Gig Review: Bloods + Scotdrakula

Friday 28th November @ Goodgod Small Club

It feels like there’s way too small a crowd assembled for Scotdrakula – these guys are gut-wrenching, heart-in-your-throat good, blasts of toxic garage fury blaring with the kind of ecstasy you can only find at Defqon. I mean, Scotdrakula don’t get up to Sydney much, and missing out on them is like missing out on the zeitgeist. The last time they were in the land of the Big Bridge was for a support slot with Mac DeMarco – which is far too long to wait for what occurred on stage.  They blast off at Apollo-13 levels of ramshackle brilliance, with ‘O’Clock’. Whilst it took a while for movement to flourish onstage, once tracks like “Shazon” and “I Ain’t Going to Sleep”, off their most recent record ‘Scotdrakula‘, pronounced themselves, the group were as fluid as an inflatable tube man out the front of a used car sales lot.

Frontman Matt Neumann was particularly impressive, as he managed to retain Scotdrakula’s signature howling yelp that makes their recording so much goddamn fun to listen to. He also had a weird shuffle manoeuvre that’s probably going to become the next fad, like the Jay Z “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”, or the Soulja Boy “Superman”. The set was just irrepressible energy, steeped in a love of dirty 60’s rock ‘n’ roll, and modern depravity. As the set progressed, things became even more unruly and riveting. The actions on stage were vitriolic and electric, with the final moments on stage being blaring noise, deranged bellowing and guitar thrashing that would make Dimebag Darrell ashamed. It’s almost too easy to headbang and shake ya rump along to Scotdrakula’s songs, and it makes you wonder what kind of deal with the devil these guys initiated to become so damn catchy. It was a mighty shame that the room wasn’t packed to capacity in order to experience one of the better garage bands our fair country has to offer.

Whilst Bloods warm up the stage, Al Grigg and Dion Ford of Palms fame pump a slew of all-female DJ classics (The Breeders, Madonna etc.). The song choices seem appropriate choices considering Bloods are renowned for their anthemic garage anthems led by the vocal powerhouse of Marihuzka Cornelius. Although the beginning of the set suffered through sound issues, Bloods soon had an attentive audience. One of the better aspects of their music is that, unlike most rock/garage/punk music, it doesn’t care to bludgeon, but rather to caress, working with you rather than forcing your attention. In the live setting, this characteristic becomes especially notable, as the bands sweeping melodies fill the room with good ol’ fashioned rock ‘n’ roll family values.

The thing about Bloods is that all three members, MC, Sweetie and Dirk, are so in tune and adept with each other, making for an incredibly tight set and well as allowing for each distinct voice to shine through. Sweetie’s bass lines are as thick as the best egg nog you’ve ever eaten too much of, the guitar riffs are as dirty as anything Joan Jett’s ever spat out. And Dirk Jonker’s pretty much re-enacting the Garth “I like to play” scene from Wayne’s World, Metallica t-shirt gradually seeing more sweat, but grin splashed permanently across his mug.

This kind of telepathic communication and simple desire to play loud rock music means that each single hits with a power and passion to rifle Peter Gaza’s feathers. “Penelope”, “Goodnight” and “Into My Arms” are all especially direct shocks of rock ‘n’ roll thrills.

Bloods finish their euphoric set, and the crowd stands with cheers on their tongues, begging for more. The dance floor holds itself with baited breath, pleading to get their boogie on once more. Unfortunately, old mates Bloods are all out of songs to play. We sucked ’em dry, but they tore us apart as well, with all the fun and fury that we love them for. That’s what happens when Bloods play, and here’s to hoping it won’t be too long before we all get to do it again.

New: Sleepy – Hit And Run 7″

Smoulder away, my wayward songs, it’s a new 7″ from Inner West’s best, Sleepy. If you’re a raging insomniac, to the extent of Christian Bale in The Machinist, then make sure you go out and buy yourself a copy of this 7″. Super dreamy, almost gloppy, dream-pop that is like a cross between Smudge, Guided By Voices and pre-pubescent Jebediah, when they were still yawning and less about rawking.

Unfortunately, the 7″ only runs for two songs, which is a huge shame, because these tracks are rip-roaring bed time enhancers. They are just so full of life, a sincere encasement of beautiful pop, like Sir David Attenborough reciting his dulcet tones over a Built to Spill song. From the spindly guitar lines mixing with the overwrought reverb, softly collecting into a pool of fuzz and teenage woo-oahs, Sleepy conquer our hearts for far too brief a time.

Video(s): Home Travel + Las Tetas + EXEK

Good stuff from homegrown heroes, and a few mates across the pond.

Home Travel – Death Threats

Quick, what’s the most underrated commodity known to mankind? Is it coal, or oil, or coffee? Wrong, it’s DVD’s. These little discs hold cinematic classics such as Gone With the Wind, Citizen Kane and Happy Gilmore, and yet we treat them like they’re uselessly outdated pieces of technology. WHY?!

At least Home Travel, the duo of You Beauty’s Will Farrier, and Eastlink’s Johann Rashid, know what’s up. In their latest musical offering, the guys combine Carribean sultriness with Robert DeNiro danger. Enthralled with oozing synth work, and with the macabre mantra of “I’m sending a death threat to you”, “Death Threats” is a song that makes you want to curl up in the fetal position and just let Home Travel spin their mystical, demon-charged folklore over your corpse.

Las Tetas – Two Marriages

If you’re a fan of Day Ravies, The Friendsters or really anything that’s slow and suffocatingly beautiful, then Las Tetas are the band for you. They’ve just brought out a clip for a track called “Two Marriages”, harmonious vocals twisting around visuals of a blank forest and an epileptic sufferer’s worst nightmare. The clip is a swirling montage of half-horror, half-magnificent allure, as if The Blair Witch Project was crossed with the stranger parts of American Beauty, and everything was bathed in a ferocious pink.

Las Tetas play with Low Life, Housewives and Orion, tonight (29 November) at Valve Bar in Broadway.

EXEK – Replicate

There’s nothing more terrifying than watching a symbol of national pride, such as a Holden, get the absolute shit kicked out of it. But really, that just seems to fit the sound and aesthetic of EXEK, a Melbourne noise/post-punk group that will fuck you right up. Think of sitting next to the exhaust pipe of the Millennium Falcon as it were revving up, and then add a thousand screaming, gnarled synths. You’ve got EXEK. Now, add the image of deranged ‘n’ depraved young un’s taking a sledgehammer to a small, innocent little redback, and you’ve got EXEK’s awesome clip for “Replicate”

New: The Living Eyes – High Standards

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

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

New: Fields – Semaphore

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

Album Review: Bat Nouveau – Metamorphoses

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

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

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

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

Gig Review: Step-Panther & Bearhug

Friday, 21st November @ Goodgod Small Club

For two of my favourite local bands, 2014 has been a career-affirming year. Both Step-Panther and Bearhug have released the best material of their lives, solid,  cohesive sophomore records that accentuate their past tendencies, and showcase their abilities to write fucking great songs. Step-Panther’s ‘Strange But Nice’ has to be one of the albums of the year, with it’s raw, slicing honesty, and Bearhug are most definitely in the Top Tier, with a record that never puts a foot wrong, only engaging in the best walls of guitar haze. Tonight, the two bands shared a stage, and threw down the gauntlet to show that their more than just a bunch of pretty faces.

Point Being, a band with about five gigs under their belt, opened with a set of crushing rock. What’s cooler than being cool? Not ice-cold, but rather this fucking band. Their set was a looming cache of forthright guitars set to their most primitive. On record, Point Being can come across as almost friendly, despite their dry delivery. On stage, even after their frontman had only landed down after running the fucking New York Marathon a mere few hours before, the engaged with the sort of white-knuckle, bared teeth rabid look you’d get from one of the re-born creatures of Pet Semetary. They’re a weird breed of a band that everyone knows but can’t remember, an amalgamation of all the best punk acts of the 1980’s – Mission of Burma injected with a bit more underdog aroma, the kind that’s bred out of the suburbs of Sydney.

Bearhug had their original lineup on stage, and there was a certain extra to the way they played on the night. Their music just seemed to thrive that much harder, and although it took a few songs for their warm fuzz to waft around the room, by the time “Habit Wave” crash landed, the room was effectively enraptured. There was a new energy in the way Bearhug play, whether it be the blur their hands make when thrashing over “Animal”, or the loping romantic elope of “Over the Hill”. Or maybe it was just the fact one of their guitarists, Jesse Bayley’s imitation of Joey Belladona of Anthrax-impression, heaving black hair whipping across the stage like Willow Smith was in the building. Whatever it was, their music, mostly compromised from the gorgeous ‘So Gone’ made for a sincerely gripping show, thrilling even. The guitar blanket that descended made for a calming, zen-like state, like the Dalai Llama formed a band with J Mascis. Some might be cynical as to whether Bearhug would be able to pull off their cocooning sound in a live format, but trapped in the small room of Goodgod with the five gents made for a rewarding show.

Finally, Step-Panther blasted their way onstage with “User Friendly”, “It Came From the Heart” and “Nowhere”. The trio of Zach, Steve and Dan made for one of the loudest sets seen in Goodgod since METZ. They were a flurry of lambasting guitars, shooting chords and cymbal crashes into your ears with the velocity of the Millennium Falcon at light speed. Steve’s guitar is blaring at 11, but the resulting wash of sound is less Spinal Tap and more medieval wasteland out of Evil Dead 3 – cartoonish, bloody and fucking good. One only has to headbang along to “Nowhere”s two solos to see that the band have made a rock equivalent to Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s “Get Up Morning”.

Step-Panther’s set borders on epic, but is injected with too much normal personality to be some bullshit swords ‘n’ sandals saga that Dragonforce might pull together. Almost entirely built upon their fantastic new album, besides a brief, pummelling edition of “Fight Like a Knight”, the band proves that not only have they matured in their song-writing and musical ability, but they’ve also increased their performance. Their drummer, Daniel Radburn, is particularly impressive, showcasing what has to be one of the most batshit crazy drumming skillz seen since Pantera – the man’s arms are like Doctor Octopus’ appendages, a destructive force in eight different directions.

It’s a night to fucking remember. All three bands are excellent, but what’s more, they’re even better live. In considering that these are two of the best local releases of the year, saying that going to see any of these bands is essential to your life is a bit of understatement.

New Noisy Punk: A Place to Bury Strangers + Terrorista + Gazar Strips

If you’re ears aren’t bleeding, it’s not loud enough.

A Place To Bury Strangers – Straight

Awww yisss! A Place to Bury Strangers have returned with an almighty punk beast that’s not sure if it wants to get jiggy on the dancefloor or slice your body up like some contraption out of Saw. ‘Straight’ almost has pop sensibilities, if it wasn’t for the constant guitar withdrawals that keep feeding into the song. A throbbing bass riff that grinds uncomfortably close to sexual, and enough high-power strut that Guitar Wolf would probably challenge APTBS to a walk-off, Zoolander-style if these forces ever met.

Terrorista – Darren Vs. Bag

Toronto is becoming fast-known for it’s damningly great punk music, RE: The Dirty Nil. Terrorista, as their name alludes to, are a cross between a terrorist attack and a wristy, pleasure and pain colliding over and over again. If Trust Punks and Archers of Loaf were involved in a car wreck, their funeral wake would come across as something like the ferocious “Darren Vs. Bag”, a punk tune so furious it doesn’t give a fuck that it could probably place in a reasonable dimension’s Top 40 countdown.

Gazar Strips – Daylight

A couple weeks back, Brisbane’s Gazar Strips put forward a fantastic track called “Lost Holiday”. They’ve backed it up with the other side of the 7″, a disembowelling terror-soaked track called “Daylight”. If you hate the sunlight, and always wondered what it would sound like if Inkubus Sukkubus and Killing Joke were local heroes rather than far-fetched icons of the 80’s, then look no further than the Gazar Strips’ latest.

 

New: Love Signs – Hold You Down

Following on from the post about the EXCELLENT Nite Fields below, Brisbane excels at more than just dirty punk rock and glowing post-punk, namely in their abundance of drop-dead gorgeous guitar-pop. Sometimes considered a bit of a dirty word, bands like Babaganouj, Go Violets and Blank Realm will crack even the hardest truckie outta Bankstown.

Love Signs are a pretty new band, with their latest “Hold You Down” going even further than the usual nod to the Go-Betweens. Instead, they seem to be longing for a Patti Smith-meets-Annie Lennox-meets-Marianne Faithful. It’s polite but stunning music, something that wouldn’t have been out of place at a pinnacle scene in a John Hughes movie.

New: Nite Fields – You I Never Knew

Nite Fields are the sort of band that makes your heart jump into your throat incredibly quickly. Sure, it’s a bit of a health hazard, but when post-punk is made this beautifully, the thumping beat of your vital organs in your oesophagus becomes secondary to your primary motive of soaking up this bloody great band.

Newly signed to the awesome label felte Records, who have also put out Sydney dudes Mysteries, White Hex and Standish/Carlyon, “You I Never Knew” is part New Order, circa-Low Life, Power Corruption & Lies, inserted with some of that blank drawl that makes Brisbane one of the greatest musical cities on the planet right now. Although covered in glossy sheen, Nite Fields still manage to show through a bit of a decrepit sneer in their lyrics and delivery. Worth the free download? Only as much as a platinum edition of “Terminator 2”!