expected but the test audiences loved it. So here I am, perpetually after an imaginary emotion. I dodge the credits as best as I can, but I dare not fight this triumph of a soundtrack. It caresses me longer than my co-star. It is the reason I have grown to love this white circled vision. A moment caught in time that will play out infinitely. My legs are tired. My heart has grown darker. My love seems to be getting further away. The white is beginning to discolor. The edges are beginning to grow frayed. But this endearing music is eternally uplifting. I no longer care for my other across the screen. I would jump out of this frame if I could. Perhaps my name will fall from the cascade and put an end to my repeated run. There’s never any resolution, just the faint embrace of a soundtrack that I can only enjoy in this time of grief. I am Sisyphus but at least I have a faint spark of hope. I forgive the damned director who cast me here for eternity. It is not his fault that they won’t stop watching. Their prying eyes on a romance they never chase themselves. I forgive them as well. A moment caught in time that will be our real end.

Smokey Emery - Soundtracks for Invisibility Vol. III [CS; Holodeck]
For an artist now on his third installment of invisibility-influenced soundtracks, Daniel Hipolito is doing a poor job of hiding himself. But maybe I misrepresent? Perhaps it’s a misunderstanding? Likely, I just missed him. I go to give him a hug but my arms wrap right through his translucent body. I take three friends into the desert (this being the third release in this series and all). We encounter a melodic shrub and I say “farley farley farley farley a-farl” and cast out a bullet into the air. My compadre to my left chants his own magical nonsense and does the same. Our skeptical traveler doesn’t commit to the act, killing our invisible Hipolito. All that is left on his person (hard to search by discovered by the imprint left in the heavy sand) is this message. These were his cloak, the means by which his image was hidden from the sins of man. We came to him for help but alas, we did not commit to the bit. We failed to see the err of our ways before it was too late but let us hope this folly won’t unmask us all. Now that we have his secret, we must guard it as he did. We must embrace nothingness, forgo color, and hide away in these same forgotten deserts caught between dimensions and perceptions of which we are ignorant. This is our new way of life, as it was for the generation before who were also careless to guard it.

Smokey Emery - Soundtracks for Invisibility Vol. III [CS; Holodeck]

For an artist now on his third installment of invisibility-influenced soundtracks, Daniel Hipolito is doing a poor job of hiding himself. But maybe I misrepresent? Perhaps it’s a misunderstanding? Likely, I just missed him. I go to give him a hug but my arms wrap right through his translucent body. I take three friends into the desert (this being the third release in this series and all). We encounter a melodic shrub and I say “farley farley farley farley a-farl” and cast out a bullet into the air. My compadre to my left chants his own magical nonsense and does the same. Our skeptical traveler doesn’t commit to the act, killing our invisible Hipolito. All that is left on his person (hard to search by discovered by the imprint left in the heavy sand) is this message. These were his cloak, the means by which his image was hidden from the sins of man. We came to him for help but alas, we did not commit to the bit. We failed to see the err of our ways before it was too late but let us hope this folly won’t unmask us all. Now that we have his secret, we must guard it as he did. We must embrace nothingness, forgo color, and hide away in these same forgotten deserts caught between dimensions and perceptions of which we are ignorant. This is our new way of life, as it was for the generation before who were also careless to guard it.

Body Lvl/Hobo Cubes - Split [CS; Adhesive Sounds]
Impatience is not a virtue. I struggle with it daily, though I would like to think (PERSONAL INFORMATION COMING UP TURN AWAY~!) that being a father has made me impervious to impatience aside from driving (WHY WON’T YOU TURN!? THE LIGHT IS GREEN!). But where do I turn when I need to practice patience and to earn a justly reward when I succeed in the exercise? How about this lovely split between Body Lvl and Hobo Cubes. Having the ability to focus has long been a crux in enjoying drone but Body Lvl’s A-side sonata took me to a zen state of sheer waiting. It’s nearly 10 minutes in before the shell is cracked and persistence is truly rewarded. It’s nearly 8 minutes before Hobo Cubes’ B-side breaks out. Of course, that’s cheating. If you’re only waiting for something to happen (TURN GODDAMMIT!) then you miss the real beauty: the alone time with your thoughts and its soundtrack. A-ha! If you’re meditating on a good drone just to reach the climax, you miss the journey to said climax. At this point this mantra could turn in a completely different direction so before it goes tantric, let’s remember that patience is key to understanding. But if you’re just practicing it and not living it, you’re going to miss a lot of life’s details by focusing on an end than how you get there.

Now if you’ll excuse me…I’m going to go look into that tangent I nearly fell upon. So if you don’t mind I’ll be taking this tape and the deck and, well see in a few hours. Trudy!?

Body Lvl/Hobo Cubes - Split [CS; Adhesive Sounds]

Impatience is not a virtue. I struggle with it daily, though I would like to think (PERSONAL INFORMATION COMING UP TURN AWAY~!) that being a father has made me impervious to impatience aside from driving (WHY WON’T YOU TURN!? THE LIGHT IS GREEN!). But where do I turn when I need to practice patience and to earn a justly reward when I succeed in the exercise? How about this lovely split between Body Lvl and Hobo Cubes. Having the ability to focus has long been a crux in enjoying drone but Body Lvl’s A-side sonata took me to a zen state of sheer waiting. It’s nearly 10 minutes in before the shell is cracked and persistence is truly rewarded. It’s nearly 8 minutes before Hobo Cubes’ B-side breaks out. Of course, that’s cheating. If you’re only waiting for something to happen (TURN GODDAMMIT!) then you miss the real beauty: the alone time with your thoughts and its soundtrack. A-ha! If you’re meditating on a good drone just to reach the climax, you miss the journey to said climax. At this point this mantra could turn in a completely different direction so before it goes tantric, let’s remember that patience is key to understanding. But if you’re just practicing it and not living it, you’re going to miss a lot of life’s details by focusing on an end than how you get there.

Now if you’ll excuse me…I’m going to go look into that tangent I nearly fell upon. So if you don’t mind I’ll be taking this tape and the deck and, well see in a few hours. Trudy!?

Wckr Spgt - Top Down [CS; Unread]
A treat to have longtime forgotten above ground independent non-punk anti-college rock band Wckr Spgt hit the funny pages. A band with a history as long as Milton Berle’s film reel, Wckr Spgt unveil a quick five song EP to sedate the masses revved up on Robin Thicke and Daft Punk singles (it’s still the Summer of 2013 for me!). It’s the sort of Sentridoh, Ass Ponys, and any relative slow-motion pre-alternatively named movement of slacker rock that isn’t oh-so-lazy as it seems. Highlight is “Damn it, You’re Holding Me Back” which is a half-assed assault thrust upon an unnamed subject with which we’re all too familiar. “Clones” is an Alice Cooper cover that certainly seems more at home in a time capsule now than it did in 1980. Funny how that works….

…anyway, yeah. I forgot where all this was going. I feel like Wckr Spgt’s eh attitude has translated to my own lack of motivation or is that the Generation X DNA bubbling up in me. Apathy fits us all so well, but don’t allow it to make you miss Top Down.

Wckr Spgt - Top Down [CS; Unread]

A treat to have longtime forgotten above ground independent non-punk anti-college rock band Wckr Spgt hit the funny pages. A band with a history as long as Milton Berle’s film reel, Wckr Spgt unveil a quick five song EP to sedate the masses revved up on Robin Thicke and Daft Punk singles (it’s still the Summer of 2013 for me!). It’s the sort of Sentridoh, Ass Ponys, and any relative slow-motion pre-alternatively named movement of slacker rock that isn’t oh-so-lazy as it seems. Highlight is “Damn it, You’re Holding Me Back” which is a half-assed assault thrust upon an unnamed subject with which we’re all too familiar. “Clones” is an Alice Cooper cover that certainly seems more at home in a time capsule now than it did in 1980. Funny how that works….

…anyway, yeah. I forgot where all this was going. I feel like Wckr Spgt’s eh attitude has translated to my own lack of motivation or is that the Generation X DNA bubbling up in me. Apathy fits us all so well, but don’t allow it to make you miss Top Down.

L.A. Lungs - Rrest [LP; Debacle]
L.A. Lungs are no stranger to Debacle, but they still seem quite the stranger to the Northwest’s overarching music scene. As the band continues to grower a bit more dark in their compositions–slightly (m)aligned to a certain Seattle based scene that some wish wasn’t ancient history–the Pacific NW is branching out but even the most disparate sound has some sort of sunshine behind it as a response to all those people who tell you, “Oh it rains a lot out there.” HINT: Valparaiso, IN and Houston, TX get more annual rain than most of the big, supposed rainy cities ‘out there’. Which may explain why Rrest sounds so bitter, as if L.A. Lungs were tired of the constant heckles and bad conversation starters. Granted, naming yourselves L.A. Lungs and hailing from Olympia, you’re bound to get a fair share by default (like this review). This long winded thought now put to screen, it should be noted that as sinister as Rrest Side A may get, it does break down the clouds and produce a bit of sunlight. But just enough to make sure you don’t truly sink into Seasonal Affective Disorder. Just in case you were going to completely snap out of your sad daze and drive down the coast to Northern California, Side B will bring you back to the supposed gloom. HINT: ‘Out there’.

L.A. Lungs - Rrest [LP; Debacle]

L.A. Lungs are no stranger to Debacle, but they still seem quite the stranger to the Northwest’s overarching music scene. As the band continues to grower a bit more dark in their compositions–slightly (m)aligned to a certain Seattle based scene that some wish wasn’t ancient history–the Pacific NW is branching out but even the most disparate sound has some sort of sunshine behind it as a response to all those people who tell you, “Oh it rains a lot out there.” HINT: Valparaiso, IN and Houston, TX get more annual rain than most of the big, supposed rainy cities ‘out there’. Which may explain why Rrest sounds so bitter, as if L.A. Lungs were tired of the constant heckles and bad conversation starters. Granted, naming yourselves L.A. Lungs and hailing from Olympia, you’re bound to get a fair share by default (like this review). This long winded thought now put to screen, it should be noted that as sinister as Rrest Side A may get, it does break down the clouds and produce a bit of sunlight. But just enough to make sure you don’t truly sink into Seasonal Affective Disorder. Just in case you were going to completely snap out of your sad daze and drive down the coast to Northern California, Side B will bring you back to the supposed gloom. HINT: ‘Out there’.

Karl Fousek - Codicil [CS; Adhesive Sounds]
As fans of experimental music, we’re often told we’re snobbish and unable to embrace traditional pop values. Of course it’s a silly argument. I mean, we all grew up on pop and it still informs listening habits in some regard, to ignore it is to cut off your nose to spite your face levels of cliched arrogance. Thankfully Karl Fousek proves those shit sprayers wrong with his latest, Codicil. It’s a warbling synthetic stroke of smartness that showcases that pop elements are a universal filter for all things new. Despite the drunken melodies within, Codicil balances itself miraculously like the girls two sheets deep that compose themselves to nail the Electric Slide at the reception. Perhaps a bit too cliched? Nonetheless, that’s the raw beauty of Fousek’s experimentation. Despite the source material, turns out repeating ideas with the inherent crest and thump of synthesizer creates quite the rhythmic pop.

Karl Fousek - Codicil [CS; Adhesive Sounds]

As fans of experimental music, we’re often told we’re snobbish and unable to embrace traditional pop values. Of course it’s a silly argument. I mean, we all grew up on pop and it still informs listening habits in some regard, to ignore it is to cut off your nose to spite your face levels of cliched arrogance. Thankfully Karl Fousek proves those shit sprayers wrong with his latest, Codicil. It’s a warbling synthetic stroke of smartness that showcases that pop elements are a universal filter for all things new. Despite the drunken melodies within, Codicil balances itself miraculously like the girls two sheets deep that compose themselves to nail the Electric Slide at the reception. Perhaps a bit too cliched? Nonetheless, that’s the raw beauty of Fousek’s experimentation. Despite the source material, turns out repeating ideas with the inherent crest and thump of synthesizer creates quite the rhythmic pop.

Tom Carter - Numinal Entry [Halatern, etc.; 2014]
The lasting myth of Tom Carter is mammoth, even as forces opposed to its existence work to dwarf the impact. Yet a history as rich and a career as long as Carter’s trumps any chance of that happening; his is a canon too devastatingly rare to be ignored.

Numinal Entry is just the latest addition, hot off the heels of the impressively vast ruminations of Four Infernal Rivers with NNCK member Pat Murano. It only seems fitting his newest solo foray into the same netherworld would involve NNCK (Numinal Entry was released via Keith Connolly’s Halatern, etc. label).

I hesitate to call Numinal Entry a continuation of the themes present on Four Infernal Rivers but the divinity of both is hard to ignore. FIR is a fierce recitation of what Carter witnessed from his not-so distant sick bed; the belly of Hades splayed before him. Numinal Entry is far more serene, the passing from the red into the white. Side A’s “In Us” is bumpy and frayed, the nerves of a man who has seen what selling one’s soul to the underground affords. It’s a noisy bit of peace, the last grasp of a bitter old god unsuccessful in catching his prey. “Numinous,” swallows the B-side, Carter surrendering to the graceful glow that awaited his anxious journey to find it a sensual retreat. The worry is gone and a return to the real world, where we all can bask in the wine and roses of our lives no matter how poor, fractured, or flea-bitten.

Whether Carter’s crisis of health has truly informed his recent output is of little concern, though it does help to shade the titles and expositions of guitar-as-painting. What is known is that Carter has unlimited reserves on tap, capturing originality and disseminating for a largely unappreciative world. But like any true great artist, his will be a collection much appreciated when each of us expires and generations to come bare witness to his journey.

Tom Carter - Numinal Entry [Halatern, etc.; 2014]

The lasting myth of Tom Carter is mammoth, even as forces opposed to its existence work to dwarf the impact. Yet a history as rich and a career as long as Carter’s trumps any chance of that happening; his is a canon too devastatingly rare to be ignored.

Numinal Entry is just the latest addition, hot off the heels of the impressively vast ruminations of Four Infernal Rivers with NNCK member Pat Murano. It only seems fitting his newest solo foray into the same netherworld would involve NNCK (Numinal Entry was released via Keith Connolly’s Halatern, etc. label).

I hesitate to call Numinal Entry a continuation of the themes present on Four Infernal Rivers but the divinity of both is hard to ignore. FIR is a fierce recitation of what Carter witnessed from his not-so distant sick bed; the belly of Hades splayed before him. Numinal Entry is far more serene, the passing from the red into the white. Side A’s “In Us” is bumpy and frayed, the nerves of a man who has seen what selling one’s soul to the underground affords. It’s a noisy bit of peace, the last grasp of a bitter old god unsuccessful in catching his prey. “Numinous,” swallows the B-side, Carter surrendering to the graceful glow that awaited his anxious journey to find it a sensual retreat. The worry is gone and a return to the real world, where we all can bask in the wine and roses of our lives no matter how poor, fractured, or flea-bitten.

Whether Carter’s crisis of health has truly informed his recent output is of little concern, though it does help to shade the titles and expositions of guitar-as-painting. What is known is that Carter has unlimited reserves on tap, capturing originality and disseminating for a largely unappreciative world. But like any true great artist, his will be a collection much appreciated when each of us expires and generations to come bare witness to his journey.

Fat Creeps - Must Be Nice [LP/CS; Sophomore Lounge/Gnar Tapes]
Somewhere along the line, rock and roll was thrown in the trash. Maybe it was just a crowd too tired to fight for forward momentum after its bastardization in the late ’90s or the fragmentation of the consumer base was not worth chasing. Neither are my concern, because be damned those who would rather glue their radio dials and iPod play buttons down on a playlist of extinct sounds. We all have our retro listening habits but those who can’t lend an ear to what’s happening now, I have no time for you. Neither do Fat Creeps by the sound of it. The Boston trio may remind historians how awesome the Boston music scene was 20-30 years ago but rather than retreating to old Dinosaur and Throwing Muses cassettes, Fat Creeps forge forward with a splendid blend of that old patriotic cause of fighting fossilized rock and roll with new energies and ideas. Must Be Nice carries a hint of the familiar (the use of hook-laden, radio friendly melodies) but there’s a roughness around the edges that isn’t going to go away with sleeker production and years of road polish. Rather, Must Be Nice works best under the weariness of Gracie and Mariam; an eye cast to the past and how it all went wrong. Poppy songs carry a burden throughout, cautious of what will happen to them should the mandibles of classic rock come crashing through to destroy the will and ravage the flesh of the newly born. Fat Creeps will not be devoured by its parentage even as it heeds its warnings. But sometimes the kids have to steal the car keys and make a run for it. Those kids trapped in the amber of Amherst 30 years ago understand.

Fat Creeps - Must Be Nice [LP/CS; Sophomore Lounge/Gnar Tapes]

Somewhere along the line, rock and roll was thrown in the trash. Maybe it was just a crowd too tired to fight for forward momentum after its bastardization in the late ’90s or the fragmentation of the consumer base was not worth chasing. Neither are my concern, because be damned those who would rather glue their radio dials and iPod play buttons down on a playlist of extinct sounds. We all have our retro listening habits but those who can’t lend an ear to what’s happening now, I have no time for you. Neither do Fat Creeps by the sound of it. The Boston trio may remind historians how awesome the Boston music scene was 20-30 years ago but rather than retreating to old Dinosaur and Throwing Muses cassettes, Fat Creeps forge forward with a splendid blend of that old patriotic cause of fighting fossilized rock and roll with new energies and ideas. Must Be Nice carries a hint of the familiar (the use of hook-laden, radio friendly melodies) but there’s a roughness around the edges that isn’t going to go away with sleeker production and years of road polish. Rather, Must Be Nice works best under the weariness of Gracie and Mariam; an eye cast to the past and how it all went wrong. Poppy songs carry a burden throughout, cautious of what will happen to them should the mandibles of classic rock come crashing through to destroy the will and ravage the flesh of the newly born. Fat Creeps will not be devoured by its parentage even as it heeds its warnings. But sometimes the kids have to steal the car keys and make a run for it. Those kids trapped in the amber of Amherst 30 years ago understand.

Sacred Product - Wastex [2x7-inch; Quemada]
Another Melbourne hello from the happy doom of Lynton Denovan. A regular of ol’ Quemada with day job band Satanic Rockers, it’s here as Sacred Product that Lynton lives up to the devilish billing. More beholden to the noisy neighbors across the Tasman Sea, Sacred Product is a splendid blend of punk nuance and art school fuckery. The face first vocal tracks create an archaic feel reminiscent of the best Gary Wilson non-starters, but it’s instrumental free-for-all “Sonic Country” that grabs first. But as you switch back and forth, you’ll come to love the snotty pop of “Tram and Train” that punctuates the varied din of this double 7-inch. Lynton is already littering the world with Sacred Product but this may be the best small slice yet.

Sacred Product - Wastex [2x7-inch; Quemada]

Another Melbourne hello from the happy doom of Lynton Denovan. A regular of ol’ Quemada with day job band Satanic Rockers, it’s here as Sacred Product that Lynton lives up to the devilish billing. More beholden to the noisy neighbors across the Tasman Sea, Sacred Product is a splendid blend of punk nuance and art school fuckery. The face first vocal tracks create an archaic feel reminiscent of the best Gary Wilson non-starters, but it’s instrumental free-for-all “Sonic Country” that grabs first. But as you switch back and forth, you’ll come to love the snotty pop of “Tram and Train” that punctuates the varied din of this double 7-inch. Lynton is already littering the world with Sacred Product but this may be the best small slice yet.

Dick Diver - New Name Blues [7-inch; Fruits & Flowers]
I wish I could say I’ve been to Melbourne, gripping all these records on my travels like a master of old. But globalization maintains its stranglehold. So I sit on my couch and just wait for awesome labels near and far to import the good shit. And this is seriously good, courtesy of Dick Diver. Though I felt cheated noticing the inclusion of a cover on a two-song 7-inch, my dark cloud quickly lifted upon listening to “Lonely Life” and remembering that some of the world’s best songs are covers. The beautiful pop explosion of the title track almost brought back the anger but then I listened to the whole 7-inch for a few hours straight and couldn’t do anything other than smile. Where is our Dick Diver, I might say if this were a closed off country fearsome of immigration and anything remotely different. But then I think about the British Invasion, and that other British Invasion, and then the Britpop invasion, and I hope that maybe we’re in the throes of an Australian invasion. I certainly wouldn’t mind more Parramatta Eels matches on my television. Maybe the NFL would adopt some AFL practices (hehe, behinds!). And we will sit in the summer heat, baking away to the loving rotations of this Dick Diver 7-inch because we have all been besieged.

Dick Diver - New Name Blues [7-inch; Fruits & Flowers]

I wish I could say I’ve been to Melbourne, gripping all these records on my travels like a master of old. But globalization maintains its stranglehold. So I sit on my couch and just wait for awesome labels near and far to import the good shit. And this is seriously good, courtesy of Dick Diver. Though I felt cheated noticing the inclusion of a cover on a two-song 7-inch, my dark cloud quickly lifted upon listening to “Lonely Life” and remembering that some of the world’s best songs are covers. The beautiful pop explosion of the title track almost brought back the anger but then I listened to the whole 7-inch for a few hours straight and couldn’t do anything other than smile. Where is our Dick Diver, I might say if this were a closed off country fearsome of immigration and anything remotely different. But then I think about the British Invasion, and that other British Invasion, and then the Britpop invasion, and I hope that maybe we’re in the throes of an Australian invasion. I certainly wouldn’t mind more Parramatta Eels matches on my television. Maybe the NFL would adopt some AFL practices (hehe, behinds!). And we will sit in the summer heat, baking away to the loving rotations of this Dick Diver 7-inch because we have all been besieged.

Eye - Winterwork [LP; Nyali]
Pairing nicely with my first reading of Erewhon Calling, New Zealand’s Eye are a fantastic microcosm of a never ending well of inspiration from an island nation barely 4 million strong. Even as the socioeconomic forces threaten to envelope most of us in a wet blanket of commonality, there are those in New Zealand’s noisiest recesses–as there are tribal communities and castaways deep within unexplored continental jungles and frozen tundras–that have eschewed our new formality to continue exploring the outlier and asinine. Winterwork is such an LP and thank the no wave deconstructionists of yore for such a blessed gem. Though hesitant to apply the same fundamentals and acting principles behind Eye that were at work for no wavers of a certain era, the idea that music is a continuing waterfall that needs a few barrel jumpers in its flow to cause a rethink is evident in the retro-evolution at work within the trio’s frosty distortion. The tumult of our swollen society, turns out, is heard by those in isolation as coloring. No matter how cut off by appearances, something in the magnetic field carries those vibrations. Winterwork is such an interpretation; the music of the last stop between civilization and antarctic quarantine. So now that we know the source of their power, now we must find how its harnessed. Eye is giving no discernible clues, true guardians of a noise knowledge best left to those unfazed by our power suit culture overlap. With only 250 copies in existence, however, you can bet someone will lust to turn this rarity into a commodity.

Eye - Winterwork [LP; Nyali]

Pairing nicely with my first reading of Erewhon Calling, New Zealand’s Eye are a fantastic microcosm of a never ending well of inspiration from an island nation barely 4 million strong. Even as the socioeconomic forces threaten to envelope most of us in a wet blanket of commonality, there are those in New Zealand’s noisiest recesses–as there are tribal communities and castaways deep within unexplored continental jungles and frozen tundras–that have eschewed our new formality to continue exploring the outlier and asinine. Winterwork is such an LP and thank the no wave deconstructionists of yore for such a blessed gem. Though hesitant to apply the same fundamentals and acting principles behind Eye that were at work for no wavers of a certain era, the idea that music is a continuing waterfall that needs a few barrel jumpers in its flow to cause a rethink is evident in the retro-evolution at work within the trio’s frosty distortion. The tumult of our swollen society, turns out, is heard by those in isolation as coloring. No matter how cut off by appearances, something in the magnetic field carries those vibrations. Winterwork is such an interpretation; the music of the last stop between civilization and antarctic quarantine. So now that we know the source of their power, now we must find how its harnessed. Eye is giving no discernible clues, true guardians of a noise knowledge best left to those unfazed by our power suit culture overlap. With only 250 copies in existence, however, you can bet someone will lust to turn this rarity into a commodity.

King Tears Bat Trip - King Tears Bat Trip [LP; Debacle]
With no less than four percussionists, a tenor sax and the lone guitarist being outfit binder Luke Bergman, the intimidation factor of King Tears Bat Trip’s debut self-titled is immediate. The ability to actual swallow and digest two long compositions (one per side) on a psychedelic picture disc which hypnotizes and scares with each rotation…it’s a large order for even the most ironed stomach avant noise gourmand. Yet the rhythm of all these drums is a different animal from the throwaway spice of ‘tribal’. Not to say that us whiteys won’t immediately claim such an identifier for lack of a better term, but when you let the drums hit your intestines (in the midst of “Elevenogram”) you’ll find it like a fine bourbon that has a sting in the throat but a welcomed warmth as it spreads throughout the body. Soon your stomach becomes your libido, the drums as sexual as they are a soothing drone. Lip service also is deserving to Neil Welch’s tenor saxophone, which is unafraid to be the main course as necessitated but works best when it is often paired with the whole of the album’s breakneck rhythms. What KTBT’s self-titled amounts to is immensely fancy plating with a down home, comfort food taste. Behind all the fancy pageantry and ferocious distortion are recognizable melodies that will fill your belly and nourish the soul.

King Tears Bat Trip - King Tears Bat Trip [LP; Debacle]

With no less than four percussionists, a tenor sax and the lone guitarist being outfit binder Luke Bergman, the intimidation factor of King Tears Bat Trip’s debut self-titled is immediate. The ability to actual swallow and digest two long compositions (one per side) on a psychedelic picture disc which hypnotizes and scares with each rotation…it’s a large order for even the most ironed stomach avant noise gourmand. Yet the rhythm of all these drums is a different animal from the throwaway spice of ‘tribal’. Not to say that us whiteys won’t immediately claim such an identifier for lack of a better term, but when you let the drums hit your intestines (in the midst of “Elevenogram”) you’ll find it like a fine bourbon that has a sting in the throat but a welcomed warmth as it spreads throughout the body. Soon your stomach becomes your libido, the drums as sexual as they are a soothing drone. Lip service also is deserving to Neil Welch’s tenor saxophone, which is unafraid to be the main course as necessitated but works best when it is often paired with the whole of the album’s breakneck rhythms. What KTBT’s self-titled amounts to is immensely fancy plating with a down home, comfort food taste. Behind all the fancy pageantry and ferocious distortion are recognizable melodies that will fill your belly and nourish the soul.

Honey Radar - Scorpions Bought Me Breakfast [5-inch; Third Uncle]
First: make sure your record player can accommodate odd inches. Second: make sure your record player can accommodate odd speeds. Third: throw logic aside and just make it work.

That’s the best way to get to the one minute of creamy centered goodness offered from the latest art piece on lathe offered up by Third Uncle. The Indiana label that plays with strange artifacts in limited quantities once more thrusts a weird Honey Radar masterpiece onto us and though it will take us 10 minutes to play a one minute song, it’s well worth it. “Scorpions Bought Me Breakfast” is another preview before a promised full length from Honey Radar but in the mean time we will just bask in the simple pleasures of its quirky melody and quick run time. I’d tell you run just as quickly to pick this up but lucky you, all copies have vanished which means the 10 minutes of set-up is reduced to turning on your internet enabled electronic device and listening it to right here after you read this review.

…And finished.

Honey Radar - Scorpions Bought Me Breakfast [5-inch; Third Uncle]

First: make sure your record player can accommodate odd inches. Second: make sure your record player can accommodate odd speeds. Third: throw logic aside and just make it work.

That’s the best way to get to the one minute of creamy centered goodness offered from the latest art piece on lathe offered up by Third Uncle. The Indiana label that plays with strange artifacts in limited quantities once more thrusts a weird Honey Radar masterpiece onto us and though it will take us 10 minutes to play a one minute song, it’s well worth it. “Scorpions Bought Me Breakfast” is another preview before a promised full length from Honey Radar but in the mean time we will just bask in the simple pleasures of its quirky melody and quick run time. I’d tell you run just as quickly to pick this up but lucky you, all copies have vanished which means the 10 minutes of set-up is reduced to turning on your internet enabled electronic device and listening it to right here after you read this review.

…And finished.

About:

Justin Spicer is a pop culture critic, writer and editor. He manages Tiny Mix Tapes' Cerberus section. He has written columns for KEXP, Ad Hoc, Impose, and SSG Music. His work has been published by The Village Voice, Brainwashed, and extinct websites and print publications across the globe. This website is a collection of many of Justin's articles, reviews, and features. You can contact him via the links in the side menu or ignore all of this completely.

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