Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Hits From The Box #70 - Ekka Spew

This particular Hits From The Box was actually written last week, but extenuating circumstances has left it on the shelf until today. So it's a little outdated reference wise (oh how the world turns...), but I can't be bothered changing it. Enjoy.

Another year, another Brisbane Ekka show. The streets filled with family bumpkins, drunken wankers and a higher percentage of vomit; the air filled with shrieks of delight from the rides, shrieks of disgust from the spew, and clouds of disease. And then there is the spew. Seriously, I saw enough on Wickham Terrace this morning that could feed a 3rd world country. Yep, I love it. At least I get a holiday. So I sit at my desk, my stereo blaring, a beer popped, and I let the Hits keep on comin...

Elvis Christ isn't as obscure or unknown as some of the acts I tend to corral here in the Hits section - EC being the touring guitarist in fellow garage rock heathen Nobunny's touring band. And So It Shall Be, a five track cassette release, sits pretty on a local label that I champion too (that'd be Long Gone Records). Still, it's unlikely a lot of you are familiar with this loose cannon, and it's about time you acquainted yourself. This is ragged, rancid, reckless rock and roll that only the basest of beings could produce - or possibly the Second Coming. And so it shall be.

Melbourne act The Ancients are about to launch new LP Night Bus on esteemed label Chapter Music, and 'Molokai' is the first cut from it. Such a breezy, nondescript song is completely deceptive - it feels as if The Ancients are aimless and meek, yet the electronic lilts gives way to sonorous riffs and an understated elegance that implies that this release will be full of pleasant surprises. What is old is made new once more.

Sex Jams is a provocative name for a band in any world, but the fact that this five-piece walk the streets of Vienna, Austria (hallowed haunting ground of the likes of Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms and Strauss, along with the fragmented genius of Sigmund Freud) offers its own perverse pleasures. Their album Trouble, Honey flits from languid guitar pop sojourns to more raucous, nihilistic rants, all of which play coyly with you before playing you outright. A swindler's kiss, these tracks continually leave you wrong-footed, yet like the best con artists have you in the palm of their hand regardless of how you get burnt. You will come back for more, because for as long as you are in the presence of Sex Jams, you feel whole once more. Pop with a brutal edge - if you like to be used and abused, you'll love getting into Trouble, Honey.

Scandinavia is rife with artists who explore isolation and euphorics in their sonic aesthetic, and Swedish post-rock duo U137 is no exception. Named after the Soviet submarine which ran aground in Swedish waters during the Cold War, U137 uses sweeping aural generalisations in a minimalist thread, the ten tracks making up debut LP Dreamer On The Run (released yesterday on Deep Elm Records) feeling equally desolate and youthful; desperate yet hopeful. There is a constant sense of darkness inverted, as if rising from the floor of the ocean towards the sparkling surface, the sun meeting the face as quenching as the most pristine of waters.

It is fitting that Nature's Son hail from California - the debut LP reeks of 60s pysch-pop persuasions and permutations, a miasma of swirling dirges and deviations that belie a strong sense of steely determination. The organ tones and riffs on 60s rhythm & blues pervade this album, but what draws you back is the band's innate knowledge of their subject matter - they are able to spiral out into a seemingly unhinged instrumental bridge yet are never lost, easily sliding back into the strictures of their songs at a moment's notice. They sound like the perfect stoner band to watch - wig outs at right angles, aligning at the last inconceivable moment. Bring it on.

The Mantis Opera is an experimental collage project from the UK, and I have to say I've been enamoured with the resultant album Curtsie. It reminds me of the faux-sample noodlings of Melbourne band No-Way Sweden - cuts that play with the formula, offering surprisingly fey vocals despite the skewed instrumentation and composition. At first it feels piecemeal, but as you reach the end of second track 'Rant' you are held in sway in this carefully constructed world.

And as an added bonus, seeing as this came in two days late, I have Hamlovers, this split release between Manchester double act Fruit Tones and Pink Teens. These two Brit bands aren't chasing the Oasis at the end of the rainbow, instead understanding that pop lies all over the countryside if you are will to dredge it out of the moors. Fruit Tones' side is scuzzier, brattier, with more flippant behaviour (their instrumental elements are particularly beguiling), whilst Pink Teens are posing as a boy band du jour when in actuality they are planning world annihilation through innate friendliness and likability. Its catchy as all hell - like that first slap of ham to the lips after abstaining from the stuff for far too long. Feel the hunger rise...


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