Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Twelve Courses? Your Point Being?

Just a short post about Point Being, a new band out of Sydney that features Nite Fields' Liza Harper (yes, they are still very much alive and kicking - more on that very soon...). The four piece is much more agitated and raucous than the gossamer crawl of that band though, as 'Degustation' clearly displays. The lines "You're not invited/But you come anyway" is pretty great, delivered in a tone that makes it almost impossible to work out if he is pissed off or laconically cheering the usurper along. That kind of ambiguity lends the song a buoyant edge - irrespective of whether the intrusions are wanted or not.

Point Being recently supported Day Ravies alongside Bare Grillz, and their next Sydney show is supporting Bearhug and Step-Panther - a regular Sonic Masala love-a-thon.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Old Tesla Enduro Branca

I came across this last night - the vinyl for Negra Branca's excellent self-titled release from last year. It's a warped soul train caught in a vat of sparkling amber, forever floating through the spaces between. The discombobulated vocals of Marlene Ribiero are bewitching, an effortless sine wave that weaves in with the hypnotic beats, played out like a trip-hop ascension to the holy gates of eternal bliss. just a trigger hair from a narcoleptic dive into damnation. Negra Branca is a dark yet transcendental release - and seeing as Ribiero is familiar with creating dark, transcendental music of a different kind through her associations with Gnod, it's not that much of a surprise that this is where we end up - a bad acid sworl with shards of light spiking the darkness. Get it here.

Take A Puff On Germanic Nihilism

Slovenly Records often put out some really frazzled, wild-eyed rock. Things get just as warped on their label offshoot, Mondo Mongo, dedicated to putting out punk from other countries sung in their native tongue. The explosive punk of Puff, hailing from Berlin, is a great introduction to this new tangent - but in many ways its business as usual, all spit, sweat and venom. A German Ian Curtis hopped up on coke and nihilistic mores, or a demented Iceage shadow blast with added synth meltdowns - a leather-clad carnivale of gargantuan grotesquerie. The blurb states that Puff kills party people on contact, but it's more likely they are reborn crack-lord acolytes, puffing til the end of time.

Grab Identitatsverlust here - check out that cover art - brilliant.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

I Believe In Lightning

You need to get into Lightning Records and its quarterly magazine and its Tumblr and its art and its one-off releases. I want to say way more but I'm fried. I'm listening to the People of the North song. On repeat. It probably sounds even better not fried, but then probably not too. They've released stuff by Wooden Wand and Cy Dune too, and support a lot of cool stuff, like Sam Amidon and Pontiak. It's a collective that I want everyone to be involved in. I believe in Lightning.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

A Wet Education

Geelong, you are excelling at stupid punk rock I do admit. My current favourite (and I was told about these guys by Jake from Ausmuteants the only time I have met him, at the Tote back in May when he and Roland (Cobwebbs/Barbiturates) were telling me about Drug Sweat, so it's my fault it's taken so long) is Wet Blankets. This trio roll up, smash out some distinctly Australian punk, and roll out, a toxic wasteland in their wake. They have just released Hex Education Hour through Italian label Goodbye Boozy, and this 7" doesn't fuck about. But then again, it kinda does. For just when the bedrock of the songs sound aggressive and bug-eyed, they sing about Dave n Joyce. It's raw, it's powerful, it's tight and yet somehow loose as fuck - with all songs barely breaching a minute. Wet Blankets is the kind of band that should do weddings. ALL OF THEM.

Grab Hex Education Hour here.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Video Vacuum - Ty Segall, Cloud Nothings, Goat, Mere Women

Not sure what you are doing on a Friday night. I just worked my first shift on the other side of a bar in about six years, and am now drinking in my lounge room, thinking where did it all go wrong. Not really. This beer is pretty killer. Plus I have all this good music to keep me company...

There used to be a time when just about every second post here was about Ty Segall. Don't worry - the love affair continues. I just don't need to go on about it - everyone is in on the secret. The wunderkind's new record Manipulator is rad as, and whilst the video for the title track is better, there is something perennial about 'The Singer' that I never get sick of. Truly inhabiting the British side of 60s rock here, with flushes of Bolan-esque grandiosity - what's not to like? This song is like the day I spent an entire day drinking in a pool on my own, beer bottles floating around my inflatable lounge, the occasional spliff, and T-Rex, Masters Apprentice and The Kinks blasting out of the stereo. I can't remember much about that two year stretch of 2003-04, but damn that was one of the best bloody days of my life. Thanks for reminding me of the best times, Ty.

Let's get even more blasted then with Goat. These guys don't know how to water down the smoky broth, do they? This film clip for 'Hide From The Sun' (the song reminds me of the Swedish band's attempt at covering the weird Soundgarden song 'Half' for some reason - and making it infinitely better) is filled with masks, excellent paper animation a la Where The Wild Things Are, pagan iconography, primary colours, ritualistic dancing... If Tarsem Singh could learn restraint without giving up his incredible artistic visuals, this would be the type of film he could make. Man, imagine him remaking The Wicker Man...actually, don't.

I just saw Frank last week. Like many things, my fiancee and I totally disagreed about it. I thought it was a pretty great insight into experimental and experiential creativity. Now I'm not going to say that Cloud Nothings give me that same kind of insight - and yeah, the papier mache head in 'Now Hear In' is the main connection here - but the freedom that Dylan Baldi seems to have garnered since leaving his (still pretty great) sugary sweet guitar pop behind for 90s indie-inflected grunge angst seems to have opened the floodgates to a vitality that was hitherto absent. I'm sure my fiancee would disagree though.

I like seeing landscapes shot from moving cars. I don't know why. I guess I like movement and landscape and travel. So there are elements in Mere Women's 'Heave Ho' that I am inherently drawn to. I love the dude visiting the aquarium even more though. So many videos claim to invoke a "character" living out a day. This narcoleptic sojourn through Tokyo feels more lost-in-translation than Lost In Translation - its surreal and hallucinogenic and vague - feels like my life. Plus it's the visual accompaniment to a track from one of the most intriguing albums of the year. If you haven't bought Your Town yet, DO IT NOW YOU IDIOT! And buy a jellyfish while you're at it.

Carry on.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

No Manatee(e)s Just MVPs

This post was meant to be about Manateees' new record - but I lost it. Somehow I deleted the entire album (yes, it's one that I don't have a physical of, sorry...) and in its place was this 7" by UK bluesy punks Thee MVPs (who have a connection with the cool PNKSLM label). Oh Sally is actually on Slovenly Records - and when you hear 'Amok Time' you will know why. Some fucked up rockabilly with references to Fenders named Sally and Star Trek (maybe) - all imminently playable, ready made to sweat out and consume a ridiculous amount of alcohol with no recourse (until the next morning when you start drinking again, that is). This is great.

Pick up Oh Sally here. Ill get to that Manateees record some day...

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

A New Day Ravies On The Other Side Of The Fence

A short blast of Day Ravies skewed glaze, just in time for their venture to Brisbane for this weekend's excellent The Blurst of Times festival. Sub two minutes of soporific gauze infused with a shimmering heat and tension in an intricate balancing act that the Sydneysiders are making indelibly their own. A much beloved band that nonetheless still feel underappreciated - these guys should be the toast of Australia. Let's hope their next foray into the recording phase is as fervently feverish as this.

Can You Hear Unpeople On The Stereo?

Who wants some stupid and stupidly loud scuzz punk Draino for the soul? Unpeople is your brand. Led by a snarling, demented Sean Campion (Multiple Man), this ever expanding Brisbane cohort (featuring members of Occults, Last Chaos, Woodboot and more - last count was they wanted five guitarists) are tearing a hole in the sewer, flooding your system with their demented bile and shit. This isn't a band of hate though - everything about this band is about taking the pigfuck route without being angry, or even fucking pigs (that is what that maligned genre name should stand for anyway - I am sure Yow was never far off that copulation). Thrash, growl, laugh, cry. Let loose all control of all spasming muscles and enjoy the release - become one of the Unpeople.

You can get this cassette (out through Blow Blood Records) here.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Sea Shall Not Have Them Again

In November 2012 I had just finished off a year of putting on gigs under the Sonic Masala banner with the album launch for Gold Coast-based instrumental duo The Sea Shall Not Have Them. That album, Mouth, was one of my favourites of that year, a totally underappreciated post-rock-metal-whatever piece that held considerable heft seeing that only two men were responsible for that racket. Since that show they have gone on to support both Russian Circles and Pelican, and have now released new EP Walking Through Walls/Elim. The two track release clocks in at 24 minutes, so there needs to be a lot of time invested in this - but God is it worth it. I have to say that this is not only the best thing that TSSNHT has done - but it's the best release of this ilk I have heard this year. It is a perilous task nowadays to craft instrumental rock without it sounding in any way derivative. The two songs here - the fourteen minute behemoth 'Walking Through Walls' and the "minuscule" ten minute 'Elim' - focus on building a cavernous atmosphere, bleeding out the nuances and emotions, with a delay and slightly dulled production that shaves the edge off the band's precision. This is an imminently good thing because most "post-rock" bands in this day and age focus so much on precision and production values, that there is no mystique involved - it is all contrived and obvious. The chimes in 'Walking Through Walls' gives a Mono delicacy - there is a patience here at building the layers, rather than a join-the-dots necessity to drag a tune out minute after minute. 'Elim' has a more sinister bent but is nonetheless patient in doling out the atmospherics. And when the catharsis arrives, it isn't in an explosion of noise and theatrics (and don't get me wrong, I love that when it's done right - that's why Mogwai is my favourite live band) but a controlled roar that never loses focus. This isn't about ticking boxes. It is a little grandiose - the piano in the last element of 'Elim' in particular - but grandiosity is welcome when the foundations warrant it.

Grab Walking Through Walls/Elim here.

No One Says Pronto When You're Gone

I never thought I would say this - but it looks like we have another Cannon on our hands. That loose-as-fuck party punk meltdown of a band from Brisbane know how to wrap up a hook in cellophane and goon, ram it down your throat and make it the damned best experience of your life, even as your stomach is pumped. And yet here we are with Pronto, a five-piece from Melbourne who are all about thrashing about maniacally, partying hard and somehow keeping the garage rock juggernaut on its tracks - and even when they caterwaul into destruction, it's down with a dumb grin plastered over their gurning mugs. There are harder edges under the drool - 'Shut Up' and 'Red Flag' in the middle of the album has a steel spine that reminds you what a punk gig used to be like. But above all else, When You're Gone plays out like an origin story: a drunk dude stumbled on stage, grabbed the mic and let loose - and no one, least of all the band, is brave enough to wrestle him from it. The band joins in, because after all he will tire himself and puke on his worn BOMP Records shirt in a minute, right? But he doesn't. And he endears himself to this band. And Pronto is born. And the world is saved, and destroyed. A sequel is imminent.

When You're Gone is out through Off The Hip Records - get it here.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Xylouris White's Chicken Song Is Punk As Fuck

I had to post this. I was writing a review of Goats, the excellent album that melds the minds of Cretan folk legend George Xylouris and Dirty Three drummer Jim White (as Xylouris White). As the review only is 100 words long, some of the review was cut. Including the above phrase. Well it actually went 'And 'Chicken Song' is the one song where White and Xylouris get dark, mystical and punk as fuck.' The reworkings of traditional machinations into the musical genius of these two twisted troubadours is great, yet not many people may prescribe to such a outlandish claim - but I stand steadfastly by it. There is a sinuous, almost sinister groove that insinuates itself at the core of 'Chicken Song', taking it from European or Eastern composition, caricature or appropriation, and moving it into a sonic plateau all its own - with serious attitude to burn. There are many more great songs on Goats - it's an incredible suite of rhythmic interplay, both mischievous and elegant, a series of games that the duo play where the winner invariably is the listener - but 'Chicken Song' displays just how kindred their spirits really are. Let's hope for many more collaborative efforts between Xylouris and White if this is anything to go by.

Goats (which was also produced by Guy Picciotto from seminal outfit Fugazi) is out through Other Music Co - get it here.

Culled From Magi Fuel

Sydney atmospheric dreamers Cull have come out with a single in 'Magi Fuel' that is multi-faceted - it's spiky yet languid, warped yet layered, streamlined yet running at right-angles. The weird effects breakdown in the final third is both creepy and energising; Chumpy Ly's guitar and falsetto drifting in and out of the melange of sounds, both orchestrating and being guided by the natural lifeblood of the song. It toys with shoegaze and muzak - elevator music for a environmental utopia/dystopia narrative.

'Magi Fuel' comes from a new EP of the same name that'll be out soon. Looking forward to it.

A Not-so-subtle Turn Of The Homeless Hips

Let's start the week with some unhinged French punk rock, yeah? Subtle Turnhips actually brought Redhair With Some out back in June (through great Aussie label Homeless Records no less) but it slipped through my fingers until this weekend. As I was charring sausages to within an inch of their lives, smoke billowing around me, a pint near at hand, the meltdowns this trio dole out fit perfectly with my fried mind. It swings from crunchy blues with feral hues to gravel-rash gutter punk and broken glass rock, all with unfettered, crazy-eyed abandon. And the connection to Homeless is clear from the bent-string anarchy of 'Cousin' and the last-gasp whisky rasp of 'Digit (five)' to the (suppression) rings being run on 'Slime'. Redhair With Some is the missing link in Franco-Oz punxploitation (even the artwork is like a lewd reimagining of a Mick Turner/Dirty Three watercolour) - get it here.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Video Vacuum - Dean Blunt, A Kenny For Your Thoughts, Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders, Las Tetas

Normally I do a Video Vacuum for the weekday when the working grind is bearing down on us (me). This Sunday I am buried in bed, watching British folk horror movies. And these music videos. Come nestle in beside me.

Dean Blunt a force unto himself - a part of the enigmatic genius of Hype Williams, and just as beguiling on his own. Here is the clip for 'Trident' - half slow motion inner city unease with ambient brew, before the discordant groove finally smashes through. The otherworldly beats and Blunt's voice echoing from the dark depths, equal parts aggression and ominous croon, combine to present a narcoleptic spiral into a disturbed netherworld. Excellent. And for good measure - here is 'Trident Pt 2".

Liam Kenny's solo downward slide A Kenny For Your Thoughts is something else, right? And finally we have some visuals to go with this electronic melting pot of eclectic nihilism. 'Avalanche' is such a great industrial grind pop song (or something), and the smoky dinge, sordid card games and lurid Aussie currency pile is custom-built for Kenny's skewed work. The fade out B&W and the bleeding colour swaps add to the mind melt pyrotechnics. Brilliant.

Jackie Lads (Jack Ladder to you) and his Dreamlanders are bailing Hurtsville and have a podium riding Sharon Van Etten in tow for 'Come On Back This Way'. His is a truly idiosyncratic approach knows no bounds - this is 80s lounge croon, C&W twang brood, and with a slide guitar solo from a man with a glowing hook for a hand - just in time for some good damn coffee. Now where is that backwards talking dwarf when you need him? Brilliant.

And we finish up out on The Plains with Las Tetas. A film clip that plays out like a kitchen-sink realist approach to Gummo, middle class Antipodean style, this video has me transfixed. There isn't anything overly sordid about the whole piece, but (for the second Lynchian parallel) there is something hidden amongst the grass behind the white picket fence here. Especially digging that fat bassline that reverberates over the top of everything, refusing to stay buried (just like that bloody severed ear). Brilliant.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

A Winged Victory...

I was waiting for the Tube yesterday and saw this poster for an event in January 2015 called Minimalism Unwrapped (and yes the excellent photography above is from yours truly). The first names that jumped out at me was obviously Steve Reich and Scanner. The second though was A Winged Victory For The Sullen, which was more of a surprise as I had only heard of them twenty four hours beforehand. Coincidence? I think not...or probably.

Anyway, A Winged Victory For The Sullen is a duo who make incredibly haunting and uplifting ambient tapestries. It isn't surprising these guys are so adept at crafting intricate aural infinities - Adam Wiltzie is Stars Of The Lid and played in Sparklehorse whilst Dustin O'Halloran is a composer. They have just released second album Atomos and it is breathtaking. Made as a score for a dance piece performed at Sadlers Well in London, the suite of songs hang together like gossamer in twilight, an effervescent mirage of texture, grandiose in the most primal sense, strings, piano and electronica melding together to melt the hardest of hearts.

You can buy Atomos in beautiful clear double vinyl through Erased Tapes here, and tickets to Minimalism Unwrapped here. Both are/will be amazing.

Unknown Broken Shards

Just a quickfire post about a release I wish more people knew about (including myself). Shards are a Melbourne band - and that's about all I know. Except that this cathartic, cacophonous mess that is their debut album is a guitar maelstrom of tension. Even when the noise is unleashed - which is quite often - there is no relent, no release. Ratcheted up to the nth degree, Shards splinters and fractures and reforms as before, coiled for another attack. 'Morning Song' hits you in a subtler way - a broken whimsy that seems windswept and breezy but is just as desperate as the assaults of  'Play' and the brooding storm of 'Hanging Around'. There is lyrical abasement and navel-gazing, all delivered in a drawled strangle. It's great. More please.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Hits From The Box #87 - The Cricketers' Devil's Number

We have hit the 87th edition of Hits From The Box. There should have been heaps more to be honest, but these are unwieldy buggers and it's quite amazing that we have gotten this far - come on, I have only done three drone columns since the start of the year on what was supposed to be a weekly sojourn into the noisy unknown! Anyway, I also love cricket, and they are a stupidly superstitious lot. One thing that at least the Australian contingent get hot under the collar about is the unlucky number 87, which is 13 runs away from hitting an illustrious century. Really? It doesn't even have 13 in the number; it's a ridiculous innings to be scared of! 87 is a good score - and if you blame luck when getting out then, when you are seeing the ball like it's as big as the Sun, you are a worse human being than your Twitter feed says you are. So in lieu of all of this, I present you six bands that have dropped in the box that are filled with expletives, uncomfortable nuances, and abject hedonism - I'd rather lose my shit to this than a dodgy astrology reading on my batting average at least...

Who else should kick off proceedings other than a band calling themselves Chugga and The Fuckheads? This is not an ironic name either - don't expect knowing lyrics and cool clothes. This is a Melbourne band of fuckwits tearing the place apart, barely keeping time in between sculling beers and slugging women. It's awful. And that is why they are my new favourite band.

Let's head over to the more cheery yet still stupid New Swears. The Canadian four-piece are a garage party machine of the sloppiest kind, filled with vim, vigour, vinegar and vodka. New album Junkfood Forever, Bedtime Whenever is a great name for this album, but also undermines it a bit - there are infinitely more hooks and cool times to be had that such a cheeky title leads you to believe. It is sugary jangle and acid-tinged hypercolour, the kind of music that gives you a killer euphoric and energetic high and leaves you with cigarettes and cat piss in your mouth the morning after. And like all awful comedowns - you will be back on the rollercoaster just as soon as you work out how to uncross your eyes.

Are you ready for some basement scumbag punk from Michigan? No Bails are equal parts rough as guts, dumb as shit and awesome as fuck. Their new album Epyx Shredder (out through newish awesome label Pelican Pow Wow and includes the ridiculous Mad Max cover art above) is simplistic, breakneck rock with song titles like 'Yor So Shitty', 'Your NES Is Fucking With Me', 'Nubber #10' and 'Who's A Punk, Your Mother' - it's a winner. The boys played a show with SM faves Deaf Wish as they travelled through the US on their way to GonerFest so that piqued the interest - but this acidic Ramones on rancid Es slab of punk is its own blasted, wasted beast.

Now for something totally different we have Beep!, the Oakland jazz synth weirdniks that features Tune-Yards' Nate Brenner. Too Physical is a weird walk on the slanted and enchanted side, with beeps, squelches, glacial hip-hop appropriations and glitches real and imagined all melding to create the soundtrack for the future when the world is overrun by the aliens from the filmclip to that song 'Blue', all trying to act like hipster humans. I'm not even being disparaging - some of these songs hurt my inner Self, but others were beguiling and - dare I say it - groovy. There is Tortoise and Deerhoof links in there, then there are real outlier stuff that not even free jazz can encompass... Its the kind of giddy experiment that shouldn't work, almost doesn't, but is so ebullient and gleeful that you can't help but be sucked into the 8-bit vortex. How warped is Beep!? Well their album is available on an art card that is plantable. For real. Plant it and the little daisies get pushed out. Whoa...

After that mind melt, it's fair to say our brains are fried, so no wonder we wanna get our Sex Hands on... The Manchester four-piece has actually been mentioned on Sonic Masala before, but seeing as I'm going for mildly offensive references today (New Swears, No Bails' lyrics, Beep!'s song 'Shit Pony' and 'That Shit In The Sky Is Stars'), I thought I'll do what I want. LIKE ALWAYS. Anyway, they finally released their excellent debut album Pleh the other month (through ever excellent Faux Discx) and yeah, you should totally lose your shit over it. NOW.

Let's finish with Blood Of The Bull, the side project for Scottish noiseniks Divorce's Hillary Van Scoy. It's that tightwire mix of holy innocence and scuzzy sneer that really drags you in. Soft Power Records put out her Bend Over EP earlier this year and it's pretty good - you can grab it here. Until then, hold your head up high and go fuck yourself (what? It's the title of the song!)

Happy weekend everyone!

Eyeing Off Living With Guilty Pleasures

Geelong's greatest exponents of slacker punk The Living Eyes have upped the ante tenfold on their new single 'Guilty Pleasures', the first taste of their new LP Living Large to come out on Anti-Fade Records. The rough, nigh-on-brutal pace and tone of this song evokes dirty dingy 70s neck brace pace punk, which those who loved their self-titled debut (and I am definitely one of those) might find a shocking twist to the band's sound. But seriously, I haven't heard something this energised and authentic (although I'm sure the boys would scoff at that term) for a long time - we are used to laconicism, whimsy, cynicism and abject amorality, yet straight up floored serration and spit like this has been missing from the garage for aeons. A friend of mine compared this 7" (coupled with equally destructive 'Lowlife') to The Intelligence - who I really like - but 'Guilty Pleasures' is - dare I say it? - better. Get the 7" here and hyperventilate until Living Large finally hits us in the face.


(Article by Fred Savage Beasts)

I am digging this new Earl Boykins record. What at first seemed like it was going to be a pretty straightforward deal took a nice turn for the strangely personal. Part confession, part airy feeling, and all in all pretty damn interesting, it feels really comfortable (but not too comfortable). And it’s growing on me big time. There are little licks in here worth going back for; scraps and bits to really pay attention to. It’s kinda like visiting some place you used to go on school holidays only to find out your parents used to score cheap weed there. And then finding out that you can get a family discount cause the guy remembers your mum or you have the same moustache as your dad, or something like that.

Get your hands on the record (out on tape through Forged Artifacts) now. And check out the rest of the roster while you’re there. The Los Angeles Police Department track is damn rad.