Album Review: POND – Man, It Feels Like Space Again

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Fuark, would you look at that album artwork? Ben Montero, you’ve hit it out of the park…looking at the new POND album, without even having heard a song, you can tell that you will enjoy this album. One would have to be a cynical dick on par with a reincarnated Albert Camus who’s decided to become an editor at Pitchfork. And even then it would still be hard to resist the pull of an album cover so brilliantly exuberant. Rockstars and rocket ships combine in a crowded watercolour that would have Monet slashing at his shitty waterlilies. Damn, Montero, you sure know how to do a fucking album cover.

But what lies beneath the album cover. Sure, there’s been plenty of great album covers, and shitty albums. But never fear, because POND know that if they’re gonna have the gonads to hire Ben Montero to do the best album artwork ever, they better come prepared. You mess with the bull, you get the horns, or something to that effect.

Put bluntly, ‘Man, It Feels Like Space Again’ is a triumph. It oozes and pulsates with the sort of fucked up nonchalance that only an act like POND can pull off. There’s so much genuine oddity that unfolds over the course of the album that you’d never doubt for a second that Nick Allbrook, Joe Ryan and and Jay Watson are total freaks, but it’s so goddamn loveable that it feels like you’ve made the best new friends you possibly could. It’s like striking up a conversation with a hobo that offers you acid, and finding out that it’s just a dishevelled Jim McGuinn.

The freak flag flies high on the album, as guitars noodle, basses throb, synths signal the end of the world as we know it, and drums plod along with their eyes closed and grins plastered right across their heads. But then again, they always have, ever since the days of “Psychedelic Mango”. This time around, there is a lot more confidence, coherence and belief between the three that they are doing a really great album. They offer diversity, manoeuvring between surefire soon-to-be POND classics like “Zond” and “Outside Is The Right Side”, to something more experimental, like the acoustic Dylan-esque crooner “Medicine Hat”, and the warmly sci-fi “Waiting Around For Grace”.

The ability to flip between crowd-pleasers and introspection, and never lose the ability to write a really great song – that’s what makes POND the album that we adore. There’s hardly a falter or misstep, and yet each track feels uniquely its own. Put on “Zond”, and those squelchy blasts of flamboyantly-fucked guitar will force your limbs into all sorts of wacky angles. “Outside Is The Right Side” will have you strutting down the street like Stevie Wonder, throwing the moves like Patrick Bateman. And then, you can dissolve into bliss as the theatrics fall behind, and something like the title track takes you on a spiritual journey, the sort they only promise in cults.

POND have outdone themselves. They’ve presented us with something that looks, tastes and smells as organic as someone’s body odour after a week living on mushrooms in the Amazon. But enough exposure to some of the shit that psych can throw at you shows that this is a carefully plotted album. The production is spot on, not as squeeky as a Chilli Peppers album circa-2001, but not dirty enough to play a show in a basement of the local punk club. “Man, It Feels Like Space Again” rips into the stratosphere, on the search for new territories, and thankfully manages to bring along every listener for the ride.

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Video: POND – Zond

Is there anything quite as batshit crazy as POND? In their video for “Zond”, they are freakishly on point. It’s like Wayne Coyne teamed up with Frank Zappa and David Bowie, and all the freakiest shit from their minds was channelled into a single video and song. There are many elements to “Zond”, from mind-melting bouncy guitars, to ecstatic chanting, to pools of endless squelchy fuzz.

But it’s the video that’s the real mind-fuck. Directed by Johnny McKay of Fascinator and Children Collide, it comes off like the introduction of the weirdest fetish porn ever. Nick, Jay and Joe are wrapped in things from blow-up pool toys, low-rent spacesuits, and retirement home costumes. Meanwhile, the effects and Ben Montero backgrounds that are injected here create a hyper-reality that I don’t think anyone can be prepared for.

Holy shit. ‘Man, It Feels Like Space Again’ is out on January 23rd. POND are playing Laneway, and a sideshow at Oxford Art Factory on Thursday, 5th of Feb.

Video: POND – Elvis’ Flaming Star

POND have always been a band with a penchant for the theatrical song titles. “Betty Davis (Will Come Down From the Heavens to Save Us” anyone? But this time round, “Elvis’ Flaming Star” is a succinct and powerful name, in the exact same way the song in question is.

Once again POND are stretching themselves into another gooey form, a psychedelic shapeshifter, and this time round, they’re like Saturn’s version of David Bowie. That’s not just because of the alien goggles and barrage of coloured slime in the video either. They’re euphoric and funky, breaking the rules in a glammy and extraordinary way the same way Bowie did way back when. And they’re doing it in this completely alien fashion, dissolved and freaky sounding from the core. Chuck that “Bohemian Rhapsody”-like roller coaster theatrics next to a video of VHS madness consisting of nature beating the shit out of man, and POND’s galavanting return is a welcome one. They make psych music not boring, and that’s a feat a lot harder than it sounds like.

New Australian Music: The Preatures + POND + King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard + Pirates Alive + Horror My Friend

In celebration of ‘Straya Day, where everyone in the nation gets drunk and berates the Hottest 100, I compiled a bunch of awesome new tracks by some of this nation’s finest. And then I delayed the shit out of posting it. ‘STRAYA!

The Preatures-Better Than It Ever Could Be

In my own opinion, The Preatures released the best pop song of last year, with their single ‘Is This How You Feel?’ coming in at #9 on the Hottest 100. That’s just one of the many accolades that particular song has received, but because they are by no means a one hit wonder, The Preatures have gone ahead and released another song entitled ‘Better Than It Ever Could Be’.

I feel like this is kind of a reaction to the band’s year in 2013. It was basically the best year a blossoming young band could hope for. And to celebrate, they penned a song that showcases what they do best: a shimmering, loud and happy pop track. It reminds you of a Cocoa Cola advert done by Blondie or something. A giant bottle of coke explodes like a volcano, and Debbie Harry rocks sunglasses and the sun shines, and everyone is impossibly happy. Because ‘Better Than It Ever Could Be’ brings that image to mind, it gets a 10/10.

POND-Colouring the Streets

Motherfucking POND. Is there any other band quite like them. The short answer is no, because they are a shapeshifting group of wizard musicians, and you’d be a fool to fuck with whatever powerful elixir pumps through their veins.

Even though they released a record last year, the jizz-inducing ‘Hobo Rocket’, they’ve released a brand new track for a compilation, the song being ‘Colouring the Streets’. This track tends towards the softer psych side of POND, the Slowdive-counterpart to the balls out Bowie that the band are more well-known for.

Don’t worry, the reverb drenches this bad boy like a squirting porn star, and the jizz-levels are still at an all-time high. So, really, there’s nothing more but to let yourself drop into that coma in the only way a band like POND can.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard-Vegemite

How fucking ‘Strayan is this!? It’s a song that’s chorus goes ‘I liiiiiiiikkkkeeeeee Vege-miiiiiite!’ over a thunderous, psychedelic platter of instruments. And its executed by one of the finest bands this side of Sabbath.

That’s right, the eight-piece monolith King Jizz are at it again, having announced a new record and pushing ‘Vegemite’ into the world to be the first taste of said record.

Despite the ‘Annoying Orange’ set up of the video clip, ‘Vegemite’ rules harder than Uncle Chopper riding a Chopper (motorbike) into a Chopper (helicopter) whilst T-rexes clap politely in the background.

Pirates Alive-Love Drunk

Whilst King Gizz alternate between a whole bunch of styles, Pirates Alive are a go-to garage band for me. If ever I want to hear some back to basics, super-simple surf rock, Pirates Alive are one of my first ports of call. See what I did there? Hueh, hueh, hueh.

Anyway, ‘Love Drunk’ reminds me a fuckload of ScotDrakula, Step-Panther and Dune Rats. There’s  just casual riffing, an emboldened bass line and an Aussie slacker accent tying it together. The chorus of ‘Ah’s is a technique that’s used in pretty much every garage song, but when something remains as fun as it did since the 60’s, why the fuck would you change it?

Basically, ‘Love Drunk’ is the summer garage track that’s missing from your life right now.

Horror My Friend-Nothing

And now, for some spidery but striding post-punk from Radelaide. Horror My Friend sound a bit like Die! Die! Die!, which is another way of saying they sound absolutely fucking rad.  It’s also a little bit back-in-the-day emo, circa Taking Back Sunday, without all the cutting yourself imagery.

Their new single ‘Nothing’ combines toe-tapping high-hats with a sludgy bass and climbing guitar riffs. And then that chorus hits, and you have an intuitive feeling that if you’re not moshing, even by yourself on the toilet, then you’re wasting your time, and you should be listening to a Greatest Hits by Michael Buble instead.

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!

New: GUM-Growin’ Up (free download)

GUM is one of the many, many projects associated with Tame Impala, that small band from Perth that fucking blew the world away. This time around, the project is from Jay Watson, who does keys/vocals in Tame, and has kicked a bunch of fucking goals with POND.

Just like the name would suggest, GUM’s music swirls around and around in your mouth, penetrating you with flavour, and making you slightly more kissable. GUM is sticky, tangy and you can never get enough of it. Also, smokers (the ‘herb’ kind) love GUM.

‘Growin’ Up’ is not all that different to the other songs that Jay has put out under the GUM name; sighing, mouldy psychedelica that hits all the right nerves. And because it hasn’t changed all that much, there’s no reason to not like it. Thanks for the free download!

Video: POND-O Dharma

This video is so trippy, it makes a bender at Woodstock look like math class at a Republican high school. Grainy retro footage of the band in fluffy white shirts mucking around in the forest, whilst soft psychedelic music revolves around the video like an epileptic around a strobe light. There’s this awesome part where there’s an epic guitar bridge and Nick Allbrook headbangs, looking like he’s an extra from The Walking Dead. The sonic blooming sounds whilst the stop motion photos of nature flick at an extraordinary pace is fucking awesome as well.

Album Review: POND-Hobo Rocket

ImageThis is the album that I have been waiting with baited breath for, for quite some time as well. POND, for those that don’t keep up with Perth’s psychedelic scene with the precision of myself (shame on you, lift your fucking game), are a collective of musicians that are all linked by their unabated prowess at rockin’ dicks off, and blowing minds. POND is made up of Nick Allbrook, Jay Watson, Joe Ryan, Jamie Terry, and Cam Avery. Because I don’t think I’ll be able to drop it in later, here’s a bunch of the other bands that these guys play in, which are more worth checking out than that new Seth Rogen movie: Allbrook/Avery, The Growl, Shiny Joe Ryan, Mink Mussel Creek, Gum, and The Silents. I hear Nick Allbrook’s solo shit is also worth a geez. Anyway, BACK TO THE HOBO ROCKET-CAVE!

‘Hobo Rocket’ is everything you could want in a loud, friendly, abrasive, grinding psychedelic album. It’s more forward thinking than ‘Bitches Brew’. Yes, I just compared a explosion of pysch flavour and colour to a jazz magnum opus, widely considered to being a landmark in musical revolution. So, maybe I could perhaps be overstating the importance of ‘Hobo Rocket’. However, I will firmly stick by the statement that it is one of the most important rock records released this year, and one of the best records released in recent Australian music history. Better even than the two Tame Impala records. Yes, in my eyes, POND have succeeded the role of little brother to Kevin Parker, and graduated to the top of the pile. A bold claim, sure to confuse, if not anger plenty of people. But hear me the fuck out you enthusiasts of the righteous pysch, as I lay down a few reasons why ‘Hobo Rocket’ might just be the coolest thing to hit your ears in a long time.

Everything on ‘Hobo Rocket’ is executed with a total unabashed flourish, and gnarly pomp. It’s a gruelling, gruesome and gargantuan visitation through time, the sounds on display warping and freaking out with vicious continuous griping. It’s a record that never stumbles, only focused on being as loose and insane as it possible can. It swaggers around in a daze of pot smoke and neon lights, shitting where it pleases, and never feeling the need to apologise or explain itself. It’s straight up fucking glorious, and the best part is, it doesn’t even try a bit. Its the king of the castle, and the dirty rascal, and, to quote ‘O Dharma’, ‘…and if you motherfuckers don’t like it, you can get out’. (mark my words, this will be the next ‘Mind Mischief’, only cooler)

Now, analysis time. I’m sure you’ve already heard the glory of ‘Giant Tortoise’, the lead single from ‘Giant Tortoise’ that came out a couple months back, and if you haven’t…have you been living under a rock, man? The fuzz and massive power is put to the test, and it succeeds in every way possible. Storming riffs marching their way to victory, Pink Floyd intersecting Black Sabbath in the middle of a orange-tinged cocaine binge. It rhymes, therefore it must be true. If ‘Giant Tortoise’ is old news for you, then you’ll hopefully know about ‘Hobo Rocket’s’ other single ‘Xanman’ as well, which is David Bowie on crack. With the amount of explosive jazz hands that spring to mind when listening to ‘Xanman’, its what I imagine Hunter S. Thompson would perform if he went to Mardis Gras. ‘Xanman’ is the kind of track you want to play on your 30th birthday when Jim Carrey explodes out of a cake, and does a strip-tease with his neck. By the way, somebody make that happen. Somebody make that happen now.

The weird names and boggle-eyed sounds don’t stop at the pre-released single though. Album opener ‘Whatever Happened to the Million Head Collide’ answers its own question, a firecracker and a half that alights everything you thought you knew about psychedelic music with a vengeance. ‘Aloneaflameaflower’ brings things down after a hefty 15 minutes of junkie fuelled pysch excitement, and the weird and wonderful introspection of POND is put on full display. The title track shows the kind of fucked up sense of humour and skewed taste of the band; a drunken, gargled rambling delivered by the Aussiest cowboy ever, accompanied by the sounds of Satan throwing up after a big night out. Oh, and the closer, ‘Midnight Mass (At the Market Street Payphone)? That’s where shit goes from transcendental music, to something that shifts more than the plot of Lost. It transforms time after time, jumping from drumming hellfire and demon-possesed molten guitar, to wet and pleading Albrook-ian deliverance. It may just be the best anti-ballad ever written.

POND have cemented their place as Australia’s cool-as-shit band. If mid-80’s Jean Claude Van Damme listened to music, it would be this. Agonisingly enjoyable, pulling you in every direction like an execution of the senses. I can only reiterate that ‘Hobo Rocket’ is probably the most important release of this year, and that this review most definitely does not do it justice. 7 songs, 5 members, infinite amounts of drug-induced jam sessions, and 1 thick, juicy record. Go and fucking buy ‘Hobo Rocket’, the future of music depends on it.

If you liked POND, and pysch, you might dig this essay I wrote about the topic, called ‘What the Fuck Is Psychedelic Music?’. It’s better than burnt brownies, which is to say it’s not that great. POND haven’t announced any tour dates yet, but my money’s on Homebake and Falls.

FREE COMPILATION OF AMAZING AUSTRALIAN MUSIC

http://iohyou.com/coming-up-not-down-vol-ii/

If you read the title, well that’s more or less everything I have to say about this. Melbourne label I OH YOU, home to Snakadaktal, City Calm Down, DZ Deathrays, Bleeding Knees Club and Violent Soho have just put out a compilation of the best up and coming Australian artists. You can find  tunes from Sydney garage bistro-bros Straight Arrows, and the equally exclusive Palms, as well as some soothers by Ta-ku (feat. Chet Faker) and Worlds End Press. Also, just so everyone knows shit’s serious, the comp. includes soon-to-be-world-dominators POND. So yeah, it’s free. Why aren’t you downloading it?

The Difference Between Indie & Interesting-An Essay

There is a facet of music that has annoyed me, and countless bands, for as long as popular music has existed: being pigeonholed. There is nothing worse than slaving over a piece of music, crafting a melody or a rhythm, re-imagining a sample, toiling on lyrics until you wake up in a pile of your own vomit from how amazing your poetry is (not speaking from personal experience), and proudly releasing your gift of musical beauty into the world…only to have it thrown back in your face as a categorised, labelled misconstruction, to be tossed up on a shelf with a bunch of bands that everyone will associate you with from now until when the Titans inevitably rule the Earth. Take the case of The Preset’s ‘My People’, a dance thumper about, I shit you not, boat people. However the political nature of the song was misinterpreted as a party anthem, and was shat out in all the clubs across the country. Or The Clash’s ‘Rock the Casbah’, a highly satirical song that viciously tore into the government, that has been reduced to being the song your parents awkwardly shuffle to in the living room. No, pigeonholing sucks balls. I’ll admit, that occasionally in reviews, I take a creative license and compare a band to something that might not spring to everyone’s mind when they here the song, such as when I recently compared X-Ray Charles to Beat Happening and The Modern Lovers. However, this is my website and my opinion….soooo, yeah fuck you  if you take personal offence to my comparisons between bands that I find have musical similarities for broader identification.

However, this is not simply about subtext or great bands past their heyday; this is about the highly negative effects of pigeonholing, namely throwing in bands of actual worth with the dreaded pseudonym of indie, or hipster depending on your cultural geography. It’s a brand that has a certain sting to it, one that recalls pasty kids in buttoned up floral shirts and way too tight pants, spouting how they ‘knew about this band before anyone else’, typing a post-romantic dramedy novella on a Macbook pro in a delicatessen on Broadway whilst sipping a flat-white cappuccino. Click here to visually comprehend if Lucifer was more of a douchebag. Although, for me personally, that doesn’t look like an astoundingly fun person, and they come off as rather cynical and two-dimensional, these indie scum do exist. They are the ones who scan Pitchfuck daily for bands they can worship before actually hearing anything, who single handedly keep Pabst Blue Ribbon in vogue, and made ridiculous clothing ‘cool’ (who the fuck likes fedoras?). But by far, their worst crime is the diluting of the indie genre.

Now before I continue, I would like to point out two things. Firstly, the inspiration for this essay was ‘How Did Indie Get So Safe’ on Fasterlouder by Edward Sharp-Paul; it’s a great, short essay (shorter than this one anyway) and it’s better than the majority of things you’ll read, besides Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Secondly, I’m about to insult a whole heap of indie bands that I find personally shitty. I understand that music is subjective, and this is not an argument about your personal music tastes. However, if you are one that enjoys the superfluously repulsive sounds of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Two Door Cinema Club, or Last Dinosaurs, I suggest you stop reading. Or not, you might find your new favourite band amongst those I find incestuous. Isn’t critiquing wonderful?

Anyway, there is a major problem with Indie music: it is too broad and too bland. When someone screams ‘OMG THIS BAND IS SAH INDIE’, it’s hard to know what they actually mean. Are they talking about Animal Collective, with their rich, multi-textured palettes of soundscapes, or the statistically terrible The Apples in Stereo? Did they mean Midnight Juggernauts’ pandering new album or Fugazi’s furious 1988 debut EP? It’s hard to know anymore. Then, there are so many sub-categories and niches, all with the title of indie slammed onto the front like an awkward boner sticking out of an 8th Grader’s pants: indie-rock, indie-pop, indie-electronica, indie-punk, indie-folk,indie-hip hop, indie-chill, indie-kill, indie-shank, indie-wank…the list goes on, and only about half of those are made up. Personally, you can chuck Phoenix, Passion Pit and Peter, Bjorn and John anywhere you want in there, it won’t change the fact that they’re shit. Most of these bands, despite declaring themselves indie, pander to a mainstream demographic. They play the dress up game and Domino Record Contract card, but the statistics speak for themselves. Vampire Weekend debuted their third album at no. 1 on the US Billboard Charts. Mumford and Sons won The Grammy for Album of the Year for ‘Babel’. Boy & Bear picked up 5 ARIA awards for their debut album, and will probably destroy the charts again this year, when they release their second album. Please, please do not misinterpret this as me saying that because these artists are ‘mainstream’ that they are shit. I’m merely pointing out that they have incredibly derivative music that in no way challenges the listener like independent music should. 

This brings me to my actual point, and I’m kind of sorry that it took so long to reach this statement. There are a fuckload of good bands out there that are getting thrown in with that indie tag. Just because a band is independent does not make them indie anymore. No, the cohesiveness of that identification got thrown out a long time ago, as soon as Interpol and The Strokes started getting popular. Both these bands are pretty good in their own way, however once they started and the indie ‘genre’ got picked up, about a million different bands started mimicking a sound and aesthetic similar to theirs that was in no way original, but was regardlessly hailed as being the next big thing. How many times can you open an NME or Rolling Stone and find them hailing ‘The Next Big Indie Thing’? Sure, it’s lovely for the band, but it has ruined all traction for the term indie. Initially, when the ‘indie scene’ popped up in America and Europe in the 1980’s, there was a certain amount of respect that came with the title. As Michael Azzerad’s biography of the 80’s indie scene, ‘Our Band Could Be Your Life’ describes, it was fucking hard to be indie. Bands like Black Flag and Dinosaur Jr. had to fight tooth and nail to get any exposure. Now, when the word indie pops up, all I can imagine is some Grizzly Bear sound-alike that will inspire absolutely no regard from anyone but the NME. Not that it matters too much to the band anyway, because they’re probably slathered in cocaine and bitches. Some bands, like San Cisco or Grouplove even come like pre-pacakged indie goods, ready made for the ‘indie addict’. However, it does matter to the independent bands that get slapped with the title of indie and hauled into a case of anonymity. There are now so many bands nowadays that consciously pander to the indie Triple J masses, that when a genuine band that comes around that happens to be independent and good, they are promptly blasted with ‘indie cred’, frothed over for approximately a week by hipsters, and then dropped by their ‘diehard new fans’ and left abandoned and disenchanted by their old ones.

There are a whole crop of new Australian acts that are legitimately interesting that I am fearful will get manhandled by indie-ness. Aussie Bands like Beaches, Dick Diver, Bleeding Knees Club, Royal Headache and Bored Nothing are all in close proximity to being swept in viva la indie, and promptly tossed into oblivion. Likewise, there’s international bands such as DIIV, Beach Fossils, King Tuff, and Savages who could suffer the same fate. For others, such as the cases of Flume, CHVRCHES, Tame Impala and Jagwar Ma, it’s probably too late, and it’ll only be a couple years before a ‘throwback’ reunion tour. This is fucked. Totally fucked. Firstly, because all of the bands mentioned above are bright young talents. It’s too early for them to go. It’s before their time. Secondly, these bands are not indie, and could be easily defined by other genres, if at all. Finally, it’s not fair to compare them to a band like Jinja Safari or Ball Park Music, each leaning strongly on obvious influences or mediocrity. The bands at the beginning of the paragraph are all highly interesting, highly capable acts worthy of a different attention that eschews Arcade Fire and Death Cab for Cutie Fans. Save your Augie March for when you’re bored on the bus. If you want something of captivating interest, check out Holy Balm, an electronica act that breaks all the rules of electronica. Or Ausmuteants, a band that could simply not give less of a shit. Or even Kirin J Callinan, the previous guitarist for Mercy Arms, Jack Ladder and Lost Animal, who recently tried to make a guy have a live seizure on stage at Sugar Mountain Festival earlier this year, all for the sake of art. These bands are all independent, Australian, and most importantly, interesting. They are not a bunch of acts to be randomly lumped in on an ‘indie playlist’ with the likes of Swim Deep or Father John Misty.

It’s 4 am on a Friday, and I don’t even really know what I’m saying anymore. Perhaps when I review and edit this tomorrow, it will make more sense. Perhaps it won’t. What I’m trying to say is this: I’m not going out of my way to insult the music taste of all the hipsters out there, I’m sure Snakadaktal’s debut album will be awesome. What I want to prove, like the Fasterlouder article, is that indie music has gotten quite safe and uninteresting, and I think that it has to do with the wide variety of ‘indie’ music, and the sea of music that most won’t bother to uncover. Indie isn’t indie anymore, that’s the problem. And if you try to make something not indie into indie, it will most probably get totally buried. Instead of hash tagging #indie to every band you hear on Triple J, perhaps take a listen first, and then figure out if they actually sound like The Postal Service and Modest Mouse, rather than just being new. And instead of buying the new Foster the People, spend your money on the new POND and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard albums. It’ll pay off in the long run.