R.I.P Chopper Reid Playlist

Chopper Reid was an Australian hero. Sure, he did a lot of crazy shit back in the day, but through and through he represented core Australian values of mateship, honesty and loyalty. He served as the best Australian anti-hero since Ned Kelly, and its a shame to hear of his passing. By now, with the books, Heath Franklin’s hilarious parody, and the biopic film starring Eric Bana, you would’ve heard the name Chopper somewhere. This playlist serves to honour a fallen hero. It’s chock full of gritty punk songs from the underground, just like Chopper. There’s stuff from the 80’s (The Replacements, Fugazi, Flipper), and some newer punk (FIDLAR, METZ, Tyvek) and some Australian classics (The Scientists, Lubricated Goat). And of course, there’s the underground Australian shit that has more energy in it than a writhing Komodo Dragon. But they all show the side of Chopper Reid that Australia knew and loved: hard, fun-loving and dedicated.

1. Fugazi-Do You Like Me

2. FIDLAR-Cheap Beer

3. Chicks Who Love Guns-Run People

4. The Replacements-Customer

5. Witch Hats- Ma Birthday

6. Destruction Unit-Slow Death Sounds

7. Flipper-Be Good, Child!

8. Future of the Left-The House that Hope Built

9. Reckless Vagina-Dollarhyde

10. Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys-Nobody Else

11. Lubricated Goat-In The Raw

12. The Scientists-Set It On Fire

13. TV Colours-Bad Dreams

14. METZ-Get Off

15. Danzig-Mother

16. Tyvek-4312

17. The Mission of Burma-1,2,3 Partyy!

18. The Wipers-Mystery

19. Royal Headache-Down the Lane

20. The Gooch Palms-We Get By

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Top 10 Albums of All Time-1 Year Celebration Fuck Yeah

This is the second of the three articles I’m writing to celebrate my shitty blog. It is a compilation of my Top 10 Favourite Albums of All Time. Honourable Mentions go to The Clash-The Clash, Blur-Parklife, Gorillaz-Demon Days, Pixies-Surfer Rosa, The Stooges-Raw Power, David Bowie-Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, The Scientists-Self Titled (The Pink Album), Dan Deacon-Spiderman of the Rings, Die!Die!Die!-Harmony, Sonic Youth-Rather Ripped/Daydream Nation, The Prodigy-Fat of the Land, Bloc Party-Silent Alarm, The Cramps-Pyschedelic Jungle/Song the Lord Taught Us,  The Strokes-Is This It, Crystal Castles-Crsystal Castles II, DJ Shadow-Endtroducing…, The Bronx-The Bronx I, Eddy Current Suppression Ring-Primary Colours, My Bloody Valentine-Loveless, The Soft Pack-The Soft Pack, The Hives-Black and White Album, Green Day-Dookie (fuck you man, this is my list), Mudhoney-Superfuzz Bigmuff, No Age-Nothing in Between, The Black Keys-Brothers, The Birthday Party-Prayers on Fire, Wavves-King of the Beach, Nirvana-In Utero, Grinderman-Grinderman II, The Dandy Warhols-Welcome to the Monkey House, The Cure-Three Imaginary Boys, Step-Panther-Step-Panther, and Shellac-1000 Hurts.

An album is an incredible thing. It can never be underrated as a singles fest. A record has the ability to transport an array of powerful emotion and context into a 30 minute-1 hour celebration or disintegration of life. A record is a powerful tool, works of art that work cohesively to take things from mere musical pieces to form a connection with the listener that they will never forget. These are my favourite albums that have had a prominent impact on my life.

10. The Avalanches-Since I Left You: This album marked the transition for me from punk to a broader range of music. After hearing the singles ‘Since I Left You’ and (of course) ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’, I became incredibly curious about this album. Accolades upon accolades have been heaped on this album, and the band is one of the few still shrouded in mystery. Through this album completely controlled by samples of others music, The Avalanches created a masterpiece. Some believe it is overrated, however I beg to differ. Where people see unnecessary praise, I see an album that ebbs and flows with a control and  daunting power that most bands could never even think of achieving, let alone express with such nonchalant charisma. ‘Since I Left You’ is a fucking masterpiece of textured beauty.

9. The Killers-Hot Fuss: The Killers first two albums are pure pop-rock genius. I would consider them the modern David Bowie’s. Sure, they might have fallen right off the fucking track with their recent ‘Battle Born’ album, but there is no denying that ‘Hot Fuss’ is a delicacy, capturing every corner of the market. From the earnest ‘Mr Brightside’ and ‘Smile Like You Mean It’, to the sinister ‘On Top’. And who can forget ‘Somebody Told Me’, dance floor rock meets charisma. The Killers did it on ‘Hot Fuss’ before Franz Ferdinand even got the idea. Purely amazing, cohesive album.

8. The Prodigy-Invaders Must Die: ‘Invaders Must Die’ remains my favourite of Prodigy albums, simply because it doesn’t get bogged down at all. It doesn’t contain eight minute rave solos that start to drag on, but instead just constantly pushes out solid electronic music, track after track. Sure, ‘Stand Up’ slows down the album considerably, but it remains a fun track. For the rest, just look at tracks like ‘Invaders Must Die’, ‘Thunder’, ‘Warriors Dance’ and ‘Take Me To the Hospital’. It’s jam packed with deadly jams, and remains one of the my favourite Prodigy, and electronic albums.

7. Queens of the Stone Age-Songs for the Deaf: This is an album of absolutely insane proportions. Based on a ‘bored’ listener flicking through radio stations, the album forms. This simple but effective technique absolutely hammers home the themes of loneliness, desperation, and total weirdness in ‘Songs for the Deaf’. The desert aspect of desert-rock is no more clearly achieved on any album of the genre than on ‘Songs for the Deaf’. Everything about it is creepy but cool, and blown to total exageration. One of the most interesting and original albums to come out in recent history. And c’mon, it’s got Dave Grohl on drums, and features ‘No One Knows’. How could it not be a guaranteed amazing album?

6. Sonic Youth-Goo: Sonic Youth have produced so many amazing albums, of course one of them was bound to be my favourite. Although, ‘Bad Moon Rising’, ‘EVOL’, ‘A Thousand Leaves’, ‘Dirty’ and ‘Confusion is Sex’ are all fantastic, brilliant albums, but ‘Goo’ takes the cake. Why? Because it is one of alternative rock’s greatest albums for a reason. Sonic Youth sound incredibly straight forward on the record, but just when you start to get comfortable, it’ll shock your system with a powerful experimental riff that blows your brains out. Take ‘Mildred Pierce’ for example, with it’s solid riff continuing until the nearing of 2 minutes, when Thurston Moore repeatedly screams of ‘Mildred Pierce! Mildred Pierce!’, implementing a cacophony of disturbia. This mainly stays true for the entire album, with good offset by the weird, and interpretive. For this reason, ‘Goo’ rises above the traditional dorward-thinking Sonic Youth fare, and transcends into intriguing and compelling listening. ‘Kool Thing’, ‘Dirty Boots’, and ‘My Friend Goo’ are also essential Sonic Youth tracks to most fans, and staples of the Sonic Youth catalogue, so having them all shining on the one album is pretty great.

5. Weezer-The Blue Album: Weezer’s ‘Blue Album’ was a marked difference from mainstream rock music upon it’s release. While most teenagers were obsessed with heavy metal, or flannel grunge, Weezer released some nerd rock, heartfelt geek music. And it fucking gelled. The singles of ‘Buddy Holly’, ‘Say It Ain’t So’, ‘My Name is Jonas’, and ‘Undone: The Sweater Song’ hold as true as they did then. But then again, so does the rest of the album. It’s an amazing record from start to finish, that’s pace and depth only rise as the record continues. Plain songs with surprising insight are ‘The Blue Album’s’ forte, and it’s executed most perfectly.

4. JEFF the Brotherhood-Heavy Days: The most recent of my favourite albums, it stands out because it’s probably the one I listen to most consistently. There will never be a point in time in which I skip a JEFF the Brotherhood song from this album on my iPod. Every track is utterly engaging, turning what could be completely average garage rock into an entertaining and smooth artwork. Song melts into the one another, however they are all unique enough to hold themselves as signals. Opener ‘Heavy Days’, with it’s droning, fly buzz intro, is completely different but equally amazing as the happy go lucky ‘Bone Jam’ or the coming of age anthem ‘Growing’. Overall, ‘Heavy Days’ excites as much as it shocks and pleases. And you can’t mention ‘Heavy Days’ without swooning in the same breath about the ultra heavy neo-pysch of ‘Mind Ride’ and ‘Heavy Damage’.

3. Fugazi-13 Songs: Introduced to me at the same point as Shellac, I’ve always preferred Fugazi’s material over Minor Threat. I find the experemintalism of Fugazi’s ’13 Songs’, and they’re willingness to get a message across in a subtler, more educative form is a far more powerful tool than Ian MacKaye’s previous attempt of screaming. ’13 Songs’ is more than an average punk record, in that it’s more intelligent and textured than anything else put out. If the Ramones, the Dead Boys and Black Flag all hung out, it might create something like ’13 Songs’. Sludgy yet light, angry yet thoughtful, harsh yet understanding, the juxtapositions on ’13 Songs’ are endless, and songs like ‘Margin Walker’, ‘Bulldog Front’ and the stunning ‘Waiting Room’ ensure it’s classic status.

2. Dinosaur Jr.-Green Mind: One of the first alternative albums I bought, along with Tool’s ‘10,000 Days’, The Dandy Warhols’ ‘Welcome to the Monkey House’ and Alice in Chains’ ‘Face Lift’. Of all those, ‘Green Mind’ has been the most enduring because of the powerful connection J Mascis manages to confer with the listener. Although it’s not considered a ‘classic’ Dinosaur Jr. album, due to Lou Barlow’s absence and Murph’s limited contributions, J Mascis still manages to create a deep, thriving atmosphere on the album that really pushes limitations. Maybe it’s because it was my introduction to Dinosaur Jr., but I’ve always favoured ‘Green Mind’. But it’s probably due to the killer tracks on the album that just build and build towards a heartbreaking crescendo of ‘Thumb’ and ‘Green Mind’. Not that the album acts as ladder to the final tracks, far from it. ‘The Wagon’, ‘Puke + Cry’, and ‘How’d You Pin That One on Me’ are all essential Dinosaur Jr. tracks that everyone, including myself, loves intensely. Like the album artwork, a photo of a young girl smoking, ‘Green Mind’ is a powerful, drastic record that pays off with it’s honesty, toeing the line with cliche, but containing enough genuine awesomeness to solidify it’s place as one of the greatest records of all time.

1. The Ramones-The Ramones: If you don’t like this album, then we cannot be friends. There is literally nothing wrong with it, as it is a flawless record. This was the record that set the cornerstone of punk, and adapted a pedestal for people to admire. Definitive buzz saw guitars, simplistic chord structures, and some of the most no-brainer lyrics ever written (‘Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue/Now I Want Have Something to Do’) all combine to make a landmark record. The Ramones crafted addictive punk trash that is invaluable to both the history of music and music itself. It is completely revolutionary, and faultlessly executed. Most remember the debut as the album which had ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’. You know it…’Hey Ho! Let’s go! It was in a Stephen King novel, and it’s only one of the most fire-up worthy songs in existence. However, it also features gems like ‘Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue’, ‘Havana Affair’, ‘Beat on the Brat’, ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend’, ‘Judy is a Punk’ and ‘I Don’t Want to Go Down to the Basement’. In fact, every song on the album is worthy of timeless distinction. Combining a hard, fast, loose musical principle with razor-sharp charm and slacker wit, The Ramones made a masterpiece that is my, and I’m sure countless others, favourite album of all time.

The Difference Between Indie & Interesting-An Essay

There is a facet of music that has annoyed me, and countless bands, for as long as popular music has existed: being pigeonholed. There is nothing worse than slaving over a piece of music, crafting a melody or a rhythm, re-imagining a sample, toiling on lyrics until you wake up in a pile of your own vomit from how amazing your poetry is (not speaking from personal experience), and proudly releasing your gift of musical beauty into the world…only to have it thrown back in your face as a categorised, labelled misconstruction, to be tossed up on a shelf with a bunch of bands that everyone will associate you with from now until when the Titans inevitably rule the Earth. Take the case of The Preset’s ‘My People’, a dance thumper about, I shit you not, boat people. However the political nature of the song was misinterpreted as a party anthem, and was shat out in all the clubs across the country. Or The Clash’s ‘Rock the Casbah’, a highly satirical song that viciously tore into the government, that has been reduced to being the song your parents awkwardly shuffle to in the living room. No, pigeonholing sucks balls. I’ll admit, that occasionally in reviews, I take a creative license and compare a band to something that might not spring to everyone’s mind when they here the song, such as when I recently compared X-Ray Charles to Beat Happening and The Modern Lovers. However, this is my website and my opinion….soooo, yeah fuck you  if you take personal offence to my comparisons between bands that I find have musical similarities for broader identification.

However, this is not simply about subtext or great bands past their heyday; this is about the highly negative effects of pigeonholing, namely throwing in bands of actual worth with the dreaded pseudonym of indie, or hipster depending on your cultural geography. It’s a brand that has a certain sting to it, one that recalls pasty kids in buttoned up floral shirts and way too tight pants, spouting how they ‘knew about this band before anyone else’, typing a post-romantic dramedy novella on a Macbook pro in a delicatessen on Broadway whilst sipping a flat-white cappuccino. Click here to visually comprehend if Lucifer was more of a douchebag. Although, for me personally, that doesn’t look like an astoundingly fun person, and they come off as rather cynical and two-dimensional, these indie scum do exist. They are the ones who scan Pitchfuck daily for bands they can worship before actually hearing anything, who single handedly keep Pabst Blue Ribbon in vogue, and made ridiculous clothing ‘cool’ (who the fuck likes fedoras?). But by far, their worst crime is the diluting of the indie genre.

Now before I continue, I would like to point out two things. Firstly, the inspiration for this essay was ‘How Did Indie Get So Safe’ on Fasterlouder by Edward Sharp-Paul; it’s a great, short essay (shorter than this one anyway) and it’s better than the majority of things you’ll read, besides Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Secondly, I’m about to insult a whole heap of indie bands that I find personally shitty. I understand that music is subjective, and this is not an argument about your personal music tastes. However, if you are one that enjoys the superfluously repulsive sounds of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Two Door Cinema Club, or Last Dinosaurs, I suggest you stop reading. Or not, you might find your new favourite band amongst those I find incestuous. Isn’t critiquing wonderful?

Anyway, there is a major problem with Indie music: it is too broad and too bland. When someone screams ‘OMG THIS BAND IS SAH INDIE’, it’s hard to know what they actually mean. Are they talking about Animal Collective, with their rich, multi-textured palettes of soundscapes, or the statistically terrible The Apples in Stereo? Did they mean Midnight Juggernauts’ pandering new album or Fugazi’s furious 1988 debut EP? It’s hard to know anymore. Then, there are so many sub-categories and niches, all with the title of indie slammed onto the front like an awkward boner sticking out of an 8th Grader’s pants: indie-rock, indie-pop, indie-electronica, indie-punk, indie-folk,indie-hip hop, indie-chill, indie-kill, indie-shank, indie-wank…the list goes on, and only about half of those are made up. Personally, you can chuck Phoenix, Passion Pit and Peter, Bjorn and John anywhere you want in there, it won’t change the fact that they’re shit. Most of these bands, despite declaring themselves indie, pander to a mainstream demographic. They play the dress up game and Domino Record Contract card, but the statistics speak for themselves. Vampire Weekend debuted their third album at no. 1 on the US Billboard Charts. Mumford and Sons won The Grammy for Album of the Year for ‘Babel’. Boy & Bear picked up 5 ARIA awards for their debut album, and will probably destroy the charts again this year, when they release their second album. Please, please do not misinterpret this as me saying that because these artists are ‘mainstream’ that they are shit. I’m merely pointing out that they have incredibly derivative music that in no way challenges the listener like independent music should. 

This brings me to my actual point, and I’m kind of sorry that it took so long to reach this statement. There are a fuckload of good bands out there that are getting thrown in with that indie tag. Just because a band is independent does not make them indie anymore. No, the cohesiveness of that identification got thrown out a long time ago, as soon as Interpol and The Strokes started getting popular. Both these bands are pretty good in their own way, however once they started and the indie ‘genre’ got picked up, about a million different bands started mimicking a sound and aesthetic similar to theirs that was in no way original, but was regardlessly hailed as being the next big thing. How many times can you open an NME or Rolling Stone and find them hailing ‘The Next Big Indie Thing’? Sure, it’s lovely for the band, but it has ruined all traction for the term indie. Initially, when the ‘indie scene’ popped up in America and Europe in the 1980’s, there was a certain amount of respect that came with the title. As Michael Azzerad’s biography of the 80’s indie scene, ‘Our Band Could Be Your Life’ describes, it was fucking hard to be indie. Bands like Black Flag and Dinosaur Jr. had to fight tooth and nail to get any exposure. Now, when the word indie pops up, all I can imagine is some Grizzly Bear sound-alike that will inspire absolutely no regard from anyone but the NME. Not that it matters too much to the band anyway, because they’re probably slathered in cocaine and bitches. Some bands, like San Cisco or Grouplove even come like pre-pacakged indie goods, ready made for the ‘indie addict’. However, it does matter to the independent bands that get slapped with the title of indie and hauled into a case of anonymity. There are now so many bands nowadays that consciously pander to the indie Triple J masses, that when a genuine band that comes around that happens to be independent and good, they are promptly blasted with ‘indie cred’, frothed over for approximately a week by hipsters, and then dropped by their ‘diehard new fans’ and left abandoned and disenchanted by their old ones.

There are a whole crop of new Australian acts that are legitimately interesting that I am fearful will get manhandled by indie-ness. Aussie Bands like Beaches, Dick Diver, Bleeding Knees Club, Royal Headache and Bored Nothing are all in close proximity to being swept in viva la indie, and promptly tossed into oblivion. Likewise, there’s international bands such as DIIV, Beach Fossils, King Tuff, and Savages who could suffer the same fate. For others, such as the cases of Flume, CHVRCHES, Tame Impala and Jagwar Ma, it’s probably too late, and it’ll only be a couple years before a ‘throwback’ reunion tour. This is fucked. Totally fucked. Firstly, because all of the bands mentioned above are bright young talents. It’s too early for them to go. It’s before their time. Secondly, these bands are not indie, and could be easily defined by other genres, if at all. Finally, it’s not fair to compare them to a band like Jinja Safari or Ball Park Music, each leaning strongly on obvious influences or mediocrity. The bands at the beginning of the paragraph are all highly interesting, highly capable acts worthy of a different attention that eschews Arcade Fire and Death Cab for Cutie Fans. Save your Augie March for when you’re bored on the bus. If you want something of captivating interest, check out Holy Balm, an electronica act that breaks all the rules of electronica. Or Ausmuteants, a band that could simply not give less of a shit. Or even Kirin J Callinan, the previous guitarist for Mercy Arms, Jack Ladder and Lost Animal, who recently tried to make a guy have a live seizure on stage at Sugar Mountain Festival earlier this year, all for the sake of art. These bands are all independent, Australian, and most importantly, interesting. They are not a bunch of acts to be randomly lumped in on an ‘indie playlist’ with the likes of Swim Deep or Father John Misty.

It’s 4 am on a Friday, and I don’t even really know what I’m saying anymore. Perhaps when I review and edit this tomorrow, it will make more sense. Perhaps it won’t. What I’m trying to say is this: I’m not going out of my way to insult the music taste of all the hipsters out there, I’m sure Snakadaktal’s debut album will be awesome. What I want to prove, like the Fasterlouder article, is that indie music has gotten quite safe and uninteresting, and I think that it has to do with the wide variety of ‘indie’ music, and the sea of music that most won’t bother to uncover. Indie isn’t indie anymore, that’s the problem. And if you try to make something not indie into indie, it will most probably get totally buried. Instead of hash tagging #indie to every band you hear on Triple J, perhaps take a listen first, and then figure out if they actually sound like The Postal Service and Modest Mouse, rather than just being new. And instead of buying the new Foster the People, spend your money on the new POND and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard albums. It’ll pay off in the long run.

Album Review: Yes, I’m Leaving-Mission Bulb

Finally, I’m going to bring back some punk to this blog. It’s kind of been bogged down with the illustrious scene of garage, and negative reviews of a certain French house duo’s recently disapointingly overhyped album, but the time has come to delve back into the realm of punk. Sydney hasn’t really had a definitive flag-bearer for the punk category as of late. I’m not talking about old school legends like The Hard-Ons, Radio Birdman or The Celibate Rifles, or the awesome garage styled punk of bands like Royal Headache or Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys. I’m talking about the intense, lit up, bonfire kind of punk, that screams and ricochets through your brain at ungodly speeds, and with the fury of a warthog on meth. However, that has all changed with the recent release of Yes, I’m Leaving’s album ‘Mission Bulb’.

As of May 22nd, the boys from Parramatta have just released their third record, and second on Tenzenmen Records, a local label that can’t seem to do bad. If it’s unique, and it’s good, there’s a solid chance it got released on Tenzenmen. If you see the name, and you’re into having your earholes petrified, ensure you grab it. For a bit of context, they’ve released stuff by heroes such as Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing, Hira Hira, and Skip Skip Ben Ben. Not just content with releasing the best of heavy stuff, Tenzenmen also delve into releasing just plain fantastic alternative stuff, as the last band I mentioned will prove. However, Tenzenmen mainly release heavy, expiremntal and punk stuff, and it’s always going to be a thrill ride, one way or another, as ‘Mission Bulb’ proves. Yes, I’m Leaving have been around on the scene for a little while, gigging and honing their craft of Dischord Records-like punk to a nihilistic perfection, and it comes out for sure on the record.

The mention of Dischord above was not a throwaway either. Yes, I’m Leaving certainly contains the drawl and angry drive of bands like Fugazi, Nation of Ulysses or Rites of Spring. Each song on the record pushes forth with a ferocity that only a genuine band like the aforementioned actually possessed. This is an incredibly rare, and beautiful thing to listen to. To actually hear the self-hating and snarling lyrics on ‘Four Chorder’: ‘And as I look in the mirror, I just see my eyes/ the reflection of you that has been compromised’ followed by an undulating, harshly screamed chorus is proof that punk’s not dead. This is all wrapped in a killer Drive Like Jehu-lite riff that hooks the listener with sharp daggers of crazy venom. A pleasure to listen to.

The entire album is like this, just picturesque punk done in slam-dancing, white eyed rage, blaring like the horn of a truck barrelling down on a highway. Every line is sent with the vocal chords straining to their limit, the guitars bleeding a sound of coarse deliverance, unholy and beckoning. The drums crash and force the beat into near oblivion, and the bass is so blazing it’s just a tornado of sound. Lead singer Billy Burke deserves special mention for his nasally sing-song shout; it is this unique voice, as well as the excellent musicianship, that separates Yes, I’m Leaving from the usual punk kerfuckle (not a spelling error), and gives the songs the hurtling-to-a-precipice tone that is rare and very appreciated.

The plunging, razor-edged tone of ‘Mission Bulb’ is a jackhammar to the gonads; a perpetual state of nose-dive affairs that highlights disaster in the most infectious way possible. It’s an untainted record, brimming with noisy capability, catastrophically good, and will give you nosebleeds in the opening chords. It’s the album that punks the world over have all been waiting for, and it’s just Sydney’s luck that they picked up these bruisers. I highly recommend getting this album, so you have something to listen to next time you want to punch a helicopter into dust, because you’re just that fucking mad!

Yes, I’m Leaving are playing in Sydney at The Casula Powerhouse June 7th, and at Black Wire Records June 29th. I’m pretty sure their live show is better than seeing donkeys guillotine Optimus Prime. You can buy ‘Mission Bulb’ and their previous Tenzenmen release ‘Nothing’ for a coupla bucks off their Bandcamp, and their debut is going for free. Enjoy some o’ that gewwwwwwwwd punk.