Album Review: Total Control-Typical System

Nup, you’ve got to be joking. There’s no way Total Control just released another album. Surely blood should be raining from the sky, swarms of locusts should be covering all available crops, and children should be crying. There’s no other way that a band so holy could announce their second masterpiece without a spectacle at least on par with that. Anyway, whilst we wait for Beelzebub to raise from his slumber, you may as well just read this review.

The reason why I use such excited hyperbole when describing ‘Typical System’ is because this album actually succeeds the genius put forth from Total Control’s debut album. They’ve moved in a million new directions, covering so much ground that it makes you want to throw up in jealousy and happiness. There is still the synth-wadded post-punk and insane fury there, but this time it feels like Total Control are adding more, fucking with the formula, and coming up with a potent potion that puts those mud concoctions you made as a kid to shame.

The main thing when venturing into ‘Typical System’ is that not one song acts as a signifier for the whole album, but rather all the songs together form a jigsaw puzzle that you can only solve after listening to the entire thing. Remember the satisfaction of completing a jigsaw puzzle? Well, gorging yourself on ‘Typical System’ multiplies that weird pleasure by a million.

 

However, there is a key to this jigsaw puzzle, and that key lies in the first two singles from the album, ‘Expensive Dog’ and ‘Flesh War’, two songs that couldn’t be more different in sound if they tried. The former is just crushing, epic guitar, like Hans Zimmer on crack, and ‘Flesh War; is a post-punk epiphany. Although I stand by the statement that no two songs on ‘Typical System’ are alike, they do fall into a category of heart-pounding, cynical ball-tearers, or the synth-wrapped post-punkers that are schizophrenically soothing.

For example, the opener ‘Glass’ is a shot, shining and altogether slinking electronic thing that sounds like Gang Of Four is being squeezed through a wormhole, whilst ‘Systematic Fuck’ is a screaming carnivore. As the chorus of ‘You’re the one to blame’ rings out loudly and abusively, it becomes fairly obvious that Total Control aren’t afraid of making enemies. Rather, they take pleasure in tearing down the walls of timidness and banality.

‘Typical System’ is so much more than an album by one of our nation’s greatest treasures-it’s a record that thrives upon the things that most people sweep under the carpet. Modern fears, modern truths and modern lies are all shouted out by Total Control, with the kind of unwavering energy that GG Allin had. Only instead of throwing their shit at the audience, Total Control use thumping music with more crunch than the Captain, and imprint their tunes with a seal of viciousness and whiplash that belies most of The Birthday Party’s work. That jigsaw mentioned before? Fuck that, Total Control have smashed it to pieces, and created their own goddamn puzzle. Dark, foreboding, and looming, not above you, but with you, Total Control act as the heroes of modern day Australia with ‘Typical System’, and you wouldn’t want it any other way.

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Top 10 Things That Happened in 2013

Okay, just to clarify, this isn’t a list about the best shit that happened in 2013 for music. Although most of it is about some of the really, really great shit that happened, some of it is about some of the bad shit that happened in 2013. That is to be expected, so chin up buddy, dry those tears, and think about the sunny day that Violent Soho brought out their sophomore record, and forget about the time that Miley fucked a teddy bear. 

10. Chapter Music and I Oh You Records (tied)

This has just been such a fantastic year for both these top-notch Aussie record labels. Albeit on opposite ends of the music spectrum, and drastically varying in age (Chapter celebrating their 21st Birthday this year, and I Oh You celebrating their 4th), they have both released some of the best tunes this year, and rightfully won their place in the music community. Chapter Music released a stunning 15 or so records this year alone, with records ranging from the ‘dole-wave’ world-conquerers Dick Diver and The Stevens, to the long-awaited debut album from Primitive Calculators and another new one from The Cannanes. Meanwhile, I Oh You was out there putting on tours for the likes of Earlwolf, Foals (DJ’s) and getting the one and only Neon Love together for a reunion show. If that wasn’t enough, I Oh You also put out another one of my favourite records of the year, Violent Soho’s ‘Hungry Ghost’, and Snakadaktal’s debut record. They also managed to be a bunch of cockteasers and put out tantalising singles for City Calm Down and DZ Deathrays. If these labels can keep the pressure, there’s no telling how 2014 will end up.

9. New Shit From Bands That Haven’t Released Shit In A While

Beware, I’m not talking about bands that reformed, or broke their hiatus. I’m talking about bands that have never broken up, but have been ‘illin on the fringes of musical society, just waiting to return to form with strident singles. The aforementioned DZ Deathrays, Straight Arrows, HTRK, The Avalanches, Royal Headache, Seekae-just a few of the bands that blew us away with stand alone releases that said, “Fuck you, we’ve still got it.” If you haven’t checked out any of these singles…do it, you unintelligible ape!

8. Shitty Albums That People Thought Would Be Way Better Than They Actually Were

Ooooh, the first hot topic! I’m not just talking about Daft Punk here, there were so many built up albums this year that fell flatter than an ad campaign for Vaginal Warts. Arctic Monkeys, Sebadoh, No Age…just a short list of albums I listened to that I wish I hadn’t had, so I could dedicate more time to wistfully thinking about making sweet love to Robert Pollard. But that’s not even scratching the surface of bands like Cloud Control, Cults, Weekend, Soft Metals, Obits and Franz Ferdinand. A lot of bands that I was expecting to deliver stunning results returned with meagre offerings that either cruised along on the strength of predecessors, or worse, fucking sucked.

7. Solo Projects

For me, the term ‘solo project’ is a bit of a dirty word. Most of the time, they’re warning stories for the over-eager frontmen and women. Just ask Johnny Borrell, Johnny Marr or Noel Gallagher…if your album isn’t awesome, you kind of lose all credibility,and come off looking like a wanker. But luckily, there was a whole swag of Australian artists that went out on their own and wandered out as deadset legends. Nathan Roche, Angie, Kirin J Callinan, Geoffrey O’Connor, and Alex Cameron are just a couple names that released some stellar records this year that only get better with repeat listens. No point getting too much into it, just go fucking listen to them yourself. Trust me, these records are more on the Bob Dylan side of the solo spectrum, in terms of awesomeness.

6. Boutique Festivals

In a year where shit is getting fucked up ALL over the place for major music festivals, whether it be the gargantuan amount of drug related arrests, Blur cancelling on Big Day Out, or AJ Maddah telling people that their favourite bands suck tremendous amounts of horseshit, major festivals are becoming more and more fucked. I can’t tell you how pissed I was when I missed the chance to see Massive Attack, Superchunk, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Neutral Milk Hotel all in the same place for Harvest festival, only to see it collapse before my very eyes. And lets not even touch on hip-hop festivals this year, with Rap City, Supafest, Movement all being cancelled.

However, with the absence of ya boiz 50 Cent and T.I, boutique festivals have continually outshone their counterparts. The ‘original’ boutique festival, Laneway, has gone international, and their 2013 edition was fucking awesome. Japandroids, Divine Fits and POND all left massive dents in my brain, right were the pleasure centre is located. Other festivals like OutsideIn, Strawberry Fields and the upcoming, sold-out Secret Garden festival (which frankly has the most amazing lineup I’ve ever seen) continue to dominate. Oh, and Sound Summit was one of the most pleasurable and unique experiences of my entire life, a smorgasbord of musical delights that will probably never be collected in the same period again. Fuck me, if boutique festivals become a thing, how the fuck will yadda yadda capitalism, Soundwave, Nova 969, joke, haha.

5. Reformations-the fucking shit and the not-so-shit

Firstly, let’s talk about Black Flag. Maaaaan, did they fuck that one up. One of the all time greatest punk bands became a petty squablling bitch fit of the highest order, and at the end of it all, once-stoked fans where left with an album called ‘What The…’, which compromised of a bunch of piss-take ‘punk’ songs and an album cover that looked like ClipArt threw up. They fucking fired Ron Reyes onstage! Black Flag aside, bands that also wanted money to buy that brand-new toaster and reformed included Boyzone, The Backstreet Boys and Girls vs. Boys. It reads like a list of who-gives-a-shit.

However, on the plus-side, Jurassic 5, Philadelphia Grand Jury, and Powder Monkeys all put aside differences and got stuck into some gigs. And by some miracle, the mother fucking Replacements got together again! What! That’s amazing! I nearly blew a load when I heard that!

4. Electronic Music???

Electronic music has had a confusing year in 2013. On the one hand, there has been some absolutely froth-worthy local shit that has gotten tails wagging and genitals exploding. Touch Sensitive, Wave Racer, Cosmo’s Midnight and Hayden James have had stellar years, and underrated labels like Future Classic, Silo Arts, and Yes, Please have all shot to national attention, like synth induced erections. And let’s not even bother to touch on Flume-that guy gets enough deserved praise.

But in terms of mainstream music, the result has been mixed like a cocktail served by a squirrel with Parkinsons. Of course, Disclosure released that pretty killer album. But the likes of hardstyle trap from the likes of Baauer and DJ Snake, and the legions of mindless DJ’s that trample our radio waves that release forgettable single after another dilutes a lot of the mainstream appeal of electronic music. Not even new albums from Jon Hopkins, and Boards of Canada, or the embracing of the genre from indie rock icons like Arcade Fire and David Bowie, could distract from the likes of Knife Party destroying decent music. Although it is undeniable that electronica had a killer year on the local front, its better to forget that other shit happened outside of our shores.

3. Debuts

Face it, a lot of debuts came out in 2013, and they all rock me better than a hurricane. International props to the likes of Savages, FIDLAR, Eagulls, HAIM, Jackson Scott, SQURL, HUNTERS and Atoms For Peace. But that doesn’t even come close to the amount of talent that pooped out shining nuggets of debut gold this year in Australia. TV Colours, Gooch Palms, Bad//Dreems, Food Court, Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Zeahorse, Bloods…the list goes on…and on….and on. Batpiss, Clowns, Amateur Drunks, Reckless Vagina! Unity Floors, Day Ravies, The Stevens, SMILE! These are just a couple of my favourites, but you get the idea. There was a fuckload of bands that popped their cherry and the collective music community lost their shit. Blood was everywhere.

2. Miley Cyrus and the Death of the Child Star

Look, I actually don’t hate Miley Cyrus. I think her music sucks, her taste is awful, she acts and sounds like a spoiled brat and is a living cumstain, but she’s actually the perfect pop star that this generation needs. She’s like The Dark Knight of shitty, over-produced music. And good for her for completely shaking off the goodie Hannah Montana image.

But therein lies my point. The Jonas Brothers broke up this year, the Biebs has conveniently spray-painted, prostituted and retired (?) his way into a ‘bad boy’ image, and we all saw Miley nearly fuck Robin Thicke onstage at the VMA’s. Right now, there isn’t really a glistening child-star to sell t-shirts. Even Lorde, the youngest pop star of the moment is more grown up than the majority of twenty year old hipsters that infect her concerts just to say they saw ‘Royals’. She hung out with fucking David Bowie and Tilda Swinton for her birthday party!

Regardless, 2013 saw the Death of the Child Star, a feat that should both cause us to all be thankful, and astonished.

1. Local Garage Rock Hit a Fucking Peak

Garage rock, my favourite genre, has well and truly hit its peak at the moment, and shows no signs of declining. Seriously, attend any bar in any capital city in Australia, and there’s a 1-in-3 chance that there’s a garage rock band giving it 100% and blowing minds.

Not only is the live scene of garage rock well and truly at a high point, but the albums these bands are making are astoundingly good. Palms and The Gooch Palms released underdog debuts that blew everything out of the fucking water like a land mine in a kiddy pool. TV Colours took the usual formula and added dashing synths and samples to create a tale of fucked-up-ness that’ll have you massacring penguins just to get your hands on some more. And Bad//Dreems single handedly resurrected the sound that was left behind where GOD put it.

Outside of debuts, garage bands that have already established themselves continued to push shit further into the realm of amazeballs. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Witch Hats, Ooga Boogas and fuckloads of others continued to do what they do best-ensure that we, the shitstains of musical society, are enjoying their output more than humanly possible.

As if that isn’t enough, there’s new garage bands springing up all over the place, and the sound still hasn’t been tired out. Bands like Doctopus, The Living Eyes, Tiny Migrants and Adults are just a very small handful of the concoction of rock n roll music that is permeating our ears on a local level. If you haven’t done so, check out all of these bands and more.

We are living in a renaissance of the greatest form of amatuer music in all its forms, and the least you can do is contribute in some small way. 2013 was one of the best years for Australian music, garage and rock n roll specifically, because finally, all the years of hard work that these bands have done has started to pay off exponentially in fantastic records and performances. Get along to a show, buy a record, and ensure that 2014 means that local music is better than the last shitstain of a year.

Album Review: Ooga Boogas-Oogas Boogas

I was once told that if I ever wanted to make a friend, like, ever, then I might want to break the ice with a joke. So, here goes: What do you get when Mikey Young from Eddy Current Suppression Ring and all round musical god starts up another band with some kick arse prodigal entities that love the shit out of some Scientists? Ooga Boogas second, self-titled album of course! Are you guys laughing as hard as I am right now? Are you laughing at all? Do you want to be friends? I made a replica of you out of peanut butter and your old toenails! I promise it’s not an effigy! Where are you going? It’s cool, I’ll see you tonight, when I watch you sleep and bottle your snores in a sealed jar.

Anyway, my creepy manifestations aside, this is a brilliant record that you should consider getting if you want to be associated with the phrase ‘…good music taste…’. Yes, Mikey Young, of aforementioned Eddy Current fame, has taken time out from being a godlike genius behind the control panel (this dude is a renowned producer, of everything from Anti-Fade records to local acts like Food Court, and acid legends The UV Race, and taken up his rightful throne as Aussie garage king. So much allusion in one sentence, I know, but deal with it princess. Anyway, Ooga Boogas create distinctly Australian music that throttles like a V8, is toasty as a Sunday arvo barbecue, and as good as a ripper sunset. I have never typed, nor spoken the words ‘ripper sunset’ before, that’s the sort of power this record has over me.

It’s undulating a weird, and shows an underbelly to garage music that you wouldn’t normally find in your average Aussie garage jammers, of which there is currently an abundance. Opener ‘Circle of Trust’ is a real ball-licker, boasting a classic Eddy Current addictive bass line, and the off-putting, cult-like. When frontman Stacky (Of Sailors fame, a damn fine garage band, up there with the likes of Native Cats/Terrible Truths) chants ‘Come join, come join us’ and then the hypnotic melody kicks in, I’m not sure whether I should take the red pill, the blue pill or both (Yeah, I pulled a Matrix reference, AND linked in a Taco ad. Where is your God now?). ‘FYI‘ is a synthy, crazed jolt of reference to 80’s synth-pop, but done with the deliberately botched care of a 1950’s mad scientist or Mel Brooks. It’s a black and white, hands to your face, stilled circumnavigation of the brain, poisonous organ sounds  infiltrating from every side and burning holes left and right. ‘Mind Reader’ is a Nick Cave-y ballad sort of thing, done with the upright tempo and disturbing lyrical content that makes these kinds of songs so arresting. You think what I said in the first paragraph was fucked up? ‘You said that you were sleepy/ So I made you some Camomile tea/ And I slipped a little something in your drink to help you sleep/ But when you woke up in the morning, I assessed you were less than impressed!’ cries Stacky, in what could be the worst case scenario sequel to Grinderman’s ‘No Pussy Blues’. The first track on Side B, ‘Sex in the Chillzone’ is another creepy thing that makes every hair stand on end, and totally puts you in the frame of mind that the song is describing: having sex with a stranger whilst being incredibly high on drugs. Not many songs can claim that. Stacky’s voice is suitably plaintive and forceful, as if he’s pushing each lyric into your ear, and choking you with the song’s potently simple ryththm.

Fortunately, after the clasp of ‘Circle of Trust’, ‘Archie and Me’ seems to assure the listener that Ooga Boogas don’t want to pour cyanide down your throat, but rather take you out on a friendly trip to the Nullarbor. Name-checking almost as many Aussie tools as ‘Down Under’ by Men at Work, ‘Archie and Me’ is something You Am I might have chucked out on their better albums, and is a friendly, cooling jam that softens what could have been a bitter blow for many after the overwhelming first track. This seems to be imminent on the whole record, as every time Ooga Boogas freak out, they pull back on the next track, and drape you in something nice and comforting to remind the listener that the album is your weird-as-fuck mate, and not the serial killer who lives down the street and always smells like pomegranates and has a dingo’s pinkie on a necklace around his neck. Hell, the closers on both Side A and Side B are not only affable, but are at home with embracing you as a family, like a Midnight Oil song that isn’t shit. ‘It is A Sign‘ is a tantalising love spill, and ‘A Night to Remember’ is something you play whilst circling around a fire in country Victoria, jumping hand in hand with a loved one as it blasts out of the radio. It could be a Go-Betweens track or possibly a Paul Kelly track, but there’s no doubt it belongs on an Ooga Boogas record.

The beauty of the record lies both in it’s ability to shock, scare, comfort and warm the listener. Whilst some points might have you perking up and weirding out, it’s perfectly balanced by the moments in which a smile just crosse your face, and your brain explodes in an endorphin overload. This is a prime Australian treasure, and Ooga Boogas show that they will play their own game, and despite that, guarantee you entertainment. It’s a diverse love letter of a record, and stands out on its own, something that an Australian band, especially in a genre that can be derivative such as garage, should claim as a solid stakehold in the music they produce. If ever there were a band to replace The Scientists as the prodigal sons of Australian garage, the honour would go to all the dudes from Ooga Boogas.

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