Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Sons Of Stone

I havent really had anything going around the record player from great label HoZaC Records lately, which I thought strange - then I received this little cracker. Sons Of Stone is the debut LP for a Michigan band called The People's Temple (nice connection to Jim Jones, love it!). This is similar to The Paperhead record I harped on about last week in that the sound these guys have mastered is so steeped in vintage late 60s/early 70s psych folk rock that its hard to fathom this album not coming out of a time capsule, alongside Marty McFly's Almanac (although that was in 1955 - but time travel is a finicky thing...). This is psych rock at its most languid and lethargic, laying serpentine grooves over tracks like 'Sons Of Stone' and 'Led As One' Just when you thought it could be ground down any further, along comes 'Sons Of Stone Revisited'... Yet the best part about these tracks is that there are riffs here, riffs that will latch on to you for days. Yet this isnt a epic listen - with fourteen tracks on here creating an album of 40 or so minutes, and with lots of variety in amongst the throwback jams. But its not just that that makes this essential listening - its the vitality of it. A lot of bands mining the back catalogues of yesteryear sound like retreads - The People's Temple sound like they are actually living it. And they are two sets of brothers, who may or may not be telekinetically linked. Either way, forget about the Followill's - along with Pontiak's Carney Bros, Ill follow this People's Temple into the jungle and gulp down the Kool Aid...

The People's Temple - Sons Of Stone

Fifty Minute Tera...

Those Sacramento noisenik raconteurs Tera Melos are trying to raise funds for their upcoming UK tour in June, and what better way to do it than by selling a 50 minute track? Echo On The Hills Of Knebworth is a jam that they recorded at the end of the Patagonian Rats sessions. Apparently they still had about an hour of recording time paid for, so they decided to do this maelstrom of a track - its pretty ace of base, although I dig this kinda shit like there's no tomorrow. It's only $5 US, which in Australian terms is a couple of cents nowadays, (aint too shabby for you kids spending your hard earned Pounds Sterling either...) for what is possibly my fave Tera Melos track ever put to record. Get it - NOW.

Tera Melos play in London at The Macbeth June 6th - tix are 8 qiud!

Derek Rogers' Wild Bathetic Safari!

Now for Bathetic post #2... Two cassette releases came out a week or so ago from artists Derek Rogers and Wild Safari.

Rogers' effort, Relative Quiet, is classic distorted guitar effect collage, offering tremulous ambiance that the likes of Kevin Greenspon, Mike McGuire and Tim Hecker often mine. (Rogers has heaps of cassettes available at his Bandcamp site here).

Wild Safari's We Laid Our Heads In Their Laps on the other hand is Jon (Bathetic) & Cody (ex-Pink Priest) laying down sonic tumblers that drift in and out of nostalgic, schoolyard sidewalks into lush forests. These languid synthetic jumble jams electrify as they lullaby. Another solid offering from them after their Cave Sequins release through Night People.

Derek Rogers - Everything Is Pointless And Meaningless
Wild Safari - Smuggler's Den

Sargent Lets Le Butcherettes Begin

We brought you exciting news about Sargent House stallions Hella yesterday (you missed it? WHA? Well get over here and sort that shit out, STAT!) Another Sargent House alum that are going great guns is Le Butcherettes, the Mexican trio that rip apart stages all across Northern America. They released a new LP Sin Sin Sin a fortnight ago through Rodriguez Lopez Productions, the label of Mars Volta's ridiculously hard working Omar Rodriguez Lopez. The band have a very unique stage set too - lead singer and basically "the band" Teri Gender Bender wears a bloody apron and uses props such as feather dusters, artificial blood, flour, eggs and pigs' heads (?) in a throwback to 50s era women's roles in the home, and to highlight women's emancipation from said roles...whatever, the chick fucking kills, and the bloody apron is amazing in the context of this roaring punk. Having enlisted ex-Locust drummer Gabe Serbian, and garnering adulation from the likes of Jack White and Karen O, they are preparing to take on the world, starting with supports shows for the Deftones.

Sin Sin Sin is a pretty slick album. Not the biggest fan of this track off it, 'I'm Getting Sick Of You' - a bit too Death Weather-lite via Juliette Lewis for my taste - not that either reference is bad, they are excellent, just that there are better examples of their wares elsewhere on the album. Keep an eye out on this trio for sure...

Le Butcherettes - Im Getting Sick Of You

Check this out to get what I mean...

Monday, 30 May 2011

Fair Oh's Enough

Those trop-punk kids Fair Ohs are so much then their brethren. Who are? Well, I only really know Vampire Weekend, and we all know how much they piss me off, so that is nt much contest. But still, the older the London trio get, the better they sound, and this goes for the following tracks off their forthcoming album Everything Is Dancing. Its pretty electric stuff, and promises that this will be the album that shoots them into the calypso stratosphere.

Everything Is Dancing is out in the UK through their own label Honey High Records on July 6, and everywhere else via Lefse on July 26. They will be busy touring too, with shows supporting Akron Family tonight at Bush Hall in London, before having their album launch at The Victory with Cold Pumas and Sauna Youth in support. They are also supporting Tune-Yards and playing the 1234 Shoreditch Festival. London, summer is going to be Fair Ohs weather...

Fair Ohs - Eden Rock
Fair Ohs - Summer Lake

Hella Be Praised!

Heard about this last week and shoulda been on top of this... Yep, Hella are back! Zach Hill, mega drumming legend that he is, confirmed that the album had been recorded and finished in April...wait, what? WHAT album? The Californian nutso spaz math rock fucktards even gave out a new track! Well, its been out for a little while, Ive been naughty and hogging it to myself... Its currently called 'Hella - Track 1'. Evocative.

But that can all change - if you want it to. See, Hella is inviting its fans (AKA you and me!) to create visuals and videos for "Hella - Track 1" and post them to the Hella Facebook page. Sargent House wont be releasing the new album until August, so there is enough time allotted for Hella to name their shit at some stage. But regardless of what or who wins out, one listen to the new track and you will be in thrall, stating that whilst its good to have bands like Tera Melos around, and Zach Hill's Face Tat album of last year was fucking ace, Hella have their own niche and only they can fill it again.

Hella - Track 1

King Dude Rides By

This is the first of two Bathetic Records related posts this week - great way to start off a week of amazing music!

And Im starting with the absolute highlight (no offence to the other two releases...) I had no idea who TJ Cowgill was before hearing King Dude - in fact I still don't really. He apparently runs a clothing brand called Actual Pain that Kanye West is a fan of? Weird. (But check out the website - best opening page!) Anyway, King Dude is this guy's project - and it is pretty damn awesome. The debut release from this project, the My Beloved Ghost EP, was released on Bathetic first as a cassette. Since then King Dude has released the Black Triangle 7" on Clan Destine Records, as well as an LP CD-R on Disaro called Tonight's Special Death. But Im focusing mainly on this reissue. Released in a batch of 500 (100 of which is on white vinyl), this reissue features the three tracks from the Black Triangle 7" at the end of the B-Side.

King Dude is making, hands down, some of the best modern neo-folk. Its quite dark, slightly otherworldly, but never truly authentic - c'mon, he's called King Dude! However you perceive it, just try not to get these tracks stuck in your head. They'll nestle in there like burrs. This is music sung at the break of a Western dawn, in the silence of the crossroad, around a flaming campfire, as the Devil approaches. Pass me the whisky and the shotgun - its my turn to watch over us tonight...

He's got a full length album coming up on DAIS Records. Until then, revel in the dark haunted beauty of King Dude's beloved ghost.

King Dude - My Beloved Ghost
King Dude - Our Everlasting Life

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Lowering The (Deer) Knives

Im not sure what this is saying about me - but Ive up until the past fortnight never really fully embraced Lower Dens. Maybe its the insistence of the fraternity that loves this Baltimore quartet to call them "pretty". Blurgh. I do like "pretty" things, but I dont call them "pretty". Fuck that (and so on and so forth, as I assert my fleeting masculinity...)

Released on Record Store Day through Sub Pop is their latest single, Deer Knives. i have been frantically snavvling up a lot of Record Store Day stuff, as quite a few RSD posts this past month can attest, so I had to delve into this to see what the haze rockers had thrown at us. First of all, the fact that neither of these songs have been released before this vinyl is beautiful - I hate getting releases on RSD if the tracks can be garnered elsewhere, something The Strange Boys did and pissed me right off. And whilst these tracks aren't "pretty", they sure are damned wonderful. The title track is an offering of beautiful, feel-good distorted shimmers, with Jana Hunter's unhurried, gently soaring vocals swirling around the track in an unhurried fashion that inadvertently draws a smile from me. Then the sunshine is magnified to an unsettling, intense finish that bores into the soul - but in a way that makes you want to bear the brunt of the sound over and again. But for me the B-side, 'Tangiers', is what makes this release and has me hankering for a full length from these guys. It jangles along at an even more sedate than its predecessor, burbling along with Hunter's distinct vocals resting on top of the aural surface, buoyed by the hushed guitar and subtle basslines. It never ebbs or flows, there are no peaks or troughs - this is one constant hazy number, one that not many bands can pull off with such aplomb. At under ten minutes it shouldnt hold you attention as well as it does - but it more than exceeds expectations. Lower Dens, Im putting away the knives before they are even suitably sharpened... (NB - it must be said that since this release guitarist Will Adams has left the band due to exhaustion, and Lower Dens have canceled some shows. Rest assured though, they will endeavour to continue in some format!)

Lower Dens - Deer Knives
Lower Dens - Tangiers

Hits From The Box #20 - Winter/Summer Disparity

Its getting just a wee bit chilly here in Brisbane, Australia. Its not uncommon to wear jeans and long sleeved shirts for warmth - oh, the humanity! Meanwhile over in the northern hemisphere people are coming out of hibernation and praying blindly for a sunny summer this year. Many of my friends have headed to the sunny climes of Barcelona this weekend for the Primavera Sound festival - one of the best festivals on this planet, hands down - and they were excited about swimming in the sea! Well, good for them. I would love to have the capacity to fly over there for their summer months then come back in September - a perennial tan and everybody around you happy for a change. Unfortunately I enjoy rolling around in my massive wad of cash rather than spending it, so I guess there's nothing left for me to do other than another Hits From The Box!

South Australia's Cheer Advisory Council kick off proceedings today. Boasting seven members at their fullest, the band have been playing since 2008, and are intent on reclaiming the bassoon as the rock instrument it always knew it could be. Their sound is hushed indie with emphasis on melancholic folk meanderings, all of which are highlighted on their album Distance (out on Big Rig Recordings). Using Low, The National, Midlake and Wilco as touchstones, Cheer Advisory Council will rise up into the national consciousness as the year progresses.

Cheer Advisory Council - An Offer Of Some Water

Meeko Cheech is an interesting creature. He's from Toronto for starters... (BAM!) Assuring me his sound emulated the likes of David Bowie, Brian Eno, MGMT, Jimi Hendrix and T.Rex, you can imagine my surprise when the lil EP he (real name Mike Mikocic - Mikocic, Meeko Cheek, geddit?) handed me sounded nothing like any of them. More like Meeko Cheek! Instead it came across as a more sedate, experimental Death From Above 79 if fronted by Courtney Taylor-Taylor. The more obvious emphasis here is on harder-edged slacker indie rock - all of which I think are pretty great touchstones myself. Yet it gets weirder than that - 'Emoticonnotations' could be an outtake from the soundtrack of seminal 90s film Joe's Apartment (maybe I just saw that recently in not the best state, so the reference is skewed, but when the shoe fits...) You can grab Capricorn Sideways over at his Bandcamp - do it, NOW!

Meeko Cheech - Collateral Apparatus
Meeko Cheech - Sharp Numbers

Alexander Turnquist is a guitarist/composer who uses his 12 string acoustic finger-style approach in creating very dramatic and emotionally engaging music. Turnquist started playing at a young age with an experimental approach from the onset, and has always held to the use of the acoustic guitar as the driving force and foundation in his compositions. In addition to his guitar playing he cleverly writes into his compositions accompaniment in the form of mallet percussion instruments, strings, and piano. He is on the cusp of releasing third LP Hallway Of Mirrors (on VHF Records) - at the ripe age of 23. Just immerse yourself in eight minute 'Spherical Aberrations' and marvel in the majesty and control contained within. Turnquist is a true master of his craft.

Alexander Turnquist - Spherical Aberrations

Robot House are a small act out of Manchester, England (not to be confused with the punk band from New South Wales, Australia by the same name). They have a demo EP out on their Bandcamp cheekily titled I Would Introduce Myself But Really You Should Know Me By Now. Its four slices of indie grunge. Its first two tracks are better than its second two - the band sound way better when going foot to the floor rather than slowing down. There needs to be menace there. Potential though...

Robot House - I'd Love To See You Fall
Robot House - German Suplex

Another youngun, gah! Austyn Sullivan is a 20 year old self-titled ambient project currently residing in Baltimore, Maryland, originally from Mandeville, Louisiana. Sullivan experiments with murmured vocals beneath the surface accompanied by repetitious melodies which creates a wave of thought and emotion. Talk about prolific - check out this dude's Bandcamp! Lots to wade through for sure, and the vast majority of it is good quality. Sullivan is currently working on a full length album titled Recollections Become Phantoms. The track below is much more ethereal than some of his other stuff - he is covering the gamut of drone and its possibilities.

Austyn Sullivan - A Waltz (To Wonder)

Based in Denver, Achille Lauro are an eclectic pop/rock band that bear a few resemblances to the likes of Akron/Family in their stilted, skewed take on pop structures. They also really really enjoy music. Music's fun to write. Fun to work to. Fun to drive to. Hell, it's fun to fuck to. In general, music is fucking fun. With that said, here is one of their grooves, 'Low Cha Cha' which will be released June 10th. A friend of mine said after hearing this, "This is what Maroon 5 could be if Maroon 5 were actually good and weren't a bunch of cunts." OK, I admit it - I said that. And it holds true. Modest Mouse as funk even...without the C-Bomb.

Achille Lauro - Low Cha Cha

Yes, that's right, Im breaking the nice six pack routine today, as Im feeling extra generous! (Possibly because Im seeing Propagandhi tonight and am looking forward to some reminiscing, if the politico punk is not up to scratch...) I received this email a while back actually from Acid Glasses regarding the two tracks below. Formerly 3D Acid Glasses, are from Memphis, Tennessee. Theirs is a sound of a hazy daydream in a dimmed room with wan light seeping through the slats of the venetian blinds. This is elegiac psychedelia. They have just digitally released their debut single 'Polnara Setera' via Stroll On Records. The B-side, 'Sloppy Surfin' is damned ace too - like the Beach Boys jamming with Black Lips, but played on a warped piece of wax with granules of sand permanently etched into the grooves.

Acid Glasses - Polnara Setera by STROLLONRECORDS

Acid Glasses - Sloppy Surfin' by STROLLONRECORDS

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Feeling The Sludge River Mouth

I actually don't know where I picked up Hot Singles, the 7" from Brooklyn punks Sleepies, but its a short burst of Superchunk-like riffs but with a darker bent. No heightened sugar vocals either - Thomas Seely is all about straining that vocal chord of his til it threatens to drop out. Irreverent, ballsy pop punk is never a gift horse to look in the mouth, so I will hold Sleepies to my chest and pour a pint over its head in familial triumph.

Sleepies - Sludge River Mouth

Sleepies also have a self titled LP that came out last year - its well worth hunting down. Expect something special from these guys in the upcoming months...

Plant Planting Plants...And Plants

Well it was only a matter of time before someone thought to combine the math intricacies of the likes of Battles with some of the more rhythmic beats that have circulated the chillwave genre in the past couple of the year. Im not sure if they are the first band out of the gates on this, but Plant Plants are the first one Ive heard wrestling this difficult beast. And on the whole I think they do all right. They also do the right thing by not steering too far from basic pop structures from which they can drape their sonic constellations over. They cite disparate influences like The Wicker Man soundtrack, 36 Chambers-era Wu Tang, and Baths. Now I can see the last one - not sure about the other two, but maybe thats where the skewed produciton comes into play. Its worthy of note regardless. They are only a duo, so there's only so much four arms can achieve of course. Indiemathonica? I dont know anymore - I like making up names - I make up new words every day. (Please dont make this a word though...)

If you're in London tonight you can see them support Trophy Wife down at The Lexington (ah, the Lexington, how I miss thee...) - well worth a shout I reckon.

Plant Plants - She's No One

Hands That Sleep by Plant Plants by Plant Plants

Friday, 27 May 2011

Friday Cover Up - Marc Gets Ty-ed

Last week I gave you the brilliant EMA cover of Robert Johnson's 'Any Kind Heart'. Today I give you another absolute doozy. As I mentioned back in April, International Record Store Day throws up some amazing releases. Well, one we didnt get here in Australia (well, not in Brisbane anyway!) was the 12" EP release by San Fran rad merchant Ty Segall called Ty Rex (through Goner Records). Now this is special in any case - Ty Segall is brilliant no matter what. But this is Ty covering six Marc Bolan classics in amazing fashion. I have fond memories of T.Rex - mainly lazy summer days in my first year as a teacher, swimming in the pool that I tended for the next door neighbours, drinking and smoking J's, with Bolan et al belting out the stereo...it was beautiful. All six songs rock, and I strongly suggest you get this - you can get a clear vinyl version from Goner Records, otherwise hunt around people!

Ty Segall - Fist Heart Mighty Dawn Dart (T.Rex cover)
Ty Segall - Salamander Palaganda (T.Rex cover)

Also exciting is that Segall is winging his way to Aussie shores! He plays at Woodland on July 7! Ill fight all and sundry for one of those tix...

Danger Mouse Enters Rome At High Noon

Seriously, if their are harder workers in the music industry in this day and age than ex-White Stripe Jack White, and the man sometimes known as Danger Mouse, Brian Burton, then I don't know em. Mr Burton - ahem, Mouse - has teamed up here with composer Daniele Luppi to create Rome, an album supposedly five years in the making that weaves together the sultry, acoustic sounds garnered from Italian soundtracks from the 1960s and the classic Italian Western genre. In fact, the album was recorded with the original orchestra from Italian director Sergio Leone’s westerns - authentic to the bone, then? Well, no.

Some background first. Burton and Luppi met in 2004, bonded over Italian scores, travelled to Rome in October 2006, made some calls, assembled the original musicians from films such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West - most of the musicians were in their seventies and hadn’t worked together for several decades - utilised vintage equipment made and played in Rome (using bottles of wine as payment), all in the effort of replicating the recording practices of the 1960s/70s golden age, recording live and straight to tape, with overdubs but no electronics, computers, 21st-century effects or studio trickery. The studio they used sits underneath a neo-classical church and is carved out of an ancient catacomb, with an echo chamber and a room full of vintage tapes. Whilst many of the songs were instrumentals, the next step was finding two lead vocalists who could do justice to the vocal-led tracks – which is where Jack White (along with chanteuse Norah Jones) fits in.

Welcome to Rome.

It has opened with many multimedia stunts - such as free listens to the album in Sydney if you went to a certain pop-up cafe and ordered a certain coffee, plus an ultra-ambitious music video which I will be analysing next week. All well and good. But is the album any good?

Pretty much, yeah.

The problem isn't if it's any good - its that there isnt enough variety here to take individual songs away with you after listening. Its a great album for background music, for languid days or nights with loved ones and lovers, drinking coffee or wine. It is an extremely sophisticated soundtrack, yet it never reaches the heady highs of Morricone's iconic efforts. Which in many ways was the main hurdle the two had in making Rome, and probably why it was avoided - because by imitating Morricone's sound, you risk satirising or - even worse - parodying it. White's contributions are the closest the album gets to creating an equal - his amazingly iconic vocals add an off-kilter timbre to the dulcet tones that offer something altogether different, an Italian score from a parallel universe if you will.

So Rome then is closest to Burton's oeuvre to the Beatles/Jay Z mashup The Grey Album - in my mind still his greatest effort. Yet that also shows up the glaringly missed opportunity here - for that managed to honour both artists and disparate genres whilst creating something unique and spellbinding. An enjoyable shot at the title, yet still wide of the mark.

Rome is out now through Capitol Records.

Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi - The Rose With The Broken Neck

Ignorance Is Liturgical A(n)esthesia

I know that Im opening myself up to some ear bashing here Im sure, especially from fans of Liturgy, the Brooklyn based self described transcendental black metal band who've just released their 2nd album Aesthethica on Thrill Jockey. I kinda get the black metal thing - but I really like them, and I on a whole despise black metal. So what Im saying is, this isnt black metal. Sure, their highly technical musicianship and blindingly high intensity level, combined with the bloodlettingly searing guttural screams, push this into that realm. But there are more influences at play here, and always have been, that invoke something else entirely. Their music is as steeped in hardcore, post-rock/post-metal and experimentation for them to fit comfortably into that rather constrictive categorisation. And on Aesthethica, Liturgy prove it, whether they want to or not. Joe Hemmerling over at Tiny Mix Tapes put it beautifully: "Liturgy is an ideal illustration of the paradox he describes: a band steeped in the trappings of black metal, but incorporating the vernaculars of no wave and minimalism, a sound both punishing and expansive that threatens to rip down the heavens, even as it throws its arms wide to embrace them."

Fittingly my entry into this epic album was 'Generation', a cyclical tour de force of an instrumental that for its seven minute running time had me in ecstatic throes. Then the other major instrumental, 'Veins Of God', offered up more monstrous riffs, and amazing drumming, a Swans' like dirge brutality. Opener 'High Gold' is closer to the thrust of black metal, but mainly due to vocalist Hunter Hunt-Hendrix swirling, nihilistic wails. In fact, its the vocals that insist on this pigeonholing - certainly not the instrumentation. Greg Fox's drumming is fucking sublime, and not in a double kick drum beat as fast as you can kind of way. The beats, fills and runs this guy gets off in most of these tracks are jaw-dropping, yet inform and drive the songs rather than create excessive whimsy. Indeed, there is enough technical acumen here to please a million metallers - and a track like 'True Will' seems especially catered to them - but any semblance of staid musicianship (at least in this genre - all metalheads are in some way virtuosos on how they manhandle their instruments) is shied away from. Shit, the guitar interplay in 'Sun Of Light' even bears resemblances to Battles! There's a two and a half minute electronic instrumental in 'Helix Skull'! 'Glory Bronze''s intro sounds ripped straight out of an early Mono album! Penultimate track 'Glass Earth' could be Animal Collective! Which leads into closer 'Harmonia' which ends on a surprisingly stereotypical, yet in this context epiphanous, metal outro!

You see, this is what we are dealing with here. But in the end, looking who is putting out their albums - Thrill Jockey, the premiere label for artists that experiment and transcend their genres.

As for the religious slant - other than the fact its labelled black metal, Hunt-Hendrix screams a lot and there's skewed iconography on their album sleeve, I dont know. I cant understand a word the guy yells. Just immerse yourself in this beautifully bludgeoning sound...

Liturgy - Generation
Liturgy - Red Crown

Damned Mouth Breathers, Breathin All My Air!

I came across the track 'Anxiety' over on Impose when I was trying to find out some material on the band Teens - and promptly forgot about them. The Kansas punkers known as Mouthbreathers (fantastic name!) roar through this track with real earnest and vitriol, sounding like an early 90s Epitaph band trying to be Minor Threat, only not sucking at it. SO I hunted down their Out Of Breath 7" and grabbed the other track, which is more sedate yet still upholds their modus operandi. And of course the Minor Threat inversion on their cover? The black sheep smoking a bong? Oh, you guys, the love in must stop! ...alright, get on with it!

A little further research let it be known that these two tracks are actually only one third of their untitled EP cassette that is (apparently) already out of stock. Lead Kyle Gowdy has put these two tracks on Bandcamp and another one on Soundcloud, and may release the others at a later date. There is also talk of a 12 song vinyl release by year's end. Now that IS something to get excited about...

Mouthbreathers - Anxiety
Mouthbreathers - Out Of My Head

05 The Creeper by secretlobotomy

Iowa Is Flooding The Gasometer!

We here have been big fans of Melbourne slacker noise pop band Iowa for some time now. And whilst they may not be travelling up north today (the bastards...), they are playing a show at the Gasometer Hotel in Collingwood tonight. Why am I bothering to tell y'all this? Because it will be their last show before they head into the studio with Neil Thomason (My Disco, Ricane) to record their debut LP! Exciting times indeed.

Now if you live in Melbourne but you have not been to the Gasometer before, its an incredible new bar with great drinks, vibe and has an American style menu complete with shaker fries! Im all up for that. Iowa wil be supported by Tall Buildings (which includes members of ace band Gersey) and Slow Ocean Mind. Its $5, with copies of their red and green 7" being sold for $10 - you can't go wrong!

Iowa - Lose Yourself
Iowa - Gaps In Conversation

Tall Buildings - Tenderness

Slow Ocean Mind - Mixed Lollies (demo)

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Those Girls' Names Are Not Yet Dead To Me

How time flies. Belfast band Girls Names booked their first name before they'd even played together back in January 2009. Yet here we are, almost 2 and a half years since that infamous date, and the trio have released their debut LP Dead To Me on Slumberland Records. They have definitely been busy before now, with many releases in different sizes and formats, and I have to say I was excited when I finally got my hands on this one.

And trepidatious.

Because as much as I like them, they have always threatened to err on the side of imitation. Supporting the likes of Dum Dum Girls hasn't helped rectify that sense of unease. And its true - Dead To Me does continue to mine the mixture of 60s shimmering beach/surf pop that so many others are wont to do in this day and age, and is most prevalent on tracks such as 'Nothing More To Say' - and somewhat heartfelt, endearing lyrics courteous of singer Neil Brogan, singing down the reverb path with his best Ian Curtis patios in check. And its very good - so likable, musically vibrant, rocks out whilst staying relatively upbeat. Yet its the old adage of "if it aint broke, dont fix it often" enough. The music has been done before in the past, and in the revivalist present, and done well. Dead To Me rivals all of that back catalogue, and surfs the crest of their contemporaries - but there is such a thing as saturation. Unfortunately Im just about at that point. As Ive said, this is still a good album, and Id still love to see them live. Its just gonna have to sit on the backburner for a while, and wait to see if it has the longevity that many of its influences have had. Except for closer 'Seance On A Wet Afternoon' - offering more of the darker trance vibe of Crystal Stilts, if the band had incorporated more of this inflection to give another side of their capabilities we might have had an immediate spinner.

Still as stated, it aint half bad, and with time comes inflection - we might see the palette expanded next time around.

Girls Names - Lawrence
Girls Names - Seance On A Wet Afternoon

Getting Into The Family Portrait

Paul mentioned waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the first couple months of Sonic Masala's inception the New Jersey band Family Portrait, naming them an act to keep an eye on. Well he wasn't half fucking wrong! They have brought out their self titled album about a month or so ago on Underwater Peoples (Real Estate, Julian Lynch), and its a heady slice of genres headed by a lead singer that is having a whale of a time. I know that I was most likely going to like this album - Paul was right when he said that 'Mega Secret' was an ace track - but I wasn't expecting to like it so much! 'Wait' reminds me of another small band I like, Rare Grooves, yet more accomplished and warm. That is the innate factor here - its so warm and fuzzy! I want to down a few cans of beer, get my buzz on and just float around with the goofiest grin on my face! Seriously, listen to this! As if you can get away Scott free from its salubrious charms! Its not afraid to step outside the fuzz quadrant! Its fully of watery, shimmering hooks! The lead singer is laconic! The band have a rich seam of fun that only they know how to tap into! I need to lie down!

Family Portrait is out now on Underwater Peoples - buy it here.

Family Portrait - Glide Pt 1
Family Portrait - Wait
Family Portrait - Other Side

Remove The Consciousness For The Last Season

I mentioned a little release You Ever Think It's The End Of The World by Finnish act Consciousness Removal Project last year. It was a brutal mix of post metal ebb and flow with an industrial slant, and the guttural growls of singer Antii Loponen set all on edge. The new album The Last Season continues to mine this realm, eschewing the growls held throughout the majority of the tracks with some post-hardcore posturing on the final, title track. Yet it is the instrumental movements that hold one in thrall here, especially on 'Kyoto', which feels like it has been plucked straight out of a brooding, ultraviolent anime, especially with the sudden shifts in tone and sonic space. Its almost Mono-esque, not as well sewn together musically yet more earth-shattering. Its probably a little too close to the previous release to get too excited - but its still pretty worthy nonetheless.

Consciousness Removal Project - Kyoto

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Ill Get Me On That Sex Beet - Someday...

After the shenanigans that the world had in store for London miscreants Sex Beet at the end of last year, I was unsure how they would bounce back. But I should never have feared, for they are just as loud, shambolic and reprehensible as ever! They are prepping a single, are finally getting around to recording their debut LP (with the inimitable King Khan, no less!) and The garage trio have a demo out, 'Someday', that is pretty damn solid for a "work in progress" I must say. Plus they will ba all over the joint come summertime, including that 1234 Festival. Last year's version was pretty ace, even if I got stupid drunk, hated on the Dum Dum Girls and left before Fucked Up...

PLUS if you are in London tomorrow they will be playing in Shoreditch in El Paso's, the Mex restaurant there. I really suggest you get yourself some quesadillas, some tequila and a good earful of Sex Beet - it'll be well worth your time.

Sex Beet - Someday (demo)

Crystal Antlers Go Pagan, Just Wanna Be Friends...

Not sure whether to be happy or upset by this, Crystal Antlers' first taste off their upcoming LP Two-Way Mirror. You see, I was having a debate with some friends last year about the 'relevance' of Crystal Antlers - I for one thought that Tentacles was still a good album, yet had been superseded by other bands of their ilk since its inception back in 2009. Now we can hear on 'Summer Solstice' that they are doing away with the lo-fi nature of Tentacles - but what's this? Is it just me, or does this track sound suspiciously like those New York mad stallions, Les Savy Fav? If you agree that they certainly DO sound like Les Savy Fav, then you might be swayed either way depending on whether you like that band or not. Me? I like Les Savy Fav - they are amazing live - but do we need another one? Im flummoxed...

Crystal Antlers - Summer Solstice

Two-Way Mirror is out July 12, and we will have a better idea then. until then though, give us your thoughts. And in case you forgot, they did create one of the coolest songs ever (in my opinion this is one of my favourite tracks of the 2000s...).

Crystal Antlers - Andrew

Can't See Through The Screens

Oh, you bands with every so difficult names to Google! Screens are from New York, have just released the album Dead House through What Delicate Records, and make a sound that is part times ATDI art rock, at others chillwave crossed with no wave, at other times has an industrial drone bent a la Factory Floor. Overall this is a very solid record, as the below tracks attest - and these aren't the best gems to find on Dead House at all in my opinion. They are making minor splashes in their chosen hometown too, if an upcoming show with the likes of Sightings, Aa and Golden Triangle is any indication - which it is, my children.

(NB - I think this is the band that my mate Andy was trying to tell me about. Mate, if its another Screens - and there seem to be a few around - let me know. But if Im on the money, kudos to you!

You can grab Dead House at their Bandcamp site, whilst physical copies are available through What Delicate here.

Screens - Shudder
Screens - Pop Logic

Video Vacuum - Cults, Tennis, To Disappear, Alphacloud

Well, it's that time of year again. That time when its perfectly fine to get all primitive, to become blindly prejudiced, publicly drunk, incessantly biased and just a little bit violent.

Yep, its State Of Origin time.

If there are any SM readers out there that dont know what State Of Origin is, Im not going into it now. Ill wax lyrical for hours, so much has the spirit of the game and my inherent adherence to all things Maroon taken root. But seeing as I have a full day of work ahead of me, I need to settle down - and these four music videos might do the trick...

Cults are just about ruling the world right now, arent they? Im not going to say that they should lay claim to enslaving the earth just yet, but the duo sure do know their way around a pop song. They also know how to construct arresting visuals with their tunes. I could take 'Abducted' literally - it does have a certain Pied Piper element to it, ie that the more I watch/listen, the more I fall under their thrall - but it is Wednesday, the day I devote all to the golden calf that is Wally's statue. So, here's the clip...

Alphacloud, otherwise known as William Besson, has a certain level of Junip to him. He also seems to have a polygon-related skin disease. You should really get that sorted dude. Nothing a few beers and 80 minutes of hard-hitting, manly rugby league couldn't fix...

Tennis, oh how you taunt us with your hard to find moniker! Their Cape Dory record was nevertheless enough to make up for this...except for today. Tennis? Really? Sure, the French Open is on and its on clay and stuff and kinda exciting, but doesn't hold a candle to the glory that State Of Origin brings. Plus, if you hear a player groan in this game, its because they have been cut in half by 120 kilos of muscle, not just faked the most unattractive orgasm known to man whilst feathering a fuzzy green ball. Just sayin...

To Disappear is essentially a Canadian indie rock project influenced by the likes of The National and 90s noise rock. It is also an international act - one member from Ontaria, one member from Spain, one from Britain...and one from Australia, the guitarist Ben Sharples, who gave me this video for track 'To Be By Your Side.' Its a lovely song to be sure, but I cant imagine Ben playing this as he would be too busy glued to the screen in some godforsaken Aussie-themed bar in Canada, frothing his Fosters as he yells, "GO QUEENSLANDER!"...or some such. He probably won't, therefore for the next 24 hours we won't be friends. But this track is still lovely, and come Thursday morning the air will be cleared...

Im off to lace the boots on. And unless you're joining me...get back to work!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Teepee For My Morals!

Ive been in a spot of bother with this, Teepee's new release Morals. This was teed up as a post about a month ago, but I kinda sorta maybe lost the album... But all is good now, so here it is!

Teepee is a one man noise merchant from Miami, known to his mum as Eric Lopez-Zareno. Morals is eleven tracks (fifteen if you get on the deluxe edition - and you should) of sound collages, all coalescing from one small idea and becoming something altogether new, bohemian, ethereal and, usually, something quite loud. Which are all things I can get into. What Teepee has done here is create a lo-fi psych noise pastiche that is coherent, something that in this genre can be quite difficult to do. What's more, he has made physical copies of this little gem, which I have to say Im quite excited about. I like plugging into this, but Im especially looking forward to putting this on the turntable and letting the vibrations enter my whole body. Morals is that kinda album.

Download Morals for free here (whilst there check out some of his other stuff) - invest in the vinyl over at Senzei Records here.

Teepee - Tecum Uman
Teepee - I Told You So

Riding The Air Over The Cloud Mountains

Mountains is a duo of sonic explorers, traveling the lines between acoustic and electronic music and creating some of the most densely layered and blissful music Ive heard all year. Im not sure what some of the detractors of this album are harping on about - sure, this is my entry point to Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp's soundscapes, all glistening warm synth, modular effects and panoramic aurality. It signifies Mountains’ first to use an entierly analog process of sound manipulation, which is so hard to fathom - Air Museum offers a suite of music that is seamless in its Vangelis-like electronic synthetics. There are tracks that stand well on their own, such as ''Thousand Square' and 'Sequel', but they become stronger when set in their place in the album. I was not sure what to expect when listening to this album - but Im very impressed. Its glacial and languid in its beauty, yet the sounds arent natural - they are bound within their own futuristic web. The fact that its been on repeat today, says more than anything else I could mention really. Mountains are something special - delve into their world.

You can get Air Museum from Thrill Jockey here. Mountains play at Cafe Oto in London tomorrow night - make sure you grab tickets, cos this is going to be something special...

Mountains - Thousand Square
Mountains - Sequel

Cults Are Cool

I think this is a first. I put up on the Sonic Masala Facebook page last week asking what people were listening to. Other than perennial SMer Andy, there wasn't much response - except from Phil Platt who posted the album Try Crunch from a noise band from New Zealand, Cool Cult. I hadnt heard it, so I went over to the Bandcamp to do just that - and it's fucking ace of base. Running the gamut of noise pop, from your post-punk shoegaze to your no wave and some experimental flourishes in between, the Auckland trio are willing to throw their musical ideas around with wanton abandon. But don't think there isn't substance here behind the constant application of style - these are mostly beautifully formed nuggets sound that are brimming with exuberance and ebullience (like in the track 'Unlived') whilst retaining a hard edged sheen throughout. Some may even here the entire career trajectory of one Bradford Cox in there... Im very impressed - thanks for the heads up Phil, hopefully we here at SM can do the same for you!

And if this Rapture business turns out to just have gotten stuck in traffic and is actually on its way, you could do worse than to sacrifice it all to these three kids...

Cool Cult's Try Crunch is out through Muzai Records (who are also responsible for Fatangryman who I spoke about here).

Cool Cult - Tomorrow

Monday, 23 May 2011

Imperialist Art For The Suburban Surf Set

Shit its miserable in Brisbane today! All rain and bluster. Thank God then for Toronto's Art Imperial, whose Surf Suburban EP I received recently. The idea of the EP apparently came from having The Mamas & The Papas' 'California Dreamin' on repeat during a long winter period, with the wistful dreaming of standing on a white sand beach, watching crystal blue waves crash against the shore. Im with you there brother... Sure, there are umpteen inferences to other acts here, from pop pioneers The Beach Boys to more recent acolytes such as Wavves, Girls and Beach Fossils. There's even a hint of good 80s new wave under the twanging surf guitars on tracks like 'Bugs Out My Mind' that invokes the cheerier moments of the Raveonettes. All amazing touchstones, Im sure you'd agree. Nevertheless there is a genuine thematic zeal underpinning these six tracks (plus a surprisingly crystalline production) that helps to elevate them above mere mimicry. Dreamy euphoric pop whimsy maybe? Im not sure, but Surf Suburban is doing it for me. And for you folks stripping down as summer approaches, then you have an early contender to crown your seasonal mixtape.

You can get Surf Suburban at Art Imperial's Bandcamp here.

Art Imperial - When Im With You (I Feel Dumb)

Art Imperial - Bugs Out My Mind

Getting The Kellies In The Woods Of Tape Deck Mountain

I posted about San Diego's Tape Deck Mountain earlier this year, waxing on about their EP Secret Serf (check out our thoughts here). It was ace, still is, and now they are touring with a new track to boot. 'Kellies' is on a cassette that is only availbale from the band on their US tour, which is massive, starting in Los Angeles on the 2nd of June and continuing on until they reach Phoenix in July. Along the way they will tour alongside Grooms for a bit, and play a show with Keepaway in New York, but its the first leg we are excited about as they will be joined by the excellent Woodsman. The Denver outfit have some new stuff to back up their great Rare Forms album too (which I lost my shit over here) - this track, 'Tone Cloak', is eight minutes of classic psych sprawl. Anyway, check out their respective websites to ensure you don't miss em, ok?

Tape Deck Mountain - Kellies

Woodsman - Tone Cloak

The Myths and Fables of the Plantagenet 3

Received a short email a couple of weeks ago from London band Plantagenet 3, who in their own words are "making a misguided attempt to combine Spaghetti Western soundtracks, 1960s surf guitar and minimalist post-rock." Im sorry - misguided? Id say, forge away, pioneer! They are releasing their debut album Modern Myths And Fables today on beautiful 12" vinyl, and its something to definitely get excited about. I would love to catch them in their live arena and see how they pull it all off - Im sucker for post rock leanings as it is, so ones that promise to be good and a little left of centre means I have high expectations! If you want to sample the album, head over to their Bandcamp...

Plantagenet 3 - Theme From An Imaginary Western
Plantagenet 3 - Nocturne

Sunday, 22 May 2011

My Wet Hair Is Radiant!

The first of two Wet Hair posts this week, due to the two releases they have pumped out in quick succession, this one focuses on 7" Radiant Lines (out on Not Not Fun Records). As is the wont for a 7", the A-Side lets it all hang out, 'Radiant Lines' being a true psychotropic rage through swirling masses of ephemeral matter and noise - lotsa noise. Led by an evangelical madman on peyote. Yeah, Wet Hair take you there. Then the requisite shift of gears that is B-side 'Decay' is nevertheless as skewed as you'd expect a Wet Hair track to be - all mangled tape loop, out of tune plinkings and drones.

As with all Wet Hair release its equal parts irksome and winsome, with a large dollop of weird psych to boot. Which makes the new release something to be very intrigued about - and you will find out what we think very soon!

Wet Hair - Radiant Lines
Wet Hair - Decay