Top 10 Australian Albums of 2014

It’s that time of year, when I sell my soul, and conform to the expectation that all blogs, no matter how small and shitty (of which Soundly Sounds is both) needs to compile an end of year list, summarising all the great things that have been accomplished by the fair artists of the year. Now, if you’ve ever been on this blog, or heard words out of my mouth, it becomes apparent that I have a habit of hyperbole, and describing everything as “my favourite” or “the best thing ever”. Well, now it’s time to pay up, and show what I, King Deadshit, reckon is the best of the best this year.

Albums are probably the most important listicle for me, personally, because they are the full form of creative expression for the artist. A single song, video clip or show can take certain things out of context, bolster aspects for the strongest appeal, and add new factors that increase the credibility. But with the album format, the artist has the range and capability to express themselves to their full extent. Sometimes, that leaves bands boring and stuggling for things to say and at other times there are plenty of gems to be found that represent the artist more fully than the ‘singles’ can convey.

If you haven’t heard any of the following albums, I beg you to go forth and purchase a copy. These artists deserve your attention.

Honourable Mentions: Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders (‘Playmates’), Ciggie Witch (‘Rock And Roll Juice’), Ernest Ellis (‘Cold Desire’), Pronto (‘When You’re Gone’) Andras & Oscar (‘Cafe Romantica’) Jonathan Boulet (‘Gubba’) Bloods (‘Work It Out’), Nun (‘Nun’), SPOD (‘Taste the Sadness’) Donny Benet (‘Weekend At Donny’s’) Collarbones (‘Return’).

10. Lowtide – Lowtide

Both heartbreaking and riveting, Lowtide unveiled a shoegaze masterpiece with their debut record. Flawless reverb was achieved, a statement that is almost never uttered. What’s more, the band interjected excitable gems like “Wedding Ring” and “Held” to prove they could do more than poignant and mouth-watering dream-pop shudders. (Review Here)

9. Straight Arrows – Rising

There’s something rising alright, and its not just the pulse of this record. A 60’s bonanza of loose Nuggets nods with the breakneck pace that we’ve come to adore from Owen Penglis. “Petrified” will never lose its cooler-than-Kim-Deal aura, “Never Enough” will never not be accompanied by headbanging, and “Make Up Your Mind’ will never make you not sweat like a guy who just popped pills in a rave in the Sahara. (Review Here)

8. Yes, I’m Leaving – Slow Release

Four albums in, and YIL have fully embraced their aggressive and blisteringly amazing potential. The way that three dudes from Sydney managed to make music that completely replicated THAT scene from Total Recall is mindblowing (pun intended, motherfucker). Strangling brutality ensues at an unbelievable rate, and the result is must-hear. Yes, I’m Leaving have made punk exciting again. (Review Here)

7. Scotdrakula – Scotdrakula

Melbourne’s Scotdrakula released an album so heart-stoppingly fun and eccentric, you would swear you’re at a theme park run by Tim & Eric. The record was a singles-fest, from the h8r-proof “O’Clock”, to “Shazon” impractically kicking more ass than a buddy cop film from the 1970’s. The yelps, riffs and good times of this album are as addicting as crack, and 10x more fun. (Review Here)

6. Bearhug – So Gone

Bearhug impressed beyond belief with their sophomore effort, lush pools of guitar gliding gently but effectively. For the duration of their second record, Bearhug never failed to impress, creating deep wells of greatness. What’s more, the songs were so packed that every listen brought on a new subtle technique or riff to bubble with joy over. (Review Here)

5. Ausmuteants – Order of Operation

Hilarious, snarky and brutally underrated, Ausmuteants released their third, and best record, this year. Attacking a variety of subjects, from porn, to unoriginality, to just being angry at fucking everything, like if Devo made ‘Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out The Trash’. Beautifully loud obnoxious, like a Geelong-ised Cartman that loves The Monks, Ausmuteants are the punk band that Australia doesn’t need, but the one it deserves. (Review Here)

4. Step-Panther – Strange, But Nice

Going from a band of shredders that liked to make songs about fat kids getting abducted and teenage romance to something that people wanted to take seriously was always going to be hard, but Step-Panther achieved that with their stupefyingly good second record. As naked as open-heart surgery, Step-Panther laid things bare for a mind-numbingly good album, in the truest sense of the word. There’s a journey here, a quest guided by back-breaking guitar solos, bloody doom riffs and stories as wholesome as The Goonies. (Review Here)

3. The Ocean Party – Soft Focus

The Ocean Party have always been consistent, but on their fourth album, they’ve wrought an album of genius. ‘Soft Focus’ is packed with songs that tug on the ol’ heart, yearning lyrics pushing through walls of sound that recall The Triffids at their best. If you’ve ever wanted to immerse yourself in a record, “Soft Focus” is the easiest, and most likeable, of your options, a straight-up pop album masked in woefully gorgeous jangle. (Review Here)

2. Weak Boys – Weekdays/Weekends

Weak Boys, a Sydney supergroup made of Internet Sensations™, Dollar Bar contributors and Craig Lyons, quietly released an Australian classic this year on par with The Castle and Tony Abbott’s budgie smugglers. A diverse smorgasbord of guitar-pop and mope-rock, “Weekdays/Weekends” is fuelled by self-deprecation, glistening humour and a catchiness that rivals Taylor Swift. It is fantastic in so many indescribable ways, an encapsulation of the Australian, or at least Sydney, lifestyle in much the same way The Go-Betweens probably did back before Y2K. From the ode to Rice Is Nice’s Julia Wilson, to the plight of the hungover, Diane Keaton-pining miser (read: everyone), “Weekdays/Weekends” was both the most underrated release of 2014, and one of the best. (Review Here)

1. Blank Realm – Grassed Inn

‘Grassed Inn’ was released in January of 2014, a time when most records are easily forgotten about by the time Year-End Lists roll around. At here we are, December, and Blank Realm still reign supreme. Topping a list on some shitty blog is nowhere near the recognition this album deserves – it is a masterpiece. Off-kilter pop that hurts and burns, burrowing into the emotional conscious with such an ease, you’d think it was a Nicholas Sparks novel. From the droning weirdness of a Spiritualized/New Order hybrid to the embracement of hurt that a Johhny Cash/Robert Smith duet would reveal, a pool of influences are on display, embraced to create something magnificently unique. Wrapped in the keytar-adoring hands of Blank Realm, music is a malleable, smudged and sincerely uplifting creature that restores faith. Superb in every word, ‘Grassed Inn’ is essential for everyone. (Review Here)

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Gig Review: Step-Panther & Bearhug

Friday, 21st November @ Goodgod Small Club

For two of my favourite local bands, 2014 has been a career-affirming year. Both Step-Panther and Bearhug have released the best material of their lives, solid,  cohesive sophomore records that accentuate their past tendencies, and showcase their abilities to write fucking great songs. Step-Panther’s ‘Strange But Nice’ has to be one of the albums of the year, with it’s raw, slicing honesty, and Bearhug are most definitely in the Top Tier, with a record that never puts a foot wrong, only engaging in the best walls of guitar haze. Tonight, the two bands shared a stage, and threw down the gauntlet to show that their more than just a bunch of pretty faces.

Point Being, a band with about five gigs under their belt, opened with a set of crushing rock. What’s cooler than being cool? Not ice-cold, but rather this fucking band. Their set was a looming cache of forthright guitars set to their most primitive. On record, Point Being can come across as almost friendly, despite their dry delivery. On stage, even after their frontman had only landed down after running the fucking New York Marathon a mere few hours before, the engaged with the sort of white-knuckle, bared teeth rabid look you’d get from one of the re-born creatures of Pet Semetary. They’re a weird breed of a band that everyone knows but can’t remember, an amalgamation of all the best punk acts of the 1980’s – Mission of Burma injected with a bit more underdog aroma, the kind that’s bred out of the suburbs of Sydney.

Bearhug had their original lineup on stage, and there was a certain extra to the way they played on the night. Their music just seemed to thrive that much harder, and although it took a few songs for their warm fuzz to waft around the room, by the time “Habit Wave” crash landed, the room was effectively enraptured. There was a new energy in the way Bearhug play, whether it be the blur their hands make when thrashing over “Animal”, or the loping romantic elope of “Over the Hill”. Or maybe it was just the fact one of their guitarists, Jesse Bayley’s imitation of Joey Belladona of Anthrax-impression, heaving black hair whipping across the stage like Willow Smith was in the building. Whatever it was, their music, mostly compromised from the gorgeous ‘So Gone’ made for a sincerely gripping show, thrilling even. The guitar blanket that descended made for a calming, zen-like state, like the Dalai Llama formed a band with J Mascis. Some might be cynical as to whether Bearhug would be able to pull off their cocooning sound in a live format, but trapped in the small room of Goodgod with the five gents made for a rewarding show.

Finally, Step-Panther blasted their way onstage with “User Friendly”, “It Came From the Heart” and “Nowhere”. The trio of Zach, Steve and Dan made for one of the loudest sets seen in Goodgod since METZ. They were a flurry of lambasting guitars, shooting chords and cymbal crashes into your ears with the velocity of the Millennium Falcon at light speed. Steve’s guitar is blaring at 11, but the resulting wash of sound is less Spinal Tap and more medieval wasteland out of Evil Dead 3 – cartoonish, bloody and fucking good. One only has to headbang along to “Nowhere”s two solos to see that the band have made a rock equivalent to Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s “Get Up Morning”.

Step-Panther’s set borders on epic, but is injected with too much normal personality to be some bullshit swords ‘n’ sandals saga that Dragonforce might pull together. Almost entirely built upon their fantastic new album, besides a brief, pummelling edition of “Fight Like a Knight”, the band proves that not only have they matured in their song-writing and musical ability, but they’ve also increased their performance. Their drummer, Daniel Radburn, is particularly impressive, showcasing what has to be one of the most batshit crazy drumming skillz seen since Pantera – the man’s arms are like Doctor Octopus’ appendages, a destructive force in eight different directions.

It’s a night to fucking remember. All three bands are excellent, but what’s more, they’re even better live. In considering that these are two of the best local releases of the year, saying that going to see any of these bands is essential to your life is a bit of understatement.

Gig Review: The Blurst of Times Festival

Saturday 25th October @ The Factory Theatre

Simpsons quote. Straight from the go, you’re off to a good start mates. Add to that fact that almost every great guitar act in our country is on a Blurst of Time bill, and you’ve got every cat and their air guitar whizzing to buy a fucking ticket. I mean, people of ‘Straya, what more do you want? The government’s fucked (with the grand exception of Bill ‘Shortball’ Shorten), we’re paying through the nose for uni, and to top it all off, I’ve had a bad sinus infection all week. Really shitty stuff. So a day of DZ Deathrays and beer in Marrickville was basically the only cure, short of going on a bender with Bill Murray (a boy can dream).

Hockey Dad began the day with a short ‘n’ sweet set of feel good surf rock tunes. If you haven’t heard of these blokes, get around them, because they’ve got #nextbigthing written all over their peachy mugs. Zach’s got a voice like an angel, and Billy smashes his drums like he’s on a blitzkrieg, Lleyton Hewitt headband dripping with sweat by the end. A few muck-ups, but the smiles and lack of pretention from these blokes meant that their set was a loud, and thoroughly enjoyable, as good as watching Happy Gilmore the first time round.

Black Zeros followed, but unfortunately, sound issues fumbled their performance. The songs are tight, but performance was unsure, as lead woman Joe Jackson had trouble hearing herself. I mean, “Ride” and “That Boy” are fucking sick, but the dwindling between songs so early in the day made it hard for punters to stick around, and enjoy the usual Black Zeros carnival. Outside, Babaganouj were killing it, an amalgamation of Brissy indie-pop mixed with damn solid 90’s nerd-rock. Think of the dorky pop of Weezer, Superchunk and Kim Deal, thrown together with amazing songs like “Bluff” and “Love Loath Love You”. They had heads nodding along like the crowd were a bunch of bobble-heads. It was down-to-earth euphoric rock, something I’m not sure even existed until this point.

Sticking around on the outside stage, where a bunch of menacing clouds grumbled with menace, High-tails came and conquered with a slew of tight indie rock. High-tails seemed in more of a rock mood, as their songs boomed with a bit more bravado and oomph than usual. “Bending Over Backwards” and a cover of Cake’s “Never There” highlighted a band that knew how to marry pop sensibilities and rock with success. A divorce doesn’t seem likely in the near future, and there’s a strong hint at an LP coming out next year.

Step-Panther, (another band, another hyphen) hobbled unassumingly onto the stage. Just three blokes – a guitar, bass and a drumkit. And yet, these three guys turned an ordinary set up into one of the most impressive displays of musicianship to have been blazed into my skull in recent memory. Starting with debut LP cut “Never Again”, frontman Stephen Bourke was immediately sprawled on the floor, abusing his guitar like it was an Ike and Tina Turner situation all over again. Whiplash guitar ricocheted throughout the small domain of The Factory Theatre, and anyone within earshot perked up like a Chihuahua being mass-fed caffeine. Daniel Radburn is beating the shit out of the drum kit like he’s a 12 year old with the house to himself and a bright and sparkly National Geographic laying bare like the temptresses they are. And Zach, of Hockey Dad @fame, well, he was just looking good. Their set was a fiery ball-tearer, with a couple props to old schoolers like “Fight Like A Knight”, but mainly focusing on their new, gobsmackingly good record, ‘Strange But Nice’ (review here).

It was a party set through and through, a contorted mixture of thrash punk and pop knowledge, covered in gnatty noise and a genuine love, and ability, to rock the fuck out. For every awkward inner-teen out there, Step-Panther is the band you want to familiarise yourself with. They’re almost like a modern and local version of Bleach-era Nirvana, ruthless and primal, and Stephen Bourke makes for a picturesque Kurt Cobain, with his shoulder-connected-to-neck  solos being a sight worthy of the Bucket List. New singles “Nowhere”, “It Came From the Heart” and “User Friendly” were a shredder’s haven, and a reminder that Step-Panther are some of the last heartfelt headbangers in Sydney, possibly even Aus. Make sure you get down to their album launch (with Bearhug and Point Being!) at Goodgod on November 21st.

After exhilaration-incarnate, it felt like nothing could possibly match a Step-Panther show. Obviously, it’s been a while since I went to a SPOD show, and I’ve forgotten how one-of-a-kind this man, nay, GOD, is. Where Step-Panther are one of the ultimate rock bands, SPOD is the ultimate party band. I feel like that needs to be repeated -SPOD IS THE ULTIMATE PARTY BAND! NEVER MISS A SHOW FROM THIS GUY! EVER! EVER! EVER!

Armed with a battalion of all-black, sunnies-inside security guards (Steve’s #1 & #2, and old mate Nathan Wood) who never dropped their demeanour of seriousness and professionalism (sic), SPOD tore The Factory Theatre a new arsehole. Beginning with the song of our generation, “Deadshits”, SPOD’s set soon become something that people will talk about centuries from now, in hushed whispers, in case the legend himself blazes down from the heavens to destroy all human life with his hard-partying ways. To put it bluntly, the set was compromised entirely of legends. From young pup/legend Dom O’Connor being literally picked up and thrown around SPOD like a stripper on a pole during “Letz Dance”, to Dion Ford (Australia’s greatest guitarist/legend) coming onstage to crank out Oz’s favourite pub rock tune “Couple Of Drinks”, to old mate/legend Jules (of Rice is Nice one of the greatest labels to adorn our fair country) getting her waltz on to the finale and every pervert’s funky favourite “Electric Hips”. And I’d be lying to you if I said that getting on stage with pretty much every living legend the Australian music industry has seen for a singalong of “Boys Night” wasn’t one of the Top 5 Moments of my life. I entered the Factory a boy, and left a man, thanks to SPOD. The man is a saint.

After a sweat, party-filled few hours, it was time for Blank Realm, one of the main acts on the bill. After the release of their flawless pop record “Grassed Inn” earlier this year (review here), Blank Realm was a band that I physically could not withhold myself from seeing. Whilst the beginning of the set was marred by sound issues, primarily the bass thudding over the top of other instruments, things were abruptly fixed so that it was all Blank Realm awesomeness, all the time. Their set seemed to compromise of only a few songs, mostly of their latest album, but that’s hardly a complaint. My body was instantly entranced into twisting into an amalgamation of shapes I had no clue I was capable of. Maybe I was just trying to mimic the movements of the band themselves, in which they moved with poetic energy, jumping and grooving with artistic beauty. It was strange, and timelessly wonderful. Getting to see stuff like “Reach You On the Phone”, “Go Easy” and a sped-up “Falling Down the Stairs” (#songoftheyear) is something no ones forgetting any time soon. Summarisation: 2014 – year of the keytar. Never change, Blank Realm, never change.

Outside, a new and unruly beast was unfolding in the form of Velociraptor, fleshed out with a rare appearance from original members Shane and Simon of DZ Deathrays. Banshee cries were the first thing I really noticed from the set, followed by a ruckus on par with a football riot. Bodies flew everywhere, and it honestly felt like a tsunami of rock music had arrived. Whereas Velociraptor are garage-pop on record, the raw energy of earlier recordings was in sure-fire play during the set. As guitars reigned supreme, and the multi-limbed juggernaut of rock ‘n’ roll heaved on headbangers like “Cynthia”, “The Walk On By”,”Cool, Baby, Cool” and the anthemic “Ramona”, it was like an alternate ending from Jurassic Park, where the T-Rex doesn’t show up, and the kids aren’t so lucky. As the final chords rang out, and Jeremy Neale stood poised, with fist raised triumphantly above his lolling head, grin planted firmly on his mug, it was ultimately obvious that Velociraptor had fucking won.

After a truly sweeping performance, TV Colours graced the stage for a very different, but similarly affecting, display of amazing. TV Colours released the best album of last year, and they wilfully proved it. They had walls of sound at their disposal, tearing through songs like “The Neighbourhood” and “Lost Highway” with a virtuosity and newfound, dare I say it, professionalism. Their fury was there, but it was more controlled, funnelled into the seething audience of bobbing heads. It doesn’t seem far-fetched to believe that “Purple Skies, Toxic River” will be mentioned in the same breath as “Primary Colours”, or “Havilah” in the future. It’s a modern masterpiece, and seeing a band as talented and great as that dominate a stage is a pleasure as always. If you haven’t seen TV Colours rip through “Bad Dreams” or “Beverly” and let your jaw drop to the floor in utter amazement, you haven’t lived.

Die! Die! Die! seemed like a bit of a left-field choice for the day, the only Kiwi band on the bill. But they had a new orgasmic album to show off, and you’d have to be a total dillweed to miss out on these guys bombastically destroying expectations. Die! Die! Die! are one of the few punk bands left that can completely blow you away every single time you see them, pounding expectations to the ground as dangerously as frontman Andrew Wilson behaves on stage. Perched precariously on a stack of amps, Wilson cradles the microphone and bellows “A.T.T.I.T.U.D” with a conviction that belies belief. A song over seven years old, Wilson only needed to jump into the crowd and be assaulted by eager punters willing to scream the celebrated chorus, for the epiphany to click that Die! Die! Die! will never die. They’ll forever live on in a myth of wholesome awesome, a preservation of smart punk rock that shames anything that tries to come near it. The members are performers and musicians that have no contemporaries, lambasting temples of a bygone era.

 

To watch Die! Die! Die! in action is a sincere honour, a pinnacle of what humans can do when they really, really, really wanna tear the world a new arsehole. Although new tracks “Get Hit” and “She’s  Clear” shook The Factory to its hinges, it was old timers like “Wasted Lands” and “Ashtray! Ashtray!” that forced the crowd into a hurricane frenzy, centred on the eye-of-the-storm, Andrew Wilson. It can not be overstated how pivotal to your existence it is that you, dear reader, go and see Die! Die! Die! in action.

Cruising to a nice little backstage loft, watching DZ Deathrays side of stage was a set that will be ingrained into my memory for a fair while (Blurst of Times seems to be full of those, hey). After a lengthy UK tour, the duo added an extra guitar and a moustache to Simon’s head for their extraordinary set of euphoric rock. However, there was something a else about the performance. No, DZ were fairly perfect, they didn’t fuck up, and were rockstars to an inch. But that was the issue – these guys should be headlining stadiums, blowing out eardrums worldwide. The fact that they came back to Australia to dwindle with the mere mortals…I mean, how are you meant to react to something like that?

Watching with swollen eyes, every onlooker became enraptured with DZ’s sweaty thrusts of pummelling songs, mainly drawn from the pool of talent that is their sophomore “Black Rat”. Every song was a debilitating lesson in how to be a motherfucking rockstar, from classics like “The Mess Up”, to the slow-burning epic “Northern Lights” and a finale of epic proportions in “Gina Works At Hearts”. Watching DZ is a heart-in-mouth experience, where you want to vomit, cry and mosh all at the same time, where fist-pumping and deranged shouting is par for the course.

After a sincerely great fucking day, Hard-Ons finish the night with a heated dosage of their signature metal/punk/thrash expertise. For those who are unfamiliar, The Hard-Ons are a classic band of Australian lore, as integral to our musical landscape as Radio Birdman, The Saints and The Scientists. Getting to lose my Hard-Ons virginity was something I can only ever be thankful for. They swung through songs with riffs sent straight from another dimension, reaching into the bowels of my brain and throttling the joy factor. There weren’t as many punters there as the Hard-Ons probably required, but really that just gave the more dedicated few room to move and stand in awe of the wicked trio, and insane musicianship of Australia’s coolest band.Ray Ahn proved to those there that all you need to be in one of Australia’s most loved bands is a working pair of footy shorts, a flowing man of hair, and a certificate from Shredding School.

Fuck, so I gotta summarise this experience, right? Paragraph after paragraph of praising the shit out of all the bands I managed to cram into a day, and I gotta come up with something witty AND all-encompassing? I think I’ll stick with the words of everyone’s hero Dom O’Connor, who described Blurst as “… a house party”. And indeed it was – you had mates crammed next to each other, love pouring from every socket, and some of the best bands this country has ever seen playing enormously tight and friendly sets. Although clashes prevented sets from Bloods, Bearhug, Donny Benet and a few others from leaking into my pupils, and Low Life cancelled last minute, and a few sound issues tore away from otherwise perfect shows, The Blurst of Times made an excellent debut in Sydney. From booking the best and loudest, to having minimal deadshit attendance, and relatively cheap drinks and food, Blurst of Times has gone down as one hell of a festival.

Album Review: Bearhug – So Gone

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Bearhug have long been one of my go-to bands when I, y’know, wanna go all GTA on society. When I’m about to #angstyteen some motherfuckers, and going all trenchcoat Mafia seems like the preferable option over the silent treatment and a quiet bitch, then I know it’s time to chuck on some Bearhug. They’re a band caught somewhere between Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile and The Drones’ more poignant moments. They’re calm, collected and know how to drain every last delicious drop of juice from a guitar.

It’s been a bit over/under a year since we heard from Bearhug, when they quietly released their ‘Over Easy’ EP, to not a whole lot of fanfare. It’s unfortunate that Bearhug didn’t get at least a bit of props, because it’s a great little cocktease of a record. However, the days of Bearhug being underrated are long gone. If people can’t go nuts over ‘So Gone’, then we may as well just start the whole invasion process, and let the apes take over, because  I’d much rather let an ape that has a good taste in music rule over me than a confused Gary Oldman that doesn’t even know who TV Colours are.

‘So Gone’ is packed as an album, but Bearhug have done a great job of masking that by making each song stand out as much as they can, entrapping you into taking each song one at a time. They drag you into each song like that lady from M. Night Shyamalan’s much-maligned movie “Lady in the Water”. Each track pulls you under into a state of total content, and it’s pretty freaking easy to get caught up in the hushing, calming throng of it all.

There’s plenty to love about this album, from each song moving strongly into the next one, glubbily sticking to your mind like a Pavement-loving mollusc. Sometimes, the music on the record moves a little into background music territory, but there’s always an amazing riff and delicate washes of sound to bring things back into perspective. For example, the instrumental opener of “Borderlines”, which although nice, doesn’t have much of a grab, swiftly moves into the completely gorgeous and warm double whammy of “Aimee” and “Animal”.

 

The standouts on this album seem to come in two’s. There’s the aforementioned, then there’s “Acid Town” and “Catacombs”, which are the audio equivalent of holding your breath in an ocean, and having the waves silently thunder above your head, in the most serene way possible. And there’s “Chlorine”, which is a dusty Sonic Youth B-Side from “Rather Ripped” if ever there were one.

Sure, there’s an element of sameness to the record. But that cohesiveness in the record makes Bearhug’s sounds and ideas stick together, and format themselves into something easily digestable. As ‘So Gone’ meanders on, you can easily slot yourself into the record, and enjoy it. There are valuable moments aplenty where your interest will be pricked exponentially, and you’ll want to bury yourself in a mountain of reverb that Bearhug can build so easily around themselves. And then there are moments, when the melody is too much, and and you are sucked into that vortex of guitar with no obvious way to get out.

Sure, Bearhug might wear their influences on their sleeve, but less so than their previous efforts, and they make it up all the more by putting together one hell of an enjoyable listen. They know how to create a pictaresque riff, they know how to take a song to it’s most emotional and tangible height, and they know how to paint pictures that people aren’t painting well anymore. Whatever happens, if you’re listening to ‘So Gone’, there is going to be a point in which you find yourself with eyes closed and a shit eating grin planted on your ugly head.

New: Us – Fallout

Hold onto your buttholes, because what I’m about to tell you will blow off your goddamn face. This amazing fucking garage-punk force is made up from members of…wait for it…bearhug! What!? One of the most calming, tranquil and reverb soaked guitar lagoon bands in the world has a seething, broiling pit of anger in the stomachs of two members. They’ve gone on to create this hurtling piece of shreddery that’s like Bass Drum of Death being slammed into a brick wall by the Hulk.

This is slam-dancing music for sure, fucking fun and loud, forcing you to run around with your hands in the air like you’ve just been handed a bomb with 5 seconds left on the timer. That kind of Ramones-like frantic activity is rad, and this band needs to get their EP out pronto.

New: Bearhug-Borderlines

On their debut album, Bearhug channelled the shit out of Dinosuar Jr., coming up with broad, churning strokes of the feedback paintbrush. The product was a fine, if a little underwhelmed album with a few fantastic songs (‘Over the Hill’, ‘Angeline’, ‘Cinema West’, I’m looking at you)

They’ve just released the first single from their upcoming sophomore, and the Dinosaur Jr. influence has flipped to ‘You’re Living All Over Me’ era Mascis and co. There’s an element of hammering sadness as guitars clash with more guitars, creating something that would have Jim O’Rourke in tears. ‘Borderlines’ manages to be understated, and yet incredibly moving, and the fact that it’s purely instrumental only adds to the glamour of Bearhug’s capabilities as musicians.

New: Jesse Davidson-Big Bois Gotta Eat

Although you might be expecting something along the lines of ‘Fuck OutKast!’ or ‘Big Boi’s Fat hardy har har!’ (personally, I don’t understand why you would make that judgement, as OutKast are awesome) instead you’ll get some truly tranquil sounds from Jesse Davidson.

The kid was a finalist in last year’s Triple J Unearthed High, and then basically disappeared. But instead of chucking a Matt Corby a shelling out derivative indie tunes for the twelvie masses, Jesse Davidson has gone for the way better shoegaze-y, post-college rock route. Similar to Bearhug, the waves of noodling guitar and mysterious sounds on this track build behind this guy’s voice for an ultra-positive effect.

Video(s): Superchunk + Blank Realm + Bearhug + Naked Maja + Bo Ningen

Another day, another obese unloading of music videos. This time round, the focus is on stuff that’ll get you fucking fired up. None of that dance muzik stuff that all your cool hipster friends always seem to be talking about. This is just some straight up rock n roll, albeit its going to get a little darker towards the end. Enjoy, or die a lonely death.

Superchunk-Void

Oh look at that, a guitar band featuring on my website. Oh, and it happens to be Superchunk, that band that basically brought back irreverent riffs in the 90’s. This one’s called ‘Void’ off their 2013 record ‘I Hate Music’, and its the usual dosage of headbanging goodness. But the video, now the video is something that you need to see. First thing to strike me was the inclusion of Jon Benjamin and Jon Glaser, two of the most underrated comedians since ever. The scene opens in a decrepit ‘shithole’ which reminds me of an Americanised Red Rattler, and Jon Benjamin saying, ‘support bands suck’. From there it’s a broken-hearted tale of unfulfilled mosh dreams, and dick headed security guards. Fucking excellent!

Blank Realm-Falling Down the Stairs

I’ve always been a mild fan of Brisbane weird-pop band Blank Realm, with their tracks ‘Cleaning Up My Mess’ and ‘Go Easy’ always striking a particular chord. However, this new track and its accompanying video, seems to combine Tom Petty with a twee Bruce Springsteen under a cloud of Echo & the Bunnymen. Lets just say its damn catchy, and that I’m completely underselling this track. Your head will definitely bop back and forth to that cute synth line and the best rhetorical question chorus since ‘Who Let the Dogs Out?’. Set to the band just doing their thing in a live setting, (I can tell you from firsthand experience that they are definitely worth seeing live), the adorable and awesome nature of Blank Realm really shines here.

Bearhug-Debris

Maybe its because they share such an affinity with Pavement/Dinosaur Jr., but I’ve always been a little too obsessed with Sydney’s Bearhug. On their new single ‘Debris’, shit gets a little more dreamy than usual, and it sounds amazing. They’ve also attached a video clip to this stunning track, however the clip is more of a baiting game of how long it will take before Youtube take it down. By that, I mean there’s a lot of nudity, lotsa boobies. I guess that’s what you get when you pastiche a bunch of 60’s porn with what appears to be some sort of fantastical plot narrative.

Naked Maja-#59

A couple of days ago, I did a review for Naked Maja’s brand new EP ‘Disillusion’. ‘#59’ is the first track off of it, and it has a video clip so good that it just needed to be shared again. Doomy, post-punk laden vocals and increasingly horrifying instrumentation are set to a backdrop what appears to Lewis Carroll’s acid nightmares. There is so much colour and vibrancy involved, but its so off putting and makes you incredibly queasy inside, like you’re watching an electric chair execution take place in front of you. In front of the squealing guitars, it doesn’t make sense for there to be that abundance of colour, and its this kind of juxtaposition in the clip for ‘#59’ that makes it so hard for you to peel your eyes away.

Bo Ningen-Nichijyou feat. Jehnny Beth (Savages)

Before Bo Ningen came along, I more or less knew of three Japanese bands that ruled the shit out of the genres they lorded over. Boris for metal, The 5678’s for guitar/girl-pop and Guitar Wolf for good old fashioned rock n roll. Well, now a fourth has joined their spiritual ranks, as Bo Ningen viciously prove how they are a band to be reckoned with on the post-punk scene. The video shows furtive, uneasy black and whites of the band and contributor Jehnny Beth from the fucking amazing Savages. The video is crisp and adds that little extra element of starkness that pushes ‘Nichijyou’ into climax-of-the-Shining-level attention grabbing.

Bo Ningen are playing at the Big Day Out next year, so if you’re looking for a band that will probably put on a hell of a show, you should check ’em out.