Sunday 29 November 2015
Melbourne punks Deep Heat have put out some great releases over the past couple of years, especially their 10" EP New Design - it is still one of the most played pieces of vinyl I own. And their split with White Walls is so good, I bought a second one to put into the first Sonic Masala giveaway (I think the other pieces were a Dreamtime record, a Tym Guitars T-shirt and something else I can't remember...) So to hear that they have re-joined Poison City Records to launch their second record, Still Life. They have been quite of late, with members spread across taking part in The Stevens, Infinite Void and Shaking Hell. They are revitalised and ready to tear the air asunder. Listen to that frenetic bass that opens first track of the record, 'Sleep'. They have not lost any of the hedonistic rush of finding melody within raw angularity, the round-vowelled and clipped yet drawled delivery of Gus Lord meaning that lyrics are more insinuated than finely articulated, and Katie is so tight as the drumming rhythm that it's impossible to think of a better calibrated beast. 'Sleep' pitches into the past, echoing the darkness and desperation of blue-denim punk rock, whilst also propelling into the dank twilight of Melbourne's sweaty inner suburbs, a warm yet suffocating place, where insomnia is both a blessing and a curse. If this is the kind of nugget that callused minds churn out from being starved of rest and oxygen, keep them on the hamster wheel. I fucking love this song; I fucking love this band; and I can't wait until 2016 when I can fucking love this album.
Saturday 28 November 2015
Friday 27 November 2015
Finishing off the week with not one but TWO Hobart-related posts, because. Homeless Records have not steered me wrong once, so when Richie sent me through the archival material of lost Tassies hMAS, as if I wasn’t going to dive headlong into the murky waters without testing the depths. Sure, Fear God Honour The King has enough aural debris, sonic outcroppings and shaggy rock to knock someone out, but these are the types of waters I regularly bathe in. Recorded in 1997 (!) and remixed by lazy sonuvabitch Mikey Young (and mastered by Ben Crothers), this bears much resemblance to the kind of fuzz-damaged literate silliness that Sonic Masala band Tape/Off spew out at irregular angles (‘Fungus’ sounds like the broken bridge between EP and album for the Brisbane slackdog millionaires), and is the unassuming cesspit that geographical brethren Treehouse sprouted from. Richie’s phrasing of hMAS as ‘pointless yet essential’ is a great way of describing the bent and blasted guitar rock here, as concerned with smashing things in some form of identifiable tempo and melody as they are at being noisily indecipherable – it’s the kind of cacophonous mess that is also bristling with hooks, tone deaf yet glistening with naïve-pop noise. The backwards oscillating loop that sounds like an stoner experiment takes up the first half of the appropriately titled ‘Absurd’ (the second half is a demo-esque punk blast of questionable quality, but what good punk isn’t?); the pig-fuck scrawl that permeates the pub-punk sweat-flecked ‘Bucket Boy’; the Devo-meets-addled-Jim-Carroll-with-added-space-wah ‘Friend Is Dead’ – it is all a bunch of friends fucking about. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be heard. Thank the Lord for Homeless that hMAS now has a home.
You can grab Fear God Honour The King here - be quick though because there are only 3 left! If you are lucky you can get versions of the other two releases – The Computer Tape, a experiment (hMAS to a tee) of their songs reconditioned to a Commodore Amiga 500, vocal melodies and all. A Kraftwerk-meets-Devo reimagined score of an Atari 8-bit version of Mad Max III: Beyond Thunderdome. Weird – and pretty amazing. Then there is 1996’s Goes Pop!, which was originally released for 25c with an added A4 zine, and has had some of the hiss and banter cut out. Lowest fidelity, the mud at the bottom of a creek beer, misplaced, waylaid, laced with memories. A remnant of what may have been, a holographic projection of fizzing, sparking, faux greatness. Get in.
I have written about some of the weird and wonderful noises echoing out of the Apple Isle that is Tasmania, dangling down across the Tasman from the Australian mainland, festering in their own fermenting juices, insular and exciting. One of the main bullhorns spouting the wonders of this places is Wrong Place Right Time Records, and a little while back they released a wrap-up of 2015 in Hobart called Neighbourhood of Infinity. It’s suitably named after a Fall track, and chronicles every facet of warped wonder to emanate from the place. A few you might recognise from these hallowed halls, such as the food-obsessed All The Weathers (the deliciously bent ‘Beans’), Heart Beach (the warmly forlorn buzz of ‘Tegan’), Native Cats (the lyrical staccato/soapbox scree ‘Scratch Act’), Bi-Hour (the downward broken-industrial spiral schooled by an insane headmaster that is ‘Truism’) and Treehouse (jangling and stumbling through the early dawn, a jocular jig and inebriated slip to ‘Hammer At The Door’). But the delights are just as gripping from other quarters – the slow insidious crawl and shadowed incremental cacophony of Wasted Idol’s ‘Seventeen’; the bubbling stargazing spectrum hum of Filthy Little Star’s ‘Keep On Whistling’ (reminding me somewhat of the pastoral experimentation of Soda Eaves and the aforementioned Native Cats in part); the ground-out post-punk bawl and plaintive moths-in-the-wallet despair of Naked’s ‘Beer’; the sneered punk squall of Powernap’s ‘Burn This City’. It’s all wild and weird and necessary. Grab it here.
Tuesday 24 November 2015
Earlier this year, in the second Sonic Masala Fest, I fulfilled a bucket list moment by getting Brisbane legends Screamfeeder to headline. They even finished with two of my favourite tracks, 'Stopless' and 'Bridge Over Nothing'. They have joined up with Poison City Records to reissue all of their albums on vinyl too. And I thought that was it - that was the best that could happen.
I was wrong.
The trio have 'Alone In A Crowd' to hit us in the face with - their first new song in 10 years. It is Screamfeeder, straight out of cryogenic slumber, as fresh and fierce and infectious as ever. If this is the entree, bring on the Last Supper. Pick up this brilliant song with two other newies ('Rules Of Attraction' and 'I'm Fighting') here. And long may Screamfeeder reign.
Monday 23 November 2015
Noah Symons’ work as Great Earthquake has always involved finding sinuous rhythms and fills, a frenetic drumming metronome underscoring a playfulness and acuity spilling out across all instruments that is deft and daring. Thought Broadcasting is just as hyper and hubristic as other GE releases, yet imbued with more twitching excitement and fervour, an exhilaration that is infectious. ‘Empty Me Out’ is particularly playful, a concentric yet contained blast, with glockenspiel chimes and melodica whines trickling out of the corners, lending everything a lightness of touch. Symons has always been interested in finding cadences in the simplest of places and tweaking them – speeding them up, slowing them down, looping them in and around themselves – and Thought Broadcasting is the stripped microcosm of this. And as far as aural pick-me-ups go, you can’t do much better than ‘Full Time Buzz’, a sonic mainline buzz that comes across like a instrumental post-punk circa Entertainment!, just as fervent, but with a more joyous bent.
You can pick up Thought Broadcasting here through Lost & Lonesome.
Sunday 22 November 2015
Another Sunday, another killer hangover. This one also included fireworks, but of a decidedly different nature - I attended a black-tie charity function where the main event was boxing. There was a ring in the middle of the function room, with tables set around it. Now I don't know about you, but regardless of whether you like the sport or not (me = not), there is something disconcerting about adults drinking wine and eating raspberry cheesecake in suits and gowns while white girls with cornrows beat the living shit out of each other. Suffice to say I drank my way through it. Now I am in a dark room, looking for sustenance for my soul. These bands are doing it for me today.
Starting off with Mia La Metta, the solo project for Beards drummer Kathy Gray. Beards is a frenetic left-field post-punk fever dream, a darker, trashier Trash Kit; Mia La Metta then is more exploratory, offering measured takes on the "day job" ('Black Sand') but just as concerned with finding motorik plateaus to air her wonked-pop wares ('White Ship'). The basic drum machine and synth lines are quirky yet effective, and Gray finds melody in the madness. 'Cut The Eye' could be a Peaches composition played by Ladytron, produced by Gary Numan and Wayne Coyne. Weirdness begets excellence. Grab the cassette through Crumb Cabin here.
Vancouver's Cult Babies describe themselves as Rosemary's Baby meets Baby Muppets. Silly, I know, and they know it too - look at the pic above. But one thing that isn't silly is Off To See The Lizard, the five-piece's new EP. Starting with the woozy, lethargic yet massive psych warble 'Garbage People', I felt like I was listening to Kurt Vile doing The Beatles covering Bobby 'Boris' Pickett at his most monster-mashing. 'On A Roll' is more straightforward in is cosmic tripping, but that organ and Theremin sound is so killer that you will go with it. The title track really hits the Black Angels dirge hard, and the live recording makes total sense here. 'Fuck Money' is a lot of fun, a wall of altered states; 'Conspiracy Dog' is gangly yet tightly-wound and deranged; and 'Yes We Cannibal' marches out, a hallucinogenic funeral procession into the mind. Great stuff.
I can't believe I haven't written about NZ champs Street Chant before! Newish track 'Pedestrain Support League' contains everything I love about them - irreverence, a strong sense of the sublime and the ridiculous, jaded jangle and melody to burn. Share-house living, the highs and lows, but mainly the lows. Huora is the band's second album, should be out this month, and I for one cannot wait to actually hear it. Keep up the sardonic sighs in technicolour tracks, guys.
Native Eloquence is three guys outta Oakland who craft what they call "water pop" - the percolating rhythms permeating Big Blue Nowhere tends to back such ideas up. The looped, layered instrumentation, playful grooves that settle like a hypnotic skipping record, and lilting, reverbing vocals evoke Animal Collective or Ducktails with their more spatially meditative mantras. Opener 'Doldrum' is the clear highlight, although the skronking saxophone in 'Habits' and the marimba in 'Wash' shows the breadth of magical talent on display. This album plays lightly on your consciousness, and haunts for days. Really impressed with this one.
Plum is Caleb from Sydney band the Cathys, and his EP Black Doris is four tracks of meandering, gauzy bedroom pop with inflections of shoegaze and somnambulist chill. Dream pop when done right has the audacity to lift spirits as it drifts along - extremely focused even as it seems to shift in the mist. Black Doris captures that elusive spirit.
Finishing up with Bad Lifers. a punk band from Canberra that are no more. That said, Dream Damage are releasing Shelf Life to alert the world on what has been missed. Originally recorded in 2012, the ten tracks on Shelf Life are short and loose, pub and BBQ punk for the urban fringe dwellers. The members went on to join bands like Ausmuteants and Danger Beach, and they were loose units who played alongside The Fighting League. Shelf Life is never going to capture what the handful of Canberrans who caught Bad Lifers live were able to experience, but it'll do...it'll do.
Happy Sunday everyone!
Last year I saw a gig at the Old Fire Station in Stoke Newington, headlined by Slowcoaches. I bumped in to fellow Brisbanite Susan Milanovic, who used to drum for the excellent Feathers (which also featured Roku Music/Deafcult/Tiny Spiders/Thigh Master/etc genius and all round dude Innez Tulloch). She mentioned she wanted to get back into playing, and was jamming with this guy who used to be in a few indie bands some time ago. That guy is Pete Astor, of The Loft and Weather Prophets fame, and the result is Spilt Milk, coming out on Fortuna Pop. It's a classy affair all round - recorded by James Hoare (Veronica Falls, Ultimate Painting) and playing most of the instruments, ably supported by Pam Berry (Withered Hand, Black Tambourine), Robin Christian (Male Bonding), Alison Cotton (The Left Outsides) and Jack Hayter (Hefner). The first sip at the chalice is 'My Right Hand'. Spilt Milk promises to have a pastoral motorik undercurrent driving Astor's esoteric guitar pop stylings. 'My Right Hand' is an ode to all best friends, through thick and thin, with a twinkle in the eye. Flying Nun and McLennan/Forster shines brightly in the background.
Saturday 21 November 2015
Rangda are back! The face-melting trio (Comets On Fire/Six Organs Of Admittance's Ben Chasny, Sun City Girls' Sir Richard Bishop, drummer extraordinaire Chris Corsano) are releasing another slab of frenetic, feverish instrumental rock February next year in The Heretic's Bargain (again through Drag City), and 'To Melt The Moon' is the first salvo. It's a warped Mexican Western jam smothered in macho muscularity, stretched sinew and spasmodic Spaghetti stand-offs. Whenever these guys get in the ring, tightly calibrated carnage ensues. The album has a song called 'Spiro Agnew' and the closing track goes for nineteen minutes. Mind blown already! There is no one out there like this. Pre-order the record here.
I wasn’t expecting All of Something, the new album from Ohio’s SPORTS, to floor me the way it has. It’s pretty obvious that I love 90s guitar rock, whether it be college-era esotericism, gangly instrumental playfulness, slacker ne’er-do-wells, or dirge-like spikes of gravel-spewed aggression. But I am finding that the past month I have been falling into a lighter-limbed sonic freefall, with the likes of The Spook School, Diet Cig, Summer Flake and now Sports being my go to bands to listen to as the days get ever shorter here in London.
Despite the plain name with the connotations of machismo and parochial rabid savagery, Sports is much more earnest and heartfelt, but without the mawkish histrionics. The album is still very much a microcosm of love and other catastrophes on the cusp of leaving adolescence truly behind, but the songs have sonic bark and verbal bite, both playful and damaged, and is a surprise tour-de-force of indie guitar pop abandon. You have the boppy, giddy C86 of 'Saturday' and 'GDP', the maudlin bedroom strum of 'Clean Socks', the urgent earnestness of 'The Washing Machine.' 'Getting On In Spite Of You' is anthemic in the most honest and carefree of ways, and 'Reality TV' Red Bull-and-hormones punk, somehow both bare-bones and beefy in delivery, with hearts brazenly pinned to the sleeve. It's all about cruising in cars, hopping in beds, falling in and out of love wearing the carapace of nonchalance while the fires burn brightly beneath.
But the true gem is 'Stunted', which kicks off their second (and rumoured final) album All Of Something, and it is absolutely killer. The quiet opening, the warm crackle and heft of the guitars as they open up, the drums becoming a clear driving force as the final rousing crescendo hits, and the vocals all join together with Carmen Perry as they finally echo out "We both got what we wanted." It's Juliana Hatfield meets Belly meets The Muffs, and it's both 90s nostalgia and all round great universal songwriting. Perry's voice has that Hatfield/Kristin Hersh twang that could either be 90s American guitar pop twee or country and western whimsy, but is commanding all the time. I am a massive fan of this song in particular, this album in general, and Sports as a whole. If they are drifting apart, let's hope that Perry and co find other ways to give their all to something that we can all enjoy. All of Something is out now through Father/Daughter Records - get it now!
Friday 20 November 2015
Let's double down on today's covers! First up, London scrappers Doe have released this faithful, gooey rendition of 'Susanne', the Weezer track from the Mallrats soundtrack. It's raucous and fun, with more grunt than Cuomo's boys tend to muster. When is the next Doe release? Soon, so I've heard... But until then. You can get it on this 7" Art Is Hard release that is part of the Hand Cut Singles Club..
Then we have SM faves Scott & Charlene's Wedding giving us a rambling, reverbing, shambling 'Benny & the Jets'. We already have one timeless rendition of Elton's hit, a slurred lounge reverie from the Beastie Boys, but Craig Dermody and his gang of gangly losers make this sound like it is their own. The timorous falsetto at breaking point preludes a sonic implosion which is just brilliant - the kind of cover you do when shitfaced and careless/carefree. Love it!
Thursday 19 November 2015
I love the unabashed hi-octane rock and/or roll that Austin’s OBN III’s push with ferocious alacrity. It has always been about pumping out vein-popping, synapse-fizzing songs that are as hook-laden as they are loud and lairy. Worth A Lot Of Money (out now through 12XU) is no different. Here the hooks are even more brazen, blazing and bloodstained – take standout track ‘You Can Let Me Down Now’, a mixture of JSBX braggadocio, Wipers stop-start magnetism and bottom end aggression, and The Clash’s laconic wails. The thing about pointing out influences and inferences on an OBNIIIs album is null and void though – Orville Bateman Neeley III and his band of not-so-merry men are only interested on building the largest, loudest monument to rock on such foundations. The fidelity here is fully glossed but never shies away from the shameless abandon and garage swagger that the band have made their bread and butter – ‘New Money’, ‘Dismissive’ (a subdued filter of Division of Laura Lee covering The Stooges) and ‘The Stalker’ spit and growl. Grab this here.
Monday 16 November 2015
The evolution of rock titans Mogwai continues. Those familiar with the Scottish band's soundtrack work (particularly for Les Revenents AKA French zombie hybrid masterpiece The Returned) will be comfortable in the knowledge that they have become just as devastating with nuance and drum machines as they have with eviscerating noise. So their remix of influential composer Ludovico Einaudi's 'Drop' is as evocative, beautiful and haunting as you would wish for, with no true building coalescence - it drifts off into the spatial ether, an oscillation sounding out in the depths. What with this, their twentieth-year anniversaries, and release of retrospective best-of Central Belters, Mogwai continue to prove that they are untouchable.
NB - it has just been announced that John Cummings has left the band to pursue other musical interests. The band continues on though, with the current members (Dominic Aitchison, Stuart Braithwaite, Martin Bulloch and Barry Burns) being joined on their upcoming live shows by Scott Paterson and Luke Sutherland. We here at Sonic Masala wish John all the best and look forward to hearing what his next sonic stage will be.
Want some wonky, off-key, fully addictive scrapheap pop? Try Talk About Terry, the new 7" out by new act Terry through Upset The Rhythm. A veritable Melbourne supergroup, Terry features the already-spread-thin Al Montfort (Dick Diver, Total Control, UV Race, Lower Plenty, shall we go on?), Zephyr Pavey (Total Control, Eastlink, Russell Street Bombings), Amy Hill (Constant Mongrel, School Of Radiant Living) and Xanthe Waite (Mick Harvey), Terry are all about bad choices (don't listen to them state to the contrary), but delivered with such a feather-light level of jangling insincerity that it doesn't matter. Doug Mosurok calls it "post-traumatic pop" which made me laugh, but is pretty apt too - there is a yearning for acceptance in the early hours of repetition and regret that lends Terry both a fragility and a acerbic wit that belies its slightness. Great stuff. Grab the white 7" here.
Sunday 15 November 2015
Shit Present. Although my present for the baby was a Fisher-Price old-school telephone, so I think I get the benefit of the doubt there... Anyway, their self-titled EP is a buoyant set of tracks, but the one that grabbed my attention was 'Melbourne' - a self-deprecating, barbed and cruisey slowburner at odds with the harder-edged songs bookending it. Turns out that Shit Present features an ex-Smith Street Band member. Small world, ey? They head down to London December 7 to play Power Lunches with a bunch o new bands - worth checking out.
To Sydney now, and another apt band name appears in Solid Effort. The boys love their Australian roots and the idiosyncrasies that lie therein, and have crafted a sound that holds the warm insistent charm of the likes of The Cannanes and Tasman brethren The Clean (especially on 'Bloodstream Corrosion'), while embracing more menacing shades of chagrin as noted on 'One Loose Wire', which struck me as Paul Kelly covering Mere Women. Such opposition comes to its truest fruition with the razor-wire implosion 'Automatic Wives', a tetchy, twitching punk spew. The Woody Guthrie cover is fun and eloquent, while closer 'Wrong Answer McFly!' is prescient due to Back To The Future II's anniversary, but also becomes a parallel universe jam, Protomartyr paring things back to trawl last year's King Gizzard output and pass off the skewed results for Mikey Young to give it his special tweak down the seam. All in all? A bloody exciting opening gambit. See them play in Sydney at the Union Hotel this Thursday alongside another exciting band, Nun of the Tongue.
Musical chameleon Spencer Radcliffe embarks on his own with Looking In, an album rife with pastoral, starry-sky-at-twilight introspection coloured at the edge with quirks and quarks, taking left-field instrumentation and field recordings and meshing them with these softly-woven compositions to create something mesmerising and ebullient. Formally/also known as Blithe Field, Radcliffe offers a restrained and strange antidote to those still mourning the yawning gap that Elliott Smith has left, while imbuing his tunes with Doug Martsch pop subterfuge and David Bazan level lyrical weariness. You can buy the sexy Looking In LP (in either sea blue or burnt orange vinyl) here.
How New Yorkers Cold Sweats aren't huge yet is beyond me. Admittedly the trio have only been around for a few months, but the brutal downward spiral of their debut LP Social Coma is a mash of Pissed Jeans devilish contempt, Black Flag punk nihilism and Protomartyr lurching self-loathing. This kind of noise is always going to pique my attention, yet a band that can thrash and howl with the rest of them can then launch into a disturbed soulful crawl in 'Mock Me Gently' that early Merchandise made their own before they disappeared up their own arses, puts them at the top of the damaged pile.
As if I could go past a band called Weddings. Like the similarly singularly-monikered Shopping, the London quintet are deft at punching out sharp, angular and fun post-punk morsels. Having previously graces stages alongside Protomartyr (third time they've been mentioned this post, weird...), Ought and Free Throw, Weddings are likely to be gracing more than nuptial dancefloors in the near future...
Polyon is a fuzzed-out rock trio that like to build their sonic waves in brooding increments. They have just released Blue, a four-track EP on Funny/Not Funny Records that evokes Hum, Unwound, and Built To Spill in its best moments, and is over far too soon. Don't worry, if you are Stateside you can catch the Washington band smashing out this and more as they launch Blue around the traps - they play Brooklyn's Shea Stadium tonight.
Toronto's The Tailbreakers can see us off today. The garage psych rockers have just brought out their self-titled album through Ongakubaka Records, and coming from this stable you can be rest assured its a reliable, unabashed slab of throwback, wah-heavy, woozy groove goodness - a time capsule of 60s guitar rock and pop frenzy. They don't make em like they used to - unless you're like this, of course.
Happy Sunday everyone!
Canberra label Dream Damage (TV Colours, Bare Grillz, Assassins 88) have been a strong purveyor of Australia's underground music scene, with some great releases from lesser known acts such as the likes of Slow Violence and Cat Cat shining through. Another release they have put forth is Hyperdrive by Ace Romeo AKA Andy Campbell, guitarslinger of The Fighting League. The album is awesome, if fairly eclectic. It starts off the way I expected things to be, and continue (thanks in part to the name, and to the cover art) - 'Heart To You' kicks off with a weird baroque Euro traveller synth disco pastiche - like Todd Terje was playing in a Balkan nightclub with the barest of Rolands and a Gameboy extension. Then the guitar rocks in, live drums, and a lick that feels like a muted hair metal riff - and this is in the first third of the song. The vocals drift through, playing on the same lines of Tame Impala-lite psych soul searching, but as guitars layer over each other, with a much more insistent beat propelling things forward, Ace Romeo isn't trying to emulate those types of glories. The rest of Hyperdrive is equally filled with thrilling curveballs - the throwback pub rock riffage of 'Move To Mars' that fits into the Sydney rock'n'roll set effortlessly; the earnest 80s stadium rock mania of 'Best Friend'; the urgent post-punk meets Sharpies-esque title track; the 70s chase scene cum yacht rock malaise that tears 'Total Riffage' apart... It is honestly like Campbell has grabbed his dad's record collection, thrown it into the dryer, hit maximum spin, scooped out the shattered remains and glued the albums together ad hoc. But it works. I really like this record, and I reckon you will too.
Friday 13 November 2015
Nothing like some exhaustion to start a Black Friday... Melbourne noise heads Exhaustion present new EP Phased Out following on from their Biker LP and their collaboration with Kris Wanders over the past 12 months. The four tracks exhibited here continues the gnarled noise in an inexorable centrifugal free fall, with added industrial destruction from Mark Barrage. The title track is the soundtrack to subterranean tribal law, pagan horror made out of metal and glass, sepulchral figures of feedback fury. Unhinged? Not really; the propulsive metronomic nature of the drums/machine underscore the moans and howls. 'Colleague' offers more abhorrent synthetic scree and anodyne mantras - it fits in with the blackened minimal maximalism that My Disco have taken to their aesthetic on current album Severe, or Perth's Snowman at their basest. These scorched rhythm onslaughts are dissected in the B-side of the EP, with wunderkinds Mikey Young and Stacey Wilson (in Rites Wild mode) taking the reins. Young's 'Phased Out' is laid out like some of the Europunk leather techno that has been entrancing the Australian gutters of recent years (think Multiple Man or Pleasure Symbols, actually cold in Berlin, more earnest, less grimy, more creepy). Rites Wild takes Exhaustion into darker waves, sounding like the techno drone of Yaws or the darkest, desirous regions of Not Not Fun. Put out by Austin label 12XU, Phased Out is yet another transformative experience from one of the best bands in Australia.
When it comes to Cuntz, you know what you are going to get. Force The Zone is their third record, and is as raucous, punishing, hilarious and vitriolic as ever from the Melbourne scum, that is, it’s bloody brilliant. There is equal parts breakneck hardcore punk run through a cement mixer with blue metal, glass and viscera ('Chinese Dreamboat', ‘Mould’) and damaged dirges (‘Factory Floor’, ‘Grill’). ‘Nah’ is diseased Wire angular aggression, a coiled purge. The top-and-tailing 'Cooked I/II' take us into the boiled headspace, with these warped ideas floating amongst the desiccated detritus of their minds, the loosest the boys have ever been - so cooked, basically. So Force The Zone gets weirder and murkier of purpose - and altogether more interesting. Homeless have less than fifty LPs left - get one here.
Thursday 12 November 2015
I’ve been waiting for some time to get to this split record between UK malcontents Hey Colossus and Aussie instrumental destroyers Hotel Wrecking City Traders – but not as long as the two bands have been trying to bring it to fruition, with the bands staying in contact and shooting the shit about collaborations since 2006. They finally played together last year and the excuses became null and void – and here we are.
The A-side (which is redundant really because this is all A material) is taken up by 'Heaven Blows', Hey Colossus' ten minute atonal drone, spending the first third in cryogenic free fall, all manner of post-life matters passing before the eyes and between the ears, a meditative splitting of atoms, slowed down 1200%. The questions being asked doesn't matter - the pulsing ebb here renders them all obsolete. A real sonic palate cleanser from a band more renowned for tearing temporal rifts in time and space into much more warped parallel dimensions. The boys may have a new album already out - more on that soon - but it's imperative you dip into this.
Then double down on 'Droned & Disowned (Pt 2)', the Melbourne contingent smashing forth with a terse yet tightly calibrated twenty-minute leviathan. This is HWCT's bread and butter though, finding the grit and sinew in the elongated sonic crawl, finding the feral and fugue states in the funk, finding the clarity in the clouded haze. Forever restless, forever entwined in both darkness and light. The Matthews bros know when to let loose, when to distort, when to pare back, when to groove, when to cut. Telekinetic alchemy, the changeovers and dips into the rock abyss would be mind-boggling if it wasn't so expected from these guys. The funk cuts to the grind, and it's breathtaking - this is something I never tire of listening to.
You can get the split from either Wild Animals Records or Bro Fidelity Records – a must.
Wollongong has presented some really solid bands over the last few years - and Miners is set to join them. Positioning themselves alongside a growing pantheon of excellent Antipodean shoe gaze acts, the foursome have produced something gauzy, lustrous and yet raucous and altogether stunning on debut EP Pala. There is the parochial nonchalance on songs like 'Wrings', and the swirling maelstrom on opener 'Restless'. But then there is the incessant menace in the post-punk stagger of 'Empty Words', whereas the constant Sonic Youth comparisons becomes a little more apt on the slow amble of 'Ruby', something Day Ravies might have come up with if they OD'd on A Thousand Leaves. Miners close up shop on the 'Moon', a track that swims in the dead oceans of their predecessors, with the silence and slacker strums of 90s college rock underpinning the excellence. This is something else - and I simply cannot WAIT to hear what they come up with next.
Wednesday 11 November 2015
As you may well know, I am a massive Lower Dens fan. Just about anything that Jana Hunter puts her name too, I'm there. So of course I jumped all over Parting Glances, the new album from New York's Air Waves AKA Nicole Schneit. The album is Schneit, her band and a bunch of friends, including members of Hospitality, Crystal Stilts, Woods and more - but it was Hunter's collaborations that were the drawcard for me. 'Thunder' in particular is a real killer - Hunter's burbling metronomic guitar lines evoking the best of Lower Dens' insidious psych meanderings, while Schneit croons about about the danger of addictive personalities (I think?) - it's the darkest song on the album, and for me by far the best. 'Horse Race' is more upbeat, albeit by a smudge, what with the piano and the warm hum as the hunt for a man in a fast Cadillac rolls on. But listen to Parting Glances and these additional musicians become less and less noticeable, blending effortlessly into Schneit's dusky guitar pop world. That long-car, fleeting-light mentality that permeates 'Horse Race' is held aloft throughout - I felt like I was listening to Heart or The Cars in a 21st century self-aware bathysphere, taking on lyricism and melody that is both rustic and heartfelt, gleefully sonorous and yet filled with chagrin. Other favourites include the wistful 'Fantasy', the slow burn 'Milky Way' and the charged, countrified squall of 'Sweet Talk'. Above all, Parting Glances is a great record. Grab it here.
Toronto duo Beliefs have crafted a buoyant dream pop winner in their LP Leaper. Starting with the typical yet nonetheless sunnily ebullient 'Tidal Wave', the band take some nicely carved tangentials - '1992' comes out like the calendar-similar Smashing Pumpkins track covered by mid-era Blonde Redhead; the soft-lens narcoleptic grind of 'Drown' ekes out a Dinosaur Jr vibe, albeit one in the Kurt Vile end of the noise pop pool; and the title track fully embraces the duo's penchant love for Sonic Youth angularity and spoken obliqueness. It is clear that Leaper revels in the 90s afterglow - its a steady stream of a dream. Pre-order Leaper through cool little label Hand Drawn Dracula (who also put out stuff from the likes of Fresh Snow and Vallens) here.
Tuesday 10 November 2015
Here is a new enterprise out of Brisbane that I think is incredibly exciting. Ghost Notes guitarist Owen has joined forces with close friend Kelly for Tall Pines, a grunged out grind somewhere between the revisionist post-shoegaze schisms of fellow Brisbanites Deafcult and the sludgy hypnotics of True Widow. The duo (with fellow Ghost Noter Cam Smith on drums) have released just the two tracks so far, but they are both killer - 'Palo Verde' has a post-punk insistence and sparsity that lends a stark menace to the edges; while 'Extreme Handshakes' eschews the subtlety of the former with a mid 90s brood that washes out in white noise in the middle third. Early days, but Tall Pines seem like the business.
Sunday 8 November 2015
I wasn't expecting much from The Orange Glow, seeing as I never really hooked into the frothing masses that genuflected at the altar of Foxygen. But this is Globelamp, the solo work from that band's Elizabeth le Fey. And while her vocal delivery can irk, its jaw-dislocating drawls that evoke the pixie pall of Joanna Newsome or (god forbid) Julia Stone (or anyone on an Instagram-shot advertisement) somehow morphs into something more surreal, brittle and defiant, the type of psych folk that has backbone and balls with its flights of fantasy - a sun-bleached 21st century Gothic parable, leaving the Moors for Laurel Canyon. I haven't been this pleasantly surprised by something in this realm since Father John Misty abducted Aubrey Plaza - in short, this is pretty great. Grab The Orange Glow from here.
Friday 6 November 2015
This has been doing the rounds on the ol webz so you have probably heard this, but I can't get over how amazing Sludgefest is. Brian Borchardt of Holy Fuck fame has grabbed some of the classic tracks that were covered by the 'classic' cartoon brainbleeders Alvin & the Chipmunks, and slowed it right down so that the anthropomorphed rodents sounds somewhat human - and the results are extraordinary, giving us a dirty post-punk on heroin renditions of the likes of The Bangles, Pat Benatar and Belinda Carlisle. This SHOULD be an actual band, because I haven't heard reappropriated renditions so iconic, unique and stunning as this for ages. And the most recent version is Tom Petty's 'Refugee', which I could envision Liam Kenny doing - yep, that good. Melt the sugar right dooooooooooooooooooown.
Not much needs to be said here. It's Friday, and I keep getting excited that there is another goddamn Tortoise album on the horizon. Admittedly I have to wait until January to get it, but if 'Gesceap' is anything to go by, The Catastrophist is going to be cataclysmic. The 7 minute track is a percolating, bucolic latticework of glowing instrumentation, a slowburn brew that moves towards a cathartic maelstrom that is nevertheless studied and muted - an excursion into the Chicago genius' subconscious. Add to that that Thrill Jockey are reissuing every single Tortoise album - in coloured vinyl no less - and my Christmas is DONE. Pre-order The Catastrophist in turquoise vinyl here.
Thursday 5 November 2015
Good luck seeing the fireworks tonight in this horrendous deluge London! Doesn't mean there won't be lost limbs - it's a given, right? If you want to stay indoors yet feel the heat, you could do worse than jump on board the Big Wow train, the new album from local lad Warm Brains. One of the hardest working dudes over here, Rory Atwell has carved out a slick yet discordant ode to eking out an existence in Boris Johnson's playground, the 21st century a breeding ground for self-entitled twats, hipster gnats and the strangling of creative freedom and control. What a downer? Not really - Warm Brains has always been about carving out a leering jack'o'lantern of insidious rhythms and hooks in even the most morbid of material, and he remains on song here. From the self-serving and congratulating reprobates and zombies that litter hip hotspots on 'Languid Tarmac' to the suppression of genius by mediocrity ('Pink Blackpool Rock') and City boy fucks ('Now That I'm Boring'), every hated corner of Atwell's world is covered. A melodic earworm that still kicks out at the pricks, Big Wow is pretty great. Pick it up here. Warm Brains plays the Shacklewell Arm this Saturday, while the launch is at The Old Blue Last November 11.
Seeing as Guy Fawkes Night came about due to insurgent anger at persecution (however misguided), I thought the two entries today should have their fair share of teeth-baring animosity. I'm kicking off with New Orleans punks Buck Biloxi & the Fucks who have already sold out of most copies to new LP Streets Of Rage (you can grab some copies here). Brutal and combative, rank and diseased, viscous and virile, Streets of Rage turns the detritus and bugbears of lowest common denominator society and spins it into rancid gold. From 'Rock 'n Roll Sucks Part 2' to the tin-can slammed 'Everything Is Fake', the album is for shitkickers and rabblerousers alike. It's a little clearer than previous Fucks releases, which tells me one thing - with such desiccated brilliance, 'I Don't Wanna Be Dead'.
Wednesday 4 November 2015
Tuesday 3 November 2015
Cassette label Whalesmouth (Cool Sounds, Cat Cat) have put two great releases out over the past couple of months. I'm going to start with Theta Waves, the debut album for Melt, the solo guise for Jordan Rodgers from Wives (another release that slipped through Sonic Masala's clutches...) It's a stunning suite of spartan motorik guitar jams that coalesces in weird and wonderful ways, with the creme de la creme of Canberra's musicians offering their dulcet tones over the top. It winds sinuously from the seductively sparse 'Wait' to the percolating march of 'Sydney To Canberra' (which reminds me of Mark McGuire's Innertube efforts), the mid-career Blonde Redhead post-punk of 'Good Form' or the deliciously off-kilter 'Ancestor' (featuring the ever excellent work from Orlando Furious).
Then there is Rastrejo, another moniker, this time for Spanish musician Jose Guerrero. His band Cuello blew me away with their last album Mi Brazo Que Te Sobre (read about it here), and have another on the way. But Lamina Focal is just one of many albums Guerrero has put out under his own steam, and the first on the Melbourne label (and their first international release). It's an experimental drone blast that is far removed from Cuello's grooves - a jagged tantric spiral into chaotic sonic prisms of affected light, the kind of cyclical drone that would echo in a never ending Vaseline-lensed Giallo yellow and red drenched fever dream
I picked up Spring King right back at the beginning, before they started kicking arse on a global scale (they are getting some good airtime in Australia, at any rate). No, I'm not playing the I knew them before you did game. It's been a while since I dipped into these Mancunian waters, however. But with 'Who Are You?', I am getting a distinctly dark, Nordic garage cool vibe, something the likes of Division Of Laura Lee or The (International) Noise Conspiracy harnessed so effortlessly. And of course there is a sax solo in here... It's a frenetic furnace blast to the face.
Monday 2 November 2015
Almost a month since we sat down and had a aural powwow. Sorry about the incommunicado. So here is the start of the comeback. I missed the Mugstar show in London earlier this year that was a part of Mogwai's 20th anniversary bashes (also playing? Tortoise, Lightning Bolt, Loop and GZA, FUCK). Chunklet put out this excellent 7" earlier in the year to coincide with the Liverpool veterans' US tour - and there are four left. The two tracks are exactly what you would expect - their acid-drenched spark and boil permeates through 'Kabuki Skull', an electrified percolating mess somewhere in the vicinity of a caffeinated Carlton Melton melting into the primordial sun; while 'Goat Head' eats into the heart of stoner rock's etched-in-granite mantras. Let's hope for something more soon - with a band as prolific as these guys, we shouldn't be waiting long.