Saturday 30 April 2011

Getting Vaguely Naked On This Twelfth Sacred Noon Of Darkness

Aussie twisted children Naked On The Vague have been busy smearing the world with their hallucinatory faeces for some time now, and we are knee deep in a new defecation, their purported soundtrack to a short film, 12 Dark Noons, which has been funded in part by Sacred Bones and Night People Records. From all intents and purposes we can ascertain that it is going to be tripped up to the eyeballs in weird psych imagery and Jodorowsky-esqu surrealistic flourishes - but what of the music?

To be honest, I reckon Twelve Dark Noons is the best that the Sydney wasters have ever sounded. There is so much energy here that hasnt been evident before - it really feels like the band are growing out of their deliberate slacker addict personas (it is a persona right???) and embracing the fact that together they are amazing songsmiths, scultping vistas of industrial sound and time-travelling gloom that no one else is able or willing to create.

As for the film? No idea, but check out the trailer and see for yourself. The music is stand alone, but im desparate to see how the film builds it up...

Naked On The Vague - The Gift
Naked On The Vague - Clock of 12's

Friday 29 April 2011

Friday Cover Up - Royal Fuck Ups

Jesus! Its taken them a long fucking time, but finally that inbred twat and his "common" ladyfriend are hitched to the hilt. Yeah yeah yeah, maybe they ARE nice people, but I dont give a shit - Im just glad we can go back to revelling in our own shitty lives in peace now.

Actually, the royal wedding wasnt all bad. It made me realise that most royalists are stake-worthy, and that my life is infinitely better than being a toff that has to drink tea from bone china and do "charity work". Or be the "bad boy" who is constantly chastised just because you might be a rabble rouser. Or have red hair. Or be the illegitimate offspring of an ill-advised tryst. Whatever - living in my hovel doesn't seem so bad anymore...

But finally, it also has me rocking out to this gem. Why? Well, even though its pretty close to the original, its still good, and it had me thinking... Im just hoping that we dont have a like mother like son situation where Will starts employing a paranoid drunkard as his chauffeur...what do you mean, too soon?

Deftones - Drive (The Cars cover)

Skull Eyes Are The Best Sign Of A True Widow

Its taken me some time (and a hell of a lot of harrassment - thanks Kyle!), but finally Im posting about True Widow. The self described "stonegazers" from Dallas are prepping their album As High As The Highest Heavens And From The Center To The Circumference Of The Earth to release on May 2nd Via Kemado Records.

I hate to ride on another blog's coattails, but Stereogum called True Widow's sound a heavier Low or a slightly speedier, Southern take on ’90s NYC slowcore stalwarts Codeine - and holy shit if that doesn't nail this album. Opener 'Jackyl' is the template of the album as a whole - crunchy, doom-laden, funereal riffs, slow deliberate basslines, eloquently driven drumming and and the dream weaving vocals of Dan Phillips and Nicole Estill. Its hypnotic and darkly beautiful - perfectly illustrated on single 'Skull Eyes' - like Warpaint if they disappeared further down the rabbit hole and ended up in a dystopian Louisiana backwater, with their only drinking buddies being a one-eyed Alan Sparhawk and the dudes from Women and Pelican. Whilst such a jam session sounds too ridiculous for words, True Widow are doing their best to make that fantasy sound their reality. Epic stuff.

True Widow - Skull Eyes

Pure Xtacy

When we started this mess of a thing called Sonic Masala, Paul was gushing over this woozy Austin band called Pure Ecstasy. Now we havent always seen eye to eye - thats the beauty of true music fans, and this blog was created to collaborate on debate about our 'loves' - but this one was one we were both firmly on the same plain with. Check out some songs of theirs here and here - hell, here's some more!

But we haven't spoken about them for a while, and whilst many things stay the same, there is one notable difference. They have changed their name, the bastards! They will now forever be known as Pure X. And to herald this shift in non de plume, they are re-releasing one of their early 7″ singles, You're In It Now (now in an extended version), in 12″ EP format from the Ac├ęphale and Light Lodge labels. This is all well and good - its a great EP - but there is more to be excited about. There’s one previously unreleased song buried in the middle, 'Back Where I Began.' Its fucking beautiful, seriously. My favourite song of the week by FAR!

One final piece of info (and this is the best part) is that this leads up to a highly necessary full length appropriately named Pleasure. But until then - listen to the below tracks and float away in ecstasy. Nate Grace, you are a dreampop genius - thank God you're back...

Pure X - Back Where I Began
Pure X - You're In It Now

Black Angels Wake With The Phosgene Sweats

Texan psych rockers The Black Angels are busy busy busy! If touring the world in the wake of 3rd album Phosphene Dream and curating and playing in the 4th Austin Psych Fest this weekend isnt enough, a couple of weeks ago they dropped a limited edition 10”vinyl B-Sides collection titled Phosgene Nightmare on Blue Horizon Records in support of Record Store Day. Only 5000 copies of the record were made available. As it is a sneaky way of adding an epilogue to Phosphene Dream, its more than just a curio or a collectible, as the 6 tracks are pretty damn sweet. Supposedly these songs focus on the more poisonous side to life, yet I think it melds perfectly with everything the Black Angels have done in the past, and augers well for the future (especially the ephemeral swagger of dark swampy 70s stalker 'Ronettes'...)

The Black Angels - Ronettes

Expect Real Pain Supernova With No Anchor

Last year Flingco Sound System put out a sampler of bands on their roster, one of which was no Anchor. Their song 'Wolves Bite And Disappear' killed, and Ive been hankering for some of their joint ever since.

now, not only do they hail from my hometown of Brisbane, Australia, but on the 9th of May 2011, No Anchor hope to release their new album Real Pain Supernova. They would LOVE to guarantee that this album will be released but there are no guarantees in this world. None. The band could all die mysteriously between now and the 9th of May. They could all take up dice living and just decide not to do the band ever again. Things happen. The apocalypse might happen, you never know. They could all be dead by the time you read this.

But if not, enjoy this raw, apocalyptic album - hey maybe this will be the harbinger of things to come? It was mastered for vinyl by Mell Dettmer [Boris, Earth and Sunn O)))] and will be available in s 2 x LP format from the band's website (and their bandcamp). When was the last time an Aussie band fucked with double vinyl? Almost all of the album packaging is hand made by the abrasive trio and their screenprinting buddy Matt Deasy. There are only 150 copies of these all up, 25 of whcih will include deluxe versions (AKA extra shit like shirts and woodcuts). THERE WILL BE NO CDs - they are as dead as Diana! However, a free/donation digital version of the album will be available online on the 9th of May 2011 here, which you can stream now below! Unless, that is, something bad happens. And it might.

If you havent picked up on this already, Real Pain Supernova is out May 9 (and look at the artwork! Stellar...) No Anchor will launch the sucker on May 13 alongside Undead Apes and Dreamtime at Brisbane's Woodland venue.

No Anchor - Wolves Bite And Disappear

Thursday 28 April 2011

Long Time Since Clowning Around With Satan - But The Wait In Vegas Is Over

I have to say that I absolutely loved Death in Vegas' 2002 LP Scorpio Rising when it first came out - in fact I still think its an amazing album. The band has always strived to jump in as many spots as once though, and even though their immediate follow-up, Satan's Circus was a pretty good album, I felt that veering away from guest vocalists took away some of the charm that they had held for me in the beginning.

Well, the UK electronic psych duo arent giving much away about their 2011 release Trans-Love Energies, but we do have our first taste with 'Enforced Peace'. You can grab this track for free at their website - or you can just listen below. I personally like it, although am not sure on its longevity...still, as always, im interested to see what Mr Maguire and Mr Holmes bring to the table this time around...

Enforced Peace by Death In Vegas

Grandpa Was A Lion, And Moby Was A Dick

Justin D'Onofrio, otherwise known as Grandpa Was A Lion, hasnt been sitting idle since we spoke last. He has been writing like crazy the past month, and whilst the track names are all still works in progress, the title of the upcoming album stands as So Long, Moby Dick. He is aiming for a US summer release, and on the strength of these at times amiable, at others woozily melancholic delicate numbers, it will be a special package to behold... Check out his Bandcamp here.

And here is one for you to sample! Enjoy... (UPDATE - 'Booty Call' won't make the cut of the album, so consider this an exclusive!)

Grandpa Was A Lion - Booty Call

Weed Diamond RIP

Last year I got pretty excited about a release out of Bridgetown Records by Denver band Weed Diamond called Carry On + Sweater Kids, an amalgamation of their last two EPS. I even included it in my personal top ten albums for 2010. However things have been ultra quiet on their front, and I have recently got the news - Weed Diamond are no more, burning out ultra fast in less than two years. Bridgetown Records founder Kevin Greenspon received the affirmative on this when talking to Tim from the band earlier this month. Whilst this is sad news for lovers of no-fi garage popsters everywhere, not all is lost. Two projects that were borne outside of Weed Diamond - guitarist JT's solo stuff as Junior Low, and Michael's band School Knights- are still about, making music. In fact this may be a godsend - with both of these acts showing as much if not more promise than their predecessor, we might see a more concerted effort to produce material from this end.

Weed Diamond - RIP.

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

School Knights - Bullies
Junior Low - Bloodlust

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Police Academy 6 End The Siege And Float Away

Police Academy 6 (or as their myspace has them, Police Academy 666 - either way its a fucking rad name) are releasing their self-titled debut on AMDISCS. The warped synths are fully in place, but thanks to a multitude of guests (including Top Girls, Lester Brown and Raw Moans) and an insidious determination to stick to their woozy synth trips, Police Academy 6 actually defies my expectations - that is, its pretty damn nice.

Police Academy 6 - Wanting Something
Police Academy 6 - The Chills (ft. Raw Moans)

Splitting With Illness Gives You Dyslexia

Kick arse dynamic duo Illness brought out a 7" recently alongside noisy Brighton brethren Fat Bicth.Its a bit late in coming, but thought it worthy of coverage, as both tracks are pretty killer, so here they are, in all their disreputable glory!

You The User by Illness

Thee Oh Sees Prepare To Take On Dracula In 2D Side Scrolling Action...

It's been some time since Thee Oh Sees released Warm Slime on In The Red, almost a year I think, and it was the true album to put me onto these guys - well that and their incendiary live shows! They were destined to play in Brisbane in January but the floods thwarted them... nevertheless there is good news on the horizon for those who have missed their fix of aberrant psych garage fucked upedness, as they've finally announced plans for two new releases in the next six months. Look out for Castlemania (currently my favourite album title of the year, and possibly ever) on In The Red June 14 and something else that, according to John Dwyer is "maybe our best yet," out in the second half of 2011.

Castlemania will supposedly be the most studio-arranged and layered recording from Thee Oh Sees to date - something that is esxciting and frightening in equal measures!

They are also touring Europe in May and June, stopping off at London's Tufnell Park Dome on May 26 - sweet!

Thee Oh Sees - Crushed Glass

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Video Vacuum - Dylan Ettinger, Squarehead, Pet Scenes, Bright Spark Destroyer, Elias Krantz

Having holidays is almost unparalleled in awesomeness. It is the absolute opposite to the spectrum of returning to work after a holiday. So after the highs that signified the past five days, we find ourselves hurtling towards the spiky nadir that is our first day back - looking wistfully at the sun outside knowing our boss will be telling us to fill in some form that no one understands or needs in a few nondescript hours - or something just as inane. Good times. What better way to get over the doldrums then than some great music accompanied by great moving images?

First one out of the gates is Dylan Ettinger, whose myriad releases over the last year or two is hard to fathom. Yet here he is again, with a new 7" out on Not Not Fun, called Lion Of Judah. The video takes note in the artistic endeavours of Caravaggio, yet for art ignoramuses it is just a solid video for a track that should help push Ettinger further out into the slipstream - hopefully, anyway...

Dylan Ettinger - Lion Of Judah from Not Not Fun on Vimeo.

Irish troublemakers Squarehead aim to open up their record account through Richter Collective later this year (who are also fronting the amazing new And So I Watch You From Afar record...), but are hitting us now with their single 'Midnight Enchilada'. The video for this track is decidedly silly, involving hipsters playing golf and a rabid discarded Sesame Street character, but I really like it, especially on a day like today (and they finish by drinking pints of Guinness! Cant beat that...)

Squarehead 'Midnight Enchilada' from Rupert Morris on Vimeo.

We have spoken about London miscreants Pet Scenes a few times over the past few months - they have already showcased an excellent bodybuilding based video here, and there are a few others we havent shown if you search Youtube - and they bring us the next chapter in their gradual undoing of the time-space continuum. It is a black and white warped close up of a mouth singing this song. Nothing ingenious, sure - but the song is a ball tearer, nice mixture of grunge and stoner dirge, and it really blows out the cobwebs...

Here's another London act, yet I am still unsure of whether Bright Spark Destroyer are a great band or not. One thing I am sure of is how cool their video is for single 'The Shortest Distance'. The single comes out next Monday (May 2nd). If you like what you hear here and live in London, they are playing The Monarch tonight - definitely go check em out...

Finally we have Sweden's Elias Krantz. He has come across the Hits From The Box radar before for his track 'Watussi' - now he has another great track out and an added video to boot. The track is called 'Tody Motmot', and the video features headless musicians - nice. The track comes off Night Ice, his album due out late May.

Elias Krantz - Tody Motmot from NIGHT ICE on Vimeo

Now get back to work!

Monday 25 April 2011

Those Balkans Are Still Troubled

Im really looking forward to this release...

On May 10th, Balkans will release their new debut self-titled album on Double Phantom Records(Carnivores, Roman Photos, Mood Rings). Counting Bradford "The Deerhunter" Cox amongst their local fans, the Atlanta based band quickly impressed themselves on the local scene before releasing several 7″ singles that showed off their palette of musical influences including pop, punk, garage, 60s surf rock and shoegaze.

We have already sampled from the album with 'Edita V' here - 'Troubled and Done' is the second single. There is enough energy and invention fizzing off these guys to set fire to your stained Y-fronts.

Sunday 24 April 2011

Hits From The Box #16 - What The Easter Bunny Really Brings...

So this is Easter huh? Its smack bang in the middle of a five day holiday, so I definitely cant complain. Spending my mornings sleeping, my evening drinking, and the in betweens playing it by ear. The fact that the vast majority of this 'playing it by ear' business includes my parents isnt dampening my spirits - rather, it makes the sleeping and drinking more worthwhile. Bless their cotton socks...

And even if Easter is about fertility, eating chocolate eggs and celebrating a gifted activist who has turned into a zombie, it doesnt hurt to give, so here is this week's Hits From The Box! And instead of the usual six-pack of delicacies, Ive thrown in an extra one for good measure! Don't guts out on it all at once now...

The Graceful Slicks are a five piece psychedelic/shoegaze/surf band out of Oxford. They have a few tracks floating about that reminded me a bit of The Archie Bronson Outift before they turned an acrid smelling shit. Which, funnily enough, is a good thing, because early ABO was awesome. I look forward to seeing what they have up their sleeve for the rest of the year...

The Graceful Slicks - Bul Bul Tarang

We mentioned a couple of releases fromOregon-based label Inner Islands last yearby the likes of gkfoes vjgoaf and River Spirit Dragon (check out what we thought here). Well they have another up their sleeve, this time by Inner Islands creator Braden J McKenna a.k.a WYLD WYZYRDS. Free Magick isn't the first WYLD WYZRDZ release - they are quite prolific - but this one is out on vinyl in a week's time, and the guys are pretty stoked with the results - as they should be. Three tracks of undulating drone beauty. It's up now on bandcamp if you wanna check it out too.

WYLD WYZRDZ - Forest Light

San Diego's The Glass Canoe was formed in spring of 2009, spending a little over two years writing and molding demos which would eventually become their debut album, Chimera. The music displayed on the album focuses heavily on melody and atmosphere, hence earning its genre moniker as "psychedelic pop", which is the closest you will get to categorising this new yet constantly transforming act. Check out The Glass Canoe on Bandcamp too.

The Glass Canoe - First Ideas

Sound Mass is the new collaborative album by Texan sonic marauders My Education and Theta Naught, a Utah based improvisational collective. The energy and experimentation that these two acts have brought together is a powerful one that has already garnered enough attention to be picked up as the support for Maserati, provided a full performance at SXSW this year and be on the Austin Psych Fest bill (closing out the bill too, performing after Roky Erickson no less!). This is well worth one - nay, many - listens...

My Education/Theta Naught - Communion

With a name like Cat Matador, I was not expecting much from the band's new EP The Address (put out by Beard Museum Records). Then noting they come from Oxford, I was a little intrigued. After the first listen I was won over. The Address is the edgy shoegaze quintet's second release, and a much more assured effort. The press release offers up various touchstones (The XX, British Sea Power, Wolf Parade), but to be honest I hear more substance on these tracks than a definitive coattail-riding style. Make up your own mind...

Cat Matador - The Address

Rome Pays Off is the new band for the founding members of seminal ambient drone collective Rothko, and they are launching debut album There's No Simple Explanation onto the world. Recording for the first time since 1999, Mark Beazley (who is also putting the album out under his own label Trace Recordings) and Crawford Blair went into the studio without any material, only knowing that their explorations into the ambient instrumental atmosphere that have been occupied by the likes of Brian Eno and Slint in the past were far from finished. As for the song titles (all are numbered Song One to Song Thirteen, but not in sequential order), Beazley claims that they were named as they recorded them in sequence. "So, Song Eleven was the eleventh track we recorded, and Song Eight was the eighth track and so on. We dropped Song Two, and there was never a Song Twelve. We thought there was, but there wasn't, so we went from Song Eleven to Song Thirteen!" There really isn't a simple explanation then. However, one thing is certain - Rome Pays Off offer dark, warped soundscapes that lurk in the ether, yet rather than menace they haunt, encapsulating a ghostly elegance. Its a intriguing listen, and one that inexplicably reels you in time and again...

Rome Pays Off - Song Eleven

Finally, I inadvertantly soaked up my housemate's download quota last week when streaming the latest album by Louisville, Kentucky band The Fervor, Arise, Great Warrior. Often known for theirunpretentious rock 'n' roll replete with eerie, ambient guitar riffs and soul-laid-bare vocals of gut wrenching intensity, The Fervor evokes the likes of contemporaries Heartless Bastards and My Morning Jacket. Speaking of, MMJ frontman Jim James put out Arise, Great Warrior on his own label, which is two pronged in its appeal - they know their way around a mean Americana jam, and vocalist Natalie Felker has the strong-yet-vulnerable delivery of the likes of Cat Power or Heartless Bastards' own Erika Wennerstrom down pat. This is a good album, and with this pedigree deserves much wider praise.

The Fervor - Let's Get Loaded

Happy Easter Sunday!

Saturday 23 April 2011

Disassembling The Blues

I cant profess to know much about Dan Melchior. I know he's been around the traps for a long time, has worked with the likes of Holly Golightly and more famously Billy Childish, and as a band of his own (Dan Melchior's Broken Revue). Jack White and Mark E Smith are amongst his eclectic fans. So Im not sure what made me get Assemblage Blues. I hadnt heard one track by the man. Maybe it was the interesting cover. More likely it was the fact that it was put out by Siltbreeze, one of the best and bravest labels out there. Either way, im glad I did. Sure, its warped, but the storytelling and noisemongering go hand in hand, providing tales that are both obtuse, whimsical and hallucinatory. Hell, there's even one here called 'Stairway To Croydon'! And another, 'Moving The Furniture Around', is the same phrase that someone recently used to describe what the film genre mumblecore was all about. Its definitely experimental garage psych flights of fancy, but without the elongated jams - and this definitive voice has really impressed me.

Assemblage Blues is out now.
Dan Melchior - Atomiser
Dan Melchior - Riding Like Rommel
Dan Melchior - 90s Man (pt. 2)

Friday 22 April 2011

Friday Cover Up..Becca Does It For Her Girls (Except Kate Middleton...)

Wow, the royal wedding is almost upon us. Now Will and Kate are probably great people, but really - who gives a shit, right? Except for the above kicks, which pretty much own...

Ive probably annoyed half the readership, but for the two of you who can't give one eight of a fuck about an archaic symbol of imperial decimation, then Ill probably piss you off anyway with this, today's Friday Cover Up...

Becca Stevens is a New York-based singer, composer and instrumentalist whose debut for Sunnyside Records Weightless came out on Tuesday. In addition to eight original compositions, the album features interpretations of songs by Iron & Wine, Seal, and the Smiths. Most importantly, she has also covered Animal Collective's 'My Girls' from 2009's Merriweather Post Pavilion. Its a generally folky number, but I think its a nice cover and ticks the boxes that Paul set down what seems like eons ago - that it take on all the goodness of the original and yet do enough to make it in turn an original song.

Or you could think it sucks worse than a prostitute's baby's pacifier.

Either way, Im gonna hang in the sun with booze at my disposal, listen to some amazing toons, and preferably not be within a sniper rifle's range of a pro-royal. So do whatever you want, really. See you on Sunday with some Easter goodies!

Becca Stevens - My Girls (Animal Collective cover)

Take Care Of Falling Explosions

I think You all know what Im going to say about the new Explosions In The Sky album, evocatively titled Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. "Yeah yeah yeah, obligatory grovelling, wild gesticulations, self-flagellations and degradations aside, there is nothing special there. The guy is an Explosions... tragic, therefore the album is shitter than a haemorrhoid after a daily diet of Cajun chicken".

Ok, so you think Im biased? Yes, it is true, I do worship at the altar of this Texan instrumental band. but have you ever heard anything as sublime as this band? Nothing can create the full gamut of emotions through sound that this band can. And this album, whilst not necessarily reinventing their own wheel, offers greater scope upon which their emotive atmospherics can be adorned. The most differing track of theirs here would have to be 'Trembling Hands', with the synth adding a further sense of urgency to what is also close to their shortest track ever committed to tape. But it is when they explore the paradigms of their sonic boundaries that they truly soar.

Actually, you know what? You are all right - I am far too biased to give the best objective review of this, or any, album by this band. There isnt a single track of theirs that has ever disappointed me, and the new album proves this rule. Im listening to album for months now - it has taken all my willpower not to gush all over this site about it til now - and it still gets to me. Best band ever? Quite possibly...

Take Care, Take Care, Take Care comes out next week through Temporary Residence.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Cults Will Abduct You

I still cant get over how big Cults are becoming. There's no doubting how addictive their songs are - I heard 'Go Outside' on the radio yesterday and forgot how evilly infectious that little beggar is - and the biggest hit post on Sonic Masala has been my post about their upcoming shows in London. The blog wasteland is also awash with gushing Cultophiles. Its culminated in the duo of Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin being one of the most watched at SXSW, the likes of Vogue, New York Times and Spin (among others) declaring them one of the bands of the summer, and their debut, self-titled LP – released on May 30 on In The Name Of and Columbia – becoming one of the most hotly anticipated releases of the year.

New single 'Abducted', a gloriously compact song which packs a considerable punch in under three minutes. It’s a track which builds beautifully and unexpectedly from a hushed intro to an absolute belter of a chorus, with Madeline singing, “He tore me apart ‘cause I really loved him/ Took it all away and left me to bleed out, bleed out”, expertly meshing a sinister undertow of dark, twisted love with bright, instantly infectious melodies in a way that only Cults know how to do. Its enthralling, bewitching stuff, yet another tantalising teaser from the Cults album and just another reason why they will undoubtedly justify all the hype.

Furthermore, Cults once again grace London's stages, this time in a much bigger venue (Scala) May 24th amid doing both the Great Escape and the Dot To Dot festivals. Start reaching for the Kool-Aid...

Cults - Abducted by cultscultscults

I Have Seen The Light Light

On Tuesday I mentioned that Kevin Greenspon had a new cassette out through Hi Shadow Records. Well, its not the only worthy release that has just come out from the label, with an epic album by Light Light, Shapes Of Clouds/Photograph, seriously impressing me. Capturing the entire back catalogue of tracks Light Light have put to tape since 2007, its an expansive, generally fuzzy yet well executed slab of existential feedback, meandering guitar, soul wrenching vocals and ethereal emanations throughout. There are only 50 copies of this available as far as I can tell, so its well worth getting yourself a copy...

Light Light - A Brief Memory Of Snow (from Sounds Of Clouds)
Light Light - Seabreeze Theme (from Photograph)

Blood Pressure Will Kill You Dead

Perennial swampy sleazy bluesers The Kills have come at us in 2011 with another album, Blood Pressures. 'Future Starts Slow' is the perfect opener and indicator that despite the various goings-ons in the dynamic duo's life outside the band, that when Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart lock horns, dirty magic happens. Its brooding beauty only hints at what's in store though, for when 'Satellite' comes out at you it will lure you in and do all sorts of depraved lustful things to you, with or without your consent. It is possibly the best number the band have put down yet, and clearly demonstrates both Mosshart's journey with Jack White as The Dead Weather and Hince's disturbing audacity at warping particular blues tropes. There is slinkiness in tracks such as 'Nail In My Coffin' and 'You Don't Own The Road' that comes from their expansion of sound denoted in last album Midnight Boom, whilst 'DNA' and 'Baby Says' delves even further back into their oeuvre, yet never going back into the muck that highlighted first release Keep On your Mean Side. However it is the softer centre of things that really evokes the new maturity of this demonic duo - 'Wild Charms' and 'The Last Goodbye' offering simple arrangements and naked vocal accoutrements from both of these anti-heroes.

There seems to be a lot of haters on this record recently - but dont read into that. Blood Pressures is the best thing The Kills have done yet, and they are deserved of any and all praise, adulation and idolatry that their wicked charms enamours out of us.

Blood Pressures is out now through Domino Records.

The Kills - Satellite

Wednesday 20 April 2011

The French Bookies Have Henryspenncer At Short Odds

Got these two albums from the fine folks over at the newly minted French label Bookmaker Records. They aim is to support and promote worldwide artists that freely create a personal, original and "generous" psychedelic/folk/heavy/atmospheric/melodic drone music. Bordering genres and bordering worlds, Bookmaker intends to fill some kind of gap in underground psych music, especially in France where nobody has actively eked out an existence on these interplanetary plains (well, not that SM can ascertain...).

The first two releases both involve French one-man sonic goliath Henryspenncer. To The Timeless Valley is his second album, and it offers the confrontation of windy psych with heavy industrial and cosmic vibes, that invites you to an endless travel in imaginary deserts. Its exactly what we here on Planet Masala salivate over.

Then there is the split LP between Henryspenncer and likeminded solo English project Among The Bones. The tracks here offer up a more tribal approach to the drone genre, somewhere between Ennio Morricone and Earth, with some shoegaze/ambient influences fleshing out the result.

Each of these excellent releases are available from the Bookmaker website - each one in edition of 150, on heavy cardboard digifile + insert card + printed CD. I would prefer if you bought this, but, Valentin, Thomas and Clement assure me that they just want this excellent music out into the collective consciousness, so you lucky devils can also get the full albums here and here for free! Oh, what a day it is to be a fan of dystopian drone...

Henryspenncer - An Elevator To Nowhere, With A Pyramid (from To The Timeless Valley)
Among The Bones - Pyramid Of Sacrifice (from henryspenner/Among The Bones)

Girlfriends hid Their Kids In The Cave

Ive got a lot of 7" and split talk to come over the next few weeks due to the radness that surrounds Record Store Day (although here in Brisbane we didnt get a lot of the sweet rare stuff, it was still good to get out and feel the vinyl love!).

First up is Boston's Girlfriends, who although their 7" Cave Kids/Eat Around The Bad Parts wasnt a RSD exclusive, its sales have picked up over the past week or so - as it should. The A side is decidedly swinging lo-fi garage sunniness, yet its familiarity belies the innate poppy catchiness of the track. And the production errs on the right side of fuzziness, meaning that the vocals are clearer whilst the instrumentation (including that twanging guitar solo) remains sepia-toned. Its a fantastic track, ably supported by 'Eat Around The Bad Parts', a more punk rock affair which sees them embracing 90s indie before they amble off into the hypercoloured sunset at the end.

Girlfriends - Cave Kids

Girlfriends - "Eat Around the Bad Parts" from THETAMAX EEG on Vimeo.

Crystal Stilts Are In Love With Oblivion

A quick one here on the new Crystal Stilts album. I might be one of the few people that didn't love Alight Of Night - I liked it, sure, but I couldnt understand the avid devotion. But I have to say that after a few listens In Love With Oblivion resonates. I feel that it's on tracks such as 'Through The Floor', 'Sycamore Trees' and 'Alien Rivers' that the dark strung out nature of the band's musical MO rises above, melding with Brad Hargett's monotone vocals to create a set of songs that embrace the dirtier side of pop. Admittedly the production values have been brushed up a bit, and there are other aberrations from the CS norm, especially in the sprawling psych tinged jam that is 'Alien Rivers'. But overall this menage-a-trois of swampy dirge, hipsterfied disdain and adherence to pop aesthetics really works.

You can by the album through Slumberland Records here.

Crystal Stilts - Through The Floor
Crystal Stilts - Shake The Shackles

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Kevin Greenspon Ads Seg?

There is no stopping him, is there? Kevin Greenspon (he of Bridgetown Records) has another cassette out, this time through Hi Shadow Records. Called Ad Seg, it is another one of his glorious guitar explorations, allowing you to melt away amongst the sonics and forget about the atoms that make up your form, instead becoming one with the air. It is also a nice sounding production to as far as these cassette recordings go - keep an eye on Hi Shadow Records for sure...

Kevin Greenspon - Coincide 12.E

To Be A Civilian Of Wye Oak...

Baltimore indie powerhouse Wye Oak released their LP Civilian a little while back, and its one that Ive been enamoured with for some time. It fits into the Heartless Bastards mold of heartfelt and emotive yet rolling thunder rock that the best alt-rock-folk-whatever aficionados harness and make their own. Furthermore, also like Heartless Bastards, Wye Oak is fronted by a woman with a hauntingly beautiful smoky voice - Jenn Wasner. Now Ive seen Heartless Bastards, and I wear the shit out of their shirt, and they are fantastic. Wye Oak sound like they can do the same thing - yet with only half the staff, as Wasner is joined only by Andy Stack on drums/keyboards. This actually heightens my love for Civilian.

Now I know that Wye Oak are playing in London at Hoxton Bar and Grill on June 16. But if you can, go to the Bowery Ballroom in NYC on May 22nd for a concert showcasing Dinosaur Jr's music, with the likes of Wye Oak, Tune-Yards, Titus Andronicus, Delicate Steve, Ted Leo, Dirty Projectors and Dan Deacon all getting involved. There are always great collaborations, but this one takes the fucking cake. Get there!

Wye Oak - Two Small Deaths
Wye Oak - Civilian

Young Widows Crawl Out Of The Light And Into The Youthful Darkness

I will solemnly swear on a stack of Necronomicons that discordant Louisville Kentucky noise rockers Young Widows’ last album, 2008’s Old Wounds, was one of the most underrated rock albums of the last decade, showcasing a band willing to infuse their incessant squalls of distortion and dark angst with moody gaps and silences that most bands of their ilk are unable or unwilling to procure. I can't believe how little fanfare these guys get. They destroy, then resurrect so that they can kill again. They are a canny band, offering rock that cajoles as it bludgeons, sliding along in the darkness, seductive yet destructive. And they make the Apocalypse seem sexy.

Their follow up LP, In And Out Of Youth And Lightness (out on Temporary Residence, also about to drop Explosions In The Sky's new one - nice way to go guys!!) heightens the trio’s penchant for traversing the tightrope that separates the dark dirge of sludge rock from the dangerous sexuality of desert rock, yet does so in such a manner that is often jaw-dropping. The unrelenting crawl through In And Out Of Lightness explodes to a call and response ending that wouldn’t be remiss on a more psych tinged effort, whilst Lean On The Ghost’s repetitive broiling thunder perfectly encapsulates the themes of isolation and loneliness. First single Future Heart is as close as a straight up rock song as Young Widows gets – its rollicking and dark and addictive, and close to the weakest track here. Evan Patterson’s impassioned growl perfectly captures the brooding nature of lyrics such as “Seal up the cracks in my voice then swallow the pity like rain/To avoid the black cloud” from The Muted Man, while the brutality is always wavering, barely reined in, by bassist Nick Thieneman and drummer Jeremy McMonigle.

In And Out… is an album of constant doom and dirges – there aren’t many light moments here at all. But as the re-emergence of the excellent Swans last year attested, darkness is often far more exciting and liberating than the light. Young Widows take up the dark mantle perfectly. Seriously, get this if you want to know how to live.

In And Out Of Youth And Lightness is out now. The artwork is, as usual, brilliant. And what's more, you lucky devils over in the US get to see them live next month - with support from their BFF's (and SM mega faves of death) My Disco! If you dont go to this show, you're dead to me. Dead.

Young Widows - Future Heart

Young Widows - In And Out Of Lightness

Monday 18 April 2011

Trashing The Dream

After my interview with the guys of Lil Daggers last week, I was thinking of some of the bands that I have come to love solely from their contacting me for the blog, otherwise I wouldnt be privy to their existence - an enviable position to be in for sure! Lil Daggers, Dead Meat, Civil Civic and Mr Dream are the first bands that jump out at me. And it seems that all of these bands are movin and shakin, which is mega rad of death.

But Im not here to talk about all of these bands, only one. I really like Mr Dream (dont believe me? Read here, here and here...). Whats not to love about a growling, sardonic, thrashy rock band that take their name from a character out of NES's Knockout? Nothing, that's what. And they have had their debut album, Trash Hit (through God Mode) for a little while now - and it is fantastic, better than I imagined it would be from their small releases throughout last year. They play within a number of genres, but also with the stereotypical tropes that fits a band aping their mentors - 'Walter' and 'Winners' are Black Francis vs Steve Albini naked armwrestles with David Yow adjudicating; 'Holy Name' may as well be the Pixies covering Nirvana covering the Pixies; or in the case of 'Crime', showing up contemporaries such as Japandroids in how to rock, whilst spitting out laugh out loud lines with wanton abandon. In fact, even 'Knick Knack' has sounds that evoke the likes of The Kinks and KC & The Sunshine Band (WTF?). The amazing part here though isnt that much of this is tongue in cheek - which it most certainly is - but that it is done with such verve, proficiency and dedication. These songs could come off as alt-rock's version of Me First and the Gimme Gimme's - instead we have a band that embraces its roots, puts it in a headlock, gently jabs them in the ribs then, arms interlinked, skip off to the pub to get plastered together whilst listening to the Misfits on the jukebox, and fuck everyone who thinks differently. How this works, Ive got no idea - how many bands do this sound nowadays? Its fun, loud, but above all sounds new - now that is a remarkable feat indeed...

Trash Hit is out now. Mr Dream will be supporting CSS and Sleigh Bells in the US this May - which is stupid really, because they are gonna slay all and sundry!

Mr Dream - Holy Name
Mr Dream - Scarred For Life
Mr Dream - Unfinished Business

Another Bruise Rises From The Cruise

The amazing idea that was the Bruise Cruise - a floating festival from Florida to the Bahamas with the likes of Thee Oh Sees, Black Lips and Ty Segall on board - went off without a hitch last month. The group behind it (including cruise director Ian Svenonius, the guy behind The Nation Of Ulysses and Chain and the Gang) put out a 7" split with most of the bands getting involved. The first one had Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees (read our review here), and Ive just got my sweaty palms on the second volume. This one is split between Jacuzzi Boys and Vivian Girls - Boys and Girls, hand in hand - and it is just as killer. 'Your Flags' is Jacuzzi Boys at their... The other volumes include Turbo Bats and Quintron & The Pussycat, and Black Lips w/ The Strange Boys (although their contribution, 'American Radio', we have already covered as it is on a separate release with Natural Child).

Jacuzzi Boys - Your Flags

Jack White Lets Tyvek Out Of Their Cage

Whilst it may be sad for some (well, most) music lovers that the White Stripes hung up their red outfits, it has meant that main man Jack White can focus on his many other musical endeavours. The self confessed music addict has been throwing himself into his Third Man Records in Nashville, coming up with ingenious ways to further the resurgent love of vinyl and make purchasing music an exciting prospect again. The added bonus of this avid love of the game is the Live At Third Man series, whereby different artists and bands do instore performances with Jack White producing the results in a simple yet cool black sleeve. Past recipients have included Nobunny, The 5 6 7 8's, Reggie Watt and Conan O'Brien (yes, THAT Conan). But my personal fave has to be Tyvek's performance recorded on the 27th of September last year. The performance perfectly captures the intensity of their live reputation. Its 17 tracks of balls to the wall fast paced punk fury, full of vitriol, vigour and more than a little fun, and helps to highlight just how underrated last year's Nothing Fits really was. Sure, the comparisons to Black Flag and their ilk are obvious, but the truth is that Tyvek create short sharp stabs at the jugular with an alarming rate of success. These songs are addictive, Tyvek are amazing, and White is a cracked genius.

You can purchase the live 12" here.

Tyvek - Frustration Rock (live at Third Man)
Tyvek - 4312 (live at Third Man)

Sunday 17 April 2011

Time To Fall In Love With The New Vikings

Dancer Equired is the new album by those scuzzy lo-fi rockers from Columbus Ohio, Times New Viking. I still remember the only time Ive seen these guys live well - as the support act to Los Campesinos! back in December 2008, they, alongside No Age, totally blew the headliners away. Their fuzzy releases disguise just how great they are live, yet with their upcoming album being put out by Matador expect things to change...well, just a little bit. They are still as steeped in old sounds and as awesome as always, and the track 'Ever Falling In Love' proves this!

Times New Viking - Ever Falling In Love

Saturday 16 April 2011

Interview - Lil Daggers

Miami psych playas Lil Daggers were one of the first bands to contact Sonic Masala in its infancy to flog their wares. As we are the No Junk Mail kind of chaps we told them to fuck off and take their Gideon's Bible with them. But they persisted, we relented, and our collective minds were suitably blown. Since then Lil Daggers have prepped their debut album, Lil Daggers, and the sucka came out on Tuesday. Its mega rad of death - and I thought Id wax lyrical with the guys so they could say as much.

SONIC MASALA - First of all, congrats on the imminent release of your debut album! How has reception been for the new material thus far?

LIL DAGGERS - It's been pretty great, excuse the cliche, but I guess this is what it means when a band's sound matures. I feel this is our most collaborative effort to date, and there's a representation of each of us in almost every track.

SM - How has the experience of recording this album differed from the recordings you’ve put out in the past?

LD - We took more time to do it, and we had a better plan as far as what we wanted the record to sound like in terms of production.

SM - Much has been made of the organ. Ive heard from different sources that the organ makes your sound garage psych, or that you are the garage Doors (this one made me laugh pretty hard). Whats the genesis behind the organ and how does it figure in the composition of your music?

LD - Well, Reuben has an organ, and the rest of us wanted him to be in the band. Things just kind of happen with us, we're not really the pre-meditating types.

SM - Simple haha! From the few tracks Ive had from you guys over the past eighteen or so months there’s a real electric vibe you pick up on that seems transferrable to the live performance – that in fact the studio releases and the live stage versions would not be too dissimilar. Do you record what you play live, or will there be any ‘bells and whistles’ surprises when we hear the album?

LD - For the exception of a few guitar and vocal layers, there's not much difference between how we record and how we perform our songs. Maybe we play them a bit harder and faster live.

SM - You come from Miami, an area whose music scene certainly isn’t globally heralded like other parts of the US. What can you tell us about the Miami music scene that you feel makes it an exciting place to be a part of? Are there any local bands that you think encapsulate “the Miami sound”?

LD - Miami is a new city, 30 years ago there was nothing here. So the music scene here is very young. Also its a city made up mostly of people who fled their countries in search of money, so unless money-making is involved there's not much support for youth culture. A lot of good bands never get the exposure they deserve, and not too many options when it comes to venues. It's gotten so much better though, which is exciting. As far as bands go, Miami and South Florida in general have an amazing roster right now, Beings, The Jameses, Love Handles, just to name a few examples.

SM - You’ve had some interesting support slots in recent times, including one show last month alongside Jacuzzi Boys and Jeff The Brotherhood. How has the touring been going, and what have been the highlights?

LD - Touring went great, obviously there are ups and downs but overall it was a good time. Chicago and New York were such good shows, we always have a great time in the big cities.

SM - So far we’ve heard ‘Slave Exchange’ from the new album, and its pretty killer. The organ is definitely prominent on this one. Is it indicative of what to expect from the rest of the long player?

LD - The LP has a good amount of variety in it, I don't think any two songs sound too alike. The organ is present throughout most of the album, but not constantly. There are some bangers and some downers in there too.

SM - How do you think you fit into the garage rock movement? Do you feel you fit in? are there other bands doing what they do that you feel a real affinity for?

LD - That's a hard question because we're still a relatively young band, and I'm not sure we fit in anywhere yet, but there are plenty of bands we like out there: Brown Ghosts, Jeff The Brotherhood, The Growlers, Nerve City. All keeping music evil, too.

SM - Fuck yeah, Nerve City!!! So what does 2011 have in store for you guys then? Do you have other projects in the wings?

LD - We're thinking of recording another single before the year ends, and hopefully put out a video or two. Eagle (Lil Daggers' drummer) also plays in a psychedelic funk outfit called Psychic Mirrors, I'm sure they'll be a making a splash once their single is out in a few months.

SM - We here at Sonic Masala love our music, but as is evident from the name we also love our food – what would you say is Lil Daggers’ trademark food of choice?

LD - Bandeja Paisa, a Colombian meat feast on a platter. Look it up.

SM - Will do! Finally – what is sonic masala?

LD - The sound of a pretty girl's lip smacking after applying and spreading on her lipstick.

Mmm, sassytime! Lil Daggers is out now through Livid Records.

Lil Daggers - Past Due
Lil Daggers - Slave Exchange