New: So Pitted – Rot In Hell

 

So Pitted Band Photos

Some people think Sub Pop kind of went a bit soft when they signed Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty and Beach House. I think they’re forgetting the fact that this label has been home to some of the most batshit crazy bands of the last 30 years. And not just stuff like Mudhoney, feedtime, or Nirvana’s first (and best album). No, let us remember recent skull-poppers like METZ, Pissed Jeans, and Melbourne’s own Deaf Wish. When it comes to rock n roll that grinds your head in the pavement, Sub Pop can be trusted.

Enter So Pitted. Hold your horses, they are probably named after a dumb video on the Internet, but they are so much more than a catch phrase uttered by a grommet. “Rot In Hell” is loaded with an acidic sneer, rock dipped in a vat of the stuff that turned Bruce Banner into a green psychopath. So Pitted sound like they’re mutants yelling from a sewer, clawing at the ceilings, taunting their eventual arrival. It’s a death march, and they’re laughing, because you’re fucking next. George A. Romero would be so proud.

 

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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.

New: Marcus Whale – If

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Marcus Whale – one of the most constant heads you’ll see at any gig at Sydney. Also, the owner of some of the most impressive dance moves this city has had the pleasure of viewing. Seriously, when you head to a Collarbones show, there’s the unspoken law that you go for the music, but you stay for the dance moves. I didn’t invent the rule, it existed before I got here, and I’ve somehow become a disciple of it.

Besides Collarbones, Black Vanilla, Tennis Boys and Scissor Lock, (feel unproductive yet?) Marcus has been working on some solo material which melds his various guises and his background in classical music for a potent slow-burner. It begins with mournful piano droplets, introduces Marcus’ gentle vocals, and, with the help of some throbbing production and glistening strings, grows into a dark dance floor hit.

If this feels like a bit of a gush, it’s because it is. Marcus Whale occupies so many different territories with his music, and the sheer fact that he’s been able to mould all of his interests into something as beautiful and tantalising as “If” is a testament to his ability as a musician, vocalist and producer.

New: Spookyland – Bulimic

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Spookyland have always had a penchant for the epic – their EP from last year specialised in powerful, swelling anthems that made you stop in your tracks, take your hand off the X-Box controller, and really pay attention to the song blaring from your stereo. Spookyland have an inherent ability to gift people with raw and tantalising tales of heartbreak, and its a talent they’ve been exploiting tremendously.

But this, this is something else. “Bulimic” comes as an incredibly visual take on the heartbreak narrative, a cliche that Spookyland wrangle into their own beautiful story. Think of “Bulimic” as The Notebook of indie rock – emotional terrorism, a no expense-spared bashing of the soul. You think to yourself, surely, it can’t get any more brutal, but then Marcus Gordon applies even more pressure to the wound, and you’re in tears all over again. This thing goes for six-minutes, so there’s plenty of time for even the most sturdy individual to break down. You could be a toughened criminal, dotted with teardrop tattoos, a growl welded onto your face, a figure who doesn’t even know what the word sadness means….and by the end, you’d still be sopping wreck, complaining about all the dust that has suddenly appeared in the room.

Specifically, it’s that punishing finale that I believe to be the secret to “Bulimic” and its ability to pick our scabs of sadness. After three and a half minutes of Gordon rousting up the listener’s own demons and regrets, Spookyland fall head first into an astonishing climax. They go all out, ALL THE FUCK OUT, drawing up the Catalina Wine Mixer of conclusions. This thing is fucking enormous, a gargantuan battle between instruments, gouging each other’s eyes out, trying to get on top in the most glorious way possible. It’s huge and evocative and indescribable…every time I get to the end, my hands are shaking, my knees are weak, there’s vomit on my sweater already. Seriously, this track is so huge and devastating, it should have been made into a trilogy with Peter Jackson signing on for all three instalments.

“Bulimic” comes as the introduction to the forthcoming debut from Spookyland, and its got me chomping at the fucking bit. As far as the first course goes, this is the finest caviar served in a jewel-encrusted goblet that Jesus used to sip from. It does not get better than this.

Also, Spookyland will be playing the Newtown Festival on November 8th. It’s an arvo gig taking place in Camperdown Park, with mates like The Laurels, Gordi, FLOWERTRUCK and a bunch of others joining in. Catch ya there.

New: Little Desert – Captive

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Holy shit! Listen to this song! Watch this video! Rejoice in the fact that Little Desert is a band! They are so good! So, so, so good! It’s like Rowland S. Howard and Siouxsie Sioux teamed up for the most frantic and intriguing song of 2015!

There are three very distinct sections to “Captive”, but it’s hard to decide which is more essential. It begins with an overwhelming sense of biting anxiety, albeit buried under softly pattering guitar and soaring vocals. Things then fade into an almost completely different song: dooming rolls of thundering drums, spindly guitar and keys that belong in a slasher flick directed by Ed Wood, before indulging in one of the most arresting displays of theatrics since people lost their shit to Madama Butterfly. It’s a controlled blast of icy, gothic rage, and it’s a ride and a half that should shave your the skin off your cranium.

Do yourself a favour, listen to this song, and love this band. They are worth every second of your precious, precious time.

Album Review: Blank Realm – Illegals In Heaven

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Today was hard. Real hard. Top 5 hardest days of my life. After twenty minutes of trying to find my Mission of Burma record, I decided to go through and re-organise my record collection by genre. An honourable task, I know – truly, I am the people’s champion. But in all seriousness, we now live in a world where the The Replacements will no longer rub shoulders with Rob Zombie (it was an ill-advised present, I swear).

The only reason I mention this, besides to gloat, is that when Blank Realm’s new album ‘Illegals in Heaven’ arrives. It’s going to be tough to slot this record into one of the newly orgnaised pigeon holes. Sure, you can throw it amongst the rock stuff, but Blank Realm are too sensitive and honest to fit in with the cock rock that dominates my shelves. New Wave? There’s too much depth to throw it next to Bronski Beat and Human league records. Punk maybe? Nah, I don’t feel like burning down the government when I hear this band. Psych? Fuck no, who do you think I am? I don’t have a fucking psych section. Jesus Christ.

Blank Realm are remarkable for their ability to glide through their albums genre-less; the only thing that can be firmly planted on them is their uncanny skill to marry sorrow and incredible musicality. Since beginning eight years ago, they’ve released a constant run of albums that dabble in gnarled noise, synth-pop, lo-fi rock, and more, peaking in last year’s masterpiece, ‘Grassed Inn’. Since releasing that, and witnessing their amazing live show many, many, many times, Blank Realm have rocketed from underground favourites to Australian legends.

Not only does ‘Illegals in Heaven’ cement that ideology, but it seals it in carbonite, Han Solo-style. Soon, Blank Realm will be frozen in a horrified pose, placed as a trophy in the lair of some overweight tycoon (hey, how you going). This album is an accomplishment of variety – shifting from dazzling drama that wouldn’t feel out of place spurting from the world’s biggest stages, all the way to chugging swings of post-punk and yearning ballads that have reached the end and can’t go on any longer. There’s a wonderful smorgasbord available here for the fussy eaters – you’re welcome to pick and choose, but it’s recommended that you just sit down and gorge yourself on the sheer variety that’s available.

In saying this, Blank Realm display a logical graduation throughout ‘Illegals…’, rising and falling with the pulse of an expert mixtape, the kind that Rob Gordon from High Fidelity would fawn over. There’s a huge difference to the sporadic and random splurges of ideas that Blank Realm brought to their earlier output. The album opens with “No Views”, a frantic and frank ode to Blank Realm’s adeptness to explode from the iTunes Library and right into your very being, before manoeuvring into the herky-jerky “River of Longing”. You can bet a million and a half bucks that shit would be The OC’s theme song if that shit was still around.

Following on from the one-two punch of riveting gonzo pop that only Blank Realm are capable of delivering, they settle into a pattern of restless anti-love songs for the rest of the record – “Palace of Love” performs Waiting For Godot in a chamber of dense synths and fluttering guitars, whilst “Costume Drama” pairs a throng of careening, buzzsaw riffs with pleasant, clipping keys. The finale of”Too Late Now” shoots daggers of despair, a six and half minute anguish override. When Daniel Spencer sighs, “It’s much too late now, for you to ever come back/ It’s much too late now, they just don’t write ’em like that”, there’s a good chance you’ll throw up a little in your mouth in harmonised hopelessness.

That excerpt is just a sample of Blank Realm’s songwriting prowess which remains as focal to their music as the instrumentation itself. Often Daniel’s lyrics and delivery cry out, and persistently resonate with anyone who’s been dragged through the muck that is having your heart torn out. There’s too much to specifically haul out and quote, so just take the word that he’s damn good at putting pen to paper, and then singing about those words. However, it’s Sarah Spencer shining on “Gold” that forces the jaw to officially drop…Holy shit! What the fucking goddamn fuck on a shit stick is this!? Is your heart in your throat? BECAUSE MY HEART IS IN MY FUCKING THROAT! It’s sitting there like I’ve swallowed a boulder. I can’t breathe, you can’t breathe, we’re just sitting here in wide-eyed silence, unable to even gasp in awe. Why? Because Sarah possesses one of the most arresting voices on this planet. It’s like Chrissie Hynde’s and Stevie Nicks’s vocal chords had a kid that moved to Brisbane. Sarah Spencer is a powerhouse, and “Gold”  stands out as one of the most potent, heart-shredding songs on an album full of them.

I mentioned before that I’m not going to have anywhere to put ‘Illegals in Heaven’. Fuck that, I’ve got just the place. A big, fuck off jewel case. This album is a monument to the best band in Australia – this record proves what Blank Realm have been ploughing away at all this time: their capacity to surprise and enthral with only music. This album has completely matched the stunning nature of ‘Grassed Inn’, a two-for-two deal of dense records packed with emotionally ruining content. After their record last year, the cracks began to show in Blank Realm’s status as a purely cult band. With ‘Illegals in Heaven’, the intention should be to burst through the wall and shake the world to its roots. That’s the only way it should be.

‘Illegals in Heaven’ is available this Friday, September 4th through Bedroom Suck Records. You can pick it up from their Bandcamp here. They’ll be playing the At First Sight Festival in Sydney on November 14, alongside My Disco, Total Giovanni, NO ZU and more. You actually can’t miss this gig – it’s imperative that you are there.

New: The Goon Sax – Sometimes Accidentally

11742874_947032518676703_2395032928037337627_nWow. Yeah, shit, didn’t see that coming. When someone names their band The Goon Sax, there’s a pretty solid expectation that some crass pop-punk will explode out of your speakers and summon your soul to the depths of dyed fringe and choker chain hell. That isn’t a fate I would wish upon my worst enemy.

But this – wow, this is amazing! The Goon Sax are incredible! Fuck the golf clap – a standing ovation is in order, a full-blown bravo for subverting expectations to a 180 degree and proving that being a pretentious wanker has probably cost me the opportunity to check out some fantastic acts.

Instead of pure dread, “Sometimes Accidentally” rustles up disarming plucky guitar pop that puts the Creation Records formula into 80’s Australiana. The Goon Sax somehow turn a song that could so easily be mundane – a mere love song that relies on blushing adoration and a quaint little hook – into a near perfect pop number that demands repetition. It mirrors what makes fellow Chapter label mates The Stevens such a fun, immediate listen.  Trust us, an accidental click on play will result in this song taking over your life.

New: FLOWERTRUCK – Sunshower

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Alright, listen up, you denouncers of pop, David Byrne Jr is here – split into four fragments that grew up in Australia instead of Scotland/Canada. This version (hereafter referred to as DBJ) grew up on The Chills, and formed a band that have swiftly become one of my favourites in Australia. FLOWERTRUCK are two songs deep, have performed a handful of awesome live shows..but fuck, they make you pay attention, kind of like Donald Trump’s Twitter account, but out of wonder, not terror.

For their third single, FLOWERTRUCK maintain their skewed pop that they established on “Candide” and “I Wanna Be With You“. It’s wonky, simple jangle pop made by uni students, but that’s what makes it so spectacular. Maybe it’s bias because I’m a uni student, but man, it feels like the masses could get behind this as well. “Sunshower” blossoms, heating from a hazy blur, sharpening around Charles Rushforth’s giddy yelp, and then smoothening out into an uppercut of a chorus. Fuck, sounds pretty decent. Done yet? Nah mate.

The finale on this was custom made to get people dancing. It’s a bright, shining kick of shredding guitar that draws comparisons to Blank Realm. Just 30 seconds of elated, joyful collisions of great pop music. And this is the third fucking song. Jesus, shit, what’s gonna happen with FLOWERTRUCK release an album?

FLOWERTRUCK are playing part of Volumes Festival in a little bit – August 29th, with Jack Ladder, The Laurels, Canyons and a bunch others.

New: Helta Skelta – 55mm

38 years ago, The Victims released the ‘Television Addict’ 7″. The introduction to that song changed the way that music was perceived by a lot of people, myself included. That’s what’s going down in Helta Skelta right now – not only are both bands from Perth, and HS are obviously taking a lot of influence from the Victims, amongst others, but they’ve both nailed the ability to infect pop music with punk snot.

The most interesting thing with this new Helta Skelta track is how far removed from the original hardcore/thrash stylings abundant in Helta Skelta’s first incredible album (it’s free download here, it’s absolutely essential). Instead of tumultuous brutality over squall, Helta Skelta have moved into something new but just as exciting. A throbbing, distinct bassline, fiery guitars that spit fire parallel to each other and a wistful sneer, Helta Skelta have dropped the most romantic single since ABBA’s “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do”.