Gig Review: Farmer & the Owl Festival

Saturday 14th March @ University of Wollongong

Wollongong is only an hour away from Sydney, and yet I have never been there. How Sydney is that? Staying in one’s own little bubble is as much as part of the Shitney lifestyle as overpriced coffee that you’ll insist is delicious, and getting coward punched in the Cross. Whether you live in Bondi, Newtown or the Northern Beaches, there’s an adverse reaction to leaving for anything more than a 15 minute bus ride away from your front door.

But with Farmer & the Owl Festival, now in its second iteration, the lineup was too good. A short ginger simply needed to sack up, brave the train ride and seek adventure down South, armed with only unconventional but nonetheless solid good looks and an iPod loaded with the latest Dead Farmers record.

Despite the train trip being pretty bluddy beautiful, that shit is longer than a turd after $2 taco night, and it forced a few unfortunate misses of fantastic acts. However, having bore witness to the pleasant pysch-pop sedation of Sunbeam Sound Machine and Richard in Your Mind many times before, for those who haven’t managed to catch them thusly, get off your thick backside, and buy a goddamn record. Spookyland was the first act to be ingested into the soul, and they were as good as any goddamn paleo diet that I’ve ever tried. Look past the sheer pop prowess of “The Silly Fucking Thing”, and stare on in wonder as Spookyland shred a potent mixture of The Birthday Party meeting Tom Verlaine and The Reid Brothers darkest fantasies. “Blood In the Rain” is particularly demented in the live setting, and when Marcus Gordon looses the shrill cry of “…with that gun in your hand!“, an eel of excitement involuntarily worms its way through your soul.

The Peep Tempel follow up on Spookyland’s brand of eschewed rock with a set that makes it feel like they could be the last real pub rock band in the world. It’s basic stuff, delivered with nonchalant snarls, stirling guitar veneer, and a glittering meanness that would make Scar from Lion King say, “Hey, woah fellas, chill out“. A tighter band couldn’t have been wrought from the slobbery floorboards of The Tote if they tried. A crowd slowly started to gather and build steam towards one of the standout sets of the day. But it still felt like punters didn’t deserve, or at the very least “get” the sheer greatness of a band like this. One dickhead went about his broken tape recorder routine of asking for “Carol” at the end of every single song in The Peep Tempel’s 40 minute set. Fuck, you know, this band has more than just one song, right? In fact, they have an entire catalogue of music, which they have kindly and strategically sorted into a setlist. If you shut the fuck up for a second, shit, you might even get to discover your new favourite song, like “Big Fish”, or “Vicki the Butcher”. God knows we don’t deserve The Peep Tempel already, and deadshits soured the experience.

Luckily, the deadshit factor was kept to a relative minimum, or at least, was herded into the DJ tent for the rest of the festival.  From herein, punters only lapped up the goodness that was served to them at a hurtling rate. There was Jeremy Neale (more like Jizzemy Neale, amirite), ever the showman, lashing up the love with his token mixture of 60’s pop reverie and an ability to make every audience member feel just a little bit loved. Combined with his throat-puncturing performance with Velociraptor (in its smallest form yet, a mere 5 piece), Nealemania is sure to become a hashtag of the future. Then there’s Hockey Dad, who are truly in the midst of their own lil’ Beatlemania replication. Sure, they were on hometurf, but this kind of horny reception was something that would make Ron Jeremy red with rage. Actually, it is understandable, because when you toss two good lookers up on a stage, and then allow them to blast through an EP of surf-rock nuggets that would make any self-respecting mammal with a working pair of ears wet between the knees.

At this point, old mates Big Dick and Brad had sat down with this ginger nutjob to enjoy the lush soak of Shining Bird. Y’all heard this band? Prepare to be casually buttfucked by brilliance. These guys know their way about a pop song, but what’s more, they can extend it past that radio friendly 3 minute mark, and still keep you interested. How many other bands can do that? Yo La Tengo? Stereolab? My Bloody Valentine? That’s about it right? Well, Shining Bird did their hometown proud, as “Stare Into the Sun”, “Keep Warm”, and a laced concoction of others spiralled through the lazy arvo. But that kind of melting haze can only last for so long, which is where a packed room of Los Tones fans made the difference. Do yaself a bloody favour, and go see this band. Strong fucking riffs delivered with an off-kilter craze from a couple of blokes that probably moonlight as whiskey connoisseurs between their day jobs as Lux Interior proteges. Their loud and vivacious brand of medicine bag garage took full-flight in the dingy sideline of the “Thrash Room”, a pleasure to watch, and a pleasure to boogie to. Pro Tip: bring earplugs. Step-Panther are as loud as they are awesome.

As mentioned before, the Raptors killed it. Straight up. You’d think that being stretched to a meagre, suffering 5 piece would dilute the mania that is so core to Velociraptor shows, but they remained pinnacles of party professionals, screaming and raving through keytar laden, guitar solo saturated, shout-along ready renditions of “Ramona”, “Cynthia”, “Sneakers” and more. This kind of party merely acted as a precursor for one of Wollongong’s ultimate treasures, Step-Panther. Fuck, what a band, what a treat. If you want yourself some garage-throttled goodness from a band that just happened to put out one of the best records of last year, then look no further than these guys.

Remember when it was mentioned that The Peep Tempel might be the only remaining pub rock band on the planet? Besides that being an obvious lie, Bad//Dreems ensured that any love for draught-soaked belters isn’t being abandoned in the near future. The crowd was thriving on the pounding anthems that seem to come so fluently to the Radelaide natives, jostling to get in the best position to shout “Caroliiiiiiiine, you do it to me eveeeerrrry tiiiiiiiime!” like it was a goddamn war cry. But who can blame them? Baddies slayed it, happily decapitating punters with scything riffs made from years of studying the bible of rock ‘n’ roll. Cold Chisel, AC/DC, Eddy Current Suppression Ring – any band with a riff, a beer, and a prerogative to unleash unholy rock and roll oblivion. That’s who Bad//Dreems remind you of, and there’s no one doing it quite as strongly as they are either right now either.

By this point, night has settled upon the ‘Gong, and the rambunctious are thirsty for some action. Luckily, the final four bands were in no state to dissapoint. There was Bass Drum of Death, from the USA, who combine the leather jacket cool of The Strokes with the fuzz of a Ty Segall record, and double down on the batshit insane, high velocity appeal of Evil Knievel. It’s hard to keep a single limb still during a set that includes “Bad Reputation”, “Crawling After You”, and “Get Found”. Shit, its hard to keep your limbs attached to your body – a set in the pit of a BDOD show is basically succumbing to the fact that you’re coming home minus a few fingers. That lunacy was abruptly followed by a rare performance by The Mess Hall. By this point a band that has reached “classic rock” status, it comes as a huge surprise that The Mess Hall don’t play more frequently, as they have punched through a tight set of hit rolling into hit. Their set was sufficiently stuck in the part zone, an onslaught of crowd-pleasers for a surprisingly small lawn of attendees. However, those who did make it along will be forced to admit that the rough-hewn blues rock of “Shake, Shake”, “Lock & Load”, and “Pills” were just as prime for as they were when they were served to us on a steaming platter all those years ago.

Watching DZ Deathrays, you can’t help but marvel at the fact that this has to be one of the most hard-working bands in existence, and yet they play as though they’re fucking Metallica. That’s meant as an adoring compliment, by the way. Three guys, onstage, prowling and growling with the kind of stage presence that no one has anymore. DZ have graduated beyond mere hometown heroes – they’re bonafide rock gods. They play as though they’re in Wembley Stadium, but they’re in the car park of the University of Wollongong. They treat each stage diving lunatic with a wry grin, and scuttle down their fret boards with the same enthusiasm as when they only had an EP to their name. Oh yeah, and they continue to lay down sicker riffs than an ebola quarantine camp. They’re mental, and the crowd reacts thusly. You’ve never seen kids mosh the way they do at a DZ Deathrays show, hurling themselves at each other with the kind of reckless abandon that can only be brought on from the thundering, lock jaw inducing, brain seizures of “Less Out of Sync”, or “The Mess Up”. There are plenty of bands worthy of seeing, but DZ Deathrays transcend that – they’re a band that you need to see.

Farmer & the Owl Festival feels like what Big Day Out would be like if it were held in the real bush instead of Homebush. From the stage setups that were tiny replicas of the famous Orange and Blue stages, to the rock dog-centric lineup, it was a comfortably small throwback to what I’m sure BDO felt like. This was felt most strongly with the headliner of Jebediah, a band more 90’s than a love for Marilyn Manson that isn’t somehow ironic or attached to guilt. Despite playing to a lacklustre crowd, Jebediah still served up some meaty hits that were made when I was still shitting myself. Is there really any better way to click past midnight than with the powerful punches of “Harpoon”, “Leaving Home”, and “Fall Down”?

Look, the ‘Gong might be a little while away. But the place is loaded with royalties that you can’t get in Sydney. A coastline where the Southern Cross tattoos are minimal, cheap beer, and the great bands are just a few of the reasons to make the voyage. And when there’s a festival that can make a tiny, grumpy ginger loaded with cynicism travel an hour down the coast, and bust out white moves whiter than Bill Clinton eating gluten-free brunch, then that should be enough incentive to head down. Drop the act, Sydney, Wollongong is more than dreads and tye-dye t-shirts. It’s all a lil’ bit alright. Make sure you’re there whenever the next Farmer & the Owl fest goes down.

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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.

Video: DZ Deathrays-Gina Works At Hearts

The lesson to learn from DZ Deathrays new video are twofold.

Firstly, if there’s a girl you know named Gina, fucking run. Run as fast as you can, and never look back. She will be a sexy, lingerie-clad, minx of the highest order, and will reek of beauty. But she is bad news. She will wear fake fur, rip out your heart, and judging by all the bathroom scenes, vomit on your best shoes while wearing your favourite shirt, an American flag singlet that screams ‘I like to party, and I’m single’.

Second lesson: Shane and Simon look really good in suits.

March Playlist

Holy shit, this playlist is crazy, a gritty, modern reboot of a mixtape if ever there was one. There’s a whole lot of underground punk, with Gutter Gods and TAX repizentin’ for the genre. And there’s some great new ones from Cloud Nothings, Juan Wauters and Cerebral Ballzy. And then there’s the usual proliferation of older but amazeballs stuff, like the spleen-rupturing Trash Talk and GG Allin, smooth pop of The Holidays, and  the cool college rock of PILE. Enjoy!

1. Touch Sensitive-Slowments

2. Cloud Nothings-Pyschic Trauma

3. TAX-Bent Spear

4. Oozing Wound-Call Your Guy

5. Plastic Plates-Things I Didn’t Know I Loved (Bufi Remix)

6. Trash Talk-F.E.B.N

7. GG Allin-Bite It You Scum

8. PILE-Number One Hit Single

9. Juan Wauters-Sanity Or Not

10. Miles Brown-Electrics

11. Cerebral Ballzy-Speed Wobbles

12. The Holidays-Voices Drifting

13. Liars-Mess On A Mission

14. Adolf Sasquatch-Oxygen Thief

15. Gutter Gods-Virtual Reality

16. Ernest Ellis-Black Wire

17. DZ Deathrays-Gina Works At Hearts

18. Movement-Like Lust

19. Pink Mountaintops-Ambulance City

20. Eagulls-Possessed

New: DZ Deathrays-Gina Works At Hearts

Believe it or not, some people got pretty shitty about the release of ‘Northern Lights’, the first single off DZ Deathrays upcoming debut. Personally, I thought it showed some great growth for the band, but hey, that’s just my shitty opinion.

So basically, ‘Gina Works At Hearts’ goes out to all those that were ever doubting that the band couldn’t pull off another high-octane punch to the gonads. ‘Gina Works At Hearts’ goes harder and faster than that new Need for Speed movie, and it will pulverise you like accidentally slipping your hand in a blender.

However, there’s also pop elements to the track. DZ have always had that element of chorus-rocking to them, but ‘Gina’ is less subtle about it. But when you slam a shredding melody, and a chorus of overblown cynicism like  ‘Gina works at hearts/But she doesn’t know/ Why she does it though/ She just loves the attention’, then it’s hard to find any faults. You’re better off just sinking into a mindset of one-track minded moshing, and leaving the complicated shit to people that like Chopin and Puff Daddy.

Top 10 Things That Happened in 2013

Okay, just to clarify, this isn’t a list about the best shit that happened in 2013 for music. Although most of it is about some of the really, really great shit that happened, some of it is about some of the bad shit that happened in 2013. That is to be expected, so chin up buddy, dry those tears, and think about the sunny day that Violent Soho brought out their sophomore record, and forget about the time that Miley fucked a teddy bear. 

10. Chapter Music and I Oh You Records (tied)

This has just been such a fantastic year for both these top-notch Aussie record labels. Albeit on opposite ends of the music spectrum, and drastically varying in age (Chapter celebrating their 21st Birthday this year, and I Oh You celebrating their 4th), they have both released some of the best tunes this year, and rightfully won their place in the music community. Chapter Music released a stunning 15 or so records this year alone, with records ranging from the ‘dole-wave’ world-conquerers Dick Diver and The Stevens, to the long-awaited debut album from Primitive Calculators and another new one from The Cannanes. Meanwhile, I Oh You was out there putting on tours for the likes of Earlwolf, Foals (DJ’s) and getting the one and only Neon Love together for a reunion show. If that wasn’t enough, I Oh You also put out another one of my favourite records of the year, Violent Soho’s ‘Hungry Ghost’, and Snakadaktal’s debut record. They also managed to be a bunch of cockteasers and put out tantalising singles for City Calm Down and DZ Deathrays. If these labels can keep the pressure, there’s no telling how 2014 will end up.

9. New Shit From Bands That Haven’t Released Shit In A While

Beware, I’m not talking about bands that reformed, or broke their hiatus. I’m talking about bands that have never broken up, but have been ‘illin on the fringes of musical society, just waiting to return to form with strident singles. The aforementioned DZ Deathrays, Straight Arrows, HTRK, The Avalanches, Royal Headache, Seekae-just a few of the bands that blew us away with stand alone releases that said, “Fuck you, we’ve still got it.” If you haven’t checked out any of these singles…do it, you unintelligible ape!

8. Shitty Albums That People Thought Would Be Way Better Than They Actually Were

Ooooh, the first hot topic! I’m not just talking about Daft Punk here, there were so many built up albums this year that fell flatter than an ad campaign for Vaginal Warts. Arctic Monkeys, Sebadoh, No Age…just a short list of albums I listened to that I wish I hadn’t had, so I could dedicate more time to wistfully thinking about making sweet love to Robert Pollard. But that’s not even scratching the surface of bands like Cloud Control, Cults, Weekend, Soft Metals, Obits and Franz Ferdinand. A lot of bands that I was expecting to deliver stunning results returned with meagre offerings that either cruised along on the strength of predecessors, or worse, fucking sucked.

7. Solo Projects

For me, the term ‘solo project’ is a bit of a dirty word. Most of the time, they’re warning stories for the over-eager frontmen and women. Just ask Johnny Borrell, Johnny Marr or Noel Gallagher…if your album isn’t awesome, you kind of lose all credibility,and come off looking like a wanker. But luckily, there was a whole swag of Australian artists that went out on their own and wandered out as deadset legends. Nathan Roche, Angie, Kirin J Callinan, Geoffrey O’Connor, and Alex Cameron are just a couple names that released some stellar records this year that only get better with repeat listens. No point getting too much into it, just go fucking listen to them yourself. Trust me, these records are more on the Bob Dylan side of the solo spectrum, in terms of awesomeness.

6. Boutique Festivals

In a year where shit is getting fucked up ALL over the place for major music festivals, whether it be the gargantuan amount of drug related arrests, Blur cancelling on Big Day Out, or AJ Maddah telling people that their favourite bands suck tremendous amounts of horseshit, major festivals are becoming more and more fucked. I can’t tell you how pissed I was when I missed the chance to see Massive Attack, Superchunk, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Neutral Milk Hotel all in the same place for Harvest festival, only to see it collapse before my very eyes. And lets not even touch on hip-hop festivals this year, with Rap City, Supafest, Movement all being cancelled.

However, with the absence of ya boiz 50 Cent and T.I, boutique festivals have continually outshone their counterparts. The ‘original’ boutique festival, Laneway, has gone international, and their 2013 edition was fucking awesome. Japandroids, Divine Fits and POND all left massive dents in my brain, right were the pleasure centre is located. Other festivals like OutsideIn, Strawberry Fields and the upcoming, sold-out Secret Garden festival (which frankly has the most amazing lineup I’ve ever seen) continue to dominate. Oh, and Sound Summit was one of the most pleasurable and unique experiences of my entire life, a smorgasbord of musical delights that will probably never be collected in the same period again. Fuck me, if boutique festivals become a thing, how the fuck will yadda yadda capitalism, Soundwave, Nova 969, joke, haha.

5. Reformations-the fucking shit and the not-so-shit

Firstly, let’s talk about Black Flag. Maaaaan, did they fuck that one up. One of the all time greatest punk bands became a petty squablling bitch fit of the highest order, and at the end of it all, once-stoked fans where left with an album called ‘What The…’, which compromised of a bunch of piss-take ‘punk’ songs and an album cover that looked like ClipArt threw up. They fucking fired Ron Reyes onstage! Black Flag aside, bands that also wanted money to buy that brand-new toaster and reformed included Boyzone, The Backstreet Boys and Girls vs. Boys. It reads like a list of who-gives-a-shit.

However, on the plus-side, Jurassic 5, Philadelphia Grand Jury, and Powder Monkeys all put aside differences and got stuck into some gigs. And by some miracle, the mother fucking Replacements got together again! What! That’s amazing! I nearly blew a load when I heard that!

4. Electronic Music???

Electronic music has had a confusing year in 2013. On the one hand, there has been some absolutely froth-worthy local shit that has gotten tails wagging and genitals exploding. Touch Sensitive, Wave Racer, Cosmo’s Midnight and Hayden James have had stellar years, and underrated labels like Future Classic, Silo Arts, and Yes, Please have all shot to national attention, like synth induced erections. And let’s not even bother to touch on Flume-that guy gets enough deserved praise.

But in terms of mainstream music, the result has been mixed like a cocktail served by a squirrel with Parkinsons. Of course, Disclosure released that pretty killer album. But the likes of hardstyle trap from the likes of Baauer and DJ Snake, and the legions of mindless DJ’s that trample our radio waves that release forgettable single after another dilutes a lot of the mainstream appeal of electronic music. Not even new albums from Jon Hopkins, and Boards of Canada, or the embracing of the genre from indie rock icons like Arcade Fire and David Bowie, could distract from the likes of Knife Party destroying decent music. Although it is undeniable that electronica had a killer year on the local front, its better to forget that other shit happened outside of our shores.

3. Debuts

Face it, a lot of debuts came out in 2013, and they all rock me better than a hurricane. International props to the likes of Savages, FIDLAR, Eagulls, HAIM, Jackson Scott, SQURL, HUNTERS and Atoms For Peace. But that doesn’t even come close to the amount of talent that pooped out shining nuggets of debut gold this year in Australia. TV Colours, Gooch Palms, Bad//Dreems, Food Court, Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Zeahorse, Bloods…the list goes on…and on….and on. Batpiss, Clowns, Amateur Drunks, Reckless Vagina! Unity Floors, Day Ravies, The Stevens, SMILE! These are just a couple of my favourites, but you get the idea. There was a fuckload of bands that popped their cherry and the collective music community lost their shit. Blood was everywhere.

2. Miley Cyrus and the Death of the Child Star

Look, I actually don’t hate Miley Cyrus. I think her music sucks, her taste is awful, she acts and sounds like a spoiled brat and is a living cumstain, but she’s actually the perfect pop star that this generation needs. She’s like The Dark Knight of shitty, over-produced music. And good for her for completely shaking off the goodie Hannah Montana image.

But therein lies my point. The Jonas Brothers broke up this year, the Biebs has conveniently spray-painted, prostituted and retired (?) his way into a ‘bad boy’ image, and we all saw Miley nearly fuck Robin Thicke onstage at the VMA’s. Right now, there isn’t really a glistening child-star to sell t-shirts. Even Lorde, the youngest pop star of the moment is more grown up than the majority of twenty year old hipsters that infect her concerts just to say they saw ‘Royals’. She hung out with fucking David Bowie and Tilda Swinton for her birthday party!

Regardless, 2013 saw the Death of the Child Star, a feat that should both cause us to all be thankful, and astonished.

1. Local Garage Rock Hit a Fucking Peak

Garage rock, my favourite genre, has well and truly hit its peak at the moment, and shows no signs of declining. Seriously, attend any bar in any capital city in Australia, and there’s a 1-in-3 chance that there’s a garage rock band giving it 100% and blowing minds.

Not only is the live scene of garage rock well and truly at a high point, but the albums these bands are making are astoundingly good. Palms and The Gooch Palms released underdog debuts that blew everything out of the fucking water like a land mine in a kiddy pool. TV Colours took the usual formula and added dashing synths and samples to create a tale of fucked-up-ness that’ll have you massacring penguins just to get your hands on some more. And Bad//Dreems single handedly resurrected the sound that was left behind where GOD put it.

Outside of debuts, garage bands that have already established themselves continued to push shit further into the realm of amazeballs. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Witch Hats, Ooga Boogas and fuckloads of others continued to do what they do best-ensure that we, the shitstains of musical society, are enjoying their output more than humanly possible.

As if that isn’t enough, there’s new garage bands springing up all over the place, and the sound still hasn’t been tired out. Bands like Doctopus, The Living Eyes, Tiny Migrants and Adults are just a very small handful of the concoction of rock n roll music that is permeating our ears on a local level. If you haven’t done so, check out all of these bands and more.

We are living in a renaissance of the greatest form of amatuer music in all its forms, and the least you can do is contribute in some small way. 2013 was one of the best years for Australian music, garage and rock n roll specifically, because finally, all the years of hard work that these bands have done has started to pay off exponentially in fantastic records and performances. Get along to a show, buy a record, and ensure that 2014 means that local music is better than the last shitstain of a year.

New: DZ Deathrays-Northern Lights

Halle-fuckin-lejah, there is officially new DZ Deathrays material! And just in time for all the newly released HSC students to smash their heads to. Legit, if you don’t like DZ Deathrays, you have a deep-seeded hatred of yourself, and I’m sorry, but there’s nothing we can do to fix you.

DZ’s newest track aims to switch it up a bit from their usual adrenaline kick to the balls formula, but for the time being, it’s working in their favour. ‘Northern Light’ slowly builds until its grinding up against your face, garganutan cymbals crashing all around your head, and that chugging repetition of ‘The northern lights’…you can practically see the shimmering natural phenomenon glittering above your head.

DZ Deathrays are doing a DJ set at Good God tonight, supporting Turbo Fruits. You should definitely go.

Video: Violent Soho-Covered in Chrome

There is so much to say about this video it’s hard to know where to start.

Well, there’s the fact that ‘Covered in Chrome’ is one of the best songs of the year, engaging a hyper-drive of dirty rock n roll with a chorus that will beat the shit out of you and make sure you enjoy it.

Secondly, there’s the explosive nature of the clip, the one-track following the band around what looks like a deserted but fucking mental house party that the majority of the world is pissed they didn’t get invited to.

Finally, there are the cameo’s from two of our Northern cousins best bands, enacting their stereotypes with ear-to-ear smiles. There’s Simon from DZ Deathrays replaying his infamous role in ‘The Mess Up’ video, and Danny from Dune Rats rocks a shirt that summarises the Duniess pretty well, as he lights a Hills Hoist on fire. There’s even a subtle shout-out to Violent Soho’s upcoming tour buddies Straight Arrows via a t-shirt on Luke.

Overall, it’s impossible to say where the video stops kicking ass, and starts becoming legend.

Album Review: Damn Terran-Damn Terran

Image What the hell is a Terran? And why does this band hate it so much? Is it a Who? A Where? A Thing? What could it have done to create such curse’d vibe from these Melbournites? Whatever, that’s a story for a different time. Right now, the focus is on badassery, knights of which Damn Terran most certainly are. Their debut album is an ode to all things badass, furious guitar riffs plunging the listener into a maelstrom of sultry heaviness. Be warned: if you’re an acoustic pop fan, do not listen to this album-you will probably explode from the impact. Hard and fast, but packed with the kind of slimy riffs that makes Kyuss look like a couple of little bitches, Damn Terran’s debut album is a masterpiece.

Every song, and I literally mean every song, on this album is absolutely killer. You will never feel like such a loose cannon as when you are jamming to this album. No, you could be doing coke off a rhino’s butthole, and this album would still be more unruly. From the harrowing extra terrestrial intro of ‘Provokasia’ to the absolute brutality of ‘Pills’ to the mind-shredding insanity of ‘Uncanny Valley’, there is not a single song on ‘Damn Terran’ that won’t puncture your brain with awesomeness.

Take the chorus of the aforementioned ‘Pills‘-it’s Charles Manson level intense. “Pills don’t make people, people make pills!” feels like Rasputin himself is an inch away from your face, screaming every word into your face, gale force hurricane style. Then there’s ‘Killer’, a song that lives up to it’s name with bloodthirsty riffs, a cuthroat chorus and slashing rhythms-the thing is deadlier than a cobra on meth. But balls-to-the-wall, skin-peeling rock isn’t all there is to the Damn Terran camp. A listen to ‘Wrong Things’ can affirm that, with stoned vocals playing over a beastly bass line and skitterish bass guitar, all leading into a truly staggering jam that builds like the background music to a duel between Godzilla and Bruce Willis. Damn Terran even manage to scrape in some sexy with ‘Burlesque Dancer’. Or at least, they get as sexy a headbanging mosh riff coupled with lines like ‘c’mon baby tempt me…and your stockings! They make me lose control!’ belted like Cthulu himself was on the microphone.

Overall, Damn Terran will make every atom in your body spontaneously combust with this album. When they play music, they play it hard, they thrash faster and they ruin your head like Metallica used to. Their music is a crushing deadly concoction of danger, riffs pulverising your body into a bloody mess of punk greatness. Listening to ‘Damn Terran’ has proven that there are still bands that can go as hard and as astonishingly great as they used to make them. Before pressing play on ‘Damn Terran’, make sure your strapped down and have the mental stamina to withhold the pure awesomeness that this record contains. 

The record comes out tomorrow, 20th of September. Damn Terran will be playing Brighton Up Bar on Saturday 12th October-if their live show is even half as good as this album, there’s going to be a fucking riot. Goddamn I’m keen!

If you want to check out/download a couple of the tracks off this album, including ‘Pills’ (!), you can grab them for free here off Damn Terran’s Triple J Unearthed. 

Album Review: Kitten Forever-Pressure

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For those of you who aren’t into the whole vicious girl-punk thing like the rest of functioning society, fear not…your saviour has arrived in the form of the ladies that form Kitten Forever. These are some chicks that don’t give a fuck. They don’t care if you don’t like their music. ‘It’s too loud, it doesn’t make sense, it’s like a rusty razor blade caressing my genitals….’ Shut the hell up, sit your ass down, and prepare to experience a full on assault of sound that will ruin your perception of a human sound, and change you into the ass-kicking, non-fuck-giving corrupter of innocence you always dreamed of being. Yes, Kitten Forever is a band with the power to do that.

If you’ve managed to live your entire existence without perusing the genius of L7, Bikini Kill, X-Ray Spex, or The Slits, then Kitten Forever would be the perfect place to engage your transition to riot grrl! power. But Kitten Forever are not a riot grrl! band, and should never be lumped into that category. No, they’re too busy partying, and causing destruction of the brain cells to get tied down to labels. Kitten Forever blast, make out, slobber, throw up and scream on a 22 minute highway bound for oblivion entitled ‘Pressure’ and they want you to come for the ride. They entice you, the devil on your shoulder, the red-lipsticked chick who seduces you with a curled finger from across the party, then slaps you for about an hour and sneers that you can’t keep up. Then you give her your number and act out the cliche 3 day rule to call her, but by then Kitten Forever has thrown her charm out to another unsuspecting fan. For the second time in a few days, she’s made you cry. Your such a little bitch. You never deserved to witness and lust after the emasculating punk power of Kitten Forever.

In terms of sound, these girls are fucking powerful, and put most hardcore bands to shame in terms of an engaging sound acted through ferocious music. Think DZ Deathrays meets Sleigh Bells meets White Lung meets Screaming Females. Yeah, if you don’t shit yourself at some point during the 13 track oblivion cycle, then your bowels are made of Wolverine levels of material. What I’m trying to say is that this is a band that can bust out adamantium punk fuckery like none other. 

It’s hard to pick just one song on the album that stands out above the rest. They’re all so short and lead right into another, hurricane riff punching the hurricane riff before it right the fuck out. When the band slap a sick chorus in the bloodthirsty mix of bass shenanigans and death guitar, then that’s when shit goes from ‘fuark, this is sick’ to ‘BE RIGHT BACK! GOING TO GO DECLARE WAR ON A SMALL COUNTRY ARMED WITH A HEAD BANGING SQUIRREL AND SPEAKERS BLARING KITTEN FOREVER!’. These prestigious titles go to ‘Famous Friends’, ‘Rat Queen’, and ‘Dirt Nap’. Those songs just rise above the rest as being shit that makes you want to punch someone you hate. Right in the face. Right in the noggin’. Because fuck that person. And thank you to Kitten Forever for giving us the power to achieve our dreams. And apologies for inciting violence. Please give me a lenient sentence. 

To summarise, this album is a tornado of all punk destruction, a force of intimidation that’s going to fuck you right up. If you went on a week long coke binge, I’d recommend just listening to this album over and over again to ensure you have a soundtrack that can keep up with your fucked up highs and lows. ‘Pressure’ and Kitten Forever as a band are enjoyable to the point of internal bleeding. 

You can grab it on CD for less than a Subway sandwich off Guilt Ridden Pop Records right here. You know you want to.