Saturday, 29 August 2015

Laurel's ZodiaK

Sydney shoegaze psychos The Laurels are back with a new lineup and a new song. Jasper from Decoder Ring has stepped in for Kate Wilson; and 'Zodiac K' is the first taste of the new Laurels (or any Laurels for a number of years). It's a bit of a weird, sinuous number, focusing heavily on samples, effects-shrouded vocals and a lazy, hazed groove throughout. It's a complicated hit, shirking the more shoegazey aesthetics from their hit album Plains for something more freeforming and experimental, floating in the freak paisley psych realm (which you could say Perth band Pond resides in; it isn't a surprise to see ex-Tame Impala/current-Pond Nicholas Allbrook co-touring with the band this month). It will be interesting to see where the guys head next, that's for sure.

Ghastly Obsessive Gutter Spats

The cover art and title for Sydney post-punks Ghastly Spats LP Spinozism Exorcism is a little misleading. Death/thrash metal from the bowels of Hell. Ghastly Spats ain't that. That said, 'Obsessed' is still a diseased gutter rock number, the drum smashing like shattering plates onto aluminium, the guitars feed back, swirl in their own desiccated Cramped cesspit, bass lurching along, part jaunty, party stalker, vocals barked, ripped out of the lungs. It's almost industrial in its white-noise disregard and fatalism. Brutal yet gurning scuzz fun for all (read: none) of the family. Grab the LP here.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Haunted Youth

Manchester's The Underground Youth's penchant for dark, brooding, cavernous rock is fully displayed on new album Haunted (out through Fuzz Club Records next week). There is a Gothic post-punk swoon to 'Collapsing Into Night', feeling pitched headlong into the shadows of 80s monochrome despair. This bleeds into a more plaintive title track, a faster disco beat augmenting the shift in tone (or variant thereof), before the wall of fuzz cascades on 'Dreaming Of Maya Deren'. The album continues to lurk in these black-and-white realms, but it's the spaces in between that holds the hypnotism - the quiet hiss and throb that opens 'Drown In Me' or 'Slave''s fizzing electric surges, the operatic fade in on tracks like 'The Girl Behind'. It is a melodramatic mantra, melodies that mesmerise. Haunted indeed.

King Khan Invades His Hurtin' Class

It's Friday, so let's kick out the funk, King Khan style! The hard-working garage titan is bringing out a soundtrack score to a film called The Invaders through his brand spankin' new label, Khannibalism (which looks to be focusing on unearthing unique albums such as a William S Burroughs spoken word album), and here is a great taster in 'Hurtin' Class'. The song features the mighty Ian Svenonius (Nation of Ulysses, Chain & the Gang). And if you don't start start singing along to "you belong to the hurtin' claaaaaaaas..." (even just in your head) and sliding around on the floor - then you might need your pulse checked. Grab the 7" here.

No Apologies For Circular Keys

Bedroom Suck Records has had a brace of strong releases the past few months (with Blank Realm almost upon us too), one of which is Sorry! from Melbourne duo Circular Keys. It's a nebulous lo-fi electronic fare, Phillipa O'Shea's ethereal yet powerful vocals poured over Dennis Santiago's percolating, rippling guitar, reverb and lysergic beats keeping everything moving at a psychotropic saunter (especially on 'Child (Eurogrand)'). The title track is cut up in lurching syncopation, a dub-centric loop, with O'Shea soaring above it all across the room, booming forth like Tune-Yards' Merrill Garbus, a lusty belting vocal that echoes across genres and eras. There is a shimmering mystery to Sorry!, making the tracks both entrancing and held back behind a synthetic regalia - a track like 'Eyes' becoming a dream flickering out of a 1960s wood panel television into a darkened room, velvet curtains muting the walls... Drugged dreampop from another world, another future. It is all so strange, and oh so beautiful. Grab Sorry! here.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Border Kenny Fetish

Liam Kenny is prepping another attack on the senses. Having explored the musical cover artform on his A Kenny For Your Thoughts project last year, the Bitch Prefect/Peak Twins/et al musician is punching out his first solo record under his own name. Called The White Man Is Oppressor, it promises to be pretty gnarled and visceral, if first taste 'Border Fetish' is anything to go by (which, due to his chameleonic back catalogue, isn't much - this album could be anything). A chugging, snarling punk sprawl, Kenny sneering as he garishly cuts into the psyche of the white Australian male. As hard and harsh as Cobwebbs at their most insane, 'Border Fetish' circles around the blood in the water, scraping metal distortion back and forth, a chaotic oscillation, with Kenny coughing, grunting, spitting and snarling. An attack on the privileged platform that he himself is inherently a part of, The White Man Is Oppressor is going to be an acerbic, bitter punk pill to gnash on - and one that was desperately in need of being made. You will be able to get the album through Eternal Soundcheck, but until then, hit Play and self-flagellate.

My Severe King Disco


One of my all time favourite bands, My Disco, are preparing to release Severe, their 4th LP and first record since Little Joy back in 2011. And first cut 'King Sound' sounds so much darker than I was anticipating! They have never been a joy and light band by any stretch of the imagination, but the almost industrial edge this minimalist marching dirge holds is a colder shade of black. I guess the album is called Severe for a reason, right? Their tightly-coiled precision and roiling mantras are blasted out into a darker space here - rather than controlled aggression, we have something more abject, more uncomfortable, more disturbing. I'm reminded of the creeping unease that I felt when watching the victims' demise in the great film Under The Skin last year - but something baser, more nihilistic is at play here. In short - I'm fucking excited for this record.

Pre-order Severe from Temporary Residence here - first 200 copies are clear with black smoke swirl - NICE.

Sun Crashes Down On Kitchen's Floor

Since 'Resident Dregs' hit the air with brute force earlier this year, I have been waiting eagerly for the release of Kitchen's Floor's new record, brilliantly titled Battle Of Brisbane. And now we have a track off it, 'Sundowner', and it is immediately my favourite Kitchen's Floor cut I have ever heard (although other recent track 'Resident Dregs' is bloody good too). A take on the death-march dirge, the song shows the adherence to a fuller, harsher sound, eschewing the scrappy aesthetics of previous recordings for something much more full-blooded and aggressive. It is no less raw though; the track bristles with spittle-flecked venom, an acknowledgement of how bad things have gotten, howling like a wounded beast. But there is an unabashed roar of despair and disgust to Kennedy's vocals that feels like all of the desperation of the last few years is hurling forth in a molten morass of internal and external frustrations, a mottled war cry against the pricks, real and implicit. If this is the kind of impassioned fury we can come to expect from the album, the Battle of Brisbane promises to be bloody.

Pre-order Battle of Brisbane through Bruit Direct Disques here. Kennedy is doing the solo run through Europe in September - catch him at London's Shacklewell Arms Wednesday September 16.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Hecker & Griswold In Room40

Continuing on from Andrew Tuttle, one of his many jobs is working for Lawrence English's imprint Room40, which is still celebrating its fifteenth year in existence with some great releases of its own. First of all we have the inimitable Tim Hecker, who will be released this limited edition 7" of the singular track Apondalifa as part of the reissue of the two releases he has done on the label (the other being 2007's Norberg EP). 'Apondalifa' has only been available as a download too, so it will be its first airing as a physical entity. Which is pretty exciting, as the circular undulating guitarwork, the scratching on the metal strings, should resonate in vinyl form I feel. Pre-order Norberg/Apondalifa here.

The other exciting release is Pain Avoidance Machine, the new piece by American-Australian outre composer Erik Griswold. It's an intriguing yet invigorating listen - Griswold's unique take on utilising the piano means that the plinking, hammering and caressing all seem disparate yet warmly familiar at the same time. His compositions (listen to 'Pale Yellow Frontier' below) sound electronic, constructed by synthetic means - rather, it is taking the piano at all angles, making it a polyrhythmic world of its own. You can buy this on CD here.

Heligatoring In With Andrew Tuttle

Brisbane's own electroacoustic dapper gent Andrew Tuttle is the latest artist to provide a track to the Heligator cause, which has included the likes of Braeyden Jae, Landing, Stag Hare and Clipd Beaks amongst many others (and if you haven't heard one of the first tracks, by Lake Mary and Nathan Wheeler, do yourself a favour and get it now). Heligator Records puts the funds made on all digital sales towards the continuous funding of the Malindza Refugee Camp Library in Swaziland, an incredibly worthwhile cause. Tuttle's effort is '177', his first track that focuses primarily on guitar work for some time. It still includes his preoccupations with echoing meditation, creating a chrysalis of rustic chiming chords and effects that cascade around and through you - which means it is beautiful. Definitely head over and support this worthwhile cause, and get you some rare and exciting experimental music while you're at it.

Held Over And Over At The Sunset Club

Melbourne's The Sunset Club are prepping for their first physical release real soon, and here is a taste from it. Frontman Dougie Arnott was a great help for this year's Sonic Masala Fest, helping us out over the weekend with gruntwork and positive vibes, and the band opened the Pre-Sonic Masala show at The Bearded Lady alongside Tape/Off, Turnpike and Dead Farmers. The two tracks here are punchy, both evoking the 90s guitar rock that proliferated the land and more brooding, propulsive fare as seen on B-Side 'Over & Over', with Arnott's howl taking you by the throat. Solid stuff.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Hits From The Box #111 - Shattered iDreams

I realised this week that Sonic Masala relies so much on my iPhone. I realised this because my iPhone hit the bathroom tiles a little too hard and is now out of action. On the bus, at work, over a pint in the pub, I do a lot of groundwork/correspondence/idea-crunching for all facets of SM. Bizarre to think I resisted upgrading from my trusty Nokia brick right up until 2011. First world problems I guess... Anyway here are six bands that have been fuelling the fires...

BLiNDNESS is a loud shoegaze-centric trio out of London who released debut album Wrapped In Plastic through Saint Marie Records. It's a sonic blast that comes from Debbie Smith of Curve and Echobelly, a dark shivering slithering beast of a record.

Chile is a band that has become synonymous with some solid psych rock over the past few years, what with The Holydrug Couple and Follakzoid in their midst. Maff bring the intoxication and squall on their self-titled album. Mirroring the likes of The Jesus & Mary Chain ('Walking On Fire') and injecting it with infectious indie rock ('Million Year Picnic'), Maff is a continuous gift of sonorous highs.

Here is a great little oddity out of my hometown of Brisbane. Lucid Dreamtime is a apocryphal minor masterwork from Howling Cloud, a one-man sonic explorer who marries field recordings, world music mantras and Eastern desert drawl to create a sonic afterlife, scoring a mystic journey through the looking glass. Twelve minute Opening cut 'Enter The Everywhen' is particularly stunning, but the spacious dreaming of 'Acid Rain' and the swirling drone of 'Deadman Dreaming' are great also.

A totally different pace now with San Francisco rockers Void Boys, whose Glamorpus release blasts forth with barbed hooks and growling pop heft. The four-piece supported Screaming Females recently and this says a lot about what they are about. The bass is heavy and driving, the guitars propulsive, yet there is a vivacious positivity that shines throughout, in no small part to Shannon Bodrogi's vocals. They have quieter moments, such as the building 'Culling Song', but Void Boys are best when they let everything go like on aggressive opener 'Bruxism' or the explosive pop underpinning 'Starfish'.

Nottingham punks Soul Structure have a desperate belter in The Body Of Man, a heady invective that wastes no time punching in all directions. It's a fairly sparse production, with some sinewy precise guitarwork and breakneck drumming, and it plays well into the sudden breaks in direction and pace. Each song is fidgety, refusing to stay in one groove, even spitting venom can suddenly halt without warning. This unpredictability lends The Body of Man its pent-up urgency.

I'm gonna pull up stumps with listening to New Zealand's Lowlands, a gauzy lo-fi drifting dream. I don't know much about the act, but Lowlands holds firm in its slowburn, a brooding echo-laden pop paralysis, a cavernous contemplation of hopes and dreams, revelling in the dronal netherspaces and found sounds of an arctic otherworld. Lilting and arresting, I want more of this bedroom emancipation as it invades my senses.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Trading Palm

The sketchy, hypnotic sworl of 'Crank' has held me in its thrall all day today. It is the new track from New York band Palm from their upcoming debut album Trading Basics (out through Exploding In Sound Records Inflated Records - pre-order it here). It starts off spiralling harshly out of control a la the downturned bends of Per Purpose; but once 'Crank' finds its groove it reminds me more of a energetic Tortoise, jettisoning the jazz overtones for a Sargent House-brand metallic deconstruction, but softened by the lilting vocals of Eve Alpert. It's a intriguing and intoxicating mix, and come November Trading Basics will be anything but.

Brisbane's Detonic Blessings

Detonic Recordings is lumbering out of slumber with their sixth release. The catch? You can only get it at The Bearded Lady in Brisbane on Friday August 28! What is it? Just a mixtape of some of the best wild electronic sounds to come out of the synthetic corners of the world for the last little while. Detonic is putting on the show that features mnttab, Yaws, Spirit Bunny, Wolf Shield and Corporate Vibes. It's wild. Favourites? Obviously love Yaws' contribution 'Regression', and have always loved me some mnttab and Spirit Bunny - but I also loved the garish nature of Corporate Vibes' 'Bass Strait', the sexy grind of Italian duo Schonwald's 'Slow Milk' and the post-everything romanticism of Happy Plastic Cup's closing track. It's all pretty great though (Celiac's Simple Minds cover and Prison's 'Kundle' are good too - ah, just go listen to it!)

But as you will see, the d/l is nigh on impossible to afford, so GO TO THE SHOW ON FRIDAY! Get on it! GO! GOOOO! 

Monday, 24 August 2015

Sealings Are Devilishly Noisy Bastards

When I was hunting around London for a new alternative for pressing records for Sonic Masala Records earlier this year, I hung out a bit at The Carvery, a small unit out of Hackney. They are responsible for the great-quality vinyl output that has become the Faux Discx seal of approval. And while I was there, I got a chance to listen to the new Sealings record that had just come in that day. The Brighton noiseniks have crafted an abrasive pill that you will definitely want to swallow. An aural assault (with Mike Young mastering to boot), AND it's called I'm A Bastard - what more can you want? Order it here. They launch the album Friday September 18 at Shacklewell Arms alongside The Worms and The Bomber Jackets - free show too.

Triple Obnox Treat

One of my favourite albums of last year was Louder Space, the gazillionth album from Bim Thomas, this time in his solo guise Obnox. The guy is a gargantuan maelstrom of music, so it should come as no surprise that so far in 2015 he has already followed it up with puntastic Boogalou Reed, the garrulous fun of Know America, and the forthcoming Wiglet (through Ever/Never Records).

Boogalou Reed is more flat out, scuzzed up guitar punk with 70s psych rock riff leanings - the opening two songs, instrumental 'Wonder Weed' and ballsy 'Cynthia Piper At The Gates Of Dawn', sound like a smoked rock jam and an MC5 acolyte respectively. The hip-hop riffs are largely missing here, but their absence doesn't make this any less an Obnox record - its his enthusiasm, devilish combustion and confident swagger. And that explosive guitar. And his cheek - calling a blown-out 60s garage number 'Too Punk Shakur' says it all. But he spreads the net even further afield - 'Situation' sounds like Dean Blunt in a RnB/rock meltdown; the noise rock fuckstorm that is closer 'Protopipe'; and in a truly melting performance, he delivers one of the best covers I have heard in forever with his version of Neil Young's 'Ohio' - and seeing as Neil is my man, that makes Bim my man, too.

Then hot on its heels was Know America, a "concept" album about a radio station takeover. And it is electrifying. 'Grease' has an Outkast groove, if they scuffed up their beats with layers of dirt and grime and took wholeheartedly to a punk aesthetic. 'Cracked Up' is even more straight up punk, threatening to blow your speakers with white bleed and backed-up feed. It is ferocious in its sound and approach, and that is what Obnox is all about - it is all genuine, 100% honest, with nothing left on the line. 'Menocause' slows things down, Thomas' falsetto a softer timbre, wavering in and out of a sea of chiselled distortion. 'Loudpack' grinds as it grooves, following Thomas' hip-hop-via-hendrix delivery with a few choice guitar wails and a plethora of random noises. This jump back and forth in styles and production levels (although never crystalline) heightens the concept while allowing his creative whirling dervish to spin around unabated. There is one moment of defiant cultural awareness on 'Hillbilly Intervention' - although playing at a skit-level - seems to present the racist juxtaposition of white men in rock appropriating black music then monopolising it, a broad strokes caricature but also a subversive fingers-up salute to naysayers. Maybe I'm reading too much into it - and when 'Freaky' blasts forth, at any rate, everyone knows that this is Bim's house.

So with two incredible records already in 2015, what does Wiglet (which you can and should preorder here) promise? First cut 'Look To The Sun' is a blown-out dirge, a two-minute crawl through the distorted abyss, Bim's slow, drawled croon narcoticised and blasted. It sounds as furious as ever, and promises to be a third tilt in the one year to claim my favourite album. Obnox is the goddamn TRUTH.

Hellish Highlife Made

I have to say I am a little confused by Making... I was pretty sure the Sydney trio were breaking up. But seems I was (thankfully) entirely wrong, as they release their new LP Highlife next month through Trait Records. I have been a fan of theirs since hearing their excellent self titled EP and this lives up to the long expectations. The first track that really grabs me is the fourth track on the album, 'Come To Me' - it has that My Disco brooding pendulum rhythm and clipped/barked monosyllabic vocal approach, but then it explodes into something altogether more gnarled and corrosive. 'Zs' also fits into this vein, although there is a heavier metallic expulsion here that pushes them into noisier terrain. 'Dream Job' lurches forth, a metallic monster, deliberately unsettled and unsettling, serrated and scabrous, forcing the bile into the back of the throat. Then 'Amazon' has a more sinuous groove inherent, something Battles might produce without all the theatrics; 'Pascal' has moments of reflection in the middle third that allows for the pummelling bookends to smash forth with more controlled venom; and the psychotropic freneticism of the closing title track is the weirdest yet most cathartic song on the album. It does take the foot off the neck a bit, so to speak, and it is essentially what enlivens Highlife and makes those moments of black tension and white-hot release so potent. The production is powerful and precise too, thanks to Ivan Lisyak (Narrow Lands, Tanned Christ) and Lawrence English.

Preorder Highlife here - it's a corker. Making hit the road in Australia to launch the album on these dates (which also features Sonic Masala Records band Danyl Jesu in the mix!):

5th September - Crowbar Brisbane

11th September - Black Wire Records, Sydney 
w/Marcus Whale (LIVE), Mere Women + BV (connect the dots)

12th September - The Public Bar, Melbourne 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

A Parallel Woodsman's Mind Is Better Than Most

I've had my ears blast six ways from Sunday this weekend with the brutal Wyrdout Fest roster up in Dalston. And now that it is Sunday - I still have someway to go with Helms Alee finishing the whole thing off tonight at Birthdays. So I need something to find my equilibrium - and here it is. SM faves Woodsman have been prolific at writing songs for the studio that end up not making the "feel" they want for the finished record (their Teleseparation EP after they released Woodsman in 2013 is a perfect case in point). Here is another offcut - and 'Parallel Minds (Reprise)' is yet another example that their mesmeric castoffs are better than most bands' A-game. An undulating euphoric dream, the instrumental is the perfect dream-zone cocoon I need to ensconce myself in, to recuperate and to recover to face another day. Woodsman have just repressed their self-titled record should have their fourth record ready for the New Year, cannot wait!

Someone In The Major Leagues, Sometime

Brisbane mellow guitar pops Major Leagues have punched above their weight again with 'Someone Sometime', a dreamy mid-pacer that slips through the less pastiche elements of HAIM and the melodic euphoria of Screamfeeder under a prism of sepia-toned yearning. It's an incredibly addictive song and a great introduction onto the Popfrenzy roster, with an EP (their follow-up to Weird Season a couple years ago) in the works.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Firing Up The Propane Heaters

I have been meaning to write about Michigan psych rockers Heaters for some time now - since March in fact, when they were prepping their Mean Green 7" (I was in Australia prepping the second SM Fest though so I missed the boat). The trio are releasing their album Holy Water Pool on the great Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records in September (I have featured heaps of their roster on Sonic Masala, most recently Sundays & Cybele and Kikagaku Moyo), and here is a cut off it. 'Propane' is a propulsive garage psych rock blast, rollicking along and ricocheting off the hallowed hallways of Spiritualized, Black Angels and 13th Floor Elevators with gritted teeth and a feverish shine to the eyes.