TRACK | Druggy Pizza – Radium Canyon

5/5 golden merles

More glint and relentless corrosion from our friends at Druggy Pizza, “Radium Canyon” spells doom for us all but in a good way. Garage and psych rock veiled in withering and decadent tones, I wager the rendering of which will please fans of good things and anger or confound most of those who aren’t.

The melody of the guitar lead roams freely around the bass’ substratum, prowling the chasmal expanse. The reverb is slathered across the channels and stings. A Fender quad is purring, graciously and expertly propelling the audible tones produced by the bending of metal at certain wavelengths.

The heat comes off it in radiant streaks, it bends the light around it. It’s a good approximation of a fruitful fever. It deserves to be wound into wax, if it wants. But for this digital 2020 set you can name your price.

TRACK | Druggy Pizza – Like Pigs In A Slot

5/5 golden merles

Featuring members of Dusty Mush, Cédric Bottacchi/Druggy Pizza’s “Like Pigs In A Slot” convenes the crunching and crushing of waves in a not dissimilar manner. Unrest and deliberate deconstruction, it’s surf rock on a sea of molten gloom and Midas detritus.

The blistering, proximal bass synth continues grinding in perpetuity, as the focus shifts from the background grind to the central figures portrait, breaking the established mold a few times in a matter of minutes. The whole EP/split’s worth spending some time with.

If you, like me, hold its contortions in high esteem, look also into the 2020 set and checkout the handful of vinyl from the Peace And Love Barbershop Muhammad Ali split.

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 | The Limiñanas – I’m Dead

5/5 golden merles

A decade out but nonetheless fondly remembered, “I’m Dead” reverberates off the void in a manner that implies it isn’t entirely empty.

The track is a little bit more gold from the Hozac archives, whose brethren among which I have found many good things throughout the common era.

Declarative and disembodied pronouncements are set against the steady jangle & murmur of the instrumentation. The mood is summoned from minimal ingredients, the soundscape swells with well placed tambourine & timbre.

It contains within it some infinite but oddly numbered multitudes and is, to the touch, a little cooler than the inside of a coffin. Very fun/good French pop-rock. Check out the 2021 release as well, De Película.

TRACK | Baston – Maybe I’m Dead

5/5 golden merles

Baston’s “Maybe I’m Dead” is more great French garage-pop, this time from Rennes. The lyrics are speaking to a need for escape, both from the world through reading/consumption of media and in deviating personally from the tired, daily routines that arbitrarily determine every interaction.

Profuse, enchanting hooks are built within the melodic structures of familiar guitar-bass lines, which are in this case utilized to convey much discontent. While the contents themselves address a desire to escape, the style is genial and possibly celebratory.

The primary concern is structures and norms that have had their value hollowed out and appear to remain only fixtures in our daily lives due to the cultural habit known as tradition. The song is just one more means of attempted escape: unable to escape the world, an additional media is constructed specifically so that this style/aesthetic may also be hollowed out and tunneled through.

And this contradiction is an interesting dichotomy, the taking of pieces/forms from the past in an attempt to build in the present a future worth having. There’s ultimately no escape but accompanying the author on the route itself provides some nice commiseration.

TRACK | Special Friend – High Tide

5/5 golden merles

“High Tide” is built of sterling garage-pop components and moves assuredly from strength-to-strength, no sequence a weakened, broken, or missing link.

Across the soundscape the fuzz’d bass and rhythm guitar are largely reading as one united instrument, beams of the lead guitar’s higher note hooks punctuating the greater haze. The complimentary backing vocals arise harmonious, steadily elevating the chorus and bridge. The drums guide everything toward its assured, abrupt conclusion.

The song is doing well what it intends to do. If you still maintain the capacity to hear things and earnestly assess them, evenly, I don’t think you can fault its form. There is craft, well realize, and in it some sense of purpose.

TRACK | Pristine Hyur – Somebody Saves Us

5/5 golden merles

It is fairly difficult for me to be grabbed by the pure instrumental outside of an album stretch in which it acts sometimes as intermediary or accent between more explicit entries. I am suspicious of pure abstraction, of where it might otherwise be welcomed.

But here is a good example of the exception.

Many great tones are featured in their own right, elaborately worked and accented with field recorded pulsations that approximate speech but never fully realize it. Phases and segments seamlessly transition. It has a masterful pacing and craft.

There must be a coming together of such coherence that the style/form is so rich in detail and metering it becomes the substance itself. If that sounds damning with faint praise then I am not properly conveying the rarity of it.

I have a great appreciation for language. For me, a good line goes a long way. To remove this attribute altogether from a piece of music puts the work at a disadvantage. It’s not insurmountable but it is nonetheless appreciated with less frequency.

There is a great quote attributed to Dietrich Bonhoeffer about “Comforting the troubled and troubling the comfortable,” and, well, this becomes more difficult when dealing in abstraction. But I think that it also may very well apply here and that is no small feat.

TRACK | Skeptics – Open Sea

5/5 golden merles

Here I am quoting Toussaint on the Barcelona band and Orwell on the French one… the fact of the matter is that it doesn’t matter.

Both are flawed, heroic individuals disowned by the armchair left for impurities in their revolutionary action. One exiled to death and the other merely shot in the neck. From the cozy homes of the present, they were later deemed apostates, unworthy of the cause, as it develops in the void of the mind, pure, impossible, and bloodless.

What if you didn’t know the names of your own heroes?

“In the Ramblas they halted us while a borrowed band played some revolutionary tune or other. Once again the conquering-hero stuff — shouting and enthusiasm, red flags and red and black flags everywhere, friendly crowds thronging the pavement to have a look at us, women waving from the windows.”

“How natural it all seemed then; how remote and improbable now! The train was packed so tight with men that there was barely room even on the floor, let alone on the seats. At the last moment Williams’s wife came rushing down the platform and gave us a bottle of wine and a foot of that bright red sausage which tastes of soap and gives you diarrhoea. The train crawled out of Catalonia and on to the plateau of Aragon at the normal wartime speed of something under twenty kilometres an hour.”

Homage to Catalonia – G. Orwell.

TRACK | La Secte Du Futur – Future is Better

5/5 golden merles

From the bass synth and bass guitar out the gate intermingling, to the vocals metallic net of echo, every tone in this is great.

There are a couple buried synths in the mix, something I am deeply sympathetic to, offering up their own variant melodies to the alter of noise. They are just apparent enough to flesh things out and keep things interesting.

This gentle revisionism speaks to the chaos at the heart of the track. Whether The Future is Better or Never is better, something must change.

ALBUM | Cathedrale – Houses are Built the Same

5/5 golden merles

Toulouse-based Cathedrale have made one hell of an album in Houses are Built the Same.

The selected track here, Hidden Museum, begins with the tube amp warmed tones of some lackadaisical dueling guitars, just a bit of bass lurking underneath. The direct payoff of the well-controlled and appropriately contorted vocals arrive shortly thereafter, agreeably raving about secrets and understanding.

There is a controlled chaos that is admirably achieved here, and the vision is clear and well realized throughout. Consistently catchy and permeating vitality, this is a kind of treasure.

The instrumentation and hooks are given space to breath, the attention-trap detailing is superb, and the metered and mastering is an assemblage of worthy influences. For some larger touchstones, it is the spiritual cousins of Ought, Metric, and Protomartyr; warped but well wrapped.