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?

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Album Review: Summer Flake – Time Rolls By EP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New: Summer Flake + Alex Lahey + Fern

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I’d love to give each of these women their own little post, because god knows they deserve it. But these tracks have gone undocumented for too long, and I’m afraid that if I let it go any longer then I won’t get to lay claim about being into them before they were headlining Coachella. Bragging rights are pretty much the only reason I exist, and it’s taken too long for me to post about these tracks. Look, what I’m saying is that I’m fucking lazy –  give us a break, I’ve been watching the #libspill with my parents, I’ve been doing some real productive shit.

Summer Flake – The Sun Won’t Shine

Summer Flake returns with her trademark stab of evocative songwriting. She’s in full flight with “The Sun Won’t Shine”, a song that’s delivered with all the potent beauty that Steph Crase’s voice is capable of (hint: a fuck tonne). BUT BE WARNED! Listen to the lyrics and prepare to burst into tears. If you want to just go about your life, drinking coffee and ruling at Instagram, then feel free to float along with the clinking guitars and Summer Flake’s gorgeous vocals. Take even the mildest peep into the words coming from her mouth, and you’ll be opened to a world of nihilistic self-criticism. In saying that, Summer Flake is probably the only one who can make you giggle to a line like “You’ve got no chance of ever succeeding”. She’s a real charmer like that

P.S Let’s smile at our insecurities together this weekend when Summer Flake plays at the Small World Festival. Palms, Jack Ladder, DZ Deathrays and the fucking CHURCH are playing as well.

Alex Lahey – Air Mail

Take a look at that photo. Shit, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were looking at a Courtney Barnett Jr. – cool looking lady that you can’t help but want to be best mates with after a glance, wearing a normal sweater and shoulder length brunette hair. Jesus, she’s even standing in front of a homemade nature painting. MILK! OI MILK! I GOT YA NEXT SIGNING! RIGHT BLOODY HERE!

Actually, I was impressed with Alex Lahey before I pressed the play button, and it’s got nothing to do with any sort of likeness to another Melbournite. She also plays in Animaux, and makes an appearance in the new Tully on Tully clip; but her solo material moves far away from the electro-pop stylings of the former two. “Air Mail” is a simple, plucky tune, anchored by a steady, honeyed voice – on her debut, Lahey manages to be catchy without relying on any cliched tricks. She simply sings about body parts and love (don’t be fucking gross ya muppet) and wraps the whole thing up in less than three minutes. How’s that for a bloody Cinderella effect? Well produced and buoyant, Lahey has made a spot on pop song and what’s more, she sounds like she’s done it before having the first sip of a morning coffee. Well worth keeping an eye on this one.

Fern – It Comes Slow

This is a slow burner. Like, Sixth Sense levels of slow burner. Nearly running into five minutes, Fern drop a few subtle hints of how awesome its gonna get/the fact that Bruce has been a ghost THIS ENTIRE TIME. We’ve got lush vocals, a nice palette of instrumentation, and tantalising pushes in the chorus that hint at something more. It’s not until the finale were the potential is unlocked: the guitars churn to an impossible rate, Willis collapses to his knees and the audience lets out a collective “OH FUCK, ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?”. Just do us a favour Fernies, don’t go the way of M. Night Shyamalan. Nobody needs another bloody Village.

Album Review: Wireheads – Big Issues

a0242313477_10The album cover for the second Wireheads record features a painting of a horse that looks like it’s been savagely beaten. Waitasecond…are you tryna say what I think what your tryna say? That Wireheads are beating a dead horse? That they’re flogging the same old concept over and over again? Is that what you’re tryna say, is it, HUH PUNK? Well, you’re dead fucking wrong, yeah, because that’s one crime that Wireheads have yet to commit. You can get in a huff about their lo-fi recordings, their inability to play on a stage that can only hold the average sized band, or even their Adelaide origins (why you’d get pissed off about the place where you can find both fuck off giant sharks and WOMADELAIDE is beyond me). But accusing them of rolling out the same tired tricks is simply not something that Wireheads are capable of.

Their debut, ‘The Late Great Wireheads’ was certainly interesting, but ‘Big Issues’ articulates the strangeness and unique abilities of the band far better. First off, getting Calvin Johnson of K Records/Beat Happening fame to record the album was a 10/10 idea. That man is pretty much the reason that oddball lo-fi reached the lounge room stereos of the globe, especially a place as far flung as South Australia, where that label seems to have, at least partially, inspired a similar scene that includes luminaries like Fair Maiden and Bitch Prefect. But back to ‘Big Issues’; getting Johnson to record Wireheads  has allowed more focus, the random intrusions of their unorthodox breathing more easily between the usual battle cries of frontman Dom Trimboli.

From the second track in, the band establish a triple threat avalanche of mope-pop which makes for the first showcasing of the great musical sensibilities of Wireheads. “Boys Home” is a salad days reflection paired with niggly guitar parts and detached percussion; “Glass Jaws” paints a brief, strung-out, harmonica-led Garfield comic come to life. And “Crooked Cults” features a chorus that manages to sling together a Star Trek reference and bullying in a couplet: “Beam me up Scotty/Gimme ya church money/It’s not your fault but I’ve got no one else to blame”. Which leads to a very serious question: what the fuck is church money? Is that a thing that only exists in the City of Churches? Is it a replacement for lunch money? Is that why the kids in Adelaide are so thin – they’ve been giving all their money for sandwiches to the Church? Tracey Grimshaw, you’ve got your work cut out for you on the next episode of A Current Affair.

Wireheads play the cards of diversity, moving from their stringy guitar shredding and onto pleasant country being beaten to death by squalling No Wave (“The Frisco Tracks”), a supremely impressive punk bombing (“Year of the Horse”) and a starry eyed Americana twirl (“Victorious Hermit”). There’s plenty to be sink into here, and all of it is loaded with a ramshackle sandpaper quality.

Wireheads are hilarious, morbid, and an incredible product that could have only been sourced locally. But best of all, they’re interesting; there’s no chance of getting bored with what Wireheads have to offer. They’re a strange breed, an almost octopus that live in a weird town, and produce weirder records, providing a perfectly skewed alternative to the slicker produced popularity of Twerps et. al.  ‘Big Issues’ might have a dead horse on the cover, but Wireheads are far too engaging to fall victim to that, or any, cliche.

‘Big Issues’ is out now on Tenth Court. Melbourne folk can catch ’em at the Tote this Friday, with Old Mate, The Shifters and Great Outdoors. Grab the album over at the Tenth Court Bandcamp here.

Album Review: Bad//Dreems – Dogs At Bay

Bad//Dreems – four dudes from Adelaide with an affinity for the oft-forgotten backslash. They wear mud-smeared uniforms, and beards slash their faces; their first t-shirt parodied the West End Beer Logo. As for their music, the band unleash their guitars in droves, fuzz hurled at the listener with a reckless, growling grin. It’s straightforward rock and roll, entrenched in pub rock tradition, with the records of Cold Chisel, Coloured Balls and The Angels still ringing in the ears.

Bad//Dreems are easy to fall in love with, especially for the average Australian. What better way to soundtrack the sweet summers of ’13 and ’14 than with a few tinnies snuck from Dad’s fridge, beach body envy and some rock music that makes you wanna to throw your fist in the air?

But anyone who’s delved into Bad//Dreems discography and actually cared to flick their ears on will soon be switched onto the subversive, self-deprecating nature of the band. Between the impassioned ocker riffs and pounding drums is self-doubt, and equal dolings of homage and criticism to Australian culture. Nestled between the songs about girls are genuine moments of fucked-up, thrashing abandonment. It’s a powerful concoction, one that makes Bad//Dreems stand out from the rest of the bands that flood the carpets of the local.

This dual personality aspect of Bad//Dreems has never been stronger than on their debut, ‘Dogs At Bay’. All that boiling potential – the crashing riffs, the piercing solos, the suffocating waves of authentic rock and roll that was bred from a beer-soaked carpet – all of that shines through here. Packed equally with radio-ready singles and songs for the summer festival season as it is with contaminated black sheep, this record is a triumph.

‘Dogs At Bay’ opens with some of the most overtly subversive songs Baddies have ever released: “New Boys”, “Cuffed & Collared”, and “Bogan Pride”. Despite the ocker titles, Bad//Dreems take the piss in the most applaudable fashion since Jonathan Swift. They tackle overt masculinity with deftness, paired with sprawling, catatonic riffs soaked in the sweat of a body-builder. When Ben Marwe whispers “Big muscles fucking up my sweatshirt, big muscles pumping into my dreams!” before bellowing a nightmarish work out routine, the amount of shivers that rock the average listener’s mild frame is enough to halt even the most sturdy of pacemakers.

The whole record isn’t devoted to taking the piss on clueless blokes –  there’s plenty more to the Bad//Dreems camp than frustration. Spurred by chewing riffs, “Nadine” punches out the lights, an underdog boxer stuck in a corner, fighting their way out with pure fury, just trying to get to the fucking paradise that is Summer Hill. Then there’s the token track about girls – “Dumb Ideas”, which absolutely shreds the hell out of its subject matter. The main thing to be taken from that track is that everyone from Surry Hills is a piece of shit, which I thought was fairly obvious, but hey, the more people that know of the evil peril of that place, the better, amirite?

The face-melting rock is fantastic, and Bad//Dreems are doing it better than most, certainly. Hearing these songs on record, (or even better, at a show) and feeling a gut reaction to songs like “Dumb Ideas” and “Hiding to Nothing” is a cathartic experience, one that puts your clenched fist in the air with the rest and reduces your voice to that of Clint Eastwood after a pack of smokes. But there’s a lot of bands that can do that. What sets Bad//Dreems apart are the cracks in the record, where the humanity shows. “Ghost Gums”, “My Only Friend” and “Hume” are incredible songs, absolutely jaw-dropping, and help round out the album. They put the gnashing rock in perspective, and help make ‘Dogs At Bay’ a fucking album, as opposed to a series of singles. They’re delivered with humility and smarts, assuring that Bad//Dreems can’t be pigeonholed as a one off rock band doing a Barnesy impression.

With their ‘Dogs At Bay’, Bad//Dreems didn’t just suit the expectation, or impress. They went above and beyond, showing they could be just as at home writing a pop song as they were with a crushing riff or a tune laden with self-analysis. There needs to be more bands who sound like they have a wattle-bush stuck up their arse, who can reach the mainstream. Too many groups prefer to ape overseas ‘indie’ contemporaries. Fuck that, I want a band that sounds like they’ve just finished playing Goon of Fortune. Guess what? Bad//Dreems is that band. Hopefully, a shit tonne of people hear this album, and our pub rock culture will become richer for it, and soon, the dream of a million scrawny bands fighting

‘Dogs At Bay’ comes out Friday 21st of August on Ivy League Records, and Baddies will be playing OAF on the 9th of October w/ Green Buzzard and West Thebarton Brothel Party.

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.

New: Bad//Dreems – Hiding to Nothing

There’s no secret that there’s a lot of love between myself and Bad//Dreems. Who could resist four Adelaide blokes that have more hair between them than the average Yeti?

But it’s music first. The music always comes first, and their new single, shit, it’s good for these winter nights, tell you that much. “Hiding to Nothing” is a belter, one that’s been a staple of Baddies live set for a while now. It’s as warm as the beers they serve at the SCG, but has the opposite effect i.e it’ll knock you the fuck over. It’s got that swooping Chisel chorus, which wrestles with a huge body of dominating melody, crushing riffs played at a stampeding, roughneck pace, and Ben Marwe’s earnest bellow sailing over the top of it all like John Cena in the final moments of a bodyslam.

This thing is peak rock dogness. It is so huge and awesome. It is a bombast of white knuckle garage. It’ll dislocate your jaw with a sloppy jersey punch, and then shout you a beer at the post-match piss up. It’s both nodding its head in deep appreciation to the past, and ploughing into the stadium to plaster the next round of punters. It’s a fucking gem.

Gig Review: Bad//Dreems

Saturday 21st June @ GoodGod Small Club

I was 18 when I first saw Bad//Dreems. They played a house party in Redfern, and it was one of the best shows of my goddamn life. There was blood, sweat and enough beer to kill Boonie. The Modern History Exam I had the next day was a complete and utter write off. The examiner that looked through my answers was probably assuming that an illiterate Neanderthal with Parkinsons had adopted my name, and taken the assessment in my place. But it was worth it, oh so worth it, to see a band as good as Baddies play in such a corrupting environment.

Two years on, and Baddies have graduated to one of the most beloved rock acts in our fair country. They’ve got a little blue tick next to their name on Facebook and everything. Fuck, they’ve even got a Twitter account. Isn’t that the very definition of making it? They’ve got big things piling up, so before they crack the charts at No. 1 and play the Enmore Theatre to thousands of adoring fans, they gave the punters another go, and played a few intimate shows around the country to support their latest single “Cuffed and Collared”.

JODY opened proceedings with their brand of anthemic indie rock. These guys are young guns in the truest sense of the words. You can smell the hormones, wafting in tidal waves off their 19 year old bodies. Ladies and gents, please, contain yourselves. I believe a couple of them are single and rearing to go with all the youthful exuberance at their disposal, and that comes through their energy and constant streams of songs about girls. But I wouldn’t go near the frontman, Dom O’Connor. That human pleasure machine can play the fuck outta a guitar, move and hop around a show with the stage presence of Paul Westerberg on the third day of a two week binge, and knows his way around a melody. But he can’t finish a fucking Melbourne Bitter tinnie. No matter how many spot-on jams erupt from this beautiful man’s mouth, like “Never Change” (a spiritual successor to INXS if there ever was one) and “Codeine”, ya just can’t trust a bloke who can’t polish off one of Aus’ greatest gifts. Otherwise, fantastic show!

Mining Boom made the trek North for the Baddies show, and for that, I am forever grateful. Not only are they selling the best t-shirt in the music biz game, but they’ve got the choons to back it up. You know what type of fish Mining Boom would be if they were in the sea? A tune-a. Because they make music that good. It’s broken, fragile rock for the everyman, who owns a pair of dirty Redback’s, and a hi-vis that’s lost its sheen. Songs like “Telecom” and “PDA” are just as powerful gut punches as they were when they were released back in 2012, but the presence that frontman Paul French brings is more of a headspin than chowing down on a whole pack of Champion Ruby. New songs are stunning,  with the Mining Boom aesthetic of drenched, desperate romance remaining intact throughout. Apparently there’s an album in the works, but I don’t think the world is ready for that kind of brilliance. Regardless, you need to check out this band like a bloke from Chernobyl needs to check out that funny looking mark that’s recently developed on his collarbone.

But, look, this is all just pre-game. Bad//Dreems have let the kids have the oval, but it’s time to bring on the big guns. Mayhem erupts as Bad//Dreems launch into their heavy catalogue of top-notch tunes. One could go so far as to call them bangers. It’s pub rock, but delivered without the menace and overt masculinity that has restrained others, like Lubricated Goat and The Birthday Party, from reaching larger audiences. Some might say that’s a bad thing, but hey, different strokes for different folks. Some bands like to get in the nude on the ABC, others like to deliver muscular melodies. And the four flannel-clad guys thundering through hit after hit to the admiration of a few hundred fans were probably the only blokes capable of pulling off both feats.

Bad//Dreems are on fire. They plunder and pillage the room like they’re characters from Game of Thrones, and have a limited amount of time to connect with the audience and become their favourite figures before facing a brutal death at the hands of the Lannisters. The set swells, with excitement and energy being sprinkled through like a zealot chef making the recipe of their career. A heft portion of the a-spicy meatball, aka “Caroline”, swiftly complimented with a smidgen of “Too Old”. A dousing of “Dumb Ideas”, and an overdose of ocker riffs and frenzied headbanging via “Cuffed And Collared”. And to finish? Well, you just can’t leave a stage when the crowd so eagerly wants more, baying for music or blood with the enraged glare of the insane striding so radiantly from their eyes. So, you appease the appetite with a polite offering to the GODs, with the Australian classic of “My Pal” bringing the evening’ festivities to a glorious, sweaty, beer-soaked, suffocating end.

If this is the first you’ve heard of Bad//Dreems, then suck eggs, mate. This is a band bound for big things, and it looks like this GoodGod show might just be the final opportunity for punters to have caught them in intimate settings. But don’t get too offended – there will always be another chance to catch Baddies at a gig, and there’s a fair guarantee that you’ll be sorted for a good time. When a band can upend a crowd with as much joy and over-the-top rock ‘n’ roll perfection as Bad//Dreems accomplished at this show, there’s no doubt that they’ll be able to pull off this feat over and over again, only to bigger crowds and more adoring shitheads such as myself. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favour, and get on board with this band.

Album Review: Hydromedusa – S/T LP

Hydromedusa so metal, they make Ozzy Osborne finally shit out that bat’s head that he swallowed 20 years ago! OOOOOHHHHH! Hydromedusa so metal, Lars Ulrich started his campaign against file sharing again just to spite them out of any cash they might earn! HEEEEEEEEEYYYOOOO! Hydromedusa so metal, Mike Myers decided to digitally remove Alice Cooper’s scene from ‘Wayne’s World’ and replace him with Hydromedusa! BOOOOOOOM!

I can keep doing these all fucking day man, honestly, it’s a non-issue. As long, as I’ve got Hydromedusa in my life, and their sludgy riffs are slushing around in mostly-empty cavern of a skull, then I’ll be dimwittedly repurposing Yo Mama jokes with metal references. Hydromedusa are sick, and attempting to get #Hydromedusasometal trending on the blogosphere is the least I could do. Actually, the least I could do would be to immediately stop making jokes and write a few doggamn words about how good they are. So, I’ll probably do that, hey.

Take your mind back to when Black Sabbath and Motorhead were at their most debauched and demented. When a dozen lines of speed and a sacrifice to an Aztec demi-god was considered an acceptable substitute for the morning coffee? Well, take that manic pose, and strike it in the middle of Adelaide. The City of Churches is well known for pumping out its fair share of darker material (Wireheads, Rule of Thirds, Danny Whitten’s Veins), but Hydromedusa take it to a more eccentric and obvious level. They play like it’s their mission to overcome Kyuss’ legacy, and they’re not afraid to show it either. The riffs Hydromedusa play are peeled from the residue of a cone-piece, and tendrils of smoke linger with menace. They’re deadly, pungent, decadent, dripping in a slow-grinding fervour that makes the butterflies in my stomach begin to thrash and headbang with almost the same zeal as my own fucking cranium.

An album of simple, plunging riffs is something that can quickly turn into Deep Purple territory, but Hydromedusa are careful to tread that line with interjections where it appears like the Dark Lord himself is making an appearance in the recording studio. The thundering opening of “Company Man” is as close to riding out of the gates of Hell as we’ll come. The maelstrom of “Bells” sears the flesh with the same flame that wrought Sleep and High On Fire. And “Wintertime Blues” whips and cracks with an unrelenting fury, an impeding force of metallic churning and guitar solos alight with embers stoked from Satan’s own coffee machine.

Hydromedusa may ape their idols, but that’s okay, because they’re bringing the same ball-crunching, spleen-splitting, eye-gouging, tongue-wrenching, soul-consuming, body-engulfing spirit that made their heroes deliver such good music. They’re metal, in a traditional sense, and Australia can occasionally feel sparse in that regard. If ever the time calls for some boiling sludge that occasionally explodes into vitriolic gashes of metal that looks over its shoulder, reach no further than this Hydromedusa record.

Grab it from Hydromedusa’s Bandcamp here, available now through Tym Records.