A Comprehensive List of Everything I’ve Forgotten To Write About in the Last Three Months. Pt. 1 Punk/Post-Punk/Experimental

 

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After a three month mild mental breakdown, during which I decided that writing about music was the devil’s work, I’ve come back to furiously type hyperbolic phrases that make no sense. Lucky you. Anyway, there’s been a heap of music that I missed while I was busy having a sook:

Punk/Post-Punk/Experimental

Tyrannamen – Self-Titled

Seriously, watching this band was the reason I decided I wanted to write about bands again. Seeing them play, going home, buying and then smashing the record to within an inch of its vinyl life, I felt compelled to tell other people.  It’s hard to listen to this album and not want to reach out to whoever’s nearest, sit them down, and regale them with this unflinching rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece. If there’s one band you should listen to from this list, make it these guys.

 

Twinrova – Elitist

A brooding goth sneer from Sydney, makes you want to sit in the rain and spit on people as they hurry by, knowing that they’ll never notice because of drizzle

Dry Finish – String Me Along

Dry Finish sat at the top of the pile as far as new punk bands in Sydney. Listening to them is a lot like how I imagine what it would be like to be strapped down to a surgical table in the basement of a scientist who scored his medical degree through the deep web and repeated viewings of A Clockwork Orange. Suck shit if you missed them before their guitarist moved overseas, these guys were the best.

California Girls – Desire

Melancholy drum-machine and drone combo from Canberra. If you’re in a wrist-slitting mood, chuck this on.

Sex Tourists – Birthday Party

The highlight from their three song debut EP, and possibly one of the saddest tracks I’ve ever listened to. That opening line never fails to reduce me to a sobbing pile of shit. These guys would probably be Roland S. Howard’s favourite band if he was still kicking.

Black Cab – Uniforms

Ambitious, thrusting electronica with a post-punk sheen, the latest from Black Cab propels itself on a stirring rhythm that almost makes you feel something close to hope. Turn off the alarm, turn off the phone, close the blinds, and sink into thiiiiiiiis.

Spike Fuck – GUTS

I feel the same way about this song as I did when I heard “Shivers”, “Wide Open Road” and “Dream Baby Dream” for the first time. It’s a quiet epic that plunges into the heart cavity and claws your insides into the kind of mess the cops find at a crime scene and sends the first responder into the trauma ward.

Wives – Devoted to You

Brutally underrated Canberra band with a post-punk record that stabs and stabs and stabs and stabs and stabs and stabs. The chanting vocals, the whirring jabs of guitar, the toe-curling melodies, it’s the whole fuckin’ package.

Publique – Wax/Suffer

Total Control and A Place to Bury Strangers clash on a surging tidal wave of feedback and blood-curdling screams.

School Damage – Lift Off

In an alternate, much cooler reality, this is the theme song to The X-Files.

Nite Fields – Voyeur

Paranoid and tense newness from one of Brisbane’s best. Three and a half minutes of subterranean, pitch black post-punk, occasionally slashed with fiery shouts and sharp guitar.

Miles Brown – Seance Fiction

I was halfway through a mammoth album review of this record when I lost my mind and decided that writing was a huge waste of time, and the review never came out. I should’ve finished it though, so maybe others could have maybe found out about it if they accidentally clicked on this site. Seance Fiction is incredibly complex, and infinitely worth jumping into. It’s dark, dense and murky; once you dive in, you can’t leave.

Muscle Memory – Altar Boy / Underground

This thing burns, like wrapping your hand around the wrong end of a soldering iron.

HANNAHBAND –  29ER

Great earnest emo with a punk slant that reminds me of what it was like to be 15 and think everything in the world was running against you. Sweats like a teenager who’s stuck on a family holiday and hasn’t had a cigarette in four days.

Ace Romeo – Hyperdrive

Should’ve done this ages ago, but this album rules, yeah? It’s pretty much a lost John Carpenter soundtrack, back when he was making badass movies with Kurt Russell.

Clever – Your Eyesore’s Sweet

Punk rock done in the style of a George A. Romero movie. It’s a chainsaw shoved down your throat sort of thing.

Bad Lifers – Shelf Life

Like the Tyrannamen album, this was recorded ages ago, and has only been released recently, if you count November of last year as recent. Anyway, this album is to scuzzy punk what I am to laziness.

Whitney Houston’s Crypt – Hatofold Boyfriend

Fuck me.

 

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Top 10 Australian Albums of 2015

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I’ve listened to a fair bit of music this year. A decent amount, I’d say. Some of it was old, some of it was new, some of it was shit, and some of it was really fucking shit. But for the most part, it was really, really, really fucking good.

And at the pinnacle of it all was music from this country – there were plenty of things to be ashamed of Australia about this year, but music wasn’t one of ’em. After years of ignorance and cultural cringe, trying to echo the charts of the US and the UK, Australia produced three globe-conquering bands that feel like they could have only been birthed right here. Regardless of how you feel about their music, the fact that Courtney Barnett, Tame Impala and Hiatus Kaiyote wrestled the spotlight back to the land of Vegemite and lockout laws can only be a good thing. At best, it’s a chance to show how Australia can excel whilst working outside the lines of what is considered traditional pop music, and at worst, you can be a little bit patriotic when it comes to these fucking year end lists.

None of the aforementioned artists actually feature in my favourite albums of this year – the records were objectively good, but I’ve never been at the pub, heard “Let It Happen”, and turned to my best mate with a wide grin. However, I respect the fact that they’ve gotten the world’s attention to Australian music again, and now that we’ve got their eyeballs in a Clockwork Orange binge position, we suffocate them with as much of the good stuff as possible. Such as:

10. Dick Diver – Melbourne, Florida

Melbourne, Florida holds plenty of reasons as to why you should be showing Dick Diver to everyone you know. Even without mentioning their magnum opus Calendar Days, shoving songs like Waste the Alphabet” or “Tearing the Posters Down” should be high on your priority list of songs to put on when someone asks “What should we listen to?”. There’s a narrative tilt to the way that Dick Diver write songs that’s unmatched amongst their contemporaries. If anyone claims that jangle-pop is too disaffected and obsessed with the mundane, smack them sideways with your copy of this record, and showcase the emotional weight in songs like “Boomer Class” to silence them effectively.

Full Review of Dick Diver’s Melbourne, Florida

9. Bad//Dreems – Dogs At Bay

If Dogs At Bay had been released during the period that Bad//Dreems are emulating, then it would’ve been one of Au-Go-Go’s most prized possessions. As it happens, Dogs At Bay came out in 2015, and introduced a whole new generation of kids to the glory of pub rock. Beer-soaked riffs, a howl that reaches all the way to the loner coughing up their life savings at the pokies, and a wide swathe of material that nodded to folks like GOD, Coloured Balls, The Go-Betweens and The Angels, Bad//Dreems pounded the listener with an affecting album of impressive rock.

Full Review of Bad//Dreems’ Dogs At Bay

8. Palms – Crazy Rack

Outside of Sydney, it seemed like this record was a bit ignored. Which is a huge shame, because it’s full of rock gems that span from the riff hurricane of “Bad Apple”, to the Cheap Trick-spiritual successor “Thoughts of You”, to “Sleep Too Much” a face-melter that rivals the power of The Ark of the Covenant. There were also pleasantly surprising softer moments that took Palms away from being pigeon holed as a band that could only do garage-rock. When you feel a bit shit, and needed that quick fix of heartfelt headbangers that you’re not ashamed to belt out off-key and shred an air guitar to, crank Crazy Rack. 

Full Review of Palms’ Crazy Rack

7.  MAKING – High Life

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MAKING were the band that took me by surprise most this year. I’d never seen their live show before, and had only really glanced through their previous singles. Which is how “Come 2 Me” hit me so hard, Thor’s hammer splicing open my skull, caving in expectations. Indeed, all of High Life has that effect of being ripped apart from the inside by a pack of raging rhinoceros. Over the course of a half-hour, MAKING pulverises minds to dust, leaving you shivering, cold and begging for more. Their approach to music – thundering drums ploughing into a swelling bruise of menace until the whole fucking thing explodes – is exceptional. Furthermore, the sheer musicality of MAKING is terrifying: HOW DO THEY MAKE THE SOUNDS THEY ARE MAKING? How do they force their record to appear like the apocalypse? It’s complexity completely removed of pretension, just bucking insanity stripped to its most batshit crazy.

Full Review of MAKING’s High Life

6. Heart Beach – Heart Beach

Hobart’s Heart Beach are an unassuming bunch; they use what they need, and nothing more. Their cover for their album is just a heart and a palm tree – nothing fancy, just enough to let the kids know what they’re getting. Musically, they’re just as sparse: mild guitar lines, feathering drums, the occasional burst of noise, and lightly duetting vocals that miser around bum-puffing, waiting, and the small pleasures you hold dear when you work in office.

And with that simple tool of simplicity, everything that Heart Beach quietly whisper is a boom. When you’re a band like Heart Beach, loaded with inherent sorrow, its the little things that count the most. This is an album focused purely on the little things, and for that, this unassuming record has become one of the most powerful of the year.

5. Gang of Youths – The Positions

The accompanying story to The Positions makes it clear that it was always an album that was going to be made. It’s a testament to the band’s ability that what they have made is so good. Pivoting between enormous waves of Springsteen arena-ready rock and intimate moments  that could easily belong on a Joni Mitchell record, the thing that holds these changes together is frontman Dave Le’aupepe bare honesty. Put in the same position, there’s no fucking way I’d be comfortable sharing  ideas like suicide, critical levels of self-doubt and watching the person you love the most slowly dying in front of you. But that’s what Gang of Youths do, and its a jaw-dropping experience of an album because of that.

The Positions isn’t just an album that’s captivating because of its story, or because of how a person is telling the story, or because of the musical accompaniment, but a sum of these amazing parts. Do yourself a favour, and sit down with this album. Don’t get distracted, don’t listen to just the singles, listen to all of it. By the end of that run-time, if you’ve done it properly, The Positions will have hit you like a fucking train has ploughed through your soul, and you’ll be thankful for it.

Full Review of Gang of Youths’ The Positions

4. Roland Tings – Roland Tings

Here’s a good reason why Year End Lists matter – without Mess + Noise’s ‘Best Songs of 2013’ article, I never would’ve found Roland Tings. Since hearing “Tomita’s Basement”, I’ve been devoted to everything he’s put out. It’s just the smoothest music in the land right now, exotic soundscapes made by a bonafide genius.

Roland Tings’ debut is one that just keeps on giving, whether it be the hyperactive, salivating “Pala”, which sounds like Tings recorded synths over the best pool party ever, the cavernous “Cultural Canal” or the tantalising squelch of “Coming Up For Air”. Roland Tings made a party record that is universal, a protege extension of Todd Terje’s thrilling music. It is so easy to get lost in this album, but when its a record this flamboyant, diverse and fun, you’ll never want to get out.

Full Review of Roland Tings’ Roland Tings

3. Power – Electric Glitter Boogie

Putting on Electric Glitter Boogie, you get hit with the same feeling that accompanied people hearing Raw Power and Teenage Hate for the first time. There’s a carnal, primitive energy that only hits rock music every now and then, a spark that sounds like someone throwing a toaster in a bathtub.

Electric Glitter Boogie is unrelenting in its mission to seek and destroy what was previously the most maddening rock to scorch this Earth. Every song wreaks complete destruction, proto-punk missiles sinking their teeth into your very being and thrashing around, until your as cold and lifeless as all the other victims. When Power scream, they flatten their surroundings to patches of dirt. Power make me want to put my hand in a blender, and laugh all the way to the emergency room. They’ve made the most maniacal, demented, absurd ode to real rock music capable, and if you have any interest in the carnivorous power of guitar, you need to indulge in this album. Power’s title doesn’t just ring true, it redefines the meaning.

Full Review of Power’s Electric Glitter Boogie

2. Blank Realm – Illegals in Heaven

A year later, and Blank Realm are still on top – their 2014 masterpiece Grassed Inn seemed like an unbeatable benchmark for the group, but here we are: Illegals in Heaven is Blank Realm’s SECOND magnum opus.

There’s not a song on this album that isn’t a total winner, even if they incite that reaction for different reasons. “No Views” cries victory for its chugging riffs and squealing keytar, whilst “Palace of Love” and “River of Longing” triumph with their stories of lost love that are so intimate, yet could also apply to millions of relationships out there. And “Gold” remains possibly the best song Blank Realm have ever written, and in following logic, that means its one of the best Australian songs ever written.

Illegals in Heaven isn’t a perfect album, it is the perfect album. There is so much here to fall in love with, a constant stream of discovering new points in the album to exclaim, “Well, fuck me, that’s got to be the best thing ever recorded!”. It’s an album to be listened to with friends, with strangers, by yourself, at the pub, at a party, at a funeral, at the fucking fish and chip shop – there is no situation to far fetched or ordinary that Illegals in Heaven wouldn’t make the perfect companion to. Buy this album, hold it close, and severe all ties with anyone who tries to “borrow” it.

Full Review of Blank Realm’s Illegals in Heaven

1. Royal Headache – High

There’s a whole list of reasons as to why High is the best and most important record of 2015. It sees one of Australia’s arguably greatest contemporary band return to form after a three year absence, it sees them extend and explore beyond what they became so well known for, it followed one of the best performances the Opera House has ever been privy to, and Iggy Pop really liked it.

But the main reason why Royal Headache top this pretty irrelevant list is because High wins from sheer listenability. And isn’t that precisely what a good record should be? I’ve listened to this album more than any other this year, so much so that I’ve worn out my first copy and had to order a second one. I love it so much that I’m terrified to write about it, because I know I won’t even get close to describing how good it is.Whatever your rating system is, 10 stars, 5 flaming guitars, A/B/C/D, whatever…High doesn’t just take out the highest possible rating, it expunges that system from existence, and sits glowering atop the rubble.

The way Royal Headache punch through song after song, bringing the house down every two minutes or so – that’s exactly what drew me to liking music in the first place. High incites a reaction in me that hits so close to the bone that I’m embarrassed to even talk about it. This sounds like raving, but it’s important, at least to me, to express how much of total fucking masterpiece this record is. If there’s anyone out there with a doubt of how good a band can possibly be, chuck on this Royal Headache album, and feel all your cynicism at modern music fade away.

Full Review of Royal Headache’s High 

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.

Album Review: Little Desert – Saeva

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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)

Album Review: POWER – Electric Glitter Boogie

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Raw Power. You heard of it? You know it. You know it well. It’s rusty, filthy, tetanus-coated, tinnitus-inducing noise. It’s primal, decadent muck that razes the ground it lays upon, inflicting wounds upon all, drilling itself into a bloody corpse. It’s pornographic, indulgent, deliriously basic music driven to its most dangerous extreme.

After releasing “Slimy’s Chains” earlier this year, Power proved that they were disciples of the raw. A stripped ‘n’ thrashed scourge, determined to squeeze the innocence out of an individual’s skull. This was a song that filled you with terror and excitement at the same time, a charismatic source of wicked rock ‘n’ roll. It made me more enthusiastic for a forthcoming album than any other record this year. It got to a point where I had to ask friends to go into Repressed to ask when they thought the Power record would be arriving, because I thought I had pissed off Nic too much with my clockwork questions.

The arrival of ‘Electric Glitter Boogie’ as a fully fledged album has made me want to blow my brains out, because I don’t think there will be another band in 2015 that will provide such an exhilarating take on rock ‘n’ roll. This album will fucking kill you. This album will turn you insane. It will pick at your brains like the Overlook Hotel, but with all the subtlety removed. There are no creepy twins, there is only the constant tidal wave of blood. Every song on this album is an exhausting experience, a battle cry of deplorability, the best fucking thing you’ve ever heard in your goddamn life.

How are Power so good? How could some fucking band from fucking Melbourne be this incredible? It’s because they’re committed, refusing to provide anything less than the most slovenly, mouth-foaming, carnivorous take on raw power since The Stooges. Take the title track, or the album finale, “Power” – the way those vocals are wrangled, screamed into that microphone, there’s an effect there that stays with you long after the cackles have subsided. You’ve just heard an expression so un-diluted by the usual bullshit that pervades rock music that it comes as a shock, albeit an addicting one that murders competitors.

My hands shake as I push the needle back to the beginning of the album, over and over and over again, a manic habit that borders on delirium. I need this album to rattle my brain into an asylum. I want to hear that sneer and that bludgeoning ringing in my ears even when I sleep. Power have created a terrifying, blackened masterpiece that not only bores through to what makes rock music so great but grovels at its feet of it, a slave to a master. This album isn’t just raw, or primitive, or intimidating, it’s all of the above, and more. It’s a painful bombardment of dilated pupil riffs that brand itself into the skin tissue. If you are any sort of fan of music, you will chain this album to your chest, and bury yourself with it.

 

Album Review: Palms – Crazy Rack

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My love affair with Palms is one that has been replicated by pretty much every teenager with a penchant for the guitar solo. I heard “Love” and went head over heels for the sheer blast of it. Palms weren’t just a band, they were a fucking rock band – which is a very important distinction, I might add. They were not indie rock, not surf rock, or garage rock. It was straight up rock – pure blasts of energy aided by that basic setup of guitar, bass, drum and Al Grigg’s rousing bellow.

Their debut album, ‘Step Brothers’, came through and won my heart. I started seeing this band whenever I could – the live total has reached somewhere around 30 or something. I know I’m not alone in my enslavement  – the same heads are always gathered at Palms gigs with a beautiful consistency. What’s more, every show brings in a new tidal wive of fans, who know every word, and are even more rowdy than the last bunch. Fuck, doesn’t that just make your heart swell? Doesn’t it make you shed a goddamn tear?

In the two years since ‘Step Brothers’ was released, Palms have made some huge steps forward as a band. They’ve switched labels, moving onto Ivy League Records, and graduated from tiny pubs to support slots at the Enmore…but that love for churning out a belters that are customer-made to turn a crowd into a foaming pit of writhing bodies hasn’t moved at all. If anything, the band have indulged even more in their unwavering love for splintering solos and big choruses. If Phil Lynott were alive today, Palms would probably be his favourite band.

The first three songs off Palms’ new record, ‘Crazy Rack’ are like the three points of the rock dog Illuminati. You’ve got “Bad Apple”, which manages to slip in a sheepish nod to the influence of Sydney’s premiere rock legends You Am I between blazing riffs. Then there’s “Rainbows” –  keen observers will note this was originally called “Rainbow Road”, which makes sense considering the fuck-me-it’s-so-hard-to-concentrate-on-not-falling-off-because-off-all-the-bright-flashing-lights pace of the song. Finally, “Thoughts Of You” completes the trifecta, Grigg administering passages of leather jacket-clad love between sleazy grunts of guitar. Three songs in, and you feel like that kid from the beginning of the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” clip, throwing his Dad out of the window with a single six-stringed detonation.

Speaking of hair metal, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to witnesses of a Palms DJ set as to the extent to which they embrace 80’s rock and pop, as Cheap Trick adoration rings loudly throughout. But really, Palms actually share their biggest likeness with a band from a little further down the track – Superchunk. It’s all there: big riffs, heart on the sleeve songwriting, and the ability to be at home just as easily behind a huge anthem like “In My Mind” as they are on doughy-eyed. quieter moment (“Photographs”). They’re a band indebted to rock in the original sense of picking up a guitar, pouring in a whole lot of fire and seeing what happens. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a frantic hurtle like “Beatdown”, a lesson in curled-lip cool like “Sleep Too Much”, or the yearning woop of “Fake Pictures”, Palms will rock it one way or another.

Sure, Palms are just a rock band. There’s plenty of those around. But how many of those rock bands gets you excited about going to see them for the 31st time? Grab your air guitar, chuck on “Crazy Rack” and shred your way to the end of that hypothetical question.

‘Crazy Rack’ is out Friday, the 30th of October on Ivy League Records, and you can pre-order the record here. Palms play At First Sight Festival on November 14th, with Total Giovanni, My Disco, Blank Realm and more. Grab tix here.

Album Review: Pronto – Pronto/Pronto

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Pronto make me feel good about myself. They make me feel like I’m hanging out with my girlfriend on a Sunday arvo at Bondi, the beach is crystal clear, seagulls are squawking and I’m content with the secret knowledge that I’ve poisoned the local kale supply and everyone who sucks in Bondi will die soon.

They released an album last year called ‘When You’re Gone’, and it was all sorts of great. Rock ‘n’ roll in the style of The Troggs committed to an insane asylum and screaming bloody murder. Now, the Melbournites have somehow upped the stakes; before the freaks across the road, laughing and smashing bottles. Now, they are the terrorists of good taste and decency, shoving punk rock down the throats of the innocent, slitting civilians from ear-to-ear with three-chord blades.

It can not be overstated how refreshing this album is. After recently wading through a few too many shows of braindead blokes hidden behind a beanie and a laptop, playing the same flaccid synth key over and over again, its nice to hear someone bark in my ear with the sort of seething fury that brought us Bits of Shit, Helta Skelta and Gutter Gods. When Pronto kick into their first track “Implausible”, you can taste the flecks of spit hit your face, feel the carpet of the pub ripping and tearing under your stampeding feet, embrace the inherent danger that comes from being within such close proximity to a band like this.

The power-pop elements of ‘When You’re Gone’ have been all but abandoned (with the exception of the riff of “On the Slots”). It can not be overstated enough that the bludgeoning does not let up. Not for a fucking second. Word of warning: if you turn your back on this album, you will be shanked by the sharp end of a thrashing riff, and the band will dance over your corpse, letting you bleed out to the tune of an incomprehensible solo. You get halfway through, think you can stop for a snack and a piss, and next thing you know “Fad Cult” is caving your skull in.

The vitriol is high. The power is raw. The gritted-teeth approach is overpowering. The stench, the muck, the dirt that cakes this…this THING…makes me want to throw up and dance in a puddle of my own puke. This is disgustingly good punk rock, and you’d be an idiot not to bury yourself in it.

‘Pronto/Pronto’ is out now on Slovenly Records, and you can grab it from their Bandcamp here.

In very exciting news, we can all bask in the glory of Pronto when they make their way up to Sydney. They’ll be playing November 20th (Venue TBA) w/ Ghastly Spats and Tim & the Boys.

Album Review: The Ocean Party – Light Weight

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Let’s face it: The Ocean Party are the equivalent of Bruce Willis in Die Hard. At first, its a back-to-basics overhaul of the terrorist plot to make “dolewave” a part of the cultural lexicon. Now, The Ocean Party are crafting incredible songs that are essentially trampolining cars into helicopters, creating mammoth explosion after explosion of exhaustingly great pop music. However, unlike everyone’s favourite action films featuring a bald bloke in his late 50’s improbably surviving everything, The Ocean Party have kept the integrity of their franchise, improving and exploring new territory, whilst retaining the original qualities that made them so beloved in the first place.

The qualities mentioned above are thus (how fucking great is the word thus?): comforting jangling melodies, a melting pot of songwriting voices, the occasional burst of saxophone, and genuine poetry in their lyrics. On ‘Light Weight’, The Ocean Party sound more convincing and stirring than ever before, establishing their own unique stamp on guitar pop. No longer do they sound like a band that have been inspired  by The Go-Betweens and The Triffids, but rather, they sound like a band that will go on to inspire. The key ingredient, at least from what I can hear, is the constant stream of self-doubt that peppers The Ocean Party’s lyrics.

Take for example the moving title-track, which is probably one of the most tear-gouging songs released this year. Forget about your power ballads, all you need is The OP Crew sighing “You said I’ll see you soon, I said I wasn’t sure, there was everything and nothing everywhere, then I had the idea that I deserved even more”. Has flitting romance been described that well before? Maybe. Then again, maybe not. I’m finding it really hard to think of another example when choking back the tears.

This theme of personal crisis isn’t necessarily something committed to wandering melodies and sighing vocals. “Guess Work” pops with an exuberant chorus, even when discussing a bloke getting blown to pieces in the middle of the street (and to think people were doubting my Die Hard analogy). “Phone Sex” grooves on a rhythm that could have been ripped from a macabre detective show from the late 80’s. And “Greedy” practically hurtles along, bright guitar lines clashing against the persona of a clueless boss.

However, as the album draws to a close, The Ocean Party retreat into darker territory, and shut down their record with possibly one of the finest songs of their careers in “Real Life”. A plodding monologue that blossoms into a careening mantra of fatigue, this is a song that bemoans the abundance of normality and squeezes in a reference to wanking. Surely, this is the greatest pop song of our generation?

If you put the careers of myself and The Ocean Party side by side, you’ll only end up depressed. Whereas I’ve plunged from obnoxious wanker to unbearable fuckwit, these guys have blossomed from local darlings to one of the most damn fine songwriting sextets this country has produced, reaching a professional highlight in ‘Light Weight’. And they’re from Wagga Wagga! The Ocean Party are not only the extended Bruce Willis metaphor that we deserve, but the one we desperately need.

‘Light Weight’ is out now on Spunk Records, and you can grab it here. You can read an interview between Jordan ‘King of the Keyboard’ Thompson and myself here.

Album Review: Summer Flake – Time Rolls By EP

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Late last year, Summer Flake (aka Melbourne via Adelaide’s Steph Crase) dropped ‘Son of a Gun’, and the sounds of hearts shattering could be heard around the world. It was allegedly the first single of a sophomore album, fresh from the best Adelaide export since West End Draught and Matt Banham, and I couldn’t have been happier.

A year has passed, and that “forthcoming” album has remained elusive. However, just as we were about to return to Robert Smith for a companion in the most dire of times, Steph has released an EP of brand new material and a Stones cover. In true Summer Flake fashion, the songs are raw, honest, and tug at the heartstrings more than the mention of the 1997 Grand Final around a Sea Eagles supporter.

The whole thing is essential, but particular standouts on this EP go to “Sun Won’t Shine” and “Makes Me Wanna Die”. The former has the approval of Henry “I Kinda Started Hardcore, Yeah” Rollins, a five minute wallow in the mire of guitar dirge and Steph’s incredible voice. She shines here, despite the title, but its her lyrics here that make the track stand out, cruising through the darkest depths of anxiety and bleakness.

The latter track, despite sharing a name with a song that actually does make me want to kill myself, is fantastic because it could work just as easily in an intimate moment of joy, as it could when you’re huddled by yourself under the blankets at 4pm on Saturday. It drifts on a simple guitar strum, splashes of a drum, and the Summer Flake mantra, “Makes me wanna cry”.

For many, Summer Flake echoes our own fragility – her voice is a gentle lullaby, but booms with heartbreak. The greatest thing here is that her music feels universal – it doesn’t single out one demographic, and concentrate all of its energy in appealing to that single group. Come one, come all! Teenagers, war veterans, game show hosts, it doesn’t matter your race, creed, footy team, brand of smokes, whatever. If you’ve ever felt down in the dumps, alone, a little bit helpless, Steph understands, and her music and tone reflects that. Part Neil Young, part Yo La Tengo, and part Eric’s Trip, she guides you through the shits with a soft hand and quaint voice.

So we might not have that full-length record from Summer Flake that we all crave. But at least we haven’t gone a full year without any material from one of Australia’s most underrated. 2015 has birthed a full EP of breathtaking music to accompany us at our most cracked and distraught. Honestly, wouldn’t you much prefer to spend those lumpy-throat moments with someone as sincere and comforting as Summer Flake? Thought so.

Summer Flake’s ‘Time Rolls By’ EP is available now on Rice is Nice Records, and you can grab it on the ol’ iTunes here. A limited run of cassettes will be appearing October 17th. If you’re around on the 16th, make sure you come to the free Rice is Nice Mixtape Vol. 3 launch at Waywards w/ Zeahorse (!), White Dog (!), and Us the Band (!). Oh yeah, Soundly Sounds DJ’s are going to be DJ’ing as well. I just downloaded AC/DC’s best of, so it should be a great set.

Album Review: FLOWERTRUCK – Dirt EP

a1034313333_10There’s a reason that FLOWERTRUCK had one of the busiest rooms at the King St Crawl yesterday arvo. Sure, the job was pretty much completed for them by way of the absolutely chock-a-block set put on by Soundly Sounds DJ’s (available for corporate events, book now, serious interest only [no funny stuff]). However, it’s fair to say that a couple extra punters made the trip out because they’d heard there was a pretty decent band doing the rounds at the moment. That band starts with an ‘F’ and ends in ‘ucking FLOWERTRUCK’. Sweet, we’re on the same page here, this band rules.

Until a few mere days ago, FLOWERTRUCK were EP-less, and yet they’d captured the hearts and minds of the folks of Sydney. Meanwhile, what have you been doing lately? You been releasing pop gems like “Sunshower”? Huh, punk? You been making rage indie clips of the week with “I Wanna Be With You”? You been doing that? You played with Alex Cameron and You Beauty? Have ya? No? Call us when you wanna play with the big dogs like FLOWERTRUCK.

As mentioned above, “Sunshower” and “I Wanna Be With You” are magical. They make pop music fun again – before these songs came along, Sydney was essentially the town in ‘Footloose’. FLOWERTRUCK is our Kevin Bacon. That means that, in a few short years, this band is going to be sidling up next to the musical equivalents of Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton is some sort of indie rock ‘Apollo 13’ blockbuster. And that doesn’t even seem that surprising of a claim to make. These songs are incredible, and like everyone’s favourite ham flavoured Hollywood star, its an early entry into a lengthy and acclaimed career.

Sandwiched between these two colourful bursts are three earworms that slot easily into any contemporary Australian guitar-pop playlist. Twerps, The Ocean Party, Big White…FLOWERTRUCK. Too easy. Job done. “Bad Dreams”, a swelling number that feels very ’16 Lovers Lane’, particularly stands out, a paced out burner that works itself into a frenzy of furry guitar work and chiming synths.

It’s absolutely no surprise that FLOWERTRUCK are packing out venues – they combine the flavours of Flying Nun/1980’s Brisbane shade of rock with New Wave pop sensibilities to the degree where it belongs in one of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants. There’s heat in the fucking kitchen, geddit? You wanna get a lick on a few of these tasty morsels? Grab a plate – FLOWERTRUCK’s debut EP just came out. You can grab it at Bandcamp here.

Also, FLOWERTRUCK are gonna play the East Coast pretty soon. Band comes highly recommended. The Sydney show is at Deus Ex Machina on October 9th.