Video: The Goon Sax – Boyfriend

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The best thing about The Goon Sax is their wit – it ain’t just razor sharp, it’s like Freddie Kreuger’s claws have picked up a typewriter and started banging out an acidic essay on the tired tropes of love. That’s the general motif behind “Boyfriend”, a song with lyrics as sinister as Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons. But instead of a barrelling onslaught of viciousness, The Goon Sax coat their barbs in cottoned pop, meagre acoustic strumming, quiet duets, and the occasional tock of a cowbell. It’s this subdued way that they approach love songs – intelligent, literary lyrics, gentle music – that raises them up as one of the best new bands of 2015, and why their forthcoming debut on Chapter Music is gonna be pretty much the best thing ever.

If you need any more evidence of how great they are, check out the accompanying video for “Boyfriend”, and look beyond the obvious greatness of gold-microphone fawning and the goon-sack appropriation of Warhol’s Silver Clouds. Check for the nervous glances between bands member, the occasional peeps to make sure their fingers are hitting the right notes, almost as if to say, “Can you guys believe this?”. It’s just another mark of their swift rise to being one of the most beloved bands in Australia, and those nerves are sure to disappear as soon as they hit the lofty heights they’re bound for.

 

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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.

Interview: The Ocean Party

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#tbw to when I briefly replaced Jordan in The Ocean Party. 

I’ve got a long history with Melbourne’s The Ocean Party, and their various side projects, but what it really boils down to is the fact that I’ve got a big ol’ rager for their music. Half their albums are decent introductions to this new boom of jangle pop we’ve been having of late in Aus, and the other half soar at the top as examples of what the rest of these strummers should hope to sound like one day.

The Ocean Party have got their fifth record, ‘Light Weight’, coming out this Friday on Spunk Records, and they’ll be swinging by The Vic in Marrickville for a cheeky free show that same night. Support comes from Mere Women, Cool Sounds and Dog Rock pioneers Weak Boys. Rest of the tour dates can be found here.

Before The OP Crew stop by Sydney, I sent a few q’s through to keyboardist Jordan (who I briefly replaced), and actually got some really solid a’s back:

1. You’ve been on Spunk for about four albums now – why are you so at home there?

We just have such an easy going relationship with Spunk. We send Aaron a record and he put’s it out. I don’t think we could work with a label that operates any different.

2. Do you think having everyone contribute songs to The Ocean Party is positive or detrimental?

I think its really positive. Objectivity is so hard to achieve on your own – as is an alternate subjectivity for that matter. Our inclusiveness means that we have a five-layer filter to run a song through. It can be tremendously reassuring to know that everyone is invested an idea- and alot easier to get things from the bedroom laptop into a more fleshed out form. The other aspect of our work style is that it encourages diversity from a base level. We all write differently, so even basic ideas are flavoured by each songwriter. I like to think this gives us more of a multi-focal narrative in our music as a whole.

3. Being so prolific and touring so much, are you afraid of creative exhaustion?

We’ve got a good cycle going now in terms of writing, playing, travelling and recording. Touring is a huge part of things for us, not only because we like playing around the country, but because it gives us alot of time to nut things out. When we were touring for Split we were already listening to demos for Soft Focus in the van, and when we head off this month we’ll be listening to our new demos. Alot of very valuable conversations and decisions come out of travelling together. So our schedule allows for regular shifts from creative to analytical rather than exhausting either.

4. When you went up to BIGSOUND recently, how did you view the conference as a whole? Is it good for Australian music to have that sort of annual event?

I’m sure if you are a buzz band BIGSOUND is great, we aren’t a buzz band and I would say we are all pretty happy about that. In saying that I think we all had fun at BIGSOUND and the one panel I went to was really good.

5. With half of you working in other bands and in pubs, how much of Melbourne’s music scene rubs off into your own band?

It’s immesurable really, not because it’s gargantuan, but more because its hard to trace your own influences. People outside the band might be able to see the ties better than us. We see alot of local music and know alot of the people involved, inevitably this must have an impact on us somehow. Even seeing something that you don’t like can be influential. You never really know not to do something until you see someone else do it.

6. You’ve always done a lot of regional touring – why do you do that, when it makes more sense financially and crowd wise to just do capital cities? Does it have anything at all to do with coming from Wagga?

Well, there isn’t a huge divide financially. On some previous tours our country gigs paid our way through. We’ve been going to some places regularly for some years now and see alot of familiar faces, which is a good reason to come back. For the Light Weight tour we’ll be seeing alot of smaller towns, which means we won’t have to drive huge stints and we’ll get to see new places. We are playing in Wagga on the way home, which will be nice too. Coming from Wagga I suppose we have a pretty good grasp on what to expect from a country town so maybe we have been more willing to go to them than other bands might be.

7. You do a lot touring in Aus, but haven’t done much outside the county, except for that small US tour last year. Is international touring something you’ve be more keen on in the future.

Sure. Liam is off touring with Totally Mild in Europe at the moment, so he’s scouting it out for us. We had a great time in the U.S.A. last October, so we’d love to go back. It’s costly with six people, so we’re at the mercy of our funds, but hopefully next year we’ll head overseas again.

8. You got to meet Calvin Johnson (Beat Happening/K Records) on that U.S. trip – who else would you like to stumble into on a tour?

Yeah, meeting Calvin was pretty out of the blue. We really haven’t run into many other celebs. Liam saw Rob Zombie and John 5 at the airport. We saw Leo Sayer eating a toastie in Mayfield (possibly not Leo Sayer). The other day we ran out of petrol in a little Victorian town called Cressy. We met a really unhelpful fat guy there who may have been a local celebrity. I don’t know who else we’d hope to meet.

9. You did that small Aussie tour with Nathan Roche a while back – do you miss Nathan Roche? I miss Nathan Roche.

We miss Nathan Roche every day. There is nothing that can fix that. He is liable to appear in any town at anytime though, so maybe he’ll be the celeb we stumble into?

10. Snowy once tried really hard to refer to The Ocean Party as the OP Crew. When can the Australian public expect the inevitable name change, and diversion into Aus hip hop territory?

Mark has already chartered into Aus Hip Hop Territory and irrevocably changed the game with his Crowman Mixtape: Murder of Crow (2014). The Ocean Party has its finger in alot of pies Ryan, don’t dig too deep. OP Crew is a cool name though. When we’re past our prime we might head over to christian rock and become The Devotion Party.

11. When that dole wave playlist got announced on Apple Music, did you shit the bed and think we’ve made it?

I, until now, was not aware of that. I’ll put on the rubber bedsheets tonight and have a look. We made a cool $11.00 from Spotify last year, so Apple Music can’t be so bad.

Album Review: Chook Race – About Time

Hey, come closer. Listen up. No, no, get over here…I get it, you’ve got this whole part-time job, on/off girlfriend, and you’re in your final year of uni. Things are really heating up, I understand. You’re life is complex and complicated. You’re struggling to juggle all of these tasks, whilst pay the bills, and eat a healthy meal. You’re a grown up, and its heaps scary. Shit, its terrifying. You can only go out 4 nights a week, otherwise you’ll get a hangover. What could be more horrifying that that?

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Woah, cliffhangers amirite? To answer the question on everyone’s lips, the only thing more horrifying than your early 20’s is living a life without Chook Race in it. Now that you’re white knuckles are unravelling from all that built up tension, allow yourself to fall in love with a Melbourne three-peice that are just like listening to Robyn Hitcock with a strong Aussie accent and extra tight guitar strings.

 

The world (i.e 3/4 of Brunswick, and everyone else worth speaking to) has been waiting with baited breath for Chook Race to drop their debut album. After a slew of 7″s and cassettes that consistently broke the definition of great guitar-driven pop music, the Chookas manage to scramble together a CD-R with a tracklist that reaches into the double digits.

But, how does the whole affair measure up? Sure, a band being infectious, and lovely, and gorgeous over the space of a few tracks on a cassette is easy enough, but how about the ability to remain inspired and engaging with a breadth of material that triples the length of a 7″?

Well, cast away your fears you decadent minstrel of doubt! Chook Race consistently impress with a super strong LP that never trades in their penchant for writing a hook catchier than a Fenwick Eagle GT Spinning Rod. Chook Race deliver an LP that lives true to the aesthetic of their name…or, basically, it sounds like music that you’d put on when getting chooks to race each other in a scrappy Melbourne backyard.

Although the songs barely last for three minutes each, Chook Race still throw more energy and quirky subject matter out than the Large Hadron Collider regurgitating an episode of the Eric Andre Show. Take opener “Dentists”: “You’re always so inviting, but I just feel like having fondue”. That’s right, subject of the song, you’re such a bloody chore, that Rob would rather eat weird French cuisine and suffer the wrath of cheese dreams than hang out. Or “Just Can’t Relax”, a song about being stressed out about being looking cool and scoring the attention of a potential mate.

But what really lifts this record is Chook Race’s ability to just have fun with their affectionate brand of jangle pop. It’s always moving, shuffling and hopping for a boogie in the middle of a sparse dance floor. As Rob, Matt and Carolyn’s vocals intermingle, the bleeding melodies of their respective instruments jostle lovingly. It makes for a thoroughly enjoyable mixture of frantic and eccentric, somewhere between Pavement, and  ‘All Fools Day’-era The Saints.

If you’re looking for a fun album that appears like a secret, but also feels like it should be highly-respected, and touted as a saviour of the population, or at the very least, the mundanity of modern music, one cannot go past Chook Race’s debut. ‘About Time’ took far too long to be released, but thank ye gods that it was. What a fuckn album!

Get yaself a copy right here, at the Chook Race Bandcamp. Or catch them live when they come up to Sydney and play a few precious shows. Friday, Feb 20 at the Seymour Centre, or Saturday, Feb 21 at Black Wire Rekkids. The Black Wire show is Nathan Roche’s FINAL EVER, and Weak Boys and Jack Lee are along for support. Gonna be mad hektik.

New: Dick Diver – Waste the Alphabet

Earlier this year, at one of the best gigs of the year (more on that later) Dick Diver headlined a mini-festival of enormous proportions. Dick Diver are fantastic, but are they fantastic enough to be memorable amongst a day of performances from the likes of Day Ravies, The Ocean Party, Holy Balm and Dag?

Long story short, yes Dick Diver were everything you could hope for in a band and more. They’ve got songs that present suburban meandering as the the most gorgeous thing in the world. They played “Waste the Alphabet” at both shows, and the song was an easy standouts, glistening and brave colloquialism charm mingling with bristled guitars. On record, the song shines even better, because you can play it over and over again instead of Dick Diver launching into the next song of their set.

“Waste the Alphabet” is the first pop masterpiece to emerge from ‘Melbourne, Florida”, Dick Diver’s third album, which will be out in March. That’s about it for this week’s edition of “Fuck Yes, That’s Heaps Good News”.

New: Twerps – Shoulders

CAN YA FEEEL IT? CAN YOU FEEEEL IT? Besides practicing for my try out as a WWE commentator, I’ve been curled up in the fetal position as well, just waiting for the new Twerps album to drop. Sure, they satisfied the hunger with the release of the magnificent ‘Underlay’ EP, but it’s just not the same as typing LP.

They released the bouncy and brilliant pop opus “Back to You’ a few weeks back, and they’ve followed up with “Shoulders”, which shows the other side of Twerps. There’s the funny, wholesome twee Twerps, and then there’s the side that encapsulates modern suburban agony. “Shoulders” sweepingly succeeds in the latter, with a poignant, brave call to arms to sit atop their shoulders, even in the face of getting older.

‘Range Anxiety’ comes out on January 23rd on Chapter Music. Keener for this than seeing fanboys riot over Ben Affleck’s performance as Batman. Also, big congrats to these guys for getting announced on the Burgerama Four Show! Getting to play with Weezer, J Mascis, JEFF the Brotherhood, Roky Erikson and Madlib. Fuarkin’ crazy!

Video: Cody Munro Moore – Friends With You

Jangle-pop mates, that’s where this plump ginger is at in his life right now. Give me some off-key vocals, bumper-car guitar and contradicting musical-lyrical contrast, and you’ve got yourself a sucker in me. Cody Munro Moore has a few bands to his name, including Big White and New Lovers, but it’s his solo stuff that gets everyone bit hot under the collar.

“Friends With You” is his debut single, a shuffling, awkward-kid-coming-out-to-play display of excellence. If Randy Newman wrote the Toy Story theme in a granny flat in the Inner West after a few brews of craft beer, this is what Woody and Buzz would be skipping along to at the credits. It’s incredibly catchy, in the same way that the best stuff from Belle & Sebastian is. It’s got a lot of that instantly quotable lyrics that Stephen Malkmus would cut someone for, and the whole thing rings with sticky sincereity. It’s pop for the miserable, and you wouldn’t want it any other way.

Video: Weak Boys – Dog Farm

If you’ve run into a crazy, short ginger kid with bad hygiene spewing the praises of “THE DEBUT ALBUM FROM SYDNEY’S WEAK BOYS”, that was probably me. I say probably because the album is that fucking good that there’s a very solid chance that someone else has gotten around to hailing it as one of the albums of the year, just like myself. (If you haven’t read the review of the record, then check out this convenient article right here)

One of the bigger reasons ‘Weekdays/Weekends” is such a success is because of the greatly quotable and tender songs that span the entire 10 song track list. “Dog Farm” is one of the standouts, and not just because it takes a broken relationship, and turns it into about how great dogs are. Seriously, no one needs to be reminded that dogs are great. Even people that get mauled by Dobermans melt whenever they hear the word dog.

The guys got together and shot a lil’ clip for it, featuring, you guessed it, a bunch of amazing dogs licking the face of the Chris Yates. It’s pretty bluddy adorable.

Album Review: The Ocean Party – Soft Focus

It seems ridiculous to think that The Ocean Party are still an underrated band. I mean, how the fuck can someone like Royal Blood be doing well, when The Ocean Party have been plugging away with album after album of near perfection? Seriously, ever since they opened up in 2011, they’ve released three albums of spectacular jangle pop of the quiet ‘n’ vibrant variety. Listening to The Ocean Party is like hanging out with the shy kid from high school who owned all of The Clean’s albums whilst everyone else still listened to Slipknot, and could recite whole passages from ‘Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas’ – it’s understated, but if given a chance, it’ll open up to a whole, swirling world of cool.

Another thing that becomes apparent after following The Ocean Party for a while is how much they’ve blossomed over their careers. After starting out as shambling five-headed Hydra outta the unlikely home of Wagga Wagga (Australia’s ice and teenage pregnancy capital, ca-ching!), The Ocean Party moved to Melbourne. From there, they released a bunch of albums faster than the eyes of Elmer Fudd could bulge out of his head once he found out he’d been tricked by that twicky wabbet. On last year’s ‘Split’, they came tantalising close to a completely enthralling sound, and on ‘Soft Focus’, they have achieved it.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the blame lies for this newfound boldness. Does it lie in the production, which is just spot-on perfect, layered sounds that put the listener in a cocoon of ease? Or does it get pushed towards the newfound confidence that seems to have been found by the singers, and their lyrics? Whereas ‘Split’ was soaked in self-defeat, ‘Soft Focus’ points to a newfound light and, (Jesus, I can’t believe I’m saying this) hope.

Now, I don’t mean hope in the Hillsong sense. But rather, instead of an abandoning of all dreams in the quarry of a quarter life crisis, it feels like the members have evolved into acceptance. What’s more, they remain catchy as ever, perhaps even more so, with the doe-eyed “Deluded”, the shimmering “Head Down”, and the mope-pop sheen and sensual trumpet indulgences of “Went Out”. I’m alone in a dark room at university, and I still can’t stop bopping my head.

But really, the main point of ‘Soft Focus’ is how the crevices of the album are as essential to the records overall shape and substance, much like a Snickers bar. This album will fill you up with the sheer density and diversity of the music, which can only be described as talented as fuck. From the glistening “Sharps And Taylors” and “Still Stuck Out Here”, which are more soothing than a whole case of Strepsils, to the cartoonish pop of “Deluded”, and heart-in-throat, lip-biting beauty of “Charter Towers”, The Ocean Party showcase their musical talents more expressively before.

As always, an Ocean Party record moulds itself quietly into perfection. Despite Australia owning a rich well of guitar bands with a scholarship at pop school, it’s The Ocean Party that feels like they’ve graduated at the top of their class. Although The Ocean Party don’t have the same international/hype prescence of Dick Diver and Twerps, ‘Soft Focus’ seems like it would be the most likely spiritual contender to a Go-Betweens album like “16 Lovers Lane”. Having built themselves up to such an overwhelmingly heartfelt presence as they have here, it’s hard to imagine The Ocean Party not garnering the recognition they deserve soon.

 

The Ocean Party play a sneaky show at Goodgod this Thursday (6 November) supporting Shocking Pinks, before rocking up at The Lansdowne on the 28th to play a launch show. After listening to a record like that, you’d have to be Scrooge to not want to get around this band as hard as possible.

Playlist: EXXE Records Inhalation Compilation

I’d say that anyone who’s visited this site before would become quickly overwhelmed with how much of it is dedicated to things of the lo-fi and local variety. I fucking love stuff that’s been spawned nearby, whether it come from a sharehouse in Marrickville or a two-up in Melbourne, or an unliveable shack in Brisbane etc. etc. Pretty much any city in Australia with a low-rent living space.

So, it’s with abundant pleasure that I found out that there was a new record label called EXXE Records that have collected a bunch of my favourite bands into a compilation, with a few exclusives and fan favourites involved. On a compilation of 13 tracks, there are twelve (plus one) songs of amazing and diverse sounds from around the country. Not getting around this cassette is a sin only Joe Hockey is capable of.

Before I get stuck into the bands, here’s a lil’ info on how EXXE came to be. Formed by a couple mates living in a share house in Moncur Street, Marrickville, EXXE’s bands are all linked by time spent there, where a lot of the songs on the comp were apparently bred into existence. Their basic mission statement seems to be to release their mate’s bands, all of whom happen to be really fucking good. Shit, they don’t even make a profit from these things, but rather use any money gained to fund more recordings. Fuckn dedication, amirite?

Onto the bands – the artists listed on here is like The Rich List of Australia’s Most Underrated. Sydney garbage-punks Housewives, Ghastly Spats, Drown Under and Snotty Babies, all of which have made scrabbled and scathing noise their purpose of life. There’s a fucked up snarler from the usually docile Beef Jerk, twisted pop smiles from King Tears Mortuary and The Friendsters, and quaint guitars from Mope City. There’s The Gun Club, via Beasts of Bourbon, sounds of Bad Guys, and dark, throbbing post-punk strangulation from Sacred Product. A new one from Kitchen’s Floor opens with tambourine and a gargantuan burp, before switching into their signature strum ‘n’ pine formula. Julia Why?’s contribution is probably the most professionally-produced effort, with limited hiss allowing for some fantastic Breeders-esque rock and roll. Sleep Debt, who haven’t been heard from in ages, also appear with “Day’s End” an instantly catchy and brusque howler that’s half-Dischord, half-Inner West pop.

Did you read those descriptions? Did you see how fucking good those bands sound? Even if you haven’t heard of a single artist on the ‘Inhalation Compilation’, the luscious descriptions of some ginger on the Internet must make you want to pick up music on a format many don’t even know exist. It’s simple – these are some fucking great, if unpolished, bands who champion the amateur aesthetic. You don’t need Rick Rubin to produce your single, or a mountain of coke to help ‘inspire’ you. All you need is a sharehouse, an instrument, maybe a four track, and a future compilation featuring amazing bands like this.

You can splash out and buy the tape here, at the EXXE Rekkids Bandcamp. Because you don’t need groceries for this month, right?

EXXE Records is gonna have a launch at The Chippendale Hotel in, yep you guessed it, Chippendale. Sleep Debt, Julia Why?, King Tears Mortuary, MOB, The Friendsters, Mope City, Destiny 3000 and Ghastly Spats are all gonna play for the cheap, cheap price of $12. Sick, see ya there.