10 Best Bands of BIGSOUND

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Brisbane – you go alright. Sydney folk have given you a bit of a rough ride throughout the years: “It’s too hot…full of bogans…fucking Maroon wankers” are all pretty common complaints. But after offering up so many fantastic bands over the years, it was awesome to finally experience the whirlwind of your uncomfortably warm embrace. And BIGSOUND! What a treat! Despite an abundance of blokes (always blokes) with incredibly overinflated egos (shoutouts to the guy that threw his pass in a security guard’s face, throwing his arm at the 30 second queue and exclaiming “But I’m a delegate! That’s a punter’s line…THIS IS BULLSHIT!”) BIGSOUND is an opportunity.

Y’see, there’s over 150 bands playingsome incredible, some lame as shit, but all there to hopefully further their careers and find success, whatever that definition might be. And I’m really happy about that – there’s not nearly enough cash being thrown back to the musicians who make our punter lives such a joy. So, even though don’t like it, who gives a shit? I’m happy for any artist, of any genre, to achieve their goal, particularly through a process like BIGSOUND, which is a great way to connect with folks who can help you. For every guy that can’t stop mentioning the fact that he works in the “music industry”, there are a dozen people who genuinely care about checking out as many of the good things on offer. So here’s my two cents on the best bands up at BIGSOUND – and by the way, if you ever fucking make me wait in a queue again, I will sue you.

10. Rainbow Chan

The electronic contingent at BIGSOUND was pretty disappointing this year. Maybe it’s coming from a really ill-informed “band bro” point of view, but watching someone overanalyse a set of decks just really doesn’t seem like that exciting of a thing to watch. It was the acts that went left of centre and made the most of their sets that performed best: Sui Zhen and NULL both pulled off impressive and visually engaging sets that are worth checking out. But it was Rainbow Chan that proved to be the most energetic and lively; she’s criminally underrated, and doesn’t play shows nearly enough. Any chance to catch her bop, groove and twirl onstage is a treat that should be taken advantage of immediately.

9. Tired Lion

If I wasn’t guzzling booze and schmoozing up to the heads of the major labels with all the gusto of Gary Busey on a coke binge, then I probably would’ve made it into the sold-out Gang of Youths gig, and they would’ve been on this list. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen (didn’t even get a fucking corporate sponsorship out of all that sucking up either). However, it did mean that I caught Tired Lion, Perth shredders that feature an absolute powerhouse of a front woman, the unstoppable Sophie Hopes. She latched onto every figure in the packed out room with the ferocity of the band’s namesake tearing open the throat of the slowest gazelle in the Savannah. We are all that gazelle, and all we could do was stare in awe of the show that Tired Lion supplied as they stewed upon our entrails.

8. Cosmic Psychos

Their new album leaves a lot to be desired, as much of a disappointment as my results at uni. But it would be plain ignorant to call Cosmic Psychos as anything less than a heritage act, an influential band that spits in the face of legacy because they’re too busy riding tractors and slamming into dead roos. Their reputation as one of the best pub rockers remains undisputed when it comes to a live show. Sweaty, blood-spurting and beer-soaked faces caked the grey-haired but perpetually young-at-heart performance, as classics “Nice Day to Go the Pub”, “Lost Cause” and “David Lee Roth” all saw air time, both from the stage and the bevy of crowd-surfers.

7. DARTS

DARTS played two sets, and both proved to be overwhelming punches of spectacle. Straight ahead, teeth-bared rock that presents itself as a slew snarling anthems, but is plagued with cutting self-analysis and anguish, which explodes in the live arena. DARTS work well in confined spaces, barrelling through track after track on the stages of Brisbane with loaded sets of staunch, lip-curling grunge.

6. WAAX

On a bill packed with rock acts, WAAX feel like the band destined to inspire more than fair few teenagers to pick up the guitar and thrash around in their bedroom. This band deserves every loud-loving punters full attention, and catching them live should shoot to the top of the list. Ask anyone who was there, and you’re likely to get the same gushing response as entailed here. Front woman Marie De Vita is particularly worthy of praise, an irrepressible emerald-doused firework who dominates the crowd like she’s Joan of Arc and we’re all a bunch of bloody Brits ready for rock slaughter.

5. Tiny Little Houses

This show was absolutely fucking packed. A full 24 hours later, and my lungs still haven’t decompressed themselves. But mate, wasn’t it bloody worth it? I’d kinda given up on folk bands, what with the realisation that Boy & Bear and The Paper Kites both suck…but man, Tiny Little Houses – swoon! They’re lo-fi recordings shine on a stage, and the inclusion of a fair bit of shredding helps bolster their performances into quite the mesmerising spectacle.

4. The Ocean Party

The Ocean Party are easily the hardest working band in Australia, with more live gigs notched under their belts than Ron Jeremy’s got STD’s. Not only that, but they’ve got a fifth record due out in a month AND all seven members deal with their own stellar recording projects in what mythical spare time they have. With all that practice and constant skill-honing, it’s no wonder that The Ocean Party are one of the most charming bands to watch in Aus. Their gigs will suck you in like a bloody typhoon, and you’ll have their incredible brand of guitar-pop stuck in your head for days, weeks, months, years. Truly, this band is the herpes of music…but delightful instead of burning.

3. Dorsal Fins

There’s a fuck-off amount of members in Dorsal Fins, so many that it’s all too easy to lose count. Watching them is like watching that classic gorilla selective attention experiment video – your eyes are bouncing between so many members that a giant ape could walk through the middle and you wouldn’t notice. Not that King Kong antics are a problem here – you’re having way too much fun! Dorsal Fins do pop to its logical, exuberant climax, and the unstoppable Ella Thompson not only possesses one hell of a voice, but the most enthusiastic dance moves that BIGSOUND had to offer. On a bill filled with bright pop musicians, Dorsal Fins were far and away the most brilliant and enticing.

2. The Goon Sax

One song and a handful of demos is apparently enough to fill up a room to a dangerous capacity. If someone coughed, the whole audience would’ve come down with pneumonia the next day. But of course, everyone was excited to check out the new Chapter Music signing. After 20 years, one of the most prestigious and continuously enigmatic labels in Australia went out on a limb and signed their first band based on unsolicited demos. Holy shit did they make the right decision: three high school kids, loaded with shy charm and a love for bands that I wish I could’ve claimed to be into in Year 12 (The Apartments, Go-Betweens, and The Bats) deserved every cheer and clap they got during their slot. I don’t even give a shit if I’ve got whooping cough now – seeing The Goon Sax will be worth every second of my impending plague.

1. DEAFCULT

I am so okay with a band with four guitars. Yeah, you read that right – four. This band has the same amount of guitars as the core cast of Seinfeld has members. And they use these guitars in their entire brutal capacity – nobody was leaving this room without bleeding eardrums and grin planted on their cranium. Fuck, there is so much to love about this band: from the name, to the incredible musicianship on display, to the simple awe generated by the sheer volume of it all. This band is epic, but with all the pretension removed. Watching DEAFCULT is an experience that anyone with even a passing interest in what guitars can do should participate in. Fuck…I think I’ve shit myself just from thinking back to it.

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Video: Ella Thompson – I Go Over

Even with this hard punk exterior, I’ve got myself a soft spot for the pop side of things, none more so than when GL released their triple-threat of “Won’t You See”, “Take Me Back” and “What Happened To Us”, and Dorsal Fins’ dizzying “Monday, Tuesday”. So, when an integral part of both groups, Ella Thompson announces that she’s got solo work, well fuck mate, I gotta check it out!

Part Catcall, part Grimes, Ella Thompson makes smooth synth music that sparks like a frayed power cord. But instead of being the kind of thing that leads to a six month absence and workers comp, “I Go Over” is soulful and wholesome, a real revitalisation of pop music.

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.

Video: Dorsal Fins-Monday Tuesday

Once a year, every year, there will be that one pop song. That one pop song that is so good that everyone, regardless of genre persuasion, gets around it with the utmost enthusiasm. It doesn’t matter if your more hipster than a limited edition pop-up book of Animal Farm, or if your more punk rock than an orgy between GG Allin, Pink Eye and Bill Stevenson, this pop song will find its infectious way into your heart. Last year had The Preatures’ ‘Is This How You Feel?’ and 2014’s edition comes through Dorsal Fins’ ‘Monday Tuesday’.

There have already been some amazing pop tunes this year, from White Hex’s ‘Paradise’, to Blank Realm’s ‘Falling Down the Stairs’, to Richard In Your Mind’s ‘Hammered’. But Dorsal Fins’ track is more rabidly exciting than watching a Game of Thrones episode before anyone else. Dripping with electric, neon glamour and the kind of simple but brilliant lyrics that all the best songs have. There’s a throwback element here as well that harks to the likes of Eurythmics, Duran Duran and Olivia Newton John, only updated with the kind of ADHD zaps that the 21st Century demands.

In spirit of the whole retro outing meeting delirious effects vibe that ‘Monday Tuesday’ contains, the video is 80’s Saturday morning cartoons that have been fed through a microwave that took a couple hits of acid. The dazzling colours fit right in with the tropical electricity of ‘Monday Tuesday’ better than Rolf Harris fits into a life sentence (Wishful thinking).

But in all seriousness, this song is the best pop song of 2014. Do whatever you have to do to get your hands on it. Whatever. You. Have. To. Do.