Album Review: Popstrangers-Fortuna

Sophomore slump, la de fucking da. We get it. The first album ruled, and now you’re out of ideas, out of money, and the record labels crawled up your arsehole. Instead of taking some time, and actually making something worth listening to, you’ve pumped out a token ‘radio hit’, and built up 11 songs of filler and utter shit. It’s a tale as old as time itself.

Nah, Popstrangers were always going to be better than that. There will be no random radio junkie bullshit on this second outing. And it certainly can only be described as an outing. The songs on here stretch far and wide, a fucking pasture of guitar reverb and jittery drumming. There is still the same sonic overload that they showcased so well on their debut record, but now it’s tighter, and more focused, less fucking noodling.

Now, when Popstrangers are playing, everything has a purpose, and they’re definitely going somewhere. Of course, there’s always going to be an exception, and things can become mildly placid (‘Her’), but the overarching thesis is that ‘Fortuna’ is strong, and confident.

That’s right, I’m forming a thesis around ‘Fortuna’. A goddamn thesis. Fuck, what has university done to me? Anyway, the point remains that when Popstrangers pull their guns out, and drop guitar bombs, they can’t help but achieve the kind of lossless devoted attention the Reid brothers loved. Lead single ‘Country Kills’ is a perfect example-the swirl of Popstrangers psychedelic melts into crashing, rough choruses that could muster a resonance with a festival crowd.  Furthermore, ‘Tonight’ goes for the jugular, Flying Nun jangle evaporating into damn guttural guitar squallor. Shit, ‘Right Babies’ doesn’t even fuck around with easing in the listener, and goes hard out with a spine-snapping, eight-legged guitar riff.

And even though I’m obviously a frother over Popstranger’s more bolstered stuff on this album, the quieter stuff is pretty amazing too. Opener ‘Sandstorm’ hits all the right notes on its way to a pretty orgasmic finish, and the closer of ‘What’s On Your Mind?’ could be the perfect track to forlornly gaze after unrequited love to aka every single romantic pursuit I’ve ever experienced.

Overall, ‘Fortuna’ shows that Popstrangers have grown anything but shy. They’re experiencing with some loud chorus and barrel-chested guitars, whilst losing none of the homely, endearing factors from their first album. And there’s certainly more than enough shoegaze jaw-droppers on here to make the average Slowdive fan gasp in amazement. Good stuff, Popstrangers, come over the pond whenever you feel like, and dash my brains out with you tunes.

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New: Parquet Courts + Popstrangers + Makthaverskan + White Lung

Today’s edition of Ryan’s jizz-tastic explorations is brought to you by the genre: FUZZ. Also, none of these bands are from ‘Straya, so there’s that as well. So many connections, this article feels more like The Matrix than a boring blog post, amirite?

Parquet Courts-Sunbathing Animal

In my own humble opinion, Parquet Courts are the kind of band that the world needs now. Fuck love, we need Parquet Courts. Luckily, the band are never shy of releasing material on a constant basis. Since ‘breaking’ with their official debut record ‘Light Up Gold’ in 2012/2013, they’ve released an EP, and are gunning to release a new album in a few months. ‘Sunbathing Animal’ is the title track, as well as the first taste, and in typical Parquet Courts fashion it doesn’t let up. It’s more furious than Vin Diesel being denied another access to the weights room/steroid lab, and is full of tangled, cross-eyed guitar. There’s the usual speeding, finger-flipping stream-of-consciousness lyrics, and overall, Parquet Courts fail to disappoint. Fuck Parquet Courts for being unable to suck shit.

 

Popstrangers-Country Kills

Popstrangers blasted out of New Zealand with their shoegaze laden debut, but they’ve swapped it for some more straightforward rock on the first single from their upcoming sophomore.And when I say straightforward, I mean a zebra-striped, peeling guitar riff that sniffed the acid residue from an Unknown Mortal Orchestra orgy, and then a chorus of head-bopping, cruise-controlled infectiousness. And of course, there’s a mushy psych guitar solo in there, because it wouldn’t be a decent Popstrangers track without one.

 

Makthaverskan-No Mercy

I always wondered if Savages ever lost their viciousness, would they still be any good? Deadset, some random band from Sweden answered that question, and have created a post-punk masterpiece. It starts out like any Jesus & Mary Chain/Joy Division/Sisters of Mercy sound alike, the deep bass ruts providing a sturdy, swirling pedestal. Then the vocals start, and your heart melts faster than a chocolate fountain. As the song swoons on the precipice of perfection, there’s these gorgeous little guitar interludes, and you want to die and live in a place where this song exists as a currency. “Hi, can I grab an apple?”, “That’ll be two spins of ‘No Mercy'”. Wouldn’t that be the best alternate universe ever?

White Lung-Drown With the Monster

And to finish, some screeching, caterwauling punk from Vancouver’s White Lung. These guys are so brutal and knife-edge they make Crocodile Dundee look like a pussy. They command and strut with this new song, always careening on the edge of oblivion and blown-out eardrums. If this isn’t punk rock finesse, then obviously you’re an Avril Lavigne fan. Party on sk8r boi.

Video(s): The Creeping Ivies + Popstrangers + Alex Cameron + Buzz Kull + Touch Sensitive/Ego + Wave Racer

I don’t know about you, but the way I like to spend MY Friday nights is by watching music video after music video before falling into a tear-stained, square-eyed coma for up to twelve hours. Sounds pretty fun right? Well, now you can join in with me as I show off a bunch of music videos that are pretty great. The theme for this segment is ‘awesome’, and there’s the stream of thought that goes from rock n roll party soundtrack, down to the more introspective, and back up to some dastardly thumpers.

The Creeping Ivies-What Would Joey Ramone Do?

The Creeping Ivies are from Scotland, which is why its so damn weird that they sound like an inverted version of The Gooch Palms. Stand up snare? Check! Addictive, amateur guitar? Check! Snarled, simple and badass lyrics? Check, check, check!

Their brand of garage punk is a well-worn path, but The Creeping Ivies do it so damn well, and with such passion, that its better to let it go, and enjoy the flogging of brain cells and encapsulation of awesome that is The Creeping Ivies.

For the film clip, a bunch of old timers in exasperation get all up in arms at the question every punk has asked themselves: WWJRD. Would Joey Ramone piss on that business man minding his own business in the street below? Would Joey Ramone eat four-week old garlic bread? Would Joey Ramone go that Creeping Ivies show at [insert decrepit junkie shit-hole of a punk rock bar here]? Of course he would, he’s Joey fucking Ramone, and you should dare to follow in the footsteps of one of the greatest frontmen in history.

Popstrangers-Rats in the Palm Trees

The video for Popstrangers latest single has arrived, and as expected its as flourishing and hazy as their music. Popstrangers became well-known for their unique brand of fuzz that isn’t quite surf, isn’t quite noise and isn’t dream-pop. Instead, they threw out the rule book and combined all that shit for some gloriously good times. Their track ‘Rats in the Palm Trees’ is more catchy than a case of crabs at a Venereal Disease Convention. As for the clip, you can expect some gorgeous shots that you probably won’t be able to pull your eye away from. In fact, you’ll probably get straight up immersed. Yeah, I went there.

Alex Cameron-Happy Ending

Alex Cameron’s ‘Jumping the Shark’ is the Album of the Week, and hot on the heels of the release comes the video for one of the eight amazing songs on that album. Like the song itself, the video is orgasmically 80’s. Basically, if Kevin Bacon from Footloose became a nervous-wreck, he’d probably turn into the character portrayed in the ‘Happy Ending’ clip. But, true to its title, there’s a happy ending for the protagonist after all, as he shuffles his way to purple-tinted, smoky ecstasy.

Buzz Kull-Bedroom Highs

Finally, someone that agrees with me that sunshine is for freaks! The haphazard, Frankenstein-monster of New Order x The Cure that is Buzz Kull’s new video clip shows a distorted view of what will happen if you lay on a tanning bed for too long. A wheel of colour constantly flickering in the video’s spectrum, and drunken double-images will fuck with the viewer to no end. If this was the latest video clip for Kings of Leon or something, it’d be the final nail in the coffin. But for a doomy, melancholic track from a band at the forefront of the new noise scene, (graduates include The KVB and The Soft Moon) well, it couldn’t be more perfect.

Touch Sensitive & Ego-#VJuke

Look, I’m not even 100% sure what’s going on here, but I’ll try to translate to the best of my ability. I think  Touch Sensitive (‘Pizza Guy’) and the visual artist Ego teamed up to create a track based off of submissions from Instagram, all sourced from the hashtag #VJuke. Truly, a sign of our times. But all doubters must be cast aside, as this video is a testament of what can be created once a moustachioed wonder tells you to do it. The product in question is the extremely groovy and danceable ‘#VJuke’, a track that buzzes like a bee on cocaine. As for the video, well, its an audio-visual sensory experience. Who knew that a bunch of morphing, multi-coloured shapes could be so transfixing?

Wave Racer-Rock U Tonite

Finally, one of the most promising up and comers on the Australian dance music scene, its Wave Racer’s official clip for ‘Rock U Tonite’. A ball-busting, hip-thrusting, nail-biter of a track if you’ve ever heard one, ‘Rock U Tonite’ throws its weight around to an extraordinary degree. Basically, you can’t help but dance to this track. And when combined with the disturbing acid-dream regurgitation that is the video clip, the song has already become a staple in your mind. Those trickling beats combined with the pulsating, vibrant nightmare of a video? Too fucking good.