TRACK | Jason Hill – They Like Me, They Love Me

5/5 golden merles

Experimental LA pop rock from Jason Hill, “They Like Me, They Love Me” is a dreamy and delicately disoriented tune. Lyrically ponderous, an obsessive narrative yarn is delivered concerning personal presentation and the series stories that ultimately construct the self. The tale is told over some faded percussive gears and accented with a richly detailed accompaniment that allows the 4:45 runtime to feel positively tight. There’s a lot of pretty shimmer coinciding with the dreary divulging, everything broken up in an intriguing elaboration.

The tune has rightly captured the feel of an interrogation, including the competing of illusions and a progressively faltering devotion to a lie. A cello punctuates the middle movements as the rhythm guitar sways across the soundscape, dancing by itself on the periphery. Vocal layers clamber along the octaves, corroborating in the chorus half the time, probably contradicting elsewhere. All of that lumbers harmoniously along, graceful enough to warrant further study.

There’s a great warm wrath to it, derived from fermented fog and bottled in. The track was featured in Netflix’s The Confession Killer and written from the perspective of Henry Lee Lucas, “once suspected to be the biggest serial killer of all time but was really just a serial liar.” It stands up on its own, the wilted and creaking confessional, but you get the feeling there’s further illumination in the coupling of these spectacles. What’s the harm in hearing what they have to say?

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 | 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 | Dumb Idea – Piece By Piece

5/5 golden merles

The Freakin’ Split is two great sets of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, hardcore/punk in which each track burns brightly if briefly into existence. The cast amends and shuffles midway throughout but everything seems to share a common vision. Of course I latch onto maybe the most accessible segment and gesture toward the proverbial pasture: “Piece by Piece,” the rampant closer in which late on the tempo shifts and hints at what is to come, some further prospects of recourse to take when navigating a culture that is combusting all around us.

If you’re feeling some resonance with it after 10 seconds, the whole set comes as a great relief. I may prefer Side A overall, but this is my favorite individual track. All across the runtime the form and function operate on the terms of the genre, but bigger, distinctly so, starkly within their own individuated/inventive modes of conduct, if you’re familiar enough to appreciate the terms. There’s tons of capable nuance in the alternating, impaled drum and octave scaling guitar; every modestly elongated track is rich in careful detail that is then smashed in celebration right in front of you.

If that is your idea of fun then probably you should buy the digital album from Earth Girl Tapes, name your price on the bandcamp.

TRACK | Stuck – Do Not Reply

5/5 golden merles

Eloquent Chicago post-punk embracing the only remaining righteous fury, “Do Not Reply” corroborates your feeling that the present strait we reside within is relatively dire. Early on the tempo shifts and scales with the realization of these guiding affirmations, “I see you thrive / but I just know your soul’s diseased.” If we are to address the rot at the core of our civilization (…the leeches at the top which insatiably siphon wealth to such extreme severity with no regard for the common good) the language of morality, as it is here, must be employed to express the enormity of the grievance.

If you’re looking for escape then look elsewhere, this is commiseration, for humans as they were traditionally known, prior to incorporation, with aspersions directed at the insatiable ghouls that head our oligarchy. Miranda Winters lends chorus to the band, layering and reinforcing the accusations, shoring up a united front confluent to address these unjust hierarchies. Even the title speaks clearly to the alienation of the era: being contacted but unable to reply to the relentless barrage of bullshit to which we are inundated with impunity…

It remains yet to be seen if we can acquire a future worth having, to pry it from the hands of mediocre men upon seemingly unassailable pedestals of capital. If we don’t hedge and cower our way toward that new and immediate hell they envision, something will need to be done about turning that pedestal into a pyre.

Anyhow, it doesn’t matter. Just try to consume things you’re ideologically aligned with and support their labor. It is $1 on the bandcamp if you’re not already hopelessly indebted.

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 | 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 | 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.

TRACK | FEN FEN – Insect

5/5 golden merles

Detroit’s FEN FEN have been building a steady stack solid garage punk singles in this year of our absent lord 2022, intimating a great record is forthcoming. “Insect” has hooks you’ll be required to gnaw your own foot to get free of and a gold plated vocal delivery that seems destined to vomit up in harried yelp and shriek prognostications.

It’s ably and faithfully routing the riffs into a sequence while gently blurring and warping the edges of historical precedent for the genre. Otherwise the bulk is hearty fundamentals flailing in the common era, an addendum to the accursed pleas stretching back a generation; the act of devotedly keeping the nightmare alive.

Detroit is experimenting and deconstructing the form, there’s so much good pouring out of those damn lakes around Chicago and Cleveland. Tremendo Garaje has the video. Name your price on the bandcamp.

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.