Best New Australian Bands of 2015

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Occasionally, I run into people that say shit like, “Man, music was so much better in the 80’s”. Well, guess what you miserable old bastard? wasn’t alive in the 80’s, so your argument means jack shit to me. Just because a lot of great bands like Dinosaur Jr, The Stooges and Slayer, happen to come from bygone eras, that doesn’t mean that new music sucks. In fact, modern music is actually pretty alright, especially in the barren wasteland that bred Mad Max and kangaroos. Fuck the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, these are the best bands I found out about this year:

NB: These are bands and artists that I found out about in 2015 – if I wrote about them last year, I don’t reckon they count, which is why there are a few notable exclusions like FLOWERTRUCK, Gordi, Roland Tings, Chook Race etc.

10. Tiny Little Houses

At a time when indie rock was becoming far too predictable, Tiny Little Houses broke the trend, with enthusiastic results. There’s a dreamy, surreal quality to their music that manages to pack in heartbreak, loss, desire, and unwavering commitment into the same song. Every bar makes you want to sink in deeper, find out more, plunge head first into the drama they’re writing.

They traverse great lengths of musical territory, from swirling, cloudy choruses, to naked, addictive introspection, to full blown shredding, that places them solidly amongst the likes of Girls, Death Cab for Cutie and Neutral Milk Hotel. Tiny Little Houses are a group that don’t just smash genre expectations, but build them back into something that makes you think, “Maybe the next indie rock song I hear won’t make me want to kill myself!”

9. Alex Lahey

Alex Lahey ain’t no spring chicken – she’s been leading the charge for Melbourne poppers Animaux for a few years now. But in case there was still some confusion as to whether this wonderful lady may or may not be an actual, literal chicken that may or may not have been born in the spring, then the chorus of her debut single “Air Mail” makes it quite clear.

“I’ve got 24 ribs, 32 teeth, two hands, ten fingers….and air mail envelopes are all I’ve bought this week”. Even if some sort of mutant chicken did manage to breed itself into having those specific physical attributes, there’s no fucking way it’d have the social awareness and complexity necessary to line up at the post office to buy air mail envelopes.

Philosophical musings aside, “Air Mail” was one of the best debut singles I heard this year, packed with an affability and charm that made me fall head over heels in love with Alex Lahey. There’s massive things in store for her next year, I’m sure of it.

8. Death Bells

My mate sent me a message earlier this year, merely saying, “Oi dude, reckon you’d like this” and a Youtube link. It was Death Bells’ debut single, “You, Me & Everyone In Between”, a swirling, morbidly affected dream-pop tune that felt like the next Captured Tracks signing.

A few months down the track, and I’m still all over Death Bells. They’re just a bunch of recklessly emotion-laden teenagers channeling their energy into pop music, but they do it so well that I can’t help but adore them. Their live show takes a bombastic turn as well, the five-piece pumping steroids into their songs, strangling them into concentrated, tidal wave eruptions of sound.

7. NULL

Obviously, electronic music isn’t my forte. I try to stay on top of it, but I tend to get swept up in the rawk side of things, and some of the greatest stuff just floats me by. That being said, Aussie electronic did have a great year – Chunyin, Corin, Nutrition, Anatole, I’lls, Black Vanilla, Air Max ’97 and Tennis Boys were all pretty stellar for 365 days straight.

But in terms of producers who tore me apart at the seams, ripped my mind to shreds, and stood above the shattered remnants, hands on hips and laughing with sadistic glee, the award goes to NULL. There’s something so calculated to the way he produces music, from the individual single artworks and music videos, to the strain of pulsating menace that intertwines his whole debut mini-LP/EP. If there’s one new artist twisting knobs and smashing synths to check out, its NULL.

6. Low Lux

Low Lux’s first proper show, a headline spot at the Newtown Social Club, shouldn’t have been one of the best shows of the year. But it was. And my love for them accelerated like a goddamn Shakespearean romance. I don’t think anything this year has come so close to whatever Low Lux’s set was – both intimate and epic, just so bloody impressive in every capacity pf the word.

There’s just an ethereal capacity to what Low Lux do, a lushness that’s like velvet and silk had a kid that would grow up to be lord of the fabrics. The two singles they’ve released so far, “Rivers Roll” and “Ruin” are dense, well-thought out and intriguing pop, and they’re indicative of even more cinematic smash hits from Low Lux.

5. DEAFCULT

I never fully got into shoegaze music – I can enjoy it, and there’s some great bands out there, but I’ve never run full-tilt to chuck on a My Bloody Valentine album before.

That all changed with DEAFCULT – their debut EP is such an intense, beautiful listen that spins dizzily between yawning caverns and crunching waves. They’ve got four guitars. FOUR! Let that sink in. Do you know how much guitar that is? THAT’S A LOT OF FUCKING GUITAR!

When DEAFCULT hit their peak, they’re an unstoppable, mesmerizing and deafening force, a swelling splatter of musical bombast that topples you over. They bring an excitement and thrill to shoegaze that has been sorely missing in Australian circles.

4. The Goon Sax

I’m absolutely smitten with The Goon Sax – in taking just a few chords and a smudge of self-deprecation, they made one of the best songs of 2015, and it sounds like they wrote it in a free period.

There’s a charm to The Goon Sax that makes me want to be their best friends. I can’t tell if it’s the effortless that they create their songs with, the inward, affected keel of their lyrics, or the fact that they’re so clearly bound for the top, but there’s a quality in this band that raises them miles above their peers. Although Melbourne has commanded the jangle-pop bands of the last few years, The Goon Sax stand to bring it back to its rightful home in Brisbane.

3. Orion

I had no expectation of Orion before they had played Nag Nag Nag Festival in January this year. The name had popped up on a few lineups, and some mates had floated the words “Best band ever!” over my way, but for some reason, I never check ‘em out. Too busy with all that electro pop, I guess.

It was right around the time that Sydney’s favourite son Nathan Roche was thrown to the floor that I decided that I loved this band. Their live show was too intoxicating to do justice with mere words – an attempt would read something like: violent, passionate, debilitating, compulsory.

Meanwhile, on record, Orion push that live propulsion, into a record so encased with self-derision and desperation that it makes your lips bleed from chewing them so much. The four songs that Orion have recorded are so perfect and harrowing, it actually pains me to think of the months that I refused to check them out. If you’re in a similar position as I was, please don’t hesitate any more.

2. YEEVS

The music of YEEVS feels like a vibrant crossover from the best loud indie rock bands of the past two decades decade: Spoon vs. Archers of Loaf, The Walkmen vs. Nada Surf, Wolf Parade vs. Dinosaur Jr. The battle lines are drawn, the indie rock icons lock horns, and when the dust has settled, the bloody result of the slaughter is three heaving blokes from Sydney, who just want to stomp drums, pound out some riffs and lambast a microphone. YEEVS haven’t just got a penchant for writing spot-on indie rock thumpers, they can only write songs that feel like Andre the Giant giving you the Heimlich Maneuver.

1.WHITE DOG

The reason why WHITE DOG are my favourite new band this year is because since finding out about them, they’ve been my go to group to yell in people’s face when they ask what they should listen to. “Oi Saarzy, you fucking knob, what’s good?” “WHITE DOG, mate, and go fuck yourself, that was bloody rude”.

Seconds into hearing their first demo, “No Good”, with its thick guitar riff that sounded like a chainsaw being thrown into a concrete mixer, I decided that WHITE DOG were one of the best bands this year. There are approximately 16 days for something better to pop up, so it’s un-bloody-likely anything is going to change my mind. From the brutal, Rottweiler vocal snarl, to the lyrical bluntness, to the general sledgehammer of their songs, WHITE DOG are unmatched. They made me fall back in love with punk music.

Furthermore, WHITE DOG’s live show is one of the most ferocious I’ve seen. They bring a danger to a stage that’s like the early 80’s versions of Henry Rollins and Steve Albini are having a fight within frontman Sam White’s body to see who will get the right of demonic possession. And the writhing limbs of White isn’t the only thing that your eyes bore into when WHITE DOG play – instruments are smashed into walls and punters are thrown into a frenzy like an Old Testament God has decided the show will be his plaything. Every show is like this, and every show makes me more confident that WHITE DOG are the best new thing this shitty harbour town has.

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Goodgod & Good Night: Remembering the Small Club

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Image stolen from Goodgod Facebook

I was 17, freezing to death, still donned in a school uniform, and desperate to go see King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, who were playing one of their first shows in Sydney at Goodgod Small Club, a subdued little bar down the road from where I was pretending to study for my HSC. I wasn’t let in, of course, (it’s really hard to find a fake ID for gingers with rampant acne) but I did get to peer down the stairs, and even at 7pm, the place looked compelling. As I threw my backpack back onto my shoulder, and slunk down Druitt Street, I had no idea that I’d be spending the vast majority of my weekends for the next three years in this place.

My debut attempt at sneaking into a show wasn’t the only ‘first’ experience I had. I put on my first real show there (Community Radio, Devotional, Noire), drank my first cocktail there (some crazy blue shit in a jug), and the first place where I’ve managed to stick around until 5am (cheers to the Astral People 3rd Birthday). Shit, Goodgod remains the first and only place that I’ve busted out the whitest of white boy dance moves to hip-hop (courtesy of Halfway Crooks), and I’m really sorry for anyone who had to witness that. Seriously, I am.

But mostly, Goodgod was the place that I managed to see some of my favourite bands for the first time: Alex Cameron, Total Giovanni, Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Scotdrakula, Client Liaison, Holy Fuck, Unity Floors, NO ZU, SURES, Rainbow Chan – the list is endless. In saying that, it’s made me realise the most important factor about Goodgod, and the specific reason why I loved it – the diversity. Look at those names – it’s a fucking smorgasbord, a buffet of A+ talent that has adorned the exact same tiny stage. The sheer wingspan of styles, genres, bodies and lives that have inhabited Goodgod is incredible, with everyone welcomed, and given the chance to prove what they had. The way that Goodgod could shape shift, flitting between atmospheres, from punk rock mosh to R&B orgy to a thrilling anything-goes deep house rave, is beyond trying to describe.

And although Goodgod’s atmosphere could be like a chameleon, there were certain aspects that have always stayed the same. Firstly, despite my initial experience, security, particularly the ever-grinning Tobie, have been probably the friendliest bouncers you could come across. Then, it was a matter of walking down those stairs, dimly lit by the bold Goodgod sign, surrounded on all sides by thick yellow cave walls, and amazing, hand-drawn pictures of rock stars. Descend into the front bar, and the noise hit you immediately – patrons yelling at each other over some delicious servings courtesy of The Dip/Jonkanoo/Belly Bao, and DJ’s like Yo Grito and the Friday Lite crew spinning music to get the heart thumping. A short walk to the Danceteria, a push through the slightly sticky double doors and into that spectacular, low-slung cavern. At last, it was on to enjoy whatever awesome treat the bookers had scheduled for that particular evening, whether that be METZ holding eardrums hostage, being sucked into the pure tornado of serenade that is Andras & Oscar, or one of the millions of other artists who crossed through the club.

The intimacy, friendliness and distinctiveness of Goodgod is not something that should be taken lightly. Although Plan B will take Goodgod’s place and likely make something new and fantastic there, there’s still going to be that hole where only all the crazy shit that went down at Goodgod could have occurred. The unique ability that Goodgod had to turn mundane nights into mornings with crushing hangovers and giddy grins was one that propped this small club into one of the best this city has had to offer punters. To Jimmy, Hana, their amazing puppy who constantly hung around but who I’ve forgotten the name of and the rest of the Goodgod crew – thanks for all the good times! You were all pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Goodgod Small Club has its final nights this week – there’s an insane show happening Wednesday night with Twerps, Straight Arrows & Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, as well as Star Wars trivia.  Thursday night sees Gordi, Anatole and Alex Lahey hit the stage, and on Friday, there will be a Pelvis party in the Front Bar and Cliques, Kowton, and EK Colective gig going down in the back. Saturday brings with it the biggest and most satisfying finale since The Wire: Milwaukee Banks, followed by a big ol’ dance off. All the details are here! See ya in the gutter!

2015 In Review, State By State

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It’s December 1st, so that means its time for the inevitable yearly wrap-up that gets all the clicks. But before I head into the dreaded listicle territory, I’m going to look at Australia’s literal territories, and just what the fuck they got up to this year, from the perspective of a child in Sydney who struggles to charge a phone, let alone understand the intricacies of the music scenes available within each state.

Short answer: bloody heaps, moite. Long answer:

Sydney, NSW

Look, we dropped the ball with the lockouts, and none of our NRL teams made the final. But other than that, Sydney did real well this year, with FLOWERTRUCK, YEEVS, Low Lux, Gordi, Le Pie and Palms being just a handful of the names that kept this dying city propped up.

In very important news, Sydney punk got re-ignited this year, specifically because of two bands: Orion and White Dog. Seeing these bands is akin to setting yourself on fire, Thich Quang Duc-style. Equally terrifying and exhilarating, you’re just as likely to be hit in the jaw by a flying crowd surfer as you are commit the violence yourself. Other new punk bands like Dry Finish, Point Being and Tim & the Boys popped up as well, which makes me feel like it’s going to be only a matter of time before Maggot Fest relocates North. Oh yeah, and Royal Headache returned in order to promptly release the best album of 2015.

Brisbane, QLD

Brisbane continued its reign as kings and queens of weird, as the local labels Sonic Masala Records and Tenth Court put out some fantastically obscure and refreshing records, whilst the pop was on point, with a few new teasers from The Creases, Babaganouj, and Love Signs. Blank Realm melted all our hearts with another masterpiece that was possibly BETTER than 2014’s Grassed Inn. Synth strangeness hit its peak, as the new bands 100%, and Corporate Vibes released some incredible tapes, and shoegaze returned in a big way with DEAFCULT and FOREVR injected a couple hefty doses of mind-caving avalanches of guitar.

Melbourne, VIC

Another year, another straight flush of amazing rock and punk. Thanks to Power, Little Desert, and Dribble for being the best a pimply teenager from Sydney’s suburbia could wish for.

However, Melbourne’s usual spot on proliferation of jangle-pop stalled a bit this year – there were great records from big hitters The Ocean Party, Twerps and Dick Diver, however none of these releases rose above their preceding material. They were good, but not enough to warrant the feverish excitement that accompanied previous albums.

On the other hand, electronic music regained its foothold in the Southern State – NULL, Planete, and Sui Zhen forced heads to pop up and start salivating, whilst friendships, Total Giovanni  and NO ZU proved to be the most entertaining and fun live acts that Australia provided this year. But it was Roland Tings who takes out MVP – that record of his is a work of fucking art.

Adelaide, SA

Wireheads, Bad//Dreems and Summer Flake provided the best material from the City of Churches, although the latter has pissed off down to Melbourne, so it’ll probably only be another few months before she disappears into an alleyway and becomes swallowed by that famous coffee culture. Another Adelaide export, Lord Fascinator released a whole swag of tracks that had an approximately 50% hit rate.

Besides the big names, there were a few newish bands from Radelaide that are showing a fair bit of promise – Old Mate released another album, Rule of Thirds put out their debut, and in very recent news, The Yabbies and The High Beamers have put out a few tracks that points to them becoming the biggest things out of Adelaide since Paul Kelly became the official sponsor for Coopers [sic].

Perth, WA

Tame Impala released a pretty average record, POND released a really good one. The various side-projects between these two bands number into the millions, and they’re all varying engagements of the same incestual psych village. There’s just a bit too much, and it’s all a bit “Eh”.

Similarly to the psych boom, there was an over saturation of electro-pop and grunge. Both of these scenes started off exciting, with KUCKA, and GRRL PAL providing satisfying starts in the former category, and Tired Lion, Pat Chow, and Black Stone From the Sun churning out detuned Heimlich manoeuvres in the latter. But by the end of the year, it became a bit tiresome hearing the same old thing. These bands are still good, but with the exception of LOWER SPECTRUM and Catlips, it felt like people in Perth are either listening to too much Grimes or Nevermind.

Hobart, TAS

The most underrated and painfully ignored album of 2015 came courtesy of Tassie’s Heart Beach. We, as a collective society, should have raised this album to triple platinum status, at a bare minimum. Heart Beach is flooring, and I feel ashamed that I didn’t review it. If you’re after a record that you can curl up with, that’ll both comfort you and turn your bones to ash, turn to Heart Beach, and don’t stop listening until you’ve reached the highest point of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If there was going to be an album that guided you towards a higher consciousness , it’ll be this one. Please, do yourself the greatest of favours and jump on over to Heart Beach’s Bandcamp, where the album is still listed as a ridiculous name-your-price.

Darwin, NT

I have no idea what happened in Darwin this year. Can someone let me know?

Sunday’s Coming; or Why Eddy Current Suppression Ring Playing Golden Plains Is Fucking Important

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Alright, let’s get it out of the way – that title is straight fucked. But look, what was I going to do? Eddy Current have just been announced for Golden Plains 10th Birthday, and they’re going to be headlining the Sunday night. What else was I going to call this bloody article? It’s like Aunty Meredith was begging us: “OI! REMEMBER THAT SICK SONG THAT EDDY CURRENT DID? MAKE A PUN ABOUT THAT!”

Although I’ve fallen victim to the bait, my excitement hasn’t wilted. Why? Because Australia’s greatest group is coming out of retirement. There’s a whole generation that missed out on watching this band, a whole stream of teenagers and twenty-somethings, like myself, that thrived upon classic ECSR dynamite like “Get Up Morning” and “Which Way to Go”. Sure, you can look up one of the band’s many bootleg performances on Youtube, or their full set as part of triple j’s Live At the Wireless. But everyone knows that beholding Brendan Suppression throttle an audience through a computer screen is essentially musical porn, erotic punk voyeurism that pales in comparison to the real thing. I want to smell the sweat in the air, I want to feel the splashes of beer hailing down from a mosh of drunk punters. I want to hear Brendan’s gloves snap around the microphone, I want to hear Mikey Young’s guitar strings crackle, Brad Barry’s bass guitar propulsions and Danny Young’s drumsticks threatening to fracture the skins he beats. I want the live experience. I want to say that I saw what everyone else got to see.

Now, don’t take that to mean that this article is about mere bragging rights. Sure, the opportunity to witness ECSR doing what they do best is a claim worth lording over those who weren’t lucky enough to attend. But this desire, nay, NEED, extends further. It’s about completing the experience. Y’see, a band, especially one like ECSR, has got their entire legacy split into two parts: the recording and the performance. Now, the recordings, they speak for themselves. You’ve got five albums: three studio records, one compilation of 7″s and rarities and a live split with The UV Race. I think it’s fair to say that these albums are all works of art. No one is denying that, are they? WHO THE FUCK SAID…oh, that was just a cough? As you were, mate, as you were.

See, every few years, there’s an album, a loud, brash, unhealthy thing that smashes through the windscreen of the careening rock underworld, and gets thrown on a stretcher, into the hospital lights of the mainstream. Bloody and bruised, the band sits in a daze as concerned doctors and nurses of the media and music industry look on in disgust and concern. “What is it? Is it okay? Can we save it?”. Stretching back to The Saints, The Birthday Party and Radio Birdman, there will always be that album that explodes into the view of impressionable kids previously obssessed with dumb stuff like school, and it changes their worldview completely. It reaches up from its graveyard headquarters, and pulls the innocent child into its zombified dwelling, where they will marinate in the juices of the undead and decomposing. They will begin to treat music as a lifestyle, an adrenaline injection of stories, chords and vitriol that fuels their day to day lives, sucking them from their homely oasis, and into the hellhole of local bands and pubs. Recent examples could include The Drones’ “Wait Long By the River…”, Dick Diver’s “Calender Days”, and Royal Headache’s self-titled. Blank Realm look like they’re on their way there, but that’s an influence that remains to be seen (fingers crossed).

For me, ‘Primary Colours’ was the album that changed my perspective on the world. I consumed it at the ripe age of 15, and it was a record that seperated me from my previous infatuation with Nirvana, Foo Fighters and Stone Temple Pilots. It made me realise that there was actually some crazy shit happening in my own backyard. With the aid of Straight Arrows and the aforementioned Royal Headache, ECSR opened my eyes to a thriving scene of people with instruments, assembling music that anyone could make. A few pedals, a coupla chords, and your mates – BOOM! Bob’s your uncle and you’ve got a garage band. But what seperated ESCR and these other garage bands, and indeed, what inspired a young ginger kid with no friends to dive into the world of local music, was the energy. The appeal of Eddy Current Suppression Ring wasn’t necessarily apparent in their traditional skill, but the way they translated raw power into an album of recorded music. Their charm, and by an extension their legacy, exuded from that unmatched foercity. The poetry of their music was a culmination of their un-apolegetic Australian identity and unbudging adoration of rock n roll music. They tore away the bullshit that was so evident in many of their peers, and commited themselves to making music that could be judged purely on its merit of making you smash in a fucking wall.

‘Primary Colours’ persists with a listenability because ECSR created an essential, timeless portal that transcends other rock albums. It gets to the meat and bones of the soul, and refuses to loosen its vice grip. It’s a masterpiece because it understands the same basic values that have made classics of The Stooges’ ‘Raw Power’ and Black Flag’s ‘Damaged’. ECSR understand core concepts – lust, boredom, confusion – and boil it into steaming aggression custom made for any hormone-addled kid who wants to fuck and rock their way out of adolescence. You could travel to any point in historu, chuck on “You Let Me Be Honest With You”, or “Anxiety” and be met with raging grins and rabid reactions of glee. Personally, it was that understanding that rock music could open the gates to a more manic human being inside of me that eventually leeched its way into other facets of my life, and bascially, that’s how I’ve ended up as a foul-mouthed fuckwit who spends more time flipping through records than being a productive member of society.

So, Eddy Current’s records cracked open who I am now, and I’m certain they’ve lubricated the process with a fair few others. But unless you had awesome parents or a fucking great fake ID, there’s a lot of kids between the ages of 18-23 that have never been afforded the opportunity to see the band. There’s also legions of fans who have gotten into the band after they went on hiatus. In the time since ECSR called it a day, their influence has grown at a parasitic rate. Nearly driven to insanity, feverish and blind, these fans NEED to see their favourite band. We NEED to complete the second half of the equation. We NEED to chew upon memories of our favourite rock n roll group jumping up and down on a stage in rural Victoria. We NEED this, or we might just fucking die.

For this reason, it’s just incredible that we are going to be afforded the opportunity to see Eddy Current Suppression Ring headline Golden Plains Festival next year. It’ll probably be really good. Maybe not the best show they’ve ever performed, but that’s not really the point. It’ll be relieving to close the gap on the ECSR fandom that I, and many others, have been festooning on for the last five years. In just a few months, when the lights dim and the band walk off stage, tired but exhilarated at their first performance in yonks, I’ll stand in a field of strangers, covered in mud and chest heaving. Cheers will fade to mild chatter as the next band begins to set up. But who gives a shit? I got to see Australia’s greatest band in the flesh, and it’s probably going to be one of the most important moments in my brief life so far.

The 10th Golden Plains will take place March 12-14th at the Meredith Supernatural Ampitheathre in Victoria. Ya gotta be in it to win it, so head along to the ballot here to be in the chance to buy a ticket. I’d really prefer if you didn’t because then there’s better odds for me to win, but whatever.

P.S You really should buy all of Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s records ‘n stuff here. Trust me, there’s worse things to drop cash on than three flawless albums that have influenced a generation.

VOLUMES FESTIVAL MIXTAPE

VOLUMES Festival – it’s next week mate. In approximately 10 days, this festival is gonna take over Oxford Street. Brighton Up Bar, Cliff Dive, Oxford Art Factory – combined into one sprawling pit of music. 50 metre radius. Unlimited good times.

There’s a shit tonne of bands playing this festival, but here’s the ones where you’ll see me bopping my strange-looking head at:

Jack Ladder & the Dreamlanders:

Four albums in, the man is still a sensual machine. Six feet tall, and all of that brimming with sorrow. A baritone that flattens cities. Backed by Donny Benet, Laurence Pike of PVT, and Kirin J Callinan. Dream team.

Blank Realm:

Hands down, the most underrated band in Australia. Everyone that knows them loves them, but that number is nowhere near high enough. That’s gonna change – they’ve got their album ‘Illegals in Heaven’ coming out September 4th, and the first two singles are some of the saddest blasts of pop music unveiled since Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream”.

Big White: 

Pop music made by university students for university students. Actually, the songs are for anyone with a beating heart. Jangly guitars soaked in glossy keys and lovesickness. Their song “You Know I Love You” would probably cheer up even Old Gill! It’s gonna be great.

Zeahorse:

Bone-snapping music, Zeahorse play shows pretty rarely these days. When they do venture to a stage, skulls are cracked. Their debut album ‘Pool’ was a dirty adrenaline shot of sludge pushed to the edge, and they’ve been working on some new stuff for a while now, which looks like it’s going to punish eardrums even more.

Step-Panther:

South Coast shredders venturing to the city again to open up our smoke-clogged pores. Watching Step-Panther do their thing is always an enormous pleasure; big riffs collide with self-deprecation for splintered rock ‘n’ roll delirium.

Holy Balm:

There’s a fair few electronic acts gracing the VOLUMES lineup, but Holy Balm are essential. This band is so fucking cool and weird. Not only is their music a concoction of left field electronic absurdity, but it all just unfolds fantastically live. You definitely need to see them.

FLOWERTRUCK:

Best new-ish band in Sydney – every show is better than the last, and they’ve just unleashed their new single “Sunshower”, which has been getting flogged on my iTunes Library. Their live shows are bonafide mirth-inducers, wherein their guitar pop music infects even the most unsavoury of individuals.

Day Ravies:

Sydney’s own band without a genre, Day Ravies are unclassifiable, only consistent in their ability to put out mesmerising music. Their new album, ‘Liminal Zones’, is a fluid pop affair that fluidly flits between whatever style happens to tickle the band’s fancy. The only guarantee is that it’ll be good.

Low Lux: 

Low Lux are pretty new, but managed to put on an absolutely incredible debut show. It was cinematic…epic…ambitious. Definetely an act to familiarise yourself with and witness, before they’re playing rooms that are suited to their grandiose stage shows.

Death Bells:

Another fairly new band who only have one single, but have impressed a hell of a lot of folks for that small amount of material. They’ve got a brand of dream-pop that has daggers in it, swirling with flashes of derangement. Live, they turn up the snarls and bellows to lung-puncturing levels. Get down early and catch ’em.

VOLUMES goes down 29th of August, in Sydney. Catch a plane, catch a train, I don’t give a shit, just be there. You can grab tickets to VOLUMES here.

R.I.P The Lansdowne Hotel, and Why That Shithole Made Me A Better Person

“Oi, fuck mate, what’s happening tonight?”

“Nah man, I’m absolutely fucked, got no clue”

“Lanny?”

“Fuckin’ Lanny”

The amount of times this conversation has passed between mates and myself runs into the hundreds. We had just left high school, and were loaded with dumb, naive views of how the world and society operated. Getting drunk every night seemed like a feasible option. Punk bands who’s imaginations stretched to minute and a half diatribes felt like genius. Our jobs in retail left us with little to no option but to opt for the cheapest morsels of food. For us, The Lansdowne was able to deliver all of that, and so much more.

Located halfway between the boiling commercial cesspit of the city and faux hippie-laden, over-priced Newtown, The Lanny was a bastion of hope for a bunch of kids who wanted the simple things from life. I say was because, as of yesterday, the historic venue has been sold and will be replaced with a fucking performance arts school. The same place where I, and thousands of others, have stumbled out of after an incredible night of eardrum-excavating rock ‘n’ roll, is being replaced with some NIDA-lite shit.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that the Lansdowne’s history begins and ends with my experiences within it – it’s been one of the biggest champions of rock and roll music in Sydney for a looooong fucking time, and I’m simply one of the many teenagers who have happened through its doors, from its early days in the 1920’s, to the glory days in the 80’s and 90’s. But wasn’t there for that, and this article isn’t about how great the Lansdowne was back in the day when the The Hard-Ons played every second week. I wish I was there, but alas, I wasn’t, and therefore, it feels wrong to come at this obituary from a point of view that isn’t my own.

The first time I stepped inside the Lansdowne, sliding across piss-stained floors, eased past slouching couches, and sidling up to the protracted, splintered bar, it was approximately two weeks after my 18th Birthday. One of my favourite locals Step-Panther were playing a free show, to celebrate the re-opening of the venue after a 2013 fire severely damaged the hotel – I was absolutely fucking pumped. Step-Panther??? At the pub??? Free??? What does that even mean? What the fuck was I about to witness? SOMEONE GET ME A BUCKET, I’M GONNA SPEW!

Actually, the result, especially upon reflection, was pretty void. Step-Panther played well, but there was almost no-one at this show. The Lansdowne cavern remained black and hollow – my best mate and I drank heartily with the band, and it was an exciting time, one of many opportunities I’ve had to split a drink and share my appreciation for my favourite bands after a show. But when the hangover subsided, there didn’t feel like there was any real reason to head back to the corner of George St and City Rd. I returned to more traditional 18 year old activities – Goon of Fortune and unsuccessfully hitting on girls.

About four months later, a guy called Simon Parsons e-mailed me asking if I’d like to DJ at the Lansdowne. He was starting a brand new Thursday night called The Mess Up, and Yes, I’m Leaving and HANNAHBAND were playing. Fuck, of course I was gonna DJ! I rocked up, but the place had completely changed from the abandoned crypt it was before. There were more people there, there was a sense of community, and the whole room felt charged. Maybe it’s looking back through a mirror of nostalgia, but there was definitely a sense of rejuvenation in the saggy bricks that night.

The year that followed from there was the best year of my life, only rivalled by my first year of existence during which people loved me simply because I was a cute-as-fuck baby and I could shit myself at any point without fear of repercussion. Every week, without fail, I was at the Lansdowne. By myself, with mates, it didn’t matter – I was fucking there. There was always a show on, and it was almost always good. From the splashy slackjaw of Unity Floors, to the paranoid vitriol of Constant Mongrel, to the down and out gruel pop of Mope City, there was always something interesting gracing the stages of The Lansdowne that was ripe for discovery. If any band, either local or interstate, asked advice on somewhere to play, the Lanny was the first venue to escape my lips. I was addicted to this shithole.

Soon enough, major draw cards began to befall the crumbling venue – Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Straight Arrows, Palms, TV Colours and The Ocean Party all played incredible sets there. SPOD and Richard in Your Mind played an insane double bill. A bleeding foot stopped a Peep Tempel show, whilst nudity spurred on a Gooch Palms one. Vibrancy, diversity and discovery soon became standard practice at Sydney’s favourite pub. It was an incredible few months that culminated in the MATES Festival in late January 2015. Every single one of my favourite bands in Australia played a series of blistering shows that showered The Lansdowne in sweat and beer. That day still sticks in my head as one of the most brilliant things that has happened to me – an absolute treat!

Then, The Lansdowne bit the hand that was shovelling delicious canapes down its throat with fervour. They let go of their booker Jo, essentially believing that, well, now the people are here, they’ll just keep coming. The gravy train won’t ever stop! Fuck, these kids, they love it here at the Lansdowne! We can hike up the prices a few cents here and there, and no one will notice (believe me, there was outcry when the jugs went from $10 to $10.50). As for booking a pub, how hard can it be? The day they got rid of their booking team was the last day I went to the Lansdowne.

Actually, that’s not entirely true – I went there one more time. The band that the owners had picked for the night was absolutely fucking atrocious. Whereas a Friday night at the Lansdowne usually provided a band like Day Ravies, Alex Cameron or Donny Benet, this headline band was stirring up some absolutely abominable tropical pop shit. I learnt two things that night – that I hate tropical pop music, and that booking venues is incredibly hard. But Jo, Simon, and the rest of the crew behind the Lansdowne bookings did their jobs with jaw-dropping gusto, enthusiasm and knowledge. They knew the ins and outs of Australian music, who played a good show and who played terribly. They knew that to keep a band happy, you actually needed to pay them, which they did gratuitously. They knew that free entry only brings in so much – that maintaining high quality lineups was what brought the savages, not the door charge. And most of all, they knew their audience, and their venue: the average punter who wanted to go to the pub and see some great fucking music. The extent to which they provided all of this is disembowelling.

People don’t seem to appreciate how great pub venues are – they allow bands to play without pretension. The worst show can be a learning curve, whilst the best show can cover the walls and floor with a thick layer of sweat and grime. A casual night can turn into the inspiration for someone in the audience starting a band, who in turn get their first show playing a support slot on the same stage that sparked the discussion in the first place. It’s this aspect that venues like The John Curtin and The Tote achieve so well in Melbourne, and probably explain why there’s such a healthy band scene down there. The bookers actually interact with the local rock groups, and reflect that in the awesome bookings that go on there. Who knew that booking a pub with rock bands requires a knowledge of rock music? It’s a self-fucking-perpetuating force!

Don’t get me wrong, Sydney still has plenty of great venues: Blackwire Records is Ground Zero for punk, experimental and amateur music, and I urge anyone who hasn’t been there to attend immediately. The Vic, The Marly Bar and Waywards are also great venues in Newtown, and GoodGod and Brighton still provide some fairly decent rock shows every now and then.

But in terms of a central pub that wore disgusting on its sleeve, The Lansdowne was unrivalled; a mess of putrid, shit covered bathrooms, smoke-choked beer gardens and chicken-schnitzel that was suspiciously cheap and delicious, this place had it all. From the gorgeous, burned out aesthetic, to the pungent aromas that coated each room, to the sprawl who littered the pavement for lung cancer injections, it was the final bastion of pub rock in central Sydney, and now, it’s gone. It sucks, it really fucking does, but I’m glad that it burned bright for the time it did, and that I was able to slot into the rite of passage that so many teenagers before me have. Even when those welcoming doors have shut, it’ll be nice to remember the constant year of fantastic shows that accompanied me growing up a bit, and realising I wasn’t the hot piece of shit that I thought I was. The Lansdowne is pretty much solely responsible for easing my transition from know-it-all, acne-splashed wanker fresh from high school, to the wide-eyed dipshit who’s finally learnt to shut up and enjoy the good music and people that Sydney has to offer.

Now grab ya 40, and tip one out for the best pub that was.

Dicks and Golden Drumsticks: An Ode to the Gooch Palms

The Gooch Palms_hires

The first time I ever saw the Gooch Palms was revolutionary. It was early October 2013, two days before my HSC Exams were to begin. It was a chilly Friday night, and myself and a good mate decided to head to the Cross and watch the Goochies launch their debut album ‘Novo’s’, aptly named after their hometown, Newcastle.

I had all the Gooch Palms’ material, from their early “Cucarachas” and ‘R U 4 Sirius’ 7″s, to their recently released record. I loved listening to this band, their catchy-as-hell chorus’ mixed with sweeter-than-rainbow punk rock. It was authentic, and vibrant, electric and eclectic. From their early, lo-fi recordings that were akin to balls-out (literally) Ramones rip-offs, and their synthier, DEVO side (“Participant No. 91”), to the power ballads of “You” and “Don’t Cry”, to the straight up garage ragers that should have festival crowds panting with joy in a few years time…The Gooch Palms have it all. And I had it all. I was so proud.

Back to the show…being just a mere few days before the most IMPORTANT EXAMS OF MY LIFE, I got insanely drunk. I didn’t know anyone at the show, and I felt out of place, and awkward. I wasn’t a punk, or a cool music dude. I was a nerd from a private school who just happened to hijack into the awesomeness of Anti-Fade Records’ discography. How the fuck was I allowed to enjoy something this special? A rowdy pub in the Cross, filled to the brim with deadset legends and talent bouncing from wall-to-wall was no place for a fucking blogger.

But you know what? The Gooch Palms changed that. They changed everything. For an 18 year old kid who’s previous most punk experience was watching Fucked Up perform with The Foo Fighters, The Gooch Palms showcased something insanely formative to my growth as a lover of punk rock and Australia’s wealth of talent. THEY DIDN’T CARE! They performed to a heaving crowd with the sort of enthusiasm that can only be described as biblical. Leroy spat on his tattooed chest with glee, and Kat smiled from behind her pink ‘do with beaming joy. They threw themselves into their music, and it made you want to throw yourself into it just as much as they did.

During “We Get By”, a salivatingly, pants-shittingly good track, as I thrashed at the front with reckless abandon, Leroy pulled me onto the stage. I accidently stepped on his pedals, and panic and grief struck my heart. Leroy didn’t give a shit. “Dance! Dance, man!”. I took off with something that can only be described as somewhere between Elvis Presley suffering a stroke and a guy at a Slayer concert. It was a fucked up heap of limbs, but no one cared, and my grin was bigger than anyone else.

And of course, there was Leroy’s nudity, an aspect that has now become one of the most recognised and anticipated aspects of The Gooch Palms’ live show. Some folks might see it as an excuse, or antic, trying to cover up bad music, but in fact, it is the opposite. It’s an accentuation of the madness and brilliance of this band. A garage band that doesn’t give a fuck, and in doing so, gives so many fucks.

For those who don’t know, The Gooch Palms are moving to America. Take a moment, it’s ok, I’ll wait. Shit, just typing this makes a single tear roll down my cheek like I’m in a goddamn Keep America Beautiful commercial. But really, it’s for the best. We don’t deserve a band like this, a band that can be so consistently good every time one sees them live. Two folks who care about each other, punk rockers nicer than most grandmothers. Two legends who know how to meld rock ‘n’ roll and pop together in a way that hasn’t been seen since Cheap Trick were at the top of their game.

The Gooch Palms have grown since that first fateful night. They’ve gone from playing support slots at midnight in Frankie’s, to being one of Australia’s most revered and beloved rock ‘n’ roll acts. They got matching uniforms, toured America, and Leroy got a green tinge to his mullet. I’ve grown as well. I’ve learnt to try to not be such a fuckwit, to go to as many shows as possible, and to try and be a more excellent human being. But no matter how much I try, I probably won’t live up to legend-itude of The Gooch Palms.

The Gooch Palms play their final shows this weekend, playing in Newcastle this Friday, and Sydney on Saturday. Proven legends Straight Arrows are main support for both shows, whilst deadset heroes The Sufferjets and newbies Raave Tapes support in Newy, and shred magicians Los Tones play in Sydney.

If you see Kat or Leroy around, go up, hug them, and wish them well (and shove $50 in their hand, USA is xpensive). It’s gonna be a tough year without knowing there’s a Goochies show around the corner for all hell to break loose. But we wish them well, and hope that the Yanks get to experience The Gooch Palms for the first time in exactly the same way I did, as a cerebral and unforgettable force of garage punk. Adios to one of my favourite bands. Adios to one of your favourite bands. See y’all at the shows!

Profanity in Punk: Using the F-Word: An Essay

First off, I’m not talking about ‘fuck’. I use the word ‘fuck’ more than I use my lungs to breathe. ‘Fuck’ is such a fun word to say, and can be used in pretty much any grammatical form you care for, from adverb to preposition. ‘Fuck’ accentuates everything, and when used sparingly, can turning an average statement, like ‘I took out the trash’, into a menacing threat: ‘I took out the fucking trash!’. The word ‘fuck’ is probably punk’s favourite word. ‘Fuck the government!’ ‘Fuck this relationship!’, ‘Fuck this Band!.

The word ‘fuck’ dominates lyrical landscapes because it’s one of the most useful words the English language has, and in truth, unites the people. When punk became, the word ‘fuck’ acted as a pretty powerful metaphor: those who could handle the power of ‘fuck’ were allies. Those who couldn’t were probably a bunch of uptight dicks anyway.  ‘Fuck’ is powerful, like a cannonball to the chest, and it’s a word of the common people. Shit, one of the best punk bands of the year is called Fucked Up!

But this isn’t about the word ‘Fuck’. Because fuck that. No, this is about last Friday night. Not the shithole Katy Perry song, but what actually happened last Friday night. Post-Richard In Your Mind, I was drunkenly staggering down a street in Rozelle, at my philosophical finest. Reaching a point of existential crisis, I slurred the rhetorical gobsmacker “There are only really two offensive words left in the English language: Nigger and Faggot. Everything else is just sort of filler”. My best mate proceeded to tell me to shut the fuck up, as he was trying to order a kebab, and my consciousness was flung onto pondering the other mysteries of life. I’m like fucking Nietzsche when I’m hammered.

Fast forward to Thursday, the 10th of July. Whilst I’m swinging my fists in an effort to decapitate everyone around me at Violent Soho, there’s a band down the road playing at the Lansdowne. They’re a band called These New South Whales, whom I actually don’t mind. They’ve got a crunchy sound, with fast paced bone-thrattlers like ‘Adam’ and ‘Take the Stab’ doing alright.

So, what’s the issue, man? Well, there’s this song from their first EP called ‘We’re A Shit Band (And We Always Will Be)’, and there’s a fair part of that song that goes along the lines ‘I ain’t a fucking maggot’, which in the context of the song, sounds a bit too much like ‘I ain’t a fucking faggot’. After last night’s performance, Dion Ford of Palms posted a status saying, “If you’re thinking of seeing or booking Sydney band ‘these new south whales’ be aware that the singer yells the line ‘I ain’t no fucking faggot’ over and over again.”

Obviously, this caused a fair bit of controversy. The band responded “These New South Whales is essentially an exercise and experiment for us in spontaneity and mindlessness…Our lyrics are NOT meant to be taken seriously…Also, faggot is an explosive, pointy word which is used not purely for homophobic slur! It can be used in lots of contexts!

Look, I’d hope a garage band wouldn’t think too much about their lyrics. That’s pretty much the charm of garage music, and if a band takes away their spontaneity the result usually comes off as fucking pretentious. Of course, there’s the exceptions (The Replacements being a major one), but as a general rule, garage rock thrives on simplicity. But when that simplicity runs into a point where ignorance takes over, that’s when a fun band can turn into a pretty fucked up megaphone of hate speech. When you’ve got a loud band yelling something that very much sounds like ‘I ain’t a fucking faggot’ over and over again, it bears than a passing resemblance to something like this:

Too much? Well, let’s look back at the history of the word faggot, because apparently, there’s “…lots of contexts…”. Faggot traditionally means a bundle of sticks bound together for fuel. However, the common history of the phrase in reference to the gay community, is pointin to gay men being described as the aforementioned fuel when they’re being burned at the stake. That’s right, the word is directly linked to meaning that these guys are witches aka a myth that the people of the Middle Ages thought was capable of wreaking hellish nightmare upon the lands. Let that sink in: you’re comparing gay people to being one of the lowest and meaningless forms of torture imaginable, where they not only don’t get to assume a human form, but act as their own kindling for said torture. Kinda makes you feel like a dick for using the word faggot so ‘off the cuff’ and ‘spontaneously’. Dehumanisation and the stripping of morality is fucking hilarious!

Now, at this point, some people are going to point out that maybe I’m being the pretentious dick here. Getting up on my high horse, when punk music has used offensive lingo as a tool for combatting oppression since inception. True that! Totally agree! I fucking love punk music! Obviously, it was once one of the most important forms of social language to exist. But the thing that ruined punk music was the ignorance that became implemented. It attracted a violent crowd, a crowd that misinterpreted the message and point of punk music, and used it to fuel hatred. It’s how shitty fascist Nazi punk bands exist.

Even though punk has lost a lot of its blow nowadays, there are plenty of punk bands that use their thrashing three chords and mindless cymbal crashing for Batman-levels of social justice. Seth Bogard, or Hunx as he’s more widely known is a perfect example. He’s been promoting the gay identity in punk music pretty strongly since he first burst onto the music scene in 2008, and managed to combine bone-chilling irreverent punk anthems like  ‘You Think You’re Tough’ with bubblegum sweetness like ‘Lovers Lane’ and ‘I Won’t Tell If You Won’t Tell’. These songs divulge a lot about Bogart’s own experiences, the secret, still-frowned upon adolescent experience that I’m sure a heap of gay teenagers can identify with.

That last sentence probably got on some people’s nerves. Ryan, you’re a straight white guy from a well-off suburb in Sydney, one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. You’re right, I’m not a gay 16 year old growing up in Saudi Arabia. But I’ve had gay family and friends for as long as I can remember, and the firsthand stories you hear are fucking tragic. It makes it all the much sadder to know that we exist in one of the most gay-friendly cities, and the kind of shit that you hear about, and hear people say, is enough to make you feel a bit ill. Obviously, there’s the barbaric atrocity that hits Uganda, but our own hometown is fairly fucked as well.

That’s why I’ve always found it a little grating when punk bands use the ‘F-word’ in their songs. In ‘American Idiot’ by Green Day, the band formerly most famous for naming an album after taking a shit, there’s the lyric “Well maybe I’m the faggot America”. That song has gone platinum all over the world, so there’s obviously a shit tonne of people who heard that very obvious lyric, and went ‘FUCK YEAH, LET’S KILL SOME QUEERS!’ Tell me Billy Joel, did that moment where you felt the need to say ‘Faggot’ to get your social activism boner going…was it worth it? Shit, what’s worse is that the brain-tumor inducing band Five Seconds of Summer covered the song, introducing their core audience (‘The Avril Lavigne demo’ I believe its called’) to a word of hatred that they probably don’t understand the meaning of, allowing teenagers all over the world to scream ‘faggot’ until their breathless. Another example lies with Screeching Weasel’s ‘I Wanna Be A Homosexual’. Who would’ve thought that the same guy that screamed out “Call me a faggot, call me a butt loving, fudge packing queer”,  would be the same guy to punch a woman in the face? Pretty hard to pick bigots these days right?

Look, the point I’m trying to make here is that words are fucking powerful things. Even though it might seem like society has become desensitised to a fault to former ‘rude’ words like ‘Fuck’ and ‘Shit’, the words ‘Faggot’ and ‘Nigger’ still hold stinging potential. The baggage that is carried with those words makes the use of them in almost context unacceptable. The only plausible scenario is this: are you gay? No? Don’t use that word. Simple as that. It ain’t yours. Don’t use it. Seriously, its that fucking simple. You come off like a completely ignorant twat that is probably more likely to die an early death from Darwin Award-winning stupidity than contribute something healthy to society.

There are some people who can use the ‘F-Word’, musicians like Jello Biafra and Hunx. They have something to say, something personal and real for them, and for them, the ‘F-Word’ is a way of communicating that. You and I, on the other hand, have no use for it. Punk bands should know that by getting up on a stage in front of people and screaming to everyone in earshot should mean that what you’re saying should be of some entertaining worth. Shouting so many anti-gay slurs that a homophobe has the chance to jizz and clean up…that shouldn’t make it into a song. There is responsibility as a songwriter, and if you pop the ‘F-Word’ as much as Danny Brown pops molly, then you’re about as edgy as Eminem. Good for you, bro!

Pretty much, if Beastie Boys think its a bad idea, don’t do it.

Why Smash Mouth Was the Pinnacle of the Modern Music Industry: An Essay

2001 was when everything changed in the music industry. Seriously, fucking everything. It’s when shit got incredibly, incredibly bad. If I had a time machine, I would go back in time and assassinate every single musician, because that’s how bad 2001 was. 2001 represented technology mass invading the population, with the integration of P2P software, the iPod and Tiesto releasing his first album (thats another apocalyptic essay altogether). From this point forward, society engaged in a technological war with itself and music, demanding brighter, shinier and more colourful things every year. They were compensated with music more plastic and fake than Katy Perry’s boobs. In a sense, the music-buying public got what it wanted-stuff. They didn’t care what they got, so long as they were told it was good. And they fucking believed that! How else could Linkin Park’s album ‘Hybrid Theory’ have been the best selling album of the year? The demographic of  14 year old angsty boys isn’t enough to push a shitty album of that magnitude into history, so someone else must have been buying it. But most importantly, because of this terrific shift in people not giving a shit, because of the bright new millennial dawn that was surfacing, for the first time ever, literal pieces of shit were allowed to record music and sell millions of albums. Case in point: Smash Mouth.

Smash Mouth have to be one of the dumbest successful bands in history. And unlike their main competitor Insane Clown Posse, Smash Mouth were wholeheartedly accepted by the mainstream music industry. They’re music was syndicated to movies (albeit terrible ones like ‘Mystery Men’) and they got their videos played on MTV. But the how remains a stupefying question. Let’s examine Smash Mouth:

-They’re name is Smash Mouth. That sounds like someone got punched by oral herpes. Which isn’t too far off a description of the band.

-Led by Steve Harwell. The dude is basically Guy Fieri with an auto-tuned voice. He wanted to be in a pop-rock band. WHO THE FUCK WANTS TO BE IN A POP-ROCK BAND? So, he’s basically Satan with a soul patch.

-They’re music is a combination of all the terrible major label ‘grunge’ bands that sounded like the Backstreet Boys had cheesy guitars dropped on their heads from the height of the Empire State Building. Think of a music atrocity in which Lit, Buckcherry and Everclear had gotten their goatee’d faces sprayed with the jizz of Aqua, and you’ve got something like Smash Mouth.

-They’re lyrics entirely repurpose the word ‘simpleton’. From ‘All Star’: “She was looking kind of dumb with her finger and her thumb/In the shape of an “L” on her forehead”. Are you calling your female fanbase idiotic losers? I mean, they are, but it’s not nice to call them that in your biggest song. It’s kind of a testament to the fanbase of Smash Mouth that there’s never been any annoyance about those profound lyrics.

-Their entire presence is the equivalent to seeing that kid from primary school again as an adult, who annoyed the fuck out of you and reminds you within 5 seconds exactly why. Smash Mouth were frat boys who liked Dave Mathews Band a bit too much, and weren’t afraid to show it. And we all suffered because of it.

There are little to no redeeming factors to the Smash Mouth juggernaut. But that’s not the point of this pretty meaningless essay. It’s to point out how Smash Mouth represented the pinnacle of music industry excess and success. Smash Mouth have currently sold more than 10 million albums worldwide. How can that be? How can a band that sucks so much, and have such undesirability have sold so much petty garbage to willing victims. Where were we at as a society in 2001, in which Smash Mouth sold 10 million fucking albums? I would rather suck up the love juice from the carcass of a skunk than buy a Smash Mouth album.

But, Smash Mouth did succeed, and there is nothing we can do but sit in jaw-dropped amazement at their success. I mean, the music industry now is a pile of circle-jerking mixture of indie rock knock offs that appeal to teenagers that don’t know any better, and buxom pieces of two-month old celebrity, so the fact that a fat slob with a soul patch and frosted tips who liked to rip off The Monkees and wear polo shirts ‘made it’ in a conventional sense should be applauded. Maybe it was all a big joke, and Steve Harwell is the ultimate satirist? Maybe he can’t hear anything from his earlobes being dipped in gold. Maybe, when some kit with gelled hair at the end of Rat Race loses his shit that Smash Mouth are performing, we should applaud at Smash Mouth’s underdog success. Maybe, when that girl that Steve Halwell has been creepily pursuing until the end of the ‘I’m A Believer’ video (and she lacklustrely recites  ‘Aren’t you Steve from Smash Mouth?’, a question no one has ever asked) asks for his number (?) and says she loves him (??) we should pray for their long term health and happiness as a power couple. And maybe, when we see the fact that Smash Mouth are still recording and touring in 2014, we should golf-clap their continued success as a band in this cutthroat, cynical industry.

Or we can curse Smash Mouth for existing and go back to listening to King Tears Mortuary. And wonder what the fuck people were thinking about in 2001.

Why Alison Gold’s ‘Chinese Food’ is the Most Brilliant Satire of the 21st Century-An Essay

In recent times, a video has emerged with an online presence that belies that of Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’, Samwell’s ‘What What in the Butt’ and Rebecca Black’s “Friday’ combined. I am, of course, speaking about Alison Gold’s ‘Chinese Food’, as posted above. Please, if you are one of the 9 million and counting that has not seen this video, take the three minutes and twenty eight seconds to broaden your IQ. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Did you see that? Did you see that irreplaceable piece of satire? I mean, ‘A Modest Proposal’ can go fuck itself, ‘Chinese Food’ is exactly what one wants when engaging with the kind of biting Juvenalian satire that this planet has been missing for so long. What was the last piece of really good criticism wrapped in several layers of sarcasm, parody and irony you saw? An episode of South Park? I scoff at thee, for whilst Trey Parker and Matt Stone are doing Whip-Its and jerking each other off, Alison Gold is proudly on the Internet, telling it how it is, albeit in a scathing, admonishing tone not seen since Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘Kindergarten Cop’.

But what is Alison Gold so bent up about in her day-to-day life that could cause her to get in such a fluster? Did she miss out on getting invited to Sarah Falkner’s Big 14th Bash? Did her parents forget to put $100 in her bank account for the day, so she had to have tuna instead of lobster for lunch? Did she come to school wearing the cutest denim skirt, only to see that bitch Tammy rocking the same outfit? Well yeah, Tammy’s a fucking whore, but no, Alison is taking aim at something much more mature and sinister: US and Chinese economic relations, and the threat of the Cold War Version 2.0, a situation, that from Alison’s point of view, is looking all the more grim for the United States.

It’s right there in the video, but it is covered under so many layers of subtlety that one would probably miss it the first time round. What with the instantly offensive racist nature of the clip, and the obtuse idiocy that parades in abundance, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is one of the worst songs of the century. But it isn’t, because no one would be that blatantly stupid, it is physically, logically, and religiously impossible. So, if it isn’t an abomination to the gift of life, it can only be a work of genius. And the evidence is all there.

Let’s start with the opening lines of the song. Random Asian gibberish spoken by a man fucking around with noodles. Not cooking them, just kind of poking at them. Ignorance at its finest, or a foreshadowing of an economic future that sees China prodding American capitalism with sick glee?

The clip moves onto Alison Gold. She’s your average American teen: blonde, fun-loving, and generally innocent. Guys, she just want to go clubbing! But then, Alison, our young, naive protagonist, sees a restaurant called Chinese Food. Now, this isn’t laziness on the producer’s part to think of a vaguely legitimate name for a token Chinese restaurant, but a conscious effort to show the shoddy and lazy workmanship of Chinese manufacturing. Gone is the soul and care of quality American products, replaced by a stock character that tells the consumer exactly what it wants but gives none of the satisfaction. Poor Alison, her weak mind is taken by such a superficial concept, and she is instantly pulled, almost supernaturally, to the restaurant, not even bothering to look both ways as she crosses the street.

From here, the viewer gets to examine the inner workings of the Chinese factory environment, all scaled back to the restaurant. The horrible conditions of a child behind the cash register, pounding away blatantly at a machine that she obviously has no idea how to use. Hell, the mercury poisoning is even getting to Alison, as she struggles to even pronounce ‘Chow m-m-m-mein’. The delusion has truly infected our heroine, through the process of antagonistic Communist structure. She has been integrated into a fearful role of supporting Chinese ideology simply by being there. ‘I LOVE CHINESE FOOD! YOU KNOW THAT IT’S TRUE!’ are over-the-top lyrics that no serious musician or performer would utter, let alone write with any serious intention, so they have to be a representation of the zealous Chinese consumption of traditional American ideals.

Now, onto the lightning critical serving that would make ‘Catch 22’ shit itself. Whilst our mindless Alison Gold is zonked out on deadly chemicals brought on by the dodgy craftmanship of Chinese manufacturers that skirt any sort of moral code, (a practice that in no way, shape or form would ever be practiced in the Great States) she happens across a friendly panda. Initially thought to be a schizophrenic episode, it turns out to be Ark Music Factory co-founder Patrice Wilson!

Now, the immediate reaction would be to convulse in revolted apprehension, but its all good guys! It’s a metaphor! For the Chinese corporate strangulation of American culture! Duh! Mr. Wilson dances and raps, the perfect gentlemen at a pre-teen all girl slumber party. However, as is the case of all the best satire, there’s the macabre presence of the panda suit covering most of Patrice’s body, swallowing him up as the girls watch in barely contained horror.

The final straw of disillusion comes in the grand finale of the song. Alison and her buddies (aka victims of a vicious economic situation that can afford to buy out all competitors through short cuts and impoverished children) dance around in Kimonos and sing their ditzy chorus, easily a representation of total cultural ignorance brought on from the swallowing of Alison’s American identity. But are you ready for the mind explosion ladies and gentlemen? Because in the final moments of ‘Chinese Food’ the panda leads Alison downstairs in her own house, and then abandons her! THE PANDA HAS LITERALLY FUCKED THIS POOR GIRL AND FUCKED OFF BACK TO THE MOTHERLAND WITH THE CAPITALIST SPOILS OF WAR! If that’s not symbolism for what the Chinese economic policy is doing to Wall Street, then Patrice Wilson is into some seriously fucked up shit.

But it don’t stop there. No, like all good satirists, Alison Gold provides multiple levels to her majestical critique, by gesticulating to future implications. Alison believes that if America is continued to be taken advantage of (or in her words, fucked by a panda) then we’ll end up like the wretched Patrice Wilson. Americans will become slaves to the Communist Government of China, children enslaved to the poor working conditions of China’s factories, every product churned out to be as accessible and mass-consumed as possible. Alison Gold has seen the future of the United States, and that future spells the death of the American Dream. And we’ll all end up in panda suits. Cos the Chinese government fucking loves pandas.

So, in conclusion, ‘Chinese Food’ is not a KKK member’s idea of masturbation material as initially considered, but a thought-provoking summarisation of Chinese-American economic policy, and the whoring of capitalism. Alison Gold is a child of immeasurable wisdom, a woman who will lead the charge to a better, economically independent United States of America.

God Bless You Alison Gold.