Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Charting Unknown Dagger Shores

I know next to nothing about Brooklyn trio Dagger Shores. They sent me four tracks a month ago, and their dark, damaged psych soul is mesmerising. It hinges heavily on the sumptuous tones of the organ and the moaned, whispered and yelped vocals coming imperceptibly out of the smoke and shadows. 'Deep Sleep' keeps a krautrock beat, a seductive pull that allows the amalgamation of devilish sax and maniacal noise into a heaving, ecstatic fury. There are hints of Cave here, although these guys are far more frenetic and feverish. 'Ray Brower' could be early Talking Heads if David Byrne was more interested in Cluster; 'Hive Of Love' is carnivalesque, a Tom Waits freak show without the bourbon-drenched monolith as a frontman, replaced instead with someone more subterranean. The last track is 'The Shallows', a propulsive moody maelstrom, the drumming more insistent, the sax more frantic, the whispers incoherent, the howls anarchic. I'd love to know more about these guys, because this stuff is goddamn killer.

Keeping The Service Industry Circus Lush

I've been playing these two tracks from New York duo Lushes incessantly this week. Their LP Service Industry (with cool cover art of a torn up menu order) comes out next month on Felte Records. 'Circus' has that cool sardonic vocal delivery that Girls Against Boys have pretty much patented, yet with a more disdainful air, and the saxophone-and-feedback drenched breakdown near the end before James Ardery mutters "We're in the circus and I just want you to know/That it's a joke" is a killer expulsion of jittery aggression. The guitarwork here is also brutal, able to swing on a metronome, take a middle distance, before launching forth in a fret-stressing explosion, all without preamble or coercion. And we all know how much I'm loving fucked-up sax in rock songs at the moment...especially when provided by Zs' Sam Hillmer. 'Low Hanging Fruit' follows a similar path, if somewhat more imposing and claustrophobic, and the chaotic drumming and siren guitar is darkly brilliant. Pre-order Service Industry here - it promises to be gargantuan.

It Doubles

It Records has two great new releases to announce (after the excellent 1, the album from Taipan Tiger Girls that I wrote about here). First up is power doom electronic duo Armour Group. Their LP Purge (jointly released by Trait Records) promises to be a punishing listen if the title track is anything to go by. Four minutes of pounding percussion, distorted loudspeaker spittle sermonizing, a looped sample of someone stating that to psychologically advance he must purge himself... Obsessed with the darker proclivities of human desire, Purge is nihilistic, obliterating, devastating.

Secondly there is the announcement that gothic electronic act Mollusc is also joining the fold. The duo have just released this tape as a precursor of a new effort. The six tracks here interlace to create a soundscape of domination, electronic vice and gloss veneer with a seedy underside. In short, it's the kind of gritty goth post-punk that should score a 21st remake of Cherry 2000 directed by Kathryn Bigelow (and if you don't know what I'm talking about, head here and sort out your lack of Melanie Griffiths knowledge stat).

Monday, 31 August 2015

New Housewives Dance

A fortnight ago there was a noisy festival in Dalston called Wyrdout. I heard it was great. I only got to see two bands on the Friday. I finally saw Gnod (they were so loud they made me feel physically ill and I put toilet paper in my ears to stop from being put in an iron lung - so they were great) and local band Housewives. I had heard of them around the traps recently and thought they were the Sydney band of the same name. But these guys are an entirely different beast, as their EP out through Faux Discx last year and new 7" out on new local label Blank Editions attests. An NME review compared them to Pixies or Gang of Four. And while I might say there is a proclivity for Wire-esque militaristic precision, the four-piece are more in line with My Disco in their motorik rhythms and barked vocals, while embracing chaotic auxiliary percussion and atonal drones into what is already a blood-pulsing caterwaul.

'New Dance' represents the more cathartic mayhem the band can procure, while 'Time She Stopped' is a slowburn spiral into madness, starting in an ambient slipstream before tension breaks in a maniacal cataclysm of noise before breaking back into a no wave stutter...then silence. There is an album on the way - I hold high hopes for it. Expect to see Housewives on a Sonic Masala showcase before the year's out. Buy the 7" here, and listen to last year's EP below.

Wasting Nothing On Air Formation

One of the first bands I wrote about when Sonic Masala started way back in 2010 was Brighton shoegazers Air Formation. Not long after they released Nothing To Wish For (Nothing To Lose) though the band called it a day...until last year, when they got back together for some shows. Not much of a hiatus, I think you'd agree. The band are now preparing to release a new EP, Were We Ever Here, and 'The Wasted Days' is the first taste from it. It is as visceral and grandiose as ever, if not a little more energetic, the wall of noise that envelops as much an embrace as it is an affront. Were We Ever Here can be pre-ordered here through Club AC30, while the band launch the EP (with help from Night Flowers and The Enters) at the Old Bath House in Hackney September 30 - buy your tickets for that now.

Playing Outback Golf Calypso With Big Dingo

Back in 2013 I put on a Sonic Masala show that included Sydney scrubber Charles Buddy Daaboul (the other acts - Silver Screens, Multiple Man and Kigo). Formerly of the great No Art, Daaboul's brand of lackadaisical groove was disarming and I have always been interested in what comes next. What came next was Big Dingo, and as the name suggests it's a band steeped in the minutiae of being an Australian, loving the outdoors and the smell of the air, the grass, the sport, the beer, sitting back and realising "you know what? Life ain't half bad ey." Case in point: 'Outback Golf', the first taste off their debut album and a slow-paced cruiser that plays almost like ocker calypso. What's it about? Playing golf in the outback. Not stepping in wombat poo. Eating meat pies in the sun. It's funny, dorky, ridiculous, and a hell of a lot of fun. I cannot stop calling out oooooooooutback, goooooooooolf... I'm sure the neighbours are loving me.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Tiny Fingers

The Fall, the new album from Israeli band Tiny Fingers (it's their fourth), has totally blindsided me. The swirling, atmospheric intensity that comes with these coalescing psych squalls, complete with organ, took my breath away. 'Traveller Sound' emulates the dizzying acrobatics that Battles do so well; the proggy flourishes and indulgences on tracks like 'Dispatcher' fly the freakout flag as diligently and mind-meltingly as The Mars Volta (whom thee band has supported in the past). But it is how good these intricate instrumentals build and breathe that is stunning - from the frenetic, kinetic title track to the contemplative yet bombastic 'Music For The Sun' (which seems to tip the hat to Yes, Pink Floyd, Eluvium and Explosions In The Sky, all through a very idiosyncratic filter). The Fall is breathtaking and transcendental - I haven't said enough about it. Let's hope this record explodes, because Tiny Fingers are that good.

Hits From The Box #112 - Frightful Holidays

I head back to work tomorrow. Grim. Sonic Masala's show last night was good though. Plus it's Frightfest here in London, a showcase of a shedload of horror. Gleefully grim. I saw We Still Live Here on Friday. Plus seeing Nina Forever tomorrow. And in the meantime I'm listening to these bad guys. Sometime horror is the only way to get through the horror. 

Getting the gutter grunt rock on with Leeds' unlikely lads Pink Rick. A Different Species? You better believe it. Two tracks of vitriol, venom and vinegar. It's like they wrote these songs just for me. The B-side 'MF Giger' doesn't have the gnarled snarl of the title track, preferring to get their drone dirge on, which is just as great. Come to London, now.

Long Beach weirdo Shivering Window gets his lo-fi echo-laden creep on with 'Dreaming of Su Tissue'. An indie rock gem that has been cast into a corrosive pit and crawled back bitter and strange, the soul just visible through the hiss and sputter. This really gets here for the muted music that underpins 'Let's Make The Old School Into Our Castle' - its a disturbing beat that still has plaintive vocals wrestling it into something more aesthetically pleasant.

Boston punks Aneurysm blow out the speakers on their new Stop This Ride EP. I haven't heard any searing protopunk much at all this year, so this has been a detonation of fresh blood and viscera. You need something to soundtrack cathartic displays of violence on stationary objects and your friends? This fits the bill, and then some. Full throttle Bronx brutality.

Beijing bastards Cat Aids have tacked seven thrashy punk bilge pump tracks to a twenty minute demented cut from equally well-monikered DJ Urine. With these names you are never going to take them seriously - with cover art of a shark fucking a vomiting pink unicorn (who loves it) you know these boys are deranged. 'Zen & the Art of Bad Manners' is simple but all the more balltearing when it explodes; while 'Miao Tian' shows some dark noise tendencies that go beyond the blasted hardcore undertones here (they still pop a few veins though). 'Selfish Nation' is almost their pop song - Blur x The Fall by the way of Ian Dury and Comets On Fire. Jesus

Canadians Tough Age start out as fluffy, fuzzy punk pop (in the great, Superchunk way) on new record I Get The Feeling Central, but there are tracks here that show a more Hives-breaking alter ego, like on the brawling 'The Gutter Lemon', the bruised surf instrumental 'Landau, Luckman & Lake' and the hammered hip-shaker 'New Orleans Square'. The album licks the heels and kicks the sand into most variants of rock history with total disregard of the consequence. Great stuff.

The cover art alone for this last entry is enough to garner a horror tip of the hat, evoking as it does the cream of the pagan horror crop (I'm thinking The Wicker Man and to a lesser extent Kill List - not a lesser film, mind, just not exactly a pagan horror film, but then it is...just see it, it's brilliant). Evil Blizzard (see? They even have evil in their name!) have an eight-minute prog psych blast with 'Sacrifice'. The metallic production and theatricality of the song usually would ward off any interest, but there is something about the plodding repetition and vocals here that hypnotize me.

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Laurel's ZodiaK

Sydney shoegaze psychos The Laurels are back with a new lineup and a new song. Jasper from Decoder Ring has stepped in for Kate Wilson; and 'Zodiac K' is the first taste of the new Laurels (or any Laurels for a number of years). It's a bit of a weird, sinuous number, focusing heavily on samples, effects-shrouded vocals and a lazy, hazed groove throughout. It's a complicated hit, shirking the more shoegazey aesthetics from their hit album Plains for something more freeforming and experimental, floating in the freak paisley psych realm (which you could say Perth band Pond resides in; it isn't a surprise to see ex-Tame Impala/current-Pond Nicholas Allbrook co-touring with the band this month). It will be interesting to see where the guys head next, that's for sure.

Ghastly Obsessive Gutter Spats

The cover art and title for Sydney post-punks Ghastly Spats LP Spinozism Exorcism is a little misleading. Death/thrash metal from the bowels of Hell. Ghastly Spats ain't that. That said, 'Obsessed' is still a diseased gutter rock number, the drum smashing like shattering plates onto aluminium, the guitars feed back, swirl in their own desiccated Cramped cesspit, bass lurching along, part jaunty, party stalker, vocals barked, ripped out of the lungs. It's almost industrial in its white-noise disregard and fatalism. Brutal yet gurning scuzz fun for all (read: none) of the family. Grab the LP here.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Haunted Youth

Manchester's The Underground Youth's penchant for dark, brooding, cavernous rock is fully displayed on new album Haunted (out through Fuzz Club Records next week). There is a Gothic post-punk swoon to 'Collapsing Into Night', feeling pitched headlong into the shadows of 80s monochrome despair. This bleeds into a more plaintive title track, a faster disco beat augmenting the shift in tone (or variant thereof), before the wall of fuzz cascades on 'Dreaming Of Maya Deren'. The album continues to lurk in these black-and-white realms, but it's the spaces in between that holds the hypnotism - the quiet hiss and throb that opens 'Drown In Me' or 'Slave''s fizzing electric surges, the operatic fade in on tracks like 'The Girl Behind'. It is a melodramatic mantra, melodies that mesmerise. Haunted indeed.

King Khan Invades His Hurtin' Class

It's Friday, so let's kick out the funk, King Khan style! The hard-working garage titan is bringing out a soundtrack score to a film called The Invaders through his brand spankin' new label, Khannibalism (which looks to be focusing on unearthing unique albums such as a William S Burroughs spoken word album), and here is a great taster in 'Hurtin' Class'. The song features the mighty Ian Svenonius (Nation of Ulysses, Chain & the Gang). And if you don't start start singing along to "you belong to the hurtin' claaaaaaaas..." (even just in your head) and sliding around on the floor - then you might need your pulse checked. Grab the 7" here.

No Apologies For Circular Keys

Bedroom Suck Records has had a brace of strong releases the past few months (with Blank Realm almost upon us too), one of which is Sorry! from Melbourne duo Circular Keys. It's a nebulous lo-fi electronic fare, Phillipa O'Shea's ethereal yet powerful vocals poured over Dennis Santiago's percolating, rippling guitar, reverb and lysergic beats keeping everything moving at a psychotropic saunter (especially on 'Child (Eurogrand)'). The title track is cut up in lurching syncopation, a dub-centric loop, with O'Shea soaring above it all across the room, booming forth like Tune-Yards' Merrill Garbus, a lusty belting vocal that echoes across genres and eras. There is a shimmering mystery to Sorry!, making the tracks both entrancing and held back behind a synthetic regalia - a track like 'Eyes' becoming a dream flickering out of a 1960s wood panel television into a darkened room, velvet curtains muting the walls... Drugged dreampop from another world, another future. It is all so strange, and oh so beautiful. Grab Sorry! here.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Border Kenny Fetish

Liam Kenny is prepping another attack on the senses. Having explored the musical cover artform on his A Kenny For Your Thoughts project last year, the Bitch Prefect/Peak Twins/et al musician is punching out his first solo record under his own name. Called The White Man Is Oppressor, it promises to be pretty gnarled and visceral, if first taste 'Border Fetish' is anything to go by (which, due to his chameleonic back catalogue, isn't much - this album could be anything). A chugging, snarling punk sprawl, Kenny sneering as he garishly cuts into the psyche of the white Australian male. As hard and harsh as Cobwebbs at their most insane, 'Border Fetish' circles around the blood in the water, scraping metal distortion back and forth, a chaotic oscillation, with Kenny coughing, grunting, spitting and snarling. An attack on the privileged platform that he himself is inherently a part of, The White Man Is Oppressor is going to be an acerbic, bitter punk pill to gnash on - and one that was desperately in need of being made. You will be able to get the album through Eternal Soundcheck, but until then, hit Play and self-flagellate.

My Severe King Disco


One of my all time favourite bands, My Disco, are preparing to release Severe, their 4th LP and first record since Little Joy back in 2011. And first cut 'King Sound' sounds so much darker than I was anticipating! They have never been a joy and light band by any stretch of the imagination, but the almost industrial edge this minimalist marching dirge holds is a colder shade of black. I guess the album is called Severe for a reason, right? Their tightly-coiled precision and roiling mantras are blasted out into a darker space here - rather than controlled aggression, we have something more abject, more uncomfortable, more disturbing. I'm reminded of the creeping unease that I felt when watching the victims' demise in the great film Under The Skin last year - but something baser, more nihilistic is at play here. In short - I'm fucking excited for this record.

Pre-order Severe from Temporary Residence here - first 200 copies are clear with black smoke swirl - NICE.

Sun Crashes Down On Kitchen's Floor

Since 'Resident Dregs' hit the air with brute force earlier this year, I have been waiting eagerly for the release of Kitchen's Floor's new record, brilliantly titled Battle Of Brisbane. And now we have a track off it, 'Sundowner', and it is immediately my favourite Kitchen's Floor cut I have ever heard (although other recent track 'Resident Dregs' is bloody good too). A take on the death-march dirge, the song shows the adherence to a fuller, harsher sound, eschewing the scrappy aesthetics of previous recordings for something much more full-blooded and aggressive. It is no less raw though; the track bristles with spittle-flecked venom, an acknowledgement of how bad things have gotten, howling like a wounded beast. But there is an unabashed roar of despair and disgust to Kennedy's vocals that feels like all of the desperation of the last few years is hurling forth in a molten morass of internal and external frustrations, a mottled war cry against the pricks, real and implicit. If this is the kind of impassioned fury we can come to expect from the album, the Battle of Brisbane promises to be bloody.

Pre-order Battle of Brisbane through Bruit Direct Disques here. Kennedy is doing the solo run through Europe in September - catch him at London's Shacklewell Arms Wednesday September 16.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Hecker & Griswold In Room40

Continuing on from Andrew Tuttle, one of his many jobs is working for Lawrence English's imprint Room40, which is still celebrating its fifteenth year in existence with some great releases of its own. First of all we have the inimitable Tim Hecker, who will be released this limited edition 7" of the singular track Apondalifa as part of the reissue of the two releases he has done on the label (the other being 2007's Norberg EP). 'Apondalifa' has only been available as a download too, so it will be its first airing as a physical entity. Which is pretty exciting, as the circular undulating guitarwork, the scratching on the metal strings, should resonate in vinyl form I feel. Pre-order Norberg/Apondalifa here.

The other exciting release is Pain Avoidance Machine, the new piece by American-Australian outre composer Erik Griswold. It's an intriguing yet invigorating listen - Griswold's unique take on utilising the piano means that the plinking, hammering and caressing all seem disparate yet warmly familiar at the same time. His compositions (listen to 'Pale Yellow Frontier' below) sound electronic, constructed by synthetic means - rather, it is taking the piano at all angles, making it a polyrhythmic world of its own. You can buy this on CD here.

Heligatoring In With Andrew Tuttle

Brisbane's own electroacoustic dapper gent Andrew Tuttle is the latest artist to provide a track to the Heligator cause, which has included the likes of Braeyden Jae, Landing, Stag Hare and Clipd Beaks amongst many others (and if you haven't heard one of the first tracks, by Lake Mary and Nathan Wheeler, do yourself a favour and get it now). Heligator Records puts the funds made on all digital sales towards the continuous funding of the Malindza Refugee Camp Library in Swaziland, an incredibly worthwhile cause. Tuttle's effort is '177', his first track that focuses primarily on guitar work for some time. It still includes his preoccupations with echoing meditation, creating a chrysalis of rustic chiming chords and effects that cascade around and through you - which means it is beautiful. Definitely head over and support this worthwhile cause, and get you some rare and exciting experimental music while you're at it.

Held Over And Over At The Sunset Club

Melbourne's The Sunset Club are prepping for their first physical release real soon, and here is a taste from it. Frontman Dougie Arnott was a great help for this year's Sonic Masala Fest, helping us out over the weekend with gruntwork and positive vibes, and the band opened the Pre-Sonic Masala show at The Bearded Lady alongside Tape/Off, Turnpike and Dead Farmers. The two tracks here are punchy, both evoking the 90s guitar rock that proliferated the land and more brooding, propulsive fare as seen on B-Side 'Over & Over', with Arnott's howl taking you by the throat. Solid stuff.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Hits From The Box #111 - Shattered iDreams

I realised this week that Sonic Masala relies so much on my iPhone. I realised this because my iPhone hit the bathroom tiles a little too hard and is now out of action. On the bus, at work, over a pint in the pub, I do a lot of groundwork/correspondence/idea-crunching for all facets of SM. Bizarre to think I resisted upgrading from my trusty Nokia brick right up until 2011. First world problems I guess... Anyway here are six bands that have been fuelling the fires...

BLiNDNESS is a loud shoegaze-centric trio out of London who released debut album Wrapped In Plastic through Saint Marie Records. It's a sonic blast that comes from Debbie Smith of Curve and Echobelly, a dark shivering slithering beast of a record.

Chile is a band that has become synonymous with some solid psych rock over the past few years, what with The Holydrug Couple and Follakzoid in their midst. Maff bring the intoxication and squall on their self-titled album. Mirroring the likes of The Jesus & Mary Chain ('Walking On Fire') and injecting it with infectious indie rock ('Million Year Picnic'), Maff is a continuous gift of sonorous highs.

Here is a great little oddity out of my hometown of Brisbane. Lucid Dreamtime is a apocryphal minor masterwork from Howling Cloud, a one-man sonic explorer who marries field recordings, world music mantras and Eastern desert drawl to create a sonic afterlife, scoring a mystic journey through the looking glass. Twelve minute Opening cut 'Enter The Everywhen' is particularly stunning, but the spacious dreaming of 'Acid Rain' and the swirling drone of 'Deadman Dreaming' are great also.

A totally different pace now with San Francisco rockers Void Boys, whose Glamorpus release blasts forth with barbed hooks and growling pop heft. The four-piece supported Screaming Females recently and this says a lot about what they are about. The bass is heavy and driving, the guitars propulsive, yet there is a vivacious positivity that shines throughout, in no small part to Shannon Bodrogi's vocals. They have quieter moments, such as the building 'Culling Song', but Void Boys are best when they let everything go like on aggressive opener 'Bruxism' or the explosive pop underpinning 'Starfish'.

Nottingham punks Soul Structure have a desperate belter in The Body Of Man, a heady invective that wastes no time punching in all directions. It's a fairly sparse production, with some sinewy precise guitarwork and breakneck drumming, and it plays well into the sudden breaks in direction and pace. Each song is fidgety, refusing to stay in one groove, even spitting venom can suddenly halt without warning. This unpredictability lends The Body of Man its pent-up urgency.

I'm gonna pull up stumps with listening to New Zealand's Lowlands, a gauzy lo-fi drifting dream. I don't know much about the act, but Lowlands holds firm in its slowburn, a brooding echo-laden pop paralysis, a cavernous contemplation of hopes and dreams, revelling in the dronal netherspaces and found sounds of an arctic otherworld. Lilting and arresting, I want more of this bedroom emancipation as it invades my senses.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!