Thursday 30 September 2010

Return Of The Grindermen

Im struggling to write here. What do you add to the plethora of reviews down the decades that have been penned about the inimitable Nick Cave and his various incarnations? On his own, with his Bad Seed, throwing Birthday Part(y)ies, as a Grinderman - he's covered the girth of the earth in just about every conceivable way. And it appears that he is coming full circle, with his last couple albums and his Grinderman project with his twisted right hand man Warren Ellis (in brilliantly unhinged form), and other Bad Seeds Casey and Schlavunos, that Cave is fully embracing the devil at the crossroads.

Grinderman 2, out last week, doesnt vary much from its predecessor, aiming for that dirty, sleazy, ballsy, psycho blowout to end all dirty, sleazy, ballsy, psycho blowouts. Its all about streamlining the mainline, exceeding the excess, cleansing oneself with filth. Opener 'Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man' is the epitome of what Grinderman encapsulated before - an eviscerating number that seems like a regrettable cast-off from Grinderman, with Cave lasciviously panting, "W sucked her, we sucked her, we sucked her dry..." But from there we are treated to a more diverse record, yet still steeped in debauchery, hilarity and lotsa lotsa noise. Even slowburner 'When My Baby Comes' gives no respite here, exploding from a lighter Bad Seeds-esque musing on a faltering relationship into a wailing psych wigout tunnel halfway through, without a light at the end - my favourite track here. Single 'Heathen Child' is an abusive crawler, eschewing conventions, eliciting smiles and grimaces in equal measures, as is the intended purpose of the track (and the music vid elevates that hundred-fold). Theres sleazy innuendo ('Worm Tamer'), unbridled aggression ('Evil'), jaunty to and froing ('Palaces of Montezuma')...basically, this just proves that Grinderman is Nick Cave doing whatever the hell he likes - drinking all the booze, smashing the place up, and sleeping with your wife, mistress, and entire family, before disappearing into the pale moonlight - and you'll be sad to see him go.

Grinderman play Shepheards Bush Empire Friday night. (Here's a nice review of their Garage show on Sunday by Kitty Empire at the Guardian. Oh, and our Independent debut!!!!)

In Through The Robedoor

What a dazed plain Robedoor lives on. A plain devoid of colour, either because there is no light, or there is so much light that the landscape has been bleached into nothingness. A plain where nothing really lives - its just being. Billions of particles of interstellar sludge rolling across the scorched earth like minuscule tumbleweeds. Gravital claustrophobia. Blue filters. Monochrome sleepwalkers. Acetate. Liquid metal...

Sorry, but Robedoor is a droning, growling psych behemoth in the truest sense, following in the footsteps of the likes of Skullflower and Yellow Swans in the underworld dirge, hypnotizing you and drawing you into their realm. They have brought out a plethora of releases over the past few years, steadily developing their status as a frontrunner in the drone underground (Im not kidding - check here for their discography - Im not even sure its complete!). Most notably have been the Raiders LP of last year, out on lead Britt's own label Not Not Fun, also responsible for the Bored Fortress 7" split with Gnod, and the upcoming Burners (Important Records). Not Not Fun has also finished prepping the Pacific Drift 7" as we speak. This abundance of material showcases a beast that is slowly, organically evolving its craft, the songs becoming, well, songs, focused and compacting sprawling deluges in short time frames, thus magnifying their aural alchemy.

Bridgetown - Building Clouds Outta Nothing

We had a nice little run of posts for the stellar Bridgetown Records last week, didnt we? Yeah, that was nice. School Knights (thanks guys for the introduction to this wonderful world), Weed Diamond (whose Carry On + Sweater Kids LP is pretty kick arse), Junior Low - all great acts, and nice guys to boot. Well, Kevin of Bridgetown got into contact with us to thank us for the kindly reviews, and to throw us some other releases he is putting out - first of all, his own...

Kevin Greenspon is a busy guy - Bridgetown is all his own work, and a truckload of releases (the vast majority of which are top drawer) have been pumped out over the past couple of years. Yet he is a musician in his own right, and is releasing a split with another Bridgetown acolyte, Cloud Nothings (Dylan Baldi to his mum).

The cover art gives the album the perfect hint on how this release turns out - such a stark, desolate yet beautiful photo (Im into stark desolate places, ok?). Greenspon holds down the starkness with aplomb, displaying a craftily dark songwriting skills set that permeates his sudden bursts of guitar noise. Having listened back over a couple of earlier releases, I think this is Greenspon's best - and Cloud Nothings ups the ante because of it.

Baldi is never going to stray too far from the sunny lo fi pop gems he offered in such a tasty way with last year's Turning On LP. However there is a hint of a cleaner sound here, which leaves me undecided on where he goes with his next venture - are his lovely crafted breezy tunes heightened or hindered by the fuzz and hiss? I guess we'll have to wait and see. Nevertheless, this is a proper yin and yang release, and as it clocks in at under 20 minutes, this ten song split is something to have and to hold. Get the CD-R here.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Harvest the Prinzhorn Dance School

You've got to like things minimal sometimes. There was one band back in 2007 that did it better than any other, Prinzhorn Dance School - and now they're back with new material.

Seed, Crop, Harvest is the duo's new 7" out October 11th on DFA but you can have a taste for free from the band's site here. It's quite the same Fall-esque stripped back minimalism as the band's self-titled debut but it seems the band is spreading its wings just a touch, itll be interesting to have them back. There was a one off gig at the Lexington a few weeks back and more dates to follow soon.

Prinzhorn Dance School - Seed, Crop, Harvest

Review - Heirs, Fowl

After their dangerously impressive LP of last year Alchera sunk some minor populated islands in Australasia due to its brooding, then punishing sonic squalls, I wasn't expecting to hear from Heirs again so soon - well, not until they had done their penance in the Underworld. But being the chronic hard workers that they inevitably are, they have just carved out Fowl, out today in Australia in CD format. It is as bruisingly brilliant as you would expect if you've had the pleasure to have heard them before - Alchera would have made my top 10 list of last year if I had heard it then (I only came across this album in March). With this release, Heirs have thrust themselves into the heavy instrumental scene as the New Guard, to join the ranks of veterans such as Isis and Pelican.

I would be remiss if I didnt mention that Fowl, whilst incessantly brutal, is an achingly beautiful affair, a result of the core songwriting duties baton being passed from drummer Damian Coward to guitarist Brent Stegeman. Anyone who is a fan of this genre will recognize this - who the structures of these songs, when done correctly, caresses rather than just bludgeons. Whilst 'Dust' spends over half its 8 minutes slowly building tension before breaking into a storm of noise that is pinioned by the incessant monotonal drumming (which is a compliment by the way) - a la later Godflesh - tracks such as 'Mother' and 'Drain' provide a one-two punch of perfectly orchestrated maelstroms of emotive white noise, closing the album in an immense and - aptly - draining fashion. They have not played rote Isis material here - they have maintained the dark ferocity that this genre expects - nay, demands - and by opening themselves to its cousins, post rock and industrial rock, and a noticeably darker slant on electronic programming, they have provided themselves with a wider sound palette, certain nuances, sound structures and electronic preamble, than many of their contemporaries - Red Sparowes, Mogwai and Trent Reznor are touchstones here, particularly at the tail end of the record...

Released by Denovali Records (home to Her Name Is Calla, worriedaboutsatan, September Malevolence, and Kodiak) Fowl is a behemoth of a record, a pugilistic triumph of the senses. Every member of Heirs is in the right place - its precise, its meticulous, its haunting, its ear-shattering. And regardless of what story its telling - the perverse nature of feeding on filth for entertainment, to sate our hunger, to gratify our sexual appetite, to facilitate our survival - the end result is that at the end of this ride, you will be bruised, battered - and enlightened.

Fowl is out now in Australia in CD form. The UK has to wait a few weeks til October 15th to get it, unless like me you sent away for it - but its better to pre-order here, so you can get vinyl versions - and there are three different packs - yellow/white vinyl (150pcs), yellow/black vinyl (150pcs), and good ol black (300pcs). The rest of the world will have to wait until November, so we have first dibs. Also (and this is great news), Heirs are touring Europe in October, starting off in the Netherlands on the 6th. They make their way to England, where they play not one but TWO shows in London - plus some random outer capital drops - here are the dates/venues:

14/10 - Green Park Tavern, Bath
15/10 - The Unicorn, London
16/10 - Harry's Bar, Stoke-on-Trent
17/10 - The Criterion, Leceister
18/10 - Dublin Castle, Camden

These are mental venues to see an act of this magnitude (AKA small seedy metal venues). I, for one, cannae wait.

Heirs - Dust
Heirs - Burrow

Heavy Bombs On Hawaii

We had a taster of San Diego's Heavy Hawaii at the beginning of the month with 'Teen Angel'. Well their debut 12"/cassette HH dropped yesterday. Its very lo-fi, and there are a few different elements that draw cross references here - Deerhunter/Atlas Sound in 'Beacons', a Casio-and-stompbox bound Elliott Smith in 'Sleeping Bag', also in evidence in the already plugged 'Teen Angel' whilst also mining territory that the likes of Meth Teeth have occupied in a more assured manner - and whilst its unlikely to storm the heights of some of the other Art Fag releases due this year, it does hint that there is more here than meets the eye. They have been playing with the likes of Beach Fossils and Sleep Over of late, so with that kind of creative exposure, and if the Wilson Brothers' vibe and the tinkering with toys can be merged in a higher concept setting, we may see something worthy.

Love the .gif like cover art too.

Heavy Hawaii - Beacons

TV Candy Is No Good For Paperghosts

Sonorous Circle, a Wellington, NZ based collective (also helping out fellow Kiwis Glass Vaults), sent us the debut LP by Zach Webber AKA Paperghost, The Teledermatologist's Handbook. It is an eclectic affair, a sound pastiche of etchings of a computer dystopia, if said dystopia was in a Commodore 64. Think The Books and Radiohead as done via an Animal Collective-constructed TRON. It drifts along just out of your reach, each song an eerie mist that envelops you just to dissipate and lead you further away into disorientation. Its understated drums and xylophonic tappings in 'Sneaker Country' really got me, along with Webber's whispered AnCo-esque vocals. And then there's 'In The Future We Will Go To War So We Can Base New Computer Games On New Wars'... Its certainly a quirky album, but assured in its strangeness. Definitely worthy of your time.

You can pick up the LP from Paperghost's Bandcamp site here.

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Strange Forces at work

Last month I posted about Candy Claws' hazy dreamscape summer pop showcased on their second L.P Hidden Lands. To me they were the perfect summer band back then - but what would be the perfect Autumn band? Beckoning the icy rush of September's darker nights and the endless drop of crisp leaves, I give you Strange Forces.

The three piece from Brisbane are currently based in Berlin, which might explain why the 'psychedelic spaceman drone rock' has a dark brooding resonance, like you're listening to the last days of the sun as it fights its final moments before plunging into the swell and blackness of another reality altogether. Psychotropic vocals beckon you in as layers of driving drone smother you. Its dark, its tribal, its utterly mesmerizing.

Strange Forces have a long player, Hypervisions, dropping soon, it might be the best thing about the end of summer. Check out their blog here.

Strange Forces - Soul Window
Strange Forces - Shizer In The Shadows

I Could Change My Pissed Jeans, But I Dont Bother...

Wish I had such a lackadaisical wail... Brilliant vid for Pissed Jeans' 'False Jesii Pt 2". Awesome song too. From last year's rip=roaring King of Jeans LP. They are bringing out 2 brand new tracks on a 7" split with Sam Kinison Woman late October on Sub Pop - keep yr eyes peeled for that one.

Pissed Jeans - False Jesii Part 2 from Sub Pop Records on Vimeo.

Pissed Jeans - False Jesii Pt 2
Pissed Jeans - Ive Still Got You (Ice Cream)

The Normal Is Broken

Broken Water follow up their great album from earlier this year, Whet, with this release through Fan Death Records (home of the sinisterly stellar Twin Stumps). Normal Never Happened is a natural progression from the Olympia, Washington trio's loud thrashy indie rock via shimmery drawl, a fusion of the first and last tracks from their album, 'Say What's On Your Mind' and 'Kamilche House', yet in reverse. The B=Side is more straight up angst, their SY and D Jr leanings in starker relief. Find the 7" here, whilst grab one of my favourite LPs of 2010 (my reviews here and here), err, here!

Running Ringz

Welsh musical collagists Islet are not resting on their laurels. Having released their mini-album Celebrate This Place back in July, they are already prepping a follow-up mini-album, Wimmy (via Turnstile), and have thrown down this track as a taster. Whilst not as strong as previous material - its more twee and restrained than I was expecting - it is as busy and manic, highlighting the band's ADHD activity, instrument swapping and innate sense of fun. They are a very good live act, never staying still, swapping intruments at will, using the environment as percussion, crowd interaction, yelps and moans a plenty - their support for Mi Ami at the sadly no more Bardens Boudoir highlighted this.

Pre-order Wimmy from Rough Trade here. Sadly they havent as yet announced a London show before the end of the year, but they are playing the likes of Brighton and Cambridge - in fact most of England - what have we done? - so you can endeavour to embark on a road trip and see em next month too.

Sometimes I feel like the Night Manager

Yet another good Brooklyn band, Night Manager. Although these guys have a twist in that they're not actually from Brooklyn but are all over the States and Paris apparently. Im not sure what difference that makes to their sound, but its all slapping drums, fuzzy groaning guitars, echo stretched vocals and unfulfilled aggression, hence the Blackout Sex - but I'm only guessing.
One to keep tabs on for sure.

Night Manager - Blackout Sex
Night Manager - Wolf Pyramid

What The Beets Did Next

I posted some time ago about my nonplussed attitude towards Black Lips, and yet how one track was able to turn me 180 degrees into the garage punkers' sweat-drenched corner. Its the way of the musical beast - many bands can surprise you through exposure, hard work and tightening of the screws, or a complete change of tack (The Horrors last year - who the fuck saw THAT coming?) I feel a few bands might surprise in their releases in the latter half of 2010 (more of that soon...), and in a minor way The Beets have done this to me too.

I say minor because The Beets havent really scorched across my radar like a Bruce Willis-riding asteroid trying wretchedly to bring down Armageddon on my arse (sorry - first Disclosure, then this - its been a guilty as sin pleasure watching bad 90s films this past week). However, they have been lighting up in enough circles to warrant some sort of attention.

So I listened to their Daytrotter session. I understand the brilliance of this institution, and how its for special intimate reproductions of bands' current songs/influences - but I was rather deflated by the whininess of The Beets' effort (feel free to disagree - you can listen/download here).

But then I had the pleasure of being introduced to 'What Did I Do', from last year's LP Spit In The Face Of People Who Dont Want To Be Cool (a title Im not sure is too awesome, or kinda shit...). Its a rollicking number that injects enough of the hip garage swagger with punk snot that such a genre deserves. Again, one track can be enough to give a band another try - and although Im coming late, this track is good enough to give The Beets that second chance.

Although I do agree that there is such a thing as good use of piccolo - just ask Tyvek - but Beets, be wary of overkill... Either way, its a nice way to start Neck Yourself Tuesday (so much worse than Death March Monday) - so get boppin to this, and your day will start swingin in the best kind of way!

Monday 27 September 2010

Slowcoaches just catch fuzz

As Brendan pointed out recently Sonic Masala (especially me) likes a good old manic mess sometimes. Sometimes you have to forget all the niceties and subtle touches and make a bloody great noise, all raw energy and detuned angst. Ideally it comes with a mosh pit in a small, packed sweaty dive of a venue and frankly you're in a small corner of Sonic Masala heaven, and Leeds trio Slowcoaches fit that bill.

Unfortunately I missed Slowcoaches when they played Upset The Rhythm's Yes Way, gutted all round, as their mess of distorted, laid back girl vocals and thrashed out guitar squiggles would have been a perfect fit for any gig with such an emphasis on lo-fi DIY fun. That'll do nicely.

Slowcoaches - Fuzzy Felt

Twin Sister Colour My Life

I'll be honest here and admit that I've been a bit slow off the mark when its come to Twin Sister's Colour Your Life E.P. And with the ruffled feathers from Brendan's Frankie Rose and the Outs post you might have thought we would lay off the girl fronted bands for a while - no sir! Its an interesting conversation that should be had, seeing as this blog started 'cos of a bunch of mates talking about music, and different opinions lie at the heart of that. We would love to hear yours, comments are always welcome at Sonic Masala.

Right, first off I like Twin Sister. I like them a lot, although that may surprise some people. Personally Twin Sister is not a band to be taken on the strengths or weaknesses of a single song or a track in isolation. Across the six songs that make up Colour Your Life there are headline grabbing, dream pop master class tracks such as 'All Around and Away We Go' or 'Lady Daydream' with their slick electro tinted bliss, and of course the joyous haunting whisper that is Andrea Estella's vocals. Its all very fresh and slick but with a touch of melancholy that keeps you a bit spooked.

'Phenomenons' follow a similar recipe and if this was Twin Sister's blueprint then it would be easy to call the band just perfect dream pop. But that's not the case. Tracks 'Galaxy Plateau' and 'The Other Side of Your Face' point to Twin Sister's many facets and thus making them so much more intriguing - here soundscapes and static take over, rhythm and vocals creep into life and its these drawn out forays into a dream pop netherworld that really point to an more experimental nature that could promise so much and consistently surprise. Here's hoping that Twin Sister's debut L.P, when ever it drops, treads a similar path.

Twin Sister - The Other Side of Your Face

Darkness Of The Young

I know there are albums that are deemed as 'growers'. Ones that take their time getting their hooks into you, so surreptitious are their charms that you are addicted before you have had time to think about what's been placed in front of you. But rarely could you say that an album was a 'creeper' - where each song oozes its way over you and enters you through every pore and orifice, like the black oil from The X Files.

The Young's Voyagers of Legend is definitely a creeper.

I heard this Austin Texas band first over at Raven Sings The Blues via the track 'Phoebis Cluster', which is also featured below. I was immediately intrigued - the song has that eerie vibe that the Pixies' 'Gouge Away' has, that Lynchian noir nightmare that slinks along in the shadows before jumping all over you. I delved into the band a little more, and there isnt much to be gleaned, other than they are signed to the great Mexican Summer, which helped put out the LP. So I scoured the WWW to find the album, and whilst the player I found on a nondescript site (which no longer seems to work) wasn't altogether functioning properly, it was enough to get me a couple listens to it.

Voyagers of Legend is definitely a time capsule album, taking me back to the early 90s. But instead of focusing on high school slacker ennui a la Japandroids, this is delving more into the flannel shirts of the grunge generation with more than a pinch of the aforementioned Pixies (a commonly held belief that they were the genesis of grunge as it were). 'Bird In The Bush' to me is the single track on this album that comes across as proper single material, and yet it is the weakest, whilst tracks like 'Smiling God' and Sunburst' rollick along like a burnished black steam train with roadkill in its grill.

Good luck find much on the Web about The Young - just do yourself a favour, head over to Mexican Summer and get the album. Ive got the itch to hear it again - its crept inside me and it will not let go.

The Young - Phoebis Cluster

Garage Degradation In The Name Of The Lord

Ive been a very naughty boy. I have promised myself, and others, that I would post about these guys before, and have failed to - basically sitting with my thumb up my bum does not a post make! So Ill try to do as good a job as I can.

I introduce: Sex Church.

Now, these guys from Vancouver, Canada, arent exactly a hidden gem. They arent entirely gemlike either. These boys have been riding various blog-boosted waves since late last year. And their sound is anything but pristine - this is thrashy, dirty, fuzzy, scuzzy, sweaty garage rock with a mainline injection of not giving a fuck. The marriage of distaste, disappointment and paranoia with the propulsive drones of kraut mechanisations and distorted black masses of noise threatens to swallow you whole. Its not necessarily brutal - there is a hell of a lot of fun to be had here, and some tracks like 'The Floor' are just great sprawling garage jams - it just that its done at such a sleazy speed in a darkened room that you're likely to get whiplash, carpet burn and pregnant at the same time.

You want to own their debut LP Six Songs By Sex Church (out through Convulsive Records) and Sacred Bones). Scratch that - you need to. Your life depends on it. Just get it. And the best thing about this psych garage nonstop fuckup is that you know there is plenty more in their supply tanks. Trust me, one whiff of this and you'll be scratching holes in your arms just to get another lick of it.
And once you are fully addicted, you can chase down more fixes in the format of Sweet Rot Records 7"'s and HoZaC Record's Singles Klub from earlier this year. You're in good, devilish hands then...

Sex Church - Paralyze from crystal lake on Vimeo.

Come On, Feel Le Noise - Neil Young Style

I cant speak for the rest of the SM crew, but I am a rabid Neil Young fan. My first (and currently only) Glastonbury was 2009, and I only went to see him wield Ol Black - and he blew the place apart. His biography Shakey is one of the best books Ive read of any genre. He is a demi-god, a rock behemoth, a folk godfather - a musical icon. And even though he hasnt released a brilliant album (in my mind at least) since his soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch's seminal existential Western Dead Man, he has always been interesting, relevant, and at times still goddamned amazing.

So when he develops new material I just about lose my shit every time. Therefore Im losing my shit as I type this, and have been since the weekend, as I have started dipping my toes in the water that is Young's next opus, Le Noise. It is a unique record for Young as there is no band in any way - it is just Neil on guitar, in a room, using lots of dub overlays and effects, with consummate producer Daniel Lanois fiddling the knobs.

And I can safely say its his greatest album in a long, long time.

As I have only listened to it once all the way through, Ill let some more knowledgeable critic tell you what to expect over at TONEAudio. Needless to say, it is a continuation of Young's mesmeric career to take his music where no one expects him to, always willing to make brash and unorthodox decisions in that quest to tell his story, the way he wants to tell it. And apparently this album (unsurprisingly) was MADE for vinyl, so make sure you pre-order it from the source here.

But in the meantime, you can have at it - stream Le Noise over at NPR here.

Enjoy this start of the week...

Sunday 26 September 2010

Kong & The Bronx Deliver Us To Nine

Manchester's Kong are one of Sonic Masala's absolute favourite live acts - not just in the UK, but the world. This three-piece are dark, stark, and raving mad, merging Fugazi and The Jesus Lizard in a Shellac sandwich that seems so hellishly perverse that your first instinct is to turn away - until you blink and find yourself in orgiastic hedonism...

The Bronx have been destroying speakers, stages and the sound barrier since their bone rattling self titled debut back in 2003 (and have since released 2 killer albums, both self-titled also). Ive loved these Los Angeles heathens since seeing Matt Caughthran down a bottle of red during a sweltering afternoon set in Brisbane, Australia back in 2007, whilst tearing the place apart with their hardcore rock alchemy.
So it is our absolute heaving pleasure to bring to you 'Count To Nine', a track that Kong recorded with Bronx lead Caughthran on guest vocals. This came about last year after the two bands played an unbelievably blistering set at ULU after Breeders ATP, and which was a B side on the now sold out Kong 7" of 'Leather Penny' from their evil debut LP Snake Magnet. Brew Records are putting it out for free on Kong's new Bandcamp site here. It is pure Kong, with some Caughthran bile-spitting vocal shredding. Brilliant.

Also brilliant news is that Kong will be touring in November in support of 65daysofstatic. They'll be playing the CAMP Basement on 26th November. If you havent caught Kong yet, then do so here - they are electric. They will also be showcasing new material after preparing a 10" with That Fucking Tank!, Castrovalva and Shield Your Eyes, all courtesy of Brew Records. This sounds like an amazing release, one that SM will be snapping up for sure!

Hamming It Up Once Again

I know, Ive posted twice about HAM1, but the album is about to drop, and I finally have it in my sweaty mitts, so what the hey, hey?

Let's Go On And On And On And On With HAM1 is actually a befitting album title, as this LP, although clocking in at about 45 minutes, is one that deserves many repeated listens due to its diversity. For folk psych troubadours, there are no less than three instrumentals, as well as many parts that up the ante in the rock department. Jim Willingham continues his skewed search for the American Gothic of his Athens, Georgia homeland, his narratives remain exuberant and woozily literate, but this time around high production values and some amazing compositional play has heightened the propensity for HAM1 to strike a nerve, to caress the soul, to get you to sit back on that stool and drink another pint as these dusky ballads unravel. Highly rated indeed.

See below, one of the instrumental tracks and one of the more rumbling tracks - this may seem eclectic, when you think of the past two tracks we've posted, but its the magic of HAM1 that makes it all mesh together so seamlessly (and if you missed those posts, see them here and here). Good night all!

Sleep Over Colourful Outerlimits

Outerlimits from MEGABEATS on Vimeo.

Having a dull Sunday? Then trip out on this colour to max vid by MEGABEATS for dream popsters SLEEP ∞ OVER's and their track Outerlimits. 

More on SLEEP ∞ OVER previously here

Champions of the Fur State

The Boxing Lesson - a two-piece outta Austin Texas. I had never heard of them until they contacted me the other evening. So I got to listening. Their new LP Fur State, numbered from 1 to 8 (first eight - fur state - geddit???), is an interesting and intricate listen, the guitar and synth/Moog interplay making for a refreshing take on the ambient instrumental genre. Its not all easy drifts though, as 'Three' bursts out of the blocks with a lovely acoustic/electric double-helix of sound, that segues from time to time into a space Western-influenced score - High Moon, perhaps?
Then I got to reading. The Boxing Lesson have been around in some form since 2002, having put out quite a few releases and garnering a gamut of good reviews across the globe. They are predominantly known as a psych space rock band and have shown their Pink Floyd influences in the past, which makes you appreciate the change of pace Fur State obviously is (originally created in 2006, reworked for 2010). Having had a band of musical members come and go, including drummer Jake Mitchell who was jailed for manufacturing marijuana, its been a long and arduous journey...and its set to continue.
You can purchase Fur State in mega rad of death orange cassette from their bandcamp site!
The Boxing Lesson - Three
The Boxing Lesson - Eight

Fuck Dick Clark, Sonic Masala Will Play Tandoori Knights On The Bandstand!

In what seems like a match made in heaven, I have fallen in love with the bizarre garage rock that is Tandoori Knights, a band that shares Sonic Masala's penchant for fun, rock and roll, and curry. Conceived by King Khan (what doesnt this guy do???) and Bloodshot Bill, Tandoori Knights have given irreverent, more than slightly racist garage rock a much needed (?) boost in the arm. Curry Up is the name of their newly released LP, out on Norton Records - buy it.

So what is Tandoori Knights all about? Ill let the clearly cuckoo (and awesome) Khan speak for himslef...

"It hit like frightnin' lightnin' - WE MUST BE THE TANDOORI KNIGHTS!...And paint our skins as red as possible...put the IN back into Indian rock'n'roll...just bend over and let the sun shine in!"

Uh-huh... It is good though. Especially the opening 10 seconds of 'Bandstand'...

Saturday 25 September 2010

Junior Low, Senior Hit

Sorry to post another Weed Diamond/Bridgetown Records post again (3 in 24 hours... - and there is so much more to offer there! Seriously, check the label site out now...or at least after you've read/listened to the following!), but just heard a track by Junior Low, who is Weed Diamond's guitarist Justin Schweitzer. Now I really like Weed Diamond. I really, really like School Knights. But after hearing 'Kimberly', I think Junior Low are top of the pops here. Its an amazing guitar do-wop wall of sound, dreamy and warped and amazingly textured, with Schweitzer showing an interesting pair of lungs on him. A little reminiscent of Japandroids' Post Nothing closer, 'I Quit Girls', but possibly better. It actually would seem that this guy is using Weed Diamond as his side project, not the other way around. This here is the real deal. Love it.

Junior Low's Heavy LP is available through Bridgetown Records here (click and scroll down...) - hurry, there are only 5 copies left! And check out his other work on his myspace page - it shows a much darker, dronier edge, still with that distinctive guitar noodling - this guy could be onto something, keep your eyes glued on him.

Weeding Out The Diamonds

So I started off the Bridgetown Records love with Colorado's School Knights, which may have seemed pre-emptive considering that their primo signing as far as blog lovers are concerned is Weed Diamond. Whilst now a 5 piece band, also holding School Knights' Michael, Weed Diamond started as a one man project in noising up the pop, or popping up the noise, a la Wavves' Nathan Williams. The man with the plan here is Tim Perry. He's put out a gamut of releases, mainly splits and 7" on labels as diverse as Bathetic, Transparent, and Half Machine, as well as Bridgehouse. Now, as the 5 piece, Weed Diamond are ready to blossom into the contenders that Perry has always hinted he could be. Using that most loved of the 21st century's effects pedals, the reverb here is wielded with expert abandon, therefore not overstaying its welcome at any given turn. This is most evident in most current release, Carry On + Sweater Kids, which is an amalgam of a new EP and a reissuing of an older cassette recording. There are serious pop sensibilities here, and the beautiful aspect of this release is that it is heightened rather than hindered by its lo fi approach (although the opening track, 'Mint In My Mouth', takes a while to distance itself from its myriad lo-fi brethren...). It reminds me in some parts of Meth Teeth, who I am a massive fan of. Its pretty, and rockin, and amazing. Its pretty rockin amazing.

Weed Diamond - All Of Denver Is Wasted
Weed Diamond - Mint In My Mouth

And an older release from a split 7" with another rad Bridgetown export, Ancient Crux...

Weed Diamond - Nothing To Write Home About

And its a rainy Saturday afternoon, so Ill continue the love - here's a vid!

Weed Diamond - "Carry On" from moogie on Vimeo.

Frankie Attempts To Rise Above...With A Lil Help From Her Outed Friends

I started writing a series of posts a few weeks back that were somewhat tarred with the angry rant brush. I felt I hadn't gone on a decent rant for some time, and my sniper sights were far-reaching. Paul managed to pull my head in, and whilst my temper still bubbles, I have put my energies elsewhere - like making curries. (I made a great jalfrezi from scratch, plus a yellow Thai curry which is making me salivate just thinking of it. A rant is good for the soul though, and one will be forthcoming in due course).

The first post 'that never was' was related to my pet peeve of the past year - well, one of, I have loads - which is the glut of girl or girl-fronted bands. Without sounding casually sexist, I feel that all of these acts reaching deep down to realise their inner MOR Shangri-La/Joan Jett amidst their tatted torsos and icy faux-disinterested stances but are strangling each other, and have been doing so ever since the Vivian Girls made their (admittedly good) take at it on their self-titled debut back in 2008. And whilst I feel that other suddenly 'in' genres of sound have suffered a similar overcrowding a la the parks on a sunny day in October, its the girls that have taken the biggest 'meh' pill. The Girls At Dawn, Dum Dum Girls, All Saints Day, Procedure Club, The Babies - I could go on - all have at least one or two great songs in them, but the overall package comes more like when you buy an expensive gift for a child and they only play with the box. It just comes away all superfluous, hollow, and lazy.

But there is always a silver lining. Paul has championed Grass Widow in the past, and soon we will witness them live to see if they live up to their LP Past Time's promise - but we also have Frankie Rose. Frankie Rose and the Outs, to be fully honest. Now Frankie Rose is not exempt from the tarred brush of her own genre either, being as she is the past skinsmith of bands such as Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls. However it appears that she may have learnt from her past digressions (and once again Im looking at you, Dum Dum Girls...) Whilst the distinctive attractive indie looks are very much in evidence, Frankie and her Outs dont rest on their fashion sense and record collection, instead infusing a good sense of humour and humility into tracks such as the pop gem 'Candy' and the darker buzz of 'Little Brown Haired Girls'.

The debut self-titled LP is out through Slumberland Records, and it will be interesting to see if the rest of the album lives up to the samples we have gotten so far. And whilst I must admit that much of this sound is at the least passable on record - Dum Dum Girls' I Will Be denotes a level of cool attitude that doesnt translate in the live arena - Im holding high hopes for Frankie Rose, that she may prove to be a shining light to her sisters-in-arms. After all, if Best Coast can sugarcoat the garage pop to an inch of its life then sprinkle it with shavings of marijuana, and the Raveonettes can swing like a pendulum from dark noir pop to sunny Pretty-In-Pink soda pop with cool abandon, why cant this genre find more women able to get out of their hipster hovels and brand their own individuality on their musical tropes?

Friday 24 September 2010

Knights of the Round School Table

Got flung an email by School Knights last night. Never heard of em. Hail from Colorado, around abouts the same area as Weed Diamond who are clogging up the veins of blogland right now (and here - see post tomorrow...) Was a bit tired though, so watched some Michael Douglas/Demi Moore trysting in that 90s 'classic' Disclosure and went to bed...

Woke up this morning. Listened to Quest For Fire. Liked it a little more. Reread email. Had some butter on toast. Drank some cordial. Put towels and shit in washing machine. Answered some emails. Posted some job applications. Watched some Robot Chicken. Reread School Knights post. Went over to the FMLY post about em. Interest piques a little. Listen to some tracks. Like a lot. Compare opening riff of 'Prom Queen' to Fang Island in its innate sense of flippant fun and popcorn rock with 8-bit sensibilities. Listen to 'Bullies' and reminded of Japandroids if they weren't steering away from their high school dreamscapes and nightmares, and had dipped Post-Nothing into a deep frier, making their distorted noise doubly crispy. Post about them. Fin...

Well not quite. School Knights (not to be confused with Knight School, the Brooklyn band I posted about back in the early months of the year - 'Meathead Hurricane' is still a nice indie pop rock track - check out Make A Mess Records for their shit...) are bringing out an EP, Rush SK, through Bridgetown Records soon - which is also a pretty sweet label, check it out, they feature Cloud Nothings too. Oh, and Michael from School Knights is also in Weed Diamond. The circle is complete.

School Knights - Bullies
Schooli Knights - Prom Queen
School Knights - Recess

A Friday Cover Up - On a Friday for once!

Its feels good to get a Friday Cover Up out on a Friday for once and this one is a bit different. Last Friday (sorry about being slow) Wild Animal Kingdom put  super limited cassette compilation Guided by Guided by Voices, featuring some of SA's favorite bands of the moment covering some of Guided by Voices best tracks. Unfortunately its totally sold out now, but below is Eternal Summers' version of A Salty Salute, Pill Wonder's clattering take on My Valuable Hunting Knife and Fluffy Lumbers' rather haunting effort on Club Molluska, the likes of Real Estate and Big Troubles also put in an showing. If you were sharper than me and got a copy, well done you, the rest of us will just have to settle for the tastes below.

Eternal Summers - A Salty Salute
Pill Wonder - My Valuable Hunting Knife

Fluffy Lumbers - Club Molluska by Death And Taxes

Primitive Zach

Still itching for Face Tat, Zach Hill's much anticipated new album through Sargent House, to hit the shelves? Well, chew on this tripped out biscuit for a minute or three! Not sure if its a placebo though - looks more like it'll fry the few dumb brain cells you have left. Its the vid for another track of said album, 'The Primitives Talk'.

Digging For Fire = Paradise Found

I'm not gonna beat around the bush. We focus on a lot of psych bands here of all ilks and persuasions. We've had some good psych bands bring out some good straight up psych albums - Secret Colours, and Black Angels immediately comes to mind. And then there is Toronto's Quest For Fire. I'm not sure yet - I have to listen some more, its been in and out of the playlist this past week - but the more I take it in, the more I think Lights From Paradise could be the best straight up psychedelic rock album of 2010.

Massive call, right? Well, it has all the hallmarks of a classic psychedelic rock album - the ritualistic stillness of opener 'The Greatest Hits By God', to the 70s rawk-ness of 'Set Out Alone' and the trapped in amber stoned warble of 'In The Place Of A Storm'. Each song sets out with a purpose and sticks it out to its fiery end, not displaying the schizophrenic sonic shifts in tracks that some of their modern equivalents are prone to. And that isn't meant as a particular negative - many bands thrive in the altered time signature changes and shifts in tempo and velocity, but it is also somewhat refreshing to have a band show their different shadings spread out over an entire album rather than on a single song.

Quest For Fire didn't get enough praise for the brazen sun-kissed blasts of distorted waves they cut on last year's self-titled debut, but fingers crossed that Lights From Paradise does them justice, as it is awesome. And if you doubted the Toronto band's pedigree, two of them tour as the backing band for Black Mountain side-project Pink Mountaintops, whilst they are now supporting Black Mountain in a series of dates. Oh, and A Silver Mt Zion's Sophie Trudeau makes a guest appearance on the record. So it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (NB Hold yr horses - its not out until November 8 through Tee Pee Records - I'm just lucky enough to promo it! Still, get the debut, pre-order the newie, and drop out in glory).

Quest For Fire - Set Out Alone
Quest For Fire - Strange Vacation

Deerhunter Halcyon Digest

Deerhunter are a bit of house favorite around these parts, in fact as far as the Sonic Masala extended family is concerned they can do really no wrong. So with Deerhunter's new L.P Halcyon Digest, out on 4AD, about to drop its a given that we're going to be rather excited about it so i thought you might like this... You can listen to the whole album here, streamed by NRP Music, and the Helicopter vid for good measure too.

Brendan previously posted the mp3 here.

White Denim's Last Summer Surprise

Thanks to Gorilla Vs Bear for the heads up on this. White Denim have just put out a new E.P of sorts going by the name of Last Day of Summer, how apt! The Texas trio are offering it free here, although a small donation wouldn't go a miss 'cos its well worth it. In the bands words...

“…this record is something we made as a little summer retreat from our ongoing work on the third full length. many of these tunes have been bouncing around since the formation of the band back in 06. we were super pumped to utilize a few fresh and casual musical approaches on this record. we hope that you find something that satisfies you within this body of work. if you enjoy the music and feel compelled to support the group, please notice the support button beneath the download link and the image. we are going to be heading out on the roads this october and would greatly appreciate anything that you would feel comfortable contributing.”

Taste below but download the whole thing here.
White Denim - Champ
White Denim - Tony Fatti

Thursday 23 September 2010

Rock Action's Mum Gets The Stan Winston's

Mogwai's label Rock Action Records have some of the most interesting UK acts - Part Chimp, Errors, and Desalvo number in their small ranks. Glaswegians Remember Remember are an act that sit apart from the musical stylings of their brethren, but due to their ebullient aural histrionics seem a snug fit here. Their influences are many and varied - from more obvious namechecks such as minimalist scorers Phillip Glass, Yann Tiersen and Max Richter, to Icelandic sorcerers Mum and Sigur Ros, to more sonically abrasive artists such as Nirvana and Sonic Youth (?), therefore RR's sonic palette is always busy and never dull. They are preparing to launch RR Scorpii at us soon, but in the meantime check out this short film that highlights a track from last year's enticing debut, 'Imagining Things'. It seems almost cartoonish, but as this is from Mogwai's stable, prepare for something decidedly left of centre to lurk in the shadows. (The film is by Gregor Bradley - and just a heads up, this is slightly NSFW...)

Divisive percussive maelstrom do the do for 'The Boys'

Foot Village are amazing. Foot Village are vile. Foot Village are fun. Foot Village are obnoxious. Foot Village are noisy. Foot Village are just noise.

Many opinions juxtapose what it means to listen to Los Angeles percussion and vocal nihilists Foot Village. I came in on them with second LP Friendship Nation, and whilst last year's Anti-Magic did the best to harness the myriad gleefully malevolent energies zipping around the nucleus of this group, its that album that epitomises what its like to try to listen to them unheeded. Ever tried to grin, grimace and growl? This'll do it to ya.

And that juxtaposition continues, when follows of the band are whipped into a frenzy by the schizophrenic propaganda espoused by this self-titled 'drum nation', their philosophies buffeted on the sea of sound of their own making alongside advocations for public urination. Put the fun musical aberrations adn vocal screeching of Deerhoof, the demented thrashing, rhythms and vocal screeching of Lightning Bolt, and the effervescent energy and vocal screeching of Ponytail into a blender, add a massive dollop of vocal screeching, freeze it and then smash it with a 5 iron. They are a difficult listen, my acolytes - but once you get it, you really get it.

And they are abusing/balming our ears once more with the release of a new track, 'Lovers With Iraqis' (out through How To Fight Records; the rest can be hunted down via London's biggest and brightest Upset The Rhythm). Ive tried to explain it, but just jump in head first - it IS abrasive, it IS obnoxious, but it is also fucking amazing.
What's more, the 500-strong 7" boasts the above cover art that doubles as temporary tatts! Now who hasnt wanted a pixellated George Clooney emblazoned on their lower back? It also comes with B-Side 'Totally Tween' as well as remixes from Best Coast, Yip-Yip and Universal Studios Florida.

Foot Village - Lovers With Iraqis

NB - this is the MP3 version, not what you get on the 7". How do I know? Because Foot Village ensure to tell us, in the song, that it is the MP3 version. So...there.

Death by Stig Noise

Ever danced a samba with the devil? Ever moshed to Lucifer's loose ska? Ever jigged with Satan's Orkestar while his guitar wielding noise minions shredded your face?

No, neither have I, but I think Liverpool's Stig Noise MMX are treading on the Dark One's toes. I was witness to this raucous depravity of a live set when Stig Noise MMX supported Bletchley's finest, Action Beat, at the Macbeth a couple of weeks back. Live it is insane massive screaming noise - recorded its like be toyed with. Driving rhythms and brass push intense, experimental hooks ever onwards, changing pace and direction on whim. You'll dance like a puppet on strings made of sick brutal joy slime. This band has more ideas and twisted fun in one set than most bands manage in a lifetime, its great stuff.

Stig Noise MMX also have a healthy DIY edge, seemingly only recording splits or Vs with other bands. Their current split 12" with Barberos can be downloaded here for only £3, or you can order the 12" here. Its a must and its meager five tracks are enough to have kept me happy for weeks.

Stig Noise MMX - Streetcow.Stigg

Fang Island do White Heat

Wednesday 22 September 2010

No Joy for blonde ghosts

Way back in the barmy warmish days of May when summer was looming like a fuzzy giant on a distant soft horizon, we dropped the debut single from the LA/Montreal shoegaze pop spinners No Joy. Now the duo have a long player, Ghost Blonde, due out in November on Mexican Summer. Below is a new taste from said album, 'Heedless', and just to prove that these kids really do move with the seasons 'Heedless' sports a subtle harder edge to their sound, a blissful din like a cold snap biting at your sleeve reminding that the September nights are drawing in. Pre-order it here.

No Joy - Heedless

It was noisy When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

I've been sitting on this post so long its practically on the verge of evolving...

Back in August on one of my lunchtime trips down to Ladbroke Grove to hunt vinyl with my mate Joel (Intoxica is my favorite haunt), I picked up this stupidly limited 12" by Austin's When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth from Rough Trade West (I prefer West, reminds me of the old Rough Trade shop).

Super limited to 100 copies, out on Black Labs (an off shoot to Riot Season), When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth's third L.P Peaced signals a bit of a move on for the now five-piece. The band have seemed to take a free-form turn towards noise, drenching their early work in swamp like reverb and swathes of static, rhythm, and chaos. Nice to see a band plunging head first into mess rather than clean up their act, its a dream. I couldn't put it better than the band in their own words...

"This album was recorded in our practice space in the month of April 2010. We were very drunk, and very stoned. We've recorded quite a bit of stuff before, but this recording actually captures realistically what we do and how we do it. Cheap, loud, and drunk."

You can still pick up a copy direct here, I think, taste below.

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth - Closet Athlete

Everybody's Doin The A Frames

A Frames...

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Better later than (Oneohtrix Point) Never...

Ive avoided the incessant hype that has built like a malevolent and impenetrable fugue around Daniel Lopatin. Oh sorry - Oneohtrix Point Never. Or as I have said on a number of times (and im sure it was drunkenly and unimaginatively too...) Oneohtrix Point Whatever...

But this is it. I have avoided the hype, because I havent listened to him. Nup. Not one second of his work has entered my ears. So its easy to write someone off when you live under a rock. And I was quite happy with that.

But half an hour ago I heard 'Returnal' from his latest LP of same name, as reworked by Lapotin and Antony Hegarty. Now Antony (usually with his Johnsons) has never grabbed me either, although I have never been naive enough to ignore this man's innate vocal delivery, let alone to admit it is anything other than transcendental. That said - his music just doesn't appeal to me. For whatever reason, I put him in the same box as Jeff Buckley - great voice, liked (woulda liked) him as a kid, but now its beyond the realm of my senses... But here, a massive reinterpretation on the original, 'Returnal' takes on a dark, plaintive tone due to the sparseness of composition - only Lapotin's piano strokes and Hegarty's silken voice. The result? Magic. It truly is an electrifying ballad, something I didn't expect to hear, let alone like, let alone love. So it isnt standard Oneohtrix Point Never - the electronic glitches are kept to a minimum, mainly to denote crackles of an old track playing on a slightly dusty piece of black vinyl - but it is transfixing in its majesty. Im serious - this is an amazing track. Its been a good day...

Oneohtrix Point Never (feat Antony Hegarty) - Returnal

Dreamy Bed Soars

I listen to a lot of music. Pretty much par for the course really. And its hard to keep track of an act or album or track when you have new stuff flooding the earwaves every day. So Im going to admit that I have done something terribly remiss - I forgot about Soars. I heard their track 'Throw Yourself Apart' a couple months ago over at Massachusetts based blog Clicky Clicky Music. It is really, really good. I was immediately struck with the notion that had Blonde Redhead, on the cusp of writing and recording Misery Is A Butterfly, listened to Loveless ad nauseum, they would have created something like this. Then I absolutely dropped the ball - I was kind creaming over Women and Puffy Areolas then (double entendres a plenty there...) - and Soars floated away...

But Jessi over at Goldest Egg wouldn't let me forget, and its to her eternal gratitude I must bow. For the Philly brooders have released their self-titled debut on La Societe Expeditionnaire, and Im gaga over it. Honestly, I like a lot of stuff, and champion a lot of stuff, cos there's a lot of rad stuff out there to be liked and championed. But for me, Soars is rocking up into position for one of 2010's top albums. Don't let this be a forgotten gem! The album literally does soar - hinging on dark delayed reverb heavy guitar lines that menacingly caress, made more beguiling by the distant yet achingly beautiful delivery by vocalist Chris Giordani. Can you hear Fever Ray? Can you hear Zola Jesus? This is atmospheric Gothic shoegaze.

A thing of dark beauty, Soars comes out October 5th - buy it through Chicago Independent.

Soars - Throw Yourself Apart
Soars - Escape On High

Beerenberg Has The Time...and Diamonds

Beerenberg are labelled (press released?) as a psychedelic rock duo from Norway. Geographically Beerenberg is the northernmost situated active volcano in the world. And never the twain shall meet, right? Well, not quite... Beerenberg's rock palette is somewhat lighter than that of which we post - there is no drone, no A-bomb blasted desert terrain, and very few swirling primary colours. Instead we have quietly cultivated tracks that are delicate and robust in equal measures, which makes them a compelling listen. They only released their debut single, 'Revival', in July, and have just dropped their debut EP, Where Did The Time Go?, which is technically speaking a single release, as it serves as the vanguard for the release of their debut album Wizards, Freaks and Ancient Magic in the upcoming weeks. Nevertheless, the three tracks give you something of what to expect here - the title track is gentle and sweeping, a simple folky ode that lingers due to its orchestral flourishes and slight Eastern inflections; 'A Day On The Beach' is a windswept moody affair with faintly tundral frigidity that adds to its allure. These tracks play bookends to 'Diamonds', in my eyes the centrepiece of the EP, which plays more into the genre in which they have been placed. I wont say much more, other than you can watch a vid for each track below. Id really like to hear your views on these guys, as their pulling power for me has been a bit hard to put my finger on. Their mood is steeped in nostalgia - bands like Neu! spring to mind, although you can dig deeper Im sure. I just wanna keep playing these songs - have been since last night - and cant put them to rest. Hopefully, neither will you.
Beerenberg's releases can be sought out through Spring Vibes Arkestra.