Album Review: Gooch Palms – Introverted Extroverts

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Getting in on the ground level of a band that you go onto love is both good and bad. On the one hand, you get to see them develop from their scrappy beginnings, going from struggling with a couple of chords to unprecedented levels of success. On the other hand, there’s that risk of the band developing further and further away from what made you like them in the first place – The Westerberg Effect, if you will. This is the crossroads that I find myself staring at with The Gooch Palms, one of my all time favourites – on their second full-length album, where they going to make a Let It Be or an All Shook Down?

Newcastle’s Kat Friend and Leroy McQueen have made extraordinary progress since their humble beginnings as proud Novos flogging a Ramones covers EP on Bandcamp; it’s been crazy to see them go from support slots in Frankie’s Pizza to the Enmore Theatre. Their success is well deserved – since relocating to the USA and amidst a near constant touring schedule, their stage presence, (which was already full of Beavis butt tattoos and Twisted Sister covers) has been honed into them realising their potential as one of the most reliably entertaining bands to have called Australia home. So yeah, the live aspect still rules, but what about the new album? Have the Yanks diluted that ragged garage pop spirit that drew in so many eager punters like myself?

NOT AT ALL! Are you kidding me? You doubting piece of shit! Why the hell would you think the Gooch Palms would suddenly lose their magic? Listen to “Tiny Insight” above – that song fucking rules. That track is the equivalent of a 2 Dollar Tequila Night – two minutes, and you’re covered in sweat, shivering and intoxicated, delirious on the elixir of something sweet and jagged at the same time.

Fans of that driving, gonzo punk that propelled The Gooch Palms to cult status will not be disappointed – Introverted Extroverts is full of songs like “Living Room Bop”, “Eat Up Ya Beans”, “If You Want It” and “Sleep Disorder” that showcase that distinct Gooch Palms sound. Cutthroat riffs and throat-shredding chorus’ pure bred for an adoring crowd to belt back into the faces of the two disciples of the Church of Reatard. It’s colourful, inhibition-obliterating stuff – alcohol, with none of the calories and twice the flavour.

However, what’s really precious about Introverted Extroverts aren’t the mad dashes of lunatic garage but rather the ballads that sit pretty amongst the insanity. The songwriting chops of Kat and Leroy have been significantly expanded – although their debut Novos had highlights in the slow-burners “Don’t Cry” and “You”, but the fourth quarter half court shots of “Long Gone” and “Don’t Look Me Up” force you to look at the Gooch Palms in a whole new light. Not only can these guys slow their songs down, there’s none of the holding-up-a-flickering-lighter-anthem strength that coated their debut’s softer moments – these songs are naked; songs of stand alone incredibility.

I don’t think you’d ever apply the word ‘matured’ to the band with a frontman that constantly relives Andrew Johns’ Greatest Hits every time he’s onstage, but I don’t think I ever want The Gooch Palms to ‘mature’. I want them to keep that rawness, that screeching element that forces anyone to drop what they’re doing in fear and excitement. But I also want them to build as a band, to never put out the same records twice. And in Introverted Extroverts, the Gooch Palms have done that. They’re not the same band that I first saw – they’re better.  The Gooch Palms have evolved in the way that you want  a band to involve: without abandoning their roots but building upon them. And in that, they’ve swayed from the Westerberg Effect and landed squarely in the Husker Du Hypothesis: keep the fuckers pleasantly surprised with more the same unexpectedness. Mission accomplished.

Introverted Extroverts is out now through Gooch Palm’s own label Summer Camp Records, and available here. They’ll be swinging back through Australia in a few months time, playing Oxford Art Factory on August 20th, tix here.

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New: The Gooch Palms – Tiny Insights

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Poor Newcastle – the Knights came in dead last in the comp, and they haven’t won a premiership in over a decade! Things are looking dire, the people need a hero, but all three Johns (Andrew, Matty, Daniel) are all looking like pretty dodgy candidates these days.

Enter the unlikeliest of heroes – The Gooch Palms. In just under 12 months, Newy’s finest have relocated to the USA, played with everyone from No Age to Cumstain, travelled the country enough to make Lewis and Clark crosseyed, and still had enough time to get their debut album re-released on Burger Records. If anyone was going to stand out as role models for these Newy kids, the nude, costume-centric, guitar thrashing duo of The Gooch Palms couldn’t be more perfect.

Wait, fuck, I’m not even done yet…They’ve ALSO recorded a new album, which will be released on their own label at some point next year.Check out “Tiny Insights”, a return to the stomping, simple format that made everyone fall in love with this band in the first place. Leroy yelps and squeals, churning out a guttural riff that could’ve been plied from the cold, dead hands of a Ramone, whilst Kat smashes the shit out of the drums like she’s stapled the faces of her enemies into the skins. It’s brittle, boney garage done right, smashed out and sounding as ramshackle and fun as ever.

PS – THE GOOCH PALMS WILL BE BACK NEXT YEAR!!!! They’ll be tearing a new one at The Vic on the Park Hotel on the 1st of January, as well as playing a headline show at OAF on the 25th of Feb, with Los Tones and Wildhoney.

New: Us the Band – And I Will

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How did you spend your twentieth birthday? Tied up in a dominatrix chamber after downing a bottle of Jager? Yeah, me too. Except my dominatrix chamber was called Black Bear Lodge, and the dominatrix in question was actually two people: Nick and Jesse. And they were in a band. Called Us the Band. But I did drink a bottle of Jager. That part is true.

Anyway, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the beginning of another brutally mundane year full of DJ battles at corporate retreats. Us the Band are incredible: short, fast songs played way too loud. Also, lots of head banging. Lots and lots and lots of head banging. They unfortunately set a standard of breaking in a birthday that I don’t think I’m going to be able to top.

Anyway, this formidable twosome released a track called “Fallout” last year that made my breakfast shoot through me like I’d just swallowed a dozen flat whites in a row. They’ve been sitting idle for a while since then, but that’s only because they’ve been in the middle of some BUSINESS TIME! Us the Band have just signed with Rice is Nice Records, one of Australia’s finest, and home to Straight Arrows, The Laurels, SPOD and Richard in Your Mind.

They’ve also been spending a lot of time working in a video production studio, crafting a clip of Spielbergian film wizardry to accompany their new-ish song “And I Will”. Expect semi-nudity, strobe lights, and more masks than that orgy in Eyes Wide Shut. Oh, and head banging. Lots and lots and lots of head banging.

New From QLD: Sydney2000 + Donny Love + DRAGGS

a2087001811_10This heat has made it possible to empathise with our cousins to the North. May your air conditioners never break and your football teams only face each other in a Grand Final once:

Sydney2000 – _

Are they referring to our postcode, or to the greatest bloody Olympics of all fucking time? Cathy Bloody Freeman, am I right?

Turns out these guys are from Brisbane, and named their debut EP an underscore, which…fuck, is that an insult? I don’t know? Is Sydney an underscore to Brisbane’s greatness? I wouldn’t disagree with that, Brisbane’s great.

Anyway, who cares, just listen to the bloody EP. A free download of sharp, punchy garage punk, that sounds like Ausmuteants, Witch Hats or maybe The Wipers if they were signed to Flying Nun. When Sydney2000 get completely jilted is when things get exciting: take “Wink”, when the vocals feel like a washing machine with a mental patient and a guitar trapped inside. Round and round and round they go, crazed blasts spinning at the pace of a nice dry finish.

Donny Love – Sultry Visions EP

Cramps-loving swamp rock that opens with a song called “Cosmic Fuckfest 07”, Donny Love sound like they’re pretty much The North’s version of The Pinheads, or Los Tones. If they can prove they’ve got the live show to boot, well then it looks like there will be one hell of a three-way death match coming up on the horizon.

But that’s for the future to worry about. Right now, its time to lie down with some jaunty guitar ripped straight from a Halloween party in Hawaii. This EP is a horror soundtrack bloated with sand and beer, a manic interpretation from a bygone and happier era.

DRAGGS – DEMO

Filthier than The Islander Hotel come Schoolies week, Gold Coast’s DRAAGS prove that kids in Year 12 with fake ID’s and a desire for binge drinking goon aren’t the dirtiest things on Australia’s most terrifying strip. Their debut EP is packed with barrages of lo-fi shredding, each song mere minutes of full-blown garage rock tornados. Every track attempts to out-do the last – harder, faster, let’s beat them over the head even HARSHER this time.

Press play, you won’t regret it, but your bleeding fingers will. They’ll be begging your brain to stop huffing on this gruesome garage punk schlock that keeps beating your hands to a pulp, but you’ll ignore it once more, press play and repeat that brutal cycle until you’re dead and grinning.

New From Abroad: GØGGS + Spacin’ + Beach Slang

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I took some time out of spray-painting #Straya on the walls of the American Embassy to write about a few new bands they’ve produced worth a look into:

GØGGS – She Got Harder

This is probably the best thing that Ty Segall has done in years. It’s harder, and raw, bleeding with a punk energy that’s been notably absent from his most recent recordings. The blame for this renewed aggression can probably be dedicated to the inclusion of Chris Shaw of Ex-Cult, as well as Charles Moothart of Fuzz.

“She Got Harder” hurtles forward, slamming its way through wall after wall of expectation on the back of spiky guitars, gut puncturing drums and a demonic bass riff. GØGGS are paralysed with the notion that anything that can’t be said in two minutes flat isn’t worth saying at all. I gotta admit, its a belief that I hold onto very dearly as well.

Spacin’ – Titchy

Spacin’s ‘Deep Thuds’ was one of the first records I ever bought from Repressed Records. For me, it stands out as one of the best albums you can put on for when you want something that will keep you entertained for a long time without making you think too much or forcing you to thrash like a soccer player looking for a free kick. It’s simple, lo-fi garage-psych that never tries too hard. That’s precisely what you get in “Titchy” – blobs of lo-fi drool buzzing in a lazy, fun fashion for the whole family to sit down and suck down mescaline to.

Spacin’ have a new record coming out on Richie Records/Testoster Tunes, which is possible one of the best labels in the land of the ol’ USA. They’ve provided us with delights such as Home Blitz, King Blood, Taco Leg, Purling Hiss and even a lil’ Kurt Vile.  If you’re not on the Richie wagon, count yourself lucky that you stumbled upon this article when searching for lesbian dominatrix porn.

Beach Slang – Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas

Probably the most clean shaven track of the bunch, but Beach Slang still pack a punch. By stealing a shoegazer’s swag of pedals, punching things to a galaxy-traversing speed, and then switching between sweet serenade and 90’s alt rock yelp, Beach Slang remind of a cross breed of DIIV, Speedy Ortiz and Archers of Loaf. Keep delivering tunes like this one, and their album, ‘The Things We Do to People Who Feel Like Us’ is probably going to be a bit of a winner.

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

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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.

Album Review: Black Stone From the Sun – Death Threats & Cigarettes EP

This is a rock band. Not a rock band in the sense that they play guitars and drums and are kinda loud. Whoop de doo, that’s known as Eskimo Joe. Black Stone From the Sun are a rock band bound for fuck off massive stages. Their loudness demands it – they need to play with bigger speakers than what they supply at the pubs.  They need to be playing to thousands of people, all climbing on top of each other, desperate to get a hand to one of their instruments, which they can then they can later chop off and sell on eBay for thousands. Their music clamours to be blasted from a bedroom stereo, with the remote either controlled by a bunch of teenagers brimming with angst or by a recently divorced dad re-connecting with their youth. It doesn’t matter – this music belongs to anyone who constantly has their arms cocked in an air-guitar position.

On their second EP, Black Stone From the Sun propel themselves with a gnashing appreciation for grunge and garage. The mission statement is to instil tinnitus in the naive passerby, to rip the average Joe’s attention away from what they were previously doing, and immerse them in a riotous din. Although obviously indebted to Nirvana, Mudhoney and JEFF the Brotherhood, Black Stone aren’t ripping off, so much as they are continuing the standard of shredding their vocal chords and blunting fingernails for a listener’s sadistic pleasure.

Through six tracks, BSFTS plunder the grunge textbook, but consistently keep the bar at “Punch-A-Wall” levels. “Post-Stress” opens things up with a straightforward Bruce-Lee kick to the stomach of a riff, and introduces us to the snarl that could level the earthquake-proof apartments of San Francisco. “Pastel Roses” goes for the loud-quiet dynamic, but still manages to rip apart jaws with a chorus that could make the Sub Pop office perk up its ears. Meanwhile, “Tables Turned” showcases a new sense of urgency, and “Monkey” tears strips off with a hook of blistering rock, a finish that leaves you gasping for air, like if you’ve just put down your life savings on The Raiders taking out the Premiership.

Black Stone From the Sun play OAF Gallery Bar this Saturday, with freakin’ WHITE DOG! You can grab the EP from their Bandcamp here.

New: Los Tones – Jangle

Sydney’s Los Tones put out an A+ garage rock record last year. It was great. If it were a sandwich, it would’ve been a pork roll: cheap, delicious, and fulfilling.

Since putting out that record, they’ve been playing heaps. I mean, heaps. They’ve been playing more than Tom Cruise has been smashing skulls in Mission Impossible movies. I’m talking all over Europe, all over Australia, and all over Sydney, which is essentially a continent.

But they still had time to pump out a one more, before they jet off to Brazil, and Europe for a second time round. “Jangle” is a sly, slow groover, a Spaghetti Western with murky guitars instead of Clint Eastwood. It’s a bit more grounded than the stuff from their album, but that doesn’t mean that Los Tones have lost their ability to conjure a smoked out riff, as displayed on the ghoulish line that twists through “Jangle”.

Los Tones play the Frankie’s Vinyl Fair on August 16th, and then in Manly on August 21st.

Album Review: Golden Pelicans – Oldest Ride, Longest Line

I have absolutely no idea what Golden Pelicans are about. I have no idea who they are, who they sound like, what their favourite cereal is. None of that shit. All I know is that they’re from Florida, and they kick ass. Serious ass. They kick more ass than Steven Seagal in the mid 90’s. They kick more ass than AC/DC doing a private show for you and your buddies whilst in the midst of the Bon Scott-era. Shit, Golden Pelicans kick more ass than AC/DC kicking Stevan Seagal’s pudgy ass on the set of Under Siege 4. They’re fucking awesome.

Now, Golden Pelicans have released a fair bit of material, and all of it is essential. Their new album is no exception. ‘Oldest Ride, Longest Line’ is a descent into the bowels of riff-hell, a ride into the place where only Brian James, Blackie and Ron Asheton dare to tread. Golden Pelicans own debauchery in the same way that John Howard owns the bushy eyebrows/NOT BALD combo. They put themselves in reckless endangerment with every vocal and chord they are capable of shoving out of their mouths and fingers.

The end goal for Golden Pelicans is to be as raw and offensive as possible, and they achieve with honours. Take tunes like “Kunckledragger”, “Maggots” or “Low Fallutin” – the band blaze through these songs like they’ve been possessed by the souls of The Damned or The Boys circa debut album. Every song sounds similar, but every song contains the same type of disembowelling riffs that no other band seem capable of pulling off, so what’s the bloody problem? They unleash the kind of vitriol and spite that is usually only found in the fighting pits of Guatemala. It’s a dangerously foreign concept to bring to middle class ears, but goddamn don’t we need to hear it. The biting riffs bestow their power and fury with unrelenting passion, and whoever the fuck is singing has made it his mission to tear your ear off, Mike Tyson-style. There’s a couple Poltergeist-esque moments where Golden Pelicans reach beyond the speakers and practice their incendiary punk right in your very own living room, bellowing each chorus to unethical proportions.

Although this album doesn’t even break 20 minutes, it’s enough to make you shit the bed…twice. It’s fucked up and incredible, and if you’re eardrums haven’t blown out by the time those 17 minutes and 40 seconds have dried up, then you’ve screwed up somewhere along the way. This album is as essential as downing one of those Pizza Hut monstrosities with the Four ‘n’ Twenty Pies littered in the crust like swelling pimples ready to blow. If you need your face melted, you need this album.

Golden Pelicans rule, this album rules, Total Punk Records rules. Grab it here, or head to Repressed Records, pretty sure there’s some copies over that way.