Album Review: Angie – Free Agent

qudHyOn9JsyGhrFraU_ElV03-kp5m6M7leb-dk4TeZUAngie is one of the most productive legends in Australia – in the past year alone, she has showcased her debut full length film ‘Garish Hearts’, as well as a myriad of music videos, curated an art show for the Underbelly Arts Festival,  and has just unveiled a book publishing company which has already seen the publication of poems from herself and Beef Jerk’s Jack Lee. And with a few months to spare in 2015, Angie has released her new solo album, the follow up to 2013’s ‘Turning’.

‘Free Agent’ was written whilst Angie has been touring the world – from Memphis’ Gonerfest (the Mecca of garage rock), multiple European tours, a residency in Brazil, as well as criss-crossing Australia. That’s a lot of travel, and anyone who’s ever flown on Tiger Air or any international equivalent for longer than a half hour knows that these things can be brutal. There’s a lot of time spent cramped up in those soaring sardine cans, and Angie is obviously someone who doesn’t shy away from productivity, preferring to record her thoughts and processed during these lulling moments rather than let them slip away. As such, ‘Free Agent’ showcases Sydney’s favourite soul at her barest moments, as well as her strongest.

Angie is primarily known for her noise wreaking abilities, whether it be with the plethora of bands she’s headed (Circle Pit, Straight Arrows, Ruined Fortune etc.). Even her debut solo effort ‘Turning’ was a festival of dirgy feedback and songs raised on their haunches. ‘Free Agent’ explores a duality to Angie that’s never quite been revealed before. For example, “Ricky Street” reveals a mournful side, repeatedly asking “Where are you?” between plonking pianos and a rickety guitar whose rusty strings threaten to snap at any second. “Crocodile Tears” shows off her own incredible voice, albeit layered heavily underneath sprawling guitar. Encased here is a heartfelt track with an abandoned narrator, grieving through webs of noise that thicken as the song progresses. It’s the greatest song that Grace Slick never wrote.

That’s not to say that Angie has lost her ability to wreak havoc with songs that sound like they’ve been recorded through a wind tunnel, and have burst out through a PA stack that has been through several 13th Floor Elevators tours. Crackling, prickly and tough, songs like “Down for the Count” and “Paris Face” muscle through with a Royal Trux-esque pervasion of cool, roughhouse riffs plunging next to Angie’s signature puncturing vocal drone. “Out of Age” signifies the most skin-crawling moment of ‘Free Agent’, a crescendoing eruption of sounds and curdling guitar licks, brawling viciously to come out on top, but falling short to Angie’s strident vocals.

There are parts of ‘Free Agent’ that are powerful. There are parts that are desperate. There are parts that are flippant, and parts that are naked. Angie works from all angles, covering a range of styles with a sound that feels purely her own. ‘Free Agent’ remains another of her bombastic works, but it has also freed her from the tag of being just a rocker. Although she’s always experimented, it’s now become less subtle and more accessible, without losing the identity that she’s established over all her years behind art of some form or other. ‘Free Agent’ allows the public to get into the head of one of Australia’s most underrated stars, and what’s inside is a dichotomy of painful self-awareness and raw power.

‘Free Agent’ comes out Friday, September 4th through Rice Is Nice Records. Angie will be launching the record in Sydney on September 4th at Waywards in Newtown, with Skull & Dagger, Sex Tourists and more.

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Video: Angie – Out of Age

All the elements were in play for Angie’s sophomore album to kick tremendous amounts of arse. Considering Angie’s storied past in bands like Circle Pit, Straight Arrows et. al., recorded and produced by Owen Penglis, and with the support of Rice is Nice, this album was always going to be a special one.

“Out of Age” simply reinforces that belief, with a Sonic Youth meets Chrome unpredictability, noise clashing with pop at high velocity. Angie’s vocals bleed through the screeching, schizophrenic guitars, and it’s not a huge leap of the imagination to see this as a belying live performance.

Remember the first time you went to a rock show? Like a real rock show, not a Beatles cover band. Remember how loud it was, how thrilling? How your ears nearly burst at the seams as each note pulverised your very being? That’s what the new Angie is. The lo-fi drone places you front and centre of one of her bludgeoningingly noisy shows which have that capability to bring you back to that snotty, earnest kid who thought seeing Rise Against at the Entertainment Centre was the most punk and vitriolic thing since you shaped your hair into a mohawk in the shower.

 

Catch Angie playing with Ela Stiles at a free show at the MCA this Thursday. I fuckn dare ya.

Encounters by Angie Bermuda

If you’ve involved yourself at all in the wonderful musical world that Australia has to offer, chances are that you’ve happened across Angie. She’s great. A bit of a legend. She’s been in a number of logic-defying bands like Kiosk and Circle Pit, and currently stands tall as a member of Straight Arrows, Southern Comfort, Ruined Fortune, GLOSS and her own solo material under the moniker of Angie. Whenever people infuriatingly say, “Oh, there’s no women in Sydney music”, after shredding them to pieces for their outright fuckwit-edness, it’s too easy to point towards Angie’s direction as a starting point for some of the most interesting music to be emerging in Australia.

Beyond sheer musical talent, Angie has drifted into a myriad of other mediums. She released her debut film, ‘Garish Hearts’ last year, and has directed music videos for the likes of Holy Balm, and her own projects. She’s also an accomplished artist, having her works displayed as part of the ‘Cut.Paste.Repeat’ exhibition happening right now.

But what I’m about to share succeeds all of this. Angie is now a poet. A storyteller, a fabricator of experience through the power of words. That might sound a bit of a flourish, but Angie has made herself a book she can be damn proud of, and that you should bother with.

Angie has always been a fantastic writer – this in particular is essential – but she’s printed and bound a series of her poetry specifically for the you and me to enjoy. And enjoy you will, fucker, because ‘Encounters’ is top notch. Each poem takes up a mere page, so if you find it all too consuming, just do it a page at a time.

But that doesn’t seem like a likely outcome. Her writing style is dark, brooding, comforting and sharp. The sentences are punctual, lower case, subdued and wrap their knuckles against your brain, her thoughts thumbing quietly from page to page. Her desires to fit in, belong and connect are laid bare in an honest, easy-to-understand way, measured and careful, precise but flowing fluently. ‘Encounters’ is about those surreal moments, where nothing fits together but is so too close to give up on. It’s Lynchian, terrified but soft and cradled.

There’s only 100 copies of ‘Encounters’ drifting around, so make sure you get your hands on one before they sell out. If you like to read poetry, ensure that this shoots to the top of your reading list. Grab a copy here, and make sure to like Ruin Press, Angie’s new publishing group. There’s some exciting stuff on the horizon here, including some writings from Jack Lee (Beef Jerk/Jack Lee)

New: GLOSS-Prey (Demo)

One of the first bands to really signify a shift from Sydney’s ‘safe indie rock’ scene, to something much more dangerous and unpredictable, was Sydney’s Circle Pit. Although there was a constantly revolving group of backup musicians, the core duo of Jack Mannix and Angela Garrick always stayed strong and true.

Well, Circle Pit is dead, long live GLOSS! They’ve traded their days of harsh punk music for synths and loops, but lost none of the vicious snarl that made them so instantly attractive. Instead of harking to the sound of The Replacements living out of a sewer, their new image jettisons on the visage of a cracked out Chrome.

Their first track, ‘Prey’ is like the finest of 80’s action heroes, un-smiling and unafraid. It stares into the eyes of the abyss with a smirking gaze that would make the T-2000 shit its pants. ‘Prey’ is a droning, undead construction of noisy, flinch-inducing post-punk, daring anyone to question its razor-sharp authority. It oozes with undulating misery, going full-Dementor within a few bars.

The apocalypse is here people, and it comes in the form of a plague – the plague of GLOSS!

New: Southern Comfort-Suzanne

Another day, another release tied to Angie Bermuda, this time with added Harriet Hudson. The lady from Angie, Straight Arrows, Circle Pit and Ruined Fortune has yet another project she’s attached to called Southern Comfort. And much like the drink, it’s guaranteed to be a hazy and genuinely fucked up time.

The beginning of the track begins like a lost Runaways song that got stranded in the desert for too long, and had to ingest a shitload of peyote. ‘You look so pretty/driving in your car’ just plain catapults itself into semi-stardom as the line you want to sing to your unrequited beloved in a state of drunken bliss.

And as if that weren’t enough, a stringent, slow-burning and cursed solo ends out the track, bleeding insanenly good sounds into the ears of the now-possessed. Good stuff Southern Comfort, most excellent!

Gig Review: Rice Is Nice Does 5 Years

Sunday 27 April @ The Roller Den

Rice Is Nice is, hands down one of the best Australian labels. Ever. Next to R.I.P Society, Chapter Music, Anti-Fade and Bedroom Suck, Rice Is Nice has one of the best label rosters imaginable. They have not released a bad album. Ever. I can’t even go a day without fucking up on something major, let alone five years of goddamn perfection. Do you want proof of how much I love Rice Is Nice? Here you go:

I’m actually holding a water, I just wanted to look like on of the cool kids

So when they announced they were chucking a 5th Birthday Party, my entire being exploded in excitement. Pretty much the whole  roster, with the notable exceptions of The Laurels, Good Heavens and Seekae, were going to all be in one place, playing the songs they made and recorded and released on an amazing label. How could this not be a better night than the climactic point of any teen ‘comedy’ of the 1990’s?

Unfortunately, I missed the first two bands, Polographics and Shatter Brain because I’ve literally been constructed of dickhead material. I missed this:

You can probably tell that kicking myself in the balls for eternity won’t even scrape the pain I feel about missing these bands.

However, the night had to start somewhere, and it began with Angie, which rules because Angie rules, and she rules fucking hard. She’s a shredder of the highest order, commanding her guitar like she’s Clint Eastwood smacking down justice on some hapless punk. She oozes so much cool, it’s like she ingested the beating heart of Kim Gordon. If Coco Chanel bottled her coolness to make a scent, they’d be selling ‘Cooler Than You’ by Angie for a million bucks a spray. How else do you explain ripper tunes like ‘Stars And Dust’ and ‘Parallels’? These strutting, leather-jacket-clad songs are dripping in swaggering, sweaty cool. I was also drenched in sweat by the end of her set, a cast of awe struck upon my face. Needless to say, I fucking love Angie.

Next was Summer Flake, who travelled all the way from Adelaide to ensure that the party was complete with some interstate flavour. Armed with some of Sydney’s finest musos (Matt Banham, Craig Lyons, Sam Wilkinson, Chris Yates) Steph Crase built herself into a confident force of swelling guitars and frankly beautiful music. Her album is a sonic treat, but in live format, she’s unstoppable.

Forever 21 legend and SPOD followed swiftly, ensuring that the ‘party’ portion of the night was well and truly taken care of. A self-decribed ‘…national treasure…’, SPOD makes dance music which you don’t know whether to laugh at or contort your entire existence to. Dressed in a cap and a tucked in grey polo, SPOD prowled around the stage, wetting ears with a variety of songs, including his heavily acclaimed decade-old debut’Taste the Radness’ , (I use this phrase all the time, please don’t sue me SPOD, I love you). Basically, SPOD takes the best parts of Regurgitator and Andrew W.K, and then makes really good music around it. Case in point: opening the set with a song called ‘Deadshits’.  He’s also got a self-deprecating charisma blast that provides more knee-slappers and tummy ticklers than an episode of  How I Met Your Mother. Because setting the bar high in similes is what I do best.

Side-note of regret No. 2: I missed Donny Benet’s set. Sacrilege, I know, the man is a god, and no one makes panty-soaking music quite like he. But I’ve seen him enough times to give a rough estimate of what his show was probably like. His gorgeous, paisley-suit clad figure makes his way on stage, he pumps through synth-wave after synth-wave, and electrocutes the audience with a love making aura not seen or heard since the first time Morgan Freeman narrated something. Instantly, women want him, and men want to be him. ‘Sophisticated Lover’ comes on, and tsunamis of love juice erupt from every crotch in the nearby vicinity. At least, that’s been my experience the last few times I’ve caught him, and I can’t see how he would disappoint this time round. If you have the chance, don’t follow my stead, and go see Donny Benet.

Richard in Your Mind then took the ‘Happy Birthday’ bannered stage to wreak psych-pop havok. They are such a fun band to watch live, simply because their songs are so intrinsically weird, and they pull them off with flair and love. If garden gnomes found a batch of mushrooms growing in the ‘special’ part of the garden,  and happened upon a storage bin of instruments, they would create something like Richard in Your Mind. There’s a shitload of things happening on stage, from Eastern instruments to electronic shenanigans, even a tambourine makes an appearance. The last band to successfully pull of the tambourine was late 90’s era Brian Jonestown Massacre. Overall, Richard in Your Mind got in my mind, twirled and twisted it apart, and then took it o an acid-tinged trip down Happy Street, with occasional stops off at Awesome Street, and Stoked Avenue.

The last act of the night was Straight Arrows, which is around the same level of awesome as getting to have a personal sit down with Han Solo to talk about how badass he is. A few songs in, and the entire set fell into debauchery. Actually, as soon as the first chords of opener ‘Never Enough’ cracked the skulls of the front row, pandemonium reigned supreme. The songs became vehicles for thriving energy, Owen Penglis casting an impossible-to-match enthusiasm and recklessness that made a night on the town with Charlie Sheen look like a Senate meeting. Al Grigg was his partner in crime, screaming and shouting along every lyric and pointing his sparkly red guitar at the crowd and thrusting like he was trying to literally fuck us with his music.

Around the halfway point, things took a turn for the truly memorable. Out came an abundance of party-poppers, streamers and toilet paper, around the ‘It Happens Again’ mark. Soon the stage, band and crowd alike were covered in more coloured paper than a Mardis Gras ejaculation. Owen looked like he  had been draped in the finale of a Sesame Street porno.

Yet Straight Arrows persevered in turning the Roller Den into a broiling mass of throwback 60’s pop funded by a modern partying ethos. The band went so fucking hard on stage, it was like watching a tornado of garage rock brilliance, each track an atomic bomb of awesome. ‘Running Wild’, ‘Something Happens’, and ‘Bad Temper’ were all exceptional standouts, but  in saying that, picking a favourite Straight Arrows track is like trying to pick your favourite Ninja Turtle-they’re all amazing.

After a sweaty rendition of ‘Make Up Your Mind’, the Imperial Hotel will now forever be ingrained in my mind as the time when Straight Arrows completely fucked up my perceptions of what a good performance should entail. But really, every band that night ruled the stage, albeit in their own way. Angie with her confident shredding, Summer Flake with her alluring shoegaze, SPOD with his prowling, addictive personality, and Richard in Your Mind with their psych-pop extravaganza. It was a fantastically diverse lineup, but really that’s just a testament to Rice Is Nice. May Rice Is Nice continue for another 5000 years, and may its firstborn be a healthy child.