Thursday 31 December 2015

A Final Rush Before The Year Ends...#3 (and final - Happy New Year!)

Last post of the year! Time to down tools and get drinking. So here are ten final releases I missed in the latter stages of '15 that really are special...

Pronto are a Melbourne powerhouse that somehow manage to remain under the radar. Their first album of last year was rad - now Slovenly Records has picked up their second, dual-self-monikered record, and it is more of the same raucous garage punk with Sharpie/pub rock flourishes. 'No Balance' is more eye-gouging reckless than evident of flair - very inner Melbourne gutter swillers, then (an infinite compliment of course). Listening to 'Animal', however, and I get a rush as if listening to Coloured Balls - and a tear in the eye, cos I reckon Stevie Wright of the Easybeats woulda loved these guys. Totally unheralded (in my opinion), Pronto should be in everyone's record collection - get on this before the countdown begins tonight.

Us The Band hail from Sydney, and are linked with Rice Is Nice. I hadn't heard of them until last week - they are definitely slaying with grandstand party noise a la DZ Deathrays, with a slathering of Cloud Nothings aggression. They are impressing the likes of FatCat Records and one Henry Rollins, so expect a massive 2016 from the two-piece (yep, all from just two dudes - it shouldn't be a surprise anymore, really!)

How I missed this one is beyond me, seeing as good mate Leigh is such a big fan too. The Mantles released a new record in All Odds End. Along with Salad Boys' Metalmania, which I mentioned yesterday, had I known this was out earlier this would have been in my top 20 releases of the year (I guess that means it's been extended to 22?). Ten tracks of tempered temporal guitar pop ecstasy.

if you are a fan of Thrill Jockey Records and/or Wrekmeister Harmonies, you would already be all over Night Of Your Ascension. A year long work with thirty-odd musicians coming through the carousel, joining JR Robinson on his endless journey into the bucolic Gothic night. People like Marissa Nadler, Bitchin Bajas/Cave-man Cooper Crain and Alexander Hack are here, but there isn't any true touchstone. There is so much happening here, that a couple of listens hasn't done it justice. I will have to wait until my partner is out of the house to fully submerge in this primordial excursion, but suffice to say it calls to me - and you.

California and psych music tends to sprawl, invite the sun right in. Santa Cruz' Mammatus aren't all that different. Their new double LP is called Sparkling Waters, the cover art is a wave crashing over rocks under a crystal blue sky, and the first 22 minute odyssey, 'Sparkling Waters Part One', starts with a shimmering ambient cascade of chimes and elongated sonorous drone. This is shattered though by some feedback, noodling, freewheeling drums and crunching riffs. The entire song goes in different slipstreams that it is hard to hold onto whatever buzz you are supposed to have - and this is just the first act, there are three more sides to explore! I have a feeling I will be revisiting this more and more as they madness seeps into my pores.

Mike Krol is a layabout garage comedian, dressing in police uniforms and spouting silliness with a delirious stare and gurning grin. He is not hiding any rock credulity though, because Turkey is the real deal - despite singing about taking figurative/literal vengeance on offending exes, bike stealers, cacti, or his garage rock brethren, he does it all with a knowing, spit-flinging nonchalance that belies the incredible hooks embedded within. I am only just getting into this - I actually bought it last night on my way home from the pub - but I can't wait to witness this in action in 2016.

I know nothing of Quebec duo Ponctuation, other than a friend from France had this on at his place over Christmas and it has blown me away. I only found out the band was from Quebec about twenty minutes ago. When listening to it in a haze of pot and red wine, I heard Syd Barrett, Thee Oh Sees, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, early Strokes, Ty Segall, Tim Presley... La Realite Nous Suffit is so good. And there is only one LP left with the band, so grab it here now!

I have been promising to write about It's You, the debut album from Melbourne's Gold Class, for months now. I actually had it pencilled for review with a new writer for Sonic Masala - which fell through. Suffice to say that it is very good - an unabashed Joy Division take on Australian soil, Adam Curley's baritone howl both maudlin and a siren call out into the faceless night. The band is so tight, weaving nimbly from barbed post-punk to shuffling-behind-shutters blues without jarred displacement. Gold Class rule their domain. Favourite tracks - 'Furlong' and 'Athena'.

Very little electronic stuff in the last thirty odd releases I've raced through over the past two days - so here is Howl, from London's Rival Consoles (which you can get on delicious red vinyl). Admittedly the gamut of the album has been created using manual instruments over digital hardware, but Ryan West's intent is to swallow you up into the deep silk darkness of his suites, but to pinball you, careen you against the surfaces of his songs, so that you feel them, can touch the cuts and bruises, to truly connect. There are no slipstreams - this is a construct made of solid constructions, so that you find your own pathways, your own hooks to latch on to. An album that keeps on rewarding, shifting minutely depending on time/mood/atmosphere/lighting/hydration levels/inebriation levels... You can tell I really enjoyed Howl.

French madman The Dictaphone has, on Hazmat, created a time capsule that should be treated with care. You can tell by the rattling of the box that there are components within actively fighting each other, like the teeth of cogs not truly made for each other, straining, gnashing, pressure rising to breaking point. A post-punk realism is underscored with freewheeling, loose-limbed, barely on the tracks experimental punk flights of fantasy, so that you are never sure what you are actually listening to. Maybe this is a chimera, and once ingested will take its true form, a quivering mass of extraterrestrial psych rock in compact form. Wonderfully weird.

And as we wind out 2015, I thought we could finish with Chicago bad seeds Gross Pointe. Their EP is out now on Hozac Records. It has been a wild and woolly year - some euphoric highs, but more devastating lows. Let's hope there are less bad seeds and we sow more of our own in 2016. Count me out!

Wednesday 30 December 2015

A Final Rush Of Cheer Before The Year Ends...#2

Another ten releases that I feel I need to pay lip service to before the year is out (sorry for not offering longer reviews...)

Last week I wrote about Carpet Yankers, the new album from Shrapnel AKA Sam Wilkinson. Another of his bands, Mope City, also have a new record out, Petri Dish (out through Tenth Court). This record was nearly Sonic Masala Records' eighth release - instead we released Wilkinson's OTHER band, Day Ravies' Liminal Zones, so swings and roundabouts. I don't know how he does it, but he surrounds himself with incredible, gelling performers, and every band has its own distinct feel. Petri Dish is a strong foray into laconic, slackjawed indie rock, where melody is omnipresent regardless of the scuzz that sneaks up to scuff the pop constructions meticulously built up. Mope City are a band of opposites - kicking out at and embracing apathy, empathy, cheer and chagrin. They aren't bi-polar so much as realistic - the seesaw of life being ridden with credibility, credulity and more than a lashing of cool. A bloody great album, guys.

The "resurrection" of Melbourne's incendiary electric punk pioneers Primitive Calculators has been one of awe and abrasion - their album The World Is Fucked was ahead of its time even as it existed in an Australia/Western world that mirrored the dystopian nihilism the quartet have always foretold would lie on the killing floor since the 70s. And now here is I'm Fucked, another 7" that emulates the anger and aggression that you would expect - disco doom. Give up Sleaford Mods, these cyber soothsayers echo our demise in more relatable fashion - and allow us to dance to our graves.

Christchurch slackers Salad Boys seemingly burst out of nowhere to jag a release through Trouble In Mind Records. The resultant album, Metalmania, is frankly one of the most addictive, hook-filled, fun yet accomplished records I have heard this year - it would have been in my top 20 of the year except I only listened to it for the first time two days ago when handed it for Christmas. They are clearly indebted to The Clean - never a bad thing - but listen to 'No Taste Bomber', 'Dream Date' and 'Hit Her And Run' and you realise that these guys are the real fucking deal.

Oneida need no introduction; the Brooklyn wildmen of unwieldy, experimental rock and insane percussion are legends unto themselves. They have just released Positions, a three-track EP through Rocket Recordings that is both furious and furiously fun (seeing as two-thirds of the EP are renditions of other bands' already fucked-up tracks). Opener, This Heat's 'S.P.Q.R.' references ancient Rome (and is also the title of this year's best history novel, by Mary Beard, check it out if you haven't already) and is brutal, propulsive and implosive; the original 'Under Whose Sword' takes the ominous middle road between dronal exultation and atonal oblivion; and 16 minute 'All Data Lost' stretches the source material (from Chrome) into infinite spaces, a blotted miasma of weirdnik noise before a rhythmic mantra kicks into overdrive. Pure Oneida, then.

Melbourne's Shards are one band very difficult to get a hold of, despite their unheralded self-titled debut being one of the best Australian releases of last year. Again the band have slipped a release in without notice - Best New Reissue. There is a more tempered, bedroom-issue undercurrent to this release - the cover art hints heavily as much - but their imaginative takes on more traditional pop conventions remain front and centre. Favourite tracks - lyrics and sprawled malaise of the title track and the percolating calm of 'Flurnz'.

Norman Westberg is a gargantuan figure in the noise rock scene, being guitarist for flayed beast that is Swans. He is also a apocalyptic soundscapist, and on his Room40 release 13 has three tracks of haunting ambient monochrome noise that stretches sanity to its limits (all done through his guitar, mind you...) 'Oops, Wrong Hat' is the most sonorously relatable here, and the most "fun" - 'Frostbite Falls' and 'Bunny Bill' inexorably pull closer to the abyss. In other words, it's mesmerising.

The Lovely Eggs are a couple outta Lancaster who thrash around a lot, make a lot of scrappy punk noise with pop fizz, and love to get on, get loud, and get off. Their 7" is just that sharp, drunk and hook-laden. There is nothing better to do in Lancashire I hear - and The Lovely Eggs do it best.

Cult Of The Dead Bird is a Brazilian dude taking time out from his band duties to expand the psych sprawl. I like it best when it gets heavy and dark, like on 'Autumn Mantra', but there are so many variants of seasonal haunts on here that every shadowed corner is a delight to explore.

And we can finish off with a more familiar record to some, as Hozac Records re-released New York sleazoids Chrome Cranks' debut LP on its 20th anniversary. I never owned it on the first run around - I barely knew the "real" world twenty years ago - so the dirty bluesy rock and roll squalls that these guys ooze out of their pores suits the year's end pretty well, I reckon.

Tuesday 29 December 2015

A Final Rush Of Cheer Before The End Of The Year...#1

Looking at the amount of unread emails in the inbox and the piles of records/cassettes/CDs cluttering my room and desk, there is a LOT of good music I haven't gotten around to talking about this year on Sonic Masala. So in a last ditch effort to right at least some of these wrongs, here is the first in a short series of posts that gives a few choice words about releases that deserve so much more...

Three great friends as two great acts, forging to form one cataclysmic collaboration in All Wet. The manipulated tape black noise and drums of Danyl Jesu melds with the more subdued sonic explorations of Pale Earth - and creates something of a minor masterpiece. The dronal pummelling hypnosis of opener 'Abdelazer' alone is shocking in its muscularity, yet maintaining an immersive tractor-beam rhythm that actually gets stuck in the brain. The creepy twilight subversiveness and sub-Berlin monochrome sleaze of '8 Seconds' (it's much longer than that), the staccato vocals over the buzz and malfunction of 'Young Withcott', the chaotic euphoric inherent in 'Cheyenne', the industrial Giallo of 'The Rugged Old Cross' - these are new worlds, my friends.

Quetzal Snakes is a heavy psych outfit out of Marseilles in France. II is the brutal blast you have all been waiting for - as they growl on 'Brutal Beach', "I want your soul/I want your DNA". Based on the blasted brilliance of this song alone, I am hooked. There is a feral intensity here that is missing from most psych rock bands, so Quetzal Snakes have my vote, all the way.

The Altered Hours was slammed into my inbox in excess of ten times over the course of a couple weeks. That is usually the time I ban the sender and slag them off. But it wasn't the band's problem, just a ridiculously overzealous promoter. The RIYL included Sonic Youth, which I will always check out. The latest taste off their incoming debut LP In Heat Not Sorry, Silver Leather', is much more indebted to the likes of My Bloody Valentine in its sonorous noise and Brian Jonestown Massacre in its plodding yet intoxicating psych squalls. 'Way Of Sorrow' has a darker, more insistent post-punk bent, more feverish and desperate. I am looking forward to the album - and the live shows, as they have a massive tour of Europe lined up for March.

I've been trying to corner Eugene Quell to headline a Sonic Masala: London show for a few months now. It's been tough, seeing as their latest EP I Will Work The Land has just been released on Exploding In Sound Records... It is excellent - a lopsided, scruffy affair - the opener 'London Pollen' is a woozy, maudlin masterclass in slacker ennui infused with gritty enthusiasm, while the next two tracks show a distortion-heavy wash over cracked pop melody that we haven't heard since the late 90s. 'RRW' ends things on an acoustic lo-fi meander. Keeping an eye on this.

The rise and rise of Russian shoegazers Pinkshinyultrablast continues on 'The Cherry Pit', a cathartic shoegaze bliss bomb and first taste from their upcoming sophomore album Grandfeathered (coming out again through Club AC30). It showcases exactly why the quintet are blowing away fans everywhere - they take the hallmarks of the hallowed genre and through euphoric vocals, showering-sparks instrumentation that lights up the darkness so that when the wall of noise invariably comes it becomes a transcendental experience, something emotional and connective.

Birmingham garage pop tarts The Castillians are prepping a PNKSLM release in their second LP, You And Me. 'Piggy In The Middle' is the second single from it, and it's the kind of brazen, braggart garage rock that both label and band are synonymous with. There is a throwback haze over the swagger, with added horns from Sweden band Pinemen (another act I will be speaking about in time).

I have mentioned the somnambulist musings of London's Lake Michigan in the past - his releases through Brisbane-based Ruined Smile Records have impressed. He reminds me of the pastoral, poetic simplicity of Soda Eaves, with the deep drawl spoken vocal delivery that reminds me of James X Boyd & the Boydoids. He has another release on its way in Further (another split label release that'll include Ruined Smile), and 'Boxes' is the perfect encapsulation of what he does best - a dark ruminative presence in the early hours, contemplating life, love and loss, desperately clutching the guitar as a mystic piece of flotsam, while trying to sort out the banal minutiae of the everyday before disappearing into the ether.

Atlantans Mtn Isl have just released their self-titled album on cassette. I have often mentioned my guarded trepidation with cassette releases - I know their value as a cost-effective physical release, but I often think when something impressive has been achieved, that there must be a better way of distribution. (Who know - Sonic Masala Records might end up doing CS releases come 2016, totally eschewing such thoughts...) This is a great album, a mixture of rugged math rock, blasted stoner drudge and cathartic post-hardcore - a sandpaper cleansing with gravel-throated epiphanies. It reminds me to a degree of a flannel-warped and bourbon-drenched Chavez. All in.

Another Exploding In Sound release here (I don't think I pass any of these up). Kal Marks have passed around 'Dorothy' to precede their new album Life Is Alright, Everybody Dies. Carl Shane's garbled, gurgled drawl isn't everyone's cup of tea, and their subject matter is often downhearted, almost dystopian (or maybe Shane is the ultimate pragmatist), but their shuddering instrumentation evokes the best of the EiS stable (thinking of Pile and Porches., among others). 'Dorothy' shows a degree of empathy towards the downtrodden rather than a sense of defeatist nihilism, and reminds me of early-doors Something For Kate when they were post-punk and Fugazi centred before becoming enamoured with the middle of the road. Love it.

Finishing off this initial flourish with Murals, a Kentucky-based trio from the Fire Talk stable (with bands like Erasers, Dreamcrusher and Media Jeweler releasing excellent albums this year, this label has been on point in 2015). Violet City Lantern is an album imbued with a cavernous rabbit-hole production, as if these folk machinations were emanating from a jewelry box crackling through a broken radio from a parallel universe version of the 1970s. It's beautiful - not something I would normal imagine entrancing me as much as it has. It isn't out until February, but listen to 'Long Bridge' and prepare to be transported...

Monday 28 December 2015

The Spectre Of Radiohead Past

I know that a gazillion posts about this song will have infiltrated and clogged the internet by now - but Radiohead recorded a song for the Bond movie SPECTRE (which it must be said was fun but incredibly overrated - but I'm not a Bond man so what would I know?) The song takes me back to Kid A/Amnesiac era Radiohead, which played a great part in my musical "development" - I may not listen to those albums (or this band) very much anymore, but the mists of nostalgia come over me when I hear Yorke's voice wafting over sweeping strings like this. Anyway, it's a far sight better than the insipid Sam Smith in my opinion...

Sunday 27 December 2015

Sonic Masala - Hits of '15

Bit late, what ya gonna do? Sonic Masala's list of "things" in no particular order...

20 ALBUMS of '15:

US Girls - Half Free
My Disco - Severe
Uniform - Perfect World
Housewives - Work
Trupa Trupa - Headache
Viet Cong - Viet Cong
Kitchens Floor - The Battle Of Brisbane
The Spook School - Try To Be Hopeful
Girls Pissing On Girls Pissing - Scrying In Infirmary Architecture
Ex Breathers - Past Tense
Making - Highlife
Deaf Wish - Pain
Totally Mild - Down Time
Spray Paint - Punters On A Barge
Lehmann B Smith - Thank God For My Body
Pale Heads - Headless
Primitive Motion - Pulsating Time Fibre
So Stressed - The Unlawful Trade Of Greco-Roman Art
Lightning Bolt - Fantasy Empire
Greys - Lyre
Day Ravies - Liminal Zones (I know, this is bias - but it is pretty awesome)


Deafcult - Deafcult
Negative Space - Demo
Stations - Stations
Exhaustion - Phased Out & W/ Kris Wanders
Pretty Hurts - Expectations
The Rangoons - A Postcard From Rangoon Island
Perfume Garden - Splintered Time
Mutton - Flyblown
Ballroom - Ballroom
Tempo House - Sketches
EVA - Zeroes
Yaws - Undo U/Candy
Andrew Tuttle - Slowcation
Danyl Jesu/BARGE With An Antenna On It - Celebration/BARGE (again, bias, whatever)


Lightning Bolt - 'The Middle East'
US Girls - 'Sororal Feeling'
Halt Ever - 'Patricia'
Pontiak - 'Shit Sucks'
Tortoise - 'Gesceap'
The Gooch Palms - 'Tiny Insight'
Sweet Talk - 'Someone Else'
Kitchens Floor - 'Sundowner'
Nth Wheel - 'Shutter'
Sports - 'Stunted'
Hotel Wrecking City Traders - 'Droned & Disowned (Pt2)'
Die Verboten - 'E40'
Terry - 'Talk About Terry'
Rolling Blackouts - 'Clean Slate'
Frida - 'Slowly'
Ought - 'Sun's Coming Down'
Wilful Boys - 'Flat Out'
The Ocean Party - 'Guess Work'
All The Weathers - 'Oh And Yes'
The Stress Of Leisure - 'Goodyear Blimp'
Heptagon Heaven - 'World Government'
Aliment - 'Car Crush'
Old Mate - 'Atmospheric Pressure'
Bad Dreems - 'Cuffed & Collared'
Darts - 'Solitary Refinement'


Another four releases through the label (Ghost Notes' Moonlight State, Dollar Bar's Hot Ones, split 12" between Danyl Jesu and BARGE With An Antenna On It, and Day Ravies' Liminal Zones)
Sonic Masala Fest '15
Screamfeeder dedicating 'Stopless' to me @ SM Fest '15
Sonic Masala's first show in London (ft Giant Swan, Yaws, mnttab and Tooms)
Seeing Japan's The Piqnic - one of the best sets I have witnessed in years
Going to my first Golden Plains festival in Meredith, Melbourne
Seeing Pile @ The Lexington, London
Seeing Disappears @ The Lexington, London
Hosting Nathan (other half of SM Records) in London for a few days in May
Finding out Christos Tsioklas (author of The Slap and Barracuda) is a big fan of Dollar Bar
Meeting a lot more excellent people.

Here's to 2016!

Monday 21 December 2015

Eyes Wide x Ninety

I’ve been meaning to write about this busted rock’n’roll release for ages – a Brisbane tour-de-force to be sure. Led by ex Standing 8 Counts madman Tom Beaumont and joined by Ben Buchanan (Chinese Burns), Rick and X (Eat Laser Scumbag!, Chinese Burns), Eyes Ninety's debut LP has all of these sounds rattling around its rustbucket offering like a soul trying to bust itself out of a sweltering outback prison – decrepit, fetid, disintegrated and a ramshackle mess that is mesmerising. The lung-flaying opener 'I Don’t Wanna Live (In Your World)’ pulls no punches, offering a rusted garage caterwaul. Other great tracks (they are all pretty great) includes the scourged 70s pub punk of ‘Canton II’, the Eddy Current static-tetchy growl and punch of ‘Ants’, the Stooges with no fidelity in a tin shed appeal of closer ‘New Key’. It makes sense that this bruiser is on Swashbuckling Hobo Records – this kind of skewed rock punk (as opposed to punk rock) is right at home in its dirty halls. Get into this here.

Sunday 20 December 2015

Spider Goat Canyon - Always Heavy

I'm travelling up through the midlands of England after a massive weekend in Oxford. I am suitably broken. My head wrapped in headphones, my hand shakily clasping a huge bottle of tepid water - and I am subjecting myself to brutality, because it's good and I deserve it.

Bro Fidelity Records is a Melbourne label that fossicks from a particular earthen vein of heavy rock. Most of the bands involved – Hotel Wrecking City Traders, Daggers Mid Flight, River Of Snakes, Fire Witch – all feature members from the same cloistered coven, all intent on creating dark yet rhythmic metallic rock that pummels in submission that seduces onto the rocks of despair – or just plain kills. Another band in this ilk is Spider Goat Canyon, and their album Always The Heavy fits this modus operandi from the album title down. 6 years in the making, and marking the last recordings with guitarist Steve Brick, this gargantuan release is a release of tension, a steeling of resolve, a Pyrrhic victory to those (un)lucky enough to hear it. A broiling concoction of drone, doom, 70s to 90s metal and elongated space rock, the album starts with a weird yet ominous instrumental track, ‘Rat Tooth’, with what sounds between a strangled sax and a strangled voice hovering in the middle distance, a muddied doom riff slowly coming into start focus by song’s end. ‘Needle Drivers’ brings the dronal vocals, while ‘Crunk’ takes metal with a glass-ripped vocal assault. ‘Vertigo’ is a faster, feverish trip – and all three major deviances has been laid out and flayed. Some of the music reminded me of my childhood (the aforementioned, early Metallica-aping ‘Needle Drivers’, the sinuous bass giving a Tool resonance to ‘Chadrick’) and some more recent predilections reared their heads (the droned feedback of ‘Heart Attack’; the cataclysmic instrumental breakdown the brilliantly deranged ‘Men’). By the time the mammoth punches of ‘Secret Valley’ and ‘Embryonic Gillslits’ hit (both approaching 20 minutes), the noise journey this trio take you on is tantamount to undertaking the Twelve Tasks of Hercules, a penance being paid, seemingly, just for being alive. But in many ways that is exactly what Always The Heavy is – a black mass, repenting for the sins of the past, present and future, yet with a twinkle in the eye that is upturned towards the stratosphere and beyond. All plains are crossed and conquered, all voices have been heard and silenced. A colossal album from start to finish.

Saturday 19 December 2015

Virgin Cracks

The last Sonic Masala show of the year featured some amazing bands (Ruiners, Furrow, and an incendiary set by Japan's The Piqnic = one of the best things I have seen in forever). I was pleased to see Virgin Kids again too after I saw them support Surf City last year. They are tighter and more boisterous, somewhere between Ty Segall and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. 'Cracks In A Colour' is the first track off their incoming album Greasewheel (out in March on Fluffer and Burger Records). It's a killer blast that rollicks along, managing to be both lethargic and manic.

Friday 18 December 2015

Carpet Shrapnel Yanked From Sam's Brain

Sydney basement dreamers Shrapnel have released Carpet Yankers, a cool cat cassette from Sam Wilkinson (Day Ravies, Mope City, King Tears Mortuary etc etc, out through his Strange Pursuits label). Shrapnel is Wilkinson letting fly, embracing his inner Bob Pollard, Stephen Malkmus, Jason Lowenstein and Calvin Johnson. From the frayed slacker bilge of chugging opener 'Chicken Fantasy', to the Sebadoh-meets-wasted Lennon in Erskineville warp of 'Floss The Boss' and the Doug Martsch fronting Superchunk in a tin can of 'Face On The Desk' - there are a lot of cantankerous, haphazard, blistering in the shade rock on offer. But there is as much time for cracked reflection, as is heard on the thin synth and crackling vocals wasting away on the title track, or the nascent acoustic dement-folk of 'Procrastinate/Disintegrate'. By eschewing the warm wall of sound of Day Ravies and the lo-fi (S)andpit growl of Mope City, Shrapnel is an experiment in freefall thoughts, allowing everything to ferment and take root, no matter how weird and wild. My favourite tracks (for the moment, the mood shifts like a serpent in the sludge) is the wonky, anaesthetised rock with added Beatle riff 'Duty To Do' and the Breeders cruise closer 'Stewing With You'. Yeah, there are a shedload of references rolled out today, but when listening to Carpet Yankers that is what it feels like - a carefree, bloody talented performer playing with the hits - and winning. Grab it here.

Thursday 17 December 2015

Palming A Tiny Gooch Insight

Newcastle garage ne'er do wells The Gooch Palms keep kicking goals now they are based over in the States, what with playing all over the shop with the likes of Spray Paint and Mike Krol, and having their awesome debut record NOVO's rereleased through the mighty Burger Records. The style mutants have this new track to see out the year, 'Tiny Insight', and it is exactly want you want and need - Kat's simple yet pummelling drums kicking forth Leroy's surf/soul/punk riffs - and the lyrics are as awesome as always - watching footy, shooting hoops - he may look like an idiot but he's just a regular guy... They are releasing a new album next year, and are sure to play a zillion shows too. 2016 promises to be the Year of the Gooch.

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Snotty Sewer Babies

Sydney label Exxe Records have another hit on their hands with the chaotic slime oozing from Snotty Babies' new EP. It shares some of the anarchic swill and cataclysmic noise that fellow Sydneysiders Ghastly Spats spew forth - these are short stabs at the central vortex, Banshee wails and grinding caterwauls. Even when things "plod" along in 'Death of the Party', its still breakneck and brutal. Violent sewer punk to eat the soul. Grab it here.

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Power Boogie

Nothing like a bit of straight up, straight ahead punk and roll. The band Power know how to deliver - Electric Glitter Boogie is dirty and loud as fuck. Raw with the right elements of gutter glam, pub drunk punk, riff-heavy rock and crunching noise, this is music of the past for the future. They bond over Coloured Balls, have the roaring intensity of MC5, and the staggered swagger of Bolan channelling Allin. A sweat drenched bolt out of the blue, I cannot get enough of this brutal cataclysm of a record. Grab the LP through Cool Death Records here.

Monday 14 December 2015

We Expect You To Die! Die! Die!

NZ maelstrom Die! Die! Die! have always maintained a frenetic disposition, even as their earlier fractured, frenzied post-punk attack found itself smoothing out into something more streamlined and sustained. This was most obvious in their live setting, which has lost none of the fevered kinetics over the years. Yet we get more of the former on ‘I Love Space Travel’, the opening gambit of new EP What Did You Expect, a knowingly named release out through Bad Health Records (formerly known as Black Night Crash Records). Andrew Wilson’s pitched wail is back, spit flecked feverish; his guitarwork as spiked and sepulchral as ever. This is all heightened by Michael Prain’s pummelling work on the drums, here as brutal as I have ever heard him, almost as if he is trying to beat his way through the core of the earth. They haven’t shirked dark melody though, with the title track a contemplative counterweight. Recorded and mixed by Rory Atwell (Warm Brains – he is on bass duties here also), it’s a timely reminder that as tempered as the fury can be, it still never dies. Grab What Did You Expect here.

Sunday 13 December 2015

Happy Damage In The Jacuzzi

Back in 2009, before I started Sonic Masala with Paul, he made me a mixtape (awww!) of all the bands that he thought I would be into. On that list was stuff from Thee Oh Sees, Meth Teeth, Vivian Girls and Monotonix - most of the others I can't remember (I lost the CD when I had to move back over to London from Australia last year...) One band I do remember was the deliriously scuzzy insanity of Miami garage rockers Jacuzzi Boys (the track - 'Island Avenue' - the type of track that Brisbane mates Tiny Migrants used to spit out). I have always been into their brand of scrappy, explosive sounds, and new EP Happy Damage is more of the same. The darker 'Sun' is more my cup of rock, but the explosive title track is heaps of fun too. Blast it out of the speakers to see out your Sunday.

Saturday 12 December 2015

Selling Out The Night Beats Generation

Seattle-via-Texas garage psychers Night Beats are on the cusp of releasing their 3rd album Who Sold Our Generation through Heavenly Recordings. As 'Sunday Mourning' and especially 'No Cops' attests, the trio's boots are still firmly entrenched in the hallucinogenic, dust-swirling, blues-trapped spaces of the Lone Star State, their psych rock about finding sun-blasted rhythms and ripping them to shreds. If this doesn't warm the cockles, build a thirst and lose yourself in the smoke, nothing will. Pre-order the LP here.

Pontiak = YEP

One of my favourite bands is Pontiak. I have made this abundantly clear over the years. There is something muscular, free-wheeling, visceral yet overtly relaxed and fun about the blasted psych rock the Carney brothers craft. They haven't been whipping out records with as much regularity as they used to, but that could be because they have opened their own brewery, Pen Druid Brewing. With their own home-built barn studio, and probably a self-constructed stone baked pizza oven out the back, they pretty much never have to leave home, so I totally get it. But they HAVE released something - Nope/Jeppe, a little cassette release through Lightning Records. And maybe its the locally fermented booze, but it's time to get weird. 'Nope' is a slowburn metallic whine, an ASDL panic attack and eats away at the psyche. 'Unsatisfying Nights' is a Morricone pastiche played in a 70s prism floating in amber and the rising tide of a narcotic slipstream. 'Low Plains Confuser' - an esoteric yet voiceless acoustic pastoral meander, laconic and meditative. But they haven't deserted their outsider rock - as the brawling, brutal 'Jeppe' and the ten minute White Hills meets Fu Manchu growl of 'Shit Sucks' attests. There is something for everyone here - Pontiak rides again.

Friday 11 December 2015


Let's finish off this week with death-knell Goth punk. Melbourne's Stations (featuring current and ex members of The UV Race, Mollusc and Ex Con) have released this 7" that kicks off with hellish air sirens, haunted organs and piercing wails on 'Work', a murky squall, matted and rancid. It is awful, acrid and awesome, a caterwaul that draws blood. 'Hunting' starts more sedate, more brooding and barren, but this is just a ruse - the nightmare is ratcheted up to unbearable levels by the end. The frenetic expulsion of 'Tension' is intense at a quarter of the time, and it closes with the potent pummelling of 'Master/Disciple'. This kind of noise terrorism is fucking brutal - and brilliant.

Halt Ever/EXEK

Two great Aussie acts have joined forces to release a killer tape through Resistance/Restraint Records. Post punk agitators Halt Ever and pitch primordial antagonisers Exek present two damaged sides of the same black coin. 'Patricia' is a gut punch with rusted knuckle dusters - the deep, damaged bassline is gargantuan, the piercing feedback bears its teeth, the guitars and cymbals crash and boil. Chaos reigns, but in a pit of contained dead-eyed disdain. I haven't heard Halt Ever so habitually visceral, serrated - an aural gnashing of the teeth in the darkness, sweat and blood mingling and sticking on bared fangs. Nihilism, despondency, gnarled aggression, Gothic despair - it permeates every fractured corner. Australian bands have really cornered this blasted, bastard sound, yet every time a new nuance rears its head it strikes delicious fear, wanting more, cringing ecstatically when such wishes are granted.

Then Exek take the floor for a different dose of dissonance, 'Baby Giant Squid' a seventeen minute sonic diatribe of disgust and regret - Exek spread out through a metallic wringer, hung out on a forlorn coathanger of morbidity. A sawing, sinuous assault on the dark side of the soul, with Albert Wolski's monotone vocals disappearing into the darkest recesses of the early hours where nothing is sacrosanct and everything can be won - but mostly lost. Depression as an atonal sine wave, devastating and yet somehow euphoric in its final strangled strains.

The 7" comes out next week. The bands launch it at the Old Bar Saturday December 19 alongside SM buds Cobwebbs (Vacuum and Fruit & Nut also support).

Thursday 10 December 2015

Unspeakably Divisive Noise Practices

The only Rick Moody novel that I have read is Purple America, his 1996 familial tragedy that is in the vein of Joyce Carol Oates - one of sad, blunt analysis, an autopsy of a dysfunctional family that is breathtaking in its gritty minutiae and heart-rending in its inexorable decline that loss and addiction inevitably brings about. He's better known for his previous novel, The Ice Storm and of-its-time hipster ennui bible Garden State. He is a figure of adulation in some circles, of derision in others - but he is ever defiant. And, in the halls of Sonic Masala, he is now renowned for The Unspeakable Practices, a band project undertaken by Moody and one Kid Millions of Oneida fame. The group is bristling with talented intensity - David Grubbs (Gastr del Sol), Richard Hoffman (Sightings), Brad Truax (Spiritualized et al), Shahin Motia (Ex Models and also Oneida), and experimental brass wizards Nate Wooley and Michael Foster. The album is indicative of all of these combined talents - post-punk militaristic precision, sudden blasts of crunching squall, free-jazz cycles, discordant implosions - with Moody's deadpan vocals a monotone incision. 'A Steady Effect' plays into the kind of dead-eyed meticulousness that Disappears or, indeed, Sightings carve out in sonic flesh, but most other tracks stand true to their improvisational beginnings. The Unspeakable Practices is likely to be as divisive as Moody's prose - his lyrics here bordering on Beat-lite banalities - but this kind of self-aware deconstruction holds a fitful, fearful energy that deserves its time in the sun - or at least in a cloistered experimental noise den near you. Out through Joyful Noise in excellent blue-yellow or green-black fried egg vinyl (see below), you can get the LP here.

Horrific Gargoyle Waves

Another Howling Owl abomination comes from the nightmare-inducing electronic malfunctions of Silver Waves (AKA Bath's Dylan Mallett). Having released a couple of EPs on HO's sister label bulb, the new metallic taster comes in the form of 'Gargoyle'. Well, not entirely new - this was on Alcopop! Record's Record Store Day compilation earlier this year - but since the Bristol label just pushed it out into the ether, it is imperative that you swim in its acidic waters. It is five minutes of feverish, bruising hell - and maniacally exhilarating also. I am really looking forward to what acrid sworls of noise Silver Waves will bring forth next year.

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Never Grave In Negative Space

Berlin label Grave Imprint (putting out the awesome Pretty Hurts releases) have stepped out of Germany for their next release from Kent punks Negative Space. They have a Crisis/Institute sound (especially 'II'), but there are other touchstones too, from the light wiry buzz of Fugazi and the metallic bounce of Wire - but this is much dirtier, grimier, something I can see spewing out of the gutters of Australia's punk underground.  None of the tracks rise over two minutes, but all make an incendiary impact. These are just demos. Blistering set from an amazing new band.