I haven't been able to write on here for a while, but that is the extent of it - I am writing now. And before I list my year's end thing, I thought I would do a MASSIVE wrap up of bands and releases from Australia that really deserve either attention or anticipation. So without further adieu...
I thought I would get the self-aggrandising out of the way and show the last two singles from Sonic Masala Records bands for 2014. The first is 'Different Order', the second single from Tape/Off's debut album 'Chipper', a great song that is aided and abetted (maybe?) by a clip of what apparently happens during a TO rehearsal. Jeremy Neale of Velociraptor and many other bands and exercises is also on hand to smash some Branko-lite drummage.
Now here is a band that we have loved for some time, put them on a bunch of shows, and are now putting out their first EP. Barge With An Antenna On It are a duo who like wrapping repetitive riffs and smashed-out drums into some sort of metronomic mayhem - imagine My Disco as they might have grown up in Brisbane under the William Jolly Bridge. It's going to be a split LP though with another great band, Danyl Jesu, who are beginning the New Year recording for their debut LP over in the US with Phil Elverum (Mt Eerie, The Microphones) - you will hear a lot more about that soon... (NOTE: This is the second single from a band in our roster to record a video of them playing in a van. This could catch on?)
Now for some bands that don't need much introduction. Twerps are bringing out what is probably my first anticipated releases of 2015 with Range Anxiety (January with Chapter Music) and seeing how quality their Underlay EP was I think it will be a sonorous winner. 'Shoulders' certainly seems to accentuate this fact - Jules McFarlane's wonderful vocals/lyrics, the chiming, rousing guitars - I feel that if the Flying Nun comparison hadn't been made before (and by God it's been flogged), this track would be the true tipping point. Amazing.
Dick Diver also have a hot record on its way - their 3rd - in Melbourne, Florida (also out through Chapter Music, this one in March). 'Waste The Alphabet' is more chugging pop than anything we have experienced from this amazing band in the past - it is a borderline MOR languid rock tune that overflowed the stadiums of 80s yore. Yet as with Twerps there is that affinity with the jangle-pop legends from across the Tasman that permeates this track and imbues it with warmth and integrity.
The off-the-wall-charts Gooch Palms tore up the US earlier this year, managing to link up with Trouble In Mind Records in the process. They are relocating there in March, so their January tour is likely to be their last Australian tour for 2015. Don't fret though - they will hopefully have their second album ready. Here is a new track - 'Trackside Daze' - that will be on a 7" out through Urinal Cake Records in the New Year.
The lead singer of Brisbane band Naked Maja Cedie Janson occasionally ventures out on his own (he actually played the first Sonic Masala solo series Campfire Tales back in 2013). He is bringing out a cassette on Lost Race Records next year, and 'Light Curve' is the first taste of it - it's a glitchy electronic wash of crystalline shards of sound cascading down on a reverberating percussive beat murmur, Janson's vocals floating like vapour in and out of the frenetic waves. As always, impressive stuff.
While on the subject of Lost Race Records, label founder Danny Venzin's band Nite Fields is finally preparing to release their debut album Depersonalisation upon the world (through Lost Race and Felt Records). It's a goddamn great album that drifts along in its own dreamscapes, Venzin's vocals like a dosed-up Ian Curtis, holed up inside his own head (which when you think about how this has taken nigh on four years to come to fruition, isn't too far from the truth). The band take to Europe in January and February, playing in London on February 23 at the Old Blue Last.
Canberrans Wives are something of ACT punk royalty, even if not widely known (yet). Formerly known as Sweet Shoppe and featuring past and present members of the likes of Assassins 88, TV Colours and Sex Noises, Wives have launched into a harrowing post-punk underworld in their sonic inebriation. 'Buried' is a track on the latest Cinnamon Records mixtape and is darkly seductive. The band intend to bring out their debut album last year (I have been lucky enough to hear it - it's incredible) - expect big things from these guys in 2015
Another band outta Canberra that has just recently reared its ugly head is the excellent Agency, featuring members of Hoodlum Shouts, Spartak and A Drone Coda. The band are intent on making a noisy mess of everything they touch - a Shellac-esque Midas. They are currently recording for their first official release, but in the meantime get a taste of their wares on the unmastered track 'High Heat'. I live for this serrated melody and destruction.
A very new band on the Brisbane scene is 100%, the trio divulging a torrent of glacial electronic elegance not often found in Sir Joh's graveyard. The girls have mostly been in punk and hardcore bands in the past (Chloe still drums for Cannon) and that edge is evident on the urgent 'Phantom Game'. But this BDSM tainted tantric swirl of a demo is very much stuck to the red-light-lit, velvet draped underbelly of cyberpunk seduction. Think Nun but a bit glam underneath the black couture - this is fucking amazing.
ScotDrakula are pushing hard to ensure that the garage rock phenomenon in Australia doesn't dwindle away amongst other trends and concerns with their self-titled LP that came out last month. When bands like Step-Panther change things up and Velociraptor teeter on the edge of novelty, something as silly and simple as 'Shazon' is all the world really needs to justify its existence - plus they have other songs called 'Wendigo' and 'Pig Eyes' so you know, they have my vote. Grab the album here.
Lotta post punk coming out of Australia. Another band (who I spoke about not too long ago) is Melbourne four-piece Halt Ever, who are prepping a 7" launch early in 2015 around the time they will be supporting Eagulls - a double chamber hit for the band. 'Vicious Decor' is the A-Side and it starts in a squall of frenetic noise that blows arteries before the incessant melody comes forcibly to the surface. They cite Sonic Youth and The Wipers - seriously, this is my gear. Gearing up as a powerhouse live act, 2015 might actually see Halt Ever burst through to the upper echelons of Australian artists next year. And seeing as they have a song called 'Bruce Springsteen's Tears', so they bloody well should.
Another new band to blow me away in an instant is yet another Melbourne band, PLY/RS. The capitals/no vowels combo throws you deliberately off track, as the trio (formerly/betterly known as McBain) blast through the speakers with an aberrant scree of schizophrenic punk annihilation on Gold Mine, Gold Yours (recorded by Scul Hazzards' Steven Smith). The former plays out like an epileptic nightmare, whilst Gold Yours stretches things out to five times the length, and is all the more fearful because of it. In short, it's brilliant. They are releasing a new album in 2015 - if only this was a Sonic Masala release... The fact this exists is enough yuletide fare though for me.
Chook Race only brought out a split EP with Unity Floors not that long ago, but they are preparing to launch their new album aptly named About Time. First taste off it is 'Dentists' and it has the fidgety, somehow muscular jangle of Eddy Current Suppression Ring with the buoyancy that Chook Race pin down so effortlessly. It is being distributed throughout the US via Easter Bilby Records so hopefully a push over the pond is on the cards for these excellent dudes.
Another hotly anticipated release comes from a band that have been an indelible part of my DNA since the mid-2000s, Love Of Diagrams. Seriously, their instrumental debut The Target Is You is still stellar, one of the underrated albums of this century. Of course the lyrics have since come fully to the fore, but that doesn't mean their warm intricate interplay doesn't continue to weave aural magic and roots you to the spot. The new album Blast comes out on Bedroom Suck Records in March. Recorded at Steve Albini's Chicago Mastering Studio. Photo above taken by Bob Weston. ENOUGH! Blast cannot come soon enough!
Joe Saxby, once of short-lived Tabletop Lamps, now masquerades as These Guy. His productions are always pretty fun. Well he released an EP through Wood and Wire Records earlier this year called Human Language, and it's, in his words, "I found it only appropriate to make a kind of tepid, grammatically inadequate play on this idea and call myself These Guy and make beats and melodies and etcetera just like every other whiteboy with a computer." The discombobulated musings here all float around the notion that the most psychologically damaging thing to a human is human language itself, with all its nuances, discrepancies and failings. The album itself overlaps and floats in and out of recorded sounds, "whiteboy computerings" and a sharp insightful mind. In short, this is the calling card for an artist of considerable talent. Small Fact - he also played a Campfire Songs session, so there you go - I know what I'm on about.
Stacey Wilson (Rites Wild)'s noise/drone experiment Regional Curse released a self-titled record back in September through Not Not Fun/Format, and it is incredible. Mastered by Lawrence English (who had a great year himself with his excellent Wilderness of Mirrors album), the album is a dark and meditative journey through the lesser-explored regions of insecurity and regret, before a surreal sensuous reawakening occurs, the emergence out of the chrysalis, reborn. It is this kind of electronic drone that I truly enjoy - something that coalesces inside of you and around you, not just a bludgeoning apocalyptic nadir.
Another misnomer of a moniker is Kids of Zoo - these kids are anything BUT family-friendly. The punks never let up throughout the entirety of new album Welcome To Parrot Eyes, with the longest track barely scraping the underbelly of two-and-a-half minutes. There are McLusky moments ('Bad Nanna'), there are Hot Snakes moments, there are Jesus Lizard moments, there are even local touchstones like The Kremlings in there - but above all else, it is a electric rod into the groin that drives you around like a horny marionette, the sex punk parody of Weekend At Bernies with added cocaine. Out through Every Night Is A Saturday Night (The Spinning Rooms, Batpiss), this album is a powerhouse injection in both ears, an aural colonoscopy, a sonic desecration, a noise-laden lynching. Maybe it is for all the family after all...
Sydney dreamers Cull have another single out in the form of 'Nasty Drought', which will feature on their debut LP Aloft in early 2015. It's another dreamworld that is not of this world - the skewed bent notes that throw the balance off the cathartic release, the operatic sighs and warbles that belie the muscularity that drives the band forward... Cull are an elliptic band - hard to pin down, even harder to resist. They are playing Petersham Bowls Club Sunday Jan 18 supporting Ghost Notes' Moonlight State launch (sorry, had to fit in one more plug!) - expect to hear more from these guys next year.
Brisbane wired degenerates Bent played one of their first shows at a Sonic Masala show at Trainspotters (supporting Beef Jerk) and have continued to skew all notions of song-based writing on their rusted corkscrew. It's post-punk a la Trash Kit, but decidedly more unhinged - Heidi Cutlack's vocals and lyrics veer well off the track, a stream of unconsciousness, whilst Glen Schenau's guitar is just as breathtaking and off-the-wall as we have come to expect from the Per Purpose frontman. Non Soon (out on Virtual Cool) is eighteen songs of broken wails and cathartic chemtrails - an epiphany from the madman in the skies.
I feel remiss already having not covered the two singles off their new record, called, err, Record, so here is a mention to Brisbane sludgy degenerates Bottlecock who launched said album last weekend. 'Girt By Dickheads' and 'Karaoke Quickie' are great songs, even if my favourite is the newly offered 'Caant' which upholds those early drilled into the hole Magic Dirt references mainly due to Ash Cock's growl and sneer. A very underrated band - but then again, they don't really give a fuck - they are called Bottlecock after all. Nevertheless, get behind these clowns, they are great. Vote #1 Dickheads indeed.
Adam Scott has played in a plethora of Brisbane punk bands such as Eat Laser Scumbag! and Undead Apes. He is also responsible for Future Shocks, an 80s cyberpunk odyssey as imagined by the Sierra gaming studio. So it holds all the Scott staples then - heavy Ramones influence, tongue firmly in cheek, droll film clip (from the ever prolific Alex Dunlop). The sadness would by devastating if it wasn't so hilarious. Touche, Mr Shocks, touche.
Another day, another Dunlop production. This time its for Pleasure Symbols, another synth downer act from Brisbane - I mean that in the best possible way, because the glacial grind that this duo breaks out is the sensuous counterpoint to Multiple Man's sneering arrogance, yet still with the same level of disdain. I really dig these guys, and hope to hear heaps more of them in 2015.
I have mentioned Kurt Eckardt AKA Astral Skulls in the past. Well he has released another couple of songs recently, and they are both pretty ace. 'In The Sky' is this languid pulse with a gnarled electric guitar jam that underpins it all - but with Eckardt's monotone vocals dripping of melancholy and abject despair - yet still makes you feel pretty great. The party jumps back in with 'This Party Bites', and I know that it's these DZ-meets-a-puerile-Total Control-esque tracks that get a lot of people's blood pumping, but I prefer the shuffle rather than the sprint here. Anyway, regardless, I'm looking forward to hearing the album Mystery Loves Company when it comes out.
Byron Bay's dirtiest garage mavens The Ganaschz have more no-fi dribblings on offer, which are always nice. 'Wow Kapow' is a surprisingly well-executed video featuring fake beards, fake crocodiles, real knives and balloons - lots of balloons. The song itself is breakneck, a breathless balltearer - as you would expect from these degenerates. Are they bringing out an album? I can never tell with these guys what the fuck is going on. Ah well - at least we have this.
The calm before the storm - the penultimate band release on this relentlessly gargantuan post is the 7" split between two unheralded acts out of Melbourne, Hot Palms and Soda Eaves. 'Muss Blues' and 'Lolly Water' are as meditative and breathtaking as ever, a somnambulist sojourn through mid-dusk netherworlds, where the feet lift from the ground and the shadows flee your body. It's stuff like this that makes me miss Australia so much. You can buy the 7" now - and you really really should. Soda Eaves will also be supporting Ghost Notes on their Moonlight State tour - this show at the Public Bar at Sunday January 25.
And to finish off, another much anticipated Australian release - Captains of Industry by noise deviants DEAD. It's actually been out for a while, but the vinyl has been a times' coming. I'm not gonna say much now - partly because I have been doing this post on and off for six hours, but also because it deserves a stand-alone review - but suffice to say it is brilliant, and may feature in my best of list to end out the year. Just sayin. Buy this ASAP.