Hand Games November Mixtape (free download)

 

Ohhh, yeahhhh! Do you feel that? A warm burn between your thighs? A dizzying spell penetrating your mind? An engulfing of your body in giddying excitement? That’s the bubbly need to party! But what the fuck are you going to soundtrack your days on the dance floor with? Well, luckily for you, there’s a new Hand Games mix, and it’s better than watching whatever shenanigans Kim and Kanye are up to now.

The new playlist is fucking killer, chock-full of tracks that will make your eyeballs pop out of your skull. Firstly, one of the best tracks of one of the best Australian releases of the year, TV Colours’ ‘Bad Dreams’. Try not to dance/headbang to this one. You’ll go Clockwork Orange, post-lobotmy levels insane. After that, there’s ‘Paranoid Video’ from Total Control. Yep, you read that write…the Total Control. Y’know, one of the best Aussie bands to surface in recent history. Disturbing and mind-fucking, it’s impossible not to enjoy this one.

Now after the assault of the brain, one needs to slow down and make way for the next couple tracks. Some shuffling electronica from the likes of Alba, seductive minimalism from Circular Keys and R&B sex soundtracking from Tincture/Hazel Brown are all eye-opening. Then, you need to prepare yourself for the greatness of Oscar Key Sung, and the track ‘All I Could Do’, as well as Nakagin’s ‘Bloom’, a sultry, natural beauty.

Halfway through the playlist, and no signs of slowing down, as Primitive Motion announce they’re post-punk ways with ‘Home of the Lone Coast’, a really fucking tortured track that has a subdued Sisters of Mercy/Rowland S Howard vibe. Slightly more upbeat, but no less twisted is You Beauty’s new track ‘Menal Mondays’, a song that twists with a heart-attack drum beat, gnarled guitar splashes and foreshadowing bass.

After those gloomy pearls, we head into the slacker rock territory, with two bands that regularly get mentioned here: Bitch Prefect and Food Court. BP’s ‘Shipped It’ actually has a bit of a Dischord vibe, like Fugazi got re-worked in Adelaide. Meanwhile, ‘By Your Side’, which I’ve posted about quite a bit before, rocks like a hurricane, fuzzy feel-good punk that is the cure for any melancholic work day.

Finally, we end this gem of a playlist with two tracks that take their queues from the recent downtempo electronica scenes that have been popping up all over the globe. Slum Sociable pout with a snaky, hissing track called ‘Watch Me Turn Colourful’, whilst Phondupe gets slinky and irresistible with the dripping-with-lust ‘Proxy’.

That’s all from this session of Hand Games Mixtapes. I’ve been your host, Ryan the Wanker. Enjoy this awesome Australian music with a complimentary side of Free Download. That’s right! This playlist can be all yours for nothing! FUCK YEAH!

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Rock Album Reviews, Pt. 2: The Caseworker + Brilliant Beast + Crown Larks + Through A Glass Darkly+ Beast & Flood

I’ll admit it. I’m a massive knob. My e-mail has been stockpiling record review request after record review request, and I’ve been sitting here, trying to do something about it. Except, instead of doing stuff about it, I went to a bunch of gigs and focused on not fucking up my new job. But to quote The Big Lebowski, ‘Sometimes, there’s a man…and even if he’s a lazy man-which Ryan most certainly was….aw, I’ve lost my train of thought’. Anyway, here’s a bunch of review of the albums that I thought were pretty badass. Apologies to the artists that I couldn’t give them an original piece, it is simply a matter that I would probably end up in the morgue from finger blisters. Enjoy my shitty descriptions, then go buy these albums.

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[The] Caseworker- Voices Out There

Like the indie-rock greats, like The Mountain Goats or Beck, that shy away from the usual boring blathering that the genre usually resonates like a homeless stench, [The] Caseworker deviate from a cut-and-paste formula for great results. On their new album ‘Voices Out There’, you can expect introverted, personal lyrics crossed over with skyline hooks and melodies. I can’t quite tell if their music is catchy, but its certainly interesting. There are some points that are better to just quietly skip over, but for the most part, tracks such as ‘Dependance Day’ and ‘Notes From the Summer’ capture the listeners attention with a reason.

 

 

Brilliant Beast-Where Do You Want

Ok, I fucking really dig this album. It is really great. As in, really, really great. Imagine, just for a second, regardless of improbability, that Bad Religion or The Offspring teamed up with My Bloody Valentine and made an album. I don’t care that it sounds like the world’s biggest musical train-wreck, Brilliant Beast kind of channel that vibe, and it sounds amazing. There’s an old school pop-punk sensibility, to sing irreverent and feverous lyrics at a strong-willed, bullheaded pace, but then there’s the musical decency to add shoegaze and dream-pop to the mix. WHAT!? Are bands allowed to do that? At the least, Brilliant Beast show that they’re a loud band. They could be the next Yuck, or Craft Spells, or Beach Fossils whatever, songs like ‘Harrow’ show they have that ability. But the bleeding noise they add to the mix, on tracks like ‘Crushdumb’ and ‘A Child on Fire’ prove that they could be like Wavves or something. Fuck! A band has made me more confused than turning  on the TV to see Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street fucking. I don’t know what to make of this album, but I do know that it’s fucking great, and it’s fucking original.

Crown Larks-Catalytic Conversation

A band that channels Radiohead well, if I’ve ever heard one. And that’s no small feat either. There are fuckloads of bands out there that say ‘Karma Police’ is their, like, favourite song ever, but when you hear their music, you find they more closely resemble a buffalo giving itself an abortion. Instead, Crown Larks bring to life the spirit of Thom Yorke in their music, tranquil, oozy music that lightly dances along. You can’t help but feel mesmerised by the beautiful vocals and gentle music showcased in ‘Catalytic Conversation’. There’s also some Low influence in this record, with the Tourrete’s-like freakouts that sometimes pop up in the middle of otherwise plain and harmonious tunes. Every song on this album is intriguing like a wizard orgy, and worthy of your attention. From ‘Malone’s Lullaby Pt. 1’ to ‘Blue Lobsters’, chances are, you’re going to be fucking entranced by Crown Larks’ songs.

Through a Glass Darkly-Double Standard

Man, anyone who said classic rock n roll is dead was definitely fucking wrong, because they obviously haven’t listened to Through a Glass Darkly. Hailing from Sydney and combining all the sounds of those badass bands of olde that we all love, Through A Glass Darkly have made a fucking great record. On such a record you can hear wailing, caterwauling, heaving, guitar solo’s, self-indulgence, drama, and a whole heap of shit that hasn’t been done well since the 80’s. Faith No More, The Cult, Bruce Springsteen and The Sisters of Mercy are all artists that we miss that Through A Glass Darkly channel better than any cover band. Oh yeah, and there’s a song called ‘Stagger Lee’, as in the Stagger Lee from the Nick Cave song. And it’s done with the riff bravado of a ZZ Top track. So yeah, you could say this album’s middle name is badass.

Beast & Flood-Forever Homes/Name Split EP

Finally, we end out my shame with an EP from Australian band Beast & Flood. Like so many of the bands that garner my interest and inevitably end up on my website, Beast & Flood channel some Guided By Voices love into their music. However, that initial bit of slacker/college rock is just a red herring for what’s actually in store. Mainly, Beast & Flood are about doing the mind-fucking melancholy that one could find on a At the Drive-In release, or something like that which utilises pain like a Saw movie. Only three tracks long, there’s still a lot of love to be given to these songs, as they burst and weave like a fat guy wearing a tiny shirt going on a marathon run. There’s a lot power in the vocals and math-rock stylings of the tracks, and if you’re not blown away by the fucking gale-force pulverisation of every beat, then you’re not listening properly.

New: The National Pool-Better

Firstly, can we just revel in the thought of a giant pool that would cover the nation? Sounds pretty cool and shit, until you realise how many people would piss in it, and then it just gets kinda gross.

However, this single from electronica duo The National Pool is pretty fucking great. Disco grit mixes with soulful samples and a little bit of tribal love. Imagine if Cut Copy got crossed with Daft Punk in some sort of The Fly contraption, all powered by a mad Nile Rodgers. Firstly, how fucking awesome would that be, and secondly, you’d have The National Pool’s ‘Better’.

Video: The Lawrence Arms-You Are Here

Ah, The Lawrence Arms. I was a massive fan of these guys back in Year 10, when I was going through my Fat Wreck Chords/Epitaph phase. Whilst bands such as Alkaline Trio and Banner Pilot have been left by the wayside, (or Bayside, amirite?) The Lawrence Arms still always held a pretty special place for me.

Now they’re back with a brand new track, and its the usual, sort of emo, sort of punk concoction that they’ve been serving up for ages. Although maybe not as bombastic as what people would hope for, there’s still that definite element of rip-shredding that makes The Lawrence Arms a good band to listen to.

New: Cashmere Cat-With Me

Yes, the king of subtle chilltronica is back, the first taste of original material since he launched his Mirror Maru EP a while back. ‘With Me’ is a beautifully intrepid track that explores itself, like a curious dog. There’s a lot of shit going on here, but the magic of Cashmere Cat is that he doesn’t overblow the production and make it obvious. Even the epic parts, where the drums hit almighty peaks, sound as though they’re just meandering along at a logical pace. A fucking great song, ‘With Me’ is definitely going to be a favourite when Cashmere Cat rocks up for Laneway in February.

Rock Album Reviews, Pt. 1: White Summer + Designer Mutts + Hari & the Karis + Lightsabres + Almighty Rhombus

I’ll admit it. I’m a massive knob. My e-mail has been stockpiling record review request after record review request, and I’ve been sitting here, trying to do something about it. Except, instead of doing stuff about it, I went to a bunch of gigs and focused on not fucking up my new job. But to quote The Big Lebowski, ‘Sometimes, there’s a man…and even if he’s a lazy man-which Ryan most certainly was….aw, I’ve lost my train of thought’. Anyway, here’s a bunch of review of the albums that I thought were pretty badass. Apologies to the artists that I couldn’t give them an original piece, it is simply a matter that I would probably end up in the morgue from finger blisters. Enjoy my shitty descriptions, then go buy these albums.

White Summer-What I’ve Been Waiting For EP

The White Summer are a rock band from Melbourne. If you typed that sentence into Google, you’d probably get an infinite amount of search results, but goddamn if this isn’t one paying attention. Right off the bat, their tunes will worm their way into your ears and set up a permanent residence. If The Black Angels spent some time getting guitar lessons from Dan Auberach, and there was a vocal morphing of Ian Kenny and Matt Bellamy, you could get something with the power and balls of White Summer. If you don’t believe that description, think its lame or whatever, listen to ‘Head in the Sand’, and feel the wrath of wrongness.

Designer Mutts-A Day At the Wauchope Races

Despite the fact that I’d never head of Mauchope before this EP crossed my path (it’s a small town in the Mid-North Coast of NSW, whoever said reading shitty music blogs wasn’t educational), I did know a bit about Mark Spence. The dude was in a band called Royal Chant that I adored and saw a couple times back in Year 10 when I first found out that there was something to listen to besides Mix 106.5. Designer Mutts is a side-project from Royal Chant, and the EP that Mark has released is great. Every track on the EP is a solid rock track, something that you could easily find yourself singing along to down at your local inner West venue. A special standout track is ‘High Low’, a song that will make you want to ride down a highway, top down and shouting at the top of your lungs, so fucking stoked with the track that you’ll completely ignore all the abundantly cliche nature of your behaviour.

SUPER SPECIAL BONUS REVIEW: Royal Chant-New Nowhere. Starting off with an acoustic strumming, the song soon envelopes and matures into a full-blown, catchy-as-REM-on-steroids rock track. Download for free, and enjoy with a side of breakfast in Surry Hills, because with the money you’ll save on good tunes with ‘New Nowhere’, you’ve earned an expensive early-morning treat.

Hari & The Karis-Hari & The Karis

Let’s just say that if you include an old-school Black Keys cover that you completely nail with boogie-woogie infection, then you’ll get an all-star review on my website that means fuck all in the spectrum of things. However, Hari & The Karis, a garage swamp band from New York that put the rock back in defrockingingly badass, have more than enough tunes on hand to back that prematurely biased evaluation. Just take a listen to ’24 Hours’, a song that screams and squirms, bursting out of the normal with a chorus that goes ‘All we have is 24 hours, all we need is a miracle!’. Sound familiar to anyone who’s done an assignment, ever? Anyway, all the songs on these guys self-titled record are spaced out boogie monsters that will cling to your brain like a Facehugger, switching between schizophrenically wild to gooey macabre, and a whole spectrum of other emotions as well. At the least, you’re brain is going to explode all over the room from being wildly entertained. If Velociraptor (the band, not the villain) toured with these guys, the world would probably combust from the charisma.

Lightsabres-Demons

Stoner rock from Sweden has always been a little pet-love of mine. I never knew that much about it, and it seemed hard to delve and find any more  information about it short of moving to Stockholm, but let’s just say Dozer have always been a constant reminder to me of how great that nationalistic sub-genre is. However, the new band Lightsabres has sought to rectify that gaping hole in my life. There’s nothing not to love with Lightsabres. Firstly, their name is from the most badass weapon in Star Wars, something most people that have visited this website will know I love. Secondly, they’re a stoner-rock band from fucking Sweden, something I’ve already established is almost as badass as lightsabres themselves. To clarify, their riffs are a murky mess of slow and toxic menace, choking out the listener like Hulk Hogan in his Black Sabbath-loving days. Finally, Lightsabres do a pretty good (not better, but pretty good) cover of one of my all time favourite songs by one of my all time favourite artists, Ty Segall. Although, a relatively short work, ‘Demons’ is fucking badass.

The Almighty Rhombus-Lucid Living

And to round out my embarrassingly late reviews, its The Almighty Rhombus, a Canadian band with a good name (the rhombus-most underrated 2D shape ever) and even better songs. For an indie rock band, none of these songs are grating, at least for me.They flow nicely from one to another, bright  and melodic enough to not bog themselves down, but with enough lyrical self-deprecation (see: ‘Butane Brain’) and diversity in the music to ensure that their music doesn’t get annoying. If Vampire Weekend and The Strokes teamed up and found their credibility again, you could get something like ‘Lucid Living’. Even if you’re not an indie-rock fan, the song ‘Blank’ is worth a geez.

Album Review: The Pretty Littles-Mash

ImageAt first glance, The Pretty Littles are a scrappy rock n roll band from Melbourne, with nothing more than an adrenaline shot to the brain via some hoarse n coarse rock music. At second glance, and however many fucking glances you want to take, it’s pretty obvious that the first impression isn’t going to change. And thank fuck for that. No one needs another self-indulgent poetic indie-folk band, or a bunch of stadium rocking glam stars. But let it be said, that there’s always room for some dole-bludgin’, beer-swindlin’, chick-chasin’ (and hastily rejected) rock n roll bands. So, if anything, The Pretty Littles are just doing their bit.

Sure, they sound a bit too much like The Vasco Era, but at least they picked those guys as a band to emulate, as compared to other 2000’s bands like JET, Eskimo Joe or, God forbid, The Living End. And anyway, for the most part, The Vasco Era wrote some really fucking solid songs. And for the most part, The Pretty Littles emulate that.

Let’s start with the opener ‘Never Felt Worse’. Now that’s a fucking riot of a tune, from start to finish. If Mad Max wanted to pen a love ballad, he probably would’ve come up with ‘Never Felt Worse’. It’s dirty, hard and grinds like a completely fucked engine on a V8. If modern-day Jack White was pushed face first into a barbeque, their screams could probably be concocted into something like this song. A fucking rip-snorter if you’ve ever heard one.

The rest of the album takes turns repeating the success of ‘Never Felt Worse’ (‘Rubba Arm’, ‘Dingo’) with slightly more tame rock, (‘Om Beach’, ‘Noobie’) and even some power-balladry (‘Your Maker’). Oh, and then there’s the big surprise of the record, ‘The University Blues’, a song that’s motherfucking acoustic, and is easily one of the better songs that The Pretty Littles have ever released. If The White Stripes ‘We Are Going to Be Friends’ was all grown-up and had adopted some nihilism and self-awareness, but lost none of its sighing charm, and then was dropped in the middle of the outer-Melbourne suburbs, you’d have ‘The University Blues’.

Following in the veins of Children Collide and British India, the format and songs of ‘Mash’ are pretty successful and encapsulate the album with more substance than perhaps most were expecting of  The Pretty Littles. However, maybe if the ball-busting punk tunes were more spread out, and another one was added in place of the rockier tunes, it would have allowed ‘Mash’ to be swallowed a little easier.

However, for the most part, The Pretty Littles’ debut is fucking strong, and if you don’t find yourself obsessed with at least one song on the record, then you’ve done something wrong.

Gig Review: Neutral Milk Hotel w/ Superchunk & M Ward

Friday 15th November @ The Forum Theatre, Melbourne

Exactly a week ago, there was the biggest collection of happy hipsters that Melbourne has ever seen. ‘Why’s that?’ you mumble to yourself as you scroll through a myriad of hot singles in your area. Well, Neutral Milk Hotel, the cult indie-folk band from the 90’s was finally touring Australia. There have been waiting over 20 years for this moment, and now it was finally within grasping distance. Jeff Magnum was here, and he was here to party in the most alternative way possible.

Along for the ride were fellow Harvest Festival refugees M Ward and Superchunk. M Ward was the first to hit that stage, and to be concise, his music is nice and mild. There’s a chance you’ll become enthralled, but there was definitely the feeling that people in the audience were just politely nodding along to his music. M Ward’s songs just sort of meld together. They’re definetely intriguing because they’re undoubtedly good songs, but they’re too nice and plain to really immerse yourself in or get excited about. It’s like if Ryan Adams was a better guitar player but a little less balls. If Wayne Coyne become suddenly sane, wouldn’t let go of his acoustic guitar and adopted the personality of your childhood friend that is really nice, but you would never call up to hang out with, you would get something like M Ward and his lukewarm performance.

Next up where Superchunk, the 90’s riff band that never grew up. Fuck they were gooooood! Despite being obviously old as fuck, they persisted with a boundless energy that belied their age, and you couldn’t help but be swept up in their MTV golden-age fervour. They jumped around the stage of The Forum Theatre like it was their mum’s garage, bouncing off the walls and each other. If Weezer had an older brother that was way into punk music, then it would’ve been Superchunk. The gale-force riffs, and astounding energy of the band on stage was almost too invigorating, Superchunk just oozed genuine excitement. The set they played was mostly compromised of new stuff from their most recent release, this year’s ‘I Hate Music’ and 2010’s ‘Majesty Shredding’. However, for the fans that had been sticking around for a live Superchunk show for about a decade and a half, the band ended their set with a double whammy of ‘Slack Motherfucker’ and ‘Hyper Enough’. Superchunk proved that despite being old and bald, they can put on a rock show circa when buying CD’s and Guns N Roses were a thing.

Finally, after all these years, I, the Sydney-sider enjoyed the alt-country originator Jeff Magnum, and his assorted crew of acid-trip extras hit the Forum Theatre. As soon as those unmistakeable opening bars of ‘King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1’ broke out, (quickly followed by Parts 2 & 3) you’ve never seen more wide-eyed grins set under ironic moustaches in your entire life. There was a fucking mosh pit! At a Neutral Milk Hotel Show! WHAT!?

Shaggy, half-mumbled phrases of counter-culture poetry that Jeff Magnum warbles underneath a plethora of unconventional instruments (see: a saw, as in, the thing you cut wood with, played with a bow). Almost every song in the band’s catalogue was given equal presence and respect by both those onstage and off, and every person in the room was having the best of times. Although Magnum’s Sasquatchian looking face shrouded any sort of emotion, his multi-instrumentalist buddy (who looked all to similar to Badger from Breaking Bad) was a amoebic ball of energy, not settling down even for a moment.

The instruments and intrigue flew hard and fast: banjo’s, a brass section, a culmination of percussion…they all came and went as rapidly as Magnum could blast through his catalogue. ‘Song Against Sex’, ‘In The Aeroplane Over The Sea’ and ‘Holland, 1945’ excited the second-greatest reactions from the crowd, possibly because they’re the most upbeat and full songs of the two albums. I say second-greatest, because although the aforementionedhave a beautiful, swelling nature to them that worked so well in the acoustically-formidable Forum Theatre, it was ‘Two-Headed Boy’, and the encore of it’s second part, that were so romantically held by the audience. Performed completely alone by Magnum with his trusty guitar, these songs created a unity to the crowd, as they swayed and moved under Magnum’s spell-bindingly unique shambling voice and strumming.

Although not the best show ever, Neutral Milk Hotel killed it for what they were doing. Half sorrowful, half triumphant, the songs of Neutral Milk Hotel strike a strange dichotomy that few artists could attempt to pull off. However, with a sea of dedicated fans and an inherent musical talent, Neutral Milk Hotel ensured a show that could only be described as enjoyable.

New: ScotDrakula-Break Me Up/No Good! (free download)

One of the most enjoyable Australian bands to listen to as of late (just listen to ‘Burner’ for proof) ScotDrakula combine the sort of lazy garage slackerness with an infection of catchiness not seen since Nirvana wrote pop songs.

Such is the way of their latest, free-download single ‘Break Me Up’. The song burns slower than the fire of love, building and building until its a muddled mess of overridden, scuzzed out fuzz.

The b-side ‘No Good!’ sees the band let loose again in the usual ScotDrakula style, just fucking obliterating all in their path with some badass surfer rock. With a smoking bong in one hand and a guitar in the other, ScotDrakula rock and groove like The Beach Boys on an overload of bad acid.

These two singles just prove how awesome ScotDrakula are. They’ll be playing GoodGod on December 17, supporting Mac DeMarco. Go if you want to be cool.

 

Video: Harmony-Diminishing Returns

As expected Harmony’s new-ish clip is a mix of tranquility and jaw-dropping awesomeness. If the DZ Deathray’s ‘Bloodstreams’ album cover was turned into an artsy, Nick Cave-worshipping gothic masterpiece then you might get something like what Harmony have for their clip for ‘Diminishing Returns’s. Starting out with flashes of black and white and deathly gospel, the clip suddenly morphs into a gnashing sea of cymbals, screeching guitar and captivating images. Basically, you just have to watch this clip.