Tuesday 31 August 2010

Illnesses - painful, pleasurable in equal doses

We have had a few good local bands contact us of late about their music and what they are up to. Tough Troubles are one act, however, that I am having difficulties coming to terms with. Not that I don't like them - their album Illnesses is extremely interesting with some great tracks - its just that said album is quite hard to categorise. A self-professed concept album (I can hear the uneasy loosening of ties from here), Illnesses flirts with, then flippantly cold-shoulders, convention at every turn, utilising samples, effects, mechanised beats, reverbed vocals, shoegaze showers, in telling a story about the human condition. Each song details a condition, an illness, the onset of a disease, a hereditary syndrome, a chromosome mutation. This is a dark piece of work, and when squirrelled away in a dark space with your headphones on, the impact of such an album is profound. Therefore you can say that this album is a success - but whether it will stand for repeated listens is another thing entirely. Nevertheless, Tough Troubles are an act to keep serious tabs on. And Im extremely excited to see how they recreate this sound in a living setting...

Tough Troubles' recordings thus far can be found on Geneva Lake Records.

Tough Troubles - Paraplegic
Tough Troubles - Radiation Sickness

Sunday 29 August 2010

Puppetry of the Lecherous

Speaking of, The Twilight Sad have a new song out, with the accompanying music video (all 7+ minutes of it!) showing a puppet smoking, drinking, and leering at naked strippers. I cant say its a great song - it comes across as Twilight Sad by numbers - but its a great video, and the EP for The Wrong Car features remixes by Scottish pals Errors and Mogwai. And if you know ANYTHING about me yet, its that anything with Mogwai attached is an immediate must-buy. You can pre-order The Wrong Car (out through Fat Cat Records, with the instantly recognisable Twilight Sad artwork in check) here, and you can watch 'The Wrong Car' below!

Oh, they are touring in October, playing the new XOYO venue on October 7th.

A Sense of Vertigo

Just received the new single from Yorkshire's Exit Calm, 'Don't Look Down'. The music video is very slick, and its obvious that the band, signed to Club AC30, are getting some major push.

I have to say though that I wish Id heard the song before seeing the vid. I couldnt help but think that the lead actor was some Bowie fetishist sleazing onto some young tired thing with askew bedhair in the dark - all unsettling and kinda Snow Patrol-y.

Yet the track itself showcased some greater spiralling guitar noise at its end, a grandiose affair that uses the quiet-loud dynamic to optimal effect. They come across as brooding indie rock (a la The Twilight Sad) that hover on that precipice between pop and aggression, not knowing whether to fly or to fall - wherein lies the beauty. But hey, Im saying this on just one track! The jury is still out on Exit Calm, but they have certainly intrigued.

Their EP Don't Look Down is out in October, and they have a run of UK dates in September and October, including one at ICA on September 17th (supporting Sereena Maneesh) and at Hoxton Bar & Grill on October 14th. They were unlucky to have a gig at Electric Ballroom cancelled due to headliners Thrice pulling the pin (and as an aside - I kinda like/liked Thrice; have seen them twice, albeit a few years ago, and always start playing Guitar Hero with 'The Arsonist' - guilty pleasure haha).

Saturday 28 August 2010

Off the Map

Good Saturday morning to you all! Its an exciting and yet wistful time for Englanders today - as we have the last Bank holiday upon us, and the last vestiges of summer (although some may say it fled a few weeks ago - away from me you glass half emoty heathens!). So I hope you have some great stuff planned for the 3 day holiday. Or even if you don't, there is always music to brighten your mood!

Not sure if this is mood brightening stuff, but Derbyshire post rockers Beyond This Point Are Monsters released their debut album Family Tree a little while ago, and are nearing completion of their second. England is rife with quality instrumental outfits, yet BTPAM dont get much of a mention. Which is strange, as Family Tree is a nice blueprint of how to toe the line of escalating guitarwork with off kilter drumming in order to create tracks that effortlessly caress the eardrums whilst alluding to much darker tones within the shadows... The band twists their nots around each other, coalescing with flailing notes like a Hydra rising from the broiling depths of the stormiest seas. Its brooding, melancholic, and at times breathtaking. In short, BTPAM deserve higher praises, and in order to do so they need to be enticed out of their lair of the Midlands and into London more often - anyone offering?

Whats more, the album is free on the bands Bandcamp site.

So enjoy the penultimate track from the album, enjoy your Saturday, enjoy your Bank Holiday, enjoy the last of the summer.

Beyond This Point Are Monsters - Its Beige

Friday 27 August 2010

My Strange Weird Heaven

Just got an email from Strange Wave Records about a split tape they've put out by other (and in my opinion waaaaaay better) project of some of the Surfer Bloodians, Weird Wives, and The Band In Heaven, a Floridian shoegazey-murk piece. These guys go hand in hand when delivering murky dark slightly abrasive and oh so delicious rock, so this is a release worth having. Check out a track from each below.

Weird Wives - Wet Blanket
The Band In Heaven - Suicide Pact

Finally - a Small Black track!

Si, you might be more than a bit happy.

After a number of conversations surrounding Small Black (in connection to another act Washed Out), I am finally posting a track, which features on new LP New Chain, out in October on Jagjaguwar. 'Photojournalist' features everything that people have come to expect from Small Black - deliberately skewed pop via demented jangly keyboard and effects, riding the chillwave...er, wave, but then cutting off other surfers whilst blithely flipping the bird, fading triumphant into the roll of another wave resplendant in their multi-coloured wetsuits. New Chain could have a number of meanings - their signing to Jagjaguwar has allowed them to cast off the murkiness of DIY recordings, freshening their sound and production to allow the mangled beauty of their compositions to shine through; but there is now a level of expectation that would be seen by some to be cumbersome in its misgivings. Im sure Small Black will shake off those shackles in no time.

NB - I find this kind of music incredibly strange. Not because the music itself is strange - its that on paper this has no appeal to me, and yet I become more and more enamoured with every listen. Whilst Si's opinion on music can swing into the WTF territory, this one is well worth the effort. Nevertheless, I don't think a Cheap Trick retrospective will be coming anytime soon...

Small Black - Photojournalist

Thursday 26 August 2010

New exclusive UNKLE

Just a quick post of an exclusive track by James Lavalle AKA UNKLE, released as part of a soundtrack that looks at how Lavalle creates his music. It features vocals from Elle J And Joel Cadbury - and no, I dont know who they are. Its not a bad track though - as you would expect.

UNKLE - Set No Sun

Listening From The Back Of Your Head

As mentioned earlier last week, PVT are headlining a invite-only Warp Records gig at Old Blue Last on Monday 6th September. And because im an advocate of all things PVT, I have a said invite. Not to gloat much, but Im pretty stoked. Nevertheless, Im also excited at tthe notion of finally seeing the support act, Hind Ear.

Hind Ear is a London/Brighton hybrid who have been oozing across the land dealing out their own brand of livewire electronic math. Their music is highly addictive, and whilst the comparisons to Battles are generically wide of the mark, they do hold similarities in the 2 step beats and histrionic musical interplay. You can also see why they stand alongside PVT at this special gig. I missed them at 1234, so Im intent to catch their whole set and give you a succint appraisal of their wares... They have released a 7" through Nouns of track 'Coconut', which is below.

Hind Ear are also playing the Social on 15 September with Cold Pumas and a special special guest, and support the uber fun Future Islands down at Brighton's New Hero on the 30th.

Hind Ear - Coconut
Hind Ear - Rain Man

PS. I read Pitchfork's review of PVT's 3rd LP Church With No Magic. I hate to be pernickety, but even though I strongly disagree with their views on PVT's (then Pivot) first two albums (I think they are both great, but especially their 2nd O Soundtrack My Heart is stellar) it still does come across as a little uninformed. PVT's name change was set due to a libel action struck against them by a piece of shit 'metal' band from the States, and by dropping the vowels it still phonetically is the same, hence able to maintain their initial fanbase whilst hopefully garnering more.

20... Sided... Records!

2o Sided Records is a San Franciscan label pushing the latest and greatest small acts from the region, and are doing a good job of it too. To highlight the amazing sounds coming out from under the Golden Gate, they have put together a 14 track compilation The Good Old Days Are Gone, with a couple of shows this coming weekend to showcase the bands on the release (these shows are, funnily enough, in SanFran, so UK-ites settle down, grab a copy if you likee). David of 20 Sided Records is keen to hear what we think on this side of the pond, so below are two of the tracks from Slow Trucks and Stirling Says. Leave comments on your thoughts, and if you like, grab the compilation - its a winner.

Slow Trucks - Gota Move Away

Stirling Says - A to D

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Hamming It Up

HAM1 is the creative outlet for Jim Willingham, an underground institution in the enclaves of his Athens, Georgia community.  His 4th album, Let's Go On And On With HAM1, (out through Orange Twin Records) provides more of the eclecticised narrative pull and psych instrumentation that he has founded for the past few years, evoking a woozier Yo La Tengo in its ethereal meanderings.  'Ghost Loop' is a fairly strong indicator of what Willingham and his partners in crime (which includes member of Elephant Stone) are imparting onto the world.  

Fuzzily folk, or folkily psych?  HAM1 is both.  Listen to the full streamed album here.

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Roping In Satellites

Lamplighter is the 5 track EP currently out by Tallahassee-an lassie Moonlasso. I am beguiled by this release. It is a murky recording with massive reverb, and yet I think there is something charming, untoward and a little cold about each track that conflict with each other enough to warrant multiple listens. It even has an Animal Collective cover ("Summertime Clothes") which is good...

Ovum To The World

Ovum's new EP Joy To The World is a true showcase of what these Japanese post-rockers (yep, the Rising Sun continues to dominate the orchestral rock airwaves) can truly do. Opening with Your Cruel Virginity, and continuing on in a spiralling fashion to closer (and equally as long) Like A Hymn, they hve finally lived up to their own mission statement: "the pursuit of universal beauty such as the sweetest of melodies and harmony, which may sound classical". There is no misuse of noise here, it is all about melody and synchronisation. It is a beautiful suite, and well worth your time...

Ovum - Your Cruel Virginity

Monday 23 August 2010

A robot church, anyone?

Megachurch. Two thoughts came into my mind when I heard this name - one of the brainwashing clusterfucking Koolaid-drinking child-molesting behemoth that harbours on the Bible Belt; the other of a defunct Transformer that hid its robotic evilness by dsiguising itself as a Gothic cathedral.

What I got was neither.

Thanks to The Noise Is, the Megachurch that descended upon me is a all capitals MEGACHURCH, yelling at you in all forms. But it is not conventional yelling screamo what-have-you that these charlatans are dishing out to the masses. In fact, these heavily frenetic sound rapists can't be bothered with a guitarist, let alone a vocalist, instead rendering the sky in two via incessant rabid drumming and duelling basses. The Cleveland noiseniks anchor their sounds with sound bites from feverish preachers of many languages, thus making a stand of religious mockery and political blasphemy that would be preachy if these guys actually gave a fuck. There is definitely an element of like minds with their hometown compatriots Lightning Bolt on how their songs are tenuously connected, a volatile mix that can implode at any time - and often does - just in time to display a backdraft of explosive energy that eviscerates all in its path.

MEGACHURCH's self-titled 12" is out now, self released - check out their Myspace page to grab a copy.

Still think a robot church would be kinda cool though.

Megachurch - The Gay Agenda
Megachurch - Exorcism

And here is the new music video for another track off the 12", 'More Morman Than Morman.' This is one of the best tracks on the album, but be warned - this vid is very disturbing, and VERY NSFW...

Megachurch - More Mormon Than Mormon from Keitj T. Alin on Vimeo.

Sunday 22 August 2010

The best song Ive heard in months - by Justin Beiber

Paul is going to kill me, like he wanted to after my Beyonce post - but first of all, that girl can actually sing and is anatomically correct like no one else on this planet, and secondly it was a crafty cut and paste clip to coincide with that Tonstartssbandht song 'Midnite Kobras', which was pretty cool (And I keep promising to post about them! Sorry, there is so much to do and so little time...).

But this one even has me in a constant state of conflict.

You see, I fucking hate Justin Beiber and everything he stands for. He has superseded Paris Hilton as the one person I would happily kill, hand myself in and let them do what they will, as I will have changed the future irrevocably for the better.

Nevertheless, cruising over to The Decibel Tolls yesterday, and damn it all to hell if they arent showcasing a 35 minute slow burn epic of Beiber's 'U Smile', slowed down by 800% and complemented by surf-swelling ambience and shimmering effects. Shamantis (AKA 20 year old Nick Pittsinger) is the cracked mentalist behind this slab of pure heaven. I never thought I would say this, but...thank you. Now all we need to do is subject the Beibs to some heavy duty psychedelic music and media a la Alex from A Clockwork Orange, and we might have a chance of turning the Devil's bastard spawn into the saving grace of musical space gallantry...
So Im off now to Ireland for a few days of obscurity. There's still some killer posts coming up on the likes of Megachurch, Ovum and 20 Sided Records, but I wont be monitoring anything - Ill be harnessing my inner James Joyce or DBC Pierre, either drinking myself to death or conning my way across teh Emerald Isle, either way coming up with something literary-sounding, and drunken. Oh, and to go into hiding until the rest of Sonic Masala settles down from this post...
Have an great week people!

Saturday 21 August 2010

Silver Columns Are Always On

Radar Maker have sent us over the Silver Columns track 'Always On' (sans Caribou this time). The single is out September 13 via Moshi Moshi.

Loving the Darkness

I can't really remember why I decided to get this record. I spoke earlier this month about buying albums based on moods/snippets/artwork etc. However, I can say that before listening to Black Hippies' Our Prayer, I knew seven shades of fuck all about them. All I knew after listening to this record was that these droney grooves permeated my soul in a way that other likeminded folk were nowhere near achieving (Im looking at you Evening Gown... Actually that sounds kinda harsh, but I just dont dig your stuff, it literally goes nowhere...). There were depths of coldness here worth channelling.

Then I did look into who the hell Black Hippies were/are. And fuck me if they aren't seventeen years old! Im sorry, but this kind of music comes to mind if you're at least a decade older and far more jaded and twisted. And their breadth of sonic knowledge to develop and deliver a sound so patient in its monotonous grooves is bewildering at best. However they do hail from Minnesota - that may just explain it then...

Our Prayer is out now. Whats more, its their SECOND album?!? These guys couldnt be bothered releasing it the normal way, so ask the guys on their Myspace page how you can glean yourself a copy.

And it also says on the Myspace page that they are currently listening to the Clean's Anthology. These kids are far ahead of the times...

Black Hippies - Our Prayer

Friday 20 August 2010

Growing Out Of A Ponytail...

Ive been waiting for Paul to drop this bomb, but cannot wait any longer...

After a hecticly interesting six or so years and a number of special releases underscoring their phenomenal firebrand live aura, Baltimore art spazzouts Ponytail have called an indefinite hiatus, citing various creative avenues that is seeing them drift apart (more geographically than anything I gather). The only thing I know for sure is that Jeremy has been kept very busy drumming for the Boredoms of recent times. It is impossible to find a replacement for any band member - Ponytail are an ever coalescing organism where every element is intrinsic to its evolution and survival - take one away and the rest dies. This is incredibly sad news, as these guys managed to create the kind of manic energy that can supersede Deerhoof in a support slot - DEERHOOF! So yeah, sad indeed. However, band member Dustin Wong has mentioned that whilst they are off doing their own individual projects, they may gravitate towards one another to begin 'another interesting experiment'. For the love of music, we can only hope so.

So, rather than start our weekend crying over split Ponytail, have a listen to one of their seminal tracks, jumping off the walls like a jellybean-riddled ADHD sufferer, and celebrate the body electric!

Ponytail - Celebrate The Body Electric (It Came From An Angel)

Don't Mellow Out

Have been listening a bit to the new 7" by a lil band called Mellows, It's In The Stones/Ghostriding (through Tweaking Trays and Royal Rhino Flying Records). Its a bit of a crazy hybrid - imagine if you will, Mercury Rev picking daisies with Grandaddy in Devendra's backyard, whilst a 12" retro red TV hums in the corner to the tinklings of a NES system theme song (maybe Zelda) paused on the menu page... And that is Mellows. Not deliberately obscure - its actually fabulously accessible - Mellows take freak folk to a few fields over from the left, with psychedelia vapour trails in their wake. Its very interesting, and signals better things to come.

Mellows - Ghostriding

Going the Distance

Signal Hill are a four-piece self proclaimed post rock band from Los Angeles who released the 5 track EP Distance last month. Brought together and finding a common ground over the musical stylings of The Six Part Sevens, Signal Hill craft a singular organic sound that grabs you like a creeper vine, squeezinf the life out of you just so it can resuscitate you and repeat the process again. The five tracks all have a different sonic nuance that trickles down to a core element at the end of each listening - that the listening experience is a journey of visionary discovery. Sounds wanky, I know, but I felt this wash over me and it puts me in a nice contemplative mood everytime. It also reminds me a of a small Australian band called Tides and a little EP they put out years and years ago - I may have to do a 'Where Are They Now?' on them, they were quite special - as are Signal Hill. You can purchase Distance from the Signal Hill lads here.

Signal Hill - Paper Airplanes

Thursday 19 August 2010

Q: What's Better Than Denim? A: MORE Denim!

PRESS RELEASE>>> Double Denim Records is a new 7" label and blog based in London and the split between Blackbird Blackbird and Paopao is its first release. The blog and label is the collaborative effort of Jack Thomas (thisaintnodisco) and Hari Ashurst (Prizes). The blog launched just over two months ago and has already attracted a strong following and link backs from Pitchfork, Warren Ellis, Delicious Scopitone and more. The remit is to post daily about bands that haven't been covered before. All posts are accompanied by work from upcoming photographers.

No harm in a bit of back slapping - so check out the blog (but not more than you check out ours of course...), and check out what Blackbird Blackbird is capable of below!

Blackbird Blackbird - So Sorry, Girl

Clinical Unease...

Not sure what to make of this one.

I am a big fan of the band Clinic - I think that Winchester Cathedral is a stellar album, and live they are awe-inspiring - but this, their latest, has me flummoxed. Maybe if it wasn't Clinic, but a band I was unfamiliar with, Id warm to it more. I miss the old Clinic I guess. Anyway, check out the clip below, see what you think...

P(i)v(o)tal Churchfaring Music

PVT's 3rd longplayer Church With No Magic has been stirring a lot of pots ever since the release of first single 'Window', and I cant remember the last time an album divided audiences and critics alike in such quantities. What I find most amusing about it all is that no one seems to know what they like, or dislike, about the album or indeed the band. They have really confused the populace - and whilst that isnt necessarily the point, I think that they have made a definitive album here that threatens to press for top 10 of 2010 lists, and in fact to come back on listeners like a bad burrito - but in a blissful way. There is a hidden dark nuance to the triptych that PVT have given birth too here that makes them difficult to pin down - no longer ambient post-rockers or electronic live mainstays, they have evolved into an as yet unimagined beast. It really goes without saying that you need to make up your own mind - and PVT are kindly streaming the album in its entirety on their website! So go and give it a good listen - a cursory perusal will yield you nothing - and tell us here at SM what you think!

PVT play an invite-only show on September 6 at the Old Blue Last as part of a Warp record release - see how to get invites here - but also have a sanctioned gig at Cargo at October 6.

Free stream of PVT's Church With No Magic

One Man Band That Tears The World Asunder

I have to say that I have been positively blown away by Sweden's Sey Hollo, the project by Sebastian Larsson. Playing every instrument himself, Sey Hollo is a juggernaut. First of all, each element of the sound is played sublimely - I kinda hate Larsson for being this talented! But the second thing is that what has been created is so damn good - it seems impossible that this is all the intricate workings of just one mind. I havent heard post rock of this ilk for quite some time - avoiding the metal leanings of the likes of Pelican and Isis, or the graceful drones of Mono (which reminds me, an interesting post about Mono is in the works...), Sey Hollo has gone the more conventional route and yet created something so intrinsically heavy and yet emotional - its a real winner. Opener 'Dependistas' builds elegantly with an abrupt shift into a heavy distorted squall which I havent heard for some time; ending with a nice sample that leads into 'Eighty Five Percent', a rather disturbing piece that is as enthralling as it is eviscerating. 'A Toxic Toast To Broken Promises' uses a crazy pastiche of instrumental laments to create a monumental moment of wistful melancholia with just that pinch of hope...

As Ive stated in the past, post rock - instrumental music in general - is all about evoking the right set of emotions, and should be stronger in that aspect than most other genres of music. Sey Hollo has nailed it here.

Sey Hollo - Eighty Five Percent
Sey Hollo - Thank You Very Much

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Getting Bitterer

The Bitters, former Fucked Up/No Warning ubermouth Ben Cook's current project, shone with their sleazy opening LP East General, and as is his wont he is not slowing down for anybody. With Aerin Fogel in perfect howl mode, they have combined with Sacred Bones to bring out the EP Have A Nap Hotel, which the below track is on. As with Wooden Glove, the EP released last year, The Bitters are more titillating in short form, here they somehow manage to be both evocatively angsty and coolly detached, as if their shadows have torn themselves from their anchoring bodies and are marching to a different tune, yet syncopating with their masters... Anyway, as always a Captured Tracks release deserves to be owned, and with Have A Nap Hotel, you get to own the piece where The Bitters finally grow into the big boots they set before themselves twelve months ago.

The Bitters - Dark Wide Holes

When John Spencer Drinks The Kool-Aid...

There is something inherently sexy dirty about out and out sleazy bluesy rock and roll. Antagonistic anti-hero John Spencer has been doling it out in heavy dollops over a long period of time, under many different guises, and it never ceases to amaze me how something so two-dimensional can still enrapture an entire audience and turn them into a writhing sea of hormones, sweat and leers. But Mr Spencer is but one man...

Lucky for The Jim Jones Revue then. The East London rabble rousers have been relentlessly scouring every dive and dank den of iniquity for a few years now, and all of this is about to come to a head with the release of their new album, Burning Your House Down, released by Punk Rock Blues Records / [PIAS] Recordings on September 6th. Produced by Jim Sclavunos (of Nick Cave &The Bad Seeds/Grinderman), the LP captures the roar of an untamed band at the top of their game. With the microphone shredding wail of Jim Jones at the helm, fearlessly spurred by Rupert Orton’s six-string maelstrom, Elliot Mortimer’s savaged ivories and the jackhammer rhythm section of drummer Nick Jones and bassist Gavin Jay, The Jim Jones Revue swing like a giant ball and chain.

Just to get you salivating over this, here are two extra tidbits - first single 'High Horse', is out on Monday, and the fourth track from the forthcoming album, 'Big Len', is below for your perusal and abusal. If you think there is too much sleazy rock'n'roll in this world, you may as well reach for that red cup brimming with Ratkill, because with the likes of these guys, plus the neverending energies of Nick Cave and John Spencer, floating around this great wide planet, there's gonna be a whole lot more being passed around. Me? Im reaching for my bottle of whiskey as we speak, sweat-stained leer firmly etched into my features. You know you love it...

The Kings of Kong Scale the Old Blue Last TONIGHT!

One of THE BEST UK ACTS GOING AROUND TODAY, HANDS DOWN (and that was not a caps lock mistake), Manchester's Kong are kicking teeth in tonight at the Old Blue Last for change from a tenner (or £6 to be exact...). Its going to be amazing - it always is. Ive seen them every time they have come to London since their Fistful of Fandango gig last year, and their Christmas gig at the Old Blue Last was nasty in an oh so glorious way... Ably supported by Bitches (supposedly...) and Blacklisters, this will be fucking amazing, and boozy, and hell bent on gay abandon and destruction. It will also be the final gig I see in London ever...until I sort out my visa issues, which will mean Ill be gig-ready in a week or so, but I still have to leave the country for a bit, so come and get lost in a sea of madness with Sonic Masala and all other types of retrobates...

Kong - Leather Penny
Kong - Blood of a Dove

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Getting Wild Over Nothing @ The Luminaire This Friday...

On Friday Kilburn's Luminaire is going to be packed to overflowing with scenesters as glorified wunderkind Jack Tatum takes the stage under his more famous monikor, Wild Nothing, showing that the inherent beauty that pervaded his special debut Gemini wasn't a one-off. Having now stretched the sound out to include a band, expect an intensely enjoyable experience, especially when the support is as capable as Frank (Just Frank) and Weird Dreams. And if you doubted the heartbreak and beauty that are inherent in Wild Nothing's songs, watch below a much bandied about track, 'Chinatown', and try to stop yourself buying a ticket.

Wild Nothing - Chinatown from Jack Tatum on Vimeo.

South West English Indie Rock Is Hard...

Art Is Hard is a small independent label that is doing its darnedest to promote all the best there is to offer in the south west expanses of Ye Olde England. They have released a sampler, Brink Of The Clouds, that showcases some of these bands, and in an innovative twist are selling T-Shirts that showcase each act also! Keep an eye out on their site for more details. In the meantime, check out a couple of the below tracks by Dutch Husband (a Bournemouth quartet that hark back to that distorted indie rock sound of the 90s that I love), Colours (London Pixies acolytes), Kinnie the Explorer (lo-fi experimental freakists) and Cycle Schmeichel (two guys making noise because they wanna).

Dutch Husband - Gratitude
Colours - Desert Dessert
Cycle Schmeichel - Bitchin'
Kinnie The Explorer - Blind Spider

Swans Will Guide Me Up A Rope And Into A Noose - With Glee...

Swans. What a dirty, dirty bunch of punks. There is something incessantly evil about these pioneering New York post-punk crossroads demons. I only have ever owned Children of God, and whilst I often come back to it, it isnt one that has had the grooves worn out from over-use. Furthermore, Michael Gira is a man who does all he can not to be liked. Which makes him irresistably interesting.

So we come to the first album Swans have put out in 14 years, My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope And Into The Sky. Brilliant album title. Accompanied by very impressive cover art (see above). It had me in awe already... But what of the album itself?

It befits the inverse saying, 'DO judge a book by its cover.' Im a big, big fan of this album. Opener 'No Words/No Thoughts' is the perfect precursor to the record - light charming chimes hold sway - for 40 seconds. Then the obligatory guitar, drums and organ break in. Which is still lightweight, as the sound ratchets up a few more notches, squelching, squealing and buzzsawing through your brain and playing havoc with your sinuses. Then it abruptly stops, before those Christmas chimes can be heard again, although with a new tempo, accompanied by insistent cymbals...then Gira's iconic baritone echoes across the void. And we're only halfway through the song! If this song does anything, it introduces to the world that Gira and co. aren't fucking around - this is an album, damn it! And its gonna take your soul!

Over the course of the next 49 minutes, we are treated to dark Lou Reed-esque crooning about eviscerating liars ('Reeling The Liars In'), Spanish arpeggios intermingling with psych rock ('Jim'), industrial sirens and militaristic stomps ('My Birth')...and Devendra Banhart ('You Fucking People Make Me Sick')? And of course, infused throughout with Gira's tortured lyrics...

My Father is not just a worthy return, but a damned sight better than most would have you believe. It highlights all the great things about Swans, showcasing both Gira's sharp and obscure songwriting prowess combined with an amalgam of unrelenting ferocity with brooding dirges and off-kilter 'light' moments (like closer 'Little Mouth'). A true marriage of past-past Swans and past Swans - anger and musical fury with anger and acoustic accoutrements - Im putting this on repeat for the rest of the week.

My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope And Into The Sky comes out Spetember 26th on Gira's Young God Records (also home to Banhart, Akron/Family, James Blackshaw and Fire On Fire). See Swans when they headline Supersonic in Birmingham, October 22-24 (a truly eclectic line-up, with fellow headliners Godflesh and Michael Rother (AKA Neu!) highlighting the breadth of musical obscurity on offer - sounds like it was made for Sonic Masala to be honest!)

And for your listening pleasure, one of the tracks I mentioned, and one I didnt!

Swans - You Fucking People Make Me Sick
Swans - Eden Prison

Sunday 15 August 2010

When the Earth Willingly Moves...

Its been a week of trying new things. We've had mnttaB, Induced Labour, Found Sound Nation, Mirror, Castevet, Mike Mokotow, Dirt Dress - all acts I hadn't a lick of knowledge about when I woke up last weekend. Well, here is one more to finish off the weekend...

Given Willingly (not sold on the name) is one-man project by Germany's Andreas Niegl. The single 'Water & Sleep' is getting released, and the plus is there are some juicy numbers added to the mix. Now this is my own opinion, but the other tracks are waaaaaaaaaaay more interesting than what's on its way out. It is still good though, which makes this a tasty find. It is more of an EP than anything else, and with the promise of an album in the near future, it is enough to get excited about.

Each track contains an ambient grind reminiscent of local UK act Forest Swords. Particularly the one featured below, 'The Earth Moves'. It encapsulates punk rock aesthetics, post rock histrionics and electronica to create some beguiling soundscapes... But don't worry, you can sample what they deemed best to be their front-up single and decide for yourself - or better yet, if you like, lend these brothers a hand...

Given Willingly - The Earth Moves
Given Willingly - Water & Sleep

Iowa is a state of mind - and from Melbourne...

Its been quite a week for Melbourne bands here on Sonic Masala, so here's another one! Iowa are an aurally destructive indie rock three piece made up of musicians that have been floating around the scene for years now but have finally found a collective home. Their sound evokes that guitar-heavy indie rock that permeated Australian airwaves in the 90s, and which I grew up on. Single 'Stay Solo' reminds me so much of another like-minded band from way back when, Pollyanna, for its adherence to softly crooned vocals over ever rising distorted riffs. 'Weighed Down', on the other hand, manages to create a sound that gently rises, like the slow ebbing of the tide - the song initially feels as though it will break into an amiable pop rock song, but when the drums enter the frame about two minutes in it becomes apparent that what is about to be undertaken is a different beast indeed. Ive always been a sucker for loud/quiet dynamics, and with the wall-of-sound formula and the echoed shoegazey vocals shimmering over the squalling drone, this track fucking rocks. So its great to finish the week on a band that is new, good, and Australian. Even if they label themselves after a state of the U S of A...confusing much?

You can purchase the 7" here. Check out the art and vinylwork! Tasty indeed. Furthermore, the tracks were put together with help from Jack Farley, whose partnership with another great band Love of Diagrams (subject of a post later this week, just so as to continue this iPod/Australian music love affair) is evident throughout.

Iowa - Stay Solo
Iowa - Weighed Down

Skullduggery and Smoke Flares - yep, its a PAHB video!

Pulled Apart By Horses have released the video for new single 'High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive', coming out September 6th. The boys continue their penchant for aggressive but overly fun music videos, with the video was filmed in Oxford in an old disused Jewish college. The talented Bob Harlow made the clip. If you havent already, buy Pulled Apart By Horses ASAP.

Saturday 14 August 2010

Holy F*ck live at Baeble Music's 2010 SXSW Day Party

I was having a little musical wander on the internet and 'bumped' into this live recording of Holy F*ck's half hour headline set at the Baeble Music 2010 SXSW Day Party earlier this year, where they performed tracks of their latest album, Latin.
Hardly recent, I know, but the set has pretty much brought me back from the dead on a rather hungover saturday, and the video and sound quality are quite something... sit back and enjoy.

Watch the full concert at baeblemusic.com

Mirror Mirror On The Wall, Who's The Tinniest Of Them All?

Mirror are a Japanese four piece who formed in 2006, released one album, and disappeared again - or so it seemed... They have a new EP out, Recollection (on Catune Records, also home of the ever brilliant Boris). To be honest, when I started listening, I wasn't sold - this kind of math rock instrumental noodling is getting done a lot these days, and more oft than not it comes across as too many ideas thrown into an industrial sized fan and then the splattered remains are recorded. Sure, ou can play the guitar with gay abandon (and amazingly intertwined), you arent flubbing chords like most garage bands are these days! But how about a little originality, a bit of creativity - a bit of SOUL?

Well, just when I though Recollection might be too clever for its own good, we come to 'Tin Toy'. The math pithiness is toned down for a more spatial development that evokes Tortoise, and with more effects and ambience we have a real track on our hands! Enough to allow me to monitor their progress. If they can expand their musical breadth along these lines, we might have a band ready to climb the ladder into recognition.

Mirror - Tin Toy

Friday 13 August 2010

Midget Spunk

There's this post-punk band from Chicago called Castevet. They've released their new LP, The Echo And The Light. Its out now on Tiny Engines. Its ok - not all my taste, but it is all provided with such energy that you can feel the sweat and saliva hitting your face on the first listen. There's some amazingly intricate instrumental breakdowns amongst the hardcore leanings that I found to be somewhat refreshing... Anyway, so I was checking out said album, and I think I found a pearl on here that warrants more than a few listens. Shouting, loud guitar, quiet moments before the squall...it has all that, and a little skewed soul. And if you like, they have another album, Summer Fences - I havent heard it, but Im sure its in the same vein. Happy Friday night suckers! Enjoy the festivities, maybe Ill see you there...

Castevet - Lautrec

Piano City

I have to say I am more than impressed with Play Me Im Yours, a soundscape created by a series of likeminded souls in NYC. Here's a little blurb about the project by one of its main creators, Ezra Tenenbaum:

Wanted to pass along some great new tunes by Brooklyn-based electronic collective Found Sound Nation. PLAY ME I'M YOURS is a collection of dizzying sound collages, assembled entirely from recordings of public pianos in New York City. "Specific Formal Training" layers frenetic musique concrete, ala The Books and Steve Reich, on top of a glitchy tumbling pulse.

I have to say the Books reference is very close to home. It is a cool and staggeringly well put together effort.

You can stream PLAY ME I'M YOURS from:


And why not have a track for the road? This one is Ezra's favourite...

Found Sound Nation - Specific Formal Training

Syntax Error

Melbourne band mnttaB play loud, fast, thrashy noise that snarls its way down into your cerebral vortex and lays malignant eggs there. For more idea of what to expect, here's a blurb from band progenitor Dik himself:

blah blah melbourne blah punk blah blah noise blah bastard kestrel blah
cough s:bahn blah unlikely! cough splutter click.


I havent ventured far from my home studio for a while! - But still grappling with the contradictory forces of ego, creative urge and a subconscious refusal to acquire any musical skills.

Nuff said really. Shiny Stones And Miracles EP is a very short visceral burst of depraved energy. A lot has been promised here - let's see if (t)he(y) can up the ante in the next offering...

mnttaB - A Tighter Grip

Thursday 12 August 2010

Missed Bands Are Anything But Dead(wood)

Im not sure how this slipped through to the keeper, as I am more than a casual fan of these Canadians - but sadly Sister Suvi is no more. Their album Now I Am Champion was a cracker, and one sorely overlooked last year in my opinion. Nevertheless, the beauty of music is that it lives on. So here is a taste of what you may have missed - the opening track off the album - if you like, purchase it from their label Common Cloud. It is a great little album. RIP.

Sister Suvi - Deadwood

Earth Attire of the Feline Persuasion

Those friendly and frankly frenetic workaholics over at Papermade have continued to push unsigned and burgeoning acts at a ridiculously fast-paced rate. Here is a new track from another of their championed masses, Dirt Dress. It is certainly dirty, but it is ten sacks of kittens' worth of fun. Preferably without using a cricket bat...but thats for you to decide I guess.

Dirt Dress - Stray Cats from Dirt Dress on Vimeo.

Some Secret (P)syche - Channelling the Fab Four

Secret Colours is a band that has flitted across my radar once or twice based on Clay's random compilations he sends over. Their have self-released a self-titled album, which can be bought on Bandcamp for $US10. Its no bad - no bad at all... Now they have popped out another golden baby, and its an auspicious triumph at that (Thanks for the heads up from Crash Avenue PR on this one). Covering the Beatles always holds an element of trepidation, due to almost every song in the canon's 'if it ain't broke' brilliance. Secret Colours take on 'Tomorrow Never Knows' - and it almost feels like the original was a paint-by-numbers experiment, waiting for the right band to come along, read the instructions, then proceed to colour outside the lines - all in all, worthy.

Secret Colours - Tomorrow Never Knows

And why not sample a track off the album, too?

Secret Colours - Popstar

Wednesday 11 August 2010

The Other Side of the Doll

We told you about Kitsunetsuki bringing out their single 'Doll To Doll' a couple weeks ago. Well, here is the other track from that release - 'Miyu'. Shoegazey, waily, and loud.

Kitsunetsuki - Miyu

Nick Cave Being Nick Cave x infinity...

I really can't say anything about Grinderman's vid for new track 'Heathen Child' - it has to be seen. Preferably not around impressionable types though - this is all kinds of fucked up...

A Ghostly Presence

Another band that I havent got out of my system since gaining my iPod privileges back is Because of Ghosts. An instrumental rock three-piece that call Melbourne their home, Because of Ghosts have honed their post-rock leanings over almost a decade of incessant touring. They utilise looped guitar, bass, field recordings, wind-up toys and drums to merge eerily abrasive experimentalism with moments of gently shimmering calm. Its something special to think that a band that proscribes to the 'post-rock' genre can scratch out a niche all of their own - and these guys have easily done that. The organic nature of each track is not only impressive, but etches itself into your psyche so effortlessly that its unbelievable they haven't received more recognition! Even if they have some heavy hitters in their corner - Efren and Howard of Godspeed! You Black Emperor helped with the production of their 2nd LP, This Culture of Background Noise, with some appearances by G!YBE's Theirry and Jessica...

Well, I aim to rectify that today. Please hunt down their releases - there aren't many, and they are immaculately decked out, with the artwork done by guitarist Reuben Stanton. They are brilliant - make sure you give them their dues, stat!

Because of Ghosts - Dreaming Is Essential
Because of Ghosts - You Fool! Your House Is Built On A Frozen Lake

The Glitter Age

No Age's Everything In Between is one of the most anticipated albums of 2010 - well, it is around these parts thats for sure. So the fact that they are releasing some songs from these sessions over the next few weeks is tres exciting! Here is 'Glitter', the second track off the album, to sink your teeth into! Its squally, chanty, even a little epic-y - see what you think...

No Age - Glitter

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Maximum minimalism

I havent had access to my iPod for quite some time in 2010 - first I couldnt afford headphones, then I lent it to some people...so this weekend has been an exciting time for me as not only do I have it back in my possession, I spent a fair chunk of my spare time cutting and replacing albums. This can be quite a distressing time - I still cant fit all I want onto a 30GB unit, not by a long shot - and sometimes tough decisions need to be made. However, in doing this I 're-discovered' some acts that I loved, still love, and hope to move that love forward. After all, Sonic Masala isnt all about whats new and whats coming up, but also what is behind us, close to our hearts. So this week will have a few showcased artists for this very reason.

First cab off the rank is Melbournites-via-Brisbanites Minimum Chips. Formed in the mid 90s, the four piece crafted some amazing minimal rock, firstly on brilliant small-scale independent label Chapter Records, then more so with Trifekta. Each song is a small, simple idea overlaid with intricate interplay and beguiling vocals that provides - a true jigsaw puzzle that gives constant morsels of abundant joy. They have been well liked too - supporting fellow music magicians Stereolab and Pavement...

It would be well worth your time hunting down any of Minimum Chips' many releases - so listen to this and get hooked. Tomorrow - another criminally underrated Aussie band...

Minimum Chips - Cold Afternoon

Monday 9 August 2010

Climbing that Lonely Mountain

Mike Mokotow, got into contact with us a few weeks ago. Ive been uber slack on this front, for his offering, the LP Tales From Lonely Mountain, is a very impressive sound palette of ambience, darkness, loneliness, and light. The sparseness of it all is haunting, and its this that really sells the album - it really sticks with you, paints a vivid picture of stark black-and-whites, and continually strives to hold your attention. On the whole, Mike Mokotow has done exactly that. For me, the silences and gaps are just as resonant as the occasional guitar, deep in the box echoing vocals, layered effects, bongo drums... It all becomes a true soundscape. These two tracks, whilst a sizable sample, do not give Tales From Lonely Mountain enough justice. A new artist to fully immerse yourself in.

Mike Mokotow - Southern Charme
Mike Mokotow - Memory Lane Lullaby

Jellies Jive

Am I cool enough for you? Do I really care? Not really, and apparently that's cool...

Anyway this particular 12" from The Jellies is the coolest thing on the planet right now, apparently. The original 7" dates from 1981 and went down as one of those lost legendary indie 7" things. It popped up a couple of years ago on a few blogs, thanks Picnic Land, and now Trunk Records are putting out the track with a load of remixes on a very limited 12" all 'cos Thurston Moore (yep him again) found an original 7" and then played it to death. Read more here.

A perfect slice of weekend slow stomper cool to brighten your Monday blues, again! Enjoy.

The Jellies - Jive Baby On A Saturday Night

Brought Screaming Sweet Nothings Into The World

Good morning rapscallions! Yes, it is another Death March Monday. What better way to get rid of those workday week blues than by blasting your brain out with some new noise?

Induced Labour is a band from Toronto, band members having come from the defunct Sick Lipsticks and Disguises. They continually harken back to their collective love of Arab On Radar, a band I have only recently fallen in love with myself, and with that combined with Black Flag overdoses, Induced Labour was born. Still fleshing out their sound, they nevertheless are ripping your speakers a new arsehole, or in their own words - ' If there is a baby in your womb this music will make it fall out. ' They are supporting the likes of Parts & Labor, and are fucking everyone's world.

Happy Monday!

Induced Labour - All Flesh Is Grass

Sunday 8 August 2010

Caribou + Silver Columns = why hasn't this happened earlier?

Those who follow us here at Sonic Masala will have picked up on Ani's predilection for refined electronica. In her eyes (and admittedly in mine), acts such as Caribou and Four Tet can do no wrong. A track came across my desk this week that managed to marry most of Ani's faves, so I felt compelled to impart it onto you.

Silver Columns is the current project of folkified Adem (also of Fridge, the post-rockish outfit with Four Tet's Kieran Hebden) and the man behind the Pictish Trail, Johnny Lynch. Caribou's Swim is a SM fave for album of the year. These two have come together as caribous has remixed Silver Column's 'Always On', almost 9 minutes of elegaic plinkings and meanderings that serves to heighten the original track.

Hope you enjoyed the weekend - SM will be back on track this week I promise!

Silver Columns - Always On (Caribou remix)