Interview: Shining Bird

Shining Bird

A deep voice that makes the velvet vocals of James Earl Jones quiver in jealousy. Shimmering arrangements that stretch further than the Nullarbor. A video clip that features Steve Irwin-defying snake-wrangling. Who could compile such a completely incredible resume? You bet your arse that I’m talking about Shining Bird.

If all that wasn’t enough, The Bird have been kicking goals elsewhere. They’ve nabbed a FBi Radio Song of the Year nomination for their new track “Rivermouth” (vote here), played a killer show at The Union in Newtown over the weekend, and are going to be heading up two shows over the next two weeks: The Heritage Hotel in Bulli on Thursday, 26th November (w/ Tiny Ruins and Flowertruck, tix here) and Fairgrounds Festival in Berry on the 5th of December (w/ Father John Misty, Royal Headache, Unknown Mortal Orchestra + more, tix here).

Before all this goes down, I got the opportunity to pry open the skull of frontman Dane Taylor, Ray Liotta in Hannibal style, and ask about lengthy tunes, Footrot Flats,

R: Your new song “Rivermouth” is one of the shorter singles you guys have released, even though it comes in at four and a half minutes. Are you working on compressing your songs, or is that just a coincidence?

D: I think it’s just a coincidence on this occasion. Generally our songs take a long time to unfold. We don’t really ever know until the last mix, exactly how long the song will be.

R: What attracts you to writing those longer songs?

D: It just seems to work out that way. We like to cover a lot of different terrain during a song.

R: Longer songs seem to be having a renaissance, with Gang of Youths and Roland Tings being two of the standouts bands of 2015. Why do you think audiences are turning back to the longer, in depth songs, especially at a time where everything feels like it needs to be compact and short to keep people’s attention.

D: I feel like I must be pretty out of touch with what audiences are into at present. I would have thought attention spans were still at an all time low. That’s nice to hear; perhaps people are starting to crave those deeper experiences again.

R: The song sees a return to that classic lush Shining Bird sound. With the upcoming album, are there any surprises for fans of the usual Shining Bird sound? 

D: There will be quite a few surprises but it’s unmistakably a Shining Bird record.

R: “Rivermouth” packs in a lot of unconventional instruments, including that string section. Are there any other sounds and instruments you look forward to bringing into the Shining Bird fold?

D: We have definitely expanded the palette. Lots of orchestral instruments and didgeridoo

R: You guys also released an awesome t-shirt in conjunction with the single, with Dog from Footrot Flats on the cover. What’s your history with that comic?

D: We loved the comics as kids, and were inspired after a recent revisit of the film to do our own spin on that classic character. We gave ‘Dog’ wings as we knew he’d be a bird fan.

R: Did you have to get permission from Murray Ball?

D: All he wanted was a t-shirt!


R: Triple J have been doing a thing called Aus Band T-Shirt Day, where they encourage people to wear Australian Band T-Shirts. What are your thoughts on that?

D: It’s a great way to promote and support Australian music! Such a good idea. ..Did we mention we have some new shirts for sale? [Interjection: You can buy ’em here if you so desire]

R: You’ll be finishing up the single launches for Rivermouth at Fairgrounds Festival. What do you reckon about a big festival coming to a regional town like Berry?

D: I think it can be really good for those small towns, just as long as the festival-goers clean up after themselves. Lets keep Australia beautiful! The more quality boutique festivals outta the big cities the better!

R: It’s looking like you’ll have quite a big stage to play on. Is that a relief from the days where you’d have all six of you jammed onstage?

D: Make that seven! We just welcomed the sax maestro Michael Slater to the bird, so yes – im sure we will be loving that bit of extra room on stage. Although Al (guitar) always seems to make the most of any sized stage, usually by climbing all over the PA or jumping into the crowd.

R: Finally, Fairgrounds has got such a crazy lineup. Is there anyone on there you’re particularly excited to see?

D: The lineup is quality! Really excited to see Father John Misty & Royal Headache just to name a few..


New: Us the Band – And I Will


How did you spend your twentieth birthday? Tied up in a dominatrix chamber after downing a bottle of Jager? Yeah, me too. Except my dominatrix chamber was called Black Bear Lodge, and the dominatrix in question was actually two people: Nick and Jesse. And they were in a band. Called Us the Band. But I did drink a bottle of Jager. That part is true.

Anyway, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the beginning of another brutally mundane year full of DJ battles at corporate retreats. Us the Band are incredible: short, fast songs played way too loud. Also, lots of head banging. Lots and lots and lots of head banging. They unfortunately set a standard of breaking in a birthday that I don’t think I’m going to be able to top.

Anyway, this formidable twosome released a track called “Fallout” last year that made my breakfast shoot through me like I’d just swallowed a dozen flat whites in a row. They’ve been sitting idle for a while since then, but that’s only because they’ve been in the middle of some BUSINESS TIME! Us the Band have just signed with Rice is Nice Records, one of Australia’s finest, and home to Straight Arrows, The Laurels, SPOD and Richard in Your Mind.

They’ve also been spending a lot of time working in a video production studio, crafting a clip of Spielbergian film wizardry to accompany their new-ish song “And I Will”. Expect semi-nudity, strobe lights, and more masks than that orgy in Eyes Wide Shut. Oh, and head banging. Lots and lots and lots of head banging.

New: Nutrition – Advice Needed


I love Nutrition so much, that I nearly went to Bondi to go see him. BONDI! Can you believe it? BONDI! Oh, what a time would have been had. And now, I’m almost wishing I did go, because then I would’ve been privy to this new jam, “Advice Needed”!

Dredged from a forgotten military laboratory on the edges of the Mariana Trench comes “Advice Needed”. So dark that it could have only come from a subterranean lair, “Advice Needed” is a dark piece of electronica that has been emphatically tampered with by Mr Hyde. Nutrition’s latest thumps with a demonic swagger.

New: Primo! – Bronte Blues

I found out about this band courtesy of Teenage Hate, which is a program on Triple R which works as a far greater source of new and good music than this blog could ever hope for. It’s named after the Reatards album! How awesome is that!?

I found about Primo! after scanning the playlist, and seeing someone comment something along the lines of “Hell yeah! That Primo! band is rad!”. Hey, if you can’t trust random Facebook commenters, who can you trust? Anyway, their debut track is called “Bronte Blues”, which is fair enough, because all of the Eastern Suburbs should be wiped off the map.

Primo! make sparkling post-punk in the vein of a schizophrenic Mark E. Smith shuffling down a dark alleyway, constantly looking over his shoulder with a total expression of panic smothered on his creased face.  Good? Great!

New From QLD: Sydney2000 + Donny Love + DRAGGS

a2087001811_10This heat has made it possible to empathise with our cousins to the North. May your air conditioners never break and your football teams only face each other in a Grand Final once:

Sydney2000 – _

Are they referring to our postcode, or to the greatest bloody Olympics of all fucking time? Cathy Bloody Freeman, am I right?

Turns out these guys are from Brisbane, and named their debut EP an underscore, which…fuck, is that an insult? I don’t know? Is Sydney an underscore to Brisbane’s greatness? I wouldn’t disagree with that, Brisbane’s great.

Anyway, who cares, just listen to the bloody EP. A free download of sharp, punchy garage punk, that sounds like Ausmuteants, Witch Hats or maybe The Wipers if they were signed to Flying Nun. When Sydney2000 get completely jilted is when things get exciting: take “Wink”, when the vocals feel like a washing machine with a mental patient and a guitar trapped inside. Round and round and round they go, crazed blasts spinning at the pace of a nice dry finish.

Donny Love – Sultry Visions EP

Cramps-loving swamp rock that opens with a song called “Cosmic Fuckfest 07”, Donny Love sound like they’re pretty much The North’s version of The Pinheads, or Los Tones. If they can prove they’ve got the live show to boot, well then it looks like there will be one hell of a three-way death match coming up on the horizon.

But that’s for the future to worry about. Right now, its time to lie down with some jaunty guitar ripped straight from a Halloween party in Hawaii. This EP is a horror soundtrack bloated with sand and beer, a manic interpretation from a bygone and happier era.


Filthier than The Islander Hotel come Schoolies week, Gold Coast’s DRAAGS prove that kids in Year 12 with fake ID’s and a desire for binge drinking goon aren’t the dirtiest things on Australia’s most terrifying strip. Their debut EP is packed with barrages of lo-fi shredding, each song mere minutes of full-blown garage rock tornados. Every track attempts to out-do the last – harder, faster, let’s beat them over the head even HARSHER this time.

Press play, you won’t regret it, but your bleeding fingers will. They’ll be begging your brain to stop huffing on this gruesome garage punk schlock that keeps beating your hands to a pulp, but you’ll ignore it once more, press play and repeat that brutal cycle until you’re dead and grinning.

New: So Pitted – Rot In Hell


So Pitted Band Photos

Some people think Sub Pop kind of went a bit soft when they signed Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty and Beach House. I think they’re forgetting the fact that this label has been home to some of the most batshit crazy bands of the last 30 years. And not just stuff like Mudhoney, feedtime, or Nirvana’s first (and best album). No, let us remember recent skull-poppers like METZ, Pissed Jeans, and Melbourne’s own Deaf Wish. When it comes to rock n roll that grinds your head in the pavement, Sub Pop can be trusted.

Enter So Pitted. Hold your horses, they are probably named after a dumb video on the Internet, but they are so much more than a catch phrase uttered by a grommet. “Rot In Hell” is loaded with an acidic sneer, rock dipped in a vat of the stuff that turned Bruce Banner into a green psychopath. So Pitted sound like they’re mutants yelling from a sewer, clawing at the ceilings, taunting their eventual arrival. It’s a death march, and they’re laughing, because you’re fucking next. George A. Romero would be so proud.


Album Review: Wild Honey – Wild Honey EP

EP Cover ArtPersonal anecdote that almost no one will find appealing: I used to work alongside Thom Moore from Wild Honey. And by work, I mean, I did about 3-4 days of work experience at Mojo’s, the record store/bar in Wynyard. After two weeks, my Mum told me that I had to stop going to Mojo’s because I needed to concentrate on my HSC. Even though that was a bit of a lost cause  (the mystery mark speaks for itself), I had fun flipping through records in a basement. A huge shipment of LP’s had come in at that time, and Thom specifically asked that if any surf records came through, I should throw them his way. After finally getting to hear Wild Honey, the craving for these surf records all makes perfect sense now. I mean, there’s a goddamn beach on the front cover, in case you’re bad at picking up subtle hints.

This EP is a strong fever dream of adoration for late 60’s rock and pop, particularly Love and The Velvet Underground. The hallmarks are there, from harmonica solos, to languid guitars, and lyrics that reach to the sort of eternal summer that only exists in the universe of Grease Lightning. Wild Honey work well with a pop-rock that isn’t just summery, but puts the writers behind the Coke jingles to shame. A song like “This Time” works as a cool down just as well as wiping a VB on your forehead, and “Coming Home” sounds less like a desire to go to one place than to be entirely transported to 60’s era California. “Eye to Eye” stands out particularly, as just being an on-point pop song. It’s well-written, catchier than one of Ben Lee’s diseases, and its got a ripper video about aliens and murder, so everyone’s a winner, right?

Although only four tracks long, this EP shows a lot of promise for Wild Honey. The songs are unforced and come quite easily, something a lot of bands who try and re-create songs removed multiple times from their generation can struggle with. Owning a collection of surf records that could kill someone when toppled over surely doesn’t hurt. For a day like today, in which a step outside turns your face into the Red Skull, maybe sit indoors and enjoy Wild Honey’s debut.

Wild Honey play tonight at The Union Hotel, a free show with Bearhug and Shining Bird.

PREMIERE: Yes, I’m Leaving – Discard EP


I first discovered Yes, I’m Leaving through a Reacharound from our dearly departed mates at Polaroids of Androids. Since copping a free download of “Four Chorder”, my dedication to Yes, I’m Leaving has been unwavering; they have got to be one of the most intense and unnerving bands in all of Sydney. Every time they play, the release on display is carnal.

It’s been two years since the release of Mission Bulb, the album that “Four Chorder” was taken from, but the band are re-visiting those sessions with a four-track EP of songs that were left off the record. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s hard to figure out why, because each of these songs is the equivalent of Hannibal Lecter peeling your eye out of its socket for a mid-arvo snack. “Discard Your Heart” and “The Thing” stick out as particularly brutal and venomous pieces of work in the YIL canon, blaring as antagonistically as any of the best stuff they’ve done.

However, in the words of YIL’s frontman Billy Burke, it was just a matter of logistics that these songs were left off Mission Bulb. “They were all part of what we wanted on the album but it became apparent that the songs we had lined up for it were a piece that worked as a full length…they just got steamrolled by the stuff that hung on to their sonic tail.”

Although the songs on this Discard EP haven’t seen the light until now, it’s a token to Yes, I’m Leaving’s talent that even the B-sides can cause someone to chew their fingernails to a stump. These aren’t forgotten tracks, just hit singles that never made it.

I cannot recommend any of Yes, I’m Leaving’s material enough – if you see a copy of a record from their catalogue, snap it up, hold it close, and claw at the face of anyone who even remotely looks like they might take it away from you. Furthermore, their live show is bombastic – they’ll be playing the Petersham Bowling Club next Friday, the 27th, with Reverend Jemima and Clive of India. Not only is this an opportunity to watch one of Sydney’s best in action at one of the finest locations in this godforsaken city, but the gig will also act as a platform to discuss mental health in a casual manner, a topic that’s very close to the band, and myself. If you or someone you know would like to freely talk about mental health issues with people that aren’t snoopy counsellors, but rather just a few legends in a band who know firsthand what they’re talking about, then come down, and check it out.

New From Sydney: Richard Cuthbert + Conrad Greenleaf + Grandsister + Shearin’

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Sydney sucks, but these bands don’t. I’m terrible at segues:

Richard Cuthbert – Swimming Pool

Richard Cuthbert, the former frontman of the fearless Nightwalkers, and current Richard In Your Mind shredder, has struck out on his own again with “Swimming Pool”. Whilst usually known for more psych-leaning jams, Cuthbert has obviously been spinning some 90’s slow burners, with “Swimming Pool” drawing some blood from You Am I, Something For Kate, and Bluebottle Kiss. For that, Cuthbert gets an A+.

However, he loses serious points for not promoting proper pool safety. Kids are going to watch this, okay? They’re gonna see a bunch of lunatics throwing each other into a DEATH TRAP, and think they can do the same! Not to mention the complete disregard for hygiene: someone dropped a snag in the cesspit, and you just KNOW they picked it up after the camera stopped rolling. Oh, and don’t think we’ve forgotten about the goon in the snorkel…nice try being a role-model! These next few summer months are going to be a continual state of paranoia, THANKS CUTHBERT!

Conrad Greenleaf – Modern Emotions

Another solo outing from the Richard in Your Mind camp, Conrad Greenleaf has released not just a single, but a whole album! Modern Emotions didn’t receive a lot of fanfare when it was released a few weeks back, and that’s a crock of shit, because this album is paradise. Pina-colada, Kirk Hammet-as-your-butler, John Belushi-as-your-best-friend paradise.

There’s a whole bunch of stuff on this album, a real platter: you’ve got tongue-in-cheek songs you can bring to yoga (“Conrad’s Back”, “Soundguy”), weird instrumentals from the strangest parts of the galaxy (“The Riff”, “Positive Feeling Pt. 1 & 2”) and “My Oporto Baby”, which is a track that should be thrown up next to The Castle and Gough Whitlam’s sculling abilities as national treasures that the rest of the world wouldn’t understand.

Grandsister – Headlights

Hedge Fund made one of the better indie rock tunes of this year with “Look Who’s Back”, however their frontman Will Colvin also goes under the electro-pop guise Grandsister. Reared on the best material of Royksopp and New Order (Melody A.M and Power, Corruption and Lies, FYI), “Headlights” swaps from minimal stings of keyboard to a racing thump, all the while thoroughly grounded by the incredible guest vocals of Sarah Belkner.

Shearin’ – Sydney 

“There’s something lately that I’ve come to see/ you’re not a great place to be/ Sydney, why are you in your decline?”. 25 seconds is all it takes to come to this conclusion, and look, I’m surprised it took that long. Sydney sucks right now – the only people you see out and about these days either want to bash your head in, or a bunch of yuppies that’ll slit your throat and then flip your family for the life insurance.

Shearin’, formerly Bad Jeep, have moved into a bid more a taut post-punk territory like a pissed off Peter Bibby. A single guitar gritting its teeth, angrier than a Bulldogs supporter in bad traffic. Despite the pile of shit heaping up, “Sydney” stands up with defiance, proudly calling a piece of shit and piece of shit, and slots Shearin’ in well with other minimal local punks like HANNAHBAND.

Album Review: Little Desert – Saeva


Sit down. Don’t bring anything with you, you won’t need it. Just the bare essentials. Strap yourself in. No, really, ground yourself so that you are physically unable to move. Get comfy, you’ll be in this position for precisely 35 minutes and 29 seconds. That’s how long it takes for Little Desert’s debut album to wash over you. Peaks, troughs, all of it – it’s a musical lobotomy, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest-style. It’s the most brilliantly theatrical album of 2015, and you heard it here first.

After gently teasing this album for the past six months, with the two singles “Captive” and “Resurrection” causing a bit of a stir, Little Desert have finally dropped Saeva, and it’s fearsome. They could coat the album in serrated blades loaded with disease –  one prick and you’re a dead man – but it wouldn’t make the record any more dangerous. It rears and plunges, shakes its mane, refusing to be anything less than an immersive, devouring work of art.

The first thing to notice about Saeva is how ghoulish this thing is. And not in the sort of Addams Family, jokey way; boo, gotcha hahaha. No, there is the definitive scent of a corpse that haunts this album. The next noticeable aspect is that Little Desert prove they are the lords of the crescendo, continually building songs from rubble into spectres that chase the viewer into dark corners. The ghosts are there, hammering on the doors to come out; they’re embedded in the cries of Esther Rivers, the panicked guitar stampedes, the tense synth riffs. Everything is buckling under pressure, running at a desperate pace, trying to escape. Take “Captive”: it rises, slowly, slowly, begins to scurry, in a zig zag, menacing repetition one moment, blistering guitar solos the next. It reverts back and forth, dizzying and demonic; by its finale, Little Desert have you begging for mercy AND more.

That intention of crescendo is present in almost all of Saeva. It’s not always the threatening blare of “Captive” – “Sinner” and “She’s Alive” wander into murder ballad territory, whilst “Soothsayer” contains a psych tint. But when Little Desert hit their grim stride, that’s when they’re at their peak. Take “Resurrection”, which marches from a funeral pace to a gallop, led by the charging Rivers. Her bellow stands commanding, directing the frantic synth arpeggios, and diving boulders of guitar into the a finale even better than Hellraiser, and that movie had hooks ripping off every bit of a guy’s flesh!

Little Desert have always impressed with their boldness, and they haven’t disappointed with Saeva. It’s tense, and tragic, and when they scratch their nails across the whiteboard, Little Desert light up, especially when Rivers’ thundering roar takes centre stage. It’s theatrical, huge and dense, a record you can be suffocated and squashed by, and not mind in the slightest.

You can grab Saeva from the it Records Bandcamp here. Little Desert are doing a few launches up the East Coast real soon: Saturday, 21st at The Tote in Melbourne (w/ Teuton, Mollusc and Half Mongrel), the 26th at Blackwire Records (w/ Ela Stiles and Whitney Houston’s Crypt) and a hell of a party in Brissy at the Crowbar on the 28th (w/ OCCULTS, Last Chaos, Pleasure Symbols and Death Church)