Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Ex Actions

Action Beat and I go waaaaay back. Paul put me onto the band from Bletchley; I saw them play a house show with Bilge Pump and almost got knocked out by a flying glass; I saw them cram the stage at the 2010 Shoreditch 1234 festival and destroy; and my friend Dan almost got in a fight with them at Barden's Boudoir when heckling them. Hell, I was so drunk on stage that night that any idea of a career in music proper was well and truly slayed (Artifacts of Space Travel, anyone?). This multilimbed noise freakfest still play, and currently have for the first time a vocalist. That vocalist? GW Sok from the fucking Ex. What bullshit is this? The best goddamn kind, that's what. My day just got infinitely better. Don't believe me? Look. listen, fucking learn.

The collaboration is also album worthy! A Remarkable Machine can be gleaned from here!!!!!!!

Spend A Full Ugly Afternoon With Me

We have written about Full Ugly in the past. We've liked what we've heard. But there was always something a little hollow for me, like as if the Melbourne outfit were having us on. As if the band were taking the piss, just playing the jangly slacker pop that has become a blessing/curse in this country because they could and nothing more. It's not like I didn't think Full Ugly could be good - they have members from Milk Teddy and Totally Mild taking up space. But they have released their debut LP, Spent The Afternoon, and there is so much going on here that I just did NOT expect to hear. The secret ingredients? Nathan Burgess' laconic, at times wistful vocals and lyrics ('Hilly Street'); the pastoral reverbed twang of the guitar - ESPECIALLY the guitar - taking us into an Antipodean Americana meets countrified Built To Spill ('Mount Barker'); the chugging faux-psych of 'Smug S' - I love the band's propensity to veer away from what's by now expected of sounds of this type. They still do that well too - songs like 'Nervous' reminds me of a larrikin Kinks supporting The Easybeats if they played the Town Hall Hotel at 3pm on a Friday afternoon. Its a deceptively strong album, one that is haunting me in daydream reveries and warming me at the surprising twists and turns. Thanks boys.

Grab Spent The Afternoon through either Bedroom Suck (Aust) here or Fire Records (Euro) here. Full Ugly are playing Brisbane this Friday night at the Brightside (what used to be Electric Playground - where Ela Stiles played a few weeks ago) alongside Rites Wild, Martyr Privates and Thigh Master. Other dates:

May 10 - The Metro, Adelaide w/ Parading + Bruff Superior

May 16 - The Brisbane, Hobart w/ Treehouse, Pines + Heart Beach

May 23 - The John Curtin, Melbourne w/ Bitch Prefect, Totally Mild + Moon Dice

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The Roar Of The Golden Geordie

You can never keep a good Geordie down. Especially when talking about Brisbane’s Geordie Stafford. The guy has been fully entrenched in Brisbane’s hardcore and punk scene for many years, and his work with Dick Nasty and Teargas in particular have left indelible marks on the sonic landscape.

He is never not busy though. Over the course of the last few years he has been constantly churning out solo stuff under the moniker Golden Bats. He is up to his sixth EP – released back on Record Store Day on CD-R (as have all his EPs, and the very small run booklet containing them all sold out by 11am on the day). Admittedly it’s been a year or so since V came out – and VI is in the same vein, all snarling doom metal clamour, a one man maelstrom that draws from, plays with, bows down to and turns his back on all the basic tropes of metal. That drum machine (except for on opener ‘Mountain Eyes’) holds its own over much of the drumming you hear in other, more profile-laden acts – whether that’s an indictment, a technological miracle, or just plain cool, is up to you. But Stafford loves roaring with delay, gnashing with dirge-dripping delirium; slaying riff after riff. Golden Bats is his excuse to live in his perfect netherworld – and we should be thankful that he lets us in.

You can grab all six EPs for free download here. There are 15 copies of VI as CD-R left too – expect them to fly out the door.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Remembering A Magnetic Roche

The listless and footloose troubadour Nathan Roche continues his enigmatic journey through the backwaters and neon glare of Sydney’s highs and lows. This second album, Magnetic Memories (out now through Glenlivet-A-Gogh Records), comes five months after his Watch It Wharf debut, and whilst the laconically wasted narratives that Roche drawls remain as acerbic and slanted as ever, there is a weirdness imbued in the lounge-lizard-meets-a-weathered-Lou Reed-cover-band-from-Petersham-with-early-Talking Heads-pretensions instrumentation that is equally as entrancing. It’s almost lysergic in the measured sleepiness that Roche delivers his sermons on the Camperdown mount, tired of running towards and away from destiny, a crooked grin slanting across his dial as he acknowledges and doffs his hat to the ridiculous and the sublime of what is Australia’s most famous city. He may not be our recognised documenter of 21st century Australia – nor would you want him to be – but Roche is a wonderful oddity to have in the canon. Like Brisbane’s James X Boyd before him, put Roche down as Sydney’s sandwich-board-wearing soothsayer of drunken ripostes and stark personal admissions, all wrapped up in a loquacious mirth. And like Boyd, he is soon setting sail for Europe. Let the good times roll.

You can grab Magnetic Memories here.

Chubby Pubic Hair

I had to slip this on quickly. Those North England lizards Sleaford Mods have another record out soon, but before you get that you get all their 7"s piled into one for their Chubbed Up digital release. My favourites are the two slices that came off their Matador Records 7" Record Club release, 'Pubic Hair Ltd' and 'Routine Dean', both of which you can listen to below. There is something hilarious, dumb and necessary about these guys, all in the same breath. Who gives a fuck about heroes at all, really, when you get incessant beats from a beaten down drum machine and roughshod vocals spat scattershot like a demented homeless soothsayer. Enjoy.

NOTE - The new album came out today! Have a listen below. I will too. What do you think? Leave a comment...

Praising A Peopled Musical Garden...And Technical Errors

Goddamn Monday. It can be a right bitch. Today is something else though; it’s one of those Mondays when even your computer, a nonplussed automaton, wants none of it. Everything is “not responding”. So sorry People’s Temple. I really wanted to write up something special about your excellent record that you just put out on Hozac Records, Musical Garden, that I managed to snap up this weekend. The way the band sways from modern day garage rock nonchalance to 60s woozy pop, like high fives between John Dwyer (‘Fast Thrills’), Ray Davies (‘Male Secretary’) and Bobby Darin (‘I Heard You Singing’) over a beachside prawn cocktail, really impresses. No song reach three minutes yet all feel fully realised. This is how you do it, King Gizzard – focus and integrity can still be imbued into tracks that experiment and are brimming with fun. But that’s all I can do, because this "not responding" shit is for the birds. Time to step away and enter the Musical Garden… Grab this great lil record here.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Australian Pride, Sonic Masala Style (Pt1)

SO MANY AUSSIE BANDS DOING GOOD THINGS. So let's check some of the most recent ones out!

Let's start with my currently most played song from one of the best bands in Australia. 'Flesh War' is the first taste from the upcoming Total Control record Typical System, coming out on the excellent Iron Lung label. It's shaved away some of the industrial dirge that lurked in the corners and fully embraced the 80s Gothic New Wave. This doesn't even feel Australian - if it weren't for Mikey Young's guitar lines, I would thing we were in Berlin on a snow blasted Sunday, time indeterminate, all pofaced and windswept, black coats and wasted gazes. In short, it's amazing. Cannot wait to hear how this all comes together - colour this my most anticipated release of 2014. Always a dangerous comment to make - but it can't be unmade now...

Three bands are playing tonight in Brisbane that have new music out. Depraved goth rock trio Gazar Strips are launching their second EP Sparkling on yours truly's Sonic Masala Records. I can't go into too much detail as that would be self-aggrandising, but obviously I like it, especially closer 'Bee Mantis'. Pre-order the EP here.

Then there is Naked Maja, who have been steadily building elliptical steam since the release of their Disillusion EP last year. They have a new single at the ready, 'Out Of Mind', and it's a slice of tempered, considered mood, a salubrious offering that nevertheless feels suspended in formaldehyde, the sun piercing the liquid in amber shards, a sleepwalking daydream in between worlds. It's this kind of sun drunk miasmic emotion that this band does so well, a meticulous deconstruction/reconstruction of pop conventions. Great stuff - their The Vagrant EP promises to be another bar raiser.

Finally there is one-man darkness machine The Steady As She Goes, whose Dangerous & Dead LP is a brooding, calculating winner. All brooding theatrics in a minimalist pit, this act is one of the more understated must-see acts in Australia at the moment. It's the fact that the magnetic pull comes from one man, sucking the air out of the room at the first few notes of the guitar, that makes his performances so hypnotic. All three bands, alongside the excellent Barge With An Antenna On It (who are recording new music the following day at Incremental Studios) and Hypnotic Bedrooms, all at the Underdog for a tenner. See you there.

Now for another current favourite album from a band I can't get enough of right now. Melbourne four-piece Nun have released their debut self-titled record through Aarght! (Australia) and AVANT! (Europe), therefore letting it slip that they love exclamation marks. And darkness - plenty of darkness. For Nun is one delectably dark spiral of despair. Opening track 'Immersion II' is by far my favourite due to its chaotic atonal nature, but the way it bleeds straight into 'Evoke The Sleep' is brilliant. Apocryphal synth madness - can't beat that. 

Keeping things dark is label No Patience, who has just brought forth two great releases from doomed soothsayer Lakes and gutter scum Flesh World. Lakes' Carved Remains/Face In The Ash 7" follows hotly on the heels of last year's Blood Of The Grove LP, and these two tracks are another cut above, filled with sworling gothic tension and pent up anguish. There is a vibrating intensity that hums at the heart of these tracks, even as Sean Bailey's delivery seems at once teeth-gnashing and slack-jawed - on the precipice between exultation and damnation. No such tightrope walking for Flesh World though - their Planned Obsolescence EP is a breakneck kick into the abyss. This kind of thrash wasn't made to be heard on anything other than shitty cassettes thrown onto a bonfire, but now that they are on vinyl expect this devilish energy and power to ooze out and consume the world. 

Let's travel to Newcastle now and catch up with Bare Grillz. This band brought out Friends at the beginning of the year, and it's an excellent record that I unfortunately slept on until only a few weeks ago. There is a rawness to the recording where you can hear the mistakes, elements of the studio wouldn't normally take in, and this is the Araldite glue that stick all of this atonal angular aggression in place. It has that hollowed dissonance that some of the NZ bands that dole out this type of warped noise tend to have woven into their DNA, and that is an imminently good thing. A real grower - hopefully the boys return for a show up north sometime soon.

I'm running out of time because I have to go eat a handful of flu tablets so I can make it through the Gazar Strips show tonight alive - although Ill probably try to drown the germs in liquor anyway - so I thought I would end this first instalment of Aussie awesomeness with everybody's favourite, Courtney Barnett. She played The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, she has the video clip out that is at the bottom of this post, and she has this interactive zine about her tour/trip that you can colour. I could write for hours more about this, but Ill leave it for now. Keep between the lines! Come back tomorrow for the next instalment, featuring the likes of Wizard Oz, The Seaport and the Airport, Austin Buckett, Full Ugly, No Action, Freak Wave and lots more!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Callas Are Darkly Vertical

This is something else. I'm watching some shitty TV blooper show on silent in the middle of the night, blazed, listening to Greek weirdniks The Callas new album Is It Vertical? (out on Inner Ear Records). Its a warped, chugging menagerie of sounds, melodies, and genres, cannonballing from one extreme to the next without regard for rules, regulations, or your mental health. The insidious nature that these ten tracks growl and grind over these dirgey kraut tensions manifest, damaged and decidedly so, fits in with the nature of the album's producer, Jim Sclavunos (Grinderman). The voice helps with this of course, a lurking Mr Sinister, with the gnarled anger of an girl-gang choir spat from the shadows. Bauhaus, The Raveonettes, Rammstein, Grinderman - this is a relentless, spiked, cerebral menace that can't help but take control of you. Highly recommended at any time - but the middle of the restless night is most apt.

Pick up Is It Vertical? here.

Live And Still Screaming

It's a day of reminiscing, it seems. I got to see Screaming Females the once, when I lived around the corner from the still mourned London venue The Luminaire. With old SM mates Paul and Ani I'm pretty sure. The band was tight and fun, and the diminutive Marissa Paternoster was a blazing presence, her voice booming forth, her face contorting, her guitar wailing. It was a powerhouse performance, one that I was sure would blast them into the stratosphere. It's grungey, punky, proggy in places, silly in others - noise pop with hunting knife serrated edges and dipped in PCP. Over eight years and five records that hasn't changed.

It makes sense then that for me, their live album Live At The Hideout (out now on Don Giovanni Records) is the best thing they have committed to tape. First up, it's recorded by Steve Albini (also recorded their last album, Ugly). Secondly, it's the Screaming Females. They roar through their tracks like it's the last gig on earth, and other than some muted drums (the recording's fault), it is a killer display of raucous, blood curdling rock and roll. King Mike on bass is given some moments to shine, and the tightness of the band is without question. Yet the focus must be on Paternoster - she is a wailing dervish, a devil at the crossroads, and she finally gets the recorded platform that she deserves. Live At The Hideout reaffirms (if any was needed) that this trio are one of the best live acts on the planet - go out and see them pronto!

You can get Live At The Hideout here.

Double A Voyages For Maates Of No Return

I didn’t know who Aa was until I saw them at Woodland in 2011. I was with my mate Andy, and we were debating the current conflagration of auxiliary drummers in indie rock. We had seen some Aussie bands who shall remain nameless whose use of the extra percussion was at best a novelty and at worst a waste of time, poorly masking the basic nature of the band’s music with what was deemed as “tribal rhythms”. Tropical pop? Don’t make me laugh. Yet Aa are a percussion tour de force, continual drumbeats layered over each other until the resultant cacophony is a myopic catharsis, a trembling pummelling. When they brought out more drums onto the floor, I was swept up in the theatrics, commandeering one to join in myself. Such audience participation can become a nightmare, but like the Boardrum experience, Aa kept everything loose yet precise, with every “drummer” attuned to their worldview. It was a killer show and showed that there are a few bands out there where more than one drumkit isn’t just warranted yet essential.

But after their great 2011 release mAate (itself a combination of their 2007 debut GAame and their Glossy EP from 2009), I hadn’t kept track of the Brooklyn collective. Now Northern Spy Records has released their new album, VoyAager, and…well, I don't know. It goes without saying that change is good in the world of music, but also without saying that change for change's sake is bullshit at best. I'm not saying that Aa are doing something wrong with mixing things up, but the more Battles-esque tracks here (I'm talking Tyondai Braxton-era Battles too, just listen to 'Drug Mom') bewilder me more than energise. The paring back of older track 'Glossy' does give a sense of distilled acidity, yet the elongated tension was what brought this band into their element. The kaleidoscopic hallucinogens were part and parcel to Aa's MO, I know, but it just all seems too saccharine. Still, there are ominous freaks like 'Pug Pit' to look forward to.

Maybe I'm the one who's changed. I bet these tracks kill live, which to be honest is the only way to experience em. Istill have their drumsticks at home too, so we're still mAates.

Grab VoyAager here.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Bleeding Is Reading

Changing names can throw you, but with Bleeding Rainbow there was always something lingering at the corners of the self-consciousness. The Philly four-piece used to be Reading Rainbow you see, named after the kiddies' show. The name shift comes from connotations from being named after the kiddies' show - and the fact Carrie Brownstein poo-pooed the name. It also happened at the tail end of 2011, so this ain't some new thing, but the band as RR hold a special place in my heart - I've been a fan since 2010, and their Prism Eyes LP of that year kept me warm on what was a weird time in my life, in Paris no less (read a little here...) The band as BR haven't not grabbed me - they are still the same core group - but it's taken until Interrupt (out now on Kanine) for me to slip back into their slipstream. The Superchunk comparisons are warranted, as is Sleater-Kinney - 'Out Of Line' for me could have been cut from that band's final LP The Woods. In fact the band has really toughened up in the past few years - even taking a Cloud Nothings-like angular stance on 'Images'. But overall Bleeding Rainbow are just a great guitar punk band with quirky scrap-pop sensibilities that will always take me back to my solo malaise in Paris, a weird yet grittily wondrous place.

Get Interrupt here.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Friday Cover Up - Finding Marty's Rockets In Doom Town

I'm a pretty big fan of Martin Phillips. Not the Welsh darts player, although I can understand the confusion. No, the Martin Phillips who fronts peerless Auckland noise rock band God Bows To Math; who writes his own blog, Hell Is Now Love; who is an all round rad dude. He also puts things out under the blog moniker, having been responsible for putting out records from The DHDFDs, Proton Beast and El Alamein. The reason Phillips started the label though was to give a physical release to fellow Auckland band Lost Rockets, and again he is doing them a solid, putting out this 7” single ‘Hundred Year Cough’ to precede their debut LP.

It’s pretty great as you’d imagine – and on this Good Friday, they have an excellent cover on the B-side – none other than Wipers special ‘Doom Town’. I have to say (and this feels sacrilegious, even to me) that the single is stronger than the cover. I don’t know if that means Lost Rockets kill it, or that I'm a bad person. Either way, get into this – can’t wait to hear what the album sounds like later this year… Thanks Martin!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Bring On The Easterfaust

The Easter madness is upon us. But then Easter started back in February. Super rad psychoids The Cosmic Dead have epic album Easterfaust (out through Sound Of Cobra) in their arsenal and aren't afraid to use it. This will fry you. And if you're already fried...cosmic kosmiche awaits.

Grab this stellar record here.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Pining For The Harshest Of Blackouts

Remember No Anchor? The brutalist Brisbane trio who reckon they aren't together much anymore? Donnie Miller records music and is in Sonic Masala-affiliated shoegaze band Roku Music; Alex Gillies cuts wood and is in metal throwbacks Greig; and Ian Rogers elocutes about music and plays in Shaking Hell. But Ian isn't done with flaying his vocal chords or our eardrums, as new side project Black Pines (joined by Rational Academy alum and the Pale Earth duke himself, Ben Thompson) attests. In the most obvious move yet from excellent outre outsider label Wood & Wire will take any risk, they have put out Harsh Out, six tracks of psych - but not as you know it. The duo want to scrape the underbelly of the 60s psychedelic dream with rusty knives, before diving straight in and letting the intestinal truth shower down. With comparisons of Bardo Pond, Boris, Swans and Unsane (circa 89-92) bandied about, you know that this is atonal obliteration of the most delicious kind. The red-eyed tint of a man driven insane by demons both without and within; swastikas etched through the skin, through sinew, through bone; nightmares real in Giallo Technicolour, an ecstatic mess, before spiralling into a pastiche of Korine-helmed dirt and Noe-driven madness. All done without preamble, without compromise, without apology. If you thought The Golden Bridge saw an upswing in Ian's temperament, with tongue embedded in cheek, then Black Pines is here to irradiate those memories beyond reproach.

As always, Wood & Wire are offering Harsh Out as a free download here. Let's hope there is some sort of physical release of this soon, yeah?

Wrecking The City Again

Melbourne's Hotel Wrecking City Traders are back! Well they haven't actually been dormant, but they finally have their new LP Ikiryo (out through the band's Bro Fidelity label) ready to thrash out to the world, a mere six years (?!) after Black Yolk blasted the doors off. Recorded in two days in January, and the tight timeline fits with the leaner, more focused delivery of the five songs on display here. Opener 'Breath' is a power behemoth, holding down some straight-up metal riffs before launching forth like a tightly coiled serpent at the jugular, before dissolving into a doom-lite crawl that shadows Pelican at their most languid. It's these tonal shifts at almost a nanosecond's notice that is the most obvious change up in the duo's arsenal - they are more melodic and in tune with each other's playing due to their tireless touring and shows in Japan. 'Riley' is a sinuous beast that surreptitiously moves into Toby's repetitive groove, the alternations coming from Ben's rolls and fills. 'Dance The Hempen Jig' feels the most like old HWCT (not that anything on Ikiryo is far from the wellspring of the band's oeuvre), albeit in a concise, calibrated form, before the album closes with the darkness of 'Tetryl' and the sprawling title track taking us into the sinister outer spaces. Welcome back, boys.

Get Ikiryo here.

American Football Replay

I have only been a fan of the self-titled debut record from Chicago trio American Football for the past couple of years. The fact that it is the band's only full-length release heightens the appeal; the fact that they barely played any shows before disbanding piques the interest further; the fact that Mike Kinsella went on to play in another band with only one release (up until last month), Owls, and his brother Tim formed Joan Of Arc, makes the short-lived fire that much more fervent. Now fifteen years on from its initial release in 1999, Polyvinyl has seen fit to reissue American Football - and I for one am so excited about the prospect of having this on vinyl for the first time. Never heard of it? Maybe not. But if you are a fan of Explosions In The Sky or other introspective, gossamer-knitted, emotive instrumental bands (see most of Temporary Residence's early roster), then you have tasted their influence. They aren't entirely devoid of lyrics though - yet on tracks like opener 'Never Meant' they perfectly encapsulate the tone and timbre of the music itself, playing out as a true complement rather than a counterpoint or embellishment. But what makes American Football such a great record is the emotional resonance that emanates from its very pores, something that very few bands (excepting the aforementioned Explosions...) can evoke. It for me is a true, deserved holder of the term timeless.

You can pre-order American Football here - it's out May 20. The deluxe edition includes an album's worth of rare live recordings, demos, and practice sessions (in which the group rehearsed material they never recorded elsewhere) to complement the original record. Beautifully expanded packaging incorporates new
photographs from Chris Strong along with lyrics, detailed liner notes written by the band, and never-before-seen band pictures. The below unreleased track is 'The 7s', which comes from a 1997 live recording. IT WAS THE FIRST SONG THEY EVER WROTE. It was the set closer until they wrote my favourite track (neck and neck with 'Honestly'), 'Stay Home'. They discarded this - most bands will never write something this good in their lives. Incredible.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Guilty Of Nothing

We put out Roku Music as our first label release, so you know that Sonic Masala is all about good quality shoegaze. Of course in this day and age there are so many variations that it's hard to discern the good, the bad and the ugly - you get enough of the last one and you are likely to turn off from all the noise (bless me Kevin for my blasphemous tongue...) Philly's Nothing certainly use some of the tropes emblematic of shoegaze, but there is definitely a lot more going on here - this band has their roots as entrenched in early hardcore as they do in 80s English midlands. This is apparent on their excellent record Guilty of Everything.  The vocals remain submerged in the miasmic swirling noise on display, but its the dynamic at play here that makes this a different beast altogether. It comes down to the calm and quiet that nestles amongst the bluster – a sonorous quality permeates tracks like 'Hymn To The Pillory', 'Endlessly' and 'Dig' allowing the noise to seep smoothly into the pores of your being. There’s a familiarity in the wavelength-like undulations of Guilty Of Everything, but that makes it even more arresting. A seriously good release - and if I hadn't put out the best shoegaze album of 2014, then this would surely be it...

Guilty Of Everything is out through Relapse now - get it here.

Howlin' Banana Raises Maddie's Kaviar Special To The Skies...

A French label called Howlin Banana, pushing garage rock? Well, I've heard of weirder things. The record crew have some great releases there, and Ill trawl through them over the next few weeks. The two I've been digging though have been from Parisian garage pop slackers Volage and Loose Rennes natives Kaviar Special.

Volage have crammed a lot of vibrating old-school tunes into one small release with their Maddie 10" EP. Favourite track: 'Many Hopes'. But the psychedelic flower pop with a grungey edge of 'Im A Fool' and 'Heart Healing (Take 1)' is a lot of fun, whilst 'Bob Is Alive' is tub thumping from the darkest recesses of a cartoonish Hell, with Volage stripped of graces, airs and souls as they play the support slot for the Cramps. Love this, even if it proves a little schizophrenic. But that's what EPs are for. Bring on the album.

Kaviar Special are up to that stage, bringing out their self-titled LP (also on Azbin Records), and it's some raucous, stupid garage rock fun. I really enjoy this kind of music when out on the booze, and these guys could easily fuel my night. It's pretty straight up in its offerings - songs don't tend to stick out as much, so when one does (like 'Ptit Cul') it feels like it's something probably less special than you think. That sounds like a diss, and it isn't meant to be - these is consistent breakneck fare that is young, dumb and full of...poison cake? The LP is sold out as far as I can tell, which is very unfortunate for most - but I have one, so that's all that matters...

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Hits From The Box #83 - Still Kickin'

It was my Dad's 60th on Thursday. I'm currently at Hervey Bay in an apartment overlooking the ocean, drinking a beer. Seems weird that I'm benefiting from Dad's birthday - but then again I guess I am every day (awwww...) He's having a lie down now, so I'm here with a cool brew and an hour to kill. Sounds like it's time to trawl through the ever expanding inbox...

Canada's Geyser have a tasty 12" EP out which starts out with a killer angular garage rock track ('Feel It All Day'), pare it back with a slightly darker meander through the paint cans and charlatans ('Copper Wish') before launch into a lecherous lurch through the B-side ('Jocko', 'Junkie'). The bottom end bass is the true centrifugal force here, propelling everything forward with a cocky jaunt that feels almost comical in the quieter moments, yet is totally vindicated when everything explodes/implodes. And the vocals go from crooning, to maniacal screaming, to carnivalesque chanting of "junkies" like they are a sideshow attraction -which they pretty much are. Good stuff.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I threw on Two, the new album from Chicago band Owls. The cover art is all kinds of ridiculous (a battered, blood smeared Noel Gallagher is kinda funny though). But as soon as the chugging guitar and hypnotic trance combine on killer opening track 'Four Weeks Of Art...' (all songs end with ellipses...), I knew I was a winner. I had no idea that Owls were a band some ten years or more ago, let alone that it included Tim Kinsella of Joan Of Arc. Makes sense though - Two is an album of constant contradiction - its an angular rock album that refuses to rock out; its an amiable pop record that refuses to be anything by cryptic; it's an accessible guitar band that continues to confound with hiccupping breaks and half-turns; Kinsella's lyrics are at once personable and impenetrable. Basically, it's Two. And I'm happy with that.

Pittsburgh lurkers Shaky Shrines have this five track EP Hocus Bogus coming out very soon, and it's a slick piece o work, wavering between organ-fuelled garage punk, Rocket From The Crypt style ('Shower Curtain'), to more windows-down-driving-through-the-night-with-a-sultry-mistress-and-blazed-on-high-quality-stimulants grooves ('Hypnotic Eyes', 'Beyond The Door') and something that brings them together in the rocking, psych tinged 'Black SUV' and 'White Work Van'. Nice.

Shaky Shrines - Hypnotic Eyes Visualizer from Justin A Nixon on Vimeo.

Back to Canada now (Toronto to be exact) to dirty everything right up with Soupcans. These degenerates wail about in crude oil and caviar, spit firewater into baby's eyes, tear the habits of nuns and choke strippers with them - its real bottom of the barrel kind of misanthropism. And as Parasite Brain attests, it's also fucking amazing. This is too hardcore to be hardcore - it's the theme tune of a disintegrating serial sodomizer. And again, I'm totally fine with that. Ill even pick up the cheque. Great, evil stuff.

Here's a nice swatch of dream pop from Melbourne courtesy of Vulpix. His Swarms Ep is a sonorous sweep of reverb stasis, ebbing and flowing from one languid memory to another in an opaque fog. It's like a lot of other dreampop bedroom wanderers then? No - the sound is crystalline, there is personality climbing out from behind the subconscious curtain of warbled guitar, there is even a little bit of humour. A confident tip of the hat to his forebears - now let's see what Vulpix brings us next.

Let's finish back in Chicago tonight with the swirling squall of The Thons. This band kinda remind me of The Thermals, if they were actually The Intelligence. Which means they are so so rad. I only have Real Raw Rock, but their newer record Thirty Foot Snake is also out - and I can't imagine it straying far from the path of this killer record. This has been a stellar Hits From The Box, but I think I'm ending with the high here. Slightly unhinged, slightly relentless, totally addictive. Get it here. Listen to BOTH ALBUMS below!

Happy Saturday everyone!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Warming A Widow With(out) Child

Let's finish the evening with some squalling post-punk from Manchester, shall we? Warm Widow's sophomore LP Childless is, in my mind at least, somewhat scruffier, louder, more unhinged than their scruffy, loud, unhinged debut Widower. That doesn't make sense I hear you shout - Widower had much lower production values, and you could just about taste the powder of ground calcium as they gnashed their teeth! And I do love that about any release - but it takes a certain level of ingenuity to instill all of that into a glossier product, like infusing a red velvet cupcake with anthrax (who eats cupcakes anyway???) Its that insidious, coruscating guitar that mines deep into your cerebral vortex. The rhythm section hold everything together with nailed-down tenacity - its an exercise in meticulous aggravation, only letting the leash go when all hope is lost. Childless is made to be played louder than your speakers can go.

Childless is out now - get it here.

Circular Songs

(Song by Dave Kan)
This time last week Sonic Masala combined with Bedroom Suck Records to present the first solo show in Brisbane for Ela Stiles (Songs, Bushwalking) - the above photo is from that performance. Stiles has an incredible presence which comes down to her haunting, commanding voice. It filled out the venue (formerly The Healer, currently Electric Playground, soon to be The Brightside) and, although she was accompanied with her guitar for most songs, it was this that marked the performance as something special.

This is ever more evident from the genetics of her debut solo record, out soon on Bedroom Suck. The album is an a cappela tour de force, drawing together her looped voice to become a haunting choral mantra, taking in Eastern stylings and drone aesthetics to form a soundscape of undulating melodicism, the soundtrack of a atmospheric meditation into the Self, channelling the losses of the world. The first half of the record is filled with songs that barely reach one minute in length (in fact only two, 'kumbh Mela' and 'Untitled Man', of the six tracks on the A side reach that milestone); whilst the B side is a ten minute drone transition based solely, again, on Stiles' voice, the sound of howling wind nearby immediately evoking a frozen arctic tundra, lost in the whiteout. It's a bewitching release from a woman who continue to beguile with each successive musical experimentation.

Pre-order Ela Stiles here.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Gentlemen Prefer Sex Tapes

(Photo by Glen Schenau)
Boy oh boy. I feel aggrieved, embarrassed, dirty and fucking excited whenever I put on Sex Tape, the record that Melbourne miscreants Gentlemen put out through Homeless Records. I've only had it since Sunday - it's just about sold out (there were two copies left at Collectors Corner in the Melbourne CBD, not sure if there are many more). Its the sort of atonal noise rock that the term pigfuck was invented for. Sure, there isn't inherent melodicism being skewered or insanely tight engine room in the muck and the mire here, but there is plenty of abrasive yowls, riffs, smashed drums and stalker-with-dead-eyes basslines here to give a corpse an erection. Matt Korvette over at Yellow Green Red took umbrage to the BDSM imagery the band take on with the cover art - and I get his point - but this is the kind of noise that is destined to dwell in the seventh level of Satan's bowel (and what his band Pissed Jeans are basically known to do). 'Military Style Massage' - now if you are resistant to that bludgeoning, we ain't friends, pure and simple. And to be honest there are some serious Melbourne bands that are fist deep in this corrosive sound - personally, I think it's brilliant. Listen to 'Perry' and bring on the pig.

On Barbiturates Like A Boss

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sad that Barbiturates aren't based in Brisbane anymore. Roland Hlavka, guitarist of another great local band Cobwebbs, has manhandled his bedroom project from a warped space noodling odyssey into an even more warped benzo trip to the dark side of the adenoidal from the bottom of the ocean. With each release Barbiturates becomes a more fitting moniker. Case in point: Boss, his latest cassette through Long Gone Records. Hlavka hides his drawl under enough reverb and distortion to shred all words from his lips, and the insidious insistence that opener 'Weight To Touch' emanates makes it sound like disturbed black-clad synth mavens Multiple Man are strapping guitars. But Boss is decidedly weirder than that - take the warbling, plodding leviathan that is 'Oxygen Free', or the turbulent nightmare that is 'Beware'. Barbiturates takes an idea and seeps into the earth with it; a parallel universe beyond the snow of the dead television, happily trapped within lysergic coffins, a boss of his own domain.

You can get Boss here. If you live in Melbourne you can catch Barbiturates play with Spermaids at the Catfish in Fitzroy on Monday. I walked past there on Sunday. That's all I know about the place.