Video: Step-Panther – It Came From the Heart

A couple weeks back Step-Panther released a bonafide masterpiece, one of the finest records to have graced the ears of us mere mortals. I could go on, but the main gist is that a couple of shredders who love to play music ended up creating an honest document of what it’s like to have your life crumble around you. It was a diverse, progressive step for one of my favourite bands, and I was genuinely blown away by how great they sound. Right now, Step-Panther are like our down-to-earth version of Parquet Courts.

They’ve gone ‘n’ done a video for their track “It Came From the Heart”, that’s half-haunted house ride, half-shlock B-Movie drive-in genius. Vegetarians rejoice, you’ve got nothing to worry about. For the rest of you, just…just don’t fucking walk into an abandoned house, practice for a bit, and then devour the greasy remains of a chook. Because a giant beast will stab you and let your disembodied head wander around space and time for eternity. Actually, that’s a pretty fucking rock and roll way to go. Turn the sound off, and Step-Panther turn from scuzz heroes to Wollongong replicas of the self-destructive likes of Motley Cru and KISS. Devil Horns!


Album Review: Step-Panther – Strange, But Nice

Hey man. I heard your girlfriend just broke up with you. That sucks, bro. Really, I can empathise. Ain’t nothing worse than getting your heart shat on. So, where do we go from now, hombre? We can either a) drink until we puke b) take acid and try to fuck some leprachauns, until we sober up and realise they’re garden gnomes, or c) play some Step-Panther. In all seriousness, Step-Panther might have just taken over Twerps in terms of providing the ultimate break-up soundtrack. Sure, the person that you used to bump uglies with may be feeding your emotions through a tree-shredder, Fargo-style, but at least there’s Step-Panther providing the bonafide album of the year.

Going into ‘Strange, But Nice’, there’s the immediate notion that Step-Panther have altered course. Whilst some unimaginative dickknobs might call this ‘maturing’, it is most definitely not. It’s the sound of a band that are stretching themselves out, exploring new territory, diversifying themselves from their original roots. About 70% of the time, this ends in disaster. But Step-Panther have completely pulled it off, and taken their sound in a new direction, propelled by a momentum that I honestly thought had been lost from music. Step-Panther have built on the direction they hinted at on tracks like “Bad Mood” and “Dreamcrusher”.They intricately mix their previous excellence at shredding with songs that blossom into incredibly personal and hurting testaments from frontman Stephen Bourke. The result is an album that is both complex and beautifully simplistic.

The album starts off incredibly strongly, chucking a bit of a Palms, and opening up with a solo acoustic number that almost tricks the listener into thinking that they might have cracked onto the next Elliot Smith. But then there’s a double-whammy of “Nowhere” and “User Friendly”, irreverent and insanely fun tracks that point to Step-Panther’s origins as a band that loves to strap on a guitar and beat the shit out of some riffs. “Nowhere” is especially potent, swelling like that chick from cult horror movie ‘Slither’. It feeds itself, ballooning into a goddamn masterpiece of headbanger heaven. This vein of excellence is continued later in the record on tracks like “Namor”, “Zombie Summer” and “Something Must Be Done”, speedy, semi-doom laden riffs skating over bass-gods and wicked drum twacks that threaten to split your head open like you’re a 12 year old with greasy hands climbing a jungle gym.

But the real beauty here comes from Step-Panther’s ability to lay it all out, baring themselves to the world with some of the best songcraft to come from this smouldering island that is Australia. “Parallel” is a complete and utter standout, something that gives me (and everyone else) shivers whenever it comes on. It’s like if Bob Dylan had grown up in the ‘Gong and was exposed to radiation. It’s quaint but weird, heartbreakingly honest, and the little quavers in Stephen’s voice when he hits the chorus causes my own mouth to shake uncontrollably. “Don’t cry,” I whisper to myself. “Don’t be a pussy. Put on some Metallica or something. C’mon. Who’s a big boy? You’re a big boy”. But, just like the protagonist, I’m going to wish that phase goodbye, and sink into the rest of ‘Strange, But Nice’.

This. This album. It’s got everything. Star Trek, swamp monster and retro-video game references, Big Scary’s frontman on production duties, and the perfect duality between decapitation-shredding and lyrical/musical prowess to tear your heart out through your chest. Fuck, it’s an underdog story about loss, repulsion and the faint hope of moving on. There’s not a whole lot more to say here, other than that you need this record in your life. Pronto, now, immediately. Andale andela! Arriba Arriba! Record of the year, right fucking here!

New: Step-Panther – It Came From the Heart

Step-Panther are renowned for being slackers with a commanding knowledge on HOW 2 SHRED. Well, it seems our boys have grown up and gone down some weird route of shrugging breakup guitar rock. A little more jangly than what we’re used to, the new Step-Panther still has their trademark bummer vibes that reach out to anyone who’s been through a shitty breakup (aka everyone). Regardless of the slower pace, Step-Panther have never sounded cooler or more confident, trapped in a place somewhere near The Ocean Party’s “Quarter Life Crisis” and Palms’ “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again”. If you ask me, that’s a damn fine place to be stuck – if only we could 127 Hours this joint, and be jammed into this jam for a couple days/

Top 10 Australian Albums of 2013

Whoomp, there it is! Or, to be more grammatically correct, here it is. Because, y’know, you’re reading this off some sort of screen, which is on front of you, and not somewhere else, which is what the preposition of there implies.

Look, I was trying to make a reference to Tag Team’s 1993 smash hit, and smoothly initiate an article about the best Australian albums of 2013, but it failed in a brutal showing of grammatical error. Anyway, as I clumsily try to regain my poise, let me say that 2013 has been a killer year for Australian records. On the International scene, there haven’t been absolutely tonnes of records that have held people’s gaze for the full year, but in Aussie-land, home of snuggies and the ‘ocker’ stereotype, there have been leaps and bounds in every genre available. Its cruel to pick just ten, but here we are, in a state of despair. Woe is I, for we art doomed to live in a state of existential pit of despair wrought by picking just ten albums for lists. Please….empathise.

Super Dooper Special (as in all tied Equal 11th) mentions go to Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, The Ocean Party, Day Ravies, Unity Floors, and Ooga Boogas.

Special Mentions go to Clowns, Amateur Drunks, Standish/Carlyon, Pikelet, The Living Eyes, Golden Blonde, Ausmuteants, The Drones and The Native Cats.

Super Duper Ultra Special Metal Album: Zeahorse-Pools

The sludge! The intensity! The gruel! Its like Jack Black once said in Tenacious D’s ‘The Metal’, ‘…you can’t kill the metal, the metal will live on’. As it does on Zeahorse’s debut record ‘Pools’. Stagnant marshes of filthy reverb and disgusting bass-lines make this a riveting listen, plunging you head first into a swirling world full of blackness and awesome sludgery.

10. Yes, I’m Leaving-Mission Bulb

Not since Fugazi has a punk band come so blindingly close to marrying the intense anti-establishment message of punk with blindingly good melodies. For Yes, I’m Leaving, a band with both an excellent name, a fantastic live show and even greater songs, its just another day making great fucking songs. Yes, I’m Leaving don’t really make a misstep on ‘Mission Bulb’, just chugging out those razor sharp punk songs like they’re a supergroup made from Patti Smith, Ian McKaye, Keith Morris, and Jello Biafra, and the old guy with a sledge hammer on the cover is replaced by Henry Rollins. Perfection!

9. Primitive Calculators-The World Is Fucked

Never have you heard something as vicious and in-your-face until you’ve witnessed the sheer terror of a Prim Calcs track. Finally, after all this time…the band have gotten around to releasing a debut studio album. Its not like Australia’s been waiting over thirty years for this thing! Thankfully, the album paid off like robbing a bank vault Die Hard 3 style, both a physical and emotional pay-off. Not for a moment do the band let up, blasting our brain cells one super charged synth-punk anthem after another.

8. Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys-Ready For Boredom

Another debut record, another awesome band name. You could say its a combination of the previous two entries, but you’d be wrong because the Bad Boys sound fuck all like the other two bands. Instead, they pick up where The Replacements left off on ‘Pleased to Meet Me’-emotionally charged everyman’s rock n roll. It belongs in a pub, three-schooners-down, with one eye on the rugby game in the corner and one eye on its uncertain future. However, if the band can keep churning out the hit factory and overall nice package that is ‘Ready For Boredom’, they should be sorted for a very long time.

7. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard-Float Along-Fill Your Lungs

I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times-King Jizz are the Darwin Evolution theory in practice. Starting out with bare-bones ramshackle rock n roll and slowly developing into the psych rock band we now see a year and a half later. However, they never lost any of the zeal and flavour they had on the ‘Willoughby’s Beach EP’ way back when, and can still manage to excite and boner-ise with their longer stuff as they can with any two minute electric shock.

6. POND-Hobo Rocket

Its a mini-album, deal with it. It was still too awesome to leave off the list. Its over-the-top glam rock, but not as you know it. If David Bowie was gobbled by some sort of psychedelic monster, and laid to waste by a plethora of Wayne Coyne clones, then you might get something as fun, frantic and off the fucking hook as ‘Hobo Rocket’. It dodges, dips, dives, ducks and dodges between all different sorts of vibes and frequencies, a restless creature if you’ve ever heard one. And boy, does it fucking sound amazing.

5. Cut Copy-Free Your Mind

‘Free Your Mind’ can’t really be defined as a return to form because Cut Copy never lost their form (go listen to ‘Zonoscope’ again, and try to feel any inkling of disappointment). Instead, ‘Free Your Mind’ continues the Cut Copy legacy, leaping and bounding into acid-house territory. The Madchester warehouse vibes are certainly there, mingling with the indie pop sensibility that Cut Copy own so hard like I own a massive Sonic Youth poster so hard. You’ll dance, you’ll think, you’ll cry and you’ll dance again, all within the confines of ‘Meet Me in a House of Love’. Isn’t Cut Copy just the greatest invention?

4. Violent Soho-Hungry Ghost

The cover-a skeleton engulfed in flames. Now that’s how you garner some fucking attention. Or, you could just stir up some of the most heart-pounding, adrenaline-inducing, mouth-watering rock songs this side of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. Most of the songs on ‘Hungry Ghost’ are anthems, no doubt about it. Try to listen to a chorus of ‘Hell FUCK YEAH!’ without forming some sort of death circle in whatever location you happen to be in. In completely unrelated news, death by moshpits have gone up 215% in nursing homes that play Triple J. But that’s not all there is to ‘Hungry Ghost’, as the team manage to cook up a couple of heart-warming surprises throughout. More delicious than an angel made of bacon.

3. Palms-Step-Brothers

I guess the reason why Palms are such a great band is because they’re doing something that’s been done so many times before, but putting such an original stamp on it, that you can’t help but do a quintuple take. That’s right, your head will spin a minimum of five times as you try to reconsider your life without Palms in it. There’s so much to swallow when listening to ‘Step Brothers’, but not in a bad way. No, going through this, you’ll be gulping through as much musical content as possible to get all that Palm-y goodness in your spirit ASAP.

2. The Gooch Palms-Novo’s

Speaking of Palms, The Gooch Palms came in with one of the strongest musical entities of the year. However, whilst Palms channel Springsteen, Goochies are all about The Ramones. Bratty, snotty punk, farted out into the willing ears of all lucky enough to listen. However, The Gooch Palms show a surprising diversity, and with the mixture of shameless pop ballads, rain-soaked bummer ear-catchers and leather-jacket FUCK YEWWW’s, you can’t feel bored, even for a second. Rock n Roll runs in the veins of Kat and Leroy and to deny them of that would mean to say that this album doesn’t make you immediately want to strip off all your clothes, run down a highway and spread the word of the Almighty Gooch.

P.S The Gooch Palms and Palms are teaming up for a tour called Palmarama, and they’re playing Oxford Arts Factory on Friday, 28th February. Miss this and perish in a pit of regret.

1. TV Colours-Purple Skies, Toxic River

Surprise, fucking surprise. The album that I can never stop blabbering about comes in at No. 1 on my list of the top Australian records of 2013. Bias aside, if you don’t like this album, then seriously, nothing can be done for you. You are a lost cause. A total travesty of a human being. This album is perfection, a lulling, mesmerising concoction of deadly riffs, lo-fi production, cheesy synths and samples, rolled into a bundle of delights that the world has never seen before. Even though Bobby Kill took two years to make this record, it was worth every minute of waiting for this fucking masterpiece. God Bless TV Colours!

Album Review: Zeahorse-Pools

artworks-000058413166-or9bxs-t500x500If you’ve ever been one to go for music that is badass and huge and sounds like a New Zealand rugby player is bellowing in your ear, then you really can’t go past Zeahorse. They’re a band that crawl with disturbed beauty, prowling on the weak-minded and challenging the strong-willed, making music to beat the shit out of your preconceptions. Indeed, Zeahorse could probably change your entire world view. That’s how brutal and honest their music is-it will physically and emotionally change you. Personally, I started listening to Zeahorse a small, reclusive ginger, and emerged a glamourous, blonde hunk. Zeahorse has done wonders for my self-esteem!

For the most part of ‘Pools’, Zeahorse lay down thick slabs of dirty feedback. Remember that part in Breaking Bad where Walter rescues Jesse from the crack den? Yeah, Zeahorse are playing on that level of dirtiness. But that is definitely not a bad thing, in fact it works in their favour. It lets you indulge in the grime and scum you’ve always wanted, albeit in an audio format. Isn’t music fun?

Opener ‘Career’ is a slow, disturbing introduction to the warped world of Zeahorse, but the madness comes to fruition on album highlight ‘Pool’. The drawn out guitar works its way through your brain like mercury, slowly choking you, but at the same time giving a sense of relief you haven’t felt since you found the holy grail of a clean public toilet. But the greatest moment for that track is when things go all-out abomination, with banshee sounds erupting to fucking great effect, blasting the listener with a wave of orgasmic post-rock glory.

Remember, ‘Pool’ is only the second track on the record. There is still plenty more shit to go down. Take ‘Onion’ for example, a ADHD ridden junkie of a track, jumping all around with a manic look in its eyes, Charlie Manson on murder juice. ‘Onion’ switches from slow, menacing Tool-like blows of bass and whispers to anarchic screams of fury. And ‘Tugboat’ re-defines the term ‘with gusto’, taking that twattish phrase and inserting an adrenaline rush that would make Uma Thurman’s character in Pulp Fiction say ‘Woah, slow the fuck down’.

‘Pools’ unleashes the sort of hellish sounds one would expect from a youthful Birthday Party crossed with The Jesus Lizard, smothered in a thick coat of Baroness. The unruly, fuck you nature of their lyrics and vocals, reinforced with the dry, heaving bass lines that compress the tracks into iron-clad forces to be reckoned with, and the drone-rock guitar buzz that yawns in every track like the gates of hell opening…I mean, has this combination of things even been tried before? We’re talking about a bonafide original fucking band here that will not only fuck with your mind, but do it with an energy that you’ve never heard before. As far as this debut goes, Zeahorse can be filed next to great bands of the heavier side of things, right next to Cancer Bats and Boris. ‘Pools’ is fucking deadly.

‘Pools’ is already out on HUB the Label, through Inertia. You should buy it if you want to get that pesky EDM shit permanently out of your brain (that makes me a hypocrite, I know, get over it). Zeahorse will be playing their launch at Club 77 next Friday, which is the 1st of November. No Art and Narrow Lands, two bands that give the term ‘capable’ a new definition, will be playing support. Zeahorse are an absolutely mental live act, and once seen, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for their tunes. Tickets are $10, which means you have no reason to go, unless Cthulhu breaks loose.