Volumes 2016 Mixtape

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Last year, Sydney got a huge leg up in the form of Volumes Festival, a multi-venue event that put a spotlight on all the fan-fucking-tastic music we get to call our own in this city, as well as a 11/10 show from Blank Realm. Even the piece of shit writing this sentence had a pretty good time!

Which is why I’m really happy that Volumes will be returning for another year! Not only have the team expanded to include an extra day and the Burdekin Hotel amongst last year’s venue collective of The Oxford Art Factory, Brighton Up Bar and Cliff Dive, but they’ve delivered a lineup that forces even a chode like myself to concede a gasp of “Wow…”.

The full lineup and tickets can be scored here, but if ya want a pick of the best of the bunch, read on below:

BV

Formerly known as Black Vanilla, the Friday night headliners will be bringing their ferociously dark party to Volumes for a night of hedonism. In their own words: “No once cares how well you move, so just move”.

FISHING

The last time I saw FISHING, they rapped in French, and then brought up the Al Wright from Cloud Control for a song that sounded like the spiritual successor to Underworld’s “Born Slippy”. I don’t know how the hell they’ll be able to top that, but after months away, honing new material, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that FISHING’s return to the stage will see a truly crazy performance.

Rainbow Chan

Rainbow Chan is definitely the best thing in electronic music right now. Every time I see, hear or even think about her music, the words “jilted pop perfection” brand themselves into my brain. Her debut album will be out by the time she hits the stage for the first night of Volumes, so make sure you get a good spot early, because you’ll be one of the thousands clamouring to catch the biggest sensation of 2016.

Donny Benet

It’s been far too long since the ripple of Donny’s smooth and sensual touch has been felt. The sophisticated lover will be sparing no expense on the Saturday night, enrapturing all those who dare to feel the heat. Fuck, I’m licking my lips just thinking about this.

Unity Floors

I’ll take any excuse to belt out “Nice Fit” and all the other classic hits these guys have made over the years. UF’s second album Life Admin should be out by the time Volumes hits, so there’s plenty of time to learn the lyrics to all the new classics as well.

Rolling Blackouts CF

Someone once called Rolling Blackouts CF “…the best band ever…”, and that someone is me.

Scott and Charlene’s Wedding

Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, the third best Neighbours-themed band from Melbourne, hardly make the trek to Sydney anymore, so any opportunity to see them should not be missed. Besides all the classics like “Rejected”, “Lesbian Wife” and “Jackie Boy”, they also do a killer cover of the Go-Betweens’ “Karen”, so make sure you’re front and centre when they tear Brighton Up Bar a new one.

The Harpoons

I’ve sorely missed The Harpoons’ R&B-tinged synth pop – it’s lip-biting, misty eyed stuff, and I’m filled with anticipation at the mere thought of swaying along with hundreds of others to “Unforgettable”.

Summer Flake

Summer Flake’s Hello Friends has been my ‘Album of the Week’ for the past three months – I’m a lazy shit who keeps forgetting to update that section of the website, but there’s also a hint of truth to my mistake. Summer Flake’s disarming honesty, golden guitar and harrowing voice makes her the perfect recipient of such a prestigious award. Can’t wait to catch Steph Crase and co. when they swing through Sydney again!

 

Volumes 2016 takes place on Friday the 25th and Saturday the 26th of August, all up and down Oxford St. Once again, tix and full lineup here.

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Gig Review: At First Sight Festival

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What kind of world do we live in that some fucking ginger kid with the social etiquette of Todd Carney on a handful of pingas can make out with a copy of Slayer’s Show No Mercy AND boogie to NO ZU in the space of a single day> It’s a truly  barbaric thought, and it’s one that came true just a few days ago. At First Sight Festival, curated by Marty Doyle of Dusty Fingers fame, happened over the weekend, and it was a truly glorious time for all involved.

Full disclosure – I was involved in some aspects of this festival, but not anything that could be considered important. Nope, Count Doyle did it all, from booking an incredible lineup which somehow deviated from the usual Tkay Maidza/Hilltop Hoods/Sticky Fingers combination, to the promotion, scheduling, and other organisational duties that no sane person should be willing to take on. Instead, I was tasked with trapping a member of Blank Realm in a car, and chewing his ear off for hours on end. It did mean missing the early portion of the festival, but according to multiple eye-witnesses, Rolling Blackouts and Royal Sitars were best on ground.

The first moments of At First Sight that were seared into my eyeballs belong to the explosive set of Palms. Seriously, if you haven’t listened to their new album Crazy Rack, then fuck off and do so. There’s no reason to continue reading, just plug yourself into this masterpiece for the next half hour and only return when you’re finished. Done? Fucking hell, so you’ve come to the realisation that these Palms dudes would sound alright blaring out from a fuck-off, huge mountain of speakers, yeah? Because that’s what happened; Palms ploughed through all the hits from their two records to date, smashing “This Last Year”, “Love”, “Bad Apple”, and “Beatdown” with the kind of howling ferocity that forces you to lift a fist (IF NOT BOTH) in the air with mashing glee.

TEESNicholas Allbrook and Lucy Cliche all swiftly followed with impressive sets. TEES provided a dreamy set that showcases that their dreamy pop material works just as gorgeously on a stage as it does in .mp3 form, and Nicholas Allbrook brought the weirdness in leaps and bounds. Literally, the man cannot stay still – although his set suffered from such sporadicalness, shifting manically and at an unpredictable whim, the POND frontman remained enjoyable. Lucy Cliche was a bevy of intensity, her thudding, sharp dance music transforming a small bunker at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon into a thriving hive of hungry gazes and shuffling feet. Do yourself a favour, and make yourself as familiar as possible with her work.

This next passage might seem hyperbolic, but it’s not. If anything, whatever words I type next will be under-representative of the insanity that is NO ZU. An eight piece hydra indebted to raising the heat of a room by several degrees, the Melbourne collective had pulses racing at an unhealthy rate. Folks should have been having heart attacks from all the exercise that was going down, but sheer joy and anticipation for what NO ZU would pull out next forced them to party on. They remain to be one of the funnest, strangest, most exotic things on this planet, a laboratory of thrilling genres mashed into a sweaty dance-floor filling experience. Forget heroin, NO ZU are the most addictive substances on the planet.

Still reeling from NO ZU, Nun continued the legacy of Melbourne acts putting on exhilarating performances. A member was wearing a Gutter Gods t-shirt and that wasn’t even the most punk thing on stage. Front woman Jenny Branagan is fucking mental to watch. She is the greatest thing to happen to a stage since our prayers were answered and Dave Growl fell off of one. She jumps, dives, sprawls, screams, thrashes and delivers shriek after shriek, her band’s domineering wall of synth punk throwing jabs from behind her. Incredible – if you haven’t picked up their debut album then fix this gaping mistake in your life with a little bit of this.

Following Nun are Brissy’s Blank Realm, who have been awarded the very prestigious honour of “BEST FARKIN BAND IN AUSTRALIA”. They get this award because they a) wear Pere Ubu t-shirts, b) rock keytars like Duran Duran didn’t fuck it up for everyone, c) are possibly the best songwriters in the country and d) because fuck, have you heard Blank Realm before? They’re amazing! Of course they rule live, how could they not? When you’re a band that owns a cache of tunes like “River of Longing”, “Falling Down the Stairs”, “Reach You on the Phone” and “Go Easy”, it’s hard to be anything less than “BEST FARKIN BAND IN AUSTRALIA”.

Previous duties withheld experiencing My Disco, Broadway Sounds, and most of Andras’ set, but hey, we all know these acts are national treasures, so build a Spotify playlist, and get over it, y’know? Let’s move onto Oscar Key Sung: draped in cloth, the man is pure beauty constructed around eyes of steel and a voice of cotton. His beats switch from lush and textured to the occasional pummel, however, it did feel like he could have benefitted from someone else onstage to help him. It’s hard to fully enjoy a crooner like Key Sung, who is so concentrated on flipping between production, singing and entertaining. He worked best when he was joined by Amrita, who danced their way into all of our adoring hearts, and freed Key Sung up into a party mode.

Moving onward to Total Giovanni – now they’re a band that could give Blank Realm a run for their money. The tagline for this band is “Fun. Incarnate”. With enough energy to power the LargeHadron Collider,  Total Giovanni are Italo-disco superstars, bestowers of the silky sensual. This is a group with only a handful of singles to their name, but every single beating heart in the cavern of Carriageworks was thumping along meticulously to the party that Total Giovanni were delivering. What was the greatest moment? “When We Break” churning a few hundred people into  a sea of flailing bodies? The over-the-top, pelvis-shattering thrusts that took place during “Human Animal? Or the batshit crazy cover of Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s “Precious Rose”? Trying to decide the answer to that question is aneurysm-inducing.

By some miracle, the best moment of At First Sight didn’t belong to any one of the bands mentioned above, but rather, a combination of them via Uncle Donny’s Rotating Sideshow of Stellar Performance aka the Donny Benet Showband’s Tribute to Nile Rodgers. Bringing out all the day’s superstars, including Becky Sui Zhen and Daphne Camf of NO ZU, Oscar Key Sung and Vachel Spirason of Total Giovanni, Donny and co. re-introduced some of the past century’s biggest hits, resulting in an all-out dance bloodbath. The sea was angry that day, my friends. Oh, it was an angry mosh of people screaming, “OH FUCK, I LOVE THIS SONG!” as DB and his merry band played the best version of “Original Sin” since Hutcho called it quits. Special mention goes to Nicholas Allbrook for a very special performance of Mick Jagger’s “Just Another Night”, and in turn, transforming a so-bad-it’s-good song into something so-good-it’s-brilliant.

It’s worth reminding everyone that, whilst all of this amazing music was happening, people were record shopping. Two of the greatest habits, combined into one day! How can someone like me be lucky enough to get The Saint’s I’m (Stranded) and get the opportunity to witness a one-of-a-kind musical experience courtesy of Donny? It cannot be overstated how much of a miracle it is that all of this could happen under one roof: the bands of tomorrow shredding minds and expectations to tatters mere metres away from where some of the most important records are being sold. That’s the dream, ladies and gentlemen. That’s the fucking dream. See you at Carriageworks next year.

Video: Donny Benet & Kirin J Callinan – The Edge

Y’all ready to be bent over by genius, and raw dogged with joy? The highlight from Donny Benet’s ‘Weekend At Donny’s’ has arrived with audio-visual accompaniment, and the result is about as fantastic as anyone could hope for. The Don stands as a sentinel, albeit one adorned in a salmon suit, and surrounded by a trusty Roland and a moustache that would make Tom Selleck bite his lip.

But Kirin is the real star, a figure impossible to look away from. Half-Michael Jackson, half-Prince, half-creepy uncle who was really into Duran Duran, Kirin is an improper fraction of lust and action. Building towards a crescendo of nudity and thrusting drum pads, the video for “The Edge” is essential to your day.

Top 20 Australian Songs of 2014

It’s that time of year, when I sell my soul, and conform to the expectation that all blogs, no matter how small and shitty (of which Soundly Sounds is both) needs to compile an end of year list, summarising all the great things that have been accomplished by the fair artists of the year. Now, if you’ve ever been on this blog, or heard words out of my mouth, it becomes apparent that I have a habit of hyperbole, and describing everything as “my favourite” or “the best thing ever”. Well, now it’s time to pay up, and show what I, King Deadshit, reckons is the best of the best this year.

Fuck, this shit is really hard. One of the hardest things I’ve had to do. As opposed to the Best Videos of the Year, and the Best International Records,  this list has taken me days to put together, as I’ve been more indecisive than a newspaper editor trying to decided the front page between a story in which David Beckham and Ryan Gosling have constructed the world’s most beautiful baby, or an exclusive interview with Clive Palmer’s fourth chin. A toughie, that’s for sure.

Anyway, here are the picks of the year – Aussie songs that have made people turn their heads, jaws drop in astonishment, and allow for spines to be frozen over in fascinated horror. The list was torturing me, so it’s been lengthened to 20. Also, songs that were just released as singles got preference over stuff that was on albums, simply because those are coming in the next list! OH FUCK, CAN YOU EVEN WAIT THAT LONG, OR ARE YOU GOING TO CRYOGENICALLY FREEZE YOURSELF UNTIL IT COMES OUT, WALT DISNEY STYLE?

Honourable Mentions: Step-Panther (Parallel) Solid Dad (Kewl December), Jack Ladder (Her Hands), Andras & Oscar (Looking Back), Babaganouj (Bluff), Disgusting People (I Wanna Ctrl Alt Delete My Life), The Stevens (Thirsty Eye), GL (Won’t You See), Wives (Buried), Day Ravies (Hickford Whiz) Dead Set Ledger (Buddy’s Kickin’ Screwies on the SCG).

20. Miss Destiny – The One

A lambasting surge of sound from Melbourne’s Miss Destiny, this song is like Courtney Love being thrown in a blender whilst The Donnas and The Darkness throw down.

19. White Hex – Paradise

White Hex released a badass synth record earlier this year, ‘Gold Nights’. Dangerous seduction was the game, the kind that Michael Douglas would engage in, and White Hex won. Jimi Kritzler, former Slug Guts member, also released a fantastic book this year, “Noise In My Head”, but “Paradise” makes a case for being Kritzler’s no. 1 achievement of 2014.

18. Bachelor Pad – Fried

Bachelor Pad’s garage rock enthusiasm is irrepressible – it is actually impossible to stop them. Sounding like the bratty, cone-smoking kid of Ty Segall, “Fried” is as infectious as those warts that have started collecting themselves between your legs.

17. Postblue – Ugly

Poison City Records had a fuckn’ year didn’t they? Between the release of The Smith Street Band, The Bennies and re-releasing old Screamfeeder records, they found time for Postblue’s “Ugly”. On a record that’s full of affable, catchy rock tunes, Postblue especially stuck out on “Ugly”, an early Jebediah track that went through the digestive system of Steve Albini.

16. Total Giovanni – Human Animal

“Human Animal” makes me do weird things with my arms, but I like it.The bastard child between Daft Punk and LCD Soundsystem, Total Giovanni have a feverish cult of personality surrounding their music. It’s alluring, funky-as-swinging-leather-pants music that PT Anderson wished was around for the soundtrack of ‘Boogie Nights’.

15. Nun – Evoke the Sleep

Easily the most ferocious synth-punk released this year, Melbourne’s Nun provided a storming debut LP earlier this year. “Evoke the Sleep” makes the case for these guys to be considered amongst the likes of DEVO and Depeche Mode.

14. Old Mate – Requesting Permission

On the more heart-breaking end of the scale, there’s Old Mate. A member of Bitch Prefect, Pat Telfer’s “Requesting Permission” will make you start jabbering about all the random dust that’s flown in within the last 30 seconds.

13. Hockey Dad – I Need A Woman

South Coast-muzzas Hockey Dad provide a slab of feel-good surf rock that’s lathered affectionately in pop and fuzz, drives school-girls crazy, and is really fucking great. Hockey Dad just need to stop wearing their damn trousers so low, and they’ll be well on their way to success.

12. Dorsal Fins – Monday Tuesday

Pop music so good Madonna would want to rip it off. Beginning with urgent piano and stomping bass, Dorsal Fins turn things into up a dramatic notch for an 80’s singalong straight from the stolen brain of Debbie Harry.

11. Bad//Dreems – Dumb Ideas 

When the opening notes of “Dumb Ideas” ring out, it becomes fairly obvious that Bad//Dreems are going to provide another stomper of a track. A flippant flipping off, “Dumb Ideas” is a confident, surly piece of rock that Angus Young would want to call his own.

10. Liam Kenny – I’m The Ocean 

Fairs fair, when you’re covering Neil Young, you’re headed straight to the top of a best-of list. But when Liam Kenny (Peak Twins, Bitch Prefect, The Friendsters, Roamin’ Catholics) does it, it turns into a squalling guitars, and heart-clutched vocals.

9. Tempura Nights – R.I.P Chix

Brisbane’s on a roll right now, with Velociraptor, DZ Deathrays, Babaganouj and Major Leagues all kicking major goals this year with releases and singles. But Tempura Nights, a lil’ suprgroup, kicked the most amount of ass with “R.I.P Chix” a sweet garage sprinkled with Deal sister guitar and the kind of head noddin’ you’d expect from a Brissy pop band.

8. Peter Bibby – Hates My Boozin’

Peter Bibby is a moper amongst mopers, a bloke who paints his own portrait with a bottle constantly in one hand and an impossibly perfect rolled cigarette in the other, carefree and full of whimsy on the outside, but burning up within.

7. King Single – Restart Newstart Allowance

A certain Bare Grillz/Lenin Lennon member changed things up by providing gorgeous guitar-pop and glassy drum sounds that create only one reaction in all within earshot: *SWOON*.

6. Richard In Your Mind – Hammered

Richard In Your Mind say it best when they swing drunkenly upon the line “Me and my baby get hammered in the daytime”. From their latest record ‘Ponderosa’, it’s a honeyed trip into the tastily warped senses of Richard In Your Mind.

5. The Harpoons – Unforgettable

As far as breaking up goes, no one seems to have hit it on the head harder than The Harpoons. What a bunch of sultry crooners! It’s a jam that’s part Caribou, part TLC, and part doe-eyed wistfulness that feeds upon your heart like a piranha of romantic longing.

4. FLOWERTRUCK – I Wanna Be With You

Speaking of romantic longing, the best band that seemingly came out of nowhere was FLOWERTRUCK. Bursting forth from the same scene that’s brought Big White, High-tails, and New Lovers, FLOWERTRUCK make the descriptor ‘infectious’ cower in fear. They’re Sydney’s own version of Blank Realm. If David Byrne and Bryan Ferry exploded into fit of joyous crooning, amid slashing puffs of synth and guitar, it’d be about as great as this.

3. Donny Benet – The Edge. Feat Kirin J Callinan

Donny Benet. The man. The legend. The myth. There ain’t nobody like this feller in the universe, mainly because there can only be one moustache-weilding, impressively groomed prince of seduction in the world. It’s a Highlander thing. On, “The Edge” Kirin J Callinan and the Don do battle over five minutes of exhausting sexual healing.

2. Weak Boys – Hangovers

“Hangovers” sort of set the staple for what my 2014 was, along with many other budding attendees of whatever Inner West domain Weak Boys have been fortunately dominating. I’ve listened to this song more times than I’ve asked for a jug of Resch’s at the Lansdowne. My intimidatingly large beer belly nods in agreement.

1. Constant Mongrel – New Shapes

In 2014, no single came close to the grisly terror imagined on Constant Mongrel’s “New Shapes”. Melbourne’s most ferocious unleash a bass-driven hellscape that indulges primal and carnal desires. As far as finale’s go, Constant Mongrel went for an ending more taut, nail-biting and mentally draining than the conclusion of ‘Heat’. A blood-caked knuckle-duster ride into a starved post-punk oblivion, “New Shapes” is the kind of thing post-apocalyptic hero would throttle in their car as they ravaged a scorned landscape in survival mode.

Gig Review: The Blurst of Times Festival

Saturday 25th October @ The Factory Theatre

Simpsons quote. Straight from the go, you’re off to a good start mates. Add to that fact that almost every great guitar act in our country is on a Blurst of Time bill, and you’ve got every cat and their air guitar whizzing to buy a fucking ticket. I mean, people of ‘Straya, what more do you want? The government’s fucked (with the grand exception of Bill ‘Shortball’ Shorten), we’re paying through the nose for uni, and to top it all off, I’ve had a bad sinus infection all week. Really shitty stuff. So a day of DZ Deathrays and beer in Marrickville was basically the only cure, short of going on a bender with Bill Murray (a boy can dream).

Hockey Dad began the day with a short ‘n’ sweet set of feel good surf rock tunes. If you haven’t heard of these blokes, get around them, because they’ve got #nextbigthing written all over their peachy mugs. Zach’s got a voice like an angel, and Billy smashes his drums like he’s on a blitzkrieg, Lleyton Hewitt headband dripping with sweat by the end. A few muck-ups, but the smiles and lack of pretention from these blokes meant that their set was a loud, and thoroughly enjoyable, as good as watching Happy Gilmore the first time round.

Black Zeros followed, but unfortunately, sound issues fumbled their performance. The songs are tight, but performance was unsure, as lead woman Joe Jackson had trouble hearing herself. I mean, “Ride” and “That Boy” are fucking sick, but the dwindling between songs so early in the day made it hard for punters to stick around, and enjoy the usual Black Zeros carnival. Outside, Babaganouj were killing it, an amalgamation of Brissy indie-pop mixed with damn solid 90’s nerd-rock. Think of the dorky pop of Weezer, Superchunk and Kim Deal, thrown together with amazing songs like “Bluff” and “Love Loath Love You”. They had heads nodding along like the crowd were a bunch of bobble-heads. It was down-to-earth euphoric rock, something I’m not sure even existed until this point.

Sticking around on the outside stage, where a bunch of menacing clouds grumbled with menace, High-tails came and conquered with a slew of tight indie rock. High-tails seemed in more of a rock mood, as their songs boomed with a bit more bravado and oomph than usual. “Bending Over Backwards” and a cover of Cake’s “Never There” highlighted a band that knew how to marry pop sensibilities and rock with success. A divorce doesn’t seem likely in the near future, and there’s a strong hint at an LP coming out next year.

Step-Panther, (another band, another hyphen) hobbled unassumingly onto the stage. Just three blokes – a guitar, bass and a drumkit. And yet, these three guys turned an ordinary set up into one of the most impressive displays of musicianship to have been blazed into my skull in recent memory. Starting with debut LP cut “Never Again”, frontman Stephen Bourke was immediately sprawled on the floor, abusing his guitar like it was an Ike and Tina Turner situation all over again. Whiplash guitar ricocheted throughout the small domain of The Factory Theatre, and anyone within earshot perked up like a Chihuahua being mass-fed caffeine. Daniel Radburn is beating the shit out of the drum kit like he’s a 12 year old with the house to himself and a bright and sparkly National Geographic laying bare like the temptresses they are. And Zach, of Hockey Dad @fame, well, he was just looking good. Their set was a fiery ball-tearer, with a couple props to old schoolers like “Fight Like A Knight”, but mainly focusing on their new, gobsmackingly good record, ‘Strange But Nice’ (review here).

It was a party set through and through, a contorted mixture of thrash punk and pop knowledge, covered in gnatty noise and a genuine love, and ability, to rock the fuck out. For every awkward inner-teen out there, Step-Panther is the band you want to familiarise yourself with. They’re almost like a modern and local version of Bleach-era Nirvana, ruthless and primal, and Stephen Bourke makes for a picturesque Kurt Cobain, with his shoulder-connected-to-neck  solos being a sight worthy of the Bucket List. New singles “Nowhere”, “It Came From the Heart” and “User Friendly” were a shredder’s haven, and a reminder that Step-Panther are some of the last heartfelt headbangers in Sydney, possibly even Aus. Make sure you get down to their album launch (with Bearhug and Point Being!) at Goodgod on November 21st.

After exhilaration-incarnate, it felt like nothing could possibly match a Step-Panther show. Obviously, it’s been a while since I went to a SPOD show, and I’ve forgotten how one-of-a-kind this man, nay, GOD, is. Where Step-Panther are one of the ultimate rock bands, SPOD is the ultimate party band. I feel like that needs to be repeated -SPOD IS THE ULTIMATE PARTY BAND! NEVER MISS A SHOW FROM THIS GUY! EVER! EVER! EVER!

Armed with a battalion of all-black, sunnies-inside security guards (Steve’s #1 & #2, and old mate Nathan Wood) who never dropped their demeanour of seriousness and professionalism (sic), SPOD tore The Factory Theatre a new arsehole. Beginning with the song of our generation, “Deadshits”, SPOD’s set soon become something that people will talk about centuries from now, in hushed whispers, in case the legend himself blazes down from the heavens to destroy all human life with his hard-partying ways. To put it bluntly, the set was compromised entirely of legends. From young pup/legend Dom O’Connor being literally picked up and thrown around SPOD like a stripper on a pole during “Letz Dance”, to Dion Ford (Australia’s greatest guitarist/legend) coming onstage to crank out Oz’s favourite pub rock tune “Couple Of Drinks”, to old mate/legend Jules (of Rice is Nice one of the greatest labels to adorn our fair country) getting her waltz on to the finale and every pervert’s funky favourite “Electric Hips”. And I’d be lying to you if I said that getting on stage with pretty much every living legend the Australian music industry has seen for a singalong of “Boys Night” wasn’t one of the Top 5 Moments of my life. I entered the Factory a boy, and left a man, thanks to SPOD. The man is a saint.

After a sweat, party-filled few hours, it was time for Blank Realm, one of the main acts on the bill. After the release of their flawless pop record “Grassed Inn” earlier this year (review here), Blank Realm was a band that I physically could not withhold myself from seeing. Whilst the beginning of the set was marred by sound issues, primarily the bass thudding over the top of other instruments, things were abruptly fixed so that it was all Blank Realm awesomeness, all the time. Their set seemed to compromise of only a few songs, mostly of their latest album, but that’s hardly a complaint. My body was instantly entranced into twisting into an amalgamation of shapes I had no clue I was capable of. Maybe I was just trying to mimic the movements of the band themselves, in which they moved with poetic energy, jumping and grooving with artistic beauty. It was strange, and timelessly wonderful. Getting to see stuff like “Reach You On the Phone”, “Go Easy” and a sped-up “Falling Down the Stairs” (#songoftheyear) is something no ones forgetting any time soon. Summarisation: 2014 – year of the keytar. Never change, Blank Realm, never change.

Outside, a new and unruly beast was unfolding in the form of Velociraptor, fleshed out with a rare appearance from original members Shane and Simon of DZ Deathrays. Banshee cries were the first thing I really noticed from the set, followed by a ruckus on par with a football riot. Bodies flew everywhere, and it honestly felt like a tsunami of rock music had arrived. Whereas Velociraptor are garage-pop on record, the raw energy of earlier recordings was in sure-fire play during the set. As guitars reigned supreme, and the multi-limbed juggernaut of rock ‘n’ roll heaved on headbangers like “Cynthia”, “The Walk On By”,”Cool, Baby, Cool” and the anthemic “Ramona”, it was like an alternate ending from Jurassic Park, where the T-Rex doesn’t show up, and the kids aren’t so lucky. As the final chords rang out, and Jeremy Neale stood poised, with fist raised triumphantly above his lolling head, grin planted firmly on his mug, it was ultimately obvious that Velociraptor had fucking won.

After a truly sweeping performance, TV Colours graced the stage for a very different, but similarly affecting, display of amazing. TV Colours released the best album of last year, and they wilfully proved it. They had walls of sound at their disposal, tearing through songs like “The Neighbourhood” and “Lost Highway” with a virtuosity and newfound, dare I say it, professionalism. Their fury was there, but it was more controlled, funnelled into the seething audience of bobbing heads. It doesn’t seem far-fetched to believe that “Purple Skies, Toxic River” will be mentioned in the same breath as “Primary Colours”, or “Havilah” in the future. It’s a modern masterpiece, and seeing a band as talented and great as that dominate a stage is a pleasure as always. If you haven’t seen TV Colours rip through “Bad Dreams” or “Beverly” and let your jaw drop to the floor in utter amazement, you haven’t lived.

Die! Die! Die! seemed like a bit of a left-field choice for the day, the only Kiwi band on the bill. But they had a new orgasmic album to show off, and you’d have to be a total dillweed to miss out on these guys bombastically destroying expectations. Die! Die! Die! are one of the few punk bands left that can completely blow you away every single time you see them, pounding expectations to the ground as dangerously as frontman Andrew Wilson behaves on stage. Perched precariously on a stack of amps, Wilson cradles the microphone and bellows “A.T.T.I.T.U.D” with a conviction that belies belief. A song over seven years old, Wilson only needed to jump into the crowd and be assaulted by eager punters willing to scream the celebrated chorus, for the epiphany to click that Die! Die! Die! will never die. They’ll forever live on in a myth of wholesome awesome, a preservation of smart punk rock that shames anything that tries to come near it. The members are performers and musicians that have no contemporaries, lambasting temples of a bygone era.

 

To watch Die! Die! Die! in action is a sincere honour, a pinnacle of what humans can do when they really, really, really wanna tear the world a new arsehole. Although new tracks “Get Hit” and “She’s  Clear” shook The Factory to its hinges, it was old timers like “Wasted Lands” and “Ashtray! Ashtray!” that forced the crowd into a hurricane frenzy, centred on the eye-of-the-storm, Andrew Wilson. It can not be overstated how pivotal to your existence it is that you, dear reader, go and see Die! Die! Die! in action.

Cruising to a nice little backstage loft, watching DZ Deathrays side of stage was a set that will be ingrained into my memory for a fair while (Blurst of Times seems to be full of those, hey). After a lengthy UK tour, the duo added an extra guitar and a moustache to Simon’s head for their extraordinary set of euphoric rock. However, there was something a else about the performance. No, DZ were fairly perfect, they didn’t fuck up, and were rockstars to an inch. But that was the issue – these guys should be headlining stadiums, blowing out eardrums worldwide. The fact that they came back to Australia to dwindle with the mere mortals…I mean, how are you meant to react to something like that?

Watching with swollen eyes, every onlooker became enraptured with DZ’s sweaty thrusts of pummelling songs, mainly drawn from the pool of talent that is their sophomore “Black Rat”. Every song was a debilitating lesson in how to be a motherfucking rockstar, from classics like “The Mess Up”, to the slow-burning epic “Northern Lights” and a finale of epic proportions in “Gina Works At Hearts”. Watching DZ is a heart-in-mouth experience, where you want to vomit, cry and mosh all at the same time, where fist-pumping and deranged shouting is par for the course.

After a sincerely great fucking day, Hard-Ons finish the night with a heated dosage of their signature metal/punk/thrash expertise. For those who are unfamiliar, The Hard-Ons are a classic band of Australian lore, as integral to our musical landscape as Radio Birdman, The Saints and The Scientists. Getting to lose my Hard-Ons virginity was something I can only ever be thankful for. They swung through songs with riffs sent straight from another dimension, reaching into the bowels of my brain and throttling the joy factor. There weren’t as many punters there as the Hard-Ons probably required, but really that just gave the more dedicated few room to move and stand in awe of the wicked trio, and insane musicianship of Australia’s coolest band.Ray Ahn proved to those there that all you need to be in one of Australia’s most loved bands is a working pair of footy shorts, a flowing man of hair, and a certificate from Shredding School.

Fuck, so I gotta summarise this experience, right? Paragraph after paragraph of praising the shit out of all the bands I managed to cram into a day, and I gotta come up with something witty AND all-encompassing? I think I’ll stick with the words of everyone’s hero Dom O’Connor, who described Blurst as “… a house party”. And indeed it was – you had mates crammed next to each other, love pouring from every socket, and some of the best bands this country has ever seen playing enormously tight and friendly sets. Although clashes prevented sets from Bloods, Bearhug, Donny Benet and a few others from leaking into my pupils, and Low Life cancelled last minute, and a few sound issues tore away from otherwise perfect shows, The Blurst of Times made an excellent debut in Sydney. From booking the best and loudest, to having minimal deadshit attendance, and relatively cheap drinks and food, Blurst of Times has gone down as one hell of a festival.

New: And* – U Know Me

Although it’s a very uhhhhh….uhhhh….blunt name for an artist, the backstory behind And* proves that there’s something very strong there. The solo project of Dave Rennick of Dappled Cities fame, his second outing is pure-pop elagance. It’s the kind of thing that says DANCE SUCKA, icy synths and clicking beats hitting the deck like the track is a goddamn iPhone game. If Dance Dance Revolution was still around, this would be the main song on there. Kevin Bacon puts this song every morning to do a little jog on the spot to, before spreading out his jazz hands and shaking out his Weetbix. Also, Donny Benet features on here with a kick ass Moog solo that’s squelchier than gumboots in mud. For your pop fix this week, look no further than “U Know Me”.

Album Review: Donny Benet – Weekend At Donny’s

_Weekend At Donny's

Can we all just, for one second, take a minute to marvel at the artwork that is the album artwork for ‘Weekend at Donny’s’? Surely, that is a work that will be going in the pool room, or at the very least, be nominated as one of the images that will convey the best parts of humanity to visiting alien races. For those who aren’t as Donny mad as they should be, Donny is old mate in the middle there, with the sunnies and corpse pose. To the right is Jack Ladder with an expression stolen right off McCauley Caulkin’s shit eating Home Alone debut, and SPOD is looking like a cocky bastard. Man, I can’t wait ’til the whole crew finds out that these guys were totally fakin’ it! Then they’ll get sent to jail! And their careers will be in tatters! And they’ll never be able to re-adjust to regular society again due to the inhumane and extravagantly cruel conditions of Australian prisons. HAHAH, what a bunch of idiots!

On a less sadistic note, this album is Donny’s third record, and his first in which he doesn’t take the spotlight. Whereas his other records featured tracks that the producers of Knight Rider and Miami Vice were kicking themselves for not getting as theme songs, ‘Weekend At Donny’s’ instead allows for Donny to take the backseat. It’s almost like he is Kit, and he has a revolving guest-star  of Hasselhoff’s.

The results of ‘Weekend At Donny’s’ are both diverse and riveting, plunging into strange territories that seem like lost goldmines of eras that never existed. There’s this weird anachronism thing going on, like an episode of Quantum Leap that’s been taken over by the embodiment of sex. The guests range from the local to the high-profile: IsabellaManfredi from The Preatures, SPOD, Jack Ladder, Geoffrey O’Connor, Kirin J Callinan and Elana Stone of All Our Exes Live In Texas.

Now, some of these collaborations work better than others. For example, “The Edge”, which features Kirin J Callinan, is a match made in heaven. Or rather, a match made from the greatest porn parody of Star Trek, where the budget was concentrated on the soundtrack. It’s a song where the lyrics “I wanna fill you up with my love” sounds like the greatest thing a partner could whisper in your ear. Add the space-exploration bass riff and panting synths, and you’ve got the perfect hot and heavy song. You can so easily picture this in a live setting, both characters back-to-back, Donny slapping his bass with a wry smile and Kirin J Callinan absentmindedly flicking his mullet, whilst a blinding amount of cameras shoot their beams for what has to be the shot of the century.

Other parts of the record stand incredibly tall and , “Sex Tourist” with Jack Ladder and the SPOD collaborations. The former is the perfect palette for Jack Ladder’s baritone to sink to its most immoral depths, a song packed with humour and loneliness. The latter contributions, “Gentleman’s Choice” and “Fantasies”, are probably the closest thing that resemble old-school Donny, rumbling bass funkadelics, heavy breathing and Donny’s special brand of hedonism (and vocals).

The only issue to be had here is mild, in that some songs on here resemble the guests’ own projects more so than as temporary visitors to Donny Land. Sure, there’s the Benet aesthetic there, of whispered lushness and trickling, unreal bass slaps, but “Endless”, which holds Isabella Manfredi’s vocals, and “Never Alone” come off like Preatures and Geoffrey O’Connor songs that have been Back-to-the-Future’d a few times, and picked up some 80’s sprinkle from all that time warp-age.

However, this is hardly a complaint. When the cast is as arrayed and talented as this, scoring a really good Preatures song on a Donny Benet album is just a bonus treat amongst the gold already there. When you’re submerged in this sensual world of Donny’s, it’s hard, painful even, to pull yourself out. Even though I was born a decade after the fact, the 80’s has that sheen to it, and Donny exploits it for a new and eager audience. And with these guests, he surmounts that problem of novelty wearing off. Now, his supreme talent as instigator and philanthropist of retro-sound can be completely appreciated for the genius that it is.

‘Weekend at Donny’s’ is out on Rice is Nice Records now. Donny’s bringing the touch to Brighton Up Bar on October 10th and 11th, with You Beauty and Food Court respectively. Go to one. Go to both. But go. Because his name is Donny Benet, and he will bring you happiness.

Video: Jack Ladder & the Dreamlanders – Come On Back This Way (feat Sharon Van Etten)

Songs are a lot like farts. There are those that just kind of pop out, but no one notices them, and they can really only be described as annoying. Then there are bangerz; loud and abrupt, these things draw a lot of attention, and might even cause a bit of an uproar. And then there are the ones that draw themselves out, erupting with grandiose majesty. They linger in the air, and you can taste them on your tongue. They’re unique, and you remember them for years, constantly recalling the first time you smelt that fart that changed your life.

The new Jack Ladder track falls into the last category, immediately sending shivers down your spine as the track rings out with a sincere beauty. “Come On Back This Way” swells with lust and sincerity, and you can’t help but be pulled into it. It’s a whirlpool of excellence, powered by a tiny synth motor that dances next to Ladder’s vocals like a neon ballerina who’s just shelved a pill.

It’s kind of to be expected that Jack Ladder has released this great a song. After all, his backing band, The Dreamlanders, is compiled from Laurence Pike (PVT), Donny Benet (!) and Kirin J Callinan (!), Kim Moyes from The Presets produced the record AND old mate Sharon Van Etten drops some seriously sultry backing vocals. But really, the focus will always be on Ladder, who’s baritone absolutely nails the feels in this emotional cesspool of awesome. In the immortal words of Paul Hogan, “That’s not a breakup song. THIS is a breakup song!”.

New: Donny Benet – The Edge (feat. Kirin J Callinan)

There are many uncertain things in this life. Did I leave the oven on? Is this genital itch temporary? Who am I, and what am I doing on this planet? One thing is for certain: Donny Benet has the Midas Touch, and everything that comes under his gentle swaying nature turns to gold.

You don’t have to look very far into his discography to find something you’ll like. He has a presence that is indescribable, sultry, sexy and dastardly, smoother than a baby jaguar’s fur.

On his latest track, Donny ups the game to near-insurmountable heights. This single is literally the greatest use of a synthesiser since the Miami Vice theme. The song bends and wobbles under the guidance of Donny’s expert touch and feel, and warms to a sweltering heat with the inclusion of the beloved Kirin J Callinan, who provides the hottest vocals since Q Lazzarus.

‘The Edge’ swells, rising like our temperatures and genitals, swaying with incredulous glee, until Callinan’s orgasms are matching the same pitch as Donny’ feverish instrumental work. And then, as everyone, both the musicians and the listener, lay in panting, gasping pleasure, the song ends, and Donny reaches over to light your post-coital cigarette.

 

Fuck, I feel like I just wrote 50 Shades of Grey.

Video: Donny Benet-Don’t Leave Me Stranded

You know what everyone’s lives have been missing? Donny Benet in animated form. So some legend decided to do what we’ve all been thinking, and put Sydney’s 80’s reincarnation through the pixel treatment, and the emerging video is goddamn glorious in every sense of the word.

There is just so much right with this clip, from the fax machines, to the chest hair and corvettes, to the fruit innuendo. Banana and tomato…I know what you’re talking about you sly minx!

But seriously, this pink cartoonish take on Donny is what the world needed, and if you don’t think so, then you’ve obviously a cold, calculating soul without the ability to love.

Donny’s playing the Lansdowne every Saturday in July. Catch him on the 12th, the 19th and the 26th!