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 | Cluttered Grotto – Pest

5/5 golden merles

More iridescent synth and egg punk from the young Californian, Cluttered Grotto has summoned a very strong set of the lo-fi and the sub-genre’d bedroom rock. “Pest” is my favorite of that lot, spurning excess in favor of burning briefly and brilliantly. If you’re fond to a fault of irrefutable and jagged things like Billiam, DADGAD, C.P.R. Doll, then you likely can’t go wrong here.

Folding into the verses, obsession and evasion are the subject; how desire turns to dust, then distraction, and the cycle repeats ad infinitum or until you croak. It reminds me of a few triumphant lines from Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow:

For all of these things melt away and drift apart within the obscure traffic of time. Live well and live broadly. You are alive and living now. Now is the envy of all of the dead.

The longest track of the album at 1:53, when the solo hones in and bleeds off that chorus bringing it all home, you sorta hope it won’t end. But it’s off on to the next thing, of course. That is what the loop-repeat function is for. Nothing overstays and runs the melody into the ground, instead it lands briefly before it relaunches.

Two (2!) tapes remain from the newly minted legends at Painters Tapes, think of that.

TRACK | Cluttered Grotto – Asbestos Sandwich

5/5 golden merles

California bedroom punk with more melodic sense than a hijacked ice cream truck and a voice that sounds like cleaning off your lucky blood diamond with a stainless steel scouring pad. All of this is very good and meant to sound appealing to you, as it does to me. It is the relatively happy bastard child of subversion and invention, driving drum loops draped in human pelts.

Canonical-grade commiseration, it’s seated somewhere among the premier set of atomized and alienated subjects of oligarchy, each in isolation making lo-fi melody-rich synth punk. The craft is immediately recognizable. It’s a competitor, in the top tier. I’ve somehow managed to avoid it like an inverse minefield to date.

The turns are abrupt and appropriate, it mends and mangles in good order. If you are synced up with the wavelength fluctuations of the incessant vibration in dichotomy between deathly serious and inconsequential, it comes as a great relief. It feels a little like driving down a cliffside highway when you unexpectedly smash through a thin wall’s painted vista only to find on the other side not impending death but the true, identical vista itself and above it a prop plane trailing a banner containing the message, “haha, sorry.” It’s that kind of fun.

The EP was found on DJ Simon’s fine Infernal Racket. Really excited to dive into the self-titled from May.

TRACK | Klint – Selected Welcome

5/5 golden merles

German synth/egg punk, “Selected Welcome” is tinged and tainted with a lot of good grit and a prodigal pounce. The chorus is a simple phrase that contains the seeds of an adventure, the trek at time of reception, sometime before the hubbub gets hashed out. It has tones that seep in and the pulse of something fretful and not long for this world; it provides a good example of how to proceed if you are looking to leave a mark.

For at least several minutes the lord is baptized in his own blood and there is much singing in the ensuing confusion. I thought for one second I’d written about Klint before but it was Kieff, and through my idiotic error I was greatly rewarded. The whole set clanks and saunters in its own fluids for right around one half of one hour. It’s a soundtrack in two parts, both of them uncannily accurate approximations of being strangled by a stethoscope.

It will be €4 for the digital set split into two halves. Or it’s about $6 for the tape cut up into digestible chunks from Japan’s superb Dial Club.

TRACK | Catastrophic Dance Ensemble – Panko

5/5 golden merles

The assignment understanders have arrived. What do the rest of you have to say for yourselves? Cincinnati-found Catastrophic Dance Ensemble make rapid, roaming, detailed eggpunk. Gently putrefied, as a measure of gauging its place within the world, and thriving in the rot all around us. Its welts and warp mirror many of my own less convincing accusations; a fiery and balanced form.

In recent surveys most people claim they know when it is appropriate to twist a melody like pulling someone by the lapels out of the window. But in reality hardly 7 in 10 could do it if pressed. Beyond the hypothetical, these Ohioans have done it here. The instrumental backend is even an excellent melodic tumble, all of it finding some much needed humor in the hemorrhage and goes some way toward explaining why we can’t have nice things.

In league with the good goings on of Leipzig, Berlin, Melbourne and Montreal, the Cincinnati punk rock scene is strong, it seems, from afar. If you’ve recently granted positive appraisals to egg and experiment kings like Mesh, FIVE BUCKS, and C.P.R. Doll, I suppose this would be an easy affixation. Name your price at the bandcamp.

TRACK | Belly Jelly – Half Fluorinated Man

5/5 golden merles

From the neonatal subsection of the Discontinuous Innovations Inc. archives, 2022‘s The Universal Language is a cohesive wreck of a record. Certified synth punk, it has leaky guts. It has a kind of belligerent whimsy that seems for all intents and purposes indefatigable. It’s probably best paired with eating gravel off an ill-advised grind to save face after some prior cataclysmic blunder; the botches compounding, proudly multiplying.

Make no mistake, it is a corpulent peach of a series, bleeding blood we don’t rightly recognize as such. You’ll break a nail picking some of the hooks back out of your brain. I haven’t technically been the same since, for better or for blurst.

“Half Fluorinated Man” is the pick of that litter for me, it opens with misdirection, some foaming at the mouth before a tall drink of water. Half a century of pop rock is recontextualized as having been a terrible mistake, and all in about 90 seconds. The digital album is $1 USD. The Audio Cassette Tape is $5. These are reasonable requests.

TRACK | The Gobs – Tuffer Than You

5/5 golden merles

Hard to pick a single track off this exceptional Split EP shared between The Gobs and Ex-White. But I’ve settled on the first track of this side, “Tuffer Than You.” It’s exquisite synth accented garage punk, composed of hardened snow scraped out from under the car and built into a brilliant effigy. The production decay is a correcting mechanism, it better represents the environment from which it was derived.

Notably, the reverence is low. The melodies are quality and effortlessly interlocking; it’s bound up nicely in this loaded frame. Free reign is given to some selected tones and the others are curtailed dutifully around the stomp and stagger; together they’re textured/paced to allow the happy suspending of doubt in the murk of it all.

Truly the 4-track split itself will likely end up on the year-end list. The 300 wax pieces have some yet to be disseminated from Germany, $20 to Turbo Discos with shipping is a steal if you have the cash to ship.

TRACK | Billiam – Jenny Destroys Records

5/5 golden merles

From a split with The Vovos, Billliam’s “Jenny Destroys Records” is synth punk that tells a simple tale of destruction well, with heart and animus. The Vocal-synth harmony is unforgiving in its pursuit: heavily hounding, never yielding. In the writing there is a keen understanding of when to rhyme and when to let it slide, suiting the compiling accusations as they grow in conviction.

It’s a great relief to find this frank wrath so built to scale; the track balances absolute parity of medium and message, the scope fitting the melody and method of execution; all of it craven and compelling. Artistry and insolence are the heart of punk rock, but also here add in a bit of humor and a laser-guided melody.

The remaining tracks will be emerging on the 16th of September, preorder now at $1 AUD. The 150 pressing of the vinyl by Under Heat Records will be gone shortly, those not already smashed or scratched by Jenny the cat. rip.

TRACK | Repulsion Switch – Optimista

5/5 golden merles

Repulsion Switch’s EP features variations on a theme via accelerated lo-fi Buenos Aires egg punk. Rapid, minimal and winged, the sort of scuttled remains of rock a low ranking demon might envision during a weekend away at a sensory deprivation tank. It breaks into being at four tracks in three minutes and forty two seconds. It is better than most formative fiction you have consumed.

The balance is admirable. Venturing out into abstraction despite the commitment to form, it is consistently corroded and it’s playing with how many pieces can be removed before collapse. It has cracked the code and is now faithful to the formula.

As it evaporates upon entry, we may as well start it on the first track, “Optimista,” but I prefer the third best, “Flavors,” as the most choice from the set. Anyway, If it makes it down the track list, there is not much of an impact crater visible after. But it is a spectacle worthy of consumption in either case. I’m glad to know it. Etch it into your hard drive and heart for a mere $1 USD (or more).

TRACK | THE CLUE – Starting

5/5 golden merles

More lo-fi punk marinated in the Deluxe Bias morgue, a very fine and irrevocable 21st amendment to their rising catalog. It does not overstay its welcome with 5 tracks running to a little over 7 minutes in length, hitting the ideal demo structure, and ending with a nice homage to Tiny Tim to wrap things up.

Frantic and favoring the form, it hurtles about in the orbit of the egg punk. Never reaching, it’s all fully realized in tone, consistent in its clamor throughout. A goodly sort, well beyond the proof of concept.

Head to TegosluchamPL for the track list divided, otherwise you’re in for the long haul, which is to say 5 short hauls combining for a medium haul. The tapes have sold out, promptly & irrevocably, unless later reprinted. Otherwise you can have it for naming any number smaller than the one in your bank account.