Top 5 Records w/ SPOD

There’s a reason why I always attach the prefix “Old Mate” when  talk about old mate SPOD. It’s because, although I’ve never met him, the guy is like Sydney’s father of good music, constantly churning out the hits for us to shake our booty to. He’s diverse, unpredictable and came out with a song called “Deadshits”. There is literally nothing more you can love about the guy.

Now, for all those that are unaware, SPOD recently came out with a bloody brilliant new record called ‘Taste the Sadness’, an adult re-imagining of his classic debut ‘Taste the Radness’. One of the best songs on there, a bonafide tear-jerker, is the first track “Last Dance”, which perfectly personifies its title, in that it is something heartbreaking and melancholy, but at the same time, leaves nothing unchecked. It’s just a really open and honest song, and if you were going to indulge in a last dance, “Last Dance” would be pretty bloody perfect to have a final waltz to.

Because SPOD is a bloody legend, I asked him if he’d want to do his Top 5 Records that he’d have his last dance to, and he replied with a surprisingly deep and   meaningful list, especially for a guy who makes us dance to the tune of “Get your fuck on, get-get  your fuck on”. Cheers SPOD you bloody legend!

Top 5 Records that SPOD would have his Last Dance to

01: Ween – Any album up to and including White Pepper

Ween were basically flawless from 1990 to 2000. 10 years of inspiring perfection that didn’t give a shit about anyone or anything asides from pure songwriting perfection & ultimate bravery. I don’t know if anyone still thinks they’re a novelty band, but if they do, they’re probably a total deadshit who likes the current Foo Fighters. It’s a bit of a kick in the nuts of my own mortality that Ween broke up. If two perfectly mismatched geniuses can’t remain best friends forever, then what chance do the rest of us have?

02: Harry Nilsson – Nilsson Schmilsson

I bought this record as a young man solely because of the cover of an out of focus Harry in a bathrobe. Who was this guy who dares to put such a deadshitty image on his album? Little did I know at that time that it’s one of the greatest albums of all time and Nilsson is a hilarious & touching legend. Nilsson was the original Ween, he loved dancing with the absurd just as much as writing a perfect song and could do both like no one else and planted the seed in the importance of adult pride.

03: Beastie Boys – Pauls Boutique

What a masterpiece. I remember when this came out, I was still totally juiced on Licenced to Ill and the idea of these 3 brats spraying beer on the dicks of the world. Along with the rest of their fans, I wasn’t ready for such a mature step into this world that they and the dust brothers created. This gave birth to a lot of music I loved that came after it, and also a lot of Fat Boy Slim pieces of shit, but man this album was a bolt of lighting, and still sounds fresh as the day it landed. It was such a huge flop when it came out that I got it for $5 on vinyl. Nice. It also put me onto more good albums from its samples than any thing else I’ve come in contact with.

04: Black Moth Super Rainbow – Dandelion Gum

When I stumbled across this album on some blog in around 2008, I had kind of given up finding another band to obsess over, thinking I’d grown out of that part of my life and was destined to float through the rest of my days just recycling past loves till the end of time. Then this came along, a perfect mix of everything I loved up to that point. VHS Video Stores, Hip Hop, Psych Pop, Vocoders & cool songs from a faceless dude. A future primitive dance party for lonely dudes in the summertime.

05: Beck – Mellow Gold

Again, sure he’s got technically better albums in Mutations, Midnight Vultures & Odelay which are all masterpieces, but Mellow Gold, along with Weens Pure Guava, were displays that ideas are the most important things to have as long as you have a 4 track and a room to record them in. This was back before your telephone could record an album, kids. It was a bloody revolution! It sounds so personal and close, like a best friend just gave you a tape they made, which just so happens to sound like the future of Bob Dylan joining the Beastie Boys.

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Album Review: Ernest Ellis-Cold Desire

Ernest Ellis is, like, crazy cool. Like, if you implanted the genes of Beck into a cool dude made up of body parts from Kurt Vile, Real Estate and Woods, you’d have the Frankenstein of Ernest Ellis. He’d be a fucking mess obviously-there’d be way too much hair in the way. The shaggy manes of Beck and Kurt Vile? Dream on, mate, try shoving a hot poker in your eyes, it’d be less blinding.

But our young protagonist sees his way around this (pun intended) by cutting those luscious locks. Now, he can see, and the things he sees make him sad. Instead of being a mopey loser and making Cure/Enrique Iglesias mashups like the rest of us mere mortals, the Sydney-sider has decided to use his scientific given talents. Harnessing the haunting majesty of ‘Sea Change’, Ernest Ellis adds just enough melancholy-pop that seems to be all the rage right now (see: King Krule, Bon Iver) to the mixture, and the end product is something that’ll be fondly remembered as ‘Cold Desire’.

There’s no doubt that ‘Cold Desire’ is a strong record. It pumps with an unusual energy, tapping into the cold winters that Sydney has never really had, the bitterness of a sour relationship, and a vain hopelessness that is completely genuine. There’s a lot of heartbreak on this album, and the way it churns up your stomach into a thousand pieces, like a cement truck of melancholy, is something that voices don’t tend to do all that often anymore.

Seriously though, the strength of the songs that Ernest Ellis have the craftsmanship and care of fucking Gepetto. Except they don’t waver around the bullshit alive-puppet phase, but head straight to real-boy territory right quick. Their full, fleshed-out realised ideas that link together through a daisy chain of being bummed out.

On, ‘Black Wire’, the most deadset gut-wrenching indie rock anthem since  The Jesus & Mary Chain’s ‘Just Like Honey’, you feel as though you’ve just gone and punched Steve Irwin’s corpse and are dealing with the regret all in one four minute rush. The forehead-creasing anguish that roars quietly in ‘Black Wire’ are, at times, too much, and makes for the next perfect break-up song. When Mr. Ellis mourns, “There’s too much love, there’s too much love, Honey in my head” you want to reach into the song, give him a big hug, and scream, “DUDE, ME TOO! I FEEL YOU DAWG!”.

Although it doesn’t quite reach the same emotional connection and heart-breaking heights of ‘Black Wire’, the rest of the album remains to equally caress and create those hurt feelings. ‘Way Down’ and ‘Shine Like Me’ also hold a ghostly indie-rcok poignancy similar to that of Aussie comrades Pony Face or, for a more popular but less accurate example, Augie March. Not to say the other tracks don’t rain on the heart’s parade-all songs on ‘Cold Desire’ don’t just tug on the emotive strings, but aim to actively replace them with industrial steel replicants that are factory guaranteed to withstand the pressure of melting indie ballads.

For all those who thought it began and ended with Kurt Vile, or are disappointed with the new Beck album, this one’s for you. For those that haven’t been able to get over that breakup from seven years ago, this one’s for you. For those that really dig on indie rock that manages to be intriguing and utterly unpretentious, this one’s for you. For the rest, I hear there’s a new Korn album, or something.

To see me frothing over the new Ernest Ellis album in the flesh, head to Red Eye Records this Friday for a free in-store performance around 5.

Album Review: Blitzen Trapper-VII

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The first thing that’s going to hit your mind like a freight train when listening to Blitzen Trapper’s newest album ‘VII’ will be: Fuck, this sounds like Beck. The next thing that’s going to swoop in on your impressionable conscious is going to be: Fuck, I love this. A third and final thing that will crash land into your brain with fiery intent will be: Fuck….I love this…Who do I have to kill to get this. This record is jaw-droppingly good. It’s fun, it’s floaty, but it’s got enough self-awareness and skill to be taken seriously as a record, and not as an offhand circus freak thing. The movie reference I’m going to go with for this article is the original Rocky, and not because there’s the immediate connection of Roman numerals (everything after Rocky III  was a pretentious pile of retarded bullshit, whilst this record makes me dizzy with its quality). No, the original Rocky and the new Blitzen Trapper record are the same because they both contain tremendous amounts of heart, are presented as kind of an underdog but have the obvious charisma of a champion, and there is so much of the everyday American man packed into their features, a bald eagle wearing sunglasses and riding a monster truck wouldn’t even come close as a comparison.

If you’ve ever heard previous stuff from Blitzen Trapper, you’ll know two things. Firstly, these Portland dudes fucking rule harder than King Leonidas. Secondly, you’ll know that the only true fault in their music is that it can bog itself down. There is no trace of that on ‘VII’, but instead a resonating warmth and a smiling atmosphere that permeates from start to finish. Oh, don’t worry, there’s still an abundance of all the stuff that made you fall in love with Blitzen Trapper the first time round…gnarly vocals, twang fa’ dayz, and an avalanche of banjo and harmonica. Oh dear Jesus is there a shit load of banjo and harmonica. BUT FEAR NOT! These aren’t your vest-wearing, English-tea toting pretentious twats (cough, Mumford and Son, cough).

The album is so immensely enjoyable, because although it consistently stays engaging, Blitzen Trapper will often throw out new ways to intrigue the listener. The opener ‘Feel the Chill’ is the opposite of it’s name, alt-country with rattlesnake bite, there’s a less-than-conservative nod to Primal Scream on ‘Shine On’, and ‘Ever Loved Once’ is a song so full of soul it makes a Mississippi congregation choir sound like a retirement home. There’s an old observational critter ‘Thirsty Man’, which throws in some very cool gypsy harpsichord, a wispy crackler in ‘Oregon Geography’, and ‘Drive On Home’ which, and stay with me here, is Lynyrd Skynryd if they knew how to make music. Yes, that’s a big bold claim that should make you wrinkle your nose in total disdain, but ‘Drive On Home’ has enough Southern Soul catchiness to hire a hit man on Kid Rock, because any use he was to humanity has been replaced by this song.

Suffice to say, this album fucking rules. There is such a light-hearted vibe that fills the whole thing like a porn star fills a cup of orange juice (you have a dirty mind), and there’s a comforting confidence that Blitzen Trapper know exactly what they’re doing to ensure you have the greatest listening experience possible. The whole record is an old-timey, black and white picture presented as a shiny, modern convenience, and it works better than anyone could have expected.

‘VII’ comes out October 1st through Shock Records in Australia. You need to buy this album more than you need basic ingredients for sustaining your life.

New Beck-Defriended

Five years on from his awesome album ‘Modern Guilt’, Beck has finally emerged with something other than sheet music. It’s a sparse, electronic track that twists the passage that Beck seemed to be channeling on his last album. In other words, it’s totally Bek David Campbell (duh, his birth name). Maybe his Scientologist buddies convinced to go all E.T, but it is still a rapturous re-entering of one of modern music’s greatest accomplishments.