Sunday’s Coming; or Why Eddy Current Suppression Ring Playing Golden Plains Is Fucking Important

tumblr_mxa9laKDvn1rbk4jbo1_500Image stolen from Eddy Current’s website, photo orignally by Brett Frost

Alright, let’s get it out of the way – that title is straight fucked. But look, what was I going to do? Eddy Current have just been announced for Golden Plains 10th Birthday, and they’re going to be headlining the Sunday night. What else was I going to call this bloody article? It’s like Aunty Meredith was begging us: “OI! REMEMBER THAT SICK SONG THAT EDDY CURRENT DID? MAKE A PUN ABOUT THAT!”

Although I’ve fallen victim to the bait, my excitement hasn’t wilted. Why? Because Australia’s greatest group is coming out of retirement. There’s a whole generation that missed out on watching this band, a whole stream of teenagers and twenty-somethings, like myself, that thrived upon classic ECSR dynamite like “Get Up Morning” and “Which Way to Go”. Sure, you can look up one of the band’s many bootleg performances on Youtube, or their full set as part of triple j’s Live At the Wireless. But everyone knows that beholding Brendan Suppression throttle an audience through a computer screen is essentially musical porn, erotic punk voyeurism that pales in comparison to the real thing. I want to smell the sweat in the air, I want to feel the splashes of beer hailing down from a mosh of drunk punters. I want to hear Brendan’s gloves snap around the microphone, I want to hear Mikey Young’s guitar strings crackle, Brad Barry’s bass guitar propulsions and Danny Young’s drumsticks threatening to fracture the skins he beats. I want the live experience. I want to say that I saw what everyone else got to see.

Now, don’t take that to mean that this article is about mere bragging rights. Sure, the opportunity to witness ECSR doing what they do best is a claim worth lording over those who weren’t lucky enough to attend. But this desire, nay, NEED, extends further. It’s about completing the experience. Y’see, a band, especially one like ECSR, has got their entire legacy split into two parts: the recording and the performance. Now, the recordings, they speak for themselves. You’ve got five albums: three studio records, one compilation of 7″s and rarities and a live split with The UV Race. I think it’s fair to say that these albums are all works of art. No one is denying that, are they? WHO THE FUCK SAID…oh, that was just a cough? As you were, mate, as you were.

See, every few years, there’s an album, a loud, brash, unhealthy thing that smashes through the windscreen of the careening rock underworld, and gets thrown on a stretcher, into the hospital lights of the mainstream. Bloody and bruised, the band sits in a daze as concerned doctors and nurses of the media and music industry look on in disgust and concern. “What is it? Is it okay? Can we save it?”. Stretching back to The Saints, The Birthday Party and Radio Birdman, there will always be that album that explodes into the view of impressionable kids previously obssessed with dumb stuff like school, and it changes their worldview completely. It reaches up from its graveyard headquarters, and pulls the innocent child into its zombified dwelling, where they will marinate in the juices of the undead and decomposing. They will begin to treat music as a lifestyle, an adrenaline injection of stories, chords and vitriol that fuels their day to day lives, sucking them from their homely oasis, and into the hellhole of local bands and pubs. Recent examples could include The Drones’ “Wait Long By the River…”, Dick Diver’s “Calender Days”, and Royal Headache’s self-titled. Blank Realm look like they’re on their way there, but that’s an influence that remains to be seen (fingers crossed).

For me, ‘Primary Colours’ was the album that changed my perspective on the world. I consumed it at the ripe age of 15, and it was a record that seperated me from my previous infatuation with Nirvana, Foo Fighters and Stone Temple Pilots. It made me realise that there was actually some crazy shit happening in my own backyard. With the aid of Straight Arrows and the aforementioned Royal Headache, ECSR opened my eyes to a thriving scene of people with instruments, assembling music that anyone could make. A few pedals, a coupla chords, and your mates – BOOM! Bob’s your uncle and you’ve got a garage band. But what seperated ESCR and these other garage bands, and indeed, what inspired a young ginger kid with no friends to dive into the world of local music, was the energy. The appeal of Eddy Current Suppression Ring wasn’t necessarily apparent in their traditional skill, but the way they translated raw power into an album of recorded music. Their charm, and by an extension their legacy, exuded from that unmatched foercity. The poetry of their music was a culmination of their un-apolegetic Australian identity and unbudging adoration of rock n roll music. They tore away the bullshit that was so evident in many of their peers, and commited themselves to making music that could be judged purely on its merit of making you smash in a fucking wall.

‘Primary Colours’ persists with a listenability because ECSR created an essential, timeless portal that transcends other rock albums. It gets to the meat and bones of the soul, and refuses to loosen its vice grip. It’s a masterpiece because it understands the same basic values that have made classics of The Stooges’ ‘Raw Power’ and Black Flag’s ‘Damaged’. ECSR understand core concepts – lust, boredom, confusion – and boil it into steaming aggression custom made for any hormone-addled kid who wants to fuck and rock their way out of adolescence. You could travel to any point in historu, chuck on “You Let Me Be Honest With You”, or “Anxiety” and be met with raging grins and rabid reactions of glee. Personally, it was that understanding that rock music could open the gates to a more manic human being inside of me that eventually leeched its way into other facets of my life, and bascially, that’s how I’ve ended up as a foul-mouthed fuckwit who spends more time flipping through records than being a productive member of society.

So, Eddy Current’s records cracked open who I am now, and I’m certain they’ve lubricated the process with a fair few others. But unless you had awesome parents or a fucking great fake ID, there’s a lot of kids between the ages of 18-23 that have never been afforded the opportunity to see the band. There’s also legions of fans who have gotten into the band after they went on hiatus. In the time since ECSR called it a day, their influence has grown at a parasitic rate. Nearly driven to insanity, feverish and blind, these fans NEED to see their favourite band. We NEED to complete the second half of the equation. We NEED to chew upon memories of our favourite rock n roll group jumping up and down on a stage in rural Victoria. We NEED this, or we might just fucking die.

For this reason, it’s just incredible that we are going to be afforded the opportunity to see Eddy Current Suppression Ring headline Golden Plains Festival next year. It’ll probably be really good. Maybe not the best show they’ve ever performed, but that’s not really the point. It’ll be relieving to close the gap on the ECSR fandom that I, and many others, have been festooning on for the last five years. In just a few months, when the lights dim and the band walk off stage, tired but exhilarated at their first performance in yonks, I’ll stand in a field of strangers, covered in mud and chest heaving. Cheers will fade to mild chatter as the next band begins to set up. But who gives a shit? I got to see Australia’s greatest band in the flesh, and it’s probably going to be one of the most important moments in my brief life so far.

The 10th Golden Plains will take place March 12-14th at the Meredith Supernatural Ampitheathre in Victoria. Ya gotta be in it to win it, so head along to the ballot here to be in the chance to buy a ticket. I’d really prefer if you didn’t because then there’s better odds for me to win, but whatever.

P.S You really should buy all of Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s records ‘n stuff here. Trust me, there’s worse things to drop cash on than three flawless albums that have influenced a generation.

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Top 5 Records: TV Colours

This world is ruled by facts. Gravity exists, Tony Abbott is a fuckwit, and TV Colours is the closest thing to perfection that we’ll get. In terms of classic albums, their “Purple Skies, Toxic River” record doesn’t just stand amongst the best of them – it flat out shames other records that we considered the best. It’s a riveting combination of a well-executed concept, high velocity guitar pulverisation, and the catchiest and most original songs of the decade, tied down with an authenticity that would make Billy Corgan cream. TV Colours is a band that means a great, great deal to me, and it feels impossible to truly communicate their significance. But I’ll try – here, listen to this.

If ever there was a record that could encapsulate the times that Australian society is living through currently, “Purple Skies…” is it. The way that Robin and co. so easily mouth everything that you’ve wanted to scream into your bedroom mirror is flawless. People will be talking about this album, and this band, for decades to come. The Drones’ ‘Havilah’, The Birthday Party’s ‘Junkyard’, and TV Colours’ ‘Purple Skies, Toxic River’: perfect music to suit the perfect time. If you haven’t gotten yourself a copy yet, make like Donny Bradman, and get bowled over quick smart here.

TV Colours are making their way down Sydney way to headline Bad Day Out II with one of their legendary live shows. Also on the bill are Donny Benet, Bearhug, Unity Floors, Dreamtime, and a shit tonne of others. It all goes down at Petersham Bowling Club on Saturday 24th of Jan. Tix here.

To prepare the masses for the onslaught of terrific coming their way, and to get in the #Straya mood, I asked Robin from TV Colours to tell me about his Top 5 Australian albums. Thanks, and I’ll see you in the pit.

Top 5 Records – Robin From TV Colours’ Favourite Australian Albums

AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

I really loved ACDC when I was younger, I still do I guess, I think, to not, would be un-Australian right? And its Australia Day. 
That late 90’s was such a gross time for pop culture and ROCK! music and it had such an effect on me that I didn’t really listen to guitar orientated music at all. I snuck into this ACDC show in Canberra in the Summer of 2001, it was pretty Detroit Rock City, and anyway, I sort of look back at it as this completely defining moment where I completely 
changed into a BONE-afied rock DOG, suddenly Dr Dre 2001 was gone and I had Jailbreak instead, it was actually one of the first times I really listening to music in a retrospective nature, and 
y’know, that’s a massive gateway to allot  of music, I guess it seems kind of obvious these days especially with every song ever recorded being pretty easily accessed for free, but back then I basically just listened to just what-was-out -at -the- time sort of thing.

The Scientists – Pissed On Another Planet

I am basically highjacking this whole thing to tell stories about myself, buuut, yknow, I feel like half the reasons I end up loving albums is because of the nostalgia. Anyway when I was 19 I basically drove around in my first car listening to this non-stop, it was awesome.

I know everyone blabbers on about ‘Blood Red River’, which is great, WHATEVER, but I really do love their power pop stuff.  I miss my first car, 1986 Honda Civic, silver,  roaring down the highway, nothing to lose, I was free. My second car just got stolen, had it for 8 years, couldn’t give a fuck, see ya later.

The Eastern Dark – Where Are All The Single Girls?

Geez, I’m really clutching at straws here, is this even an album? Was the Scientists even an album? I hate Australian music, ha ha, JUST JOKING I LOVE IT. Buuuut anyway when I was about 17 I was reading my copy of Rolling Stone (such a cool dude) and it put me onto buy this compilation called Do The Pop.

Anyway so it was this compilation of all these Australian garage and punk bands through the late 70’s and the 80’s, and it just introduced me to all those sort of really important Australian bands from back then, The Saints, Radio Birdman, The Scientists, Hard Ons ayyynd of course The Eastern Dark. And of everything on that album I think I loved Johnny and Dee Dee the most, I just remember it as being one of those early instances in which I realised that punk and pop could mix pretty well, before that my only impression of that was that band Blink 182 ,  fuuuuuuck them, well, sort of, I have a very small appreciation for them, very very small, but only because of nostalgic reasons, sometimes I feel like a dog chasing my own tail.

Assassins 88 – Go Go Second Chance Virgin

Myyyyyyyeah look, I was in this band, but the only reason I was in this band is because I loved them so much, I never actually made it onto any of their recordings or anything, I was just a hired GUN guitar player for them live, well I wasn’t even hired I just sort of demanded I be in the band.

It was one of the first times I looked at Canberra and saw a current band I really liked, I guess one of the first times I realised that you didn’t have to live in a big city to make great music, I know that sounds stupid, and it was a stupid attitude, but I definitely felt that way for a while.

Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Primary Colours

I saw Eddy Current at this place called the Roxy in Melbourne on June 7th 2007, at 8:30. And, yeah, it was such a revelation, the songs were so simple.

It felt like every other gig I went to back then was just that sort of spiky post punk angular guitars (woo!) stuff y’know, , NOT THAT THERE WAS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I dunno, in a time when everything seemed so complicated seeing something so simple and so effective was really inspiring.

Album Review: Total Control-Typical System

Nup, you’ve got to be joking. There’s no way Total Control just released another album. Surely blood should be raining from the sky, swarms of locusts should be covering all available crops, and children should be crying. There’s no other way that a band so holy could announce their second masterpiece without a spectacle at least on par with that. Anyway, whilst we wait for Beelzebub to raise from his slumber, you may as well just read this review.

The reason why I use such excited hyperbole when describing ‘Typical System’ is because this album actually succeeds the genius put forth from Total Control’s debut album. They’ve moved in a million new directions, covering so much ground that it makes you want to throw up in jealousy and happiness. There is still the synth-wadded post-punk and insane fury there, but this time it feels like Total Control are adding more, fucking with the formula, and coming up with a potent potion that puts those mud concoctions you made as a kid to shame.

The main thing when venturing into ‘Typical System’ is that not one song acts as a signifier for the whole album, but rather all the songs together form a jigsaw puzzle that you can only solve after listening to the entire thing. Remember the satisfaction of completing a jigsaw puzzle? Well, gorging yourself on ‘Typical System’ multiplies that weird pleasure by a million.

 

However, there is a key to this jigsaw puzzle, and that key lies in the first two singles from the album, ‘Expensive Dog’ and ‘Flesh War’, two songs that couldn’t be more different in sound if they tried. The former is just crushing, epic guitar, like Hans Zimmer on crack, and ‘Flesh War; is a post-punk epiphany. Although I stand by the statement that no two songs on ‘Typical System’ are alike, they do fall into a category of heart-pounding, cynical ball-tearers, or the synth-wrapped post-punkers that are schizophrenically soothing.

For example, the opener ‘Glass’ is a shot, shining and altogether slinking electronic thing that sounds like Gang Of Four is being squeezed through a wormhole, whilst ‘Systematic Fuck’ is a screaming carnivore. As the chorus of ‘You’re the one to blame’ rings out loudly and abusively, it becomes fairly obvious that Total Control aren’t afraid of making enemies. Rather, they take pleasure in tearing down the walls of timidness and banality.

‘Typical System’ is so much more than an album by one of our nation’s greatest treasures-it’s a record that thrives upon the things that most people sweep under the carpet. Modern fears, modern truths and modern lies are all shouted out by Total Control, with the kind of unwavering energy that GG Allin had. Only instead of throwing their shit at the audience, Total Control use thumping music with more crunch than the Captain, and imprint their tunes with a seal of viciousness and whiplash that belies most of The Birthday Party’s work. That jigsaw mentioned before? Fuck that, Total Control have smashed it to pieces, and created their own goddamn puzzle. Dark, foreboding, and looming, not above you, but with you, Total Control act as the heroes of modern day Australia with ‘Typical System’, and you wouldn’t want it any other way.

New: Boomgates-Widow Maker

Fuck yeah, if new Boomgates doesn’t make your morning, then there is no hope for you. Boomgates, the anti-supergroup, have just put out the first bit of new material, and it’s appropriately titled ‘Widow Maker’. No, its not some Mad Max Thunderdome dune buggy covered in metal spikes, nor is it a doom metal masterpiece. Instead its the usual Boomgates affair. Breezy like going commando in gale force winds, looser than a rugby superstar post-successful grand-final, and more infectious than any disease found in the basin of the Amazon rainforest. ‘Widow Maker’, like every Boomgates track, carries an everyday beauty with it, something that will make the average Joe turn their head a full 180-degrees, and do a comical scrabble to marry this song, logical fallacies be damned!

Album Review: Ooga Boogas-Oogas Boogas

I was once told that if I ever wanted to make a friend, like, ever, then I might want to break the ice with a joke. So, here goes: What do you get when Mikey Young from Eddy Current Suppression Ring and all round musical god starts up another band with some kick arse prodigal entities that love the shit out of some Scientists? Ooga Boogas second, self-titled album of course! Are you guys laughing as hard as I am right now? Are you laughing at all? Do you want to be friends? I made a replica of you out of peanut butter and your old toenails! I promise it’s not an effigy! Where are you going? It’s cool, I’ll see you tonight, when I watch you sleep and bottle your snores in a sealed jar.

Anyway, my creepy manifestations aside, this is a brilliant record that you should consider getting if you want to be associated with the phrase ‘…good music taste…’. Yes, Mikey Young, of aforementioned Eddy Current fame, has taken time out from being a godlike genius behind the control panel (this dude is a renowned producer, of everything from Anti-Fade records to local acts like Food Court, and acid legends The UV Race, and taken up his rightful throne as Aussie garage king. So much allusion in one sentence, I know, but deal with it princess. Anyway, Ooga Boogas create distinctly Australian music that throttles like a V8, is toasty as a Sunday arvo barbecue, and as good as a ripper sunset. I have never typed, nor spoken the words ‘ripper sunset’ before, that’s the sort of power this record has over me.

It’s undulating a weird, and shows an underbelly to garage music that you wouldn’t normally find in your average Aussie garage jammers, of which there is currently an abundance. Opener ‘Circle of Trust’ is a real ball-licker, boasting a classic Eddy Current addictive bass line, and the off-putting, cult-like. When frontman Stacky (Of Sailors fame, a damn fine garage band, up there with the likes of Native Cats/Terrible Truths) chants ‘Come join, come join us’ and then the hypnotic melody kicks in, I’m not sure whether I should take the red pill, the blue pill or both (Yeah, I pulled a Matrix reference, AND linked in a Taco ad. Where is your God now?). ‘FYI‘ is a synthy, crazed jolt of reference to 80’s synth-pop, but done with the deliberately botched care of a 1950’s mad scientist or Mel Brooks. It’s a black and white, hands to your face, stilled circumnavigation of the brain, poisonous organ sounds  infiltrating from every side and burning holes left and right. ‘Mind Reader’ is a Nick Cave-y ballad sort of thing, done with the upright tempo and disturbing lyrical content that makes these kinds of songs so arresting. You think what I said in the first paragraph was fucked up? ‘You said that you were sleepy/ So I made you some Camomile tea/ And I slipped a little something in your drink to help you sleep/ But when you woke up in the morning, I assessed you were less than impressed!’ cries Stacky, in what could be the worst case scenario sequel to Grinderman’s ‘No Pussy Blues’. The first track on Side B, ‘Sex in the Chillzone’ is another creepy thing that makes every hair stand on end, and totally puts you in the frame of mind that the song is describing: having sex with a stranger whilst being incredibly high on drugs. Not many songs can claim that. Stacky’s voice is suitably plaintive and forceful, as if he’s pushing each lyric into your ear, and choking you with the song’s potently simple ryththm.

Fortunately, after the clasp of ‘Circle of Trust’, ‘Archie and Me’ seems to assure the listener that Ooga Boogas don’t want to pour cyanide down your throat, but rather take you out on a friendly trip to the Nullarbor. Name-checking almost as many Aussie tools as ‘Down Under’ by Men at Work, ‘Archie and Me’ is something You Am I might have chucked out on their better albums, and is a friendly, cooling jam that softens what could have been a bitter blow for many after the overwhelming first track. This seems to be imminent on the whole record, as every time Ooga Boogas freak out, they pull back on the next track, and drape you in something nice and comforting to remind the listener that the album is your weird-as-fuck mate, and not the serial killer who lives down the street and always smells like pomegranates and has a dingo’s pinkie on a necklace around his neck. Hell, the closers on both Side A and Side B are not only affable, but are at home with embracing you as a family, like a Midnight Oil song that isn’t shit. ‘It is A Sign‘ is a tantalising love spill, and ‘A Night to Remember’ is something you play whilst circling around a fire in country Victoria, jumping hand in hand with a loved one as it blasts out of the radio. It could be a Go-Betweens track or possibly a Paul Kelly track, but there’s no doubt it belongs on an Ooga Boogas record.

The beauty of the record lies both in it’s ability to shock, scare, comfort and warm the listener. Whilst some points might have you perking up and weirding out, it’s perfectly balanced by the moments in which a smile just crosse your face, and your brain explodes in an endorphin overload. This is a prime Australian treasure, and Ooga Boogas show that they will play their own game, and despite that, guarantee you entertainment. It’s a diverse love letter of a record, and stands out on its own, something that an Australian band, especially in a genre that can be derivative such as garage, should claim as a solid stakehold in the music they produce. If ever there were a band to replace The Scientists as the prodigal sons of Australian garage, the honour would go to all the dudes from Ooga Boogas.