Sister Cylinder

Babies in the Bardo Babies in the Bardo cassette

The hype sheet references 4AD, CABARET VOLTAIRE, Factory Records, SAVAGE REPUBLIC, and you’re damn right I’m paying attention. Decade (plus) old solo recordings the bassist from EARLY DAY MINERS (it’s cool, I had never heard of them either) unearthed and packaged for eager consumption by a new generation of gloom-obsessed, dreary-faced goth revivalists. BABIES IN THE BARDO are (were?) seizing a time, and they are making it theirs in the process. Minimal synths remain chaotic while ominous bass and loops dominate thirteen cuts driven by painfully deliberate (and casually absent) primitive drums. It’s good, y’all…it’s really good—maybe we all should dust off the recordings in our closets, just in case.

Fever Dream Horror Scene Fever Dream Horror Scene cassette

More brooding goth from Indiana. See also: SWAN WASH in this section, who share a guitarist with FEVER DREAM HORROR SCENE, and I’m going to guess that said guitarist has a lot to do with the direction of both bands. Similar melodies circle around the tracks, but this one starts slower, gloomier, and is decidedly less danceable. Things pick up slightly after the two opening tracks, both in tempo and energy, and male/female vocals play off of each other more than at the start, but it’s almost like they are trying to comfort you after bringing you so far down. Distorted guitars and meandering ’90s college rock (MERCURY REV, Homestead Records fodder, MY DAD IS DEAD) play a greater role in tracks like “Relinquary” and “Nascar,” so much that the band feels like they are floating (or fighting) towards an unattainable crescendo. Spend some time here, it’s worth the investment.

Nerd Processor A Dumb Fool, Loudly cassette

Two-piece bedroom pop outfit from Boston, MA. Mostly pretty non-offensive pop tunes, a few songs are certainly better than others, with “Alice” being my favorite of the bunch. There are some pretty fun little melodies in the woodwinds, added by one member. I would have much preferred a shorter release of just the standout tracks though, as 40-plus minutes on a single release is a bit much as a first introduction to a band.

Swan Wash Swan Wash cassette

Brooding goth with an underlying ferocity that exposes punk roots—at least I hope that’s what I’m hearing. If you deconstruct, some of the tracks tweak components of outlying commercial genres and present them as Faith or Juju-derived darkness, and it totally works. If simple, stripped-down, murky dirges with Pearl Thompson guitar melodies floating in the aether are your cup of chamomile, then Indiana’s SWAN WASH have got you in their sights.

Swan Wash The Upstairs Museum cassette

A trio from Bloomington, IN with a controlled, focused deathrock approach. Two punk-length tracks with picked guitar lines and urgent WIRE-esque vocal approach, followed by a colder, lengthier conclusion that moves from the third to the first person. Icy soundscapes compliment the static urban decay musings, lending more to this experience than what’s just on the surface. Would fit well among the early 4AD roster rather than with reverb or distortion-drenched crust-gone-goth thing that feels pretty overdone at this point.