Sunday 28 February 2010

Sunday's sit back and relax clip - Smog, Rock Bottom Riser

We all need something nice and 'pretty' to help us come down from a wild weekend, to curb the creeping disquiet at the incoming working week, and to generally help us rest and relax on this, 'the 7th day'.

So today I offer you some Smog. Not exactly a 'pretty' song - Bill Callahan has never been known to offer up glowing nuggets of musical sunshine - but there is something about 2006's A River Ain't Too Much To Love that provides an aquatic wonderland in my mind, music that I can float in ad nauseum. It was a toss up as to whether Id post Rock Bottom Riser or the brilliant Say Valley Maker, and whilst they offer superlative tales on the powers of redemption, I really like this clip - a mesmerising pastiche of psychedelic Japanese=style animation, done on rice paper.

Saturday 27 February 2010

Sunset Rubdown - Dragon's Lair

Amazing song and video. Johnny Depp has come out and said that he listened to these guys when getting into character for the Mad Hatter - not sure how, but anyway...

Sunset Rubdown - Dragon's Lair - Official Video from Throneboogie on Vimeo.

'Everyone High-Fiving Everyone'

Fang Island describe their music as 'everyone high-fiving everyone'.

What an amazing way to describe the sound that they have created on their self-titled debut LP (put out by the tres cool Sargent House Records), a kaleidoscopic explosion of colour and sound, predominantly instrumental, occasional choral calls and hand claps notwithstanding. There are elements of a more laidback Lightning Bolt, a more streamlined Animal Collective, a less hairy '80s hair guitar band, a little Minibosses (except they aren't covering vintage Nintendo game soundtracks - they are creating their own) - hell, there's even some almost country and western guitar noodling near the end of the track Treeton! - but overall this album reeks of happy happy joy joy!

I was stunned when I gave this album its first listen - I had been expecting something more post-rock. Probably because I had been told that it was a post-rock album. This is something else altogether. The band manage to meld their musical talents into one huge collective of radiant positivity. With three guitarists weaving their magic, harmonising their twisted chords into a tapestry of uplifting 'high-fivery', the drummer and bassist struggling valiantly to keep the band centred before they float into the air and towards the sun, Fang Island never fails to impress. Every song punches you in the chest, a surefire arrow of good times sure to cheer you up at every opportunity. Its the feel good hit of...well, every season henceforth. The soundtrack to a heady fun-filled summer? The choice to help wipe away the melancholia brought forth by the shitness that epitomises the winter? Music to mark the moments as the shoots break through the earth and the sun starts to stir, the first signs of spring? A warm remembrance of good times past as the green turns amber and the leaves start to fall? Yep - its all right here. And its unrelentless in its catchiness.

Technically brilliant, relentlessly upbeat, Fang Island has in one day become my current frontrunner for best album of 2010. Get it, listen to it, make love to it, have a million of its babies. Then have them high-five each other - the most simple joyous gesture of them all.

Fang Island will be touring the US extensively later in the year with the likes of Red Sparowes and the Chinese Stars, and Andrew W.K. (?) joining them on stage on occasion, these guys will be huge. You heard it here. Have a taste of their single, Daisy, and another track, Life Coach.

Fang Island - Daisy
Fang Island - Life Coach

Dragging Swan Lake

Giant Drag is a band that I really like. Their cover of Chris Isaak's Wicked Game is in my all time fave cover versions. Their first album, Hearts & Unicorns, was a small wonder of grungy grrl angst. Their bio claims that the world would be a better place if everyone realised that we are all just living piles of semen.

And now they have a new EP out.

Swan Song is out now. Giant Drag have just been booted from their label and are self-funded, so I implore you - listen to this track, then go buy their album. In fact, Giant Drag have their own eBay store so that all funds will go to them and not back to their record label - check it out.

Friday 26 February 2010

Cymbals eating Guitars? Outrageous!

Paul and I caught these guys last year at the Brixton Windmill after becoming enamoured with last year's album Why There Are Mountains and whilst they still had some issues to iron out (the constant tuning of instruments between songs destroyed any atmosphere their admittedly good set could have generated), their incessant touring (coming over to the UK 3 times last year no less) marks them as an exciting band to watch. Cymbals Eat Guitars, a 4-piece from Staten Island U.S., are about to release an E.P., Wind Phoenix, and this track is featured on it. Eat it, and enjoy the feast!

Cymbals Eat Guitars - Ballad of Big Nothing

Drop the Atom bomb on us, Thom!

Unless you've been living under a sound proofed gargantuan rock for some time, you would have heard of the 'supergroup' that Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke put together in order to play live his solo gear in a beefier fashion. The band - Yorke, Red Hot Chilli Peppers bassist extraordinaire Flea, Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, REM/Beck/in demand everywhere skinsman Joey Waronker, and percussion man Mauro Refesco - finally have a moniker - Atoms For Peace. And they loved the performances back in October last year so much, they are touring again later this year. So far, only the US, ending with Coachella - but fingers crossed Thom drops the (Atom) bomb UK-side in the near future!

The Glove Fits #1 - The Warlocks

Every Friday Im going to be posting a song that sits in the annals of MY music history as either pure genuis or a reflector of a major experience in my life. Paul and I started up Sonic Masala in order to continue our quest to celebrate the music that we like, and that hopefully you do too. But a major aspiration of this blog is to reach out to you, the reader/listener, and hook you onto your new favourite band.

Hence the first track I am presenting. I had never heard of these guys before 2002. I walked into my local record store - Rockinghorse Records in Brisbane, Australia - and had a surreal High Fidelity moment - the track came over the speakers as I entered the shop, and I could just about see the carrot being dangled in front of me as the disillusioned employee muttered, 'Ill sell 5 copies in the next 15 minutes...' I stormed up to the counter and demanded to know who had concocted such brilliant mesmeric psychedelic rock???

The answer - The Warlocks.

But, believe it or not, the album that the song came off - their 2nd LP, Phoenix - was out of stock except for the one playing, that one of the employees owned. So I settled for their 1st record, Rise and Fall. Sound unheard, I raced it home, put it into the CD player (despite my housemates watching some shit on MTV), cranked up the volume - and almost shat myself. Ever since I long for the day that I can commune with this 7-11-piece (its forever evolving), 2-drummer, 4-guitarist behemoth of a rock beast, producing a relentless, hypnotic wall of sound so that I may curl up in their shadow and sleep eternally in their smoky embrace...

Oh, I also failed to mention that this was in the midst of my heaviest bong days.

Nevertheless, The Warlocks are genuis, and despite threats to break up, they still prowl around the US doing shows. Until you are lucky enough to encounter them, have a listen to the first proper song I heard of them.

Warlocks discography

2000 - Warlocks EP
2001 - Rise & Fall
2002 - Phoenix
2005 - Surgery
2007 - Heavy Deavy Skull Lover
2009 - The Mirror Explodes

The Warlocks - Jam of the Witches

A full moon gives me the blues

Just got my mitts on the new record by Wolf People. Of course the wolf band names are a dime a dozen, and frankly boring nowadays (even though its a cool word) and often come lumped with connotations of hipster wank (sorry Wolf Eyes and Wolf Parade...the rest of you, Im pointing fingers). Dont dismiss Tidings purely on the band's moniker. They are out and out 70s blues rock - and not your Wolfmother poseuring kind either. The LP drips of soulful and drug-fucked blues that we associate with Hendrix (although never reaching those heights), even placing the pops and crackles on the CD version, so you know they were born for vinyl. They are also very popular at the moment, being picked up by great label Jagjagwar (the first UK band to do so) and scoring support gigs with the likes of Besnard Lakes, Lightning Dust and Dead Meadow. I aim to be at all gigs, so could find myself howling at the moon in the very near future...


31 March - Cargo (supporting Besnard Lakes)
6 May - Lexington (supporting Lightning Dust - side project of Black Mountain)
26 May - Bush Hall (supporting psychedelic giants Dead Meadow)

Wolf People - Empty Heart

Friday wake up call

Pygmy Shrews are small furry animals known for their ferocity and vigour. This Brooklyn trio certainly live up to their name sake - ok, they maybe not be furry, but they're certainly ferocious. Loud, brash and in your face blown out grungy noise-rock, Pygmy Shrews produce brief, violent outbursts of aggressive frenzy interspersed with focused leaps of melody and changes in rhythm, although it does all pass with bullet like intent. This will definitely wake you up and piss off your next door neighbours!

Pygmy Shrews - Please Brain Drugs

They also have this crazy blog to check out here

Thursday 25 February 2010

When The Brady Bunch encountered post-rock

Europe, and Scandinavia in particular, has been the home to some of the best 'post-rock' bands in the world. Coming from Australia, where post-rock seems destined to remain a fleeting undercurrent (bands such as Because of Ghosts and Laura, two of the best post-rock bands ANYWHERE, keep the flame burning, but only just), it is such a pleasant surprise to see and hear so many bands here expanding on the notions of what post-rock encapsulates. And whilst the term post-rock usually implies a lack of vocals, there are many bands adhering to the genre's dynamics whilst adding vocals as 'assistance'.

Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson is one of those bands.

These Norwegians met at school back in 2004, deciding to form a band and yet unsure of what sound they would make their own. So they wrote a clutch of songs that covered a range of genres. It was one song, A list not to be read at your wedding, that the guys were most happy with and went about constructing songs using this as their foundation. The result was their lovely debut Unnoticeable in a Tiny Town, Invisible in the City. It took another 5 years before they produced their second self-titled LP, out this month. It has all the hallmarks of 'vocal-assisted' post rock - dreamy, soaring shoegaze guitars, floating reverbed lyrics, echoing shouts, cascading cymbals and rolling snares, all building to that ephemeral release that so enraptures loud/quiet enthusiasts. YPOFH arent a generic band, however. The band has returned in such a lovingly grandiose fashion, offering a double album of immense appeal (both musically and packaging-wise) that will have listeners floating in the ether of their own mindscapes for hours, days, months to come. There is a calm serenity that permeates each song, even when exploding into more heavy landscapes like in I Think E.T. Is Involved In My Family (an admittedly terrible song title). They hold onto the esoteric wanderings of post-rock wizards Explosions in the Sky, and whilst not reaching the heights of the Texan legends, it really is the vocals that elevates YPOFH above the also-rans - no more so than the album closer, Scientists Now Think This City Is Overdue, where the vocals are brought to the fore.

Oh, and the moniker? Came from the boys sitting around and hearing the phrase 'nude pictures of Florence Henderson' on the news. It makes sense - that the titillation of Mrs Brady porn would elicit the nucleus for a Scandinavian post-rock outfit? If only all good ideas came from such realms...

Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson - He Can't Be Dead, I Got His Autograph Last Week

Electrified Relaxation

I have debated with my good friend Luke for over a year now as to whether the name of the below featured band is tongue in cheek brilliance or just plain shit. Regardless of the outcome of this rostrum, Ive been a massive fan of Eddy Current Suppression Ring for some years now. The Sydney, Australia four piece have been relentlessly touring their brand of skitterish turn of the '80s visceral punk circa Tom Verlaine/Television all over Down Under, and although they are yet to crack international fame they keep plugging away - and with their 3rd album, Rush to Relax, I hope they succeed...

The album finds them equally in 'if it ain't broke...' and 'the grass is greener...' modes. How can such a juxtaposition exist on one record? Simple. The short songs - like Anxiety, Walked Into A Corner, I Got A Feeling - are pure classic ECSR, short sparks of ranted/chanted/spat vocals, punchy guitar, simple yet energetic rhythm section. Anxiety seems a natural extension of vocalist Brendan Suppression's state of mind (at least on stage), his frenetic swaying and jerky movements belying a tortured soul, a musical schizophrenic. Yet the departure doesnt come so much from a different style so as a jamming headspace that sees songs like Tuning Out and Second Guessing extend over the 6 minute mark. The songs themselves are self contained ECSR songs, no question - but it also allows for the band to provide a more sonic, improvised sound. Some pundits have argued that this takes away from the inherent bluster and beauty that is Eddy Current, but I disagree - especially with Tuning Out, which provides a languid spacey jam in between Brendan's anxious ravings. It all ends with the title track, with rumbling drum and bass, insistent strumming and desperate vocals telling us to calm down and relax, the very antithesis of the sound invading the airwaves...before 20 minutes of crashing surf closes out the album.

Rush to Relax proves to be a great follow up to their first two albums, Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Primary Colours (both having garnered release hear through Melodic Records), a true testament to this garage punk band. And whilst they continue to garner plaudits in Australia (having won the Australia Music award in 2008 for Primary Colours; past recipients include the peerless Drones), the hard work and high-octane energy exerted at their live shows appears to be (finally) bearing fruition, as they have scored a support slot for Pissed Jeans for their US tour in July! So its time to get electrified...

NB. Ill be returning to Australia for a brief holiday in April, and ECSR just so happen to be playing - a review will be in the works...

Eddy Current Suppression Ring - Anxiety

Crap car, good band

There's always been a thing for bands to name themselves after stuff that is less than desirable. In case of the band Talbot Tagora, an ugly looking French car from the mid seventies.

In many ways the disorganised racket that Talbot Tagora put out is just as ugly as their automotive namesake, but unlike the French car manufacturer the Seattle art-punk trio are definitely catchy, a warm rhythmic heart beating under layers of angular noise. Their mechanical and muddled punk seems to exude an echoey mess that warms their metallic deluge, rhythms spring to life from the center of the tracks as if a monster is calling you from the depths. You're almost made to search for the repetitive rhythm from within their songs but once you've found it you're greatly rewarded.

Talbot Tagora's debut album 'Lessons In The Woods Or A City' came out in July last year. And the reason I'm posting about them now? Well I think it was one L.P that was sorely over looked last year, so here's your chance to make amends...

Talbot Tagora - Ichthus Hop
Talbot Tagora - Replacing The Northwest

Oh and they have a thing for hiding behind fish!

Fighting my own prejudices. Thankfully.

I have to say I was a little reluctant at first, thinking 'here goes another model-wife-of-rock-star trying to make it into the limelight by getting rock-star hubby to produce a record for her'. Well, if this live acoustic version of 'The Ghost Who Walks' is anything to go by, I will have to eat my own words and acknowledge that Karen Elson actually does deserve the credit, irrespective of Jack White's magic touch... Earlier collaborations with Cat Power or Melissa Auf der Maur were already hinting there was more to come.

'The Ghost Who Walks' shimmers in its simplicity. Karen's raw yet evocative voice carries the song's poignant lyrics as if it were tailor-made, elevating itself over a pared down melody of one single acoustic guitar...

White also directed the video, whose gloominess adds to the haunting sentiment of the track. You can view it below. You can also download the mp3 from her website in exchange of your e-mail address.


Wednesday 24 February 2010

Why Meth Is Good For You...

One of my favourite albums of 2009 was by Meth Teeth.

Who? Exactly.

Meth Teeth released Everything Went Wrong, an album of ramshackle garage mumblings that I couldn't help but fall in love with. From Portland, the band interplays distinct guitar interplay with sludgy distortion, crisp drumming with shattering cymbal smashing, driving bass with staccato rhythms. The only constant - if you can call it that - are the vocals - a distorted mess that are indecipherable and yet intrinsic to the inner workings of each song. Overall the album exudes fun and warmth, rollicking blues, swampy guitars and drunken howling all combining to create a tres feel good hit of the summer.

Meth Teeth - Never Been To Church

Shelley's Confessional Gold

Just a little aside to let you know that legendary drummer Steve Shelley from a relatively unknown act called Sonic Youth is about to release an album later this year with his newly formed band, The High Confessionals.

Consisting of Shelley, Chris Connelly (Ministry), Sanford Parker (Buried At Sea) and Jeremy Lemos (White/Light), the High Confessionals will drop their debut, Turning Lead Into Gold With The High Confessionals, promising a slab of heavy, psychedelic rock.

Can't wait!

Trash your kit

Trash Kit are a band I've seen live twice, a band who wear face paint, a band who supported Tune Yards, a band who Upset the Rhythm have gotten behind and are putting out their album sometime in March. Trash Kit are primal yet playful. Have at the live review (see below) and listen to their excellent track 'Cadets'.

Trash Kit - Cadets

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Gig - Tuneyards/Trash Kit/Think About Life @ Cargo, 15.02.10

As stated earlier, here is last weeks review for the sublime TuNe-YaRdS gig...

Upset the Rhythm kickstart their onslaught of great gigs last month with the likes of Gary War and Vivian Girls, showcasing some of the best from their stable in the process. Tonight at Cargo the juggernaut continues as the feted cracked genius of Tune-Yards gets to show her minimalist wares to a largely unsuspecting public, who failed to shy away from the admittedly commonplace that is the fucking shitty London weather. Sorry, but after a few months of this, I cannot remember the last gig I went to that didn't require me getting either a wet head or wet shoes...

8 years to bundle

The Bundles are a new band, but not a new band. Their new album is in fact based around five songs that Jeffrey Lewis and Kimya Dawson wrote together back in February 2001, over eight years ago. Now those five songs have turned into The Bundles including other band members Jeffery's brother Jack, Karl Blau and Anders Griffen. A antifolk super group.

The album was finally recorded in February 2009, so its taken 8 years to write and a mere few days to record. Basically it sounds like the Moldy Peaches with the weight of a full band behind it. So yes its awesome!

The Bundles - Pirates Declare War

Youth Without Youth Is Still Youth

Your Youth (formerly Graphics) are a 3 piece that produce snotty fuzzed out lo fi garage, and have just released a 4 track self titled EP that can be downloaded for free here - Its very simplistic, and a lot of fun.

Your Youth - Diamonds (link removed at request)

Christmas comes early

Here's something I havent been able to get out of my head this week. The Sleigh Bells are essentially a boy/girl two piece outfit from Brooklyn who have recently brought out their self titled debut album. It opens with 2HELLWU, a simply orchestrated piece of mostly snare, soft jangling guitar and angelic vocals. Oh, and handclaps. And finger clicks. The human percussion continues throughout the album, but the simplicity does not, as the 3rd and 5th tracks Crown On The Ground and Infinity Guitars attest - the former holding a Yeah Yeah Yeah's style riff before cascading in a cymballic bombtrack highlighted with a synth assault; the latter holding a gritty Kinks All Day and All Of the Night riff, thick bass drums, some ah ah ah's, actual sleigh bells and catcalling with attitude. A/B Machines feels like a bizarre mix of Joan Jett, Peaches and MIA, whilst Ring Ring has a distinctively Beta Band circa 3 E.P.s feel to it, with Alexis' sweet voice melding with the looping acoustic guitar and clicking fingers. Yep - did I hear 2010's Tilly and the Wall? It sounds like a catastrophic clusterfuck of a faux cool disaster. I think its mega rad of death - but will they stand the test of time? Hmmm...who cares, Alexis is fucking hot...

The Sleigh Bells are playing a series of dates in London in March, so make sure you don't miss them...

23 March - White Heat @ Madame JoJos
24 March - Cargo (supporting Islands)
25 March - Notting Hill Arts Club (supported by Widower)
26 March - Koko (supporting fun.)

Sleigh Bells - Crown on the Ground
Sleigh Bells - Guitars Infinity

Not cold but hot, warm, muggy pumas

Forgive the rubbish title (I'm getting quite good at those!) but according to my brother Pumas aren't cold. He's out in Bolivia looking after injured pumas in the jungle at the moment and apparently it is hot! Oh so hot! Yep my link is that tenuous!

Cold Pumas are a band from Brighton, I got excited about their first e.p. 'Jela'. They've got a new track kicking around the web, 'Tropical Guilt', it's like falling down a tropical waterfall with dancing fruit or, in their own words “motorik for partying.” Good stuff.

Cold Pumas - Tropical Guilt

And, yes, that is a picture of a Puma my brother is "Walking".

Dum te dum...

We're off to see Dum Dum Girls on Friday at the mighty Lexington, courtesy of White Light, should be good. A good dose of "blissed-out buzz saw" on a Friday night.

Anyway thought I'd pop up a taste in the form of their 'first' single, Jail La La, out on 7", buy it! Of course other Dum Dum Girls 7" and e.p. tracks have been floating around the web for a while but this is the first track from the forthcoming album 'I Will Be' out on Sub Pop at the end of March, one for the wish list then.

Are you lucky enough to be seeing them tomorrow at the The Old Blue Last or Thursday at Barden's Boudoir? There's also dates on Saturday - The Rest Is Noise, Brixton and Tuesday - Madame Jo Jo's.

Dum Dum Girls - Jail La La

Monday 22 February 2010

Any clues?

A few weeks ago The Decibel Tolls dropped a couple of tracks from The N.E.C's album 'Is' and I've been smitten ever since. The N.E.C. (Natural Extension Concept) is a Psychedelic, Shoegaze, Noise, Rock band from Atlanta.

'Its Right' is a 1 minute 37 second head first plummet into a tunnel of swirling noise, where Dead of Night is a more measured beast, but a beast all the same, growling in shadows, waiting to pounce. Rest assured, these guys are the real deal. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of the album, I've just got to own it. I'm sure Double Phantom Records are on to a winner!

The N.E.C - Its Right
The N.E.C - Dead of Night

San Francisco hack up

Bit behind on this one but I'm enjoying Mi Ami's 12" 'Cut Men'/'Out at Night' at the mo. Out on Thrill Jockey. Last years album 'Water Sports' didn't get anywhere enough attention, in my opinion. Can't wait to see them live in June thanks to Upset The Rhythm.

Mi Ami - Cut Men

Saturday 20 February 2010

Love will tear us apart...

I thought long and hard about what would mark my 1st inclusion to Sonic Masala. Would I open with a review of the year that was, and what great things I expected of 2010? Would it be a review of the first of many brilliant gigs or albums of the year? A top Ten? A diatribe on the black dirge of musical talent that mainstream record companies throw their money at whilst pure musical geniuses toil away in the dark, and just like mushrooms delve in the shit and grow because of it?


I’m going to write about something far more ‘arbitrary’. The killing of a song.

Everyone has been witness to the moment when, after bleeding your eardrums of all its moisture from replaying that new favourite song over and over again, you hit the play button and after a few moments think, ‘I fucking hate this shit.’ Or something to that effect.

Get Knifed Anew

The Knife's soundtrack to a musical opera on Darwin? Hey, makes sense to me. And it makes even more sense to spend the rest of your evening listening to it - so do it.

Caribou back, on form and layered

I have to admit I've always had a bit of soft spot for Caribou, something to do with the awesome set they put in at ATP vs Pictchfork a few years ago. So when their new track 'Odessa' turned out to be just plan awesome, I was chuffed. 'One of the best songs of the year' I've read else where, I for one would not disagree...

...and top it all off Video Marsh have put together a gorgeous new video.

Caribou - Odessa from video marsh on Vimeo.

To get your mits on the mp3, for free, go here

Friday 19 February 2010

Thank you, no really

The new E.P. from Thank You is a bit of a fave of mine at the moment so I thought I'd share. If 'Pathetic Magic' below isn't enough to make you want to buy the wax, then the B-sides, including the Dan Deacon remix, must tempt you.

Thank You - Pathetic Magic

Growing Pains

Awesome new video for Growing’s “Hormone” from their new album PUMPS, out April 6th.

Tune my Yards

We were court Tune Yards on Monday, we were very impressed, full review to follow soon from Brendan. But here's some photos...

Click on the pics to see them massive.

Grind your face under a sole of gold

Woven Bones, hailing from Austin, Texes make dark, fuzzed, primitive, foot-stomping garage rockabilly. Like being beaten in the face with a slab of Stooges or Damned style granite. Well worth your time.

If You're Gold, I'm Gone - Woven Bones

Shut up and pay attention

A couple weeks ago I was lucky enough to see Islet put in one of their awesome live shows at the Lock Taven, Camden way. Although the crowd that night seemed to be more interested in themselves than the performance that was unfolding in front of them (god knows why) it was amazing. What little I had heard about the reclusive Islet proved to be true, they will blow you away!

It was one of the most energetic and enthralling live sets I've seen in ages, so here's a rather rare mp3 to wet your taste buds. Definitely ones to watch out for.

Sign for Home - Islet