Holy shit, this playlist is crazy, a gritty, modern reboot of a mixtape if ever there was one. There’s a whole lot of underground punk, with Gutter Gods and TAX repizentin’ for the genre. And there’s some great new ones from Cloud Nothings, Juan Wauters and Cerebral Ballzy. And then there’s the usual proliferation of older but amazeballs stuff, like the spleen-rupturing Trash Talk and GG Allin, smooth pop of The Holidays, and the cool college rock of PILE. Enjoy!
Thursday 6th of March @ Sydney Entertainment Centre
BOOM! Lights go up, crowd goes wild. It’s the classic stadium rock show that we’ve all been waiting for. Or at least 90% of the room have been waiting for. The other 10% are probably unwilling participants, ungrateful significant others who couldn’t give less of a shit as to whether Trent Reznor is still a whiny bitch, or if Josh Homme dyes his hair red.
It’s been a while since I went to a massive venue like the Sydney Entertainment Centre. And I’m not quite sure whether it’s because my ears have become used to excruciatingly bad sound at venues, but the way that bass thunders in my chest and Trent Reznor’s vocals ring crystal clear is refreshing. However, that’s probably one of the highlights of Nine Inch Nails’ set. Overall, it doesn’t cast too much of a shadow. The effect of his performance is lopsided. When he plays a big hit, like the one-two punch of ‘March of the Pigs’ and ‘Piggy’, a scenario that caused my inner 14-year old to jizz profusely, the crowd goes mental, as they rightfully should have. But stuff like this is interspersed with random electronic shit that, frankly, sounds boring. There’s nothing all that exciting that happens on stage when Reznor is moaning about how much his life suck whilst surrounded by thousands of adoring fans and accompanied by a light show that would make a gathering of UFO abduction theorists lose their collective shit.
The haphazard hit-and-miss spectacle of Nine Inch Nails’ show makes for patient waiting, and only towards the end does it offer a reason for dedicated attention. Before that, I was pretty content to nod along, stand in line at the atrocious bar queue, and fantasise about how great it would be if I were in Metallica circa 1987. Even old mate Trent seems to get more excited when he hauls out the hits-a whole crowd screaming back ‘FIST FUCK!’ during ‘Wish’? Yes, please! And ‘The Hand That Feeds’ and ‘Head Like A Hole’ are gloriously alive performances, with Trent stalking the stage in classic form, a nihilistic barbarion. And the closer of ‘Hurt’ is a fantastic way to close, an adoring crowd of young and old singing back the original NIN song that most actually think is a Johnny Cash song. Beautiful.
But what about ‘Closer’, Ryan? Surely the man played his biggest hit? Right? Right? What the fuck, he didn’t play ‘Closer’? Yep, the song that everyone wanted to hear was peculiarly absent in the set list. Nine Inch Nails abandon Australia for five-ish years, and when they return Reznor pisses on the fans, playing a bunch of technically proficient but overall uninteresting new material in leu of a track people would kill to see live. It just seems like a bit of a kick in the balls, especially on top of a performance that was mediocre and tired for a band so renowned for their live performance and visceral attitude.
For Queens of the Stone Age, there was no such problem. A red carpet is laid out, Oscars-style, a precursor to the bombastically rich and luxurious performance all are about to witness. Josh Homme and co. come out and immediately blast into ‘Songs for the Deaf’s ‘You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionare’. Instantly, and I mean instantly, the crowd is a roaring, soaring maelstrom of intensity and adoration. Queens own the stage like they were birthed onto one with their respective instruments in hand. The music is fast, repulsively so, but it whirs and connects with a viciousness that most bands couldn’t hope for.
The set continues with the same momentum. Every song is a bonafide hit from the Queens career, a caterwauling construction of awesome. For the first hour, the focus is on songs from the new album, ‘…Like Clockwork’, with tracks such as ‘My God Is The Sun’ and ‘Smooth Sailing’ causing a ruckus of biblical plague proportions. But of course, it’s the older hits that form the circle pits and incite the largest bellows of ecstasy. ‘No One Knows’ kicks off the first real mosh of the night, and ‘Little Sister’s cowbell is, at this point, a certified apthrodisiac.
A few more hits off the new record, with the title track and ‘If I Had A Tail’ appearing with over-annunciated warmth, and its time to kick back into hit-making territory. ‘Sick, Sick, Sick’ and ’3′s and 7′s’ team up together to form a double-kick more powerful than anything that Lars Ulrich could stimulate from a drum set. Then ‘Better Living Through Chemistry’ pops up for asphincter-loosening extended version, literally causing my mouth to drop into unintended awe and ecstasy. I know I say my jaw drops a lot, but this time, it actually happened, and stayed that way for a good ten minutes.
Besides commanding the stage like Dr. Manhattan, and being the rock star God that most has thought perished with the gentrification of rock, The Queens also adopted a fine visual backdrop. ‘Make it Wit Chu’ was accompanied by a suitably horror-ful woman in suspended grey, whilst set closer ‘Go With The Flow’ echoed the balls-to-the-wall rock n roll with a flurry of Songs for the Deaf pitchforks.
Really, Queens of the Stone Age could not be faulted on a single level. They were professional, but oozed the kind of atmosphere that cried intimacy. They were rockstars minus the self-importance. And best off all, they knew how to play really, really great music. In every aspect of their performance, they tore apart mediocrity with the same primal passion usually reserved for cannibalism. Without a doubt, Queens of the Stone Age were one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen, and in the context of stadium rock, they are the best.
After dropping ‘Tryst’ a couple months back, it became fairly obvious that the world was on the verge of getting its next shit-hot Australian producer. Not since Hayden James’ jaw-dropping EP of last year has something so timidly captured the hearts and minds of me, myself and I(if you’re confused, I exist on multiple planes of existence, like the Dalai Lama or the guys from GWAR). And now, the unsheathing of Tincture’s debut EP has arisen upon our souls. God help us all…
The first track from the EP is the recently dropped ‘Similar Circles’. You may remember that I turned into a bit of a fan girl, and tried to cut off Luke Dalton’s earlobes, hang them from my own earifices, and create a personal version of ‘Similar Circles’. A remix, if you will. Needless to say, Dalton calmly ‘talked’ me out of it, and I returned back to Sydney with an anomaly of bruises and my Buffalo Bill fantasy unfulfilled. So, it’s pretty obvious that ‘Similar Circles’ rules. Think of SBTKRT and Grimes getting together in the outback, and duelling each other in a knob-tweaking, vocal-shifting death match, with Moby’s early stuff taking the role of referee.
The EP then shifts into the killer mode, shredding all in its path into a submissive guest of the glorious R&B shuffler and EP namesake ‘Tryst (feat. Hazel Brown)’. This is like an amalgamation of all the flaming Future Classic stuff being rolled into a delectable, bit-sized treat that’ll actually chuck an Alien and burst its way out of your chest. Don’t get cocky. Although ‘Tryst’ shares a mild, surface resemblance to Flume’s early track ‘Sleepless (feat. Antony for Cleopatra)’, Tincture goes off in a completely different direction than Flume, preferring to bump and grind rather than contort and twist. And honestly, I prefer the way Tincture’s doing it.
The next tracks, ‘Treepanning’ and ‘Need U’ include even more of Dalton’s vocals, and at this point, it becomes obvious that Marcus Whale, and his various projects are probably a massive influence on Dalton’s work. Whale’s signature hushed tones cut with splotchy ‘n’ spliced electronica are faithfully re-interpreted to mass effect by Tincture. The R&B vibes become more focused and concise, and the splayed synths take on a more backseat feel, as the vocals become the main attraction. In case you’ve had trouble picking through the adjectives, this means that Dalton’s doing a spectacular fucking job.
Finally, ‘Heavy Water’ closes out the EP, and by the pubes of Skrillex does it shake things up. There’s some solid Major Lazer vibes, with steel-drum lazers shooting through a futuristic atmosphere of pipes and chopped female vocals. It’s like running through a smoky midnight jungle made entirely of Prince’s clothes and neon leftovers from Oscar Key Sung. ‘Heavy Water’ is fucking lush and exotic, alive to the touch, and probably the most friendly track on the EP.
Without gushing too much, Tincture has bolted out of the gate on his debut EP. But not only has he shunned competition, he’s finished this race and the next one, all whilst the competitors are tying up their laces and trying out that sick new pedals they stole from Astral People’s garage. ‘Tryst’ is an EP that moves with fluidity and confidence, and is helmed by a master of their craft.
For just $7, you can own a slice of amazing, available on Tincture’s Bandcamp right here.
Ernest Ellis is, like, crazy cool. Like, if you implanted the genes of Beck into a cool dude made up of body parts from Kurt Vile, Real Estate and Woods, you’d have the Frankenstein of Ernest Ellis. He’d be a fucking mess obviously-there’d be way too much hair in the way. The shaggy manes of Beck and Kurt Vile? Dream on, mate, try shoving a hot poker in your eyes, it’d be less blinding.
But our young protagonist sees his way around this (pun intended) by cutting those luscious locks. Now, he can see, and the things he sees make him sad. Instead of being a mopey loser and making Cure/Enrique Iglesias mashups like the rest of us mere mortals, the Sydney-sider has decided to use his scientific given talents. Harnessing the haunting majesty of ‘Sea Change’, Ernest Ellis adds just enough melancholy-pop that seems to be all the rage right now (see: King Krule, Bon Iver) to the mixture, and the end product is something that’ll be fondly remembered as ‘Cold Desire’.
There’s no doubt that ‘Cold Desire’ is a strong record. It pumps with an unusual energy, tapping into the cold winters that Sydney has never really had, the bitterness of a sour relationship, and a vain hopelessness that is completely genuine. There’s a lot of heartbreak on this album, and the way it churns up your stomach into a thousand pieces, like a cement truck of melancholy, is something that voices don’t tend to do all that often anymore.
Seriously though, the strength of the songs that Ernest Ellis have the craftsmanship and care of fucking Gepetto. Except they don’t waver around the bullshit alive-puppet phase, but head straight to real-boy territory right quick. Their full, fleshed-out realised ideas that link together through a daisy chain of being bummed out.
On, ‘Black Wire’, the most deadset gut-wrenching indie rock anthem since The Jesus & Mary Chain’s ‘Just Like Honey’, you feel as though you’ve just gone and punched Steve Irwin’s corpse and are dealing with the regret all in one four minute rush. The forehead-creasing anguish that roars quietly in ‘Black Wire’ are, at times, too much, and makes for the next perfect break-up song. When Mr. Ellis mourns, “There’s too much love, there’s too much love, Honey in my head” you want to reach into the song, give him a big hug, and scream, “DUDE, ME TOO! I FEEL YOU DAWG!”.
Although it doesn’t quite reach the same emotional connection and heart-breaking heights of ‘Black Wire’, the rest of the album remains to equally caress and create those hurt feelings. ‘Way Down’ and ‘Shine Like Me’ also hold a ghostly indie-rcok poignancy similar to that of Aussie comrades Pony Face or, for a more popular but less accurate example, Augie March. Not to say the other tracks don’t rain on the heart’s parade-all songs on ‘Cold Desire’ don’t just tug on the emotive strings, but aim to actively replace them with industrial steel replicants that are factory guaranteed to withstand the pressure of melting indie ballads.
For all those who thought it began and ended with Kurt Vile, or are disappointed with the new Beck album, this one’s for you. For those that haven’t been able to get over that breakup from seven years ago, this one’s for you. For those that really dig on indie rock that manages to be intriguing and utterly unpretentious, this one’s for you. For the rest, I hear there’s a new Korn album, or something.
To see me frothing over the new Ernest Ellis album in the flesh, head to Red Eye Records this Friday for a free in-store performance around 5.
One of the hardest moral and logistical decisions I’ve ever had to make was whether I go to Blank Realm or Palms & the Gooch Palms this past Friday night. Now, although I don’t regret going to Palmarama (it was one of the sickest shows of recent memory) watching the new video for Blank Realm’s ‘Reach You On The Phone’ is making it that much harder and increasing the wish that I could clone myself.
Besides ‘Reach You On the Phone’ being crazy, awesome good, the video is probably one of the best visual experiences created. It’s like a mixture of the claymation-pop in Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’ with the dark sex and lust of Q Lazzarus. If Iggy Pop and David Bowie were taking a bunch of multi-coloured vitamins only given out in mental institutions instead of the usual injected cocktail, they might’ve created something like this. The neon Deerhunter-meets-Crocodiles sound making out with hardcore Japanese karoake is the kind of stuff unforgettable videos are made of.
In all seriousness, the video for ‘Reach You On the Phone’ is something to make the DIY-pop gods proud. This shit is jaw-droppingly, eye-popping, stomach-churningly good.
I recently watched ‘Boyz N The Hood’, so I’m going to review Movement’s new single the way I feel Ice Cube would review it:
Man, this shit is crazy tight. It’s like…yo Cuba, what’s the motherfucking word? Tight as balls! Yeah, Cuba, you a man of words! Motha-fucka you should meet with my boy Dre…Oh, I’m breaking character? How ’bout I break yo mothafucking face?
Anyway, this shit is like, the smoothest jam, it gets my panties wet. Soak-a-licious. Mmm, perfect. Makes me bite my upper lip good. These Movement boys would be tight in the ghetto, despite the fact they exist a full two decades after this significant peice of African American cinema was created. Anachronism’s aside, ‘Like Lust’ is wack!*
*My entire knowledge of how Ice Cube actually sounds is compiled from the aforementioned ‘Boyz N Tha Hood’, various soundbites of ‘Fuck The Police’ and ‘Are We There Yet?’.
Believe it or not, some people got pretty shitty about the release of ‘Northern Lights’, the first single off DZ Deathrays upcoming debut. Personally, I thought it showed some great growth for the band, but hey, that’s just my shitty opinion.
So basically, ‘Gina Works At Hearts’ goes out to all those that were ever doubting that the band couldn’t pull off another high-octane punch to the gonads. ‘Gina Works At Hearts’ goes harder and faster than that new Need for Speed movie, and it will pulverise you like accidentally slipping your hand in a blender.
However, there’s also pop elements to the track. DZ have always had that element of chorus-rocking to them, but ‘Gina’ is less subtle about it. But when you slam a shredding melody, and a chorus of overblown cynicism like ’Gina works at hearts/But she doesn’t know/ Why she does it though/ She just loves the attention’, then it’s hard to find any faults. You’re better off just sinking into a mindset of one-track minded moshing, and leaving the complicated shit to people that like Chopin and Puff Daddy.
Gather ye round, minstrels of good music! It’s time to watch some videos that are bad for your brain cells!
HAIM-If I Could Change Your Mind
As of Laneway, I’m a super-dedicated HAIM fan, and will defend them to the death, unless they start releasing shitty music, in which case I’ll pretend I’ve never heard of them. As it is, HAIM are at the music video point in the album cycle, with the most recent piece being for the excellent cut ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’. What is already a glorious pop number gets shifted into Michael Jackson levels of stardom, albeit with a strong sheen of Runaways spunk. That Las Vegas sign sealed the deal for me: I’m semi-thinking of becoming a stalker of this group.
The Horrors-I See You
Although technically a lyric video, the psychedelic water splashes make this video invigorating. And it’s new stuff from The Horrors, so of course I was going to talk about it to the Internet.
‘I See You’ is having mixed reactions for me, causing an inner turmoil not felt since a good friend of mine said they liked the Star Wars prequels. On the one hand, ‘I See You’ is undeniably amazing. It’s epic, but not pretentious, lush, but not confusing, and full of emotion and zest. It sounds like a mix of POND with City Calm Down, and that’s gut-wrenchingly, stomach-churningly beautiful. ‘I See You’ is great, and because of its length, the song continues to unfold and expand. Just when you think it couldn’t get any better, plot twist, it does.
However, that last point is also the problem. The song shifts so dramatically from start to finish, but there isn’t really any logic behind the movements. It’s like The Horrors are trying to be Radiohead, but its not really working with the same consistency as they probably would’ve liked. Whereas you could listen to ‘Paranoid Android’ a couple million times, ‘I See You’ probably won’t have the same effect.
And now for something completely different: Minneapolis’ Real Numbers. These guys were fucking fantastic when they came down for Sound Summit late last year, so seeing that they have a clip for their amazeballs track ‘Ordeal’ is nice. Basically, it’s a Psychedelic Furs album cover that’s come to life with the help of some simple garage rock ‘n’ roll. Gorgeous, like an Alaskan sunset, or a 2-for-1 deal at the local kebab shop.
You don’t need me to tell you that there’s been a shitload of amazing Melbourne jangle music happening in the past couple years. It seems like every dickhead (me) with a blog (me) has written something about “dole-wave” or some other derivative of the awesomeness occurring in our cultural capital of Melbourne (BLASPHEMY!)
That trend continues in the form of one of the leaders of the scene, Ciggie Witch. They’ve been kicking it for a couple years, since late 2012, making music of the sighing jizz-worthy variety. Now, after two years of kicking it Beastie Boys style, they’re getting around to releasing their debut record. Why so long to make a record? Well, if you look at the members of Ciggie Witch, their contributions to other projects reads like a who’s-who of Melbourne’s entire music scene. Jangle or no jangle, the members of Ciggie Witch do not give a fuck-they just want to make music!
So, it comes with great excitement that Ciggie Witch announce their debut long-player, of which the single ‘Long Weekend’ is the first single. As expected, it’s fucking beautiful. I seriously considered taking the profanity out of that description, but then I decided that it wouldn’t do justice to what is a gem in the jangle crown. The way the music caresses you like Grandma’s chocolate-chip cookies, and the lyrics manage to describe the shit out of a quarter life crisis and all the difference of having a long weekend with mates can make. 10/10 would jangle-pop (That’s a euphamism for bang. What I’m saying is that I would bang the shit out of Ciggie Witch)
Ooooft, new tunes from our sunburnt country. If you put down your goonie for just a second, you’ll see that these tracks are worth stopping your cheap wine bender for.
Lurch & Chief- Mother/Father
You! Yes, you! The fat turd with Cheethoh stained fingers, listening to the latest nu-metal release! Quit being such a fucking wanker, and listen to the new Lurch & Chief single! It’s a slice of garage pop specifically aimed at turning the peice-of-shit you, that posted a photo on Facebook of your new Insane Clown Posse makeup, into something mildly attractive. ‘Mother/Father’ features a chorus of orgasmic heights, and every time those ‘Woo’s sound, chills harness themselves around my spine, and give me a mini-seizure. Enjoy!
Heads of Charm-Spain on A Roll/Check Check Check
And for those who weren’t drained of all energy in that previous track from Lurch & Chief, well here’s one that’ll send shocks of Pikachu-levels of energy down your entire body, smouldering you to a small pile of ash. Heads of Charm are like a mini-supergroup, that harness over-the-top propulsion with math-rock precison. You think you’ve heard good diversity between the louds and quiets of a song? Fuck off, you haven’t heard shit til your brain has been pulverised by “Spain on a Roll’. If you liked At the Drive-In, but always wanted them to re-locate to Melbourne, well here’s your chance.
Morning Harvey-Girl Euphoria
And now, since your mental, physical and, dare I say it, sexual state should be confined to utter exhaustion, there’s a new one from Morning Harvey to lull you into a sense of security. ‘Girl Euphoria’ could’ve been a B-side from The Stone Roses second record, and it’s obvious that Morning Harvey are disciples of the 90′s British movement. Those slides of psychedelica, those sharp melodies…Morning Harvey are well on their way to Britpop fame, despite the fact that movement kind of ended fifteen years ago. Regardless, Morning Harvey can write a damn good single, and if they can continue that, maybe they can revitalise the genre. God knows Blur and the Gallaghers are having trouble doing that.
Odyssey-Future Space Dead Sound
OK, so when you’ve got an album title that sounds like it combines the graphic, spine-ripping gore of Mortal Kombat with a Chemical Brothers song, then you’ve got me (and everyone else who’s hypothetically into good music) hooked.
Odyssey is the project from Velociraptor/Tiger Beams member Jesse Hawkins. And because Brisbane is such an incestual scene, he got some of his buddies to contribute as well. There’s Shane Parsons from DZ Deathrays, Julien James from Tiny Migrants, and even old mate Kylie Minoque makes an appearance. Whether Kylie’s appearance, or indeed, any of the guest spots, were solicited, is completely up for debate.
Regardless, Odyssey are in the business of creating insane, loopy, thumping post-punk rooted electronic music, which is more of a pretentious mouthful than even I thought I was capable of. Start with ‘ODYSS’, and then make your way through the rest of the album with the fumbling, blind enthusiasm of every woman ever in the presence of Ryan Gosling.