Album Review: The War on Drugs-Lost In the Dream

I remember seeing the name The War on Drugs, and thinking to myself, ‘Woah, that’s so punk rock. Yeah, stick it to The Man…man!’. Then I tuned into ‘Baby Missiles’, and I became Mel-in-Flight-of-the-Conchords obsessed with the band. They had all these elements of psych-pop being bred into really bruised songs. The music floated by, but not without pinching and weeping the whole time. It was eclectic stuff, that managed to be soft as rainbow fluff and rough as Jason Statham at the same time.

Then I found out Kurt Vile used to be in the band, and it all became abundantly clear why my emotions where going through a therapy session run by The Terminator (Judgement Day edition, for those wondering). Now, it’s obvious that Kurt Vile has gone on to become one of the most revered indie musicians, but The War on Drugs have carved their own little niche.

Well that niche is about to expand into a fucking zeppelin, because the new record is pretty darn fantastic. Whilst Vile is long gone, Adam Granduciel has managed to let himself shine as a singer. ‘Lost In the Dream’ lives off of the winding, breezy tracks like dinosaurs lived off smaller dinosaurs. Listening to the album is a beautiful thing, and easy to lose yourself in, the densest indie rock forest since The National’s ‘Trouble Will Find Me’.

However, the voice…the voice! It soars off the palette of Granduciel, an indie rocker’s Picasso. Words drop out of his mouth and twine around the music like an endearing cat, and we all know how rare that is. Echoing whispers on ‘Disappearing’, strutting through the shimmering guitar on ‘Burning’, thrusting and agonising on ‘Red Eyes’…The man’s got his intonation’s down to say the least.

However, there is a problem with the album in that the songs kind of blend into one another. They twist on the themes of hurting, regret, and despair, and the music does a fantastic job of communicating that. But it can get tiresome after a while. There’s not too much wringing of the subject for the album to take the shape it could have. So, after you’ve finished listening to the second track ‘Red Eyes’ (which is undeniably amazing, and I’ll vasectomise anyone who disagrees), you can basically just sit back and let the rest of the album wash over you. There’s interesting parts, but nothing that altogether shifts the album into another gear, musically or lyrically. It’s not until the final track, ‘In Reverse’, when it seems like Granduciel is making an effort to show any confidence, rather than just be poetically wistful.

Don’t get me wrong, this album is great, but it’s not something that stands up and gives a message the same way that Kurt Vile can. The War on Drugs make beautiful music, but it’s like they’ve taken become a bit confused since ‘Baby Missiles’ brought them to my attention.

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Album Review: Ernest Ellis-Cold Desire

Ernest Ellis is, like, crazy cool. Like, if you implanted the genes of Beck into a cool dude made up of body parts from Kurt Vile, Real Estate and Woods, you’d have the Frankenstein of Ernest Ellis. He’d be a fucking mess obviously-there’d be way too much hair in the way. The shaggy manes of Beck and Kurt Vile? Dream on, mate, try shoving a hot poker in your eyes, it’d be less blinding.

But our young protagonist sees his way around this (pun intended) by cutting those luscious locks. Now, he can see, and the things he sees make him sad. Instead of being a mopey loser and making Cure/Enrique Iglesias mashups like the rest of us mere mortals, the Sydney-sider has decided to use his scientific given talents. Harnessing the haunting majesty of ‘Sea Change’, Ernest Ellis adds just enough melancholy-pop that seems to be all the rage right now (see: King Krule, Bon Iver) to the mixture, and the end product is something that’ll be fondly remembered as ‘Cold Desire’.

There’s no doubt that ‘Cold Desire’ is a strong record. It pumps with an unusual energy, tapping into the cold winters that Sydney has never really had, the bitterness of a sour relationship, and a vain hopelessness that is completely genuine. There’s a lot of heartbreak on this album, and the way it churns up your stomach into a thousand pieces, like a cement truck of melancholy, is something that voices don’t tend to do all that often anymore.

Seriously though, the strength of the songs that Ernest Ellis have the craftsmanship and care of fucking Gepetto. Except they don’t waver around the bullshit alive-puppet phase, but head straight to real-boy territory right quick. Their full, fleshed-out realised ideas that link together through a daisy chain of being bummed out.

On, ‘Black Wire’, the most deadset gut-wrenching indie rock anthem since  The Jesus & Mary Chain’s ‘Just Like Honey’, you feel as though you’ve just gone and punched Steve Irwin’s corpse and are dealing with the regret all in one four minute rush. The forehead-creasing anguish that roars quietly in ‘Black Wire’ are, at times, too much, and makes for the next perfect break-up song. When Mr. Ellis mourns, “There’s too much love, there’s too much love, Honey in my head” you want to reach into the song, give him a big hug, and scream, “DUDE, ME TOO! I FEEL YOU DAWG!”.

Although it doesn’t quite reach the same emotional connection and heart-breaking heights of ‘Black Wire’, the rest of the album remains to equally caress and create those hurt feelings. ‘Way Down’ and ‘Shine Like Me’ also hold a ghostly indie-rcok poignancy similar to that of Aussie comrades Pony Face or, for a more popular but less accurate example, Augie March. Not to say the other tracks don’t rain on the heart’s parade-all songs on ‘Cold Desire’ don’t just tug on the emotive strings, but aim to actively replace them with industrial steel replicants that are factory guaranteed to withstand the pressure of melting indie ballads.

For all those who thought it began and ended with Kurt Vile, or are disappointed with the new Beck album, this one’s for you. For those that haven’t been able to get over that breakup from seven years ago, this one’s for you. For those that really dig on indie rock that manages to be intriguing and utterly unpretentious, this one’s for you. For the rest, I hear there’s a new Korn album, or something.

To see me frothing over the new Ernest Ellis album in the flesh, head to Red Eye Records this Friday for a free in-store performance around 5.

New: Mac DeMarco + Damaged Bug + Trust + The War on Drugs + Habibi + Woods

There’s more new songs in this article than there were impoverished orphans in Charles Dickens’ novels. That’s a lotta songs.

Mac DeMarco-Song About Pussy

This song doesn’t actually have a name. Hell, this song probably is just a little fuckaround thing he did between blowing minds at the bunch of sold out shows he did in Australia (I was at the one he did at The Standard, with Twerps. It was awesome, thanks for asking). Anyway, if watching a naked cowboy with an acoustic guitar that just barely covers his pubes, you’re in luck. If you want that to be soundtracked by a sleazy, 80’s throwback track sung by our favourite Canadian, then you’re in double luck. If you want a twist ending, and Mac to randomly pop his frizzy head up at the bottom of the screen by the end of the track, then you have an oddly specific fetish.

Damaged Bug-Eggs At Night

Oh, shit goddamn, hot salsa orgies on a microwave plate! It’s new John Dwyer material! Although that name might not ring a bell, Thee Oh Sees certainly should, a project that happens to be the brainchild of Mr. Dwyer. The fact that the man is nothing short of a King Midas, turning everything he touches into gold, should come as no surprise.

Anyway, although the sad news of Thee Oh Sees going on hiatus has been confirmed as fact, the man isn’t slowing down by any standard, instead adopting the name Damaged Bug, and deciding to put out an electronic-toned solo LP. ‘Eggs At Night’ is the first taste, and fucking hell, its like he’s shoved a five course meal down our throats! The song is absolutely amazing! Slow, creepy, vaudevillian synths creep the song into existence, like the SOS of a lonely, The Fall/Rowland S. Howard-loving lighthouse keeper, whilst Dwyer’s vocals echo like some sort of post-modern Dracula, dripping with loneliness. It’s like Ian Curtis never died after all! Absolutely fucking beautiful, and I mean every word.

Trust-Rescue, Mister

I really, really enjoyed the first album I heard from Trust. It was dark, gothic and delectable as hell. Then, late last year, I saw a music video that completely turned me off Alfons. There was a pop sheen to it that sounded like they’d been dipped in a bowl of Rihanna jizz. With caution, I pressed play on the new single from the band, and was delighted when it came back to that original sound. Weirdly enough, I can’t seem to find that pop track that turned me off Trust. I’ve spent two hours looking, coming up blank. Maybe it was all a bad dream.

‘Rescue, Mister’ takes on a distinctly sophomore-era Crystal Castles vibe, with the spider web female chorus, and gothic synths reaching to newfound heights.Weird disco penetrates this song like I penetrate the walls of The Red Rattler-bug-eyed and awkward, but having too much fun to care that everyone else thinks that its the most out of place thing imaginable.  If this is what Trust ends up sounding like on the new LP, then please, don’t hold back. Alfons: assault me with that freaky disco carnage.

The War On Drugs-Red Eyes

I feel bad, because I absolutely adore The War on Drugs, and yet I had no clue they had a new track out. AND I was away for their apparently spectacular gig at Oxford Arts a couple of days ago. I’m slightly ashamed of myself. Yet ‘Red Eyes’ takes that all away. Whether they’re referring to the side-effect of a spectacular amount of marijuana injections (that’s how you do pot, right?) or from a shit load of crying, the fact remains that this song could be a comfortable sidekick in both situations. Smoother than George Clooney’s ass cheeks, and more resonating in the pleasure centre than a brain implant of chocolate ice cream, ‘Red Eyes’ simply needs to be adored. And the best thing is that it doesn’t even need to try. It seems that all those years with Kurt Vile paid off for the rest of the band, and now, they can hone their own brand of spiritually-cleansing rock. Damn, this is just such a fine song that everyone on the planet should own.

Habibi-I Got the Moves

The band’s name couldn’t be further from what’s on display on this stunner of a track. Whilst the name evokes a Middle Eastern stereotype store you could find in downtown anywhere, the band is a girl group playing surf rock the way it was meant to be done. Super catchy, super light and super short ‘n’ sweet. Its like these women came right off the set of Gilligan’s Island, where they played sexy surfers that abandoned poor Gilligan at the end of the episode. No surprises, it comes off Burger Records, the home of all good surf rock. Good on ya’ Burger!

Woods-Leaves Like Glass

Its been a while since I was in this neck of the Woods (someone give me a fucking sitcom deal). I’m speaking, of course, about alt-country territory. I’m talking about Blitzen Trapper, Fruit Bats and Deer Tick, that weird gray area between shitty indie folk stuff and shitty country music, where the stories are weird and the music is weirder. Woods have always fit in there snugly, and now more so than ever. ‘Leaves Like Glass’ features a brilliant little organ part, which is tugged along by the acoustic guitars strumming their wares. To put it bluntly, Woods become charming as fuck on ‘Leaves Like Glass’, like some sort of hybrid of The Moondoggies and Brad Pitt.

Top 10 International Albums of 2013

 

Yes, it has come that time of year where every website dedicated to some form of culture has a round up of all the good shit of the year. Well, because I’m susceptible to trends, I’ve decided to weigh in as well. With the power of hindsight, I’m going to give my Top 10 records of the year, from overseas. Now, believe me, that’s a hard fucking job, more of a curse. There’s been some great records, some average records (Black Angels, Mudhoney, The Strokes) and some very disappointing records (Arctic Monkeys, Sebadoh, Yeah Yeah Yeahs). And now comes the time to rank them.

Special mentions to the records that were awesome but not super, amazing awesome: Ty Segall, FUZZ, Diarrhea Planet, Death Grips, Cage the Elephant, MGMT, My Bloody Valentine, Deerhunter, Mikal Cronin, Majical Cloudz.

ALSO: Parquet Courts would have most definitely been included in here, but although it was released locally this year, it was officially released last year.

SUPER SPECIAL ULTRA BONUS METAL INCLUSION: Kvelertak-Meir: 

Kvelertak wouldn’t really fit in anywhere else on the list, but their sophomore record ‘Meir’ needed to be included. Just super thrashy, fucking mental to the bone, and more hair-raising than an orgy with horror movie characters, ‘Meir’ is one hell of a record. Kvelertak certainly do justice to their Norwegian metal roots and blast our minds out of our skull on this record.

10. Thee Oh Sees-Floating Coffin

Sure, Thee Oh Sees didn’t do anything super different on their latest album. There wasn’t the psychedelic smorgasbord of ‘Warm Slime’ or the freaky ecstasy of ‘Help’. But ‘Floating Coffin’ certainly ticked all the boxes for a diverse and entertaining listen. Really, John Dwyer can’t do anything wrong when it comes to music, and ‘Floating Coffin’ is evidence of that.

9. Deerhunter-Monomania

Deerhunter make nocturnal-pop music, light enough to chat along to, but dark enough to put you in an existential mood if you listen hard enough. Shrouded in voodoo and jangly guitars, ‘Monomania’ is absolutely fucking awesome to listen to, and will probably never cease to be. Who knows what was happening to Bradford Cox when he was making this album, but his pain has become our pleasure. How very schadenfreude.

8. Savages-Silence Yourself

Not since The Slits has there been such a ferocious, dedicated and focused female-led band. Yes, I’m well aware of Sleater-Kinney and L7, and I do love both those bands. But Savages brought a rawness to their post-punk that is rarely seen in any music nowadays, let alone feminist affliction. The vicious and tantalising nature of every song on their debut record is refreshing and brutal, and I am fucking stoked to be able to see them next year at Laneway.

7. Wavves- Afraid of Heights

I was so excited for this album to come out, I actually counted down the days until it was out so that I could feverishly jam pack all the songs into my brain. I was so worried that the album wouldn’t be good, I actually lost sleep over it. Luckily, Wavves didn’t chuck a Rise Against, and made a fucking belter of an album right on the cusp of mainstream appeal. A complete distancing from their noise-rock roots and stoner fuzz, Wavves presented themselves with a new-grunge outlook. Angst-ridden and self-deprecating to the core, as well as being loaded to the brim with catchy as fuck tunes, ‘Afraid of Heights’ is definitely a worthy successor of 2010’s ‘King of the Beach’.

6. Washed Out-Paracosm

For 2013, Washed Out were my pick of the bunch of electro wonders (?) of the year. CHVRCHES? Shit. Disclosure? Pretty shit. Youth Lagoon? His new album is so terrible mediocre. And the rest aren’t really worth mentioning. But Washed Out added a whole new layer to chillwave, adding naturalistic textures to his already spread-eagled tunes. ‘Paracosm’ simply let itself flow, flow and flow some more, barely even trying to give the most relaxing sensations this side of ancient Nicaraguan healing medicine.

5. Bass Drum of Death-Bass Drum of Death

I never understood why bands self-title shit after their first EP or album, but as long as its Bass Drum of Death as opposed to Birds of Tokyo, I couldn’t really give a shit. This album encapsulates awesome rock n roll. Its a scuzz overload, way-over-the-top and totally brain dead. It sounds as though John Barrett went into the studio and created the most deranged but beautiful collection of tracks he could. That being said, the album is chock full of catchy tracks that will have you gleefully headbanging into the sunset, like some sort of leather-jacket snotty cowboy.

4. Kurt Vile-Walking on a Pretty Daze

If you’ve ever listened to Kurt Vile before, you’ll know that he exceeds the description of chilled. The guy is like the most relaxed person on the entire planet, a combination of Ghandi with Mathew McConaughey’s character from Dazed and Confused. On his latest record, which is more like a magnum opus, Vile stretches the limits of his imagination, nailing his forlorn sound and breaking hearts one bar at a time. Fuck, this is such a good record, and Vile doesn’t even have to try.

3. Future of the Left-How to Stop Your Brain in An Accident

Future of the Left and Falco are probably the last real ‘punk’ entities left on the globe. There is no other act with the political rigour and viciousness of this band. In every song on ‘How to Stop Your Brain in An Accident’, Future of the Left are committed to waging war against all factions of contemporary society, whether it be bullshit pop culture, religion, false idols or sexuality. This record will tear your fucking head off, shit in the bloody cavity that remains, and still call you a bitch for not moshing to its glorious tunes.

2. Fuck Buttons-Slow Focus

The double-LP extravaganza of Fuck Buttons’ third record is enough to floor the casual listener. If you walk into its abrasive trappings unprepared on a physical, mental, or existential level, this album will decapitate you and leave you for dead. However, for those that can handle the challenging nature of the tracks, oh, how you will reap its prosperous rewards. Every song swings into a new galaxy of sci-fi, tribal beatings, engaging every sense and making you a better person from it. ‘Slow Focus’ is just one fucking brain-basher of an album, in all the right ways.

1. FIDLAR-FIDLAR

My love affair with FIDLAR is an unhealthy one to say the least. Every time someone asks for an album recommendation, I claw their face, grapple their shoulders and scream, ‘FIDLAR! GET THE FIDLAR RECORD!’ until I can scream no more. Needless to say, I don’t have heaps of friends left. But that’s OK (?) because I have the FIDLAR record. Its a loose and reckless thing, the record that lurks at the back of the skate park, covered in tattoos, drinking something awful, and smoking a cigarette that doesn’t smell like a cigarette at all. The songs are full-paced, thrashing pieces of raw garage rock, inspired from everyone from Black Flag, to The Stooges, to Nirvana. This is a perfect album in every way, and will never die in the hearts of those that enjoy the best garage rock this globe has to offer.

Video: Kurt Vile-KV Crimes

Fuck Rocky Balboa, Kurt Vile is the new king of Philadelphia, both in his new clip for ‘KV Crimes’ and in real life. August 28 has been pronounced as ‘Kurt Vile Day’ in Philly, and no wonder: the man is king of the slacker song with a moody edge. Releasing tracks under his indie rock band moniker The War on Drugs, and as a solo effort with his trusty backing band The Violaters, ‘KV Crimes’ comes off his most recent album by himself, ‘Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze’. Although not the best track on the album, it still fits in perfectly with the Pavement-slowed-to-a-snails-pace vibe of the album, and is a really placid piece of work. If ever there was a man to take up the Kurt throne since Kurt Cobain, it would be Mr. Vile.

Best Songs of 2013 So Far

It’s exactly halfway through the year, and within it, we’ve seen some shockingly awesome releases being thrust into our ears like dirty patricians of sound. These molestular devices have slobbered their way onto us in the form of new music from The Strokes, Bad Religion, The xx, Foals, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Bowie, Wire, The Flaming Lips, The Black Angels….the list goes on. We’ve also had a fuckload of local releases from Dune Rats to Yes, I’m Leaving and Willow Beats all holding a torch with awesome new albums and EP’s grating our ears to tinnitus accepters. So, since I can’t be fucked to do albums, these are the best songs from the albums. These are the best songs, in my opinion, of 2013, so far. No surprises, it’s mostly garage-centric.

1. Parquet Courts- Stoned and Starving

2. Grave Babies-Over and Underground

3. Thee Oh Sees-Toe Cutter-Thumb Buster

4. Majical Cloudz-Bugs Don’t Buzz

5. My Bloody Valentine-She Found Now

6. Kurt Vile-Never Run Away

7. Radical Dads-Rapid Reality

8. The Bronx-Ribcage

9. The Men-I Saw Her Face

10. Unknown Mortal Orchestra-So Good At Being In Trouble

11. Atoms for Peace- Before Your Very Eyes…

12. The Drones-How to See Through Fog

13. Palma Violets-Best of Friends

14. Wavves-Afraid of Heights

15. POND-Giant Tortoise

16. Dune Rats-Red Light Green Light

17. Step-Panther-Maybe Later

18. FIDLAR-Cheap Beer

19. Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys-Bite My Tongue

20. Flume-Sleepless 

Clancy: Keepin’ it Real Playlist

It’s my mate’s birthday today, and he has, hands down, one of the most eclectic and beautiful music tastes in the world. Often, I will sit next to him in one of our bullshit classes together, cross my legs in wonder, and stare at him as he triumphantly teaches me the ways of the latest in good music, like Sophacles would teach his pupils Philosophy in Ancient Greece. He is a lover of all things, from Kurt Vile to Lapalux and everything in between. I could not, in good faith, forget his birthday and not make him this. Happy Birthday to the doppelganger of Slender Man. Sorry for the lack of r@p mu-sick.

1. Kurt Vile-Wakin’ on a Pretty Day

2. The Soft Pack-C’mon

3. Heathers-Teenage Clothes

4. Ooga Boogas-Circle of Trust

5. Shlohmo-Just Us

6. Holy Other-Yr Love

7. Fuck Buttons-Colours Move

8. Death Grips-Culture Shock

9. Marijuana Deathsquads-Same Pizza

10. Nite Jewel-Suburbia

11. Megastick Fanfare-June Strangelets (Seekae Remix)

12. Nicolas Jaar- Why Didn’t You Save Me

13. Nosaj Thing-Snap

14. Cloud Control- There’s Nothing in the Water We Can’t Fight (bretonLABS remix)

15. The Soft Moon- We Are We

16. Sex Beet-I’m In Love With You (So Shut the Fuck Up)

17. Wavves- Post Acid

18. Cloud Nothings-Hey Cool Kid

19. Maus Haus-No More Girls

20. The Fresh & Onlys-Waterfall

April Playlist

Summer is well and truly over, and shit is kicking in. Year 12 is looking to be an even bigger bitch of a year than every other one combined, especially with the results of my half-yearlys. Also, the weather is not dissimilar to that in ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ in that it sucks balls. Jesus Christ Sydney, get your shit together! Anyway, in lieu of the major bummer that is April, this playlist is loaded with a bit more of a gothy, post-punk side. #doilooklikeigiveafuckthroughmyguyliner #TheCure4Lyf. But there’s also shitloads of the usual shitty garage and lo-fi, and a little bit of pop thrown in for good measure. Happy Birthday to Davos and Dasha!

1. Grave Babies-Over and Underground

2. The Ponys-Check the Door

3. The Strokes- All the Time

4. Wavves-That’s On Me

5. The Boys Next Door-Shivers

6. Beat Happening-You Turn Me On

7. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club- Hate the Taste

8. Crocodiles- I Wanna Kill

9. Xray Eyeballs-X

10. No Joy-Hare Tarot Lies (<—–Download available)

11. The Men-I Saw Her Face

12. Major Leagues-Teen Mum

13. GRRL Pal-Amazon (<———-THIS IS THE POP MUSIC, IT’S REALLY GOOD)

14. Prissy Clerks-Bruise or Be Bruised

15. Pony Face- Silver Tongue (<—– download available)

16. Bad//Dreems-Caroline

17. Gold Fields-Meet My Friends

18. Tobacco-Fresh Hex feat. Beck 

19. Kurt Vile-Never Run Away

20. Super Minotaur-Locals Only