Friday, 28 February 2014

The Worm Is Crowning


I got an email out of the blue a few weeks ago from fledgling Melbourne noise trio Worm Crown, desperate for a show up in Brisbane. I wasn't able to put on a show for them, but at the last minute managed to get them slots on a Masses show and the Tenth Court festival (nice work Matt on that, by the way!). Before this I didn't know a thing about them - but am always willing to help a band out if they ask nice enough (and happen to be housemates with a member of Franco Cozzo - the band, not the carpet kingpin...)

I checked them out at the Masses gig - whilst their 20 minute set was definitely one of raggedness and sloppy abandon, which also culminated in lead Darcy accidentally headbutting a guy in the crowd making the punter's face spray blood (actually that was a good thing), there was a lot of potential there. I spoke to bassist Andrew over a couple beers, he gave me their two releases and duly left before fights broke out. Nice blokes.

But with a name like Worm Crown, you know the music is something else again. There is a love for atonal squall, Jesus Lizard annihilation (although not that deliberate pummeling that you get with them), Minutemen ferocity - there is a lot of potential here. They released EP Human Waste in November, and here is Rinse, another EP out in cassette form. The single 'OCD' is up on the Triple J Unearthed website for download - I think you really need to check these boys out. They are a continual work in progress, and their work in the studio is already that serrated mid-fi grind that great things burst forth from.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Burning Angels Make No Witnesses


When I heard 'Forgiven/Forgotten', the heaving, chugging mid tempo rocker that was the first taste of Angel Olsen's latest record Burn Your Fire For No Witness (out on Jagjaguwar), I was stunned. Not because it was a great song - it is a damn fun one with a great bassline though - but because it seemed so at odds to everything I had come to hold dear about the Missouri artist. This was something that Best Coast or one of the bands with Girls as in their name would churn out, albeit with a dark wistfulness percolating underneath the surface; not the artist whose last longplayer was the esoteric, slowburning Half Way Home.


But this seems to be an elliptical curveball, as the album proper, whilst having other robust tunes like 'High & Wild', is more akin to the crafting of haunting pastoral causeways, ebbing and flowing in the mist of melancholy half-memories, that Olsen is becoming famed for. The husky, eerie 'White Fire' is one of the best songs she has ever written because of the use of her voice, bruised and burnt, mingles with the damaged narrative over a simple guitar line that it feels like a reverie spiralling out of solitary confinement, Olsen's lament her Last Supper before eternal redemption. And the timbre of her beckoning voice on 'Lights Out', a psyched soul number, has an overabundance of verve and confidence - this is no nervous, damaged wraith here, but an artist starting to truly harness her powers. Dammit - 'Hi-Five' reminds me of the Big O, Roy Orbison! Wow.


Love, loss, languishing dreams - all buoyed by Olsen's soaring compositions. If she wasn't already a blazing comet in the dark dark night before, starting looking to the sky for Angel Olsen's burning fire - this album is a cracker.


You can get Burn Your Fire For No Witness here - it's a great record. And if you can stay strong through 'White Fire' - you're a fucking liar.

Ela Falls Apart To Come Back Together


You might be familiar with Ela Stiles from her work alongside Max Doyle in Songs; you may be familiar with Ela Stiles from her Bushwalking sojourns. Well soon you will be familiar with Ela Stiles for being Ela Stiles, as she prepares to release her debut solo album on Bedroom Suck Records in May. If 'Kumbh Mela' is anything to go by, expect a album that's a rich tapestry of cavernous harmonics, the melodies weaving in and out of consciousness, Stiles' voice warbling like a spinning top, strong within its centrifugal force yet slightly quivering, wavering, threatening to topple over - yet the longer it hovers, the stronger it intrinsically becomes. Think Grouper without the sonic squalls or even the latter day electronic maladies - in fact, with no instrumentation at all. If you ever read Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist, then you might be with me when I picture the protagonist Theres, her voice pure yet spectral, hypnotic, dangerous.

Intriguing stuff - especially as most of the record will be in the same vein albeit for one voice-based drone composition that'll comprise one whole side of the album. I cannot wait to hear that track.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Contrified Dusk, Urban Sprawl Dawn - Welcome To Natural Child And Endless Prowl


Two albums that I've only just started dipping into as I do some late-night work. First up is the new record from Tennessee garage cowboys Natural Child, Dancin' With Wolves (out today through Burger Records). It is true countrified sojourns, a campfire travail into the heartland of the South, and the now five piece really revel in the warmth this approach gives them. The devilish, ramshackle charm that informed their earlier records is almost non existent, something that listening to Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings may do to you - in a good way. Dancin' With Wolves is one of those rare records that is both perfect background filler and immersive delight - rustic inebriation on the languid stories of Natural Child.



Then I stumbled across Endless Prowl, which is actually a collaboration between Brisbanite Daniel Ford (Black Vacation/Thigh Master/Kids Cryptic/Evening Hiss/probably other things...) and Teva from Upclock. This is the opposite end of the sonic spectrum to Natural Child - the kind of late-night jams that discombobulate and contort between the worlds of night and day, never light nor dark, just a never ending tide of wavering existence between the beginning and the end, both seductive and weary, sensuous and lurid. In short, this is some great stuff. Whether Endless Prowl will actually amount to much more than this one collab remains to be seen. Lets hope that we do.

Draaging A Melancholy Smile - A Triptych Of Tracks...And I Fall

This post is waaaaaaay old, but I like these bands, and I'm barely coherent to do much else, so fuck it, here you are.


New Zealanders Trust Punks. I don't trust em. 'Draag' doesn't make me change my mind either. But then Ill still give em beer money, because I'm stupid like that. Nah, they are pretty damn ace. They supported Wire in Auckland the other day. That's all you really need to know.



A shoegaze Joy Division is what one mate told me when I played Brighton band Morning Smoke's 'Melancholy' to him. High praise. I see where he's coming from, but there are more interesting things going on than a likeminded work shifted to a different genre. I can spin superlatives all night long, but I'm wasted, so just listen to the cavernous sound. I mentioned them a while back, and my opinion hasn't shifted. They have an EP on the very near horizon, are playing a Daytrotter session in April too - so this is the start.




We all need a Smile every now and again, and with something this jangly that still refuses to sit down and take it easy, you have to be pretty coldhearted to not return the favour. They brought out an album last year in Life Choices... My words are failing me - sorry guys - but rest assured that this is a great track from a Melbourne band that should get theirs in 2014.



Man, this was a nothing post. Just listen to the music over and again - that's what it's all about. Night. True Detective, Steam and Anchor Pale Ale and Pizza Capers munging beckons. I got paid - time to get my dues.

Hits From The Box #80 - Awake From Thy Labelled Slumber!


There is movement at the station, as the word had passed around... Yeah, we have been tied up some with these incoming label releases. But it's business as usual - we have a Sonic Masala show on Friday, and the posts are starting to flow in. So it's high time Hits From The Box took flight once more, here in its 80th incarnation. Let's see what beauties we can pluck out of the overstuffed inbox today?


Julie's Haircut - a cyclical improv jazzcentric instrumental band from Northern Italy. Ashram Equinox is their sixth album - yep, SIXTH ALBUM. This is the kind of thing I love listening to when I'm spaced out on the couch and need a rhythm to flow through me just so I can get moving once more. 'Tarazed' is the track that really grabbed me - and the Tortoise comparisons make a certain amount of sense here. It laps at the shores of many different genres, like most sonic oceans do, and it's just as easy to get lost adrift in the midst of it all. The LP is unfortunately sold out, but you can buy a digital copy here - if this is your thing, Julie's Haircut are masters of their domain.



The Face - this wasn't supposed to be an instrumental one-two punch, it's just the way things transpired... Coma Tree is the Los Angeles trio's new album, and to be fair there are "vocals" to be heard here (and the screamo elements could have been avoided IMO, especially on 'Anomie' - that track had me all the way until the vocals). I used to really dig the intricate math elements of many instrumental acts that were doing the rounds in the mid to late '00s, but then I got sick of the overt noodling that didn't really say anything (no pun really intended), just attempted to revel in their own pomposity and one-dimensional politics. The Face backhanded me with opener 'The Perplexed Circumstance', and the twelve tracks therein ebbed and flowed in unsteady, jagged, and most surprisingly, unexpected ways. It ends up being a rather weird trip, with influences as varied as Omar Rodriguez Lopez, Shonen Knife and Mr Bungle (?) - it's one that I struggle to define. Definitely worth checking out for yourself at any rate.







Let's come close to home. Australia are really picking up some killer psych, and Bad Valley can now join this ever-burgeoning echelon of acid-fried squallers. I haven't heard their EP yet, but 'The Jesus Square' is thick as fuck, there are some great wails there, the reverb on the vocals is just light enough to not feel too cribby (although it's psych rock - so, you know...) - all in all, it's the perfect space jam. Looking forward to catching these guys so they can blow my retinas out.




Xela Zaid...well, not much needs to be said. Watch the astral artist's performance of 'Are you Awake?' below and you will understand why this has become a projected backdrop to my wildest fevers of the past month (pretty sure I'm responsible for half of this Youtube clip's plays...). I imagine many of the Brisbane undergrowth will dig this too...



Keeping this obviously eclectic mix roiling along is London loin grabbers Love Buzzard, one breakneck booze-flogged beast of bastardly persuasions. 'Oh!' is an 86 second slice of serrated garage glory, and I wouldn't want it any other way. Jon Spencer was never this foot to the floor maniacal. it sounds like a duo - one that ought to be locked up in a padded room. Let the bourbon and bloodletting commence.




And finally some more unhinged shenanigans from one man thrashed punk plebian Back Pages. 'Can't Be Saved' sounds like it should come out of the unwashed keg lines of Melbourne's most run down pubs - but he's a kid from Orlando, Florida. Dude, the breakneck pace, the fervent fun, the rough as guts vocals - it's not something you expect out of the geriatric state. But that's probably why it's so giddily loose - he's gone delirious from isolation. AND why he has released so much music in such a short space of time. Back Pages has a cassette coming out soon - can't wait to see how that all pans out.


Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Do You Believe in Nana Vigilante?

Sometimes living in a uppity little city can get you down. Even - especially - when you get labelled the 'trendiest' uppity little city in the whole uppity little country. But no matter how many boutique beer bars try to charge you an hours wage for a drink or inner-city unit dwellers demand live music venues be shut down, you have to remember that it's all just worthless chatter, that there's no reason to let it all put the hoodoo on you. The beauty of this city is that there's still something under the chatter - little voices, little voices with something to say.

And if the city gets you down, at least you know there'll be people down there with you; people who aren't trying to squeeze you for cool.

I first heard Nana Vigilante on 4ZzZ (saviour of Brisbane's little voices). I was stunned and shaken - it was the most original thing I'd heard for a very long time... and it was from Brisbane. There are ideas here, fully realised and otherwise. There are cracks in the floorboards and stares, vacant and brooding. It is pointed and self-aware and sometimes nonchalant. It is the sound of people making sounds because people must make sounds. Call it Hip-hop if you will. Call it experimental. Nana Vigilante will still call it as they see it.



See Nana Vigilante play this Friday (28 Feb) at a Sonic Masala presents show at the Waiting Room with Galapogos and BARGE with an antenna on it. Watch their mate-made video below.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Nothing to do with Full Ugly

I've always preferred tea to coffee. It's the warmth without the hype. It's having the time to sit down for a minute and listen to what's going on around you - without really having to engage with any of it. That's what kinda makes life worth living, I reckon. It's no fucking Moccona ad, romancing through the streets of Paris, it's watching your dog stretch itself out in the sun while you do the same - having something to do that has nothing to do with anyone else.

Full Ugly brew that feeling. They never percolate it. They're all the better for it.   



If you pour over all the Bedroom Suck releases like you should, you'll know 'Hanging Around' is out on said constantly excellent (and now Fire affiliated) label now.

A Flight to Galapogos

I bumped into an old mate of mine last night and ended up discussing the ethics of horror movies and drinking beer instead of doing all the things I was supposed to. It was pretty great. A decent conversation - where you actually talk about something - is such a pleasure; it takes you somewhere higher than yourself.

Listening to Galapogos's new single 'Parakeet Parachute' is like having a decent conversation. The song is an open statement, an encouragement to fill the void (or leave it empty). It's serious and shy. The guitars make space for you to yell back (or not). The words and drums roll on regardless. Religion, death, meaning (meaninglessness), it's all here. That people make music like this in this city is its saving grace.  Let's go.



Galapogos are playing a Sonic Masala presents show this Friday (28 Feb) w/ Nana Vigilante and BARGE with an antenna on it. Coming along would be the right thing to do.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Poetic Bridge Over Juan Wauters


I moved headquarters last week, hence the week of silence here at Sonic Masala HQ. There has been a lot going on behind the scenes though, most of which concerns the label – writing promos, contacting blogs such as myself, talking to radio representatives, chasing vinyl jackets, organising gigs and tours, and finishing up with the vinyl entering the country (yes, the Roku Music LP and the Gazar Strips EP have made it safe and sound!). All of this around the hours of my day job. Busy indeed. But there is no relenting from the music – it stops for no man.

One thing I’ve noticed this week though is that there has been a fairly lukewarm response to The Beets’ frontman Juan Wauters’ debut solo album, North American Poetry (N.A.P.). A lot of the humdrum responses have come from the belief that it is too close to home, as it were. The Beets are renowned for slacker garage throwaway tracks, delivered in that disaffected, half asleep way that intimates that they don’t give a fuck when they so clearly do. I love it when a band pulls that off too, and I'm a fan of Spit In The Face Of People Who Don't Want To Be Cool, Let The Poison Out and Stay Home albums. But just because Wauters is casting off the rest of the band and stripping the fuzz off like a scuba suit, its still the same dude underneath, just a lot more naked. I'm not saying this isn’t a flawed record – some tracks drift away, appearing to be more of a bridge than a song in their own right – but there are songs that stand up to the test of time, like the jangly single 'Sanity Or Not', or the tracks where Carmelle Safdi comes into the mix, or the Spanish sung 'Escucho Mucho'. Damn, that may as well be half the album right there! At the end of the day, Wauters has poetic eclecticism, hooks a-plenty, and this album remains incredibly moreish. For whatever reason, the lack of variety of here was exactly what I expected, and as it turned out, exactly what I wanted. Plus I listened to this album pretty much nonstop as I packed the old place and moved to the new - so it's become a part of me now.


N.A.P. is out now through Captured Tracks - get it here.



Saturday, 8 February 2014

Slumming It With Sleaford Mods


My brother-in-law said this last month - "I resisted listening to this for ages because the idea of it was shit. They have a fucking song called McFlurries! But it's actually pretty good. Plus they have a song called McFlurries, so, you know."

OK, so there might have been a tiny bit more context there, but everything said here is true about Sleaford Mods, a duo from Nottingham that create a grimy, nascent type of beat poetry over the top of digital beats that are offensive in their simple MIDI forms... Now what my mate meant about Sleaford Mods sounding "shit" is that premise of a Midlands guy ranting over a tinny drum machine - anyone could do that, but it would take something pretty special to make that bearable, let alone enjoyable. Jason Williamson has that something - somehow embodying the streetwise shambolism of Mike Skinner, the nihilistic industropunk rage of Primitive Calculators' Stephen Grant, and the acerbic lunacy and simpleton avant-garde disco harshisms that makes Melbourne's mnttaB such an interesting entity. Austerity Dogs is the album, and it's a strangely satisfying listen - hearing Williamson's abrasive, atonal and vitriolic vocal spasms coming at you over deliberately cut-price beats provides a perfect conduit into the working class frustrations and an abject yet electrifyingly anarchic kicking against the pricks, railing against (and sometimes with) all the tabloids have to offer and more. Most of all its a not-so-silent scream at the powers that be who are railroading Britain into a Thatcherite netherworld of crushed dreams and pissed jeans. Best track 'Fizzy' best propagates this when spitting "work my dreams off for two bits of ravioli and a warm bottle of Smirnoff under a manager that doesn't have a clue."

'McFlurries' is fucking brilliant, by the way. So, you know...


You can buy Austerity Dogs (out through Deadly Beef Burgers Records) here. Sleaford Mods have a new album on the way too - Divide & Exit will be out in April.


Mesmeric Venturas


For my first of two English band posts for the day, I am providing you with an album of gargantuan purpose, depth, and NOISE. Manchester band Desmadrados Soldados De Ventura is a rotating menagerie of performers, with anywhere between five and nine people active at a given time. This double LP, Interpenetrating Dimensional Express, is soul-crushingly good. That isn't an impossible contradiction either - the four twenty-minute plus songs on offer here, each on commanding a single side of wax, conform to transfix, spinning you into a fugue state whereby thrashing of limbs combine with slackjawed hypnosis, drool coursing its way down your chin. Featuring members of Electrelane, Serfs and Beach Fuzz amongst others, the band is a drone collective in two sense - the noise has that tonal element of an entwined machination, every intricate cog turning brilliantly on its own yet lost as it takes its workmanlike place in driving the machine. Drones for the mother drone.

But this isn't really drone, is it? No - its psych rock at its basest, most cerebral, most indulgent, most explosive. But the reason I insist on the drone tag is because Interpenetrating Dimensional Express has at its core a reactive emotion that the very best of drone music allays - a complete loss of time and space; the truly immersive experience. I can't remember the last time I felt myself overcome by so many conflicting emotions - awe, excitement, envy, exasperation - and yet it all coalesced into a contented, feverish fervour. I cannot tell you how great a feeling that is - a near robotic state, the only movements being to get up and change the record. And even then, this disruption doesn't lesson the impact - by the time '101010,000,000' rings out over 80 minutes have passed yet you are none the wiser. A pretty mean feat, I must say. So if you are into your overtly intricate, caterwauling, explosive, experimental improvisational psych rock jams, this album is your ticket to Valhalla.


Interpenetrating Dimensional Express is out now.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Cater(er)ing For Shorts In Berlin Circa '71


New York-based-Aussie Mikael Caterer AKA Shorts is back with another single. ‘Berlin 1971’ isn’t exactly new new – it’s a track that has been around the traps in demo form for a few months (I even posted up when I first mentioned the band), but the it’s been glossed up to within an inch of its life, its heart beating faster than a hummingbird’s, professing love in a score to a faded Super 8 of a fledgling relationship. The sunniness of the track doesn’t fit the titular German city – yet – but it’s easy to imagine yourself in this world, forever sepia toned in the park where the sun is always at half mast, never beating down, drinking cool drink and eating antipasto nibbles... Jarvis Taveniere from Woods recorded this at his new Rear House studio in Brooklyn, so it’s in more than able hands.


‘Berlin 1971’ will be on a 7” EP of the same name (put out through Bad Paintings and Aloe Music) soon - preorder it here (awesome cover art btw). Can't wait to hear the other tracks if this is anything to go by - especially seeing as his backing band consists of Jonah Maurer (Real Estate, Free Time, Titus Andronicus) on bass, Dylan Shumaker (Woodsman, Alex Bleeker and the Freaks) on drums, and fellow Aussie Adrian Tregonning on guitar and keys. Clearly he's learnt a lot from his Scott & Charlene's Wedding brother in arms, Craig Dermody - albeit with a much stronger Dunedin twist of sunshine.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Twelve Months Of Snow Nasdaq Part Two - The One Where Snowy Gets a Wristy From George Michael


It's February. How do we know? Because we have a new single from Snowy Nasdaq, that's how! And it's simple, gossamer pop, albeit dripping in slight (or not so slight?) sordidness and silliness. Well, most of the time...

Transcendental Tinariwen


I have only had the pleasure of seeing Tinariwen once. It was the Saturday morning of the 2009 Glastonbury. I had had about three hours sleep due to being up all night – Paul and I stumbled out a bar tent to find the sun up, litter everywhere and not a soul in sight. It was like 28 Days Later. That’s what seeing Neil Young for the first time will do to you – amongst other things… Paul insisted that I have something to drink and get to the Pyramid Stage, just to lie down for a bit. The Mali guitar supergroup were playing – and I was transfixed. It may not have lasted the entire day – I passed out when that shitty band Friendly Fires came on – but I truly attest Tinariwen’s excellent set to my being still alive in time to watch Bruce Springsteen later that night rather than exist in the foetal position for the rest of the weekend.

Since that day I have been a fan. I was so happy to see them win a Grammy for Best World Music Album in 2011 for their last record Tassili (help from members of Wilco and TV On The Radio may have helped, but that doesn’t matter – it was a solid record). So it goes without saying that I was keen to hear Emmaar, the “Tuareg” band’s sixth record. And it shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s great. What is a surprise is how great it is.

Emmaar is the first Tinariwen record to be made outside of their homeland – a fact borne out of necessity rather than invention, as the escalating instabilities of the the political and social atmosphere there has made being a living musician untenable. Whilst nomadic in nature, the area that the band’s members call “home” has become overrun by groups of Islamic extremists who are instilling their own brand of society on the people, which includes enforced banning of music. It has been so extreme that one of the band, Intidao, was kidnapped (he was released January of last year, but did not participate in the making of Emmaar).

So the band moved to Joshua Tree, and the result is…well, it’s Tinariwen. The inherent camaraderie, innate musicianship that comes through living in the same lifeforce, the excellent rhythmic drive over which silky guitar lines flow and fold, the political and the elliptical in those foreign vocals – it’s all there. But you may notice on the edges the faintest impression that the American desert has left on these African natives, especially with the dusted roll of ‘Chaghaybou’ or ‘Arhegh Danagh’ (I Call On Man). It’s a beautiful yet gritty record that is so rich in sonic texture that I have listened to this album nine times in the past four days and have found something new to admire. There isn’t much music out there that sounds like this – you may think you have Tinariwen before, but odds are you haven’t heard Tinariwen at all. This is an album of timelessness, one that transcends politics and pain, and is deserving of the highest of praise. It will stir you from any dire reverie, whether self-inflicted or imposed, and free you.


Emmaar is out through PIAS next week.




Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Hits From The (Mail)Box


Hey guys. So I'm moving operations. You will see on the front page that if you want to send me your music (and I really hope you do!), you send it to the address there - 56 Cunningham St, Taringa, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 4068. Like the following droogs did...so here are some fresh (albeit short) reviews.


I'm going to work my way up to the bigguns here, so first up is this LP from Denver band Hooper. How To Become A Ghost isn't really an album that I choose to listen to that often - its that kind of post hardcore with the emotional vocals that holds some grit whilst also flirting with 90s Fat Wreck fluoro-punk. Well executed for sure. Check it out.



Also from Denver is flailing nihilists Glass Hits, and their new record Better Never Than Late is a breakneck brawler of squalling guitars and blood-flecked vocal chords. There's bubbles in the blood - I haven't heard anything really similar to Drive Like Jehu, but Glass Hits is getting goddamn close. Nathan and I were listening to this as we typed up pressers for the new label, and we both looked at each other with that wide-eyed, slack-jawed expression when you know you've stumbled across something electrifying...before dropping dead from the intensity. We didn't die though - we turned the record over.



Spells rounds out the triptych from Denver (not surprising seeing as all three releases were sent by their label, Snappy Little Fingers). This Double Cassingle is as raucous as the 7" they brought out earlier last year, and it's such raucous, throw your beer on the burly dude in front of you fun that that burly dude wont even care - probably. It was my birthday this week, so hail to getting old indeed.



Bay Area's Glimpse Trio sent their 24 track self-titled album (actually their third LP) through and it was a pleasant gear down from these three Denver raconteurs. It's predictably all over the place - from the country twang of 'Far Away', the vintage garage rock thrown into Robert Pollard's woodchipper that is 'Holiday', the layered post-rock intricacies over 'I Got This Thing', the hushed, melodious trundle of 'Cogan' and 'Ride' - it's hard to grasp what this band actually is. Are they serious? Throwing conformity to the four winds? Both? It doesn't matter. Glimpse Trio is ever the expanding trip.



Again without any fanfare, Texan sludge-fucked weirdniks Quttinirpaaq have sent me through their second album Let's Hang Out (clear with red spatter vinyl too, very nice). Only a few months between this and the brutal No Visitors, and there is a nice disparity between the two. Sure there are still lots of blacker-than-white noise elements, but the industrial grind of 'Man Without A Body' that jerks like a Romero zombie coming at you in a blacked-out basement filled with strobe lights is a disconcerting delight. 'Chinese Hercules' is busy psych, a squalling mess that Lightning Bolt might smash together if stuck in a Krautrock nightmare; even the isolate coma of 'Golden Sheriff' doesn't stay Forest Swords for long, disappearing into a hallucinatory slipstream that belies its short running time. The longer the song (eg 'Let Merv Drive') the more delicious the results. Seriously demented - seriously good.



And finishing off (and on a par with Quttinirpaaq as far as excellence and anonymity goes) is Last Language
from LA dark mystical drone alchemists Germany Army. The band's third album of 2013 (yep, three albums, good, good). Portuguese label A Giant Fern out this out. The difference here is that most of the duo's previous recordings have been put together by the various labels themselves from a plethora of recordings - an aural jigsaw puzzle. Last Language comes readymade, and is all the better for it. A blurred, dissolving black tide of industrial reverb, static, Dynamike vocal athletics, inverted silk desert drives and hallucinogenic blowjobs from chimeras with wraparound sunglasses. It's a weird trip all right. One that is instantly alluring. This is a cybernetic crawler through a dystopian landscape of minimum absorption and maximum narcoticism. Enjoy the ride.


Some Days are Hard ons ya, Some are Heaps Better


There is a huge amount of "garage" music around at the moment. A. Huge. Amount. And simply by the sheer amount of it, you'd think it is easy to do; get a few friends together, punch out a few chords, hope someone can hold a beat. That part, maybe, is easy. Creating something that is a marker in time, something that will stand up to nearly thirty years of kids picking up guitars, something that will make you smile 'til your eyes crease - even when it's probably the five-hundredth time you've listened to it - that's hard.

And that's what the Hard-Ons did with 'Girl in the Sweater'. You know the feelings, you know the naivety, you've felt it all (just like it says in the song). If this was released today, I would be heading straight to wherever these snot-nosed punks were playing to shake their hands. And for Record Store Day, thanks to Tym Guitars, I'll be doing exactly that. AND I'll be picking up a limited edition repressed seven-inch copy of the single (in a paper bag, just like it was originally thanks to the Deep North's obscenity laws). 

Woah, woah, woah, wo-oh-wo-oh!


Some days are just heaps better than others.

A Vitriolic Carpetbombing Turns Into A Five Star Harmony


Without naming names, I had an “interesting” conversation with another music journalist about the idea of the perfect album – that is, a five star review. The argument was an incredibly flawed one – in that, was I “sure” something was a five star review; how can you make such a call early on in the year when nothing else has come out – seriously, I was left fuming at the inanity of it all. Music isn’t governed by when it comes out! Sure, placement at certain times of the year may affect sales, but that has nothing to do with the artistic integrity of the creative process. People can release an album twenty years after they wrote it and it is as relevant if not more so than when it was written.

I kick off with this because the aforementioned argument centred around Melbourne troupe Harmony’s sophomore album, Carpetbombing. Again, without naming names, you will be able to find that review floating around the ether, an that it is not in fact a five star album. This post is to rectify the matter – for I thought it was a brilliant album on the first listen, and it continues to be so some three constant weeks later. Every word in that review is on the money, deliberated over and warranted – the score, not so.

Why am I deeming that this is a perfect album, and so intent to prove it so? Because I can understand to points of contention from many here – a) is there such a thing as a perfect album anyway, and b) the aesthetic value of an unique band such a band as Harmony is divisive at best, thus proving such strong assertions is likely to be swayed towards the “diehard” fans. And I want this post to at the end of the day make someone on “the other side of the fence” come to Carpetbombing with an open mind, attempting to see what has been achieved, and maybe be in the same banged-up aluminium dinghy of opinion as I. Whether it will be a solitary ride or one so overflowing with supporters that we drown in the euphoria remains to be seen…


OK. Harmony. A hard sell on paper – the lead guy from roughshod rockers with blue-collar flannel etched in their veins The Nation Blue, together with his wife; the cantankerous bassist from defunct Welsh acidic nihilists Mclusky; and a trio of Syrens. This motley crew combines to create cracked, burdened, working-class anthems that straddle the fence between gospel preachers and self-flagellating masochists. But the band have an inherent knack for finding the heart-rending in the bent string; the transcendent in the throttled vernacular; the epiphany in an acoustic three-part harmony. Carpetbombing takes this to the absolute limit.

From the opening strains of 'The Closing Of The Day', a Dirty Three meander through the broken glass of despair, you know what to expect. But then rather than a baritone, a yowl or a soaring choral waver, you have the gravel-encrusted voice of Don Walker. This is a daring way to start - on a complete downer, the sweat and the tar of the street sticking underneath your fingernails before we're two minutes in.

(Photo by Linda Wales)
But god if Tom and co don't know what they're doing. 'Water Runs Cold' is hushed, then fervent; the idea that the shower can be the only place to hide from the world, then that comfort is stolen from you too, is gut-wrenching in its maudlin simplicity, but is somehow uplifting too. Tom's guitar arpeggio kicks in a final third that feels somehow redemptive, watching the shit of life run down the drain, even as the stab of cold turns the reprieve into yet another painstaking endeavour.

(photo by Linda Wales)
And this is the utter breathtaking beauty of Harmony - everything is emotion; head in hands, heart impaled on sleeve, larynx raw, waterworks of anguish and passion. Yet there are those moments too when there is sweetness amongst the bitter bile of the banal, and this comes from the ingenious inclusion of the Erica Dunn, Quinn Veldhuis and Amanda Roff. Their sonorous, lilting vocals are strong yet supple; soft yet harbingers of inevitability; sanguine yet filled with chagrin. They are the heavenly hosts exacerbating the salt-of-the-earth travesties, looking down on the flannel and makeshift tattoos of the outer suburbanite, the wartorn soldier, the little lamb lost to addiction, avarice and guilt - Milton of the squats, the shelters, the streets, the squalor - the working-class Paradise Lost. And yet Carpetbombing once again eschews the churchly labels that get somewhat understandably placed upon them by continually showing us that there is no Heaven or Hell, no God, no Satan. There is only the Self - as dark, as isolated, as self-pitying, as hopeless as our nightmares relentlessly convey. And Harmony also prove that whilst the darkness is within, so is the light. By the time the close-to-title track Carpetbomb rings out, you have been rung through a broiling, emotional ringer. But this is all about euphoria, catharsis, redemption. And instead of shirking away, it's time to listen again, accompanied by that all-pervading radiance that is the knowledge that no matter what happens - YOU WILL BE OK.

So yeah. I like Carpetbombing. I think it's already a contender for album of 2014. It could be the best thing that any of these artists have put their name alongside. And yes - it's a five star review.


You can get Carpetbombing here.