Thursday, 21 August 2014
Melbourne's Halt Ever surreptitiously brought out a new EP last month, Body Limits (out through Unwound Records). The 6-track 10" covers the gauntlet of raucous post-punk narcissism stretched and contorted, taut and strained, a razorwire enclosed case of tunnel vision.
Cuts and bruise prevail.
It's about thrashing the demons before the demons thrash you, in a vacuum of space, time and mind. The guitars in 'Growing Pains' for example build and build like pressure in your chest; your breath catches; sweat stains your upper lip; you threaten to drown in your own uneasy anticipation. It's an incredibly frantic and brutal instrumental display. The vocals though are equal parts Tom Lyngcoln-esque in their ocker banality/ferocity, and bottom-of-the-well-esque in the reverbed anguish and self-deprecation to the point of self-flagellation.
Cuts and bruises prevail, all right, and trust me, you will love how the sting lingers.
Body Limits can be picked up here. A full length album will be out in 2015 on the suddenly out of hibernation (and ever excellent) Lost Race Records. Halt Ever play alongside Bloodhounds On My Trail, Old Love and Midnight Bloom at Melbourne haunt The Public Bar this Friday night.
Wednesday, 20 August 2014
Today seems to be a day of downward synth spirals - first Stress Waves, and now this split between Montreal bands Police des Moeurs and Essaie Pas (out through great French label Atelier Ciseaux). This is much more frantic in its delivery though, more evident of its post-punk origins, but still decidedly cyberpunk in fifty shades of black. Atonal vocals, stark percolating beats, spider-run synth, all creating a melody that jerks and twitches, seduces and shudders. If you have been a fan of the Dark Entries label reissues, or just love your underground early European electronic music with minimal/maximal cool, then this is absolutely for you. Burning in the shadows, giving into desires, freezing out the lesser-thans, indulging in the new flesh.
Here is an old(ish) Video Vacuum that I've been meaning to post for about a month and forgot about, slipped through the cracks of time etc etc. Sorry about the delay. But now revel in some A/V madness...
One of the first interviews I ever did was with New York's psychers Crystal Stilts early in 2011. I was recording from home, had just bought a dictaphone (that I still use) and was interviewing singer Brad Hargett as the band tripped from Austin to New Orleans. It was a disaster - the mobile phone played havoc with the frequencies of the dictaphone so I had to try and shorthand on a small scrap of paper as Hargett spoke. People who know me can attest that my writing is pretty abysmal at the best of times, so it took a hell of a lot of deciphering and second-guessing to get the article to come to light. It's actually a pretty good end product. Mainly because i loved the band so much, and the experience, so it all stuck with me. If I had to interview some pop punk band again and that shit went down, I'd probably think "Fuck it" and walk out of the room. ANYway, we now come to their video for the excellent, EXCELLENT song 'Star Crawl' from last year's Nature Noir LP. Vistas in washed out colours, inverted colours, UV raided rays. It fits the wasted malaise of this "ballad" perfectly. As an added bonus, here is a more punked-up track, in line with where they are headed next...
And now for something completely different...
Melbourne's Orlando Furious recorded this back in June. It's on his fresh EP (watch this space regarding that...). Ben is a performance artist, there is no doubting that - but not only is the film clip suitably weird and crazy, but the track 'Fresh' is emblematic of the kind of lo-fi electronic nonsense that ...So We Drowned era Liars revelled and excelled in. It's an amazing song, and proves that Orlando Furious could very well be a fucking genius.
Here is a duo from Auckland playing a warped drone pop a la Wooden Shjips being bled out into the veins of Japandroids (yes I'm into my band comparisons today - sue me). Its standard band-playing-in-a-room fare, with footage projected over them, weird unrelated footage woven together, some slightly Satanic imagery subliminally jumping forth. Above all its a loud as all get out song that really promises a lot. The scrawling squall at the last ten seconds that shows the underbelly of Invisible Threads as masked madmen is a nice touch also.
And let's finish with another guitar feedback heavy song, this one in the stretched out cosmic psych variety, from another Melbourne outfit, Naked Bodies. Another clip relying on incredible editing of bizarre archival footage. And again, when done right like it is here, it is some of the most evocative, alluring, hallucinogenic imagery that you can imagine, and infinitely heightens the appeal of 'Ride On'. In fact the clip is so good it actually supersedes the song. Not a bad thing - it means I have heard 'Ride On' twice as much (if not more) than I would have had the footage not been there.
NOW GET BACK TO WORK!
It's amazing to think of the bands that I tried on numerous occasions to get on a Sonic Masala bill to no avail. Blank Realm has probably been the biggest one to date to slip through the fingers (although both Dan Spencer and Luke Walsh have played shows in weirder forms), whilst Per Purpose was meant to play the first ever Sonic Masala showcase - the honour went to Glen Schenau's then other project Psy Ants. A much smaller band that I tried a couple of times to get on a lineup was Stress Waves. The lurking synth broiling brilliance comes from the mind of Errol Hoffman (To The North, Make More) with Nick Williams (Throes) on discombobulated vocals. Whilst Errol graced a Campfire Tales show as his solo guise Perfume Garden (which was great by the way), the Stress Waves shows have been few and far between, with Josh Strange (To The North, Quiet Steps) playing bass to beef these wrapped-in-plastic warbles to arrhythmic life. Lost Lustre, their three-song introduction to the world, floored me and made it onto the excellent Wood & Wire roster, whilst another EP in the shape of Lurid Abyss surfaced briefly like a bloated cadaver wrapped in black rose petals last year.
But now we have Orphic Ruin, their first proper album, out on cassette through Second Empire Media (You Beauty, the aforementioned Perfume Garden). This kind of coldwave regression doesn't come from Brisbane, the city of sweaty squats and necessarily bared flesh. Tracks like 'Selenic Visions' and 'Elemental Decline' feel much more suited to the nocturnal black-on-white netherscapes of northern Europe, complete with dark apparel and glazed, disdainful stares into the middle spaces, hair combed vehemently to one side, efficient fetishism. The fact that is is so effortless gives Orphic Ruin a sense of realism that defies the geography of its conception - an anguished gnashing of emotions, deliberately throwing back at expectations. Toneless moaning, distant laconic beats, all switched into other unexpected gears by the synth lines that can suddenly tear rays of light into the moping mix.
Maybe Stress Waves could play a certain festival in 2015, what do you say guys?
Tuesday, 19 August 2014
Music is a funny ol thing. I wasn't going to write about New York punks Giggly Boys. My bro-from-another-mo sent their EP to me, the bafflingly titled .. That is a full stop. As the title. That is not the reason I wasn't going to talk about it. No. He sent it to me because he heard that I liked Protomartyr (and if he bothered to read Sonic Masala he would have known that before now. I kid, you're alright mate!) and these dark and mysterious yowlers have been playing shows with them of late. But we couldn't really decide whether we liked the songs or not. He decided he didn't; so did I in fact. I even labelled them thus:
It's bog standard. I enjoy it, then forget about it
Then I woke up this morning, hopped in the shower - and really felt a need to listen to second track 'Sick Joke'. I wanted a Murder City Devils track to soundtrack the opening of my day, but had this at hand instead. I plugged it into the speakers (yes my new shower has speakers) and let fly. Then I let the EP play out. And now it is Tuesday afternoon and I'm still listening to it. Everything is played to a concise manner, with nothing forced (which I originally thought) nor overly original being put in play - there are howls a la John Dwyer to punctuate certain elements from the warbled, just hinged enough vocalist; there is a bridled anger simmering away, drenched in monochrome and baked vitriol. 'Model Behaviour' feels retro, with kraut rhythms permeating throughout; 'Joel's River' has the barked lo-fi mayhem that ...Trail Of Dead embraced early on; closer 'Acid Fight' turns full circle to that Murder City Devils feel (and could be the best some on the EP). It's burning into my synapses. In short - I like it. It needs to be blasted on speakers though, pushed to its limits. I know nothing more about them. If you do, point me in their direction. I'm hooked.
Monday, 18 August 2014
Sydney's Food Court continue to impress. I dug their Smile At Your Shoes EP, and off the strength of it I convinced Tape/Off to include them on their album tour bill back in June. They stand a little apart from most of their Sydney brethren - mainly because their brand of fun involves slack jawed grins, cars with the windows down and no a/c, head banging good times. Well, actually that could fit with much of what Straight Arrows do - but seeing as they are one of the most fun live bands currently on this wide brown land, it's a great feeling to know they have support. And whaddaya know - SA's Owen Penglis recorded the sucker! And Mikey Young (*trademark*) mastering to boot. You can't get more Aussie garage rock than that. Except they're named Food Court, so... maybe more Aussie Hungry Jack's rock. You can catch em play alongside Yes I'm Leaving and Black Zeros at the Sly Fox in Sydney on September 4 before they officially launch the single on September 20. An EP is in the works. Tasty.
Sunday, 17 August 2014
Why not bliss out this Sunday on a West Australian done good? Rat Columns is David West, who you might recognise from the excellent Rank/Xerox. The dude has been hunkered down in San Francisco for some time, and whilst his presence has been well and truly felt, it's his more heartfelt kraut yearnings with Rat Columns that West truly hits his stride. The trio have a new album out on RIP Society, Leaf, which you can grab here. It's a mixture of twanged out New Wave myopics and longsighted C86-aping jams, conducive to impromptu interpretive dances with a goblet of red wine in the lounge room at 2 in the morning... So that's our Sunday sorted then... And you might notice some synth lines coming to play here - courtesy of man-of-all-trades Mikey Young.
Saturday, 16 August 2014
White Lodge before I saw them. It isn't that strange to admit in any form - but the strange thing was that they were from around Brisbane way and I had never heard of them before. What's worse/better, their EP Holy Void was a cracker, with a Murder City Devils vibe trickling out from the viscous cracks held within. They then put out a split record with Taiwan band Forests (who are fucking amazing by the way), supported The Growlers, and then I got them to play a show alongside Melbourne's Heads of Charm, the inimitable Turnpike and the brooding champions Howling Seas - and now here we are, at EP #2. Technicolour Visions continues where Holy Void left off - another six tracks of surf garage gurns and grit, dirty and blasted, but still clean enough to take home to your mum. Where will these guys end up next? I don't know - but they need to play more shows, get their records out there, and slay. Which they will. Drop in and schiz out.
Friday, 15 August 2014
Sam Wightman and Roland Hlavka have a lot of time on their hands. Not content to have second LP WORLD WIDE WEBBS out (through Sonic Masala Records no less - get at it here), the duo are involved in a myriad other projects. The most prolific of those is Hlavka's solo outfit Barbiturates (often with Cobwebbs drummer Elliot D'Arcy at his beck and call), whilst Wightman's Police Force continues to get better and more malignant. Yet there are other, more festered outlets for these boys to let the demons out (these guys have a hard drive of material that may never see the light of day), and Canberra-based label Moontown Tapes has seen fit to give undead life to two of them. A split that is fused through communal spit and unease, the cassette opens with Wightman's World War 4 - and first track 'X-Ray Visitor' is the cleanest thing I think he has ever committed himself to. Drone crawl from the bottom floor, invading the senses, hip hop beats and lysergic treats for the narcoleptic dranker in us all. Then there is Hlavka's Gold Shade, a even more twisted chemtrail of an excursion, burning across the ozone like a VHS nightmare in neon chrome. 'Super Survivor' could be a Not Not Fun banger hit of the apocalyptic summer. Yes, these guys are in too many bands. Yes, they are all varying levels of awesome. Get this now - it's too good to ignore.
It's always nice to open Friday with something special - a present before the gift of the weekend to come. And Liam Kenny doesn't want to disappoint so he is pulling out all the stops with the next track from his upcoming A Kenny For Your Thoughts LP (out soon through it Records). The cover he has chosen? None other than Billy Idol's "classic" 'Eyes Without A Face.' The almost six-minute track is a candy-cane kaleidoscope of confection, featuring some lovely echoing backing vocals from Amy Hill (Constant Mongrel, School of Radiant Living). Kenny does well to sound many things at once here - fragile, vulnerable, confident, sultry, ironic, ardent. You could just about see him belting this out at an RSL near you, all sequin jacket and knock-off Ray-Bans worn indoors, a faux-Stevie Wonder waver of the head in the process. But its the instrumentation that pushes this into the stratosphere - offering the emotional heft that Idol could never achieve. There is something about basic drum machine beats with Kenny Loggins groove and a surreal sonic swirl that plucks one's heartstrings, doesn't one think? Yes, one most definitely does.
Thursday, 14 August 2014
Institute are outta Austin, Texas. You'd be excused for double-taking at that, seeing as their geographical brethren would be more akin to the Scandinavian nihilist post-punk set. Lower, Iceage, Holograms - they all know how to remain seductively melodic even as they are stripping layers off the inner walls of your skull. They include members of bands such as Wiccans and Glue (who you will hear more of next week), and from the tense, tetanus-infused squalls of their initial demos to the more fleshed out sound of new EP Salt (out on Sacred Bones), it's clear that Institute isn't part of the system.
Pre-order Salt here.
There is a kind of glad disjointedness in Celestial Shore's new track ‘Gloria’. Like watching the room spin around the fan as someone lulls you into sleep, only to rouse you excitedly with an exuberant invitation to keep going. Where, you ask? Well, we’re not really sure – New York City, maybe? – but wherever it is we’re going to enjoy ourselves.
Get on board Enter Ghost through Hometapes soon.
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
I spent the nights of Gazar Strips' tour of Melbourne back in May on the floor of a little house in Brunswick. I watched a lot of 90s desktop games getting played on the television and spoke a lot of shit to a lot of great guys. These guys all form The Ocean Party. I got a sneak peek/listen at two of the tracks of their upcoming album, including this one, 'Wading In'. You can see the laconic nature of this ensemble's outlook and playing style still remains firmly in check (check the lyrics "It's all the same/Nothing really ever changes/Wading in through/The mess that was made/Is this it/Is this how it goes" or the imagery of cigarette ash on once-white bedsheets), but there is a decidedly layered about-turn in the aesthetics here. The 80s synthetic sheen that permeates 'Wading In' is a welcome extrapolation on the band's early-twentysomething malaise, and judging on the words tumbling forth about it globally, I certainly hope this is the song and album (coming out soon on Spunk Records) that gives these great guys their due.
I am scurrying around London trying to find a job. Not having much luck to be honest. Still, I'm trying to be patient. Plus it gives me time to sit down and listen to some great music. But then I get stir crazy and need my visuals stimulated too. So here are five vids that are doing the bizniz.
First up are these perennial clownish nice guys, Dollar Bar. They were "big" in some sense back in the '00s, then gave up on the idea of chasing the Triple J buck, before reuniting for a mate's 40th, realised they still dug playing all of these GBV guitar pop games, jammed a bunch, played a bit, and put out new record Paddington Worker's Club. They are playing the excellent looking Blurst of Times festival in October alongside the likes of Blank Realm, Dick Diver, UV Race, Hard Ons, TV Colours, Day Ravies and our very own Roku Music. Word is that Dollar Bar themselves might be joining the SM stable in 2015... Watching this video of '(You're Blind) Baby' (directed by Matt Banham) of guitarist/singer Chris Yates having "the time of his life" and see if this is a good move... What party animals, I feel the hangover kicking in just watching this...
Getting a bit more jumped up (and following in the trend of doing 60s/70s montages as film clips - which I am really digging incidentally) is Liz Hogg's outfit Beach Arabs. Helps that this is a great menagerie of seaside party times. Wild Movement was a good lil album, and Hogg is currently playing around Spain and other parts of continental Europe - well worth checking out if you can.
Damn I love Adelaide idiots Wireheads. Their album The Late Great Wireheads is killer - somewhere between Bed Wettin Bad Boys and more downtuned, downtrodden, dirty fare (Per Purpose comes to mind). This ode to Adelaide showcases the whiny, strained, unhinged vocal delivery of Dom Trimboli and crunched, screwed violin of Tom Spall - and how easy it is to get drunk at a mate's place on Coopers Red and make a killer video. I think I have listened to this song eleven times today - and it's not even close to the best song on the album. Bloody great stuff.
I missed out on writing about Berlin-based nihilists Sneers' last record For Our Soul - Uplifting Lights To Shine As Fires (out through Brigadisco - trust me, you really need this) so here is a video of 'Self-Atoning Apostasy' to get you fanging for it. Watching a couple eating surrounded by red velvet; flashes of goth darkness, domestic violence, blood-caked skin, caressing foliage, self-mutilation, shotguns, prostate sex, all soundtracked by dissonance and fear. I really love these guys. It's all sordid and evil no wave wailings - right up my alley.
And as a final bonus, here is Native Cat Peter Escott doing his own thing. He has just released solo album The Long O through Bedroom Suck (I reviewed the album briefly at The Music over here) - it's a fascinating portraiture of an artist both confident and insecure, flamboyant and subdued. Great lyrics, beguiling compositions. And I really like this film clip too - especially Escott's dance moves. There is something emotionally bare about them, yet hidden due to the secluded nature of the surroundings, that resonates with me. Plus it makes me homesick for Australia. It truly does.
NOW GET BACK TO WORK!
NOW GET BACK TO WORK!
(Post written by Fred Savage Beasts)
Sometimes I look at the runtimes on the track listings for albums and make a snap judgement. Like, if there are at least three songs less than two minutes, I’m fully down for that shit. It’s not a time cost-benefit-analysis thing, it’s an attitude thing. If a band is willing to write, record and release a bunch of songs under a couple of minutes I am right there with them. That’s how life really happens – immediately.
I wasn’t let down with this one. No more than I have been with how life really happens, anyway. Get your paws into Honey Bucket. Here are the thoughts that you always had but never wrote down. The kind of things that occur to you as you squint at the sun walking down the street past the trees feeding off the bodies in the graveyards they’re rooted in. Those kinds of things - there is splendour (all the splendour you’ll ever need) in the grass and the leaves and the tape machines and two minutes - the things that make you smile when you realise you’re realising them.
Get the cassette for Futon now at their Bandcamp.
Tuesday, 12 August 2014
Time to get drowned. Drowned in a somnambulist's drift. Drowned in a malfunctioning smoke machine. Drowned in sweat from the back of your narcotic-fuelled lover(s). Drowned in the glue that holds life together. Drowned in the Tulips...
It's great to have Tomorrow's Tulips back in action, and on Burger Records to boot. Grab When here.
There is something going on in Sydney. Something very different to what the harbourside restaurants, beaches and opera houses would have you believe. There is something soaking up through the drains, rising through the damp. And it’s asking questions. What about the rest of us? The ones who don’t get a run in your elevators and views and corner offices?
Yes I’m Leaving are at the forefront of it. The forefront of a disaffected noise that pummels and pummels at the wrought iron bars of old Sydney. Forget your interior design anxieties and fall back into your foam mattress; this is a world away from the innocuous pleasantries of the latest inner city wine bar. It’s stained and loud and open to everyone.
Pre-order your copy of Slow Release from Homeless Records to get one of the hundred Grey Splatter versions. Because if ‘One’ is anything to go by, Grey Splatter is the colour this should be. They are honestly one of the best bands in Australia.
Sunday, 10 August 2014
Being a rabid Mclusky/Future Of The Left fan, it would be remiss of me if I didn't shine some light on Falco's "solo" gear, Christian Fitness. A project that came about due to unexpected unemployment (yes, even the best of us are privy to corporate buggery), the album I Am Scared Of Everything That Isn't Me (the amazing titles never cease) doesn't feel throwaway but a natural extension of FOTL, flitting back and forth from the delightfully acerbic bilge pump of a Welshman's canon with zeal. And why not? When touring and playing music is your lifeblood yet monetary constrainst don't allow for continual stints of sonic sustenance, and even the promise of funds through the millstone of the 9-to-5 is skittishly torn from your mewling mouth, what better is there to pour the frustrated energy into a new creative more? It's difficult to focus on one element, but I will state that I always like the slow-fast, quiet-loud changeovers that Falkous employs in songs - it doesn't have the breakneck velocity/ferocity of possibly the best of his songs, but he knows when it is important to revel in the lead-in, the tension, the slow build, the lyrics underscored before the noise falls in. They tend to the longest songs on the album, and oft overlooked, yet their lack of brevity is calibrated for impact. Therefore 'Disturbing The Ache' is my current favourite on the album. It doesn't have the same impact on me as say 'Lapsed Catholics', but that's probably because 'Disturbing The Ache' is more...twisted. Although it changes daily - tomorrow I'm likely to be obsessed with 'Teeth' or maybe the straight up punk swirl flaildown that is 'Feel Good Hit Of The Second Trimester' or the viscous closer 'The Earth Keeps Its Secrets'... And that is where I Am Scared... is at - it's a twisted melange of twiddling thumbs and itchy trigger fingers, forked tongues and flying spit, grins of chagrins and howls of maniacal disdain. And may he never change. Grab the CD here - he needs the money - and believe me, you do too.
This release, the first for newly minted Australian label It Records, came out at the beginning of the year and I meant to give it some lip service then. Then Miles Brown's "day job", The Night Terrors, released Spiral Vortex and that took my attention away from his solo 7" Electrics, which is pretty damn fun I must say. It came up on my peripheral vision again when I tried to book both Brown and his band for the Gazar Strips tour of Melbourne in May but to no avail... Anyway, no more excuses! Let's talk about Electrics, a small-player that shows the more aggressively playful side of Brown. Still using theremin (he is a theremin musician after all), Brown has included more febrile synth pop compositions here. Nothing ever veers to far from the darkened corners of The Night Terrors, but with 'Electrics' there is a lilting synth line that feels graphically driven, a cel-coloured flicker through the digital landscape of a forever-night megacity, whilst Brown's hushed vocals drip silken androgyny; whilst the B-side 'Night Time' is even more visceral, a widescreen synthetic freakout fuelling the best kind of futurist noir. Not as nihilistic or silly as Multiple Man (remembering that therein holds that band's infinite charm), yet Brown's sepulchral segues are exciting deluges in multilayered electrics - hence the name...
You can buy Electrics here. There is also an amazing remix compilation of Electrics that features twelve - yes, TWELVE - remixes of the single, from the likes of Kangaroo Skull (of My Disco), Prolife (ex-Slug Guts members), Justin Fuller (of ZOND) and more. As you know I am often wary of such things, but this one is incredible. Get it here.
Friday, 8 August 2014
Tomorrow evening if you are in London you should really make your way to The Lexington. I have seen some incredible gigs there - the My Disco/Factory Floor/Snowman one still resonates, but there have been LOADS. But tomorrow looks like it could surpass these. Why? Because besides the hellishly exciting lineup, including spiked stalwarts Trash Kit, abrasive bruisers Silent Front, the discombobulated musings of Grimm Grimm, the atomic bomb in an electrical storm that is WEM and the devilish dervish Skinny Girl Diet, an extremely rare headline act awaits. Bletchley's finest pack of noise drunkards Action Beat are collating friends and ferals alike in a tour de force performance, fronted by none other than founder of Dutch blitzkrieg kings themselves The Ex, GW Sok. DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW. It kicks off 5pm tomorrow. Want more reason? Try a five quid entry. You have been told...
So in anticipation of a mixtape "thing" that we are looking to start doing here (although a Soundcloud playlist is super easy to conduct - I promise things will be more intricate next time...) here is a playlist of what the band/s have been doing in the past year (except Trash Kit, but they are Trash Kit, you should know their MO already).