Monday 31 January 2011

Worshipping Plankton In A Magical Light

Plankton Wat are essentially a one man psych train. The Portland Oregon psych tripper otherwise known as Dewey Mahood (also playing in Eternal Tapestry and Edibles, and put out a great release with members of Barn Owl as Garden Sound - Black Summit is available through Digitalis) offers an instrumental miasma of guitar spatial explorations, having released a slew of small and obscure releases on many labels (such as Blackest Rainbow, the ace indie crew who put out the Gnod/A Middle Sex split LP that fucked us up earlier this month). However with In Magical Light (a CD-R out on Reverb Worship), Plankton Wat has hit on a sweet suite of latter day Earth-like scorched earth psych malaise - 'The Redwood Coast' and 'Clear Lake Highway' oozing into each other into a 20 minuted mantra - that switches tack on the B Side with more Eastern string flicking ('Shasta Trinity') and warped wooziness ('Klamath At Dusk') that still evokes a stark horizon yet with a flicker of promise and hope.

This is a sweet release, one that has (along with Wet Years' 'No Surf') infused itself into my very being this week. There arent many copies as far as I know, so hunt it down ASAP!

Wet Years Catch A Wave

Wet Years, a three piece out of San Diego, have released 'No Surf', a track that I have listened to nonstop for the past two days. I know nothing about them - I dont know what other releases they have, if any - other than their own meagre press release about the track, stating that No Surf is a hidden beach in San Diego that people like to drink, surf and relax at, and is about a girl who may or may not be psychic - hmmm... However there is no denying this track's devilish charms.

It is befitting really (and here I shall gloat, just a little) that I should arrive in Australia at the height of summer to discover this surf, beach laden gem. But we arent talking beachpop or anything of that ilk - the lyrics, the languid slowburn riptide groove, the soaring vocals, the strength behind the guitar growl here, all combine with the sound of seagulls faintly in the background to tie together what is an insanely good song, and one that has taken my excitement for Wet Years from non-existent to stratospheric in the space of 3 or so minutes.

'When the weight of the world was almost too much for me...I caught a wave.' Favourite track of the year thus far? Could very well be.

Wet Years - No Surf

Sunday 30 January 2011

Hits From The Box #5

Wow. Its strange to be back in Australia on what is the eve of the first anniversary of Sonic Masala! Whats even weirder has been my body sleep patterns. A 31 hour flight with very little sleep and a lot of Bloody Marys and Tiger beers set me up for a monumental does of jetlag, but Mother Nature is also doing her part, screwing me around with going from 7.30am sun ups to 5.30am sunrises. Im averaging 5 hours a day, and this is seeing me tell even lengthier, mindnumbing stories than the usual. Case in point - I spoke for an hour about The Woman In Black, Silent Hill, [REC] and The Strangers, all whilst not allowing my partner in conversation to say anything. No shit. Although we may have been incredibly hungover, it still was a subhuman feat of inanity. So we get to the first Hits From The Box from Down Under, and I am praying that I can hold it together to properly present what has been an interesting and easily our strongest week in new music.

Old Monk start us off. The Brooklyn indie three piece are readying to drop their first album, Birds of Belize, in February through Supermartyr Records, and its a very very good release that demands your attention. Simply put, Old Monk are a band that offer up concise cuts of aggressive indie pop, using cultural touchstones as varied as Cassius Clay and Thomas Pynchon to give us a skewed narrative of the world they, and we, live in. Its intriguing, beguiling, arresting, but overall joyous in its overt exuberance and penchant for the shiniest of guitar pop hooks. Modest Mouse via Superchunk? I think we're onto a winner here...

Old Monk - Butter And Toast
Old Monk - Warm Moustache

Halls is Sam Howard, a one man ambient master, who Ive been monitoring for a few months now. Im pleased to announce that his first self-titled EP is out now (through Two Tap Digital) and can be gleaned here. The tracks are artfully constructed to bleed the emotion out of every loop, reverb and hushed effect, offering a nuanced beauty that is often missing from such ambient soundscapes. Its a measured and assured release, and here's hoping this is the first of many masterstrokes we'll receive from the Londoner. And we wont have long to wait and find out either - a second EP will be out at the end of February.

Halls - Kaleidoscope

Firesuite are finally dropping their new LP, You're An Ocean Deep, My Brother. The UK hard rock act mesh emotive vocals with a wall of sound that for the most part doesnt mesh all that well for me - like fronting My Bloody Valentine with an emo crooner... There are some amazing tracks here though, none more so than 'Sammy Davis Jr Jr', a short blast of viscera that takes you utterly by surprise. I know I havent sounded that positive here, but Firesuite deserve kudos for this track alone, and their musicianship rivals anything being thrown up in the local shoegaze scene - making them an interesting band to check out live methinks.

Firesuite - Sammy Davis Jr Jr
Firesuite - Amity

London's Chapter 24 are prepping for a massive 2011, starting with a debut EP that has some amazing extras. The band have collaborated with artist/comic illustrator James Nash on both the ace cover art and a short comic for each of the four tracks - well worthy! Its a great release too, packed tightly together to paint a picture of sonic elasticity, bastardised tropical noise and manic maelstroms of stomping Slits-lite joy, best showcased by opener 'She Said' and 'LOVE', which we have below. Travelling hot on the heels of this are a few London shows in February, including the EP launch at the Drop, before they embark on their first US tour, including a stopover in Austin for the SXSW festival before assaulting both LA and San Fran. They are take take taking, and I cant wait to see how far they will explode come Jesus' bday comes around.

Chapter 24 - LOVE

Bare Wires are an Oakland California trio whose brand of garage rock errs on the side of stodgy glam greatness. Because of this the band have an uncanny knack of sounding older than the others of their ilk, transferring their sound into the 60s and 70s at will, yet retaining a sense of youthful exuberance. You can hear the differences that they create in tempo, melody and sudden bouts of ball tearing veracity in the below tracks - 'Dont Ever Change', the new single out on Robot Elephant, takes a 60s swinging rock feel and simplistic lyrics and smears it with a dollop of garage grease; whilst 'Family Heat' off LP Cheap Perfume is all long hair, leather, Ray Bans and spit. Bare Wires are playing no fewer than SIX shows at SXSW in March, also playing gigs in other parts of the US and a rad festival in Mexico called NRMAL (also featuring Thee Oh Sees, Strange Boys and The Black Angels) - they are plying their trade mercilessly.

Bare Wires - Family Heat
Bare Wires - Dont Ever Change

Our last band for the week are Londoners Pet Scenes. They may be a new band, but they are actually an old band - huh? Well, they were Panic Attract (whose offshoot A Sofa Made Of Dust we have featured on here numerous times, and will feature again next month), but have gone in a newer, grimier direction, hence the new moniker. They are still at the 'finding their feet' stage, but if their demos are any indication the change in tack is a sleazily refreshing one. You can check em out in their infancy before they Hiroshima the world with their warped pheromones - this Thursday (3rd February) at Catch in Shoreditch, whilst on Saturday (5th February) they plan to refurbish The George Tavern, on Commercial Road (E1) with their blood, sweat and manly tears.

Pet Scenes - That Thing On His Face

There, get that into ya! Happy Sunday!

Ghost Cat! Hyper Hazard! Waskerley Way!

God, I know a certain someone who is gonna love this shit...

Another SM favourite, Waskerley Way wastes no time returning to the fold in 2011, with this 2 track single release setting up an imminent album, Waterfall, to come our way in April via Wonder Beard Tapes.

And the cat theme continues...

'Ghost Cat' is 80s cheese personified - disco, tinny beats, you can feel the whiplash from dodgin all the frizzy hair and eyestrain from the technicolour. But despite this (or possibly because of it) 'Ghost Cat' becomes an infuriatingly catchy number that runs you ragged before shambling out the door, leaving you in a pile of John Hughes VHS tapes and Madonna's scrunchies with a giant smile on your face.

'Hyper Hazard' has more of the dream acid wash synonymous with previous WW releases, but maintains the incessant danceable beats, heightened with a guitar line that is a spike to the heart of effervescent joy.

Ive always liked Waskerley Way's output, but if these two tracks are any indication, he is about to drop one hell of a catchy and fun record that deserves to be earning its own square on the shoe scuffed dancefloor. Here is the tracklist for Waterfall -

Ghost Cat
Tida’ Apa
Haram Haram
Salome Cat
Liero Cat
Hyper Hazard
Sense Of Humour Remains Largely Intact

Pick up these two tracks, plus previous EP Energy Legs, here.

Waskerley Way - Ghost Cat
Waskerley Way - Hyper Hazard

Saturday 29 January 2011

Slow Animal Shoot Fun In The Sun

I spoke about Slow Animal back in October, offering you their free (still!) demo and the stellar track off it, 'Dolt Heart' (check it out here). Well a short while back the New Jersey duo dropped their debut release, theFUNsun 7'', on Jaxart Records.

'theFUNsun' was a track on the said demo, and here it is in a more frivolous, resplendent cone of fuzzy craziness. It actually reminds me of Best Coast if led by a boy more interested in demolition derbies than cats. It is a catchy number, despite the inanity of it all, and that's why I love it! The echoed dual howling of reverbed vocals evokes a more esoteric garage outfit, which showcases the type of sound Slow Animal may encapsulate on future releases. B-side 'Saturday Mourning' is just as good - a slightly darker take on the swinging garage sound, like a Raveonettes cover band taking on the current surf rock trend, yet failing to slow down their time signatures or bring enough sunshine - black jeans dont work on the beach, cuz! Its a great 7" this one, and the coolest thing is that, as they say in 'Saturday Mourning', they dont want to change the world. They probably never will. But they will shake the foundations all the same.

And this is the first South By South West reference we have of the year, as Slow Animal will be in Austin Texas tearing things up on March 15. Dont worry - they'll more than hold their own.

theFUNsun is out now.

Slow Animal - theFUNsun
Slow Animal - Saturday Mourning

Friday 28 January 2011

Late Late Friday Cover Up - Stallone Gets Thrashed

Its actually 8.30am on Saturday morning in Australia, but seeing as I have insomnia (Ive been up for hours), Paul is inundated with various work related issues, and there's still 1 and a half hours of Friday left in the UK, I thought a Friday Cover Up would be nice - what do you think?

Cameron Stallones is a musician that Sonic Masala love, what with his great work with both Magic Lantern and Sun Araw keeping our collective psychedelic juices a-flowin. Here we are focusing on his solo guise as Sun Araw. He has contributed to the soundtrack to indie flick The Woods, which is about to premiere at Sundance. And if this seriously warped version of Neil Young's 'Thrasher' (off Rust Never Sleeps), this will be an incredibly interesting film - we'll keep tabs on how it fares. In the meantime, trip

Sun Araw - Thrasher (Neil Young cover)

White Noise Sound Head For Space - And The Windmill

Im always filled with trepidation whenever a new band is given glowing accolades by the likes of Q magazine and Artrocker. These once-biblical musical tomes are now often behind the times, showcasing acts that fail to be anything more than pale imitations of greater bands of yore. Or are just plain shit. So Im happy to say that White Noise Sound live up to the hype, which I should have guessed seeing as their debut self titled album was produced by Sonic Boom from Spacemen 3 and Cian from Super Furry Animals. The sound is so steeped in My Bloody Valentine/Jesus and Mary Chain/Spacemen 3 musical tropes that its hard not to think of those bands' seminal masterpieces, especially Spacemen 3's output. (NB - its eerie to think that only a week ago I was listening to Play With Fire with renewed vigour, just for this release to come across my desk). White Noise Sound are very accomplished at tiptoeing along the tightrope of aggressive distorted white noise and ethereal dreamlike psychedelics, therefore marking themselves at the forefront of the true shoegaze acolytes.

You can check them out yourselves tonight at the Brixton Windmill, before they head off to spend February touring France and Belgium. And as White Noise Sound have honed their live stage chops supporting the likes of Spectrum, The Warlocks and Super Furry Animals of recent times, this is a prime opportunity to see what will in all probability be an awe-inspiring set up as close as possible - dont miss out.

Melos Mana(r)ges The Magic Mike

Tera Melos put out an electric LP last year that I dont think many (including myself) gave enough credit in Patagonian Rats. This year the math spazzniks are giving us the chance to make amends, with the release of cassette/EP Zoo Weather (out on Sargent House) on February 22nd. 'Manar The Magic' is off it, and its quite brilliant, not least due to the fact it features a near incoherent Mike Watt. Its four minutes of static, ethereal majesty, evoking Animal Collective if they scored the new Mario release on the Wii. Its grin inducing in its spidery rhythms, and shows an immediacy that Tera Melos have at times failed to consistently grasp - which is an immensely promising progression for the band.

If you are in the US, prepare for a TM onslaught also, as they have tied up the diamond support slot for Marnie Stern throught February and March. 2010 may have given us a math gem, but 2011 could be the year Tera Melos grabs us and makes us take notice.

Bomb That Dirty Party Store!

Hello crazy kids! Its Uncle Brendan Masala, all the way from Brisbane, Australia. The place is a bit of a shambles with that pesky flooding business, but its business as usual here on Planet Sonic.

So the first thing on my desk (other than those pesky Glaswegains Mogwai, that you can read about below) as a newly reacquainted Australian is not an Antipodean noise merchant, but perennial Detroit garage rocksters The Dirtbombs. Their Party Store (on In The Red) is essentially a covers album, albeit an obscure one, as they do their thang over the top of old local techno tracks - huh? Listen to 'Shari Vari', 'Good Life,' the happily repetitive 'Strings Of Life' or even the mammoth 21 minute 'Bugs In The Bassbin' and you'll see that this is just another brilliant move by a band that have been quietly infusing rock and roll with dirty sleazy injections for over a decade now. Its whats beautiful about the Dirtbombs - no matter what they do, it is filled with such reinterpretation and verve that everything they touch becomes inherently cool. The Dirtbombs have here incorporated the groove the originals would have had into their own DIY aesthetic, in what becomes a incredibly addictive and cohesive album. I have to say, I have really liked January 2011 - what with Sic Alps, Tape Deck Mountain, Young Prisms, Disappears, Creepoid, Lubec, The Beets, Action Beat, Bardo Pond - and you can firmly place The Dirtbombs in this heavily crowded higher echelon.

Party Store is out now.

Mogwai Electrify With A B-Side

I have had a copy of Mogwai's forthcoming longplayer Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will for some time now, and through listening to it with friends there has been much debate as to the quality of the direction the Glasgow noisemeisters have taken. However there is one thing that hasnt been debated - and its that the B-Side on the Rano Pano single 7", 'Hasenheide', is Mogwai at their blistering best. Concise at just over 3 minutes, 'Hasenheide' feels like an outtake of The Hawk Is Howling that should have well and truly made the cut - it rivals 'Batcat' and 'Glasgow Mega Snake' in its brutality. I can understand why it didnt make the upcoming album, but once again Im keeping my cards close to my chest - you will understand more in a couple weeks when we review it in full. Until then, buy the single (available at Sub Pop here) for the B-side alone.

Thursday 27 January 2011

Take Care - Explosions Abound

Great news. The fifth album for Texan post rock kings Explosions In The sky has been finished, has a title and its tracklist has been set in concrete. The album, Take Care Take Care Take Care, once again will feature artwork by longtime collaborator (and oft-time roadie) Esteben Rey, therefore promising to be as breathtaking as ever. The guys reckon its featuring a sound that they themselves never dreamed they would take on - which could be a blessing or a curse, we will have to wait until April before we can make up our minds. The tracklist for the LP and tour dates are below, after the trailer for the album release that features a snippet of new sounds...

Take Care, Take Care, Take Care from Explosions in the Sky on Vimeo.

The track list:

1. Last Known Surroundings

2. Human Qualities

3. Trembling Hands

4. Be Comfortable, Creature

5. Postcard from 1952

6. Let Me Back In

Explosions in the Sky will be touring Europe in May, playing the Roundhouse on May 19th. No news as yet for a trip to the Southern Hemisphere, but they listed their 2008 tour as one of their all time favourites so expect them back in no time.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Brendan Masala Signs Off From The UK - With A Glass Of Harvey To The Face

Ive always had a morbid fascination with getting glassed...anyway...

This post is an interesting one, as it is primarily about a release from last year that I ummed and ahhed about, before forgetting to really focus on it. But as Hydra Head are releasing it in vinyl as of today, I thought I might spend a little time with Harvey Milk and A Small Turn Of Human Kindness. This album has been a divisive one for HM's fanbase - many seeing this as a step down from what made them essentially great. I dont know how - this is still tonally Harvey Milk, no question - there is dirgelike heavy riffage, thick sheets of white noise, and incredible instrumentation permeating this suite of sound. Because of how the album is presented it means you have to listen to the entire album, which scares off some, whilst also proving too lyrical in part by some heavy purists. But all in all A Small Turn Of Human Kindness IS Harvey Milk, pure and simple, and should not be overlooked - so lucky for today's vinyl release then!

This post has another interesting hue painted over its edges, as it is the last official post I will contribute from the 'sunny' shores of the United Kingdom. Due to a bunch of c's down at the Home Office that unceremoniously lost their thumbs up their arses for three months, my time darkening the doorways of London has come to an end, so I am winging my way back to Australia to regroup and plan the next chapter in my neverending quest for global domination. But never fear - whilst Paul will continue to wave the SM flag unerringly in the UK, I will endeavour to enact my own form of imperialism by claiming Down Under in the name of Sonic Masala. Expect more light to be shed on our Antipodean noise brethren, a few obscure reviews and interviews, and a lot more besides.

Oh and finally, whilst purchasing Harvey Milk at Hydra Head, please PLEASE get Helms Alee's brilliant Night Terrors = its only four bucks!


Monday 24 January 2011

Gnodding Off With The Middle Sex

Gnod, sonic representatives of the Salfordian Republic of Psych, have done it again. They have been busy sparring with the likes of Bong and White Hills, plus gracing the Not Not Fun stables, but their ever-expanding notion of mindtripping domination has just reached its next phase.

I have to say that this spilt LP with A Middle Sex (put out by Blackest Rainbow) is grand. One track on either side by the two self flagellating sonic marauders. Gnod opens proceedings with 'Why Dont You Smile Like The Other Children?', and its twenty minutes of a manipulated groove that is eked out into a tunnel of psychedelic bliss - pretty much what you'd expect from them, really... Then comes A Middle Sex's 'Polytheism', which at seventeen minutes may be Gnod's junior, but punches above its weight with its short swirling intro that gives way to ten minutes of incessant percussion, electronic blips/splurges and underworldly vocals. Its all decidedly weird - Im not sure what they are taking up in Manchester, but it sure wont be found behind the counter at your local pharmist.

Get the Gnod/A Middle Sex split LP here. Below is Gnod's brainmelter in all its glory!

Rising Up Off The Beach

Twin Lakes Records, the new label started by members of MYTY KONKEROR (whose LP I miss the future. was a great release late last year - hear about it here), is releasing its first ever 7" piece o' vinyl. The lucky contributor? Michael Beach, former member of Australia's Electric Jellyfish. He has made the move from Melbourne to San Francisco, and his prepping a new album with producer Raymond Raposa (Castanets) and engineer Seth Lorinczi (Corin Tucker Band). The two tracks showcase the troubadour within Beach, my favourite being the B side 'The Exhilarating Rise' due to its Velvet Underground sound, hiss and attitude.

The vinyl is out February 8th, which you can pre-order now, or you can name your price for a digital copy over on Beach's Bandcamp.

Sunday 23 January 2011

Burzinski Croons A Useless Tale

French shadowy troubadour Burzinski put out a suitably smoky and intriguing EP last year called Ghostly Female Faces - I thought it was pretty good. Well, on the 18th January it was his birthday, and as a gift Italian Maria Cristina made him a present - this rich, dark video of his track 'A Useless Tale'. So, to further the birthday love (if somewhat belatedly - sorry!), here it is, to end out your weekend...

Hits From The Box #4

This is my last week in the UK. Not sure how long Ill be away for. Im back to Australia to finish my Masters, and spread the Word of Sonic Masala Down Under. So how have I spent the week? Being still as broke as a leper's behind, Ive managed to eke out some highlights (saw Roald Dahl's Twisted Tales at Hammersmith Lyric Theatre - amazing sound and stage design, rubbish everywhere else; the High Society exhibition over at Wellcome Collection; Belgian beers and mussels), but mostly I sat around and ate pesto on toast. Its amazing. Oh, and write the fourth edition of Hits From The Box, of course!

Hippo Campus is the moniker for solo artist Makan Negahban, a Californian that dabbles in forlorn warbled acid soundscapes. His second LP Nausea/Cherries is an interesting beast, a little unwieldy at times even when a track is 90 seconds long, but when he gets it right like 'Keep Hot And Cold In Mind' or 'Montelegro', its an inspired listen.

Hippo Campus - Montelegro

KYNAN is another solo artist, this time out of San Diego, that loves playing with electronica and musical form. He is also quite prolific, with an aim to put out a release every month starting from now! The fact that Lil Wayne and Prince are influences might tell you something...or, maybe not...

His first effort on display is Try Harder, which 'Elbows Out' opens. The sounds evoke the sunniness of some of his contemporaries (Secret Knives, Sweet Lights) but incorporates some RnB and dreampop to sampled children and echoing vocals that create a drifting in the ether kind of candy-coated drug. I wasnt sure at first, but this stuff impresses. And the kid is only 18! Whether the quality will hold up over time, or indeed improve, remains to be seen, but KYNAN's initial statement is a strong one.
KYNAN - Elbows Out

Quivers have put out a cassette, , which is five tracks apparently comprising a narrative strand that debates the notion of DNA and the failures of DNA. Hmm. Nevertheless it is a messy fun affair of garage and grunge, with 'Kick You In The Stomach' being a particular highlight. I really like this effort - now if only I knew a little more about what Quivers was all about...

Quivers - Kick You In The Stomach

Michael Marwood used to play for post rock band Sona Di up in Newcastle; he is currently in another act called Cauls. But he has also been doing solo stuff on his own time for five or so years, and has recently endeavoured to air it with the world. Pneu Leaf is his first effort, and although the songs have been gestating for all that time some of them are quite impressive, especially opener 'Coquet Pot'. He supported Geoff Farina (Karate) and Chris Brokaw (Codeine) at the end of last year, and aims to put out some more free stuff by summer before clearing his plate to attack a full length release in its proper intended form. A talent worth keeping an eye on.

Michael Marwood - Coquet Pot

It really is a solo artist Sunday! Elias Krantz is from Stockholm and has just had a groovy track put out on Swedish label Airwaves Music's Fur Immer compilation, 'Watussi', a Harmonia cover as a homage to Michael Rother and Neu! infused shows he did as HalloGallo last year. I wish I had more to go on, but all I can say is that Krantz has an amazing sound here, and I am therefore waiting with bated breath to see how his second LP turns out when it hits the shelves in April. His first, Island Rock, is out on Hockey Rawk, and although I havent heard anyting off it it would be a good thing to hunt down.

Elias Krantz - Watussi

Now this next one is a little different, as we werent contacted by the band or any PR to do with the band per se, but a local fan who wanted his fave band to get some coverage. So kudos to you Arno Gabory for getting Mars Red Sky to make their debut here on Planet Masala. Mars Red Sky are a solid band too - a three piece out of Bordeaux France who delve into a stoner rock vein that is more dream oriented in its scope. They have just released a single, 'Curse', but even though it has a rad video for old 70s skateboarding manoeuvres, Im more of a fan of 'Strong Reflection', so check that one out below. They are said to be releasing an album in March on Emergence Records, so the recorded version of Strong Reflection will be beefier and altogether more visceral...

Finally is Clownfacee, or Mike Quigley as he's known to his friends, and his debut EP Winter. The New York based Clownfacee fuses folk and electronica to work on experimentation with structure and form, and there are some beautiful pieces here, such as the vocoder rendered 'In Your Head', which reminds me of the Barry Burns led compositions of vocals-filled Mogwai, or the more straightforward 'Feel It More'. Check out Winter at Clownfacee's Bandcamp here. My pick of the Hits this week too...

Happy Sunday!

Saturday 22 January 2011

Aristocracy Doesnt Change This Flight Of Fancy

Just been sittin' on the couch, loungin' 'bout, eatin' pasta from the saucepan and listenin' to Voyageurs' newie Alien Iverson. Sure, the posh take on voyagers is duly noted, but a spacier psych jam you arent likely to find - except that the longest song here runs for only four and a half minutes! Its fresh, I tells ya. White Moon Recordings is responsible for this delectable discovery - yeah, they's folks over in Florida that have procured gems from the likes of Signs, Mean Moon and Waylon Thorton - the coolest independent psych label coming outta Gainesville. Head over to the band's website to get this, plus their last two releases that they have put out - in the past five months. Toasty.

Holding Pomegranates In Thrall

This 7" came across my desk a couple of days ago. Its a split between grungy psych-heads Thralls and dissonant popsters The Pentacles, put out by cool San Francisco label 20 Sided Records. Thralls put a lot of moody ambivalence into 'Pomegranates', a very solid track indeed. Check it out below.

Thralls - Pomegranates

Friday 21 January 2011

Clouded Bubblegum Pop

Cloud Nothings just doesnt know when, or how, to quit, does he? Dylan Baldi and his cohorts really took 2010 by the horns, force feeding us his lo-fi pop charms til we choked on their simplicity and overt gooiness. Its sugary addictive stuff, and theres plenty more where that came from, as the band prepares to launch their self titled album on Wichita Records on Monday. The single 'Should Know' has been out for a while, but here is the B-side to that single so that you have another taste of the sweetness that is just around the corner...

Cloud Nothings also play CAMP Basement on the 25th February...

Disappearance Guide

Paul posted about Disappears some time ago, and its one band that I have latched on to ever since. The Chicago motoriksters brought an amazing debut in Lux, and have wasted no time in delivering their second LP, Guider - and it builds on the promise. There is a determined shift in perspective and focus here though - there is much more of a chugging rhythmic unrest here, the band preferring to create a maelstrom of sound that keeps the listener in the eye of the storm whilst the noise swirls around them. The added drumming nous of SY skinsman Steve Shelley notwithstanding, Disappears have fully embraced their krautrock roots (which could also do with the fact that Neu! frontman Michael Rother chose them especially to mark out their midwestern US tours) and married it to their ambitious beginnings, and the result may not be as immediately engaging as Lux, yet for me I was in love from the get go. Most tracks here are succinct, showing a levelheaded approach to their transitional move in musical mastery, ensuring that every ounce of effort is wrung out of each track...that is, until we hit 'Revisiting', a 16 minute epic that proves that you can be more angsty and ferocious if you dial down the speed and ratchet up the tension inherent with a slowly escalating fist of sound. As its half the album's length give or take a couple minutes, 'Revisiting' becomes the flipside, the gaps in between the tightening of the coil just as important as the propulsive rhythms that are constantly at play. All in all, Guider is a very good release, and should help to heighten the band's cult status, their mystique, and the burbling excitement as to where Disappears will disappear to next.

Guider is out now through Kranky Records. They are touring Europe in February, culminating with a London show on the 22nd, so get your tix asap.

Thursday 20 January 2011

Built On A Yeesh Kebab!

We here at Sonic Masala cant claim to know everything there is to know about music, so we are constantly in contact with others to find the best and brightest of all things sonic...and masala-y? One group of guys Ive just become aware of are bloggists Built On A Weak Spot - their best of 2010 had some stunning additions that Im sad to say totally missed my attention! (And they also loved Creepoid, who we spoke about here - serendipity or what...) So whilst reading that I listened to another band they championed, Yeesh, a Vermont indie hardcore act, and their debut cassette Little Stabs At Happiness. I liked the raw nature of the lead's howls, the scratchy guitar noodling, the crash pummeling reminds me heavily of another great act, Australia's The Nation Blue. Even the post rock tendencies and urgency of closer 'Attack Ships' echoed of Drive Like Jehu, one of the most underrated bands EVER. A friend of mine, upon listening to Yeesh, said that they sounded like Sparta, the 'other' band that formed from the ashes of seminal act At The Drive In. Yeah, I can see the comparisons. I also think that this is much more Wiretap Scars than like anything Sparta came up with afterwards - and that can only be a good thing.

Anyway, an exciting little player which you can buy for a physical copy or download for a digital one here.

The Swell Of The Secret Serf

I missed the boat on Tape Deck Mountain first time around. The San Diego band's debut Ghosts hit back in 2009, and it was an impressive if somewhat disjointed affair. Well now they are back with Secret Serf (out on Lefse Records), a four track EP that is not just impressive, but pretty damn great, and properly showcases the duo's penchant for spacey dreamgaze. Sure, every boy and his Stratocaster is aping My Bloody Valentine these days to varying effect - but when it is simply one of the best sonic sounds ever, there is always room for another act to jostle for recognition. The thing is, if this release is anything to go by, Tape Deck Mountain are primed to be leaders of the pack. Opener 'P.I.' is the only clear vocal track present, the rest being swept away in the sunkissed fuzz like many of its beach pop oriented brethren. But the key here is that this is not a Spector-worshipping summer play - it at its heart is a tape pop record, with a huge expansive sound propelling the tracks forward (the melancholic 'Trevor' sounds like a rockier Low covering Pixies' 'Silver', whilst the all-encompassing title track begs to be listened to whilst stuck in a pea soup mist). Tape Deck Mountain have given the world their take on skewed dream noise pop, done at a languid pace, and its admirable stuff. I know we are early in the year, but this is my favourite EP - nay, release - thus far. (Actually that is a big call, but its my favourite this week, ok???)

Tape Deck Mountain are currently embarking on a tour of the West Coast of the US - if you are around, I strongly suggest you make it a priority to catch these guys - they're only getting started.

Tape Deck Mountain - P.I.

80s VHS Vid For Mogwai's Rano Pano

Here is the official video for Mogwai's opening salvo from their latest release, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. The clip for 'Rano Pano' is said to inspired by 80s VHS tapes, and features two boozers who successfully construct a strange dimensional device... Check it out below. Not long to wait now before the new LP hits - only a month! (NB - SM has heard the album; Paul thinks its a game changer...)

Wednesday 19 January 2011

4 way Christchurch Earthquake Musicathon

There was an earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, Back in September. This is a fairly unprecedented event for the region, causing all kinds of havoc and damage, but also apparently moved the earth's surface 11 ft to the right! Fucking mental. A few buildings fell down, including people's homes. Some won't be standing for much longer.

Local label City Kids Records decided to infiltrate one of these 'condemned' buildings with a few microphones, and record four local bands. These four EP releases helps to further shatter my claim back in 2006 that there werent many good bands kicking about on the South Island. Villain's Away offers five slices of melancholic meandering rock a la The National; Devotion's How To Fall Apart mines similar territory but with a more anger-fuelled, Joy Division meets The Twilight Sad-esque bent; whilst Sleeping With Students' Get Your Hands Off My Molly! and Gigglepop's Got My Dog offers more tropical garage punk, mirroring the trends and, in Gigglepop's case at least, aping some of the snot nosed working class Brits that did this indie shtick well a couple years ago. Its all pretty impressive stuff, and you cant get much better DIY production and values than whats on offer here.

All four EPs are available for free download too, which is doubly (or quadruply?) ace. Get them here, here, here and here respectively. I suggest you do so - these are fun, quality releases.

Minks Captured Hedging Their Bets

Captured Tracks sticks to its guns on the most part, putting out guitar bands that have that floating sonorous lo fi sound as their overt staple. Yet most acts of this ilk (Wild Nothing, Beach Fossils) have a distinctive path that they follow. With debut LP By The Hedge, Brooklyn duo Minks have chosen to mine the entire field, therefore proving to be the touchstones that connect one act to the next, and showcasing the changes in the sound over the past couple of years. They are distinctly Cure-ists, as is most evident in 'Funeral Song', whilst 'Indian Ocean' cribs Dustin Payseur and his Beach Fossils schtick to sublime instrumental effect. 'Our Ritual', my favourite on here, is a warm synth laden strum along the backs streets of Echo and the Bunnymen.

This is a beautiful record - it really does float on harmlessly, putting your head back inside itself to indulge in warm daydreams. Yet I am unsure as to how long it will last. There arent enough hooks here to keep you firmly attached to the songs (although opener 'Kusmi' has enough of a shoegaze fuzz to suggest that there is beef to be added on these skeletal tracks live). Daydreams are only fleeting, after all. Just look at their recent touring schedule - a couple of months scouring the United States with Dum Dum Girls...

By The Hedge is out now.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Content To Be Discontented

I arrived in London back in August 2008 just in time for the sun, not knowing that the previous summer months had been somewhat shit. To add to what would be the genesis of my love for the place, within a week I saw some amazing bands at Offset Festival, none more exciting for me than to see Gang of Four playing the majority of one of the best albums of all time, Entertainment! Another funny fact - I met Paul at this festival too, almost eighteen months before the fated ATP that would spawn the blog you are reading right now.

Now Gang of Four are the godfathers of post punk, and you could cut down a whole forest of stationery in order to write the names of bands that are inevitably indebted to their presence. The band themselves have had a real insurgence, and their live shows are still something to behold. Nevertheless it was with much surprise that the Marxists roustabouts (as well as another behemoth of the genre, Wire, whose Red Barked Tree we will look at shortly and as an aside were playing at the same festival back in 08!) announced they were recording an album of new material. It must be mentioned that I held this news with much trepidation. Many great bands come back after many years with 'something to say', and the resultant mess does nothing other than sully the good work that had come before them (Weezer with just about anything they've done since Pinkerton is just one example).

So here it is - Content, 11 tracks of politico post punk. And...its not too shabby. Sure, the angular anger is somewhat tempered, which may or may not have something to do with the fact that their enduring influences means we hear watered down versions of their sound in every stadium and 'hip' television soundtrack nowadays. But there is still so much to recommend here that Content becomes a album of worth. Opener 'She Said 'You Made A Thing Of Me'' is a brooding propulsive number that holds vicariously onto the Go4 aesthetic of old, and 'Who Am I?' feels like we are back in the 70s, with just a touch of a nod to their myriad progeny (Franz Ferdinand, anyone?) The real surprise for me is 'It Was Never Going To Turn Out Too Good' - another track utilising vocoder this month to great effect. The Gothic menace that builds over the track's short playing time is impressive, and showcases an act willing to show innovation and add to their sound palette rather than rest on their sizable laurels.

Content therefore acquits itself, and even offers up some worthy listens. That said, it isnt the redefining album that contemporaries Mission of Burma proved to produce with their The Sound The Speed The Light back in 2009, but it does show a band that know who they are, that are still lean and hungry, and still have a lot to offer that the future generations could learn from, rather than ape.

Content is out January 24th on Gronland Records.

These Luddites Are Gettin Got Good!

Thee Ludds first hit me as Murder City Devils headed by Jon Spencer's younger brother, with less money, ambition, vitriol and whiskey, but with more apathy and inherent sleaze. A few more listens of Fez Bowl, their cassete on Tie Dye Tapes, and the split they have just done with The NoBrainers, doesnt really have me changing my mind much. These Leceister boys may be new on the scene, but they are aping the right kinds of bands, and with further exposure (especially if they picked up some more London shows, hmm?) they could be pushing all burning down the Old Blue Last come year's end with a thousand dying acolytes at their feet.

Monday 17 January 2011

Monday Cover Up - 2 Tracks not talking

Yet again a busy week means the Friday Cover-up takes the toll so I hope this Monday Cover-up will ease you into your Monday afternoon.

Its often that a good cover version can throw a new angle onto a track, remold it and give it a different guise. One cover lets you compare it to the original track, naturally, but when two covers of the same jam land at the same time then it can show up all sorts of comparisons. So when Ty Segall's quality cover of the early G G Allin track Don't Talk To Me for Daytrotter started do the blog rounds recently I instantly wanted to compare it Hank Haint's version of the same track I landed just before Christmas, two garage fuzz friendly one man bands reworking a punk classic. Twice the cover up value. So below is Ty Segall's and Hank Haint's version of Don't Talk To Me and just complete the trio set there's also G G Allin's original.

Don't Talk To Me - Ty Segall
Don't Talk To Me - Hank Haint
Don't Talk To Me - GG Allin

Keep The Creepoids From The Horses

I dont know much about the Philadelphians otherwise known as Creepoid, so had no real connection to what their debut Horse Heaven would sound like. What came across was a great record of sometimes breezy, sometimes scathing folk Americana psych, a true pastiche of elements that served the purpose of crafting songs of melancholia with bite and bombast. I find Creepoid are tapping into a rich vein of originality here, with the rustic acoustics of 'Find You Out' or 'Hollow Doubt' breaking into sonic swirls, or the unrelenting dirge that breaks forth from slowcore beginnings in 'Grave Blanket'. Overall the Kyle Johnson (Wavves, Modest Mouse) produced Horse Heaven has a sense of droll inevitability emanating from it, an unsettling notion as it steamrolls to its conclusion. This is a grower, whereby you think you have a handle on what this album is capable of and what its trying to do, but like a creeper vine it twists around you almost imperceptibly, and before you know it you're entwined. Somehow reminiscent of when I listened to Broken Water's Whet for the first time last year. A worthy release indeed.

Horse Heaven is out now - get it over at Ian Records or at their Bandcamp.

Tyvek Tour Will Make It Fit

One of the things about Tyvek is that they punk it up like nobody's business, but dont really give a shit if they are punk, garage, or fucking classical rap. They do what they do and go home. On strangely overlooked album of last year Nothing Fits, it is clearly evident that they have better production values, but then go about thrashing themselves stupid for thirty odd minutes before taking their bat and ball and going home, mission well and truly accomplished. It copped a bit of flak for being too much like their forebears (The Stooges, New York Dolls, Stiff Little Fingers et al), but Tyvek dont hold any high falutin aspirations other than to fuck shit up. Preferably all over your face. We stated before the album broke in November that it would be messy, breakneck and addictive as hell - and Im standing by that notion.

Dont believe me? Well, we stated back on October that Tyvek would be on tour this year - plenty of warning. Get your arse to their Upset The Rhythm show at the Grosvenor on March 15th then, where they will be more than ably supported by UK's The Pheromoans. If you cant make that, then you have all of February and March to catch them playing in some corner of Europe, so there's no excuse really.

Tyvek - 4312

Sunday 16 January 2011

Hits From The Box #3

What a week to have your eye glued shut. Well, having a bung eye is never good, but there were a couple of nice days this week to venture outdoors, but I was too blurry eyed (and embarrassed) to make the journey to anywhere other than the NHS Walk-in Centre and the pharmacist. Which allowed me to pore over our inbox and see what juicy treats we had in store...

The first two acts have a common thread - they are projects of bands we have previewed recently, Luftwaffe and Smiley With A Knife. Firstly, Camera Phone is the solo project of Luftwaffe's Toby Altman, and is an interesting affair indeed, as its mainly made up of samples from the new Taylor Swift album... Red Stag (For James) is all shimmery lo fi dreampop though, that much we can be certain of. And its a nice little grab too.

Late last year we posted about an instrumental math group from New Orleans called Smiley With A Knife, whose 3rd LP Long Now showed a real progression for the band. The guitarist from the band, Patrick Bailey, puts out musak of his own under the moniker LoOmis, and is releasing his own 3rd LP, A Solitary Attraction. Experimental looped ephemera. I likee...

Talvihorros (AKA Ben Chatwin) has grace Sonic Masala with his presence before, with the Bad Panda backed track 'The Blue Cathedral' - check that one out here. Here he is extending his experimental exploration of the guitar with ‘Etude V’, a cut from the forthcoming album Studies For Acoustic Guitar and Electronics. I find his compositions alluring and enthralling – I cant wait to see what else he produces in 2011.

Etude V by Talvihorros

Slowwave have a component to their sound that is either a blessing or a curse for the Washington band, as the lead singer sounds at times like Jose Gonzales, or Jimi Goodwin, and at others very Chris Martin. Now I don’t mind, I think Gonzalez and Martin have good voices, and Goodwin’s is great. It just matters what the songs are like. And with Drag Lake Sin, Slowwave’s EP out on the 25th (through Savings n Loan Records, a small start-up indie label in Tacoma, WA), the songs a very strong indeed, particularly ‘Pour’ and ‘Gold’, although the electronics at times stands at odds with the rest of the sound. Drag Lake Sin will be in vinyl format sometime in the upcoming months too.

Slowwave - Pour

On Volcano, a four-piece from Tampere, Finland (a breathtaking part of the world I might add) have given the world New Blood. Their four track EP is beautifully emotive, sweeping along at a creeping pace, the hushed female vocals pushing the indie/post rock tunes towards a sudden rush of cacophonous exhilaration. You can download the entire thing here at their website.

On Volcano - The Explorer

Lastly we have Lady Lazarus, whose album Mantic is out on Tuesday. She is an acolyte to Cat Power with a smattering of Joanna Newsom there too. Its pretty good – very good in some places (‘The Eye In The Eye Of The Storm’, ‘Sick Child’). Just Lady Lazarus (AKA Melissa Ann Sweet) and her piano for the most part, making beautiful melancholic sparse compositions. And that Chan Marshall-esque voice...

Lady Lazarus - The Eye In The Eye Of The Storm

Happy Sunday!

Thursday 13 January 2011

Lubec Is Enough!

With the flurry of releases that are being pushed by Crash Avenue, its not hard to see how something like Lubec's Nothing Is Enough! EP could have sat on my desk for so long without being given the proper amount of attention. However it would be remiss of me to leave these guys by the wayside, as it is the first release of the year that has had me genuinely happy to be alive.

Released next week, the Richmond, Virginia four piece dish out sic slabs of fuzzy noise pop rock, each cut a little more salivatory than the last, until you reach closer 'You'll Know Then' and you work out that either you are drowning in your own blissfully flowing spit or you've pissed yourself. In my case, both occurred, but that's beside the point. Lubec have cut the perfect balance from scuzzy noise, denim rock and bubblegum pop. If you liked Sisters' Ghost Fits last year, then put that aside, as Lubec do the noise pop thang so much better here (no offence - Ghost Fits was one of my guilty pleasures of last year).

Fave cuts - opener 'Evan Wright' sets the off the cuff, happy as Larry attitude perfectly and leaves you without a doubt as to what is in store for you. 'Gang Knife Battles' hints at a more anthemic, moody version of their sunny garage fuzz, whilst 'You'll Know When' is a wistful reminder that it has all come to an end...before you realise there is a repeat function.

This is a very strong debut (out on Wednesday through The Acme Thunderer) from a band well worth looking into.

Hear The Psyche Hum Cyclically

Another album I wanted to talk about before 2010 finished up, but I only received it before New Years Eve, so Im excused! Its by a small two piece act from Gainseville, Florida called Hear Hums. Mitch and Kenzie make weird experimental electronic pop of the Animal Collective mould, and Psyche Cycles, their second LP (out through Crash Symbols) is an amazing pastiche of bubbling noises and woozy beats. Each track bleeds into the next, coming across as a technicolour, breathing mass of propulsive ectoplasm, talking out of the television from a videodrome of its own creation. Its very DIY, yet incredibly organic and crisp. Its a worthy release, thats for sure.

Check out the video for the first two tracks of the album, 'Cerebellum'/'Woo', plus another track 'Ay' below...

Hear Hums - Ay

Cerebellum/Woo - Hear Hums from Hear Hums on Vimeo.