Monday 31 January 2011
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, 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
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 - Butter And Toast
Old Monk - Warm Moustache
Halls - Kaleidoscope
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!
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 -
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
'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
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 out...now.
Sun Araw - Thrasher (Neil Young cover)
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.
Thursday 27 January 2011
1. Last Known Surroundings
The track list:
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
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.
Monday 24 January 2011
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.
Sunday 23 January 2011
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,
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...
Saturday 22 January 2011
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.
Friday 21 January 2011
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...
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.
Thursday 20 January 2011
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 drums...it 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.
Tape Deck Mountain - P.I.
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
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.
Tuesday 18 January 2011
Monday 17 January 2011
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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