Fishrider Records are a good starting point for a lot of Kiwi music, like Males, Opposite Sex and Trick Mammoth all signed, and they’ve just put out a band called Death & The Maiden. If it sounds like they could be an under appreciated late 80’s band from their name alone, and it follows through into their music. Only, they’re a current band, existing right now, so feel free to appreciate them even more. Using The Cure, Portishead and Depeche Mode as a base, Death & the Maiden build the pizza of post-punk by adding in some modern pop menace, the kind used in groups like Fever Ray or White Hex.
They had a bit of a misstep with their second album, ‘We Knew It Was Not Going To Be Like This’, but it appears that they’ve returned to strong pop form with this new track. Maybe it’s all the heroin references, but it sure sounds like Lou Reed as a kid with the testipops trying out for a Ride or Slint cover band. A hook as striking as any Peter Pan villain, and melted vocals that plead like John Hughes is back to making so-bad-they’re-classic high school movies.
This kind of half-sinister, half-angular, half-haunted improper fraction stuff is what really got me into New Zealand’s Trust Punks. They’re gearing up to release their debut record on Spunk Records pretty soon. Whilst an updated “Prone Hold” didn’t get the butterflies going off in my stomach, this strung-out and nervous track called “Gordion Knot” is doing leaps and bounds for me. It’s like watching a contortionist build themselves into a tight box, twitching bones and tweaking joints that most wouldn’t have the slightest clue existed. There’s uncomfortable sounds aplenty on here, and the disconcerting chorus is the kind of thing that post-punk does best – a little bit freaky, a little bit poppy, and all kinds of nail-chewing nervousness. Tour here soon please?
In the canon of bands with exclamation marks in their name, Die! Die! Die! stand proudly at the forefront. They’re Kiwis, but strangely enough, they’re more toxic, alluring and immediate than the majority of bands in both Hemispheres. So, don’t hold their 2nd best country in Oceania origin status against them. Yeah, I managed to stick in a completely unnecessary and cliche jibe about how Australia is better than New Zealand. ‘Straya!
Anyway, back to more ‘SWIM’, their fifth ‘album’ (pulverisation of the senses is a much more apt term) Die! Die! Die! couldn’t have earned their right to their triple exclamation marks. Unlike acts like Panic! At the Disco, 3OH!3 and The Go! Team, Die! Die! Die! actually implement a very real sense of dangerous urgency to their music that marks their music as unmistakeable. When frontman Andrew Wilson’s barks ring out over crunching, knifing guitars, it becomes apparent very quickly that you are about to witness some extraordinary music.
Over their 10+ career in choons, Die! Die! Die! have put out some interesting albums that span from ragers, to blood-boilers, to snarlers and post-punk loomers. On ‘SWIM’, they pull all their old tricks into one gorgeous orgy of sound. There are the hitz, which could be staples of the ultra cool underground parties, and then there are songs which go to a different, subterranean level; bone-gnawing, white knuckle rides that speak to the lonely kid with earphones strapped around their ears on a Saturday night.
For the latter example, take the fucking excellent track “Crystal”, which opens with a confused maelstrom of guitar and doom-laden drums, as Wilson’s alternate between a depressed calmness, and a narrow sharpness as rough as the lyrics in the chorus. For the loners and losers out there, this kind of mourner-turned-triumphant song is exactly the kind of thing that makes the hands clench up and want to do something. It’s a call to arms, the kind of thing that Die! Die! Die! excel at (see: “Trinity”, “Sideways Here We Come”).
That kind of empathetic and understanding vein is continued in messy guitar tracks “Jelosy”, and “Mirror”. But it’s not all furrowed brows and wishful thinking, as there’s plenty of the explosive virtuosity that Die! Die! Die! are renown for. “Get Hit” detonates with a chorus that is begging for wail your arms around to, with the trio snapping into pure, focused and unrivalled energy, and creating the perfect track to start ‘seeing red’ to. “She’s Clear” rails against the greatest piece of shit society has known, hypocrites, pairing lyrics about transparency with devilish bass. Or “Sister”, which is a deafening racket that pounds against the ears like being tied to an amplifier playing Wolf Eyes at the loudest volume possible.
You know that phrase, that you can’t judge a book by its cover? Well, in the case of ‘SWIM’, the album cover depicts the contents precisely. Alone, in a bleak environment – cold, harsh elements railing against you. But nonetheless, there’s a power that radiates from beneath the hoodie, beaten and worn, but promising to come back even stronger. If ever there was a perfect visual metaphor for Die! Die! Die!’s consistently formidable output, surely this would be it.
In their careers, Die! Die! Die! have always been impressive. But on ‘SWIM’, the band pull together a cohesiveness, and broad musical and lyrical expertise, unleashing some of the best music to grace the ears of those looking for more out of punk than three chords and a shout. A damn fine album, even if it comes from New Zealand. ZING!
Get annihilated with Die! Die! Die!, when they play their third Sydney show this year at Goodgod, on the 12th of September!
I swear to God, this is the greatest video clip that has been released all fucking year. No, this thing is the best audio-visual piece of entertainment to have landed on Planet fucking Earth this year. Whatever pact Liam Finn made with Satan to produce a clip this amazing was probably worth it.
Firstly, the song is amazing. ‘Burn Up the Road’ matches pop hooks akin to The Saints and Radio Birdman with a delectable, crunchy guitar line that is the equivalent of finding a needle of honeycomb in the middle of a haystack made of crack.
But not only is this track a winding delicacy with the most memorable riff since ‘Stoned & Starving’, it has a clip that’s going to forcibly burn itself into your retinas. It’s basically Tron, but instead of Jeff Bridges looking confused, you’ve got a bulked up ‘n’ bearded Liam Finn versing off against an angsty Kirin J Callinan who looks a bit too much like Peter Sellers (that’s a good thing). The clip is a cartoonish rivalry filled with shitty graphics, greed and life-threatening motorbike battles. Seriously, what are you doing still reading this?
Today’s amazing Australian/NZ tunes is brought to you by the letter ‘B’. The letter ‘B’ is often to used in the descriptions ‘Badass, ‘Bloody’, and ‘Blistering’, which describes the following tracks. Enjoy.
The Babe Rainbow-Secret Enchanted Broccoli Forest
I seriously don’t know what to make of the new Babe Rainbow single title. It’s the kind of thing you’d make up when tripping tremendous balls and staring at a plate of veggies. However, the song itself is pretty redeeming of the title, with some strong Eastern intrumentation, and theremin-wielding taking place. No wonder The Babe Rainbow are on Flightless, King Gizz’s label.
Brisbane’s dark-electronic juggernauts Barbituates have released a new EP’s worth of suspended, alien material. It’s something that would probably play over a Being John Malkovich epiphany or something. There’s dripping wet sounds that revolve at a glacial pace. They’d probably calm down the baby from the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but other than that, they pretty much just tantalise and freak out the average listener. Good stuff!
Jonathan Boulet-Happy Vacation
Jonathan Boulet used to be the go-to indie rock guy. When you wanted something that screamed ‘POP!’, all you’d have to do was chuck on ‘A Community Service Announcement’. However, this new track of his, and the past couple he’s chucked up on Soundcloud, are pointing in a much stranger direction. It’s like Seekae getting swallowed by a lo-fi Godzilla. I’m not sure if this is just a muck-around thing, or if it’s completely serious, but it’s engaging to say the least.
Beach Pigs-Night Surfing
Here’s some more of that gorgeous garage rock, this time by New Zealand band Beach Pigs. It starts out with a fuzzed out, dredged-from-the-gutter bass line, before crashing into a taught guitar line, and coming into full guitar pop territory. It’s a cool track, something that you’d put on for the drive home after a really great arvo surf.
Sophomore slump, la de fucking da. We get it. The first album ruled, and now you’re out of ideas, out of money, and the record labels crawled up your arsehole. Instead of taking some time, and actually making something worth listening to, you’ve pumped out a token ‘radio hit’, and built up 11 songs of filler and utter shit. It’s a tale as old as time itself.
Nah, Popstrangers were always going to be better than that. There will be no random radio junkie bullshit on this second outing. And it certainly can only be described as an outing. The songs on here stretch far and wide, a fucking pasture of guitar reverb and jittery drumming. There is still the same sonic overload that they showcased so well on their debut record, but now it’s tighter, and more focused, less fucking noodling.
Now, when Popstrangers are playing, everything has a purpose, and they’re definitely going somewhere. Of course, there’s always going to be an exception, and things can become mildly placid (‘Her’), but the overarching thesis is that ‘Fortuna’ is strong, and confident.
That’s right, I’m forming a thesis around ‘Fortuna’. A goddamn thesis. Fuck, what has university done to me? Anyway, the point remains that when Popstrangers pull their guns out, and drop guitar bombs, they can’t help but achieve the kind of lossless devoted attention the Reid brothers loved. Lead single ‘Country Kills’ is a perfect example-the swirl of Popstrangers psychedelic melts into crashing, rough choruses that could muster a resonance with a festival crowd. Furthermore, ‘Tonight’ goes for the jugular, Flying Nun jangle evaporating into damn guttural guitar squallor. Shit, ‘Right Babies’ doesn’t even fuck around with easing in the listener, and goes hard out with a spine-snapping, eight-legged guitar riff.
And even though I’m obviously a frother over Popstranger’s more bolstered stuff on this album, the quieter stuff is pretty amazing too. Opener ‘Sandstorm’ hits all the right notes on its way to a pretty orgasmic finish, and the closer of ‘What’s On Your Mind?’ could be the perfect track to forlornly gaze after unrequited love to aka every single romantic pursuit I’ve ever experienced.
Overall, ‘Fortuna’ shows that Popstrangers have grown anything but shy. They’re experiencing with some loud chorus and barrel-chested guitars, whilst losing none of the homely, endearing factors from their first album. And there’s certainly more than enough shoegaze jaw-droppers on here to make the average Slowdive fan gasp in amazement. Good stuff, Popstrangers, come over the pond whenever you feel like, and dash my brains out with you tunes.
Besides having one of the greatest band names ever, Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing are just plain fucking awesome. There’s actually nothing bad about them, because their music is just the sort of float-along shoegaze stuff with a side-dish of post-punk snarl that the world needs now. Fuck love, Earth wants GPOGP.
The band have got a new video out for their single ‘A Fraud Abroad’. As you might have guessed, it’s sinister, macabre, and slightly disturbing, all important ingredients of awesome shit. The video features dark, glitch-ridden VHS loneliness and despair in a room. Whilst fucked up projections spin fucked up nightmares on the walls, and colours distort over a mirage of objects and images I couldn’t even begin to describe, all that’s left is the hollow, patiently droning sounds of GPOGP.
Today’s edition of Ryan’s jizz-tastic explorations is brought to you by the genre: FUZZ. Also, none of these bands are from ‘Straya, so there’s that as well. So many connections, this article feels more like The Matrix than a boring blog post, amirite?
Parquet Courts-Sunbathing Animal
In my own humble opinion, Parquet Courts are the kind of band that the world needs now. Fuck love, we need Parquet Courts. Luckily, the band are never shy of releasing material on a constant basis. Since ‘breaking’ with their official debut record ‘Light Up Gold’ in 2012/2013, they’ve released an EP, and are gunning to release a new album in a few months. ‘Sunbathing Animal’ is the title track, as well as the first taste, and in typical Parquet Courts fashion it doesn’t let up. It’s more furious than Vin Diesel being denied another access to the weights room/steroid lab, and is full of tangled, cross-eyed guitar. There’s the usual speeding, finger-flipping stream-of-consciousness lyrics, and overall, Parquet Courts fail to disappoint. Fuck Parquet Courts for being unable to suck shit.
Popstrangers blasted out of New Zealand with their shoegaze laden debut, but they’ve swapped it for some more straightforward rock on the first single from their upcoming sophomore.And when I say straightforward, I mean a zebra-striped, peeling guitar riff that sniffed the acid residue from an Unknown Mortal Orchestra orgy, and then a chorus of head-bopping, cruise-controlled infectiousness. And of course, there’s a mushy psych guitar solo in there, because it wouldn’t be a decent Popstrangers track without one.
I always wondered if Savages ever lost their viciousness, would they still be any good? Deadset, some random band from Sweden answered that question, and have created a post-punk masterpiece. It starts out like any Jesus & Mary Chain/Joy Division/Sisters of Mercy sound alike, the deep bass ruts providing a sturdy, swirling pedestal. Then the vocals start, and your heart melts faster than a chocolate fountain. As the song swoons on the precipice of perfection, there’s these gorgeous little guitar interludes, and you want to die and live in a place where this song exists as a currency. “Hi, can I grab an apple?”, “That’ll be two spins of ‘No Mercy'”. Wouldn’t that be the best alternate universe ever?
White Lung-Drown With the Monster
And to finish, some screeching, caterwauling punk from Vancouver’s White Lung. These guys are so brutal and knife-edge they make Crocodile Dundee look like a pussy. They command and strut with this new song, always careening on the edge of oblivion and blown-out eardrums. If this isn’t punk rock finesse, then obviously you’re an Avril Lavigne fan. Party on sk8r boi.
Die! Die! Die! hold a very special place in my heart. They’re a punk band that manage to separate themselves from the usual foller by integrating more unusual elements into their songs than could be thought possible. That’s certainly clear on their new track ‘Crystal’. The song starts slow and brooding, which isn’t all too strange for Die! Die! Die!.
But then the signature grind comes in, that state-of-the art wrestling of the instruments that sets Die! Die! Die! apart. On ‘Crystal’, they get more and more frenzied, until it makes your average off-ya-face gurner look like a mild mannered straight A student.
Die! Die! Die! are playing the Captain Cook Hotel for free next Thursday, March 20. I can tell you from experience, they are not to be missed.