Monday, 29 November 2010

A Friday Cover Up - Ashes on a Monday

This is last week's Friday cover up, on a Monday - it wouldn't be the first time.

Strangely, cricket is one more thing that Brendan and I share a passing interest in, so you can imagine how the banter starts to flow around the time of any Ashes series - the England/Aussie rivalry always runs deep.

For those Stateside readers cricket may be a confusing and strange sport, but trust us - nothing can beat it for banter, or pom bashing as Brendan might call it. Anyway last week's cover up was meant to appear on Friday to coincide with the start of the first Ashes test in Brendan's home town of Brisbane, but due to me being stuck in the Scottish snow its late, again.

Strangely though my choice of track seems more appropriate now that the first Test has finished, each match lasting five days for those not in the know. England defiantly snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat, its left the next four tests on knife edge so I've picked Warpaint's recent cover of the Bowie classic 'Ashes To Ashes', and its not just for title, honest.

Warpaint - Ashes To Ashes

Friends For Now - Spending The Parisian Weekend With Young Prisms

Hey kids! Guess what? Uncle Sonic Masala has just spent a weekend in Paris, walking around in the blistering cold, feeling snowflakes eviscerate his brain and looking at lots of cultural stuff. It was pretty rad. But my soundtrack made it even better. I listened to a gamut of great 2010 releases - Jesu, Merchandise, Deerhunter, Women, Best Coast, Grinderman - plus some other great bands. But the three that got into my head the most as I walked along the Seine seeing the Eiffel Tower through the mist were Weekend (who we rated the hell out of here), Young Prisms and Reading Rainbow. As Weekend and Young Prisms have a tenuous link outside of my malfunctioning iPod, I thought Id post about them first.

Having just finished a tour supporting Weekend, Young Prisms have been making a name for themselves with their woozy shoegaze with split records with Weekend, Mathematic and Small Black, and are now prepping their debut LP Friends For Now (on Kanine Records, who have been home to the likes of The Depreciation Guild, Grizzly Bear and Surfer Blood) in January. This album is infectious as fuck - think along the lines of their past touring buddies, but only if they listened to more Bradford Cox and a smidgen of early Dandy Warhols. The San Fran quintet live together, allowing for a tightness in their shambolic ramble that is reminiscent of other bands of their ilk. Its actually a fun record, despite the shimmering distortion, especially on tracks like 'Sugar'.

And its not long at all til you can hear them live! Check out any of the three London dates they are smashing - Dec 6th @ the Macbeth, Dec 7th @ the Lexington w/ Banjo Or Freakout!, and the support slot for ATP's Dean Wareham Does Galaxie 500 Dec 8th - that one is @ the Garage. Then they jet off to mainland Europe to support A Place To Bury Strangers. Yep, these crazy cats are flying high, and its a pity this album wasnt released in 2010 - Friends For Now would be pushing for my top album.

Preorder Friends For Now here.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Wasted Sun - My Own Private Brazil...via Liverpool

I featured an entrancing artist out of Paris earlier this month called Burzinski, whose dawn til dusk musings reminded me of a Tom Waits like character caught in an Edward Hopper painting. Well, there were a few favourable responses to this, and one from another Parisian who performs under Any Version Of Me. His latest offering is called Wasted Sun. now Ive talked recently about faithful throwbacks to sounds of yore (Ringo Deathstarr, Anne, Shimmering Stars, just to name a few) - but here on Wasted Sun we have an album of love, all wrapped up in a Fab Four bow. Opening with 'Monday', Any Version Of Me is all about the 60s. This could be 'Lady Madonna Mk 2', it mirrors the Liverpudlian game changers so well. And throughout the album we get cuts across the spectrum of great pop - 'The Grass Was So Green' channels a melancholic Ray Davies, whilst elements of The Mamas and the Papas and The Beach Boys emanate throughout. This is a true homage to a bygone era that will never leave the heart and soul of music - a clin d'oeil like they say in France - and for that Im grateful.
Grab Wasted Sun here.

Who Are DT???

This is a band that I found out about recently - they have two demos floating around Soundcloud land - they are from London - they played the Old Blue Last last night (and I missed it...) - and they have a dusted up Bloc Party circa Silent Alarm aura surrounding them - but who ARE they? Please help!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Channelling Junior Dinosaurs In Iowa Via Melbourne

Melbourne's Iowa are releasing their second 7" after their Stay Solo/AM earlier this year, which you can read about here. Lose Yourself/Reasons follows the framework that the band have set themselves, creating 7"s of varying colours on their own label, Desert Mouth Records. Just in case you forgot - the last piece of wax was green, the new one is red! But seriously, what can we expect from the newie? 'Lose Yourself' kicks off the slight Dinosaur Jr training wheels and inhabit their rock framework entirely, with lead Dylan doing his best J Mascis growling throughout. This sounds derogatory, but its actually a big compliment - not many bands can take on such a stance and feel original like Iowa do here. 'Reasons' goes down the same path, and this is the slight danger here - that the 90s slacker indie drone and slacker indie drawl cuts a little too close to the bone. Yet its the two additional digital tracks that allows them to show their wider spectrum, just as they did on the first 7". 'Gaps In Conversation' is a sprawling and incredibly ironclad rock instrumental, all crammed into less than four minutes; whilst 'Wires' is wound down, an introspective track that highlights Iowa's strong songwriting that underruns these fuzzy grunge hook-laden tracks.

Purchase either of these sexy 7" vinyl pieces here - for around £6 each its a bargain!!

Name This Mixtape

Anne is the name of a new shoegaze synth band from Portland, Oregon. They have been together for a very short period of time, yet from the strength of this mixtape they will be a force to be reckoned with. Whilst opener 'Get It How You Live' shows a deliciously darker edge, the other three tracks offer an 80s synth dance wash over an MOR stance that is set very much in the past, yet somehow comes across as a very strong and fresh approach to a very popular genre retread, similar to what bands like Ringo Deathstarr are achieving. Anne will be working on new material in the near future, and if this is their calling card, I imagine some great things.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Brothers From Many Musical Mothers...

I dont think Ive come across a more apt band moniker. The duo Bastard Lovechild Of Rock n Roll sound like a mix between The Black Keys, Jack White, The Black Angels, a more bossa nova TV On The Radio, Games, Death From Above 1979, Muse... Im telling you, the term 'mishmash' was invented for this Florida concoction. If there was such a genre as psychedelic disco blues grunge, then BLORR (members' names are Cookie Sugarhips and Hot Damn Sweet Huckleberry Winn) would be the lynchpin. Bim Bom is their first release, and its kaleidoscopic swirls that litter this EP are something to behold - even if it takes a few listens, because it often feels like you have been listening to your playlist on shuffle. Above all, this EP gives the notion that these guys would destroy live - if only they could find a common thread to tie all their wild ideas together...

Bastard Lovechild Of Rock n Roll - Boy You Need Jesus

Bastard Lovechild Of Rock n Roll - Seven Sisters

Boom! Bang! Early Merry Christmas!

I know this is uber early, but what the heck! Those crazy Oklahomans The Boom Bang have released a track for a compilation called Checking It Twice, put out by Nice People Records, just in time for Christmas, and seeing as we have posted about their Bummer Camp EP and the rad music video for 'We Skeletons' in the past two months, we may as well keep the monthly love in going strong. Their contribution, 'Coast of Christmas Trash', pisses over all others on the comp, and is one of the best Christmas jingles out there. So now you have no excuse to put this on your playlist when Santa comes down your misused, rat-infested chimney early December 25th, do you?

And hey, why not see the tripped out vid Charles made for the track too? Dont say I dont do nothin for ya!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Explosions Set For 2011

What a couple of weeks for my favourite bands! First Mogwai announce details about their new album, then I see an awesome set by Liars at Heaven, then Mogwai release album track 'Rano Pano'...can it get any better? Of course! Now there's a dosage of brill news for another of my fave all time bands, Explosions In The Sky. The Austin Texas instrumental powerhouse will release their as yet unnamed new album in the Springtime - lovely! - and have coincided this with some UK shows! They will be playing the Roundhouse on May 19, so get your shit together, cos tickets went on sale TODAY!

Now, if there was just a way to keep the Luminaire open, 2011 would be the raddest year ever...

FILMing a waltzing Matilda

FILMS came together whilst they were all studying their 2nd year at Leeds university in 2008, when Joe showed Gwil, Gus and Thom some songs he’d written over the past few years. A small set was quickly developed using these and newly-written songs, and the band began to build a modest reputation through some crammed gigs in their front room.

To date FILMS have headlined such venues as The Faversham, HiFi and The Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, as well as playing gigs in Manchester and London. They have recently been working on their first EP, recording at Universal in London and with producer Charlie Andrew in his studio in Shoreditch.

Their music has a pert and merciless sound. The sound is pushed and pulled, borrowing and wedging various lo-fi, hip hop and folky pockets to make a haunting and original mulch.

Check out track 'Matilda' below - I love the line "Put the grenade pin in your hand/ So you understand who's boss"! - their EP should be out early 2011.

Matilda by filmsband

Colour Trips Take You So High

Austin, Texans Ringo Deathstarr are having a massive end to 2010, what with touring with The Wedding Present and all. They are playing a few shows around the traps of London too - The Old Blue Last (Dec 3), Brixton Windmill (Dec 6) and the Buffalo Bar (Dec 7). A great way to see this shoegaze outfit in a cosy setting hmmm? But it doesnt end there. Their new LP Colour Trip comes out through AC30 on February 14 2011 (which I feel for, cos they will be massively overshadowed by the behemoths that are Mogwai releasing their new album on the same day). You've already heard opening track 'Imagine Hearts' here. The track 'So High' precedes this release, coming out January, but you can see and hear it RIGHT HERE! Yep, consider y'all blessed.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


Just heard on the grapevine that London's premiere gig venue The Luminaire and their brilliant connecting downstairs pub The Kings Head will be closing down on the first January 2011. Say it isn't so???

Crocodiles Show Their Mirror Image

This is actually a little old, but I likee... So a couple weeks ago Crocodiles partook in the ever-reliable Insound's Studio Sessions (its third of such sessions - the previous incarcerations were from SM faves Woven Bones and The Hold Steady), and its very cool, showcase a few cuts from latest album Sleep Forever and a blistering version of the title track from last year's Summer of Hate. Here's the video and download for 'Mirrors' - enjoy!

Crocodiles - Mirrors

Maybe It Should Just Stay There...

Talk about a change of pace...

Fucking Induced Labour. I swear that every time I listen to this dirty Toronto screaming mess of a band my ears actually start to burn - true story! This is pretty nasty stuff - we posted about their virulent tape a couple months back - and their new 7" vinyl is no different. Seriously, these guys are offensive, and whilst it doesnt make me die a little inside, it sure is planting something in the very core of my being that will grow into some malignant power that I cant even begin to describe. But you know what? Maybe that's a good thing...

Buy Induced Labour 7" here.

Entire Cities Hope You Never Come Home

So, after Noxious Foxes usurped my concentration, its back onto these guys - Entire Cities.

You know that we love our noise and our rock here. But rock and noise comes in many shapes and forms, and sometimes you just want to take a different tack, y'know? Besides, a true music fan should be able to appreciate things in most corners of the music world, even if the boundaries of your musical loves are quite explicitly defined.

On Easy Tiger Records, who also house the band Wildlife that we fell in love with here, Entire Cities' new LP I Hope You Never Come Home (out December 7) is a rambling folk rock record aiming for those epic climes that only large, composed, ambitious collectives can strive to reach - and in the most part succeeds. The sound is large due to both the various layers of the band's sound - due to their seven members (Canadians and their sprawling ensembles...) and juggling act of instrumentation (guitar/bass/drums/flute/saxophone/banjo/organ/harmonica/layered harmonies) - and the glossy production values, handled expertly by Harris Newman (Arcade Fire) and Heather Kirby. The beauty in many of these tracks are the sometime haunting, sometime jocular lyrics of frontman Simon Borer, ably backed by Ruhee Dewji and Tamara Lindeman, and the lingering notion that these songs, when played in a beautiful, slightly dingy pub setting (or even a Bush Hall like locale) will soar and teeter on the edge of rickety implosion in equal measures. Its the kind of roaucous country folk that will have its lyrical hooks in you whilst you also tap your feet.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Sonic Masala Crashes Crash Avenue

Just a lil promotion here, which is nice when you can get it! The great folks over at Crash Avenue liked our little blurb about their band Secret Colours' latest release In The Absence as well as a write up for The Sunshine Factory - both of which you can read here and here. What's more, they loved the ever evolving design of our site - sweet!

They said: "Man… that’s good design. And they carved out some reviews for our dudes Secret Colours and The Sunshine Factory. Your move, other blogs!"

Unfortunately I cant claim too much of that kudos, as Paul is the design wizard around here - Im more of the blog grunt, ploughing away. So thanks Crash Avenue, and thanks Paul

This Post Has Been Poisoned By Foxes!

Let me explain that heading. I was typing about another band, Entire Cities (who I promise to get to by the end of this night!), when a new email dropped into the inbox. It was from one Justin Talbott, one half of Brooklyn's Noxious Foxes. The two piece are true to their name, doling out some truly toxic instrumental noodlings that evoke math rock at its most brutal and intense, whilst also allowing (via loop pedals and a nice dollop of scuzz) some nuance and class to enter the frame, therefore making them better than most math rock wannabes - these are stellar compositions here, not just some guys who can play their instruments well but dont knoa hook or melody if it bent them over and called them their little piggy. I was duly impressed, so dropped what I was doing and wrote this. So enjoy 'Heavenly Spectacular', a track off their forthcoming LP Legs. Ive listened to it 6 times since its come in, and Im sure itll be played a few more tonight. Also, if this floats your boat, you can grab previous effort Lovestorm here.

Oh, and by the way, Noxious Foxes voted for Caribou's Swim for album of the year - you still have two days left to vote on Round 1!

Heavenly Spectacular by noxious foxes

And if that's not enough, get a load of them live!

noxious foxes - wherever hugo, guido from justin on Vimeo.

Meet The Fantasies

Ready for some parallel universe jams, where dapper 50s socialites do the electric boogaloo to psych pop? I know, me too! The Fantasies have just released this 7" double A-side, Tick Tock/Midnight Boogie (AKA Meet The Fantasies), and from all intents and purposes seem destined to usurp all other throwback competitors by subverting their own sound...or something. Its certainly an interesting listen, almost at the opposite end of the spectrum to Shimmering Stars, another new act that are embracing their grandparents' teen record collection, but are more earnest in their sound. I love both, and so will you!

Ghosts Fit These Sisters

Im mega slow on this one - whilst we showed you the first single 'Highway Scratch' a while back, Sisters' Ghost Fits has been out since September on Narnack. Whoops! So I wont go on and on here. All Ill say is that whilst this is no masterpiece from this fresh duo, it nonetheless is an infectious longplayer full of unhinged guitar pop gems, living in the same neighbourhood as No Age but opting out of prowling the streets for eating copious amounts of sugary sweets and bouncing off the walls, practising their best nonchalant singing in the mirror before scissor-kicking off their fire-truck single beds and powersliding across the bedroom floor, oblivious to the carpet burns such an audacious move has inflicted on their kneecaps.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Second Sofa Made Of Dust Proves A Matriachal Throne

I posted earlier this year about A Sofa Made Of Dust, a collaboration between two guys who recorded every style under the sun in a wine-fuelled blaze - and its an adventurous sojourn down Warped Lane. (See here for the article). Well, after the success of such a concentrated creative unleashing, the guys are intending to release an album a month, until either their musical magpie-like wells are drunk dry, or there's no alcohol left in the known universe. A Throne For Mummy is their second effort, inspired by drinking and smoking on a Monday afternoon - the album's title comes from Bob arriving late after having to buy a toilet seat for his mother - true story. It showcases their on-the-fly way of creating distorted genre pastiches, all bar the freak folk plinkings on their take of Neil Young's 'Helpless'. Inspired, and inspiring - although I generally use binge sessions to speak shit and...well, thats pretty much it.

You can grab yourself A Throne For Mummy for free here.

A Sofa Made Of Dust - Saturday Night
A Sofa Made Of Dust - Helpless

Catching Gratuitous Monday Moon

Ok, now I'm just being plan daft. In a complete blog fluke Brendan an I both posted about 'Moon' related bands today, so because I'm a bit sad, lets make three, just for the sake of it...

So our third 'Moon' for Monday is Moon Duo. The San Francisco duo recently announced a new 7" out soon on Holy Mountain entitled Holiday. Now normally we'd include a taste of said 7" below but it hasn't dropped yet so instead I've included a previous Moon Duo 7" Catch As Catch Can, out on Agitated Records, it dropped back way back in April and is probably sold out on wax now, but damn fine all the same. There are also four Moon Duo live dates coming up too, including a London date at the Garage, December 7th, and to top it off the band are doing a Guest mix on BBC 6 Music tonight. All that just for three 'Moons', yeah bit sad.

Moon Duo - Catch As Catch Can

STOP PRESS - Mogwai's newie!

I know that this will be on countless other musically-inclined internet sites, but seeing as Mogwai is one of my all time fave bands, it goes without saying that Im mega excited at the prospect of offering a new track from their upcoming new release, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, out on Valentine's Day 2011. The new track is called 'Rano Pano', and its the 3rd track on the album proper. 'Rano Pano' will be released as a 7" single in January. Also exciting is the artwork that will adorn the album - its a simplistic yet amazing piece, and it just about washes the bad taste in my mouth that the borderline-emo title suggests... (What?! Im bagging Mogwai? I know, sacrilegous, but Ill stand by my notion that the title is a pretty bad one. Still think they are mega rad of death though. So there.)

Kicking Out The Moonpearl Jams

Got an email from Sam Farzin, who juggles both label Life's Blood and the machinations of his own act, Moon Pearl, whose new EP Pearl Jams is out now (the band is giving it away on their Myspace too).

First of all, Life's Blood Records has been moving along since last year, and already Farzin has had some nice releases, not least Bridgetown Records radmeister Kevin Greenspon's Rose Window and a four-way split release that featured none other than Zach Hill ("Green Bricks"). Farzin maintains that no genre is off limits, and with a couple of his acts - Pregnant, Wonder Wheel and Kites Sail High in particular - finding themselves on some interesting Stateside bills alongside the likes of Foot Village, Nobunny, Dustin Wong (ex-Ponytail), and Soft Circle (ex-Black Dice).

But I am also massively enamoured with the punk fuzz mayhem that is his main musical outlet, Moon Pearl. Whilst not having the technical arty angle that Ponytail extolled, the two still share an affinity for exuberant avant garde sonic fusion. Their EP Pearl Jams perfectly encapsulates the fragile nature of splitting an atom that was found in a rogue rainbow - if it all implodes, will we still be having fun? That anarchic grin thats slapped across your face would seem to indicate an unequivocal 'YES'.
Here's a clip of them playing FMLY Ride this year - and yes, that is a burning drum...

Moon Pearl on FMLY RIDE from FMLY on Vimeo.

Moonpearl - Fake Blood
Moonpearl - I Climbed Mount Fucking Everest & All I Got Is This Stupid T Shirt

Soft Moon Monday

Earlier this year San Fransisco band Soft Moon (or is The Soft Moon? I'm not sure) dropped a couple of unassuming 7"s, Breathe The Fire and Parallels. I say dropped but really these tracks seem to slide their way into my subconsciousness, popping up now and again when the iPod is set to 'random'. Each and every time I would dig the now battered player out of my pocket to answer the inevitable mental question 'Who's this?', make the mental note to check out more Soft Moon, even post about it, and then I promptly forgot about it.

Maybe it was the obvious and lazy Joy Division comparisons of Breathe The Fire or the fact that Parallels slides by in just over three minutes but feels like it could easily last twice as long that made move on so quickly, but whatever the reason I wont make the same mistake again 'cos the self titled Soft Moon debut LP landed today, out on New York label Captured Tracks.

Stretching out Soft Moon's intense darkwave themes over a whole LP makes so much more sense. This is pop but the coldest, darkest, most fucked up pop you'll land this year. Its low-slung basslines throb, its synth buzzes and distorts, soft noise seems to consume everything, it's like being consumed by black treacle. The Joy Division and Bauhaus references will always be there but dig a little deeper and you'll discover a slick and darker beast beneath.

Soft Moon -Tiny Spiders

Friday, 19 November 2010

Gig - Ganglians/Eat Skull/Graffiti Island @ XOYO, 08.11.10

Tonight is yet ANOTHER Upset The Rhythm show - this time its Ganglians being supported by Eat Skull and Graffiti Island.

I make it down to XOYO - second time in a week! - in time to catch opening act Graffiti Island. They perform a lackadaisical set, mainly set by the frontman's over nonchalant approach to being out front, with weird mumbled interludes and such. And whilst the band's brand of tropical lo fi punk is a little samey, there are slices of radness throughout, evoking Buddy Holly via the Wipers, mainly driven by the bassist's businessmanlike approach to each song, which juxtaposes his tie dye shirt, tattoo sleeves andf Urge Overkill haircut. Ill be keeping an eye on these guys in the future months.

Next up - Eat Skull, the band Im really here to see, and they dont disappoint. In their 40 minute set, they display the shambolic nature of their sound, their songs, and their interplay - and it always works. They are Americana stripped of earnestness; they are doo wop stripped of innocence; they are college rock stripped of cardigans (and prone to beating the fuck out of Rivers Cuomo). Live the fuzz that permeates their fizzing releases is mostly eradicated, and the songs rise to the occasion, as does lead Rob Enbom, whose voice alters to fit the mood of the songs, whether it be the slimier early insane ones, or the later, more melody-laden spike bombs. All in all, a great if too short set - and to think they are struggling for shows over here!

Finally its Ganglians turn. I havent been the biggest fans of Ganglians, but the first half of their set seems about to change my mind. More intricate and daring than their normal trop punk shtick, this is highlighted by their 'new' track, a more meandering psych affair that shows a possible new dawn for the band. The second half though goes back into their normal oeuvre, and is all the more unconvincing for it. Dont get me wrong - they are a relatively in tune band, with some interesting things to show us - but with the vocals under constant reverb as always, the indie pop dreams that infuse this fuzzy mess just comes across as uninspiring. Second time Ive seen Ganglians - second time Ive left feeling like Ive been duped. Ah well - at least the supports were able to prop up the show, and as always, UtR give a polished show. Time for another beer.

No Absence Of Colours Here

OK, so I posted a slightly sour review of Crash Avenue exports The Sunshine Factory - they are a good band, ok? Just weren't as strong on their release Sugar as I was hoping. Nevertheless, going back to an earlier band that Crash Avenue have been pushing, Chicago's Secret Colours put out a two song EP In The Absence a couple of weeks ago - and here you can see the Black Angels similarities - the occasional Eastern influences billowing out from behind a black curtain of languid psychedelia. 'In The Absence' is a 'in a nutshell' snapshot of what Secret Colours are all about - Beatles adulation of the Revolver era Eastern inflections and woozy pop, with touches of southern USA dirty psych squall thrown in the mix. B-side 'Carry My Soul' embraces the former more wholeheartedly, an acoustic number that warms the cockles.
Secret Colours - In The Absence

Interview - Freddy Ruppert of Former Ghosts

4th interview, woo! So after the admittedly more coherent than expected craziness that is the brilliant Mark Sultan, we delve into the makings of New Love, the hotly anticipated second album of Former Ghosts AKA Freddy Ruppert. He took time out on his heavy touring schedule alongside Xiu Xiu and Zola Jesus to take us through his motivations, the interesting process behind creating a Former Ghosts album, his love connection with local label Upset the Rhythm, and to give a heads up on bands he thinks we should be getting our kicks from.

Sonic Masala - Congratulations on the recent release of your new LP New Love. Its been a warm favorite here at Sonic Masala for the past month since we received it. Before I make some calls on what I think, how was the process of writing it for you as opposed to the genesis of first LP Fleurs?

Freddy Ruppert - Thank you. The general writing process was essentially the same. I would write the song then send it to the people I would collaborate with and then they would send me back their parts and then I would piece it all together into a cohesive unit. One difference is that I did collaborate with Yasmine Kittles in the same room, which was new to me, as all other collaborations have been done through the mail and through e-mail due to the geographic location of everyone else and because of busy schedules. Also, the first record kind of came together really haphazardly as most of the songs were written and recorded as fast as possible to be posted on my personal blog. Whereas this record didn't have such an intense time constraint, it was more of just a frenzied response to myself with a feeling that there wasn't really an audience for it.

SM - A lot of hype surrounded this release. Did you feel any of that clichéd ‘second album syndrome’ pressure, or even a certain level of expectation to provide a certain style of release?

FR - I think the only pressure I felt was that I would just end up remaking the first album all over again. Maybe I did that. Maybe I didn't. I'm still singing about the same exact things. Still obsessed with love and romance. Still approaching pop music from the same lense. My biggest fear was just releasing a second album that was exactly the same as the first.

SM - Personally I think that New Love is unnerving in its honesty and yet its coldness, almost stand-offish in nature, actually finds affinity with the heartbroken in all of us (ahh…). It’s such an alluring listen, with such a see-saw of juxtaposing sounds and emotions. Was there a deliberate stance on creating such a sound that swung back and forth from warmth to distance and back again?

FR - I don't think the bipolar nature of the record was really deliberate but more just came out of naturally being in that state while recording/writing these songs. As anyone can attest to when they are involved in stormy apocalyptic relationships you swing back and forth between "fuck you and fuck this" to "wait, no i'm in love with you, hold onto this". I think this bipolar feel in this record comes from it being more about myself and my own ideas of what love is supposed to be whereas the first record was more directed at someone. I think the whole reason I am even creating music is to just relate to other people on some kind of human nature level- otherwise I'm completely lost as to why I would do this. Sometimes I get e-mails from people stating "thank you for putting out this record, i'm going through such and such, and it let me know that I am not crazy and alone in feeling these things" and for me my response is always like no, thank you for letting me know that I am not crazy and alone in feeling these things!

SM - Let’s talk about the conception process. You’ve stated in the past when bringing together Fleurs that you had always wanted to work with Jamie on a different project, and vice versa, but it took so long to find a common ground. How was it bringing the group (also including Nika here) together again for New Love?

FR - I've always been a crazy dictator when it comes to the creative process of Former Ghosts. I think maybe even more so on this record. Jamie had just put out Dear God I Hate Myself and was gearing up for a year of relentless touring. Nika was putting out numerous EPs and touring like crazy as well. Both of them were extremely busy with their own respective projects. So I think both of their contributions on this record are less than they were on the first. I brought in Yasmine Kittles because I was obsessed with her voice and the way her voice was so different from Nika's. So most people’s contributions on this record were kind of frenzied responses before they were leaving for some insane long tour on the verge of releasing their own huge albums.

SM - How collaborative is the Former Ghosts process?

FR - It is collaborative in the sense in that I like working with people because it brings out certain emotions that I cannot bring out, or forces me to approach things in different ways. It is collaborative in the sense in that I'll create something and I can feel the desperate need of someone else to fully give life to it. But the project is not collaborative in the sense that I am a complete control freak and a total dictator in the creation process and the path and direction Former Ghosts takes and what Former Ghosts is about and what Former Ghosts presents itself as.

SM - Since Fleurs’ release Nika’s Zola Jesus has stormed her way into the stratosphere in terms of her popularity and her growing confidence in her medium. Did any of this influence Former Ghosts, the second time around?

FR - No. Just that she was even more busy and both "Chin Up" and "Only In Time" basically came together over instant messenger!

SM - This may be an oft asked question, but how did Nika become a Former Ghost?

FR - I had the first couple of Zola Jesus 7"s and I really liked her voice and what she was doing so I sent her an e-mail asking her to sing the ending part of ‘This Is My Last Goodbye’ on Fleurs. She said she would love to so I sent her my demo version, got her version back and I was so blown away by it. I asked her if she would want to collaborate on more things and that is where ‘The Bull and the Ram’ and ‘In Earth's Palm’ came from. We both agreed that we should continue to collaborate with each other because we both feel like we get something rewarding for ourselves out of it. I really respect what she is doing and she is also a really close friend of mine.

SM - New Love also sees the addition of TEARIST ‘s Yasmine Kittles, as you’ve previously mentioned – what does she specifically bring to your vision for these songs, both in the studio and on the stage?

FR - I had been seeing Yasmine's band Tearist play around Los Angeles for quite awhile and we’ve become close friends and I really loved her voice. I love the female voice in general and I felt like the contrast between her vocal style and Nika's vocal style would be really interesting on the record and what the record was trying to express. There is just such an understated soft beauty in Yasmine's voice, and with Nika there is an overwhelming powerful beauty. I think for me it was more the contrast between everyone's voices on the record. On stage, depending on what the line up is for Former Ghosts that night, the energy completely changes.

SM - You’ve chosen Upset The Rhythm to release the album, as you did with Fleurs. We here are massive fans of UTR – what draws you to put out stuff with them?

FR - Upset the Rhythm are a completely amazing record label. Chris is just such an amazing person. I got to stay at his place for a week and just being around him is super inspiring. His love and energy for new music and all kinds of new music is really inspiring. Chris is also crazy enough to let my crazy self do whatever I want with Former Ghosts and working with him has been so easy. No contracts. No business bullshit. Just a really old fashioned punk approach to running a record label. I love what he does.

SM - How do you feel about the constant Joy Division/Ian Curtis comparisons (and sometimes jibes) that are aimed in your direction? What then would you say is a more accurate reflection of your influences?

FR - As far as the Joy Division/Ian Curtis comparisons - yea I get it, I have a deep voice that is inspired by 80's British music. I don't think that Former Ghosts sounds like Joy Division. I mean, in highschool I grew up listening to a wide variety of stuff- glitchy 90's Warp records IDM, 80's British goth/post punk, synth pop, industrial/EBM, industrial/avant garde- I think Former Ghosts is more of an amalgamation of things I listened to in highschool which was a lot more than just Joy Division. But people always need some kind of frame of reference and they will usually always go for the easiest most obvious thing that other people can relate to as well as well as whatever current genre hype words are being thrown around/revived/invented.

SM - A couple of simple questions to round us out then, if that’s cool. We posted a while back on your Welcome To Old Love mixtape, especially the remix done by Friendzone. So you do work with or embrace the work of others. What acts that are currently doing the rounds do you find most interesting or exciting, maybe even stimulating you creatively?

FR - I think all of these "newer"/more recent acts are really exciting and great and influence me as well as are doing something important and also having a distinct vision of what they want to do and accomplish. I'm usually attracted to artists that have a really distinct vision in how they present themselves:



Nicole Kidman

Felt Drawings

No Paws No Lions

Dva Damas



SM - Finally, what is sonic masala?

FR - Something really, really tasty. Sorry, I can only think of food when I see masala.

New Love is out now through Upset The Rhythm.

Sunshine Factory Manufactures Sugary Soundbites

We have posted about Crash Avenue before (especially due to Secret Colours' great debut earlier this year and stunning cover of the Beatles' 'Tomorrow Never Knows' here) and Michael and his crew keep extending their talent. Coming out next month is another from their stable, Alabama's The Sunshine Factory.
Whilst perennial SM touchstones The Decibel Tolls waxed lyrical about this release, going so far as to say that the band should be uttered in the same conversations as Black Angels and A Place To Bury Strangers, I have to slightly disagree. Sugar (out in mid December) is an assured debut, and their adherence to both shoegaze staples and pop sensibilities are commendable. Yet I can't shake the notion that The Sunshine Factory adhere to these tropes too much - try to listen to any track on Sugar and not hear My Bloody Valentine - its nigh on impossible. The mellotron over usage, the treble overloaded vocals, the sonic fuzzed out tsunami of noise - its all been done before, and in varying degrees of greater success.
That said though, it is still a good record. 'Down' and 'Head Becomes The Tomb' have stuck in my consciousness for days, and that is a good factor for the band. And from all reports, their live shows at CMJ last month heralded another great act in the psych-shoegaze mold. But as a stand alone listener, The Sunshine Factory will need to dodge and dance some more before they can break out from under the shadows of the shoegaze greats and start casting their own.

Friday Cover Up - Beck so kind

Record Club: Skip Spence "Grey/Afro" from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

With the end of the year fast approaching, this week's Friday Cover Up has taken a reflective angle, first of many I'm sure. So this week its back to Beck's Record Club, easily the most ambitious covers project of 2010. Beck has announced that a compilation of the best tracks from albums the Record Club project has covered will drop sometime soon, but in a show of democratic kindness we get to pick the tracks, check them out here, register and vote here. So you get pick your favorites from The Velvet Undeground and Nico, Leonard Cohen’s Songs of Leonard Cohen, Skip Spence’s Oar, INXS’ Kick and Yanni’s Yanni Live at the Acropolis. Naturally the list of artists who feature is eye watering; MGMT, Wilco, Feist, Devendra Banhart, Os Mutantes, St. Vincent, Liars, Binki Shapiro, Thurston Moore, Tortoise, it goes on and on. Below and above are some of the tracks that got my vote that I haven't posted before, and taste as well to boot. Vote for a Yanni track while your at it.

Skip Spence - Grey/Afro (Beck's Record Club, Feist, Jamie Lidell & Wilco)

Record Club: Yanni "Reflections Of Passion" from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

Record Club: Velvet Underground and Nico "Venus In Furs" from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Running away from...

Recently I've seemed to have become Johnny On The Spot when the shit has hit the fan at work, hence the lack of posts on my part. But other than seriously curtailing the blog output and burning the midnight oil, stuck at your desk at work until your eyes feel like they're bleeding out of your head has its upsides - no honest it does. Extended overtime needs a good soundtrack to help you survive, something to channel the rage and resentment that builds towards the uncaring client in question. So thank fuck I've had Running's new, self titled 12" EP this past week to turn the midnight oil into a raging inferno.

Running's new self titled EP/tape release, out on Chicago's finest Permanent Records, is an expanse of the most twisted psych/punk trash you'll ever hear. This, Running's third release after a couple of tape only adventures, also on Permanent, is a mind melting plunge into an abrasive feedback-laden beast of an EP. At thirteen tracks you might be forgiven for thinking this is really an LP, but Running don't do 'forgiving'. Running's tracks live up to the band's name, most clocking in at the sub two minute mark, its certainly over before your poor brain knows whats going on, falling into a chasm of reverb and pummeling noise, hitting every rock and cliff edge on the way down.

But what really makes this 12" a bit special, and a perfect fit for an over-worked, angst-ridden designer, is the quality of the artwork production, in fact the promo vid above is the hand printing of said sleeve set to track '#1 Dad'. Plus the band don't even have a myspace. Hardcore with an arty side, you better believe it. Buy here and taste below.

Running - #1 Dad
Running - Little Fucker

Popstrangers Create Happy Accidents

Sticking to this inadvertent, totally accidental New Zealand music theme, we turn our lights to Popstrangers, a three piece who are making major waves over in Auckland. Since the release of their debut self-titled EP last year, they have supported the likes of Peaches, Crocodiles and Die! Die! Die!, also having garnered a slot on the Big Day Out lineup.

Not bad, you say? Well, yes, we'd agree. But a lot of tosh gets good grades, don't they? Yes.

SO we decided to cast this "talking to myself and answering my own questions" chutzpah aside, bypass their early stuff (which has a swirling indie rock tempo that nonetheless delves into the darker shades of the rock realm) and have a crack at a couple of cuts from their upcoming EP Happy Accidents. It is my pleasure to state that the trio have gotten louder over the past 12 months, whilst retaining a pitch-perfect sense of mid-90s slacker indie angst. The vocals remind me so much of one of Australia's greatest underrated acts of the 1990s, Gaslight Radio - and that alone gets them the thumbs up! And then the second half of 'Avenue' comes across as an early ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead track, and our thumbs exploded!

Over all, what Popstrangers are able to convey is a tight level of songwriting that many bands toss aside for some scrambled airwaves - and whilst noise is always welcomed, its embraced when done with a clear objective and a high degree of coherence. Whilst there isnt a release date for anywhere other than in their home country, Im sure it wont be long before Popstrangers come knocking at our doors...

Three young Kiwi punk kids Voltron into a fat angry man...

Yep. Thats pretty much FATANGRYMAN, the Auckland no-wave fuck ups that struggle to stay in time, to sound anything other than a discordant swamp of a mess, and come out the other side smelling like (albeit sweaty and bloodstained) roses. These girls (and guy...) have some connections to other Kiwi exports Die! Die! Die! and The Mint Chicks - and although it can be argued that those bands can play their instruments and have more to say, FATANGRYMAN throw distortion into a fan and watch the results flayed across a grungy mattress. And then there's 'Wrapped In Plastic', a track that hints at a squirming, menacing disquiet behind the mayhem... Its infused with an enthusiasm that informs the miasmic mess that the band offers, and the contrasting effects of anger and fun that oozes from the speakers is enough of a hook to give them some 90s props.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Jaw to the Floor is Below And Beyond a Sight to be Seen

Just a quick post about the band Floor. This brilliant stoner drone band from Miami were only around for a wee time (1992-96 in any sort of continual existence; on and off over the next few years), having released only two albums (both in a sort of posthumous setting, and the self titled LP of 2002 being particularly mindblowing) and a wash of singles, splits and 7". Yet it wasnt until they called it a day and went on their separate musical journeys (most noted being Steve Brooks' formation of Torche) that Floor's strength and prescience in their little corner of the musical world began to be noticed for what it was - a behemoth of ragged chugging riffs, epic drumming and hollered echos that emanated above and beyond their station.

This has all culminated in a brief reformation of the band in April 2010, where lucky punters got to see Floor play three sets, each with a different drummer from the past, that spanned their entire psych drone dirge oeuvre. And whilst the vast majority of us weren't even in Atlanta in April, let alone at the gigs, we can experience through Sight & Seen (put out by Chunklet) , a multi-camera performance coupled with professionally recorded and mixed audio, developing into an enveloping, droning wall of guitars. Floor's two guitarists, Anthony Vialon and Steve Brooks, spend over two hours on stage with their various drummers. Their three drummers, Betty, Jeff and Henry, rotate through the band's lineup: crashing through their early singles, smoking the viewer with their mid-period haze and ending with the cathartic and anthemic final album. With a fuckload of extras, what makes this package even more enviable is that it is limited to 700 - and it has been sternly stated that it will never be re-issued. EVER.

Im crying myself to sleep over the fact that Ill probably miss out - but I dont want you to be in this boat. Go here and pick up what is truly an inspired band that were truly overlooked at the time, as they weren't of their time - they were past it, beyond it even.

And to rub salt into the wounds, Floor a re releasing a mammoth box set, Below and Beyond -ten 12" LPs, one 7" EP, eight CDs and a (roughly) 32-page booklet of writings, photos, lyrics, artwork (and more) are all to be housed in separate jackets contained within a custom cloth-bound box. Each record comes on a different color of vinyl to match to the corresponding artwork, and two etchings accompany recordings that didn't have appropriate flipsides. 305 copies available...

Below and Beyond
is available now here.

Don't believe me? Get into Floor, and you'll hear so many bands that have emulated their blueprint for destruction - Part Chimp, anyone?

Superhuman Slices of Shimmering Pop Pastiches

Indiana duo House of Bread have just released their self-released 3rd LP, Superhuman Tomb, and its a great little number. In this day and age of bedroom pop navel gazing brought to us from the arse end of some rusty cans and a piece of mouldy string - whether it be due to DIY necessity or just because its so in right now - it is not only refreshing to hear something that takes care in the intricacies of sound production, but are stretching out far and wide to discover how big their sound can be, whilst perfecting the art of the silence. It shouldnt be a surprise that House Of Bread can construct well realised songs - members Omar Azfaal and Bob Haddad have been in bands All Nite Skate and Castles together, and have been toying with this band's sound since 2006 - and yet there is a real sense of freshness to this offering.

Opening with soaring instrumental Nebula A908 - a mixture of Sigur Ros' eccentric musical interplay and shimmering guitar - Superhuman Tomb leads into Flying Nomads, Azfaal's vocals only on a slight reverb (read: the effect enhances his vocals, not a device to disguise the fact that the guy cannot sing) as he plays back up to some chugging guitar lines that canter into the sunset... 'Artificial Man' offers up some Krautpop tinkerings with elegaic vocals before stretching out in a Yo La Tengo pop mangling. Further along the track we get 80s Bruce Springsteen with synths-meets-Electric Soft Parade Hazy Boy, the quirky and ultra catchy Bunfs and the slow drum MOR of Snow Globe Smasher II, before closing the mish-mash behemoth that is 'Bloody Scouts', where every influence they can think of (Super Furry Animals, Flaming Lips, Machine Translations, The Cure, Devendra Banhart, Kraftwerk, Yo La Tengo...) is thrown at the canvas. Its this culminating track that probably encapsulates Superhuman Tomb the best - moments of fun and cerebral noodling amidst washes of aped classics of yore.
And to be honest, why not? The production shimmers with a glossiness that is somewhat lacking in most 2010 releases, and the guys really have put some heart into their babies here. A rough yet substantial gem.
Superhuman Tomb is out now.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

A Weapon To Use On Strangers

Now here is something. There was a period a few months ago there wasnt anything that I could do without getting me a fix of A Place To Bury Strangers. I was hunting far and wide for B-sides, remixes and rarities, a few of which I shared with your fine selves.

From that point, I moved on, but have kept dipping my toes in their abrasive version of shoegaze nihilism. I pretty much thought Id have to wait until the New Yorkers brought out their next album.

Or maybe not...

I have been listening to Austin, Texas duo Bloody Knives for about a month now. Its pretty rude of me to have kept em from you really, so Im finally imparting their album Burn It All Down. Despite labelling themselves as electropunk, what with the use of drum machine/laptop/keyboard/noise and all, the first five seconds of opening track 'Tell Me Im Wrong' had me swooning for APTBS's 2009 classic Exploding Head. And as this album progresses, the foreboding sense of dread and doom dealt with demonic efficiency and mirthless glee accentuated this notion. That said, this is not just a homage - the industrial dirges that spark tracks like 'No One Else' infuses the album with ever darker images, whilst the electronic flourishes on 'Close' and 'No One Hears' comes out like a slightly less manic Death From Above covering Joy Division. This is a very impressive release, imbued with the right amount of attitude and aggression to ensure repeated listens - even moreso if you're intending a night filled with narcotic fuel and a trip down the rabbithole.

Burn It All Down is out now on Killredrocket Records - grab a digital copy here. If you do decide to hunt down a physical (limited edition) copy of the album, be prepared - it is an amazing package due to the band's emphasis on the art being as much a telling factor of the music than the music itself. Well worth it.

Bloody Knives - No One Else

Bloody Knives - Hands Around Your Neck

Monday, 15 November 2010

B.C.'s Shimmering Stars of Yesteryear

The current craze of delving into the bargain bins at the local record store to find a sound that 'needs updating' continues unabated, with varying degrees of success. As is well known here, I have a real love/hate relationship with the bands that infuse their fuzzy lo-fi meanderings with Spectorish atmospherics, shimmering beach riffs and 'sha-la-las'. Shimmering Stars is another such act, yet they are a lo-fi act that do not hide behind their influences - they inhabit them. This British Colombian outfit have just released a 4 track 7" through Almost Musique today, which you can get here. Its...brilliant. Why? Because it perfectly encapsulates their idols - Del Shannon, The Everly Brothers, Phil Spector - whilst infusing these beloved musical tropes with a distinctive modern edge. Take 'Let It Be Me', which incidentally is an Everly Brothers cover. Whilst it comes across as pastiche at first, a la Spectrals or Dum Dum Girls at their slower moments, their is a decided warmth in the offering, and the reverb used is used effectively, rather than just used. The second half of the track builds and builds as the guitars begin to taken on a wider, 90s distorted rumble, before cascading down in glorious feedback, all in under two minutes. Its an amazingly rendered love affair to these boys' childhoods and their familial record collections. Also check out 'Im Gonna Try', that actually sounds like an Everly's outtake! Im not sure how these guys are gonna travel over time, but this 7" (which, at just over seven minutes long, does not outstay its welcome in the slightest!) is mightily impressive.

Shimmering Stars - "Sun's Going Down" from Delicious Scopitone on Vimeo.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Wildlife Strikes Hard...Again

Wildlife are a Toronto five piece that are just prepping the release of their debut LP Strike Hard, Young Diamond, which was also the name of their EP earlier this year (?). First impressions? That this album will be 2010/11's Apologies To The Queen Mary, Wolf Parade's massive opener of 2005. Big call that's for sure, but this quintet already have savvy indie writing chops, a penchant for slightly left of centre soaring melodies and serious bombast. 'Stand In The Water''s plaintive call that 'I can be a good friend, and I can be your lover, but I cant be both of them' is startling and stirring in its strength and purpose, whilst 'Sea Dreamer' holds the rollicking off-kilter jams and voice-cracking vocals that Wolf Parade uphold as their driving forces. The tunes are bolstered by the dynamic mixing duo of Michael Keire and Glen Marshall, responsible for tweaking tracks for the likes of Feist and Apostle of Hustle, and they really accentuate Wildlife's levels of ferociousness, recklessness, and intensity, but overall highlighting their innate sense of fun - and its the best fun Ive had listening to an album of its ilk all year.

So that's the musical down low, but who are Wildlife? I spoke to the band and gleaned some facts of a more personal nature:
- they've been together since late 2006;
- they came together from a wide variety of backgrounds: from punk rock bands to campfire guitar, improv theatre to gospel music;
- at any given moment, someone in the band either has the flu or is on hard drugs. Only one of them is a full time smoker, but he's not allowed to quit because its the only thing allowing Wildlife to call themselves a rock n' roll band;
- they get compared to a few of those modern Canadian indie rock groups (such as Wolf Parade???), but don't really understand exactly why, even though we are big fans;
- if people see them play in Guelph, Ontario, they promise to be really, really drunk onstage;
- they challenge every band in the world to a sweating competition. Every fucking one;
- All of Wildlife's members share the same date of birth: December 25th, 1982;
- I once dared my friend Jack to eat a jar of mayonnaise. He refused;
- Wildlife release their first full length album on November 16th, 2010. The release party was on Friday, the 12th, at a place called the El Mocambo in Toronto. There were free mayonnaise and ecstasy sandwiches and lots of glitter, balloons, White Russians (the people and the drink), Sam Cooke, Ace of Bass and A Tribe Called Quest - plus premiered the new Coen Brothers movie at midnight!

So overall, Wildlife are striking as hard as they can, and can expect diamond results.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Friday Cover Up - Brain Idea, Clean Idea

For this weeks Friday Cover Up we've got a bit of a two in one type post going on. Brain Idea's cover of Kiwi classics The Clean's 'Getting Older', something I can identity with this week, but first a bit of info about Brain Idea.

The Chicago trio have just dropped their first LP, The Survival Scroll, with Permanent Records, a demo tape being their only previous outing. Its a whoozy, fuzzed out record that wanders into nice interludes of playfully, distorted instrumental noise. Brain Idea have the nice knack of making their tracks blend together, the sort of LP that washes over you the first time around only to reward you on repeated listens. DIY-style rock'n'roll chock full of catchy riffs, Brain Idea's The Survival Scroll is the sort of soothing grind that's perfect for a quiet Friday down the pub. Everyone seems to be pointing out the UK DIY and the influences of New Zealand's The Clean - maybe that's 'cos of their The Clean cover? Whatever, it makes a perfect Friday Cover Up. Taste and buy here.

Brain Idea - The Heat
Brain Idea - Getting Older (The Clean Cover)

Can You Have Enough Drummers?

Drummers arent a circlework masterclass of our favourite drummers, but in fact a post-hardcore act out of Boston. Boasting members from Pretty & Nice, which is essentially a indie pop band that bears some resemblance to bands like Why? or The Unicorns, with the occasional eerie Gaz from Supergrass channel - pretty rad then - Drummers indulges their harder edges, also honing their technical proficiencies whilst sampling new boundaries and how far they can be cast aside. What is quite amazing about Drummers isnt that they are good - for they are indeed a great act - but that they are unsigned, or that their self-titled album is unreleased! Even more crazy is that it is for y'all to get your mitts on and make your own assumptions! Head over to their website and get downloadin. What do we think of it? Its not groundbreaking, but its serrated edges are buffed with melodics true emotive shouts that dont seem derivative or that are often mislaid in other like-minded acts - making the fact that these songs remain unreleased one hell of a waste. Do yourself a favour and get some Drummers action going...

Drummers - Oceans

Drummers - "Planes" from Bobby Landry on Vimeo.

Old World Vulture Create A New World Order

Toronto four-piece Old World Vulture blew me away with their self-released, self-titled EP of earlier this year. What hit me about this instrumental act is their simultaneous adherence and abhorrence to the tropes of instrumental rock, or post rock. There is the sweeping cinematic nature of the building dynamics of sound ('Destroyer'), the relentless balls to the wall ferocity of guitar wails ('Benny') - but not only does the added loops and synth add another dimension, there is a particular styling to each song that ensure that all 6 tracks stand out. 'How The West Was Lost' felt like a dystopyian Western scored by Texans Zombie Western - and Vangelis... whilst the sweeping charm and slight shadow of Holy Fuck esque disco on 'Bastard Engine' and the dreamlike synth lines undercut by rumbling bass of 'Too Much Eye Makeup' heralds a brooding menace to come... Not only is Old World Vulture an assured release, it showcases a band not afraid to play with their boundaries, and to do it in concise cuts. I havent been able to get these tracks out of my head for a week now. I havent been this excited about a new instrumental band this year since Rangda released False Flag, and although it isnt the same brutal bludgeon that they push forth, Old World Vulture are a world unto themselves. A great seal of approval.

Old World Vulture are recording material for their debut LP due out next year.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Interview - Mark Sultan

So yeah, Sonic Masala's third interview! And I must say I am very happy with the results - the subject is Mark Sultan, AKA 'BBQ', a godfather of the modern garage rock movement. My technique is still a far way off from Jeremy Paxman, but Im getting cheekier - so let's have at it then, shall we?

SONIC MASALA - Welcome to Sonic Masala Mark!

MARK SULTAN - A pleasure. Will this affect the current rapport I have with my toilet?

SM - Depends on how well your immune system holds up to aural spices I guess! So, performing under your own birthname huh? That’s a bit blasé of you – have you run out of monikers for yourself already? Surely not! So what is the impetus for putting out music as Mark Sultan?

MS - Well, Smartypants, this is not my real name! This is more a means for me to possibly garner SOME recognition, so I can maybe have ONE decent tour in my lifetime and possibly rely on myself for once! But the impetus is basically so I can perform and record the same decent music, but done with more influence and less limitations. It’s funny when people complain about this new album not being straight-forward enough – I have made 87657546 of the most primitive and straight-up rock’n’roll records you will EVER hear, but these folks probably don’t know it. So ya, I get to do more things.

SM - Why is there so little output as Mark Sultan? You are a very prolific musician after all…

MS - Sure, as Mark Sultan, only two albums and a couple of singles. But that is still a decent amount for anyone. It’s not like when I wrote and sang and performed stuff as ‘BBQ’ or in King Khan & BBQ or in any other band I was in it wasn’t me. I did a shitload in those bands. Tonnes of music. It’s all still me.

SM - The collaborative process has always been the driving force of the gamut of your music. Are there any particular incarnations that you’ve been in that you’re especially proud of?

MS - I’m ‘proud’ of most of what I have been able to do or I wouldn’t put it out. That being said, the stuff I have had less control over release-wise that I have collaborated on with bands like Deadly Snakes or Black Lips or Jack Oblivian… Well, I still have no qualms with that stuff. I can officially say I was proud to have been invited to do that stuff.

SM - Are there any musicians or groups out there that you wish to warp music with?

MS - Like people I would wanna collaborate with? I dunno, but I’d love it if some band with similar sensibilities (a love of both pure rock’n’roll and avant garde shit) would snatch me up to sing in front of them, maybe do improv weirdness, I’d be in.

SM - You like to explore the extremities of the genres that intrigue most, such as psych, doo wop, country, punk – and eschew the tropes within these genres to create an iconic sound. What are the direct touchstones for $?

MS - I just love a LOT of music. I am pretty well versed and have a serious reverence for good shit. These things, these sounds I ended up exploring… They are LOVES of mine. I wasn’t subconsciously trying to meld a bunch of genres together, but I guess it just sounds that way. I have always maintained a certain level of timelessness in my songs or recordings – even when they were almost traditionally rock’n’roll – because I am me and I will do things that satisfy myself, no matter the scorn. I just think all of these sounds, no matter the superficial differences between them, are all cut from the same cloth. I just want to make a nice pair of socks with them.

SM - $ is infused with all your normal energies and musical tropes – it is a Mark Sultan record, through and through. Yet we have a couple of meandering tracks bookending the punchy verve of the rest of the album, plus the drawn out doo-wop beast that is ‘Ten of Hearts’ – is this intentional?

MS - Nothing was intentional. But I do know that I would never shorten – or draw out – anything on purpose. Whatever I felt like writing or recording is what I did. People complain about the length of some songs. I dunno. I don’t get it. I didn’t think music critics were into the 3 minute rule. I thought reviews were about content and not entertainment. Ultimately, I don’t give a fuck what people think – if they won’t listen to all of ‘$’, because they can’t get through the opener “Icicles”, then they have fallen into my trap. I don’t want someone with no patience listening to anything I do. Go listen to ‘all hits radio’. And forget what you were into next week. Hip! I like to look at longer songs in general as more like one connected moment I can spend with a lady, or spend destroying a house. Sensuality and anarchy versus piston-fucking and focused violence.

SM - Can I get a fuck yeah! We love our long songs here, no question! So whats the future of Mark Sultan? Back to the BBQ anytime soon?

MS - No idea. I live for today. But I just did a US tour kind of as my one-man band (BBQ), though it was billed as ‘Mark Sultan’, for the most part. It was awesome. I am taking a couple months off to enjoy my new apartment and finish up two new albums and then I hope to tour a bunch, as usual.

SM - God, I feel these questions are so staid, so fuck it. Nonsensical questions from here on out. If you indeed are the end as you state in the track, er, ‘I Am The End’, whats the beginning? And will ever the twain meet?

MS - I believe that time doesn’t exist and if it does it makes no sense as we know it. If I believed in time, I would be inclined to think it is speeding up. Maybe I do believe it. In any case, the ‘End’ is non-existence, I guess. So it’s a farce. There is no beginning.

SM - Whats your favourite pair of dancing shoes?

MS - I had some awesome kicks a few years back. I would dance so hard, my pants would fall down. Berlin, baby!

SM - Who is the brains and who is the brawn in King Khan & BBQ?

MS - We were both of the both, just mirrored in a vacuum.

SM - When can we expect you to come to the UK and set fire to this feudal empire?

MS - When someone invites me in such a way that I don’t get paid in water and treated like a piece of fucking shit.

SM - Finally, what is sonic masala?

Something so delicious-sounding that I am in a state of synesthetic shock. I seriously haven’t eaten music in days. I was hoping at first that it did not hurt my bowel, but have since realized it has rendered me a victim of the verbal trots.

Mark Sultan's $ is out now on Last Gang Records.

Permanently Mark My Face!

What to say about Face Tat, Zach Hill's latest hyper frenetic aural fuck fest?

Hmm, tough one.

Hill, possibly the greatest drummer on earth, and definitely the busiest, has here come closest to his Icarus-like devotion to reach the sun. His interlaid drum solos as always showcase his brilliant technical instrumentation behind the kit, but it is the way in which he has constructed his songs that is the true coup here. The manic mosaics are skewed beyond belief - skritching guitars, whorling loops, distorted and monotonous vocals - and it is one of the busiest, most disconnected, and fucking greatest albums released this year. It is so much fun.

But that doesnt mean its an easy listen. Oh no! Its disjointed, confronting, incredibly strange and fucking loud. Imagine, if you will, that Menomena went camping with Lightning Bolt, with Battles stoking the fire and cooking marshmallows and Angus Andrew from Liars dropping by for a brew and some peyote - and thats as close as the intricate spazzfest that is Face Tat can come to a descriptor. Or try this on for size: it all melts together like a fiercely burning cock candle, until all you have is a white hot pool of gloop with a flickering flame at its epicentre. Then its up to you to move the wax around and do what you will with it...

It does has its slight faults - Hill's vocals are still a bit one-dimensional, and he is yet to unlock the greatest mystery of all - a technically faultless yet melodic album with clear structured pop anthems at its core - but Face Tat proves without a doubt that he is perilously close. And if that means that this is a failure - then my 'achievements' haven't even left the petri dish.

Face Tat
is out now on Sargent House - I implore you, get this album. Here's what it looks like:

And here is what it sounds like:

Zach Hill - Ex-Ravers
Zach Hill - House of Hits

And what's more, Zach Hill is touring the US incessantly in Jan/Feb 2011 with likeminded pop fucksters Deerhoof (whose drummer Greg Saunier - a brilliant skinsmith in his own right - appears on blistering opener 'Memo To The Man'), with current Prince Rama support act Ben Butler - I wanna go to America! February is my birthday - they play Nashville on that night - it'd be my 30th - who's coming?!?!

Once again - BUY IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!