Album Review: The Horrors-Primary Colours

Britain is a small, isolated isle, stuck between France/Mainland Europe and the Atlantic Ocean. And the place is swarming with talent. This was the place where punk was born, where post-punk spewed forth. Glam rock originated here. Heavy Metal can be traced back to Britain. Rave music and Big Beat can thank Britain for giving it it’s start. Same goes for Trip-Hop. Indie Rock would never be the same without the artists from Britain making up the bulk of indie rock’s catalogue. Not to mention pop (…fucking Spice Girls…). The place has manicured superstars of the music world since music was a thing. Britain is the birthplace of legends and world dominators such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Radiohead, The Prodigy, Portishead, New Order, Blur, Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, The Stone Roses, The Cure, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, David fucking Bowie! Now, you can add The Horrors to that list.

Admittedly, The Horrors have been out for quite a while. Seven years to be precise. All seven of these years have been focused on one thing: creating mind blowing haunting and beautiful melancholy music that can still rock you like an earthquake (if you thought I was going to say hurricane….no words). Their second offering of possessing post-punk, ‘Primary Colours’ (released in 2009), is unmatchable in it’s execution and style. It’s a more mature and straight faced record than their excellent debut, ‘Strange House’, but it’s not as conceited as their third album, ‘Skying’, which is also amazing. Instead, The Horrors strike the perfect balance between sappy, The Cure-ish lyrics (circa ‘Three Imaginary Boys’) and ghostly and abrasive baroque and burlesque rock, in lieu of The Dresden Dolls. But wait! There’s more! There’s an overall slippery shining, shoegaze quality to their music, and easy going vocal delivery on the part of lead singer Faris Badwan, that is reminiscent of Morrissey’s work with The Smiths. Then there’s the tightness of sound, the tension that arises between the rhythm section that feels like it could snap at any moment, and slackens off only at the highest point of deliberation, similar to the acts Mudhoney and The Cramps. There’s a careless, snotty punk vibe, like The Clash, but now there’s also a gloomy, elderly, gothic overtone like the bands Killing Joke, Echo and the Bunnymen and Sisters of Mercy. And right at the bottom of the barrel, buried so only very few can find it, is the influence of lesser Brit-pop, from bands like Suede and The Libertines, the bands that no doubt inspired the younger Horrors to first pick up instruments.

With all the amalgamation of inspiration and mix of sounds, you might be led to believe that the record is just a mess. Instead, the album stays true to it’s post-punk roots, only letting the garage rock and goth efficiencies shine when it seems appropriate. For example, the near finisher ‘Primary Colours’ is an almost, almost bouncy song that jumps with playful delight only brought crashing to reality by the somber tone of Badwan. The song scrunches it’s forehead and jiggles it’s head, but it can’t shake that nagging feeling that hangs over the record. The nagging feeling of being alone forever, being discussed by other people behind your back, the paranoia of love, the absurdness of life. ‘Primary Colours’ is an introspective record as well as a rioting one, one that knows when to ponder (‘Do You Remember’) and when to, to borrow MC5’s line, ‘kick out the jams’ (‘New Ice Age’, which is just an excuse for The Horrors to bring out as many pedals as possible, and try to use them all within a 4 and a half minute period).

The record is a true sign of a band having found their feet and not being afraid to try new things. It’s certainly a departure from  the ‘Strange House’ method of howling and thrashing in a puddle of drug fueled angst. ‘Primary Colours’ can teach you a thing or two about youth and the simple dreariness of it all, and be your companion on lonely Saturday nights (‘Who Can Say’), or it could be a hidden gem you enjoy in introspective solitude of lustful concentration (‘I Only Think Of You’). Hell, it even delivers on a ditzy, irrelevant toe-tapper, ‘I Can’t Control Myself’. It’s got something for everyone, not just the angsty adolescent. However, the angsty adolescent demographic is probably the group to enjoy it the most, as soon as the finish buying their new Joy Division shirts off E-Bay, and polishing their copy of ‘Disintegration’ by The Cure.

Key Tracks: Who Can Say, Primary Colours

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Dignan Porch-Like It Was

I just included this in the previous post, but it’s so great, I’m putting it up again. It is one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful songs ever created. Honestly, this song could not be more perfect if it tried. It drifts along, carefree, totally absorbed by the girl that is the focus of the song. It cries out for her, but accepts the the good times as they were at the same time. It’s totally shattering, but probably the best break up song to ever exist, ever.

Highly Underground, Super Dooper Top Secret Garage Punk Playlist

There is nothing I like better than discovering a kick ass band that no one else knows. I also really like garage punk music. That is, music that is made on a budget of $2, has the ethics of punk, is recorded through bong smoke and tape recorders and is only hailed by people who love that niche of music. So, let me do all the hard yards for you and introduce you to a whole bunch of awesome punk/garage bands that you shouldn’t know about. Your parents will hate all of them.

1. The Points-Feeling Sorry

2. Obits-Pine On

3. Times New Viking-Fuck Her Tears

4. Hot Snakes-Braintrust

5. The Muslims-Nightlife

6. Tweak Bird-People

7. The Fabergettes-Ding Dong

8. Lurch & Chief-I’ll Meet You On Planet Z

9. No Age-Teen Creeps

10. Dum Dum Girls-Jail La La

11. Black Lips-Elijah

12. Dignan Porch-Like It Was Again

13. Vivian Girls-Where Do You Run To

14. Tiger Beams-Raise the Water

15. Dune Rats-Colour Televison

16. The Foreign Objects-Barstool Blues

17. Them Bruins-Shock Rockets

18. The Men-Open Your Heart

19. Devin-Masochist

20. Fidlar-Wake Bake Skate

Gig Review: Beck

Wednesday, 14th November @ State Theatre

Beck is one of the greatest musicians this planet has seen. Ever. Hands down. This is fact. He melds all sorts of styles and genre until he rightfully owns the title of a musical chameleon. He owns jazz music. He trumps funk. He destroys hip-hop. He bestows a godlike presence on alternative and rock. He is unparalleled in country and acoustic stylings. He just dominates and whatever he tries his hand at. Hell, he can even pull off mariachi music well. He’s the king. So walking into his first (and only) headline gig in Australia in the past 5 years, since 2007. So, it was guaranteed to be good.

The support act was announced as being Dark Horses. Having never heard of any other bands with the name Dark Horses, besides Tex Perkins backing band. So, instead of walking into the State Theatre to be assaulted by a variety of rock n roll howls with balls to the wall country ferocity, I was pleasantly surprised to see instead a woman led band from a place called Seagull City in the UK. Dark Horses certainly earn their name, with a mystical, shadowy presence on stage. Lead Singer, Lisa Elle, was quite an underrate show woman, wearing a cape with the bands name imprinted on it, and moving around the stage in a gypsy pattern, looking totally otherwordly. She really had an excellent voice, and was able to reach amazingly high notes without straining herself, or working too hard. It was the perfect mix of effortlessness and darkness. As for the music itself, well, that was an eclectic mix of minimalistic drums, then crescendo’s, warped chords, and blasting sonic passages. It was a mix of country and gothic, depressing poetry mixed with no bullshit gypsy rock.

When Beck made his way on stage, approximately half an hour after Dark Horses left, my first thought was ‘fuck, this guy is so cool’. My next thought was ‘fuck, he’s old’. Indeed Beck was beginning to show his age. But that didn’t hamper his cool factor. In fact, it might have helped it along, the same way Willi Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Clint Eastwood are still awesome. The clapping subsided. All eyes fixed on Beck. Tension mounted. A few gargled notes spring forth. There is a pause. Then, those unmistakable first bars of Beck’s No. 1 hit ‘Loser‘ rings out, the crowd goes into a frenzy. The curtain drops and a full backing band is presented. The atmosphere is instantly electrifying. The usual civil proceedings of the State Theatre are interrupted by bohemians dancing and jiggling en mass to the ultimate counter-anthem. A song inspired by the slacker generation and borne of the musings whilst in a kitchen.

It seemed quite fitting, as the concert developed into a series of all the hits and favourites of Beck’s career being played in spectacular fashion, that ‘Loser’ would be played first. After all it was his first single, it was the single off his major label debut ‘Mellow Gold’, and it was the first song that introduced the world to the crude and quirky etchings of Beck. It seemed as if the triple entente were delivered that night, with a triple whammy of Beck’s biggest and brightest hits. First, ‘Loser’, then ‘Devil’s Haircut’ and ‘Novocane‘ followed in quick succession, both off the ‘Odelay’ album, the record that propelled Beck into alternative stardom. It’s true to say, that as Beck picked up the microphone, and started rapping his verses to ‘Novocane’ that I was not only unembarrassed by Beck, one of the whitest guys alive, rapping, but I was sufficiently proud. He was so cool, and he absolutely nailed the explosive nature of the piece. An already formidable song on record, it simply unfurled on stage with all the might of a drug fuelled binge the song is named after.

After his medley, Beck calmed things down a bit and started playing material from his very extensive back catalogue of 8 major label studio albums. Most of the material was off his albums Guero, Odelay, Modern Guilt and Sea Change, but every album was there and represented for.When he wasn’t busting out a song, he constantly humoured the audience with banter of his very few previous Australian visits, and his apologies for not being here more, followed by promises to try and make up for the lost time with an extended set. Not that the audience minded. We lapped up everything Beck, through at us, from the eclectic starry light show, to the random impromptu solos, to the acoustic set that highlighted greats like ‘The Golden Age’, ‘Lost Cause’ and ‘Paper Tiger’ amongst others. But leave it to Beck to make the finale glorious. An extended version of ‘Where It’s At’ that had the entire audience seething in the aisles and on their feet, followed by a garage encore followed by the crowd anthem ‘E-Pro‘. Everyone belted out the ‘na-na’ chorus at full volume, and by god did the room echo with fervour. It was probably the wildest The State Theatre has been in a while. All thanks to His Beckness.

Album Review: Flume-Flume

So, apparently this guy called Flume is a big deal. He’s an electronic artist, but not in the traditional sense. He creates rippled, sonic ambient beats that cascade through your soul. The songs are hypnotic and shimmering, built from various samples, loops, and beats that caress a gentle song structure. His songs are truly beautiful, and a strong fore-runner in this new scene of Australian electronic music, made up of ambient sound shifters like Fishing, Tijuana Cartel, Super Magic Hats and Oliver Tank. Not to persuade opinion or anything, but the guy’s debut self titled album, Flume, got four and a half stars out of five in Rolling Stone. That’s not exactly an unimpressive feat. So good fucking job man, got recognition from the press. He’s also getting quite the drum up back home as well, with big slots in St Jerome’s Lane way Festival, and Golden Plains Seven. So I figured I’d check out his debut album that was released 5 days ago.

Well, it is certainly impressive. Not like, a small show of impressive either, but like impressive beyond comparison. It sets just a whole new level as to what can be considered amazing music, in a positive sense. The opener ‘Sintra’ hisses and slides like a Cobra, hugely small jungle sounds and a totally hypnotising bass line drop mixed with crystal broken up vocals affording the listener a dangerously amazing soundscape.

This opener more or less sets the standard for the rest of the album. Flume’s penchant for creating perfectly harmonised electronic beats that soothe over and create flawless rhythm know both when to shine and when to take a step back to other talents. For example, there are 5 guest features on the album, from a large variety of artists. There is Chet Faker, Jezzabel Doran, rapper T-Shirt, Moon Holiday, and George Maple, all bringing incredibly brilliant new environments to Flume’s hauntingly juxtaposed mature childlike take on dub-electro. ‘On Top’ the song featuring T-Shirt has a completely different feel to it than the rest of the record, instead giving off overblown, urban vibes,contrasting the previous hushed out tones of ‘Sleepless feat. Jezzabel Doran’.

Just because there is a lot of evidence of Flume’s collaborations, don’t be led to believe there isn’t any original Flume on the record. Oh no, there is plenty of that. There are plenty of his booming, nonsensical pulses to be found o there own. At some times, it feels like he’s delving into dub step (‘More Than You Thought’), but it’s so soft and subtle, if it was dub step, it would be nature’s dub step, of trees swaying in the wind, and the grass whistling. That’s a good way of describing FLume’s unique take on electronica, and music as a whole. His music seems to incorporate a lot of natural themes, very wild but in a peaceful setting. It’s also very spiritual, and has a bit of an Eastern feel to it. The hypnotic songs transferred through the synths and the beats he creates, are incredibly resonate of the concept of karma, every time a song pushes with force, it’s countered by another song that recedes and ebbs with a soothing flow. For example ‘Bring You Down feat. George Maple’ is immediately countered by a star struck, lazer influenced track called ‘Warm Thoughts’.

Overall, Flume has got it pretty figured out pretty young. He knows how to create a heart pulsing, off-putting and attractive track that seethes and warps, otherwise known as closer ‘Star Eyes’, and when to simply let you float in melody of mind-numbing happy bliss, on tracks ‘Sleepless feat. Jezzabel Doran’ and ‘Ezra’. He has such an expansive song palette that extends for every shade of the purple haze that is both his music and the cover art for his first EP. It’s just amazing stuff, for whether you want to sleep, relax, do anything of an unwinding nature. It’s a complete reworking of trance and electronica music, and best of all, it’s Australian.

Violent Soho-Neighbour Neighbour

What’s the one thin better than Violent Soho? Some dude ripping a bong in the brand spanking new video for Violent Soho’s new single ‘Neighbour Neighbour’. This video reads like a teenage dream. There’s a bunch of guys skating, a pretty awesome party, lots of alcohol, heavily bearded people ingesting marijuana, and a kick ass garage/grunge Aussie song. The song itself is quite a step up in maturity for the band, a fully realised version of what was being hinted at on songs like ‘Narrow Ways’ on their debut album, released back in 2010.

Album Review: Beach House-Devotion

Beach House have an image that strongly resembles Sandy from Grease. If you’ve seen Grease before, you know who I’m talking about. She’s the main character opposite John Travolta, and she’s initially totally sweet and innocent, however by the end she’s been replaced by a totally different person (figuratively, not literally, you idiot). If you haven’t seen Grease, you’re a fucking liar. Everyone’s seen Grease, you’re only lying to yourself, and I bet you know every word to Grease Lightning. Anyway, Beach House are a lot like that first Sandy. Totally beautiful in a completely natural way, and soft to the ear, impeccably so.

Devotion is perhaps too good of an example of this. I mean, you can pick up any Beach House record and instantly be swept away by the breezy tones. But Devotion really takes out the award for most sunny and light take on sunny and light love songs. Seriously, Beach House totally out do themselves on every front. The opening track ‘Wedding Bell’, is just a testament of pure lo-fi genius. The song opens delicately and methodically swings, drifting elegantly in a happy-go-lucky dream tale. It’s sing song and childish, bouncing back and forth like a fairy tip-toing over a keyboard. The guitar strums while the piano dances, and Victoria Legrand’s vocals just drift in the background. However, not to appear like some kind of one dimensional pixie band, Beach House launch into a haunting debacle with ‘You Came To Me’ , a song that simply pushes the limits of what is considered macabre and what is considered possessing. The sad charm is continued in ‘Gila’, albeit the song takes a more accepting perspective, in a similar vein to Emily Dickinson’s ‘I gave myself to him’ (Year 12 HSC Advanced English reprazent). The swinging is brought back by ‘Turtle Island’, a very minimalistic, wholly sounding song, that swoons with a harmonic pleasure. It oozes with richness, being punched out by constant earthy tones. “Holy Dances’ brings a little more enchanting excitement to the foray, with handclaps, soaring vocals that intertwines itself, and an incredibly smooth backing rhythm. It sounds as if it is something The Fleet Foxes would use as a single.

The second half of the album proceeds with another winner, ‘All the Years’. If it’s your first time tuning into the album, then you’re in for a treat. Unfortunately, if you’ve been listening keenly the whole way, then you might find it a bit repetitive and similar to ‘Holy Dances’, with the wintered background organ, soft guitar/ percussion and layered harmonic choruses that fixate the song. Luckily, ‘Heart of Chambers’ adds as much oomph as a Beach Hose song will allow, the words at times taking a halt from falling out of Victoria Legrand’s mouth to physically being pushed out, some violin instrumentation, and  softly warped background guitar. In case you hadn’t nearly drifted off during the previous songs, as if they wanted to give you the hint, ‘Some Things Last A Long Time’ opens with rain sounds. Yes, this is defintely the most escaped and unchained song in an album that is defined as dream-pop. Honestly, this is the soundtrack they play at heaven’s gates, a giant gold gate immersed in fluffy clouds. ‘Astronaut’ is a straight up confirmation of this. It slinks casually by, blinking it’s eyes slowly in wonder, yawning occasionally, an audio metaphor for the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland (Year 12 related texts waddup). After ‘Astronaut’, the next two songs, ‘D.A.R.L.I.N.G’ and ‘Home Again’ seem like a double headed closer, wrapping up an album of tunes that not only religiously praise sleep, but literally create gaping holes of dreaming beauty through song form.The vocals are truly amazing and heart wrenching, both able to stimulate sorrow and create a sense of total content and happiness, within the caress of a few bars.

Beach House are one of those few bands that defy any kind of logical description. I mean, dream-pop is a pretty hard concept and genre to perfect, but they tried their hardest to achieve it. The sound is a small step above some of their other fabulous contemporaries, like Beach Fossils, Dignan Porch and TEEN. If I really wanted to give some kind of basic summarisation, I’d say that they sound like a fantastic cross of the breezy trip-hop of Portishead with the surf rock and teenage girl troubles of Best Coast. But I won’t do that, because I don’t want to bastardise their worth of excellence, as their sound is totally unique and completely awesome.

“Obama Fucking Won, Thank God” Playlist

In case you didn’t hear, Obama fucking won the US Election. That’s awesome on multiple levels. Firstly, he finally has that extra four years he needs to fix the shit out of America. Secondly, he seems like a pretty cool dude. I mean, he sang Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together”. He’s cooler than a snowball. And of course, it’s better than the alternative: Mitt Romney. Now there’s a guy who can run a country into the ground. Anyway, in recognition of this great feat, and to give some props to the big guy in the White House, here’s a playlist of great celebratory, American classics, but none of that country bullshit.

1. Bruce Springsteen-Born in the USA

2. Foo Fighters-Learn to Fly

3. Pearl Jam-Save You

4. Neil Young-Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World

5. The Gaslight Anthem-Casanova, Baby!

6. Black Lips-New Direction

7. Cage the Elephant- Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked

8. Weezer-Buddy Holly

9. The Black Keys-I’ll Be Your Man

10. Camper van Beethoven-Take The Skinheads Bowling

11. Nirvana-In Bloom

12. Smashing Pumpkins-Today

13. Jay-Z- 99 Problems

14. The White Stripes- Blue Orchid

15. Soundgarden-Spoonman

16. Kanye West-Flashing Lights

17. The Dandy Warhols-Boys Better

18. OK Go-Invincible

19. Red Hot Chilli Peppers- Suck My Kiss

20. Beastie Boys-Fight For Your Right

Tame Impala-Half Full Glass of Wine

So, in December, I’m officially seeing the king of psychedelic Kevin Parker, better known by his band’s name, Tame Impala. These world conquering giants have gone form strength to strength since releasing their first material in 2008, and now they are conquering the world with their 2nd LP, Lonerism. They are killing it on the world stage, and are being upheld by everyone from Mark Ronson to Graham Coxon from Blur. Even that offensive shit Tyler, the Creator knows when he hears great music and has outed Tame Impala as “Feeling Like I’m Going Backwardssssssssss…”. Regardless of the fact Tyler is a douche bag, any press is good press. To celebrate, I present my favourite Tame Impala song, ‘Half Full Glass of Wine’, from their debut self-titled EP.

November Playlist

New month, new playlist. That’s the fucking rules, and I’m a law abiding citizen. October has passed, and along with it, the faint cries of annoying kids going Halloweening and the constant facebook updates from promiscuous women uploading a different angle of cleavage. Now, we enter November. What’s good that happens in November. Nothing really. So let’s celebrate the nothingness of November with tunes that might just inject some meaning and happiness into this otherwise dreary month. This month brings a mix of contemporary songs that are incredibly hard-hitting and in your face, and then some relaxing ones to just pass the time by with, maybe in a hammock with a detective novel. I don’t know, do whatever you fucking what, just listen to the music. And don’t worry I’m not that big a dickhead, or obvious enough to include ‘November Has Come’ by the Gorillaz. That would be sad.

1. The Gorillaz-November Has Come

2. Chet Faker-No Diggity

3. Hermitude-HyperParadise (Flume Remix)

4. Wax Witches-I Hate Matilda

5. Miike Snow-Animal

6. DZ Deathrays-Cops Capacity

7. Teenage Fanclub-The Concept

8. Bat For Lashes-Daniel

9. Death Grips-@deathgrips

10. Simian Mobile Disco-Nerve Salad

11. Purity Ring-Obedear

12. The Prodigy-Stand Up

13. Ausmuteants-Nothing Rhythmic

14. Times New Viking-Fuck Her Tears

15. Los Campesinos!-By Your Hand

16. The Cribs-Chi-Town

17. The Presets-This Boy’s In Love

18. Peter, Bjorn and John-Young Folks

19. Boomgates-Layman’s Terms

20. Cat Power-The Greatest