Sunday, 28 June 2015

Hits From The Box #105 - The Thick Of Summer

Not a bad weekend London. Spent Saturday wandering around the joint, drinking in Spitalfields/Shoreditch/on the Thames; spent Sunday lapping up the intermittent sun and vintage sparkle in Crystal Palace. Now at home enjoying copious Doom Bars and fajitas while watching The Iannucci programs, listening to music and revelling in wearing shorts without climate recriminations. Work may be shit, and I still may not get enough time (or definitely money) in the day to focus on Sonic Masala, but when London embraces you it's a mighty fine thing.

Let's get into some new music - and because I have the buzz on, let's look at eight acts out of the inbox!

Kicking off with Boston's Vundabar, yet another amazing off-kilter guitar rock band from Massachusetts (how aren't these guys on Exploding In Sound?). Their record Gawk is something to get excited about - a bubbling, fidgeting, spasming gem, playing like Menomena with a Pile complex (don't we all these days?). Math rock twitches, tropical vocals that belie inherent personal anxieties and anachronisms, melodies destined to burrow into your brain - Gawk has it all. Pick it up here.

With bands like Gazar Strips, Nite Fields and Bat Nouveau, Brisbane has had its fair share of great Gothic post-punk acts over the last few years. Now add Nature Trails. The four-piece manage to traverse time, space, geography - a Matt Beringer croon here, a Simon Gallup bassline there, cold yet entrancing 80s Berlin monochrome wasteland everywhere. Their six EP In Glass is glistening with ethereal yet pervasive promise, and their current strong work ethic will see the four-piece continue to rise.

Staying Down Under we check out the demos of Sydney trio Draining Pool. Barking Out casts a three-sided die of alternate possibility - 'I'm So Low' starts off like a narcoleptic Stephen Malkmus murmur before hiccoughing into a washed out fuzz dream; 'Intelligence' tingles with urgency, an off-key radio transmission that bleeds into the mainstream like a emaciated Antipodean Gaslight Radio relic; and 'Barking Out' takes its time in building its wonky indie patois, taking in a Krautrock hue and hemming it all in with the effect of a broken foyer speaker dribbling forth muzak from another world. These are early days, but Draining Pool really evoke something special. The band play with SM faves Spirit Bunny and Matt Banham this Saturday in Sydney before venturing to the Queensland capital for fellow Sydneysiders Beast & Flood's album launch at the Bearded Lady (alongside SM cronies Ghost Notes and great upstarts Low Season).

Excellent French distro label Beko Disques have been promoting a lot of Aussie stuff recently (expect to hear more news about these releases soon...and maybe a few SM related things too...). The main release that I have been listening to the past week though has been from Ukrainian band Blagodat, whose two-track taster is incredible. Taking sinuous post-punk lurkers into a lustrous yet brooding soundscape, Blagodat rattle the cages with gravity and grandeur. As you can see I am loving this kind of sound right now...

The Rauch-Sasseen sisters (Anna, Erin and Katie) make up the centrifugal force of Brooklyn's Hey Anna, whose soon-to-drop album Run Koko is a golden miasma of indie whimsy that manages to offer effervescence through prisms of light melodies and bombastic instrumental bluster. From the propulsive drive and 'Spirit In The Sky' echoes of 'Don't Talk Stop' to the cascading shimmer and shadow of 'Island and the smart punchiness of 'Move Your Body', Hey Anna manage to marry melody with muscle and in the process are crafting some of the most infectious pop of 2015 while maintaining a high degree of integrity. Heavyweight lightness maybe?

Back to Australia now with Kit Convict & Thee Terrible Two, a rough and ready, ramshackle garage rock band that revel as much in adulation of idols The Easybeats as they do with modern garage contemporaries and injecting it all with a strong serum of The Cramps' rusted ridiculousness, the trio's album Watch Your Skull is a breakneck blast of seventeen songs, all delivered with a railyard punch and spat with vim and vigour, 70s Brit punk laid over rattle-and-chains primitivism. It's roughshod, raw, nascent and nihilistic - and a hell of a lot of fun.

Synth punk nihilists Ho99o9 are following in the scum-lined footstops of GG Allin and Death Grips on their EP Horrors of 1999. MC Ride and Zach Hill have blown a hole in the fabric of what to expect of punk and these grotbags stutter out of the same diseased amniotic fluid. These guys are about to be huge. Their VHS horror video below is also incredibly brilliant. I'm in awe of this scabrous descent - the Death Grips comparisons may be inevitable, but Ho99o9 are carving their own nightmare, one inch of flesh at a time.

And to glide into the Sunday summer sunset we have Florida's Sea Cycles who have presented a suite of subterranean dreams in the form of debut album Ground & Air. The band revels in creating intricately unspooling and intense instrumentals interspersed with Lindsey Slante's undulating, soaring-on-the-airstreams vocals. Imagine Explosions In The Sky and The Album Leaf jamming in a secluded woodland clearing - Sea Cycles is the heady, hypnotic result.


Happy Sunday everyone!

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