Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Asfandyar Khan Take The North Wind

You might remember right back at the inception of Sonic Masala (all the way back in the heady days of 2010) that I was enamoured with an EP out of Pakistan called Snow Makes Things Perfect (check it out here). The artist behind this wonderful ambient suite of sound was Asfandyar Khan. Its been a while, but Khan is back with another EP, The North Wind, and it's not as good. Why? Because it is far too short! The four songs on this release go just over 11 minutes altogether, and this floats by. It's an inimitably replayable disc that's for sure. Khan has created a minimalist soundscape that is better than prescription drugs. If you cant transport yourself to a better life armed solely on this EP, you aren't trying hard enough.

Grab The North Wind here.

Asfandyar Khan - Warp

Doubling The Cat In Uralba

Melbourne's Cat Cat really did themselves a disservice bringing out their debut LP Uralba in the last moments of 2011, for it got lost in the tide of best of lists and premonitions of 2012. Truth be told, this lo-fi threesome have created a excellent album of languid guitar pop gems that it makes me think that this is what Real Estate should sound like. Its sunny and sexy in the right parts, introspective in the right parts, trebly all the way through. Sure, there are many bands in this corner of the world over the past forty years that have delved into these waters, but Uralba is a great release all round.

Have at Uralba - it's through Dream Damage here.

Cat Cat - Hate Me
Cat Cat - Keys And Locks Don't Work
Cat Cat - Romance

Lizards And Jesus Swan On The Live Front

The Swans reunion was one of the greatest things to happen amidst teh shithouse reformation surge of the past few years, especially as Michael Gira and crew went out and made an album of original material that was just as important and defiant as their back catalogue. Now it's time to hear how it all sounds live (although many of you have had the chance to have that experience already) in the form of a double CD Limited Edition with special handmade packaging. It is called We Rose From Your Bed With The Sun In Our Head and has been culled from the best recordings and performances of the recent Swans tour(s) of 2010/2011. That special packaging is a handmade woodblock print of a drawing Gira did for the occasion. With hand coloring and detailing by the man himself, it is 4 colors, in all with each one is signed and numbered. What's more, this special package also contains solo recordings Gira made at home of some of the songs that will appear on the upcoming Swans studio album, The Seer. In fact, purchasing this live album helps to fund the new album, so it's definitely win win! The Seer, by the way, is set to be a triple vinyl/2XCD/Digital release. Crazy good! Grab We Rose From Your Bed With The Sun In Our Head at Gira's Young God Records.

Swans - Intro/No Thoughts No Words (live) (note - this is a massive 24 minute track, so it will be a big download...but it is fucking incredible!)

Then of course you cannot beat Club, one of the best live albums I've heard in forever. David Yow is in fine rampant redneck form, a vitriolic arsehole that is impossible to love or hate, and the rest of his Jesus Lizards are in incredibly fine form. Club comes from a gig at the Exit/In club at Nashville back in 2009. It is exceptional. Ive actually had this for some time, but seeing as Swans' live album is deserved of an airing, I thought this would be the perfect complement. Too much of a good thing is never enough - especially when its as deliciously depraved as this... (NB - you can still buy the DVD, but Im pretty sure this LP is no longer available. Keep on searchin though...)

Jesus Lizard - Mouthbreather (live)
Jesus Lizard - Monkey Trick (live)

Prepare To Be Re-Spiritualized!!!

Spiritualized have been on fire with their Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space album concerts, and they have dropped this brand new track to spin in our ears ad nauseum! It is off Sweet Heart Sweet Light, which will be out April 17 on Fat Possum Records. Holy fucking shit. That is all.

Spiritualized 'Hey Jane' by Spiritualized

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Steve Hauschildt

Last week's Mark McGuire show was nothing if not incendiary. I have spoken about his brilliance on this very blog many a time. However, he is not the only member of the beautifully eclectic Emeralds collective to step out under his own name. The solitary figure of Steve Hauschildt has been the steady fulcrum to McGuire and John Elliot's more out-there performances, yet he brought out last year's Tragedy & Geometry, an album full of nuance, shade and light that is at once an obvious progression from the band and a chance to expand boundaries in a different conceptual tone.

A nice way to ward off the cold and bring forth the astral sun; a stroll down memory lane of synth's historical flights of fancy. Is it just me who hears Tangerine Dream in the wings? Yet there is an inherent warmth here that actively distances Hauschildt's efforts from his influences, and that is what elevates these sounds. They bleed together like any synthscape is wont to do, but it's a pleasant, at times euphoric experience. I really like this.

Tragedy & Geometry is out on Kranky Records now.

Steve Hauschildt - Polyhymnia
Steve Hauschildt - Tragedy & Geometry

The Stars And The Surf Are Worth The (Re)Visit

I can never claim to be a true Nada Surf acolyte. When 'Popular' came out, I thought that was who the New York outfit was. Since then I have heard various tracks (I'm particularly fond of 'Blonde On Blonde' and 'Hi Speed Soul'), but due this failure to truly immerse myself in their delights, I have never been able to shake the notion that they are nothing but a novelty act. Well, they are still kicking, and have brought forth The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy. To be honest, it's OK? I guess I need to give it a second, maybe a third shot. It did re-awaken me to their 2002 album Let Go though, and that IS a great album. Go back and embrace these guys once more, you never know, they may become "popular" once more (Wait, WHAT? Is that a pun? Fuck, it's time to go home. I've Blonde On Blonde, playing on my stereo...)

Nada Surf - When I Was Young

Hits From The Box #45 - Exorbitance Does Not Maketh The Radiohead

I didn't really have much exciting stuff to state about the past week. I worked. Saw Mark McGuire which was mega rad. Didn't go on a bucks night at the Gold Coast - because it was at the Gold Coast, that says it all. Drank a few Bloody Mary's, smoked a few cigarettes. Went for some bush-like walks. Watched half of Drive Angry - it was pretty shit, but I enjoyed it...can't remember why I didn't watch the rest. Ate some soft shell crab - now THAT was amazing! Then...

Radiohead did the sneak announcement of their tour. Presale sold out before I even knew about it. Then the price - $135? Seriously? So you can do pay what you want for In Rainbows, stay away for 8 years (and even in 2004, avoid Brisbane), then ask whatever you want? Bastards! Then again I paid $150 to see the reformed Police, supported by Fergie...shudder. I guess Ill see you there, Thom.

Hits From The Box time!

Ofttimes people connect over similar tastes. This is the way with Sonic Masala and Waylon Thornton & the Heavy Hands. Thornton really dug my review of the Blasted Canyons record (it is a great one - check it out here, then bloody well go buy it!!!), and then we got to his music. He and his act put together No Chew No Rip in one afternoon, and it shows. Not in a bad way, but in a frenetic, feverish, one take takes all kinda way. Thornton claims he had been listening to a lot of Captain Beefheart and Cramps when this EP was constructed, and it's not hard to see those elements seeping through like radioactive goo. It's all goof, and you can check the whole thing out here. Can't wait to hear what those heavy hands have ready for us in 2012...

Waylon Thornton and the Heavy Hands - No Chew No Rip
Waylon Thornton and the Heavy Hands - Sky High Heels

Karate Body Records are putting out Louisville, Kentucky outfit Whistle Peak's brand new album, Half Asleep Upon Echo Falls, out now on CD, digital and limited edition teal 12" vinyl (only 250 available of these). It's elegant, slanted and enchanted experimental folk pop, if that makes any sense... It bubbles over the synapses, an opaque pastoral pleasure. Again, these types of bands can be hit and miss, but if you can give your Bon Iver a Sophtware Slump LP and run with it, then you end up erring on the right side of experimentation. I really dig this record. Try it out for size here.

Whistle Peak - Wings Won't Behave

So this band called Super Minotaur sent me their 7" called Phantom Brat. Other than that, all I know is they are from Chicago... Information overload guys! A little more digging and I can tell you that...well, nothing really. Hmmm. Like all good musos though, let the music speak for itself. It's a killer piece of thrashy garage punk though. Peepers locked in on these guys - can't wait to hear more.

Super Minotaur - Phantom Brat

Now this one I feel a little guilty about. Connecticut experimental rock outfit Ghost Of Chance sent me their album A Simple Beast around November last year. Admittedly that is also around the time I took my unexpected sabbatical from the blog, but still, I feel bad for not bringing this into the light until now. It's all a little quirky and surreal, and at times reminds me of a more languid The Unicorns (oh how I miss those guys!). It's all levels of pop, filtered through cracked genre lenses, and spat out with laconic chagrin. Tracks like 'Pilot' and 'Red Garbs' lift the spirits, and they are the songs that'll grab ya. And you may recognise another HFTB recipient in the mix - Jayson Munro from Deluxe is one of these Ghosts! All three tracks below are from the album, and also have videos for them - find em on YouTube.

Ghost Of Chance - Howard Howe
Ghost Of Chance - New Carthage
Ghost Of Chance - Pilot

San Francisco post-punk preachers Bad Bibles, have pumped out a 4-song EP called Their influences range from Killing Joke, No Age, At The Drive-In, The Birthday Party, Liars, Nirvana, and Fucked Up - holy shit, soulmates right? They have had recent shows with the likes of Kids On A Crime Spree, PS I Love You and Balkans too, so they are hitting the SM high notes. I still feel that they haven't roughed up the edges enough - yet. Still, there's a little of The Austerity Program about them (that is a fucking huuuuuuuuuuge compliment, by the by), the artwork is ace and the opening track is killer. One to watch.

Bad Bibles - The Statue Talks To Me

Finally - and I never thought this would happen - we have a The Bravery reference! The Danvilles is a speed blues act that includes Mike Hindert of the titular bland band - that said, I like this. The Danvilles released a new LP titled Women and the Virginia-based band really swagger through their 23-minute longplayer like it's no one's business. And it isn't really. Suffice to say, it's all impressive. Grab Women here, but not here - ah Putin, you crazy 80s Cold War throwback you...

The Danvilles - Seemed So Easy
The Danvilles - Somethin To Say


Woodsman Swings Back In Time For Our Benefit

Woodsman is a band that is unrepentent if their psych sojourns come off as pretentious, as it is for them to expand their own horizons and see what takes shape. Their past releases have all been good (especially their earlier, lo-fi productions), and it's not likely to change. A giant jam session that goes wherever it goes, nothing can be taken for granted. The two truest examples of this are on two of those earlier releases, the Humdrum and Indoor Days EPs. Now reissued on the band's own Fire Talk Records, it's exciting to think that these sessions were done in home studios, and if they take these meanderings back on board, truly merging them with their newer approaches, their new LP should be mighty exciting. Listen to both EPs below, and take 'Supernal Radionics' with you.

Woodsman - Supernal Radionics

Monday, 27 February 2012

Maps & Atlases Beware And Are Grateful For Winter

Can you believe that Maps & Atlases have only had one proper album out? God, it feels like they have been around forever, and with their many EPs it's easy to forget that 2010's Perch Patchwork was their debut (I actually thought it was their second LP until only last week...oops). Well they are about to double that account when they release Beware And Be Grateful on Fat Cat Records on April 16. The Chicago act are teasing us with what's to come with 'Winter', something that mirrors their tight kinetic pop aesthetics, yet offers some nuance that piques the interest - exactly what a teaser is meant to do! Frontman Dave Davison claims the band came up with 'Winter' during the previous incredibly cold Chicago winter. "The song contrasts memory and the perspective of winter as a season of possibility and creativity with the bleak, stillness of winter nights in the Midwest." Interesting, right? Check it out below.

Maps & Atlases - Winter

If you are in London you can catch the band play the new album a day after its release on April 17 at the Garage. This will be a solid gold show - grab tix here.

Zombies Make The Great Migration West...And Win

Having loved their self-everything debut The End...And The Aftermath back in 2010, I have kept a close eye on Texan post-rockers Zombie Western. Much of the proof is in that moniker itself, a post-apocalyptic wasteland of epic compositional daring, desperation and despair. The careful blending of the dramatic elements of film with the subtlety of layered instrumentation come together to create their textured sound. This has been augmented by the adding of a second guitarist to the mix. The Great Migration is the new LP and taste of how far the holocaust has progressed in the band's parallel universe. If you like instrumental rock, this one is a no brainer. Even if you are nonplussed, though, the cinematic flourishes and ties to an undead-infested world is exciting, believable, and haunting.

Grab The Great Migration here.

Zombie Western - Wasteland
Zombie Western - The Great Migration

Friday, 24 February 2012

Friday Cover Up - Supporting Beautiful Magnolia

So we reach another Friday. Its cold and wet here in Brisbane, and Im feeling a little maudlin. Ill perk up very soon, what with tonight's stellar Sonic Masala Presents... show and all, but I thought Id end off the week with this. I mentioned earlier this week Shimmering Stars' cover of Jason Molina's 'Hold On, Magnolia', the closing track of the last album recorded under the Songs:Ohia moniker (and in my opinion by far the best thing he has ever done), The Magnolia Electric Co in 2003. I got to see Molina in his Magnolia Electric Co. format at Bush Hall in London back in 2009, and I was a little disappointed, mainly due to the fact that I wasn't enamoured with the later stuff he had done with this band. Still, when they kicked out this song, along with 'Farewell Transmission', it fucking slayed me. So to think this genius is hanging on to life in a metaphysical sense by the skin of his teeth is some of the worst news to bear. It's bloody fantastic that Shimmering Stars are using their latest 7" EP to shed a light on this tragedy and are donating 10% of all earnings from this release to Molina to get him back on his feet. If you want to donate directly, head here - it's an incredibly worthwhile cause. Below is the A-side - click forward for the cover.

The cover itself is faithful to a T - but this song is faultless as is, so why fuck with it? I liked Shimmering Stars before this - I love them now. You should too.

Happy weekend folks.

The Masala Before Time - The 4th Sonic Masala Presents... Show TONIGHT!!!

The Sonic Masala shows roll on, and tonight we delve into slightly more familiar territory. It's funny that I haven't put on a truly psych-entrenched band on until now, but Dreamtime are certainly the best band to open the account with. I was a big fan of their debut self-titled 12" last year, plus their slot in a Gin Club show around May last year was pretty special, so this will be a good show to catch. What's more, they are playing first due to work commitments (damn you Black Bear Lodge! Actually, don't - I like to blow money on White Rabbits when Im feeling like a Waylon Jennings vinyl fix...)!

Next up is The Maryettas, an outlet for Ryan Potter to present some of his sunnier tracks that don't fit the doom-laden goth noir stomp of Nikko or the elegaic instrumentals of The Scrapes. Normally in solo form, Potter tonight is joined by fello Nikko member Jackson Briggs and Brock (all the way from Goondiwindi no less! We drag in the big guns!) in what will be the world first electric performance! Special times indeed!

Then we have special guests Dingo's Baby (what a name), the "new" project from Dreamtime's Zac Anderson. Backing up from the earlier slot, Anderson and his cronies promise psych-punk-vomit-enlightenment (my words...). I have no real idea, other than to expect something special, regardless of what quarter of shambolism this one stumbles into. Could be the show of the night.

Closing us out is Ghost Notes, the eloquent instrumentalists that wowed all and sundry with last year's By Cover Of Night. They are playing witha truncated lineup, therefore offering yet another unique set. One of the members is The Waiting Room's very own Cam Smith, who knows this enue inside out, so expect the sound to be silky to the point of being invasive. Golden.

So come down. Once again it's at The Waiting Room, it's $10 and it's BYO. And hopefully it will be brilliant as the above artwork, done once more by the delectable Joanne Thies. This will be a great night!

PS The next night on March 23rd is yet another show on a very crowded Friday night, so we are going to strive for some special inclusions to drag you away from the other shows. Expect prizes, giveaways, maybe even a karaoke machine. Ill do what it takes to make you love me...

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Mark McGuire gig

Room40 + The Judith Wright Centre present an outstanding night of eclectic guitar tomfoolery with Mark McGuire (Emeralds) taking residence in the Shopfront tonight!

We fucking love him around these parts - his Living With Another record was my second favourite of 2010, behind Women's Public Strain and his 'day band' Emeralds' Does It Look Like I'm Here? - so to see him on his lonesome is going to be ultra special indeed. One of the central figures emerging from the USA underground, Mark McGuire’s solo releases places him smack bang in the middle of the killer vibrations flooding forth from America's underbelly. With numerous releases on eMego, as well as countless other labels, he’s developed an incredible live looping setup,through which guitar is transformed into a cosmos of sound! Joined to the hip is one of Brisbane's finest (although I can't get em to play a SM show yet - Ill get there soon...) Blank Realm.

It's gonna be soooooooooo good! No amount of o's can equate to how awesome this potentially will be. It is limited capacity though, so try to snavvle up the last tix here! See you tonight - and if you're unsure, listen to the glorious track below, try not to shed a tear, and man up and put the bread on the table!

Mark McGuire - Brothers (For Matt)

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Feeling The TRMRS

Costa Mesa band TRMRS (pronounced Tremors for those of you used to vowels) sent me their 7" split with Night Beats (coming out on Volcom Entertainment & Resurrection Records), and its pretty kick arse. Their side of it contains 'Goodtime Blues', which so goddamned dirty and fun that I can't help but love it. It would go down a treat here in Brisbane I reckon... Deliberately straddling the bedroom surf pop, sludgy guitar and murky psych borders, the band are adept at eschewing conventions. Expect to hear more from TRMRS as they launch 2012 and their split with shows alongside the aforementioned Night Beats, but also SM faves The Growlers and White Fence! Grab the Split here. Look out for an album later in the year.

Burning Boats Helps To Farewell The Republic

Today is the long-awaited launch day for Burn The Boats, the debut LP from DC via Brooklyn's Farewell Republic. You might remember I mentioned these guys back in October last year, and I was pretty impressed by their punchy psych-tinged rock. Burn The Boats more than ably lives up to those expectations, delivering some stellar swathes of guitar. It doesn't always work, especially when they dial the guitars down for some more heartfelt balladry such as 'Crimes' (not a bad song, really, but lacks the punch of the tracks around it), but as we witnessed with 'Wake', and as seen in opening one-two crunch of 'Time Won't Mind' and 'With My Eyes Open', they can nail it in the right frame of mind.

Farewell Republic - Wake
Farewell Republic - Gliss

Getting Fried On The Rocks Of White Hills

Next month LA psych space rock behemoth White Hills unleashes another album on us in the form of Frying On This Rock. Holy shit its good. Then again, I always love what they offer. It opens up with the thundering motorik swirl and bluster of 'Pads Of Light', before 'Robot Stomp' takes us on a repetitive droning journey into the inner echelons of the psyche, its incremental ratcheting of the noise an otherworldly aural orgasm of unearthly delights. 'You Dream You See' feels like an amalgam of the first two tracks, but 'Song Of Everything' is an altogether different beast, delving into the heavy White Hills psych noise before stopping halfway through for silence, samples and general malaise, before kicking back in in the final sixty seconds. Finally we have 'I Write A Thousand Letters (Pulp On Bone)', a fucktastic orgy of brutal swirling psychedelia that eats the paint of the walls and the tar off the lungs. Its less atmospheric than 2011's H-p1, infused with an addled urgency that, like a meth addict, makes it hard to trust or predict, therefore you daren't take your eyes off it. That's a twisted seal of approval, right there.

Frying On The Rocks is out March 20 via Thrill Jockey. There were some half pink/half white vinyl versions available for pre-order, but they sold out in less than 24 hours. Nevertheless it is still available in the two colours above. How about that pink??? Sexy times. Pre-order your copy here.

White Hills - Pads Of Light

Video Vacuum - Tiny Spiders, Tiny Migrants, Velociraptor, The Fighting League

I thought that it had been a while since we had some videos to break up the tedium of real life, and what better way to do that than with three Brisbane garage snotrag bands and one from Canberra? Aussies unite!

First we have Tiny Spiders. I posted about this track earlier, but here is their video shot at the Waiting Room with various drunks playing indie gym junkies (ahem). Its a great tune, and some people actually look like they are exercising. What though is anyone's guess...

I'm pretty sure Tiny Migrants are from outer space, and whilst still ambiguous, 'Fishpond Goldmine' is the proof. Embracing their inner Ed Wood Jr, the sassy, sexy, sleazy and all other adjectives beginning with S quintet really rock it, although this is only scraping the surface of what these guys are capable of. I am pretty sure Julien can shoot laser beams out his eyes, when he can keep em open that is... Tiny Migrants' EP is imminent, so get excited!

The largest, most ramshackle garage monster ever created, Velociraptor eat stage space and preconceptions for breakfast. And with 'Cynthia', they have crafted one of the best videos of the year. There's pieces of Hey Dad! in there (Simon Ridley is a brilliant Nudge if there was to be a Hollywood remake - and there should be, minus the paedophilic dad), Benny Hill, YTT and Brisbane suburbia. It's bloody funny too. Well done guys!

And finally we have The Fighting League, who apparently killed when they visited Brisbane earlier this month (and as an aside, I couldn't make the show, but it was my birthday and Tiny Migrants sung Happy Birthday in my absence - so they say, anyway...). Their LP Tropical Paradise is an underappreciated gem, and this video is a perfect lark with slightly more strenuous workout techniques to accentuate the laconic fun of 'Calypso'. Even if they ARE from Canberra...(please don't hurt me).


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Almost Musique To Mine Ears Times Three

Paris-based label Almost Musique have set up a 7" series that features new and unreleased material from new, promsing bands from all around the world. The most notable of these acts to appear in the series so far (to SM acolytes, at loeast) is Vancouver's Shimmering Stars, their throwback doo wop guitar pop never sounding better on this, their Ghosts Past EP. Furthermore, the band have a cover of the excellent 'Hold On, Magnolia' and are donating 10% of the proceeds to Jason Molina to help out with his financial and medical maladies, all the more reason to buy it. The other two acts to appear thus far are also exciting prospects. Hhappiness (that is not a typo...) hails from Sweden, and their brand of woozy slacker pop is perfectly implemented on double A-sides 'Bananas' and 'All Kinds Of Trouble'. Then we have France's own Arlt, and this baroque act really spin the wheel on 'Le Pistolet', playing around with conventions and holding their tongues firmly in their cheeks, although B-side 'Chien Mort, Mi Amor' is a superior track in my humble opinion. These are great pieces of wax, and with more in the pipeline (including the next one from a Manchester band called Money), it's an electric project from a devoted label. Check it out.

Shimmering Stars - When I See You Again

Hhappiness - Bananas
Hhappiness - All Kinds Of Trouble

Arlt - Le Pistolet

Gaz Should Blur The Lines More

Today you are getting hit with some 90s Brit stalwarts standing up and putting their back into it - with differing results...

I love Supergrass. LOVE them. Great live band too. I was lucky enough to see their covers band The Hot Rats also, and it too rocked the casbah. Now lead man Gaz Coombes is heading out on his own with Gaz Coombes Presents… Here Come The Bombs on May 21st on his own label Hot Fruit Recordings. The first single is 'Subdivider','s pretty underwhelming. I mean, it ain't bad, but it ain't great. It does grow on you after a while though. Maybe the mixing leaves a little to be desired? That said, this is not the single, just a taste of what to expect. My verdict? Aim higher, Gaz!

Gaz Coombes - Subdivider

Next is a couple tracks from Blur guitarist Graham Coxon's newie, A+E. Now Coxon is a veteran at the solo game, so we can expect that not only will he have a handle of the game, but he will be stretching those boundaries like he normally does. After a couple of listens to 'The Truth' and 'What'll It Take', the new LP sounds very promising indeed. Embrace the electric boogaloo, Gazza! It has all the classic Coxon hallmarks, and is a lot of murky fun. I likee.

Finally, and most importantly, you can't get more like Blur than Blur itself, can you? So here is the news that Blur have unearthed a new track. Called 'Under The Westway', performed at a War Child charity by Coxon and Damon Albarn, playing the piano and offering what is essentially a Blur ballad. The recording has flubbed notes, poor attempts at whistling and some girls losing their shit, but the main thing to get from it all is that BLUR ARE WRITING AGAIN. And to me, that is fucking amazeballs. Taking the hint yet, Gaz?

Monday, 20 February 2012

Hits From The Box #45 - The Heat Is Finally On

It's been a curly, surly old summer here in Australia. Nowhere near as devastating as last year, true, but rather wet and uninviting nonetheless. That said, there arent many places in the world where you can have one of the wettest seasons of the year, and still walk around in shorts, get a tan and drink a beer without getting hypothermia. So, let's keep the glass at half full. This last weekend has seen a late charge for summer though, and whilst I spent my Sunday cleaning the bathtub and marking assignments based on A Streetcar Named Desire, by the time I sat down with beer in hand I felt I had deserved it almost as much as after a day mowing the lawn. And that, my friends, is what summer is about.

Well, that and music. So here is this week's Hits From The Box!

Keeping it in the family (so to speak), today we kick off with a Brisbane act, Texas Tea. Now, this alt-country mainstay came about some seven years ago and have determinedly going about becoming one Australia's most consistently great country duos. Yet recently Kate Jacobsen (once referred to as "Brisban'es answer to Gillian Welch") and Ben Dougherty have found that beefing out the sound with a backing band is more to their liking, and brand new single 'I Don't Write No Sad Songs' is a result of this. It's the first single from the long-awaited third album (after 2006's Take A Sip and 2008's The Junkship Recordings). The single is on pre-order right now on 7" vinyl flexi disc - nice! The special editiion has hand sewn and hand numbered covers out of 100. There's also a limited release of 25 that include the rad covers + a tea towel. Grab them here.

Texas Tea - I Don't Write No Sad Songs

Dead Jerichos released this EP Please Yourself back in December, but gave it a spin the other day. The influence of early Foals is evident on this Oxford trio, and whilst that's a little contrived, there is enough musical dexterity and experimentation to believe that this may just be the first of many launchpads. Recorded by Rory Attwell (what ISN'T these days?), Please Yourself is a little green, but the promise of a hedonistic live performance is inherent in these tracks.

Dead Jerichos - Please Yourself

You might remember waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 2010 that I loved a track called Ghostriding by a band called Mellows (if you have a bad memory, head back - it's a good tune). Well, I believe that Mellows are no more, but two members have split off to become Dreampeter. The melodies and riffs off track 'Mason Jar' come thick, fast and easy, albeit in a woozy, lo-fi slowburner way, a la the more demo-ish Deerhunter numbers... On paper that doesn't make sense. Just listen to the track and you will wholly understand though. This is a band I cannot wait to hear more about.

Dreampeter - Mason Jar

Now for something a little different... Peopling is a Brooklyn-based noise act that scratches the weird itch. This self-titled EP deliberately eschews normal pop structure and convention, yet has an indelible ear for a hook. Therefore you have six songs that straddle the lines between noisy pop jams, white noise collages, and screaming noise meltdowns. Often in a sixty second period. Not overly refined (yet), but there is some stellar work to be found here.

Peopling - Come Home Eccentric

Scout is the second act in this HFTB that isn't overly new, having been on the scene for years and toured with the likes of Sunny Day Real Estate. Headliner Ashen Keilyn is, with a new backing band (including the one and only Jason Molina), preparing to drop Scout's new album All Those Relays, their first album since 2003. But that isn't what's got em here. It is actually last year's EP, Pi. Featuring two album cuts, a GBV cover and a B-side, it is pretty eclectic and interesting. Not usually my sort of thing, but when the glove fits...

Scout - Please Excuse Me

New Jersey-based trio Strangers Pass provide today's full stop. This will probably surprise you, another act that isn't normally the kind of thing that I like, but I guess I've been in a early to mid 1990s grunge slash Pearl Jam-mellow-out-become-mainstream kinda vibe, and this release caters perfectly for that. I may like this tomorrow, I may not. Right now though, it's helping me get the flannelette out in this 35 degree heat...

Strangers Pass - Reach Out


Dustin Wong's Album Of Verbs

Ponytail may be on hiatus, but the musical magpies are anything if not prolific. Guitarist Dustin Wong has been putting out a plethora of wild and wonderful releases, and is now priming a new album - Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads - coming out on Thrill Jockey tomorrow. Unsurprisingly, it takes listeners on another trip through the intricately colourful wonderland that he creates with only his guitar and a bank of effects pedals. I've only listened to the album once all the way through (this morning whilst driving to work with hot coffee in between my legs), and whilst it cements Wong's overall fingerprints in the Ponytail aesthetic, it also highlights the Baltimore artist's penchant for pushing the envelope into technicolour realms, something that other artists from the region (eg Dan Deacon, Future Islands) have undertaken for the past decade now. I think this will help to cement Wong's capabilities firmly in a positive, rather than a throwaway, light.

Furthermore, Wong has set up something interesting that YOU can be a part of! Fans and friends can tell him about a dream that was significant or surreal, recurring or unusual, by recording a description of the dream to his Soundcloud page (or describing it in a written message sent to his page). He will then create an original piece of music inspired by each of these dreams. specifically incorporating their description, and post a selection of these recordings to his Soundcloud page during the week of the release of Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads, beginning on Monday, February 20 (TODAY). He says about the project, "I thought it would be a really neat idea to be able to contribute some of my music to people's dreams, not only would it be a good challenge but it would also be a very loose non-verbal way of interpreting a dream. By reflecting the mood of what the dream is it could bring something out of the dream that the dreamer never noticed, like a glaze that brings out the colors of a painting." Head here to check it all out.

Dustin Wong - Pink Diamond
Dustin Wong - Ice Sheets On Feet Prints

Dustin Wong - Pink Diamond from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

Veronica Falls Beats 4 U

Sonic Masala is a big fan of London trio Veronica Falls. Their self-titled debut last year was mightily impressive, mentioned in our best of lists for 2011. So obviously we are fervently excited to hear that new material is following suit. Now here is a new track, 'My Heart Beats'. Recorded by London wunderkind Rory Attwell (Warm Brains), only last week, and you will notice how the sound palette is ever expanding. There is a flicker of Raveonettes in how the big sound seems at odds to the DIY aesthetics of the band's sound, but it invariably works. They are still dark though, and that's why we love em.

Currently completing a US tour with another up-and-comer, Bleached, Veronica Falls returns to the UK and greater Europe in March for a string of shows.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Friday Cover Up - Nihiti & Nadler = Ghostly Lovers

Another week down. 2012 is starting to light up. Valentine's Day has come and gone. That doesn't mean we cannot love each other on every other day Hallmark refuses to write cards for though, right? So let Nihiti whisk us off into the sunset, rose clenched firmly between our teeth, as his unlikely rendition of songstress Marissa Nadler's 'Ghosts & Lovers' serenades our aching hearts (or loins...)

Drowners Never Go Away

Take a moment to meet Drowner, fittingly from Space City USA - Houston, Texas. Their press ticks off influences that colour each corner of the shimmering guitar rock spectrum - Ringo Deathstarr, My Bloody Valentine, Mogwai, Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, The Cure... And whilst the shoegaze elements are inherent in their self-titled debut LP (out March 13 on Saint Marie Records, a niche label that specialises in this sound and have also added SM faves Bloody Knives to their roster), making such connections is a little too safe. Case in point is second track 'Never Go Away', at just under eight minutes a creeping track that is Siren-esque in its gossamer, eerie calls. The washes of guitar are actually delicate, meticulously balanced, even in the stronger rock numbers such as 'Point Dume' or 'Written'. After bringing Fonda's comeback to our attention last year, Crash Avenue are responsible for pushing this release, and with good reason. This reminds me of when I heard Whirr (the band formerly known as Whirl) for the first time. Seeing as their Distressor EP is one of my favourite releases of its kind in the past few years, that is saying something. Get on board.

Drowner - Never Go Away
Drowner - Point Dume

Dreaming Of Yvette And The Fatherland

Nick Sylvester is a man that can't be tied down. Writing books, reviews, running labels (God Mode Records), gigging, living the dream. He is Mr Dream. Well, at least a part of the three piece who are throwing their scattershot grunge shtick into the fan and showering us in their glorious shit. Their Trash Hit LP of last year (which was pretty damn awesome and snuck into our highly commended albums of last year), and the follow up, the EP Fatherland, is even better. Riding high, they will be supporting Cloud Nothings before finishing with a stint on the SXSW circuit/gravy train/media scrumfuck.

Fatherland comes out on God Mode Feb 28. (NB - we have two tracks from the EP below, but they aren't the best. That's how good it is. Title track is fucking killer).

Mr Dream - What A Mess
Mr Dream - The Room

But as if that would be enough for this fucker. No, Sylvester is putting out a healthy slab of noise on a 7" for Yvette, the noise rock duo Noah Kardos-Fein and Rick Daniel. The Erosion 7" reminds me a little of HEALTH - all solid gold.

Yvette - Cold Sweat

Dripping Colours Provide The Haze

All the way back in January 2010, just before Sonic Masala threw down its first entry into the blue yonder, I went to a show in London at The Lexington. The headliner - Real Estate. As many people may know by now, I found that set so fucking boring that I refused to watch it all, walked downstairs to drink whisky on my own. Support #1 - Yuck. Before the self-titled album and shedloads of acclaim. Again, I thought they were boring. Support #2 - Colours. Now THESE guys push my buttons in the right way. They nailed the 90s slacker/80s Pixies amalgam that night, something that Yuck would warm to in later months and Real Estate - well, they are Real Estate, they do what they do, perfect for a mid afternoon snooze.

Since then they have put a track out through Art Is Hard Records, but I kinda lost touch with what they were up to. Then a little while ago they founded Marshall Teller Records and put out a four way split that included Gross Magic and Echo Lake that was pretty sweet (sorry that i didn't post about that guys!! It was worthy though). They have also had a hand in bring to our ears the fairly great Total Slacker (who we do really like, and their 'Psychic Mesa' track made out hot singles of last year), Warm Brains, Weird Dreams and Dignan Porch.

Recorded by Warm Brains' Rory Attwell, Colours have a new 7" out. Its fucking sweet! Even sweeter is the launch at the Shacklewell Arms on March 2nd alongside SM faves Sex Beet as well as Dignan Porch and Yrrs.

Pre-order the Drip Haze 7" here.

Colours - Drip Haze