New: The Living Eyes – High Standards

Geelong aka Rock n Roll City, has bred all sorts of legendary acts, but one of the finer cases is The Living Eyes. Following on from their 2013 debut LP, The Living Eyes have returned with a single that announces a new album, ‘Living Large’.

Announce isn’t the right word – they’re style probably aligns closer with obnoxious lambasting, brash and loud to the point where GG Allin might even recoil. “High Standards” certainly raises the bar to extraordinary levels, and if The Living Eyes can keep their energy levels to the manic heights of the average Ren & Stimpy cartoon, then ‘Living Large’ should be one of the rock n roll releases of 2015.

New: Fields – Semaphore

Heaps good stuff here, courtesy of a bloke with his guitar out of Melbourne. Despite being a refreshing respite from typing the words Melbourne and not immediately adding ‘producer’, Fields is pretty gorgeous all the same. Stunning layers of reverb simmer on top of lite vocal melodies –  it’s the equivalent of rolling around on the green of a bowls club on a Sunday afternoon, without the pesky shouts of “Get off the lawn bowls!”, and “Put your pants on!”, and “I’ll count to five before I start shooting!”. And if the worst presents itself, then you’ll know what to chuck on you’re “I Got Shot By The Bowls Club, And I’m Going To Sue These Bastards” playlist.

Album Review: Bat Nouveau – Metamorphoses

There’s this book series called ‘Animorphs’, and although you might not have read any of them, you’ve definitely seen one of the book covers. Basically, it’s an animal turning into a human being, Charles Darwin’s wet dream. Anyway, if these books got a gritty re-boot directed by Christopher Nolan, there’s no way a track from Bat Nouveau’s debut ‘Metamorphoses’ wouldn’t be included in the Official Soundtrack. Alongside stuff from Eagulls, Protomarytr and other modern bands mining their parent’s post-punk collection of records, Bat Nouveau would stride tall with their gyrating songs of sinister sneering, a gnarled cross between Slug Guts and Buzz Kull.

Like all bands that mirror and extend upon a previous historical period, Bat Nouveau pull up particularly alongside Bauhaus. This isn’t a bad thing either – Nite Fields’ latest is a dead ringer for the likes of New Order, and TV Colours’ record is an equivalent of ‘Zen Arcade’. Plying semblance of a sound from an artist you respect can show that you’re not a deadshit, and provides a base for listeners to spring from. As long as it’s not done with too much reliance, and not a carbon-copy, things work out fine. Although not entirely original manoeuvre, it’s preferable for a band to at least show recognition and stability in their early work, rather than hop on some bullshit indie-pop bandwagon, or sound exactly like The Foo Fighters.

So, whilst ‘Metamorphoses’ doesn’t exactly stretch itself into unexpected territory, there is still a gripping sensationalism. Opener “The Cry” is an enormously terrifying goth masterpiece, drooling guitar and drums that bare their fangs with the ferocity of Robert Smith on an angry acid trip. “Hung High” decimates all in it’s way, a Gang of Four song poured down the drain, and into the mouth of a gnashing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fight club. “Death Mask” also injects severe melody –  Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy in a Joy Division cover band that just discovered ‘Henge Beat’ by Total Control. It’s punk as fuck, curb-stomping guitars bludgeoning their way through a black and white monologue of strident yelling. It’s enough to make you want to invent a time machine, and set the clock for Manchester, 1979.

Post-punk is getting to a point right now where it’s seen as “HEAPS COOL, YOU GUYS, VNKOWN PLESVRES 4EVA”. An influx of bands that watched ‘Control’ and happened across a Cure record at General Pants suddenly think they’re this generation’s Ian Curtis. But the style of bat Nouveau is epileptic, one minute blinding, the next, an irrevocable darkness, and it’s hard to turn away from that. Although not a perfect album, the moments of intensity and dooming glare that Bat Nouveau so affectionately slather into their music. It has the conviction of the original shit, just 30 years later. And where there’s passion, there’s some damn fine music following right behind it.

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.