Digital Hotdogs

Kyle Carpenter Every Third Word cassette

Stripped-down four-track pop/folk from Austin, Texas. It’s like SHOP ASSISTANTS deconstructed, or maybe the mellow cut on a college rock record that never quite kicks in and lulls you into liking it. CARPENTER occasionally wanders too close to commercial coffee shop sounds, but those moments are (mostly) tempered by cuts like “Blatant Windows” that push the boundaries of lo-fi DIY pop…actually, that track and “Leech” are pretty much the only real burners, but there’s enough weirdness here to keep me interested (at least by keeping me guessing).

Leche Gas Powered Guillotine cassette

With a number of releases already under their belt, LECHE from Austin, TX returns with a new six-song cassette EP. A band that is rather difficult to pinpoint with a specific sound, LECHE meanders around many subgenres contained within the greater, all-encompassing “punk” umbrella. Best I can come up with is that they are a cowpunk take on Southern rock (maybe mostly due to that wildly long “Freebird”-type guitar solo to end one song, yeesh) with a peppering of noise rock and speed metal, all tied together by the satirical stream-of-consciousness style ramblings of the vocalist—that last part is most prevalent on the song “Premium Suffrage,” written from the perspective of a country club member kicking non-members off the basketball court that has been reserved for his company two-on-two basketball tournament.

Musclegoose No Country for Old Buffet cassette

I wish the name weren’t so dumb, because the band is damn good. Tinges of ’90s Sacto punk (LIZARDS, SEWER TROUT), but it also reminds me of the Middle America scenes where you can actually do whatever you want because none of you are cool anyway. So who fukkn cares if you are equal parts JESUS LIZARD and KRUNCHIES? You’re from Arkansas, and no one except some middle aged twerp in California is going to take you seriously anyway. But I do, MUSCLEGOOSE…I truly do.

The Deadbeat Club Vital Earnings cassette

The folks at Digital Hotdogs are freaks, let’s just get that straight right away. You never know what you’re going to get, which is why I always enjoy reaching into their folds to see what kind of sweaty goods come out. And just when I brace myself for some erratic drug-addled mania, I get the DEADBEAT CLUB, who play it straight and just kill the hordes of ethereal pop hacks on Vital Earnings. The whole tape seems like it just materialized from the mist still lingering from 1989, blatant and brilliant VALENTINE, TWINS, OCEAN BLUE lifts and a positively dreamy vibe on cuts like “Lucy Should Start a Band” and “Raceless Case.” They branch out here and there, veering towards more minimal sounds comprised of the same base elements…just a few cautious steps removed. And this is why I keep looking towards this damn label—because I like to be surprised and I like to be forced out of my comfort zone, even if I’m just being pushed into the arms of comforts past. Excellent recording across the board.

Trashdog Sittin On My Head cassette

Take a deep breath, kids, this one is a true fucker. Sittin On My Head sounds like five bands sitting on my damn head at the same time. Snappy high-speed garage punk, jangly college alt, sample-laden freak sounds, and T. REX worship all mashed up like a drug cocktail for my earholes.

V/A DGHD-50 cassette

Why not celebrate your 50th release with a 30 track compilation? From freakout synth jams to jerky garage punk to… well, there’s lots of jerky hi-energy garage punk, but that’s fine. There are also several tracks that scream early ’90s college/alternative rock (SAWA MELON, RIOT PUNCH), but they scream it really well, and there are legit hardcore slammers like LECHE in the mix, too. Packed entirely with bands I had never heard of, including MEAT SWEATS, WASTE MAN, COUNTY BOYS, LUVWEB, UNCLE JESUS, BETTY GOOP, PROM THREAT and waaaaaay more. DGHD-50 packs a shockingly favorable ratio of excellent : interesting : forgettable for a compilation with 30 new-to-me acts. “Commodity” from LATE and KNIFE HAND’s “Big Rig” are among the killerest cuts I’ve heard this month.

V/A Fuselage cassette

Austin indie/post-punk project with a ten-song cassette featuring “guest” vocals from their friends…it’s a good concept, and the result is something that sounds more like a comp than a “release.” From the dreary indie shoegaze of “Needle” (ft. MIND SPIDERS’ guitarist) to the dark “Absolved” (I’ve lost my faith in God) and the angular post-punk of “I Chase Cars” (ft. WARP’s Tika Hall). Throw in a couple of instrumentals, and a poem set to music (“Early Morning Cigarette”) and I’m going to want to spend some time with this one. Also—I stayed in the drummer’s mom’s house like twenty years ago…punk is weird, y’all.