Thursday, 31 March 2016

Holy Fxxx'd

Starting to get the energy back - might even be able to stomach a beer! One of the main reasons is 'Xed Eyes', the second single from Holy Fuck's upcoming new record, Congrats. It is following in the same realm as initial cut 'Tom Tom', in that its electronica that is designed to be darkly danceable. Of course there is a serrated edge to these disco bites, the percussion mechanical and pinpoint precise, the beats feverish, red-eyed, gurning. The more you listen, the more you get the jittery sweats. Time to get up to get down. Reeeeally looking forward to this one!

Video Vacuum - Spectres, Outer Spaces, Wussy, Drinking Flowers

Im still a little broken after last night - let's watch some tunes.

Spectres have effectively killed their excellent 2015 album Dying by handing the songs out to various artists to reconstruct, scar and immolate, all coming together on double LP Dead. These artists include the likes of Stuart Braithwaite (Mogwai), Andy Bell (Ride), Giant Swan, Blood Music, Factory Floor and more. The above is a total industrial scuzz of 'The Sky Of All Places' by Hookworms. The church bells, the distorted and slowed lyrics stretching the speakers... The clip itself is also great, showing three of them walking through hills and dunes to get to a naked body, drag it through the sand, put it in a box with their logo on it, and burn it. The guy? On the cover of their original album. So literal!

I know very little about Outer Spaces but was drawn to their film clip for 'I Saw You', its clipped footage of regular architecture and urban design and decay, all lines and grids. I find this kind of stuff fascinating, and it doesn't hurt that the song reminds me of early Breeders meets nuanced Veruca Salt meets Scout Niblett. Really dig this one.

Back to the feedback. Cincinnati natives Wussy have a dark and brooding film clip to go with their dark and brooding 'Dropping Houses'. Fast cuts, images of stars and galaxies, lens flares, underlit trees... It lends the song a degree of heft that you'd think these ragged rockers wouldn't need. It comes from their new album Forever Sounds which has been getting some pretty solid reviews, I will look into these guys tonight (NB: Wussy tour England April/May, hitting The Windmill in Brixton May 1).

Christos Faranas (Elephant House) has been one of my favourite electronic artists from London for some time now. He has released Talking With Remarkable Men, which 'You Have Now Found The Conditions Which...' is from. I love this film clip, the Afghan dance routines done in such a po-faced manner, it's like Jodorowsky directing a Sondheim number. Leaving over to minutes of silence as the end credits of said film scrolls across the screen is cheek personified.

Finally here is the oscillating Krautrock play from Drinking Flowers. 'Black Monday' is a but of a weird film clip - indebted to Dandy Warhols/Brian Jonestown Massacre songwise, the video plays with VHS grit, slow motion playing, strange costumes, a little moment of a suit getting shown up by a "girl" with a machine gun, multicoloured images, a flickering TV... But I love the song, so it's a winner from me.

Now get back to work!

Danger Beach

As I make my way down out of the clouds after last night's stellar Shitwife/Nitkowski/Girl Sweat show, I need something to bring me down gently - and 'Mirage', the new track from Canberra's Danger Beach, is just right. Always interested in creating somnambulist cityscape soundtracks of a retrofuturist world (see his excellent record Pacific), 'Mirage' is part of a "score" for an album called Contact, out at April 5 through Dream Damage. With the little "trailers" put out to precede it, it certainly sounds cinematic. Really looking forward to this one.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Arrive Alive With Wireheads

I didn't speak enough about Big Issues, the second album from Adelaide's crazy kids Wireheads. Out through Tenth Court, it was an album of rough and ready, vital disheveled rock, somehow devoid of the trappings of place and space (Adelaide can do that to you, for good and bad). It is mostly sold out though - Tenth Court have no more, I have a couple floating round my house, and the rest are in record stores both around Australia and London. Find it!

Well we don't have to wait much longer for a new album - their third winner Arrive Alive is out soon. 'Arrive Alive' is the perfect wonked guitar grind, a psych sidewinder that wings its way from the Bight into your mind, preaching safety and survival and the futility of fate while emanating narcotic debauchery. The film clip is excellently at odds with the music also, yet somehow in tune - the band play and play around in a quarry, swinging baseball bats in the air, sitting next to landfill, driving diggers and watching planes fly over electric pylons, guitar solos in the middle of the road, sculling from orange juice bottles... In short, it's brilliant. The line about the people on the plains behind the Great Dividing Range being pretty strange anyway? That's where I am from, and I can attest to how true a statement that is. Arrive Alive promises to be up there with the best records of the year.

Boxed In By Noisy Northern Weirdos

Earlier I mentioned an upcoming Box Records release, Girl Sweat's Bad Happenings. Well here are a few others that came out at the tail end of 2015/beginning of this year that also deserve attention.

Temporary Infinity is the third album from Newcastle psych-heads Haikai No Ku and it is as if not more unrelenting than their previous offerings. A cataclysmic wall of distorted dirge rolls in from the north, a steadfast maelstrom of monolithic monotony, with the squalls of guitar drawl licking at its heels, driven forth with plodding certainty by primal drumming - it's a gripping gruel of an album, and I absolutely love it. Sleep wishes they could hold down the fort in an apocalypse of their own creation like these guys can.

London noisy devils Casual Sect make one hell of a racket on The Hidden Persuaders. A calamitous catharsis, an implosive idiom, a perilous purge - Casual Sect wrap up their balls of broken punk noise with excursions into sound recordings and ruminations on David Icke and the Hadron Collider. The longest song here is called 'I Hate Jazz'. deliberately toying with what might be seen as an intellectual free jazz playthrough before devolving/evolving into a brutal thrash - as most of these spiked tracks are. Bow down at this destructive altar.

Not to be confused with the bewitching noise act also trailing around Europe, Unavailing is the album from the Bismuth who offer blood sacrifices to Sunn O))) doomsday soothsayers. The duo are infatuated with incremental sludge, as unrelenting as it is inevitable. Without a guitar - Bismuth are all about making bass and drums as tectonically destructive as their multi-membered, multi-stringed contemporaries. Yet they can achieve the same level of devastation without the sonic assaults too - see the quiet comedown of 'Of The Weak Willed' which holds off from the black mass for 14 of its 16 minute running time. It perfectly showcases their innate sense of patience alongside the penchant for obliteration - the world will come down, that is a given; but Bismuth will bide their time.

Glued To Bad Girl Sweat

Tonight I have the next Sonic Masala: London showcase, featuring batshit noiseniks Shitwife and livewire units Nitkowski. It is also featuring a London appearance from Girl Sweat, a one-man psych dirge. He is releasing his next album, Bad Happenings, on excellent label Box Records (Blown Out, Richard Dawson, a few others you will hear about shortly...), and if 'Human Glue' is anything to go by, it is going to be massive. Imagine linking a lapsteel guitar through a wood chipper and cement mixer, then strapping it to a post-apocalyptic scarecrow preacher from a dead motor city howling at the moon. That's 'Human Glue'. That's Girl Sweat. That's Bad Happenings. Pre-order here, and come to The Victoria tonight to see the man purge in the flesh.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

7/4 Days with St Augustus

Throughout the long Easter weekend here in London, we had some wild, predictably unpredictable weather. Friday was amazing and sunny; Saturday cool with rolling, sharp stabs of rain deluge; Sunday threatened to storm but gave a fine afternoon, before the heavens broke in killer winds; and Monday was a shapeshifter, taking in all shades, albeit at mildly more accessible climes. Which means I spent a lot of it inside. And the vast majority of that time was spent listening to Seven Days, the debut album of St Augustus, the solo guise of Brisbane entity Cameron Smith (Ghost Notes, Tape/Off, Tiny Spiders, Spirit Bunny).

And it is a true triumph years in the making.

He breaks the mould with the loose and raucous 'Always Ends', taking a GVB via Nova Scotia (one of the best little Brisbane bands to come out of the place in the past decade IMHO) fuzzed-out blast. But it is the still, sparse moments that have always resonated. Trouble outlasts with the devil in the chest on 'Limit, Limitless', a brilliant song that haunts as it stills the breath, shadows of Jason Molina in its shake-you-to-the-core mourn; 'Run Away' a folk-drunk dream about finding the special moments among the mundane of daily life which is draining as it is still grasping for the last gasp for something great with a capital G.

I don't know if I am supposed to find 'Candy' funny - its quintessential Cam, the maudlin realisations of past activities now being beyond/beneath you, a curmudgeon kicking out against the former self, with broken, sloppy elements that are almost grandiose in their Big Song longings and shaggy singalongs. It's a theme that echoes through another rollicking pop song, 'Afterthoughts'. Then there are small moments littered throughout that continue to resonate and haunt - the cascading effect in 'Walk Right Through' a synthetic comedown (that - dare I say it - reminds me of my childhood love of Richard Marx's 'Hazard'); the echoed backing vocals on 'The Goldilocks Zone'; the flatness of the recording and the musical saw permeating the Nick Drake-esque 'Song For A Windy Day', about being too young to know how to connect with mortality so close to home; the glockenspiel-like chimes underneath the Sparhawk evoking miniature 'Descending'.

By the time the heart-rendingly magisterial closer 'I Didn't Come Calling' comes to rest, I am in tears. Literally, tears. It's hard to explain - Cam is a dear friend, and knowing how much he has touched my and many other people's lives, both through his work and his quiet friendship, I know hearing this evokes a lot of personal emotions. But also knowing that someone I know so well put together such a awesome (in its truest meaning) suite of songs, with every timbre, note and emotion front and centre - I feel blessed to be able to be a part of it, just as a listener. I'll see you on the other side of the night. Please go pick Seven Days up - and pay for it.

Video Vacuum - Big Ups, Black Vacation, Smile, Food Court, Bad Vision, White Lodge

Lots of people are back at work today. Not me. This post was written and posted last Thursday, my last day of work for a while; I have altered some of the stuff here to make it more "prevalent". Hope it gets you out of the back to work doldrums, for a little while at least...

Big Ups play tomorrow night, which I cannot make because I have my own gig on at The Victoria with Shitwife, Nitkowski and Girl Sweat (not even sorry about the promotion here - seriously, come along, it's a fiver for three of the best bands going around here). I am bummed to miss them - their last album 18 Hours Of Static has been a favourite, and the new one Before A Million Universes looks to be just as good. 'National Parks' has a severe Slint complex in the first half before launching into the Big Ups diatribe that we are more familiar with. The film clip is glossy, with plenty of interpretive dance and a heavy undercurrent of tragedy.

It's been a while since I have seen or heard new stuff from Aussie down-and-outers Black Vacation, but Dan Ford surprised me with this newie. 'For Fear' sees the man with a form of forlorn roto-scoping - an injection of Waking Life into the Melbourne slackersphere. The reverb-heavy vocals can't hide the mourn and malaise, and even animated he remains - well - inanimate. But again, as always, Black Vacation nail it. When's the next release coming out already?

Speaking of inanimate objects/people/faces in Melbourne - Smile have released their video for 'Holiday' featuring a sexy full-size mannequin, getting ready for work, dealing with PPTs and synergy, smashing mid afternoon tins and dreaming of that much-deserved city break. It's a great song, made all the better with the Tim & Eric meets Lynch coda.

Jumping up to Sydney for a bit now with Food Court. 'For The Morning' shows the band in true sporting and synchronized dancing mode - is there anything they cannot do? As you will see, there is quite a lot. Features the best appearance from a bear since The Bear (that one that ripped up Leo is such a poseur...) I love that it comes together (helps when the song rollicks along like a train with Seagal on board), but also looks incredibly half-arsed. Sometimes things work in spite of themselves.

Which brings us back to Melbourne, where Bad Vision take their jauntier punk approach to a house situation that looks classy (look at that stocked bookshelf! is that a clean 4WD in the driveway?), volatile (fusbal fisticuffs!), and jaunty (spinning unbrellas!). These guys are one of the most fun bands in the city, and their upcoming album promises to keep pushing the ante.

And we close out with the VHS stylings of 'Labour of Love' from Gold Coast woozy garage goons White Lodge. Basically this is looking back at the good times, a time capsule compendium of the band's wildness and idiocy. The album is out soon (watch new single 'Bella-Union Creeps' also below) - their stagger assault on the world continues...

Now get back to work!

Hello Again, Summer Flake

Steph Crase continues to bewitch and beguile as Summer Flake on her new album, Hello Friends. Here she is aided and abetted by friends (fellow Batrider Sarah Mary Chadwick features on the album, alongside bandmates Joel Carey (Peak Twins) and Antony Bourmas (Antony Of The Future)), but the end product is solely her, her wistful, languid take on bluesy shadow-tinged pop inflected with her glorious vocals and guitar riffs. From the noir lurk of 'Shoot and Score' that crashes into sonorous languor in 'So Long' to the 90s indie throwback fuzz of 'Wine Won't Wash Away', this album is littered with shimmering gems of soaring inflection and sundrunk daydreams of half-chances, wishes and regrets. Even when taking the acoustic route, like on the sparse haunt of 'Tumbling Down', Crase holds you in thrall. Her vocals offer harmonies that pierce the heart, regardless of their notes of chagrin, weary acceptance or steely resolve. The warmer production here augments her growing confidence in her songcraft and existence at the front of the stage. You probably don't need to hear this from me - bloody Henry Rollins is vocally on board for Chrissakes! - but take it from me, this is a fantastic record. Australia is blessed with some truly stunning and idiosyncratic singer/songwriters - and Hello Friends is proof that Summer Flake is the cream of the crop. Pre-order the album here in lipstick-smeared red vinyl through Rice Is Nice - it is a beauty in every sense.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Hits From The Box #126 - Wild Women

As you may have noticed, there has been a dearth of posts on the blog over the past two weeks. I have been able to get a couple past the bugs of Blogspot, but the majority disappeared or got "frozen" in the blogosphere. Therefore this extended Hits From The Box, which was meant for International Women's Week, got stuck in the mix. Yet we should be celebrating everyone all of the time, right? So here are some female-centric acts that have heated up the airwaves in 2016...

I want to kick off with my favourite of these ten, all great, releases. BREI is the debut release from Dresden trio Brie, a stilted, lurking post-punk pustule, able to create a palpable spark of jaw-clenching tension with so little - infusing space with buzz, and brief wedges of bite - a no-fi Sonic Youth, Electrelane or Raincoats at their most elegantly wasted. It's hard to explain how vitally electrifying this releases is without diving headlong into its languid, lurid waters - I suggest you do so post haste, it's great, once you're in.

Another excellent release is the self-titled LP from Berlin's I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream. Besides naming themselves after the Harlan Ellison sci-fi novel (and the great 90s Sierra-esque video game), the quartet have cornered a sound that takes the percolating reverb-in-velvet sonics of The Cure, the whispered musings of Cocteau Twins, the spiked laconics of Thurston Moore, and the sonorous aesthetics that many late 90s/early 00s Aussie indie rock fans can fall in love with and to (listen to the close-out of 'Shadow' and tell me you don't hear Gaslight Radio/Gersey in there). 'Classic Rock Song' is a mix of all these things with some added Dunedin wist spun in. Seriously, this is a great little release, get all over this ASAP.

Fire Talk are responsibly for putting out No Sense, the 7" from NYC's Scully. It's the kind of pepped up throwback garage pop with Shangri-La shadings that has coloured the aural airwaves with impunity over the past decade, with 'Wave' a melodic chimera, playing both as a Burger blast and a psyched out seduction. With a show with current SM faves Bambara next month and named after the greatest FBI agent in television history (in my humble, red-cheeked opinion), Scully promise to be big.

Another 7" ready to be launched, this time from Melbourne miscreants Cable Ties (love this name, guys). They play with the Sharpies branded-iron-and-VB-grenades blunted intensity, a vocal squall that spits from the past (and more inverted vitriol than the likes of The Donnas could ever muster) and broken guitar solos that bleed fury. They just got covered by one of my favourite music outlets, Raven Sings The Blues, so it won't be long before these bad boys are sold out - get on board and get your arms up - it promises to be all out war.

Los Angeles trio L.A. Witch are already working people up into a lather, even before their debut 7" Drive Your Car hit last month. Playing Burger Records lineups and on the Levitation festival, sharing the stage with The Kills... It helps that their proto-punk grind is truly powerful, the sneers real, the garage rock smeared with reverbed grit and grime. It won't be long before you feel yourself bewitched by this band's barbed charms.

Back to Melbourne now and a decidedly shabbier outfit in Lazertits. Their latest EP Aubergine Dreams is a teetering balance of lo-fi garage punk, simple pretty-yet-plaintive vocals that are decidedly ocker and lyrics that bristle with Aussie euphemisms and barbed brio ('Ladies') and are more than happy tipping their hats to their idols ('Shonen Knife'). It's all silly stuff, sounding sweet while holding an abrasive jeer, ready to gleefully off the rails at any moment.

London's Secret Tongues have just been joined by a new member, Sarah Collins, and 'The Winter Curse' is the first taste of this new direction. There is a hint of autumnal Sonic Youth in the terse bassline that lurks in the shadows here. The distorted vocals towards the end, as the guitar gains some grit and bite, reminds me of Not From There-era Heinz Riegler also. There is a lot to like here - I am expecting this to be the first strike of a new level of creativity from this growing outfit.

Another Brit band in Vukovar here. I have to admit - this band has no female members as far as I know - but the female backing vocals that infiltrate 'The Blood Garden', the precursor to their upcoming second album, are so ebullient that they take these guys to another level altogether. The warm buoyancy accompanies the trio from the calm warm glow to the cathartic rollicking outro, almost like a more calibrated, more insular but no less anthemic Joy Formidable here.

Washington four-piece Big Hush have already sold out their tape Who's Smoking Your Spirit? (out through DZ Tapes) which is a real shame as its scuffed and scaly rock is both of the moment and insidious in its immediacy. Fast-paced shoegaze-laced feral fuzz like this never goes out of style here, but the thumping drums halfway through 'Cold Shoulder' before the acrid guitar break towards the end is something else. They are playing a show with Wildhoney and Expert Alterations at the end of the month - a great way for them to mingle with other excellent likeminded individuals and keep the scabrous fun going. Simply cannot wait to hear more from these guys.

Rounding out this mammoth outing is Spanish outfit Juvenilia, a Spanish quintet that like Aliment or Beach Beach before them love fast-paced garage pop and punk, infused with throwback psyche, Flying Nun nous and their own spices. If you can't hear the Feelies in 'Solaris', for example, you must be deaf - but if you don't throw yourself to it with raw abandon and joy, you must be dead. A brilliant 7" from a brilliant band.

Happy International Women's Day, everyone!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

PREMIERE - 'Bali Hai', a New Track From The Austerity Program Pre-Project Polonium

NB - this post, like the next seven over the next couple days - were all written last week, but a Blogspot fuck-up has kept them hidden away - until now. But it seems fitting that I launch this premiere on Easter Sunday - it's like setting Buzz the Bunny on fire on his birthday. Bon appetit.

One of my all-time favourite EPs - nay, releases - has been Backsliders & Apostates Will Burn by New York two-piece The Austerity Program. It probably isn't even their best effort to date - 2014's Beyond Calculation was delightfully brutal - but the way in which this four-track behemoth grabbed me by the throat and never let go - it was electrifying, a sensation that doesn't dissipate the more I listen to it.

Now the duo are still in a form of hiatus (well, have sequestered themselves into the bowels of the earth). So in lieu of a new album, it is Sonic Masala's absolute pleasure to be airing for the first time 'Bali Hai', a furious cut from the guys' pre-Austerity project, Polonium. How is this new? Simple really - while writing their new record, the duo went back to the original recordings, some ten years ago, and re-recorded them. In the band's words, Polonium was an idea to be a not serious metal band, then got serious, then not serious again. The vocal howls, the double bass drum attacks, the fucked-up time signatures that have become AP staples, started fermenting and congealing in these moments. And the result is ten track behemoth Seraphim, out next month, cross-referencing Bolt Thrower thrashings, Big Business bombast and early Melvins minimalism with seething heat and ground-level anguish - Big Black with busted balls, then. It was originally written by kids in isolation, desperately creating sounds that they themselves couldn't access - now recorded with the brutality and finesse of musicians 20 years their senior (though not necessarily wiser). Seraphim sounds out on paper like a curio, a document of an event that only two people witnessed. Seraphim plays out like a crossroads purging, an aural snapshot of souls being sold, contracts irrevocably signed in blood, shit and tears of laughter. 'Bali Hai' signs off the record and is typically frenetic and wild (and most like AP) - and seeing as it's also the title of a recent Better Call Saul episode, a show whose character arc is foretold (the guy goes to the dark side, regardless of his good intentions) and yet we revel in Saul's struggle with the light and dark parts of his psyche, in both humorous and violent measures - it seems bizarrely apt. Except with Polonium, they turn into The Austerity Program, which is better news for us all. Buy Seraphim here.

Sonic Masala Presents - Twin Haus' Nothing Lavish EP Launch and Australian Tour

Keeping the sporadic posts yet the more together premieres rolling, we have a release here that Sonic Masala is promoting. Nothing Lavish is the second EP from Brisbane band Twin Haus. The four-track release kicks off with the 9 minute long Radiohead-meets-cracked-Cordrazine 'Synthetic Egg' - the building atmospherics buoyed and pierced by the horns is both haunting and hedonistic, a swirling miasma of widescreen asceticism that is breathtaking in its audacity - the final euphoric moments evoking ()-era Sigur Ros. Lofty comparisons there, I know - but this opening track really slapped me in the face with how lavishly confident these boys are. It bleeds into the brooding ASDL stutter and Tortoise sharp sputters of 'Self-Love', spiralling outward into a distorted whitewash at the end of its meticulous two minutes. 'I Used To Think', the lead single, is the most "palatable" of the four tracks - the most obvious signifiers of Twin Haus all present and accounted for. It flitters on the edges of much-missed Sydneysiders Parades, while also offering the slight-psych sheen of early Temper Trap, while closer 'The Revue' is a serpent, slinking through the shimmering confines of their glossy aesthetic, again playing with artistic reverence (Holy Fuck combine with more prosaic psych rock touchstones) and aired avarice, in a double-digit-minute monolith that sounds like the record skips from 33 to 45rpms in the final third. Some seriously awe-inspiring moments on this record - Twin Haus have taken some recognisable, somewhat staid mainstream signposts and woven intricate, somewhat aggressive segues and flourishes around them. These tracks will sound brilliant live, and most of Australia will get the chance to experience this in April and May as they launch on a massive tour, taking in most of the country including plenty of rural outlets. See the artwork and full run of dates below.

Friday, April 1: Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane
Saturday, April 2: Grand Hotel, Bundaberg

Thursday, April 7: Soundlounge, Gold Coast

Friday, April 8: The Helm, Mooloolaba
Saturday, April 9: The Northern, Byron Bay
Thursday, April 14: Oxford Art Factory (Gallery Bar), Sydney
Friday, April 15: The Small Bandroom, Newcastle
Saturday, April 16: Blurst of Times Festival, Brisbane
Wednesday, April 20: Rad Bar, Wollongong
Thursday, April 21: Hotel Steyne, Manly
Friday, April 22: Basement, Canberra
Saturday, April 23: Family Hotel, Katoomba
Thursday, April 28: The Workers Club, Geelong
Friday, April 29: Shebeen, Melbourne
Saturday, April 30: Major Tom's, Kneyton
Thursday, May 5: The Loft, Warrnambool
Friday, May 6: Pririe & Co Social Club, Adelaide
Wednesday, May 11: Four5Nine, Perth
Thursday, May 12: Highway Hotel, Bunbury
Friday, May 13: Dunsborough Hotel, Dunsborough
Saturday, May 14: The Carine, Duncraig 

Nothing Lavish is out today via Bedlam Records.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Holy Fuck, Congrats Tom Tom!

The first time I saw Holy Fuck was at ATP curated by The Breeders. As we were watching them, Kim Deal seemed to part the crowd, and I got to talk to her, if only for a brief moment (to ask her about solo stuff, and Kellie's knitting circle - hot button topics). I raced into the thick of the Canadian band's set and lost my shit. I don't remember many gigs since where I have legitimately danced myself to a sweaty, quivering mess without the aid of a "higher power". (Joints and booze don't count, of course). LP is still a record I listen to incessantly. When I go to the gym (stop laughing) it is right there, pulsing through my head. But can you believe it's been SIX YEARS since their last records, Latin? You don't have to worry though - 'Tom Tom', the new track from the forthcoming Congrats (out through Innovative Leisure), is a little different - the vocals are prominent, if distorted as hell, and the incessant rhythms, while still definitely there, are plodding and futurist militaristic in their insistence. It's barbed with hooks, as per the Holy Fuck way, and promises to stick to my brain like a burr. Can't wait til May to hear Congrats in full!

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

DB @ The Coral Casino

Here is a supergroup worth losing your shit over.  Fearless guitarist John Dieterich (of Deerhoof) and drumming octopi Jeremy Barnes (of Neutral Milk Hotel and A Hawk And A Hacksaw - which he is reviving, by the way!) have joined diabolical forces to release The Coral Casino - an artistic attempt to discover each other's workings and aesthetics through stripping all but rhythm away. Basically - an experiment in finding ways to interpret the other without paying attention to what was happening with the other person - an exercise in intuition, injected with pop nous and kinetic trepidation. What is it like? Try 'Out And About', devoted to Philae, the first satellite to connect itself to a comet - a rhythmic cataclysm, exploding in the Hadron Collider of metronomes, glockenspiels and organ hiccups. If this doesn't get you ready to face the day, nothing will.

Monday, 7 March 2016

PREMIERE - Andrew Tuttle 'Activation'

Inimitable outlier label Room40 had a stellar 2015, celebrating 15 years in the biz with releases and reissues by the likes of Tim Hecker, Norman Westberg and Lawrence English, as well as shows featuring English, Jim O'Rourke, William Basinski and Grouper among many others. They have now dusted off their avant-garde imprint Someone Good, and first cab off the rank is Brisbane ambiance wunderkind (and rabid cricket and Eurovision fan) Andrew Tuttle with Fantasy League, his second "solo" record after shirking his decade long moniker Anonymeye a couple years ago. He has worked with the likes of Matmos, Dan Deacon, Mike Cooper and English in the past, and his recent support track record (

Tuttle continues to extend the notion of creating a bathysphere in manipulated electronica, floating in sonic amniotic fluids, gently oscillating, expanding, a kaleidoscopic changeling, emotions coalescing and morphing at languid increments, the pastel colours breathing, sparks showering down in high-definition slow motion. Fantasy League aims to capture the listener in a phantasmagoria that calms and enraptures, beguiles and bewitches.

Fantasy League is launched next week - you can pre-order it here. Below is an exclusive stream of aural euphoria 'Activation'. Make me a lifelong member, Tutts. Sonic Masala is proud to be hosting Tuttle at the esteemed Cafe OTO Wednesday April 27, support coming from Chris Rainier and Lisa Busby - get tickets here.

Negative Space

I was a massive fan of Demo, a four-track cassette put out by Kent bad boys Negative Space, last year, so much so I added it as one of my favourite releases of last year. They are back, this time in 7" form, with four more killer post-punk tracks. They are chiseling further into the crust of the Earth, striking black gold in vitriol and mutual mutilation - having taken their DNA from DNA and platforming an institution out of Institute, Negative Space are spreading their own desiccated disease. They are playing a show in Brighton March 21, with Diat and Sealings - should be one of the best shows of the year, seriously.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Hits From The Box #125 - Chimped Out

Thank God most of this post was already written before today - I have very little capacity to do anything other than lie around in stasis. I saw Part Chimp last night - and as always they were BRUTAL. Incredibly excellent - still one of my favourite bands - and that rumoured album that they spoke of back in December 2014 is still whispered to be on its way. We can only hope. In the meantime, I need an antidote for the noise blues, so this week I have chosen some acts that might be my aural upper.

LA duo Golden Daze bring a dreamy, sun-spattered psychedelia to their pastoral nostalgia on their eponymous record, an album that is euphoric, entrenched in genre tropes and trappings, yet somehow avoiding the predictability that other bands fall into when embracing the past. LA has all the nostalgic trappings of the Laurel Canyon freak folk flag flyers, but from the BJM drawl of 'Low', the UMO sparkle and fade of 'Never Comin' Back' and the overarching liquidity on interludes like 'Attic' that Amen Dunes adopted for their excellent Love record, Golden Haze is a warm time-capsule without the esoteric, egotistical trappings. Drop in and enjoy.

Summer Twins are also over on the West Coast, but eschew the glittering facade of LA for the inland empire of Riverside. Whether or not this decision and lifestyle echoes throughout their new LP Limbo, but they have crafted a garage pop oasis. Casting aside the garage rock aesthetic that drew them comparisons to Vivian Girls and had Burger Records a-knockin' a few years ago, the new album displays a concerted effort to embrace fidelity and production, expanding their compositions while remaining true to their love of the innate simplicity of guitar pop of the 50s and 60s. This is evident in the wailing fun of 'Demons' and 'Stop & Go'. But then it's tracks like opening noir gambit 'Blinds' and 'Helpless' that truly shine.

I have spoken about Minnesota quartet Brilliant Beast in the past, and they have just returned with new album Dissolve. They are still indebted to the shoegaze wash, but the warmth and melody of guitar pop bubbles effervescently underneath. That doesn't mean they have lost their edge - tracks like the slow-grind 'Adult Sun' to the caterwauling monotone of 'Stockholm 10' maintain the intensity. My favourite track though is closer 'Do You Think You Could Love Me Forever' - the kind of desolate countrified gothic noir that Brisbane band Keep On Dancins specialise in, with added wall of noise. Great stuff.

If you are into your rock getting all frenetic and progtastic, a la Mars Volta (with a bit of muscularity a la And So I Watched You From Afar), Brighton's Poly-Math's new record Melencolia is your drug of choice. Just listen to 'Erekot' - flirting heavily with prog-staples, kicking into some heavy rhythms in the middle, before finding the repetitive thread to ramp up in the home stretch. It's a harsh, meticulous, hypnotic cacophony.

I don't have much on Mateo Katsu as an artist - but 'Don't Forget' has been stuck in my mind like a burr all week. We head back to LA, and Katsu is a familiar head around there, tipping his hand in a bunch of acts. This track is a play at a chugging rock number that he calls an "dumb little rock song with an actual Hammond organ". Don't forget to forget/If you remember everything, you'll just get upset." Straight up knowledge, right there.

A rollicking mainstay on the Sydney rock scene, The Holy Soul is a great place to end off today. Their new album Fortean Times (produced by The Drones' Gareth Lilliard) swings from arms-slung-over-shoulders pub rock ('Systems & Machines') to party punk rock'n'roll of the Swami/Burger persuasion ('Alone Party') to Pere Ubu guitar wail mayhem ('There's A Hair On The Soap'). The warped Hawkwind psych permeating 'History Pt II' meanwhile is a lot of mind-melting fun.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Island Fears Forever

It's been a while, but Brighton band Fear Of Men have finally resurfaced, announcing sophomore record Fall Forever (pre-order it through Kanine Records in gold vinyl with a extra cassette here). The new taste of it, 'Island', is a sonorous, cavernous pop bliss bomb, Jessica Weiss' vocals soaring over the shimmering wash and kinetic pattering drums, a song of comfort amidst loneliness, an epiphany of needing the embrace and lead of another to take control in a relationship, or indeed of one's own life. It is over so quickly, a fleeting yet warming re-introduction. It's been a while since I embraced music of this ilk (maybe Globelamp? Or the less melancholic moments of Veronica Falls?), yet 'Island' hits home.

Saturday, 5 March 2016


Still feeling the blues? Let's see if Future Of The Left can shatter them. They have followed up the spiked 'The Limits of Battleships' with the brilliantly monikered 'If AT&T Drank Tea What Would BP Do?' in the leadup to their album The Peace & Truce of Future Of The Left and a UK tour, both in April. Again the bass is so fat, a Sherman tank rolling, roiling and destroying, pure propulsion with total control. Again, the drumming pummel and punish. Again, Falkous is seething out of the corner of a cracked smirk and deadened eyes. Barbed cynicism in a cyanide pill - pre-order the album here. Future Of The Left are playing Electric Ballroom April 21 - get tix for that here.

Logical Dreamlike Explosions In The Wilderness

Today is miserable in old London town, so I thought I would double down on two masterful acts releasing new records in anticipation of new albums this year. First up is Texan gods Explosions In The Sky. They have already released a feverish first track in 'Disintegration Anxiety' which hinted at a change of pace. 'Logic Of A Dream' is more EITS in its anthemic majesty, although there is a sonorous wash that bleeds into a Beatles-esque orchestral spiral and fluttering militaristic drums to the first third of the track here that certainly continues this push into weirder territory. And also continuing with their film clips being subtly changing photographs - how change bleeds incrementally yet irrefutably forth. Both tracks feature on the band's forthcoming album The Wilderness (pre-order here - you can get your own mug or slipmat too if you want!) and their Euro tour, where they play the Royal Albert Hall April 25. Yeeeeeeeeeees.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Friday Cover Up - Rats Ride Over This Velvet Morning

Dutch post punks Rats On Rafts brought out an excellent record last year in the form of Tape Hiss. They blew me away in their support slot for Blank Realm at Shacklewell Arms, and continue to impress on new 7" Some Velvet Morning/Last Day On Earth. Their cover of Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra is pretty much a ROR special - a chugging, squalling psych purge with added distorted and haunted vocals. It's absurd and disturbing, and pretty brilliant. They play the Moth Club in Hackney this Sunday, as part of a supergroup that includes the mighty Pere Ubu, before returning in their usual guise supporting PU at Tufnell Park Dome, March 24 and a straight-up set on their own at Lock Tavern on the 26th. Get on board, and while you're at it get your copy of the 7" through Fire Records here.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

PREMIERE - Nausea's "Siren" Video

Nausea is Andrew Dalziell, one third of Melbourne goth brooders Tangrams, released a solid solo EP last year in the form of Siren. Today we are premiering the video for that title track, recorded while Dalziell travelled around the US by Chris Carlone. He stands, crawls, lies in the foetal position, a tortured Christ figure, fidgeting under duress, overlaid with flickering self-images, swirling VHS colour streams, interlaced fingers, star bursts. A true outlier, neither in the shadows nor in the sky, a mesmeric purgatory of vision and sound, those piercing eyes left to sink and to save. You can grab the EP here, and watch the beguiling video below.