New: Gordi – Taken Blame

More in love with this than Die Hard-era Bruce Willis is with a dirty wife-beater and witty puns. Seriously, Gordi is the new face of gorgeous, limitless talent. Only on her second single, she looks to have everyone’s hearts a-flutter, simply because her voice is the equivalent of staying up all night with a loved one to watch the sunset. Fuck, have you ever done that? Neither have I, but Gordi makes me want to.

“Taken Blame” may come off initially as timid, but closer inspection reveals that its just as strong as any Primitive Calculators track. She oozes with self-doubt, but backs it up with simply incredibly arrangement and a voice that will send more shivers down your spine than any fucking haunted house.

Calling it now, Gordi is going to be bigger, better and more heartbreaking than that scene from The Big Lebowski were Donny gets shot, played on repeat on the world’s largest projector screen. Fuck, that was hard to type, but I stand by it.

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New: Telafonica – What Remains

I missed the boat massively on this one, but ya know what? Y’all need to hear it. It may have come out in January, which in the “BLOGOSPHERE” equates to a millennia, but you still need to wrap your ears around it. Sincerely stunning indie/electronic influences clash underneath a soaring voice that takes you back to an innocence that only exists in Disney movies.

New: I Know Leopard + Foreign National + Failure Machine + Tideland + Melt Mountain + Fever Kids + Shadow Shadow + C. Kostra

A bunch of actually new shit that can be filed into pretty damn good tunes for a Sunday arvo.

I Know Leopard-Hold This Tight

If you liked your Temper Trap, but wanted something with more flesh to sink you’re teeth into (this could’ve been ripped from a script held by David Attenborough) then I Know Leopard provide the best alternative to that. Something like Bearhug, only held down and trickled out like some sort of of indie-rock drip feed. I Know Leopard are the next Dappled Cities, no fucking doubt.

Foreign/National-All Honesty

Right off the bat, it seems like Foreign/National are negating the title of their latest single. If they were really being honest, they’d have decided if they were foreign or national by this point. Seriously, one of the first things people ask you is where you’re from, you can’t reply that you live in Sydney but are from Istanbul, despite the fact that you can actually totally do that, and it’s completely normal. Xenophobia, huh?

Anyway, new song from the Melbourne band, for fans of Two Door Cinema Club and the indie like. Shuffling along with that sort of cobblestone, patchwork drum pattern and glitzy guitar/keys combo. Wunderbar.

Failure Machine-EP

The only experience I have with Reno is that I know it’s hot as balls, Fallout: New Vegas takes place there or something, and there’s a bunch of shitty heist/criminal caper films that inevitably mention how shit Reno is. OH! And the Thomas Lennon humour machine that is Reno:911, possibly one of the greatest dumb shows in television history.

Anyway, there’s a band from there that caught my intrigue by the name of Failure Machine. I get the feeling, that from all the bad press that Reno gets next to its big brother Las Vegas, home of hookers and broken souls, that the band’s name might be a reference to the failure of society’s machine! Right!? No? OK, well, they can bust out a damn good solo, as the track ‘Beautiful Scene’ proves. And the fact they can inject soul into these ditty’s, like Sinatra laying down grooves on top of Fait Accompli, well, that’s just straight, fucking cool man. Try to be cooler than that, and you’ll give yourself an aneurism.

Tideland-Lull

After perusing a metaphorical fuck load of indie bands, trying to find something that wasn’t as dull as watching cricket played by the cast of The Real Housewives of whatever, I ironically came upon this release called ‘Lull’. It’s anything but, just straight ahead rock music that’s just a notch down in ferocity from At the Drive In, but rebuilt with the joyous guitar haze of Dinosaur Jr. Ears, all ears, will be so happy to hear this sort of thing, by that I mean pop music masquerading as guitar music. Those crashing cymbals and droning, incomprehensible vocals? Bob Mould did it about 20 years ago. Of course, he did it better, but that’s not to say that Tideland haven’t done more than attempt. ‘Lull’s got some fucking powerful tracks on here, like ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Desolate’. Get on this shit, its cooler than Chad Kroeger collaborating with Santana.

Melt Mountain-Melt Mountain EP

Melt Mountain. Oh, I get it, just another one of those crazzzzyyy psychedelic bands, right? Nah, in this case, Melt Mountain is a surf-rock indie band, but they’re most definitely the exception to the rule. They’re from Greece, and they’re like the link between a Quentin Tarantino bloodbath and a nice day on the beach. When listening, expect your arms to involuntarily get all John-Travolta like, and turn into Uma Thurman’s dancing partner, but also be prepared to dip into some psychedelic bliss. It’s a lot less pretentious sounding than the words I’m using to babble on with, but the point is that these are just a couple normal people making damn good music.

Fever Kids-Holding Grass

By what cruel measurement, are we, the audience of Earth, only allowed to have two songs from Fever Kids? I’ve never heard of this band until now, and yet, it’s like they filled a hole in my heart I never knew existed. Oh, that’s preposterous, how could a band…just fucking listen to these two songs.

‘Holding Grass’ is a breathy disco track which a thumbing bass that makes you want to wrap yourself in Debbie Harry’s wig and dance the night away with a strange, afro-clad man in a neon jumpsuit. Think Yeah Yeah Yeah’s with Goldfrapp, sprinkled with some Cat Power. That bass does things to my mind I didn’t even know possible, and if you can put a name to it, please contact me, because I need to confront these feelings.

Meanwhile, ‘Peter, Debbie, Mary’ is what would happen if Peter, Bjorn and John were dropped off in a futuristic version of Berlin, where everyone is a cannibal, and they have to come to terms with it Lord of the Flies-style. Eventually, only Debbie is left, the blood of Peter smeared all over her face, and that luscious bass line soaring around the horrifying image.

Shadow Shadow-Kill Screen

I never played video games all that much. I died way too much to emit any sort of pleasure or entertainment from the device. But Shadow Shadow bring a sense of quiet epicness to the thing that caused me all that pain in my formative years. ‘Kill Screen’ makes like Lorde being pushed through a woodchipper run by The KVB, and the result is a dashing and bright tune that slushes along, but everyone can still pretty clearly see all the blade marks that wrenched away the brightness at the seams.

c. Kostra-Double Crush

If Daft Punk were put back into their Tron universe, and then were stomped the shit out of by some angry EDM thugs, that clashing of two worlds would create the sonic template for c. Kostra. It’s a bedroom-gaze project, half-guitar, half-electronica. It’s a bit Four Tet-ish, which is amazing, and the super chopped up vocals and subtly thumping touch pads and keys make for great texture. Overall, ‘Double Crush’ is the track we all wished we got on Random Access Memories.

Gig Review: Laneway Festival

One word summarisation of article: Go!

Sunday 2nd of February @ Rozelle College of Arts

Laneway Festival is, without a doubt, the musical event to most look forward to on the Sydney music calendar. Its planned the way a serial killer plans their first murder, with extraneous care and meticulous planning. Every year, the booking of the festival reads like a who’s who of the biggest artists of the moment, and 2014 was no exception. In short, if you didn’t go to Laneway this year, you fucked yourself over.

Besides the music, Laneway surpasses the other big festivals of the calendar because they put in considerable effort to create one of the nicest, most relaxing and beautiful places to enjoy yourself. Set at the Rozelle College of Arts and the park surroundings, you could actually lay down in front of the two main stages and never move, and you’d still have yourself one of the best days of your year. And if you came to the festival but hate music, then you can simply plug in some earplugs, and check out a bunch of other attractions. Thankfully, in this case it doesn’t mean a rollercoaster that’ll put you back $50, but rather some art installations, a vinyl tent, or the food trucks. Yep, the fucking food trucks went off. Best festival food I’ve had in my entire life.

But why the fuck would you scrape a ticket if you hated tunes? What kind of sick, sadistic bastard steals a Laneway ticket from someone else and doesn’t even watch a single act on display? You’d have to be Barry O’Farrell-esque to execute a move that dick-ish. Which is why I got to the festival as early as possible, and clambered to the stage where The Growl were playing. The Growl are another Tame Impala-affiliated project, this time from Cam Avery. However, the music couldn’t be further from psychedelic. They’re a rumbling band, with Avery channeling his inner Tex Perkins to great effect. One word description-swagger. Not swag, swagger.

Although the songs on display were pretty cool (understatement, you can download some of The Growl’s songs here) and a couple of their new tracks really got excitement levels sky high, the band seemed a bit tired on stage. Regardless of the act and amount of hip-thrusts one can shove into a song, opening a festival is fucking hard.

However, on the Red Bull/Future Classic Stage, things were heating up for the few in attendance for Scenic, another Perth act. However, these guys were more akin to Jagwar Ma than Tame Impala. They were effortlessly cool up on stage, pushing out the synth-psych vibes like they were Daddy Warbucks handing out opportunities to orphaned red heads. All their songs contained a sense of danger and cutting edge, and the constant jogging and energy onstage was pretty hard to look away from, or even ironically imitate. Nope, it was way too fucking hot and energetic to try and impersonate. To the guys from Scenic, give up your day jobs and become athletes, you’ve got crazy stamina. Or just keep pumping out tunes like ‘Ride The Thrill’, either is good for me.

After taking on some of the majesty of Scenic, it was off to Drenge, the two-piece garage punks from the UK that would hopefully take my brain to town. However, unfortunately, the two-piece couldn’t catch a break on stage. Undoubtedly, their music is much more suited to an intimate 200-person max show in a dingy basement. On stage, Drenge put out some great vibes, but their equipment was, simply put, fucked. Wind ruined the sound, making their screeches barely audible. And on the topic of screeches, unwanted feedback and a mildly consistent them of pedals cutting out mid song made it hard to appreciate Drenge the way they probably should be appreciated. I mean, ‘Bloodsports’ is such a killer track, and a few other songs alighted comparisons to DZ Deathrays (whom are an obvious choice of band to spend the rest of your life following around). Unfortunately, with the lack of power and conviction, Drenge remained a mild band to watch under the blistering heat.

So, some knob decided that after Drenge, we should go see Autre Ne Veut instead of the brilliant Kirin J Callinan. Obligingly, I followed, only to be met with roughly three minutes of the lamest horse shit this side of a McDonald’s McRib. When you hear the words, up and coming New York producer, there’s an inherent hope that you’re going to witness the next James Murphy. Instead, we were handed a guy that wanted to be Drake so badly, despite not showcasing any of the capabilities that gives the mirage of Drake being good. Instead, there was over-the-top theatrics with absolutely no pay off. Its like the Titanic soundtrack being performed by a white Lil’ Wayne. Autre Ne Veut wants to put so many random brands all into the one performance, whilst holding it under the banner of ‘synergy’. If he were an Office Space character, he’d be the boss. It was time to leave after Autre Ne Veut graduated from kneeling on the floor to standing in a Jesus Christ pose on the PA.

Back to Kirin J Callinan on the main stage, and he’s putting on a performance worthy of such a title. He stands defiantly, wearing an Eddy Merckx cyclist jersey, he swarms through his material from his EP’s and debut record ‘Embracism’. Whilst most might know him for his challenging music that puts all genres in a melting pot to come up with something infinetely more progressive than whatever Autre Ne Veut is pushing, the stand outs from the set where his more 80’s tunes. Think of The Boys Next Door, The Triffids, Killing Joke and Echo & The Bunnymen, then fast-forward a few decades, where Tony Abbott rules with an iron, hypocritical fist. Replace Nick Cave with a taught, beady and charisma-reeking frontman, and you’ve got the Kirin J Callinan project. Diverse and entertaining as anything, ‘Landslide’ and ‘W II W’ were particularly testicle-wringingly good. And the fact he’s got the perfect 2GB radio host voice, and an affinity for shirtless-ness makes his performances all that more enthralling.

Here’s something that I’m sure a lot of people would like to know-King Krule has got fucking nothing on Run the Jewels. Whilst my ginger compadre sways with the mediocre, Killer Mike and El-P put on one of the most memorable festival sets I’ve ever seen. There’s nothing bad to say about Run the Jewels, and really, the only thing that can be sad is that you need to go see this group and download their album right now (it can be done for free and legally right here). Watching the group, it was impossible to not get swept up in the hype and joy that they machine-gunned from the stage. They wrought the crowd happily weak with their tracks from their only record and solo albums, with songs like ‘Sea Legs’, 36″ Chain’ and the closer of ‘A Christmas Fucking Miracle’ causing the audience to lose their shit with the most fabulously stupid grins sported on their faces.

As if their hyper-speed music wasn’t enough on record, the flawless verses of Killer Mike, a combination of the old-school Big Boi and new school of Rick Ross, were executed to perfection. El-P more than held his weight, running his own verses around the crowd like he was lassoing them into a hip-hop cult. And the stage banter! Never have I laughed like I laughed at this show. If Killer Mike and El-P ever feel like giving up on hip-hop, then stand up is there fallback. Never has the repeated phrase of ‘SWAG’ sounded so glorious.

Finally, Run the Jewels were so special because there is an intensely strong bond between these two rappers. Although so different fro the outside, they share the characteristics of completely genuine people, both on stage and with each other. The professional and personal courtesy they share is what makes great musical acts, not just in hip-hop, but across all musical genres. If you want to see entertainment at it’s highest order, go to a Run the Jewels show.

After being fantastically bombasted in the first set of the day that forced me to dance and throw up my hands in the fist ‘n’ pistol sign, Dick Diver was scheduled to bring things down to a normal pace. Unfortunately, this was easier said than done. Although Dick Diver have released two stellar records, and are now considered one of the forerunners of Australia’s musical scenery, technical issues prevented them from showcasing their talent. Whilst Al Montfort’s bass was considerably fucking up, Steph Hughes tried to keep the dwindling crowd with a bit of banter, and an impromtu ‘Guess That Riff!’, although eventually she resigned that ‘…maybe we should just play something?”. With the blistering heat and the lack of music, Dick Diver unfortunately lost a hefty portion of the crowd.

But those who stayed were infinitely rewarded as the band went through their slacker pop classics like ‘Calender Days’ and ‘Through the D’. Pretty much a perfect cure to being molested by energy from the Run the Jewels set. Dick Diver are definitely a band to cherish, and its a solid bummer that there weren’t more people that had faith enough in the band that they could come back from the technical fuck ups.

Perhaps I got too accustomed to the lack of being crowded at Dick Diver, because xxyyxx became too much. The music itself is almost perfect electronic music. One cannot underestimate how good xxyyxx really is, and live, the man is a soul-train of glitchy, R&B infused ambience. However, the crowd at the performance was too harrowing. There was no room to move or dance, and the stifling nature meant that you either saw xxyyxx or you placed yourself in a position of minor comfort. Eventually, it was a better option to sacrifice the visual element for the audible element, but it would’ve been nice to see how these magnificent tunes unfolded.

On the other hand, Daughter were a band that were able to be enjoyed in a comfortable environment that will be referred to from now on as Laneway-esque. This Laneway-esque environment is one of complete leisure. You know those scenes in movies where people are lying in hammocks in a tropical paradise? Fuck that. Give me a sprawled lawn, and Daughter playing their hazier-than-thou tunes that smother (PUN!) you in smiles, any day over that. Stunning.

Following a set of dripping gorgeousness, it was time for the exact opposite: Parquet Courts. Along with this band came the only clash of the day-see some stoner punks from Brooklyn, the jaw-dropping Kurt Vile or the hyped and mind-blowing Jagwar Ma. Decisions, decisions! However, the correct choice of Parquet Courts was made. After a shaky intro, they launched into what was basically a greatest-hits set of Sonic Youth and Pavement-owing garage rock. ‘Borrowed Time’, ‘You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now’, and of course, ‘Stoned and Starving’, with some lesser-knowns like ‘Donuts Only’, ‘Careers in Combat’ and They blew through song after song, building each two/three minute track into a tiny pedestal of amazing. They attached themselves to their instruments, attacking them with a ferocity that’s hardly ever seen these days.

With their instruments in tow, the members bended and shook the fabrications of garage rock, throwing their tools around the stage, trying to get that perfect squeal of feedback. It’s this sort of mentality that made it seem like every member was completely enthralled in their own thing, yet the magic of Parquet Courts is how they manage to tie it all down. Although each instrument sounds like its cartwheeling off on a mushroom-laden adventure, the effect is a giant Phil Spector wall of sound that contains a million little melodies. It’s like this on record, but that’s more than one could hope for in the flesh, right? But Parquet Courts pulled it off, and they did it with every-man flair, like they just walked from the bong-ozone after doing an eight hour shift at the local deli. It also helps that their guitarist looks a lot like Thurston Moore. Parquet Courts are one of the best guitar bands of the present age, so go see them this Wednesday at The Standard.

So Parquet killed it, and that was almost expected, but the big surprise of the day apart from Run the Jewels, was HAIM. I love HAIM quite a bit, but there wasn’t the mindset that they’d turn out to be the foul-mouthed, crowd-adored bombasters that they were. God, after seeing HAIM, not only was I enthralled with everything about them, but I wanted to be the drummer in their band. I can’t play drums, but you know I’d fucking learn if it meant getting to hang with the three coolest sisters on the planet.

HAIM have basically done what no other artist has been able to do. They signed to a major right off the bat, got a bunch of meaningless press done by Rolling Stone, NME and Spin, and then put out an album that had no choice but to be heralded. However, these are all very behind-the-scenes occurrences, and a bit of my mind was certain that it was all this elaborate studio ruse, and HAIM actually fucking sucked.

I was so, so wrong. On stage, the sisters strike a resemblance to a sassy Led Zeppelin that’s been shrouded in California sunshine and immersed in Kanye West songs. They were flawless, and I’m sorry I ever derided them in passing. There is nothing but good things to be said about the band’s set. From the versatility and expertise executed musically, to the loud confidence that rubs off from the girls, HAIM are probably one of the most proficient bands around. But that’s not all. They’re music was made to be shouted back by thousands of adoring fans, and its not some sort of flavour of the month bullshit. ‘The Wire’, ‘Falling’, and ‘Don’t Save Me’ are just a few of the songs in HAIM’s set that proved that the band are more than worthy of headliner status. In fact, every song HAIM played seem to just cause the crowd, and myself to swoon even more. The plan was to just catch 20 minutes of the set, but they forced me to stay for the majority. Absolutely fabulous and unique band, live and on record.  Everyone should take this as evidence to go and get their album, immediately.

Oh, and for all those wondering about those rumours of Baby Haim having a weird bass face…totally true.

It was weird then, that after an unexpected high from HAIM, Danny Brown put on a strange performance. There was nothing inherently wrong with what Danny did on stage. He was unsurprisingly charismatic, but he seemed a bit tired, as though he was struggling with what he had to do. There were the trademarks of course-KISS tongue, childish giggles and a constantly swishing frizz of hair. And his actual proficiency on a microphone is uncontested. But, although the vibes emanating from the stage were forceful, there wasn’t the complete joyousness in the air that accompanied Run the Jewels.

Regardless of whatever cosmic uncertainty I was feeling,  Danny Brown’s set proved to be an exercise in rap fertility. The crowd were in a completely rambunctious state, crowd surfing becoming a norm, and dead-set moshing occuring. Perhaps it was the propensity for air-horns in Danny Brown’s music, the anthemic structure of his songs (‘Kush Coma’ and ‘Dope Song’ proved to be riotous), or the male dominated crowd. Who knows? But the violence hit an all time high when a fan rushed the stage and got the shit promptly kicked out of him by security, the DJ and Danny Brown’s Samuel L. Jackson look-alike bodyguard. Meanwhile, Danny didn’t miss a beat onstage. In summarisation, it was the abundance of attitude and ego that killed an otherwise glorious performer. After seeing someone get fucking thrashed so nonchalantly, it was hard to enjoy ‘Dip’ with the drugged out glamour it deserved, and not even the forest of blunts could rectify the unease.

After Danny’s personally divisive set, Savages took the stage. Unfortunately, there weren’t a whole lot of people there to experience the greatness that is Savages-on the main stage was the all-conquering Lorde, whilst Earl Sweatshirt apparently dominated the Future Classic stage. That didn’t leave a whole lot of audience open to check out some furious all-female post-punk from London. On the plus side, it meant that only the loyal showed up, and Savages put on a performance that none would soon forget.

Jehnny Beth is an intimidating character, and as she worked through tracks from Savages’ debut record, she struck a pose that was a cross between a glaring Siouxsie Sioux and Jello Biafra during Dead Kennedy’s most fuck-you period. Whilst hits like ‘No Face’, ‘Husbands’ and ‘I Am Here’ threw themselves at the audience with blistering conviction, swirling mist covered the band, and the witching hour time slot made Savages’ set appear to be some kind of soundtrack to a cult gathering in a Glasgow marsh. If Merlin was a post-punk fan, Savages would be his favourite group.  The intimacy and furiosity offered by the band was second to none, and you really couldn’t help but be completely mesmerised by their dark, strutting majesty.

The most impressive factor of the band however is their ability to warp the dynamics of their songs until it feels like your very existence depends on whether Gemma Thompson can explode that guitar riff over bass players Ayse Hassan’s grumbling, treacle-lined bass lines. Within a few bars, Savages can switch between soaring heights and crushing lows, bringing the crowd into a frenzy they didn’t even know possible, showcased most effectively with the massive and bitter ‘She Will’ and the audience captivating ten-minute closer of ‘Fuckers’. By the end, everyone was so immersed in the music, when Beth asked for the crowd to inhale, and think of one fucker they hated, you could hear the punters thinking of that fucking dipshit that belonged six feet under. Jesus Christ, Savages are both brutal and intelligent, a dichotomy of the highest order. Give yourself to this band, and let them take you on the savage ride that your mind needs.

So, nothing could top Savages right? Well, Cloud Control basically took the viciousness of the previous band, and turned it into the most joyous and enthralling sets of the festival. The musicians, who are younger than Shia La Beouf is in Transformers, put on the most youthfully intoxicating set imagineable. Every track was sung with a belief and authenticity that would make Prince quake in his boots. There was more jumping involved in Cloud Control’s domination of the main stage than a yoga festival invaded by bull-ants.

So Cloud Control were super hyper and amazingly warm on stage? Cool man, but what about the music??? Well, they’ve got an EP and two albums to their name, but their 45 minute set was more greatest hits than collection of singles mixed with other shit. Seriously, not a bad song in the bunch, and because of this, the crowd would have done anything to continue the concert. Even the songs that seem more refined on record exploded on stage, ‘Scream Rave’ becoming an elated gospel track, and ‘Island Living’ literally detonating with Alastair playing his guitar solo with a sparkler attached to his guitar. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK!?

So, with the polite tunes ramped up to considerable party levels, it only left the actual party songs to disappear into the heathens of amazing. ‘This Is What I Said’, ‘Meditation Song #2’ and closers ‘Scar’ and ‘There’s Nothing In The Water We Can’t Fight’ became staples of happiness amongst a crowd that simply couldn’t stop dancing and smiling, Cloud Control soundtracking the perfect hippie night of innocent debauchery. Oh yeah, did I mention that pulled off a fucking perfect cover of the Butthole Surfers ‘Pepper’ in the middle of ‘Gold Canary’? That thought alone gives me shivers. The fucking Surfers!? With ‘Gold Canary!? Jesus Christ, clean up on Aisle 12.

After one of the most spectacular performances, Unknown Mortal Orchestra finished off the night. Technically, I caught a bit of The Jezabels and Four Tet, but really, the most realistic conclusion point was with Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s flooring set. In terms of technical psychedelic guitar playing, UMO shit all over Tame Impala. Watching Ruban Nielson turn the guitar into whatever he wanted it to be, bending out sounds and then trampling on them within a quaver, was majestic.

On record, UMO come across as a plain-ish band, revelling in their simple fairy psych-pop for critical damage. However, when witnessing that sort of shredding on stage, and pairing it with the wholesome falsetto of Nielson, you’d be forgiven if you shat your pants in amazement. Massive hits like ‘Ffunny Friends’ and ‘So Good At Being In Trouble’ mingled amongst lesser known tracks that wrought awesome on all involved. Generally speaking, the audience was being immersed in the best psychedelic performance to hit Sydney in absolutely ages.

In short, Laneway is the most musically diverse, artistically progressive, and forward-thinking festivals on the music market right now, possibly on a global scale, considering Laneway’s success in Detroit last year. Going to festivals is usually fun, but Laneway take it to another level. They nurture and comfort the average punter in ways that the bigger festivals could never hope for. Not only is Laneway thoroughly enjoyable, but its fucking necessary, an event so enjoyable it leaves a post-festival void of emptiness in your heart.

Interview: Frightened Rabbit

I first fell in love with Frightened Rabbit in Year 10. That’s more or less the point in which I discovered that there was more to music than Green Day and 50 Cent. Frightened Rabbit were one of the first indie bands to really catch my attention, because they didn’t just go for the well-worn jangle bullshit. They wrote soulful stuff, and after a quick listen to ‘Swim Until You Can’t See Land’ or ‘The Loneliness & the Scream’, I was infatutated. So, I was stoked when I got to send over a couple questions to Grant Hutchinson, the drummer for Frightened Rabbit, and ask him about the band.
R: Last year, you claimed that Australian bookers didn’t like you, and then all of a sudden you played Groovin’ the Moo (great show by the way! I was second row for it!) And are coming back next year for Laneway. Did the outburst attract a lot more attention?
G: The outburst certainly worked! It wasn’t planned that way we were just a little frustrated that we’d played Australia so many times and from our fans on Twitter and FB there seemed to be a demand for us to play gigs there but nobody wanted to take the risk and book us. Thankfully someone at Groovin’ The Moo was kind enough to have us along and we all had a bloody great time!
R: You guys have quite the relationship with Laneway festival, having played in 2010, and in the debut Detroit version of the festival. What attracts you so much to playing with Laneway? Do you enjoy the boutique feel?
G: Laneway have consistently come up with seriously strong lineups over the years. What I like is they have stuck to what they like and not sold out and given in to booking more commercial bands simply to shift tickets. That’s not something you see a lot of with festivals. Especially not a festival that has grown from nothing into what Laneway now is. I love the smaller boutique festivals. I prefer to see bands in more intimate surroundings and usually these festivals have better food selection and nicer beers on offer which is always good!!
R: Coming from Scotland, was it an interesting process gaining traction as a band with your unique brand of music? And what advice would you give to bands that are trying to break from a relatively obscure place with a niche sound, such as yourselves?
G: Although our sound is unique I also think it’s quite universally inclusive. We’re not doing anything massively experimental and Scott always uses lyrical themes which I think are easily relatable to most people’s experiences. When we play shows there’s a togetherness that you don’t see everywhere and that helps when you’re trying to get people’s attention. One thing I would say to any band is don’t compromise who you are at all. Stick to what you believe even if the other option seems more attractive at the time. Also to get where we are today wasn’t always easy and if you aren’t willing to put in the hours of work that come with it then just stop now because as well as a little luck you need to put in a lot of hard graft too.
R: On the topic of niche sounds, I was curious about what the writing process was for the lyrics. What’s the usual inspirations, both in terms of style and the lyrics themselves?
G: The lyrics are all still written by Scott. Although the last record was more collaborative musically we left the lyrics alone as I think it’s important there is still that strain of familiarity running through all the songs. Also I’m shit a writing creatively so the songs would really suffer if I tried! With the previous albums Scott has focused very much on himself but with Pedestrian Verse the focus definitely shifted more outward and concentrated a lot more on the themes of other people’s lives.
R: And with recording, I’ve noticed that your songs tend to be very, very full with lot’s of music being involved in the process of even just one song. How does one keep track, or when coming up with the various parts for a song, or even figure out what’s going to work with what?
G: This record was far more a band effort and having all those different sources of creativity makes for a very interesting recording process. You can never really tell if something is going to work for sure or not until you try it. It’s not like we’re just guessing and hoping for the best but we spent a lot of time making sure each part on this record was necessary to the song rather than just adding more layers and parts for the fun of it. We made that mistake with the album before and I think it was really bogged down in sound.
R: Speaking of new material, because ‘Pedestrian Verse’ was released earlier this year, and you guys are pretty prolific, is there any chance of new music on the horizon?
G: Of course! We plan on writing the new record in 2014 and hope to release it 2015. Due to the writing process changing on the last record and adjusting to a new label this album took a little longer than we would have liked and we want to avoid that this time so we’ll be looking to release some new material at the end of the year and a full new LP not long after that.
R: After being on a bunch of labels, you signed to Atlantic in 2010, Being signed to a major label, and being associated with the indie music scene, do people or fans ever give you grief over that decision?
G: When we initially announced the move we had a few doubters voicing their opinions online but nothing too serious. I think most of our fans had faith in us to do what was true to the band and not to be moulded in to something we are not comfortable with. On top of that Atlantic were signing a band on their 4th record knowing full well that’s how we felt so it was never part of their agenda to change anything about the band either. The longer the album writing process dragged on the more worried we all got about the major label stories you hear about so often but the reason it took so long was that everyone just wanted to get it right. We didn’t want to give anyone the option of writing that being on a major had really fucked up the band and our career!!
R: Finally, as a band, how do you shy away from becoming stale with your music?
G: Time off is as important as being on tour when you’re as busy as we have been this year. We’ve spent so much time together and so much time concentrating on the band that when we’re not on the orad it’s important to do other things and concentrate on having a more normal lifestyle than touring gives you. It means when we hit the road again with the new record even the old songs will feel new to us as we won’t have played them for a little while. It’s always interesting to work with new people too as this can give you a new viewpoint on something that you thought you’d hit a brick wall with. This could be different musicians, engineers or producers and I will certainly try and do a bit more of that at the start of next year.
Frightened Rabbit are playing Laneway Festival, in February of next year, along with HAIM, Lorde, Savages and Kurt Vile. I’m going, and you should put down whatever you’re doing right now and buy tickets. Frightened Rabbit are also playing sideshows, 5th of February at The Palace in Melbourne, and 6th of February at the Metro in Sydney.

Gig Review: Neutral Milk Hotel w/ Superchunk & M Ward

Friday 15th November @ The Forum Theatre, Melbourne

Exactly a week ago, there was the biggest collection of happy hipsters that Melbourne has ever seen. ‘Why’s that?’ you mumble to yourself as you scroll through a myriad of hot singles in your area. Well, Neutral Milk Hotel, the cult indie-folk band from the 90’s was finally touring Australia. There have been waiting over 20 years for this moment, and now it was finally within grasping distance. Jeff Magnum was here, and he was here to party in the most alternative way possible.

Along for the ride were fellow Harvest Festival refugees M Ward and Superchunk. M Ward was the first to hit that stage, and to be concise, his music is nice and mild. There’s a chance you’ll become enthralled, but there was definitely the feeling that people in the audience were just politely nodding along to his music. M Ward’s songs just sort of meld together. They’re definetely intriguing because they’re undoubtedly good songs, but they’re too nice and plain to really immerse yourself in or get excited about. It’s like if Ryan Adams was a better guitar player but a little less balls. If Wayne Coyne become suddenly sane, wouldn’t let go of his acoustic guitar and adopted the personality of your childhood friend that is really nice, but you would never call up to hang out with, you would get something like M Ward and his lukewarm performance.

Next up where Superchunk, the 90’s riff band that never grew up. Fuck they were gooooood! Despite being obviously old as fuck, they persisted with a boundless energy that belied their age, and you couldn’t help but be swept up in their MTV golden-age fervour. They jumped around the stage of The Forum Theatre like it was their mum’s garage, bouncing off the walls and each other. If Weezer had an older brother that was way into punk music, then it would’ve been Superchunk. The gale-force riffs, and astounding energy of the band on stage was almost too invigorating, Superchunk just oozed genuine excitement. The set they played was mostly compromised of new stuff from their most recent release, this year’s ‘I Hate Music’ and 2010’s ‘Majesty Shredding’. However, for the fans that had been sticking around for a live Superchunk show for about a decade and a half, the band ended their set with a double whammy of ‘Slack Motherfucker’ and ‘Hyper Enough’. Superchunk proved that despite being old and bald, they can put on a rock show circa when buying CD’s and Guns N Roses were a thing.

Finally, after all these years, I, the Sydney-sider enjoyed the alt-country originator Jeff Magnum, and his assorted crew of acid-trip extras hit the Forum Theatre. As soon as those unmistakeable opening bars of ‘King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1’ broke out, (quickly followed by Parts 2 & 3) you’ve never seen more wide-eyed grins set under ironic moustaches in your entire life. There was a fucking mosh pit! At a Neutral Milk Hotel Show! WHAT!?

Shaggy, half-mumbled phrases of counter-culture poetry that Jeff Magnum warbles underneath a plethora of unconventional instruments (see: a saw, as in, the thing you cut wood with, played with a bow). Almost every song in the band’s catalogue was given equal presence and respect by both those onstage and off, and every person in the room was having the best of times. Although Magnum’s Sasquatchian looking face shrouded any sort of emotion, his multi-instrumentalist buddy (who looked all to similar to Badger from Breaking Bad) was a amoebic ball of energy, not settling down even for a moment.

The instruments and intrigue flew hard and fast: banjo’s, a brass section, a culmination of percussion…they all came and went as rapidly as Magnum could blast through his catalogue. ‘Song Against Sex’, ‘In The Aeroplane Over The Sea’ and ‘Holland, 1945’ excited the second-greatest reactions from the crowd, possibly because they’re the most upbeat and full songs of the two albums. I say second-greatest, because although the aforementionedhave a beautiful, swelling nature to them that worked so well in the acoustically-formidable Forum Theatre, it was ‘Two-Headed Boy’, and the encore of it’s second part, that were so romantically held by the audience. Performed completely alone by Magnum with his trusty guitar, these songs created a unity to the crowd, as they swayed and moved under Magnum’s spell-bindingly unique shambling voice and strumming.

Although not the best show ever, Neutral Milk Hotel killed it for what they were doing. Half sorrowful, half triumphant, the songs of Neutral Milk Hotel strike a strange dichotomy that few artists could attempt to pull off. However, with a sea of dedicated fans and an inherent musical talent, Neutral Milk Hotel ensured a show that could only be described as enjoyable.

New: Snowy Nasdaq-Periods

Because I’m a well-reknown wanker, I kind of forgot to tell everyone about Snowy Nasdaq’s solo stuff. However, it suddenly hit me and I remembered that his work is definitely worth posting about. Which is how we come to the crux of the story, Snow Nasdaq’s ‘Periods’.

You probably know Snowy from one of his many incarnations-member of The Ocean Party, member of Mining Boom, member of Velcro, member of Pencil, member of…fuck he’s in a lot of stuff, and his name seems to pop up just about everywhere as a ‘contributor’. Basically, the guy is like the Bill Murray of Melbourne music-if he’s involved, its going to be fucking good.

That sentiment can be applied SO hard to Snowy’s solo output. It seems that there’s always a new EP on his Bandcamp page, which is why I’ll just review one of them, my personal favourite ‘Periods’. Four tracks long, and it still packs a Mike Tyson-punch of entertainment.

The first track ‘Limited Stock’ might initially set you up for a shuffling, Nicolas Jaar sort of thing, but it soon evolves into a full-blown indie-pop ballad. There’s so much shit going down on this song that it’s hard to know where to exactly start describing how great this song is. I guess if someone drowned Vampire Weekend in the Tasman Sea, then their bloated corpse was dragged back to shore and turned into a puppet by James Murphy, it might be a bit like what you get on ‘Limited Stock’.

Next, there’s ‘I Like Being Forgotten’, another track which is a little DFA records, but Snowy’s quiet, slightly nervous musing contradicts the jumpy, deep-sea exploration instrumentation that’s going down on the song. Again, there’s a lot of shit happening in every which direction, but its nonetheless a beautiful track.

After a short, slightly disturbing instrumental in the form of ‘Pension’, there comes the shimmery, funk-erific ‘Primality’. I’ve said it a couple times, but listening to this and trying to analyse what’s going on is like trying to convince Hulk Hogan to become transexual. There’s a great juxtaposition going on of flurrying, diamond-tinged synths with straight up indie rock n roll, and again, Snowy’s vocals are damn delectable.

I’ve only reviewed one four-track EP, but Snowy’s Bandcamp page is full of consistently jaw-dropping stuff. I’m really bummed I forgot to review it earlier, but I’ll take this opportunity to tell you that you need Snowy in your life like you need a liver for a big night out. Relaxing yet exciting, his solo stuff would make even the most hipster of indie rockers blush in jealousy.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the best part-All (repeat: ALL) of his stuff is completely, 100% totally free. You can grab it from his Bandcamp here. 

New: The Aves-Remote

A brand new one from Adelaide, from the garage darlings The Aves. Its a little bit San Cisco, without all the pimples and braces, and its also a little bit Strokes, without the drug addiction and Julian Casablancas egotism. ‘Remote’ rolls around like a bobble head on a dashboard whilst crossing the Nullarbor, sheens of sunlight poking through a dusty exterior. You might not get the hang of it the first listen, but keep it up, and you’ll soon be totally wrapped in the track.

Album Review: Love Migrate-Dissolved

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Love Migrate have a really applicable name. Like some kind of romantic warlock, Love Migrate manage to swarm their music with an abundance of love and care, like the Mother Teresa of music. Imagine if that song ‘Lightning Crashes’ by that terrible 90’s band Live, like, wasn’t shit, and that heartfelt emotion could be transformed into a completely un-sappy, and real outpour of sorrow and heart. Their new-ish EP ‘Dissolved’ showcases this to a startlingly eyebrow-creasing and emotion-liquifying degree.

The title track for the EP opens up the event, and the song manages to be grand and subdued at the same time. It moves in the same way as a Frightened Rabbit album, only Love Migrate pack all the tear-jerking to a single, soaring-yet-subdued chorus of ‘I am keen to be dissolved/of my past’. Try listening to that without bursting into tears. Even Paul Hogan would be surrounded in a pool of salty eye-water from this track (Paul Hogan doesn’t cry, he sheds salty eye-water. Paul Hogan is a fucking man)

‘Squealing With the Mice’ continues the theme of Love Migrate being a beautiful band, the song resonating an innate quiet loudness. The background keys that bounce off the shimmering guitar and the Blonde Redhead-ish breaks, it all makes you want to stand outside your high school crushes house holding a boombox above your head, playing this song.

Now, despite being long as fuck (for the average whispering folk-rock track at least), ‘I Was A Stranger’ is the best song on the EP. It all comes down to the contrast between the sparkly but uncertain vocals/lyrics with the gentle-as-a-baby’s-cranium acoustic guitar that quietly churns in the background. I could, and you will, listen to this song over and over again without tiring from it.

The EP closes out with a solemn, clutched-to-the-chest piece that makes you want to simultaneously curl up in your bed and never let anyone except for yourself hear this song, and search to the ends of the Earth for what could have caused this sorrow, and kill this monstrosity for the sake of humanity. The song in question is ‘Falling Through’, and the shit that is resonating from this song is next level amazing.

The best thing about Love Migrate’s ‘Dissolved EP’ is how it quietly achieves. I know I’ve mentioned that a couple times throughout the review, but Love Migrate show how a band doesn’t need to shout their message, either literally or through over-the-top musical antics, to get it across. Love Migrate have simply created an four track EP that is full to the brim of astounding song-writing and musicianship. Instead of throwing out a cool hundred bucks for whenever The National play next, go buy this EP, and be infinitely more satisfied.

Speaking of buying Love Migrate’s EP, you can grab it here from their Bandcamp.

New: Sunbeam Sound Machine-Cosmic Love Affair

Unlike a lot of songs, I found out that there isn’t a lot to say about Sunbeam Sound Machine other than he’s really good. It’s a solo moniker for Nick Sowersby, and his first single ‘Cosmic Love Affair’ is beautiful in its simple execution. Its a tired, washed over piece of music that hangs onto the listener with a reverie. Listening to ‘Cosmic Love Affair’ is a bit like watching a French film: you cant really understand the words, you’re trying to figure out whats going on and failing miserably, but goddamn if this isn’t the best shit you’ve heard in a while. ‘Cosmic Love Affair’ is perfect in the way it starts off slow, builds and builds for a while, and then just as it hits its climax, completely lets go and finishes. Youth Lagoon would be in tears of envy.