As if fronting not one but three bands wasn’t enough for local musician Dylan Geurtsen, the maniac decided to start his own local record label, Killer Kern Records.
“Instead of collecting vintage guitars I won’t get around to playing, the money’s better spent putting it back in our local music scene,” said Geurtsen, 46. “I get to be a small part in everybody else’s band, which is awesome.”
Along with Revolution Vintage and Phantom Stranger Records, Geurtsen and Killer Kern have made some significant moves to set themselves up for 2021.
Along with new releases from Contranistas, Modern Wives, Imaginary Persons, Band Called Kevin and Make Mine Yours due out early next year, the upstart record label has two new releases out just in time for the holidays.
The first is a 7-inch orange vinyl rerelease of The Binges' 2019 singles “Bunny” and “Be You For Halloween” and the second is If It Kills You’s 2018 album “Infinite Hum” on multicolor 12-inch vinyl with your choice of pink- or blue-splattered vinyl. Both can be purchased on killerkernrecords.com.
Both of them are available for streaming digitally but this is the first time they’ll be available in a physical format.
The Binges is one of the aforementioned bands Geursten leads — with the other three-quarters of the band living in Los Angeles — and the songs are adrenaline-filled jolts of pure indie rock. “Bunny” revs with a double-time bounce (appropriate) until it opens up on the choruses. “Be You For Halloween” is a bit more dramatic, highlighting Geurtsen’s vocals and drummer Travis Smith dominating the ending with some powerful, rolling fills.
“Infinite Hum” is on a completely different planet. When I first wrote about the album on its release back in July 2019, I called it “an artifact of particular sonic intensity.”
Time has not abated that analysis. If anything, the album’s emotional punch and melodic tendencies have become more apparent and at home in our current chaos-filled reality. The album opener “We Don’t Belong Here” comes as close to a catchy singalong anthem as the group has ever written. “Repeat Resolve” maneuvers between different feels while retaining an uninterrupted flow, same with the “Further Validation” that throws in some gnarly tempo changes as well. At times, the trio sounds like what it would feel like to do jumping jacks in lava.
The closing track, “Projections” is my personal favorite. It combines all of the band’s strengths — power, musicality, mood — into a four-minute trip into inner space. Like I said in 2019, it’s "both lovely and brutal, usually simultaneously.” My opinion stands. It’s quite a remarkable song.
“Putting out records has more of a lasting impact,” said Geurtsen. “It’s far more rewarding than hoarding gear anyways.”
New from NineFingers
Speaking of sonic intensity ...
NineFingers is the nom de guerre for my 2019 artist of the year David Tetz, who was also responsible for my choice for last year’s best song, “Where the Water Meets the Earth Beneath the Sky.”
His latest full-length album, “LOOP,” is a harrowing, unmerciful trip into the heart of darkness at the middle of surviving trauma. Its harrowing intensity is balanced by Kyle Appleton’s sensitive, sparsely layered production and the delicate vocal manner in which NineFingers conveys his notes from the edge. This isn’t merely a catharsis, it’s a cleansing.
It’s a feat that merits at least one pass through NineFingers’ particular Tunnel of Horrors. One that’s ridden sitting backward as NineFingers acts as your ferryman; describing the eviscerated remnants of a lost war of love and pain like a weary Odysseus, tied to the mainmast of his ship enduring the beckoning sirens. Except here, I can’t tell if it’s the listener or the ferryman that’s the one tied to the mast.
The trip is bleak and unforgiving, yet reflective out of a sense of philosophical practicality.
After the last song, “Chicago,” and the spoken track “Benediction” (each of the six songs on the album are followed by a spoken word track) we’re gently reminded that there’s still light at the end of this particular tunnel. Much like NineFingers’ previous album, "Broken Hearts and False Starts,” released earlier this year, there’s an exposed heart at work here and the message that there’s no such thing as a Pyrrhic victory when it comes to love, just an earned solace and hopeful potential. Always potential. That sometimes you have to break things down to their bones before you can regrow and heal.
“That is what LOOP really is,” said Tetz via email. “(It’s) my demand that we truly know each other. I wrote the songs as a matter of survival, I share them in 'LOOP’ so that those others out there destroyed by addiction and suffering from trauma also understand that they are not alone nor invisible. I demand our stories be seen. We can move forward and live vibrant and happy lives, but only once the people around us accept us in our fullness of being, even the pain. Especially the pain.”
NineFingers and “LOOP” remind us that even when we are enveloped in the bitterly oppressive cold of the human heart, no one is ever truly alone or truly forever lost, no matter how many times we turn the boat around.