Monday, 31 August 2015

New Housewives Dance

A fortnight ago there was a noisy festival in Dalston called Wyrdout. I heard it was great. I only got to see two bands on the Friday. I finally saw Gnod (they were so loud they made me feel physically ill and I put toilet paper in my ears to stop from being put in an iron lung - so they were great) and local band Housewives. I had heard of them around the traps recently and thought they were the Sydney band of the same name. But these guys are an entirely different beast, as their EP out through Faux Discx last year and new 7" out on new local label Blank Editions attests. An NME review compared them to Pixies or Gang of Four. And while I might say there is a proclivity for Wire-esque militaristic precision, the four-piece are more in line with My Disco in their motorik rhythms and barked vocals, while embracing chaotic auxiliary percussion and atonal drones into what is already a blood-pulsing caterwaul.

'New Dance' represents the more cathartic mayhem the band can procure, while 'Time She Stopped' is a slowburn spiral into madness, starting in an ambient slipstream before tension breaks in a maniacal cataclysm of noise before breaking back into a no wave stutter...then silence. There is an album on the way - I hold high hopes for it. Expect to see Housewives on a Sonic Masala showcase before the year's out. Buy the 7" here, and listen to last year's EP below.

Wasting Nothing On Air Formation

One of the first bands I wrote about when Sonic Masala started way back in 2010 was Brighton shoegazers Air Formation. Not long after they released Nothing To Wish For (Nothing To Lose) though the band called it a day...until last year, when they got back together for some shows. Not much of a hiatus, I think you'd agree. The band are now preparing to release a new EP, Were We Ever Here, and 'The Wasted Days' is the first taste from it. It is as visceral and grandiose as ever, if not a little more energetic, the wall of noise that envelops as much an embrace as it is an affront. Were We Ever Here can be pre-ordered here through Club AC30, while the band launch the EP (with help from Night Flowers and The Enters) at the Old Bath House in Hackney September 30 - buy your tickets for that now.

Playing Outback Golf Calypso With Big Dingo

Back in 2013 I put on a Sonic Masala show that included Sydney scrubber Charles Buddy Daaboul (the other acts - Silver Screens, Multiple Man and Kigo). Formerly of the great No Art, Daaboul's brand of lackadaisical groove was disarming and I have always been interested in what comes next. What came next was Big Dingo, and as the name suggests it's a band steeped in the minutiae of being an Australian, loving the outdoors and the smell of the air, the grass, the sport, the beer, sitting back and realising "you know what? Life ain't half bad ey." Case in point: 'Outback Golf', the first taste off their debut album and a slow-paced cruiser that plays almost like ocker calypso. What's it about? Playing golf in the outback. Not stepping in wombat poo. Eating meat pies in the sun. It's funny, dorky, ridiculous, and a hell of a lot of fun. I cannot stop calling out oooooooooutback, goooooooooolf... I'm sure the neighbours are loving me.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Tiny Fingers

The Fall, the new album from Israeli band Tiny Fingers (it's their fourth), has totally blindsided me. The swirling, atmospheric intensity that comes with these coalescing psych squalls, complete with organ, took my breath away. 'Traveller Sound' emulates the dizzying acrobatics that Battles do so well; the proggy flourishes and indulgences on tracks like 'Dispatcher' fly the freakout flag as diligently and mind-meltingly as The Mars Volta (whom thee band has supported in the past). But it is how good these intricate instrumentals build and breathe that is stunning - from the frenetic, kinetic title track to the contemplative yet bombastic 'Music For The Sun' (which seems to tip the hat to Yes, Pink Floyd, Eluvium and Explosions In The Sky, all through a very idiosyncratic filter). The Fall is breathtaking and transcendental - I haven't said enough about it. Let's hope this record explodes, because Tiny Fingers are that good.

Hits From The Box #112 - Frightful Holidays

I head back to work tomorrow. Grim. Sonic Masala's show last night was good though. Plus it's Frightfest here in London, a showcase of a shedload of horror. Gleefully grim. I saw We Still Live Here on Friday. Plus seeing Nina Forever tomorrow. And in the meantime I'm listening to these bad guys. Sometime horror is the only way to get through the horror. 

Getting the gutter grunt rock on with Leeds' unlikely lads Pink Rick. A Different Species? You better believe it. Two tracks of vitriol, venom and vinegar. It's like they wrote these songs just for me. The B-side 'MF Giger' doesn't have the gnarled snarl of the title track, preferring to get their drone dirge on, which is just as great. Come to London, now.

Long Beach weirdo Shivering Window gets his lo-fi echo-laden creep on with 'Dreaming of Su Tissue'. An indie rock gem that has been cast into a corrosive pit and crawled back bitter and strange, the soul just visible through the hiss and sputter. This really gets here for the muted music that underpins 'Let's Make The Old School Into Our Castle' - its a disturbing beat that still has plaintive vocals wrestling it into something more aesthetically pleasant.

Boston punks Aneurysm blow out the speakers on their new Stop This Ride EP. I haven't heard any searing protopunk much at all this year, so this has been a detonation of fresh blood and viscera. You need something to soundtrack cathartic displays of violence on stationary objects and your friends? This fits the bill, and then some. Full throttle Bronx brutality.

Beijing bastards Cat Aids have tacked seven thrashy punk bilge pump tracks to a twenty minute demented cut from equally well-monikered DJ Urine. With these names you are never going to take them seriously - with cover art of a shark fucking a vomiting pink unicorn (who loves it) you know these boys are deranged. 'Zen & the Art of Bad Manners' is simple but all the more balltearing when it explodes; while 'Miao Tian' shows some dark noise tendencies that go beyond the blasted hardcore undertones here (they still pop a few veins though). 'Selfish Nation' is almost their pop song - Blur x The Fall by the way of Ian Dury and Comets On Fire. Jesus

Canadians Tough Age start out as fluffy, fuzzy punk pop (in the great, Superchunk way) on new record I Get The Feeling Central, but there are tracks here that show a more Hives-breaking alter ego, like on the brawling 'The Gutter Lemon', the bruised surf instrumental 'Landau, Luckman & Lake' and the hammered hip-shaker 'New Orleans Square'. The album licks the heels and kicks the sand into most variants of rock history with total disregard of the consequence. Great stuff.

The cover art alone for this last entry is enough to garner a horror tip of the hat, evoking as it does the cream of the pagan horror crop (I'm thinking The Wicker Man and to a lesser extent Kill List - not a lesser film, mind, just not exactly a pagan horror film, but then it is...just see it, it's brilliant). Evil Blizzard (see? They even have evil in their name!) have an eight-minute prog psych blast with 'Sacrifice'. The metallic production and theatricality of the song usually would ward off any interest, but there is something about the plodding repetition and vocals here that hypnotize me.

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Laurel's ZodiaK

Sydney shoegaze psychos The Laurels are back with a new lineup and a new song. Jasper from Decoder Ring has stepped in for Kate Wilson; and 'Zodiac K' is the first taste of the new Laurels (or any Laurels for a number of years). It's a bit of a weird, sinuous number, focusing heavily on samples, effects-shrouded vocals and a lazy, hazed groove throughout. It's a complicated hit, shirking the more shoegazey aesthetics from their hit album Plains for something more freeforming and experimental, floating in the freak paisley psych realm (which you could say Perth band Pond resides in; it isn't a surprise to see ex-Tame Impala/current-Pond Nicholas Allbrook co-touring with the band this month). It will be interesting to see where the guys head next, that's for sure.

Ghastly Obsessive Gutter Spats

The cover art and title for Sydney post-punks Ghastly Spats LP Spinozism Exorcism is a little misleading. Death/thrash metal from the bowels of Hell. Ghastly Spats ain't that. That said, 'Obsessed' is still a diseased gutter rock number, the drum smashing like shattering plates onto aluminium, the guitars feed back, swirl in their own desiccated Cramped cesspit, bass lurching along, part jaunty, party stalker, vocals barked, ripped out of the lungs. It's almost industrial in its white-noise disregard and fatalism. Brutal yet gurning scuzz fun for all (read: none) of the family. Grab the LP here.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Haunted Youth

Manchester's The Underground Youth's penchant for dark, brooding, cavernous rock is fully displayed on new album Haunted (out through Fuzz Club Records next week). There is a Gothic post-punk swoon to 'Collapsing Into Night', feeling pitched headlong into the shadows of 80s monochrome despair. This bleeds into a more plaintive title track, a faster disco beat augmenting the shift in tone (or variant thereof), before the wall of fuzz cascades on 'Dreaming Of Maya Deren'. The album continues to lurk in these black-and-white realms, but it's the spaces in between that holds the hypnotism - the quiet hiss and throb that opens 'Drown In Me' or 'Slave''s fizzing electric surges, the operatic fade in on tracks like 'The Girl Behind'. It is a melodramatic mantra, melodies that mesmerise. Haunted indeed.

King Khan Invades His Hurtin' Class

It's Friday, so let's kick out the funk, King Khan style! The hard-working garage titan is bringing out a soundtrack score to a film called The Invaders through his brand spankin' new label, Khannibalism (which looks to be focusing on unearthing unique albums such as a William S Burroughs spoken word album), and here is a great taster in 'Hurtin' Class'. The song features the mighty Ian Svenonius (Nation of Ulysses, Chain & the Gang). And if you don't start start singing along to "you belong to the hurtin' claaaaaaaas..." (even just in your head) and sliding around on the floor - then you might need your pulse checked. Grab the 7" here.

No Apologies For Circular Keys

Bedroom Suck Records has had a brace of strong releases the past few months (with Blank Realm almost upon us too), one of which is Sorry! from Melbourne duo Circular Keys. It's a nebulous lo-fi electronic fare, Phillipa O'Shea's ethereal yet powerful vocals poured over Dennis Santiago's percolating, rippling guitar, reverb and lysergic beats keeping everything moving at a psychotropic saunter (especially on 'Child (Eurogrand)'). The title track is cut up in lurching syncopation, a dub-centric loop, with O'Shea soaring above it all across the room, booming forth like Tune-Yards' Merrill Garbus, a lusty belting vocal that echoes across genres and eras. There is a shimmering mystery to Sorry!, making the tracks both entrancing and held back behind a synthetic regalia - a track like 'Eyes' becoming a dream flickering out of a 1960s wood panel television into a darkened room, velvet curtains muting the walls... Drugged dreampop from another world, another future. It is all so strange, and oh so beautiful. Grab Sorry! here.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Border Kenny Fetish

Liam Kenny is prepping another attack on the senses. Having explored the musical cover artform on his A Kenny For Your Thoughts project last year, the Bitch Prefect/Peak Twins/et al musician is punching out his first solo record under his own name. Called The White Man Is Oppressor, it promises to be pretty gnarled and visceral, if first taste 'Border Fetish' is anything to go by (which, due to his chameleonic back catalogue, isn't much - this album could be anything). A chugging, snarling punk sprawl, Kenny sneering as he garishly cuts into the psyche of the white Australian male. As hard and harsh as Cobwebbs at their most insane, 'Border Fetish' circles around the blood in the water, scraping metal distortion back and forth, a chaotic oscillation, with Kenny coughing, grunting, spitting and snarling. An attack on the privileged platform that he himself is inherently a part of, The White Man Is Oppressor is going to be an acerbic, bitter punk pill to gnash on - and one that was desperately in need of being made. You will be able to get the album through Eternal Soundcheck, but until then, hit Play and self-flagellate.

My Severe King Disco


One of my all time favourite bands, My Disco, are preparing to release Severe, their 4th LP and first record since Little Joy back in 2011. And first cut 'King Sound' sounds so much darker than I was anticipating! They have never been a joy and light band by any stretch of the imagination, but the almost industrial edge this minimalist marching dirge holds is a colder shade of black. I guess the album is called Severe for a reason, right? Their tightly-coiled precision and roiling mantras are blasted out into a darker space here - rather than controlled aggression, we have something more abject, more uncomfortable, more disturbing. I'm reminded of the creeping unease that I felt when watching the victims' demise in the great film Under The Skin last year - but something baser, more nihilistic is at play here. In short - I'm fucking excited for this record.

Pre-order Severe from Temporary Residence here - first 200 copies are clear with black smoke swirl - NICE.

Sun Crashes Down On Kitchen's Floor

Since 'Resident Dregs' hit the air with brute force earlier this year, I have been waiting eagerly for the release of Kitchen's Floor's new record, brilliantly titled Battle Of Brisbane. And now we have a track off it, 'Sundowner', and it is immediately my favourite Kitchen's Floor cut I have ever heard (although other recent track 'Resident Dregs' is bloody good too). A take on the death-march dirge, the song shows the adherence to a fuller, harsher sound, eschewing the scrappy aesthetics of previous recordings for something much more full-blooded and aggressive. It is no less raw though; the track bristles with spittle-flecked venom, an acknowledgement of how bad things have gotten, howling like a wounded beast. But there is an unabashed roar of despair and disgust to Kennedy's vocals that feels like all of the desperation of the last few years is hurling forth in a molten morass of internal and external frustrations, a mottled war cry against the pricks, real and implicit. If this is the kind of impassioned fury we can come to expect from the album, the Battle of Brisbane promises to be bloody.

Pre-order Battle of Brisbane through Bruit Direct Disques here. Kennedy is doing the solo run through Europe in September - catch him at London's Shacklewell Arms Wednesday September 16.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Hecker & Griswold In Room40

Continuing on from Andrew Tuttle, one of his many jobs is working for Lawrence English's imprint Room40, which is still celebrating its fifteenth year in existence with some great releases of its own. First of all we have the inimitable Tim Hecker, who will be released this limited edition 7" of the singular track Apondalifa as part of the reissue of the two releases he has done on the label (the other being 2007's Norberg EP). 'Apondalifa' has only been available as a download too, so it will be its first airing as a physical entity. Which is pretty exciting, as the circular undulating guitarwork, the scratching on the metal strings, should resonate in vinyl form I feel. Pre-order Norberg/Apondalifa here.

The other exciting release is Pain Avoidance Machine, the new piece by American-Australian outre composer Erik Griswold. It's an intriguing yet invigorating listen - Griswold's unique take on utilising the piano means that the plinking, hammering and caressing all seem disparate yet warmly familiar at the same time. His compositions (listen to 'Pale Yellow Frontier' below) sound electronic, constructed by synthetic means - rather, it is taking the piano at all angles, making it a polyrhythmic world of its own. You can buy this on CD here.

Heligatoring In With Andrew Tuttle

Brisbane's own electroacoustic dapper gent Andrew Tuttle is the latest artist to provide a track to the Heligator cause, which has included the likes of Braeyden Jae, Landing, Stag Hare and Clipd Beaks amongst many others (and if you haven't heard one of the first tracks, by Lake Mary and Nathan Wheeler, do yourself a favour and get it now). Heligator Records puts the funds made on all digital sales towards the continuous funding of the Malindza Refugee Camp Library in Swaziland, an incredibly worthwhile cause. Tuttle's effort is '177', his first track that focuses primarily on guitar work for some time. It still includes his preoccupations with echoing meditation, creating a chrysalis of rustic chiming chords and effects that cascade around and through you - which means it is beautiful. Definitely head over and support this worthwhile cause, and get you some rare and exciting experimental music while you're at it.

Held Over And Over At The Sunset Club

Melbourne's The Sunset Club are prepping for their first physical release real soon, and here is a taste from it. Frontman Dougie Arnott was a great help for this year's Sonic Masala Fest, helping us out over the weekend with gruntwork and positive vibes, and the band opened the Pre-Sonic Masala show at The Bearded Lady alongside Tape/Off, Turnpike and Dead Farmers. The two tracks here are punchy, both evoking the 90s guitar rock that proliferated the land and more brooding, propulsive fare as seen on B-Side 'Over & Over', with Arnott's howl taking you by the throat. Solid stuff.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Hits From The Box #111 - Shattered iDreams

I realised this week that Sonic Masala relies so much on my iPhone. I realised this because my iPhone hit the bathroom tiles a little too hard and is now out of action. On the bus, at work, over a pint in the pub, I do a lot of groundwork/correspondence/idea-crunching for all facets of SM. Bizarre to think I resisted upgrading from my trusty Nokia brick right up until 2011. First world problems I guess... Anyway here are six bands that have been fuelling the fires...

BLiNDNESS is a loud shoegaze-centric trio out of London who released debut album Wrapped In Plastic through Saint Marie Records. It's a sonic blast that comes from Debbie Smith of Curve and Echobelly, a dark shivering slithering beast of a record.

Chile is a band that has become synonymous with some solid psych rock over the past few years, what with The Holydrug Couple and Follakzoid in their midst. Maff bring the intoxication and squall on their self-titled album. Mirroring the likes of The Jesus & Mary Chain ('Walking On Fire') and injecting it with infectious indie rock ('Million Year Picnic'), Maff is a continuous gift of sonorous highs.

Here is a great little oddity out of my hometown of Brisbane. Lucid Dreamtime is a apocryphal minor masterwork from Howling Cloud, a one-man sonic explorer who marries field recordings, world music mantras and Eastern desert drawl to create a sonic afterlife, scoring a mystic journey through the looking glass. Twelve minute Opening cut 'Enter The Everywhen' is particularly stunning, but the spacious dreaming of 'Acid Rain' and the swirling drone of 'Deadman Dreaming' are great also.

A totally different pace now with San Francisco rockers Void Boys, whose Glamorpus release blasts forth with barbed hooks and growling pop heft. The four-piece supported Screaming Females recently and this says a lot about what they are about. The bass is heavy and driving, the guitars propulsive, yet there is a vivacious positivity that shines throughout, in no small part to Shannon Bodrogi's vocals. They have quieter moments, such as the building 'Culling Song', but Void Boys are best when they let everything go like on aggressive opener 'Bruxism' or the explosive pop underpinning 'Starfish'.

Nottingham punks Soul Structure have a desperate belter in The Body Of Man, a heady invective that wastes no time punching in all directions. It's a fairly sparse production, with some sinewy precise guitarwork and breakneck drumming, and it plays well into the sudden breaks in direction and pace. Each song is fidgety, refusing to stay in one groove, even spitting venom can suddenly halt without warning. This unpredictability lends The Body of Man its pent-up urgency.

I'm gonna pull up stumps with listening to New Zealand's Lowlands, a gauzy lo-fi drifting dream. I don't know much about the act, but Lowlands holds firm in its slowburn, a brooding echo-laden pop paralysis, a cavernous contemplation of hopes and dreams, revelling in the dronal netherspaces and found sounds of an arctic otherworld. Lilting and arresting, I want more of this bedroom emancipation as it invades my senses.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Trading Palm

The sketchy, hypnotic sworl of 'Crank' has held me in its thrall all day today. It is the new track from New York band Palm from their upcoming debut album Trading Basics (out through Exploding In Sound Records Inflated Records - pre-order it here). It starts off spiralling harshly out of control a la the downturned bends of Per Purpose; but once 'Crank' finds its groove it reminds me more of a energetic Tortoise, jettisoning the jazz overtones for a Sargent House-brand metallic deconstruction, but softened by the lilting vocals of Eve Alpert. It's a intriguing and intoxicating mix, and come November Trading Basics will be anything but.

Brisbane's Detonic Blessings

Detonic Recordings is lumbering out of slumber with their sixth release. The catch? You can only get it at The Bearded Lady in Brisbane on Friday August 28! What is it? Just a mixtape of some of the best wild electronic sounds to come out of the synthetic corners of the world for the last little while. Detonic is putting on the show that features mnttab, Yaws, Spirit Bunny, Wolf Shield and Corporate Vibes. It's wild. Favourites? Obviously love Yaws' contribution 'Regression', and have always loved me some mnttab and Spirit Bunny - but I also loved the garish nature of Corporate Vibes' 'Bass Strait', the sexy grind of Italian duo Schonwald's 'Slow Milk' and the post-everything romanticism of Happy Plastic Cup's closing track. It's all pretty great though (Celiac's Simple Minds cover and Prison's 'Kundle' are good too - ah, just go listen to it!)

But as you will see, the d/l is nigh on impossible to afford, so GO TO THE SHOW ON FRIDAY! Get on it! GO! GOOOO! 

Monday, 24 August 2015

Sealings Are Devilishly Noisy Bastards

When I was hunting around London for a new alternative for pressing records for Sonic Masala Records earlier this year, I hung out a bit at The Carvery, a small unit out of Hackney. They are responsible for the great-quality vinyl output that has become the Faux Discx seal of approval. And while I was there, I got a chance to listen to the new Sealings record that had just come in that day. The Brighton noiseniks have crafted an abrasive pill that you will definitely want to swallow. An aural assault (with Mike Young mastering to boot), AND it's called I'm A Bastard - what more can you want? Order it here. They launch the album Friday September 18 at Shacklewell Arms alongside The Worms and The Bomber Jackets - free show too.

Triple Obnox Treat

One of my favourite albums of last year was Louder Space, the gazillionth album from Bim Thomas, this time in his solo guise Obnox. The guy is a gargantuan maelstrom of music, so it should come as no surprise that so far in 2015 he has already followed it up with puntastic Boogalou Reed, the garrulous fun of Know America, and the forthcoming Wiglet (through Ever/Never Records).

Boogalou Reed is more flat out, scuzzed up guitar punk with 70s psych rock riff leanings - the opening two songs, instrumental 'Wonder Weed' and ballsy 'Cynthia Piper At The Gates Of Dawn', sound like a smoked rock jam and an MC5 acolyte respectively. The hip-hop riffs are largely missing here, but their absence doesn't make this any less an Obnox record - its his enthusiasm, devilish combustion and confident swagger. And that explosive guitar. And his cheek - calling a blown-out 60s garage number 'Too Punk Shakur' says it all. But he spreads the net even further afield - 'Situation' sounds like Dean Blunt in a RnB/rock meltdown; the noise rock fuckstorm that is closer 'Protopipe'; and in a truly melting performance, he delivers one of the best covers I have heard in forever with his version of Neil Young's 'Ohio' - and seeing as Neil is my man, that makes Bim my man, too.

Then hot on its heels was Know America, a "concept" album about a radio station takeover. And it is electrifying. 'Grease' has an Outkast groove, if they scuffed up their beats with layers of dirt and grime and took wholeheartedly to a punk aesthetic. 'Cracked Up' is even more straight up punk, threatening to blow your speakers with white bleed and backed-up feed. It is ferocious in its sound and approach, and that is what Obnox is all about - it is all genuine, 100% honest, with nothing left on the line. 'Menocause' slows things down, Thomas' falsetto a softer timbre, wavering in and out of a sea of chiselled distortion. 'Loudpack' grinds as it grooves, following Thomas' hip-hop-via-hendrix delivery with a few choice guitar wails and a plethora of random noises. This jump back and forth in styles and production levels (although never crystalline) heightens the concept while allowing his creative whirling dervish to spin around unabated. There is one moment of defiant cultural awareness on 'Hillbilly Intervention' - although playing at a skit-level - seems to present the racist juxtaposition of white men in rock appropriating black music then monopolising it, a broad strokes caricature but also a subversive fingers-up salute to naysayers. Maybe I'm reading too much into it - and when 'Freaky' blasts forth, at any rate, everyone knows that this is Bim's house.

So with two incredible records already in 2015, what does Wiglet (which you can and should preorder here) promise? First cut 'Look To The Sun' is a blown-out dirge, a two-minute crawl through the distorted abyss, Bim's slow, drawled croon narcoticised and blasted. It sounds as furious as ever, and promises to be a third tilt in the one year to claim my favourite album. Obnox is the goddamn TRUTH.

Hellish Highlife Made

I have to say I am a little confused by Making... I was pretty sure the Sydney trio were breaking up. But seems I was (thankfully) entirely wrong, as they release their new LP Highlife next month through Trait Records. I have been a fan of theirs since hearing their excellent self titled EP and this lives up to the long expectations. The first track that really grabs me is the fourth track on the album, 'Come To Me' - it has that My Disco brooding pendulum rhythm and clipped/barked monosyllabic vocal approach, but then it explodes into something altogether more gnarled and corrosive. 'Zs' also fits into this vein, although there is a heavier metallic expulsion here that pushes them into noisier terrain. 'Dream Job' lurches forth, a metallic monster, deliberately unsettled and unsettling, serrated and scabrous, forcing the bile into the back of the throat. Then 'Amazon' has a more sinuous groove inherent, something Battles might produce without all the theatrics; 'Pascal' has moments of reflection in the middle third that allows for the pummelling bookends to smash forth with more controlled venom; and the psychotropic freneticism of the closing title track is the weirdest yet most cathartic song on the album. It does take the foot off the neck a bit, so to speak, and it is essentially what enlivens Highlife and makes those moments of black tension and white-hot release so potent. The production is powerful and precise too, thanks to Ivan Lisyak (Narrow Lands, Tanned Christ) and Lawrence English.

Preorder Highlife here - it's a corker. Making hit the road in Australia to launch the album on these dates (which also features Sonic Masala Records band Danyl Jesu in the mix!):

5th September - Crowbar Brisbane

11th September - Black Wire Records, Sydney 
w/Marcus Whale (LIVE), Mere Women + BV (connect the dots)

12th September - The Public Bar, Melbourne 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

A Parallel Woodsman's Mind Is Better Than Most

I've had my ears blast six ways from Sunday this weekend with the brutal Wyrdout Fest roster up in Dalston. And now that it is Sunday - I still have someway to go with Helms Alee finishing the whole thing off tonight at Birthdays. So I need something to find my equilibrium - and here it is. SM faves Woodsman have been prolific at writing songs for the studio that end up not making the "feel" they want for the finished record (their Teleseparation EP after they released Woodsman in 2013 is a perfect case in point). Here is another offcut - and 'Parallel Minds (Reprise)' is yet another example that their mesmeric castoffs are better than most bands' A-game. An undulating euphoric dream, the instrumental is the perfect dream-zone cocoon I need to ensconce myself in, to recuperate and to recover to face another day. Woodsman have just repressed their self-titled record should have their fourth record ready for the New Year, cannot wait!

Someone In The Major Leagues, Sometime

Brisbane mellow guitar pops Major Leagues have punched above their weight again with 'Someone Sometime', a dreamy mid-pacer that slips through the less pastiche elements of HAIM and the melodic euphoria of Screamfeeder under a prism of sepia-toned yearning. It's an incredibly addictive song and a great introduction onto the Popfrenzy roster, with an EP (their follow-up to Weird Season a couple years ago) in the works.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Firing Up The Propane Heaters

I have been meaning to write about Michigan psych rockers Heaters for some time now - since March in fact, when they were prepping their Mean Green 7" (I was in Australia prepping the second SM Fest though so I missed the boat). The trio are releasing their album Holy Water Pool on the great Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records in September (I have featured heaps of their roster on Sonic Masala, most recently Sundays & Cybele and Kikagaku Moyo), and here is a cut off it. 'Propane' is a propulsive garage psych rock blast, rollicking along and ricocheting off the hallowed hallways of Spiritualized, Black Angels and 13th Floor Elevators with gritted teeth and a feverish shine to the eyes.


Russian shoegazers Pinkshinyultrablast are back in the swirlpool with new track 'Kiddy Pool Dream'. There is a math rock freneticism at play under the surface here that I find quite interesting, keen to see if this swells into the foreground more on their new releases ( the single will be out on a multicoloured 10" through Club AC30 in October - preorder here). Also the title is pretty great - it marries well with the lost-in-a-luminous-subterranean-cavern vocals, shimmering synth sparks and jangling spike of a guitar that permeate the song when the distorted curtain parts - and it evokes a weirdly nostalgic warmth to proceedings. And when that wall of noise comes back in force in the last minute, it plays out like a Sigur Ros/And So I Watched You From Afar hybrid - something I never thought could possibly be conceived, let along coexist - but these guys are doing something alchemical here.

Pinkshinyultrablast are in the UK late September for the Liverpool Psych Fest and will do a brace of shows on the island. They hit London's XOYO October 6.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Taipan Tiger Girls

Here is some heavyweight weirdnik noise outta Melbourne to see off the week. Taipan Tiger Girls have just released their album 1 on it Records (check it out here - there are only 100 vinyl copies made, and at least 30 sold, so search the web to hunt down these elusive gems), and it is mind-melting/blowing. 'Ritual' is an 11 minute krautrock mantra swirling in incremental metallic drag that picks up the tempo into a tribal slam, grinds out into a heady noise fever and coalesces infinitesimally into the ether. The rest of the tracks are splintered tangents off this amorphous statement of intent - the spidery percussion and fever-dream synth on 'Spiral' mesmerises; 'Ascending' squalls its way out of the sonic womb, mewling in a psychotropic industrial nightmare; 'Motion' propels headlong into the apocalyptic wastes, a car chase of wanton and inevitable destruction. 'Imprint' sends us off with pitch-shifting altered states, no longer aware of a line between fantasy and reality, euphoria and tinnitus. Brilliant.

FRIDAY COVER UP - Crossing The Telescopic Dog

It's been a busy week on the music calendar here in London. David Byrne has killed it with his Meltdown curation (I got to see Sunn O))) put in an incendiary performance at the Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday, and reports were that Jonny Greenwood's live score with a full orchestra for an airing of There Will Be Blood - of which I failed to get tickets - was brilliant); Pissed Jeans played two sell out shows at 100 Club and were on top of their (and everyone else's) game; and starting tonight is the crowdfunded noisy fest Wyrdout, featuring the likes of Gnod, That Fucking Tank, Silent Front, Bad Guys and the mighty Helms Alee. New Cross has also held some stellar gigs - the Witching Waves show at New Cross Inn last night in particular. Tomorrow night though looks to be an absolute peach too - with a "rare" performance from psych creepers The Telescopes. So in celebration of this, here is their cover of the seminal Stooges song 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' off their Fuzz Club Records split from earlier in the year. The other side of the wax? Held by none other than A Place To Bury Strangers.

The Telescopes play at New Cross Inn tomorrow with support from Vertical Slump, Virgin Kids, The Infinite Three, Sky Between Leaves and none other than SM fave James X Boyd & the Boydoids - get your tickets here (and it's meant to be a hot one so enjoy the sunshine noise and beers!)

Thursday, 20 August 2015

No Lightweight Guesswork Needed

Another year, another Ocean Party album! The Melbourne six-piece don't know how to quit, yet this isn't a bad thing - each album has shown incredible growth and (dare I say) maturity as they continue to rise from their ill-monikered dolewave Petri dish into something altogether different but nonetheless quintessentially Australian. After the 80s yacht rock flourishes filtered through last year's excellent Soft Focus, we have 'Guess Work', the first taste off Light Weight (coming out in October (Aus/NZ - November for the rest of us) through Spunk. The track starts off with a reverberating snare and guitar, and echoes of 'I'm On Fire' era Boss stirs the loins, before the shimmering guitar, somewhat ruminative vocals about a futile shooting and some barroom piano spices up the batter. We keep walking on down the line/Cos no-ones giving us a sign, Lachlan Denton intones - but on the strength of this track along, The Ocean Party don't need anyone's help. (And don't even get me started on the sax - serious Australia, killing the sax inclusions!)

PS This is my favourite Ocean Party song, hands down.

The Ocean Party will hit the road as they love to do with a series of seriously amazing shows all over the land in October/November - check out the dates and band supports below and get to at the very least one of them!

Canberra - 8/10/15 - the Phoenix With Wives & Cool Sounds 
Sydney - 9/10/15 - Vic on the Park With Mere Women, Cool Sounds & Weak Boys 
Byron Bay - 10/10/15 - Treehouse 
Lismore - 11/10/15 - See Space With TBC 
Cairns - 13/10/15 – Sing Sing Cafe With Sam Wright 
Townsville - 14/10/15 - The Rec Room With Sam Wright 
 Rockhampton - 15/10/15 - The Workshop Rockhampton With Weathered 
Toowoomba - 16/10/15 - The Spotted Cow With TBC 
Brisbane - 17/10/15 - Black Bear Lodge With Cool Sounds, Martyr Privates, Keep on Dancin's & Dag 
 Nambour - 18/10/15 - The Time Machine With Dag 
Wollongong - 22/10/15 - Spunk Records with Stolen Violin 
Yass - 23/10/15 - Thyme To Taste with TBA 
Melbourne - 24/10/15 - The Tote with Superstar, Free Time, Caroline No and Zone Out 
Wagga Wagga - 25/10/15 – Birdhouse 
Ballarat - 30/10/15 - The Eastern With Cool Sounds and Robot Fox 
Adelaide - 31/10/15 - The Metro With Wireheads, Cool Sounds, The Yabbies and the High Beamers Tolmie – 1/11/15 - Lawsfest 
Perth - 6/11/15 - The Bird with METHYL ETHEL & Verge Collection 
Fremantle - 8/11/15 - The Newport Hotel with Dream Rimmy, Erasers & Big Jesus 
Hobart - 14/11/15 - Brisbane Hotel with Day Ravies, HEART BEACH and Peak Body 
Launceston - 15/11/15 - Fresh with Heart Beach

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Whacked Beauty

I have made no bones about how great I thought Sydney outfit You Beauty's NRL concept album Jersey Flegg was last year. Some of my choice words about that amazing record is here. It's perfect in every way. But you also got a sense that the concept may have maketh the band - that unless we heard more stories about washed up rugby league stars who rise above the ruin of suburban malaise and faded glories to find their own belated redemption, there would be no more You Beauty.

With 'Illywhacka', all fears are put to rest. Opting to sidestep the grassroots footy dynastic saga (it is a perfect tome as it stands), the band have come out with a new story that needs unearthing, something darker in the terms of a stalker... While the details aren't yet forthcoming, I am nonetheless on board. And the track? It is crystalline, punchy, tongue-in-cheek yet deliberate - what is becoming a quintessential You Beauty trait, then. While in a different realm, there could be parallels made to Brisbane's The Stress of Leisure, what with the enthralling stories, evident swagger, addictive grooves and a propensity to walk very much in their own style without input from any other touchstone or influence.The album will also be called Illywhacka, and is again find its way out into its own skewed world with help from Rice Is Nice in the upcoming months.

Splintered Perfume Garden Of Infinite Time

Errol Hoffman is back! I had the pleasure of having him perform as Perfume Garden the fourth and final (for now...) Campfire Tales series of small intimate shows at The End a couple of years ago - his subtle modulated synth bleeds blew my mind. He has just released Splintered Time through Feral Media, a seven track narcotic sojourn into the synthetic twilight of Blade Runner soundscapes - and I think it's brilliant. The augmented drones, reedy wavering synths, the rising baritone effects, gives an aural equivalent to looking at futuristic night skies through soft lens. Vangelis for the apocalyptic desert; a drug induced dreamscape both sinister and ethereal. As I said - brilliant.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Ruling The Underworld By Thirds

Adelaide goth punks Rule Of Thirds have just come back home to roost after successive successful tours of the US and their homeland, all to hex the world with their new record (out on Nopatience Records). Their cold and calculating charms are put into effect with opener 'Any War', which is a slow, atmospheric lurker that throws any first-timers off what they are in for for the rest of the album. That said, the six-minute song is beautifully haunting, a cavernous slowburner that ekes out its plodding bassline and sinuous feedback skree in slow motion, and surprisingly remains my favourite track. Surprising only in that I knew where the rest of the album was likely to take me. Sliding effortlessly somewhere between the cold, standoffish guitar lines of Slug Guts, the blue blush synth of Pleasure Symbols, and the effortless echoing cool of Multiple Man, with added punk swagger a la Occults (throw in Gazar Strips, all past and present Brisbane bands, bizarrely), Rule Of Thirds manages to take all elements of the Australian Gothic rock niche and trump them all. Things become a little more unhinged and macabre when the tempo picks up - 'Higher Forms', 'Fingerprints' and 'Blue And Red' take us on the ghost train to Hell. 'Pleasure Hive' takes its time, preferring to drag us kicking and screaming by tufts of our hair. A sinister and seductive listen, you can get Rule Of Thirds here.

Penguins Creeping On The Sabbath

Hot off the presses is the slice of anarchic noise from Melbourne reprobates Penguins (featuring Pete from the excellent Vacant Valley label). 'Creeping Unknown' is appearing on the forthcoming second volume of Sabbatical's Knife Culture compilations. The track is three minutes of VHS horror without the visuals - your mind is more vivid and terrifying than any gutter bin nasty could ever fathom to put to tape. And all under three minutes. Penguins have always been a band that excite and terrify in equal measure - and here is another prime example why.

Flyblown Mutton

I got to see the diseased maelstrom that is Mutton in May last year when they supported Gazar Strips (during their Sparkling EP launch) and Scul Hazzards in the Grace Darling basement. The band were a force of nature, yet somehow vomiting vitriol in a controlled vein - it reminded me more of a latter-day Pissed Jeans show, or of Brisbane contemporaries Clever (hurry up and put something out guys!) I hope I have the opportunity to push these guys as a Sonic Masala band sometime in the future, as their brutish debut self-titled EP is closely followed up by 7” Flyblown. I say closely - I've had digitals of this for a long time, but vinyl delays (don't you love em?) have held off the fury until now. Aurally we step away from the pigfuck mantras a little - the anarchic dirge of 'Awkward' plays into the bloodstained embrace of Tom Waits and David Yow bareknuckling it in a carnival knockout in Hell - but then songs like 'Cocoon' are chaotic blasts of diseased glee. The band maintain a calibrated desiccation, a mid-pace march into the maw of carnage, laughing at the futility of it all. It all hinges on the maniacal howls and presence of Max Ducker, who looks like he has just shirked the butcher's apron but is still smeared in livestock viscera, brandishing a verbal cleaver, the corner of his mouth and whites of his eyes twitching in unison. Melbourne is strangely adept at carving out damaged noise punk that hits like blunt trauma and leaves you addicted to the aggression. Add this Mutton grist to your mill.

(NB - this is a painful reminder that I haven't got tickets to Pissed Jeans here in London tonight. Sigh. But I have scored a ticket to see Sunn O))) as part of Meltdown as curated by David Byrne. I am mightily tempted to go and watch while listening to this on the headphones. Fuck em all).

Buy Flyblown (in oxblood red, of course) here.

Monday, 17 August 2015

No Free Agent

Angie has another album on the way in Free Agent. For a very short period (like, a couple of days) I thought it might have been a Sonic Masala release, but Rice Is Nice have done us the pleasure of putting out this incredible record. This isn't as scabrous as her first solo record Turning, but is a great addition to what is an ever-intriguing musical voice in the Australian music undergrowth.

It starts out in a maudlin space on 'Breathing In Blue', Angie's haunting vocals echoing over the crashing of waves and plaintive keys. 'Crocodile Tears' takes us into a chugging rhythm, a garage nosedive haunting the twilight backwaters. (Angie might kill me here, but when the pace slows here, I feel the spectre of Hole's 'Doll Parts' in delivery and atmosphere - but for me it's an inimitably good thing, especially when given the scuffed up and forlorn treatment as it is here). 'Down For The Count' has even more grit in its teeth, a slackjawed swagger and sway, a rock tune that is rough in production and delivery. Things get more 70s glam punk on 'Out Of Age', with a tinny production that sounds both cavernous and transistor radio, and it slays. 'Paris Face' has a lilt in its rollicking throwback rock that reminds me of Veronica Falls at their most avuncular. 'Ricky Street' shuffles along with a more world-weary bent, and the guitar solo holds that burden like Neil Young at his most rustically rambunctious. In some ways mirroring the opener, 'The Bell Rings True' is Angie and keys, but this time a little more avant-pop, the keys following Angie's lilts and swoons, a plaintive accompaniment, and an effectively stark closer.

You can hear the aural fingerprints of Straight Arrows bandmate Owen Penglis in the conception of Free Agent, yet this is definitely Angie's beast, one we should all be celebrating. It comes out via Rice Is Nice and friend Nathan Roche's Glenlivet A Gogh Records next month - cannae wait (pre-order it here).

Grieg Retaliates Ferociously

Grieg are a newish band in Brisbane with some serious pedigree. John plays in Dick Nasty and Undead Apes; Alex plays in No Anchor and is involved in brilliant project A Savage God; and Tamara is from gargantuan party-starters/killers HITS. Their debut LP Retaliate First combines all the brutal elements from these backgrounds, presenting a triple-pronged assault on the senses. There is the acidic humour and hubris in the lyrics; the black riffs of 80s metal at its highest ebb; and thundering, deliberate drumming that controls as it pummels. The jacket once again emblazoned with Gillies' brilliant artwork, this is a record that is nests in your brain, with more to unlock with each listen, a hook to savour, a line to chuckle or cheer for, a break that halts the breath. Bring on the noise.