ALBUM REVIEW: Mudhoney – Digital Garbage

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It’s hard to believe but Mudhoney are now in their 30th year of active service and on Digital Garbage, their 10th album, they show they’re still the kings of fuzzed-out punk and garage rock. Their disdain for everything fucked up about the world is still vital and biting and they don’t hold back one iota.

No topic is out of bounds as they rail against social media, the rich getting richer at everyone else’s expense, gun control, religion and environmental destruction. Mark Arm has sharpened his pencil with more scathing intent than he’s ever done before. “Fuck the planet, screw your children, get rich, you win,” he sings on Prosperity Gospel while on Paranoid Core he throws barbs of sarcastic truths at an unnamed Donald Trump and his supporters. Musically the band are as economical as ever but in addition to their trademark buzzsaw guitars and MC5, Stooges shakedowns, they also get dark and moody with an early Nick Cave feel on Night And Fog and there are strains of Neil Young in the chord progressions of Messiah’s Lament.

There’s plenty of humour at play too. Lines such as ‘turning water into wine is dismissed as a parlour trick, that’s insensitive to the struggles of alcoholics,” throw amusing shapes across the underlying messages on Digital Garbage. Few bands have remained so close to the sound and integrity of their music. Mudhoney are still out front of the pack, setting the benchmark with brutal and brilliant honesty.

Chris Familton

ALBUM REVIEW: Low – Double Negative

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Press play and the first thing you’ll hear on the new Low album is the equivalent of a digital sandstorm.

Slowly but surely, out of the static and sonic scree comes the voice of Alan Sparhawk, sounding like a ghost trying with all his might to re-engage with the physical world. It’s a fascinating way to open an album; a new approach for Low and one that sets the scene for their most experimental and strangely beautiful record to date.

There’s a strong David Lynch aesthetic at play across Double Negative. That blend of a sense of foreboding and unease mixed with tender and affecting musical emotiveness. ‘Dancing And Blood’ continues to ratchet up the tension and usher the listener further into the present. Producer BJ Burton has worked in Bon Iver’s studio and you can certainly hear elements of the creative deconstructionist approach to traditional song that has happened within those walls. Mimi Parker takes the lead vocal on ‘Fly’ and it’s a powerful moment, almost backwoods ecclesiastical in the way it billows and urges. The defiance is short lived though as ‘Tempest’ submerges their voices in grainy, almost all-consuming decay. The clouds part momentarily before the connection is again violently disrupted.

‘Always Trying To Work It Out’ is a soulful suffocated pop song while ‘Poor Sucker’ is unsettling and laced with existential dread. When ‘Dancing And Fire’ emerges with pristine, clean guitars and an unprocessed vocal from Sparhawk, it sounds positively calming, Parker’s voice acting like a tonal echo chamber. “It’s not the end, it’s just the end of hope,” they sing, and it sums up the album’s themes of standing up for one’s beliefs, the danger of losing optimism and how the negative forces in the world are warning signs to correct things before it’s too late.

Low leave us with ‘Disarray’, a robotic dance at a death disco and a plea for change; “Before it falls into total disarray, you’ll have to learn to live a different way.Double Negative is bold and powerful music, fusing the avant-garde and traditional song with both friction and harmony. It’s unnerving, visceral and wholly compelling.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Chad VanGaalen – Pine and Clover [Official Video]

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Canadian musician and artist Chad VanGaalen first came on our radar back in 2008 with his third album Soft Airplane and in particular the single ‘Molten Light‘. Since then we’ve kept a keen eye on everything he’s released, from Diaper Island (2011) through to Shrink Dust (2014) the forthcoming new LP Light Information (September 8th, 2017, Sub Pop).

Here’s the first clip from the new album, the beautiful gentle thrum and jangle of ‘Pine and Clover’.

ALBUM PRE-ORDER

VIDEO: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Sick Bug

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Here’s another track off Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s consistently excellent French Press EP, out now on Sub Pop. Tumbling, jangly guitars and that incessant drum beat are the backdrop for young lust…

“I want you, I want you, I want you, I want you, I wanna see you smiling on a blue afternoon dreaming of the ceiling and the smell of your room cuz I want you, I want you, I want you.”

NEW MUSIC: Father John Misty Announces New LP ‘Pure Comedy’.

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Father John Misty (Josh Tillman) is back with the follow-up to his acclaimed album I Love You, Honeybear. Titled Pure Comedy, the album is due out on April 7th via Sub Pop and Inertia Music and features co-production with Jonathan Wilson, string arrangements by Gavin Bryars and other contributions from Nico Muhly and Thomas Bartlett. The mastering was done by the legendary Bob Ludwig.

Tracklisting:

1. Pure Comedy
2. Total Entertainment Forever
3. Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before The Revolution
4. Ballad of the Dying Man
5. Birdie
6. Leaving LA
7. A Bigger Paper Bag
8. When The God of Love Returns There’ll Be Hell to Pay
9. Smoochie
10. Two Wildly Different Perspectives
11. The Memo
12. So I’m Growing old on Magic Mountain
13. In Twenty Years or So

Pure Comedy is available for pre-order now, in the following formats:

  • A Deluxe 2xLP version on aluminum & copper vinyl, a die-cut customisable jacket with 4 interactive “Background” sleeves (so you can have whatever sky you damn will feel like as the cover), all encased in a clear clipcase. Includes a fold-out poster and an exclusive holographic tarot card by Ed Steed.
  • A 2xLP gatefold version also available in 4 cover variations on black vinyl
  • A CD gatefold digipak with slipcase available in 4 cover variations
  • As digital album

Cover variations for the standard LP and CD will be randomly distributed. Collect them all!

Pre-orders through select retailers will receive a limited 7” single, featuring physical release of fan favourite ‘Real Love Baby’ on the A-side and the as yet unreleased track, ‘Rejected Generic Pop Song, March ‘15#3’ on the B-side (while supplies last).

Tillman and Grant James (‘Funtimes in Babylon’, ‘I Love You, Honeybear’) also co-directed Pure Comedy: The Film.  Pure Comedy is a gorgeously rendered black & white document of the live tracking, as well as a surreal look into Tillman’s writing process.  A six person crew, complete with cranes in the tracking rooms, captured every moment of the recording, giving the viewer intimate audience to actual album takes, including the one and only 2:00am performance of the 13-minute ‘Leaving LA’.  It also features the only known recording of Tillman’s love ballad to his sound engineer Trevor Spencer.

SONIC KICKS: Deaf Wish

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Melbournians Deaf Wish have a new album Pain out via Sub Pop/Inertia on August 7th which finds them striking a rich vein of tangled careering avant-rock, genre-splicing its way through the history of post-punk, post-rock, no-wave and hardcore. It harnesses their propensity for tension, both its formation and release as well as the juxtaposition of atonality and dissonance that bands such as Liars, Sonic Youth, Hüsker Dü and the 3Ds have mastered in the past. Guitarist Sarah Hardiman kindly took the time to answer our Sonic Kicks Q&A and give us an insight into the some of the albums that shaped her.


The first album you bought. 

I can’t remember but I can remember the first album I found. There was a second hand Salvos donation bin near my house and there were loads of records piled against it. I was flicking through and found this Rough Trade promo copy of the early Raincoats stuff, it is red with like these dark green African silhouettes dancing on the front. I still have it. I had borrowed a book from my library at high school on punk rock and it had The Slits in it – I didn’t like the Slits but I loved The Raincoats and I was obsessed with how cool all the girls looked in that punk scene. I felt blessed that day because I found the record – I felt like I must be a good person – the way you feel when animals like you, hahaha.

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The album that soundtracked a relationship.

I was living in London in the worst relationship I’ve ever been in and we used to play The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Darklands and I’d think, good tunes at least.

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The album that inspired you to form a band. 

That was Bikini Kill’s The C.D. Version of the First Two Records. My friend and I didn’t want songs to go past 2 minutes. We got drunk in my bedroom and wrote our first song which was about 1.5 minutes long. It was called, ‘Inn-Keeper’ after the Australian bottle shop.

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Your favourite album cover art.

I always loved the saturated colours and composition on The Gun Club’s Miami and the artwork for Hüsker Dü‘s Metal Circus. I felt with both records that I had uncovered a secret cult and that it was all for me – no one else knew them. And I would get emotionally bruised when others spoke about them as if they knew what it was about, I’d think, “But that’s my secret, they’re my cult leaders.” I felt I had found punk music that was outside of the prescriptive punk aesthetic. Both covers looked cool and dangerous.

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Spice GirlsSpice. I used to listen to it with my big love all the time before going out. You know, having drinks and dancing and getting in the ‘mood’ to socialise. I didn’t listen to music like that so I thought it was even more fun. I liked being taught how to relax and be silly, I was very serious back then.

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An album you loved but now have no idea why you bought it.

I have this album of Balinese Temple Music and I have no idea how I got into it, maybe in one of those patches I have when I think I’m gonna clean up my act and become peaceful and spiritual, but I still love it. I kinda clean the house and do gardening to it, just reassess.

The last album you bought.

Mulatu Astatke’s The Story of Ethio Jazz (1965-1975) – recommended by someone.

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