Thursday 31 January 2013

Double Discipline Is Electric

There aren’t many bands out there sound as frenetically intricate and cryptic as Battles, yet French trio Electric Electric come damn close on their latest LP Discipline (out through Africantape). Weaving looped and live guitars, drums and electronics into a heaving, tightly coiled whole, the band have crafted eleven feverish songs of breathtaking complexity. The trio like to see their music as electronica or dance music – even “pop”. Discipline is anything but.

However the album title is incredibly close to the bone – the rigour taken in the repetition, the metronomic swings in these angular sojourns into the darker regions of the unknown proffers precision and dexterity that most bands could only dream of. Like the more vicious step-brother of Errors, Electric Electric are so scintillating they have to repeat their name twice – and with good reason. This kind of instrumental music will infuriate, perplex, hyperventilate, but above all else arouse. If this were the future of guitar music, Id be a willing drone to the cause.

Discipline can be bought here – this is a highly original album that takes what the aforementioned Battles are renowned for and hybridises it with the aesthetics of Holy Fuck, !!!, The Faint and My Disco. A shitstorm ensues. Make sure you get stuck in it.

Electric Electric –La Centrale
Electric Electric – xx2

Going Easy On Blank Realm

Blank Realm have been one of the best bands in Brisbane for a while now. It wasn’t whether they would make the next step into awesomeness, but when – 2012 saw them support many killer acts (Mark McGuire, Maria Minerva, Zola Jesus, Blues Control, Sun Araw), and their releases on Not Not Fun and Bedroom Suck kept pushing them into the slipstream. But when I heard that Siltbreeze was going to be putting their next record out (in America at least – Bedroom Suck distributed it here, and Fire Records will do the Euro route in March), I thought “This is it.” And goddamn if Go Easy isn’t one of the best records of last, or any, year to come out of Australia. Seriously.

'Acting Strange' kicks things off, a dirty, chaotic, feverish melange of noise played loose and free. Dan and Sarah Spencer’s vocals intertwine in equal doses of laconicism and high-pitched anxiety. The synth is broken glass on the spine of the melody. Luke Walsh’s guitar roils and spits as only the most fervent No Wave acolytes know how. But there is tightness within; the quartet is more in control of their id than ever before, and is even more adept at spinning on a dime. 'Cleaning Up My Mess' is all loose limbs and slack-jawed grins stretched to breaking point, offering an interesting amalgam of the Victorian slacker-pop zeitgeist with glacial wear and tear, and a guitar solo that could be locked in the Flying Nun archives. 'Working On Love' seems like the closest the band will come to a straight up garage rocker, before the insidious barbiturate-pop of 'Growing Inside' scratches at the inside of the skull once more, an evilly charismatic heart-burner. The band even split 'The Crackle' in half, leaving a post-punk abrasion on one side and an indolent down-the-rabbit-hole percussive nightmare on the other.

Ending with excellent guitar wigout 'Pendulum Swing' and the delectable amble of the title track (one of my favourite songs of last year, and of the summer), there is no doubt that Blank Realm is deserved of high praise and prized support slots. Hell – don’t be surprised if the tides turn; this album has the bent swagger to warrant headline turns. A brilliant record. Grab Go Easy here, here, or pre-order here.

Blank Realm – Cleaning Up My Mess
Blank Realm – Growing Inside
Blank Realm – Go Easy

Faspeedelay Offer Skittish Atmospherics With Ghost On The Waterfront

Last year I got to see exciting Melbourne instrumental trio Faspeedelay do a show at the Waiting Room in Brisbane as part of a Ghost Notes vinyl launch (The Scrapes also played – it was a great lineup). Faspeedelay offer up the kind of asymmetrical, rhythmic sonics that are often found wanting in other instrumental rock bands – these guys are more steeped in the experimental noise side of things, preferring references of post-punkers like Wipers and Gang of Four rather than the quiet/loud dynamism of the Mogwais and Monos of the genre.

And now we can revel in the release of their debut LP Ghost On The Waterfront, - seven tracks of wiry, combustible energy and serrated time signatures. I especially like opener 'Goat Dance', the skitter and swirl of 'Don’t Let Me Go' and the understated atmospherics of 'In The Zone'. Faspeedelay insist that the listener invests time in their music – and if you oblige, you will be rewarded with a heady, cerebral mind melt with the mother lode of payoffs.

You can glean Ghost On The Waterfront (out through Audio Actions) here.

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Blase Histrionics & Cacophonous Vibes - Two Weeks Of Scott & Charlene's Wedding

Last year was absolutely stellar for Aussie rock albums, whether they were narcissistic (Slug Guts, Spinning Rooms), or narcoleptic (Bitch Prefect, Pageants). Possibly at the top of the heap was Craig Dermody AKA Scott & Charlene's Wedding. Starting with the struggling ne'er-do-well in 'Gammy Leg', the ambling spirit of Para Vista Social Club which also graced the excellent split record with fellow Australian slackers Peak Twins. It's Dermody's scratchy, blase observations of the minutiae of Australian life that elevates his music, which continues onwards even after he has moved to New York. The bare-bones honesty is endearing and relatable, as can be seen on the title track to his about-to-be-released mini-album (through Critical Heights), Two Weeks. There are only a couple of new tracks on here, but with a new album in the wings we won't have long to hear how the misplaced Dermody views life in the Big Apple. Odds on, its same shit, different day. Hopefully that leg of his has healed...

Scott & Charlene's Wedding - Two Weeks

A Godly Triptych

Carrying on with the wordly connections, Im linking three acts that all aspire to connect with God (well, have God in their name somewhere...)

First up is another MUZAI alumni and SM faves God Bows To Math. Now whilst a new album is a little while off, on the cusp of New Years' the dissonant trio dropped a single, a barbed taste of things to come. 'The Only Good Fnord Is A Dead Fnord' is as strong a nihilistic diatribe driven by wanton bursts of noise as anything the boys have put to tape, which only heightens the expectations for whatever releases are in store throughout 2013 - and seeing as they have ten releases on various formats and guises over the past three years, there could be a few.

God Bows To Math - The Only Good Fnord Is A Dead Fnord

Another SM-endorsed label, UK's Gravy Records, is preparing to release (along with Distorted Tapes) Wolverhampton trio God Damn's I'm A Lazer, You're A Radar single. Its abrasive, silly, raucous, and fully of grungey hooks and hairy brethren. Expect much in the way of sweat, maniacal grins and tinnitus.

And back to Brisbane with Extrafoxx. Now I haven't mentioned Conwae Burrell's home recorded output much, yet this crackedc guitar pop has provided some great live experiences for me over the past couple of years, so when Love Is God came out last month it was something that I needed to have in my life. Ten lo-fi reflections on a lysergic, drunken Queensland existence, Love Is God is imbued with hooks and melodies that belie the laidback nature with which they are delivered. Well worth the visit.

A Double Dose Of Urinary Confection

It's not often that you get excited about the act of urination - well, I DON'T, I can't speak for you - but today I have been listening to not one but TWO albums by bands enamoured with pissing.

Pissed Jeans have lain a bit quiet for a while, which isn't like those misogynist bastards (although the Sam Kinison Woman 7" with 'The L Word' featuring Brendan Suppression was awesome). Yet 2013 promises to be all about the Philly four-piece as they release the nihilistic Honeys on Subpop. It could very well be the best album they have put out - there is the gnashing of teeth, Jesus Lizard-whisperer 'You're Different (In Person)', the laconic crawl of 'Cafeteria Food' or the breakneck nihilism of ‘Bathroom Laughter’. Brad Fry is in scintillating form on guitar duties here, and vocal shredder Matt Korvette is in brilliant lyrical mode too. It all adds up to another demonic ball-tearer that inexplicably infused with killer hooks amongst the dirge and debris. No one know how this works, or why – just be thankful it does.

If you preorder now, you can get a T-shirt bundle and go into the running to get the record in orange vinyl AND a 7" of some of their long-lost first demos!

Pissed Jeans - Bathroom Laughter
Pissed Jeans - Cathouse

Now I thought the name Pissed Jeans was disconcerting - that is until Benjii from MUZAI Records sent me the second LP from Auckland band Girls Pissing On Girls Pissing. Their music fits their moniker too - offputting, disturbing, morbid, perverse, and (for some) extremely attractive. Eeling is the kind of record that crawls inside your every pore, lays eggs and hatches inside you. Painful and horrifying, yet indelibly a part of you from that point on. Cronenberg for the aural masses. This four-piece (two boys and two girls, just so that you know gender plays no part in these depravities) weave nightmarish visions at a funereal pace. You might hear some primitive post-punk in there; some subliminal hardcore; some hypnotic rhythms of unease a la My Disco; some feverish rails a la the defunct Snowman. Eeling is a dark wonder, a disturbed revelation, a manifesto for the people under the stairs, gimp suit and all.

Dose yourself in piss.

Girls Pissing On Girls Pissing - Fingers Down The Throat Of Love

Monday 28 January 2013

Haunted Party Tapes Will Catch You A Ghostly Death

Whilst Death Cassettes aren't the first band to send me something to listen to in 2013 - I'm still trawling through 700+ emails - they were the first ones to grab me. Their Ghost Party EP is six songs of solid gold. The Viriginian band have a an immediacy, inhabiting the garage rock format that SF alumni Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall make their bread and butter, yet with a laconic, slacker vibe that bands closer to home can identify with. So where faster paced tracks like 'I Don't Care' are great albeit interchangeable with any number of great garage rock bands of 2012, the slack-jawed amble of 'The Fool' and 'Upset' offers another sardonic edge. Usually when bands of this ilk take their foot off the pedal their focus shifts - with Death Cassettes, you feel even more at home. They claim Jay Reatard and SM faves Spook Houses as reference points - enough said. A promising introduction indeed.

Head to their Bandcamp to get Ghost Party - it's free, and really really good.

Death Cassettes - Stereo Spell
Death Cassettes - The Fool

Sunday 27 January 2013

Dead Angels and Black Meadows As We Wash Into The Sea...

This week the announcement of new albums from two of the world's premiere psych rock bands hit the streets, and it would be remiss of me not to shine considerable light on them both - especially as these bands have the tinge of the Apocalypse about them, with their search for the greater realms and all, and seeing as its getting all environmentally apocalyptic here in Brisbane, it is befitting to use these guys as the soundtrack to our demise...

Firstly, I have writ large on my love of Texans The Black Angels throughout these "illustrious" pages - the fact that their set at a hail-plagued and frankly underwhelming Harvest Festival this year was a clear highlight that their effect over me is far from diminished. The fact that their guitarist Christian Bland is responsible for one of the best curated festivals on the planet, the Austin Psych Fest, ups the ante. The fact that they accepted SM local faves Dreamtime to join the fray this year is cherry on top. So the announcement of Indigo Meadow, The Black Angels' fourth longplayer, piqued my interest no end. The first taste comes in the form of 'Don't Play With Guns', which is not about the Aurora Colorado Dark Knight shootings, but could very well be.

“Our music has always tried to shed light on issues that may be hard to deal with or confront,” says singer/multi-instrumentalist Alex Maas. “If people think they can ignore the issues they are wrong. Don't play with guns, don't touch a hot stove, don't give your child a poisonous snake, don't turn the cheek when artists are willing to discuss these issues. In ‘Don't Play With Guns’ the antagonist is a female who has the power of persuasion over a man,” he continues. “Substitute the female antagonist with a Nation, substitute the manipulated man with yourself. Heed the warning: Don't Play With Guns.”

We mustn't get too carried away - this is a psych band that loooooove getting high - but their notions are spot on here, and the song is true BA black magic.
Trek to the West Coast though, and you find a band equally as adept at wielding the dark, chugging death rattle of psychedelic dirge. Los Angeles' Dead Meadow are resurfacing after a break in creative output (2010's The Three Kings was an exhaustive trip, albeit one bristling with darkly rich undercurrents), prepping a double LP to be titled Warble Womb (put out by Xemu Records). This is doubly exciting seeing as it marks the first album to feature returning original member and contributing songwriter Mark Laughlin (drums) since 2001’s Howls From The Hills. The reunited original trio of Laughlin, Jason Simon (guitar/vocals) and Steven Kille (bass) released the following statement on the new material. “The new material will strike many as a return to the heavier side of our first albums. However, it still retains a good deal of the psych-pop element that was more prominent on our Matador Records releases. The way Warble Womb came out, we are viewing it as almost a follow-up to Howls from the Hills.”

Hole. E. Shit. Colour me all kinds of LSD-induced excited. Now as long as I ride this wild weather out...

3 Years Of Spinning Rooms and Waking In Fright

Planet Masala disappeared behind an ash cloud for a couple months there. Its sole inhabitant busy with trekking the darker corridors of Europe, eating, drinking and laughing maniacally, having the time of my life with friends and lovers away from my actual life. Unfortunately it all came to pass - in a painful reminder of reality too, as what was thought to be a bout of indigestion ended up with a week of agony, bile drooling and a removed gall bladder. But we are back! I thought of starting this, the 3rd year anniversary of Sonic Masala, with something special - a look back at favourite articles, interviews, emails, songs, records, barbed retorts, death threats. Even fixing up what my fave albums of 2012 would suffice.

But no. I'm moving on up, and so should you.

Although choosing this as my first slice of life after a couple months off is more about desperately diving into the dirt rather than soaring for the sun. Melbourne's purveyors of small town despair The Spinning Rooms released one of the sweatiest, feverish, paranoid killers at the tail end of last year with their eponymous debut (recorded by The Nation Blue/Harmony's Tom Lyngcoln), and it is pure schizophrenic epiphany. I wrote favourably about it a couple weeks ago for The Music - check out that review here - but all I'll say is that this is the real aural equivalent of an Aussie suburban horror. Slug Guts be damned - these boys understand fear and depravity (and the true sinuous power of the saxophone), whether they want to or not. Shit just got real.

You can - nay, must - get The Spinning Rooms here. I aim to see these punks this year, even if I have to unleash them on Brisbane myself. Stay tuned.