Sunday, 22 November 2015

Hits From The Box #118 - Eat, Box, Dead

Another Sunday, another killer hangover. This one also included fireworks, but of a decidedly different nature - I attended a black-tie charity function where the main event was boxing. There was a ring in the middle of the function room, with tables set around it. Now I don't know about you, but regardless of whether you like the sport or not (me = not), there is something disconcerting about adults drinking wine and eating raspberry cheesecake in suits and gowns while white girls with cornrows beat the living shit out of each other. Suffice to say I drank my way through it. Now I am in a dark room, looking for sustenance for my soul. These bands are doing it for me today.

Starting off with Mia La Metta, the solo project for Beards drummer Kathy Gray. Beards is a frenetic left-field post-punk fever dream, a darker, trashier Trash Kit; Mia La Metta then is more exploratory, offering measured takes on the "day job" ('Black Sand') but just as concerned with finding motorik plateaus to air her wonked-pop wares ('White Ship'). The basic drum machine and synth lines are quirky yet effective, and Gray finds melody in the madness. 'Cut The Eye' could be a Peaches composition played by Ladytron, produced by Gary Numan and Wayne Coyne. Weirdness begets excellence. Grab the cassette through Crumb Cabin here.

Vancouver's Cult Babies describe themselves as Rosemary's Baby meets Baby Muppets. Silly, I know, and they know it too - look at the pic above. But one thing that isn't silly is Off To See The Lizard, the five-piece's new EP. Starting with the woozy, lethargic yet massive psych warble 'Garbage People', I felt like I was listening to Kurt Vile doing The Beatles covering Bobby 'Boris' Pickett at his most monster-mashing. 'On A Roll' is more straightforward in is cosmic tripping, but that organ and Theremin sound is so killer that you will go with it. The title track really hits the Black Angels dirge hard, and the live recording makes total sense here. 'Fuck Money' is a lot of fun, a wall of altered states; 'Conspiracy Dog' is gangly yet tightly-wound and deranged; and 'Yes We Cannibal' marches out, a hallucinogenic funeral procession into the mind. Great stuff.

I can't believe I haven't written about NZ champs Street Chant before! Newish track 'Pedestrain Support League' contains everything I love about them - irreverence, a strong sense of the sublime and the ridiculous, jaded jangle and melody to burn. Share-house living, the highs and lows, but mainly the lows. Huora is the band's second album, should be out this month, and I for one cannot wait to actually hear it. Keep up the sardonic sighs in technicolour tracks, guys.

Native Eloquence is three guys outta Oakland who craft what they call "water pop" - the percolating rhythms permeating Big Blue Nowhere tends to back such ideas up. The looped, layered instrumentation, playful grooves that settle like a hypnotic skipping record, and lilting, reverbing vocals evoke Animal Collective or Ducktails with their more spatially meditative mantras. Opener 'Doldrum' is the clear highlight, although the skronking saxophone in 'Habits' and the marimba in 'Wash' shows the breadth of magical talent on display. This album plays lightly on your consciousness, and haunts for days. Really impressed with this one.

Plum is Caleb from Sydney band the Cathys, and his EP Black Doris is four tracks of meandering, gauzy bedroom pop with inflections of shoegaze and somnambulist chill. Dream pop when done right has the audacity to lift spirits as it drifts along - extremely focused even as it seems to shift in the mist. Black Doris captures that elusive spirit.

Finishing up with Bad Lifers. a punk band from Canberra that are no more. That said, Dream Damage are releasing Shelf Life to alert the world on what has been missed. Originally recorded in 2012, the ten tracks on Shelf Life are short and loose, pub and BBQ punk for the urban fringe dwellers. The members went on to join bands like Ausmuteants and Danger Beach, and they were loose units who played alongside The Fighting League. Shelf Life is never going to capture what the handful of Canberrans who caught Bad Lifers live were able to experience, but it'll'll do.

Happy Sunday everyone!

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