New: Thunderbolt City – Flashback

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Sometimes it can be easy to forget about how great Canberra’s music scene is. I mean, the place is stacked with great bands like Wives, California Girls, Passive Smoke and of course TV Colours, but our nation’s capital never seems to get the same recognition as the EAST COAST BIG THREE™.

Ultimately, I think it’s just a matter of Dream Damage and associated labels maintaining their batting average of 100, and pouring incredible release after incredible release into our iTunes libraries until Gough Whitlam’s re-animated corpse announces July 22nd as National Celebrate Canberra’s Music Scene Day. Until then, smash that mf’ing ‘follow’ button on Dream Damage’s Soundcloud, so you can be up to date with their great releases, such as the debut Thunderbolt City track.

“Flashback” incorporates all that awesome power-pop stuff that was out before I was even a twinkle in my old man’s eye. Even though the recordings are on the rougher side, the thrashy melodies that nod affectionately at Cheap Trick and The Replacements shine through with blistering power, the strutting solos and charging riffs melting into your brain in a way that only a disciple of “Bastards of Young” could pull off. That kind of raw, heaving energy is a perfect example of why folks should stick their heads outside of their local bubble, and have a dig through whatever is brewing in the sewers of Parliament House. Actually can’t wait for this tape to come out next week! Cop it here.

Album Review: Gooch Palms – Introverted Extroverts

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Getting in on the ground level of a band that you go onto love is both good and bad. On the one hand, you get to see them develop from their scrappy beginnings, going from struggling with a couple of chords to unprecedented levels of success. On the other hand, there’s that risk of the band developing further and further away from what made you like them in the first place – The Westerberg Effect, if you will. This is the crossroads that I find myself staring at with The Gooch Palms, one of my all time favourites – on their second full-length album, where they going to make a Let It Be or an All Shook Down?

Newcastle’s Kat Friend and Leroy McQueen have made extraordinary progress since their humble beginnings as proud Novos flogging a Ramones covers EP on Bandcamp; it’s been crazy to see them go from support slots in Frankie’s Pizza to the Enmore Theatre. Their success is well deserved – since relocating to the USA and amidst a near constant touring schedule, their stage presence, (which was already full of Beavis butt tattoos and Twisted Sister covers) has been honed into them realising their potential as one of the most reliably entertaining bands to have called Australia home. So yeah, the live aspect still rules, but what about the new album? Have the Yanks diluted that ragged garage pop spirit that drew in so many eager punters like myself?

NOT AT ALL! Are you kidding me? You doubting piece of shit! Why the hell would you think the Gooch Palms would suddenly lose their magic? Listen to “Tiny Insight” above – that song fucking rules. That track is the equivalent of a 2 Dollar Tequila Night – two minutes, and you’re covered in sweat, shivering and intoxicated, delirious on the elixir of something sweet and jagged at the same time.

Fans of that driving, gonzo punk that propelled The Gooch Palms to cult status will not be disappointed – Introverted Extroverts is full of songs like “Living Room Bop”, “Eat Up Ya Beans”, “If You Want It” and “Sleep Disorder” that showcase that distinct Gooch Palms sound. Cutthroat riffs and throat-shredding chorus’ pure bred for an adoring crowd to belt back into the faces of the two disciples of the Church of Reatard. It’s colourful, inhibition-obliterating stuff – alcohol, with none of the calories and twice the flavour.

However, what’s really precious about Introverted Extroverts aren’t the mad dashes of lunatic garage but rather the ballads that sit pretty amongst the insanity. The songwriting chops of Kat and Leroy have been significantly expanded – although their debut Novos had highlights in the slow-burners “Don’t Cry” and “You”, but the fourth quarter half court shots of “Long Gone” and “Don’t Look Me Up” force you to look at the Gooch Palms in a whole new light. Not only can these guys slow their songs down, there’s none of the holding-up-a-flickering-lighter-anthem strength that coated their debut’s softer moments – these songs are naked; songs of stand alone incredibility.

I don’t think you’d ever apply the word ‘matured’ to the band with a frontman that constantly relives Andrew Johns’ Greatest Hits every time he’s onstage, but I don’t think I ever want The Gooch Palms to ‘mature’. I want them to keep that rawness, that screeching element that forces anyone to drop what they’re doing in fear and excitement. But I also want them to build as a band, to never put out the same records twice. And in Introverted Extroverts, the Gooch Palms have done that. They’re not the same band that I first saw – they’re better.  The Gooch Palms have evolved in the way that you want  a band to involve: without abandoning their roots but building upon them. And in that, they’ve swayed from the Westerberg Effect and landed squarely in the Husker Du Hypothesis: keep the fuckers pleasantly surprised with more the same unexpectedness. Mission accomplished.

Introverted Extroverts is out now through Gooch Palm’s own label Summer Camp Records, and available here. They’ll be swinging back through Australia in a few months time, playing Oxford Art Factory on August 20th, tix here.

Album Review: Police Force – Formula 1

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Punk rock and the police are intrinsically linked – from the early days of cops breaking skulls at Saints’ shows, to classic track after classic track after classic track about the punks’ and pigs’ mutual respect for one another – the embrace between the badge and three chords is a strong one.

Brisbane’s Police Force don’t explicitly state anything about coppers on their tape, but I like to reckon that they’re reflecting the seedy underbelly and corruption of a modern day police force in the way they make music. The scuzz that coats this tape is filthy and repugnant (read: 10/10); the sneer that marks their voices drawls with acidic vigour. In songs like “The News” and “Freaking Out the Squares”, there’s the same kind of blind red-misted fury that you’d see in the eyes of a cop about to beat the living shit out of some 16 year old trying to have fun in a backyard. Only this time, the roles have been reversed – now, it’s the musicians deploying their seething vitriol, using instruments instead of batons and pepper spray.

Simply by utilising what sounds like a few synths, a drum machine and some guitar, Police Force’s  Formula 1 delivers raw and dirty punk, stuff that seeps into your skin and lays a few eggs. 1977-era Martin Rev and Alan Vega would have fucking loved this record. Actually, scratch that – modern day Martin Rev and Alan Vega would fucking love this record.

Formula 1 is out now on Tenth Court Records. Grab it through Bandcamp here.

Album Review: HANNAHBAND – Quitting Will Improve Your Health

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If you’re going to come out of Retirement, it better be for a damn good reason. But hey, I reckon giving your album a title like Quitting Will Improve Your Health will suffice. After reading that title, I rolled around for a decent twenty seconds before my smoker’s cough came through and sent me into a fit of weezing. Is that ironic? Ah, who gives a shit, let’s get onto this album!

There’s a significant step up in the recording quality of Quitting… as compared to HANNAHBAND’s previous albums. Each song sounds a bit more rounded, and the tape hiss that swarmed around their previous releases is less apparent, maybe even completely absent. At first, it’s kind of weird – that radioactive glow gelled so well with their songs! But then, you get warmed up to the high-fi step up, as the songs on Quitting… push through with extra force and spit than ever before.

Opener “Burn It Down” is a perfect example; the vocal push and shove between Nathan Martin’s guttural diatribe against Marnie Vaughn’s soaring chants of “Burn It Down” makes for anthemic listening. Second that motion with the likes of “Bath Arms”, “Grave Semantics” and “29er”- short, sharp and direct tracks that draw equally from Shellac as they do Break Even. The songs wrestle on a bed of throat-burning screams, arse-clenching guitar, and stomping drums that threaten to split open your skull. Each snare is one step closer to a permanent migraine, which is really the only way a drum kit should be played.

Although HANNAHBAND have evolved from their smaller mom + pop operations of before, and transformed into something even more brutal and thrilling, it doesn’t mean they’ve completely left their emotionally raw roots behind. Simply put, they’ve brought those intimate moments to the forefront and then shredded them to pieces through the most exhilarating and howling music that they’ve prepared yet. It makes Quitting… a tight and succinct record, with plenty of punch and drive to see you through multiple listens within the same sitting.

Quitting Will Improve Your Health is out now via Blackwire Records and their own Bandcamp (name your price download) Also, if you haven’t seen ’em live yet, do it. Actually, it’s kinda hard to believe that anyone in Sydney still hasn’t seem HANNAHBAND play before, because they’re essentially the Blackwire Records house band. Anyway, if you’re on of these miracle people that hasn’t had their mind blown yet, HANNAHBAND will be launching Quitting… on the 4th of June. Support comes from Nervous Habit, Canine and Snape, AND the whole evening doubles as a sixth birthday party for the world’s greatest venue!

New: : Miss Destiny – Law and Order

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Every single part of the latest one from Miss Destiny is fucking perfect. It’s headbanger heaven, a song that’ll claw it’s way to your heart, a guitar riff so mean that it’ll put your head through a wall, and repeat the process ’til you’re unconscious and bleeding.

When those growls of “The only thing worse than law is orderer, watch out cos I’ve got something for yaaaaaa!” explode into the ears, it’s the most badass thing I’ve heard in months. It’s guttural and piercing and exhilarating, the coolest fucking thing to come out of Melbourne since…shit, nothing really compares to how raw and bloodshot this song is! Just listen in, raise your goddamn fist, and heave in time to the cruel, unrelenting power of Miss Destiny!

If you do one thing today – make sure it’s that you listen to this song, and then spread it like a goddamn virus.

New: Whipper – Chase the Rainbow

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This new Whipper song is the definition of raw fucking power. Just a pure, brutal, unadulterated, spit-flecked, blood-soaked, pupil-dilated beacon of raw fucking power. There’s not a single ounce of strut or ponce or pout to this song, it just exists as a stirling example of what can happen when a bunch of people who grew up on the unrelenting power of guitars and The Stooges put their heads down and produce greatness.

“Chase the Rainbow” doesn’t fuck around, it just gets stuck in, pummelling your stomach with adrenaline-addled punches of seething riffs that have surely contracted a disease of some sort. Seconds in, it makes you feel like Beavis when he sees a naked flame: “FIRE! FIRE! YEAH! YEAH! FIRE!”. It’s the kind of song that, when those violent three minutes and twenty three seconds have finished, you come to the realisation that you’ve chewed off your lips as a token of your savage appreciation. It’s probably the best punk song I’ve heard since POWER released their disembowelling debut last year.

Video: Naked – Sprinters of the World Unite

12342586_1064247643608040_5733229443607803402_nFuck yeah! It’s nearly Christmas! That time of year when you disappoint your whole extended family with your barely thought out, incredibly dodgy and (let’s be honest) fucking stupid gifts. And then it’s Boxing Day, when you get to eat all of the Christmas ham that your cheap aunt knicked from the butcher’s bin, and you get to drink your grandpa’s home brew, which tastes like acidic shit, but he’s not been feeling well lately, so you chuck on a grin and say, “Mmmm, delicious!”. AND THEN it’s New Year’s, when you get to look back at all the stuff you said you would achieve, and then calculate exactly how far flat you fell, all to the tune of whatever bangers are playing at the fucking terrible New Year’s Party you’re at. Some wanker will count down/bellow obnoxiously into your ear, you’ll make out with no one, and then you’ll go home, wake up, and head to the gym, certain that THIS will be the year that you get healthy, stop smoking, and squeeze into those skinny jeans you haven’t been able to get into since 2007.

Naked’s “Sprinter of the World Unite” is the clip you should play when you first hit that treadmill. As the evils of the night before sweat out of your body, the first three and a half minutes of your fitness regime is soundtracked by some mopey pop with the most inspirational visuals pressed onto a green screen since Sylvester Stallone used digital wizardry to convince people that he could run up stairs in Rocky. I mean, there’s pizza, babies and troll dolls, as well as a song title that’s basically the alternate heading for that movie Chariots of Fire. Is there anything out there even as remotely inspiration as this song/video? 2016, here we come!

New From QLD: Sydney2000 + Donny Love + DRAGGS

a2087001811_10This heat has made it possible to empathise with our cousins to the North. May your air conditioners never break and your football teams only face each other in a Grand Final once:

Sydney2000 – _

Are they referring to our postcode, or to the greatest bloody Olympics of all fucking time? Cathy Bloody Freeman, am I right?

Turns out these guys are from Brisbane, and named their debut EP an underscore, which…fuck, is that an insult? I don’t know? Is Sydney an underscore to Brisbane’s greatness? I wouldn’t disagree with that, Brisbane’s great.

Anyway, who cares, just listen to the bloody EP. A free download of sharp, punchy garage punk, that sounds like Ausmuteants, Witch Hats or maybe The Wipers if they were signed to Flying Nun. When Sydney2000 get completely jilted is when things get exciting: take “Wink”, when the vocals feel like a washing machine with a mental patient and a guitar trapped inside. Round and round and round they go, crazed blasts spinning at the pace of a nice dry finish.

Donny Love – Sultry Visions EP

Cramps-loving swamp rock that opens with a song called “Cosmic Fuckfest 07”, Donny Love sound like they’re pretty much The North’s version of The Pinheads, or Los Tones. If they can prove they’ve got the live show to boot, well then it looks like there will be one hell of a three-way death match coming up on the horizon.

But that’s for the future to worry about. Right now, its time to lie down with some jaunty guitar ripped straight from a Halloween party in Hawaii. This EP is a horror soundtrack bloated with sand and beer, a manic interpretation from a bygone and happier era.

DRAGGS – DEMO

Filthier than The Islander Hotel come Schoolies week, Gold Coast’s DRAAGS prove that kids in Year 12 with fake ID’s and a desire for binge drinking goon aren’t the dirtiest things on Australia’s most terrifying strip. Their debut EP is packed with barrages of lo-fi shredding, each song mere minutes of full-blown garage rock tornados. Every track attempts to out-do the last – harder, faster, let’s beat them over the head even HARSHER this time.

Press play, you won’t regret it, but your bleeding fingers will. They’ll be begging your brain to stop huffing on this gruesome garage punk schlock that keeps beating your hands to a pulp, but you’ll ignore it once more, press play and repeat that brutal cycle until you’re dead and grinning.

PREMIERE: Yes, I’m Leaving – Discard EP

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I first discovered Yes, I’m Leaving through a Reacharound from our dearly departed mates at Polaroids of Androids. Since copping a free download of “Four Chorder”, my dedication to Yes, I’m Leaving has been unwavering; they have got to be one of the most intense and unnerving bands in all of Sydney. Every time they play, the release on display is carnal.

It’s been two years since the release of Mission Bulb, the album that “Four Chorder” was taken from, but the band are re-visiting those sessions with a four-track EP of songs that were left off the record. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s hard to figure out why, because each of these songs is the equivalent of Hannibal Lecter peeling your eye out of its socket for a mid-arvo snack. “Discard Your Heart” and “The Thing” stick out as particularly brutal and venomous pieces of work in the YIL canon, blaring as antagonistically as any of the best stuff they’ve done.

However, in the words of YIL’s frontman Billy Burke, it was just a matter of logistics that these songs were left off Mission Bulb. “They were all part of what we wanted on the album but it became apparent that the songs we had lined up for it were a piece that worked as a full length…they just got steamrolled by the stuff that hung on to their sonic tail.”

Although the songs on this Discard EP haven’t seen the light until now, it’s a token to Yes, I’m Leaving’s talent that even the B-sides can cause someone to chew their fingernails to a stump. These aren’t forgotten tracks, just hit singles that never made it.

I cannot recommend any of Yes, I’m Leaving’s material enough – if you see a copy of a record from their catalogue, snap it up, hold it close, and claw at the face of anyone who even remotely looks like they might take it away from you. Furthermore, their live show is bombastic – they’ll be playing the Petersham Bowling Club next Friday, the 27th, with Reverend Jemima and Clive of India. Not only is this an opportunity to watch one of Sydney’s best in action at one of the finest locations in this godforsaken city, but the gig will also act as a platform to discuss mental health in a casual manner, a topic that’s very close to the band, and myself. If you or someone you know would like to freely talk about mental health issues with people that aren’t snoopy counsellors, but rather just a few legends in a band who know firsthand what they’re talking about, then come down, and check it out.

Album Review: POWER – Electric Glitter Boogie

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Raw Power. You heard of it? You know it. You know it well. It’s rusty, filthy, tetanus-coated, tinnitus-inducing noise. It’s primal, decadent muck that razes the ground it lays upon, inflicting wounds upon all, drilling itself into a bloody corpse. It’s pornographic, indulgent, deliriously basic music driven to its most dangerous extreme.

After releasing “Slimy’s Chains” earlier this year, Power proved that they were disciples of the raw. A stripped ‘n’ thrashed scourge, determined to squeeze the innocence out of an individual’s skull. This was a song that filled you with terror and excitement at the same time, a charismatic source of wicked rock ‘n’ roll. It made me more enthusiastic for a forthcoming album than any other record this year. It got to a point where I had to ask friends to go into Repressed to ask when they thought the Power record would be arriving, because I thought I had pissed off Nic too much with my clockwork questions.

The arrival of ‘Electric Glitter Boogie’ as a fully fledged album has made me want to blow my brains out, because I don’t think there will be another band in 2015 that will provide such an exhilarating take on rock ‘n’ roll. This album will fucking kill you. This album will turn you insane. It will pick at your brains like the Overlook Hotel, but with all the subtlety removed. There are no creepy twins, there is only the constant tidal wave of blood. Every song on this album is an exhausting experience, a battle cry of deplorability, the best fucking thing you’ve ever heard in your goddamn life.

How are Power so good? How could some fucking band from fucking Melbourne be this incredible? It’s because they’re committed, refusing to provide anything less than the most slovenly, mouth-foaming, carnivorous take on raw power since The Stooges. Take the title track, or the album finale, “Power” – the way those vocals are wrangled, screamed into that microphone, there’s an effect there that stays with you long after the cackles have subsided. You’ve just heard an expression so un-diluted by the usual bullshit that pervades rock music that it comes as a shock, albeit an addicting one that murders competitors.

My hands shake as I push the needle back to the beginning of the album, over and over and over again, a manic habit that borders on delirium. I need this album to rattle my brain into an asylum. I want to hear that sneer and that bludgeoning ringing in my ears even when I sleep. Power have created a terrifying, blackened masterpiece that not only bores through to what makes rock music so great but grovels at its feet of it, a slave to a master. This album isn’t just raw, or primitive, or intimidating, it’s all of the above, and more. It’s a painful bombardment of dilated pupil riffs that brand itself into the skin tissue. If you are any sort of fan of music, you will chain this album to your chest, and bury yourself with it.