Halloween Playlist

Halloween is tomorrow. Fact (in my regard any way. STRAYA FUCK YEAH). Tomorrow, kids will experience an overhaul of sugar, go absolutely mental, and more or less ransack every single house in the suburb. Parents will cry and wish they had never gotten pregnant in the first place. Slutty girls will wear even sluttier costumes. There are a surprising variety of these. Guys will dress up as…either a pirate or Batman. We’re unimaginative, fuck you, you judgemental fucks. Halloween is for kids anyway. Old people will probably suffer a heart attack or insanity from the incessant doorbell ringing and abuse from 12 year old that don’t want one chocolate bar, but fucking five. Overall, Halloween is a pretty fucked up holiday in which we celebrate ghouls or some shit. I don’t know, I’m pretty sure it’s just an excuse to eat sugar and sluts to be embraced for who they are. So, an equally creepy playlist needs to be created, full of the greatest horrors of the music industry (in a good way). Horror punk, ghoulish garage, and anything that has remotely anything to do with Halloween all make an appearance. Make sure you blast this so no trick or treaters come around and annoy you.

1. Danzig-Long Way Back From Hell

2. The Presets-Ghosts

3. Bloc Party-Skeleton

4. The Prodigy-Voodoo People

5. The Fearless Vampire Killers- For You and Me

6. The Cranberries-Zombie

7. Blitzen Trapper-Black River Killer

8. The Horrors-Sheena is a Parasite

9. Kid Sam-Down to the Cemetery

10. Tokyo Police Club-Frankenstein

11. Wax Witches-I Hate Matilda

12. Misfits-Speak of the Devil

13. Smashing Pumpkins-Zero

14. Radiohead-Subteranean Homesick Alien

15. The Aquabats-Fashion Zombies

16. Wavves-Weed Demon

17. Melvins-The Talking Horse

18. Black Sabbath-Children of the Grave

19. The Kills-Nail in My Coffin

20. Queens of the Stone Age-Burn the Witch

Album Review: The Presets-Pacifica

After the abscence of Australia’s favourite local eccentric, quirky, groovy, possibly romantically entangled duo The Presets, for four long years, they are back and better than ever with possibly one of the greatest releases of 2012. Mixed with their trademark doomsday synth work and trance heavy sounds, The Presets have decided to up it a notch and go for something maybe a little more conservative, with a heavy dose of pop flavour sprinkled throughout the record. Don’t worry, it’s not like they got Ricki-Lee or Jessica Mauboy to guest or anything, but there are undoubtedly some tracks on there that wouldn’t seem out of place in a Top 20. But good on them. Better The Presets than Nicki Minaj, I always say (EDIT: I have never said that, but it’s true)

The album starts with the semi-apocalytpic and foreboding ‘Youth in Trouble’. Simplistic beats warp back and forth, like currents underneath Julian Hamilton’s vocals. The song is pretty deadly, but not immediately so, and keeps you on the edge of your seat for it’s entire six-plus minute time slot. After generating suitable fear, the album slides into the most delicate and well balanced track on the album, current single ‘Ghosts’. Nothing seems to sum up this album more, and it’s heartbreakingly honest, though not obviously. It’s simple, totally tranquil, with jagged ruts of excited instrumentation playing in the background. It’s very mysterious, shrouded in a sense of confident lossness, a proud moment of being an outsider. It’s a quietly beautiful song, strong and bold, and yet at the same time, putting the listener at complete ease.

Unfortunately, the next track is what I would call the album’s only definitive weakness. ‘Promises’ is The Presets attempt to engage the fluffy, shallow pop that seems to infect popular radio these days. When Julian quails “Am I the only one that’s still believing?”, all I can hear is “Please let this crack the charts, or Modular will kill us”. It undoubtedly will, as it does fall into the usual pop drivel, but it doesn’t contain that usual hard edge that The Preset’s usually perfect.

No fear, an enchanting jungle rhythm is soon to follow. ‘Push’ really does push you, forcing you out of whatever position you were in before, relaying darting paranoia and overzealous jealousy. ‘Fall’ is another semi-ridiculous song, but it is more calming and mystical, so those are forgiving elements. Also the synth work on it is captive, like a tumbling waterfall, so that redeeming quality pushes out the negative of it’s ridiculous premise. ‘It’s Cool’ is the following track, and sets itself apart from the production heavy previous songs, instead focusing on being the most lovely song The Presets have ever released, possibly the most winsome song released in recent memory from a dance group. Believe me, there are a fuckload of those bands, so it’s quite an achievement.

After ‘It’s Cool’, The Presets officially find their footing in the album and churn out some very palatable dance tracks, full of perfectly mixed concoctions of bass heavy, scurrying songs that unleash our inner schizophrenic and turn us all into the primitive monsters that we are. Every song is addictive, pushing the limits of what a basic group can do with whatever’s at their disposable, turning drums, vocals and a keyboard into a cascade of shaded, cold songs that infect the brain. The Presets close with ‘Fail Epic’, seemingly ironic given the beautiful nature of the song. This closer chooses to accentuate Julian’s vocals for most of the song, leaving Kim Moyes’ background instrumental work to only poke it’s head and flourish it’s feathers towards the very backend of the track. It’s quite a sparkling song, and a really great closer.

Overall, albeit the duck into the void of pop-centric tunes that will undoubtedly rage in the charts, the album is really great microcosm of the feelings of alienation, isolation and personal grief we can feel in this modern, fast-moving world that we live in. Hopefully all we can do is find a great alternative dance-electronica duo from Australia to listen to to reassure us it’s alright, and bump our heads to as we pass the time and try not to get sucked in.

M83-Steve McQueen

Just when M83 and his addictive, happiness laden track ‘Midnight City’ was beginning to drift out of your conscience, they have come back with a different but equally awesome synth beauty, entitled ‘Steve McQueen’. Unlike the titular character, this song is soft but reaching, and courses its way very efficiently but charismatically. The video is something that Tim Burton would make if he was in a rare happy mood, and had full access to a child’s bedroom. It’s exactly as creepy as it sounds.

Top 10 Local Sydney Acts

Given the current wallowing state of the music industry, what with music piracy, depleting record sales, and a general lack of support from the government and higher ups of society, there has never been a more important time in history to do your part to support your local scene. Unless you have a couple spare grand lying around that you’d be willing to donate, the easiest thing to do is to start spending your hard earned dosh on acts that deserve it and need the exposure, and won’t charge you an outrageous fortune to buy their shit. Some of them even give it away for free. How fucking great is that? Free shit aside, it’s just plain wholesome and patriotic, not to mention lifesaving to the bands, to lend a helping hand and promote local bands in whatever way you can, either by spreading the word of mouth, buying their shit, or going to see one of their shows. These are the best local acts that you should give your left eyeball to see (intentional irony).

10. The Griswolds-The Griswolds are one of the best safe bands you’ll ever hear. Don’t take the word safe as a bad thing either. There are millions upon millions of safe bands out there that play music suited to a broad audience. If The Griswolds can accomplish being one of the finest in the bunch, then good for them. Their recent release of ‘Heart of a Lion EP’ shows even more colour and fervour than I thought possible for any capable. Soft and heartwarming indie rock love songs are The Griswolds forte, and they smash it out of the park.

9. Sures– The very band name of Sures seems to encapsulate that we don’t really give a shit how we go attitude, as Sures is the most shrug and grunt name I’ve ever heard of. They play incredibly laid back surf rock, stuff that you’d play as you’re getting the beach recliner into the perfect position. Every song is layered in a starched, windswept cosiness, as if the band are singing just to you.

8. Glass Towers– If you’re a fan of Ireland’s biggest musical export of the moment Two Door Cinema Club, then you’ll adore Sydney’s Glass Towers. Delicately intricate songs that play on the tips of their toes, Glass Towers prefer to minimalise their sound than go for explosiveness. For this effect, the songs seem to dance in a happy flourish of twirling sounds that spin around the listener. Incredibly soft indie rock that is executed with perfection and dedication.

7. Richard In Your Mind– It’s hard to point your finger on just what kind of band Richard In Your Mind are. At first they seem like a pop band, then they take a weird rift of psychedelic, possible leanings into the space rock genre and all of a sudden they’re indie and then right back to pop. It’s a strange journey listening to a Richard In Your Mind record, but one that you will undoubtedly enjoy. Just prepare yourself for a pastiche of instrumental strangeness and a constant change of pace.

6. Cloud Control– If Cloud Control could be personified, they’d be a cross between hipster and hippie. Think a flower headband and tie dye clothes mixed with suspenders and an ironic moustache. It’s hard combination to pull off, but they have it in the bag. Waify tunes that float on a wind of instrumental excellence, supported by a delicacy of vocal delight and lyrics that really sing to your childish playful side.

5. Rufus– Rufus are a tumbling culmination of the next generation of electronica music mixed with a healthy dose of sepia toned retro. Slow buildups interjected with dreamy, untroubled vocal abilities that have the skill to soar and drop within a few bars notice. Rufus could not be a more perfect band to just let all your worries float away to, as the synths create all sorts of spiritual harmonies never created before.

4. Chicks Who Love Guns– These guys are just a straight up bombastic satanic ritual of goodness. To listen to them without standing up and thrashing is sacrilege and you are actually asking to be struck down by God. Slack, dirty, covered in layer upon layer of mud and all summed up in a single sneer, Chicks Who Love Guns hate everyone and everything, including themselves, and the only way to convey that is by playing the most brutal form of garage rock available to the mortal soul.

3. Bearhug– The most sleep inducing band to come out of Sydney in forever. Bearhug play a hefty mixture of Guided by Voices inspired tracks, with sprinkles of Dinosaur Jr. thrown in. They truly belong in the 90’s lo-fi scene, but fortunately for us Sydney siders, they have to do with playing their songs to us. I really hope this band gets the recognition they deserve, as they could not be a more lovely band to listen to, wrapped in multiple textures varying all over the musical spectrum.

2. Step-Panther– These guys are the most relaxed band playing fast music you’ll ever experience. You get the feeling that they just rock up to a studio, lay down whatever riff they’ve had stuck in their head all day, and then throw down a few lyrics about whatever they care about most at the time, whether it be aliens, girls, weed, girls, partying or girls. It helps they have a killer live show and one of the most addictive and fun songs at the moment ‘No Fun‘.

1. Flume– Flume has been making huge splashes all around the world with the release of debut EP and single for ‘Holdin On’. His meditative dimly drenched songs are soaked in a dreamy atmosphere, dripping with a pleasant wistfulness and a desire to be nothing more than incredibly resonating music. ┬áThe dance tracks are not your normal tub thumpers, they contain depth and understanding, and are simply beautiful, held together with nothing but cobwebs and light synth work. Flume is going on to very big things very soon, having sold out shows recently, and apparently one of the bands to watch on the Laneway bill next year, which is chock full of international superstars like Bat For Lashes and Japandroids.

Gig Review: The Black Keys

Monday 22nd October @ Sydney Entertainment Centre

The air stunk of cheap cigarettes and spilt beer, yet the venue was a dome, so expansive that the people opposite your position looked like ants. The raucous vibes did not match the scenery. A garage band playing a stadium gig? Could it be? How is their sound supposed to even fit in here? Garage bands belong in pubs and basements not arenas. Almost instantaneously, local Sydney heroes Royal Headache graced the stage and proved that misconception wrong. Busting through some of their great under-two-minute songs, they absolutely slaughtered a tight knit set, all but the singer bunching up around the drum kit in a compact and effective unit. The singer was in quite a disparate mood, staggering up and down the stage with unintended swagger, an older guy playing the teenager. He was absorbed in a world of his own, completely oblivious to the less than impressive crowd reaction, only content with pushing out the most energy capable from his voice box. Some of the earlier songs seemed strained, but once they warmed up a bit, the true nature and viciousness of the songs showed themselves. They worked the way through most of the material of their AIR (Australian Independent Record Label)-winning self-titled album, as well as treating the audience to some new material, like the appropriately titled ‘Garbage’. It was a snarling number, taught with venom, and it seemed as though he was picking on some members of the unreactive audience, perhaps to give a snide last impression, or perhaps just to deliver a final, subtle elbow in the ribs to those who were listening. The lyrics were full of punk themes, and the whole legitness factor that seems to carry a lot in the punk scene, and so it seemed a fitting bite to the calves of the audience, to cripple them unwittingly. Although the crowd seemed less than enthusiastic for the majority, there were a few numbers that did incite some action, like ‘Down the Lane’ and ‘Girls’, incidentally two of their more well known songs. Although they didn’t receive maybe quite the warm welcome and embracement of new fans like most bands that open to a sold out show at the Sydney Entertainment Centre hope for, they still put on a hell of a show for anyone that was watching. And any doubts I had to the quality of the sound had been thoroughly diminished.

If anything, the sound quality improved for The Black Keys set. Making their way in a casual manner to their respective positions, Dan Auberach and Patrick Carney were accompanied by two other musicians, the revolving background players who had been part of the band for the better part of the last three albums. The panting anthem ‘Howling For You’ opened proceedings, followed by another ‘Brothers’ triumph ‘Next Girl’. These twin barrels of garage blues was an instant smash hit amongst the crowd, a sea of bodies swinging amongst the revolving light-show, out of key shrieks dancing through the ears. All in all, the band would play 6 of their songs from the ‘Brothers’ album, seen as their breakthrough album into a mainstream audience. But there was plenty of their old idiosyncratic jams in there as well. ‘Thickfreakness’, ‘Strange Times’ and ‘Same Old Thing’ were all transformed into gooey masterpieces on the stage, either with the accompaniment of the other two musicians or just the ‘classic brothers’ duo of Patrick and Dan. It was especially when the band reverted to this two-piece that their songs shone in all their glory, everything taken in a back to basics approach, and disabling my fears that their sound would falter in the huge venue, regardless of the contrast of the size of band to venue ratio.

The set progressed without any real plot though, always maintaing itself on the cusp of greatness, but never quite reaching the full potential. It never got boring, but then again, it never gained a fervent pitch either. It sort of just cruised along, albeit at a fast pace. It probably all came down to the musicians demeanour, which was one of relaxed focus, determined to impress but not wanting to strain themselves too much. They never reached a crescendo until after their first encore piece, the delightful, swaying and crooning ‘Everlasting Light’, throughout which a giant disco ball shimmered an array of purple, gold and white lights all around the room. After this, a galavanting stampede sounded throughout the room with the mind melting ‘I Got Mine’. It was so completely theatrical, in a good way, and was muddy, sluggish and spectacular all in one. As if they wanted to continue this image, a Broadway style ‘The Black Keys’ sign was lowered and flashed throughout the solo and final chorus of the song. A fitting metaphor to describe the night that had been: initially deceiving and ┬ásceptical turned into a flashing bombardment of garage rock mastery that exceeded all expectations.

The Black Keys feat. RZA-The Baddest Man Alive

Yes, this collaboration is true, and it’s just as awesome as it sounds. The Black Keys, blues rock pioneers, and RZA, one of the guys from Wu-Tang Clan (Yes, THE Wu-Tang Clan) have come together for a track, and it’s just as brilliant as the artists involved would suggest. There’s definitely a majority of Black Keys influence, what with the strong riff based approach, but that doesn’t stop RZA from adding his 5 cents worth, adding in an absolutely killer verse that adds a certain grittiness to the track. It’s a great combination of gangster overtones with Southern Rock heart and it pulls off really well. The video is damn hilarious as well. Watching one of the the guys who invented rap rip the arm off a small Asian guy while a Black Keys member watches on in horror is funny in any language.

Top 10 Black Keys

Hold your jealousy, ladies and gentleman. Tomorrow evening, my best mate and I are attending what is looking to be one of the greatest events of the year: The Black Keys, live at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, featuring local garage kings Royal Headache. If you don’t know of The Black Keys, I am jealous myself of the upcoming joy and jubilation you will experience as you begin to learn of the brilliance of The Black Keys. Started up in 2001 in Ohio, The Black Keys have released 7 albums in their relatively short career. Although they have a staggering amount of material, The Black Keys never really hit the mainstream until their 2010 album ‘Brothers’ exploded, helped along healthily by their single ‘Tighten Up’, and the collection of 3 Grammy’s. They cemented their place as chart stars with their 2011 release ‘El Camino’, and the chart topper ‘Lonely Boy’. However, if you want to hear the real Black Keys, the band consisting of Patrick Carney and Dan Auberach, the blues rock band that re-invented the sound, then you might have to look back a bit further in their discography. Sure, ‘El Camino’ is a great album, and ‘Brothers’ is fantastic, but if you look at the early days, your mind might just buckle under the pressure of awesomeness.

10. So He Won’t Break (Attack & Release)- An absolutely gorgeous song, in the most endearing way of that word. Dan howls in absolute shrieking heartbreak, and the staccato drum pounds are necessary shocks to the system so you aren’t sucked up into the syrupy harmony. It is a blissful ballad of epicly sad proportions.

9. When The Lights Go Out (Rubber Factory)- Bluesy as fuck, just solid riffing bouncing around the inner walls of your head. Flavours of flair and uptempo shots of adrenaline pump throughout the vocal, and the guitar absolutely blasts in triumphant bursts. The song sounds really redneck, as though being sung through the middle of a harmonica, but it nonetheless captures a whole lot of energy.

8. 10AM Automatic (Rubber Factory)- A simply smooth, dripping jazz infused rock song. It takes a completely new direction from the hardcore riff busting songs beforehand in the album. It’s very loving, very questioning and very poetic, albeit in a more simple way. It’s like the common mans, down to earth alternative to Morissey.

7. Modern Times (Magic Potion)- The song is simply explosive. It opens with a distant wail, then smashes down from the precipice with a cool riff, so cool it should come with it’s own leather jacket and Aviator sunglasses. It’s simply vicious and snarling, like a Pitbull (not the singer). It’s just dark and majestical and makes for a fantastic song simply because of it’s swagger.

6. Midnight In Her Eyes (Thickfreakness)- Delicate but solid finger plucking excellence opens this happy, stroking tune. It continues with reasonable stocky ambitions, gently sweeping past expectations and floating on a breathe of drawn out and elongated notes and crashing cymbals, coupled with considerable warbled out vocals.

5. I Got Mine (Attack & Release)- This song is totally balls to the wall, and carries a magicians hat at all times atop it’s head, always shrouded in a ┬ámysterious myst and confusion. The song could be possessed for all we know, with the fuzzed out guitars and the swiping chord riffs.

4. Set You Free (Thickfreakness)- A classic kind of Black Keys song. It’s stands tall, is pretty simple, basic to a point, and just wallows in itself like a pig in mud. Really well arranged as well, musically, because it chugs, then it pulls back, then it races out front again, and incidentally pulled back. It’s got a real grimacing solo at the end, that really adds that needed extra oomf to make it that bit better.

3. She’s Long Gone (Brothers)- Winding would be the best adjective to describe this song, as it coils and uncoils a dangerous, almost Middle Eastern melody. The chorus is enchanted and whispers a haunting wash over the wistful, howling vocals. It’s a pretty seductive song at heart, and incredibly forward and wicked on the surface.

2. Thickfreakness (Thickfreakness)- As the title track of the album, Thickfreakness perfectly capture all the big elements of structure on this seminal Black Keys album. Opening with a swamp like, stomping riff that grooved and jammed all over a Southern dance floor, mopping up everything in it’s path, we are then welcomed to a very, very bluesy riff and cry from Dan Auberach. It’s very country but also very rock at the same time. I can’t decide whether it should be played in an arena or a barn.

1. I’ll Be Your Man (The Big Come Up)- One of the Black Keys first songs, and their finest, in my opinion. It opens very direct then winds down to a quiet and soft blanket of fuzzed riff based blues. The lyrics are really fantastic, and very pictorial of the love portrayed in the song. It’s probably the most heterosexual song about caring ever written a.k.a it’s very manly, so even the tough guys can love this song. It caters to everyone, and thats why its the best Black Keys song, and it provides a simply awesome side to The Black Keys that they honed for the rest of their careers.

Kid Sam-Down to the Cemetery

Kid Sam are one of Australia’s best kept secrets, and ‘Down to the Cemetery’ is a fine example of their prowess as musicians and songwriters. If Slenderman wanted a groovy soundtrack, then he’d pick this song. It’s got a creepy, childlike tone to it, but a child that knows way too much for their age. High, wispy vocals waif over whitewashed snare drum penetrations, and pot-pan percussion. On top of this is grungey, gnarled guitar blasts, giving a sense of impending doom, like the footsteps of a giant. The video affirms this suspicion that not all is right, because kindergarten kids jumping around and playing to a song about death is straight up fucking weird.

British India-I Can Make You Love Me

Part 2 of the Thursday night Australian indie rock videos. Damn, that’s specific. Anyway, this is the lead single of British India’s new album, and by god have they matured. Instead of screaming into a mic with all that gusto that they used to, they’ve bundled that energy up, stretched it out, complicated it and then smashed it out of the ball park. The song chugs into the two minute mark before making a scene, but when it does, it is a completely genuine cry for help. The video has a similar effect, the storyline revolving around a hopeless minotaur, half man, half bull, lost in his world of oblivion. Although not British India’s finest work, it is a positive sign of things to come.

New Gods-On Your Side

The debut video from the debut EP of the brand new band New Gods, made from a mixed bag of Australian talent like Little Red and Eagle and the Worm, is finally here. It contains the cynical side of indie rock, and it could be a more straightforward musical direction of Wolf Parade if I didn’t know better. It also contains that formula of straight to the point that seems to be bristling in the Australian indie rock scene at the moment. Very strong start for this band. The video is also expertly directed. It reminds me of the jerky, dark nature of some of Tim Burton’s animations like Nightmare on Elm Street, however it has that Australian tint because of it’s picturesque, trivial settings.