Album Review: Five Years of Bedroom Suck Records Compilation

This is less an album review, and more so a praising, or an ode, to one of the finest record labels in the land. Y’see, right now, it seems super easy to form a record label. There’s plenty examples of a few mates with an idea to release decent music and following through on it. Born to Lose Records, Strong Look, it Records, and Sonic Masala are all solid examples of labels that have sprung up recently and done a fine job of showcasing some amazing music. To think that  the likes of Tape/Off, The S-Bends and Weak Boys wouldn’t have been showcased to the public is a crime not even worth thinking about.

But these labels only exist because that blueprint was set in place by a brave few. To be precise, the now-institutions of Rice is Nice, RIP Society, Anti-Fade and Aarght! Records have all been incredible towards cultivating the blossoming independent scene that Australia has on offer. But Bedroom Suck particularly stand out because they are from Brisbane. And whilst one can stand here and point to the myriad of amazing Brisbane bands, such as Gazar Strips, Cured Pink, Multiple Man, and Kitchen’s Floor, there wasn’t that attention or even relative interest in what Brisbane had to offer. Bedroom Suck Records changed all that. Started as just a small-time operation, Bedroom Suck has shone a light on some of the most gorgeously repulsive bands, living in the underbelly and oft-ignored corner of Australia.

The amount of support that Bedroom Suck Records has provided for Brisbane and Australian music, is undeniably amazing, and a compilation of un-released stuff from some of the highlights of the label is a goddamn national treasure. Not only because of the fact that Bedroom Suck has been the home to some of the brightest talent to explode this year, but also because of the sheer diversity and on-point nature of the label as a home.

That diversity becomes immediately clear when comparing some of the artists on the compilation. There is the bludgeoning Birthday Party-esque gravel spit of Slug Guts with “Dealin’ in the Dark’, a five-minute representation of what it probably feels like to drown in a new one from Angel Eyes, and a contradiction of furious reverb and bored snarl on Martyr Privates “Someone’s Head”, which is like Jason Pierce fronting Sonic Youth during their ‘Confusion is Sex’ era. Primitive Motion take harmonies and stretch them out to their most delicate, and arrange a beautiful, post-modern tale of tragedy in the process.

Then there’s a gallantly primitive take from Per Purpose (is anyone surprised?), and a sci-fi escapade of glitch-ridden horror and pleasure ridding side-by side via Peter Escott’s “The Missing O”. Circular Keys appear with a “pleasant” piano ditty and Australian drawl combo, followed by a minute of arcade melodies. And Ela Stiles, of Bushwalking fame, who released her own a-cappella record earlier this year, remains in astonishing beauty mode, on her contribution “Misplaced Charity”, which is like if Sinead O’Connor got herself trapped in an opium den, and came out with something ten times as amazing as anything she’s written before. Silly Joel & the Candymen take a turn with some actually decent Aussie hip-hop, and Terrible Truths churn forward with their usual brand of alienating post-punk that’s like The Fall being chewed alive by stark melodies. Full Ugly and Totally Mild, welp, they are just at their poppy best. If you feel like a good time, call 1800-Totally Mild, or +614-Full-Ugly for some never fail pick-me-ups.

But it is the standouts of the contributions of Blank Realm, Boomgates and Love of Diagrams that are the head-turners on this album. Funnily, all three artists have had wildly different career turns in 2014. Boomgates broke up, or went on hiatus, or just generally disappeared, Love of Diagrams returned after an absence that can only be described as too long, and Blank Realm finally got the recognition they deserve on one of the finest albums of 2014. Each of these tracks, although wildly different in style, managed to succinctly encapsulate what Bedroom Suck Records do best – weird, original and forward-thinking.

Bedroom Suck Records is a label that puts art ahead of commerce, and from that, has ironically drawn considerable success. It’s a label that takes its chances, but always manages to push through with the strange and amazing. Why not release an album where the band make their own instruments? Why not fund an album of terrifying sludgy punk? And why not invest in some random genre that wasn’t even popular when The Go-Betweens were doing it? Because Bedroom Suck Records give a shit. And if they hadn’t, then there’s a fair chance that none of us would have either.

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