TRACK | MENU – Sorcery

5/5 golden merles

“Sorcery” is the first single off the upcoming album from MENU, Pushpin, out October 31st. It follows in the vein of April’s superb/experimental art rock PROOFS (OF THE TRICKS WE PLAYED). It heads off expectations, narrowly avoiding them, in pacing and then pivoting, grappling with guts of the track and turning them back into functional systems of consequence. In playing with tradition through a kind of invention it is achieving a type of escape velocity.

It has some semblance to the works of Flegel/Women/Cindy Lee in the emergence of delicately over elaborated melodies that turn out to be entirely and immediately structurally sound; that selfsame feeling of walking out into the dark and finding sure footing. The presence of the drums is compelling and propulsive, more so than supportive and undergirding. There is some energy in its construct, as if to say: What if traces of math rock could be enjoyed by humans? A proposition I hadn’t seriously considered. But there are tinges and tints to this of that, humanely and held all together.

Look for the album at the end of the spooky month. For now the single is a sole dollar on the bandcamp for the digital experience, which directly supports the artist. Or you could wait and listen to it on Spotify approximately 277 times and the royalties will also accrue to roughly one dollar (not including the fees of distribution).

TRACK | Honey Radar – Puppet Scripts by the Month

5/5 golden merles

Philly-situated Honey Radar’s newest release is lo-fi rock in line with the high ethic and aesthetic of their own catalogs admirable forebears. Never disappointed, I’ve either always enjoyed it or the first dose quickly mutated me to favor it. There is pathos without treacle, it lives like an apple built around the core. It’s denser at the center. Not like these other songs generated by a team of maestros in a lab, those built without stems, excised from history.

The melody walks along the tops of fences as you drive past. An astutely stagnant vocal core adroitly falls into that melody’s creased fold, the bass is quietly breathing down the barrel of the amp somewhere off camera. Friends and concerned citizens telling me to turn the vocals up: no. This is what a successful version looks like of what I am flailing towards; that restive lurch that contains a furtive narrative, somewhat secluded, intelligible enough; a lyric sheet later to be read at leisure.

Please also see Medium Mary Todd and Scorpions bought me Breakfast, if your fond. A family affair, the full split with Smug Brothers is out presently on Indy’s Third Uncle Records, black vinyl for $10 or $6 for the file share.

TRACK | MENU – Actually Dreaming

5/5 golden merles

“Actually dreaming” is a thing of lo-fi shoegaze and uninhibited abstraction. It was summoned in or near Philadelphia. It has a great sense of how long to linger in the status, levels with you, offers a stasis of texture and tone, any intent amplified by their deteriorated beauty. Rarely is your patience punished here, cutting content with form in an imminently compelling fashion.

Concentric in form for the most part, each loop banishing another or building off its remains. You can more or less see what you like in its patterns, it’s a foggy mirror with some writing you got to breath on a bit to see. There’s lots of graceful skulking about and premonitions of indeterminate value. Lately, if Eno/Ricky landed, maybe this will too for you; a means and agent for teasing your own ideas out, another kind of catalyst for coherency.

Generally speaking I am suspicious of abstraction as it can be a salve for my enemies. However (!) with this much form/balance and pulse there are always exceptions. Original found on Tremendo Garaje via the intrepid scouting of @u2_is_a_government_drone / Sims / Mesh.

TRACK | Bleeding Rainbow – Underground

5/5 golden merles

From Pennsylvania-based noise makers Bleeding Rainbow‘s 2010 Prism Eyes EP, “Underground” is bright and radiant rock. Some unique genre contamination in the shoegaze and punk elements and structure, it’s a kind of modular pop chimera. With the aural vocal phrasing stacked in two lanes, the miscellany of influences are always serving foremost melody.

Frenetic, everything pushes constantly forward. There is a proactive panic that elides stagnation, rapidly circumnavigates the drudgery of taking a breath, or pause, or a moments silence. Every vowel is elongated to enwrap the line and seemingly also to cushion the final blow: who can direct us where to go / my mind’s made up / the answer’s ‘no.’

The internet promises that the Hozac discs still exist in the world, and some of which are gold.

TRACK | Toe Ring – This is the End

5/5 golden merles

In 2021 Philadelphia-based Toe Ring posted two strong No Wave/ Post-Punk / Lo-Fi / EPs, Collapsed Mine // This is the End and II. Shimmering and sculpted into a small dense wonderous specters, there are four well arranged and illuminated noise pop tracks found here.

I condone this behavior. A few months later there was a tape of these combined sets put out on Spared Flesh (Also recently released C.A.T.S. 99 Ways To Fix a Broken Heart). Technically the tape was released 2022, January, so scratch a line off that rough draft of a year-end list.

But these landfillable artifacts are sold out, their forced scarcity a luxury you literally can no longer afford. How about purchasing the digital version, transferring it to your own tape deck, and printing out the cover instead? That would be a nice little project for you.

TRACK | Honey Radar – Scorpions Bought Me Breakfast

5/5 golden merles

“Scorpions Bought Me Breakfast” is a rich and winding series of simple melodies, woven into a shelter, the bringing together of scraps providing a place to return to. Like almost anything good and well thought of after, at a minute in length it is almost over before it’s begun.

The rasp of a drum clacks like the sound made by the spokes on the moon lander, or the rattle of the ice machine at the in-house café of Cape Canaveral. The bass is the alternate shadow realm variation of the surface dwelling dueling melody provided by the staggered vocal and lead guitar.

I am a firm proponent of the “start small and build things of significance” model of songwriting and this is a prime example. It is drenched in style and feels like a semi-conscious novella, a dream derived from the nap.

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 | Dr. Dog – Where’d All The Time Go?

5/5 golden merles

Every now and then you have the realization that these are more or less the good old days. That this will be the idealized era, later, despite how it all may seems day-to-day.

Stagnation from a position of decline will have relative superiority. The stress and unease will be forgotten, whether we survive or not/in either case. And the rest will be survivors bias, and how it all seemed inevitable in retrospect.

If you can have a song that is earnest in its recollecting without the rose-tinted glasses or losing the shape of the thing in the glare of some golden era, maybe this is it.

and when the fog rises / somebody sighs
who is not in disguise anymore

Alongside the well detailed and comprehensive inclusion of the faults, there is included even a kind of nostalgia for the collapse. There is a fidelity and as fair an account as is possible by one who remains to do it.