COMP | If, When, & With Whom

5/5 golden merles

Undeniably Spared Flesh are at the pinnacle of the pump, deep in the heart of it, perched near one of the prime spigots for what remains of the corroded valve of rock. Look at this fucking line up of the beloved: Gee Tee, Zero Percent APR, EXWHITE, Billiam, MESH, Nick Normal, Cupid and The Stupids.

Mercifully, these petty thugs are united temporarily in a common cause of good: all proceeds from this release benefit the National Network of Abortion Funds.

True to their individual representations of self, the collected works are not lacking passion and composure. Far from throwaway tunes, each groups reached deep in the pocket and pulled generously from their wares, a welcome sign of solidarity in these dire times.

The compilation is a great introduction to so many inspired acts and creators in the midst of many you must already appreciate if you’ve read to paragraph four of this idiot blog. I live and breath this muck and I didn’t know about the immensely promising My Friend Cowboy or Bruise Linear. But now I do and I can store them where they belong: an endless series of tabs like tombstones in Mozilla.

Why scour through the debris later? These folks are working and making now, you can support them and their causes in real time. You’ve not got to wait for a Tiny Twerps volume to release 20-50 years after the fact, or make a costly pilgrimage to plant your dead gerbil in front of the charred remains of the Elephant 6 house. Cassettes remain at $15 on the edition of 100/$10 for .flac files.

TRACK | Liquids – My Best Friend (Stab Me In The Back Again)

5/5 golden merles

NW Indiana’s Liquids have returned with more proto garage feelings nailed onto the egg punk skeleton. Songs is more raw and seeping, less refined in production than Life is Pain Idiot. The rate at which these things degrade is variable. Less a crack in the foundation of the prior effort and more a rebuilding upon the rubble of the pile of limited releases. Half digested or about three quarters gestated, anyway, viable, and better out than in. New: now with more new.

There’s plenty of melodic invention within the parameters of the genres sterling decrepitude. And the murk it’s packed with keeps things fresh upon repeat listens. With respect to production, everything’s overheard through a wall in the next room. But there’s some preservative properties in the goo emitting from the gears into the end product; it leaves plenty of room for magic and misinterpretation.

The ‘punk’s dead’ discourse is a trope and the trope itself must die. Surely the answer is something akin to the perpetual cycle of rebirth and death much like the organisms that make it: Emerge, decline and diminish. Symbols corrupt and the language adjusts, later the symbols are replaced by something that better gets at the feeling while the old symbol rots back into the earth. There is a natural discordance of definitions in this process. Temporary end or intermittent beginning, either way it’s nice to have the document.



TRACK | Tee Vee Repairmann – Bus Stop

5/5 golden merles

From the C:/ of Ishka Edmeades, in the style of garage punk and powerful pop: some new, prolific and defiant portents for the year in death ahead. “Bus Stop” wouldn’t by any stretch of the imagination sound out of place in a Riptides/Numbers set, save maybe for its general state of tightness and refinement. A warmth of tube derived tones coincide with a lament for missed opportunities, experiments wide in the channel with the organ/lead pulsing.

For better or worse it’s a timeless track, at least for the last 50 or 60 years. That’s a lot of influence to synthesize, to reconstitute from constituent parts in some manner that again feels alive. Rest assured, he’ll keep rewiring the available woes into good hooks and relaying them over digital mainframes regardless of your support. But I for one think that it’s nice to have something this reliable that isn’t a bad thing. Most reliable things are bad. but this is good and should be encouraged.

February 10th, 2023, is the arrival of the record, the tapes and vinyls seem destined to quickly diminish. US version out on Total Punk Records in Portland.

TRACK | Frankie Traandruppel – Ocean Song (featuring bontridders)

5/5 golden merles

We previously celebrated Frankie Traandruppel’s timeless “The Darkness (Comes to town),” and on the strength of that track I am obligated to consider anything else he’s putting forward. On Yadda Yadda the most effective track is the collaboration and closer, “Ocean Song,” featuring Anderlecht’s bontridders. It’s something like unreckonable lo-fi bedroom rock stained with texture and tonal radiance.

The track is warm and refractive, a brightly self-contained geode of a tune. In it the plaintive gliding vocal scales the percussive friction of a looping synth-string sample and the steady bloom of the rhythm guitar. It’s a lot bigger than the sum of these crassly cataloged parts, concave, immense and foggy around the edges of the glittering expanse. For a sense of scale you can, for instance, pretty happily live and die in it.

It motions to you from the beach. It’s intentions aren’t clear but the attention is enough. Music is a tool that can be used for many different things. I don’t know what it does but it seems useful. Yadda Yadda is out now on Ronny Rex for the low, low cost of making up a number.

TRACK | Decomisos La Toledana – Deprisa, Deprisa

5/5 golden merles

Madrid lo-fi burning with the light, gently obscured but unquestionably recognizable. The track is transcending time through the amalgamated fuel of rock influence and intentional media consumption. And in converting this into a new unit, its value is immediately apparent. The entire demo set has that character, driving at something greater than the genre but utilizing it as a medium for the purposes of conveying. That is hopefully what you want from all art: taking what is at hand and what has resonated, and then tuning it to your own frequency. It does this.

The engine is guitar tone, a viscus echo bleeding off the lead vocal melody, and some tight and direct drumming. It’s familiarity and form that can feel frontloaded with nostalgia, as though it is a unit of articulation convenient to assign a period of your own life, characteristics that are endearing and worthy of application. You could have had it then, but you didn’t, now you do. That is the joy of the thing; another lovely arc of the echo as it emits, another good ring charted around the base, some momentum to keep moving at all or in sync to, a record of our dendrochronology.

Found through Groschi’s tireless searching, part of a four piece mix that will work perfectly as an antidote to all the Christmas playlists you will likely subjected to.

TRACK | Busted Head Racket – Wouldn’t you like 2 Know

5/5 golden merles

Bedroom lo-fi synth pop from Australia, the release from Idiotape Records (Paris) contains two ounces worth of delightful and difficult to kill earworms. The refinement is pronounced and very much appreciated: layers phasing and melodies shifting in precise sequence, the variance in lyric keeping us sated in the recurrent loops.

There’s great detailing in the margins, like the delicate death rattle production on the vocal lanes or the tinny-washed out drums that splash late on in the dying embers. It has great density to it but the appearance of pure candy and handles like a cartoon mallet: swiftly, against the odds, pleasantly gruesome.

The track features the dogged honing of hooks as previously manifested by so many of our senescent idols, by that I mean maybe it has some golden era le tigre feelings about it, maybe a touch of Metric, or of times new viking; things I like and you likely liked too.

The cost is €2 on the bandcamp for the files or €5 for the tape before shipping. See what you can do.

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 | Melaina Kol – Nu

5/5 golden merles

Melaina Kol creates Youngsville, North Carolina-based lo-fi bedroom rock. AMOSAT is layered in rich and compelling material, a delicately discordant ambiance constructed with much persistently viable misdirection stacked around the solid songwriting. “Nu” offers loads of angular pieces approaching of their own accord, an entire woven world of it to delve and get lost in, subtle hooks and abundant texture.

If I ever make anything good, I’ll have taken some lessons from this: its patience and sense of rerouting the narrative within the greater whole. There a lot of skill in guiding the persistent observer or judge in a kind of favorable figment or refracting everything in a favorable light; it’s nice to see such skill given to the refinement of experiment and innumerable unique transitions between tracks.

All of that is of value and is a kind of expertise that slowly accumulates an audience in the world, at least you hope so. It can be held by Naming your price at the bandcamp. Also check out the re-release of a set of 2017 tracks now out on tape/digital from 7th Heaven.

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.