VOLUMES FESTIVAL MIXTAPE

VOLUMES Festival – it’s next week mate. In approximately 10 days, this festival is gonna take over Oxford Street. Brighton Up Bar, Cliff Dive, Oxford Art Factory – combined into one sprawling pit of music. 50 metre radius. Unlimited good times.

There’s a shit tonne of bands playing this festival, but here’s the ones where you’ll see me bopping my strange-looking head at:

Jack Ladder & the Dreamlanders:

Four albums in, the man is still a sensual machine. Six feet tall, and all of that brimming with sorrow. A baritone that flattens cities. Backed by Donny Benet, Laurence Pike of PVT, and Kirin J Callinan. Dream team.

Blank Realm:

Hands down, the most underrated band in Australia. Everyone that knows them loves them, but that number is nowhere near high enough. That’s gonna change – they’ve got their album ‘Illegals in Heaven’ coming out September 4th, and the first two singles are some of the saddest blasts of pop music unveiled since Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream”.

Big White: 

Pop music made by university students for university students. Actually, the songs are for anyone with a beating heart. Jangly guitars soaked in glossy keys and lovesickness. Their song “You Know I Love You” would probably cheer up even Old Gill! It’s gonna be great.

Zeahorse:

Bone-snapping music, Zeahorse play shows pretty rarely these days. When they do venture to a stage, skulls are cracked. Their debut album ‘Pool’ was a dirty adrenaline shot of sludge pushed to the edge, and they’ve been working on some new stuff for a while now, which looks like it’s going to punish eardrums even more.

Step-Panther:

South Coast shredders venturing to the city again to open up our smoke-clogged pores. Watching Step-Panther do their thing is always an enormous pleasure; big riffs collide with self-deprecation for splintered rock ‘n’ roll delirium.

Holy Balm:

There’s a fair few electronic acts gracing the VOLUMES lineup, but Holy Balm are essential. This band is so fucking cool and weird. Not only is their music a concoction of left field electronic absurdity, but it all just unfolds fantastically live. You definitely need to see them.

FLOWERTRUCK:

Best new-ish band in Sydney – every show is better than the last, and they’ve just unleashed their new single “Sunshower”, which has been getting flogged on my iTunes Library. Their live shows are bonafide mirth-inducers, wherein their guitar pop music infects even the most unsavoury of individuals.

Day Ravies:

Sydney’s own band without a genre, Day Ravies are unclassifiable, only consistent in their ability to put out mesmerising music. Their new album, ‘Liminal Zones’, is a fluid pop affair that fluidly flits between whatever style happens to tickle the band’s fancy. The only guarantee is that it’ll be good.

Low Lux: 

Low Lux are pretty new, but managed to put on an absolutely incredible debut show. It was cinematic…epic…ambitious. Definetely an act to familiarise yourself with and witness, before they’re playing rooms that are suited to their grandiose stage shows.

Death Bells:

Another fairly new band who only have one single, but have impressed a hell of a lot of folks for that small amount of material. They’ve got a brand of dream-pop that has daggers in it, swirling with flashes of derangement. Live, they turn up the snarls and bellows to lung-puncturing levels. Get down early and catch ’em.

VOLUMES goes down 29th of August, in Sydney. Catch a plane, catch a train, I don’t give a shit, just be there. You can grab tickets to VOLUMES here.

Advertisements

Album Review: Day Ravies – Liminal Zones

Day Ravies have been busier this year than Tony Abbott’s publicist. Fresh from releasing a cassette EP on the new label Strange Pursuits, and a 7″ laaate last year, the band with an affinity for Kinks puns have finally released their follow-up to 2013’s ‘Tussle’. And as expected, it’s a weird, askewed take on pop that unveils yet another dimension to Sydney’s finest.

To fully appreciate Day Ravies and their encompassing knowledge of all things noise-related, you’ve gotta take a look at their side-projects. Mope City, Shrapnel, Disgusting People, and stints in Weak Boys, The Cathys, Beef Jerk are among a select few of the guises you can catch members performing under. They’re in high bloody demand is what I’m trying to say, and no genre is inescapable from the hands of Lani, Sam, Nev and Caro.

Whilst their previous record ‘Tussle’ was mostly concerned with sidling alongside shoegaze and twilight shades of pop, the band feel invigorated on ‘Liminal Zones’. There’s a thrust and excitement behind the songs, naive, open-eyed wonder that froths beneath the surface. There’s a bubbling intoxication that oozes into the songs here, and each track buzzes with the sound of a band that’s been inspired.

Well, of course they’re inspired Ryan, ya fuckwit – they’ve released more material in the last twelve months than most bands release in their careers. IS IT ANY FUCKING GOOD? Well, have you checked out their previous singles? The lead up to ‘Liminal Zones’ has seen cuts like “Fake Beach”, “This Side of the Fence” and the former Shrapnel tune “Hickford Whizz”, which has been reinvigorated and Day Ravies-ified. i.e a whole bunch of noise has been smacked down on top. All three point to very different, but all fantastic, factions of the Day Ravies camp. “Fake Beach” sighs and huffs in equal measures, an existential crisis kept whirring in a bottle, whilst the latter two bristle with a bit more oomph than is expected from a usually delicate band.

But the singles are more of an indication of the album as a package – Day Ravies twist through genres like Natalie Portman twists through mental anguish in Black Swan. They’ll spearhead delightful noise with pixie-dust sprinkled pop on “Halfway Up a Hill”, queue up the jangle buttons and sloshy feedback on “Pulse Check”, and lay down strident alternative rock on “Couple Days”. This consistently stirred genre pot makes the whole process feel like eating skewered kebab blindfolded. You never know what you’re going to get, or what flavours will jump out in the next bite. Roasted capsicum and tender beef? Grilled onions and a slice of chicken? WHO THE FUCK KNOWS!

Unpredictability is key to Day Ravies’ sound on ‘Liminal Zones’, but rather than encourage uncertainty, it gives the whole album a flavour than can be sorely missed in other shoegaze/pop releases. Also, the band are having too much fun, and are so assured in each song. They’ve never sounded more confident, and that rubs into whomever happens to be wearing the headphones at the time.

‘Liminal Zones’ is out now on Sonic Masala/Strange Pursuits, pick it up here. Day Ravies are gonna be playing a few shows pretty soon as well: 24th of July in Manly, 21st of August w/ Wireheads, Weak Boys and Thigh Master, VOLUMES Festival on the 29th , and an album launch on November 9th at the Roxbury in Glebe

New: Day Ravies – Fake Beach

Sydney’s Day Ravies return with some whirring pop that will blast through your skull faster than some of those War Boys can chase down renegade wives. If you don’t get that reference, go and watch Mad Max. I mean, Jesus that movie’s been out for over a week, could you have dropped the ball any harder?

If you don’t have the opportunity to watch the best movie of 2015, then just hunker down with this gem. There’s a lot to digest in the mere two minutes that Day Ravies ahve given us, a slow-build that starts off relatively simple, and ends in an ecstatic marriage of sounds. Buzzing keys, thumping bass, and askew guitar that prods and pushes through the clamour like a blind but ambitious echidna burrows itself out from underneath the dirt.

New: Day Ravies – Under the Lamp EP

Is there anything sweeter in the world than hearing new Day Ravies stuff? Like, anything at all? I’d rather get new Day Ravies stuff in my earholes than get a signed cast photo of Fast and the Furious7. You know how much that photo would be? Like, heaps. Heapz!

Day Ravies is four people from Sydney that have record collections as vast as their talent to make fucking good songs. They put out a record in 2013 that was pretty top notch, as well as a 7″ on France’s Beko Disques, home to Parading, Wizard Oz, and PILLS. But now it’s Sam’s time to shine! Sam Wilkinson, aka that dude that you’ll see at every show in Sydney (usually sporting a Cool Sounds T-shirt) has taken time away from working in all of his bands (Shrapnel, King Tears Mortuary, Mope City, Beef Jerk, Disgusting People, etc.) to help record and release four songs of pop brilliance onto his cassette label Strange Pursuits.

No seriously, these four tracks stand up there with the best that Day Ravies have done. It’s a particularly strong EP; diverse, but still packed. It opens with “Sleepwalk”, a buzzing, Slowdive-meets-K Records twee aesthetic, tumultuous onslaughts of chugging guitar battered down with ethereal intertwining vocals and synths.

Move onto “Under the Lamp”, and nod along to careening guitars soar for minutes on end, then head into “Perennial”, which is the Jesus And Mary Chain trying to mimic the pop sensibilities of The Psychedelic Furs, done in a way that makes you forget that both bands have been around for longer than Day Ravies have been alive. Then ooze into “Prior Hour”, a jam that’s like if PJ Harvey had gotten into Ride instead of Steve Albini.

Going through this EP is a blur of wonder, and then it strikes you that these songs were recorded in the sessions for the upcoming sophomore album from Day Ravies. I’ve been assured that this material was stuff that just couldn’t make it onto the album, but by the same token….holy shit, there’s more were this came from???

Do yourself a favour, and pick up a freakin’ cassette from the Strange Pursuits Bandcamp. And come to the Day Ravies show on the 28th at the Union Hotel. Weak Boys and Bearhug are also playing and it’s free. Jesus Christ, do you need any more convincing?

New: Day Ravies – Hickford Whizz

Fuck me! Because releasing one awesome single just a few weeks ago wasn’t enough, old mates Day Ravies have come back with another great, albeit very different single. Whereas “This Side of the Fence” was all about being as pop as possible, “Hickford Whizz” incarcerates thrashing garage rock with whirring synth patterns, and then forces them to fight in prison yard, no rules. Shanks, baby, we’re talking shanks. There’s heavy bass lines that rivet the thing in place, no matter how hard those synths sprocket out of place. It’s like a kid with ADD who just loves themselves some gorgeous, fun-soaked melodies.

Album Review: Disgusting People – Disgusting People

Disgusting People are a bunch of bloody charmers, comprised of some of the best talent that Sydney-town has got on offer. You’ve got members of Weak Boys, Day Ravies, Mope City, Nathan Roche and a couple other bands you’ve probably caught a woff of at some point or another. However, just because they can charm you harder than George Clooney hopped up on some horny goat weed, doesn’t mean that they’re not prone to the same primitive impulses that bind you and I to this mortal coil. If these legends of the West want to strap together a few scrappy songs on a four-track and deliver them to our undeserving ears, then so be it.

First and foremost, this is an album that needs to be listened to on cassette. Now, whilst that might come off as some crass hipster-ism, it’s a genuine nod. The buzzing and whirring, the hiss and delvings into random noise make it the perfect thing you want to chuck it on a format that hasn’t been wildly popular since Motley Crue could still sell records.

Anyway, the record is pretty much a loose collection of previously released stuff (“Make You Happy”, “Snail Song”, “2×4”) and new just-as-irreverent tunes. It’s obvious that all members here have contributed songs, as the album swings wildly in all directions, from loose, fuzzy and frantic “Third Wheel”, to introspective hula-meets-depression jams, cc: “Between Mothering and Murdering”.

Whatever you could want in a song, Disgusting People have you covered, a buffet of pop on offer. There’s also a certain order to the randomness. The album begins with bouncy mope-pop tracks, slacker guitar lines wafting lazily next to tracks that make you want to clap your hands in stupid joy (“Snail Song”, Between Mothering and Murdering”, “Make You Happy”). Then things turn a lil’ rockier, with “Third Wheel” sounding like someone spilled an unfinished MC5 record into the mixing desk. I maintain that  “I Wanna Ctrl Delete My Life” is one of the finest songs released this year, and short, snappy song that goes out to all the office squares who wanna rip off their loose-fitting shirts and scream an AC/DC song.

Then things get super fucking weird.There’s the Tim and Eric sketches that the world’s funniest duo forgot to put into their show, in “Cat Song”, “Candy” and “T-GAS”, high pitched homages to all out weirdness. The 19-track opus finishes with a few tracks, including a Yo La Tengo-esque reprise to standout track “2×4”.

Basically, Disgusting People didn’t try too hard on this album. There was no label meddling, no pressure, no harsh times infecting the performances of the band members. It’s just off-kilter pop music played by mates, for mates, and it resounds with a weird and wonderful tang that permeates throughout. The exploitation of the strange is strong on this one, a perfectly preserved encapsulation of the fucked up shit you do when it’s just a few mates. If you’re the kind of person that thinks that SPOD should’ve started a jangle-pop band, then this album is for you. If you’re the kind of person who likes Beavis and Butthead, and wished they’d made an Australian version, this album is for you. And if you’re the kind of person that wished Clive Palmer had a reality TV show, you’d probably enjoy this album as well. And if you’re not that kind of person, I hear Alt-J have a new record out. So, yeah, enjoy that.

Highly recommend picking up this in physical format, which you can do right here, at Strong Look Records Bandcamp. Also, catch Disgusting People launching the album THIS THURSDAY (30 November) at The Mess Up, at the Lansdowne Hotel. Entry is free, and King Tears Mortuary and Carpet are coming along for support.

New: Day Ravies – This Side of the Fence

The excellent Day Ravies have been in a little bit of hibernation since the release of their fantastic debut LP last year, thanks to some globe-trotting, side-projects and knee trouble, but they’re back! Which means I can put down my food experiments (Vegemite and mint icecream will have to wait) and hear the shit out of their newest trophy.

Clocking in at just a minute, 40 seconds (that’s like fucking lightspeed for a band that uses delays), the song is jam packed, skinned to just bare minimum Day Ravies awesomeness. Day Ravies are doing franticly happy pixie-synths being slammed into a combination of Kevin Shields doing a damn good impression of a Joy Division song. Chuck that on ya resume.

After what feels like way too long of an absence, Day Ravies have jumped back into our existence. At a time when Barry O’Farrell is taking credit for the loss of Sydney’s culture , having a great band like Day Ravies release good music again is soul-relieving.

Day Ravies play a free (!!!) show at the Lansdowne this Friday, with support from Circular Keys, Bare Grillz, and Point Being. Think about it? Sweet, see ya there.

Mixtape: Oz Do It Better!

 

Fuck me with a spatula, and call me Gordon Ramse! There is no way anyone will be able to beat the eye-popping names on the latest mixtape from Peking Tapes.

Let me lay it out for you like this: Do you like Parading? Or Day Ravies? Or Shrapnel? Or Cat Cat? Or Wizard Oz? Or…fuck me, every name on this compilation is like Aus underground royalty, and every second you waste reading this is a second that could be spent buying this tape.

But if you insist on getting the blow-byblow, let’s start at the top: Andre begins things with a squelchy guitar romper called ‘Single Town’, and then Parading double down on that crunchy reverb with an exclusive single entitled ‘Try to Do A Good Thing’. From there, it’s one of my favourites off Shrapnel’s debut, a cool pop song called ‘Baby Picks Up’, followed by a jangly one from Cat Cat that manages to be both sad and relieved at the same time, the perfect song for when you’ve got your back turned on something.

Mac DeMarco on crack gets channeled excessively in the track, ‘You Were Mine’, from Colours, as lazy guitar mingles with clashing noise. The middle of this is a brilliant mind-fuck, moving between twinkling emptiness and a feeding frenzy of feedback. Day Ravies continue down this road of overblown noise in their contribution ‘Drink the Ocean’, a track that starts quaint and Pavement-esque, and then bombards the listener with squirming noise towards the end.

Wizard Oz dilute the waters with a frowning track called ‘Go Home’, a song swarming with warm synth work and lyrics that are more desperate than the Socceroos attempts at a World Cup.

Now, after a mixture of noisy and down-tempo tracks, Australia’s garage/slacker scene gets a chance to shine, with contributions from Cool Sounds, The Ocean Party, Thigh Master, Disgusting People and The Grease Arrestor. Each of these songs is warmer than a dole cheque, and they’ve got more heart than those lab-rats with organs grown on them.

The best mixtape ever ends with two amazing pop tunes from Snowy Nasdaq and Moondice, both providing tracks that could easily fit into the ‘Sexy Time’ playlist (that you’ve never used before).

To summarise, the title of this playlist doesn’t even remotely do the contents justice. Oz does music so good, they should outlaw other countries music, and just have this playlist on repeat globally. The songs on here are more or less the pinnacle of human achievement. Sure, there may be a bit of gratuitous hyperbole in that last statement, but until the other continents catch up and release a mixtape as good as this, then Australia wins the award for best underground music in the world. Take that, Brooklyn!

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.

Video: Shrapnel-Tobacco Dream

No one could ever accuse Sam Wilkinson of being a bad guy. Ever. Besides being nicer than Glinda the Good Witch handing out free puppies, he’s a pretty key ingredient of drop-dead gorgeous bands like Day Ravies, Mope City, Beef Jerk, King Tears Mortuary. Not to mention this lovely new solo project he’s cooked up by the name of Shrapnel, a dirty little pop scene of its own.

Well, everything you know is about to change. This scumbag, this…this genocidal maniac murdered over 1,000 matches for the making of his new clip! Butchered those things senseless, slaughtered them into a scale of the quadruple digits! What a monster! What a maniac! Who is letting this guy create such amazing music and senselessly violent videos? He probably gave that gooey Playdough monster lung cancer as well.

Shit, if ‘Tobacco Dream’ wasn’t such a good song, I’d have to carry out some vigilante justice. I’m not the hero that Sydney deserves, but the one it needs.