Thursday 31 March 2011

Video Vacuum - J Mascis, Moon Pearl, Plant Magic Man

Happy Thursday! Feel like watching some music vids rather than doing work? Us too! So here are four videos guaranteed to get you through the day!

First up is J Mascis, whose 'Not Enough' vid off album Several Shades Of Why is all kinds of wonderful colourful wackiness. Need to get your sugar levels up? Let papa Mascis give you his marvellous medicine...

I love Ringo Deathstarr. I love 'Two Girls'. I love Alex Ghering. Love.

Next up is Moon Pearl. Now I dont know the story behind this footage, but it is fucking great. I never thought there was a score made to nonchalantly being followed after perpetrating a crime, being opening filmed by the media, then losing your shoes after "surprisingly" being pursued by the local po-lice - but this is it.

And finally, Plant Magic Man continues his mysterious ways by sowing these seeds, three blips on the musical horizon prepping us for Dogson his collection of recordings. Intrigued? As always...

Plant Magic Man - Dogson Blip # 1 from Sebastian Pardo on Vimeo.

Plant Magic Man - Dogson - Blip # 2 from Sebastian Pardo on Vimeo.

PLANT MAGIC MAN - Dogson - Blip # 3 from Sebastian Pardo on Vimeo.

Plug in and drop out...

Wednesday 30 March 2011

Solace In The Halls

South-east London producer Sam Howard, aka Halls, has released new single ‘Solace’ w/ ‘Colossus’ and ‘Brave New World’. ‘Solace’ builds upon Howard’s recognized micro-sample foundations before being enveloped by a bounty of beautifully warped strings. Adding to this his haunting, ethereal vocals lead the track into a shrouded texture reminiscent of a picturesque sonic forest. This is a luscious video that perfectly complements the soundscapes...

Halls - Solace from Two Tap on Vimeo.

Interview - Christian Bland of The Black Angels

Texas psych warriors The Black Angels had a massive 2010 what with the release of their third album Phosphene Dream, the growing popularity of their own Austin Psych Fest, and a unbelievable tour co-headlined by the likeminded Black Mountain.

I spoke to guitarist Christian Bland about the latest album, which showcased a mellower, more melodic nuance to the archetypal Black Angels sound. Such changes have allowed them to stretch themselves sonically. "Sure. I think some of our other influences came thru on this album. With the help of Dave Sardy we crafted shorter songs inspired by The Zombies, Beatles, Animals, etc…British invasion meets Austin psychedelia. Dave was out in LA though, so we flew to him. It was great to leave home and record in a new environment. I think you can hear LA coming through on the album. It would have sounded completely different if we had recorded in Austin."

This change in scenery culminated in a decided shift in tempo, most notably on tracks 'Telephone' and 'Haunting At 1300 McKinley'. Particularly with the former though, Bland says the song pretty much wrote itself. "We wanted to try a song that had an early Beatles feel. I bought a new guitar around the time the song was written, a 12 string 355 Rickenbacker. I think the song must have been stuck in the guitar waiting for someone to get it out."

The name of the album itself, Phosphene Dream, comes from a communal interest in a book they found about the drug DMT (dimethyltryptamine), a naturally occurring psychedelic compound. However Bland is quick to allay thoughts that this is a chemical album. "DMT can show you what it feels like to die and come back to life. That's what the album is about. DMT is known as 'the Spirit Molecule.' It's naturally occurring in all of us."

2010 has been a massive year, ending with touring with friends Black Mountain, whilst also returning to the UK to do their solo headliner shows. "It was great. Black Mountain...they're amazing people and very talented musicians. And I think the UK is slowly warming up to us," Bland says with a wry grin.

But it hasn't all been about playing and recording, with the fourth year of their curated Austin Psych Fest seeing possibly the best line-up ever, including such Sonic Masala favourites as Atlas Sound, Dead Meadow, Crystal Stilts, Sleepy Sun, White Hills, Pontiak, Beaches, Woodsman, Young Prisms, Cloudland Canyon, and Tjutjana. However the origins of the festival were somewhat humble. "In 2008 we had the idea to invite all of our friends bands to town for a weekend of psychedelic music. It's a fun time to hang out with all of our friends and hear the best, most creative music being made today. Each year its grown and grown beyond what I would ever have expected."

Bland was also quick to talk about some of the music that he thought deserved much more attention. "I think Clinic should be the biggest band in the world. They've been a huge influence on us. Another band that should be getting more recognition is The Night Beats from Seattle who will be at Austin Psych Fest 4. I also love (the Australian music scene). I've really gotten into Tame Impala. Another of my favourites is The Dolly Rocker Movement."

Finally, what is Sonic Masala? "It sounds like an Indian dish!"

That it does - the best kind. The Black Angels have just released a video for their single 'Haunting At 1300 McKinley', whilst you can still get tix for the Austin Psych Fest which is held on the final weekend in April.

No Absence Of Hyenas Circling This Snowman

It was incredibly sad news when Perth via London quartet Snowman announced their indefinite hiatus earlier this year. I am a massive fan and have seen them on a number of occasions, including their stellar support slot for My Disco (see our thoughts here). Something that lessened the blow was the announcement that they would still release the hotly-anticipated follow up to 2007's The Horse, The Rat And The Swan. It's called Absence (poetic and prescient), and here is the first track off it, 'Hyena'. Classic Snowman here. Ill let Joe McKee explain a bit more about it all:

“The ideas grew from months of travel, being away from home and its comforts/familiarities. I ended up back in London with a wad of about 30 postcards I’d collected by various photographers. They all contained a similar mood, an un-nameable emotion. There was something both unsettling and soothing about them. There was an absence of something in each. A longing for something that no longer exists. I wanted to capture that emotion in an audible way as it seemed to capture that dislocated feeling we were all going through at the time.

The album was written primarily in a flat in Walthamstow E17. Perhaps we were trying to channel the East17 spirit in our music. It truly was a house of love. We wanted to write something cathartic. We didn't want to repeat our previous album The Horse The Rat and The Swan. We trod that ground and wanted to keep moving forward. Throwing ourselves into the deep-end and trying to swim.

Absence is more seductive and more giving than the last record. It is a romance with fading memories and lost loved ones. It is a communication between the living and the dead. A séance of sorts. It's about tearing yourself away from the things you love in order to progress and to move forward. Killing the eventual 'coming to terms' and letting go of all of these things. All things must pass. Change is inevitable.

We were becoming increasingly aware that Snowman was on her last legs. So the album was shaped as a parting gift. A swan song of sorts. A 'hometown farewell kiss'. All these feelings are wrapped up in a story of two lovers. One passes away and the other tries to communicate with the others ghost. I sing from the perspective of the woman, the man and a third 'ghost' character. This loose theme gave us room to say everything we wanted to say about our relocation/dislocation and struggle to communicate with the past.

The sounds and the textures created mimic these feelings. We wanted to wash away some of the shards of glass. We created clouds of chords instead. We wanted it to sound like a fading memory, or like time gradually slipping away and eventually dissolving. Aaron (Cupples) has a wonderful way with gadgets and sound.

We fed lots of the sounds through a tape deck to help disintegrate them. We actually recorded the whole album, in its entirety, TWICE. Then we chose the bits we liked of each and remixed it and mashed it up. It was therefore, a rather long and convoluted recording process....hence, three years passing by between records.

Absence is our sunset. It feels like the perfect way to end our trilogy of albums. It completes the triangle."

Sad, but poignant, and thus marks Absence an album to be looking forward to.

Hyena by SNOWMAN

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Fantasising About The Boom Bang

Two of my fave finds of 2010 have exciting releases of note.

First up we have The Fantasies, whose unpredictable tracks of varies pastiches of genres and sexy art work have been flooding the musical floodplains for the past few months. Now they have hit us with 'Stuck In My World', a track solely devoted to making you lose your mind.

The Boom Bang have just released their new album, World War Fun, on Nice People Records, and they have a tasty single off it that reminds one and all that they only have one speed - GO! They will pummel you into submission if needs be. And so they should.

Vad Vacker Makes Us A Diamond

Just a quick post to give to the world Vad Vacker's newie, 'Make Me A Diamond', which features A Sofa Made Of Dust's Bob Constant on vocal duties. Vad Vacker (AKA Greg) is busy tonight, as both he and his "day band" Pet Scenes are playing the Macbeth - get down there, it'll be a sweet night on the sauce.

Nihiti Eats Other People's Memories

These brooding soundscapes wont necessarily cheer up your day, but Nihiti has crafted something particularly spectacular with Other People's Memories. Unless you are listening to 'The Ringing In (The Sun Is Rung)', which is a bizarre shadow of Arcade Fire pomp and esoterics, yet creeps forward like Nosferatu. The majority of this album accommodates all manner of eerie nuances, airs and graces, coming off like an eloquent yet disturbed coming-of-age psychodrama that not even the possibility of Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis in coitus could redeem - and that is a seal of approval. The crazy elements at play are too numerous to fathom - I am often lost as to whats going on - because its so adept in its sinewy diversity. This album is somethings else altogether - and should be holding everyone in rapture. As the music world will deftly sidestep this, its up to Sonic Masala and its ilk to grab you, shove this into your sweaty palms and send you off, happy in the knowledge that at least one of you will become a voodoo zombie princess writhing at the altar of Nihiti.

Vitamins Give Us The Good Stuff

Just thought Id offer up these tracks from Denver act Vitamins (we gave you a taste of their stuff here). Their 7" No Notion Of Anything Only Whatever Is What gives us two tracks of excellent kinetic Krautrock - the titular A side and its counterpart 'The Disappearance of David Lee Powell' is all shimmering guitar, echoing angelic Syren-esque vocals and motorik drumming, although the B side has more of a rolling thunder to it. We mentioend they were getting a vid done by Rob Feulner - it is below also. You can get the 7" (out via Hot Congress) in April - preorder at the site. Make sure you do - this is an absolutely kick ass release!

Vitamins - No Notion Of Anything Only Whatever Is What from Rob Feulner on Vimeo.

Monday 28 March 2011

Wreck And Reference Wreak Dark Irreverence

Wreck and Reference brought out an excellent cassette earlier this year, simply called the Black Cassette. Ive been meaning to write about this for some time (like so many other bits and pieces that hovers over me at the moment). Anyway, Wreck and Reference proclaim to be from the howling waste of California, and the six slices of doom and gloom on offer here certainly helps to back up their claims. There are elements of Shellac in the dark stylings of these tracks, added to the metronomic rumbles that evokes a darker, more deranged My Disco. This release was recorded directly to tape, which lends itself to the thought that we are hearing the sounds of madmen locked in a bunker somewhere in the sun-scorched desert, away from light, water, nourishment of any kind. I know Ive mentioned the darkness a few times, but there is something invigorating in the outpouring of such unbridled vitriol that I can help but be swayed by the black bile...

ANOTHER Six Organs Of Admittance Album? Well I Never...

Six Organs Of Admittance, AKA Ben Chasny, pretty much fits the epitome of the term "prolific", having released over a dozen full releases and countless others when collaborations and split records are concerned, with the sounds crossing the thresholds of avant-folk, veering like an unpredictible pendulum from guitar panache to guitar ambience to guitar drone without warning. Dont even get me started on his other work, most notably the ever-missed Comets On Fire and last year's surprise behemoth Rangda (False Flag is an album that still energises and excites me today...)

Yet it is only in the past eighteen or so months that I can safely say that I have been a SOA fan. I guess I was always wanting Chasny to bust my skull open like his best Comets... work, without being patient enough to delve into his other sonic waters. But I have explored every Drag City release he has thrown out (five since 2005), and his latest, Asleep On The Floodplain, is a great album.

Occasionally there are lyrics (Hold But Let Go, River Of My Youth) but the lyricism is in the guitarwork, with Chasny stepping out and proclaiming his intent - or lack of it. For he is still as frustratingly difficult to pin down stylistically as ever - yet he has honed tracks that exude confidence and bravado. This isnt someone trying out a few styles to find out which one fits - this is someone whose tastes may change from day to day, but has the perfect soundtrack for such flights of fancy. And then there is Sword and Leviathan - its what I love about music, the drone, the psych, the epicness, the virtuousity...

Dont worry about trying to pigeonhole Chasny - just let him BE.

Braiding Plath's Pubis...

I was willing to dismiss Braids on the notion that the advance hype surrounding the release of Native Speaker was so large as to almost guarntee that it was overblown and likely a massive disappointment. Yet in the space of two days a few weeks ago I was forced to rethink my admittedly baseless assumptions when I was shipped the album to review for a magazine as well as the video sent as a thank you for a favour I did. Now Tanya, Im not sure whether sharing a Youtube clip actually works as payment for services rendered - but I am in your debt, as the song is fantastic and is guaranteed to get into your head. The clip is decidedly Animal Collective oriented (one post on YouTube stated that "no vaginas were harmed in the making of this video" which made me lose it for some reason...), but really the comparisons should end there. Just listen to it then get over and buy the album - its a good un.

Braids are currently touring around the US with Toro Y Moi. They will be stopping over at the Lexington in London on May 24 - tickets available here.

Sunday 27 March 2011

Hits From The Box #12 - I Ain't Foxin...

Here's your double dose of Hits From The Box action! I have to admit I wasnt sure if I would get here in time - speed drinking the afternoon away whilst looking at ridiculously dolled up boys and girls played at sophistication whilst horse with little midgets on them tried to get away from other horses with little midgets on them tends to be a time-consuming effort. Still, here I am, having risen from alcoholic stupor to thrust six delectable slices of musical Lifesavers down your goddamn gullet. You will eat it and you will like it! (Shit, I need to go to bed...)

First cab off the ranks is 'Dance More' by The Dogs, an art pop number that is decidedly anthemic despite its indie nerdery. The Chicago quartet have been two-stepping to Neil Young since their teens, and now have an album out called Camping, an album that is vibrant and decidedly hi-fi despite it coming about despite distance (all four members were spread through the US and, in Rivka's case, Norway) and being completed via microphones and laptops. The funny thing about this track was that I felt ashamed to find my first reference point being none other than Third Eye Blind - then found the band referencing them in their own press release. Believe me though, give this a chance - it works despite its apparent faults, there being more of a hint of love for far better songsmiths than those semi-charmed wankers...

The Dogs - Dance More

NewVillager have carved such an effective track in 'Lighthouse' that I have had it on steady rotation since putting it on last week. NewVillager is apparently a multimedia outlet for Ben Bromley and Ross Simonini, who use various mediums to translate into an experience what they refer to as the NewVillager "mythology", a ten-part cycle exploring transformation, teenage-hood, and the formation of new ideas. Now I dont know about any of that, but I do know that this song and its accompanying video are amazing - joyful, effervescent, decidedly wacky - and thus NewVillager is well deserved of your time.

NewVillager - Lighthouse

NewVillager - "LightHouse" from stereogum on Vimeo.

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is a Tennessee folk act (AKA solo project of Paul Kintzing) that has just released After The Warmth, a lovely CD-R that complements last year's To Carry Alongside (and can still get for free at his Bandcamp site here). The tunes fit side by side with the likes of Willy Mason and Jose Gonzalez, yet the lo-fi nature of the recordings actually stands to enhance the ethereal structures of the songs. Its a lovely sound that I sincerely hope we hear more of in the near future.

German Error Message - We Arose

Calgary's Lab Coast make excellent, poppy, beautiful songs – offering a fun juxtaposition to dissonant sonic noise and softly sweet choruses that you can tell these guys want to sound hard and be pop idols in the same breath. Its an endearing quality that helps to amplify the success of their tunes. Their album Pictures On The Wall is available through Eggy Records - and it is really quite good.

Lab Coast - Really Realize

Bursting out of Baltimore are The Flying Eyes. The band shares Sonic Masala's love for psyched out music, citing the likes of Dead Meadow and The Black Angels as pivotal influences on their sound. They've just released their debut LP Done So Wrong (through Trip In Time and World In Sound Records), and its solidly steeped in psych rock tropes and colloquialisms - thus if you are a fan of the genre, you will like what is on offer without a doubt! They are currently touring through Europe, but unfortunately are not making a pitstop in the UK. Still its only a hop, skip and a jump over to the likes of Germany - check out their site for gig details...

The Flying Eyes - Nowhere To Run
The Flying Eyes - Poison The Well

The Owsley Brothers is the name under which J. E. Reynolds plies his musical trade, offering up slices of sinewy blues on upcoming album Separated At Birth that are as stirring as they are jauntily haunting. The greatest element that Reynolds gets right here is the sense of gothic poetry permeating Southern blues - and he nails it, especially on the track 'Faith In Me'.

The Owsley Brothers - Faith in Me
The Owsley Brothers - Under The Shade Of A Live Oak

There - two six packs of new music to get you through your weekend. Happy Sunday!

Saturday 26 March 2011

Hits From The Box #11 - Dropping Wolves Amongst The Man Birds In A Very Ultra Persia

Cos we've been in an involuntary hibernation for a few weeks, the inbox is clogged with some really good music (and some muzak, which is nice too). So this weekend you are getting a double dose of Hits From The Box! Lucky you, right? Right. And dont think we wont go all Ripley on yours asses if you dont get into it, ok? (NB - sorry for the lack of pics for these bands, my computer is doing weird stuff, so when I get the time and opportunity Ill update it, but until then - just enjoy the tunes!)

And Im starting off big, as Ive fallen for the skewed machinations of this unassuming first band. D/Wolves are, by their own admission, a dreampop, freakpop, gypsy-gaze, mudbath, post-spooky, spazz rock band. Whatever they are, their debut LP Freak Of Nature is damn sweet - here's hoping that these euphoric pop gems outta San Diego get noticed, and soon! This was a real surprise, so much so that I aim to make this my road trip music this afternoon when cruising down the sunbaked highway! Be part of the cult, and head over to their Bandcamp pronto for a free slice!

D/Wolves - Pretty Wolves
D/Wolves - Live Much

Drop Electric take us bake down a notch, offering some nuanced instrumental rock that is accomplished in its ebb and flow. Their debut album Finding Color In The Ashes is damned fine, and this is despite a major setback - their former lead singer had to pull out of the band when her family died in a car accident back in 2008. This album sets up as a testament not just to her, but to staring up in hope despite adversity in general, as well as standing the test of time without that added knowledge. Which is why the track here fits the bill, and highlights why this band needs to be lauded. Keep it up guys! (And a goodwill gesture from the band - their album for free!)

Drop Electric - Ruthless Youth

Man Benu are a darker, yet more straightforward act out of Brooklyn, heavily influenced by the post rock movement. Which sounds like Im selling them a little short, but their Dear Shadow 7" is impressive in building a discordant tension not far from early Blonde Redhead territory - elegiac yet brooding, threatening. Its the rolling darkness that never fully comes to light that is most impressive here.

Man Benu - Dreaming Out Loud
Man Benu - Sound & Light

Baltimore kids of whimsy Eureka Birds have just released Eureka!, an EP that cruises along adhering stringently to the classic pop structures whilst infusing it with enough creative malaise that it'll have you lazily tapping your toes against your own will. Just try not to sway and sing the harmonies here, I dare you! In saying that, there is enough 90s college slacker guitar interplay here to make it "fresh" - but who cares? A good song is a good song, and Eureka Birds have written a few of em here. Eureka indeed! (And as an aside, the Beatles-esque 'Sarah (Sits And Cries)' makes me laugh - sorry Sezz, but it does...)

Eureka Birds - That Mountain Is A Volcano
Eureka Birds - Sarah (Sits And Cries)

Man, where do you even start with Gamma Like Very Ultra? Weird as fuck doesnt even start cutting the mustard, pal. Their warped compositions are steeped in free form jazz, but deliberately eschew musical norms to inject a large dose of silliness and wild abandon, so much so that listening to their self-titled album is like eating a tub of Ben and Jerry's ice cream whilst sitting naked on a block of ice. They list Zappa, CAN and Captain Beefheart as influences, with a healthy dollop of Sonic Youth no wave dissonance, which is fairly prescient.

Gamma Like Very Ultra - Kim And Kelley Deal

And finally Brighton's P For Persia have done some serious touring in the past year, all in preparation for their second album Coral Canyon. Its what is to be expected from the instrument-swapping foursome - essentially, noise rock that incorporates a miasma of movements such as electronica, prog, stoner rock and Chiptune - truly... How these guys arent signed yet is beyond me.

P For Persia - Queen Doppellopolis
P For Persia - Smoking Fossils 'til Dawn

Happy Saturday you crazy burgers!

Friday 25 March 2011

Police Academy 6 Was The Best Sequel...No? It Is Now.

God there are some cool yet borderline shit band names that reference ace films out there. Back To The Future: The Ride is right up there on the tightrope, as is Police Academy 6. Lucky for them they have pulled out a gem that will push any debate over the moniker aside. 'The Chills', featuring Raw Moans (which I really like as a band name, by the by) steps up from their previous forays into the dreaded chillwave/glo-fi wastelands and offers something much more - well, wholesome. Which is where many of the chillwave acolytes fall down - they dont hold the inherent likeability of the 'pioneers' of the sound - something I think this deliberately tricksy band are trying to capture, which can only be a good thing.

Oh and they did a song with Lester Brown on their EP last year. Lester Brown is one half of Mickey Brown, the project paried with resident SM fave and sonic weirdo Mickey Mickey Rourke, so that tips the boat then.

Climb Aboard This Gallopagator...And Trap Them Trio O Tigers

Thought Id kill two birds with one stone here - because I love to kill birds with minimum effort.

The London DIY label Blood and Bisciuts have two ace releases coming up over the horizon. Three Trapped Tigers are releasing Route One Or Die at the end of May, and the album promises much in the way of intricate math rock machinations with a healthy dose of synth effects drizzled generously over the top - kinda like a harder-edged PVT. Meanwhile Welsh instrumentalists Gallops bring out their Joust/Eukodol 7" a week earlier, and its just as ace! Two very cool releases well worth getting excited for - designed to rock and groove in equal measures, you can imagine the frenetic live shows these guys will must over the summer.

You can gear up to see them both London, as Gallops take on the Old Blue Last April 7 alongside Arcane Roots, whilst Three Trapped Tigers are hitting Cargo on the night of their album launch, May 31st (Tall Ships will be in support).

Three Trapped Tigers - Cramm

Gallops - Joust/Eukodol by bloodandbiscuits

Its A Battle Getting This Glossy Ice Cream

After the fears that Battles were no more after Tyondai Braxton walked out to do his own thang last year, it appears that the experimentalists are going to hit 2011 fucking hard. Having recorded the follow-up to 2007's seminal Mirrored with a handful of rock's weirder cohorts - such as Gary Numan, Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead, and the legendary Yamantaka Eye of Boredoms - Gloss Drop promises to be just as top-heavy on insane instrumentation and bizarre yet infectious beats. And first listen 'Ice Cream' is decidedly weird in all the right places - almost like getting 311 to play some beats over the top of a jam session with Deerhoof and Ponytail, with Dave Sitek twisting the knobs in the production room. Skewed doesnt even begin to translate. What does though is that the June release for Gloss Drop is too far away! And they are touring every bloody where over the upcoming 9 months, including a spot of curation for ATP at the end of the year. Saweet!

Ice Cream (Featuring Matias Aguayo) by BATTLES

Thursday 24 March 2011

A Strange Split Adolescence Is Only Natural

Another amazing Scion Garage A/V release, this time a split between The Strange Boys and Natural Child.

The former offers 'American Radio' - four and a half minutes of just about every genre you can think of spliced by a bored commuter dialling through the stations on a lonely pitch black night. Every section is so good - funny, poignant, spot on - in fact you want all of them to be true songs! Its fantastic. Although the fact that they aren't actual songs will probably infuriate quite a few - but I still found it a good listen.

Then Nashville's own Natural Child comes along with 'The Jungle', a track that is far too short. It’s a boozy campfire sing-a-long that foregoes the jock with the Jack Johnson predilection and instead is played by crackheads around a fire in a metal drum. With Back To The Future references.

You'll be able to get this one on Record Store Day - be a good one to add to this ever excellent series.

I Hate Everything About The Bar, Except The Music, The Smoke And The Booze...Siam Reap Style

Cambodia isnt usually where you'd seek out sleek psych-tinged garage rock, but its about time you did so.

OK so Dengue Fever arent technically from Cambodia - they hail from LA, and only lead singer Chhom Nimol is from the Asian nation - but it is clear how much Eastern influences have been infused into every aspect of this bizarre concoction. 'Cement Slippers' has some great girl/boy vocal dynamics and free-form jazz horns, exotic erotica and a beautiful chorus that really hit me like a New Pornographers cast off - its great.

Dengue Fever are releasing Cannibal Courtship on Fantasy Records. Its their 4th record, and heightens the surf swamp soul that they have made their bread and butter. Whats beautiful about this track is just how much fun it is, and that is the exact intended purpose.

Another cool aside - for the upcoming Record Store Day, they are releasing rare vinyl versions of the album, and hidden within five of these will be a special handmade golden ticket that offers access to any show headlined by the band this year! Nice...

And they featured on the soundtrack for Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers - nuff said.

Bringing Back The Love

Wowee Zowee peeps! Sorry about the downlay in musical mayhem here at Planet Masala - its been quiet here due to the ridiculousness in the "real world" (AKA I accidentally maxed out the home Internet fund - sorry Luke and Sal...) Plus searching for work, getting work, getting more work, getting heaps of work, and uni has meant that I was on the cusp of believing I had too many fingers in too many pies. But if there's anything that those cinematic genuises behind American Pie taught me anything - and they taught me a LOT - its that you can NEVER have too many fingers into too many pies - you just combine it all in an orgiastic piefest (I think - maybe if I had caught the fourth and fifth sequels Id understand more...)

SO I am rorting the university by using their sizable Internet access to keep the SM dream alive. And as this has been some time in coming, here are a few tracks for you to sink your teeth into.

First up there is The Raveonettes, whose Sharin Foo is still hands down the hottest woman in rock. It helps that their first EP Whip It On is one of my all time favourite releases EVER. Really. Anyway, their fifth album Raven In The Grave comes out next month on Vice, and if this is anything to go by its going to be another hit, especially after hearing what other member of the due Sune Rose Wagner thought of its genesis:

"I think we have finally hit on something quite important and different for this album. This is the first Raveonettes album we've done which doesn't feature the signature Raveonettes surf drumbeat. None of the tunes have any real sunshine to them. It's all very un-Rave. It has a mood of ethereal defiance. It's dark but not bleak, like the single minded determination caused by crisis that is not quite hope but just as powerful. It's the perfect winter soundtrack just in time for spring."

White Denim are another band with a hotly anticipated album in the wings. Gorilla Vs Bear have named them the best band at SXSW for the fourth consecutive year - a bit of love there mayhaps??? We've already sampled 'Drug' from D here - now try "Anvil Everything"!

One of my favourite finds of last year was Tampa nutjobs Merchandise, whose dark distorted pop has entranced me for some time (check out my thoughts on last year's (Strange Songs) In The Dark LP here). They have just released a 7" on Katorga Records, Schoolyard b/w Graveyard, showcasing an amazing remix of the A-Side which has me even more sweat-lathered. These guys know how to weave a warped rhythm, and with the beats interlaid here they have a bona fide club hit - from the guys responsible for Cult Ritual? Anything's possible...

A band doing amazing things this side of the Equator is The Middle East. The Townsville, Queensland quintet have a cultivated, lush ambient folk sound with the slightest tinge of darkness, and its been going down a treat globally. They are releasing I Want That You Are Always Happy on Spunk Records April 8th, and "Black Death 1349" is off it. (Can you tell this was recorded at Midlake's Denton, Texas studios? Nah, me neither...)

Darlings are a NYC garage pop band whose song "Spit It Out" off EP Warma (out now on Famous Class Records) has been on incessant replay since the SM downtime, so was pretty much a sure thing to be on this lil playlist. Its decidedly heads in the cloud whimsy crossed with Pixies nerd punk, which has helped get me across the line on a few days this past fortnight.

"Zeppole Ben" is off Hello, Nice Evening. We Are The Everymen, an EP by The Everymen (weirdly enough). Its two and a bit minutes that reminded me of why Rocket From The Crypt were great. The rest of the 7" is radness - lots of different genres (with help from Kurt Vile no less!) all infused with cigarettes, sweat and more than a few regrets, readily forgotten...but I like it most when Sarin McHugh is shredding his vocals to next to nothing Buy it here.

Last on the comeback playlist is a band that many have been biting their nails to the quick in anticipation for, Crystal Stilts. Their Alight Of Night was at the very crest of the lo-fi, scuzzy as fuck euphoria of DIY noise pop shenanigans. Now we get to see if the lightning can strike twice, as In Love With Oblivion comes down out of the sky April 12th. Its a Slumberland release, so that will tell you a lot with what to expect... Also, here is the admittedly perfunctory video to accompany the song "Through The Floor"... (Also the Brooklyn band are playing Cargo in London March 30th - although it appears to be sold out!)

Crystal Stilts "Through The Floor" from Slumberland Records on Vimeo

Welcome back...welcome back, welcome back, welcome back...

Friday 11 March 2011

Friday Cover Up - Jim Jones Gets Back

As you can see, its been a busy week of gigs here in lil Brissy, Down Under - and it continues tonight with the Besnard Lakes and Nova Scotia. And with this much excellence, its easy to burn out. So you need some invigorating, gyrating stuff to listen to, like Red Bull and vodka for the ears. Thank you Jim Jones then, for blowing out the cobwebs for this rollicking cover of the Beatles. Im primed for the weekend - you should be too!

Jim Jones Revue - Get Back (Beatles cover)

Dash Those Romantic Jackets

Those fine folks over at Life's Blood have readied a great little release from Dash Jacket, called Romance. The Orange County lo-fi pop is inherent in these tracks, but what takes you away is the catchy pop underpinnings to this scuzzy gems, captured perfectly in opener 'Looking Like Glass' - there is enough heart here that when the explosion of distortion comes in its buoyant rather than ferocious - which is a difficult feat to pull off. Yet Dash Jacket do it, and do it eleven times. There are elements of other DIY darlings such as Meth Teeth or White Fence in here (see 'Till Dawn' for the best example), but in all this is an album that stands up for repeated listens - and the low fidelity actually enhances the performance. Nice work, guys!

Dash Jacket - Looking Like Glass
Dash Jacket - Till Dawn

Lake Of Myriad Canuck Colourings

(photo by Chris Gergley)

Fourth consecutive gig of the week at The Zoo - those guys must be loving the stench of the Masala right about now! - and we have Canadians The Besnard Lakes gracing the stage, supported by Mosman Alder and brilliant local lads Nova Scotia, whose name inadvertantly ties in with the night. This is going to be a lightning show of dense layered textures that provides a near perfect darkness. A darker Arcade Fire with a predilection for dirge, if you will. And trust me - I will...

The Besnard Lakes - ...And This Is What We Call Progress
Nova Scotia - The World Is Not Enough

PS I Love You...Rock!

It is a well known fact that the name that a band chooses will make an indelible mark on the success of said band in many respects. Often the name of the band mirrors the sound that they convey. There are exceptions of course - ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead are not the bludgeoning speed metal act that might first come to mind - but these exceptions generally prove the rule.

Kingston, Ontario’s quick-rising duo, PS I Love You, also fit this role - and it is why its taken me a while to getting around to listening to their brilliant debut album. Meet Me At The Muster Station (is this a play on Murder City Devils' 'Midnight At The Mutter Museum"? God, I hope so...) is a relentless listen that grips and pulls the listener through just under thirty-minutes of squalling Marshall feedback, searing solos, soaring melodies and rock-steady beats. I was struck by the fertile ground these boys get their sound from - think early Wolf Parade or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! The vast majority of these ten tracks are mini-rock anthems - the titular track is a luscious take on Big Audio Dynamite covering 'Born In The USA'; 'Breadends' is tightly coiled a la Japandroids with Paul Saulnier's broken wails wringing every drop of emotion out of maelstrom created by the incessant guitar lines and thundering rhythms. These tracks are incredibly good - forceful yet playful, the hooks well and truly in place to pierce your eardrums and pull you crying and screaming up into their beckoning arms. For all the noise and bluster though, PS I Love You - like the aforementioned Japandroids - have their pop sensibilities well in check, best evidenced on tracks like 'CBEZ' or 'Facelove'. But for all my namedropping here, this duo are very much their own beast. I love this album, and the music on second thought does fit the name. You are hit with all the scuzzy fury of a garage grunge duo, but its the heartfelt infectious songcraft here that lingers. This is a very solid release, one that deserve much more lip service than they have currently garnered, I can tell you!

Meet Me At The Muster Station on April 26th, 2011 on Paper Bag Records (although it came out last year in the US, this is still technically a 2011 release). The band are touring the UK in May, hitting the Lexington on the 5th, whilst also playing The Great Escape festival in Brighton. Make sure you catch them - they are a new shining light.

Listen to the bookends of the album below - believe me, this is just a taster...

PS I Love You - Meet Me At The Muster Station
PS I Love You - Meet Me At The Muster Station (pt 2)

Thursday 10 March 2011

Nonstop Magic With Human Plants

Plant Magic Man doesnt know how to quit, does he? He has the next "re-released" release up on his Bandcamp, Daniel Kaufman's Album (Irate Panda Records are surreptitiously putting these suckers out). Im loving the serialisation tone that these staggered releases are taking on - but am also anxious for them to reach their logical conclusion so that I can finally get my hands on a collected works physical copy! Still, Man (whoever the hell you are) - you're all right...

Plant Magic Man - Green Light

Ponytail Find Having Fun Easy Peasy

The indefatiguable Ponytail have just released a track from the upcoming album Do Whatever You Want All The Time (out on We Are Free). 'Easy Peasy' is just over six minutes of beautifully quirky spazzpop, as only the Baltimore crew know how to do. Its giddy, breezy, intricate, whacked out, and blissfully energising - that obnoxious pink bunny doesnt stand a chance when Molly Siegel and co are champing at the bit to pogo around ad nauseum. Its listening to this though that gives one an uneasy feeling - with a track this good, and a potential killer album just around the corner, will we ever get to see it be played in the live arena? Dustin Wong has been adamant that Ponytail is being put to bed - but we can all hope, right?

Ponytail - Easy Peasy

And get a double dose of the easy peasies, with this very cool music video - Im puttin my shades on...

Ponytail || Easy Peasy from Ray Concepcion on Vimeo

And finally, go visit the We Are Free website - the opening page is pretty funny, yet also optimistic.

Cleaning Up The Zoo

The shit hot conga line of music flowing through Brisbane's perennial rock venue The Zoo continues tonight with New Zealand's premiere purveyors of indie pop The Clean making their first appearance Down Under in almost 20 years. The Flying Nun founding act are supported tonight by the excellent locals Blank Realm (whose album of last year Deja What is pretty bloody special - I will wax lyrical about it in due course) and The Deadnotes & The Legend. Every act on this bill will be exciting to catch, so make sure you get down there! Tickets are still available too, as there's a plethora of acts vying for people's attention in the City tonight, with hipsters Best Coast occupying Woodland, blues maestro Justin Townes Earle at Step Inn, and...ahem...Alan Jackson.

The Clean - Tally Ho

Oh, and The Clean have just come out of the studio, meaning a new album is on its way! Get excited people!

Take Care With Those Trembling Hands!

Its April that we here at SM are waiting for - and not just because of the Easter eggs. Texas gods Explosions In The Sky are releasing their new album Take Care, Take Care, Take Care - and here is the first cut from it! 'Trembling Hands' is short, concise, and a punchier number that has the band in a more buoyant mood than we have ever seen them before. You can preorder the album here - and whilst its always a given to buy the vinyl for these guys (the cover art by Esteban Rey is always breathtaking), the gatefold for this release builds a diorama! Sweet... (Im in 'kid in a candystore' mode right now, losing my shit, losing my shit...)

Explosions In The Sky - Trembling Hands

We Are The Hold Steady

Sorry about the late post here people. The Hold Steady played at the Zoo here in Brisbane last night - I know, whats the point of telling you if its already been? Well I only got my ticket on the door late in the day, and I was also busy with study (after eating pan fried chorizo and watching Black Swan, of course). ANYWAY, it was the first headlining show that The Hold Steady have done in Brisbane - and it was fucking amazing. Craig Finn is the most charismatic guy, his songs a boozy psalms - he even put the ashes from a cigarette on his forehead to mark Ash Wednesday! But is not doing his yearly Lenten duty of kicking the booze - as he is in Brisbane! The band played just about every hit they have and then some. It was crazy good. And I am wholeheartedly converted.

(NB - this post is pretty much for the people who saw the gig last night. My body, mind and soul is still recuperating, as will theirs be. Still, enjoy the two tracks below!)

The Hold Steady - Chips Ahoy
The Hold Steady - The Weekenders

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Damn Terran Spitting Pet Hates

I received this EP in the mail last week. I had never heard of Damn Terran, but their EP Pet Hate intrigued me due to the cover art - a take on Sonic Youth's iconic Goo cover, but with Skippy and a zombified Sonny. The EP itself is 7 slices of post punk fury - the three piece eviscerate with their punchy numbers, all squalls, precariousness and inherent vice. Its a great introduction to the band, even if the overall effect of the release is that although the songs blend into each other by the end, these guys would be amazing live - a must see even. Ive only listened the once too, so Im going back to dip into the murky depths right now...

Damn Terran arent coming up to Brisbane any time soon, although they have a few shows in Melbourne including supporting NZ's Die!Die!Die! as they launch their new album - definitely one show to catch.

Damn Terran - Crowd Control
Damn Terran - Rational Economic Man

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Back In The D With My White Denim

White Denim released a great free album last year, Last Day Of Summer, that had us here at Sonic Masala in a lather. But since then its been relatively quiet...until now.

The forthcoming WD album will be entitled D (out in May), and we also have the first track off it - somewhat appropriately titled 'Drug'. They will be playing SXSW, including being on the mammoth dual Mexican Summer/Gorilla Vs Bear showcase, so it wont be long before they are searing themselves on our collective consciences.

White Denim - Drug

Wavves Flooding The Zoo

Nathan Williams and co. are the first in a veritable whose who (Hold Steady, The Clean, Besnard Lakes) to be taking over the Zoo in Brisbane this week, as Wavves brings their shambolic garage punk shenanigans to town, ably supported by the Bleeding Knees Club. Should still be tix left, so if you want to see a highly unpredictable show - or just need to stock up on rolling papers, or your grinder has hit the dust - then drop on in!

Wavves - Horse Shoes
Wavves - Cool Jumper
Wavves - Mickey Mouse

Straight Arrows Make It Happen

Sydney garage punks Straight Arrows are releasing their world domination mission statement via debut LP It's Happening through Rice Is Nice Records. The album showcases reverb-laden, catchy, fuzzed out punk garage that marries 60s psych pop with 70s dirty garage, and that has attracted shows with the likes of Thee Oh Sees, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, The Black Lips and Jay Reatard (RIP) in the past, and is likely to continue the meteoric rise of this rapscallions. What is a decidedly new 'direction' for the band is getting some semblance of fidelity in their production, as it is occasionally nice to be able to ascertain what is going on in any one song - well, thats my archaic opinion. Anyway, its pretty ace and well worth picking up.

Straight Arrows - Bad Temper
Straight Arrows - Magic Sceptre

Grails Find Themselves In Deep Politics

Portland's purveyors of frontier doom instrumentation Grails are set to release Deep Politics, which is set to further stretch taut the landscapes the band has manufactured (most notably through their Black Tar Prophecies volumes). Their brand of instrumental rock has veered away from the post-metal leanings of Isis and the like, instead marrying the elegant yet rustic stoicism of Morricone with the mystical evangelism of Oriental and far Eastern musicology, and this has never been more prevalent. 'Future Primitive' establishes the album’s template, with ominous strings and a shuddering, chugging, low tuned guitar riff soon joined by spaghetti-Western guitar, all to create a lush yet brooding aural aesthetic that emanates throughout the rest of the record (this is my favourite track here - kinda like the show Deadwood if done with the nuances of Animal Kingdom's David Michod). 'All The Colors Of The Dark' is a fusion jazz rendition of a futuristic, drunk-to-sobering-up Morricone score; the title track is a ethereal slinky number, all gauzy piano, slowly leaking in strings, horns, guitar twang before a drum beat sweeps us off into a brooding 70s closing credits sequence; 'Almost Grew My Hair' is a woozy jam that evokes Black Sabbath playing space cowboys. 'I Led Three Lives' is the longest track here, and the closest to anything that Black Tar Prophecies has produced - a truly cinematic, Pink Floyd meets Tangerine Dream miasma that is electrifying in its gorgeous desolation.

Deep Politics is a great album - the best Grails release to date. It has them finally embracing the various aspects of their collective strengths, overlaying it all with incredibly lush production, and offering up a cinematic sonic feast. Out now on Temporary Residence.

Grails - Future Primitive
Grails - I Led Three Lives

Monday 7 March 2011

Hits From The Box #10 - Devastation For The Nanna-Nation

What a week. Apart from spending most of my waking hours shoved in front of a computer applying for jobs that I dont even want, Ive been yelling at incompetent public sector plebs, mourning the death of The Luminaire, struggling to put Umberto Eco to bed (still), and (due to the combination of unemployment, no money and cabin fever) Ive been walking around, rockin the suburbs, just like Iron Maiden did. But to be honest, it hasnt been too bad, as the week's posts thus far have shown. And Ive just gotten back from visiting my grandmother - she's more sprightly than Ill ever be, and that helps to put things into perspective. Also, she kicked my arse in a family tradition - the annual no holds barred Muay Thai match. Nan may be ailing, but her step up knee strike move is unsurpassed. So, I lick my wounds and give you this week's Hits From The Box...

Breathe Out are the recipients of Art Is Hard Records' fourth release. The London four-piece may laconic slacker pop, not really in a hurry to get anywhere even when the distortion is dialed up into the red, content to make your Dad cry and go parachuting rather than get to the crux of the matter...and why should they? Their lackadaisical tracks on their debut EP are delectable. And as is AIH's way, this release is special - making the EP available as a miniature photozine of photos from the band! (They are also supporting Nodzz in Nottingham March 14th - one not to be missed!!)

Breathe Out - Ride The Waves

Alex Profera is many things - graphic designer, visual artist, breakdancer - and he can add musician to this list, as he releases Antarctican Apathy, his debut EP as Speaking In Tongues. It bears resemblances to Breathe Out in its adherence to indie rock conventions, and like Breathe Out offers a solid set of songs. Have a sample of the opening track below.

Speaking In Tongues - Our Departure

Our next artist takes us into a slightly different direction. Négar Mohktassi was born in Tehran, although has spent most of her childhood in either Abu Dhabi or Canada - and the spectre of war and revolution, as well as the obvious divide created by constant shifts in cultural tradions and geography, have loomed large over her life. This personal tumult has resulted in the release of her first musical endeavour, NeGar, a sultry exploration of her own existence, and the role that a person has in the shifting sands of a repressive human condition. Its beautiful, haunting, and very exciting.

Negar - A Woman

Here's the video for another track from the EP too...

Faceless, Nameless from néGar on Vimeo.

High Wolf are releasing a new 7" through Bathetic Records, A Guide To Healing. Now I dont know much about High Wolf, although the amount of excitement on the web for this release should indicate that I need to rectify this. What Ive gleaned in a very short time is that the artist is French-born, but Jakarta (or as he states, Djarkarta), Indonesia based, and India influenced. He is also the purveyor of astral telepathy-defying psychic aural dervishes, constructions comfort and confound in the same liminal space, simultaneously. Or as the man himself puts it, "This record is like a mental postcard from Varanasi (India). It's probably my favorite place in the whole world, being there is like being on LSD. And if you dive in Ganga water (the purest water on earth according to the hindus, the most polluted and unhealthy according to science), hold your breath and open your ears, this music is what you'll hear." Personally, you dont have to be high to enjoy this, althoughthis is certainly an off-kilter psych release - check out the A-Side and tell us what you think... (I think the Sun Araw-meets Ravi Shankar depictions are apr, but he is striving for much more than this! You can trip out on his other works here.) You'll be able to check him out at SXSW too...)

High Wolf - Free Your Energy Field

Today marks the release of Standard Fare's heavily infectious new single, 'Suitcase' (out on Melodic Records). They are incredibly tight, as always, and here offer up the most disparate juxtaposition yet of their sunny sonics married to much edgier lyricism. 500 copies of this white vinyl 7" exists, with the artwork done by the band, so its a lovely purchase.

Standard Fare - Suitcase by Melodic Records

The Dirty Lungs are from Birmingham, Alabama. They make much use of their name as a tie in to smoking (including their moniker in a Lucky Strike logo). They create psychedelic rock that aims to marry the swampy swagger of southern US rawk with the flailing eargasms of Comets On Fire. Their aspirations are admirable. Their success, imminent. June will see The Dirty Lungs release a single and video, then do a spot of touring. In the meantime, pick up their EP, Deregulate Your Heart. Play it impossibly loud (I cant stress that part enough), get a fever of 103, then go to the doctor - he will promptly tell you to lose your shit, which you will, and an epiphany will be reached - and you will never be the same.

The Dirty Lungs - DD Reg Reg

Happy Sunday/Monday!