Sunday 24 February 2013

Hits From The Box #60 - Rewriting History, One Phantasm At A Time


I watched Don Coscarelli's 1979 horror Phantasm for the first time today. I can't believe it's taken me so long. Sure, it doesn't make all that much sense, and the acting from the guy who plays Jody is one of the worst I've ever seen, but that kind of Italian-style horror, with a fair bit of humour thrown in, is right up my alley. And all for chips! There are lots of cool moments, created by a guy who loves having fun with his craft. I also watched Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained for the first time. Worlds apart in many respects, but also the similarities (violence and gore, lashings of humour, abject love of the artform) really struck me as I left the cinema. And I have come home to write tonight's Hits From The Box, and whilst I really liked both films, it's that sense of adventure, of creativity, of taking a chance, that has really stuck with me. And I enjoy that when I see that in bands too. And tonight, here are six acts that have impressed me for their craft this week...


Plant Parenthood is a band from Knoxville Tennessee that delves into the rougher, lower end of riff-heavy guitar rock that duos like JEFF The Brotherhood and Japandroids revel in. Their latest cassette, Sick Summer Vol. 2, is filled with that laconic, flailing, silly rock that makes you want to scull a beer, throw the dregs up in the air, let it hit you like fat drops of rain and not even notice how sticky that shit is, that's how blissfully happy and young (feeling) you are. Then there is 'Transit Town', another track they have put out - and it shits all over what is on this cassette. That warbling racket over the phone-recorded guitar strum - the drawled/shouted vocals - the innate warmth and potential singalong lyrics - it's rife with teenage touchstones. That said, no one around here is still in adolescence, so to tap into those notions without being manipulative or - well, shit - is a rare achievement. I like this, and hope they continue to rise. Get the cassette here, and listen (incessantly) to 'Transit Town' below.



I received an email about NY duo Trabajo waaaaaay back (like in July last year), yet I let it slip through my fingers - until I stumbled across their self-titled EP last week. Accidents happen, and like the four tracks on offer, they can reap unexpected rewards. Heavy on the experimental sampling and electronics, with vocals that straddle New Age stargazing and noise nonsense, the artificial Eastern beats inherent in tracks like 'Monk' are hypnotic and with a heady pinch of fun added. These tracks are made for headphones too - not like ANYTHING is made for laptop speakers, but Trabajo really grabbed me when I could differentiate all the different elements at play. NB - as I was researching the band I discovered they had released a new EP this month called Gamelan To The Love God - and it's infinitely better. This duo are doing some really creative, immersive and fun experiments with their format - I really wish they were a Brisbane band actually, that's how much I want to see them play this stuff live...


Let's head to Fort Wayne, Indiana now, where sonic travellers Heaven's Gateway Drugs call their spiritual plateau. They have released a pretty decent cassette in CPF, five tracks of mostly short slices of scorched, melodic psych meanderings, hovering between 60s bohemia and 70s blacktop swagger. So far, so Black Angels then (especially on something like 'Psychic Firearm'). Well, there's nothing wrong with that in my opinion - especially if it's done well. The selling point? The rabble chorus that hovers in the background of some of the tracks, most notably on 'Highway Hypnosis'. And that their press release claims there are six members of the band - the five musicians, "and you". I'm with you on this one fair wayfarers.



Now you think July last year was a long time coming? Try May, which is when NZ band Teen Fortress sent me their record Tepid Vapid Callow. The home project of Zach Doney (he of Bang Bang Eche infamy), the Christchurch native has a cross-pollination of emotive Bright Eyes vocals (well, sounds a bit like Conor Oberst) with the grittier, industrial town of angry, angular pop that the UK have always pumped out at regular intervals, all swimming in a petri dish of malaise, anguish, and awkward emotion that teeters on a knife's edge between hilarity and morbidity. I'm a massive fan of the music that is bubbling and boiling on the Island of the Long White Cloud - this is just another example (although Doney is moving to Melbourne soon - so like everything else from NZ that "makes it", Aussies can claim him soon too). Grab the record here.


Brooklyn duo Steel Phantoms actually got in contact with me a while ago too about their Forer EP, but I only officially cottoned on with their current release Curtain Call/Friend To Friend. I can't tell you why - maybe its that guitar sound, and Aaron Harris (of Islands' fame) nasally vocals - but I can't get early Walkmen out of my head when I hear 'Curtain Call', albeit with more urgency when the crunching chorus comes to a head. There are a few tempo changes here, but it all develops into a soaring track that easily beats everything on what stands on their previous release (which is a little slower and "mature" - not a bad thing, but the paring down to a two-piece seems to have made the world of difference). If you want to find out yourself, head over here to get Forer AND the single, make your own assumptions. I'm sure we'll end up on the same page. 


Let's end with (a) Wedding Favor then, shall we? Wedding Favor is Philly artist Robert Perkins, who was planning to have his eleven-track LP Solitaries/Tanglements out by the end of January on Magic Death Records. I'm not sure if this has actually happened or not - I haven't been able to get back to him, nor have I found in available at the label - but if these two tracks are anything to go by, this is quintessential bedroom meanderings that echo the warbled scratchings of early Beach Fossils, but with a heavier focus on country and clear reverbed vocals (almost unheard of in this day and age, amirite?) These two tracks are cold but without being distant; the sonorous guitar echoing like a steel guitar on the side of a deserted highway on dusk, played by a youthful King Dude with Dean Wareham in support. These two tracks alone have me actually very excited to hear the entire album. And when I do, you will be the first to know. Until then - get the Wedding Favor itch... 

Happy Sunday...boooooooooooooy!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous15/4/13 22:11

    FYI, wedding Favor posted the full album. Released 21 March 2013