Wednesday 23 July 2014

Video Vacuum - White Hex, Bremen Town Musician, USA Out Of Vietnam, Flyying Colours, Team Ugly

It certainly doesn't feel like the wisest time to be taking a long haul flight from Brisbane to London. But that is what I am about to do. That's right - from tomorrow the fair brunt of Sonic Masala will be based once more in England! Rest assured that the content will bear witness to a strong Australian confluence of music, because in my opinion it is the most interesting place in the world. But the world of Sonic Masala is a weird and wonderful place, that exists outside of geographical climes... No tears here, just beers. And music - a veritable shit tonne of music. So let's chill with some vids, starting with this Aussie "banger"...

Jimi Kritzler's new incarnation has been White Hex. Alongside Tara Green he has crafted some lush yet dark synth lurkers, and second album Gold Nights is pretty great (see a review I did earlier in the year here). The film clip to one of the best tracks on that album, 'Paradise', sees Kritzler and Green perform a home invasion unlike any other...Funny Games this ain't.

Marisa Allen's project Bremen Town Musician has always been an interesting prospect in the Brisbane music scene. I was lucky to get her to play one of the Campfire Tales sessions I held at The End in West End (that one was alongside Kahl Monticone), and she has contributed a track to a compilation I'm devising. 'In The Harsh Light Of Day' is fairly indicative of BTM's output, and the film clip, a washed out view of Brisbane's highways, fits strongly with the slightly unhinged meltdown quality of the song. Well worth checking out.

I'm loving USA Out Of Vietnam at the moment. They are like a more earnest Helms Alee, maybe crossed with post-rock's most uplifting? It's the big riffs, the somewhat colourful effects that are littered throughout, the heaviness and the light heart entwined. This isn't a film clip, I know, but I love this band and will be listening to this, Helms Alee AND Explosions in the Sky AND Do Make Say Think amongst others on the flight - my blissout flight mixtape...

Now I have to be honest here - I haven't been bowled over by the shoegaze efforts that Melbourne's Flyying Colours have offered thus far. I just think there are bands in Australia let alone the world that are doing it much better and not getting the recognition these guys are on the cusp of. But then this song came out, and the film clip accompanying it - and I'm not entirely redressing my thoughts, but this is a good counterattack. Perfectly calibrated editing mixing 70s space travel with a colour wheel, various elements of block design and faux-innocent TV bites - nice work. Not Today indeed.

And as a added final "bonus" here is a NZ band called Team Ugly. I met one of the guys at a Sonic Masala show, and have intended to mention his band for some time. Here is 'Suck My Dick'. I love the warped idiocy of this film clip - and the song isn't that bad either. I'm ASSUMING they are still together - it's been about eight months since I heard about em. Still - get a load of this.


No Longer Searching For Contrepoison

I used to have a lot of animosity towards the cult that seemed to rise around Cold Cave and the label coldwave. It seemed like such a cultured, deliberate style and system, without much soul – a meticulously created zeitgeist. Of course my interests were directed elsewhere at the time, namely drawn to the likes of Times New Viking and other lo-fi guitar pop wailers, so my opinions aren’t entirely objective (and I never claim them to be). But the desolation and seduction of the electronic act sounds less synthetic in an inauthentic sense to me, and has found some footholds in my recent musical fascinations, especially as I delve into the AVANT!, NNA and NNF label rosters.

 One guy that I have always found interesting however is Pierre-Marc Tremblay, AKA Contrepoison. His dark orchestral electronics seem balanced to take the hauntological tropes and fixations that some of these leather-clad heathens emblazon so desperately and bury them in a damaged soul. In fact, although I do love much of the output that LA wunderkinds Not Not Fun Records induce, there is a truer sense of purpose and soul in a Contrepoison release. Take in point I Keep On Searching, the recent EP to come out on AVANT! Records. For me the kicker is the one-two punch on the B-side of the title track and ‘Nectar of Destiny’ – the former an electronic swarm of burbling white noise out of the abyss, impassioned vocals echoing over the top, Gothic rocking in the foetal position, searching for enlightenment or avoiding madness, it all means the same; whilst the latter shows dappled light appearing through the broken heavens, a march to heaven or to purgatories unknown, Tremblay’s vocals a bastion to oblivion, the synth both uplifting and heartrending. The emotional core my change shape, a chimera of sensation, but it is there, and it’s that attachment that makes this EP a great release.

Grab I Keep On Searching here.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Fighting The Curlew Urges

Mark Zian has one of the most unique voices in Brisbane today. He was (is?) an integral part of the intricate machine that was (is?) Knee Chin, but finds his voice (literally) in the likes of solo outfit I Am Not A Nihilist and his “rock” band, Curlew. Not that many people know it – Curlew (Zian on guitar and vocals; Callum Wheeler on drums) have been something of a hermit/recluse for the entirety of their conception. I have had the pleasure of seeing Curlew three times in twelve months (nigh on a record), two times this year (both of which were Sonic Masala shows – hey, if you want to watch bands you really like, best put them on yourself). The duo have just released Animal Urges, and it’s an album of exquisite, and exquisitely painful, beauty – a sparse malaise of contemplation, rumination and ruin, all spun in a instrumental narrative that is both spare and dense, an exercise in steely tension and gallows humour, an extraordinary existence borne from the sweatboxes of suburban Brisbane, spat under hooded eyes and a sly yet weary grin. Zian has a cracked vocal delivery somewhere suspended between The Drones’ Gareth Liddiard and another of Brisbane’s hidden lyrical geniuses, Amateur Childbirth (their kinship came to fruition when Curlew played the launch of AC’s second album, PRIPYAT, back in February).

Animal Urges is a somewhat different beast from Curlew’s other major releases. Firstly the songs are much looser and longer in length – only three of the nine tracks on offer stay under five minutes, and three surpass the ten minute mark. Take as example the title track. Essentially a suite of songs, the tracks has a spluttering rhythm that suits the primal questions, assumptions and experiences that Zian explores. Whether it be a conversation in a cafĂ© that circles the nostalgic mores that remembering the highs of narcotic highs can bring, the adolescent realisation of the strengths of being a male yet the pull towards the female, or the internal conflicts that such primal mores can cause, Zian’s presence is magnetic, drawing you into his esoteric, conflicted world. From the soft jangle accompanying soft-focus childhood memories to the harsher preamble to a venting diatribe, the instrumentation mirrors the ever-shifting narrative tangle. Curlew is a band that inhabits a singular worldview, drawing you inexorably into the swirling mental philosophising, and never have I felt more in tune to a person’s unchecked experiences and explorations of what the fuck this life might mean before. And for that you should all be eternally grateful. And the story outlaid on ‘Fitness First’ is brilliant – it gets me every time.

You can grab Animal Urges here. One of the best Brisbane releases of 2014, yet its verbosity, obtuseness and bared-vein honesty will scare some away. Be brave; step inside; close the door behind you; and listen to someone who isn’t afraid to breathe life into the confused world they live in. Amazing stuff. Their next show is at Trainspotters this Saturday July 26 alongside Black Vacation, Ciggie Witch, Blonde Tongues and Pare Ohm - an incredible line up for free.

Monday 21 July 2014

Eating Me A Dogwood Dag

There is something attractive by the laconic nature of Dag, Dusty Anastassiou's solo/band project (he is also involved in "supergroup" Scrabbled and plays the pivotal rhythm guitar that underpins the shambolism of Thigh Master). The first time I saw them play was September 2013 when Matt Ford (Thigh Master/Black Vacation/Per Purpose/Deadshred/Kids Cryptic/Tenth Court - clearly needs to be busier...) and Curtis Wakeling (The Ocean Party/Velcro/etc - another dude with too much time on his hands) both suggested they support Velcro and Hot Palms. With a lineup that also included Thigh Master, Fred Savage Beasts and The Creases, Anastassiou's drawl and slow-burn crawl really stuck out. Dag has played another Sonic Masala show supporting Black Vacation - here is a clip from that set, with Central Station train times in the background...

Well Tenth Court have finally coaxed a release out of the bastard, the aptly tongue-in-cheek titled Dogwood cassette. It's the kind of downer pop dreariness that you could mistake for being a mainstay in Australia at the moment - but Dusty's drawl, finely strung guitarwork and the ratcheted energy of closer 'There Is A Power' that truly pushes Dag into the spotlight. Forever a work in progress, Dag looks up through the wires of the Hills hoist with some Fruity Lexia and VBs, looking at chemtrails and skyline cranes and scratching its head with wonder, a crooked grin and a sigh of chagrin. And as far as looking at the travails of the young penniless set, 'Staying Cheap' is still one of the best songs to come out of Brisbane for some time. Pick up Dogwood here.

Drowning Under Bird Blobs

This is an album I haven’t been able to stop listening to since stumbling over it again a few months back. It’s not like I never got into Aussie gutter gurus Bird Blobs in the past, but possibly because the re-emergence (or reawakening) of the nastier nihilistic sewer rock here in Australia over the past few years it’s resonating all the more. The band split in 2006 to form other bands (Minimum Chips and Degreaser are the two most prevalent of these future projects, but also includes Coconuts, Bushwalking, St Helens, Mum Smokes and Mad Nanna amongst others) but it’s hard to pass up their 2004 self-titled LP for lightning-in-a-bottle feral ferocity. Seriously, with Tim Evans' guttural spew of a vocal delivery and songs that covered the detritus of the debauched masses (‘If I Could Kill’, ‘Stealing Again’, ‘Settle Down + Breed’, ‘Drunk At The Mill’), the guitars rolling drunkenly and wilfully into every sensitive corner of your inner ear, the drums pounding rabidly until they break the bedrock beneath – it was a fetid mess, but this four-piece had tapped the open vein with gleeful aggression. I always return to the bookends of Bird Blobs, ‘Billy’ and the aforementioned ‘Drunk At The Mill’ – the former is squalling, spewing venom at its most freebased; the latter for its dessicated rhythmic roll through the scorched undergrowth and throat-tearing screams puncturing the senses. In fact the opening drumming gambits for most of these tracks are killer - Steve Masterson proves to be a hedonistic animal on the skins, and his subsequent efforts with New War exemplify this.

Is this still available? Worth finding out. In fact, maybe Sonic Masala should reissue it? It’s an awesome idea, because Bird Blobs has now fused with my DNA. You see, once you taste Bird Blobs, it infiltrates and desiccates; it mesmerises and maims; it hypnotises and horrifies. And for me, that is some of the most viscerally exciting things music can do.

Sunday 20 July 2014

Sinking Under The Witching Waves

Man I'm loving the punch and grit of Concrete, London duo Witching Waves’ cassette (out through Soft Power Records). Two track only but they clearly embody the twin personalities coiled within – wrecked guitar pop with a mono, brooding sheen and languishing ambitions on the wasteland Midlands a la Sons & Daughters at their most nihilistically droll (‘Concrete’), until the “chorus” gives us a ray of sunshine; and a lurking post punk found in a no frills deserted art space, all space and nuance and intent before the hammer threatens to rain down (‘Chain Of Command’). It’s minimal, yet the interaction between the two make this a rollicking listen and promises for the same in the live arena. Showing that England isn’t devoid of interesting, dark, grimy rock (albeit with the colourful sheen afforded by the interplaying boy/girl vocals undercutting the distortion and one-two relentlessness of the drums). The cassette is sold out – Witching Waves are resolutely DIY so expect to see them play a squat, laundromat or pub toilet near you (Ill try to make the Bad Vibrations show at the Shacklewell Arms on Sunday August 3 - maybe see y'all there?).

Saturday 19 July 2014

Kicking Goals, Son!

This has been a long time coming. I’ve been a fan of Boston band Soccer Mom since their inception back in 2010; they were the subject of one of the first ever Sonic Masala interviews (an element that has come in fits and bursts, but has included the likes of Civil Civic, Angie (Straight Arrows/Ruined Fortune/Circle Pit), White Walls, Batpiss and Alpine Decline amongst others); my write-ups find a small space in the nether regions of their press releases. And yes their moniker is incredibly misleading. But if you haven’t jumped rampantly on their bandwagon, no need to go back to the beginning. Simply dive headfirst into the distorted world of their debut self-titled album – it’s an exercise in calibrated tension, serrated guitar lines opened up to the sky, a series of noise and nuance that embodies what guitar rock should be.

Start with opener ‘It’s Probably Not Your Fault’ – my favourite track on the album, because it IS Soccer Mom. Crawling out of an aluminium bin with the requisite fast-approaching din, we enter the kind of loud-sedate territory that Archers Of Loaf made (make?) their own, creating a cacophony of fuzz and cymbals amidst the sonorous chorus, everything tempered with gazed-shoe precision (including the feedback-toying close). Its that sense of frivolity and earnestness tagteaming amongst the chaos that makes them such an enthralling listen. Elsewhere the is the swirling guitars and disembodied of vocals of ‘Orejas’; the glazed dreaminess of ‘No One Left’; the anguished stutter of (im)personality on ‘Dry Mind’; and the crowded instrumental interlude in the middle of ‘Hideaway Sands’ is the kinda things that coalesces into a vibrant catharsis of crossed strings and smashed slings that Deerhunter-via-Sonic Youth revel in. The brooding closer ‘Open Heart Surgery’ is more openly abrasive, still tempered by crooned insistence, but offering an expulsion that to be honest doesn’t even need to come - if you aren’t an acolyte by album’s end, why are you still here?

The band continue to connect, playing alongside the likes of Weekend, Whirr, Speedy Ortiz and Nothing, bands in particular that embody the yin and the yang of Soccer Mom’s aesthetic. I know there will be albums this year that will grab my attention harder and for longer, but this is such a solid opening gambit longplayer, especially having listened from the beginning, that it’s hard not to get rabidly excited. Well done guys. Soccer Mom is out now through 100m Records – you should definitely get this.

Thursday 17 July 2014

Taking Comfort In A CS35

Here is the first in what will be a few posts looking at fellow small independent Aussie labels (albeit mostly focusing on cassettes as the mode of tactile output). Comfort 35 is a small label in Melbourne that have put out the likes of SM faves Franco Cozzo and Inches (who incidentally include the Franco Cozzo guys - keeping it in the family I guess...). Further afield in the releases front is Gorsha, a Darwin collective that lurk in the lo-fi noise barrens, waiting to drag you into the subterranean depths; NZ's Sweater who delve into the mathematical metrics of Polvo palpitations, but with more of the black lung; the synth punk nihilism of Brunswick East's own swirling dervish Yakks; the warped hip-hop instrumental jammers of Baba-x; the trans-dimensional meanderings of Orchestra Lax and Leagues; the contemplative synth sworl of Domestic Worker... The idea for the label is to dub all releases onto C35 tapes, which are then assembled by hand and are limited to 35 editions each. It's an eclectic roster, one that is close to my heart, and one that I wish all of you to get into - either to disappear down the rabbit hole, or to tear it asunder. You can get any/all of these releases, and more, here.

Believe in Devil World in your Mind

Two songs from south and even further south of the ‘Deep North’ that is Queensland. Yeah, the place where we complain about a winter that would see most people around the world stripping to near illegal limits in order to sun themselves in the nearest public park.

Richard in your Mind’s ‘Hammered’ is this kind of song (the turning your white bits into red bits kind). It’s a bit drunk on life and cheap wine. You know those scenes on the front of goon boxes where the Victorian style people (not Melbourne hipsters, the sex-starved, non-ironic corset wearers of the queen Victoria) sit around having an idyllic picnic replete with parasols and blossoms? Well this is for your backyard version of the same thing. Smile through the burn, tongue in cheek, you’re not drowning, just drinking heavily.

Peter Escott’s (of the Native Cats) ‘Believe in Devil World' is not that kind of song. It’s more the reflection afterwards as you examine your burning skin and chapped lips in the mirror. The tongue here is not in cheek; it’s forked. Devil World is that place on the other side of the Victorian picnic (in both the hipster and corseted sense). Tasmania winters are not the time for picnics with your baby – unless you harbour motives ulterior to enjoying yourself by the riverside. Devil World is that place you try to escape when you knock back that third glass of cheap champagne and wonder whether bodies float or not.

Escott's album The Big O comes out on Bedroom Suck in August; Richard In Your Mind's Ponderosa is out next month too on Rice Is Nice.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Video Vacuum - Fraudband , Juan Wauters, Brief Candles, Weird Womb

It's hump day, let's loosen up a bit and watch some vids, yeah?

Fraudband come from the Neumusak realm in Melbourne (Faspeedelay being another acolyte). Their improv breakdown EP was pretty great. Here is a clip that is all about letting loose and freaking out. It's funny, weird, freaky, goofy, and a loose jam turned into flesh. Try these moves out at work - go on, I dare you...

Juan Wauters. Any more necessary? OK how about a weird and funny VHS film clip based on a show that I'm assuming shows film clips then people ring in and vote on whether to - yep - make or break it. In all honesty, Wauters would fit right in here in Australia. Goofy film clip, plaintive songs, silly sense of humour...and Coolio?

Brief Candles are a band I mentioned in 2011 that were taking the shoegaze fanaticism and running it through the sharpest filters, showing a leaner, meaner approach with the right degree of sugar and light and were all the better for it. Their new song 'Terry Nation' is significantly darker than much that was on their great Fractured Days album - it has some krautrock leanings, some rusted freakouts, and a killer filmclip pastiching 60s/70s television into an amazingly intricate and bewitching watch - especially around the 4 minute mark when the band break into a feedback wielding meltdown. And there are Daleks - a childhood nightmare/favourite. These Milwaukee kids have got it going on.

Saving the most NSFW video for last, here is Tuscan, Arizona's Weird Womb and the visceral and hilarious film clip for their newie 'Tanned Tits'. What is a grotty and offputting sex scene becomes a "when violated women fuck back" as the girl puts the headphones and starts to show this sweaty demon what it means to get down and dirty. This is a V/H/S clip without the horror. Weird Womb are a pretty incredible band, and to finish off here is their previous track 'Pale Piss' - yep, they are that kind of band...


Looking For Free Luvv

Luvv. I have to say it isn't the name that drew me to this Cardiff four-piece. No. In fact I have no idea what drew me to hit play on 'Free' - maybe it was the subtle entwined beauty of the minimalist cover art for their new cassette Two - but in any case it was a wise decision. The band has a crisp post-punk guitar sound, a beautifully simple yet present bass through-line (you'd be surprised how buried in the mix the bass can be after overdubs rear their bloody heads these days), and the vocals are spat maniacally, seemingly at odds with the barely bridled, yet still tempered, instrumentation. 'More' is more melodic all round, but doesn't have the bite that 'Free' has - nevertheless these guys are worth keeping an eye on. You can pick up Two here.

Sunday 13 July 2014

Glistening Opal Tapes

Thank my brother (in-law) for this sultry mixtape for this Sunday. Excellent UK label Opal Tapes put together this bubbling percolation of a compilation Cambaire back in the tail end of May, and it's been a constant early morning/late evening soundtrack ever since. It pretty much exemplifies where most of my interest in electronic music lies - noise, insidious and unsettling beats, or ambient netherworlds. Great stuff. Current favourite is BAT (Best Available Technology). See what you think - and get on board.

Saturday 12 July 2014

Use your Blank Cheques at the Clearance

NB - this post has been written by Nathan (Fred Savage Beasts) - his web browser is screwed though so Im posting for him!

I’ve been on holidays over the past week. Most of my time I spend wondering if I’m wasting it (my time, that is).  Listening to this latest 7 inch from Chicago's own Clearance though, I wasn’t thinking that for a moment. It’s a bit cheeky, a bit self-aware and it’s a pretty great listen for that time in the afternoon where you’re still enjoying the fact you got to sleep in and not ruing the fact you wasted another day. Life is a blank cheque; and if you’re free, you can spend it how you want.

Friday 11 July 2014

Friday Cover Up - Cohen, Get A Kenny Up Ya

Liam Kenny, he of Bitch Prefect/Peak Twins/The Friendsters et al, is finally going it alone. But as usual, you can't take the guy for granted, for he is soloing on an album of demented covers, brilliantly titled A Kenny For Your Thoughts. First bite is this insane rendition of Leonard Cohen's 'Avalanche' - a sound-squall of siren-strapped guitar swirl, electronic attacks and beat marches that is as relentless in intensity and fever as it is somewhat macabre. It's fantastic, in other words. A Kenny For Your Thoughts will be coming out on the newly minted It Records (White Hex), which was actually started so that this album could come to fruition - I think the gamble's paid off.

Monday 7 July 2014

Hits From The Box #84 - Budget Squats

Man I hate the government. Idiots. Scum. But I'm not about politics, I'm about music. So let's keep things loud and fucked and see what trouble we can find yeah? First Hits From The Box in months, incidentally...

Glaswegian scuzzbuckets The Amazing Snakeheads are a demonic maelstrom of anger, devilish glee and tearing the fabric of sound, all whilst keeping the noise in some mould of accessibility, with some baritone sax in there to give you a taste of what Morphine could have been if they were called Amphetamine instead. Fitting, as their album is called Amphetamine Ballads, and the Scots are kinetic, sweat sticking to the roof of your mouth-levels of anarchic intensity. It's bloody great, and you don;t need to be spat in the face to realise it - but no one minds if they do it anyway, right?

Beechwood are a New York garage rock band that love to dirty things up tenfold, and freak the fuck out. Their upcoming LP is called Trash Glamour, and I can't think of a better way to describe them. It is so red-line dirty in fact that you can't help but think this would be the perfect soundtrack for a drug-fuelled makeout session with an ambiguous tattooed beauty whilst disappearing in a pit of grease and oil. Slightly serrated and wholly debased.

Homebody is a cleaner unit but no less fun. Hailing from Denver and counting members from  SM faves School Knights (RIP?), they harbour the laconic, languid jams that the likes of Women or Mac Demarco might deliver, if they pilfered from each others' playbooks. I love the sun-under-water percolation of 'Embroidery' for example. Homebody is a great EP that I hope spirals out into something more substantial - and sooner the better. Their first show was supporting No Age, so yeah, there's that too.

Need some frantic frenetic space guitar jammed in your earholes to block out the voices in your head? Spirit the Cosmic Monster from within - or at least these guys from New Jersey, an instrumental act clearly eating the root of archaic mental stimulation and mind explosions. These tracks are heady, heavy, intense yet still a lot of fun - rifftastic, riotous, ridiculous - but goddamned rad too.

It makes sense to jam a Castle Face release in here. POW! are a kinda ridiculous, phaser-wave, sci-fi meltdown garage three-piece from San Francisco - hence the attraction. It's goddamn weird yet eerily accessible - the soundtrack to an alien abduction from a species more interested in herbal ingestion, out of body experiences and party poppers. How can something come across as dorky, weird and imminently cooler than anything else going on? Celestial beings caught in the gamma rays of 50s D grade exploitation moon people pictures, that's who. Bow down to the new masters of the universe ('Cyber Attack'!!!). Grab Hi-Tech Boom in excellent "wasp guts" vinyl (yellow one side, black the other) here.

Let's finish with some Aussie noise courtesy of Melbourne noiseos Dry Mouth. Their 7" Gone Troppo is the kind of weirdnik static drone meanderings that I find imminently interesting, and continually grow out of the abscesses of the Australian undergrowth. Its oddly beautiful in its bubbling ooze, with enough space and oddity to fall into the gaps and disappear blissfully. Sometimes that's all you want to do to get by, really. The quietest inclusion on this list, but in some ways the most chaotic and disturbing - yet also easy to embrace and enjoy.

Happy Monday Everyone!!!

Roaring Forth Out Of Dead Waves

Good morning. I have a foggy brain this morning, so I'm blasting out the cobwebs with some dirgey grunge a la 2014, courtesy of New York's Dead Waves. Albini is all over this, but the sludge roar is etched into the trio's DNA - 'Oracles Of The Grave' was recorded in one take. It's a brutal punisher, one that evokes the 90s yet also feels entrenched in the moment - an expulsion of dank sweat and the gnashing of teeth, and that bass dragged through the muck like a harbinger of death before the throat is torn out with howls of anguish. The flip side is 'Promises', a more melodic effort that offers a buoyancy in the darkened prism, a catharsis of light that yin-yangs from the blight. There is constant juxtaposition here from the band name outwards - the death vs the ebb and flow of life; the cleanness of the instrumentation vs the rust flaking off the molten riffs; the double-helix squall vs the tempered harmony of 'Promises'; I really like where this is heading...

Both these tracks make up a 7" they are bringing out soon.

Thursday 3 July 2014

This Will Destroy You Into Dust(ism)

I'm running out of time - I'm using my parents' internet in their newsagency and they are locking up the shop (it's not anywhere near as bottom-of-the-barrel sounding as you think!), but I need to end today on this note. Texan instrumental giants This Will Destroy You WILL DESTROY YOU - I have seen them play twice (although not since before their deeper, darker sojourn into doomier scapes, Tunnel Blanket) and they blew my head off - and they are back to do it all again with new record Another Language. This is the first taste off it - and it has been my day-closer for over a week now. Coming out on Suicide Squeeze Records in the States and Hobbledehoy Records in Australia, Another Language promises to combine the more elegant brushstrokes of their first release Young Mountain with the full-scale damage they explored on Tunnel Blanket - and 'Dustism' permeates the soul because of it. Think Explosions In The Sky and Mono melding minds - huge statement, but I can't unstate it. Cannot wait for this to drop in the latter months. You can pre-order the 2xLP album Another Language (on rich opaque blue vinyl no less) here, out through Hobbledehoy Records.

Searching For The Innocent White Fence

Tim Presley cannot get out of the Sixties, even if he tried (which I'm pretty sure he hasn't). The only difference in his oeuvre as White Fence has been the alterations in production, culminating in the relatively high fidelity evident on latest release For The Recently Found Innocent. Presley pays huge props to his astral brother-in-arms Ty Segall - here he records and mixes the album as well as drums here and there - and you can tell why - this sixth album as White Fence is the most cohesive and focused sojourn into the paisley outer realms yet. The album focuses on more confident realms, such as anguish and anger towards the state of the world today, although still willing to turn the light inward in his recognised falsetto waver.

I will admit though  that White Fence rings truer to a spot-on tribute band, emulating the likes of The Kinks (ESPECIALLY The Kinks), The Troggs, The Who, The Mama & the Papas...the cream of the pastoral crop, sure, and done incredibly well. But it's hard to love an album wholeheartedly when there are touchstones that you can go back to and embrace more honestly. This is a disparaging remark, sure, but I do still like Presley's worldview and what he offers, and I will always catch him live when he trundles my way. I just wish there was something a little more iconic and unique in what Presley offers. The clarity is one step, but it also shows up the comparisons more readily (hence why he may have wallowed in the white noise no-fi for so long before now...) You will enjoy this record for sure, but more original, secret ingredients need to be thrown into the brew before it becomes a bona fide addiction.

For The Recently Found Innocent (with excellent self-portrait artwork) is out through Drag City and Spunk - grab it here and here (soon).

Drinking The Juice of Young Ciggie Witches

The latest in a long line of acts to come out of Osborne Street in Brunswick, Melbourne (although it’s been a week so more may have spawned) is Ciggie Witch, and their debut album Rock & Roll Juice hits all the hallmarks of this highly creative hub. It opens with a predictable summer jangle about languid Melbourne living, 'Long Weekend', before we get the more baritone vocals of Mitch Clemens on 'Broken Nose' – and it makes sense. It's this particular counterpoint of voice, tone and worldview that works on disparities like wondering why you'd bother getting out of bed if you will only surf the 'Net in, er,  'The Internet' or waiting for your brother to come to the servo to pay for your petrol because you have no money in 'Point Cook'.

Resplendent in shimmering beauty (thanks to some wonderful instrumentation from Ocean Party/Zone Out/Alek & the Ramps alumni) and a measured production from Dusty Anastassiou (Brisbane brother in arms from Dag), Rock & Roll Juice is the perfect aural equivalent of diary entries for these guys and gals – the kind of lackadaisical, ponderous, easy-livin’ existences that do indeed exist, seem point- and fruitless, yet are rich in existential whimsy, introverted melancholy, yet an overall love of living life in the moment, as it comes, without worrying too much about where the 2 minute noodles or toilet paper will come from one week to the next because there is a footy to kick, a beer to drink, a Sega emulator to play, a guitar to strum and a smile to crack.

Rock & Roll Juice is available on limited vinyl here.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Rancid Mutton

I somehow missed commenting on this brutal bile-fuelled band at the beginning of the year, then again when they supported Sonic Masala Records' own Gazar Strips on their Sparkling EP tour in May. Well I'm sure these guys don't need much of an introduction if you are into gutter noise punk rock outta Melbourne. To the rest of you - introducing Mutton.

I first heard 'In Between The Dirt', the last track off their self-titled EP, and thought of fellow trash Batpiss (one of my favourite breakout bands of last year). But this is even more indebted to Yow and his acolytes than most of the pricks running around Brunswick, and that alone makes them an exciting proposition. you can't state that this is particularly "new" - but what's original when you are flailing on the floor trying to gouge your eyes out with a broken pool cue? Plus they have a band T-shirt of Sam Kekovich being torn apart by rabid sheep - an in-joke for the Aussie AFL/lamb-eating crowd, sure, but that imagery alone buys them miles of shit-stained cred.

Mutton are already aligning themselves with some of the gold-flecked detritus of the Australian underground, playing shows with the likes of Sewers, Cuntz, White Walls, Scul Hazzards, Worm Crown, Bone and the excellent DEAD - but these guys are flaying themselves to the front of the pack. Join in on the flagellation.

No Home For Mere Women

I stumbled across Sydney's Mere Women through true global sonic seeker of truths, Tenzenmen Records, in 2012 (along with Hira Hira and a bunch of other Australasian acts I couldn't believe I lived without before then). That album, Old Life, was pretty good, an edgily awkward post-punk slanging match of a record that showcased a trio of young people agitated yet rudderless - like Batrider, but with the lower-intestine bile and overt angst. Fast forward to now. Mere Women know what they are doing now - at least I think they do. The ten tracks that grace Your Town are spirited eve as they languish in a quagmire of reverb and missed chances, airs and graces, rolled eyes and fraught thoughts. The mood that pervades the album is something akin to being forever caught in the shade, behind the 8-ball, gripping barbed wire, seeing the greener pastures wither and die whilst the wheels continue to futilely spin. Despite this melancholia that emanates from the tracks, there is a forcefulness that underpins everything; the baring of teeth; the wanton brandishing of sociopathic disdain (something they share with another great Aussie band, Bare Grillz). 'Heave Ho' even has a bit of the Zola Jesus about the vocal delivery - no easy task. Your Town isn't happy, but it potentially will make you happy, even as you like sliding down the razor blades of oblivion.

Poison City Records keeps hitting home runs, picking these guys up. It's a great release.

Squalid Degreaser

I didn't even know that ex-Aussie Tim Evans' band Degreaser were still an active thing. I bought their first two albums, Bottom Feeder and Sweaty Hands, not that long ago, and those are two slices of fevered nastiness, unfettered, unrelenting, unrepentant. They also scream of a band born to implode. You can't tame such fetid beasts, and new record Rougher Squalor (out on Ever/Never Records) still attains some of the rust and grime of those awfully awesome releases. But it is clear on LP #3 that the trio want to fuse their dissonant elements into one awed, cellular whole, and in so doing have carved out a squalling psych behemoth where the trip is long and real yet the songs retain brevity and bite (not one of the eleven tracks breach four minutes). It's like someone herded Bo Ningen, White Hills, Straightjacket Nation and Coloured Balls into a holding pen then eviscerated the lot of them, scooped up the guts and sinew and molded them into the band we hear vomiting forth from the speakers. It's all in the wailing wah-riddled guitar, ripping the ozone apart fibre by fibre. There is still moments of Bird Blobs chicanery in the morbid monotone delivery of 'Do Me In', but mostly Rougher Squalor is all about cutting loose and steering straight for the eye of the sun, dragging us all kicking and screaming along with them. Fantastic stuff.