Friday, 29 November 2013

Pontiak Were Never Innocent

Pontiak is one of my favourite bands of the last five years. They are bringing out a new album on Thrill Jockey, one of my favourite labels of all time. This is a track off it. I listen to this when I wake up, and just before hitting the hay at night. I'm hugely looking forward to this release, as should you. That is all.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Video Vacuum - Angel Olsen, Tropical Strength, Gentlemen, The Entrance Band

Final week of work for the year; Australia wins the first Ashes Test - it's a pretty good place to be for me right now. I still have a mountain of work to get through though, and hence the procrastination. So - let's have at the vids!

Angel Olsen is a beguiling chanteuse. Firstly due to her musical endeavours up til now have involved skeletal, atmospheric, cavernous folk, all shadows, smoke and mirrors. Secondly because the first cut from her upcoming album is the complete opposite of that. 'Forgiven/Forgotten' is two minutes of chugging rock, Olsen's vocals strong and bold, the video a frenetic edit of car window views. It's not a total backflip - the 'Sweet Dreams' single from earlier this year was a haunting number with a more prevalent guitar, but Olsen is more operatic there - it feels particular and staged. It's light years away. It's bizarre, because I love Olsen's old stuff (especially her album on Bathetic Records, Half Way Home) - and yet I love this track. Guess I just love Angel Olsen. The new album Burn Your Fire For No Witness will be out early next year on Jagjaguwar and Dead Oceans - can't wait.

Here's some Aussie dudes making a lysergic number with birds chirping in the background, a mega-slowed down video of a guy falling into a wake pool by the sea and ink dispelling into water. It reminds me a bit of Snowman at their lightest at the beginning, then becomes spun out wasteland of nude swimming and barbecues. Tropical Strength is their name (you know, after the insect repellent?) and 'Wake In Fright' is the song's name (you know, like the gritty outback existential nightmare novel written by Kenneth Cook, or the film directed by a young Bruce Beresford?). It's all weird - and fucking amazing. I really need to see this band, stat.

London band Gentlemen aren't usually my kind of band. 'Late Nacht' is an OK song too, don't get me wrong. But it's this film clip that gets me listening to the song over and over. The screaming and feverish drumming? Then the slip into a hypercoloured set of landscapes? It's pretty genius in my opinion. Bashing skin as catharsis. True that.

Spider from Paz Lenchantin on Vimeo.

Now I'm probably being blasphemous here, but I knew very little about Los Angeles' The Entrance Band before I saw this clip for 'Spider' - and I still know very little. All I know is that this song is a pretty good slice spaced-out and decadent garage pop, and the film clip - all arthouse surrealist noir, arachnid nightmares, Bunuel masturbation - is even better. I'm keen to check out their new album Face The Sun, if that's any consolation.


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Finding Unity On Exotic Floors

About this time last year I tried to get Sydney two-piece Unity Floors to play a show up here in Brisbane. I thought their Women's Golf 7" was killer, and managed to see them play at FBi Social April that year. Anyway, they said no - something to do with international holidays and such. Now, a year later, they are coming up here under their own impetus (well, I'm sure Popfrenzy helps) armed with debut LP Exotic Goldfish Blues - and wouldn't you know it, I'll be on holidays! Karma - biting me twice?

At least I have this album to keep me warm on those brutally cold December nights over in Europe. Exotic Goldfish Blues is eleven electric tracks of two best mates getting loose - the only way a duo should really sound. It isn't all breakneck noisy ruckus (although with 'Holy Hell' the boys have rivalled early Japandroids for simplistic, holistic abandon, albeit a couple decibels under earsplitting) - opener and single 'Nice Fit' is a sunny ode to one-night-stand love; 'Day Release' chugs along, drawing you into the sketched-out story; the wonky maelstrom that is closer 'Crash Cars'. What is evident is the tone and melody in each of the tracks - you can't help but smile your face off when these songs come around. And around. And around. Because this isn't an album that allows you to get up and walk away - it's too lovable for that. Exotic Goldfish Blues is best mate material.

So - reckon you might come up 2014 when I am around? Yeah?

You can pre-order Exotic Goldfish Blues here. They are playing an Off The Rails show at the Grand Central Hotel Thursday December 5 with Screaming Match and Scrabble in support.

Scratchin' Round - So Stressed, Nonagon, Violent Past

This guy tells me today that he did a management course last year. Is it wrong to think immediately worse of someone who admits to such a thing? Nope. He goes, 'Yeah, they told us that if employees are getting their backs up about things, you just form a committee and let them bluster. After that, it's too late for them to do anything." Seriously. Some chump stands up in front of a whole bunch of other chumps and straight-face tells them how to make chumps out of everyone else. I cringe whenever I hear people ask for feedback.

So Stressed have not been to management school. And from what I hear, if anyone tried to junk them into a committee, the noise would be so resounding that the bosses would have to up and leave the building. I'm beginning to think that this might be the only way to break through; to make the noise you want to make, for as loud and long as possible; to give them THIS as feedback when they ask for it.

I 'strongly agree' with all of Attracted to Open Mouths but if you're too busy collating data for your focus group presentation, you still need to make time to give 'Hairstyles' a go.

And damn, if I ever get up the guts to give it back to 'em, I'm gonna play Nonagon. Out on their own label, Controlled Burn, the name sums up the sound perfectly - this is organised stuff. Organised stuff capable of doing some real damage. Controlled, yeah, but in the back of your head you just know that while it's meant to be under wraps, next minute could very well be licking the building upside down, turning all that carbon they thought was theirs into atmosphere forever. That'll get 'em up the corporate ladder quicker.    

'The Last Hydronaut' is drilling, relentless and passionate in a way that a lot of music out our way - the lazily complacent, climate change denying, land down under the average line of intelligence - isn't. See, 'cos if you think about things for a bit, and you don't just want to roll over and take it, this is the kind of music you'd make, I reckon.

But wait, maybe I'm getting a bit carried away. Burning the place down isn't the only way to resist getting caught up in the tidal wave of ignorance threatening to wash us all into frothy oblivion - and plus, it'll just add to the whole (very fucking real) emissions problem. Maybe getting your mates together to spread the news rather than the gasoline is a better idea? There's no easy answers. But you do have to make people realise that they don't give a shit before they will.

Violent Past are infected by the malaise, but there's some self-awareness here on Demons, something that looks to the future and gets a little ready. 'Yeah, I'm wearing a white business shirt,' it says, 'but I'm hungover and I ain't cleaning that stain off today, and who knows what'll happen tomorrow? You really want me to join your working party?'

So whether you spit or march or yell or whatever, just don't let some chump pin you down - or at least make the clammy fucker have to put down his briefcase to do it.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Joey Fourr Beats Reality

It can be hard to keep up with English skewed punk leprechaun Joey Fourr (I don't know how big he is, I'm pretty much writing what pops into my head for this one). He has an EP out now called Luv Is In The Mornin, which is pretty awesome wonky pop (the title track is pretty awesome to be fair, an 80s weird pop wigout), but I've been digging the split he's done with London grunged out crawlers H.Grimace a couple months ago, Nothing Beats Reality on Bad Paintings (this wont be the last split release I talk about this week).  Its all pretty straight up indie rock fare, albeit a little heavier on the guitar crunch, but just as liberal with the garish sugar rush. The charm is that he doesn't really feel awkward about being so overtly cartoonish, and that's where the genius lies. You can't deny that - a guy that isn't earnest, but isn't taking the piss either. Lots of words shortened and spelt with z's will do that to you. It's frenetic, its reckless, it's fun. What the doctor ordered.

You can buy Nothing Beats Reality here.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Everybody's Droning On The Weekend #3

As you huddle in the confines of your den, either being battered by freak storms, baking under pedestal fans and intermittent showers, or freezing your bollocks off, you probably wish you were somewhere else. These next ten acts will take you there - but "there" is objective, and you may be kicking and screaming...

First up is Shortwave Broadcaster. A US native now residing in Copenhagen, Denmark, Shortwave Broadcaster brought out Everything You Do Is Deja Vu through Saint Marie Records the other month. An exercise in reverb-heavy guitar minimalism, a soothing loop (ahhhh, I see what's been done there!) whirlpool of glacial majesty and grace. I was swept away when I first heard this, and now it's my go to record for when I have a headache, or am tired, and want to float away to a place far from here. When I do this, I'm rewarded with rejuvenation and a virile imagination, waking up refreshed and with vivid memories of my dreams. It's pretty incredible - I suggest you grab a copy and see for yourself.

I loved the two tracks New York-based sound artist Ajnabi did based on his time in the West Bank - I wrote about it here - and now he has a self-titled album out. It's darker stuff, more errant and experimental, and the fact that each song is given a specific date had me searching the internet for events that took place on those dates that I could connect with. Because that is what Ajnabi is all about - deep, core emotional connection, the draining kind, the cathartic kind. Boris Pugo, the USSR Minister of the Interior committed suicide on August 22 1991 - and its sonic counterpart does sound apocalyptic, the moment when you realise everything you ever fought for, no matter how awful and ill-conceived it may have been, has been all for naught; everything has caught up with you; your soul is officially bankrupt. Standing on the building's, I AM Boris Pugo. Ajnabi is that powerful. Amazing.

Let's head to Oakland now, and to self-proclaimed "psych-beat minstrel of the Left Coast" Daring Ear. His latest release Afterflash came out on Magnetic South earlier this year - you can still get copies of it here - it toys with Eastern drone mantras, kosmiche cycles, opaque paisley undulations, noise meltdowns, some warbled r'n'b, even a lick of northern soul. It's a warped little number, and well worth a listen.

Scottish wanderer Matthew Collings has impressed me a lot this year, and he has presented me with another track that is a marching kettle tin of otherworldly mystery. 'They Meet On The Subway' plays quite like a Sigur Ros symphony actually - and there is never anything wrong with that - until it ends in splintered noise, ala Sigur Ros' darker moments - again, happy days. Its a studied progression in emotion through burbling manipulation, the quiet/loud dynamic exactly that - dynamic. Collings just did a live soundtrack to a screening of Berberian Sound Studio, and his constant explorations of sound can only mean greater things are in store.

Its been a while since I'd heard new tunes from my Macedonian friend FYDHWS. His latest unsettler - 9. Eschewing the more psychy jams and Branca squalls, what we have here is the undulating wails of despair, an industrial viral scream of muted metallics and ever-shifting shadows. All I can think of whilst listening to this is that this should score the most fucked-up psychological horror movie we are yet to lay eyes on. Something like very early Dario Argento but crossed with a baser, more unhinged Nicolas Roeg - baroque body horror Giallo, anyone? This is European music, thinking of post-Soviet urbanscapes left behind, concrete ghost towns of macabre architecture, perennial grey skies and a distant church bell tolls... Creepy, and amazing. A must - get it here.

Chicagoe ambient/drone artist Cinchel has been doing his thing for over a decade now, trying to recreate the sounds in his head. That sounds kinda daunting and borderline scary - not when these voices are the arbiters of soundscapes far, far away (although he does have a song called 'I Think I'm Hearing Voices', so...hedge your bets), no harm can be done to you, now come sit and listen. He sent me two of his releases, Stereo Stasis and Sometimes You See Yourself (Through the Cosmos). The recordings are vastly different in some ways - Sometimes... revolves around the glass harp/wine glass cyclical sonics with guitars looped in, whilst Stereo Stasis is more standard guitar/loops/laptop deal - but these extrapolations of experiments in space and time converge into a likeminded aesthetic - that of entrapment in the nether glow between waking and sleeping. Not a bad place to be...

Hailing from Providence, the same burgh that spawned one of Sonic Masala's all time favourite bands Lightning Bolt, drone-ite Matthew Kattman AKA The Rainbow Body has released a lovely spiralling squall in the form of Magnetic Highway. Kattman is crafting some celestial sprawl here, his electric guitar expanding out in all directions to create a sonorous noise that feels both invasive and effusive at the same time - immersion through the pores, through osmosis. It's hypnotic light shining forth, rising and falling like synthetic breaths - its majesty incarnate. With earplugs.

Coming off the excellent Wood & Wire assembly line is Domestic Cinema, the new release from Melbourne drummer-cum-sonic jigsaw artist David Evans. The subtle tinkerings and intricacies inherent across the breadth of this album belies Evans' predilection for the vernacular of the mundane; but rather than stand idly by whilst the minutiae of life drives him into an early grave, he has harnessed the manmade sounds that echo as a metronomic constant in the back of the mind's eye and brings it to the forefront. Therefore the coalescing unease that a song like 'Telco House' brings about is the inverse of malaise - it's rife with nervous energy. Mouse clicks, whirring machines, brooms, typewriters, whipper snippers - everything is ripe for creating impending doom. The sheer tenacity of Evans to work these "found sounds" into his incestuous beats and explorations is commendable - the fact that Domestic Cinema is so captivating is a minor triumph. You can get the album here.

New Zealand dreamer Sleeper brought out his debut record From Beyond on A Guide To Saints, Room40's cassette label, earlier this year. Apart from sharing the same name as the pretty good (in a batshit crazy, Jeffery Combs kinda way) Stuart Gordon sexual horror movie from the 80s, these meanderings are ripe for dissection as they coalesce over you - the sounds of sinewaves when in a cryogenic coma. It'd be frightening if it wasn't so beautiful. Incredible stuff - you can grab From Beyond here.

Let's close out with the ethereal bedroom schematics of Melbourne's The Galaxy Folk. The dude, Angus Bell, insists that this is all electronic, not live instrumentation of any kind. Jesus. Don't tell the next generation that - the guitar shops will go out of business. His Honeygarden EP is one of spectral elegance, and whilst it doesn't fit with most of the previous molds of sonic deviations, it suits the fade out mood that dusk brings, and that is where I'm at right now - and because he has a song called Down Under, it's awesome, and Australia just won the 1st Ashes Test. You can buy Honeygarden on 10" lathe-cut vinyl (only 50 made) here.

Friday, 22 November 2013

TONIGHT - Sonic Masala & Spunk Records Presents The Ocean Party Album Launch

We here at Sonic Masala have always been big fans of the somewhat innocent navel gazings of Melbourne suburbians The Ocean Party. Their second LP Social Clubs from last year was one of clarity, brevity, and early-middle-twentysomething malaise - not so rail against the world as it was rolling with the genial punches. The band members are best mates, great blokes, and have an even better record in the form of Split. They played in Brisbane recently for the Spunk Records showcase, but tonight is the official launch party for the album - and Sonic Masala is along for the ride. It's cracking off at the Beetle Bar tonight at 8pm - come early to see local upstarts Dag, Thigh Master and Blonde Tongues, as well as Sydneysider Nathan Roche (he of now defunct Camperdown & Out infamy), all for a tenner. See you there - I'll be the guy propping up the merch bar.

DAG - 15.07.2013 from Joshua Watson on Vimeo.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Eat Scott's Shorts

Man, sorry about the lame headline's too hot to think. Not too hot to listen to slacked out guitar pop though. Im Australian - it's a given nowadays...

Ah, yes, Shorts. The NYC band have a "distinctly" Australian sound, and there's a pretty good reason for that. Michael Caterer used to live in Melbourne, played in Full Ugly, and is in the New York edition of Craig Dermody's Scott & Charlene's Wedding. The two tracks on offer below are more full-bodied though - 'Berlin 1971' is more like 60s pastoral psych pop transplanted in Central Park with tattoos and the faux blues; 'Silver Circles' is just downright sexy, in an autumnal dappled sunlight kinda way. And look at that scrawl of the bare-breasted lady with cocks on her arms. Its a world of juxtaposition, that's for sure. they have releases in the wind - stay tuned, this'll be worth waiting for...

Painting Up Gizmos For Gulcher

Two records that I received belatedly over the past month have come from the stable of Gulcher Records (Kurt Vile, Home Blitz, Screamin Mee-Mees).

The first is a veritable veteran for label - 70s Indiana miscreants The Gizmos. The Gizmos Go To Purdue 1979 is pretty self-explanatory, and is the only way to really experience the garage punk pariahs - yet there are plenty of live recordings of this band, why am I so in love with this cut? Because it's recorded from a performance at a house party - the insanity is already buzzing through my subconscious - but is also one of the best sounding efforts due to it being a 4-track machine as opposed to being converted from a tape deck. They had just opened for the Ramones! Plus they open up with 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing' - who isn't going to get some festive cheer before downing their own weight in frothy beer? The entire performance is uncut, so we hear the PA fuck up, songs played out of tunes, new tracks aired that only a few gigs later were cut from the set list, never to be thought of again - these are the best parts of my favourite bootlegs - it's the full visceral experience short of actually being there. And sure, it would have slayed, but I missed it, so why bother? Because I wasn't even born yet, you donkey. So this is the best I can get - and it fuels parties of my own, so the cycle continues...

Then we have David Drucker. Don't know him? That's cool - he won't mind. He would rather you knew him as Painted Faces anyway. The guy has emulated the bedroom pastiche recording philosophies of the most peripheral of artists, molding it into his own style, and it makes for amusing, eclectic, infectious listening. Alone In My Head collects recordings across the last five years, and the influences Drucker lists speak for themselves - experimental composers and improvisers, second-rate pop stars, freaky outsiders, B horror movies and other films, art both "high" and "low," mind-altering substances, psychedelia, sound, boredom, isolation, junk food, conversations, environments, dreams, revolutions, time travel, low-level philosophy, memories, insanity, humour, science fiction, nature, surrealism, literature, observations, things, people in general, and smoking lots of pot. Above all else, though, Painted Faces is a wonky pop behemoth that will dig its hooks in relentlessly, even if you can't work out why.

You can buy these releases here and here.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Corralled Together On This Pale Earth

(Photo by Ian Rogers - taken @ Sonic Masala Presents Campfire Tales #3 - Sept 12 2013)

Celestial beat explorer Pale Earth is bringing Christmas early with a burbling miasma of sounds in the plastic 3D rectangle that is a cassette. Coral Corral is its name, and its three tracks that showcase how far out of the comfort zone he is  nowadays; in fact, the glass ceiling has been well and truly shattered. 'Skip Peg Marker' is a three minute excursion into the nether regions of a neon-streaked night, all inky shadows and silhouettes, simultaneously sensually inebriated and sated - these lethargic grooves hitting a submerged dancefloor near you. 'Coral Skulls' starts briefly like a night ride into the mainframe, before the trumpet takes us deep into the downward spiral of Mooged chagrin. The B-side track 'Bare Mountain Picnic' offers a prismatic high, sun motes floating through refracted light, yet imbued with a fluidity that hits like languid waves of weightlessness - floating on a hypnagogic Dead Sea.

I'm babbling, I know, but I'm truly floored by these tracks - I cant stop listening. Bypass that cassette prejudice and buy Coral Corral here - its incredible. The inserts are handprinted by 7th Disaster (AKA Matt Deasy of Do The Robot/Ultra Material - he does quite a few of Sonic Masala's gig posters), so it's all quality. Pale Earth is playing a night of chilled greatness this Saturday at The Waiting Room called Melody Beat, alongside Andrew Tuttle, Cedie Jansen, White Palms and Hether.

Stealing The Black Mekon

General all-round good guy Luke over at London/Stockholm label PNKSLM Records (Al Lover, Charles Howl) has another killer release on his hands, this time the new LP from Birmingham's doyens of debauched debonairness Black Mekon. The third PNKSLM release in existence, Stolen Bible 2 is a chugging sleazeball of garage blues. Drinking liberally from the poisoned chalice of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, snorting the chronic crassness of Supersuckers, biting the hand of the Misfits that feeds them, Stolen Bible 2 is riddled with that much debasement and wanton gleeful destruction that your ears will need to be immediately quarantined. That said, what's been heard cannot be unheard - you're caught in Black Mekon's clutches forevermore. Ah well - total corruption does look like a hell of a lot of fun...

You can buy Stolen Bible 2 now (here for the last two copies of the ltd edition marble vinyl, and here for the standrad (misspelling intended) black).

And try this out for size - a Halloween track with theremin! These guys are great.

Southpaw Women Look At The Mirror

This isn't so new now - most Australian websites mentioned this about a month ago - but Sydney band Mere Women (whose Old Life album of last year was an underrated gem) have a little release coming out soon on American label Southpaw Records (who've put out gear from the likes of Ty Segall, Warm Soda and Bare Wires - excellent garage rock, in other words). Not the kind of avenue I would expect to pick up the band at the best of times; furthermore, the track they are airing from it, 'Hands & Face', was NOT what I expected. That faint, sinuous synth for starters is something you expect to hear emanating out of a Not Not Fun cassette. This is all lysergic menace, with spectral guitar moaning in the background, Amy Wilson's vocals elegiac yet defiant. It's a cavernous slowburner - and I never expected to use either of those superlatives to describe Mere Women, but there you go. And you know what? I goddamn love it. What this means for the weird, cantankerous trio for the future remains to be seen, but if they can balance this kind of track with more virile fare, then 2014 should be a huge one.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

VIDEO VACUUM - September Girls, DZ Deathrays, Surf Friends, Super Wild Horses

No mucking about today - I mean business (as you can tell from the buffaloes, who clearly mean business, and the stolen artwork that I don't give a shit about), so let's forget about everything and lose ourselves in these videos...

Dublin lovelies September Girls have a decidedly dark, dour, Gothic video in store for new single 'Heatbeats', with the bizarre colour coming from the flower tealights floating in the bathtub with one of them (?). It all feels a little Pandora's Box mixed with Psycho and a pinch of Eraserhead around the 1.10 mark, before they venture into the wilderness (A Field In England), and finishes with the gang at night standing in front of a car... I don't know what to think! Am I supposed to be happy? Put off? Perturbed? It's all good though. 'Heartbeats' comes from the forthcoming album they're unearthing on Fortuna Pop! Big things ahead, it seems...

Local party starters/heartstoppers DZ Deathrays have this glitchy little video to go with their decidedly glossier (and slower) newie 'Northern Lights'. The polygon scramble is pretty ace, as is the warped landscape screens. Its a fun little experiment at any case, and makes me want to get drunk at Alhambra to this - now THAT'S not something I say everyday...

Ever jumped into the water with all your clothes on? Surf Friends have. Here under the duress of incessant bullying and in the face of thankless work. I mentioned that idea of drowning under the wait of disappointment in the last post about Astro Children - here it is literally encapsulated for all to see. Surf Friends' new track 'The Sea' off upcoming Flying Nun-affiliated album Endorphins is pretty great, it has a bit of flange on the guitar, and because it's so hot today I would rather be deep in the sea rather than plying my wares on the shitty day job. Speaking of, it's almost knock off time, so I'm gonna hustle to this last song...

There isn't all that much to say about Melbourne duo Super Wild Horses' video for the latest single to come off sophomore LP Crosswords. 'Ono In A Space Bubble' is a killer chugging garage rager, all to the beat of Yoko's ridiculous bugout beats. Love the yelps too. A little creepy, a little silly, a whole lot of radness.

Normally I would yell at you to get back to work, but I'm done. It's beer time. See you on the beach.

In The Beginning, There Were Astro Children...

Ive been a little burnt out of late. The "real" world has me running in circles, writing relentlessly on pieces of paper, ticking generic statements in countless matrices, listening to ill-founded diatribes on Australian identity, preparing self-serving diatribes of my own, rinse and repeat. Staring down the barrel of potential unemployment from atop a veritable mountain of looming debt, manuscripts and report cards. Job hunting amongst the heaving masses of the have-nots, trying to prove my worth as being more worthy than you.

Dunedin duo Astro Children's Proteus is the kind of melodic yet atonal, young-kids-screaming, everything's-all-right-when-the-music-is-all-wrong album that I intravenously syphon into my inner core, knowing that happiness can come from the simplest things. There is a schoolyard petulance to these new tracks that not only eschews the band's previous sugar-twee stance on noisy guitar pop, but belies that there are positives to the world being a little hostile. Millie Lovelock's vocals sway from schoolgirl screeching ('Shoe') to floating babble a la Raincoats ('Gaze'), showing the duo's newly formed dexterity, but it's the mid level groovers like 'Jamie Knows' or 'Big Muff (Strikes Again)' that Astro Children beeline to the core of what is enjoyable about deliberately off-kilter, slightly lo-fi, muted, horizontal-slacker pop. I thought I was going to drown today, but Proteus proves that sometimes to get to the end, you need to start at the beginning. Nice work, kids.

You can buy Proteus through Muzai Records now - pick it up here.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Casting Spells Over The River Of Souls

Spirited alchemists Magic Trick are conjuring up another album in the form of River of Souls, due out in December on Empty Cellar Records. Tim Cohen and his cronies appear to be falling further down the rabbit hole of pastoral psych folk pop (insert genre here...), yet Cohen's vocals are stridently front and centre, the laconic instrumentation is meticulously placed - there is a effortless confidence here. Below are the first two tracks given from the album. It's a nice way to see out the weekend. Pre-order River of Souls here.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

David Vangel

Night time smooth grooves from David Vangel. Bnapth is incredible - four songs of intricacies and delicacies cascading down relentlessly, like a shattered chandelier in the middle of an opulent ballroom flickering in the light of a thousand tealights, masked revellers flittering in and out of the flickering shadows that climb the gold-gilded walls. The fusion of genres is effortless, seamless, limitless. Seductive, anthemic, insidious, lurid, languid - it's all these things and more. Vangel has crafted a world of groove in fifteen minutes flat. How knows what he'll achieve in later releases...

Hits From The Box #76 - Graduation Shenanigans

Another year, another Schoolies Week. Yep, the Year 12s have fled the castle that has been their education prison for the large part of their prepubescent lives, and run rampant in the epitome of degradation and sleaze excess - The Gold Coast. I remember when I went to Schoolies - a friend of mine was beaten up for his shoes (he probably deserved it), I got a lift home one night with a Dominos Pizza delivery dude, I had Clayton's sex in an elevator, drank a bottle of Midori because that was a cool thing to do, saw Jebediah and a whole bunch of other crap that is embarrassing to acknowledge. I did play a mean round of mini golf, discovered my love of copious amounts of beer and copped a feel from a girl I always deemed was above my station, so it wasn't all bad. Teenage years, eh? As it will be for the thousands of pulsating bags of hormones that are running around Cavill Ave this week. Eccies, bikies, neon lights and Ripley's Believe It Or Not - Jesus, just drop a bomb on the place, let the 2014 seniors start afresh....

I imagine there will be a bunch of blokes with faux barrel chests in their singlets loving their status as hardcore drinking legends this week. Drunk Tigers. That also happens to be the name of this DC band, whose self titled EP (out on cassette through Funny/Not Funny) is a blast of rollicking power chords and enough Replacements vibes to melt asphalt. Listen to 'Taillights' alone and you will want to throw the flannel shirt on and throw a cup of beer in the air. Music that was made for drunken ranting and spilt drinks. Serendipity abounds - I wrote about Invisible Hand the other day, and now the two bands are on the same bill tonight in New York's Baby's All Right venue. If you're in Brooklyn tonight, head down.

We were at Nathan's place on Sunday, listening to a hell of a lot of music submissions, and we almost overlooked 'Lift Up', the single from Kentucky spaced warblers Street Gnar's new EP Shrine. Last night I was at my mate Jim's place, listening to records and playing about, a fair few beers in, and we had a long discussion on how certain chords or sounds will be replicated ad nauseum, because they are destined to be together, to be played in that order, to sequence together. The chorus here does that for me. The slightly shonky song with its melted beach whimsy takes on a different sheen when that chorus kicks in. Heartfelt yacht rock by heartfelt idiot savants. This song is meant to be - a worldwide hit in a parallel universe. I really dig this. You can buy Shrine (out through Atelier Ciseaux) here. The guys have just come off a mini tour where they've played alongside the likes of Blues Control, US Girls, Alex Calder and Black Dice - expect to hear more of this brilliance in the near future.

Dude York are a trio outta Seattle (via Walla Walla, Washington - I feel it's necessary to say that, just because I come from Australia, the kind of place that has plenty of similar named towns) that are prepping to launch their debut album Dehumanize in January 2014. 'Cannibal' is the first acidic listen from it - a slice of agonised energy and feverish intensity - the brain fizzes before it fails, faculties become redundant, all that is left is the hunger. That bassline around the minute mark is like the Pied Piper, an inherent tug at the heartstrings, drawing your lifeless body to the cliff's edge. Can't wait to hear what else is in store here.

Minneapolis quartet Brilliant Beast are calling Where Do You Want their debut, even though it's their third release since 2010. Maybe because the evolution has finally kicked off in earnest - the quartet have grown into their skin, leaving behind the tentative folk roots and launching forth with a rollicking, distorted aesthetic that seems far more comfortable. 'A Child On Fire' starts off feeling a little shoegaze-lite, but the nature of this beast (pun intended) is far more overt and restless, whilst 'Nepotism Shakes' is a beauty of a slow-burner that echoes through the bones - it's no wonder why the guys at Guilt Ridden Pop have snapped them up.

Africantape are always putting out interesting stuff - one band they have championed for ages has been Swiss rock band Ventura, and current 7" Ananasses is a killer. I feel like I'm listening to a woodchipper mix of Bob Log III, Primus, The Melvins and the Devil. The B-side here is the first song played backwards - and it's fucking amazing. You can buy the Ananasses 7" here.

And let's come back home for the finishing band, The Strange. The Melbourne garage outfit have this double A-side out, Sugar Boy/Cherry Pop, and it's pretty tasty. I feel they are still growing into their aesthetic, but here's as good a place to start as any, right?

Happy Saturday everyone!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Friday Cover Up - Bela Lugosi's Bite Is Bigger Than Your Dog

I wanted to finish off the week with a Blondie cover. I have seen two movies this week that included Debbie Harry - the John Carpenter/Tobe Hooper Creepshow wannabe Body Parts (where she plays this camp sexual alien nurse - very Rocky Horror really...) and in a disappointing art-themed serial killer movie with Willem Dafoe, Anamorph, where she plays a disgruntled neighbour of Defoe's and says two lines in one throwaway scene. It's that kind of peripheral "Six Degrees" nonsense that I always get a kick out of...

But then I heard this. Atlanta's Dog Bite released LA, a four-track EP blaze through Carpark Records a month or so ago, and I was planning on writing about it - but then I heard 'Bela Lugosi's Dead', their cover of the Bauhaus classic, and it stopped me in my tracks. Not because it is particularly innovative or changes the form of the song itself - no, their 'Bela Lugosi's Dead' changes the form of Dog Bite. Rather than mold the song into their aesthetic, the four-piece have allowed themselves to be corrupted, to be fused with the Goth kings' DNA, and the result is a raw, broiling slowburn that is arresting in its darkness. Just so you understand what I mean, here is LA...

And here is the cover track...

I really like what has happened here, and I sincerely hope this bleeds into the band's future releases too. We won't have long to find out either - their sophomore LP Tranquilizers is due out in January 2014.

Have a good weekend people!

Scratching ones Big Itch

The Big Itch is a club night in Dublin Ireland that heralds simple music for simple people. It's a myth however, that any music is simple. To make noise worth listening to (even for a one minute ten seconds) is some kind of accomplishment. This new 7" celebrating the Big Itch miscreants is both simple and worthwhile - especially the #1s on side A. And yeah, let's face it, the #1s will probably never have a number one, but hey, who will? And what does it matter where you land up? If I was listening to this bunch of bands in Dublin and knew they owned a majestic Labrador, I'd be happy.

The whole shebang is out now through Bachelor Records.

And if you're chasing some more #1s, then get on to this from Art for Blind (give them a look). Unfortunately it's already sold out though, so you cannae get on wax for ye'self.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Crying Chips Never Gets Old

I'm in the process of making an 8-bit oriented mega post (any suggestions of great chiptune albums of 2013, throw us a line), and it has all come about because of 'Bodega Run', the third track from NY trio Crying's EP Get Olde. This is saccharine noise pop run rampant, but with the Game Boy twist - and holy shit is it awesome. When that mosquito-like whine kicks off the album, it could be a stab in the ear, but as soon as the guitars and drums kick in, and Elaiza Santos' vocals float effortlessly into the mix (This band is boring me...), and it all makes seven levels of sense. The chiptune effects are more prevalent on other tracks, such as the miasma of blips and squelches that infuse minute-shy intro 'Open' or the RPG-sweet 'Vacation', but nothing can beat the innate joy that bursts forth from 'Bodega Run'. Get Olde is the kind of upbeat lightweight sugar-punk shtick that I don't get into very often, but that Game boy aesthetic here lends everything a new lease on life (especially as it is this element that above everything else feels intuitive; the natural instruments are tight, yet perfunctory in function - it feels harsh seeing as 2/3 of the band are from the great LVL UP, but there you have it).

Seriously though, Get Olde is worth getting just for 'Bodega Run'. Out through Double Double Whammy - give me some of them dank Doritos and jalapeno Cheeto-ooo-ooos...

See You On The Beach Tonight

(poster by Matt Deasy)

Really looking forward to this one. Brave the wet to see something truly special at the Beetle Bar tonight as Melbourne-via-San Franciscan Michael Beach officially launches second LP Golden Theft in Brisbane. It's one of my favourite albums of the year hands down; he is a super rad guy; the supports (Tape/Off, Tiny Migrants, Soda Eaves) are all incrediballs; cheap sangria; $5 schooners (it's Carlton Draught, but there are better beers on offer like Coopers Pale Ale too). All for a tenner, and Soda Eaves kicks off at 8pm. Come!!!!!

Interview - Keep On Dancins

2013 has been an interesting year for Keep On Dancin’s. The four-piece came into the year having released a warmly received debut album The End Of Everything and with an extensive playing schedule under their belt. Supports for the likes of Velociraptor and Dan Kelly were becoming commonplace. But the band deliberately fell off the radar, a belated cassette release Black Lassie the only hint that the band were still in action.

“For a good year now we’ve really reined things in,” drummer Alex Dunlop explains. “Jacinta (Walker) and Tegan (Rickard) wanted to focus on Tiny Migrants, and Yuri (Johnson) had Teen Sensations, and we all just needed a rest from it all. We were playing so often – it never approached the level of burnout, but we overexposed ourselves a bit. Then after that time we got back in the saddle and started playing a couple shows, and it felt right to be moving forward again.”

The main focus for the band is the upcoming release of sophomore record Hunter, and the process has seen them approach the art of music in a more calculated manner.  

“We didn’t realise how many people liked (The End Of Everything) until after we had a break, and it changed the way we looked at things,” Dunlop stresses. “We didn’t really roll it out properly; we just played and played and sold bits at shows. We have tried to be cleverer with it, the whole experience. Before we played more like a lot of bands do, that is to play until we drop without thinking about what we were doing. This time we are weighing up what to do with film clips, we’ve planned the single (Grey Ghost), we’re doing interviews; we are picking and choosing what and when we play… Before we were playing every little dive because we said yes to everything, and it didn’t do anything for us.”

This new approach obviously bled into the writing and recording of Hunter also. “We recorded with Sean Cook, and we took things really slow; we spent a whole week on one song,” Dunlop emphasises. “We may have spent more money, but it also allowed us to take our time with it, adding bits here and there as they presented themselves to us. Because of that it feels really layered; there are drum loops involved, it’s quite metronomic, so it’s obviously very different to what has come before.”

Hunter won’t hit our ears until 2014, but the band are prepping us with the launch of two tracks from it, Grey Ghost and Baby, the second track of which has its own film clip which follows the four-piece as they wander around a day at the Ekka. The video was put together by Dunlop himself, something he admits was a great experience.

“We got a friend to bring his Handicam and follow us around the Ekka, just having some fun, feeding animals, playing games, going on rides and stuff. I got it together and chopped it all up into something. There was no song designed for it though, because there was no lip syncing or anything, so I just picked Baby because it had a dreamy quality to the whole experience. But we had decided that Grey Ghost should be the single a while ago, but wanted to show both off.”

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Life, Death, And Sort Of Life Of The Longdrone Flowers

I have been meaning to write about northern England's warped weirdos The Longdrone Flowers for a few months (this is becoming a lame excuse, I know...). I've been a big fan of their Cesare Runs Away EP since it came out in June, what with its Eastern wooze, its stoned organ, its out-of-tune tunefulness, the weird nether region they straddle whereby you can never quite tell if their psych squalls are shtick or legit - its dark, raucous, and seductive, regardless of whether its tongue is jammed in you cheek or steadfastly ensconced in its own.

Then last month the UK dark wanderers unleashed another EP, She's Stranglehold Too. Doing away with the monikers such as Neurotic Wreck and Dirty Kraut, things are certainly more seriously understandable - 'Quiet' is anything but, a cacophonous no-wave grind that blows away all efforts before it; 'Wildfire & the Non Story' is like the Kinks tuning down and playing at being a lysergic Velvet Underground; 'My Sister, Drusilla' brings it all to a suitable chaotic close, starting off like an atonal guitar pop dirge before exploding/imploding/exploding/imploding, the expulsion of anger and anguish always in constant fermentation, never fully released until the last note dissipates. Brutal, and vital.

Fast forward to the present day, though, and the band are no more, burnt to the ground from fission, friction, and base predilections. But as is often the way with these things, this isnt the end of the story, and the main duo Rick and Dan have formed the somewhat aptly titled The Neropolis Felines. Stay tuned...

Rebirth Of A Dead Meadow

I'm a massive fan of psychedelic rock music of all kinds, but especially the heavier, dirgier kind. I think the genesis of this may have come with discovering Led Zeppelin with my dad (who, whilst not a musical aficionado, did also introduce me to Johnny Cash, Australian Crawl, The Boss and 'Brothers In Arms' era Dire Straits, which I still have a soft spot for). The first album I can recall truly grabbing me in this mould though was The Warlocks' Rise & Fall, which was playing at the old Rockinghorse Records store PA back in 2002 (and a record very close to my heart). I've been a hapless acolyte ever since...

I haven't had the pleasure of bathing in the cavernous dirge of Jason Simon and his Dead Meadow brethren as yet - but again I have a sort of origin story for these guys too. Before wholesale piracy was passe, I remember being stuck out in the middle of nowhere in 2003 (Roma, Queensland to be exact) on my first stationed education position with nothing to do, so I delved into Amazon's then music website, CDNow. I discovered some pretty amazing things that year through that thing (Neutral Milk Hotel, Explosions In The Sky, Mono, ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead), one of them also being Dead Meadow's third LP Shivering Kings & Others. From there it was The Black Angels, Black Mountain - further down the spiral I would go.

As the years have gone by I have drifted somewhat from the "lightening" of Dead Meadow's aesthetic - despite the excellence of Feathers (2005), 2008's Old Growth didn't grab me at all, whilst I only gave 2010's Three Kings a cursory once-over. I have to say though that new album Warble Womb is a true return to form (some people will strenuously argue that the form never dissipated - whatever). Certainly more sonorous and less kosmiche than compatriots Wooden Shjips, Dead Meadow does have the same propensity for creating a cyclical, familiar groove that permeates their records - Warble Womb is no exception. But when you have the lackadaisical, off-kilter wooze of a track like 'Mr Chesty' or a roiling magma purge like 'This Song Is Over', you can't deny the trio's inimitable power. And this might be a bit of cribbing (who doesn't in this genre?), but 'I'm Cured' sounds like the sun-blasted paisley malaise of The Warlocks - full circle.

They aren't mellowing out so much as becoming one with their mystical powers, and Warble Womb may be the moment that I fuse with them. They are still masters of the domain, after all...

Warble Womb is out through their Xemu Records label - I have no idea where to get it. Hassle them I guess? But never fear. Stream the entire record here.