Gig Review: Step-Panther & Bearhug

Friday, 21st November @ Goodgod Small Club

For two of my favourite local bands, 2014 has been a career-affirming year. Both Step-Panther and Bearhug have released the best material of their lives, solid,  cohesive sophomore records that accentuate their past tendencies, and showcase their abilities to write fucking great songs. Step-Panther’s ‘Strange But Nice’ has to be one of the albums of the year, with it’s raw, slicing honesty, and Bearhug are most definitely in the Top Tier, with a record that never puts a foot wrong, only engaging in the best walls of guitar haze. Tonight, the two bands shared a stage, and threw down the gauntlet to show that their more than just a bunch of pretty faces.

Point Being, a band with about five gigs under their belt, opened with a set of crushing rock. What’s cooler than being cool? Not ice-cold, but rather this fucking band. Their set was a looming cache of forthright guitars set to their most primitive. On record, Point Being can come across as almost friendly, despite their dry delivery. On stage, even after their frontman had only landed down after running the fucking New York Marathon a mere few hours before, the engaged with the sort of white-knuckle, bared teeth rabid look you’d get from one of the re-born creatures of Pet Semetary. They’re a weird breed of a band that everyone knows but can’t remember, an amalgamation of all the best punk acts of the 1980′s – Mission of Burma injected with a bit more underdog aroma, the kind that’s bred out of the suburbs of Sydney.

Bearhug had their original lineup on stage, and there was a certain extra to the way they played on the night. Their music just seemed to thrive that much harder, and although it took a few songs for their warm fuzz to waft around the room, by the time “Habit Wave” crash landed, the room was effectively enraptured. There was a new energy in the way Bearhug play, whether it be the blur their hands make when thrashing over “Animal”, or the loping romantic elope of “Over the Hill”. Or maybe it was just the fact one of their guitarists, Jesse Bayley’s imitation of Joey Belladona of Anthrax-impression, heaving black hair whipping across the stage like Willow Smith was in the building. Whatever it was, their music, mostly compromised from the gorgeous ‘So Gone’ made for a sincerely gripping show, thrilling even. The guitar blanket that descended made for a calming, zen-like state, like the Dalai Llama formed a band with J Mascis. Some might be cynical as to whether Bearhug would be able to pull off their cocooning sound in a live format, but trapped in the small room of Goodgod with the five gents made for a rewarding show.

Finally, Step-Panther blasted their way onstage with “User Friendly”, “It Came From the Heart” and “Nowhere”. The trio of Zach, Steve and Dan made for one of the loudest sets seen in Goodgod since METZ. They were a flurry of lambasting guitars, shooting chords and cymbal crashes into your ears with the velocity of the Millennium Falcon at light speed. Steve’s guitar is blaring at 11, but the resulting wash of sound is less Spinal Tap and more medieval wasteland out of Evil Dead 3 – cartoonish, bloody and fucking good. One only has to headbang along to “Nowhere”s two solos to see that the band have made a rock equivalent to Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s “Get Up Morning”.

Step-Panther’s set borders on epic, but is injected with too much normal personality to be some bullshit swords ‘n’ sandals saga that Dragonforce might pull together. Almost entirely built upon their fantastic new album, besides a brief, pummelling edition of “Fight Like a Knight”, the band proves that not only have they matured in their song-writing and musical ability, but they’ve also increased their performance. Their drummer, Daniel Radburn, is particularly impressive, showcasing what has to be one of the most batshit crazy drumming skillz seen since Pantera – the man’s arms are like Doctor Octopus’ appendages, a destructive force in eight different directions.

It’s a night to fucking remember. All three bands are excellent, but what’s more, they’re even better live. In considering that these are two of the best local releases of the year, saying that going to see any of these bands is essential to your life is a bit of understatement.

New Noisy Punk: A Place to Bury Strangers + Terrorista + Gazar Strips

If you’re ears aren’t bleeding, it’s not loud enough.

A Place To Bury Strangers – Straight

Awww yisss! A Place to Bury Strangers have returned with an almighty punk beast that’s not sure if it wants to get jiggy on the dancefloor or slice your body up like some contraption out of Saw. ‘Straight’ almost has pop sensibilities, if it wasn’t for the constant guitar withdrawals that keep feeding into the song. A throbbing bass riff that grinds uncomfortably close to sexual, and enough high-power strut that Guitar Wolf would probably challenge APTBS to a walk-off, Zoolander-style if these forces ever met.

Terrorista – Darren Vs. Bag

Toronto is becoming fast-known for it’s damningly great punk music, RE: The Dirty Nil. Terrorista, as their name alludes to, are a cross between a terrorist attack and a wristy, pleasure and pain colliding over and over again. If Trust Punks and Archers of Loaf were involved in a car wreck, their funeral wake would come across as something like the ferocious “Darren Vs. Bag”, a punk tune so furious it doesn’t give a fuck that it could probably place in a reasonable dimension’s Top 40 countdown.

Gazar Strips - Daylight

A couple weeks back, Brisbane’s Gazar Strips put forward a fantastic track called “Lost Holiday”. They’ve backed it up with the other side of the 7″, a disembowelling terror-soaked track called “Daylight”. If you hate the sunlight, and always wondered what it would sound like if Inkubus Sukkubus and Killing Joke were local heroes rather than far-fetched icons of the 80′s, then look no further than the Gazar Strips’ latest.

 

New: Love Signs – Hold You Down

Following on from the post about the EXCELLENT Nite Fields below, Brisbane excels at more than just dirty punk rock and glowing post-punk, namely in their abundance of drop-dead gorgeous guitar-pop. Sometimes considered a bit of a dirty word, bands like Babaganouj, Go Violets and Blank Realm will crack even the hardest truckie outta Bankstown.

Love Signs are a pretty new band, with their latest “Hold You Down” going even further than the usual nod to the Go-Betweens. Instead, they seem to be longing for a Patti Smith-meets-Annie Lennox-meets-Marianne Faithful. It’s polite but stunning music, something that wouldn’t have been out of place at a pinnacle scene in a John Hughes movie.

New: Nite Fields – You I Never Knew

Nite Fields are the sort of band that makes your heart jump into your throat incredibly quickly. Sure, it’s a bit of a health hazard, but when post-punk is made this beautifully, the thumping beat of your vital organs in your oesophagus becomes secondary to your primary motive of soaking up this bloody great band.

Newly signed to the awesome label felte Records, who have also put out Sydney dudes Mysteries, White Hex and Standish/Carlyon, “You I Never Knew” is part New Order, circa-Low Life, Power Corruption & Lies, inserted with some of that blank drawl that makes Brisbane one of the greatest musical cities on the planet right now. Although covered in glossy sheen, Nite Fields still manage to show through a bit of a decrepit sneer in their lyrics and delivery. Worth the free download? Only as much as a platinum edition of “Terminator 2″!

New: King Single – Broke Advice

Living in Newcastle is like being one of the ugly step-sisters in Cinderella. For some reason, you’re made out to be the villain, and it’s all a little bit of bullshit, cause some fancy prick called Sydney-rella got to fuck Prince Charming aka Tony Abbott.

But in reality, the step-sister, although a bit on the weirder spectrum of things, is not ugly at all. In fact, they might even be a little bit BETTER than Shitney. Case in point: King Single. A one man band compromised of Rob Nedeljković, who has the pretty killer job of featuring in Lenin Lennon and Bare Grillz, has a day job of creating dream-pop that’ll make Captured Tracks cream in their pants. 

“Broke Advice” is probably the closest thing that King Single has come to mirroring his hardcore projects, with wild guitar lines echoing some of the more frantic moments of “Friends”, but the sighing drum machine thumps, and Craft Spells-esque vocals. Lovers of romantic pop, prepare to find your new favourite band.

New: Lanks – Beach Houses

It’s been made abundantly clear on this website that the best kind of electronic music is the shit that makes you shit yourself in awe/has ties to Jon Hopkins. Those that go a bit further than the usual knob-tweaking and thumping bass makes all the difference, moving from standard floor-filler to bonafide thrillers.

Lanks falls into this category of beautiful demi-gods. His latest, “Beach Houses” proves that, if he had been born in the time of the Aztecs, folks would be performing ritualistic sacrifices to seek good favour from His Mightiness.

Sensual as hell, with bubbling vocals that could be found in a high-scale hotel lobby, and a pattering flute riff that’s going to make Mister Tumnus jealous as balls, Lanks makes himself out to be the Kanye West of Melbourne producers, where extravagance and masterful production are king.

New: Roland Tings – Devotion

And just like that, Roland Tings has dropped a brand new song that’ll make you give up any and all dreams of being a producer. Shattered synths reverberate with the strength of a thousand FEELS, man. If you don’t want to dance and re-enact some sort of shitty dance that you thought was cool at your Year 7 Social, like “The Shopping Trolley” or “The Fishing Pole”, then there is something insanely wrong with you.

“Devotion” is allegedly the first portion of an upcoming LP from Roland Tings. If he can make everything as instantly groovy and immersive as this JAM, then he can only have success and cocaine heaped upon him.

New: Hierophants – I Don’t Mind

Look, there’s a few things that are pretty goddamn swell about this new one from Hierophants. Firstly, it’s coming out on GONER RECORDS! That’s, like, one of the best fucking labels in the world! They put out Jay Reatard, and it’s owned by one of the guys from The Oblivians. It’s garage rock superstardom, the White House of shitty rock n roll.

Secondly, the release of “I Don’t Mind” comes with the news that Hierophants will be releasing their debut LP! Fuck yes! Fuck 7″s, when you can just go for the whole 12″ shebang.

Finally, it’s just a bloody tune. It’s schizophrenic, mongoloid rock that DEVO would love. Deranged synths, alien drum beats, the kind of rock and roll yelp that only comes from a haunted VHS tape. It’s v. fuckn cool.

New: Flower Drums – Bad Websites

Don’t I know all about bad websites. I’m the goddamn proprietor of a sad, bad website that looks about as decent as the regurgitation of that half taco hanging out of your mouth around 3:24 am on a Saturday.

But I digress…Flower Drums outta Perth have put together a tasty jam, full of smooth synth lines that make the moves in ballet look like an elephant getting blind drunk and stumbling upstairs. Accompany that with some hot-breath vocals, and there’s the recipe for sensuality right there. Guy Fieri, take note.

Album Review: Mesa Cosa – YaYa Brouhaha

When you open up a record entitled ‘YaYa Brouhaha’, you go into it knowing that you’re probably not going to find the next Bob Dylan. In fact, it’s more likely you’ll find a howling, fuck-eyed Iggy Pop, in the smearing-peanut-butter-over-his-belly phase of career. Yeah, that comparison probably sits right. It’s too fun of a title to be anything as macabre as GG Allin, and it’s too idiotic to be anything that takes itself seriously. So, basically the perfect mix of punk rock and hellfire carelessness.

Which is exactly what a Mesa Cosa show is. If you haven’t caught them before, make a blood pact with yourself to catch them in the flesh. Make a deal with the devil, eat out a porcupine, go for a toilet dive like that scene from  who gives a shit, just make sure that you see these guys unleash hell upon your unprepared soul. Sure, they’ve got a song about getting the hell out of me beloved Sydney, but can you really blame them? Shitney is basically pompousness, a harbour filled with chemically-suffocated fish and a big bridge.

The main issue regarding Mesa Cosa on record, is that converting that amount of insane energy and complete disregard for hygiene would be bloody hard. Shit, that’s not just hard, it’s damn nigh impossible. When you have a band that puts their bodies on the line as enthusiastically as Mesa Cosa, it’s hard to know whether you’re dealing with living, breathing psychotics or a slithering five-headed Hydra that is actually immortal, and therefore has no need for things like “safety” and “personal space”. Therefore, capturing that sort of idea in recorded format seems to be a task about as likely as finding someone/something for George Brandis to mate with (Farmer Wants a Brandis?)

But in ‘YaYa Brouhaha’, Mesa Cosa do a damn fine job of showcasing their revoltingly ecstatic mind frame. Switching between the likely demonic rambles of Cheech Marin in ‘From Dusk ‘Til Dawn’ set to the sound of Armageddon Garage Rock n Roll (“Bad Blood”, “Bruja”) and straight up fucked-up-ness that makes Kevin Smith’s ‘Tusk’ seem like one of the more reasonable releases of 2014. For those who don’t know about it, the guy who made Clerks has gone batshit crazy and released a movie where Justin “I’m A Mac” Long gets turned into a motherfucking Walrus. And Mesa Cosa’s “Inocente” makes that dude look sane.

Whilst the beginning of the record starts off wobbly and unsure, by the time “YaYaYaYa” rolls around, your ears just be but bloody stubs. ‘YaYa Brouhaha’ is a record best played loud, with the expectation of partying to disembowelment. It sounds like early Ty Segall records fleshed out to the size and ferocity of early King Gizzard. It’s Taz the Tasmanian Devil’s favourite band. If the B-52′s hooked up with the Manson family, and had a drug-fuelled orgy, this would be the recorded result. Their rock and roll is absolutely brutal, compelling and twisted, enraged and playful. It’s rock n roll on Mexican opiates – and because the band are having so much fun with the album, it becomes hard not to get sucked up into their hurricane of destruction as well.

Get a load of it at the Mesa Cosa Bandcamp.