Album Review: The Men-Tomorrow’s Hits

The Men are the Golden Snitch of amazing bands. Everytime you think you’ve caught onto them, and you’re going to ride into Quidditch success, with all the bling, bitches and Cristal that brings, they slither out of your grasp and chameleonise themselves into a unique and beautiful gryffin. I don’t know how metaphors or the Harry Potter universe work.

It became all too easy to fall in love with The Men on their raging punk debut, but then they broadened their strokes and struck up a post-punk pose with ‘Leave Home’. Their third album continued to be punk rock as GG Allin’s scrotum by incorporating some more influences into the harsh brutality, and their fourth effort took turns between calming down the energy and ramping it up to newfound levels of clusterfuck punk genius.

So, it makes sense that ‘Tomorrow’s Hits’ would be another left turn. The Men have all but abandoned their punk/noise roots for a full album of Americana and bluegrass influenced tunes. What the fuck? Surely every fan will be turned into a retching pile of sadness seeing their former punk heroes go from crafting a brilliantly visceral piece like ‘Night Landing’ to wussying out with acoustic guitars and thinly-veiled threats of incestual sodomy?

Turn away your stereotypes right now, you bigoted, close-minded prude! Sure, that sentence could be an excellent (and accurate) example of hypocrisy, The Men prove to be an outlier of bands that can consistently change their sound and yet retain the magic of what their original fans were keen on. ‘Tomorrow’s Hits’ is an album so chock full of goodness, you could shove your head up the asshole of a vegan that recycles and still not be at the levels of amazing health that The Men showcase on this album.

Think of this-If David Bowie were re-incarnated into being a member of Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Phil Spector circa-Ramones were given production duties, then this is what would have resulted. The album has elements of grandiose and flash to it, and a sincere pop edge, but it’s delivered in a style that’s laidback and comfortingly warm. It’s like Bob Dylan or Townes Van Zandt got a rush of adrenaline straight to their spleens. The result can only be described as gorgeous.

Songs like ‘Get What You Give’, ‘Sleepless’ and ‘Settle Me Down’ are rollicking ballads that unfold at a more timeless place than a Morgan Freeman narration. Then there are high energy Stooges/Radio Birdman-esque romps of ‘Different Days’ and ‘Pearly Gates’. And finally, some good old fashioned twirlers like’The Dark Waltz’.

Initially, The Men seemed like a secret that wouldn’t be uncovered until past their prime, like all the proto-punks from Detroit. But although an album title like ‘Tomorrow’s Hits’ points towards such a future, The Men are a band that are too dedicated to their work of pumping out awesome songs to not be revered in their own lifetime.

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Video: Total Slacker-Sometimes You Gotta Die

Its a tale as old as time itself: masked killer chops up a bunch of horny teenagers. This is like the Illiad of horror stories, and for Halloween, Brooklyn garage punkers Total Slacker adopt that approach for their video for ‘Sometimes You Gotta Die’. The video is pretty cool, but its the song that really accelerates the action, a torturous mix of fuzz and squeal that gives a doom-laden approach to the ensuing massacre. Think if The Shining was soundtracked by early Mudhoney. Actually, that’s a really good idea, someone should totally do that.

Video: Parquet Courts-You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now

As inevitable failure in the form of the forthcoming English Paper 2 HSC exam creeps further forward in everyone’s mind, I combat your paranoia with the video for a song I’ve reviewed a fuck load before, and am still not tired of. Yep, the video for ‘You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now’ by Brooklyn stoner punks Parquet Courts is up and at ’em. Smart lyrics like ‘Seasicks better than heartsick baby’ come to life as a little red Pacman ghost dances along to them like a music video for a High School Musical song. In the background, some seriously weird shit in the form of a creative re-imagining of looking under a microscope in Year 8 goes on. Weird shit that’s weirder than purple poop-wouldn’t expect anything less from Parquet Courts.

Album Review: Parquet Courts-Tally All the Things That You Broke EP

If every Parquet Courts fan in the entire world met up in one place (let’s say…Arizona Desert? And call it something like….Burning Sasquatch?), and channelled the appropriate amount of excitement and adoration for this new EP that Parquet Courts just put out, there would be enough energy to power Europe for 21 days. Now, that might seem highly unlikely, illogical, and even impossible, but it’s a scientific fact that it would work. Just ask the dudes from MythBusters or something.

This new EP from Brooklyn-via-Texas band Parquet Courts (if you’ve been on this website before, you’ve probably heard the name) is a bonafide smash hit compromised of delectable tracks on par with ‘Paranoid Android’ and ‘Fire in Cairo’. In other news, what is hyperbole? Okay, so maybe I’m guilty of exaggeration and bias, but this EP is better than having a peanut butter and jam sandwich with Tupac.

It’s only a few tracks long, but ‘Tally All the Things That You Broke’ packs a punch, and surely the title holds over an element of foreshadowing after the first track is done. ‘You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now’ is fast and not very furious, but don’t take that to mean that you won’t go on a rampage of delight. There’s a little pan flute riff in there that makes you think both ‘What the fuck?’ and ‘Why isn’t that there pan flute in every song?’. The sweaty guitar breaks that occur twice in the song are also very fucking cool, like Jack Nicholson rapping Wu-Tang Clan levels of cool.

The EP moves onto ‘Descend (The Way)’, a shouty, underfed grimer, like that kid that you used to go to school with that always smelled like a dead body and ate rotting cheese for recess. After that dirty but delicious thing, there’s “The More It Works’, a song that wouldn’t sound out of place in an Ian McKaye set-list. The song’s only got se7en words in it, but it’s less Kevin Spacey decapitating your wife, and more ‘holy shit, let’s mosh until we decapitate ourselves’. As the guitar drips out, a slinky bass line kicks in for ‘Fall On Yr Face’ a narration driven track that shows off a more disturbed side to Parquet Courts than anything we’ve ever seen (Oh My!).

So far, the EP has been a happily haphazard affair, and super enjoyable. But shit’s about to get unreal with the announcement of ‘He’s Seeing Paths’. The obvious comparison would be Beck’s ‘Odelay’ what with the strangely addictive samples that collectively form a church of wacked out, smacked out noise. But ‘He’s Seeing Paths’ is too funky and cool for that. The sound pushes like it’s searching for something, and it keeps you hooked for a whole seven minutes, a very impressive feat for a band that’s made their name with hooky, verse driven two minute tracks. To divert into something that takes the funk of Stevie, and the throwback cool of Anton Newcombe, and to force them to make love over a cowbell riff…that takes balls. Best of all, it’s the standout track of the EP.

Overall, Parquet Courts have released a fucking awesome EP, a bunch of material that see’s the band gearing towards a freakier direction. Now that’s some shit that we can all get behind. A little weird, but still throwing out familiar bones for those of us that don’t want a 180-sound fiasco, this EP will  tide the fans over whilst we wait in mutual adoration for a sophomore record, and it will pick up a whole bunch of new fans. The punk may have dimmed a litte, but the freak-flag is still flying.

Parquet Courts will be playing Laneway festival in February, and are one of the top reasons to go (along with Cashmere Cat, Kurt Vile and Savages).

New: ARMS-Earthquake Weather

A very cool indie rock track from Brooklyn (is indie rock actually played anywhere outside of Brooklyn?), this time from a band who has no fear of the caps lock key, ARMS. Their track ‘Earthquake Weather’ has friendly vibes to it, caressing tendrils of guitar waving in time with a gooey voice. Like Dale Earnherdt Jr. Jr. before them, ARMS are most wonderful and breezy when the songs are played with amiable abandon. Pretty cool stuff. The EP, imaginatively titled EP2, will be out September 10th on Paper Garden Records.

New: Parquet Courts-You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now

If you’ve been on here before, you’ll know that I adore Brooklyn Knights of stoned punk, Parquet Courts, more than I adore puppies that sell narcotics. They’ve released a furious riff-centric new track called ‘You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now’, and it rocks my socks off. If you ever wake up on a Monday morning, hungover as fuck, needle stuck in your arm, and your heart broken by a hooker the night before, this is the song to bring you out of your reverie. A pan flute, hand claps, a squealing guitar solo and a chugging pace, ‘You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now’ is the best thing to happen to music since ‘Stoned and Starving’ (also by Parquet Courts, schwag).

New: Butter the Children-True Crime EP

https://soundcloud.com/butterthechildren/sets/true-crime-ep

If you feel like the contingent of female fronted garage bands like locals Bloods and Screaming Females is lacking for you, then look no further than the amazing talent of Brooklyn’s Butter the Children. Unlike the cliche hipsterisms that call themselves bands that one would immediately associate with the neighbourhood of Brooklyn (cough, Grizzly Bear, cough), Butter the Children are only a slightly less rancid and despicably good band than their name inspires. The vocals of lead lady Inna Mkrtycheva are actually pretty stunning, rare for a garage band content to just casually kick out the jams. Combine this with the odd juxtaposition of washed out and bleached shoegaze guitar and simplistic snare, and you’ve got a sound that sounds unique and irresistable. Although this brand new 3 track EP won’t render you into an unconscious state of transcendental being, it’ll come damn close. Especially ‘Loose’. That track is deceivingly tight for a song with such a name. Damn you Butter the Children for bamboozling us all with your song titles!

You can stream/buy the schtunning EP here, and indulge in their previous self-titled right here. It’s worth it, like hanging out with Batman for an hour would be worth infinite amounts of cash and sexual favours.

Album Review: Parquet Courts-Borrowed Time 7″

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Unfortunately, this isn’t going to be a massive Pulitzer Prize ode to music like I usually pull out of my ass. This is only a 7″, albeit a fucking fantastic one, but there’s only so many words one can use to describe material that lasts shorter than my wish to make a career out of taming house cats.

Parquet Courts are a fantastic band. Combining stoner punk with sweaty lyrics, the band is something that should be required listening for the Bong Squad. If you’re ever feeling like you need a pick-me-up, Parquet Courts will not only suffice, but go and buy you a coffee and talk to you about your problems. He may light a joint at some point, but at least he’s listening. Parquet Courts, fuck yeah, Parquet Courts.

Anyway, this is the band’s latest 7″, which features one of the best tracks off their debut ‘Borrowed Time’ and two unreleased tracks. You should feel so lucky. ‘Borrowed Time’ is a college-flunked, cigarette smoking jam that wanders around the school quad for hours at a time, just thinking, man. ‘Borrowed Time’ is the kind of stonerific punk statement you’ve been waiting your whole life for. Its just a damn good track, there’s no two ways about it. ‘Seems these days I’m captive in this borrowed time…’….you’ll be singing that shit ’til you kick the bucket.

On Side B, Parquet Courts get a chance to show off both sides to their music, bang bang, right after each other. Quick succession, no bullshit, just the way I like it. ‘Smart Aleck Kid’ is a paranoid and unrestrained punk jam, totally fucked up, whirling out of control with no idea where it’s going. It’s beautiful in it’s simplicity. Then, as soon as Descendants have been payed their respective dues, Parquet Courts take a turn shooting the shit with Archers of Loaf on ‘Free Ice’. Super 80’s independent rock jam it is (read that in a Yoda voice) baritone quaking in it’s boots and not all that confident either. Somewhere in the world, Stephen Malkmus is losing his shit over ‘Free Ice’.

So, if you’ve waited this long to get into Parquet Courts, like, what the fuck are you waiting for? Have you not heard ‘Stoned and Starving‘? Are you, like, the AntiChrist? Go and fucking buy ‘Light Up Gold’, right now. If you are like the rest of humanity (fucking conformist) and worship Parquet Courts, then the ‘Borrowed Time’ 7″ will only bolster your utmost faith in the band.

Album Review: Parquet Courts-Light Up Gold

ImageThere is only one way to describe Brooklyn-via-Texas garage punkers: total drawl. Everything they do, from their laidback infectious riffs, to Andrew Savage’s stoner voice, even to the most staccato of drum beats are delivered in only the most relaxed of manners. You could not find a  slacker punk band in today’s music scene if you tried.

‘Light Up Gold’ is Parquet Courts’ second, and more accessible record since they formed in 2010. Three years and already underground superstars. It’s overall vibes of takin’ life as it comes to you, and living in the present are common themes amongst even the most prodigious of garage bands, but it is all in the execution of Parquet Courts that raises them above the bar from your averagely cool garage band to being amongst the lofty heights of The Black Lips, Harlem and King Tuff.

The first thing that will slowly permeate your brain is Andrew Savage’s voice and it’s incredible potency. Like, it’s more dreamy than Justin Bieber making out with the Janoskians. On second thought, that sounds absolutely disgusting. Anyway, you get the idea. It’s slow, stoned and absolutely intriguing. It’s slow, annunciating drippiness makes it infectious to a T, and as seen on tracks like ‘Light Up Gold II’ and ‘Caster of Worthless Spells’. It’s actually quite beautiful in a dark way.

The next thing that will probably slurp your gonads is the washing-machine instrumentation. It rolls in a ragamuffin, unrestricted style that exaggerates the already slacker-than-a-plus-sized-g-string style of the band. It can switch from deceptively fast to a twangy chilled vibe between songs without any of the style lost. It provides for a shallow bed of awesome in which the coolest of fish are found, like Nemo and Dory. The prickly jams of of ‘Yr No Stoner’, ‘Careers in Combat’, ‘N Dakota’ are addictive in the best sense of the word.

This leads to the greatest part of the band and record: Parquet Courts’ lyrics. They are the best. Hands down, without a doubt, some of the best shit you will hear all year on a song. No, it’s not going to provide some deep introspective that speaks to you about the inner workings of life a la James Blake, but it will make you lol, perhaps even roflmao. It’s a basic tale, the troubles of a stoner in contemporary New York. Take ‘Disney P.T’: ‘My girl is a bowl of hash/a familiar looking rash/my girl’s my secret stash/my shampooed pile of trash’. If that’s not fucking hilarious and a little bit true, then you’re lying to yourself. On ‘Donuts Only’, just before a tidal riff launches the song into a frenzy, you can hear Savage cry ‘Like a red state baptist’s fervor/Like a small town’s unsolved murder’, a couplet of hilariously dramatic proportions.

The album is a work of garage punk art, however there is one glaring fault. The band never really launch themselves fully into any song, bar two, and those are the greatest songs on the album. Maybe it’s to do with their slacker style, maybe it’s because a minute was all they could sustain, like the poor sap of a business man that’s speed dial is made up of boner-dysfunction call centres. However, when they do commit, it’s a beautiful result. You’ve got ‘Borrowed Time’ a basic chord structure with all the heart of a minotaur on ecstasy. Then there’s ‘Stoned and Starving’ (free download), a five minute treasure if I’ve ever heard one. The opening bass riff is one that gives me tingles similar to that of Hunter S. Thompson spotting a mushroom that doesn’t immediately strike itself as poisonous.  It’s a wafting bong load that features drooling melodies, a amphetamine fuelled hook, and that trade-mark drawl. It’s truly the standout track on the album, and is still stuck in my head a full four months after I first heard it.

To put in candidly, Parquet Courts are not a band that one can brush off easily. They have perfected the short, sharp song, a guerilla track if you will. It gets in, blows a dusting of shroom-coated garage onto your brain, and then fucks off before you have time to think ‘woah, I feel like some Cheetohs’. It’s no surprise these guys are hotly tipped to ruin indie music for the better. I mean, there’s TWO guys in the band with the last name Savage. How could they not rule?

Album Review: Radical Dads-Rapid Reality

This awesome album is a solid slab of fallback 90’s era rock that mixes with the brand of new-grunge permeating the garage scene at the moment. All of this mixes into a plain brilliant album that forces me to put down all the dumb shit I’m doing and perk my ears. On ‘Rapid Reality’, Radical Dads create an album with so much heart and earnest that it’s impossible to look away, even for a second, in case you miss even one second of their brilliant nature.

Radical Dads are first, and foremost, a cool band, that are slotting into a nice little cache of other cool bands. If you dig on Shark?, Screaming Females, DIIV or Dum Dum Girls, chances are you’ll want to swathe yourself in Radical Dads tunes. All the songs on ‘Rapid Reality’ are coated in a nice cocoon of simplicity. The band doesn’t need to add in a 40-strong orchestra, or add a sample of ostriches having sex to a loop. No, Radical Dads would rather be Sleater Kinney over Cocteau Twins any day, or at least that’s how it looks on ‘Rapid Reality’.

In terms of musical prowess, the band indulges in the guitar, which is their strength, as well as laying vocal work that is unabashedly powerful. Lindsay Baker, Chris Diken and Robbie Guertin all work their butts off to create what should have been the sequel to ‘Fever to Tell’ by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This is present in opener ‘Mountain Town’ that growls and sparkles with equal brightness and darkness, roiling in a muddy guitar riff whilst being pounded out with undeinable energy on the drums. This is ferocious music played with the most friendly of intentions.

This format plays out for the next two songs: ‘Pink Flag’ a turmoil of jangly guitar that is championed by heartfelt vocals and spruced with a heroic chorus, and ‘Rapid Reality’ is one of the bigger joys of the entire album. It starts out with a tantalisingly sweet hook that is as syrupy as bee jizz, then curdles into a loud and infectious chorus that’ll be stuck in your mind all week, guaranteed. Seriously, try not to sway your head back and forth as ‘AND IT ALL COMES BACK TO ME/ AND THE PAGES OF RAPID REALITY’ is belted out with the force of a Cuban drug lord executing his wrath.

Don’t think everything ends from there either, things only get stickier and sweeter. A fervent burner is seen on ‘Hi Desert’, wallowing in hopeful retrospect, then everything switches back into overdrive on ‘Dust USA’, whispered, husky vocals grinding against a gravel-strewn path of riffs. ‘Shackleton’ adds a guttural, elongated element to the album, epic music churning in a constant striving  and achieving of awesomeness. How many bands can make a song about Antarctic explorers from the 19th Century sound good? As of now, just the one band, Radical Dads. So, good job for that.

I don’t have to outline the entire album for my point to get across. Radical Dads are a fine Brooklyn band, fresh in every sense of the word (unless you’re thinking about it the way 2 Chainz says it). Radical Dads are just two dudes and a lady making sweet, sweet music for the inner teenager in everyone to jam to. Radical Dads are pretty radical, and I doubt I’m the first or last person who will make that joke.

You can stream/buy ‘Rapid Reality’ as well as a bunch of their older stuff on Radical Dads Bandcamp. Also, check out the awesome video for ‘Rapid Reality’ here. It features flying pizzas!