Alternative Rock Album Reviews: Teenage Exorcists + Shape Breaker + Mavis Gary + Fat Children + Trick Mammoth + INVASIONS + July Days

Getting stuck into the album reviews again, this time from a fuckload of artists that deserve to be fucking knighted for their valiant efforts in promoting amazing music, via making amazing music.

 

Teenage Exorcists-Teenage Exorcists EP

At first, Teenage Exorcists come off like your average above-average indie rock band. They sound like they’re from California, the guitar fuzz is well rounded out by pretty great melodies, and the verses are smart and catchy. But then those solo’s crack in and change the perspective like you got hit in the face by a sledgehammer made of J Mascis riffs.

Specifically, the best thing about Teenage Exorcists, besides those amazing solos, is how smart they come off as a band. If Ball Park Music got Nick Zinner as a guitarist, then you’d have an idea of what I’m talking about. For example on ‘You Make Me Hippie’, there’s a line that goes ‘We can listen to Slayer, if that is what you love’. That’s probably the only line in an indie rock song of the past ten years that makes a positive and selfless reference to Slayer.

So, between the infectious-as-fuck chorus’, the Dino. Jr. solos and Vampire Weekend on crack indie rock that’s on display, its hard to find fault with Teenage Exorcists.

 

Shape Breaker-Eyes Wide

For those who like their indie rock with a sledge hammer right in the middle of their mind’s eye, then Philly’s Shape Breaker is the band to satisfy  that weird fetish of yours. They’re like a psychedelic band that got put in the tumble dry with the the guys from FIDLAR. There’s dirty, swashbuckling guitar solos abound, far-off stoner vocals and a bass that’s more fuzzed out of its mind than a bunny rabbit tripping on a heart dose of acid.

After hearing the first chords of ‘Climb Down’, I knew that I, along with the million or so garage rock fans that thrive on overdoses of reverb, would be 100% completely in love with this band. They’ve got an ethic and attitude akin to their contemporaries like The Orwells and Bass Drum of Death, so it surprises me that pitchfork hasn’t heralded this band as saviours of garage music yet. Oh well, that means that I get to do it. These guys are saviours of garage rock music, and you’d be more idiotic than a guy that waits on Coachella tickets to not grab this album while its still free. This band is fucking rad, and if it’s in your iTunes, then you’re rad as well.

Mavis Gary-Pin Me Up

And as soon as we were on the sunny coasts of indie rock California, we’re into Flying Nun territory. I really don’t give a fuck, do I? Anyway, Mavis Gary isn’t actually signed to Flying Nun (they’re on a label called The Attic) but they might as well be. They’re clean guitar pop is so reminscent of all those heyday Nun bands, that these guys could be a Clean cover band, straight up.

Mavis Gary’s dream-pop is dreamer than a bat of the eyelashes from the student that wants to bang our hero in the first Indiana Jones movie. Songs like ‘Pin Me Up’, ‘Dorothy Jean’, and the quaintly awesome ‘Colombine’ effectively combine that amazing softness with slacker attitude, that you’d swear you were listening to Yo La Tengo being suffocated in Chinese silk. If you’re a fan of Bearhug, Wilco or Sparkelhorse, then you’d be more than a fool to wait on this album-you’d be more fucking idiotic than Dennis Franz in Die Hard 2. If you understand that reference, then you’re my soulmate.

 

Fat Children-Three Quarters Of A Fistful

As a fat child, I find this band name offensive. But the fact that they sound like Les Savy Fav-goes-pop, and they’re from Dunedin puts them in the category of ‘I don’t give a fuck how offensive this band name is, I like them too much to care’. Insofar, there are no other bands that fit that very specific criteria, and as thus, they are the only ones in that category.

Anyway, the fact that they slide around like an obese man’s fat rolls in an anti-gravity machine is basically all there is to say about their music. That’s an overwhelmingly positive thing though. Fat Children are obviously an above-average band, with fantastic music. They’re most valuable quality is their ability to switch harshly between styles in the middle of the song, and have the only side effect being that the song becomes stronger. Case in point: ‘Caveat Venditor’. Within the frame of two and a half minutes, Fat Children wade between carnival swag, White Stripes-ish power riffage and more jangle than a man with baggy pants and too many coins in his pockets.

Basically, Fat Children override their highly offensive name that ridicules me to the very soul because their tunes are too good to simply forget about. Goddamn, those must be some tasty tunes. Congrats Dunedin, you’ve popped out yet another fucking amazing guitar-pop group. Why don’t you put your fucking feet up for a while and let Australians take their rightful place on the slacker throne.

 

Trick Mammoth-Floristry

Actually, on second thoughts, I just listened to Trick Mammoth’s ‘Floristry’ again, and it looks like the Kiwis have a handle on this shit. You go Trick Mammoth!

Trick Mammoth are the third and final band (in this article anyway) from Dunedin, New Zealand. However, when they sound something along the lines if Superchunk were attacked by Daniel Blumberg, the main guy behind Yuck and Hebronix, how could I not include them. There’s a super slow, romantic feel to all the music that Trick Mammoth flow forth with, and its as easy and breezy as a waltz down a quite New Zealand cobblestone road in the middle of an afternoon.

Overall, ‘Floristry’ will just mesmerise you the same way Day Ravies does: lightly and leaving you begging for more. Another fantastically stunning release from Fishrider Records.

 

INVASIONS-INVASIONS

Here are some things from Canada-maple syrup, Mike Myers, a really good friend of mine from high school who happens to be the coolest motherfucker around. Yeah, Canada is a pretty swell place. And we’re not even getting into the music stuff yet: Canada is host to some absolutely jaw-dropping talent like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Broken Social Scene. Forgetting the fact that it has also spawned fellow ‘musicians’ like Simple Plan, Drake and Shit-elback, Canada proves that its a goddamn goldmine of musical talent.

Just take a listen to the band INVASIONS. They hold true as fuck to their press release statement that they’re the lost soundtrack to a Quentin Tarantino movie that was never made. As tracks like ‘Born On A Wave’ and ‘Lovingly’ wring out, you can practically hear Link Wray jizzing his pants. INVASIONS brand of surf rock is drop dead sexy and more suave than James Bond as played by Sean Connery.

This is no more apparent on the album than on the beauty of a track ‘Rosy’. This song is like what would happen if George Clooney and Cheech Marin became really good friends on the set of From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, and decided to drop their movie careers to become surf rock stars with flair (Marin) and sex appeal (Clooney). I’ll leave it up the the band themselves to decide which character they personally reflect.

Anyway, the great thing about INVASIONS music is how they can be so effortlessly cool (it kinda comes with the territory of being in a surf rock band) and yet having this hopping, boiling sex-romp energy bubbling underneath like a predator. Fucking delectable.

 

July Days-The Night Is For Hunting

Going through the Facebook page of Melbourne rock quartet July Days, its not hard to see where they get their sound from. They supported Darren Middelton, the guitarist of Aussie rock icons Powderfinger (who also produced this album). They linked an article from Noel Gallagher of Oasis, lamenting about radio not playing Aussie bands. And a listen to any of their tracks reveals a penchant for hooks akin to the likes of Crowded House.

In fact, listening to July Days is like going through a patchwork of radio ready rock acts. The band have taken these bands, pastiched them together, and created a sound that will be comforting for listeners. Although this doesn’t push the boundaries, it undoubtedly sounds pretty good. There’s the recalling of the likes of The Killers and Kaiser Chiefs on the track ‘Should’ve Told Me’, and their acoustic tracks are akin to the stylings of more modern favourites like The Rubens and The Trouble With Templeton.

Regardless, July Days have put out a pretty strong debut album. Whilst they do put their influences right at the centrefold of their music, they manage to maintain a strong hold on the listener throughout the album.

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New: Tape/Off + Girl Band + Forests + White Lodge + Francis Lung (former Wu Lyf) + The Solicitors + Ernest Ellis

New songs are like herpes: you can’t get rid of them, and although they might annoy you at times, they make you a better person. Or something like that. None of these songs are annoying. In fact, they’re all awesome.

Tape/Off-Pedestal Fan

The Brisbane connection for Tape/Off isn’t too hard to listen out for in their new single ‘Pedestal Fan’.  Tape/Off are similar to other Brisbanauts Violent Soho and DZ Deathrays, but slightly more brutal, like an elephant charging through a cymbal shop. The tight snares, semi-bellowed vocals and raucous nature of the song makes people like me tight in the loins. But, despite the noise orgy, there’s a bit of melody shining through, turning your average schizophrenic guitar mess. Although short as fuck, ‘Pedestal Fan’ hits the sweet spot that makes garage and punk fans drool like someone shoved a water balloon down their throats.

Girl Band-Lawman

More cut-throat savagery, this time from Girl Band. The first thing you’ll probably notice about their track ‘Lawman’, is that its really quiet. It starts at a factory-floor pace, chugging along the conveyer belt. All of a sudden, there’s an unloading of squealing, dirty guitar. And it doesn’t stop, just torrents of noise, kind of like what I imagine happens every time Thurston Moore took a shit back in the late 80’s. The song is absolutely beautiful and distorting, taking sudden turns destroying your brain and haphazardly trying putting it back together. When the song finishes, your mind will look like a half-melted candle assembled by a 3 year old with the motor skills of an iguana on crack. Loud, vicious and entirely unpredictable, ‘Lawman’ is fucking rad.

Forests/White Lodge Split 7″

Now, getting slightly more friendly, but not even close to being out of the fuzz zone, its a split 7″ between the glorious White Lodge and a band called Forests. Forests (not to be confused with Forest Swords, or actual forests) are from Taiwan. I know fuck all about Taiwan, so from now on, if anyone asks, I’ll just say that it’s a place in South East Asia where an awesome band called Forests is located. Super-dooper-Koopa-Trooper they are, with a sound that could place nicely in any Ty Segall record. The fuzz overloads on the Forest songs ‘Ego Bender’ and ‘The Fall’ are ripped right from the heart of the current San Fran psych-garage scene, and it could not have been executed better if it were done by John Dwyer himself. The songs are bright, sparkly, and best of all, absolutely keeling over on overdosed acid-tinged guitar freakouts. Fucking brilliant.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the 7″, its Queensland-reppin’ psych lords White Lodge. Interestingly enough, they’ve moved away from the heavy psych, and into the lighter territory of Burnt Ones/Thee Oh Sees styled psych-garage. ‘Her Spell’ hops along at a breakneck pace, the surf-rock verses just a faint illusion that is smashed apart by the grovelling, blood-stained chorus. ‘Flower Eyes’ sees a slight return to the slowed-down badassery, but only at the beginning. It soon divulges to be another fast-paced, speed-laced flower-pop tune like The Black Lips used to make. Regardless, this 7″ needs to be owned by all lovers of anything good.

Francis Lung (former Wu Lyf)-A Selfish Man

I was a massive fan of Wu Lyf, and their self-described ‘Heavy Pop’, and it came as a bit of a blow when they broke up. They were one of the few ‘indie rock’ bands that really challenged the cocoon of sound that most bands had adopted to sell a fuck load of records. Now that the band is a thing of the past, former member Francis Lung has struck out on his own with this debut track ‘A Selfish Man’. There’s a lot going on here, but you wouldn’t know it. Lung manages to compact all the sounds on the song, and weave it into a beautiful little tapestry. And, yeah its smooth as fuck, like Ron Burgundy wearing silk.

https://soundcloud.com/the-solicitors-1/help-me-forget

The Solicitors-Help Me Forget

Power-pop is a genre that more or less faded after the 80’s. There hasn’t been any heaps, heaps ultra gewd power-pop bands that spring to mind that were around after Replacements’ ‘Pleased to Meet Me’, and in my mind, Weezer doesn’t make the cut as an altogether power-pop band. However, The Solicitors are well-placed in that genre beyond any shade of doubt. The positive-ness that radiates off the negative nature of the songs is so unsubtle, its like a warzone of good times. Like their hero Alex Chilton, The Solicitors make the kind of catchy pop that resonates for a while after the song has finished.

Ernest Ellis-Shine Like Me

It seems like Ernest Ellis is always bringing out new shit for his loyal disciples to froth over. That’s not a bad thing, by the way. That’s a really, really good thing. And it just got better, via the track ‘Shine Like Me’. His beautiful vocals drop over a sharp and delicate guitar pattern, whilst bright keys occasionally dance underneath. And then that chorus hits, and boom, you’re hooked like Dustin Hoffman’s character for the 1991 smash hit Peter Pan sequel. ‘Shine Like Me’ is a gratingly brilliant song, that again shows off the amazing skillz of Ernest Ellis.

If you’re keen for more Ernest Ellis, he’s bringing out a new record in March, and will be playing a show at Brighton Up Bar on February 28. Schweeeeeet!