Album Review: Pale Heads – Headless

This is some sort of sick, twisted joke, right? You pull in the naive, gullible punter with a headline like, “Members of Batpiss, The Nation Blue, Pairs, Bang! Bang! Aids!, Harmony, and The Drones team up for a ball-tearer of a record”, and then when the idiot is sitting with a target painted on their dumb head, you hit ’em with the pyramid scheme. If it worked for Bernie Madoff, it can work for any regular attendee of the Tote.

But it’s not a pyramid scheme. It’s not even misleading advertising! What it says in that sentence above is exactly what is delivered. You unsuspecting punter, you; you’re not prepared, nay, worthy, of something of this magnitude! It’s comparable to the time that Wayne and Garth met Alice Cooper – we are just simply not worthy!

‘Headless’ is the Shamwow of albums – not only does it have a flashy byline that forces you to purchase the product, but it actually delivers on all its promises. It will decapitate you – the shorter songs on here are brutal and cut-throat, bloody and savage beasts of noise and metallic punk. Songs like “Pale Head”, “I Can’t Lose You” and “Devotion” detonate, guttural punctures of bass, jackhammering drums and guitars that flay and punish.

They’re straight-forward chargers, galloping down their two-minute time frames like a greyhound at the track gnashing its hungry teeth an inch away from the rabbit. These kinds of songs launch right to the top of the “Go-To Songs to Play When Trying To Impress People Better Than You List”. If there’s a person in your life that looks at your music taste with a sigh of repulsion every time you press play, melt their goddamn face off with something like “Transitioning Out”. If they’re not headbanging within the first five seconds, then they’re a shitstain on the pair of tighty-whities that is your life. They’re not worth keeping around, so reach for the bleach, and rub them out.

 

The latter half of ‘Headless’ is where things get interesting. Whilst hinted at on the earlier “Milk Eyes”, things take a turn for the deliriously noisy. “The Pits” and “Headless” plunging into the sort of hell ride shredders that sound like Career Suicide escaping from a thousand year slumber, and are ready to unleash even more hell than they were already capable of. The result isn’t just ear-bleeding, but down-right sacrilegious to the concept of ‘quiet’.

The one comment to make about this record is that it can feel disjointed. Each member contributes equally with their own unique style – the encompassing brutality of Thomy Sloane, the passion of Xiao Zhong, the towering ferocity of Tom Lyngcoln and the tangled ocker snarl of Rui Periera. However, it’s obvious when each member is taking over and playing “their song” –  rather than a full album, it can occasionally feel as though a collection of singular ideas have been collected under the banner of making something really brutal.

Not that it really damages the overall record – you listen to the album, and you’re still awed by the fact that something like this exists. It’ll destroy your ears and heighten your expectations, leaving you as deaf as you are spellbound. Pale Heads deliver a record only they are capable of delivering – when you get that much talent in a room together, the ensuing product can only be something that will ruin your ability to listen in the same capacity again.

Pale Heads will rock not one, but TWO shows this weekend in Sydney. DO NOT MISS THESE, as not only are Pale Heads going to throw out any feeling between your earholes, but they’ve pulled together a few lineups of Sydney’s finest! On Friday, 12 June, they’ll play The Record Crate in Glebe, with Yes, I’m Leaving, Mr. Sterile Assembly (NZ) and Dead Farmers. Saturday night, they’ll be at Blackwire with Burlap, Roland Major and Dispolar! Pick up ‘Headless’ from one of the shows, or the Poison City Bandcamp here.

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New: Pale Heads – Transition Out

The best punk comes from the most unexpected places. That’s also a load of absolute fucking bullshit, because Pale Heads were guaranteed to make good music. Formed from members of Pairs, The Nation Blue, Harmony, The Drones and Batpiss, Pale Heads resume reads like a laundry list of things of bands that Tony Abbott’s daughter would listen to if she wanted to piss her dad off.

They live up to the sum of their parts as well, with their first track providing the sort of face-peeling, skull-churning, mind-blitzing fuckup that punk rock needs. It’s real punk rock, thrashing and amateur to the core, and blissfully charged with the single purpose of replacing your (now former) favourite band. If Total Control wanted to go to Pissed Jeans-levels of bombastics, this is what they’d sound like.

New: Pairs-Brief Lesbian

Pairs-Brief Lesbian

Some people are going to look at that thirteen minute running time, and think, nup, no way sir, not for me. I’ll stick to my two/three minute slabs of pop confectionary, and enjoy my middling, mindless existence. For the rest, here’s the new one from Pairs that will put your body through so much emotional turmoil, you could be Kurt Russell and still shed a tear. There is so much congratulations for this track. Featuring Tom Lyngcoln from Harmony and Marcus Hobbs from East Brunswick All Girls Choir, there’s no way your heart strings won’t be in tatters harder than a Clockwork Orange-style repeat viewings of ‘Puppies Dying Horrible Deaths Vol. 3’. The amount of carnage and muddy despair packed into ‘Brief Lesbian’ is astounding, and really, a feat for the legends behind this song.

 

Video(s): Harmony + Dark Mean + Monte

So many audio visual queues! By which I mean three. Enjoy!

 

Harmony-Water Runs Cold

So, if Nick Cave got even more bummed out, and managed to get Rowland S. Howard (RIP) and Mick Turner in a room together, you’d get something about half as powerful and simply beautiful as Harmony’s new song ‘Water Runs Cold’. You can expect a seemingly harmless phrase that becomes unstable when repeated with such passion and gusto, like Andrea Boccelli screaming ‘Fuck You!’. And you can also prepare yourself for a bunch of artistic nudity, by which I mean, no boobs or dicks. However, this song/clip is so good, you’ll forget the fact you’re a sex addict for just a second, and be transported to that magical place that only a lonely shower can summon.

 

Dark Mean-Albatross

Dark Mean are frighteningly similar to Harmony, if they were mixed with the good aspects of Arcade Fire. The duelling but dignified vocals, the poetic, thriving nature of the simple songs, the structure that makes out like a wooden hut on the middle of an isolated beach. Dark Mean are like the new generation of Neutral Milk Hotel’s and Pavement’s, with horns and everything! Tie this down with an urban soul search clip and BOOM!, you’ve got yourself a masterpiece.

 

Monte-Cascades

How great are those super long drives, where you just chuck on the radio, and shit whizzes by way too quickly, and by the end, you’re kind of bummed that it couldn’t have continued. That has happened approximately once in my fucking lifetime, and that’s because long drives usually suck horrendous amounts of shit.

The fact that Sydney-based group Monte can evoke that spiritual driving connection in me that I didn’t know existed, well, that speaks pretty great lengths of how great their music is. Seriously, just sink in, let the Mogwai vibes of epic ness crash onto your soul, and watch the shit outta this video. Monte and Chumpy should be stoked!

Video: Harmony-Diminishing Returns

As expected Harmony’s new-ish clip is a mix of tranquility and jaw-dropping awesomeness. If the DZ Deathray’s ‘Bloodstreams’ album cover was turned into an artsy, Nick Cave-worshipping gothic masterpiece then you might get something like what Harmony have for their clip for ‘Diminishing Returns’s. Starting out with flashes of black and white and deathly gospel, the clip suddenly morphs into a gnashing sea of cymbals, screeching guitar and captivating images. Basically, you just have to watch this clip.