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 | 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 | 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.

TRACK | RODODENDRONS – Hunger

5/5 golden merles

Immense and unmitigated punk from the Chicago/Boston-based RODODENDRONS. Synths accompany like a halo hanging over the hellion, frantic, proving that being maladapted to madness is a asset. A warm catalog of our collective descent or rising; it’s all relative to where you are already. But a log nonetheless of some motion, somewhere, through the void, and its approximate rapidity.

Most of that motion is flames. Sometimes burning down the house, sometimes burning up and upon reentry. Its bedrock too is combustible. This 4 track demo is pushing the year-end list, it’s that strong and steady. If not on it then at least among the honorable men-shunned as we wait for a full length. It’s intricacies are irate but amenable, the combination of articulation and fervor that compliments our common ruin.

The set is a split release by RoachLeg Records (Brooklyn) and Unlawful Assembly (Milwaukee).

TRACK | Egg Idiot – Meltdown

5/5 golden merles

Leipzig eggpunk with the uncanny ability to channel estrangement into melodic rupture. Egg Idiot’s Help ! is hyperactive malaise as an exaltation, serving with distinction in the line of trash punk, and both a degradation of that which is superfluous in rock and a refinement of its redeeming qualities. Composed of composting tones and rotting with true relish, it’s an exquisite set.

It’s a very good achievement, one I’m going to have to sit and absorb and hope its contaminant remains in my blood as influence. Each track is moving swiftly upward, a distinct sample from the mantle of the core. It’s inviably pounding and cracking with more conviction and force than you expect from any one man band, feeding/rallying off its own fury. And maintaining that emphasis within the its intricate layering, burning melodies and segments at a venerable rate. Any track seems like a good entry point, with its extreme consistency.

For more look to the new/magnificent “Feel Like a Dog” video, something significant and full of detail and invention. Or look back also at the beautiful “Barf Life” video and the prior feature . Support your local egg-based cretin by naming your own price or purchasing a cassette for €7 EUR or more.