Album Review: Los Tones – Psychotropic

It’s no secret that ‘Straya is booming right now on the garage front. Ramshackle mind-obliterating LP’s have been released recently from the likes of The Frowning Clouds, Straight Arrows and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard seem to pop up with a new album every few months (their fifth comes out in a few weeks). But there’s a contendor in the ring, a possible Muhammad Ali to the reigning Sonny Liston’s of the rock n roll scene of Aus. They’re called Los Tones, they’re from Sydney, get around ‘em quick smart, because these guys are going to be doing a little bit of alright in the next few years, especially if they can maintain the momentum of their debut album.

‘Psychotropic’ is a record with serious brawl, thudding bass lines intermingling with 60’s guitars at a dangerous pace. It’s surf rock placed in a criminal context. Surely this kind of thing must’ve been going through Dennis Wilson’s mind when he was brandishing a drug habit to rival Charlie Sheen, and hooking up with Charlie Manson. It’s slightly deranged, a little bit psychotic, but very, very fun. It’s like an audio version of your crazy boyfriend/girlfriend who gives you the best sex ever, but then burns down your house to the soundtrack of a Guitar Wolf album.

This record thrives on the freak-outs, of which there are plenty. Like Jellbellys, everyone’s going to have a favourite, and my personal heartbreaker is the melting guitar solos and organ inflections of “Cry”. But, hey, that’s just me. Some of you might like the tingling pelvis swaying in “Buchanan Hammer”, others can live off the rapid-fire boogie  of “Waste of Space”, a track that takes Drunk Mums’ depraved excitement and injects it with the soundtrack from a Quentin Tarantino film.

This is a rock ‘n’ roll record, through and through. Every moment is scorched in blazing hot guitar, the entrails of all other genres laid bare in the wake of this destructive album. Some might say that there could be a lack of diversity, but instead of that, I view it as a lack of spreading the energy. The closest thing that Los Tones get to an “average” pace is the charming and snarling “Ordinary Man”, which is still quite the bombast. However, Los Tones quickfire energetic performance isn’t really much of a critique. I mean, it’s fair better to stay in the loose and reckless part of the meter, rather than risk fucking up the whole thing with some ballad that doesn’t fit in anywhere.

The point of “Psychotropic” is to introduce the world to a very vibrant and completely un-ordinary garage band. They’ve got a love for the old-school that transcends the trap that most rock ‘n’ roll bands fall into, in that they mime too hard, and end up a cliche. Los Tones are too committed to being ruthlessly authentic, that their debut LP is simply too good for any garage fans to pass up. Play this shit loud, and thrash it until you’re record is just flimsy wax. Then buy another one. Repeat until the apocalypse.


Album Review: Disgusting People – Disgusting People

Disgusting People are a bunch of bloody charmers, comprised of some of the best talent that Sydney-town has got on offer. You’ve got members of Weak Boys, Day Ravies, Mope City, Nathan Roche and a couple other bands you’ve probably caught a woff of at some point or another. However, just because they can charm you harder than George Clooney hopped up on some horny goat weed, doesn’t mean that they’re not prone to the same primitive impulses that bind you and I to this mortal coil. If these legends of the West want to strap together a few scrappy songs on a four-track and deliver them to our undeserving ears, then so be it.

First and foremost, this is an album that needs to be listened to on cassette. Now, whilst that might come off as some crass hipster-ism, it’s a genuine nod. The buzzing and whirring, the hiss and delvings into random noise make it the perfect thing you want to chuck it on a format that hasn’t been wildly popular since Motley Crue could still sell records.

Anyway, the record is pretty much a loose collection of previously released stuff (“Make You Happy”, “Snail Song”, “2×4″) and new just-as-irreverent tunes. It’s obvious that all members here have contributed songs, as the album swings wildly in all directions, from loose, fuzzy and frantic “Third Wheel”, to introspective hula-meets-depression jams, cc: “Between Mothering and Murdering”.

Whatever you could want in a song, Disgusting People have you covered, a buffet of pop on offer. There’s also a certain order to the randomness. The album begins with bouncy mope-pop tracks, slacker guitar lines wafting lazily next to tracks that make you want to clap your hands in stupid joy (“Snail Song”, Between Mothering and Murdering”, “Make You Happy”). Then things turn a lil’ rockier, with “Third Wheel” sounding like someone spilled an unfinished MC5 record into the mixing desk. I maintain that  “I Wanna Ctrl Delete My Life” is one of the finest songs released this year, and short, snappy song that goes out to all the office squares who wanna rip off their loose-fitting shirts and scream an AC/DC song.

Then things get super fucking weird.There’s the Tim and Eric sketches that the world’s funniest duo forgot to put into their show, in “Cat Song”, “Candy” and “T-GAS”, high pitched homages to all out weirdness. The 19-track opus finishes with a few tracks, including a Yo La Tengo-esque reprise to standout track “2×4″.

Basically, Disgusting People didn’t try too hard on this album. There was no label meddling, no pressure, no harsh times infecting the performances of the band members. It’s just off-kilter pop music played by mates, for mates, and it resounds with a weird and wonderful tang that permeates throughout. The exploitation of the strange is strong on this one, a perfectly preserved encapsulation of the fucked up shit you do when it’s just a few mates. If you’re the kind of person that thinks that SPOD should’ve started a jangle-pop band, then this album is for you. If you’re the kind of person who likes Beavis and Butthead, and wished they’d made an Australian version, this album is for you. And if you’re the kind of person that wished Clive Palmer had a reality TV show, you’d probably enjoy this album as well. And if you’re not that kind of person, I hear Alt-J have a new record out. So, yeah, enjoy that.

Highly recommend picking up this in physical format, which you can do right here, at Strong Look Records Bandcamp. Also, catch Disgusting People launching the album THIS THURSDAY (30 November) at The Mess Up, at the Lansdowne Hotel. Entry is free, and King Tears Mortuary and Carpet are coming along for support.

New: Tam Vantage – The Boy Who Always Wins

The Go-Betweens were a fair bit before my time, which was a shame, because I would’ve loved to see a young Robert Forster kick some ass behind an acoustic guitar. But on the silver lining, there are a whole bunch of modern bands taking what the Goey’s did, and updating it for my context. If you’re looking for beautiful, slightly ethereal, but grounded music, look no further than Dick Diver, The S-Bends, The Ocean Party, or Twerps, to name a few.

Pop Singles were also a great band of that irk, although who knows what’s been happening with them. Although that camp has been pretty quiet since the release of their fantastic “All Gone” LP, their frontman Tam Vantage has gone n’ done a solo album. Beautifully mastered into a quaint acoustic ditty, this stripped-back jangle effort is packed with the kinds of pop hooks that wouldn’t be out of place of a lost Kinks B-side that Flying Nun put out. Pretty gr8, hey.

New Electronic Music: Sui Zhen + I’lls + Milwaukee Banks x Friendships + Leisure Suite

I talk a fair bit of shit about the ol’ wub-wubs on this blog of the Gods, but this stuff I’m about to unveil is for the sophisticated dance lovers. It’s for those who have a Gucci pinga purse, and wear their bum bags with a seal fur lining. These people can afford speed-dealers from the top rack of the 7/11, and use Evian bottles for their bongs, not those pesky Mount Frankies or Gatorades. This is for the intelligentsia fist bumpers:

Sui Zhen – Infinity Street

There’s a slew of female R&B/production virtuoso artists floating around at the moment, from obvious nods at BANKS, to local legends KUCKA, Rainbow Chan and Banoffee. But Sui Zhen, man, she takes the cake. She also takes all the other delicatessen delights, because goddamit, she’s earned herself a righteous snack. “Infinity Street” is the first single from her upcoming debut album, and it’s a tight Grimes-esque bubblegum explosion of pink synths and icy claps. It’s Grimes brought to an even more wide-eyed innocence, cuter and more surreal than anything that’s popped up recently. This music is gorgeousness incarnate, more charming than the Prince himself.

I’lls – Fifty-Phiphti/ Asakusa

I’lls, a Melbourne electronica group that sound like The King of Limbs under a muffler of sleep, have quietly but surely returned with a brand new 7″. Two tracks long, the result is a shuffling escapade of lite electronic pattering, more Jon Hopkins-esque that any of I’lls work before. The opener “Fifty-Phiphti” builds upon slow-burning layer after layer, Flying Lotus’ ‘When The Quiet Comes’ acting as a bit of a influence soundboard. There’s a lot of cool jazz occurrences, and they’re moulded delicately and expertly into wordless samples, taking what Seekae exposed the world to on their debut, and revitalising it for a modern audience. Follow up “Asakusa” continues the dreamy beats that combine the noises of outside with the technical proficiency of someone who’s spent a while inside. The ensuing 8 minutes is something you want to check out.

Milwaukee Banks – Pluto Bounce (friendships Post-Apocalypse Grave-Rave Remix)

Apparently, Milwaukee Banks are a ‘cloud rap’ group, and whilst I don’t know what the fuck cloud rap is (nor do I care), I do know that these guys are crazy talented. The amount of chemistry apparent in their EP and music is something that even someone with only the faintest idea of good music will instantly be drawn to it.

Another Melbs group going by the name of friendships have contributed to a remix EP (featuring previous remixes from LUCIANBLOMKAMP and Andrei Eremin), and they’ve completely flipped and distorted the original track until it resembles an exoskeleton of its former self. Whereas the original could only be described as “dope-ass”, this renewed track harnesses the shuffling dance-floor potential, scooting eclectic sounds across a dark and moody atmosphere that must have involved some voodoo magic.

Leisure Suite – Leisure Suite EP

For the most part, indie acts add electronic flourishes with one of two possible outcomes occurring. One, the band could end up completely sucking (see: RUFUS, Chet Faker’s album, Alt-J). However, there’s another chance that the electronic stuff brings to light the intricacies of the band, and such is the case with Leisure Suite. Absolutely stunning, every song on this far too short EP is arresting, a straightjacket of subtle but emotional jams. Leisure Suite are sincere and gorgeous, and this EP is a surefire success indicator.

Video: Paradise Palms – Old Boys

As I’ve made fairly obvious, I bloody love SMILE. Great band, good vibes, great classic hits, a modern Go-Betweens if there ever were one. As with most great bands, there’s a fantastic frontman (There are exceptions cc: Public Image Ltd.). SMILE’s frontman is the one and only Pete Baxter (in the figurative sense of the phrase, there’s probably another bloke called Pete Baxter out there), and he’s got a solo project called Paradise Palms.

Paradise Palms released a debut video/track the other day, and the instant you hit that little sideways triangle, the flamingo-pink Miami motel font that shows up let’s you know that this is gonna be a good song. The video follows in a Drive-like vein, with a slow, beautiful shot of Pete’s head floating along to the casual scrapings of a guitar. It’s simple, but effective, and in the company of soft, mumbled vocals and scratchy acoustics, “Old Boys” is pretty damn alright.

New: Mope City – Blunt Razor

Aww Jesus Christ, Mope City just went and got crazy fucking good. I mean, they were already an amazing band, but now they’ve gone from Nicholas Cage in the mid-80’s good, to being as great as that photo of Shaquille O’Neill picking up Bill Gates.

It’s like all these scrappy Inner West bands have really evolved and shaped up, seemingly overnight. Day Ravies dropped a synth-singed pop number the other week, and The Cathys blew me away on Thursday night, pulling off Dinosaur Jr.’s “Freak Scene” with weird ease. Now, Mope City are the latest band to grow out from dingy-lit lo-fi to something fresh and exciting.

Mope City have always had slightly morbid lyrics (see: “Suicide of Town”), but “Blunt Razor” marries that with a more suitably dark sound than the band have had before. Maybe a label has splashed a bit of money on them, because these recordings are sounding clearer, and therefore the doomier aspects of Mope City are seeing clarity. “If you see me, do me a favour/have a look and see if I’m right” is now entombed by glistening guitars that belong in the basement of a haunted house. Fuck me, Mope City just got really good.

Video: Todd Terje – Delorean Dynamite

Hello? Is anyone there? It’s 2 in the morning on a Tuesday night*, and I’m awake watching Todd Terje videos. It’s at points like this that you question your own sanity. But, at the same time, I can rationalise it, and maintain that I am normal.

Exhibit A: I feel like I missed the bus on Todd Terje. I didn’t find out about Todd Terje until a little earlier this year, and had no idea how big this dude was, and how his debut album was kind of a big deal. And I had no idea…all my credibility was shit on the floor. Hipster badge, had to turn that bad boy in. Anyway, the guilt has ridden me, and I feel responsible for being up to date on all things Terje.

Exhibit B: “Delorean Highway” is a heaps good song. Coming off of Terje’s debut LP ‘It’s Album Time’, this track is gold, shiny and ethereal, like the innards of that vault in Ducktails. When there’s a video for that, surely you gotta check it out.

Exhibit C: The video is really fuckin good. This thing is like Giorgio Morodor met James Bond in a late night car commercial. It’s like Jean-Claude Van Damme got caught in a vortex with The Chemical Brothers. It’s Miami Vice with Arnold Schwarznegger’s literate cousin narrating over a throbbing alternate soundtrack to Drive. I mean, this is how a video is done.

*I published this later, because I had the slight self-awareness that due to lack of sleep, I might have written some crazy shit here and needed to edit at a later point.

New: West Thebarton Brothel Party – Glenn McGrath

I’ll be honest, I know fuck all about cricket. Yeah, I get it, it’s meant to be the summer equivalent to footy, an Australian pastime as central to societal wellbeing as shrimps on the barbie. But it’s fucking boring, right! Like, I’d rather allow a constipated bloke try to shit in my mouth than watch a full game of the Ashes. Those two activities aren’t all that dissimilar either – they both involve chowing down on second hand meat pies.

However, Radelaide’s West Thebarton Brothel Party (a reference I doubt anyone will get unless they’ve been to the City of Churches) have released a high-octane punch in the guts, an ode to one of the best players and activist. Glenn McGrath’s a sweetheart, and it seems only right that a rowdy fastball of a song is dedicated in his honour. “Glenn McGrath” is a rowdy, rambunctious and drunken track to spew your guts out to. Fuck the Ashes, let’s see England try and beat a song like this.

Video: Oozing Wound – Going Through the Motions Til I Die

It’s been a while between really good metal for ol’ mate Saarsy here, but Oozing Wound are the kind of pus-filled wart ready to explode devilish juices over your ears that I’ve been looking for.

They’ve been kicking around for a while, a Chicago three-piece that knows how to shred skin like no-one’s business. Conan are quaking in their boots right now. Their riffs are blinding, and squeal with venomous rage, pulverising the senses into submission. Half doom metal, but with thrash tendencies, Oozing Wound are about as heavy-as-fuck you can get without breaking through the Earth’s core due to this planet’s weight restrictions.

They’ve got a new one out called “Going Through the Motions Til I Die”, a demonic howling of bloody riffage that’d make Sepultura proud. Featuring a garage, mistaken identity and members of Heavy Times and Unmanned Ship, there’s a plot twist in here that makes American History X’s pivotal scene paltry in comparison.

Video: POND – Elvis’ Flaming Star

POND have always been a band with a penchant for the theatrical song titles. “Betty Davis (Will Come Down From the Heavens to Save Us” anyone? But this time round, “Elvis’ Flaming Star” is a succinct and powerful name, in the exact same way the song in question is.

Once again POND are stretching themselves into another gooey form, a psychedelic shapeshifter, and this time round, they’re like Saturn’s version of David Bowie. That’s not just because of the alien goggles and barrage of coloured slime in the video either. They’re euphoric and funky, breaking the rules in a glammy and extraordinary way the same way Bowie did way back when. And they’re doing it in this completely alien fashion, dissolved and freaky sounding from the core. Chuck that “Bohemian Rhapsody”-like roller coaster theatrics next to a video of VHS madness consisting of nature beating the shit out of man, and POND’s galavanting return is a welcome one. They make psych music not boring, and that’s a feat a lot harder than it sounds like.