TRACK | Violent Change – Unit A

5/5 golden merles

“Unit A” is the easiest point of entry to a great experimental lo-fi rock set, VC3. Awash in fuzz and form, the rampant melody augments and deviates in plenty of soaring and delicate ways. There’s enough feinting at traditional form coinciding with the stylistic subversion to keep it fresh and engaging.

There’s a lot in the way of texture and the weighting thereof: the processing all around, the vocal layers elevating at the chorus and a sparingly employed harmonica stretching the tactile wave. All of this is solidly plating the hooks, enshrining and embracing the more established elements.

Within the genre and particularly to those acclimated, there’s a lot of admirable gradation and nuance to the discernible creative problem solving. This refinement pulls some aspects of the abstraction away from suspicion, provides a benefit of the doubt in areas that lack explicit mechanisms of conveying meaning.

See also the Chunklet Industries Honey Radar/VC split from 2021 for some complimentary schemes.

TRACK | The Lavender Flu – Demons In The Dusk

5/5 golden merles

Experimental psych and folk rock from Oregon, The Lavender Flu’s “Demons in the Dusk” finds the lugubrious periphery of rock to be a haunting and inviting sector. And they offer great returns residing and mining this quarter comfortably immediately before collapse.

The album as a whole is consistently wailing and receding, working within its own internal logic that promptly consumes the listener. But “Demons In The Dusk” is probably the foremost hook, the crown jewel of a barb that easiest draws you in. It rewards your patience with a strange, strangled style, then an uptick of treble and trembling in the end.

As we hurtle unapologetically toward a new dark age, estranged from the storied ends, adrift and listless, it suits us well. At least the paths run parallel. Craven and composed, it saunters to the threat of annihilation, an easy going end that specifically omits a mea culpa, “The Lies that you breathe / will follow you.”

4 sides for 30 wending tracks, the double vinyl is around.

TRACK | Cut Worms – Like Going Down Sideways

5/5 golden merles

One of the strongest 2-song 7″ I’ve come across, a pair of my favorites from the buildup to Alien Sunset. “Like Going Down Sideways” is delicate and dreamy alt country. It is also an expert projection of layering a demo into a fully fledged lo-fi phenomenon.

There’s a lot of wonder to the piercing polarization of the complimentary layered vocal lanes, creeping in solemnly from the treetops of hell before the chorus raises. The track also features texturally many deliberate flourishes, like a couple of the briefest xylophone or glockenspiel cameos known to man; arriving to puncture amidst the plucking and contribute just a bit more of the percussive, glinting and gleaming.

The persistent room noise in this version is lovely. This one came out perfected and doesn’t need refining. You can still buy the split from Randy Records for all of $6.50 plus shipping.

TRACK | The Padla Bear Outfit & Mak – Love

5/5 golden merles

Lo-fi pop rock courtesy of our Russian friends The Padla Bear Outfit & Mak, “Love” is candid, carefree, and flickering track. Melodies carom about, concentric and determined to revel. The cover is well suited to this sentiment, featuring a Christmas tree built of drums, a soaring dragon in place of the angel.

Does Lisa Anderson, Dean of the School of International and Public affairs at Colombia University, know she is featured in one of the summery-est songs ever to come out of Saint Petersburg? The odds are unlikely. But it should be an honor if unearthed.

While our two failed empires bicker at one another, expanding outward at great expense even as they collapse internally, the subjects of these respective oligarchies can appreciate the art produced and commiserate. We have brothers everywhere and they too are ruled by bastards.

TRACK | The Lentils – some people sure can leave a mark

5/5 golden merles

I am a fan of The Lentils and think Luke Csehak is one of the best songwriters working in the cesspool of innovation that is our common era. “Some people sure can leave a mark” is a track of great ambivalence, ruminating and rejoicing in the navigation of interpersonal alternate timelines, and of acceptance for the one we find ourselves enduring.

I would settle for being kind to myself / and just once deny the idol of my regrets

The track balances the interlocking plucking and melodic spirals well with the focused yet expansive subject matter. And the depths of the topic are sufficiently plumbed: the outsized influences of some brief instances and acquaintances, influential hinge points of inflection at which dramatic alternate directions might have been taken. There’s extensive scrutiny in the musings and the introspection is finely honed.

TRACK | Dusty Mush – Faux Sabotage

5/5 golden merles

“Faux Sabotage” is a collapsing edifice of a track. Only the barest ingredients and essence remain. Whatever came before has been ground down into a few remaining functional base components. The song is approximately 93 seconds of rooting about the rich tones of rubble.

If the tones can be this rich, I apparently can be temporarily endeared to the greater abstraction. There is a point at which style can overcome most minimal thresholds for substance, if it has at least some posturing towards coherency for a few lines, found here toward the meridian, and the track ultimately does not overstay its welcome.

There was a very limited run of lathe cut Pizza Dischi physical forms. Apparently etched on CDs using machines from the 50’s, these are then played on a turntable with individually unique lo-fi buzz. No one at the moment wants to exchange them for monetary reward at Discogs. But the digital form is well worth your converting into Euro for our French friends in Melun.

TRACK | Banned Books – Fuselage

5/5 golden merles

“Fuselage” is Banned Books stunning opener from their 2016 self-titled LP. Full of stars and false starts, the track asks: What’s the worst thing that could happen? Then later addresses the picking up and patching over.

Its movement is staggered like an unpaved route navigating over mountainous terrain. The path is guided by fractals of drums and the coursing, world-on-a-wire guitar channels.

There’s a great deal of vacillating, variance to elevation, and the track is no stranger to intermittent silences. This has its own internal logic or natural tectonics, and maintains a balance that feels both original and jarring.

Each jagged and convulsive element is intricately plotted and administered by familiar, well produced instrumentation. Strong work from Philadelphia: Pop, Rock, Noise, with experiments to structure and pacing.

TRACK | Andy Shauf – The Magician

5/5 golden merles

I first heard about The Party as a Katie Von Schleicher recommendation. And may really prefer this live version from a tiny desk concert. So maybe check that version out as well if you feel the studio lacks a little bit of warmth.

But in either incarnation, the melody is a supreme and graceful thing. Full of delicate and elaborate instrumentation, it is a devastating and compelling opener to a great album.