Friday 31 October 2014
Let's open the floodgates to Hell to end the weekend off with Roomrunner. OK, so the Baltimore four-piece isn't the most bloodcurdling of bands, but they are a great raucous grunge punk fest with Denny Bowen (Double Dagger, Dan Deacon, Future Islands) out from behind the skins and wielding guitar/vocal duties, so this gets my motor running. Separate is a album of opposites - Nirvana-baiting melodies with stadium-flirting melodies; dismembered angularities with emo-skirting riffs; plummeting emotions with sunlight-flecked buoyancy. The EP might be a kneejerk reaction to the pigeonholing that the band originally came in contact with last year, but it is also a deliberate muddying of the waters - a chance to spread the palette far and wide, see what sticks. The restlessness that squirms beneath Bowen's plaintive vocals speaks volumes - further adding to the frenetic nature of their live act. Plus it has a song on it called 'Chrono Trigger' - one of my all-time favourite video games - and 'Slow' could be a Weezer trip if they all wore black and liked breaking things, so it was always going to get my seal of approval.
Get Separate from Accidental Guest Records here.
Here's some rosy/punchy garage to brighten your Halloween. Members of some of UK's most exciting bands (Male Bonding, Sauna Youth, Cold Pumas) jumped into bed as Primitive Parts a little while ago, and are prepping to release this 7" on Faux Discx. 'The Bench' is the B-side. It's all a lot of silly fun with a nice monotonous beat throughout and a wonky guitar solo bit that is endearing. It's all fairly innocuous on this side of the wax - will be interesting to see what else the boys bring to the table. Pre-order it here.
This is in the running for the best compilation album of the year (the other one, celebrating a label's fifth birthday, is the other and will grace these pages next week). New Sydney label Exxe Records has gotten together the crud of the city's crop on Inhalation to contribute to a destructive record that reverberates to the point of combustion. The likes of Housewives, Ghastly Spats, Mope City and Drown Under tear things to their basest concerns, whilst tracks from Friendsters, Beef Jerk and king Tears Mortuary keep things off-kilter. Sacred Product and Kitchens Floor also appear in what is a pretty damn incredible release. Can't wait to see what they bring to the table next. Get Inhalation here.
Thursday 30 October 2014
Let's drone out into the twilight with this new collaboration from Holodeck Records. From Ashes Comes The Day is a two-part behemoth crafted out of enmeshed workmanship by two consummate experimentalists - Drophead (AKA Montreal's Eric Craven) and Silent Land Time Machine (AKA Austin's Jonathan Slade). The seesawing drone narrative that exists here resonates primarily due to the strings that Slade incorporates, at once imitating a siren, a circular saw, a taut wire fence vibrating in a desert storm. The pregnant electrical maelstrom that comes over the horizon - guitar, effects, ephemeral noise - fills in the gaps and isolates; a seamless intersection that nevertheless evokes natural ostracism. Some of the reverberation reminds me of Neil Young's Dead Man score, if created as a backdrop for a dystopian tundra, the sun scorched an iridescent red. The cyclical nature of these two tracks also plays its part - it feels like a soundtrack to the post-apocalyptic ages, one destined to be passed down generation to generation as their livelihoods and likelihood to hold onto their humanity diminishes exponentially.
The thing about From Ashes Come The Day though is that I find this somehow prophetic, ebullient even. The interwoven guitar-and-viola feedback licks at the soul - a double-helix of like minds, creating a nebulous landscape that seeps from the cracks of a destroyed future, yet its mere existence is proof that the future is still worth fighting for.
Buy the LP here.
Another day, another Calgary band influenced by Women. Telstar Drugs brought out their Endless Straight EP and Weather Underground cassette on the Perdu label (run by equally excellent band WTCHS), and these are six songs of intricacy, spider-thin guitar, languid-to-urgent atmosphere and tension. A subtle, subliminal draw-and-quartering.
Side note: My first car was a Ford Telstar. There were a lot of drugs smoked in that car. So the name holds a lot of nostalgia for me. Heady, heavy times. Get Endless Straight here.
How good is 'Seilu'? The new single from Brisbane band Blonde Tongues. I first heard these guys when I got them to open up an Ocean Party launch at The Beetle Bar November last year. They were good, and good dudes - occupying the pool table for most the night. A year on, and they have provided the world with this great dreamy noise barb - a drifting miasma of contemplation that sheds the delicate chrysalis in a blistering shower of warm sonic sparks. The flipside is this laidback, sun-dappled gem 'Beer', offering an acoustic-led jangly counterpoint that is decidedly perennial, not linked to Australia yet intrinsically linked to Australia - a blazed chimera. This duality is positive - the intricacy and delicacy the band takes to their approach, whether it be shoegaze-affiliated or in the languid realms of guitar pop, is something to be excited about.
These songs have actually been out since July - when I was moving hemispheres - so I'm late to the party here. Better late than not at all. The four-piece have an album on the way - I for one cannot wait.
Wednesday 29 October 2014
It is bizarre that I have heard of pinkshinyultrablast before now. It was in January actually. I was talking to Tim of Tyms Guitars about a bunch of things, but especially his second year of the Singles Club (which saw lots of excellent one-offs, including music from The Nation Blue, Turnpike, Isaiah Mitchell of Earthless and Brett Nelson of Built to Spill amongst many others). He mentioned that he had been talking to Roku Music, who were about to release their debut album Collider as my debut Sonic Masala Records release, about writing a song for it. He had already pencilled in the split side for them. He then played me the EP Happy Songs For Happy Zombies from a little Russian band called...pinkshinyultrablast. They had actually gotten in touch with Tim - albeit with rudimentary English - about their recordings, which were sporadic seeing as it was difficult to find appropriate studio space and equipment in the country. Anyway, the music blew me away (as Tim knew it would). I thought, this is the kind of shoegaze that I can get behind...
Fast forward almost a year, and the St Petersburg five-piece have been signed by premier UK shoegaze label Club AC30 (recent output - Ringo Deathstarr, Exit Calm, Flyying Colours, and Gavin Clark) is the toast of the British towns. The gossamer glory that is single 'Umi' finally has a trailer and the Syren's call that it is is fuelled by sepia-toned foliage, vistas, horizons... It's blissful. As for that Tym's release - it hasn't come to be. YET. Nevertheless, we can all be excited that this album Everything Else Matters (which was remixed by the band at the beginning of the year, and has been a bit of a trial coming to fruition) will be flooding the sense in no time - January 2015, in fact.
One of my favourite releases from last year was the bruised blues drone that is 7" Spectrums Of Light. Nashville duo Ttotals have returned with full-length Let Everything Come Through (again on Twin Lakes Records). It is even more atmospheric - 'Tricks of the Trade' has a goth post punk crawl about it, while 'Life Thus Far-Out' thumps forward like Crystal Stilts stripping a Wooden Shjips jam to its barest bones. 'Hearts Always Start Up' marches forward inexorably, a trampling heartbeat that blooms into a guttural groan swirling in the mists. Yet my favourite track (right now at least) is opener 'Take Care Of Me' - a soft blowing harmonic breeze that explodes in a caterwaul of noise. Expect this one to grow, and grow, and grow - and for me to mention this come the end of December. Get it here.
I know how ungrateful this is going to sound - but here goes.
I'm on holidays - and I hate it.
I have been unemployed for five months. A few weeks of that time was amazing - especially the first couple of weeks. Because I thought I would walk into a job, I lived it up. Then weeks and months went by, and I spent most of my time searching for jobs, writing applications and doing interviews, to no avail.
Then last week, after a few bits and pieces that scraped things together, I snagged myself a job! Not what I am looking for really, but it's good money, and it'll do until I can find something that I want to really do. I was raring to go - but then the company enforced a week of unpaid holiday on me. It sucks, because I have no money to enjoy it.
Oh cry me a fucking river, right? I live in London - it's time I wrung every free good time and favour out of the place, right? Yeah, I think I will. And it was doing what I normally do - listening to music - that got me out of the "holiday doldrums". I might even go to see an exhibition or a film tomorrow, eat some fine foods, LIVE LIFE. Or drink eight pints. At home. Watching Bob's Burgers. And listening to music. Which to be honest sounds bloody amazing.
Roll on the holiday.
The Wilful Boys is a Aussie-bred maelstrom that have landed and seeped into the sewers of New york City. They are about to release their first 7" on Ever/Never Records (who put out another Aussie ex-pat noise band in Degreaser), and if 'Anybody There' is anything to go by, this is the start of a fantastically fetid and feral rutting. The guttural utterances, the rancid squalls, the barb-wire abrasions - it's an acid blast to the face, cleaned up with an electric sander. Consider me an acolyte already.
With a name like West Thebarton Brothel Party, you would expect a band to be loose and a bit ridiculous. And this Adelaide seven-piece surely is that. But when a cricket reference is in the offing, you know I'm there in a heartbeat. 'Glenn McGrath' is an obvious touchstone - but there is enough ramshackle aggression fuelled by booze and bombast (and copious Warnie doffs of the hat) to keep the interest. It's a wailing, brainless belter - it'll have you sloshing the suds all over the walls in no time.
Some more Aussie ex-pats here sort of - this time hunkered down in London - Hunck is made up of members of Jonathan Boulet and Many Things, and offers a glistening cinematic pop sheen that is both atmospheric and bombastic. The two tracks out thus far, 'Toy Trucks' and 'Something Missing', are languid sojourns through a lackadaisical yet wistful lens - life looked at with eyelids and grins at half mast.
Here is something decidedly wonky from the Teflon Beast stable (as if they know how to do anything else?) Arrow Of Being is a duo comprised of TB mainstay Geoff and Mike Pursley (Mold Omen), and is predominantly Pursley playing guitar in a spectral off-kilter jam whilst Geoff fills in the gaps in the way only he knows how. It's an incredible meditation on creation, dissemination and devolution. I think. What it is, is amazing.
Back to Australia - Sydney specifically - and Wolf Cola, a new two piece who I'm pretty sure are referencing the great (and nihilistic) show It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. It's garage pop, it's fun, it's a bit garish, it revels in being in tune and out of time, of its time and out of tune. They are recording more work, so expect to hear more from these dudes real soon.
Finishing up with boys from my backyard (New Cross in London - well, close enough) Whistlejacket. It has a bit more shoegaze swirl but it reminds me of some of the louder yet stretched moments of Male Bonding. 'Mr Melon' is a shuffling wall of squall, both 90s nostalgia and evergreen malaise. Above all else, it has a textural noise that I could overdose on.
Happy Wednesday everyone!
Tuesday 28 October 2014
Ty Segall and Drag City joined forces recently to start the God? imprint. It's been involved in some tasty morsels - White Fence and Wand being the most recognised. The one I have just latched on to though is the little-recognised but brilliantly anarchic Chicago trio Running (whose albums Vaguely Ethnic and Asshole Savant are untouchable) and their 7" Frizzled. Here is the B-side, 'Totally Fired' - and it is as deliciously unhinged as you would expect. Underneath the abrasive guitars is a weirdly hummable melody - no? Can't hear it? Whatever. Running is my new pop band to the stars. Get Frizzled here.
Here is the first of two split releases we are looking at today. Fred mentioned not too long ago about a Queensland label called Ruined Smile - his childhood memories are back here. Reaching across the globe to give voice to unheralded acts, one of their first releases is this split cassette between English pastoral explorer Lake Michigan and his Australian counterpart Hopelesstown (split released with Canberra-based label Lacklustre).
Now this comes at a weird coincidental cross roads for me, as yesterday I was looking for an album to put on the record player while my girlfriend did her college work. Flicking through I came across Out Of The Shadow, the 2003 debut record from Rogue Wave. I don't remember ever buying it, let alone playing it. We played it - it suited the gentle 'I'm doing work' vibe we were looking for. Then I looked up what they had been up to since, and saw they had written that 'Lake Michigan' song that I had heard on a hell of a lot of TV commercials a few years ago...
Then I saw this in the inbox. It's not the same - it's much better. Each artist shares three tracks. Lake Michigan is not like Rogue Wave. These three meditations reverberate due to their witching hour permutations - floating out of focus, somewhere between warmth and freezing cold, condensation setting on windows, the heat emanating from a lightly strummed guitar and the breath hovering in front of the lips. Reclaiming life, whether it be through mumblecore mantras ("Every fight, and fuck, and falling over...is ours") or through static-ridden proclamations from Dr Frasier Crane, is the order of the day. A melancholic yet positive experience.
Hopelesstown feels like a pea from the same pod - maybe even rubbing spherical shoulders. The reverb is heavily on display, but the songs play with recorded convention - 'Smitten' is fuzzed and roughed up, a scratchy and sedate declaration of unrequited love. 'Other' opens up a little more, although the autumnal cryogenic permutations continue to permeate. Closer 'Spring 2' sits somewhere between the two, and glows lazily, a sunrise warding off the frost.
Lake Michigan/Hopelesstown might fuel many a frigid morning here in the Northern Hemisphere, but is sure to warm the cockles in the drenching summer heat too. Nice work. Buy it here (there's only 4 left).
Monday 27 October 2014
Ever since Juval, one of the members of Tel Aviv rockers Vaadat Charigim, contacted me a couple years ago to talk about the scene there, I have been enraptured by the band's rise. Since then they have put out an excellent album The World Is Well Lost through Burger Records, and played a plethora of shows across the world. In anticipation of their next foray into the studio, the trio have given us 'Badeshe Mul Gilman' which will appear as part of a 7" split series that excellent psych label Reverberation Appreciation Society is putting out next year. It's a gargantuan affair, a nine minute free-fall sprawl, weightless yet pregnant with purpose. There is no aggression here, merely a dream-like assertion that this march may take forever, but the journey is everything. Then when you do you reach your destination - a holiday, a home, a school like the cover - it might be better to lay down in the grass and soak up the moment. Hit play, repeat.
Tallahassee cro-mag men Ex-Breathers release a brutal 7" through Texas Is Funny Records soon (preorder it here). Exbx is great because the bass is so prevalent throughout, never moreso than on excellent opener 'Big Hand' and 'Pocket' before the guitar rips in and flays you open. There is respite - sort of - with the brooding sludge of 'Hang', but otherwise its relentless evisceration. Fucking great.
The genetics doesn't change when in other company either, as their cut from the four-way Community Records split (others featured - Ovlov, Gnarwhal, Woozy). 'Falling Away' shows the larynx-tear but the heart beating underneath. The other tracks are excellent too - you can get this here.
A New Orleans trio called Native America. I can't work out if that is a contentious moniker or not. What I CAN work out is their laconic guitar pop that these guys churn out. There are remnants of Real Estate, Kurt Vile and The Shins in the tunes that colour new LP Grown Up Wrong (out next month on Inflated Records, also home to Speedy Ortiz and Ducktails). It has that distant percolated warble that evokes a narcolept version of '60s paisley rock, faint swathes of surf rock malaise, and the dark riptide of rock breakouts that often appear without warning and sweep you away. Many of these tracks don't reach three minutes either, which makes these movements deceptive yet imminently addictive.
You can pre-order Grown Up Wrong here.
Brisbane scrappers Tenth Court Records have been pumping out some great releases since kicking off this year - with the likes of Thigh Master, Martyr Privates and Dag (plus others yet to mention) putting out tapes. The newest edition is Country Space Junk, the new EP from Adelaide loose cannons Wireheads. Coming off the back of their excellent record The Late Great Wireheads that came out earlier this year (we loved it), here are seven wonky tracks of - well - cowboy space junk. This clip is for opener 'Eight Minutes & 19 Seconds', complete with "space outfits", "space helmets", "space ship", "cowboy drummer" - Trimboli's lyrics about explosive machines and scientific magazines suitably hypnotic and laconic, whilst his vocals are as scratched and unrelenting as ever. It's a great song, a great film clip, a great band.
You can (and should) buy Cowboy Space Junk here.
Sunday 26 October 2014
Just a short post here about this great release by Brooklyn duo Mind Dynamics. Active Supply is an album of stuttering stasis - a noisy melange of beats and rhythms that circles around you with the cold, steely precision and taut patience - like being stranded in a sea of white noise, being circled by sharks. Yet for all its tetchy unease and bluster Active Supply is an enjoyable experience - an adrenal rush of synthetic survival. You can pick it up through Digitalis here.
Saturday 25 October 2014
Sydney purveyors of psychedelic outliers Octopus Pi have put together this great compilation Not Waving But Drowning, showcasing their eclectic roster plus a few other familiar faces. Kicking off with the deliciously off-kilter 'Bon Voyage' from the inimitable master of the lackadaisical faux-yacht rock Nathan Roche, the collection also includes cuts from Psyclops Eyepatch, Dead Radio and two tracks by Subterranean Rain. Favourite offerings - Roche's effort (obviously), The Holy Soul's 'Psychotic Notions', Wild Cat Falling's 'Dead Beat Walkabout', and Mickey Gloss' 'Heart Inside My Chest'. The compilation has been put together as a fundraiser for the Refugee Council of Australia - read more here. Not Waving But Drowning is available as a digital download for $5, pick one up here.
Friday 24 October 2014
Sometimes a band fizzles out before they really get going, but still manage to leave behind a legacy. Case in point will always be Death, the Detroit garage punk band doing it before anyone had ever heard of the Sex Pistols or MC5 - not even dreamt such a thing could happen - that only came to light when one of the members' sons discovered recordings in the family attic. There is a 7" out now (through First World Problems Records) called Fatality - made up of the only existing demos from a band in London that only played one gig. Their name - Quango. And the two songs on the B-Side have that Pistols arrogance and spat venom (and are still great, especially 'QuickQuid'), it's the A-side title track that really floors. Talking about a real-life death at a train station, the song is a heady mix of feverish guitar, a Mark E Smith monotone that somehow still feels barbed and furious, and a hectic pace driven forward by drums and bass that are incessantly tight. It's an incredible song. All three tracks sound great to be honest - their low-grade recordings make them seem like long lost balltearers from the 70s. And whilst they don't have the time-capsule mysticism that surrounds the resurrection of Death - these songs were recorded only a couple years ago to be fair - the authenticity and the vintage sound lends Fatality a "what might have been" quality that is undeniable. The 7" is sold out unfortunately, so indulge in the digital here.
It's starting to cool down/heat up in here (depending on your end of the world), but we all like music and not working, so let's link hands as one and skive off, yeah?
Twerps' new single 'Back To You' makes me so happy. Its so bright and bubbling and happy (sounding) - and the random footage of Aussie exteriors, both commercial, industrial and residential - it really gives me the warm and fuzzies. That dog too, Jesus, did someone film a dream of mine? If so, I wouldn't mind this being my theme tune. And hopefully it all keeps coming back - to this, and to you.
The bewitching September Girls take things one step further on the video for 'Veneer', going deep Goth that puts the hex firmly on those Craft wannabes. The last frame, of the black dripping on the floor - for the woman to now have white hair - is a pretty cool concept. Shedding physicalities through a viscous liquid. A killer song (figuratively), a killer clip (literally).
Yet another addition to the burgeoning cesspool of Aussie garage rock antics, Magic Bones comes barrelling forth with a video for new track 'Anytime Anywhere', a song that holds firmly onto the nutso schizoid Thee Oh Sees mantra and doesn't quit. It's a really fun song. The video is normal garage lunacy - by which I mean it's anything but normal - further heightened by a drummer that is a mic between Wolf Creek's Mick Taylor and The Muppets' Animal (and a blink-and-you'll miss it floating head on a 70s Test batsman).
Finally, let's hang with Los Angeles Police Department! Not the force, just this one guy. Fred has been pretty much in love with LAPD's new album, and while I wait for him to put his skewed thoughts in check to write about it, I thought I would show off 'Enough Is Enough' in audio-visual form. It's a languid jam (as are all of LAPD's songs), but it is also pretty effortless, and the dude looks like a cool guy to hang around with. He also looks a bit like Brian Gibson from Lightning Bolt, but I'm pretty sure the polar opposites of those musical streams speak for themselves. A knitted Giants jumper is a nice touch too dude.
NOW GET BACK TO WORK!!!
Thursday 23 October 2014
Ryan Hall is one of the founders of excellent Denver-based blog Tome To The Weather Machine, which shines a slanted light on the outliers of making sounds. He is also responsible for Heligator Records, a label extension of this outlook that showcases original pieces made especially for the project. I have mentioned a couple of their releases in the past, most notably Lake Mary and Nathan Wheeler. What makes the label even more important is where the money raised goes to. All money raised is donated to the Malindza Refugee Camp Library in Mpaka, Swaziland.The money goes to maintaining the library and providing a small stipend to the volunteer, refugee librarians. The library is home to over 1,500 books, two computers as well as English and French classes taught by refugee volunteers. To learn more about the Library and where your money is going please visit the Library's blog.
The last four albums to come from the roster are just as beguiling... I actually started writing up a review of Make-Overs' self-titled EP back in July, the South African duo donating the four tracks for the cause. There is a uneasy juxtaposition between the melodious arrangements that teeters from a sunny disposition to one of wary disdain - a slowed down, metronomic post-punk that never fully pulverises nor pulsates (although 'Sharp Teeth' tears through and holds its own), but rather seeps through the defences. 'Never Enough' reminds me of a downbeat Pixies, whilst 'Jellybean' percolates like The Stone Roses at their most embryonic. The best song though is opener 'Surprize' - it seethes, sullen yet persistent, brooding yet pugnacious.
Utah guitar manipulator Braeyden Jae (who has his own collation of out-there artists with Inner Islands), donates 'Switches', a six minute rolling opus of glacial electric discharge, a sonic stormcloud building inexorably on the horizon. It never exults in a deafening apocalyptic implosion however - by the song's end we are revitalised and reborn. It's a beautiful track.
Oakland surfers of the outer realms Clipd Beaks threw their chips in the ring with 'FKWRK', a roiling psych jam that starts as a subtle simmer, a few glimpses of broiling hermetics, before a rawk explosion hits, the distortion/delay/flange/hallucinogenics kick in, the reedy calls become wails...and we are wasted. All within three and a half minutes. A lot of people forget that good psych can be short. Clipd Beaks haven't.
Finally we have Landing - yes, Landing! 'Traveling' eschews the drum machine beats of their last few releases, and we are left with a alluring Syren squall of a track, with Aaron Snow murmuring "I'm not invisible" before piercing the sky with his sharp, shimmering guitar lines. It's such a great track, and seeing as it is exclusively available through Heligator, and the money goes to a great cause, you would be a fool not to at least chip in a dollar...
So as you can see, you the listener gets a lot out of this pay-for-music malarkey as well as knowing you are contributing to an extremely worthwhile cause. Win-bloody-win.
(Story by Fred Savage Beasts)
I used to have these neighbours who would yell at their kids all the time. Things like ‘Get off the fuckin’ table, Tyler, and put your bloody sister to bed’ and ‘Where did you put my fuckin’ durries, Tyler?’ They were always really nice whenever we met putting out the bins. He was fly in, fly out. She was slightly out of it most of the time. I never actually found out what their names were, apart from Tyler, that is.
Most times we would make small talk. She thought the neighbours two doors were a “coupla fuckwits” and that Australian Idol was rigged. He thought that anyone who didn’t drink Toohey’s New was a “bloody poof”. These are the families Australia is pretty good at producing. Docile bodies for a docile land. A place where change is always a day or two away (until it rears up right in front of you and casts off years of ‘she’ll be rights’ in an awkward and angry mix of sweat and under-expressed emotions). And we just get on with it. And we love it. And we love it. But does it love us?
I can’t help but think the answer is ‘no’.
The Peep Tempel get all of this into Tales. There is a pent-up, self-aware restlessness, like the eyes of a butchered pig, smiling lipless as its hoofs and arsehole gets shoved into a sausage destined for Tyler’s dinner cause his dad just spent all his cash on a new dirt bike. There is paranoia. The big fish around here keep going on about just how big they are. Yet deep down under the beer-battered gills, they’re not sure they’re that big at all.
But this is not judgement from on high. It’s a strobe-light on the wooden dance floor of run down pubs around Australia. Car lights through the front windows of the houses along the main roads where shame is lashed with Toohey’s New and kids get up on tables with their parent’s packets of durries because the government spent money on fighter jets instead of more teachers at school. Tales shows the bits and pieces of the families that get up and go to work every morning to make enough money to get by.
The last thing I ever heard those neighbours say sums it up for me, I reckon. Tyler was running in a million directions at once around the front yard while his dad put the bin out. Tears all down his face. “He’s just split up with his missus at school today, poor little fucker.” Tyler heard his dad and ran fist-first for him. His dad just slapped him on the back. “Don’t worry, mate. We’ll always love ya.”
Get Tales here.
Wednesday 22 October 2014
I'm too young to have a bad back. Thing is, I've had a bad back since I was a kid - a bow in my spine that I was supposed to do daily exercises for, to try and straighten it out. Instead I played heavy contact sports, got high and drank a load of beer. Which means I sometimes slip discs, or aggravate nerves, and hobble around like an old man chomping down paracetamol and codeine like M&M's. That's what I'm doing today. Was hoping to go to work - instead have been stuck here having spasms, watching episodes of Homeland and wondering why do I even bother.
It's bands like the next six that make me bother. Bands outta nowhere that get you up and moving.
Let's kick things off with a sandblast of the brain from Comet Control. Rising from the ashes of equally excellent Quest For Fire, the Toronto five-piece is a tightly coiled machine, eschewing the astral blow-outs that QFR brandished with pride for a more full-bore assault. This streamlined approach to their psych aesthetics lends a fiery shadow that gives the album a gut-punch immediacy, while also suggesting that stretching them out into wilder terrain on the stage is always imminent. A great band, this one.
Let's stay in Canada. Dead Soft is a Vancouver trio riding the wave of 90s grunge-laden guitar rock that I for one never seem to get sick of. The reason why Dead Soft stick out from the masses is its melodicism is much more at the forefront; these guys want the hooks to stay stuck in you, even after the ringing in the ears subsides (IF it subsides...) Listen to 'Never Forever' and feel the adolescent within come alive. They have the essence of what is making Violent Soho such an explosive band in Australia - sure, they are more introspective, but they know when to take things up a notch. this is a lot of fun.
Curtin really dig Spiderland don't they? Well, who doesn't? 'I'm A Ghost' smacks of Slint's hushed march to a screeching guitar maelstrom, and whilst it doesn't have the wily finesse of that seminal band - who does? - it makes for a attention-grabbing introduction to the band. Their album One For The Doghearted is pretty great - there is a similar cathartic release at the end of 'Flood', whilst other elements stand out. The pastoral guitar crossing with a staccato snare to open 'Funeral', a tempered ride into an American dusk netherland; the electronic interference that showers sparks of ephemeral hope at the end of 'Better Ride'; the Yo La Tengo breeze that blows through 'Big Crown Blue'... Great stuff.
Straddling Bristol and Wales is the crooked marauders New Cowboy Builders. Their new 7" Black Moses is acerbic, relentless and bullheaded - you can see that the shadow of Future Of The Left is cast long over these guys. Not as frenetic and maniacally satirical, perhaps, but you can add these guys to the long line of British acts that like ripping places apart with a drunken quip and a devilish grin firmly intact.
Shiny Darkly - not overly enamoured with the name. But the 80s swirling goth post-punk that this Copenhagen trio dished out on new single 'Soft Skin' is much more riveting. Sharing some of the Bauhaus/Cure DNA that SMR band Gazar Strips ascribe to, as well as their proclivity for serrated breaks, 'Soft Skin' is a bruising encounter. More please.
Finishing off in Madrid, we are serenaded by the garage leanings of The Parrots. The trio just released the 7" Loving You Is Hard, a loose amalgam of Black Lips/Davila 666/Tiny Migrants 60s garage wildness. They are playing in London alongside Thee MVPs tonight at The Social - get along.
Happy Wednesday everyone!
Exhaustion is back! The somewhat enigmatic trio brought out an unheralded, corrosive gem with their first LP Future Eaters and now the Melbourne malcontents are back with Biker (out through Aarght!), and its as abrasive, corrosive, hypnotic and seductive as you could imagine - and more. You don't really need to go past opening track 'Blunt Eyes' - the atonal brutality on offer there is nigh on orgiastic. 'Haus Flipper' comes in like a absurdist pop song (for Exhaustion anyway) - the only "light" to be found here - before a steady maelstrom of unhinged noise with a metronomic fulcrum at its core (the drumming from Per Bystrom is phenomenal) unfolds and obliterates everything it touches. I could go on (and should), but I need to get my painkillers and booze (really). I'm going to stop and just say PREORDER BIKER NOW. It's amazing - possibly my album of the year (and 'Twin Lights' scours my soul).
Tuesday 21 October 2014
I spoke about High And Mighty, Melbourne's resident genius weirdo Orlando Furious' new tape (out through Cinnamon Records), briefly when vibing out on his 'Fresh' video. But I really think High and Mighty needs more recognition.
I'll start with 'Dogs' the last song on side A. Why? Because I can't figure out if Orlando is doing some weird British Caribbean quasi accent. Because when he says 'Who gave me constables?' it sounds like he is saying cunts. Because when he says 'Who gave me dogs from the east?' he immediately ratifies the statement by saying 'Obviously I'm not being serious but, like, who told me about the dogs from the east?' Will the brain be expected to fail? The songs winds down with warped voices echoing over Orlando, the oxygen being weaned, stolen, suppressed, expunged. The static beats maintaining a narcotic pulse until it becomes erratic, then stops. It's kinda dumb, but also kinda genius. And that is High and Mighty, and indeed Orlando Furious, to a tee. The aberrant yet charismatic vocal rants are at once absurdist, nonsensical and rapturous. His is an addictive presence. The slightly sinister beats/rhythms (which are great all the way through High and Mighty, by the way) of 'Assets' propels the forever-on-the-verge-of-a-breakdown vocal stressings of Orlando to a plateau where he overlooks us all - as he is no coward, no drifter - he is 'the master'. Hot tamales, anyone?
Even when 'Peace' is nothing but a coalescing disturbance, a tape-loop explosion, it falls into a VHS vortex of Korine-like despair and gurning grotesqueries. And hearing 'Fresh' as the closing statement rather than on its own, it underscores my initial correlation with Liars - but I feel like this is more truly 'experimental', pushing aural, lyrical and physical barriers rather than setting the quirk flag in weird yet nonetheless familiar territory (and I love Liars). This stuff will always be an acquired taste for many - but Orlando, give me your 'Porkrawl' any day of the fucked-up week.
Dissolve yourself in High and Mighty here. Orlando Furious' next hit is supporting Old Mate launch their excellent LP It Is What It Is this Saturday at The Tote in Melbourne (also with Cool Sounds) - get there early if you know what's good for you.
Just a short post about Point Being, a new band out of Sydney that features Nite Fields' Liza Harper (yes, they are still very much alive and kicking - more on that very soon...). The four piece is much more agitated and raucous than the gossamer crawl of that band though, as 'Degustation' clearly displays. The lines "You're not invited/But you come anyway" is pretty great, delivered in a tone that makes it almost impossible to work out if he is pissed off or laconically cheering the usurper along. That kind of ambiguity lends the song a buoyant edge - irrespective of whether the intrusions are wanted or not.
Point Being recently supported Day Ravies alongside Bare Grillz, and their next Sydney show is supporting Bearhug and Step-Panther - a regular Sonic Masala love-a-thon.
Monday 20 October 2014
I came across this last night - the vinyl for Negra Branca's excellent self-titled release from last year. It's a warped soul train caught in a vat of sparkling amber, forever floating through the spaces between. The discombobulated vocals of Marlene Ribiero are bewitching, an effortless sine wave that weaves in with the hypnotic beats, played out like a trip-hop ascension to the holy gates of eternal bliss. just a trigger hair from a narcoleptic dive into damnation. Negra Branca is a dark yet transcendental release - and seeing as Ribiero is familiar with creating dark, transcendental music of a different kind through her associations with Gnod, it's not that much of a surprise that this is where we end up - a bad acid sworl with shards of light spiking the darkness. Get it here.
Slovenly Records often put out some really frazzled, wild-eyed rock. Things get just as warped on their label offshoot, Mondo Mongo, dedicated to putting out punk from other countries sung in their native tongue. The explosive punk of Puff, hailing from Berlin, is a great introduction to this new tangent - but in many ways its business as usual, all spit, sweat and venom. A German Ian Curtis hopped up on coke and nihilistic mores, or a demented Iceage shadow blast with added synth meltdowns - a leather-clad carnivale of gargantuan grotesquerie. The blurb states that Puff kills party people on contact, but it's more likely they are reborn crack-lord acolytes, puffing til the end of time.
Grab Identitatsverlust here - check out that cover art - brilliant.
Sunday 19 October 2014
You need to get into Lightning Records and its quarterly magazine and its Tumblr and its art and its one-off releases. I want to say way more but I'm fried. I'm listening to the People of the North song. On repeat. It probably sounds even better not fried, but then probably not too. They've released stuff by Wooden Wand and Cy Dune too, and support a lot of cool stuff, like Sam Amidon and Pontiak. It's a collective that I want everyone to be involved in. I believe in Lightning.
Saturday 18 October 2014
Geelong, you are excelling at stupid punk rock I do admit. My current favourite (and I was told about these guys by Jake from Ausmuteants the only time I have met him, at the Tote back in May when he and Roland (Cobwebbs/Barbiturates) were telling me about Drug Sweat, so it's my fault it's taken so long) is Wet Blankets. This trio roll up, smash out some distinctly Australian punk, and roll out, a toxic wasteland in their wake. They have just released Hex Education Hour through Italian label Goodbye Boozy, and this 7" doesn't fuck about. But then again, it kinda does. For just when the bedrock of the songs sound aggressive and bug-eyed, they sing about Dave n Joyce. It's raw, it's powerful, it's tight and yet somehow loose as fuck - with all songs barely breaching a minute. Wet Blankets is the kind of band that should do weddings. ALL OF THEM.
Grab Hex Education Hour here.
Friday 17 October 2014
Not sure what you are doing on a Friday night. I just worked my first shift on the other side of a bar in about six years, and am now drinking in my lounge room, thinking where did it all go wrong. Not really. This beer is pretty killer. Plus I have all this good music to keep me company...
There used to be a time when just about every second post here was about Ty Segall. Don't worry - the love affair continues. I just don't need to go on about it - everyone is in on the secret. The wunderkind's new record Manipulator is rad as, and whilst the video for the title track is better, there is something perennial about 'The Singer' that I never get sick of. Truly inhabiting the British side of 60s rock here, with flushes of Bolan-esque grandiosity - what's not to like? This song is like the day I spent an entire day drinking in a pool on my own, beer bottles floating around my inflatable lounge, the occasional spliff, and T-Rex, Masters Apprentice and The Kinks blasting out of the stereo. I can't remember much about that two year stretch of 2003-04, but damn that was one of the best bloody days of my life. Thanks for reminding me of the best times, Ty.
Let's get even more blasted then with Goat. These guys don't know how to water down the smoky broth, do they? This film clip for 'Hide From The Sun' (the song reminds me of the Swedish band's attempt at covering the weird Soundgarden song 'Half' for some reason - and making it infinitely better) is filled with masks, excellent paper animation a la Where The Wild Things Are, pagan iconography, primary colours, ritualistic dancing... If Tarsem Singh could learn restraint without giving up his incredible artistic visuals, this would be the type of film he could make. Man, imagine him remaking The Wicker Man...actually, don't.
I just saw Frank last week. Like many things, my fiancee and I totally disagreed about it. I thought it was a pretty great insight into experimental and experiential creativity. Now I'm not going to say that Cloud Nothings give me that same kind of insight - and yeah, the papier mache head in 'Now Hear In' is the main connection here - but the freedom that Dylan Baldi seems to have garnered since leaving his (still pretty great) sugary sweet guitar pop behind for 90s indie-inflected grunge angst seems to have opened the floodgates to a vitality that was hitherto absent. I'm sure my fiancee would disagree though.
I like seeing landscapes shot from moving cars. I don't know why. I guess I like movement and landscape and travel. So there are elements in Mere Women's 'Heave Ho' that I am inherently drawn to. I love the dude visiting the aquarium even more though. So many videos claim to invoke a "character" living out a day. This narcoleptic sojourn through Tokyo feels more lost-in-translation than Lost In Translation - its surreal and hallucinogenic and vague - feels like my life. Plus it's the visual accompaniment to a track from one of the most intriguing albums of the year. If you haven't bought Your Town yet, DO IT NOW YOU IDIOT! And buy a jellyfish while you're at it.
Thursday 16 October 2014
This post was meant to be about Manateees' new record - but I lost it. Somehow I deleted the entire album (yes, it's one that I don't have a physical of, sorry...) and in its place was this 7" by UK bluesy punks Thee MVPs (who have a connection with the cool PNKSLM label). Oh Sally is actually on Slovenly Records - and when you hear 'Amok Time' you will know why. Some fucked up rockabilly with references to Fenders named Sally and Star Trek (maybe) - all imminently playable, ready made to sweat out and consume a ridiculous amount of alcohol with no recourse (until the next morning when you start drinking again, that is). This is great.
Pick up Oh Sally here. Ill get to that Manateees record some day...
Wednesday 15 October 2014
A short blast of Day Ravies skewed glaze, just in time for their venture to Brisbane for this weekend's excellent The Blurst of Times festival. Sub two minutes of soporific gauze infused with a shimmering heat and tension in an intricate balancing act that the Sydneysiders are making indelibly their own. A much beloved band that nonetheless still feel underappreciated - these guys should be the toast of Australia. Let's hope their next foray into the recording phase is as fervently feverish as this.
Who wants some stupid and stupidly loud scuzz punk Draino for the soul? Unpeople is your brand. Led by a snarling, demented Sean Campion (Multiple Man), this ever expanding Brisbane cohort (featuring members of Occults, Last Chaos, Woodboot and more - last count was they wanted five guitarists) are tearing a hole in the sewer, flooding your system with their demented bile and shit. This isn't a band of hate though - everything about this band is about taking the pigfuck route without being angry, or even fucking pigs (that is what that maligned genre name should stand for anyway - I am sure Yow was never far off that copulation). Thrash, growl, laugh, cry. Let loose all control of all spasming muscles and enjoy the release - become one of the Unpeople.
You can get this cassette (out through Blow Blood Records) here.
Tuesday 14 October 2014
In November 2012 I had just finished off a year of putting on gigs under the Sonic Masala banner with the album launch for Gold Coast-based instrumental duo The Sea Shall Not Have Them. That album, Mouth, was one of my favourites of that year, a totally underappreciated post-rock-metal-whatever piece that held considerable heft seeing that only two men were responsible for that racket. Since that show they have gone on to support both Russian Circles and Pelican, and have now released new EP Walking Through Walls/Elim. The two track release clocks in at 24 minutes, so there needs to be a lot of time invested in this - but God is it worth it. I have to say that this is not only the best thing that TSSNHT has done - but it's the best release of this ilk I have heard this year. It is a perilous task nowadays to craft instrumental rock without it sounding in any way derivative. The two songs here - the fourteen minute behemoth 'Walking Through Walls' and the "minuscule" ten minute 'Elim' - focus on building a cavernous atmosphere, bleeding out the nuances and emotions, with a delay and slightly dulled production that shaves the edge off the band's precision. This is an imminently good thing because most "post-rock" bands in this day and age focus so much on precision and production values, that there is no mystique involved - it is all contrived and obvious. The chimes in 'Walking Through Walls' gives a Mono delicacy - there is a patience here at building the layers, rather than a join-the-dots necessity to drag a tune out minute after minute. 'Elim' has a more sinister bent but is nonetheless patient in doling out the atmospherics. And when the catharsis arrives, it isn't in an explosion of noise and theatrics (and don't get me wrong, I love that when it's done right - that's why Mogwai is my favourite live band) but a controlled roar that never loses focus. This isn't about ticking boxes. It is a little grandiose - the piano in the last element of 'Elim' in particular - but grandiosity is welcome when the foundations warrant it.
Grab Walking Through Walls/Elim here.
I never thought I would say this - but it looks like we have another Cannon on our hands. That loose-as-fuck party punk meltdown of a band from Brisbane know how to wrap up a hook in cellophane and goon, ram it down your throat and make it the damned best experience of your life, even as your stomach is pumped. And yet here we are with Pronto, a five-piece from Melbourne who are all about thrashing about maniacally, partying hard and somehow keeping the garage rock juggernaut on its tracks - and even when they caterwaul into destruction, it's down with a dumb grin plastered over their gurning mugs. There are harder edges under the drool - 'Shut Up' and 'Red Flag' in the middle of the album has a steel spine that reminds you what a punk gig used to be like. But above all else, When You're Gone plays out like an origin story: a drunk dude stumbled on stage, grabbed the mic and let loose - and no one, least of all the band, is brave enough to wrestle him from it. The band joins in, because after all he will tire himself and puke on his worn BOMP Records shirt in a minute, right? But he doesn't. And he endears himself to this band. And Pronto is born. And the world is saved, and destroyed. A sequel is imminent.
When You're Gone is out through Off The Hip Records - get it here.
Monday 13 October 2014
I had to post this. I was writing a review of Goats, the excellent album that melds the minds of Cretan folk legend George Xylouris and Dirty Three drummer Jim White (as Xylouris White). As the review only is 100 words long, some of the review was cut. Including the above phrase. Well it actually went 'And 'Chicken Song' is the one song where White and Xylouris get dark, mystical and punk as fuck.' The reworkings of traditional machinations into the musical genius of these two twisted troubadours is great, yet not many people may prescribe to such a outlandish claim - but I stand steadfastly by it. There is a sinuous, almost sinister groove that insinuates itself at the core of 'Chicken Song', taking it from European or Eastern composition, caricature or appropriation, and moving it into a sonic plateau all its own - with serious attitude to burn. There are many more great songs on Goats - it's an incredible suite of rhythmic interplay, both mischievous and elegant, a series of games that the duo play where the winner invariably is the listener - but 'Chicken Song' displays just how kindred their spirits really are. Let's hope for many more collaborative efforts between Xylouris and White if this is anything to go by.
Goats (which was also produced by Guy Picciotto from seminal outfit Fugazi) is out through Other Music Co - get it here.
Sydney atmospheric dreamers Cull have come out with a single in 'Magi Fuel' that is multi-faceted - it's spiky yet languid, warped yet layered, streamlined yet running at right-angles. The weird effects breakdown in the final third is both creepy and energising; Chumpy Ly's guitar and falsetto drifting in and out of the melange of sounds, both orchestrating and being guided by the natural lifeblood of the song. It toys with shoegaze and muzak - elevator music for a environmental utopia/dystopia narrative.
'Magi Fuel' comes from a new EP of the same name that'll be out soon. Looking forward to it.