Top 10 Reasons Steve Albini is God

A few weeks ago Steve Albini (aka God) guest hosted Australia’s best source of underground music, rage. About a week later, I got around to watching all, of it (it’s about five hours). I already had a huge amount of adoration and respect, but in watching the rage segment, I know believe something more. I think Steve Albini might just be God. Here’s why:

10. His Waist Guitar Strap: Do you have any clue how hard it is to play guitar? Like, at all? It’s damn near impossible. The fact that guys like Jimmy Page and J Mascis are so good at it is simply a testament to their god-like prowess. Notice that the adjective is god-like, not godly. That’s because Steve Albini takes it one step further, and hoists his guitar around his waist, instead of over the shoulder like ‘normal’ people. Why? Because fuck ‘normal’ people. And also because he probably finds it comfortable.

9. He Loves Vinyl: There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been covered, other than the dude really loves vinyl. He’s also into cassettes, as shown by some of his releases, but it’s mostly a vinyl thing. Wouldn’t be surprised if the dude had tried to bang some vinyl. But haven’t we all at some point? Right? No, because that would cause scratching, it would fuck everything up, and it would probably hurt…the vinyl and you. It’s blasphemous to even consider the concept of fucking vinyl. But back to the main point, Albini loves vinyl, and that’s awesome.

8. His Humour: Although the humour didn’t really shine through on the rage segment, Steve Albini is easily one of the funniest human beings on the planet. This is mainly because no subject is sacred. No matter how taboo, how controversial, or how insanely fucked up it is, you can bet that Steve Albini will aggressively and forthrightly make comedy out of it. He has the kind of sick sense of humour that, upon seeing a guy getting mauled by a bear, he would probably say ‘He deserved it, fucking Madonna fan’ or ‘I always thought intestines were meant to be longer’. Probably, I don’t know the guy. But his humour is fucked up and glorious.

7. His Writing: Again, on the subject of his controversial humour, Steve Albini interjected this with some of the most offensively insightful observations about the music industry. He made a fuckload of enemies, like Ministry and every major label ever, but he stuck to his guns. He was a fiercely loyal independant, and with the ‘nothing sacred’ policy of his writing, he was one in a million. On a personal note, Steve Albini’s journalistic writings, along with Jim Goad, were incredibly influential on myself. So maybe there is a little bias in this list proclaiming Steve Albini to be God-what the fuck are you gonna do? (please read the former sentence in an amiable, friendly tone, an open ended suggestion to the reader in which constructive criticism is appreciated <3)

6. The Prolific Amount of Stuff He Puts Out: It is estimated, according to Wikipedia, that Albini has worked on between 1500-2000 records. That’s more records than breaths of air for a roughly week old baby. Also, the vast, vast majority of it is superb. On average, there is more soul and life in a single note of Steve Albini production than an entire Mackelmore album. Let me just shove that statistic in your face one more time: 1500-2000 estimated works. That’s like the amount of gallons of piss in an average public pool!

5. He’s Humble as Shit: Steve Albini is more humble than a badger. And badgers are the most humble creatures in the animal kingdom. That’s a fact. Look it up. Okay, I made that up. But Steve Albini just refuses o be acknowledged as the hero he is. He doesn’t list himself amongst the production credits, is incredibly generous with his Chicago studio and recording rates, and even described one of my favourite albums, The Pixies ‘Surfer Rosa’ as ‘…average college rock…’.  Although the last one comes down to a matter of taste, it still astounds me that someone who greatly influenced what is considered a seminal work would downplay their achievements so much. But such is the Albini/God way.

4. Awesome Musician: Steve Albini is one of the greatest musicians that the alternative scene has ever witnessed. I was originally going to say ‘Awesome Guitarist’, but it’s important to note that he is a proficient programmer, doing the work on Big Black’s drum machine himself. In fact, the entire ‘Lungs’ EP was all Albini’s work, and that EP is fucking masterful. Albini transcends barriers of comfort with his post-modern style, forcing his way into your collective conscience with loud, dilated and aggressive sounds that only he could create. It’s a horrifying, holy and humbling experience to listen to something Steve Albini has constructed.

3. Part of Shellac: Along with fellow record engineer Bob Weston and drummer Todd Trainer (who used to play with Scout Niblett), Steve Albini is in this little band called Shellac. Oh yeah, you might know them by the other name as the greatest post-punk group since The Fall. Shellac only have four (technically five) albums, and each of them is like a manuscript of how to entertain the earholes with the greatest music of ever. If you remember the post I made for my one year celebration, ‘Prayer to God’ is roughly my 4th favourite song of all time. Yep, Shellac beat out the likes of The Ramones, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, to name a few. Shellac are seriously one of the best things to happen to this planet, along with chocolate cereal and humping.

2. Great Taste in Music: In watching the rage hosting, and from knowledge of the bands he’s produced (more on that soon) Steve Albini just has a fucking great taste in music. Like, seriously amazing. Ranging from Sepultura, to Low, from Lubricated Goat to Cheap Trick, and Boards of Canada to The Breeders, Steve Albini’s music programming on rage was second to none awesome stuff.

1. Studio Extraordinare: Finally, the reason most people would know the name Steve Albini is because of his god-like abilities in the studio. The Cribs, The Jesus Lizard, McLusky, Cloud Nothings-these are just some of the icons of the underground that can thank Steve Albini for helping them with unmasking their potential. PJ Harvey’s best album, ‘Rid of Me’? Albini. Nirvana’s ‘In Utero’. Albini. The aforementioned Pixies’ ‘Surfer Rosa’. Alllllllllll Albini. This guy has more genius than Albert Einstein taking hits of Stephen Hawking, while munching on Isaac Newtown’s brain as a snack. Fuck, if you don’t love Steve Albini in some form or another, you must be a Motley Cru fan. And there’s nothing worse than a Motley Cru fan.

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Album Review: mnttaB-Welcome to the planet, dear

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Imagine this scenario: you’re frolicking in a daisy field, somewhere in the South American continent. Suddenly, Keith Flint from The Prodigy descends from the heavens. Wrapped around his torso is the snake from the garden on Eden. The snake whispers seductively-hands you an album adorned by tired, paranoid eyes, numbers and symbols. What could this mean? The end of the world? But 2012 was last year you fucking idiot. Keith Flint don’t give a fuck. You’ve just been handed the awesomely schizophrenic ‘Welcome to the planet, dear’ by Melbourne’s death-doom-disko group mnttaB (pronounced Mount-Tab). You are in heaven. Now find a CD Player, or record player OR FUCKING SOMETHING to play this shit on.

If your a fan of Death Grips, Orbital, The Prodigy, or any of those dark-ravey bands that equally incite terror and passion into the hearts of any who listen, then mnttaB will be right up your ally. Also, if you get all gooy-eyed and bonerific over those free compilations on New Weird Australia, then just go ahead and assume that this will soundtrack the rest of your year. There’s plenty of fast paced, ecstasy laden industrial hooks to get the blood pumping, and the hard-ons knocking against the knees. Title track ‘Welcome to the planet, dear’, ‘Femme Fatale’, and ‘Infinitepopsong’ are all tracks that could soundtrack zombie chase scenes from Resident Evil. But then there’s hints of the darker and weirder on stuff like ‘Hammer/Nail/Teeth/Claws (feat. Max Posthorn)’ which is straight up satanic synth, like Ministry if they were a cult, and ‘Bequemlichkeit (feat. Rene Schaefer)’ is an intense mash up of a kids carnival with serial killer carnies, horrifically minimalistic in execution…actually horrifically minimalistic in every aspect.

Although the album can get unfocused and stray occasionally, it’s all worth it just to listen to tracks like ‘Watch your lips move’, in which undulating paranoia and chemical reactions mix for explosive results. The synth work is next level demonic, taking inspiration from all those crazy, fucked 80’s bands from Europe and updating that shit to keep us on our toes, and keep us zany and fucked. Hunter S. Thompson once said ‘Too weird to live, too rare to die!’, a statement that definetely applies to this  LP.

You can download mnttaB’s ‘Welcome to the planet, dear’ for free off their Bandcamp, available here, along with the amazing ‘mainsHum’ EP. Or, if you’re so inclined you can buy it as well. No pressure (buy it).

Album Review: ESC-ESC EP

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Blustering like the winds buffeting the cliffs of Dover, a torn and ragged alarm rings through the still moon-lit air. Is it an overrated All-American superhero that is actually an alien, suscept to human desires and faults like the rest of us, only capable of actually destroying the world? Or is it a crestfallen and silent vigilante, enshrouded by mystery and a bat costume, driven to the point of insanity by the puns of his bewilderingly themed enemies? No, it’s the post-punk enema of Melbourne four-peice ESC. It’s spelt like the button on your keyboard, but it sounds like an angel stabbing a narwhal. Let that sink in for a second. Then go buy the record.

The reason you should buy this record is because ESC provide sultry, swaying post-rock, like HTRK meets Sigur Ros meets Joy Division meets Chrome. Any one of those bands being involved in the influences of someone is post-worthy, but all four? You’ve found yourself a goddamn saviour of music.

Although the album is only 5 tracks long, one of which is an instrumental Intro, the remaining four only get you more amped up at the prospect of more material to come. Starting with ‘Blacklight’, which features a doom-impending drum/bass fued and switchblade electronics, coupled with harshly whispered vocals and washes of sound, ESC already establish themselves as an engaging post-rock icon. After that, ‘This’ tracks mud through the house, with a spaceship landing intro, a concise snare and snarled samples. When everything’s been said and done, there’s an Ooga Boogas-ish vibe to the naturalistic, walking through the bush meets pysch decay. This continuation of Aussie drug trips in audio is continued into Track 4, ‘Atomic Shadow’. This is a track that sees Depeche Mode sharing a needle with Muse, and the result is a staggering stage show of not letting the listener see your hand until the final moment, when it’s too late, and they’ve been sucked into the whirlpool already. The guitar is friendly and encouraging, with it’s spindly flicks of flair, but the bass fuzzes and gushes just behind it, warning of the danger. Seriously, that bass is fucking killer. The final flourish, ‘Deathbed’, again exemplifies the less is more category, vaudeville organ splattering a grey portrait of simplistic gothy rock. It’s like a Tim Burton movie compressed into a 6 minute song, but a good one, like ‘Beetlejuice’.

Dark and mysterious, I feel like I only understand ESC a little bit more than from when I first pressed play. Nearly half an hour later, and all that’s to show is moody, ambient post-rock that is sheltered, yet amazingly good. It seems that the more hidden ESC keep themselves, the more enduring they sound. The EP is fucking fantastic.

You can stream/buy the EP on ESC’s Bandcamp here.

Album Review: Fuck Buttons-Slow Focus

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Fuck Buttons have the kind of band name that attracts attention. They also have the music to back it up. Listening to Fuck Buttons for the first time was a polarising thing in my life, like the first time I played Crash Bandicoot, or watched South Park. And whilst those things have faded in my personal popularity, (to be replaced by Bubble Trouble 2: Rebubbled and Workaholics, respectively) Fuck Buttons are still at the forefront of my mind. ‘Slow Focus’ was one of my most looked forward to albums, and it certainly has not disappointed. The grotesque and deliciously disturbing melancholic sounds of Fuck Buttons is one that might take a while to get used to for some listeners, and others might not even have the will to stand it. However, those that can bluster through some truly sweltering distortion-oriented disturbia will be glad they did so.

The opening track of ‘Slow Focus’ is traditional Fuck Buttons. Giant, hammering drums that thunder across the sky of ‘Brainfreeze’, whilst shimmering synths, and animalistic escapades echo to create a howling masterpiece. So far, orgasmic. I can’t believe there was an ounce of doubt in my mind. Sure, eight and a half minutes might be pushing it, but do you think Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power give a solitary fuck about your feelings? I’ll leave you with that existential debate, and continue onto the next track, ‘Year of the Dog’ which is a brilliant, goopy mess, slimy to it’s core. After horror-movie string sliding and futuristic spaceship travels across the galaxy, ‘Year of the Dog’ sounds a shitload better than the year of the pig, or the year that I was born and represent. Unlike the lazy and satisfied pig-like nature of myself, ‘Year of the Dog’ is a transcendent, horrifying piece that sounds like Blade Runner banging Alien (both Ridley Scott movies-the more you know). 

After a while of getting the living shit scared out of me, it’s onto ‘The Red Wing’, of which the radio edit came out a while ago. The full version is that much more intense, which is really saying something. Starting with a gentle, trip-hop beat, we move into space n time format again, grooving placidly through the muck of dizzying electronica. It’s a glitch-ridden and buzz-saw laden track of techno that will both jolt you awake with frequent electric pulses, and lull you into a deep sense of insecurity. When ‘The Red Wing’ climatically finishes, ‘Sentients’ comes on and lives up to it’s name. Lasers shoot through a galactic inter-war battle, and giant robots do destruction with each other, all in the name of electronic music. In the most avant-garde way possible, the destruction of the Death Star is put on in a slow motion, audio-centric format, and it’s goddamn mind-blowing, and definitively enormous. You can never prepare yourself enough for the inter-plantary apocalypse speech that interrupts the closest thing to a reverie that Fuck Buttons can come to. The warm down and after effects of this is seen in ‘Prince’s Prize’, a shimmering Pac-Man interpretation that transforms into a breakbeat, entrancing hypnotism of the senses. Holy Fuck Buttons Batman, I think I just experienced Tron through the power of music! Take me back to a point in Jeff Bridges’ career where he isn’t at that low of a point in his life (I am, of course, referring to, The Big Lebowski)

The final end of the album comes in the two, huge 10 minute slabs of ‘Stalker’ and ‘Hidden X’s’. The former is a towering and intimidating figure, the other a succulent and entrancing track that swims with the grace of Derek Zoolander in his Merman commercial. Although ‘Hidden X’s’ is a damn beautiful track, it’s ‘Stalker’ that leaves the bigger impression, mainly because it seems to follow in the format of ‘Slow Focus’ more solidly. ‘Stalker’ is fucking huge, booming and throwing it’s weight around, not just shoving but actively defying anything to get in it’s way. It’s like an evil Optimus Prime, mechanic, whirring and death-defying in the most belied sense of every adjective. The way it jilts and heaves, just when you think the menace might be over, it amps to another level, blasting away your faith in humanity with that giant fucking laser sword thing that Optimus Prime has. 

Overall, Fuck Buttons have created a powerful force of technology. Yes, that’s right, this isn’t just an album of electronic music, it’s a fucking piece of technology, like the iPod you’ll listen to it on. I would say that ‘Slow Focus’ was so powerful and layered that it could hypnotise Megatron, but that would be portraying a hypothetical, and we haven’t been attacked by any inter-galactic space robots in the recent past, have we? ‘Slow Focus’ is fucking sick, and if you’re a fan of having your head chewed off and spat back out in a crumbled mess in front of you through the glory of sound, then you should get this album. It’s glorious in every sense of the word. It’s the kind of shit that Skrillex goes all corporal mortification in an effort to create (that’s the crazy whipping stuff that the albino monk from The Da Vinci Code does). ‘Slow Focus’ is everything I hoped it would be and more.

For those wondering, the vagrant slangshot of ‘Fuck’ was used only 14 times. I’m really sorry. I’ll try better next time. 

Album Review: Bone-For Want of Feeling

ImageImagine you’re in your local record store. On your right side, there is the brand spanking new Selena Gomez album, selling for a measly $19.99. It’s got some ripper tracks on there, your sure of it. I mean, she’s bangin’ the Biebz, what could go wrong? When you’ve seen a nutsack swimming with that much talent, the results can only be stellar. But on your left, there’s something by a band called Bone. It looks pretty minimalistic, and there’s definitely no pretty colours. In fact, it looks downright morbid, with the chessboard, and killing contraption that seems to have mutilated the shit out of someone. ‘For Want of Feeling’? Of course I want feeling! You reach your hand towards the new Selena Gomez album (obviously). Then you awake from your nightmare! Thank god, shit could’ve gotten fucked up in a second (sorry Portia).

In traditionally forward thinking style, the Sydney label tenzenmen were the ones to release this abrasive debut LP. It kicks and huffs like a wild eyed horse, the mania swarming like hellfire in it’s eyes. Every track on here is a searing portrait, a bastion of hellish sounds that contort and twist into something Pinhead from Hellraiser would probably be pretty content to jam to. Stoic and upright, the noise is one of brutal punk, but slowed down to devilish and sinister levels. It’s like what shoul have happened for Black Flag after ‘Slip It In’.

‘For Want of Feeling’ caresses a heavy bass line, duelling squallish guitar with pounding drums that march haphazardly with forebodingly militaristic strength. The album becomes increasingly dark as it progresses, and loses none of it’s genuine dramatic tension, a laudable effort within itself. The storming energy is consistent with every track, and Bone manage to push each note and scream to it’s mind-numbing length. If Maynard James Keenan went all incognito and decided to create a new band from the depths of Melbourne, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bone were that band. Of course, they aren’t the brain child of ‘A Perfect Rambler’ Keenan, as Bone get a lot more to the point and are able to smash their song into smithereens and emerge like the gnashing titans they are, rather than prolong things into redundancy as Tool are apt to do.

Alarm bells ringing in their guitars and bass, the longer songs like ‘Bath Time’, ‘See the Boy’ and ‘Pedestal’ are the standouts on ‘For Want of a Feeling’. It’s not that the other tracks are shit or anything, far from it. It’s just with that extra minute or so, Bone really develop the gruel and growl to another beast entirely. It’s crazy shit to listen to, and no doubt witness. Fuck this band just sound better and better the more I listen to them.

So, to reiterate the point I was making at the beginning of this review, if the thought of purchasing the new Selena Gomez album was crossing your mind….just think for a second. Instead of contributing to the downfall of mankind, support some of the best droning punk this side of the galaxy. I’m sure E.T’s mates are in a pretty cool crust-punk band and all that, but until they get their shit together and put out a demo, the honours go to Bone, and their drool embraced ‘For Want of Feeling’.

You can stream two of the albums stellar tracks, ‘See the Boy’ and ‘Pedestal’ from their Bandcamp, but I gotta warn you, it’s not for the faint of heart.

Album Review: Dune Rats-Smile EP

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Look at that cover. That’s a goddamn work of art. It’s what would happen if Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Monet, Picasso, and Van Gogh would try to fathom at portraying if they all got together in one awesome timeline. Then they would go egg Da Vinci’s house, and steal Roy Lichtentstein’s weed. Because that dude was a total poser. 

Anyway, everyone’s favourite bong-smoking, slut-indulging, fried fiends Dune Rats released their third EP a couple months back. Yes, I’m late to the party, but that’s the way things are. What matters is that I am finally getting around to reviewing this stellar piece of awesome shit. The ‘Smile EP’ will probably go down as that Dunies EP that had ‘Fuck It’ and ‘Red Light, Green Light’ on it. The latter track is itself an urban legend for it’s film clip(s) alone. You know the one. You don’t? I won’t spoil it for you, but there’s a lot of weed. A lot. Fuck it, bring in the kids, make a game out of it. Count how many cones BC rips, then calculate how many brain cells he lost. All of them is the right answer. Also, if you feel shitting yourself with laughter, then watch the interview they shot with Simon from DZ Deathrays immediately after the clip. It’s funnier than Flash Gordon getting roasted by Patton Oswalt. On another note, somebody make that happen. 

Anyway, if you watched that clip (if you didn’t, you really should. You really, really should), you’ll kinda figure out how Dunies like to rock out (with their cocks out). They play music, so they can party and score free weed and groupies, and it’s just kind of a bonus that they happen to be extravagantly good at it. Every track on the ‘Smile EP’ is jammy, super-fun, and soaked-in-week-old-bong-water crusty. It’s got the jangles, it’s got the riffs, and it rubs against you in a most non-threatening way, like a smiling junkie in a unicorn onesie at Parklife. 

There is no way you can not have a good time when listening to the ‘Smile EP’. From Track 1 ‘Red Light, Green Light’, to the head bopping, booty shakers of ‘All You Do’ and ‘Burning Bridges’, to Triple J stalwart ‘Fuck It’, and the closer and general summarisation of the Dune Rats mantra, both in title and sound, ‘Stoner Pop’. Fuck me, this might just be the jewel in the Dune Rats crown that will inevitably be pawned off for that sweet as glassy shaped liked Godzilla’s dong and a quart of bud. Good on ya Dunies.

You can grab two old Dune Rats tracks off their Triple J Unearthed page right here. Also, if you’re in Sydney on Wednesday, the band will be playing honourable support to FIDLAR at OAF. FIDLAR are a band that I absolutely love, and would give any goddamn opportunity to see. Their debut album is my current favourite of the year. Hey-Zeus Christ, that would be a great show. 

Video: Naked Maja-Take

Naked Maja are a brilliant band from Brisbane way, that make music of the audible form of a depressed kid painting introspective water colours. Tantalising vocals drip plaintively onto a sharp guitar sound that belies what I thought possible.’Take’ is a really gorgeous song, absolutely stunning in every way possible, and it’s available off Naked Maja’s new EP, on Bandcamp for absolutely nothing.

New: The Naked And Famous-Hearts Like Ours

So, the internet went into overdrive over New Zealand’s indie stalwarts The Naked And Famous’ new track this week, so I thought I’d check it out. Although it’s not the immediate smash hit of tracks like ‘Young Blood’ or ‘Punching in a Dream’, it still has devastating potential for being the song that will be stuck in your head all week. The gnashing synth on ‘Hearts Like Ours’ is in full glitter mode, creating a really full track, maybe a little too busy at times, but still damn engaging throughout. And the chorus is what Nicki Minaj dreams she could create.  The new album, coming out in September, should be better than stabbing Voldemort with a rusty shank in a prison shower.

Video: Dead Ghosts-Summer With Phil

Very funny and original clip to accompany the new single ‘Summer With Phil’ for Vancouver flower punks Dead Ghosts. Off their latest LP ‘Can’t Get No’, it’s like the more saturated and untrying side of The Black Lips, ‘We Did Not Know…’ era, or maybe Harlem.

Although the song is just your traditional garage fare, the clip is Alien made by, and for, potheads. A large worm emerges and instead of ravaging on a spaceship crew, it wears sunnies, smokes cigarettes and takes pisses with it’s host. It’s exactly as random and heartwarming as you’d expect, and then some.

Video: Gap Dream-Chill Spot

Another one from the flawless Burger Records, it’s the oily power-pop of Gap Dream. Sleazy to the max, and dripping with seediness, ‘Chill Spot’ sees the dudes from Gap Dream pass around a joint, a stare into the camera for maybe a couple seconds longer than was necessary. Nonetheless…awesome song, average video. The kind of thing you’d want to listen to when driving around at 3am looking for a coke dealer in Arizona.