New: Surf City – Hollow Veins

They had a bit of a misstep with their second album, ‘We Knew It Was Not Going To Be Like This’, but it appears that they’ve returned to strong pop form with this new track. Maybe it’s all the heroin references, but it sure sounds like Lou Reed as a kid with the testipops trying out for a Ride or Slint cover band. A hook as striking as any Peter Pan villain, and melted vocals that plead like John Hughes is back to making so-bad-they’re-classic high school movies.

 

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Album Review: Blank Realm-Grassed Inn

Blank Realm are the weirdest pop band from Terra Nullis, and that’s simply because they don’t give a fuck. Not in the way that the usual garage bands don’t give a fuck-Blank Realm aren’t the sort to thrash around until something with a pulse rocks up to party. No, they don’t give a fuck in the sense that they’ll try anything, consequences aside.

‘Grassed Inn’ is the Brisbane group’s…second album? Fourth album? There’s so many different sources out there, I’m actually not even sure anymore. What’s important though is that the band are more focused and literate than any other releases. Usually, a Blank Realm record will have a bunch of Zombies/Big Star-ish singles, amongst a bunch of really weird shit that will either piss you off or drift by pleasantly, depending on what kind of mood you’re in. This record pretty much only features the super awesome pop stuff.

However there is still a share of feedback and improv driven experimentalism occurring throughout the album. For example, the track ‘Reach You On the Phone’ has a deceptively bright line ringing through the whole thing, a dual vocal chorus, and is catchier than a bout of crabs at a porn star convention. But listen to those lyrics! “I pretend I’m stoned and dead, just to escape that sense of dread,’… doesn’t that sting with a little bit too much truth? And that longing chorus of ‘Baby, I can’t reach you on the phone” rings out with such sincerity and loss, it’s like watching a baby penguin crying out for its mother. Hold that image in your brain, and then try not to break down in a geyser of tears.

There’s going to be similar mental reactions amongst a couple of the tracks, like ‘Baby Close the Door’ and ‘Bulldozer Love’, although the effect is more subtle as the music takes place. The former uses a harsh shrill cry every couple of seconds to remind the listener that they’re listening to some harrowing shit, and the latter is basically an eight minute build-up into MBV-lite musical textures.

Only with the big single ‘Falling Down the Stairs’ do things start to look up, at least on a surface level. This track is so bright and bouncy, with a honky key line that could’ve been ripped right from a carnival ride. And the rhythms are so infectious, you’re pretty much submerged in happiness. The chorus is shout-along worthy, and more addictive than 3am kebabs.

However, ‘Falling Down the Stairs’ is pretty much the exception to the rule. The rest of ‘Grassed Inn’ sways along, breezing by with the kind of charm that comes all to rarely. Strange, Eastern-sounding psychedelic riffs and glitches appear on ‘Violet Delivery’ and ‘Back to the Flood’ is the fastest song on the album by far, but the feeling is one of sombre resignation. It’s like the band are more focused on singing about the things that have happened and can never change, rather than having any desire to change.

What does that last sentence mean in terms of how good this album is? It means that finally, the slacker-pop bible is being filled out in an interesting, layered and original way. Blank Realm are a pop band but they write some downer stuff. Their music is about as aesthetically removed from traditional rock and pop as one can get. Every track rings with difference and authenticity. Instead of the usual ‘I got stoned today and I’m on the dole’, Blank Realm add so much more, incorporating feeling, movement, and texture. They don’t only provide the ‘What?’ factor that most bands utilise to resonate with their audience, but also the ‘Who?’, ‘Why?’ and ‘How?’. And the answers they come up with aren’t pretty in the slightest, no matter how much Blank Realm mask it with their upbeat, sonic tunes. Naive and twee as they might come off to the uninitiated, Blank Realm are at a more exploratory yet focused point in their musical careers than they ever have been, and have produced one of the most harrowingly original pop records in a long, long time.

To get amongst it, you can get a copy of ‘Grassed Inn’ at Bedroom Suck Records right here. 

Video(s): Superchunk + Blank Realm + Bearhug + Naked Maja + Bo Ningen

Another day, another obese unloading of music videos. This time round, the focus is on stuff that’ll get you fucking fired up. None of that dance muzik stuff that all your cool hipster friends always seem to be talking about. This is just some straight up rock n roll, albeit its going to get a little darker towards the end. Enjoy, or die a lonely death.

Superchunk-Void

Oh look at that, a guitar band featuring on my website. Oh, and it happens to be Superchunk, that band that basically brought back irreverent riffs in the 90’s. This one’s called ‘Void’ off their 2013 record ‘I Hate Music’, and its the usual dosage of headbanging goodness. But the video, now the video is something that you need to see. First thing to strike me was the inclusion of Jon Benjamin and Jon Glaser, two of the most underrated comedians since ever. The scene opens in a decrepit ‘shithole’ which reminds me of an Americanised Red Rattler, and Jon Benjamin saying, ‘support bands suck’. From there it’s a broken-hearted tale of unfulfilled mosh dreams, and dick headed security guards. Fucking excellent!

Blank Realm-Falling Down the Stairs

I’ve always been a mild fan of Brisbane weird-pop band Blank Realm, with their tracks ‘Cleaning Up My Mess’ and ‘Go Easy’ always striking a particular chord. However, this new track and its accompanying video, seems to combine Tom Petty with a twee Bruce Springsteen under a cloud of Echo & the Bunnymen. Lets just say its damn catchy, and that I’m completely underselling this track. Your head will definitely bop back and forth to that cute synth line and the best rhetorical question chorus since ‘Who Let the Dogs Out?’. Set to the band just doing their thing in a live setting, (I can tell you from firsthand experience that they are definitely worth seeing live), the adorable and awesome nature of Blank Realm really shines here.

Bearhug-Debris

Maybe its because they share such an affinity with Pavement/Dinosaur Jr., but I’ve always been a little too obsessed with Sydney’s Bearhug. On their new single ‘Debris’, shit gets a little more dreamy than usual, and it sounds amazing. They’ve also attached a video clip to this stunning track, however the clip is more of a baiting game of how long it will take before Youtube take it down. By that, I mean there’s a lot of nudity, lotsa boobies. I guess that’s what you get when you pastiche a bunch of 60’s porn with what appears to be some sort of fantastical plot narrative.

Naked Maja-#59

A couple of days ago, I did a review for Naked Maja’s brand new EP ‘Disillusion’. ‘#59’ is the first track off of it, and it has a video clip so good that it just needed to be shared again. Doomy, post-punk laden vocals and increasingly horrifying instrumentation are set to a backdrop what appears to Lewis Carroll’s acid nightmares. There is so much colour and vibrancy involved, but its so off putting and makes you incredibly queasy inside, like you’re watching an electric chair execution take place in front of you. In front of the squealing guitars, it doesn’t make sense for there to be that abundance of colour, and its this kind of juxtaposition in the clip for ‘#59’ that makes it so hard for you to peel your eyes away.

Bo Ningen-Nichijyou feat. Jehnny Beth (Savages)

Before Bo Ningen came along, I more or less knew of three Japanese bands that ruled the shit out of the genres they lorded over. Boris for metal, The 5678’s for guitar/girl-pop and Guitar Wolf for good old fashioned rock n roll. Well, now a fourth has joined their spiritual ranks, as Bo Ningen viciously prove how they are a band to be reckoned with on the post-punk scene. The video shows furtive, uneasy black and whites of the band and contributor Jehnny Beth from the fucking amazing Savages. The video is crisp and adds that little extra element of starkness that pushes ‘Nichijyou’ into climax-of-the-Shining-level attention grabbing.

Bo Ningen are playing at the Big Day Out next year, so if you’re looking for a band that will probably put on a hell of a show, you should check ’em out.

New: Blank Realm-Falling Down The Stairs

Oh well, this is just a re-interpretation of ‘greatest thing in the world’. Blank Realm, a weird pop band from Brisvegas, have just released a new track from their upcoming record ‘Grassed In’. There’s a whole smorgasbord of shit going down on this song, and the rare combination makes it a contender for most glorious song of the year.

There’s some David Bowie vibes, circa Ziggy Stardust, there’s some off kilter, chewed up organ key sounds like Of Montreal or Handsome Furs, and there’s the Australian slacker-pop sound that’s so in vogue right now. The acoustic guitar strums ring only second to the off-key yelps in the chorus of ‘Who’s falling? Who’s falling? Who’s falling down the stairs tonight?’. Yeah, this song is fucking fantastic, and if you want to continue a cool, trendy existence, then Blank Realm are an integral part of that plan.

Album Review: Scott & Charlene’s Wedding-Any Port in a Storm

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AWWWWWWWWWW YISSSSSSSS! Mutha. Fuckin. Jangle. Pop. Jesus Christ, could Scott & Charlene’s Wedding be any more Australian? Firstly, you’ve got the band’s name, which besides being really fucking hard to say, and not sounding anything like a normal band’s name but a rather average event, is an all too subtle reference to  Neigbours. Then there’s the fact that frontman Craig Dermody (who started Scott & Charlene’s wedding all on his lonesome, and has also played participation in Lindsay Low Hand and Spider Vomit) is a beach bum babe. And the vocals are not dissimilar to that of Twerps, Dick Diver, Day Ravies, or Boomgates. All fantastic bands with all fantastic records to their names, but I’m going out on a limb here and claiming ‘Any Port in a Storm’ to be my favourite of the average Aussie narrative albums. It was a tough decision, almost as tough a decision as when Butch debates going  back to his apartment to get his father’s watch that was shoved up his ass, from Pulp Fiction.

‘Any Port in a Storm’ gets it’s bonus points for it’s casual warmth, and wears it’s amateur tendencies on it’s sleeve, displaying them proudly instead of shoving them in the corner like the incest cyclops son in Harold & Kumar. In fact, the opening track ‘Junk Shop’ makes it’s catchy chorus from ‘Yeah, you see my insides/they sing out of tune/ they go WAAAA-AHHH-AHHH-AH, They go WOAAHH-WOAAAHH-WOAAHHH’. Those big swoops of sound towards the end of the phrase are delivered in painful yet unabashedly bad singing, something you can’t help but admire and smile to. ‘Junk Shop’ is just the one-two punch out, followed swiftly by ‘Lesbian Wife’, a song I reviewed a couple of days, or weeks ago (memory of a goldfish). Be careful, as ‘Lesbian Wife’ is dangerously catchy, and you do not want to be caught singing that at the top of your lungs outside a lesbian bar. Just trust me on this one.

Besides the super down-to-earth, dude with a guitar and some pot vibes, another major point of the album is Craig Dermody’s residency in New York City. This comes up on tracks like ‘Fakin’ NYC’, ‘Gammy Leg’ and ‘Spring St’. It’s like Sonic Youth all over again, except completely different, and devoid of any arty 15 minute noise-feedback solos. Anyway, back to the topic of New York songs, ‘Spring St’ in particular inspires a longing and sadness song not felt  in a twee pop since the last Belle & Sebastian. When listening to it for the first time, it’s so subtle and nuanced, it almost seems like filler, but on closer inspection, it’s the standout of the album. It’s heartfelt and swoopingly beautiful and sort of acts as a general map of the entire album. In fact, it’s so goddamn heartbreaking, if you’re not blowing your nose and dabbing your eyes with tissues like the sullen twelvie you are, you are not a human being. And that’s a fact.

Simplicity works in favour in the album. Oh yes, it does. It works in favour of the album like a boner works in favour during a porn shoot. It almost seems like a given, but you’d be surprised at how often the vital element has disappeared. ‘Any Port in a Storm’ is so laidback, it makes Laidback Luke feel like a dickhead for even attempting to utilise the adjective. It’s so normal and average, yet heartfelt and warm, that it’s damn nigh impossible not to fall in love with every song on the album. Every description, every theme, every story, it all seems so random and trivial. However, these are the things that make Scott & Charlene’s Wedding a human and accessible band, a band that’s relatable to every Average Joe that’s had a shit day, wants to get the attention of a special lady, or can’t decide whether to spend the last of their rent money on booze or weed. Scott & Charlene’s Wedding have released such a great album in ‘Any Port in a Storm’, I feel like I might cry with happiness and how saved I feel right now. Wait, too late, Niagra Falls has proceeded in my bedroom, and the Sonic Youth poster is already mildly soaked. I need to stop listening to this fantazeballs album before I’m swimming in a water-protein solution.

Scott & Charlene’s Wedding-Lesbian Wife (free download)

‘Lesbian Wife’ is a title that will disappoint a lot of people. Thousands upon thousands of horny 13 year olds/recently confused husbands will type that phrase into Google, looking for 2 minutes of satisfaction, only to find…this brand new and amazing Scott & Charlene’s Wedding.

Scott & Charlene’s Wedding is a band from Melbourne, that have fucking exploded since their signing to Fire Records in England. It’s the same fucking label that Guided by Voices are on, how could shit not go perfectly for a slacker pop band? Regardless, Scott & Charlene’s Wedding have put in the hard yards and their more recent stuff, such as previous single ‘Fakin’ NYC’, is a nice build up from the older material on ‘Para Vista Social Club’.

Anyway, back to ‘Lesbian Wife’ and horny boys. ‘Lesbian Wife’ features the jangly guitar and deadpan vocals that we’ve come to expect from the band, but the song carries a little bit more weight than that. Sure, the swashbuckling narrative of the everyman done in blow-by blow-form that is favoured by Scott & Charlene’s Wedding  (as well as other exploding Aussie talents like Twerps and Dick Diver) is there, but there seems to be more confidence and prowess behind the song that pushes it from simple my-girlfriend-dumped-me territory, to a well-worn gem that the band should be more than proud of. Excellent lyrics (‘Keep on keepin’ on is my favourite song/that’s what I do, even when I’m wrong/on the outside I feel old, but I still don’t do what I’m told), a superb chorus that you’ll be singing to your grave, and the amount of fun and realism balanced with musical genius to ensure that it panders to even the most Calvin Harris-esque of fans.