This year is reaching some heady milestones for Sonic Masala. Five years as a blog; one year as a label; the festival has become an annual concern; a new monthly live showcase in London. And here we are, reaching 100 Hits From The Box posts. Who'da thunk it, eh? But before the tears start to fall, crack the beers and crank the volume - let's get on with it!
I can't believe I haven't written about Oli Heffernan of Year of Birds' solo outfit Ivan the Intolerable before, but Splatter Bible is the best time to start. A cassette of bottom-barrel rock that weaves its way through the sewers of garage pop, somehow shimmering amongst the slime (the green cassette is perfect). This is a great release that is almost sold out (through Endless Records) - you have to get on this stat.
Gerda is an Italian noise outfit who have been killing eardrums for almost twenty years. They have only been killing mine for a week or so, ever since I stumbled on their latest album Your Sister, out on 5ive Roses Records. The seven track monster is chaotic, rusted-razor sharp, and explosive - I felt like I was listening to Every Time I Die reappropriating Jawbox songs. I've always teetered on the precipice when it has come to screamo output - there is either a numbness in the similarity between acts, or a dumbness that the expulsion of suppressed, abject rage often brings. But there is a vitality within the ferocity of Gerda's efforts that is energising rather than enervating...or maybe it's the Italian lyrics. Either way, get into this now.
Skeppet's Phase 3 is almost a year old, but I cannot get enough of it. Its a Swedish kosmiche petri dish, floating on a sea of gossamer guitar, surreptitious synth and subtly penetrating percussion. It's a heady ride that percolates languorously yet remains a potent brew, a spaced odyssey of exploration and obsolescence. The duo/trio are able to maintain a percolating intensity through, the kind of bubbling euphoria that the Inner Islands label specialises in. I haven't dipped my toes in these waters for so long - and I surely have missed such hazed and hypnotic escapism. Grab Phase 3 here.
Then we have LA shoegaze mavens Froth, who are about to crack it with their second record Bleak, out next month on the fantastic Burger Records. It looks to be a heady mixture of Wavves-early Cloud Nothings garage pop ephemera, Vaadat Charigim shoegaze euphoria, and Real Estate laidback charm. The frenetic and fun clip for 'Postcard Radio' pretty much nails it to be honest. I missed these guys when they played in London back in March, but I'm sure they will be back again soon.
It wouldn't be right to reach this milestone without bringing some Aussie mates to the party, so to represent Down Under is Sydney cads Black Springs with their latest 7" Time To Go. The dudes have been playing shows alongside contemporaries The Ocean Party, Chook Race and the Ancients - and the two tracks here rumbles along in a similar vein. Just as laconic as the former, with a slightly harder undercurrent a la the middle, and with a psych pop afterglow like the latter. I'm probably a bigger fan of 'Friends' rather than the titular A-side, but both tracks are great. Perfect for summer afternoon blazes, comedowns, fadeouts and resurrections. Their is a debut album, Japanese Hair, in the wings - can't wait for that one.
I'm still a little fidgety though, so let's round off with Round Eye, the anarchic roiling machine from Shanghai. These guys have released their first self titled LP, and I don't even know where to begin explaining this one hey. With guests appearances by Steve Mackay (The Stooges/Violent Femmes) on sax and the inimitable R Stevie Moore, the album feels like Mike Patton's nightmare - that is, all of his efforts rolled into one twitching, seething beast. 'City Livin' may play like a punk explosion, but the myriad other directions this album goes defies categorisation, description, and belief. Safe to say though that these guys are goddamn insane, and all the better for it.
Happy Sunday everyone!