Sunday, 31 October 2010

Gig - The Ex/Nisennenmondai/Trash Kit/Nonhorse @ The Dome, 19/10/2010

Tufnell Park's The Dome holds a special place in my heart. It seems I only ever make the trek to this part of town for obscure or experimental acts that continually exceeds my expectations. Case in point - Lightning Bolt, December last year. Was much better than I even thought would be possible. Furthermore, The Dome has a penchant for gigs where the support slots are just as good as the headliners in their own right (from same December gig, Drum Eyes blew me away). And, of course, there are the cheap pints of Guinness. Where do you find a £3 pint of the black stuff? Nowhere, especially not at a gig venue. So the excitement is palpable (always heightened due to the fact that its an Upset The Rhythm show) as I venture up the stairs into the town hall-like arena to finally see stalwart (and still very much relevant) Dutch post punk pioneers The Ex.

First up though, the supports. Nonhorse hits out first, and is an intriguing mix of tape manipulation and noise extrapolation that deserves more than the meagre crowd that is on offer. Nevertheless, Mr G. Lucas Crane knows what he's doing, and the violence he wrangles out of his instruments is justification for further investigation...

Next up are London mainstays of 2010 and UTR 'veterans' Trash Kit - if you haven't seen them playing a London venue yet this year, you haven't been outside. Having forgone the kitschy makeup that was a trope of previous shows and emblematic of the band, the Dalston three piece nevertheless stay on the path they have carved relentlessly since making a name for themselves supporting the likes of Vivian Girls and Tune-Yards. Their jangly, discordant tropical punk pop is effervescent and addictive, with nary a toe being able to resist being tapped. However, as the confidence of the girls grows, so do the songs, so much so that there seems to be something dangerous lurking underneath the veneer of these quickly cut slices of rock. You feel that Trash Kit are gearing up to cross over into a Dark Side that will explode their, and ouw, minds. Once again, Dalston has been done proud.

Trash Kit - Sun Spots

Now, Nisennenmondai. Three girls from Tokyo - one a tall, lithe model-like beauty (bass), one a small, no nonsense type (guitar), and one the unassuming type at the back. I wasn't sure what to expect - 5678s? Shonen Knife? Fuck no. The next forty minutes was nothing short of mindblowing, visceral noise. There's motorik, there's Krautrock, there's no wave, there's disco - but above all, Yuri, Sayaka and Masako deal a neat line in psychotic noise. Highlight? The maelstrom that is Sayaka's monstrous drumming, all flailing limbs, seat jumping and gnashing teeth. Brilliant.

I was unsure how The Ex could top such face melting competition, but the veterans of over 1400 live concerts came onto the stage without much ado and broke into their trademark post punk with gusto. So much gusto that (I feel ashamed to say) they made Gang Of Four look even more like poseurs than they already do, and whilst I love Wire, their relevance withers in contrast to what is on offer here. What the next hour showed was a band that is continually evolving and experimenting whilst still rising against the perceived political injustices of the world. Even with the altered band dynamic of the introduction of singer Arnold de Boer, the vitriol still exists - with the electric manic guitar interplay between Andy Moor and Terrie Hessels, with Katherina Bornefeld's insistent drumming propelling the group through a rollercoaster set. The set list may have focused heavily on latest LP Catch My Shoe (which, by the way, is a incredibly strong record, and seeing as it is their 25th long player release, this is a remarkable feat), to truly showcase the new band, but it also proved that the Ex, 30 years on, still not only have relevant things to rail against, but still remain ultimately relevant. By the end of this show I was knocked by how fresh the agitated post-punk all seemed. It was a frenetic show all round. The Ex will not lie down; the Ex will not go away; the Ex will never die. And for that we should all be eternally grateful.

The Ex - Cold Weather Is Back

Photos by Louise Reip

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Sex My Beet Up (Sort of Exclusive!)

Sex Beet is a London-via-Leicester three piece that have been making waves for a little while now (Ive been on them since their great track 'I'm In Love With You (So Shut The Fuck Up)'). They offer up the brand of fuzzed out garage rock that Im a massive fan of, and as the year has progressed so has their confidence, and their popularity. They have their beach pop rock leanings (esp with The Shadows echoing their 'She Don't Surf' track), but Sex Beet have sleazed it up tenfold, oozing the kind of lairy nonchalance that three drunk London 20-somethings invariably ooze. They may not have had a major LP out yet, but are about to end 2010 with a bang, snavvling the support slots of both Wavves in November and Best Coast in December. As both of those acts are hipster cred personified, expect Sex Beet's name to catch a corner of the spotlight by year's end.

Oh, and before all that, if you have nothing better to do tonight (or even if you do), head down to the Old Blue Last. Its a free Halloween rockathon, with Sex Beet smashing things up along with Cold Pumas, Prize Pets and Weird Dreams - its almost a Sonic Masala London showcase! And its FREE.

Oh again. The below track is a sparkling newie, so this is a sorta exclusive - Boo!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Naked On The Vague, Grass Widow, Wet Dog at the Lexington in photos

Naked On The Vague
Grass Widow

Even more snaps after the drop...

A Friday Night Cover Up - Sonic Masala Spooked!!!

For this weeks Friday Night Cover up Sonic Masala has stretched its batlike wings a little. It seems that every music blog on the planet does a mix for Halloween and this being SM's first Halloween we're no different. The massive monster mix below features tracks with a haunted vibe, just a gruesome title and even some bone rattling covers. Some of the bands we've mentioned on the blog over the past year, some are a nod to our murderous musical tastes and others are just a spooky bit of fun. Plus I've included a couple of Halloween music vids too, they're either going to gross you out or scare you senseless. Enjoy from behind your sofa!

If I Had A Heart (Instrumental Edit) - Fever Ray
We Skeletons - The boom bang
A Ghost Story - Atlas Sound
Rock-N-Roll Victim - Death
Zombies - The King Khan and BBQ Show
Science Killer - The Black Angels
Wolfman - Trash Kit
Zombie Dance - The Cramps
You Do Voo Doo - Pocahaunted
NYC's Like A Graveyard - The Moldy Peaches
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (Sonics Cover) - Remires!
Ghost In the Trees - Thee Oh Sees
Ghost - Sex Church
The Witch - The Sonics
Vampire Blues (Neil Young Cover) - Wooden Shjips
Hungry Ghost Nation - Strange Forces
Evil - Grinderman
Quintana the Killer - The Young
Found Love In A Graveyard - Veronica Falls
You Need Satan More Than He Needs You - Future of the Left
Set Guitars to Kill - And So I Watch You From Afar
Killer Bee - Beachbuggy
Deathcraze - Puffy Areolas
Ego Death - A Place to Bury Strangers
Death Drag - Deerhunter
Frankenstein's Den - Hollywood Flame
Dark Art - Zach Hill
A Tempting Haunt - Cold Pumas
Kill Yr. Idols - Sonic Youth
Killing Time - Moon Duo
Sweat - Salem
Batman, Wolfman, Frankenstein, or Dracula - The Diamonds
Bone Is Bloodstone - LA Vampires and Zola Jesus
Dv69 (Sonic Youth Cover) - Comanechi and Divorce
Fear Satan (Fuck Buttons Remix)- Mogwai

p.s. 'cos I've posted so many mp3s here I will only be keeping the links live for a week, ta

Sun Araw where has winter taken you?

I used to be right on the ball with Magic Lantern and Sun Araw's releases. As Sun Araw, Cameron Stallones has been rather prolific with his output, and I've lapped every single release up...until On Patrol, his fifth Sun Araw long player. I knew of On Patrol but I've taken an age to get round to listening to it. Its rough smothered dub aesthetic was well worth the wait though. Anyway, so in keeping with the new trend, I've been slow off the mark with Sun Araw's follow up E.P Off Duty. I've been slouching out to the thundering slurred noise of 'Last Chants' since the E.P dropped back in August, have I got my mits on the whole slice of wax? No, have I posted about it? No, fail all round. So here it is, a taste, Sun Araw's UK tour dates and the vid for Deep Cover taken from On Patrol. Better late than never, its well worth your time.

Sun Araw - Last Chants

UK Tour dates:
11/16 Bristol - Arnolfini (Sun Araw vs. Fellini's Satyricon)

11/17 London - Camp w/Zun Zun Egui, Hype Williams

11/18 Brighton - Hector's House w/Zun Zun Egui, Peep Holes

11/20 Nottingham - The Arts Organization w/Zun Zun Egui 

11/21 Manchester - Islington Mill w/Zun Zun Egui, GNOD
11/22 Glasgow - Arts Centre w/Zun Zun Egui, Blue Sabbath Black Figi
11/23 Leeds - Brudenell Social Club w/Zun Zun Egui, Runners, Quwack Quack

DEEP COVER - SUN ARAW from Brian Davila on Vimeo.

Torching UFOs on a shoestring budget

Torche's LP Songs For Singles has been out for a little bit, am yet to procure it, but Im sure it is awesome. Out on Hydra Head Records, home of brilliance such as Jesu, The Austerity Program, Helms Alee and many many more, Torche released single 'UFO' albeit without their own lyrics, instead superimposing some Van Halen howling over the mix. It proved to be a bona fide smash, at least as a novelty item. Now its time to hear it as it is truly intended, and while we're at it, here is the music video. Amazing CG here guys...

Torche are playing the UK in November - especially salivatory is their mooted show with Part Chimp and Chickenhawk - but that is an exclusive Leeds show - fuckers! Still, for us Londoners we can revel in Torche's brutal dirtiness at the Garage on the 22nd November.

Torche - "U.F.O." from Andrew James Cox on Vimeo.

And while we're at it - here's another new Torche track!

Torche - Out Again

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Drawing Swords On White Chords

These New Puritans are one of the UK's almost best kept secrets - their skewed take on dark electronica/noise is something to behold. However, from all intents and purposes they are yet to fully capture that textural sound live - at least when in front of me at least.

DEFINITELY one of the UK's best kept secrets - but not for long Im sure - is Forest Swords. His slow burning electronic dirges are entrancing, and his Dagger Paths release is still my favourite for EP of the year.

Now you can see these two together, almost as they were meant to be. Forest Swords and swathed TNP's 'White Chords' with his glacial menace, and it heightens the track exponentially. This would be a fantastic double act - and just maybe the Essex dark perfectionists might strike the right balance with a like mind in tow...

Not Cool are better than cool

And bam, where the fuck have they been! This morning I woke up blurry eyed to the fact that Sonic Masala have a new favourite live band. Last night SM trotted down to London's best gig venue The Luminaire to see Screaming Females (yet another Upset The Rhythm gig, they can really do no wrong). Screaming Females were awesome as would be expected (a review is forthcoming) but, more out of sheer surprise than anything, it was support band Not Cool that stuck out in the mind, just about.

I've heard bits about south east London trio Not Cool, their track 'Limbs are for Liars' featured on the Italian Beach Babes / Paradise Vendors 12" Comp that dropped back in August that I had completely failed to buy, I've missed out big time clearly. But nothing could have prepared us for how good a live act Not Cool were last night. A raucous explosion of energy so tight you would have thought the band had been touring for decades. A full review and photos will follow soon so I wont go into too much detail but you can imagine my joy this morning when I discover that Not Cool have just dropped their debut mini album 12" Rugged Raw on Sleep All Day Records, get it here, if its half as good as they were live then winner is written all over it. Taste below of their debut 7" Wonderful Beasts and Perfect Hair Forever from Rugged Raw.

Not Cool - Wonderful Beasts
Not Cool - Perfect Hair Forever

Pontiak Revving Up Again

The Carney Bros, AKA psych stoners Pontiak, blew Sonic Masala away back in March when they went mano a mano with White Hills in a heavyweight Thrill Jockey showcase at the Luminaire - see my review here. Since then they have released their fifth LP, Living, and show no signs of slowing down and having a break. Tonight they are here as a sole headliner at the Old Blue Last, alongside Dethscalator. This should be a scintillating set, and at six quid, why not? We'll see you there (being much less civilised than the boys are above...).

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Hardcore will never Die, But You Will - Bet on it?

Here at Sonic Masala, there are certain bands that lie at our very soul they are the bands that tie us together, the bands that we first started talking about. So when one of these bands has news of a new album we get really excited. This time its Mogwai who have us in a lathery sweat with news about their new album Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will.

The Glasgow legends will drop their seventh long player, naturally on Rock Action, on the 14th February 2011. Out on the 15th on Sub Pop for those Stateside. There's a track listing, see below. And there's even a few more facts about the L.P to get even more excited about. One, its produced by Mogwai confidante Paul Savage, the man who produced Young Team. Two, the Limited Edition version of the album will feature a 26 minute long track called The Singing Mountain recorded for Douglas Gordon and Olaf Nicolai’s Monument for Forgotten Future installation in Essen, Germany. Three, there's those live dates that were announced months back that now fit in with the release date, new live material then, dribble!

Finally four, here's some gratuitous Mogwai related vid and track etc, no reason other than why the fuck not?

Mogwai - My Father My King

Mogwai - Mogwai Fear Satan from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. Tracklisting:
White Noise
Mexican Grand Prix
Rano Pano
Death Rays
San Pedro
Letters To The Metro
George Square Thatcher
Death Party
How To Be A Werewolf
Too Raging To Cheers
You're Lionel Richie

I Like I Like Trains

iLiKETRAiNS - A Father's Son from The Progress Film Company on Vimeo.

This could get confusing. I like iLIKETRAINS or as I should now write it I Like Trains. Although I have to admit that I was maybe in awe of their audacious song writing about historical figures, such as the Spencer Perceval single, two tracks written one from the perspective of Spencer Perceval, the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated (maybe there's an idea in that?) and the flip side written from the perspective of his murderer John Bellingham. The bulls and the imagination to write that has always endeared me iLIKETRAINS, sorry I Like Trains. This goes for tunes like 'The Beeching Report'.

Anyway, I Like Trains have a new album out, He Who Saw The Deep, its a little less history referenced, and post-rock heavy but still as brooding as ever, worth a gander. I thought I'd post their video for the single 'A Father's Son', and taste of the track 'Sea of Regrets'.

I Like Trains - Sea of Regrets. (removed at request)

Shield Your Eyes from this...

How have I not posted about Shield Your Eyes' latest L.P Theme From Kindness yet? In all honesty I've been meaning to post about this prolific post-hardcore London trio for months. They've just got a 'full' release for Theme From Kindness a week ago, although I happily separated with my dosh months ago when I saw Shield Your Eyes put in a riotous, compact set, supporting Action Beat and Stig Noise (yeah I know, what a line-up) at The Macbeth, a tour that also included a date in Oxford courtesy of Poor Girl Noise. In short it seems to have taken a while for their latest 12" to see the light of day it truly deserves - but there's a fourth album coming right on its heels.

But I get ahead of myself. Shield Your Eyes have been around for a while, this being their third L.P in as many years. If you're looking for a slap in the face of indescribable melodic, post-hardcore noise to wake you up on a Wednesday morning then Shield Your Eyes should be right up your street. Out on Saddam Hussein Records (read the intro, its genius) Theme From Kindness is a steal at nine quid for the 12 inches of beastly lo-fi guitar riffs and grinding time changes.

The band are currently touring Europe, then are hooking up with Don Vito for a shed load of UK dates including an awesome sounding Saddam Hussein Records night with Don Vito and Cuss Words at The Old Blue Last, November 23rd.

Shield Your Eyes - Too Little Has Been Good For The Soul

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Screaming Females!

New Jersey's garage rock conquistadors Screaming Females are taking out The Luminaire tonight, supported by Not Cool (they are actually quite disparaging, as they are cool) and Trogons (a very interesting up and coming band). SF's last LP Castle Talk really showcased the trio's penchant for tight, extreme rock raucousness, amped by Marissa Paternoster's guitar wailing and vocal gymnastics and Jarrett Dougherty and Mike Rickenbacker's intense interplay. Now, with new album Power Move blowing the hinges off my doors, its high time you check them out. And in the intimate climes of the Luminaire, with maestros Upset The Rhythm at the helm, its going to be a wild ride...

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Evolution Is A Lie

Liars continue to pursue world domination in order to turn us all into their adulatory slaves - and that seems fine to us. Their Proud Evolution EP starts off reaffirming the brilliance of their imagined Sisterworld, complete with Thom York's reinterpretation of the titular track and a vivid reworking of it live at Shepherds Bush Empire. All of this is superfluous to all true Liars fans - surely you own the first two and have seen them play it live, infinitely better than hearing a live track? No, its the three B-sides that are the true reason to grab this release, and its a very good reason. 'Come Now', 'Total Frown' and 'Strangers' are crawlers, stepping away from their stark post-punk and delving into their Gothic art pop, ratcheting up the tension heightened by lead Angus Andrew's low murmurs and haunting wails.

Liars are treating us with another visit in November too (the 6th, at Heaven), so you can become an acolyte to the Liars underworld too...

Dorena Know Everything - And More...

Sweden's post rock five-piece Dorena have been making sweet vocal-optional music since 2007. Latest LP About Everything And More is in many ways the Post Rock Handbook of albums - interweaving shimmering guitars, simple yet intricate rhythm section, the building up of emotive tension through the slow increase in sound until the whole thing cascades in abject noise...but what they have also harnessed is the innate ability to embrace and express particular emotions through song passages. I am a post rock/instrumental rock tragic, so this was right up my alley, but there is some leeway here for the unconverted - from the synth pop feyness and deeper vocal variant of Sigur Ros of 'From The Window Of My Room', and the staccato beats and sawing effects of 'We'll Never Meet This Young Again.' In fact, despite the raucousness of a few tracks like 'At Sea', there is more of a sense of fun in Dorena's output that is missing in most post rock circles - post-rock-pop? This alone marks them as an interesting band to watch.

About Everything And More is out now on Deep Elm Records.

Thread Pulls pull on mine

The day I fled these cold shores in search of less hectic and sunnier climes for my hols I naturally stocked up on some new music to keep quiet while away. One such band that I had been meaning to check out ever since I had a very random music chat with a barman in Dublin (I was there on a stag do, its a miracle I remembered anything to be honest) is Dublin's Thread Pulls.

Thread Pulls' debut album New Thoughts dropped in late September in Ireland and a week or so ago here in the UK and ever since the drunken banter that introduced me to the band I've been intrigued. To be honest I don't know a massive amount about Thread Pulls but a bit of digging does hint at an intriguing past, they've certainly done their dues on the gig front. As a trio Thread Pulls played ATP back in 2004, off the back of their Summer Songs EP but it seems since then they've been a bit of a slow burner, taking til this year to release their debut L.P New Thoughts, out on Osaka recordings, as a duo and it seems to signal a bit of rebirth for the band.

Rhythm driven minimal electronic post-punk would be my way of describing Thread Pulls, stripped back to drums, bass and icy, flat vocals, with the odd touch of trumpet and a smear of synth. There's tribal beat influences in there too, influences of all kinds pepper the album in fact, but their tracks always feel sparse, considered. You sense that time has allowed a great deal of thought to go into New Thoughts, of what to take out, how little can been left, not what else can be added. Hopefully New Thoughts will open a faster revolving door for Thread Pulls.

Thread Pulls - Sink and Swim
Thread Pulls - Weight

Monday, 25 October 2010

Cold Pumas Sound Better With Huw?

Huw Stephens of BBC Radio One notoriety has been pushing his claim as new music head honcho. To this end he's been compiling compilations of 'new music' in conjunction with Wichita Recordings. Before I took off on my hols Mr Stephens put out his second such compilation, with artwork by Casey Raymond, which features a previously unreleased track Slow Padding from SM favourites Cold Pumas, as well as tracks from other SM faves such as Fair Ohs, Islet, Spectrals, Cloud Nothings and many more. Its worth a look here.

You can purchase the comp here, its only five quid, and have little taste below. Cold Pumas also have a gig tomorrow, courtesy of Upset The Rhythm (who else?) at The Nest in Dalston with the awesome Nisennenmondai and Waiters

Cold Pumas - Slow Padding

Beatles Wordplay Causes MBV Dejavu

Ringo Deathstarr. OK, so this does elicit some little sniggers. But its not the best moniker a band could go under. It just comes across as novelty. Think back - Test Icicles? Boo... I mentioned it recently about ace Boston band Soccer Mom too, although I think they have some major potential. And so do these Austin, Texas kids. 'Imagine Hearts' will be on LP Colour Trip, which wont be out til February next year through AC30. They also have some clout with their current scheduled tours - supporting SM faves ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Death, as well as The Wedding Present in their upcoming November UK tour. And then there is the quality of their music. They are definitely coloured with the Kevin Shields palette, and are unashamed about it. They do inject it with some nice psych nous too. So Im excited about their upcoming tour and album release - and maybe the idea of a Beatle able to destroy planets will become more palatable over time too, eh?

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Slow Animal

I've been meaning to post about this Slow Animal track for a fortnight, so its really all my fault Ive taken this long to bring it to you. Therefore Im leaving it as the last musical pill to take before the sun comes up on another long week. Its tight fuzzy guitar pop, and its mightily addictive - 'Dolt Heart' is off their demo back in January (get it for free here!) Night all!

Surf City

Auckland's Surf City have two obstacles to overcome before they even strike a chord -firstly, the past year's penchant for beach pop has unnecessarily placed them in that genre due to their moniker, and secondly because they are from New Zealand. The Flying Nun label, the Clean, the name - they are automatically coming with baggage. However, if they had been able to hold on to their original title, rather than cutting the 'Kill' from the front due to an existing UK band, it would give a truer sense of their influences - Jesus and Mary Chain opens the door to the Zombies, Sonic Youth and current quirky noiseniks Animal Collective. They have been ruffling global feathers for a couple of years since their self titled EP. Now these boys are stepping up again with their debut LP Kudos coming out on Fire Records next month. The title track sums it all up nicely – circular drone, guitar jangle, off-kilter melody, and a ray of sunshine pushing relentlessly through the clouds. I expect big things from this release - cant wait.

Surf City - Kudos

Interview - Soccer Mom

Boston's Soccer Mom originated as the bedroom noodlings of Dan Parlin, before being fleshed out into a four-piece - Danielle Deveau (bass), David Kaplan (drums), and William Scales (guitar). They have been developing their sound for a few years, and yet their current 7" Billy Cosby In Glamorous Chains is their first proper release. With this kind of slow gestation, maybe they should combine with Autolux and score the next Terence Malick film? However their vision is set - they aim to find the perfect balance between harmony and distortion, melody and debilitating feedback; they wear their influences (ie Swervedriver, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine) - but above all to provide a lot of noisy fun. I interviewed the band about their direction, their influences - but first of all, that name...

Sonic Masala - The moniker - Soccer Mom - I personally really hate that term, and was ready to write you guys off based solely on that! Where did the genesis of the name come from?

Dan Parlin - To be honest, the name started a long time ago, and the motivation behind it was probably more humour than anything else. At the time, I (Dan) was playing in other bands but making bedroom recordings in my free time - when I wanted to put out of tape of all the songs I had been working on, I chose the name because, initially, the song lyrics all had something to do with what some terrible, bored housewife would do in her free time. I had songs about a woman stalking her neighbor in the grocery store, one about putting the "care back in the caravan" - it was all pretty silly. While I always took the music itself seriously, the lyrics were just an afterthought. At the time I was in bands where the lyrics were all very serious - this was sort of an escape from that. But, when we decided to take some of the songs and form a band around it, we kept the name. Granted the first song we all learned was about going to the Mall, but it's certainly become less silly as we've progressed. It's kind of a bummer that it might turn people off but, when you think about it, lots of bands have names that are kind of silly. It could be worse - we could be called Vampire Weekend.

SM - Ha, exactly! But do you think Soccer Mom as a name encapsulates your sound?

Dan - I don't know many bands that have names that really do that. Besides metal and hardcore bands where you pretty much know what your going to get by the name (no one really expects a ballad from Cannibal Corpse), Sonic Youth is one of the only bands I can think of where you can almost hear the music reading the name - that could also be my obsession with them talking. So, no - I don't think it does. But I also don't know what would.

SM - You've listed references in the past such as Swervedriver and Polvo, both of which make sense, but is there any J Mascis lurking in the darkened corners here? Particularly on the opening of 'Bill Cosby In Glamorous Chains', to me it smacked of Dinosaur Jr's dissonant guitar wail...

Dan -Dinosaur, Jr. are a HUGE influence on me, personally. The first time I heard Bug, I almost lost my mind. They took these walls of sound and made something so beautiful with it. For me, it was like they took all of the abrasive and sort of off-putting pieces of noise rock and made these really pretty songs - but, at the same time, they are the loudest fucking band I have ever seen play live. There are still parts of songs like "Little Fury Things" that give me chills. I'll put it this way, if My Bloody Valentine has you listed as a huge influence, you know you've done something right.

SM - All right then, for a bit of fun, if you were to shoehorn yourself into a genre, or to give yourself a label, what would it be?

Dan -That's hard - and not because we are so wildly different from anyone else - but because we're all coming from so many angles, influence-wise. I mean, it's rock music - but It's not punk, and it's not just noise. It's not quite dreamy enough to be shoegaze, but it's also not hard to hear all of those pieces sneak in. I think the sound lends itself to sit beside a lot of different sounding bands, which we really like. When people ask us what kind of music we play, I just say "loud". It's not much to go on, but at least you'll remember to bring earplugs to a show.

SM - You certainly aren't the prolific types...

Dan -Lyrically, no. But that's not our goal by any means. There are plenty of bands with great things to say, and to try to imitate that doesn't interest us. Though you'll hear a lot more vocal tracks on the newer stuff, it's still not where our focus lies.

SM -Is it your MO to do little recording or gigging, just disappear to the back of the queue, then jump back out at people at an unforeseen moment to remind us all that you are here? Or is it more of a Marty McFly/Doc Brown moment whereby your Delorean gets stuck in the nineties on a regular basis? (AKA Will you do more stuff?)

Dan -We've been playing a lot more this year and will probably continue to do so. We actually just finished recording a six-song EP which should see the light of day in some format by early next year. So yeah, we took it slow in the beginning (a few of us were in other bands when it started), but it's gaining some momentum for sure.

SM - Any thoughts towards travelling abroad, preferably to grace the presence of us wee UK dwellers?

Dan - Lots of thoughts, but no specific plans. We'd rather tour over there then here!

SM - Boston has carved out some pretty rocking musical niches in the past. Whats the scene like at the moment in your opinion?

Dan -It's always been a little cluttered in Boston, in my own opinion - tons of bands for such a small city. And it's no different now. There has always been a wealth of amazing stuff happening here - and there is a lot of stuff going on now that people (myself included) just never hear - tons of little scenes. The bands that play the big rooms here, however, might not always represent the overall city in terms of diversity. Check out a show in a basement (it really is still 1994!) and you'll hear some great stuff. Young Adults, who I know you've mentioned in the past, are a great example of some of the coolest stuff going on out here. They're definitely starting to take off (as they should). We're excited to see what else comes next. The great thing about playing smaller shows around town is you just see cool bands that you might not have otherwise. There is no doubt that great stuff comes out of here - remember the Swirlies?

SM - If you could support any band in the world, either existing or defunct, who would it be and why?

Dan - For me, it would be Sonic Youth. And that is because they are the best band that has ever happened. (Besides the Smiths, but I can't even joke about playing with them...)

SM - Best album/release of 2010 thus far?

The new Autolux record is pretty amazing. There is a band out of Canada called Women that just put out a pretty awesome follow-up record, too. But to be honest, I don't have that much new stuff...

SM - Well that's more than enough! Two of our favourite albums too. Finally, what is sonic masala?

Dan - I think we cracked the anagram: anal mosaics.

Wow - anal mosaics? Nice call. Soccer Mom's 7" can be found if you contact the guys, and we'll let you know when that elusive EP is on its way.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Dead Moon Rising

As I have explicitly noted over the past week, the idea of this blog is to explore music that we love. So of course it still holds a level of bias, as the love of music is extremely opinionated. Nevertheless, Im never far wrong (gulp...), yet am always open to revisiting sounds that I had hitherto overlooked, passed up on or simply forgotten about.

Im posting about these guys, Dead Moon, because I was cyber-bullied into it. Yep, the internet is a big bad place, especially the detritus that reside on that Facebook site... My friend Will basically asked me on Facebook to write about em. They are pretty good, so I will, ok Will?

Dead Moon have put out a plethora of down and dirty garage releases over ther 20 year career that ended in 2006. Fronted by husband and wife Fred and Toody Cole, and pumped up in the back by skinsman Andrew Loomis, the trio worked hard at taking their country and punk influences and running them through a rusted steel metal press, and coming out the other sound seemingly of yesteryear, decidedly DIY and yet inexplicably fresh. Their success was a strange beast, as they went largely ignored in their native US of A. All of their work was generally self produced, and only through the interest of German label Music Maniac did they tour far out of their Portland digs. Therefore they found themselves with a wider fan base in Europe than elsewhere...

Dead Moon also were amazing in the way they went about mangling other people's songs, indelibly marking them as Dead Moon originals. Bowie, Hendrix, Zeppelin, Dylan - Dead Moon went to the greats and then ravaged them. Fred Cole with his occasional resemblance of a slightly more stable Bon Scott, proved to be an amazing voice for the garage rock movement, with Toody the perfect foil that provided the grace that is often remiss of such acts.

Their disbandment in 2006 was a shock in that Dead Moon still rollicked along like a red eyed steam train out of a hellmouth. Their strength and commitment to the cause of rock and roll still ran strong, through their strong Tombstone label and their prolific output - 2006's inadvertant farewell record Echoes of the Past still showed that the Coles and Loomis still had more soul than most new bands of their ilk. Fred and Toody didnt stop there - in their fifties, they still shoulder the burden of rock diehards, through the formation of their current band Pierced Arrows.

Pearl Jam are the most obvious influence in the USA, as they regularly cover 'Its OK' as well as occasionally dropping (in my opinion) better track 'Diamonds In The Rough'. Dont hold this against them, this just shows how far reaching Dead Moon's influence should have been - Vedder is a renowned purveyor of obscure music, therefore if their name was out to a wider audience, the repercussions could have been scary.

So thank you Will for reminding me of this stellar DIY garage act. Now I implore you - hunt down Strange Pray Tell, Dead Ahead or The Graveyard - those three are great starters - then get into their entire extensive back catalogue. You'll be eternally grateful. Also, try to stay vinyl - the cracks and pops add so much to every song its magical in a sepia toned soundscape.

Dead Moon - Can't Do That
Dead Moon - Diamonds In The Rough
Dead Moon - Hey Joe (cover version)

Pierced Arrows - The Doorway

*Exclusive* - Tyvek to hit Euro shores Feb 2011!!

Yep, you heard right, the Detroit garage punk toerags flying the Siltbreeze flag, Tyvek, will be touring our fine land come February 2011. How does Sonic Masala know this? Well, pretty much from the horse's mouth. One of the members of Tyvek is in the touring band of Demons, Wolf Eyes' Nate Young's visual arts mindfuck menagerie, who are currently playing Supersonic in Birmingham. One of my friends got talking to him based on the coincidence of wearing a Tyvek shirt that he himself had made, and he then dropped the bomb. He also gave my friend a Tyvek demo cassette - a brilliant run-in if Ive ever heard one! (AND our first exclusive...)

And why are they touring? Well, just in time to promote their new LP of course! Nothing Fits, out on In The Red, comes out in November 9, promising to be as breakneck, messy, and addictive as their self titled effort of last year. Here's a new taster of what to expect...

Sultan of $

Mark Sultan is a demi god of the modern garage movement, both under his own name and as the 'BBQ' in King Khan & BBQ Show. His myriad releases on esteemed labels such as Sub Pop, Bomp!, Norton and In The Red have been all of at least good quality, and has spawned a great number of worshippers, some of which include Bradford Cox, Jon Spencer and the boys of Black Lips - the latter formed with him to create messed up shit as The Almighty Defenders (I really oughta dredge that up for y'all sometime...)

So Sultan is pretty big business...well, he fucking well ought to be! Therefore when the penny drops on the grapevine that he is to release new material, the hairs stand up on the back of my love handles. $ is being put out on Last Gang Records, and under his own name Sultan has managed to not only divulge in his love of doo-wop (which has now taken on credence in other, hipper circles), but in psych, country and noise. This is an album to be sought out, which you can do on Monday November 8th.

Until then, feast your eyes and ears on first cut 'Status'. Welcome to the weekend...

Mark Sultan - Status from Daniel Taylor on Vimeo.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Friday Cover Up - Europop and Dirge Put Through The Supersonic Wringer

What a week, eh? And now its time for the weekend. I have nothing planned other than to chill out and spend the time at home, maybe get my hair cut, watch movies, and mentally prepare for the musical onslaught of another week, with Nisennenmondai, Screaming Females and Pontiak all doing shows this week. Plus, for those of you fortunate enough to be heading to Birmingham this weekend, Supersonic is going to wreak all kinds of awesomeness, with the likes of Swans, Hallogallo 2010, Godflesh, Napalm Death and many many more gracing the various stages.

So, in tribute to Supersonic, AND to a little post I did earlier in the week about, erm...a-ha, I have chosen a couple of covers that highlight them both. Drone merchants Nadja put out an amazing record early this year with Pyramids, called, funnily enough, Pyramids With Nadja. But before this they put out an amazing dronecore album made up of covers called When I See The Sun Always Shines On TV. The covers, ranging from Slayer and My Bloody Valentine to Elliott Smith and Codeine, are drone metal crossover gems, every one. SO today, I have chosen Nadja's reworked version of a-ha's 'The Sun Always Shines On TV', plus their toned down into the ground version of Swans' 'No Cure For The Lonely'. Have a great weekend!

Dirty Adolescence Makes For Visceral Entertainment

I dont know what else to really say here, other than Teen Hygiene shouldn't be allowed near any other living organism, let alone the impressionable adolescents their moniker mirrors. This is the most UNhygienic sludge punk dirge yelps that New Zealand have turfed out for years, and it is surprisingly strong for a band who have been haunting the land of the long white cloud for just on a year now. Their DIY aesthetic combined with disturbing imagery and leering temperament gives off a hefty waft of delirious lechery, all of which we can heartily revel in. Think the Birthday Party after an orgy of red wine and a mountain of coke. Good times. Just dont let them within two hundred metres of your daughter...

Teen Hygiene have a 7" available for sale on their bandcamp site here, with promise of more to come. You've been warned...

Walking The Road to Agartha Bombed Out Of Your Face...

...which is the only way to describe Herbcraft's psych saturated meanderings. Helmed by Matthew Lajoie, Herbcraft has had a fine ride in blogland, with Raven Sings The Blues and Altered Zones praising latest effort , the cassette Papers, whilst Chocolate Bhobka rates his album Herbcraft Discovers The Bitter Water of Agartha so much its in their best 2010 album releases so far (both releases are out on Woodsist subsidiaries - Fuck It Tapes and Hello Sunshine respectively - which isnt surprising seeing the quality spread Woodsist has been putting out of recent times. Buy both here). The attention is warranted - Papers is a true excursion into desert psych-neverland-peyote overload territory, whilst the LP is a masterclass on how to one-up the glut of drug-fuelled concept albums of yesteryear. Put Herbcraft on, close your eyes, and you may never see the light again. Nor will you want to, or even give a shit either way - this is the music of a isolated neverending garden of delights. You wont ever want to leave...

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Tera Melos Find Rats In Their Ranks On Their Way To A Harsh Enlightenment

I hadn't heard of Tera Melos before listening to 'Frozen Zoo' off their latest album, Patagonian Rats. The Californian three-piece have crafted a track here that, whilst having some of the dissonant and jarring stop start rhythms of the math rock staple, there is an element of jazz/folk improvisation that lends itself more to a quirker, more precise yet still very indie sound. However, when searching the internet I found some irate comments about the poppification of what many fans felt was a much more innovative and harder edged sound. Delving further I found that Tera Melos have toured with the likes of These Arms Are Snakes, Melt Banana and By The End Of Tonight, laying some credence to these claims. Then I noted that their upcoming tour is with Maps & Atlases - and that helped to explain the change in musical direction. Nevertheless, it had my interested double piqued - to see where they had started, and to see what Patagonian Rats had done to bring about such ire. Coming at it from such an angle means Im probably less biased than some, but I found their older stuff to be really fun and powerful, whilst the newie was even better in that its exploration of pop sensibilities hidden within the nooks and crannies of the supposedly sterile landscape of math rock. I think Patagonian Rats is very exciting stuff, and with its bizarre leanings and propensity to delve ever so slightly into Mars Volta-esque prog territory ('Skywatch'), I think Tera Melos are a new band to take account of, revel in and enjoy their unique vision of the future of guitar rock. They claim to sound like Harmony Korine and Mark Borshact in a punk band - not far off the mark there...

Patagonian Rats is out now through Sargent House.

Tera Melos - Frozen Zoo

And here is the film clip - weird... (UPDATE - this version of the clip actually works!!!)

The Clouds will leave you for Nothing

Dylan Baldi is a vivacious young fellow. Under his umbrella guise of Cloud Nothings, Baldi had pumped out many releases and scraps of material that has flooded the world with his brand of bedroom bliss punk pop. We mentioned his split with Kevin Greenspon on Bridgetown Records last week. As I stated there, Baldi had laid his claim that his sound was going to be cleaner from here on out, and although his latest release, the Leave You Forever Ep (out through True Panther Sounds) is steeped in the lofi sentimentality that many of his ilk have fashioned their sound with, the briskness and lack of unwarranted fuzz has actually opened the songs to a new level of saccharine beauty and fun that were thus far buried and left to find with a heavy duty metal detector. There are few that are within shouting distance of writing such great pop songs - Beach Fossils maybe? - and the fact that Baldi is only 19 and is constantly pushing the boundaries of his vision is inimitably exciting. (Oh, and if you havent already, check out his album of last year Turning On - its damned fine).

Cloud Nothings are, after playing a brace of US shows supporting the likes of Wet Hair, Prince Rama and the aforementioned Beach Fossils, will hit the UK with local outfit Veronica Falls, taking Electrowerkz by storm on the 5th of November. A good way to celebrate blowing up Parliament, no? Also, Electrowerkz is in Angel, a warehouse club, so a strange venue choice, which should make it all the more interesting and fun. Then after all THAT, they open for Les Savy Fav across the European continent. Yep, that Baldi character is one vivacious fellow. And its about time that people started bopping along to his tune.

Free Jazz Jizz From The Roman Empire

Just caught this cut from Swords+Sandal's LP Good & Plenty. This is free form jazz at its loosest and noisiest. Made up of Thee Oh See's John Dwyer, alongside Randylee Sutherland and Shaun Odell, Swords+Sandals recorded Good & Plenty in one day, using 16 microphones and capturing the skewed results on 1 inch tape. Its impressive improv art music that somehow instills a sense of warmth amongst the anarchy of conflicting spaces. Pick up the LP over at Endless Nest now.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Watching The Sun Shine From The Roof - An A-Ha Story...

This post is something of a first for this blog, as the title may suggest, but hear me out...

Sonic Masala has in essence been created by Paul and myself as an outlet for us to talk about the music we liked, sometimes discussing issues and events in the music world that affected us, and hopefully provide a forum where people could come and discover new music to enrich their lives or to offer new music that would enrich ours.

At no stage in the genesis, embryonic and infancy stages of this blog was it ever discussed - or even subconsciously thought - that a-ha would become a focus of interest.

But this story isnt about my 'turning to the dark side'. No. Instead its a tale of inital woe that immediately sweeps up into a transcendental victory for music lovers everywhere...I think.

A couple of weeks ago (Friday 8th October to be exact) I found myself, at the end of my first full day of gainful employment for a month, being dragged along to the Royal Albert Hall. This esteemed venerable venue has been a bastion for high quality musical performances of all persuasions, as well as a beautiful architectural marvel in and of itself. I had never been inside, so I should have been excited. I wasn't. I was apprehensive and a little fearful instead.

My partner in crime, Alison, an advocate of all things 80s, had gotten the tickets for a-ha with her friend some months ago, and had been building up her excitement incrementally from the day she had paid for them, despite the odd moments of ridicule (mostly from my friends). At the last moment, her friend pulled out on her, leaving a free ticket. And I was the last resort. I was dreading it, but it was a chance to see the Royal Albert Hall, no?

a-ha, a Norwegian 80s Europop behemoth, released the single 'Take On Me' in 1985 and exploded on the global pop culture consciousness, both through the song itself and the famous animated music video that accompanied it (which, I must admit, is still an awesome, if decidedly cheesy, vid to this day). But after that, in my own worldview at least, a-ha ceased to be. Maybe they literally exploded after the mega success of their first single, hence never having really heard of them again. But on my way to the venue, I was schooled in the ways of a-ha, and in particular the aceness of their first album, Hunting High And Low. You see, as well as being a part of the global farewell tour (in a truer sense than most reformed acts these days, as a-ha never broke up, and in fact released their ninth album last year!), it followed the other popular trend of playing one of their albums in their entirety.

I was enthralled, you can imagine...

Let me cut right to the chase. We had the cheap seats - the gallery, which felt as far from the stage as the International Space Station. Hell, at least the ISS had telescopes. It looked like the night could be a disaster - or in my eyes, par for the course.

But then the band members (Morten Harket, Magne Furuholmen and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy) came on, backed by a 25 person orchestra. And seeing as it is the opening track of the album, they open with 'Take On Me'. Despite the average audience member being in their mid to late 30s, this is the closest Ive ever been to a rabid pop concert. The sound of the screams as Harket sang that first line threatened to deafen us up in our lofty perches. And it never abated - the fervent adulation, nor the quality of the show. These guys could play! Possibly aided and abetted by the fact that their sound has evolved with the times as they have never stopped playing, the songs, whilst obviously written in the mid 80s, had a modernised spin on them, and the back orchestra heightened this sophistication even further. 'The Sun Always Shines On TV' was one of the best songs Ive heard performed all year. And as they closed off proceedings with 'Here I Stand and Face the Rain', elongated by some elegiac orchestral interplay, I was swayed. And although they had an unusually long 'intermission' - I dont care if there's an orchestra, or that they are in their 40s, over half an hour is a joke - they came back to perform the majority of second LP Scoundrel Days, an unexpected delight.

And this is the crux of this argument. The entire night was unexpected. I havent been irrevocably changed by the endeavour - I dont own their entire back catalogue; I dont even own one release, and am very unlikely to ever have one in my possession - but it helped to highlight the power of music, regardless of the angle that it comes from. It is ridiculous to close yourself from something without at least sampling it yourself. And as the unlikely heroes of the day a-ha showed me, you cant beat a perfectly crafted pop song...

Gig - Naked On The Vague/Grass Widow/Wetdog, The Lexington, 10.10.10

Ah, 10/10/10, the mystical calendar alignment has come around. And whether you believe in such paganistic (or, if following Holy News, Druidistic?) superstitions or not, you have to admit that the beautiful weather we had was something far removed from the normal scheme of things. I spent the day lounging around the Selkirk in Tooting, where I ate (ho-hum) roast, drank numerous pints of Guinness and Samsbrooks Wandle, talked about incontinence crystals and the rabid sexuality of retirement homes, and watched two dogs give each other blow jobs. There was definitely something in the air...

And so it was that I rumbled down to the Lexington to subject my sun and suds soaked body to some sonic delights, courtesy of Upset The Rhythm. There was a strong female presence over all three bands, and what heightened the night's excitement was the divergent nature with which each band attacked their sound.

First up were local upstarts and Captured Tracks alumni Wetdog, who have been carving a niche in the London scene for a couple years now. I had yet to dip my toes in the Wetdog-verse, and my first taste was one of quiet admiration. Starting with a sparse composition - simple drums, repetitive bass, swathed in synth - I was a little interested, a little nonplussed. I was leaning towards the negative, however - the demeanour was a little naff, especially that of Sarah on the keyboards - all chewing gum, distant stare and disaffected airs and graces always shit me. But after this track has ended, she trades the ivory for the sticks, and the three piece settle into their preferred line formation, breaking into the DIY post punk algorithms that they are known for. I got a distinct vibe of Talk Normal or Micachu and the Shapes in the punchy arc of their songs, particularly in the likes of 'Lower Leg' and 'Fist Face' and Rivka's boxy makeshift guitar, whilst the syncopated rhythm section tied down a sound not far removed from the brilliant and sadly missed Life Without Buildings. Bassist Billy's occasional giggles in some of the call and response moments, along with some slight banter throughout, marching on the spot, and the liberal use of chanted vocals and small staccato yelps of 'Wymmin's Final', also alluded to a bright dorkiness beneath the chic. All in all, Wetdog left the stage having shown that their punk rock style is decidedly tongue in cheek, magnetic and a lot of fun.

Without much ado San Fransiscans Grass Widow take the stage and launch into 'Shadow', one of the first cuts off their stellar Kill Rock Stars LP of this year, Past Time, and the crowd swells. I know Ive been lambasted in the past about my harsh criticisms of the glut of noisy/poppy/surfy/60s...y/Shangri Las-Raincoats influenced girl groups, and the sheer number of uninspired releases that keep coming out this year under the guise of 'new', 'amazing' and 'cool' doesnt look like shifting my perspective anytime soon. However, this trio have stated from the outset that they do not adhere to these notions - indeed, they want to cast aside the commonly ascribed gender readings when it comes to all girl bands and just be seen as a proper rock outfit, wanting to be recognised as fine musicians in their own right. This is how it should always be, Im 100% with them there. But what also sets them aside (and aloft) from their genre compatriots is that they have more than one bow to their string, their songwriting and compositions are thoughtful and inspired, and they are strong musicians. Sudden aggressive tempo changes invigorates tracks like 'When Strangers Come' and Tuesday', evoking Sleater-Kinney-lite snarls before emerging once again in a shimmering light, all incandescent and crystalline; guitars meander woozily just to sharply focus in the final third; the off-kilter rhythm section alluding to something darker and less stable lurks in the recesses of these essentially sunny songs. Plus, rather than revelling in the lo fi sound that so many others latch onto with grim vigour, Grass Widow aspire to drive their vocals to the forefront over cleanly cut sounds, highlighting the fact that their spirited harmonies are amazing. Nico has been oft-mentioned, and its not far wrong, but I also think it does them a disservice - the three voices are instruments themselves, heightening the aural tapestry being woven. Whilst Past Time has been getting mixed reviews (which I don't understand - at the very least you can see the influences on their sleeve being skewed into something else, rather than rehashed and hipsterfied...), live Grass Widow showcase an act that elevates them to the top of the heap - great musical interplay and vocal registry, charmed banter (the off-putting notion of playing on the 'wrong side of the stage'; a missed guitar lead opens up for a one second 'drum solo') and genuine affection for the sounds they create. The beginnings of a class act.

Headlining tonight are Sydney, Australia's Naked On The Vague. Signed by cultish labels Siltbreeze and Sacred Bones, the four piece have been building a reputation of dark, dissonant, synth fuelled punk since their Blood Pressure Sessions of 2008, and strengthened by this year's Heaps of Nothing LP - hence the sudden shift in audience, as most hype-chasers have headed for the exits. They are missing out. Seeing them live for the first time, it is clear that they have evolved from their down and dirty duo roots into a stronger, albeit still disturbing, collective. Vocalist Lucy Cliche hunkers over her keyboard, her voice droning on, with the once pronounced desolation of Matthew P Hopkins' basslines replaced by no wave riche squelching guitar - this is not forgiving stuff. Steeped in the Silver Apples/Throbbing Gristle era of early 80s down the rabbithole black pop, these songs coalesce into a physical beast, curling around you, its inky tentacles caressing your limbs. The way in which Hopkins hunkers over his guitar, his trenchcoat disguising his frame, and then the lecherous drawl he delivers when he's spitting out scraps of lyrics, you know that this music is the basest of post punk, a dirge like experience that has you crawling through blue-filtered barren landscapes not so much punctuated but saturated with aberrant industrial sound. By the time that they finished and the lights came up, they had left their impression firmly etched on the remaining punters - that if the world goes to hell in a handbasket, and we are to live in a subterranean underworld fuelled by technological bondage, desecration and filth, Naked On The Vague will provide the national anthem.

A fitting end to a bizarre numerological anomaly, methinks.

Wetdog - Wymmin's Final

Grass Widow - Fried Egg

Naked On The Vague - Making Enemies

Brisbane Outfit Give Off Nihilistic Spirit

I posted a few months ago about an instrumental act from Australia, The Scrapes. We have seen some amazing acts come from their that really push the boundaries of sound (Dirty Three, Love of Diagrams, Because Of Ghosts), and it seems in my absence that this trend has continued. Another Brisbane band to stretch the sonic climes are Ghost Notes, a four piece intent on infusing jazz and folk compositions with post-rock melodrama. I don''t know much about them, other than they released an EP a while back at Incremental Records (which cane be found here), and are recording a debut LP - if the end result is anything like 'The Nihilist' though, consider me hooked.

My Disco Find Little Joy In Dissonance

I have had the pleasure of seeing Australia's purveyors of minimalist post punk My Disco on a number of occassions, in a number of varying situations (on a big festival stage; in small boozy venues; in a smashed up disused art gallery; in a car park) and they have always been able to blow away the last vestiges of your sanity. They are relentless in chasing that one sound, groove, rhythm, and sticking to it sometimes for 20 minutes. It is a true testament to their cause that My Disco have any love at all for their jarring dissonance. For whilst their sound is jagged and abrasive, as each member of the band seek their own personal metronomic enlightenment in any one song, the whole comes together in a organic form, fusing first with each other then with the audience.
In saying that, I had a discussion with another My Disco acolyte Andy back in April when I was sequestered in Australia, and I had to grudgingly agree with him that their second LP, Paradise, didnt really offer anything new to the experimental exploration that My Disco had made their archetypal blueprint. I saw them when returning to London at the Lexington, and they were still brilliant live - but very few new tracks were offered, other than their epic 'single' Young.

So it was a surprise to hear first single from their third album Little Joy, 'Turn', had a more tribal and - dare I say it? - dancey approach to the syncopated rhythms. Now that I have had said album in my possession for the past week (out for general release via Shock Records on Friday), I can safely say that it is a true return to the sonic extrapolations that My Disco fanatics have longed for, whilst most likely garnering new fans.

I still liked Paradise, don't get me wrong, it just felt like an elongated Cancer - whereas Little Joy comes across as a true new direction. As always, it is more in the repetition and the absence of sound rather than what actually does exist, and whilst preivious collaborator Steve Albini keeps the dischordant tones, further mixing by Scott Horscroft (he who mixed Silverchair?) provides a shimmering element to the dissonance that helps each track push deeper into the psyche. Its a true triumph, an amazing tonal feat of strength. My Disco are back, and they aren't happy - but if anger brings forth this kind of dystopian beauty, you should be.

Don't Cry - Its ANOTHER Mickey Brown track!!!

Yep, a week barely goes by before Mickey Mickey Rourke/Mickey Brown drops a release at our doorstep. I threw on 'Never Cry', from Mickey Brown's forthcoming release Soul Glo, whilst eating a salmon and cream cheese roll. If a happier moment has ever hit me, Ive not known it. Now hurry up and do some live oddities, your fans are braying! Soul Glo is out soon - probably sooner than we expect, Id imagine...

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Look This Gift Horse In The Mouth

It shouldnt be much of a surprise to learn that Gift Horse are from Athens, Georgia. The place is fit to bursting with amazing rock acts of all colours and persuasions - I wish I could immerse myself in those icy waters right now to fully understand the burgeoning talent in the current music scene there. Highlighting other Athenians Dead Confederate as strong contemporary influences (most notable in their track 'Both Of Me'), Gift Horse have delved to drag the Nineties' version of indie loud rock into the 21st century. Their new LP Mountain of Youth even seems to state this in its title. 'Missionaries' feels like what Local H might've been like if they manned up and sounded more like J Mascis, whilst 'Plastic People' has some slamming distorted chordage up front before melancholic murmurs mark the verses, then the riffage and laments kick in... I never thought I would see the early 1990s in a sepia-toned looking glass, but Gift Horse are doing their darnedest, especially as their slowly building reputation precedes them - some have staked the claim that Gift Horse are the loudest band out of the South West! Either way, their nostalgic (albeit louder) take on the grungier side of slacker indie rock seems relevant. Its scuzzy as fuck, its simplistic, its epic, and its worthy.

You can buy Mountain of Youth here.

Jesu Rings The Seven Bells

Another great remix by Justin K Broadrick, otherwise known as Jesu (nowadays - he is, of course, a member of Godflesh, the seminal industrial band from Birmingham that pretty much singlehandedly crafted the industrial metal and post-metal genres. Jesu's focus has been more in the ambient side of industrial drone, thus creating beauty out of brutality. His albums continue to grow in stature, and despite the reformation of Godflesh and their appearance at next week's Supersonic Festival alongside Napalm Death and Swans, Jesu strives to tip the popularity of his famous forebear.

One added string to Jesu's bow has been his remix work - his new viewpoint on some of Explosions In The Sky's tracks was revelatory. And here he is again, lending a heavily textured hand to sonic psych poppers Schools of Seven Bells and their track 'Face To Face On High Places', from their latest album Alphinisms. Washing the track with harder synth, beats and guitar lines, somehow the final mix doesnt drag, rather it allows the track to ascend into another realm. You can find this track on the My Cabal EP.
Finally, Hydra Head Records are re-releasing Jesu' first EP Heart Ache along with some demo tracks as a 2 LP vinyl collection. We will keep you posted on that one.

Ex Marks The Spot

Upset The Rhythm are presenting Dutch post-punk pioneers The Ex tonight at Tufnell Park's The Dome (an interesting venue - seeing Drum Eyes and Lightning Bolt there last year has been indelibly marked onto my consciousness). The four piece have been plying their trade for over 30 years, playing close to 1400 gigs across Europe, the US and Africa. They have released 20 albums, the latest being this year's Catch My Shoe, their 1st since 2004 and the 1st with new singer Arnold De Boer. Speaking to the Ex's guitarist Andy Moor, we can expect a large gamut of the aural assault to be from the new album, but they will be reaching deep into their pockets for some gems that reach right back to their inception years.

And if that wasnt enough to slake the thirst of an rabid music nut, The Ex are being supported by Tokyo's noise pocket rockets Nisennenmondai, Dalston racket merchants Trash Kit, and sonic shit-stirrer Nonhorse. This show is massive, so get tix now!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Greenspon Takes Some Common Objects Over The Threshold

Kevin Greenspon, the sole driving force behind excellent DIY label Bridgetown Records, has been prolific in his own right, throwing out releases, singles and splits all over the shop. His last, the ten song split with Dylan Baldi AKA Cloud Nothings, was a sharp sliver of fuzzy punk pop that at under half an hour didnt outstay its welcome whilst enticing you to repeated listens - a sizable feat indeed. But the 23 year old LA native refuses to rest on his laurels, having completed a tour with Vehicle Blues and starting up afresh with Nicole Kidman (no, not the Aussie actress, but the eccentric freak folkster). In between all that and the production line of his label, Greenspon has quietly brought out Common Objects, a 12" vinyl effort out on Family Time Records. The record has Greenspon in his guitar collage mode, providing ambient soundscapes that whisper at your heels like tendrils of mist, slowly rising up to envelop you. The first track offered from it, 'Threshold', is a fair indicator of what to expect. Make sure you support Greenspon and his efforts - his efforts are well received, well packaged, and well worth your time. Pick up Common Objects here.

Hoffman Never Meant To Impose...

The new recipients of the monthly Impose Magazine Cassette Series is Phillip Seymour Hoffman - the band, not the actor. Well, not a band, but a one man track machine. And on Happiness Only Real Not Shared, he has produced something shimmering and beautiful in its pop whisperings. Check out the closer below, buy the cassette here.

Philip Seymour Hoffman - Sleep Tight and Sweet Dreams by neumagazine