Album Review: Beef Jerk – Tragic

a2469418862_10

You know what’s tragic? What’s really, really tragic? No, not that Shannon Noll is being berated for putting on one hell of a show at Origin, whilst his Idol contemporary Guy Sebastian gets to live it up on international television. I mean, c’mon, how the fuck are we supposed to get behind our Eurovision contender if they don’t even have a Southern Cross tattoo? What happened to the underdog mentality Australia? Talk about tall poppy syndrome, cutting down a star in his PRIME!

But that’s not the real tragedy. A blow to all things Australian, but still not a tragedy. No, it’s that Beef Jerk nearly disappeared. Nearly – poof – vanished from the face of the goddamn earth like Harold Holt or a drug dealer with morals. Not that I know the ins and outs of the core creative force of Mikey Branson and Jack Lee. I’m just a guy with a severe love of jangle pop and slamming my pudgy fingers into a keyboard. But from the outside, it looked like Beef Jerk were done for. They hadn’t played a gig for roughly the same amount of time I’d been consumed by crushing loneliness, and their social media lay stagnant. It seemed like a doomed hope to think that these guys would dish out something more than their fantastic “Schooners” 7″.

But call me a Doubting Thomas and shove The Last Chiko Roll up my dumb arse, because Beef Jerk have unleashed their debut album to an unsuspecting world. No digital marketing plan, no advance singles sent out to the hottest blogs in the land – just a good old fashioned surprise release. A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar, Beef Jerk. All the big names are doing it.

This album is everything that I’d forgotten I loved about Beef Jerk. The signature ocker humour that both celebrates and damns that culture it was spawned from. The dark comedy that is more shrouded in evil than the face of Emperor Palpatine. The strings are strummed more furiously than if Stuart Murdoch from Belle & Sebastian decided to go on a speed binge accompanied only by his guitar. It’s bloody long as well – 15 tracks of absolutely fantastic pop songs that should be ushered into some sort of Hall of Fame. It doesn’t matter which one, whether it’s of the Rock And Roll type, or some sort of board in the Petersham Bowling Club, but someone’s gotta show some recognition for this stuff.

The songs of ‘Tragic’ live up to the album’s name with glee. Mikey and Jack shout and seduce with songs about growing up in a hole, warning against molesting children, and the calming nature of kicking the footy when everything else in life has failed you. The lyrics here are the main focal point – how can you not succumb to an opening line like, “Is anyone else bad in the sack?”, or “Hanging with my mates, fishing without bait/Southern Cross on my skin, ‘cos I’m Australian”.

There’s been a heap of bands of late who have built a solid case in the guitar pop war of Melbourne vs. Australia. Sure, they’ve got The Ocean Party and Twerps, but we’ve got Weak Boys and Disgusting People. Look, they’re all indebted to The Clean, but Beef Jerk have added that extra element of fucked-up wackness amongst the usual jostling, sloppy pop that has painted them a little coarser and little more infectious. They force you to pay heed, nod your head, and laugh at all the shit you probably shouldn’t. Not many bands can say that, but not many bands are Beef Jerk.

Debut album, ‘Tragic’ is out now, and they’ll be launching it at the Union Hotel in Newtown on Saturday 6th of June. Free entry, and they’ll be playing with The Vacant Lot, Piss Factory and Skull + Dagger.

Advertisements

Playlist: EXXE Records Inhalation Compilation

I’d say that anyone who’s visited this site before would become quickly overwhelmed with how much of it is dedicated to things of the lo-fi and local variety. I fucking love stuff that’s been spawned nearby, whether it come from a sharehouse in Marrickville or a two-up in Melbourne, or an unliveable shack in Brisbane etc. etc. Pretty much any city in Australia with a low-rent living space.

So, it’s with abundant pleasure that I found out that there was a new record label called EXXE Records that have collected a bunch of my favourite bands into a compilation, with a few exclusives and fan favourites involved. On a compilation of 13 tracks, there are twelve (plus one) songs of amazing and diverse sounds from around the country. Not getting around this cassette is a sin only Joe Hockey is capable of.

Before I get stuck into the bands, here’s a lil’ info on how EXXE came to be. Formed by a couple mates living in a share house in Moncur Street, Marrickville, EXXE’s bands are all linked by time spent there, where a lot of the songs on the comp were apparently bred into existence. Their basic mission statement seems to be to release their mate’s bands, all of whom happen to be really fucking good. Shit, they don’t even make a profit from these things, but rather use any money gained to fund more recordings. Fuckn dedication, amirite?

Onto the bands – the artists listed on here is like The Rich List of Australia’s Most Underrated. Sydney garbage-punks Housewives, Ghastly Spats, Drown Under and Snotty Babies, all of which have made scrabbled and scathing noise their purpose of life. There’s a fucked up snarler from the usually docile Beef Jerk, twisted pop smiles from King Tears Mortuary and The Friendsters, and quaint guitars from Mope City. There’s The Gun Club, via Beasts of Bourbon, sounds of Bad Guys, and dark, throbbing post-punk strangulation from Sacred Product. A new one from Kitchen’s Floor opens with tambourine and a gargantuan burp, before switching into their signature strum ‘n’ pine formula. Julia Why?’s contribution is probably the most professionally-produced effort, with limited hiss allowing for some fantastic Breeders-esque rock and roll. Sleep Debt, who haven’t been heard from in ages, also appear with “Day’s End” an instantly catchy and brusque howler that’s half-Dischord, half-Inner West pop.

Did you read those descriptions? Did you see how fucking good those bands sound? Even if you haven’t heard of a single artist on the ‘Inhalation Compilation’, the luscious descriptions of some ginger on the Internet must make you want to pick up music on a format many don’t even know exist. It’s simple – these are some fucking great, if unpolished, bands who champion the amateur aesthetic. You don’t need Rick Rubin to produce your single, or a mountain of coke to help ‘inspire’ you. All you need is a sharehouse, an instrument, maybe a four track, and a future compilation featuring amazing bands like this.

You can splash out and buy the tape here, at the EXXE Rekkids Bandcamp. Because you don’t need groceries for this month, right?

EXXE Records is gonna have a launch at The Chippendale Hotel in, yep you guessed it, Chippendale. Sleep Debt, Julia Why?, King Tears Mortuary, MOB, The Friendsters, Mope City, Destiny 3000 and Ghastly Spats are all gonna play for the cheap, cheap price of $12. Sick, see ya there.

Premiere!-Osborne Again Music Sampler feat. Ciggie Witch + Haircut + Jordan Thompson + Jack Lee

Look, as much as I love Sydney, with all of its wonderful rock n roll bands and DJ’s that can force me to dance, Melbourne has got the guitar-pop genre under lock and key. If you want a song with lackadaisical guitars that winds your head around your shoulders, you can’t touch the genius’ of the South. Maybe it’s the colder weather, or the cultured atmosphere. Maybe it’s that Melbourne is just a really nice place with way less dickheads than Sydney, and that breeds really nice music. Who knows?

The point is that there’s all these amazing jangle and guitar-pop bands popping up with these killer tunes, and they need labels to collectively distribute and promote them. That’s how the music industry works, apparently. Of course, you’ve got your bigwigs like Chapter Music, but there’s also a fair few young guns with rosters better than the 1975 lineup of AC/DC.

One such label is OsborneAgainMusic. Run by Lachlan, from The Ocean Party and Ciggie Witch fame, the label looks to be doing some absolutely fucking killer things in the future. How do I know? Because I’ve had a sneak peek at a couple of the releases in store over the coming months, and I’ve decided to share them with you. Aren’t I fucking generous?

Without further ado, here they are:

 

Ciggie Witch-Taylors Lakes

I’ve been a pretty big Ciggie Witch fan for a fair while now, with tracks of theirs like ‘Stuck In A Rut’ and the new one ‘Long Weekend’ becoming staples of my tearful icecream binges. There’s something inherently comforting to the soft guitars and lyrics about being 25 and directionless.

‘Taylors Lakes’ is no different, as tight guitars trickle over each other, multiple melodies more or less telling you that everything’s going to be alright, despite the down-n-out lyrics.

 

Haircut-I Been Dreaming

Deadset, this song is the sort of thing you want in a dream sequence. It’s guitars and vocals drift along like you’re floating down a river of pillow stuffings. It’s so incredibly soft, like a velvet cocoon. You’d be hard pressed not to be forced into thinking about the happiest moments of your life during this one.

 

Jordan Thompson-Nobody Will Ever Know 

Jordan Thompson is a member of one of my favorite bands, The Ocean Party. However, his solo track starts out with some Amazonian pipes or something, tropical guitar slowed down to a mumble, and dazzled synths. It’s like taking a stroll in the stars, just chilling in the nethersphere in a state of complete and utter relaxation. And the voice! This guy’s voice is like Paul Kelly if Paul Kelly had the voice of an angel. It’s fucking vocal silk!

 

Jack Lee-Stories to be Kept Under Lock And Key (The Cannanes Cover)

Jack Lee is the singer from Beef Jerk, an awesome band from Sydney (Yeah! Sydney!). On his solo outing, he takes on a cover from one of Sydney’s indie-rock greats The Cannanes. This is the most indie-rock centred track of the bunch, a shambling, furry song that honeys its way into everyone’s hearts. It’s got an ugly beauty to it, and is one of those tracks that’s key to a hangover recovery. When your heart’s in the gutter, and you feel like an absolute piece of shit, this is the song to play.

Album Review: Shrapnel-Tobacco Dreams

artworks-000075433449-t2yp8w-t500x500

 

No, Sidney Nolan didn’t come back from the dead. What you’re seeing right there is the artwork for the debut album from Sam ‘I’m In Every Band’ Wilkinson. Besides ‘kickin’ it’ in local stalwarts like Day Ravies, King Tears Mortuary, and Mope City, amongst a bunch of others, you can pretty much catch Sam and his blonde mop at any decent show worth going to. Oh yeah, and he sometimes helps out with his mates The Ocean Party and Summer Flake as well, in case the resume wasn’t disembowelling enough already.

Shrapnel is his latest baby, slowly but steadily making its own name amongst the keener eared of Aussie legends. After previous singles ‘Print & Sign’ and ‘Tobacco Dreams’, he has unleashed upon the world an album that can only be described as jangle-pop rattling in a tin can. The sound is undoubtedly swathed in the aesthetic of bedroom bands, titillating between drum-machine, synth freak outs and sincere, tunnelling ballads.

It’s the fact that Shrapnel switches so easily between the two that’s really interesting. In one moment, you’re grooving down the highway of good vibes with ‘Direct Debt’, a broken kid’s keyboard accompanying a hurtling guitar, and a pop embrace that shuns boredom at the door. This is a fun-times only party, sorry Boredom, you can’t come in. No, you can’t see Julia, she doesn’t want to see you. You really fucked it up this time Boredom. Anyway, she’s making out with Shrapnel in the corner. She’s moved on, Boredom, you should to. *’Direct Debt’ plays in the background, as Boredom sullenly walks away*

But with the space of a single song, the project has moved onto far more introspective territory. For example, ‘Baby Picks Up’ shows a fair hand at trickling guitar work, which in turn creates a super intimate space for the song to bathe in. The little melodies the song does contain manage to cocoon the shit out of the listener. It’s like a micro version of Black Moth Super Rainbow being projected into our skulls at a much more pleasant-to-swallow rate.

And best yet, when these two worlds collide (Powerman 5000 anyone?) with each other, the energetic pop that seems to ooze way too easily from Shrapnel’s veins, and the sullen, introspection that give the band so much character and depth, the results are infectious beds of music that won’t be heading away for long. ‘Tobacco Dream’, ‘Print & Sign’ and ‘Sinker/Stinker’ are the key tracks from this department, and they could really suit any occasion. 3am train ride home after another night of loneliness? Check. Best mate’s in town, and needs a good song to settle into the couch with? No worries. Ran out of VB’s? Mate, you’re fucked, audio entertainment can’t save you.

In Shrapnel, Sydney now has its own Blank Realm-weird pop music from the otherworldly nether regions known as the Western Suburbs. Tobacco Dreams is eclectic, instantly likeable, and norm-centrically gorgeous. It’s music that works on a personal and social level, that can be enjoyed regardless of atmosphere.