Album Review: JuliaWhy? – Wheel

JuliaWhy? ends with a question mark, but it’s not the kind of question mark that’s soft, and only mildly troubled. Instead, it’s a question mark that screams and stomps, and a threatening gesture of exasperation rather than kindly mentorship. It’s the response to the bratty child in the mall that won’t stop screaming, the frumpy teenager with a smudged frown and a bad haircut, the employee who would rather read dumb Sydney blogs than do any real work. JuliaWhy? have taken that frustrated scream, bottled it onto their long-awaited debut record and popped the fucking cork.

‘Wheel’ is a pleasantly surprising record that’s absolutely packed with pop-influenced raucous that contain enough blast-power to be used in Chilean mines.  The majority of the album slides by with powerful, gnashing punches, as frontwoman Julia Wylie ferociously thrashes her voice around an untameable maelstrom of guitar melodies. She is restless and unstoppable, moving through the record with a Kim Gordon-esque banshee squeal and sugary sweet verses that Kim Deal wish she thought of first.

Maybe it’s the short run-time of the overall product (18 minutes) and song lengths (the majority between 1-2 minutes), and that short time frame allows for JuliaWhy? to be as punchy as possible. But there are heaps of punk bands who can get uninteresting too quickly. Instead, it comes down to the fact that JuliaWhy? know how to shake things up, like a garage version of George Clinton. From the velvet, breathy “Turntable”, to the searing thumbing of “Painkiller” and “La La Love”, to the hilarious horny jangle of “Flowers”, it’s been a while since a record has moved around this much, and yet retained focus and remained so tight-knit.

What it comes down to is infectious and fantastic songs. They’re short knockouts that scrape away bullshit, and replace it with the kind of delirious, fuzzy pop that put Karen O and Sleater-Kinney on the map. Try not to get your feet stamping along to “Just One Night” or “I’m Not Gay But My Boyfriend Is”. It’s nigh impossible. ‘Wheel’ is well-executed in every fashion, a long-awaited but masterfully delivered snapshot of a band that’s not afraid to hide their great ability to write a song, nor terrified at the thought of smothering it in layer upon layer of frantic fuzz.

JuliaWhy? are gonna be launching ‘Wheel’ at Brighton Up Bar on April 5th, with support from The Cathys and Melon Melon Melon (the band so nice they named it thrice). See ’em off before they head to Canada, and pick up a copy of ‘Wheel’ at their Bandcamp!

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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.

Video: JuliaWhy? – Just One Night

Sydney’s JuliaWhy?, a band which features members of punk extraordinary Snotty Babies, as well as The Cathys, King Tears Mortuary, and Sleep Debt. But whilst these projects cover a variety of genres, JuliaWhy? present a much more slick and gothy version of garage rock. On their new one “Just One Night”, there’s a strong Yeah Yeah Yeahs richness there, which is also permeated in the video.

Developed by some hella talented NIDA students, it resembles that clip for “Heads Will Roll”, only instead of a snazzy, ponytailed werewolf, there’s a pretty zombie. Whilst the beginning looks like things are about to get a little Carrie-d away (BOOM! Fuck I am GOOD!), they take a turn for the Footloose, as our enraptured and undead lovers prom out to some excellent garage jams courtesy of JuliaWhy?