Album Review: Liam Kenny – A Kenny For Your Thoughts

Liam Kenny, of the stellar bands Bitch Prefect, Peak Twins, Silly Joel & the Candymen and The Friendsters, has released his first solo record. In the great tradition of Saturday night karaoke/OD’ing on saki wine, he has re-iterpretated underrated classics from the likes of Leonard Cohen, Billy Idol, and Bob Dylan, amongst others. And when I write re-interpret, I mean soulfully collapse and rebuild, and when I write underrated classics, I mean songs I wish someone had introduced me to a hell of while earlier.

Cover bands are a strange anomaly, in that they can either be a cheap way of watching someone else do a better job than the real thing could do themselves (hats off to SPOD’s Bon Voyage).  Or it can be a depressing reminder that your local pub is stocked with the desperate lameshits trying to reclaim their youth by repeatedly yelling “Born to Be Wild” into a microphone like a wildebeest has clamped its jaw around their genitals. And then, there’s that weird grey area where someone re-interprets a classic for the better, something that bands have managed to do really well sometimes (like here and here) or fuck up completely other times.

But here, Liam Kenny does a fine job of taking songs and reworking them into completely soul-shattering ballads. He’s always had a very diverse body of work, whether slyly thumping drums with sunnies adorned to slimy punk, or cranking rickety guitars to gutter-observations of Australian lifestyle, and spitting rhymes about how all music sucks. But on ‘A Kenny For Your Thoughts’, he flits between styles as organically as our government can embarrass our nation. The fact that he’s picked less obvious artists, instead of gravitating to the usual “Hallelujah” and “My Sharona”, makes it all the more worthwhile.

The thing that seemed to get a lot of people (including my stumpy, ginger self) excited was Kenny’s take on “Avalanche” by Leonard Cohen. Featuring saxophone by Al Montfort (Total Control, The UV Race, all the bands ever), the track is six-minutes of industrial, back-breaking terror, scorned guitars gnashing the flesh from your ears. It’s hollow and terrifying, staring into the eye of the beast whilst he devours your soul. It’s a mesh of colour and flavour, grinded to an almost incomprehensible carnivorous version from the original.

However, “Avalanche” and its tumultuous face-chewing is the outlier of the record. The rest of the record is devoted to mostly calmer, regarded interpretations. There’s the dainty sci-fi of “Eyes Without A Face”, a plodding unsure cover of Billy Idol, and an off-kilter “It’s All Over Now (Baby Blue)” which will make you soul crack faster than Kenny’s voice does. That finale makes you want to crawl into a fetal position and just listen to this trickling synth-laced track until you turn into the ghoul from Tales From the Crypt.

In saying all this, the themes of each song remain intact in the hands of Liam Kenny. The opener of Neil Young’s “I’m the Ocean” still retains all the hurt and power as Young had in his crackling 1995 original. The slow-build into schizophrenic noise territory just accentuates the ideas of being misplaced, and Kenny’s ability to thrust into each lyric makes them stand out just as much as when Neil Young was doing them in the first place. Whilst Kenny has taken creative liberties, he never removes the original ida from any song.

This Friday night, when you’re counting down the days until NRL season starts again, and you’re pounding a Reschs, look at the local Fleetwood Mac cover band. Then think back to what Liam Kenny has done on this LP. In his own unassuming way, he has delivered one hell of a varied, and worthy debut from such an accomplished musician.

 

‘A Kenny For Your Thoughts’ available through it Records now.

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Album Review: Old Mate – It Is What It Is

Last night, I copped a lift, one of life’s simple pleasures. There isn’t anything better than thinking you’re going to have to trek it, and then someone lets you hop in the car and turn an hour trip of nail-biting depression into 15 minutes of jovial, four-wheeled harmony. Whilst in said car, I chucked on a song by Bitch Prefect, the excellent “Bad Decisions”. And the car fell silent. But it wasn’t an awkward, painful silence. It was a silence in which a simple song was appreciated in simple silence. That’s the best thing about basic music. There’s no expectation, no need to catapult and overwhelm everything. Whilst a wailing guitar solo and banshee cries can be exhilarating, sometimes all you need is a broken guitar, and an equally broken soul to hush you. Fuck love, the sobs of a shattered soul are way more realistic.

That’s what you’re getting on Old Mate’s debut LP. It’s the solo project from Pat Telfer, a member of the aforementioned Bitch Prefect. But whilst Bitch Prefect almost confine themselves to scratchy, de-tuned musings, Old Mate is more diverse in the offerings, the seafood platter to BP’s BBQ. Also, whereas Bitch Prefect like to keep things at least a little upbeat, and inject some morbid humour, Telfer is as depressed as they come. Someone, give the guy a hug.

Now, that might sound a little forward. I mean, I don’t know the guy. How can I make assumptions about his life, and about what he’s trying to say? Mr. Telfer could be a bounding lil’ ball of energy for all I know. But the Adelaide aesthetic is there, and it sings loudly, especially in the lyrics. On “February'”, Telfer opens up, “Home’s where I’ll be, if you’re not next to me. I’ll stop myself from drinking beer. I’m holding in my tears…I’m lonely, but only without you”, as miserable, rain-soaked cowboy strums resound with funeral-esque finality.

And then there’s “Requesting Permission”, which has to be one of the finest songs released from a purely Australian perspective. It showcases Telfer as a modern day Paul Kelly, a poet with a guitar, a knack for putting the guilt in our throats, and creating a chokehold of emotions. “Every day I go away, and  I wish that I could stay. Every now and then, I find that I’m going out of my mind”, points to a guy who’s tearing his hair out, and knows that he’ll never find a solution. He’s stuck in a rut, a trap of his own creation, and getting out of there is going to be harder than breaking Han Solo out of Jabba’s Palace. Throw that curveball of truth next to a brilliantly simple guitar solo, an alien whistle and more wistful regret than that shot of Patrick Swayze looking out at the Byron Bay surf in Point Break.

There are a few kinks to be worked through on the album however, namely the constant changing of tones. Although that does make for a constantly evolving record, it makes things messier than the results of giving a 2 year old a week-old, unrefrigerated chilli con carne. Don’t get me wrong, this album has more heart and originality packed into it than the majority of records, but there’s a bit of a lack of clarity and cohesiveness to the middle of the record.

However, maybe that’s the point. This isn’t a professional record. Rick Rubin didn’t twist knobs with his tentacle beard, and there wasn’t a guest verse from A$AP Rocky. It’s a vibrant mix of noise, sadness, confusion, and self-defeatism. There is so much going on in Pat Telfer’s brain, and the bloke has condensed it into something that reeks of originality. He’s taken sadness, something that at this point seems passe, and he’s made it interesting and gut-wrenching again. Like a car-lift, Old Mate is a simple pleasures that releases a lot of pain and stress. Who needs shit like Morrissey or Robert Smith when you’ve got Old Mate?

‘It Is What It Is’ is out now in SDZ Records, and the launch is happening on October 18th at Black Wire Rekkids. Supports from The Friendsters and Ghastly Spats.

New: Old Mate – Requesting Permission

‘Old Mate’ is hands down the greatest expression of all time. Like, I mean, ever. It can be used as a genuine expression of devotion, a solidification of friendship, or it can be used as a sardonic barb to kill self-esteem. I think Old Mate (the band/solo project of Bitch Prefect member Pat Telfer) combines a little bit of both. Their single “Requesting Permission” combines both a sense of dread with the uniquely Australian emotion of being down and out, and being okay about that.

Lazy guitar strums, intergalactic alien warbles and scratched snares provide the background for Telfer’s incredibly morose lyrics. “Requesting Permission” aesthetically sits somewhere around Kitchen’s Floor and Twerps , mushing the two together for the ultimate I-feel-like-shit song.

But by far, the greatest thing about this track is its natural narrative build. “Requesting Permission” starts as a morbid mumble, grows in strength, and then bursts on the line “Every now and then I find, I am going out of my…”, before spiralling downward with the help of a shockingly good guitar solo. The mantra of “Every day I go away” is the perfect way to close the song, almost like its showing a guy that has lost complete and utter faith, but has only now come to a conclusion of hopelessness.

Just like the band name Old Mate, this song is a tale so aligned to Australian culture, of being kicked when your down, and becoming utterly used to it. The fact that Old Mate manages to take that story and turn it into something completely understandable to the average human being, makes this track something worthy of being ‘Song of the Year’.

 

New: Liam Kenny-Avalanche

Nothing can prepare you for this. Nothing. You could’ve just done battle with a robot Elton John whilst Rob Zombie cooked falafels to sell to a drunk John Malkovich who won’t stop calling his ex-girlfriends. You could have just come from that scenario, and yet you’ll still be floored by this song.

‘Avalanche’ if the debut single from Liam Kenny, who’s a member in a shitload of great bands: Bitch Prefect, Peak Twins, Roamin’ Catholics, Silly Joel & the Candymen and The Friendsters. You might be noticing that that’s a wide variety of genres, from guitar pop to screaming punk and even hip-hop. Well, that’s because Kenny is a man of diverse tastes. You can’t nail him down and pigeonhole him.

Which is why ‘Avalanche’ lurching, disturbing, paranoid feel comes as no surprise. Originally a Leonard Cohen song (yes, you read that right) Kenny has turned it into a screeching banshee cry of electronic music, something so harsh and undulating that the brown note gets hit at least three times in the space of its hypnotising six minutes. Featuring Dick Diver/The UV Race’s Al Montfort on sax, and Zond’s Justin Fuller, Kenny surrounds himself with the best possible company to create one of the most weathering pieces of music this side of Cthulhu bellowing in your ear.

The full covers album, ‘A Kenny For Your Thoughts’ comes out soon on it Records!

Video(s): Bitch Prefect + Real Estate + The Kite String Tangle + Pluto Jonze + YACHT + JMSN + Grave Babies

It’s been a while since I looked at any music videos. Good thing that the bands mentioned in the title came across with some new ones that rule pretty fucking hard. Especially the Aussie contingent. Those videos rule harder than Ja Rule using a ruler to measure his plunge in pop culture obscurity.

 

Bitch Prefect-University Fiend

You’ve met him before (it’s always a he). A self-minded, self-rioghteous prick that spews forth right-wing bullshit every time he opens his mouth. He’s an outspoken arsehole, and Bitch Prefect fucking hate this guy, along with the sane portion of Australia. This fucking wanker is young, dumb and is guaranteed to start and finish his life in university. Man, fuck this guy.

Bitch Prefect’s spot-on downer tune couldn’t reflect the unanimous opinion of this guy better. However, in the spirit of free speech, the dickhead is allowed to share his opinion on Bitch Prefect themselves, stimulated through the video for the track. The Predator-vision whilst the camera focuses on the band, and sudden switch to bright-eyed purple when admiring past accomplishments and the happiest/saddest day in this fuckhead’s life (graduation) shows that his opinion is solidly of the ‘fuck Bitch Prefect’ viewpoint. But who gives a shit. He’s a university fiend.

 

Real Estate-Talking Backwards

It’s Monday, which means that a lot of people will be listening to wistful indie rock. Fuck that. Listen to metal.

Okay, so maybe Monday arvo isn’t the best time to get into a nostalgic Pantera session, but instead of spinning Lana Del Ray for the millionth time, go for something new, something fresh, and something actually good. This new one from New York’s Real Estate is just the kind of friendly depression-visor that Monday’s call for.

There’s not a whole lot of amazing shit that happens in the clip, just an insight into what the characters of Real Estate get up to when no-one’s watching. Although I never really felt that was a hole in my life that needed to be filled, it has, and at the very least, there’s a kickass Real Estate track coming out of it.

 

The Kite String Tangle-Given the Chance

When I first heard this, I nearly shit a brick. Although it fits into the usual triple-j fodder of really good electro-dance artists like Panama and Rufus, this track makes squiggles of pleasure shoot through my brain at a frightening pace. If you’re listening to this track right now, you’ll realise the sort of sensations I’m feeling. The soulful voice, the trickling keys, the touch-n-go electronic-drumbeats…oh, and that fucking chorus croon! Jesus Christ, it’s like someone unleashed a hybrid of Adele and Miles Davis!

As for the video, well fuck me with some tindersticks. I don’t wanna sound like a pretentious prick, but why break the habit? It pretty much perfectly captures the introspectively uplifting mood of the track. The trippy, colourful visuals are amazing, and the self-discovery plot that seems to go on is, in a word, niiiiiiceeeee.

Get this fucking song, right fucking here. Go watch The Kite String Tangle at Oxford Arts Factory on Wednesday, 13th of Feb. Don’t sleep on that shit, because this dude has sold out four shows of his tour already.

 

Pluto Jonze-All Washed Up

Pluto Jonze is like the Vance Joy of indie-pop. By that I mean, he’s a small-time dude, with a whole bunch of pretty good songs on his belt. After slewing it out, and releasing amazing video after amazing video, he’s going to hit it big. And I mean really fucking big. Pluto Jonze is going to be fucking big, possibly bigger that Vance. In fact, the only super big differences is that Pluto Jonze is from Sydney, has a more broad spectrum of arrangement in his songs, and sounds a little bit more bummed.

And maybe, just maybe, ‘All Washed Up’ is Pluto Jonze’s ‘Riptide’. Who knows? Its definitely catchy, there’s a whistle-hook in there, and Pluto Jonze has been kicking around for long enough now that people should recognise the name. And with a video this fucking great, featuring a quick flurry of baffling but visually tasty images, it’s hard not to become kind of obsessed with this song. Hell, the images even relate to the lyrics the same way as in the ‘Riptide video. Pluto Jonze’s bummed face + Monopoly money + You’re all washed up’= music video symmetry heaven.

 

YACHT-Plastic Soul

YACHT are an electro-pop duo from Portland, Oregon, and they’ve done the most Portland thing ever by advertising the fact that it cost them ONLY 5 grand to make this video. Jinkies, do you want hipster cred with that order of overwhelming douchebraggery?

Although I do feel guilty putting two ‘retro, ironic karoake’ clips together, the song itself is actually pretty great. It’s bouncy and squelchy and a little bit off-putting but in an enjoyable way, like Hannibal Lecter playing with a basketball made of human flesh. Nice imagery right?

 

JMSN-The One

This clip was described to me as kinda dark, a statement that definetely goes as a frontrunner of ‘Most Underplayed Description of 2014’. The song plays like your average soulful ballad, not all that dissimilar to Oscar Key Sung or The Weeknd.

But then you watch this clip, and your eyes literally fall out of your head at the kind of shit on display. This is like watching Hellraiser in the company of someone who only wears spandex and leather, insists on speaking like a snake, and will never kiss you, only stick their tounge down your earholes. It’s incredibly creepy, disturbing and a hundred percent unique. For sure, you will not see a clip like this for a very, very long time.

 

Grave Babies-Pain Cycle

Time to get completely out of the smush zone with a hard-hitting new video from Grave Babies. I’ve always profounded my love for this band and their rich brand of goth mind-fuckery. On ‘Pain Cycle’, the rich grooves of crushing S&M synth are especially potent. Usually, a Grave Babies track will just tie you down and melt your mind. ‘Pain Cycle’ wants to compress it and place somewhere it can never be found.

If that wasn’t dark enough for you, check the video. It is so fucking creepy, like the Blair Witch Project being branded into the minds of the Children of the Corn. Green television sets blink and flicker in nothingness and a timid girl does what every horror-movie girl does: refuse to turn the fuck around and scream their way to safety. Oh well, at least her demise makes for a video that you will actually not be able to tear your eyes off.

Hand Games November Mixtape (free download)

 

Ohhh, yeahhhh! Do you feel that? A warm burn between your thighs? A dizzying spell penetrating your mind? An engulfing of your body in giddying excitement? That’s the bubbly need to party! But what the fuck are you going to soundtrack your days on the dance floor with? Well, luckily for you, there’s a new Hand Games mix, and it’s better than watching whatever shenanigans Kim and Kanye are up to now.

The new playlist is fucking killer, chock-full of tracks that will make your eyeballs pop out of your skull. Firstly, one of the best tracks of one of the best Australian releases of the year, TV Colours’ ‘Bad Dreams’. Try not to dance/headbang to this one. You’ll go Clockwork Orange, post-lobotmy levels insane. After that, there’s ‘Paranoid Video’ from Total Control. Yep, you read that write…the Total Control. Y’know, one of the best Aussie bands to surface in recent history. Disturbing and mind-fucking, it’s impossible not to enjoy this one.

Now after the assault of the brain, one needs to slow down and make way for the next couple tracks. Some shuffling electronica from the likes of Alba, seductive minimalism from Circular Keys and R&B sex soundtracking from Tincture/Hazel Brown are all eye-opening. Then, you need to prepare yourself for the greatness of Oscar Key Sung, and the track ‘All I Could Do’, as well as Nakagin’s ‘Bloom’, a sultry, natural beauty.

Halfway through the playlist, and no signs of slowing down, as Primitive Motion announce they’re post-punk ways with ‘Home of the Lone Coast’, a really fucking tortured track that has a subdued Sisters of Mercy/Rowland S Howard vibe. Slightly more upbeat, but no less twisted is You Beauty’s new track ‘Menal Mondays’, a song that twists with a heart-attack drum beat, gnarled guitar splashes and foreshadowing bass.

After those gloomy pearls, we head into the slacker rock territory, with two bands that regularly get mentioned here: Bitch Prefect and Food Court. BP’s ‘Shipped It’ actually has a bit of a Dischord vibe, like Fugazi got re-worked in Adelaide. Meanwhile, ‘By Your Side’, which I’ve posted about quite a bit before, rocks like a hurricane, fuzzy feel-good punk that is the cure for any melancholic work day.

Finally, we end this gem of a playlist with two tracks that take their queues from the recent downtempo electronica scenes that have been popping up all over the globe. Slum Sociable pout with a snaky, hissing track called ‘Watch Me Turn Colourful’, whilst Phondupe gets slinky and irresistible with the dripping-with-lust ‘Proxy’.

That’s all from this session of Hand Games Mixtapes. I’ve been your host, Ryan the Wanker. Enjoy this awesome Australian music with a complimentary side of Free Download. That’s right! This playlist can be all yours for nothing! FUCK YEAH!

Album Review: The Ocean Party-Split

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Every normal, shitty teenager worth their salt should love this album. Its in our nature. Slacker vocals, rain-swept guitar, pitter-patter drums and lyrics more straightforward than an English Advanced essay? Phwoah, The Ocean Party are practically spelling out the descriptor ‘Legends’ through their music. To hate The Ocean Party would be an unnatural testament of illogical rebellion. Unless you’re the kind of person that rocks an Amity Affliction t-shirt 24/7, and has Christian Metal blasting out of your Dr Dre Beats that your parents bought you, you should love the new Ocean Party album more than a puppy made of shrooms.

The greatest thing about this record is the unassuming but brilliant lyrics. I have listened to this album many times, and by far, the best thing is how the words sort of trail  like a finger in the water when your paddling in a canoe (Duke of Ed Outdoor 4 lyf). But if you take a moment to block out the trickling music, and focus on the words, you will discover a much more beautiful record than you assumed at first glance. The title track, ‘Split’ flickers like kindling in a close knit fire, quaint guitar plucks revolving around your head in a pleasant, Jane Austen kinda way. But the theme of discovery and indecision is prevalent from start to finish in the lyrics. ‘Im torn between what I want and/what I have to do/ I am finding it hard/I am split’). Likewise, ‘Every Decision’, at first glance, is a gentle, rolling thing of under appreciated awesomeness, but the lyrics reveal the confused ambitions of the average 20-something better than any mid-90’s teenage rom-com could. When the motif of ‘…but I don’t know where to start’ rises up, it’s damn near impossible not to tilt and nod your head in silent agreement. ‘Chinese Takeaway’ is similar, a solemn, velvety track that drones with quiet poignance, but the song itself reveals the safety of known comfort, an existential passage that I, for one, certainly didn’t expect when I tuned into this awesome slacker-pop.

So yeah, there’s a lot more to The Ocean Party than the initial strummed chords and hazy lazy music. There’s real oomph and direction behind their music that you would not expect in a million years from a band that sounds like they’re five bong hits in. Every song hits like a train wreck made of pillows, something you can sink your head into with warm comfort. And if you take a closer listen, you’ll discover Radiohead-levels of awesome lyrics, minus the bullshit mysticism. From the lackadaisical opening chords of ‘Quarter Life’ to the urban blues of ‘Outside’, it’s impossible not to love this album. Is it sadistic to say that hearing The Ocean Party’s beautiful lyrical depression takes me to incredible heights of glee? Probably. But the self-discovery of a most-likely fatal descent into masochistic tendencies is a small price to pay for ‘Split’. Right?

The Ocean Party are launching the album at Petersham Bowling Club this Friday night (11th of September). King Tears Mortuary, Adults, and Mope City are playing support, three bands that rule harder than King Leonidas.  If you want a couple of free tracks, including the amazing ‘Split’, grab ’em here at The Ocean Party’s Triple J Unearthed Page here.

Video: Bitch Prefect-Better Next Time

New video from the one and only Bitch Prefect. This song is the B-side to the upcoming ‘Adelaide’ single, and is by far the saddest thing this side of Robert Smith’s facial expressions. Seriously, the lyrics to this just pour tears of desperation. The whole chorus is an ode to hopefulness and knowing you’ve fucked up. To give scope to the sad plight of this track, an amputee Tasmanian Tiger wearing a goonsack for a hat is only half as sad as this song. This song makes orphan tears look like apple juice. It will tug on your heart strings harder than an ad for The Fred Hollows Foundation. Goddamn, Bitch Prefect, you are killing us with your goodness!

New: Bitch Prefect-Adelaide

Ahh yes, more woozy bedroom pop from everyone’s favourite guys that can’t let go of their grudge for unsatisfactory school leaders. Bitch Prefect may be a bit of a well kept secret, but they shouldn’t be, they’re too good for that. ‘Adelaide’ sees the band channeling more of a Go-Betweens vibe than usual, off-key ‘lustrous’ nah-nah section. I cannot wait to catch these dudes at their show on Friday 27 September, at Petersham Bowling Club, with Destiny 3000 (Fuck Yeah!) and Housewives (Double Fuck Yeah!). This is the Facebook event page, get on it.

Video: Bitch Prefect-Drifting

Have you ever wondered what 2001: A Space Odyssey would be like if it wasn’t, you know, long and shit? Well, Adelaide/Melbourne bucket of awesome Bitch Prefect try their best to answer that for you in their new clip for their brand new song, ‘Drifting’. Meandering and handsome, the track is just another of the myriad of reasons to love Bitch Prefect. They are one of the best new-ish Australian bands going around at the moment, at the same calibre of Twerps, Dick Diver and Scott & Charlene’s Wedding. Although ‘Drifting’ is slightly slower (only by a bit) than the usual Bitch Prefect song, and doesn’t exaggerate the slacker aspects like ‘Walk Through the Door’ or ‘Holiday in America’, it still is an absolute gem of a song. I have literally soaked my pants in my sudden anticipation of their second record, ‘Bird Nerds’, out on the 4th of November, on Bedroom Suck. FUCK YEAH!