Album Review: The Men-Tomorrow’s Hits

The Men are the Golden Snitch of amazing bands. Everytime you think you’ve caught onto them, and you’re going to ride into Quidditch success, with all the bling, bitches and Cristal that brings, they slither out of your grasp and chameleonise themselves into a unique and beautiful gryffin. I don’t know how metaphors or the Harry Potter universe work.

It became all too easy to fall in love with The Men on their raging punk debut, but then they broadened their strokes and struck up a post-punk pose with ‘Leave Home’. Their third album continued to be punk rock as GG Allin’s scrotum by incorporating some more influences into the harsh brutality, and their fourth effort took turns between calming down the energy and ramping it up to newfound levels of clusterfuck punk genius.

So, it makes sense that ‘Tomorrow’s Hits’ would be another left turn. The Men have all but abandoned their punk/noise roots for a full album of Americana and bluegrass influenced tunes. What the fuck? Surely every fan will be turned into a retching pile of sadness seeing their former punk heroes go from crafting a brilliantly visceral piece like ‘Night Landing’ to wussying out with acoustic guitars and thinly-veiled threats of incestual sodomy?

Turn away your stereotypes right now, you bigoted, close-minded prude! Sure, that sentence could be an excellent (and accurate) example of hypocrisy, The Men prove to be an outlier of bands that can consistently change their sound and yet retain the magic of what their original fans were keen on. ‘Tomorrow’s Hits’ is an album so chock full of goodness, you could shove your head up the asshole of a vegan that recycles and still not be at the levels of amazing health that The Men showcase on this album.

Think of this-If David Bowie were re-incarnated into being a member of Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Phil Spector circa-Ramones were given production duties, then this is what would have resulted. The album has elements of grandiose and flash to it, and a sincere pop edge, but it’s delivered in a style that’s laidback and comfortingly warm. It’s like Bob Dylan or Townes Van Zandt got a rush of adrenaline straight to their spleens. The result can only be described as gorgeous.

Songs like ‘Get What You Give’, ‘Sleepless’ and ‘Settle Me Down’ are rollicking ballads that unfold at a more timeless place than a Morgan Freeman narration. Then there are high energy Stooges/Radio Birdman-esque romps of ‘Different Days’ and ‘Pearly Gates’. And finally, some good old fashioned twirlers like’The Dark Waltz’.

Initially, The Men seemed like a secret that wouldn’t be uncovered until past their prime, like all the proto-punks from Detroit. But although an album title like ‘Tomorrow’s Hits’ points towards such a future, The Men are a band that are too dedicated to their work of pumping out awesome songs to not be revered in their own lifetime.

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New: The Men-Different Days

If ‘Different Days’ is any indication, and by all that is holy on this Earth do I hope this plays out, it looks like The Men are about to chuck a Deerhunter. If they did that, I would probably erupt in happiness, along with just about fucking everyone else with common sense. The album cover for ‘Tomorrow’s Hits’ shows a neon sign, and Deerhunter’s masterpiece of last year shared that feature, so all looks like a parallel is pulling through.  The Men are renowned for being one of the most versatile of punk bands, and ‘Different Days’ sees the band harnessing their inner Springsteen. Prayers have been answered, this is fucking awesome.

New Australian Music: Prolife + Martyr Privates/Thigh Master + Raindrop + Wolf Cola + The Owls + The Ninjas

Whilst The Great Barrier Reef prepares itself for the biggest natural raping in mankind’s history, and sharks in Western Australia ready themselves for the massacre, there comes the small condolence that Australian Music is still in top form.

Prolife-Gold Leaves

Slug Guts were one of the pillars of Brisbane’s underground scene, so it was a real fucking bummer when they broke up. They managed to make noise music sound interesting and fresh again, and then, suddenly, it looked like things were going to get all fucked up again. From two of Slug Guts’ remaining members comes Prolife, an anti-suicide band. However, instead of shredding noise that echoed with Junkyard-era Birthday Party, we get the Rowland S. Howard experience. Nothing wrong with that, in fact, it only seems logical that there be that re shifting of musical ideology after being immersed in a blood bath of viciousness for so long. ‘Gold Leaves’ is fucking beautiful, just soft, layered mush slowly pressing its corpse against you and hushed, melancholy vocals ringing hollow. The result is a sincere and creepy track that can only be described in synonyms of praise.

 

Martyr Privates/Thigh Master-Split Cassingle

Quick review: get behind both these bands as fast as you can. They are about to very soon become highlights of Brisbane’s underground scene the same way Palms, Straight Arrows and Unity Floors are so central to Sydney’s music group. Seriously, both these bands couldn’t have offered greater singles to this work of art if they tried. This cassette is like the fucking Holy Grail of awesome things that all music lovers could own, right next to Ozzy Osborne’s pubes and Axl Rose’s lobotomised brain.

Martyr Privates are first, and they offer a super ultra dooper cool take on the John Dwyer School of Advanced Garagery. Think super wild overblown fuzz, like a screeching pterodactyl laying eggs on top of your face. Its exposed stoner-fuzz of the highest order.

As for Thigh Master, well everyone knows how much I love these guys. Sassy as Beyonce and local as the kebab shop down the road, these blokes make garage tunes to be danced and cried to. Strung out and bleached beyond recognition, Thigh Master are like that stain that you have on your favourite shirt-technically an imperfection, but one that’s got more character than all the seasons of FRIENDS compiled together.

 

Raindrop-It Goes Off

Now moving onto some stuff that could’ve been demo material from POND’s sessions for ‘Hobo Rocket’. Splashes of psychedelic glam rock, shimmering with the kind of attitude Ziggy Stardust had right before he got devoured by the New Wave scene and not-multi coloured hair. If anything, ‘It Goes Off’ is like a journey, similar to the one’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra ride on. Basically, these are just massive compliments for the debut track from a glorious little Sydney psych band. In three words, it’s fucking good.

 

Wolf Cola-Wolf Cola EP

Wolf Cola sounds like a marketing ploy for a really manly drink. Other contenders for the name were Mountain Lion Pop and Lioness Power Drank. But Wolf Cola won out because its fierce and fast, a lightning bolt to the cock.

Only, the band did away with that sort of marketing bullshit and went with a super chilled cuppa sort of thing, a drink you relax with on your balcony, that’ll put you in a drunken stupor in no time. A mixture of Baileys, Coke and Jack Daniels, on the rocks. Sounds disgusting, but if we didn’t mix random shit we never would’ve gotten the White Russian, and then there would be no Dude.

Wolf Cola (the band) are from Sydney that exemplify that sort of upbeat downer paradox that other bands like The Black Lips, Jay Reatard and Royal Headache did really well, only with a beachy touch that makes it seem like the Beach Boys got together after a month of injecting who knows what. Again, that’s a compliment. The result of Wolf Cola’s debut EP is a mouth agape, drunken howling of amateur rock at its finest. Let the fuzz be turned way up and the bliss release be implanted in all the brains of those lucky enough to be within hearing distance.

 

The Love Junkies-Chemical Motivation

Onto something that swings its dick in your face and smugly begs for you to get fired up so that you can both engage in an old fashioned bar fight, and the bar band strike up an old school Errol Flynn duelling ditty. What a romantic thought and gesture on The Love Junkies part. ‘Chemical Motivation’ is a shock to the system, switching from 60’s smoothness that would have Fred Willard all flustered and mumbling, it engages into a hyperspeed, Nirvana-ish chorus that is an inch away from making you shit yourself. Dat brown note.

 

The Owls-Krakow

For those that like Kasabian comes a Newcastle band that twist some Snowdroppers and Gay Paris on that formulaic shit. The Owls are ready to sleazily move themselves into a level of rock music that only The Hives have really achieved, namely high-energy ballads that make you want to stroll through a manor and box with Daniel Day-Lewis. ‘Krakow’ is the sort of long, strung-out thing that blows minds with the energy of Krakatoa.

The Ninjas-Kill ‘Em All

Look, a chord for chord replication of Metallica’s masterpiece would’ve been nice, but this Velociraptor-ish single fromThe Ninja’s is a radio-ready, rock track that cuts the bullshit to make way for the solo’s. Big, heavy chorus, drooling Cribs-like guitar-Noel Gallagher, Julian Casbalancas and Johnny Marr would be probably be all over this band. Keep up these kinds of smash singles, and I can see The Ninjas supporting The Strokes all around the world.

New: Community Radio + The Harry Heart Chrysalis + Melt Yourself Down + Bunny’s A Swine + Pop. 1280 + Purling Hiss + Speedy Ortiz + Astro Children + International Karate

More new songs here than I have failed romances. Hell yeah for trying! On a serious side-note, I’ve been trying to get this article published for ages, so there’s quite a few more ‘new’ songs than there usually would be. They’re all mad sweet awesome though!

 

 

Community Radio-Wildflower (free download)

Straight off the bat, and we’ve got something new from a band that has a name that’s damn impossible to find on Facebook. Community Radio are from Surry Hills (yay!), and they make the most melancholy of dream-pop (yay!). In the same vein as The Ocean Party and Ciggie Witch, ‘Wildflower’ comes off Community Radio’s new EP, also called ‘Wildflower’. Now, although my only association with flowers is that its the shit I have to buy when I fuck up, Community Radio make it sound a little more expansive and cool, especially with that delectable bass line. Awesome shit, especially because its straight outta Sydney, sounds great, and its free!

Bonus Fun Fact: Cameron Emerson-Elliot, the guy who’s responsible for this little bit of magic, is also in Songs (wow!) and plays in Youth Group.

The Harry Heart Chrysalis-You Are Not A Rarity

 

At first glance, ‘You Are Not A Rarity’ comes off as a lovely, even quaint track. It bumbles along like a stream in the forest, as anyone who comes across it is pleasantly charmed. But once you really listen to the lyrics, the track reveals itself to be more cynical than the usual acoustic number usually is. Lyrics like “If I could take you anywhere, I’d take you off my mind…there’ll never be a next time”, the embittered nature of the track appeals itself a fuck load more than the average folk-y track does. It has the same poignancy of ‘Little Lion Man’, a quietly ferocious track that hides itself amongst some beautiful guitar. Let’s just hope that The Harry Heart Chrysalis keeps pumping out the good tunes, and doesn’t go the Mumford way of embodying the douchey frat guy who plays ‘Wonderwall’ at every party.

Melt Yourself Down-Fix My Life (Ribongia Remix) (free download)

 

And, as soon as I lowered your heart beat, I’ll raise it right the fuck up again. I’m like some sort of cruel God, aren’t I? My tool of power comes in the form of a recent remix by Sydney bass maestro Ribongia. The song in question is a bit of an older one, one of the first singles from UK based acid-jazz-funk freaks Melt Yourself Down. Whilst the original track was enough to pour acid into the crevices of one’s brain, the remix adds a tension and heaviness that is rare nowadays. Without getting carried away, the track still sways with a jungle fever, like a track that would be played right before an ancient tribe removed the bones from your body in cannibalistic sacrifice.

Bunny’s A Swine-Hot Water

 

Swinging into the usual contingent of new garage rock, its Northampton band Bunny’s A Swine. Unlike NOBUNNY, the only other bunny related garage band I know of, Bunny’s A Swine are like a Canadian version of the usual ferocity associated with amateur rock. They slide around in a polite but direct manner, and it makes for some great slacker vibes, a la Built to Spill. Hell, ‘Hot Water’ could come on at any college radio station and have half the staff immediately bopping their heads along. A great treat!

 

Pop. 1280-Machine Trauma

Pop. 1280 have a name inspired by a Jim Thompson crime novelWith just that bit of information, you can already tell that the band will either be really awesome, or a gem of pretentiousness. It seems like a bit of a case of hypocrisy, coming from the most pretentious man-boy on the planet, but hey, I’m the one writing. Anyway, I trust Sacred Bones Records to only sign the best bands, and once again, they prove to be one of the most forward thinking labels in the world. ‘Machine Trauma’ is a third-The Men, circa ‘Leave Home’ era, a third-Golden Era Dischord, and a third space punl. Powered by a drum machine, swirling reverb and absolutely zero fucks given, ‘Machine Trauma’ makes you want more Pop. 1280 like I want more people to pay attention to me (a hypocrite and a narcissist, I’m a psychologist’s wet dream).

 

Purling Hiss-Lolita (free download)

Purling Hiss once again show that with a great name, comes great responsibility to kick ass. Featuring one of the most powerful, Black Sabbath-y riffs since ‘Paranoid’, Purling Hiss also manage to add some power-pop to their usual brand of noise-metal. Yes, ‘Lolita’ is unusually cleaner than their previous output, but truth be told, I’m digging a Purling Hiss song where I can hear the instruments intertwine with each other like the badass cobras they are. Actually, they’re more badass than that, the sound is more like cobras that wield twin-machine guns. Yeah, that’s how badass they are. Anywho, there’s guitar solo’s abound on this track, and the deep bass groove remains awesome as ever.

https://soundcloud.com/carparkrecords/speedy-ortiz-everythings

 

Speedy Ortiz-Everything’s Bigger

Although fresh from a debut album that was put out last year (have to keep reminding myself that we’re in a new year), Speedy Ortiz are going at it again with a new EP. ‘Everything’s Bigger’ is the first single from the EP, and it shows that they’re moving into a Sleater-Kinney pattern more so now than ever. There’s still The Breeders on there, and the Pavement twang, but now there’s a slight snarl in the chords and the quiet-loud formula is so very grunge. And we all know how fucking great grunge was. Love this track, can’t wait for the EP to show its pleasant face.

 

Astro Children-Eden (free download)

More female-led rock that makes you want to get up and start a band a fraction as good as the one you’re listening to. This one comes via a mate Ian, who runs Fishrider Records over in New Zealand. One listen to this, and you’ll realise why I’m always going on about how New Zealand may or may not have a better pop scene than Australia. Far-away, shoegaze dream-pop that smacks you upside your pleasure centre, it reminds of Opposite Sex mixed with Beach House. Under the flowing breezes, there’s some anger there, and I fucking like that. If you had any sense in your brain, you’d like it to.

 

International Karate-Survive (free download)

International Karate are a band from Minneapolis, and they play straight up and down indie rock music. There’s not that much more than can be said about them, and their brand new track ‘Survive’. Oh wait, fuck, yes there is! It’s a brilliant rock track, a catchy hook fest ripped right from the Teenage Fanclub handbook. If you can’t get into the groove and headbanging potential that this track is offering in abundance, there is something actually wrong with you. Its the kind of thing that indie bands used to play, before the Yeah Yeah Yeahs became really popular, and every hipster in New York who owned a guitar decided to write bad poetry and add mandolins to whatever song they were working on at the time. The basic nature works well with the whispered vocals, and allows the guitars to do their job to an extreme. Awesome shit.

New: The Men-Turn Your Color

The Men are one of the most volatile, prolific and unpredictable punk bands of recent history, owning a sound that is teeming with individuality and reeking of sweat, beer and genius. Which is why it comes as no surprise that they have decided to record an album mellower than five day old piss.

‘Turn Your Color’ is a brand new track from their new record (and second release of the year). Man, ‘Turn Your Color’ is just a stunning track, quietly musing in its own wise way, like Willie Nelson humming to himself. Don’t worry, there’s still a dramatic nature to the track, with an overarching chord giving an unsettling piercing to the otherwise completely tranquil track. Another interesting thing the band have done is lose almost any sense of vocals, and the ones that are used are so quick and quiet, you would hardly know they’re there.

This new direction for The Men is more calming than being surrounded by four thousand peaceful elk, and it is safe to say that ‘Campfire Songs’ will be along a similar vein of awesome.

Video: Crystal Stilts-Star Crawl

You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a purple snail race another purple snail. Crystal Stilts help you cross that off your bucket list on their new video for their absolutely stunning song ‘Star Crawl’. The song itself is a beautiful drawling thing that cascades with stonerific wonder, like a fountain of THC guitar. The video backs it up with fucked up scenes from nature, both tranquil, vibrant and highly hallucinatory. All round amazing.

New: Crystal Stilts-Star Crawl

The second best band to have Crystal be the first word out of a two word, four syllable name have just released a new track ‘Star Crawl’ in preparation for the upcoming album ‘Nature Noir’, out on Sacred Bones Records. As you’d expect with a song called ‘Star Crawl’, it’s an astronomical slow-burner, a drugged out and blurry eyed hobo on the space shuttle to work. This is less Terminator, more Dune, less Aliens, more 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s the kind of shit you’d play when you’re hitting that one year mark on the rocket ship, you haven’t seen any bangable aliens in light years, the star systems are getting boring and Captain Kirk’s annoying the shit out of you. Oh yeah, and the coffee machine’s about to break. So you chuck on ‘Star Crawl’ and everything seems like it might be okay after all.

By the way, for anyone wondering, the best band to have Crystal to be the first word out of a two word, four syllable name is Crystal Castles, but only just. For relativity purposes, Crystal Fighters are a long fucking way behind.

Video: Destruction Unit-Sonic Pearl

If Washed Out wasn’t what you were looking for, try Destruction Unit. They’re a crazy metal/pysch band from Arizona, which makes sense, because there’s fuck all else to do in Arizona besides go out to the desert, take a lot of drugs and and make awesome music. Fittingly, that’s exactly what they do in the clip. If you feel like simulating having your brain peeled back by a shotgun, put on this song. It’s just a dick tease of what’s going to come out later this year on Sacred Bones, however this song can be found on a 7 inch by Suicide Squeeze Records in 3(!) days.