Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Perfect Sweet Talk

If you aren’t in love with Austin punks Sweet Talk after their Ramones-meets-Bolan brain buzz opener ‘Someone Else’ screams out of the speakers from their new LP Double Perfect, then we probably will never be friends. Taking punchy punk and freebasing pop nous wholesale, the four-piece tracks here are fast, loose and addictive as all hell. It can be incredibly buoyant and pop-centric, almost teeth-rottingly so, but therein lies their inherent charm. Take ‘Your Touch’, the penultimate track that feels like a day-glo guitar pop pastiche, Buddy Holly on Ritalin, then floats out in an extended instrumental coda with sci-fi synth, a great bassline left to hang out on its own at the death… The band is tight, playing songs that bounce and stick (straying towards shtick without crossing that line), and held in check by a rigidity that only comes from kicking out the jams every once in a while. Double Perfect was recorded in part by Matthew Melton of Bare Wires and Warm Soda – bands also dealing in polishing the past with the fervent energy and unabashed dynamism of the present – and OBN III’s Orville Neeley, so although these songs are shiny, they retain an inherent grit. Double Perfect ain’t perfect, but is so subliminally entrenched in the rock and roll psyche of yore that your tinnitus will fall in sync with their tunes. Grab it here.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Soldiers Of Fortune Are Tough As Nails

Man, this track kills. 'Nails' is the new song from veritable rock god supergroup Soldiers Of Fortune, whose album Early Risers comes out on Mexican Summer in November. Featuring slayer Kid Millions (Oneida, Man Forever et al) on the drums, and Oneida buddies Barry London and Papa Crazee, Jesper Eklow (Endless Boogie), Matt Sweeney (Chavez), Mike Bones and Brad Truax, Soldiers Of Fortune are built to kill all speakers and pretenders. But that isn't enough for these heavy lifters, asking for the aid of the likes of Dan Melchior, Cass McCombs, and goddamn STEPHEN MALKMUS. Yep, this is a blasted rock testament. You thought you knew your rock and roll? Soldiers of Fortune just put the final nail in its coffin, set it on fire and watched it rise like the phoenix, reborn. I haven't heard anything so unadulterated yet so good in a long, long, LONG time. Pre-order this bad boy here - do it NOW.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Loving Frog

The guy who runs micro-label Audio Antihero lives just up the road from me here in South East London - our shared love of local cafe Fig & Pistachio, good strong coffee and "expensive toast" notwithstanding, he has also turned me onto New York duo Frog. A simple name for a complex animal - as is the case here. Audio Antihero is releasing their eponymous EP and Kind Of Blah LP on vinyl, and they are well worth picking up. Case in point - 'Icabod Crane', the opener from Frog. It's a heady, verbose earworm, with Dan Bateman's vocals tightroping between the manic twang of Isaac Brock and the weed-ridden whimsy of Wayne Coyne, and a glockenspiel chiming surreptitiously in the background as the strumming guitar devolves into a sonic unravelling. The whole mini-album is as breathtakingly manic and brilliant as this opening gambit, and while in my opinion Kind Of Blah seems a little more reined in, it is no less enthralling, especially in 'Fucking' and 'King Kong'. The more I listen to these guys, the more I am blown away - I realise this review doesn't do these releases anywhere near enough justice, so just buy the fucking things already. Frog are rumoured to be playing in London in January next year - stay posted!

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Hits From The Box #116 - Waiting To Speak

I spent all day sitting around the house yesterday, waiting for my new speakers to arrive for my record player, just to be told at 4pm that the delivery date was wrong. So pissed. So to vent in a productive way, I wrote another Hits From The Box to stop myself from throwing things I would later regret breaking...

I thought I would start with a band that I will be seeing on Thursday night. Supporting the brilliant Brisbane band Blank Realm at Shacklewell Arms will be Rats On Rafts, who have just released and are launching their own record Tape Hiss through Fire Records in a couple weeks. The Rotterdam rapscallions have crafted a gnarled fever dream of an album, opening with the languid crawl and sepulchral roar of 'Sleep Little Child', a surreptitious 8 minute opener that shows brio and brawn - a muscular psych trip in the frigid climes of your hallucinogenic mind. It continues on, a clouded, fuzz-blown affair that reeks of Husker Du imbibings - which is brilliant. They will return to the UK in November to play with Mourn at The Lexington, by which time you will be as firm a fan of the four-piece as I am, I'm sure.

I dug their split with Dogtooth a while back, and now New Orleans trio Woozy are championed by Exploding In Sound, a veritably unsinkable seal of approval here on Planet Masala. The band are releasing LP Blistered, and 'Gilding The Lily' is equal parts off-kilter indie jangle, emotional wrangle, and explosive catharsis. Almost if The Album Leaf was more interested in Slint and early Built To Spill. Goddamn, I'm sold.

When you name a song 'Brown Rainbow', you are either a puerile punk band or have a fiendish sense of humour. Texans Pinkish Black aren't really either - their new album 'Bottom Of The Morning' is a warped duo intent on obliterating genre borders, thus levelling the playing field and creating an atmospheric borderlands all of their own. Lathering Krautrock, lurking menace, horror score synth and bleak soundscapes over their brittle gloom, it is somehow incredibly hypnotic and infectious. And the brown/yellow vinyl is something else. These guys are scary good (and on Relapse, another great label of quality) - grab the LP here.

Stepping back and forward in time, taking a pagan atmospheric folk take on stadium melancholy, is 'Gunsmoke', a great track from Kentucky's Ancient Warfare. The Gothic lamentation is haunting yet somehow euphoric, unashamedly backward looking, searching the backwaters and fog-strewn plains, taking Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young and burying them six feet deep in an ancient burial ground, summoning their spirits as harbingers of regret. I really like this one.

Tam Vantage is probably better known as a member of The Stevens or frontman of Pop Singles. But he does his own solo stuff too - and has an album, Life In High Definition, out this month through Lost and Lonesome Records. The through lines to Australian moody pop mainstays The Go-Betweens and The Church are warranted, and the silky instrumentation is evident here, but Vantage is more interested in exposing the fallacies and hypocrisies that are evident in the digital age. Reminds me a little of a more maudlin, grungy Dave Graney, especially with his delivery and the present hum of synths here. Worth checking out.

Let's finish off with another Exploding In Sound endorse product, shall we? Sugarwater is the new record from Washington trio Swings, out next month, and 'Tiles' is a 90s echo, inhabiting the space of sadness, wistfulness and whimsy that many great maudlin guitar rock bands mined. Think Pedro The Lion, The Appleseed Cast or Braid - yep, Swings promise to hover at the heels of these giants. To believe these guys are still in college is phenomenal. Really looking forward to hearing the rest of this bad boy in November.

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Expectations Hurt

Berlin punks Pretty Hurts are back already, with an aptly titled 7" in Expectations. After their Makes Graves blew me away back in January, I have been feverishly waiting to see what else they have in the bank. The four tracks here are metallic, echo heavy, distorted pieces of black alienation and desperation - the heat and sweat and despair expelled in fetid swathes of noise. It's over far too quickly. Fierce and uncompromising, Pretty Hurts are smashing a hole in the German underground. Grab a copy here.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Rise Of The L.O.T.I.O.N

My brother-in-law sent me a message the other day, saying that after a long stretch in electronic maelstroms he had found a couple guitar albums that gripped him. Digital Control And Man's Obsolescence is one of these albums. The band - New York hardcore noiseniks L.O.T.I.O.N. It kicks off with the winding up of helicopter engines, cataclysmic drumming sounding like automatic fire, feedback heralding in Hell on earth. The sharp short songs inflict wounds both real and imagined, a firebrand brutalism that revels in industrial destruction and repetitive mayhem - with tracks titled 'Ultimate Wound Kit', 'Torture Report' and 'Fukushima Fallout', the desolation is feral and complete. It plays on real life global fears, and perceived futuristic fallouts on the horizon, as mesmerised by human evil as cyberpunk dystopias. There is no hope, no salve, no miracle cure - and L.O.T.I.O.N. exist to aggravate the wounds.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Hits From The Box #115 - Beery Kernel Of Truth

By the time you read this, I will be nursing a hangover, brought on by the bad boy above (NB: the hangover wasn't that bad - nothing binge Netflix and a couple more beers didn't fix). Last night (now; it's currently Saturday afternoon, so I'm pre-empting here) (NB: it's actually Wednesday - didn't quite get to pull the trigger on this post before the booze began to flow...) I went to a 30th at a pub literally a minute's walk from my house where they're serving this, so my night is sorted. I think I will need extra sonic aid to get through the day, so here are eight acts that will hopefully drag me through into the night...

Chain Of Flowers hail from Cardiff in Wales, and are making major waves. Their thundering Gothic post-punk has borne comparisons to early Cure and Birthday Party, while their support slots with the likes of Ceremony and upcoming Destruction Unit (tomorrow) and Uniform (October 26) shows prove that people are taking notice. There is more of a through-line with UK contemporaries Eagulls with their crushing sound and heart-bleed emotion in my opinion, which is a good thing, but the six-piece are carving their own path. Chain Of Flowers is out through Alter.

Going Swimming are a loose as garage band from Melbourne, as influenced by the garish psychobilly punk of The Cramps as they are by more contemporary psych-tinged fare, and their hi-octane meltdowns are pushing them into the stratosphere. Their new release Deadtime Stories takes on the iconic RL Stine kids horror anthology Goosebumps artwork, and 'Yoko, Oh No!' is a surf-instrumental hellbent on riding the wave into Hell, dragging us all with them. And this isn't a bad thing - like contemporaries Mesa Cosa, these guys are tearing up.

London punx Teenage Caveman are determined to tear a gritty hole in the faces of all who stand in their way on their EP, appropriately called Die Nasty. They are just as interested in finding an insidious groove to hang their clang and clamour on, lent dementia and verve by the theatrics and wails of Simone Grey-Ritson. 'Be The Waitress' shows the band in full flight, but each track is coloured by a different brush - 'Mars' plods along, a blues-esque dirge speared into delirium; 'From H2O' playing like Life Without Buildings having overdosed on Talking Heads, The Police and blue cheese; while closer 'The Fall' is a narcoleptic hallucination in a D-grade hardboiled noir set on a 60s space station. It's all suitably strange - something that pays to see in the flesh (if not the light of day).

Austin label Funny/Not Funny Records has a pretty consistent track record with their releases, and their latest looks to follow suit. Crystals For The Brass Empire is the transmogrified monster that is The Diamond Center's new album - a collective of artists that pass through the doors like a veritable carousel, all intent on laying down languid somnambulist jams that melt into the starry desert night. The centrifugal force is the mainstays, Kyle Harris and Brandi Price, and their woozy meditative take on psych folk fare seems nuanced and focused here, even as it floats out into the ether. A good album to hunt down.

Over to Bristol in England now, for the mathy melters Falling Stacks' album No Wives (with the great goat cover art). The Shellac comparisons are somewhat warranted, but there is a more angular and frenetic delivery to these tracks that set them apart and match them more to the Leeds-centric noise bands over the past few years, with an off-kilter sense of melody that the likes of Fugazi and the Minutemen owned. I would love to see these songs in action - the stop/start momentum is breakneck, a whiplash immolation from stasis to terminal velocity in tracks like 'No Stops' that slide nicely into the edgy rock of 'A Fly Would Slide', would make for my kind of live set. Their tour sets off next month, with a show in Worcester with Hey Colossus - nuclear meltdown imminent.

Spokane kids Wild Pacific whipped some feelings within me with their track, er, 'Feelings'. It's off their EP Stacy St Clair, and it's a cracker - both surf-swept and bruised cruiser, with some decidedly soothing solo twang helping push the urgent tempo and some impressive drumming. It is by far the strongest track here, and really says a lot about what this trio can be. Look forward to hearing if the boys can forge forth out of this buzzed earworm, that's for sure.

PNKSLM Records continue to push some great garage/psych hybrids, the latest being the laconic pop shine of The Foetals. 'Fine' has the nostalgic sheen of a 60s guitar pop matinee idol, backed up by second cut 'Malted'. The work from Pink Teens/Temple Songs' Jolan Lewis, Meet The Foetals promises to be the ode to a childhood spent playing air guitar in the mirror on a rainy Sunday as parental records spin lazily by, a portal into a seemingly sunnier time, where even melancholy meditations sound like daydreams.

And to finish off today, we are going with an act that links back to last week's Hits From The Box. We finished off that post with Vancouver's TV Ugly, whose Alie features in Supermoon, another bubbly guitar pop gem whose Comet Lovejoy EP is heaps of fun. There is a lo-fi fuzz and echoed malaise that keeps these tracks from turning twee, but the insistence and buoyant melodies and songs called 'Powersuits' steer close to the types of bands that litter the Fortuna Pop and Slumberland labels. There are 60s pop moments with doses of other touchstones - mild lashings of a sedated Deerhoof, a happily medicated Veronica Falls, a skittish, off-kilter Breeders... It's a really cool record, with grit in the likes of 'Cowardly' to offset the sugar - get in there.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Positively Diät

Another cold, harsh, awesome post-punk gem out of Iron Lung Records here through an East Berlin based act called Diät. Positive Energy is anything but - a plodding Total Control channelling Joy Division duality of rigidity and excess. Easy comparisons perhaps, but it is what it is. 'Young & Beautiful' is as dour working class gaze as you can get, while 'Toonie' is far more frenetic yet no less sullen and sour. They even cover The Cannanes of all bands with Blue Skies Over The Ocean, an indie gem given the black denim turned up against the cold punk treatment. This band is incredibly taut and tight, a fierce unit, but there is a drollness here that adds levity to their abrasive worldview - and it makes Positive Energy a fairly accurate moniker indeed. I'm really digging this. Buy Positive Energy here.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Oughta Know The Sun's Coming Down

Montreal's Ought (who also feature an Australian) brought out their second LP, Sun Coming Down, yesterday. I haven't heard it yet, although I have heard good things. In fact, I only have heard one song of theirs - this, the almost title track 'Sun's Coming Down'. The atonal modulated squall of Viet Cong or Women (admittedly they are also Canadian references, and the cacophony on display and off-kilter art guitar pop here is more akin to Sonic Youth, Talking Heads or Television, but I love the sinuous nature of those bands, and this, so there) with a Mark E Smith vocal delivery, over the top of a garish video that plays like Gregory Crewdson meets Alyssa Monks through the glossed lens of Battles' neon foodcentric artworks. It has blown my mind - I'm racing into town to pick this up NOW.

NB - I just found the whole album stream, so here it is for YOU! Grab Sun Coming Down (out through the excellent Constellation Records) here. Ought are playing the Mutations festival in Brighton 28-29 November, alongside Lightning Bolt, Om, Metz, Chelsea Wolfe, Vision Fortune, Jane Weaver and many more.

Frolicking In Field Hymns

I don't talk about them as much as I should, but one of my favourite labels of the last couple of years is the outre electronic bathysphere that is Field Hymns, constantly finding outlier synthetic sonics to stroke the brain and stimulate the soul. This morning I am enamoured by the 8-bit via cerebral ambient malaise that is Three Fourths Tigers' Indoor Voice.

The title track opens up proceedings, and somehow manages to be cavernous and intricate in synapse-frying scope. But its the dial-tone (both regular and irregular) that permeates the nebulous cryogenic lagoon that is 'Line Connector' where we realise something unique is happening here; it is a psychotropic mind melt in the first half, before holding a note like a cut-off tone before surreptitiously dipping into ambient analogue modulation. 'Windows Excel' is a more "traditional" kosmiche undulation, taking tantric synth into wide, spacious realms - an oddly soothing psychedelic suspension. 'Petrifloral' is almost pastoral in its ebullient waves, both synthetic language and organ epiphany. 'Rainbow Russ' is the score to a existential point-and-click emotive adventure, all VGA colours and vivid imaginations. 'Visitor Sphere' takes the bubbling brook motif that a lot of naturalistic sound collagers use as a carpet foundation to build more expansive, mindbending constructions, but here is allowed to complement a somewhat simplistic sonics to energise an otherworldly terrain - both field recording and satellite sound capture. The wonky buzz and hum that opens 'Other Landings' evokes the ascent/descent of extra-dimensional craft, before a bell rings off and silence, other than an oscillating permutation and a ringing presence persists - a fluttering middle-ground, a floating stasis within the mind, everything out of sync, focus, weightless ambiguity. Finishing with the slow-building amalgam of electro-futurist pioneers that is 'Ensphynx', Indoor Voice is a stunning piece of work.

But I feel remiss if I don't mention some of the other recent releases the label has pushed, especially after my post on Brisbane fringe dwellers FEET TEETH yesterday. There is Murmurs and Echoes from Norway's Andreas Brandal, which somehow manages to inhabit the iconic realm of the Spaghetti Western score made famous by Ennio Morricone, and make it a mechanised Other, with flourishes from introspective, ancient Japanese folk, immolating tape, scraping metal on deserted concrete floors, and latter-day Earth-esque meandering sunburnt instrumentals. I actually love this release more than Indoor Voice - but came to it later. Seriously though, it is bloody breathtaking.

Then there are these two - the Krautrock-via-Pink Floyd dream that is The Snowfields' new album How To Get Good Sound From A Dead Ear; and The Man Who Drank God, the truly warped parallel universe lost recordings of a death cult that is Ak'chamel The Giver Of Illness.

Field Hymns are always pushing the boundaries, confronting and consuming, and will always be worth your time.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Doing The Dialling Dog With Blue Bloods

Here is some fucked-up scuzz from Auckland gutter punks The Blue Bloods. That's right, don't let the name dissuade you - these guys are all about throwing shit to the four winds and not caring what sticks. Phone Sex is all about being seedy, scoring, sleazing, in the dives and holes of the dankest places you can degrade yourself in - 'Methadone Queen', 'Disco Punk Daddy' and 'Razorblade Legs' drips with slurred, spiked spit. I'm not even sure how I came across these diseased release, but I'm infected now - as are you too, now. There is a deliberate lecherous yet killer lurk vibe going on here (especially in the slow grind of 'VERSACE') that I love - it is something that I have always enjoyed by Cobwebbs, although they are a different beast altogether (I kinda feel The Blue Bloods are a bit more loose in every which way). Who cares, let's lose ourselves and all get in the muck together, this Friday night is about to spiral out of control.

Girls Scrying On Girls Scrying

If there is one thing that is always assured, it's that a Girls Pissing On Girls Pissing release is going to be dark, garish, disturbing, visceral and seductive - something like an Argento film, directed by David Cronenberg circa '79, from a script co-written by Ben Wheatley and the Soska Sisters. The band played one of my favourite ever Sonic Masala shows back a few years ago now (also playing - Orlando Furious, Adam Cadell/Tony Irving and Blank Realm side-project Huge Nudes - truly unhinged night). I love these guys, their stilted, dark goth noise always a multimedia concern, with zines, books and artwork intrinsically entwined with the twisted sonics on display. Scrying In Infirmary Architecture is all of this, and more. There is the haunting sultry strike of 'A Fraud, Abroad', the most "accessible" the band have truly been (you could see this being called post-punk, even), an oddly beautiful track. 'Beyond The 12th House' and the excellent 'Pollen Moon' are more in sync to what GPOGP do best - with guitarist/madman Casey Latimer howling out obtuse and disturbing lyrics over visceral, giallo-esque instrumentation that inevitably pierces the sinister mood with spikes of cantankerous noise. 'Darwinning' is even more brutal, flaying and flagellating, with Steven Huf's trumpet a slow yet somehow seductive boil low down in the mix; while 'Scrying' is an uneasy melding of the two extremes. Catherine Cumming's plodding drumming is inexorable, the inevitable pull into the mouth of madness, aided by Huf's bass that seems at once easy, obvious, uncompromising and off-kilter - and I have no idea how that can be true, but that's how it plays out. Ak Buk's vocals are less screaming here than they were on Eeling, their last album, more intent on enticing us down a Gothic wormhole on the aforementioned 'A Fraud, Abroad' and 'Ceramic Miscarriages' (which sounds a lot like defunct Perth band and one of my faves of the last ten years, Snowman). Then there is the weird pop bliss of 'Rainbow Islands' which I can't help but feel like is a cover - I'm pretty sure it isn't, but it sounds so different from what's come before, and  yet is quintessentially GPOGP in every way (including the yacht-rock sax solo at the end, which to me makes this track all the more otherworldly). Finishing with 'Scissoring', another track that sonically feels like an urban nightmare giallo score, with added vocals by Shaun Ryder, Scrying In Infirmary Architecture is one weird, glorious ride. You will feel unclean after listening, irrevocably changed, possessed. You will feel the internal mark of the devil and will repeat in an endless mantra - "I love Girls Pissing On Girls Pissing." Get Scrying In Infirmary Architecture through Muzai Records here or here.

Feet Teething

One of the strangest, most wonderful acts oozing out of the cracks of Brisbane is the improvisational trio FEET TEETH, a band that doesn't get anywhere near the recognition they deserve, not even in the avant-garde community. I have been trying to get something out of theirs on the label for a little while now (it will come!), but until we find a will and way, there is Teething, three live recordings the band did that you can get now here. Utilising drums, marimba, trumpet and electronics (including their ever reliable C64 reimaginings), the band tap into a free-jazz purgatory that is often presents a corporeal, cacophonous cocoon to slip inside and melt away in. It isn't restive, narcoleptic music however - there is an errant restlessness to the instrumentation here, even in the spaces between the chaos - but there is a world being created that requires complete immersion, zero outside-world intrusions. Kahl Monticone joins them on the electric guitar on 'twenty seven minutes and twenty seconds' (yes, the three extremely long jams are named after their length, which is perfect really), a natural freeform extension here. This is the kind of stuff that the outlier intelligentsia that populate the feted Cafe Oto here in London would lap up - but it goes almost unnoticed in Brisbane. Don't let this continue - get behind FEET TEETH and acts of its ilk pronto.

FEET TEETH are playing at the Bearded Lady in Brisbane in October as part of a These Guy launch.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Stand Still, Stop Breathing

This has taken me by surprise. First of all, Ex-Breathers have a song that is more than a minute long. Secondly, it is three-and-a-half minutes long (I was slayed by their EXBX release of last year, a brutal yet giddily, maniacally fun - as much as an acid tongue lashing and pummelling can be considered fun). Thirdly, it is quite polished. But there is no need to worry - 'Stand Still', the first taste off their upcoming LP on Exploding In Sound, Past Tense, is a effectively bristling beast. It opens in a much more melodic manner than you might expect from these hardcore heathens, but the first lyrics, "This is not an end", makes it clear that this is a different type of trip. Think more in line with Double Dagger meets Cloud Nothings with Fugazi interludes, with more bottom-end aggression. I love how it cuts off, almost in mid-statement. Which is a statement in itself really... Yeah, I'm dead on board with this.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Destruction Unit

I'm not having much luck this year - I have been ill about five bloody times, never been this sick in my life! And every time I miss some great music. Tonight - Kitchen's Floor are playing at Shacklewell Arms (with Lachlan Anderson), and tomorrow's Rat Columns show at Montague Arms and Friday's Sealings show (also at Shacklewell) are looking remote. So I gotta look beyond - to next Thursday in fact. Another Shacklewell show, this time for Arizona behemoths Destruction Unit. They are bringing out new LP Negative Feedback Resistor on Sacred Bones, and it promises to be a scorcher. Here are a couple tracks off it.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Yves Malone Triple

Yves Malone has two distinct pleasures in life - genre film, and synthesisers. His first few releases were fake scores to non-existent B-Grade VHS films, complete with retro cover art. You can feel the fingerprints of Carpenter, Vangelis, Moroder, Carlos, Harrison, the Barrons (their score for Forbidden Planet is one of the best, hands down, then there is the story behind it - they are geniuses)... There are plenty more. Genre cinema of the 50s to the 80s was truly innovative for its adherence to electronic experimentation, and Malone continues in this trend. His latest release, Last Angeles, is a split cassette with Adderall Canyonly, and it is deliciously retro futuristc, sleek, seductive, and dark (the meltdown at the end of 'Blackest Ever Was' in particular), but it's all great. Take your pick below - you won't be disappointed. (And be quick - all cassette releases are in single digit availability, so snap up one of the last copies now!)

Hits From The Box #114 - What's In The Box?

Finally - after months of being screwed around, the 8th Sonic Masala Records release arrived on the doorstep on Friday - Day Ravies' Liminal Zones. It will be out in all great record stores in Australia soon, as well as our first release to be distributed in Europe (through Beko Disques) and the US (Jigsaw Records). So I am pretty damn happy. Let's hear what else has me content this week...

Richmond band Positive No had me from the opening moments of 'Bonded Pair', which echoed Slint. They are a different beast, flirting with Breeders, Blonde Redhead and Screamfeeder territory, and their debut LP Glossa is a Petri dish of infectious harmonies with more abrasive instrumentation, moving sinuously between the extremes with an ambidextrous ease. 'Weird Hugs' is the perfect example of this balancing act. They are touring the States at the moment -

Portland's Helvetia have been in hiding of late, mainly due to their connection with Built To Spill and the exciting news that Doug Marstch et al have a new album in the can. Doubly exciting though is that there is also a new Helvetia album in the guise of Dromomania. First track off it is 'A Dot Running For The Dust', which has that sunswept haze and psych spin that Broken Social Scene are occasionally able to harness; while the news heightens further with the news that the initial album, believed lost to a dire hard-drive malfunction, has been recovered after Dromomania was recorded, so you can get the "original" debut LP too! It's all for a limited time only - you better head here to get it.

Let's move over to Duck Duck Grey Duck, a band so nice they had to say it three times. While their album Here Come... has been out for a while, this pretty great video for album track 'Spills and Chills' has just come out, and seeing as I haven't done a Video Vacuum in aaaaaaaages, I wanted to show it here. The album itself is garage blues baked in the sun - the hooks are plentiful, the songs ooze with cool, it's all effortless, although the trio aren't averse to sojourns into frenetic psych wailers such as 'Transworld'.

Now to Australia, although the name Magic America may throw you. Now these boys are more plainly enamoured with the psychedelic rock drawl, as is evidenced on opening track 'Comes and Goes' from their eponymous EP, all of which you can listen to below. While that track follows more well-worn modern psych trends (looking at Black Angels and their eternal acolytes there), they try other elements such as electronic undertones on a paisley psych theme on 'Shock Me Sober', a swooning dandy approach on 'I'm Not Dying', and some Pink Floyd outer reaches tinge 'I Thought I Told You'. Closer 'Holly' - no thanks - I felt like it was Alex Lloyd fronting Jet, so yeah, in the bin with that one. That said, they haven't really stamped an individual sound yet, but the strength of that opening number hints that they might be onto something - give it time.

Still in Oz, we have self-professed shoe-grungers Claws & Organs. The visceral trio are making a strong impression, and their track 'Alphabetti Spaghetti' is a belter. The grunge element is evident in part, but it's better when Heather Thomas keeps the growl on the edge of her lips; her silken vocals lend more menace in front of a wavering behemoth of noise that the band easily control. I'm looking forward to what comes next.

Flying back to finish in Vancouver where we can smash down some UCLA Yankee Cola with bratty four-piece TV Ugly. They are all about making compact, crunchy scuzz pop, where werewolfing and eating shit are viable options for any given day. There is a dark grit under the nails of these tracks at times, like on 'Slow Thighs' (which, at 2:47, is the longest song here by almost a minute). But hit the seas on TV Ugly's 'Thrash Party Island' and nothing can bring down your day. Plus they also put Cake's 'Comfort Eagle' in one of their Facebook posts - and this totally made my day even better. DUDE!

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Wild Animals Live In The Flesh World

San Francisco BDSM squallers Flesh World are playing tonight at New River Studios in what is likely to be a sell out show. Why? Because The Wild Animals In My Life is a bloody good record from a bloody good band. Trading their more hardcore and C86 beginnings for a Gothic trajectory, phasing in shoegaze washes and glowing harmonies whilst keeping everything decidedly tense and decadent. You can hear the pop constructions squirming under the terseness in 'Here In The Dark'; the punk power punching out throughout 'Shaved Head'; the post-punk melancholy swirling like acrid thoughts peaking like jagged spikes in a comedown on 'Just To Tear Me Down'. 'Strawberry Bomber' and 'Your Love Is Like A House' get the closest to all-out surly punk. The common denominator her is power. It's held in check, but ever-present. Can't get enough of this. Grab The Wild Animals In My Life here (out through Iron Lung). Head down to their show tonight - with excellent support from Good Throb, The Lowest Form and Border, it promises to be a good one.

Temporal Schisms Never Die

Lachlan Anderson is known to a lot of Brisbane folk, but a few of you playing at home in other global climes might recognise him as the bass player for NZ schizoid art punks Die! Die! Die! Now residing in London, Anderson is heading off in other directions. He hasn't abandoned the bass and the rock - currently plying his trade as part of the band Night Shades - but it is in his solo guise that he is truly beguiling. He played the last Sonic Masala show a few weeks ago at New River Studios, and his sonic exploration of the techno gloaming was great - melding ambient glides with shuddering beats and an Umberto/Vangelis hybrid of seductive digital night noir. To get a sense of where this is building, Anderson has just released two tracks, 'Temporal Shift' and 'Ascend I & II'. You can see the affinity also with Yaws in this deliberate skewing of electronic propulsion for more sinister, lasting effect. Good morning.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Southern Sickness Won't Heal

If you want hardcore noise insanity, look no further than Antipodean Sickness, the brutally base LP from Sydney miscreants Tanned Christ. Featuring members of Making, Narrow Lands and Totally Unicorn, their almost math-like precision and propensity for raw yet rambunctious metal destruction looks both incongruous and also makes a lot of sense. You can hear a bit of Queensland contemporaries Idylls here, but even moreso The Locust - yet the articulate musicianship that meshes the madness into a heaving cataclysmic whole is somehow more than such a comparison. Faces, minds, membranes melt; hearts pound like frightened birds against cracking ribcages; pressure builds; blood boils. This album is made out of red sweat and black bile - but who says that abject aggression can't put a smile on your cadaverous dial?

Antipodean Sickness is out through Grindhead Records now - you can get it in red, clear or marble wax. Tanned Christ are about to embark on a national tour - see the following furious dates below...

18/9 Sydney Black Wire Records w/ Controlled Burlap and Avian Terror

19/9 Bateman's Bay North Street Cafe w/ Fait Accompli Dead Bear I Kid K

25/9 Canberra Magpies w/ Loather Starrats. Agency

26/9 Melbourne The Old Bar w/ In Trenches Disasters YACHTBURNER Christ Crusher- Melbourne Grind Syndicate 666

1/10 Parramatta Beatdisc Records w/ Tired Minds FRAME 313 Home burial

2/10 Newcastle Hamilton Station w/ Tired Minds Suburban Haze + TBC

3/10 Brisbane Fat Louies w/ Blind Girls Brazen Bull DEAFCULT


Barge With An Antenna On It are still refracting, destroying constructions, building from foundation blocks at weird angles and dimensions. New track 'o' is a bit more funereal, enveloped in cavernous echo, Dylan's drums as precise yet unwieldy as ever (you are just waiting for a maniacal breakdown - and one day it will come...) and Steven's dour delivery and distorted guitar tearing holes in the fabric of sanity. Their EP through Sonic Masala Records still scars - yet like a phantom limb, you can feel the itch of something more. The scree is brewing...

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Staying Stoic Under Cover Of Yaws

Dystopic party ender Yaws keeps producing the goods. Since relocating back to Australia he has produced the excellent 'Regression', and now this, Stoicism in E5, coming out through Detonic Recordings. It's as industrially skewered, manically manipulated and VHS-nasty as ever, with the devilish and gurning grin cemented in place. Somehow his music is simultaneously a relentless, battering downer and a feverish, rabid euphoria. If Cronenberg did an early film that was set in the 3 1/2 inch floppy disk "future", all scarred skylines, leather-bound bodies and slashes of red, Yaws would be your man for the soundtrack. Keep the techno madness coming - who needs their synapses intact anyhow? Pre-order Stoicism In E5 here.

New Clearance For Rapid Reward

It's about time that Chicago indie-slack rockers Clearance have a full-length on the way! Content to whip out fried Pavement homages in short-form and with regularity for some years, I was starting to think the four-piece were adverse to tacking an album together. But we have it in the rather poignantly named Rapid Rewards (coming out at the end of the month through Tall Pat Records and Unsatisfied Records - pre-order here). The band seem world worn and a little beaten down - but also are pretty nonplussed and droll about it all. Hence new single 'Nonplussed' I guess. It's a blast of a track, openly spiteful towards the toppers and braggers of the world ("Everybody knows the books you've read"), while still unafraid of throwing the guitar around a bit too. 'You've Been Pre-Approved' keeps a mid-tempo bolt on, jumping into the Delorean to spin the wheels in the mid-90s, but it's the blase attitude that really transplants Clearance in that heady past, and more fittingly than a lot of bands enamoured with that period (and as you can guess, I am also one of those bound to the glories of 90s guitar rock). 'Total Closeout' gives another side, a more jam-focused ramble that is just as if not more infectious than the bite-size hooks we have heard before. It is hard not to hear Malkmus here, not just in Mike Bellis' ghosted vocal delivery, but in the devilish and offhand yet almost effortlessly ebullient way around a riff, a bridge, a breakdown. I've been keen on Clearance for a while - now I have a crush.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Ill Winds Of Forlorn Change

I'm always slow to hit you with what Not Not Fun are up to - to the point that many of the releases I dig are sold out before I get out of the wormholes they put me in to write about em. This is the case also for the self-titled cassette from Berlin/Oz collective Ill Winds. It is a gloomy dirge into the backwaters of grey-stained despair, taking post-punk disdain into withering self-flagellating depths. Everything is destructive; everyone is doomed. Everything plods and scrapes at depressing regularity, with Jack Dibben chanting concrete schisms of truth in a world-worn dirge, as if the end of the world happened eons ago and this music is his perpetual penance, an eternity in the making. The weird thing is how addictive this is - creating a cocoon of crushing defeat eventually numbs, plies you with the inevitability of the shitstorm that is life, and you may as well get into the slipstream and make do and mend.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Tethered Slump On The Rise

One of the strongest DIY bands doing the rounds here in London is Vertical Slump. Featuring members of Shopping/Gloss Rejection/Omi Palome/Circuit Breaker, they take a frantic post-punk stance and inject it with some synth squall insanity. There are some Australian touchstones here that seems consistent with underground scenes - see the likes of Ausmuteants, Total Control or Gold Class, three Melbourne bands that bear reference here. 'Tether' is the first taste to come from the band's debut 7", and it's an agitated buzzsaw that plateaus into a warm chloroform hazed dream when the chorus hits - not necessarily a light at the end of the gloaming, but respite from the tension. It's a delectable slice of monochrome madness. Ruined Value comes out soon through Icecapades - pre-order it here.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Caught In The Desert

Another week, another release out of the it Records stable to get excited about. This time it's Little Desert, featuring a new lineup (the band now has Ema Dunstan (Jouissance) and the irrepressible Bonnie Mercer (Grey Daturas) on guitar) and a captivating (sorry) single in 'Captive'. It's the first taste of their upcoming debut album Saeva. I wasn't sure at first - the swooning theatrics had me at arm's length. But the ace in the hole is the musicianship - the rattling bass, a tenacious grip with sharp jabs of guitar and organ (an iconic turn from Rocket Science madman Roman Tucker), a tight rhythm pinning everything down - and then the breakdown halfway through where everything becomes ominous. Drums sounding out from a cavernous prog-rock wasteland, that turns into a flat flap, like hitting a snare with a thong; wistful keys that move between ritualistic altar worship and schmaltzy Morricone...and it is here that Esther Rivers' vocals burst forth, and the whole thing makes sense. When she belts out 'Diana!', you will be screaming it too (in fact, the only thing missing is a bloodcurdling death howl in the dying moments).

Marooned In A Rangoon Fever Dream

I only heard about A Postcard From Rangoon Island last week - Matt Kennedy (Kitchen's Floor) mentioned The Rangoons' release in passing as one of the Australian offerings he had recently been getting into. And it is great - a four-track cassette of skewed pop weirdness featuring Ela Stiles (Bushwalking, Songs), Emma Ramsay (Holy Balm) and Jay Cruikshank (Home Run). It's his spoken word diatribes that at first seem the odd thing out here - a rambling pastiche of stream-of-consciousness whimsy and laconic barbs that belie a truly dark solipsistic worldview, covering topics such as sharks, shotguns, maniacal restauranteurs and tropical relaxation anxieties...I think. It is all delivered in such a throwaway fashion that it comes off as gleefully apathetic, even borderline sociopathic. Then of course there is the music - flutes, guitars that swing from crystalline chime to blood-encrusted fuzz, tippling drums that threaten to implode in a confusion of poorly-constructed kitware, painful ineptitude and devilish indifference. It all marries up into a exotic Petri dish of sonic equatorial disease, the hallucinations hovering before, or even in, the eyeballs, delirious before death - a deliciously dishevelled way to shuffle away. Grab this incredibly infectious fever dream through Paradise Daily here.

Sun Shines On Summer Flake

Steph Crase is back, just as the winter months start to thaw off in Melbourne, with a new Summer Flake song. 'The Sun Won't Shine' is a taste of her upcoming EP Time Rolls By, a precursor of her second album, and it is is luscious yet disarmingly plaintive as ever. The guitar is raw and licking feedback around the edges, and there is a moment or two that reminds me of Television for some reason (probably because I've been listening to Marquee Moon on my new turntable all day today). Positive fuzz, contemplative scuzz, with a Pavement-melting outro. It's a melancholy song about indecision about life choices, sure, but when it sounds as glorious as this, keep sitting on the fence, dude. Time Rolls By comes out through Rice Is Nice next month.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

This Endgame Will Make Your Hd Spn

This has been out for a couple months, so I missed the boat a little here, but the new album from NZ rapscallions HDSPNS, the easily decipherable /'EN(D),GĀM/, is a brittle, brutal monster. They have gone from a more calypso math instrumental stance to something more aggressive - like Balloons-era Foals with a more ingenious yet bitter twist, a Battles-esque propensity for hypercolour, for hyper rhythms, for hyperreal aural violence. Really needs attention this record. Get the cassette here. Goodnight.