Dishital Weekly: AC Church, Menagerie, Nic Sanderson, The Roving Minstrels, Space Kiddettes

Dishital Weekly is COUNTERZINE’s weekly roundup of 5 digital-only releases we think are worthy of your attention. The only rules are that we like it and there’s no readily available physical version at the timing of writing. When it was released, genre, platform: none of these matter. If it’s new to us and it’s new to you, it’s new.


AC Church – Sirocco Investments

Moscow’s Evgeny Smirnov is AC Church, a psychedelic artist who crafts conceptual instrumental albums that, in his words, soundtrack the “dystopian post-global warming catastrophe world”. His third album, Sirocco Investments, sees him more fully embrace elements of experimental and noise rock, while still applying the ambient and electronic sounds that characterized his previous work. The opening title track is something of a party before the hangover, a cheery, Tropicália-infused guitar-led piece that, yes, could be described as ‘sunny’. In quick fashion, however, the temperature boils over as the album descends into Mad Max territory where the noisy, echoed, reverb-drenched guitars scorch your flesh and warp your senses and the off-kilter percussion evokes the post-industrial wasteland, rattling your brain and grinding you down into the desert sands. It’s a violent and aggressive album, but not in the traditional sense. Sirocco Investments is content to let you bake to death from over-exposure rather than outright murder you: fitting, given its themes.


Menagerie – De Niro

Japan’s Menagerie deliver the ‘cool boy romantic’ power pop punk goodness on De Niro, the band’s second all-too-brief but absolutely stellar and addicting EP. Every song is an absolute smash hit, but we’re especially fond of the joyful “Travolta”, which is so cool that they tell you outright the hand claps are coming, and they never do, and the sweet, slow closer “Unreliable Man” (which we’ll admit is adorable and a just a bit funny as the opening lyric sounds quite a bit like “I am the library man”, even though we know that’s not it).

If you’re desperate to fill the whole in your life the Exploding Hearts left, Menagerie should be on the absolute top of your priority list. Dirtnap should also probably sign them. Eight minutes is nowhere near enough Menagerie, so make sure you check out their debut EP J. Fox as well.


Nic Sanderson – Eater EP

Philadelphia’s Nic Sanderson returns with his Eater EP, five tracks of woozy lo-fi post-punk. A departure from his more stripped down, high energy debut LP Blurry BeingEater EP is more brooding and experimental in nature, with hypnagogic production qualities and a heavy emphasis on synths. If we had to make a comparison, imagine Mike Krol fronting Total Control. Be sure to check out his debut as well which is, again, a whole different but equally impressive beast. We’ll make another low-rent comparison here: Violent Femmes goes garage rock.


The Roving Minstrels – s/t

New York’s The Roving Minstrels make the type of intimate, lightly produced rock ‘n’ roll that delights in trapping you with a false sense of security, with its warm horns soothing the listener into a relaxed state before exploding into riotous out-pours of emotional vocals and blues guitar riffs that rattle and chug at breakneck speed. The foremost example of this is opener “Drunken Sailor”, the second half of which is about as headbanging as a song gets without fully transforming into metal or punk. No duds here, but we especially love that one and “Tala”, the album’s cozy, romantic ballad. It’s all about the horns.


Space Kiddettes – Domestic Adventures

Domestic Adventures represents an artistic leap forward for queer Houstonian DIY pop duo Space Kiddettes in every conceivable way, from songwriting to production to performance to straight up confidence. Devin Will and Trent Lira’s music occupies the bizarre cross-section of eighties LGBTQ+ synthpop (standout “Plain” moves like a Pet Shop Boys tune with its downtrodden verses leading into cascading synth choruses, but its lyrical content is reminiscent of Soft Cell’s “Frustration”), retro gaming worship (the opening of “Process Ü” and pulsing laser lead adorned “OutRun”, named for the Sega arcade racer), glee club, and kid’s show music, with just a touch of experimentation (the modulated Coyote Bloodbath spoken-word section bleeding into the punk bridge on “Square”).

Recently signed to Wormhole Records, the duo have also just released a video for their new song “P.S.A.”, which is to be featured on an upcoming collaboration-focused LP. The glee club aspect is really cranked up on this one, with a hint of the Buggles shining through, particularly on the back-and-forth layered vocal bridge. Hip-hop/pop diva STOO (who will be releasing their debut album SUPERSUIT next month) is the feature here, delivering an unmistakable and anachronistic verse that forcibly yanks the VHS aesthetic of the video into the 21st century (“I’m the bomb dot com / Can’t be duplicated”). It might all be a bit too ‘pop’, if only it weren’t so tongue-in-cheek and absolutely nuts.

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