Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Hit The Obnox & Get Spaced


Let's finish off Tuesday with some obnoxious Obnox. New record Louder Space is a razor-and-bile, soul-trippin, in-the-red attack on the eardrums. I was recommended this by Sam from Cobwebbs; I can see why he digs this. I'm already a big fan of Lamont Thomas due to his work on V-3 and of course Puffy Areolas, but this weird gnarl of a solo project could well supersede all of these, so visceral and exciting Louder Space is. Have a listen to the album below, and then go buy it here.

Don't Dismiss Tony


Tony Molina is an anomaly all right. He plays in a bunch of hardcore bands, and his latest, Caged Animal, is brutal! Here's what they do...



But Tony Molina as solo artist? Think Weezer, Teenage Fanclub, Dinosaur Jr - with 80s metal riffs - all packed into one minute morsels. That's what last year's Dissed and Dismissed LP was all about - and Slumberland has reissued it. Its a fun record that grows on you - it's hard to believe how short yet concise these songs are! I love it - I reckon you will too. Grab it here.



Monday, 26 May 2014

Sontag Shogun, Telling Tales


Let's finish off the evening with this beautiful LP I stumbled across today from Sontag Shogun. Tale is a spectre of a record; a melding of piano, tape loops, echoes, ghosts, samples, field recordings, past regrets, future hopes. Its an album of so many layers that I'm finding myself drawn to a different song with each listen. It's hard to beat opener 'Tale', and things get decidedly weirder after the piano tuning in the middle - 'Orbit Insertion' and 'Beyond Wynd Gey' are intense outerwave trips - but there are many curlicues of delight to be found hidden in this release, and I aim to find them all. Tale is out now through Palaver Press - get it here.


Fraudband For Everybody!


In keeping with great vocal less acts/releases today, here is the debut release from Melbourne duo Fraudband. Imaginatively entitled First Songs, the five tracks on display offer a brutal, minimal/maximal approach, driving by pummelling drums, an unrelenting rhythm that the guitar runs roughshod over, a charging bull. But there is a balletic kineticism at work here that underpins it all - its the work of two guys who are intricately dancing with one another, weaving their disparate instruments into a seamless whole, a weapon of mass disruption. Think early Love Of Diagrams or Faspeedelay, yet with a harder, Fugazi-centric bent (yet on 'Tangled Up' we go into more outback-tinged fare, something that an early, more frenetic Dirty Three would have approved of). The sixteen minute ramble 'I tried To Tell You, A Few Times' is my favourite though - but I'm a sucker for those kinds of things... Out next month on new label Kasmuen Records, First Songs is a great document of a duo already setting sight on the stars, if only to send them crashing harmoniously to the ground. Preorder it here.

Moving Mountains


What a glorious day to kick off the last week of autumn? Let's accompany this Indian summer feel with another blissful aberration from the Thrill Jockey stable in the form of Motion, the LP from one-half of excellent NY droners Mountains, Koen Holtkamp. This follows in the amorphous, hypnotic fashion of his "day band" - but there is a sense of naturalness, of being embalmed by warm light in the open expanses of Mother Earth, both here and in other, alternate universes, that wraps Motion up into an individual sonic cocoon of its own. Combine the six-track opus of Motion with the Collected Works CD offcuts, and you have over two hours of undulated synth loops, glitches and warm sine-waves, intercut with nebulous guitar lines and ephemeral bass, all evoking incremental movements of atmosphere - slowly escalating tension; slowly coalescing joy.


For me Motion is a sojourn through a million spinning lights; wading through psychedelic formaldehyde; a somnambulist's epiphany. So whilst 'Between Invisible Things' imbues every pitter-patter effect, sonorous synth line and syncopated beat into a journey of hope and sunlight, the insistent cyclical nature of 'Endlessness' is a little less ebullient, a little more weighted, shadows darkening the amber glow before inexorably disappearing through a cerebral wormhole... It's an album of cinematic mores, futurist inflections, emulations of life, and usurper of all things evil in this or any world. Fantastic stuff - just drop in and disappear.


You can get Motion here - its bloody great.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Belated Friday Cover Up(s) - Nadja, Powder Blue, Jack Lee



I'm a bit rusty with the posts - I'm even getting the Friday Cover Up done on a Saturday! Pay no mind, though, as I have three beauties for your perusal... Starting with something a little more psychedelic, with this slow cerebral interpretation of The Rolling Stones' 'Play With Fire' by Canadian quartet Powder Blue. This is the kind of slow-burn, subtle psych that my head needs right now, and the female crown lends this that little bit more melancholy laced with menace. I need to hear more from these girls for sure!





Now let's scruff it up some. Jack Lee is in Sydney's slacker beer swillers Beef Jerk (they wrote that addictive tune 'Schooners' last year) and is venturing out with a solo release on Osborne Again Records. Here is the first taste, a cover of Australian indie stalwarts The Cannanes' 'Stories To Be Kept Under Lock And Key' (we all have an abundance of those...). It's a predictably scrappy affair with a healthy does of sunlit brevity, tilted off-key warbles, and wasted grins. Perfecto.




Finally let's drone ourselves into the ground with the ever excellent Nadja. They have covered The Cure's 'Faith', a 12 minute delving into the underworld that you can find on Berlin label SP√ĄTI PALACE's second compilation collection, which you can get for free here. It's incredible, and also includes songs from SM fave Crystal Shipsss and also Soda Fabric, who you will hear about also soon enough...but until then, revel in the down.


If you are in Brisbane tonight, get along to either the Mad Nanna show out at Chardons Corner, or Canadian punk reprobates Thee Nodes will be smashing the 199 artspace with help from lurking jerks from Melbourne Gentlemen - you will see me at either/both.

Rocks-Cakes-Cloud-Hand


It's hard to describe NY five-piece Cloud Becomes Your Hand. Best just jump wholeheartedly into their world then. Their latest release is Rocks Or Cakes, out now on Northern Spy Records. A cross between Animal Collective ADD energy underscored with the more Xanax-sprinkled undercurrents of Inner Islands releases, with a bunch of quirky, deliberate missteps along the way, Rock Or Cakes is a pretty good album title for what lie within. There are traditional pan pip folk from a mechanical Hell ('Bees Going Postal'), Dirty Projectors on acid in a paint mixing machine ('Felt Beetle'), Mr Oizo on downers in a vat of formaldehyde at the penultimate scene of a Paul Thomas Anderson film ('Theme From Baby Age') - its a fantastic yet mind bending sojourn into a rancorous world. (I realise that this review is pretty ridiculous - but I did warn you they were hard to describe...plus they are on Northern Spy, that should have been all you needed to know)...


Grab Rocks Or Cakes here.

Feel The Faux Fur


It's good to be able to find bands that are still hooked on the uneasy tensions underpinning off-kilter guitar rock that great, now sadly defunct Canadian band Women doled out in veritable spades. Faux Fur's self-titled debut isn't exactly new - it was floating about the Internet last year, you might have even heard 'Rough Palms' here or there - but those rad dudes at Faux Discx finally done right by these boys and put it out on a cassette. The connection to Women is both literal (the drummer is a Flegel) and aesthetic - the intricate, spindly guitarwork that feels ephemeral, crafted out of dust motes floating in sunlight sneaking through the slits of a Venetian blind, everything in shades of grey, brown, black; cymbal tapping drums that percolate, ferment, and bubble forth; vocals that echo out from a lost radio station on a lost highway, neither dusk nor dawn, stuck in a time that time forgot; all coalescing in a piano-wire tension of increments that succumbs to fitful bursts of energy and abandon before being subdued once more...

It's this level of post-punk - a meandering exercise in concise mantras and clipped mannerisms, a sepia sepulchre ensconced in the wall of a forgotten tomb, forlorn yet restless - that I always find most entrancing. And seeing as those haunted netherworld vocals come from an eighteen year old - their power is only growing. 


Grab Faux Fur here. It's a fantastic release, and nigh on impossible to choose a favourite track - although I'm mostly digging 'Laundromat' and 'Saw You Standing' right now.




Thursday, 15 May 2014

FOOTY BRAH


Seriously, I don't know how to review Jersey Flegg, the debut (and possibly only ever) album from Sydney band You Beauty. There are so many contradicting variables here that should make this record bloody terrible. First of all, just look at the band photo. Not that these guys look terrible - they just look like a quintessential 2010's era guitar band from Australia. You Beauty looks like dolewave writ large and at its worst - the Urban Dictionary definition image. Secondly, the album is a concept album. Jesus, this is diving. Thirdly - it's about a faded rugby league player suffering with faded glory days, heart pangs, alcoholism and his own sullied self-worth. Fourthly - it's called Jersey Flegg. That is like park footy basically.

But...BUT...

The four piece are from Sydney bands who are steeped in angular seriousness - Hira Hira, Absolute Boys, Mere Women, Ohana - and are all technically great. Each song on Jersey Flegg is meticulously constructed and paced. It's funny and memorable (which has it elevated about many of their contemporaries right there).

Then there are lines like this:

"They wanna know about 93 when everything looked so good for me/Id pull up to the ground in my LTD with its grain on the dash and leather seats" and "I bought a house for me old man/And one for me mother/That's where I live now" (both from 'Mennal Mondays')

"Saw you at a thing for children's TV/The club sent me cause I had choof in my pee" (from 'Ann-Maree')

"You coulda had Whispering Jack play at your wedding day" and "It's back to chasing thrills down at the Cross" (both from 'Now Her Skirt')

"Went to training drunk...fuck it!/Had to have a spew in the oranges bucket" (from 'Crummy Thoughts')

Seriously - the whole album is inimitably quotable. This is littered with Australian colloquialisms that not only makes me laugh, but are sung with such honesty by Will Farrier that you can't help but believe in this inner west Sydney underdog story. Favourite song? 'Scent of my Youth'. Brilliant guitar line, even better drumming, and the vocal delivery of Farrier as he details the protagonist's grassroots, working class childhood and the clear trajectory he was always destined to follow...but then it bleeds into the bizarre yacht rock love song 'Ann-Maree' - and then there is the penultimate mentor track where he actually meets "Rabbits" Warren, the famous rugby league commentator...then there is the wry redemption song 'Off The Bench'...

Do you see? None of this should work. It should be a bad, mistimed joke, worthy of a grin filled with chagrin, missed opportunities and Matty Johns in a mawkish, mugging cameo. And it's so Aussie, and even niche within the demographics of stalwart NRL junkies. Instead, it's an incredibly well crafted album, and deliberately not twangy, twee or too easy to play. It's got the cast off swagger of an 80s pub/lounge band swinging from post-punk brevity and New Wave wistfulness. It's about fucking rugby league. And it's possibly the best album of 2014 - GLOBALLY.

Go figure.

You really need this album. Grab Jersey Flegg on digital here, and on cassette through newly-minted Brisbane label Second Empire here.


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

An Excellent WTCHS' Curse

Canadian hexed howlers WTCHS brought out a new EP on Out Of Sound Records. It's Not A Cross, It's A Curse is five songs of feverish, haunting brooders, lurking in the shadows in their own filth. Five lullabies for the insane. Five nightmares of sewer dwelling triumph. Remember Kong? Miss them, right? Here is the legitimate successor. I want to wax lyrical about the maniacal catharsis this brings, but these words will do. Get it NOW - this is one of the best releases of the year, hands down.

Fear The White Reaper


Another month, another prolonged absence from the blog. What with tours and new releases on the label I have dropped the ball again. Lucky I have so much good music to come back to.

Ill kick off today with Kentucky dropkicks White Reaper. Their Conspirator/The Cut 7” was one of the standout small form releases of 2013 (check out what we thought here) and they are back in action with a slightly longer release, their eponymous debut EP (out through Polyvinyl). There is a raw gnarl about their garage punk stylings that keeps them fresh and surging through the pack of staid wannabes. Listen to the likes of 'Funn' or 'Half Bad' - this is Jeff The Brotherhood forcefed coke and sweat and run over with cement, with their maniacal grins cracking off their faces.  And the trio aren’t silly, bringing back the killer ‘Conspirator’ for a second helping, an octane caterwaul that raises the stakes on Japandroids' gritted garage rows.

Pre-order White Reaper (on clear pink 12") here. The huge news is that White Reaper is supporting the mighty Young Widows on their Stateside tour - awesome work!!


Saturday, 3 May 2014

Pug Mutts Ain't So Singular


Pugs are pretty cute. I know a couple, Matt and Sarah, that have a rad pug. His eyes get pretty buggy, but he's a cool customer.

Same with Brazil label Pug Records. They've been around for about five years pumping out some cool underground stuff - Filipe Alvarim I'm pretty sure brought his EP or album out on them, or both (I should fact check, but I'm hungover in Fitzroy writing this as I wait for a Bloody Mary). Well they are doing a singles club thing. First two releases are below. Housekeeper  is scuzzy, tape-melted red-bled noise pop in the early Times New Viking vein. Japanese band apparently, although I can't find out anything about them. You know hooks are there too, some where hidden underneath that maelstrom of white static. Then there is the amazing Sao Paulo based Ciro Madd - 'You and Me' is a stone cold classic. I've been on a Kinks fix lately, and this feels like something they might have written as late teenagers with the Beatles in a Manhattan loft in 2014. The low, crooning vocals, the keys, the tone of the guitar, the jaunty drums - Jesus, I will watch the rain all the rest of my life if it means listening to this on repeat. Well done boys.



Friday, 2 May 2014

Friday Cover Up - It's A Ferry Terje Thaaaaaaaaang


Another short post. This is about Todd Terje. A Norwegian DJ/producer who's made a lounge New Wave 80s album called It's Album Time that is goddamned amazing. Seriously. I should write at length about this record, as it's currently one of my favourites of the year. Which, if you are a regular on Planet Masala, might be hard to swallow. But there is a lot you don't know about me - such as my love of Roxy Music. Which is what makes Terje's interaction with Roxy Music alum Bryan Ferry amazing. What elevates it even more is that it's a cover of Robert Palmer!? It's even more incredible than that sounds. Sexy yacht rock forever.


Official Prototype Of The Martyred


I had no idea what to expect when I picked up Under Colour of Official Right, the sophomore record for Detroit post-punks Protomartyr. The cover of the snarling mongrel dog gave me a sense of what to expect. Except - this isn't a metal throwback, a punk bile purge, or a wailing slur of misbegotten angst. No. Protomartyr many be the smartest band of their ilk going round for a number of reasons. Firstly, the lyrics are overly verbose and literate, referencing novels, news stories and diatribes; the vocal are delivered in a mixture of distanced confidence, barely contained anger, and feigned disdain that barely masks the chagrin at life's opulent disgraces; but its the instrumentation here that slays me. Everything is so tempered, bled out in increments, fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle made out of sinew and bone, a boiling machination of tension and sweat-drained intensity. If Interpol could just have a bit of fun, and read the papers once in a while, listened to a glut of 90s Chapel Hill bands (and Alice In Chains...) and watched The Sopranos for kicks, maybe they could have followed Turn On The Bright Lights with something akin to the braced aggression in silken throes that is Under Colour of Official Right. But they didn't. Protomartyr did. Not afraid to tear things asunder nor fly brazenly for the stadium sun - this has been a long time coming.


Pick up Under Colour of Official Right through Hardly Art here.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Dances In Defekt Dreams Of The Skull


Sweden noise monks The Skull Defekts and their charismatic necromancer leader Daniel Higgs (this is the third record he has now recorded with the band) are back, with typically verbose and cryptic LP Dances in the Dreams of the Known Unknown (out once more on Thrill Jockey). There have been some backhanded compliments thrown this album's way - and after the excellence of last record Peer Amid, such reservations are warranted. The thing is, I am loving the primordial sworl, the primitive space, the way Higgs' vocals seem to be echoing out of an alternate reality, a vast darkness before life began. The album rides on the darkness, the roiling angularity of guitars, yet on 'Awaking Dream' we are taken into the desert and left to travel on our own, Higgs as spiritual guide, totem, and possible Loki. Because there is always a sense of menace that builds underneath the hypnotic pummelling, the cyclical double helix of noise as catharsis, that epiphany and destruction are forever entwined. The drumming in particular forces things forward with tremulous force, a tenebrous monster from the deep, ensuring that each song feels twice as long and arduous as they actually are, the sweat burning icily through your skin, yet the duress is wished for and desired. So whilst Peer Amid may have been the more overtly ambitious (and successful) album, Dances in the Dreams of the Known Unknown is a feverish, tightly coiled cast back into the fires of the Beginning, the End, the Beginning, the End - eternal flames, pleasure as pain, pain as pleasure, the darkness in the light.


Get the record here.


The Skull Defekts - Awaking Dream from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

Full Time Freaks With White Fangs


I have to say that Full Time Freaks, the new 22 minute LP from blasted idjits White Fang, is the prefect encapsulation of the Portland band. Songs called 'Shut Up', 'High On Life' and 'Pass The Grass' tells you that these meatheads eat, drink and smoke dudes like you for breakfast. 24/7 party punk munchies. Man this is so deliciously dumb. Grab it here.