Saturday 30 June 2012

Denver Trappings

I'm gearing up for this evening's Sonic Masala Presents End Of Financial Year Party - and for whatever reason I'm sitting on my balcony drinking Western Australian beer and listening to country. Not the gee-up most people want and need - and I will be putting on Tiny Spiders and the excellent Lantern record (through Bathetic) in a mo - but there is something about the single 'The Way It Is' by "ramshackle all-star country band" Denver that has me in a warmy, gauzy glow. Based in Portland, Denver features members of Blitzen Trapper and Alela Diane’s Wild Divine, has three chief songwriters (Birger Olsen, Mike Elias, Tom Bevitori) exchanging lead vocals, all adding up to an air of drunken wistfulness leading itself to drunken camaraderie and back-slapping at the bar. It is incredibly hard to bottle something as universal and communal as that - yet this track does that for me. I could even see myself donning a Stetson and heading to the local saloon - well, I do have the checked shirts for it...

Denver - The Way It Is

Scaring Friends Til The Spectre Gets Its Fill

Last year I was a pretty big fan of Toronto degenerates Pow Wows and their Nightmare Soda LP (check out what I thought here). While we wait for something new on that front, Pow Wows guitarist Jay Share-It has given us this - Scare Your Friends, a cassette of demo sessions he recorded under the moniker Fill Spectre. The crazy thing about this isn't that it is good - that was a given in my opinion, despite some of the songs really struggling against the DIY tracking limitations - but how disparate these fourteen songs are, and how well it all holds up. Swinging in genre focus from incessant Cramps love to mordant lo-fi folk to garage swagger to industrial 80s industrial New Wave, Share-It manages to inexplicably hang it all together. This is worthy of a proper release, not just a 99 (count em...) personally made cassette roll out. Nevertheless, word on the street is that he is putting a band together to tour the songs. Great news indeed. But until then - come here and get yourself a tape. It's worth every penny.

Fill Spectre - Homesick Party Kids
Fill Spectre - Good To Be Bad
Fill Spectre - Mr Money

Tuffing Out The Wild Desires

King Tuff has had a pretty big first half of 2012. First of all they sold out their Wild Desire 7" on Suicide Squeeze, whose title track slays in so many ways. Kyle Thomas's vocals are perfectly laconic, his guitar solo is insanely awesome, and he manages to capture elements of 60s Kinks, 70s Clash and T-Rex, throw it all into a reverent blender and spew forth one of the best singles of the year. The crazy thing is that he doesn't blow his wad here - Wild Desire is only foreplay.

King Tuff - Wild Desire

King Tuff, his second LP after 2008's Was Dead and first for Sub Pop, is overflowing with charm, charisma and riffs that it's hard not to throw out all other albums and mold this permanently to the turntable. This is distilled garage pop brilliance, albeit with a better guitarist than usual at the helm, yet the solos (and there are a few - all amazing) never overshadow the innate positivity that emanates from Thomas throughout the recording. Sometimes it may have benefited from a bit more edge and bite to take away from the giddiness felt throughout - but then that never hampered last year's excellent album Goodbye Bread from SF god Ty Segall, did it? Also, has an amazing cover sleeve. Always an attractor...

King Tuff is out now on Sub Pop. This too is hard to get on vinyl - it's been selling better than even Sub Pop predicted - but you can still grab it (also in a bundle with the excellent bat logo T-shirt) here.

King Tuff - Bad Thing
King Tuff - Keep On Movin'

Sssailing Away On Crystal Shipsss...

Jacob Faurholt is the man behind the warped lo-fi meanderings of Crystal Shipsss, and his first longplayer under the moniker Yay is one that buries under your skin effortlessly. With most tracks under two minutes, it would be fair to think that these songs are a little undercooked or throwaway - au contraire, it has me wondering why three minutes is the quintessential length for a successful pop song. The Danish producer is based in Berlin and has supported the likes of Efterklang, Grizzly Bear, and The Black Heart Procession in Europe, so his talent is recognised, yet on Yay I get a sense that Faurholt is taking things up a notch. There is something fragile and passionate in these songs - the haunting lilt of 'My Dark Slimy Soul', the misty-eyed nostalgia of 'Smile', the slowburning tension of 'Crystal Lipsss' - that makes them relatable, and inherently infectious. Faurholt states that his friends in Montreal were making music as their living, which changed his outlook on the medium, and in 2010 began writing these songs only when motivated and without over-thinking things - just letting it happen when the need arose. Such aspersions are eveident throughout and have helped to inform some beautiful compositions. Faurholt's high-pitched wavering vocals may take some people out of the frame at first, but persevere for there are some incredible tracks here. In the same vein of Beach Fossils and Hanoi Janes as far as lo-fi aspirations, albeit in a quirkier vein, Crystal Shipsss is a project that we all should keep an eye on.

Yay is out now (on sweet mint-green 10" vinyl too) through Raw Onion Records and Three Ring Records. Grab it here.

Crystal Shipsss - Uh Huh
Crystal Shipsss - Crystal Lipsss
Crystal Shipsss - Burning Kingdom

Friday 29 June 2012

Friday Cover Up - Double Lives Crumble In One Fell Swoop

Because I missed last week, here are two excellent covers to round out a full on week. First we have this dark and morose cover of The Cars' 'Double Life' by typically dark and morose LA heathens Cold Showers. It features the Vivian Girls' Katy Goodman lurking in the background, and can be found on the Decay 7" out now through Art Fag - buy it here.

Cold Showers - Double Life (The Cars cover)

Sarah Chadwick has stepped away from Batrider for a bit to do some solo work - you can hear some other tracks on her Bandcamp - and this cover of Chris Knox's 'One Fell Swoop' is bloody ace. She can do no wrong in my eyes. She is bringing out a release called Eating For Two in August on Brisbane's fine Bedroom Suck label - I'll keep an eye out for that one, as should you.

Have a good weekend folks!

Video Vacuum - Future Of The Left, King Khan & The Shrines, Regents, Fear Of Men

It's been a shitty week to be on holidays. But all I've been up to is writing, editing, watching movies (Win Win and The Revenant were two pretty ace films) and TV shows (The Walking Dead, Being Human - the UK one, Boardwalk Empire), interviewing and (surprisingly) exercising, so it hasn't been too bad. But Im heading out into the last semblance of sunshine we may have for a while, and I want to give you drones at work something to hold onto. So here are four great vids for four great tracks. Enjoy!

It's sad to say that I'm not yet sold on the new Future Of The Left album The Plot Against Common Sense, although I have only heard it once so need to give it more time. Nevertheless, I always enjoy some Falco nonsense, and it goes without saying that his explanation of the video for single 'I Am The Least Of Your Problems' is full of it:

"[The video] is about a dual or split personality. We wanted something claustrophobic and full of movement, but most specifically, something that would weed out the epileptics in the audience. In all seriousness, I have an undue fascination with strobe lighting, much to my bandmates' extreme displeasure. When I was in college I bought a small one for 'personal use' and used to sit in my room writing songs to its largely similar patterns. They were great, if slightly disorientating, days."

Another dude up for a laugh is King Khan, here backed by the Shrines for 'Bite My Tongue', and this film clip is one of the funniest I've seen in ages. A bizarre homage to the 60s Batman television show and wholly religiously irreverent, it's worth watching just for the jogger in the park.

Now to get gritty. Washington's Regents have finally got a video for their great track 'Cinder Machine' (which you can still buy via Lovitt Records here), directed by the band’s singer/guitarist Drew Ringo, showcasing photographs that he had taken of 350 boarded up residences in Baltimore. The concept speaks to the housing crisis in the US.

Finally we have this ultra low budget offering for Brighton band Fear Of Men's 'Green Sea', the 7" of which came out on Sexbeat Records last week. It was made for 15 quid in one of the band members' flat. It's a woozy VHS effort, and I love it.


Sonic Masala End Of Financial Party Profiles #4 & #5 - Motherfucking Morgan Freeman & DJ Micronations

So this is tomorrow. One more sleep. Or you can go no sleep. I won't endorse it, because your body is gonna get pummelled by the likes of mnttaB, Gravel Samwidge and Bottlecock. But also these cretins, Motherfucking Morgan Freeman. Starting out as We Are Librarians and delving in more bedroom pop, sample heavy meandering ambience, this duo have beefed up their intent and decided to play actual shows for once. Their last show was also a Sonic Masala slamdunk, and they were beautifully shambolic, some noisy pop in all the right places. Expect more of the same tomorrow night. It could be one of the last chances you will get to see this band as is, and it would be a shame to put such a killer moniker to bed just yet without some fanfare. I don't have any sonics to lay out for you - just trust me that they are good.

And providing the mortar that will bind the whole night together is DJ Micronations, who will be leaving his beautiful Anonymeye persona at home and bringing the bling, showering you all with tunes of dubious monetary cred. It's at the Waiting Room from 8pm, just bring a crisp $10 bill and whatever liquor is your poison. See you there!

Thursday 28 June 2012

Gnod On The Wire Past The 5th Sun

Salford's best exponents of dark, dank, dirty psych drone (and funniest bastard alive Stewart Lee's fave band) Gnod have two recent releases of note that are damned (and killer).

First of all, we have Chaudelande Volume 2 which came out a few months ago on Tamed Records. The followup to Chaudelande Volume 1 (strangely...), this three track release is one tripped out motorik trip into the netherworld and back, guaranteed to tear a fraction of your soul away in the process. The grooves inherent in this album are insane - I never expected Gnod to reach these heady heights. I personally love 'Man On The Wire' (why didn't this soundtrack some portion of Kill List? Or maybe The Wicker Tree - that film mightn't have been such a dire disappointment otherwise...) and 'Entrance', but 'Genocider' is beautifully unrelenting also. They are so on song here that it is scary. You must get this - seriously.

Gnod - Man On The Wire

Then to make things interesting, along comes brilliantly destructive Irish label Trensmat (who have also put out sweet one-offs by the likes of White Hills, Evan Caminiti, Expo '70 and Cave) and and drops 5th Sun, a delectable slice of Gnodisms that works as a symmetrical trip into an exploding star. The flip side is '5th Dub', the closest these dark alchemists will ever get to being Massive Attack (and it's still solar systems in comparison). You can grab that one here.

Gnod - 5th Sun

One of the most underrated psych bands out there. Get on board.

New Guardian Alien Via Thrill Jockey!!!

I really enjoyed Brooklyn psych droners Guardian Alien's self-titled LP on Swill Children Records (check out what I thought here). So it was very exciting news to hear that one of my fave all time labels Thrill Jockey had taken on these space cowboys who include Greg Fox (ex-Liturgy, one of the best drummers alive). Appears we don't have long to wait for a new release either. July 24 will see the launch of See The World Given To A One Love Entity, a 37 minute track that swirls in and around the most mainstream elements of the psych rock jam and stretches its contours until it is entirely unrecognisable yet inexplicably accessible as a result. It's these kind of experimental endeavours - wild and weird yet strangely listenable at an enjoyable level - that slay me, and this looks to be up there as one of the best warped rides of the year.

Pre-order now and you can get your vinyl in clear gold - I kid you not. Do it, now.

Guardian Alien - See The World Given To A One Love Entity (Part 1)

Cursing Psychic Blood By Seasons

It wasn't all that long ago that I was raving about Western Massachusetts band Psychic Blood's three track EP Strain. Some anonymous bystander immediately slung me their debut longplayer, Autumn Curses (whoever you are, you are radness personified!), and I've been listening to it intermittently ever since.

Unfortunately for me it doesn't quite live up to the expectations laid on by the EP, but that is also because the EP was three songs in length. At this point in time there is a similarity throughout Psychic Blood's sound that runs the risk of repetition - the same squalling guitar line seems to trickle through a brace of these tracks. There are many touchstones to the first And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead album here also, which is amazing and it still kills due to its lo-fi production and aggressive approach, as well as echoes of Conrad Keeley's vocal delivery - which depending how you look at it equals ten tracks of emulating brilliance, or ten tracks of varying degrees of 'Richter Scale Madness.' Not all tracks blend into each other - the ambience of 'Roving Mind' and the slow down harmonics of 'Here Is No Truth' offer other swatches of depth to the mix.

Autumn Curses (out on Feeble Minds Records/Damage Mailorder - grab the cassette here) is still a solid album, with some killer tracks on there that help to augment the effectiveness of this trio as a brutal live force. It's not all there as a rounded album though. Psychic Blood are a band to be fully supported though, and with their next recordings having Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth) is in the recording seat, I'm salivating already.

Psychic Blood - Annihilator
Psychic Blood - Here Is No Truth
Psychic Blood - War Paint

Falling In Love In The Slaughterhouse

I'm a little concerned about the extreme levels of "appreciation" I have for Ty Segall. Seriously, I came to the San Franciscan's world through 2010's Melted, went back to the beginning, then rolled right through - and there isn't anything I haven't disliked, and a lot of which I love to death. T-Rex covers? White Fence collabs? Contributions to small labels? Playing with Sic Alps? I've even had the pleasure of interviewing AND meeting him, twice. Jesus wept.

Now we have Slaughterhouse, his first foray as Ty Segall Band (featuring another awesome SF garage demon, Mikal Cronin). It is the most frenetic, balls-out release he has put to tape, which he has readily admitted as this was his "heavy metal record". And it is amazing. It is unabashed, shamelessly pedal down raucous rock n roll, written by incredibly gifted musicians who love the craft. It is, above all else, fun - there are amazing harmonies on tracks like 'I Bought My Eyes' and 'Tell Me What's Inside Your Heart' - and proves that it isn't necessary to record in a dumpster to be "authentic". I goddamn love this record - and you too, Ty.

Slaughterhouse is out through In The Red - definitely buy this! I'm positive that another record is just around the corner too (and he's about to start touring the States with Thee Oh Sees, who also have a new album on the way), so let the man-love continue!

Ty Segall Band - Mary Ann
Ty Segall Band - Wave Goodbye
Ty Segall Band - I Bought My Eyes

Sonic Masala End Of Financial Year Party Profile #3 - Bottlecock

Two more sleeps until the greatest 2012 end of financial year party ever, and Bottlecock are raring to rip into it. The local trio are steeped in grunge's afterbirth, sounding like early Magic Dirt yet with even more heroin. They have an elongated song that lovers of punchy grunge music hate, but I love. They are a sight to behold. They are some of the loveliest people Ive ever met, although they look like (and probably will) punch you in the face because you are wearing a Nirvana T-shirt. They just played in Melbourne last weekend with Penguins, another amazing noisy racket of a bunch, but also mnttaB - so they are primed for destruction. Above all else, they will melt your face off and give it to you in a Pablo Picasso Paster of Paris mould. That's worth $10 in itself.

Check out the deets to the Sonic Masala part-A here. Here is a funny write up about mnttaB from Nite Fields/Lost Race Records' Danny Venzin for website The Thousands. If that doesn't get you hot and bothered - then we just ain't compatible.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Get Past Broncho's Lips

Oklahoma outfit Broncho have built a hefty reputation on sloppy, sleazy, heady, heavy garage punk, and their debut LP Can't Get Past The Lips is a true lithmus test of their grit and determination. They come up trumps - 20+ minutes, of chugging swagger and disdain with a twinkle in the eye, it's dirty enough without dulling the edges, it's serrated without cutting the skin, it's drunken without vomiting in the hallway (well, almost...). It's hard to believe that this diseased yet very alive organism started out as a one man entity - chief architect and skittish leadman Ryan Lindsey. I've liked Broncho for some time, and this LP cements their status as strong firebrands in the upper echelon of the modern garage rock movement, mainly because as bassist Johnathon Ford puts it: “It’s not nostalgia, it’s natural.”

Can't Get Past The Lips is out now through Guestroom Records. You can grab this nihilistic beauty here.

Broncho - Losers
Broncho - Try Me Out Sometime

Don't Steal The Beardy Durfs Ponce's Lunch Box

I love it when you open up the inbox and before you have to start wading through all the remixes, bad hip-hop and terribly written PR pieces, the first email inadvertantly floors you. This is what The Beardy Durfs' 7" Lunch Box/Ponce did to me. The Danish duo (seriously, Copenhagen's scene seems so disparate and incredible awesome!) are channelling no wave into makeshift pop compositions, then are extrapolated or truncated on a whim. 'Lunch Box' is a delectable slice of raucous garage noise-pop, whilst 'Ponce' is a lysergic jam into a bleached-white wilderness. Digital-only track 'Dead Poncho' is pure noise abandon, the kind of pop single Times New Viking or Japandroids might put out if collaborated with motorik annihilators A Place To Bury Strangers. This cacophonous ear orgasm is achieved via modified guitar pedals, homemade amplifiers, broken guitars and a seriously trashed drum kit built in the former East Germany. I seriously enjoy this 7". These are the kind of tracks I want to hear when I wake up people! (Actually, I want to hear them all day long. Keep it coming dudes).

You can get Lunch Box/Ponce from Pad & Pen Records.

Echo Lake's Beautifully Wild Peace (Vale Peter Hayes)

A short, bittersweet post. The excellent London dream pop band Echo Lake finally bring forth their debut record Wild Peace on Slumberland Records, and it's the best release the label has put out thus far this year. The beautiful symmetry of dense guitar noise and precise rhythms with the vocals of Linda Jarvis adds up to a bewitching listen from beginning to end. You can grab Wild Peace here, and have a listen to two tracks from the album below. While supplies last there are LPs on limited edition white vinyl, with an optional bundle that combines the white vinyl LP with a poster, a sticker, 2 badges and a sporty Echo Lake tote bag. Sweet - get in fast!!

Unfortunately it comes with sad tidings, as drummer Peter Hayes passed away on Monday at the tender age of 25 from complications from a long-term illness. Best wishes go out to Hayes' family, friends and bandmates at this incredibly difficult time. You can read an appreciation, and make a donation to a memorial fund here, whilst the band's statement about/to Hayes can be read here.

Sonic Masala End Of Financial Year Party Profile #2 - Gravel Samwidge

Marching out the bands from this Saturday's Sonic Masala show, and next up on the catwalk made out of crumbling Deutschmarks we have Gravel Samwidge. Led by the affably irascible Mark Spinks, the band have been around since 1989 when they formed in Sydney and shook the shitcan with the likes of Lubricated Goat, Munroe's Fur, King Snake Roost, and Tex Perkin's Butcher Shop before relocating to Melbourne in 1990, where there dirty grind garnered palying time with the brilliant Venom P Stinger. In 1995 they won a Triple J Unearthed competition, which helped them to actually put some shit out, but not make money - if they had it they would burn it just to keep warm. But seeing as they didnt have money for warmth, they relocated to Brisbane in 2001. In 2009 they came out of a six year orgiastic hiatus to shoot everyone in the ear with their debut LP Nonchalance (through Turkeyneck Records). And whilst these outsider dirgemongers may have put out a "retrospective" in the form of The Old Tapes last year, they are launching new material in 2012 in just another public display of infernal domination. For the best trick the 'Samwidge ever pulled was making people believe they didn't exist...

Combined with mnttab founder dik's connections when playing with Bastard Kestrel (they toured with Killdozer. KILLDOZER!!!), we have a wealth of experience on our hands to help bring about a monetary Armageddon. Get keen - it is this Saturday, with Bottlecock, Motherfucking Morgan Freeman and DJ Micronations all offering their wares! Try out this demo recording to indicate where they are kinda at now...

The Slack Habits Of Darts

Triple J does a hell of a lot wrong, but does a lot right too, including the leg-ups it gives to young bands. The best example has been the Unearthed series which has spawned success stories such as Grinspoon down to the recent Stonefield. One band that you may not be overly aware of is Darts (formerly The Darts), some indie-punk skids from Melbourne. They were unearthed in 2009, played Groovin The Moo, and are about to launch their debut LP Habitual Slack next month. Not all the tracks work - I haven't worked out why yet, but despite the Isaac Brock delivery, 'Daughter' really, REALLY grates on me - but the unhinged howl from Angus Ayres on 'Killer On The Tracks' and 'Damaskus II' combine with some tight musicianship to present something pretty exciting.

Habitual Slack will be out in July. Here's a taste of what to expect.

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Gravy Khan Do It With Broadswords

Crazy Norwich based three piece Khan have been burning the countryside up with their take on raucous angular rock. Their self-titled 7" of last year (which the below 'Judgement' is from) was pretty awesome, but they look to have upped the ante considerably on latest 7" BROADSWORDS B/W EVERYMAN (out July 16 through Gravy Records). To sate your thirst until then, here is another track from those sessions also, 'Tribesmen.' Don't thank me all at once...

Khan - Tribesmen
Khan - Judgement


Matt Valentine and Erika Elder are the kind of rustic Americana nymphs that will always be playing music whilst ensconsed in the earth from whence they came - no matter how warped that music may become. As MV & EE, the duo have managed to simultaneously evoked a languid style of neo-folk rock wizardry whilst crafting deceptively lithe musical arrangements - looking laidback, but always on the ball. On their latest LP Space Homestead the magic continues. The atmospheric opener 'Heart Like Barbara Steel' is more like Mark McGuire/Emeralds ambience territory, before breaking into the woozy folk of 'Workingman's Smile', the reverb-heavy and C&W-in-sepia 'Sweet Sure Gone' and the ethereal 'Moment'. As always it isn't so straightforward, and the haunted blues of 'Shit's Creek', the lagorous guitar solo on 'Too Far To See' and the cathartic sprawl of 'Wasteland' show their psychedelic hand in full glory. It's a strangely alluring album, much like the couple themselves, and is likely to grab you gently but firmly and lead you into the woods, never to be seen again.

You can grab Space Homestead (out through Woodsist) here.

MV & EE- Workingman's Smile
MV & EE - Wasteland

Sonic Masala End Of Financial Year Party Profile #1 - mnttaB

Only four sleeps until the next Sonic Masala party - and it's gonna be a end of financial year hoedown like none have seem before! With irascible rabblerousers Gravel Samwidge, uber laconic pit dwellers Bottlecock and lichen-growing hybrid enthusiasts Motherfucking Morgan Freeman unleashing all kinds of fiscal knowledge from their instruments, and DJ Micronations plying the Dow Jones commentary with the requisite monetary musical mixes, it's going to be hard to maintain control of bodily movement, function and spending.

But it gets better/worse, as taking up top billing is none other than Melbourne's master of musical mayhem mnttaB (pronounced Mount Tab). Otherwise known as Dik (Bastard Kestrel/S:Bahn), mnttaB focuses solely on brewing a glorious mess of tortured rhythms, deconstructed synth-punk and lo-fi yelling. It has evolved/devolved since the Shiny Stones and Miracles EP I spoke about in 2010 here, which is evident on new mini-release Rocky 4, 2 & 3. Head over to his Bandcamp to collect some slices of digital abrasion and buffoonery. I can't promise you will like it - which means you probably will.

mnttaB - Rocky 4, 2 and 3
mnttaB - Hollywood Nights

Sandcastle Made Out Of Rock

I received this in the mail last week from small Melbourne label Nutritional Content, and it goddamn rules. The three track EP is from young psych punks Sandcastle, and it has been on constant rotation here on Planet Masala. The four piece already inhabit a comfortable discordant cocoon despite being an incredibly new and green band, which is even more exciting. These three tracks often sprawl with laconic disdain, yet never feel flabby - tis raucous garage guitar punk we have here people. 'Warriors' is feverish in its intensity, with singer Max Posthoorn's voice mixing between a nonchalant drawl to a Tourettes-ish yelp without a moment's notice. It disappears into a psychedelic cave of ominous echoes and fades before offering a disease-ridden release in the final third that is truly cathartic. 'Red Lights' is much more post-punk oriented, morphing from Joy Division monochrome to MC5 breakdown abandon without so much as a howdoyoudo, whilst brilliant 'Ice-Cream Treat' sprawls out across 8 1/2 minutes, and not a second is wasted - in fact out of the three tracks, I wish this one went on forever. This is crazy good stuff - I'll be doing all I can to drag them up Brisbane way for a gig or two in the near future.

Sandcastle will hopefully hit the shelves in late July - sign me up.

Sandcastle - Warriors
Sandcastle - Ice-Cream Treat

Monday 25 June 2012

Hits From The Box #53 - TWO WEEKS

Today is the beginning of two weeks' holiday for me. Im not heading anywhere. Im glued to the couch, watching TV shows and films I need to catch up on (just watched both Bad Lieutenant films to kick it all off), reading books Ive had on the shelf since before English was invented, playing "old school" PS2 games (Splinter Cell collective, here I come), and talking about music to you guys. Because this is the kind of thing that kills it for me. Well, travelling to awesome places are great and all, but after ten weeks of killer lessons, my Masters degree and illness, Im happy to go into self-induced least until I go to see Supersuckers' Eddie Spaghetti on Thursday, at least. But I'd never leave you out in the cold! So here is another icy cold six pack from the box to get you nice and toasted.

I'm gonna kick off proceedings nice and slow with Paris-London pan-European folk collective Balthazar B and the Beatitudes. They have just released their debut record I Am The Tide, and it's a solid effort, swinging from blues growl, gypsy jitter and folk eloquence. I threw it on on Saturday when I had a splitter of a headache due to finishing work, my Masters degree and a thousand Polish beers, and it went down a treat. You can grab it here - you can also grab 'Hold On To Me' and 'The Greatest Story' (which has a bit of Broken Social Scene to its opening quarter) for free.

Tennessee's Dire Con are not good for a hangover. Instead these gritty tracks are all about hard southern living, strained through a roughly hewn grunge sieve (think of Violent Soho covering Incesticide on 'Miss Patty' for example). El Deth Recordings (who put out COP's excellent Urgency record) helped put this sucker out, and whilst a little too much like its Seattle forebears at times, there are some tracks such as 'Pills' and 'Wasted Youth' that offers enough light and originality to proffer repeated listens.

Dire Con - Pills
Dire Con - Wasted Youth

With a name like Panther Ray, I was expecting serrated, snotty garage punk or some such variation. Instead I got this Minnesota . Parallel Motions is their LP, and it is a weird hybrid of experimental sound compositions ('Soar', 'Color Tilt'), lo-fi pop thrown into a battered wood chipper (the great 'Water Towers', Deerhunter-esque 'Burning Palms', the Beatles on heroin 'Memory Bank'), with the occassional burst of rock licking at the corners. Actually reminds me a fair bit of Meth Teeth, although not as emaciated and rusted out - which fares well for the quartet. I really like this record, and reckon that such loopy multi-instrumental energy would be electric live. Do yourself a massive favour and grab Parallel Motions here.

Panther Ray - Stalemate
Panther Ray - The Bottom Down

Let's keep rolling on the left-of-centre angle here with Alan Watts. Their EP ...Is The Fantasy Band is...well, different. 'Africa Bats' offers bat screeches, incoherent dronal vocals, distorted synth and a swirling shoegaze guitar that comes off decidedly early Animal Collective, whilst 'Lee's Child' holds a bit more relevance to the shoegaze moevement that first brought the group together. On that, I'll let the trio speak for themselves...

"In a year, Alan Watts shifted shapes three times. We were founded in the basement of Party Expo (Bushwick) last spring, on a strict diet of industrial shoegaze ("Thank You, Spectral Void" EP). By fall we were consumed with finding the communal meeting point of glossy rave and the ghosts of No New York ("Post-Fantasy").
For the recording of ...Is The Fantasy Band, we ventured from bong-ripped basement chaos to a more ecstatic set of sounds: crate dug beats, ΓΌber bass, trance guitar, howling angels, and the casio funk, all of which were wrapped up and recorded live at Shea Stadium on one night last November. We would like to thank the years 1913 and 2016, and the letters P and F. Peace to boom bap and Pizza the Hut. Ghosts in the machine are real."

Fair dues. You can get ...Is The Fantasy Band here.

Alan Watts - Africa Bats
Alan Watts - Lee's Child

Now for some dreamy fuzzed out guitar pop from Dublin, or more specifically September Girls (a spelling correction from the excellent Big Star track, I presume?). The quintet (Caoimhe, Jessie, Lauren, Paula & Sarah) love their 60s touchstones, reverb tsunamis and drum explosions, wrapping it all in trademark class. Their Wanting More cassette sold out in days, but there is a seven inch on its way coming out on Soft Power Records which is well worth getting ready for. The title track is the better of the two, musically and production wise, and gives a honest indication that they are the real deal. What with Girls Names coming out of the Emerald Isle also, Ireland is kicking serious goals in this genre of the musical void.

September Girls - Wanting More

I'll end today on Brooklyn-based duo Lushes. 'Harsh' is their first track proper, and I can't get it out of my head, partly due to the production by Bachelorette (aka Annabel Alpers) and mixing by Adam Cooke (Beach House, Double Dagger), two class acts, but the track itself holds real resonance, and promises so much more. Apparently their other tracks are more complex/experimental, so if this is their "mainstream" track we are in for a treat. They have a record in the wings that will hopefully see the light of day by the end of the year. Don't take just my word for it - they recently played a show opposite a veritable who's who of great 2012 acts such as Dope Body, Guardian Alien and Roomrunner (ex-Double Dagger drummer Denny Bowen's band). Lushes, ay? I'll drink to that.

Lushes - Harsh

Happy Monday!

In The Glow Of Arbor Lights

Arbor Lights are an instrumental four-piece from Birmingham, England. They brought out a five track self titled EP (with great cover arearlier in the year which is pretty good, with some real cracks in their opening and closing tracks. There are elements of And So I Watch You From Afar, some Explosions In The Sky, and the young quartet pull it all off.

You can grab Arbor Lights here.

Arbor Lights - El Aborlito
Arbor Lights - Codat)

Sonic Youth By Any Other Name Still Sounds As Sweet

Want the best solution to overcoming a Death March Monday? I have it.

The biggest news to come out of the weekend was the unveiling of the first track recorded by Thurston Moore's new band, Chelsea Light Moving. It's a six minute number called 'Burroughs', and it is close enough to the Sonic Youth we know and love that, combined with Lee Ranaldo's solo outings, makes it a little easier to know that the New York gods haven't left us. The band has Moore out front, and running the rest of this well-oiled engine are Keith Wood (Hush Arbors) on guitar, Samara Lubelski (Jackie-O Motherfucker) on bass and John Moloney (Sunburned Hand Of The Man) on drums. Moore's iconic guitar scrawl and purge is present and accounted for, as is the artistic connections (the lyrics are based on the last words of amazing Beat author William Burroughs). Another track has been promised for the end of the week - yay! So divulge, OD on this - and come out of your slumber for the new track on Friday.

Chelsea Light Moving - Burroughs

Video Vacuum - Haunted Leather, Iroquois Falls, Romare, Arundel

Prepared for some more obscure recordings with visuals? Sure you are. Let's go.

I posted about Desert Spells, last year's hazy trip that was Michigan band Haunted Leather's debut LP here. Well here is an equally lysergic hit in the eyeball with their vid for 'Shapes On The Wall' evoking Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain. The track mines Black Angels at the most dirgey, which they themselves are stepping away from, so this is timely. The track is from upcoming album Red Road - call me mightily excited.

Iroquois Falls is a Toronto artist that has just released an interesting 7" of which she has made videos for both tracks. This is for the B-side, 'The Magician's Niece'. The crunching, the organ, the driving guitar, the Polly Jean meets Patti Smith vocal delivery, all bodes well, but it don't hang together if it ain't good. This is some pretty interesting stuff - intriguing to see where this all heads. Keep an eye on this artist.

I received this cool video in the inbox last week, and although the track isn't necessarily my thing, the visuals sucked me right in. Romare is a London based artist who put out an EP called Meditations on Afrocentrism, a concept based on the idea that a new form of music can emerge by investigating the relationship between different musical cultures through sampling. Samples of songs, speeches, interviews, field recordings and films were carefully chosen and rearranged to explore the connection between African and African-American music. Rhythms from West Africa are integrated with voices from Harlem, conversations about race and identity between writers and ethnomusicologists are constructed, speeches from activists are conjoined with the voices of prisoners. This process of combining preexisting material perfectly marries with the spliced imagery here (courtesy of Hugo Presser).

Finally we return back to Brisbane. Again, another artist I wouldn't necessarily write about (although he put on a good show support Mt Kimbie not too long ago), Arundel is a "dream-pop/electronica producer" who has been compared to Royksopp, Massive Attack, & Gotye. Well, I kinda get it... Much of what he does is produced via live instrumentation, and his collaborations particularly with Kate Jacobsen (Texas Tea) and Claire Whiting (Inland Sea) are pretty sweet. Here is the latest video for 'A Deep Freeze' from his Olive Caves EP from earlier in the year, which features Jacobson and Simon Crossley (Skypilot).


Thursday 21 June 2012

Crystallised Glass Vaults

Last year I really dug the Glass and Into Clear EPs from Wellington, NZers Glass Vaults. So when this track 'Crystallise' dropped in my inbox late last week, I was pretty excited. And as it pans out, that excitement was duly warranted. The track slips around from sonorous lullaby to syncopated shudder with nary a shrug. Richard Larsen's voice wafts over the mix much like Sigur Ros' Jonsi - in fact this track is mirroring their landscape as much as any mere mortal can, until three and a half minutes in when everything slips into molten fissures and the world enters a fracturing of symmetry, percussive blasts leading us through another wormhole entirely. It is, quite simply, exquisite - one of the best standalone songs of the year.

'Crystallise' is a precursor to WHAT WE CAN ONLY ASSUME WILL BE A BRILLIANT LONGPLAYER (note the capitals is me imploring, rather than an actual fact). They are currently touring around the US over the summer period, so get in there if you are around (check dates here). Head over to Jukboxr to pick up the EPs, or head here to pay what you want for the downloads. Trust me - these babies are worth some of your bread.

Glass Vaults - Crystallise

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Don't Go Search Engining Flesh Lights On A Whim...

This is a short post about a record you all need, just so's you can be blissfully unaware how many strangers you are pissing off as you listen to it. Its effectively a 2011 release, but I'm really digging Texan garage punks Flesh Lights' Muscle Pop (great title). These kids are all about movement - namely, tearing your shirt off and sweating profusely as you pump into every human being within a ten metre radius. Should be fun with peak hour public transport. Think The Oblivians with maybe a little less brain cells and a bit more swinging between the knees. It's bloody great.

Grab Muscle Pop (through Twistworthy Records) here.

Flesh Lights - I'm A Monk
Flesh Lights - I Am Romance
Flesh Lights - Diane

People Of The North Create Steep Formations, Melt Minds

This has been around for months, but People Of The North's Steep Formations is one heady exercise in aural endurance. That isn't to say that Oneida stalwarts Kid Millions and Bobby Matador have crafted something boring (well, if you aren't into twenty to thirty minute songs I guess it may be), but this kind of elongated noise takes some Zen-like preparation to properly consume. Millions' drumming, especially on 'Border Waves (Part 1)' is jaw-shattering. This track alone warrants spinning this double LP opus. It is aggressive in its singlemindedness - the thirty-plus titular track is pretty much an exercise in one distorted note - yet the audaciousness is for the most part extremely warranted.

Grab Steep Formations (out through Jagjaguwar) here.

People Of The North - Border Waves (Part 1)