TRACK | vivi milne – In 2

5/5 golden merles

Solstice is bedroom/lo-fi folk that is elaborately cut together, pulling at interpersonal strands and cogently tracing them back into their universal underpinnings. It follows closely on the heels after 2020’s also great Double Headed Deer and is akin to that cloth. “In 2” is a good representation of the style and substance of that storytelling, demarcating the unease in the daring, fractured totality.

The vocal tracks heavy leftward arc feels present in the room, the thoughtful melodies are at all times in a state of serenely careening. It feels like a personal but not indulgent document, a good, individual archive of the era and that is rare and valuable. “There are certain memories that remain inviolate to the ravages of time,” fortunately.

Sometimes songwriters use both style and text and it is a great relief. Maybe you think this is the default, but I tell you it is not. At least not to the extent by which both are refined or cataloged. It’s a lot less poised to perish than anything else you’ve been sold this month, musically or otherwise. $7 on the bandcamp for the set.

TRACK | Dumb Idea – Piece By Piece

5/5 golden merles

The Freakin’ Split is two great sets of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, hardcore/punk in which each track burns brightly if briefly into existence. The cast amends and shuffles midway throughout but everything seems to share a common vision. Of course I latch onto maybe the most accessible segment and gesture toward the proverbial pasture: “Piece by Piece,” the rampant closer in which late on the tempo shifts and hints at what is to come, some further prospects of recourse to take when navigating a culture that is combusting all around us.

If you’re feeling some resonance with it after 10 seconds, the whole set comes as a great relief. I may prefer Side A overall, but this is my favorite individual track. All across the runtime the form and function operate on the terms of the genre, but bigger, distinctly so, starkly within their own individuated/inventive modes of conduct, if you’re familiar enough to appreciate the terms. There’s tons of capable nuance in the alternating, impaled drum and octave scaling guitar; every modestly elongated track is rich in careful detail that is then smashed in celebration right in front of you.

If that is your idea of fun then probably you should buy the digital album from Earth Girl Tapes, name your price on the bandcamp.

TRACK | Stuck – Do Not Reply

5/5 golden merles

Eloquent Chicago post-punk embracing the only remaining righteous fury, “Do Not Reply” corroborates your feeling that the present strait we reside within is relatively dire. Early on the tempo shifts and scales with the realization of these guiding affirmations, “I see you thrive / but I just know your soul’s diseased.” If we are to address the rot at the core of our civilization (…the leeches at the top which insatiably siphon wealth to such extreme severity with no regard for the common good) the language of morality, as it is here, must be employed to express the enormity of the grievance.

If you’re looking for escape then look elsewhere, this is commiseration, for humans as they were traditionally known, prior to incorporation, with aspersions directed at the insatiable ghouls that head our oligarchy. Miranda Winters lends chorus to the band, layering and reinforcing the accusations, shoring up a united front confluent to address these unjust hierarchies. Even the title speaks clearly to the alienation of the era: being contacted but unable to reply to the relentless barrage of bullshit to which we are inundated with impunity…

It remains yet to be seen if we can acquire a future worth having, to pry it from the hands of mediocre men upon seemingly unassailable pedestals of capital. If we don’t hedge and cower our way toward that new and immediate hell they envision, something will need to be done about turning that pedestal into a pyre.

Anyhow, it doesn’t matter. Just try to consume things you’re ideologically aligned with and support their labor. It is $1 on the bandcamp if you’re not already hopelessly indebted.

TRACK | Melaina Kol – Nu

5/5 golden merles

Melaina Kol creates Youngsville, North Carolina-based lo-fi bedroom rock. AMOSAT is layered in rich and compelling material, a delicately discordant ambiance constructed with much persistently viable misdirection stacked around the solid songwriting. “Nu” offers loads of angular pieces approaching of their own accord, an entire woven world of it to delve and get lost in, subtle hooks and abundant texture.

If I ever make anything good, I’ll have taken some lessons from this: its patience and sense of rerouting the narrative within the greater whole. There a lot of skill in guiding the persistent observer or judge in a kind of favorable figment or refracting everything in a favorable light; it’s nice to see such skill given to the refinement of experiment and innumerable unique transitions between tracks.

All of that is of value and is a kind of expertise that slowly accumulates an audience in the world, at least you hope so. It can be held by Naming your price at the bandcamp. Also check out the re-release of a set of 2017 tracks now out on tape/digital from 7th Heaven.

TRACK | Why Bother? – Foot in Mouth Disease

5/5 golden merles

“Foot in Mouth Disease” exemplifies a mastery of lo-fi synth punk production. Down to the layered backing vocal, all the creak and warble on this emulates my near ideal manipulation of the medium: the pans, the guttural synths and they’re coalescing groan, that wide net of distortion of the rhythm guitar crashing over the skull of your chosen corporeal ballast. Really nice, nuanced garble.

While I lean toward Lacerated Nights on the full set, “Foot in Mouth Disease” is undeniably top shelf sludge and more or less fit for human consumption. On There Are Such Things the band is leaning a bit more into experimentation, field and samples, defying the form and framework that was employed so well the previous cycle. And they are having fun while still clearing the high bar previously set with hooks like these.

Name your price on the bandcamp, $10 tapes there or $8 directly from Sorry State Records.

TRACK | los spunky’s – te escribiré canciones de amor

5/5 golden merles

Lo-fi bedroom punk from Santiago, Chile, providing great heart and guts among other inexplicable innards throughout the convection. The tracks give some heavy pop sensibilities but offer them estranged from professionalized depersonalization of corporate art. Some direct, convincing evidence these tunes and textures can be held in high esteem outside of what has become of our culture, and can persist without ulterior motives. It is a welcome reminder.

It has the inevitable influence of radio, youth, nostalgia and combines it with the human desire for direct melodies about extremely simple/impossibly complicated things like ‘love.’ But in doing so also is stripping out the obligatory advertisements and operates similar to other independent media as though a musical ad blocker. Working directly without the pretense of polish, dissipating the sickly attaché which has been engineered to leech off our every action, while maintaining the preferences that seem to us inextricable from systems of oppression but are very much not.

Taking the good while shedding the parasitical, this feels healthy. And another glimpse of some small, personal vision of a way forward. Lots of good dreaming coming out of Chile lately, despite the turning down of the constitution. A different world is possible, break through the bullshit, return to basics and reinvent the world. Name your price on the Bandcamp.

TRACK | Abi Ooze – Cry Alone

5/5 golden merles

Timeless and mighty punk from Hammond, Indiana. “Cry Alone” is informed by and in dialog with rock culture, extending its reach into what seems to us now like the future, without history’s patented musty reek of decomposing dreams. A great threat of things to come for the remaining tracks on Forestdale Sessions, releasing tomorrow, October 12th. Textually it holds some eternally relatable commiserations on isolation and ostracization, some outcast’s well-honed and worthy lament.

Backing vocals sustain on the gilded periphery and lyrics hammer home the sentiment; it is a finely crafted thing and hitting what it’s aiming at. Composed and cut from the same cloth as the blindfold so not to let it go to waste, nothing is excess in the track’s sharp detailing, imperious fills and proper solo. Tapes incoming from Rotten Apple records in St. Louis for $7 or pre-order at a price of your own choosing.

This is the 365th straight day of Plainly & Painfully and concludes the year of daily posts. I’ll still be posting regularly but not every god damned day. Thanks to anybody following along, definitely crying a little less alone these days and appreciate the company.

TRACK | Woolen Men – Why Do Parties Have to End?

5/5 golden merles

New materials from Portland’s Woolen Men is always a welcome sight, having previously written incoherently about “On Cowardice” and “Head on the Ground.” After the two year hiatus, they remain one of my favorite presently living outfits, with much reliable hook and clamber in these lo-fi rock pop tones and phrases, some sweetness and perennial dread.

The text originally by Napalm Beach and concerns the temporal, with particular respect to the indivisible nature of time and perception; that linear curse. We’re left behind or simultaneously continuing onward at differing trajectories from the absent/dead — however you want to look at it. The single’s a tribute to some departed friends. Parties and lives collapse of their own accord in the semi-planned obsolescence of existence, all perception seemingly tied to one orb spinning around another at particular, reliable orbits. The pacing of which, having always operated under these auspices, seems very important to us, and the rut of this rotation rules our lives.

Woolen Men always stretch beyond the generic spoils of melody and interpersonal indistinction, building tiny pocket universes. There’s wallowing, sure, but it’s articulated, idiosyncratic, worthy of peering at or visiting often. We are lucky to remain within the same timeline. It’s $1 for the digital track, the hope of more tracks to come is included at no cost.

TRACK | FEN FEN – Insect

5/5 golden merles

Detroit’s FEN FEN have been building a steady stack solid garage punk singles in this year of our absent lord 2022, intimating a great record is forthcoming. “Insect” has hooks you’ll be required to gnaw your own foot to get free of and a gold plated vocal delivery that seems destined to vomit up in harried yelp and shriek prognostications.

It’s ably and faithfully routing the riffs into a sequence while gently blurring and warping the edges of historical precedent for the genre. Otherwise the bulk is hearty fundamentals flailing in the common era, an addendum to the accursed pleas stretching back a generation; the act of devotedly keeping the nightmare alive.

Detroit is experimenting and deconstructing the form, there’s so much good pouring out of those damn lakes around Chicago and Cleveland. Tremendo Garaje has the video. Name your price on the bandcamp.

TRACK | Cherry Cheeks – UFO

5/5 golden merles

“UFO” is unrepentant lo-fi synth punk, newly released Cherry Cheeks, the 1st in track on the Cherry Radio EP. Each track is subsequently fanning these early flames. Hallowed modulations and percussive rhythm guitar snap over harmonic backing screech, the indulgences collude with and sustain one another. It’s good, I think; really good. But its long-term effects have yet to be determined.

All that texture is prefaced on the metaphorical hooks which multiply rapidly and indefinitely here. Lots of these to relish on repeat exposures, these bits that immediately conspire to occupy your attention and root in the sensory and short term memory like a beachhead for the broader absorption. I’ve had the self-titled on Total Punk Records open in the forest of Firefox tabs for over a year and now it is demanded by this qualitative excellence I go back and find it.

This EP is released by Under The Gun Records, sorta/it was gone real quick and they’re working at building something bigger than a digital swarm. You can hear it there but the vinyl’s sold out and there’s no discogs page yet so just go wander about outside until you stumble across it.