Friday, 31 August 2012
I just interviewed Thom from Leeds-based band Alt-J (or more correctly, ∆), for Melbourne's Inpress magazine, and thought I would quickly mention their debut record An Awesome Wave. Despite their moniker (despite it being named after the action on a Mac that gives the symbol, or its mathematical relevance to change - it's a triangle!) breeding thoughts of either diabolical witch-house-gaze-core-whatever or hipster to the power of pretentious twat, the quartet have actually crafted an album that is nigh on uncategorical. Each song lays down the rails on a familiar terrain before the format becomes blurred, sometimes creating a breezy alternative, at others offering a disquieting unease. Joe Newman's high-pitched vocal may irk some (if you aren't a fan of Devendra Banhart's voice, step away now), but I think it works perfectly with this off-kilter mish-mash, the result of four great friends doing whatever the hell they want. You'll want to be a part of this exclusive gang before long.
An Awesome Wave is out through Infectious Records - get it here. Alt-J are touring Australia in October, although no word on a Brisbane show...yet.
Alt-J - Fitzpleasure
And check it the brilliant video for 'Breezeblocks', the standout track on the album that apparently comes from Newman's reading of Maurice Sendik's seminal children's book Where The Wild Things Are.
Thursday, 30 August 2012
I really enjoyed Kansas-based duo Folie Adieu's self-titled EP (read about it here - they were one of the first bands to send their physical music to me that I really enjoyed). Well once again it's taken me too long to get to this - sorry again guys! They brought out an LP not too long ago called Best Practices, and it continues to roll the ball forward, offering ten slices of understated shoegaze pop. Tonally spot on, there will be moments where the shadows of greater bands will darken the corners, but Andrea 's voice is perfect for these tracks, as are her sonorous guitar lines and Brian Winters' precise, no frills drumming. There is something warm and familiar about Best Practices that I can embrace, rather than feel the need to deride, and whilst I struggle to alight on what that subtle ingredient is, I will just say that Folie Adieu are living up to the promise.
Best Practices can be picked up here.
Folie Adieu - Sacrificial Anode
Folie Adieu - Tent
The jangly fuzzy that permeates This Is Disconnect, the debut LP by Chicago five-piece Videotape, is juxtaposed by the angelic/acerbic vocal interplay of Sophie Leigh. Think The Breeders and Fonda becoming a Mazzy Star/Sonic Youth hybrid - a shoegaze band grunging it up just to the precipice of static abyss before reining it in for a bit of La's-centric alt-pop... The sweet/jagged confection is a little off putting at times, yet on tracks like the glistening 'Static' or the growler 'The Creeps', everything aligns perfectly. It's a bit schizophrenic at times, but the melancholy of 'Walking In Circles' or the almost post-rock of 'Form' haunts as well. It has everything, and everything is done well, even if it doesn't cohere perfectly as an album. Well worth a few listens though - some of these tracks are absolute killer.
This Is Disconnect is out next week - you can get it here.
Videotape - Static
Videotape - No One
Videotape - Form
I really like Dikes of Holland, the Austin garage collective who have given unholy birth to 2nd LP Braindead USA. They have dual vocals, boy/girl in fact, but where this might normally be saccharine or rosy-cheeked, Liza Herrera ensures it is more like insanity wrapped tightly in barbed wire. John Paul Bohon, Trey Reimer and Christopher Stephenson share songwriting duties, yet it's Herrera's solo vocal contribution in particular on tracks like 'City Feet' that stick in the memory like a feverish burr, part sexy coquettisheness and part spiky snarl, although 'Rotten Taste' and 'Kinky Parents' are stronger all-round offerings. This is the kind of album you shotgun beers, glass lumberjacks and have sex outside the 7-Eleven with a prepubescent Lolita to. Hedonistic as hell, and all the better for it.
You can grab Braindead USA from Screamer Records here. It seriously is a great punk record. It'll save lives. They are also touring the States with Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears. Awesomeness will ensue.
Dikes of Holland - Rotten Taste
Dikes of Holland - Streetwalker
Tuesday, 28 August 2012
Talk about an about turn. A couple of months ago Kentucky label Sophomore Lounge Records released Fear Of Suffering, a 7" by seemingly newly-minted Louisville band Tropical Trash. Never heard of em? Well, the album is full of dissonant, warped rock, alternating between the driving despair of 'Baltimore' to the frenetic noise of the other, considerably shorter tracks - something akin to And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead attempting conceptual grindcore. Extreme guitar - by brass men? Yep, these guys are the horn section of SAPAT, whose evilly cantankerous Mortise & Tenon LP on Siltbreeze back in 2007 was pretty impressive. And it isn't entirely a surprise - hear the off-kilter squall on 'Pentagram Ring Finger' for example. And 'Burning Ghost' could be a nerdier Hot Snakes... Yet it's a rhythmic trance of dissonance that is strangely transfixing - and far too short. Incessant murky anti-math? Can't wait to hear what they have coming up for us next.
You can (and should) grab Fear Of Suffering here.
Tropical Trash - Baltimore
Tropical Trash - Burning Ghost
I'm a little bewildered that I didn't even know this damn incredible video existed until I saw Ongakubaka's post of it. Brisbane's premiere psych band Dreamtime brought out their excellent debut LP last year (which you need - get it here), and the pivotal track was 'Gympie'. This video is slick and tripped out...plus I have never seen this threesome so glammed out! They pushed to be a part of this year's Austin Psych Fest to no avail, but with this brilliant clip and their incumbent sophomore release in the wings, it should be a foregone conclusion.
Seems like forever since Mansfield's finest Violent Soho produced something new - probably because it has been. But now Brisbane's exponents of visceral grunge are back with a double A-side 7" (out through I Oh You), the first taste of which is 'Tinder Box'. It promises a quantum leap in sonic depth for the quartet, whilst maintaining the aggression (can aggression be fun? This is definitely fun...). Love the art work too dudes. (Oh and the band leant their gear to Iowa in their Sonic Masala show last weekend, even though they weren't at the show, which is the best. I've said thanks, but again - thanks!). The next chance to see em destroy is in a fortnight at BigSound, I suggest you get there pronto.
Lotsa good news concerning the very great Twerps, who came out of the blue (at least to me) and floored me with their self-titled debut nigh on a year ago now. First up they are releasing a rad lil 7" on Underwater Peoples and Chapter Music called Work It Out - the great jangle of 'He's In Stock' is the B-side. And Brisbane punters can check em out on September 22 as part of Brisbane Festival's Out The Back series (supported by Kitchens Floor, no less). You can get tix for that one here.
Work It Out is out October - pre-order it here.
Monday, 27 August 2012
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead are one of my favourite live bands - their set at the Hi Fi last year blew me away, and their Livid 2002 set stands as one of the best festival shows I've ever seen. Their albums have ebbed and flowed under the weight of their concepts however, with the last few albums suffering from the grandeur. Last year saw a return form though with Tao Of The Dead, and they have another on the way. Entitled Lost Songs, it comes out in October on their Richter Scale label, and there is a track off it called 'Up To Infinity', an angry purge about the Syrian civil war. It's really good.
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Up To Infinity
Another Brisbane band making waves is Cobwebbs, a four-piece that has evolved substantially since I saw them support Times New Viking last year. Back then, they were still a garage-blues band in a wild showman in Sam Wightman. Since then their sound has gotten considerably darker, murkier, yet still with that surly sneer plastered across their face. Their support of The Laurels at The Beetle Bar was acid-tinged shambolism at its height. So it comes with great delight that the band have announced the release of their debut LP through local label Lost Race. Its called All Around, and if 'Ice Melter' is any indication it will be fucking killer - I can't get it out of my head.
I showed a lot of love for 'American', the first track to come off New Jersey band Spook Houses' new LP called Trying. Well the album is out to the public now, and it is so good, something akin to Jeff The Brotherhood trying to reimagine Modest Mouse's The Lonesome Crowded West, but they are wasted, making way too many mistakes but really don't care either way. It is an incredible slacker record amidst a morass of slacker albums, and deserves to have a golden effigy made to it. Fuck the Rivers Cuomo renaissance, get behind kids who actually know what it feels like to be disenfranchised and not really care.
You can grab Trying here - please do, you deserve it.
Spook Houses - American
Spook Houses - Witching Hour
After the amazing and totally out of the blue new Black Pus recording (and if you haven't listened to it yet, rectify that pronto!), we can keep the good times rolling with Lightning Bolt's "lost tracks", all collated on the LP Oblivion Hunter (out on Load next month). I fucking love these guys, so any release is a result, yet 'King Candy' sounds like - well, Lightning Bolt, which is more than anyone can hope for.
Blank Realm is one of the hottest bands in Brisbane at the moment, and this is bound to continue when they release their new LP through Siltbreeze later in the year (it may drip over into 2013...). Here is a taste of the wasted pop that promises to be on offer (and check out the artwork below - very sleek!). 'Growing Inside' seems more insidious here, more likely to - yep - grow inside you than its more frenetic live counterpart. The band played a stellar support slot for Zola Jesus not too long ago, supported Mark McGuire earlier in the year, and will be again in support mode when Estonian dark pop diva Maria Minerva plays the Judith Wright Centre on Wednesday - get tix for that here.
Friday, 17 August 2012
Copenhagen is a crazy awesome hotspot right now, what with the emergence of Iceage, War and Holograms. Here is another to add to that excellent bill. More discordant wailing post-punk aggression, this time from Lower, whose short jagged 7" EP Walk On Heads is electric. Its already sold out through Escho, yet they are repressing it very soon. Get an order in, and get in on the ground floor. This is amazing stuff.
(photo by Natasha Caetano)
I love Brian Chippendale. My Blogger avatar is a picture of the man taken at The Dome in London in December 2009. Lightning Bolt is one of the best bands in the world. Chippendale is one of the best drummers in the world. And his solo stuff, Black Pus, is also brilliant. Yet I wasn't expecting new material from him, let alone a new album, but here we are! Pus Mortem is probably the best solo stuff he's done by a country mile. Loud, abrasive, face-melting excellence par none. Wade in.
Ty Segall is back! Well, he was only not spruiking new musak for about five days. Anyway, he is bringing out Twins, his next solo-monikered LP, through Drag City in October, but is releasing The Hill b/w Milkshakes next month as a precursor - hells yeah he is! My man love for this guy knows no bounds. Well, it does, quite definitive ones, but musically he is a god. PLUS he's touring with Thee Oh Sees later in the year if you're Stateside (that SF collective will be playing ATP Melbourne next year also).
Thursday, 16 August 2012
It's the Ekka, time to get a public holiday, some nostalgic spirit and a disease. It's great that such a traditional process such as The Show still rolls around annually, whether it be for the dagwood dogs, the show dogs, the checked shirts, the hay bales, the giant pumpkins, or the vomit. I've never gone, but it sounds like a rootin, tootin time.
So yeah, clearly have nothing to write about. So on with the Hits From The Box...
Let's start with a Brisbane band too. Blonde On Blonde delve into heady rock that flirts with the glossy, off-kilter psych pop that the Dandy Warhols and Morning After Girls did so well (not so much anymore), with an edge of grunge angst. They have just released the single 'Act 1' in preparation for slamming the East Coast in the toilets, a sleazy hook-up like only they know how. Check yourself afterwards though.
Blonde On Blonde - Act 1
Next up we have Maryland producer Jay AKA Terracotta Blue, whose double dose of EP aurality, Solace and Skylines, scans the gamut of hip-hop electronics for the spaces in between, whether it be an ice-cold break or a blisteringly hot summer beat. It's an experiment in form and tone, and could easily slot onto any arthouse hipster flick, or maybe a montage on the next Nicholas Winding Refn gig. You can grab both EPs plus an earlier endeavour called Mistique here.
Terracotta Blue - The Monastery (from Solace)
Terracotta Blue - Nature (from Skylines)
Over to the UK we go with London blueshounds Black Manila. They are heating up with their Fiasco/England single, showing the sharp and the ragged sides. They are glued fiercely together though on third track 'Hazy Daze', a blues garage roar that actually sounds ripped off a transistor radio, and as much as I love the Rolling Stones as fronted by Jason Pierce style swagger of 'England', this track is the one that slays me.
Black Manila - Hazy Daze
Black Manila - England
We jet over to Portland to visit 20 year old artist Christian Patterson AKA Art Deco Cathedrals (really like the name, man!). His eponymous debut LP is all breathy synths that take us to a parallel 1970s frigid housing estate, a time travel experiment that is both cold yet transfixing. The opening track "I am too unhappy to deserve your kindness" is eerie, its plaintive and haunting sonic mantra not far removed from Air's soundtrack for The Virgin Suicides. He has a new releasing coming up called Trial of Superman - Ill be checking back in with Christian. Meanwhile, grab Art Deco Cathedrals here.
Art Deco Cathedrals - "I am just too unhappy to deserve your kindness"
Hailing from the "cultural mecca" of Bury St. Edmunds, Ten City Nation have that feverish punk rock style that other UK acts like Blacklisters employ, albeit with less bludgeoning and more finesse. I'm not going to say I like it more than that aggressive realm, but the trio show some angular chops with a penchant for melody that has even had Ian Mackaye (Fugazi, Minor Threat) giving them quiet kudos. These guys are yet to hit their straps - I for one cannot wait for that moment.
Ten City Nation - His Just Reward
And finally, let's end off in Scotland - Glasgow to be exact, and with "reformed" band Haight Ashbury. I say reformed because their second album is miles away from the folk tangent that many thought this trio was destined to get stuck on, instead offering slabs of psych guitar pop with Eastern inflection, heavily indebted to the summer of love and barbiturates (presumably). Haight Ashbury II: The Ashburys is one heavy, fuzzed out pop album, filled with blissful yet hardened vocals, walls of noise and soul. The most important cog in this machine is that they always have their eye on the melodic prize, and they hit it on the vast majority of cases. you can grab this (through Lime Music) here. Very good stuff.
Haight Ashbury - Sophomore
Haight Ashbury - Dum Dee Dum
Here is a little drone EP that has flittered at the edges of my consciousness this week. Tenth Oar is a four track release from Hanetration, a London-based artist that seems intent on further blurring the distinction between fevered dreams and a rabid reality, the boundaries of ambiance subtly infiltrated by shadows and minor abrasions. It's a considered piece, one that excites and unnerves in equal measure. He describes it as "music for headphones" - and that is the perfect way to experience it, where it can crawl into your skull and fill it with white fuzz.
You can grab Tenth Oar here.
Hanetration - Rex
We here at Planet Masala have championed School Knights since their Rush SK release came out almost two years ago, and what with the current weight of love being poured over surf garage punks such as Wavves and Bleeding Knees Club, I thought that I was on bridge of a ship that was sailing the highest sea of discovery. As it turns out, the Denver based cats are happy to keep bubbling under the surface, which is why when they couldn't find the right way to release the current crop of tracks they had at their disposal, they put them up for free on Bandcamp under the name Fre(E)P.
That's not to say their 2012 has been quiet - on the contrary, they have supported the likes of Black Lips and Japanther, with shows with Cloud Nothings, White Denim and King Tuff in the works. They just got sick of these songs sitting around and wanted everyone to hear them and love them. As they say themselves, "We want everyone to hear them, so that the next time we release some songs people can go 'Wow, I didn't think it was possible, but this is way better than that free EP they put out.'"
You can (and most definitely should, seeing as it's awesome AND free) grab Fre(E)P here.
School Knights - Powerslut
School Knights - Thanksgiving
I have to say that this year's Sound Summit in Newcastle looks to be by far the best one yet. Headlined by the inimitable Blues Control (whose Valley Tangents LP I am yet to hear, but all reports is it's a best of 2012 contender), Home Blitz, Rites Wild, Twerps, Straight Arrows, Mist - and French avant garde sound extrapolator High Wolf. Now it is highly unlikely I will make this year - I will working on a special project, more about which later, that goes into the first day of the conference - but it is likely that I will get to see most of these acts.
First one announced to come say hi (other than Straight Arrows playing the BigSound convention mid-September) will be High Wolf who, along with USA-based multi-instrumentalist Benoit Pioulard and synth cowboys Mist (which includes John Elliott from Emeralds) are a part of Open Frame 2012, an initiative at the Brisbane Powerhouse put on by Room40 to celebrate the sonic Underworld. High Wolf is a master of mystic interrogation and manipulation, playing with form and repetition to reconnect with the third eye, holding a strong connection to Middle Eastern and Asian musical tropes also. He puts out many releases - the current one doing the rounds at Planet Masala is the Know Thyself cassette he put out through Sun Ark, contemporary Sun Araw's label - and this promises to be an electric, eye-opening program. Not to be missed.
The first Open Frame event featuring, Benoit Pioulard, High Wolf and Mist is on at the Powerhouse on Thursday October 4. You can get your tickets here - I strongly recommend this to anyone who likes to be adventurous with your sonic palate. Your earbuds will never be the same.
You can grab Know Thyself (and by extension a plethora of High Wolf's releases) here.
High Wolf - Side A (from Know Thyself - song titles are Landslide, Obsessions History, and MLK)
Sneakpeek are releasing their debut Self-titled LP (it came out this week - grab it here) and it's about bloody time! The LA quartet have taunted and teased us with their demos for night on eighteen months now, but the wait has been worth it, interweaving psych haze, slacker malaise and dreamscape daze into one warm yet combustible package. This kind of noise pop is perfect for getting up, getting down AND gettin' around. Sweet stuff.
Monday, 13 August 2012
I have the stiffest shoulders today. I'm so tired. I have no idea why. All I want to do is crawl into a cave and hibernate. But instead - let's see if some A/V multimedia will do the chiropractic trick!
This is the first track off the ranks, and it's not doing much to alleviate stress levels. Then again, it's a Liars track, a band not overly known for their soothing wilderness collages. It's for the second single of latest record WIXIW called 'Brats'. Man, it's more than a little fucked up (again, this is Liars...). A deliberately amateurish animation by Ian Cheng, the video looks half rendered and combined with early '00s GIF level of stop-motion. It's a bizarre rendition of the Elmer Fudd vs Bugs Bunny tale. The trio make a cameo too. You might want to have some paracetamol on hand though...
God, I think we need to cleanse the mind after that, and Icelandic nymphs Sigur Ros have just the thing. Directed by Ryan McGinley, the video for 'Varúð' is as glorious and spine-tingling as we have come to expect from these otherworldly gods.
Next is a true curveball. The band is a "side project" sprouting from Israeli punks TV Buddhas (check out their excellent Band In The Modern World EP) called Vaadat Harigim. It means Exemption Committee in English. The song, 'The World Is Long Gone', has a community television vibe that mirrors local public tv channel in Israel – channel 1, which produced a lot of crappy green screen videos in the late 80s for local new wave bands. It's in Hebrew, but band member Varul has kindly translated it for me:
Let's lie on the beach
Let's lie on our stomach
If we fall in love it's OK
'Cause there's no tomorrow,
And The world is long lost
This is the kind of sonic wavelength American slowwinders Real Estate like to traverse, so it comes with a seal of approval. Good track this one.
Finally we have 'Glamour Of The Gods' from London crew Crows. I had never heard of them before, and all they have sent me is this video, but it's slick and pretty enjoyable. Apparently it's set in my old stomping ground of Kilburn in London, which suits its slightly greasy, slightly dirty blues stomp crawl crunch (insert other onomatopoeia here). More please.
POP! And there is that knot forcibly worked out. Feel good? Yeah...NOW GET BACK TO WORK!
Meteor Tears, the EP put together by Jayson Munro (Ghost Of Chance, Noisette) was actually recorded way back in 2007, and came out early this year. I've had this for a while, and thought hell, I'm sure he wouldn't mind a few more months of ignominy. It's an excellent release though - 4 tracks of angular, discordant guitar-based instrumentals that bristle with intensity and heft. Opening track 'Illinoize' feels like the longest track on here - it rumbles along with rusted distortion, yet harbours some warmth that mirrors the burnt colours of the cover art. It is also the shortest track, hence its immediacy, yet the others - the elongated mood pieces '18 Stops To Go' and 'Cyan Taillights', closing off with the undulating quiet/loud antics of 'Dew Drop Ambulance' - all hold kernels of charm and excitement within their core. It's a solid collection of tracks that will have you begging for something more substantive from Munro, with a much quicker turnaround.
You can grab Meteor Tears here.
Jayson Munro - Illinoize
Jayson Munro - Dew Drop Ambulance
You can grab Meteor Tears here.
Jayson Munro - Illinoize
Jayson Munro - Dew Drop Ambulance
Austin, Texas trio (now quartet) White Denim had a massive year in 2011. The release of LP D to critical acclaim, worldwide touring, even squeezing out an EP (their fifth) in the form of Takes Place In Your Work Space. They haven't stopped though, with the recent expulsion of two tracks that missed the EP cut onto the musical consciousness - and they are stellar in themselves. The slight honky tonk sway of 'Darlene' rings of subdued Nevada crooning, with intermittent flickering neon and red dirt staining the white stucco buildings the images burnt into the brain. Which makes 'Gas On F' the perfect counterpoint, a driving song fleeing the aforementioned landscape, the spinifex flying past on the horizon, wind in the hair, head lolling back on the headrest, the taillights leaving zigzags of red light in the waning day's dusky glow. The way this band flitters across genres, nailing their nuances and graces whilst also having so much irreverence with it all is always refreshing. Here's to another big year for White Denim
White Denim - Darlene
White Denim - Gas On F
I have no idea how this album found its way onto my hard drive - I haven't ever received an email from them, and I'd never heard of them before - but Vet Dreams by Auckland quartet Grass Cannons is killer. Embracing elements of no wave, shoegaze and post-punk then tying it up in a pop-heavy bow, these five tracks are the closest I've heard to someone sounding like Women than...well, Women. And the weird thing for me always was why that would be the case - yet the Canadian band had a unique sound that masqueraded as the familiar, which would be come an unbearable itch on the brain that you could never scratch. Grass Cannons are on the same track here, with a sound at once familiar and distant, misshapen yet distinctly defined. A miasma of perfect sounds that under the microscope appear commonplace, Grass Cannons have offered an EP that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Not bad for an inexplicable discovery...
Vet Dream can be gleaned as a free download here. There is also a remix album of the EP, called Sweat Dream, which is well worth exploring too. Seriously guys (and gal), get to Australia pronto!
Grass Cannons - Cat Hair
Sunday, 12 August 2012
I've really gotta get better at these mash-ups of titles...
Anyway, this one has been around for just over a couple months, but Philly band Panda Riot have given us some sunny shoegaze in the form of their 7" Serious Radical Girls. The band started out as a duo with drum machines in tow, moonlighting in the bedroom when not scoring short films, but now are fleshed out through gaining a bass/percussion engine room. The now four-piece are working on an album Northern Automatic Music, which hopefully isn't too far in the wind, as the tracks on the 7" are gossamer-levels of beauty. It is really only a calling-card of what is possible, but it certainly shows a lot of scope. I'm interested to see what they are capable of.
You can get the 7" from Saint Marie Records here.
Another album outta San Fran to get excited about is the imminent Thee Oh Sees record, Putrifiers II. The John Dwyer-led collective have been ultra prolific, with this marking their fourteenth foray into the longplayer form, and if the two tracks leaked from it are any indication it is a little glossier than some of their previous output, but also a little more focused. It is Thee Oh Sees though - anything can happen...
Pre-order Putrifiers II from In The Red here.
Thee Oh Sees - Lupine Dominus
Thee Oh Sees - Flood's New Light
Saturday, 11 August 2012
There was an excellent show on at the Judith Wright Centre that was to be one of instrumental enigmas Mr Maps' final shows for some time. Unfortunately I missed it - I had been commissioned to cover a different band at the time - the trials and tribulations of the job. Also playing that show was electronic wizard Hunz (aka Hans Van Vliet), another act that I have yet been able to catch live. But due to missing that performance, I heard that the two acts had a split 7" picked it up, loved Hunz's 'Owl Highway' track, picked up his new EP Penny Time, and found it well worth my time. Im really falling for a lot of 8-bit instrumental work - another act in Brisbane, Green Nose, blew me away when he played the Tiny Spiders album launch last week - but Hunz's work is also steeped in a frenetic pop realm. The album's title comes from the music's original genesis, with Van Vliet intending it to score an iPhone skating game that his motion design company created. Yet it stands well on its own, and creates other visuals worlds away from the videogame.
The 7" is out through boutique label Lofly (who put out the excellent Nova Scotia album last year), and you can hopefully still get yourself a clear vinyl copy (with great artwork too) here. Otherwise have at the EP below. He is also playing tonight at X&Y with The Slow Push - it's free, so get there!