New: Unity Floors – Moving to Melbourne

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Gus Hunt and Henry Gosling were two of the first people I met in Sydney who were in a band. Actually, not even just a band – they were in Unity Floors, one of the coolest and funnest bands that exists in this city. This was the same band that wrote deadset hits like “Nice Fit” and “Holy Hell”. And they were really cool in person as well! Fuck, my 18 year old head was spinning faster than when I downed my first tequila shot a week prior.

Fast forward two years and many Unity Floors shows later, and my heart is in my mouth when I see that the new single from the band’s upcoming Life Admin record is called “Moving to Melbourne”. Piss off! No way! What? Why? Is Sydney seriously about to lose two of its’ biggest legends/best songwriters? Just because the rent is astronomically high and Circle Pit broke up? C’mon, think about all the money you could win at the casino!

Actually, “Moving to Melbourne” has more to do with the cliche of moving to AUSTRALIA’S ROCK CAPITAL™ than the actual decision to move there. It’s that rash move that accompanies recent pain and/or heartbreak, and deciding to fuck it all off and start afresh.

Luckily, Unity Floors aren’t actually pissing off to embroil themselves at nights at the Tote and debates on flat whites vs. espressos, and will be sticking around with their GBV-inspired songs for a few more weeks. Catch ’em playing for free at The Union on May 28th, with Us the Band and Abigail and Daisy, or June 1st at Rad in Wollongong with Solid Effort and Abigail and Daisy.

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New Guitar Pop: Ciggie Witch + Scott & Charlene’s Wedding + Gentlemane + Terry + Chook Race + Shearin’ + Cousin Tony’s Band New Firebird

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Just a couple A+ delicacies for your Wednesday night if you’re in the mood for a bit of a jingle jangle:

Ciggie Witch – Walking the Tracks

One of the crowning achievements of my short life thus far is when Ciggie Witch dedicated a song to me at the Fitzroy Bowls Club during a Bedroom Suck Presents gig. Side note: the combination of those three pronouns has made that sentence the most Australian line of dialogue ever written.

Anyway, sink your teeth into this new hazy beauty from the Ciggie Witch camp. This time round, old mate Zach expresses his anxieties of balancing happiness in a song as sick as Steven Seagal’s ponytail.

Scott & Charlene’s Wedding – Delivered

Been a while since we heard the flashy twang of S+CW, and it’s bloody to good to have them back! There’s that some old yelp, that same old propulsive melody, and a chorus that’s born to be belted from the bedroom of frustrated folks all around Australia.

PS wait for the guitar solo at the end there – feels like you’re being used as mouthwash in the bill of a pelican, tossed around in a machine of bleeding reverb. 10/10

Gentlemane – The Year of Trip

This album is typically more lost in love that your typical jangly record, but you know what? That’s alright by me. I’ve been feeling a little Romeo-esque lately, and I wouldn’t mind listening to a bit of “Lost in the Moment” or “She’s My Angel” as I tearfully yell Shakespeare at the balconies of two-up’s in Newtown on a Saturday arvo.

Terry – 8 Girls 

Terry might not support the nationalists, but they do support cowboy hats and cut-off denim vests that sport their own name in diamonds. Oh yeah, and they also support really tough, leathery pop music born to be blasted from the pub jukebox right after a Saints song from Prehistoric Sounds.

Chook Race – At Your Door 

This song came out before Season 6 of Game of Thrones, which in blog terms means that it’s probably too old to attempt to attach a hashtag to. However, I’m still gonna give it a go, because the scratchy pop styling of Chook Race will never stop be endearing, and it’s always better late than never. Go on, press play, no regrets here.

Shearin – Budget Cuts

For me personally, there’s probably nothing better than hearing a harsh voice spit pure fury over political indignation, shitty policy and a beautiful little jangle pop line. Oh, and look at that, that’s the exact description of Shearin’s “Budget Cuts”! Aren’t you bloody lucky! Also, it’s probably been at least a few weeks since you heard someone scream “that fat cunt Joe Hockey”, so make sure you tune into “Budget Cuts” for that alone.

If you’re free Friday, make sure you head along to the Chippendale Hotel, as Shearin’ are having their EP launch, and will see some support from Nick Nuisance and the Delinquents as well.

Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird – Melbourne Bitter

This song doesn’t really fall into the guitar pop territory, but the song’s called “Melbourne Bitter”, and that’s good enough for me. This song absolutely bloody rules, and I needed to find a way to sneak it in somewhere. Besides, this blog never had any integrity to begin with, why start now?

A Comprehensive List Of Everything I’ve Forgotten To Write About in The Past Three Months: Pt. 2 Guitar Pop

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It took about a month to follow up part one of all the shit I forgot to write about for the past three months, and I was considering throwing the towel in and start covering all the latest goss on the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album, but a lot of this stuff is so great that I’ve convinced myself to postpone my Flea think pieces for a few extra days.

 

Ocean Party – Mess + Noise Critics Poll 2015

R.I.P  Mess + Noise, Long Live The Ocean Party! This little mini-album is absolutely fantastic! If you’d like some more in-depth analysis on this album, someone on Bandcamp described it as a collection of “…moist beats…”, and who am I to disagree?

Cool Sounds – In Blue Skies

The only thing better than this beautifully lush, semi-new one from Cool Sounds is the blue-tinted panther that adorns the cover of their single artwork. Fuck yes to the marriage of jungle cats and 10/10 guitar pop!

Crepes – Hidden Star

Another winner courtesy of Deaf Ambitions, this one is a bit more of a psych-laden pool of guitar. It’s a bit of a slower jam than Crepes previous singles, but “Hidden Star” is still a crisp sip of a tinnie in January.

Heart Beach – Counting/Relief 7″

I wish that we lived under the kind but firm rule of a benevolent dictator that forced everyone to own a copy of Heart Beach’s Counting/Relief 7″, and we were forced to play it three times a day, every day, to remind us all how lucky we are that Heart Beach are a band making songs like “Counting” and “Relief”.

Weak Boys – Life Rules

Weak Boys got a shoutout in the liner notes in the new Violent Soho album, and they managed to grab a bloody gig at the most hallowed of Sydney’s venues – the Newtown Social Club (as immortalised on the B-Side of this CD-R single). So yeah, life really does rule, doesn’t it?

SMILE – Rhythm Method

If you’re having a shocker, put on this new album from SMILE. As soon as the frenzy of “Cool. I Need Money” kicks in, the shitkicking you’ve suffered through will start to fade. By the time “BLVD” rolls in, the fact that you work as a Dave Hughes impersonator is a distant memory.

Great Outdoors – I Look Back

I reckon Don Burke should renew Burke’s Backyard, and make “I Look Back” the new theme song – it’s a fucking great song, it keeps with the whole “outdoor” theme, and it would surely see a dip in the ratings for all the other early-arvo lifestyle shows. You’re move Ready, Steady Cook.

Tiny Little Houses –  Milo Tin

Yeah, nah, how great is this band? Every time I steal 2 minute noodles from now on, it has to be soundtracked by this song.

Verge Collection – Class of ’09

This is the best song about high school since Papa Roach’s “Last Resort”.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Write Back

They’ve changed their name but RBCF’s still know how to write the fuck out of a song. “Write Back” makes you want to put down the guitar and notepad because you’ll never be as good these blokes.

Glaciers – Local Hero

“Local Hero” has that same gentle, lilting embrace as Boomgates, Scott and Charlene’s Wedding and Twerps and that’s the highest compliment anyone can give a band.

 

Morning TV – Dive

It’s pretty tough not to swoon at this one – what a bunch of bloody dreamboats! Second song in, and I’m hooked like a tuna that’s happened to pass within a one kilometre radius of a fishing trawler.

 

New: Shining Bird – Helluva Lot

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Friends, comrades, lovers, enemies. Come together. Sit down, have a beer. Have two beers, you cheeky bastard. Chatter amongst yourselves – “How’s Suzie? She must be in primary school now, yeah?” – catch up, reminisce! But when I press play, you had all better shut up and focus every single one of your five senses on this new one I got for ya. Because this…this is a hit I tell ya, and if you’re not paying attention, then the only person who misses out is you.

This is a band removed from the Big Smoke, and you can hear it. There’s not a hint of the city smog in frontman Dane Taylor’s vocals that otherwise rattles throughout that throats of suburban bands. There’s a density in the music that recalls the thick of the Australian bush, a stronghold of eucalyptus guitars and synths that sparkle like the sun peeking over the Three Sisters. That’s an image that couldn’t possibly be perpetrated by some suit-clad city-slickers.

“Helluva Lot” gives you pause, as it sinks into your skin. It’s a refreshing blast of energy, but not like a manufactured caffeine hit – more like the graze of scorching dose of Vitamin D followed by a skinny dip in a secluded bath out in the middle of fuck knows. It’s a sound that hasn’t been this refined and powerful since The Triffids and The Church were doing it. Stoke the campfire, keep the laughs flowing, and hit repeat on this absolute gem.

Shining Bird play Newtown Social Club on June 8th, tix are here

Gig Review: The Goon Sax

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Saturday, April 2nd @ Newtown Social Club

I was a loser in high school, a big time dork. I look back on those days, and hang my head in shame. Every morning I wake up and check the Internet to make sure that some regrettable photo from that period hasn’t surfaced in a mission to ruin my life. I live with caution, certain that it’s only a matter of time before people realise that, at 15 years old, I was the biggest Red Hot Chili Peppers fan and argued with my parents over getting the lyrics to “Dani California” permanently inked to my skin.

Which is why, when I look at The Goon Sax, a bunch of 17 and 18 year olds from Brisbane, I instantly become consumed with jealousy. They’re playing after FLOWERTRUCK, who are essentially Sydney’s gatekeepers of guitar pop, an Edwyn Collins/David Byrne amalgamation from heaven. FLOWERTRUCK have just put on a hell of a show, not exactly something you’d jump at the chance to follow. But before The Goon Sax have played a note, before they’ve even made a gesture, I know that they are the coolest people I’ve ever seen in my life, and that they’re about to play something very memorable. There’s a casual but inviting way to how they stand on stage that speaks of nervous anticipation. I’ve seen so many bands get up at the NSC looking bored or dismissive, and the novelty of The Goon Sax’s quiet excitement doesn’t just make them interesting, it makes them far cooler than they already are. And that’s all before they’ve even started strumming.

Musically, The Goon Sax have taken jangle-pop, and applied a level of self-awareness, self-deprecation and affable charm that has evolved the genre. There’s no obvious allusions to their forebearers, nor the modern champions of the genre like Twerps, Dick Diver and The Ocean Party. They stand apart, spinning seemingly mundane topics into compulsive stories, which spill from the stage and directly into your gaping mouth. These yarns – simple, scratchy and flawed – are wrought directly from the teenage experience; but the real sucker punch is that these songs speak to any age, without relying on some sense of nostalgia in the lyrics or music. It just speaks to the fact that The Goon Sax are really fucking amazing songwriters, who actually get pop music, far more than I ever will. It’s only when frontmen Louis Forster and James Harrison switch instruments that you’re pulled out of the spell, and it once again dawns on you that, holy shit, I will never be as cool as the people I am watching right now.

Although an hour set might have been a bit ambitious (maybe that’s just me – I love a good short and sweet set), the performance never felt like it dragged. There were lulls, sure, but The Goon Sax have a talent for always being able to reset the audience’s interest, whether it be through one of their instant-classic singles, such as “Boyfriend” and “Sometimes Accidentally”, or hidden gems from their debut album, like the closer “Ice Cream (On My Own)”. Or maybe it was their attitude that made them so loveable; the fact that, whenever you zoned in on the band, you could see a real love for what they were doing, with none of the ego or cynicism that usually coats other guitar pop bands onstage. That kind of genuine and unpretentious behaviour is infectious, and gives all the more reason to become completely and utterly infatuated with this band.

As soon as The Goon Sax left the stage, there was nothing left to do but swear a blood oath to them. The Goon Sax have gone from being yet another fantastic Brisbane band, to one of my favourites in the country. I may be consumed by jealousy at their monstrous coolness, but the music and show is too good to bite a thumb at. Folks, here’s some sound advice: see the show, buy the record, and learn a thing or two from these bloody geniuses.

Album Review: Big White – Teenage Dreams

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Dulwich Hill is renowned for…fuck. I have absolutely no idea, hey? Does it have nice parks? A decent pork roll shop? Or is it like Macdonaldtown, a place that’s technically on the train line, but you’ve never actually been there, or know anyone who lives there.

Nah, but the old D-Hill actually does lay claim to  The Surgery, a share house full of art school students that feels like its churning out all of the hits lately. Its a bastion of skewed pop productivity, from the looming post-punk blast of Den, to David Byrne’s latest project FLOWERTRUCK. But sitting high and mighty at the top of the soon-to-be Brill Building 2.0 is Big White, a five piece that Creation Records would have sliced throats to sign back in the day.

Their debut Teenage Dreams was recorded in Berlin a few years back, and fuck knows why its only getting a proper release now. Oi, knock knock, record execs, don’t ya know a hit when you see one? It’s called “You Know I Love You”, and it makes the feet split apart and engage in the sort of toe-tapping hi-jinks that only Kevin Bacon used to be able to summon. Or hey, if that doesn’t tickle the soles of your feet, how about a helluva romp like “Dinosaur City”, which has allegedly cause ruptures in the Earth’s mantle from all the stomping that accompanies every Soundcloud play. Hey Japan, guess what, there’s another 9.0 headed straight for you, courtesy of those no-good pop enthusiasts.

Look, here’s the deal. Big White know their way around a pop song, that much is glaringly obvious; but that’s not what makes Teenage Dreams a jaw dropper. The full spectrum covered by Big White makes this album the one that you want to tell all your friends about, even the weird ones on Facebook that probably added you for identity theft. Take the title track that hits a little to close to home for those going through their quarter life crisis and manages to put the words “Pingers” and “Nickelodeon” together. Or the glistening epic “American Twins”, a song that makes you want to lounge in bed, drink cheap red wine and watch old Steve Buscemi movies simply because the song name checked him and you forgot how great he was. And “I Can’t Tell”, a song that pairs depressing and brilliant in a riveting parallel – how can they sing “I can’t tell whether my girl cares if I’m dead or alive,” yet make you want to shimmy like you’re in an Outkast video?

If this is your first interaction with Big White, make sure it’s not your last. This is only the debut from these guys, and it’s pretty phenomenal, hey. Now they’ve finally got the ol’ record contract locked down, expect MORE, MORE, MORE hits for many years to come. If you’ve already heard about Big White…fuck, you read a fair few words just to have your opinion of “Yes, Big White are one of the best pop bands going around” vindicated.

Teenage Dreams is out now, and you can grab it here.

Video: The Goon Sax – Sometimes Accidentally

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Oi blogs! Yeah, I’m talking to you, the taste making denizens of the Internet! Fuck is wrong with you? Why haven’t you picked up The Goon Sax yet? You’ve really dropped the ball on this one, y’know. These guys are pure talent, hit city, the superstars of tomorrow, and you’re just letting them slip through your keyboard-glued fingers. Poor form, poor bloody form.

There is absolutely no reason that The Goon Sax should be ignored, by anyone, because they are the best thing since Lowes had a 90% off sale. They’ve only got this track “Sometimes Accidentally” to their names, but its a song that accentuates all there is to love about the guitar pop genre. Although they’re in a class that can occasionally stale itself with too often repeated meanderings on mundanity that has now almost bordered on cliche, The Goon Sax keep things straightforward. Relishing in a delightful low- key riff, The Goon Sax examine their personal faults and flaws in such a charming way that its impossible not to fall head over heels in love with them.

“Sometimes Accidentally” has been stuck in the heads of all pop lovers for a few months, but now there’s a video, and goddamn, doesn’t it just cement all the stuff there is to love about these guys? They’ve filmed with an unashamed homemade aesthetic, complete with drawn on moustaches, supermarket munchies and giggling when they sing their lyrics. They’ve even opted out of the big budget, and decided to film themselves playing in a park, as opposed to the blockbuster, explosion-laden, Michael Bay directed film clip set in the Amazon that Chapter Music would have probably paid all expenses for.  As iterated before, there’s nothing false about The Goon Sax – it’s authentic and likeable, devoid of any irony or inside-joke pats-on-the-back. Fucking hell, blogs, can you get off your arses and start #hastagging about this band?

Album Review: The Ocean Party – Light Weight

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Let’s face it: The Ocean Party are the equivalent of Bruce Willis in Die Hard. At first, its a back-to-basics overhaul of the terrorist plot to make “dolewave” a part of the cultural lexicon. Now, The Ocean Party are crafting incredible songs that are essentially trampolining cars into helicopters, creating mammoth explosion after explosion of exhaustingly great pop music. However, unlike everyone’s favourite action films featuring a bald bloke in his late 50’s improbably surviving everything, The Ocean Party have kept the integrity of their franchise, improving and exploring new territory, whilst retaining the original qualities that made them so beloved in the first place.

The qualities mentioned above are thus (how fucking great is the word thus?): comforting jangling melodies, a melting pot of songwriting voices, the occasional burst of saxophone, and genuine poetry in their lyrics. On ‘Light Weight’, The Ocean Party sound more convincing and stirring than ever before, establishing their own unique stamp on guitar pop. No longer do they sound like a band that have been inspired  by The Go-Betweens and The Triffids, but rather, they sound like a band that will go on to inspire. The key ingredient, at least from what I can hear, is the constant stream of self-doubt that peppers The Ocean Party’s lyrics.

Take for example the moving title-track, which is probably one of the most tear-gouging songs released this year. Forget about your power ballads, all you need is The OP Crew sighing “You said I’ll see you soon, I said I wasn’t sure, there was everything and nothing everywhere, then I had the idea that I deserved even more”. Has flitting romance been described that well before? Maybe. Then again, maybe not. I’m finding it really hard to think of another example when choking back the tears.

This theme of personal crisis isn’t necessarily something committed to wandering melodies and sighing vocals. “Guess Work” pops with an exuberant chorus, even when discussing a bloke getting blown to pieces in the middle of the street (and to think people were doubting my Die Hard analogy). “Phone Sex” grooves on a rhythm that could have been ripped from a macabre detective show from the late 80’s. And “Greedy” practically hurtles along, bright guitar lines clashing against the persona of a clueless boss.

However, as the album draws to a close, The Ocean Party retreat into darker territory, and shut down their record with possibly one of the finest songs of their careers in “Real Life”. A plodding monologue that blossoms into a careening mantra of fatigue, this is a song that bemoans the abundance of normality and squeezes in a reference to wanking. Surely, this is the greatest pop song of our generation?

If you put the careers of myself and The Ocean Party side by side, you’ll only end up depressed. Whereas I’ve plunged from obnoxious wanker to unbearable fuckwit, these guys have blossomed from local darlings to one of the most damn fine songwriting sextets this country has produced, reaching a professional highlight in ‘Light Weight’. And they’re from Wagga Wagga! The Ocean Party are not only the extended Bruce Willis metaphor that we deserve, but the one we desperately need.

‘Light Weight’ is out now on Spunk Records, and you can grab it here. You can read an interview between Jordan ‘King of the Keyboard’ Thompson and myself here.

New: Big White – Dinosaur City

bigwhitepressWhat dinosaur would Big White be? Obviously, the first answer you’d go for is Stegosaurus. Awkward and loveable, these legends have got spikes on their backs! But they’re not spikes to impale enemies on, NO! These are spikes that belong in a playground, for the kiddies to climb over and frolic upon as single dads hawk at soccer mums over cups of overpriced lattes. Loveable and goofy, they’re freaks of nature that we can all get around.

Ah, shit, nah, on second listen, maybe they’re a Brachiosaurus…have you seen the heights of Nick Griffith and Jack Wotton? Every gig Big White play, it feels like those two are munching on roof beams instead of prehistoric leaves. Or maybe they’re a bunch of Compsognathus’, aka those little shits running around in Jurassic Park. Big White, split into five little cheeky green guys causing pop mischief and spitting acid in Newman’s face?

Ah, fuck it, this dinosaur shit is hard. Just enjoy the bloody song whydoncha?

Album Review: FLOWERTRUCK – Dirt EP

a1034313333_10There’s a reason that FLOWERTRUCK had one of the busiest rooms at the King St Crawl yesterday arvo. Sure, the job was pretty much completed for them by way of the absolutely chock-a-block set put on by Soundly Sounds DJ’s (available for corporate events, book now, serious interest only [no funny stuff]). However, it’s fair to say that a couple extra punters made the trip out because they’d heard there was a pretty decent band doing the rounds at the moment. That band starts with an ‘F’ and ends in ‘ucking FLOWERTRUCK’. Sweet, we’re on the same page here, this band rules.

Until a few mere days ago, FLOWERTRUCK were EP-less, and yet they’d captured the hearts and minds of the folks of Sydney. Meanwhile, what have you been doing lately? You been releasing pop gems like “Sunshower”? Huh, punk? You been making rage indie clips of the week with “I Wanna Be With You”? You been doing that? You played with Alex Cameron and You Beauty? Have ya? No? Call us when you wanna play with the big dogs like FLOWERTRUCK.

As mentioned above, “Sunshower” and “I Wanna Be With You” are magical. They make pop music fun again – before these songs came along, Sydney was essentially the town in ‘Footloose’. FLOWERTRUCK is our Kevin Bacon. That means that, in a few short years, this band is going to be sidling up next to the musical equivalents of Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton is some sort of indie rock ‘Apollo 13’ blockbuster. And that doesn’t even seem that surprising of a claim to make. These songs are incredible, and like everyone’s favourite ham flavoured Hollywood star, its an early entry into a lengthy and acclaimed career.

Sandwiched between these two colourful bursts are three earworms that slot easily into any contemporary Australian guitar-pop playlist. Twerps, The Ocean Party, Big White…FLOWERTRUCK. Too easy. Job done. “Bad Dreams”, a swelling number that feels very ’16 Lovers Lane’, particularly stands out, a paced out burner that works itself into a frenzy of furry guitar work and chiming synths.

It’s absolutely no surprise that FLOWERTRUCK are packing out venues – they combine the flavours of Flying Nun/1980’s Brisbane shade of rock with New Wave pop sensibilities to the degree where it belongs in one of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants. There’s heat in the fucking kitchen, geddit? You wanna get a lick on a few of these tasty morsels? Grab a plate – FLOWERTRUCK’s debut EP just came out. You can grab it at Bandcamp here.

Also, FLOWERTRUCK are gonna play the East Coast pretty soon. Band comes highly recommended. The Sydney show is at Deus Ex Machina on October 9th.