Top 10 Australian Albums of 2015

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I’ve listened to a fair bit of music this year. A decent amount, I’d say. Some of it was old, some of it was new, some of it was shit, and some of it was really fucking shit. But for the most part, it was really, really, really fucking good.

And at the pinnacle of it all was music from this country – there were plenty of things to be ashamed of Australia about this year, but music wasn’t one of ’em. After years of ignorance and cultural cringe, trying to echo the charts of the US and the UK, Australia produced three globe-conquering bands that feel like they could have only been birthed right here. Regardless of how you feel about their music, the fact that Courtney Barnett, Tame Impala and Hiatus Kaiyote wrestled the spotlight back to the land of Vegemite and lockout laws can only be a good thing. At best, it’s a chance to show how Australia can excel whilst working outside the lines of what is considered traditional pop music, and at worst, you can be a little bit patriotic when it comes to these fucking year end lists.

None of the aforementioned artists actually feature in my favourite albums of this year – the records were objectively good, but I’ve never been at the pub, heard “Let It Happen”, and turned to my best mate with a wide grin. However, I respect the fact that they’ve gotten the world’s attention to Australian music again, and now that we’ve got their eyeballs in a Clockwork Orange binge position, we suffocate them with as much of the good stuff as possible. Such as:

10. Dick Diver – Melbourne, Florida

Melbourne, Florida holds plenty of reasons as to why you should be showing Dick Diver to everyone you know. Even without mentioning their magnum opus Calendar Days, shoving songs like Waste the Alphabet” or “Tearing the Posters Down” should be high on your priority list of songs to put on when someone asks “What should we listen to?”. There’s a narrative tilt to the way that Dick Diver write songs that’s unmatched amongst their contemporaries. If anyone claims that jangle-pop is too disaffected and obsessed with the mundane, smack them sideways with your copy of this record, and showcase the emotional weight in songs like “Boomer Class” to silence them effectively.

Full Review of Dick Diver’s Melbourne, Florida

9. Bad//Dreems – Dogs At Bay

If Dogs At Bay had been released during the period that Bad//Dreems are emulating, then it would’ve been one of Au-Go-Go’s most prized possessions. As it happens, Dogs At Bay came out in 2015, and introduced a whole new generation of kids to the glory of pub rock. Beer-soaked riffs, a howl that reaches all the way to the loner coughing up their life savings at the pokies, and a wide swathe of material that nodded to folks like GOD, Coloured Balls, The Go-Betweens and The Angels, Bad//Dreems pounded the listener with an affecting album of impressive rock.

Full Review of Bad//Dreems’ Dogs At Bay

8. Palms – Crazy Rack

Outside of Sydney, it seemed like this record was a bit ignored. Which is a huge shame, because it’s full of rock gems that span from the riff hurricane of “Bad Apple”, to the Cheap Trick-spiritual successor “Thoughts of You”, to “Sleep Too Much” a face-melter that rivals the power of The Ark of the Covenant. There were also pleasantly surprising softer moments that took Palms away from being pigeon holed as a band that could only do garage-rock. When you feel a bit shit, and needed that quick fix of heartfelt headbangers that you’re not ashamed to belt out off-key and shred an air guitar to, crank Crazy Rack. 

Full Review of Palms’ Crazy Rack

7.  MAKING – High Life

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/132638620″>MAKING – COME 2 ME</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user41667982″>TRAIT RECORDS</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

MAKING were the band that took me by surprise most this year. I’d never seen their live show before, and had only really glanced through their previous singles. Which is how “Come 2 Me” hit me so hard, Thor’s hammer splicing open my skull, caving in expectations. Indeed, all of High Life has that effect of being ripped apart from the inside by a pack of raging rhinoceros. Over the course of a half-hour, MAKING pulverises minds to dust, leaving you shivering, cold and begging for more. Their approach to music – thundering drums ploughing into a swelling bruise of menace until the whole fucking thing explodes – is exceptional. Furthermore, the sheer musicality of MAKING is terrifying: HOW DO THEY MAKE THE SOUNDS THEY ARE MAKING? How do they force their record to appear like the apocalypse? It’s complexity completely removed of pretension, just bucking insanity stripped to its most batshit crazy.

Full Review of MAKING’s High Life

6. Heart Beach – Heart Beach

Hobart’s Heart Beach are an unassuming bunch; they use what they need, and nothing more. Their cover for their album is just a heart and a palm tree – nothing fancy, just enough to let the kids know what they’re getting. Musically, they’re just as sparse: mild guitar lines, feathering drums, the occasional burst of noise, and lightly duetting vocals that miser around bum-puffing, waiting, and the small pleasures you hold dear when you work in office.

And with that simple tool of simplicity, everything that Heart Beach quietly whisper is a boom. When you’re a band like Heart Beach, loaded with inherent sorrow, its the little things that count the most. This is an album focused purely on the little things, and for that, this unassuming record has become one of the most powerful of the year.

5. Gang of Youths – The Positions

The accompanying story to The Positions makes it clear that it was always an album that was going to be made. It’s a testament to the band’s ability that what they have made is so good. Pivoting between enormous waves of Springsteen arena-ready rock and intimate moments  that could easily belong on a Joni Mitchell record, the thing that holds these changes together is frontman Dave Le’aupepe bare honesty. Put in the same position, there’s no fucking way I’d be comfortable sharing  ideas like suicide, critical levels of self-doubt and watching the person you love the most slowly dying in front of you. But that’s what Gang of Youths do, and its a jaw-dropping experience of an album because of that.

The Positions isn’t just an album that’s captivating because of its story, or because of how a person is telling the story, or because of the musical accompaniment, but a sum of these amazing parts. Do yourself a favour, and sit down with this album. Don’t get distracted, don’t listen to just the singles, listen to all of it. By the end of that run-time, if you’ve done it properly, The Positions will have hit you like a fucking train has ploughed through your soul, and you’ll be thankful for it.

Full Review of Gang of Youths’ The Positions

4. Roland Tings – Roland Tings

Here’s a good reason why Year End Lists matter – without Mess + Noise’s ‘Best Songs of 2013’ article, I never would’ve found Roland Tings. Since hearing “Tomita’s Basement”, I’ve been devoted to everything he’s put out. It’s just the smoothest music in the land right now, exotic soundscapes made by a bonafide genius.

Roland Tings’ debut is one that just keeps on giving, whether it be the hyperactive, salivating “Pala”, which sounds like Tings recorded synths over the best pool party ever, the cavernous “Cultural Canal” or the tantalising squelch of “Coming Up For Air”. Roland Tings made a party record that is universal, a protege extension of Todd Terje’s thrilling music. It is so easy to get lost in this album, but when its a record this flamboyant, diverse and fun, you’ll never want to get out.

Full Review of Roland Tings’ Roland Tings

3. Power – Electric Glitter Boogie

Putting on Electric Glitter Boogie, you get hit with the same feeling that accompanied people hearing Raw Power and Teenage Hate for the first time. There’s a carnal, primitive energy that only hits rock music every now and then, a spark that sounds like someone throwing a toaster in a bathtub.

Electric Glitter Boogie is unrelenting in its mission to seek and destroy what was previously the most maddening rock to scorch this Earth. Every song wreaks complete destruction, proto-punk missiles sinking their teeth into your very being and thrashing around, until your as cold and lifeless as all the other victims. When Power scream, they flatten their surroundings to patches of dirt. Power make me want to put my hand in a blender, and laugh all the way to the emergency room. They’ve made the most maniacal, demented, absurd ode to real rock music capable, and if you have any interest in the carnivorous power of guitar, you need to indulge in this album. Power’s title doesn’t just ring true, it redefines the meaning.

Full Review of Power’s Electric Glitter Boogie

2. Blank Realm – Illegals in Heaven

A year later, and Blank Realm are still on top – their 2014 masterpiece Grassed Inn seemed like an unbeatable benchmark for the group, but here we are: Illegals in Heaven is Blank Realm’s SECOND magnum opus.

There’s not a song on this album that isn’t a total winner, even if they incite that reaction for different reasons. “No Views” cries victory for its chugging riffs and squealing keytar, whilst “Palace of Love” and “River of Longing” triumph with their stories of lost love that are so intimate, yet could also apply to millions of relationships out there. And “Gold” remains possibly the best song Blank Realm have ever written, and in following logic, that means its one of the best Australian songs ever written.

Illegals in Heaven isn’t a perfect album, it is the perfect album. There is so much here to fall in love with, a constant stream of discovering new points in the album to exclaim, “Well, fuck me, that’s got to be the best thing ever recorded!”. It’s an album to be listened to with friends, with strangers, by yourself, at the pub, at a party, at a funeral, at the fucking fish and chip shop – there is no situation to far fetched or ordinary that Illegals in Heaven wouldn’t make the perfect companion to. Buy this album, hold it close, and severe all ties with anyone who tries to “borrow” it.

Full Review of Blank Realm’s Illegals in Heaven

1. Royal Headache – High

There’s a whole list of reasons as to why High is the best and most important record of 2015. It sees one of Australia’s arguably greatest contemporary band return to form after a three year absence, it sees them extend and explore beyond what they became so well known for, it followed one of the best performances the Opera House has ever been privy to, and Iggy Pop really liked it.

But the main reason why Royal Headache top this pretty irrelevant list is because High wins from sheer listenability. And isn’t that precisely what a good record should be? I’ve listened to this album more than any other this year, so much so that I’ve worn out my first copy and had to order a second one. I love it so much that I’m terrified to write about it, because I know I won’t even get close to describing how good it is.Whatever your rating system is, 10 stars, 5 flaming guitars, A/B/C/D, whatever…High doesn’t just take out the highest possible rating, it expunges that system from existence, and sits glowering atop the rubble.

The way Royal Headache punch through song after song, bringing the house down every two minutes or so – that’s exactly what drew me to liking music in the first place. High incites a reaction in me that hits so close to the bone that I’m embarrassed to even talk about it. This sounds like raving, but it’s important, at least to me, to express how much of total fucking masterpiece this record is. If there’s anyone out there with a doubt of how good a band can possibly be, chuck on this Royal Headache album, and feel all your cynicism at modern music fade away.

Full Review of Royal Headache’s High 

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Gig Review: At First Sight Festival

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What kind of world do we live in that some fucking ginger kid with the social etiquette of Todd Carney on a handful of pingas can make out with a copy of Slayer’s Show No Mercy AND boogie to NO ZU in the space of a single day> It’s a truly  barbaric thought, and it’s one that came true just a few days ago. At First Sight Festival, curated by Marty Doyle of Dusty Fingers fame, happened over the weekend, and it was a truly glorious time for all involved.

Full disclosure – I was involved in some aspects of this festival, but not anything that could be considered important. Nope, Count Doyle did it all, from booking an incredible lineup which somehow deviated from the usual Tkay Maidza/Hilltop Hoods/Sticky Fingers combination, to the promotion, scheduling, and other organisational duties that no sane person should be willing to take on. Instead, I was tasked with trapping a member of Blank Realm in a car, and chewing his ear off for hours on end. It did mean missing the early portion of the festival, but according to multiple eye-witnesses, Rolling Blackouts and Royal Sitars were best on ground.

The first moments of At First Sight that were seared into my eyeballs belong to the explosive set of Palms. Seriously, if you haven’t listened to their new album Crazy Rack, then fuck off and do so. There’s no reason to continue reading, just plug yourself into this masterpiece for the next half hour and only return when you’re finished. Done? Fucking hell, so you’ve come to the realisation that these Palms dudes would sound alright blaring out from a fuck-off, huge mountain of speakers, yeah? Because that’s what happened; Palms ploughed through all the hits from their two records to date, smashing “This Last Year”, “Love”, “Bad Apple”, and “Beatdown” with the kind of howling ferocity that forces you to lift a fist (IF NOT BOTH) in the air with mashing glee.

TEESNicholas Allbrook and Lucy Cliche all swiftly followed with impressive sets. TEES provided a dreamy set that showcases that their dreamy pop material works just as gorgeously on a stage as it does in .mp3 form, and Nicholas Allbrook brought the weirdness in leaps and bounds. Literally, the man cannot stay still – although his set suffered from such sporadicalness, shifting manically and at an unpredictable whim, the POND frontman remained enjoyable. Lucy Cliche was a bevy of intensity, her thudding, sharp dance music transforming a small bunker at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon into a thriving hive of hungry gazes and shuffling feet. Do yourself a favour, and make yourself as familiar as possible with her work.

This next passage might seem hyperbolic, but it’s not. If anything, whatever words I type next will be under-representative of the insanity that is NO ZU. An eight piece hydra indebted to raising the heat of a room by several degrees, the Melbourne collective had pulses racing at an unhealthy rate. Folks should have been having heart attacks from all the exercise that was going down, but sheer joy and anticipation for what NO ZU would pull out next forced them to party on. They remain to be one of the funnest, strangest, most exotic things on this planet, a laboratory of thrilling genres mashed into a sweaty dance-floor filling experience. Forget heroin, NO ZU are the most addictive substances on the planet.

Still reeling from NO ZU, Nun continued the legacy of Melbourne acts putting on exhilarating performances. A member was wearing a Gutter Gods t-shirt and that wasn’t even the most punk thing on stage. Front woman Jenny Branagan is fucking mental to watch. She is the greatest thing to happen to a stage since our prayers were answered and Dave Growl fell off of one. She jumps, dives, sprawls, screams, thrashes and delivers shriek after shriek, her band’s domineering wall of synth punk throwing jabs from behind her. Incredible – if you haven’t picked up their debut album then fix this gaping mistake in your life with a little bit of this.

Following Nun are Brissy’s Blank Realm, who have been awarded the very prestigious honour of “BEST FARKIN BAND IN AUSTRALIA”. They get this award because they a) wear Pere Ubu t-shirts, b) rock keytars like Duran Duran didn’t fuck it up for everyone, c) are possibly the best songwriters in the country and d) because fuck, have you heard Blank Realm before? They’re amazing! Of course they rule live, how could they not? When you’re a band that owns a cache of tunes like “River of Longing”, “Falling Down the Stairs”, “Reach You on the Phone” and “Go Easy”, it’s hard to be anything less than “BEST FARKIN BAND IN AUSTRALIA”.

Previous duties withheld experiencing My Disco, Broadway Sounds, and most of Andras’ set, but hey, we all know these acts are national treasures, so build a Spotify playlist, and get over it, y’know? Let’s move onto Oscar Key Sung: draped in cloth, the man is pure beauty constructed around eyes of steel and a voice of cotton. His beats switch from lush and textured to the occasional pummel, however, it did feel like he could have benefitted from someone else onstage to help him. It’s hard to fully enjoy a crooner like Key Sung, who is so concentrated on flipping between production, singing and entertaining. He worked best when he was joined by Amrita, who danced their way into all of our adoring hearts, and freed Key Sung up into a party mode.

Moving onward to Total Giovanni – now they’re a band that could give Blank Realm a run for their money. The tagline for this band is “Fun. Incarnate”. With enough energy to power the LargeHadron Collider,  Total Giovanni are Italo-disco superstars, bestowers of the silky sensual. This is a group with only a handful of singles to their name, but every single beating heart in the cavern of Carriageworks was thumping along meticulously to the party that Total Giovanni were delivering. What was the greatest moment? “When We Break” churning a few hundred people into  a sea of flailing bodies? The over-the-top, pelvis-shattering thrusts that took place during “Human Animal? Or the batshit crazy cover of Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s “Precious Rose”? Trying to decide the answer to that question is aneurysm-inducing.

By some miracle, the best moment of At First Sight didn’t belong to any one of the bands mentioned above, but rather, a combination of them via Uncle Donny’s Rotating Sideshow of Stellar Performance aka the Donny Benet Showband’s Tribute to Nile Rodgers. Bringing out all the day’s superstars, including Becky Sui Zhen and Daphne Camf of NO ZU, Oscar Key Sung and Vachel Spirason of Total Giovanni, Donny and co. re-introduced some of the past century’s biggest hits, resulting in an all-out dance bloodbath. The sea was angry that day, my friends. Oh, it was an angry mosh of people screaming, “OH FUCK, I LOVE THIS SONG!” as DB and his merry band played the best version of “Original Sin” since Hutcho called it quits. Special mention goes to Nicholas Allbrook for a very special performance of Mick Jagger’s “Just Another Night”, and in turn, transforming a so-bad-it’s-good song into something so-good-it’s-brilliant.

It’s worth reminding everyone that, whilst all of this amazing music was happening, people were record shopping. Two of the greatest habits, combined into one day! How can someone like me be lucky enough to get The Saint’s I’m (Stranded) and get the opportunity to witness a one-of-a-kind musical experience courtesy of Donny? It cannot be overstated how much of a miracle it is that all of this could happen under one roof: the bands of tomorrow shredding minds and expectations to tatters mere metres away from where some of the most important records are being sold. That’s the dream, ladies and gentlemen. That’s the fucking dream. See you at Carriageworks next year.

Interview: Palms

PALMS Bad Apple landscape

Al Grigg is the nicest man in rock ‘n’ roll, and that’s a fact. When he’s not shredding in Palms or Straight Arrows, he’s got his head bouncing around at a show, managing to get around the entire room and give everyone a hug and the time of day. Remember when Wavves made that song called “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl”? Fuck that, they need to change the lyrics to reflect the real best bloke in rock music.

It’s always a pleasure to get to chat to Al, whether we’re talking shit about who would win in a fight between Cheap Trick and Thin Lizzy, or which pub has the best burger in Sydney. This time ’round, we got to chatting about the new album Crazy Rack, which is just *mwah* absolutely fucking stunning. Read on for musings about fame, depression and The Replacements.

R: Swiggy Griggy!

A: Saarzy! Well, well, we meet again!

R: We’ve been mates for a while, but when we first started to know each other, and Palms had first started…

A: Our courting period!

R: Haha, exactly. When Palms first started, people would recognise you a lot as ‘Al from Red Riders’, and now it’s shifted to ‘Al from Palms’. Do you notice this at all?

A: I don’t really know, or notice the change. But I guess that’s the truth – there’s something else for people to notice me as now. I’m also quite often, and embarrassingly, known as ‘Al from Cream’ [A second hand store in Newtown; go there for autographs]

I was at Splendour with Shane [ParsonsDZ Deathrays/Angus Young’s Protege] and Dave [Williams/WolfmanManly Sea Eagles/Patron Saint of Footy Beards] and they had this funny thing going of who would get recognised first. Then there was this chick and a guy who said, “I know you from somewhere!”. I was like, “Palms?”, “Naaaah”. “Red Riders?” “Naaaaah”, “Straight Arrows?” “Naaaah”. And then they were like, “You’re the guy from CREAM!”. Haha, and yes, I am also the guy from the second hand clothes shop! I probably sold you an old pair of cut off denim-shorts.

R: Do you think that being noticed of how far Palms has travelled since the first album came out?

A: Yeah, I guess. Obviously….we’ve played a lot of shows, and…this is gonna sound really arrogant, but I think it’s kind of true. I think we’re just friendly guys, and we make friends easily. When we meet people, there’s no separation between us as a band and them as people. We’re just people.

That sounds like such a gross cliche (laughs) but you get what I mean. It goes from Al from Palms to Al very quickly. And then it goes to Swiggy Griggy!

R: Onto the record – you guys recorded it twice. When you finished it the first time, and it was decided that it wasn’t quite good enough, was that disheartening?

A: Yeah, it was really disheartening. When you’re writing a song, it’s in your head a bit. Even when you’re playing it live, it’s just an interpretation of how you feel. There’s nothing concrete about it, you have this potential for it: “When it gets recorded, it’ll be really big, and sound like this!”. And then you hear it back, and you see the reality of it, it can be really hard. I thought this was a really great song, but actually it sounds a bit shit. 

And that can be a mixture of the song being shit, the arrangement being shit, you just not playing it right, the mix is crap, or whatever. And sometimes its just your attitude; I think we weren’t ready to record the first time, and I was a bit nego on it anyway. I was just a bit down on it, it didn’t feel right.

I also don’t think I wanted to do it in fits. With Step-Brothers that’s how we did it. We did it with Owen [Penglis, Straight Arrows/Recording Sensei] on one four-track, and then on another four track, and then an eight track. It was cool, but it didn’t have coherency. 

R: What was it like going from recording in Owen’s kitchen, to a proper studio? Was it a throwback to the Red Riders days?

A: A little bit. But still very much a half-thing. We went into Linear Studios with our friend Nick [Franklin, Fabergettes/AUSTRALIA/Recording Guru], so it still had that feeling of being at your friends place. It was still very comfortable, as opposed to this gross, fish out of water thing. For me, that’s always been the studio battle, because I don’t understand anything about [studios], being surrounded by equipment I don’t understand and instruments I can’t play (laughs). I feel a bit inadequate.

R: What do you think the major changes between the first and second recordings of the album were?

A: I think it’s just a bit more confidence. And I mean that in a way that it just feels more varied, there’s more going on. There’s more mellow moments, more jangly moments, it’s not so much a straight-up garage thing. I’m more comfortable seeing this other side of the band. 

I’m more confident with the lyrics as well. The next single we put out is probably going to be “No More”. We’re going to put out an acoustic song. We’re not going to blow anyone’s minds, but we’re just going to let them know there’s a different side of Palms. WE JUST WANT TO LET THEM KNOW THERE’S MORE TO US, RYAN! I’ve got feelings! Emotions!

R: Speaking of moving on from garage, it felt that you were really embracing your love for 80’s pop and rock. There’s a couple songs on there where I think, ‘This sounds like Rick Springfield’.

A: (laughs) I hope we make as much money as Rick Springfield! I reckon that’s a bit of a Dion [Ford, shred lord] influence. When we were finishing Step-Brothers, that’s when he joined the band, a lot of the parts were already written, so he didn’t put as much of a stamp on it. With [Crazy Rack], there’s a bit more of his style. I think “Thoughts of You” is about as close as we’ll ever come to writing a Cheap Trick song. It’s got a cowbell, some Southern Boogie in the chorus…

All my favourite albums, like The Replacements…when you think of a classic Replacements song, you think of “I Will Dare”, or “Bastards of Young”, but there’s only ever two or three of those songs on an album, but then there’s a bunch of punk songs, or alt-country songs, or weird nightclub, jazzy things with piano. What we wanted to do was, if you like classic Palms, you’ll like this record, but there’s other shit to keep you interested.

R: Another thing is that you’ve always been very heart-on-your-sleeve with the music you’ve made. But the songs on Crazy Rack, there’s a lot of guitar, and catchy songs – were you ever afraid your message would get lost in there?

A: I think the message does get lost and no one pays attention to what I’m saying (laughs). I think that’s part of it though. First and foremost, I don’t want to write and sing songs that don’t have meaning to me; when I’m playing live, I want to have something, an emotion to draw on. I want to be sharing something of myself, lyrically, and that’s a hard thing to do. 

It can be a bit too much for people; not everyone wants to come and hear a guy tell you all his feelings. It’s like, dude, go see a psychologist, there are professionals for that! But there’s guitar solos, all that fun and exciting stuff is wrapped around it. So if you want the intensity, if you want to hear a guy put his heart on sleeve, and you enjoy that, the intensity’s there. If you just want to sing along, you can do that as well.

Crazy Rack is out now on Ivy League Records. It’s fucking incredible, five flaming guitar outta five, do yaself a favour and grab it here. If you need any more convincing, then read this. Make sure you catch Palms when they play At First Sight Festival next weekend (the 14th), with Blank Realm, Total Giovanni, Nicholas Allbrook, NO ZU, Los Tones and heaps more! Tix here.

Album Review: Palms – Crazy Rack

Crazy Rack

My love affair with Palms is one that has been replicated by pretty much every teenager with a penchant for the guitar solo. I heard “Love” and went head over heels for the sheer blast of it. Palms weren’t just a band, they were a fucking rock band – which is a very important distinction, I might add. They were not indie rock, not surf rock, or garage rock. It was straight up rock – pure blasts of energy aided by that basic setup of guitar, bass, drum and Al Grigg’s rousing bellow.

Their debut album, ‘Step Brothers’, came through and won my heart. I started seeing this band whenever I could – the live total has reached somewhere around 30 or something. I know I’m not alone in my enslavement  – the same heads are always gathered at Palms gigs with a beautiful consistency. What’s more, every show brings in a new tidal wive of fans, who know every word, and are even more rowdy than the last bunch. Fuck, doesn’t that just make your heart swell? Doesn’t it make you shed a goddamn tear?

In the two years since ‘Step Brothers’ was released, Palms have made some huge steps forward as a band. They’ve switched labels, moving onto Ivy League Records, and graduated from tiny pubs to support slots at the Enmore…but that love for churning out a belters that are customer-made to turn a crowd into a foaming pit of writhing bodies hasn’t moved at all. If anything, the band have indulged even more in their unwavering love for splintering solos and big choruses. If Phil Lynott were alive today, Palms would probably be his favourite band.

The first three songs off Palms’ new record, ‘Crazy Rack’ are like the three points of the rock dog Illuminati. You’ve got “Bad Apple”, which manages to slip in a sheepish nod to the influence of Sydney’s premiere rock legends You Am I between blazing riffs. Then there’s “Rainbows” –  keen observers will note this was originally called “Rainbow Road”, which makes sense considering the fuck-me-it’s-so-hard-to-concentrate-on-not-falling-off-because-off-all-the-bright-flashing-lights pace of the song. Finally, “Thoughts Of You” completes the trifecta, Grigg administering passages of leather jacket-clad love between sleazy grunts of guitar. Three songs in, and you feel like that kid from the beginning of the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” clip, throwing his Dad out of the window with a single six-stringed detonation.

Speaking of hair metal, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to witnesses of a Palms DJ set as to the extent to which they embrace 80’s rock and pop, as Cheap Trick adoration rings loudly throughout. But really, Palms actually share their biggest likeness with a band from a little further down the track – Superchunk. It’s all there: big riffs, heart on the sleeve songwriting, and the ability to be at home just as easily behind a huge anthem like “In My Mind” as they are on doughy-eyed. quieter moment (“Photographs”). They’re a band indebted to rock in the original sense of picking up a guitar, pouring in a whole lot of fire and seeing what happens. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a frantic hurtle like “Beatdown”, a lesson in curled-lip cool like “Sleep Too Much”, or the yearning woop of “Fake Pictures”, Palms will rock it one way or another.

Sure, Palms are just a rock band. There’s plenty of those around. But how many of those rock bands gets you excited about going to see them for the 31st time? Grab your air guitar, chuck on “Crazy Rack” and shred your way to the end of that hypothetical question.

‘Crazy Rack’ is out Friday, the 30th of October on Ivy League Records, and you can pre-order the record here. Palms play At First Sight Festival on November 14th, with Total Giovanni, My Disco, Blank Realm and more. Grab tix here.

R.I.P The Lansdowne Hotel, and Why That Shithole Made Me A Better Person

“Oi, fuck mate, what’s happening tonight?”

“Nah man, I’m absolutely fucked, got no clue”

“Lanny?”

“Fuckin’ Lanny”

The amount of times this conversation has passed between mates and myself runs into the hundreds. We had just left high school, and were loaded with dumb, naive views of how the world and society operated. Getting drunk every night seemed like a feasible option. Punk bands who’s imaginations stretched to minute and a half diatribes felt like genius. Our jobs in retail left us with little to no option but to opt for the cheapest morsels of food. For us, The Lansdowne was able to deliver all of that, and so much more.

Located halfway between the boiling commercial cesspit of the city and faux hippie-laden, over-priced Newtown, The Lanny was a bastion of hope for a bunch of kids who wanted the simple things from life. I say was because, as of yesterday, the historic venue has been sold and will be replaced with a fucking performance arts school. The same place where I, and thousands of others, have stumbled out of after an incredible night of eardrum-excavating rock ‘n’ roll, is being replaced with some NIDA-lite shit.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that the Lansdowne’s history begins and ends with my experiences within it – it’s been one of the biggest champions of rock and roll music in Sydney for a looooong fucking time, and I’m simply one of the many teenagers who have happened through its doors, from its early days in the 1920’s, to the glory days in the 80’s and 90’s. But wasn’t there for that, and this article isn’t about how great the Lansdowne was back in the day when the The Hard-Ons played every second week. I wish I was there, but alas, I wasn’t, and therefore, it feels wrong to come at this obituary from a point of view that isn’t my own.

The first time I stepped inside the Lansdowne, sliding across piss-stained floors, eased past slouching couches, and sidling up to the protracted, splintered bar, it was approximately two weeks after my 18th Birthday. One of my favourite locals Step-Panther were playing a free show, to celebrate the re-opening of the venue after a 2013 fire severely damaged the hotel – I was absolutely fucking pumped. Step-Panther??? At the pub??? Free??? What does that even mean? What the fuck was I about to witness? SOMEONE GET ME A BUCKET, I’M GONNA SPEW!

Actually, the result, especially upon reflection, was pretty void. Step-Panther played well, but there was almost no-one at this show. The Lansdowne cavern remained black and hollow – my best mate and I drank heartily with the band, and it was an exciting time, one of many opportunities I’ve had to split a drink and share my appreciation for my favourite bands after a show. But when the hangover subsided, there didn’t feel like there was any real reason to head back to the corner of George St and City Rd. I returned to more traditional 18 year old activities – Goon of Fortune and unsuccessfully hitting on girls.

About four months later, a guy called Simon Parsons e-mailed me asking if I’d like to DJ at the Lansdowne. He was starting a brand new Thursday night called The Mess Up, and Yes, I’m Leaving and HANNAHBAND were playing. Fuck, of course I was gonna DJ! I rocked up, but the place had completely changed from the abandoned crypt it was before. There were more people there, there was a sense of community, and the whole room felt charged. Maybe it’s looking back through a mirror of nostalgia, but there was definitely a sense of rejuvenation in the saggy bricks that night.

The year that followed from there was the best year of my life, only rivalled by my first year of existence during which people loved me simply because I was a cute-as-fuck baby and I could shit myself at any point without fear of repercussion. Every week, without fail, I was at the Lansdowne. By myself, with mates, it didn’t matter – I was fucking there. There was always a show on, and it was almost always good. From the splashy slackjaw of Unity Floors, to the paranoid vitriol of Constant Mongrel, to the down and out gruel pop of Mope City, there was always something interesting gracing the stages of The Lansdowne that was ripe for discovery. If any band, either local or interstate, asked advice on somewhere to play, the Lanny was the first venue to escape my lips. I was addicted to this shithole.

Soon enough, major draw cards began to befall the crumbling venue – Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Straight Arrows, Palms, TV Colours and The Ocean Party all played incredible sets there. SPOD and Richard in Your Mind played an insane double bill. A bleeding foot stopped a Peep Tempel show, whilst nudity spurred on a Gooch Palms one. Vibrancy, diversity and discovery soon became standard practice at Sydney’s favourite pub. It was an incredible few months that culminated in the MATES Festival in late January 2015. Every single one of my favourite bands in Australia played a series of blistering shows that showered The Lansdowne in sweat and beer. That day still sticks in my head as one of the most brilliant things that has happened to me – an absolute treat!

Then, The Lansdowne bit the hand that was shovelling delicious canapes down its throat with fervour. They let go of their booker Jo, essentially believing that, well, now the people are here, they’ll just keep coming. The gravy train won’t ever stop! Fuck, these kids, they love it here at the Lansdowne! We can hike up the prices a few cents here and there, and no one will notice (believe me, there was outcry when the jugs went from $10 to $10.50). As for booking a pub, how hard can it be? The day they got rid of their booking team was the last day I went to the Lansdowne.

Actually, that’s not entirely true – I went there one more time. The band that the owners had picked for the night was absolutely fucking atrocious. Whereas a Friday night at the Lansdowne usually provided a band like Day Ravies, Alex Cameron or Donny Benet, this headline band was stirring up some absolutely abominable tropical pop shit. I learnt two things that night – that I hate tropical pop music, and that booking venues is incredibly hard. But Jo, Simon, and the rest of the crew behind the Lansdowne bookings did their jobs with jaw-dropping gusto, enthusiasm and knowledge. They knew the ins and outs of Australian music, who played a good show and who played terribly. They knew that to keep a band happy, you actually needed to pay them, which they did gratuitously. They knew that free entry only brings in so much – that maintaining high quality lineups was what brought the savages, not the door charge. And most of all, they knew their audience, and their venue: the average punter who wanted to go to the pub and see some great fucking music. The extent to which they provided all of this is disembowelling.

People don’t seem to appreciate how great pub venues are – they allow bands to play without pretension. The worst show can be a learning curve, whilst the best show can cover the walls and floor with a thick layer of sweat and grime. A casual night can turn into the inspiration for someone in the audience starting a band, who in turn get their first show playing a support slot on the same stage that sparked the discussion in the first place. It’s this aspect that venues like The John Curtin and The Tote achieve so well in Melbourne, and probably explain why there’s such a healthy band scene down there. The bookers actually interact with the local rock groups, and reflect that in the awesome bookings that go on there. Who knew that booking a pub with rock bands requires a knowledge of rock music? It’s a self-fucking-perpetuating force!

Don’t get me wrong, Sydney still has plenty of great venues: Blackwire Records is Ground Zero for punk, experimental and amateur music, and I urge anyone who hasn’t been there to attend immediately. The Vic, The Marly Bar and Waywards are also great venues in Newtown, and GoodGod and Brighton still provide some fairly decent rock shows every now and then.

But in terms of a central pub that wore disgusting on its sleeve, The Lansdowne was unrivalled; a mess of putrid, shit covered bathrooms, smoke-choked beer gardens and chicken-schnitzel that was suspiciously cheap and delicious, this place had it all. From the gorgeous, burned out aesthetic, to the pungent aromas that coated each room, to the sprawl who littered the pavement for lung cancer injections, it was the final bastion of pub rock in central Sydney, and now, it’s gone. It sucks, it really fucking does, but I’m glad that it burned bright for the time it did, and that I was able to slot into the rite of passage that so many teenagers before me have. Even when those welcoming doors have shut, it’ll be nice to remember the constant year of fantastic shows that accompanied me growing up a bit, and realising I wasn’t the hot piece of shit that I thought I was. The Lansdowne is pretty much solely responsible for easing my transition from know-it-all, acne-splashed wanker fresh from high school, to the wide-eyed dipshit who’s finally learnt to shut up and enjoy the good music and people that Sydney has to offer.

Now grab ya 40, and tip one out for the best pub that was.

Video: Palms – Bad Apple

It’s been two fuck-off long years since Palms released their stellar debut record, ‘Step-Brothers’ . Since that release, this band has gotten better and better, and become deservedly well-known. They’ve gone from, “The new band from that guy from Red Riders” to, “Holy Fuck! Palms are playing a show! Fuck, let’s get a ticket!!! Why haven’t we gotten a ticket!!!!????AHH FUCK YOUUU”. And why wouldn’t you destroy a friendship through incessant yelling when a Palms’ show is up for grabs? These blokes have earned their reputation as one of the best and baddest bands in Sydney.

“Bad Apple” has since become a staple of Palms’ set, with the “Talking shit, and listening to/ripping off You Am I” chorus line being one of the more memorable lyrics to burst forth from Al Grigg’s bouncy ‘fro. That thing has a mind of it’s own, and one of these days it’s going to make like Skynet, leap off of Al’s head and rule the world. Terrifying.

But I digress…finally, “Bad Apple” is getting a release. But not just any old Soundcloud upload. No, Palms’ teamed up with the one and only SPOD (who killed his show last Friday, by the way) to do a skating video. I loathe skating, because I can’t do it, but it looks like Palms can pull off a 180 Einstein Wig Slide with the best of them. It’s a feel-good story, a win-win. You bop your head along, and watch a band attempt to rule the skate park and rip guitar solos on top of vehicles like the 12 year olds they truly are inside. A ripper return for an awesome band.

As if all this isn’t enough, Palms just announced a free show at The Lord Gladstone on July 16th! FUCK AWWWWFFFFF! Too good! Too bloody good!

Gig Review: Palms

Thursday, 14th August @ Newtown Social Club

Fuck, I mean, what is there to say about Palms that hasn’t been said? They’re a bunch of local shredders that took the pop genius of Red Riders, and added an injection of rock n roll mayhem. Their album last year, ‘Step Brothers’, was a work of art, covering a variety of musical bases, whilst staying completely original and heavily dosed with a strong suit of singles to get your shimmy on to. So, with the sound of a sophomore LP drawing closer, no wonder they sold out their return show at Newtown Social Club. It’s been a long few months since the Palms boys tore a stage a new one, and everyone in attendance was gleefully awaiting a return to form.

But more on that later. Boasting a member of the amazing band that was Bridezilla, Low Lux opened up the proceedings with a violin and thrashing spirit that was straight out of Poltergeist. The melodies were dark and fantastic, swaying with a thrill not felt since Paul Hogan uttered “That’s not a knife; this is a knife!”. For only their second show, Low Lux made it look like they were well worn professionals, flawlessly hammering out their songs to an eager audience. It didn’t matter if you hadn’t heard any of their material (a statement which unfortunately applies to everyone, as they haven’t put anything up on the Internet just yet). The more they worked their way through their set, the more their confidence and intrigue picked up, a rolling stone of awesome in motion. Whatever they’re doing next, make sure you watch out for it.

Old mates Hockey Dad hit the stage next, and I don’t mean that in the sense that they graced it, or some other bullshit cliche. They absolutely pounded the shit out of it, owning it like Joe Hockey owns the persona of Douchebag of the Year. They tore through the songs off their debut EP ‘Dreamin’ with the kind of poise reserved for professionals. Obviously, anyone that knows Hockey Dad knows that the boys are as loose and rowdy as Todd “Take A Photo Of Me Pissing In My Mouth’ Carney.

But for that half hour set, Hockey Dad were on par with The Strokes, providing calculated earworms that warm the soul with the strenth of a thousands shots of bourbon. Their shambolic teenage rockers are probably the best thing to have come from a couple of young’ns since Lil Bow Wow. A shame that they didn’t manage to take out the Triple J Unearthed High competition, but considering that they’re already so on point in a live and recorded format, it’s hard to see Hockey Dad going anywhere but in the Sia/Gotye/5 Seconds of Summer/Savage Garden direction. By that, I mean they’ll hit #1 on Billboard, not that they’ll Frankenstein those other bands into their next single. Although if they do… the idea came from this guy, and my lawyers will be in contact.

To the headliners, and its been more than far too long since we’ve seen Al Grigg and co. destroy our eardrums with some of the funnest music since “Twist & Shout”, or “Fuck Tha Police”. Nothing gets (white) people dancing harder than those two jams. Anyway, they open with their classic “In the Morning”, a lost Bob Dylan A-side if there ever was one, before launching into their new track “You Am I”. Immediately, one thing becomes clear, as clear as the fact that Abbott is the Anti-Christ: Palms have only gained in their abilities to turn songs about nothing into something. With a chorus that goes “Just talking shit, and listening to You Am I”, the songs speaks volumes. Actually, fuck that, it doesn’t speak volumes, it damn screams them from the mountaintop. Hey Everybody! Palms are back! And they rule!

From here, it’s a classic hit-fest, from “The Summer Is Done With Us”, “In My Heart” and the as-yet-unreleased “Rainbow Road”, which boasts the best chorus, seriously you guys, like, ever. These are al-trock bangaz, (c’mon, let’s make that phrase a thing #trending) rock n roll good times to the core. Also, its became sorely apparent that Dion ‘Danger’ Ford is the most underrated guitarist in Australia. The man shreds like his guitar is a nice brie, and his fingers are slicers, and there’s a Nazi Chef yelling into his earpiece that there needs to be more cheese! More cheese, Dion! More cheese! And so, his fingers whir around that fretboard, smashing each note with furious anger and making all 80’s bands hang their heads in shame.

Closing the show, they pulled out the big guns of “Love” and “This Last Year”. Stage diving and crowd surfing instantly occurred, and because of the ill-placed stage height, my already damaged knees began to cry out in shame (insert crude blow job joke here). These final songs had more power and velocity than Megatron on a coke binge, and tore the fucking roof of Newtown Social Club. There was such intensity, you’d swear that you were in the Breaking Bad finale, only minus the meth and baldness.

After the power-outage inducers that closed their show, there was a genuine, unplanned encore, both the best and rarest type of encore, a logic that doesn’t stretch to teenage pregnancies. And trust me, I looked at that set-list, they didn’t plan on having an encore . In that sunny happy comedown of having seen Palms play one of the best sets I’ve seen, supported by two bands who will surely dominate the next twelve months, a warm, wholesome feeling emerges in the pit of my stomach, and for once, I didn’t need to shit. Palms are back baby, and they sound fucking sick!

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.

Top 10 Australian Albums of 2013

Whoomp, there it is! Or, to be more grammatically correct, here it is. Because, y’know, you’re reading this off some sort of screen, which is on front of you, and not somewhere else, which is what the preposition of there implies.

Look, I was trying to make a reference to Tag Team’s 1993 smash hit, and smoothly initiate an article about the best Australian albums of 2013, but it failed in a brutal showing of grammatical error. Anyway, as I clumsily try to regain my poise, let me say that 2013 has been a killer year for Australian records. On the International scene, there haven’t been absolutely tonnes of records that have held people’s gaze for the full year, but in Aussie-land, home of snuggies and the ‘ocker’ stereotype, there have been leaps and bounds in every genre available. Its cruel to pick just ten, but here we are, in a state of despair. Woe is I, for we art doomed to live in a state of existential pit of despair wrought by picking just ten albums for lists. Please….empathise.

Super Dooper Special (as in all tied Equal 11th) mentions go to Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, The Ocean Party, Day Ravies, Unity Floors, and Ooga Boogas.

Special Mentions go to Clowns, Amateur Drunks, Standish/Carlyon, Pikelet, The Living Eyes, Golden Blonde, Ausmuteants, The Drones and The Native Cats.

Super Duper Ultra Special Metal Album: Zeahorse-Pools

The sludge! The intensity! The gruel! Its like Jack Black once said in Tenacious D’s ‘The Metal’, ‘…you can’t kill the metal, the metal will live on’. As it does on Zeahorse’s debut record ‘Pools’. Stagnant marshes of filthy reverb and disgusting bass-lines make this a riveting listen, plunging you head first into a swirling world full of blackness and awesome sludgery.

10. Yes, I’m Leaving-Mission Bulb

Not since Fugazi has a punk band come so blindingly close to marrying the intense anti-establishment message of punk with blindingly good melodies. For Yes, I’m Leaving, a band with both an excellent name, a fantastic live show and even greater songs, its just another day making great fucking songs. Yes, I’m Leaving don’t really make a misstep on ‘Mission Bulb’, just chugging out those razor sharp punk songs like they’re a supergroup made from Patti Smith, Ian McKaye, Keith Morris, and Jello Biafra, and the old guy with a sledge hammer on the cover is replaced by Henry Rollins. Perfection!

9. Primitive Calculators-The World Is Fucked

Never have you heard something as vicious and in-your-face until you’ve witnessed the sheer terror of a Prim Calcs track. Finally, after all this time…the band have gotten around to releasing a debut studio album. Its not like Australia’s been waiting over thirty years for this thing! Thankfully, the album paid off like robbing a bank vault Die Hard 3 style, both a physical and emotional pay-off. Not for a moment do the band let up, blasting our brain cells one super charged synth-punk anthem after another.

8. Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys-Ready For Boredom

Another debut record, another awesome band name. You could say its a combination of the previous two entries, but you’d be wrong because the Bad Boys sound fuck all like the other two bands. Instead, they pick up where The Replacements left off on ‘Pleased to Meet Me’-emotionally charged everyman’s rock n roll. It belongs in a pub, three-schooners-down, with one eye on the rugby game in the corner and one eye on its uncertain future. However, if the band can keep churning out the hit factory and overall nice package that is ‘Ready For Boredom’, they should be sorted for a very long time.

7. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard-Float Along-Fill Your Lungs

I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times-King Jizz are the Darwin Evolution theory in practice. Starting out with bare-bones ramshackle rock n roll and slowly developing into the psych rock band we now see a year and a half later. However, they never lost any of the zeal and flavour they had on the ‘Willoughby’s Beach EP’ way back when, and can still manage to excite and boner-ise with their longer stuff as they can with any two minute electric shock.

6. POND-Hobo Rocket

Its a mini-album, deal with it. It was still too awesome to leave off the list. Its over-the-top glam rock, but not as you know it. If David Bowie was gobbled by some sort of psychedelic monster, and laid to waste by a plethora of Wayne Coyne clones, then you might get something as fun, frantic and off the fucking hook as ‘Hobo Rocket’. It dodges, dips, dives, ducks and dodges between all different sorts of vibes and frequencies, a restless creature if you’ve ever heard one. And boy, does it fucking sound amazing.

5. Cut Copy-Free Your Mind

‘Free Your Mind’ can’t really be defined as a return to form because Cut Copy never lost their form (go listen to ‘Zonoscope’ again, and try to feel any inkling of disappointment). Instead, ‘Free Your Mind’ continues the Cut Copy legacy, leaping and bounding into acid-house territory. The Madchester warehouse vibes are certainly there, mingling with the indie pop sensibility that Cut Copy own so hard like I own a massive Sonic Youth poster so hard. You’ll dance, you’ll think, you’ll cry and you’ll dance again, all within the confines of ‘Meet Me in a House of Love’. Isn’t Cut Copy just the greatest invention?

4. Violent Soho-Hungry Ghost

The cover-a skeleton engulfed in flames. Now that’s how you garner some fucking attention. Or, you could just stir up some of the most heart-pounding, adrenaline-inducing, mouth-watering rock songs this side of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. Most of the songs on ‘Hungry Ghost’ are anthems, no doubt about it. Try to listen to a chorus of ‘Hell FUCK YEAH!’ without forming some sort of death circle in whatever location you happen to be in. In completely unrelated news, death by moshpits have gone up 215% in nursing homes that play Triple J. But that’s not all there is to ‘Hungry Ghost’, as the team manage to cook up a couple of heart-warming surprises throughout. More delicious than an angel made of bacon.

3. Palms-Step-Brothers

I guess the reason why Palms are such a great band is because they’re doing something that’s been done so many times before, but putting such an original stamp on it, that you can’t help but do a quintuple take. That’s right, your head will spin a minimum of five times as you try to reconsider your life without Palms in it. There’s so much to swallow when listening to ‘Step Brothers’, but not in a bad way. No, going through this, you’ll be gulping through as much musical content as possible to get all that Palm-y goodness in your spirit ASAP.

2. The Gooch Palms-Novo’s

Speaking of Palms, The Gooch Palms came in with one of the strongest musical entities of the year. However, whilst Palms channel Springsteen, Goochies are all about The Ramones. Bratty, snotty punk, farted out into the willing ears of all lucky enough to listen. However, The Gooch Palms show a surprising diversity, and with the mixture of shameless pop ballads, rain-soaked bummer ear-catchers and leather-jacket FUCK YEWWW’s, you can’t feel bored, even for a second. Rock n Roll runs in the veins of Kat and Leroy and to deny them of that would mean to say that this album doesn’t make you immediately want to strip off all your clothes, run down a highway and spread the word of the Almighty Gooch.

P.S The Gooch Palms and Palms are teaming up for a tour called Palmarama, and they’re playing Oxford Arts Factory on Friday, 28th February. Miss this and perish in a pit of regret.

1. TV Colours-Purple Skies, Toxic River

Surprise, fucking surprise. The album that I can never stop blabbering about comes in at No. 1 on my list of the top Australian records of 2013. Bias aside, if you don’t like this album, then seriously, nothing can be done for you. You are a lost cause. A total travesty of a human being. This album is perfection, a lulling, mesmerising concoction of deadly riffs, lo-fi production, cheesy synths and samples, rolled into a bundle of delights that the world has never seen before. Even though Bobby Kill took two years to make this record, it was worth every minute of waiting for this fucking masterpiece. God Bless TV Colours!

Video: Palms-A Supposedly Fun Thing That I’ll Never Do Again

YEEWWWWW! New Palms video, today is a good day! The song, ‘A Supposedly Fun Thing That I’ll Never Do Again’, is a paradox, because the only not fun thing about this tune is saying the title. Try and say it fast five times. I dare you. Its impossible.

Anyway, the video and song are trademark Palms. Fuzzy good times (an understatement: there is literally a guy trying to crawl his way over the crowd to the stage, such is his love for Palms) a bunch of rocking riffs, a little head banging here and there. Its all there, everything you could want…so sit down, shut up, and enjoy some Palms.