Wednesday 31 July 2013

Cadell's Melting Away

In today's Hits From The Box I spoke about Fatti Frances's Sweaty, put out by Australia's underground pushers Wood & Wire (a subsidiary of New Weird Australia). Here is another album that has made their hallowed halls, and in my opinion it's even better. As one half of Brisbane's improvisational duo The Scrapes and occasional violinist for Nikko, Adam Cadell is a virtuoso who can do anything. He's currently residing in Ghana, continuing to look for transcendence in music. Here he puts out a release called 'Til It All Melts Away. The more he moves away into the wilderness, though, Cadell has found himself embracing the synthetic, with the four tracks showing an electronic edge that adds to its alienation and urgency. Swaying from haunting meditations to cacophonous maelstroms without end, 'Til It All Melts Away takes the violin, bends it into distorted contortions, and throws it to the wind. It's breathtaking.

You can get the tracks here.

Hits From The Box #68 - Ballin'

So I coach under 16s high school basketball. It's my second year doing it, and so far my teams across two seasons remain undefeated. I can't claim to being a tactical genius in the manner of someone who analyses the NBA religiously - I thought the Hornets still resided in Charlotte until the beginning of this year. Still, my "unorthodox" practices (which pretty much means making plays up as I watch a game) has paid off in spades. Coach Carter ain't got nothin on me.

Enough trash. I'm tired of dunking all damn day. Let's hit the box, see what we find...

Whilst they might claim to have Dinosaur Jr and Pavement in their genes, Birmingham duo Heavy Waves have other more contemporary bands on their mind, such as Japandroids and the scuzzier moments of JEFF The Brotherhood. Their bio lists about a hundred other reference points, but suffice to say that ‘No Good’ has all the angst, the noise, and the inherent boozy party vibes to smash around and celebrate in rock. Anthemic in liberal distorted doses, Heavy Waves’ upcoming EP comes hotly anticipated.

For nearly two decades Per Nyström has been hiding in bands like The Concretes, Mackaper, Diagnos and Monster. Yet his instrumental altruisms are far more eclectic than these bands might attest, and Nattarbete perfectly encapsulates the minimalist hamster-wheel that Nyström wilfully employs that rolls in the interstellar innerspaces, under the hardwire floorboards, and impregnates the synapses. It's at once plaintive, sinuous, seductive and playful, and it's keyboard heaven. You can get the cassette here.

Time Hitler & The Assholes From Space - seriously? Out of all the names in the world, real and imagined, this is what this Pennsylvanian garage band settled on. Yet these guys know what they are doing - the languid approach to warbled rock psychedelia that is laid out on their Wild &Willing album is damn impressive. The five piece, self-described assholes (and who am I to argue?) may claim to come form a parallel universe to revive all things sacred in rock n roll, and there are enough bizarre intrusions here to suggest that not is all as it seems, yet Wild & Willing is a classicist garage psych behemoth, a fun menagerie of big chords, hollered vocals, the hefty waft of marijuana and copious amounts of sweat and booze, all instilled in a sonic package for your easy consumption. Tune in, drop out, jazz up, rock out.

From the excellently eclectic halls of Wood & Wire comes Sweaty, six shards of queasy, feverish electronic shivers from Melbourne-based drummer extraordinaire and newly-minted experimental RnB producer Raquel Solier AKA Fatti Frances. Wanting to take dancefloor bangers that idols Missy Elliott pumps out and combine with pastoral yet evocative songwriting (she quotes both Karen Carpenter and Scott Walker in her bio), Fatti Frances achieves something of a quivering, heaving hybrid of overt sexual come-ons and coy musings, all the while manipulating sound into an electronic vacuum of stutters and uncertainty. Its an alluring mix, and one that deserves far greater attention. You can get all sweaty with Sweaty here.

Another bedroom release is this four-track cassette from New York band Amadels, and it is pretty rad. There is next to nothing I know about this band, other than it comes out on Sunday Fir (as does Acid Glasses) and that it has a dangerous link to casual sleaze, sun and narcolepsy. It does have that bedroom scuzz on its shoes, but there is something warm trickling from the pores of these tracks that mesmerises. And they were about to play their first show on next Thursday except it's now been cancelled. That's right - THEIR FIRST SHOW. And it's now cancelled. That means they haven't played yet. Fuck me.

Yet another cracker band from the Exploding In Sound stable, Boston’s Kal Marks has drifted into the oncoming traffic of driving slacker rock on their sophomore LP Life Is Murder (which both Sophomore Lounge and Midnight Werewolf are also distributing), and its an impressive dig. Musically this album slays, at stages almost bringing things to a sludgy grind even as the rhythm section pushes things into sprinting paces. Some will struggle with Carl Shane's curled, pitched vocals (think Devendra Banhart gargling marbles), but give it enough space (as this is also a pretty full on record lyrically, focusing primarily on depression and keeping shit together) and it will knock you over (especially the torn lyricism on songs like 'All I Want In Life Is A Solid Porch'). It doesn't grab me as quickly as Pile's Dripping album of last year - but these guys are running the same lines, which is an eminently great thing. Grab it here.


Merchandise For Disgruntled Dads

I have been intending to write about Totale Nite, the second official LP from Tampa brooding weirdniks Merchandise, since it came out a few months ago. It's been interesting (and at times frustrating) seeing this band develop over time - the band members having come from some nihilistic hardcore bands of the region (especially Cult Ritual and Neon Blud), some were perplexed and angered by Merchandise's first release, the EP (Strange Songs) In The Dark (we thought differently, and it made it onto my 2010 best of list). That said, their jerky shifts from release to release has irked also (and unfortunately I fall under this umbrella), as Children of Desire stripped things bare  yet stole the vulnerability that made Strange Songs such an entrancing concept, eschewing everything to smash into a punkier realm, adding adamantium to those skeletal remains which seemed to defy the successes of their beginnings. Totale Nite is yet another transmogrification, but here they continue to float farther from the genesis with more direction and purpose. These songs stretch well beyond breaking point, and the post-punk/free-jazz mash provides many intriguing, exciting (even sensual) delights - this is Smiths/Joy Division adulation times 100. You can't help but wonder if Merchandise have been, and continue to, take the piss - difficult to gauge if this is a true harbinger of musical greatness in evolution, or a social experiment. Which has me liking Totale Nite even more - and more willing to embrace those efforts I found wanting. Still - Strange Songs rules hard. Night-People are responsible for putting Totale Nite out - grab it here.

Now I wouldn't have written all that if it wasn't for Dads. Not your dad (although he is alright), but the new Tampa band that features Merchandise' Carson Cox and Patrick Brady. This is a more abrasive endeavour, harking closer to those burgeoning roots of the likes of the plethora of Dischord Records acolytes than Merchandise will ever traverse. They are still a relatively obscure concept, forgoing much in the way of backstory or media connection (as is Merchandise, which is valiant but does bug me a bit - unfortunately I too must see myself as part of the "written scourge"). Yet Dads is a much more hammer-and-tongs visceral experience, another act to dip their wicks in the waters of 90s rock angularity, and the Invisible Blouse 7" (out through Wharf Cat Records) is a shotgun-blast gem. Whilst their self-released and recorded LP Brown On Brown (recorded in their garage) will get a reissue also, that will seem like a prologue, as Invisible Blouse is leaps ahead in fidelity and kinetics. Whilst Merchandise is an exercise in exploring pop rigour through interesting compositions and genre melds, Dads is all about the purge - and I couldn't be happier. You can get Invisible Blouse here.

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Barry Marvin

Man, I love AfricanTape Records' propensity for finding raucous, bombastic, intricate and anthemic instrumental rock bands. The latest band in their ranks to pump out an album (previous highlights have been Electric Electric and Papier Tigre) is Marvin - from Montpelier in France. Fuck, yes - brutally frenetic electro-punk algorithms that also incorporates the occasional 80s guitar lick, just to add pomp to the intensity. Imagine if Civil Civic were a bit more serious and had John Stanier on drums who isn't impervious to riding the cowbell - that's what Barry represents. Its relentless, and relentlessly awesome.

You can buy Barry on vinyl (through both AfricanTape and Sick Room Records) here.

Broken Down By The Paint Fumes

I've started writing a post about Charlotte gutter punks Paint Fumes' Uck Life LP (put out by equally brazen label Slovenly Records) about five times over the year, and for whatever reason it has filtered down to the sea bed of my disorganisation. Then a fortnight ago I found out that member Elijah Von Cramon had been hit by a car in February, seriously injuring him and effectively ending a tour to support the album (although surely he could have found punk dives with wheelchair access...) so if I didn't finish this fucking post I would be a karmic leper, so here it is.

Uck Life is a balltearer from start to finish. It may show moments of deviation, like the psych squall that drives the title track, yet even that is accelerated to speed freak proportions. This is brazen rock n roll, as lurid, silly and urgent as can be, and the tightness of the band is emulated by the longevity of the band's staying power - this record is insatiable!

Buy Uck Life here. You can help out with Elijah's recovery (because US healthcare is the goddamn worst) by donating some scratch here - incentives include all their releases and other paraphernalia. There is also a tribute CD (with SM faves Spider Bags and Last Year's Men amongst the eighteen bands contributing) you can grab here. He is walking again, but has a bit of a road ahead. Godspeed.

Paint Fumes - Space Cadet
Paint Fumes - Uck Life

Circling Purposeful Yet Vacant Discoveries

Local angular avant pub rock band Per Purpose continue their amorphous sonic journey with the imminent release of new LP Circle The Stains (which will be meted out by Bedroom Suck). But to pre-empt it, they have Eureka, a cassette put out by the excellent Vacant Valley. Whilst their no-wave aspersions and Drones-esque meanderings have burst out and faded away, the cassette here (featuring only the one song 'Eureka' that was recorded during the Circle The Stains sessions) evokes an affinity with stream-of-consciousness, bilious offloads; head tilted with internal weight and anguish before its inexorable sink to the floor, guitars skirmishing at close quarters on a capsizing liner, bass riding up and down ridges with dexterity and flair, trying to hold everything together even as each note threatens to crumble, the drums cascading down like ferrous sparks. Glen Schenau's vocals are desperate, insidious, possessive, ripped rather than spat out. This cankerous fever dream coalesces into a instrumental outro of stoic unity that marches into the sea, a true tour de force.The deliberate dishevelled nature of the composition heralds an ever-evolving creative force, which only heightens the expectations of Circle The Stains.

You can grab Eureka here. Then go pre-order the album here.

Monday 29 July 2013

Whirling In A Nameless Grave

I saw London band A Grave With No Name at the Lexington in London back in 2009 - the only time I have seen them, actually. The fact I remember nothing about the set is telling. I had gone in being a fan of their new debut record Mountain Debris, and left underwhelmed. But then again, this happens; I saw Yuck play the same venue, and Real Estate, and have since seen them in totally different circumstances (and more performance time under their belts). So it seems with the duo; four years and three albums in, they appear to be mining deeper into the vein of shoegaze minimalism (that sounds impossible, right?), drifting into the slipstream of the likes of Dignan Porch and Youth Lagoon (who they're currently touring Europe with). More dream pop than wall of distorted emotion, yet the crescendos still lick at the corners here. There is enough here on initial listens to ensure that A Grave With No Name rises from the dead - at least for me.

Whirlpool (on Lefse Records) is out now, get it here.

A Grave With No Name - Aurora
A Grave With No Name - Dig Me Out

Sunday 28 July 2013

Flowering In The Fog

A very short post to kickstart this Sunday - another song from Greek dreamers Plastic Flowers. This one, 'Fog Song', is just as beautifully opaque. I can't wait to hear a full release from these guys - dive into the fog.

Saturday 27 July 2013

Turning Corners with Jenny and Purple Shadows

Lilac Shadow's 'Turn it off' starts like it wants to be your dog... please? It piles things on top of things to show it's serious. It shows you it's got a bit of something behind its bark. "I might be playful now', it says, 'but I still remember that time I spent in the pound. I can't turn it off."
Jenny Besetzt's 'Dennison Corners' has space to ring into. Slow and ordered like a line a foam along coral; bleached coral. It will sit, waiting for something to bounce back from some distant morrow, ringing blue in your soul.

A fantastic little split seven here from DiggUp Tapes. Get your mits on it here.

Damn Terran Don't Lose Restraint...yet

There is a part in the filmclip to Damn Terran's new single 'Lost' where the soapy dyed water looks like a top down MRI of a brain and eyeball. That kind of sums it up for me. Still singular in their aims but kind of a cleaned-up a bit. Thinking person's rock; still slippery in parts.

I must admit, though, it frustrated me at first. There is a chord change early on which hints that this one might push the gain through the roof. It remains but a hint. This track is an effort of far more restraint. More the leaning against the wall after everything has caught up with you, less climbing the bar, demanding people, henceforth, refer to you only as DDP. But on a second listen, that second verse grabbed me. It wasn't the lyrics, it was that tone - what a voice. There is something lurking behind this. I have a feeling that, live, any pretense of it holding back won't last past the chord change. Diamond Cutter!

You can get a hold on 'Lost' here and tickets to the show at Liberty Social, August 14 (with the mighty Violent Soho here.

Friday 26 July 2013

Friday Cover Up - Fresh Lilys

Here's a bit of a throwback. Sonic Masala was conceived at My Bloody Valentine curated ATP festival Nightmare Before Christmas back in 2009. One of the bands (and there were goddamn many) that I was blessed to catch that weekend was Lilys, the 90s DC dream pop outfit that missed out on much in the way of adulation despite their inherent cracked brilliance and obvious influences. A couple months ago a compilation came out of early Lilys classics called And I Forgot A Long Time Ago How You Feel,  and it included covers from up-and-coming acts handpicked by the Clicky Click Music Blog. Many of these bands have actually graced the hallowed halls of Sonic Masala over the years, such as Lubec, White Laces and Soccer Mom. Another band to lend their talents, Speedy Ortiz, is blowing up due to the hype surrounding their latest LP Major Arcana (you will hear more of this soon). On here they tackle 'The Hermit Crab' - and it takes me back. You can get the comp for free here. Enjoy.

Speedy Ortiz - The Hermit Crab (Lilys cover)

SCRATCHIN' ROUND - Wire Faces, We Were Heads, The Dead Heads

Most people consider the head a pretty important part of the anatomy. I happen to agree. Imagine how shit the ending to Se7en would have been without heads. Imagine how much less scary Sleepy Hollow would be. Imagine if the Black Knight hadn't remained undefeated. Anyway, here's a heads up about a few bands who found their way into mine.

Wire Faces have made a frenetic album with King Cataract. Desperate vocals counter lunging bass somewhere on the post-punk dancefloor. They roll together over fissures, marched along by refreshingly live drums, all flecked through with the sometimes lulling, sometimes needling, guitars. You gotta believe that this is an album worth listening to the whole way through - like a face you see something new in each time you look.

We Were Heads take to loosening their collars. Bathed in red light emanating from some cellophane covered lamp, they jump, cramp and crunch themselves through till the early morning. Why would you wanna go to the beach when your object of admiration just dyed their hair? Why let waves dump you when you can drink too many beers and hope one day he or she might? There will always be people to carry you home as you roll around on your shoulders. Yeah!

This is What's Happening in Sydney: people are standing around wearing mullets and old jumpers. 'Fuck yeah,' I say. Especially when they are making heartfelt, suburban bedroomite pop. There are some great sensibilities on show here (with a few non-too subtle nods to predecessors along the way). There's also three outros, the third bearing the great name '13 minutes of breakdown'. The whole album funnels lethargy through dreams and kind of waits to see what comes out.

The Dead Heads have a real heart on 'Winnie Blues rolled up in sleeve' feel to them - like they would keep doing the same thing even if nobody ever listened to them. Regardless, I will be giving this a few more spins. Business at the front, party at the back, the Dead Heads are crowned somewhere between the two.

Head over to any of the bandcamp sites to order a mystery box delivered to your front door (or inbox).

Getting Boned, Just To Feel Something

I know next to nothing about Melbourne band Bone. I was sent a couple tracks from their forthcoming album For Want Of Feeling by a friend from the band Nikko. And holy shit. I know I gushed about Batpiss' debut LP Nuclear Winter (and I still think its a stellar release - with an interview to come, we here at Sonic Masala HQ will be harping on about it for some time), and these tracks immediately had me reaching those teeth-gnashing heights. This is dirge, gruelling, bulldozer-relentless. Jesus Lizard/My Disco/Kong - repetition, bottom end, bottom fed. Depressive yet undeniably powerful - moving mountains under great duress and monotonous chagrin, only to move them back again, ad infinitum. I really need to know what grit these boys are huffing down; we all need a little metronomic evil in our lives.

I was going to post about For Want Of Feeling yesterday, but as luck would have it Shaun Tenzenmen sent me a line to tell me that Bone is wrapped up in the Tenzenmen fold  - it'll be out in August at any rate. Any and all info to add to this, please comment below - I needs to get more Bone. Hopefully they make it up here in the next month or so.

Here is an excellent EP they released in 2009. How Face Prison didn't kill a few thousand men on its way to the top of the body-strewn top is beyond me.

Thursday 25 July 2013

Shocked Out Of Mind

Remember the Carbonas? The Atlanta ruff punx formed around the time the Twin Towers came down, and proceed to jerk and stutter erratically through three albums and a plethora of smash vertebrae and craniums. There was no way such a combustible force could stay intact, and sure enough the band dissolved to form other, equally cool bands (such as Gentlemen Jesse and GG King). Yet when the boys reformed in 2011 for a few shows it seemed like something was afoot. Unfortunately it wasn't a new Carbonas record, but Josh Martin and Dave Rahn felt the magic in their loins - and joining with Jeremy Thompson (of the excellent GAMES), Shocked Minds was born. They are releasing their eponymous debut on Hozac Records - rough, raucous, passionate, sleazy, rambunctious, and somehow sincere as well - no pretentions here. Their heart is spiked on the jagged edges of 70s punk, yet the tonal snarl is more reminiscent of European discontent rather than the American counterparts. Tight, powerful (even painfully so) - this is an excellent example of how punks can be classicist without stealing; can be angry without posing; can be fun whilst also confronting. Like the best punks, they're a good bunch at their core - just don't look at them sideways.

Shocked Minds can be grabbed here. And you should - it's fucking killer.

Shocked Minds - Confusion
Shocked Minds - You Want Me To Stay

Hits From The Box #67 - Living In (And Out Of) Splendour

It's been an interesting week here on Planet Masala - Masters graduations, traffic violations, basketball tribulations, and Running adulation. But now I have only one thing on my mind - Splendour In The Grass. It must be said that I don't hold it up as a stellar line-up - it pips 2012, due to the inclusions of the likes of Frank Ocean (but where ISN'T this guy atm?), Violent Soho, The Drones (both Aussie acts you can see relatively often),Unknown Mortal Orchestra, FIDLAR, Portugal. The Man (finally back to form), The National, You Am I playing Sound As Ever and Hi Fi Way in their entirety... I'm more excited about seeing Bardo Pond in a week's time. That said, SITG is always a great time because it's almost like an alternate universe, where you either hang out with people you rarely get to, or have a great weekend with mates. And there are minimal hordes of dickheads (although last year's quota visibly rose - thanks Greg Bird).

Instead of celebrating these bands though (most of which you have all heard before), I thought I would get in some other acts, who aren't doing the rounds here in Aus, that deserve the limelight a lot more than some (I'm looking at you, Gallagher acolyte Jake Bugg...)

Mancunian rabble-rousers Temple Songs have a pretty cool little 7" called Passed Caring/Dinosaur Alley that I received in the mail last week, and I'm damn happy with it. Out through RIP Records, it's too psych garage stompers that somehow remain ramshackle without losing innate melody and warmth. They have golden Nuggets at their heart, hallucinogens in their travel bags, and with supports slots for the likes of Milk Maid, METZ and Sex Hands under their belt, have hit the quick line into heady rock heaven.

Back closer to home, we have Teenage Mothers. I'm sure there are pregnant 16 year olds all over the world, immaculate or otherwise, but these particular rapscallions hail from Melbourne. Wild, untamed, uninhibited - more like the fathers of said out-of-wedlock sprogs, Teenage Mothers have released a affidavit in the form of EP Mother Satan that underscores they are never going to be fit to date your daughter/sister/grandmother. Melding their punk with some goth undertones (listen to that wild organ!), and already with a mythical backstory involving drugs, theft, professional skateboarding, published novels and "kicking against the pricks", it's no wonder Jim Sclavunos (Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds/Grinderman) was drawn to record Mother Satan and their incumbent debut album. Keep your eyes on these loose cannons.

Let's head to Scotland now, where Edinburgh composer Matthew Collings is crafting some spectral audio hauntings for his album Splintered Instruments (out here on Fluid Audion Recordings). Single 'Vasilia' holds firm to its minimalist trappings, yet creates a vacuum where the slightest repetitive note becomes an oscillating oppression, a held breath, an unblinking stare. Its ominous nature builds in tension, perfectly encapsulating Collings' modus operandi - this is sound as brooding, sweat-inducing monochrome. His experiments continue to grow in interest and verve, with juxtaposition between space and noise and its incremental build the key. And with friends from Iceland (including the excellent ex-pat Ben Frost) in the background, Collings is on a dynamic path all his own.

Matthew Collings - Vasilia

Nathan wrote about the band Left & Right a few weeks ago - well from there we were referred on to New York band Lurve, and what a find! The trio travel down the corrugated iron well of reverbed guitar pop, before exploding in a Dinosaur wail of guitar noise especially on 'Simple Syrup' that takes us hurtling back into the 90s (I'm loving this revolution - constant reaffirmation how good a lot of the music was back then, just not given its dues!). Their hardcore background serves them well, and sees them in a tonal battleground where the likes of The Men and Milk Music stand at their shoulders, instruments at the ready. They have an album on the way - if someone doesn't snap these suckers up stat, then the world is a weird, woolly place indeed.

Heading back to the UK - Brighton to be exact - to meet up with Morning Smoke, who have an EP In Euphoria coming out in a few months. The two tasters from it, the title track and 'DYWD', are goddamn tasty all right. These dudes are all under twenty, killing it, and hungry as fuck. They liken their sound to noise pop, yet whilst the harmonies echo throughout, this is much more in line with post-punk flecked rock, petulant at times, dark and uncompromising at others, but always with a devilish glint in the eye and a kick in the heel. The vocalist sounds a bit like Yannis from Foals at times (for better or worse) - but unless you make tenuous comparisons with that band's debut Antidotes, that's where the parallels end. Morning Smoke can be a little too earnest at times - they are most enjoyable when enjoying themselves in all factors of the songwriting process - but this is just the beginning. Prepare to be burnt to the emotional, nervy core.

Let's finish up with some scuzzy silliness courtesy of No Valley. Formerly known as Vacation, it's clear the honeymoon is over, with the band stuck in no man's land with only beaten up instruments, some sun rays and a few brain cells at their disposal. It's easy, it's cheap, it's gonna get you over the line - yet there are also slight colourations on the edge of this track to indicate No Valley aren't intend to remain this way, there are complexities and deviations to be made and built upon. Bookmarked.

No Valley - Charlie Don't Surf


Wednesday 24 July 2013

Feeding Cake to Bird Names

I went to my one-year-old niece's birthday party this weekend. There was a million kids (at rough estimate) running around eating cake in a giant sandpit. They were all constantly picking things up, shaking them, staring at them and laughing out of sheer joy. It mesmerized me. I had no idea what was going on in their heads. I feel the same way about Bird Names: they fascinate me. They strike me as never having lost that feeling of the awe in exploration and creation. You know the feeling, right? The one kids have until we learn them out of it. Don't despair though, the school of Bird Names is built from hand-made multi-coloured quilts, they have a class where kids can choose their own monikers - and everyone is allowed to eat cake!

You can get your icing-covered hands on an (individually painted!) copy here.

29 Cool Coughs

Philly dude Cough Cool brought out 29 on Bathetic Records last month (who are amazing, and if you haven't bought either the Lee Noble records or the Kwaidan one yet then you are a dunce), and its a beguiling behemoth of a record. Dan Svizney has chosen to imbue his melted pop transgressions with mechanical digressions, drum loop syncopations and that iconic reverbed vocal hush this time around, and rather than sending it spiralling on some incidental tangent, has fortified the penchant for hazy, half-formed thoughts, irksome inertia and sunlight stealing through the curtains. It steers enough away from the much furrowed ground of beach pop and bedroom etchings, finding itself in some po-faced purgatory between the two, and he fidgets in the ethereal waiting room, itching to get back out into the real world yet unsure what he'll do when he get there. He isn't moping about though - tracks like 'Misfits 4x4' or 'Disclosure' offer a sense of insistence that life is uncertain, so get on with it. Others like 'Intro To Regret' has a little more snarl about it - an insolent reverie that still doesn't have the cajones to come out and rough it. Which is OK, because we're all having fun, and that's the point, right? Plus those guitar lines should be on repeat for days like this. 20s are the new 20s.

You can buy 29 here - it's a great little record.

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Ethnic Running

Chicago's Running can't stick to the underground any longer - John Dwyer won't let them. The Thee Oh Sees mastermind has dragged them kicking and screaming (so I imagine, although who could resist?) to put out an album on his Castle Face Records, and it's predictably razor cutter abrasion and tear, no salve for the wounds, just superglue, suture and suck it up. Vaguely Ethnic continues Running's penchant for atonal noise, set on a carousel of unrelenting bile and room-tilting nausea, all done with a devilish derring-do that dares you to defy their misanthropic desires. Each song runs into each other, mirroring each other, chimeric destruction on a motorik conveyor belt into the maw of the Mind Melt. Vaguely Ethnic is Castle Face's Necronomicon, crafted from flayed eardrums and singed tongues, a cacophonous pill for the digital age - forget white noise when there are so much to be loved in the red.

Vaguely Ethnic - 2013's noise totem.

Running - This Is A You Problem

Getting Bent Outta Shape Over A Panel Of Experts

The Boston trio of Bent Shapes (nee Girlfriends circa '09) are shaking the boughs of expectation as the release date of their first LP of sonorous garage pop approaches, Feels Weird (out on Father/Daughter Records). The release of a couple of slices ('Behead Yrself Pt. 2' and 'Big Machines') showed that they had the chops and angular dexterity to jam-pack their punchy songs with enough sugar to bring about a brain freeze - as if Superchunk were the house band for Yo Gabba Gabba. They have a few shows coming up if you are in and around the Boston area (see below) - and if that weren't enough, here's an exclusive third bite at the cherry, with new track 'Panel of Judges':

You can pre-order Feels Weird here.

July 30 - Allston, MA - Great Scott (w/ The Love Language, Eternal Summers)
Aug 18 - Allston, MA - Great Scott (Record release show w/ Potty Mouth, Krill)

Yawning Without Guilt

Big Yawn are a duo out of Melbourne that delve deep into the darker, inflamed realms of electronic sentience. Their Hash Matters/Lowlite 7" (out now through Fallopian Tunes) is crafted to find the holes in the digital age and plug them with jagged ephemera and pummelling hypnosis. The band call themselves "electronic/doof/industrial/miscellaneous" - that should placate the pigeonholers, at least until they take a tab of Big Yawn. It becomes indecipherable static thereafter, of course - after all, the rest is noise. Or is it? It's the febrile mix of slight, layered abrasion and percussive asphyxiation that makes Big Yawn anything but.

Big Yawn are currently in Brisbane, having played a famed Real Bad show out at Moorooka on Sunday (alongside the likes of X In O, Screaming Match and Slurpee). Tonight they are playing at The Hideaway for Guilt Retreat #4, a 4ZZZ connected show (presented by Makeda from A Guilt/All Day Breakfast Enterprises, which is also featuring Sky Needle/6majik9's Michael Donnelly and the Fun Police DJs (AKA Brainbeau), so you know it will be sensational). You can buy Hash Matters/Lowlite here.

Monday 22 July 2013

Swim Deep For Your Crush

Just a quick closer for the day. Birmingham breezers Swim Deep are on the cusp of releasing their debut album Where The Heaven Are We. I've never been the biggest fan, yet neither have I written these kids off. Their music generally hits me as mirroring the sounds of Britpop for the 21st century, and there a myriad of acts flying that tattered flag. Nevertheless something grabbed me with their bonus track 'Crush' - maybe its the Stone Roses-esque sound (if you forget the one minute outro, which is more Kula Shaker - *shudder*). It's put me in a good mood after a fifteen hour shift, which is a mean feat indeed.

Take the Road with I, a Man

I saw I, a Man when they played in Brisbane last time they were up this way. I thought they were fucking fantastic. Layers like the maple leaves; different yellows on top of each other, crunching underfoot, letting you know you're going were no-one else has (at least not since yesterday). There is something like the seasons in 'Less Travelled'. At the root of it all a "trying to try", a commitment to the vague scenes we all find in front of us - morning air lolling through the holes in the corrugated iron, waking you and melting the Robert Frost.

You can catch them as they take the road in August: 16th at the Tote (Melb), 23rd at the Exeter (Adl), 29th at Brighton Up Bar (Syd) and 30th at Alhambra Lounge (Bris). The first couple of shows with Sincerely, Grizzly.

Holding Ides Forever In Prisms

Man, I've fallen hard for this song. Whilst Saturday was all about White Hills and Houndstooth, and Sunday was chilling on the Porch(es.) with Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk, I was always coming back to 'Prisms', the new single from Ides (AKA Alanna McArdle from Joanna Gruesome, who also have a new-ish track out) as part of Art Is Hard Records' Postcard Club. The step-up in production values (her earlier stuff is considerably lo-fi, and whilst the earnestness is evident, McArdle's power is somewhat muted) is a huge improvement, and instead of a maudlin curiosity we have a behemoth of heart wrenching capabilities. Think of Low's 'Laser Beam' from Things We Lost In The Fire - McArdle has that haunted delivery that Mimi Parker embodies, so when she sings It was over before it began you are lost at sea, never to return.

I seriously cannot explain how much this track has blindsided me. If Ides only launches this song before Joanna Gruesome swallows up McArdle whole, it won't matter - 'Prisms' is a minor masterpiece.

You can get 'Prisms' from AIH's Postcard Club here. Ides is playing the UK's B's (Bristol, Brighton, Bournemouth) in August and finishing up with the AIH festival in London August 31st.

VIDEO VACUUM - Low, That Fucking Tank, Magnets, Hibou

Monday can be a lonely kind of day. Regardless of what kind of a weekend you may have had, you end up trudging off back to work, as much as you may love it, and realise that you have five long days before you can do what you want once more. It's a strange way of living, but we are conditioned to it. Still, we all need to get through it. And here are four excellent videos that will surely help, at least for fifteen minutes...

One of the best cuts from Low's last record The Invisible Way, 'Clarence White', has received a video as part of's City of Music. Its a great track in that it showcases how brutally powerful the trio can be in their incredibly studied performances, and reinforces why they are one of my favourite bands.

I've always been a fan of Leeds/Bradford noisy spazzoids That Fucking Tank, so it isn't a surprise that I'm a fan of their latest track 'Making A Meal For Beethoven.' It's on their incumbent live LP A Document of the Last Set, due in September on Gringo Records as a gift, a "document" of their ten years' service to stupid noise. The video is a play on people pulling surreally distorted faces, something that fits the band as guitarist Andy Abbott constantly pulls lurid O faces as he kills it night after night. The duo are playing RECON Festival with Black Pus (Lightning Bolts' Brian Chippendale) in Leeds September 22nd - a fitting tribute, I'm sure you'll agree.

Staying in the UK (just a hop/skip/jump to deepest, darkest Kent) we encounter Magnets, a band whose influences (motorik pummelling, and references from This Will Destroy You and Sigur Ros to Sonic Youth and Slowdive) seem tailor-made for Sonic Masala. The four-piece are releasing their second EP on Something, Something Records, and if lead-in track 'Scatter' is anything to go by it should be something special. A complete bottoming out of a distorted track, the accompanying visuals plucked from the most intrinsic tropes of the psychedelic formula, 'Scatter' surprises in its hidden hooks, seemingly swallowed by the shoegaze wash before suddenly coming forth and burying deep within the ear. Can't wait to hear the rest.

Hibou caught my attention with his Dunes EP, and now follows up with this washed-out VHS vid for EP track 'Above Us'. It's 80s baiting beach montage set-up suits both the time (if in summer, let's get to the beach; if in winter, let's get warm) and the aesthetic Hibou is trying to create, a more introspective take on the beach-pop medium that actually sounds suited to the bedroom, staring out at the sun and the surf, wondering if now is the time to venture out into the world. The answer is yes.


Sunday 21 July 2013

Drinking Milk In Front Of Baby Birds Sets A Tone

I don't know if baby birds actually don't drink milk - I'm sure Wikipedia would set me straight on such a niche nugget of information - but I'm willing to take these guys' word on it. As Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk, the NY-via-Kansas trio craft insular, melancholy anti-pop tunes, eloquence in the twilight hours, echoing in the corners, licking at the shadows, a languorous buoyance on the slipstreams of idiosyncrasy. Think Tone is the second release the band have put out on the esteemed Fire Talk label, and whilst the flow of the album is a little haphazard (I personally would have broken up the excellent yet similar opening tracks 'What Am I Doing With My Life' and 'Saturday' with the ambient collage of 'KGB', for instance), it shows a level of quirk that sounds ramshackle but is carefully constructed and maintained - repeat listens prove this. Definitely worth checking out - this scratchy noise cloud is taking me off to bed. (Plus, with their song 'Let's Listen To Souvlaki And Make Out' BBDDM are hot contenders for song title of the year).

You can grab Think Tone here.

Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk - What Am I Doing With My Life
Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk - Saturday