PREMIERE: Shrapnel – Another Year

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It is really, really good to hear some Shrapnel again. Originally the solo whirring synth pop project of Day Ravies’ Sam Wilkinson, the project has since expanded into a full band, and fuck me, can’t you just hear those extra folks in their latest track “Another Year”.

With the addition of members from Dollar Bar, Julia Why, and Miners, building up a substantial amount of guitar noise was never going to be a problem. But the tidal waves of “Another Year” are unprecedented! Each strum of the guitar clangs like a Vatican church bell being cracked over your eardrums, punctuating Wilkinson’s earnest cries of placation and appeasement.
Although just shy of three minutes, Shrapnel – with their commitment to deafening EVERYONE, both literally and emotionally – pack the same punch as any golden era Matador band. Except instead of merely replicating the same sounds of Guided By Voices et al., Shrapnel have extended on the lessons laid down by Pollard and co. and created a song that evokes something more than cheap nostalgia. In simple terms, it’s heaps good, aye.

Shrapnel’s new album Tranceplanetsugarmouth will be out late OCtober on Coolin’ By Sound Records. They play this Friday at the Union, supporting local icons Peabody. They’ll also be in Brisbane on the 26th and the 27th

PREMIERE: Plum – Dead Leg

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Caleb Jacobs probably couldn’t have picked a better name for his solo project than Plum. It’s sweet, juicy and colourful – it’s a punch of refreshment, delivered with a bang to the taste buds. It’s not boring like an apple, and doesn’t feel the need to flamboyantly overextend in the fruit dick measuring contest like a fucking dragonfruit. It’s just a beautiful, gorgeous Plum.

Confused? Probably. But take a garner at Plum’s latest single “Dead Leg”, and it’ll all make sense. Following on from last year’s Black Doris EP, Plum dives further into the washed synth territory that was only hinted at. Lush walls of sparkly sound shoot up on Dead Leg”, reminding of Chromatics, Youth Lagoon and Washed Out. It’s simple, but there’s an elegance and satisfaction in that – by the end of this, there’s a solid chance that you’ll be just as satisfied as you would after having thrown down one of Jacobs’ titular purple fruit.

Plum will be launching “Dead Leg” on July 2nd at OAF Gallery Bar, on a bill that includes Melbourne’s Glaciers and the always fantastic Black Springs

PREMIERE: Library Siesta – My Valentine

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As a small child, I was involved in a traffic accident that scarred me for the rest of my life. I was at Woolies, right between dairy and fruit, cruising in the infant section of the shopping trolly. It was a T-300 model, to be precise. Anyway, my fuckstick of a brother decided it would be hilarious to thrust the trolly into light speed, forcing it beyond a controllable momentum. Sure, the first few seconds were fun, possibly even thrilling. But when the milk section started looming closer and closer, I knew that my life was about to change. I was the Titanic, on course to hit an immovable iceberg. The crash couldn’t have been more melodramatic if James Cameron had directed it himself. Now, whenever I pass a supermarket of any sort – Coles, Woolies, shit, even IGA – a shiver propels itself through my spine, and I can taste the drip of low-fat cow products coursing their way down my cheek. It’s still hard to know where the milk stopped and the tears began.

However, if there was anything that was going to shock my trollyphobia out of me, it’d probably be this new clip from Library Siesta. “My Valentine”, a track ripped from their great debut Future Haunts, takes a Go Pro, an abandoned trolley and LS’s irrepressible charm, and combines them with a bunch of You Am I-inspired guitar solos. It’s a helluva time, and enough to think that maybe…maybe…I’ll be ready to face my fears and buy moderately priced veggies without having a nervous breakdown.

PREMIERE: Roomates – Stay With Me / Burnt Down

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It’s almost become common knowledge around these parts that Beko Disques, the micro-label out of France, does a better job of representing great Australian music than local labels. How some bloke from the other side of the world has managed to spit out releases from obscure but brilliant Aussies like TEES, PILLS, Day Ravies, and more is a complete mystery.

The spot-on musical recommendations are still coming thick and fast from Beko, with the latest announcement of their latest artist Roomates. The solo project from Melbourne’s Jake Lanyon, these bedroom recordings are miles ahead of the usual “mere bedroom recordings”, loaded with inherently sorrow vocals that scrape over bare bones guitar. Skeletal and simple, “Stay With Me” and “Burnt Down” are terrific examples of blissful content and raw pain laying side by side. Do yourself a favour, and get yourself familiar with Roomates.

PREMIERE: Yes, I’m Leaving – Discard EP

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

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

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

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

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

PREMIERE: Prints Familiar – Screenshot

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I’m on my deathbed. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, but the Black Plague is upon me. I’m suffocating on waves of phlegm, my bones hurt, my throat is lined with blades that gleefully slice and dice my oesophagus every time I inhale. I’m being skullfucked by the Grim Reaper, and these are my final words: enjoy the latest from Prints Familiar!

Formerly known as just Prints, the Sydney foursome have just announced their sophomore EP, following on from last years Some People Will Listen to Anything. As coughing fits consume my soul, I’ll weakly reach out to press play on “Screenshot”, their new single. Part Strokes, part The Bravery, “Screenshot” is the past decade’s golden bands of indie rock distilled into one danceable tune that’s catchier than the sickness that is currently wreaking havoc upon my very being.

Prints Familiar will be launching “Screenshot” when they support the very excellent Good Counsel at their album launch next Thursday, the 26th of November, at the Newtown Social Club.

PREMIERE: The Wedge Tape

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You know you’re the head honcho of a major label when you decide to turn down hot chips for wedges. “No thanks mate, trying to take care of the whole kilojoule intake, hahaha”, you’ll chide at the confused waiter, “I don’t know if you know this, but I’m the head of Strong Look Records, so it’ll be just the wedges for me, thanks”. You’ll take a big juicy bite out of that thick, brown un-chip, coated in sour cream, let a little morsel dribble down your chin, and exclaim, “Man, it’s good to be king”.

Which is why it comes as no surprise that the Strong Look Greatest Hits package is named after a label head’s favourite snack. The Wedge Tape contains a collection of un-released, alternative and live tracks from artists on and associated with Strong Look.

Just like a wedge, there’s a whole lot to sink your teeth into. A few new, or at least unrealeased sunny pop jams from Disgusting People, a live take of a Weak Boys favourite in THE BIGGEST VENUE IN SYDNEY, and an acoustic version of “Dog Farm” that brings out the Galaxie 500 in the band. There’s also the inclusion of the driving gnash of “Kewl December” from the shrouded Solid Dad, the genius chopped electronica of The Seaport and the Airport, and even a live comedy skit from ROMI.

Whatever you’re after, it’s all here, in one convenient location for your listening pleasure. And that’s why Strong Look Records is the best major label a band could be on: they give the b-sides the big budget treatment that others couldn’t begin to fathom.

You can pick up the tape from Strong Look’s Bandcamp here. And while you’re over there, you may as well have a browse through some of their other releases, like Weak Boys ‘Weekdays/Weekends’, which remains one of the best albums to be released in Shitney.

PREMIERE: Little Desert – Resurrection

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Cinematic is just a word until its applied to the music of Little Desert; their songs are high-stake battles waging between the voice of Esther Rivers and the dramatic clashes of horror-film synth, sneering guitars and other various looming aggravations. Every note that Little Desert howl is confidently pushed to its extreme. Take their new song “Resurrection” – just sitting through its near seven minutes is a heart-stopping experience.

The second track off their forthcoming debut album ‘Saeva’, out November 15th on it Records (Liam Kenny, Miles Brown),  “Resurrection” an exhilarating, feature-length test of the senses, prodding the shit out of every fibre in one’s being for the entire duration. At first, Little Desert tease, but soon, they’re soaring skyward on Roland S Howard-inspired towers of paranoid musicianship, fiercely led by Rivers’ defiant vocal exorcism. Little Desert aren’t just a picturesque throw-back to the best era of gothic post-punk (1980: ‘Kaleidoscope’, ‘Closer’, ‘In the Flat Field’, say no more); they don’t just tap into what made this genre great, they drive new life into it.

Little Desert’s ‘Saeva’ will be out November 15th on it Records. In Melbourne, they’ll be launching the album at The Tote on the 21st, w/ Teuton + Mollusc + Half Mongrel. In Brisbane, they’ll be at Crowbar on the 28th, joined by the insane lineup of OCCULTS, Last Chaos, Pleasure Symbols and Death Church. Sydney launch is going to be at Blackwire on the 26th.

PREMIERE: No Through Road – Lo-Fi Sandwich Mastered

10 years ago, Matt Banham was more of a 7/11 meat pie monstrosity, than the gorgeous dumpling you see above. He also lived in Adelaide, and was in a band called No Through Road. They were great, and that’s a fact. Besides an off-duty-but-on-point cover of Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok”, No Through Road also left behind a plethora of material, including the incredible ‘Lo-Fi Sandwich’. It’s recently gotten a 10-year anniversary mastering, and I GOT THE PREMIERE. SUCK IT PITCHFORK. Listen below, and read a totally serious interview between myself and Sydney’s sweetheart:

 

R: How would you describe the levels of irony in re-mastering an album with the word “Lo-Fi” in the title?

M: It’s the ultimate irony really. or as my friend Joey put it ‘Lo-firony’.

R: Why is this the first No Through Road/Matt Banham album to get a re-master? Why is this one specifically deserving?

M: Well this album never got mastered in the first place. I just put up the unmastered tracks online for free. I didnt really know/appreciate what mastering did back then. I sort of understand it now but it still confuses me. Makes stuff sound better tho. Tim Carr mastered this for me and managed to keep it true to its original shit form but now you can just hear the shit a bit more clearly. Which is perfect.I’m gonna keep the original unmastered version up online for the purists. I dont want people to think im some sort of monster like George Lucas.

R: Is that a portrait of you on the front cover?

M: My buddy Nick Walton had a calander of flight attendents and he thought this guy looked a bit like me. So he painted a copy of the guy. That poor flight attendant. I wonder if he knows he is a timeless album cover now.

R: Where do you reckon “Lo-Fi” Sandwhich sits in the Banham Canon?

M: This was made when No Through Road was about to record Too Much or Not Enough but my brother damaged his wrist in a pub brawl and couldnt play drums for a while so we had to postpone the recording for about 6 months. I was writing heaps and not doing much so I made this in my bedroom with whomever happened to be over at my house when I felt like recording. 3 of the songs were recorded at my buddy Nic Datson’s house because he had an electornic drumkit and lots of beer. I think this might be the best album I’ve ever made. Maybe because I made it so quickly and didn’t try to polish it up too much. I hardly even mixed it, just recorded it on a $15 mic I bought from Tandy into my computer. Something about that makes me like it even more. My favourite parts of albums are usually the little bits of rubbish you can hear in the background and this album is full of background rubbish. Songs dont matter, music is all about the rubbish.

R: You’ve recorded in a lot of bedrooms and houses in your various guises – what is it about lo-fi recordings that appeals to you?

M: I used to listen to a lot of ‘lo-fi’ bands and recordings. Especially early Smog stuff. You can learn so much about how to record music from listening to that sort of stuff and reading magazines like Tape-op. Part of it was born out of necessity and laziness but most of it was because I prefered doing stuff at home in my own time and when I felt inspired to do so. It’s so much fun to make something with just the stuff lying around your house, writing a song while you are recording it. Trying to reproduce that stuff in studios rarely works. A couple of the songs on this album ended up on a later No Through Road album which we made in a studio and if I am being honest I think they sound better on this.

R: The whole album can be pretty morbid and sad, lots of break up anthems – have you changed your life view since?

M: I’m definately less whiney and cranky than I used to be. Actually I might be more cranky now. But about other things. Like hard drives breaking or walking around Ikea. And I’m still pretty whiney too I guess. So not much has changed really.

R: You’ve moved from Adelaide to Sydney since this album came out – why the hell would you do that?

M: The move seemed pretty natural. I was stuck in a boring job in Adelaide and my band hand broken up and a lot of friends had moved away. My girlfriend Romi got into honours up here and in Melbourne and I go crazy after a few hours in Melbourne so we moved here.

R: What else has changed since this album came out?

M: One of the biggest things that has changed is how much easier it is to put your music online now. When I put that album up online for free there was no bandcamp or soundcloud, no Radiohead with their rainbows, I was a pioneer, pushing the frontiers of the information super highway. My website’s server only had 100mb of space on it and the mp3s of the album were about 60. So I had to delete a lot of stuff on my website to make room for the album. And the bandwith I had was so small that after it got downloaded a bunch of times my site would just go down for a week or two till it ticked over to the next month. I’m sure there was probably a better way to do all this back then but I had no clue what I was doing.

R: Do you think you’d get No Through Road back together, or is your allegiance with Weak Boys now?

M: I’m sure NTR will play again one day, its a lot harder now because we all live in different states and most of us have started new musical endevours. But it was a great band and a lot of fun. When our back catalogue gets some new found fame thanks to a horrible Zach Braff movie we will do a reunion tour and make all the money back we lost in our first run. Plans are already in the works for a second Weak Boys album. I wanted to call the first one ‘Debutt’ but the others wouldn’t let me. Maybe this time I can convince them…

R: Unrelated question, but when will Season 3 of Matt Banham’s Jokes be coming out?

M: One day, one day. When I finished s(w)eason 2 i realised that I spent about as much time on that as I had on any album that I had made before and wondered what on earth I had done. Should you really spend months of your life making terrible videos for terrible jokes on the interet? Probably. My next venture into gags will be my long awaited live comedy album recorded in a retaurant called “One Liners & Fine Diners”. Might come out later this year. If you are very lucky.

PREMIERE: Mallee Songs – Water

You plebeians have all heard of Beko Disques, yeah? French label that’s supported Australian music in the same way that goon supports the drinking habits of students everywhere? They’ve put out records by Day Ravies, PILLS, Cool Sounds, KID XL, Hideous Towns and Parading, just to name a fraction. That’s the kind of resume that get’s employer’s mouths salivating.

Hence, it’s a fucking pleasure to premiere a new track from Beko Disques stable. An amalgamation of Melbourne, Geelong and Japan injections, Mallee Songs has developed from a solo project to a fully-fledged band. And oh, how full of a sound do they possess! Woods, Ducktails, and DIIV all shine through here, gooey guitars splashing onto some goddamn SERENE vocals. Did it hurt, Mallee Songs? When you fell from heaven? ‘Cos you’re an angel. A fucking angel, mate.