Wednesday 24 October 2012
Friday 19 October 2012
Seeing as I have never spoken to the Texan trio known as shoegaze upstarts Ringo Deathstarr, I don’t know what their thoughts are on the name. Naming a band something as tongue in cheek as Ringo Deathstarr can come back to bite a band (see Test Icicles, a name that founder Dev Hynes has forever since regretted, despite the band having been defunct for quite a few years now). Nevertheless these guys continue to make the “wall of noise, fringe in eyes, eyes on floor” aesthetic fun with latest release Mauve.
Mauve is a great follow on from their 2011 debut Colour Trip, and it sees the band consolidating their sound whilst continuing to inject it with cheeky nous and charm. It is lazy, perfunctory, and easy to continually draw comparisons to the 90s bands from across the pond that highlighted such a musical approach and delivery (The Guardian once wrote that “There is a direct line between My Bloody Valentine, the Jesus and Mary Chain and Ringo Deathstarr. And it stops at Slowdive Central” – vom…) – and it can be difficult to avoid such reflections and analyses based on a sound that so wholeheartedly indebted to their idols – but Mauve succeeds in offering a Ringo Deathstarr sound, even if it is a nuanced variation of a common sonic theme. As guitarist/vocalist Elliott Frazier has stated in the past, they write pop songs buried under a mountain of noise, but when songs like 'Rip' come into focus, you can see the melodies are far more transparent to the point of being at the forefront of the wall of distorted effects. Furthermore, 'Slack' actually punches a huge hole in the loudest, brawniest tracks in Colour Trip, albeit with its pants around its ankles and a dumb grin on its face; whilst 'Please Don't Kill Yourself' is a great pop song.
I think that whilst there are many shoegaze bands out here – and many of them are pretty damn good – there aren’t many that can infuse their own young, carefree personas into the squalling morass of noise like these guys can, and that is definitely a plus. A great album.
Ringo Deathstarr – Please Don't Kill Yourself
Ringo Deathstarr - Rip
Zen Mantra – Change
Zen Mantra – Cloudgazer
Thursday 18 October 2012
Their continued adherence to walking the road less travelled with their visceral jams has paid dividends with this latest track, the B-side to ‘All Tangled Up’ aptly titled ‘Sonic Tomb’. The band say this about their process and the track that it created:
"Late last December we began recording sessions for what will later become our 3rd LP. Although this track may not find its way onto the record it symbolizes a big change for the band. Aided for the first time by a professional recording studio and the able ears of one Daniel James Schlett the jams came out sounding bigger and more direct. We're extremely psyched to share what we've been working on over the past year. The record is shaping up nicely and we'll have more for you soon!"
Woodsman – Sonic Tomb
It isn’t surprising that the 12 songs on offer are electric – Kate Jacobsen and Ben Dougherty have been in scintillating form in the live arena of late, especially when they flesh out the combo to four or more – but the levels of satisfaction is. It’s all down to both the growing confidence and maturity of the duo’s songwriting, the stripping away of what little apprehensions that may have still been in place, and a surety of aim and purpose. Such is the case with ‘Lily’, a song that there is a burly, robust nature to the track that juxtaposes the stately melancholy of ‘I Know That I Let You Down This Time’ perfectly. You’ll know that I don’t write about this stuff often, but seeing as two of my favourite all time are Neil Young’s After The Goldrush and Songs:Ohia’s Magnolia Electric Co., I don’t take this lightly either. Texas Tea are still in my mind a criminally underrated Australian band, and if Sad Summer Hits doesn’t do great things for them, then the Powers that Be are cruel, maniacal bastards of the greatest disrepute. There…I said it.
Texas Tea - Lily
Texas Tea - I know That I Have Let You Down This Time
Wednesday 17 October 2012
I've had it since before then.
So I'm a bad man, ok? But hopefully you guys aren’t jaded Web 2.0 fools who only listen to records that came out a week ago (hence my constant apologies – y’all a fickle bunch, 21st century music types!) and will give these hypnotic synth/guitar pop meanderings a red hot listen. The pendulum swing from detachment to embrace give the album these woozy sens of vertigo, a movement in and out of focus, that rather than create unease evokes a sense of otherworldliness, as if you have one foot each firmly placed in the present day and a distant alternate reality. If you have ever seen the Britt Marling film Another Earth, and the feeling of waking from a dream that you are never sure you have fully shaken that it details? That’s what Moves is like for me.
White Laces – Invocation
White Laces – Crawl/Collapse
Phillip, Joshua and Matthew have been mates since school, and it seems that their knowledge of each other is so great that infectious garage rock has become grafted onto their cerebral vortex (they may even be sewn together a la The Human Centipede, but since Ive never seen these guys in person I cannot say for sure…). If you thought Misled Youth was ace (and it was), you are in for a treat, as Cokefloat ups the ante tenfold. A mixture of old and new songs re-recorded whilst the iron is white-hot, the thirteen tracks on offer are filled with restless energy, reckless humour and defenceless charisma.
In danger of making a massive call (like Ive never done THAT before), when I first played Cokefloat, I had the same level of static electricity trickle up and down my spine that I did when I first heard Male Bonding’s Nothing Hurts record in 2010 - and that was one of my favourite albums of the year. Ive had the album for a while now, and every listen buzzes afresh – the cup of fun times floweth over. And it’s called Cokefloat! How can an album named after a soft(pop) drink with ice cream on top be anything but delicious? Don’t be surprised if this sneaks into my best of list come December…
PAWS – Catherine 1956
PAWS – Miss American Bookworm
PAWS - Poor Old Christopher Robin
Make More – Less Deaths
Make More – Immense Breeze
Make More – Monumental Suspense
La Piramide Di Sangue – Sangue
La Piramide Di Sangue – L’Invasione Delle Locuste
So here is the first Hits From The Box in over a month, and it’s a little more laidback than usual. Basically it’s bands and artists that have a particular song in their repertoire that have quelled the notion to end it all, just pack it in and tie a red neckerchief around a pole and head into eternity. These artists possess moments of clarity and joie de vivre, and that is what I need to get me back into the swing of things – enjoy!
Let’s kick off with two Brooklyn acts. Duo Shy Hunters are prepping a full length release for the New Year, and have dropped a couple of singles to give a taste of what dark minimalism can do to change the world. Let’s hope the Mayans weren’t right about the world ending this year, because off the strength of these lush noirish monochromatic tracks, pushed further forward by Indigo Street’s soaring vocals, there is something special waiting for us in 2013. And hey, even if the album never sees the light of day due to the end of days, at least we got a taste. And it was seductively good.
Shy Hunters – Time Bomb
Next up is trio Dead Leaf Echo, who are about to take their moody shoegaze fare on the road in the US alongside the great Ringo Deathstarr on Friday (who have a great release out that you will hear about here very soon). Their 7” Kingmaker b/w I Belong (out through Custom Made Music) offers two disparate factors of their musical aesthetic, with ‘Kingmaker’ offering a more bombastic counterpoint to the very understated ‘I Belong’ B-side (which has an arresting clip below). They have enlisted famed producer John Fryer (NIN, This Mortal Coil) and engineer Joe Lambert (Deerhunter/School Of Seven bells) for their upcoming debut LP, so expect more about that soon.
I meant to post something about Conner Youngblood back in July, but I tried holding off until his sophomore LP Sketches Pt 2 hit the streets. Well, it is out now and it’s a beauty. Interweaving hip-hop instrumentals, lo-fi fuzzy guitar rock, folk classicism and ambient electronica, Youngblood is skimming the territory that artists like Toro Y Moi honed their craft on, yet there are stronger notions of a true obliteration of genre tropes and stereotypes. The darker moments like on ‘Gold’ and the faux-Morricone of ‘The Warpath’ are especially effective, but even when delving into straighter indie folk territory such as on ‘I Gotta Feeling’ Youngblood proves to have an iconic voice. You can grab the LP here – listen to the whole thing and get a couple of freebies below.
Conner Youngblood – Gold
Conner Youngblood – The Warpath
Back to Brooklyn and to Dalton, the recordings based on the writings of singer-songwriter Nate Harar, recording in his apartment-studio, that focus on iconic pop luminaries such as Talking Heads, David Bowie, The Pixies and Peter Gabriel. You can certainly hear some of these influences echoing through opening track ‘Breaker’ off his self-titled EP. He has since fleshed things out into a full lineup, and you can only see things getting stronger from here.
Dalton - Breaker
Dalton - Wooden Frames
Now HERE is a artist that I have been meaning to talk about for a long time! Kiva Sage contacted me back in April (!) about his project Boyscout Discovery, after a friend he met in his father’s record store in Eau Claire, Wisconsin (Bon Iver country) mentioned my blog (it’s a small world after all…). At the time he was in a band called Echo Bravo that played many shows with Justin Vernon's band Deyarmond Edison before he did the Bon Iver thing, Echo Bravo even recording an EP with some help from Vernon. Sage ended up moving to Minneapolis made a solo record. Then to California. Then Portland. That's when he started to settle into creating his own sonic environments musically. Now some five months later and other than a few songs that he had prepared earlier, the promised LP is still on the horizon. That said, he has dropped something new in the form of ‘Coyote In The Bronx’. Have a taste of his evolution – you can’t help but hear Ratatat in this newie! Very tasty indeed. The album has some interesting prospects as well, as a drawing from Sage for each track that can be coloured in! Now hurry up and finish that record man!
Boyscout Discovery – Fuxong
Boyscout Discovery – Secret Language
Boyscout Discovery – Coyote In The Bronx
And now we will finish in England with “supergroup” The Pure Conjecture. Consisting of members of British Sea Power, Brakes, Electric Soft Parade, The Hazey Janes, The Tenderfoot and Thirty Pounds of Bone and led by Matt Eaton, the ten-piece ensemble put out Courgettes, an LP drenched in humorous wordplay and jazz-inflected undertones. Now I wouldn’t say that the whole album is my kinda scene (they claim to aim for a Daptones feel, but often land in a staid middle ground), yet some of these tracks swing me the right way, and really fit my mood this week. Anything that can get me through what has proven to be a truly topsy-turvy week has to be lauded – plus the album is called Courgettes (zucchinis for those outside of the UK) so you know there is some serious self-deprecation afoot. The album is out through Armellodie Records here.
The Pure Conjecture – The Power Of The Notes Is Very Good
The Pure Conjecture – This Car Of Mine
Tuesday 16 October 2012
Sykes has always been an incredible drummer, and Shippy well equipped with extended guitar rock jams, but here it is taken to another realm, the duo both extending and contracting the form at will. With studies of Sri Lankan percussion and the elasticity of guitar exploration the driving forces, the 17 tracks on their LP Home IS The Sun becomes at once an experiment, a composition, a sonic wigout and an exercise in control. Whilst in similar realms to the likes of Hella or Lightning Bolt, there is an innate accessibility and verve here that opens itself up to a wider audience, but this is not a detriment – experimental rock is allowed to be warm and fuzzy sometimes! Such a psychedelic, progressive adventure should work as well as this clearly does, nor should it be such fun – but it easily commits to both. This is the kind of aural alchemy that makes existence on this mortal coil worth every shitstorm and concern.
Invisible Things – BEFORE The Seventh
Invisible Things – INTO Engine
Crystal Swells – Harsh Flux
Crystal Swells – Kelly Does Bayside
The product of Craig Dermody, Para Vista Social Club (which actually came out in Australia last year) is raised up not just by the wonky yet addictive instrumentation and melodies, but his takes on working class malaise, heartache, and world-weary commentary on the ills of the slightly disenfranchised are fascinating ('Gammy Leg', although not found here, is one of the best songs of the past couple years PERIOD). Imagine The Go Betweens making their earlier albums in the 21st century in a scum-stained corner of the urban sprawl, playing good cop to Matt Kennedy-led Kitchens Floor’s bad cop, and you have Scott & Charlene’s Wedding down…or, if you were like me, you had me at “Scott & Charlene’s Wedding”.
Scott & Charlene’s Wedding – Rejected
Scott & Charlene’s Wedding – Back In Town
StillWife is a Melbourne-based collective that are still finding their feet thematically and musically. Starting out as an experiment in voice, their self-titled EP is a little schizophrenic, spanning from twee to esoteric without much connection in between. Yet they really hit their groove on ‘Out To Sea’, a stately, melancholy number that sweeps along with “Moat”s vocals, that is heightened by Dylan’s hushed, deeper accompaniment. To complement this track they have done this excellent music video by newcomer Wilk, and it’s a lush moodpiece with a twist in the tale that adds a nuanced level of poignancy. When a film clip balances a song to the point that it transcends beyond its aural limits, you know there are master craftsmen at play. Let’s hope StillWife keep travelling down this path (I’ve heard some demos from an upcoming recording and they sound incredible, much stronger than this track even hints at), and that we see more of what Wilk has to offer. A monochromatic match made in a haunting heaven.
You can grab StillWife here.
Sunday 14 October 2012
Saturday 13 October 2012
AXXONN - Sequel To Acid
AXXONN - Sky's One Kite
The rad droogs at Sophomore Lounge have had some tasty treats out recently – Spider Bags’ Papa Was A Shithead 7” is one of them. Following on from their LP Shake My Head (out through Odessa Records here – I'm yet to hear it, would love to hear some comments), these two tracks are a definitive ball tearer. Led by Chapel Hill songwriter Dan McGee (of DC Snipers fame), Spider Bags have been serving up steaming hot piles of garage country swagger and sleaze for some time now, all sweat stained checked shirts, horned forearm tattoos and whisky showers. The titular A-side is more akin to straight up boozy punk of the spit-soaked persuasion however, (something not too far removed from an Oblivians staple) and is a jagged piece of rock that proves that yes, Papa was indeed a shithead, no doubt. Then we flip to ‘I Wish I Had Never Fed You’, a longer country waster that starts half way to an alcoholic stupor, and finishes with a caterwaul of distortion and disdain.
Spider Bags – Papa Was A Shithead
Spider Bags – I Wish I Had Never Fed You
Friday 12 October 2012
Photo © Sasha Arutyunova 2012
It’s been a while since we’ve had a Friday Cover Up – so let’s have two!
First up we have Brooklyn six-piece pop explosion Landlady, who have just released the single ‘Above My Ground’. The band was started by 24 year old Adam Schatz, who has played keys and horns with the likes of Sleigh Bells, Those Darlins, Will Sheff and Twin Shadow, but this little experiment is all his own. The vegetable based video for the single is below. But we are here for the B-side as well, which is an amazingly epic version of The Pixies’ ‘Oh My Golly’, which is beautifully original in approach and conception. Every time I listen to it my chest swells – I feel like I'm about to watch a VHS tape of a lost Sergio Leone film. Weird, but true. Great stuff.
Now on to one of my favourite local bands, No Anchor. They have done some recordings of late and will be appearing on some splits and singles in the near future (more on that later), but in one final sweep of that apocalyptic cupboard they have collated all the remixes, live tracks and rarities that they like and put it onto a cassette titled The John Dominance Tapes (which you can still grab here). It’s very very good, especially when other artists get involved. Two of the tracks I’ve decided to put here. One is a remix by one of NA’s bassists Donovan Miller of the track ‘Key Cutter’ off their last (and excellent) LP Real Pain Supernova. And one is a live version of 'ACWOWTFE' by another great local act, scrap rock duo Tiny Spiders. Really great takes on aggressive, intense music – one ethereal yet unsettling, the other a slightly lighter shade of darkness from the original. Both are damned ace.Have a great weekend folks! Be sure to check the site this weekend for some more excellent, left of centre sound – that is right, I’m back on the clock!!
I’d Rather Listen To The Bloody Birds is out now through Strange Forces’ own label Under Fire Is Born – get it here.
Strange Forces – Daryl Somers Presents Beyond The Mauve Zone
Strange Forces – Dino Brain
Secret Birds, a local noise experiment in mood and temperament, has been consistently ruffling the feathers (sorry) of the global avant garde community for some time now, with prolific output of releases in all forms and a guerrilla style of playing that expands and contracts in membership and sonics depending on the environment and availability of willing participants. At the epicentre is one D. Black, and his excursions into the farther recesses of drone music's consciousness. In Hex was recorded last year when Black was hunkered down in Tokyo, and has more of a loop-oriented focus than much of his other fare, yet still holding onto the spaced out fascination with oscillation within a textured aural wasteland. At once hypnotic and energizing, In Hex is yet another shuffle towards enlightenment by an artist who is unafraid to play with repetition, texture, pace, rhythm and space, always searching for the darker answers in the spaces in between.
In Hex is out now through No Kings. Secret Birds will be playing the Lost Race Festival at Cooparoo Bowls Club in Brisbane on November 17 opposite the likes of Blank Realm, Dreamtime, Cobwebbs and Nite Fields, where he will officially launch this and another release. Get on down.
Secret Birds - In Hexagon
It has been a hectic few weeks on the international band touring front and will continue to be so up til Santa comes to town. Last night was the incredible Grouper (sorry I didn't do the call out on that one, but if you didn't already have tickets to her only show in Australia, more fool you), and tonight is another corker in the form of the incendiary Tortoise. The Chicago instrumental giants are twenty years young, and have been spending 2012 celebrating the fact (alongside the 20th anniversary of Thrill Jockey Records, which wouldn't exist in its current capacity without Tortoise's involvement). They are still at the top of their game, so this is an amazing opportunity to see original, creative music up close and personal. The supports aren't to be sneezed at either, with local SM fave Mr Maps and Melbourne's Margins offering different vocal-less counterpoints.
Tortoise is playing at The Zoo tonight - grab tix here. And if you aren't excited about this show, just listen to the below track. Easily one of the best headphone tracks ever written - scratch that - one of the best songs, period.