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 | 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 | 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.

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 | Palánta – Éhség

5/5 golden merles

Hardcore synth punk from Budapest, “Éhség” is the 3rd track on Palánta’s super demo. Melodies allocate across the runtime like a fine cognitive dissonance, only in stepping back through the frames and on repetition are we able to admire the whole from outside. While it is not a servant to structural form, it maintains a steady groove inside the atomic levels with undeniable tones and talons. All passion and experiment, what is provided is plenty compelling.

When the vocal hands off the melody 90 seconds in, the relay refines further. Through the strong performance is transmitted a tale of merger through devouring, the escalating and the colliding. There is a metamorphosis recounted, achieved through ritualized abuse or hunger and dehumanization, the conscripted contortions of nature dubbed natural. Sneering and smirking at history, we continue to repeat every mistake, possibly by design.

The set is coming soon in a physical form through SZÉGYEN KAZETTÁK. For now, name your price on the digital wares. Found through the reliable stewards of rock at Tremendo Garaje.

TRACK | DADAR – Desperate

5/5 golden merles

“Desperate” is the immediately engaging opening track on DADAR’s new Italian eggpunk repeater Iron Cage. Gleaming lo-fi synth punk, the track concerns a particularly heavy son stealing away from daylight, pinning himself private in his chamber, shutting up his windows, locking fair daylight out and making himself an artificial night. It is effectively nailing the froth and fever of confinement, self-imposed or otherwise.

The guitars have the proper amount of jangle and bluster, the production consistently owning the excess, everything is gilded in synths. At times it approaches hardcore and anthemic in the vocal ranges, the accompaniment always elevating to meet it in these new plateaus and vistas. A nice fire to gather around, offering commiseration in mutinous hymns.

I am slightly belatedly joining the chorus in bleeding the needle up another notch. I was excited to see it pop up on Tremendo Garaje, KOOP Stronger Than Dirt, and other reliable buyers overnight. When a set of consistent nodes crop up like that it is a very good sign. And the remaining 300 LP discs cannot last long from Goodbye Boozy/Teramo.

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.