Thursday, 2 October 2014

Metronomic Time Keeping

One of Australia's newest and most intriguing labels is it Records, mining the experimental outliers of electronic pop excess (see: White Hex, A Kenny For Your Thoughts). Now they bring to our attention a newer label, Nice:NOISE (curated by it's Kate Reid, Dual Planet and Jenny Branagan from NUN), which aims to go even further in mining the depths of, to quote the crew, "the best in electronic squelches, squeals, analogue hums and various fodder." This could mean a hodgepodge of avant-garde alchemists, but with the first release it feels like there is a educated stab at bringing missed opportunities into the refracted spotlight. Time Keeping 1979-1985 is a compilation from Melbourne minimal wave trio The Metronomes, and it's an album that showcases both a hazed approach to synth malaise, the end result a languid, vaguely sinister unravelling of synthetic minds and spirits. My pick - 'A Living Person'. Pre-order it here.

Michael's Gone Gold Class

Here is yet another "new" Australian band to take in and be excited about. I remember seeing the name Gold Class on a poster for a Sunday School show at the Public Bar in Melbourne, I think in April or May? But never really cottoned on to them - and it seems I've really been missing out. Listening to the Michael/Gone release, I have this weird conflicted notion that I've somehow wedged The Smiths' Meat Is Murder and Wire's 154 into the same piece of 7" wax. Adam Curley's baritone does hold some of that Morrissey moan, but the cutting guitar and insistent rhythms does recall his cohorts; whilst the tapered aggression that simmers under the surface evokes Colin Newman et al at the more measured. It is all decidedly dark hued and downer (Brit)pop, which alone lends it an unique place on the current Australian music milieu, but Gold Class exude a sense of literate sensibility that is also very exciting. I can't wait to hear more from the four-piece.

Gold Class release the 7" next month. You can catch them in Brisbane on Fri 24 October at The Bearded Lady (supported by Dag) and the following night at Trainspotters (with Multiple Man and Per Purpose serving props). These will be excellent shows - get along.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A Civil Civic Marriage With Moore

Let's turn the lights down low this evening - reeeeal low. That crazy hybrid instrumental duo Civil Civic now how to grind out a groove, and have upped the ante by including perennial DIY  R Stevie Moore into the mix for new track 'When You Gonna Find Me A Wife?'. It's definitely a Civil Civic song, but with Moore's demanding lyrics for marriage and the whole nine yards, albeit at a breakneck, lurid pace. What more could you want or need? Nothing. Well, I do declare...

Civil Civic have a new album out soon - cannot WAIT.

Video Vacuum - Yes I'm Leaving, Mesa Cosa, Cobwebbs, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, USA Nails

I don't know about you, but today is a drag. Let's punch through the walls with some raucous noise coupled with stupid visuals!

Yes I'm Leaving have inexplicably built up a true head of steam with the incumbent launch of 3rd LP Slow Release. I'm not saying it is unwarranted - far from it; I have maintained everywhere, including this here blog, that the Sydney trio are one of the best live acts in Australia and have been for the past couple years. But just seeing these guys in reviews and post on US music sites has been a bit of a weird notion - I mean, they still are lucky to pull ten punters to shows in their hometown! Well people better start taking notice, because they are brilliant. Aren't sold? If the nightmare/hilarity of 'Fear' doesn't hook you, you are probably dead (at least to me).

Mesa Cosa is another band that are slaying the stages across Australia, although their brand of rock is certainly more party friendly. The Melbourne garage wild boys have launched into the zombie zeitgeist with latest track 'Creepy' - well, hordes of pantyhose-wearing acolytes anyway. It's stupid and awesome in equal measure, and the bulk of noise that comes out of  the backend of this band is truly felt here. 

It always feels like self-promotion nowadays when I talk about a band that has released material through Sonic Masala Records - but things need to be seen (and heard) to be believed with Brisbane's Cobwebbs. Having just released their second album WORLD WIDE WEBBS through our label (on 12" orange vinyl no less, and now at much more affordable digital prices), the dudes have just come away from a support slot with Iceage and a Sydney show alongside another group that should be on everyone's radar at the moment, Exek. Here is the decidedly batshit crazy video for second single 'Easy', filled with everything that makes Cobwebbs tick - airplane interiors, fast cars, Dubai, models, and bad CGI, amongst other snatch grabs of brain-frying ephemera. The world we live in, eh?

Who wants some 60s B-movie 3D? King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have you covered. The latest clip for new track 'Cellophane' has a bored night in front of the idiot box transformed by psychedelic robed hippy red-blue-yellow madness - there's fuzzy lines! There's gold chains! There's flying! The last couple of seconds are amazing too. A great all round trip.

I'm  finishing with USA Nails because, well, this band just slipped into my slipstream this morning. 'Sometimes I'd Rather See It All' has a clip that feeds into its title, which is always an added bonus. The strobes, the sliding blood, the interfered-with facial close-ups - it's all disconcerting. The London band (really) play out like a more crystallised A Place To Bury Strangers - something I am extremely excited about. Hopefully you are too.


Too Many Cassettes For This Sad Horse Town

I was not expecting to hear an album like Purple On Purple Makes Purple come out of the Field Hymns stable, but then again the label aim to surprise, forever throwing curveballs at the ears. Sad Horse may not fit the nebulous electronic weirdnik mold that Field Hymns often champion - this kind of slacker punk maelstrom is more suited to angular destructions than 8-bit eargasms - but on the strength of this album anyone would be stupid not to have put this out... The Portland duo have been compared to some heavyweights such as The Stooges, Pavement and Sleater-Kinney - all with misnomers of course (on Ritalin, with a sense of humo(u)r, etc etc), but the label itself gets the one-two punch combo right by saying that Purple On Purple Makes Purple has shades of Pussy Galore in its garish DNA, exploding in a "controlled sense of fuckall and abandon." Now before you start to throw the lazy writing what the bio states flag at me, I will say this - Sad Horse slay me, with fourteen sub-two minute slabs of barb(ed)iturate wails and loose-limbed flailing and laughing - on the inside and in your face. 'You Are Idiots' is probably my favourite slice of Sad Horse pie, but it is all delicious, if somewhat destructive to your health and sense of well-being. I'm heading back for seconds.

Purple On Purple Makes Purple is cassette only - put out for Cassette Store Day - and limited to 100, which is frankly dumb - this should be littering everyone's bedroom floor, preferably by the thousands. Get it here while you can - and put it out on vinyl already.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Cracking the Veneer Of September Girls

Irish brooders September Girls brought out the beguiling Cursing The Sea at the beginning of the year, but we have something new already, with whispers of an EP not far off. The first taste is 'Veneer', and it's a spike in the arm. There is a dirgey bassline playing as a cursed undercurrent here, lending a dangerousness to the five-piece's sound that has only ever been hinted at before now. I was not only surprised by this new release, but blown away by the sinister confidence that oozes out of every pore here. A great track that still holds the staple harmonies while hardening and baring teeth.

Veneer will be out through Kanine/Fortuna Pop! in November - can't wait.

Hits From The Box #86 - Addicted To Top Eleven

I thought I would use this open medium to launch an intervention on myself. You see, I have an addiction. It's pretty bad - I cannot go a day without my Top Eleven. What is that? It is a football management game on iPhone. I don't even particularly like it. But I can't help checking, training, trading, scouting, playing...managing... I even dream about it sometimes, as if I am being interviewed at a post match conference. It's weird - it even interrupts going to the pub. This compulsion has to end. Even playing Solitaire must be better than this... SO here are six tracks to take me out of the depths of app addict despair...

Raucous Sydneysiders The Nuclear Family have released this great self-titled EP that keeps poking the hornet's nest of malcontent. Seriously, what with Yes I'm Leaving, Narrow Lands, Tanned Christ, Sour Cream - there are a lot of anger and gnashing of teeth in the city (albeit with a heady helping of sardonic wit mixed right in). The six songs here are frenetic, abrasive, and clenched jaw, full-throttle fun. I want moooooooooooore.

'Body Chores' is a track that disconcerts in its passive-aggression and hooded lids. The band - Alpha Maid, a trio out of London - have the off-kilter, discordant brood in check, and the sneered vocals hold things almost together before the noise comes to the fore in the last thirty seconds. But when it does, it isn't in a sordid squall, but an almost funereal moment of release. It's got the Soundgarden sound of darkness to the riffs too - this isn't Thayil wails, but the intent is purposeful and delightfully frightening.

The downward slide continues with the melodic doom of Funeralbloom, an Austin band that toys with the melodic instrumental rock seam that runs so prolifically through its population. This is much heavier fare though - whilst four-track album Petals denotes austerity and beauty, it comes from cathartic brutality and epochal release. The screams and roars come from the shadowed depths, wavering in and out of spoken word and Bauhaus-moans - it's an intriguing and ultimately darkly hypnotic mix.

There has been a bit of a bloom in music filtering out of Tel Aviv over the past twelve months, so it's good to see what music is coming to life there. Memory In Plant is a trio of strong minded musicians, that use the exploration of time and space to create altered states of aural arrest. The result is the epically eclectic An Epic Triumph, which alternates from the Archers of Loaf-esque of 'This Love' to the spiralling grind of...'This Love' the stadium heavy metal of...'This Love'...what? There is such a degree of inventive playfulness in just a song, let along the entire album, that has one both energised and scratching their head. Like Menomena after taking the red pill, then... Definitely worth dropping out in this Israeli psychedelic pop nightmare.

Still clawing ourselves to the light here... So we need to pop some of these holy rollers. Colorado trio Gleemer's Holyland USA release plays out like a gauzy drift through Frank Black's more lurid moments - what he might have done with his solo career if he followed a trajectory more similar to that of Lockett Pundt's Lotus Plaza perhaps? 'Weekend Sisters' is particularly great, but the whole release has those warm tones that float through the soul.

Let's finish with Bummer, who actually carry links to last week's HFTB alums Young Jesus. The five piece feature members of that Chicago outfit, and some semblance of their guitar rock echoes through Bummer's self-titled EP (out through Toblerone Sunrise Records). My favourite track off Bummer is the opening gambit 'wayisound', that holds the kind of complicated guitar growl that the likes of Pat Stickles (Titus Andronicus) spews forth in his sleep. It's a killer track, and a good way to kick the habit.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Mirroring Martyr Privates


There's going to be a nasty rumour going round soon that I am in Martyr Privates, such is the blanket love I have given their debut album of late. Having written the review of it for both The Music in Australia and The Quietus in the UK, suffice to say that I am a fan. Not much else needs to be said that I haven't already written. That said, I thought Id fling a couple sentences together to try and explain why I like it. Because Martyr Privates is in some ways derivative; in other ways wholly unimaginative. Because opinion is so subjective, it seems apt yet also trite for me to say that their influences are fine when I often lambast other bands for wearing their influences so blatantly and carefree. The difference here is the playability factor. When I first listened to the album I thought the Brisbane trio of Cam Hawes, Ashleigh Shipton and Sam Dixon had captured their live persona well, but it was still that heady pastiche of downer rock and shoegaze space oddity that made them familiar and yet innately alien, at least on the Australian music scene. But the more I listened to tracks like 'You Can't Stop Progress' and 'Something To Sell' I realised the influences that came to bear - Kitchens Floor, Spiritualized, The Black Angels, Spacemen 3 - were just as refracted from the worldview of the trio. Martyr Privates is dipped liberally in the shoegaze psych mould, but it isn't a part of such wide-ranging genres either. As elegantly wasted as 'Rope & Tarp' is, this is a Hawes original, not a Pierce cast off; as much as 'Somebody's Head' lurks in the shadows of the Passover of The Black Angels, they aren't squatting at the foot of the table scrounging for scraps. There is a otherworldly vibrancy and dour desperation that always stands at loggerheads within the band - the engine forcing the machine forward yet refusing to make allegiances easy. It won't be the best album of the year; it may not even make the list. But it is the best Martyr Privates album of 2014, which actually says a hell of a lot.

Martyr Privates is out through Bedroom Suck and Fire Records - grab it here and here respectively.

Cool Ghouls

San Fran fools Cool Ghouls have harvested a laidback, echoes and dust garage air for their great new record A Swirling Fire Burning Through The Rye (out now through Empty Cellar Records). This record may have some bare bones affinity with the garage rock set that are their geographical brethren, but missing is the frenetic energy and in its place a more ruminative, studied approach that can nonetheless be electrifying. There is something intrinsically American about the reverb laden fare that evokes the down home revelry and bonhomie that the likes of Creedence Clearwater Revival exulted in. Seeing as CCR have a hell of a lot of stone cold classics up their snakeskin boot, you can understand why I share such a soft spot for this record then.

Buy A Swirling Fire Burning Through The Rye here.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Cheap Chooks Race On Unity Floors

 Chook Race

Unity Floors

Brand new Australian label Mystic Olympic are opening up their account with Cheap, a split between two of the more interesting and energetic bands circling in these waters, Chook Race from Melbourne and Sydney's Unity Floors. Both of these bands have graced the Sonic Masala walls in the past, and it's great to see these guys joining forces in what is likely to be a powerfully fun release. The two tracks - Chook Race's punch-pop 'Numb' and Unity Floors' louche growl 'Hold Music' - are two sides of the same twisted lovelorn coin (and 7") - the simple lyrics and call-and-response of 'Numb' is sub-two minutes of monosyllables on the beat punk, with almost a surf-like bridge, making for bubblegum lust in the sun rather than the shade; 'Hold Music' cribs from Harry Nilsson and lethargic drawls interspersed with cathartic squalls as only the duo know how (all recorded in Gus Hunt's kitchen no less). Scrap pop at its finest.

Grab Cheap here or here.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Mirrors Folding In

London's Gum Takes Tooth was one of the first bands that Paul, the guy who started Sonic Masala with me way back in 2010, introduced me to. I think the first time I saw them play was at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square; the second time the banks of the River Thames. They explore all terrain, not just the sonic; they stretch boundaries both external and internal. Every time I saw them the all-pervasive atmospheres create coalesced into something overtly alien and new. They were a revelation.

The same goes to their recordings also. Mirrors Fold (out through Tigertrap Records) is only their second record, yet it is already leaping through different vectors of sound exploration than the intrinsically heavier debut album Silent Cenotaph rendered, or even the EPs. They have shared stages with bands like Shit and Shine, another of those bands Paul introduced me too. But unlike Shit and Shine, whose moniker is probably the best to ever be committed to a band (the times I have seen them have been in either of those two extremes - when they are good they shine, but when they aren't - Jesus...), there is nothing haphazard on Mirrors Fold. They are more akin to Errors or (and I'm sure this comparison is made a lot) Battles, what with their electronic exuberance that is both dark and febrile, forever pressing percussive beats and cuts into new and claustrophobic realms whilst remaining intrinsically groove-laden. 'This Perfect Surface' is my favourite in this realm. However the groove can suddenly disappear into industrial rabbit hole like 'Bone Weapon', and it's on tracks like this where the live drumming makes a true impact. It's pressure-swelling-in-your-chest/pounding-in-your-head intensity, a carrion call to a dystopian burnt-sky cult, flamed and ingrained. 'Wych Elm' finishes off proceedings, and is some sort of lysergic barbiturate nightmare - a kaleidoscopic downward spiral set at quarter speed.

Every time I listen to Mirrors Fold I hear something new, and can't help but think that this album is a living organism all its own, some HR Geiger body horror writhing beast that will one day jump out of its vinyl skin and morph with my own. Weird. But that is the kind of insidious beauty Gum Takes Tooth have crafted here. It's bloody great. Preorder it here and let it steal your essence. Then double up on the live experience this Saturday as they destroy the Shacklewell Arms.

PREMIERE - Yerevan Tapes Serve Us Up A Psalm'N'Locker

Good morning! Sorry to rattle the cages with such a pun, but Italian drone artist Luca Garino HAS called his solo output Psalm'N'Locker, and is in a band called How Much Wood Would A Woodchuck Chuck If A Woodchuck Could Chuck Wood, with it.

The following are exclusive excerpts from Psalm'N'Locker's forthcoming Op. 1 Music For Dreamachine  out through the always intriguing Yerevan Tapes. If you aren't familiar, you have missed out on some stellar releases such as Heroin In Tahiti, Cannibal Movie and German Army, all releases I have written about and love and  that require instant perusal if you aren't familiar. Psalm'N'Locker's efforts are already at that level for me too - a one track, 28 minute exploration of beats, that idea of when two notes compete on slightly different frequencies. The entire composition has been inspired by the British experimentalist and "prophet" Brion Gysin's Dreamachine - this guy was amazing and truly ahead of his time, read more about him here. Psalm'N'Locker manages to recreate that same trance-like hallucinatory state through searching out the imperfections, whether strong or weak, of a frequency played through two air organs that are not exactly what you would call "tuned". The result is pretty immense - below are two exclusive excerpts. You can get OP.1 Music For Dreamachine here.

Hypnotized By The Dream Police

Sacred Bones have announced the final two releases of 2014, and one of them is new - yet familiar. Mark Perro and Nick Chiericozzi, two of the founders of The Men, have a new project in the form of Dream Police. Which is a great name when you consider the cover art for the Cheap Trick album of the same name... Where The Men have left behind their hardcore boots to head into a more familiar rock bent, Dream Police brings synth and a bit of hair rock to the mix, if the title track of their upcoming album is anything to go by. It's like distilling Moon Duo, LCD Soundsystem and ZZ Top into a crusty blender. I need to hear the rest of this album for sure - but for now I'm perplexed, amused, and more than a little interested. Pre-order Hypnotized here.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Contracting Cat Aids In The Noise Arcade With Jerk Kerouac

Sean over at Metal Postcard is always feeding me the weird and wonderful from Asia. This week he hit paydirt - three times. First up is this split, and I was going to write about it regardless of whether it was any good or not. The Beijing band on the A Side is called Cat Aids. CAT AIDS. Seriously, I'm surprised the internet hasn't melted in fear and loathing already. They are a mixture of hardcore, thrash, metal, drone - and with song title's like 'Kevin Bacon Reacharound' and 'If Abortions Are Murder, Blowjobs Are Genocide', Cat Aids do what they want. It's pretty great. The B-Side of the split goes to Japanese outfit Go Tsushima and their pieces of experiential guitar drift - the space here seems like a beautiful salve to put on the wounds inflicted from the previous onslaught, even when things get unhinged in the final quarter of 'GT8 Part 2'. This is more my kind of thing, but Cat Aids had me at Cat Aids.

Not to be outdone with the joke titles comes Jerk Kerouac, a harsh noise project out of Malaysia. Now Sick is a little hard to take, like most harsh noise projects - there are moments of involuntary flinching involved here from the digital screams being emitted, as well as one period where the noise was unsettling my stomach - but again this is something I admire in this approach. It's like someone hitting a terribly fucked up frequency on the stereo, but continuing to drag the knobs back and forth over it in the thinly veiled attempt to find another channel while only concerned with pissing off the neighbours - for half an hour.

So let's blast and cleanse, blast and cleanse, with China-based artist Noise Arcade's Incidents Which Occur. A prolific guy, this cyclical effects-pedal wizard locks into subterranean grooves that seem barely to exist yet insist on being heard, and reheard, and reheard. The loop isn't just here - there are subtle, incremental shifts throughout this work - but it's what is created in the mind that matters. I'd like Noise Arcade to play at my funeral - that's a pretty high recommendation right there. Good night.

Hits From The Box #85 - It's Been An Age And A Day...

I said the old columns were making their presence known! The inbox is overflowing, and I won't lie - a lot is going to remain overlooked. Sorry to anyone who posted me stellar sounds from June back. Things got real around here, and I dropped the pie. But onward and upward. Here are some great releases that everyone should be checking out post-haste...

First up we have the newest "discovery" on this list (I came across this this morning), LA-via-Chicago band Young Jesus have just released 'G' which is apparently their first new song in two years. This reminds me of bands like Spook House and Pile - the kind of indie guitar music that did the rounds in the mid to late 90s, but with the 21st century sweaty urgency that pervades those bands' progeny. The five-piece have the literate emotion, the emotive riffs, the slight grit of the teeth, the cathartic grins. 'G' was made for me.

Leading on from the new to the old - William Alexander's Girls' Basketball release has been sitting in this post since I started writing it months ago, and I'm glad to say that this is still a real corker of an album. One of the Juniper Tree crew (AKA bedroom manipulations in the key of pop) and formerly known as The Meanest Boys, this album is actually quite beautiful - a breezy gossamer glide through Alexander's sensibilities. So you can have the guitar pop malaise of 'You Can Take It', the brooding psych grooves of 'Strange Rules', the backwards blues swagger of 'Itneverdies' (which is a killer song - something Beck might have done in the earliest days if he wasn't as much of a nerdish upstart), the spaced out languidity of 'Drones' - there is something for everyone here. Think Kurt Vile lying around in Long Beach covering Ariel Pink covering Gram Parsons . Stupid analogy - but it was the first one that caught like a burr in my mind months ago, and that still stands today.

Sticking to home recordings but heading a little closer to "home". Perth artist Fait (AKA Elise Higgins) has quietly put out this EP Atmosphere - an apt title. The tracks are on the more sonorous side of shoegaze psych, with darker riffs emanating on almost post-rock efforts like 'Slow Glow'. There is piano and strings on 'Halcyon' that seems destined for the typical brooding soundtrack score - but this could easily soundtrack an overcast day with weights pulling down. Atmosphere has been produced by Darren Lawson who has worked with MBV - so that explains that then.

The pulse rises here. Scuzzy punks Mumrunner hail from Tampere in Finland - which I have actually been to, strangely, but never thought I would here this echo out from this Scandinavian outpost. Zit/Rut offers two tracks of squalling power, more in the vein of regional brethren Lower's later stuff, interposed with the harsh distorto drive shoegaze of the likes of Whirr (speaking of, have you heard their new album? Awesome...). This is an incredibly strong opener, enough abrasion to knock the amps into gear, approachable enough to get sucked in by the sinuous grooves and hovering vocals. I'm hooked.

Now for Dilly Dally. This Toronto band have unearthed a type of grungey rock crawl that has those effortless pop stratosphere moments a la Pixies in their prime (listen to the guitar in the "chorus" and hear the ghost of 'Where Is My Mind?' whisper in your ear), but its the nonchalant way Katie Monks delivers her lines, in an almost-throwaway, almost-angsty way, whilst also alluding to earnestness without giving sway to it, that delivers the true goods. And yes, that was all one sentence. Dilly Dally is the kind of band that close friend Liz would have fronted in high school - she even has the blue hair to add some aesthetic credence. There is a power here though that outstrips such teen dalliances - hence Fat Possum showing interest in the four-piece.

Let's finish up with San Franciscans Blood Sister (formed out of the ashes of Night Manager RIP). They have just released the single 'Ghost Twin' off their EP (out soon through Bloodmoss Records), and it's a vibrant mess. Im about to make two Pixies references in the same post, aren't I? See, Frank, there is no need o persist when there are young-uns doing what you did thirty years ago, and in their own way, and better than you are doing it now. This is scuzzed up to the eyeballs, and a lot of dark fun. What's more, Blood Sister launch the EP at Thee Parkside on Friday Sept 26 with Aussie noisy bastards and great dudes Zeahorse as support. If you live in SF, you need to get to this - and buy some Zeahorse merch too, those guys need all the help they can get (plug OK, Morgan??)

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Thrashing The Heart In A Teardrop Factory

Whenever Faux Discx bring out a new release, my ears are suitably pricked. I have come across Teardrop Factory before - their Topshop EP from last year was a lot of fun. They are back with their debut album Thrash In The Heart, and first taster '3AM Coke Dream' is what you would expect from such a title - its hazed, loud, a little brash, hypnotic, suitably roughed up and scuzzy around the edges, high albeit a little seedy, and fun. A LOT of fun. It's got the slow head movements inherent within the melody - it reminds me of a slightly more dour version of Terry Malts' 'Tumble Down'. And seeing as that was one of my favourite songs of 2012, that's a very good thing/

You can preorder Thrash In The Heart now - the 12" is a pink vinyl with white swirls - I'm transfixed...and it MIGHT add further explanation for the name of the single...And while we're at it - here is the video for another track, 'Now We Shatter'...

The Badlands Are Deathly Dangerous, Baby

Here are a couple of psych-inflected releases that have crossed the desk today that make for a good Saturday's listening...

The Dunes are from Adelaide - how did I not know this until I had left the country? Or maybe I did? I feel like I have heard these guys before...anyway their three track EP Badlands is pretty great. Stacie Reeves' vocals are haunting and ballsy in equal measure, which you need if you are going to slide the breadth of the psych rock spectrum. The title track in particular is a highlight, a dark sprawler that at almost nine minutes doesn't feel nearly long enough.

Then there is Prince Rupert's Drops, who I definitely have written about before. They are back, readying to drop (sorry) LP Climbing Lights on Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records (out in limited oxblood coloured vinyl - yum - grab that here). This has more of the garage rock juggernaut powering it on 'Dangerous Death Ray' - it actually gives me a bit of a Tumbleweed vibe, which is very appreciated - and feels longer than its four minutes (which is a good thing in this instance) so is the perfect yin to The Dunes' yang this morning.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Teleseparating The Woodsman

Woodsman continue their prolific ways, releasing new EP Teleseparation after bringing out their third album Woodsman earlier this year. The four tracks here are typically layered and atmospheric, roiling in Kraut-rock rhythms and the euphoric mode of repetition within repetition. It's a stream-of-consciousness "jam" that the final song off Woodsman was a mere excerpt from - and gives you a strong idea on what this band does when crafting their sound.

This week has been a strange one for me to say the least, but this is one release that I have reached for when the time comes to let the stress leave the body and give mind and soul over to the music. The band is playing at the excellent Incubate festival at Tilburg in the Netherlands today (if you are there - you lucky sucker!), before playing London on Sunday at The Water Rats.

Friday Cover Up - Crass Maltings

This week sees a resurgence in the "staples" here on Sonic Masala - whilst we have been fairly regular with Video Vacuum posts, there haven't been much in the way of the others. First up is a Friday Cover Up - and this is a doozy, Brazilian label Pug Records' brilliant single club Mutt Singles (which brought us one of the best songs EVER, Ciro Madd's 'You and Me') have put out this cover from Terry Malts guitarist Corey. The cover? Nothing other than anarcho-punks Crass' 'Do They Owe Us A Living'. Corey's take is decidedly Terry Maltsian - AKA poppy, bouncy, sunny. I'm not sure the English ruffians would approve... But it's making me smile regardless.

And just because I love it so much, here is 'You and Me'!

Old Mates Is What They Is, Ey?

One band that seemed to both be confined by and outstrip the ill-fated "dolewave" genre pigeonhole was South Australia's Old Mate. It may have been in the name; it may have been in the droll drawl that lead Pat Telfer (Bitch Prefect) delivered his sometimes-weary, sometimes-jacked-up lyrics. But just as many of the bands that were tarred with that brush over the last two to three years have moved on by incorporating stranger tics and tricks to their bag, Old Mate's new album It Is What It Is (out through SDZ Records) explodes, its core aesthetic spreading in every direction like the impact of a paintball on a white wall. Don't let the kangaroos boxing on the cover dissuade you from acknowledging that we are entering a whole new world.

'Medicine Man' is a gargantuan jazz blues number - seriously. Sure, it's used and abused and flung in the corner to dry, but the 12 bars, the solos, the howling space, the husky vocals are all present and accounted for. It's a strange opener - it's a strange choice, considering the band's back catalogue - but then nothing should surprise you with these guys (remember the other half of Bitch Prefect is the chameleonic Liam Kenny...). From then on we are taken to one surrealist vignette to the next, in a battered limousine al Carax's bizarrely brilliant Holy Motors film from 2012, with Telfer the ever-present ringmaster of the macabre. 'Requesting Permission' is back on terra firma, a downer jangle with dour vocals a la Brisbane act Dag, with a melancholy that reminds me of the solo work of Neil Young in his early years - really - or that first recipient of the Grant McLennan Fellowship back in 2007, Charles Curse. But this isn't the needle and the damage done. We step up with 'Something', a vocal that sounds like Macka from The Onyas having a go at an acoustic number. It isn't overtly funny though - the tempo, the backing vocals, the 'hey hey hey hey hey heeeey, hey' lending a desperation to proceedings. 'February' is a lament in a netherworld saloon - the Gothic drawl reminiscent of another dormant Aussie act, Nikko - holding that plodding, maudlin beat for its entirety, and drags you down with it.

Then we hit a sonorous contemplation with 'Stressin'', a lysergic percolation of languid rhythms (for some reason Im tracking back to some of those subterranean grooves the Stone Roses often doled out) in what is generally an instrumental track, except for some growled, rolling-around-the-mouth vocals (and yet another video featuring that post-Soviet kid in the nightclub, which really looks like a sequal to the film Orphan); the sax burbles into the fervour underscoring 'Know What He Wants', a fine addition here; 'Him' re-enters the Young orbit, albeit in a warped fashion, offering layered nuance that promises more than it gives, with lyrics that imply never learning from mistakes; and closer 'Truth Boy' evokes another crooked minstrel of the Australian musical landscape, Nathan Roche, although there are no Sydney references in sight, just some Aussie sardonic sneers...

It Is What It Is is a bizarre and inexplicalby attractive record. The title tells it all, thus making this review, or any really, redundant. Old Mate, Telfer, the music - it is what it is. Deal with it - get it here.