New: The Living Eyes – Guilty Pleasures

The fucking ruthless Geelong-ians known as The Living Eyes are back to shred your minds and ambitions to become a better garage band than they are. They’re latest is a track called “Guilty Pleasures”, which re-invents the entire definition of high-octane. If surf rock were catapulted into space without an astronaut helmet, rocketing into the stratosphere at eye-bulging G-Forces, the resulting sonic boom would sound a little like this 2 minute extravaganza. To speak bluntly, this thing is more dangerous than working a buzzsaw without gloves and after a half dozen schooeys.

Album Review: Die! Die! Die! – SWIM

In the canon of bands with exclamation marks in their name, Die! Die! Die! stand proudly at the forefront. They’re Kiwis, but strangely enough, they’re more toxic, alluring and immediate than the majority of bands in both Hemispheres. So, don’t hold their 2nd best country in Oceania origin status against them. Yeah, I managed to stick in a completely unnecessary and cliche jibe about how Australia is better than New Zealand. ‘Straya!

Anyway, back to more ‘SWIM’, their fifth ‘album’ (pulverisation of the senses is a much more apt term) Die! Die! Die! couldn’t have earned their right to their triple exclamation marks. Unlike acts like Panic! At the Disco, 3OH!3 and The Go! Team, Die! Die! Die! actually implement a very real sense of dangerous urgency to their music that marks their music as unmistakeable. When frontman Andrew Wilson’s barks ring out over crunching, knifing guitars, it becomes apparent very quickly that you are about to witness some extraordinary music.

Over their 10+ career in choons, Die! Die! Die! have put out some interesting albums that span from ragers, to blood-boilers, to snarlers and post-punk loomers. On ‘SWIM’, they pull all their old tricks into one gorgeous orgy of sound. There are the hitz, which could be staples of the ultra cool underground parties, and then there are songs which go to a different, subterranean level; bone-gnawing, white knuckle rides that speak to the lonely kid with earphones strapped around their ears on a Saturday night.

For the latter example, take the fucking excellent track “Crystal”, which opens with a confused maelstrom of guitar and doom-laden drums, as Wilson’s alternate between a depressed calmness, and a narrow sharpness as rough as the lyrics in the chorus. For the loners and losers out there, this kind of mourner-turned-triumphant song is exactly the kind of thing that makes the hands clench up and want to do something. It’s a call to arms, the kind of thing that Die! Die! Die! excel at (see: “Trinity”, “Sideways Here We Come”).

That kind of empathetic and understanding vein is continued in messy guitar tracks “Jelosy”, and “Mirror”. But it’s not all furrowed brows and wishful thinking, as there’s plenty of the explosive virtuosity that Die! Die! Die! are renown for. “Get Hit” detonates with a chorus that is begging for wail your arms around to, with the trio snapping into pure, focused and unrivalled energy, and creating the perfect track to start ‘seeing red’ to. “She’s Clear” rails against the greatest piece of shit society has known, hypocrites, pairing lyrics about transparency with devilish bass. Or “Sister”, which is a deafening racket that pounds against the ears like being tied to an amplifier playing Wolf Eyes at the loudest volume possible.

You know that phrase, that you can’t judge a book by its cover? Well, in the case of ‘SWIM’, the album cover depicts the contents precisely. Alone, in a bleak environment – cold, harsh elements railing against you. But nonetheless, there’s a power that radiates from beneath the hoodie, beaten and worn, but promising to come back even stronger. If ever there was a perfect visual metaphor for Die! Die! Die!’s consistently formidable output, surely this would be it.

In their careers, Die! Die! Die! have always been impressive. But on ‘SWIM’, the band pull together a cohesiveness, and broad musical and lyrical expertise, unleashing some of the best music to grace the ears of those looking for more out of punk than three chords and a shout. A damn fine album, even if it comes from New Zealand. ZING!

Get annihilated with Die! Die! Die!, when they play their third Sydney show this year at Goodgod, on the 12th of September!

New: Black Zeros – Ride

On this unassuming Sunday, with the rain pattering down and exams looming, Sydney favourites Black Zeros have released a fantastic, if not wildly different, new tune. With their previous EP covering a more bone-rattling lo-fi punk attitude a la Step – Panther and Bleeding Knees Club, this new one ‘Ride’ is like taking a heroin-addled car trip down Sunset Boulevard. Shaky, reverb-drenched beach vibes drain the track, only to seethe back into action with stunning vocals.

Although only cruising in at 2 and a half minutes, ‘Ride’ is sure to be the cruisy opener to Black Zeros’ upcoming sets, preparing the audience for awesomeness in much the same way Palms open with “In the Morning”. Calm before the storm etc. etc.

Black Zeros have some gigs coming up! This Friday, 22nd of August at the Roller Den, supporting Doc Holliday Takes the Shotgun, and September 4th at the Sly Fox.

New Australian Music: Bat Nouveau + Scrabbled + Backyard Soccer + Cool Sounds

I’ve been pretty fucking slack in reading back over my emails the last few weeks, so here’s a round-up of absolutely gobsmacking new albums from ‘Straya’s finest.

 

Bat Nouveau –Death Mask/Funeral Eyes 7″

The first and foremost thing to be addressed to here is that it is essential for you to check them out. On the Brissy duo’s fucking sick new 7″, they open with something that could’ve come from any good The Cure track. However, “Death Mask” soon explodes into this Killing Joke-meets-Total Control dark enthusiasm, colliding with the ears like a maelstrom of furious guitars. Like recent acts like Eagulls and Gazar Strips, Bat Nouveau have taken what was fucking cool, and dress it up with modern ferocity.

 

Scrabbled – Welcome to Pig City

You never would’ve guessed it, but a ramshackle lo-fi band called Scrabbled, with an album called ‘Welcome to Pig City’, and an excellent opener called “Brisbane Town”, are indeed from Brisbane. Even if you were thicker than Joe Hockey, their sound, that’s like depression being laid out in the QLD sun for too long, is instantly recognisable as a product of harsh times, an aesthetic which is easily recognisable in any major city that’s been through tough times. Brisbane in particular have amassed a collection of rough-hewn teeth-grinders, like Kitchen’s Floor and Per Purpose, and Scrabbled are the latest to join the top ranks.

Their album, which spans topics from driving across the Australia in a Kia, to living in everyone’s favourite city, is a pleasure to listen to, combining the grainy poetry and country suburbanite attitude of Dick Diver with a gnarled punk spunk. If you can listen to “Jeebus Cried” and not hear the sound of something that the Violent Femmes would commit satanic sacrifice to remake, then you’re deaf.

Backyard Soccer – Everyone Gets to See You But Me

Like Elvis Depressedly turned somehow lo-fi-ier, Backyard Soccer sound like they’re made out of more tape hiss than actual band. That’s a good thing by the way. It makes it sound like they’re performing through a portal from the 50’s, with the songs coming through like they’re being played through a gramaphone. However, they’ve implemented a solid moper attitude that you can find in bands like Mope City, Kitchen’s Floor and Unity Floors. This kind of scrapings off the floor gives tracks like “Everyone Gets to See You But Me” an instant like-ability, especially if you’re the kind of person that spends a lot of their time beside those floor scrapings.

 

Cool Sounds – Melbourne Fashion

A fucking delight out of Melbourne is Cool Sounds. Not to be too obvious, but they stick by their name, with their new cassette ‘Melbourne Fashion’ producing sounds that some would describe as ‘cool’. The sounds are aquatic, submerged in a tank of suspension in which the lack of a job and being unhappy are way too prevalent. Songs like “Safe Flight”, “Noise Complaints” and “666” are awesome because they’re pure pop written by a lovesick guy out of Melbourne. The jangle hits perfection multiple times, and the vocals are as mopey as Eeyore without anti-depressants. With the the overlaying guitars, melting sax and softly addictive tones, Cool Sounds make a recipe for something that could be the perfect replacement for The Cure as go-to bummer songs.

Cool Sounds support The Ocean Party in Sydney next Friday, the 22nd of August, as part of those awesome parties that Circle Jerk put on for us spoiled Sydney kids. S’all goin’ owf  at the Corner Store at the Imperial Hotel in Erskineville.

Playlist: Skydreams

Here is an indisputable fact: FBi Radio is the best thing to have ever happened to Sydney music. Ever. Forget You Am I, or RIP Society, or The Red Rattler. Sure, those are all amazing things that have happened and forever shifted Sydney’s music in a positive, inspiring direction. But without FBi Radio, we’d still be living in a dark age of shitty music, with the only options on Friday nights being to go to the Entertainment Centre to go watch either a washed up nostalgia act, or a Top 40 clone. FBi presents an alternative that collects all the greatest parts of music, art and culture, and provides a platform for these things to scream and thrash and enjoy themselves, to an appreciative audience.

One of their flagship programs is Telepath, a Monday night program broadcast from 8-9pm, which focuses on the weirder spectrum of Sydney and Australian music. Its history resides in Sydney blog Skydreams, which is one of the best places to discover all sorts of weird and wonderful music, especially if you’re the kind of person who loves themselves some New Weird Australia mixtapes.

Recently, Skydreams turned into a label/mixtape service, with the most recent offering being the kind of thing a mad scientists concocts in a cauldron. There is such a fantastic mix of songs in this mixtape, from Spoonty’s glitchy “Under”, to the brooding carnivore that is Video Ezy. There’s harrowing stuff from Velcro, and simply stunning songs from Option Command, Yoshiko and The Laurels’ Luke O’Farrell. Shit, there’s even some jungle tuneage with the brilliant name “Dear DJ Rashad” from a group called Sails.

One thing becomes apparent very quickly: that these mixtapes aren’t put together haphazardly. They are curated expertly, defying the kind of amateur thrown together aesthetic that so many mixtapes have. The songs convey the attitude of both Skydreams the blog, and Telepath the program, shining a spotlight on underground Australian music of the Holy Shit variety. If you can’t see yourself chucking on this playlist, collapsing into your bed, and your life becoming instantaneously better, then you’re lying to yourself.

New: Food Court – 14 Years Young

Well, old mates Food Court have just gone and released one of the funnest tracks to listen to this year. These boys have obviously grown up on a diet of good times rock n roll, with plenty of strong guitar hooks prevalent on this bad boy. You;d swear that Thee Oh See were having a tussle with You Am I, as this ramshackle nugget of garage goodness seethes with the kind of youthful jubilance reserved for drinking goonsacks in a park that your older brother bought for you. Gooooooood stuuuffff Fooooodieeees!

Gig Review: Palms

Thursday, 14th August @ Newtown Social Club

Fuck, I mean, what is there to say about Palms that hasn’t been said? They’re a bunch of local shredders that took the pop genius of Red Riders, and added an injection of rock n roll mayhem. Their album last year, ‘Step Brothers’, was a work of art, covering a variety of musical bases, whilst staying completely original and heavily dosed with a strong suit of singles to get your shimmy on to. So, with the sound of a sophomore LP drawing closer, no wonder they sold out their return show at Newtown Social Club. It’s been a long few months since the Palms boys tore a stage a new one, and everyone in attendance was gleefully awaiting a return to form.

But more on that later. Boasting a member of the amazing band that was Bridezilla, Low Lux opened up the proceedings with a violin and thrashing spirit that was straight out of Poltergeist. The melodies were dark and fantastic, swaying with a thrill not felt since Paul Hogan uttered “That’s not a knife; this is a knife!”. For only their second show, Low Lux made it look like they were well worn professionals, flawlessly hammering out their songs to an eager audience. It didn’t matter if you hadn’t heard any of their material (a statement which unfortunately applies to everyone, as they haven’t put anything up on the Internet just yet). The more they worked their way through their set, the more their confidence and intrigue picked up, a rolling stone of awesome in motion. Whatever they’re doing next, make sure you watch out for it.

Old mates Hockey Dad hit the stage next, and I don’t mean that in the sense that they graced it, or some other bullshit cliche. They absolutely pounded the shit out of it, owning it like Joe Hockey owns the persona of Douchebag of the Year. They tore through the songs off their debut EP ‘Dreamin’ with the kind of poise reserved for professionals. Obviously, anyone that knows Hockey Dad knows that the boys are as loose and rowdy as Todd “Take A Photo Of Me Pissing In My Mouth’ Carney.

But for that half hour set, Hockey Dad were on par with The Strokes, providing calculated earworms that warm the soul with the strenth of a thousands shots of bourbon. Their shambolic teenage rockers are probably the best thing to have come from a couple of young’ns since Lil Bow Wow. A shame that they didn’t manage to take out the Triple J Unearthed High competition, but considering that they’re already so on point in a live and recorded format, it’s hard to see Hockey Dad going anywhere but in the Sia/Gotye/5 Seconds of Summer/Savage Garden direction. By that, I mean they’ll hit #1 on Billboard, not that they’ll Frankenstein those other bands into their next single. Although if they do… the idea came from this guy, and my lawyers will be in contact.

To the headliners, and its been more than far too long since we’ve seen Al Grigg and co. destroy our eardrums with some of the funnest music since “Twist & Shout”, or “Fuck Tha Police”. Nothing gets (white) people dancing harder than those two jams. Anyway, they open with their classic “In the Morning”, a lost Bob Dylan A-side if there ever was one, before launching into their new track “You Am I”. Immediately, one thing becomes clear, as clear as the fact that Abbott is the Anti-Christ: Palms have only gained in their abilities to turn songs about nothing into something. With a chorus that goes “Just talking shit, and listening to You Am I”, the songs speaks volumes. Actually, fuck that, it doesn’t speak volumes, it damn screams them from the mountaintop. Hey Everybody! Palms are back! And they rule!

From here, it’s a classic hit-fest, from “The Summer Is Done With Us”, “In My Heart” and the as-yet-unreleased “Rainbow Road”, which boasts the best chorus, seriously you guys, like, ever. These are al-trock bangaz, (c’mon, let’s make that phrase a thing #trending) rock n roll good times to the core. Also, its became sorely apparent that Dion ‘Danger’ Ford is the most underrated guitarist in Australia. The man shreds like his guitar is a nice brie, and his fingers are slicers, and there’s a Nazi Chef yelling into his earpiece that there needs to be more cheese! More cheese, Dion! More cheese! And so, his fingers whir around that fretboard, smashing each note with furious anger and making all 80’s bands hang their heads in shame.

Closing the show, they pulled out the big guns of “Love” and “This Last Year”. Stage diving and crowd surfing instantly occurred, and because of the ill-placed stage height, my already damaged knees began to cry out in shame (insert crude blow job joke here). These final songs had more power and velocity than Megatron on a coke binge, and tore the fucking roof of Newtown Social Club. There was such intensity, you’d swear that you were in the Breaking Bad finale, only minus the meth and baldness.

After the power-outage inducers that closed their show, there was a genuine, unplanned encore, both the best and rarest type of encore, a logic that doesn’t stretch to teenage pregnancies. And trust me, I looked at that set-list, they didn’t plan on having an encore . In that sunny happy comedown of having seen Palms play one of the best sets I’ve seen, supported by two bands who will surely dominate the next twelve months, a warm, wholesome feeling emerges in the pit of my stomach, and for once, I didn’t need to shit. Palms are back baby, and they sound fucking sick!

New: Old Mate – Requesting Permission

‘Old Mate’ is hands down the greatest expression of all time. Like, I mean, ever. It can be used as a genuine expression of devotion, a solidification of friendship, or it can be used as a sardonic barb to kill self-esteem. I think Old Mate (the band/solo project of Bitch Prefect member Pat Telfer) combines a little bit of both. Their single “Requesting Permission” combines both a sense of dread with the uniquely Australian emotion of being down and out, and being okay about that.

Lazy guitar strums, intergalactic alien warbles and scratched snares provide the background for Telfer’s incredibly morose lyrics. “Requesting Permission” aesthetically sits somewhere around Kitchen’s Floor and Twerps , mushing the two together for the ultimate I-feel-like-shit song.

But by far, the greatest thing about this track is its natural narrative build. “Requesting Permission” starts as a morbid mumble, grows in strength, and then bursts on the line “Every now and then I find, I am going out of my…”, before spiralling downward with the help of a shockingly good guitar solo. The mantra of “Every day I go away” is the perfect way to close the song, almost like its showing a guy that has lost complete and utter faith, but has only now come to a conclusion of hopelessness.

Just like the band name Old Mate, this song is a tale so aligned to Australian culture, of being kicked when your down, and becoming utterly used to it. The fact that Old Mate manages to take that story and turn it into something completely understandable to the average human being, makes this track something worthy of being ‘Song of the Year’.

 

New: Community Radio – Real Transformation/Puff of Smoke

We’re only halfway through the year, and already old mates Community Radio have put out a second 7″ for the year! Obviously, Community Radio are a bunch of legends, having naming themselves after possibly the greatest musical ally of good music, and they’re tunes aren’t half bad either. They take an old-school guitar pop stance in their jangly tunes, looking closer at the discography of The Clean and The Cannanes than any of the newer explosion of bands talking about their lack of motivation and shitty jobs.

That’s not all that separates Community Radio from the pack either. Their songs are a little more introspective and romantic, showing signs of seasoned lyricists and musicians. Their newest track ‘Real Transformation’ showcases this talent, almost to a fault it is so good. The track runs along a dainty keyboard hum and rattling guitar. It has the slow warmth, that glows itself into your skin.The B-Side is equally delightful, a playful nipper of a track entitled ‘Puff of Smoke’, that lazily winds itself into a harmonious psych-pop gem.

As the chorus to the lead track will attest, you will experience a real transformation, as you move into a world in which you know about, and adore Community Radio, both the amazing band and the platform for amazing bands alike.

New: Step-Panther – It Came From the Heart

Step-Panther are renowned for being slackers with a commanding knowledge on HOW 2 SHRED. Well, it seems our boys have grown up and gone down some weird route of shrugging breakup guitar rock. A little more jangly than what we’re used to, the new Step-Panther still has their trademark bummer vibes that reach out to anyone who’s been through a shitty breakup (aka everyone). Regardless of the slower pace, Step-Panther have never sounded cooler or more confident, trapped in a place somewhere near The Ocean Party’s “Quarter Life Crisis” and Palms’ “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again”. If you ask me, that’s a damn fine place to be stuck – if only we could 127 Hours this joint, and be jammed into this jam for a couple days/