Album Review: Popstrangers-Fortuna

Sophomore slump, la de fucking da. We get it. The first album ruled, and now you’re out of ideas, out of money, and the record labels crawled up your arsehole. Instead of taking some time, and actually making something worth listening to, you’ve pumped out a token ‘radio hit’, and built up 11 songs of filler and utter shit. It’s a tale as old as time itself.

Nah, Popstrangers were always going to be better than that. There will be no random radio junkie bullshit on this second outing. And it certainly can only be described as an outing. The songs on here stretch far and wide, a fucking pasture of guitar reverb and jittery drumming. There is still the same sonic overload that they showcased so well on their debut record, but now it’s tighter, and more focused, less fucking noodling.

Now, when Popstrangers are playing, everything has a purpose, and they’re definitely going somewhere. Of course, there’s always going to be an exception, and things can become mildly placid (‘Her’), but the overarching thesis is that ‘Fortuna’ is strong, and confident.

That’s right, I’m forming a thesis around ‘Fortuna’. A goddamn thesis. Fuck, what has university done to me? Anyway, the point remains that when Popstrangers pull their guns out, and drop guitar bombs, they can’t help but achieve the kind of lossless devoted attention the Reid brothers loved. Lead single ‘Country Kills’ is a perfect example-the swirl of Popstrangers psychedelic melts into crashing, rough choruses that could muster a resonance with a festival crowd.  Furthermore, ‘Tonight’ goes for the jugular, Flying Nun jangle evaporating into damn guttural guitar squallor. Shit, ‘Right Babies’ doesn’t even fuck around with easing in the listener, and goes hard out with a spine-snapping, eight-legged guitar riff.

And even though I’m obviously a frother over Popstranger’s more bolstered stuff on this album, the quieter stuff is pretty amazing too. Opener ‘Sandstorm’ hits all the right notes on its way to a pretty orgasmic finish, and the closer of ‘What’s On Your Mind?’ could be the perfect track to forlornly gaze after unrequited love to aka every single romantic pursuit I’ve ever experienced.

Overall, ‘Fortuna’ shows that Popstrangers have grown anything but shy. They’re experiencing with some loud chorus and barrel-chested guitars, whilst losing none of the homely, endearing factors from their first album. And there’s certainly more than enough shoegaze jaw-droppers on here to make the average Slowdive fan gasp in amazement. Good stuff, Popstrangers, come over the pond whenever you feel like, and dash my brains out with you tunes.


Album Review: Cloud Nothings-Here And Nowhere Else

There are two types of Cloud Nothings song: good and amazing. His first album ‘Turning On’, when Cloud Nothings was nothing more than Dylan Baldi and a couple instruments, was good tracks, with the amazing ‘Hey Cool Kid’. Second album, a self-titled effort, is again full of good songs, with a few more amazing ones like ‘Forget You All the Time’ and ‘All the Time’ sprinkled throughout. Yes, it is weird that the best two songs are both called pretty much the same thing. Then, third album ‘Attack On Memory’ fully launches into what had been hinted at in previous efforts, a bubbling rage and layered texture to Cloud Nothings that we all knew was there, but had never been fully exposed. Like some sort of rash, Steve Albini uncovered the rage that Baldi obviously had, and fixated it into a brooding, tumultuous near-perfect album.

Now, a couple years on from that near-perfect record comes the logical next step-‘Here And Nowhere Else’. This is an album that’s so perfect, it should be viewed the same way the Internet views cat videos and Jennifer Lawrence. It’s got the perfect mix of brutality, speed, pain, hope, distortion, fuzz, and the million other things that make an album irresistible. It’s jam-packed with songs that are snarling and anthemic, switching between tracks that you blast at your slammed bedroom door, and songs that you shout along to haphazardly with your friends in your backyard over a couple beers.

For the first time, it seems like Dylan Baldi is really stretching his vocal chords. Completely gone are the days where there’d be a quiet sing-a-long point in a Cloud Nothings album. These songs are entrenched in fury and spit-shined with a grime that comes from years of adoring Sonic Youth. They’re dirtily poetic. Take for example, ‘Psychic Trauma’. It rushes at a full-lenght pace, so fast you’d think your colon is about to fall out of your butthole just out of the fury. Your have a right to be afraid-once it reaches its pinnacle of avalanching drums and lurching squeals of guitar, you will shit your pants. Not a metaphor, not a hyperbole-there will be a brown turd burglar in your jeans by the end of ‘Psychic Trauma’.

Such is the way of this album. Infectious grooves give way to fearsome screams, as Baldi ignites himself over and over again, the musical equivalent of Thích Quảng Đức. There’s the growling guitar paralleling the earnest questioning of ‘Giving Into Seeing’, the cliff-face, nail-bitingingly loud ‘Now Hear In’, and the 7 minute epic ‘Pattern Walks’, which moves in a million directions, whilst always retaining a fury and passion that would put the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family firmly in the place of top-notch fans.

But it’s the closer of ‘I’m Not Part of Me’ that ties the album together. There’s all this newfound anger and propulsion for Cloud Nothings, a momentum that’s seemingly unstoppable, and trapped in high velocity. But what’s Baldi trying to say? Is he just a bummed out guy that can make killer songs? No, ‘I’m Not Part of Me’ answers that by saying that it doesn’t pay to be angry all the time. Sometimes, you’ve got to let go, take a step back, and see everything for what it really is.

You can have all the killer riffs you want, but it’s the ultimate message that’s delivered in ‘Here And Nowhere Else’ that makes the album a modern day masterpiece. There is absolutely nothing to fault with this album. From start to finish it transfers energy and electricity that’s been unheard for so long. This album takes the Cloud Nothings name to soaring heights, with an execution that would do any pop culture icon justice. Although it’s only March, ‘Here And Nowhere Else’ is easily the most impressive record to date, and will be near-impossible to top.

New: Parquet Courts + Popstrangers + Makthaverskan + White Lung

Today’s edition of Ryan’s jizz-tastic explorations is brought to you by the genre: FUZZ. Also, none of these bands are from ‘Straya, so there’s that as well. So many connections, this article feels more like The Matrix than a boring blog post, amirite?

Parquet Courts-Sunbathing Animal

In my own humble opinion, Parquet Courts are the kind of band that the world needs now. Fuck love, we need Parquet Courts. Luckily, the band are never shy of releasing material on a constant basis. Since ‘breaking’ with their official debut record ‘Light Up Gold’ in 2012/2013, they’ve released an EP, and are gunning to release a new album in a few months. ‘Sunbathing Animal’ is the title track, as well as the first taste, and in typical Parquet Courts fashion it doesn’t let up. It’s more furious than Vin Diesel being denied another access to the weights room/steroid lab, and is full of tangled, cross-eyed guitar. There’s the usual speeding, finger-flipping stream-of-consciousness lyrics, and overall, Parquet Courts fail to disappoint. Fuck Parquet Courts for being unable to suck shit.


Popstrangers-Country Kills

Popstrangers blasted out of New Zealand with their shoegaze laden debut, but they’ve swapped it for some more straightforward rock on the first single from their upcoming sophomore.And when I say straightforward, I mean a zebra-striped, peeling guitar riff that sniffed the acid residue from an Unknown Mortal Orchestra orgy, and then a chorus of head-bopping, cruise-controlled infectiousness. And of course, there’s a mushy psych guitar solo in there, because it wouldn’t be a decent Popstrangers track without one.


Makthaverskan-No Mercy

I always wondered if Savages ever lost their viciousness, would they still be any good? Deadset, some random band from Sweden answered that question, and have created a post-punk masterpiece. It starts out like any Jesus & Mary Chain/Joy Division/Sisters of Mercy sound alike, the deep bass ruts providing a sturdy, swirling pedestal. Then the vocals start, and your heart melts faster than a chocolate fountain. As the song swoons on the precipice of perfection, there’s these gorgeous little guitar interludes, and you want to die and live in a place where this song exists as a currency. “Hi, can I grab an apple?”, “That’ll be two spins of ‘No Mercy'”. Wouldn’t that be the best alternate universe ever?

White Lung-Drown With the Monster

And to finish, some screeching, caterwauling punk from Vancouver’s White Lung. These guys are so brutal and knife-edge they make Crocodile Dundee look like a pussy. They command and strut with this new song, always careening on the edge of oblivion and blown-out eardrums. If this isn’t punk rock finesse, then obviously you’re an Avril Lavigne fan. Party on sk8r boi.

New: Cloud Nothings-I’m Not Part of Me

Holy fuck balls stick on a dingo baby’s asshole! New Cloud Nothings right!? Didn’t expect for this to rock up and make me prematurely lose my shit in the middle of class.

However, it did, and I have no regrets, because it’s a super awesome mad track. That’s the highest level of madness a song can receive, by the way. It achieves that rank because ‘I’m Not Part of Me’ combines both the romantic dreaminess of Cloud Nothing’s self-titled record with the Steve Albini-influenced post-punk of their 2012 record ‘Attack on Memory’.

You may be wondering how good a thing that could possibly be. Let me tell you that this is fucking awesome news, because a combination like that allows for the song to be both catchier than a ball thrown by a sloth, and hard-rocking enough to be able to get people ultra-moshing!

Video(s): Best Coast + Montero + Speedy Ortiz + Mogwai

Mo’ music videos, mo’ problems. I believe thats an age old adage, or something. Anyway, coming at you from all sides are a bunch of videos from around the globe that will make you a worse person as you inhale sinful things through your eyes.

Best Coast-This Lonely Morning

The last time I saw a music video on Funny or Die, it was FIDLAR’s ‘Cocaine’, and Nick Offerman got his dick out. No cocks in this picture, only Best Coast’s absolutely lovely bleached surf-rock sounds. Wistful and fun, ‘This Lonely Morning’ is about as irresistible as having high tea with Beth Consentino.

Simple as always, Best Coast play tennis in the best way, by taking out all the factors of speed, fitness, velocity and flying balls, and reducing the sport to hitting a standstill object. Although not the best tennis-based music video of the year (that would go to Courtney Barnett, with ‘Avant Gardener’) but this is still a great clip/song.

Monteo-Dead Heads Come to Dinner

Imagine Kevin Parker teaming up with ‘Congatulations’-era MGMT, and then fry that result with way too much acid. The result would either be a manslaughter case or Montero, the soulful psych-pop project from Melbourne. Goddamn, ‘The Dead Heads Come to Dinner’ is a great song, half nervous laughter, half-drug induced coma, and all jittery, good times.

However, the music video steals the show, with hands down the freakiest shit of 2013 making a very welcome appearance. SEE: Purple Witches Raise the Occult With Hula Hoops! WATCH: Christmas-themed Creatures from the Swamp Confusedly  Rise To Their Rightful Thrones! ADMIRE: A Jellyfish Just Doing Its Thing!

Speedy Ortiz-No Below

Off their debut LP, its ‘No Below’ by Boston’s Speedy Ortiz. I feel like this video encapsulates everything the far right wing fears about the hippie culture. Even though I wouldn’t call Speedy Ortiz a hippie band, their usual stamp of tunes being a scuzzed-up modern nod to the Pixies etc., there are bugs crawling around on some boobs and what appears to be an orgy in the forest. Seems pretty hippie-like to me. Maybe these kids are on drugs!

Mogwai-The Lord is Out of Control

In case you’re a newcomer, Mogwai are a post-rock band from Scotland that everyone loves. And they make long songs. Except their new track ‘The Lord Is Out of Control’. Huh? That’s fucked up. However, the song itself is pretty par for the Mogwai course, a mixture of tantalising sounds all collapsing into waves of torturous noise. Although ‘The Lord Is Out of Control’ seems to hold a bit less of the usual attention grabbing sounds that Mogwai are capable of, the Spiritualized-ish tone of the track is delectable. As for the video, well its basically an art show in the video medium and it looks goddam good.

Video(s): The Creeping Ivies + Popstrangers + Alex Cameron + Buzz Kull + Touch Sensitive/Ego + Wave Racer

I don’t know about you, but the way I like to spend MY Friday nights is by watching music video after music video before falling into a tear-stained, square-eyed coma for up to twelve hours. Sounds pretty fun right? Well, now you can join in with me as I show off a bunch of music videos that are pretty great. The theme for this segment is ‘awesome’, and there’s the stream of thought that goes from rock n roll party soundtrack, down to the more introspective, and back up to some dastardly thumpers.

The Creeping Ivies-What Would Joey Ramone Do?

The Creeping Ivies are from Scotland, which is why its so damn weird that they sound like an inverted version of The Gooch Palms. Stand up snare? Check! Addictive, amateur guitar? Check! Snarled, simple and badass lyrics? Check, check, check!

Their brand of garage punk is a well-worn path, but The Creeping Ivies do it so damn well, and with such passion, that its better to let it go, and enjoy the flogging of brain cells and encapsulation of awesome that is The Creeping Ivies.

For the film clip, a bunch of old timers in exasperation get all up in arms at the question every punk has asked themselves: WWJRD. Would Joey Ramone piss on that business man minding his own business in the street below? Would Joey Ramone eat four-week old garlic bread? Would Joey Ramone go that Creeping Ivies show at [insert decrepit junkie shit-hole of a punk rock bar here]? Of course he would, he’s Joey fucking Ramone, and you should dare to follow in the footsteps of one of the greatest frontmen in history.

Popstrangers-Rats in the Palm Trees

The video for Popstrangers latest single has arrived, and as expected its as flourishing and hazy as their music. Popstrangers became well-known for their unique brand of fuzz that isn’t quite surf, isn’t quite noise and isn’t dream-pop. Instead, they threw out the rule book and combined all that shit for some gloriously good times. Their track ‘Rats in the Palm Trees’ is more catchy than a case of crabs at a Venereal Disease Convention. As for the clip, you can expect some gorgeous shots that you probably won’t be able to pull your eye away from. In fact, you’ll probably get straight up immersed. Yeah, I went there.

Alex Cameron-Happy Ending

Alex Cameron’s ‘Jumping the Shark’ is the Album of the Week, and hot on the heels of the release comes the video for one of the eight amazing songs on that album. Like the song itself, the video is orgasmically 80’s. Basically, if Kevin Bacon from Footloose became a nervous-wreck, he’d probably turn into the character portrayed in the ‘Happy Ending’ clip. But, true to its title, there’s a happy ending for the protagonist after all, as he shuffles his way to purple-tinted, smoky ecstasy.

Buzz Kull-Bedroom Highs

Finally, someone that agrees with me that sunshine is for freaks! The haphazard, Frankenstein-monster of New Order x The Cure that is Buzz Kull’s new video clip shows a distorted view of what will happen if you lay on a tanning bed for too long. A wheel of colour constantly flickering in the video’s spectrum, and drunken double-images will fuck with the viewer to no end. If this was the latest video clip for Kings of Leon or something, it’d be the final nail in the coffin. But for a doomy, melancholic track from a band at the forefront of the new noise scene, (graduates include The KVB and The Soft Moon) well, it couldn’t be more perfect.

Touch Sensitive & Ego-#VJuke

Look, I’m not even 100% sure what’s going on here, but I’ll try to translate to the best of my ability. I think  Touch Sensitive (‘Pizza Guy’) and the visual artist Ego teamed up to create a track based off of submissions from Instagram, all sourced from the hashtag #VJuke. Truly, a sign of our times. But all doubters must be cast aside, as this video is a testament of what can be created once a moustachioed wonder tells you to do it. The product in question is the extremely groovy and danceable ‘#VJuke’, a track that buzzes like a bee on cocaine. As for the video, well, its an audio-visual sensory experience. Who knew that a bunch of morphing, multi-coloured shapes could be so transfixing?

Wave Racer-Rock U Tonite

Finally, one of the most promising up and comers on the Australian dance music scene, its Wave Racer’s official clip for ‘Rock U Tonite’. A ball-busting, hip-thrusting, nail-biter of a track if you’ve ever heard one, ‘Rock U Tonite’ throws its weight around to an extraordinary degree. Basically, you can’t help but dance to this track. And when combined with the disturbing acid-dream regurgitation that is the video clip, the song has already become a staple in your mind. Those trickling beats combined with the pulsating, vibrant nightmare of a video? Too fucking good.

New: TEEN-Big Talk

Sure, ‘Big Talk’ isn’t as ridiculously amazing as TEEN’s previous singles ‘Better’ and ‘Electric’, but that’s a bit of an unfair comparison. Those songs were going straight to the top of the indie-head’s head. ‘Big Talk’ is still deliciously fantastic, wrapped in those signature layers of fuzzy guitar and pixie-stepping keys. And the vocals of Teeny Lieberson are still of the top-notch floating and mesmerising nature that the previous singles warranted. Overall, amazing song that most will be able to get right into.

Video: GRMLN-Teenage Rhythm

Equally great video and song from California’s GRMLN. ‘Teenage Rhythm’ might be a fun and exuberant riot, but it’s video is a time lapse. Ever wondered what Gandalf getting laid, or Dumbeldore ripping a bong would look like? Check out this clip. It’s original and funny in a world where that is incredibly rare.