New: The Rangoons – Cult of Thorns

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I very vividly remember watching The Rangoons playing this at the Marrickville Bowlo a few months back and thinking, “Wow – this band is cool”. Not in the way that sleeping in is cool, or finding a new cheap pork roll shop is cool. I mean cool in that what you’re witnessing is above and beyond you. It’s cool in that you feel like you’re peering into some sort of secret society that has its own rituals and habits. There’s an excitement and a rush to it, discovering something that you aren’t supposed to. I watched The Rangoons, still and quite but bubbling underneath, close to erupting, as the band rolled the words “Which” and “Witch”, around their mouths, spitting them over a cerebral guitar lines.

The song I heard that day now has a name, “Cult of Thorns”, and an official Internet release as of yesterday. Recorded, The Rangoons have maintained that itching paranoia that contaminates the live version, a subdued serial killer edge of mania smothering the song. I was right the first time – The Rangoons are one of the coolest bands in Australia.

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New: Sarah Mary Chadwick – Cool It/Makin’ It Work

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It is honestly a really, really tough decision to decide which Sarah Mary Chadwick thing I like better – her art or her music.

On the one hand, her music is some of the most unflinching, unapologetic stabs into the darkest corners of the heart. It’s jagged, minimal and unrelenting, her voice cracking like lips under the full brunt of an Arctic wind, displaying raw and painful and utterly transfixing emotion. Once a Sarah Mary Chadwick song begins, and that Kiwi-tinged mourn begins, it’s tough to do anything else but sit there and listen in wonder.

On the other hand, her artwork is fantastically graphic. Just like her music, it dives headfirst into ugliness – the parts of romance that are unromantic, of exploitation and fear – and rears up something quite beautiful and distinct.

But hey, there’s no reason to choose a favourite; in the words of everyone’s favourite taco spokesperson – por que no los dos? In anticipation of her new record Roses Always Die, Chadwick will be providing a unique screen print for everyone that pre-orders the record! Get it here, or buy it when it comes out on August 5th, through Rice is Nice.

New: Scotdrakula – Skeleton Fever

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A few months ago, a Facebook event popped up that said something along the lines of “FINAL SCOTDRAKULA SHOW…”, and my heart jumped into my mouth. Beads of sweat trailed down my scalp, a burning rash of anxiety shot through my innards – Scotdrakula were breaking up???

Yes, and no – Scotdrakula will continue, but without the spiritual mentorship and bass whizz Dove Bailey, who has left for New York. On the upside, Dove has made his final mark with “Skeleton Fever”, a significantly beautiful song that needs your ears like Mike Baird needs a crack in the head. It follows down the road of Scotdrakula’s more poignant jams like “Break Me Up”, gently unspooling alongside a buzzing organ and toe-tapping guitar melodies. With it’s yearning chorus and hazy charm, there’s something immediately comfortable “Skeleton Fever”, even if you’re only hearing it for the first time.  And although it’s comparatively quieter to the speedy, jilted garage-pop they’ve became known for, it still hits home as hearteningly as anything Scotdrakula have written before.

Scotdrakula are going on the huge ‘Up the Guts’ tour of Australia with Scott and Charlene’s Wedding, Ali E, Ben Wright Smith and more – dates here

Album Review: Gooch Palms – Introverted Extroverts

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Getting in on the ground level of a band that you go onto love is both good and bad. On the one hand, you get to see them develop from their scrappy beginnings, going from struggling with a couple of chords to unprecedented levels of success. On the other hand, there’s that risk of the band developing further and further away from what made you like them in the first place – The Westerberg Effect, if you will. This is the crossroads that I find myself staring at with The Gooch Palms, one of my all time favourites – on their second full-length album, where they going to make a Let It Be or an All Shook Down?

Newcastle’s Kat Friend and Leroy McQueen have made extraordinary progress since their humble beginnings as proud Novos flogging a Ramones covers EP on Bandcamp; it’s been crazy to see them go from support slots in Frankie’s Pizza to the Enmore Theatre. Their success is well deserved – since relocating to the USA and amidst a near constant touring schedule, their stage presence, (which was already full of Beavis butt tattoos and Twisted Sister covers) has been honed into them realising their potential as one of the most reliably entertaining bands to have called Australia home. So yeah, the live aspect still rules, but what about the new album? Have the Yanks diluted that ragged garage pop spirit that drew in so many eager punters like myself?

NOT AT ALL! Are you kidding me? You doubting piece of shit! Why the hell would you think the Gooch Palms would suddenly lose their magic? Listen to “Tiny Insight” above – that song fucking rules. That track is the equivalent of a 2 Dollar Tequila Night – two minutes, and you’re covered in sweat, shivering and intoxicated, delirious on the elixir of something sweet and jagged at the same time.

Fans of that driving, gonzo punk that propelled The Gooch Palms to cult status will not be disappointed – Introverted Extroverts is full of songs like “Living Room Bop”, “Eat Up Ya Beans”, “If You Want It” and “Sleep Disorder” that showcase that distinct Gooch Palms sound. Cutthroat riffs and throat-shredding chorus’ pure bred for an adoring crowd to belt back into the faces of the two disciples of the Church of Reatard. It’s colourful, inhibition-obliterating stuff – alcohol, with none of the calories and twice the flavour.

However, what’s really precious about Introverted Extroverts aren’t the mad dashes of lunatic garage but rather the ballads that sit pretty amongst the insanity. The songwriting chops of Kat and Leroy have been significantly expanded – although their debut Novos had highlights in the slow-burners “Don’t Cry” and “You”, but the fourth quarter half court shots of “Long Gone” and “Don’t Look Me Up” force you to look at the Gooch Palms in a whole new light. Not only can these guys slow their songs down, there’s none of the holding-up-a-flickering-lighter-anthem strength that coated their debut’s softer moments – these songs are naked; songs of stand alone incredibility.

I don’t think you’d ever apply the word ‘matured’ to the band with a frontman that constantly relives Andrew Johns’ Greatest Hits every time he’s onstage, but I don’t think I ever want The Gooch Palms to ‘mature’. I want them to keep that rawness, that screeching element that forces anyone to drop what they’re doing in fear and excitement. But I also want them to build as a band, to never put out the same records twice. And in Introverted Extroverts, the Gooch Palms have done that. They’re not the same band that I first saw – they’re better.  The Gooch Palms have evolved in the way that you want  a band to involve: without abandoning their roots but building upon them. And in that, they’ve swayed from the Westerberg Effect and landed squarely in the Husker Du Hypothesis: keep the fuckers pleasantly surprised with more the same unexpectedness. Mission accomplished.

Introverted Extroverts is out now through Gooch Palm’s own label Summer Camp Records, and available here. They’ll be swinging back through Australia in a few months time, playing Oxford Art Factory on August 20th, tix here.

Video: The Ocean Party – Back Bar

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Another year, another Ocean Party record – it’s the stuff that helps folks like myself battle through these freezing winters. When the frostbite sets in, just know that the OP Crew will be personally delivering one of the records of the year any day now. And so, without further ado, take off the gloves and check out their latest, “Back Bar”, from their forthcoming sixth album.

After pumping out album after album, “Back Bar” shows that The Ocean Party have perfected their brand of pop. Close your eyes, and seep into that familiar Ocean Party sound of crisp guitars and honeyed vocals.

Then open those eyes and witness the terror of their new video – it’s David Cronenberg meets jangle-pop! A body horror film brought to you by Melbourne’s favourite sons! I’ve never been so repulsed and turned on in my entire life.

Get lubed up and catch The Ocean Party when they swing through town for a free show at the Union Hotel on the 9th of July, with old mates Cool Sounds.

Volumes 2016 Mixtape

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Last year, Sydney got a huge leg up in the form of Volumes Festival, a multi-venue event that put a spotlight on all the fan-fucking-tastic music we get to call our own in this city, as well as a 11/10 show from Blank Realm. Even the piece of shit writing this sentence had a pretty good time!

Which is why I’m really happy that Volumes will be returning for another year! Not only have the team expanded to include an extra day and the Burdekin Hotel amongst last year’s venue collective of The Oxford Art Factory, Brighton Up Bar and Cliff Dive, but they’ve delivered a lineup that forces even a chode like myself to concede a gasp of “Wow…”.

The full lineup and tickets can be scored here, but if ya want a pick of the best of the bunch, read on below:

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Formerly known as Black Vanilla, the Friday night headliners will be bringing their ferociously dark party to Volumes for a night of hedonism. In their own words: “No once cares how well you move, so just move”.

FISHING

The last time I saw FISHING, they rapped in French, and then brought up the Al Wright from Cloud Control for a song that sounded like the spiritual successor to Underworld’s “Born Slippy”. I don’t know how the hell they’ll be able to top that, but after months away, honing new material, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that FISHING’s return to the stage will see a truly crazy performance.

Rainbow Chan

Rainbow Chan is definitely the best thing in electronic music right now. Every time I see, hear or even think about her music, the words “jilted pop perfection” brand themselves into my brain. Her debut album will be out by the time she hits the stage for the first night of Volumes, so make sure you get a good spot early, because you’ll be one of the thousands clamouring to catch the biggest sensation of 2016.

Donny Benet

It’s been far too long since the ripple of Donny’s smooth and sensual touch has been felt. The sophisticated lover will be sparing no expense on the Saturday night, enrapturing all those who dare to feel the heat. Fuck, I’m licking my lips just thinking about this.

Unity Floors

I’ll take any excuse to belt out “Nice Fit” and all the other classic hits these guys have made over the years. UF’s second album Life Admin should be out by the time Volumes hits, so there’s plenty of time to learn the lyrics to all the new classics as well.

Rolling Blackouts CF

Someone once called Rolling Blackouts CF “…the best band ever…”, and that someone is me.

Scott and Charlene’s Wedding

Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, the third best Neighbours-themed band from Melbourne, hardly make the trek to Sydney anymore, so any opportunity to see them should not be missed. Besides all the classics like “Rejected”, “Lesbian Wife” and “Jackie Boy”, they also do a killer cover of the Go-Betweens’ “Karen”, so make sure you’re front and centre when they tear Brighton Up Bar a new one.

The Harpoons

I’ve sorely missed The Harpoons’ R&B-tinged synth pop – it’s lip-biting, misty eyed stuff, and I’m filled with anticipation at the mere thought of swaying along with hundreds of others to “Unforgettable”.

Summer Flake

Summer Flake’s Hello Friends has been my ‘Album of the Week’ for the past three months – I’m a lazy shit who keeps forgetting to update that section of the website, but there’s also a hint of truth to my mistake. Summer Flake’s disarming honesty, golden guitar and harrowing voice makes her the perfect recipient of such a prestigious award. Can’t wait to catch Steph Crase and co. when they swing through Sydney again!

 

Volumes 2016 takes place on Friday the 25th and Saturday the 26th of August, all up and down Oxford St. Once again, tix and full lineup here.

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

Album Review: Zone Out – Transcience

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Zone Out has been kicking around Melbourne for a few years now, mainly centred around the gorgeous vocals of Ashley Bundang. For their debut album, Zone Out have stripped back to the two piece of just Bundang and best mate Dove Bailey (Scotdrakula), and let me tell ya, the result is nothing less than spectacular.

To describe Transcience in one word is to call it ethereal. Sure, seems like a bit of a buzz word for lazy writers, and although I demand to be referred to as such, Zone Out really do tick all the boxes for the ‘ethereal’ tag. The album strolls but never meanders, each track gentle and warm, like Bjork in animated suspension. There’s an otherworldly quality to the way Zone Out produce their songs, each one lush with detail that’s spread peacefully throughout. Nothing seems rushed or stretched, it’s just a record that you can sit down with and enjoy washing over you.

Transcience’s standout comes from the previous 7″ track “Inside”, an intimate song that features some delicate guitar work from Bailey. It’s a warm blanket of a track, one that is all too easy to bury yourself under when all the stresses of the outside world become a bit too much.

Indeed, “Inside” works as a great encapsulation of the record as a whole: a beautiful and instantly familiar retreat from everything. Transcience is a simple pleasure, but one that will deliver as a sturdy companion for years to come. Even when the vinyl is scratched and dusty, this album feels like one that can be relied on for some time.

Transcience is available now on Deaf Ambitions. Grab the vinyl or digital download from Bandcamp here.

Since Dove has gotten married (YAY DOVE!) and moved overseas, Zone Out will be completing their album tour as a solo show. Catch Ashley playing at the Union Hotel on Friday June 10th. It’s a free show, Ciggie Witch will also be launching their great new record on the night, and Greenwave Beth and Black Springs will be along for the ride as well.

 

Album Review: Police Force – Formula 1

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Punk rock and the police are intrinsically linked – from the early days of cops breaking skulls at Saints’ shows, to classic track after classic track after classic track about the punks’ and pigs’ mutual respect for one another – the embrace between the badge and three chords is a strong one.

Brisbane’s Police Force don’t explicitly state anything about coppers on their tape, but I like to reckon that they’re reflecting the seedy underbelly and corruption of a modern day police force in the way they make music. The scuzz that coats this tape is filthy and repugnant (read: 10/10); the sneer that marks their voices drawls with acidic vigour. In songs like “The News” and “Freaking Out the Squares”, there’s the same kind of blind red-misted fury that you’d see in the eyes of a cop about to beat the living shit out of some 16 year old trying to have fun in a backyard. Only this time, the roles have been reversed – now, it’s the musicians deploying their seething vitriol, using instruments instead of batons and pepper spray.

Simply by utilising what sounds like a few synths, a drum machine and some guitar, Police Force’s  Formula 1 delivers raw and dirty punk, stuff that seeps into your skin and lays a few eggs. 1977-era Martin Rev and Alan Vega would have fucking loved this record. Actually, scratch that – modern day Martin Rev and Alan Vega would fucking love this record.

Formula 1 is out now on Tenth Court Records. Grab it through Bandcamp here.

New: Alex Lahey – Let’s Go Out

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Talking a bunch of shit on this ratty blog pales in comparison to a Best New Music thumbs up from Pitchfork, but hey, here we go. Alex Lahey, a bloody star and a half, is only three tracks deep, but fuck, if you  have even a 30-second geez at what she’s put out, it’s fair to say you’ll be more hooked than a game of Big Buck Hunter that’s broken and accidentally spitting out free games.

Let’s take a proper gander at this bloody recipe for success:

  1. Her latest, “Let’s Go Out” is a song about cutting loose set to a plucky riff, that features a chorus infectious enough to cause pangs of jealousy in Madonna.
  2. The video features a dog.

Seriously, that’s all you need to put together an absolute barnstormer of a single. Good on ya Laz, this one’s a ripper.