Saturday, 23 March 2013

Eating The Future Is Exhausting

A relatively new endeavour, Melbourne’s Exhaustion (sporting members of Snawklor, Ooga Boogas and Deaf Wish) nevertheless sound like they have been around forever, strapped inside an iron maiden on the seventh level of hell, only now allowed to vent their anguish and despair in what is a short-lived respite from the horrors of eternity. Such is the dirge on their debut LP Future Eaters, all screeching guitar, guttural bass, funereal drums and Duncan Blachford’s contorted and flayed vocals, that it is difficult to listen to this without feeling heavy of head and heart. That said, this is an album that leaves an indelible mark.

Opener 'Don’t Fly Righ't is a Jekyll/Hyde sonic orgasm, filled with chagrin and malice in equal measure; 'Keep The Change' offers redemption via humiliation, soundtracked by sheet metal and rusted nails in sonic form; the gut-churning regret brought on by a heinous act manifests into howling despair and paranoia on 'Old Mickey'. The lynchpin is the ten-minute-plus dead-eyed lurch of 'No Place For A Holiday', its ominous groove continually spiked by garrulous guitar strikes, a relentless bassline grind, a bizarrely soothing electronic outro from Zond’s Justin Fuller and a narrative that evokes humanist horrors at every turn (Hitched a ride down south/Fell asleep/Lost my way/When I came to/Life was a living nightmare/Don’t look back/Run). Future Eaters is in many ways a malevolent, malignant album that is more likely to invoke an epileptic fit than an epiphany… in many ways a sister record to the self-titled debut by the Spinning Rooms, but instead of small town madness we have urban nightmares amidst industrial wastelands and the grotesque. This is difficult to like, but nigh on impossible to ignore.

You can buy Future Eaters via Aarght! Records soon - original pressing sold out, but repressing (in white no less) is out next month. Its dark, dank, destructive. Everything I love about music.


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

PREMIERE - Matt from Holopaw's Ann Pragg Prep Debut

I'm sure there are any number of blogs and media outlets plugging this, but I'm going with what I've been told. This is a fresh-as sneak peek at Matt Radick of Holopaw's debut album. Going under the moniker Ann Pragg, Bitter Fruit (coming out through Wonderland Archives in early May) promises to bury deep in the waters of the best melancholic folk dreamers - Nick Drake, Bill Callahan, Will Oldham, Justin Vernon. Buried deep in the Everglades, this Floridian promises to provide what these other masters muster up - the ability to make the maudlin and haunting sound ebullient and pregnant with hope. The whisper of synths and crunch of guitar also promises to darken the corners further, a richness that grows bolder with each listen. And with the sad passing of Jason Molina that still has me reeling, I'm finding myself inexorably drawn to these realms, in the hope that we have another master in the making here.

Ann Pragg - Demolition Dust

The Vice Of Clearing Out The Cobwebbs

I have been intending to write about Brisbane psych/garage rabid hybrid Cobwebbs' debut LP All Around for quite some time now. Its official launch came back in November at label Lost Race's inaugural festival (which was killer, and rumours afoot that it will back up for another shot at the title this year), and the vinyl version has been selling steadily. But now is a good time to shine a light on this record for two reasons - rumours also persist that the record has sold out therefore are as rare as hen's teeth (which is kinda true - there were only 100 initially pressed), which was purported by the second reason this article exists - the abortion that is this review by Vice.

I don't want to get into a slanging match about the shortcomings of this kind of "journalism", or indeed Vice itself - the magazine has come up with some amazing articles and ideas over the years, and as Black Lips is its "house band", it surely has its fair share of kudos coming to it. But offering a review that tells you nothing other than an album is cool because its hard to get and hard to understand (possibly - I'm not sure the reviewer even got that much across) is poor. I'm probably adding to the fire by wasting oxygen and energy writing about it, which then fuels Vice's stance as a hipster bible - but fuck em.

So, money/mouth time - how is this album? All Around is certainly murky, a racket that revels in its chimera-like interchangeability.  I have the luxury of having seen these guys live many times since their inception - I started out thinking they were a fresh counterpoint to the garage rock that seemed to flow out of every corner of Brisbane in 2011, infusing something a little more sinister into the mix; but now they are an entity unto themselves, spawning their own harem of likeminded collectives (Barbiturates, Occults, Caterpillar Hood) whilst growing in stature and confidence. And those live performances flesh out the very lo-fi production here. But newcomers should still revel in this bottom of a metal barrel aesthetic, because the eight tracks on offer are drenched in the kind of fetid, lurching swamps of feedback and bile that nevertheless  is steeped in classic rock and roll tropes a la The Animals, The Troggs and The Kinks. Acid tones to melt your bones, All Around is the kind of album that deserves cult status because of what it is, not what some fey douchebag says it is.

You can still get All Around too - right here. Or click below. Can't get much easier than that.

Some Prissy Grrrls Love Their Golden Bruises

Man, that headline could mean a number of terrible things - lucky that it stands for two pretty rad albums then, huh?

Glasgow trio Golden Grrrls have sprung out a collective love of 80s Antipodean indie pop, yet their sound is heavily indebted to their hometown's own pop heroes such as the Pastels. Whilst core duo Eilidh Rodgers and Ruari MacLean have a loose camaraderie that underpins their off-kilter tunes, newest member Rachel Aggs buoys everything with spirited guitar lines and melodies. Which makes sense, since Aggs is also a core member of scrap pop troublemakers Trash Kit, a band well acquainted with distorting traditional structures in a playfully boisterous manner.

You can grab Golden Grrrls (out through Slumberland Records) here.


Then we have Prissy Clerks, the new, heavier band from Total Babe's Clara Salyer. Staking a claim to be a female-fronted, 21st century Sebadoh, the quartet have pumped out an energetic debut with Bruise or Be Bruised (out through Forged Artifacts). They already have some stage presence, garnering supports for Corin Tucker (the Sleater Kinney connection is another obvious aural signifier), Caveman and Young Prisms, and slammed the power pop cherry on top with the coup of getting Brent Sigmeth (Superchunk) to help out with recording duties.

You can get Bruise Or Be Bruised here.

Prissy Clerks - Bruise or Be Bruised
Prissy Clerks - Blast-Off Girls

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Vale Jason Molina

In August 2009 I was having a bit of a weird time. I had broken up with my girlfriend back in April (halfway through a holiday travelling around Eastern Europe - you don't want to be depressed in Romania...) and had a strange few months with lots of amazing highs but incredible lows. I had walked out on my job which would have guaranteed remaining in the UK through a sponsored visa, thus left Hertfordshire and moved to London. I was living on people's couches, drinking a lot, partying hard, doing amazing things yet hating every moment of it.

Towards the end of that month I had come back from the Sarajevo Film Festival. It had been a fantastic week, but when touching down at Gatwick airport I felt at a crossroads. I had answered an email about potentially writing for online magazine Low Rise, and they liked my writing, yet they wanted me to offer up something current (other than an album review) before considering my application. I hadn't been to a live show in months (Dan Deacon and Future Islands in May at ULU) and hadn't really been interested either. A cursory look in Time Out, and I saw my opportunity. Magnolia Electric Co. were playing at Bush Hall. It was a miserable night weather wise - which being London and all shouldn't have been a surprise - but as soon as Jason Molina and his merry men hit the stage, it was like an epiphany, a dream come true.

Without going into details of that night, my review was in the magazine the following month and it was my first step in the right direction with a lot of things. Therefore the news that Molina succumbed to organ failure due to alcohol abuse this weekend at the age of 39, whilst not that much of a surprise (he has been fighting a losing battle for the past year), it is completely gut-wrenching. I wasn't prepared for the level of sadness that the news brought over me. The world has lost a true talent, a master of the written word, a troubadour of the ages. Not everyone I know who loves his music had the same connection as I did, but all were touched.

Jason, you will be sorely missed.


Monday, 18 March 2013

Video Vacuum - The Knife, Ancient River, Our Mountain, Spectral Park, K-X-P

The past few days have lain dormant on Planet Masala. Unfortunately real life has gotten in the way, once again (and Sunday was held over in a hungover fugue state). So let's finish off Monday with a series of cool videos.

We're gonna start off with Sweden's perennial ice demons The Knife, whose new album Shaking The Habitual is only a few weeks away. Hotly anticipated, and rightly so, as it's been seven years since their last album proper (they have had opera soundtracks and collaborations in the meantime). This is the video for second single 'A Tooth For An Eye', a song supposedly deconstructing maleness and leaders by offering up a cross-section of guys (all without much finesse, but with passion and verve) dancing to the beat of a young girl's drum/sparkler. It also continues 'Full Of Fire's promise of percussive undercurrents, proving that this album could be just as innovative and challenging as anything they have previously committed to. Very excited about this one.

I have spoken about Florida's Ancient River in the past (see here and here), and they are just releasing 'I'm Waiting For The Light'. This track plays like an amalgam of Black Angels (circa Passover)and Black Mountain (self-titled era) - two of my favourite bands, as you might well know - and the song is quite possibly the best thing I have heard them commit to tape yet. The video by White Vintage Vinyl is typically swirly and slightly spun-out, but it's the song itself that's the selling point. Get into the grind.

Now for the obligatory NSFW warning. VERY NSFW (unless you work in a gynaecologist's office or a sex shop). New York band Our Mountain have offered up this stark and very confronting video for their quite good 'IV Horses', which depicts still long-shots of the band members in full frontal nudity. Three penises and a vagina, long shots, this early in the day? The band stresses the video is an attempt to commentate on the T the subject of human anatomy, four humans, bare, still and focused; to simplify and condense, strip back to a one dimensional treatment, minimalism, all that kinda thang. I agree of course, there is nothing titillating about this work at all, but it's still a shock to the system nonetheless - which I guess is most of the point. You might recognise the girl as Abby Lee Krenshaw - apparently she's an Aussie fashion model, but I had to get someone to explain that to me. Either way, the song is garish and dark in a Snowman kinda way (lotsa tortured, anguished howls), which is a winner for me. Plus it was banned from Facebook and you have been warned (it's just boobs and junk!)

I haven't heard much from Spectral Park in a while, so was glad to find the video for 'Shells' tucked snugly in my inbox last week. Its washed out yet sunswept fare accompanied by a blurry VHS vid that marries up all the good points of Luke Donovan's songwriting, and I'm glad to have him back. The self-titled record is out now through Mexican Summer - haven't had a chance to hear it yet, but seeing as we are getting some last vestiges of summer here, it might be a worthwhile purchase - grab here.

Finally we have this live video clip of 'Circles of Time' from Finnish band K-X-P. Filmed at London's Corsica Studios late last year, the seven minute track is a kosmiche wonderland drenched in monochrome. I don't much else about them, but this performance is enough to get me started. They have just done a stint at SXSW and are floating around the US at the moment so keep an eye out.


Thursday, 14 March 2013

Harry Krishna Sets A Western Tjutjuna Mousetrap

Man, I'm sucking at headings today!

Anyway, whilst today is filled with some great tunes, this here is my favourite, and certainly is my most anticipated album of next month. When I came across Denver peyote crawlers Tjutjuna's debut album back in 2010, I was blown away to the point that the band tickled the bottom end of my favourite albums of that year. It was one of the few records I bought in the long period of waiting to buy a turntable, and one of the first I threw on when I finally got one. I put them into the same realm as the likes of Woodsman, in their sonic attempts to cross into alternate realities of the darker, surrealist variety.

Since then they have had a few changes of staff, but if 'Mousetrap' and 'Harry Krishna' are anything to go by, they have lost none of their abstract sense of humour nor mystical knack of tapping into hypnotic histrionics and mind melts. The tracks come off their sophomore LP Westerner, that is due out late next month through Fire Talk. Just to fuel the feverish fires, they will be celebrating this coup with a US tour with Japanese trip-lords Acid Mother's Temple. I live for this type of instrumental psych, and Westerner promises to be the kind of sonic earworm that will latch on to me for quite a while - until the eggs in my brain hatch and I die of some form of paralysing fit, that is...

Pre-order Westerner here.

Tjutjuna - Mousetrap

Bad Dreems Of Mining Palms At The Alhambra

Goddammit! Why does there have to be so many great shows all on at the same time? Tonight I'm going to Dinosaur Jr and Red Kross - so am missing the Neapolitan Tour that sees Melbourne's Mining Boom, new Sydney act Palms and Bad Dreems from Adelaide killing the Alhambra Lounge tonight. Fark. Anyway, if you aren't doing anything tonight, GO TO THIS. If you need more incentive, here is the new single from Bad Dreems, 'Caroline'. A classic tale of toxic love, jealousy and self-sabotage set against a backdrop of crystalline guitar riffs and a surf infused rhythm section - says them. Says me - it represents low down dirty soulful good times. Prepare for a solid EP that'll hit you in the jugular later in the year. (Oh, and when at this show, order a Toadfish).

Here are the other tour dates for the threesome -

Saturday 16 March 
Brighton Up Bar 
with Palms and Mining Boom 

Friday 22 March 
Cats @ Rocket Bar 
with Palms and Mining Boom 

Saturday 23 March 
The Gasometer 
with Palms, Mining Boom and Danger Beach

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Screaming For The Mee-Mees

When Gulcher Records mentioned they were re;easing these two records from St Louis tripped out punks The Screamin' Mee-Mees, some four months after Jon Ashline lost his ten year bout with cancer (Bruce Cole is the guitar demon, whilst Ashline was pretty much everything else).


The Clutching Hand Monster Mitt EP was originally released in 1992, some fifteen or so years after their first foray into taped sounds took place on Live From The Basement. is scuzzy, tetanus-dirty, stream-of-consciousness inanity, yet is infused with such a virile energy that these tracks end up bordering on maniacal genius. 'Riotous Crowd' opens the whole shebang, and you wont get a more cracked garage psych noise meltdown if you pay a bunch of homeless hounds to recreate Tommy with power drills and garbage bins. It's darkly brilliant - listen to 'Visions Of The Dark Pumpkin' and tell me this isn't incendiary spitballing freakout material.

The Screamin Mee-Mees - Riotous Crowd
The Screamin Mee-Mees - Visions Of The Dark Pumpkin

Then we have 1996's Nude Invisible Foot Phenomenon LP. Further augmenting the deranged Seuss singsong lyrics that Ashline crafted in such a lurching manner, shortening the track lengths, and eradicating the evidence of any space within the noisy clutter, the record succeeds in putting the insanity under the glare of a microscope, Jumping back and forth in time to emulate the acid friers, Flower Power abusers and alcohol lovers that littered the darker, dingier corners of musical rock history. 'Smarter' remains as weird as they come, and proves the perfect bridge from the EP, but we have straight up dumb pop like 'The Grand Old Duke Of York' or 'Dogfishin''. The true stroke of genius though is the noise manipulations of avant garde track 'Chinese Handcuffs' - achieving a sense of sonic purpose that likeminded artists filled with more self worth than they know how to handle it could create in their lifetime.

The Screamin' Mee-Mees - Mysterious Gestures
The Screamin' Mee-Mees - Chinese Handcuffs

You can get these adventurous mind melts here. If you like what you hear, you are in for an absolute treat.

Spraying Paints Of Brutality

When Iceage's New Brigade hit in 2011, the face of post-punk was brutally gutter-stomped. For too long bands were labelling themselves post-punk due to the fact that they had sharp, angular guitar tones, regardless of whether they played disco synth or shiny happy themes, all the while glossing the fuck out of it all and force-feeding it to the masses. One of post-punk's most enduring factors is that it is more proficient musically, more complex, yet still upholding elements of the punk idiom. New Brigade was gritty, nihilistic, hungry, rabid, disaffected, infected - and whilst you wouldn't claim to have never heard this style of music played before, it was the confidence and arrogance that such noise was flung in the faces of all and sundry that made them an altogether exciting prospect.

Listening to Austin trio Spray Paint's eponymous LP (out through S-S Records), it's the first time I have felt that same rush outside of Copenhagen for quite some time (Holograms and Lower also kill). Two guitars and drums, noxious maelstrom. This is Wire and Gang of Four on nitrous oxide. This is Arab On Radar speeding through a night of rack and ruin. This is Saccharine Trust eating glass and laughing themselves to sleep. This is Rank/Xerox in the Twilight Zone. This is Spray Paint. And its goddamn killer.

You can and most definitely should get Spray Paint here.

Spray Paint - Jimi's Apartment
Spray Paint - Lap Swimming

Splitting Songs, Bro

Here are two releases from Melbourne's Bro Fidelity Records that are well worth your time. The first is this split 12" between Spider Goat Canyon and Hotel Wrecking City Traders. Created for a joint tour of Japan, it's a nigh on perfect split - SGC create a diabolic menace throughout their three tracks (and on the excellent 'Brotherhood' never truly lets that menace off its leash, thus heightening the tension tenfold), whilst the two track behemoth that is HWCT plays with post-metal formulae, a force to be reckoned with - all recorded in one day too. Buy it here.

Spider Goat Canyon - Brotherhood
Hotel Wrecking City Traders - II

Then there is this three-way split (which comes in tri-colour 180g vinyl in primary colours, get it here) between Southern California's Waterways, UK's Sons of Alpha Centauri and Hotel Wrecking City Traders. Its quite varied - Waterways' four tracks are much more song-oriented, and despite occupying the A side on their lonesome aren't as a strong a pull here, although 'Piece of You' and 'The Blacksmith' pack a punch; Sons of Alpha Centauri are more quintessential post rock, definitely Mogwai acolytes that instead of fucking up the formula more than hold their own on 'Pulmo Victis'. You can grab that here.

Waterways - Piece Of You
Hotel Wrecking City Traders - Pulmo Victis

No Young Adults Past '91

Young Adults released Black Hole almost two years ago, and still stands as one of the best discoveries that Sonic Masala has made - see here and here if you want to get reacquainted (the second post is from co-founder Paul - ah the memories!). It's been a while (the band has a new bassist, thus having spent the downtime teaching him the old songs, writing new ones, and playing show after show, becoming a stronger unit in the process) but a follow up EP has arrived in the form of Born In '91, and its just as serrated as its predecessor. Taking shoegaze guitar and bludgeoning the speakers with it in an energetic purge a la A Place To Bury Strangers, Young Adults excel largely down to the fact that they use noise as poetic emphasis as opposed as an out-of-control jackhammer, erratically taking chunks out of your psyche. Melody and feedback coexist in a white noise environment, underpinned with the affected shouts of leadman Chris Villon as he articulates the tribulations of traversing the gap between youthful times of carefree innocence to the darker realms of adulthood (making their nom de plume ever more appropriate). This is the right kind of brutal, with immense power and replay value.

You can get Born In '91 here - it's pretty damn great.

Young Adults - Born In 91
Young Adults - Static

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Hits From The Box #63 - Young Cave Dinosaur Krosses

The past two weeks have been fairly crazy in the gig department due to the Golden Plains festival down in Meredith. Due to such an influx, its hard to get to all the shows - therefore Ive missed the likes of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Wild Nothing, Bob Mould, Deniz Tek, Moon Duo... But I've still had a stellar week, taking in concerts from Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Deerhoof, The Wedding Present (I even had a couple of reds with David Gedge), Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Mark Lanegan. This continues on Thursday where Ill witness the double-pronged awesomeness of Redd Kross and the mighty Dinosaur Jr. Plus some of the supports for these acts - Primitive Motion, Blank Realm, The Eversons - are excellent examples of Antipodean awesomeness. It's good to be alive... So here's to the little guys, that they may one day fuel such rabid appreciation. Who knows, maybe one of the next six bands are on the right track.


We start this week's Hits From The Box in Winnipeg. This could very well be the first band from Winnipeg I've spoken about. Departures brought out their debut LP Still & Moving Lines back in 2012. The five-piece delve into an abrasive style of emotive guitar pop that reminds me of Pedro The Lion when they got raucous, or at times like Australia's own unsung heroes Bluebottle Kiss. The songs are strong, loud, and forceful, finely balancing the tension and the release. It's a great little record - you can get it here.

Departures - Pillars
Departures - Swimming

Next up is Fins. The Connecticut trio made waves with this Lawnmower 7" (out through ObscureMe Records), and its not hard to see why. Four tracks of tinny, cacophonous punk that straddles the deranged angst of Modest Mouse with the deranged angst of Les Savy Fav, without the precision (probably equal parts deliberate and necessary). The title track is the perfect example - it's angular, bordering on the modern hardcore sound, yet with an inherent melody sewn into the guts of it. And those guttural vocals - expect these guys to be an electrifying live presence. It's actually a pretty rad find, one which I wish I had found much earlier. Grab Lawnmower here.

Fins - Lawnmower
Fins - Foxfire

Cheat Sheet has been on my radar for quite a while now. Their album from last year ...Is Dead is one quirky, off-kilter guitar pop record that evokes hazy 80s summers days (without the synth or New Wave, just nostalgia, like falling to sleep cradling a well-loved VHS copy of The Neverending Story). This story does end - and pretty quickly too, at under half an hour - but there is something trapped inside the maudlin meanderings of 'February Jinx' or the downturn of 'Rerun' that seems trapped in amber. Plus they cover the theme tune to 'Makin' It' - David motherfuckin' Naughtoooooooooooooon! Respect.

Cheat Sheet - February Jinx
Cheat Sheet - Makin' It

Want to get wrapped up in some sunny, sonorous shoegaze? Vancouver's appropriately named Sunshine are just the ticket. They are pretty unrelenting on their eponymous debut LP - all fuzzy washes of guitar, with the occasional jingle-jangle, this is like listening to a blended Galaxie 500, Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and sunny-side-up Raveonettes. Speaking of which, Sune Rose Wagner makes an appearance on the album, alongside members of the New Pornographers, Morrissey and The New Values. It's a very classy effort that is likely to light up a lot of people's dials this month and beyond - you can get Sunshine here.

Sunshine - Amprior
Sunshine - Shanghaied

Back across to the US - Washington DC in fact - to check out Harness Flux, the solo project of John Masters (previously of the bands Metropolitan, The Cheniers, Stamen & Pistils). This is Masters' effort to purge himself of all the No Wave, noodling noise that courses through him like an ages-old tapeworm. We know he will never win this battle, but it's goddamn delicious to watch him try. I want to hear more!

Harness Flux - Stockbrokers

I wanted to finish up with these UK guys The Modulated Tones, because they are awesome and are yet another band I let slip through my fingers last year. Their EP Turning On is not just space rock psych adulation, it's embodiment. You can't get much more Spacemen 3 than this before you find yourself actually listening to Spacemen 3. Or Suicide - there is more than a lick of 'Surrender' pumping through its veins. Kosmiche/motorik/chic/oblique. Drop out.

The Modulated Tones - Day Tripper
The Modulated Tones - Kids Don't Live Enough

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Men Guided By A (Young) New Moon

The Men have been workhorses, tirelessly touring whilst bringing out a record a year. Their latest album is New Moon, and despite the brilliantly executed shift in tone and musical approach that occurred on last year's Open Your Heart, opening track 'Open The Door' is bound to throw you, starting with a slightly honky-tonk piano a la pastoral Neil Young (also the name New Moon could point to the new direction for the band, or a tip of the hat to Young himself). In fact we see two halves of the album that represent the split personality of the New York four-piece - the part that electrified audiences with their brazen brand of hard-edged punk underlined with an economical, no-frills approach to making noise (and still do); and the earnest songwriters, using the generic tropes of popular song structure to expand on what is and should be expected of any band, let alone The Men. 'I Saw Her Face' is possibly the best example of this - a Neil Young/Crazy Horse countrified dirge, with fantasy/reality lyrics and a wonky, can-fall-apart-at-any-time distorted guitar sound whilst Mark Perro warbles along with the high timbre that mirrors the cagey, cracked-genius Canuck. It's an excellent song, and despite the second half steering closer to past hardcore/garage glories and concepts ('The Brass', 'Electric', the excellent noise wigout closer 'Supermoon') it's becoming clearer than ever that The Men are growing into themselves nicely (listen to the country rock jangle and harmonicas of 'Bird Song' if you aren't a believer). There is no pretension here - the band are finally embracing all of their influences, and in doing so are redefining themselves, and possibly a whole sound. Country as the new punk? That's what true country has always been.

New Moon is out now through Sacred Bones - you can pick it up here. It's bloody great.

The Men - The Brass
The Men - I Saw Her Face

School Knights Aren't So Lethargic Anymore

I have always been a fan of Colorado boogers School Knights, and their upcoming cassette release Lethargy (out through Bridgetown Records) is no different. In fact - it's the best thing they have put out since their initial Rush SK release when they were just a duo fucking about in 2010, and this supersedes that too. It's sonically brawnier too, straight off the bat - 'Heritage I' doesn't sound like Wavves-lite silliness and skulduggery (not that the now four-piece always did - but the noise pop lived just around the corner). The production on the album is clean and spacious, so that every dip and flow is perfectly rendered, and it really lightens up their sound whilst also accentuating the ever-growing chemistry within the band. 'Low Tide' still holds some of that lo-fi aesthetic, but by actively coming out from behind the (admittedly unnecessary) fuzz and embracing each other's strengths and shortcomings Lethargy sees a strong collection of tracks that bridges the languid pop of Real Estate with energetic noisy breakdowns of the likes of Fang Island or Animal Collective and darker edges of Cursive, sometimes all in the same song ('Silicone Drip') - unexpected, unconventional, and altogether unreal.

You can pre-order Lethargy here. They are apparently working on something else already, can't wait to see what that is. They also have some upcoming shows at South By South West (Austin, Texas) on Thursday March 14th @ the Green Room, Friday March 15th @ Hotel Vegas, and Saturday March 16th @ the Reverb Showcase, whilst they are playing the Treefort Music Festival (Boise Idaho) on Sunday March 24th.

Living On The Lower Spectrum From Here On In

Lower Spectrum is a Melbourne duo that experiment in the undulating wavelengths of organic electronica. Organic electronica? I hear you mutter querulously. Listen to their sophomore EP From Here On, and tell me that this isn't an industrial purge or a synthetic creation, yet something that comes from the cosmic ether, the pulsing synths, waves of densely layered beats and live instruments combining to create something that is cold yet warm, alienated yet human. The soundscapes that are crafted on this six-track/one-interlude release are superbly emotive, alternating from existential ponderings ('Sense of Refrain'), to glitchy outer-wave reconnaissance ('Interlude') and playful looping repetitions that reconstruct form and space ('Blind Light', 'Then Unfold'). How this EP wasn't huge baffles me - this is the kind of electronic music that electrifies me, and with its live instrumentation and wholly immersive sonic experimentation it should be a live phenomenon.

Seriously - get From Here On here, you will not be disappointed, then start petitioning to get these guys playing all the time! This is only the beginning of the Lower Spectrum odyssey...

Lower Spectrum - Then Unfold
Lower Spectrum - Blind Light

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Bunnymen Haunted By Echoes Of Das Poltergeist

Echo & the Bunnymen go space odyssey on us? That's how it is, as Will Sergeant has formed with Les Pattinson (also formerly of the Bunnymen) alongside Nick Kilroe (current Bunnyman, drums) to form Das Poltergeist (formerly just Poltergeist). The debut LP Your Mind Is A Box (Let Us Fill It With Wonder) won't be out til June (through Proper Records), but you can get the gist of what to expect from these two early cuts. See what you think.


Joey Fourr's Five

I'm hoping to keep this short - I worked all day yesterday, was woken up early today, and want to do as little on this Sunday as possible - but I felt I had to give some lip service to London's Joey Fourr. Ex-Tubelord Lord Joseph Prendergast's lo-fi solo odyssey first reared its head last year on Art Is Hard's Pizza Single Biweekly Club, and he has since released five EPs - shiza... All of differing focus and fidelity, but all of interest. There is a lot to be said here, but I am really tired (sorry Joe!) so instead I'm going to say that this stuff has grown on me to the point that when a track inadvertently sneaks onto my playlists I grin and stop what I'm doing for a few minutes, take in the song and forget about the stresses of life. That to me is a good enough seal of approval.

Here is a taster from all five EPs. Head here to get them (in differing stages of cost and mediums).

 The latest EP, Sunslime.

'Surf Dye' off Museums.
'Wet Hips' off We.

'Play With Yrself' off Crack Is Whack.

'CROSS†DRESSER' off How To Buy Happiness.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Looking Beyond The Cyclopean

Monikers are funny things. Two of the bands I’ve posted about this weekend I had serious misgivings about, before I had read a line of press release diatribe or heard a note of noise. One is Soccer Mom, which I posted about yesterday – and I STILL struggle with that one (sorry guys...).

The other is Cyclopean. The only reason I opened up this email was because it came from Mute Records (alongside Spoon Records), I should add), and they have a much higher hit-to-miss ratio than most labels of their ilk. Then on opening it, I discovered the real reason people have have been muttering this word under their collective breath the past couple weeks. Cyclopean is half of Can. That is a holy shit moment right there. Jaki Liebezeit, and Irmin Schmidt, MAKING NEW MUSIC??? But then I thought, “How did I not know about this earlier?” And it’s simple. The name. I had possibly come across it and completely blanked it out. I know this is kinda bad – there are plenty of bands with TERRIBLE names that have made groundbreaking, earthshaking, era-defining music – but I cannot help it. It’s the blessing and curse of constantly sifting through the shit to find that nugget of gold. And for every ten, twenty, thirty artists whose name perfectly captures who they are (read: shit), there is one you miss. Cyclopean was that miss.

So – the EP. Four tracks of percussive ambiance combining with musical manipulations that belies the relatively small running time (admittedly two of the tracks exceed six minutes - but it feels like half that time). Pretty much what you’d expect from two dudes who pretty much carved the Ten Commandments of kosmiche rock into the heavens and etched the mission statement onto the soul of the unending zealous masses since. But that sounds rather throwaway, and it shouldn’t be taken as such. In fact, as you listen to the way these four songs - 'Apostles', ‘Fingers’, ‘Knuckles’, ‘Weeks’ – interweave and interact with each other, begging for the repeat button so that they segue into each other endlessly, the band’s name – Cyclopean – starts to take on resonance. This is repetitive music through contradictory methods; creating mantras through Newton’s 3rd law of motion (For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction). So in 'Apostles' we have percolating beats and electronic nuance, all syncopating without denying each other space; 'Fingers' a little more haunting, the guitar played like an intergalactic dulcimer, synth washing sonorously in the background before building into a 70s sci-fi mantra; 'Knuckles' and 'Weeks' crackle and fizz, the unorthodox drum machine and percussive manipulation reaching an apex.

It's hard to describe what is going on here, especially why it works. Cyclopean may be a play on form and composition, but its experimental elements are pinned down by the adroit mastery of the quartet's craft. You can buy the 12" EP here.

Cyclopean - Fingers

Riding Canoes With Soccer Mom Brides


Remember Soccer Mom? I’ve been a big fan of the Boston noisemongers ever since they got in touch regarding their Bill Cosby In Glamorous Chains single back in 2010. Since then they released a great lil EP You Are Not Going To Heaven, and currently have this 7” out (again through 100m Records), which continues their quest for finding the plateau where walls of noise meet angularity, pop nous and a sliver of hope amongst the towering banalities of life (frontman Dan Parlin describe’s the band’s sound as simply “loud”, which is as succinct as you can get). Brides/Canoe flows on their already sizable adulation of the shoegaze aesthetic, yet we see more of the severer, acerbic lashes that has helped the quartet differentiate itself from the ever-burgeoning pack. The key is in the melody, something that many other Shields acolytes are blinded to, and will only become more defined over time. Another solid stepping stone towards that much-feted first LP…


You can get the 7” here, along with the EP. Soccer Mom is (apparently) hard at work molding what will be their debut album for later in 2013. If they continue to hone their craft, looking for nuances amongst the fuzz and feedback, Soccer Mom could provide one of the sleeper gems of the year. Here’s hoping.

Soccer Mom - A Canoe Shy

Beijing's White (K)Nights

Tenzenmen have some more quality releases from China out, with White Night being one of the best. The four-piece from Beijing noise travellers Chui Wan (named after Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi’s “Qi Wu Lun”, a mystical work on the relationship between nature and human life - the spirit of Zhuangzi’s thought is reflected in the modern Chinese idiom “When the wind blows, every sound may be heard therein”), their debut LP is filled with that mantra - quite often a song's hook or melody becomes buried in ephemeral sound, exotic sonics, and abrasive noise. It's not hodgepodge instrumentation either; instead careful composition that provides this layering, and creates a voice that seems to echo out of the ether, a spirit with mischievous, irascible intent. 'Swimming' could be a languid pop song but for the tinnitus-level whine and woozy delay; 'Berber' resides in My Disco terrain, but with bubblings and sonic touchstones that psych frontiersmen like Hear Hums incorporate colouring in the gaps; 'Another Kind Of Love' has all the markings of Deerhunter; and eleven-minute closer 'Tomorrow Never Knows' feels like a cross-section of Boris, Clinic, The Black Angels and the theme tune to The Burbs. Suffice to say, I fucking love this record.

A strident statement of intent, White Night leaves nothing in the back pocket, and is all the better for it. You can get White Night here - it really is great.

Chui Wan - Another Kind Of Love 
Chui Wan - Tomorrow Never Knows

Oogain' And Boogain'

Mikey Young has the Midas touch. If he isn't killing in Eddy Current Suppression Ring or Total Control, he is producing half of Australia's most interesting, derelict rock music or appearing in further fragmented side projects like Brain Children or Lace Curtain. This may seem like a ridiculous notion/statement/whatfuckingever, but the self-titled LP from yet another of his bands, Ooga Boogas, could be up to the task of eclipsing all that he has done thus far.

Why? Because this is a culmination of all the things that are right with slacker boredom blue-collar rock from backwater Australia, this is an album willing to step out from behind shoddy production values, excessive reverb and indecipherable lyrics, this is the sound of a band deftly integrating a myriad of influences into their own indelible image, like an Ooga Booga cookie cutter. No matter what is thrown into the deep fryer - the Lou Reed saunter of 'It's A Sign', the New Wave pheromones oozing from 'Sex In The Chillzone', the skipping out of town with your degenerate best mate 'Archie & Me' - the album meshes seamlessly together, a insidious construction of Babylonian proportions.

The key here is frontman Leon Stackpole. Whilst each song swings from style and tone, his presence and voice permeates throughout, ensuring us that we are always within his world (and sometimes his mind too). The humour inherent in 'Studio Of My Mind' or 'Mind Reader', the chagrin of 'Ecstasy', the dazed malaise of 'It's A Sign' - it is all iconic, idiosyncratic stuff, yet amiable too - there's no airs and graces, nor seedy aspersions. Rather than being downer or designer, this is - well - true; an honest sense of storytelling, backed by killer songs.

Ooga Boogas isn't an album of scattershot ideas - there is no smash-and-grab laziness or sleight-of-hand, just four guys who have crafted ten songs that all stand alone, but together (sewn together by Young's guitar and  Stackpole's laconic, comfortable vocals and knife's-edge amusing/incisive/stupid/inconsequential lyrics) Ooga Boogas defies description - because it surpasses them.

Ooga Boogas is out through Aarght! Records.. It's an incredible record that exudes class whilst explicitly shunning such a thing, and is bound to be held aloft of one of the truly exhilarating records of 2013. You've got to do it for the kids...and your kids' kids.

Ooga Boogas - Circle Of Trust
Ooga Boogas - A Night To Remember

Friday, 8 March 2013

Friday Cover Up - It Hurts To Be Silkies

Time to pull up stumps for the week (and coming from a avid Australian cricket fan, this saying comes as much with pain as it does longing for the weekend...). As you can tell from the jibber-jabber from the past two posts, I'm still in Neil-land, but there is no rest for the wicked - I'm off to see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, supported by Mark Lanegan - tough life...

Here is a little ditty from Silkies , the Boston duo whose Like One EP I spoke of favourably here. The band still insist they are fusing Bratmobile-esque riot grrrl swagger with 60's girl group smarts, with the swampy garage feel bubbling just underneath the surface - and this great cover of Andrea Carroll's 'It Hurts To Be Sixteen' is a pretty good take on that. A pop star that never quite captured the teen market in the 60s, Carroll had some hits but nothing that ever reached this level. Maybe because Neil Sedaka wrote it? Yeah. Sedaka... Anyway, this version brings back the memory of this solid song, and gives it a warped radio-station-from-the-past-of-a-parallel-universe kinda feel, snotty yet cute, raucous yet joyous - it's a good way to see out the week and get ready for some loose fun times.

Silkies - It Hurts To Be Sixteen (Andrea Carroll cover)

Happy International Women's (Fri)Day!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Rookies Live To Love To Phone Home On Tour

A quick post to close out the day. NYC instrumental duo Phone Home are about to go on a tour in support of album-of-sorts Love To Live, To Love, starting tonight! the album is a cracker, as it is a compilation of their first two EPs which are filled with ebullient instrumental fun times (or as they like to call it - space core). Supported by Newport Stress, Phone Home continue their Rookie Of The Year tour tonight in Kalamazoo, Michigan - the rest of the dates are below... Get in and check them out, they are pretty damn rad.

Still Caves Wage Heave Peace With Static Lips

I came across Static Lips, a cassette release by Portland discordant wayfarers Still Caves last night when "surfing the Net". Bizarrely, as with most tangential discoveries, it started from a search on Neil Young and his memoir Waging Heavy Peace. I found a site that listed young influences, which led to a trawl of smaller bands from Portland...and this cropped up. And damn - opening track 'Dutch' is the kind of slow, grinding garage jam that I could bathe in , shitfaced, hollering at the ceiling in a misplaced sense of euphoria. The thumping, roiling 'No Company' immediately follows, and lets you know in no uncertain terms that there is steel and blasted feedback surging through their sonic veins too. If you want to escape the realities of life through a night of raucous debauchery, booze-swilling skulduggery, and a morning after filled with shame, regret and an uneasy itch to do it all again, Static Lips is a pretty good way to kickstart that heady downward spiral. Hey - you often make lifelong friends at the bottom...


You can grab Static Lips here.