Video: Wild Honey – Eye to Eye

In the most depressingly cute claymation since “Mary & Max” comes Wild Honey’s “Eye to Eye”. Basically, there’s a couple and they’re in love and…HOLY FUCK, DID AN ALIEN JUST BURST OUT OF HER HEAD!?

Although you wouldn’t reckon it, Wild Honey’s hushed rock goes well with a clip that features children dying, voyeurism and a spaceship exploding into a thousand pieces of tissue debris. The Sydney band do well at pairing cute characters with their compact psych-pop tones that rekindle the best of Shining Bird, Real Estate and Kurt Vile.

Gig Review: Volumes Festival 2015

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Saturday, August 29th @ Brighton Up Bar, Oxford Art Factory, Cliff Dive

It’s rare to walk into a venue at 3 o’clock in the arvo and see anything more than a few winos having a quiet beer. Maybe a couple of #ridiculouslydressed folks on a pub crawl for someone’s birthday. There’s certainly no expectation of seeing a packed house of clamouring music fans singing along to an album that hasn’t even been released yet. But, in the first incarnation of what’s sure to be a celebrated annual occurrence, VOLUMES Festival brought Sydney’s music fans out of their share houses and into venues, catering a fantastically eclectic showcase of Australian music.

VOLUMES Festival sure seemed like a gamble – for a local nerd like myself, the lineup was a wet dream. Relatively speaking, it was like a Star Wars geek getting to have lunch with a pre-sequels Lucas at Skywalker Ranch. Just viewing the bands playing, delight was being compressed into my brain at an unhealthy rate. The lineup was stocked with incredible acts, from the bigger names Jack Ladder & the Dreamlanders and Blank Realm, to sturdy up and comers such as FLOWERTRUCK, Low Lux and Gold Class. However, statistically speaking, these aren’t your typical headlining bands. In anticipated excitement over the festival, I would sputter and slobber about all these awesome names and would often be greeted with blank, occasionally hostile, stares. “Oi, can you fucking not spit in my face…and I don’t know who the fucking Laurels are, mate!” was a common response. It felt like this beautiful new thing that was taking over three of the most celebrated venues in Sydney – Oxford Art Factory, Cliff Dive and Brighton Up Bar – could be attended solely by music nerds with nothing better to do with their time (read: this ginger piece of shit with a keyboard).

Come 3pm, and bands that don’t even have full records out are busting out their jams to enthralled audiences. Big White serenaded with their off-kilter guitar pop, Death Bells shot daggers with their dark, infiltrating gaze of post-punk inflected dream pop, and The Pinheads engaged in all-out debauchery. Three bands in, and the senses have been driven into overdrive, particularly by The Pinheads, who make it their mission to risk their lives for the sake of our entertainment. Draped in thrift shop rock star outfits, shimmering with a Straight-Outta-Spotlight glamour, The Pinheads brand of overwhelming rock ‘n’ roll continually invades the audience and challenges the status quo of standing with your arms folded *nodding in solemn appreciation*. Bertolt Brecht would be proud.

It’s been said before, by folks much more eloquent/intelligible/handsome than myself, but FLOWERTRUCK are fucking sick, hey. Go-Betweens/Triffids meets Talking Heads with a dash of Factory Records pop aesthetic. Winner winner, chicken dinner. Although they’re usually a first-song-in-capture-the-whole-crowd group, the sound in the Gallery Bar seemed to irk the set towards the beginning – however, FLOWERTRUCK still commanded their half hour with the most impressive pop to come out of Sydney in a long time. Don’t get us wrong – the crowd was grooving hard, especially when cynic-evaporators “I Wanna Be With You” and “Sunshower” upended naysayers right in the pleasure gland. As their time stretched thin, the dance floor grew more heated, and sweat poured. This band is essential – don’t miss them next week, when they play the Junkyard-curated leg of King Street Crawl at the Botany View Hotel.

Holy Balm made a rare appearance, and quickly reminded why they’re one of Sydney’s favourites. They are a truly un-pigeonhole-able group, a threesome who’s influences stretch far, unveiling a sound that is equally at home in a nightclub as it is in the bedroom of a lonely soul. In the intimate Cliff Dive, Holy Balm quietly shone with dance music that’s unrivalled, beautifully delivered monologues bubbling over the top of incredible live production – whenever Holy Balm decide to next grace a stage, ensure that you are front and centre. Switch over to World Champion in the OAF main stage, where a very different kind of noise is being produced. BritPop sheen collides with skilful production, and bolstered by vivid visuals, the lean team of Julian Sudek and Will Campion make for a bustling performance reminiscent of Jagwar Ma’s live shows.

ONWARDS! A cinematic double-team of Shining Bird and Jack Ladder. Although both faced technical problems, the South Coast and Blue Mountains ensembles triumphed in their own way. Shining Bird are impossible to tear away from, and once they float into their groove of slow-burning psych pop hauled from a conk shell in Thirroul, there’s no backing away from the gems of the South Coast. Much like interrupting a sleepwalker, it’s better to just look on in bewilderment at the dream-cloaked happenings that city slickers would never be capable of pulling off. Meanwhile, Jack Ladder and co. simply pushed through the difficulty with brute force. Typically dressed to impress, Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders played admirably, but hardly at their most memorable. Whereas previous performances have left attendees in complete awe, sound issues plagued early portions, and the band didn’t seem to throw themselves in as much as they have previously. There isn’t much too complain about – any chance to witness “Cold Feet” and “Hurtsville” is always a pleasure that should be experienced by everyone, but tonight felt slightly crooked.

Segue into Brighton Up Bar, and the room is fixated on Melbourne’s Gold Class and their urgent post-punk. It’s a paradox, hearing such a confessional and committed singer, running around the stage, wrapped in his microphone, strapped to snarling, drenched music. It’s bleak stuff curdling upon sharp and searing punches of music that unwraps spectacularly. Seeing them made for a satisfying prequel to their debut album, which drops soon.

Unsurprisingly, Blank Realm were the highlight of VOLUMES. This band is easily the greatest band in Australia, firmly tied with Royal Headache. Do whatever is in your possible power to see this band, or buy their record…fuck it, do both. Their music is incredible, and just keep getting better. The festival provided an opportunity for Blank Realm to unleash a few songs from their upcoming masterpiece “Illegals in Heaven“. Not only is this album perfect in recorded form, but live, it does to the heart what a volcanic explosion would do to butter. “River of Longing”, “Palace of Love”, “No Views” – these are some goddamn hits! Sprinkle these amongst some bonafide classics from the Brisbanites back catalogue, you’ve got the best thing that’s happened to Oxford Street since the first Mardis Gras. How Blank Realm haven’t been scooped up by a multi-national corporation to be the face of contemporary music, showered in unruly decadence and a royal declaration of excellence, is beyond me. Maybe it’s because the subject matter is Schindler’s List-crossed-with-Lassie levels of heartbreak…but cut with the band’s wonky serving of pop and the group’s irrepressible live show ensure that anyone in hearing distance is cutting shapes and sweating harder than a 17 year old at their first Stereosonic. Seriously, Sarah Spencer is the coolest person in live music – her keytar moves are more inspiring than hearing Nelson Mandela and Ghandi swap stories. I’ll say it again – DO WHATEVER IT IS NECESSARY TO WITNESS THIS BAND! IT IS ESSENTIAL TO YOUR SURVIVAL AS A HUMAN BEING! YOU WILL BE BETTER OFF FOR IT! BLANK REALM ARE THE MCDONALDS SALADS OF BANDS – SURROUNDED BY FAKE BILE, THEY ARE GOOD AND GOOD FOR YOU! :)

Concluding the night are a couple of rock “elder” statesmen – Wollongong’s finest shredders Step-Panther and Sydney’s The Laurels. The former are criminally underrated, a South Coast three piece who drenched an adoring audience in fits of fuzz, and sporadic solos that should have splintered the fingers of frontman Steve Bourke. Although some wankstain, twat-faced ginger who probably runs a blog decided to ruin their otherwise spot on rendition of King Tuff’s “Headbanger”, the set was otherwise an encapsulation of everything there is to love about Step-Panther: unstoppable garage rock paired with a heads-down, lets-fucking-rock performance. It was enough to warrant abundant crowd surfing, which at Brighton Up Bar is a cock tease to Death, considering the giant hole in the middle of the room. People are actually willing to plunge to their execution at a Step-Panther show, what have you done lately? The Laurels finished the VOLUMES marathon with a tight set drawing from tracks off their legendary psych rock debut ‘Plains’, as well as material from their upcoming record. Paired with throbbing visuals, The Laurels went into shred territory, running the gauntlet of rock from the squealing charge of “Changing the Timeline” to the hypnotic “Tidal Wave”, and new jam “Zodiac K”.

It really can’t be overstated how important a festival like VOLUMES is – in the void of the incredible Sound Summit, it is instrumental that there is a festival that showcases everything there is to love about Sydney and Australian music. The lineup was extraordinarily well put together by music lovers for music lovers, covering far more bases than this review was capable of representing; for example, the electronic masterminds of friendships, Null and Lower Spectrum went unseen, as did the brutal Zeahorse. But the fact that it catered to more than just a guitar loving Aus music nerd, and managed to consistently serve up some of Sydney’s favourite rooms with punters itching to dance is proof that, even though it occasionally might not seem like it, people do care about Australian music. And why shouldn’t they – when the bands that played brought such great performances it’s hard not to pat Aussie music on the back, grin and say…fuck, we’re pretty alright.

New Aus Punk: Destiny 3000 + Cereal Killer + Woollen Kits + Nailhouse

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Destiny 3000 – Destiny 3000 7″

This record has been on the burner since the second best Fast and Furious movie was released (Furious 6, for those keeping score at home). Destiny 3000 haven’t played all that many shows either in recent history, which is a shame, because they will make your ears bleed and your heart swoon. But putting all of that aside, they have finally released a record, and it is worth all the droning Vin Diesel monologues about family in the world.

This 7″ is just so fantastic in every aspect. Coated in grime, guitars battling for supremacy, and an overall disaffected garage pop aesthetic that puts Destiny 3000 next to Australia’s premiere shredders like Angie, Miss Destiny, and The Friendsters. Although only four songs long, and attached with a mild uncertainty as to if Destiny 3000 will stick around to record anything more (knock on wood), this 7″ will, at the very least, form some sort of legacy for a deserving band.

Cereal Killer – Track 1

Barely nudging past one minute, Cereal Killer put a whole lot of other punk bands to shame in a deft swoop of snotty, thumb-biting vocals and flailing guitars. It’s dine and dash punk, a flurry of distraction action that gets you all exhilarated…”What’s happening?”, “This is great!”, “I hope this song goes on forever!”…before finishing in the same amount of time as a the life cycle of a mayfly with a heroin problem.

Woollen Kits – Girl With Heart 7″

Not really a punk band, but you’re too far through the “article” (and I do mean that in the loosest definition possible) to stop now. C’mon, I believe in you. Besides, you’ll like Woollen Kits, I guarantee it. They’re easily the most underrated band in their genre of strummed guitar pop…how the fuck can a band release two perfect albums and still not be gracing the cover of the New Musical Express with fancy haircuts and a hyperbolic headline*? How are Woollen Kits not best mates with Johnny Depp?

The time will come when Woollen Kits are rubbing shoulders with Hollywood’s sharpest dressed, and botox treatments are referred to as “Lazy Tuesdays with Alan Rickman”. Until then, feel free to crash into some more-of-the-blessed-same pop via the brief but welcome Girl With Heart 7″.

*The irony of me calling out someone on irony is registered.

Nailhouse – Nailhouse

Straight outta Newcastle is some punk of the demonic variety. Nailhouse share a lot in common with FANG and Flipper, preferring to indulge in feedback-laden drones of nihilism than any sort of accessibility scheme. Built from steely glares and throat-crunching cries, Nailhouse climb on top of their own precarious lodgings of noise, only to fling themselves off. It’s music that could only come from a forgotten town like Newcastle, where the cultural cringe is worn on the sleeve. Frayed and loaded with loathing, Nailhouse’s “March” stands out strongly as a despairing track on a despairing tape from a despairing band in a pretty alright city.

New: World Champion – Avocado Galaxy

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World Champion have been fluttering around Sydney for a fair while, popping up for support slots here and there, essentially playing the prairie dog role. However, they haven’t yet released a track, choosing instead to let the minions of their live show be sole owners of the World Champion experience (c).

Well here’s a big old fuck you to the culturally elite tastemakers of Shitney, because World Champion just dropped their debut track for THE WORLD to see. No longer may you lord over the plebs of our fair city with the constant musing of “Oh man, World Champion were soon good last night….Oh, you STILL haven’t seen them?” *Cue furious collar pulling*.

If anything, the release of “Avocado Galaxy” is enough to make those in the ‘unseen’ category all the more jealous. Look past the ridiculous title, and sponge in the flared electro pop that puts World Champion up against the likes of Jagwar Ma and Scenic. Not bad company for ya first single!

New: NO ZU – Ui Yia Uia

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If ever presented with the opportunity to catch Melbourne’s NO ZU, seize that shit. Carpe fucking diem, mate. It’s the most fun you can have with your pants on. Or off, whatever, some venues are stricter than others. The point is, if delirious unpredictability sounds like your sorta thing, you’ve got to catch this band. A babbling stream of synths, backup dancers and whistles (oh god, the whistles), NO ZU are insane.

They’ve done an admirable job of converting that to record as well. Fresh from their contribution to Cut Copy’s ‘Oceans Apart’ compilation, NO ZU have signed on with Chapter Music, and released “Ui Yia Uia”. It starts big, and just grows from there, an enormous blob of moist sound that somehow converts itself into a finale of triumphant trumpets, helium-coated chants and goopy bass. It’s cough syrup for the ears, in that it’ll get you drunker than you’ve ever felt in your life

Album Review: Ouch My Face! – Bunyip

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16 years old. Feeling fresh, feeling fine. Got the whole world at my feet. The biggest problems my kind face are detentions, Maccas food poisoning and the two second slumps of depression associated with getting inevitably dumped after two weeks. It makes sense then that when cruising around Triple J Unearthed, the acts I was drawn to were ones loaded with angst, pushed by the same angry exuberance that I felt. Chicks Who Love Guns, Zeahorse, Sweet Teeth – man, what a treat! Oh, and of course, Ouch My  Face’s “Knockouts“; didn’t that cop an absolute thrashing! That ungodly bass riff, combined with the spunk of front woman Celeste Potter and wiry wall of guitar made me fall head over heels. I was smitten.

But then, Ouch My Face sort of disappeared. Other bands popped up, and I became as distracted as an acid freak at a Colour Run. Occasionally, that snarl would rear up in iTunes, and the thought of “Fuck, what happened to that band” popped into my head….but that’s about as far as it went. Until approximately a month ago, when they dropped this album on Courtney Barnett and Jen Cloher’s label Milk! Records.

The same zeal and flair is there, the exact same deranged desire to mash the riot girl of Bikini Kill and Babes in Toyland with the over the top rock rush of Jane’s Addiction or Queens of the Stone Age. The bass lines are still buzzsaws ready to tear you limb from limb, the guitars are still made from that taught wire that assassins use to decapitate victims, and Potter still sounds badass. None of that has been lost even remotely over the past five years…if anything the band’s senses are heightened to predatory levels of instinct.

What has changed are the smarts surrounding the songs – there’s far more on ‘Bunyip’ there feels like there are few more unique things to sink your gums into, as opposed to a collection of rock songs. Beginning with “Creep Heart”, the heart monitor-propelled ode to stalking, Ouch My Face also go for a great Future of the Left impression on “Rejection”, and some thrashing grunge courtesy of “Pointy Horns”. Then there’s the playfully evil gleam “Do The Wrong Thing”, which is essentially a theme song for Chucky the Evil Doll. These are just a couple examples of the fierce fun available on ‘Bunyip’.

This album is full of short, sharp and utterly badass tunes. Close your eyes, pick a track, and press play, and there’s a guarantee that something with all the nuclear nature of a Cold War film plot device will be revealed. ‘Bunyip’ is rock, played tight and with gnashing intensity, a Tasmanian Devil of churning instrumentation. But best of all, it retains the goal of making music that will set a live show alight. Ouch My Face may have taken a while to get their debut album out, but they’ve never faded from existence, and they certainly haven’t forgotten how to have fun on an album.

You can grab ‘Bunyip’ from Ouch My Face’s Bandcamp here.

Album Review: MAKING – HIGHLIFE

CoverWhere were you a year ago? I’ll tell you where I was – knee deep in rejection, working an unpaid internship, and having nervous breakdowns in the best nightclubs that Kings Cross had to offer. “HOLY SHIT!”, I would scream internally, “HOW THE FUCK IS ANYBODY SUPPOSED TO LIKE THIS”, splashing a $17 craft beer down my hot pink shirt that myself and all the boyz were wearing. Salmon flavoured colour co-ordination is the name of the fucking game, amirite? How else are you supposed to let everyone know that you’re a fuckwit?

That might sound awful, but it was nowhere near as bad as what MAKING were going through. Picture this: you’ve been around for bloody yonks. You’ve released an EP, a single, and everything’s looking great. Every weekend is spent with your buds at Blackwire Records, netted between those signature bear claws, slaying the very concept of rock like you’re Braveheart, and other bands are the English. You’ve headed to your mate’s studio (word is he’s going to be doing some work with Miley Cyrus) and there’s a label that wants to put out your record. Your debut album! On vinyl! That’s the dream! Everything’s coming up Milhouse!

You sit there, waiting and waiting. Man, it’s been a while, hey – when are those records getting delivered? It’s getting kinda late, but you don’t want to take a nap, in case you miss the delivery man. You call your guy….no answer. That’s weird? You’re sitting there, and panic sets in. What’s happening? Where is your record? What the fuck? All that hard work, all that effort…for nothing. When tossing up between being an absolute slice of shit in the Cross and seeing your life’s work disappear, I’ll be too busy slipping into the grossest shirt I can find and planning the route of my hektik  night through Sydney’s drainage system to give an answer.

Thankfully, Melbourne’s TRAIT Records saw logic, and the travesty of having this album un-released. Now, MAKING’s debut is here in all it’s glory. I say glory, because that’s what it is. There isn’t a whole lot out there like this album. Not much anyway. Think of the unconventional pacing of At The Drive-In clashing with the tumultuous noise of Lightning Bolt and unnerving aggression of Shellac. Throw in some casual influence that comes from witnessing/performing amongst the incredible scene that exists in Sydney, from Tanned Christ to Yes, I’m Leaving, to Totally Unicorn, and you get MAKING.

There are so many aspects of ‘HIGHLIFE’ to admire. The drums, for example –  you’re slammed from every angle like the villains of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”, completely swarmed by pecking cymbals and clanging feathers. But the guitars! They are so wrung out, melodies switching and interchanging with equal nuance and menace, wringing your neck at one moment, and gently swallowing you in the next.DON’T FORGET THE BASS! The rhythm section pokes and prods surgically, manoeuvring each track here with the deadly precision of the doctor from The Human Centipede.

By far the best aspect of MAKING’s work is their calm before the storm approach. However, the difference between the cliche and the terror that MAKING exhibit is that there is always that expectation that the band will soon engage in a full-blown head crushing saga. The overall atmosphere is like being in the middle of a pool of sharks, bleeding and alone. The terror isn’t your immediate threat, but rather the waiting, that prolonged sense of doom. It’s like if that movie “Open Water” was made with a band that made one of the most interesting heavy albums of 2015 instead of a Great White. Although most deafeningly showcased on “Come To Me”, the effect is witnessed throughout the record, whether on a smaller scale with the pulsing long-distance ooze of “Amazon”, or “Dream Job”, in which shrill brutality is deployed for solely destructive purposes, an Agent Orange level of suffocating musical gas choking out the listener.

MAKING’s journey for the release of this album was a long one. Very long. But shit, don’t you reckon it was worth it? Not only does a salmon-shirt-wearing, deplorable piece of shit like me get to listen to this record, but so can everyone else. Miracles happen you guys, miracles happen. Immersive, impressive and forever brutal, MAKING’s ‘HIGHLIFE’ has scared the fucking shit out of me, and I couldn’t be happier.

‘HIGHLIFE’ will be out September 4th, on TRAIT Records. Pre-order here. They’re playing Blackwire for the album launch: September 11th with Marcus Whale, Mere Women and BV (put it together, ya numbskull)

New Electronic: Anatole + LUCIONBLOMKAMP + Planéte + Tuff Sherm/Patch Free

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Anatole – Away (feat. Tash Parker)  It’s been a cruise drip of releases from Sydney’s Anatole. Gentle, bright touches, all nuzzling towards this gorgeous new track. “Away” is a jam for prom night, the type in the movies starring Kirsten Dunst, … Continue reading

New: Dribble – Lovers 7″

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Dribble have been around since Jesus was slapping five with the dinosaurs. But this is their first 7″, after a few cassettes released fucking ages ago. Three songs. That’s all we get. If I could pull off the Clay Davis “Shiiiieeet”, I would. But when it comes to Dribble, three songs is enough to tide the rising rioting inhibitions. The people demand more material, more STUFF…but this 7″ will do, because it is a godsend nonetheless. .

The “Lovers” EP is like a concept record, except it doesn’t suck. They are love songs for the fucked up, the first two being caricatures of  the genre, deliriously snarling pop music (Madonna if she owned The Saints’ “(I’m) Stranded” 7″). The final  track – a 180 degree turn on the theme, with daggers of self-loathing pointed inwards. This EP is for the lovers – but more of the Thelma & Louise/Romeo & Juliet/Sid & Nancy variety.

Beginning with the best punk single ever, “Girl Of My Dreams” is like if Razar’s snot and fierce ugliness collided with the stomping sleaze of The Birthday Party and Lubricated Goat. This song isn’t played so much as thrown at the listener, a brutal punch of lust, tetanus-coated guitars plunging into squall delivered at Millennium Falcon speeds. This is the only punk song that you will ever need, ever.

However, if you grow curious, you’re just a regular old curious cat, then flip the record and engage with some Pandora’s Box activity – five minutes of all the evils in the world will come flying right out at ya. “High St Girl” pulses with lip-chewing anxiety, a Travis Bickle-esque pining set the acidic punk. “Cowboy” finishes the most thrilling eight minutes of your life with a song streaked with bile, a car wreck of a track that blazes down a highway, before a tree jumps up in the road, and all that’s left is flaming wreckage…a cowboy in the Mad Max sense of the word, rather than the John Wayne definition.

Dribble are anti-heroes who have made the most dissonant collection of punk music in a long time. This EP is just pure malice, impossible noise that plays with desperation and predator instinct equally. 10 out of fucking 10.

Buy it here, buy it here, buy it here.

New: Big Dingo – Outback Golf

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Big Dingo emerged in 2014, played a handful of gigs, put out a tape, and then promptly broke up. Which sucks, because “Parramatta Man” is a stone-cold classic. But just like their (assumed) team, the Eels, you can throw all the shit you like at them…they’re gonna come back out onto the field and take out three Premierships in a row. Starting from now, there’s going to be three years of Grand Final Winning albums from Big Dingo, followed by thirty years of brutal losses. Hey, life ain’t a fairytale. Enjoy the glory while it lasts.

“Outback Golf” is the first take from the upcoming debut from Big Dingo – it’s got a brighter pop direction than their previous EP. Bubbling guitars dribble next to tocking percussion, whilst Charles Buddy Daaboul reminisces in that thoroughly Australian way of his – name checking meat pies and wombat poo within a few sentences of each other.

Catch the singlet-clad trio tomorrow night – they’re playing a free show at The Newtown Social Club, with The Cathys and Abigail and Daisy! They’ll also be launching “Outback Golf”, with Solid Effort in support, at The Vic on September 4th. Get along to at least 1 (one) of these shows!